Tag Archives: vulnerability

Goodbye Hutchie Boy

Goodbye Hutchie Boy

As I was wrapping up work for the day last night, I got an email letting me know that my dog, Hutch, passed away just a few hours prior. He had been out playing in the hot California sun and got overheated and never recovered even after cool water and shade and ice and everything else was tried. I sat here at my desk reading the email like I do with all of the other hundreds of reports I sift through a day about wounded and dead soldiers, and wounded and dead Taliban. It read just like another casualty at first – just another tally in the “KIA” (killed in action) box for my daily reports. But then it hit. That death was MY DOG…the closest thing I’ve experienced to my own child thus far…and he was just POOF gone forever. I’m surrounded by big, burly, scruffy soldiers, but I couldn’t help but just put my head in my hands and silently weep at my desk.














When I gathered up myself to turn my computer off and leave the office, I realized there was really nowhere to go to keep crying. My roommate is – well she’s a bitch – I’m not feeling friendly right now and I’ll just come out and say it. She has the warmth of a cold, wet, floppy fish. So I couldn’t go to my room, I didn’t want to go sit at the picnic tables where a few people were out playing cards and talking to significant others on Skype. Where to mourn alone on a relatively small base? Good question. I finally found a staircase out behind a building that was out of the way and gave me a little spot to collapse back down in tears as I started reeling through all the great Hutch memories stored up. I understand that here I’m more surrounded in the context of death than I ever have been or ever will be the rest of my life, but I also know better than to diminish my own loss with that justification. I had to let myself cry it out – just weep with the pain of losing something so cherished, so loved.




















Hutch was my great protector through these last eight and a half years. I was the first one to coax him out of the tiny crate he arrived in on a plane from another Hawaiian island; I poured hours of training into him to be the great and obedient dog he came to be; I threw a tennis ball to him what must be tens of thousands of times over the years – tennis balls were his crack – he could never get enough of them. When he was just a puppy, our other dog was attacked while we were out on a trail, and from that day on, Hutch became my personal body guard. He made sure to stay between me and anyone else approaching or talking to me. In my years alone, Hutch was always the warm body I cuddled with on the couch or next to me in bed, and the poor guy was often a willing pillow if I was on the ground watching a movie. There were days of depression where I couldn’t even get out of bed, but it was Hutch who forced me to get up and feed him and take outside on a walk. I remember having the realization one day that if I didn’t have to go to the grocery store to get Hutch more food periodically, I would probably never get out to get food for myself. He forced me to take my attention and pity off myself and care for him…which in turn helped me. Hutch was a pack dog – he wanted nothing more than to be where the crowd was – and then he was perfectly content laying down and resting or playing with kids and running around. But he never once understood that he was any different than the 5lb Yorkie he grew up with – so he was ever my 80lb lap dog who would creep into any little space he could squeeze as long as it was close to me…or close to a warm body…as if you don’t notice an 80lb dog sneaking onto your lap. As long as he could be ON a piece of furniture or cushion of some sort, he was content…even if it was curling ridiculously on top of a tiny Yorkie dog bed.

Goodbye Hutch. You’ll always be my Hutchie Boy, my goofy, playful, happy big lap dog.

Relationally Challenged

Relationally Challenged

I’m back to blogging – it feels like having coffee with a long-lost friend…who’s never really all that long-lost if they’re a true friend…you just pick up where you left off.

My biggest challenge here so far in this country (aside from the month-long sinus infection and now a staph infection diagnosed today – are you kidding me?!) has been my gender. The simple fact that I have a V and not a P has proved to be quite a troubling issue…and it’s not even because I’m in a country where women are looked down upon and expected to rarely seen and never heard. It’s being a woman here on base among the majority of male soldiers and contractors. Let’s tackle this one challenge at a time.

