Friday, July 18, 2014

Live Outside of the Box

So many times we are guided down a path that we didn't necessarily choose, only to find ourselves lost in our journey. It's not age the brings wisdom, rather understanding. We must let the children choose their authentic path. They know the way. We must provide the support and a hand to help them back up when they fall.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Friendship as a Value

In my workshops, I challenge people to identify the things they value. The majority of the time, we're talking about professional values, so I hear things like excellence, autonomy, diversity, integrity, etc. However, working with Dr. Pam Love, motivational speaker and author of "I Want My Vagina Back!" (IWMVB) and recently speaking with Brother Bartell Keithley, Jr. about his "Booty Boycott" (BB), (yes, it's called the Booty Boycott), I have become interested in exploring the values people hold in high regard, for themselves, in relationships. In particular, I am curious if and at what point "friendship" shows up as a value.

In IWMVB, Dr. Love talks extensively about aligning your values and your choices, and Brother Bartell discusses getting back to valuing friendship within the context of a relationship; and keeping the intimacy at bay until a solid friendship is developed (with his end goal being marriage). While this seems so incredibly simple, it is not how the landscape looks on today's dating scene. I'm going to venture to say that what I'm talking about spans the Millineal and Gen X generations. It seems that, today, the physical attraction supersedes the value system. 

Physical attraction is a positive, given that it is much harder to start a relationship with someone that you're not physically attracted to. And I'm actually glad for it. God has just put some beautiful human sculptures here on earth and to Him I say "thank you". However, I am concerned that it sometimes blinds people from the realization that there the relationship is being built on it. The boy meets girl thing is is going from 0 to 60, in 30 seconds, these days. And, people are arriving at 60 with a person they don't actually know and/or sometimes even like.

Don't get me wrong, I am also not against physical or sexual attraction. It will serve both parties well, at the appropriate time. But until then, it can murky the waters when it goes unchecked by our values. When sex shows up, the craziest things get swept under the carpet, dismissed, explained away and tolerated. These are things that don't promote a general caring about the other person, but a pursuit of something more shallow. Men may tolerate the crazy jealous women who break things, tap into voice mail, check their email, and more. Women may tolerate, cheating, no shows, dismissal of dates they've expressed as important, having no one checking for their well being and more.

I'm suggesting that having a genuine desire to know what the person you're getting to know is connected to, cares about, hates, loves, does for fun and supports is somewhat important whether you're going to keep it casual or interested in the long haul. A want to know their source of pain, insecurity and what makes them feel most loved. A want to know if their mother feels better from the sickness she had last week and if they enjoy what they do for a living. A want to know how they process pain, what brings them joy and how they handle tough situations. A want to know what kind of character they have and what they stand for in life. A want to know if they enjoy action flicks or romantic movies. A want to know how authentically they are living. And, mostly want to know why, beyond the physical attraction, in what way and how they want to be connected to you.

Some will suggest that this is too much information, as they are not looking for anything that serious. I don't believe that the relationship has to be headed towards anything super serious to begin to learn about the person you're connected to. As a matter of fact, I think the expectations of what this relationship might turn into should be checked at the door. Part of the problem with the beginnings is that assumptions about the future are made without enough information of what the future might entail Hence, getting to know what you might be getting yourself into by becoming friends.

I have friends in all types relationships statuses. Some are married, with boyfriend, divorced, looking and single by choice. I've observed a few of my friends during their dating process. There are some who just pop up with a man. I can speak with them one week and the next week, they have a new bo. It always begs the question, "where did he come from?" The stories are similar, they met at a club, party, get together, online or some other place and there was an amazing attraction. Once upon a time I would simply give her the "go girl" and a high five. However, as I watch the journey of these relationships, I can't help but to think something's missing. It turns out that usually there is. It is the fundamental foundational elements I mentioned above. The who? what? and why?

I don't think every relationship has to be deep; however, I've yet to meet a woman who actually doesn't care how or if a man cares for her. I have met women who tolerate how men treat them because of insecurities, not wanting a commitment, having a warm body, sex and/or the fear of being alone. 

