Beware of pretty packages…

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“They’ll try to make you forget who you are or try to make you ashamed. But you mustn’t forget and you mustn’t be ashamed.” ― Stephanie Dray, Lily of the Nile

It is amazing how life has a way of making us confront our beliefs and judgments making us doubt and second guess ourselves and in the process teaching us valuable lessons!

I met someone that on paper and, at first, in person seemed perfect.  He was younger than me by a few years.  He had a boyish charm that drew me in.  Our sense of humor matched perfectly.   He has a very high paying job that he conquered though hard work even though he is from a rich family. He was smart and witty.   For one day/night I got to be on his side and see how my life would be while in his arms.  I could already see the parties, fancy dinners, and only the best and high class all the way.  I could see myself being pampered not only with the finer things in life, but, most important, with attention and care.  I had a glimpse of it and I enjoyed it.  He was a perfect gentleman too, doors opened, chairs pulled, etc.  He also had a way of making me feel safe and totally at ease.  We had a great very long date and by all indications this was the first of many more amazing dates as he seemed to be as enamored of me as I was of him.  I should have already guessed that it was too good to be true.

Towards the end of the date he invited me to spend the next weekend together.  I said yes immediately.  This time I was not thinking of “too much too soon” as I did with the last guy…go figure!  I cannot figure myself out, so I don’t expect you to understand why for one guy I want to slow everything down and for another the speed of light doesn’t seem fast enough.  I blame it on my crazy heart.

“Confidence is knowing who you are and not changing it a bit because of someone’s version of your reality is not their reality.” ― Shannon L. Alder

As he was describing how much fun the weekend  was going to be with dinners, swimming, spa treatments, he mentions something almost under his breath.  I almost failed to hear while embedded with all the other activities.  I ask for clarification as I am hoping my ears are betraying me. But no, I heard correctly, part of this amazing weekend would involve drugs.  And he was not talking weed, but something more potent.

While I try not to be judgmental and I try to respect people’s opinions and choices they make for their lives,  getting involved with drugs is not what I want for my life.  I have witnessed the destruction that can cause in people’s lives.  And just recently I have been guilty of judging a close friend that I suspect is involved with drugs.  I said to someone: “I don’t get how he got involved with this at this age.  He is old enough to know better.”

So here I am, old enough to know better, and yet still contemplating such an endeavor.

“Drugs are a waste of time. They destroy your memory and your self-respect and everything that goes along with your self esteem.” ― Kurt Cobain

I am embarrassed to say that I didn’t immediately disagree with everything he was saying.  He was so matter of fact about it, as if he was talking about having dessert.  I didn’t say no, I was just trying to find a way in which that would be okay.  I was considering it.  I have to be completely honest that for a second I thought what if I tried only once?  We parted ways with him thinking I was cool with it, with me thinking perhaps but knowing full well in my heart and mind that there was no way I would put myself in a situation to be around drugs, let alone use it.  That lifestyle is not for me.  I am perfectly happy without adding extra dramas to my life.  I am already high on life and its infinite possibilities.  I am trying more and more to be present in the now, so the last thing I want to do is to use drugs to get away form the present moment.  My life is great, I am not in pain, so I don’t need to numb my feelings and get away from my head.  I don’t have any problems that I need help forgetting, all I have are opportunities.

This situation showed me how tempting and how vulnerable I can be.  I am sure life threw me this curve ball to make me more respectful and less judgmental of other people’s situation, because I never know when I will be put in a similar situation and perhaps not have the power to make the right decision. It also showed some weak areas that I need to work on.

“Drug misuse is not a disease, it is a decision, like the decision to step out in front of a moving car. You would call that not a disease but an error of judgment.” ― Philip K. Dick

This afternoon with a clear mind I texted him and got it all out of my chest and canceled the weekend date. It felt good to tell him exactly how I felt.  I did feel old fashioned and close minded for a second when he asked questions about my decision. I didn’t expect him to try to change my mind and he didn’t.  I am glad that he mentioned this lifestyle right away.  Well I think it would have been better if he had mentioned on his profile so that he would attract only the kind of people interested in the same thing. But at the same time I don’t regret meeting him.

The lesson here is: “Not all that glitters is gold!” From all the guys I ever dated and, pretty much all the men I know, I would vote him least likely to be involved with drugs.  So this has been a huge wake up call.

Another thing I learned is that one has to be always watchful because you never know when temptation will knock on your door.  The knock will always be an opportunity, an opportunity to show strength.

So from now on I will make a point of asking potential dates if they are into drugs.

I do feel enriched by the experience, I feel happy that it happened, I feel proud that I stood up to what I believe in and made the right choice for me!

In the end the choice was easy and clear!

“I don’t do drugs. I am drugs.” ― Salvador Dalí

The art of restraint

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“You build walls to fortify your heart,
and blame on others for your loneliness.”
Toba Beta, Master of Stupidity

I stepped away from a relationship with the guy mentioned in the previous post.  It was too much, too soon and I just felt closed in.  He agrees with some of the readers here that I should see a therapist to help me sort out my feelings.  He, and my friends here, are probably right but for now I will stay put and will continue following my heart and trying to figure things out on my own.  Stubborn is my middle name!

He agreed to just be friends for now, even though he says he hopes I will change my mind. Unfortunately this Aries never changes her mind!  There is a first time for everything but I would not hold my breath if I were him.

***

So back to the dating pool:

This guy from E-harmony calls me.  It is the first time we are speaking.  We had only gone through the questions on the site, so we didn’t really have much information on each other.  I imagine this phone call would be a good way to get a lot information about each other without wasting too much time on back and forth emails.

