And suddenly I realized I had potential.

“Don’t squander your potential living a life that amounts to far less than the one you are capable of living.”

Zero Dean

Okay so I stated a while back that I would elaborate on the project management job which became a turning point in my journey. I meant to post this sooner but… things kinda happen. Better late than never, so here it is.

I have worked many different assistant jobs in my adult life. Never staying at one place long enough to make anything of it. It didn’t matter if I liked a job or not. There were always issues. A co-worker was a little too friendly and the jealously set in. The hours occasionally went late or a night shift for inventory was required. A weekend out of town to facilitate a client event where infidelity was most certainly inevitable (in his words). There was always something that eventually gave me no other choice but to move on.

Then 14 years ago I had an opportunity to work as a project manager. I quit the latest assistant job and gave it a shot. After a huge learning curve and being thrown in way over my head, I figured it out. And go figure… I was good at it. No, I was great at it! I earned the respect of my employer as he knew I was picking up pieces that no one else was available to pick up. We developed a great working relationship. Had a great time working together too. I loved my new job. I was thriving. I looked forward to going to work every day. I felt like someone. I felt respected.

But when I got home, that feeling disappeared. My confidence was building. We were fighting all the time. For the first time I started to think about what life would be like without him. I was even close to leaving. I would tell him how much I loved my job and how good I was at it. I was even starting to make good money. It didn’t seem to matter. In his opinion, the job was taking up too much of my time and my boss only wanted to sleep with me. Eventually I wore down and agreed to quit. I was devastated.

Before I had a chance to hand in my resignation, he got offered a transfer with his job. I was relieved as now at least I had a legitimate reason for quitting. For being a quitter. I felt like a coward. I felt weak and controlled. I felt deflated.

But. Now I knew I had potential. I knew that I could accomplish something that was hard. I knew what it felt like to be respected. This was a turning point in my journey because I discovered that I matter. That I could do whatever I set my mind to.

Suddenly I knew I had potential.

And I laughed and laughed.

“The human race has one really effective weapon – laughter.”

Mark Twain

Do you appreciate laughter? Really appreciate it? I hope you do and I hope you appreciate it until you pee. Honestly. There is nothing that can warm your soul or help heal your world like laughter. I know this is something you have heard a million times but… are you listening?

Life is hard. (As mentioned in my blog 2 posts ago.) So what. Laugh. That’s what. There are days when you can do nothing but cry and I have recently had one of those days. Actually two but who’s counting. But. Then it was over and the next day I found me some funny-ass friends and I laughed. And then I sat down and I thought about why I had cried. And I could rationally think about it. And analyze it. And do something about it. Fix it. And I could do all of those things because I took a pause and I laughed.

You can’t be serious all the time. You can’t be sad all the time. You can’t be mad all the time. You can’t laugh all the time either. So mix it up. But make sure you get some of that last one in there because it’s important. I don’t care what you have going on. I do but for the purpose of this post, I don’t. Things are going to happen. Bad things. But you get to chose what you do with them. Be miserable all the time and guess what. Shit gets worse. Promise.

Are you wallowing in self pity? Done that too! Do you think you have nothing to laugh at? Been there. But guess what? That’s baloney. Ever hear of You-tube? There is some funny shit on that. A dog talking about bacon. A toddler pleading his case to his mother, Linda. Ozzy man reviews. A Jim Gaffigan clip. It’s all funny. Oh! Robin Williams on golf! My all time favorite. Google it. I DARE you not to laugh.

Don’t let misery win. Don’t wallow. Don’t stay down.

I dare you to laugh (or at least snort a little).

Life is too short to be serious all the time. So, if you can’t laugh at yourself, call me… I’ll laugh at you.”

Unknown

Sorry, not sorry.

“If you walked away from someone who wasn’t treating you right or loving you like you deserve… that is power. Own it. You loved yourself right out of the life of someone who didn’t love you enough. It doesn’t get any more powerful than that.”

Mandy Hale

I’m sorry. Excuse me. Oh, I messed up. My apologies. My fault… I. am. sorry.

We all do it. Or at least a lot of people I know do. I certainly do. Apologize. Relentlessly. It’s like a reflex for me. Running late. I’m sorry. Didn’t get back to you right away. I’m sorry. I can’t go out with you tonight. I’m sorry. Apology after apology. Truth is I am sorry but you know what? I was running late because I am busy! I didn’t get back to you right away because I had 5 other people to connect with that had more urgent issues. I couldn’t go out with you tonight because I had already made other plans. OR, maybe I just needed a night off to be an introvert. So why am I so sorry? Trying to please everyone all of the time gets you absolutely no where except on a bumpy road to Stressville where the people are cranky and the food sucks.

