You Can’t Have It All

I wanted it all when I was younger, but now I know that I cannot have it all. The “all” I am talking about is anything really. The perfect house, the best relationships, the ideal job and the list is endless. When I was younger I was wildly ambitious, invincible, courageous, tenacious and fierce. This changed as I got older. Not to say that I am less of these traits but certainly different. As my priorities took form, I started to come terms with the idea that I cannot have it all. The ideal of everything, started to morph into the reality of everything instead. 

I choose to focus my energy on very specific values and principles, and where my focus goes my energy flows. My energy is what gets me to where I want to be in the future. I build my foundation of my life with the energy I create in the world. My emotions help me turn my energy into action then turning my beliefs into reality. I do not have an abundant amount of energy for all of the things in my life and I don’t subscribe to the idea that people have a limitless amount of energy. I know that there is only so much time in the day and so much tolerance from needless noise in life from external forces. If I want to accomplish certain goals I need to be frugal with my energy and time, that means that some people, situations, experiences and opportunities are going to be left behind. What is left behind is not a loss, it is simply a matter of math.

I do a cost benefit analysis of the priorites/people in my life every so often. I look at my situations, relationships and where my future is going and decide what is worth my energy. You simply cannot dedicate yourself to everything and everyone without burning out. Have an honest look at the reality of the situaitons and people in your life, this is a good guide post to where your focus should go. Living in a fantasy world or having great expectations about your life and the people in it destroys your ability to set proper goals. 

In my life my expectations of people were blinding me to who they really were. This set me up for some serious heartache when my energy was wasted from my goodwill or trying to mend or justify arguments. I wanted people to be who I thought they were, not who they actually were. I didn’t give people the space to show me who they were before judging them and not accepting their real selves, in turn branding them with a new personality that fit better to mine. I wanted it all. The perfect relationships, the kind that fit only me. I remedied this by listening to people and hearing how they told on themselves, piecing together their true personalities. The more I listen, the better I am able to make room for others where they belong not where I think they should be.

I peeled off the expectations and the masks I put on others, and organically situations flowed. That meant a little more work on my part, to get closer to achieving healthier and more honest relationships.

My values dictate my way of life and my priorities path the roads I travel on. Just because there are roadblocks, diversions and other nonsense, doesn’t mean I have to quit at what I want to accomplish. Sometimes, I pivot, reorganize or simply rest to feel re-energized again. Just because one area of my life is bad doesn’t mean all is lost. There is good in some of my life and not so good in other parts. I decide where I want to improve, and where or when it is not worth my energy.

One area of my life worth my energy is my marriage but I had some serious expectations of what my married life would look like, how my in-laws would be, how many kids I would have, and where I would live. Nothing turned out like I thought it would, because I don’t have the energy for it all. I have to compromise. There are somethings in my life that are exactly what I wanted and others quite the opposite. The things that I am thrilled with have compounded even more joy from the contrast of the things I don’t have. Let the things that you feel you should have, be the way that they are. You don’t have it because your energy is somewhere else. If you don’t like where your energy is flowing, consider where your focus is growing, that is where your life is going.

Life is not a race it is a marathon. Every chapter in life has its own title, story, plot line and characters. Do not compare your unique chapters with anyone else. Life is different day to day, month to month, year to year and unique only to you. Allow what comes and keep the energy flowing where it needs to be, everything else will unfold.

“You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometime
You’ll find
You get what you need”

– The Rolling Stones 

What is your Why?

Why exercise?… is what I ask myself every time I lace my running shoes or roll out my yoga mat. I ask myself this question, set an intention for my workout and my body responds with vibrant energy. My shoes at my front door are always smiling at me, my mat rolled up in my living room giving me a wink when I pass by, and my headphones always at the ready at any given moment of the day.

Why I exercise?

It is constant and reliable. 

It is the surety of a good feeling. It is a time for clarity, self reflection and detoxification. Setting an intention for every run or yoga practice keeps things fresh and alive. I like to think of the issues in my life and set an intention of kindness, compassion, clarity or whatever else I need before every exercise to clear the energy in my body, that these conflicts are creating. The movement alone purifies me, and once the run or yoga practice are done, I am cleansed and feel new. 

But on days that I have no energy and feel burnt out I ask…

Why I Exercise?

Because I can! That reason alone shifts my attitude and realigns my energy to a positive space. 

And when I look in the mirror I ask… 

Why I Exercise? 

My body is worth the care. My body deserves movement and proper nutrition. My body deserves respect. 

