Learning to invest in me

Hey all...
Since the beginning of my journey...it's been a process of learning and unlearning.
I can't go into it all now.
But what I can tell you is this:
The moment that you say...out loud..what you most feared saying.
It loses its power. 
Then you are able to be honest. 
Investing in yourself isn't just about education, or eating well or exercise.
It's investing in relationships.
I never knew that before I got well.
I thought I had to do it all alone.
I heard a preacher say once, there is no fruit without relationship...
You can have a nice Apple tree, but until you get a companion tree...there is no fruit.
I did not know this when I began my blog.
But I was beginning relationships.
The relationships you allow will bear fruit.
Good fruit or bad fruit.
It depends on the relationship.
And sometimes you have to be willing to chop it all down and start again...
And sometimes you have to decide whether to rip it out be the roots..or leave it....and this time, grow something that isn't twisted and ugly, but carefully tended and cared for.
It's hard to say whether it was the Gardner, the tree, or the circumstances.
Or maybe all three.
The Gardner has changed.
As has the soil..
I guess we will see.
The fruit of this blog has been plentiful and beautiful.
I have another idea brewing..another tree.
It's a seed.
We will see.
I invested in myself today.
I told the truth.
And pre made my food for work.
Now to invest in my other relationships.
Have a wonderful day.
Chris out.


How to make the big decisions

Big title.
This subject is on my mind for reasons I can't fully express..
(Not my marriage...it's better than it has been in years. A subject for another post)
I am speaking of decisions that are incredibly painful...life and death..beginnings and endings.
I speak of decisions that you know SHOULD be made..but aren't being made because someone doesn't want to make the final call.

Because doing so means bearing the weight of the outcome.  
The uncomprehending censure of strangers who have no skin in the game. 
It means being the one with dirty hands because you were the only one with the courage to put a stop to it...call an end to it..start the fight...make the tough calls..fire the person...protect the people. 
It's leadership.  

And for once I am going to give props to my abusive stepfather.
This is a tough story...if you have a sensitive soul or stomach, look away.
When I was about seven or eight...we had a beagle named jack.
He was a great dog, but he was always slipping his chain and running loose...(back in those days...dogs were outside. Period). Well, on this particular day, we were running with jack in the yard...and he went too far..and ran into the road.  Where he was struck by a truck.  
It had crushed his back end and his insides were outside...but being a child..I didn't know that wasn't fixable..I ran inside to get Duane.  He came out and knelt next to that dog and petted him..the dog was yelping....I couldn't hear what Duane said..but he stood up and lit a cigarette and just stood there for a second.  Then he turned and walked back toward the house..all three of us kids started crying, asking..."aren't you going to help?! " 
And I will never forget this, he pointed and said.."GET IN THE HOUSE." 

He said it twice..so we started back for the house, and when we got there, he was coming out with his rifle.  I turned around on the porch..and Duane went up to jack, petted him one last time and then shot him in the head. 
I was so horrified. 
I just stood there...and it was only something I can understand now, as an adult. 

The nearest vet was 40 miles away.  

That dog was suffering. 

 And someone had to fix it.  

Not every decision in life is like that.
But when it is, someone has to take the lead...take the heat.

When everyone knows that something needs to done, but no one does it...there is a decision being made.
Duane could have scraped that dog off the pavement, knowing there was no hope..
to look like the good guy. 
To save himself from having to shoot his favorite (and it was his favorite) hunting dog.
He could have allowed that dog the indignity of a slow, agonising death over forty miles of washboard country roads.  
The dog no doubt dying somewhere along the way.  
That would have been easier.
When there is a painful decision to be made, very often we decide by not deciding.  
It's a strategy that can delay pain, but usually someone has to pay...
for a woman in an abusive relationship..it could be her children...
For a woman who finds a lump in her breast but, puts off seeing the doctor...it is both her, and her family...
for an accountant who sees fraud but doesn't report it, retirees are stripped of their retirement...
for the relatives of the mentally unstable, or drug abusers..
the lack of confrontation can lead to an over dose.  
Or in the case of Adam Lanza..the death of twenty children.  

and for a man and his dog, it's a creature who is unable to ease its own suffering..made to linger and die.

