Psychology of Behavior

Today I’m starting a new series. I’ve always been fascinated by psychology and behavior of people. If you’re interested in participating in this series, please email me at jenlbrice (at) gmail.com. I’m looking to interview people and may potentially post up a survey to see how others see certain behaviors/situations in relation to this topic. Please note I am in no way certified in psychology or behavior. I’ve only taken a few classes in psychology and behavior through my undergraduate and graduate studies (MS in Biology). Instead, I am going to write about my viewpoints and opinions in regards to different every-day situations that people find themselves in and how they behave throughout them. I will be seeking feedback as I go, and will take requests. Are you interested in any particular situation? Do you need advice? I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to help, but I can and am willing to give you my thoughts towards whatever it is you’re going through.

While I’m not certified in psychology, I have been working with people in many ways since high school. I have a robust resume, both in the career and relationship realms. That being said, I do not know everything and I am willing to admit that. Also, every situation is different. The way people see things is different, because we are all a little bit different from each other.

Today we are going to dive right in on this topic that’s been on my mind lately. In regards to being cheated on, sometimes we blame ourselves. We ask what did I do to deserve this? Could I have done something different to avoid this? Was I not loving enough? Am I not lovable? But the truth is that it isn’t your fault. It’s the person who cheated on you. Think of it this way: they couldn’t handle you so they sought love elsewhere. But they can’t handle ANYONE. Love isn’t easy. Ever. With anyone. Love is a choice. And to love unconditionally is not natural. We actually rarely see monogamy in nature.

So why bother? Because when two people choose to love each other no matter what, a beautiful thing happens. The rare thing is beautiful. Like my grandparents who were married for over 50 years (and my grandma still loves my grandpa, rest his soul). When you find the right person, love won’t be “easy” but it will feel right. Like how God loves us, that is also not an easy love. We killed his only son, yet he still chooses us! He still chooses to love us. No matter what. No matter our sins, no matter our past. He wants us to seek Him and to love Him. It’s through this example of love we are to love one another. Definitely not easy but more than worth it. For the love of God can carry us up mountains, through valleys and everything in-between.

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It’s truly amazing to think about. If God can love us like this, we can love each other like this. I strive daily to show my love and joy for others. I want to share God’s love with other people.

So this is pretty deep, but the recent events in America have been tugging on my heart to talk about love. Love is real, love is hard, but it is the only way we will move forward. Love your neighbor, love your brother, and together we have a bright future.

Have you been cheated on? How do you view love? Do you think it’s supposed to be easy? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

I promise the next topic won’t be as deep. 🙂

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Happy birthday, Mom

Today’s my mom’s birthday. Her birthday is exactly three weeks after mine, and we would always celebrate the time in-between by hanging out and shopping the summer sales. Historically, this time was always a time of happiness and joy. We made a great team and partnership: mother and daughter, best friends. The past two birthdays have been hurdles for me. While I still enjoy my birthday and appreciate all the well wishes and joy surrounding it, it’s this time after my birthday leading up to my mom’s birthday that just seems empty now.

While going through the holidays without her is hard, I find her birthday the hardest. I just keep thinking how she was robbed of her life at way too young of an age. Also, a part of me is sad to think she didn’t have a chance to meet her future potential grandchildren in person (looking at you, bro).

On top of everything else, in the past I have felt the transition from July to August to be emotionally draining. I’m actually feeling the strongest I’ve ever felt in my entire life, emotionally and physically. My faith is stable, my mental thoughts are steady. My legs carry me through, helping me achieve my goals during this marathon training season of my life. In addition to running, I’m also working out in other various ways in order to grow my strength throughout my body. I have other fitness-related goals that I’m achieving and surpassing as I continue to push myself further.

Overall, I’m in a good place, but I still fear this time of year. Maybe because my mom isn’t hear to listen to me vent. Or maybe because I try so hard to be independent when God created us to be interdependent. I struggle letting go of the control I think I have on things. I have trouble asking others for help. Feeling vulnerable. I’ve learned to lean on God during the best of times and worst of times. Now I need to learn to lean on others. Humans aren’t perfect, we all have our own issues and struggles. But without each other, we aren’t going to make it very far.

