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Life Lessons in Fear Fighting

The Relationship Archives

Chapter 2: A Much Happier Beginning

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Well. I owe myself a big I told ya so! Turns out on the other side of a huge life change, on the other side of a winter of lonely nights watching repeat episodes of Modern Family, is a happy ending. Or maybe a happy beginning.

Someone once told me you should believe what people say about love because when people talk about their stories of love and heartbreak, it’s probably the truth.

People gave me plenty of good advice about my situation. “You’re doing the right thing. It feels terrible now, but you’ll be thankful one day. Just when you stop looking, when you think you don’t need someone, that’s when it will come.”

I honestly didn’t believe them.

Now here I am, on the other side, and they were 100% correct. I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times before, and let me add my story to that list. My life is absolutely, every single day so much better than it ever was before. 

This blog was my therapy. I wrote in it almost daily during the worst part of my breakup- after I had taken the plunge and blamed myself for turning everyone’s life upside down. On days where I wanted to turn around and run back into a completely toxic relationship, I wrote instead.

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I’m almost 2 years out of that destructive relationship I wrote about, and I can see clearly that getting out was the best decision I ever made in my entire 30 years of life. It was good for everyone involved. If I had stayed, things would have ended eventually, but the damage could have been worse.

Looking back on my writing is difficult because I confused my loneliness and fear with positive feelings about a relationship that shouldn’t have lasted as long as it did. I thought about deleting the blog altogether, but I came to a different conclusion.

1. I’m going to leave my old, painful posts up. Why? Because if they help one person get out of a bad situation or help one person hold onto strength during a lonely moment, then my journey will serve its purpose.

2. I’m ready to start a new blog, writing about the newest adventures in my life. They have to do with fitness and becoming the best ME I can possibly be, which still fits with my theme of fighting my fears and doubts.

SO. If you’re here to find out the real truth about what its like to turn your life upside down because you know its not right, head over to the Relationship Archives to read my journey.

If you want to read about my newest adventures, visit my new pages to follow along with Chapter 2.

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Life Lessons in Fear Fighting Mindfulness

I Have a Hangover.

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I love this title because luckily I’m not sitting on the couch, curled in a ball with a tall glass of OJ and an Aspirin.

I have a different kind of hangover.

An expectation hangover doesn’t begin with any Cranberry Vodkas and Champagne. It begins with tiny seed thoughts planted into your mind.

I first read about this concept in one of my favorite books, The Twenty-Something Manifesto.

It’s when you live your entire life thinking you need to follow a certain path because, well, it’s what everyone else is doing.

And then one day it hits you. These aren’t your expectations! This isn’t what you wanted at all. Yet here you are, basking in them, finally having that college degree/house/job you THOUGHT you always wanted, somehow feeling a pit of emptiness lingering.

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It hurts. It’s confusing, and your head is spinning with possibility. If this wasn’t your path, what is? You think, “How can I be (insert age here) and still not have it figured out?”

You stumble on this hangover, so you try explaining it to a friend.

“I think I’m meant to do something more with my life. I think there’s something else out there for me.”

She squints at you as if you’ve just grown an additional head, but manages to spurt out something kind-hearted. “Well, what is it you want to do?”

“Um. I’m not sure exactly. Maybe something with children, or writing. Or maybe lobbying? Maybe a non-profit. Yeah. You’re right. This is weird. I have no idea what I’m saying. Nevermind.”

I’ve been lost in this expectation hangover for a while now, but The Universe has given me an amazing gift.

The Universe has connected me with new friends, old friends, and random acquaintances who aren’t following those rules. I’m meeting people like me who understand exactly what I mean when I say everyday life isn’t for me.

Tonight, through a series of coincidences, I reconnected with a friend from High School who recently spent 6 months in Africa. She and I sat in the booth of my local coffee shop, something I’ve done every day since I was in the tenth grade.

Here I was, in that same booth, listening to her tell stories of a place and an experience I couldn’t begin to visualize.

Surrounded by my comforts, I suddenly felt the thrill of the same possibility that terrified me before.

