Sunday, August 19, 2018

Necessary Leavings

Talking on the phone with a close friend the other night, something she said caught my attention and held it.  We were discussing a friend of hers who had remained in what was a toxic work position for years, hating every minute of it, while her reason for staying was "I was scared I wouldn't find anything better."

This particular remark struck a chord inside of me, as its one I have heard time and time again, from friends, family members, acquaintances, romantic partners.  The premise being this: I am not necessarily so happy or satisfied with a situation in my life as it currently stands, however, I am going to stick in/with it because I am too afraid of the unknown and taking a chance to seek something better for me.  I prefer what is "known," even when not especially satisfying or good, to the unknown, (which has a high likelihood-especially if one chooses carefully, of actually being better).  (And folks, newsflash, even if the next situation isnt better and somehow, major bummer, the next thing also isnt so great?  Let that one go as well and move on.  Sometimes, frequently even, we have to search through a few trial and errors before striking gold).

Why do so many people (I have certainly done this too) stay in situations, whether it be a job, a romantic relationship, a friendship, or some other life situation, that is either: barely satisfactory, or even downright bad/toxic/negative, for fear of letting it go and seeking out better?



Curious about this, having heard this theme come up in the lives around me time and time again, I did some research.  Turns out (though this isnt exactly a newsflash) that as humans, we are hardwired to hate uncertainty.  However this is where it gets interesting.  Apparently, a recent study found that we even hate uncertainty more than knowing for sure that something bad is going to happen. We prefer knowing something bad is to come, as opposed to not knowing at all.  How interesting is that!?  Hence, why people stay in the mediocre to even shitty known, to avoid the seeming vastness and gray of the anxiety provoking unknown.

Pretty fascinating.  Some doubters might be raising their eyebrows challenging, "wait, so youre telling me its more stressful to wonder if youre going to be fired than being relatively certain of it?  Or, that its more stressful to be rushing to the meeting and not sure you will make it on time, as opposed to knowing for sure that you are actually going to miss it and thus, get in trouble?"

Yes.  Thats exactly what I am saying (or really, research does).



So.  There is a part of your brain responsible for dopamine output called the striatum, which releases dopamine like something akin to a geyser at particular moments in our daily lives.  When you experience something pleasurable, eating a slice of cake, being hugged, sex, the list goes on, dopamine is released.  This feels good and thus, motivates us toward doing more of these activities.  Interestingly, the striatum also works with regards to negative input or stimulation.  Propelling us away from punishment or negative consequences.  Additionally, to go a step further, the striatum also weighs, a mathematical calculation of the subconscious, what are the likelihoods of either these positive rewards/sensations, versus the negative consequences or punishment of occurring.  

This alarm system weighing the likelihood of which side is more likely to prevail, if you will, alerts most resoundingly when the odds approach something around 50/50.  This makes sense with regards to say, animals in survival mode.  They need to be ready to go, on their toes, and action oriented when outcomes are least predictable.  And when results are uncertain, up in the air, this pushes us more fully towards action.  With how it will all play out being a toss up.  This also results in the most stress.  

We like to be able to anticipate what the consequences, positive or negative, will be.  When we cannot be sure, this freaks us out big time.

And to add a top layer to the cake, we usually imagine the worst.



Whats interesting though, despite our terror and anxiety over uncertainty and our attempts to control it by remaining "safe" within "what we know," is that actually, all of life is uncertain.  Sure, we can try and predict how something may turn out.  Sometimes we are right.  Much of the time, we are flat out wrong and the result is any of a plethora of other conclusions and/or possibilities that existed beyond the realm of our consideration.  The point being, as much as we want (and try) to control how our lives turn out by avoiding uncertainty and the unknown, we tend to forget that life is one big unknown, one giant uncertainty, and that ultimately, we have no idea how its going to unfold or play out.  And that a vast majority of the time, things end up playing out in ways opposite or contrary to what we might have imagined or assumed.

Further, our culture is one that views "having control" as a virtue and something worthy of much admiration.  Congratulating ourselves when we feel we are doing a good job of "remaining in control," as well as looking up to others who seemingly control their personal circumstances to a high degree.  However, this is an illusion.  No one truly controls their lives to anything beyond a minimal degree.  There are too many wild card variables beyond our control, including: all the other people surrounding us, traffic, weather, accidents, surprises, sudden life changes, losing a job or being offered one, deaths and births, opportunities popping up where we hadn't anticipated them.  The list goes on.



Our control is minimal.  To a large degree, we can control both, our own feelings/thoughts/mindsets, as well as our own behavioral responses.  Thats about it though for things in our life we have true personal control over.  (And even that is subject to the variance and fluctuations of human instinct as well as the hundreds of nuanced layers to each human person, which are nearly endless, fluid, and ever shifting and changing).

So.  The fact that we ever truly have control is a fallacy.  Thats been debunked by plethora's of Buddhist thought processes and values, free thinking, and philophisizing people for hundreds of years.

