you don't have to do all the things.

In high school, I was on the swim team and ran cross country and track. People always asked me why I picked such boring sports and consistently wondered what I thought about during the long workouts. I always told them the not-so-exciting truth: I did math in my head. I'd take my splits and divide them by the distance I'd run. Or I'd find different ways to flip the yardage in the pool around in my head - if this, then that, with math. 

I guess I didn't really dispel their perception that I'd selected boring sports?

I started swimming on a team when I was four and didn't stop until my sophomore year of college. Many of my childhood memories revolve around the pool and the smell of chlorine can still elicit more positive memories than any other scent besides my childhood home. For a while, I think I felt more comfortable under water than above it.

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After swimming for so many years, by high school, I was able to do a lot of different races. I could sprint a 50 freestyle if I needed to just as easily as I could grind out a 500 (which, for those who don't know about swimming, is a big mental difference). For a while, I constantly competed in different races - distance one meet, sprinting the next. It wasn't until later in my career that a good coach finally forced me to specialize. He started having me train for primarily distance races, understanding that while I could sprint if needed, it was better to develop my slow twitch muscles more thoroughly. 

I thought about this recently as a client mentioned she was struggling to specialize in her career. She is really good at a lot of different things. What a gift! Right? Right. But, it can also be really overwhelming. You can wind up pulled in a lot of directions in your career. Also, a lot of people will want you to be on their nonprofit boards and business councils and run their clubs.

When you're good at a lot of things, people would like your help with a lot of things. 

I guess I wanted to tell you two things, dear readers, in case you share this same situation with my client:

1. Just because you're good at something doesn't mean you have to do it.

Different seasons of life call for different commitments. Some seasons are for leading, some for following. Some are for caring for others, some are for letting yourself be cared for. We are not meant to do every thing in every season. We must harvest & rest. When we let go of something, we make space for something else. You cannot be everything to everyone all the time. 

2. It's OK to say no.

Do you want me to repeat that? It's OK to say no. It took me until I was pretttty much 30 to believe this enough to act upon it. You don't have to make up a reason, either. You can just be honest and tell someone: I'm sorry, I am just not up for that right now. I believe in you and want you to know I support you. 

I've learned (mostly through therapy) that there are two types of people in this world: people who have boundaries and people who don't. When you tell someone with boundaries that you aren't able to commit to something, they'll say: OK! Thanks for being honest with me. And thanks for believing in me. Someone who doesn't have boundaries might not be so gracious in their response and it's simply because they aren't giving themselves the same permission to say no. We can only give to others what we first give to ourselves. 

Dating After a Breakup

I'll never forget the date. It was March 20. He broke up with me on the phone while I stood in the driveway of my parent's house. As the words came out of his mouth, I felt like the entire world was rushing by and I was standing still. Like waves in the ocean were crashing into my body; the water whooshing past in the form of his horrible words and my brain screaming for him not to say them. Yet, inside me felt completely still. 

I went inside and, as calmly as I'd said goodbye to him on the phone, told my brother, Sam: he just broke up with me. And then I burst into tears while Sam hugged me and his best friend from college stood by. I have two sisters, I totally understand, his friend told me when I apologized, years later, that he had to go through that first day of tears with me.

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I always say you should get an exit interview when you break up. It feels like you're getting fired from the relationship; evicted from the life you knew. Don't you deserve the chance to ask questions? 

The obvious questions came first: After almost two years of being oh-so happy, what changed? Didn't he think I deserved an in-person breakup after, ya know, 663 days of being together? Not that I did the math or anything. 

Then the harder questions came: Did he not find me interesting anymore? Did he not think I was pretty? Did he not like kissing me? Am I boring? Am I annoying? Am I too nice? Not nice enough? Does he think I'm fat? Doesn't he think I'm hot? 

