Archive for the ‘Self-esteem, self-respect’ Category

“Hi, I’m Chanteel. It’s nice to meet you Susan,” she said as she shook my hand and sat down.

Immediately a few of the other women chuckled and shook their heads. One of them took a piece of paper, rolled it up into a ball and threw it at her. “Oh, really now? Now your name is Chanteel? Where the hell do you get these names? You got a book or something?”

More of the women started laughing. Chanteel just smiled, took the ball of paper and smoothed it out.

I wasn’t sure what was going on, but I ignored the interruption of the class. “It’s nice to meet you too, Chanteel.” I handed her some materials. “We are just getting started, so you haven’t missed anything. We are on page three, so just open up your book there and jump in.”

She smiled and nodded. She was, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful women I had seen. She was blonde with deep blue eyes and cheek bones that went on forever. Her hair was pulled back, but it was thick. She wasn’t wearing make-up because when you are in jail, it’s not something you are very concerned with. Your basic concern was surviving each hour, each day and each week until you got out. Some never knew when that would be as all of the women I was working with were in custody waiting for trial.

Some had been waiting for two years. All of them were overweight and lethargic from the food and being in their cells 23 hours out of 24. None of them slept because of the constant noise and stress and many spent most of their time lying in bed and crying. If they weren’t crying, they just laid there, staring up at the ceiling or the bunk above them.

This was a new group of incarcerated and battered women I had been given to help. I was there to teach them about self-respect and learning how to get along better with people. Yes, it was a lot to do, but I found most of them receptive, needy and quite pleasant to work with.

Let’s face it. Life doesn’t get much worse when you are in jail and have lost your children to foster care. Any and all help is appreciated and it was a very rare occasion when anyone of them gave me any trouble. Those that did were usually just too stressed to do anything else but sit and cry.

Chanteel looked to be in her mid-30’s but I found out later she was only 23. This was her third time in jail and her probation officer had pushed hard for her to get into my program. There was just something about her that made you want to help her even though you knew when she got out, she would most likely revert. He wanted her in the program so it would look good for the judge when she went before him. I don’t even remember the charges that were pending against her but she was not violent. Just stupid.

She was as pleasant as could be until I started talking to her after class. She hung around to talk with me. I grabbed a cup of coffee and sat down to listen.

Within three minutes I could see she was way out of touch with reality. Her conversation with me jumped from one topic to another with no rhyme or reason. She would be mid-sentence and then start another conversation about something completely different.

But I sat and listened and became quite fascinated by her. She was a dichotomy of complete brilliance in her thoughts and observations and insane from the life she had led.

She was only 23, but she had been through more tragedy and heartbreak in those few years than anyone else I had known.

I worked with her as best as I could during the next few weeks. She was always pleasant and kind. Each week, she would tell me she had changed her name. I always made sure to call her by her new name. The other women would just snicker. This never seemed to bother her.

I asked her one day why she changed her name so often. She bit her lip, looked down and gave my question quite a bit of thought before answering.

“No one has ever asked me that question before. They usually just laugh at me.”

“Well, I’m curious, so tell me why.”

She smiled. It was a beautiful smile. “Because I am trying to figure out who I want to be. I hate who I am and what I’ve done, so I want to be someone else. I try on different names to see if I like them. So far, I haven’t liked any of them.”

This made sense to me. “Yes, I wish I could do that sometimes myself.”

I eventually got in contact with her Probation Officer because, quite frankly, she fascinated me. I never ask about a persons past when they start my program. It is not relevant. What is relevant is today and maybe tomorrow.

There wasn’t much he could tell me but I was able to gather from him and my contact at the facility that this young woman entered the foster care program at the age of 6 months and it has been all she has ever known.

She tested highly on her IQ and she was literate and able to read and understood what she read.

That is all I will say about her, but trust me – you don’t want to know. It broke my heart.

After one particular night with her, I left the facility sad. When I got home, I called my Mom, hoping she was still up.

As soon as she answered the phone, she asked if I was OK.

“I’m fine. Just wanted to say hello.”

‘You’ve been in jail again, haven’t you?” she asked.

Ah, my Mom knows me so well. “Yes, I was there tonight.”

“Yes, I love you. Yes, you’re welcome for having a wonderful childhood. No, you aren’t my favorite child. You all are.”

This made me laugh. “There was something else I wanted to say.”

“Go ahead,” she said.

“I’m proud of you. I’m proud of what you had to overcome and I’m proud of you for not raising us like you were raised.”

“You’re welcome. Now get some sleep and don’t start crying. I’m proud of you too.”

I never saw Chanteel after that. She had been released but had asked for my cell number. We don’t give these out but the Program Director told me about it. He had told her he couldn’t give that out and said she started to cry as she walked out the door with her suitcase and nowhere to go.

“If she calls again, give it to her,” I said.

He raised an eyebrow. “You sure Susan?”


Every few months, I get a phone call from her. She told me the last time I talked to her that she settled on a name (which I am not going to say) and I liked it. It fit. She always lets me know how she is doing but never tells me where she is. That’s OK. I don’t want to know.

‘Do you know why I call you Susan?” she asked the last time we talked.

“I have no idea.”

“Because you helped me and I’ve stayed out of jail since then. You like me just the way I am.”

Yes I do.

“There but for the grace of God go I.”

She spent two years trying to kill me emotionally and spiritually and to this day, I still don’t know why. But I know she tried and failed.

It was in the 5th and 6th grade when this happened. The school I was going to was right down the street from me and all of us students knew each other. We all lived within walking distance and were all friends for the most part.