-----------

Why then do we attempt to control our lives by staying in situations, whether a job, romantic relationship, friendship, or other life situation, that are either: 
1. merely mediocre
2. flat out not good for us/toxic/damaging either emotionally or physically 
3. long past their expiration date/something we have outgrown or moved beyond and that if we were to let go and seek something other, would likely be far happier, 

When actually, doing this contributes strongly and directly to our leading lives that are far less happy, satisfying, fulfilling, or healthy as they could be otherwise?

Why do we let this intense fear and distress over the "unknown" keep us locked into life situations that are certainly not stimulating growth, that might be lame, barely satisfactory, or even outright shitty, when we could be doing similar or even totally other things which will make us far happier and will be vastly improved situations, if we just found the guts, motivation, and initiative to take the risk and let go of that known to venture out towards seeking something better suited to us?




In life, each of us, and at many times, will come upon crossroads that necessitate a necessary leaving.

Some of us admit and face this fact, even though its scary and can entail heartbreak and pain, as well as anxiety over the coming change and initial unknown.  A majority of people though turn away from this.  Invent all sorts of reasons why staying in the same dead end situation is better.
"Easier," "shared history," "I know what to expect," "well, some of it is still good," "I feel guilty leaving," "I dont want to hurt someone else," "its too difficult."

In the end, all of these excuses are the same, which is their ultimately keeping you locked into a situation that isnt to the best potential for your life path and which keep you stuck in the same rut which its likely you would be happier and healthier on moving out of.



-----------

What we know, innately, as human beings- in the deepest, most instinctual part of our souls is this: that choice is one of the most powerful things we have going for us.  And thats the very reason we are so terrified of making them.  Terrified of the consequence.  Terrified of being held accountable.  Terrified of not knowing what lies down the path ahead.  Again, we would apparently rather stay in something mediocre, or even shitty, in order to avoid the unknown and new.  

What we forget though is that allowing ourselves to fall victim to this fear and live our lives by it?  And that avoiding risk, and change, and unknown in order to feel "more comfortable" and less afraid?  This leads to a significantly less rich life, with far less possibility, novelty, growth, and from living a life of all the awesomeness it could be.  It leads to settling.  It leads to regret.  When allowing our fears to dictate our choices, this shortchanges us.  Big time.

So often, we refuse to let our hearts and our minds talk to each other- because if we did, we would have to do something.

-------------

Necessary leavings come up frequently in life.  Yet, so often, we view endings and leavings as failures.  As something to fear.  As unnatural or bad.  Endings are nothing of the sort.

Endings, when they come naturally, are a necessary and vital aspect of life.  Everything in life has cycles that entail beginning, growth, and conclusion/ending.  This includes jobs, relationships, projects, life phases, and more.  Seasons change.  Animals procreate, grow up, elder, and then die.  There is a time for growth and flourishing, and a time for letting go in order to move forward.

Endings are necessary in order to make way for better things to come.  Leavings can be crucial to allow space for something thats a better fit for us at that time to come along.  A conclusion is often a springboard into further growth and a new chapter.  Endings, when the time is right, are breaths of fresh air.  Doors flung open of possibility.  An important and sensical life shift, a step up to the next phase into which we are meant to enter.  An ending can be the wrap up to an important, crucial life lesson.  It can be a dawning realization and epiphany of a new life direction/path, value, or priority.




----------

How can I assess if its likely time for an ending or leaving?  A few questions to ask yourself:

----If this situation stayed exactly the same as it is now, exactly the same in every way, am I totally ok with that and will I be happy with this 1 year from now?  Three years from now?  Five years from now?  Assuming that absolutely nothing about this situation or relationship will change.  If not...you may have a compelling and potentially telling answer indicating a possible forthcoming necessary ending or leaving.

----If this is a relationship or person you are dealing with (colleague, family member, close friend, romantic partner), are they open to feedback?  Do they show any indication or self awareness of ways they may have been acting in hurtful or wrong ways?  Do they show a sense of personal responsibility?  After receiving feedback/constructive criticism, do you see any sort of change in their behavior?  
If the answers to these questions are mostly no, you are looking at a situation unlikely to change.  And thus, a potentially necessary ending might be in the works somewhere down the road.  However, if the answer to at least 3 of these questions is basically a yes(especially the last one), you have a situation that may warrant some hope and further sticking with it a bit longer to see what happens.

----Is staying within this situation/relationship/life habit/way of thinking/job, whatever it may be, going to cause me to lose something else from my life that is deeply meaningful and important to me?  That brings me much joy and fulfillment?  That adds much to my life?  
If so, it might be worth reconsidering this said situation/relationship/habit/job that is threatening something else important, and just how worth keeping it in your life might be if you were to lose said deeply meaningful/valuable other thing in your life.  Is it truly worth the cost?  If not, it might indicate this is time for a necessary leaving/moving on from the situation/relationship/habit/job that doesnt threaten something else immensely meaningful in your life.

