What is the most scary word you can think of?  The one word that comes to mind is vulnerability.  Vulnerability might lead to failure or to a life full of joy and love.  The pendulum can fall either way.

If you are truly courageous, vulnerability is merely an obstacle to hurl yourself over while running down your path to success.  It also requires strategy with a full throttle of execution.

Growing up in a small town in the Midwest women always have to have two things. Our purse, which Yankees call a pocketbook, and an exit plan.

There were times my exit plan was so good, it took people days to realize I wasn’t there.  Vulnerability was avoided at all costs.  Ever met a strong coward?  That was me.

Strength is from within our core.  That which causes us to bolt into uncomfortable situations.  Make decisions based on gut, not comfort.  See the What If—not the if this doesn’t happen.

Time is the biggest, precious, unrenewable resource we have.  And once the realization that courage and vulnerability go hand in hand— wasting it with people or in places that creates negativity or unhappiness was not an option.

When I think about powerful words that can create fear and conversely comfort.  I think about shame and vulnerability.  Conversely empathy and courage.

Courage and vulnerability are complimentary to each other.  You can’t really have courage without vulnerability.  To be brave is to be vulnerable.  Think about that.  In order to walk down the road of vulnerability—risk embarrassment—failure—heartache—you must have courage.

Years ago I was attempting to design a logo for my blog.  I wanted to create something that complimented what my blog is about.  That resonated as sassy, yet smart.  Down a path of strength yet funny.  Something women could relate to and men could appreciate.  The logos began to roll in.  The all time funny one was a Rhinoceros dancing on hind legs down a path of cupcakes.  The inventor of this image was so excited he said in a thrilled inflection, “We all love it!”  My response?  “Don’t use your invisible army with me.  Unless you have a mouse in your pocket, the only one that thinks this is awesome is you.”  Seriously?  Like most women, I’ve had to do my share of body image work.  To the point I’m dangerous.  I can give you my list of flaws in triplicate on a spreadsheet.  Having my image as a dancing Rhino was never going to happen.

The next image was a teddy bear holding a piece of chocolate.  A teddy bear?  The universal image of abuse and neglect.  That was a solid “absolutely not”.

As you can see, the logo became something much less complicated.  My computer and me sitting in a stiletto.  Why do I love stilettos?   Because they always fit—they express your tenacity—they give you power—they set your mood—when I slide my feet into a sassy pair of stilettos—everything changes.  The strut becomes bold.

So what is your relationship between courage and vulnerability?  Are you courageous enough to take chances?  Do you know the agony of defeat to experience the thrill of victory?  Or are you sitting on the sidelines criticizing those of us who are taking chances—jumping in the arena—and squeezing every ounce of life out of every moment?

Vulnerability is the key to wholehearted living and loving.

Years ago I was dating a guy in a complicated relationship.  What made it complicated wasn’t the two of us, but all of the driving forces around us.  Left to our own, we were wonderful.  Add in all of the outside programmed forces, we were a mess of confusion.  At one point we went to  a therapist.  I’d never been to one before.  In the Midwest if someone were to start a sentence with, “my therapist says” people would run screaming from them.  Immediate isolation would occur.

Now please allow me to digress.  If you’ve never gone to a therapist it’s quite the trip.  I walked in nervous about talking to a complete stranger—and left questioning every piece of myself.  By the end of that week, I had researched every flaw I determined myself to have—listed it on a spreadsheet—headed to another therapist and explained we had work to do—and we better get to it —every item —all of them on my list —inclusive of pivot tables.  Scared that therapist half to death.  I’m pretty sure he started drinking heavily after that.

Needless to say, what resonating comment the therapist did give me after telling me I was perfectly fine and didn’t need his help, was that a person willing to see their faults and work on being a better person, doesn’t need a therapist.  They already have their focus.

Of course go onto social media and you’ll see true abnormality.  People begging for attention.  Craving acceptance.  Desperately wanting the world to think their life is “blessed”.

Online—social media— is the cesspool of humanity

Ever wonder what shame is?  It is the feeling you’d get if you walked out of a room encompassing people you know —the ones you thought were your base in life— once you exit— they say such horrible things to a point you could never walk back in there again.  Ever experienced that?  I have.

It is the fear of having that kind of rejection causing us to not take chances.  Fear of isolation.

The question to ask yourself —Is it worth it to you to step into the arena and play big?  We have all heard the infamous Theodore Roosevelt speech about the man in the arena. Probably the most widely quoted speech in history.  For those of you who are not familiar with it:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

He also in the same speech said, “The poorest way to face life is to face it with a sneer.  A cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticize work which the critic himself never tries to perform, an intellectual aloofness which will not accept contact with life’s realities—all these are marks, not of superiority but of weakness.”

Why is it when people are too scared themself to take a risk, they criticize those of us who are able to set aside our fears and attempt what they are not courageous enough to?

Someone once told me I was able to take risks because I didn’t have as much to lose if things went South.  It is amazing to me the self inflicted obligations people can create to justify fear.

There is a man at this very moment living his days in a miserable marriage.  Why is it miserable?  Many reasons.  The most imperative, he lives a life absent of intimacy and passion.  Nothing in common with his spouse except children and grandchildren.  A quiet person sitting in a life he feels obligated to.  Sex with his partner minimal at best and unemotional.  His kids grown with lives of their own.  His desire to leave for a life filled with happiness and adventure at his fingertips.  Yet his fear of failure overpowering.  This describes many marriages unfortunately.  Hitting the pillow at night exhausted from misery only to wake up and look at their partner in disdain.  Their lives losing oxygen with each passing day.  How many people do you know that finally get the courage to leave—only to look back and say they should have left 10 years earlier as now they know true happiness?  If only they’d had the courage to be vulnerable.

I’ve moved around the entire US by myself.  Knowing absolutely no one in the new cities I was relocating to.  I have had numerous people say to me, “I could NEVER move into a place knowing no one.  How do you do that?”  I’d never thought to think in that way.  It was a new adventure.  Did I fail at my new adventures?  Sometimes.  I’ve failed at a lot of things in my life.  With each failure I criticized myself into oblivion—cried—A LOT—ever heard the term “ugly crying”?  That was me—personified.

After ugly crying, my next bottomed out move was a bag of peanut butter cups and reruns of my favorite sitcoms.  When my sugar high took me to the headache level, I’d switch to chips.  Continuing on the salt to sugar combination until I’d made myself dizzy.

At some point, I’d look in the mirror and realize the only thing either was accomplishing was a swollen, red face—and weight gain.  On one of these occasions I did figure out what a calorie was.  They are those little pains in the butt that go into our closets when we are sleeping at night and stitch our clothes so they don’t fit any longer!

If you relate to criticizing yourself beyond what any other human can do and then burying that empty feeling into a bag of peanut butter cups—you’re my people.  You’re my tribe.

Eventually, I’d regroup and refocus.

Why are we so terrified of shame and rejection?

After pushing myself through a broken body—inflicted on me by another person—through the pain of recovery—fighting through the mental destruction—rebuilding myself inside and out—I made the decision to live in the arena.  I would show up and take chances.  Squeeze every ounce of life out of every day.  Embrace change.

There is a risk though.  When you are brave with your life.  When you choose to be in the arena.  One thing is definite.  You will get your butt kicked.  You will fail.  Fall to your knees.  You will know defeat and heartbreak.  It is one thing to straighten your shoulders —stand tall—and proclaim you’re in the arena.  However, to actually be there is rough.  It’s a choice you make every single day.  Those that are in the arena—lying in the dirt next to you—bloodied and bruised—they understand.  You are my tribe.