There were always new students coming and going, but being female and of the age where what others thought of me defined who I was, I didn’t always get to know the “new kids” simply because I had so many friends that I had grown up with.

The school decided that since we were going to be attending Junior High soon, they would acclimate us to having to move from one class to another rather than having only one teacher for the entire day.

This bothered me because I loved my teacher, Mrs. Aronson. She was VERY old since she was probably in her 60’s and I was 10 but I loved her and she had been the only teacher I had known since first grade.

But the “Powers That Be” wanted us to learn how to go from classroom to classroom and have all of our materials with us, so the journey began and I was put in a Math class with a teacher called Mrs. McDougal.

The moment I saw her, I froze. She was much younger than Mrs. Aronson and very pretty. She dressed sharply and had the most beautiful hair I had ever seen. It was straight where mine was curly. She was thin and I was approaching puberty and starting to have very strange things happen with my body.

She stood at the front of the class and glared at us. She then did roll call and quickly rearranged where we were to sit. She didn’t know most of us and I had never seen her before, but she pointed her finger at me and said “Susan, come over and sit right here,” which was the first seat in the first row, closest to her desk. I got up, grabbed my books and sat down. She then pointed to another girl, whom I didn’t know, and had her sit next to me. Her name was Donna. Once Donna sat down, Mrs. McDougal sneered at us and then looked at the class.

“This is where the stupid people sit,” and then laughed.

I didn’t understand what she meant and Donna and I looked at each other. When it dawned on me that she was referring to both of us, I felt my face turn red and the tears sting my eyes. Donna had the same reaction and we said nothing and could hear the other kids laughing at us.

For the next 2 years, she picked on us. I never said a word to my parents because I thought she was right because she’s a teacher and teachers know everything, right?

Plus I then became convinced that I was stupid and I didn’t want anyone to know. My brothers had always called me that and I gave as good as I got, but that’s just sibling’s doing what we do – tease each other and then be friends again.

But now I had someone, an ADULT, telling me at least twice a week how stupid I was. Sometimes she would call Donna and I up to stand in front of the class and point to us and say “This is what a stupid person looks like” and then have us sit down again.

I can just hear you, the reader, shaking your head and wondering why I didn’t say anything. Well, if you don’t know why, then maybe you don’t understand what it’s like for girls at that age and how vulnerable we are. You might not understand or remember what an adult’s words can do to a child.

They are worse than bullets and do much more damage. This is the reason I will always believe what a child tells me. Always, no matter what.

I somehow made it through her class after 2 years, but to this day, I have never been good at math. My parents hired a tutor for me and for a while, it got better. I can figure other things out and my IQ is high enough, but I will always consider the day that calculators were developed to be a holy day for me.

Years later, when I was married, I said something about this to my husband. To say he went sideways is an understatement. Up until that point, “me being a stupid person” was something I felt shameful about and was always afraid someone would find out. It took a lot of talking with him to pull the whole story out of me.

When I told my Mom about it, she almost cried. She had no idea and if she had, she would have been down at that school, told them what was going on and had me pulled out of that class. She understood why I never said anything but I suspect that it has never set right with her. It wasn’t a matter of trust in talking about it. That was not why I hadn’t said anything.

It’s a matter of shame regardless if it’s misplaced or not. If you believe it, then it’s true for you. All other points of view are not valid. What you think and believe about yourself is what matters.

Ironically, what happened to me is something that I value because it has made me very good at my job. I teach and I know what it’s like to learn something new and be confused and yes, somewhat stupid until you master it. It takes the right materials and the right person to guide you through it.

It takes someone who knows what it’s like to feel stupid and to understand that you aren’t stupid – you just don’t know something.

As an aside, after I told my husband about it, he asked me if I knew where she had lived. I did as it was right down the street from my old childhood house. He got a wicked look in his eye and asked me if I wanted to go visit Mrs. McDougal. I said I did, so we jumped into the car and drove over there.

I stood on the sidewalk and looked at the house. It had been many years since I had been there and I was convinced that she had either moved away or hopefully died. We walked up the steps and rang the doorbell. I held my breath.

She answered the door and at first, I wasn’t sure it was her. She had not aged gracefully, which made me feel better. Her skin was badly wrinkled, she was no longer attractive and her hair was the same. I then realized that the hair I had envied for so long had always been a wig.

I asked if she was Mrs. McDougal and she hesitated for a moment. She was hunched over and was wearing a dirty robe even though it was late afternoon. She nodded her head and for half a second, I felt sorry for her but that was all.

Here was a woman who was evil. God knows what other lives she had destroyed.

I told her who I was and it did not register with her. That pissed me off. I explained that she was one of the worse human beings I had ever had the displeasure of knowing and that there was no excuse for what she had done to me and Donna.

When I said Donna’s name, I saw the light go on in her eyes. My husband was standing next to me and never said a word but glared at her.

“Oh, you remember, don’t you?” I asked. She stood motionless.

“Well, I wanted you to know that you didn’t succeed. I am fine and I turned out to be a really good person, despite your efforts to kill me. But if I ever see you again…” I said and let the sentence hang in the air. She nodded. We turned around and walked away. She didn’t close the door until we had driven off.

I hope she’s still awake, waiting for me to come back.

I just read this article and almost slammed my fist into my monitor:

Or this one:

Earlier I had read this article and cried:

Why? Obvious reasons to me.

I think it comes down to one thing and one thing only – a hidden agenda. An evil hidden agenda that states the only way to control someone, is to keep the truth from them and don’t let them see. As long as you can get someone to agree that there is something wrong with them, you can convince them that you have the answer.