I told her about my expectation hangover, and her eyes said she knew what I was talking about.

She followed with one piece of advice.

Jump into something you love, do it with passion, and wherever that takes you is where you should be.

 

Life Lessons in Fear Fighting Love & Friendship

Letting Go of Someone You Love

You know how sometimes you think about if your life would’ve lined up a little bit differently, you might have missed out on something wonderful? 

The stars aligned for me back when I was 22. I was still in college at the time, and I was working just a few hours at the Gap. (Spent all my money in the store, but that’s not the point here.)

I had some extra time in my schedule, and I decided I would stop in to Big Brothers, Big Sisters to see what it was all about. I’ve always had a love for volunteering, and since I was studying to be a teacher, this seemed perfect.

It was summertime, and although I don’t usually wear skirts, I had this white flowy one I’d been saving for a hot day. You’ll see in a minute why it played into the whole stars aligning thing.

I walked into the building and was greeted by an older woman. I explained my interest, and she sat me down to complete the screening.

After a while of talking, she said:

“I think I have the perfect child for you. We’ve had her on the list for a some time. We’ve been waiting for someone really girly who can help her with those types of things. She lives only with her father and brother. Her mother recently passed away.”

I looked down at my skirt, realizing I must have given off just the right impression, and quickly agreed.

“There’s one problem. You may not want to be matched with her because she lives about twenty minutes away, out in the country. Would you be ok traveling back and forth?”

As a [broke] college student, I did hesitate. It would be a lot of gas money, especially bringing her into town to spend time doing an activity and bringing her all the way back. But how could I turn this down? 

Fortunately, that’s only the beginning of our story. My “little sister” and I have been matched since that summer day 7 years ago. If I wrote about all the lessons she’s taught me over the years, you’d get tired of reading.

So, I’ll say this.

She is the most remarkable, resilient, intelligent, thoughtful, responsible and kind little girl I’ve ever encountered. Everyone who meets her is impressed, saying she is wise beyond her years.

She’s had to be.

I have a million stories like this one where her advice made me think, but I’ll start with this from yesterday.

**

I still travel to pick her up, bring her into town, and return her home. The long car ride always gives us an opportunity to catch up. I ask how school is going, how is her family, how are her friends, and I listen as she updates me on her life as a teenager. {Still can’t believe she’s a teenager now!}

She starts telling me about her dog.

“Well, we have to get rid of the dog. I wrote an ad yesterday for Craigslist.”

“Really? Why do you have to give her away?”

“She’s been aggressive, and it’s hard to predict. She bit me one time, and I knew it wasn’t a good sign. I didn’t want to tell anyone, but I had to. Then she bit me again, and I knew it was time to let her go.”

“Oh,” I replied, thinking if I were her age, I probably wouldn’t have told anyone about the biting to save myself from having to lose my dog. “Won’t you miss her? You love her so much.”

“Yes, I love her. But, I know it’s time to let her go. When she bit me the first time, I thought maybe we could fix it. Even after working with her, she bit me again. I don’t have the resources to train her. It doesn’t matter how much I love her, it’s becoming dangerous.”

At this point, I half chuckle to myself thinking about how, once again, she’s proving she is even more brave and wise at 15 than I am at 29.

Here, all this time, I’ve been absolutely clinging desperately to a relationship even as it becomes more and more dangerous, claiming love will save it.

She goes on to tell me she included information in the listing about how the dog would be better off with special attention and training, and she would love to remain in the country where she could run and get exercise.

I think to myself how selfless it is to consider her dog might also be happier somewhere else.

Sometimes all the love in the world isn’t enough, and sometimes love means letting go.

 

The Relationship Archives

Maybe I Should’ve Tried Harder & Other Anti-Love Stories

Warning. This is not inspirational at all. In fact, it’s controversial and you may completely disagree with me.

OR I might make you say, “EXACTLY! That’s what I’ve been thinking.”

I’m writing this post for the second person…and for myself.

