Life Preserver

Your self worth cannot be tied to anything external of you.

Not your job, your partner, your appearance, your family, the clothes you put on, your kids, or your friends.

I don’t usually like the use of absolute statements, but in this case I think it is applicable.

You should NEVER define yourself or find your worth in anything that is external.

You might be asking yourself why at this point.

Because, my friend, everything outside of you is temporal and changeable.

Jobs can be lost, moods of people are constantly in flux, appearances and fashion alters over time, kids grow up, and friendships evolve and change.

The only place you should find your worth is within. That should be your constant.

If you find your worth within than nothing external of you can destroy or take it away.

This by no means says you can’t be rocked by external changes, because you will.

Life has a way of engulfing and overwhelming us – but if you have learned to trust yourself and who you are, THAT – my friend – is your life preserver.

I say this as someone who spent a great deal of my life creating myself and viewing myself through the opinions of others.

External opinions and failures had the power to destroy me. To the point, my friend, that after my divorce I thought very seriously of suicide.

I genuinely felt that if someone could leave me the way that my ex did then there must be something very very wrong with me.

If I were a house, then this heartbreak tore me down to the studs.

This was necessary, for it allowed me to rebuild who I was and how I understood myself. I learned to love and trust myself, deeply, and there was absolutely nothing wrong with me.

There is another absolute.

You should believe this about yourself as well, my friend.

There is NOTHING wrong with you.

You are so lovable and so very worthy – but don’t believe it because I say it, believe it because it’s true and you know this in your very cells.

You will always be your own life preserver then, and life – while it can rock and swamp you – will not have the ability to easily sink you.

Always,

Your Trusted Friend ❤️

Lessons Through Pain

Once upon a time I went through a heart breaking breakup.

I felt myself splinter apart and I couldn’t see how the pieces of me would ever fit back together again.

The view of mascara stains on my pillow and the ache of misery in my belly that made me feel full to stuffed was something that I became accustomed to.

With time that pain dulled, but it offered a view of myself when I was raw and broke that allowed me to see into all the dark forgotten corners of myself.

The areas that I’d allowed someone else to occupy, the parts that I’d left ignored without tending for far too long, those spots I’d tucked away and camouflaged, dressed up and disguised. I also saw someone intelligent, interesting, and made with a core of titanium strength.

That deep look allowed me to see both the parts of myself that I didn’t like that required some work, and the parts that I loved and allowed myself to embrace.

The pain of this breakup became a part of me that prepared me for much worse things that came later.

It’s interesting, though, as I’ve experienced much more difficult things since this first heartbreak, but nothing has broken me quote like it.

Now I can be thankful for this pain, for it prepared me for what was to come and revealed to me the unique person that I carefully pieced back together after allowing myself that deep look within.

Friend, pain will eventually dull with time, but open your heart to it. Let it rip you to shreds, and when you’re completely naked to yourself take a long look.

Figure out who you are, and do it by yourself. Don’t ask anyone else to define you or to piece you back together.

We are all unique people with uniquely created pain, and this is your time to claim that for yourself.

Why in the world would I do that, you ask?

Because life will balance back again, and you will go through worse pain.

You’ll need this experience as absolutely necessary and it will become a part of you.

So, take a long look and, whether or not you like it, figure out who you are as a unique person without distracting yourself.

In your pain you have an opportunity to get to know yourself in a magical way. I know, I’ve been there.

Always,

Your Trusted Friend ❤

Perceived Perceptions

So much time is devoted to attempting to view ourselves through the lens of other people’s perceptions, followed by hacking off pieces of ourselves to squeeze into a box we think others have ascribed to us.

We try to be what and who we believe others want us to be. Performing gymnastics to be some twisted version of ourselves.

To look like the characters in fashion, beauty, and fitness magazines and putting on a personality as we would a costume that we think we be most pleasing.

Guess what?

It’s our own fault when we find our wrists wrapped in chains. We’ve tied ourselves together, twisted up the knots, because of what we imagine someone else is thinking.