Have no use for the ones sitting in the stands—criticizing—knocking others down to diminish their fears.

Today choose courage over fear.  Choose to be brave.  Be willing to risk failure and criticism.

It’s not about winning or losing.  It’s having the courage to show up when you have absolutely no control of the outcome.

What is vulnerability to you?

Being able to leave a marriage after years of misery not knowing what the world brings?

The first date after a divorce.

Trying to explain why you don’t have children when in truth a strong blow to the stomach by another human took that ability away, causing your body to have the ability to get pregnant but not be able to carry to term.  Then having to listen to someone tell you, “you’re not a parent so you don’t understand.”

Saying I love you first.

Saying I love you and having the person you love tell you they don’t “love you like they should”.

If you’re going to join me in the arena.  It’s really great.  There are many other people there just as strong.  Just as beat up.  People who are so strong, they will stretch out a helping hand even when they are bleeding out with pain.

Vulnerability is not weakness.  It’s the most accurate way to measure courage.

After worrying about everyone else’s opinions about me for years.  Trying to make people proud of me who never would be.  My conclusion in life finally is—If you are not in the arena getting your butt kicked on occasion because you are being brave I am not interested in what you think about me or my life.

There are millions of cheap seats in the world today filled with people who aren’t brave enough to step into the arena but they will make it a full time job to hurl criticism and judgement and cruel things toward us.   Don’t dissect their words and pull it close to yourself.  Just let it fall to the ground—jump over it and keep going.

Criticism and feedback from people who aren’t brave in their own lives is useless, it will only crack your armor and crush you.  Push it away.  Run from it like a terrorist with a gun.

Negativity and betrayal will diminish every piece of you.  That is what the bystanders on the sidelines want.  They want you to fail.  It gives them satisfaction.  They can’t wait to say, “I told you so”or “I knew you’d fail”.  We are hard wired to care what people think.  But I’m here to tell you not to give a s*** what any of those cowards think.

Be specific of the people you do care about their opinions.  Be very calculated in who you allow on that list.  It only takes a small amount of vinegar to sour the entire bucket of milk.

People who love you not despite your imperfections but because of them.  People who challenge you in a good way to be a better person.  Those people running across the arena to pick you up—pull you back on your feet—brace you up when you’re down until you can stand without assistance again.

In 2013, I lost my beloved dog.  Most people think the world of their pets.  This dog —everyone loved.  He was a true saint.  When everyone else is telling you how awesome your dog is— not you telling everyone—that’s when you know.  I will concede that having a dog as your number one companion in life is not smart given their short life span.   However, by the time I realized how embedded my life was with his—it was already in play.  When he was diagnosed with cancer, it was devastating.  The man I was with at the time loved him as much as me.  When his spleen ruptured from the cancer and the difficult decision came to have to euthanize—this man was with us.  He said to me, “you know I can’t stay in the room” in a somber voice.  My words, “you know I won’t leave him”. He was my heart and I wouldn’t let the last thing he saw on this earth be a stranger.  With his last breath, my heart ripped from my body.  To this day, I can remember the emptiness—the hole—the ache.  In my grief, the world was empty—disjointed.  I needed the man in my world to hold me—tell me my life would be ok—for him to tell me until it was, he would have my back.  Hold me up.

In society we have norms.  Think about that.

Feminine norms – appearance and body image

Masculine norms – don’t be perceived as weak

When my dog passed.  In all of my grief, I was unable to look at what this man was going through.  Four days after euthanizing my dog, he said, “I can not continue to feel guilty about you losing him.”  I’ve thought about that through the years.  It wasn’t my grief bothering him.  It was the feeling he was weak —the guilt he was inflicting on himself for not staying in the room.  Even though that never crossed my mind.  Even though I never perceived him as weak.  He was putting that on himself.  Societal norms.  To a point he wanted everything to just go away so he wouldn’t be reminded of anything.  Looking back, I failed him by not communicating  better to let him know everyone handles things in their own way.  There was no right or wrong.  We were both hurting.

Why is it the brain always wants a story it understands —a story it can protect you with.  It wants a good guy—it wants a place to put fault and blame—a bad guy.  The person telling the story typically wants to be the good guy.  Unless you have a brain like mine, then you are consistently the bad guy.  But why does there have to be either?

Why can’t we just show up and support each other?

Now sanity wasn’t necessarily my gift in life.   When someone told me I couldn’t do something it typically fueled my fury to do so.  Once the statement “watch me” hit my brain—I was hell bent to do whatever it was to prove them wrong.

What I have found is the most resilient people are fueled by fury.  They know what it’s like to be on the ground bleeding and have others criticize them instead of helping them back up.  To be aware and cognizant of others we care about.

If a woman can sit with a vulnerable man and not use it to overpower him but just be with him.  Not use his weakness to fuel power.  She has become his strength.  His power.

Show me a guy who can sit with a woman in fear and shame and vulnerability who doesn’t have to fix anything but can just listen.  He’s a guy who doesn’t derive his power and status from being the incredible wizard the  fixer of all things.  He doesn’t criticize her, rather he holds her until she is strong again.

Neither holding anything in the past as power for the future.  These are the people to surround yourself with.  Those that deserve our attention and time.

Girls you know the man that makes you weak.  The one we all should run from.  We have all had one in our life.  This is the ex that keeps those heart strings pulled taut. The one that goes weeks and then suddenly texts at 1:00 am to tell you they are thinking about you. The one that will rekindle your hopes and dreams for a few days and then vanish into their own reality, leaving you to wonder what you did wrong—again.  The one that feeds off of knowing you still have feelings.  However, doesn’t understand the immense heart they lost.  If you are experiencing this in your life as you read—the only thing you did wrong was let them jump the boundary fence you need to guard.  Don’t give someone an open door policy when they’ve vacated. You are not a back up plan.  Believe in your worth.  And don’t let anyone define that worth for you.

I have determined if you always have to have a good guy and a bad guy your world will become very contained.

In the arena, there are no good guys, or bad guys.  There are strong people willing to give everything they have in the hope of success.  They know the agony of defeat.  Of being beaten to a point of quitting—yet they stand back up—dust off—and try again.

My hope is to meet all of you in the arena.

Helping each other up when we fall.

To be vulnerable is to be courageous.

The benefits far outweigh the risk!

Stay healthy!

What’s love got to do with it?  Tina Turner put this to a tune.  Men say it confused standing next to women daily.  Females dissect this statement with precision analytics.

Covid has changed the trajectory of so many things in society.  When quarantine locked everyone down, the social media perfect relationships exploded like an over cooked hard boiled egg.

It’s easier to have a wonderful relationship when each can go about living their lives independently, yet together.  When quarantine locks you down like a caged animal—that’s when the rubber meets the road on whether or not your partner is a friend or that annoying kid on the playground who won’t stop kicking the back of your shoes while you walk.

Watch the memes pop up on Facebook.  They give a telling story.  One couple I know had daily posts with snuggle up pics.  You know the ones—if you’re single they make you feel like the last survivor on an island of spinsters.  They caption the sappy pics with, “never give up on love—we found it!”  and “I love you Hun!”  Within a couple of months these same people start posting memes captioned with, “Never live with a Narcissist!” typically followed by a long poem.  Or, “With a broken heart I walk away to rebuild my soul.”  Eventually we find out the blissful, ecstatic couple have broken up.

This happens all of the time.  Social media is like watching a soap opera of every day life messes.  Why must you profess your undying love or anniversary wishes to someone who should be within arms reach away?   Why not profess to them—in private?  Have you ever heard the expression,”thou doth profess too much”?  If you have to profess it publicly, odds are there is a fly in the coffee.  Probably more the size of a palmetto bug.

