My “Golden” Rules

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I can’t apologize for being real and saying what I think. I do always try to say it with respect and kindness. But I simply cannot be something I’m not.

At this point in my life, I can see no reason or benefit to be anything less than 100 percent real. So it’s very unlikely you’ll find me small talking or blowing hot air.

I’m not perfect, but I am imperfectly real. I strive to lead an authentic life. If you don’t like me, I don’t have any desire to change your mind. And if I don’t like you then that’s probably not going to change either. However, I’ll never be cruel. Instead I’ll do my best to avoid you.

I live by three “golden” rules. I hope they guide me in my actions and decisions. I fall short regularly. But I believe in the power and freedom of self awareness

Rule One: Be good to others

I long for a culture where condemnation and criticism of the choices of others isn’t the norm. I long for inclusion. Whatever your beliefs may be, they are yours. And my beliefs are mine. So if they are different, let’s agree to disagree. Worry less about my salvation and more about your own. So as long as you’re not hurting anyone, it’s not my place to judge.

Being good to others is more than kindness and empathy. I’m not always great at these. I do realize that not everyone has the strength to pick herself up. There are a million horrible things that happen to us in life. You can waste your time with blame, or you can move on. You can’t do both. Choose wisely.

Being good to others is often about saying nothing. It’s about not being a judge or jury. It’s about not discounting the experiences of others. It’s their experience; not yours.

So when I live this rule, it’s not that I’m selfless and full of inspiration. I’m not. I do respect the views of others. So please respect mine. Our differences make us human. So why are they often what tears us apart?

Rule Two: Be good to animals

I’m suspicious of those without pets. Of my inner and extended circle, I can think of no one who doesn’t share their home with an animal or three. Having an animal makes every home better. But my rule extends beyond the domesticated. We have a duty to care for and protect animals. Yet most see animals as something to control or use.

So I worry about the dogs pacing the shelter floors. I worry about the elephants prized for their tusks and nearing extinction. I worry about the bears in Alaska who have lost critical protections.

My ask of anyone is to see the beauty in nature; a beauty created by animals and plants. They do not need man. They were here long before us and will probably survive us. People often say that humans have personified animals; that they simply don’t have feelings. I would argue with this all day. They may not be as complex as we are, which is probably a good thing, but they most definitely feel and grieve and love.

Rule Three: Be good to yourself

The hardest rule not to break, for we are all too often unkind to ourselves. I am my own worst critic. No one has ever been or ever will be harder on me than me. I’d say I’ve called a truce with myself. I try to have boundaries, so that yes I can push when necessary but also let off when I’m hitting the wall.

Someone told me the other day they had high expectations of me, and I answered, “I have high expectations of myself.” I expect to be perfect. As I’ve already told you, I’m not. So there’s this winding trail of disappointment.

I am honest with myself. It took me a long time to get here, to be self aware. It was work, and I didn’t do it alone. It’s peaceful though. It’s calming to know that I control my attitude and choices. Nothing nor no one has this power but me. Don’t ever surrender the power you have to be your own person. It’s hard to get back.

Be patient. Be considerate. Understand that if you are trying every day to be better and be authentic then you are doing great. You’ve survived everything that’s happened thus far, and hopefully can still smile.

One of my favorite quotes is, “Always know in your heart you are far bigger than anything that can happen to you.” I hold this in my mind a lot. Maybe you will as well.

I’m no inspirational leader or motivational speaker. I’m just a woman who loves to write and is sometimes not afraid to be vulnerable and honest. I just have moments of courage, and they happen to come out in sentences. If my words every mean something to anyone then I’ll feel heard; I’ll feel purposeful. I’ll feel I’m following the rules.

This is Marriage

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My husband and I regularly have discussions about the bathroom habits of our dogs. Unfortunately, one of our dogs, Fawn, has had several accidents in the last week. So we’ve spent time trying to dissect what caused the poop on the floor. I’m not trying to be graphic, but this is marriage. If you’re unwilling to accept that much of it isn’t very exciting then it’s probably not for you.