In reality, most people have so many of their own worries and fears running through their minds that they don’t have the mental space to be making assumptions about us, at least as much as we perceive that they do.

So, we’ve stressed and created anxiety as we’ve redefined ourselves and limited ourselves for nothing but our own guilt, fear, and crisis of identity.

The sooner we are able to root ourselves into our own truth the better.

Dig deep, friend, and take note of who lurks within.

This is the only person you should be presenting to the world.

Let her free.

Always,

Your Trusted Friend ❤

Us/Them

It seems we’ve never fully matured past high school cliques.

I understand the desire and need to surround yourself with like-minded people. This is natural, because as you pursue your dreams, goals, and chase aspirations you’re going to meet people along the way that are on the same path as you.

The danger in this, my friend, is the way that forming cliques and groups can separate you from other people. People who are different than you, people who are on a different path than you, people who could potentially have something new to teach you outside of your comfortable sphere and bubble.

Instead of seeing others outside your path as potential teachers and eye openers, they are often looked at with skepticism and judgement.

We develop an us/them mentality, labeling them as ‘other’.

The side effects of this us/them mentality is that it gets converted into the idea of good versus bad, right versus wrong, the hero versus the villain.

Most of the time, though, this isn’t true. There are no good guys and bad guys. No cowboy in a white hat to save the day from the black hatted villain.

This leaches it’s way into our ideas, ways of living, and how we walk through this world. We each feel our way is ‘correct’ and our views are the ‘right’ ones.

There are so many ways in which this can lead to folly and misunderstanding as we try to convince, persuade, and argue with those around us in order to get them to fall in line with us.

If they don’t? We stomp our feet, throw a fit, and declare any dissenters our foes.

What if we didn’t do this, thought?

What if instead we sought to understand the whys?

I read about a couple that was having disagreements about money. Both felt they they were right and correct and were at their wits end with the other.

In counseling they were both asked to explain WHY they felt the way that they did about money.

The husband had grown up in a family where a job loss occurred and no buffer or savings was in place to protect the family. Due to this his family had to move into a hotel and they had. He told himself he would never end up in this position as an adult and as a result saving became a top priority to him.

The experience of the wife was vastly different. Her family growing up had saved, always putting off vacations, hobbies, and experiences until later. Unfortunately her dad died unexpectedly never being able to enjoy all of the things he planned for. She told herself that she would never put things off, and this became a top priority for her.

Both were aware of one another’s priorities when it came to finances. Obviously one wanted to save, while the other wanted to spend. However, they were not aware of one another’s WHY and how past experiences had shaped their views. Neither of them was wrong, they just had a different experience and perspective.

How about instead of creating divisions and sides, trying to prove we’re right and convincing someone else that they are wrong, we seek to understand their WHY.

Agreement doesn’t have to happen, but understanding can. Seeing where someone else is coming from can open eyes, allow empathy, and provide opportunity for to create a middle ground that all can exist in.

Most of the time, friend, there isn’t a good guy and a bad guy… just different perspectives, experiences, and whys.

Let’s take the time to seek out these people with a different view.

Think of all of things we can see, learn,and understand if we do.

After all, we’re not in high school anymore.

Always,

Your Trusted Friend ❤

An Imprint

We each of us leave an imprint on the people around us.

The people we touch are forever altered by the touches we mark them with.

You get to decide, my friend, the X you leave behind – that mark that says you were there.

Did you speak words of kindness, gentle whispers brushed lovingly across a beloved’s ear, or did you rail down criticisms and complaints shattering spirits and wrecking hearts?

Did your touch trail down your lover’s spine sending tingles of adoration and anticipation, or did you ball your fists and smash holes in the walls of a home lovingly built?

Do the people you’ve met gently cradle the memories built with you as treasures, or lock them into boxes in an attempt to forget them?

You’ve left your imprint, of this I guarantee, even if you were but a temporary visitor.