What do some not want you to see? How wonderful and fabulous you really are and you shouldn’t change.

Does this sound like a conspiracy theory? It sure is.

What would happen if women, in particular, accepted themselves just as they are?

What would happen if women learned to love themselves and their own unique beauty?

What would happen if women were encouraged to work together and not against each other?

I can tell you what would happen. First of all, it would ruin the fashion industry as it currently is. We would laugh our asses off at what they are selling. Don’t forget, fashion is a business just like any other and they WILL cater to what the majority wants. It’s good business.

It would just about shut down the TV industry because women and young girls would see how unrealistic TV is and turn off the station and read a book or better yet, write a book. Or two. Or three. Maybe take up painting or any other creative endeavors and work on who they think they are and not what someone else is trying to sell them.

What would happen if you looked in the mirror and liked what you saw? I’ll tell you what would happen – you wouldn’t spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on the beauty products you and I both know don’t work. You know they don’t do what they claim.

You would realize that aging is a natural and beautiful thing and then you would question why all the models and celebrities are photo shopped and you would boycott the products. We might even be doing them a favor. Can you even imagine the amount of pressure these women are under? What would happen if we loved them just the way they are? They might just become a bit happier with their work and focus on their work and not their looks. Wouldn’t that be cool?

You could bring the beauty industry to its knees and they would not recover until they started to finally tell the truth in their advertising. The truth is NOTHING can alter the shape or texture of your skin. NOTHING.

You would stop reading the evil women’s magazines that oh-so-subtly tell you that you aren’t quite good enough. You are too tall, too short, your breasts are too small or to big. It doesn’t really matter, you see, how you are. You’re wrong so buy this product…

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look nice AS LONG AS YOU DECIDE WHAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU! As long as you look outside yourself, you are going to get slammed and I have to say, that’s on you.

You can change how you feel about yourself in one easy step – just decide that you love yourself and that’s all there is to it.

There is no magical formula. It doesn’t matter how many books you read about it or how many people you talk to; until you decide to DECIDE, it’s all bull shit.

Get rid of the external influences. Shut off the TV, don’t buy the women’s magazines and just love yourself just as you are.

Boycott the things you disagree with. I do that all the time. It’s kind of fun. I’ll disagree with anyone on anything simply because they are trying to get me to agree. It doesn’t matter what they are saying. They could have the best idea in the world, but if I get one hint of someone trying to convince me of something and not address my own intelligence, I’m not going to do it.

I’m a bit of an ass like that, but I’m good with it. I can make my own decisions and decide what is right for me and the second I get a sense of someone is trying to get me to think a different way, my alarm goes off.

They are trying to sell me something that will benefit THEM. Nope. Sorry. Not gonna happen.

You can stop the insanity right here and now. Just disagree and tell others to also. It’s in your hands and no one else’s. Your self-esteem is in your control completely.

Stop looking elsewhere for validation. All that you need is right there.Tap into it and it will rise to the surface.

Stop buying into all the nonsense.

I can’t believe that there are young women who don’t know who Gloria Steinem is.

Many of them are clients, some are friends of family members and some are young women I run into or talk to from time to time.

This came up, again, recently and when the young woman asked who I was talking about, my head really did hit the table. I lost all my steam and couldn’t fathom how someone could not know who this woman was. I lifted my head back up because she was worried I was having a stoke or heart attack (I get that I’m a bit older, but for God’s sake, I’m not that old) and I rubbed my forehead and then my eyes. I assured her that I was fine and stared back at her.

“You really don’t know who I’m talking about?”

She slowly shook her head and said she had heard the name, but had no idea. She looked as if she was in trouble and her voice wavered a bit. I put my hand across the table and told her I was going to tell her who she was and what she did for me personally.

I was born in 1955 and am considered a Baby Boomer, though I’m not sure what that means and I am certain that I don’t care, but it’s important to some people.

What it means is I’m the tail end of a generation that was last raised with what we call “traditional values.”  We grew up believing that the world was structured a certain way and that was just the way it is. I then became a teenager in the 60’s and all of that changed as if overnight. It really is one of those things that you would have to experience to fully understand, but my generation changed so many things in a very short period of time.

But this post is about Gloria and what she did and how much better things are for women because of her and the movement she started (or contributed to) and why she’s important.

I’m not going to talk about her specific actions. Much has been written about her, but I want to tell you what it was like before she spoke up and you can make the comparison with how things are now. For you.

Girls had to take typing classes. I am glad that I learned to type, especially now with computers and the internet, but this was long before then. The reason was because the only jobs available to us was clerical or nursing or working in a library or teaching. We were expected to go get married either right out of High School or college but our main focus was to find a husband and become a mother. We were told that was our future and typing was a skill we would need in case we didn’t get married right away and had to get a secretarial job.

It was very common on job applications to ask you and insist that you gave details of your period. I remember filling out an application one time and I read that part and felt myself blush and stammer and not know what to say. I got up from the chair I was sitting in and walked up to the desk to ask the woman if I had to answer this. She was much older than me; I was 17 and she was in her 30’s and she smiled and said I had to. I asked why and she said it was a precaution in order to determine if I would miss work. She looked a bit startled by my question and I think she never thought about it. This was the usual and you’re not suppose to question “What everybody knows” so I sat back down, lied and continued filling it out.

In High School, I was not allowed to take auto shop because I was a girl. Simple as that. I had also asked (there is a reason my blog is called what it is called) if they could make an exception for me. I had a new car and my boyfriend was taking the class and he was completely into cars. Many a night I sat by him in the freezing cold or sweltering heat, handing him tools while he was under the car. He explained things to me as he went and for a brief moment in High School, I understood how cars worked. Now I wanted to learn how to fix them and was told that I wasn’t allowed to. The teacher even told me to go back to Home Education and learn how to cook because that was the skill I would need when I graduated.

