Why the “Secret” is Not a Secret – And Yet Still Is Unatainable for Many…

I am going to start this blog with one of my beloved quotes from “TUT – A Note from the Universe: People believe what they want to believe, Carmen. And this, alone, explains what they have or don’t have. – TUT – A Note from the Universe”

I think the whole confusion starts with the fact that people tend to believe a whole lot. And what they believe is usually based on surroundings, teachings, social standards and upbringing. Neither one of these beliefs may actually be based in reality, but that doesn’t make them less real for those who are caught up in them.

Sometimes, people have gotten angry and defensive when I would tell them that the power to manifest what they want lies solely within them. They’d insist I was withholding the steps on how to do it. I would get to hear, “yeah, I get that it is up to me, but how do I do it? Why can’t you tell me the secret to happiness?” Nope, this is not made up. I literally got almost these exact words thrown at me on more than one occasion and each time I would repeat myself “it is all up to you.”

In theory this sounds very easy and I think that is why people get so frustrated when it is pointed out to them. There is comfort in not being able to control one’s destiny, which also offers endless excuses to not be able to control one’s own impulses, responses, words, whims, emotions and thoughts. Apparently, we are all just a pinball, knocked around by life and some unseen force no one quite understands; and definitely can’t control or exercise power over.

So the question is how does one change one’s thoughts? It starts with the determination to do so! One really has to want to change, which usually means they’d have to be at the point where they are willing to do pretty much anything to make it happen. They must have hit that proverbial “rock bottom” and being tired of their own inauthenticities, stories and their own BS. For those who are familiar with the tarot, they would have to experience the full energy force of the tower.

Who we think we are, how we view ourselves, what we believe we can/cannot do not only manifests in our lives but also is that which others see about us. This is why confidence is so important and this is why those with low self-esteem work almost as a repellant towards happy and successful people. This is why not only the most beautiful or even most talented person will get the job, deal or awesome partner but the one who believes in themselves the most. Some may whine and say that this isn’t fair. Alas, I never said that living one’s dream is easy. And as I have said a million times before, most things worth getting in life are not easily attained and often consist of an uphill battle; at least for a while.

To demonstrate what I am talking about, let me give you an example. Let’s think about Lady Gaga! Yes, she is talented, but above all, she kept a “f*** you” attitude, no matter what people told her and how often she got rejected or denied. She doesn’t care what people think of her and has no problem sporting whatever strange getup pops in her head. At the end of the day, one doesn’t have to like her or her music, but one cannot help to respect her for her successes.

When one looks at the list of really famous people, we usually find one thing they have in common; they overcame rejection, obstacles and blows, but yet wouldn’t allow anyone to pull them down permanently or tell them “no.” This kind of determination and confidence makes you pretty irresistible to people. It is what some call charisma and has nothing to do with being arrogant or with being obnoxious! There is simply nothing more attractive to anyone than a person who truly knows who they are and stands fully in that realization; without making excuses and without being a jerk about it.

Also, pretty much all of the truly confident and happy people have acquired self-awareness at some point in their life. They are fully aware of how they come across and how they are perceived. They are, in other words, mindful of their actions, words, thoughts and emotions; and depending on what their life goals are they are living them by example. It is one thing to be successful; it is a whole other thing to be both, successful and happy!

If I take a look at one of my greatest heroes, the Dalai Lama, I am inspired by how fully aware he is. I am inspired by his humble demeanor, his kindness and his wisdom. I am inspired by how truly peaceful he is and by the compassion he has for everyone, even those who have wronged him.
When I take a look at Bill Maher, who also inspires me, I am smitten with his honesty, his sense of humor, his awareness and his intelligence; as well as the fact that he doesn’t make excuses for who he is and what he believes. Both one of them strike me as courageous and that type of demeanor will win me over, even if I don’t necessarily always agree! I have tremendous respect and admiration for a person who stands in honesty and integrity; and so do most others.

Most influential people have worked fairly hard for their success, and even harder to be happy. One has to learn how to be inspiring, how to live in integrity, how to do the right thing and how to believe in oneself. It is not a behavior we are born with but one we have learned and acquired; usually, because we chose to learn it and aspired to be a certain type of person.

