I Love You, For So Many Reasons…


I love you because you are always there for me. I love you because you know exactly when I need to cry, feel anger, release anger, emit gratitude, and laugh until my face hurts. I love you because you always have the answers, even when I argue with your hearfelt logic. I love you because you love me with makeup and without, with walls up and armor on, or in complete vulnernability.

I love the compassion in your heart and the genuineness of your smile. Your charming wit, unyielding loyalty and curious nature encourages me to always strive to be my best self. The depth of your soul pushes me to explore things in myself that once frightened me. Your ability to rise strong when you have fallen in the muddy swamp shows me that adversity leads to growth and gratitude.

You have given me vision when I couldn’t see and an almost deafening silence when I needed solitude. You’ve given me joy when I’ve been in pain, connection when I felt alone and peace when I was overwhelmed. You’ve always shown me love.

I love because you I can be myself around you, I don’t need to compartmentalize and keep out any part of myself. I love you because you see me, you hear me, you understand me, you listen to me. I love you because you don’t judge me when I screw up and you cheer me on when I do what’s right. I love you because you speak softly, gently and always with deep truth.

I love you because you are me. The part of my soul that always knows right where I’m supposed to be. The calm peaceful part that always hold light, love and truth. I love you, myself. Thank you for walking with me always.

Love and Compassion WINS. Fear and Hate LOSES.

 

Hate is a quick and easy, cheap shot. We see it in the news with incidents like Sandy Hook or the nightclub in Orlando. Do you think those shooters were happy? Do you think they felt whole and lived a balanced life? These events are symptoms of a deeper disease in our culture. How do we stop these kinds of atrocities from strangling the love and life out of our communities? Is it with gun control? Is it immigration?

No.

We see hate on a personal level when we lose a friend and never speak to them again. Maybe it’s our choice, maybe it’s theirs. We see hate when a partner cheats on us with no remorse. We see hate with murder, rape and lack of forgiveness. It comes in many forms. And it’s not just in America, it’s alive and well in plenty westernized countries.

MLK quote

If you go to the doctor with a painfully swollen lymph node…

Would it be better for the doctor to give you pain meds and tell you to not eat anything that may increase inflammation OR would it better if they run a bunch of tests to diagnose before they treat? After all, it may be cancer. One treats the symptom and one looks for a cure to the underlying problem.

Hate is our societies’ swollen lymph node while¬†mental illness, disconnection, discontent, sorrow and resentment are our cancer. Fear¬†is our cancer.¬†Fear of what we don’t understand, fear of difference. As a society we are more disconnected, more intolerant, more competitive, more judgemental, more resentful, more angry, more divided and more medicated. Why? Maybe because there are more people, because greed has become accepted as “success” and everything is more expensive while wages haven’t changed. Maybe it’s healthcare. Maybe it’s gun control. There are a million reasons that we have become as we are. The truth is we have forgotten what LOVE is. Not romantic love but true love. The truest love is acceptance and forgiveness. It’s saying “hi” to your neighbor with a genuine smile on your face when they always seem annoyed. It’s understanding that the waiter who gave you bad service may be going through¬†a really shitty day divorce. It may be offering to help someone when you have nothing to give but a hug and a listening ear.

Acceptance

When we accept someone for who they are, we fully see them. When we accept someone, rather than judge them, we are no longer victims of our own emotions. We are simply allowing ourselves to see what we see. It’s up to each of us to decide what we want and don’t want in our lives. Just because we accept who they are doesn’t mean we need to practice the same lifestyle. It simply means we aren’t judging theirs. When we practice acceptance, without judgement, we begin to accept more of ourselves. As we practice acceptance we become more tolerant of things we may disagree with, more authentic and honest about who we are and less hateful. It’s the foundation for forgiveness.

Forgiveness

You can only forgive when you have accepted something as it is. Forgiveness is acceptance and ownership of a judgement you’ve made. It’s acceptance of your own feelings about a specific event and choosing to let it go. It has nothing to do with telling someone else what they did was right or good. You can forgive without thinking something was right. It has to do with acknowledging your pain or hatred and setting it free. When you’re free from anger, resentment and hate you can be more open to LOVE.

Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. ~Buddha

Whole-hearted

If you look at whole-hearted families, communities, organizations and countries you will find genuine happiness and tolerance with different lifestyles and religions. They foster an environment of acceptance, authenticity, ownership, respect, connection with others and embrace love over hate. The cure for hate is love.

Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther Kind Jr, Mother Theresa are classic examples of change makers that chose love over hate. That faced criticism, violence, pain and suffering with an attitude of acceptance and forgiveness. These are some of the most notable examples of strength and bravery. Why? Because no matter what happened, they chose love over hate. Conquered fear is the birthplace of courage.