My first “real job” was at McDonald’s when I was sixteen and I could only work the front counter because, well, that’s all that girls were allowed to do. At that time, McDonald’s was a great place to eat. We made our own fries and milk shakes. Girls weren’t allowed near the machines nor were we allowed to cook. Ironic, isn’t it?

We were paid at least 1/2 of what men were paid and I’m not sure if that’s improved as much as it should, but it is better.

It was not unusual to be handed empty coffee cups by men and told to get them a cup of coffee nor to do only the clerical work only. It was well understood that you would never get promoted and shouldn’t expect it. It didn’t matter if you were smarter or better than a man, you would never get promoted. HE had a family to support and you were just some silly woman with nothing better to do than to work.

Talk about sexual harassment? It was common, accepted and to be expected. Men were allowed to slap you on your ass, make comments about what you looked like, what you were wearing and ask any and all personal questions. You had no one to complain to and if you did, you were told you were overreacting and being irrational.

I’ll never forget the time that a sales rep walked into an office I was working at. I was sitting at the front desk at the time and was the Office Manager and was catching the phones while some of the staff were at lunch.

He walks in, doing his door-to-door cold calling, and sees me. He asked if the owner was in and I told him he wasn’t. He looks me up and down and takes something out of his briefcase and tells me he wanted to leave it. I said fine and then he realizes it’s his last copy. He hands it to me and tells me to go photocopy it.

I stare at him. He tries to hand it to me again and then slowly puts his hand down. I point to the photocopier and tell him to do it himself and if he doesn’t know how, then he was shit out of luck.

I could see him bite his tongue and think about what to say. He asked when my boss would be back and I let him know he’ll never get an appointment to see him and that we aren’t interested in his products or service.

He calls me a bitch, turns around and walks out. He had given me his card, so I immediately call and ask to speak to his supervisor. I get him on the phone and tell him what happened.

“So? I guess you were rude to him and have forgotten your place.”

“Say what?” I ask and he repeats what he said.

I hung-up and lit up a cigarette and cursed the male species.

This post could go on for a long time, with many stories and I haven’t even touched upon most of it. But if you don’t know who she is, find out.

Gloria made us visible and important and helped us to find our voice. She told us we were worthy of equal rights and respect. No one had told me that before and I didn’t know until she arrived on the scene. Love her, hate her or just don’t care who she is, your life is better because of her work.

I just found this out and I realize I’ve been working very hard to not know this.

Very hard. In fact, I’ve tried to not know this for the last 6 months but to no avail.

I’ve been forgotten. It’s true. It’s as if I never existed.

I’d rather be hated and yelled at than not ever be thought of again.

It’s a feeling that runs right into one’s soul and you can’t seem to get your wits around it.

You’ve tried every excuse and justification that you can think of.

1) He’s really busy and doesn’t have time.

2) He knows he blew it and doesn’t know what to do.

3) He thinks about you all the time and is afraid to call.

4) He found someone else and regrets letting you get away and is too proud to admit it.

5) He’s dead, sick, in a coma and can’t call or email.

Round and round it goes. Then you see his posting on Facebook and you know.

He’s fine and doesn’t even think about you. Hasn’t taken the time to respond to your email from a week ago and it’s not because he’s dead, it’s because he just doesn’t care.

You hate social networks and right now think they have all been created by Satan himself in order to torture all us rejected souls and try to make us do something really stupid like blasting someone with a posting or an email or start to obsessively check their page every hour of every day and constantly pull our hand away from the “send” or “enter” key.

You even start to battle the evil thoughts of hoping they are miserable or suffering some imagined disease because of their stupidity in not knowing how you really are worth everything, every sacrifice they could possibly make just to be with you or knowing that your friendship and empathy is so rare that it is to be treasured.

But you know your thoughts and feelings are just bouncing around inside your head and you’ll never speak them. Your friends think you are fine and the honest truth of the matter is, you’re tired of thinking about him and talking about him and there really isn’t anything left to say.

You’ve said it all, thought it all and cried all the tears you possibly can until you cry again. You have endless conversations with him in your head that range from pleasant and fun to you slapping him across the face for his stupidity in letting you go.

You met someone who touched your soul and was a true kindred spirit, or so you thought. When you  admit you were wrong or that it was one-sided, you cringe with embarrassment of your shattered confidence.

You vow never to make this mistake again and that’s the exact moment when you realize you are going down the wrong path. If you go down that rabbit hole then you have admitted that you aren’t worth someone’s love and attention and it will soon come to be.

You forget to tell yourself that the reason you have been forgotten is that it’s their insanity and not yours. You were the one that put yourself out there and you were the one that told them you loved them and when they said they didn’t love you back, you did the ultimate in human kindness and compassion; you continued to love them in spite of them.

You have not been forgotten. You will never be forgotten because someone as wonderful and shiny and beautiful as you will always have difficulty in finding another to love you as you deserve to be loved.

Your friends have told you, over and over, that its him and not you. You try to believe this, but they aren’t the ones sitting at home alone with no one to talk to. They may very well be right, but for right now, you are convinced that you have some unknown character flaw that no one can see but you know it’s there. Besides, they say to you what you’ve said to them. That’s what friends are for and you love them more and more for their kind words and love and the way they view you as perfect and worth all things. You know you are truly blessed.

You are on planet Earth after all and the only mistake you can really make is to stop being you and try to be what you think others want you to be.

