Who am I, really? Impostor Syndrome and Me.

 After winning her Oscar for Best Actress last month, Viola Davis did an interview where she admitted to suffering from impostor syndrome. She said she often fears that she’ll be found out and people will realize she’s just a fraud. This was shocking to many because we all know that Viola Davis is literally The Shit. But many people had never heard of impostor syndrome. Including me.  However, once I listened to her, I thought, “yeah that sounds familiar”.

Impostor Syndrome is a concept that  was coined in 1978 by psychologists Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes. This “syndrome” often affects high-achieving individuals, particularly women, who have an inability to internalize their accomplishments and have a constant fear of being exposed as a fraud. Despite evidence to the contrary, sufferers feel unworthy of their successes and write them off as luck or having the ability to convince others they are smarter or more skilled than they really are. Studies have shown that up to 70% of people have felt like a fraud at one time or another. Even Maya Angelou reportedly suffered from this overwhelming sense of self-doubt. And maybe, so do I.

When I was little I was convinced that my life was all a dream. That in reality I was a princess who for some reason had fallen asleep and dreamed that I was normal kid in Los Angeles. I knew at some point I’d wake from this nightmare and go back to my life of privilege and excess. Although I now understand, much to my dismay, that I’m not going to wake up in a castle. I still have a sense that the life I’m living isn’t the life I was meant to live. I feel like I’m just getting through the day, performing tasks, interacting with people until I can figure out what my real life or my true calling is. I know deep in my heart that I wasn’t put on this earth to prepare tax returns and argue with clients over why they aren’t getting more from their tax credits. Or to explain why an unemployed woman with 4 kids gets a bigger refund than a couple who make over $100k/year. I know that I was put on this earth to help people. So for the time being, that help comes in the form of assisting the public in meeting their tax obligations. How exciting. But I also know there has to be something more.

One day I sat in my office watching the documentary on The Secret. The Secret is based on the law of attraction and how speaking things into existence makes them possible. Positive thinking leads to positive results. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m sitting in my office, working at a business that I created. I wanted to quit my job. I wanted to start my own business. I wanted a cool office with a view. I wanted it and I made it happen. So why am I complaining? Why am I still searching for something more? Why? Because I’m a fake, a fraud, a phony. A snake oil salesman convincing people that I know what I’m doing! Now of course none of this is true (I don’t want my clients to panic). Obviously I have 3 degrees, 25+ years of business experience and a hell of a lot of common sense to prove that I’m not a charlatan. So what is the problem?

The problem is I created something I didn’t really want. I created something because it was the prudent and “right” thing to do. I created a life based on safety and security instead of having the guts to do what I really wanted. I took the easy way out. I was too scared or too lazy to figure out a way to make a living doing what I actually wanted to do – travel. I convinced myself that I’d be okay doing something I really didn’t want to do because it would afford me the opportunity to do what I love, sometime. I convinced myself that it would be a waste to throw away my years of experience and knowledge to just roam from country to country, experiencing life, meeting new people, living. What a dummy. I’m not an impostor because I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m an impostor because I go through each and every day pretending to be someone I’m not. Pretending that I’m content in this life. 

From the time I was in junior high I was obsessed with masks. I had masks of all kind. I would collect them from every trip. I even have a tattoo of the comedy and tragedy masks that I got in my 20’s. What’s that all about? Was I an impostor even at an early age? Have I always pretended to be someone I’m not? And why? To fool myself? To please my parents? What is the answer?

I realized while proofreading this post how many times I used the word “convinced”.  Therein lies the problem. As women in particular, we often “convince” ourselves that something is true or that it is okay. When you live in authenticity, there is no need for persuasion. Authenticity requires self-knowledge and self-awareness. Authenticity is about being genuine and real. Being transparent and honest – especially with ourselves. When you are authentic you just… are.

So who am I, really? I am a girl who should have been born a princess – that’s obvious. I am a woman who wants to travel most of the time and lay in the bed eating ice cream and watching Netflix the rest of the time. I am an educated, skilled, entrepreneur who despite all of my protests is actually good at my job. I’m a work in progress. I’m a hot mess.

