Boundaries and an important part of a healthy relationship. In a healthy relationship, you should be able to tell your partner what your boundaries are, and they will respect them. And if they happen to come across your boundaries or accidentally cross them, you should be able to tell them and they should completely back off and apologize for crossing that boundary. They should respect that boundary and they should respect you. It isn’t enough to say that they respect you or your boundaries, and then trample all over them. Their actions much match their words.

A healthy relationship is also dependent upon your partner knowing when to place your needs above theirs. If one person is constantly giving and the other is constantly taking, the relationship will not work. If one person is constantly taking care of another, and the caregivers needs are not being met, the relationship is unbalanced and it will not work. And in that sense both must be willing to take care of the other.

My most recent relationship ended in spectacular fashion, when I was completely exhausted taking care of him. He needed a lot of constant attention, and constant care. While there is nothing wrong with that, I was exhausted and needed some time to recuperate, and take care of my own things in my own life. However when my needs conflicted with his, he did not have the ability to put my needs even temporarily above his.

When I placed firm boundaries to make sure that the things in my life were taken care of, he crossed those boundaries again and again, insisting that his needs come before mine. In doing so he completely ruined the relationship by showing me that not only did he not respect me or my boundaries, but that I would be staying in a relationship where my needs were never met. To stay in that relationship would mean that I would constantly be giving, with nothing being given in return. A relationship cannot survive that way. Both people must be willing to give to each other.

I do not believe that our relationship is 50-50, I believe that sometimes it’s 80/20, or 60/40, or 70/30. There are times when one partner will be giving more than the other. But as long as the overall average is 50/50 then it will work. The problem is that this relationship that I was in was very unbalanced. I was giving everything, all of my time, and effort, and care. Even when I expressed needs, it was not reciprocated. Not only was it not reciprocated, but the demands upon me were increased.

To me, that is like living in captivity. Where the other person’s needs and desire for control, eclipses your needs. And you are being smothered to the point that you cannot breathe. My need was very simple, and yet it could not be granted even for 24-Hour reprieve. After three years of taking care of others to the point of total emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual exhaustion, I cannot do that again. I can only be with a partner who is supportive and willing to reciprocate. No one person in a relationship to be tasked with all the giving, because after a while you have nothing left to give.

Always make sure that your boundaries are respected, and that you take care of yourself so that you have something left to take care of others. Don’t worry if any given day it’s not 50/50, because as long as it balances out in the end it will work.

But if the balance is skewed, and one person is supporting and giving, and the other is only taking and not reciprocating, the relationship is doomed. No matter how much you love each other, the taker will always exhaust The Giver.

This man that I was in a relationship with is honestly a good man. But needed 24/7 communication and reassurance. I had to be available every minute that he was awake so he can have a conversations about work, and kids, and decisions, and relationships, and insecurities, and everything. And I had to be available to text back immediately should he reach out to me. If I didn’t then I would have even more text messages wanting to know where I was and why I wasn’t answering.

The last night of our relationship the conversation started at 8:30pm, and didn’t end until 4:30am the next morning. Eight hours. All but two hours of that time I was begging for a break, because I was exhausted from constantly communicating and having to reassure him of everything in his life. I just needed some time to get things in my life back in order, that have been neglected since I was constantly taking care of him. He didn’t see fit to give me that time, and still insisted that All his needs be met.

These details may be small, but there were several times that I had to warn him and ask him and eventually beg him to please back off so that I could have time and the energy and the space to take care of things in my life. I simply did not have several hours a day to dedicate to communicating and taking care of him. It reached a point where I was exhausted, my house was a mess, and I didn’t have time for friends or anything else that only taking care of him.

With my family situation there was no way to avoid complete and utter exhaustion and depletion. I was taking care of my parents alone, and while it was my honor and my privilege, it was extremely difficult. For my own sanity and mental health, I cannot afford to enter into a relationship that is as exhausting as taking care of my parents without anything in return. I have bad days too, and I have needs, and sometimes I need someone to take care of me too. And someday, I will find that relationship. One where the average is 50/50, one where my needs are occasionally placed first, one where there is no need to control, just to support, and one where boundaries are respected. Until then…

New Beginnings

Lately there has been a ton of new beginnings, and tomorrow continues the trend. A new project in my career, and it is exciting.

