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Relationships: No one knows anything, not even you.

The topic bringing me out of blog hibernation is the one I end up talking about most with just about everyone…even strangers. (A taxi driver said I have a “trustworthy face.”)  It’s relationships. I have been married for 7 years, together something like 10 (I’m not one of those people who remembers dates well and/or I didn’t care much about keeping a calendar or a job in my 20’s.) I did not have a ton of relationships before my husband, but enough. Keep in mind I’m not your guru. So, here’s my not-so-expert advice on love, break-ups and more. Questions? Leave ’em in the comments.

Finding “the one:” I personally believe that this term is a bit pervasive. I am not sure everyone has a single “other” out there just waiting for them. Maybe we all have multiple “ones” who become present at times in our lives when we have lessons we need to learn from that particular relationship. If you’ve ever discovered an all-important piece of yourself during a now past relationship, this may speak to you. This doesn’t mean you can’t spend the rest of your life with one person, just that maybe you went through a few very important, not-at-all-waste-of-time relationships before doing so. Chew on that.  

If you do believe in “the one,” know this: You have to let yourself meet new people somehow. Get fixed up. Go online. Say yes to a date, give that one person a chance already, whatever. That is step one. Then, know this about the one: This person is not your type. Might be your type immediately before changing overnight. Might have bad hair. May not make enough money. Might forget to compliment you. Might over compliment you. Might seem pushy. Might seem weak. May have a tattoo of Ralph Wiggum (actually, awesome!) Might be too smart or not smart enough. Do you see where I’m going with this? If you do not take some REAL TIME out of your busy facebooking/texting/talking about yourself schedule and get to know this fool you have NO idea what the hell you’re talking about. You don’t know someone from a first impression. Not even from a first date. Not from what your co-worker/bff/Grandma told you about them. You can be with someone for YEARS and never really know them. Read that sentence twice. Unless you’re a psychic, give love a chance before you claim it “isn’t right” and waltz back onto e-harmony. I don’t care how many relationships you’ve been in or dates you’ve been on (or for the love of Gawd, how many damn relationship-help books you’ve read) you do NOT know everything, and can’t even trust yourself until you’ve put some time in. Length of time is up to you…but tell me 2 weeks and I’ll laugh in your face. If you feel like you have some weird self-imposed deadline and two weeks is “too long to waste on anyone,” you’re betting on miracles and really only making this harder on yourself. Good luck getting to work in this traffic on your unicorn tomorrow too.

When it isn’t right: If you’re ever feeling unsafe or in danger. EVER. Any physical or emotional abuse is unacceptable 100% of the time. If this is a grey area for you, you’re not damaged, you just need to seek help. Whatever has happened in your life to make you feel like you are not worthy of better or that this behavior is normal has led you to this. There is a healthier option and you deserve it. If you’re the abuser, you also need help. You’re not ready to be with anyone. Another shocker? It’s not right if either the sex or the conversation is not working. They both have to, sorry. They can have their challenges or quiet times and still be “working,” but if you feel like you can’t stand the sound of his/her voice but can jump into bed without a care in the world, it’s just not gonna last (and vice versa.) If your core beliefs do not match up. What does that mean? Oh, you know. You worship mother earth and he wants to cut down the rain forest. She believes in monogamy and you’re doing everything in your power to make her feel like a prude for not wanting weekly three-somes. You have to attend his or her church and believe everything they believe, or don’t believe. If you want to change more things about them then you’re willing to admit.  IF YOU’RE CHANGING FOR THEM. It’s cool to want to learn new things from a relationship, like suddenly becoming a basketball fan and getting excited about your first live game. But, ever leave a relationship and later realize you never have the urge to watch basketball again ever ever ever? You don’t need to mold yourself to every single relationship. Ever dye your hair blonde and grow it out because they love women with long blonde hair and later look back on pictures of yourself feeling like you don’t even know that person? On the flip side, some adjustments are welcome (try watching his/her fave movie, did you have fun? ok cool. NO? you tried. try something else…) but changes in too many of your likes/dislikes or core beliefs are just making you less of who you are and therefore the relationship is less as well. Relationships take two whole people. We don’t complete each other. We hold each others hands.