For all of those out there, reading this post and feel forgotten by the ones we love,  just know that it’s not true. Maybe your goodness and kindness were too much for someone to handle or understand. Maybe you, like me, needed to learn this and take it to heart that those of us who love unconditionally will get smacked around and not understood by many.

But we are never forgotten. No matter what it feels like or looks like.

No one can possibly forget us.

(Yes, I have “unfriended” him, deleted his email address, phone number and picture from my phone).

Gone, but not forgotten.

This is a fairly new word that has crept into almost daily conversation.

Drama. We don’t need no stinking drama.

I hear about people not wanting it in their lives. I see it on almost every dating website profile that I have ever read.  NO DRAMA screams the words. I see people getting fired because of “the drama.” I’ve even had clients fire employees because of it. I’ve been seeing quite a bit of it on social networks.

But what does it mean now-a -days? That’s the question that has been bothering me. This word has taken on a new definition and I’m not sure what it means. But I do know what it is when I see it. Oh, it’s oh-so-clear when you see it and I think now I have a new mission in life.

Knock off all the drama. I think I now have zero tolerance for it in myself and in others. Because I’m tired of it. I’m sick of it and I’m tired of dealing with people who think they are entitled. You’re not. You never have been and you never will be.

I recently had a heart-to-heart with an employee of a client. I had been given a head’s up to try to sort this girl out because she was bringing her personal problems to work every day. Apparently she was going through a rough divorce (they’re all rough) and was sad and snappy during the day. The boss liked her enough to send her my way but had lost patience.

There were tears and justifications during the conversation. I sat. I listened. I handed her Kleenex and let her vent. Then I was done. I asked her what the hell she thought she was doing. I asked her why she acted like she did and then pointed out her job was at risk.

I wish I could have taken a picture of the look on her face when I told her that. She actually thought she could say whatever she wanted to say because she was entitled. She thought she was ENTITLED to act anyway she wanted because it was everyone else’s problem if they couldn’t deal with it. This included talking back to her boss.

She ended up getting fired because as far as she was concerned, the world evolved around her and what she wanted and what she thought and it didn’t matter what came out of her mouth, she was entitled.

She is not an isolated incident. I’ve been running into this more and more. It has been bugging me for a long time and then it hit me why someone would be so assertive to the point that they crush anyone else’s viewpoint.

They get away with it.  The more they get away with it, the more they do it. They act this way because they hate themselves and their lives so much that they lash out at anyone who doesn’t back down. Why? Because if they can take others down to their own level, it will justify their bad behavior.

It’s a very sick and twisted cycle and the more you let someone get away with it, the more they will do it.

If you actually liked yourself, you would feel no need to assert and dominate others. You would be happy and content with what other people think because you would have certainty about yourself and enough confidence to allow others to be who they are.

You want to feel better about yourself? Then stop treating others badly and having hissy fits over some imagined slight that probably never happened.

I also know when I hear someone adamant about not wanting drama in their lives, they are the first ones to dish it out, so you don’t fool me. I am just as guilty as the next person of being dramatic, but I work hard at not doing that. There are scars on my tongue from biting it and you might want to try doing that if you always feel the need to assert yourself.

The fact of the matter is, when it comes right down to it, most people don’t really care what you think. That’s a harsh reality, but if you can get your wits around it, you’ll actually be able to relax and not have everything be a battle. The people who do care about you will want to know what you think.

Good rule of thumb is not to say what you think unless you are asked.

No one is entitled to anything. Not me, not you. You are not owed anything just because you woke-up and got out of bed. I don’t care who you are.

You are not entitled to a paycheck unless you earn it.

You are not entitled to a successful relationship unless you earn it.

Your employer does not owe you anything just because you showed up for work.

You are not entitled to hurt or harm people with your words and actions. Ever. I don’t care how badly someone may be acting; you don’t get to harm them back. Treat them with as much respect as you can and then walk away. Sever the relationship if you want, but do not get dramatic.

If you care about yourself, you’ll take the high road as often as possible.

In the meantime? Yeah, you got it. Shut-up.

Whatever happens, don’t blame someone else, including yourself.

Blame is when you point your long or stubby little fingers at someone else and exclaim “They did THIS to me and it’s all their fault!” If you are REALLY good at blaming others, you’ll keep this attitude for the rest of your life and will turn into the worse person you can be.

That’s on you and you’ll get no sympathy from me.

God knows I’ve spent plenty of time blaming others for what they did to me. Including, but not limited to, cheating on me, betraying me, talking badly about me behind my back and firing me. OK, I still think the guy who fired me was and probably still is an asshole. Sorry, but I just can’t quite let that one go.

It was so stupid but what happened was not my fault! Honest, it wasn’t. I was hired by “He-who-shall-be-only-called-asshole” to answer phones in a tiny and dingy office while he worked at another job. He had started a business where he made these tile thingys that you would lay down on the floor and then insert the tiles to create something spectacular. I took the  job because I was desperate for money and was currently married to a guy that thought it was fine for his wife to work two jobs so he could stay home and write. Yeah, well I fell for that because I was very young and he was really good-looking. I’ll post another time about that.

So the office was in this industrial part of town and I was very isolated. The phone rang about two times a week, so after I spent the first hour of my new job cleaning the office, there was nothing left to do.

One day, some Neanderthal comes in to pick up his order. I go back into the warehouse to get it and he follows me. He starts making lewd comments about me and I suddenly realize I am in a very bad situation. As I reach up to grab a box, he slaps me on my ass. I freak out, yell at him and run back to the office. Fortunately, he left and I locked the door.

