I recently had one of those experiences where I realized what a hypocrite I am and that I need to take my own advice. I had told a friend that it’s not about where you live, but how you live and how you choose to raise your children, no matter where you are.
Now, I love where I live. It’s not because I feel I belong here or that I fit in. See, I’ve always been an outcast, someone who has never belonged, fit in, been part of the in-crowd or part of the click. But I’ve never sought to be. I’m different. That’s just how it is, and I’m good with that. I mean, who else do you know that wore tie-dye shirts and bell bottoms, paired with multiple peace necklaces, beaded bracelets and several rings on each hand? In between the years of 1999-2001? In Utah?! Hell, I even wore tie-dye pants to school! A friend sewed them for me and told me I could wear them as pajamas. “No way,” I said. “I’m wearing these to school!” And I did—along with a bright orange shirt and my necklaces, beads and rings.
I may not dress that way anymore, but that hippie chick is definitely still a part of me! And I still don’t belong, fit in, am part of the in-crowd or the click, but I’ve learned that I don’t have to be in order to be happy with where I live. I love the neighborhood I live in, I love my church group which is full of some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met, I love my job, I (sometimes) love the school my kids go to and (sometimes) love their teachers. I love the convenience of the city I’m in and how close it is to bigger cities with (slight) diversity and culture. I love how where I live is surrounded by such beautiful places in nature that inspire me and bring peace and renewal to my soul. I love where I live. But I hate the drivers here!
Seriously, Utah has the worst drivers! Okay, okay, so there are two other places I’ve noticed worse drivers—California and Idaho. But Utah really is famous for the crappy drivers. One of the first things I noticed when I moved to Phoenix, Arizona almost eleven years ago were the great drivers! People actually drove the speed limit, were kind and courteous. When I put my blinker on, signaling I needed to move over (that’s what a signal is for after all) they’d slow down and let me in. They recognized that a yellow light meant slowing down rather than gunning it and speeding up. It was amazing! Then I moved back to Utah, and one of the very first things I noticed, or had brought back to my memory, were the crappy drivers! Everyone speeds at least twenty over the speed limit, they’re rude and reckless and speed up when they see your blinker on because there is no way they’re going to let you move over in front of them! They speed up at yellow lights instead of slow down and often don’t use their blinkers. And then there are the “opposite” days, where everyone on the freeway decides to go twenty under the speed limit instead of twenty over, like usual, for no apparent reason! Yeah, it’s really frustrating, and I totally let it get to me. I’m constantly complaining in the car, often times in a very loud voice and with a lot of four-letter words—when my kids are in the car with me. I don’t even know how many times they’ve heard me shout, “Stupid Utah drivers!” Or, “Utah drivers suck!” It may not sound like a big deal, but my twelve-year-old daughter hates getting in the car with me now. And she’s terrified to learn to drive—in Utah.
Sometime after I gave this friend my advice, I realized that I was letting place affect me and what I was teaching my kids. I don’t want to teach my kids that it’s no fun getting in the car with Mom when we’re driving in Utah. I don’t want to teach them that driving here is terrifying and frustrating and not worth learning how to drive. My daughter even once said that she thought I’d want to move sometime just to get away from the crappy drivers here. So not true! Everything I love about where I live is worth the bad, frustrating or hard things—like the crappy drivers. I want to teach my kids that it’s about how you choose to live your life no matter where you’re living.
So I decided I needed to take my own advice and stop complaining about the drivers here. I’ve challenged myself to be better at not saying bad things about other drivers when I’m in my car. I’m not gonna lie—it has been hard! And it doesn’t mean I’m not cursing them in my head—because I am. But I really, truly want to try harder to be more positive and help kids focus on the positives. Like the fact that we live in a wonderful, beautiful place full of amazing people, amazing opportunities and awe-inspiring nature. I want our lives to be about how we’re living, what we’re learning, what we’re giving back rather than focusing on the negatives of where. Any place can be a good place if you can do that, right?