Maintaining a relationship: Hooray, you are with someone. Now, cut the crap. It’s nothing like the movies, and the folks who say it is for them haven’t switched over to horror flick – or worse, silent film –  yet. (Or they care so much about being judged they can’t be honest. Sad.) Relationships are work, marriage makes the work legal. The paycheck is every day you wake up and either look at this person snoring and say, “Oh yea, I’m still in this” or just get excited to see them when they swing by with stale chinese food and a movie you’ve seen 7 times. There are DEFINITELY amazing, mind-blowing, crazy romantic times that would make any blockbuster rom-com jealous, but this is not an always thing. Imagine sharing space, thoughts, money or time with ANYONE for years on end. It’s not all gonna be glitter and spring time. The term “honeymoon period” should probably exist for you, though, at some point. If you’ve never had that, for example: all fighting and make-up sex from day 1…maybe this is not a relationship worth maintaining. You should feel at some point your heart is bursting, and then later that you can comfortably leave the bathroom door open when you pee. You’re welcome.

Break-ups: First things first, don’t reinvent yourself every time a relationship ends. So many people are extreme in this sense. They either think it was more the other person not being a good fit, or that something is wrong with themselves. You may not even know you do this. Signs point to a sudden urge for physical changes  that can be as simple as a haircut or as dramatic as going from goth to prep. Signs also include thinking you suddenly need your Doctorate degree, you should get rid of your pet snake, quit your job or move across the country. In the first few months after a break-up, try to avoid any of these things. Be yourself by yourself in this critical time. If you’re not in love with what you see when you are alone with yourself after some time, that should be investigated. Talk to someone. Consider that your feelings may be hurt but ultimately you like yourself. If not, dig into that. Discover what’s behind that before you pack your bags or buy that 6 month class called “Cooking with Ghee.” When this is said and done, think about what this relationship taught you. I guarantee you found out one new thing you now know you want, or don’t want, out of love or existence. You’re winning now, no matter how much it still hurts.  You also do not have to explain your break-up to anyone. It’s your business only if you want it to be.  As far as hope for the future, this part is tricky. You may doubt it will ever work out with anyone ever again. Let me be the first to tell you, you are wrong. Unless you’re not quite human, another human will be a fit. We’re made to experience love. The only person who can guarantee you never find love again is you.

The ultimate truth: You have to know who you are, what you want, and also be ready to accept that these things too can change. It’s the paradox of it all. It’s a balance that can seem impossible. Sometimes you grow apart.  Couples find themselves wondering if they should make it work or walk away. Like everything else, don’t take this lightly. Trust your gut when you can, your therapist when you can’t. It’s not usually helpful to gather opinions from everyone you know. It may feel comforting to do so, but ultimately your own heart and brain will come together to decide what’s next for you. If this has been a good relationship and you still care for this person, really put the time in before making any firm decisions. Maybe you imagined a future with someone that you no longer want for yourself (or them.) Maybe you’ve become such a new person your beliefs and habits no longer compliment each other or bring sadness, guilt or pain into the relationship. Perhaps it was never right and you’ve only just started admitting that to yourself. Love is a comforting and dangerous thing in this way. Whether right or wrong, be honest as much as possible with yourself and your partner and you’ll both find your way.

TIPS:

