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.

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How I Know I’m Not an A**hole

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Every once in a while I think a gut check is needed. I’ve been in a bad mood lately. Maybe it’s all the negativity in the air. And life is stressful. Lots going on then the holidays, which are often a time of sadness for me. I know I have a lot to look forward to and much to be thankful. That doesn’t mean I don’t have bad days; days when I’m pretty much winging it and holding on by a quickly fraying thread. So I decided to make this list to remind myself I’m not an a**hole, or at least not one most of the time.

  1. I pick up after my dogs. I understand that their waste belongs in a bag in the trash not on the ground for everyone to step in.
  2. I open doors for people, thank them when they do the same, say excuse me and respect people’s personal space. I do these things, not because I’m southern or a lady, but rather because it’s the behavior that was modeled by others. My mom and grandmothers were all very kind and considerate souls. Some of that apparently brushed off on me.
  3. I stop at stop signs and drive slowly through my neighborhood. I do this because I’m obeying traffic laws, and I’m never in a hurry. But I do look in disdain at the cars on the street not parked in the driveways or garages of million dollar homes. I side eye the yard signs that say, “Drive like your children live here.” Why? I’m driving through city streets right outside downtown Charlotte. This isn’t the suburbs. This is not a cul-de-sac.
  4. I don’t litter, and I pick up trash a lot in my neighborhood. Sometimes begrudgingly, thinking why does this not bother anyone else? But I care about the earth. It doesn’t deserve to be treated in the way that most humans treat it.
  5. I honestly try not to judge others. I may not understand why some people do the things they do. I may not agree with or like it. But I am not perfect, not even close so it’s not my place to judge others.
  6. When my temper gets the best of me and I become a bit snippy to those I love, I’m always able to calm down, reflect and apologize. Having this awareness and the ability to step back has saved me so many times.
  7. I don’t always have to be right. I mean, I am a lot, but being right isn’t a prize that you win. And if it was a prize, it’d be a very lonely one. I can admit when I’m wrong (even if it’s just a whisper).
  8. I will do about anything I can to help an animal. It’s easy to be loving and kind toward animals. They make my life better. If I can repay that in any way, I will.
  9. I do not chew loudly or make weird sounds. It’s fine if you do, but you may always be a table for one.
  10. I don’t put empty things back in the refrigerator. What kind of monster does that? Oh yeah, men.
  11. I stand up for my beliefs. I’m not a yes woman. I’m not a sheep. And maybe this does make me seem like an a**hole sometimes. But I think it makes me brave.
  12. I try, some days harder than others, to leave the world a bit better than the day before. This could mean that I do a lot of little things or nothing at all. No matter what’s going on in my life or my mood, I believe in being better. I do not have a poker face so it’s easy to see when I’m not having it; although my resting bitch face may make it harder to interpret. But I’m just a real person with real feelings. And I think it’s okay not to hide them.
  13. I make lists like these, which must mean there is more kindness in my heart than coldness.

So this is what I could come up with half an hour. Tell me, what are you doing in your life to make sure you’re not the a**hole?