----Does this relationship/job/situation cause me a medium to significant degree of stress/anxiety/take a toll on my health/cause me emotional strife?
If the answer is yes, whether you claim to potentially even like it and/or find some good in it or not, this is a strong indicator that it might be worth examining closely and considering a potentially necessary leaving and thus, change to something that doesnt cause a significant degree of stress/anxiety/take a toll on your health or cause you emotional strife.  Good things in our lives do not generally do that.  At least not very often, they shouldn't.



---------------

And lastly, for those struggling with the idea of the "unknown," with the anxiety and fear of taking a huge risk and moving towards something brand new, here are two mindsets that can significantly help toward feeling bravery in the face of a necessary leaving:

1. Decide what you believe about life.  

Are you here to prove something and merely survive, going along and existing day to day, paying your dues?  Or, are you here on earth to connect with others, to adventure, grow, and live your most awesome life imaginable?  It cannot be both.

This journey is either a test designed to lead to wild success or crushing failure (very black and white thinking, as well as basing your life fulfillment and success on a misguided societal standard), or, this journey is a safe process, one in which the universe is on your side, and is there to help you grow to your upmost potential.  If you choose to listen carefully to what its telling and showing you along the way.  (Even when its scary and entails risk and unknown ;-)).



I believe life is an awesome journey, a wild and incredible ride, and a thrilling story, filled with twists, turns, exhilarating hills, and some stomach flipping plummets.  I believe that the universe doesnt make mistakes.  That everything that happens to each person is exactly the thing meant to be happening to them in that moment.  That either good, or whether perceived as something "bad," all of it is exactly what is meant to be happening in order to teach you a vital lesson, challenge you in a pivotal way, show you what you dont want, or lead you in a specific direction.  That if you choose to pay attention and follow the path of growth beckoning you (and sadly, many people do not do this), that you can and will have an amazing life.

I believe that life is one gigantic experiment.  And that in our brief flash of time on earth (which goes quick.  Damn, I feel like I just blinked and looked up to see 1/3 of my life has already gone by.  Now thats alarming and sobering), we should make as many experiments as possible.  Each one serving towards steppingstones of growth making up the whole of who we are meant to become.



2. Choose to believe there is a net thats got your back if you fall.  

Sometimes life can feel like walking across a tightrope.  At times, it feels risky, dangerous, anxiety provoking, precarious.  It actually isnt.  Sit for a minute and imagine all the times you were afraid to do something, to make a decision, to take a leap.  Consider all the things you were terrified of happening.  All the worst case scenarios you imagined.  All the big, awful things you worried were going to happen.  Picturing, in your anxiety, all your worst fears coming to life.  Pivotal question here... How many of them actually happened?

How many of these imagined awful scenarios or worst fears came to pass and be?  Probably almost none of them.

So you see?  The vast majority of the time, none of these things we are so terrified of coming to pass (when faced with the unknown) ever actually come to pass or actualize.

Sometimes, life can feel stressful and scary in these big moments of unknown.  Especially when facing a necessary leaving or ending.  This venturing out into something different, new, and blurry can feel terrifying.  Remember this though: there is a net.  The universe has your back.



----------

All of life is an experiment, as well as one big classroom.  The point of which is for you to follow along the path of growth, personal experiments, and taking as many opportunities and risks as you can, while you have the chance and are here.  However, we cannot do this by remaining in situations (job, relationship, life habit, way of thinking) that no longer serve us, that hold us back, that hinder our growth, or even that harm us.

In order to live our most awesome life, we need to learn the art of necessary leavings.  To be able to face, with bravery and honesty, when a phase or situation in our life has come (or needs to come) to a close.  And then, to walk courageously through the doorway of that necessary leaving and into the light of something new.




Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Shocking Secret to being Sexier

First off, (before revealing the shocking secret to being sexier), I want to state the disclaimer: I do not think women or men should be nearly as concerned and consumed with this as they are (making sure other see them as "sexy").  Our culture has become one obsessed with our appearance, ever chasing after approval, to be desired, and thought of as "hot."  Many of us on a near perpetual path of rollercoaster esque dieting.  Throughout much of our culture, narcissism abound.  People ever hungering for the stamp of approval or the affirmation that they are in fact, attractive, desired, admired, or "sexy."

I'm sorry to say, this does not actually lead to a fulfilled or ultimately happy life.  Both philosophy and scientific studies prove it, time and time again. 

When you base your opinion of yourself on responses from others, you will be on a perpetual path of up-and-down, this-way-and-that.  When you chase after, obsess over, hunger for, and feast on the compliments and praises of others, sure, sometimes you will feel great, then just as often, you will feel disappointed, sad, let down, and left hungering for more.



There are far more fulfilling, affirming, as well as just generally more important things to focus on and prioritize.  I am not advocating one shouldn't care about how they look and feel at all.  Of course, we all wish to look and feel our best, and that's a valid thing.  However, there is such a wide berth of far more satisfying life values and priorities out there that, to have a truly joyous and satisfying life, one can and should focus on.  These can include some of the following (though there is much more beyond just this list, of course):

--Finding a personal passion, whether it be building things, creating some kind of art, helping people in one way or another, caring for and helping animals, lifting up those in need, adventuring the world, mastering a hobby -anything from cooking to gardening, writing, painting, stand up comedy, you name it.  And once you find it, sprinting after this very passion which sets your heart alight.

