Tag Archives: choices

Graduation day revisited… it’s never too late for your dreams!

4 Jun

I graduated from mechanical  engineering many moons ago with the wide-eyed dreams of youth backed by a zest for the future and a century’s worth of wishful thinking.  For the next few years, life was a dream… jobs were plentiful,  I was a newlywed and new mother,  and even though finances were precarious (my husband went back to university to pursue a new career in a new city when my daughter was 4 months old) I had nothing but optimism for the future ahead.  What was woefully missing, and I never realized it, was a sense of self (as in self-acceptance, pride and self-love.)  While my business sense of self was intact, my personal worth and persona was based on the views of parents, husband and friends. As such, I found happiness only when others accepted me and I was making them happy.

Fast forward to today with grown children,  grandchildren, years of experience, age and financial uncertainty.  Jobs in my niche are scarce, ageism is rampant, savings are small and I wonder if I’ll ever be able to retire… hardly the image of success according to the “others” in my past, BUT, that’s all secondary to the fact that I’m truly happy.

Life has had many twists and turns, highs and lows, successes and failures, and I  finally realize that all of the external success and acceptance by others in my life was a red herring.  Happiness comes with self-acceptance and self-love, and without those, happiness is fleeting. Certainly love, parenting, friends, adventure, money and other things are important,  but not when it comes at the expense or with the exclusion of self.

Good things from others in my life are the icing on the cake, but the cake is a foundation of self-love and self-acceptance.

Today as I see so many celebratory posts about parents and graduates, I find that I am revisiting, with new eyes, the dreams and hopes of graduation.  The difference this time is that the hopes and dreams are based on being in love with myself first… and others second.

I’ve included below some of my favorite motivation/graduation style sayings. They resonate with me and I hope that a few will do so with you – no matter where you are in life and in love.  Celebrate who YOU are and reach for the stars!

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Everyone can use a little “pruning”…

13 Jan

By the title above and the fact that I live in Florida, you might be led to think this post is about regularity… thankfully (at least from my viewpoint) it’s not!  It’s about making room in your life for new growth, new experiences, new insights – no matter how old you are!  In fact, today is the youngest you’ll ever be again in your life, and if you’re reading this post, it is so much better than the alternative…

It’s probably obvious to you that we’re all born into the world completely pure, unadulterated, fresh, … we are like an oak seedling just sprouted. We are ready for nourishment, sunlight and warmth (love), and ready to take on the world. For most of us at this point, life is good.

By mid-life, we’ve weathered seasons and storms and our branches bear witness to years of events.  Our heads are filled to the brim with memories of experiences, hurts, biases, judgments, opinions of right and wrong, conditions, critiques and rules — so much so that there is barely room for anything or anyone new.

oakWe find that we are now solid oak trees, each of us bearing a customized pattern of branches forged through a unique set of events, circumstances and relationships. These branches bear witness to our life experience and often form a mismatch of uneven projections shooting out in myriad directions. During warm summers (the good times in our life), these imperfections stay hidden, obscured by bountiful leaves and we can fully bask in our beauty.  When winter sets in (the less than perfect times of our life), as it invariably does, our branches and scars are exposed bare leaving us feeling vulnerable and bare.  Over the years, our “branches” build up layers of  moss and hide skeletons of dead wood – emotional baggage – that can impede our natural growth. Sometimes this buildup happens overnight (such as a lightning strike or other stressful event), but more typically it accrues over time, seemingly unnoticeable as we go about our daily routines.  That is, until something jolts us to observe that dead wood and moss impedes our  future growth.

A colleague once told me (after a tumultuous time in my life):  “You really need to prune your life – get rid of the dead branches (the toxic relationships and ways of thinking that no longer serve you) to make room for new growth.”

The analogy was “bang on” (as we say in Canada) and her advice came flooding back to me today as I read the following:

1003924_560500844040225_309166825_nIt hit me – to accomplish ANY of these things means getting rid of dead wood in our heads… taking out the rote programmed reactions and ways of thinking.  Replacing the emotional baggage and dead end thinking with considerate, thoughtful, intentional responses to life.  One at a time…

“Learn to love without condition.”  Wow, this means I need to be conscious of and lower the biases (and judgments) that lead me to love others with conditions.  (The conditions are like a wall intended to protect me from future hurt – but ultimately it limits potentially great relationships!)  I need to consciously CHOOSE to accept and simply love people as they are, without conditions, (just as I would like to have happen to me.)  This sounds like a good habit to adopt.

