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2017 Highlights

We don't grow when things are easy. We grow when we face challenges.

Anyone else feel that 2017 brought a lot of 'growth' put it mildly? I do. Heaping loads of it! 2017 was ROUGH to say the least: Herniated disk.

Broken jaw.

Medical bills.

Job loss.

Loss of pets.

Loss of a close family member. November, well, so much crap on national and personal levels. Birthday Burglary.

And to top off the year, a little debit card fraud.


Here's the thing: I know it's not easy to be in the muck and say,

"It's just an opportunity to grow."

But what I did find easy to do was to recognize a few things about myself.

2017 presented some new adversity for me - I faced some new obstacles that I had never faced before. Loss of pets: I have experience with that, sadly. Loss of close family members: I have experience with that too. (Much more than I would ever wish on anyone!) Broken jaw: not that I have experience with this exactly, but dealing with physical injury, yes. It's the obstacles that are new that can really offer insight, because when you don't have any past experience to reference you really don't know how to handle it or how you will handle it.

For instance: Birthday Burglary.

Call me lucky, but I've never been burgled before. Until now.

I came home from work around 2:30pm one afternoon and noticed the front door wasn't closed all the way. The security screen was - locked also, but the front door wasn't latched shut. I entered the house and noticed the medicine cabinet was open. That's odd too.

So I sent Eddie a text that read, "Hey, did you come home for lunch?" He works a mile away so he will come home from time to time. His response: No.

At that point I noticed every drawer and cabinet in the kitchen was open.

I then called him and said, "You need to get home. Someone was in the house."

Then I waited outside.

It was the oddest feeling: heart racing, but not panicked. Uneasy, but not scared.

He came home and we cautiously walked through the house together.

In the living room both of our laptops were on the table. Tablets were in the 'electronics' basket along with fancy schmancy headphones, and all sorts of gadgets.

Then we walked into the bedroom.

That's when things got real.

Everything had been gone through. Every drawer emptied. Every box opened. Every card and letter and well wishes from the year had been read.

As we continued through the house we quickly realized ​​that the burglars spend quite some time inside. Every file in the filing cabinet had been riffled through. My lunch box was taken out of the freezer and opened. Every small trinket, knickknack, crevice had been searched.

What was missing? Jewelry, cash and a bottle of booze. Checkbooks were intact. Passports were intact. All the fancy gadgets and electronics intact. But my jewelry had been sorted through single piece by piece. Only 'the best' to be taken. Same for Eddie.

Here's what I learned: I really don't care about 'the things'. Neither does Eddie. We've both said that for a long time. BUT, until now, we've never really had to come face to face with it. Does that make sense?

Now, that doesn't mean we weren't upset! I told the investigating officer, "I feel silly crying over a few rings and necklaces while people's homes are burning down 15 miles away", but the feelings are real. Feelings are always valid! Eddie, cool as can be the entire time.

(Here's where the coaching stuff comes in...)

The day after the burglary Eddie was summoned for jury duty (amazing timing, right?!), and half way through the day he text me and said, "THEY TOOK MY DAD'S WATCH!"

My heart sank.

When he returned home we chatted about it. He was visibly upset. I asked him a few coaching questions.

L: So, what are you feeling? Can you name the emotion?

E: Angry. I'm so angry.

L: Do you feel it somewhere in your body?

E: On my back. Like, my hackles are up.

L: Is the feeling a color?

E: Black.

L: Ok, so I'm hearing your hackles are raised, the color is black, and you're angry.

E: Yes.

L: Ok, now this can be difficult, but what need isn't being met that's manifesting in anger?

E: They took my Dad's watch!

L: What that sounds like to me is connection. Connection to your Dad.

E: Yup, that's it.

See, Eddie's Dad passed away a few years ago. He gave Eddie this watch and said, "Fix it. Keep it." And those stinking jerk burglars took it! I felt the same way about the jewelry they took from me. A ring tied to my Grandma who's passed. Two rings tied to two big moments in my life. A ring my Momma gave me that was hers. A necklace Eddie gave me. Now, I'm fortunate that my Mom can give me another ring. Eddie said, "I'll get you another necklace", but that's not the point. The emotions are tied to the moment. The connection to the moment. And now that physical representation is gone.

So I say to Eddie, "I understand. I hear you. What we have to remember is that the memories of those people and those moments are still with us. The watch, the rings, the necklace don't diminish those." These are things we know, but once we can tap into the need not being met it's easier to accept or move forward.