--Being a supportive, uplifting presence, joy, and worthwhile connection in others lives.  Its hard to really invest in or focus on this when consumed with perfecting yourself and garnering perpetual feedback with regards to you/your looks/how attractive or awesome you are.

--Learning as much as you possibly can, via books, articles, classes, life experiences, other people, and continually pursuing personal self growth.

--Finding a job you love, and then reveling in the work.

--Adventuring the world and experiencing differing cultures, ideologies, and ways of life.

The list goes on.  The point being though: there are so many far more important, and much more fulfilling things to focus on rather than how "sexy" you are.

However.  With that said.

Want to know the shocking secret to being sexier in general?  And when I use the word "sexy," I am not referring to looks alone.  In fact, I am referring more along the lines of sexiness being 25% what you've got and 75% what you think you've got (because sexiness isn't just a way of looking/being, its also an energy, aura, and inner feeling.  Surely you have all experienced the phenomenon of meeting someone who wasn't particularly physically beautiful but who you noticed on getting to know, was actually incredibly sexy.  As well as, meeting someone who was physically breathtaking/quite attractive but then on getting to know them, realizing that in fact, they are actually unattractive and/or lackluster).

That aside.  To be significantly sexier...here it is folks...

Cover up more.  Induce a sense of mystery.  Show some modesty.  Exude a sense of class and personal discretion.  Carry yourself in such a way that people long to both know and see more.

Those are several secrets to coming across to others, as well as actually being, incredibly sexy.

Doubtful?  Convinced that in order to get the most attention, you have to let it all hang out (both literally and figuratively) like everyone else does?  Hold on. 

Let me explain why these very behaviors and values (covering up more, mystery, modesty, class, discretion) are actually incredibly hot to way more people than you think, and why they also hold peoples attention much more. 

I offer both opinions on such, as well as researched data to back up this point.

We are currently living in a saturation of soft to medium core porn, almost everywhere we look.  Advertisements, laden with blatantly sexy and often times near pornographic images.  Further, these images are edited and doctored to such a degree that many people come to believe that this is how one can and thus, should look in order to be considered an attractive human being.  Over time, continually viewing these kinds of images can alter and skew ones perception in a negative way of what it means to be attractive, as well as unrealistically influence standards of beauty by which they use to measure both themselves and others (a la, false and unrealistic ones).  Most of these images also tend to look largely the same.  Thus, our belief of what is sexy tends to become a rather narrow one.

Clothing has gotten skimpier, smaller, more revealing, and pornographic as well.  Especially during summer time, one can observe a streaming parade of what appear to be people selling sex, walking down the street daily.  Women's breasts all, but exploding out of their tops.  Butt cheeks jiggling out the bottom of their shorts.  Half their torsos on display.  Dress hems barely brushing crotch level.



On Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms, we are met with a continual chain of self endorsing, narcessitic, compliment eliciting material and photos.  Selfies abound.  Duck lipped, scantily clad selfies posed just so.  People made up to attempted perfection, seeking (though pretending they aren't) validation, compliments, and approval left and right.  Everyone, it seems, on a staunch search for loads of "likes" in order to know and believe they are "sexy enough."  Lots and lots of focus on and concern with oneself and ones image nowadays.



Further, people broadcasting all manner of their personal lives to plethoras of strangers online, daily, even hourly.  Posting on their Facebook newsfeed or Twitter accounts, remarks about their latest breakup, their most recent medical exam or scare, their current struggles with depression, a continual outpouring of baby photos in every manner of pose (though most tend to look largely the same), where they are currently eating or drinking a coffee at that moment.  We all seem to feel compelled to shout to the world, our feelings from minute to minute, our emotions as they ebb and flow, our latest dramas, and most mundane activities.  A continual contest for who can out-shout one another, who can most shock, and who is able to gain the most attention and thus, validation.




Ex bashings.  Dick pics.  Provocative selfies, as well as a majority of people venturing out into the world half to nearly naked on a regular basis nowadays too.  Constant updates online of our whereabouts and feelings minute to minute.

All of this has become strangely....boring.

It used to be that highly sexualized images were scandalous.  Infrequent.  Rare.  Hidden away or banned.  They were things people had to seek out and then hide.  This, lending these images a sense of forbidden excitement and allure.  Now?  They are EVERYWHERE, and so easily accessible, there is no challenge nor nothing titillating about stumbling on such any longer.

It used to be that cleavage or the shape of someone's body through their clothing was alluring.  Not the norm.  Instead, reserved for occasions or infrequent moments.  A tool and behavior used sporadically to entice and excite.  Now, we all let it hang out, all the time, constantly.  Now, any man can simply walk down the street and is likely see several asses hanging out of pants, nipples through shirts, boobs exploding out of tops, crotches on near display.  And while sure, this is pornographic and sexually stimulating for several albeit usually brief moments, it doesn't hold anyone's attention for long.  There are loads more boobs and butts just around the next corner.  Thus, none of it is special, rare, or thus, truly compelling.