Success and happiness doesn’t knock on our door while we sit on our butt, whining about the stuff we don’t have and all the things that went wrong in our past. Our weight won’t magically shrink while we sit on the couch and eat another burger with fries. We won’t get that six-figure salary, while doing nothing to improve our knowledge and delivering the bare minimum, expecting a miracle or hand-out.

I know that it sucks that we have to work so hard when others appear to have it so easy. But then I would always argue that one of the most endearing traits of a highly successful person is their lack of bad attitude; they are not complaining or whining. You don’t see dozens of Facebook updates per day that point out what meaningless lives they lead and/or how crappy life is and how annoyed/disappointed/angry (<–insert negative emotion here) they are; yet again. When life slaps them with the most horrible thing, they stand out by remaining kind and still trying to find the lesson in the experience. They don’t hold on to grudges and they know how to forgive, sometimes make the first step and how to say “I’m sorry.”

It is human to get beaten down, disappointed, depressed, discouraged, sad, and angry or maybe act unkind at times. But what defines a master of his/her own destiny is the fact that this is not their main mode and they don’t remain that way; alas, they are not stuck but free to create what they truly want to manifest. They don’t keep making excuses for why they can’t do what they need to do, they don’t complain about how hard it is and how bad they have it; they simply do. And when they suffer or hit a slump, they do so with grace, kindness and dignity. You can always tell true character by how a person handles pain.

I aspire to be that person. I want to be that person so much that I have undergone not only severe changes in the past years but most importantly, have worked my butt of. I have been privileged enough to have had (and still do have) friends, managers, co-workers, or other inspirational people in my life that encourage me to live the life I wish to create.

I am still working on it and I still get it wrong at times; after all, it is so easy to fall back into my old and learned behavioral patterns. So, “being happy,” truly is an everyday choice and sometimes, still an uphill battle. What can I say, “happy” has not been my default mode and joy was often short lived. But as I keep striving each day to think the right thoughts and make the right choices, namely with integrity, honesty and courage, I find it is getting easier. With that frame of mind comes more patience, kindness and compassion for others. I have finally learned that one can be kind and compassionate, but still can choose to not tolerate certain behaviors or types of people. I have learned that in order to be the person I want to be, it is not only OK but absolutely necessary to set boundaries.

I guess one could say that true happiness and success is achieved when one finds peace and love for oneself without being a doormat or without taking abuse. In the end, it all boils down to balance within you. Balance is the key to it all.

Horrible Employees

Not too long ago, I wrote an article about bad bosses and managers. It is therefore only fair to present the counterpart to it, namely the bad employee. These are the nightmares of management and HR and usually just as difficult to get rid of, as a bad boss. Having been in management for almost 10 years has showed me a wide variety of the different kinds of bad employees, and here they are:

