Tag Archives: United States

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

Trust means letting go of the outcome

11 Dec

I’ve been on hiatus – living life to the fullest, meeting new people, having the best time of my life, learning that becoming my own best friend is a wonderful thing!

As part of this journey of happiness (“Happiness is a journey not a destination” – Souza), I am discovering that TRUST is a powerful word laden with all sorts of emotional baggage from the past.  I grew up with an unbalanced view of God and the universe (in my humble opinion) – if anything in my life went well, I was told that it was because of God shining favorably on me.  However, if anything went bad in my life, well that was solely due to my inadequacy to make things go right – and furthermore it must have been due to my personal lapse with God.

Today I know better!  I know that there are certain things that are within my control (trusting my instincts, choosing what is best for me, putting my best self into a relationship, making good choices, choosing whether to stay friends with abusive people, being kind, doing charity, etc.) and there are many things that are completely outside of my control (how other people behave, other people’s choices, what people say or do to me, the weather, traffic patterns, who passes me on the street, when the universe will deliver what I need, etc.)

It’s not really trust when it is within YOUR control…

For me, the road to becoming blissfully happy has been to know the difference between what I can control (me) and what I cannot.  Trusting myself has little risk – the outcome is something that I can reliably count on.   I trust that my perceptions, feelings, intuitions, and outlook are genuine and right for me. It is powerful to know this (and to dismiss as uninformed anyone who tells me otherwise.)

Cover of

Cover of The Four Agreements: A 48-Card Deck

Sidenote:  If you are like me and spent time in a narcissistic or controlling household or marriage or relationship, to arrive at a position of trusting oneself (after years of being told your perceptions were wrong) is an accomplishment in itself.  Never allow anyone to override what you know is best for you – your intuition is the best friend you can ever have!  Read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz for guidance on doing this (Agreement #1 – Always live with integrity.  (in other words, respect and love yourself and never say anything to yourself that you would not say to a best friend!)

Trust really comes in when you do not have control…

I believe that our views on Trust (trusting another to put your best interests first) gives “Trust” way too much power over us.

We trust our government to do the right thing (individuals do what is in THEIR best interests not necessarily ours), friends to be there for us (again it may not be in their best interests all the time), family to love us (outside of our control), and the universe/God to answer our prayers and manifest our dreams (timing is outside of our control.)  And when the other party lets us down, we find it hard to trust again.

But, when we reframe the word Trust into a concept where we let go of the outcome and tie Trust to Hope and not Expectations – we can continue to Trust without being angry or hurt by the outcome.

Trust tied to expectations ends up being about me (which is ego-centric and unfair to everyone involved).

Trust tied to hope is about letting go of the outcome and realizing that life happens in spite of us.  This is a much healthier way to live.

Let me illustrate with a few examples:

1. I ask you to mail a package for me and I “trust” that you will do it.

If trust = expectations, then if something comes up (outside of my control) and you neglect to mail the package at the appointed time, I will be angry at you for not meeting my expectations (and putting me ahead of other priorities).  If trust = hope, I can let go of the emotion that the outcome had anything to do with me.  I can be disappointed, but with hope, I can realize that the outcome was not within my control.  I trusted that the outcome would be good, but can live with the fact that it was not what I had hoped for.

2. I ask you to go to a company dinner with me and I “trust” that you will attend.

If trust = expectations, then if you forget to put it on your calendar and make other plans, I will be agitated that I wasn’t important enough (when the result may have had little to do with me.)  If trust = hope, then I can be disappointed, but I can realize that I cannot control you or your behavior.  (I may not ask you the next time, or may remind you next time, but I can live knowing that I am not in control of you!)

3. I commit my dreams to God/the Universe and “trust” that they will come true.

If trust = expectations, then when my dreams do not manifest in the exact time and place I want, I lose faith in God and the universe and wonder what I did wrong.  If trust = hope, then as my dreams unfold in the exact way that is best for me (I have to trust in this) then I am okay with the outcome.  Life seldom unfolds in the exact way we would have it if we were entirely in control, and often it comes out better than we could have ever planned.

