Sunday, November 12, 2017

Life To My Days

Last weekend I took a road trip with some friends of mine to Nashville, TN. I had been looking forward to this trip for a very long time. While I have known these ladies for quite a while, this would be my first such adventure with them, and I was excited for the new experience. I was not disappointed. Let me also add that each of these ladies has their own unique story, background and bring something rare and precious to the table. Suffice it to say this was not a cookie cutter convention, and yet there was mutual respect and admiration for all. I felt accepted, safe and appreciated; which is really all anyone can hope for within their circle of friends. We had a great time, and this blog post is dedicated to just one small blip from that trip that made a big impact on my heart.

On Friday night we went to see The Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman Auditorium. It was so much fun to be there live and hear all the great music. My favorite was a bluegrass group; Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, who performed one of their songs; “Life To My Days”. Here is a small excerpt….

I wish we all could live at least until we're 90
Without any aches, or pains, or a cloudy mind
I wish everyone could taste the kind of love they dream of finding
And get to see their ship come sailin' in at least one time

I've been here long enough to know
That ain't the way it always goes

So if I'm one of those travelers whose journey gets cut short
And leave the ones I leave behind wishin' I had more time
All I can say is I can't add more days to my life
So I'll add more life to my days

Something about that song just stuck with me. The honesty of it. The reality mixed with hope. It strikes a balance between knowing there are certain hardships we encounter and things in life we may desire and strive for, but maybe not quite see fulfilled. It also offers the listener the opportunity to take back a little control over their happiness and impact in their world. We all have the chance, and yes, even the responsibility to add more LIFE to our DAYS! How do we accomplish that?

Let Go Of The Past… There are people and circumstances in your rear-view mirror that hurt you. Leave them there. The only real purpose of that mirror is to quickly glance to see how far you’ve come. If your focus is looking back, you will never appreciate the view in front of you. Don’t hold a grudge or wait for an apology that may never come. Learn from your mistakes, accept the mistakes of others and move beyond the pain. The road ahead is open and waiting for you; make the most of each new adventure with a clear and open heart.

Pursue Yourself… One of my favorite expressions is “Pursue Yourself; Relentlessly”. Now I understand the concept can be taken too far and one can become overly self-absorbed and a royal pain to be around. I’m not talking narcissistic behavior or becoming insensitive to the needs of others. To me, this simply implies being in touch with what drives you, inspires you and encourages you. There is another quote that says: “You can’t serve from an empty vessel.” We all need to find the time to pursue the activities and habits that fill our love and energy tank. These activities will be as varied and diverse as the individuals reading this post, so do not look to copy another’s game plan. Create our own! If this is a new concept for you, it may take some trial and error, but I promise it will be worth it. Learn to love yourself and each day will be an adventure.

Love Unconditionally… There are people in your world that need your love and acceptance. Freely give that to them. Openly and often express your love and appreciate for the ones who make your world a better place. Never underestimate the power of “I Love You”. Those three words never get old. As emotional beings, we crave that affirmation daily. Tell your partner, your children, your parents. Call someone who may not have heard from you in a while and catch up. Find an outreach to devote time and even resources into. We are approaching the time of year where those in need will come across your path. Be wise, but also be willing to help, donate or just BE there for someone. Love is the one commodity that is never depleted when given. The more love you pour out, the more that wells up within you. Make it a point to give some away every day.

My Hopefuls, my goal for you today is to understand the precious fleeting days of our lives. Time passes without consideration and no one is promised tomorrow. The songwriter is so very true in his sentiment. When all is said and done, there is very little we can do to add days to our lives. Of course, healthy living and taking care of ourselves will certainly help, but our days are numbered, and we are not given that information when we are born. Make each one count. Do your best to leave a positive impact. Love. Respect. Pursue. Be the kind of person who can truly say…

So I'll add more life to my days

Hope With Abandon

Hope Out

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Why Didn’t He Call Back? (Dating Mystery #23)

If you notice, the title does not read, “4 Reasons Why He Didn’t Call Back”. That would be a statement implying I know the reason (4 of them to be exact). I intentionally presented this as a question, because, in fact, I don’t know the answer. I have theories, and I am willing to share them with you, but unfortunately this is just one of dating’s true mysteries that strikes everyone from time to time. I am no exception and even though I use this platform to offer advice and encouragement, I ask myself that same question when it happens to me.
There are some dates where you know right away that no follow up call/date will come and with most of them you are truly grateful for that knowledge. Then there is the occasional ‘great’ date where all the elements seemed to fall into place. There was connection, ease, fun, maybe even chemistry. After a few bad ones, this date goes just the way you wanted it to. It ends with a lovely, “We should do this again sometime.” 