The types of dress below?  Never do you see anything like this anymore.  And in the rare moments you do?  Its majorly head turning, awe inducing, and memorable.  These are the types of looks that capture attention, and hold it.







It used to be that to find out about a person, you had to actually spend time with them.  Spend hours on hours talking with them, as well as partaking in activities and experiences with them.  Potentially also hearing/learning things about them through friends of friends.  Maybe even sending each other written notes over a period of time.  Now?  Just Google someone, or better yet, look at their Twitter or Facebook.  You can likely see it all, right there.  What they had for breakfast that morning, their latest medial emergency, a montage of photos including all their exes, reports of their emotions moment to moment. 

This is incredibly anticlimactic, and lacking any allure or mystery.  It robs people of the exciting, anticipation laden experience, and exploration of getting to know one another over time.  Of that slow though thrilling unfolding, growth, and discovery.  Further, who people claim to be on social media often isn't even the real them.  Therefore, this can also sometimes lead to people garnering misperceptions of each other at that.



It used to be that you saw someone naked on being intimate with them.  Now?  You can see a vast majority of people half naked, nearly naked, overtly sexual in just walking past them on the street!  Talk about killing a sense of suspense, flirtation, allure, and climax.  As well as cheapening and reduce the value of such.  Now you can see nearly naked people everywhere you go, just out and about on the streets.  This tends towards making their nakedness far less interesting, less sacred, less special, less something to be prized and more, a cheap, easy to access thing.



Guys who send "dick pics" or girls who send nude photos to men whom they hardly know?  Same thing.  Giving it all away, right away, with no build up, no sense of earning such, no sense of treasuring nor guarding oneself, no sense of anticipation or tension allowed to occur.  This kills the anticipation, the fun, the flirtation and suspense. 

(Also, its an interesting aside that when a girl sends a nude photo, she is often called a "slut" for doing such, especially later on if her relationship turns sour with the man to whom she sent said photo.  And yet, when a man sends a nude photo of his penis, especially unsolicited, this is laughed off and dismissed.  When actually, its a form of harassment.  Imagine if a man just dropped his pants in front of a woman on the street?  That would be considered a crime, an outrage.  Yet, when he does this very thing via a cell phone, its laughed off, minimized).

We have come to be so saturated in nakedness and overt sexualization of everything, a loud and unabashed telling-it-all, a "look at me, look at me" culture, laden with narcissistic and show off-y sense of selves, that frankly, this has all become kind of run of the mill, lame, expected, and thus, no longer attention grabbing.  At this point, its on the contrary.

Why?

Because...

People want what they cannot have.

They are enticed by that which we cannot see, or do not know.

People are allured by mystery.

We value, far more, that which is challenging to obtain, or not easily accessed.  As opposed to things that require no effort whatsoever to get, these come across as cheap and of far less value.

People are drawn to and intrigued by what they cannot fully see.

We love suspense, mystery, and hunger more deeply for that which is just out of reach.

And while often times, we are hungering and feel urgent towards having what we so desperately desire right then, the slow burn and aching of want, the tension and build up, is actually far more delicious and fun when reflected upon.

When things are completely out in the open...with zero mystery...all laid out on the table for the taking...obvious and overt...in your face...uniform and all the same...this is boring, its not exciting, it doesn't hold our attention longer than a few seconds, before we move on to the next thing.

Our attention is held by challenge.  By things we have to work for.  By what we have to figure out and ponder.  By a slow build.  A mystery that reveals itself over time.  That which we have to discover. 



When we see something we find enticing or attractive but part of it is hidden from us, we are desperate to see and gain access to the rest.  This is why people love mysteries, high drama, and suspense.  This is why we love TV series that leave us hanging and on the edge of our seats each week, wondering what is coming next, how the following episode will unfold, what might we find out about said character coming up.



However, when we see something we find interesting or attractive and all of it is laid out, readily available right off the bat, with zero mystery or anything left to wonder about/discover, well then, what's the draw?  Its already known, already experienced, already had.  And as a result, its meh.  Sure, it might briefly arouse for a fleeting moment in imagining the momentarily pleasure it will bring on experiencing, but then we move on to something more exciting.  In search of what will actually hold our attention for longer.  Something that engages and challenges us more.



Imagine prior to going to see a movie, or reading a book, someone just tells you "eh, this happens, this happens, and this is how it ends."  (Yes, I am absolutely guilty of having committed this very crime to friends.  But no more.  Its a majorly a**hole move, ruining the ending for people, I came to realize).  Your interest in seeing the movie or reading the book is likely to plummet.  You already know the ending.  You've seen it all, so to speak.  You've "gotten the goods," if you will.  You already know how it all unfolds.  Nothing left to anticipate while reading or watching, nothing left to uncover or discover, nothing left to entice.

