There is so much power in establishing and maintaining boundaries.
As a caretaker and someone who strives to see other’s perspectives I have allowed my boundaries to be crossed, erased, adjusted, and manipulated.
Being a nice, compassionate person it often felt difficult to maintain my boundaries.
It’s simple, really.
I want to give the benefit of the doubt, see the good in people and, honestly, I want to give the second chance.
You see, if you cross one of my boundaries, I can often understand why you behaved the way that you did.
I get what external factors affected your inability to respect my boundaries… and so, I’ve made exceptions.
Hence, I’ve permitted my boundaries to be crossed, erased, adjusted, and manipulated.
I’ve given a pass to the jackass.
However, this didn’t honor me.
Perhaps for some boundaries are so hard to maintain, because it can be difficult to say no.
We don’t want to disappoint, let down, or anger.
We also want to believe that others have our best interests in mind.
However, this isn’t always the case and it should be our first priority to set and maintain our boundaries.
Good boundaries show others how to treat us.
They give those around us, essentially, the owner’s manual for how to treat us in all circumstances.
How do you interact in an argument? What’s permissible treatment?
This is a boundary that you have to draw and establish.
Are you a person that when angry or frustrated needs others to step away from you, give you space to collect your emotions and thoughts?
Or do you need to talk it out, reach a point of conciliation, hug it out?
What happens if you are interacting with someone with a different way of reconciliation?
Talk about it.
Create your rules and boundaries for engagement.
If you’re single, how do you date, and what are you looking for in a partner?
Are you stuck in dating drudgery looking for a long term committed relationship?
Or are you looking to meet and connect with multiple people, still exploring what it is you really want?
Again, what happens when two people meet who have opposing views on what they are looking for?
Talk about it.
Create your rules and boundaries so you only give space to what is right for you.
How much space do you need to devote to yourself to remain healthy and happy?
Is it important for you to have space in your schedule for ‘me’ time?
Or are you someone who needs constant stimulation and interaction from others.
What do you do when two people have different expectations of time commitments?
Talk about it.
Protect the time and space requirements you have for yourself, while also honoring those around you that you care about.
The more you speak your boundaries and requirements out loud, the more space you create for those around you to treat you as you need – and deserve – to be treated.
The better you do this, the more you are able to find and create the nurturing relationships that serve you.
Being nice to others is important, but it should never be to the detriment of yourself.
You can see and understand why others have an inability to respect your boundaries, but you can also respect yourself, and you are allowed to walk away from those people who have an inability to respect your boundaries –
EVEN if you understand their why.
You, my friend, are allowed to take up space.
You can show people your owner’s manual.
The right people will be thankful for the directions.
You’re Trusted Friend ❤
From very young we all have the desire to be seen and chosen, to be accepted and loved.
Initially we may not have had as many fears regarding our likability; as I remember being boldly able to go up to another child my age on the playground asking, “Wanna be my friend and play?”
I didn’t wait for someone to approach or choose me, I went fearlessly forward. I wanted a friend, someone to play with, to talk to, and to share my secrets with. I never anticipated at that age that I could possibly receive a no.
The first time I really remember having the fear of NOT being chosen, liked, or accepted was when team captains were selected for dodge ball in PE. Each subsequent selection where we waited, anxiously, to see if our name would or would not be called.
This desire to be chosen doesn’t dim as we get older, yet it does get exceedingly more difficult to make ourselves vulnerable and to ask for this need to be met, as we have experienced the pain of rejection.
We’ve asked and someone has said no.
We’ve shown up and someone has not liked what they’ve seen.
We’ve opened up and watched someone grimace at what we’ve revealed.
We’ve shared a desire and been laughed at or mocked.
Yet, we still want that same thing. We still want to be chosen.
To have someone who loves us as we are, has seen the flaws and weaknesses, and wants us because these nuances are part of what make us beautiful and wonderful and delightful.
To truly have someone see all the parts that make us uniquely us. To take the time to peal back the layers and say yes.
Yes, I see you, all of you, I see the parts you try to hide away in dark corners, the supposed flaws and idiosyncrasies.
I see the way you get grumpy when you’re tired or hungry, and that it’s a lethal combination when both of these things occur at once.
I see how you take on too much, having a hard time saying no, because you feel that you need to do it all.
I see how your deep desire to be liked drives you to ensure that you earn the respect and appreciation from those that surround you.
I see these things, and more, and I choose you.
To have someone who we can relax with.
Let our bellies hang out with.
Pick our noses with.
Snort laugh with.
A safe place to belong, home in a person.
So often, though, we fear the closeness that would result in this kind of love and acceptance.