Everyone has their own reasons for being overly apologetic but I honed my skill in my marriage. Everything always seemed to be my fault. I jumped on the apology wagon quickly so as to try to soften the verbal blows. The anger and the blame. The argument. I didn’t matter what the subject was. I was sorry.

And when I walked away, guess what I said. “I am sorry.”

Walking away from someone who is an important part of your life is extremely difficult. I say an important part but understand that my meaning of ‘important’ is not necessarily positive or negative. Important means they made an impact.

I have walked away from a few people these past years (in addition to that guy). Walked away because they have treated me with disrespect, with jealousy, with indifference. Some people covered them all. All of them have loved me in their own way. I don’t believe that any of them were out to hurt me. But I walked away. I walked away for me.

And I didn’t apologize.

I recently had to turn away from one of the people I love most in the world. I had to turn away because I could not help him. And I tried. Believe me I tried. I tried so hard it took a piece of me that I will never get back. This person is not a bad person. This person just does not see what he is doing to himself and to others. This person refuses to help himself. So I walked away. I walked away for me.

I walked away for me so that one day maybe I can help him when he is ready to be helped. So that I can be whole and strong and ready to help him.

Do you judge me? Go ahead. I walked away for me. Not for you. Not for them. For me. Because I got hurt. Because I was mistreated. So why would I apologize for doing what is right for me? You may not understand my reasons and you may not agree with me but that is your business and not mine.

I walked away from someone I love and it hurt. I walked away and I will not apologize.

I am not sorry.

It was the year 2020.

“life is always going to have curve balls. And sometimes, quite frankly, they are going to smoke you in the head when you don’t have your helmet”

I have been away for awhile. So first off, I apologize for my absence. I have missed my writing greatly but it has been unavoidable and I hope that you will still accept me back into your busy lives. Your feedback and comments have been inspirational and so appreciated. So, that being said…

As I have contemplated all day on what to write after my brief absence, I have settled upon a touchy subject. The year 2020. And it’s bad wrap. Yup. I said it. Stick with me. Please…

I have come across countless posts and blogs and meme’s and commentaries and and and… on how horrible 2020 has been. I get it. COVID has been terrible. What is going on in this world right now is terrible! Horrible. Mind boggling. I have had amazingly intelligent and insightful conversations with so many people on this. Some days I follow the stories more than others. I will never claim that I am the most up to date or the most current on the daily news and truthfully, a lot of days I rely on friends and coworkers to keep me informed. But. I am not naive or sheltered. I get the gist. I get that stress levels are at an all time high and emotions are running our lives. I get that we are currently operating on reactive and not a proactive. I get that we are all frustrated and wanting this year to be over. Now. Skip right to 2021. Today. Go.

Can I tell you something else?

I am having one of the best years that I have had possibly in my life. Can I tell you why? Again… stick with me. Please.

I spent the early days of COVID listening to and reading about how hard it was for everyone. How isolated they were because they couldn’t go to work. How stressed they were because they had to go to work. How they didn’t know how they were going to home school their kids. How they didn’t know how they were going to pay their mortgage. I was right in there with you. Everyday. All day.

And then I realized something. And let me back track a bit. 2019 was one of the hardest years of my life. Emotionally exhausting beyond words. Every step I took and every turn I made felt like a stumble. A fall. I was picking myself off the floor every damn day it seemed. Dramatic. Of course I am. But it was hard as fuck. Not going to lie. Truth is, every year has been it’s own kind of hard since I chose to be on my own. Every year I have entered into the new calendar year telling myself “this is my year – this years things are going to get easier”. At the end of my epic 2019, I realized something. Life is hard. LIFE IS HARD.

So this winter when the calendar flipped to January, I shrugged and said “Let’s go 2020. Let’s see what you got.” It dawned on me that life is always going to have curve balls. And sometimes, quite frankly, they are going to smoke you in the head when you don’t have your helmet. Like COVID. Like racism. Like hate crimes and domestic abuse and violence and so many other unfair horrible and unjustly actions that boggle my mind and make my blood boil.

But here’s the thing. I am still happy. I am happy because that’s my choice. I have a great group of people in my life. I am happy because I allow myself to meet new people that make me excited about life. My life. The one I live. Where I love everyone and hate no one. Where I work hard at my job and make the best of it no matter how hard the day is. Where I choose to walk away from ignorance and cruelty because it does not serve me. Where I choose to stand by my friends no matter what their life choices or race. My life. And in my life, I choose.

