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

Behind the Curtain:

Life Backstage Tells a Different Story

The front row has nothing on the real drama backstage.

The other day I was venting to my sister about pressing financial matters.

“I guess I’ll just be working well into my 70’s.”

“You could be like those older ladies I see at Macy’s. They are at least that age and so adorable working there.”

My sister’s tone was genuine, making the delivery of her words sting that much more.

“Great idea! That’s always what I wanted to do late in life.” My voice dripped with sarcasm.

“I think it would be fun.” 

Now the gloves were off. Like a water hose finally unplugged, I unleashed my anger her way.

“Fun? How can you say that? Why the hell would I want to work at some meaningless job in retail out of necessity in my 70’s?!”

Behind the Curtain of Anger

My sister hadn’t done anything wrong. The anger I unfairly threw her way stemmed from a genuine fear of which her words had, inadvertently, fanned the flames.

Fear is the backstage entity often cloaked in anger. When we aren’t in alignment with ourselves, the slightest comment or action of another can be perceived as salt on a wound.

My sister had genuinely tried to comfort me. She, of course, could only do this from her own vantage point:

“I’d love to have a job like that someday. My career involves so much responsibility. I can’t imagine not working even after I retire, so doing something in retail part time would be fun.”

Wearing Someone Else’s Shoes Hurts

When we look for comfort from someone else, we need to remember that they:

  • only possess their own vantage point
  • are not responsible for the other person’s inner alignment

My sister can hear that I’m experiencing a fiscal crisis, but that is not the same as experiencing it. Likewise, I can hear my sister express her potential enjoyment at working in retail later in life, but I can’t make myself share this sentiment.

Asking someone to feel what you are feeling is like shoving your shoe onto someone else’s foot: it’s not going to fit and can be downright painful.

It’s important to know what you are asking for from that person in the first place. My sister was only sharing her thoughts on the idea of working in her 70’s.

 But I had never been clear about where I was standing: blazing, unfiltered fear.

Say Where You Are

I hadn’t acknowledged the intense fear and instead danced in front of the figurative curtain with haughty anger.

My attitude had been a defiant “Can you believe this bullshit?” but inside, behind the curtain, I was peeing in my pants.

How could we expect anyone to be there for us emotionally if we don’t tell them where we are emotionally?

Spend Time Backstage

After touring the backstage area of my psyche, I got real with the fear. 

When we spend time in the discomfort of fear, acknowledging its presence, and facing it head on, the fear itself dissipates. 

The fiscal situation is still there, but my spiritual awareness of the bigger picture has kicked in, and with it, I know that my health is the most invaluable gift there is and not worth sacrificing to the external (and temporary) reality.

Backstage is where fear likes to lurk; it is a stealthy entity, hiding behind anger. But when we face our fear head-on, peeling back the curtain to the what-ifs that plague our psyches, light pours in, leaving no room for fear to hide.

They Myth of Empathy: What It Is and Isn’t

The notion that empathy can deplete our mental resources or hurt us is an unarticulated myth.We can appreciate someone else’s suffering without the need to experience it.

A good friend has a car accident. Your uncle has dementia. A sibling has breast cancer. In each of these situations, as in any challenging time in the lives of loved ones, our heart has the opportunity to open and experience compassion.

But sometimes, we humans confuse Compassion’s powerful sibling, Empathy, for a virus that’s potentially contagious. 

So, we close up, emotionally distancing ourselves from whatever turmoil a loved one is experiencing, not because we don’t care, but because we are afraid to care too much.

Empathy Fear in Action

Years ago, a friend of mine saw I was struggling with a family issue. When I articulated what was going on, she told me the following:

“You know I love you, but I can’t be around you while you are going through this. It’s too hard for me. Once it’s over, let’s get together.”

Despite knowing me for years, my friend equated “being there for me” with somehow catching the challenges I was facing.

What Empathy is Not

Empathy is not something that requires physical, emotional, or spiritual stamina. It doesn’t ask us to drain our health, bank account, or time. Empathy doesn’t infringe or demand. It isn’t a cosmic paramecium, feeding off of us to help another.