Holding back our hearts because we are frightened of being too vulnerable, of risking damage to that precious part of us.
As delightful as this image is, this unfaltering support of another, it is even more essential that we offer this kind of grace, acceptance, and love for ourselves.
To not fear viewing and taking stock of who we are, and finding that person acceptable and pleasing.
For once we choose ourselves, we can then more freely give the genuine version of ourselves to others in order to truly have the opportunity to be embraced.
Though, friend, be warned not everyone will like what they see, and that’s okay.
When the genuine version of you is chosen it will mean so much more, for there was nothing you had to hide and no pretending that took place.
For now, though, know that I choose you.
Your Trusted Friend ❤
So often, friend, we are our own biggest enemy.
We hold ourselves hostage in so many areas of our lives.
Locking ourselves away in mental prisons.
Prisons erected within our own minds, carefully built stone by stone from the wreckage of failures of our past, the heavy stones of overwhelming anxiety that comes from things we cannot change, and mortar of debilitation caused by the unknown.
The past can have a powerful hold.
Poor choices, disappointments, failures. These things can take root in our mind and spread like a disease causing suffocating paralysis.
We become stuck. Rooted in the whirlwind of self hatred and doubt that often accompanies the disabling disappointment of realizing we are not who we said we were.
We are not who we thought we were.
As long as you allow the past to have hold on you, you will be a prisoner of that past.
Held hostage in our own thoughts.
Terrorized by our own self hatred.
I know what this feels like, as I’ve drank this cool aid, punishing myself and trapped by a past that I refused to let go.
Beating myself up over decisions made that I felt I should have known better than.
We can also be held hostage by things we cannot change.
Perhaps we come from a background and history of poverty, and we let this dictate to us what we can do and be. Thinking that because this is where we came from, this is what we are meant for.
Or, maybe there has been abuse, sexual assault, or victimization in some fashion. This, again, is not something we can change and these are the types of experiences that will always be with us.
We can be held prisoner, enveloped in despair and hopelessness, shrouded in despair.
Crippled by people, events, and situations that we are powerless to change, unable to undo, rectify, or ‘fix’.
Situations that just, for lack of a better word, are.
So maybe we go round and round in our heads, thinking all of the what-ifs.
Dismantling and reassembling what could have been.
This I also know.
I know what it feels like to blame myself for a circumstance that I was powerless within, and to let that guilt worm its way into my thoughts, ruminating on a situation that was not within my power to change.
Unknown situations can also be debilitating.
For this reason, many of us refuse to change. Trapped in our current situations merely because they are known and familiar.
Comfortable only because of familiarity.
Our mind becoming a battlefield of pondering and imagining as we try to envision the outcome, the next step, the finish line.
Refusing to act because of sheer uncertainty and our inability to measure and calculate the final result.
What will happen if I am vulnerable and reveal my heart to someone?
How will my boss react if I ask for a raise, a promotion, a new assignment?
What if I strike out on my own in a business venture?
How will people respond if I share my words? My voice? My thoughts?
Round and round we go, questioning and anticipating the what-ifs, yet stuck in inaction because we’re too afraid of rejection, disappointment, failure, and the unknown outcome.
Mired to our chests, deep in the known.
Trapped and stuck.
This place I know well, friend.
So often have I bit my tongue, held back my voice, restricted my heart, and limited vulnerability for fear of the unknown quotient.
My inability to know, for sure, how I would be received or understood.
Release it all, friend.
Learn the lessons the past offers you, and move forward.
Step into the power that only failure can give you.
Accept that there will always be situations that you are powerless to change.
Step into the knowledge that comes from the places you have been, the things you have seen, the people you have known.
Open yourself to what the unknown can give to you, and the surprises waiting there.
Step into vulnerability and take risks that can’t be calculated or measured.
Release yourself from the prison you’ve erected.
Your Trusted Friend ❤
How beautiful living an intentional life can be, friend, and this seems an opportune time to think about the intentions we set and hold to in our lives as we approach the ending of one year, and the start of another.
Our lives are full of endings and beginnings, aren’t they?
Both being points in which we can pause to reflect and to set goals and intentions.
There is a difference, I think, between living intentionally versus being goal oriented.
Goal oriented sets you on one path, to accomplish, to reach, to grasp one thing.
A promotion at work, a set amount in your savings account, a number of miles to run by weeks end.
These things, in and of themselves, are not bad. Goals are wonderful things to set, to aim and strive for, and – even better – to accomplish.
What is dangerous is the worth and importance that we can often place on these accomplishments.
Even worse, the failure we can feel when these things don’t come to fruition.
Intentions, instead, provide you forward momentum while also allowing the flexibility and acceptance of other things to come that are unplanned or unexpected.