That afternoon when “The asshole” came in, I told him what happened. He looks at me and then tells me I deserved it!

I did what any young woman would do. I started crying and just then he tells me I’m fired. I tell him he can’t fire me because I quit. I grab my purse and make him pay me on the spot. I walk out the door in a huff and go to walk to my car but I had forgotten I didn’t have a car because the husband had it, so I walked around the corner and sat down and cried some more.

When the husband came to pick me up, I made the mistake of telling him what happened. He did a U-turn across four lanes of traffic because he wanted to go “talk” to “The asshole” but I somehow convinced him not to.

For a long time, I blamed this man for his insensitivity to me and what happened. I blamed him for me not making enough money and I blamed him for upsetting me and my husband and I blamed him when I couldn’t pay my rent the next week.

It was all his fault. All of it.

Granted, what he did was wrong, but blaming someone else isn’t the same thing.

When you blame someone, you are saying they are better, smarter, faster, prettier, etc. than you.

If you say so then it’s true.

What you say and/or think becomes real and true because…you said so, that’s why.

As long as you have that attitude, the other person will always be able to manipulate you but only because you let them.

Trust me, I’ve blamed lots of people for lots of things and it sure didn’t make me feel better about myself. In fact, it makes me feel pretty freaking bad and I don’t know about you, but I don’t like that feeling and I don’t like beating myself up for my many, many mistakes anymore than you do.

So let’s knock it off, shall we? Agreed? Agreed!

No human being has ever been wrong – ask anyone and they’ll tell you why their horrible actions were justified – so don’t ever think you’ll get anyone to admit it. You’ve never been wrong either in your mind.

We make decisions and if things don’t turn out like we had hoped, acknowledge the fact that you made a mistake and learn from it. We tend to only learn from our mistakes. I don’t know why that is, but it seems to be the case.

Don’t blame yourself or anyone for what has happened. It does no good and closes the door on your learning about yourself and life.

Instead, tell yourself you made a mistake and figure out what you can take away from it to have a better life and be a better person.

I admit there have been times when I wish I hadn’t talked the husband out of “talking to the asshole” but the actual problem wasn’t him. The actual problem was I was married to someone who didn’t work, didn’t want to work and if I had been truly honest with myself back then, I would have seen that and made better decisions.

But I didn’t. I justified it to the point that I took on another job that I didn’t understand but lied on my application. I sweet talked the guy into hiring me and I wasn’t honest with him that I had no idea what people were talking about when they phoned in. I am not a math girl, so I couldn’t handle the orders. Instead I told them “No problem,” wrote down what they said and then set it aside for when “The Asshole” came in.

I didn’t ask the guy to try to degrade me and scare me when he came in to pick-up his order. He was way out of line and as I look back on it, that could have been much worse. But the funny thing, I never blamed him. I just figured he was another pervert in this thing called life and I was fortunate that I got him out of there.

I never blamed him because I never held him responsible for my survival. But I sure as hell held my employer responsible for my life and I should have held myself responsible and not taken on a job that I didn’t understand. I should have held my husband responsible for making income but instead I justified it.

I did that and I can fix it. That’s what you say and that’s what you do.

So you’re not perfect.

Welcome to my world.

We have a saying in sales that I think comes from Zig Ziglar:

     “You don’t get the close you don’t ask for.”

These words are true, not only for sales, but for probably all areas in life. If you don’t know what you want, you are going to have a tough time getting it. If you don’t demand what you want, you’ll never get it.

I am not talking about demanding something in an offensive or rude way, but you should always be direct and clear in what you want and what you don’t want.

Are you demanding self-respect from yourself and others? If not, it ain’t ever gonna happen. Yes, I am using those words and style intentionally to make a point. When you demand something, you are insisting on it and it’s not negotiable. How you allow others to treat you is a direct reflection on how you look and feel about yourself.

I remember in High School how what other people felt and thought about me caused me to define myself. Personally, I think this is a very common trait and I would rather eat insects, raw, then go through High School again. It was not a good time for me and looking back, I don’t think it was a good time for anyone except for the perfect looking cheerleaders that pranced around the school in their cute uniforms.

Yes, I am a bit bitter because I was twice their size with the wrong color and style of hair and no matter how many hours I spent the night before, putting it up in curlers and using tons of gel on it, by the end of the day it was no longer straight and looked like I had stuck my finger in a light socket. But they looked perfect and had the perfect boyfriends and drove the best cars and were the fussiest Diva’s I had ever seen prior to that time.

Plus they didn’t have acne and braces and God I’m going to stop thinking about this right now…

No wonder I took up smoking and hung-out with all the other misfits. It’s a wonder I didn’t do drugs or start drinking but I was always terrified of my parents finding out. So instead I hung-out with the kids that did and hoped their “coolness” would rub off on me by osmosis.

But the funny thing was, as much as I might have been just a wee bit jealous of the cheerleaders and all my ex-friends that seemed to have moved onto better and more interesting people who were SO much better looking than me, what really bothered me was they got away with it. It never entered their little pin heads that anyone would say “No” to them and if anyone did, I never saw it.

Some of them were quite nice and pleasant to me as we had all grown up together in the same neighborhood but in High School, new and invisible lines were drawn and you didn’t know about them unless you accidentally crossed one. I have a tendency to ignore lines and don’t appreciate anyone telling me what my own space is.

But I watched these lines changed and I made new friends in other places and I watched as my old friends morphed into people who would no longer talk to me and I saw their attitudes shift as they became more and more popular and I found my own sense of myself get fuzzy. Soon I was someone who was trying to get other people to like me.

