On having a soft heart

I’m a carer.

By that I mean that I have said–in complete seriousness–that my goal in life is to make sure that everyone is well fed, tucked in at night and knows that they are fully and completely loved.

There was actually a phase in college senior year when I started forcing friends to go to sleep (They were doing senior projects, and it was necessary). And yes, I tucked them in and reminded them it was just work and it would be there in the morning.

But I’m a carer. I have a terribly soft heart for the world, and were I able to, I would Mother anyone who needed it. It’s just–how I’m wired.

Some people think that having a soft heart makes you weak.

All you need to see to disprove that is to hurt someone I love.

I will take.you.down.

Some people think that being a carer isn’t valuable.

Being a carer is literally how we keep this world running. Without carers, we wouldn’t have functional adults (and I think the lack of functional adults shows we need to start valuing this role more). Without carers, no one would hold your hand when your about to be wheeled into surgery. Without carers, there’d be no one to rock your babies to sleep with as much love as they do their own. Carers are the front line in how we make this world and the people in it a better place.

Some people think that you have to be a parent if you’re a carer.

Dude. There are all kinds of ways to love this world (I personally plan weddings and rock babies that aren’t mine to sleep on Sundays). You don’t need to be a parent to be a carer. And if you want to say otherwise, I will take you down because my Aunt Betty was the best carer ever and she had no children. Shut up and sit down.

It’s just…I’m a carer. It’s how I’m wired. I love being a carer. I love loving people.

Hug the people in life that take care of the world. It’s a tough, often thankless job.

And really–who couldn’t use more hugs?

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Birthdays

About once a decade or so, my birthday falls on Easter. It’s kind of like being a leap year baby, but with far less frequency.

The first time this happened was my 9th(?) birthday. It was also the day that my Father baptized me, so it was really really special.

The second time this happened, it was my 20th birthday. Which was nice, because 20th birthday are kind of–anti-climatic (in the States at least where being able to order a pint legally is still a year away). I really don’t have any idea what I did that day, except that I took a super cute picture with Jessie (Which I can no longer find!!! WAH!) and that it led to the epic quote from Julia (?) that “Jesus is going to steal Sarah’s thunder!”

I also remember looking at when the next time this would happen would be, realizing I’d be 31, and thinking that I’d be so old. (Excuse me while I laugh hysterically)

So I’m (almost) 31. And you know–I don’t really feel that much different than I did at 20. I’m married, I have carved out a very weird job(s) for myself, but…I don’t think I have life any more figured out now than I did then.

So tomorrow, I’ll rock crying babies (nursery volunteer for life) and think about how many many moons ago, my Dad baptized me. How many moons ago, I celebrated with amazingly good friends who are much further away now, but still epically amazing friends.

And I’ll think about how very very loved I am. By my friend and family, of course. But mainly by a good and glorious God who loves me in my brokeness. Cherishes me despite my sinfulness. Who constantly says “You, my daughter are loved. Just as you are. Fully and completely loved.” And I’ll sigh a deep sigh and smile.

HIMYM

I have a theory about the How I Met your Mother series finale.

If you loved it, you don’t believe that there is only one soul mate for each person in the world.

If you hated it, you’re a love at first sight, one perfect soul mate for everyone kind of person. (Basically, you’re an early series Ted)

I loved the finale. Because it was so perfectly HIMYM. HIMYM was a sitcom, but it wasn’t a traditional one. And I think that they hid it so well, that people tuned in expecting a happily ever after sitcom kind of finale. And what they got was a HIMYM finale.

HIMYM wasn’t just a silly little sitcom about a dreamy romantic dude and the friends who tried to help him through his often ridiclous romantic issues.

HIMYM was a dramedy sitcom about a group of friends growing up together. But Carter and Craig hid that layer of the show so well that you could watch it as a tradational laugh track sitcom about love.

Think about it with me for a second.

During the course of this series (in no particular order):

1.  Everyone cheats or is cheated on (except Lily and Marshall)

2. The most romantic guy ever has his world rocked when his parents tell him they got divorced…like two years ago. Because despite the fact that they loved each other, they were too fundamentally different as people to make it work. (which is a recurring theme of the series)

3. Everyone but Barney quits or gets fired from a job because they weren’t happy, and then have to deal with the fall out.

4. Marshall’s father dies and he falls apart.

4a. Barney finds his father and really falls apart.

