I was taught to "leave things better than you've found it." And my mother was/is a huge advocate for "be respectful of others". And when looking out into the world and intermingling with other humans, I forget that not everyone had the same amazing momma as I did.
I try never to travel on the weekends as there seems to be heavier traffic and people get upset if I don't want to go 75 on the highway dragging my camper. (Now if it was just me and Xander - my truck- I'd be all over it!)
So, that usually leaves me in campgrounds over the weekend.
Normally, I don't mind. I love hearing the kids squealing in the cold water and playing into the sunset. I love seeing that families are spending time together. I love the smell of a good campfire and grilling of their fresh catch of the day. I love that people still appreciate nature... sort of... and that "camping" is still a thing that is sure a tradition that will carry on into the future.
This weekend, there was such little regard for others and zero respect for the grounds and the nature around it. It just makes me so sad. Who taught you that this is okay?
There was trash, broken bottles and cigarette butts all over the place. People left their wrappers for the brand new floaty devices all over the beach.
People drove through the campgrounds- despite there being signs, despite the children running around- too fast or in the wrong direction! Would it take SO much time out of your life, just to follow the rules?
While I was out walking a vehicle sped past me and kicked up all kinds of rock dust, but also shot a rock out that hit me in my leg. That sucker hurt! I have a lovely purple bruise commemorating the moment and a regular reminder, every time I accidentally bump it, about that rude human.
If you want to play music at your campsite, that's fine. But don't assume everyone else needs to hear it. And, in the same instance, if you are in a neighboring campsite and the music is not to your liking, is it REALLY necessary to play YOUR genre even louder?
The bathroom... oh... please... just... can't you just... you know, be considerate of others? Or at the very least take responsibility for yourself and don't assume that it's someone else's job to come along after you and clean things up.
And please... keep an eye on your children and pets. Neither are meant to be left in a vehicle while you go out and play. No other explanation should be necessary. And if you keep your pets on a leash or lead, there would be no need to scream and yell obscenities at them because they are not staying in the invisible parameter of your space.
All of these things, state parks especially, are here for your enjoyment. Please stop doing the things that will make the state parks decide that it's just not worth it anymore.
We all have different ideas of what we want to experience in our campground vacations and we all have a different idea of what a good time is. Please! Go camping! Have a good time! Create awesome memories for your children and yourselves- but don't rob others of theirs.
Please don't make my state parks unsafe for me, I would just be so sad.
Consider this a public service announcement.
-Pick up your trash.
-Respect others and their space and property.
-Take care of your littles, furry and otherwise.
-Leave things better than you find it.
And our state parks will be here for years and years to come.
Rant over. Have an amazingly beautiful day.
Let It Begin With You
With it being a new year, it seems like everyone automatically hits the “restart” button and is on a search to make their lives… better, more productive; their bodies, healthier, skinnier, stronger. Their thoughts more wholesome, or more private or public, learn more, change for the better.
We all seek transformation.
It makes sense. While the thoughts of these changes may flit about our thoughts for moments or months, the new year gives us a starting date. Walking up to that white line at the beginning of a “race” is intimidating enough, but when the rest of the world is joining you in their various audits, it doesn’t seem as impossible.
The trick is to find what works and what will stay with you for the duration of the project, the goal or the lifetime.
Change must begin with you. It can’t happen from the outside in. There could be circumstances that happen TO us that may force our hand, but in the end, it still has to be our choice. Our change.
The doctor may tell you that if you don’t quit smoking, you will shorten your life by X- amount of time. You must choose how important/valuable that time could be. And then take steps according to the value you’ve placed on his advice. Quit smoking? Cut back? He’s a quack…
In my line of coaching, unfortunately, I do not ask for quick changes. I’m not the one you seek out when you are looking for different food diets to lose a few pounds, or room customizations, or resolutions that will be let go in a few months. My teaching/training/coaching demands so much more. I deal with heart transformation. Life changes. Love changes.
We only have one life and how you are remembered by others, is a question I ask myself on a daily basis and then act accordingly. That is my line of “work”. It my calling to Lead with Love and teach others the same methods.
Now that I’ve lured you in and if you are still reading, perhaps your heart needs some tweaking and you are looking for some ways to take small steps to change your inner-love values*.