My favorite train wreck to date, is a couple who have been married for 29 years.  The husband cornered into marriage by a pregnancy.  He will readily admit without hesitation, minus the pregnancy, he would never have married his wife.  The wife thinks they have a blissfully happy marriage.  While she is anxiously planning her birthday trip with him and their 30th Anniversary party—the husband dreads every moment with her.  He has been having sexual encounters with many stray women for years, all while pursuing another woman he considers his “total package”.  After many years of pursuing his “total package”, this woman finally looks his way.  A love affair begins.  One day he pops up on his own proclaiming he is leaving his wife.  The total package is elated, as he has her entire heart.   She loves him with every ounce of her existence.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the strength or mental toughness to actually pursue his dreams and be happy in life.  Eventually this builds to a point he blows up at the one woman he doesn’t want to lose and the “total package” walks away with a broken heart.  What happened to the marriage?  The wife, unaware of what has transpired, continues to happily plan her birthday trip and their 30th Anniversary celebration.  The husband, goes back to living in worse misery as now he knows love and lives without it.  Each of his days trying to bury his darkness within random sexual encounters.  Even though no other woman will ever fill the void he now feels, his pride is too strong to follow his heart.  He lets his one chance to have a full life—full heart—true happiness —shatter without an attempt to fix it.

Isn’t life an interesting intermix of complication ordered with 2 scoops of crazy finished with a side order of koo koo kachoo?

Why is the life motto of some people, “push away the pain—fill the void”?

So—What is love?  Marriage isn’t love.  Marriage is a business arrangement like an LLC.  Voice that in conversation sometime and watch what happens.  Some people lose their minds.  For some, marriage is the shackle that affords them the ability to entrap one person under their clutches with the inability to get away.  It is a life sentence of misery, lack of intimacy mixed with a daily drag of existence.

Marriage is a great institution—but are we really ready for an institution?

Ask yourself, “Am I thrilled with my life from now until death?”

If the answer is a resounding “no”—take your adversity to change and smash it into the ground.  Decide what truly makes you happy—don’t stop until you get it.

In the movie Serendipity—John Cusack’s character, Jonathan Trager, is sitting alongside his friend Dean.  Dean gives Jonathan an epiphany.  Men let their pride get in the way of their heart, whereby affording them nothing.  He states with indignation, “You are a JACKASS!”   He  then goes on, “You are my hero.  You’re like my Oracle. You’re out there, man, and you’re making it happen!”  Jonathan was following his heart, making a Jackass out of himself all for the woman he loved—for the love his heart desired.  This caused Dean to fully admire him.

Do people really understand what love is?  Not necessity or fear of being alone.  Actual true love.

Why do some love in a funnel?

Could love possibly have sub components?

Loyalty—Honesty—Trust

I live by these three words.

Loyalty—at the risk of sounding dramatic, I would take a bullet for anyone in my inner circle.  Anyone I love.  Anyone in my heart.  Without hesitation.  Never would I speak poorly of them.  That would be negative on myself as they are in my world.

Honesty—never ever, absolutely never lie to anyone in your heart.  One lie, creates doubt on everything past and present from that point on.

Trust—if you can’t trust someone with your life without question—why are they in your life?  The cornerstone of life is trust.  I’ve asked many people if they trust their partner.  It’s amazing the half excuses they come up with trying to convince themself they have trust when in reality, they don’t trust their partner with money, responsibility, or most importantly their life.  Yet they stay in hopeless misery—afraid of change.

In my world, I truly loved a man with my entire heart and soul.  I would have given my life for him.  His happiness made me happy.  His smile warmed my heart.  Unfortunately, life isn’t a Lifetime movie.  All endings aren’t always happy.  Simply put, he didn’t love me back.  As difficult as that is to process, we can’t make someone truly love us.

In the darkness of heartbreak, I was destroyed.  My soul cracked like a rock when water freezes in it.  There is only so much torture we can go through— the rest is just showing off.  It was within that darkness—I found strength.  Just like the caterpillar who thought the world was over when the cocoon closed up into darkness—suddenly there is light and they become a butterfly.

Never run from a struggle.  Love people whether they were there to teach you—or in your life to stay.

It doesn’t matter what you fake on social media.  It is what your actual life entails that matters.  How happy you are to wake up in the morning.  How amazing—breathtaking—your days are from sunrise to sunset.  How proud you are when you look at your partner and your heart fills with warmth and amazement.  I pity those who look at their partner in disdain.  Whose partners are detriments to their lives instead of enrichments.  Those partners whose only focus is themself.  What a cold, dark sentence that must be.  To live year after year with a person who not only does not warm your heart—but freezes your soul.

True love—real love—not the word but the action—the emotion— is an amazing thing.

If it’s love that unites us.  Sees us through.

It’s love that lifts us out of the dark.  When people put their lies on you—attack you—and try to take you out.  Remember to let the love of those around you carry you through.  Their love will shield you.

The truth is, ignorance and hate hold hands.  They try to blind you.  Smother.  They try to destroy the light of hope.  Our love can consume the darkness and drive out the hate.  That love might not change everyone.  Such as people who have never felt true, honest love.  Who want to intimidate—bully—puff out their chest in an attempt to make you run scared.

Sometimes in life we are forced into the darkness.  That light never fully goes dark.  If we breathe—stay focused on our strength—look for the light.  When you’re hiding certain things that you’re holding onto as shame—you push away the light—you push away the happiness.  You afford the darkness to overcome.  Your strength—your core—will catapult you back.

Marriage is not love.  Love is not an expression.  It is an action taken every day to make sure those special enough to have space within our most treasured asset—our heart—know their worth.  Make an effort every day to be the Oracle. To make things happen.

To be a “Jackass”.

Even if that means shoving our pride into a canister and showing vulnerability.  Let our hearts lead to diminish the fear of change.

Work hard until you get it right—then work harder until you can’t get it wrong.

No matter what life gives you—Give more back!

Strength with grace—Power with Poise

Stay Healthy!

 


Growing up in rural America, we are conditioned from birth to pair off, marry and have as many babies as physically possible.  As an adult—a single female with no children— I’m continuously judged —harshly.  Why do people judge negatively to those who choose a different path than the norm?

Most of my classmates went the direction taught to us from birth.   They also judged all of us that went against that grain.  2020 brought them to their truth.  Isn’t it interesting to see the perfect social media relationships during and post covid lockdown?

People want you to believe their marriages, relationships and lives are beyond perfect.  Go on social media and you’ll experience the happy bliss.  Speak to them offline—they are clawing like a cat on a hot tin roof to keep their sanity within miserable relationships.  My one question when they call for some sanity—“Are you ok with your life from now until death?”

Read that again—“Are you ok with your life from now until death?”

If the answer is “no”—do what is necessary to make that happen.

Why is it so important for people to give a fake facade?

The world has enough people who know how to paint a pretty life impression.  Who play games while thinking only of themselves.

It needs people who are honest, dependable and who tell it like it is.  Whether it benefits them or not.  People who can express their feelings—even if it leaves them vulnerable.  They can take the risk in the hope of a huge reward.

Living all over this country, I’ve observed how different people are.  Some states have an overall feel.  California was mellow.  Oklahoma a genuine salt of the earth, what you see is what you get.  Some a specific city.  Chicago and New York City are in your face with an agenda.  Boston they like to play games.

The past couple of years have been particularly hard for me.  My heart and my body were broken.  My brain had to reset and remind me of the values where I started— rural America.

