Monday, January 30, 2017

The Lies We Believe And The Truths We Ignore


PART 1. THE LIES

We all would like to think at our age we know the difference between the truth and a lie. For the most part, we probably do. The years and experience have given us wisdom. We are not so gullible. Yet, some things still have a tendency to trip us up. Cross our wires and make us question our common sense. Or is it just me?

I am guilty. I hate to admit it, but I am. Call it human nature (or frailty), lack of knowledge (at the time) or simply bad decisions, but I have personal experience in every one of the examples. How does that help YOU? Maybe it doesn’t. Maybe you already know these things and wonder why I’m on the slow train. Or maybe, deep inside, we all know them and it is just a good idea to refresh our minds and our hearts. I have learned it is very easy to detect the shortcomings in others but have a more difficult time finding ourselves in the mirror. Go find a mirror and read this out loud.

Lie #1.  If They Love me, They Will Change.

No, they won’t. And if they do, it’s only temporary to get you to shut up. Consider this…. You need a microwave so you head to Target. They have a sale on toaster ovens. So you buy one of them instead and take it home. You open up your favorite Lean Cuisine and pop it in and turn it on. Wait…. You wouldn’t do that. Right? Why? Because you know a toaster oven does not act like a microwave! The look and function is somewhat similar, but it is not a microwave.  It isn’t going to change what it is just because you are hungry, irritated and demanding.

The same basic logic applies to people. When you meet someone and decide they are worth your time and energy to pursue, you are accepting them ‘as is’. This is even more relevant as we get older and more set in our ways. You need to be very clear with yourself about the traits and habits you want or don’t want in a partner. We tend to start out saying we accept and even admire their differences; while deep down we are plotting an intervention. The next person you meet is not signing up for self-improvement classes.

I am not discounting compromise or room for growth. Of course, when you are in a relationship both parties have to be willing to forego, occasionally, something they want in order to please or help out. And meeting someone with differing hobbies and strengths can enable us to enrich our own lives. I probably never would have played disc golf or kayaked if it were not for dating someone that exposed me to those activities.

No, what I’m talking about is pressuring someone to be who they are not, and using love as their motivation.  Asking an introvert to be the life of the party. Wanting a health conscious person to pig out on burgers and deep fried Twinkies.  Expecting someone who likes to binge watch Netflix every weekend on their couch to go run a marathon. Getting upset when the agnostic won’t attend the early service. Putting your date in uncomfortable physical situations just to open their mind. These have nothing to do with love, and everything to do with manipulation.  

And here is the flip side to this. YOU do not have to change to please anyone. Know who you are. Own who you are. If you need to improve or work on things, do it because it will make your heart smile. Never lose yourself just for the sake of finding another. Truly, if they care they will never ask for such a sacrifice. And you should not ask it of someone either.  

Lie #2. It Is Too Late

It is possible to be too late for some things. Your doctor appointment. The plane departure. A work deadline. I am not suggesting being irresponsible. However, never let yourself believe it is too late to start over.

It is not too late to say “I’m sorry”. The offense may have been careless and tiny or possibly a larger betrayal of trust. A friend. A family member. A partner. You may think they have forgotten, or maybe the opposite; it is just too huge to be forgiven. But if YOU are still thinking about it; if it pushes into your thoughts or has affected your interactions with this person, then it is not too late. I can’t promise they will accept. I can’t promise it will restore the relationship. I can promise it will heal your heart. Living with regret over words or actions is an emotional cancer that destroys our joy. Those two words are extremely powerful. Never believe it too late to use them.

It is not too late to improve your health. Even small steps can bring big rewards.  Our bodies are only as good as we cherish and care for them. Even though it is true that bad habits can have long reaching effects, it is also true that some of those effects can be reversed. Weight can be lost. Blood pressure lowered. Exercise started. There is an almost endless supply of help, hints and encouragement to live a healthier lifestyle. There is no age limit and some of the benefits can be felt almost immediately. All it takes is a decision and determination, and you can start on a track to feeling and being more energized and healthier. Today.