**

First, there’s this story about a love letter Brad Pitt wrote to Angelina Jolie being shared around social media sites. It’s a lovely story about how Angelina was feeling really low, she was depressed and sleeping all the time. She didn’t seem to love herself anymore.

http://couplesandco.blogspot.com/2013/12/i-lost-hope-and-thought-that-well-get.html

What did Brad do? Well, of course, he showered her with more love. He spoke highly of her wherever he went, he paid her lots of attention, and he told her constantly how much he loved her.

And she came right out of her funk and loved him back with all she had. They lived happily ever after. 😉

[Not to ruin this love story, but according to one website, this letter didn’t actually exist.]

So, there’s this story, plus some other quotes floating around the Internet. They give a clear message to anyone in a troubled marriage:

Try harder. Don’t give up. If it’s broken, fix it. Pour all of your love into it.
That’s the key to a lasting marriage.

And here’s my argument.

Sometimes someone’s lows go deeper. Often, you can’t fix this, hard as you try.

You put every effort into making things fit, you try changing yourself, and finally, you decide all that’s left to do is to tiptoe around quietly, trying to stay out of their way.

You can’t fix another person with all the love in the world.

(Yes, if the issue is a lack of love and affection in your relationship, a little kindness and compassion can, and should, go a long way. A marriage isn’t a union to be taken lightly.)

But, if this depression and anxiety is brought on by something deeper, something that’s never been addressed or healed, a missing piece in this person’s life (or an addiction), no amount of  your care is going to change it.

Showering someone with love when they have deeper-seeded issues isn’t a duty of love and marriage, it’s codependency. And it doesn’t work.

Codependency is a type of addiction itself, in which you become obsessed with trying to fix your significant other with your care taking.

{Not sure if your problems are normal relationship problems or codependency? Read more here. I was searching for this answer for years. When I finally realized I was in a cookie-cutter codependent relationship, I also finally realized why trying harder wasn’t working for us.}

It’s as if your partner is already holding the sinking anchor, and you’ve grabbed the rope. It sucks both of you in, makes you both depressed and anxious, all the while dragging you toward the bottom as you grasp desperately with every ounce of energy at the water surrounding you.

When this happens, the answer isn’t to dive in deeper.

The answer is the opposite. One of you has to detach and force your partner to face the reality of their addiction or anxiety.

They absolutely must have the desire and the capacity to change for themselves. They’ll never do it for you or because of you, and that has nothing to do with how much they love you.

(Because you love each other very much, or you wouldn’t have made the choice to enter the rest of your life with this person.) This is for the naysayers. I don’t have to tell you about love.

{Dislike.}

None of us has any idea what cards we’ll be dealt.

People in abusive, explosive, unhealthy, dishonest relationships who have tried painstakingly to make things work shouldn’t feel as if the answer is to work harder.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t put your absolute all into your marriage- because you should.

I’m saying if you’ve put your all in, and you’re exhausted from trying to change deep issues that won’t budge, and you know in your heart something’s still not right, don’t let these quotes bring you down.

Make your decisions for you, not based on viral, judgmental Facebook posts.

If the issues you’re dealing with are beyond normal marital problems and have transformed into unhealthy or abusive, further attachment won’t help.

Detach and heal yourselves. If it’s right, you’ll come back together as two healthy, whole individuals complimenting one another.

**

And detachment doesn’t always mean divorce. I believe you can work through addiction and codependency with the right tools, understanding, and commitment from both parties. In these cases, though, love isn’t enough.

I stumbled across this amazingly honest story about a love that worked through addiction and deep issues. It’s a long read because, of course, the fix wasn’t as easy as giving more love. But, the end result is worth it, and the struggle is relatable.

http://www.vintagerevivals.com/my-real-life-story

PS: I found Mandi’s blog while searching for a sugar cookie recipe. It’s one of the only recipes she has on her blog, it’s actually a vintage furniture DIY site, which is right up my alley. So, instead of clicking away or leaving to make my cookies, I searched around, reading her blog, and I found the story of her marriage, which taught me so much about my own. How’s that for fate?

