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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!

Until you experience certain things in life and have lived through different experiences, most  really don’t have a true perspective or awareness.  I’ve recently become very cognizant of the meaning behind this statement.

Ever had someone, be it family or friend, whom you thought you knew, only to either witness or find out about behavior you never dreamed them capable of?  It is a sobering experience.

There is nothing more pitiful than a person who can’t take responsibility for their actions.  Instead, they blame others for their indiscretions and incompetencies.  Even more interesting, when they are hypocritical by judging those that resemble their own behavior.

To say it is a kick in the gut, is an understatement.  What should you feel?  Pity is the only word I can use.  Pity for the person who can’t take responsibility for themself.  Pity they are so clueless to their poor behavior they have to blame others for their faults.  Pity they have no clue how much self respect and dignity they lost.  Pity they hurt people who were loyal to them, yet all they can think about is themself.  Pity they haven’t a clue how harsh words can destroy.  Pity as their behavior will never be forgotten, no matter how much they deflect.

When you have to face ignorance in it’s most evil form—I challenge you to not let their words penetrate into you.  Instead, remember this mantra.  Pity—Not Pain.  Pity them, do not let yourself take a direct hit.  As their goal is to inflict as much damage as possible. If you keep your brain in check, and your emotions at bay, take a deep breath and pity them.

It’s times like this I reflect on what really matters in life.  My grandmother always said, “It’s easy to be a great person during great times.  However, it’s times of adversity that define your character.”

This week the country has seen some sobering experiences as well.  With everyone so divided, how will this country move in a positive direction?

Memorial Day was a couple of weeks ago.  A time for reflection and remembrance for those that have fallen while serving, who gave all, so that we can live free.  “Live Free”—what does that mean?

Four days ago was the anniversary of a dark day in my life.  A day that nearly put me 6 feet under.   A day that defined for me the statement, “What doesn’t kill you does make you stronger.”  What was once a dark day is now a reminder how short life is.

Physical pain is so much easier to heal than that which is inflicted mentally.  Words are so much more detrimental.  With maturity, we learn to think before we speak.  As I heard it described, “once the toothpaste is out of the tube— it can’t be put back in.”

To those of you who have had to take on the harsh words of a toxic individual.  My hope is that you felt pity—not pain.  Their actions reflect on them.  A self absorbed person only can see the faults of others. They are blind to their own.

Always find the positive. Squeeze every ounce of joy out of every second of every day.  In an instant, life can change.  Granted time is a privilege not to be wasted!

Find laughter.  There are smiles in every day.  A laugh is a smile that bursts!

Inhale strength—exhale negativity—may all of your inhales give you strength and may you have many smiles that burst!

Stay Healthy!


The “new normal”.  Every news outlet is talking about it.  For those who avoid change, their struggle is just beginning.  People have been locked down for weeks on end.  Some have embraced being hunkered down.  Others, defied it.  My mother has a saying, “only boring people get bored”.  Never did I think the entire world would be put to the test of this.  Those that followed the guidelines and sheltered at home, were challenged with keeping themselves active.  For some, another saying came into play, “it was like watching grass grow”.

I’ve thought about that while hunkered down these last two months and can say watching grass grow is actually becoming quite exciting.  Clearly those folks were never home enough to actually watch grass grow because then they would understand, like me, just how interesting it is to watch the lawn crew come each week.  Who knew grass grew so much in a week!  As always, context and perspective help us evolve.

Context and perspective.

Two interesting concepts.  I’m remembering the story of two children thrown into a room with a pile of manure.  One child begins crying uncontrollably while throwing themself on the ground, the other excited, thrilled, laughing, digging frantically to find the pony responsible for the pile of manure.

Perspective.

Your perception becomes your reality.

Today, everyone is hyper sensitive to everything.  Whomever would have thought to wear a mask—or not wear a mask would define your political views, how courteous you are, if you care about others, if your parents raised you right, or if you have fashion sense.  Amazing how a little, simple face mask can be so telling.

Simple tasks such as going to the market have become beacons for how a person follows directions.  One way aisles, social distancing markers on where to stand and plexiglass barriers have become a part of our lives.  Some folks apparently never learned to pay attention, as they are wondering around going the wrong way, ignoring directions, as people glare at them.  I would hate to see these people driving in large cities with one way streets.  My question is, when will the passing lanes be implemented?

This morning, Joni Mitchell’s song “Big Yellow Taxi,” came to mind.  If you don’t know the chorus:

Don’t it always seem to go

That you don’t know

What you’ve got 

Til it’s gone

Some days, it feels like a lot of what we had is now gone. Simple things like shopping, working out at the gym, walking on the beach, going to a movie, or just leaving the house have potential to expose us to a life threatening virus.

Do we appreciate our lives enough?

There are people clinging to life from cataclysmic illness begging for one more day.  While others abuse their bodies with the careless excuse “you have to die of something”.

Why do we go through time ignoring the amazing wonderment of life, to only appreciate it when the threat of losing life happens?

If only we could go back to 6 months ago.  Germs weren’t on the radar.  We were safe in a country that was flourishing.  Our biggest news stories—who in Hollywood was cheating on whom, the newest diet fad guaranteed to lose weight fast, and the incessant fighting in D.C.

How quickly our world changed.  Our bubble of safety broken.

The other day, I witnessed two people fighting.  Over what you ask?  A canister of baking yeast.  Whomever would have thought the American populous filled with fast food, prepared food, impatient mindsets would be fighting over baking yeast.  Yet, here we are.

First it was paper products.  Your wealth was defined by your stockpile of toilet paper.

Second society went for stockpiling rubbing alcohol and aloe vera gel.  The ingredients to make hand sanitizer.

Third was the shift to meat.  As there might be a shortage there.  Markets had to limit quantities.

Now we apparently are on a baking frenzy.  Forget about the bakeries surrounding us, we must fight over yeast to make things ourselves!  Prior to now, I was a lone wolf in baking bread.  Now, apparently, I have many fellow bread bakers.  Do they realize it takes hours to make bread, or are they merely fighting over yeast because it’s been reported in short supply?

Do we as a society just like to fight and stockpile?

We can look back on January and wonder at the trivial things we let consume us.

Why did we spend so much time clutching after things that don’t matter?

Were we fools, taking life for granted?

There are always people in much better fortune than us—and conversely in much worse.  Why do we not see the goodness in our own lives instead of comparison shopping our lives to others?

That grass we are watching grow over the fence might look greener, be careful it isn’t spray painted.  Maybe we should just water our own yard.

Why are we so afraid of change?  Afraid to a point we would rather sit in misery than manage the change.

Inevitably, when that change is forced on us, we get angry, feel pity, blame everyone but ourselves.

We can embrace the change, look at the positive and evolve.  Manage our own change.  Control it.  Or we can push back on the change, stress, get angry and let the change force itself on us.

Perception is our reality.  Be it positive or negative.

We live in a time that every person in history before us would have traded places in an instant. For many of them, it would’ve seemed an incredible utopia.

Be grateful for what you have, manage positive change and let your reality flourish!  Remember, there must be a pony in the pile of manure somewhere!

Stay healthy!