Then……………………, cricket……..nothing.

So, what happened? Let’s look at a few things.

1.      The most obvious reason could simply be he didn’t want to. Just because you (we) think the date went great, doesn’t mean he did. Maybe he is just a polite, great guy and had a nice evening but decided, for whatever reason, that you were not the one he wanted to pursue. So, he didn’t. Now, yes, it would have been helpful if he had followed up just to say that so there is no wondering and speculating, but in reality, that is a difficult task and honestly many do not take that extra step.  Another theory here is that there was someone else that he just liked a little more. Attraction is layered in so many things and many out here dating are talking to multiple people. You could have been a solid number two contender, but in the game of love, that’s really not where anyone wants to be. It could also be true, albeit not too likely, the one he has been holding out for, showed back up at the most inopportune time (for you, anyway).

2.      It is possible that something felt ‘off’ to him by the end of the evening. People dating in this day and age get spooked by the strangest things. The evening could have been going great, and then something you said or a reaction to a situation might have triggered an unconscious response. It most likely was completely innocent on your part, but just like we have certain red flags, so do guys. Certain men look for signs that a woman is controlling or too independent. They believe that will make for a difficult relationship with power struggles. Other guys try to pick up signs that you might be high maintenance or hard to please. In addition, men have a keen knack for sensing if a girl is just a little too needy or possibly in a hurry to start a new relationship. This will send a guy in the opposite direction quickly. I know this sounds unfair, because these assessments can often be made in error with no solid basis, however if they see or hear something that makes them question the ease of a long-term arrangement, they will cut their losses early.

3.      Maybe he is sitting there asking the same question about you! This is where it gets tricky for me. I am of the generation where the guys did the follow up; the chasing, the pursuing. It was a rite of passage for the man to be the one to steer the early stages of a courtship. Nowadays, not so much. And it’s just not with the younger guys. I recently had a conversation with a guy; a little older than myself. We had plans, through a text, to talk on the phone two nights later because of our schedules. There was no one specified to do the ‘calling’, but I assumed he would. I never got a phone call. Three days down the road I get a text message that simply said ‘?’. I was confused, so I asked him what was the question. He replied that he wanted to know why I didn’t call him. That started a back-and-forth text conversation that including phrases like ‘communication is a two-way street’ and ‘it takes fifty-fifty’. He was clearly agitated that I had not called him. And while I was not exactly agitated, I did surmise from his silence that he was no longer interested. It apparently was a misunderstanding that is repeated in scenarios everywhere. I am not opposed to calling or texting a guy. In a relationship, I do it quite often. I have also done my fair share of initiating contact either through online dating messages or follow up texts after a date.  However, it does register on my radar how often a guy reaches out to me and in what context. As I have gotten older (and maybe wiser?) I am more likely to give them the space to make that decision. It is really the only clear indicator to gauge sincere interest. I said all of that to say this; there are some guys who either from a place of insecurity or shyness, are waiting for you to make the next move. It is up to you to decide if you are comfortable with that and willing to assume that role.

The bottom line here, is that there are no easy answers or concise reasons for why a guy may not call you back. And the truth of the matter is, in the majority of cases, it is not because of anything you did wrong. So many variables go into the mix, and honestly there are more misses than hits. The goal then is to not focus or obsess about each date. Dating should be fun. So to the best of your ability, just enjoy the moments. Do things you want to do, go places you want to go, be yourself and soak up the experience. If it turns into Date #2, great! If it doesn’t, then recognize it as another chance to meet someone new, learn more about yourself and hone your social skills. Before you know it, the right one will appear, and Dating Mystery #23 will be a thing of the past!

Hope With Abandon

Hope Out! 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

When You Let Yourself Down (How To Get Back Up)

We don’t want to admit it, not out loud. We don’t like the way it makes us feel. We grow accustomed in life to handling when another person or situation disappoints us; but what if the person who let you down was yourself? I know that sounds harsh and possibly even cruel. We beat ourselves up way too often as it is. Why add another layer of guilt? My Hopefuls, this is not about guilt, it is about letting go, learning a lesson and turning a page. It is about forgiving ourselves when we mess up.