  • Don’t cheat. Reality: your excuses come off as pathetic. I’m not saying that you don’t have a ton of valid excuses in your mind, I’m just saying that you look like an idiot explaining them…especially if your actions have hurt a decent person. (If your excuse is that they cheated first, say that out loud to hear how dumb it sounds first before running that by anyone else. I’m just trying to help you here.) Consider this before you cheat: Do you not have an ounce of respect for your partner to bring up issues in the relationship that may make you want to stray before you let yourself be woo’d by the shiny new thing that seems much better? I say “seems better” because remember, we don’t know anyone completely, so good luck. Do you think the person you’ve cheated on is too weak to hear the bad things you have to say, or even to hear that you want to sleep with someone else, and you’re too afraid to hurt them? That is an excuse made by the weak. You are the one lacking courage and bravery. You’re afraid. Don’t lie to yourself and say you’re protecting them. Your reasons for cheating could include being too drunk and not realizing it was going too far, forming a bond so close with someone else that you didn’t think that was still possible for you after all this time, feeling the “spark” you felt at 19 all over again, believing you’re smarter/better/hotter than your partner and this new person is the match for you, falling out of love with your partner, your partner does not treat you well or even hurts you, and lastly…boredom. The thing is, none of those excuses are actually OK! Really! I’m not saying you are the devil and not worthy of forgiveness, sometimes a mistake is a mistake. I won’t even judge your partner for forgiving you. Your relationship is your business and I don’t know what’s in their heart anymore than the next gal. I don’t even hold my friends to these high of standards because I know it all sounds easier said than done. But please just stop pretending your cheating is justified. Everyone has seen what cheating does to the person being cheated on (and sometimes the KIDS), and only after months or years of hurting (or reconciliation because you finally TALKED and have gotten to the real problem) can some folks, not all, say you actually did them a favor. Cheated before? Don’t feel like I just beat you up, just think about what made you do it. The wrong relationship is a reason just as much as being young and naive or selfishness is. Just know that if you want to continue cheating in all of your relationships, maybe you don’t need a relationship. Maybe it’s not who you are or you are not sure who you are. Again, investigate. Always investigate.
  • Little things matter. That goes for everything from taking the trash out to compliments to shutting up and listening.
  • Ask for what you need. Know when you need something or just want something. I need and want ice cream a lot.
  • Be wrong sometimes and ADMIT IT. My husband will laugh in my face when he reads this one.
  • Prioritize fun and peacefulness with equal vigor. Enjoy couch time as much as vacationing in Belize.
  • Make some, not all, decisions together. Talk things through with your partner, that’s what’s great about having someone there. Really consider their input. You chose this person for a reason.
  • Apologize. 
  • Know that you often don’t know anything, and no one else does either. Including me.
  • Share this blog with those who need it. 

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3 Real Tips For Making This Year (or any year) Suck Less

It’s just after 5:00pm in New York City on the first day of 2013 and if you’ve turned on your television, checked your emails, gone online or been to a store today you’ve already heard about people making resolutions or received offers for things to help you with yours. My gmail contained discounts on workout clothes, gym memberships, etc. My Facebook stream was full of declarations, jokes, and questions asking about resolutions. I was even quoted in an article about this topic completely by surprise today! So, I figured, it’s about time I give you my not-a-guru take on it all. It’s full of my usual blatant honesty. Poke fun at me.

I prepared southern slow cooker pork tenderloin and baked brown butter toffee chocolate chip cookies today and I’m making sauteed kale and spinach later to go with it. True story. If you’re like me, you’re not really all that domestic. Er, okay…I just hate cooking. I live in a city and browsing seamless web for takeout options is my equivalent of searching a cookbook for recipes. I do cook (not as often as I should) and bake (for some reason, only near the holidays) but yet I don’t find a lot of bliss or enjoyment in it. Sometimes I burn things. Sometimes I curse. However, I usually feel quite accomplished afterwards and there is a certain real joy in that. I’m patting myself on the back over the stove, and suddenly…what is this…I’m smiling?!

So, before you all fall asleep reading the lead up to this first tip, here it is: Do something that makes you feel accomplished. Saying you want to be happier, feel joy or find “happiness” this year is just too damn vague. (There I go with the cursing again). Try knocking things off your to do list, starting a project, destroying mundane tasks that needed to get done 6 months ago, or learning something new that may or may not bore you to the brink of insanity and then…boom! There is a good chance joy will find you just when you’re finally feelin’ proud of yourself. If not, at least you’ve got pork and cookies.

Second tip: Ignore everyone. You just have to. You must tune out the endless stream of chatter that’s coming your way every day from every one. I was having a conversation with a friend of a friend once and somehow we got on weight loss (ugh) and she said to me, “Oh my God, it is SO easy to lose 10 pounds, it really really is.” Even though I liked her hair I wanted to punch her in the face. It doesn’t matter if what people say to you is true or not, you just have to disconnect some times. How is up to you. Read, meditate, nap,  write “Today is awesome and I’m so pretty” over and over on a sheet of paper if you have to. (What? I’ve always never done that.) Whatever you do, just tune every one out for a while and see how much better you’ll feel almost instantly. This tip is like magic.