I have always been keenly aware of the way people treat me when I am a little overweight or when I know I am looking good. Body image is not my intention for exercising. Even though I know that working out can make you feel better about the way you look, I don’t want to put myself in a box. I don’t buy into a certain body shape or ideal. I want my intention for working out to come from a place that doesn’t include others opinions of my body, it is a personal journey for me. If others enjoy my results, that has nothing to do with my intent. 

On days that I feel bored or uninspired I ask…

Why I exercise?

To get high.

I love to feel alive. I used to love partying and drinking. Even though I don’t have alcohol in my life anymore, I still celebrate my life in other ways. The thrill of partying, music and people can sometimes be the same high experienced when exercising.

There are moments on my run when I stop and just take the world in, heart throbbing, hands sweating, legs burning and I think to myself there is nothing better than this pain right now, because I feel every second of it. My muscles loose and my energy high.

My body both crying to stop, and yearning for more. 

Pleasure and pain, all in one. 

This is my why. 

Why do you Exercise? 

3 Ways To Deal: When Life Is Unfair

When I experience unfairness or injustice my body feels it instantly. My fight/flight mode kicks in, anger and fear bubble like a volcano. I stew with anxiety, and if left unchecked I feel depressed for some time, until I soak in a proper dose of reality and some exercise. 

Fairness is subjective. Life is not fair because it is not supposed to be. Life is competitive short and painful. I think it is important to come terms with this, and not perpetuate the suffering by dwelling and complaining. Complaining about the unfairness of life is pouring salt on a wound. Here are some things I like to do when a door is slammed in my face, or a promotion sails by my office desk, or when I simply cannot take the injustice anymore of anything in my life. 

  • Exercise 

When that anger or rage fills my body the best thing I do for myself is get up and move. Sometimes unfairness hits you when you are burnt out and it seems counterintuitive to move, but it is important to do so to remove yourself of all the stress hormones raging through your body. Go for a run, a walk, bike ride or simply move around your house. When you perceive injustice or unfairness your body responds with anger and fear, get some fresh air and move to get rid of the toxins. A change of scenery and movement helps your body and mind relax. 

  • Create a Goal and Achieve It

Competition is something we all live with. Comparing our lives with others is just part of living in society. Now with social media it is more prevalent than ever before. Most of our unfair views come from our expectations that we should have what everyone else has. But we don’t know how others have achieved their perceived success. Luck over hard work has a lot to do with success, and that is something no one is able to control. When I create a goal, big or small and actually achieve it, this helps me achieve a sense of control over my life. I try to be in competition with the only person I should be, with myself. Your life should not be in competition with anyone else but yourself, the most important task is developing your own self worth so that your perception of fairness is not so obtuse that complaining dominates your life. Success is handed out unfairly, so setting your own personal goals that are attainable are important to satisfy your self esteem and live a fulfilled life.

  • Practice Gratitude

When you can’t get the things you want, appreciate the things you have. There have been many moments in my life when I thought that I would just quit because things seemed so unfair. But then I stopped and thought about all the things that I have accumulated getting to that point, and only when I stopped and looked back I realized how much richness I have in my life. When you feel like you need or want something other than what you presently have, you will always see life as unfair. Chasing success, material things and status is addictive. Constantly looking forward, never looking back is a vicious cycle creating a scarce mind set and unsatisfied life. Maybe my life isn’t exactly the way I want it but it also isn’t exactly the way I don’t want it. Life is subjective and fairness is subjective. What I have, someone else would kill for, so it isn’t all doom and gloom. There are so many surprises that come out of not getting what you want, these sometimes can turn out to be the biggest blessings of your life.  Be grateful because you never know what is coming next.

Life is complex, with many obstacles, and nothing is for certain. Life wasn’t meant to be fair, but it definitely is beautiful and worth it. By accepting the realities of your own life and looking at unfair moments as opportunities to grow and learn your body and mind will interact in a healthier way.

Don’t resist change.

The only way out is through. 

“The only thing that makes life unfair

is the delusion that it should be fair.”

– Steve Maraboli 

Gaslights, Light The Way

It is undeniable the damage a gaslighter can do if you get too close to their fire. Reality to me is something that is uncontested truth. I like facts, words and the concreteness of things. To some, reality is merely an illusion that is simply energy, a perisistent illusion. I think of reality as something that is real and existent as opposed to something that is imaginery, it is the totality of a system, known and unknown. Physcial objects, tangible and real things make up reality. I like to play with the “what-ifs” and the “what could be” once in a while, but I certainly am not blind to the “what-is” in my life.