It is not too late to pursue your dreams. This is a HUGE. And I’m telling myself this one as I type. Decisions made when we are young often send us down roads we did not expect to travel. Life circumstances seldom turn out the way we hoped. But most of us have ‘something’ that we have always wanted to try. Do not fall into the excuse traps…I’m not smart enough, young enough, thin enough, rich enough, no one would take me seriously. It doesn’t matter what others think. You will never know if you don’t at least try! Learn to dance. Go sky-diving. Sign up for a cooking class. Or a taekwondo class. Travel. Write a song. Audition for a play. Buy a guitar. Or a fiddle. Whatever it is that you have stored in your mind’s attic, take it out, dust it off and TRY IT!

My dear friends, it is easy to spot the obvious lies and deception that we often see in the world around us. And unfortunately there is often little that we can do to change those things. But we are all in a very unique and awesome position to alter the outcome of OUR life. Stop telling yourself and believing things that simply are not true.  Own your life. Own your decisions. Create a beautiful life based in the truth.

And speaking of the truth….next time we will talk about truths that stare us in the face and we ignore their existence. Look past them like they are ghosts. And just like ghosts…they can haunt us if we don’t deal with them.

So until then….


Hope Out!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Dating Profile De-Coder Ring – Get Yours Today!



Raise your hand if you would buy one! I sure would. I’m actually surprised they don’t have an infomercial airing at 3 am showing a wild-eyed woman with frazzled hair sitting in front on a computer trying to sell them. A magical metal instrument that would untangle and translate words from a dating profile. A profile that supposedly was designed to entice and thrill us. And usually, just confuse and dismay us. I was discussing this subject with friends over the weekend. The crazy things people choose to say and share on their profile. It’s ironic to me how in an attempt to put their best foot forward, so many people end up putting it somewhere else. And truthfully revealing things they never intended. I believe there are some distinct patterns and red flags sprinkled throughout certain profiles. I am sharing a few of my observations hoping if we are careful and mindful, we can avoid wasting time.

As a disclaimer, let me just stay up front, that as with all my posts and writings, these are my opinions and personal experiences. I do not claim to have insider knowledge or expert findings. I am sure that every person who may say one or more of these things do not all have the same intent. I would simply suggest caution until you can determine for yourself.

Since I have more experience reading men’s profiles; I’ll start there.

“Looking For Fun” Most of the time this does not mean going to the movies or playing putt-putt. Simply put, they want sex. It just sounds less abrasive to say they are looking for fun. Most of us are looking for fun or we wouldn’t be online in the first place; so we can easily get pulled into their play on words.  Just know when this appears first in the profile where the direction of the conversation may be heading.

“Open Minded” This is closely tied to ‘looking for fun’. Being opened minded or looking for someone open minded, again, sounds like a good thing. Keeping options open. Not stuck in a routine. However, most of the time, this phrase is used to describe a sort of sexual freedom. Either they are in a relationship and want to play on the side. Or they are ok if YOU are in a relationship and want to play on the side. Or they just simply want to play on the kinkier side. I will submit no judgments; just ask the right questions before proceeding too far here.

“Wanted: Good Hearted Woman” This poor guy has been hurt. I am not suggesting he isn’t ready to try again, but the wounds are fresh. He is saying right up front that he needs someone gentle and easy on his heart and ego; a tender and patient partner. He may be a great guy, just know he might still be healing.

“Friendship First” Unless you are on an arranged marriage site; no sane person expects the first date to end in a relationship. But the idea IS to date; not find a walking buddy. This guy is not looking for a relationship and is shoring up his position that he just wants to hang out and coast along. There are so many girls out there ready to run full speed ahead that he feels it necessary to put the brakes on before starting the engine. Again, he may be lovely and sincere, just don’t get your hopes up if you are looking for more.

“Takes Care of Herself” This does not mean eating more fruits and vegetables and avoiding saturated fats. This is about appearance. I know looks are important. To everyone. And we all have the right to our preferences and tastes. But this guy has a specific look he likes. He spends a lot of time on himself and his look and he wants his girl to do the same. Which is fine. Just know going in what is expected of you.

“No Drama” This guy will not want to share his feelings with you. He has probably been with someone who forced fed him conversations and arguments and manipulations. Like the good-hearted guy, he most likely felt trapped and couldn’t wait to be free again. He wants stress free and chill happy moments. If you like things stirred up, leave this guy alone in peace.