We need more courageous leaders.  
We need more people willing to stand up and take the heat.
Lately I have noticed my deferral...I have been putting off switching jobs.
My original intent was to get enough experience to work at a bank. 
I would rather work with women who are extricating themselves and their children from abusive situations. 
I would like to work for tessa. 
In an administrative assistant capacity.  
I would like to do the nuts and bolts work of referring services, helping these women help themselves.
I would also like to resume my training and teach self defense. 
Neither of which are possible should I continue full time in my current position. 
So I am beginning to learn some skills that I will need to get the job I desire...I need to learn excel, word, and business writing.
  I will disappoint some people when I choose to move on, but it's better than disappointing myself.
Don't decide by not deciding.
Don't drift to the end of your life unfulfilled because of fear of failure, or incurring the displeasure of people who will not even remember your name in five years.

You only have one life with which to make an impact. I don't plan to spend one minute more than is necessary doing something I merely tolerate...when I could be doing something I love.

Chris out.


The importance of praise

Boy...I don't blog much...I think I am developing a pattern though. I blog when I have something to clarify in my own mind...
What has been on my mind lately is this concept of leadership. 
Since becoming a manager I have gone through distinct stages...and as I evolve in my job, I have come to understand the meaning of the phrase "it's lonely at the top. "

Now understand, I am hardly holding a prestigious position. 
I am a full time assistant manager at a dollar store. 
That being said...some things are an across the board proposition.  
Once you are seen to be in a position of responsibility...certain things are no longer allowed...you can't skip facing a problem..in fact, you are called on to solve other people's problems...
And you can have a bad day...you just can't allow it to show...and if you don't really know the exact way to proceed, you'd better work at it till you figure it out. Quitting is not an option...
And finally..and most importantly...when you lead, it's important to not only spot the problem...but to commend the effort. 

I have boss who is excellent at spotting the issues...bad at praising good effort. She is a hard worker..she is fair..but much like me, came up rough. We were both more likely to get a swift boot in the ass than a thank you, or a good job.  
But after going through the last few years...and all that entailed...and coming to realise, through blogging and mental reprogramming, the power of words...the words "great job" or "thank you" can be as motivating as a pay raise...and picking out the one thing NOT done in amongst the plentitude of hard work given by a well intentioned employee will kill any initiative and drive that had previously resided in their soul.  
In short...sometimes it's better to ignore the minor fault and praise the major effort.
This goes for you...your kids..employees..spouses.  
Will nitpicking the small fault Instill a sense of motivation?  
Maybe, in a small minority.
In, I would say, 80 percent of people...it brings forth resentment and apathy...
As dale Carnegie said in his book winning friends etc. if you are going to criticize, begin with honest praise...and end with constructive criticism.  
You'll get more out of yourself and others if people know that their efforts are seen, felt and appreciated.

Chris out.


Kindness is never wasted...except on assholes

Life is a messy conundrum. 
There are all sorts of people in the world.
We should embrace differences..respect others..it makes for a more interesting life.
But sometimes we need to pick up our figurative ball, and go home.
Some people love the sound of their own opinions.  
The only conversation they need, is a good echo chamber..and the only person they respect is themselves...
These people are called narcissists.
True narcissists c annot be healed.
They are clinically ill.
I believe our society fosters low level narcissists.
It can be difficult to distinguish between your clinical narcissist and your narcissist by training and choice.  
The narcissist by choice can only be distinguished by a series of trial and error.
Or one good way is to ask them this question.  
How do you think you can improve? 
A true narcissist is so deep in their own delusion, they won't be able to come up with an answer.  
Your everyday asshole will have one, they just won't be sharing it with you. 
Why all this attention on pucker factor?
Because, I am forty.
I am too old to be dealing with assholes on a personal level.
I am glad I am healed enough to set boundaries and decide who is or is not in my life..because I REFUSE to spend one more minute in the presence of soul suckers. This includes people who believe they are better than everyone....who constantly bitch and moan, and blame others for their self imposed misery. People who go out of their way to belittle and humiliate others who either believe differently or live differently.  
I am filling every last square inch of my life with believers and doers and up lifters. 
I will help those who need it.. And I won't waste time on judging other people's choices or lives. What a waste of time.  
How void and empty it is, and how silly..to believe you are better because you have a higher iq...when you can't even make a friend or keep a relationship. There are all kinds of intelligences and gifts.
How narrow and myopic to whittle it down to recitation of facts and figures.

