Being right was never the point. 

“Would you just stay with me? Stay with you? What for? Look at us! We’re already fighting!

Well that’s what we do! We fight! You tell me when I’m being an arrogant son of a bitch and I tell you when you’re being a pain in the ass! Which you are, 99% of the time. I’m not afraid to hurt your feelings, you have like a two-second rebound rate and you’re back doing the next pain in the ass thing.

So, what?

So it’s not gonna be easy, it’s gonna be really hard. And we’re gonna have to work at this everyday, but I wanna do that because I want you.”― Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook

The point was never about being right. 

On the subject of relationships and making them work (putting abuse, betrayal, and the extremes aside) I’m certainly no expert. In fact, I don’t know much. At all. 

But I do know at least one thing…

Every partner you’ll ever have has the potential to be so horrible that you want to kill them… or at the very least plot it out. (I’m kidding, about murder, of course. But if you’ve ever been married for any longer than two seconds, you get me.) 

Or the potential to be so wonderful that you want to be with them forever. 

The part they are showing to you at any given time (for better or worse) has to also be active within you. It’s a reflection of sorts. Whatever the issue at hand is—it’s always on some level about the relationship you have with yourself. Understanding that relationship is the best gift you can offer. To the both of you. 

You can blame the other person for their wrongdoings leading to your shortcomings if you want. It’s easy. I’m confident you’ll find ten-thousand forms of evidence to prove your point. :)

But it matters not. Ultimately, you are where you are because of the choices you made. No one wants to hear this, I know. But once you figure it out you’ll likely find yourself a whole lot happier. 

And sometimes even right. :) 

What I learned from being a quitter…

“Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you.” — Orebela Gbenga

I told this story in front of fifty-five women the other day and they seemed to think it was pretty funny so…

This is what happens when a survivalist and a minimalist decide to climb a mountain together:

There will be many “discussions” about why one needs so many items for a DAY HIKE.

Eventually, the minimalist relents because she understands: You can be happy OR you can be right. 

Only, what she should have understood is that if the level of difficulty for a climb is listed as very strenuous, it actually means VERY STRENUOUS. Because if she had, she would’ve certainly fought a little harder about the BS that was being loaded onto her back.

At any rate, eighty-five percent of the trek to the summit turns out mostly uneventful. Except for the fact that the survivalist half of the party likes to annoy the other half by teetering on the edge of a mountain with fifty pounds of unnecessary camping gear strapped to his back. And let’s face it: pretty much no one is going to believe he “just fell.”

They make it to the point where there’s about two hundred feet left to go to summit. This is how the rest of the climb is described:

Follow the trail to the right and back down a few hundred feet before ascending a steep, slippery slope (which can be covered with snow) to a signed viewpoint.

Get ready for some more serious climbing and scrambling through the boulders that make up the summit.  The trail gets faint further up. When in doubt, keep going up. Some rocks will move under foot so be sure to use your hands for balance.  You’ll notice a couple plaques, memorials, and flags once you reach the top.

DSC00591

This is where she decides to quit. For one, she’s carrying too much crap to make it fun. Two, she decides their children need at least one surviving parent.

She tells him to go on and to leave his pack. And for God’s sake to stop teetering on the edge. Or he is going to die. One way or another. He agrees. This is all his fault. But she doesn’t say so. Or maybe she did. She probably did.

She perches herself in a spot that unbeknownst to her seems to be designated for all the other quitters. She meets three people from her hometown and one from the Dallas area. They get to know each other. Turns, out they can’t breathe at 12,000 feet either. This quitting thing is amazing! I mean what are the odds?!?

Two men on their way down access her situation and ask who left her with two packs. You see! Sympathy. This quitting thing isn’t so bad after all! 

Plus, she’s always saying she needs to be more gentle with herself. This was her chance!

She sits there. And weighs her options. She watches him climb. She considers whether or not she’s really done. She thinks she is.

Until two people stop not far from her. She listens as a man consoles his partner. “It’s ok,” he says. “No one will know you didn’t make it to the top. Just say you did.” She watches as the woman nods and appears relieved.

And that’s when it hits her: She’ll know.

Quitting is a bad idea. She might get sympathy. She might even  meet people (nice people!) to hang out with along the way. People who will console her with camaraderie.

But, in the end, she’ll know. 

So she gets up, dusts herself off, leaves those packs where they are, and climbs to the top.

“Where are the packs?” He asks when she reaches summit.

