Category Archives: Just Thinking…

Make sure your actions match your words and thoughts

365 Ways to Become a Millionaire: (Without Being Born One) by Brian Koslow
Click here to purchase 365 Ways to Become a Millionaire: (Without Being Born One)
I have this book by my bed and I read a little of it some nights before I go to sleep. It’s not a get rich quick scheme or anything like that. It just offers key qualities that you need to develop to become successful. Even if you don’t want or expect to become a millionaire, they are good characteristics to have. There are 365 short paragraphs with key ideas, so it’s a really good book for reading just a little at a time. I was flipping through the book tonight and just skipping around and realized I really like this quote: “Integrity requires consistency between your public statements and your private thoughts.” (From day 2.)

I like this quote and I’ve seen similar quotes before. But it’s true! Yes, we have to adapt to different situations–I wouldn’t talk to my boss like I’d talk to my best friend, but we should always be the same person through and through. If our thoughts don’t match our public behavior, something is wrong. Do we not really hold the values we think we do? If so, maybe we need to re-evaluate and realize what we really believe. Or perhaps we aren’t living up to the values we do hold. In that case, we need to work on being more true to ourselves.

We can’t shine and become our best selves if we aren’t being true to ourselves!

 

Learning about resilience, class and determination from…Legally Blonde


Click here to purchase Legally Blonde

This one is another non-book review. I am in the middle of reading a bunch of interesting books right now, so I’ve been slacking on the reviews; however, it hit me today that I wanted to blog about the merits of this movie!

I discovered this movie on accident a few years ago when it was on TV and I was flipping through the channels. It starts out so silly that I sat there mesmerized and wondering what the heck this was! It is true that on the surface, this initially appears to be a very silly movie about a silly rich girl. I think that’s why I had never bothered to pay attention to it when it was new. But for whatever reason, I caught it on TV one day and kept watching it.

This is actually a really good movie! It’s not a classic or anything, but as I watched it, I was very impressed with the character of Elle Woods. Yes, she seems to be a shallow girl with shallow interests, but if you keep watching, you see that she is loving and loyal and she cares about the people around her. She’s cheerful and upbeat and, she just happens to be blessed with good looks and a great figure, too. But it’s her character qualities that stood out to me. She is the kind of person that we should aim to be more like.

Why? Well, I already mentioned she is loyal and caring, but she’s also determined. She comes up with a goal and she works and works until she succeeds. She doesn’t give up despite the roadblocks. This is a great quality to have! Imagine how much we could all achieve if we pushed and didn’t give up? Good for her!

Next, not only is she cheerful, but she remains even-mannered and polite to the people who hurt her. In the first movie, there is a group of girls that has decided she is just too stupid and blonde to be part of their circle. They treat her poorly and make sure to exclude her and embarrass her. What does she do? She doesn’t sink to their level. She feels hurt, but she puts on her smile and carries on. Again, a great attitude! By refusing to be mean back and by maintaining her thoughtful behavior, she wins their friendship, but more importantly, she shows that she is the bigger person.

Throughout both movies, she continues as a cheerful, determined woman who hits setbacks, but doesn’t let them drag her down, who meets enemies but doesn’t retaliate against them, who refuses to expose her friends’ secrets, and who remembers who her friends are. Hiding underneath this chick flick are some really good life lessons.
I enjoy watching this movie, because I think in many ways Elle Woods is a great role model. (Yes, I did say that!) I always come away smiling, and feeling good and empowered about my future. While I wouldn’t want to be exactly like her, I think we can learn something from her character’s kindness and her determination to succeed–not just how to act, but how to treat others.


Also, I didn’t know this, but there are books too! I found it while I was getting a link for the movie. I have no idea if they are good or not, but they sound fun! I even found a Barbie! Too cute πŸ™‚

Choose your friends wisely–make sure they build you up!

 

Your friends are a big influence on you. Choose them wisely!

Your friends are a big influence on you.
Choose them wisely!

I’ve always heard sayings like “choose your friends wisely” or “your friends are a reflection of you.” For the most part, I never really thought about them, but the other day, I saw a situation that helped me realize how important it is to choose friends who help you become a better person rather than friends who drag you down or get you into trouble.

I remember when I was in high-school, I was a goody two-shoes–very quiet and a hard worker, and I never got into trouble. My best friend was a bit of the opposite. At times, when she would get in trouble at school or work, people who didn’t know me would assume maybe I was like her. It almost ruined an after school job for me when she got fired and I was still working for the same company. Our boss assumed I might be a trouble maker as well and started treating me like I was.