 

 


September and the Countdown to 45

My 35th Birthday
My 35th Birthday

September means different things to different people. For some it means Labor Day Weekend and the end of summer. For others it means heading back to school. For me, September means it is almost my birthday. I feel a lot of trepidation when it comes to my birthday. Not because I’m getting older. I don’t really have a problem with that. There are only 3 people that I know who don’t like the fact that I’m getting older. Two of them are my cousins who shall remain nameless, Lynn and Melina, who are 13 and 9 years older than me respectfully. The problem they have is with the amount of grey hair that I have in my head while they both sport full heads of black hair. And the other person is my aunt Carol. Because me being grey means that she is getting older. I’ve told all 3 of them to leave me alone. I actually like my grey hair. I’ve been obsessed with salt and pepper hair forever. And I’m excited to join salt and pepper club. Although I know the time will come when my face says 35 and my head says 55. I’m not exactly looking forward to that. It is kind of nice for people to look at you in utter shock when you tell them how old you really are. Hmm now that I think about it, maybe hair color isn’t the devil.

So back to my birthday. The problem that I have isn’t getting older. The problem that I have is facing another year and not having achieved my weight loss goals. For me September means that in approximately 50 days I’ll be another year older and I’ll still be…. FAT. September means that I have approximately 50 days to lose that last stubborn 100lbs, 50lbs. Whatever the number may be. September means that I’ve spent another whole year as a failure. This year I decided to go back to what I know works. A time when I actually felt healthy and good about myself.

welcome-header-blog-post

In 2013 I completed my first Whole30. When I finished I felt great. I was going to hot yoga 3-4 times a week. I was sleeping better, waking up easier and my skin felt incredible. If you had told me then that none of it would last I would have slapped you. Since that time I’ve tried to complete Whole30 a few more times with no success. First of all, it isn’t something you just do one day. It takes a lot of preparation – both mental and physical. You have to be ready for it. Ready for the sacrifice. Ready for the shopping and the label reading. Ready for the irritation. Ready for all that damn cooking. Ready to change your life. Before I wasn’t ready. I thought I was but I was wrong.

So what makes this time different? I’m not sure. Maybe it is that I’m in a different space. Maybe I’m better prepared mentally. Maybe I just want it more. Maybe not. I don’t know that I will be successful. I don’t know that I will fail. All I know is at some point the roller coaster ride has to end. At some point I have to figure this out. I want to wake up on October 19th feeling content. Feeling like I did something right. Feeling like a success and not a failure. I want to wake up thankful for all that I have and all I that I’ve accomplished. I don’t want to have to that asterisk  that says “Yeah I’ve done all these great things this year *except lose weight”.

This year I’m making a pledge to myself. Part of “lifestyle by design” and living in authenticity means being comfortable in your own skin. Being happy with who you are not just with what you do. So the time has come for me to do what needs to be done. To truly be where and what I want to be means I have to be healthy. I have to stop talking myself out of things or saying that failure is okay. It isn’t okay. It sucks!

 


Follow Your Passion. Please!

Happiness is when what you think, what you do & what you say are all in harmony. – Ghandi

E31A2290This last year has been a journey for me. A journey to find me. A journey to find my passion. A journey to follow my passion to where ever it may lead me. A journey to find happiness. To live the most authentic life possible. To just BE. It sounds so simple. But in reality it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Hard not because I didn’t know what I wanted or how to get it. But because I had to get other people out of my way. The hardest thing about following your passion is not letting other people talk you out of it or make you doubt yourself. The hardest part is saying “yes, dammit this is what I want!”

I love this picture of myself. It was taken on safari in South Africa in December by my cousin James. It is one of those rare pictures that was candid, where I was just goofing around. But I realize at that moment, even though it was 6am and freaking freezing and I was standing in a pile of giraffe shit, I was so apologetically happy. I was doing exactly what I wanted to do. I was traveling the world with people that I loved. Seeing things that most people would never see. When I hear people say they are afraid to fly or the flight is too long it makes me sad. It took me 36 hours to get to Cape Town. 36 hours to get that smile on my face and I would do it 100 times more to be as happy as I was in that moment.

When I decided to quit my job at IRS I only told a few people. I told the people that mattered and the people I knew would support me. The other people I told AFTER I’d quit. I didn’t need their approval or their support. I simply informed them of the choice I made. There were a few people who I told beforehand who weren’t all that supportive. I knew they wouldn’t be. See, their lack of support had nothing to do with me. It had everything to do with them. And their fear. Their fear that they couldn’t walk away. That they couldn’t do it on their own. But I knew I needed to tell them. I knew I needed that push back.  I needed to have that debate with them so that I could strengthen my position. Not for confirmation. I used them to solidify my business plan. The part of my plan that explains what differentiates me from my completion. The part that explains my purpose and my passion. I used their fear to make me stronger.

