Taking Care of Your “Right Now’s”

Allowing Yourself To Be Vulnerable

In my quest for some level of mental stability, I sometimes find myself quite angry, which usually leads to sadness. This is no good because I really do work hard to stay in the good vibes zone, but how can I stay in the zone when I have trouble finding it?

The fact that I know that such a place exists and that I own and control it helps. However, on occasions, my mind overpowers my soul, and I have trouble finding balance. The first step in resolving any problem is identifying the issue and its components, so when recently I began to feel myself slipping into despair, I immediately checked myself.

Nothing new has happened. So what is wrong with you? Why are you upset?

Self Assessment

I’m sure that I overstate the importance of self assessment in my blogs, and I am a woman of my word. I perform self evaluations regularly. Sometimes, while evaluating myself, I have bouts of nostalgia and words or events from the past present themselves. Many times, this leads me to the answers that I seek. There are also times when these strolls down memory lane are more damning than productive.

Back Down Memory Lane…

With music playing in the background, I placed my head in my hands and began to question myself as to where these feelings could be coming from, and what, if anything, are the triggers. If I can figure that out, I can possibly create new triggers that would help to keep me in the good vibes zone. I closed my eyes and thought about it long and hard.

Recently, I have been cleaning my life out– especially after being diagnosed with BPD. I have eliminated some people from my life and minimized the roles of some people and activities. Although this was done as an attempt to free myself of dead weight (and that has been the positive result), it also left me with a lot of free space in my life, which introduced me to an emotion that I had never in my life experienced: loneliness. While I have plenty of things to do, I have little or no interactions with other human beings. All of my life, there have always been more people around than I wanted. Now that no one is around, it kind of hurts. I hate to admit it, but I kind of miss it.

I live in a town that I really don’t like. I don’t know anyone here, nor do I want to know anyone. From what I’ve seen thus far, I’m not missing out on much by not being socially active in Clarksville. Apparently, I had become dependent upon the very people that I had to sever ties with. However, I don’t regret severing those ties as those relationships were no longer productive–in fact, they were holding me back, mentally. As I evolve, I require more, and I don’t feel bad about that. I also have no intentions of reviving those relationships. This is just an uncomfortable part of the process. It will pass.

That Can’t Be All…

I’ve accepted that I am lonely but too stubborn to go for the quick fix. Okay, that’s good! I’ve got a standard and I’ll accept nothing less than what or who makes me genuinely happy. Since up until now, I would usually settle for close enough, this is actually reassuring. I can work with that. Being alone explains the sadness, but why do I become so angry?

By now, my head is flat on my desk and Aretha is singing about “the deepness of your eyes“, while I come to some serious realizations.

I’m pissed. Why?

I’m pissed that I’ve been a fad in the lives of people that I’ve loved. I’ve been shown that I am replaceable– used and tossed away like a Kleenex. I’m pissed that people are so stupid that that they’d toss away someone who would support all of their efforts, but none of their bullshit. That’s the kind of friend that I’ve always been to people and the kind of friend that I’ve always valued. To this day, I’ve got three friends who have always been that for me–two of which I have known since high school. We don’t talk everyday but I know that they have my back, but they will also kick my ass if necessary. Those feelings and actions are mutual from me to them as well.

As I continued to assess myself, I learned that I am angry about a plethora of other things :

I’m angry with my youngest son for bringing me grief and having a cavalier attitude about it. I’m mad at entire neighborhoods in my hometown for making me feel as though I did not belong just because I was different. I’m mad at some of those same people to this day for acting as if none of that ever happened. I’m mad at several relatives for being two faced, bitter, miserable, and perhaps, jealous bitches–who never really had my back, and in fact, caused and/or perpetuated many problems for me. I’m angry at anyone who has ever looked at me wrong or insultingly called me crazy. I have hatred for a conformist society that makes it difficult for people who are cut from a different cloth, but are not causing harm to anyone or anything. I have disdain for the Black church for perpetuating such ideas in the name of God. I am violently angry with my mother for dying. But most of all, I am not at all pleased or impressed with God, who despite my kicking, begging, and pleading, continues to awaken me morning after morning, sometimes after very little sleep–just to repeat the same stupid process. That’s not merciful, that’s sadistic!

Then the song changed and Donny Hathaway’s “Lord Help Me” began to play. I love music, but it can be pretty sarcastic sometimes. As the song played, I began to cry. Usually, when I feel myself tearing up, I’ll get up and move around, or hit something, or hit myself (anything to stop the tears), but this time, I allowed myself to cry.

While sobbing, I thought back to a few years ago when I googled “how to disappear without a trace“. I was pretty sure that I could do it; it had been done plenty of times before. Before I could give that idea any serious thought, the words of one of my high school friends came to me:

“B, you’re regal. Queens don’t carry bags, walk through back doors, or run away”

Damn… Can’t Even Run Away

There’s no need to runaway because I have identified my problems and their components; now I can work on the resolution. I’ve identified that I am lonely, hung up on some events from the past, and that people suck and sometimes they die. But, I’m still here!

I needed to take a break from it all. I needed to meditate, breathe, reconnect, get tuned in. It took a while, but I was eventually able to slow myself down enough to ask myself an important question: what’s next?

What’s Next?

James Brown’s “It’s A New Day” started to play. By now I am certain that the universe has taken control of iTunes and is now directing my thoughts. I couldn’t deny that it was true, it really was a new day, and I needed to make some pretty quick decisions. I could allow the past to have access to my emotions and control of my actions, or I could do something about it. It was time to compartmentalize these issues, fix what is repairable, and create a defense mechanism for dealing with things that cannot be changed.

I made a list of people that have treated me badly over the years, and from that list, I decided who needs to be addressed and how I would address them–by phone or in writing. Apprehensive of their responses, I almost decided against moving forward with this idea. There’s really no reason to be concerned with their responses, because this is something that I have to do for my own peace of mind, and nothing could possibly be more important than that. If they choose to respond, cool. Either way, it would be up to me as to whether or not I would continue the dialogue.

I had already decided to accept loneliness right now, as it is obviously imperative to my evolution. The universe will provide the right people at the right time. As for now, I’ve got to be strong and steadfast. Since I am free of distraction, I have plenty of time to build a plan that will accomplish my dream, so YAYYY LONELINESS!

Mourning My Mother

As for my mother, I didn’t deal with her death appropriately when she left. I’ve been holding my feelings about that back for 20 years, and now it has manifested itself as anger. Of course I know that she would never have chosen to leave; she loved life. My mother didn’t have any sons, so I know she would have loved and been proud of my boys (even that youngest one) as well as her “twin” granddaughter. I’ve got to allow myself to mourn her and not think of that mourning as weakness. Allowing myself to be vulnerable could actually make me stronger. I’ve always had a problem with vulnerability, so allowing myself to grieve just might be a giant step in the right direction.

Single handedly, I cannot control society and its views of how people or things should be. However, more importantly, I cannot allow that dichotomy to change me. I’ve been “different” all of my life, and I really wouldn’t have it any other way–even with knowing that it has caused people to say hurtful things and treat me unfavorably. Actually, I feel sorry for those who are too closed minded to accept diversity, too afraid to be themselves, and are happy to be slaves to society. I also feel sorry for those who found me replaceable and/or tossed me away. It’s their loss because I’m precious and rare, like Black Opal.