“Down there,” she points.

“You just left them?”

She gives him the look. “I don’t even want to carry those fuckers down. Do you really think anyone else does?”

He smiles.

Because he knows… she’s right.

IMG_2203

On dating my father.

“That was the thing about the world: it wasn’t that things were harder than you thought they were going to be, it was that they were hard in ways that you didn’t expect.” ― Lev GrossmanThe Magician King

Last year around this time I wrote this post about my father. I’ve written here about him a few times and there have been a many times since then that I’ve been asked what happened afterward.

Well…

Last November he called and invited me to lunch and I accepted. The meeting was awkward and heavy and he was nervous and I felt the need to put him at ease. I don’t think it was intentional on his part and it was certainly understandable— but it still wasn’t the best of feelings on my end. But he made an effort.

We followed up with another lunch after Christmas at which point I gave him a calendar my Mother-In-Law makes every New Year with photos of my children, everyone’s birthday’s, and anniversary’s. Around my wedding anniversary, in February, he called and invited my husband and I to dinner, explaining that he understood that he’d need his “buy in” if he wanted to be a part of our lives. While this wasn’t completely true— it was true enough. I thought it over and declined… feeling that the timing wasn’t right. Instead, I invited him to our son’s birthday party (which was held away from our home) and he stopped by briefly. He made an effort.

Last week, he called and invited me to lunch again. I accepted and this time I decided to bring my younger three children along because:

  • A) They are home with me for the summer so it made sense.
  • B) I felt the timing was a little better.
  • C) He made an effort.

Bringing them along was a big step for me, as I knew that it would open up a lot of questions and I wasn’t sure that I was ready to explain it all. The truth of the matter is I’ve spent a long time feeling ashamed of my upbringing, or lack there of, in regard to my parents. As a kid, I was always different. The odd one out. Other kids wanted to know why I lived with my Grandma, and where my parents were, and… well, it was hard to be different.

The truth would have been even harder to explain. So to try and explain this truth to my own kids… it was an interesting moment, that is for sure.

The thing is, I don’t care who you are— as a child it says something when not one but both of your parents skip out on you. Even though I am an adult now (and more importantly a parent) and I have a better understanding of how the world works and why people make the choices they do… I realize that my children do not have the same understanding— and I was worried about opening that door for them.

However, after mulling it over—  I realized— ready or not… I could do hard things and in the process I could show them as much. And, so, I said yes. We would meet him for lunch. Same time. Same place.

He showed up in new clothes and shoes. He made an effort. Still, it felt like a very awkward first date.

Over the course of the meal he asked if I knew anything about blogging. A thing, or two, I told him. He said he’d seen something about it on the news and explained the story to me which had to do with writers who blog anonymously and folks who post hate under the guise of remaining anonymous. If you were going to write something wouldn’t you want your name attached to it, he asked? I would I told him. It hit a bit of nerve. A familiar one. But he couldn’t have known that.

It was interesting to see my children interact with him and vice versa. He isn’t used to being around kids— but he made an effort. The eldest of my younger three children is very intelligent— but to his detriment has not yet learned the art of small talk. He wanted no part in the awkward interaction and it showed. Tolerance and kindness toward those who are different is another lesson I am hopeful this experience will have taught that child of mine. To break the ice, my father asked him about computers and technology and stuff he figured my son would be interested in but that he himself knew little about. Then he pulled out his non-smart phone cell phone and told him it came over on the Mayflower. He asked my son if he knew the year the ship came over. Of course, he did. And just like that they were having small talk. He made an effort. 

My youngest took to him right away while my daughter mostly sat back and observed the situation— as she does. He asked the twins which cartoons they watched and when they told him their mother doesn’t let them watch cartoons (which isn’t exactly the whole truth) you should have seen his expression. My own expression dared him to judge my parenting. He took the smarter path and didn’t. I appreciated the effort.

Mostly though, he spoke of his dog and I could tell that he feels that she is the only thing he has in the world and I felt sorry for him. Sorry, is a very hard thing to feel. 

Then just as that conversation winded down a man crossed the restaurant and moseyed up to our table. He addressed my father, asking him if “these were his people?” When he said yes, the man told him he was lucky. After he walked away my dad looked at me and asked if I knew the guy. I told him I’d never seen him in my life— but that I thought he must have known him. He did not. It was an odd exchange.

It’s funny how the universe works that way.

After lunch, I waited for questions from my kids that were sure to arise. I let them come. Without prodding.