So why should you follow your passion? First of all, why not? It is an amazing feeling to do something that you actually want to do. It makes life so much easier. It makes the days go by faster. It makes conversations with people more pleasant. Next, once you follow your passion everything else falls in line. You’ll start to notice everything you come in contact with supports your goals. Articles you read, people you meet, businesses you come across will all become both financially and spiritually rewarding. And most importantly, you will live in truth and authenticity. You will no longer have to pretend to be someone who you aren’t. You will no longer have to spend 8 hours a day at a job that you don’t like. You won’t have to do things that you don’t want to do. You will feel as though a weight has been lifted. And you will find it so much easier to say “No. That doesn’t work for me.” Or “No. That doesn’t fit into my plan for the day.” Or “No. I won’t be in the country during that week.” That one is my favorite!

Finding your passion doesn’t mean you have to quit your job. Maybe you like your job. But maybe you spend too much time there. Maybe you devote all of your time to your husband and kids and have forgotten about yourself. Finding your passion means getting to the essence of what makes you YOU. Start simply by making a list of your interests. Which ones stand out to you more than others? Start researching groups, websites, blogs. Decide what you want to learn more about and go on from there. Not everyone needs to quit their job and start a business or travel the world. Some people love to paint or to cook or to dance or bowling. Who knows. I don’t know. But you do.

When I found my passion I found my voice. I stopped trying to please everyone else and made my happiness a priority. I do for those because I want to not because I feel a sense of obligation. I spend time with people that I LIKE doing things that I LOVE. And that makes me happy!


Entrepreneur Lifestyle

The entrepreneur lifestyle means so many things. It means working on Sundays or holidays. It means sitting in boring tax seminars in Las Vegas when you’d rather be at the pool. It means constant travel, meetings, funding, saying yes when you want to say no. It means deciding between your healthcare payment or your car note one month and paying off 3 credit cards the next. It means spending Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve in South Africa and taking your niece to an art museum on a Tuesday afternoon just because. The entrepreneur lifestyle is any and everything you want it to be because it gives you the one thing that you don’t get from a 9 to 5… Freedom.

One Sunday afternoon I was sitting in a board meeting for a real estate holding company that I started with my brother and my 4 first cousins on my dad’s side. The next day I was on a video conference call with my SJC Financial Solutions business partners, one of which is my first cousin on my mother’s side. After the call I asked myself, “how did I end up in business with both sides of my family?” I guess the answer is if you can’t trust family, who can you trust? Now here I am some  15 months later fully invested in 2 businesses with  2 people that are the definition of Ride or Die – Melina Johnson and the Urban Farmer, Terry Booty.

Terry and I have a special relationship. We have HUGE, what some would consider incredibly unrealistic dreams that NO ONE believes we will be able to fulfill but us. We see the vision, we have the plan. We are the entrepreneurs. One day I was talking with his mom and I told her I wanted to retire by the age of 45. She literally laughed in my face. My aunt, like my mother, spent over 35 years working for LAUSD. She was an elementary school teacher. Probably the hardest job ever. She put in her time and retired at the age of 62… like you’re supposed to. But Terry and I had other plans. In 2010 he left his job with Marriott. In 2015 I left my job at IRS. We were ready to put our plans into action. Although no plan is without pitfalls, for the most part we are both doing the things we set out to do. I probably won’t be able to retire at 45, considering that is in 3 months. But 50 seems quite doable. So this is a really long way around getting to my story.

S7300292

Terry lives in Florida but often travels to LA. When he does he stays at my house. Not only is Terry a morning person, he is also operating on East Coast time. I am neither. So the other day he gets up and goes to work out around 7am. He comes in my room all happy and chipper and says “hey get dressed, let’s go work out!” So I tell him to get the hell out and leave me alone. He quickly retreats. I instead decide I’m going to go to a hot yoga class at noon. So later, as I’m getting ready to leave he says “it must be nice to be an entrepreneur and just get to go to a yoga class in the middle of the day.” And I said “you’re damn right!”

20160513_105308

A few months ago I was visiting Melina in Kansas City and she tells me that I need to start answering my phone (which I never do) because I’m going to be getting a call from a game show. Huh? What? “Yeah, I signed us up for Celebrity Name Game.” Okay, I’ve never heard of Celebrity Name Game. “Then you better start watching it.” So low and behold about 6 months later I get a call. “Hi! This is Lauren from Celebrity Name Game!” A telephone Interview. An Audition. And BAM we are on a game show. We lost. But that’s not the point. The point is Melina wanted to be on a game show and we went on a game show. She flew from KC to LA for an audition with less than a week’s notice and then came back 2 weeks later to tape the show. She didn’t have to ask her boss for a day off or arrange her schedule with anyone. She wanted to do it and she did it. She’s got it like that! Why? Because she’s an entrepreneur.

