My Date with a Billionaire

Peter* is handsome and the founder of a company that takes in over a billion in sales each year. He travels all over the world in luxury, meets with former US Presidents, and is in fantastic shape.

Asked Out by a Billionaire

It’s not everyday that one gets asked out by a billionaire. Perhaps it’s more likely for one to be struck by lightening. 

In the Age of Cyberspace, I was sent a Friend Request by a very handsome man. 

In the Age of Cyberspace, I was able to learn a great deal about this stranger before deciding to accept his request.

The Facebook Down-Low 

Peter loves to travel. He has one sibling and owns multiple properties. Peter has a full head of hair and likes to spend time on the beach. He’s a father. He’s the Founder and owner of a well-known company.

I decided to accept Peter’s request.

Those First Text Messages

Peter was over-the-moon that I had accepted his Friend Request. He wrote eloquently and asked me engaging questions before asking me out to dinner.

“I’m in my ________ home now, but I’ll be flying back to ________ and would love to take you to dinner.”

Peter proceeded to suggest 5 different restaurants, each one ridiculously expensive. He then offered to pick me up or hire a car for me.

“Thank you for the offer. I’ll meet you there.”

My History with Wealthy Men

Years ago, I was with someone wealthy. However, when our relationship didn’t work out, the wealth was used as a weapon:

What Wealth Feels Like

So, it made sense that my spiritual hackles were raised by Peter — an affluent stranger who asked me out on social media.

Still, everyone is different and everyone deserves a chance.

 To discriminate against someone wealthy is no different than discriminating against someone poor.

Our date was set.

The Little Pebble in Your Shoe

You put on your socks, step into your shoes and something doesn’t feel right. You walk around and try to ignore it, but it’s there, you can just feel that something is in the way.

Sometimes it’s the little pebble in the shoe that needs to be addressed.

My little pebble: the age difference.

Upon further internet browsing, I learned that we weren’t ten years apart as originally assumed, nor fifteen years, but 17 years apart.

Does it Make a Difference?

As a social experiment, I’m purposely not sharing which direction this age difference is. For example, is Peter:

  • 17 years younger than me?
  • 17 years older than me?

Why?

 Because it doesn’t make a difference which way the age gap falls, almost 2 decades of “Age Distance” in either direction is significant.

What Does Matter

There’s nothing like preparing for a date with a billionaire to remind someone of what really matters:

Heeding your own inner voice and guidance.

Easier said than done on the cusp of a date with a billionaire. Suddenly, everyone has to give their two cents (seriously, no pun intended;-) As Clint Eastwood says in Dead Pool:

“Opinions are like assholes, everybody’s got one.”

And the unsolicited opinions arrived:

“Seventeen years isn’t so bad.”

“Just go out with him for the experience.”

“You’ll be taken care of.”

“Who cares if you have nothing in common — he’s rich!”

“Let him spoil you. You deserve to be spoiled.”

“When he’s that rich, who the hell cares about age.”

Going Inward

Advice aside, I needed to listen to what thought was important. 

At the end of the day, it’s what YOU think that matters.

When I got quiet, I could hear my voice above the cacophony of others’:

Money comes and goes. It does not make a person. Certainly, money makes life easier. But I do not want or need a man to make my life easier. I want someone in my age range to enjoy and experience this life with on equal footing. The uneasiness in my stomach felt every time I think of this date is my body’s intuition. 

This man seems kind. I do not want to waste his time. He deserves to spend time with someone who will look forward to his company, not one who is looking for the EXIT sign as soon as they meet.

While our financial bank accounts might look a world different, we each carry a mortal bank account and deserve to spend it wisely before our unknown expiration dates.

My Decision

Once I realized that it was better — for me — to cancel our date, I took action.

Peter was a perfect gentleman, writing that he understood and wishing me and my family a Happy Thanksgiving.

My decision to cancel the date wasn’t personal to Peter; it was personal for me.

Peter “got” that. No doubt, he will meet the perfect woman for him.

The Fallout 

As with any decision we make in this world, there are reactions from those well-meaning people in our lives with their buttholes — er, opinions.

When people are disappointed in your decision, remember that it’s about them, not you.

Peter wasn’t offended in the least. He knew my decision was not about him. The age difference was my issue, not his.

My dear family and friends (not all) were overflowing with their opinions regarding my decision. I felt like I was a sport’s team, and they hadn’t liked my last play.

At the end of the day, our life’s choices are ours to live with.