For the third and final tip, let’s get even more simple. Stop being so selfish. Yes, you. Even the most warm, giving, altruistic person usually leaves someone out. That person is usually themselves. If you help people all the time (this can be as simple as opening doors for strangers, picking up something someone dropped and giving directions to volunteering in shelters and joining the Peace Corps – you saints!) then you may be neglecting yourself a bit. How to fix this? Example: Listen to everyone’s woes? Find someone to tell yours to. The end. If you don’t frequently help your friends, family or strangers but do focus on yourself, maybe it’s time you give a little more of your goodness away. We’re pretty infinite and there is enough time in the day to send a kind text or tell one of your oldest friends how funny, gorgeous, wise and talented you think they are. (Eh hem. *cough cough*) It doesn’t take a scientific study to explain that you’ll feel good when you help someone else feel good. Do it.

I hope you’re feeling more hopeful about 2013 already. If not, here is a photo of me and Jason B.  performing as The Parodivas and pretending to be The Grumpy Cat and Friend. Comment, tweet and share this entry if you’re digging these tips, or at least this photo, as much as I am.

Grumpy Cat, Nailed it!

There is Something That I Have to Tell You

It is something that I don’t like to talk about.

If you know me in person you know I prefer fun, happy topics. I love irony. I like to make you laugh. I’m a musical comedian, for goodness sakes. We’re calling Dog Opera a “comedy” by Constance Congdon because it is very, very funny, but there is also a touch of drama and some very heartbreaking, poignant moments. It’s a dramedy, if you will. There is, however, something else you should know.

Aside from telling the story of a gay male and his straight best friend and their separate failed dating lives in NYC, Dog Opera also tackles the AIDS epidemic. ‘Congdon wrote this play to reflect the time when AIDS was considered the plague, a death sentence, an utterly terrifying shock to our world. We have come a long way, but spreading awareness and educating people is still a top priority, right here in our country. I still find Dog Opera’s message to be strong, relevant, and timely.

Personally, it hits close to home for me…and this is what I have to tell you. This is one of the (secret?) reasons I am pouring my blood sweat and tears into Producing and Starring in this production. Why keep secrets, though? You know I am nothing but honest in this blog, so here goes.

I lost my Uncle Kurt to AIDS on July 7th, 1987. Right smack dab in the middle of the crisis, when there was no treatment. He was my Mothers’ youngest brother and he passed at the ripe age of 21. I was just a small, blonde-ish 7 year old girl, happy and full of energy and he was cool and fun and loved me, so, so much. He was also incredibly handsome, see?

He looks a LOT like my Grandmother, and she was (and perhaps never really got over being) devastated.  No one really knew what to say to my brother and I to explain what he passed from, we were so young, it was still so new and everything was confusing. My Grandmother could barely speak the words herself. The family told us it was cancer, later on when I hit my “wise” pre-teen years my Mother explained to us that it was AIDS. I had began to learn what cancer was and wanted to know what kind he had, wanted to know specifics, like teens do. It was a difficult topic of conversation in my family, to say the least. I remember her sitting my brother and I on the couch in the living room and having this conversation. I remember the sun coming through the windows. I remember all of this so clearly, a bright picture in my mind. I’ve never told my Mother how much I appreciated her telling me the truth. My Mother has always been a crafty person and loved her brother with all her heart. She has one of the original squares in the AIDS Quilt. Here is a photo of her square for my Uncle Kurt:

Do you see the “We Love You?” The music notes are there because he was a masterful pianist. I wish I had a clip of his music to share with you here. It was so beautiful. I am sure there is not a day that goes by that my Mother or Grandparents don’t think of him. My last memories of him are oddly vivid. I hope it’s OK if I share them with you. This is harder than I thought it would be. Bear with me.

