Category Archives: challenges

Still Stuck

Still Stuck

Stuck here on day three at the airport base in Kabul because of motorcycle bombs right outside our base. I just heard that Camp Leatherneck in the south where Prince Harry is based (that’s for you, Mom) was infiltrated and two Marines were killed last night, and a base here in Kabul was hit early this morning. I have to say that it feels a bit like I’ve moved to a crazy inner-city in some futuristic movie where all hell has broken loose…oh wait, that IS where I am!

But inside this base, there is a sense of “normal”…once you get past the constant rotten egg smell and the crazy diversity of nationalities because it’s a NATO base. There is an internet cafe (where I’m at now), a rec-”center” with pool, ping pong, and Xbox; a gym; a bazaar selling electronics and rugs and jewlery and such; restaurants (though I’ve been warned that the “Steak House” has made many people sick and that they’re not even sure it’s actually steak); and even a “bar” with music at night. They sell the non-alcoholic beer and pump up the dancing music at night – last night was salsa night and tonight is club-music night…I’m assuming that’s like pop and stuff. Just keep in mind that all of these places are in big tents – buildings seem to be a rarity. It was cool watching the salsa dancing last night because soldiers of all nationalities were in their uniforms just dancing away with each other…instead of peace talks I think we should have peace dances…dancing makes everything better! There were Italians, French, Portugese, US, Romanian, South Korean, Canadian, and Australian soldiers there last night…all getting their sober salsa on!

My main challenge seems to be my gender…which I was sort of expecting. I definitely don’t blend in like any other male contractor walking around in civilian clothes (which is usually khaki pants and a collar shirt). And the NATO soldiers don’t hide or make subtle their acknowledgment of this difference…they rubberneck it like I have a cleaver sticking out of the side of my head. This morning I went to the cafeteria alone and it felt like a scene in a movie where I was naked and the record screeches and everyone stares as I awkwardly walk with my tray through a sea of staring, camoflaged men to find the nearest open seat. I know it’s because I’m a girl, but it doesn’t make the trip from the food line to the seat any less uncomfortable! The key: look straight ahead and know where you’re going so you can walk with a semi-appearance of confidence and purpose. What’s difficult is that I’m an uber people watcher and I love seeing all these nationalities in one place. On the inside I feel a bit like the open-jawed tourist wanting to see everyone, but I have to keep a straight face and at least look like I know what I’m doing. Hopefully someday soon I actually will!

Every time I hear about a soldier dying at the direct hands of terrorists, I know that this fight has to be fought and has to be won. Many of my friends (Hawaii, you know who you are!) don’t think we should even be here and think we should just leave and let this country implode on itself…but the emboldening and empowerment that would inevitabley be given to the terrorists here would have immeasurable impact for our own country and all the innocent lives there. No. Keeping the fight over here and treating the terrorists as enemies who we need to be overcome instead of inconveniences we need to ignore is the only answer. I am so honored to be a part of this – ok well not yet because I’m just getting paid to write blogs and go to the gym, but hopefully one of these days!

I love you family and friends!

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” ~Friedrich Nietzsche

Listen. Dream. Go.

Listen. Dream. Go.


“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” ~Steve Jobs

As I stop in the middle of this sand and heat, I think about the lessons of life – the many lessons of life that we will at some point inevitably learn, and I ponder which one was most significant in getting me here to this place I’ve dreamt about for years. I think it’s the importance of listening to and believing in myself. When I began to voice what I wanted – which was to come here to Afthanistan – I faced some confused and strongly opposing opinions. If anyone has read prior posts, they know that I’m a default people pleaser…or as I like to say now, a recovering people pleaser…so expressing an idea that is in opposition to others took some lady balls. It took a long time to voice even to myself what I wanted, and longer yet to boost up the courage to say it out loud. At first I felt silly and I would add disclaimers like, “I know it’s a stupid idea, but I think I want to go to Afghanistan.” Thank God I found the fire in my belly to keep listening to myself and take action on doing the thing I could barely speak. I couldn’t tell anyone in my life – wait, I told my sister because she could tell something was up – and felt like I was living a deceptive life when I submitted my employment application to various companies. Then when one was interested in me, I would break out in a nervous sweat in replying back that I would like to continue forward with the hiring process – like I was committing a crime or some awful act.

