It seems like a simple enough question. What do you want?
I now live on an island. Everyday if I drive more that a few miles, I will inevitably go over a bridge. Looking over the edge of that bridge knowing that the ocean is just a bit away, fills me with joy. Seeing the sunshine bounce off those beautiful blue waves just... does something for me. Simple right? It was a need that I didn't know I had. This time last year, I had to ask myself that question. What do I want? What do I REALLY want? All I knew was that I was cold, and didn't like it. But I didn't know what it was, specifically, that I wanted that would make me happy.
And when you first ask it a whole bunch of "superficial" answers come up. I want cake. I want a million dollars. I want that new dress. I want to travel the world. I want, I want, I want... and then, if you keep at it, you dig a little deeper.
I want more time with my children. I want to sleep peacefully at night. I want to live in a warmer climate. I want to write and write and write... and yes, if you keep going, it gets deeper still. You start to realize those deeper needs; the important ones that get glossed over as we push through our daily routines.
It's hard to look in the mirror and realize that you are not where you want to be. But you can't change that, until you know what you want. So I offer this exercise up to you.
Take out a sheet of paper and write. I WANT...
Then, set a timer for three minutes and write. Write everything you want. Even if it seems outrageous. Even if it seems selfish. Even if it seems impossible. Write. Don't pick up your pen from the paper until the timer goes off. Don't worry about being descriptive or specific or spelling or what anyone else might think. This is for you. Write.
If you get stuck, answer these questions, but keep writing.
Where do you want your finances to be? Where do you want to be health-wise? Who do you want to be with? What items do you want? Where do you want to live? What do you want to own? How do you want to spend your day? What do you want to do to earn an income? How do you want to spend your down time?
Dig deeper. How do you want to give back? How do you want to continue to grow? How do you want to be remembered? How do you want to affect others in your life? How can you show love to others?
When you have finished, choose the top ten things that matter the most to you and re-write them on another clean sheet of paper. This time around, we are looking for balance. Find at least one thing in each category. Finances, relationships, recreation, health, career etc...
You can't find happiness if you don't know what it is. It's like trying to hit a target that you know is "out there" but you just can't see it. Bring it in to focus. Once your brain knows what it is looking for, it will switch gears to try and get it for you. (You have to take the steps to get there, of course...) But the brain will start thinking of ways to get you what you want.
I believe that our purpose here on earth is simple. We are here to give back. Whatever gains you have been blessed with, give some back. I'm not just talking about finances. Giving of your time, your knowledge, your resources, your love... give what you have and it will be returned to you ten-fold. I know this to be true for a fact.
And the other thing, how do you want to grow? I believe that if you get all the best "toys" and are living the biggest house, it will never be enough until you find balance. And part of finding balance is to make sure you're always growing. Learn new things, see new places, meet new people, strive to become a better you.
Okay... sorry, back to the exercise.
Take your ten things in your various categories and write a sentence or two about WHY you want these things. Unveil your heart. Again, this is only for you. Why do you want your top ten list? Your brain functions on reason more than want. So write down the reasons you put this on your top ten. (It would be helpful if you write down more than "just cause". -Can you tell I'm used to working with teenagers? Lol!)
Then, when do you want them. Write a time line for each of the ten items. (You might need to be a little more realistic on this one. If you want a million dollars, it might need a bit more time to show up than 24 hours!)
And then, read your list. Every day. Every night before you go to bed. Keep those things in your mind. And slowly check them off when they come into your life. (Then replace them with new things!)
Yes. Yes. A lot more goes into getting what you want other than making a list. But first thing before all else... you have to know what you want.
So, just for fun. Take a few moments and spend them on yourself and discover what it is that you want.
Some things you may realize that you already have in your life but have perhaps taken them for granted. This is the time to freshen up or take a new look at what's around you. Maybe you don't want things to change too much, but you just have to love (or find new ways to love) what/who you have a little more.
I knew I needed a different life, but I didn't know what. It wasn't until I saw that I really needed to do some major changing to clean out the toxicity in my life, that I could make those changes. And I did. I see the ocean (or at least arms of it) every day. It was one of those things I wanted. Really wanted. And I am happier for it.
I check my list everyday and am pleased to say that I cross things off and replace them with new items all the time. It works to corral your focus and really get what you want.
So let me ask you... What do you want?
(Did somebody say cake?)
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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Sometimes when life gets a little tricky, we tend to think that we are someplace that we were not meant to be. And in the grand scheme of things, that may be true, but whatever brought you to this moment in your life has happened for a reason.
It is easy for us not to face things that are troubling us and so we close our eyes and just hope they go away on their own. But if we keep in mind that everyday, every experience, every meeting can be a learning opportunity. Our mistakes can be used to make us stronger, smarter and help our decisions for the future.
All the choices you have made in your past have brought you to the point to where you stand right now. Good, bad or ugly, you are where you are because of the choices you have made.
There may be reasons that you haven't gotten the success you wanted. It may just be delayed until the time is right or it might not happen at all. I heard a quote from somewhere that says we will be plagued by the same troubles until we have learned the lesson they were sent to teach us. And then another that basically says, What is yours can never miss you (regardless of the paths and sidetracking, if it was meant for you, eventually it will come to you) and what misses you, was never yours. (meaning, there could be things out there that you are struggling with over and over and no matter how hard you try, it will not come to pass.
I had a hard lesson in that example. My history is in the theatre. Live theatre and teaching kids in the arts (dance, drama, art and music). I had helped create and build a theatre company in the early '90's and just assumed that was my path. When I left that theatre company, to start a family, I assumed that I would just open another theatre company where my family resided. That was my path right? But I tried, and struggled and lost thousands of dollars for seven years before one of my student's parents bluntly told me, "Maybe this isn't what you are supposed to be doing."