5. There are many many “Come to Jesus” talks (For those that don’t know a come to Jesus talk is where you sit someone you love down and say “I love you. You’re being an idiot. Here’s how you fix it.)

This is not Full House or Boy Meets World where there’s always a lesson at the end of the show and tragedy happens off stage. This was not a tradtional sitcom.

This was a show about life. And in life people die. Love isn’t always enough to make a relationship work (RIP Robin and Barney). You can have more than one great love. You can spend your life wondering if the one got away was the one. You make stupid mistakes and play games with people’s hearts on purpose and unintentionally. You realize that dreams are hard. Parenting is tough.

But the beautiful thing–what I loved about HIMYM–is that even when you’re drowning in a storm of sucky life issues, if you have friends–if you have people who love you–you can get through it.

So I guess HIMYM was a love story. But it was a love story of friends.

Loss

Recently, my grandmother–my last living grandparent–died.

And in the aftermath, I was telling someone “It’s different for me. I’ve spent my entire life losing people that I love.”

And that really got me thinking.

Because it’s true.

I have spent a lifetime losing people that I loved. Starting when I was 4, when I lost my Grandpa who was the light of my young life.

And maybe that rewired something in my brain. Maybe losing a pillar in my life that young–and continuing to lose people every couple years my entire childhood—fundamentally changed the way my brain works. Because it would explain a lot.

I never really thought about what my life would like past about 30. Because on some level, I never expected to be here. (Friends and family who know my penchant for getting myself into the most ridiculous life threatening situations will agree it is a miracle that I am)

I once had an entire conversation with my dear friends and college roommates because it genuinely blew my mind that they would want to keep in regular contact with me when I moved overseas for a year. We had several conversations that were them (very lovingly) telling me things like “Sarah, if you go to the ER you need to call us” or “Sarah when your family member develops cancer, you can’t tell us that and stop replying to calls because we will worry.”

Because for me–people will continually disappear from your life. It’s just—a thing. It happens.

I am well acquainted with my stages of grief and crisis mode because it’s happened so many times. I have had a plan for how to handle my parents deaths since I was a teenager. I don’t expect to always have people in life. Because it’s never been true.

I don’t say this to garner sympathy or because I want people to feel sorry for me. I have a blessed life. But I really think that maybe all of the ways that I approach life and relationships stem from this basic principle that I absorbed as a child. People will leave you. Nothing is permanent. And if that’s true–how do I unlearn that?

 

“I choose to love you”

In case we don’t know each other–to say I was a bookworm growing up is the understatement of the century. To paint a picture, I was the kid who got in trouble for reading my book under my desk during class. (Look, I was bored, and done with the class work. No regrets).

And in my childhood church growing up there was a library. It was nothing fancy–just a room off of the pastor’s office that basically operated on the honor system. There was a lot of theology books, but there was also a lot of Christian Fiction books that I regularly checked out and read (frequently even during service–sorry David)

One of them was a book by Karen Kingsbury. It was the first in what became a whole series about this family from the Midwest. I don’t remember a lot about the plot, but one particular line stayed with me–and honestly helped shape how I view marriage.

“I choose to love you.”

This character (one of the daughters) was going through this awful time in her marriage. If memory serves her husband had an affair and she was (naturally) wrecked. She was agonizing over what to do, and while I don’t remember how they got here, I do remember that at the end of the book she and her husband are talking and they basically say this:

“I choose to love you. Every day I will wake up and choose to love you. No matter how much you’ve hurt me or what you’ve said or if I feel like it. I will wake up and choose to love you”

(Also, while this sounds kind of terrible–he had an affair, and she just forgives him and says that she’ll choose to love him no mater what–I promise it made sense in the context and that it was a mutual thing borne out of love and respect–this wasn’t a woman being walked on)

That statement just blew me away.

And at 12, it helped shaped how I saw relationships. My love for you is not dependent on your action. I can hate what you did and how you’re acting and still choose to love you and show you love.

In fact, I requested that this be in our vows on my wedding day. That’s how they ended–I choose to love you. Because love to me, is a choice. I wake up every day and choose to love my husband. Even when he drives me crazy. Even when he says something hurtful. Even when I don’t feel like loving him. Love is a choice that we make. I choose love.

On being socially clueless

I am socially clueless.