Please allow me to digress:

My father had me pounding steel posts when I was 12.  It taught me to work hard for something you want.  That is a satisfying thing.

Throughout childhood, I was at the barn by 5am most days.  It wasn’t work to clean the stalls, or exercise horses.  It kept me focused—out of trouble.  Hauling hay and building fence were a necessity.  There were days my body ached so bad it wouldn’t move another inch.  My hands bled.  Water stinging like fire.  Bandages were used to cushion the next day’s work.  Blisters whether on your hands, heels or feet were never a reason for a day off.

There were few sunrises and sunsets I missed from the alleyway of the barn.  Never a complaint left my mouth.  It calmed my heart to be there.  The smell of the shavings—the sound of the heartbeats.  The barn was my escape—my church.

The grit I learned as a child afforded me the ability to figure out my focus in the hardest of times.  When my world was at its darkest.  When my body wanted to give up—my heart was shattered—and my soul broken down.  It is at these times we are the most isolated.  It is at these times we have to dig deep—find our roots—use them to regrow.

I’ve learned the physical body heals easily compared to the ache of the heart and mind.

My heart loves deeply.  It knows no other way.  When my heart realized the love I felt wasn’t returned—it bled out until open space made it hollow. That hollow aching worse than any pain I’ve ever experienced.

Back to my original point—“Are you ok with your life from now until death?”

No matter how big we blow up the bubble of denial—the truth doesn’t waiver.

Know your truth—Figure out how to communicate it even if the vulnerability terrifies you.

Covid lockdown has definitely pushed the limits of everyone.  Some grew stronger.  Others fell apart.  Some found grit.  Others succumbed to weakness.

What we should have learned through it all is to always pour our heart and soul into our passion.  Be stubborn about our goals.  Be eager to learn from others.  Speak kindness to a stranger. To that young kid who may be looking up to you.

Be soft with your hands and words, yet strong in your morals.

Do something you have always wanted to do but scared  to.

Break the mold.

Be elated with your life from now until death. Take the risk. Make the change.  The reward is worth it.

Stay healthy!

 

 


Choices.  An activity we do many times a day.  We choose what time we wake up, get out of bed, whether to go to work, or stay home.  Whether to leave the house, exercise, eat, drink or play.  Do you ever stop and think about all of the choices made in a day?

Every day we will be exposed to both good and bad circumstances.  It is our choice to react negatively or positively to each one.

Take a look at something as simple as wearing a mask.  Some people embrace it.  They understand it helps diminish pathogen transfer.  Others act like toddlers pitching a tantrum after having been told they can’t have a chocolate bar at the grocery store.  Simple choices yet powerful on perspective.

Everyone has known the kind of person people love to hate.  Always in a good mood with something positive to say.  I know one of these types when asked how they were doing, the reply was always, “If I were any better, I’d be twins!”

Positive people are a unique breed.  They tend to have others follow them, enjoy their company, they are inspiring.

How do positive people stay positive amidst all of the turmoils of life?  Their choices.

Every morning when we awaken, we have two choices.  Choose to be in a good mood, or choose to be in a bad mood.  Positive people choose to be in a good mood.  They smile from the inside out.  Do bad things happen?  Of course they do.  When that occurs. They choose to learn as opposed to being a victim of it.  When listening to someone complain—they don’t accept it, but rather point out the positive in it.  They choose the positive side of life.

Always without fail.

Life is all about choices.  When you cut away all of the noise in life, every situation is a choice.  We choose how we will react.  Nothing or no one choose for us.  We choose how people affect our mood.  Choose to love.  Choose to hate.  Choose to judge.  Choose to accept.  We choose how we live our life.

Think about that.  Do you make choices about life, or do you just react to it?

Throughout life I’ve always thought about this.  Am I reacting to life—or making a choice.

Two years ago, I was injured very badly.  The doctor’s faces lent knowledge my condition was not good.  Talking to anyone was impossible as a tube filled my throat.  My head muffled by the medications flowing through my body.  Many medical professionals came and went from my bedside, their faces lent knowledge things were not good.

I was alone with my thoughts.

In this state you think about everything.  Your life to that point.  The highs—the lows.  Those you love, and those you’ve lost.  It was by the hand of another I was there.  That filled my thoughts at times too.  Yet I was alive—barely.

After several days, a nurse came in with a little white board and a dry erase pen.  I’d yet to communicate with anyone other than a quick nod.  She smiled when our eyes locked.  That smile reminded me of my grandmother.   Which lent a warm embrace to my heart.  She asked if I thought I could hold a pen and write.  As I reached for the items she stated, “Now we can have a little chat!”

Having not held anything in some time, the pen felt odd.  The white board dropping to the floor.  I had difficulty with it.  She smiled and said, “I’ll hold it.”  She pushed the button to lift the back of the bed, to sit me up higher.  As she did so, I noticed my nails weren’t polished.  They had removed all polish to see my nail beds.  My hands were always manicured.  It caught me off guard to see my nails bare, hands white as if I hadn’t been in daylight for years.  The small insignificant things in life.  It startled me.  She noticed.

Tell me what you’re thinking, she asked.

I thought for a bit.  Remembering the choices I had in life.  Choose to be happy.  Choose to react.  Choose to think negative.  Choose to think positive.  Many things filling my mind.

As I was thinking, the nurse changed the subject.  “Tell me what you’re allergic to.” She requested.

I wrote the one word that popped into my head.  “Hospitals.”

She looked at the word with bewilderment and a chuckle bubbled up.  Although I couldn’t smile, or laugh—her smile and laughter warmed my heart.

When her laughter relaxed, she quipped, “Tell me what you are thinking.  Let’s have a little chat.”

The pen wobbled between my fingers as I wrote.  “Thank you and everyone for caring for me.” She watched as my hand wrote the words across the white board.  “I have one request though.”

The nurse looked at me with curiosity.  She wiped the board clean, handing it back for me to continue.

I knew I had to change the trajectory to positive—somehow.  There was too much negative surrounding me.  It was dark.  Cold.  Heavy.

I wrote slowly.  “Can you ask everyone to look at me as if I’m going to live, instead of as if they are waiting for me to die?”  Every time someone looked at me, I could read in their eyes how bad off I was.  “Tell them I choose to live.  Walk in here and treat me as if I’m going to live.”

My nurse started to cry, which made my eyes water too.

The nurse sat for some time chatting with me.  Watching me slowly write my thoughts.  Reading every word intently.  We had a very nice chat.  It was the first time since my injury I had actually spoken with another human.  To connect warmed my heart.

Months later, when I was able to speak, that same nurse and I chatted again.  She told me the doctor had requested she take a white board in to have me inform who was my next of kin.  They did not expect me to live.  She informed after we had our chat, that if I could push myself to live.  To be positive within all of the negative, the least they could do is to treat me as if I would live and not under the assumption I would die.  After all, why should they give up on me if I wasn’t giving up on myself.

Every day we have a choice to live fully. What we do with that choice is up to us.

Will you choose to embrace life?  Will you choose the positive?

The choice is yours to make.  Choose wisely.

Stay healthy!

The happiest people in the world don’t wait for permission to create the life they desire.

Instead they create it themselves.

We have all heard the now overused words “unprecedented times”.  Have you ever stopped to think about what that means to you—to the everyday circumstances we encounter?

This time last year we all were going about our lives, most with no knowledge of what a pathogen transfer was.  Nor how it would grossly affect our lives.  Hand sanitizer was a novelty, face masks were only worn on Halloween and masquerade galas.