In his remaining days, my Grandparents chose to care for my Uncle at home. He rested in a room they made “his room” in the downstairs of their house, because he could not go up the stairs. I imagine he was home because there is nothing the hospitals could do anyway, and they wanted to be close to him. The last time I saw him, my Mother took me over to the door to his room because he wanted to see me and I wanted to see my Uncle. We opened the door slowly and I poked my little blonde-ish head in. He was laying flat on his back, and he was incredibly thin and fraile. He lifted his head a bit and smiled at me, told me it was OK to come in. I painfully remember the skin lesions all over his body. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen those, but you don’t forget them. The way he looked was so shockingly different from how he looked when he was healthy that it scared my 7 year old self. I went to him but I was too afraid to hug him.

Many years later, I laid awake in bed one night thinking about him and could not sleep. I ran down the stairs and bawled my eyes out to my parents about how I “never got to say good bye” and feeling bad that I didn’t hug him when I had the chance. They told me that it was OK, that he always knew I loved him and I was just a little girl. That night, he came to me in a dream. He was smiling, healthy, happy. We embraced. Message delivered.

Now my 30-something self is doing a play that also deals with the topic of AIDS, and that is obviously no accident. I’ve told everyone how I wanted to produce and star in this play because it is funny, the role is so right for me, the characters are so great, I love the playwright…etc, etc. But the truth that you now know is that it’s much more than that. This play is a journey for me, in a very special way.

We have a very limited run November 1st – 4th at The Little Times Square Theatre in NYC. I hope you’ll support this production and come see it, now that you know everything…the last step is to join in on the experience with me, my co-producer/co-star Jason and our dazzling cast & crew. I hope you will.

Click Here for Tickets or Call (212) 868-4444 and press 1 to purchase by phone.

For AIDS info, awareness days, and more click here.

Comments welcome.

Exciting News!

It’s time to share some exciting news. I am occasionally a Guest Blogger around the interwebs and my favorite place to do that is over on the highly inspirational internet “happy place,” The Whirling Blog.

The exciting news is that TWB was just named #1 on Spa Week’s list of “10 People and Blogs You Should Be Following Now.” Top of the list is a great spot to be in and I’m honored to be a part of it all. Click on the links below to see how I whirled…

  • My first entry for TWB is right here. (Spoiler alert: It’s about ridiculous thoughts in our own heads and what to do about ’em.)
 
  • Click here for my 2nd contribution…(Spoiler alert: There is a picture of chocolate…and permission to eat it.)
 
  • Last but certainly not least, click here for the interview my musical comedy partner and I did for the blog! 
 

Please enjoy yourself over there but do come back here and leave a comment. I’d absolutely love to hear what you think! 

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The Year is Ending, Let’s (Not) Panic!

2011 is coming to an end and the holiday season is in full swing. I have a very “get with it, get into it or get over it” mentality this time of year and I’ve put together a list of things where I plan to do just that…little by little, one day at a time. Pick and choose your favorites and let’s do this. We’re all in this together…

Get With It: 

  • Getting older. I’m in my 30’s, and I’m actually quite relieved about it. People have started to expect me to be smart and thoughtful, rather than snarky and dramatic. This is good for me, because I am smart and thoughtful and I’m glad I’ve reached an age where this is in vogue. Dependable is the new black. I’ve also grown into my fierce eyebrows, finally.
  • Exercise. Don’t groan or sigh at me on this one. I love shaking my ass and I sleep like a baby after sweating in zumba class like underpaid Santa’s sweat in crowded shopping malls. I have to make this a higher priority, or at least place it above “catch up on the DVR” on my to-do list.
  • Sleep. Yep, in my 30’s. My bed is now my baby daddy and I’ll only cheat on him with pillow-top king beds in Mexican resorts. My under-eye dark circles were never a good look, anyway.
  • Eating healthier. This basically means I will try my hardest not to poison myself with fast food or other things that I know actually make me sick, despite what they also do to my waist line.

Get Into It:

  • Organization. I can barely find a pair of matching socks in the morning, let alone the check book once a month for rent. I’m lucky my husband is a moving-talking-live-person, or I’d lose him in this apartment. Oddly, my office space is pristine. I guess that means I like to keep my crazy private, but it’s time for a change.
  • Hobbies. I need more things to do with my free time (when I’m not running around town being famous) other than eating or happy hours. It’s going to be cold for another few months, so I am thinking: reading, more zumba, and possibly baking or some sort of craft that does not involve yarn. Suggestions welcome.
  • Happiness. My smile is way prettier than my frown. Period. End of sentence.