We often say our schedule revolves around when they need go out, and that isn’t really a joke.  Along with the regular discussion about dog bathroom habits, there’s the eternal question of “What’s for dinner?” If I haven’t pre-planned the meal then this is the dreaded and loaded question. He likes everything; I like some things. So he always puts the pressure on me to decide. Sometimes though I just can’t make one more decision. I think 87 percent of our “disagreements” stem straight from this topic. So if anyone wants to plan our meals for us, we’re interested. But he is such a saint about it; it’s not easy to have to eat with me and my don’ts.

So, yes this is marriage. Marriage in the end often comes down to who you can stand to have most of your meals with. Because that’s what you do, you eat with the one you love.

The other frequent topics of conversation are the renovations. I’m not involved in the work really; I design and get out of the way. Yet, he likes to keep me updated on all the different problems that arise. For instance, there’s not a wall in this place that’s square. He’s told me about all of them. He’ll often go into detail about how he’s going to install something. I honestly stop listening. It’s not that I don’t care, but I don’t.

I can only take in so much information every day. And the information I refuse to retain is where things are located in Lowe’s. I know my stores; I can tell you where most anything is in the stores I most frequent. So I expect him to know where stuff is at Lowe’s. He does not. I usually have to actually go with him, and every time we do, I remind him, “This is your store.”

This is marriage; pretending to listen, hoping that the other person knows stuff you don’t. He has knowledge in his head, I could never absorb and vice versa. We’re a good team. We even each other out.

Essentially marriage is about really liking someone. It’s different than the love we feel. Love is a powerful emotion that’s rarely stable. It has peaks and valleys. I look at him sometimes and just think, “Damn, I love him.” And sometimes I look at him and think, “Damn, I want to smack him.” However, most every day, I’m pretty confident I like him. He doesn’t get on my nerves very often; although sometimes I’m just irritable, so it’s not really him. I’m a woman, my mood isn’t constant. That would be no fun.

So liking each other, that’s the “secret” to a long marriage. At the end of the day, I like talking to him. I like watching TV with him. I like that he’s prone to be silly and sing me back the end of the sentence I just said. He says this is to indicate he heard me. I think he just likes to sing.

Marriage is not for those chasing big highs or relentless passion. That’s not what happens when you create a routine or a schedule with someone. That’s marriage; less exciting more humdrum. I’m totally okay with that simply because he’s the person I most want to do nothing with.

5 Benefits of Resting Bitch Face


I’ve been writing a lot of heavy pieces lately. And there’s so much I’ve been holding back. I want to be brutally honest, but there are still many things I’m not ready to share (or as I tell people, you’ll have to buy the book for the really juicy stuff!) 

Today, I thought I’d share something a little lighter that perhaps prompts a giggle or two. Because in all honesty, my mood right now is depressed, irritable and hanging on by a thread. (Sorry, husband, you are such a good sport and always happy!)

So on to the resting bitch face (RBF). I can’t remember when I first heard the term, but I knew I qualified. RBF is an unconscious neutral or stoic expression. Some call it sullen, but I like the term stoic. And listen up, it’s a real scientifically validated thing. Science hasn’t quite determined if RBF directly correlates to a hidden layer of contempt. But science does concur that most people see RBF as negative. Because the world, okay men, expect us to always be smiling as the gentle, fairer sex. I call b.s. on all that! My RBF isn’t really an indication of my mood; it’s just how my face “rests.” I’m not always sad or angry or hungry. It’s just my face!

But I have found some real benefits to a lifetime of RBF:

1. No crow’s feet. If you are a chronic smiler, you’re more likely to have those pesky lines sprouting from the corners of your eyes. Not me. This permanent non-smile keeps me looking young. 

2. It’s easier to conceal your emotions. Okay so this doesn’t always work. My expressions can give me away. If I’m disgusted or think I’m being fed a lie, my RBF gets trumped by just bitch face. However when I was botoxing for my migraines, it was easier to keep the world guessing. 

3. It takes a lot for me to smile so if you get one from me, it’s genuine. I strive to be genuine in my words and actions daily. I don’t blow smoke or have a fake voice. Saving my smiles, I don’t think is a bad thing. 