Had I gone on the date or had I maintained my decision to decline doesn’t matter to anyone else — it doesn’t affect anyone else.

People who are close to us often mistake their opinions as ours.

When we are close to someone, we can easily lose ourselves in the story told to us.

But we are not someone else’s story. We can choose, at any time, to get back into the driver’s seat of our life and decide what does and doesn’t work for us.

The Good and Bad of Opinions

Opinions offer opportunities for us to consider other viewpoints and challenge our own. 

The danger of opinions, if we aren’t vigilant, is that they can stealthily morph into our own until we are living the life someone else wanted for us.

Vigilance is key. Paying attention to our body’s reactions to another’s advice. Questioning our reactions yet trusting them to guide us.

There is no wrong decision when it comes from our intuition.

*Name is altered for privacy purposes

Thankful of Steroids

And why it matters

Want to know a secret?

Whether you think life is awful or wonderful, you are correct.

The good news: we each have the power to alter our perceptions at any moment.

Live Like My Little Sis

I’ve just returned from the gift of spending time with my younger sister in NY. Well…my sister and her family. During my time there, the following occurred:

  • the bathroom mirror literally started to peel off the wall like a Reflective Tower of Pisa
  • a washing machine began to “chew” clothing reminiscent of a toddler with teething issues
  • the brisket splattered EVERYWHERE (leaving a sticky-savory trail from the oven to the floor — the dogs were smitten)
  • children needed to be taken to doctors while work emergencies erupted

And yet, my little sis’ remained calm and easy, all while preparing a thirteen person dinner party to welcome me home.

Humor as Medicine

Listen, I’m sharing a “sample platter” of all the “dishes” my awesome sis’ handled in the days I spent at her home. This chica has A LOT going on. 

Were there conflicts that arose? Absolutely.

But Little Sis’ handled whatever came her way with humor and grace.

Humor is an undervalued form of medicine. 

Humor makes life’s challenging arrows more palatable. 

When we are able to find humor in those tense moments, we alter our perspective. Life’s challenges and heartaches don’t seem as sharp.

Humor softens our focus, working as a balm to our pain or unease.

We Become What We Think

After creating the first and second platters, my sister had the same reaction each time:

“This is so much fun! Look at how cool this is? I love this!” 

My Little Sis’ was literally jumping up and down each time she completed the platters.

Her eyes danced with delight each time she completed another step creating her cornbread, her lemon zest ricotta cake, her rosemary and apple-infused turkey — you name the dish, she was lit up more than a tree at Rockefeller Center.

When challenges arose, she de-escalated the issue immediately by:

  • focusing on what was working
  • offering a helpful suggestion 
  • bringing her infectious humor

Little Sis’ loves serving the people she cares about. She loves making a difference, loves challenging herself to create new things.

Take it from Oprah:

“What you focus on expands and when you focus on the goodness in your life, you create more of it.”

Focusing on the Good is Contagious

We are all energy. So it’s no wonder that my Little Sis’ family “caught” her warmth and love throughout my visit. And, of course, I wasn’t immune either.

Appreciation is a form of meditation.

I started to notice how long my nephew’s eyelashes are when he looked down to focus on the board game we were playing.

I noticed the sound of my older nephew’s laugh made me think of a warm sunrise.

I noticed the comfort and easiness, the vulnerability and strength between my Little Sis’ and her sweet hubby.

The Gift of Slowing Down

As we approach this holiday season, I’m making a concerted effort to focus on slowing down, not speeding up. I want to relish the gift of this life, honoring my reactions and impressions along the way. 

We will never get “there” because there is no final destination.

There is only the precious moment of now. And when we choose to focus on how amazing this moment, and the next moment is, our lives grow evermore awesome.

MENTAL HEALTH

The Doctor Will See You Now

Finding insight and healing in writing

We can attend to our inner wounds through self-reflective writing.

The boy sat staring at the blank page in front him, while his fourth grade peers wrote with gusto.

One word came to mind as I took in the 9-year-old with gripped pencil in hand:

fear

Writing as a Vehicle

The students were filling in their journals, writing about their family members. Kids were smiling as they wrote about their parents, siblings, and cousins. The giddiness in the room was palpable.

Writing about ourselves is a powerful vehicle for self-discovery.

Still, the 9-year-old-boy with the gripped pencil remained staring at the untouched page.

Me: You okay?

Student: I don’t know if my dad is a family member. My mom said, I can’t see my dad anymore and that he’s no longer my dad. So, do I include my dad?