Finally, we respect and gaze higher on things (aka, people included) who clearly value themselves.  Hold themselves in high regard.  Who are challenging to obtain or get close to.  Who do not give away their hearts, their attention, their trust, or their bodies, easily or to just anyone.  Think about it...everyone wants the attention of the person whose very focus it is difficult to capture.  That makes it feel far more exciting and worthwhile, when and if you do garner that persons attentions and affection.  We feel more honored on receiving the attention, love, trust, or body of someone who rarely gives away such.  Who does so only with much consideration, hesitation, and after they feel the other person has truly earned it.  This is thrilling, to be one of the people who earns this, from one of these highly discerning people.



However, when someone claims to be BFFs with everyone, they sleep with someone at the drop of a hat, dress in such a way that you basically already know what they look like naked, broadcast all their news (big and small, personal or not) to strangers and close confidants alike...this doesn't feel valuable when one of these people decides they want to be friends with you, or sleep with you, or confide in you, or share their body with you.  Because they do it with everyone, its no longer special.  This, it feels cheap and not in the least bit special, because they offer such to everyone and their brother.



The shocking secret to being sexier, by leaps and bounds, than our greater culture at large behaves or seems to think at the moment?

Be one of the rare few who covers up (and no, this does not mean having to cover oneself from head to toe, as though one were a nun or priest.  I am merely referring to more modest allure.  Choosing to give more subtle yet still sexy hints of your body instead of letting it all spill out every which way).
Invite the people who find you attractive toward yearning to see what is underneath (because they cannot already see it all hanging out-thus, they don't know what lies underneath). 

Check out who says this quote.  One of the most well known and admired women in fashion, ever.


Keep personal things private, reserved for those truly close to you.  Require that someone spend a lot of time with and really get to know you before you give up those kinds of treasures about yourself and heart to them.  Guard your heart, body, trust, and life details, only revealing and sharing such with those small few who actually earn your access to such over time.  Be discerning.  Leave something to the imagination.  Invite a sense of mystery, allure, and therefore, a sense of discovery waiting in someone growing acquainted with and getting to know you.  Choose to obtain and exude a sense of modesty and class.  Carry yourself in a way that shows you prize and treasure yourself.





This my friends, believe it or not, is way hotter than the current norms of falling out of our clothes every which way, everyone's private parts exploding out, so many of us desperate for attention and to garner the greatest shock value, shouting all their personal details to the rooftops, giving oneself away (whether physically or emotionally) at the drop of a hat.  Holding back is hotter.  Subtlety is sexy.  Mystery is alluring, inviting, intriguing, and incredibly attractive.  This garners true respect, admiration, and interest.  It holds peoples attention, and not just for 5 seconds, but enduringly.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

One Year Anniversary of Moving Back to the US from Abroad

Hi all,

As of two days ago, August 5, its exactly one year to the day of my having moved back home to New England after four years of living overseas in Europe (a brief sojourn in Prague, following by the majority of my time whilst there spent in Germany).

As always seems to be the case with life (one of my best friends and I were just discussing this phenomenon on the phone on Sunday, August 5 in fact), life seems to end up unfolding in, more often than not, the most opposite, surprising, and unexpected ways from how we expect, plan, and assume it will go. 

That has absolutely been the case in terms of the past year.

Since my return from living abroad, so many things have happened to me, experiences had, people met, relationships evolved, which I never would have predicted, nor expected.  In fact, many of the things I assumed likely to happen or play out a certain way just so, ended up actualizing in completely opposite, totally different ones.

So.  My plan/assumption on how events would unfold on returning to the US: get a job in Boston (which I assumed would be obtained a month, maybe two tops, following my arriving back).  Move to Boston shortly thereafter (so, unquestionably within 2-3 months of my getting back stateside).  Possibly start dating some 6-8 months after getting back and established with job and solo apartment in Boston, feeling it was unlikely of my meeting anyone who compelled me or was a resonating click until several months after that.  (Totally ok with me, as I am both equally joyful and fulfilled either when in a relationship, as well as when not in one.  I love both in different ways and am just as content with each). 

That was generally the skeleton of my plan, what I assumed would occur and how things would play out on my returning back to the New Hampshire/Boston area.

However.  Things could not have played out further from that.  Instead, they actualized in ways that were almost completely the opposite.  Instead of following the linear, straight, arguable potentially dull line of events I had planned and predicted for myself, what actually happened was more like squiggles and swirls, many sky high "ups," with a few dips and downs.  And to my shock, this ended up being the most awesome possible way that this last year of my life could have played out.

To name several of the surprising, compelling, emotionally moving experiences as well as major lessons I both confronted, navigated, and learned from within the last year:

--The work I did for Marsys Law in New Hampshire, on the campaign that was fighting to change the NH state constitution in order to write in rights and protections afforded to all victims of crime (which shockingly, they do not currently have in NH.  At the moment, anyone accused of a crime has a boatload of rights.  The victims though, have none.  We at Marsys Law were not looking to compromise, nor take away any of the rights that people accused of crimes have.  They deserve those rights.  We only want to level the playing field.  The victims of crimes most certainly deserve the same rights that the perpetrators have.  This is what we were fighting for.  To equalize this standing for both parties). 

