Monthly Archives: January 2014

Vulnerable: Do I Want You to Read My Blog? Yes…and No

No matter how much writers hold back of their personal selves, we always still spill onto the page with our words and end up with pieces of ourselves in our writing. This is even true with novels and/or works of fiction, or so I believe.

Someone at some point much earlier in my life told me that I wear my heart on my sleeve — I think this is part of why I’ve always been compelled to write. Why I’m a writer now and will be in the future. My philosophy is that this is also true of other writers, even in all the varying degrees that it applies.

But this, I feel, also means that I am not only vulnerable in general, but at risk for vulnerability and all the reasons how and why it can occur.

For starters, publishing my thoughts and experiences weekly via Internet is taking a gamble that people will read my writing. It’s also wagering that people won’t read it, as well.

Wait. Don’t I want you to read — and hopefully connect with as well as enjoy — my blog? Yes…

…And no. Allow me to expound. I truly want to not only be read, but by a wide, broad audience. But, I want people to like my work, and in turn, like me through my work. Desiring that though, doesn’t promise that everyone who reads my writing will receive it well.

In rolls the fear of inviting some form of negativity either on me, the blog, or both, ranging from “I don’t enjoy your writing” or “this was only ok for me” to “you’re awful” and “you should never put words to page or screen again!” Or worse then that, inappropriate comments and language. I even fear people from my past stumbling upon this blog and executing attempts to trash my present life and existence.

Do the duel contradictions come across clearer now? Simply, I want to be adored, not abhorred. Just like anyone. Like ying and yang, it is impossible to guarantee a separation of one from the other.

I tell myself this is normal, that other writers must experience these thoughts and feelings, too, especially other bloggers. But then the other side of my brain tells me that I am being paranoid, and concerned over outcomes that could never see the light.

Not to toot my own horn, as I am certainly not ever overflowing with too much confidence, but there is also the thought that I could be vulnerable to being plagiarized, even if only in parts and parcels. I feel pompous just putting that here in black and white. But the realist in me knows that you can never say “such-and-such will never happen to me.” Some other no-name writer could take something I’ve said here already in all these posts and all these weeks, and not only see more in it than what I’ve put forth, but add their own brilliance to it, and — huzzah! — gain some level of blogger’s acclaim off of something I said that I’ll then wish I could have copyrighted.

Taking care to not reveal information that is too personal is always a consideration. This is why there are certain specific bits about me, my life, and the people in it that I have intentionally not included. Even so, being careful is never careful enough. We’re too close to ourselves and our writing to be able to always see clearly whether or not we are saying more than we realize.

Generally speaking, people are judgmental of most other individuals, whether they know them a little, a lot, or not at all. This is always bouncing around somewhere in the back of my head, but especially so as I ready myself to push the publish button and send all these tiny, connected segments of me out into the digital ether. I’ve lost count of how many weeks of this blog almost didn’t happen because of the paralyzing effect that comes just with the possibility of being judged harshly and unfairly.

What I am trying to say to you in all of this is that a blog is much different than a run-of-the-mill comment, tweet, status update, etc. Some of the creators of those arn’t even writers, just abusers of words as they use them to hide as opposed to express and connect. A blog post requires much more thought and insight than a quickly dashed off nothing.

Further, when you read a blog post — or any piece of online writing for that matter — keep in mind what went into it: someone’s heart and soul.

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Talking with My Hands

In stereotypical fashion, I am an Italian who during most any conversation, on most any topic, with mostly everyone I speak directly with, gesticulates with her hands. It happens at least ninety percent of the time, and I can hardly cease the habit no matter what amount of effort I put forth to make the attempt. Aside from this one ethic group that I descend from (I am also Irish), I’ve also got stacked against me: DNA; things we pick up from our parents and families; my own exuberance at expressing myself; and the longevity of habitual actions. The hand waving in conjunction with verbalization isn’t going away anytime soon. It’s part of who I am. I’ll live the rest of my life a hand talker. I’ll die a hand talker.