I will miss being a bum, so to speak. But I have learned valuable lessons during my time off. That is to make myself a priority. And many people are accused of being selfish when they make themselves a priority, but that’s not the case. You must take care of yourself in order to take care of anyone else.

Taking care of yourself is also a sign of self-love. If we love ourselves we’re going to take care of ourselves. That means taking time off when you need it, taking a stroll through the park when you need it. And listening to your mind, your body, and your soul. It means making sure that you give yourself all you need to truly be healthy. To eat right, to exercise, to get rest, but it’s so much more than that too.

At church today the sermon talked about slowing down and stepping aside enough to hear God’s voice, and understand his plan for you. The priests mentioned that many times were often rushing around so much that we can’t even hear what God says to us. We pray at night it we are so busy during the day that we cannot hear God’s answer. This time off has shown me the beautiful rhythm of God’s grace.

And I plan to take care of myself enough to make sure I hear his voice. And that means taking care of myself enough so that I can be still, is that I do not get so wrapped up in all the pressure, that I take time, and then I find the beauty in this amazing life that I’ve been blessed to have.

And so it is that I go off on this new adventure.

Life is short. Have adventures. Build the life you want. And take care of yourself.

Love is a Many Splendered Thing

Love. Wow. We seek it, we want it, as humans we need it. Love can work miracles and often does. It can also break our hearts, where the light comes into our souls from the cracks and the breaks.

For me, I am enjoying it. There is a miracle in the joy of relenting control and giving yourself to another. And I do not mean sexually, I mean spiritually, mentally, emotionally. To drop the guard and the walls, to exhale, open your eyes, and inhale with eyes look back at you, smiling.

And I welcome it, all of it. It is a miracle this man found me and recognized the possibilities. A miracle that I was finally in a space where I could accept what he has to offer. And a miracle that our two lices are lining up.

And to make plans for the future is fun and exhilarating. Trusting another with your heart and future is something else. There are vacations, thoughts, ideas, jobs and life to be built, the two of us at the helm.

Finally, a man who knows what to do with a strong willed, independent, stubborn, and clumsy red head. A man who smiles at my faults and laughs at my jokes. Finally a,man who wants to build with me, instead of control me.

Life is short. Find the love and give yourself to it.

Exquisite Nothing

It is a well known scientific fact that prolonged periods of stress will actually change your brain chemistry. Stress can have a profound effect on the body, on every system, and every organ. It can affect the way you look, your emotions, you ability to work and even your energy levels. The human body is amazing and there are many things we have yet to understand, but we know that stress can wreak havoc in all kinds of ways. Is there are way to combat the damage, maybe press the Reset button? Maybe.

I’ve been home alone experiencing The Exquisite Nothing. That is doing absolutely nothing…but doing everything. That doesn’t seem to make any sense, does it?

Experiencing what I call The Exquisite Nothing is quite simple actually. On the outside it looks as if I’m sleeping as late as I want and staying up as late as I desire. It may look like that I’m being lazy I’m just watching TV, or taking naps, or avoiding housework. But in reality I am healing from stress. And doing nothing is the key.

When you have experienced prolonged stress, your body is basically in Fight of Flight mode for tat time, with no breaks. And it is not just the constant go, go , go of the modern life. It can also be grief or times of extreme prolonged mental or emotional trauma. And when you are in that state of stress, you are so busy just trying to survive and keep your head above water, you cannot enjoy anything about life.  Being overwhelmed is exhausting and there is no energy left for enjoyment.

And when we are overwhelmed and exhausted, our emotions are raw. Our resistance is down and every little thing exacerbates the situation, to the point where are all those little things seem huge.