There are plenty of reasons why God continues to awaken His people. Some people have yet to realize their potential and He is giving them every opportunity to successfully complete their missions. Then there are people who have not suffered enough for the evil that they have inflicted (that’s just my opinion). I believe that there is a Divine plan for me and that He is confident that I’m going to get it right. Therefore, life is not a punishment, it’s a gift, but I have to start treating it as such.

Why Am I Sharing This With You?

I’ve always been proud of my ability to stay in the moment. Two of my many mantras are, “There is only now” and “Take care of all of your ‘right now’s’ and all of your ‘tomorrow’s’ will be fine“. All of that time, I was not taking care of my “right now’s”. In fact, I had allowed them to build up so much that it’s going to take time to deal with and get past many of them.

So many times we mistake “Eff it” for actually dealing with an issue, and before long, it seems that the problem is dead. Then we find ourselves giving life to said issues because they were never really resolved; we only “Eff’d it“. “Eff what they said“, “Eff what they did“, “Eff all of it“. That’s not the factory installed defense mechanism for human problems. We are designed to respond to pain. Contrary to popular thought, ignoring things do not make them go away. Whenever your mind or body is trying to tell you something, listen and respond appropriately. Time does not heal all wounds. Sometimes it only covers old wounds with new wounds–each one worse than the last, until we reach our breaking point. I’m learning to allow myself to feel whatever I’m feeling, whenever I’m feeling it. No more being tough, cool, or macho (yeah, I can be kinda macho at times). It’s a major adjustment for me, but I believe that it will pay off for me in the long run.

Allowing ourselves the freedom of vulnerability is essential to our evolution.

Oh, by the way, in case you’re wondering what’s playing now; it’s Roy Ayers, Searching.

Isn’t the universe amazing?

“Our great human adventure is the evolution of consciousness. We are in this life to enlarge the soul, liberate the spirit, and light up the brain.”

~ Tom Robbins

Darkness, Static, & Light

Staying In The Game

The day that I learned about the particulars of Borderline Personality Disorder was one of the hardest days that I’ve had to endure thus far. The first thing that came to mind was:

Most likely, I once had a chance at being great at something. Everything that I have done, been through, or dealt with was not necessarily the result of bad decisions alone. All of this time, I’ve had a friggen chemical imbalance? Maybe I should have told someone that I needed help… OH WAIT! I did tell someone, about 30 years ago, but I wasn’t taken seriously. Well now, what will I do with this new/NOT NEW information? I know what I’ll do, I’ll hate the rest of the world. I’ll stop talking. I’ll stop caring about anyone or anything. Let’s see… I’m 43 years old now, depending on who you ask, that’s middle age. By that rationale, I’ve got 43 more years on this planet to live a completely mentally unstable life. If that is the universe’s plan, the universe is a sick, twisted, and sadistic bitch! In my silence, I’ll just try to find a painless way of shortening that!”

It All Makes Sense Now…

I thought about all of my past relationships–romantic or otherwise, and how I’d rush into someone’s life full speed ahead, only to become tired of that person and exit with the same urgency. I had the same consistency with jobs. I’d be excited about a new position for maybe the first six months to a year, after that I was no longer motivated; not even by money.

Every romantic relationship that I have ever been in should never have happened. They were all wrong for me, and I was wrong for them. Those relationships only came into fruition because I thought I needed someone, or because society said that I was supposed to have someone. Three kids and a failed marriage was the result of those false needs.

Getting tired of the kids and giving up on them was never an option; but I’d be lying if I said I never thought about it, even today. I never left. I stayed and did the best that I could. My motivation was that we were all that we had. I find solace in knowing that I’ve at least been consistent in one area of my life.

I graduated high school on time, but barely. I was in and out of college for years; I was always on the Deans or Presidents List, yet I never earned a degree. I’m sure that I have hundreds of college credits. Staying focused on anything was always extremely hard for me. For years, I’ve beaten myself up for this.

Self medicating with alcohol and sex–lots of both, mismanaging money, unstable relationships, choosing the wrong people, always worrying that I’d be left all alone, a DUI, bad decisions and more. What I learned from all of this was to be tough, so I trained myself not to care. Since I was always worried that people would leave as soon as I showed them that I had invested feelings in them, I’d make sure that I left first–even if only emotionally. I trained myself not to need anyone, even if I needed someone. Instead, I’d always choose to suffer alone since people couldn’t be trusted.

Speaking of people–people enjoyed my back and forth lifestyle; it provided them with much to talk about. “Brandi is lazy“, “She can’t keep a job“, “She’s not doing anything with her life“, “A damned shame...”. Out of those same mouths came scriptures and prayers and declarations of being “Blessed and highly favored“. Now, I had to question whether or not I could trust God, because his so-called “people” could kiss my ass. Not knowing if I was a Christian, an agnostic, or an atheist, I eventually chose what would be called spirituality–but I really don’t care for labels. All I knew was that I never wanted to be “blessed and highly favored” if it meant hypocrisy.

Even though I know that I am different, and I love that I am different; I’ve never enjoyed being treated differently by the ostentatiously cool. I tried to fit in at one time, until I realized that I was lying to myself. Through it all, I’ve always been honest with myself–case in point: I knew that something was wrong with me.

Diagnosed with a battery of conditions–most of which made no sense at all, I went from therapist to psychiatrist to psychologist and on and off different medications–all to no avail. And on THIS DAY, I find out that ALL OF THIS WAS TOTALLY AVOIDABLE! Basically, my whole life up to this point has been bullshit.

Unqualified Opinions

Everyone in my life had been counselors with nary a credential in any form of psychology–but they all had masters degrees in Dr. Phil, Oprah, and to illustrate the length of time that I’ve been dealing with this, even Phil Donahue! If not one of those icons of sixty minute solutions, they’d try to counsel me with their own common sense and logic of things that they had absolutely no experience in. I’d console myself by thinking, “common sense is for common folks–I ain’t common” or “oh well, you’ll continue to age in logic. I’ll continue to not age and stay crazy and cute“. I believed that this was all I had! It seemed as if this was all that I was supposed to be.

I spent several days in silence while pondering all of this. It did nothing to raise my mindset, but it did everything to progress my feelings of hopelessness and desolation. In a matter of days, I had shut myself off from the world and decided to accept being alone and perhaps, silent–forever. I didn’t want anyone else to have to endure me.

Knowing that this problem has a name and is treatable made me feel worse, because it had the same name and was just as treatable 30 years ago when I first said the words, “There is something wrong with me. I can’t turn my mind off“. When I was snatching handfuls of hair from my own head and coloring and reading dictionaries to occupy my mind–this condition had the same name and was just as treatable; if only I had been taken seriously.

Then Anger Commenced…

One would think that this new revelation would fill me with hope for future revolutions. My kids are not babies anymore; they don’t need me as much as they used to. I could fix this issue, and my future chapters could be great. I’d have a second chance. I couldn’t see any of that because I was fixated on the time that I had lost; the bad decisions, and so on, and how they were all completely avoidable. I was pissed! I felt hatred for people.

My downward spirals and side steps were not calculated, but I was confident that that many people enjoyed the show. Pissed and embarrassed, I wanted to give up. Just as I had become accustomed to, I could not turn my mind off. I could not redirect my thoughts. Caught up in my own static, I was replaying the same events in my mind repeatedly until I became so irate that I was trembling.