Ouch. 

Sometimes, the vehicle of writing brings some rough terrain.

Fostering Self-Discovery

Education is all about offering tools to empower. Writing is one of those foundational tools. Our world is literally built on words; it is the machinery that drives innovation and self-awareness.

The young student’s question offered an opportunity for him to self-reflect and find the answer within.

Me: That depends. What do you think? Do you think your father is still your father?

Student: Yes.

Me: Then that’s your answer.

Writing LightBulb Moments

Immediately I saw the boy’s eyes light up, his pencil no longer gripped with fear, but instead, moving with great energy in the no-longer empty journal.

When we lean into the painful questions through writing, sans judgement, aha moments abound.

Writing puts us in the driver’s seat of our life. It offers an opportunity for us to slow down and consider what we think, not what the cacophonous world at large says to think.

When we go within to write, we literally slow down our brain waves and decrease anxiety. Slowed down, we find space to explore problems from a greater creative perspective.

Writing as Therapy

The 9-year-old student was eager to share his family tree and some of their personality traits with the rest of the group. The once anxious face he carried was now emanating pure joy.

Writing offers us the opportunity to go within for counsel.

I never told the young student what to think of his father. The power to perceive his father as his father is his choice. 

Writing allows us to take the reins of our perception.

It doesn’t matter whether we are 9 or 99 years old — our perceptions are ours alone. 

Metacognition, the act of understanding one’s own thoughts and perceptions, only grows stronger with self-reflective writing.

 When we write, we are no different than a radio dial, tuning into what we think about the world around us.

Writing as a Doctor

When we write reflectively, we are taking care of ourselves. We are nurturing our brain waves and self-esteem.

When we take the time to write reflectively, we are subconsciously sending a message to our psyche: what I think and how I feel matters.

Writing reflectively opens the door to the best doctor for you to visit with: your Highest Self. Stress hormones lower, sadness is articulated and addressed. Emotions — in all of their colors — are addressed. Self-compassion and self-awareness are cultivated.

I Just Overdosed

On too much well-meaning advice

Ah, friends and family. Those well-meaning people in our lives who offer advice like candy on Halloween.

The problem?

 Taking in others’ advice is like sampling from an apothecary.

Opinions and Asses: Everyone’s Got One

Whether it’s when to leave a career or how to best file income taxes, opinions abound. We are not talking about those rare issues that offer very little gray area.

Nope. We are talking about those hem and haw mental challenges where we just aren’t certain what to do. Situations like:

  • whether to take a Gap Year after high school or head straight to university
  • plan a huge wedding or get married on the beach with only your immediate family and friends
  • have another child
  • change careers midlife

The Stealthy Side Effects of Advice

My issue was dealing with someone who was regularly hell-bent on making my life miserable. 

When we are in a painful or anxious place, we are more vulnerable to other’s well-meaning advice.

Everyone who cared about me offered up their opinions:

“Fight them in court.”

“Whatever you do, don’t go through the legal system. Only the lawyers win in court.”

“Ignore ‘em.”

“You need to see a therapist.”

“You don’t need a therapist. You need to go for a massage.”

“You need to keep busy and not think about it.”

The side effect of all of this mental and contradictory advice: my heart and head felt incapable of processing.

Here’s the danger of heeding others’ advice: the more you listen to others’ mental medicine, the less you can hear your own inner wisdom.

Word Drugs

It’s one thing to hear what another person has to say; it’s quite another to take in that advice.

Some of us are sensitive and not aligned (at the time — this too can always change) with our inner compass, so that even hearing the advice isn’t healthy for us.

When I’m not feeling centered, all I have to do is read the side effect warnings of a drug and the placebo effects begins.

But when we heed the opinions and suggestions of others, we are reneging our intuition to someone else. 

Accepting the opinions of others as your own is a form of mental ingestion. Digest enough of those varied words as yours and you’ve just mentally overdosed.

The Best Prescription

The best prescription when you feel uncertain about your next move is the one that arrives from within.

I’m not suggesting to stick your head in the sand like an ostrich (besides, that would be me giving you advice;-).

The best prescription is tuning into you. 

Maybe that means going for a walk or baking or meditating. Maybe it means drawing or taking a siesta for a couple of hours.

When we tune inwards for guidance, we find balance; we are better equipped to then hear the opinions of others without ingesting them.