“Talk without bad intention.”  Sometimes I reassure myself that I already do this, but if I am brutally honest, sometimes the good intentions are skewed when I am talking to someone with whom I have an imperfect past.  If there has been some mal-intention on the part of the other (even perceived) some mal-intention back could occur.  To talk without bad intention requires me to clear my head of judgment, before I speak, so that the words come out pure and the tone is positive.  This gives the other party the chance to simply be and respond without their defenses being up.  Sounds like another good habit to practice.

“Give without any reason.”  If you’ve grown up with a scarcity mentality like I did (there’s never enough money, food, jobs, time, energy to go around), giving can end up being biased and giving ends up with some sort of expectation.  Giving without reason means letting go of the need to get anything back in return (today or any day!)  Giving without any reason, just because I can – this is another habit that will enrich my life!

And “Care for people without any expectation.”  For me, this one hinges on my childhood learning of the “Golden Rule (do unto others as you’d like them <expect them> to do unto you.)”  This learning always set me up for failure because it implied that there would be reciprocity – that kindness begets kindness, generosity begets generosity, and so on.  The reality is that when I expect (not hope) something of others, I am imposing on them MY rules/code of behavior, my background, my need to  control – and that is simply not fair.  Letting go of the dead wood that expectations bring allows me to care for others as I can, while first taking care of my own needs (first.)

Pruning the dead wood in my  life takes concentration and work to properly trim (not chop) so that I remain whole and healthy.  Too much pruning at once or in the wrong season can be worse than not.  Figuring out new habits, such as those above, is a journey to remove the old (negative) habits of judgment, bias, reaction, and reliving old hurts, and replace them with new (positive) habits of acceptance, love, response and openness.

While old habits die-hard – I realize that this old dog can learn new tricks and the added bonus is that my new life is enriched, full, and thriving!

Wishing you a great week!

Carol

 

Clues as to Why She Might NOT be into You… (especially for men over 40!)

10 Aug

Following on the coat tails of “He’s just not that into you,” I’ve developed a list of common behaviors rampant among men (over 40) in Florida.  Every one of these has happened to me in the past 6 months (!) and my friends concur that they experience the same thing.

While we see these as absolute turn-offs, we constantly have guy friends who say “We can’t figure out why she didn’t call/text/email me back – I thought we were soooo compatible.”

So, if you are over 40, male, straight, and living in Florida (and elsewhere), here’s the top 10 list of disrespectful behaviors that should give you a hint about:

  “Why she just might not be that into YOU”:

1. If she tells you she doesn’t like texting and you insist on texting anyways; it’s likely she won’t be into you.

2. When you ask the type of food she likes and disregard her response & take her to Hooters; it’s likely she just won’t be into you.

3. No advance date planning ahead of 3 hours; this is just plain narcissistic to think that we women are waiting by the phone for your call.  If we are busy and active, (which those of us who are emotionally healthy and happy ARE), we’re not going to find this an attractive behavior.  When you know we are busy and you still do this (because you are NOT busy),  it shows a lack of planning on your part and a lack of respect for our time;

4. Male whining about how bad your ex is/was; We don’t care (just like you shouldn’t care to hear crap about our ex’s!)  You’d be turned off about us bemoaning how horrid our ex is/was -and so are we!  It doesn’t matter what you ex did to you or who she was – unless you prefer to be with her than us… Regardless, this is a turn-off and we probably will just NOT be into you!

5. Smoking without first asking if it’s offensive; this is a big no-no – a guy who pulls out a cigarette in a crowded bar or car and then expects us to share the air with their nicotine.  Would you willingly take part in cancer research we subjected you to – that was harmful to your health?  Unlikely – and so if you do this to us (without asking if it’s okay or excusing yourself and walking away) – we’re most likely NOT going to be into you!

6. No showing after we reserve time when you’ve asked us out and then saying “it wasn’t really a date anyways;”  This one is simply amazing!  A guy I know (who insisted he really, really wanted to see me) pulled out the “I’m too sweaty and tired to see you tonight” after arranging a date a few days in advance.  His response when I told him that I had set aside the time was “well I can see you tomorrow or Friday or the weekend” – NOT!  Any busy, happy female realizes that this is plain disrespectful behavior to assume that he can see you when it is CONVENIENT for him… Gosh, it is any wonder when this happens that we are just not that into you?

