For When Others Don’t Understand.

I am not one for confrontation–and now that I think of it, most people would probably say this is true for them, too.

I am, by nature, a people pleaser. I don’t like to start friction and I really don’t like letting people down.

But the reality is: I don’t live in a Utopia where communication is always perfect and misunderstandings don’t happen. Sometimes I offend people, unintentionally upset them with my words or actions, or somehow make them feel uncomfortable.

It’s inevitable, it happens to us all at one time or another. Even to that perfectly coiffed Facebook couple taking hipster-inspired, heavily filtered photos wearing vintage clothing and boxy eyeglasses. YES! Even they come to disagree with each other and may have it out while making french press coffee and gluten-free, dairy-free flapjacks (because “pancakes” are too mainstream).

I used to spends days, nights, weeks feeling guilty for causing someone else discomfort or stress, even when I didn’t intentionally lob it onto them. I would apologize profusely and get bent out of shape, myself. I would be more mindful of my words in the future and things would mostly just get awkward with the person I had slighted.

But then I had a revelation, and it came from a really unusual place.

When Kate Winslet won the Academy Award for Best Actress for “The Reader” I was psyched. For years, Kate had been one of my absolute favorite actresses and I still love to re-watch her acceptance speech.

If you haven’t seen the movie, without spoilers, I can tell you that Kate’s character is an SS Guard at a Nazi concentration camp. She didn’t do any of the murdering, but she was a part of the operation and is put on trial during the Nuremberg Trials. When you watch, you may find yourself having a strange sense of empathy, if not sympathy, for her character (which is SHOCKING considering she plays a Nazi–or at least someone who worked for the Nazis).

After she delivered her speech, she was shuttled to the press room and a member of the media asked Kate if she felt guilty for having people feel either of those emotions toward a Nazi. Her response was something like, “I can’t be responsible for the way people react to what I do.”

That hit me hard, not just as an actress, but as a human being. All you can do is live your life as truthfully as possible and realize that you aren’t responsible for how people react.

Sure, if you carjack someone or purposely smash their very expensive Ming vase, you’re on the hook for what can only be their negative reaction.

But when it comes to the day to day, when it comes to interacting on the most basic level, and when it comes to staying true to yourself and your needs–

you are not responsible for the way people react. 

The people pleaser in me wants my oversized ego to capitulate to the other person, but if you do that too often and with too much abandon, you start to become a martyr. You start to resent the other party and you resent your inability to prioritize your feelings and needs. If you’re already being careful and intentional with your words, it really doesn’t matter how anyone else reacts.

This blog just got incredibly philosophical, which is rarely my intention. But I wanted to just put this out there into the interwebs in case someone else needs reminding from time to time.

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I’m risking getting philosophical on you guys (again?! Ugh!) but I’m writing what I’m currently feeling–the Short and Feisty Zeitgeist, if you will–so bear with me.

Sunday morning, after I dragged myself out of bed at 6:30am–thanks, Daylight Savings Time!–I shlepped the monumental distance to the couch and picked up my laptop. I did my regular, brief (read: 40 minute) perusal of the internet at my usual time sucking sites (, Facebook, Buzzfeed, to name a few).

When I found this photo, I immediately posted it to one of my personal social media sites:

cool-quote-frame-future-youI liked the message so I figured I’d share it. I left it there for about 20 minutes while I got ready for the day.

My favorite responses to the photo, when I came back to read them, were two comments by two new mothers stating that a simple “shower, tooth brush, and deodorant application” would definitely qualify as fulfilling this call to action. To my elation, I had completed all three tasks–I was winning from the start!

I sat for a moment, examining the lengthy to-do list I’d created for myself just the day before. It’s really easy for me to make these lists for the weekend and then quickly throw them on the coffee table while I veg out.

“I’m so freaking tired–why should I be required to do anything with the small amount of time I don’t spend working or commuting!?” I complain to myself.