My little guy only said he really liked my father.

While his older brother asked if the man who stopped by our table thought my father was my husband.

“God, I hope not,” I said. He’s thirty years older than me. 

We laughed.

And that was that.

It’s more fun that way…

“Jack learned that summer – when dealing with women, it’s best not to say everything that’s on your mind. The less you say, the better it is for you. He learned that women do not think like men. End of story.” – Britney King, Somewhere With You

“I know I don’t always like your idea’s upfront,” my husband tells me. “But afterward I’m always glad I went along with them.”

“Not always,” I remind him— as minimally as possible

“No, not always,” he agrees.

“But usually,” I smile. And leave it at that. Of course, I file his sentiment away for a later date, when I will no doubt need it.

That day came sooner rather than later— as they often do.

“Hey,” I say and he looks up.

“I have an idea,” I tell him.

He stares at me. Half scared. Half intrigued, I think.

“I’ve decided on my next project. And I need to do some research.”

“Ok?”

“I think we should take a road trip,” I say and I describe the idea very loosely. Mostly, because the idea is just that. I list off the places I’d like to visit and explain the only prerequisite be that neither of us have visited any of the places before. Our children will be visiting their grandparents. He asks if I’m sure I don’t want to bring them along. I assure him that I do not. Not this time.

“Ok,” He says.

“Um… I’m talking about driving four-thousand miles…”

“Sounds good,” He replies and goes back to what he was doing.

Was he even listening? I check the time. And then I wait…

Fourteen minutes later…

“Where are we going to stay?” He finally asks. “Have you even thought this through?”

Not really. But I improvise. “We’re going to camp.”

He deadpans. “You!? Want to camp for that many days?”

I shrug. “Why not? It’ll be fun. We’ll just pitch a tent… wherever we wind up.”

He sighs. “Do you even know how to ‘pitch a tent’?”

“It’s figure-out-able.”

“What you really mean is that you’ll watch me do it…”

Pretty much. That is exactly what I mean. “No, what I mean is that it’s teachable.” 

“Ok,” he says. “But we’ll compromise on the camping. By at least half.”

“We’ll see,” I reply. Even though I know he’s right. And I quote, “I don’t know why you’re pretending not to like my idea’s when in the past you’ve told me you’ve always been glad that you’ve gone along with them.”

He smiles. I think he’s on to me. “It’s more fun that way…” he says.

I answer with silence.

Because I know… and because he knows…

Now, we’re getting somewhere. ;)

——————————————-

That story told, I can’t think of a better time to announce my next book… and show you guys the cover.

Readers asked. I listened…

I’m working on the follow up to Somewhere With You.

The sequel, Anywhere With You is set to release in the fall.

First though, a bit of research. :)

If you’re interested in real-time data… you can follow me on Instagram @msbritneyking

Adobe Photoshop PDF

Adobe Photoshop PDF

P.S. Many thanks to Lisa Jay for her work on the cover design. I sent her a mock up of what I wanted and less than 48 hours later we had a cover. Not only is she great— but she fit me into her very busy schedule and I appreciate both. She has worked on all six of my covers.

Three years gone.

“Before you can live a part of you has to die. You have to let go of what could have been, how you should have acted and what you wish you would have said differently. You have to accept that you can’t change the past experiences, opinions of others at that moment in time or outcomes from their choices or yours. When you finally recognize that truth then you will understand the true meaning of forgiveness of yourself and others. From this point you will finally be free.” ― Shannon L. Alder

Today marks three years since that horrible night I got the call that my teenagers found their uncle not breathing. Or in other words dead.

On this anniverary however (unlike others) I’m not sad. I think if anything my mood is one of acceptance. 

My brother was the funniest person I knew. Ask anyone who knew him and I’m pretty certain they’d say the same. He was wise and yet naive and he felt things, both happy and sad, very deeply. But mostly, he was just…funny. I know these are common sentiments to share after one dies— to remember the good and not so much any of the bad. But as a (very bossy) big sister I feel almost immune to that way of thinking. 

My brother was trusting—too trusting, and in part this killed him.  He relied on humor, and friends who weren’t really friends, often instead facing of hard truths. But that was just who he was. And I accept that even if I didn’t always like it. 

Which brings me to where I am today… 

Acceptance, for what is. Now, I know to hold those I love a little tighter, fight for things a little harder, but mostly, I have a healtier respect of what is important and what isn’t. Tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us. Yet we so often forget this.

