Archives for the month of: April, 2021

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!