“Because,” I wisely reply, “If you decide to not do anything to better yourself, you have no right to bitch, moan, or complain when you feel like you’re treading the waters of life but not moving forward toward an end-goal.”

“That’s deep, self” I admit.

Then I got off of my keister and got to work.

So what did I do with the 24 hours of Sunday freedom I had?

  • Basic personal hygiene regimen (Yes! This counts!)
  • Caught up with a friend at a coffee shop in Burbank–yay for social interaction!
  • Applied for dental insurance
    • Searched for a corresponding dentist that will take said insurance
  • Submitted a final draft of a picture book I’d written to the publisher
    • After making final edits
  • Sewed a costume (yes, an entire costume)
  • Paid bills (grumble, grumble, sob)
  • Uploaded photos and Created/formatted/ordered a 24 page photo book for one of my former nanny kid’s birthdays
  • Attended a concert in Anaheim dressed in the aforementioned costume
  • Wrote this blog post!

I list all of these glorious accomplishments, not just to send a 1,000 Brag Points out into the universe, but to also show that I had intentionality pushing me forward the entire day!

How much did I need to accomplish to make “future me” proud?

That’s just it–I picked how much I felt I was capable of doing and pushed myself every time I felt I was drifting off into a Netflix coma.

And then I actually DID SOMETHING.

I hope that anyone that feels as if they’re “stalling” will deeply consider the above photo when you have your next free day and get to it!

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A Conversation with an After Taste

I always smile and acknowledge people on the street–which gets me in trouble when walking past a homeless person because I am usually asked for money. And in Los Angeles, with 51,000 homeless people JUST in the city, (considered the homeless capital of the USA) the opportunity for that to happen is literally on almost every street corner. I recently watched a documentary on Netflix called: Lost Angels: Skid Row is My Home and it was particularly eye opening, and a lot of times shocking, when seeing what the city does (and does not do) to help the homeless. Like, criminalizing them in order to throw them in jail to get them off of the streets. Would you rather be free and destitute or fed and a prisoner? I think free and destitute would be my choice and the choice of many of the people they incarcerate.

I don’t mind when I am asked for money because when I refuse, the person I am speaking with often lets it go. BUT, that wasn’t the case today.

Today,  this conversation rubbed me the wrong way:

Homeless Man (in an incredibly bold voice): Care to make a contribution?

Me: [Not wanting to ignore a fellow human being but obviously in a rush, I responded without stopping] I’m sorry, but I don’t carry cash [totally the truth and I keep walking].

Man: Well could you go into Chipotle and charge me some food?

Me: [Chipotle isn’t really in the end of the month budget for me. Did he really just ask me to go into debt for him? I stop anyway, which was a mistake–guilt does that to my better judgement] Umm…what would you have?

Man: [Takes out a single cigarette and rolls it atop a fresh package of Camels] I’ll have a vegetarian burrito with black beans, pico de gallo, lett–

Me: Uh, I don’t have that much money and I’m in a bit of a rush.

Man: [Raising his voice skeptically] A burrito is only $6!

Me: [Awkwardly] I’m sorry.

I’m not sure if it’s sticking with me out of indignation that his cigarettes cost more than the burrito (although, someone could have purchased them for him), guilt from a lost opportunity to appease my moral obligation to help others, etc.

Or maybe it was the fact that he assumed I could afford his Chipotle burrito when there were other, less expensive, places in the area. Yes, I am clean and my jeans, t-shirt, and sandals are in good condition, but that doesn’t scream “money bags” to me.

I am of limited means to begin with and I obviously can’t help every time someone asks me for money/food–so how do I decide who is worthy of my attention and funds? This person didn’t have the usual piles of personal items stacked around him like most here do. That doesn’t necessarily disqualify him from being homeless, but how could I be sure he was? After all, I am under the assumption that he is, in fact, homeless. However,  Homeless Fraud is a real life thing, you guys.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one–leave them in the comments, please!

Skid Row. Photo Credit |