And that is where doing nothing comes in. It is resting and healing.  It is giving your mind, your thoughts, your heart, your emotions, your body, your brain, your breathing, YOU, time to come down from the stress and regain equilibrium. It is giving yourself permission to ignore the To Do List, and just be. It is being still and just enjoying, without interruptions. It is time to convalesce.

I was extremely sad, depressed and stressed after losing both parents and all of my siblings, then dealing with estate issues and family drama. The grief, sadness, depression and stress of all that loss was palpable. There were days that I could not function.

But now all that is over, and this is the time for me to enjoy every. Little. Thing. While on the outside it may look like that I am doing nothing, but I’m doing everything. I am so incredibly thankful for peaceful sleep and happy dreams. I’m thankful for naps on The Comfy Couch under warm blankets, or even a warm nap in the Sun a nice spring day.

And thankful for laughing at all the little funny things on horrible daytime television. I am enjoying the sounds of the birds, and watching them play on the feeder. The house is silent as I allow my mind to get bored…because that is when creativity surfaces – when you are still and quiet enough to be bored. There is waking up so relaxed and comfortable in the morning, that I don’t want to move – and so I don’t. I just stay there, in suspended thankfulness and breath.

I’m thankful for conversations with friends in the middle of the day. I’m thankful for snuggling with my fur babies. And for yummy sandwiches, and homemade meals that make the house smell delicious. Reality I’m enjoying every little moment of every little thing that happens. Because I know it won’t be long before life is busy again. And this is my time to just settle in my cocoon and enjoy. It is my time healing into a full contemplation during this Lent season.

Exquisite nothingness is a gift before the jobs and The Daily Grind starts up again. It is a gift of convalescence and Peace. It is the gift of letting yourself heal after trauma.

Life is short. But is can wound you too. Invest in the Nothingness, the time for yourself, and you will be back, better, stronger and happier than ever.

Love Will Find a Way

We have all heard the expression that love will find a way, that if it is meant to be it will be, or that it will happen in God’s perfect timing and not our own.  And if you are anything like me, your eyes may start to roll when you here these things over and over.  After all, when you are in that dark place, wondering when love will show up, wondering what else you can do and how many ugly frogs you will have to kiss, you just want to shout “enough already!”

And then, one day, it happens. That person shows up, really shows up and is all in,all the way. And all those doubts just roll away. And you see that it is true, all those cheesy sayings.

That is the realization I had recently, and it was a most beautiful ah-ha moment. I saw God’s divine timing in the beautiful tapestry of life. I was not supposed to find my love until now.  Even though we went to high school together, it would take almost 30 years for us to find each other again. But that is the way it was supposed to be all along. God planted those seeds a long time ago.

Before now, I would not have had the time, energy or mindset to devote to a relationship like the one I have now. I was taking care of family, which took up every bit of me. And that is how it is in life sometimes, that there are people or tasks or situation that must be handled first.  And it is not that we are not ready for love, we may very well be, but the situation or timing is not right yet.

And with this new love of mine, I would wish, so hard, that Mom and Dad could have met and known this wonderful man who is the love of my life. But it was not meant to be They were never supposed to meet. And with that realization, a Peace washed over me like never before.  It all made sense, in that moment as I saw the beauty of God’s plan for me.

I could not have been there for my parents if I had been in this relationship then.  Because he and I live in different states, and I would have been traveling back and forth. And something would have been neglected, either my parents or him. And it would have been him, because I would never abandon my parents. So I had to take care of them first, honor them, and make sure they were sent off with as much love a possible.

And all the other relationships that didn’t make it made sense too. Even the two most recent – The man who cheated on me with prostitutes, and the arrogant ass who was a Mensa member, but still couldn’t find the G-spot…I almost want to thank them for being such horrible partners. Because had they been good men, I might have settled for one of them.

Except love would have still found a way. Because love is God’s plan, not ours. Love flows freely from God and His Grace, to us. And now that I have seen how beautiful and intricate and perfect his plan is, I am excited and honored to have been a part of it. I am honored that He made such a plan for me.