If you’re interested in finding out more about codependency, I highly recommend Melody Beattie’s books, especially the daily meditations. They’ve gotten me through some difficult days.

The Relationship Archives

How a Complete Stranger Saved my Christmas

I had absolutely no idea what I was in for with this whole lonely holiday thing. I had been in a relationship for 10 years. No one told me the holidays are a big ol’ billboard sign reminding you of whatever you feel like your life is missing.

I thought I was doing so well, the random crying had stopped, I was coming out of my sulking mode, and then the holidays hit.

Why the holidays? Social media is the first culprit. Scroll down your newsfeed at any given point, and you’ll see holiday messages from all the seemingly-perfect families around. Everyone is suddenly listing all the things they’re thankful for.

You’re happy for them, you are. And you have a lot to be thankful for, too. But you can’t help thinking you’re missing something.

Then come the Christmas photo cards. Yes, they’re adorable. Yes, you love seeing all your friend’s babies in their holiday outfits throwing glitter and glowing under Christmas lights.

But, let’s be honest. In the back of your mind, there’s that voice telling you you’re behind in life’s timetable.

Let’s not forget the holiday music (used to love it, now can’t stand it), trying to hang holiday lights by yourself (gave up when half the strand was out), and digging through last year’s Christmas decorations (only to find your old anniversary ornaments). Ugh!

I don’t think I realized exactly how hard the first Thanksgiving and Christmas alone would be. And I’m lucky enough not to be literally alone- I have amazing friends and family around me. But, as much as they’ve tried to surround me with support, nothing could’ve saved me from this round of feelings.

Someone came pretty close though.

It was about a week before Christmas. I had been coming home from work collapsing on the couch exhausted everyday, trying to dance around these feelings creeping their way back in.

My phone buzzed, and I checked it expecting to find a check-in text from one of my friends. Except it was a number I didn’t recognize, and here’s what it said:

“Ho ho ho! Only 7 more days ’til Christmas. Hope you’re enjoying the Christmas chaos! -Rick”

I smiled at the Christmas message from this stranger. I don’t know anyone named Rick with that area code, but I thought I’d just let it go.

I didn’t respond, thinking that was the end, but it was only the beginning. The next day I received another message:

“6 days ’til Christmas! Wishing you joy and happiness. -Rick”

The messages continued like this until Christmas. Now, admittedly, I probably should have told this guy he had the wrong number. But, I was kind of enjoying the holiday cheer.

Finally, on Christmas morning, just when I was feeling the most alone, I received a final Christmas wish from Rick.

“Seth, Wishing you love and hope on this beautiful Christmas day. May you find peace and connection with those around you. Enjoy your day. -Rick”

Since this message had a name in the greeting that clearly wasn’t mine, I thought I’d better tell Rick his messages hadn’t been reaching Seth.

“Rick, I’m so sorry I didn’t tell you this sooner, but you have the wrong number. Your messages cheered up my holiday, and I was selfishly enjoying the Christmas countdown. Have a Merry Christmas. -Alissa”

I was a little nervous my new friend Rick would be upset, but he wasn’t.

“That’s Ok! Glad my messages brought cheer to someone on this holiday. Have a great Christmas! -Rick”

I wanted to let Rick know he had done a good deed, so I responded telling him how the holidays had been difficult for me, but his messages brightened my day.

Rick responded with a simple thought, but it turned my whole attitude around.

“I’m celebrating alone this year, so I can relate to feeling that certain holiday sadness. But, we have to remember how lucky we are. We have food, warm beds, and friends and family surrounding us. Even during times when we think we’re missing something, there’s a lot to be thankful for. -Rick”

Rick saved me this Christmas. Our conversation ended there, and I’ll probably never speak to him again, but I know why his texts reached my number as he counted down his blessings in honor of the Christmas season.

I needed Rick’s reminders and positive light, and as usual, I have The Universe to thank for sending it my way.