I was going about my motherly duties when I was thinking about this while simultaneously realizing that I was fatigued from my day and craving a serious block of time to create in solitude. My daughter was being a chatty kiddo, and all I could think was: I really don’t feel like talking right now. I love her…but I wish we could be silent and get through the current task at hand.

That’s when a double meaning to the idea of someone who talks with their hands clicked in my head. There are times that I don’t have the energy or ability, honestly to adequately speak my thoughts. In those times, I’d rather express myself via the keyboard, as I do to create this blog each week, or through another activity that defines a large part of who I am, crafting. Specifically, card-making. The evening I refer to was indeed one of those times. It hit me in that moment that my little sweetie pie had been particularly needy the entire week, and it set off my deep need to re-energize my soul, which for me, a majority of that is done through being creative.

This made me think about artists at large. (If you don’t mind, I consider myself one, even if I fall into the shabby chic realm.) This shutting down of verbal capacities seems human and necessary in order to process, digest, and reflect upon life. I guess my personal auto shutdown was shouting at me that systems were on overload.

Moreover, if we didn’t possess this characteristic, think of the beautiful things that have been created ranging from art to music to literature that may not exist if we did not feel the pull to put the brakes on and become part of the floating world, even for a little while.

Additionally, I think it is a wholly different level of expressing oneself, causing different parts of the brain to fire, connecting with our own self in ways that are not possible through just plain old conversation.

Of course a blog is like a conversation in that I am addressing you, my dear audience, (whomever and how ever many of you there are), even when it seems more like an epic soliloquy. This is also in spite of the fact that for me, this type of conversation originates from a deeper part of myself and flows outward much differently compared to an everyday verbal exchange.

When I talk with my hands through card-making, it’s always intended to be more personal and meaningful than any face-to-face chit chat could ever really be, as I am simultaneously trying to celebrate the person the card is for while saying everything that I feel for that individual and my relationship with and to him or her.

Aside from expressing myself and using my energy in an alternate way, aside from how they re-energize me and enable me to digest life, both writing and card-making also show a bigger picture of who I am than my speech ever will, and in a way that it never could.

Still, whenever I explain myself or communicate, no matter verbally, through writing or in other creative endeavors, it will always involve my hands.

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Superwoman Syndrome

“Mommy, I want to be a superhero when I grow up,” has lately been a more frequent statement from the mouth of my babe. Both my husband and I find it incredibly cute, as we know it derives from the love the three of us share for video games and LEGO and any of the other things that are relatable. Not from what it implicates for bigger girls, like mommy…

I was in the clear from both Halloween and Thanksgiving when I realized it. I swore it would never be me, because in spite of my type “A” personality and deep-seated desire to achieve perfection, I long ago admitted to myself that striving for greatness is one thing, but expecting it is impossible. Nevertheless, it happened. I’ve developed Superwoman Syndrome.

I swore it would never be me dealing with this. My restlessness increased several notches in tandem with said realization. The holiday season did this. Ok, maybe it didn’t. Maybe it was there, hibernating like something big, bad, and poisonous in remission. But the big three — my dub for the holiday season — that usher in the year’s end certainly brought it directly to the surface. I so badly couldn’t wait to get Christmas in the rear view that I felt twitchy, like an addict experiencing withdrawal.

Why such sourness over what are meant to be special, happy times? Well, as it is, during the regular weekly grind, I have a tendency to try to do everything. The holiday season was simply a horrible math equation: do everything + 10 x 100 = my personal Kryptonite.

The post-cleanup, for me, was no better. What’s that old adage? Work begets work? Sounds right to me, as persistent into January, there’s an avalanche effect in place — the more I do, the more there is to do.

I know I’m not alone. (None of us are in any of our human emotions.) Other moms have so much more going on than I do — surely they with their full-bloom careers and at least double the amount of children, plus bigger extended families and a few pets feel the entire width and breadth of the Superwoman Syndrome.

