Own it! Live it! Love It!

My father has taught me many things but one that shapes how I live my life is this…If you do or say something, be woman enough to admit you did it or said it IF the occasion arises that you must own your behavior.  

When I am making a decision I ask myself, “If the Wall Street journal or New York Post runs this story, is it worth it to me?” 

When you make a decision for your life, be woman (or man) enough to own your choice. Sometimes, as a woman of strength and character, you have to make unpopular decisions that are best for you. Other times you just decide that you are a grown woman and you can do and say whatever you choose. In any case, if you choose to do or say it, you must be prepared to own it.  Otherwise, you can set yourself up for a life of guilty regret.

There is nothing worse than being in a situation because of a decision you were either bullied into or just weren't fully onboard with the decision.  We all have had these moments on small scales.  You knew you should not have had that last drink but everybody was having a great time and bought another round. The next morning when you feel like your head is spinning, you are even more angry with yourself because you knew you should not have done it, but you caved to the pressure or maybe you were just trying to be polite. Though a hangover is an easy fix with some Gatorade and Tylenol, other life decisions are a bit stickier. So you need to be wise and move through life at your own pace and on your own terms.

Living your life free to make decisions by your rules is a liberty that most women do not get to enjoy. Societal and family pressure can force us into a life of martyrdom. In order to live a life of freedom to "woman up" to your actions you have to go through a very methodical process of decision making where you ask yourself a list of questions to become certain of exactly what you want to do. For example:

Will I be okay if this turns out differently? 
Will I be angry if it turns out badly?  
Am I doing this because I'm afraid?
Is this something I really want to do or am I being motivated by others?
Will I admit to this action if ever I need to?  

This self examination is particularly important when making relationship decisions.  I knew I was ready to leave my ex-husband when I got to the point where the honest answers to my questions made it abundantly clear what I really wanted to do.

Will I be upset if I see him with another woman? Nope.
Will I be upset if my life is not a success without him? Nope.
Will I be upset if he goes on to be a monster success without me? Nope.
Will I be upset if I never find another man?

Okay! Okay!  I didn't really ask myself that last question but some of you might be thinking that this is your last shot at love. Trust me. If you are asking yourself questions...it is not your last shot.   I finally got to a point where my questioning made me realize that I felt like I could be living in a paper bag and see him ride by in the back of a Maybach having sex with my baby sister and I would still be okay with my decision to leave (and feeling sorry for her).  Yeah, at that point it was time to go.

Sometimes it's not a matter of IF you'll do something, but WHEN you'll do it.  Don't make life-changing decisions until you can wholly own them. You may know what you want to do right now, but you may not be ready to do it. That's okay.  Stay focused on the goal and go at your own pace. 

Here's my rule. I make decisions based upon how the spirit of God leads me and not based upon what others may think, say or do in response to my actions.  I also don't let other's interpretations of what "God says" drive my understanding of my destiny and purpose in life.  For me, there is no blame when things go bad and no credit when they go well.  It is merely, the way my life journey progresses and I own every single step because I'm walking in my shoes...Size 9, 5-inch, strappy Jimmy Choos made just for me.  

The Best Things in Life are NOT Free

They say the best things in life are free.  That is not quite true. The best things in life (family, friends, love, peace, joy) do not require us to spend money. However,  there is a cost to every decision we make or do not make during our journey.  The best things in life are not free. They will always cost us something.

I have just finished an amazing summer with my family and friends.  This was the first summer in many years that I did not fly around the world building equity and value for someone or something that was not actually my own.  I was able to have more than a few girls nights, movie nights, and fun days.  I cooked in my outdoor kitchen ninety percent of the summer days. I ran through my neighborhood, meeting new people, a couple of times a week.  I walked my dog in the morning and actually let her enjoy the walk instead of rushing her through her business so I could get on with my day.  I spent my summer living, laughing and loving everyone and everything around me.  It was fantastic, but it was not free.

The choice to stay home for the summer meant not doing "the blitz" for my second book, "When the Butterfly Falls".  When I wrote my first book, "Par for the Curse",  I traveled all over the country promoting it at book festivals and clubs. This year, I quietly entered the market through social media so I could be home spending time with my family and friends.  The laughter, joy, and peace I had this summer did not require me to spend one dime, but it was not without cost.

I wonder if because we say "the best things in life are free" we often neglect the best things in life.  Because we do not associate a cost with the most important people and things in our lives, we sometimes forget the value of those things.  Here is what I mean by that:

We do not pay money to go to sleep at night.  So we neglect the value of a good night's rest by pushing our productivity into late night hours to do things we consider more beneficial than sleep.

We do not pay money to express our love.  So we often skip the deeply connected "I love you" and rush out the door or off the phone with a quick "Luv you" as a form of saying goodbye rather than a form of expressing our love.

We do not pay money for the joy of watching our children grow up.  So we choose to miss a basketball game, a chess match or a dance recital because there will be other times to do that.

But let me ask you...

What if the next basketball game does not come because you (or God forbid) your child are not alive at that time?  What if the next recital comes but your child is not physically able to dance anymore because of an accident?  I hate to be the sprinkler on your blaze, but we all need to consider that we make a lot of assumptions about the most important things in life.  Is it because we think they are free?