My mom always says the best thing, after a breakup, is when you move from sad to mad. It's when you stop feeling hurt, like there is something seriously wrong with you, and start to think maybe, just maybe, he wasn't perfect either. Get mad! She told me one day on a walk in May, when I was still crying about him and wondering what I'd done wrong. I want you to get just a little bit mad at him for a second. Even if it's fleeting, she encouraged. But I love him! I told her as I cried in front of a neighbor's daffodils. 

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You begin to move on.

You process through the sadness and the madness and then, eventually, you realize you're doing OK. Things are a little better. You are feeling like yourself again. You can eat and laugh and enjoy a night out with friends without constantly thinking of him, hoping and praying he'll text you to say sorry.

But then you see one of his friends. Or, perhaps, you run into his mom. Or see an old photo of you two from a year ago, when it was your grandma's 80th birthday and everybody in your family loved him - even your grandpa, who never loves anybody! You crumble. You cry on your bedroom floor, looking at the photo, talking to this little picture: why did you do this to me? You ask the photo. Why did you throw us away!?

You're annoyed after that because you thought you were over him and, as it turns out, he can still control your emotions. What you forget, in the moment, though, is that these moments are fewer and further between. They still hurt and that's OK. You're a human, not a robot. It's OK for things to hurt, as much as we don't want them to. 

But you're doing better. Little by little. Each day. 

People email me most often about relationships and breakups. The question I'm regularly asked is this: how do you get back on the horse? How do you start dating again? How do you trust that the next guy won't change his mind like the last guy did? 

I always pause for a long time when people ask this because it's such a tender, personal question. It is so hard to start dating again. My first date after this guy - let me tell you - it wasn't pretty. I agreed to go on a date but wanted to meet there because, you know, serial killers. I cried on the entire drive there. Can you even imagine how my makeup looked when I got to that little Mexican restaurant? 

The best thing you can do, I think, is to be as gentle as ever with yourself. Remember, you're not getting back on the horse right away. First, you're just petting it. Maybe after a little while you'll walk along side it. With a little more time, you might be able ready to take it for a ride, but it takes a lot of time. 

Nothing is more important, when it comes to healing, than listening to your needs. 

Keep reminding yourself that you are beautiful and loved. Be your own biggest cheerleader. Remind yourself daily that it gets easier. Remember each morning that you're better off today than you were yesterday, because you're further along in the healing process.  

I believe in you. I know you can get through this. 

In solidarity,
Whitney

Five Things I'm Loving

1. We recently got this rug from Target and I am loving it. It's brighter than the image shows online, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it. It's very easy to vacuum and someone already asked me if it was Anthro. Wahoo (:

2. Grapefruit margaritas. Wham! My cousin, Allie, was in town a few weeks ago and introduced me to them. They are so refreshing! Here's how she makes them:

- 1/2 glass Pure La Croix
- 1/2 grapefruit (juiced in, but keep the chunks)  
- A splash of Grapefruit Juice
- Squeezed lime
- 1 shot tequila
- Jalapeños (I like 2-3 slices without the seeds)
- Cayenne pepper to taste

They're such a good spring drink!

3. Every Man Jack Body Wash in Eucalyptus. Is it weird to talk about my body wash? Hm. We got it at Target and it smells wonderful. It's dye free, cruelty free, GMO free, gluten free - and, although it wasn't free, it is cheaper than other body washes of its kind. We're loving it!

4. Be Green Dry Shampoo. This stuff! It immediately jumped to the top of my favorite dry shampoo list. It is very effective and makes my hair look so thick. It is the #1 dry shampoo on the EWG's list, too. Not to mention it somehow makes my top knots better. Sometimes I feel like top knots take a lot of finesse, but this stuff makes my hair just want to be thrown on top of my head.

Be Green sent me the dry shampoo to try and I will absolutely buy it again. Although it is a slightly higher price point, since it's a powder, it will last a lot longer than sprays. 

5. We have been making Parmesan Turkey Avocado Burgers lately and they are delicious. It is actually my most-ever pinned recipe. All of those pinners can't be wrong, guys! They are worth making. They are very simple but people will think you're fancy because of the avocado INSIDE the burger, yep! 

Have the best weekend!