Those wondrous surprises that you could not, or would not, have planned for yourself.
Living with intention gives your life guiding principles in HOW you want to live in each moment, and HOW you plan to exist within the world and the life you occupy in the present.
There have been many times in life that I have failed to reach a goal that I’ve set for myself, additionally, there have been times I’ve felt a failure as a result of this.
It has only been later, as other things in my life fell into place, that I was able to recognize the benefit of some goals I’d set not working as I’d planned… because, friend, there was something else intended for me.
I’d have suffered much less disappoint if, instead of focusing on the end result, I’d enabled myself to enjoy the journey and take note of the experiences along the way.
Living in the enjoyment of each step taken, versus only the realization of the end of a journey, to me is the epitome of goal setting and intentionally living functioning in tandem.
So, while we strive to go on more adventures, save money, lose weight, be better parents, better spouses, more confident, get a raise, receive a promotion, write a book… whatever that external goal is… let’s also commit to showing up and being present.
Let’s be intentional in all the moments, being sure to focus on who we are and how we’re showing up, from the starting point to the finish line.
And, if we veer off coarse, and miss the mark we’re striving for, let’s be sure that we showed up in a way that we can still allow and permit ourselves to celebrate.
Ultimately, friend, what matters is that each of us can look in the mirror and like who we are. This doesn’t occur because of all the external things we accomplish.
The check marks we cross off, the mile stones we reach, or the finish lines we cross.
These things can provide points of pride, but don’t give self worth. Self worth is cultivated from within.
It’s who we are throughout the journey, and the person we’ll find at the end.
So, set the intention for who you want to be, how you want to show up, as you also determine what goals you want to crush.
But if you don’t, know that you are never a failure if you can look at yourself and be proud of the person you were along the way and all the places you visited both within and outside of yourself.
Your Trusted Friend ❤
Friend, have you ever sat and wondered why something didn’t work, slipped from your grip, and got away?
Perhaps a lover who left before you were ready to let go,
or a job prospect that seemed an ideal fit, but went to another candidate?
There could be numerous things that you question the why of, the ‘what if’.
Why didn’t he love me?
Why didn’t they choose me?
Why didn’t that work out?
I am a firm believe that, ultimately, if it’s right – it happens.
Nothing meant for you will get away.
Yet, we try to force a lot of situations that just are not ours to keep.
At least, I’m guilty of this.
In these situations I remind myself that what is mine will come, sometimes I just need to wait … even if the waiting is hard.
In the process what is necessary is to learn from the people, things, and experiences that come and go – for in everything there is a lesson to be learned.
Tyler Perry as Madea voices this idea perfectly when he says that, “Some people come into your life for a lifetime, and some come for a season. You got to know which is which. And you’re gonna always mess up when you mix them seasonal people up with lifetime expectations … that was a person who was supposed to come and teach [you] one thing.”
This idea that there is something that slipped through your fingers is hopeful fantasy, and negates what you have within your grasp right now –
or places doubt on your future potential and what is already on its way to you.
Dwelling on what could have been has the danger of holding you back from accepting what is unfolding in your life right now because, as Jen Kim says in her article Is the ‘One that Got Away’ Real?;
“They are a lovely curse, forever trapped by our nostalgia.”
How true is that, friend, that allowing ourselves to be stuck on what was is a curse that is often viewed through rose colored glasses?
The truth is, for whatever reason; timing, distance, experience, where you are in your life … some things just don’t work, and that is okay.
Most thing that come into our lives are just visiting for a season, and in that season we are meant to experience or learn something,
or perhaps we are meant to be in a holding pattern for just a little while longer until we are ready for what is meant for us.
This does not mean that these interludes do not having meaning, for they do, and that meaning is in the lesson, the preparation that is happening until, finally, everything clicks and we find ourselves exactly where we were meant to be
and we understand why that lover left, that the job didn’t pan out, and on and on…
because when it’s right, and you’ll know it when it is, it happens.
So, until then, as Madea says, “Let. Them. Go.”
The Lover. The Job. The What if.
What is meant to stay, will stay.
Your Trusted Friend ❤
Friend, there are those people who are always looking out for others – taking care of the needs, wants, and desires of those around them.
These are the people that when you make it to the gas station on fumes and empty pockets, meet you there, no questions asked, and fill your tank.
They see you struggling through a difficult day and write you a personalized note to encourage and remind you of how wonderful they believe you to be.
When you are sick and in bed these are the ones who show up in a flu mask and freshly sanitized hands to drop off soup, orange juice, and medicine.
These are the people that we rely and count on and, often, take for granted until they are not there.