First is the gossip. As a woman, I stick out. There aren’t that many of us here, and as such, we’re noticed for every single move we make. For example, I had made a friend with a contractor here on base – let’s call him Jack – and asked if he’d like to grab coffee one day at the chapel (because the chapel has two Keurig machines available for a nice cup of joe at all times). We sat out on the small chapel porch out front in the sun and “talked story” (Hawaiian term for shared stories, laughed and forgot about work) for a little bit. I had such a nice time, I kept asking if he’d join me for coffee and it became a daily routine. I asked the guys in my office if they’d like to join for 10am coffee, and sometimes some would. Either way, I knew at 10am I got a mini break while refueling on some caffeine. This past week, I ate lunch with a Croatian soldier, and afterwards he was warned by some other person on this base to be careful where I was concerned because I was Jack’s. Hold up there, I’m whose?? If I play ping pong with someone, if I play pool with someone, if I go running with someone, it’s noticed and talked about in gossip form.

Second are the wives and girlfriends back home. Because their boyfriends and husbands have a female coworker (that would be me), they’re suspicious of any and all interaction I have with them. If I post a funny comment on one of their Facebook (because they all post funny comments to each other’s Facebooks), they immediately get the third degree…”Who’s this AMY chick posting stuff on your page?! What’s she like? Why is she posting to your page?” There was one dramatic instance where one of the guys was having a bit of a struggle with his girlfriend and I suggested he stop writing passive aggressive things to her and for a whole week just write nothing but nice and loving emails and see how she responded. He said he didn’t have any ideas, so I wrote him an email with suggestions on loving things he could write to her. WELL, his girlfriend hacked his email account a few days later and what did she find but my email with all my suggestions. She spent the next two days yelling at him over phone calls about confiding in the AMY GIRL, and since then (about a week ago) he no longer talks to me anymore. I can eat with these guys, work out with them, and work with them for over twelve hours each and every day, but there’s a subtle and constant reminder – I’ll never really be one of the guys here.

Third is lack of women. I really have come to value female friendship over the course of my life…it’s one of those essential elements we as women need for a healthy life. You can try to argue with me that you are happier with men as friends, but I can argue right back with you because I used to be one of those girls, and I can tell you that life is richer and deeper and brighter with strong female friendships. I have one growing friendship with a female Croatian soldier named Vlasta – we work out together and eat meals together sometimes – but she can get pretty busy with missions at times, and sometimes I only see her once a week. In my hyper-awareness of gossip about my every action here, I set out to establish more female friendships. Last night as the work day was wrapping up around 9pm or so, I noticed the only two other girls in my office were leaving to go back to their rooms. I jumped out of my seat and went out the door with them. Once outside I said, “Hey girls, I know you hang out together sometimes, but would you ever be interested in going to grab a bite to eat together or just have some girl time like once a week or so?” Simple enough, right? Here’s me like the girl on the kindergarten playground outright asking the other girls if they will be her friend. One of the girls looked straight at me and without expression said, “No, not really.” SLAM…that was the feeling my heart felt as it was squarely rejected. I forced myself to bounce back and said as lightly as I could, “Oh ok, no problem, have a good night.” I turned and walked away and felt embarrassed and hurt – like the little schoolgirl who was just told she couldn’t be in the cool club. Ouch! I thought when we’re such a minority that us gals were supposed to stick together! What the HECK (I really would like to replace that word with something much worse) was that about? Doesn’t she know I’m cool and fun and funny and loyal and all that other great stuff that comes with a female friendship?? Ok so those two are out – the awkward part is I have to work next to them still. I will continue to be on the lookout for any new women who come to this base – they won’t even know what hit them – I won’t even ask them, I’ll just make them my friend! …poor things don’t know what’s about to hit them.