What Empathy Is

The prefix EM means to put into or bring to a certain state. The root word PATHY means feeling or suffering. To have empathy to imagine what another feels in a given situation. We are imagining the Other’s experience, but we are not in the situation itself. Empathy is the emotional lubricant that allows humanity to connect. By putting ourselves in another’s shoes, we stimulate Compassion.

Empathy in Action

My friend’s fear of empathy ironically prevented her from experiencing it. When someone loses a loved one, when there’s a difficult divorce, when a family member is robbed — the greatest thing we can do for that person is be present. The sufferer does not expect their friend to BE in pain, only to acknowledge that it’s there.

Empathy is a silent or verbal acknowledgement to let the sufferer know they are not alone. It can manifest in anything from a homemade pie to a text, letting them know you’re thinking of them.

The Myth of Empathy

There’s this unspoken fear that demonstrating empathy, allowing ourselves to “go there” for someone in pain, is going to break us. 

But the opposite is true: when we open our hearts to someone else’s pain, our heart gets stronger, not weaker. Our ability to put ourselves in another’s figurative shoes makes us more powerful, not less.

A Surprising Benefit to Empathy

When we lean into empathy for another’s suffering, we strengthen self-compassion for ourselves. By welcoming the unwelcome in others, we grow more understanding and forgiving of our own imperfections and challenges.

A Different Kind of Love Letter

There’s something powerful about the written word–especially when those words are crafted with the intent to alter the present.

Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking with the insightful and engaging, Alicia Elatassi on her Podcast, Vibes by Alicia. While our dialogue focused on feeding ourselves emotional nutrition (the main focus of my book, The Friendship Diet: Clean Out Your Fridge, Get Real with Yourself, and Fill Your Life with Meaningful Relationships that Last), one of the great questions Alicia asked me was:

Where can young women find the willpower to stop accepting emotional crumbs and leave a relationship that isn’t serving them?

Enter Faith. A relatively easy quality to possess in spades when we are flying high, but something fleeting and hard to feel when we are in a bad place—physically or mentally.

Then I remembered the Love Letter I wrote to the Universe. I wrote about the qualities of a partner I wanted, writing the letter in the present tense—not the past or the future. The idea is to write the letter and read it aloud. There’s something powerful about putting your desires onto paper; something energy-shifting about giving voice to the qualities you see in someone before he or she has physically materialized. Since time is a human construct, what matters is consciousness. According to author Larry G. Maguire:

“It is by our perception only that things appear to be, and not to be…. In fundamental reality, there is merely everything existent in a single moment.”

Mini-quantum physic lesson aside, when we reflect on the qualities we want to experience in another partner, we are paying attention, we are going within for answers, we are getting real with ourselves. The qualities we are looking for will not be found on social media or even in your close friend’s Love Letter. This writing exercise is a Love Letter to YOU, a subconscious reminder that what you want matters.

The Love Letter to the Universe can be written whether you are single, married, divorced, or widowed—the current relationship status doesn’t matter because YOU are the common denominator. The Love Letter offers a kinesthetic check-in on what matters to you and what you want to experience.

But back to Alicia’s thought-provoking question:

Where can young women find the willpower to stop accepting emotional crumbs and leave a relationship that isn’t serving them?

An internal shift occurs when you write a Love Letter to the Universe. There’s this energetic knowing that the figurative winds have suddenly changed. Faith starts to flow. You can’t look at the list you’ve created and remain willing to accept emotional crumbs. The more you refer back to your list, the more difficult it will be to continue swallowing the status quo. There will come a point when that Love Letter for Mr. Right will feel more real than the boyfriend who stares at his phone throughout dinner.

The Love Letter to the Universe is a powerful honing device when you’ve found yourself living by default, accepting whatever empty calories come your way. When we list the qualities we want in a partner, as if they’re already here in the flesh, we stop settling. We get comfortable walking away from what doesn’t serve us, discovering the very qualities we want in another, in ourselves. And when we love ourselves, we never starve.