The Next Five Weeks…

I have a wedding (my son), a move (5 weeks notice to vacate was just given to me by my landlord), the holiday season (laden with people and stressors), and some family issues to deal with… I know that I will get through it all by reframing Trust with Hope.  I trust (hope) that the universe will help me to find the perfect new place to live; that my son’s wedding will be a day they long remember with fondness; that the family issues will sort themselves out.  But I don’t expect it all to be “peaches and cream and rosy.”  I can do what I can do and Trust (= hope) that everything will turn out fine.

I hope that something I’ve written here resonates with you – have a wonderful December and a Happy New Year 2013!

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

Thoughts become words become actions become… destiny?

8 May

I confess that I am sometimes a “serial” blogger in that I post, post, read other blogs, think, post…

One blog I subscribe to is about Expatriate Experiences (I live my Expatriate life-to-be vicariously through her experiences) and today’s post is worth sharing with you:

I’ve heard this many times:

“Thoughts become words.  Words become actions. Actions become habits. Habits become character.  Character becomes destiny.” (Source Unknown)

Read the post and let me know what you think – can we alter our present and our future through the power of (positive!) words?

Have a great day!

Carol

Shortcuts and half-baked solutions

2 May

Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think. –Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wow!  Incredibly powerful words from decades ago – yet they have never been more true than today!  Whether in business or in personal affairs, no one seems to value hard work, persistence, or thinking these days.  Relationships are disposable, communication is impersonal (with text-message soundbites), governments look for the quick fix, corporations value capitalism over people, and shortcuts are the norm rather than the exception.

I don’t know about you, but my email inbox seems to attract an ever-increasing barrage of spam – most offering “get rich while you sleep” schemes – and it makes me wonder who is actually working while all of these salesmen are busy promoting.  At tax time (April 15), the Tampa Bay Times featured a front page article showing the latest scam where scammers submit fraudulent tax returns (using social security numbers of dead people) to “earning” an average of $9000. per return.  None of the offenders feared the IRS and they were proud of their endeavors.  Sheesh, what is our society coming to when someone’s 15 minutes of fame comes at a heavy expense to all of us?

Several months ago, the same paper profiled citizens among us vacationing on proceeds their insurance company paid out for sink hole claims for repairs never made.  Both stories highlighted the shortcuts that cost taxpayers millions.

Yet there are millions of other smaller shortcuts to fame and fortune and half-baked scams happening everyday all around us.

Why do we accept (and settle for) short cuts and half-baked solutions in life today? 

The first step to realization is to look at our behavior (before we look at others.)  Why do we take shortcuts or live with half-baked solutions to what ails us?  Probably because it is easier, less work, less stress, and comes with less risk of failure (and rework) to do the least possible.  This allows us to save our energy for things that “really matter” later.  As a result of not doing our best, we are dissatisfied with the results from ourselves or others.

Moreover, when we do do our best, people may not appreciate it, so why bother to spend extra effort?  When we look around, if everyone else takes shortcuts, why shouldn’t we?  The answer is that, in the process, we shortchange ourselves, our children (who learn by example), and our community.

We can see the results of our shortcuts and half-baked solutions everywhere: products don’t last like they used to; quality is down;  expectations are down; product failures are up; and morale goes awry. In the banking crisis, banking professionals bet against their own customers to pursue profits, got away with it, and even got a bonus bailout for their efforts.  No wonder our children seek shortcuts in everything they do.

The Buck has to stop somewhere…why not with us?

When we start to fully perform our work, invest in relationships (they take work), take time to do things right the first time (instead of half-baked), and insist on the same from others, our world (and morale) will improve. The America of yesteryear was filled with innovation, invention, progress, hope and dreams; hard work and integrity prevailed.

I envision a future where I can look back and be proud that I put the effort in to “fully bake” solutions – at least for my life.  How about you?

Wishing you a success-filled week.

Carol

Unknown Unknowns…

10 Apr

The Unknown

As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don’t know
We don’t know.

–Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing

It is said that the known knowns (what we know we know) and the known unknowns (what we know we do not know) are a mere 3-5% of what we could know if we discovered even a few of our unknown unknowns (what we have no idea about that we cannot even imagine we do not know).  Similar to the iceberg above, there is an amazing world beneath the surface of those first two categories.

Once in a while, we gain a glimpse of things we had no idea was even possible in our existence – and it can be exciting to discover these things.  What I find amazing is that the things I do not know that I do not know may be things that others may find obvious or might at least be on their radar that they know nothing about.  How much bigger could your and my world be if we caught more glimpses of positive unknown unknowns in our world.