But I stuck with it. I think part of me was afraid that I’d buckle if I told people too early – that I would listen to unsolicited advice about what a dangerous idea it was and I wouldn’t go through with it – so I protectively stayed silent. But I listened to my heart when my words weren’t even there yet and pushed on. It didn’t feel wrong, but felt good and exciting and right when I pushed “send” on those employment emails.

I’m not promoting living a double life in order to do the things you want to in life in a careless fashion – that’s not the lesson at all. I’m putting out the voice of encouragement to trust in your own dreams and don’t shy away from them because of other people’s criticisms. Listen to yourself. Listen to your heart. And if you think you’ll buckle, then yes do what you need to do for you to dodge those fire hoses (that’s what my high school running coach used to call people that like to squelch dreams). Ultimately, everyone in my life got behind me and is supporting me now. But even if some hadn’t, I was prepared to ask them that if they didn’t agree with me, could they just love and trust me?

I regret that I held back on jumping off my cliff and doing this thing I’ve wanted to do for so many years. I tried to accept the life I was in before and become the person that I needed to be to make that life work, but ultimately I wasn’t very good at it because I was so restless and unhappy and living counter to my dreams…which would always seep in again and permeate my imagination. Now I can stand here and smile a smile from the inside out – a contented smile of happiness with myself that I did this – I took the steps to put me here. I finally listened to myself.

Struggle is Nature’s Way of Strengthening

Struggle is Nature’s Way of Strengthening

I recently started watching the series “Lost” on Netflix. I know, I’m only seven or eight years behind the power curve on this one – and it’s even worse that it was filmed on Hawaii right around the corner from where I live. In any case, if anyone has seen it, you may remember that after the plane crashes in the very beginning, one of the guys is a drug user who has to face detox. Another older man decides to help him by offering no help whatsoever. When the drug addict is crashing and at his wit’s end, he screams out to the man with anger at why he isn’t helping him more. Then the older man says, “Come here, let me show you something.” …you know what? This is better if you see it yourself.

“If there is no struggle, there is no change.” ~Frederick Douglass

I love this analogy. But I’m going to be so bold as to go ahead and label struggle as something else in life…change. The moth had to struggle in order to change. In fact, most change comes about through struggle. It goes without saying then that if we endure a struggle, we will experience change, and if we desire change, we must endure the struggle.

Many people fear struggle because it can be painful – and like I’ve written about before, ours is a species to avoid pain whatever the cost. Pain is a funny thing though. It reminds me of a competition. When I have a big race or competition coming up, I will go around with crazy butterflies in my stomach the whole day before…it’s a sort of fear or nervousness about the pain I will be in during the race. All I have to do is think about the race and the butterflies will start flitting about. But then the craziest thing happens. The second I line up at the starting line and the gun goes off, my butterflies disappear. Once the race – or the pain as it can be paralleled – begins, there is no more fear or worry about it because you’re in it and doing it.

I guess what I’m saying is that there’s no point in fearing change because the worry and fear ahead of time don’t really matter or make any difference, and when you’re in the struggle itself, you won’t be afraid anyways; you’ll be doing the thing you didn’t think you could do and you will change into your own butterfly (I still like the word butterfly better than moth even if the moth is the prettier of the two).

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” ~Reinhold Niebuhr




People Please No More!

People Please No More!