Revelation

One morning while meditating and trying desperately to slow myself down, the universe showed me one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite TV shows, “Six Feet Under

“…everything in the world is like transmission making its way across the dark. But everything–death, life, everything–its all completely suffused with static, you know? But if you listen to the static too much, it fucks you up”

~Nate Fisher, “Six Feet Under”

That’s exactly what I was doing! I was listening to all of the static and it was indeed effing me up. I had to break from that because just like Borderline Personality Disorder, melancholia and self pity are not my nature. I might go there now and then, but I can’t stay there.

Everything was still very true; I had lost a lot of time and made some terrible judgements that could have been avoided with the right treatment. Had I gotten that treatment and support, my life might have been different–but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it would have been better. I believe that it would have, but that’s only a notion. With my head a little more clear, I was able to see what was gained during that time; I had 3 great kids, I’d seen things, gone places, and I learned things. Because of what I experienced and learned, I’m able to help other people–and I feel good about that. Age plus experience doesn’t necessarily equal wisdom unless you’re smart enough to learn from said experiences, so I’m grateful for the wisdom; but I was still pretty pissed…

I reached out to a high school classmate who’d recently had a similar revelation which required him to make some life changing decisions. When I spoke to him, I made it very clear that if, (and it was a BIG IF) I decided to take the necessary steps needed to treat this condition, it would be most important that I not lose the core of who I am. I could not imagine feeling better as one of the crowd or as a zombie. I will protect my natural spirit at all costs–even if it meant accepting the monster that I had become used to. His exact words were, “No matter what happens, you will always be a different/crazy mfer. Nothing will ever change that!” He went on to tell me that if I consistently follow the program that my doctors arrange for me, and WANT to get better, I’d be surprised at how much my quality of life will improve. My friend had the same apprehensions and fears that I had at first, and he’s doing a lot better now. “You’ll write books after you get your head right!”, he said. Not only is this someone that I trust, but he’s been through it. He’d known about the stigma and stereotypes surrounding mental health issues, especially in the Black community, but he had made a decision at age 43 to do something about it. If one of my best friends from back in the day is strong enough to fight, so am I! And if I should ever feel that I don’t have the strength to fight, I’ll borrow strength from him.

Still In The Game

As of now, I am in the baby stages of controlling Borderline Personality Disorder; researching the condition, and learning more about myself. My therapist and I meet once a week and I am doing mind exercises. I really, really, dislike the mind exercises–but it’s a part of the treatment. No one ever said that it would be easy. I’m optimistic and excited about feeling better and living a more stable life. I’ve surrendered to the universe and I trust my doctors (until they show me that I shouldn’t. Lol! That’s the BPD talking. Or is it…😉).

Whenever a loved one comes to you and tells you that they have a problem, take them seriously. Don’t play therapist or pretend to understand things that you’ve never experienced. Novice attempts at therapy can prove to be dangerous and or life shattering. No one can force anyone to want help, but when you notice changes in people that are outside of the norm or if they tell you that they are not well, help them help themselves. Your support and compassion could change someone’s life.

The universe likes to boss us around sometimes, when it does, question it before you fight it. Actually, you really should not question it–just go with it (but if you’re Socratic like me, you’ll question it). Very likely, it’s trying to show you that an important change is necessary. It’s also likely that the change will be uncomfortable at first, but better for you in the long run. I’ve got a lot to readjust to, but this is a part of my evolution. Everything that I went through was for reasons. Some reasons I understand, while I am completely oblivious to others. However, I am convinced that the right help and the right people came at the right time. I’m still in the game, despite my best efforts. Stay tuned for more awesomeness!

Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.”
~Nido Qubein

Returning To The Good Vibes Zone

A Short Story About Brandi Badd Ass

A while back, I was having trouble staying in balance. Suddenly, I started losing weight. I wasn’t trying to, and I had been eating as much as I usually do. Within a few weeks I had lost nearly twenty pounds; I was barely 100 pounds. I would also become very easily agitated and it became increasingly difficult for me to concentrate on anything for more than a few seconds at a time. When speaking, I would repeat myself unknowingly. People that I would talk to would tell me that I had repeated myself, and it was very embarrassing for me. I was always sore and my vision was blurred. My energy had decreased and it was difficult to get out of bed each morning. As days would pass, my condition worsened. I hated mirrors; I hated my clothes because most of them didn’t fit anymore. I hated the whole situation, and I couldn’t understand what was going on with me and why it was happening. I refused to accept the possibility that I might be sick because I’m a fighter; I don’t get sick. Besides, I can’t stand doctors.

Before all of this happened, I was doing fine. My days were broken down into a series of routines which were written on dry erase boards on the walls of my bedroom. I followed these routines meticulously everyday. Each day I would meditate for 20 minutes before doing anything else. No TV, social media, coffee, or food until 20 minutes of meditation was completed. Some days I would go to the park and meditate by the river, but most days I did it at home. Next, I’d go walk or run a few miles–nothing major, then I’d come home and say goodbye to my sons as the left for school. Then I’d eat and have no more than 2 cups of coffee while watching TV or looking at social media, study my vision boards to check my progress and make plans to further that progress, then I’d start my job. I would repeat this routine in the evening after work, sans the exercise. I always felt great after completing these routines. It gave me time to think and plan and I was able to work a lot of things out. Nothing was ever urgent and even in stressful situations, I was able to remain cool.

Gradually, I started to minimize steps in the routines. Some days I wouldn’t exercise; some days I’d stay in bed and watch TV for an hour before meditating. I’d stop everything to talk to anyone who was trying to communicate with me, and eventually, I had stopped doing any of it. I felt horrible that I had broken a routine that was working so well for me, but I was feeling so weighted at the time that I could not resume it–even though it was written on my wall positioned so it was the first thing that I’d see upon opening my eyes each morning. I kept telling myself that I was “just taking a break” and that I’d “get back to it when I’m ready“.

Had I become lazy?” I asked myself, even though I knew that was impossible. I can be called a lot of things, and a lot of those things could be true, but lazy is not one of them. My problem has always been that I have more energy and ambition than I have things to do, so laziness was out of the question. Maybe I had become bored with the routine, as I tend to do. Perhaps, I could have rearranged it or substituted some of the steps in the process for other things. Whatever the reason was, I clearly no longer desired doing any of it anymore. I felt as if there was a Baby Grand piano strapped to my back, and I almost always had a headache.

Since I had stopped giving time to myself, for the benefit of my own progress, I had plenty of time for everyone else. I was spending more time on the phone and social media–hearing and reading unpleasant things. I was spending too much time on bullshit and listening to people who make conscious decisions to be unhappy. This was draining, and I knew it, but I allowed it.

Trying to sleep at night was the worst! When a person suddenly loses substantial weight, it’s difficult to find a comfortable position to lay in. I’m used to sleeping on my side and now this was very uncomfortable–so I tossed, turned, and awakened frequently. Lack of rest made doing my job unbearable. I was attitudinal and very impatient with my customers. My attitude was, “I don’t feel well and I don’t care about what you need”. That attitude guaranteed that everyday was excruciatingly long.

ENTER AFROLOGIK

I had been toying around with the idea of starting a new blog or a podcast for about a year. I’d start planning and then abandon the idea. One day, the name “Afrologik” came to me. I liked how it sounded and felt, so I started hashtagging it. After seeing it, I liked how it looked. At this time, I hadn’t yet decided to write a blog, but I kept hashtagging it because I knew that I could eventually do something with such a cool name. In the interim, I still had not returned to performing my daily routines, my attitude had not changed, I still felt sick, I hadn’t gained any weight, and I was still wasting my time with people who were siphoning away what was left of my spirit.