“No Baggage” Unless he is looking to date an alien or socially awkward hermit, everyone our age has baggage. It may be a cute carry-on that can fit under the seat or a large trunk with reinforced steel, but we never leave a relationship without some emotional sediment clinging to our heart. Now we can’t hand this baggage on to the next person and expect them to carry it around for us. We have to handle it ourselves. But if the next guy isn’t willing to take you as you are, send him on his way.

“Never Married/No Kids” If he has reached the age of 50 and has never gotten married or raised kids, then there are certain personality traits that could be missing from his emotional repertoire. Marriage, even the bad ones, teaches compromise and flexibility. Raising children teaches sacrifice and priorities. If all he has ever had to worry about is himself, then probably all he will ever worry about is himself. (Again, I do not suggest this applies to everyone. However, I do believe it is worth mentioning.)

And finally…. if they don’t take the time to write anything at all then they are not serious. They are just hoping for something to fall in their lap. (Which may or may not happen when you are around.) Things that fall easily into ones lap can easily slip off again. Don’t bother.

Now I will spend a few minutes on the woman’s side. As a note, I do NOT have any of these in my profile. (At least not now.)

“Must have…. Must be able to…. Must”….It appears that many women start off their profiles with a list of must haves. It is good to have standards. One cannot date below them if they don’t have them. But compiling a daunting list of requirements before you even say hello can make a guy weary. Like he knows he will never live up to it all before he even starts. (And don’t list all the crimes of the ex. Bitterness is not pretty.)

“Be Financially Secure” While it is understandable that a woman does not want to take a man to raise and support, this statement tends to lean towards a more materialistic view. She wants him to have money. Maybe even some for her. Plus it is very subjective. One person’s definition can mean having enough on the debit card for the Zaxby’s drive-thru.

“Wanted: Tall Knight In Shining Armor” First of all, they make shining armor in short and medium too, so let’s not discriminate. Girls don’t like it when guys ask for a specific desired physical attribute. We shouldn’t do it either. Besides, referencing a character from a fairy tale is not the way to attract a guy. At least not a normal one.

So I’m not sure if I helped or not. I guess it is unfair to try and determine someone’s intentions. But when looking to meet someone online, you only have a few sentences to gain enough information to decide if you want to spend your valuable time pursuing more. Unfortunately, there really isn’t a magical decoder ring issued with a dating profile membership. Be smart. Trust your gut.  Don’t see things that aren’t there, no matter how much you want them to be there. Don’t Give Up….but Don’t Give In!


Hope Out!

www.hopeboulevard.com 

Friday, January 13, 2017

She's A Brick House



I have danced to this 1977 Commodores disco dance floor classic countless times. My singles group has its own personal DJ…Spin Master Clint. He always plays it at least once during our get togethers and it is a huge hit guaranteed to get everyone up and moving. I will admit though, that at face value, the lyrics are a bit sexist. And confusing. What exactly is the thought process behind comparing a woman to an outside toilet constructed of bricks? The origins, of course, trace back to the phrase … “built like a brick outhouse”. (Less refined blogs use a different term.) But still a question remains; what is the significance of a brick outhouse?  So off to do some research.

Back in the early days of outhouses; (as if there really was such a thing) they were mostly thrown up with scrap lumber. Basically nothing more than a lean-to providing only a minimum of privacy. Over time they were upgraded to an actual enclosed structure, but still made of wood.  Thomas Jefferson is credited with breaking that trend. He decided to have the outhouses for his vacation home in Colonial Williamsburg built with bricks. Soon it became popular with those having the means to step it up a bit and follow his example! So one of the original references to being built like a brick outhouse was to describe something constructed to a higher standard or a level above the common and ordinary. Now THAT is a definition most women would probably appreciate.

Of course, Lionel and his band definitely had a different and looser interpretation of the phrase. Truth be told (but never admitted) many women wouldn’t mind fitting the description of those song lyrics. The woman appears to be quite popular. Yet I propose we look at things from a more literal translation. I would like to suggest that regardless of her measurements, any woman can and should strive to be built like a brick house. And here is why….

A brick house is one of the most solid and dependable dwellings one can have. It is beautiful yes, but far more work and substance goes into the construction of a brick house. And as women, we need to have similar characteristics to be successful and thrive in this world.

