I understand. No, you really don’t…

I understand. No, you really don’t…

I understand

Actually, you don’t. I understand are two words that I fucking hate to hear someone say to me. Don’t get me wrong, I truly believe those words are said with love and compassion. But let’s get something straight…You Don’t Understand. And to be honest, I don’t understand what you are going through either.

I understand is something we say when we don’t know what else to say. It is something to fill in the uncomfortable silence when we get too close to someone else’s tragic circumstances. Too often, we say “I understand” when we have similar experiences and want to let other’s know they aren’t alone.

Experiences

Your experiences shape your understanding. Considering this, there are no two people in the world who will experience the same event in the exact same way. This is one reason that law enforcement doesn’t give too much credibility to witness statements. If ten people are interviewed about an incident, all ten statements will differ in some aspect. People focus on events based on who they are. Smells, sights, sounds, and even tastes may change based upon who is experiencing them.

And if an experience induces a feeling of trauma, all bets are off. Emotions will dull your senses as your fight or flight kicks in and you will be in survival mode. Many times when a loved one passes away, those left behind are blinded by their own pain. They forget there are others hurting and often personalize the behavior of their family and friends. Everything becomes about them and words and actions are often miscommunicated. Thus the reason that many families drift away after the loss of a beloved matriarch or patriarch…it appears that everyone feels slighted by others. Unfortunately, this is not the intent, it is the by-product of grief.

How to help a friend who is grieving

When I lost my brother, it was devastating. He was my rock and the one who was supposed to outlive us all. I had no idea how many people I knew had lost a sibling and when they began reaching out, I realized I wasn’t alone. Were our experiences the same? No. However, we all became part of a club that none of us wanted to belong to and we realized we were not alone. We could bond over the loss and share our experiences, both positive and negative.

For me, some of the kindest things others have done is to just be there. I have one friend who knows that I hide away when I am struggling and she leaves messages for me, knowing I will call back when I am ready. I have other friends who often ask how I am doing and they call me out on my bullshit when I tell them I am ok.

I often joke that as a social worker, I suck at my own emotions. Truthfully, I am more comfortable with helping others, which are totally forms of denial and avoidance. So just let me know you are here. Let me ramble. Listen as I tell stories. Empathize with my situation, just please don’t tell me that you understand.

What helped me

I love the book “It’s Not Supposed to be This Way” by Lisa TerKeurst. It resonated with me. For so long, I have been stuck within my grief. Within a short time frame, many influential people in my life passed away and each one left a feeling of emptiness. However, as I explain to my children, this is the circle of life and as hard as it is to understand, it means we felt deep love. That is a blessing for I cannot imagine living life without love.

Prayer. I believe in the power of prayer. I have seen God work through people and I know He is with us. Furthermore, I believe we will once again be reunited with our loved ones. 

Being honest about how I am feeling. This is a kicker for me because as I mentioned, I suck at this. There have been times in the past few years that I have been treading water…simply treading. And occasionally I find myself back in that same place. I expend energy but I don’t move forward.

 

 

Embracing 50: age is just an illusion

Embracing 50: age is just an illusion

 

Age is an illusion

Or is it? As a freshman in high school, I thought the seniors were old…and by seniors, I meant the 17 and 18-year-olds!   I would panic when a senior even looked at me and my young self, as the age of 18 was technically an adult! Furthermore, someone in their 20’s was fricken ancient, which made anyone near 50 a senior citizen!  Needless to say, back then, I  was also that woman who was not going to get married, nor was I going to have children. I was going to complete my Ph.D. and take care of the world.

Ah, best-laid plans, right?

My 20’s

This decade was an extension of my teens, albeit while attending college. Looking back, I can’t imagine how I would have prospered if I had actually studied more and partied less. I honestly don’t know where the energy came from, as all I did was worked, studied and went out. Repeat. And repeat again.

The transition to adult employment was less tragic than I would have imagined. It turns out I was pretty good at what I went to school for (who would have thought). And amazingly, I could live easily it up at night and work all day! I moved into my first apartment, purchased a pack of smokes and a six pack and consumed both while sitting in front of my giangantuaous platform tv watching Beverly Hills 90210 (I didn’t smoke, just like the independence). Suddenly, I was a somewhat self-respecting grownup who paid my own bills and was fast realizing that there was more to the world than going out and being social.