One day a friend told me that I am a pretty good writer. This meshed with what was going on in my head as far as using the name “Afrologik” and that I had thought about starting a new blog. With that encouragement, I decided to give myself a nudge. Since I was already familiar with WordPress, I did some research, viewed some blogs, and ultimately chose a plan and purchased a domain name. I was off to a good start. Now I needed to get busy building the site and writing.

People Can Be Anchors

With a domain name, a WordPress site paid up for a year, and encouragement from someone that I trusted, one would think that I had all of motivation that I could possibly need, right? Well, obviously, it wasn’t, because my behavior hadn’t changed at all. I had the name and the site, but I hadn’t written a word. However, I was still allowing the same people to bombard me with their lives to the point where I was adopting their issues as my own. I felt as though large anchors were chained to my ankles preventing me from moving forward.

I could not move, but I could sit. So, one day, I opened a notebook and begun to write. The more I wrote, the more inspired I became. From this, a new routine was formed. Regardless of what I’d have to do on any given day, I’d have to find time to write. It didn’t matter what I wrote about as long as I wrote for an unspecified amount of time each day. I became so excited by this new habit that it was all I could talk about. And when those ridiculous “anchors” would call on me to intrude upon my day with mindless nonsense, I’d immediately redirect the conversation to Afrologik and how much I was enjoying writing. Even during this change, I was still underweight, sore, my vision was still blurry, and I was still crabby–but I was having less headaches.

I became reacquainted with a friend from middle school on Facebook. While chatting with him on Messenger one day, I told him what I had been doing and asked him if he would mind editing for me. He agreed and shortly thereafter, “Welcome To Afrologik” was written and published, followed immediately by “12 Steps To Staying Youthful“. Both articles received great responses and people started to follow my blog. This was intriguing as well as reassuring. Soon, everything in sight became an idea for a blog. I was happier, but my mental and health status was still unstable.

I started seeing a therapist, because I needed help in creating a plan to regain some level of mental stability. I believed that if I could just “get my head right“, the health issue would also be resolved. My therapist is awesome, and I’m not just saying that because she’ll probably read this (LOL!). The first two meetings consisted of me crying hysterically and telling her that “no matter what I do, I end up feeling like this!“. Talking to her once a week and doing the homework that she assigned helped me feel better–for a while, but my behavior still hadn’t changed. I was still wearing those anchors.

That’s What Friends Are For

With Afrologik off to what I considered to be a decent start and receiving good feedback, I noticed that the anchors hadn’t visited the site, but I was still being a sounding board for their ridiculousness. When I spoke to one of them about this, I was told that although they will offer moral support, they would not follow my blog for reasons that are so fantastically stupid that I refuse to insult my keyboard by typing them. Another anchor posted part of the “12 Steps…” on Facebook as their own. What AWESOME friends I have, right? LOL!

Emerging From The Water- A Brand New Day

Days later, while listening to more of the same nonsensical excerpts of the lives and times of anchors via video message, I had finally heard enough. I stopped the message– probably in the middle–and decided to go take a shower. After I showered I wrapped myself in a towel, stepped out of the bathtub, and walked over to my vanity. As I reached for a bottle of lotion, the towel fell from me. I saw myself in the mirror at 105 pounds, and I did all that I could to keep from crying. I said out loud to my reflection, “You cannot lose ANYMORE weight! What you need to lose are PEOPLE! Lose some people weight! You know that it’s time for some people to GO!”

Our AWESOME Universe

I have not yet decided if the universe was waiting for me to say those words, or if what happened next was all happenstance. I’d like to believe that the universe wanted me to make the realization on my own before it would take action.

One of my anchors contacted me to tell me that our “friendship” was over without giving much of a reason. This was the best news that I could have gotten because I had already decided to bring communication to a screeching halt without any explanation. I really didn’t care how it happened, as long as it happened! In fact, that’s exactly what I did with the other anchor. Just like that, it was all over and neither party would ever have to endure the other again. Harmony!

That night, I lit a candle, filled the bathtub with water–as hot as I could stand–and poured some sea salt and lavender oil into it. With some old school Roy Ayers playing in the background, I laid back in the water until only my face was not underwater (because you know, I still had to breathe). As sweat beads formed on my forehead, I imagined that I was releasing all of the toxins that I had endured and that I would emerge from that water brand new, and that’s exactly what happened. I had returned to my good vibes zone.

The next morning, I resumed my original daily routine, as written on my dry erase boards, and added power writing each night. Within two weeks, I gained seven pounds and my vision was no longer blurry. I’m still working toward my usual weight, which is 125 pounds, but I’m no longer losing weight. I still see my therapist every week, sometimes every two weeks. And guess what? My life isn’t perfect! I have personal ups and downs; I have bad days at work; I still make myself available for my children and my friends, and when they are not happy, it weighs on me. I don’t mind, because they carry my weight at times as well. Balance.

The intended purpose of this story is that having the wrong people in your life can affect you mentally as well as physically. Anyone who does not celebrate you in your victories, support you in your efforts, or tries to attach themselves to the things that you’ve worked hard on, does not belong in your life. The anchors that were in my life are not bad people at all; we just no longer fit into each other’s lives. We weren’t feeding each other anymore. When you discontinue to feed any living thing, it dies. Those relationships were once alive and vibrant, and I will always cherish what they were at one time. Towards the end, the kinship was already dead; it just hadn’t been buried yet. As soon as they were given a proper burial, my health improved. I hope that their lives improved also.

Sometimes we have to sacrifice people and things; this enables us to grow, and it creates space for new people and new things that will carry us onto further greatness. It’s important to be smart enough to recognize what or who is hindering us, and strong enough to walk away. Change can be difficult at first. For instance, after those deletions were made, I had no one to talk to, as most of the people in my life are extremely busy. That turned out to be a good thing, because it encouraged me to become extremely busy–working on myself.

It’s all a part of the process of life. Trust the process and believe that you can take flight. But, you will never leave the ground, if you have anchors chained to your ankles.

“When you wake up, each day looks the same, so each day should be a new beginning”

~Prince

I Know We Just Met, But I Don’t Think I Like You

How To Handle Introductions To Unpleasant People

Have you ever met someone that you instantly did not like? I’m sure that at some point we have all experienced this. It’s not always a bad thing.

I had an experience a few years ago where I was invited to a friends house and when I arrived, my friend had other company — a couple of ladies that I had never met. After being introduced to these women, I shook their hands. I shook the hand of the first woman, it was a normal handshake, she seemed nice. The second woman’s handshake sent something through me that I can’t quite describe, but it was not a good feeling. As this woman spoke, the bad feeling intensified. Eventually, the sight of her made me feel sick to my stomach. Mind you, I was only in this woman’s presence for an hour at best. There was something about her that just did not mesh well with me. I made a polite excuse and left. As I drove off, I began to feel better. Whenever my mind wandered back to that visit I’d become sick again. By this time I had reasoned that I felt bad about my instantaneous dislike for someone that I didn’t know.

During the hour that was spent with this woman, she did nothing offensive. She was just annoying and spoke non stop. I live in the south where this is common, its not a reason to dislike someone. Maybe it was just a case of bad chemistry. This really hurt me because I try to give everyone a chance before making such a judgment. I had to be honest with myself: I just didn’t like her, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Intuition: The ability to understand something immediately without conscious reasoning.