Recently, I was friendly with a group of people who shared a common interest in one area, but were very different people in other areas. A couple of them I was really starting to like and was becoming friends with. A couple of them I did not like at all because I found them to be mean. I had a pretty good opinion of one woman in particular because she seemed smart, tactful, and reasonable. Over time, I saw her behaving more and more like one of the meanies in the group as she started joining in their increasing bullying of other members of the group. My opinion of her plummeted and I decided this was not the type of person I wanted to be friends with. I want my life to improve and I don’t think that can happen if I’m hanging out with an adult bully!

Now this lady is probably normally a very nice lady just as I had originally thought, but she was taking on the mean behaviors of another person and sliding backwards in life. As I watched this, (and heard others express similar disappointment in her change,) I realized just how much it matters who you choose as your friends. Not only might you look bad when people associate you with them, but you might starting following their bad influence. These weren’t kids–they were middle-aged adults! Let’s strive to be better people and beware of those who would drag us down. Positive influences only!

The keys to confident and successful public speaking

Let your confidence shine!

Let your confidence shine!

Today I was debating with someone and someone sarcastically commented that I was sooo self-assured about what I was saying. Well, I was. I truly was. I wasn’t just throwing out theories, I was stating something that I know without a doubt is true and could easily be proven. It’s really easy to be self-assured in that case! I was confident about that situation and it’s easier to speak without fear when you are confident that you are right. It reminded me of something I learned in college and how I mastered my intense fear of public speaking.

When I was a kid, I used to hate giving presentations in school. Hated it. I was painfully shy and I would have rather failed a class than give a presentation. I couldn’t sleep and I worried for days, and dreaded the moment my turn came. I’d speak in a terrified, shaky voice and rush through what I had to say. I was normally so quiet at school, those forced presentations might have been the only time anyone heard me speak in class!

Years later, when I went to college for the second time in my mid 20’s, I gave myself a goal that I was going to leave with a 4.0. Well, in college, there are presentations. Gulp. But I wanted all A’s so bad, I knew I needed to master those presentations because they were just going to keep coming. I was still shy and quiet in class, and I remember one professor looking at me with sympathy when I got up to give a presentation on Charles de Gaulle, (fascinating hero, by the way!) Then I nailed that presentation so well that other students congratulated me and the professor told me how well I’d done. Honestly, she looked shocked and kept gushing over how good my presentation was. She looked at me differently after that and I became a favorite student. Whoa…me?!? Well, I wanted it bad enough and I knew I had to do it. That’s one thing I learned. I wanted that A so bad, I made it happen!

The next thing I learned is: Once you do it well, you realize, “hey, I can do this!” and the next time is not so scary. It just got easier and easier. I will always be a shy person, but I can say with confidence, that I can give a good presentation. Which leads to the third thing I learned….

It is easy to be confident when you know what you are talking about. I didn’t nail that presentation because I suddenly became a great public speaker. I succeeded because I went through the information over and over and over until I knew it extremely well and could have talked on and on about Charles de Gaulle. I didn’t even use note cards. I didn’t need to worry about something I’d learned so well it was second nature to me. I started using that pattern for all my presentations in college and later graduate school. Know your topic well!

If you have a fear of public speaking or even speaking your mind in front of smaller groups, just remember–if you know what you are talking about, it’s much easier to be confident. Don’t just memorize a speech. Know your subject so well that you could have a conversation about it. It comes more naturally and it’s less scary when you know that you know what you are doing. And you have to want to do it. When you speak successfully, save that feeling for the future and remind yourself you can do it again.

These days, I feel pretty good talking in front of people. πŸ™‚

Prioritize your time to care for the people who matter most–New Years Resolution #1

laymiwindow2

This year I’m going to stop caring too much for people who don’t care about me and start caring more about the people who do care about me.

I think we’ve all done it. We’ve all learned to care more about or like another person more than they like us back. Not that there’s anything wrong with caring about or liking people, but sometimes we spend so much time being there for others who can’t reciprocate, that we neglect the people who do care about us. I’m a codependent type. If I see someone who doesn’t have much family, who seems to be bullied, who seems sad, who seems to be struggling, sometimes I will become very invested in helping that person. I will spend time thinking about them and ways to help then…while they are out having fun with their friends and ignoring me! On the other hand, I have friends who spend time caring about me and I don’t always reciprocate well because I’m caught up with someone else who doesn’t really care a whole lot about me. This year I would like to change that and show more appreciation for the people who care about me while spending less of my precious time pursuing those who can’t or don’t want to.