But with new restrictions our lives have dramatically changed.  Thanks to masks —We can’t see a smile in public any longer.  If you’re hearing impaired, reading lips is nonexistent.  Hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes and cleaning supplies are valuable commodities.

We are working, learning and socializing from our living rooms.  Public gatherings are at 10 people or less.  Those that break the state’s mandate are given fines, or in some cases, jail time.

Unprecedented Times—

Some are enjoying the ability to be in the comfort of their home without having to make excuses for not going out.  Others are clawing their way out of the unhappiness or controlling environment of their homes.  Some are losing their minds—others are finding them.  There are those eating their way through the quarantine—and those utilizing the time to revamp their bodies and minds.

Whichever category you are—the meaning of unprecedented times varies.

For those whose lives are spiraling down what seems to be the darkest rabbit hole of all time, remember, everyone’s lives look perfect to us when our own lives are in turmoil.  With the existence of social media, this is magnified.

It is interesting to me, the one thing all of us have control of —ourselves.  How we think, what we eat, working out, hydration, manners, motion, actions and reactions—all up to us.  Yet the things people try to control are other people and circumstances out of their control.  It’s easier to try and fix exterior issues than things within ourselves.

If only people focused on themselves —their actions—as much as they do on other people.

Before a pandemic struck, those of us who relocated away from family and friends have known unprecedented times well.  If you ever want to build character—move to an unfamiliar city—no friends—no family.  It will test your resilience like you can’t imagine.  Some days you feel independent and loved and other days you feel forgotten and confused.

The emotional and physical strength it takes is difficult to describe.  It will define how tough you truly are.  To establish yourself in an unknown environment helps you grow into a strong person, but the process can come in waves.

Sure, you have phone calls, texts, Facebook posts, FaceTime and Zoom.  Those can only do so much on the days you need advice, you need a virtual hug, or you just need someone to vent to.

Some days you might feel like you’re losing touch with everyone in your circle.  You feel like everyone is living happily without you.  They call while going to dinners, cookouts, parties—all things you aren’t a part of.

Birthdays and holidays you miss—fun family photos you aren’t in.  Some days you wish you could drop everything and go back. Other days you’re happy for the new adventure.

The one thing to remember—Adventure helps you grow—establish yourself.

My first move to an unfamiliar place, there were days I realized upon leaving the office on Friday afternoon, there wasn’t another person I would speak face to face until Monday morning.  My GPS directed me home—which was a relief when I managed to find it again!  It was unprecedented for me.  That time made me resilient—afforded me the ability to be ok by myself.

It is in times of adversity a person’s true character comes out.

Eventually, I built a stronger —wiser me.

Don’t let the word “unprecedented” fool you.  Every new day is unknown—unprecedented.  Wake up every day with a passion to find new adventure—control what you can—focus forward.

Shoulda—Coulda—Woulda—never helped anyone reach a goal!

Small things matter.  Maybe a new pair of shoes.  Whomever said a pair of shoes can’t change your life—never understood Cinderella!

“What” and “if” when left alone are simple words.

But put them together—what if—and you have the power to dream, hope—to see the future.

“What if” has the power to create—open up the mind.  Create vision—dream adventure.

Change your life.

What if you changed your focus?  What if that focus created an entirely new adventure?  What if that adventure built a fantastic life you never dreamed possible?

Stay healthy!

 

This year has definitely been one of unique proportions.  Just when you think you’ve seen the best of the overwhelming situations—someone or something surpasses the insanity.

Has Covid brought out the insanity in people?  Most likely not.  Some people have an innate ability to hide behind whatever they can find to mask their shortcomings.  Covid supplied a convenient excuse.  Suddenly, everyone becomes hyper sensitive to personal hygiene—hand washing —personal space—and quarantine, which is just another word for isolating.

If you’re someone like me—who has been conscience of pathogen transfer and likes things clean—doesn’t mind being by yourself—and mostly cooks at home—you’ve been training for a national pandemic your entire life!  Live it up and thrive!

If you’re someone who requires to be center of attention—doesn’t know personal hygiene —and must go out and about for a fix of social interaction—or to flee your home life—you might be one of those who are now drinking alcohol in large quantities while chanting at the moon from the yard.

For me, this year started off with a death in the family.  Anytime someone dies, it causes reflection on life, the future and not taking things for granted.  I try very hard to remember how short life is, not take it for granted and squeeze every ounce out of every day.  This year, even though in quarantine or wearing a mask, is no different.

Midway through the year, I had a profound wake up call.  Over the course of a week, the entire universe shifted.  A person whom I thought was a close friend and confidant, more like a sister—someone I thought I knew well—had a meltdown of mass proportions.  Beyond what any normal person could wrap their head around.  In the course of trying to get them the help they needed, their true core showed through.  It was in that moment, the Trojan horse was revealed, unveiling how truly toxic this person is.

Before the toxic sludge spewing from their mouth ended—my being adopted—a former painful  relationship—whatever could be used for maximum infliction were thrown out.

To watch someone you trusted flopping themselves around, swinging their cell phone above their head like a party favor, screaming, harassing, losing their mind, completely out of control of every part of their existence—blaming everyone for actions of themself—wanting to hurt those that are trying to save them from their demons.  It’s sobering to experience.  Was it Covid?  No.  Not at all.  It was merely a toxic person unveiling what they could no longer hide.

Eventually, the pitiful display became physical.  All you can do in a situation where a person is seething at the mouth to a point of foaming—ready to attack—whaling cries like a boar in the wild—is to keep your rational thought in tact—as they don’t have any.  Keep them from hurting themself and hope you aren’t forced to contain them.

In my case, it was pitiful to watch this person—fist like a child behind their head—stomping at me in full temper tantrum—leading with the face.  My instincts and training telling me, “square your feet—break the nose—drop the body”.  However, with my brain in tact, and a human more than twice my size moving in like a juvenile delinquent in a rage, I merely braced and kept them from harming themself any more than had already transpired.  I am human though.  Wanting that ridiculous fist above the head to hit me just once, so I could slingshot their carcass onto the pavement crossed my mind several times.

Even when we are collected and thinking—we still want some satisfaction.

If you ever experience anything like this, my best advice is to diffuse the situation as best as possible.

It’s been hard to wrap my head around how I trusted someone who is truly toxic.  Sometimes, even our best instincts are able to be numbed by deception.  Learn from those times and move on.  The more time you spend trying to find explanations for toxic behavior, will only be wasted.  There is no understanding of it.

I think of that person now with pity.  How sad it is what they have lost.  Never to recover from.  Remaining in the darkness.  Of course, they blame everyone but themself.  Of course, they are the victim.  A typical side effect of a toxic person.  Blame is much easier than self awareness.  No matter how many therapists, counselors or doctors you tell a fabricated story to, the truth in fact doesn’t change.  Nor does the reality.

Those of us left in the wake, get stronger.  For we have witnessed the darkness—realizing what we truly don’t want to be.  Thankful we are away from it.  Hoping it doesn’t infect any other unsuspecting people.

For awhile, I was disappointed—hurt—mad at myself for giving the benefit of the doubt to bad behavior.  One must learn to give themself some grace.  I truly believe there are more good people than bad.  It’s the bad ones that help us appreciate the good.

Take the time to learn from any situation.  With every door that closes, a new brighter one manages to open.  My world has become brighter.  The days are filled with smiles, laughter and in making great memories.  Cherish every breath.

Look to the people who have truly good intentions.