Today you can find this type of courage in researchers, authors, musicians and politicians. But hate is more popular, more prevalent, more accepted and easier. These people openly speak about fear and shame versus love and connection.¬†Brene Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, India Arie, Marianne Williamson, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Shonda Rhimes and Amanda Palmer. Are a few that speak up for love, they make connection, truth and authenticity a priority. They don’t say what people want to hear, that say what they feel is right, with love, gratitude, acceptance and forgiveness.

Change Makers

Our culture and society doesn’t shift because politicians change laws. Shift happens when we accept that the 15yr old girl feels more like a boy than a girl, so we call her Sam rather than Samantha and allow him to use whichever damn bathroom he wants. It happens when we say hello and smile to the woman wearing a hijab without assuming she’s a terrorist. Or we tell someone we love, that while we aren’t ok with something they did, we don’t think they are a bad person. Change happens when parents ask their teenage daughters about a breakup and listen, even though they worked all day and may think it pales in comparison to their day. It happens when a father tells his son that he’s sorry he yelled at him but he was worried he might get hurt. It happens when a mother explains to her child why being a bully creates shame rather than punishing her without teaching her what is right.

It starts in our small circles.¬†It’s saying “thank you¬†for being clear” to someone who respectfully asked you to do or NOT to do something. It’s asking “what do you mean by that?” when someone is being¬†passive aggressive. It’s sending your mother flowers on mothers day even though you’re pissed¬†at her. You can love people AND dislike their behavior. You can love people AND have boundaries. You can wholeheartedly and courageously LOVE with hopeless abandon rather than ignorantly and fearfully embrace hatred. Hatred is our disease. Courageous love is our cure.

We must BE the change we wish to see in the world. ~Ghandi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Real Women Don’t Have Curves…

Or maybe they do, but it certainly, one hundred percent, undeniably, does not define a real woman.

Real women have Badassery.

I recently read Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes, which is mainly – in a very oversimplified kind of way – about being open to change and finding where you are happiest.¬†As a highly successful entrepreneur and writer, she reminds the reader¬†of something exceedingly important that many of us women in western culture forget…it’s incredibly powerful to be vulnerable. Similar to Shonda, I live in Califonia, where the weather is beautiful and so are the people. Everyone seems to regularly attend yoga, do crossfit and be training for marathons or tough mudders. I wear a size 16, and while I can do many of those activities and consider myself pretty, the fact is, I’m not as noticed as the active size 2 woman. I’m just not. We have an obsession in California with beauty and the rise of stars like Melissa Mcarthy and Adele seem to bring back statements like “big and beautiful” or “real women have curves”. The truth is, thick or thin, our shapes or looks shouldn’t be defining who we are. Our character should define who we are.

The Badass Lady

(You will find links to badass ladies in this paragraph)

She¬†may have curves or she¬†may be curveless. She¬†may be the overweight woman in yoga class or the perfectly fit¬†woman in line at the grocery store. She may be neither. She may be this mother, or this one. She may run a company. She may be a doctor. She may be a lesbian. She may be happily single and childless. She may be married. She may be divorced. She may be full of hearty advice.¬†She may be Furiously Happy, yet, depressed. She may be you. A¬†real woman is not defined by what she looks like, ever. She is defined by her level of integrity. Above all else, she is authentic and vulnerable, as often as possible, because she’s still human.

authenticity                                         integrity

A real woman will tell you when you’re wrong, but with compassion. She will admit when she has made a mistake.¬†A real woman will have boundaries, she knows herself well enough to be clear on what she’s okay with and what she’s not. A real woman will stand up for what’s important to her with confidence, grace and tact. She will not shrink or puff up, but stand tall and strong in the face of adversity. A real woman loves with her whole heart. She gives only what she is comfortable giving and not an ounce more, yet she is more generous than most and never¬†resentful. Well, maybe sometimes… sometimes, she’s resentful. But she knows¬†she is in charge of feeling that way, or not. She takes ownership of her feelings and her behavior. A real woman isn’t perfect, she’s human.

A real woman is vulnerable

A real woman is clear about who she is. Her healthy boundaries help her to decide if you belong in her life, or not. Her loyalty runs deep, but she is not a doormat. She won’t give you guilt trips. Well, maybe sometimes… sometimes, she¬†gives guilt trips. After all, she’s human and perfectly imperfect. She asks for what she wants, understanding that you are just as capable of saying no as she has learned to be. A real woman won’t keep you in her life because she’s afraid of being alone. She will nurture a¬†friendship or relationship because she cares, deeply, and¬†values the connection she has with you.