Here are just a few, simple suggestions to add to your New Year daily dose of becoming a better person adgenda…
You don’t have to get all creepy and stalker-ish, but don’t you love to be complimented? We are often so hard on ourselves that while we are so busy tearing ourselves down, someone out there thinks you are amazing.
It took me a long time for me to learn how to accept a compliment without downplaying the comment, but now, it is so appreciated because they didn’t have to say anything. They could have kept their comments to themselves, but they chose to share it with me. And so often, I am so surprised that I am twice as grateful that whatever it was had not escaped their notice. And belive me, your kind words will stay with that someone for a long time to come.
Another benefit of compliments, is it helps to build up another person’s self-esteem. And as we all know, the stronger your self love foundation, the stronger you are able to withstand harmful words, attentions and actions. Isn’t it better to give someone a stronger shield than to pierce it yourself? (P.S. It ends up building your self confidence as well! Win-win!)
Yes, be yourself, but you can also be considerate.
Remember your manners. Just because they are related to you doesn’t mean you don’t need to say “please” and “thank you”.
Don’t take and take and take- what can you do to give back? So many adults are angry with a family member because they feel they are not getting the attention they feel they deserve. My question to you is, what are YOU doing to participate with the family? How often do YOU reach out to each of THEM?
Aging Parents- It’s taken an enormous amount of time, money, effort, patience and love to raise you into adulthood. Don’t take it for granted. Be respectful. Be patient. It is such a difficult thing to KNOW that you are not as sharp or as healthy or as quick as you once were. It’s not like they don’t know of the changes happening in their lives. Life is busy. You have a life of your own. But don’t forget that at one time you were their whole life. Keep them in the loop.
I hope these simple starters are tiny little adjustments that you could add to your “attitude regiment” to have really and truly a happier and heart healthy new year and lasting relationships.
* For more reading, Love Begins With You is available on Amazon!
When you are asked the question, what is love? It can conjure up definitions, quotes, stories, experiences and scripture. And while every single one of those has truth, I'm going to oversimplify the definition today.
Love means putting others first.
There you go. Done.
Botom line, love means putting others before yourself. Seem too simple? Let's break it down.
When you love someone or want to show love to someone, anyone, you want their happiness. And you are willing to put your needs second to ensure their happiness. No one shows this better than a parent.
Our children eat before we do... Our children sleep before we sleep... Our children get new clothes, haircuts, new toys, new technology and we are playing catch-up; happy with the few moments to ourselves in the bathroom! Lol
No matter how old our children are... you never lose that feeling. I would do everything in my power for my children if that was in their best interest. I love them with every fiber of my being. It comes natural to me.
In our intimate relationships, the same is applied. If you want nothing more than your partner to be happy, and he/she want's nothing more than your happiness, then you have found the right equation.
What things do you do in your relationships to see that your love relationships are your priority?
When you love someone else, you are constantly thinking, what would be in their best interest?
Selfishness thinks only of oneself. Love thinks of others.
It's not about what you can get. The power you can wield. It's about what you can give. How can you help? What can you do to make their life easier? What would make them smile?
It's not about following blindly, or losing yourself within someone else. It's about helping them to shine and you grow from their glow.
Love is shown in similar forms all day every day and can be displayed with everyone you meet.
Love is opening the door for someone else.
...letting someone go in front of you in line.
... buying someone else's order.
Following the simplicity of this rule, sometimes, showing love, by putting others first isn't always easy. At times, there are tough choices to be made still keep their best interests in mind.
By putting others first, does not mean you become a doormat. (That is usually the first argument I get when I talk on this.) It does not mean you have to do whatever the other person says, just to make them happy. It does not mean that you have to go against your beliefs or endanger you or your family in any way. If they ask you to do any of those things, they are not seeing you through eyes of love and you will have to make some tough decisions.
Sometimes you have to make that call to the addiction hotline to get your love some help.
Sometimes it means you have to walk away from an abusive relationship to save yourself.
Sometimes you have to stand firm on a decision if it means the best for your family.
Love does NOT mean to follow blindly. If the other person loved you, was putting YOU first, you wouldn't have to be making these difficult decisions. You can love them, still, and love yourself too. By putting others first, it is a sacrifice. But you shouldn't be in love by yourself.
Recognize love coming back to you. Recognize when it does not.
