Three Small Words That Will Improve Your Relationships

Thank you, James M. Sama, for reading my mind once again when you wrote this post. I could not possibly agree more with every word of this article. And you even quoted my favorite line from one of my all-time favorite books . . . Seriously, everyone needs to read this article & take it to heart.

James Michael Sama

Many people read through my articles or see what I post on Facebook or Twitter and tell me that they wish their relationship could be “like that.” They tell me the expectations I set for individuals and couples are unrealistic. That nobody is really that happy. That romance and chivalry are just…dead.

To all of you, absorb this: You have the power to do better.

Like anything in life, great things don’t come to those who wish, great things come to those who actually take action and make changes in order to attract the love, success, and happiness they desire.


Are you not happy with the person you’re with? Walk away.

Do they mistreat you or act in ways that are unacceptable? Communicate your concerns to them, and if they don’t change, walk away.

Are they physically or emotionally abusive in any way? Run away. Now.

I understand that it’s…

View original post 490 more words

25 Things I’ve Learned By Age 25

I’ll be 26 in a few weeks, & lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how much I’ve learned about life in the 25 years I’ve been alive on this planet.  I’ve read a lot of articles lately with similar titles to this one, & I’ll admit I kind of hate myself for jumping on the bandwagon so to speak by writing this.  But I really do think I’ve learned some valuable lessons in my first quarter century of life, & I’d like to share some of those today.  Most of them are fairly serious, but some of them are more light-hearted & will hopefully make you laugh.  Let me be clear & say that I fail over & over in following some of these things.  Many lessons in life we have to learn over & over again because none of is perfect.  After all each & every one of us is a work in progress, & that’s as true for me as for anyone else.

These are in particular order.

  1. There is no one right path for everyone. I for one grew up with a very black & white view of the world; in other words, a world that was full of moral absolutes.  But as I’ve grown up I’ve realized how woefully inadequate such a paradigm is for a world as complicated as this one.  I’m by no means saying that I don’t believe in any sort of moral structure, but what I do mean is that most of life is really shades of grey.  Every situation is unique & different & there are very few things in life that fall under the category of “always right” or “always wrong.”  This really isn’t as scary as it may initially sound.  In fact it is just the only logical way of viewing life on this vastly complex planet.  Once you’re grasped this concept it is much easier to understand that the right path for someone else may be very different than the right path for you.  More often than not, neither of you is right or wrong, better or worse, only different.  And that is ok.Dalai lama quote
  2. Money in & of itself doesn’t bring happiness . . . but having enough to meet your needs & at least a few wants is a huge step towards finding contentment in this life. In other words, becoming a millionaire isn’t a guaranteed shot at happiness, but working hard & ensuring that you can take care of yourself & your family is most definitely a worthy goal.  Greed can & does lead to a great deal of evil in this world . . . But so does poverty . . . Consider that the most violent, dangerous areas of this country, indeed this world, are often the poorest.  This leads directly into my next point . . .
  3. Everything in moderation really is a great standard to follow in life. Now obviously there are a few exceptions to this rule, as some things really ought to be avoided altogether (like heroin, for example).  But for the vast majority of things in life moderation really is the best road to follow.  For example, despite what I believed growing up, I now understand that it is perfectly possible to drink in moderation.  (And there is no reason to think doing so is wrong.)  Furthermore, there is nothing wrong with eating ice cream or other sweets every once in a while, but doing so every day will likely not end too well.  As another example, sex is awesome, but for a number of fairly obvious reasons, it’s clearly best to limit the number of people with whom you do it.  In the end, most things in life really are best done in moderation.  Sadly our society has lost sight of this in regard to a lot of things, which is why we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic as well why we have an epidemic of college students who drink themselves to the point of oblivion every weekend.   If only we understood moderation . . .
  4. Dogs really are man’s (& woman’s) best friend. Forget diamonds or money or beer.  Dogs provide companionship & love that just can’t be beat.  I personally believe corgis are the best, but really any breed will do.  I didn’t grow up with dogs so when we first got Chaucer I couldn’t believe the difference in my mood just from having a dog around the house all the time.  They really are amazing.  I’m determined to never be without a dog again for the rest of my life.