Snowflake Humans

Humans are like snowflakes. Each of us is unique. And just like a snowflake, each of us is going to offer a perspective that is a one-of-a-kind-by-product from the alchemy of our environment and genetics:

Because a snowflake’s shape evolves as it journeys through the air, no two will ever be the same. Even two flakes floating side by side will each be blown through different levels of humidity and vapor to create a shape that is truly unique.-BBC

So, centered, it doesn’t surprise me that my friend who was, at one point, a victim of an abuser, gave me the advice to “Fight ’em in court.”

A family member who thankfully cannot relate to my situation but is perpetually burning the midnight oil, suggested I just “get a massage” and “don’t think about it.”

Everyone’s advice came from a loving place. But the verbal drugs they were offering were created in the lab of their own perspective.

Overdosing on others’ advice made me both fatigued and anxious. Without realizing it, “swallowing” their advice pills, I lost my way.

It wasn’t until I got quiet (lots of walks and naps:) that I realized what I needed to do — for me.

Signs of a Potential Overdose

Wondering what a potential Advice Overdose looks like? Here are some that I encountered:

  • anxiety
  • difficulty sleeping
  • irritability
  • difficulty concentrating
  • mental fatigue
  • upset stomach

Take Two and Call Me in the Morning

Joking — don’t take two of anything from me. (I’m not a doctor, though I play one on TV;-)

Be kind to yourself. Journal. Reflect. Take deep breaths. Do whatever you can to slow down and honor that voice always residing within you.

Our feelings offer a powerful guide in this life. When we slow down, we are more likely to pay attention and notice what feelings are coming up. Acknowledging them is the first step in finding the best self-prescription.

Oreo Cookie Thinking

The anxiety-driven thought process that isn’t good for anyone.

Oreo Cookie Thinking only feeds anxiety.

The homework assignment was easy enough: multiply each number by two.

My niece: I got this, Mom! I don’t need your help.

So, my sister left her daughter to work solo.

When the Problem Isn’t the Problem

My niece had completed the assignment correctly, multiplying each number as directed. But she had also added up each number — something that wasn’t part of the assignment.

When my sister pointed this out, all hell broke loose.

Forget it! I’m bad at math. I hate math. 

The problem wasn’t the math itself or my niece’s ability to do math. The real issue: all or nothing thinking.

It didn’t matter that:

  • my sister had pointed out what a great job her daughter did on the math homework.
  • my niece had, in fact, gotten all of the multiplication correct 

All my niece “heard” was the all-or-nothing inner dialogue waging war on her self-esteem:

  • I’m horrible at math.
  • I hate math.
  • The issue must be me, but instead of acknowledging this, I will hide behind hating math itself.

Oreo Cookies Are Only Good for Eating

Black or white thinking is a form of cognitive distortion that we all have to some extent. Believing that things are all good or bad, right or wrong. 

If we think of black-or-white thinking as an Oreo cookie, it helps us catch ourselves when we fall into the mental quicksand of dualistic thinking.

Oreo cookies are delicious to eat, but we don’t want to dwell in a black-or-white mindset.

When we keep Oreos in our kitchen pantries and not in our minds, we offer ourselves, and the world around us, greater compassion. 

The Skittles Life

Taste the rainbow of wonderful possibility with Skittles Thinking.

You know those high-fructose corn syrup rainbow candies? Now that’s the mental candy lifestyle that fosters a more flexible mindset.

Accepting our inner and outer world as colorful, ever changing, and perfectly imperfect allows us to grow more empathic to ourselves and others.

Life starts to look a lot more forgiving and wonderful when we see through the lens of kindness.

Oreo Thinking vs. Skittles Thinking

Oreo Thinking sounds like this:

  • I didn’t get chosen for the play because I have no talent.
  • He didn’t call because I’m unloveable.
  • I failed the test because I’m stupid.

Skittles Thinking sounds like this:

  • While it’s disappointing I didn’t get into the play, I look forward to joining the crew.
  • I miss talking to him; I’ll send him a text to say hello.
  • I know the material but allowed my nerves to get the best of me. I’ll speak to the teacher and ask if there’s a way for me to demonstrate my understanding of the material.

Fun with Food

Cognitive distortion sounds so serious, so off-putting to kids (and adults). The analogy of food makes cultivating awareness of cognitive errors much more palatable (and downright fun:-)

So, the next time you find yourself growing anxious about something, ask yourself:

Am I entering into Oreo Cooking Thinking?