So for me… 2020 is a great year. 2020 is the year that I accepted that sometimes, often times, life is hard. I choose to face hard. I choose to not be beaten. I have a saying that I stole from a very positive and energetic employee a few years back. ‘You do you boo’. Translation (if you need it)… do what makes you happy. I love that.

Let’s be happy amidst the chaos. Let’s not judge. Let’s not hate. Let’s embrace 2020 and let’s learn from it. And it is teaching us so very much. Just listen. Just watch. Just learn.

Life is hard. I’ll do me. You do you boo.

I would like to take a nap.

My life is full. I enjoy as many moments as I can. I work hard. I play hard. I have a tendency to cram something into every minute. I take my job very seriously and stress about not doing everything at 100%. And then I wonder why I am always so exhausted. Go figure.

I am teaching myself to sit still. It sounds like something that would be pretty easy but it is not. It’s true, I don’t want to miss out or not do my best but that is not the real reason. I just simply love doing all of the things, all of the time. I love giving 100%. And. I don’t give myself a break. This once again, is part of my healing process. Taking a break was frowned upon for all of my adult life. Admitting I was tired. Or I was sick. That was just complaining and laziness. Just one more thing I did wrong. So I didn’t. I powered through no matter how tired or how sick I was. I would cook dinner hanging on to the counter tops because my back was so sore I could not stand on my own. I powered through.

So to give myself a break is not an easy thing. To stay down when I just don’t feel like getting up. This is not something I am good at doing. But I am getting better. I went to a sleep clinic a few years ago because I was always so exhausted all the time. I thought maybe there was something physically wrong with me. I remember the doctor laying it out for me so simply and so logically. He said, “When you’re hungry, what do you do? You eat. When you’re thirsty, what do you do? You drink. When you are tired, what should you do? SLEEP.” Duh. So I started taking a nap when I just couldn’t stay awake. Something I could never do before. A nap. Huh. A nap. Pretty cool.

And a couple weeks ago, I bought myself a lounge chair for my back yard and guess what I did. I napped in that. All weekend. ALL WEEKEND. It was one of the best weekends I have ever had. Oh. And I got a tan. Oh. And no one died.

So let yourself rest. Take a break. Keep yourself in check and ask yourself – what’s the worst that can happen if I do not do this? Will the world fall apart? Will I miss out on an epic event? Will my clients never speak to me again? Will a loved one get hurt? (maybe dramatic, but still a legitimate question).

You don’t have to do all of the things all of the time. Yes they are fun or rewarding. But so is napping.

So. Is. Napping.

I can’t perform brain surgery.

“There is no perfection, only beautiful versions of brokenness.”

Shannon L Alder

I am without a doubt, my worst critic. I have high standards and expect near perfection of myself. It is not because I think I am nearly perfect. Believe me! I am not. It is because I think I need to be better in so many areas of my life. Always. I am never good enough. Sound familiar? Why is that?

Truly, I no longer lack confidence. I am not insecure. I love myself and I think I am amazing and deserving of all things good. I am not egotistical nor am I arrogant. I am just happy with where I am in my life and I am proud of how I got here. I am proud because this was not an easy place to get to. It required hard work. Really. Hard. Work.

For 24 years I was made to feel like I was not good enough. Let me give you an example of why. For most of my adult life I have been up and down with my weight but have always been interested in improving my health and nutrition habits. I remember one particular kick I was on with healthy eating and wanting to get my weight down. I had a goal to lose 12 lbs and I was half-way to that goal. I was feeling so good about myself. We were going out to a hockey game that night and stopping for pizza before the game. I was going to give myself a night off and enjoy that pizza to the fullest! I started talking about how good I was feeling and that I had only 6 lbs to go. He got out his phone, googled a height and weight chart and kindly informed me that even if I lost another 6 lbs I would still be overweight.

I was crushed.

To understand this story better, know that I was still a healthy weight at this time. I was only a size 8. And knowing what I do now about health and wellness, height and weight charts should be thrown into the garbage. And people who say things like that to you, well… ditto.

So is it any wonder that I regress from time to time into the ‘I am not good enough’ mood? 24 years of hearing comments like this do incredible damage to your self image. You cannot reverse this damage in a year. Or 2. Or even 5. It will always be there. But you can make those moments smaller. More and more insignificant. Insignificant. They do not have to define you. They should not define you. They no longer define me.

I still feel I need to be better at everything. Almost everything. I accept that I will never be able to win the Indy 500 or perform brain surgery. I am okay with that. And I remind myself regularly that I can have a bad hair day. And I can lose a squash game to my friend Tammy. (Over. And over.) And that’s okay. I don’t have to be good at everything. I do not have to look perfect. Be perfect. Neither do you. Love your flaws. Love your imperfections. Have goals and put in the work but don’t try to be perfect. Just try to be better today than you were yesterday.