For the first time ever I don’t monopolize the conversation.  I normally have so much to say that I keep cutting people off – I am not proud of that and I continuously work on being able to listen without interrupting.  I am super proud of myself because I am actually allowing this guy to talk.

Unfortunately for over 30 minutes all he did was complain about his last girlfriend.  He went on and on how she didn’t show her true self until months into the relationship, so he felt betrayed, etc, etc.

I wanted to be polite and thought he just needed to vent so I let him keep going.  I also knew that he was only accomplishing one thing:  Turning me completely off!  I managed to say a few words here and there to try be a part of the conversation but 90% of the talking was done by him.

I think at some point he realized he was talking too much because he said: “I am going to let you talk”, but he proceeded to talk anyway.  At this point I am thinking to myself: Should I point out to him that this is not the best way to talk to a prospective date?  I didn’t.  I sensed he would not welcome constructive criticism, and honestly I felt I didn’t have the energy to point out the error of his ways.  He had already lost me by now.

“I pay no attention whatever to anybody’s praise or blame. I simply follow my own feelings.” ― Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

He finally stops talking about the ex-girlfriends (yes, plural! he mentioned another one that he felt wasn’t honest with him either). I am thinking that perhaps now he will ask me questions, something to get to know me.  He did ask me a question:

“Do you think you are interested in me?”

“I don’t know!  I know nothing about you and we didn’t even meet in person”, I said.

He says: “But we have been talking on the phone for 30 minutes, that should give you an idea”

I said:  “The idea that I get from our 30 minutes conversation is that you really don’t like your ex-girlfriends and feel they tricked you.  We have not talked about us, about our likes, dislikes, plans for the future, etc. You have not asked me anything, and I didn’t have a chance to ask you anything.”

I guess he didn’t like my answer because he then starts telling me that he can tell a lot from the way a person talks, by the velocity of the speech, by how loud or soft someone speaks. He then said I speak too fast, too loud and too aggressive on the phone. He also said that I didn’t make him feel good about himself. He said that women should have a softer welcoming tone of voice, and be more agreeable specially when meeting a man for the first time”.

I so wanted to lash out and say: “It is not that I am aggressive, the problem is that you are too weak to deal with an assertive woman.  It is not my job to make you feel good about yourself! Perhaps you should work on making yourself feel good first and then date.  I am not here to validate you and make you feel like a man”

“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” ― Aristotle

But I didn’t!  What would be the point?

At this point I am congratulating myself on my restraint. Before the break-up, before Kabbalah, before the many self-help books, before years of writing this blog, before age and experience, I would not have listened quietly to that.  I would have let that affect me personally.  That criticism would cut like a knife and I would end up saying exactly what I thought of him.

But not now, not anymore.  I have to be honest and say that for a second, for a brief second, I thought to myself: is he right about this?  Then I decided to take that stupid notion out of my mind. He is entitled to feel whatever he feels, but that doesn’t make it true. I have never been accused of being aggressive, even when disagreeing with someone I do it kindly.  I do speak fast and somewhat loud, but I am a Brazilian New Yorker, so that is a given.  However most men tell me they find my voice and accent sexy.

So I listened to everything in complete silence.  He went on and on, and if I hadn’t put a stop to it he would probably have gone another 30 minutes on how bad I sound on the phone.  Finally I just said: “I agree we are not a match.  Best of luck to you!” and I hung up.

What saddens me a bit is that I try to leave people and places better than I found them but in this case I knew it was a losing battle. It was like talking to a wall the two times I tried to say something. He had his opinion formed about the ex-girlfriends and about myself.

“When restraint and courtesy are added to strength, the latter becomes irresistible.” -Mahatma Gandhi

At the end of the day I am happy with myself because I see progress.  I have been able to let someone monopolize the conversation without interruption.  I have been able to not react and “fight back”. Most important I found out that:

  1. Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing at all
  2. I no longer need to always point out the obvious
  3. I don’t need to have the last word
  4. I don’t need to prove I am right
  5. I don’t need to justify myself
  6. I don’t need to please everyone
  7. I don’t need to be understood by all
  8. It is enough to know that I am true to myself and I speak my truth
  9. It  is enough to know that my heart is in the right place

Some people will love me, some will hate me, some will try to pick me apart, but that is a cost I am happy to pay for the honor and right of being myself and not attempt to change to fit in.

“Diplomacy is the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions.” ― Winston S. Churchill

from burnt toast to wedding toast

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“If the problem can be solved why worry? If the problem cannot be solved worrying will do you no good.” ― Śāntideva

Sometimes I feel my mind is too small to fit in all I need /want to do.  I fear things will spill out and get forgotten and never done.  It is a weird feeling, but that is my life at this moment…so much to do, so little time, so little money, and no control over anything.  So many obstacles… people not doing their job, mishandled orders, parts broken, appointments missed, appointments never scheduled, car not starting, keys lost … but also tiny little blessings at every corner, keys found :-)

“I may do some good before I am dead–be a sort of success as a frightful example of what not to do; and so illustrate a moral story.” ― Thomas Hardy

On Thursday my multi-tasking, or perhaps my lack of focus, cost the office our beloved toaster.  I put a couple of slices of bread in it and went on to do a few (several) other things (mistake #1).  All of a sudden someone yells “something is burning”.   I ran to the kitchen and opened the oven door (mistake #2) and flames just shoot out.  The next few seconds was a blur of panic.  Everyone failed to see the extinguisher a foot away.  One co-worker unplugged the toaster while the other threw containers of water on it.  In the mean time I looking around looking for a blanket or something like that to extinguish the flames, but all I see is paper towels (no, not mistake # 3).