I already know I can’t do everything alone. I have an amazing support group in my family and friends. I also have a great therapist. The cherry on top is that I’ve joined the welcoming community at Free Church that I’ve fallen in love with.  And I started giving back by serving on the host team.

Just because you don’t have a microphone doesn’t mean you don’t have a ministry. Follow me on this journey that I call life. And know that while I’ll always miss my mom, I know she is proud of me and this manifestation of goodness and love in my life.

On Sunday I attended this Italian Fest in Milwaukee with Paschen. It was my 2nd festival I’ve ever attended in Milwaukee, Bastille Days back in 2009 being the other one. As per usual, I didn’t do much research so I was surprised when we got there that we had to pay for parking and to get into the fest. Were we in Chicago or Milwaukee? I thought Wisconsin was like the country where everything is mostly free or cheap. $10 to park and $13 to get in, then I had to pay even more to attempt to satisfy my raging hunger (which is normal).

 

Despite the cost to get in, I felt I was transported to Italy itself. Nevermind the highway right next to us, or the strange Wisconsonites, we felt like we were in Roma. The pizza was sub-par and the Bosco sticks K.O.’d us. But never fear, we found room for gelato and espresso. We also got to ride the ski lift but unfortunately it was too hot to ski. Wait why is there a ski lift and no mountain? Anyways. Overall, had a good time but pretty sure anything I do with Paschen would be fun, other than maybe watching paint dry. That’s never fun. 🙂

Festa Italiana

Anything but Ordinary

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You’re everywhere I look
No matter how hard I try
You have me hooked
A new kind of high

I’ve been deep in denial
But I’m a bad liar
Good thing I’m not on trial
My pants would catch on fire

I’m anything but ordinary
Not the easiest to catch
My past has made me wary
Even harder to become attached

There couldn’t be a more beautiful you
You have your own scars
But you couldn’t be more true
I could stay right where we are

But we push each other forward
Further than I ever thought I’d go
Becoming life explorers
Continuing to grow

Not your traditional poem, this one was made from the songs in my head.

Safe Sex

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The term safe sex gets thrown around a lot and is used loosely and misunderstood in today’s society. Most people hear safe sex and think only about pregnancy prevention. Full disclosure, that was me in my twenties. Since I was in a committed long-term relationship, my biggest concern was pregnancy. But safe sex is more than just preventing a mini-me.

Teen pregnancies are decreasing over the last several years, but STD rates are increasing. So good job on preventing those babies, but now you have to deal with that syphilis. Here are some options to prevent both babies and those dreaded diseases:

The book "<a href="http://boyopress.com/protect-yourself/" target="_blank">Protect Yourself: Venereal Disease Posters of World War II</a>" by Ryan Mungia looks back at the posters designed to discourage military members from putting themselves at risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases during World War II.

  1. Abstinence. Not only for the ultra-conservative, religious type. Avoiding sex will also avoid all the possible effects of it. Treat your body like a temple, and keep the gate closed until you’re ready. But you may get lonely/bored of masturbation. I made it 23 years living the life of abstinence, and turned out okay (sorta).
  2. Physical Protection. I.e. condoms or diaphragms. Condoms are one-time use and are about 98% effective in preventing pregnancy and STIs when used correctly and ALL THE TIME. While they aren’t 100%, 98% is better than zero. Diaphragms are a little different. They are reusable for up to 2 years but shouldn’t be worn for more than 24 hours at a time. The nice part about them is that you can insert them prior to sex and not worry about it until later on. The only thing is they don’t protect against STIs, only pregnancy. So if you use a diaphragm, you have to use another form of protection to protect against STIs. They are 88% effective against pregnancy with typical use, which means that extra protection wouldn’t be a bad idea to get that percentage higher.
  3. Hormonal Protection. I.e. birth control pill. Birth control is just that: it protects you against pregnancy but does nothing against those diseases. They are about 91% effective with typical use, as long as you take them every day around the same time. Miss a dose? You better have a backup plan! I was on birth control for about ten years through my twenties, at first to control my cycle, then mainly to prevent pregnancy. For me, it was 100% effective. #kidfree
  4. Family planning. So, normally people will track their ovulations when planning to have a baby. But I have taken this to the next level and actually track my ovulations to plan to not become pregnant. I now generally know when I will ovulate and I’m sure to avoid sex for the days surrounding my ovulation (5 days before and a day after). This adds to the other forms of protection I’m using, and together it is basically 100% protection against pregnancy.