In case you’ve never heard of this term before,  it was initially coined by Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz, in her book The Superwoman Syndrome, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superwoman_(sociology)) and what it sounds like is exactly what it indicates: feeling constant, intense pressure (whether inwardly, outwardly, or both) to do everything, do it well, do it hard. And do it wearing every hat of every role that you are, or are trying to be. (source: http://carijean.hubpages.com/hub/Superwoman-Syndrome). Yes, it even sounds stressful. Just reading it over while I write this caused me a spike in anxiety.

During the early days of this concept in the 1970s-1980s — on the coattails of the second wave of American feminism– a shift in women’s traditional roles had occurred, turning housewives into career professionals. Women were then filling duel roles: that of being at home with the children and striving toward goals involving previously masculine jobs and/or “public social status.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superwoman_(sociology))

This led to what American feminist and author, Betty Friedan called a “double enslavement of women” in her book The Second Stage. Friedan urged women to fight to reshape and redefine not only both gender roles, but “social values, styles, and institutional structures,” as well in order to attain fulfillment of public and personal life sans sacrificing one in order for the other to exist. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superwoman_(sociology))

Granted, Superwoman Syndrome pertains more to women who work outside of the home: professionals, community organizers, activists, volunteers and socialites  — which I do wish were the case for me — but I won’t sell myself short; I know how much I do as well as how much more I am trying to do. Currently, my list includes but is not limited to, and occurring in whichever order life dictates: take care of my family/raise my daughter; keep up our humble abode; workout; write/blog; craft greeting cards for friends and family; serve as secretary on my neighborhood home owners’ association board; be an occasional art student; be socially active/meet new people/get together with the friends that I already have; expand the number and quality of friendships my daughter has…I know there’s more. I’m forgetting something…I just know I am.

But you get my meaning. If you think about it, the list above adds up. Lots of women have a list like mine, and worse than mine. And because I feel such a huge responsibility about essentially everything, such a big need to prove myself everyday (don’t ask me to whom, because I don’t know), I sometimes can not shut my mind off. Bedtime literally turns into a mental rehash of my to-do list. Both what I accomplished during business hours, and what looms ahead.

“Do you ever give yourself a break, allow yourself to relax?” No, http://carijean.hubpages.com, I don’t. I no longer know how.

“…You are feeling overworked, overwhelmed and overly committed. You are also probably exhausted, anxious and stressed to the max. But don’t worry – you are not alone.” Yes and yes, http://carijean.hubpages.com. But it is reassuring to learn that plenty of other women are dealing with this, too. According to this site, Superwoman Syndrome even strikes “girls as young as 13” and “college-aged women,” who are affected due to their efforts “to excel in school, sports, looks and relationships.”

As awesome as it is that my daughter is dreaming big dreams, and as willing as both my husband and I are to always be supportive of who she is and what she wants, I know how easy it would be for her proclamation to turn into pressure. How wanting to be a superhero could morph into feeling like she has to be one. I don’t want this for her.

There are apparently many reasons, many motivations as to why other women like me are driven to “don the proverbial cape,” which are listed in a book, Overcoming the Superwoman Syndrome. Here are those that I feel match me:

  • Have a tendency towards people-pleasing
  • Want to feel like they can do it all
  • To feel accomplished
  • Have low self-esteem
  • Strive for perfection

The silver-lining — or at least what I feel is — is that “the Superwoman is also a good person, duty oriented, very responsible and truly desires to do what is right.” (http://carijean.hubpages.com/hub/Superwoman-Syndrome). Sounds like a glowing compliment to me. I’ll take it! But back to the seriousness of it all…

Stress, its related illnesses, and the “unhealthy coping patterns” that it can produce are what make the Superwoman Syndrome dangerous. Ulcers, migraine headaches, high blood pressure, and heart problems are among the scenarios that can play out due to stress induced by the Superwoman Syndrome. I certainly don’t want any of that!