    Me cuddling with our adorable Welsh corgi, Chaucer  :)

    Me cuddling with our adorable Welsh corgi, Chaucer 🙂

  5. When you hand someone cash, make sure that the bills are in order from greatest to least (greatest on bottom, least on top) & that all the bills are facing in the same direction (faces up, bills not upside down).  This is just the proper way to handle cash.    If you don’t do it this way the OCD & mildly OCD people of this world, like me, will want to smack you.
  6. Approach everything with an open mind. Sometimes the things you dread the most in life will turn out to be the things you love the most.  And sometimes the things you think you’ll love end up being dull, boring, or just plain miserable.  For example, I can’t tell you how much I dreaded working night shift.  But over three years later I now love it.  I probably won’t want to do it for another 30 years (because it is hard), but for right now it’s perfect for me.  I also went into nursing school thinking I wanted to be an OB nurse because it sounded fun & happy . . . Then I got to OB clinical & realized I was bored & disinterested . . . Instead I found that I loved geriatrics & hospice, things I always thought I’d hate.  Go figure.
  7. When someone is suffering, the best thing you can do is just be there for them. As tempting as it may be, don’t offer advice (unless specifically asked), & don’t try to make the suffering person see the positive side of everything.  Doing so just implies that you are making light of their suffering.  All any of us ever really wants (& needs) to hear when we’re really suffering is just that someone cares & understands that what we’re experiencing is really hard for us.  That’s it.  I’ve been amazed time & time again at how positively people (patients as well as friends & family) respond to a few simple words such as “I’m so sorry you’re going through this right now.  I know it must be really difficult for you.”
  8. Nothing in life is perfect all the time. You will fight with your best friend sometimes.  Your husband (or wife) will sometimes make you irrationally angry.  Your job will sometimes frustrate you so much that you will want to quit.  Your kids may make you question why you ever had them.  There will be days when in fact you question your very existence.  At the end of it all, we just have to find the people & things worth suffering for, the ones who make the bad days worth enduring.  I hope this doesn’t sound excessively pessimistic because I don’t mean it that way.  I’m just being realistic & admitting that life is never perfect.  The sooner we realize that, the sooner we’ll stop being disappointed over the fact that our lives aren’t the fairy tale we think they ought to be.  And we’ll start to understand that the grass really isn’t greener on the other side of the fence.  It’s greenest where you work the hardest & appreciate it the most.
  9. Don’t marry someone who isn’t your best friend. After all, with whom else would you want to spend the rest of your life?  Relationships aren’t half as complicated as most people make them out to be.  Which leads directly into my next point . . .marriage best friend
  10. If a man really loves you, you’ll know it. If he doesn’t, you’ll always be wondering.  (Thank you, James M. Sama, for this wonderful quote.)  Actions really do speak louder than words.  Anyone with enough money can buy you flowers or take you out for a fancy dinner.  But if he doesn’t support your dreams & goals, challenge you to be the best version of yourself, spend time with you even when you’re not at your best, & be there for you during all the best & worst moments of your life, then you need to move on to someone who will.  If a man really likes you & is interested, he WILL call you.  He WILL make specific plans to see you.  And he WILL respond to your texts.  This is really just common sense.  (By the way, I believe all of these things also hold true with the genders reversed.)
  11. Go to as many concerts as you can. I’m not suggesting you spend every penny of your savings on this, but you seriously should not miss out on the ones that are really important to you.  If they’re cheap &/or you can afford it, go to a few with friends even if the bands don’t interest you that much.  You never know when you will discover a new favorite band that you’d never heard of before.  It’s definitely happened to me.  And the only concerts I’ve ever regretted are the ones I’ve missed out on attending.

    eric church concert

    I’m going to see Eric Church for a third time next month . . . And I can’t wait!