Here's the thing. After the initial comments like "you're so beautiful", "hey sexy", "I would love to see you again", "how can I get in touch with you?", etc., there are some basic ways I think we could continue the process in another way. Call me unrealistic, but I believe we could start to do this thing a little differently. And, I believe the net result would be more meaningful relationships and healthier people. Not all of them will have the same level of depth or blossom into the same time of relationships. However, I am confident that they will cause us to leave people in a better condition than when we first encountered them, just because we took a moment to have an authentic experience. We could begin to treat people like friends and see how far we would get.

I'm sure my own recent encounters prompted my exploration of this subject. It has caused me to evaluate my own experiences and to understand the "why" behind my encounters. I'm not suggesting that anyone change their process, if they are living authentically, happily and fulfilled. My point is only for those who are having less than successful attempts at this human experience, as it relates to potential romantic encounters. Again, I'm also acknowledging that success does not always have to mean a deep and long term relationship each and every time. I  believe Brother Bartell would disagree :)

Many believe that men don't care about this authentic experience. They believe that their make up only allows for a one track mind; that at the end of the day sex is the goal. In addition, many believe that men will take the quickest route to get there. And if it is an easy path that doesn't require much work, so be it. However, depending on how desirable they find the woman, they may work really hard to get there. It is up to each person to understand their value system and what will be necessary to move forward in an regard.

I know not every man is the same and I know quite a few who are solid and caring human beings with more to them than the journey to the end goal (although I do recognize that as a part of the hope. . .for both parties :))

Identifying and living according to your values is the first step to ending up in a healthy place. Might it just be possible that we're living in the "land of make believe" when we don't consider that friendship is a value to be considered?

Just thinking out loud.

Live true.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

If You Dish It, Then Take It

"Doesn't Sherry look like she's gained weight?" "Wow, Steven isn't aging well." "That's interesting, Diane drives a Honda. For some reason, I always thought she had money." "Do you think Tina had work?" "Oh, he went to ABC College? I thought he was smart." "He's a janitor. He seemed so much smarter."

Okay, so I am in no way saying that I've never made a comment about anyone. . .ever. Let's start there. However, I have, through various experiences in my life, realized that wasting time noticing things about other people is kinda pointless. And that sometimes we have to leave our shallow observations and perceptions at the door, and work on ourselves. After we assess the situation in our heads and then make the judgement, we may want to ask ourselves more questions; like, what if Sherry has a thyroid problem? or what if Steven is going through a rough time in life? or what if Diane experienced a financial crisis and now believes that she doesn't need to spend money for show? or what if Tina just has great genes?

Now whether or not Sherry has a thyroid problem does not negate the fact that she's gained weight; however I'm hoping that we might begin to have a little more sensitivity to what people are going through AND think "who cares?" so we can take a look inward. And, my hope is that we don't take the liberty to post it or Tweet it. Why? Because, when the tables are turned, we know how awful it feels to be on the firing line. But if you can dish it, you should be able to take it. Can you? Do you regularly make mention of people's flaws, shortcomings, and mistakes? Would you feel comfortable with people making mention of yours? What is your point for bringing it up in the first place?

I'm not suggesting that we should never communicate about tough issues. If you're a husband whose wife has gained a lot of weight and it has left you physically unattracted to her, you should find a way to say it.  . .TO HER ONLY. If you have a friend who looks like they are aging and stressed, certainly ask if they are okay. You don't have to mention that they look old. Except for the instances where you are trying to help, I'm a little confused about what the point is of mentioning people's flaws. Okay, so I'm not really confused. Somewhere I know, although I don't want to, that people mention it, tweet it and post it because it makes them feel better about themselves.