As you can see, the best way to prevent disease is abstinence. But for those of us who aren’t nuns, using a condom correctly is the next best option. Another option is to just to stick to foreplay and oral sex. No matter what, be sure to not sleep with anyone who has genital sores, a rash, discharge, or other symptoms. Hygiene is important: wash up before and after sex! Also, get a Hepatits B vaccine.

How do you prevent pregnancy? And STDs? Do you feel awkward yet? Do you hate condoms as much as I do? Share your thoughts below.

Aladdin the musical

For my birthday, I saw Aladdin at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago with Nathen.  I had heard it was amazing, but had a feeling it may be a little corny (you know, Disney corny). I also wasn’t sure how they would portray Abu the monkey and Iago the parrot, which could definitely be distracting if done wrong. But it surpassed my expectations!

 

 

First of all, instead of Abu the monkey, they gave Aladdin three human friends with three different personalities. This made a lot more sense than a talking monkey. And Iago was also a person, basically Jafar’s sidekick. Iago was funny, and so were Aladdin’s friends. They still kept the overall personalities and didn’t soil them. Good move, Disney.

Beyond that, the Genie song “Friend Like Me” was hands-down the best part of the entire musical. You can tell they put a lot into that song production, and it was amazing to watch. Also, the magic carpet ride “A Whole New World” was really well done. The visuals were entrancing. I would highly recommend this musical to everyone, young and old included.

Have you seen Aladdin? Or any other musical recently? Comment below your favorite musical! What should I see next?

This is 31

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Last year I did an entire This is Thirty series where I looked back at my past and took you through the process of my life pre-marriage and eventually to where I was, or where I thought I was. Looking back over the past year has me seeing double. It’s hard to believe how far I’ve come, and I’m only getting started.

It feels like where I was at 30 is a completely different world and different life than where I am now. The crazy part is I thought I was in control of my life and thought I was mature. Thought my mom passing away and my dad starting a new family helped me grow, but little did I know I had no control and my marriage was already falling apart.

Today, as a single and independent woman, I am no longer in that fake-happy world I was stuck in. I’ve grown up and out of the “American dream” and I’ve found my own dreams. I not only was thoughtful, but also methodological in my choices and actions over the past 9 months. Moving to Oak Park wasn’t the easiest choice, but it was a no-brainer for me for several reasons. Reasons relating to my job, my friends, my sense of community, my safety, and my lifestyle. Above all, though, I feel like God called me here. And I listened.

In the middle of the storm of my previous life, I grew quiet and listened to God. He told me several things that still ring true today. He told me “He’s just a person” “I have someone better for you” and “I have something better for you.” I believe that something better was and is Oak Park, Free Church, and the community I’ve found here. I’ve moved on from the person who tried to control me, and find it surprising when people ask me about that old, long ago time and place.

I’m still growing and I’m still maturing. There won’t be a time where I will say I’m mature and I’ve grown, because there is always room to grow more. I learned that even when you think you’re in control, you never really are. And I’m learning to let go of that need to control and to let God. So far, he’s steered me into this new, wonderful life that I would’ve never imagined on my own. And I’m savoring every moment.

What’s in a birthday?

Today is my birthday. Yay? I was born on Bastille day, I’m a cancer, and my stone color is ruby. Ruby red crab. Also a tiger. Tigercrab:

 

Does anyone else find it weird to celebrate your day of birth? Like yay I was born, I did absolutely nothing so celebrate me. If anything, my mom should be celebrated for doing all the real work: pregnancy, labor, giving birth, and the hardest part: raising me. Not that I was a difficult child to raise or anything, but I’m sure I wasn’t easy.

I’m extremely stubborn, and when younger I was extremely quiet and shy. Like the crab, I put up a hard exterior and protect my soft insides from others. From far away, I seemed innocent and kind. My mom would get frustrated at me since I wouldn’t tell her my thoughts and feelings. Sometimes I would just cry, or just be extremely mad, but I wouldn’t tell anyone why.