I once saw a girlfriend build a trailer to attach to her Honda Civic so she could move her bed and dresser 300 miles away. All because her mother asked her if she was going to ask her ex boyfriend. Badassery.

Another girlfriend doesn’t own a car but wanted to see one of her closest friends graduate 600 miles away. She took a bus, spent the night and then took the bus back the next day. Badassery.

I recently had a friend ask for help during an emotional breakdown. I’ve known her 9 years and she has never been that vulnerable. I was with her in two hours and have checked in almost every day this week. That’s the friend I am and that’s MY¬†badassery.

I have had an incredible amount of badassery in my life. Women that have stood by my side, told me when I was wrong, applauded my accomplishments and listened to my hardships. They have been there when others have judged me, they have called me to the mat when everyone else was intimidated. They have come in every package. Old, young, black, white, heavy, thin, gorgeous, average, straight and lesbian. Some were curvy, some weren’t. Some were¬†gear heads and some were¬†girly girls. It didn’t matter.

They are badasses and that supersedes any superficial quality that our society values and objectifies.

When were you a badass recently?

(Men have badassery too, that is a different post ūüôā )

Embracing Self-Love and Boundaries

I love all of me: My huge feet, my eclectic style, my writing, my playlists, my sometimes shitty artwork, the books I read, the books I keep saying I’ll read, my chapstick, my sometimes-too-often-ice cream, my current healthy eating, my coffee, my tea, my flu symptoms that encouraged me to write, my scarf I never wear accept when I’m playing dress up in front of the mirror, my lovely new daydream mug (score!) that I found for a $1 at Goodwill, and all my change that-is-oh-so-precious-because-I’m-oh-so-damn-broke. I almost through one of my cats in but he wouldn’t stay still and I don’t exactly love either of them right now…tolerate, that’s a much better word for them.

Self-love  vs  Self-absorbed 

Self-love is not the same as¬†self-absorbed. Self-love changes the inner dialogue from “I’m such an idiot” to “ok, it would probably be wise¬†not to do that again, but live and learn”. It’s about changing¬†negative self talk to¬†counseling yourself with the utmost care and respect. No one can ever be your best friend more than you are, no one will ever know your whole story better than you do¬†and no one will ever pick you up like you can. So, loving yourself is not about me, me, me or¬†degrading yourself to accomplish goals, it’s about treating yourself with compassion, and learning to love who you are so that you can give that love away to others. You cannot love anyone else wholeheartedly until you have mastered loving yourself, especially when you screw up.

How you motivate and counsel yourself will be how you motivate and counsel those you love.

Boundaries with yourself

Sometimes we need to light a fire under ourselves, like those of us are procrastinators. Ahem. Personally I need to Drill Sergeant myself sometimes. That is not a license¬†to bully ourselves. It’s never good to tell ourselves we are bad people, unless you are, but even then the true bad ones-like sociopaths- don’t exactly have negative self talk, they’re pretty grandiose…So, where was I? Oh, boundaries… Set a boundary with yourself to begin recognizing negative self talk rather than allowing it to run amok. Most of our¬†emotions, including an amygdala hijack, can be traced back to thoughts and beliefs we are telling ourselves so it’s healthy to become self aware.

Boundaries with co-workers or roomates

Everyone desperately needs boundaries and we do ourselves a disservice when we aren’t clear with other people about what’s okay and what isn’t. Let’s say you usually let a co-worker borrow just about anything on your desk but now they have stopped asking and go into your drawers whenever they need something. If it bothers you then this would be a moment to set a boundary. You could say “I’m¬†usually fine with you using things but I would like you to ask and not go through my drawers” politely the first time you notice it happening. If you wait and say it weeks or months later you may end up saying it in a passive aggressive way because you feel walked on. This will take some time getting used to but the more you do it the more clear your boundaries will become. It will help you to not harbor any resentment and your co-workers will respect your honesty. But it will take time if you aren’t already doing this. Be prepared for them to begin setting their own boundaries as well.

The same goes for roommates, but because it’s also where you relax¬†you may need to pick your battles more carefully. Maybe they took your clothes out of the washer to do a load of laundry and it really aggravated you. If you left it in there for a couple days, well then, that’s your bad. If, on the other hand, they did it the moment it finished it may be worth a conversation like this “I completely understand that sometimes we need to get laundry done right away,¬†would it be helpful to have designated laundry times for each of us?”.

If you don’t typically set boundaries, expect pushback.