We can all think of kind words spoken by a stranger at just the time when we most needed them.

The woman in the grocery store who had to stop you and tell you what beautiful energy you have.

The elderly gentleman that thanked you for your beautiful smile and told you that you’d made his day.

The barista who asked how your day was only to have you burst into tears, and instead of acting shocked and embarrassed, asked if she could hug you.

The teenager who told you that you were easy to talk to.

The man who asked how you were able to get him to share so openly.

You choose the imprint you leave.

Choose carefully…

because X marks the spot that says you were there.

Always,

Your Trusted Friend ❤

Practice Patience

Friend, so much of our ability to remain patient depends upon our ability to practice being hopeful, to believe that in everything there is a reason and that all detours, setbacks, and heartbreaks are – in reality – preparing you for something better.

Something greater.

I am not the most patient person.

Nope, I’m the kind that wants to read the last page of a book to see how it ends.

Not just fiction, but real life as well. I can admit that I’ve pushed many relationships to the breaking point by trying to rush to the finish line.

To push to define what we are, and where we are going.

This doesn’t just happen in my personal relationships, but also when I face any obstacle. There is this almost desperate need to know why.

Where is this leading?

To push through the difficulty as quickly as possible and to reach the finish line, to learn the lesson, earn the prize, and reach the next level.

For our growth does not come in the calm, it comes when we are under pressures.

Perhaps, friend, we need to stop, breath, and take notice of these situations more – instead of, like me – trying to barrel our way through them?

It’s been a lesson to learn to feel all the feels, to let sadness just like happiness flow through me and to have equal respect paid.

This same lesson could be applied to life experiences as well, to give respect and time to dishevel, disruption, and destruction.

For these times tear us down.

They break us, and then we build brand new.

This understanding, that hard things create and mold us, will bolster us, friend, and provide us the patience, grace, and strength that we need to preserver and – just maybe – the ability to savor these moments for what they have to teach us.

All of this requires our patience, to not always try to rush and escape the hard stuff in order to get to the good.

Friend, the good IS coming, trust that, but right now we have to sit in the bad and not try to skip through to the end of the book.

Always,

Your Trusted Friend ❤️

Closure and Tomatoes

Recently I read a quote by Mel Robbins where she stated, “You don’t need closure. You need to move on” and this made me think about tomatoes.

I hate tomatoes. They literally make me gag.

Several years ago when I met my daughter’s great grandfather and he heard of my aversion to tomatoes he decided that I just needed to eat the right tomato.

I was hesitant as to his rationale, after all I’ve lived to a grand ol’ age without my taste buds altering to this particular flavor profile, but I figured I’d give his theory a chance.

We walked to the farmers market together with my daughter in tow and he bought several varieties of fresh grown local tomatoes. He gushed over each while I raised a brow in speculative doubt.

Honestly, they all looked like mushy disgustingness to me. Past that firm, shiny, red exterior was slimy, warm, seedy, mush.

An unexpected quiver of revulsion ran down my spine as he took a large bite of one as if it were an apple to have the juice run down his chin and fingers. He smiled in delight as he handed it to me.

Not wanting to let this wonderful man down, I grabbed the tomato, closed my eyes, and took a tentative bite. My teeth broke through the firm skin and into the mushy pulp beneath, filling my mouth with its warm gooey texture and…

Friend, I hated it. Instead of chewing, I swallowed down the mush in one gulp along with the bile that threatened to rise.

It didn’t take the right tomato, friend. I just don’t like them.

This doesn’t mean to that there is anything wrong with tomatoes, or with you if you like them. I just happen to not enjoy them.

So, why do I tell you this torrid tomato tale? Because it reminds me of our need for closure when relationships end.

We want to know why.

Why didn’t she choose me? Why didn’t he like me? Why didn’t this work? Why did he cheat? Why did she ghost? Why did they stop speaking with me? Why don’t we hang out any more?