My 30’s

As my friends began to settle down, I was still in denial that settling down was for me. I surrounded myself with others who loved to live life to the fullest and enjoy the world. I worked, worked out (less as I began to work more) and went out.  It was during one of those nights out that I picked up the phone and left a message for a long lost crush of mine (yes, it was one of THOSE calls). We all have that “one” that never leaves our mind or our heart. And after dating on and off since we were 16, we made the decision to move forward…together.

This was a challenge for this wild and independent girl. Now I was sharing a bathroom with a boy!  lol And we were making plans for a future…together (gasp)! Thank the Lord that he was patient and understanding because anyone who knows me also understands that I am not the easiest person to be around.

We got a puppy…together…it was the ultimate commitment in my book. That is until he proposed.

My Mid 30’s

Chad and I were married at the same time that some of our friends were getting divorced. It always seemed as though I was in a different life stage than those around me, which was probably true, since I was the one to do things my way. About the time that Chad was settling into his profession, I decided to go to graduate school, still thinking I would pursue my Ph.D. I did get my Master’s; however, I stopped there, as our priorities changed when we had our first son at the age of 39.

For the midwest, 39 is really pretty old to be having a baby. So not only did we endure the whole “Advanced maternal age” comments within my chart, my body was pretty shocked at what I was asking it to do.  This pregnancy knocked me on my ass and bedrest soon took me out of the world, but it was all worth it.

And this woman who wasn’t going to have kids? She became a stay at home mom.

The 40’s

So, if 39 is old to have a baby, our prayers were answered when we had our second son at 40. Truth be told, this decade is a blur. Two babies, four dogs, three moves to two different states and three different homes. Multiple surgeries, multiple injuries, hormone changes, weight changes…blah, blah, blah.

My 40’s were dedicated to my failing body and raising my boys. For someone who was never going to have a family, I can’t imagine my life any other way. I don’t believe we have kids to teach them the ways of the world, I believe we are given children so they can teach us. Watching the world through my children’s eyes is simultaneously amazing and terrifying. These boys reminded me there is more to the world than what I was focusing on, and thank God for that.

This is 50

50 is a time of rebirth for me. The boys are getting older and more active, just like their mom. 50 is when I give myself permission to be selfish and focus on me. It’s time to get back to basics by making my wellness a priority and learning to say no to what doesn’t feel good. It’s a time of discovery and soul searching. If you need help on this journey, please see this previous blog post I wrote.

For me, it’s a time for reflection and asking God where He wants me. After seeing so many of my family members and friends leave too soon, I vow to never take a birthday for granted. Where I used to cry on my birthdays, now I embrace the opportunity for another day with my loved ones. So, thank you, Lord, for your work in me.  I am excited to see where you lead me next as I step out of my comfort zones. After all, God has never left me through this adventure and I trust He knows the next chapter of my story.

I just need to stop trying to take control of the journey.

 

 

How to cheat Success and make it about YOU!

How to cheat Success and make it about YOU!

I am success. Not successful, rather, a success.

Isn’t that a bold statement?  How dare I put myself out there as being a success? After all, who am I to say that I am more of a success than you are? ME. Seriously, just ME. I am me and I alone know the challenges I have overcome. Click To Tweet I can choose to dwell on them or I can learn from those obstacles and make different choices in the here and now.

Success defined

Let’s talk about the word success.

Dictionary.com defines success as “the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors; the accomplishment of one’s goals”.  If I honestly look back on my life and the goals I have achieved, I definitely meet the definition of success.  After all, I graduated from high school.  Trust me that was a success for being the person who rarely attended and dropped every class possible in order to have more time to “hang out”. Shoot, I even went on to attend college and graduate from grad school.

I think where we get caught up on whether we are successful or not may depend upon how competitive we are.  Stay with me here as I explain.  For example, if you neighbor purchases a brand new car and you are green with envy and berate yourself for not being able to afford that car, you may feel as though your neighbor is more of a success than you.