I went to yoga at 12p in the afternoon because I wanted to and because I can. I’m not getting up at 5am to do a damn thing. Because I don’t want to. The crazy part was when I get there. It wasn’t like the class was empty. There were at least 20 people there. I went to a 12pm class. There was a 1:30 class after mine. They have class all throughout the day. We are no longer living in a 9-5 world people. Have you driven on the 405 at 2pm? It’s packed! People are out roaming the streets at all hours of the day. The entrepreneur lifestyle is a real thing. And take it from me, it’s fabulous!


Running Away From Home

Who said running away from home is only for kids? When I was in the 4th grade I ran away from home. I only made it one block. At 44 I now have the resources to make it a little further, but guilt and responsibility have kept me put. I was thinking today, as I added up bills, checked plane fare to Cape Town and stared at my passport. What gives us that urge to flee? Like Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride, standing at the alter while her friends made bets on how long it would take her to bolt for the door. What makes some of us suck it up and fight through the hard times while others give up and walk away? And what exactly are you running from? Confucius said “No matter where you go, there you are.” So you can’t run from yourself. If you are the problem, well you are stuck with yourself and the problem. If money is your problem you are still going to be broke. You’ll just be broke in a new location. However, all of these things imply that running away is bad. There are times when running away can be a good thing.

I realized I’ve actually run away a few times. In 2005 I moved to Phoenix. I left my family, my boyfriend and my job and moved to a city where I’d never been and didn’t know a soul.  I loved it. I made friends who I still have to this day. I needed to grow up, leave Los Angeles and have an adventure. In 2007 I moved to Atlanta to live with my brother and start a business. Again, I’d only been once, really knew no one and had no idea what I was getting myself into. And I guess you could say I ran away when I quit the IRS and became an entrepreneur. So for me I haven’t run from I’ve run toward. So for me running away has been a positive experience in the past. Today, however, I feel like I want to run from responsibility. I’m tired of being responsible. I don’t want to pay bills. I’m tired of Chrysler calling me every morning to make an appointment because it’s time to turn in my Jeep. I don’t want to go to Costco. I don’t want to go to Mother’s Day brunch. I want to buy a one way ticket to Cape Town and take an Uber to the airport and never look back. I want to escape my life. I want to move away and become someone new. I want to be that American that lives in the cool flat in De Waterkant and hangs out on Long Street. But instead I went to Coffee Bean and got a caramel Ice Blended and worked on marketing material for SJC and I sat down and wrote this post. 🙂 And I’ll probably go to Costco next week and my cousin will guilt me into going to Mother’s Day brunch and the bills will get paid because whether I like it or not I am a responsible person. And trust me, I don’t like it.

One day I was driving down LaCienega and there was a (crazy) guy walking down the middle of the street. As soon as I passed him he walked behind my car, stopped and started taking off his clothes. He then just kept walking in and out of traffic. All of the cars had to weave in and around him. He just walked without a care in the world. Naked. Down LaCienega. All I could think is, “wow I’d love to be him.”  See, he wasn’t concerned with getting hit. We were all concerned with hitting him. He was fine. We were the ones thinking about car insurance and police reports and being late for work or picking up kids or dinner dates or whatever. Where did he have to be? Nowhere. No cares. No responsibilities. Naked on LaCienega. For a moment I was envious. Then I remembered the whole thing about him being crazy and homeless. But you get my point.

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today”. – Abraham Lincoln

 


5 Simple Steps to Start Living an Extraordinary Life Right Now

The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is a little bit of “extra”….Anthony Robbins

I remember when someone would mention the words “extraordinary life,” the entire thought seemed only for the rich and famous. The idea seemed unreachable and only pertained to the lucky few. My self-talk would be jabbering in my mind saying “as if that’s ever going to happen to someone like me.” What I didn’t understand was that the greatest obstacle I had to overcome wasn’t to suddenly win the lottery, but to actually start showing up to live my life with just a little bit of extra. I finally woke up to the truth and stopped playing the victim card. I began to see that living an extraordinary life could truly be achieved with focusing on the small things in life building one adventure after another. Living an extraordinary life is a matter of mindset that anyone can achieve rather than a status that one has been given. There are many things that you can start doing right now that can take what would be considered an ordinary life into one that is extraordinary.