This has proven to be a difficult struggle for me. I’m a relational person stuck in a strange social test of an environment – like I’m in a glass cage for everyone to observe how I will respond to a life of no relationships or companionship. I think I’m failing the test. …or maybe I’m passing…this is the normal response of a healthy woman…getting to the point where I want to cry out, “WILL SOMEONE PLEASE BE MY FRIEND?!” I can be friends with plenty of men here, it’s just I have to not care, and accept the consequence that I’ll be talked about as if I’m sneaking behind dirty connex boxes having sex with all of them. I might have quite the tarnished reputation on this base by the time I leave – all for no effort at all! Grandpa, if you’re reading this, I apologize for my lewd imagery…I blame the Navy! :)

I love that there are life lessons to be gleaned from anywhere we go in life. In the throes of war in Afghanistan, I am learning that I am more of a relational person than I realized, and that not only do I like being in friendships and relationships with other people, but I need it, I crave engaging with others. I think we all do – well, maybe not some of my geeky coworkers who just go back to their rooms and play video games every night (and I’m not talking behind their backs – they openly admit they’d rather be alone) – but I concur with the many wise sages before this time that humans NEED community and relationships and other humans. Lesson learned, Afghanistan, now what’s next?! (This should be good!)

And I took the one less travelled…

And I took the one less travelled…


The Road Less Taken
by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

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

Self-Rejection

Self-Rejection

“Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Success, popularity, and power can indeed present a great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are part of the much larger temptation to self-rejection. When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity, and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions. The real trap, however, is self-rejection. As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I find myself thinking, “Well, that proves once again that I am a nobody.” … [My dark side says,] I am no good… I deserve to be pushed aside, forgotten, rejected, and abandoned. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the “Beloved.” Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.” ~ Henri J.M. Nouwen (one of my favorite authors)

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
  • 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.

    Perfectly Imperfect

    Perfectly Imperfect

    “I Untamed the Tamed Woman inside me. I gave my power to the quiet voice of sensitivity that was buried so deep inside me. I learned to release my anger, especially the anger that I directed at myself. I gained a new kind of strength, by allowing my power to work in support of my vulnerable side. I confronted my deepest fear by learning to embrace my weakness. I learned to lose a fight. I learned how to win in the face of great difficulty. I learned to fall down and let someone else help me back up. I learned to stand up for what I believe, yet listen intently to others. I learned to hear my own whispering voice. I even learned how to show my tears in front of other women.” ~Carol Hartung

    Someone had the audacity today to tell me that I’m impatient. The nerve! My initial reaction was to defend it and reason out and prove why I wasn’t impatient. When I later vented to my cousin (more like my brother) on the phone that I was accused of being impatient, he said matter-of-factly back, “So what? So what if you’re impatient? We all have our shortcomings, maybe that’s just one of yours. Who cares?” It wasn’t until then that I stopped and realized he was right. Who cares? I sat back and gave myself the permission to be impatient. As I thought about it more, I realized someone could accuse me of practically any quirk, and my first reaction would be to defend myself of it regardless of whether it was merited or not.

    Trying so hard my whole life to be the perfect version of me has left little to no room to just be me…prickly quirks and all. I write and write about the need to accept others and forgive ourselves, yet my first reaction is to reject anything less than perfection. What sort of double standard is that?

    I agree there are shortcomings that we can strive to overcome…like people pleasing. But maybe there are some – like impatience – and I’m not fully admitting yet to that one until I ponder it patiently for a while longer – that are simply a part of us. Why do I leap to jump to avoid and deny the quirks when in my head I know it’s those traits that give us the marks of distinction as individuals? I don’t want to be a cookie-cutter prototype of a person, but my instinct still flees to the high school popular girl circle. I need a pot to hit over my own head…right now.

    My scars: my wrinkles, my messed up pinky toenail, my obsessive mindset over things I want, my bedsheet greed, my love of bad English drama, my brooding and over-analytic approach, my awful karaoke voice, my stubbornness, my (possible) impatience…it’s all a part of this unique woman that somehow in some way has turned into quite a piece of work….or is it a work in progress? I’ve overcome so many obstacles and still have my body and heart in tact and some of those “shortcomings” were what helped me survive through the tough times…ok maybe not my messed up pinky toenail…I could really do without that one. But you know what? Even that I got that from military bootcamp, and I look back on being in the military as something that helped me grow up and learn about things like work ethic, patriotism and responsibility. So I’ll take my messed up pinky toenail if that was the price…easy sacrifice.

    I suppose I’m learning how to untame the otherwise tame woman inside…giving free space and permission to just BE. The result is the softer, more real me. There is true strength in being comfortable in our own skin – weaknesses, strengths, scars, skills – all of it.