Maybe it is just me. Maybe I am writing to reach my inner self, who struggles with insecurities, set-backs, wrong turns and bad decisions. But I need to believe, for my own reassurances, that I am not alone in this fight. I want to use my challenges to encourage you to become a better advocate for yourself and a stronger voice in your own life.

Let’s look at a few stumbling blocks and steps we can take to get back in the game and back on track.

Procrastination – “Wait… I’ll finish this one later.” Yes, that’s how easy it is to do. Your intentions are good. You have a plan and maybe even supplies. What you don’t have (or don’t think you have) is time. So, you put ‘it’ off, just one more day/week/month, etc. Whether it is a home improvement/fix, updating paperwork, saving money, helping a friend, volunteering, making amends, organizing the closet, righting a wrong or even pursuing a dream; there are so many things we say we want to accomplish, but never do. That is until time runs out, an emergency happens or we are called out on our delay; but then we rush, cut corners and then make excuses. I don’t know what drives the decision to wait. Part of it might simply be a lazy streak. I also truly believe depression plays a part in the lack of motivation for some. Others mean well and just get caught up in a busy life and just struggle to juggle all the balls. Whatever the reason you have for not handling a situation, determine in your mind to take care of it. Formulate a plan. Take that first step. If you need help, enlist it. If you need motivation, tell yourself how great it will feel to finally check that off your to-do list. Go easy with the self-blame and simply resolve to follow through. Today.  

Fear - “I can’t do/handle/finish this.” Fear cuts us both ways. For one, just the fear itself is crippling, but then often we become angry and disappointed in ourselves for having the fear. It makes us feel weak and unable to handle a situation. Because we are feeling bad about ourselves, we hesitate to share our fears with others because of possible ridicule, so we harbor and dwell on it. Maybe we are afraid to stand up to someone who is mistreating us. It could be at work or with a family member or social setting with a ‘friend’. Maybe we are in an unhealthy romantic relationship and we stay for fear of starting over and being alone. We are ashamed at our inability to be our own best advocate. My Hopefuls, please know your worth. Please understand how valuable and unique you are. It is ok to be fearful or unsure about a situation. It is ok to ask for advice and wisdom. It is not ok to do nothing. Trust your instincts. Follow your heart. Do the right thing, even if it turns out to be extremely difficult or unpopular. Believing in yourself and standing up for your values and ideals will develop strength of character and each victory brings a level of bravery that will make the next battle easier. Stay focused and strong on what drives you and makes you happy.

Bad Decisions – Ok, I know I’m not alone on this one. We have all made questionable decisions in our lives. Some we knew were wrong from the beginning. Others were made with good intentions, but not enough thought or research was applied. Whichever the case, we oftentimes find ourselves in a situation dealing with someone or something that causes us stress and irritation. The decision can also cost us financially and emotionally. The first step to recover from a bad decision, is to recognize and acknowledge that one was made. Do not make excuses or blame another; own your part. It does no good to dwell on the mistake, but it is important to take responsibility for it. Next, assess any damage. Can you just walk away from the decision, free and clear? Do you have an obligation to fulfill or monies to pay? Never skip out on the issue because that will only make you feel worse. If the decision caused another to suffer, you may need to make amends and apologize. You will be amazed at the relief that comes from this one step. Take care of the situation the best you can. Learn what to do differently next time. Forgive yourself. Move On.

Being Passive – This is a two-level approach. None of us should stand by and watch injustice or unfairness rule the day. We all need to know what we believe in and would fight for and not live in the shadows hoping the good will win. We must ensure our participation in the battle for the good. The other view of this; we must always do our best. Show up to be great. I know every day will not be your best performance on record. Some days just getting out of bed is a victory. But do not let a few bad days or experiences rob you of joy. Do not sit on the sidelines of your life. Own your place in this world.