Life is certainly a balance. We cannot spend every moment of every day laughing, loving, kicking it with friends and sitting with family.  We do need to work to sustain ourselves.  There are professional things that require our attention that pose time conflicts with personal events.  But are we really weighing the cost and benefit of those decisions.

Could you go to sleep, get a good night's rest and finish that chapter in the morning?  Does your boss really expect you to be the last one out of the building every night? Think about it.  Are your actions aligned with what you say you value most in life?

So remember...the best things in life are NOT free and sometimes we do not realize how much they cost until we lose them.

Why Powerful Men Cheat?

Whenever someone asks the question, "Why do people cheat?" I usually answer "because they can". That's the entire thing in a nutshell. It's very true that some people have more of an opportunity to cheat than others. Men with great power top that list. Women are drawn to the big three: money, power, and respect. Powerful men usually have all three so women are drawn to them like moths to light. A powerful man struts through a sea of women daily who are just waiting for a chance to bed him and have their moment in the "dark". What else did Monica Lewinsky get from her act with former President Clinton besides bragging rights to say that she did the President? Power draws women giving powerful men not only the inclination but the opportunity to cheat.

Most powerful men have built empires through struggle and sacrifice. They are fierce competitors who are driven by their will to win. What greater trophy to hunt than beautiful women? After walking through the sea of women that are falling at their feet, they get quite intrigued with the one that isn't interested in their power, respect, or even their money. This drives the powerful man crazy because there is something he can't have. It's human nature for all of us to desire the thing we can't have. This quirk is intensified between powerful men and those women that play the cat and mouse game with them. He may not even really want the woman as much as he wants the satisfaction of winning by getting her in the bed.

Powerful men also spend a lot of time at work. That's how they got to be so powerful. Numerous studies have shown that interoffice romances begin because of the amount of time co-workers spend together in contrast to the time they spend at home with their spouses. Powerful men, full of stress and spending late nights in the office, find a comforting embrace or gentle massage enjoyable. Sooner or later that innocent rub on the shoulders becomes pencil cups and in baskets on the floor. The immense time in the office can drive a wedge between the man and his spouse. It can most certainly mess up their sex life. A powerful man working late with raging hormones and sensual thoughts is a bad concoction for a spouse at home.

Powerful men are rule breaks and risk takers by nature. No man ever achieved great power without taking risks and breaking rules. Cheating on a spouse accomplishes both. It's a tremendous risk for a man with great power to get involved in an affair. What was Bill Clinton thinking? He was driven by his power, his ability to make the rules, his impressive ability to take calculated risks and be successful. The very characteristics that allowed him to hide Monica under the table were the same things that made him a world leader. It's the nature of powerful men to break rules and make new ones. I did not sleep with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky. He set the new rule that only intercourse is considered sleeping with someone.
Powerful men by the nature of their lives are susceptible to cheating. It will take the strongest of character and even stronger spouses to contain the outside world in order to preserve the intimacy of a relationship. A man of great power has set his own rules defined by his own desires. The man of great power makes the rules. He doesn't abide by them. So it is sometimes easy to for him forget the number one rule of marriage, which is fidelity.

Do I Have Trust Issues?

All relational interactions require trust. You trust others without even thinking about it. We trust our employers to actually pay us on payday after working our hours for the week. We trust the electric company to keep our lights on if we pay our bill.  I trust my puppy not to pee on the floor if I let her roam around the kitchen. TRUST! It is a necessity in all relationships but never as big an issue as in romantic relationships. If you do not have the ability to trust then you probably will not survive in a relationship. Romantic relationships (dating/marriage) can survive without money.  These relationships can survive without health.  Ironically, many "romantic" relationships continue in longevity without  love.  However, relationships cease to exist without an ability to trust.

What is trust?  Merriam-Webster defines trust as an "assured reliance on the character, ability, strength or truth of someone or something." When we decide to enter into a relationship with someone we have already actively (or subconsciously) decided to trust them to do what is good for the relationship. No woman in her right mind stands at the altar and thinks, "He is going to cheat on me for the rest of my life."  When a man thinks that the woman standing across from him is going to take him for everything he has in his possession. If we trust each other then everything else in the relationship is workable.

So here is a scenario... He cheated on you. He lied to you about cheating. He lied to you about money. At some point in your relationship,  he has lied to you concerning just about everything of importance to you.  You no longer believe a single, solitary syllable that comes from his lips.  You no longer trust him.

Do you have trust issues?  HELL NO!!!  Does he relationship have trust issues? Absolutely! 

Look at the definition of trust again.  It says an "assured" reliance.  If he/she has broken the "assured" and you no longer trust him/her YOU do not have trust issues. He/She has character issues or truth issues or some other aspect of that definition inside of trust is broken.  It is NOT your ability to trust that is broken.  When someone gives you a clear reason to doubt your reliance on their character, ability, strength, etc, you would be foolish to blindly trust them. They have proven to be untrustworthy and need to rebuild that trust.

Having trust issues means you have an inability to trust. So, if you move on from this particular relationship and immediately start holding another person responsible for the actions of this dishonest person, THEN you have trust issues. You may choose to remain in a relationship with a liar, manipulator, or cheater with a proven track record of not being trustworthy.  If he has not put in the work to prove himself again into "assured" then why would you trust him?  You may have forgiveness issues but you certainly do not have trust issues.  So trust yourself and your judgement. Make him/her earn your trust again.