Since my mom is no longer around to celebrate, I have decided to keep my birthday low-key. She isn’t here to be lifted up in glory of raising what I think to be a wonderful Jen (that’s me). My friends have been trying to get me to throw a party or go out for my birthday, but I already made plans to see Aladdin tonight and just hang out/chill with friends and family the rest of the weekend. Sorry not sorry. Ideally, I would be like a crab and hide in a cave by the sea until the storm passes. But I have tailored my weekend to my liking.

Do you celebrate your birthday? Why? What did you do to deserve a celebration? Or am I just weird? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

In lieu of a birthday gift, please donate to my fundraiser to bring clean water to those who need it in Africa by clicking HERE. Thank you!

 

Party in the Park

This past weekend my church threw an amazing party in the park. This is an annual summer party they throw that just keeps getting bigger and bigger every year. It was great to be a part of this event and to be able to hang out with my church community outside of church.

To give you some perspective, Free Church was started in 2012. In five years, it has grown from only a few to about 300 churchgoers. There were well over 100 people at this party yesterday. The growth is amazing to see, and we got our very own building this year (the Hemingway Museum). 🙂

I’ve only been going to Free Church since November of 2016, but I feel myself growing as well. While it’s great to see more and more people at church, it’s even better to feel my faith growing as I learn and dig deeper into this community I call home. I feel safe and cared for in my church community. And I feel strong. There’s about 46 of us training for the Chicago Marathon this year. We’re all running it for Team World Vision which brings clean water to those who need it the most in Africa.

This week is week 6 of training and I already feel myself changing. This past Saturday was the second time I ran with my church group, and it was amazing. We ran 10 miles and we crushed it! Not only do I notice my chub decreasing, I also feel my legs getting stronger. But beyond that, I feel healthier all around. Not just physically, but also mentally. My mind feels more clear and focused. I feel like I can achieve my goals that I have for myself.

If you have the means, please consider helping me bring clean water to the women and children in Africa. This small act will allow them time to do other things, like go to school and study. Thank you!

https://www.teamworldvision.org/participant/jenb

When to walk away

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Do you feel emotionally drained and don’t know why? Do you doubt yourself after talking to your partner? There are 5 things that every emotional manipulator does to confuse and drain you.

  1. They will persistently dismiss your emotions. If you ever tell your significant other about something they did or said that hurt you, they will turn it around and say you’re making it a bigger deal than it really is, disregarding your feelings. Their apathetic attitude will eventually make you start doubting yourself, so you introspectively gather your thoughts and start believing it’s your fault. You lose motivation to pursue the issue any further.
  2. They play “tit for tat” pretty well. If you ever become confident to approach them with what you think they are lacking in terms of affection or intimacy or emotional support, they  will respond by listing all the things they find lacking in you. They might try and throw it back at you and once again blame you for the reason there’s even an issue in the first place. If you’re like me, this will just make you crawl into your shell further.
  3. They are completely different people when no one else is around. You’re with your friends having a great time, everyone’s laughing. But then at the end of the night when no one else is around, your partner starts a fight saying how terrible you are with his friends and how mean you are to him in front of his friends. He can make fun of you but you can’t make fun of him back. Sometimes it feels like he just wants to fight.
  4. They try to convince you that everyone else is on their side. We all make mistakes, but if you make a mistake and you’re with an emotional manipulator, one thing to look out for is if they try and point out to you the error of your ways and tell you that everyone else is in agreement that you’re wrong. These supposed phantom alliances that allegedly conspire against you leave you feeling left out and insecure. If you inquire as to who’s saying this, you probably won’t receive an answer or they will just lie to your face.
  5. To them you are not intelligent enough to understand their reasoning. An emotional manipulator is not prone to explaining their own actions to you when asked, their reason will be that it’s too complex for you to understand. Their goal is to put themselves above you by pointing out to you your lack of intelligence. If your partner continues to withhold information from you, you will never know when you do something right or wrong. This puts you in a terrible, vulnerable place to be attacked over the smallest things.

Speaking from experience, if your significant other is doing these things, it’s time to leave. There’s no reasoning with someone who’s unwilling to be reasonable. And no one deserves to be manipulated like that anyways. We are all our own people and we all have a right to our feelings and emotions.

Defend yourself from these types of people. Raise your tail feathers and quills. Don’t let manipulators get to you.