If someone takes notice, out loud, about the one ounce of fat on Beyonce that they didn't notice before, it could be because it somehow makes them feel better about the 20 ounces they have on them. Guess what? Whether it is make up, special effects or Beyonce's hardcore gym workouts, they still have 20 ounces of fat that makes them unhappy. Fix it and stop wasting time looking at her. If someone notices, out loud, why people are the way they are, it could be because the person doesn't fit into their "normal" category. Guess what? That's the point of living YOUR truth. It's unique to you and should not fit into the "normal" category. Work out your own gift.

If people are going to sit around talking about all the things that people are or aren't, then after the session is done, I encourage them to turn the mirror around and take a look. Once you start working on your own "issues", it gives you much less time to focus on other people's.

If you dish it, please make sure you can take it.

Live compassion. Live true!

Monday, April 11, 2011

I Used to Think. . .

I used to think that things would only happen to people, if they did something to deserve it. Now I know that sometimes things just happen and all that counts is how you respond to the hand you're dealt.

I used to think that my list of "I would nevers" were forever. I now know that the more you live, the more you learn that under certain circumstances, there are many things you might do that you would have never. 

I used to think that I was a terrible writer because it took me longer than my classmates to pull my thoughts together. Now I know that my effective effort determines how well I write and increases the quality of my writing regularly. Sa-weet! Because I love writing.

I used to think that the title of and money made doing my job was more important than the enjoyment. I now realize that life is short and my fulfillment has NOTHING to do with my title or money made; and that it has everything to do with why and how I'm making a living.

I used to think I had to do what was "normal" and expected of me from others. Now I know that I'm not "normal". I am fearfully and wonderfully made in the uniqueness that God planned and my journey is my own.

I used to think that if I kept my long hair that (then) boys would find me more attractive. I now know that my attitude, character, heart and style makes me more attractive than hair, jewelry, or being scantily clad could ever. And. . .not to mention, looks fade. 

I used to think that I had to go the road alone, carry the whole load, and prove to everyone that I didn't need anyone. Now I know that it is in our relationships that we often find the comfort, love and encouragement we want. 

I used to think that if I trusted people with my emotions that they would think I was weak. Now I know that my strength is in my ability to confront my emotions and process them, as necessary; no matter if anyone knows about them or not.

I used to think. . .now I'm trying to feel.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Guaranteed Formula for Success

Okay, there really is no such thing *me smiling*. Despite what society tells you it looks like, the number of books that are written and motivational speeches you listen to, there is no "one" formula for success. You could make a bunch of money and feel unfulfilled. You could make CEO and hate your life. You could own your own business and have a lesser quality of life than before. You could be married with 2.5 children and still be lonely. You could have built a great reputation and not have the resources you need to live.

Here's the thing, the appearance of of actual possession of money, world travel, expensive cars, big houses, pricey jewelry and access to your every desire has been established as the outwardly sign of success. I won't argue that there are people with all of the above who have truly found "it"; however it's defined by them. That's not my point. My point it is VERY easy to look around and think you're not achieving success. 

Which is a more successful situation?
A. You make $500,000, work 70 hours per week (including weekends), go on vacation for 2 weeks with your family every year.


B. You make $100,000, work 45 hours per week (every once in a while on a weekend) on a flexible schedule, spend quality time with your family throughout the week.

ANSWER: It depends on what your definition of success is.

Now, that being said, there is a formula for YOUR success. Since people seem to like step-by-steps, here it goes:

Step 1: DREAM. Find some quiet time away from your daily routine (about an hour). Spend the first 1/2 hour sitting in complete silence with your eyes closed, dream. Dream about what you want your life to look like. Include family time, how you want to wake up in the morning, where you want to wake up, places you might like to travel (if at all), environment you want to work in (I.e. people oriented, task focused, problem solving, routine focused, autonomy, flexible schedule, etc.), options you want your money to provide, who you want to help in your journey, hobbies, things you want to learn, things you want to do, who are you are (confident, serving, well spoken, kind, helpful, respectable, etc.). Anything you can think of having to do with your life. Dream it!

Step 2: RECORD. Spend the second half our writing down what you just learned and categorize it into work, family, you, spiritual, and any other relevant categories. If you have time, write it or type it neatly, so you can revisit it. If not be sure to make this a priority. It's a critical next step. Record it!

