Fight the good fight

21 Aug

So as the convergence of all the external factors in my life come to an overflow, I sit here in my room crying like a baby.  I feel like I’m at the precipice of the great transformation that is my life, my soul, and my genius.  And it’s a hell of a lot to handle.

In an e-mail correspondence from a mother of a friend this week, she said she “followed my blog”.  That struck a painful chord in my heart because it was past tense.  She wasn’t currently following it because I’m not currently writing it.  She also said I “had a gift” which also struck a C-Minor chord in my heart.  Because I wonder why am I not using my gift?  Why is it so hard to do what I love to do?  Why do the vast majority of humans on this Earth not use their gift or follow their calling?  I know why we think we can’t. And that life takes us to unexpected and sometimes unavoidable paths.  I know that resistance plays a huge role too.

I’m currently reading, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield – a book about the role Resistance plays in our life and how to stay the course of our true calling whether it be an artist, a writer, or an entrepreneur, any endeavor we so choose.  In the chapter about Life and Death he goes on to tell a story of Tom Laughlin (Actor and also Jungian-school psychologist) and how his foundation battles cancer.  He lectures that the moment a person learns they have terminal cancer there is a profound shift in their psyche.  Things that seemed to matter 60 seconds prior to the diagnosis are now poofs of smoke that have evaporated into thin air.  No longer in existence.   And things, people, and concerns that they had until that moment in time dismissed, now are of the utmost importance.

Other thoughts start racing through the mind of the newly diagnosed terminal patient; thoughts about the gift he once had for music or for a passion not pursued.  Laughlin conjectures that with our looming fate hanging over our heads we call assumptions into question.  Why are we here?  Have I lived my life right?  Is there anything in my life left undone?

Laughlin believes that what happens in that moment is a conscious shift from the Ego to the Self. Pressfield writes,

“The Self, as Jung defines it, is a greater entity, which includes the Ego but also incorporates the Personal and Collective Unconscious.  Dreams and intuitions come from the Self. The archetypes of the unconcscious dwell there. It is, Jung believed, the sphere of the soul”.

The world is anew when we view it from the Self as opposed to the Ego, which dictates our day to day life, our decisions, our rational thinking.  The Laughlin foundation treats cancer this way.  They urge to not only have a mental shift but to live it out in their day to day lives.  “He supports a housewife into resuming her life in social work, urges the businessman to return to the violin, assists the Vietnam Vet to write his novel.  Miraculously, cancers go into remission”.

The last paragraph of the chapter reads like this, “Is it possible, Tom Laughlin asks, that the disease itself evolved as a consequence of actions taken (or not taken) in our lives? Could our unlived lives exacted their vengeance upon us in the form of cancer? And if they did, could we cure ourselves, now, by living these out?”

My immediate thought was of my Aunt Lou.  What were her passions, her dreams?  What would she have done in an infinite world of possibility? What were her thoughts of when she received the diagnosis that soon took her life?  Tears start to flow as I realize that I don’t even really know her.  I was 10 when she passed.  Then my thoughts shift to what would my dad do?  My mom?  If they had a “do-over” and could do anything in the world they wanted, what would it be?  What have they sacrificed in their lives for me and my sister?  What are the lives they’re not living and the genius they could offer the world if uncovered?  My thoughts drift to my amazing cousin, who is going through this hell as I type, what would he do?  What are his dreams unlived?

This seems so simple yet so impossible.  And to those in this position or the family members battling right along side our loved one’s facing the end might meet these statements with anger, but what if?  What if there’s merit to this?  At the very least it goes to show the importance of living our life in accordance with our soul’s desires and living a life without regret.    Showing up and being present in our live’s everyday.  Blood, sweat, tears; leaving it all out on the field. Everyday.

For me, that is the lesson I choose to takeaway from this.  And also, to take the time to ask my mom and my dad the next time I see them what they could do if the world were boundless.  To learn about their desires and to help them pursue them.  To know them better and gain wisdom from their years and to bestow upon them my lofty, idealistic ways.  To show them it’s never to late to live your dreams.   To teach my nieces and maybe one day my own child these lessons now, while their young, and to always encourage them to follow their heart’s compass throughout their life.  To not let the dogma that inevitably comes breach their precious, untainted souls.  To not feel the pain that I feel as I read Pressfield’s words of a life not lived.