  1. Mr./Mrs. Jekyll and Hide
    These are the people who are overly friendly on the outside. The ones who tend to have a huge, fake smile on their face, while almost hugging you when telling you “HELLO!” Of course, this is until you turn around. Then the dagger stares come out and the commentary starts. There are just as inauthentic as the huge smile they are sporting. They tend to be loyal to only one thing and that is their own interests. Don’t dare to make it on their “bad” side, as they will go out of their way to make your life miserable. They also tend to complain a lot about room temperature and noise levels, or get super sensitive about the same stuff they do all the time. Their second title is “hypcorite!”
  2. The Busy Body/Gossip
    These are the ones who focus on everything but their own job. Eager to give you “advice” and monitoring your every move, those are the types that feel their opinion is not only wanted, but asked for and necessary for the success of the business. These are the guys who keep score on how often you go to the bathroom, how long your break was and how much time you may have spent on the phone. They tend to consistently overstep boundaries and make rude, racial or otherwise inappropriate remarks and can’t wait for another sad victim to feed them with any type of confidential information; which they will promptly distort and spread all over the floor.
  3. The Delusional Type
    Oh, what fun it is to share metrics with that type! Because nothing is ever their fault, things were always out of their control, or they simply didn’t do it. You present them with numbers; they claim the system was reporting them wrong or that the system was down. You tell them about situations you have observed and they’ll look you straight in the eye, claiming that you saw it wrong, or that it was a one-time thing that never happened before. Either way, you (the manager) are the one who has the wrong perception and you only have it out for them; or you are discriminating against them. Because they are a star employee and you are simply too bad of a manager to see it.
  4. The Drama King/Queen
    Ah, amongst my favorites of them all! These are the ones who stand out with passive aggressive and completely unprofessional behavior, which includes rolling their eyes, making comments under their breath, throwing arms up in the air and fists on the table. The bigger the audience, the better the show. Anything to get that attention. Sometimes, but rarely, their behavior can be less dramatic. My personal favorite used to do yoga in meetings, read magazines or fall asleep! You can’t approach them, because they are also delusional and of course, it wasn’t their fault and they feel justified behaving like complete jerks in the office. When you “threaten” them with a write up, they run to HR and claim you are treating them unfairly; or you are too harsh.
  5. The Eternal Victim (Also Known as Master of Excuses)
    As we know, I already love this type outside of the office, but to manage them is even more of a nightmare. Of course, just like the other star employees mentioned above, they really shine when it comes to not taking responsibility for anything, blaming everyone else and having zero accountability. Everyone is out to get them and they cannot succeed, no matter how hard they are trying. The problem is, they are always trying and never doing. When you have to discipline them for lack of performance or anything else, for that matter, they will either get defensive or start crying, and then they usually promise you to get better. This promise lasts for about 2 minutes, or however long it takes them to get back to their desk; in which time they’ve realized that you are the jerk and that they are right as rain; after that the bad-mouthing and the passive aggressive commentary starts. They are like a virus and instead of doing their job or “getting better” they tend to bring the entire team down with their negative and bad attitude.
  6. Debbie/David Downer
    The company sucks, the managers suck, the benefits suck, their job sucks and overall, they really don’t want to be here. However, they are here because they need a paycheck and said crappy benefits. Instead of doing their job and maybe improving their environment, they do as little as possible and spending the rest of the time complaining to everyone, co-workers, HR, managers and Facebook. They are like weeds and never go away; because after all, they are too down to look for something else and no other company would probably hire them anyway. Trying to coach them or giving them a better perspective has the same effect as sharing your feedback with the parking meter.
  7. The Gamer
    These are truly my favorites, because those are the only type that I can immediately fire. I am talking about people who game the system; people who fake their timesheets or steal from the company. The “lesser” gamer is the one who waits until one sick occurrence falls off the calendar, and then immediately goes and takes another sick day. They are technically always playing by the rules, but actually doing just the absolute smallest amount to get by; but usually wonder the loudest when they don’t get the promotion or raise they feel they deserve. When you are making them aware of their patterns, they claim that the patterns are a coincidence…a coincidence that has been going on for a year or more!

Basically, employees can be put in three different groups, the achievers/optimists, the neutrals and the cutters. The achievers are the building blocks of your company. They’ll work hard towards one common goal; they are appreciative and genuinely contribute to the success of the company and a positive environment. They have a “can do” attitude and foster a team environment. Second in line you have the cutters, which consist of the nay-sayers, the negative, irresponsible and drama ridden bunch who bring everyone else down and influence those who are weaker in a negative way (these would be all the people I wrote about above). And thirdly you have the neutral group. They are neither unhappy, nor happy, but tend to get easily influenced by those who scream the loudest and do the least amount of work, which would be the cutters. Because they tend to keep to themselves and don’t speak out, they can easily be turned into cutters.

The most important thing in any company is having a great leadership team in place. Because a great leader can usually not only differentiate between the different types, but also do something before it escalates and hopefully make the proper hiring decisions to keep the bad apples out of the company. Great leaders inspire and the cutters don’t survive long with them, because they won’t stay under the radar, unnoticed and undisciplined. There are those who measure success by revenue created, which is important. However, it is usually forgotten that great employees are “created” by great leadership and that is what truly makes the difference between success and failure.

How do you…?

A friend was asked the following question by a potential date:
“How do you keep the man of your choice interested in you, and only you, for the rest of his or your life?”

I am not going to include my opinions for now, because I liked what she had to say!
Here is her answer (slightly edited):

“Well, if I truly knew that answer to that question, I would have lightning in a bottle, could make Billions, with a “B” and could buy all the love I wanted.  But, there’s a funny difference between bought love and earned love.

The first step is that both people have to genuinely want to find the right person.  If that is not in the equation, then there will be a lot of work and effort going into a dead end street.  Next, genuine chemical attraction is the ground floor for moving the relationship along its path.