I have experienced joy without fear twice in the last week.  Pure joy.
For no other reason than that I was alive. That I had spent time with people who accept me and respect me...and my favorite song was playing.
My nickname as a child..that was given to me by my stepfather Duane, was dummy.
I lived in fear that I would never be smart enough...so I picked people who I thought would teach and correct me.  I no longer need that. 
I am not a dummy..I am me...special and talented and flawed...and I see no need to correct that.
Our flaws are what make us interesting and unique. Our acknowledged weakness gives us compassion for the brokenness of others.
I spent so much time trying to fix what wasn't truly broken.  
The broken part was only the shame that came from thinking I had to be perfect to be loved.
When you feel that way...that you need to be fixed...you draw people who think they can fix you...and what kind of person believes they can fix somebody? 
You guessed it.
A narcissist.
Guess what I found out...when you love yourself, warts and all...narcissists either flee..or you will kick them to the curb in quick fashion. 
Because being fixed becomes insulting.
That's my thoughts for the week. 
See you in a few days.
Chris out.


Simple does not mean easy

I don't know if you have ever noticed my web address...
Chris lives simple dot blog spot dot com

Why not live deliberately?

Because, a discovery I made fairly early in life was this...the more complex something was made...the less likely it was to hold true or have integrity.

Ie if you can't explain it in brief...something is wrong...
Liars embellish.
Uncertain people over explain.
People in denial will talk in circles.

There is some half truth, excuse, avoidance...you name it...you strip all the bark off and you'll find the wood...
For instance...what color is the sky?

Blue.  Grey?  It has an answer...
Why doesn't grandma come over anymore?  Or whoever...
I came to discover that the quickest and best way through any situation involved total honesty, and a simple recitation of the facts as they lay before me.
Life was simpler that way..
if you can't be brutally honest with at least yourself...you are going to run into all kinds of problems. 

Or you will deny them so long, they'll run into you.

Simple, however, doesn't mean easy. 
It just means simple.

Married, don't cheat.
Fat? Eat less, move more.
Uneducated, go to school.

Left unsaid are the hurdles or excuses that have been constructed by yourself, circumstances, or other people.
Usually mental.
Sometimes physical.
Sometimes spiritual.

I know a young lady who has made a hash of her life...pregnant young, many poor choices which have lead to run ins with the law...bad home life because of two parents who were immature and self centered...
She came into my office crying one day..she had been sleeping with a married man.  He was using her because she was available.  
She had all sorts of reasons why she was in this relationship...the usual one about a distant wife...gag...loneliness and the idea that this man truly cared for her.  
I then asked her if she really thought he cared for her?   
And she hesitated.
And I said...there you go. 
After listening to the litany of bad choices by both herself and others, it all coalesced into this one thought...I said.. "Hon, at any moment you can stand up and turn around, and turn your whole life around.  You can say to that man..I deserve more than to be treated as a convenience. To your parents who are alcoholic and verbally abusive, that you deserve respect and attention..and to yourself, that you can raise the bar for how you treat yourself and allow others to treat you...from down here, to up here...and never owe anyone a damn explanation. "

She didn't look convinced.

The following week...after once again making the choice to allow this man to use her...he began to blame her for all his problems...she said that's when the light came on...she said she patted him on the shoulder...said," you are right...we are over." He chased after her..attempted an apology.....she didn't explain...because she didn't owe him one...started going to church and is in the process of turning her life around...and it wasn't me saying it...it was her DOING IT.

it really doesn't matter what IT is...the most important thing you can do is pierce the veil of shame(I am sleeping with a married man) get support from a loving and truly caring person (who will tell you the truth but not condemn) and then face the truth with brutal honesty...and begin the process of change.  Was it easy for this young lady to turn from what was her only real (but ultimately fictional)source of comfort? No.
Once she did, she began to regain self respect...she started going to church and building a larger network of friends...making better choices..being a more present mother...she is five weeks in, and still has a very long row to hoe...but she will get there...the steps were clear and simple...but not easy. If you are trying to lose weight...the steps are clear and simple.

Not easy.