Love is putting others first. The end. If the ones you are in a relationship with are not putting you first? They are not in love. If you are not putting them first? Guess what? You're not in love either.
Every couple is going to have disagreements, arguments and maybe even a few knock down drag outs, and all will be well, but I promise you, there will be times when a line has been crossed and your only way to mend the wound is by offering an apology.
Why is "I'm Sorry" so hard for some people to say?
I'm pretty sure it's a pride thing. When you are willing apologize to someone, you first have to admit that you did something wrong. And who likes to do that? Next, you have to put your partner's feelings above your own, and acknowledge that you have caused harm. A humbling task.
Pride is a powerful thing to set down. But if you continually:
-pretend that an offense never happened
-downplay the hurt
-refuse to take ownership of the infraction
-avoid communicating (with the intent of resolution)
... then pride will destroy your trust, intimacy and may even destroy the relationship itself.
Don't let pride steal the intimacy from your relationship. Allow yourself to be vulnerable to the fact that you just might be at fault.
Avoiding the conversation is not the same thing as resolving it!! By pretending the offense never happened will do far more damage in the long run. You may be able to distract your partner a time or two or charm them into forgetting the offense this time, but believe me, it will catch up to you. No amount of charm or chocolates are going to save you now!!
So go ahead. Do the deed. Don't put it off any longer. Take responsibility for hurting your partner's feelings and do what needs to be done to salve it. Not sure how to go about it?
Here are a few tips:
- Just start by saying it. I'm sorry. (That will get their attention!) But don't stop there...
-address the problem (I'm sorry for...) Let your partner know that you are acknowledging the unhappy emotions you caused. This, usually means more than anything else you can say. Try to identify with your partner's feelings. It may not seem like a big deal to you, but it is to your partner. Don't argue your point, use this as a chance to try and understand.
-really make an effort to say and show how you are going to change in the future in case a similar situation arises. What's the point of apologizing if you have no intention to change? Make sure your partner knows you regret causing the pain and that you sincerely want to work toward a resolution.
-ask for forgiveness. These words are truly humbling and powerful. By asking for forgiveness, it shows that you are choosing to start again with different behaviors. It encourages trust.
-do what you say. Trust grows when you demonstrate the changes in your actions and behaviors that will benefit the relationship.
When NOT to say "I'm sorry"
-when you don't mean it anyway and you're just trying to "move things along".
-not every conflict requires an apology- just be sensitive to times when you know you have crossed the line. You'll know. You'll feel it. And if you don't, the silence will usually let you know.
-if you're just going to deflect it. (When you actually turn the offense back on your partner- guilt) "I'm sorry if you think...." or "I wouldn't have ____ if you hadn't ___" "It's not my fault if you took it that way..."
-if you're just going to take your partner down with you. "I'm sorry, but remember that time when you did ___ to me?"
-and worst of all, if you're just going to repeat the same offense time and again.
Sometimes it may take a few hours or maybe even a few days before the emotions settle down and you can discuss the offense with your partner. Take that breath. Don't storm off or slam doors, just let them know you need a break. This is not the opportunity to hope they "forget about it". If you want to make things right, you're eventually going to have to address it. Just do it, and get back to loving.
Sometimes it may take a while to be forgiven. And that is their right. If you hurt some one and they need time to grieve, allow them that time. And when they do come to accept your apology, be gracious. Don't hold a grudge or get defensive, allow for reconciliation.
I hope this helps. Too many relationships are being slowly shifted a part because of the pride that blocks the apology. We all make mistakes. Take the responsibility to own up to yours. Make things right, make the changes and grow closer together.
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Ahh, the month of l'amour... (read in a very thick French accent) Love is everywhere. Flowers, gifts, cards, wedding proposals... February creates the feeling of passion, romance and long lasting love.
I don't want to be the one to pop your shiny helium balloon or anything, 'cause I'll be the first one to go all crazy for Valentine's Day, but just because it is the month that invokes the spirit of love... does not mean that love is what you are feeling!!
Sadly, I am here to tell you what Love. Is. Not.
And it breaks my heart to do so, because I want everyone who wants it to feel those butterflies and goosebumps of love. I want everyone to find that special someone that will stay with them forever- through thick and thin, good times and bad, fat days and skinny days, and all that stuff. But just because it is Valentine's Day does not make it so...