Some people will simply never take responsibility for their behavior. That’s ok. They don’t have to. Some people will challenge you just for the sake of challenging you. Sometimes they will think your boundary is “rude”. You always get to decide what behaviors and responses are ok with you. When you set boundaries for how you want to be treated you will be happier and have very little resentment.

It’s totally NOT easy

Boundaries are difficult to set, especially when people are not used to you setting them or when YOU aren’t used to setting them. Just remember, boundaries are very healthy.

Boundaries with family and partners

We build many, many, many you have unspoken contracts with the people we care about. The most common is between partners¬†that you will be connected to someone no matter their behavior. When you voice what’s ok and what’s not ok, with LOVE and grounded confidence,¬†you will begin to decipher who really belongs in our life. You will lose friends, you will become estranged from some family members.The ones that stay will help you grow. When you set appropriate boundaries with family and significant others your message will become clear “this is how I want to be treated, this is how I will treat you back. If that’s not okay with you then I wont make space for you in my life”. You will begin to hold one another to higher standards, love bigger and forgive more often. This is the area that will flourish the most when you marry self-love with firm boundaries. Your circle will likely change, maybe a little, maybe alot. When you set boundaries through the lens of love and compassion you realize it’s ok if some people go, because you may just need to let them go in order to grow.

My Response Matters: Love, Patience and Happiness Without Shaving My Head And Becoming a Buddhist


I might be going about this wrong…


The Moment

We all know those moments when it feels like our patience is being tested. Those moments when it seems like nothing good we’ve ever done has mattered and we are only being tested on that particular scenario. Time stands still and a crossroads unfolds before us. If we are evolved enough we will have multiple response options available in our minds within a hair of a second. We could choose the higher road of grace and peace. While other responses may be snarky, sarcastic, combative or defensive. Further still, we could walk away or not engage.

I’m not talking about the moments that you choose the road of grace, or you let it go and walk away. I’m talking about the moments when you really, really, REALLY feel like you want to snap back at someone. 

Don’t shrink or puff up, just stand your Sacred Ground – Brene Brown

My Response Matters

I’ve written a post about letting someone go, which was inspired by a post about fear and standing your sacred ground but that’s different. Those two are more about not shrinking and not running away. The flight of fight or flight. They were about standing up for your values, especially if someone is verbally attacking. 

This post is more about the fight part of fight or flight. That urge we have to hurl a bag of nickels at someone for a rude comment or passive aggressive statement. The more often you see them or the closer you are to them, the more likely a snarky, off-handed comment can immediately throw you in the ring. Sometimes walking away or taking a deep breathe can stop a knee jerk response, other times it can simple give you more time to calculate an equally disrespectful comment.

As an adult, in order to not launch into full attack mode, I trained myself to be less reactionary. That also meant I could harbor resentment or not set clear boundaries. So, I’ve become pretty versed in not shrinking and in standing my sacred ground. I’m not so good at resisting a well-flung-shit comment when someone else started it. Or atleast that’s my justification-they started it. I’m really good at squaring off and standing my ground. I’m really good at snarling back at someone or even holding a grudge (if it’s a setting where I can’t snap back) IF I felt they were wrong. That default served me well in my younger years, when I was surrounded by a different group of people. People that I had to puff up around, appearing bigger and badder than the predators. It was effective. But those were very very different people.

Now I’m around intellectuals, academics and emotionally intelligent individuals…that sometimes have a bad day, or a shitty moment. It’s very rare that I have a situation or interaction that pushes this button I forgot I had. In passing they can give me their shitty moment, which I’m usually pretty self aware enough to know has little to do with me. But sometimes they say just the right thing to hit the mother load. My old beliefs kick in-puff up to be safe, take no crap, don’t be walked on. But these people aren’t testing me, they aren’t doing it to get a response. It’s simply a shitty comment to reflect something going on inside their own head. This one I took personal but thought…

My Response Matters

This person doesn’t always have bad days

This isn’t about me

My Response will reflect who Iam becoming

My Response Matters

I repeated it to myself until I was no longer internally seething. I didn’t say anything I needed to apologize for and I didn’t bury it deep down as a resentful grudge. I examined it, listened to it and realized…Just because I strive to be my best authentic self with love, patience, and happiness it doesn’t mean I’m always happy and I damn sure don’t plan on shaving my fucking head to be a Buddhist. But I will talk about it. I will understand how I feel, explain it if I need to and know that Iam responsible for my beliefs, emotions and behavior. Sweet relief. No arguing ensued and I was still able to cross a big personal milestone. ūüíúūüėĆ


Totally not my picture. I have no idea who did it but this was how it felt to let go of the need to respond and engage. After looking at my strong response to the off handed comment I realized it had way more to do with leaving toxicity behind. Ready to move forward.  ūüíúūüíĖ

A Place Of Truth, A Place Of Happy


A fellow blogger recently posted about playing the “what if” game which fueled my own philosophical thoughts . These aren’t relationship “what ifs” but rather a vision…

What if there was a place, a community, where authenticity, vulnerability, boundaries and compassion were the most important values. A retreat you could visit or take a course, or volunteer, where you felt alive and supported no matter how you showed up as long as you were authentic? A place where you could work (if you wanted to), make a healthy living with, and raise your family while still having time for them? A place where you could really show up and be seen. A placed that valued you, whether you were an employee, a volunteer or a workshop participant.