I am happy to report that besides a dead toaster, a wet kitchen, a tiny little burn on my finger (I am not sure how I got it) and being the butt of many jokes the whole day, all is well.  Yesterday, Friday (Bagel Day in the office) was just not the same without the toaster.  I will buy another one, but I am now looking for one that has some kind of alarm or shut-off button.  Any suggestions?

This is both a warning sign and a lesson.  Let’s hope I did learn something and will not make the same mistake again.  I seriously doubt it… as I write this I am chatting with a Sears representative  online, I am doing a company Census, e-mailing the accountant and texting my date for tonight.  I need to learn to do one thing at a time and see it to completion before moving on to a new task.

***

“Maybe we are running from something because we don’t want to find out what we are running from” ― Iva Marija Bulić

Updating my previous post: https://blessedwithastarontheforehead.wordpress.com/2015/01/29/miss-fearless-is-terrified/

The man in question, I will call him Mr. TV agreed to slow things down.  It was either that or never see me again – so he chose the first.  We are going out tonight.  I am coming to the conclusion that the reason why I am rejecting him is because he wants me so much.  In his eyes I can do no wrong.  It is what I want, when I want.  It makes me think of Grouch Marx when he said: “I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept people like me”.

We shall see where this will go… For now I am controlling my need to run away for now.

***

“Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love. Love risks degenerating into obsession, friendship is never anything but sharing.” ― Elie Wiesel

Remember my first date after the break up?  https://blessedwithastarontheforehead.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/first-e-harmony-date/

He got married!  Yes, I have to admit that for a second I had the thought “it could have been me”.   He is a wonderful guy with a love for learning and traveling, 2 things that are near and dear to my heart.  I see pictures of the happy couple gallivanting around the globe and I do feel a twinge of jealousy.  But, the truth is I am very happy for him.  It seems he found the right person for him.  He and I were not a match, so no matter how unbelievable the life he could have offered me was, it would never make me or him happy.

The crazy part:  I was invited to the wedding celebration to be held in March in Atlanta!

The crazier part:  I am going!

It would be easier to decline the invitation, but I was never a fan of taking the easy route. I thought for awhile about what his invitation meant and what my accepting it meant.  I realize that I do not need to impart any serious meaning or ulterior motive to an invitation for a happy event.  Why must we always complicate everything?

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” ― Helen Keller

Miss Fearless is Terrified!

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“I love, because my love is not dependent on the object of love. My love is dependent on my state of being. So whether the other person changes, becomes different, friend turns into a foe, does not matter, because my love was never dependent on the other person. My love is my state of being. I simply love.” ― Osho

This post was going to be totally different.  I was going to tell you about a great guy that I was dating.  I was going to tell you how this guy seemed to be the one; how everything felt so right.

This post now is about breaking up with a guy that seemed perfect for me.

He is still a great guy, he is still interested in a relationship, but all of a sudden, one day, I wake up and it seems too much too soon. I had to run, I had to escape!  The truth is I am scared!  I guess I am not as fearless as I thought I was.  I am scared and not sure of what.  I am terrified of falling in love!  I don’t think I am ready to be that vulnerable again.   I actually don’t think I fear getting hurt,  I fear hurting somebody else.

I have been the queen of first dates.  I have gone on more than 1 date with the same person only a few times, such as with the Jewelry Designer and the Math Professor. Insisting on something that doesn’t feel quite right from the beginning never works for me.  The amazing conversations and the romantic restaurants weren’t enough for me to ignore the lack of chemistry.

“Some old wounds never truly heal, and bleed again at the slightest word.”― George R.R. MartinA Game of Thrones

I have been searching for love for the past few years, all of sudden there is a glimmer of hope.  There comes this guy that makes me feel excited.  There was something about him that first attracted me, and perhaps that very same unknown thing is what now scares me.

I realized that all the meaningless dates before, even though there were some great ones, they were non-threatening, because I didn’t really feel anything.  They didn’t threaten my independence and the safety of my single-hood.

The moment I realized that I liked him and he liked me back  I started looking for flaws, for reasons to disqualify him as a potential long term boyfriend. There is chemistry, he is a great guy, has a great job, family oriented, has a cool hobby, good family, a son in college, no crazy ex-wife, is kind to animals, adores me and still that is no enough for me.

From the moment we started talking we both felt that we had a special connection. It felt special! I knew it!  He knew it! He talked about the same feelings I was feeling.  It was refreshing to hear a man so open with his feelings.

flowers

He brought me the flowers on the above picture. It was one big vase, but I split in 3 so that I have a vase in each room.  Granted he didn’t buy them (he works on TV and they were props on a live daily TV show) but I give him credit for being honest where they came from and for carrying that heavy vase to my door.  I have to mention that he also drove over one and a half hours to see me every time. It was always about what I wanted.  Perhaps he is too nice and therefore too easy, no one wants what is easy.

As we continued to see each other I began to feel overwhelmed and trapped.  All of a sudden I felt this longing and sadness over not ever going on a first date again.  I am probably the only crazy person out there that enjoys the excitement of a first date.

This guy is threatening to my life as it is.  I claim I want love but perhaps I don’t want to change anything.  I am used to my life now.  Perhaps I just want to go on a nice date every now and then, with no attachments, no commitments.