You will run into setbacks....
You didn't get where you are without setting up a whole support structure to sustain it. 
It won't be easy to slow, stop and turn around.
The older and more ingrained the habits, attitudes, friends and situations...the more difficult...
Putting it off won't make it easier...starting today avoids additional pain.
Very few things in life worth doing are easy...
But when we are truly honest with ourselves and strip away the bullshit...they are simple concepts.
Hang in there...I know I am...
I am up to five days a week of exercise...plus the five miles I traverse the store each night.
No more drive through, sugar or white flour...simple steps...done daily to reap a long, hard won reward.

Have a great day guys.
Chris out.


How to completely change your life....live in the now.

Today represents a milestone in my life and in the life of my marriage. Today I out earned my husband. Today, I earned 200 dollars more this pay check then he did.. I got a huge bonus based on sales..and for the first time in our marriage, I out earned him.

New readers will find this petty...so, before you comment...scroll through older posts...older readers know why this matters.

Dear friends,  it only took me 14 months.

14 months ago, I had no job experience, no education, nothing.
 Now I earn as much..when I'm not earning more.

I say this for only one reason.
If you are stuck, get unstuck...
Just decide.
Then do it...
You are already scared, hurt, confused and discouraged...
Make it mean something.
I watched castaway last night....and there is a scene where he weaves a rope to hang himself....but he doesn't use it.
Then he gets his courage back.
And he realises he needs to weave rope to put a boat together.. He gets down to the end and realizes he doesn't have enough rope...then he remembers the rope hanging from the tree branch....he retrieves it and uses it to save himself.
It's up to you what you do with the life you have created....with your innate abilities...
There are skills in you, honed from years of dealing with tragedy and pAin that God is waiting to use for your renewal and ultimate success...you just have to see a different purpose for your rope...
You have to believe something different can happen... And that takes a lot of faith... Something I didnt always have. So instead of faith in tomorrow, I placed my faith in the now. I can control now... I can decide to try and keep trying..now. And worry about the rest later...except my little trick is.. There is no later. Later never comes. It's always now. So concern yourself with now...and let later take care of itself.
A noose...
Or freedom...
You decide.
Chris out.


I can tell you how to completely change your life

So here goes:
(to anonymous)

1.)  Put down the victim card.

seriously...put it down.

What is the victim card?

It's your 'get out of life free' card.

It's the card you pull out every.single.time. real change is about to happen....
and you are scared...
It's the card you pull out when the challenge seems too big.
It's the card you use to excuse your lack of action (or inaction, as it were).

The victim card is unique to each person.
My victim card was multi layered and fathoms deep....I had many in fact.
My first victim card was my childhood.
In reality, yes, I was 'victimized'.
But the sad reality is that I furthered that victimization by damaging myself as I aged.
Of course there were psychological issues involved...issues that needed to be addressed.

The  victim card comes into play only when you KNOW there are issues..and then use your victimization as rationalization to skip addressing the issues.
The quickest shortcut to circumventing any real change is to continue to blame your problems now. on your past.
i.e. You know you have an irrational fear of men..but never go to a counselor to address the issue..instead you go through life avoiding situations you find uncomfortable, then use your fear of men instigated by your childhood (now your victim card) to avoid any challenging or growth inducing experience.
Then state that the reason you are stuck is because you were a victim.
But you see, you are no longer a victim held hostage to a more powerful person.
You are now a victim held hostage to your own inertia and excuses.
Because where you are NOW is a more comfortable place, a more comfortable existence, than the unknown.
 If you want to change, you have to be willing to put everything on the table.


Your perception of reality..
Because your perception of reality may be 100 percent fucked.
Especially if you had an abnormal or psychologically damaging childhood.
How you view relationships, yourself, your abilities..


May very well be wrong.

And the idea that you may have based every decision in your life from a space of fear and skewed perception, instead of a space of possibility and opportunity....makes you want to grab your victim card and run  for the hills.
The only thing more tragic than the time you have wasted...

would be to WASTE.MORE.TIME.

The only way to get the life you want..the only way to START.
Is to put down that victim card.
And pick up the winner card.
What do winners do?
They do what is necessary.
They base decisions, not on wishful thinking, but on objective reality.
Are you willing to lay down your victim card, examine your excuses and move forward to change the way you approach your life?
If you aren't....then don't bother.
Any change you make will be temporary.
Because if your perspective were a true map of the terrain..if what you are doing is making you happy...why are you so damn miserable...why does the same thing keep happening..
If you find yourself stuck in the same place year after year..
either reality needs to change
or you do.
figure it out.
That's part 1 in how to completely change your life.