Also known as a “Gut Feeling”*

When meeting new people or going to unfamiliar places trigger feelings, emotions, or or affect your natural demeanor, that is intuition — don’t ignore it! Usually, intuitive feelings are correct. Since as humans we have a need to have control of our feelings we might try to out reason our intuition. It is always important to consider our intuitions and why they are telling us that something or someone is not good for us.

After checking your intuition and trying to bear the company of someone of whom you are hopelessly incompatible with, it is probably best that you part ways. In order to do so respectably, keep a few things in mind.

  • Consider the source

If you were introduced to this person by someone who is your friend or a family member, don’t allow your intuition to make them uncomfortable. Be respectful and exit the situation. Do not make faces, speak in innuendo, become preoccupied with your phone, or make snide remarks. When you make your exit, make sure that you also offer a “goodbye” to the person that you don’t prefer as well. It is okay to dislike someone, but it is never okay to be discourteous. Explain to your friend later that it is best that you are not placed in the company of that person.

  • Consider yourself

Maybe it’s you. Consider the mood that you were in when you met this person. What happened that day? What was on your mind? Could you be jealous of this person? How where you feeling? These are all things that can effect the way that we treat people. Before making a final judgment, take a look in the mirror.

  • Don’t Be Cruel (Well, try not to…)

You never know who you are going to need later in life. Each person is a resource–we are all good for something. If you find yourself dealing with someone that you do not prefer, be honest with them but not cruel, if it can be avoided. However, if it cannot be avoided then remember that sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.

I had a co worker a few years ago whose conversation I could have done without. I dealt with her random babbling’s the best I could and for as long as I could. One Sunday night while preparing for the work week, I thought about how I would at some point on Monday have to hear a bunch of nothing about this woman’s weekend. That night, I decided to be honest with her.

Sure enough on Monday my co-worker tried to put me to sleep with boring details about her weekend. This time I interrupted her tirade with honesty. I told her that it wasn’t necessary for us to discuss non work related issues. Her feelings might have been temporarily hurt, but she got over it. That was better than me repeatedly enduring the boring tales of her weekend adventures. Had I not tactfully put an end to this, I might have said something that would damage the work relationship. Many times after this conversation I would need her help with on the job tasks and she had no problem helping me.

Always listen to your gut, but do so with an open mind.

Plan “A” Is All That You Need

10 Reasons Why A “Plan B” Isn’t Necessary

Plan B“, “Alternate Strategy”, “Back Up Plans” are all very practical and safe reasonings. After all, we have all been conditioned to think with the logic of the cliche “Plan A is always have a ‘Plan B’”. We all feel much safer knowing that we have several systems in place just in case something goes wrong (as they usually do), right?

The problem with “Back-Up Plans” is that they almost always become lifestyles, careers, and sometime even spouses! Plan B is nothing more than an excuse for allowing ourselves to become lazy or complacent, instead of putting the required work and effort into our original goal, dream, or passion. Sure, it may be a safe and comfortable place to settle; but it might not be very fulfilling to spend the rest of our lives that way.

The alternate plan is not a crutch, it’s a couch. A place to lounge and be comfortable while watching television, reading, or any other form of entertainment that is being provided by people who have worked hard and put in the time and effort to to live their “Plan A”. Sometime you have throw practicality and safety to the wind and take a chance on yourself!

The second that we form a back-up plan, we have decided that our primary plans will fail. If we really think about it, in the time used forming alternate plans we could have been building a stronger process for our primary goals. The questions to ask ourselves are: “How badly do I want this?” and “What am I willing to risk?”. For our goals, our dreams, and for ourselves we should be willing to risk everything!

1 Devise Your Plan A And Put It Into Motion

Take the necessary time to find your goal. Do the research. Go online, talk to other people that are in the field that you are interested in. Make sure that this is the move for you. If you are positive in your heart and mind that this is something that you not only want to do, but was born to do, then there is no need for a Plan B.

2- Work Hard At It Daily

If you already have a full time job, now you have two! This is going to require all of the time and brainpower that you have. I work forty hours per week for someone else’s company. After I’m done with my “job“, I spend the next four to six hours working on my passion–this blog (even though I’d rather eat and then fall asleep while watching Sanford & Son). Why? Because I believe in it. Goals are not accomplished by flukes! You will have to sacrifice some of the things that you enjoy to accomplish your goals, but it will pay off!

3- Decide To Either Sink Or Swim

When you eliminate Plan B, that is exactly what you have decided to do; either sink or swim. But don’t worry! This is the push that is going to lead you to success! When everything depends on it you’ll work harder because you have to.

4- Learn From Your Errors (There Will Be Many)

Don’t be discouraged by mistakes, consider them opportunities for learning. Wisdom is gained through trial and error — so in a way, mistakes are necessary. Take the lesson, fix it, and move on!

5- Put It Out Into The Universe

Self affirmations works! Tell yourself everyday that you are going to succeed. Speak it verbally as well. Create a vision board. Create several if necessary, and place them where you will see them daily. Make a list of all the great things about yourself and read it every chance you get. Soon you will believe that you will succeed at what you are working on. Michael Jackson used this method while recording the “Thriller” album. I think it worked for him…

6- Only Share What You Are Doing With Informed People

This is VERY important! Some friends and even family may not be capable of understanding what you are working toward. Their incapability could very easily knock you off of your square. These are people that you do not need to discuss your dreams and goals with. Discuss your mission with people who are in the field of interest that you are working on and people who are encouraging. And also, be prepared to lose and or limit some relationships. It is most important that you stay positive. Do not waste time on people who are not conducive to positivity and success.

7- Accept No Excuses. Not Even Your Own

Plan B’s are built on excuses. If you are alive, you can do it! Accept nothing except success!

8- Don’t Expect Instant Success

This will likely be a long and winding road, be prepared for that. Stay in the game regardless of how long, hard, and tiring it becomes. During this period of building your goal or niche, you will learn how to keep it and nurture it. This is a very important part of the process. Patience is a must!

9- Accept Constructive Criticism

No one enjoys being criticized, even constructively. When criticisms come to you from informed sources (people in your field/niche) or people who genuinely care about you- listen! You may or may not agree with it, but you should still consider it. There are times when another set of eyes or ears are needed to catch the mistakes that you might have missed. An outside appraisal from people that you respect could also encourage you to work harder.

10- NEVER GIVE UP!

You are strong! You are resilient! You are beautiful! You deserve all the greatness that life has to offer…unless you give up.

It is better to edit, edit, and re-edit Plan A than it is to have a Plan B. Anything that is being built will need adjustments as it is being constructed, so will your process. Make the adjustments, but do not destroy the structure.

There is no need for a Plan B if your Plan A game is strong.

Feeling Good About YOU!

Loving Your Flaws When Others Do Not

“If you’ve not been criticized, booed, jeered, or such; it’s not because you have no flaws, but because you don’t count so much”

~Danny Thomas

I fell in love with that poem when I heard Danny Thomas say it at the end of a Dean Martin’s Celebrity Roast that was held in his honor. I’m not sure that these are his original words, but they really hit home for me. I’ve always had to deal with harsh criticisms from people who don’t understand me and aren’t interested in trying to. All they know is that I am different from what is acceptable as normal, and it sometimes seems most important to these people that I know that they believe me to be “weird“.