The first thing required is a blue print. The contractor cannot just show up on Day One and start pouring random concrete. That would create an unstable and spectacular mess. He needs plans. The architect has to have invested time laying out the strategy and design. You are the architect of your life. You are responsible for the blue print of your future. How often to you consider the purpose and direction you are headed? Please be mindful on your life’s layout.   

Next is the foundation. A brick house needs a sturdy foundation. This requires deep trenches and solid reinforcing bars. Having a reliable support system to steady our lives is very important. We cannot navigate this world very well alone. Our family, friends, heritage and faith help create an encircled bedrock that forms a lasting base. They stablize us and keep us level and standing firm in our resolve.

Then we must pick the right materials. The most popular type of brick is the extruded fired variety. This process has been around since 3000 BC. It involves clay being forced through an opening in a steel die. This produces a very consistent size and shape. They are then burned in a kiln. This ‘going through the fire’ makes them strong and able to withstand wind and storm. They resist termites. Hold Heat. Provide sound insulation.

What type of brick are you?? Have you been forced through trying times? Made it through the pressure? Felt the heat of struggles and pain. Good for you! It has made you who you are. Strong. Facing the storm head on. Resistant to the pests that try to eat away at your soul or heart. Insulated from the words of discouragement and negativity that others may say to you. Take courage through the conflict. You are being molded into something beautiful.

So now you are ready. You have a blueprint. The foundation is poured and the best bricks are ready. Now it is time to put it all together. It is a slow and methodical process. Each brick has to be laid one at a time. A steady progression of courage, energy, confidence. Masons use a plumb line or a large spirit level to make sure the walls are perfectly vertical. I absolutely LOVE the term Spirit Level. How awesome  that it is our spirit that keeps us level and on the right track. Such a great analogy. And with each swipe of the mortar, the building takes shape. Standing on its own. Proud and independent.

That’s not quite the end though. Because a completed brick house doesn’t just sit empty. It provides shelter, warmth and protection for those inside. Who do you shelter in your life? Who depends on you for peace and comfort? Who do you block from the storm? You are more powerful, important and resilient then you ever imagined. Read that again and believe it.

So I guess I have completely destroyed the context of this fun and beloved song. Or…. maybe just added another layer (of bricks…. Get it?). Anyway, hopefully the next time you hear this song, along with the joy of the dance, you will envision yourself a beautiful, secure and amazing creation.

So here’s to all the ladies!

Go Be Mighty! Mighty!

Ain’t Holding Nothing Back!

Cause

YOU’RE A BRICK HOUSE!

Hope Out

Friday, January 6, 2017

Day of Epiphany


When I flipped open my new 2017 calendar this week there was a holiday listed for today; January 6th. The Day of Epiphany. I will admit to my ignorance and I did not know what this was. But I KNEW there was a blog in there somewhere. Had to be. One week into the New Year is the perfect time to have a Day of Epiphany.

Just to show that I did my research; the Day of Epiphany in Greek Orthodox traditionally represents the day the Three Kings (Magi) found the Baby Jesus. In Greek; ‘epiphany’ is a verb that means ‘to appear’ or a ‘sudden revelation’. The Christian significance sets this as the day commemorating when Baby Jesus was ‘revealed’ as Lord and King to the Magi. They were the first Gentiles to publicly recognize His Divinity.

Fast forward into modern culture and the word now is known as having an “AHA” moment. That point when things come to a screeching halt in your mind and you are faced with a decision. You understand that enough is enough. Things need to be different. It seems easy enough to claim an epiphany experience. But just like saying the new diet starts tomorrow or no more cigarettes; just saying we had an epiphany doesn’t actually mean we did. Why is that?

If I were to ask most of you what would be one or two things needing to change in your life and why; you would have an answer. We know we need to eat better; exercise more. Get control of our bills/debt. We understand the importance of having safe and healthy relationships. We can logically detail the steps required to make change. But those steps are very steep and slippery. It feels safer on solid and familiar ground. Even if that ground is painful or even destructive. Unfortunately, as humans, we would rather hold on to a familiar ‘bad’ then strike out for an unfamiliar ‘good’.  It is very sad when we short change ourselves like that.

And then there is the guilt.

With every great need for change; comes the realization that we are somehow involved, even to blame a bit. In the mix. Contributory. As we shine the floodlight on the problem, inevitably it swings back until we are in view as well. We have to own our part in the mess. And the messier it is, the more likely we are to believe it isn’t worth the trouble to fix. That is flawed processing though and we must fight it.  It is ok to recognize your role. Only then can you reverse it.