And so my love and I start this amazing journey, hand in hand, hearts intertwined and growing every day. And I go forward in the knowledge that I am safe and loved and held in God’s heart. It is an amazing moment when you see the divine that has brought you to this moment.

So if you are still stuck in the mud, have faith.   Life is short. But the hard times can seem unreasonably long. It will make sense in the end, I promise.


The Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Growing up, this time of year on the religious calendar was always celebrated. Indeed it was my father’s favorite time of year in the church, as it is a time to reflect and exercise discipline. Every year, as our Lenten Discipline, we gave something up and took on some kind of extra spiritual task.

Through out the years, I have given up either chocolate of soft drinks, as those are vices that I enjoy very much. One year Dad gave up beer, Mom gave up cigarettes and my sister gave up sugar all together.  Looking back I am surprise any of us survived that 40 days – I am shocked that we did not kill each other in a fit of irritation and withdrawal. And I have given up something every single year, except one.

And so it goes this year as well.  I am giving up soft drinks, and taking on extra prayer, reading and meditation. Because I am have been unbelievably blessed in this lifetime. And this is the time for reflection and planning. You cannot always ask, you must give in return as well.

And oh my, many things are being planned for this future, this life. And it will be spectacular.

The Healing Art of Being Bum

here are times that were must just take it easy and relax. There are time that we must take to heal and take care of ourselves. And there should be no shame in it. And when we do it, we should absolutely enjoy it, and make the rest worth our time.

A friend asked me what I did today, and I really couldn’t tell her past the one appointment that I had. I told her that I had been staying up ridiculously late, because I am a nite owl, sleeping late, purging things I don’t need from the house, watching TV, and not really much of anything really. I started to say that I felt a bit guilty and she interrupted me – “In other words you are resting, healing and taking care of yourself.”

And there it was. Her words brought me to a complete stop…I had not thought of it that way, but she was right. After all, I deserve to rest a bit and not feel guilty about taking some time off. I have been going long and hard for three years.

Why do we, especially women, feel so guilty for not doing anything but taking care of ourselves and healing after a hard time? I don’t know, because it doesn’t make any sense. Self care is so important to our physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health. We are stress out, underpaid, overworked, super tired, burned out and feeling sideways.

Maybe we feel guilty because there are others whom still need our care? Or maybe we don’t want to be seen as lazy, or unproductive, or selfish? Maybe we have the need to be needed, and taking care of ourselves is so foreign that it just feels wrong. For me, it is a combination of all of those things, plus I do not feel useful unless I am busy doing something, accomplishing something. But who is to say that self care is not a huge accomplishment?

Because we are taught to take care of everything and everyone first. And not just women. Men are taught they must kill themselves for their job and career. And single parents, both men and women, feel like they cannot take the time, because they have no help and must do everything themselves.

But the price of not taking care of yourself is expensive. I have experienced it first hand and never want to visit again. The feeling of being burned out and completely bent is not pleasant. Not to mention that when we are overwhelmed and sad, everything else is magnifies. All those little things that would not normally bother us, can send of over the edge. Because our nerves are already so raw, that the slightest touch is like touching an opened wound. The only protection we have, is rest and self care.

And so before life gets all crazy again, with a job and the relationship and travel and life in general, I will take this time for myself. I will stay up late, sleep late, watch my favorite shows and heal from the last few years. I am already happier than I have been in years, and taking this time of self care will only make those crack and chips even stronger and shinier.

So take care of yourself. Set that time aside, whether it is an hour, a say, a week, or more if you need it. Concentrate on making sure you have everything that you need. And stick with it until you are good again. Because when you step back into the world, you ill feel better. YOU will be stringer, finer, happier and better equipped to handle life. And you will have more to offer whose for whom you care. An empty vessel cannot full itself, or any other vessel. Trust me, you are the best investment you can make.