But what happens when someone tries to undermine your entire perception of reality? 

Throughout my life I have met all sorts of people, from different backgrounds from my travels and even in my own city through school, work and different love relationships. The personalities that have helped solidify my own perception of myself the most where the… gaslighters. 

Gaslighters communicate in way that leave you feeling dazed, and make you question if there is something wrong with you.

Gaslighting is basically underming your reality. It is about power and control. Some basic tactics are minimizing your thoughts and feelings, deflecting and shifting blame, denying wrongdoing, using compassion as a weapon and twisting and reframing conversations. It is the behaviour not the person that I don’t tolerate. I believe that everyone can do better. I am not perfect myself and have caught myself torching others with these tactics. Awareness is key.

Gaslighters have shown me my light.

In the past I  have entertained opinions about my character and put them on to wear but they never fit. The negative realities and the perceptions that were not my own were itchy, uncomfortable and never sat well with me. I am not against constructive criticism but there is a fine line. My judgments and perceptions are my own to express no matter what the other person feels. If this is challenged to the point that I have lost my opinions and feelings and adopted the other persons perceptions this is no longer a true representation of my world. 

When my husband and I decided to change and grow and pursue a healthy life including going booze free, I thought we would receive only postive feedback. To my surprise that wasn’t the case, and not only did we receive negative feedback, but we found ourselves isolated for a while from people we thought we could trust and support us.

For a time I was confused but then I realized that I have a voice and I have the right to express it. I was able to carry my truth of my reality only when I wasn’t afraid to lose people that didn’t allow me to grow in my life and I let them go. 

Let the gaslighters carry their perception of you by themselves, you don’t need to burden yourself with other peoples opinions of you. I am glad I ditched those torches. That was not my baggage.

I think that if you make a commitment to your reality, and what you think your future should look like, this is more important than how others perceive you. I now understand that no matter how hard you try to please others, or try to explain your perspective and feelings, it is not worth losing your power and your sense of self.

You own your right to make space in the world and show up in a way that celebrates who you are. Raw, unfiltered and real. Too many times I have let my self-image, my persistence to please and my fear, take my voice away. Now I see, that even if I generate positive energy, make myself healthier or try to contribute for the good, there will always be opposition and that reality has nothing to do with me. It takes a gaslighter sometimes to show you the light, to help you solidify your own truth and give you strength to never allow anyone to dim your light again.

Hold that torch high.

Keep shining.

Keep moving. 

You Got This!

From Avoiding Conflict to Fighting Fair

I don’t know about you but I love a good argument. I am always down to figure out difficult solutions, accept disagreements, try to understand obtuse ideas, far out perspectives and extreme scenarios of any kind. Within reason of course.

I like to freely air out grievances, get things off my chest. I think this is very healthy for growth. 

I love to assert my ideas and defend my perspectives, guard my values and principles. But when it comes down to the hard uncomfortable real life confrontations, I seem to always do a playback of what was said. I find that the difficult conversations that we have with people bring so much more than just words. The adrenaline rush that comes with fighting, always finds its way to my throat first before reason, or kind words. Over the years I have sharpened my communication skills as opposed to my tongue, to navigate fair fights with the people in my life. 

In any scenario it is always good to have some tools in your pocket to help you get through a fight in a fair way. Strong unwanted words cannot be unsaid and the bad vibes that linger, stay until a new secure relationship takes its place post battle. Unwanted, strong harsh words and feelings are exhausting, damaging and easily avoided. 

Here are some tools for fighting fair: 

Set the Stage 

If you confront someone or if someone confronts you, either unexpectedly or planned, be prepared to set some ground rules. These could include, no swearing, no yelling, no name-calling or whatever you need to make you feel safe and calm. 

Also pick a place to fight. Ask the person to meet you in a spot that makes you feel calm and safe. If you are confronted immediately step back and ask to postpone the meeting for some other time. If this is not possible, visualize a calm safe space, this will take you out of your fight/flight mode and help you tap into your reasoning brain, which will help you communicate more effectively. 

I like to talk hard uncomfortable stuff in nature, a walk in the park or just out on my front porch. I find it calming and a very neutral space for all that hard energy to dissipate. But if that is not an option, try a space that you have been before that makes you feel good, a coffee shop, a certain room in your house or even an area in a building, like a lobby. The calmer and safer the space the better your mind will react to strong emotions. 