 

The Relationship Archives

By Myself for the First Time in a Long Time

If you were wondering where I’ve been the past month. I’d like to say I was off on some exciting adventure in my new-found single & fear-fightin’ life, but…that’s simply not true.

I was actually about two feet from my computer, on the couch, in my pjs, watching reruns of Modern Family and eating chocolate chip cookie dough.

Go ahead, judge me.

For the first five months after my separation, I threw all my energy into [crying, sulking, and] working on myself so I would come out of this stronger. And I did! I swear. Stick with me here.

For the next few months, I rearranged, redecorated and remodeled my house to feel like my own. I did it…I love it. It’s cozy, clean, organized, and so ME.

Then, I was left with this last month. Here I was in this beautiful, lonely house with new-found time to do whatever my heart desired. But, instead of working on my next project, I sat still. All I could find the energy to do was to enjoy my new environment and relax.

Believe it or not, relaxing wasn’t easy. My mind fought back the whole time, but my body was tired. I told myself to get up and get moving. One day, I stopped fighting it. I decided rest was exactly what I needed. Not forever, but as the next stage.

I wasn’t a total bump on a log. I’ve met so many new friends, especially one who has taken me under her wing and pulled me up screaming and kicking at least once a week to do something fun.

{Check out the Christmas tree we made for a local decorating competition!}

Now, I feel a change again. There are definitely nights I’d like to stay in and relax, but after my little vacation, I’m feeling reenergized. There’s a slight difference in my mood, and I’m excited to find out what adventures are in store.

This blog is about facing fears. It’s about being afraid, but doing it anyway.

When I started writing, I was afraid to get out of an explosive relationship. Then I left, and I was afraid I wouldn’t stick to my decision, or that I had made the wrong one. My fear changed again as I realized my life was about to be very different than I’d planned.

Now, I can write about the fear of being alone. I’m here, and it’s not bad. It’s pretty great sometimes. I’m finding ways to manage it and enjoy it. Stay tuned.

The Relationship Archives

Life’s no Orchestra.

The funny thing about this blog is how it can be inspirational and honest all in one. Most of the time I’m feeling inspired and passionate about life, but frankly, sometimes I sulk. Today is one of those days. I always give you fair warning!

I can’t really put a finger on how I’m feeling tonight other than disappointed with a bunch of different little things happening in my life. I don’t think the disappointments are relevant because they could be anything, it’s more about the feelings of disappointment and uncertainty.
What it really boils down to is…I’m annoyed. I’m annoyed because my life is not an orchestra. Not because I’m hoping I’ll be surrounded by music, but because I can’t seem to control what’s happening around me.

To be honest, I like things to go the way I want them to. I used to think I was the conductor, and my life was just falling into place the way I was planning it. Some days are a big wake up call: Life isn’t something I can mold and plan. 

Ugh. That’s unfortunate.

The interesting part is it has always been out of my control- everyone’s is. You just don’t realize it until something happens, something that wasn’t in the plan, and there’s nothing you can do to change it. 

Most days I’m excited about fate and what life may have in planned for me. I’m always daydreaming about new projects, new ideas, and the potential of the future. (I blame Pinterest.)
The trouble with dreaming, though, is the way it serves as a form of planning. Sometimes I dream up the way things will turn out, and when they take a different turn, disappointment kicks in.
Today I let it turn my attitude into a negative one. My unplanned future feels a little empty. I’m afraid at the end of the day, I’m only left with myself.You know what, though? (Here’s the positive.) I’m starting to truly understand what it means to love yourself and to reach for your dreams. The unknown, the girl without a plan– it means the future is in front of me, and lucky for me- I have no idea what amazing things may be in store.


Life Lessons in Fear Fighting Love & Friendship

The Classy Girl’s Guide to Dealing With Gossip

It hurts. Really. {#@*!^} Bad! You want to run home, crawl under the covers and scream until your lungs ache. You want to slam your fists into your pillows and sulk in your room until everyone has forgotten your very existence.