I was furious! Who did she think she was?! Of course it was! It's all that I know!! I haven't done anything but theatre work for 15 years!! What else would I be doing??
I finally gave in. I was out of money, the Fine Arts Centre that I was running wasn't bringing in enough income... I had to give up. I shut it down, and shut it out of my mind for four years. I had to allow my heart and brain to open up to new ideas and yes, maybe a completely different path for me.
It took a long time and I thought for sure that I was not going to be "allowed" to work with the kids again. But I had to be still long enough to be able to hear God whispering to me.
It has been a long slow journey. There have been many lessons that I have had to learn along the way. And my hard-headedness, didn't make it any easier.
I'm not saying that even if you're on the right path that there won't be bumps and trials. (Hardly!) But as I said before, every day is a chance to learn, to improve, to hear His whispers.
I believe that I am on the right path, for however long, and I am learning to be more sensitive to what the world is trying to tell me. Good, bad or ugly, I am here at this point in my life for a reason. The choices I have made, the decisions I have followed through on and the things I have had to let go... This is my life. I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be.
If you are struggling right now, is there a chance that maybe this is something you're not supposed to have right at this moment? Are there other tasks you are meant to accomplish before "this particular thing" can come to fruition? Are there more teachings, reading, experiences you need to acquire? Are there things, people, places that you are meant to move away from? Or distance yourself from? If you dig deep... could this be the time you need to let go of something that is not meant to be? A hard decision to be sure, but I firmly believe that if you were meant to "have" it, you will. Maybe not now, but when the time is right.
You are where you are supposed to be. Take in all that the universe is trying to teach you and use it to its fullest!
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"?
The command "fear not" is the most repeated command in the Bible. There are over 365 references to calming your fears and anxieties. One for everyday of the year and then some!
Fear is something we all face and handle in different ways. Fear of loss, fear of death, of rejection, of the unknown, even fear of airplanes, spiders, heights, masks, clowns, the number thirteen.... Whew! The list goes on and on. No wonder God made it a priority for His people to know to "fear not, because He is always with us" And for His people, He is patient and reminds us again and again day after day... fear not.
Here are a few of my favorite verses that I use in my daily life and I hope that they are a blessing to you as well.
For all my worriers out there, I keep this one on hand. "Be anxious for nothing." Philippians 4:6 One of my favorites. I use this verse to remind me that things are out of my control. And no matter how much I want to worry and fret, it changes nothing. It doesn't help the situation it only makes me tired and more stressed. So stop worrying, be anxious for nothing.
When the bills pile up around me and I'm afraid I'm not going to have enough money to feed myself or my family, or I'm going to be tossed out on to the street and end up living in a cardboard box, (yes, I've stressed out this much before...) I rely on this verse in Matthew: Therefore I tell you do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on, is not life more than food and body more than clothing? (Matthew 6:25)
He has always taken care of me, and even though my poor choices have put me in some pretty interesting predicaments, He has always provided for me. It may not have been a steak dinner, but, I have never gone without.
We have all been wounded in love before and He tells us to guard our hearts, but He also thinks that love is the greatest thing ever. So, do not give up on love, ever. And when it comes to finding your mate, only the deepest, truest love will do. And you will know when you find it because 1 John 4:18 tells us: There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment and whosoever fears has not been perfected in love.
Do you love in fear or need or do you love in peace and perfection?
In Joshua 1:9, He has no time for foolishness he just puts it out there: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the Lord is with you wherever you go.
Any questions? Didn't think so...
There will be nights that I lay awake wondering, half-planning, half-wishing what I want for my future. I fear that I won't see my children grow and raise their own families. I fear that I'll be stuck cutting hair for the rest of my life. I fear that I will not see my dreams fulfilled. I fear that my body or mind won't be strong enough to get me through the trials of my life. But then Matthew comes to my rescue again and in the 6th chapter and the 34th verse it reads: Do not be anxious about tomorrow for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is it's own trouble.
Leave tomorrow's worries for tomorrow... and then, be anxious for nothing! (Philippians 4:6)
Often we get caught up in feeling the need to defend ourselves. How many times have you been accused of something that you were totally innocent of? Or people would just talk about you behind your back without any cause at all? Or being bullied. You want to shout out and defend yourself, but sometimes things get so escalated that your voice falls on deaf ears. You are resigned to think that everyone will believe the lies. But the Bible says, fear not. You will have your day and the truth will come to the surface. Exodus 14:14 says: The Lord will fight for you and you only have to be silent.
A most popular and favorite passage to deal with your deepest, darkest fears comes from Psalms. The twenty-third Psalm is one of the most read and recognized and most comforting passage from the Bible. Here is the 4th verse: Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me.
It calms me every time.
Another fear that used to haunt me day in and day out was my past. I was not a good person. I was frozen with guilt when I would recall some of the hurtful and hateful things I did once upon a time. And even still, I struggle with letting my past go and forgiving myself but luckily Isaiah 43:1 reminds me that I am saved. I have been forgiven. All my sins have been washed away. It says: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name and you are Mine.
These verses have helped me and continue to help me in my times of trouble. You can take what you find useful and ignore the rest or go digging around for different ones that speak to you. I am not posting these to start any kind of debate or fall into a context argument, but to hopefully offer you peace in a not so peaceful world and bring up the point that if He took the time to tell us over 365 times to fear not, He must have wanted us to do it. I'm just helping you get started.
Trust, children of God, that He sees your fears and he knows what you are going through. Trust that He is faithful.