Three years ago today a part of me died, too. And that part wasn’t just my only sibling. When I think of all the people, situations, and the unnessarary drama that appeared so vital before and after that phone call… I’m almost irritated at myself for not seeing what really mattered. It was a mistake I hope to not ever make again. At least not in that porportion.

I didn’t get to this place right away and there are many days where I don’t stay here. But I’d like to think I’ve taken the best lessons from both his life and his death to live the remainder of mine more intentionally. 
  

My favorite thing, this week. 

“Life is a mystery- mystery of beauty, bliss and divinity. Meditation is the art of unfolding that mystery.” ― Amit Ray

Today I’m away with my family but wanted to quickly post from my phone (which I often do) as a friend sent me something amazing—and I thought I’d share…because, well, it’s one of my favorite things this week.

I’ve written here several times (at least) about meditation and the importance it plays in my life. 

I find the science behind it fascinating…and that it helps with creativity and critical thinking.

Anyway, if you’ve ever considered meditation but are unsure about it this would be a great place to start. ;) 

http://youtu.be/92i5m3tV5XY

https://m.youtube.com/watch?sns=fb&v=92i5m3tV5XY

P.S.If you don’t watch the video this post is almost pointless. :) 
P.S.S. Two minutes. TWO MINUTES, is all it takes. If you’re not smiling after watching… you should probably check your pulse. Or meditate, for real. ;) 

When spy games are put to good use…

“You should always be taking pictures, if not with a camera then with your mind. Memories you capture on purpose are always more vivid than the ones you pick up by accident.” ― Isaac MarionWarm Bodies

Last week I wrote about using spy games I read about in a novel to teach my children about being aware of their surroundings…

This week, I had the unfortunate opportunity of finding myself putting these lessons to good use… and also learning about how life sometimes imitates art. 

I’m on my run when all of a sudden something feels very off. I feel the urge to remove my headphones and in my peripheral vision I see a car turn, pull over, and stop on the side street just behind me. A man gets out. As I look back, he’s frantically waving trying to get my attention. My mind slows. Everything slows. Something in his demeanor isn’t quite right. Also, he’s closer than I thought. He’s dressed like a realtor and I know they frequently stop here to put signs out. Let’s see if he’s that. He comes around from behind his car door. Nope. He’s not selling houses. A car is coming, so I can’t cross the street. I look forward and then backward. There are two runners a ways behind me down the street. Thankfully, they’re headed in my direction.

I remove an ear bud… He’s still waving his arms like he’s lost at sea and I’m his only hope.

His eyes flicker from side to side. And I don’t like what I see.

While running away seems like a good idea—turning my back to the man does not.

My guess is that he’s going to ask for directions. My guess was wrong. 

“I’m not trying to hit on you, I promise,” He calls out stepping forward.

That’s not my first concern and we don’t know one another well enough to be making promises, I think. 

He closes the gap between us. I back up and widen it. “Do you live in this neighborhood?”

I tilt my head slightly and offer up a blank stare. More distance. 

He pauses and holds his hands out. “I need help…” He looks at this car and back at me. “I need someone who lives in this neighborhood to come with me to the community center.”

I tell him I can’t help him. I put more distance between us. But I still don’t turn my back to him. He seems manic. I consider the distance between him and I, his car, and the runners down the road.

“I’m trying to rent the community center—but they say you have to be a resident here. So, I need someone to come with me.” He says hurriedly as he speaks as though what he’s asking is anything but atypical.

“I’m sorry, I can’t help you.” I say, although, I’m not sorry at all.

He puts his hands up and takes another step forward. “Look, I’m just trying to do something nice for my wife.” I notice he’s still trying to close the gap. Also, he pulled the emotion card. 

I’m not sympathetic. The other runners are getting closer now. I eye them, and he does too. I am lucky, I think.

I could be mistaken… but I think he thinks this, too.

“Well, I guess I’ll just keep pulling people over and until I find someone who will,” he smirks.

I team up with the other runners. He doesn’t leave right away, but he doesn’t ask for their help either.

Unfortunately, his car is parked at an angle and from where I stood (combined with my unwillingness to travel backward in his direction) it didn’t allow me to get a look at his plates…

Later, I call the sheriffs office. Unsurprisingly, I’m not the first to report the situation. The officer tells me I gave a good description. Better than what they’d had.

Which isn’t all that reassuring. But I guess better than other alternatives.

Also, I’m in need of a running partner. :(

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