Here are five simple steps you can immediately put into practice to start living your extraordinary life NOW:

1. Make a list of 100 things to do in 2016: It’s the beginning of the year, so this is the perfect time to create your list. Take out a piece of paper and write down anything and everything that comes to mind. From the littlest things to the most extreme, it all goes on your list. The first few items will be easy because it’s usually how far we’ve allowed ourselves to think, yet give yourself some time to challenge your mind to fill up your list. We so easily get caught up in the routine of our lives that we typically don’t give ourselves permission to dream. The simple act of writing this list stretches your imagination and opens up the possibilities to see your life from a different perspective.

2. Change up your routine: We are creatures of habit and this can lead to staying comfortable, like snuggling up with your favorite pillow. However, when was the last time you went to get your Starbucks coffee and tried a different flavored latte? Have you ever driven to work and suddenly realized you don’t remember making any of the turns, yet shocked yourself to realize you were already in the parking lot? Our life can tend to run on auto-pilot and we spend a large amount of time completely numb to what is happening around us. Therefore, by changing up our typical routine, we begin to become more awake to the experiences of our own life.

3. Learn something new every month or two: When was the last time you did something for the first time? Remember when you were a kid and you had to learn something new all the time? You were nervous, excited, and a little scared when you first tried to ride a bike. Perhaps, you were even quite clumsy and a little embarrassed. But once you did it a few times, you began to get the hang of it and suddenly had a boost in your confidence with a feeling like you could fly. In other words, you were challenged to grow. Your confidence gained a big boost, and suddenly you were ready to conquer the world with your cape. Yet, as adults we tend to not allow ourselves to play and try something new. It’s easy to put things off you’ve always wanted to do saying “I’ll do it when”, but the” when” never comes. Bring out the kid in you again and pick something you’ve always wanted to do. Maybe a painting class or aerial yoga. Once you begin to push yourself just that little bit extra, you quickly grow your comfort zone and feel braver to do even more.

4. Hang around with others that live extraordinary lives: There are always those people that you wonder how they do it. The best way to find out what they do different is to spend a little time with them. See how they think, speak, and act differently. Dreaming Big is contagious and extremely energizing. You will be surprised at how quickly you begin to try some new things and feel more confident in stepping out of your ordinary life. Don’t forget your social media is a great place to hang out with those living extraordinary lives. This is a great way to follow some really inspirational people you might not normally hang out with and begin opening your mind to new ways of thinking.

5. Seize the day: There are opportunities that happen around us daily. Take note on how many times you would really love to do something, but for some reason you find yourself saying no. Many times we say no because we feel we don’t have time or money. Yet sometimes it’s a deeper feeling of not feeling worthy enough to have the experience. And finally, sometimes it is a matter of guilt or feeling we need to sacrifice ourselves for our family. Filling YOUR cup first, allows you to pour more of you into others, rather than only what is leftover. Start saying YES to just one or two things you might have originally said no to and watch your experiences begin to blossom.

The next time you find yourself feeling stuck in an ordinary life; try out at least one of these simple steps to put into place. Just that tiny bit of “extra” goes a long way and before you know it, you’ll be expanding your world and inspiring not only yourself, but those around you to do the same. Extraordinary living is contagious….pass it on.

Source

 


Weight Loss Update: 50lbs Down & Gone!

IMG_20160124_095502It has been a long time since I’ve done an update on my weight loss battle. Primarily because I didn’t have anything to report. At least I didn’t feel like I had anything to report. I was sick of my own battle so maybe I assumed you were also. The struggle is just so exhausting. Both mentally and physically. I was just over it.  But there have been some changes so here’s what’s been going on.

In October of 2014 I decided to go see a weight loss doctor. I figured if I was on trial for murder I wouldn’t represent myself, I’d hire a lawyer. And if I needed my taxes done I wouldn’t do them myself I’d hire SJC Financial Solutions (ha! see what I did there?)  

Anyway. I went to see Dr. Adrienne Youdim who is a weight loss specialist. After an evaluation she helped with a nutrition plan, an activity plan and she prescribed Belviq. The Belviq helped with hunger but was really expensive. Over the next few months I lost about 10lbs but I realized even though I wasn’t hungry I was still eating like crap. I was paying a lot for the pills and lot for the doctor and I hadn’t changed my eating or exercise habits one bit. So I quit all of it. 