So today I broke things off, I tried the old: “it is me, not you” line, because in this case it is true.  He has been nothing but a gentleman, kind and considerate, doing whatever I please, but still I feel that is what I must do at this point.  I don’t want to hurt him and I feel that I would end up doing that. My main fear is to be dragging this relationship on while I have doubts and let him fall more for me and end up hurting him.  Worst than getting hurt is hurting someone else!

 “The purpose of fear is to raise your awareness not to stop your progress.”― Steve Maraboli

I also wanted to make sure I broke up before Valentine’s Day because I am sure he would buy me a gift and do something special and I would be forever guilty. I hate feeling I am taking advantage of anyone.

He was disappointed and tried to talk me out of it, but at this point there is no going back on my decision.  He doesn’t understand why I want to stop seeing him if everything is going well. I don’t think it is a matter of want but of need.  I feel I need to stop it.  Let me return to my string of one-dates, something I have mastered and know well.  Something that is non-threatening and leaves all my options open.

At the end of the day I am still trying to figure it out what all this means.  I don’t have all the answers…well, clearly I have no answers!  Is it my heart telling me he is just not the one? Is it still too soon to try to love again?  Am I, deep down inside, fearful of being cheated on again?  Am I dumping him before he dumps me?  Am I afraid of making the wrong choice?  Is fear of getting hurt preventing from giving myself 100% to another person?

“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

The problem with online dating is that is just too easy to get a date, there is always an option, so why settle? What if I settle with the wrong guy and the right guy comes along?

I need to stop over-thinking.  I decided to continue following my heart even when it does not make sense, such as now.  As long as I continue to be honest with myself and with the people I am dating all will be okay.

There is a reason why I am breaking things off.  I don’t know what that reason is right at this moment but eventually I will know.  For now I just need to know that that is what my heart wants and what I need.

I do feel extremely guilty by disappointing this guy. I do feel I actually did him a favor.  He is now free to meet the right person for him.

Nothing like a boyfriend to make me realize how awesome being single is!!

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”― Paulo CoelhoAlchemist

 

The importance of dreaming and believing!

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I am the Queen of Unfinished projects. I start everything, often at the same time and then they remain unfinished. Why?

I often say I lack focus. It is obvious, if I had focus I would buckle down and finish all I started.

I often, then, think that what I lack is not focus, but planning.  Perhaps if I wrote a plan down. After all one of my favorite speakers, Steve Maraboli says: “If you have a goal, write it down. If you do not write it down, you do not have a goal – you have a wish.”

But I write things down.  I am also the queen of making lists.  I take a certain pleasure out of putting items in a to do list and then crossing them off as I do them.  Ok, I now need to confess a secret: I some times will add items I have already done to the list only for the pleasure of crossing it off – that is a little mental, right?

But simply making a list is different from making a plan or listing goals.  A list is simple, such as : do laundry, take book backs to the library, call a friend.  A goal is different, I cannot just write down:  become a doctor.  I have to list the steps and set about accomplishing that goal.  I cannot achieve that goal with the performance of only one task.

So I keep going on and on to anyone who would listen that lately I lack focus and I lack planning and most importantly I lack goals. And I go on telling people how I was so focused when I first arrived in this country.  I didn’t let anything deter me from my goals.

What has changed in the past 30 years since then?

Today, on Martin Luther Kings’s Day I realized a big thing. I don’t need a plan, I don’t need clear goals (I didn’t really have any set clear goals back then, I had a dream), all I need is a dream and the belief that I can accomplish that dream.

So I came to the realization that what I lack lately is dreaming and believing. People are different,  I am the type of person that doesn’t need goals, I need dreams, I need fairy-tales.

When I first arrived in this country I didn’t have clear goals, I had dreams! And I had a very powerful weapon on my side: Belief! I believed it in my goals no matter how unattainable they seemed at that time!

I believed that God would take care of me no matter what!  I believe that good things come to people that do good!  I believed in working hard and being rewarded for it.  I believe in improving myself each day!  I believed that I would be okay no matter what!

And guess what?  My life today is a combination of all my beliefs.  I think that in the past 30 years I lost the naivete and innocence that I had when I first arrived.  I am smarter, more cultured.  I now speak English, I now have a great job, I now have money.

Perhaps dreams are the stuff of the desperate.  When you don’t have anything else on your side, you dream!  I arrived with no money, no job, no English, no clear goals, no idea at all of what I would be doing.  I struggled, I struggled a lot.  I heard a lot nos, and I had the disbelief of friend and still I marched on.  I arrived with only one dream:  a better life.  And that can have different meanings to different people, to me meant being able to go to college, getting a good paying job, buying a home, becoming legal in this country.  I did all that, I have all that now and even more.

Am I dreamless lately? perhaps a bit, or perhaps I just have focused my energy into one specific dream, finding a partner.  And that is going well, or bad, depending on how you look at it.

So, this post that is very representative of my life – constructive chaos! While writing I am checking and chatting with people from E-Harmony and POF.  I am organizing my underwear drawer (why do I need 40 bras, when I only use 3 or 4?). I am taking stuff from storage and taking stuff to storage.  I am chatting with my accountant on some work issues (and also with the computer guy, because the connection to work is not that great).  I had breakfast.  I started watching Braveheart.  I made lists of what I need to accomplish today and during the week.  I am indeed the Queen of starting projects and by the grace of God some will actually get finished.