I remember several years ago, when I was doubting myself, a friend convinced me on a whim to complete a Spartan race with her.  She left out the part about going up and down ski mountains (did you know black diamond runs are very steep on foot?)….she didn’t know either and that probably wouldn’t have stopped us anyway!   We met incredible, inspirational and motivational people that have gone through unimaginable struggles.  I watched, learned and found myself humbled by how amazing people are!

My childhood friend who never ceases to make me laugh.  Can always remind me of the simple things to embrace and not sweat over things we can’t.

Many other friends who are our constant source of energy and strength.  You don’t need a large pool of friends.  What you need are people with integrity, whom you can trust have your best interest and no personal motive but to see you happy.

Never let the darkness take away your light.

Grounded people help you find important things when you have lost them….your smile….your hope….your courage….your self confidence.  It is within those moments you realize how blessed you are to have crossed paths with these people.

Be grateful for the dark, toxic people—they remind us where we never want to be.  Maybe that is why, every so often, we must brush by them.  To appreciate our light.

Remember—on those days you are covered in dirt and sweat—tackling obstacles beyond what you ever  thought you could—sore to the core—but finishing strong and proud—the days you think nothing else could go wrong—yet something else does—keep your chin up—find your strength—breathe—hold your head up and look for the positive!

Never let anyone steal your light!

If you believe….you can achieve!

I’ve been an equestrian most of my life.   As a child, I begged and pleaded for a horse.  Finally wearing my parents down when I was 9.  Horses have been a passion of mine ever since.  The other day, I was asked why horses are so important to me.

It would be difficult for me to put into words everything being an equestrian has afforded me.  The love of a horse—the ability to develop teamwork without words—the trust involved with doing so.

It is common for children to want a pony.  A select few are privileged enough to have their very own.  I’ve been honored to have some amazing equine friends, confidants, team members throughout my life.

Horses have given me the ability to have a conversation —mediate—argue—and love— all without words.  It is a quiet communication based on loyalty—trust—patience—without it, you could have 1700 pounds of breathing, thinking power crushing down on you.

Most of my friends, I met through the stable.  My horse’s home gave me my human counterparts.  When you share the love of a horse, you understand the bond.  That understanding bonds you to others as well.

Responsibility came quickly when there were stalls to clean, mouths to feed and bodies to exercise.  Learning every quirk in each one’s personality.  Whether it was freezing cold or blistering hot, I looked forward to every moment in the stable.  The smell of the cedar shavings.  The unique scent of alfalfa.  The calming sound of the noise horses make.

Quickly I began to compete.  Going into the ring gave me purpose.  A place for my partner and I to test out skills together.  Each competition giving new skills to work on.  My goal, to win.  Eventually, that goal was toppled over and I began to compete against myself.

Lazy weekends became an anomaly.  There was always work to be done.  Hard work.  However, you see more sunrises and sunsets than you ever thought possible.  Of course they are from the alleyway of the barn.

There were mornings I ran late for school, but my horses were well fed and taken care of.  At times, reaching into my pocket to find remnants of the hay I fed earlier in the day.  My father doing random inspections of my car to make sure all was clean and tidy.  Having horses, chores and work did not lend excuse for an unkept vehicle.

My weekends were spent freezing or burning to death on the back of a horse— in the stable or in the show ring.  I gained confidence and friends, learning new skills —having fun and getting dirty!  Enjoying the work involved to become an accomplished equestrian.

I can’t remember my first date— but distinctly remember the day I took my first few steps of a canter, the first taste of a jump, first rosette, first win.  The day I met my first trusted friend who would remain my confidant, partner in competition— who would frustrate me the most—let me down the least and return the love I had unconditionally.  We won together—lost together—and my trusted friend held me up when my world crashed around me.

My human counterparts went to parties, on dates and attended homecoming dances.  I worked on my goals for the next competition.  Before I knew it I had transformed from a child begging for a horse— into an exceptional young rider fighting to qualify for ranked shows—fiercely competing on every course in every arena I entered.  The adrenaline from flying on the back of a horse —intoxicating.

Horses were more than just something to take up time.  It became my sport—talent—grounded me—gave me footing—put me through college—landed my hopes and developed my dreams.

Parents ask me what riding did for me and should they start their child in lessons.  When you give your child a pony, you give them more than just something to ride. You give them a sport, a talent, hope and dreams. Friends, a new family, a place to learn about life, room to grow as a person where they can push their limits, bravery, courage, and memories. They will have ALL of these things, simply because you gave your child a pony.

I can walk into a classroom and tell you which little girls ride.  Horses give them the ability to think on their own—make good solid decisions—compromise when necessary—never give up—believe in yourself—and never follow anything but your instincts.

I cherish my lifelong friendships as well as new friendships developed solely from the same passion for the sport.  I have an equestrian family with a solid grit and an understanding of the love only received from a horse.  We know the work involved, yet find it enjoyable.

One day, when I was home, my parents had several trophies they had found while going through boxes. I picked one up and realized instantly that my bond with horses ran through my veins with memories—both past and yet to be created.  It was in that moment I realized that everything given up and sacrificed along the way was worth it.

And it all started with the desire to have a horse.

Stay Healthy!

It seems as though everyone has their definition of perfect.  The fashion and modeling world create pictures of it.  Medicine creates ways of surgically altering to create it.  If you want a new nose, lips, chest, stomach, cheeks, even a butt there are surgical ways to alter yourself.  Perfection can now be purchased.

What is perfection though?  Is it merely how we look aesthetically?  Do we ever consider perfection on a level deeper than a puddle?

With the invent of social media, pictures of everything are floating around.  One can create an alternate life of what exists in reality.  There are marriages of unimaginable happiness portrayed in pictures and comments, which in reality are loveless and miserable.  Families whose parents portray them lovingly, who have children resenting them.  Businesses gloating over a “Best Places to Work” title, while employees feel unappreciated and abused.

Why is it so important to create a false sense of reality?  Perfection.  Everyone is reaching for the title.

What is perfection though?  Is it achievable merely aesthetically by the DNA you are dealt, or something much deeper?

If it’s merely by a lucky draw of DNA, then why are people given the title of beautiful sometimes depressed, alone and isolated?  If it’s based on a bank book, why are some people with more money than God himself who have the ability to have vulgar displays of wealth so unhappy?

I grew up with several children whose parents were extremely wealthy.  There was money to buy literally anything.  And yet, they resented their parent’s control.  Love was not something they truly knew.  It was more something they learned to “show”.  Values on gifts defined the amount of love involved.

So many people today look at life in a funnel.  They take what they can, thinking only of their own needs.  Their idea of perfection based on the number of likes, balance in their account, weight measurement on a scale, or their ability to take a beautiful picture of themself.

Is that where we are as a society?  Are we more interested in what we look like than what we are made of?

I once had an executive find a motivational book on “grit”.  The word was a novelty to him.  So much so, he bought everyone a copy of the book.  He spoke about it every chance he had.  Like an epiphany had swooped down and opened his world.  Where I grew up in the rural Midwest, grit was a word we knew from birth.  We heard it from our grandparents, parents, coaches —whomever was pushing us at that moment to bolt past pain or exhaustion.  Yet a grown man, married with children of his own, had never heard the word.

Ever watched people?  Try watching people board a plane sometime.  For some, they must believe the plane will depart without them, as they are pushing and shoving to get to the front of the line and on the plane first.  Years ago, I noticed a guy, muscular, lots of ink, very easy on the eyes.  Women in the airport were drooling over him.  When they called the flight to board, he jumped up pushing over two women—ran to be first at the gate—knocking over an elderly woman on a cane standing next to me.  Had I not caught her, she would have gone down.  He did not stop and help, didn’t say “excuse me”—his focus was to be first on the plane.  He had the manners of a swamp rat.  In that moment, when his inner person came out—his lack of manners—narcissistic behavior—he was not attractive at all.  His inner darkness showed through.  Hardly perfection.