About 4 months after I quit my job I decided I was ready to give it another shot. I went back to Dr. Youdim and was horrified, but not surprised to learn I’d gained back all of the weight that I’d lost plus 2lbs. I decided that I didn’t want to go back on the Belviq. She recommended I try Topamax, which is actually a migraine medication that has an appetite suppressant side effect. And the best part, it is a generic medication so it cost about $1.50/mo!  Since that point I’ve never looked back. I’ve lost 46lbs since June 2015, down 50lbs from my highest weight overall.  

I’ve come a long way but I’m still about 30lbs away from my goal. Each day is still a struggle. I  still don’t want to work out. I still don’t want to eat kale. Salmon is boring as hell. The pills don’t change that fact. It is still up to me to get off my butt and do what I need to do to be healthy and lose the weight. I want to reiterate that medical intervention is in no way the solution to the problem, it is simply a tool to help you out a long the way. 

The other day my sister-in-law asked me why is this time different?  I had to really think about it because honestly, I didn’t know.  This is what I’ve come up with:

  1. The Time Is Right – I don’t think there’s anyway I would have been successful at this if I was still working my full-time job. Before I left IRS, I was working in an office over 50 miles from my house. I spent over 4 hours on the freeway some days. With the stress of my job and the commute my eating habits were out of control. Monday – Friday the majority of my meals were consumed in my car. No matter how many lunches and snacks and protein bars I packed fast food was the main staple of my diet.
  2. Vanity – Yes, a girl wants to look good. But on a more serious note. I’m now an entrepreneur. I’ve got a product and a business to sell. And no matter how much we don’t want to admit it, looks sell. I don’t want to be liability to my brand because I’m not an effective spokesperson.
  3. Appetite Suppressant – I felt like I was hungry all the time. My mother used to say that’s how she felt when she was pregnant with me so I guess I’ve been dealing with that issue for a while. One good (not so good) side effect of Topamax is that you lose the ability to taste the carbonation in drinks. So soda, beer, anything “sparkling” tastes flat and really very gross. This helped me kill my love of coca cola very quickly. It literally tastes like you are drinking the syrup. But damn I miss it!
  4. Travel – And of course it always comes back around to my love of travel! My cousin Melina and I have this constant debate with her sister Tammy about why we can’t fit 2 weeks worth of clothes in a carry-on. We keep trying to explain to her that our clothes are bigger than hers! I don’t ever think that I’ll get to that point, but I did want to be able to go on a trip where my wardrobe didn’t consist of 10 pairs of black pants and matching black cardigan sweaters. I also got really tired of my ass and thighs spilling over into the seat next to me on the plane. And getting really annoyed once I fastened my seat belt and realized that there wasn’t very much extra seat belt left to tighten. That probably goes back to #2.

I think I still have a long way to go. Not necessarily in terms of weight loss but in terms of being completely happy and confident with my body. I’m getting there little by little, slowly every day. I’m a work in progress. But I am finally at a point where I’m ready to say that I’m proud of the progress that I have made and I want to share that success with you. Thanks for going on this journey with me! 


Regrets: How many of us have them?

I often hear people say that they live life with no regrets. Good for them. I have lots of regrets well maybe not regrets but things I wish I’d done differently. Not big things, but little changes I would have made early on in my adult life that probably would have made things a LOT easier right about now. But that’s a different post for a different day. But there is one thing that I know – I am in a position to implement a change in my life. And that’s what I’m doing. So if I have any regrets after this social experiment that I’m calling a life is over, then I only have myself to blame. True, I don’t have a time machine and there are some things that I can’t specifically change, but those are things I don’t regret. We all make mistakes, and those mistakes are just part of the learning curve of life.

I read this article last year and ran across it again today Those Top 37 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old. The first item on the list is Not Traveling When You Had the Chance. Now you should all know by now I’m obsessed with travel. So it isn’t really a regret of mine I do wish I’d done more international travel when I was younger and had less debt, but I’m making up for that. But as I read through the list I realized that most of the items on the list are in line with what Lifestyle by Design is all about – looking at those choices that you’ve made in your life that you aren’t happy with and changing them. And most importantly, making yourself a priority. It is never too late to make even the smallest change in your life to bring you happiness and contentment. Life is too short to be unhappy. There are so many things in this world that we cannot change, why live with bad decisions that you can change? The first step is to look at that thing in your life that you want to change and ask yourself “what is the worst thing that will happen if I make this change?” Then ask yourself “how will my life be better or enriched if I make this change?”  Once you do that you will often find that the worst thing may be bad or scary, but the good thing will be so much better!

There are many items on this list that I have done in my life and therefore I don’t regret, so out of the 37 items on the list, these are my Top 10 Regrets (That I CAN and WILL change!)