7. Calling us “chicks” or “girls” when we are over 25. – Hey, we are women who deserve good treatment – we’re not school girls or barnyard animals (although you might like that – NOT!)  While you may not intend to be disrespectful – you need to know that this is how it comes across.  Don’t be surprised if we are just not into you!

8. Asking if you can meet up with us when we’re out with our girlfriends, then getting ticked off and leaving in a huff when we don’t devote all our attention to you.  This happened with a “friend” who wanted to go out with me (I told him I just wanted to be friends) – he shows up at a place where he knew I’d be with friends (the priority!), ignored my friends (despite being introduced) and tried to monopolize my time.  Is it any wonder after violating multiple points above (whining, smoking, disrespect) that he’s no longer even in the friends WITHOUT benefits category?

9. Ignoring responses to texts you’ve initiated – for hours or days – then expecting immediate responses when you finally do text back; This is a routine complaint from my single friends:  guys will text them and carry on a conversation (multiple texts) then drop “off the face of the earth” when they initiated the text thread in the first place.  When our responses to your texts go unanswered, is it any wonder why we don’t respond immediately when you decide it is convenient to text back?  If we sense a lack of respect or courtesy, you can bet that we will just not be that into YOU!

10. Whining (about anything and everything) – especially when we’re out somewhere. There is nothing more pathetic (and unattractive) than a guy who whines about how great their former city is compared to where we choose to live. Recently a transplant from Scranton, PA incessantly whined about the “high price of chicken breasts” here compared to “Scranton” – it got so bad that I started to encourage him to move back!  If you whine instead of expressing gratitude for life, don’t expect us to be into you!  We have enough drama in our lives without having to take on yours!

Now, I’m not saying all single men over 40 living in Florida (and elsewhere) are bad guys.  I’m simply pointing out that if you are puzzled by female behaviors that confuse or (at times) seem to stymie you – take a look again at the checklist items #1 through #10 – and see how many infractions are part of your regular behavior.

Certainly it is your choice whether you want to/don’t want to change, but if you do want someone to become special in your life, you may want to take a second look at what you might be doing to turn off women.  (And this is just a short personal list of what irks me and my friends – it might not hold true for other women.)

Wishing you all the best – do you agree with my findings above?

p.s., The next posting will concentrate on how to discern:  “You think she’s into you, but you’re just not sure:  A Checklist for Respectful Guys.”

Carol

What’s Love Got to Do with It?

2 May

I don’t know if it’s the email spam lists I’m on or where I hang out (the beach) or what’s on TV (I seldom watch) – if you’re not coupled up, you just don’t count.  In the news, the debate about gay versus straight marriage has become tantamount as if marriage and coupledom is the only way of life.

But consider that with over 1/2 of marriages ending in divorce, and an equal split between singles and married adults in the US and one has to wonder why the 50% of singles are nonplussed.  When I survey most of my single friends, many would prefer to be in a committed loving relationship to being alone and would love to find love (wouldn’t we all!)  One friend of mine is miserable because she loves many male friends but professes that she really needs to be “in love.”

The pursuit of love (in my estimation) is a red herring – looking to “find love” should be a misnomer because love is all around us (and in us).  Romantic love (the kind in the movies and fairy tales) is fun, often fleeting, but it is only one kind of love – one that depends on another to fulfill us.  That’s where the problem lies – reliance on anyone other than ourselves to feel love!

Having been married half my life to someone who truly loved himself (and I him), I am discovering that the key to true love can only be found through “selfless self-love” – truly accepting oneself for the combination of beauty, faults, strengths and weaknesses we see in the mirror.  Many grow up without the self-esteem to know that we need to be attracted and attractive to ourself first and foremost before we can truly share love with anyone else.  Yet this is the ultimate truth – self-love is the root of happiness!

I frequently quote don Miguel Ruiz’ The Four Agreements because I truly admire and embrace the essence of his work.  The First Agreement “Always live with integrity” truly expresses the core concepts behind self-love.  I used to think that this agreement simply meant one should be honest and ethical – but that is so far off!

“Always live with integrity” means never, ever say anything to yourself that you would not say in love to a best friend.  So, the “I’m too sensitive, too xxx, whatever” needs to be banned forever from one’s vocabulary (both to yourself or to others!) and replaced with “I am who I am and I love me.”  Taking care of oneself first is like putting on your own oxygen mask first on an airplane – it allows you to function AND be able to share with others!  For me, this was an incredible concept as I was always told (and taught) and experienced that I had to give before I received.  Yet, by not giving myself the love I truly deserved, I gave away my sustenance and what I needed to truly survive.  Self-love is not selfish, it is selfless and necessary!