Step 3: ESTABLISH. Create a method for ensuring that you live your truth as you just defined it, so that each day's tasks & thoughts contribute towards what you've decided your success is. This could include a daily affirmation, not reading too many magazines that suggest a different life for you, releasing some of the people in your life who are "dream drowners", STOP defending your choices (this is YOUR success plan). Establish it!

Step 4: ACTUALIZE. Take action on something! Begin to knock out your list. If you need a certain amount of money to live the life you want, strategize and execute how you're going to make it. Don't assume you need a lot. If you want to be sure that you spend quality with your family, then work on getting to an environment that allows you the flexibility to do so. If part of your success is have a CEO title, then ensure that you are on a path and have a plan to get there (use mentors). Actualize it!

Step 5: MONITOR. Check in frequently to see how your doing. This takes place in several ways. When you find yourself being envious or feeling like you aren't doing enough, check in. See if your feelings are related to your own inaction or if you are falling into the Land of Make Believe of living someone else's life. Remind yourself that everything that shines is not gold. Stop envying and sulking. Start dreaming, executing and succeeding. Monitor it!

Well, look at that I'm asking you to D.R.E.A.M. on your terms. 

It doesn't matter who you are or what you're trying to do, you can get there. The only difference between you and anyone else is experience, opportunity, execution and choices. Whether you're at the top, middle or bottom of the rung, you can decide to create your formula and Live Your Truth.


Yours in truth,


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Your Norm vs. My Truth

As I was having dinner with a friend the other night and talking about various things, I realized (or maybe just crystalized) a huge problem that we're having in this society. It is the norm vs. the truth. What do I mean by that? Well, there are societal norms that have been established like (for my Christian folks, stay with me. I know there are absolutely those established by the word of God. I'm posting on the fleshly things today :)), you're supposed to be a good test taker if you're smart - if you aren't out of pampers by the age of 3 then somethings wrong -  a woman should want to be married - men should want to always have sex - the faster you learn the smarter you are - the bigger and better your house and car is the more successful you must be - if your husband or wife doesn't beat you, comes home every night and stays gainfully employed, you should be perfectly happy - women who are single for long periods of time must be gay or thoroughly damaged - if someone asks you how you are doing, you're supposed to say "good". Why? because nobody likes a complainer. I really could go on and on.

Now, I am a fan of standards, lest we be a society filled with complete chaos, laziness and underachievers. How will you know what you're getting if you don't know what to expect. Here is where the ugly "C" word comes into play (not the disease, but the other taboo word). . . .COMMUNICATION. You should only expect what people say they can give. For instance, if a print shop says that they will get you your wedding invitations on Friday no later than 3:00pm error free, then you should be able to show up at 3:05 and expect to pick them up in such a condition. If a guy tells a woman that he is not looking for anything serious right now and wants to date, then a woman should not then set her eyes on him thinking that she'll be the one to tame the wild bachelor. Lastly, if the school district expects children to know AB&C prior to graduating to compete in this global economy, then parents should make every effort to make sure that happens and not blame the school when their children don't succeed.

This Norm vs. Truth applies in so many areas, I could write a book. Hey, there's an idea! I'm on it. 

The societal norms are established and released into the atmosphere. Then we breathe it in daily through all kinds of mediums, including family members, friends and coworkers. That leaves us in a place to call lots of things and people "weird" when they don't fit it. The funny thing is that, I believe, most people don't fit within the societal norms. They conform to them, so as not to be thought of as "weird". Why? Because no matter what, people want to be liked and accepted. I'm not a fan of crazy people, but I definitely dig weird ones. Why? Because somewhere they are trying to live their truth. It may not be coming across in the right manner always and sometimes they go to the extreme out of a rebellion against the norm, but I understand their plight.