The first time I became aware of this was in 8th grade when a (girl) friend of mine had to explain to me-in great detail-why other girls were offended when you walk up to them and (as a greeting) say “Hey Buttface”*

Thus began my knowledge, that there were “rules” that I just didn’t get.

It’s hard for me to explain what being socially clueless is like, because I don’t know what it’s like to be socially clued in. But I can tell you what it feels like. **

It feels like you’re in a foreign country where everyone else knows what it’s like to do something (like go to prom), and you just stare at them, hoping someone will explain it.

Because you don’t understand.

That, to me, is the most frustrating—I’m not trying to be rude or cold: I literally have no idea why someone is upset about something I did or said, because I don’t pick up on the social cue/have no idea why what I said would be inappropriate. And people think that you’re being deliberately callous—I’m not.

I’m actually a warm, caring, generous big ball of sarcastic fluff. And once I get to know you, I can usually pick up when you’re upset—I just don’t get the “applies to everyone” cues.

Now, I generally don’t know WHY you’re upset, but I do know that you’re upset.

And being socially clueless doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings. I feel deeply. But I don’t always know the “right” way to show it, so I don’t. Or I don’t understand that someone is mocking me, and then, when I find out later that they were, I feel like an idiot.

And being socially clueless doesn’t mean I look, act, or resemble Sheldon from a Big Bang Theory. I’m about the farthest thing from a science nerd that you’ll find, I’m a REALLY big fan of sparkles and sappy movies are some of my favorites. (Seriously, I liked the Lake House).

Being socially clueless means I have to pick my friends very carefully, and have LOTS of discussions with my husband*** about agreed upon cues regarding feelings. It means that I end up with some awesome friends who appreciate my bluntness (one of my housemate’s favorite things about me she said is “I never have to wonder if you’re upset—you’ll tell me if you’re upset”—because the only way I understand emotion is clear, direct statements, so I try and give those statements to others). It means I spent years working on appropriate social interactions and I have a cache of them (stories, expressions) stored up to use. It means making friends is really really hard. It’s who I am.

I want people to believe that if someone says they don’t “get it”—they truly don’t. Explain it to them. Believe that they don’t understand why you’re upset or why what they said isn’t appropriate. They’ll probably say “Thank you”.

*Look, I don’t think it was THAT bad, but the point is that I would walk up to a girl, call her a name and totally not understand why all the girls hated me. That, and I didn’t understand why none of them roughhoused while playing basketball. There was actually a rule in my PE class that I wasn’t allowed to play basketball with girls. True story. (You draw blood one time…)

** (Oddly, I’m usually ok in work situations—likely because being professional comes with its own set of social cues, which are typically easier for me to understand.)

***True story—early in our marriage, he once left the room, and I shouted “What? What’d I say?”

 

The conversation about Emma Stone being too white bothers me. A lot.

There has been a veritable uproar-to the point where the director has apologized- about Emma Stone being cast in the movie Aloha has a quarter Chinese, quarter Hawaiian, half Scandinavian character. While everyone seems to think the movie is not that great in the  first place, people are pissed that an actress that is clearly white is playing a character of Asian descent.

And it pisses me off. Nay, it makes me livid.

Not the casting choice, but the commentary.

It is entirely within the realm of possibility that a woman with that ancestry could look (at least similar) to Emma Stone. How do I know this? Well, for starters, I’m married to a (gorgeous) man of mixed heritage himself. He has four siblings, and when you see a photo of them–they’re clearly related, but they’re not clearly siblings. Some of them look markedly more Filipino, while some of them lean much more towards their Spanish/Italian ancestry.

However, the reason it makes me livid is on behalf of my (non-existent) children.

My children will be (roughly):

1/4 Irish
1/4 Italian
1/4 Filipino
1/4 General English Mutt

and part Native American, Spanish, French etc.  And it makes my heart beat faster and my blood pressure rise that some day they will have to defend their Filipino heritage to someone because “they don’t look Filipino”. Or have to explain when someone comments on their excellent potatoes or pasta that their Mom was Irish and their dad was Italian only to have someone say “But you don’t look Irish, Italian” etc.

How dare you. How dare you force my children to defend their cultural heritage because they don’t look they way you think a Filipino, Irish, Italian person “ought” to look. My children should not be pigeonholed because of a narrow definition of what the world thinks they should look like.

Does Emma Stone have any Chinese or Hawaiian heritage? No idea, but I bet not. Could Allison Ng, the character she plays look like her? Absolutely.