I know I’m young and I can turn things around for myself starting today.  I also know that every day is an uphill journey.  Possibly a journey that will never have a final destination other than death.  I’m going to stay the course, and I’m going to take as many of you down this road as will go with me.  To keep fighting the good fight.  To make the most of this gift we call life before our expiration date arrives.  Instead of bidding the day adieu with thoughts of fear, anxiety, and remorse I want to close my eyes with a sense of peace and tranquility.  To know I’ve done all I can do on this day.  Forever more.

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Byron Katie and Oprah – Part 3 (final part)

27 May

I can’t post videos 1 and 2 without at least putting the third one up as well.  This is the final part of the interview with Oprah.

This concept feels radical at times. But at the end of it all, you can’t help but think, “this woman might have a point”.  I do like that she points out that you’re only a victim if you allow yourself to be one and really emphasizes the importance of personal accountability.

Enjoy the final piece of the puzzle and thank you for doing my homework with me!

Byron Katie and Oprah – Part 2

25 May

This is really powerful stuff.  At times, very hard to accept, especially for me when it comes to mortality.  But very powerful none the less.

Our thoughts have such a powerful grip on our reality.  Imagine life without those negative thoughts. Thoughts such as; I’m too fat, I’m worthless, how could he ever love someone like me, I wasn’t there for him, etc.  What if by not believing them, you stripped them of all their power?   You would undoubtedly find peace, contentment and joy.  And what if, just what if,  the opposite was actually true?

It’s easy for someone like Bryon Katie to explain that death is beautiful and you’re meant to be happy for the person who has passed, but in your heart it doesn’t make sense and it’s very painful.    With each passing time you think about your loved one gone, she poses the idea that you’re actually feeling immense love instead of sadness.  And over time, grieving, the sting goes away and you’re just left with love.  That person isn’t really gone.  They’re still alive in your mind when you’re reliving their memory.  Is that the true process of grieving?   Learning to let go of that thought of sadness and replacing it with love.  And letting go of the guilt for feeling happy and moving on with your life.

But how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking doesn’t change what is.  That person’s physical body is gone.  But that doesn’t make them not there, does it?  It doesn’t change the fact that we wish they were still there but alas, we have no control over that.  Sometimes this is a hard pill to swallow, but I think there might be something to it.

Oprah goes on to discuss issues such as her weight and goes through “the work” with Byron Katie.  You’ll see Oprah’s negative thought stopped dead in it’s tracks.  It truly is a powerful process of inquiry.  Sometimes, this stuff seems way too far “out there”.  That there is not place for it in “reality”.  But what is reality anyway?  A made up story we tell ourselves to justify what is.  Why not change our realities?  Do we really have the power to do that?   I don’t know.  It’s an interesting question though isn’t it?

Take a look and judge for yourselves.

Loving What Is

24 May

So I sit here on vacation overlooking the picturesque Tillamook Bay in Garibaldi, Oregon and I’m having a revelation.    And I’m struck repeatedly with goosebumps, which almost always come after epiphanies and cold weather.   And let me tell you, it isn’t because of the weather.

It’s early in the morning before anyone in the house is awake and I decide to continue on my life coaching modules, now that I have the time and mental capacity to do so.

I have enrolled in a life and business coaching program through Abundant Yogi.  It’s especially tailored for those in the yoga/wellness industry and subscribes to a lot of Buddhist philosophies as well as other mindfulness teachings.  One such teaching is “The Work” by a woman named Byron Katie.

Bryon Katie is an author of several books and created “The Work” based on experiences she had in her own life.  The idea behind this whole thing is believing our own, made-up, negative stories about ourselves and what is happening in our lives.  Feelings of worthlessness, being lost, misunderstanding; either the world not understanding us and our problems or us not understanding the world and it’s problems, hopelessness, etc.  She has designed this line of inquiry to help us navigate and curb those negative thoughts and the inevitable trip down the rabbit hole.

My homework assignment this module was to watch an interview that Oprah Winfrey did with Byron Katie as part of her Soul Series on XM radio.  I urge you to take 20 minutes out of your day and watch part 1 of the interview series.  You can listen to it here.  

This stuff is really transformational.  I think a lot of people can try to think that they are exempt from this, or that it’s “hokey”, “new age” crap.  But I’m here to tell you that this is the most relevant thing you will hear, see, do all day.  All week.  And quite possibly all year.   Listening to this with an open mind and more importantly with an open heart, might just change your life.  If you’re looking for true transformation, spaciousness in your life, and just peace and joy, then please, take the time to listen to this.