You’ve been exposed. You can’t run away in a fit of tears. All you can think to do is slink away quietly and find the person who started this whole mess. You want to use any ounce of information you have about them to inflict that same type of pain only fed by this caddy, silent killer. Gossip.

I hang this poster in my classroom as a constant reminder for my students. Gossip Hurts.

We try to teach children about the pain of gossip we went through during Middle and High School, but it’s not always snobby teenage girls who make other girls feel this way.

They learned it from the best- adults.

Unfortunately, gossip doesn’t go away after High School. It’s there, dark and evil as ever, but not as obvious.

Why do we– especially when we know exactly what other women are going through- choose to make others feel smaller through this act of humiliation?

We’re so good at it.

**

It all starts in a conversation with a friend or coworker. 

We hear the slight change in her voice, the volume is turned down just a dial, and here it comes. She’s about to give us something good, something juicy, something we don’t actually want.

Something no one else knows.

“We’re having problems. We’ve decided to separate to try to get some perspective.”

Once our friend has divulged the secret, we resolve to bottle it up. We keep this poison hidden away with innocent intentions of never taking it out again. Deep down, we want to be trusted.

“Don’t worry, Jamie. You’re doing the right thing. I’m here for you. I won’t tell anyone.”

Until it comes up in another conversation.

“What’s going on with Jamie and Steve? I saw Steve’s car at his mother’s house a few days in a row. I wonder if she’s sick.”

The bottle begins to rattle inside of us. We know the truth, and they’ve spun it all wrong. We should try to fix it for Jamie. The rumbling bottle gets louder and louder- we can hardly hear what they’re saying now.

Our mouth bursts open, exposing the potion we’ve been keeping locked away.

“Well, don’t tell anybody, but…”

A little hesitation. 

“Maybe I shouldn’t. I promised not to tell.”

The other girls see the bottle and can’t help but yank it out of our hands. They stare at us wide-eyed.

“Now we have to know! We swear we won’t tell anyone.”

We take a deep breath, realizing we can’t turn back now. 

“Jamie and Steve….they’re…having marriage troubles.”

And suddenly, there it is, the bottle’s smashed open and splashed all over the table.

“Please don’t tell anyone, I promised not to tell. It’s just a little break they’re taking… for space.”

But it’s too late. You can’t clean up the spill. The group starts buzzing, and none of it is any longer in your control.

**

We know what a dangerous, stealthy weapon humiliation can be, but we use its power anyway.

With the best intentions, we find connection with other women through talking about what’s going on in the lives of others.

Maybe it makes us feel a little better about our own insecurities, or maybe we like the feeling of having some new information to share with our friends.

We don’t think about the consequences because we tell ourselves this person will never know we were chatting about them. If we say something we wish we hadn’t, we ask our friends to swear to secrecy.

We should think of new conversation topics.

Bring a game or a book of questions or some trivia. Whatever you do, stay away from talking about others unless it’s positive.

Your best tool is silence.

Because gossip, no matter how hard we try, can’t be harnessed. It can’t be controlled carefully and used without consequence. Someone will always get hurt. 

Even if you swear to secrecy, even if the subject of the gossip won’t ever know it was said.

Think about it this way. Would you want to be a topic of conversation where everyone swears they’ll keep the secret, or would you rather they not talk about you at all?

Being talked about negatively when you’re not around to hear it is like a tree falling in a forest with no one around. It’s humiliating, heard or unheard.

Ok. We promise to empower other women by not talking about them or making judgements.

After all, everyone is on their own journey. 



But what about if someone else is talking about us?

The funny thing about gossip is we’ve all also been on the receiving end, and we know about this unique pain.

We know exactly about this gut-wrenching, back-stabbing, run-and-hide-under-the-covers-until-the-end-of-time kind of pain.

I vented to a friend about something in my life because I needed to get it out, I needed someone to hear it, so I could breathe the sigh of relief you get from saying something out loud.

I should’ve said it to my dog.

I never intended to have it repeated. I needed to sound off and have her simply hear me. 

That’s it. I didn’t think I had to clarify that I didn’t want this information repeated to anyone else.