It appears I may have painted a gloomy Day Of Epiphany. Not my intention at all. But in order to tackle a situation we need to first understand our obstacles. So now that we are prepared; let’s move on and discuss a few epiphanies we all need to have today. 

#1 – You Will Never Please Everyone.

Coming from a people pleaser; this is a very hard one to acknowledge. Often the term ‘people-pleaser’ is mis-represented. Like we are in line for saint hood because we want everyone around us to be happy. That’s not always the case. Sometimes we just want to please people so they will leave us alone. Or not cause a scene. Or maybe not have to stand up for ourselves. But whatever the reason, the bottom line is, it is impossible to make everyone happy. That can hurt too, especially if we are trying to please a family member (s). I am a huge family person and I try to do right by all of them. However I am blessed with a great set of kinfolk so it’s easy. I do not believe that just because you have the same DNA as another you must sacrifice who you are to meet their standards if they are unreasonable or detrimental. It can be especially hard to know we have disappointed a parent or our children. I truly understand that each situation is as individual as the sands, but I do want you to embrace the freedom that comes from realizing it is not YOUR job to make everyone happy. It is YOUR job to live your best life as you make this journey. Be true to yourself and walk peacefully. The rest will fall into place.

#2. Your To Do List Will Never Be Completed

I don’t have a hard time with this one. The solution for me is to never HAVE a to do list. But I know that I may be in the minority on this one. Most people I know have an endless daily agenda of things to accomplish. We have reminders on our phone. Cards attached to our fridge. Stickies on the bathroom mirror. We can’t escape it! Don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting you forget to pick up your dry cleaning or milk and let the dishes pile up in the sink. But I am here to remind you that child or sweetheart that wants a hug or the friend that needs to talk is just as important. If not more so. We can spend our entire lives “doing” things yet never actually “living”. Checking another task off our list shouldn’t define our worth. Find the balance. Have some fun. Release yourself of the self-imposed sentence of trying to be perfect or Super Woman/Man. You were super just the way you woke up this morning. Learn to believe that.

#3. You Deserve Better (But only if you really do)

I recently listened to a radio talk show host say she hated the phrase; ‘I Deserve Better’. It took me listening for quite a while to understand what she meant. We will flippantly throw out that statement about how we deserve better then what we have. But seldom do we make the right decisions or do the hard work required to actually make ‘better’ happen. If we are content or complacent with what we have or where we are, and just want to complain about it, but not do anything about it, then maybe we do deserve what we have. BUT I submit to you that if you are in a difficult or disagreeable situation, please BELIEVE that you can make a change. And that it IS worth the effort.

There are many examples, but I will use the one of being in an unhealthy relationship. It doesn’t even have to be bad, just not good for you right now. You make excuses. Or rationalize. Blame yourself as mentioned above. Fear of being alone or starting over seems overwhelming. But my dear friends, do not fall for those emotional lies. Do not allow someone to dull your sparkle or block your life’s road. I know it is extremely clique…. But today is the first day of the rest of your life. Choose to take back the control and imagine a brighter future. Stronger Joy. Deeper Connections. More Respect. Even if you have to start over and be alone. There are few things harder or scarier. Trust me, I know. But there are also few things more satisfying then knowing you took care of yourself; your business; your life. That you are strong and capable and amazing. The boost to your inner self is incomparable and will carry you through the uncertain times. I challenge you to test that.

Ok, I have rambled on enough. I guess it should be my epiphany to know when to stop typing. But I hope in some small way I have encouraged someone to take that first step. We play up the concept of epiphanies, as if they are grand and momentous. Suppose they can be. But I find the best way to make a change, is one step at a time. One day at a time. One AHA at a time.

Here’s to your AHA Day!

Hope Out

www.hopeboulevard.com

https://www.facebook.com/hope.boulevard.54

Monday, January 2, 2017

Thank You!!