  12. Read as much as you can. There is no better way to broaden your horizons & open your mind.  And there is no better way to escape from the humdrum of daily life.  Reading will make you smarter, more articulate, & more well-rounded.  Just do it.
  13. On a related note, be suspicious of anyone who doesn’t read at least a little bit for pleasure or who isn’t passionate about at least one kind of music. There is just something seriously wrong with these people.  If nothing else, they are incredibly boring.  Sorry, I’m not sorry.
  14. If you don’t like how your life is going, start making different choices. As adults there is no one else we can blame for our own mistakes or circumstances.  No, we can’t control everything that happens to us, but we can control how we react to it.
  15. Do the best you can with what you have where you are. (Thank you, Teddy Roosevelt, for that brilliant quote.)  I built my senior salutatorian speech around this quote, & I find it just as relevant now as I did seven years ago.  We’re all born into different circumstances & it goes without saying that some of us are given unfair advantages & disadvantages to start out with in life.  But if we make the best of what we have, it’s amazing how far we can go, no matter how meager our beginnings may be.teddy roosevelt
  16. Life isn’t fair. The sooner we come to terms with this, the sooner we can make peace with the injustices of life & work to make the world a better place.  We will never understand the reason some things happen, but that doesn’t change the fact that they happen.  For example, young people suffering from terminal illnesses is horrible & completely unfair.  But if we spend our time obsessing over the unfairness of it, we’ll never be able to help these people.  I volunteer with hospice because I know that people are suffering & dying whether I’m involved or not.  But I enjoy working with people & their families at the end of life, & if I can do even a few small things to make the process more bearable, I’m happy to do it.
  17. The best music is rarely on the radio. Go to YouTube & play around for a while.  Go to live concerts & discover new bands.  If you want to listen to something more interesting than songs about incessant partying, drinking, & dating, you have to work for it (sadly).
  18. The best food in the entire world is Indian food. Curry is the answer to all boring recipes.  Just try it.  (If you’re in the Raleigh-Durham area, try India Gate in Durham.  The lunch buffet is heavenly, & the price & service can’t be beat either.)indian_food
  19. Whatever physical “faults” you’re most self-conscious about, the rest of the world probably doesn’t even notice them. Seriously, we are all our own worst critics.  No one is paying half as much attention to your big forehead, crooked nose, or acne as you are.
  20. Never pretend to be something or someone you’re not to make someone else like you. If you’re being fake, you will inevitably be found out & it will never work anyway.  If someone doesn’t appreciate you for who are really are, you don’t need them in your life anyway.
  21. High school is barely a blip on the radar in the course of your lifetime. (Thank goodness!)  Seriously, the cool kids in high school are rarely all that cool past high school.  Who you were in high school won’t, or certainly shouldn’t, define who you are afterward.  If the high point of your life was high school, your life is really sad.  Trust me, real life isn’t half as bad as everyone says.
  22. Emotions are just emotions. There is no bigger waste of time than feeling guilty over being angry or sad or experiencing some other “negative” emotion over something.  Quite often these emotions are just natural human reactions to events in our lives.  The only thing that really matters is how we handle & respond to these emotions.avoidance
  23. We are all hypocrites. No matter what we believe or don’t believe, we are all hypocrites sometimes.  It’s ok.  None of us is perfect.  The important thing is to keep trying & to stay humble.
  24. Never judge people based on superficial things such as dress, tattoos, piercings, or accent. Or at least don’t be so indecent as to dismiss people entirely based on these kinds of superficial things.  In doing so, you will often miss out on the true nature of the person.  However, as unfair as it is, we do need to be aware that the vast majority of the world does judge others based on these things.  I’m not saying we should change these things about ourselves to appease others.  I just think we all need to be aware of the fact that, for better or worse, our outer appearance & demeanor are the first things people notice about us.
  25. The only thing we can really be certain of in life is that it is uncertain. And the only thing that never changes is that life is always changing.  I talked about this on here a few weeks ago.  This doesn’t have to be depressing.  We just need to realize that we’re never promised tomorrow.  And we’re certainly never promised a tomorrow that looks anything like our past or the present.  Thus we need to appreciate all the little things in life & make the most of every opportunity & experience that comes our way.  Life is far too short to do anything but have as much fun & do as much good as we possibly can.change quote gb shaw

10 Ways to Simplify Relationships

Perhaps it’s because my husband is traveling for his job but I’ve spent a lot of time this week thinking about relationships & how people tend to make them way more complicated than they need to be.  May I be the first to admit this includes myself sometimes, lest I should sound like I’m implying that I’m some kind of relationship guru which I clearly am not?  I’m not even sure such a thing exists.  Anyhow, I’ve been slacking off on my blog posts this week, which might seem like a sign that I’ve run out of ideas, but what it actually means is that I’ve been overwhelmed by ideas, yet haven’t been able to light on any of them.  In any case I’ve decided to compile a list of ways to simplify relationships & thus simplify life.  Here we go.