4. It can deter conversation. I always think I’m not approachable, that it’s clear that I wear armor every day. Yet strangers ask me for help all the time. The other week I helped a lady get her train ticket and find a seat. Maybe I don’t look as tough as I think. Maybe I look competent and confident instead. 

5. It keeps others from being able to read me. I always think that a mentalist wouldn’t be able to infer much about me, that I wouldn’t react to questions or statements. That I’m a mystery. But I’m not a mystery. Although it takes considerable time for me to warm up to people. I’m cautious. I like protecting myself. The world is full of people who want to devour you. And on the other side, there are many who radiate kindness. I believe in kindness, even in the face of so much hate. But I’ll stick with observing first, acting later. 

Well maybe this post wasn’t that light after all. It’s my RBF coming through I suppose. I’d like to leave you with one message: whatever face you put on every day, let it be your true one, otherwise your life becomes a role you play and not one you own. 

What would you change?

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Unfortunately I don’t have the benefit of foresight, and life doesn’t really allow for do-overs. But what if we had that opportunity? What if we could go back to those pivotal choices in our life and change it?

If you’ve seen the movie Arrival, which is amazing, then you know that the main character does hold the power to foresee, yet she makes the same choice, knowing that this choice will bring her both happiness and despair.

If we could go back and make a different decision, would we? Because each decision in our life, specifically the ones that we control, has moved us in one direction, leaving all others closed. We are a collection of our choices, whether good or bad, and they inform our character, our relationships and our next choices. I am a strong believer in embracing all the choices I’ve made, even the wrong ones because they’ve made me who I am. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t change some of them if given the chance. Moments mark us with experience, sometimes they leave a scar. So if given the chance to change a moment, there are some I certainly would.

What I would change

I’d go back to what I believe was a critical misstep in my youth. I was pretty obsessed with being liked or loved or wanted by boys. This desperation for acceptance and attention destroyed my self- worth. This hunger to be attractive and desired gave me no real compass to figure out who I was. It led me to so many mistakes. I chose every time to dismiss myself in favor of some boy. It also made me insecure and kept me on a roller coaster of self hate. And this insecurity and disconnection made me unfaithful, which was a pattern that started at 15. My message to my young self would be, “Focus on you. None of these boys will be a source of happiness. And if you respect yourself, the next 20 years will be better.”

I went to the college my mom chose for me. It wasn’t what I wanted. And I left after two years to be in a place more diverse and affordable. I don’t completely regret my first two years, as I met one of my true life-long friends. But if given the chance, I would have gone to the college I wanted to go to on full scholarship. And I wouldn’t still be paying back school loans! When I transferred, I also made another mistake. I joined my best friend’s sorority because I loved her and knew many of the people already. I needed to feel like I belonged to something, anything. I do appreciate that many of those girls were kind to me and supportive. But it wasn’t where I belonged. I never felt like I was part of it. I always felt like an outsider. So I should have found my people, the outsiders. I just wasn’t confident and felt so invisible.

The choices I’d most want to change are the times when I put myself in harm’s way. I just didn’t have a fear of going off with people I didn’t know. What I know now is that I got lucky. The only reason I can give is that I didn’t care what happened. I let myself be in the moment and unafraid of consequences. I could have easily never been seen again. Women often put themselves in danger simply because we do not recognize our worth. Bad things did happen to me, but I was all too quick to blame myself. I made the choice, I deserved what happened. Until I found myself in the worst possible situation. I’m not ready to share the details, but for a few moments, I was sure it was going to be the end of me.  It was the last time I ever made that kind of choice.

Nothing I do can change my choices. But when reflecting on them now, I can reach a new perspective, a perspective without judgment or blame. And I can release it, not hold on to it and let it drag me down. I’ve hurt myself almost as much as anyone else by making bad choices. I’ll never be able to go back to that moment in time and change my answer. I’ve got one life to live as me, and even though these choices have shattered me in many ways, I say: I am not broken. I am a million pieces of wonderful and sorrow and joy and courage.