In our quest to be perfect, what do we leave behind?  The past always gives up its secrets—one way or another.  Truth always surfaces and typically when you least expect it.

About a year ago, I found my biological brothers.  Growing up, I always wished for siblings I could be proud of.  Siblings when I walked in the door, I was elated to see.  Never did I ever in my wildest dreams think my wish would come true.  Can I just say, getting a hug from my middle brother can cause me to float for days.  He is truly an amazing individual, whose smile can light up my day.

Our parents never thought our lives would ever connect, lucky for us they did.  The how we found each other is irrelevant.  What is important is that it happened.

In your quest for perfection, maybe think about things other than weight, or beauty.  Remember the movie, “Shallow Hal”?  When Tony Robbins gave Hal the ability to see people for who they really are, instead of aesthetic beauty.  It was a gift.  If you were seen daily as your true inner person—take away the aesthetics—how would you look?  Would you have inner beauty—or would people run screaming from you?

Think about if you’re as deep as a puddle—focusing on things that define what you look like to others.  Or if you’re an ocean with a series of beautiful caves to explore.

Perfection isn’t on the surface.  Grit isn’t something you can learn about in a book.  It’s buried within your core and comes out in your fire.  It’s a part of what drives us.

What if perfection was defined by something more within our control such as our honesty?  The ability to look into your friend’s eyes and see their trust in your word.  The ability to know you are an honorable, trustworthy person.  When you look in your partner’s eyes and know they see your integrity.

The power of honesty, loyalty, trust and honor.

What if perfection was wrapped around these four qualities?

Would you be anywhere near perfect?

Stay healthy!

With the entire world focused on Covid—2020 has turned into a year of meltdowns, protests, offended people and arguments over whether one should or shouldn’t wear a mask and why.  To top it off—it’s an election year.  Armageddon could be near after all!

As if spending the year in isolation wasn’t bad enough—I’m constantly asked why I’m not married—how could I not be married—and if I’m in a relationship.  Why do people not ask, “how are you?” Or “are you having a good day?”

So—as a break from the Covid craziness—let’s take a breather to talk about something else, shall we?

In life never forget

Where you started….

Where you are from….

What your education taught you….

If you have a life similar to mine, you are constantly reminded of all the above statements.  Never forget where you started and where you are from.  Let’s start there.  I was born, and started life in a very urban, forward thinking city—however, was raised in a small town, close knit, old school mentality.  Society has a habit of giving women complexes about things that in the overall scheme of life should be a non stressor.  Societal pressures in a small town can be even worse when it comes to getting married or having children.  When I was younger, everyone asked me how many children I wanted, followed by, “when I was an adult and married.”  An assumption was made I would be married.  My answer was always the same, “I do not want any children.”  To which I would get a horrified look.

What female isn’t dreaming of a house full of children?

This female.

The look of terror on their faces became more pronounced as I reached my teenage years and into my 20’s.

Once my friends began to marry off—things became fun.  Flying all over the world for bachelorette parties, bridal showers and weddings.  It didn’t matter we had to wear horrible dresses, made out of odd fabric, looking like half dressed, different shaped clones as we walked down the aisle.  All of us were looking forward to the party proceeding the church, so, in our minds, it was worth it.

Once all weddings were in the history books—there I stood—single.  Although I was fine with that—no one else was.

Those of you single tracking with me—did you feel the burn as you were the only one unmarried?  Suddenly it became the mission of everyone to “find you a man”.  If a male is single he becomes an immediate setup.  It didn’t matter if he had three arms, four heads or still lived with his parents.  Married people like to see people — married.

Soon my group of friends went from girl’s trips, lunches and dinners—to birthing classes, diaper changes and baby talk.  I found them no longer inviting me to gatherings because “what would we speak about since I didn’t have children?”  The judgement continued.  How does having a child suddenly make someone superior to another?

I never considered myself to be the type of person who would fall short at anything. I had integrity, loyalty, and dogged determination.  As life continues, it seems as though society merely judges women based on beauty, weight, marriage and children.  Not necessarily in that order.

Go ahead and think you’re going to be parent of the year—you do not know judgement until you have a dysfunctional, behaviorally challenged child.  I’ve stayed up many a night with friends melting down from the judgement of their parenting.  I’m not a parent—but have seen first hand the destruction from criticism.

Life proceeded—my career took off and quickly I forgot about the judgement of society.  My time was filled with business trips, meetings and strategy.

Often I’m asked, “How is it someone like you is not married?”  Someone “like me”.  As if unmarried is a death sentence.

So, here are my thoughts on relationships to those women out there feeling like social rejects because they are without children and unmarried.

Relationships take two. They are give and take— and all about commitment.  These are all common descriptive of what people use when describing a good relationship or marriage.

While I agree that all of those things may be important and true, sometimes we simply fall short in keeping up with those standards.  For instance, keeping score is not good.  I had it described to me as “washing your half of the car”.  I’ve always looked at it as washing the car.  I’m going to do as much as I physically am able to do.  Whether that is all of it, half of it or a quarter of it.  Think of how you’d feel if you were in fact washing a car and the person you were laughing and enjoying the task with, suddenly dropped their sponge in the bucket halfway across the hood and said, “I’m done!  That’s yours!”  It’s not that you wouldn’t continue washing the car, because if you are like me, you want to do your part.  It’s just that life isn’t that simple.  In life sometimes we are capable of holding the hose and rinsing—sometimes we can pick up the sponge and wash the entire vehicle — and other times we are doing good if we can sit in the yard and keep whomever is washing the car company.  No matter, we are there and giving it our best effort.

Eventually, I fell into social pressure.  Looking back, it wasn’t something I wanted to do—more something that was imposed on me as a right of passage into being an adult.  One could write a book on the idiocracies of society and the pressures created by them.  I make no excuses and own my bad decisions.  What I’m saying is—had I grown up in the urban, forward thinking part of the world—my decisions would have been innately different.

By my 20’s I found myself healing from a relationship which had been a very abusive one—nearly taking my life— the finale of it took me years to heal from physically and to extract myself from mentally.  After the healing was to a point I was mobile again and I had moved far enough away to feel secure, things felt as if they were finally getting back on track. A great job—freedom—success—healthy—I was an independent woman.  Most importantly, I was safe.

While recovering—My hope about the validity of a healthy, long-lasting relationship had disintegrated —I found myself focusing on career, hobbies, friendships.

The experience caused me to evaluate all relationships and marriages. It made me wonder about the secrets people potentially keep, the lies they might tell, and the capacity of people, in general, to remain loyal to one another on a long-term basis.  Loyalty and integrity have always been first and foremost in my life.  This experience exacerbated those traits to a much higher level.  I held myself to the same expectation.

You realize how much effort it really takes to be in a successful, faithful marriage or long-term relationship. It takes honesty, guts, loyalty, integrity and constant communication.  You must deal with your issues, admit to your faults and confront your fears head on.  You need a great deal of patience, love, maturity and respect after the initial passion is gone.  I don’t mean love as in lust — but love as in I’m going to care for you, support you, put you before my own needs, remain faithful to you even when you’re being unlovable, annoying, or sick and never think of wandering to a more convenient path— kind of love.  It’s easy to play house in our heads when we are young.  When things get real after a decade or more together—problems with children, issues with parents, political differences, religious discrepancies—that’s when the rubber meets the road to success or failure.