How do you know that said neighbor isn’t looking at your lawn and steaming with rage because his lawn looks so neglected next to yours?  Perhaps he wonders how you are such a success with your landscaping.  You have heard the expression “the grass is greener on the other side” and this is a perfect example of where that came from.  You may be thinking your neighbor has money to waste while he is wishing he had more time to work on his lawn.

Perspective

Here is another cliché…”life isn’t always as you see it”.  We all view our world through our experiences and our own perception of reality.  Here is also where we need to be careful because our perceived reality may be far from the actual experiences of others.  A little friendly competition is good for the soul; however downright jealousy and lusting for something someone else has is self-deceiving as well as self-defeating.

It’s easy to sit back and wallow in self-pity because we are not where we want to be in our life.  Here is some free advice.  STOP BEING A VICTIM!  You are the result of your experiences; however, it is up to you to change your life.

Self-Growth

I am a huge fan of Jen Sincero and I love her forthright honesty in her books (I may also have a little girl crush on her, so bear with me as I proclaim her greatness).  She is no nonsense and has lived through her own decades of doubt and self-destruction.  However, in her book, You are a Badass at Making Money; she spends a great deal of time talking about how we sabotage ourselves when we compare our lives to the lives of others.  Ultimately, her message is simple.  To achieve success, you have to believe that you are success.  I won’t share more of her message, however, I can assure you, it is worth the read!

Self-growth, ongoing education and challenging yourself are all instrumental in moving forward.  Our brains fight hard to hold onto our old thoughts and behaviors and I have referred to these as “old tapes“.  It is only by challenging those thoughts and behaviors that we will ever leave our comfort zones.  One way of doing that is by following people you admire.  No, I don’t mean to literally follow them; I mean follow them on social media, read their books, and watch their podcasts.

Another way to practice self-growth is to practice affirmations.  Find something positive that you absolutely love and paste it everywhere!  Use is as your screensaver and phone screen!  Put it on your bathroom mirror in lipstick and use sticky notes to put those affirmations all over your house and car!  Keep repeating that affirmation and “fake it till you make it.”

Let Go

Part of being a success is letting go of anything that holds you back.  For many of us, this is difficult as we feel guilty for closing doors on relationships.  Imagine this.  You are not closing a door, you are no longer allowing a person to control you or have influence over you. That is different than denying the person your company.

As you move forward, others may become uncomfortable.  As you step out of your comfort zone, you will have to find others who share your same vision.  You are not leaving others behind as much as you are creating a circle of influence to reach your next level.  Don’t be selfish and do not be afraid to reach out.  The truth is, you most likely have something to offer those around you, even if you don’t believe it yet.

Unfortunately, we are typically the last person to see our gifts and believe in ourselves.  When someone compliments you, accept it and file it away in your brain for those moments you are second guessing every decision you make.  In conclusion, let go of the negativity and embrace your dreams.  At the end of the day, it is up to you to make those dreams a reality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STOP the MADNESS!

STOP the MADNESS!

 

Stop and Madness!

Seriously, take a look through the internet and you will find pictures of every shape and size of people trying to tell you to buy their product in order to lose weight. I admit it, as an It Works Rep, I am continuously making suggestions to my friends about a product that will help them look or feel better.

Did you catch that? Look or Feel better.

Intellectually, I know that beauty comes from within. First and foremost, you have to give your body proper nourishment. As a result of proper nourishment, you can expect beautiful skin, healthy hair and strong nails. Proper nourishment can also help you maintain a healthy gut that will reduce bloating and keep you regular.

The right nutrients will assist you in keeping a strong immune system, and high energy level.  I believe in plant-based products, so when I have a friend who has a need, of course, I want to provide them with the top of the line supplements that will enhance their wellness. If I didn’t share what I believe to be amazing, what kind of friend would I be?

Who am I do decide who is worthy of these products and who isn’t?

Subjective

Beauty is also subjective. I put out a question the other day on my FB page asking what people thought was sexy. Ironically, the number one response was confidence Click To Tweet. It had little to do with physical attributes at all! So why on earth do we waste so much time worrying about our appearance?

