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.

A Simple Message for All

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I think the simplest thing I can say is be hopeful.

Hope is hard to break. It’s what every survivor has running in her blood.

I cannot offer much, only the hope that kindness will prevail.

My promise is to keep being kind every day. Will you join me?

I believe there are wonderful things about humanity. Let’s focus on those.

And as in every moment of uncertainty that I have faced, I simply ask myself, “What would my mom do? What would she say to me?” I think the answer is she would tell me to keep being who I am and to keep trying to shine light where there may not be any. She would say to always be classy, to never act in anger or hate and to keep hope in my heart.

So I’ll keep shining my light, and I’ll keep doing everything I can to make sure she is proud of me.

This is a simple message, and it is mine to you.

Conflict and Kindness

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Conflict is a part of life. No matter how much we’d like to avoid it, it’s inescapable. After all, we are all different and unique. We can’t all agree on everything. Nor should we because that would probably be a very boring world.

But when we disagree, does that mean we have to be enemies? Does that mean we have to be hateful? It seems pretty simple to say of course not, yet that doesn’t seem to be where we are as a society.

Before the advent of social media, we probably kept our opinions and our beliefs a bit more to ourselves. Now everyone has a platform. And everyone has an opinion, which is fine because you are entitled to your opinion. Just remember it’s yours. That’s right, it’s your opinion. You can’t make it be someone else’s. Opinions aren’t facts. They are what we believe about a certain situation, which could include a lot of different things, including bias.

I have lots of opinions and beliefs. And I have plenty of people in my life who have polar opposite opinions and beliefs. This includes in my own home. Justin and I have a great love for one another and also respect. But we are different. We came from different environments and have experienced different things. On the core, non-negotiables, we are pretty aligned. Other things not so much, including politics. I loathe politics. I feel like we have a very dysfunctional system. So does he. We just have different thoughts on how to fix it. Yet, we can live together and be happy. With the current state of the country, it’s hard to miss all the hate and rage being supplied by both parties. We try to keep our differences on these matters out of sight. Although sometimes, I can’t help myself. I will honestly admit that I threw a dog treat at him a few weeks ago. I apologized. Not my finest moment.

So here we are cohabitating, not arguing. Because I know what matters is that he’s a good man who treats me well, is a great father and is respectful of everyone; not who he votes for. Although, I’ll be honest, it’s sometimes been hard to separate the two.

Apparently, we are the only ones that seem to be able to get along. People are spending hours on social media being vicious and disgusting to one another. Why? What will this solve? I don’t post anything on social media about my political beliefs. This is private. The only thing I will publicly speak out on is the discriminatory and unconstitutional passage of HB2. If you want to attack me because of this or no longer be my friend, I’m okay with this. I stand proudly with all those in the LGBT community and their allies. I will never support anything that chews away at the basic human rights of any citizen. Not to mention the financial ruin it has caused this state and how it makes us look to the world.

Other than this, I’m going to keep my thoughts to myself. It’s funny how people will just assume you are on their side about something and begin spewing away. Don’t ever make assumptions about how others feel. You’ll be wrong. I am reminded of a dinner I was at many years ago with friends and acquaintances. A controversial topic came up with many at the table saying some terrible things about anyone who was on the other side. I did not join the conversation. I simply got up and went outside. I came back later. The conversation had moved on, but it changed the way I felt about some of those people that day. It made me realize that if I didn’t want to get attacked, I should probably keep a lot to myself.

I’ve also been sickened by the way people have taken down those in the public eye for having an opinion. If you are a celebrity or famous, you do have a platform. You can use it as you wish. My girl Sara Bareilles has been vocal about her vote. It’s her opinion. It in no way impacts her music or the amazing, talented person she is. But she’s got people almost threatening her for having a voice! Just unfollow her if it bothers you so much, but why hate her and tell her she’s scum because she has a different opinion than you.

So as we head into the final few weeks of this election, can I please persuade you all to be kind? It’s not too much to ask. I don’t have to agree with you or even like you to be kind. At the basis of human dignity is kindness. I am not your enemy because we disagree. I am not delusional, despicable or repulsive because of my opinions. I know they are mine. I don’t plan to force them on anyone. So take all that energy you are using to fuel your hate and do something wonderful with it. What kind of world could we really live in if we practiced kindness? It’s not a rhetorical question. It’s a possibility.