Chances are, if you are feeling stressed or upset about something, there’s a strong likelihood you’ve entered into the all-or-nothing quicksand.

No worries — it’s never too late to put down that mental Oreo. 

And the great news: if you are flying high and in an easy-peasy mood, it’s likely you’ve picked up a mental bag of Skittles.

The choice is always in our cognitive hands.

The Day She Snapped

And what we can do to prevent further meltdowns

Sometimes, it’s the kindest people who experience the harshest meltdowns.

A dear friend of mine is the mother of a teen obsessed with musical theater. For the past decade, despite working full time and having one other kid to raise, her son has participated in community theater that requires my friend to drive far and wide all over New York, often late at night. 

A Window View

The other day, I was on the phone with my friend when her son came into the car from another rehearsal. Here’s how the dialogue went:

Teen: I’m hungry. 

Friend: (handing him string cheese) Here you go.

Teen: No, I want McDonald’s.

Friend: You can get that tomorrow after your PSAT test.

Teen: What the f$%&! No, I’m not taking that. I don’t even need it. I have plans with my girlfriend tomorrow.

Let’s just say, I got off that phone as quickly as possible.

The Backstory

My friend is a single mom. Everything has been on her. As her son was growing, there were several small occasions when her son spoke down to her and my friend placated or ignored the disrespectful behavior.

My friend’s empathy for her son eclipsed her judgement.

For years, my friend would say:

“He doesn’t have a father. I feel so bad for him. I want him to know how loved he is and how much he matters.”

Creating a Monster

Just prior to her son entering the car, my friend confided:

“I snapped the other day. I couldn’t take it anymore. I’ve created a monster.”

All those years of yes-ing her son in an effort to make him feel like he mattered, prevented him from learning respect and appreciating another person’s perspective — in this case, his own mother.

The Snap

We humans tend to snap when there’s been a buildup of tension and frustration. We snap after a long time of undisclosed and/or unaddressed unhappiness or resentment.

Like a zit that’s just come to a head, the snap is a manifestation of pent up emotion that needs to come out.

My friend snapped after her son told her he was going to be changing high schools because it had a better musical theater program. 

There was no discussion; in his 15-year-old-mind, changing high schools was going to happen.

Friend: I will look into the high school program.

Teen: I already know I want to do it. There’s nothing to look into. This is my life, not yours.

On and on this dialogue went until my friend, inevitably snapped:

“You know what? You are a child, a minor. Do you not understand that? You know what, just forget it. You’re going to do what you want anyway. Just do it; just do it! GO — what are you waiting for?! I don’t care anymore. Just do whatever the hell you want.”

And the teen’s response:

“It’s okay. I don’t have to do it.”

The Aftermath of a Snap

My friend felt such guilt for snapping at her son.

“You should have seen the look on his face. He looked so scared of me. I feel awful about it.”

And yet, a day later, her son was cursing up a storm in front of her, sometimes at her. There was no:

  • Thank you for picking me up from theater rehersals.

or

  • Thank you for bringing me a snack.

The Thing About Snaps

Snaps don’t address the core issue (in this case: lacking respect for a parent).

Snaps are nothing more than the surface of an emotional iceberg. 

It’s no wonder her teen returned to dictating what would and wouldn’t happen regarding the PSAT and McDonald’s. The roles in their relationship were never addressed in my friend’s snapping.

Love isn’t a Doormat

Whether married or raising kids solo, parenting is not easy. But loving our kids does not mean letting them run the show. 

We wouldn’t give a kindergartner the key to our car. Yet when we placate our children with blind consent, contorting ourselves to please them, we are effectively putting them in the driver’s seat.

There’s Still Time

I don’t know what transpired between my friend and her son after I hung up the other day. I can only hope she:

  • didn’t get him McDonald’s
  • insisted he take the PSAT
  • is going to look into the new high school and not blindly consent

As long as her son is under her roof and a minor, there’s still time for the roles to alter.

Of course, its’ easy for me to see what’s happening: I’m not in the situation. I’m a mere observer. But I can relate to those moments when a need to demonstrate love to my children eclipsed my better judgement. 

Self-compassion

My friend is trying her best. We are all just trying our best in this life. The word compassion means: to suffer with and take action. 

Self-compassion is looking within, exploring the why behind our respective snaps and doing something about it. Sometimes that means saying no to your kid, even if that no will illicit a temper tantrum.

Better a temper tantrum from our kid now than a giant snap from us later.