Guess what? It’s simple. It’s because he or she or they don’t… and that is okay.

It doesn’t mean that something is wrong with you, or that someone else won’t come along and find you marvelous and mouth watering.

You just were not the right taste, texture, and flavor for that one person. That, my friend, is all you need to know.

If someone doesn’t like tomatoes you can’t convince them otherwise, no matter how flowering the descriptors and adjectives, no matter how much you – personally – love them, they don’t.

We don’t, generally, take loads of time trying to convince someone to like a food that they find undelectable. We just accept it and don’t try to force our personal preferences upon them, but when it comes to people… well… we’re not as objective, because they’re people and feelings are not always objective.

Relationships are deeply personal. What I do want to point out, though, is that not everyone you cross paths with will be for you or you for them and, just maybe, if we try to think of it similar to a tomato we won’t try to force it, explain it, or understand it.

Sure, we’ll be bummed, sad, and disappointed – but we won’t require some deeper explanation to justify why someone doesn’t like us.

We will, instead, just accept that maybe that person just doesn’t like a tomato and then we can move on to someone who will enjoy us with delight.

Always,

Your Trusted Friend ❤️

Sexy

Sexiness. A quality that I have striven to dominate and make my bitch since a boy told me, “Miranda, you’re just cute.” My initial reaction was to think, “I’ll show you!” My fist raised in my mind’s eye in defiance. Why I didn’t just accept the compliment of being cute, I’ll never know… perhaps it was because it was accompanied with that word, ‘just’; indicating — in some way — that being cute wasn’t enough. You tell me that I am not enough, hint at it in any way, I am going to see that as a challenge — one that I can’t refuse.

So, I set out to become sexy, friend, and, I am going to be honest, my initial attempts at being sexy were ridiculous, and more of a cause for ridicule than anything else. I watched the women around me who I thought had ‘it’.That spark, that thing that made them ooze sex appeal. The way they carried themselves with aloofness, flipped their hair, and looked alluringly down their noses under their eye lashes. The casual sway of the hips, shoulders back, chin up.

These small things I saw and attempted to emulate. When a man approached me while out and about I fluttered my eyelashes and tossed my hair, eliciting the reaction, “Is there something in your eye?” The eyelash fluttering was partially caused by my previous hair tossing, which resulted in whipping myself in the face and then a profusion of eye watering. Hair flipping should come with a warning label.

The casual sway of my hips looked more like a limp, the result of some unfortunate accident and my alluring gaze made those around me think I was trying not to fart. In addition, I tried to do a sexy crawl, bite my lip, and casually moisten my lips with my tongue. All met with laughter, by the way.

With these failures in mind I knew that serious measures had to be taken. I went so far as to visit a ‘gentlemen’s club’ with two girlfriends. My goal was to observe these women… the way they moved and carried themselves. Perhaps, somehow, I could find some lesson here that I could take, make my own, and finally make that crossover from ‘cute’ to ‘sexy’.

One performer caught my eye. She was wearing a sports bra and boy shorts, knee socks and tennis shoes. One would assume that with the fact that she was wearing much more clothing than the women around her that she would receive the least attention, yet the floor around her was littered with green bills of various amounts and the stage around her had an audience cramped around her.

Her signature move was tossing her body down onto the ground and, in effect, humping it. Every time she did this move it was met with whoops and cat calls, and a plethora of dollar bills rained down upon her. Rationally I thought to myself, “A-ha! I think I can do that!”

Now, I am not one to assume I could do such an advanced move without practice, especially with my previous hair whipping fail… or without getting my best friend to watch and evaluate my attempt at being ‘sexy’. So, I practiced in the safety of my home. Turning 80s and 90s music on full blast, and prancing around my apartment. Once I felt I had sufficiently mastered the move I asked my gal pal if she wouldn’t mind observing and giving me some feedback.