If you’ve read this far (and I’m almost done my rant for the day!) – you might be thinking that I am professing to become as narcissistic as the person I am no longer with, but this is wrong. Or you might be saying “how could you grow up without knowing self-love and putting yourself first?” (It happens to more than me, I guarantee it!)

I’m not saying one should become obsessed solely with oneself, but rather that finding love in the world means starting with truly accepting and loving ourselves.   We truly deserve our own true love.

So, what’s love go to do with it?  Loving yourself in all your splendor is the right thing to do – and once you’ve mastered that – love has found YOU!

Have a great week!

Carol

Is anything “real” these days?

6 Sep

 

 

The internet has spawned an “International Attention Crisis” where people worldwide are addicted to constant (24×7) updates and instant gratification by social media, email, voice mail, and other “indirect” (i.e., non-face-to-face) contact with others.

 

Walk into any restaurant, bar, coffee shop, or even car, these days and you’ll seldom find anyone to talk to – in person that is – and you’ll find the same with everyone else.  It’s as if we’ve all become zombie slaves to our electronic connection tools.

 

Sometimes I wonder if there is really any communication happening in person today… except on reality TV shows where fantasy and reality blend seamlessly to convince us that non-communication in our homes and personal lives is okay.

 

Tell me what is real and what is fantasy in these situations:

 

– People sitting at the same table in a restaurant or bar (who are in-person friends) all texting others who are not there;

 

– Drivers in cars watching their smart phone screens instead of traffic all around them;

 

– Children who text their parents from their rooms instead of walking into the same room to talk;

 

– Facebook members who brag about having 5000+ “friends” when research proves that the human mind can accommodate a mere 150-or so friend relationships;

 

– People who call out or disrespect others using Facebook because they lack the guts to communicate directly;

 

– Unlimited texting is more popular than unlimited talk on cell phones;

 

– Twitter is replacing email systems as the preferred method for some corporate communications;

 

– When you meet someone they ask you if you are on Facebook or Twitter before they ask for your phone number or other contact information;

 

– People know you by your photo on social media and don’t recognize you in person;

 

– Interactive voice recognition (IVR) computer systems block access to real people when you need help desk support – sometimes there is no possible way to reach a live human being who can solve your problem;

 

– The only way to bypass circular menu systems and reach a live person at banks or cell phone providers is to say “Cancel service”;

 

– When people say “I’ll call you right back” it usually means they are bored of talking to you and will often text instead of calling back;

 

– “Events” from Facebook or social media fill out your social calendar where you mingle with mostly people you don’t care to meet again;

 

– Life becomes more isolated, more self-reliant, more independent, and less connected (even though it seems you are ultra-connected!)

 

Perhaps it is a sign that I am getting old, but I long for the days gone by when people went to restaurants and bars to meet and mingle rather than post photos and check-in on Facebook.  I’d like to go out “with” people who are not tethered, have a real date with a guy who isn’t constantly checking his email, and have good conversation with friends who are truly interested in my life and vice versa.

 

While it does happen from time to time, the reality is that nothing that was real yesterday (true communication, compassion, connection, and genuine interest) is real today.  Technology is supposed to be a communication “enabler” but I’m wondering just what kind of “enabling” it is really doing to our life today.

 

Is anything (or anyone) real these days or are we all living in the fantasy of virtual communication?

 

Wishing you genuine connections with real-life people!

 

Carol

 

 

One of the Greatest Mental Freedoms…

7 Aug

Do we REALLY not care what other people think?

In this internet age of text messaging, tweets, Facebook, and other social media, we are supposedly more connected to each other than at any other time in history.  Break-ups, romances, births, changes in status, and other life events are routinely shared with the internet public – often without a thought about the persistence and permanence of what was historically intimate information.

One would think that people today are independent, resilient, teflon-coated, and definitely confident in their own worth and well-being – at least that is the impression based on the volume of personal information shared in cyberspace – often with complete strangers! Yet, is this really the case?  Can generations of western children raised with the adage of “what will the neighbors think?” and “make us proud” overcome such indoctrination by chronicling their life on Facebook?

I believe that most people support and participate in social media because it helps us to feel connected with others – and hopefully enhance our existence on earth.  Yet, the cyber bullying and online fights seem to contradict the “approval ratings” and can even harm one’s well-being.

