Let’s Play

Friend, at some point in time we are taught to care what others think of us.

Do you remember your silly childhood antics? The way you would play without care or constraint?

I do.

I have fond memories of rollerskating up and down my driveway with the lyrics of Milli Vanilli’s ‘Blame it on the Rain’ blasting in the background, lip syncing to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” while making up elaborate dance moves that I still remember to this day, and singing into a broom handle along with “Proud to be an American” by Lee Greenwood.

There was also playing tag on the playground and pretending that I was 007, pretending any stick was a wand that I used to cast spells, creating a ridiculous pantomime with my best friend at the park, and getting so consumed by playing capture the flag that I invested in full camouflage and face paint.

My music tastes were somewhat suspect, but the fun wasn’t. It was pure and unadulterated.

So many of my most pleasant memories are ones sprinkled with this kind of absolute uncaring. The moments where I felt free to act and do as I pleased without the worry or sense of judgment.

At some point we start to weigh our choices and actions based upon how we will be viewed, perceived, and judged. We let the opinions of others dictate to us what we feel is an appropriate course of action… pushing our own inner voice aside.

I have allowed the opinions of others to direct my path.

There was a time when, with pride, I shared a piece of writing I had completed with a partner – hungry for his affirmation and encouragement.

He offered neither.

He was mortified by my honesty, openness, and willingness to share my experiences with others through my words. He wondered how and why I would do such a thing, as it was his belief that these things should remain private.

I felt shame and doubt and hid my words away. I let his opinions change alter my course.

Here’s the thing. I recognize that we are all living a uniquely human experience, and while our lives can differ dramatically from one person to the next, there are certain things that are universal.

These are the things I wanted to write about, to let you know – friend – that you are not alone. That I am here with you. I understand your journey, for I am walking beside you.

How is it that as we become adults we start caring so much more about the opinions of others, letting it cause doubts in who we are and what we’re capable of?

I stopped writing as a result, but this wasn’t the only fatality.

We’ve stopped jumping in mud puddles, laughing in the rain, and singing at the tops of our lungs. There are no more dance parties, scaring ourselves with ghost stories, knee-wrestling, creating cheesy music videos, or staying up with our best friends for 24-hours just to talk and share our secrets.

Friend, let’s do these things. Let’s reclaim this part of our childhood, the part that acts freely without caring who is watching.

Let’s play.

Always,

Your Trusted Friend ♥

Happiness Suckers

The futile attempt to bring happiness to those determined to be a grumpy Gus.

End result: Happiness Sucker

Friend, I want to encourage you to choose to surround yourself with people who make you feel good, because they are genuine, caring, smart, awesome, fabulous, dedicated, and inspiring people. Knowing what it is like to be around people like that, will help you to avoid wasting time with the happiness suckers.

We’ve all known the happiness suckers, and even had them occupy spaces of importance within our lives. I once dated a man for a year that I would label as the epitome of a happiness sucker. Nothing in his life seemed to make him happy. His personal mantra was, “If only I had this ______, I’d be happy.” Needless to say, he’d get that — whatever that was — but his happiness would be short lived and he’d be right back to where he started.

Additionally, there is a great danger in relying on external things to provide happiness; things such as a job promotion, a bigger house, a trip, a shopping spree, a rush of adrenaline… etc… all of these things will provide a temporary fleeting high. When this high expires, and it will, the result will lead to chasing that next ‘fix’.

Gradually I felt my own happiness affected by his habitual grumpiness; his need to chase things, status, accomplishments, accompanied by his inability to find happiness internally. He became my own personal happiness sucker.

We all struggle at times with feelings of discontent, anxiety and the like. There are moments when we are not at our best, when sadness overruns us. There is nothing wrong with letting ourselves feel negative emotions and to then navigate through them. However, it is completely different when it becomes a normalcy. When we let ourselves be sucked into and stuck in the mire of self destruction and self loathing.

There are those people that almost seem to enjoy constant complaining and misery. These are people whom I have no more energy for. I cannot make it my primary purpose in life to attempt to figure out what fancy mathematical equation of my actions will result in a smile.

Someone else’s unhappiness is not up to me. I refuse to take responsibility for that which belongs to another. Our happiness is solely our obligation and under our personal charge, friend. We choose the way that we look at the world. We cannot forcibly, or with any amount of coercion or convincing, change the way others choose to observe or experience the world around them.