A client of mine had recently gotten away from an abusive relationship. He was both physically and emotionally abusive. He was her addiction. But she finally broke free and moved back in with family for support. She started going to church and became an active participant. Through our sessions she began to realize the destructive behavior and how it impacted her life and the lives of her children. She began to see that maybe this wasn't love, because love doesn't do those terrible things and cause pain to each other. Love only lifts you up. Love never tears you down or manipulates.
She had cut off communication and went out of her way to avoid seeing him and took this time to concentrate on healing. She had to realize that she could live without him, that she was addicted to him lustfully, and that she did not deserve to be treated in such a harmful, manipulative way.
Enter Valentine's Day. In walks Mr. Wonderful with a bouquet of flowers and a shiny helium balloon... oh, and one more thing... a ring. My client went blind, deaf and dumb but still managed to accept his proposal.
"He said he was going to change. The Lord told me to forgive him. If I am supposed to be a good Christian, I should give him another chance. He loves me."
I was speechless. She was in her moment of euphoria so, she wouldn't hear a word I said, so... I'm saying it to you.
What Love Is Not....
Forgiveness. Yes Forgive. Yes, always forgive. Because forgiveness is more for you than the other person. It allows you to heal and move forward and not give others control over your emotions. Yes, forgive. Even in the hardest, most painful of circumstances... forgive. But forgiving is not forgetting. Saying that, hear this- Just because you forgive does not mean that they should stay in your life. Let me say that again. Just because you forgive someone, does not mean they still belong in your life! Not all relationships are meant to last forever especially if they are abusive. You are not being a loving, forgiving person if you allow someone back into your life that is going to continue the same behavior. You know why? You are not loving yourself! That is unhealthy!! You deserve better!! Yes, people can change, but if this is the twelfth time you've forgiven and tried over... chances are, no change is going to take place. You've already proven to them that you will take them back no. matter. what. That is not love. To allow yourself to be treated anything less that amazing... that is not love.
Actions speak louder than words. Just because they say it, doesn't mean their behavior backs up their words. Sometimes we want to hear those words so badly that we tend to turn a blind eye to bad behavior. People can only be artificial for so long. Eventually their real, true self will come to the surface. You know it. You see it... but you chose not to. Those three little words are magic. But if the way they treat you and others contradicts those beautiful words, see it and believe it. It is not love.
Being taken advantage of is not love. When you are someone's second choice, and not their priority, that is not love. If they wait to find out if there are any other offers besides yours before they give you a commitment, that is being taken advantage of. And if you are willing to drop your plans because they called at the last minute, you are allowing yourself to be taken advantage of. If they can't put your first, get out of their way. You deserve someone that will be into the relationship just as much as you.
If you have to try to convince someone to love you... they are not for you. You don't match. It's not necessarily a bad thing! Not everyone is going to get along with everyone else! Don't try to force love. Don't look for things that aren't there. Don't try and change someone into your idea of the ideal mate because you will only be hurt in the end. Love is not forced. You shouldn't have to try so hard to make a relationship work. If there isn't a foundation that you can build on, that is not love.
Disrespect is not love. When someone realizes that they pretty much have a green light to do whatever they want, because you'll always take them back they will continue to respect you less and less. They will wear down your standards; coerce you to have you bend your belief system. They aren't as afraid of losing you as you are of them. When someone disrespects you, it is better to remove yourself from that person. They will never suddenly see your worth. And if you continually drop your standards ("yes, he cheated, but I know he was sorry") they will continually cross that new line. And soon, you will feel shallow and empty waiting for them to love you the way you imagined they would. Let them go.
Love is never hateful. Or abusive. Or harmful. If someone lays a heavy hand on you. That is not love. They may think they love you, they may honestly believe they love you, but love is not designed to hurt. More likely than not, it is an addiction. Addictions are possessive, love is freeing. If someone loves you, they would never, ever want to see you in pain. If they love you, they will not cheat on you. No exceptions. If they love you, they will not leave you. If they love you, they will let you know. You won't have to wonder. If they love you, they will have your best interest at heart. You won't have to force them to want to be with you.