According to hubpages.com, a study conducted on women ages 25 to 34 focusing on stress and coping patterns uncovered food consumption as a coping mechanism by one-third of the women; more physical and emotional stress in younger women than those in the study that were older; and that females under 25 were frequently developing eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia. Thankfully, my commitment to personal fitness keeps me in check from overindulging on food. But because I am  also being careful to not teeter in the wrong direction, I still make sure to eat, and eat healthy, so I should also be in the clear from such disorders. That of course still leaves me at risk for physical and emotional stress, which is more difficult to combat.

In spite of how rooted this overall problem can become, the hubpages supplies a second list: tactics some women have used to overcome and heal from their belief that they have to do everything, and well:

 “Assertiveness Training- learn to express yourself, your thoughts, your feelings, your beliefs, all while respecting the rights of others. Assertive behavior can prevent problems that have the potential to create stress. (Part of why I started this blog! Yay me!)

Support system – build your own support system and form effective relationships. These people can give help and comfort during times of potential stress. (Working on it…)

Learn to delegate and ask for help – you really don’t have to do everything. If your kids are old enough, ask them for help with housework. Ask your husband to lend a helping hand at home. It really is okay to ask for help. (I’ve gotten better at asking my spouse to pitch in, and he has gotten better at sensing when I need him to.)

Let go of perfectionism- realize that the house does not have to be clean 24/7. Dinner does not have to be just right every evening. It really is impossible to be perfect all of the time. (Man, I was doing so well! Perfectionism is part of who I am, thusly lies the rub.)

Make the sacrifice- is it time for a sacrifice? Maybe sacrificing work to stay at home? Maybe downsizing your home? Ask yourself what things you can live without. Try to focus on your needs instead of your wants. (Back on track — lately, I’ve been having thought processes that go this more helpful, positive route of eliminating the unnecessary.)

Take time out for you – get your hair done, a massage, a pedicure. Go shopping for a new outfit. Go off somewhere on your own and read a good book. Have coffee with a good friend. The world really will go on while you take a break.” (I am not the type who normally does the first three, but the remaining suggestions are great. Sometimes only in theory. Nevertheless, some of these are things I miss doing due to lack of time or untamed restlessness. Who ever thought so much effort would be needed to do what looks or feels like nothing?) (http://carijean.hubpages.com/hub/Superwoman-Syndrome)

So, this leaves me wondering — now that I’ve realized how far my stress can and does escalate — if identifying it is just the beginning of dealing with it, or if I am now in a downhill slide. If I can get a grip on this, can I also save my daughter from ever experiencing this, or at least help her cope were she to find herself here at any age (even if unfortunately as early as 13)? Of course, I don’t have any answers, but hopefully I will now that I see myself a little clearer, in spite of the difficulty of this type of self image.

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Fitness Freak: Navigating the Ups and Downs of Attempting a Healthy Living

I can’t seem to get enough. Its become an addiction. It feels like a drug. If I skip for even one day, I don’t feel right. Twenty minutes is only ok when I’ve gotten to it late in the afternoon, or time is short because of extra events in the day, but on the stipulation that I go to extremes and follow Jillian Michaels, Bob Harper or Violet Zaki. Half an hour is passable, and I can find peace in that duration…but it just doesn’t feel like a genuine session unless I devote 4o minutes or more. I am becoming a fitness freak. I like this about me.

Me, who was one of the least athletic kids ever. Me, who detested gym class (and still on occasion has nightmares about it). Me, who having always battled depression slumped around more often than not, ate things I wouldn’t even think of now, had no idea of portion control, in a household where my parent was not attempting to become more fit herself so that I could emulate that example earlier on.