The Keys to the Kingdom

Happiness isn’t a verb; it’s a state of mind.

Remember that famous line Dorothy was told to repeat in The Wizard of Oz?:

There’s no place like home.

Dorothy wasn’t hankering for Kansas. She missed home: Auntie Em and Uncle Henry. She hungered for the love and ease that home represented.

Finding Our Way Home

When we are tired or angry, it’s hard to find our way home. The road can get bumpy and long. It’s easy to lose our way.

Home is a kingdom that resides in our heart.

It’s easy to find our home when we are well-rested and fed. When the road is smooth and predictable, home a key just waiting for you to unlock and open the door.

The challenge arrives when we are starving, confused, distraught, depressed or brimming with anger. Then, home feels like a mirage in an emotional desert.

Fortunately, there are four keys that will open the door to the Kingdom inside all of us.

Key #1: Acknowledge What Is

Whether it’s a flat tire or the death of a loved one, you are suddenly faced with bad news. Observe the news. Watch it. Don’t hide behind busy-ness or booze. Allow yourself to fully note what is right in front of you.

The pain of acknowledging what is now prevents the pain from festering later.

Unaddressed pain or problems only grow, making the road to Home that much longer.

Key #2: Accept What Is

Your cat has cancer or you just got fired. Whatever the problem or source of pain, you’ve already acknowledged what’s occurred. Now it’s time to accept it.

Accepting something painful means allowing ourselves to feel whatever emotions come up and through us.

Like acknowledging the negative situation, when we allow the less-than-pleasant emotions to go through us, we are that much closer to Home.

Acceptance over something negative or unwanted, acceptance over the myriad of unpleasant emotions we experience breeds self-compassion — a signpost on the road to Home that you are getting closer.

Key #3: Angle the Headlights Home

If you’re driving on a dirt road at night, you’ll need headlights on to help you find your way home.

Do you focus your headlights on the side of the road? Of course not. You do that, and you’ll likely get into an accident. It’ll be a long time before you make your way home then!

Appreciation is the headlight Home.

Whatever we focus on grows. Ever notice if you feel a little “off” or under-the-weather, if you head into work or get busy doing something you enjoy, you start to feel better? Why is that?

We are spirits having a physical experience, so what we focus our energy on manifests an outcome.

There is a momentum of energy that builds upon itself when we focus on appreciation. Well, the same is true for focusing on the negative, but why would we want to do that?

Right now, think of three things you could appreciate right now. Here’s my three:

  • My children’s health.
  • My ability to type the words you are reading.
  • My ability to hear the sound of a fan whirring softly above me

Already, my mind is lit up like those headlights on a dirt road at night. I’m literally lit up with other things I feel appreciation for.

How do you feel now?

Appreciation fosters only more appreciation.

Appreciation brings us Home.

Key #4: The Spiritual Chiropractor

I see a chiropractor once a month for maintenance. But there was a time when it wasn’t just keeping my spine aligned. Like my life, my spine was all over the place.

The physical is often a manifestation of what is occurring emotionally.

The body keeps score. It’s difficult to open the key to our inner Home if we are in need of some spiritual WD-4.

We creatures of flesh and blood often forget that we are spiritual beings experiencing this temporary physical dimension. 

But the body often “acts up” as whispers to remind us that we have traveled down the wrong path.

So what is the “spiritual chiropractor?” that can bring us Home even faster? 

Alignment. Alignment with your Highest Self. Alignment is:

  • that inner voice that tells you not to get in the elevator alone with a stranger that makes you feel uneasy. 
  • that inner knowing that the manuscript you are working on is meant to be written. 
  • trusting you are right where you need to be, however it looks to the outside world
  • going within for clarity

A Different Kind of Road Trip

This is not AAA. There is no fee for your Triptik to the Kingdom. All travelers are welcome to choose this road.

  • Acknowledgment
  • Acceptance
  • Appreciation
  • Alignment

The road Home that Dorothy hungered for did not require her clicking those shiny red shoes.

The road Home arrives when you understand the Keys to the Kingdom are always in you.

Walking on Eggshells?

When we tiptoe around someone to please them, we hurt ourselves much more in the process.

Intimidations. Threats. Manipulating facts. These are some of the tactics an abuser uses to maintain their control.

I know because I’m on the receiving end of it right now. Have been for over 7 years. It’s only getting worse.

Abusers are often the Sirens found in mythology: they woo their victims until they don’t know what hit them.