This was, hands down, the most awesome, engaging, meaningful, challenging, affirming, emotionally moving, stressful, powerful (feeling) job I have ever had.  The emotions and experiences I had during the short 7 or so weeks I worked this role, leaving a deep mark on me, in all absolutely phenomenal ways.  I loved this experience.  Even that is an understatement.




The survivors of violent crimes whom I was able to meet, spend time with, hear their stories, this was so moving and motivating in terms of working the campaign.  The fabulous, inspiring, bad ass women (and men!) with whom I had the chance to work, this was an absolute blast to say the least.  The work itself, while some of the time immensely stressful and overstimulating (for someone who is quite introverted, this was challenging at times), was also engaging, exciting, interesting, and just fantastic. 

The connection this role offered me, which most certainly was the key I needed towards snagging the job I have now at Bridge over Troubled Waters in Boston.  The hearings I attended in the Concord State House for Marsys Law, watching with bated breath both the Senate, and then the House of Representatives discuss, debate over, and then vote on this potential amendment, were emotioinally charged, immensely climactic, suspense laden experiences for me, to describe them at a minimum.

This work was, hands down (at least to date) the most fulfilling and thrilling I have ever done.

The photos just below, showcasing THE most emotional, intense, awe inspiring day of my being on Marsys Law.  The day of the vote, the day that would determine whether Marsys Law made it onto the ballot for greater NH or not.  Myself, our boss, Sara, and my two colleagues, Marina and Taylor, walked over to the State House at dawn.  The city streets still deserted.  And we placed 2,637 purple flags on the lawn of the State House, to signify all the victims of violent crime over the last year.

This moment, I still get chills thinking about it.  Glancing up from the spot where I was crouched on the lawn to see the ground growing covered in a sea of purple, like wildflowers blooming in the breeze, suddenly sprung up out of nowhere.  This. Was. Awesome.  It packed such an emotional wallop for me.







--The reconnections I rediscovered in a handful of friends with whom I remained close while living overseas.  Seeing them again, and picking up where we left off was both affirming, exciting, and comforting.  Especially with regards to two friends in particular, Derek and Sarah.  These two, we picked up right away and it was as though I had never left.  Jumping right back into my connections with, and even deepening both of these relationships.

Two other women in my life, with whom I have always been connected to some degree, I was surprised to find my connections with them deepening in my seeking more time spent with them, Gayle and Susan.  Meeting with each of them several times for tea and/or brunch/lunch over the 9 or so months I was living in NH with my mom.  This was also a wonderful, incredibly sweet surprise.

And one more big one, in terms of surprising, heart rending re-connections.  Meeting with my past counselor, Ken.  The man who treated me from about the age of ten through to my late teens.  One of the small handful of people in my life who has left a majorly earthmoving mark on me.  His invitation (about one year ago, in autumn of 2017) to partake in a recorded interview for students of his, with regards to the work he and I had done together-how it had affected or helped me, as well as where I was now (to whom I had grown into, and where I had been since his and my working together), wow.  This was an incredible experience, to say the least.  Very emotionally moving, affirming, just really neat.

With Derek.

With Sarah (though this photo was taken when we were maybe 23 years old?  About a decade ago!!!)


--Living with my mom.  I was both excited for this, happily anticipating being "home," so to speak, as well as excitedly anticipating this with my mom living in the dream locale of right alongside a charming, quiet little lake.  I was also hesitant, as we have a rocky, emotion laden history between us. 

However, living with her during this time was, hands down, the best phase I have ever experienced (at least until now) of mine and my mothers relationship, thus far in my life.  We shared so many fun, cozy, laughter filled, joyous, and emotionally connected moments with each other during the almost year (about 10 months) that I lived here with her. 

Going out dancing, lounging on the dock, taking a few walks around the lake, playing croquet in the yard, hosting parties at the house, watching Stephen Cobert on weeknights, driving into Concord together most weekday mornings, going to the gym many evenings together, myself cooking and baking loads of things for her.  We had a blast. 

This was the most powerful and positive period of growth I have ever felt in our relationship until now.  Sure, we had several tough moments and some fights sprinkled in there too.  To me though, that's fairly normal- at least in families that are candid with one another.  There will be clashes, anger, disagreements.  As well as, coupled with some of our past challenges, flare ups more certain to arise. 

As a whole though, this was a life and relationship changing experience, a profound, joyous, and awesome one.




--The challenge and shockingly long road of job searching.  This was for sure, the most negative surprise along the way.  Though I will preface that with saying that while it seemed negative while I was experiencing it, looking back, it actually had a lot about it that was pretty fantastic too.