No coolaid is served. It’s not an Amish community. Just a place of growth, mutual respect, boundaries, fun and laughter. Where you can be you because even if there is judgement there’s a bigger blanket of honest acceptance for our differences. What if that place existed? What if it wasn’t just for the rich but there were scholarships for those that were curious but otherwise couldn’t enjoy such a luxury? What if it attracted all types of people and not just yogis or vegetarians but CEO’s, students and families looking to challenge old stories. A place of integrity where the common thread is bravery.¬†

A place where you can ask tough questions, find elusive answers, have fun, or just be alone…all at the same place. Like a retreat/summer camp for adults on a sprawling property where you could spend time¬†looking within or spend it communicating. Not a place to party, a safe place to find your inner light;what your good at, what feeds your soul.

Would you go?

Razors edge

Sometimes when you set a goal with enough passion to light the world on fire you have moments when you wonder if you yourself can withstand the heat. Here’s my New Years resolution, which I proudly stole from Brene Brown:

I want more courage, more happiness, and more connection in 2016 and I‚Äôm willing to invest the time and effort to make that happen. I‚Äôm ready to DO THE WORK ‚Äď to LEARN SOMETHING NEW ‚Äď to CHALLENGE OLD STORIES. And, I‚Äôm going to do it with a group of people who are also choosing to be brave with their lives. 

Armed with this strong intention, my purpose is to build authentic connections with the people I care about. It’s difficult to be the bigger person. To rise above things. To let people walk away because they aren’t okay with your boundaries or what’s important to you. It’s difficult to build strong connections because it means being vulnerable, having boundaries, not being a doormat, being authentic and holding people accountable. It means holding yourself accountable for your behavior and owning your mistakes. It means knowing what beliefs enable you to be a better person and which ones limit your growth. Even more difficult is redefining what friendship and family truly mean to you. 

It’s challenging to stand by what you believe in, to keep moving forward when you’re climbing a mountain and the altitude is causing the air to become thinner. It gets harder to breathe and you wish for the ground to level out for a while. People will walk away, people that you love. Others will stay firmly by your side and choose to grow with you. Many times I have felt alone in my quest to be authentic because friends and family have found vulnerablity and accountability far too uncomfortable.

In typical life, we may take a wrong path, lose our sense of direction and feel beaten down by dissapointment or unmet expectations. But when we rise up, stand tall, beat back the evil inner gremlins and still show compassion, respect and vulnerability THAT is when we draw true connection into our lives. I love with my whole heart, it means things feel alive, all the time, for me. This year my focus is to accept what happens as part of my experience towards choosing courage more often, and hopefully, encourage others to do the same. I do that by releasing blame, accepting myself as I am, sharing my story and reaching out to like-minded people. I’m looking at the hard moments as stops on my journey, always finding my way back to the main trail towards authentic human connection.

My life has been difficult the last 4 years. I married my best friend of 7.5yrs, then divorced him a little over a year and a half later. I lost our baby. I fell in love with a man and his 4 children. I moved in. Then, moved out a year and a half later. A coupl close family members battle addiction and mental illness while making a series of poor choices that have left them homeless. After enough time, I sadly realized my help was only enabling them. My grandfather, who was my mentor and friend, lost his battle with cancer. I’m about to move for the 4th time and I’ve gone through countless jobs trying to find my voice, my place. I have since, found my place, for now. I’ve made new friends, lost old ones and even volunteered at a personal growth institute to understand the pain. My mentors have been my cheerleaders. All in the last 4 years. It’s been tough. I’ve cried a lot. I’ve loved with more passion than I ever thought I was capable of.  I chose to stand up, with my head held high and walk the razors edge. It can be sharp and cutting, but it’s rewarding and so incredibly worth all the pain I have endured to build meaningful connection. I’m a warrior on a mission. With blazing passion, fierce determination and unyielding  authenticity I will challenge old beliefs, face my inner gremlins and be the change I want to bask in for the rest of my life. I choose the razors edge, in all its glory.