Now, what I found really interesting was that the basic human need of safety wasn't an issue for either of us. Yes, we have moments - we respond to sounds a little more intently - but for the most part we feel safe. It's the emotional. The sentimental. Our need for connection. Not things. Self Lesson #1.

Self Lesson #2 - Here we go.

November was a big ol' new experience to say the least. I have zero reference for dealing with this. A national, worldwide, and so very personal 'scandal' that none of us saw coming. If you don't know what I'm talking about: GREAT! But I doubt that's the case. Google my last name and see what comes up. (But don't actually click on the articles - let this bs die, please.)

I'm sitting at work on a Tuesday morning and suddenly get a few messages saying, "OMG - I just saw the news. How are you? The family?"......what?

So I do a google search and I find 'the news'. I am beyond grateful that I work in such an amazing and supportive environment, because in this moment I fell apart. I brought myself to my feet, walked into my boss's office, and started sobbing. I handed her my phone and fell to my knees. She read the headline, put my phone down, and just hugged me. When I caught my breath, I asked her, "What do I do with this?" She said, "You need to text your sister in law". She coached me through what to say. For the next two weeks, I tried to make sense of everything knowing, a deep profound knowing, that none of this was true. Not. One. Bit. But, that doesn't matter. The damage has been done.

I'm not going to dive into details here - it's not my place to - and frankly, I don't want to do more damage with misinterpretations (because taking things out of context seems to happen quite a bit). But here's what I will say. 1) Half-truths and partial stories can be twisted into anything. 2) The press has no desire to paint a full picture (or to hear any sort of alternate character defense - literally hanging up on people. They only want sensational). 3) There are undoubtedly horrible actions going on in Hollywood. This is not even remotely close or in the same realm.

As Elizabeth Hurley Tweeted: “Yes, he flirts and tells risque jokes — but so do I”. NOT EVEN CLOSE.

But I digress.

What this experience has taught me: Values.

My family has always been a high priority to me. And, as my Dad drilled into my brothers and me, "friends are family and family is everything". My Marine father also preached hard work, duty, and honesty. Your word is your bond. You get the idea. The strongest of all of these: Loyalty. By environment, nature, nurture, I have these same values. It's a strong family trait. :)

Now, have you ever found your mind reeling from an encounter, an interaction, a situation that you just can't compute? It could be a fight with a spouse, an encounter at work, or even that stupid movie you saw. No matter what you do, you just can't stop replaying it. The thing is: the brain will find 'proof' of whatever story you're telling yourself. It obsesses. That's what the brain does. Guess how much replaying my brain was doing? 15 years of first hand interactions with people who we considered friends, who were in contact long after contracts, who spent time with our family at cook outs, celebrations, and holidays - having nothing to do with work. All of these articles being written about someone who's been my hero since as long as I can remember.

The only way I could quiet my brain was to coach myself through it.

Can I name the emotion I'm feeling: Anger. Sorrow. Disgust. It really depended on the thought pattern of the moment.

Did it live in a location? Gut. Deep in my gut.

Color? Red. FIRE RED.

What need isn't being met? Community. Respect. Fairness. Equality. Transparency. Authenticity. TRUST.

Most of my values had been completely undermined in one swoop: hard work, honesty, authenticity, fairness, and most importantly, loyalty.

It's hard enough when you have a value of high importance and a person you care about, or a friend, doesn't reciprocate that value. This however, was completely diminishing, ignoring, eradicating these values on a public forum. And when one of those values is loyalty, and those actions are being done by 'friends', the fall is twice as hard. It cuts twice as deep.

What this experience has made so very clear to me is where my values lie. Loyalty is a top for me. Can it be to a fault? Sure. Every virtue can be a vice.

But I will defend my brother and his values to the very end. Honesty and fairness are two more values. This trial of public opinion is a dangerous slope. What happened to 'promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth'? I am not ok with, 'tell partial truths as long as it suits my story' (honesty) especially when paired with 'decide the picture we want to paint and ignore anything that doesn't pair with it' (transparancy). If we want fairness and honesty we have to be fair and honest.

Am I still processing all of this? Yup. Of course. Am is still angry, and sorrowful, and disgusted? Yup. But running it over and over in my brain doesn't change what's already happened. I can only control how I react to it. By focusing on my values and needs I can calm my brain from replays.

In Conclusion

2017 dealt some massive blows. I can't control that. All I an do is get up and keep going. I choose to move forward knowing my values, myself a little more, and letting them guide me in 2018.

Onward and Upward!

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