Never in my life have I put such heart, effort, and sweat into finding a job.  Also, never in my life had I had such difficulty in getting a job.  During the 9 months following my return home, I applied to, no exaggeration, 160-170 jobs.  Truly.  I have all the cover letters to prove it.  Speaking of which, spending at a minimum, 45 minutes or so per cover letter.  More on some, for the jobs I especially desperately desired.  So these job applications were not dashed off willy nilly.  On the contrary, I sunk my whole heart and efforts into each one.

I was invited for a handful of interviews, all for jobs that excited me.  And received a few offers, none of which paid enough for me to live on sadly.  This was disheartening, exhausting, and dejecting.  It got to the point more than once where I nearly threw up my hands and said, forget it.  My mom looked over my cover letters and resume, for errors and things that might be working against me.  She too was aghast.  Remarking that both the cover letters and resumes were great.

Finally though, finally, I was offered the job with Marsys Law for New Hampshire (after 8 months of relentless job searching!!!) and, on the campaign concluding, landed a job roughly 2 months later with Bridge over Troubled Waters in downtown Boston.  This is where I am working now, and am loving it.  Generally speaking though, it took me roughly one year to find a job.

Looking back though, the silver lining of this period: while emotionally, it was anxiety provoking and disheartened, I made MAJOR strides in my writing during this time.  Huge ones.  There were several other silver linings, and even joy of this time, however this was one of the most compelling.


--Meeting the man I have grown in love with, Maxx.  I met this very man exactly one month later, to the day, following my return from Germany to the US.  Ironic as I assumed I wouldn't meet anyone who even remotely captured my interest until months and months down the road, nor did I have much priority or urgency towards dating.  However, don't they tend to say that what we least expect or just when we aren't looking for something is exactly when/what ends up happening?

Maxx is someone who has captured my heart.  Where initially, I was sure that because our temperaments are different, this could not possibly be a thing, I am so incredibly glad at how wrong I was.  This, teaching me the pivotal lesson that much of the time, when we make snap judgements, we are wrong.  How much I would have missed out on, had I followed that initial judgement and assumption.

Maxx, in his introverted, thoughtful, introspective manner, grounds me.  Bringing forth a sense of calm in me.  I both believe (and hope) that within him, I ignite a sense of whimsy, adventure, possibility, and of purposefully seeking the pushing of ones comfort zone.  I have witnessed both of us challenging each other in relevant and important ways.  Eliciting invitations for growth and personal insight where each of us could use it.  I have experienced much romance, tenderness, and joy in the connection between us, and time spent together as a couple.  Being with Maxx has made a profound impact on my life.

What a resounding gift, incitement of personal growth, and light this man has added with his entrance into my life and the love he has offered and given me.

The flowers that were waiting on my doorstep the morning after our third date <3






--The small but semi noteworthy growth of Sweet. Raw. Free(All the recipes falling into at least one, if not more, of the following categories: gluten/grain free, dairy free, sugar free, or raw).  In my returning from Europe, both in upping the ante with regards to the social media spreading of my food blog, as well as widening the net on my topics to include health in general along with recipes, I have seen a slow but notable increase in terms of views, followings, shares and likes.  How cool and thrilling this has been, both because food (eating it, baking/cooking it, photographing and writing about it) is a passion of mine, as well as because I am hoping to eventually self publish a cookbook!!







--The completion of my first book.  And where it stands now, whenever I reflect on it, leaving me awed, breathless, a bit scared, and in disbelief.  Also, coming up on the cusp of completion of my second book too!!  That first book (non fiction, memoir) in the works being edited.  This second book (fictional, love story with, at least what I hope to be a unique theme that I haven't come across in many other books about romantic relationships), nearly done in terms of first draft, upon which I will invite in a couple of beta readers, then comb over it once more on my own, and then likely look into professional editing with that one. 

All of this is WAY thrilling :-D as being a published author is my absolute, ultimate dream.  To make enough money off it, not a lot, just enough, so that I can live off this and writing books can be my job.

The writing of books, in my opinion, is such an important, worthwhile gig in terms of human life.  Books have the power to change us.  Books can heal us.  They can offer a sense of, oh wow, so someone else experienced this too.  I am not alone.  Books connect people.  They can also inspire and move us to immense proportions.  In reading the stories of others, we learn ourselves how to navigate our own relationships, how to live, how to address and handle the dilemmas of our own lives.  We learn how to be human. 

Books also offer affordable (sometimes even free, as with libraries) yet growth inducing entertainment.  They offer further education, learning, the opening of ones mind and heart.  Books make you a better person.  They add layers to the self that you already are.  Books offer the chance to experience other cultures, worlds, emotions and lives, which otherwise you may not have had a glimpse into.  Books add richness and wonder to life.  They can shift our views of the world as we know it.  Offer us different ideas for how to think, be, live. 

I want to be one of these people, offering these riches to my fellow humans, like all the other authors out there do.  To me, this is a career of making magic.  With the potential to change lives, as well as create whole other worlds that spellbind, interest, teach the reader lessons, and induce awe with our words.  Awesome.  I cannot think of better, more thrilling or more fulfilling work than this- at least for me.