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” ~Steve Jobs

For those of you non people-pleasers out there, I’d like to introduce you to a very unfortunate lot of some pretty great people who don’t realize just how great they are…the people pleasers. You may be related to one, you may work with one, you may be married to one, but I can guarantee that you have at least one in your life. You can recognize these sorry chaps by some of their distinguishing qualities of…drum roll…people pleasing! This takes many forms, but translates to people that are friendly, outgoing, easily liked, helpful, supportive and are generous with their time and energy. They’ll usually be smiling and will be encouraging and fun to be around. They’ll also be the first to volunteer when needed, and they’ll be the ones to keep the peace in families and at work. Most of them are talented, creative, loyal, gregarious, encouraging, warm, popular, and seem to have it all “together.” You may be asking yourself how all of these traits could be in any one person, and why in the world it would be a bad thing?

People pleasers crave and can even be addicted to attention and positive feedback from other people – it’s like a drug to them – and they will do whatever it takes to get another hit. And just like drug addicts, their own inward health and mental well being are the true victims that suffer quiet atrophy from perpetual neglect. While a people-pleaser will go to the ends of the earth to help other people live more fully, they slowly lose touch of their own voice and soul.

On the outside, these people are the ones other people are drawn to – they have it all. But on the inside, they are a dark, decrepit void that is dominated by fear. They fear rejection, they fear failure, they fear loss of personal identity and self worth. They feel inferior, undeserving, and not good enough. They isolate themselves and are afraid to make decisions lest it be the wrong choice. They live in a constant fear they will let others down, and constantly feel unappreciated, taken for granted, and taken advantage of. They are exhausted and run down from always trying to be perfect and make everyone else happy…which is impossible, so they always feel like a miserable failure. Is it any wonder that they suffer from low self-esteem as they ignore their personal rights and deny any personal problems? Can you begin to see why I call these people a sorry lot? They give and give from ever-depleting inner strength until there is nothing left but a carcass of what used to be a beautiful person. You may think I’m writing over-dramatically, but in my desire to help people recognize their true worth, I have experienced and witnessed this cold way of life. Many people-pleasers end up in abusive relationships because they stay around trying to please unpleasable partners. They don’t realize they have the right to demand respect and mutual, giving love, and instead they settle for being yelled at, pushed around, belittled and hurt. And the crazy thing is, they would rather remain in that state over letting the person who hurt them down or “found out” that they are not as good as they appear to the world.

It breaks my heart to see these poor, generous souls decay toward empty bitterness. They end up with no personal identity or rights. They can’t achieve personal goals or handle leadership roles because they can’t make decisive decisions or solve problems. They are immobilized by irrational beliefs and guilt of not doing enough, not pleasing enough, not accomplishing enough. They don’t trust the sincerity of others because they themselves maintain a helpful and giving façade. They often burn out both at work and at home, and they rarely have genuinely intimate relationships because they’re so guarded and scared to reveal their own vulnerabilities…but they never even give themselves permission to be on equal footing with everyone else in their life. Oh, and did I mention they can’t relax and can rarely enjoy themselves? It’s criminal!


Now I turn my attention to you people-pleasers that might be reading this. This is a dismal life path you are choosing – and make no mistake, you choose it each and every day. You will continue to choose it until you comprehend the true, immeasurable value of the treasured soul in you that you continue to ignore, neglect and abuse. You may get some mini high off helping others, or you may not be able to stop yourself from being the one to break uncomfortable silences and inject yourself into fights to smooth tensions. But you either strengthen or weaken yourself with every word and every act, and if you continue on this people-pleasing trail you are on, you will end up bitter, empty and withered. You will hate everyone you’ve “sacrificed” for because they willingly took your time, your help, your love, and your energy over the years, and you will never understand that they didn’t do this to you – you did. Here are some hard truths for you to swallow: you don’t need to be liked by everyone, people do no like you in proportion to how much you give them, you’re allowed to upset other people, you are not responsible for other peoples’ happiness, you are allowed to make mistakes, there is strength in vulnerability, it’s who you are and not what you do that counts, and hardest to believe of all, you please people simply by BEING YOU. What’s more, IT’S OK NOT TO BE LIKED BY PEOPLE. I should also add that you don’t need to be understanding or tolerant of people who hurt you.