I think life will be better for me, and would be better for everyone if we prioritized our relationships to focus on those who want to be in our lives and let the people who don’t want to be in our lives us go their own way to spend time with the people who are better suited for them. No more trying to chase friendships or relationships with people who aren’t as dedicated!

Backsliding while learning to have boundaries

Dating checklist: 1. Don't be desperate 2. Don't settle 3. Don't hang on too long to something that's pointless

Dating checklist:
1. Don’t be desperate
2. Don’t settle
3. Don’t hang on too long to something that’s pointless

Boy have I done some dumb things lately, but I learned a lot too. I like that I was able to at least realize I was making bad decisions, even though I don’t have willpower to avoid them yet. Knowing and backing out are good first steps! And I’m moving forward. So here’s what I did:

First of all. I’m single. I have been in relationships most of my life since I was 19, so I’m not a fan of being single. I have been alone for two years since I kicked an abuser out of my life and I’m ready to not be alone. I want cuddles and friendship and later more, but I’m also very busy and don’t get out much. So when someone shows interest, I respond. I’ve met a couple people I was very interested in this year, but things just fizzled out. Most recently, someone I would not normally be interested in contacted me online and we started sending long messages. That was fun! I love being able to have long conversations and get really excited about them and I haven’t had that in too long. (In fact, I very much regret losing someone really wonderful, with whom I could talk until dawn and still be energized, due to bad timing a few years ago.) The person I was e-mailing with expressed gladness about our messages and what began as my only replying to be nice led to my being interested…because the other person expressed interest first. FIRST mistake! I should be interested in people because I am interested–not because I’m desperate for anyone to notice me!

It turned out that the person and I had some differences that should have been deal breakers, and I could tell he realized that and started backing off. But, I was so happy to have someone to talk with again, that I insisted the differences didn’t need to be a problem, even though if I were honest with myself, they were. SECOND mistake! I kind of convinced this person that we should continue pursuing whatever possibility there might be, but things never were the same. We went from fun long messages to small talk and finally flirting. I went from being the educated woman with all kinds of intellectual interests to the ditz who threw out some sexy talk to keep someone pseudo-interested. And I knew it! THIRD mistake!

I could tell this person wasn’t really engaging in conversation and I wasn’t really setting myself up as a valuable lady anymore. I’d start stupid little chats when I was bored and sometimes realized that he was barely answering. So I kept trying. FOURTH mistake! Oh, but he sure noticed during late nights when the chats got a bit steamy. Then he paid attention. And even though that is totally not who I am with virtual strangers, I had fun with it. FIFTH mistake!

This person was totally nice but he’s still a male and even though I knew in my head that he wasn’t really into me, I was bored/lonely/whatever enough to keep flirting and being my normally optimistic self. And of course that will keep a man “interested” on a superficial level. SIXTH mistake!

I told this person if we were going to pursue things, I’d like to move to phone calls and meet soon, but I had to nag him for a call. SEVENTH mistake! And there wasn’t much chemistry during the call, (although I’m shy, so that might be understandable.) When I hung up, I thought “ughh!” that was NOT what I want. (And it wasn’t like the guy I missed out on some years ago.) And I still kept trying! EIGHTH mistake! Guess what? Just because there is some interest at first, doesn’t mean you have to pathetically chase it when it’s clearly dissolving! And yet I did.

As things got out of hand, I realized this was not the real me, or how I wanted to be seen or what I really wanted. I realized I was making myself the easy go-to girl while this person was clearly dating people he respected more because they weren’t making fools of themselves. What was I thinking?! I know better than this! I prod my girlfriends when they do dumb things like this…and yet I did it. The authors of The Rules would be shaking their heads at me. The authors of He’s Just Not That Into You would write a chapter about me. And I know these books to be fully accurate and I usually trust them. But I was silly this time despite knowing the truth.

And you know what else I did? I passed up two dates with men who would be good choices for me…because I was talking to this guy. One of the guys I turned down was a great match and very enthusiastic about meeting me and THAT is what I really want. I’ve lost count of how many mistakes I made!

While I was going through this dumb phase, I knew I was doing everything all wrong. Quite frankly, I once broke up with an ex-boyfriend who was short, overweight and balding because I couldn’t feel attraction, and yet this person had the same qualities, (although to be fair, this guy wears it well.) So I made a list of what I really want and tried to remind myself that this person was not going to turn into what I really wanted, and even though I’m very broad-minded, he clearly was not that into me.