Some of Us March To Our Own Drummers/ Some of Us Have Our Own Rhythm Section

People who are not afraid to march to their own drumbeat often endure the criticisms of other people– sometimes even the ones that we love. Personally, I’ve been labeled with a plethora of adjectives that were used on me with the intent of hurting me or breaking me. Terms like: different, weird, crazy, strange, even retarded! Even more outlandish terms such as: snooty, stuck up, and selfish! (Clearly these are people who have never gotten to know me, or people who did something to get on my bad side). I think my favorite snide remark about me is: “You’re too much”. Because of the context in which it is used, that is ACTUALLY supposed to be an insult! I’ve always wondered if they knew that being “too much” is so much better that being “not enough“.

There was a time when those types of remarks would really sting. Especially when they came from relatives and so called close friends. I spent many years feeling as though I really did not “fit” anywhere. I felt unwanted so I tried to follow trend–at least enough to fit in amongst my peers. As a result, I started losing myself. Sure, I fit in and everyone thought I was cool, but I didn’t like myself so much anymore. I decided to take a time out for self assessment. I needed to decide which was more important: that “they” like me, or that I liked myself.

You Have To Live With Yourself

Of all of the components of this issue, there would be one thing that would never change– I would have to live with me for the rest of my life. No one else would ever be obligated to live with me forever except for me; so I’d better get as comfortable with myself as possible. With this mindset, I decided that fitting in to avoid criticism was no longer an option for me. Regardless of the general consensus, I would always be the me-est me that I could be!

I won’t pretend that this was easy– it wasn’t. In fact, at times it was physically and emotionally draining. I felt alone and misunderstood which moved me to create a fence around myself. That might not sound like a good idea but at the time it was necessary. I needed the time and space to get comfortable in my own skin. Even though I felt alone often, I believed that I truly needed the time to myself. I’m an extrovert, so this was a difficult but necessary step to take if I really wanted to get back to “me”.

I stopped going to clubs and parties. Most of the times that I spent time in these kinds of places was at the behest of people that I thought I needed to blend in with. Instead of going out to night clubs and parties, I started hanging out at Barnes & Noble at night on weekends. I’d always loved to read but I hadn’t read a book in a couple of years because I was too busy fitting in. In fact, books became an important part of this odyssey. I spent a lot of time in libraries as well. I read about everything that I saw. I had so many questions and there was a book or 100 for every question that I had. This new behavior aligned me with others who shared my newly reformed interest in reading. These were people that I met at Barnes & Noble or the library. Eventually, I started taking classes at a community college where I met even more people who loved to read and learn.

I did not completely cease contact with my party people–instead I inserted reasonable distance. From time to time, I’d still communicate with a few of them. I told the few that I still dealt with what I had been doing and where I had been going, and to my surprise, one or two of them became interested also. I will not take this as an opportunity to pat my own back but I have a couple of friends who are now very well read…because of me-the de facto weirdo.

Conversely, there were also people from my former band of associates who felt that I was “acting funny“. Being called uppity and sadity (I really cant stand that (non)word) didn’t bother me at all but rather, showed me that I was better off being in my own “little world” and away from such people. This would prove to be much better for me. I felt lighter, I smiled more, and strangers always seemed happy to have me around. This felt right. This was the life that I knew before my experiment with conformity.

Loving YOU

As time has moved on, I’ve found that I can comfortably be myself in any company and I never feel the need to readjust myself. On the rare occasion that I am uncomfortable in certain company, I simply remove myself–physically if possible. If I can’t remove myself physically, I remove myself mentally. I worked hard and had become brave enough to be accept my eccentricities –not take umbrage from those who couldn’t appreciate my “me-ness“. To this day, I dress differently, I speak differently, and my belief systems and are ideals are different compared to those of my peers– and if that ever changes, it will be only because I want to change them– not because they do not work with the masses. And people…well, they still have things to say. It usually comes back to me through the grapevine, but I never spend any time on their opinions. I wish them all well and move on with my life.

Stand Up To Stand Out/ Inventors vs Consumers

Not everyone is meant to be one of the crowd; some of us were placed on planet Earth to stand out. I call it “inventors vs consumers“. You have to be a little odd to be an inventor. To create something, you have to be able to think differently than the masses. Most of the things that have become necessities in our everyday lives were invented by weirdos–people who were talked about, ostracized, picked on, and misunderstood. The same can be said about the greatest leaders of the world. But they worked on their crafts and they made a difference in the world. They are all very important people and life as we know it would be very different had they decided to become one of the crowd in order to avoid ridicule. Consumers are equally important because obviously, someone has to buy and use these inventions, and by nature they follow. It’s us weirdos who provide the crowd with what they need in order to be cool.

I carry Danny Thomas’ poem in my mind because it reminds me that no one takes the time to criticize, jeer, or put down insignificant people. We actually have to qualify to be subject to insult. Our flaws are integral parts of who we are, they make us beautiful. Love your flaws and be flawsome as you go on to do great things– be they public or private victories. Stay steadfast, confident and vested in yourself!

Saying, “I Don’t Give A Shit”, And Then Actually Not Giving A Shit!

2 Steps To Not Giving A Shit

I know that the title is more pungent than usual, but that was the softest word that I could use to articulate my point. I suppose that I could have said something like, “Saying That You Don’t Care, And Then Not Caring“, but that really does not illustrate what I would like to say.

Humans spend a lot of time and energy on: things from the past, people from the past, current situations that can’t be changed, what others say, do, or think of them – and for what?

Anyone who has that kind of time and energy to waste should run to the nearest homeless shelter and put those resources to use with positive things. Wallowing and dwelling in the above stated issues is not only a waste of time, but no good can ever come from it. Why would you choose to exhaust mind power on things that make you feel terrible?

There are very few things in this life that us Earthlings have total control over. Other than ourselves, we really don’t have complete control over anything. Since that is the case, it’s wise to be very selective of what we choose to give a shit about. After you break it all down into sections, it’s plausible that you’ll conclude that most of the shit that you give a shit about isn’t worth a shit.

Family

Finance

Freedom

Friends (real friends)

Health

The world around us

Those are the best reasons for giving a shit. You have control over some, and are affected by them all. Quite honestly, from time to time it becomes necessary to not give a shit about some of those topics as well. However, those 6 topics serve as a good template for deciding what is worth your time and energy. If the situation at hand does not have an effect on any of the points that are listed above – why give a shit?

Say It Loud! And Then Do It…

Not giving a shit keeps you in the Good Vibes Zone. It’s amongst the most freeing statements that you will ever make- but only if you mean it. Can you fully commit to not being bothered by the things that you can’t change? Can you go through life knowing that people you really cared about have said unfavorable things about you? Can you sleep at night knowing that your most recent ex has moved on?

  1. Decide That You Are Not Going To Give A Shit
    This might take practice at first, but you have to commit to not giving a shit. That means not talking about it to every free set of ears that you come across, no taking your anger out on others, and no posting innuendo on social media. Any and all of the above stated acts means that you do give a shit. It’s important that you make sure that you’ve gotten past the emotional part of the situation. Not giving a shit does not always happen instantly. Take your time and wait until you are mentally and emotionally ready.

2. Don’t Give A Shit

    Go on with your life. Be busy, be active, be happy. Don’t let anyone intrude on your space with their drama. Simply tell anyone who tries, that you don’t give a shit. It’s funny how usually, you only have to say that once per person.

“This doesn’t affect me. I don’t give a shit”

~Afrologik

Priorities are based on personal perspective. Your own health, happiness and welfare should always be your first priority. Without those principles, you can’t function normally. We need to have you out here making the world a better place so if it doesn’t apply, let it fly. Simply, don’t give a shit!