I think of a victim of abuse as a lobster in a pot, the heat slowly getting turned up, until they are boiled alive.

If you recognize the pattern I’m about to share with you, I strongly advise you to do whatever you can to get out of that simmering pot.

The Early Years

The love-bombing commences. The romance. The remembering of small details, the overflowing with thoughtfulness. The feeling that you are starring in your own Hallmark movie.

You’ve just entered the pot. The water is warm. It feels so damn good.

Sure, every once in a while the abuser will say something that gives you pause. But you are so in love with this person by now, you rationalize the pause away. You make excuses for some minor controlling behaviors.

The Middle Years

Welcome to life inside the pot that is now starting to feel very steamy.

Still, your Abuser is so good to you. Well, except when they’re not.

As the water starts to simmer, you find yourself feeling a little uncomfortable.

Because you’ve been in the relationship for a fair amount of time at this point, you’ve lost your way. Up is down and down is up.

Being in an abusive relationship is living like Alice down the rabbit hole. Nothing makes sense.

What’s worse, you don’t trust yourself any more. You’ve lost your inner compass, your sense of what’s wrong and right.

Besides, it’s not that hot in the pot. There are even days when it still feels good. So long as you don’t upset the Abuser who put you in the pot in the first place.

Abusers and Eggshells

Eggshells are delicate and can easily break. Abusers are the eggshells. Once we are past the love-bombing phase, it becomes the victim’s unspoken job to ensure they don’t hurt their “delicate” partner.

Well-worn phrases by Abusers are steeped in manipulation and guilt:

  • If you hadn’t done __________, I wouldn’t be in such a bad mood.
  • You are so naive. There’s no way you can do/handle ____________.
  • I treat you like a child because you act like one.

You may be told what clothing you can and cannot wear. What foods you can and cannot eat. You may have a curfew, even though you are an adult.

Again, guilt is a weapon to keep the victim in place:

“I only do this because I care about you, and it’s my job to protect you.”

Freedom’s Price

When I finally realized I was a lobster boiling in that pot, I did everything I could to get out of the relationship.

Abusers don’t like to lose. Especially ones without the capacity for self-reflection.

It’s years since I left my abuser. Years since I had to walk on eggshells in his presence.

Unfortunately, the attacks are still coming. When you have deep pockets and are an abuser, there are creative ways to continue bullying someone.

The price of freedom doesn’t guarantee the end of attacks.

But it sure beats losing your life to a boiling pot.

Freedom Over Eggshells

Looking back, I don’t recognize the woman I was with the Abuser. She was constantly walking on eggshells to please the Abuser.

Walking on Eggshells:

  • never satisfies the abuser
  • only hurts the victim of abuse more

Better to walk on those damn eggshells and be true to yourself.

When you realize that the abuser WANTS their victim to be fearful, guilt-ridden, on-edge, and gaslit, you start to wake up your inner compass.

So crack some eggs, walk with your head held high, embrace your beautiful self.

No, we can’t control what an abuser will do, but we are now free to live life on our terms.

Looking for Sweet Revenge?

Playing dead is the sweetest step in the sweetest revenge.

Maybe someone betrayed you. Manipulated you. Lied. Cheated. Insulted.

Whatever the flavor, someone hurt you and now there’s a surging flood of anger in your veins. You. Want. Revenge.

The “R” Word

When we fill wronged by someone, we want justice. We want them to feel what they made you feel. We want them to pay for their mistreatment and misdeeds.

But when we hunger for revenge, do we really know what we are asking for?

The word revenge comes with that nifty little prefix at the front: RE

re: back or again

Then there’s that solid root word in revenge: VENGE— a Latin word:

venge: protect, avenge, punish

Did You Hear Yourself?

Do you know what you are asking for with revenge? (GIPHY)

So, when you ask the Universe for revenge, you are essentially asking to experience punishment or a sense of vengeance again.

Think of revenge as a wound you keep picking: it’s only going to grow more irritated and bloody with time.

Now what about this idea of venge meaning protection? Are you really protecting yourself when you are punishing someone else? The fact that you are doing so “again” sounds downright exhausting.

The Cat and Mouse Game

I get it: you’re hurt. Angry. Hungry for justice. But we’ve already established that revenge — the idea of punishing someone else — will only inflict more pain back onto you.

Revenge is a cat and mouse game. You are the mouse. When you seek vengeance, you are only making the cat claw at you more.

The only way to end the cat and mouse game: to play dead. To surrender to the injustice, cruelty, mistreatment, and any other terrible behavior of the someone who has hurt you.