It is imperative that we be our own champion – we need to be in our own corner of the ring rooting and standing up for ourselves. But right now you are in someone else’s corner – be it your spouse, your boss, your friends, and absurdly enough even total strangers. I’ve spent over three decades being in that other corner, and the universe has started to teach me a thing or two about the value of loving, knowing, and standing up for myself. The wonderful news is that in your “disease to please,” you have cultivated some very great traits if they can be used from a healthy place. If you can understand that you are actually beautiful, then you can give to others from a genuine place of love and concern. If you see yourself as worthy, you won’t need to get approval and affirmation from others through your deeds – and instead you can give for the sake of giving and let it restore your reserve instead of empty it.

Stop putting yourself last and realize that you serve the world best not through your littleness, but through your living fully. Set your own boundaries and say NO MORE to being the best doormat around. Your worth does not come from your deeds or from how liked you are – it is an intrinsic quality already present in you. Cut yourself some slack and let go of this unquenchable need to be seen as perfect. Can you imagine how much energy you could save yourself? That’s energy that could be used toward actually living a full and healthy life…and maybe for once, you could relax and enjoy yourself!

“Social chameleons, though, don’t mind in the least saying one thing and doing another, if that will win them social approval. They simply live with the discrepancy between their public face and their private reality.” ~Daniel Goleman

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” ~Dr. Suess

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ~Oscar Wilde

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~Marianne Williamson

This blog is dedicated to my very beautiful friend, Miranda. I hope you can come to see how incredible you are!

Resources I used to write this blog:

  • The People Pleasing Pattern: Transforming Compliance to Autonomy
  • Is People Pleasing Preventing You from Pleasing the Right People?
  • The Perils of People Pleasing
  • The People-Pleasing Personality
  • The Disease to Please (great book!) by Harriet Braiker
  • Daring Feats

    Daring Feats

    “It’s the heart afraid of dying, that never learns to dance; It’s the dream afraid of waking, that never takes the chance; It’s the one who won’t be taken, who cannot seem to give; And the soul afraid of dying, that never learns to live.” ~Bette Midler “The Rose”

    In high school I tried a front flip on our trampoline we just got for Christmas. Because it was cold, my socks slipped on the slick surface and I dislocated my ankle. That injury not only put me out of the swim team season that year, but it also instilled in me a new fear of throwing my body around in any flippy way. I haven’t tried a front flip of any kind since that day…until today. I don’t know if it was all my research, contemplating and blogging about stepping up and taking chances or if it was just simply time for me to try again. Either way, I felt a surge of courage in me and I couldn’t pass it up. I started by trying to roll into my grandpa’s pool. Once I did that without incident, I got another boost of courage and tried jumping a little higher of the side of the pool in a flip sort of maneuver. Same thing – I felt better and wanted to try it again – but this time off the diving board. And on and on went my flipping journey – each time I tried and realized I wasn’t dead (like my fear tricked me into thinking would happen), I wanted to try it a again but a little bolder. Granted, my flips are no Olympic caliber with a crooked torque to them, but I did it! At 34 I finally did my first front flip off a diving board!

    I can’t help but wonder if my experience today isn’t a lot like the rest of life. I didn’t wake up imagining I would do a front flip into the pool, but with little steps, each a little more bold than the one before, I achieved something I didn’t think I could. We’re scared to go for the big thing – the flip off the board – but it can start small, and with each successive step we inevitably get bolder and bolder. And it’s SUCH a great feeling doing something you started out thinking you couldn’t do!

    For my gymnast sister, doing a front flip is something very simple, and she would not have the same birth of boldness unless she did something challenging to her. So don’t compare what’s a big deal to you with other people, because it’s equally as significant and emboldening. It’s your front flip, and you can be bold and do it! Don’t listen to that voice that occupies a hunk of your brain and tells you that you’re too old, or too weak, or too ANYTHING. You’re not. I’m not. We’re not.