Alicia’s Vibes Podcast: https://www.audible.com/pd/Vibes-by-Alicia-Podcast/B08JJM9S9B

The Friendship Diet:  https://www.amazon.com/Friendship-Diet-Yourself-Meaningful-Relationships-ebook/dp/B089GZJ5B5

Source: https://larrygmaguire.com/does-time-exist/

Dating Myth: The Closing Window

The idea that a woman’s potential to meet a man “before the window closes” creates a fear that manifests in unhealthy choices.

*Ann recently went on a date with a 5’9” man. At the end of the evening, the man said, “I like you. You’re cute. I’d like to see you again. But you’ll need to ditch the heels. We can’t have you looking taller than me.”

Ann is 5’ 8” sans heels. Apparently, Ann’s height directly affects her date’s ability to…er date her (or at the very least, stand beside her in public).

“Were you attracted to him?” I asked.

“He owns his own real estate company and drives a Lamborghini.”

“But are you attracted to him?”

She sighed and made a face like one would when offered leftovers from two nights ago. “It’s different at my age. You’ll see. You have to consider different things than you do in your 20’s and 30’s. So, he’s sensitive about his height and he seems a little needy. But he likes me, and he wants to take care of me. I don’t want to be alone. I need someone like him.”

Our talk went on, covering everything from his clean teeth to his affectionate texts. Still, my friend never did answer the attraction question. 

Ann’s divorce isn’t final. She has three girls to raise and at forty, she says “a woman’s window closes quickly. A man has plenty of time. The window remains open for them.”

But I boldly disagree with my dear friend. The “closing window” is a myth, an illusion perpetuated by the cousin of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). This fear causes women and men alike to make choices out of some invisible pressure cooker. It is up to each of us to recognize the myth and do what YOU think works best for YOU, not what the mythical fear whispers (if not screams).

I am not stating that compromise isn’t a part of dating and personal relationships in general. But there is a fine but distinct difference between compromise and settling, between choosing to be with someone out of interest and choosing someone to purely have a “someone.”

Love can be found in the least expected places by people at any stage of life. And while the hunger to experience that love is real, there is nothing lonelier than spending time in the wrong company. 

*Name is altered to retain privacy.

“Serving Yourself a Pause”

What is Your Hunger Telling You?

School starts this week—for me, a middle school English teacher. The kids arrive virtually next month, so this is the time we educators start to ensure all of our academic ducks are in a row.

There is an uneasiness that often comes with the unknown, and virtual teaching in the midst of our pandemic is no exception. How will I effectively reach my new students? How will I effectively engage and connect with these young minds I have the gift and responsibility of educating?

Last week’s post focused on the magic-like pleasure experienced when embracing your passion. The example I shared was my love of writing and acting—a venture I reveled in manifesting and sharing with you on my YouTube channel.

Sometimes, we can get so caught up in a creative endeavor, we lose sight of the bigger picture. Last week, I was so hungry to combine my passion for writing and acting that I lost sight of the bigger picture: the optic and auditory effects of my comedic characters on the audience. 

My characters were meant to connect us, to create belly laughs and to promote my book. In my hunger to tickle your funny bone, I inadvertently eclipsed the gravitas of my book. So, I’ve taken the comedic characters down from my YouTube channel (I did keep my dear Sylvia Richmond. They may resurface as they were or in future comedic bits on a separate channel—apart from my book. I’m not sure where I want to go with them—and that’s okay. Like all of us, I’m learning as I go in this surreal experience called life.

The Friendship Diet is a book that focuses on the deep connection between our edible and emotional nutrition regarding our personal relationships. This includes our relationship—first and foremost—with ourselves. Today I write to you, aware that my emotional hunger is telling me to serve myself a heaping plate of pause, of rest, of time. My students deserve a teacher who is focused and hungry to educate and inspire her students. 

Whatever is happening in your life right now, if you are feeling overwhelmed and like the figurative walls are closing in on you, it’s more than okay—no, it’s vital that you serve yourself a pause dish. When we serve ourselves a pause dish, we are better serving others.