Of course, soon after, another of my friends let me know my friend had exposed my secret. 

(Should’ve seen that one coming.)

Crap.

There’s that familiar sting of disappointment. The empty pit in your stomach from knowing you were the topic of another conversation. Your friend was responsible. Your trust was misguided. You can’t take it back.

Do I think she had bad intentions? No. I’m sure it played out exactly as gossip usually does.

But, the fact remained. The gossip had been said. Revenge and exposure, although tempting, were not great options. (We’ve all seen that Mean Girls movie.)

What’s a classy girl to do?

Look at it as you would any bad experience. Look at it as a lesson- a few lessons even.

A lesson in mindfulness about your friendships.

Don’t tell this friend anything I wouldn’t mind having put on a billboard on the side of the main road of our town. 

A lesson in faith- we can’t always control the way things play out in our lives.

Don’t try to right the wrong and control the situation after it’s already happened. Trust it as part of my plan, part of my learning. Have faith it will work itself out, or at least quiet down enough so people will soon forget it.

A lesson in controlling others- it can’t be done.

My first instinct was to call her and give her an earful. I thought I’d clarify [in some other words] that I had only been venting and didn’t want the word spread.

After thinking about it, I realized this wouldn’t be much of a solution.

 I can’t control what she chooses to do with the information I give her. It was out of my hands as soon as I made the choice to give it to her.

A lesson in what to do next time I need to sound off about sensitive topics.

It might be a good idea to set a boundary if I ever do decide to give her sensitive information again, but next time I should skip that and go to a friend who has been trustworthy in the past. 

We all should have one or two friends who are able to hear our cries and offer support without spreading the word. 

Know which friends to call for this, and which not to.

We can’t change what has already happened except to learn from it.

Classy girls sit back and quietly reflect about things like friendship and gossip.

They set boundaries and realize they can’t control those around them.

They don’t need to talk negatively about other women because they’d rather lift them up than put them down.

They are confident and accepting of their own imperfections, so they don’t need validation from having the latest gossip.

Life Lessons in Fear Fighting Love & Friendship

Whatever You Do, Don’t Settle.

Whatever you do, don’t settle. I don’t know how to convince you of this other than telling you I believe it with my whole heart.

Doubt means don’t just about every time.

If you think you’re settling, you are.

If you see red flags, consider them stop signs.

Life has a funny way of pointing things out to us, but somehow the biggest deception is when we turn our heads to it. 

Don’t ignore what The Universe is telling you.

At least you know one thing for sure if you’re having doubt: It’s not right for right now. So, at the very least, take a break from whatever it is and give yourself room to breathe.

Chances are when you detach from this job, relationship, friendship, living situation, whatever- you’ll see much more clearly how you function (better) without it.

Not sure if you’re settling? Pay attention to your body. When you walk into your workplace, sit down to dinner with your significant other, or talk with your friend-whatever the situation-what are you feeling? Do you have that pit deep in your stomach? Are your muscles tightened? Are you slumped over or clenching your hands?

Your body is reacting to your uncomfort and anxiety, and although I spend most of my time trying to get around this anxiety in order to live my life, this is the time to listen to it.

Jobs, relationships, and friendships should not cause this kind of physical reaction. When it is right, it won’t be this stressful.

Do you know you’re settling, but you’re too scared to make the change? Well, you’re in the right company. I’ve spent 28 years of my life being afraid of everything around me. Instead of changing, I tried to control it and manipulate everything carefully so it wouldn’t hurt me too much.

6 months ago I started this blog as part of my journey to get out of that place and awaken to the courage I’ve always had.

I used to hate quotes like these:

It’s a great quote about putting your all into your efforts. But, when you’re settling, reading quotes like this just makes you feel like crap. You’re thinking:

I’m watering. I keep watering and watering. I’ve tried everything. All I seem to be doing is making mud! 

When you’re settling, it doesn’t matter how hard you try. In fact, chances are you’ve probably already tried to make this work in absolutely every way you can.