Then the basic, sometimes trite stuff, like trust, honor and respect, etc.  My button is fighting over money; and while it may seem silly and unapplicable to another, the fact of the matter is, it makes me feel “unsafe” to argue about money.  The reality is, am I really unsafe?  Is my life threatened? No. But as silly as it may seem to another, it is very serious business to me. This is the kind of stuff people don’t understand about each other, that makes them fight and eventually give up.  You may have one or two buttons that I think are silly or needless, but I will totally respect them and guard them as if they are my own.

Along with guarding each others’ buttons as our own, comes putting each other as the single most important thing in the universe.  Higher than friends and work, and definitely higher than family, including ones own prodgeny. Putting each other first, above all else, seems to work really, really well.

Next, the good stuff… we are basically children in adult bodies and we need to play.  Tic, tac, toe is not going to keep our interests picqued in each other, therefore we need to continually come up with new, different and challenging games for each other. Flirting, dressing up, dressing down, events, weekend road trips (or any travel), changing it up with variety, and continually creating new stuff and adventures will help flame the fires. The five senses are starving and we must endeavor to pursue fulfilling them.”

Compassion – Does Not Equal Being Weak

These days pretty much everyone I know feels that this world has turned into a complete nuthouse. There is a sense of disgust, resignation, doom and disappointment in the air, regardless where one travels to, in the Western World. “What is this world coming to,” people ask. And of course, this always implies that one has no other choice but to watch in silence whatever has befallen our planet.

Well, I personally feel that the source of all “evil” is the complete lack of understanding, compassion and self-awareness. Ego seems to run completely rampant in our great age of technology and science. Everyone is right and feels right as rain when spreading their “right opinions.” The constant need to defend one’s egotistical and selfish choices rules over common sense or over the ability to take a step back for someone else’s sake. It’s always about us; how we feel, how wronged we were, how much “right” we have to be angry, mean, selfish, passive aggressive and douchish. And why wouldn’t we? Don’t we assemble in groups of like-minded individuals? Alas, groups of those who justify and enable our own insanity and play by the same rules? Think of churches, religions and the Ku Klux Clan!

This planet is not necessarily stripped of reason or sanity, but of compassion, willingness to forgive and being the bigger person in the process of it. No, when someone feels wronged, we have to up them one, because somehow we feel that being the bigger person makes us weak or, god forbid, not right anymore! We are so wrapped up in our own stories of righteousness that we can’t even accept, and much less offer an apology. Because hey, if someone apologizes that means that they are truly to blame and doesn’t that make us right again and therefore gives us more reason to pounce on them; especially behind their backs?

Changing this planet and its crappy energy starts with you and me! It doesn’t start with our governments, or a religion or anything else for that matter. If we want a better place, we have to learn to be less greedy, less selfish and less willing to blame others/pointing fingers. Before you start judging right from wrong, try to walk a mile in another’s shoes.

I used to have a huge problem with this. Yep, I speak from experience again. It comes natural to me to follow a grid of right and wrong and black and white. I do fraud prevention for a living! I have worked with law in one form or another for most of my life and had absolutely no tools to examine the grey area. I would have made a great D.A., judge or private detective. And to some degree it is true; I instinctively sense right from wrong. But it doesn’t mean I have to act on it! Because sometimes it simply doesn’t change a thing when one is right and it sure as hell doesn’t lend reason to being a jerk.

Let me tell you some examples. I am in the grocery store. It’s been a long day; I am tired and already annoyed about the lines. Next to me is a woman with three boys. Two are older and the youngest one is a baby, which is screaming at the top of his lungs. He is screaming so loud that it actually hurts my ears. I’m starting to get really annoyed now, shooting “death glares” to the baby; when I notice the mother. The mother is terribly embarrassed. She is trying to distract and quiet her baby and the two older boys are also trying to help, to no avail. She quietly apologizes for the noise, pays and flees the store. I stopped myself and thought about how I never ever considered how she might feel! I found myself smiling at the little, screaming thing and noticing how cute he is, even as he is turning bright red from screaming so much. My anger and annoyance are immediately gone.