I refuse to have a conventional marriage

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Marriage has been a part of society for thousands of years. Of course it has dramatically evolved. In the beginning, it wasn’t about love but rather the need to strengthen alliances and bare legitimate offspring. Polygamy was actually the norm up until around the sixth century when the Catholic Church interceded. But men still had much opportunity to be promiscuous. Marriage has since become more of a contract with a license being needed and the state’s involvement. Yet women did not have equality in marriage with marital rape still being legal in most states until the 1970s. Some would argue that women still aren’t equal in marriage or in society in general. And of course now, the laws of this country have finally turned to allow same-sex couples to marry.

So that was a short history lesson on marriage. The majority of marriages that have occurred during humanity’s reign on this planet have had nothing to do with love. It was business or a religious necessity. Arranged marriages still happen throughout the world.

I provide this history only because the idea of marriage isn’t some romantic, beautiful experience as we are told to believe by the bridal industry (which is a billion dollar industry). As you can tell by my tone, I don’t buy into any of the conventional nonsense about the sanctity of marriage. So why did I get married? Well for me, and for him, it wasn’t about a contract or the need to produce children. Our ideas and feelings toward marriage are completely unconventional. We cared little about the actual wedding and more about what it meant to us to be joined together, not in a religious manner or a civil manner, but really what it means to be husband and wife.

But I refuse to have a conventional marriage. Justin and I don’t ascribe to traditional roles in the marriage. He’s the cook; I manage the finances and “operational” parts of our life. We play to our strengths, and we make decisions together. However, we don’t have to ask “permission” to spend money or make plans.

I think I’m a good wife thus far. But you won’t catch me waiting on him. I’ve certainly made him coffee before, but he’s an independent man who can take care of himself. He doesn’t need me to do it. Nor do I need him to take care of me. We don’t “need” that from each other so it actually happens very organically.

And I’m not taking his last name, which has always been the custom and another way in which men are provided the lead. It’s not that I don’t want to; it’s just that at this point, I’ve had this last name for 12 years. It’s a part of my brand. You may think it’s odd that I’m still going by my ex-husband’s last name. Maybe it is. Let me explain. I was glad to shed my maiden name. It was liberating because I didn’t want to be that person anymore. That person was gone to me in a lot of ways, and I certainly had no desire to continue with a last name that was relating to my father. So I didn’t change it back after my divorce. It’s a lot of work to change your name. In the end, it’s just a last name. It is completely inconsequential.

So the biggest question is: does it feel any different now than before we were married? We already lived together and had been building a life together. But I would say yes it has changed slightly in a really positive way. I like calling him husband. The permanence of it doesn’t make me freak out. I feel secure and safe in a way that I haven’t much of my life.

I never thought I’d try married life again. But then this amazing man showed up in my life. Any doubts or concerns I had about what marriage is and what it can be disappeared. I don’t really believe in happily ever after. I believe in happy right now at this moment, and I sure am.

Why I Want to Marry Him

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I promise this isn’t mushy. It’s just my version of a love letter.

People get married every day for the wrong reasons; I was one of them. Twelve years later I’m a different person, and this is a different relationship. So I think I’m doing this for all the right reasons. I wanted to share what real love looks like, that it’s far from a fairytale. We don’t always get along or agree. We’ve hurt each other. I’ve yelled; he hasn’t. Real, enduring love is what happens after the “falling” part.

So here’s why I want to marry him.

He keeps showing up for me. All my life that’s all I’ve ever wanted, for someone to show up when it matters. My life has been full of disappointment in this area, especially men. Until him, there were probably only a handful of men who had done this, mostly my Pop. But he shows up for me every damn day, whether I want it or not. Just the other week, I was deathly ill with a migraine. Usually I can manage, but not that day. I called and asked if he could come home. And he did. That may seem small, but to me it was huge. Knowing someone will show up for you and even pull your hair back while you vomit helps ease the burden of thinking you’re in this alone.