Walking away isn't easy. We all want love. We want to feel the joy of love and sometimes we think that if we just keep trying, we can love someone enough for both people. That is not love. And when you keep trying and keep trying waiting for a different outcome, you only sink deeper and deeper into that loveless hole. They are not going to change. So you either have to tolerate their behavior or walk away, loving yourself enough to start again. I vote for the loving yourself option. The right one IS out there, when you are ready. But you can't really give yourself to someone else to love, when the love is not already there within you.
Don't settle for anyone just to have a someone. That... is not love. Be patient. Take care of you. Do what you need to do so that when love comes along, you'll be ready. You'll recognize it for what it is... and what it isn't.
I'm fascinated at how couples work. What makes two people stick it out to make a relationship work. What is it about one person over another that makes men decide to commit to that one person for the rest of their life? So, I've been asking married men "What's the secret to a happy marriage?" for months now, and I've pulled out a select few to share with you and I think you'll find their answers compelling, emotional, funny and heart-warming. So without further ado and in no particular order, I give you Men's Secret to a Happy Marriage...
Mark M. Married 24 years:
"I married my high school sweet heart. I'd say it would have to be patience. On both our parts."
Pete L. Married 53 years:
"It's a give and take. Lord knows I'm not perfect. We take it one day at a time. One day at a time."
Ken E. Married 26 years:
"Suffering through chicken night with a smile on my face for twenty-six years!"
Matt C. Married 7 years:
"Having kids. Seeing that it's a bit of each of you; you created them, together. It makes you want to try harder."
Bill W. Married 40 years:
"Don't sweat the small stuff and it all ends up being small stuff."
Jeff O. Married 31 years:
"Be intentional. Make her a priority."
Harmon C. Married 38 years:
"I don't make any decisions without her. (I basically do what she tells me to do!) It took me about twenty years to figure that out."
Bill J. Married 27 years:
"Wait. Don't get married until you're WAY out of adolescence. I waited until I was thirty-six. Then, just take it one day at a time."
Mark M. Married 26 years:
"When it comes to money, come to a mutual agreement. Listen. Not just listen, but hear her. And... don't make sports THE top priority!"
Larry S. Married 51 years:
"Always put her first. Make sure her needs are taken care of. She does the same for me."
John S. Married 42 years:
"Have the same religious base... and forgiveness. You're going to make a lot of mistakes. Forgiveness is a must.
Russ I. Married 6 years:
"Find someone that will put up with you!"
Jim L. Married 52 years:
"Just keep saying 'Yes Dear'!"
Bill H. Married 43 years:
"Communication... and don't lie. She tells me everything and I tell her everything. You can lie to anyone else, but don't lie to each other. That's the fastest way to lose trust. I know I can trust her about anything and she trusts that I will always be there for her."
Thirudathi R. Married 30 years:
"Trust. Trust is the key."
Dave H. Married 55 years:
"She's always right!"
Kevin N. Married 39 years:
"The minister said till death do us part. That means for the good and bad. So, that was that."
Ulli H. Married 35 years:
"Trust. If you cross that line, you can't go back."
Jerry D. Married 54 years:
"Always love each other. No matter what. And learn to compromise."
Knowles T. Married 39 years:
"I believe in communicating and sticking it out through thick and thin and forgiving."
Bob O. Married 27 years:
"Compromise. It's not so much about me but rather 'us'. Pay her a compliment every day. It costs little but it means so much."
Ken G. Married 49 years:
"Tolerance. And let me tell you that when you work so hard at being tolerant in your marriage, you're allowed to be LESS tolerant in other areas. Mine is driving. I go so irritated with ignorant drivers! Especially in traffic!"
David O. Married 55 years:
"Patience. Love and patience."
Matt M. Married 20 years:
"Respect each other."
John K. Married 38 years:
"The wife rules!! But other than that, I think openness and honesty."
Martin V. Married 5 years:
"Wait fifty years! I wasn't going to be a statistic, so I waited for the right one. It was lonely, and I thought I was going to be a bachelor forever and then I met her."
Charles E. Married 14 years:
"Know when to shut up."
A few were kind enough to answer a bonus question for me...
How did you know she was the one?
John K: Married 38 years:
"We dated for five years. I don't know, it was just... a feeling."
Martin V. Married 5 years:
"We met at a group meeting for people who have seizures. And I loved her personality."
Thirudathi R. Married 30 years:
"We went to school together. I really liked her. We were just on the same frequency. I went to my father and asked if I could marry her and he arranged it. We started as friends that turned into love." (He comes from India and their marriages are usually arranged for them.)