The Hidden Power of Action

There is unseen power in the Universe and the actions we take each day. The same is true when it comes to our creative endeavors. 

A couple of years ago, I sat in a cozy restaurant with two of my girlfriends. Over a Turkish dinner of shish kebob and fresh hummus (thank you, Pasha Restaurant), my friends shared creative endeavors they were working on. For several weeks prior, the idea for a book had tapped me on the shoulder, beckoning me to embark on a literary journey.

Yet fear/ego/uncertainty had caused me to do nothing but silently play the idea in my head like an orchestra performing with the mute button on.

But that evening, hearing my friends articulating their creative endeavors, motivated me to turn off that mute button.

“I am planning to write a book about our most personal relationships. It’s going to focus on the analogy of food and intimacy.”

Wow, did I just say that? I’m actually planning, huh…

Their reactions were a mixture of surprise and wonder; their eyes lit up—they were intrigued and wanted to know more.

So I found myself sharing the music of my idea, the chords that I had played silently in my head were now streaming between us, an organic melody forming in their encouraging presence.

By the end of the meal, the once beckoning idea had suddenly morphed into an almost palpable plan. Almost.

One of my friends said, “Write it down on this receipt. Make it real.”

Here’s a photo of what I wrote: 

The receipt from Pasha’s–a Turkish restaurant where it all began:-)

Writing that initial title down may seem like a small act, but it felt huge. Writing it, just like speaking about the mere idea of the book, gave the idea itself momentum. 

There is unseen power in the actions we take each day. The same is true when it comes to our creative endeavors. 

On July 7th2020, my book The Friendship Diet: Clean out Your Fridge, Get Real with Yourself and Fill Your Life with Meaningful Relationships that Last will launch. This didn’t just happen. There were innumerable steps along the way to get to the manifestation of an actual book. Each step brought me closer to the book in the making and each step created hidden but immeasurable ripple effects. 

Our lives don’t have a distinct beginning middle and end the way some might think. We are a creation that started way before our entry into this world; we create through our choices all day long that carry long-term effects that we can’t always see in this lifetime; we leave this world not knowing who or what is different because of our actions.

My book is still out in the cosmos, not yet a substance one can hold. But I know it’s out there, just as it was the moment I spoke about it over dinner with two dear friends. The fact of my book only grew stronger the moment I put pen to receipt paper—a formal commitment between the Universe and me.

When we give birth to a life, there is so much more than the birth itself. It is a labor of love from conception to manifestation and beyond. Each of us has the gift of free will to create and foster his or her own labor(s) of love. Feed that idea, nurture it and it will grow.

Never underestimate the hidden power of your actions to manifest your creative dreams.

Identifying Our Hunger

Decadent Chocolate S’mores Crepes

Back before our new normal, I LOVED going to Coco Crepes—you know, sitting down in an actual restaurant with actual in person contact. On one of those visits, my sister joined me. She was hankering for one of Coco Crepes’ (and decadently delicious) dessert classics: s’mores—replete with crushed graham crackers and toasted marshmallows.

We had finished our divine crepe dinners; I still desired something sweet, but the s’more crepe wasn’t going to do it for me. But my sister DID want the s’more crepe and wouldn’t get it unless I shared it with her.

So I did what any good sister would do, I agreed to her gustatory request. And while the calorie-high decision might seem innocuous, it demonstrates the inner workings of me. The crepe-I-didn’t-want-in-an-effort-to-please symbolized my relationship with big sis’.

What I was hungry for had nothing to do with the crepe and everything to do with pleasing my sister. 

And my sister’s hunger for the campfire reminiscent treat? She had just flown in from New Jersey on business. She was presenting something major to a huge crowd of medical professionals the next morning. It didn’t surprise me that her stress levels were working overtime, causing her to crave high levels of sugar. And there is nothing more psychologically comforting than the idea of slow-roasted marshmallows drenched in melted chocolate and crushed graham crackers to create a (albeit temporary) sense of carbohydrate calm from an adrenaline storm inside.