    GO FIND YOUR FRONT FLIP AND DO IT! IT'S WAITING TO HAPPEN; YOU JUST HAVE TO OPEN YOURSELF UP TO YOUR OWN BOLDNESS!

    Hear the Women Roar

    Hear the Women Roar


    “Training of female athletes is so new that the limits of female possibility are still unknown.” ~Katherine Dunn

    In celebration of the Olympics, I would like to honor the women out there who have overcome odds and won medals through the years.


    Don’t Let Being a Woman Ever Stop You2012 Olympic Muslim Women

    For the first time, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei all entered women athletes into the 2012 Olympic Games. Each of them had to fight for the right just to train in their sport to get to London. They were used to being heckled and screamed at to get back to their house where they belonged. In countries where women are banned from driving and cannot leave the house without a male chaperone, let alone compete in the biggest sports event in the world in front of millions of people. Their families have been threatened and shunned, the clergy called them “Prostitutes of the Olympics,” but they fought on. Imagine what the cheers of the crowds celebrating their courage as they stepped into the arena in their Muslim-adapted athletic clothing sounded like to them.

    23 year old Afghanistani 100 meter sprinter, Tahmina Kohistan, commented, “I faced a lot of challenges in my training for the London Olympics. One day I was coming to the stadium and the taxi driver asked me where I was going. I said ‘I am training, I am going to London Olympics’ and he said ‘get out of the cab, I don’t want to take you there.’ Whenever I train there’s a lot of people who want to disturb me. They say ‘just leave these things, it’s not good for Afghan females to do these things.’” She then boldly declared, “I have a message for the women of Afghanistan. Come and join me. We must be ready for the next Olympics. I’m going to do my best to be in Brazil, I am going to give reason for other athletes to follow my way.”

    Although none of the women placed, they achieved a far nobler prize.


    Seeing Yourself is and Inward ActionMarla Runyan
    For a woman who cannot see, Marla Runyan certainly has vision. After macular degeneration stripped the runner of her sight at just nine years old, she became the first legally-blind athlete to compete in the Olympics when she placed eighth in the 2000 Games in the 1,500-meter event. Her Paralympic record is even more impressive: five times she left the medal circle wearing gold.

    Her doctors told her they didn’t have many expectations for her life when she lost her sight as a young girl. She not only disproved all expectations, but she did so with grace and speed, and with the determination to live as normal a life as any other Olympic female athlete.


    Your Motivation Must Come 100% From You Penny Heyns

    She is a South African swimming star, who is a double Olympic gold and Olympic bronze medalist. She is the only woman in Olympic history to win both the 100 and 200 meter breaststroke events in Atlanta 1996, bronze in Sydney 2000 and by breaking a total of 14 individual world records during her swimming career.

    The first thing her coach said to her when he decided he would coach her was, “If you’re willing to give 100%, I’ll give a 100%. But it’s all up to you. The commitment must come from you. I don’t want you to come to the pool because I’m standing there. You must come because it’s from you!”


    Defy Others’ Expectations of YouAlice Coachman

    In 1948, Alice Coachman was the only U.S. woman to win a gold medal—despite the fact that segregation prevented her from training in white-only facilities. She was also the first African-American woman to ever win a gold medal. She was so obsessed with achieving track and field success that she trained wherever and however she could, including running barefoot in fields and jumping over rags and sticks for hours each day to improve her high jump, the event in which she took the gold.

    Even after she stopped competing, she continued to break records. She benefited from endorsement deals and was the first African-American female athlete to do so. In later years, she formed the Alice Coachman Track and Field Foundation to support young athletes and provide help for Olympic veterans. When Atlanta hosted the 1996 Olympics, she was honored as one of the top 100 greatest Olympic athletes. Since the end of her career, she has been inducted into eight different halls of fame.