You Are What You Attract

The Art of Checking Yourself

Do you ever wonder why it seems that wherever you go and whatever you do, you tend to meet the same types of people? If you are constantly being aligned with good people, then meeting good people is your expectation and the universe is meeting your expectation in a good way. Awesome! Keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll continue to reap the rewards. However, if you continue to meet people who are not such good people; the universe is still meeting your expectation- but conversely, you’ll continue to pay the consequences (unless these are the types of people that you prefer to be in the company of. If that is the case then you too are reaping the rewards).

Whichever vibes you are giving off will be returned to you. So if you do not put yourself in the position to receive good vibes, then you won’t. Think of who you are, where you’ve been, and where you want to go in life. These are the types of spirits that you’d want to attract: like minded people who will support you on your journey.

The Art of Checking Yourself

Walking around with a big Colgate smile on your face does not mean that you are sending good vibes to those who enter your presence. The universe as well as other people will read more than facial expressions; they read spirits as well. A smile does not always mean that a person is vibrating towards positivity, as smiles are often fake. There are people who can smile after committing the most heinous offenses, so you have to do more than show some teeth.

Your words and thoughts are large contributors to your vibe. I’ve read several books, articles, and blogs on, “How To Stay Positive“, but the reality is that life happens. When it does, it’s not always so easy to stay positive about current situations as they are happening. It’s common advice to tell someone in this position that “You’re still alive” or “Tomorrow is another day“. If you are anything at all like me, those types of phrases can knock whatever positivity that you may have had completely out of you. Obviously you are still alive, otherwise you wouldn’t be there becoming annoyed by a cliche. And of course tomorrow is another day. Were it not, it’d be today or yesterday (DUH!). I’ve said all of that to say that it’s not always possible to stay positive about current specific situations; nonetheless, only you have control over your reactions. It is your reactions that are being read by the universe as well as other people because your reaction is attached to your vibe. Focusing on the things that are going well and or working on what’s to come will increase those positive vibrations and the universe will send you more. Is this easy to do? Nope! Not at first. But when it becomes a habit, you’ll do it without thinking about it.

One thing that I do to keep my reaction in check is wear crystals and magnets, because… well, I believe that crystals and magnets are powerful. Maybe they really are and maybe they are not. If nothing else, when I look down at my Tigers Eye bracelets, I’m reminded to calm down and check my reaction. Find a method that works for you and implement it.

Gravity

You Are Your Own Planet

You are a planet with your own gravitational force. You control what is drawn to you by being what you want to attract. If you are bitter, insecure, jealous-hearted, angry, miserable, messy, petty, or a plethora of other negative things, these are the traits that you will attract because they can continue to thrive on your planet. Contrarily, people who do not possess those negative traits cannot live in such an environment. Although you may lure good people into your atmosphere with a smile or a conversation, they will not stay in an environment that is unfit for their survival.

If you consistently meet the same types of people, or the same individuals are in and out of your life, it’s not their fault– it’s yours. If you want it to stop, it’s easily fixable: stop feeding them and they will die (figuratively, of course).

Don’t Fool Yourself/ Be Fair To Others

There are people who are content in their negative and dramatic worlds– and they have every right to be. If you are that type of person, it’s best that you stick to your genre unless you are really ready to change. Otherwise, it isn’t fair to those who choose to position themselves for growth. Besides, karma does not play– and she’s very protective of her people.

Be true to yourself and others and you will always get what you ask for!

Know Your Audience

How To Offer Words of Advice

Have you ever had a bad day and wanted to talk to someone about it? So, you go through your mental Rolodex to find a good ear — someone who will not only listen but perhaps offer a few words to get you through whatever your current situation is. You’re not necessarily looking for answers, but maybe a different perspective. New light, or just something different to think about.

Finally, you choose someone. You call or text them and tell them about your day and about how you are feeling, hoping that they will at least give you something to hold on to, even if only for a little while. You pour your heart out and spill your day to this person and their response is not at all what you hoped to hear. Instead, this person makes the conversation about themselves or use your bad day as an opportunity to exercise their intelligence, religion, or “so calleddeepness, and you are left dumbfounded; not knowing what the hell they are talking about. You then begin to wonder if they’ve heard a word that you’ve said to them.

At this point, you become frustrated and you begin to search of some way to end the conversation. If it’s a text conversation, you’d probably just stop responding and hope that they’ll soon get the message by not receiving anymore messages. By this time, you most likely feel worse. As if no one understands.

This happens often to people who deal with depression. We reach out to those who have offered themselves to us only to be let down.

Actually, both parties have a hand in this disappointment. It’s very important to know your audience before you share what is going on inside of you. Not everyone is capable of understanding or speaking to you on a level that you are able to latch onto.

I’ve found it to be effective to choose 5 people that I can always go to who are available and have nothing to lose or gain by listening to me. These are people that I trust and whose words are from the heart and not just extensions of their egos.

Although I chose 5 people, I remove and replace the people in that group appropriately. I understand that not everyone has 5 people that they can rely on as an ear when needed. Some of you may have more than 5, and that’s great! Choose a number that works for you. What is most important is that you choose people who can be trusted and understands what you deal with.

If You Are One Of The Chosen Ones…

If you are chosen as a source of comfort for someone, consider it an honor. This person has trusted you with their vulnerabilities. That’s not an easy thing for them to do. With that honor comes responsibility.

1- If You Offer Yourself, Be Available

This is not to say that you have to stop what you’re doing and tend to a friend who has had a bad day. However, if you are busy and able to communicate that–DO! It’s understood that you have your own life and can’t very well bring your day to a screeching halt. Respond when you can, but do respond! No response at all can be taken personally. No one wants to feel like a pest or too needy. Those types of feelings only add to the problem. A simple “I’m at work. I’ll call you later” text makes a difference. Then, follow up.

Remember Saturday Night Fever? Bobby kept telling Tony that he needed to talk, but Tony never had time. Eventually, Tony saw Bobby fall to his death. Sometimes an ear, a few words, or just knowing that someone cares goes a long way.

2- Be Mentally Available

When a friend calls you because they are feeling down, DO NOT DIVERT THE CONVERSATION TO YOURSELF! If this is a habit of yours, simply do not offer yourself. I’ve kicked many people out of my 5 for this. It’s very selfish.

3- This Is Not An Opportunity For You To Flex Your Brain Or Show How Deep You Are

If you are unable to talk to your friend on a level that they can relate to, SHUT UP! This is not the time to show off. If you cannot make your point simply, then most likely you don’t know what you are talking about– and that fact rings loud and clearly. As a result, you lose credibility. I’ve had experiences with turning to friends to tell them that I was feeling down (or worse) only to have my troubled heart met with supposed philosophical gibberish that left me thinking, “Why in the hell did I reach out to this person? What are they talking about?” Tone it down or shut it up. Remember, it’s not about you.

4- Do Not Become Religious With People Who Are Not Religious

Quoting scriptures to someone who is not religious is akin to speaking to them in a foreign language–they will not understand you. Don’t take your friends crisis as a chance for you to win souls for God (God doesn’t need your help with that). Even pastors (well, good pastors) understand that your message is lost when it falls on deaf ears. Humble yourself for understanding’s sake.

5- Take What You Hear Seriously

It’s not easy for people who suffer from depression to open up in dialogue. Usually they’ve dealt with a lot before they finally decide to talk. The thoughts in their heads are very real to them. Do not make light of them. If you hear something that disturbs you, be proactive. Reach out to their family members if you can or law enforcement if necessary.