As we have the gift of time during our pandemic, consider the connection between your dietary choices and your emotional state. This is not an opportunity to judge, but a moment to consider and make choices that potentially serve you better. 

A friend recently had a fight with her spouse and, despite the lockdown order in her state, grabbed her three kids and went out for Baskin Robbins. “I couldn’t take it.” Again, there’s that connection between stress and the food choices we make. But was she really hungry for the frozen dairy dessert or was it a temporary salve to the underlying conflict in her marriage she wants nothing more than to avoid?

I encourage you to consider what your hunger is telling you. With my sister, despite the fact that we are grown women hovering around menopause, I’m still the little girl who craves her big sister’s approval and love. But the truth underneath, when I hit the coronavirus pause button: I know she loves me whether I join her in devouring a s’mores crepe or never touch one again!

Food for Parents and Kids of All Ages

During this pandemic, while doing our part to stay home and flatten the curve, I stumbled upon this poem my son had written at nine years of age. The genius of this assignment is its simplicity, it’s ability to extract one’s perceptions and personality preferences through present tense verbs: I see, I cry, I dream.

While many of us are still homebound, I encourage you to nourish yourself and your family members with this poetry “workout” of sorts.  We have all seen the GIF pictures flooding social media now of people going into their respective fridges every ten minutes, irrationally hoping to find something new to eat. 

But more often than not, we are hungry for connection and understanding—particularly during this unchartered world of COVID-19. Why not try to feed yourself and your loved ones by fostering that connection and understanding via poetry?

Here’s what I’ve created:

I am apart but never alone.

I wonder if our new normal will ever feel normal.

I hear the news in the background like a garbage compactor that never shuts down.

I see hope in the angels on the frontlines fighting to save humanity every day.

I want the pandemic to unite, not divide us

I pretend I can go to my mailbox without fear

I feel for the planet

I worry about what comes next

I cry for humankind

I understand my parents more each decade

I dream about sitting in a restaurant with family and friends

But the most important thing I do is see each day as a new opportunity

                       My Son’s Poem in 3rd Grade

Cooking with Coronavirus

Roasted Red Pepper and Lentil Soup–Yum!

Wow—my first official blog post is here…in the midst of a worldwide pandemic! No wonder I had time to cook up the tasty soup pictured here. 

Food and relationships—they go together like bread and butter. The epiphany came to me several years ago, after parting ways with my ex. I found myself hungry, starving actually. But it wasn’t for food; when I sat with the sensation of desire, I discovered that I was desperate for connection. 

Suddenly, a flood of food references percolated (see what I mean?? Coffee anyone?) in my head:

Boy I’m in a pickle!

              I’m craving a sweetness I don’t know how to find.

             I’m ravenous…for company.

             My upcoming book (launching July 2020:), The FriendshipDiet, explores the physical, spiritual and psychological metaphor between our intimate relationships and food. 

            The Friendship Diet requires us to look within, to explore the emotional terrain of ourselves in order to better understand our past and current relationships—what better time to reflect than during a worldwide pandemic!

            I leave you with an easy recipe I created based on a combination of my inner nutritional guidance and what I had on hand during our current stay-at-home order. Just like a relationship, you’ll notice that the best soups require time—something we are gifted with right now.

Roasted Red Pepper and Lentil Soup:

Ingredients:

1 pint of sweet peppers

1 cup of red lentils (rinsed well)

1 cup of grape tomatoes

2 cups of chicken or vegetarian broth

½ an onion (roughly chopped)

Directions: 

Sautee the onions in 1 tablespoon of olive oil/butter/avocado oil/canola oil

Mix the peppers and grape tomatoes with ¼ tsp. of salt and 1 tablespoon of olive oil (or others above)

Roast peppers on a baking sheet for 20 minutes at 400 degrees

Place broth and washed lentils in a pot with the now roasted peppers, tomatoes and sautéed onions. Allow to simmer for up to an hour.

Using an immersion blender or regular blender, mix the ingredients together until a thick soup forms.