If you like what you see/hear then by all means, dig into Byron Katie’s stuff!  I’ve also included a link to a PDF that you can read here.   Or you can access it at her website, thework.com

According to the intro, this booklet “presents the essence of The Work of Byron Katie. Each year, thousands of these booklets are sent by request, at no charge, to non-profit organizations around the world, helping people discover the life-changing power of inquiry”.

My people, I feel this is part of my plan on Earth. My passion is to help others through self-inspection, self-awarenss, self-inquiry, and self-transformation.  I’m going through this stuff trying to sort out my own life, but part of my purpose is to be a conduit where information and experience can flow through me and into you.

The trip to North Dakota started as one to prosper financially, but it ended up being so much more.  It’s a trip to find peace and balance in this crazy life!  I want you to look at me and think, “well, if she can do it, so can I!”  Not in a negative way but in a real way.  A lot of stuff you hear or read is so far out there in theory and overwhelming that you don’t know where to start or how to stay on the path.  It helps to see a friend or acquaintance or even just someone you respect to go through it and/or to share it.

You follow or read my blog for different reasons; you love me and want to stay updated, general curiosity, boredom, whatever it may be.  I’m glad you’re here.  This is life, guys.  We only get one shot.  I know it’s hard and some of us are dealt a shitty hand,   but let’s try not listen to our own made up stories about what we think is reality and live in hopelessness, depression, and negative ways.  Love what is.  Learn to let go.  It’s the only shot we have of living a life with true peace, joy and love.

I’m constantly struggling to do these things myself.  But I’m here and I’m willing to put in the work.  My life is an open book for you.  Do the work with me.

Cheers!  Please have a safe and blessed weekend remembering our fallen soldiers.  If not for them and their sacrifice, I wouldn’t be able to even be sitting in this beautiful place with the freedom to write these powerful words to all of you.

And as always, thanks for reading.

March 2015 Issue of Simply Hers

24 Mar

Hey there all,

The moment you’ve all been waiting for is finally here…  Ok, maybe not, but the latest issue of Simply Hers is online! Yay!

You can read my latest article written for Simply Hers by clicking here.  There are some great articles in this issue, including one on the area’s influential women of days past and also a great piece on understanding autism.

My article is on page 30.  Enjoy!  And as always, thanks for reading!

Cheers!

Ashley

(Anyone in Southern Michigan you can “like” Simply Hers on Facebook to follow the publication or go to Issue.com – Or, just wait for me to post it… May be a few years so I recommend the other two options! Hah!)

 

 

I’ll be your Huckleberry

8 Mar

Women of the world, take ten minutes out of your day and read this.  If you have daughters, sons, mothers, grandmothers, or any woman in your life, then this is for you.  So pretty much everyone.  Read this. 

Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day.  According to their website,  “International Women’s Day (8 March) is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future”.  This day, which is actually a national holiday in places like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria  (but not the United States I just want to point out), “suffragettes campaigned for women’s right to vote. International Women’s Day honours the work of the Suffragettes, celebrates women’s success, and reminds of inequities still to be redressed. The first International Women’s Day event was run in 1911. The tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother’s Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers”.

Why, you might be asking yourself, is she writing about this?  Is this even noteworthy?  The fact is that if that thought even crossed you’re mind, then my point is already made.  There is still so much about gender equality, women’s rights and the general treatment of women as a commodity that needs to be addressed.  ESPECIALLY in the United States!  Yes, we get most of the same rights as men and we’re able to do a lot more than women around the world, but I’m talking about how we are regarded, personally and professionally, why we’re held to a higher standard than men and scrutinized even more than men. And the way our youth and our men, and especially ourselves, treat and think about a woman’s role in the world is severely fucked up.

I’ve had some things happen to me in the past few weeks that have really been driving this home for me. I live in a heavily male populated area where testosterone is so thick, you can actually smell the musk in the air.  And in this male driven town, I deal blackjack in the town’s strip club.  So I am thrust into a Testosterone Apocalypse daily.  Rest assured, I’d feel much safer with Zombies running amok than half of these men (and I use that term loosely).

Just last night at work this is an actual conversation that took place between me and one of our regular douches;

Me: “Hey, you jumping in to play?”

Douche: “No, I think I’m just going to give all of my money to the strippers instead of you tonight”

Me: “Fair enough, but it hasn’t been that bad lately!”