Another example; I’m bombarded by someone’s rant about how crappy their life is and how bad they feel about themselves. How they can’t muster up any energy to do things, how they are feeling beaten down, can’t sleep, can’t work out and so on. I find myself getting increasingly more irritated as I am hoping for the person to shut up. After all, I hold it together when I don’t feel too hot and I do something about the things I don’t like. But instead of giving a disapproving look and starting to “lecture,” I find myself just listening and nodding, telling them “yes, I know how this feels. I’ve been there. Can I do anything to make you feel better or help?”  I found that the person stopped in mid-track and thanked me; then finding more energy to keep doing what they were doing.

Each and every day, I find I am given the opportunity to do something for another. Sometimes this means quietly listening, other times it means to maybe hand a dollar to a homeless person, or smiling at a stranger. In each day I find at least one moment to make it about someone else and not me. And by practicing this, I find myself not only more patient, but happier, more balanced, less annoyed or “triggered.”

Being kind and having compassion does not make you weak and it doesn’t mean you have to turn into a doormat! It serves well to remember that some people are better loved from afar and by having little or no contact with them. We have the right to refuse access to our life from those who are harmful to our well-being or growth as a person. We have the right, and always should set proper boundaries; it just doesn’t mean we have to do it in an obnoxious, mean or spiteful manner. And it doesn’t mean we have to tell the world about it and spread the negativity and toxicness! When someone wrongs us, we can silently walk away and we should always do our best to forgive, no matter what was said or done. Why? Because holding on to negative emotions will do nothing but make us sick; it won’t correct what was done and it won’t change the mind of the perpetrator.

Learning how to have compassion and how to forgive, and learning how to see the world through the eyes of another, even if just for a moment, will make the world a better place. Just as negative energy spreads like a virus, so does positive energy. If you want to change the world, you must learn to lead by example and to walk the walk yourself. This might appear as a huge and daunting endeavor, but with time it becomes one’s way of being and transforms not only one’s own life, but the life of others as well. Is it easy to do this? No! It is never easy to change one’s ways and it is truly difficult to not feed one’s ego and fall into the trap of defining your own worth by how right you were again. Everything we want to learn or know requires practice; and often the very things who were the hardest to learn return the highest and most gratifying rewards.

Why the Glass is Always Half Full

Why is it so important to remain positive? Why shouldn’t we all just give in, cry over spilled milk and wallow in self-pity? After all, we deserve to have the very best, no matter how much we contribute, or don’t for that matter. Why? Because our society teaches us that it is OK to have a sense of entitlement and that nothing is our fault.

How do you do it? How do you remain the positive, upbeat person you are meant to be, when you, yet again, lost in life? And when that promotion, job offer, boyfriend, girlfriend, house or apartment you wanted and deserved, again, sailed out of reach? Why should you not stomp your foot and complain for a while about the injustice of it all? Or why not keep complaining and keep holding on to all the missed chances and opportunities that escaped you, all your life?!

The simple answer is that acting like a martyr will only turn you into an eternal victim; and no one likes those. People like that project their negativity and crappy outlook about 100 miles ahead of them; and unless you are not OK in the head, you’ll run when you see them coming. Plus, holding on to negativity will only produce more of it. In addition, it will make you physically, emotionally and mentally ill. Obsessing over anything is not a great thing and when one obsesses over bad stuff it only gets worse.

Don’t get me wrong. It is absolutely normal, human and healthy to feel anger, fear, sadness or disappointment. But if you are not able to let go of these feelings and keep carrying them month after month and year after year, it is no longer healthy, but an unhealthy obsession and a total distortion of one’s view. And that, my friends, just never does anything good.

One of the great ways of letting go is to lose one’s attachment. I have found that my life is what I make it and that I do attract what I want, about 80% of the time. But there are those other 20% that, for no apparent rhyme or reason, don’t work out. There are failures in my life and there are losses and there is no lottery that made it happen. I wasn’t punished by a higher being and sometimes I don’t deserve it. And even though life is predominantly what I make it, there is always a bit of the unknown involved.

On the bright side, almost every single time I have “lost” something, I gained something of higher value. Hence, letting go of bad relationships and those who didn’t fit with who I am, lead to me finding my husband; he is the one who does fit and does belong with me.
I got laid off by Yahoo; not one of my fondest memories and yet one of the most liberating moments in my life. Of course, it took me over 2 years to figure this out!