I have been incapable of finishing a post in the past 10 days.  I have started many on favorite subjects, such as dealing the troubles with my car – how that is teaching me patience, the blessing of having an aunt that is turning 106 years old -what am I doing to age gracefully, my dates with the math teacher – how I push people away, etc, etc

So this time I am going to do something totally out of character for me, I am going to publish this post without being finished.  This post is without a clear thought and not what I want to present you with.  I would need to read it a few more times, and clean it up, but I fear never publishing it, like the posts before.  I know it will be hard for me to live with that, I know it will be even harder for you to make sense of it, but at this point I am choosing not to have another day go by without publishing a post.

What I want you to take from this post is the following: (I so hope that you are able to get something from it and not have 5 minutes that you can never get it back)

The importance of having dreams and believing you can accomplish them!

You don’t need to be organized and have a plan to accomplish things! You do need, however, to believe in that which you want to accomplish! You don’t even need clear goals. It is okay to dream of abstracts such as a better life!  All you need is to wake up in the morning and put one foot in front of the other and start working with the aim of getting that better life.

You need to work hard for what you want!  Nothing worth having and dreaming of having is free and easy.

Above all you need to believe that that which you dream of is already yours.  You are deserving of and it will be yours through hard work and perseverance. Why?  Because you have God on your side and He will never let you down.

Please don’t think I am saying don’t have any plans, that is not it.  A lot people need that structure. What I am saying is that I was too worried about making plans, establishing clear goals, etc that I forgot what is inherently inside of me, which is my ability to dream and believe in that dream.

At the end of the day we need to work with the weapons we have, and I was given a disorganized mind and a believing heart!

May this Martin Luther King Day wake in you your dormant dreams!!  Have a dream and believe in your dreams! Fight for your beliefs with the arms you have!  No matter how small or big your dream is, honor it!

“Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

 

I Float!

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“Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.” ― Seneca

Happiness is not the absence of problems.  Happiness is how you deal with the problems you encounter.

I saw a poster the other day that said:  “If you stop struggling, you float”.  It really resonated with me.  I have been struggling instead of floating lately.  I have been encountering many problems and with each I near that one moment where despair sets in and all seems beyond repair, when it feels nothing is going right.

I realize that my faith is being tested. My very positive self is being put to a test. Even though I am very positive I realize there is still room for improvement.

So I have been making a very conscious effort to change how I deal with problems in my life.  I no longer try to immediately attack it aiming for results without any thought or regard to my actions.  I no longer react without pause and careful consideration.  I also no longer try to slam the door on a problem pretending that it doesn’t exist and hoping it will go away – I call that the Brazilian way, but it is extremely ineffective! Instead I am opening the door and inviting the problems in.  We sit, we talk, we arrive to conclusions.  I am choosing to treat it as a friend and in turn it does become my friend.  It no longer has control over me.  It is no longer my enemy, it has now become my ally.

When I don’t react, when I take the time to look at a problem with comprehension and not anger, everything changes.  I end up realizing that the problem is not as big as it originally appeared.

The moment I embrace it, it eases up on me.  I am no longer scared to the point of despair or paralysis.  I look into its eye and what I see is not this enemy trying to destroy me, instead it is a patient teacher, a caring mentor.  It is not here to hurt me or cause me pain.  Pain and hurt are mere conduits, mere distractions, just steps necessary in my ascendance to a better place.

Problems have a mission in our lives and their mission is to mold us into a better and stronger person.  We can either accept that or fight it.  Accepting makes the road much easier.

“Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional.”  Roger Crawford

Welcoming problems as lessons, teachers, opportunities, etc changes the whole dynamic. This one little shift in attitude, welcoming problems instead of fighting them, is making a dramatic improvement in my life.  I now see it a chance for me to grow and shine.  The bigger the problem I am facing the greater the chance, and the bigger the reward at the end.  I get to analyze the situation, I get to make choices.

In 2015 I am inviting to sit at my table all my friends that go by different names such as trouble, problems, mistakes, challenges, curve balls, hurdles, obstacles, etc.  Once they are welcomed in they become opportunities, goals, lessons, growth, steps, acceptance, maturity, tests of faith, etc.

They are already a part of my life anyway, but now they are recognized and treated as guests.  Problems used to make me feel out of control and totally at the mercy of others, now we co-exist in harmony.

“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” ― Molière

Inviting problems to my dinner table is my idea of floating, of making peace with that that robs my sanity, and drives me to reach for food as solace. Nothing like a problem to kick my emotional hunger in high gear.

I could go and hide my face in a slice of chocolate cake, or I could become paralyzed with fear, but eventually I have to deal with whatever problems life throws at me.  How I look at it makes a world of difference.

I think there is always a problem before a big miracle.  There is always a test, a roadblock to test our resolve.  So now I see a problem for what it is: the appetizer that doesn’t taste so good before a meal that is going to be amazing. So, no need to despair just work on the problem and move on to bigger and better things.

My 2 main points here are: 1) Problems are good, accept it! and 2) We are in charge, but not alone!

We are in control, as far as anyone can be actually in control of anything :-) We have a choice.  We can control how we perceive and react to a problem.  I choose to be the driver and not the passenger in this road trip.  I want to make my own way and not crumple at the sight of a little inconvenience. How one deal with problems separate the victims from the survivors, from the heroes. I was never a victim and don’t plan on starting now.

Why should I be deserving of rewards and miracles when at any minor inconvenience I throw in the towel, I despair? What does that say about me and my faith?  I need to remember that I am never alone and for whatever problem I face there is always a solution.  A problem presents itself but so does a solution.