    “It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection.” ~Anonymous, The Bhagavad Gita

    Life’s Lessons

    Life’s Lessons

    “This is an important lesson to remember when you’re having a bad day, a bad month, or a shitty year. Things will change: you won’t feel this way forever. And anyway, sometimes the hardest lessons to learn are the ones your soul needs most. I believe you can’t feel real joy unless you’ve felt heartache. You can’t have a sense of victory unless you know what it means to fail. You can’t know what it’s like to feel holy until you know what it’s like to feel really fucking evil. And you can’t be birthed again until you’ve died.” ~Kelly Cutrone

    I’ve always been of the opinion that there are certain life lessons we must learn, and until we learn them, they will keep popping back up in our lives until we get it right. Then and only then can we move on to the next lesson or set of lessons. I’m not sure if this is a hierarchy of life lessons – if certain lessons need to be learned before others – or if each set is different for each person. It seems that we can learn multiple lessons at once – unless I’m just unusually trusted by the universe which I highly doubt – but these pesky little lessons absolutely will not go away until you score a high enough grade of understanding. Even when we lapse and mess up and make embarrassing mistakes that make us want to burry our heads in the sand, I sense that’s all part of the giant Life Lesson – and it’s not going backwards at all – just finding a different path forward.

    I’ve also always been of the opinion that our talents were meant for the benefit of others, while our weaknesses were meant to allow others to help us through their talents – like a puzzle – where our talents and skills is the part of the puzzle piece sticking out which fits into another puzzle piece’s (person’s) cavity or void or shortcoming…so that in the end we’re all one big puzzle together…or as the Bible says a little more eloquently, one body. But that’s another blog entirely!

    Lessons I’ve learned in the past: (pretty much in the order they were learned)

  • I have to take responsibility for my own actions, but not for others’
  • Anger is okay to feel, but it is not okay to express in a way that hurts others
  • Forgiveness is more for my own letting go than letting the other person “off the hook”
  • Forgiveness is paramount to be able to move on and live a whole life
  • Forgiveness of self is as important as forgiveness of others
  • You cannot love others until you love yourself
  • Love is an action, not a state of mind
  • Girlfriends are essential to a whole and happy life
  • Take care of the skin and body you live in…no dress rehearsals here
  • Isolation from others does nothing but prolong and increase sadness…
  • Connectedness and community are as necessary as air

    Lessons I’m learning now:

  • I’m worth it.
  • What my gut is telling me is probably right
  • We all get in our own way when it comes to finding the right answers for us…and if we can get out of our own way long enough, we may be able to answer our own deep questions
  • Timidity is not becoming
  • Vulnerability and emotion are strengths, not weaknesses

    I found the below insert from an online search, and interestingly enough, it talks about the very concept of life lessons I’ve always imagined…

    10 Rules for Being Human by Cherie Carter-Scott
    1. You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it’s yours to keep for the entire period.

    2. You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called, “life.”

    3. There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of trial, error, and experimentation. The “failed” experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiments that ultimately “work.”

    4. Lessons are repeated until they are learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can go on to the next lesson.

    5. Learning lessons does not end. There’s no part of life that doesn’t contain its lessons. If you’re alive, that means there are still lessons to be learned.

    6. “There” is no better a place than “here.” When your “there” has become a “here”, you will simply obtain another “there” that will again look better than “here.”

    7. Other people are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.

    8. What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours.

    9. Your answers lie within you. The answers to life’s questions lie within you. All you need to do is look, listen, and trust.

    10. You will forget all this.

    “I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy…I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.” ~Art Williams

    Happy learning!