Get Over It: 

  • Holiday pressure. The pressure to: entertain, attend a million parties, bake, clean, visit every family member ever and shop, shop, shop. Just stop. If any of those things make you unhappy or you can’t afford them/don’t have the time this year, choose another option. I am choosing: a few thoughtful gifts that I can afford for my family, donating gifts to toy drives for lil’ ones, paying off debt and paving a less stressful 2012 when it comes to money with my husband and I’m not going to set foot in anyone’s house or any store that I’m not excited about.
  • Attention seeking. I will not make everything about me. I will not create drama. I will gossip less. You can all stop looking at me now. Repeat.
  • #1 Daughter, Wife, Sister & Friend syndrome. My family and friendships are so important to me that I let them stress me out. I want to be there for everyone in every moment and that’s just not possible. I’m a better daughter/wife/sister/friend if I take care of myself first and therefore, require less from the people that love me. I have a big ol’ open heart and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I will also not be ashamed to admit when I need some time to myself.

What are YOU getting with, getting into, or getting over? Please share your thoughts below and share this post with other folks who may be panicking right up until the ball drops. Happiest of Holidays to you!

The Meta Picture

photo credit: themetapicture.com

This Idea Changed My Life

It’s been a while since I’ve written. Now that I’ve acknowledged that, let’s move forward. I’ve had this blog post in my brain for months and was waiting for the right time to assemble the words into a post.

We all go through…a lot. Recently, my home of NYC has seen tremors from an earthquake, faced the threat of a hurricane, 9/11 anniversary terror threats, and (of course) more. Not to mention, personally, some of my family and friends are experiencing difficult, painful, life events. I am sure that some of your friends and family are too. Maybe you know someone who is currently in a lot of physical or emotional pain. It’s possible that even you are, while reading this right now.

Years ago, in my training to become a certified rape crisis counselor in NYC hospital emergency rooms, I learned something that changed my life. It seems almost simple to me now, but at the time, I had never before even considered it. Here it is:

No one person’s pain is any larger or smaller than anyone else’s. You cannot compare your pain to someone else’s. If someone hurts, they hurt. It is not your job to tell them how much they should hurt, or for how long. 

In counseling we were taught this so that we would never compare. To tell a scared, confused, recently assaulted patient something along the lines of, “Oh yea? Well, you should have seen my case last week. She was in much worse shape than you are” to make them “feel better” is really one of the worst things anyone can do. That might seem completely obvious, but you’d be surprised how very common it is to have that reaction, especially if you feel like you can relate to what someone is going through. We were taught not to minimize anyone else’s experience or try to make them see that other people have gone through “worse.” That information isn’t always true, first of all, because you don’t always know someone’s complete history. Something you might find trivial because of your life experience might seem like the literal “end of the world” to someone else. Secondly, we all experience and process things differently. I can’t measure or predict how badly you might feel when you believe your world is falling apart. I can, however, sympathize.

This idea really changed my life. I stopped my very human reaction to convince someone they would be ok, or that things aren’t nearly as bad as they feel they are. I stopped telling stories about how things could be much worse. I’m not always perfect in this, but I think it has strengthened a lot of my relationships and it certainly was a vital thing to remember in the ER in the middle of the night.

Personally, I find the level of tolerance my family and friends have for pain and emergencies to be remarkably high. But that is just my opinion. I feel like I know a lot of strong individuals, whether they realize it or not. You might feel this way about the people in your life, or not. We’ve all thought once or twice that someone needed to “buck up” or “pull it together.” That’s ok, too. It’s so easy to want everyone to see that things will eventually be ok, when you really believe they will. Everybody hurts, right? Right. Just sometimes, in very different ways.

Thoughts? Leave ’em below.

Don’t Be a Raging Bitch & Other Advice I Give Myself

Since I am not a Guru, I don’t have all the answers. I live mostly by trial-and-error and benefit from a city full of examples of how I do, and don’t, want to live. Here is some of the advice I’ve given myself along the way. Let me know if it helps you too.