    You Must Be Tough in Spirit Sara Reinersten
    “The difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how you use them.” ~Anon

    American triathlete, writer and motivational speaker, and former Paralympic athlete 1992. She was the first female leg amputee to complete the Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.




    Setbacks and Difficulties Must Be OvercomeNatalie du Toit

    Natalie du Toit is a South African swimmer who lost her leg in a car accident. She is best known for the gold medals she won at the 2004 Paralympic Games as well as the Commonwealth Games. Natalie impressively became the first leg amputee ever to qualify for the Olympics.

    I say, “If I’m able to go out there and achieve a dream, then anybody can do it.”


    Age is Just a NumberDara Torres

    Gold Medal champion swimmer, Dara Torres. At the age of 41, Dara took home her 12th career Olympic medal in the 2008 Games as part of the U.S. 4X100-meter medley relay team. This is a remarkable physical achievement, especially given the fact that the average age of U.S. Olympic team members at the Beijing games was 26.8 years.

    She has set three world records and has brought home twelve Olympic medals, including four gold. Dara Torres is arguably the fastest female swimmer in America.



    “Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” ~Calvin Coolidge

    Some of these highlights were found from the article 5 Famous Female Athletes Reveal Attitudes Needed for Dream Achievement.

    Moms Are People Too

    Moms Are People Too


    “My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.” ~Mark Twain

    I just flew into Vegas to meet my mom and have some bonding time. She completely idolizes Celine Dion, so we’re going to see her tonight in concert. I’m hoping to have good, open and honest time with her this week, but I also need to head into this time with my mom with realistic expectations. She is all over the map when it comes to social plans and doing things – no possible plan can capture all the mass amounts of stuff you end up doing when she’s around. So my vision of some nice mother-daughter bonding probably isn’t the reality I’m going to go home with, but I’ve decided to be grateful for and appreciative of whatever gifts of bonding do arise.

    My mom is extroverted and gets her energy from being around people – the more people the better for her. For me, it’s always been the opposite. I have to sneak away from a chaotic party to a quiet bathroom just to regain myself and take a breather. She’s loud, I’m not. She talks a ton, I don’t. I like coffee shop bonding, she feels like she should be multitasking and doing other things besides just talking while drinking coffee. But I love her and enjoy spending time with her, so long as I don’t go in with a certain picture of how I want our time together to be.

    I have not been an easy daughter because I’ve always demanded perfection from her…and believe it or not, she has always come up short. The nerve! I suspect this is true of many people with their parents and loved ones. I certainly haven’t made it easy on her over the years, and I just hope that weeks like this one can help to repair some of that damage.

    The thing is, she will surprise me with little intimate mother-daughter moments if I let go and don’t try to force them out of her. She will reveal her vulnerabilities and her soft side if I don’t put on aires and complain about how she’s never real with me. The harder I try to make her the mom I think I need, the more disappointed I become, and the bitchier I get.

    My mom is who she is. It’s taken 35 years to come to that understanding. She has been a good mom and has taught me many valuable lessons that have helped make me who I am today. I accept her humanity – which is a very difficult things for girls to accept about their moms – and I know she can’t be a superhero to me. She’s just herself – her social, fun loving self. When I let go of my expectations, I allow myself to see the woman she actually is, and I can enjoy her company and bond even more.

    Uh oh, she just called me and asked if I could pick up wine before I meet her at the hotel. Her timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Yes, Mom, I’ll get your wine. Here’s to all the daughters and moms out there – cut your mom some slack, go get her some wine, and see her for the gift that she is…not for all the things she isn’t.