Accepting that problems will happen, understanding that they are here to make me a better person, and knowing that I am never alone, helps me to deal with the dark moment and not over dramatize anything and make mountains out of molehills.

Problems also have an incredible way of teaching gratitude.  Gratitude for so many days without any problems and gratitude for the solution that is always there!

All of a sudden life is lighter, even though this evening had me face a problem that I had already spent money last week to solve.  Oh well, I marvel at the hidden reward of a returning problem. Did I miss the lesson the first time around?

I am done struggling! Now I float…and it feels divine!  Try it!

 “You will face your greatest opposition when you are closest to your biggest miracle.” ― Shannon L. Alder

A million thanks to you- my reader, my teacher, my therapist, my friend!

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My Sky

I am feeling so blessed and so incredibly happy!  Life is indeed an adventure and I am so excited for every morning’s new breath and the chance to create the best day that I can.

I am thankful for the bursts of miracles throughout the day.  Miracles are everywhere if you just take a second to see them.  I am thankful for the many challenges I had in 2014.  I triumphed! As I am writing this I am facing 2 stressful situations, I am choosing to stare them in the face and say: bring it on!

On the rare instance I feel discouraged I think: With God, the Universe, the Light, my Guardian Angels, my mother’s prayers, etc, all on my side, what have I got to fear or worry about? At that moment I laugh to myself at the silliness of my worry.

I feel I have so much to say/to write but so short on time.  I just didn’t want 2014 to go by without expressing my gratitude to you.  I thank you for stopping by, for liking my posts, for commenting on them.  I thank you for agreeing with me and even more for disagreeing with me! You have provided me with feedback, insight, information, inspiration, advice and above all acceptance.

I thank you for the smiles, hugs and love! I am here to say that there is nothing virtual about them – they are felt!  They make me feel warm inside just like a cup of hot chocolate on a cold day. They make my heart sing a song of joy!

You make me want to be a better person! You keep me accountable!

I read this quote this morning and I think it will be perfect for me in 2015, so I am passing it along to you:

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.” ― Neil Gaiman

Wishing you all an amazing 2015!  May you realize that challenges are opportunities and that mistakes are necessary.  May you wake up every morning with a smile, even if you have to force it.  May you stare fear in the face and at the end of the day smile at the mirror realizing you are much stronger that you thought you were.

2015 is here, what are going to do with it? Life is short, moments are fleeting – live it up!

 

Gratitude is a powerful weapon!

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“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero

I am feeling wonderfully happy and blessed!  It is Christmas, time for family, friends, gratitude, forgiveness and love!

I will spend Christmas alone again, but my heart is so full of gratitude that I feel encircled by love and warmth on this cold rainy evening.  Alone is just a fact and not a feeling! Everywhere I look I see a thank you!

I have so much to be thankful for this year.  My family members are all well and happy!  I don’t need to be next to them to be with them, they are engraved in my heart!  My father is still going strong after winning yet another tough health battle.  We now joke that he has nine lives. Well, actually, I say he has nine lives and my sister says he has 7 lives.  Apparently the world doesn’t agree on how many lives a cat has.  It seems cats in the US live longer than cats in Brazil!  Who knew?

I just remembered that I always say to my mother that she need not worry about me because I am just like a cat.  I may fall, but I always fall on my feet.  Not sure why I thought about that now…I guess I started thinking about the longevity of cats due perhaps because of their ability to withstand adversity.

Moving on,

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” That was supposedly said by Einstein and I agree with it completely.  Well, really, who am I to disagree with Einstein?

I choose to live life as if everything is a miracle. It makes everything better.  Sometimes it takes a little effort.  Things happen, life throws us curve balls. There are big tragedies such as illness, death, financial difficulties, etc. Then there are minor inconveniences such as a late train, you forgetting your umbrella on a rainy day,  somebody raising their voice to you for no reason.  Some days any little thing may have the potential to throw us into a well of self-pity, depression and despair.

Of course the key to everything is not to let people, events, and other things affect us negatively. That is not always possible! But still we have the power to turn negative thoughts and feelings around, and therefore changing our mood and our life.

I normally think I am not mindful of things but I have to say that when it comes to gratitude and appreciation for life I am very mindful. I will catch my mind drifting into ungratefulness and pity and immediately will start reminding myself of all the many ways I am blessed.  I will start enumerating blessings, things such as: 1. My parents are still alive. 2. I am loved by my family and by friends. 3. I have a comfortable and warm bed to sleep on. 4.  I have a great apartment.  5. I have a job that allows me to have a great life.  6.  I am healthy. But the time I get to 5 I am in full gratitude and positive mood.

The key is definitely in how we perceive things.  When you get up in the morning and you choose to be happy and grateful for everything, the Universe listens and returns to you what you are sending into the world. So, not only our actions, but our words and thoughts are very important!

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive—to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love—then make that day count!”
Steve Maraboli

I love to smile on days such as today.  It is rainy, cold, my neighbor rudely closes the door on my face, the train is 15 minutes late, people around me are complaining, everything seems to contribute to make this day a bad one.  But instead, days such as this helps me to practice what I preach. A simple smile already sets my mind and body in the right direction.  I am totally aware of the moment and environment.  I am taking everything in, one thing at a time, digesting it and appreciating it.  The cold rain is a pure hit of energy, I feel alive!  The late train teaches me to be grateful for the job I have where I don’t have a schedule.  The people complaining around me helps me in the exercise of sympathy and understanding – I have no right to judge why they feel the way they do, but I can choose not to act like they do.  I try to turn any judgement I have into positive thoughts towards them. I try to give them a warm smile and sympathetic ear.