I have experienced tons of losses in my life. Some of them I was responsible for, others were out of my control. It took me almost 20 years to learn that my unhealthy attachment to anyone or anything was causing me nothing but heartache. I enlisted the help of a professional to help me get over some of these issues, but the rest I did on my own. I was determined to be the positive, upbeat person I felt I was meant to be; not the negative, nay-saying, scared and insecure person I had become. I was tired of feeling powerless, out of energy and a bit like a loser, especially since none of these statements were particularly true (well, they were in my head).

I started focusing on the things I did have, could do and that were in my control. I had control over how I felt physically. All I had to do is get my butt up and start working out; and I had to stop shoving cheeseburgers and fries down my throat. I had control over how much sad memories from the past were controlling me; after all, there are plenty of therapists in Los Angeles. I had control over the friends I picked and with how much BS I was willing to put up. I had to set my boundaries, and if I didn’t know how to set them, darn it, I was determined to figure out how to do it properly.

Do I get whatever I want? Hardly! Do I get what I want most of the time? Definitely! The world hasn’t changed and neither did the people in it. There are still a lot of whining, irresponsible, pretentious and ignorant jerks wandering around; namely the kind that still can drive me up the wall. However, I don’t need to get affected by them. They can life in jerkland all by themselves, while I go ahead and live the life I truly do deserve.

What has changed is how I perceive my life, my choices, my power and myself. All the dorky clichés, i.e. “when life gives you lemons make lemonade,” do apply for me now. The glass is half full, the glasses are rose colored and yet, I’m not a naive Kool Aid drinker who read one too many self-help books.

What do I have that the sad, miserable folks do not? I have hope and I have a ton of tools under my belt that I didn’t have before. I know that no matter how bleak a situation may appear, I can turn it around; I can make the proverbial lemonade again. No one “makes” me miserable, no one is responsible for how I feel (although there are still a few trigger people I want to strangle at times, but then I get over it) and there are no missed opportunities, as long as I know that I did the best I could; and that I did what I did with integrity, honesty and hard work. As long as I know that I didn’t give up right away and that I did my best, I can walk away and say “Oh well, this one wasn’t meant to be, but wait for what is going to come up next! Wheeeeeeeee!!” (Did not intend to make the last sentence rhyme) 🙂

Release the BS

If you are like me, you’ll probably have a hard time letting go of negative memories. Sometimes, holding on can aid us in becoming stronger and making better decisions in the future; but when we are unable/refuse to learn or when we have learned and still hold on, we become stuck. And when be become stuck, our “bad” memories turn into a toxic dump that is eating us up from the inside out. Literally!

Holding on to things that no longer serve you will make you physically and mentally ill. There is no worse killer of a sound body and mind than a sick attachment to the past and the people in it. The older we get, the sicker we become, until we are the island of toxic waste; the persons we once complained about, the sick behaviors we ranted and raved about, may now have become our own and we’re stuck in our version of reality; unable to see it. Hence, we continue living a miserable life, filled with regret, driving those around us insane, until the day we die. And when we lay on our death bed, we can’t look bad and say “what a ride,” instead we have nothing inside of us but pain, sorrow, anger and misery.

This is not what we are meant to be or meant to do! This is not our destiny and we can choose differently. No matter how often we have been wronged and what abuse we may have endured; no matter what nutjobs made our lives hell, we can always choose to come out of it; always! It is never “too late” to change if we choose. It is too late when we started believing our own hype and are now caught up in what we call “real.”

How does one release one’s crappy past? Well, that depends on one’s baggage. The bigger the skeletons in the closet, the bigger the chance that you won’t be able to do it alone and without help. This isn’t a bad thing and it sure as hell doesn’t make you weak! Weak is stubbornly looking the other way, giving up and whining that you “can’t.” Weak is not taking responsibility for your quality of life and for refusing to see how your chosen misery touches the lives of those around you; and how you make them miserable, too!

There are plenty of therapists and therapy styles; there is yoga, meditation and there are self-help books. In other words, there is more material on getting well than one could possibly ever consume in a lifetime. If your life sucks and the quality of your life is miserable, then do something about it. Got crappy friends, don’t get the relationships, friends, career or money you want, do something about it. Start by taking an honest look at yourself, ask a few “trusted” advisors, preferably people who actually live the life you want, and then get help.