Life is short. So take care of yourself, and don’t feel guilty about it. You deserve the same amount of compassion and understanding as you give others. Treat yourself, invest in yourself, and watch your life, and quality of life, improve dramatically. And the best thing? Practice makes perfect.


My Love

This is it, I am in love. I am in love not only with my life for the first time in years, but also with the man I am dating. It is Facebook and Insta official, which is the comic side of relationships these days. And he is even on my profile picture – something that has never happened in the 12 years I have been on social media. And I love it.

Finally. And I feel like this man, this wonderful relationship is my reward after going through hell for the last three years. It is natural, and fun and serious, and light and everything I never knew I always wanted.  He is kind, sexy, capable, and smart and he actually challenges me intellectually, which is incredibly rare. He is romantic and wonderful. We have known each other since high school and are planning a future together.

I look back at my past relationships – the last man who was much more impressed with himself than I was, and who cancelled on making dinner for my friends. The one before that cheated on me with prostitutes and strippers. And then the one who strung me along for 6 months….and I am thankful that none of them worked out. Because I would have missed the love of my life.

Life is short. Love it.

“I want love to be so present in my life that it is tangible.” And it is.

10 of Years

In 2008, my friend Melissa was part of what was referred ti on Atlanta as the “Leap Day Dozen.” She was the number one rated DJ on air in Atlanta, and was fired, along with 11 of her on air colleagues in order to make a 30% cut in expenses for the station.  She was rightly upset, and I remember telling her, that there would come a time when what happened wouldn’t even matter. In 1 yr, 5, even 10 years, her life would grow, her perspective change and and she would see that somehow this was a blessing.

But the truth was that in 10 years, she would be gone. In 10 years, she would be taken, too soon, from us. And I wonder, in a way, did she know, that on Aug 5th 2008, she would die 10 years later, to the day?

I wish I could ask her. And I wish I could ask what would she have done differently if she had known she only had 10 years left? And then I wonder, what would I do differently if I only had 10 years? What would we all do differently?

Would you worry less and laugh more? Would you play more and work less? Would you travel, or try skydiving, or do whatever it is you are too scared to do?

Life is short. And everything you want is on the other side of fear. So do what you would do with your last 10 years? Go do it. 🙂

The Celebration

We all have ways of celebrating, or appreciating, or marking a day. Today is the second anniversary of my father’s passing, and I have been moping and crying all week. But today, this day, I decided to celebrate.

I went to one of my favorite places in the whole world to celebrate my father. I went up to Amicalola Falls and decided to hike up all those stairs, all 675 of them. But before that I stopped by another celebrated place that I enjoyed many many times with my parents. The Waffle House.

While some may grown and smirk because if it’s a greasy food, I grew up in the South and therefore Love The Awful Waffle (as it is sometimes called). Many times my parents and I would go there on our many road trips when I was a child. It was our favorite place to stop when traveling. And we always had good times there, as we talked to the waitresses and listened to the other conversations around.

When I was little, Mom and Dad would always give me money to put in the jukebox, and I always had to pick Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA. Yes, it’s cheesy, and it’s still one of my all-time favorite songs.

Today as I looked around I had to smile as I remembered the many meals I had with my parents at the Waffle House. And I had many memories flooding in my wonderful and extraordinary childhood with my most amazing parents.

So I celebrate my father today, and what a wonderful father he was. And I celebrate the life that he and Mom gave us, because it was amazing. I am so forever thankful for the wonderful childhood that I was given. I was blessed beyond measure to have him as my father, to be his daughter, and to be taught the wonderful lessons he taught me.

All this week I’ve truly grieved the loss of my father. But today, I celebrate him and I am happy. Not only do I celebrate him, but I celebrate all the things that I have overcome since losing him. I celebrate all the victories, no matter how small. And I celebrate all the love that I have in my life now, because it’s everywhere I look. And I celebrate All The Hope and optimism for the future. Because if it’s this good now, it’s only going to get better. And I celebrate going forward on the Firm Foundation that my parents laid for me. And my soul is happy. Even in the deepest, darkest places, there is joy.