That kid grew up into a health-conscious woman who now realizes as an adult that not only was the encouragement missing for me to get active, try a sport, be mindful of what I put into my body, but I never believed in myself enough to picture fitting the description of an active, physically fit teen. But then, I am a Virgo, the most health-conscious Zodiac of all. So, maybe it was predestined that I would eventually make the decision to turn things around.

I wouldn’t say now that I was ever fat — my adolescent self would debate this with you for hours though — but truthfully, my weight did fluctuate dramatically at times, causing me to be a little chunky one year, then a little gaunt in the face the next. This was especially true in my photo I.D. for my senior year of high school. I remember being taken off guard a little by how thin my face appeared when I received it. I can tell you it wasn’t from exercise, or eating right. I don’t remember what it was. It could have been that I had been deep in a summer depression, and that it was the sort that makes you lose interest in food. I hope it was walking, as did do a lot of that when I was younger. And yes, this is a form of exercise, but I never did it for that reason. Instead, it was how I got around. Maybe the rollercoaster was my subconscious attempting to communicate. Maybe I was keeping it a secret from myself that I wanted to be healthier.

It wasn’t until after college and relocating from Pennsylvania to Maryland that at 135 pounds, I allowed myself to fully realize my wish to start working on getting fit. I’m only 5 feet tall, so my tiny stature seemed to truly show all of what I weighed. It was kind of kismet that the apartment complex where my husband and I lived had a small, but efficiently functional exercise room for residents to use. It became my catalyst for living healthier. I even quit smoking somewhere in my 20s. But the exercise room gets no credit for this. That was all me + the realization that I wanted to be a mother eventually, but I didn’t want my child(ren) exposed to carcinogens every day, which then equated to the cold turkey approach.

Fast forward most of a decade. Because my motivation and commitment to exercise increased before my pregnancy, post-birth I was chomping at the bit to get any kind of body back. When my doctor confirmed that I could resume working out, I was off to the races. I want to be fanciful and say that it was like riding a bike. I think that I would be lying to you. Really, it took awhile to get back into a regular, steady schedule. It certainly took another year for me to not feel like a cartoonish hippo, both with stubborn baby fat clinging to my core and a major lack of balance. But I got there in stages, and with each stage my focus ramped up as well as the personal importance of investing the time in myself.

I wish that I could tell you I’m stacked like a super model now. I’m totally not. What I am though is fitter than I ever was previously in life, and always striving toward the next stage. After all, we’ve all got our flaws, temptations and problem areas. Mine are relentless beasts at times. And life presents setbacks, challenges. Like over this past summer…

Since I am the farthest thing from a morning person, I don’t know how I finessed myself into the temporary habit of rising at 6 a.m. via the alarm, but this passed spring and summer I did so most days of the week in order to get my workout in before breakfast, before my daughter woke, before the day got noisy and off-track the way some days manage to become. Forcing myself to do this was a character-building event and it stepped up my game. Even on “off” days where I just slept in because I needed to, I was still laying down consecutive workouts, albeit late afternoon.

I had five more pounds that I wanted to shed, but when I hit a plateau and the scale seemed to stare me down at a dead stop, I realized that I was at a not so bad spot, and that I was ok with the numbers it listed. Just like life though, when I stopped thinking about it, and kept up exercising those very five pounds disappeared, and I dropped a pant size. Impressive as that may sound, I was bordering between two sizes anyhow.

The downside to dropping a size though, is that some of the stuff that fit normally before suddenly fit too loose. I know. Poor me, needing a belt with all my bottoms. Please present your smallest violins. Here’s the thing though: I knew that I put in the work required to get to that point, so I also knew I deserved those kind of results. Once you reach a goal that you thought you couldn’t, you fear losing what you attained.

I bought some new clothing. Some cute boyfriend trousers Old Navy was promoting for spring. Four pairs in four different colors. I thought I looked as slender as Keri Russell in them. (The Americans had recently had a season finale, hence that actress being at the forefront of my comparisons then.) Of course, temperatures rose and any type of pants were ditched for two months, give or take, while shorts took the stage.