“God gave you a gift of 86 400 seconds today. Have you used one to say thank you ” William Arthur Ward

This Christmas I wish everyone more gratitude in their hearts.  There is always more room for gratitude. Lets remember to be thankful for everything around us, the big and the small, the good and the bad.  If we don’t appreciate the small things, we are not deserving of the big things! The bad helps us to be humble, to be understanding, to be simple, to be grateful and to fully appreciate the good when it comes.

This year when I handed the customary envelopes to all the people that provide services for me throughout the year, I made a point of spending an extra few minutes telling them how much I appreciate what they do for me. I cited specific instances where their help was much appreciated.  I don’t know how they felt, but I felt like a million dollars for voicing the feelings in my heart.

“Just an observation: it is impossible to be both grateful and depressed. Those with a grateful mindset tend to see the message in the mess. And even though life may knock them down, the grateful find reasons, if even small ones, to get up.” Steve Maraboli

How about stopping right now and saying a silent prayer of gratitude for everything in your life, or even making a quick mental list of 5 blessings in your life! Gratitude is mood enhancing and empowering! Try it, and then spread it around!

I will never have sex again!

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“Love can only be found through the act of loving.”
Paulo Coelho, By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

I can’t take this song out of my mind for the past few days.

No, I am not depressed, but sometimes I am concerned. Love seems to be eluding me.   I continue to meet some nice guys, but the chemistry is never there.  There are no sparks!

Currently I am dating a math professor, but I think I will not see him again.  I gave it 3 dates and I think that it was enough to see if there were any sparks.  He is a great guy, everything about him is good, except my heart is telling me he is not the one.  There are no fireworks or butterflies in my stomach.

He will be pretty disappointed when I tell him that there will be no romance in our future.  I have been honest with him since the first date, I have told him that I was confused and thought something was missing. He thinks I am amazing, smart and fun.  He is all that too, but that is not enough, or is it?

“My heart might be bruised, but it will recover and become capable of seeing beauty of life once more. It’s happened before, it will happen again, I’m sure. When someone leaves, it’s because someone else is about to arrive–I’ll find love again.” Paulo Coelho, The Zahir

I think I came really close to finding the One (or the one good enough to have sex with) twice in the past 3 years since the break up.  I have felt that excitement of a new relationship complete with fireworks, sparks, the whole kit and caboodle.  Unfortunately those 2 relationships never got off the ground.  Perhaps I imagined them because they both were improbable.

The first guy lived too far, like in across the map.  I was convinced that love would conquer all.  He remained unconvinced, no matter how many inventive ways I came up with to change his mind. Unfortunately the friendship I thought we had disappeared almost as fast as it came.  I still don’t understand it, but respect his choice.

The second guy lived close but was way too young.  He was mature beyond his years, but we both agreed that we were at different stages in life.  We rarely see each other but we have become great friends always keeping in touch and checking on each other via calls and text.

The professor and I in 3 dates managed to go to a Soul Food restaurant, to an awesome wine bar/bistro, to a sports bar.  We played billiards and ping pong.  He won in billiards and I was the victor in ping pong.  We also saw Interstellar on Imax. The movie was not really my cup of tea but the experience was awesome.

The search and the fun continues, as I do enjoy meeting new people and going on dates.  The only thing about not finding sparks and fireworks with anyone again is that at this rate I will never have sex again!  There I said it! :-)

Sex without love? hummm, perhaps… Sex without sparks? Impossible!!

“Anyone who is observant, who discovers the person they have always dreamed of, knows that sexual energy comes into play before sex even takes place. The greatest pleasure isn’t sex, but the passion with which it is practiced. When the passion is intense, then sex joins in to complete the dance, but it is never the principal aim.” Paulo Coelho

“I’ll Never Fall In Love Again”

What do you get when you fall in love?
A guy with a pin to burst your bubble
That’s what you get for all your trouble
I’ll never fall in love again
I’ll never fall in love again
What do you get when you kiss a guy?
You get enough germs to catch pneumonia
After you do, he’ll never phone ya
I’ll never fall in love again
Don’t you know that I’ll never fall in love againDont’ tell me what’s it all about
‘Cause I’ve been there and I’m glad I’m out
Out of those chains, those chains that bind you
That is why I’m here to remind youWhat do you get when you fall in love?
You only get a life of pain and sorrow
So for at least until tomorrow
I’ll never fall in love again
No, no, I’ll never fall in love againI’m out of those chains, those chains that bind you
That is why I’m here to remind youWhat do you get when you fall in love?
You only get lies and pain and sorrow
So for at least until tomorrow
I’ll never fall in love again
Don’t you know that I’ll never fall in love again
I’ll never fall in love again

A ball made me do it – Guilty by reason of PMS!

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“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Sometimes I write a post and if I don’t publish it right away it loses its timing and meaning and I never publish it.    This post is about PMS, an ever present thing in my life and therefore always timely.  Still I was reluctant about publishing this post and presenting myself as this out of control person. In the end I feel this post is necessary to show me that I need to do something about it and perhaps to help at least one woman out there that perhaps is dealing with the same situation.

Even today, more than one week after the event, I am still unsettled by my reaction.  It was all because of a ball!  A small basketball!

I started the day before Thanksgiving feeling unsettled and I wasn’t sure why.  I could tell that something was off about me.  In hindsight I should have known I was PMSing big time, but because lately my period has not been as perfectly scheduled as before it never came to mind. I am normally aware of when I am PMSIng, so on those days I constantly tell myself to take it easy on myself and others and that the problems I am seeing are not as big as they seem.