Douche: “Yeah right, for as much money as I have given to you and tipped you, you should take of your clothes for me”

Me: *Fury shooting out of my eyeballs* “For the measly $2.50 you tip me a night (he is a shitty tipper but the worst kind of shitty tipper because he thinks he tips good), you’re lucky you get a smile let alone me taking my clothes of for you”

Douche: “Wow, mouth!” *With his jaw hanging wide open*

Me: “What gives you the right to think you can talk to me like that?  If you’re going to treat me like that, then why should I worry about how I treat you?”

Douche: *Jaw still gapping (I have the feeling he’s never had a woman talk to him like this before) “Well… uh… that’s.. uh, not what I meant.  You don’t need to get all bent out of shape over it” (victim-blaming at it’s finest, now I’M the one out of line)

Me: “Well you said, ‘for as much money as I tip you, you should take your clothes off for me’. How am I not supposed to take offense to that?”

He cashed out and went home.  If I would have known that’s all it took to get rid of him, I’d have tried it ages ago.

Sunday night, I had two guys playing, lets call them Sleaze #1 and Sleaze #2, and they were not winning.

Sleaze #1 says to Sleaze #2, “I’m cashing out.  I don’t really like blackjack I’m more of a poker guy”

Sleaze #2 replies: “Well you can poke her (referring to me) unless she’s married or has a boyfriend”

Me to Sleaze #2: “Or unwilling…..” (Sleaze #1 take great offense to this)

Then Sleaze #1 says to me: “I’m not tipping you anymore because you won’t have sex with me”

My response: “Well that’s quite alright seeing as how I don’t fuck people for money”

Then Sleaze #1 says to sleaze #2: “Fuck this. What a bitch, she’s probably a lesbian anyway” (Sleaze #2 smirking and nodding like the dipshit he is).

I keep it cool for a while (mind you, they are literally 18 inches away from me and treat me as if I am deaf and can’t hear their remarks).  I smile and relish in the fact that I am taking all of their money and that they’ll go away soon.  Which sleaze #1 does and as he’s cashing out with my coworker I hear him tell her that “I have no personality and was being rude”.  And finally I just say, “Yes… I MUST be a rude, lesbian because I don’t want to be objectified or hit on by sleazy old men”.  The Sleaze #2 gets all embarrassed and says, “that’s not what my friend meant” *bullshit* and that “he’s really a nice guy” *also bullshit* and that he grew up with 4 sisters, loves women, and was sticking up for us *largest, stinking pile of bullshit I’ve ever heard.. I was 18 inches away and heard him mucking it up the first sleaze ball*

This is the second time in a few week period that I have been called a lesbian because I stick up for myself and my co-workers.  A few weeks ago this guy grabbed my co-worker’s hand, spun her around and checked out her ass, and was like, “damn girl”, and he would not let go of her hand.  Poor girl was trying to be polite yet trying to get away from this predator. I go over there and seriously go off on this guy.  Telling him to never touch one of my employees again.  He says with a smile, “oh, you’re one of those”.  Referring to me being a lesbian because I was protective over the vile treatment of another woman.  It’s days like this I wish I was into women, because at least they’d understand how to treat a woman!!!

WHAT GIVES ANYONE THE RIGHT TO THINK THIS IS OK???????

No woman deserves to be treated this way.  Whether they are working in a titty bar or not.  I am so sick and damn tired of being called a bitch because I am sticking up for myself and others. Because I won’t stand for being treated as a second rate commodity that is there for you to say and do what you please with.  And I’m just supposed to sit, look pretty, and smile.  I got two words for you; Fuck you.

Like the famous Doc Holliday once said, “I’ll be your huckleberry”. (although I was told it was actually huckleberrer, but that is for another blog)  Come at me, bro.  You’d better be ready for a fight.  Because I will never lie and take it.

And what is with the way we treat women in the workplace?  Women CEO’s are held to higher standards than men and more publicly scrutinized.  We’re called things like emotional or that we care too much.  Not only that but we have to face sexism, discrimination, and sexual harassment in all forms.

According to a report published by the American Management Association, in 2014 women only account for 4.8% of CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies. That’s only up 4.2% since 1997 (THAT’S 15 YEARS!!).  Part of the problems is this barrier, a 2011 McKinsey report noted that men are promoted on potential where women are promoted on accomplishments.   This means we have to already prove we can do it before we’re looked at while men, they’re given the opportunity just based on potential that they can do it.   We have to prove ourselves more. Proof? Here you go, according to that AMA study I just mentioned, “For example, despite the fact that more women than men graduated from US colleges with bachelor’s degrees in every year since 1982, (OVER THE LAST 30 YEARS!!!) only 1.1% of women earn $150,000 or more compared to 4% of men”.