Our goal should be to gain our OWN acceptance and become the best ME that one can be.  One of the greatest mental freedoms is to not care about what other people think!  You know best for you – and you are the only one who can be the best YOU!

Thank you for reading and have a great week!

Carol

Happy Mother’s Day – be a Mother to Yourself!

13 May
Mother's Day card

Mother’s Day card (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It might sound a bit circular to you to suggest that you be a mother to yourself – but I believe that most mothers (no matter how wonderful) fall short of being the nurturing, caring, unconditionally caring mother we all need to get us through life.

Through this blog and in everyday interactions, I hear stories that range from mothers who are exceptionally giving and accepting to downright bitches on steroids who poison every person they meet.  We cannot choose our mothers, but we can choose how they affect our adult life (or at least we can try!)

Just as I believe in the Type Y management theory (most people will do the best job they can given the knowledge and education at hand) versus the Type X (people innately need to be micro-managed or they will cheat and do the least) – I believe that most mothers (and fathers) do the best job they can given their knowledge and education about parenting. (Of course there are exceptions – we read about them in the daily press or see them on Reality TV!)

Because today is Mother’s Day in North America, I’d like to focus on mothers (and the same wisdom can apply to being a father to yourself!)

What We Need from Mothers

Childhood memories might not be as distant to you as they are to me, but no doubt the good, bad, and the ugly of childhood sticks with us all.  We all bear the wonders (and the baggage) of growing up and I venture to guess that no matter where or when you grew up, it was not all honey and roses (if it was, then I applaud you for an ideal childhood or a selective memory!)

What would the ideal mother give? Here is my “laundry list”:

  • safety (from the physical and emotional affronts we face in the outside world);
  • security (with basic food, shelter and clothing taken care of);
  • acceptance (to know that we are whole, complete and perfect just as we are);
  • love (unconditional if that is even possible);
  • truth (that life isn’t fair, that there are good and bad people, that we deserve love, and that no matter what we can make it.)

Moreover, the perfect mother would remind us that we are good enough, beautiful enough, smart enough, deserve love, and can make it no matter what or who life throws at us.  But, like a Barbie doll – such an ideal is only a fantasy.

My mother did her best to raise five children (only seven years apart) and offer a nurturing environment – given her knowledge and parenting skills, and I am truly grateful.  I always had a home where I knew someone would know my name and I could fall asleep without fear of violence or hunger – I am grateful, especially when I know that not everyone had this luxury.

Lifelong Mothering can only come from Within

Regardless of what your mother was like, I believe that EVERY mother falls short of being the ideal mother we need(ed).  The good news is that no matter who was/is your mother, we all have the opportunity, starting today, to be the ideal mother to ourselves.  We can give ourselves the inner pride, security, safety, unconditional love, acceptance, and truth to become the best we can be!

Many books attempt to teach us how to nurture ourselves and overcome our childhood – including  as the Inner Child, I’m Ok- You’re Ok, There is Nothing Wrong with You, Co-dependent No More, The Four Agreements,  etc.; but few teach how to be the mother you need(ed) for yourself.

Being able to rely on unconditional love and undying support of the ideal mother can only come from within. We owe it to our inner child to give him/her the nurturing in the way we need, from someone who knows us better than anyone possibly can.

Starting today – evict the Inner Critic

The first step to being a mother to yourself is to evict the harsh inner critic who takes up valuable real estate in your mind.  Replace this critical voice (you’re too xxx, you’ll never be yyy, don’t even try to do zzz!) with that of the ideal mother (you are perfect the way you are, you can become yyy, don’t just try but do zzz!, you can do it!)

Tell yourself what an ideal mother would say:

...you are extraodinary…you are beautiful…and you are loved.

In The Four Agreements, author don Miguel Ruiz says that Agreement #1 is Always live with integrity.  In other words, never tell yourself anything that you would not tell a best friend.  Be supportive, loving, accepting, proud, nurturing, and giving to yourself!

The second step is to write down the characteristics an ideal mother (or father) would have (or could have) provided in your life, and then start doing them for yourself!

Does this make Mother’s Day sense?

What do you think? Is this simply airy-fairy, psycho-babble?  I can tell you that the Royal We (me, myself and I) plus my inner Mother is a formidable team (newly formed!)

Does this ring true for you (or anyone you might know)… please comment!

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Carol

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