    It’s Not ALL About YOU

    It’s Not ALL About YOU

    “When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.” -Miguel Ruiz

    I love having no clue what I’m going to write about next because all I can do is wait patiently for the universe to teach me my next lesson – whatever it may be. Today’s lesson came in the form of a phone call from a friend. I was explaining that I was sick of doing things I thought other people wanted me to do instead of what I wanted to do. She suddenly interrupted and said, “I never asked you to do things you didn’t want to do.” It stopped my in my tracks and I shook my head smiling and gently chided, “This isn’t about you, it’s about me.” We both laughed and moved on in conversation, but as I thought about the conversation dynamic, I realized how often we take what other people are saying and make it our own whether it was meant for us or not.

    It’s not all about you. I read a funny definition of paranoia online: It’s when you’re sitting in the bleachers at a football game, watching the players in a huddle, convinced they’re talking about you.

    There’s a certain freedom to understanding that when other people snap, cut you off, don’t respond, or even say something unusually rude, it’s usually not about you. I have to caveat it with usually because I’m sure there’s the rare sometimes. We tend to give ourselves more social credit than is due to us. For example, I used to be physically unable to say no to a social invitation because I didn’t want to appear rude. Sounds ridiculous, right? It wasn’t until I finally understood that the happiness level at the party was not dependent upon my presence and my uniquely gifted charisma. I had imposed too much self-importance to the point of unneeded stress.

    This happens every single day – whether in big-boom or little pebble sort of ways. There is a conscious choice we make to either take it personally and let our day be a little gloomier while our shoulders sag just a little more, or we can understand that the rude behavior was not aimed at us and let it roll off our back. An unanswered text, a brush-off from a boss, a sudden exit from a phone call, being cut off in traffic with an accompanied “bird,” an acquaintance in public that doesn’t recognize you. Don’t you dare say to yourself, “What did I do wrong?”…because the answer is nothing. That person is not responding to you or anything you’ve done. The goal is to get to a point that when we come across someone who’s a real crab, and we can say, “Wow, they’re having a tough day,” and leave it at that.

    I think this lesson is especially hard for me because I’m a recovering people pleaser, so any amount of dissatisfaction from other people is a big no-no in my book…also I’ve been around a lot of yelling and anger that feels both deeply personal and hurtful. To lift myself above my initial hyper-sensitive reaction, I have to understand that the anger is coming from a deep place that was likely already there before I was, and that it is not being aimed at me. Note: I’m going to make a second caveat here and say that if you’re in the middle of a relationship that is either verbally or physically abusive, even though his anger is not about you, you still need to get the hell outta there and go surround yourself with some serious TLC…because his anger will eventually eat away at you until it becomes your anger too.

    I realize I’m writing this on the brink of the unleashing of the next generation who is our most self-righteous and entitled generation yet, so this message can extend beyond the “don’t take it personally” to the “no really, the world does not actually revolve around you.”

    Hooray for Confusion!

    Hooray for Confusion!

    “When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” ~Harriet Beecher Stowe

    First, stop and take an opportunity to breathe in life, and exhale out all the worries and stress that found their way into your week. Look around you and see color (unless you’re color blind). Listen to the sounds. Feel your heart beating. You get to be a part of life today! You are a real character in this real deal, no shit miraculous life! But then as soon as your focus comes back to you, something happens. The stresses, the worry, and the self-imposed weight of the world comes barreling back to resettle itself squarely on your shoulders, and you’re left feeling confused. If life is so great, and I’m meant to be this wonderful moving piece of it, then why am I sitting here feeling like a broken cog from a rusty wheel?

    Some good news is that confusion usually immediately precedes a new realization…so this feeling little and confused place that you’re in is a good and even natural part of life…and it’s about to get better. It’s one of those natural life-laws that we all follow: that clarity is ALWAYS preceded by confusion. In fact, our minds NEED confusion in order to have personal breakthroughs.

    Here is what apparently goes on…our minds are seeking a solution that doesn’t exist given our current internal brain connections (memories), so our unconscious mind takes all of our existing information and creates a new connection (a new memory) and it unfolds as a sudden burst of brilliance. Because it’s not in our basic survival makeup to just give up and die, we ask questions – lots of questions – and seek solutions when we’re at a point of confusion or a cross-roads in life and don’t know where to go next. After all the obvious questions and answers have been exhausted, you elevate yourself to a new point of creativity where your answer or realization will present itself. Your brain connects the unrelated and random information into a whole new solution. It’s either that or have a nervous breakdown. I’ll choose the former, please!