6- If You Have Nothing To Offer, Offer Nothing

A listening ear can go a long way. If you feel that you can’t be of help, that’s okay. Sometimes all that is needed is a sounding board. Speaking our problems out loud gives us a chance to hear them and thus, work them out.

7- Be Great, Don’t Berate!

What seems minor to you could be very major to someone else. Life shattering even. When someone comes to you with problems that they are having, DO NOT TRIVIALIZE THEM! Remember: where you are strong, someone else is weak (and vice versa). They do not need to hear that “it’s nothing“, or that “it’s small“. Listen with understanding and try to step outside of yourself and discern what they are feeling, even if you feel that their situation is futile. Be gentle. Do not chastise or ostracize them. They came to you because they were hurting. Don’t make it worse.

8- Make Them Laugh If You Can!

My favorite “go to” people are the the ones that I know will listen seriously and then make me laugh. Channel your inner Richard Pryor and make them laugh! If nothing else, it takes their minds off of what’s troubling them.

12 Steps To Staying Youthful

Just a few moments ago, I went to the store to buy a nice bottle of Merlot (my favorite wine). I placed the bottle on the counter to be rung up by the cashier. The cashier; a man that I assumed to be in his early 40’s like myself, had a goatee with flecks of grey. Not a bad looking guy and very friendly. He asked to see my ID and of course I obliged him. He read my drivers license and looked back at me, “No way! No way were you born in 1975! I thought I was older than you” he said in what appeared to be amazement. Without conceit, I have to admit that I am used to this reaction whenever I am carded. I smiled and said, “Yup! It’s true. I was born in 1975“. I’m also used to his next statement (I could almost say it with him) “What’s your secret?” I gave my signature response, “Good genes“. He completed the sale after some brief banter, bagged my bottle and I was on my way.

While sitting in my car, I thought about it; is there anything that I am doing that increases my youthfulness, or is it really just genetic? I am vegetarian and I get at most the minimum amount of exercise in each day, nothing special. Maybe it really is just genetic.

As I began to to drive, I gave it more thought. What if anything am I doing differently? Slowly, some ideas started to materialize.

I’m going to make this perfectly clear before I give you my list. DO NOT STOP READING HERE! I am not going to state what is usually said about “How to stay young”. You know, the typical spiel: eat right, get rest, exercise. Honestly, I don’t do any of those things (even though they are all important). I’m vegetarian, as I said earlier, but a vegetarian lifestyle does not necessarily mean a healthy diet. Most days, I have to remind myself to eat. I’m an insomniac. 3 or 4 hours of sleep for me is a lot! Also, as I said earlier, I get the minimum amount of exercise in daily (and I have to force that sometimes). I’ll add (because most blogs on staying youthful include “Living a stress free” or “Less stressful” life) that I do not live a stress free or less stressful life. I am a mother and an employee. In other words, I. Have. Stress. So what is it that I do?

1- Don’t Call Yourself “Old”

You are what you say you are. If you say that you are old, then you are old and you will behave as such- plain and simple. When I look in the mirror, I see me– the same me that I saw at ages 10, 20, 30, and now 40+. If you do not think about age, then it will not become a factor.

2- Slow Down

Not everything is an emergency. Take time out during each day to breathe. Meditate. Focus. Assess. While doing this, often you will see that the situation isn’t really that urgent. Chill and don’t let little things get you riled up. Appreciate the the things that are presently right.

3- Don’t Act Your Age.

Us 40’s and older folks like to assume that certain things “come with the territory“. Why think of it that way? In fact, why think of it at all if you don’t have to? When you make up your mind that “these things will happen“, guess what? THEY WILL! And if they do, so what? It doesn’t have to interrupt your quality of life and it definitely does not have to affect your mindset. Whether you travel the Earth on two feet or roll through it in a wheelchair, only you have control over your mindset. Remind yourself that you’ve been through things before, and if you continue to have birthdays, you’ll go through more. Push through as you always have.

4- Don’t Carry Other People’s Weight

We all know people who seem to always have “drama” going on that they can’t wait to invade your space with. It’s okay to be an ear or even a shoulder, but leave the conversation at the last syllable. In reality, it’s not your problem. Earthlings will dump all of their issues on each other and as a result, the listener will walk away feeling tired and heavy from things that are not their problems. It’s okay to say to them, “I can’t listen to this anymore. I wish you well and I’m confident that things will work out in the way that they are supposed to“, and keep it moving. Allowing others to interrupt your energy will make you age like a banana.

5- Don’t Assume That Young(er) Means Dumb

Younger people are not dumb, they just have a different perspective on life. Watch them. Listen to them. Learn from them as you’d want them to learn from you. Let some of their youth transfer onto you by association. And shut up sometimes! Let them talk. You might be surprised at what you’ll learn.

6- Try Something New

Don’t let age stop you from being daring and adventurous. Be as vibrant as you ever were. Be crazy! Go to a nudist beach, skydive, bungee jump (do people still do that?). Okay, some of that might be a bit far fetched, but you know what I mean. Break your old fogey, conformist chains and do something different and exciting. Maybe something that you’ve always wanted to do but never did. Revisit or create your bucket list. Awaken your inner child! He/she is probably getting bored…

7- Get Rid of Useless Relationships

As my children have heard me say millions of times : “If it ain’t growing, it’s dead“. Surround yourself only with those who feed you spiritually and or mentally, otherwise you are feeding yourself death. Don’t waste time on trying to change anyone or waiting for them to “get it”. It doesn’t take long to identify whether or not a person belongs in your life. Once an identification has been made and you find that they do not belong, either reassign their position or omit them from your life. There doesn’t have to be hard feelings on your part–only you have control of that, so choose to not have hard feelings. See! I just saved you from Crows Feet!

8- Dance As If No One Is Watching (even if everyone is watching)

Sometimes it’s fun to be foolish, so act a fool sometimes! You all should see me when the dancing mood strikes. I’ll get up and start dancing at any given moment. Am I a good dancer? HELL NO! But it puts me in the good vibes zone. I’m not always at home when this happens. I’m reminded of a day when I was at Journeys shoe store with both of my sons. Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen played over the stores speakers and I began to sing along. LOUDLY (yes, even the operatic part). Soon, the sales staff had joined me in singing and acting out the lyrics. My sons were embarrassed but the salespeople and I had a great time. Throw etiquette to the wind now and then. In other words: get the stick out of your ass!

9- SMILE!

Even if you don’t feel like it. Walk into every room as if you are the star and everyone there is lucky to have you in their presence. Smile at people as though they are stars and you are lucky to be amongst them. Create that atmosphere everyday no matter where you are and your heart will grow more youthful.

10- Don’t Worry About What “They” Say Or Think

“They” can’t live or die for you so be happy and comfortable with who you are. As long as you are not hurting yourself or anyone else– do you! There is a reason why there is only one you and there will never be another– because only YOU can do it! Do not let the “theys” of the world rob you of yourself. If your “circle” can’t subscribe to who you are, create a new circle. The world is HUGE and there are approximately 7.44 billion people in it; there is definitely a genre out there for you.

11- Make The Rules Work For You

I wouldn’t suggest that anyone break laws. The consequences probably wouldn’t be very enjoyable. However, rules are often easily manipulated. Go against the machine sometimes and make the rules work for you on your own terms. Be radical! That’s usually how change occurs.

12- Live Out Loud

Enjoy being you! You only get one time in space to do it. How do I do it? I do it to death!