  1. Be honest about what you want out of a relationship from the very beginning.  If you want a friends with benefits type of arrangement, say so.  If someone tells you that’s what they want & you aren’t truly in agreement, for the love of YOURSELF, say so.  Don’t pretend to be ok with something you aren’t & then be surprised when it doesn’t work out later.  On the other hand if you’re serious about a relationship, say so.  I’m not advocating proposing marriage on a first date, but don’t be afraid to say you’re serious.  And don’t be afraid to say no to someone who is serious about you if you truly don’t reciprocate.  Again, pretending never ends well.  Have enough self-respect to be honest about your feelings & goals from square one.  This leads right into number two.
  2. Give respect.  Get respect.  It really is that simple.  Don’t play mind games with anyone.  Don’t “test” someone by asking to spend time with an ex or some childish prank like that, just to see how they react.  Just be forthright and respectful.  Treat the other person the way you want to be treated.  Don’t expect special treatment because of your gender or anything else.  Be an adult.
  3. Don’t place unrealistic expectations on your partner (or yourself).  Getting married or being in any serious relationship doesn’t mean you sign away your humanity.  Regardless of your gender, you will inevitably still be attracted to other people, & that doesn’t lessen the love you feel for your partner.  It’s just part of being a human being.  Just be cognizant of it & know your limits.  Don’t be one of those childish people who expects their partner to suddenly think they are the only sexy person on planet Earth.  That just screams of insecurity.  Just let out all of your sexual energy on each other & you’ll be just fine.
  4. Never stop getting to know your partner.  After you’ve been together a long time, it’s so easy to think you’ve already figured someone out & to stop putting in the time to really understand each other because you think you already know it all.  Trust me, I know.  My husband & I had been together almost a decade by the time we got married.  But I’m still pleasantly surprised to find out that we don’t know everything about each other.  There is always more to learn & that’s part of what makes a relationship fun.  As an addendum, if your relationship is right, marriage shouldn’t change things very much because the relationship was already there.
  5. Don’t make someone a priority who doesn’t do the same for you.  If a guy likes you, he WILL call you back.  And vice versa.  Someone who cares for you & respects you WILL make time for you, WILL get to know you, & will even make time for your friends & family because they know those people are important to you.  They WILL support your dreams & goals in life & will in fact expect you to have dreams & goals.
  6. Don’t over-analyze or make up excuses for bad behavior.  If someone treats you poorly, do yourself the justice of walking awayThe Perks of Being a Wallflower got it right: we accept the love we think we deserve.  If you find that your partners are always treating you badly, think about what that says about how you view yourself.  I’m not excusing bad behavior.  I’m just saying don’t expect someone to change.  If they really love you, they’ll treat you right from the beginning.  Where’s the motivation to change for the better if you’re always there “rewarding” them even when they treat you like crap?  Sorry if that’s blunt, but relationships can be messy.  It’s all this silly beating around the bush nonsense that makes them so much more complicated than they need to be.
  7. Realize that deep down we are all still pretty primal.  This is why no matter how unfair it is women are judged much more harshly for their sexual decisions than men.  Is it fair?  No.  But biologically it actually DOES make sense.  (We’re the ones who can get pregnant so it makes sense that biologically we’d be inclined to be a bit more discriminating about our partners.)  No matter how enlightened & empowered we are, we women ARE more sexually vulnerable whether we like it or not.  This doesn’t excuse bad behavior on the part of men.  No way.  I’m not saying we can’t rise above our “animal instincts.”  Men are perfectly capable of being committed & faithful, as are women.  I’m just saying that we need to realize why men think the way they do & why women think the way they do.
  8. This one is crucial but is really hard to put into words.  Look for the guy or girl who is good in all the right ways & bad in all the right ways.  I don’t know how to write this out, but you probably know what I mean.  As with everything in life, it’s all about balance & moderation.  James M Sama wrote a fabulous blog post about this idea, & there is no way I can say it as well as he did so I’m just going to leave you the link to his brilliant article:
  9. Don’t feel the need to spend every single second together.  A truly great relationship will give you the confidence to be alone sometimes.  Or to be apart & know that things are still going to be ok.  If your partner wants a day or two to spend with their friends or family without you, let them.  Couples who really trust each other don’t feel the need to be together 24/7.  You were a person before you met your partner & you’re still your own person even with them.  Don’t forget that.
  10. This one is a big one & might cause some controversy but I’m going to write it anyway because I truly believe it . . . Give up on the idea that there is only ONE RIGHT PERSON for you.  The older I get the more I believe that there is a right TYPE for everyone & that you may very well meet several people in your life with whom you could be very happy in a relationship.  Notice I didn’t say anyone will be PERFECT for you.  There is no Mr. or Mrs. Perfect because human beings are inherently flawed.  But there are plenty of great people out there, a few of whom might be wonderful matches for you.  When you find one, be smart enough to go after them.  When you’ve got one, hold onto them.  Someone else may cross your path who might also be a great match but don’t ruin what you’ve already got on a chance at something else.  I’m a big believer in science & logic so I wish I could say there was a scientific way to KNOW when you’ve met one of these RIGHT people, but there isn’t.  You just know.  I always remember hearing that as a kid & thinking it was ridiculous.  But it’s so true.  You know when you meet a friend & you just know right off that you really “click” & that this person is going to be a friend for life?  It’s very much like that.  As I’ve said many times before, relationships are really just friendships with a bit of amplification so to speak.

Well, I hope you have found this list intriguing.  As I said, I’m no relationship guru or expert by any means.  I’m just trying to spread a little logic & wisdom into the very chaotic world of relationships that exists in our society.  I’m by no means 100% faithful to all of these tenets at all times, but I do try my best & in writing this I have renewed my devotion to putting these ideas into place in my own marriage.  I hope perhaps you too have found a little inspiration.  I truly believe simplifying relationships can actually make them deeper & more fulfilling.  The simple life really is the best.  Cheers!