This had never happened to me before. This was new and I didn’t like it and yet I couldn’t stop it.

I felt I had been dropped onto another planet and I didn’t know the customs or how things worked or who it was OK to talk to and who wasn’t. Now I was with people I had only known a short time and some of them were nice and some were not.  Most of them did drugs and drank but I didn’t and the ones that did were  bothered by my abstinence and would push me to do it.

At first I tried to pretend that it didn’t bother me and the more I did that, the less I liked myself. There was no particular defining moment as this was a gradual deterioration over many months. I was more interested in getting people to like me than I was on liking myself. Things were changing so fast that I never knew what I thought from day-to-day, and yet I was the one person people would come talk to.

I am a great listener at least. So I listened and talked and tried to make friends and I allowed them to treat me any way that they wanted. I figured if I did that, then they would like me and that would make me a good person and I didn’t need to worry about all the friends I had lost as High School sucked our souls away from us.

It all came to a head one night when I went out with someone. From the moment I left my house with him, he began to talk down to me. I didn’t say anything because he was popular and I was lonely. The whole night was a nightmare as I kept my mouth shut and said nothing. His verbal attacks were very subtle. The disrespect he showed me wasn’t obvious at all, so it was a gradual feeling of despair and hatred towards myself that began early in the evening.

But it suddenly erupted and took me by surprise.

It was such a silly thing. He said he didn’t like the way I flicked my cigarette and tried to show me the correct way to do it. I don’t know, for some reason that was the straw. I grabbed my cigarette back from him, said something about what he could do with it and got out of the car and started walking home.

The fact that my house was 20 miles away didn’t enter my mind at the time. I was more angry with myself than him. He watched me walk down that road and I guess he realized he had been rude and he came and got me and drove me home.

I didn’t say a word all the way back to my house. I didn’t say a word when I opened the car door or when I slammed it shut. But as soon as that door was closed I told him to never talk to me again and right then I knew this has all happened because I had allowed it and accepted it. I let people treat me the way they wanted. I justified THEIR bad behavior, but I was just as guilty as them because I never drew my own line and made it clear of the consequences if they crossed it.

And what the hell? People had drawn their own lines to me, so I figured tit for tat.

How people treat you is on you. It’s not on anyone else. Sure, someone can blind side you. This can happen to anyone.

But how to deal with it shows them, and yourself, how you feel about you.

Someone says something rude to you? Don’t accept that it’s alright for someone to do that. Either walk away or deal with it, but push them back across that line.

Your date is looking at other women? Get up and walk out and don’t look back. (This also applies to men, so if the woman you’re out with is acting like trailer trash and you don’t like it, be a gentleman but don’t ask her out again.)

You’re in a business meeting and someone says something inappropriate to you? Let them know they were out of  line. I don’t care how you do it, but do it.

How you first deal with disrespect sets up the rest of the relationship.

If you don’t demand it, you’ll never get it.

Start learning now and never stop. This doesn’t mean you have to go to school if you don’t want to or can’t afford it. It means to find things out for yourself and keep practicing at what you do and get better and better at it.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to feel good about yourself when you are being or acting stupid? No, really, have you ever felt good about yourself in moments like that? I sure haven’t but that is a good way to learn. You do or say something stupid, see that you did and then go find a better way to deal with it in the future.

You don’t learn about things from reading. I wish we did because then we would all be much happier. No, we learn by experience and our own observations. You know the sun rises every day, right? Well, did you learn that from reading it in a book or from observing it for yourself?

We learn by smacking into a brick wall, pulling back and rubbing our head and finding out that when we do that, it hurts. Some of us have to smack our heads against the wall a few times before we get it. I have survived many bruises on my forehead (and my butt from getting knocked down on it) before I thought “Hey, maybe I shouldn’t do that,” and figuring out another way around something.

I am also the person that if the sign says “Wet Paint,” I’m fine with that. But if it says “Wet Paint Do No Touch,” well, I have to go touch it to see for myself. I have to learn on my own and not because someone told me what was right to do and what was wrong to do. If it’s really wet, then I know it. If it’s no longer wet, then I know that too.

There are also the people who just keep banging their heads against the brick wall and blame others for it. We call these people “victims” and I wouldn’t give them too much attention. They like it.

You are responsible for your own knowledge. No one else is. You know what you know because you said so. It doesn’t have to agree with anyone else. In fact, if you look at the title of this blog again, you’ll probably get a good idea of my opinion of anyone who tries to tell me or others how things are or how to think and behave.

I will only agree to the things that I know for myself to be true and I think we all need to find our own truths no matter what anyone says. You need to find your own truth, whatever it is and then say that it is.

If you don’t understand what someone is telling you, tell them that and have them explain it to you until you understand. It doesn’t matter who it is, a boss, a teacher, a co-worker or a friend. Don’t go along with things that don’t make sense to you. Question and learn. Those that care about you will help you. Those that don’t, try to push their agenda on you. That usually indicates it’s a hidden agenda. Find out and if they won’t tell you, then walk away.

Read and then read some more. Evaluate everything you read and decided if you agree or not. You can accept or reject anything you want. Then go see if what you just read is true for you. If someone tells you a certain race or culture is bad, go find out for yourself. Go look and talk to the people and see what you see. Make your own decisions because those are the things that will give you knowledge. Your own observation is the only thing that is of value in learning.

Do you really want to look and act like everyone else? Since when did someone else’s opinion have more importance than your own? It has as much importance as you give it. Ignore it. Don’t try to learn from anyone that you don’t respect even if someone tells you that you should respect them. So what if they are a relative or rich or famous? That doesn’t mean you have to like or respect them. Be with people who you admire and learn from them.