  1. Being scared to do things
  2. Failing to make physical fitness a priority
  3. Supporting others’ dreams over your own
  4. Not volunteering enough
  5. Failing to finish what you start
  6. Not taking the time to develop contacts and network
  7. Not being grateful sooner
  8. Not stopping enough to appreciate the moment
  9. Not learning another language
  10. Caring too much what other people think

I believe the only regrets that we will truly have are those decisions that we feel were taken out of our hands; those decisions that you made based on someone else’s idea of what was best for you. If you leave this earth knowing that the life that you lived was 100% designed by you, how can you have regrets?


What's the big deal with marriage?

I have been thinking a lot about marriage recently. Not because I want to get married. But because I really don’t want to get married. And the more people ask me when me and my boyfriend of 17+ years are going to get married the more I dig my heels in. I will admit my feelings about marriage vary from day to day. I had great marriage role models growing up. My parents had a great marriage for 41 years. My aunts, uncles and various cousins have all been married for 20-40 years. I’ve seen beautiful, healthy, successful marriages. So I know that they do exist. But for me, for some reason, I have a real problem with losing my identity and my independence. Now, I do believe that my feelings could have a lot to do with my age. If I’d gotten married at 25 I would probably feel a lot differently than I feel at 43. Maybe.

I love Tony. We’ve been together for 17 years. Literally since the day we met. We’ve never been apart. I know that we will get married eventually. Even though I don’t really think we need to. I know that it is one of those conventional things that society demands and it validates your relationship to the world. But legally it isn’t necessary. In this day and age we can sign legal documents binding ourselves to one another without a marriage license. If we were having kids it would be a different story but this factory is closed so that ain’t happening. Tony and I have these arguments all the time about me changing my name when we get married. I keep telling him I’m not going to do it. He keeps telling me it’s non-negotiable. Then I tell him everything is negotiable and he’s not the one who would have to fill out all the paperwork and stand in line at DMV and Social Security and he should have married me when I was 26 and had less stuff in my name. But again at 43 it is a different story and he is out of luck. 

I don’t know why, but for me marriage represents a loss of identity and autonomy. These feelings are not really valid because I do discuss things with Tony. We talk about everything, all the time. However, knowing that we aren’t married, at the end of the day, I know that I have the freedom to do what I want to do. I like being a couple. I like being part of a team. But I also like being me. And I hate paperwork! I’m probably just selfish.

تتطلب عرض الشرائح هذه للجافا سكريبت.

I assume that there are plenty of women that are married who are able to maintain a sense of self while being married. At least I hope so. And I’m sure that I will fall into that category. At least I hope so. Listening to the arguments against gay marriage over the last few years just made clear that there are many aspects traditional marriage that are antiquated. While marriage was originally rooted in religion, that is no longer the case. In fact, marriage is a civil union, not a religious one. Although you might get married in a religious ceremony, you cannot legally be married without marriage license from a county official (right Kim Davis?). Also, women no longer need to be married for financial stability. Our daddy’s don’t need to marry us off so we can be taken care of. Although I’m sure my dad would appreciate this. Okay, so I’m leaving out the love factor. The wanting to share the rest of your life with someone, wake up with someone, grow old and have babies with someone factor. Yeah I know. There’s all that too.  But we all know if that’s all there was too it divorce attorney’s wouldn’t be so rich. I’m not a cynic. Well maybe I am a little. But I think I’m more of a non-conformist. I don’t want to conform to society’s view of what they say a “wife” should be. That’s all. Live with it.

As I write this post I’m sitting in Coffee Bean eavesdropping on a conversation between two women “of a certain age”. The women clearly don’t know each other as they are asking “getting to know you questions”. During the conversation the women are talking about their lives, families, activities, etc. I’m going to name them Mary and Julia (Sugarbaker) because I wasn’t here for introductions. And Julia is obviously from deep, deep in Georgia. Julia is talking about how much she loves working. So Mary says to Julia, “oh, what do you do for a living?” And Julia says (in that accent), “well I help my husband with his business. He works so hard so I help him as much as I can. I just do whatever I can to make life easier for him.” So I’m thinking to myself, “Really? This is your job? Helping your husband? You can’t even articulate what it is you do?” It’s fine if you work with your husband but at least be able to say what the hell your contribution to the company is, especially since you love it so much. Now I know I’m being hard on her based on my own biases and obviously I have no idea who she is or what she does for a living. For all I know she ran a Fortune 500 company for 20 years and turned it over to her husband last year. But I don’t think so.