Hello and Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a safe and fun holiday! There have been hundreds of posts and quotes and collages from wonderful and beautiful people celebrating and spreading wishes and blessings this New Year Season. I find it quite heartwarming and uplifting. It is encouraging to realize that no matter what we go through as individuals, families, friends, cities or even a nation, there is something about January 1st that is so refreshing. Realistically we understand it is just another day on the calendar of our lives. But idealistically it is a chance to re-evaluate and re-group. Affirm what we are doing right and tweak things maybe off the track a bit.

For me at this moment, what I most want to say today is THANK YOU!

Last January I started this blog. It was clumsy and rambling. At times, it still is. It had a different name, and probably even a different purpose. A few days ago I re-read my first post. I jumped into this new adventure full force. But it (Or I should say… I) had its ups and downs. In the beginning I wrote all the time. I was bursting with stories and pent up thoughts and opinions. The floodgates opened. The funny thing about floodgates though is eventually the water slows down to a trickle. As did my exploits and musings.  I panicked a little. What would I say now? Who was listening anyway? And that is where my big THANK YOU comes in.

Because no matter what I wrote. No matter the grammar mistakes or rabbit trails, YOU have consistently supported me. From the moment I hit my very first ‘publish’ button, I have been amazed and tremendously grateful for the positive reinforcements. All the likes, shares, comments. Everyone who made a point to tell me in person or send me a text when something touched them or brought a smile. There are not adequate words to express what that meant to me. Seriously. I am beyond humbled and still blown away at times of the graciousness bestowed upon me. And it was those encouragements that kept me going.

I had weeks, even months-long dry spells. I avoided my computer. Binged watched stupid shows on Netflix. Found things to do to convince myself that I was too busy to write any more. But in the back of my mind I didn’t want to quit. Or fail. I was scared to continue and scared to move forward. Anyone else ever been there? I set deadlines that I missed. Imposed goals that I blew off. As if life didn’t intimate me enough, I managed to do it to myself.

And yet YOU were still out there. Asking me when I was writing again. Saying you missed it. Pushing me forward. Telling me to never give up. So the key to never giving up, is to never give up. It’s quite simple actually. One day at a time. In my case, one word at a time. So here I am, the start of 2017 continuing my journey. With some new ideas…

I have decided to take a leap of faith. I have created a Hope Boulevard website. (www.hopeboulevard.com). Now trust me when I say that I have no website building experience. It is simplistic and elementary in this infant stage. But to my surprise, the domain name was still available. That has to be a sign. At this point, it is just basically another forum to post my blog. But I did add one feature. Stepping Stones to Joy.

I want to use this section to provide tips, quotes, ideas to help each of us increase our happiness. One step at a time. I’m still working out the kinks, but I want it to be a place where you can go and find something positive and uplifting. Maybe humorous. Inspiration. HOPE. I welcome ideas or contributions.

And last but not least, I wanted to create a Virtual Blessing Jar.

A dear friend of mine had a few of us over to her house for a Blessing Jar event. She supplied mason jars and decorative supplies and we spent the evening creating a holder for our blessings. The idea is to start at the first of the year. Whenever something good or memorable happens, write it on a piece of paper and put it in the jar. At the end of the year all the pieces are dumped out and read. As a great reminder of all the joys, accomplishments and blessings.

I thought it would be a wonderful idea to have a virtual blessing jar where anyone who chooses can post a good thought, blessing, word of encouragement. So I have made a Facebook page. It is named Hope Boulevard, but it is a Virtual Blessing Jar. As many of you that want can be friends on the page. It is to be used exclusively to post positive things. We can check in whenever we need a emotional lift. Or to share our own blessings. I hope many of you will want to get on board! 

Have I bitten off too much? Probably. Just like the 20 extra pounds I want to lose. Day 2 of the diet is fading with a half eaten donut on my table. I don’t know that I will succeed or be consistent. But I do know that I will try. Harder on some days then others, but still try. And I want you guys to try too.

Find something positive. Find something good. Look for ways to pay it forward. Seek opportunities to get outside of your struggles to help someone with theirs. Let’s all journey on Hope Boulevard together. Let’s all take those one small steps at a time towards our dreams and goals. Let’s name our blessings and share them.

I know this isn’t my typical blog entry. I hope I will be forgiven. But I wanted to share with you the vision I have to get out of my own way and attempt to do something just simple and good. And I want to let each of you know that all of this is possible because of YOU.

Thank you for being in my corner. I hope to be able to return the favor, today and many days going forward.

Hope Out!