List out all the things you would like to know more about. It doesn’t matter what they are as long as they are things you want to learn about. Then go find out more about those things.

List out all of the things you need to improve upon and start increasing your competency. If you are having trouble with something at work, get someone to help you be better at it. Know that you can be better.

List out some of the stupidest things you’ve ever done and then write down what you learned from them.  I have a long list and it makes me laugh now. At the time I did some of these things, it wasn’t so funny.

Find someone who could use your help in becoming more capable in an area and help them do that. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you are teaching someone to be better at what they do.

You are as valuable as you want to be. You are as smart as you want to be.

Let me know everything you learned this week.

You ever have one of those days, or weeks, when you just want to throw down your weapons and quit or at least take a break for a while?

Yeah, that’s how I’ve been feeling a bit lately. It’s not one particular thing. That would be easier. That moment during your life when it all just seems to be too much and you want to sit down, cry and give up.

That’s not always such a bad thing to do. Maybe every once in a while we need to do that. Just sit down, cry and whine and close out the world for a bit. I think the only mistake we can make is to not get back up and have at it again.

I have been stretched just a bit too thin for too long. I knew I could handle it and would keep going but exhaustion was starting to creep back in. I get plenty of sleep and exercise but there was just a lot on my plate and now I was at the tipping point with no end in sight.

A new client was arriving on Friday and would begin his training with me for two days. I had agreed to work Saturday and what I wanted to do was call up my ex-boyfriend and go see him and hide out for the weekend and have a warm body next to mine. I didn’t care what happened after Sunday night. I just wanted to walk away from everyone and everything for a few days. I knew I wouldn’t call him and I knew if I did, he would be happy to have me come over and stay.

But I didn’t, of course. I knew I wouldn’t but I did like entertaining that thought for a while.

Friday morning came and in walked Dennis. He is in his late 60’s. I heard him walk in and my receptionist greeted him. I was tied up with another student and couldn’t break away, but the consultant was already shaking his hand, so I knew he was being taken care of and that I would meet him later that day.

I wrapped it up with my student and broke for lunch. I quickly ate my lunch standing over the sink in our small kitchen. I had no time to eat but had to. I had a new client to meet and start his training. I needed to run down to the bathroom plus I had about two hours of phone calls to make along with a backlog of emails that needed my immediate attention and I had less than three minutes to get four hours of work done.

I could feel myself get pulled further and further away from myself. I took another large bite of my lunch, chewed as fast as I could while I drank from my coffee mug. I went down the hall to use the lady’s room and couldn’t stop and chat with people I knew in the office building. I gave them all a quick hello and smile as I raced back to my office.

Dennis was waiting for me. I greeted him. He now had a face to go with my voice that he had heard so many times on the phone before his arrival. He is in his 60’s and is very pleasant. His consultant had been working with him for some time before his arrival for training, so he was relaxed and anxious to start.

We get started and let my assistant know I was “going dark” which means I am officially under the radar while training and cannot be interrupted unless there is a fire and we need to jump off the balcony or we will all die. Anything other than that is not important.

We started and the hard work begins. During the next two days, I learned quite a bit about Dennis. It’s my job and I dig in with each client. They have paid me and my company to help them and they have entrusted their lives to us so no matter what I have going on, it’s left behind the closed door once they arrive.

I learned that Dennis is dealing with his third bout of liver cancer and had just completed another round of chemo. I knew of the difficulties he was having with his business but sitting across from him, I did not see a man who was ill.

Instead I saw a man who was full of hope. He had recently married a beautiful young woman. He told me about surfing every morning and asked if we could start our training earlier the next morning as he was so excited about being here with us that he didn’t want to waste one moment of it. He looked healthy and told me all about the things he was grateful for as the day progressed.

Throughout the day, every point I made on his training was met with a smile, a nod and him thanking me for spending time with him. He made me feel important, valuable and worth every moment of his attention. He had paid ME to help him and yet he was thanking me.

Thanking me for doing my job.

Thanking me for spending two days with him. That he paid for. I mentioned that before, didn’t I? Yes, I did.

Smiling at me and hanging on my every word for two days. Two long days for him as he fought his body that was demanding that he slow down and take it easy and roll over and die.

My exhaustion began to dissipate. The horrible PMS I had been suffering with for three weeks lessened and became a distant memory. My headache left and I picked up my sword and decided to start fighting again.

He fought for two days and I fought right along side of him. I picked up every tool I could think of. I mustered every bit of information I could find and we slugged it out together. Together we fought to save his business and improve his life and the lives of his staff and customers.

I had made a mistake and that was I had been looking around and just focusing on the things that were wrong in my life and had forgotten to focus on what was right.

I had failed to take and practice my own advice. It’s perfectly fine to notice the things that need to be corrected and then correcting them.

It’s a whole other thing to only pay attention to them and become worried and doubtful of one’s own ability to deal with it. All I had been doing these last few weeks was looking at how everything I needed to do could not be done.

I was wrong. Oh so wrong.

By the end of the second day, both Dennis and I were smiling and I thanked him for teaching me so much. He gave me a funny look and asked what the hell I was talking about.

I hugged him and told him that I loved his wonderful and positive attitude and that it had rubbed off on me when I really needed it. He didn’t say anything but hugged me back.

I might still have too much to do but somehow after today it doesn’t seem like such a big deal. Somehow it feels like everything will be OK soon.

It was time for me to follow my own damn advice – just disagree with how things “have to be” and agree to all the good shit in life.