And, as soon as I pulled back from getting steamy in chat and said I couldn’t sleep with him…guess who lost ALL interest and got a bit mad at me? Yep. I had a feeling that was all he wanted–especially since our chats were mostly at night and he always turned them that direction. GAZZIOLLIONTH mistake!

So what have I learned? (Or re-learned?) Oh so much! But here are a few things:

First of all, I will always be open-minded to imperfection, but the spark has to be there–as well as genuine, enthusiastic interest on both sides that doesn’t require me to dumb myself down or do some chasing. Don’t be desperate. Don’t settle. Don’t hang on too long to something that’s pointless. I’ve been in good relationships and the real thing doesn’t leave you constantly wondering if the other person is interested–this whatever-it-was left me in that state, and try as I might, I wasn’t fooling myself. (But I did make a fool out of myself!)

So, I realize I have so much more to learn about respecting myself, valuing myself and letting others value the real me, expecting and getting respect, maintaining boundaries and more. But, I’m open to that and I’m refreshed in my desire to constantly improve!

It’s never too late to respect yourself and your boundaries

Respect yourself and your boundaries

Respect yourself and your boundaries

So in my last blog, I hinted that I did something stupid and lowered my personal boundaries. In the past, I would have just gone along with what I’d already decided and felt obligated to continue with poor choices. In fact, when I eloped with my abusive ex-husband, he was raging and calling me stupid the whole way there, and I did NOT want to marry him, but felt like I had to since I’d already agreed to. How sad is that? Fortunately, this situation is not so extreme. However, instead of being afraid to change my mind and do what I believe to be the right thing, I did what I knew I had to do for me and what I know to be the smart, responsible long-term choice. Someone is going to be quite angry or disappointed with me, and I’m sorry for that, but I was on a wrong path and I can’t keep going that way. I’d been making many positive steps forward with boundaries and taking care of myself, but recently took a step back. Well, I just took my first step forward again. That’s something! And the fact that I could do it means I’ve come a long way. Lesson learned.

Always be true to yourself because back-stabbing yourself hurts worse than when others do it

Always be true to yourself and your values

Always be true to yourself and your values

I literally feel sick to my stomach right now, because I realize I have completely disrespected myself, my boundaries, what I feel is right, and my integrity. I put a low value on myself and behaved in a manner that is not in keeping with what I really feel or want in the long term, and I betrayed myself for the thrill of short term fun. Fortunately, no real damage was done, but I realized in my desire to find a relationship, I rushed ahead too much instead of respecting myself and showing the other person how to respect me as well. (In case this is cryptic, I’ll avoid gossip by stating that no one-night-stands were involved. That’s really, really not for me!) I acted like a real ditz and a bimbo, and didn’t really show the real me or the way I want people to see me. I think I basically set myself up to be someone’s fling by being too “easy” instead of looking for a guy who wants more than flirting. There’s every chance that said guy might want a relationship, but I have acted like a plaything instead of a respectable woman, which destroys any opportunity for the kind of relationship I want. What the heck was I thinking? I am experiencing dissonance between my actions and the real me, and it feels terrible.

The playfulness and flirtiness are definitely part of my nature, but I usually reserve them for relationships–not as ways to get someone who probably isn’t truly interested in ME to be a bit interested for a while. I feel like I acted like a peacock to get temporary attention when I really want a dedicated partner.

So what have I learned? Be true to yourself. If you are a smart girl, don’t try to be flirty for fear that a male will lose attention if you aren’t! He might find you amusing for a while, but you know who he’s going to keep seeing? The woman who respected herself all along, the woman who expected typical dating courtesy, the woman who wasn’t desperate. I’ve learned a lot and I’ve documented a lot of it in this blog, but clearly I have more to learn.

Value yourself because people often treat you the way you show them to treat you

Value yourself. You show others how to treat you.

Value yourself. You show others how to treat you.

Humility and selflessness are good qualities! Greed and materialism are bad qualities! Right? Yes…sort of. I want to blog about something I’ve noticed a few times now, and a lesson I learned from it.

As a codependent, I’ve always put my needs and myself last in relationships. I asked my then husband-to-be to buy me a cheap ring because I didn’t want to be selfish. After we married he was the breadwinner, so I lived cheaply and encouraged him to splurge on himself. I kept the house immaculate and catered to him because I felt like I owed him and didn’t have much value since I was “just” a housewife. Guess how he treated me? Like a maid.