You’re searching for a glimmer of a response or change from your partner/friend/job, and you come up empty every time. It’s because this isn’t right.

Getting yourself out of settling is just what it sounds like- unsettling. Change isn’t easy. But nothing good ever comes easily, right?

If you know something isn’t right for you right now, choose to do something about it.

You’ll thank yourself later, and I truly believe The Universe will bring you something you could’ve never had if you had kept holding on.

Life Lessons in Fear Fighting Mindfulness

Can You Show Your Vulnerable Side? Take the Quiz.

I used to love taking these quizzes in my magazines. Here’s one we can all relate to: Vulnerability. It sounds scary- but it’s actually something to aspire for. No one can relate to perfection. Vulnerability allows you to be true, to be real, to have faith, and to be fearful in a healthy way. How do you deal with vulnerability? Take the quiz to find out.

1. Your boss asks you to give a speech in front of a crowd of people about a topic you feel passionately about. Do you…

a. Lie and say, “I can’t. I have to have major dental work that day. I made the appointment months ago.”
b. Think about it for a minute, but decide it’s really not in your comfort zone. Talk about all the ways you will help with the presentation without speaking.
c. Take a deep breath and commit to giving your all to the speech. You’ll take it as an opportunity for growth and development.
2. A coworker of yours admits she’s been having a really rough time with her relationship. You think you know exactly what she could do to work on the problem. Do you…
a. Tell her all about how your relationships have been good because you’ve been so committed to working hard.
b. Share your own story of relationship ups and downs, trying to make a connection with her and help her feel better about her situation. Passionately give her the advice and find yourself a little annoyed if she chooses not to follow it.
c. Validate her feelings, tell her you can relate to her troubles (without going into detail), and ask what would be the best way for you to support her.
3. You get an invitation to a dinner party you’d love to go to, but you won’t know anyone there except the hostess. Do you…
a. Make an excuse that’s so convincing you even believe yourself.
b. Apologize and admit you’re uncomfortable going because you don’t know many people. You suggest maybe she could stick by you at the party? Or you could bring a friend?
c. Push through your uncomfort, put on your most fabulous dress, and promise yourself you will talk to at least two new people. After all, aren’t we all just always in the same boat?
 
4. You’ve been struggling with an issue you’re dying to get an outside opinion about. Do you…
a. Turn to the next person who’ll lend an ear so you will feel better immediately.
b. Talk to the friend you know will tell you exactly what will make you feel better, even if she hasn’t been all that trustworthy in the past.
c. Express your feelings to one of your most trusted friends, asking her to please just let you bounce your thoughts off of her. You’ll simply need her support.
5. You’re just beginning a new relationship. Things are going really well, and you want to introduce him to your family, but you’re not sure if he’s feeling as committed as you are. Do you…
a. Forget it. You’d rather not ruin a good thing.
b. Try to convince him it’s not a big deal to meet the family so he will go without feeling too overwhelmed.
c. Ask him if he would be comfortable involving your families in your relationship. Keep an open mind to his thoughts, and let your faith take over your fears.
Ok. Are you ready for your HONEST score? 
Mostly A’s: You’re an avoider. You hate the feelings of fear and vulnerability, and you’d rather escape unharmed. You’re an avid excuse-maker, and you’re content to miss out on opportunities for happiness and growth in the name of feeling comfortable. Sorry to break it to you, but the best medicine for you will be to face those fears.
Mostly B’s: You’re a bit of a controller. You’d like to change and manipulate situations to best fit how you pictured them. You are comfortable in a low-risk environment. You’d rather not throw caution to the wind, even if it means your opportunities are stiffled.
Mostly C’s: You’re vulnerable. People can connect with you. Friends like how relatable and humble you are. You may be afraid, but you go for it anyway. You’ve embraced the unknown and left everything up to faith. You’re trusting that every life event is part of your journey. You’re not afraid to let your truth be known.

*Oh, and by the way, I’m not claiming perfection here. I’m a former Type A Avoider with Mostly B Controlling tendencies and always struggling and working toward a Type C. Can you relate?