3 Problems with Permission

We live in a world where we love permission and sometimes it just drives me batty. I get that we're all sharing this space on earth and we want to be cognizant of the impact we have on others in an individual and collective basis. The politeness of permission doesn't bother me so much. Rather, the kind where we feel like we need an O.K. to DO ANYTHING. This week I've been trying to make a few things happen, both at work and in my calling and I've come across three responses that are, to me, just the worst.

1. "I don't have the Authority" 
This is a direct quote. I'm trying to arrange this dinner for a church thing but it is taking place outside my area, so I've been trying to track down someone in that area to help (because heaven forbid phone numbers be easy to find). Blah blah blah, I ended up asking my aunt for the contact information of my cousin's wife's mom, who lives in the area. After asking for her help and finding out she was going to be out of town, I asked her if she could help me find someone else who might be willing and able. In my head, this meant thinking of helpful people and asking them if they were available and interested to help in this instance. In her head, she didn't have the Authority to ask someone to help out for a church-ish thing without a church calling titles, so she went to the Stake President, who talked to the Stake Relief Society President who will be helping me.

I'm getting the help I need, but this idea that someone doesn't have authority to ask someone to help out is something I see often in the church. People want to do good but don't think they are allowed to. At work, it's a good idea gone to waste in the slow churn of bureaucracy. I swear, most of the time no one actually cares if the answer is yes or no, they only care that permission was asked.

2. "I'm not Obligated"
Another direct quote. Same dinner request, but back before I found the cousin's wife's mom to help connect me, I asked the Stake President's wife in another Stake for advice on who she thought might be able to help me out with this same favor (I was looking for him because I have his phone number and it turns out it's his home phone and she answered, so I asked her in the meantime). She first said she didn't really know anyone, then kind of paused and said that she's not obligated to tell me anyone.

OF COURSE YOU AREN'T OBLIGATED. You happened to answer the phone when I was looking for someone 'in charge' and I am asking you, as an innocent bystander, for advice. As if NOT having a calling was a free pass to withhold information. In fact, being alive is a free pass to withhold information.  If you're at the grocery store buying cookies and someone asks you if you like that particular brand of cookies you are not obligated to tell them. If someone in the airport asks you to help them lift their bags, you are not obligated to help.

At work this is a fairly common 'not my job'. It's self-preservation, I get it. But you can simply say no, and not blame it on your job title.

3. "First let's check with [Perceived Authority Figure]"
Not so different from Number One, but more timid. At work today there was an idea for this event we're throwing, a pretty innocuous idea, and instead of just planning it and executing it, the suggestion was to wait until our boss and our boss's boss OK'd it. Makes sense for big things. HUGE waste of time on small things.

Can't we just all make good decisions?


3 Thing I Love about Traveling with an Infant

Nearly 11 months old, Jamie has been on lots of trips (Utah twice, Alabama twice, LA once, and to Puerto Rico/Southern Caribbean), most with layovers (that's 22 flights altogether, 8 of which were without Porter), half of them flying standby (including several we almost didn't make!). (This is where I say That's my boy with pride and love, as if he chose to be a traveler and isn't just being dragged along by Porter and I because we can't seem to stay put.)

There's a ton of negativity around traveling with babies. And fear. And since I'm an expert now I can say I totally get it. There's way more unknowns to handle when out of the comforts of home and it seems I start bracing for them days before we actually leave. Stuff, a time-crunch, and the ticking time-bomb that is any baby's mood are each on their own formidable opponents, and put together can make a cocktail of preemptive fatigue that makes traveling seem not worth it.

But it's also pretty amazing. Here's why:

1. People are so nice and helpful
I have had so many people, so many strangers go out of their way to help me. Collapse a stroller, lift bags, play faces on the plane, cut in line, give me privacy, give me encouragement, give Jamie snacks. People come out of the woodwork and it's actually a really empowering feeling of humanity and the thinness of our nonconnection. What is that quote... We are strangers here together? Either they've done the rigamarole before, or they know someone who has or, I don't know, they are just nice people. That's not to say there aren't selfish pieces of garbage out there, but most people not only get it and are understanding with delays/noises/gross spit-up or smelly child moments, but many go out of their way to make it better.

Humanity remains!

2. The magic of well-timed meals/naps
For me, the day to day of child handling is like a riddle that changes daily. No, hourly. It's a guessing game of reading cues and remembering advice and going with your gut and sometimes it all comes together just perfectly. Put another way, travel adds a bit of a game to the challenge of timing meals and naps. I keep points for myself every time I get it right and celebrate, out loud to anyone near me when it all comes together ("How great he fell asleep right before take-off!" "This change in schedule made for a perfect opportunity to diaper change and have a few quiet moments to eat" "HE SLEPT!!!!!"). I don't keep tally of the points against me because what is the point, really. It's not like Jamie is the opponent, it's just Mommy Shame Gremlins in my head and the selfish pieces of garbage who tsk tsk and know better than to have kids or take them anywhere.

3. Hanging out with new people in new place with a new baby!
Translation: travel is still travel. Going places is my favorite. BONUS: You have this tiny little human who gets to experience wherever you are going, meet your friends, and enjoy a little change in scenery. Watching Jamie with cousins makes it worth it. Holding Jamie while watching a sunset makes it worth it. Having Jamie in photos we can look back on later and remember going as a family makes it worth it.

Proceed: Photo Dump, in no particular order

Layover in Newark
Helping unpack

Cruise towel animal photo bomb
Park in Puerto Rico
Helping pack
Alabama cousin fun
Waiting to get picked up from Birmingham Airport

Magic Nap
Camping with Fugeres
Santa Monica
Beaching it
Zion Nat'l Park with Dad
John's wedding in St. George
Mission friends picnic in Utah
Napa and Dipu and our babies
Sprinklers somewhere warm
Trying out the FlyeBaby (attaches to seatback tray)
Pool lounging
Unimpressed by the Gulf Coast
Didn't pack enough clothes!
United Mascot
The whole terminal to ourselves!
Striking a pose
Actually Jamie's passport photo
SAD. It's not all smiles. This is proof.

Airplane view
Little pirate
Thanksgiving in Leavenworth
Swimming with dad
Airplane food is gross?
Waiting in SFO


3 Favorite Yoga Reminders

I go in and out of yoga kicks and I'm on one now, thanks to a Two Weeks for Twenty Dollars promotion I'm trying to wring every penny of value out of. I went five times last week, which is a personal record for any type of physical activity besides walking and breathing. Every teacher does it a different way and I'm fairly unappreciative of the 'yoga voice' - that breathy, steady voice talking about the third eye and namaste-ing with a lilt. But a few tidbits of advice stick with me and I have tried to keep in mind:

1. Your feet are part of this pose
It's really easy to half-ass it in yoga. You can flow through poses without really doing the poses (or being the poses, as one hippie teacher loves to point out). In order to get the most out of it, every part of your body is part of the pose. Sometimes its job is to relax, or help provide alignment. Pointed toes or flexed feet or heels twisted in or out a certain way change the experience with a pose entirely. 

2. When you find your mind wandering, gently bring it back
No need to berate yourself, just remind yourself that the constant review of what that annoying coworker said, the nagging list of to-dos, or sense of pathetic self that you're not actually so good at yoga aren't doing much good. Part of moving forward with anything is emptying the brain and going with the Flow (the yoga flow, not the river flow, or wherever that saying came from).

3. Follow your breath
Much like feet and thoughts, breathing intentionally can make an enormous difference to the experience on the mat. I had a boyfriend in college who would always what sounded like sigh all the time and every time I asked him what was up he'd say 'I think we just don't breathe enough.'

So true!