Consider the impact that social media also brings.  We now have a new opportunity to compare ourselves with others. Unfortunately, we rarely know what photo is real and what has been altered. Therefore, unrealistic expectations continue to push us to a new level of frustration and negative thinking. Social media also offers an opportunity to participate in behind the scenes bashing.  We have all been there. Consider when we post a photo that we actually like of our self and someone says something derogatory. From that point on, the majority of us will remove that photo and begin to focus on the aforementioned negative area.

Stop the Madness

Just stop.

I tell myself this daily and honestly, there are days I tell myself that hourly. I am a woman. My body has given me babies. I have endured multiple surgeries and injuries. Yet, because of my physical appearance, I was reluctant to become an It Works Rep or a trainer at my gym. I was worried about how other people would perceive me and my products and services.

Honestly, that pisses me off. I am so irritated that I would allow my own self-perception to limit the impact I may have on others. Yet, I still get frustrated with myself when I am going to meet someone and I can’t find anything that looks “just right”.  I forget that five years ago I was undergoing major surgery that required extensive recovery. Or that 7 years ago I have just given birth.  My body has been through changes that apparently my mind has forgotten.

Embrace YOU

There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to look your best. For instance, I LOVE my skin care line because it makes my skin look and feel fresh and glowing. However, globally, there is a sense of shame in wanting to do things to enhance our beauty. Seriously, what kind of crap is that? Why is it that we are shamed if we don’t look a certain way. When did it become the norm to be judged if we don’t fit into a certain size, and why are mocked for wanting to look and feel amazing?

I call bullshit.

Here is my advice.  Be comfortable in your skin. Enhance what make YOU stand out from the crowd. Let yourself be pampered. You work hard and you deserve some love too. Stop letting comparison steal your joy. When you continue to worry about your appearance, you lose out on the moments happening before your eyes. Stop the madness.

Moderation

Personally, I have vacillated between 115 and 175 my adult life. Could I be a size 5? Probably. However, I am NOT willing to give up the things I enjoy and revert back to skin and bones. As a mom, I don’t want my boys to see an unhealthy person who is always so worried about my appearance that I won’t share that delicious dessert with them.

I want them to see me as a determined woman who works hard at her businesses and who works out because I want to be strong. They have watched me use my wraps and understand them to be a skin care treatment (which they are). They see my passion for helping others and my focus on being healthy and strong.

So, my friends, mock away. I love when I see memes regarding no wraps, pills or gimmicks. I know what it takes to become stronger…it takes exercising and watching what you eat. Additionally, I know that many people need some help overcoming a plateau or to feel less guilty after a cheat meal. Honestly, I don’t care what you have to do to focus on your own wellness, just do something and believe you are worth it.

Because you are!

 

Is it Fulfillment or a Title?

Is it Fulfillment or a Title?

While at the gym recently, a member asked me if I am fulfilled.

I am a mother, a wife, a puppy mom, a small business owner, a volunteer, an advocate, a writer, the Member Services Director for a local gym and a trainer. Am I fulfilled? Click To Tweet

I have an advanced degree, I continually push myself out of my comfort zone and I routinely accept new challenges…but am I fulfilled?

What is fulfilled?

One thing I am is tired.  Absolutely fucking exhausted.  I tend to overextend myself and forget to stay in the moment.  I feel as though I can do many things, however, I am not sure I do any of them well.  Is that fulfillment?

For me, fulfillment is a sense of accomplishment.  When I received my BSW, I was accomplished.  I barely graduated from high school with a diploma, so receiving a college degree was pretty cool. However, I wanted more.  For me, there is a sense of never reaching a goal because I keep changing where the golden ring is placed.  I keep setting the bar higher and higher.

Is that a bad thing?  I don’t believe so.  I am not one to be content.  I have an internal drive within me that pushes me to do more and be more.  However, I am not afraid to stop and do nothing and sometimes I shut down and do just that.  I restore, I connect with God, I connect with my family and I just let myself be.

But the next day I am up and moving toward another unseen goal.

Fulfillment in a title

For me, fulfillment is an illusion.  It is something people strive for when they continue to push themselves into new and scary adventures.  It is something external that they strive for.  Perhaps it is confused with recognition or accolades.