Express your Needs and Negotiate Solutions 

In a perfect world my fights would always end with me as the winner. I like to right fight. I would beat my chest and say, “I told you so!” for all the world to hear, periodically through the day to boost my mood and ego. Ok, STOP! That’s nonsense, because we all know that we grow from change and that change also includes having difficult conversations with people and that doesn’t include being right or winning an argument.

Some of my biggest growth spurts came from serious fights with family members, co-workers, bosses and boyfriends. The raw emotion that travels through a confrontation has a powerful way to rewire our brains, perspective and to allow us to get to the next level of maturity. In all this raw emotion though you have to find strength to  express your needs and cannot lose your sense of dignity, integrity and respect for the other person. 

Sometimes our confrontations happen organically with people not from anything we have done but simply because others are not allowing you to grow. You need to know how to express your needs and negotiate solutions during and post confrontations. You need to establish what you need for yourself as you grow and communicate this to people. Nobody can read your mind. Building healthy boundaries is key to navigating a fair fight, because then you know what your breaking point is and what your limitations are. You need to express these limitations explicitly, so that solutions can be tailored to your specific personality needs and that all parties experience a sense of fairness. 

Know When to Walk Away

All confrontations are worth exploring, even if it is just for personal growth. But some fights are not worth it. Sometimes you just need to walk  away. 

In the book Mastery by Robert Greene the chapter, Suffer fools gladly Greene illustrates how sometimes it is not worth your energy to entertain a difficult relationship with people who have foolish personalities and make cooperation impossible. He gives a description of a fool as a person that is money grabbing, obsessed with their public image, has short term thinking, ego driven, ruled by insecurities and gets little done to name a few. Greene advises, “if they are causing you trouble, you must neutralize the harm they do by keeping a steady eye on your goals and what is important, and ignoring them if you can.” – (Mastery Robert Greene) Sometimes we all act a fool, and giving people the benefit of the doubt should come first before walking away. But, when it is impossible to entice your opponent to a fair fight due to their innate difficult personality then it is worth the walk, because a dirty fight always leaves the deepest scars that take the longest to heal. 

Fight often. 

Fight Fair. 

Grow. 

How Do you Know the Things you Know?

Do you ever get the feeling you know something just because you feel like you know?

You think or see something and you automatically have a strong feeling of familiarity about it. It could be a person, a place, something you read or something someone has said to you.

Like you have been there before, or the thing that you heard you keep hearing it everywhere.

You tell yourself you don’t know how you know… but you know!

I always want to believe that what I am told is what someone actually means and that their intentions are aligned with their actions, but I know that isn’t always the case because people lie to themselves and also to others. So, how do you determine how you feel about someone if you can’t take their word for it? Can intuition guide you to proper knowing?

I read about intuition and have always tried tapping into it. But really I don’t know what I’m looking for or what I should be feeling. My guess of what intuition is, is that if it doesn’t feel right, to fight or flight. That is my basic understanding of intuition. As my self development journey deepened, I realized most of what I knew was because I experienced these situations/people before. I was becoming aware of my patterns and they all seemed so familiar. The familiarity made it feel like I knew things without real knowing.

I think when you think you know something it could be that you are recognizing a pattern.

But, it could also be misleading breeding ignorance planting seeds of arrogance. Even though I think I know quite a bit through learned experiences, travel and even my education, there is also so much unknown that I reject just simply because I think I know.

I recently read the book The Whole Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel. It is a parenting book that describes what happens to the brain when emotional areas and logical reasoning are disintegrated. The book presents simple techniques to help children manage big emotions and make better decisions by integrating the various parts of the brain. The book also highlights that the experiences we have wire our brain structure. One of the techniques that Dr Siegel uses is called “name it to tame it.” In this strategy the child would retell an upsetting event in his/her own words, and this takes the event from a completely emotional, experience-based memory and applies order to the experience. The child’s perspective is changed and the event is approached more logically.

I wonder how many of my knowing’s come from upsetting events that haven’t been properly processed to make logical sense, and now those feelings are driving a skewed intuition.

Along my alcohol-free journey, I started integrating my logical and emotional brain by looking at some of the narrative that I replay in my head. As I rewrite some of the stories, I’ve realized I didn’t know as much as I thought I did.

I still have so much more to learn and so much to make sense of.

There is so much going on in our brains when we try to convince ourselves of something that we know. Bias, hunger, mood, the weather, hormones, sleep, past experiences, the conditioning of an education system, memory retention, pain and so much more contributes to our perception of knowing. Next time you think you know something without knowing why or how, ask yourself to rewind the scenario and tease out why you might feel, think that way and you might get a different answer. 