Bill H. Married 43 years:
"We lived in the same neighborhood and I even delivered the newspaper to her house. But we didn't go out on a date until after we graduated. I tried to fight it. I didn't want to settle down, but everyone else knew she was the one. I got sent away for a few months because of my job, and I just didn't want to be without her. Or worse, I didn't want her to find somebody else! Finally, I didn't want to fight it any more."
Russ I. Married 6 years:
(See his above comment!) "She put up with me!"
John S. Married 42 years:
"She told me. I was in the service and we were separated for three months. I couldn't stand it. I was only eighteen and had to have my mom sign for permission to allow me to get married! I got leave and we got married. We haven't been separated since."
Thank you gentlemen for talking with me and being able to offer up these insights to my readers. I love hearing everyone's stories, and I'd love to hear yours too! Do you have a secret to share? What's the secret to your happy relationship and how did you know that your mate was "the one"?
Healthy relationships are based on compromise. Each person has to play their part and not expect one person to do all the giving while the other is doing all the taking.
You’ve heard me say that I think relationships should be not 50/50, but 100/100. This leaves nothing to chance. If you are both taking 100% responsibility for the health and well-being of the relationship, then nothing can fall through the cracks.
- If you are the one in the relationship who is constantly giving and not getting your love returned, it may last for a while. You could even think you’re happy for years, but eventually, your supply of giving without getting will be depleted. When your love and efforts are not being reciprocated, the relationship will fall out of balance. You could become bitter expecting it to change and it never does. Self-doubt creeps in wondering what you’re doing wrong; wondering why your partner doesn’t want to give back automatically. Depression can come in to play because you are not feeling loved and appreciated. Love lifts you up. Love is giving and kindness. Love is encouraging. Love is healing. If these things do not surround you, you are in the wrong relationship.
- Love does not just happen, people. You both have to give and take. Learn to compromise. Learn what is important to your partner. How does she take in love? What can you do to show him love? Often the way we give love is how we like to receive love. And that may not be what your partner is needing. One of my favorite books is The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. The book points out five different ways that we perceive love. Some feel loved when you hold their hand, others feel more loved when you do nice things or offer a gift. Still others need to talk or go on a picnic. Yes, these are all wonderful things and I’m sure we would all appreciate if our mate did any one of those things, but Mr. Chapman points out that usually one of the languages is our strongest. We respond more to one than another. Get the book, read it together and figure out each other’s love language and then speak it every day. You don’t have to feel it or like it, just do it and you will reap the benefits.
- Learn how to respectfully resolve conflict. Your relationship cannot be based on a scoring system. There is no winning or losing. You need to give up the “my way or else” attitude. You’re not going to agree on everything and it’s okay to have strong convictions about some things, but you are in this together and your partner deserves a chance to be heard and have an opinion. Give and take.
When arguments happen- and they will- keep emotion under control as best you can and try and get through it the best way you can without having any reason for regret. People need to feel they have been heard, try not to storm off. No name calling, it’s disrespectful. Fight fair. Don’t attack, try to use “I” statements to explain how you feel. Keep the past in the past, don’t dredge up old arguments. And focus on the issues at hand. I know it’s not easy when high emotion gets involved but this is only one moment in the life of your relationship and hopefully things can get resolved with a little give and take.
- Sometimes, one of you won’t be feeling up to your usual 100% and you need your partner to step in and take over. If it has been a steady give and take, your partner should fall into this role automatically. The loss of a family member, a physical illness, losing a job… we all have bumps in the road and it makes it easier to get past them when we can rely on our partner to help us through.
When you see your partner in a slump, or feeling reserved, assume that he/she needs more from you and fill that need. Whatever it may be for a couple weeks. Love them back to life, so to speak. Make him/her your priority. Wear something sexy, leave her notes in her briefcase. Make his favorite meal. Love language the heck out of him/her. Or maybe just be patient and step back allowing him/her to let you know what they need.
That’s what so great about love. It’s a growing, breathing, changing thing. If you treat it right it will fulfill you all the rest of your days.
Sometimes, you’ll give more… sometimes you need more. Be with the person that you can balance with.
Other articles you might be interested in:
Watch Your Love Blossom
Share the Love
Love Will Keep Us Together
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