Because of my love for food, I did not want to get cocky and start thinking that I suddenly had a physique that could take in whatever the heck I please — ice cream for example — but then still hold at a decent fitness level without further work. Afterall, one of the fitness experts I follow, Chris Freytag, reminds people that a poor diet can not be out-trained.

Lo! Somewhere in those fast, warm weeks, I must have done exactly that, gotten cocky  — 6 pounds were back, loud and proud. My boyfriend trousers were suddenly snug. I felt like a sausage trying to be a person.

Even though I kept reminding myself that my self worth does not hinge upon a number, I worried. Worried that no matter how much or well I continued to exercise, no matter how much I turned things around, that I wouldn’t be able to get off what I gained back. Worse, worried that the digits would increase before I could make necessary changes in attitude and diet.

I’ve been told that I worry too much. It’s probably true. As pregnancy did for my workouts, so did this challenge — made me try harder and remember why I even exercise so frequently to begin with. To hopefully be on track for a healthy old age. To set a solid example for my daughter. For lasting brain cognition. To fit into my own clothing, as well as anything new that I fancy to try on in stores. To eliminate stress. To regulate depression. And yes, to be as much of a hot mama as I can…but getting skinny is nothing without all of the above.

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Life Rules or The Anti-Resolution List

It’s the beginning of the year. Have I made a Resolutions list? Heck, no! Not because I don’t believe in setting new goals for oneself or resetting those that got mixed up in the shuffle of life. Not because I don’t believe in myself enough to finish what I start, or even start what I meant to months ago. But because the concept of forcing oneself to suddenly leap toward an unrealistic level of perfection, toward a version of ourselves that we may not yet be ready to become — no matter how much better it would be to evolve into that next version, nor no matter how much we desire to — always seems like a recipe for disappointment, for self-loathing.

January 1st is not a be-all, end-all date. Nor is the first week, the second week, or any part of this first month. Self-improvement can start and should start on any given day, as well as take whatever frame of time necessary for each individual. Really though, for me, self-improvement is a continuous loop, that even though never-ending, requires tweaks now and then.

In any case, I ceased the creation of a New Years’ Resolutions list several full calendar years back. I haven’t missed that list, which is astounding coming from a person who writes lists for just about every aspect of her life. In its place I present my first ever Anti-Resolution list, which is really just some rules I try to live by that are the result of lessons learned, or in the least what perspective and distance can come after a length of time following a negative experience.

~No matter how awful other people are/can be, don’t allow yourself to start mirroring it or to stop being a nice person.~ Unfortunately, in the past, this used to happen to me. In fact, the last time I allowed this sort of negativity to suck me in, I was so mired in it, so sad and unhappy, that it effected the job I had at that time. And the reason for that was because the negativity came from the job, specifically from clicky co-workers and self-entitled clientele. I lost the ability to separate who I was and who I wanted to be, from who the people were (or at least seemed like) that I dealt with.

The truth of the phrase that says how people act toward you is a reflection of who they are, not you…just wasn’t occurring to me. I was angry. I felt justified. It all got so bad for me that to this day I still know how lucky I was to leave on my own terms, as opposed to being exterminated, which is where I was headed. So, whenever someone I either barely know or not even at all treats me like I killed his/her dog, I remind myself that they don’t know me; I shouldn’t take it personally. I remind myself that this is another person in front of me — even if they are acting less than human — and that I don’t know what issues life is presenting them. I remind myself of how awful, horrible, ugly I felt all the times that I reacted in an equally rancid manner. And I try to let it go. I try. Then I turn my thoughts to positivity and Ellen DeGeneres, and ponder further the correlation between being nice and being well-liked.