We don’t pay attention or notice these – seemingly – unimportant niceties…
the clean folded laundry, food in the fridge, bills paid, cars cleaned, and gas in our gas tanks…
until we have to do them all on our own, until the caretaker and giver in our life is tired, overwhelmed, and done.
This is something I speak about from experience. I have been this person. The person that gives until I have nothing left to give. The person that focuses on taking care of those around me.
Often I have done this out of a sense of responsibility. If I don’t do it, then who will?
I have also done this out of deep sense of need. I have needed someone to do and be this for me and, instead of asking, I’ve had the false belief that the only way to receive was to give.
And so I’ve given. I’ve given everything until I’ve had nothing.
So many of us see our responsibility to be both a giver and a caretaker to and for those around us.
We take on the extra burdens at both work and at home, often putting our own needs and wants last.
People like us are caretakers and givers because of the level of empathy we are able to have for others, because we are typically easy going and relaxed, and – often – we really enjoy giving to those around us.
Put simple, we care. We care A LOT.
I don’t know about you, but this aspect about me has attracted and been drawn to all the wrong people. I’ve been drawn to those, and those have been drawn to me, who NEED help yet have very little capacity to give in return.
Because of this part of me, I’ve put up with a lot in my interpersonal relationships and it has left me exhausted… annnnd guilty.
I’ve felt guilty when I’ve reached the point I can’t give anymore. I’ve felt guilty when I’ve needed something in return. I’ve felt guilty when I’ve had to say no.
I’ve felt guilty because all of these made me think and feel that I was selfish.
Friend, if you have found yourself in this situation at all. I see you, and I understand you.
Just like most things in life, sometimes the best parts of us can also be the worst.
My ability and willingness to give allows me to connect, appreciate, understand, and help those around me.
It has also resulted in me being taken for granted, taken advantage of, and left depleted.
The solution for me, my friend, has been to surround myself with good, quality people. People who care as much as I do.
Additionally, I’ve learned to say no when I need to and, instead, focus on myself in order to not give until I’m at the point of breakdown.
Finally, I’ve come to understand the importance of boundaries and speaking up for my own needs and wants – something initially very difficult for me to do.
A big heart is one of the most beautiful and wonderful things in the world – but there is no need to place ourselves last, to feel guilty when we can’t give, or to avoid saying no.
Caretakers need caretaking as well.
Givers can also receive.
Reciprocity in life is an okay expectation to have.
Your Trusted Friend ❤
We choose how we want others to treat us, we decide what is acceptable and permissible.
Sure, other people can be top notch a-holes, but we get to determine the space, time and energy that we devote to these people.
The ultimate decision of what we permit into our lives, or not, is utterly dependent upon us, friend.
Years ago I started dating this man with a big, outgoing, gregarious personality. He was smart, well traveled, educated, and – seemingly – unafraid to be himself.
I loved being around him because of these qualities. They drew people to him like a moth, and I was captured.
Until one night he became upset with me for tickling him, and then proceeded to pour his drink over my head.
Sitting there in shock, my wet hair dripping into my lap, I had no idea what to do as I listened to him tell me that this was my fault. He had asked to me stop – but I had persitted.
I deserved to have his drink poured over my head.
Listening to his words I felt the wrongness of them. I stood up, went into the next room to grab my things, and when I returned I saw him with his head in his hands and in that moment I made a choice.
I made a choice in how this man was allowed to treat me.
There is no question in my mind now, in retrospect, that I did not deserve this treatment. No one should ever treat another human being in the manner he treated me. This was the first action of many subsequent others.
I should have left, but I stayed, and by doing so I told this man that what he did to me was okay.
There is no way that I could have predicted this man’s behavior, or in any way controlled it, but it was absolutely up to me if I chose to participate.
Unfortunately I participated in this particular relationship for far too long, and – sadly – it took many other similar situations and relationships until I was able to recognize my own role in this repetitive pattern.
For me, friend, what I recognized about myself was that, on an unconscious level, this was the kind of of treatment I felt that I was worthy of.
I would watch women around me who had no qualms with voicing their desires and wants, and would unapologetically take a stand. Women who, when unacceptable behavior occurred, had such a strong sense of self worth, that they would not allow unjust behavior.
These were women that I looked at with admiration.
Until I recognized that there was only one thing preventing me from being like the women I admired; my choices.
My sense of unworthiness had caused me to settle for much less than I deserved, needed, or wanted.
I received that which I tolerated, and eventually I learned my own responsibility in this cycle.
We, friend, have a responsibility to teach people what is and is not acceptable. We have a responsibility to take care of ourselves first. It is okay for us to have wants and needs, and to express these things out loud.