One awesome tool my therapist taught me is purging! Write it down. Write letters, emails, notes, and journals; whatever you want. You don’t even have to send them, although you can if necessary (just be prepared for any consequences your confrontation may have!). Very important about this exercise, do it to get it off your chest, not to attach an outcome or expect change! If you expect an outcome, you’ll set yourself up for failure all over again.

People do not change for you or for me. People won’t magically learn to hear you, won’t suddenly see things your way, be responsible, accountable or learn to care. No, my friend, that part you cannot expect. Most people who harm others will continue to do so; nothing you say or do will change that. But if you simply need to speak your truth, do it! Go for it, set yourself free and walk away. No back and forth arguing, no trying to “change their mind,” no hanging on to expecting an apology or a reconciliation of any sort. Just release the crap and then let it go; for good!

I have learned in therapy to do this. Once I started purging my skeletons, my life became easier. What was even more amazing to me is that my therapist taught me how to stop blaming myself and feeling guilty when I confronted someone who had abused or wronged me. The outcome was and still is liberating. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t wander around wielding my sword of justice (although that is what I do well ;-)), I do however speak up in situations that I literally swallowed before. And what I found is that I simply feel a great sense of pleasure from no longer allowing others to use me, badmouth, or simply harm me. I don’t feel guilty (after all, I give you ample warning before I “strike”) and I don’t get caught up too much in the BS anymore.

Sure, this is a process; and a long one for me so far. Sure, there are times when I slip, because none of this comes as naturally to me as it should, but with practice I am getting better and with that I am getting stronger and healthier. I no longer “hold it in” and I don’t pretend to be fine. There is a fine line between being able to forgive and being a doormat. I always opted for “taking the high road,” which meant that at a specific point, I’d drop the conversation and simply never speak to the person again. However, I would hold it inside and I would obsess about it, because the other one “got away with it,” while I still held the pain inside. The army of jerks that was stuck in my “closet” was quite large and the pain I felt reliving their BS was debilitating. If you think “they” are going through the same hell, you are probably mistaken. Most jerks not only justify their actions and words, but continue them; and you, my friend, won’t change that.

Once you start releasing your pain, your whole life will turn around. The lighter your load gets, the lighter your life becomes. You’ll start having more light than dark days, you’ll laugh more, cry less, worry less, trust more (in the right places) and find yourself attracting all the things you want.

Having a light heart is the key to happiness and success. Holding on to your BS is only going to make you miserable, while the rest of the world stops listening to you, avoiding you, until one day, you’ll find yourself truly and utterly alone; regarded as the bitter, whiny, crybaby you have become. And who wants that fate? Not I and you shouldn’t either!

What to Know About Getting in Shape

First off, I am no expert and secondly, I don’t have anything to sell. All I can do is share; namely with those who are tired of, well, let me say it straight, being fat!

We live in a society that treats overweight people worse than drug addicts. It is drilled into the head of little girls that only thin means success; and it is drilled into the mind of boys that girls need to look like movie stars, models or porn stars. What is sold as attractive is so far off the grid that a mere 1% of the population actually meets the requirements. Having said that though, there is the other extreme; this would be the “screw you” extreme where all health issues and good advice are completely ignored and gluttony rules above all. This is the world where “big is beautiful” is translated into making it OK to be morbidly obese and giving ample excuses to not take care of oneself, and instead, keep shoving whatever one wants into one’s mouth, while making absolutely no or very little effort to change one’s habits.

I have been on both sides of the fence. There was a time when I was really skinny and a time when I was pretty overweight; although, I stopped myself before I crossed the line to obesity. This “line” is different for everyone. I found it to be not too different from being a drug addict when it comes to the vicious cycle it creates and overcoming the hard-wiring that keeps you from doing the right thing. So what exactly got me to turn it all around? Well, I had reached my own personal “maximum density” at a size 14. I was also diagnosed with high blood pressure and high cholesterol, I had no energy, my back always hurt and I simply felt like crap. My family history wasn’t/isn’t too hot either. Everyone has high blood pressure and my two oldest nieces are diagnosed with diabetes.