~If you’re in any kind of negative mood, do not allow yourself to use social networks. If you absolutely can’t keep yourself off, then do not post anything.~ Further, don’t drink an entire bottle of wine on a night like this, and sign on because we all know that with most human beings, alcohol amplifies your current emotion. Gee, is she speaking from direct experience? you might be asking. Most definitely. With much regret that took bunches of time to forgive myself about. A night of saying foolish things publicly while simultaneously absolutely scaring my husband and child (with my sadness, not violence or anything else of the like). After having an alcoholic father, this was a headspace I had previously promised myself I would never find myself in. Even though I broke that promise to myself that time, all it took was that time to know for certain that I’ll never break it again.

Now, backing away from that specific moment (shuddering…), let’s address Facebook. I find that it has a dark stealthiness at times, which breeds negativity and hatred. You pop in to check messages and leave wanting to end yourself. Or at least, I’ve had sessions like this. Whether you go to it feeling badly or leave with the realization that it caused ill feelings, do what you came for, then get outta Dodge. A lengthier visit can be saved for later when you’re leaning more toward the sunny side of life.

~When you’re in the crummiest frame of mind, the hardest and best thing that you can do, should do, need to do is force your perspective to change.~ Watch a comedy. On second thought, watch several. Finding yourself laughing at a situation that you probably commiserate with helps to make your own situation seem less isolating, less insurmountable, less intolerable. Change your scenery. For me, sometimes this means going to and using a different part of my house. Even better, get out for a walk. I have found that my personality is such that whenever I am either doing the same activity for too long, or in the same space for awhile, I need to switch things up.

~Like Sheryl Crow sang, if it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad. But if it makes you miserable, it’s time to reevaluate.~ I wouldn’t call myself a Crow fan — I’m neutral — but I have always respected this song lyric. It spoke to me. It said: the people that tell you that you shouldn’t do something because they think you shouldn’t — and it isn’t hurting anyone — can sod it. A ballsy attitude that I once did not have. On the other hand, anything that no longer makes sense, that causes you to be utterly down is toxic. I’ve been here more than once or even twice. I’ve made myself continue to do something that only caused me misery simply because I felt like quitting would mark me as a failure. It took several versions of the same conversation with my spouse to eventually understand and accept that making the decision to stop doing any thing after any amount of time does not make me a failure at all. Instead, what it really is, is trying. Trying to grow, connect, develop. Trying at life.

~If someone is no longer in your life, leave them in the past. With all former versions of yourself. ~ There is a reason they are part of your past. Even if you have lost sight of what the reason happened to be. Don’t attempt to make contact or bring them back into the fold. Nostalgia or no, just don’t do it. Sometimes, memory of a person allows us to romanticize who and how they were. And they might have been great. But may no longer be. Or they were never great, we just thought they were when we were young. Or, as are all prone, change has occurred, either through life circumstance or through personal will. And even if the changes you or the other person has gone through were for the betterment of the individual, even if you’re both good souls, you might still be souls that no longer align or never did.

This is on the list because, yes, it is another one that I have done, kept doing, until the lesson finally stuck. Until I got tired of wasting my time with a forced connection from either side, or getting hurt yet again.

~Don’t discuss politics or religion with most people.~ Obviously, both are hot buttons, which I feel is reason enough to avoid conversing about either. But differences in opinions or beliefs here weigh more than with other topics. And can be as dangerous as landmines. Any time I’ve strayed from this guideline, I only ended up feeling uncomfortable, and worried over whether a relationship was just demolished due to the differences. Another point though, is that of information. Because I tend to not pay much attention to the news or world events — which frequently cross paths with politics and religion — I am not as up-to-date or self-educated on these topics. Getting into a conversation, especially from the angle of how current happenings merge with the history of the two would just be naive. And even if there is certainty that a friend, co-worker, relative, neighbor, whomever believes in the same ideal(s) as you do, they might still take a different bend.

There are more life rules that I try to live by then just these six, but not only were these the ones to come to mind immediately, they are also, in my opinion, each useful and have their own importance.

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