Living Your Truth is not an easy task. We don't encourage it which forces people to make a decision very early in life on whether they stand in truth or in The Land of Make Believe. You begin early saying that you want to grow up and be a doctor or a lawyer, when you actually don't know what it takes to be one or even if you would enjoy it in the least bit (side note: I have so many friends who "used" to be lawyers). You find yourself feeling pressure to try a cigarette or make fun of the chubby kid to wear certain styles of clothing whether they are to your liking or not. By the way, chubby kids are quickly becoming the norm, so you skinny kids better watch out :). Sometimes Living Your Truth is knowing that you are participating in the Land of Make Believe, but eyes wide open. . .not pretending.

As I mentioned previously, Living Your Truth is not an easy walk, but I would argue a fulfilling one. It's the closest thing to freedom I've ever experienced.

Thank you for reading my rant. I pray a life of happiness and fulfillment in your truth.

I would love to hear any Living Your Truth Experiences that you care to share.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Love vs. Fear

Love is a funny thing. The feeling can be described in so many different ways. It's a noun and a verb. You can be open to it, guard yourself from it, let it devastate you, act out of character because of it, feel broken when it is no longer or simply experience it when it is present. Sometimes we mistake it for fear.
While my past "daddy issues" kept me on the run from the love of others for so many years, I've always felt God's love for me. And, I am now recently overwhelmed by all the ways I've come to experience it. Of course, I've loved, and continue to love, people from my mother, my sister, friends, children, and yes even my ex husband for the amazing, present and participatory father that he is. However I had not allowed myself to truly receive it from sources other than God and family. 

Someone wrote something on Facebook the other day that basically said you shouldn't love someone for a reason, because that reason may go away, then what will you do; you should love them.  I thought to myself, "how true". However, on the one hand, I have a fundamental and basic love for most people. It is a love that comes from the understanding that we're all spirits in this human experience together. It allows me to meet people where they are and to let go of any expectations (except that they won't physically harm me or my family) around what they can and can't provide to me. It helps me to see the foundation from which they draw from and why.
I even have a really healthy and unconditional love for myself. With all of my flaws, goof ups, silliness and mistakes, I dig this chick (smile). I believe that I am worthy of love from me and from others, though they may not choose to give it to me. No worries here. I have enough for me to compensate for anyone who decides to withhold it. LOL! 
Something interesting I'm learning is that many people are lacking the love of self and searching for it elsewhere. They are awaiting their knight in shining armor to bestow the love upon them that has eluded  them for so long. It may be in the form of a baby, a lover (or many of them), a husband, a friend, a group, family, etc. The obvious problem with this is that you are now leaving the opportunity to experience love in the hands of someone that you have absolutely NO control over. If this is your only source then what happens when it's gone?
Sometimes we do things out of fear and call it love. People who manipulate others while in a relationship may believe they are doing this because they love the person, when actually they simply fear losing them. A parent may talk their child into going to college nearby because they "love" them and want to protect them, when they are actually fearful of not having them close to them. Someone may accept bad treatment from someone, stating "I know they love me" when really it is the fear of being alone that helps them to rationalize it.
There is a magnificent power in love. When we act from this place, it helps us not to be jealous, to spread gossip, withhold information, manipulate people, lie, or wish anything but the best for them even when the best may not include us. You are whole and enough in your own right.
There is a debilitating power in fear. It keeps us on the defensive, always protecting our territory and working against the very purpose we were placed here to accomplish. Fear keeps us pretending things are okay when they're not, looking for love in all the wrong places, sticking it out when we should go (from a job, relationship or bad habit) and other anti love acts.
You know you're acting out of love when you can let go to the connection of the end result. For instance, you give someone a suggestion that will help them regardless of whether you get recognition or payment, when you make a tough decision to cut off a relationship that is harmful to your spirit, when you're honest with someone even though it will make you uncomfortable, etc.
In what areas of your life might you be acting out of fear being disguised as love? How might your life change if you made all of your decisions from a place of love? Can you think of any time when acting out of fear is healthy?
Love lives in the Land of Authenticity and Truth. Fear hides out in the Land of Make Believe.