I spent years alone after what I perceived the greatest failure of my life.  There was no dating and my sense of self was slaughtered. It’s an experience that will drain you and leave you dry.

Over time, as Morgan Freeman so elegantly states, “get to living or get to dying” — I gave myself some grace and began to accept myself.  My nutrition became healthy —my fitness routine calculated, challenging and strong.  My happiness became a personal accomplishment. I put my past in the rear view mirror even though the darkness of it, at times, still disturbed me, my goal became to turn it into a life lesson.  To help others push through their own dark period — my self improvement—ongoing.

The reality is—There may be no way to tell if your partner is lying to you or cheating on you. There may be no way to know for sure that you will never commit an act that hurts your partner or anyone else — even when you believe you never would.  But if you believe in trust and integrity—listen to your instincts within you—apologize when you make mistakes—and believe people inherently have good intentions—it is possible to move past the pain of the darkness.

Relationships are a complicated dance of empathy, understanding, communication, effort, trust, loyalty, compassion, vulnerability and integrity.  Ultimatums drive people away.  Jealousy only shows immaturity and failure.  Lying will leave you empty and alone.  Know yourself before you expect someone else to know you. Love yourself. Be prepared to forgive things that you would want your partner to forgive you for. Know what you can’t forgive and don’t expect it in return.  You can’t hold others to a higher standard than you hold yourself.

In the end, although I remain single, and although I’ve seen very, very few successful marriages based on honesty and trust— although I’ve seen more toxic relationships than healthy—I still believe marriage be it legal or a committed relationship— can be a beautiful partnership and journey.

Sometimes we forget how long a lifetime can actually be when we enter into a partnership like marriage.  We focus on the wedding and not the work.  We focus on ourself —our own needs—instead of the partnership.

Perhaps we also fail because many of us haven’t learned the value of a relationship that has a reward beyond measurement for our effort, care, patience, and respect. Sometimes we become so jaded and resentful —we don’t fully connect in a healthy way.  We drive away those that are good for us— and migrate toward those unhealthy for us as it is easier to explain fault than to do the work involved for success.  We do this in friendships as well.

The silver lining is that there is always a chance to come back, to learn, and to use mistakes as stepping stones to greater things. I’ve had to walk away from people I originally thought possessed the loyalty and integrity desired—but in reality were dark and toxic.

Sometimes the darkest lessons lead us to the brightest peaks of our potential. Know that it is possible to find yourself in there— beyond dark—and come back brighter than ever.

You are never in the wrong place.

Sometimes you are in the right place looking at things the wrong way.

Blink to clear your eyes—see things in a different positive way—do the work—the reward is limitless.

Stay Healthy!

The world is an interesting place these days.   Last year, Aston Martin was showcasing its first ever electric car, a new treatment for peanut allergies was unveiled, a ban was placed on facial recognition software and Jeff Koons’s 1986 “Rabbit” sculpture sold for $91.1 million at auction, which are just a few of many newsworthy stories.

Fast forward to 2020, and as we say in the sticks, “the animals have let loose from the barn!”  This year hit with a vengeance.  The #metoo movement kept it’s momentum, which should have caused every man in America to question every word and motion made with a woman in the vicinity— to the Covid pathogen unleashing it’s war on immune systems across the globe crippling healthcare capacities —and just when we thought we had our limit—four police officers in Minneapolis unleash a firestorm.  People went from dragging themselves out of their houses to go to work—to wishing they could leave their house without fear of judgement or an attack on their immune system—and that was the first half of 2020!  Brace for the second half!

I would best describe 2020 as the ‘Side of Beef Swinging in a Shark Tank’ tour.  Each new month we brace for what could be next.  If we manage to see pigs fly, our pets start speaking English to us and aliens land in New York to bring dessert—it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

Stand back to watch how society interact these days— there is no middle ground.  People either are courteous, kind and thoughtful—or—they are narcissistic, rude and abrasive.

Everything has two sides.  If you wear a mask, you could be labeled as a conformist or a caring person who wants to protect others.  Whomever would have thought a piece of cloth worn over the nose and mouth would cause such controversy.  I’m excluding those that have yet to figure out the proper way to wear a mask, wearing it on their chin with their entire face exposed.  The medical community are screaming for help from the general public, the CDC gives daily new rising case numbers and the largest news story today is to stop buying Goya brand anything because the CEO gave the president a compliment.  It is an interesting world we live in.

Bring it down to daily life.  Where did kindness go?

The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, the decisions you make, what you think, what you do, who you become—all on you. A liar does not have “class”— a cheater does not have “integrity” —loneliness is the outcome of the lack of both —loneliness does not necessarily mean you are physically alone — it can mean you are surrounded by people who in the end do not care about anything except their own personal gain.  Is it love if in the inner core, you only worry about your own happiness?

Which brings up the question—Do we ever really know people? The answer to this depends on if people are willing to show who they truly are. My grandmother used to say, “it’s easy for someone to be great in good times, however the true character comes out in difficult times.”

Is it considered lying if someone doesn’t share information they think would hurt you?  Eventually the truth will surface causing exponentially more pain.  Why not share the complete truth from the beginning?  Because truth be known, those people have an agenda for themselves.  They aren’t worried about hurting you, they are concerned with their own self preservation.

When the truth does surface, the pain inflicted is beyond measure.

Recently, I had a person show their inner core.  In seconds, what I had thought was a good hearted person, became adolescent—vicious—violent—pitiful.  Why the turn?  This person was confronted with a lie they had been keeping.   Venom will spew from those that realize their true darkness has been uncovered.

Imagine a grown human, prancing around on the balls of their feet, swinging their weight while walking back and forth in a 4 foot spread.  Their arm swinging in the air—hand holding their cell phone—eyes bugging out of their skull—mouth foaming—all while barking, “I’m an adult! I am an adult!”  The sad display causing one to question whether an exorcism or a cage is needed.  Maybe both.

Of course, in their mind, none of this would be their fault.  Deflection is a true art to those who can not hold themselves accountable.

Where does this leave those standing around trying to wrap their head around the pitiful production in front of them?  Sometimes the difficult decision is to walk away from someone who clearly would rather grasp onto denial than accept help.

All we can do is make the best decisions we can based on the facts we have at the time.  It is not our job to fix the mess of another whose only mission is to control and destroy.  Toxic people destroy everything around them.

Always remember:

Direction, not intention, determines destination.

Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Adjust.  Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. The only people criticizing you are those too afraid to enter themselves. This is your moment. Own it.

In this odd world we are experiencing—do not lose sight of yourself.  Do not allow anyone to manipulate or control you.

Stay focused.  Clean out the enormous mass of mental and emotional rubbish that clutters your mind.  Live with dogged determination.  Selecting what takes up space in your mind the same way you select your clothes every day.  Own your power.  Know your truth.  It’s not what you are exposed to that matters.  It’s how you react to that exposure.  Eliminate exposure to toxic people.

Victim mentality holds zero production.  Those who hold it become stunted—boxed in.

Intelligent decision making requires you to evaluate the situation as it exists today.  The windshield is larger than the rearview mirror for a reason.

Own your truth—discover your true potential. The only box you can be forced in to—is the one you allow yourself to be.

If only as a society we focused on the simple things, it would be a much happier place.  To quote one of my favorite poems by Robert Fulgham’s:

Play fair.

Don’t hit people.

Put things back where you found them.

Clean up your own mess.

Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.

Wash your hands before you eat.

Remember to look both ways before crossing the street.

Hold hands and don’t lose anyone.
Stay healthy!