So, one Friday night, after steeling my nerves with copious amounts of wine and girl giggling I was ready to turn up some tunes and show off my new sexy move. I started to dance. I do not claim to be the best dancer, matter of fact I’m fairly certain I look like a mix of Napoleon Dynamite and Elaine from Seinfeld. These impressive dance moves were punctuated by me tossing my body onto the ground and proceeding to bounce my hips up and down, up and down… over all of this were the squeals of my NOW former best friend’s laughter which only ended when she fell off of her couch.

I hate her. Okay, no, I don’t. That’s a lie. It was ridiculous. I know this is retrospect. TRUST ME, lesson learned. I failed to consider the usefulness of this new ‘move,’ or how, where, and when I would actually use it, a slight oversight on my part. Can you just imagine me… at a coffee shop? I spy an attractive man ordering an espresso, logically; I toss myself onto the ground and start humping it.

Looking back I realize how futile these attempts at sexiness were. It was silly. However, I can appreciate the laughs I had and the ridiculous moments with friends. One thing I have learned about sexiness is that it isn’t an article of clothing that you put on, I did buy a fabulous pair of black vinyl/plastic pants… those are particularly difficult to get off and on. Nor is it the moves you memorize and perform, or the tossing of your hair in slow motion. Sexiness is none of these things.

Though it could be.

Let me explain, friend. Sexiness is in your attitude, the way your personality, body and mind blend together and are exuded to the world, in the way you carry yourself with confidence. This was why little sporty spice had a standing room only crowd around her. It had nothing to do with what she did or didn’t wear, or even that she was humping the ground. It was in HOW she carried herself.

Sexiness is living your life without apology of who you are, radiating a self-love that makes others love you too. They just can’t help it. And when you have this, it doesn’t matter if you are goofy or nerdy… or cute,like me, you are also damn sexy.

Always,

Your Trusted Friend ❤️

Face the Bear

Katerina Plotnikova

Friend, relationships are difficult.

They require work, whether that is picking up the phone to chat, planning and spending time together, or settling in to have the hard conversations…

…they, relationships, require effort.

Additionally, we all have triggers, pasts, and ‘imperfections’.

The closer you get to someone, my friend, the more likely these things will reveal themselves.

When they do, will you have the conversations, will you be willing to see someone for who they are and still say yes?

Will you be able able and willing to stand with them and hold space for them?

Will you be able to allow these things, when they rise up, to run their course while you remain centered, focused and confident?

And, what if – friend – you are?

You’re a full body yes, but the one you’re with is indecisive about whether or not they can stand with you?

What if, the one you’re with, when your triggers, past, and imperfections rise up, is unable to stand and hold space for you?

What if, instead, they show you who they are by yelling, fighting, or running away instead of remaining centered, focused and confident for you?

What then?

Friend, you choose you.

You love yourself the way you want to be loved and you let go.

You cannot force or coerce anyone to be ready to jump into the deep end of a relationship.

Real relationships require a scary amount of vulnerability, honesty, and transparency to both see and be seen completely, and it isn’t always pretty.

We carry with us scars, and while it’s no one else’s job to fix us – it is their job to choose us by holding space with us when the inevitable happens and we let the ugly bits loose.

Often we are too scared to let people this close, going into freeze, flight, or fight, as our bodies are geared to protect us from the unknown.

As our brain senses the danger of vulnerability, of possible hurt and rejection, it triggers those same urges as when faced with a bear.

We need people who will face down the bear with us.

Who when scared by vulnerability will, instead of running from the ugly bits, sit down with us and create true intimacy and connection as we reveal all of who we are.

That’s the reward, and it has to be worth it for both if you.

If not, choose you, because there is no relationship in which you can face the bear alone and ALL of you deserves to be seen and chosen.

Always,

Your Trusted Friend ❤️

The Roles We Play

Who has society told you to be, friend?

Has it whispered lies to you, forcing you to take a form that isn’t quite right, making you feel you’re supposed to play a role that isn’t meant for you?

Have you sawed off the bits of you that don’t fit, stuffed the unseemly parts away, and hid away the parts of yourself that you’ve been told are not acceptable?