As we all work through the disappointments that sometimes come at our own hands, let us all collectively believe that the best is yet to come. We are not defined by our past or our mistakes. We are of great value and we need each other. Our goal today is to dust off the sadness or any remnants of defeat and press onward. And to always…

Hope With Abandon

Hope Out!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

An Empty Saddle (6 Signs You Are Not Ready To Move On)

Most humans are social creatures, meaning we seek out and enjoy the company of other humans; being alone distresses us and we do not really want to be a solo act. After a breakup, most of the advice centers around getting back in the saddle and not giving up. In theory, this is sound advice, but what is often left out of the equation is the time involved. Everyone has a different timetable when it comes to moving on. It is not healthy to push yourself, or someone else, to speed up that process. Successfully navigating towards a new healthy relationship looks different for each individual and all should be allowed to work through the pain and journey at their own pace. While there are no real preset guidelines for when you should consider yourself ready, there are a few red flags that spotlight you are not quite there yet.

1.      Stalking Social Media…. Whether it is their Facebook, SnapChat or Instagram account, you find yourself checking your ex’s status and following their activities. You analyze every post looking for clues to their happiness, regret or even new partner. This is extremely unhealthy and serves no purpose except to reopen your heart’s wound. Right after a breakup, it is a good idea to unfollow your ex. It isn’t necessary to block him/her, but you do not need to constantly be reminded of them and see their updates and pictures. If you still need a daily social media fix, you are not ready to move on.

2.      Hoarding Momentos…. I once kept (for years) a used Band-Aid that the cute guy from the skating rink put on my knee when I slammed into the wall. In my defense, I was 14; but some people do have a hard time letting go of sentimental items. I’m actually not totally against keeping one or two things, in a box, just for memory lane walks. However, if you make a shrine or keep the framed photo of your vacation hanging in your bedroom, that is too much. You cannot find new love when the old one still occupies a space in your heart and on your wall. If you find the reminders particularly painful because of a bitter breakup, it might be best to just do away with them. You must decide to do what works in your best interest.

3.      Showing Up ‘Accidentally’… You know where they buy their lunch and their coffee. You know their route to work and what they like to do on the weekends. You should not have to re-route your entire life, but if you find yourself showing up at these places with the hopes of running into him/her, you still have healing to do. The truth is, if they wanted to see you, they would. It sounds good in a song or a movie, to bump into an old flame and reignite the spark, but that very seldom happens in the real world. Do not ever make yourself appear desperate. Head up and feet moving forward.

4.      Still Learning The Lessons…. You are not ready to move on to another relationship until you can adequately express what went wrong with the last one. Maybe it was simply bad timing, or not enough common interests, but there could have also been loyalty issues, cheating, emotional abuse, bitterness, resentment, anger issues, being unable to commit. The list is long and varied why couples break up, and seldom does the blame just lay on one person. We all bring baggage and issues into our love lives and the key to not repeating the mistakes is recognizing both the bad behaviors in ourselves and our partner. If we are unable to accept responsibility for our choices and our decisions, we are not ready to involve another person in our chaos.

5.      Your Goal Is Revenge – If the only reason for dating again is for the word to get back to your ex, please spare everyone the pain and aggravation. Chances are they won’t care, or worse (for you anyway) be happy for you. You must find a way to let go of the past. Each new decision going forward must be made from a positive place, not a negative one. Focus on reclaiming your happiness and personal vision. Do not lose one more minute of sleep or peace trying to exact revenge on a non-relevant person in your future.

6.      Looking for a Replacement – No one is ever going to be just like your ex, and no two relationships will ever be the same. If your goal is to try and find someone ‘just like him/her’, you are being highly unfair to the new person and setting yourself up for failure. You must allow the next person in your life to be a complete and unique soul. Sure, they may have similar interests, and possibly even the same hair color, but those are random pieces that make up just a part of their whole being. Just like you are irreplaceable, so is your ex.

I understand how important it is to feel relevant, desired and valued again. I want that for you almost as much as you do. The key is to do the work and put in the time to make sure you are ready. Check your motivations. Talk to a close friend if you are unsure and get their take on your emotional barometer. Be honest with yourself before making a decision to involve another’s heart. I promise the day will come when you are ready. Try not to rush the process out of fear or loneliness because it will boomerang right back to where you are now. Be patient and kind to yourself and use this time and experience to grow. Then when the right person walks into your life, you will be a strong and willing partner ready to get back into that empty saddle and ride off into the sunset together.

Hope With Abandon

Hope Out