When we surrender to the what is of someone’s awful behavior, we are no longer dependent on them for peace.

Make no mistake: abuse of any kind is unacceptable. I am not saying: Allow this person who hurt you to keep hurting you. On the contrary, I’m saying:

Live your life. Focus on things and people that bring you genuine pleasure and happiness.

The cat only has power if you allow it to. Each time you get into the ring with the cat, the game will only continue.

Get out of the ring. Play dead.

Then you can enjoy your life. And what a beautiful life it is. The sweetest revenge is living your best life, filling it with appreciation for even the smallest of things: the sound of birds outside a window, the air you fill your lungs with.

When we let go of the need to justify our anger, life’s sweetness returns.

And when you feel angry, let it out to people you trust.

Don’t go seeking understanding from the source of your pain.

This life can be amazing and awful. It’s up to you how you choose to perceive it. How sweet is that?

—-

Under Attack?

The Friendship Diet

Discover the connection between food and relationships in my book: The Friendship Diet

Letting Our Kids Fail

And the invaluable gifts that arrive when we do

Sometimes, the best parenting involves letting go.

One of my kids is struggling. Struggling to make a decision. Afraid to make the wrong one.

The decision will effect the rest of his life. No one else’s. Not mine. Not his father’s. His life.

Fortunately, the decision is not life threatening.

“What do I do?” he asks me.

Finding Your Voice

We humans learn best through action. Sure, we can preach about what matters, the lessons we’ve learned from life, but ultimately, none of it sticks and penetrates the heart and mind like experiencing it (whatever “it” is) for ourselves.

We find our voice, our inner compass through trial and error.

My son wants me to tell him what to do, to take the stress over making a decision off of his shoulders.

But removing the burden of responsibility and choice from his psyche would thwart his growth in the long run.

The Gift of Biting Your Tongue

Do I have a strong opinion? Absolutely. And when he asks for this, I share it with him. But to advise him is to remove an opportunity for his self-awareness; to shove my opinion as fact upon him is to deprive him of self-discovery.

Much better for me to bite my tongue until I taste blood than navigate and discern the world for my teen.

So instead, I listen.

Cultivating Autonomy

My son struggled with the “what if” of his decision. I listened as he played out each scenario.

I listened.

By the time he was finished, he looked like a balloon that had lost all of its air.

“We can’t control the actions of others or life’s outcomes. We can only control our choices, moment by moment.”

Needless to say, he didn’t like my answer.

Yet, he did make a decision. From my vantage point, the decision is based in fear and steeped in a need for survival.

But it is not my place as a parent of a teenager to tell him what to do. Again, the decision he is making affects him alone and is not life threatening.

Regardless of his decision and my opinion of it, he has taken a closer step in his autonomy. 

There are already consequences of his choice out of fear. It is downright painful to watch. 

But when a toddler falls and cries, we kiss the boo-boo and remind them they can just “get back up.”

When there’s salt in my son’s wound, I comfort him, reminding him that he did the best he could based on what he thought at that time.

Humans are self-correcting creatures. When we allow our kids to self-correct, making adjustments based on new information, independence is fostered.

Cultivating Confidence

The consequences of my son’s decision is offering opportunities for him to make new decisions. Those decisions are continuing to be fear-based.

“I’m in survival mode,” he says.

Okay then. He’s doing what he thinks he has to do. I remind him there’s always another way. 

(Again: No one is in danger, nothing is life threatening and the consequences of his actions affect him alone.)

I can see the self-proclaimed “survival mode” in the tightness of his jaw, the rolling of his eyes if I even hint at broaching the subject. Translation: I know what I’m doing here.

There’s a confidence brimming inside of my son now. He knows he’s supported — simultaneously knowing I’m not in favor of his decision yet respect his choice.

Cultivating Trust

When we surrender to what we can’t control, (i.e. another’s decision), a bridge of trust is built:

  • The trust you foster for your child is returned to you.
  • The trust your child feels from you bolsters inner trust in themselves.

Caveats

I am not promoting trusting your teen to take illegal drugs until they “figure it out” nor am I suggesting a child decide on whether or not to treat a life-threatening condition.

Giving our children a chance to explore what works and doesn’t — while under our guidance — offers them the gift of self-awareness. 

Encouraging autonomy when the stakes are small, allowing them space to “fail” will offer first-hand experience in getting back up on their figurative (or literal) feet.