I’ve missed him so bad I’ve cried. Again, may seem small, but I don’t miss people much. I miss my animals terribly but people not so much. In a past life, I was a constant work traveler. I had relationships before this one and was gone all the time. Never missed those guys. In fact, I didn’t even call or text much (except to check on Honey). But with Justin, it was different. I was gone several times for over a week, and I missed him so bad I cried. I don’t miss the travel, but should my work situation change and I have to travel again, it will be hard. It’s different when you like who you come home to.

He’s not scared of me. I’ve had previous beaus say I’m intimidating. Maybe I am. I speak my mind and don’t take any shit. I have a backbone and an opinion. He’s heard it all. But he says he appreciates how passionate I am. He’s not scared to disagree with me or present the opposing view. In so many past relationships, the men were so timid. Justin is laid back and easy going, but he once said don’t mistake my kindness for weakness. I never have.

He doesn’t try to fix me. Men want to fix us. It’s in their nature to diagnose problem and solve it. Justin is well aware that I’m not perfect. He sometimes struggles with understanding depression, but he’s never attempted to make me happy or thought he was the remedy. The struggles that I go through, he can’t necessarily relate to, yet he doesn’t discount them. He’s glad I go to therapy (and doesn’t think it’s a big con like an ex did – really?). He knows if I want to talk I will. And that if I need to be “fixed” in any way then it’s up to me to do it.

I don’t see an end. I think in almost all of my past relationships, it was easy to see the end. Nothing before, not even marriage, seemed permanent. I never felt much loyalty to other partners. It was always finite. I could see the end, and it didn’t make me sad. It made me relieved. I don’t have those visions about Justin. I’ve never thought about what will happen next or daydreamed about what I’ll do when this is over. This will never be over; we don’t need an end.

I’m sure there are a million more reasons why I’m marrying him: he’s terribly funny, sings songs to the dogs, has the most spectacular eyelashes, is highly amusing to watch during a Longhorns or Cowboys game, never lies, can cook better than any chef (while also keeping the kitchen tidy), can build or fix anything, tells me I’m his everything all the time and rarely snores.

And when it comes down to it, we know the secret to a happy relationship: a king size bed and separate bathrooms!

I want a marriage, not a wedding

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As my wedding day draws near, I’m asked often if I’m excited. And to be honest, no I’m not really very excited about the wedding. Not because I’m unsure or have cold feet. The wedding itself isn’t something I’ve focused on. In fact, most of it has just given me anxiety. To the point, where the wedding itself has become very minimal. We keep saying we should’ve just gotten married in Vegas last year! The wedding is just one tiny moment; the marriage, I hope will be a lifetime.

All this is in stark comparison to my first trip down the aisle. I planned that wedding meticulously for 18 months. I had a huge binder with every detail noted. It was a big wedding with all the ridiculousness that comes with such events. I focused so much on the perfection of that day, I saw nothing else. I was obsessed with being as tiny as possible so I was very “hangry.” I was equally obsessed with the flowers and cake and a million other things that had nothing to do with marriage. And when it was all over and the details weren’t there to absorb my attention, I was left with a marriage I didn’t want to be in. I know now that I did the best I could. I was just trying to live a conventional life and stay safe. But I’m anything but conventional.

Something big did change after the ceremony. I didn’t think it would, but I felt a shift in my heart. I remember feeling like I couldn’t breathe, that marriage was gripping my lungs and not letting go. I knew I never wanted to feel that trapped again.

This doesn’t feel like a trap though. I’m not sure if I’ll feel different once we say “I do.” I think maybe a little. We already feel like a we. He’s already well informed that I’m a crazy person (but I’m his crazy person). We have differences. We have intense discussions. I think that makes us stronger.

So in a few weeks, I won’t be walking down an aisle in white. I won’t be carrying a bouquet. There won’t be a celebration nor any other elements of a wedding. And I feel empowered by this because weddings are what little girl’s dream of, a magical day where they are the star. I never felt like the center of attention not even on that “perfect” wedding day. But I’m not a little girl. I’m a strong, fierce woman. I want a partner, not a prince. This is why I am focused on a marriage and have no desire for a wedding. However, I am excited about the honeymoon. And cake, there will definitely be cake.