Check your story, think before you know. 

Living in Black and White

Perspective is one word I always incorporated in my toolbox to stay healthy. However, I have to admit that my default thinking is in black and white. This is a work in progress. I do travel down the road of all or nothing, yes or no, good or bad and I like this, or I don’t like that. A lot of this thinking comes from my need for comfort and familiarity. My safe space determines if I have decided emphatically that something is for me or against me. This has not worked for me in the past and still continues to cause me frustration today, so I remind myself to step into the gray whenever this thinking creeps into my headspace. 

Expectations of situations have a lot to do with how I think about situations as they unfold. Before I give anything, a person, a place a chance I determine if I like it, it is good, what I expect from it and the thoughts and criticisms trail on. I label it, I box it and store it away. With this type of thinking I miss the opportunity to truly accept things for what they are. I miss the point completely and don’t see clearly until many months or even years later I reach an “Aha!” moment and true perspective erupts on its own with time and experience. Although I appreciate my experiences and embrace learning over time, the slow momentum of seeing truth in situations and people started bothering me. I needed another way. 

I don’t really think that there are any easy solutions to growing your perspective to achieve a favorable or more clear view, but for me travel did help. I travelled and lived in Argentina for a while and this encouraged deep listening. I didn’t understand Spanish fluently, so I leaned on listening to body language, reading emotions from faces, and once language started sitting a little better with me, stories of different local people. The vibrant culture of Argentinians penetrated my closed mind and I was forced to take on different perspectives. When I build perspective today, I step into a different space by truly listening. Listening without necessarily responding in an instant is something I think today is underrated and a tool that is not practiced enough. Taking everything in and sitting with it for a moment is remarkable. When I listen to myself, the environment and people I drop the labels and stop categorizing putting things in a proper viewpoint.

Living in black and white is kind of like living in a maze. In the words of Margaret Atwood, “A rat in a maze is free to go anywhere, as long as it stays inside the maze.” (Atwood et al. The Handmaid’s Tale) The maze is a closed mind and it doesn’t have any alternative paths or avenues for thoughts. Today, I embrace the unknown, I listen and keep an open mind no matter the landscape. I practice compassion before I take out the boxes to label and store away with judgment and finality. I try to tease out all possible standpoints and go where the situation or person leads me because after all, what I create to be my truth is not necessarily what is. I have the power to discern the truth but only when I start to paint my point of view with a little more color. 

Taking things personally

Emotional intelligence is learned over time.

When I started my self care journey, I started noticing some character traits about myself that I haven’t paid attention to before, like being a very serious person. Taking things personally at every turn. I felt like everything was an attack on me.

So I explored this further by asking myself why my life was so self-centric. I realized I wasn’t really of service to anyone or the community. I was just for me only for me. Until about the age of 24 my ego was enormous. Alcohol inflated it. Many of my relationships, prior to quitting drinking were very one sided, and superficial. I didn’t allow true vulnerability to get in the way of my fun. The lack of honesty with myself and compassion for other people did not contribute to any healthy relationships. So I had scarce relationships even less healthy ones at that. This made me defensive about the way I treated people and the way people treated me. I really didn’t know why I was taking things personally, but it was definitely due to a lack of self awareness.

I wanted to change, so I joined a non-profit that provides local art platforms for underprivileged youth. I met a wonderful woman who herself has faced adversity in her own life, overcame these challenges and started a non-profit to give back to the community she was able to heal her own past at the same time. It was a beautiful cycle of reciprocity. I knew then that this was my way of stepping out of my head and allowed myself to be of service and dropped the ego. It was hard for me to see how self interested I was until I started volunteering. Even today I sometimes need a reality check and sit in gratitude rather than throw myself a pity party.

With volunteering I started stepping out of my defensive mode and became more aware of the vulnerability of myself by allowing others to show me their stories. I listened, I related and understood that with listening and not imposing myself on the world I opened up a space in me for other people. I became less judgemental, I took things less personally. I became less heavy and less serious.

If you think you need an ego check or feel like you take things too personally, try volunteering or being of service to someone for a day. To help and service the community allowed me to listen with no judgment and helped me to listen through an open vessel that I didn’t tap into before. Sometimes we all need to do something for each other unconditionally and in turn this helps us do for ourselves without judgement and criticism. I think this is a win-win situation.