Do you contort, twist, and shrivel, making yourself small, shrinking down to fit into a role that wasn’t made to fit all of you?

So often we look outside of ourselves to decide who it is we are meant to be, plucking the roles like overripe apples and gobbling them down without checking for rot and worms, assuming that since everyone else is eating – we should too.

It is only when we get sick, squirming at the ill fit of the role and the cancer of discontent and unhappiness that has grown inside of us, that we realize we had fallen prey to poison.

Some people will ignore the itch to pull of the costume they’ve donned, say that they just need to get accustomed and used to it – be content with what they have, where they’ve ended up, who they are – never waking up to the fact that the dream they’ve thought they created is actually a nightmare in disguise.

We are all, every human being on this planet, as unique as a fingerprint and as diverse as snowflakes, because of this there is no common role, costume, or off the rack disguise, that will fit each of us.

So, when we look outside of ourselves to decide who it is we are mean to be, how we’re supposed to behave, what we’re supposed to do, what the right answer is for us…

the answer we find, my friend, will always be wrong.

Nothing we pick up and try on will fit the way it should.

The only place you can look for the right answer is within.

There is no one way to be, no one way to live, no one place to find answers.

There is only YOUR way.

I tell you this as someone who tried, for a very long time, to do all the ‘right’ things and follow the prescribed path laid out before me and I happily stuffed myself into the role society dictated for me…

Graduating high school, attending church, going to college, getting engaged, waiting for marriage for sex, beginning my career, and settling into the role of wife and caretaker.

When my husband left after only three years together there was no warning.

There was no painful downfall we walked to divorce. Instead, it was a shocking exodus executed while I was out of town, one that left me broken and aghast as I’d DONE everything ‘right’.

I’d looked outside of myself and put on all the things that I thought I was supposed to, paying no heed to the fact that nothing fit quite right.

My life, many of my relationships, hobbies, my marriage, was like poorly put together IKEA furniture.

It looked good from afar and was easily affordable, but don’t move it, and definitely don’t test its fortitude under stress or duress.

It wasn’t until I went through my divorce and was forced to take a good, long, hard look at myself that I realized how ill fitting the life I had created for myself was.

You see, when I learned that my husband had left… my first reaction wasn’t heartbreak, it was a sense of failure and a wondering how I would tell and face people again.

This was such a fear of mine that the taking of my own life seemed a preferable option.

The role I’d squeezed myself into was ripped to shreds. The pieces left to decay around me. I was naked without it.

To have your reality forcibly shattered is hard.

Growth is always hard, but to have it thrust upon me felt impossible.

Being able to stretch into the roles that fit me, ones that I determined and decided was not easy, learning to to trust myself as I make these choices for myself is still an ongoing battle.

Change hurts like a motherfucker – but it’s worth it.

I was invited to create my own reality, instead of stuffing myself into some cookie cutter role that I thought I had to fill, and I picked up all the shreds of myself and I put them back together into a design of MY choosing.

Not everyone wakes up to the nightmares that they’ve forced themselves to live based on what society has dictated and told us life is…

But if you do wake up, if you’ve asked yourself why your life doesn’t seem to fit, why you feel you’ve had to shrink yourself, cutting off pieces of yourself, and – while you have done everything ‘right’ – nothing FEELS right…

Follow that call inward and find out what YOU want, who YOU want to be, how YOU want to live.

Throw the damn IKEA furniture away and build your own damn palace.

Tear the ill-fitting costume off, rip it to shreds, then pick the pieces up and make a role perfectly crafted and created by you, for you.

This, my friend, is what we are meant for.

To forge our own paths, figure out who we want to be as we exist in the world, and create our own staring role.

As long as we attempt to force ourselves within expectations we will always feel trapped… we were not meant to conform to roles.. like an animal trapped in a cage… we were meant to be free to write and create our own.

Always,
Your Trusted Friend ❤