I am not perfect. I am flawed. And I am amazing.

And I am better today than I was yesterday.

You can choose your family.

“Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.”

unknown

You know the old saying, ‘you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family’? Well, I call bullshit. Not all of us are lucky to have an amazing and supportive family. I do. I am grateful for them everyday. But some of us have toxic families. We are so convinced that we need to put up with the toxic. To find a place for it in our hearts. So convinced that we have no choice. Why? Ask yourself why?

Let’s look at the definition of family. Copy and pasted right out of Merriam Webster’s book.

1 : a social group made up of parents and their children. 2 : a group of people who come from the same ancestor You resemble your mother’s side of the family. 3 : a group of people living together : household. 4 : a group of things sharing certain characteristics a family of languages.

Four different definitions. Here is another one.

5 : a group of people that support, give and bond to each other equally, no matter what the circumstances.

Taken right out of my own personal book. We all know families come in different shapes and sizes. It is not defined by blood. Adoption. Step-children/parents/siblings. Fostering. So if it has little to do with blood connection, why do we feel that we need to stay connected to a family member that is toxic? Why do we suffer abuse and disrespect from anyone?

I have been living at least a province away from my parents and siblings for my entire adult life. We are not always able to physically be there for each other. So I have expanded my family. One that I have chosen. One that supports me and is there for me when the original 6 can’t be. And I have removed some of those members over time. Ones that take advantage of me. Ones that disrespect me. Ones that are unhealthy for me.

Sadly this is so much more difficult when it is your family. I know. You have been through everything together. A lifelong of everything. But if your sister is emotionally abusive or your son is self-absorbed and hurtful, step back. If your mother is a narcissist and your brother is a violent criminal, step back. Just step back and take inventory of your value. Just because they are family does not mean you are not valuable. It does not mean that you don’t deserve better.

Please don’t think I’m cold at heart. I am not. I have just learned from having a big heart that has been broken, that you have to step back sometimes. I am not saying you should abandon those that need you. But you can help them in other ways that do not take so much from you. You can’t make them get help. But you can lead them to help. Lead them and let them help themselves. Show them what strength is. Show them your strength by taking care of you. The rest is up to them and only them.

Family is everything. But who is your family. Take a close look at the definition written in your own personal book.

And choose.

I’d rather be with my dogs.

“Complex emotions, from the limbic brain, are the reason mammals succeeded – the reason we survived when the dinosaurs did not. We are social and emotional creatures from start to finish.”

Harry S. Lodge, MD

Introvert. Extrovert. Who am I? I really wasn’t sure. I love spending time with friends. Laughing. Talking. Sharing. But I work hard at being social. Getting out there. Meeting new people. Organizing events to bring people together. It is important to me and necessary. But. It is exhausting. My anxiety kicks in. I am tired from my day. More often than not I find myself wishing I could just stay at home with my dogs. Open a bottle of wine. Find a comfortable chair. Put my feet up. And feel the inevitable presence of a wet nose or two nudging their way into my palm for a little love. Introvert. Heaven.

But I know from experience that too many nights of a comfortable chair feels lonely. It depletes me. It too, exhausts me. I have realized through all this that I am, after all, an extrovert. Who knew. I am an extrovert who enjoys my own company. Needs my own company. And my dogs. Don’t forget my dogs.

My extroverted self is struggling. It is craving humans. And not over a phone. Real live humans. Even though the 2-legged’s frustrate me more often than not, they also challenge me. They make me think. They make me laugh. They make me to love. (Grudgingly some days). I have recently read my new favorite book “Younger Next Year” by Chris Crowley & Henry S. Lodge, MD.

If you know me, you are probably sick of hearing me rave about this book. And if you know me, you know you may as well just get over it cause you know I won’t shut up about it. As the title implies, it promotes a healthy lifestyle. Part 1 talks about how incredibly important exercise and diet are to lead a healthy active lifestyle well into your golden years. Aging is not mandatory, it is optional. For awhile anyways. A long while if you put in the effort. I know, I know… preaching again.

But part 2. Part 2 – and so interesting that this book came into my life (thank you big sister Audrey) at a time when we are going through encouraged isolation. Part 2 talks about how important social interaction is for us humans. Pardon me. Not important. Essential. I get it now. ESSENTIAL! Yes I am yelling at you in all caps. The truth is we need each other. Yup I said it. I need you. You will probably annoy me from time to time. Okay, not probably. But I still need you.