I know, I’ve tried.

When you take this on, those people become your own personal happiness sucker. The more you funnel your energies into someone that is determined to be a grumpy Gus, the more you put your own wants and desires on hold in the attempt to force someone else to be happy. The more you do this, the more you find your own happiness gradually siphoned away.

This is the result of a happiness sucker.

They’re out there. You’ve been warned.

Always,

Your Trusted Friend ❤


Layaway

Friend… Recently I have found myself wondering about the idea of the layaway plan. Do they even still have layaway in stores? Layaway, in case you don’t know, is a purchasing method in which a consumer places a deposit on an item to “lay it away” for later pick-up when they come back and pay the balance. Layaway also allows the customer to make smaller payments on the product until the purchase is paid in full.

Typically this concept applies to goods in a store. However, it can also apply to our relationships and what we allow ourselves to accept.

Allow me to explain.

We can allow ourselves to be put on layaway every time we accept the smaller payments, or the crumbs, with the hope that eventually there will be some sort of pay off for our patience, love, kindness and understanding.

The deposits are made with empty promises; words and small gestures of affection. Just enough breadcrumbs to keep us on the hook as we wait for the full balance to be paid, the purchase made, and to be really included, accepted, chosen, and loved.

Friend, do not allow yourself to be placed on the back burner. To be pushed on the side, neglected, disregarded and made to feel as if you’re disposable. Okay with accepting crumbs.

I understand, in some sense it’s easy. It’s comfortable. When we find ourselves in relationships of this nature, we know exactly what to expect with this person, in this situation. We are willing to accept the small dosages of love and affection because at least we’re receiving something, hoping for more, and afraid to leave and have nothing.

Perhaps we have even made excuses for why the people in our lives treat us thus; their stress, hurt, pain, timing, schedule…

blah, blah blah.

Really, these are just excuses for why we believe we deserve this treatment – and – guess what – you don’t.

You don’t deserve to be placed on hold, accepting small deposits of attention, acceptance and love. I understand how frightening it is to recognize that that is, in fact, what you’re accepting – what it is you’re allowing.

Friend, I’ve been there.

So, as I sit here on the shelf next to you, wondering how we got here. I recognize that we are here because this is where we’ve placed ourselves. Waiting on others to make the purchase was an easier decision then putting ourselves out there and risking rejection.

It’s time to brush off and step off the shelf.

We’re no one’s layaway plan.

Always,

Your Trusted Friend ♥

Two Things

So often, friend, we find ourselves as women doing one of two things.

We elevate.

We look at the woman next to us and wish that we looked like her, or that we had the things that she does, or we desire to live the life she’s leading. We look at this woman and feel ourselves diminished in her, perceived, radiance.

We place her on a pedestal, doing a disservice to her and to ourselves. We fail to see her as she really is, a complete person that while – yes – has amazing qualities and characteristics, is also flawed. Perfectly imperfect.

By placing other women on pedestals we place the expectation onto her that she has to always be and seem perfect.

How exhausting this must be? When – in reality – she just wants you to see her for who she is. To love and choose her anyways. We miss the opportunity to really know and see the women we place on pedestals.

In addition, we also feel ourselves shrink.

When one person is on the pedestal, the other must be at her feet.

Friend, you should bow to no one.

The second thing women do?

We tear down.

We look at the woman next to us and think of all the ways in which we are better. Whether we’re taller, thinner, more educated, better employed, or better behaved. We look at this woman and feel ourselves magnified in her, perceived, deficits.

We tear her down, doing a disservice to her and to ourselves. We fail to see her as she really is, a complete person that while – yes – has inadequacies and flaws, additionally has wondrous qualities and characteristics. Imperfectly Perfect.

By diminishing other women and tearing them down, we stifle and constrict. We prevent these women from growing into who she was meant to be, and squash her under foot of our judgments.

How sad this must be for her when – in reality – she just wants you to see her for who she is. To love and choose her anyways. We miss the opportunity to really know and see the women we tear down.

In addition, we shrink ourselves with this unfair behavior.

When one person attempts to place themselves on a pedestal, they really just reveal their own inner spitefulness.

Friend, you should tear no woman down. You are no judge and jury to determine the worthiness of another.