Let’s take this fight to Hollywood (a comparison that all of America seems to take pretty seriously for some reason..)

Actress Jennifer Garner is married and has a few kids with Ben Affleck, another Blockbuster actor in Hollywood. After attending a press event together, she commented;

“[E]very single person who interviewed me, I mean every single one — and this is true of the red carpet here tonight, Elle — asked me, ‘How do you balance work and family?’ and he said the only thing that people asked him repeatedly was about the tits on the ‘Blurred Lines’ girl [Affleck’s ‘Gone Girl’ co-star, Emily Ratajkowski], which, for the record if we’re talking about them, they are real and they are fabulous. Take a look and enjoy.”

“As for work-life balance, he said no one asked him about it that day,” she continued. “As a matter of fact, no one had ever asked him about it. And we do share the same family. Isn’t it time to kinda change that conversation?” (Huffington Post)

A professor at the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that possible root causes for this gender inequality could be sex discrimination, male driven workplaces that stifle women’s progress and success, childcare responsibilities, or demographic changes.  Well, duh.

Not only are their copious amounts of external barriers but there are also several internal barriers.  Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, wrote a book called Lean In.  In the book she describes how woman really can strive to “have it all”.  How to balance work with home life in our male driven world.  One thing she says is women essentially opt-out of the professional world or trying to build and advance their career because of the need and want to have a family.  Instead of leaning in, they take their foot off of the accelerator and coast through and focus solely on having their families, whether already in existence or the family they plan to have.  Although I don’t disrespect anyone for making this choice, we all have to do what is right for us, I will say that I think there is an intrinsic pressure that has come from generations of women staying home to raise babies while the men go off to work mentality.

Legendary business mogul Warren Buffett himself has attributed one of the reasons for his great success is that he was only competing with half of the population. Referring to the lack of women in power.   He is also quoted as saying, “I mean, my sisters are as smart or smarter than I am, and my parents loved them with the same degree of intensity that they loved me, but they had different expectations about them, their teachers had different expectations about them. And just think of the waste that occurred you know for decades and decades and decades. But that day is largely over. It’s in transformation, but as you look around here, that transformation is coming along”. (Genius.com)

I think the feminist movements in the past are largely seen as “complete”.  Although we have progressed beyond burning bras and a lot of women have advantages that past generations fought so generously for us to have, we still have a long way to go.  And this isn’t just bitter women griping to complain. We are still treated so poorly in society.  This isn’t just theory, I, myself have been severely mistreated in society and pressured to “act correctly”.  How do you think people are treating your wives, daughters, sisters?  What do you think your mother’s and your mother’s mothers had to put up with in our society and still do??

I feel this is a legitimate concern in our country if we want to be global competitors in anything.  If you have children, a mother, sisters, grandmothers, cousins, daughters, really for any of the women in your life that you love, then you’ll take notice too.  ESPECIALLY if you’re raising sons or in a position where young boys are being influenced by your decisions and attitudes towards society, and the role of women around you. Please teach them to treat women with  even a shred of respect!  And ladies, start treating yourselves with a shred of respect!  You men are crucial to our success.  Please, support us, lift us up, learn that if one of us wins, we all win. We’re in this life together.  Let’s lift this nation to a higher standard.

I think I’ve spouted enough facts and ranted long enough for one day.  But take today and really celebrate the women in your life!  If you are a woman, celebrate and give yourself credit for your place in the world.  We’ve been raising families, running households, taking care of men, and working towards our careers, day in and day out.  Our work never stops.   It’s not an easy job to be a woman.  Take pride in being you.  We, believe it or not, are what makes the world go ’round.  Today is for you and every woman in your life that you love, and for every woman around the world.   So enjoy the spring weather and smile in the sunshine today.  And thank God that you are a woman!