Yet, so many people, especially politicians and leaders purport to know all there is to know about the world, and a few will even offer to find out things that they know they do not know.  On the other hand, there are those whose minds are closed and not open, and they prefer not to even consider that there are ideas beyond those already on their radar.  The concept of unknown unknowns does not even enter their realm of reality.  Do you know people like this?

When our minds are open (like umbrellas) we are able to embrace new ideas and listen actively. The more we know, the more we discover we don’t know, and suddenly the world can become interesting, no matter how old you may be!

How much excitement and happiness are in the world that we haven’t yet discovered is even there to discover?

So many things to learn to learn, and so little time.  (Just when we thought the world was getting smaller…  I don’t know about you, but knowing there is so much of life yet to discover, makes me happy to be alive.

Enjoy your day!

Better off dead… Never

3 Apr

The news got personal today when I read about a local business leader‘s suicide at age 59, because he was someone I knew.  While I would not say Bill was more than an acquaintance (he probably would not have remembered meeting me), he was someone who sent me mass emails, sponsored community events I volunteered for, and hosted networking socials I attended.  I feel sad and surprised by his early demise.

We cannot judge another’s life…

In reading the news story, I did not realize how unkind the local press had been to Bill of late, despite his efforts to better our community through a variety of profit and not-for profit endeavors.  One such project that brought him particular disdain (according to the story) offered hope to the homeless with an innovative newspaper project. In reading this, I wondered to what extent the publicity contributed to his death. Moreover, I pondered the cruelty that our society (and as a part of it, we) bestows on our own members.  We so often read the papers without a second thought about the effects on those involved.  We seldom consider that the people in the news are people who hurt, bleed, and feel just the same as you and I.

We distance ourselves from those we read about (victims, criminals, politicians, and others in the news) by differentiation. We say “we are nothing like them, therefore it won’t/can’t/will never happen to us!”  Consider our callousness towards politicians or millionaires or foreigners – it is easy to read about their missteps and walk away, because we are nothing like them.

Our popular press sensationalizes every story to exhaustion – so much so that the truth is secondary to the number of papers that sell.  TMZ (a scandal-seeking daily show) ridicules celebrities – and to our discredit, we comfortably scoff with them.

We seldom stop to consider others…

If we stopped to think, even for a minute, that the people in the news are just like you and I – imperfect human beings trying to live a good life based on principles (which may not be the same as yours or mine) – we would stop the madness and the presses.  We might even be kinder as a nation on those who step out of the fold to lead us.

I don’t know about you, but I see (and often feel) an increased world “intolerance” today, and this bothers me.  (As an aside, one of the most amusing post-it notepads I ever saw featured an old woman saying “there is nothing I hate more than intolerance.”)  We seem to feign acceptance of all races and creeds of people – as long as they are JUST LIKE US.

Kindness and acceptance of others could certainly make a difference to our neighbors and strangers who do good, and who more often than not are criticized for their efforts. We get so busy at being busy that we neglect to  notice (and celebrate) those who are altruistic, who give without expectations, who give of their time or money, and who appear strong in the public eye.  Like Bill, there are those among us who feel alone and maybe even despondent.

Circular reference – it’s all Related to a theme…

In a related theme, I have posted how bullying causes pain on several occasions – and lately about the documentary “Bully” making the rounds in theaters nationwide. (See Sticks and Stones are Secondary.)

Lady Gaga, Oprah, Harvard University, and a cast of celebrities and leaders have also stepped up their support to end bullying and make schools more accepting.  A new campaign called “It Gets Better” has the support of our President and motivates students to keep going in the face of adversity. Why not look at how our own seemingly innocent behaviors and attitudes affects those around us?

Supporting each other goes so much further than tearing each other down… pass it on!

Better off dead… NEVER!

I do not know what Bill’s life was like outside of the public arena.  He obviously had a struggle with demons that convinced him that he was better off dead than alive. He probably did not realize how many  people respected him (like me) and valued his contributions.  Somehow, the negatives overwhelmed the positives, and now it is too late to tip the scales to the plus side.

While we cannot save Bill, how about others?  Why not share a kind word of support instead of a critical barb today?  You never know, you might bring a ray of sunshine that makes the difference to someone you may not even know!

Thank you for reading… I appreciate you!

Carol

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