“Don’t be a raging bitch” is advice I sometimes have to give myself. PMS is the real cause at times (not a great excuse, but it’s a reality nonetheless) but at other times I am just cranky, hungry, tired, stressed out or nervous and need to remind myself not to scream and whine at my husband just because he said hello in the morning before I’ve stumbled out of bed. True story. I’m not proud. The thing is, I do tell myself these things, and I listen. I make a real effort to be a sane and useful human every single day. Some people don’t even do that. If you’re one of those people, stop being a raging bitch. Just stop. You don’t have “haters.” It’s not “you against the world.” The world is busy. Get busy too or go be a raging bitch in private. Note: If you do have “haters” than consider how this advice could remedy that. Also, stop saying “haters.”

“Don’t mask dislike or jealousy with “LOL.” Oooooh…social networking. You think you’re so clever with your “pages” and your “likes” and your massive amounts of “friends.” Well, you are. The problem with you being so popular is how we sometimes communicate on sites like Facebook & Twitter. The thing I’ve caught myself doing recently is kind of embarrassing if I were the sort of person to feel embarrassed. I’ve done it, and maybe you’ve done it too. Ever read (or write) something like this in response to a status message?

“OMG, you’re on vacation AGAIN! Morocco this time? That must be really nice for you! Isn’t it just so great that you’re rich and can afford all that time off? Guess your boss isn’t pissed you’ll be gone for 3 weeks this time either. LOL!”

Does the “LOL” at the end really mask the obvious jealousy and disdain in that comment? Does it make it OK just because the “LOL” implies it was all said in jest? Maybe Lucy Travelpants works hard for her money, saved 6 months for this trip, regularly volunteers and has an evil boss she deserves a major break from. Or maybe she doesn’t. Either way, it’s not fair to assume anything based on a status message. We never know what’s really going on in anyone’s life unless they post every little thing at all times. (That’s a whole other issue.) If you’re not truly happy for someone you otherwise care about, just don’t type anything. I’ve slapped my own hands quite a few times on this issue. Don’t tell me I’m alone on this one!

“Stop reading and start doing.” This advice is not at all for everyone. In fact, I’m not sure how many of you will be able to relate to me on this one. (I’m excited to find out!) I don’t read self-help books. The reason why is not because I don’t think they are absolutely incredible. There are millions many enlightening, intelligent and inspirational books out there with oodles of information and techniques inside that we could all use to change our lives for the better. I’ve bought some of them. The reason I don’t read them is this: when I read a self-help book I feel accomplished. My thoughts go something like this: 

“I have a problem/quirk/decision and I’ve taken the necessary step to seek help from this awesome book. I’m so proud of myself! This book was a stroke of genius! I don’t feel alone about this anymore either! Go ME!”

The problem is, I am so damn proud of myself for being self-aware and seeking out help that I usually don’t ever fix my real problem. I just bask in the glory of having acknowledged it. The words don’t really sink in until I actually take some sort of action beyond soaking up the knowledge the book has given me. (Side note: I am the same way with inspirational quotes. I read one and think, “Wow, that is so perfect and smart and speaking directly to me right this moment!” and then I just move on. I’ve never read “Carpe Diem” and found myself jumping off the couch to seize the day, if ya know what I mean.) This is not to say I won’t ever read a self-help book, it’s just that for a long while now my approach has been to make an intelligent guess and just try something and fail if it doesn’t work…then try again. I trust my intuition whenever possible. I also surround myself with smart and caring friends & family who make good suggestions. I have to have quite a bit of courage for this to work, and that part is not often easy. I can’t lie to myself either, and pretend I’m getting better/learning/growing when I’m not. Again, not easy. This may not be a good idea if you’re looking to do something dangerous that you haven’t spent any time researching or your problem needs medical attention. For me, however, this approach is actually working out so far. When it stops working I’ll be looking for the kind of book that says, “Now put the book down and go do  __________ before you self destruct” at the end of each chapter. If that doesn’t exist you’re going to have to help me write it.

Thoughts? What advice do you give yourself?

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