For me, fulfillment is internal.  What’s fulfilling for me is when my children recognize how hard their mom works.  My boys often ask how many businesses I own or where I am working as I drive them to school.  More importantly, my boys participate in my businesses and I hope I am teaching them a strong work ethic.

What I find fulfilling is when I hear my son tell me he loves me and he puts his little arms around my neck.  I may be many things, but the golden ring goes to the title of being a mother.  After years of being a child abuse specialist, knowing that I am impacting the lives of these living and breathing littles is indeed fulfilling.

Of all the titles, degrees and businesses I add to my name, being called mommy, mom, and mama are at the top of the list.  And I will continue to strive to be what God has trusted me to be.  And I will pray often for His guidance in helping me be who the boys need.  Everything I work for is done around my boys.  I am the first person they see when they awaken and I am the last person they see before they close their eyes at night.

For me, that is fulfillment.  So in answer to my client’s question. Am I fulfilled? Yes, I can confidently say that I am.

The many faces of FEAR

The many faces of FEAR

fear lies!
FEAR  defined by Websters
verb, | fear | ˈfir
Definition of FEAR
:frighten
:to feel fear in (oneself)
:to have a reverential awe of     (fear God)
:to be afraid of :expect with alarm,  fear the worst
:to be afraid or apprehensive    (feared for their lives)
January 1st typically  brings a slew of new resolutions, new goals and new ideas. It is an opportunity to reflect on the previous year, in addition to providing the opportunity to make  some positive changes.  Therefore, every New Year, we tend to stand tall and make  unrealistic resolutions.  Why?  The reasons are endless…regret, illness, injury, poor financial decisions, divorce, death, relocation, weight gain, poor diet, relationship issues, in need of spiritual direction…and fear.

FEAR

We all have the ability to reach our goals.  Too many times what stands between us and our destination is within ourselves.  Previously, I had written a post about silencing the recurring old tapes in our minds.  In many cases, it is those nasty little comments we silently tell ourselves that stops us from succeeding.  Furthermore, those old tapes stop us dead in our tracks before we even make an effort to do something different than our norm.

Fear of Change

Complacency is comfortable. We are all provided amazing opportunities..however it is what we do with those opportunities that sets us apart from others. Do you remember what you wanted to be when you grew up?  Are you doing it?  What happened to your dreams? For the majority of people, blending in with the crowd continues to be more comfortable.  Therefore anything that makes us stand out puts on too much pressure, hence we stay frozen in place.

New relationships, relocation or even accepting a new position at work can send many of you into an anxiety ridden tailspin.  Why? Because we fear the unknown.  We doubt ourselves.  We are comfortable just where we are and whether we are happy or not fails to play into the dynamics.

Fear of Failure

Much as failure is a part of life, the majority of us don’t handle it well.  I don’t know one person that easily accepts failure.  Essentially, it feels like we are letting those old tapes win and giving credence to anyone who didn’t think we would be successful.  However, what if we changed our perspective?  What if we began to see failure for what it is?  First of all, an opportunity to learn, furthermore an opportunity to improve.

Imagine what would have happened in Michael Jordan gave up when he missed a shot?  We could all learn from his words of wisdom and his determination.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed”. Michael Jordan

Fear of Success

To me, this is the most powerful realm of fear. Virtually everyone I know who has begun a new adventure initially panics and wants to backpedal.  Rather than move forward with blinders on, the majority of us become paralyzed by an inexplicable fear of succeeding.  Why?  What if we do succeed?  First of all, becoming successful further sets us apart from our comfort zone.  Becoming successful draws attention to us and raises people’s expectations, while additionally raising our own expectations.

God gave you the gift of life and an unlimited ability to achieve your dreams.  He did not create you to fail, nor has He instilled fear within you.  It is my opinion that when God places a dream within us, we are to go after it.  Therefore, when we sense a feeling of fear, we need to pray.  We need to reach out to those who support us, and we need to erase those nasty old tapes.

Let’s remember the wise words from an unknown source…

“But what if I fail?

Oh my darling, but what if you fly?”