It all comes down to what we believe we are worthy of, and what we choose to allow or to permit.
Let’s choose better, friend. Let’s resolve to make choices that will be for our own greater good, and resolve to not sacrifice our own well being out of fear or from a sense of unworthiness.
We are so worthy.
So, turn your damn asshole radar on, and act accordingly when it goes off.
Always, Your Trusted Friend ❤
So often I’ve coded love inaccurately, friend.
I recognize, after long gazes in the mirror of self reflection, that I’ve wrongly thought love was about being needed.
The broken, the desperate, the lost, the addicted, the abusive…
Bring ’em on, and I’ll ‘love’ the hell out of ’em.
I’ll write your resume when you’re unemployed, plan dinners with your estranged family, buy the necessities for your kids, cook your meals, stock your cupboards and feel…
Look how much you need me, it must be love, right?
Only, it’s not.
I’d distract myself with this feeling of being needed, thinking that it meant that I was valued, that I mattered. That my existence in the space of this individual’s life was something spectacular and magical.
Only, it wasn’t.
Caring for another person’s needs provided me with a vicarious feeling of satisfaction and a temporary sense of self-worth.
Having someone ‘need’ me, made me feel safe.
So often this idea resulted in me attempting to be good, perfect, infallible in order to receive love and attention.
I have never let someone see all of me. My needs, my wants, my insecurities and desires. My fear was, that if I did, I’d be perceived as needy, or as too much.
Constantly wondering if I was good enough,
Additionally, I’d give until it hurt. I’d give until there was nothing left.
Seldom receiving anything in return.
Yet, recognizing if I did, I don’t know if I could have received it
Or if I would have felt worthy or deserving of the kind of love I so often give to others.
So, what does love really look like?
To me today, it means honesty, a safe space. Someone to whom I can share my secrets, my fears, my hopes. Someone who I know will keep these things safe, and for whom I will do the same.
Open and reciprocal affection. A touch. A glance. Connection. A brush of hands as we pass in close proximity. Knees that touch under a table. Lips that meet not out of routine or obligation, but out of true fondness and desire.
Shared interests and passions, particularly in personal growth and wellness, but also just a genuine desire to do and experience new things together.
Mutual respect and admiration. The ability to see one another in our different environments and appreciate one another’s hard work, skills, achievements, and abilities. Respect and admiration that grows from knowledge and familiarity.
Openness. So much openness, especially in conversation. Talking about the hard stuff. The stuff that makes us uncomfortable and wiggly, but results in feelings of being entwined, understood, and deeply known afterwards.
Love is about what is shared and experienced between two people…
Never about being needed,
and never about giving just to receive, nor of giving so much of ourselves away that we hurt.
Love happens between two emotionally available, whole, healthy, strong people.
So this is who I will be, and first fall in love with myself.
In order to ensure that I never fall into the pattern of trying to earn love and acceptance through what I give, or how much I feel that I am needed.
Your Trusted Friend ❤
It is so easy to get lost in comfort.
To let the ease of a person, situation, or place lure us into a false sense of security and distract us from what it is we really want, where it is we are really going.
You, friend, are worthy of your dreams, of the things you imagine and desire for yourself.
So often we allow ourselves to settle.
Be that into a relationship that, while okay, doesn’t feel quite right. A job that pays our bills, but isn’t personally satisfying. A house that is comfortable, but lacks a sense of home.
A place where we’ve been so long as to have placed roots, but isn’t where we we envisioned ourselves blooming…
before we got comfortable..
the comfortable that feels known, but that fits like a piece of clothing we’ve slightly outgrown. The comfortable that is a trap, instead of setting us free.
Don’t let the sense of alright, okay, mediocre, getting by living,
distract you from amazing, wonderful, splendiferous, intentional living.
Friend, don’t clip your own wings when you were meant to fly, which is precisely what you do when you settle.
When you allow yourself to get stuck in what is known, when you permit yourself to become stagnant. When you settle for what is in front of you, instead of pushing yourself to forge ahead and grasp for more.
Sometimes you will need to wait. So, wait when you need to wait, instead of settling for what is readily available and accessible.
Be decisive when required. Make decisions instead of living in limbo due to fear.
And sometimes you will need to say no.
You will need to say no to relationships which are not meant for you, even if they feel safe and comfortable.
You will need to say no to things that drain instead of recharging.
You will need to say no to protect your own space and time.
Also, you will need to be aware of situations which invite stagnation, so that you can constantly ensure perpetual growth.
Don’t settle, friend, don’t settle for mediocre mundane scraps.
You were meant for so much more.
Your Trusted Friend ❤