On the other hand, my husband was head over heels in love with his ex-girlfriend. (Yes, that made for an awkward marriage!) She had demanded the best of everything…and she got it. She was no better than me, but she asked to be treated like a queen and she was. I quietly pushed attention and gifts away from myself and taught him that I was not as valuable as she was. He never felt like I was a prize like she was, because he had to work for her and compete for her attention, whereas I was the sure bet that he settled for.

I also had a long-term ex-boyfriend that was a financial drain on me. I kept bailing him out of his money troubles and he used MY money to buy me gifts. He would have fun hiking outside all day while I went to work. I got tired of that eventually and left. He soon fell in love with another girl…who made him work for her. Eight years later he’s still chasing that impossible dream. He waits on her hand and foot and spends huge amounts of money trying to win her affections. She isn’t a mean girl, but she wants a man to treat her well and as such, even though we are very similar for looks, intelligence and education, she’s a prize and I’m a shrinking violet.

Both of those men treated me completely differently than they treated the women who valued themselves and asked to be valued. It made me realize that hey, maybe I should expect a little dazzle too! What a conflict with my nature–which is to be shy and introverted and to feel guilty asking for things. Maybe there is something to the traditional courtship gifts of jewelry and roses? Maybe men need to see women as a prize to win over rather than the humble little mouse who doesn’t ask for anything? I think some of these traits are hard-wired into our biology. Maybe someone isn’t going to treat you like a valuable prize unless you let them know that you are worth having.

Now I’m never going to be a material girl, but I’m certainly not going to put myself last anymore. I’m a prize myself and how I view my value determines how others will as well. Lesson learned!

 

Sometimes resisting a bully makes things worse–maintaining boundaries while staying safe

The best route with a bully is escape!

The best route with a bully is escape!

I have a narcissistic mother who has absolutely zero respect for boundaries or my choices for my life. She runs right over them. If I try to resist, she pushes harder, and sometimes becomes enraged or even violent because she’s not getting her way. In early 2013, she had an especially bad episode that involved her triangulating with her sister and stirring up trouble until her sister, (who is emotionally unstable,) was beating on my door screaming that she was going to hurt me after my mom riled her up and told her to come to my home. I hadn’t even talked with her sister, but my mother had created a fight with lies and gossip. Again. When my aunt arrived, I asked my mom not to open the door because I could hear her sister going insane. My mom pushed me out of the way to let my aunt in and my aunt started trying to physically attack me.

I go to therapy to try to cope with my mother’s behavior because she enjoys creating drama and crazy-making. When I talked to my therapist, she told me I shouldn’t have resisted. Huh? That threw me off. I asked her why should I put up with my mom picking fights and inviting people into my home against my wishes? She pointed out that if I had just said “yes” because I knew my mom was going to do what she wanted to do anyway, I could have smiled and nodded, let these two wackos do their thing, then nicely ushered them from the home after playing along. I said to her, why should I have to do this? Shouldn’t they just respect my wishes in the first place and leave me alone? She agreed that I shouldn’t have to parent these two, but that’s the way it was. Yesterday, I woke up and really understood what she meant by not resisting. Obviously, my situation could have been worse, but it hit me: following the advice to “resist” would have saved me a lot of hassle and retaliation. Because I tried to stand up for myself, I went through a lot of crap from those two in the following days. I finally understand the point of not resisting. When people are trying to control you, despite the injustice of it, you sometimes have to play along to avoid their rage and escalated behavior.

It reminds me of the “turn the other cheek” verse in the Bible. That verse used to annoy me! Why should I let someone abuse me and then invite more abuse?! Shouldn’t the bully be held accountable? Well, in a perfect world, yes. But, abusive and bullying people do not want to be held accountable, nor do they feel sorry. If you try to hold them accountable or try to stand your ground in the heat of their moment, they will make you pay for it. I also discovered this when dealing with an abusive husband. When he was determined to rage and scream and attack me, if I tried to plead with him and defend myself, he got more mad. I finally learned to diffuse and escape when it was safe. If I’d gotten in his face and acted the way he did, he probably would have killed me. Sometimes pride isn’t worth it. You can achieve more peace in the long run by not playing their games. Let them get their crazy behavior out of their systems, then get out when the coast is clear. But here’s the important part: once someone has revealed themselves to be that kind of person, never, ever let them come back for another chance to attack! You can still be strong and maintain the boundary to keep them from returning, but you have to keep yourself safe until you can get away from them.

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