So before I could finish this post someone new sat next to me. She sat next to me for about an hour. She talked on the phone the whole time. To the catering manager a hotel. Planning her wedding….


7 WAYS TO OVERCOME FEAR AND LIVE YOUR DREAMS

I’ve realized that as you start to become more self-aware you also become more aware of those around you. And during that process you notice that people are for lack of a better word, sad. You notice people going through lots of motions and creating lots of drama and buying lots of stuff to keep from getting to the heart of the matter – they aren’t happy. The majority of the time this lack of happiness stems from one source, not being true to yourself. People often make life decisions for a variety of reasons, and we’ve all done it. “My mom wanted to be a dancer and couldn’t, so I’m a dancer.” “There are 3 generations of lawyers in my family so I have to be a lawyer.” Some people make these choices and are completely fine with their decisions and live truly happy lives. But for others, life can be a constant battle between what is and what could have been. Some people are in constant rivalry with friends and family that don’t even know they are in competition.  I believe that it is never too late to be happy and live the life of your dreams. I’m not saying that at 50 you can become a prima ballerina, but you can classes and immerse yourself in all things ballet. You can do whatever you want! Don’t let fear of the unknown or fear of what others might say get in your way. It’s your life! Live it the way YOU want to.

 7 WAYS TO OVERCOME FEAR AND LIVE YOUR DREAMS

Anais Nin once wrote, “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage”. If you’re longing to expand your life by going after your dreams, here are 7 ways to overcome fear which may be keeping you stuck.

  1. Shine the light on your fear. – Pinpoint the fear that’s plaguing you the most — about your body, finances, love life, career, dreams or yourself — and hold it up to the light of your awareness. Ask yourself honestly: Is this thought really true? Can I know for sure? Is there another way of looking at this? What would the highest version of me say about this? Remember, the word thought is not synonymous with the word truth. Your thoughts are not necessarily true or important and you don’t have to take them so seriously. Think of them like passing clouds in the sky — they come and they go. Your true self is the ever-present observer who watches your fear-based thoughts as they pass by.
  1. Reframe fear as excitement. – To your body and nervous system, fear and excitement are almost indistinguishable. So feel your fear as excitement running up and down your body. The most successful people in the world don’t feel fear less than everyone else — they just don’t interpret fear as a stop sign. They feel the fear and proceed anyway, because they want their dream life more than they want to avoid the feeling of fear.
  1. Use a mantra. – The phrase “this too shall pass” is a great mantra to use whenever you feel fear rising in your body making you hesitant to take action. It can help you remember that fear is a natural and temporary response in your body which rises and falls away like a wave in the ocean. When you realize it will pass, you don’t have to feel so afraid of experiencing it anymore. Of course you’re probably going to feel fear in a new situation or when you’re taking a chance on a dream or goal — that’s okay. Use the mantra to center yourself and move forward anyway.
  1. Remember the bigger picture. – Fear feels uncomfortable but in most cases, it won’t really harm you — but attempting to avoid the experience of fear will — because you are robbing yourself of the chance to experience the deep satisfaction which comes with listening to your heart and soul and creating a better life full of passion and purpose. Check in with your future self. How will you feel a year from now if you don’t take action towards your dreams? How about five or ten years from now? Remembering the bigger vision for your precious life can help you step out of your comfort zone and into the unknown.
  1. Take bold opposing action. – One of the quickest and most effective ways to overcome fear is to take one single bold step forward in the direction of your dreams, to prove to yourself that you are willing to do what it takes. It doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. Sending one email, making one phone call, pitching one idea or writing one page can be the catalyst you need to spark massive change in your life.
  1. Write a gains list. – Our minds are often wired to focus on the ‘cons’ of our actions instead of the potential ‘pros’ or gains. To help counteract this negativity bias, write a list of all the things you stand to gain if you go after your goal or dream — like feelings of satisfaction and fulfillment, self-growth, being of service to the world, and being an inspiration to others.
  1. Anchor in the present moment. – The feeling of fear in our body is often triggered by thoughts in our mind — we are worrying about what may happen in the future, or we are creating our own negative stories about something that happened in the past — when nothing is actually threatening or disturbing us in the present moment. You can take your focus away from your thoughts by switching your focus to what is going on in the present moment. Pay attention to the sounds, sights and smells around you. Feel the energy in your hands and feet. Notice the sensation of the air on your skin or the clothing against your body. Take a few deep breaths in and out.

You should immediately experience a sense of relief, relaxation and growing inner peace. You can use the present moment as a safe haven all throughout the day, whenever your mind is triggering fear.

Source