  • Being Vulnerable

    Being Vulnerable

    I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. That the speaking profits me, beyond any other effect.
    ~ Audre Lorde

    Growing up, vulnerability was not a good thing. I never heard, “I am lonely,” or, “I ache,” or, “I am confused.” …though I’m pretty sure they were all felt along the way through the years at some point. Mine was that image family from American Beauty – the one that looked great on the outside. We had it all – good house, my dad was a doctor, my mom was a nurse and dietician, three beautiful (ok I was pretty awkward until 30 or so) girls who were all smart and athletic, two small, white, fluffy dogs. We went to church every week, …the all-American image. We weren’t even that messed up on the inside, but then again, how would we know because we never talked about anything other than schedules, vacations, funny stories of the day – anything that didn’t have to do with matters of the heart. In fact, if someone got mad when I was young, there wasn’t even ever any yelling. The mad person would just walk away. Confrontation was completely foreign to me. I’m pretty sure this upbringing was not intentional – it was simply the pattern of my parents’ generation, and they were doing the best they could with the arsenal of emotional tools they had. No blame, seriously no blame.

    But what resulted was a stunted ability – even a disability on my part – to let my soft underbelly show to anyone…ever. The answer to any question to my well-being was, “I’m fine.” …and then quickly change the subject. I learned quickly how to put the attention back onto the other person in order to keep them engrossed in conversation and forget to ask questions about me. Have I mentioned I’m a great conversationalist? You’ll walk away from a conversation with me feeling great and liking me more. Why? Because we talked all about you.

    So what exactly does wearing full armor all the time get you? You get to know a heck of a lot about other people, and very little about yourself. You forget to ask yourself how you’re doing, what you’re feeling, and even what you want and don’t want. Because you don’t know where you are or what you want, you don’t establish boundaries for yourself – boundaries that are so very important to have. In essence, you forget to be vulnerable with yourself, and stop knowing who you are…you are not even comfortable in your own skin.

    Vulnerability is opening up, being exposed, and letting in. It’s counter-intuitive to people like me where being closed feels safer. But look at what being closed prevents. It prevents connectedness with those around you and with the bigger world at large. You can’t participate fully in life if you’ve turned inward. You may see beauty, but you’re not letting it in. You may have friendships, but you’re always keeping them at an arm’s distance on the polite and small-talk level. You’re not letting yourself be known to the greatest person in your life – YOU.

    Vulnerability is risky. Opening up means risking heartbreak, deceit, betrayal, and pain. I’m pretty sure that risk is the reason people who have been hurt in the past can make themselves go callous and put themselves on ice. But in this case, the case of life, even the people who get hurt time and again will say the benefits of vulnerability far outweigh the risks. You can meet new and wonderful people, deepen rich friendships, be open to new opportunities and experiences, and live more fully in a world of interconnectivity. But most importantly, you can love and be loved.

    I found a list of things we can do to start on the path of vulnerability:

  • Trying new behaviors
  • Taking a risk
  • Initiating contact with strangers
  • Tuning into feelings of others and yourself
  • Willingness to get help for yourself
  • Being open to receiving help and support from others
  • Being honest with others and yourself when it would be easier to lie in order to avoid conflict
  • Accepting change when it comes your way
  • Looking for deeper reasons or motives for your own behavior
  • Self-disclosure of your weaknesses to others
  • Being direct and precise about your feelings, beliefs, and attitudes when discussing them
  • Willingness to listen to honest feedback
  • Dealing with anger in a productive, non-offensive manner
  • Letting go of fears that impede your movement toward others
  • Letting go of guilt or remorse over the past
  • Letting go of hostility, bitterness, and resentment toward others for past hurts
  • Development of trust in others’ good will
  • Willingness to be seen as weak or emotional
  • Accepting your humanness, failures, and mistakes as OK
  • Understanding the reasons you are risking vulnerability
  • Feeling secure enough to admit your failings, mistakes, and losses

    A study was conducted and found that most people fall into two categories – those who have a sense of worthiness, and those who struggle for it. The people who had self-worth had one thing in common:

    “Courage. The original definition of courage when it first came into the English language — it’s from the Latin word cor, meaning heart – was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. And so these folks had, very simply, the courage to be imperfect. They had the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others, because, as it turns out, we can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly. And they had connection, and — this was the hard part — as a result of authenticity, they were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were, which you have to absolutely do that for connection.” ~Brené Brown

    I found my quotes in this good blog about vulnerability.