Some of the wonderful brokers in my office, and please note the sarcasm in my voice, bought a mini basketball set.  They placed it not too far from my door.  Ball playing around me while I am working is one of my pet peeves.   Under normal circumstances it makes me crazy.  On Wednesday, after dealing with it for a couple of days, it made me absolutely nuts.

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Besides all the noise, yelling, betting, etc, the ball would keep rolling in my office and I also couldn’t go to the kitchen without the chance of getting hit by it. I had already told them that if the ball rolled into my office again I would throw it away. Then the ball rolls in and before I grab it someone gets to it first.  I lose it.  I become enraged and blinded by the anger. I walked out and just yelled at the top of my lungs. I was just like a mother yelling at misbehaving kids. There was dead silence, no one dared to say a word.

I went back to my office and tried to get back to normal. After an hour or so one of my partners walks in and says that he has been sent on behalf of the group to ask if they could play ball.  I said no.  He then began to explain how the guys need an outlet on boring days.  I can think of 10 different things, all business related, that they could be doing instead of playing ball.  I raised my voice so that all could hear me and I said: “You know what, yes they can, but I am going to let you know that I am 2 seconds away from walking out of this office and never returning, so it is pretty much up to you”  His face changed and he said: “oh, sorry, I didn’t know it was that bad”. He left, and there was no playing.

Again I am trying to recover and get back to normal, an hour or so passes and one of the brokers throws the ball in my office and comes and picks it up.  I don’t know what he was thinking, I think he was trying to be funny.  By this time I am fit to be tied, I don’t even remember what I said I just remember being loud and pushing him out of the door. I slammed the door so hard that a Christmas decoration I had on it broke in half.

“The best fighter is never angry.” ― Lao Tzu

With that I scared myself!  I sat down and realized I went too far.  I didn’t know who was that person that had just slammed that door.  I am not a door slammer! I hate people that do that.  I was immediately embarrassed and regretful of my actions.  I should have dealt with things differently.

Later that evening I got my period and it all made sense, life came back to normal. I wish that I had had the foresight not to react and specially over-react.  I know better!  That is one of the things that I continue to try to work on: Non-reaction.

He, who reacts always loses. A low, controlled voice is more powerful than yelling.  I know all that and yet at those times I lost all common sense.

I am embarrassed to be seen as this crazy out of control person, something that I am not.  I am embarrassed I let events control me.  I am embarrassed that I couldn’t take 5 seconds and think without reacting.

I know that PMS makes me crazy.  I have often warned people that at this time I cry for no reason, I am a little short-tempered, etc, but never anything of this magnitude. This has been a huge wake up call.

 “Ultimately, the only power to which man should aspire is that which he exercises over himself.” ― Elie Wiesel

On Friday after Thanksgiving I decided to work from home as I didn’t want to see anyone.  This week I had the brilliant idea of moving the basketball set to another location.  Now it is not as annoying, but still things were not over.

So this entire week all has been okay because I am back in control of my senses and also the ball has remained mostly on their side.  There was a couple of incidents, because now they were betting each other to roll the ball into my office, so on Wednesday I confiscated the ball, but returned it on Friday.

The end of the story happened yesterday (Friday).  Again I have the ball coming into my office or running by my door.  At one point one of the guys gets the ball that rolled by my office and looks at me smiling. I said to him: It is not funny.  I didn’t see but the boss was standing near my door.  For the record the boss plays with them too, but he was not present on the day of my outburst the week before.  The boss,  thinking he was being funny and trying to get a rise out of me said: David is still laughing.  Completely in control and not being loud, I got up walked over to where the boss was and said:  “It will be hilarious when I walk out and don’t return because of a ball”

There was this silence and seconds later he comes into my office with the ball in his hands, takes my letter opener and punches holes in the ball and says to me: “I will never lose you over a ball!”

“If you conquer yourself, then you conquer the world” ― Paulo Coelho, Aleph

He proceeded to also place the basketball set outside in the garbage.  Now I am the villain of the office, which I don’t have a problem with that, someone has to be the one trying to make it seem that we have a professional business here.  One of the guys already asked me I am happy that their game was thrown away. I am not happy or sad, just disappointed that things got to that point.

I am ambivalent about the boss’s actions. I think he shouldn’t have allowed the game there in the first place. I do understand that our environment is more laid back than most offices and he wants to provide a friendly atmosphere, but I feel that things were getting a bit out of control.

My plan of attack initially, besides paying more attention to the calendar, is to start taking 2 supplements that my sister takes and that benefits her immensely. She keeps telling me to take them and I have ignored her in the past.  They are Borage Oil and Primrose Oil.  I don’t want to start dealing with hormonal therapy, which I am sure is what a doctor would say if I went to one.  Actually, as a matter of fact, approximately 8 years ago I complained to one doctor about it and he wanted to give me Prozac without even examining me or talking to me for more than 1 minute.  I never went back.

The point of this whole post is to illustrate to me, and my female readers that perhaps are dealing with the same PMS issues, the need to be more vigilant and seek help if they realize they are losing control. Also, sometimes you don’t realize you are losing control until is too late.  I am scared to think of what would have happened if I had a gun in my hands – that is how out of control I felt in that moment.

Be aware, be vigilante, don’t let your guard down!

“Not being able to govern events, I govern myself” ― Michel de Montaigne

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