I have started my journey almost 2 years ago and here is what I found:

  1. It’s all in your head!
    If you cannot fix your head, you won’t fix your body. It’s as simple as that. Your brain, specifically your reward center, craves carbs and sugars. You are addicted to both of them and getting rid of the cravings and addiction is quite difficult and in some cases, impossible to do on your own. Also, any and all negative thoughts you have about yourself, i.e. I can’t do it, I won’t lose the weight, this is too difficult, etc. reside in your subconscious; which is the driving force to create your reality in your conscious mind! Hence, I started with the head and went to hypnotherapy for weight loss. The image my hypnotherapist instilled in my subconscious about how I wanted to look and feel is always present and dictates my behaviors and choices in the now. Not treating the head will only end up in failure, once the initial excitement has worn off and the real work begins.
  2. There is nothing quick about it
    Oh, how I hate the fads and quick weight loss diets all kinds of infomercials and “experts” promise to you. It’s all a lie! Losing weight permanently and efficiently requires lasting and consistent changes to one’s diet and lifestyle! Diets fail, because once we start eating “normal” again, we pack the weight back on and then some. Also, no diet works without exercise! In 2 years I have gone down to a size 6/8 and have lost about 12% body fat. Anyone who promises you to lose 10% or more body fat in 3 months is full of crap; unless you have no job, go to the gym 7 days a week (for about 3 hours) and restrict yourself to a 1,000 calorie diet. Good luck with that!
  3. Diets
    By “diet” one should consider permanent changes to what one eats. I did it by keeping a food log. Everything I ate, no matter how small, was logged and accounted for. It’s quite a wakeup call when you see how much you thought you ate, versus what you actually consume! Then one can go about eliminating or cutting down on certain things. For me that meant sugars and white flower/processed foods and fast food.
  4. Exercise
    Turns out, you HAVE to work out if you want to lose weight, period! Not only does regular exercise speed up your metabolism, but it also creates endorphins, responsible for one’s feelings of well-being and happiness. I knew that I needed help here too, so I opted for personal trainers; and I am still with mine! Why? Because a trainer holds me accountable when I don’t feel like going to the gym and when it’s “too hard.” Plus, he will make sure that I progress, that I don’t injure myself and that I reach my goals. He will push me when I think I can’t go on, or can’t do better. My trainer motivates and encourages me and keeps track of how far I have come; which is an excellent tool when it comes to staying with the program. You should see how amped up you are, once you lost inches from your waist!
  5. Genes
    Here is another thing no one talks about, your genes. There is a reason that not all of us can be skinny and tall, for example. Fighting genes is the hardest thing in the equation and there is only so far one can go when it comes to overcoming them! Not all of us are natural runners, sprinters, dancers or body builders. And sometimes you can only go so far before you hit the wall. This wall approaches quicker with passing age and is also determined by how long you have been inactive.
    I, for example, stem from a long line of overweight, non-athletic people; now insert biology. The amount of fat cells in our system is already determined by the time we hit puberty. If we keep eating, these fat cells will expand. Getting rid of them is impossible, but you can shrink them. However, if you sat on your butt until you were 40, like yours truly here, you’ll find it really difficult to lose all the fat on the problem zones for women, which are the arms, hips and thighs. As we get older, we also start storing hormonal fat, namely from estrogen build up. No matter how hard you train and diet, you won’t get rid of all of it. This is also why men don’t have saddle bags! If you feel you have done whatever is in your power and you can’t go any further, you can only turn to liposuction, or accept yourself the way you are! The key here is starting as early as possible. By the time a woman reaches her 40s, it’s going to be hell to get in shape; and will take considerably longer than it took in your 20s or 30s.

There is no quick fix and there is no getting around to eating the right stuff and working out, period. If you want to get rid of fat and weight, you’ll have to work out at least 4 times a week AND you have to do cardio. Weight training is important, as it builds your muscle and muscle is needed to speed up your metabolism. But without the proper cardio, you won’t go far. If you do sufficient weight training, you can get away with 20 minutes of cardio! This is why having a trainer helps; he’ll teach you how to work out smart and properly.

At the end, it isn’t just the way you look that is at stake and it should never be all about that anyway. It should be about the way you feel and how healthy you are and I do not think that I have to list all the problems too much weight poses for your body. There comes a time in our life when we either become complacent and make excuses, or we, literally, get with the program. Guess which one holds the higher reward?