Now here is the other thing. My part 3. And a pretty good part if I do say so myself. When we ‘extrovert’, we get to choose. We get to choose who we want to human with. Honestly we do. Choose wisely. Surround yourself as much as you can with people who energize you. A lot of our social interaction is still limited so take advantage of this time. Be selective. Don’t answer the call from someone who is going to bring you down. (They don’t know you are screening – they can’t see you!) Pick up the phone and call the one that lifts you up. (And video chat them so they can see you!) And I say PICK UP the phone… yes I am yelling again. Don’t wait for them to call you. Be social. It’s important and it’s healthy.

So. Be an extrovert. Work at it and be selective. Choose those who challenge you. Those who make you think. Those who make you laugh. Those who make you love.

Choose those who make you love.

“Human contact, intimacy, is critical to good health. And the absence of it is devastating. Love saves lives.”

Chris Crowley

Why didn’t you just leave?

“Fear has a large shadow, but he himself is small.”

Ruth Gendler

People have asked me why I didn’t leave sooner. It is not an easy answer and for a long time I had no answer. I would pretend to and I would dance around it, offering all sorts of excuses and false wisdom. But the truth was, I didn’t understand it myself. I didn’t know why.

I still cannot offer an easy answer but I can tell you that at the heart of it is fear. Fear is an incredibly powerful animal. It holds us. It controls us. It is all encompassing and disabling. In my case, I was afraid of many things. I was afraid of being alone. I was afraid of a failed marriage. I was afraid of him.

I was afraid of him. He always had a way of being right. Always had a reason why I was wrong. Always had a way of winning. And because of that incredibly talented skill set, I was afraid of the argument that always came every time I tried to stand up. The argument that always proved me wrong. Always left me feeling like the bad person. Always left me feeling worthless. I was afraid of how he made me feel. And so I went along with everything. And I stayed.

In short, it is manipulation. And it is as powerful as fear. Both are invisible enemies. Enemies that swallow up your identity, your potential, your confidence. And when they are present in your life for too long you become confused and weak. It takes a great deal of courage and awareness to beat them. Identify the manipulation. Label the fear. See them. And then face them.

The funny thing is, once you identify them and expose them, they weaken. They crumble. The manipulation has no power once you see it. Truly see it. Neither does fear. Identify it. Face it. Weaken it. Then take back your life.

I chose this subject today because we are all dealing with fear. Fear of unknown. Fear of loss of control. Fear of so many things. Use my story to conquer your own fears. Identify it. Face it. Weaken it. And don’t lose sight of it again. Don’t forget it. Fear is always present no matter what the circumstances. Keep it in your sight line. And you will always win.

Be strong. Be courageous. Be fearless.

The fighter.

“We cannot control what emotions or circumstances we will experience next, but we can choose how we will respond to them.”

Gary Zukav

Over the past 4 years and 3 months I worked incredibly hard to be in control of my life. I dug. I pushed. I pulled. I stood. And I took control. There was no longer anyone telling me what I should do or where I should go. Or what I should like or not like. I was in control.

It took a lot of trial and error. I was finally in a place where all the pieces in my life were coming together. I had so much to look forward to. Finally a year that was mine to shape into what I wanted it to be. Or so I thought. One by one, things fell. Day by day, things changed. Hour by hour, things disappeared. And there was not a damn thing I could do about it. All that control was gone. Like a slow, painful magic trick… poof.

I stood by helplessly. Helpless. This time not someone but something told me what I should do. Where I could go. Circumstance that no one including me could control. Helpless. And I hated it. I wanted to scream. Kick. Pull hair. Anything to fight this loss. I can handle a fight. I am familiar with a fight. I am not afraid of a fight. And there it is. Fear.

I am not afraid of a fight but helpless, now that’s another enemy. I am afraid of helpless. I am afraid of this loss of control. I don’t know what to do and I am left standing here without a plan. So what do I do? Where do I go? Now what? Panic sets in if you let it.

Let me share something with you. No matter what is going on around you, you are never fully out of control and fully helpless. True story. There is always one thing that you can control. Always. Ready? Your thoughts. That is fully in your control. No one else can control that. No other thing. No circumstance. No situation. Nothing! Nothing can control your thoughts. Your thoughts determine how you react. How you handle something. How you control what’s inside of you. So, turns out you still have control. Huh. Imagine that.

While I was standing there looking for my fight, I suddenly remembered this. I may not be able to control what is happening in the world around me but I can control how I react to it. So I am choosing to get back in control of my life. My life. I may not be able to do the things or go the places I had originally planned but I can still control if I accept it or not. That is my thoughts and they are mine and only mine. Look at that. I won again.

I have choices. I have control. I have life.