Instead, let us support and believe in one another. Let’s look for the good, but accept the bad. Let us appreciate the fact that we are ALL multidimensional perfectly imperfect, imperfectly perfect people.

Friend, stop elevating and refuse to tear down.

Always,

Your Trusted Friend ❤

About Time

Friend, it’s easy to measure ourselves against all of the things we’re supposed to do, be, or have accomplished by a certain point in our lives.

By 18 I will graduate high school.

By 22 I will be a college graduate.

By 25 I will be in my ideal career.

By 27 I will be married.

By 30 I will have my first child.

By 32 I will be a home owner.

The problem with these arbitrary timelines, is that we risk feeling like a failure if we have not met or accomplished these goals. We risk feeling like we’re not good enough, or that there is something wrong with us if we don’t measure up to these things that we think we’re supposed to do or be.

These ages are the average for people in the U.S. If I were to measure myself against these averages, friend, I would be deemed a failure. I did not accomplish any of these things by these ages – and some I have yet to have accomplished at all.

Who says that these things are what are valuable in determining our success? Who says that these things HAVE to be accomplished by such-and-such an age?

Have goals, friend. Have aspirations and dreams and things that you are striving to accomplish and be and do, but please do not determine or decide your success by if you meet a deadline or not.

Your success should, instead, be determined by the size of your heart, by the amount of dedication and persistence that you show, by how much you’ve grown, how hard you work, and by the quality of your life experiences.

If you spend your time measuring yourself against what others have done, or are doing, you risk missing out on celebrating the very real accomplishments that you are making everyday.

The lives you change by freely giving a smile to each person you greet.

The difference you make with the words you’ve spoken and written.

The places you’ve traveled and the things you have seen and done that others have only dreamed of.

The relationships and friendships that you have formed and grown.

Instead of focusing on the timeline, on the things that you have yet to complete and accomplish, focus on all the things you’ve done, the memories that you’ve gathered, and the love that you’ve shared and received.

Friend, you have your own timeline, and that timeline is perfect. You will bloom when you’re ready, and you’ll be beautiful.

Always,

Your Trusted Friend ♥

You are Worthy

Friend, it is all too easy to struggle with our sense of self-worth. To question who we are, particularly when life hands us lemons and we find ourselves solidly immersed in personal struggles.

Any perceived failure has the ability to send us into a downward spiral of negative self-talk, the inner mean girl coming out in full force.

You can’t do that.

You’re dumb.

You’re not pretty enough.

You don’t deserve that.

No one is going to love you.

No one is going to want you.

How horrible our inner critic can be, and how awfully off base s/he is. If you allow yourself to succumb to this kind of self-talk, you will end up mired deeply in sadness.

Friend, when you find yourself at the mercy of thoughts like this, please, make every effort to replace them with the truth.

You are worthy.

You are loved.

You are beautiful.

You are strong.

You are magical.

You are unique.

Don’t let the lies you tell yourself undermine your sense of who you are. I know how easy it is to be critical, especially in times of deep sadness, but I also know that the reality of who you are is so much more than this moment you find yourself in.

Friend, you are so worthy of love, kindness, compassion, joy, and happiness. Until you remember this, I’ll remind you.

Always,

Your Trusted Friend ♥

Invisible

You give so much of yourself, friend. It’s just how you love, I know.

I also know that, while you ask for nothing in return, you long to be seen. To have the things you do recognized and appreciated. For YOU to be seen recognized, and appreciated.

Sometimes we forget to see one another. It seems that it is always those closest to us that we take for granted. You, friend, have been taken for granted. You give so easily, so readily that those around you have inadvertently created an idea that that’s just want they should expect. That, perhaps, that is what they deserve.

Friend, the things that you offer are valued treasures. You don’t have to give them. Your time, your attention, your thoughtfulness, and your love are all gifts and treasures that should be appreciated and should never be expected.

Sometimes we forget to see the people around us as multifaceted individuals. Each person having their own joys and hurts, their own celebrations and demons. It is easy to stop looking for these things, and to allow the people around us to blur, becoming the backdrop of our lives – instead of the reason we live.

I am so sorry that you’ve become someone’s blur, as you were always meant for more than just the background. You are the bright star that lights up a dark sky.

Friend, if you ever feel unseen, forgotten, unappreciated, lost… please know that I see you and – please – don’t forget to see me, too.

Always,

Your Trusted Friend ♥