10 Years Ago Today

28 Oct

On the eve of my 31st year of birth I have been thinking a lot about my life and what I have and haven’t accomplished.  And I’ve thought back about my life in the past ten years.  Here’s what I’ve found;

10 years ago today:  I was in Las Vegas and just attended my sister’s wedding.  Turning 21 in Las Vegas kind of sums up this period in my life quite nicely.  I had been living the past few years as a college drop out, lived for the party – drinking about 6 nights out of the week, I was broke as a joke and I only worked to pay for my partying.  I had no real goal in life and no direction.  This is also when I opened up my very first credit card to take on this trip.  This is when I would start on my long journey with debt.  This was also the year I received 5 W-2’s..  (I took a job at Maynard’s for 3 weeks before I left just so I would have some money for Vegas and quit shortly after)  I had no idea what I was doing with my life.

8 years ago today: I was in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan attending Central Michigan University.  Somehow I had become wise to the fact that I was on a trajectory to nowhere.  Before heading back to school, I was working in a shower head factory and my supervisor had been there for over a decade and made only a few dollars more an hour than I was.  Even moreover, I got fired from that job for too many call in’s… This was my path. No, I wasn’t even good enough to stay on this path.  I realized that I had no earning potential and no career path and decided I should go back to school.  I had a lot of friends at CMU so that’s really the only reason I chose to go there.  But it turned out to be one of the greatest choices of my life.  Don’t get me wrong, I was still partying way too much and still had a long way to go!  This is also where I racked up my $100k in student loan debt.

5 years ago today: I was living in Traverse City and starting off on my career at a financial institution I was also on probation, for the second time, for getting arrested while being drunk and being an idiot. I had to attend three AA meetings a week and had to do random breathalyzer tests.  It started off as being a really difficult time and I was really ashamed and down on myself.  But the good news was that I was no longer drinking and actually very happy.  I was working out regular, eating well, and loving life in TC. Because of my arrest record, and the fact that I felt I shouldn’t even have to say those words, I felt I needed to overcompensate my liabilities.  I thought I’d never get offered another job or be able to move up the ladder.  So I decided I needed to go back to school to get my Master’s degree and eventually go to law school and become a lawyer.  So this was my new path.  So on my 25 birthday I was actually in class at the University Center taking a human behavior class.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  This was the first birthday where I actually felt like an adult.

3 years ago today:  I spent this birthday alone at home.  I had a brief visit from a friend who felt I shouldn’t be alone so he came and watched a movie with me.  But the truth is, I wanted to be alone.  I wasn’t happy with my life.  Sure I had a path and a plan on how I was going to get there but I wasn’t living the life I wanted.  By all accounts I should have been happy.  Good job, living in a beautiful place, a lot of great friends…  but it wasn’t enough.  I wasn’t happy at work.  I knew I  had taken that job as far as I could.  It needed to be handed off to someone else so they could make it even better.  I knew that any job I took was a lateral move.  I had wanderlust.  I was single with no real prospects that were emotionally available.  This was the start.  The start of me trying to make the change that I needed to be happy, abandoning my dream of being a sports an entertainment lawyer, and which ultimately prompted my decision to move to North Dakota. Which as it turns out, has been maybe the greatest decision of my life.

1 year ago today:  I had just started a new job as an Office Manager for an oilfield company.  I went back to corporate America after I swore I wouldn’t.  But this was a rough year for me, as you’ve probably read in my other posts, I was homeless for most of the year (I had a roof over my head but no real place to call my home), working at a job that I hated, and in an unhappy relationship.  A year ago today I was in a  real low.  It just goes to show you that even though you may know how to be happy, there is a real different between knowing and being. 

Today:  I have a comfortable and cozy home to call my own, a great relationship with my significant other built and maintained on a strong foundation of communication, and I’m working to make money to achieve my financial goals and doing what I want.  It’s hard to realize sometimes but we always get what we ask the universe for, it just shows up in unexpected ways and we have to work for it. It’s not going to just be given to us.    I look at this birthday and I’m proud of how far I’ve come over the past 10 years.  I’ve had some up years and I’ve had some down years, but I try to keep learning from my mishaps and as long as I am always doing better than last year, I think I’m doing just fine.  But it’s also taken me many, many years to learn that it’ll never be “perfect”.    I’m very hard on myself but the truth of the matter is, everything and every decision has lead me to where I am today.   I am alive and well and a good person.  And that’s all I can really ask for.  I have everything I need to be happy right now.  I just need to learn how to live in the present and enjoy it.  That doesn’t mean I’ll ever stop planning and achieving.  That’s just who I am.  And damn it, I can have my cake and eat it too!  And so can you!  So happy birthday to me!  I’m so grateful to be graced with another year on this beautiful Earth.  And pray for many, many more.  Everything else is just the icing on the birthday cake!