    It’s like being told to write down fifty ideas for a date. The first twenty or so will be the obvious “go to dinner,” “see a movie,” “go for a walk on the beach,” and that sort of thing. But by the time you force yourself to fifty, you’ll have bizarre things like “go on a roller coaster,” and “make up a scavenger hunt” that you would never have thought of initially. Confusion is that same exercise – forcing us to dwell on our dilemmas long enough to the point of enlightenment.

    So what? What good does that do you in your down and out state? Remind yourself that asking questions without answers and searching for helpful information is a good thing. Don’t give up on yourself because your intense desire to find a way will actually find your way. Don’t shy away from confusion – heck, confusing yourself more will actually help you to come to a purposeful inspiration.

    “Confusion heard his voice, and wild uproar Stood ruled, stood vast infinitude confined; Till at his second bidding darkness fled, Light shone, and order from disorder sprung.” ~John Milton

    Be Adventurous

    Be Adventurous

    “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go out and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ~Howard Thurman

    Is this a question you’ve asked yourself lately?: “If life is meant to be an adventure, then where did I go wrong? And what the heck is adventurous about sitting here reading a blog?”

    I saw a quirky movie on Netflix recently. The movie, “The Answer Man,” was cute, but one line from it really made me think. I transcribed the woman’s comment, and the man’s response…which is the part that struck me.

    Elizabeth: “What do you want to hear? You wanna hear that I’m so freaked out that I’m not doing all I can…that I’m so freaked out all the time? That I’m afraid I’m not doing enough and that fear is turning me into something I don’t want to be, and I can’t stop it? You have no idea what it’s like to be pulled all the time by this idea that I am not doing enough, that I am not enough!”

    Arlen: “He knows. And He wants you to know that you ARE enough, and so much more! You are here so God can experience the world through your eyes…to see what you see, to feel what you feel. Every day, He can’t wait to see what you’ll do…what makes you laugh, what moves you…He can’t wait! Every day through you, He falls in love with the world all over again. You are His muse!”


    What a beautiful notion…and what’s more, it inspired me to get off my bum watching Netflix and go out to participate in the sunny day just outside the window. I wanted to be God’s muse and have Him see what I saw, and I didn’t want it to be a computer screen, so I went down to the beach. I swam for an hour until I was blissfully exhausted in nature’s beautiful playground. As I began to make my way back toward the beach, I watched all the kids running around playing in the sand. I felt like in my swim I had just let myself be one of them – playing, being adventurous, and loving the day and the moment.

    I’m normally not the kind to read self-help how-to types of articles, because they all end up as basic lists like “try something new,” and “say hello to the next person you pass by.” But this article, non-adventurously titled “How to Be Adventurous,” was actually quite good. The author, Brad Bollenbach, writes that “if your life is anything less than interesting and inspiring to other people, you’re doing something wrong.”

    He asserts that there is no best time but this time to start living the adventurous life, and that the only thing stopping most people from taking action is not less-than-ideal circumstances, but instead our own heads. “While many people will say that some of these things [dreams] are out of their reach, the truth is that you’re only ever either taking action to achieve a specific goal, or making excuses for why you aren’t.”

    This doesn’t have to be closing up shop and moving to Hong Kong tomorrow (though that utterly appeals). It can be as simple as going outside, looking up at the clouds and breathing in a breath of gratitude. Participate in Life, don’t isolate and shy away from it. Go out and be a part of today – partake in the adventure that’s already happening. Be the hero or heroine in your own life, and let God (or whatever higher, intelligent being you believe in) see the world’s beauty and adventures through your eyes. Make today count!