Do You Need Your Family and Friends to Support Your Dreams? (The Answer Might Surprise You)

businessblur

“Don’t wait around for other people to be happy for you. Any happiness you get you’ve got to make yourself.” – Alice Walker

When I initially made the decision to quit my full-time job back in 2009, the first person I told was my mom. I could tell that she wasn’t 100% sold on the idea, but eventually she came around. “You can always go back,” she said.

When I told my grandmother, however, I received a more panicked reaction. All of a sudden, my typically supportive Grama turned into a shrewd news reporter. She immediately launched into this “who? what? when? where? how?” spiel, followed by a few worst-case scenarios. I think I finally ended the conversation with, “don’t worry Grama, I know what I’m doing.”

In reality, this couldn’t have been further from the truth. I was scared and anxious and all I wanted to hear was that everything was going to work out and I wouldn’t end up homeless on the streets of DC.

Continue Reading

The Best Way to Waste Your Life

file000304356027

In February of 2006, I probably listened to Anthony Hamilton’s “Can’t Let Go” more than a thousand times. That was the month my fiance and I split.

I knew it was the right decision, but that didn’t stop my heart from breaking in two every time that song came on. For some reason, I couldn’t stop replaying our entire relationship in my mind. It was a mental movie on repeat with two actors who love each other, but just can’t figure out how to make it work. I kept thinking: we were supposed to have our honeymoon in Bora Bora.

For the next year, I swore off any “serious” dating. I told myself I needed time to mourn, but mostly all I did was go to work, come home, cook one of his favorite meals to eat for dinner, then drink wine until I fell asleep in my clothes.

Then one day, I suddenly remembered something really important.

Continue Reading

How to Bounce Back From a Painful Breakup (and Become Happier in the Process)

Joy comes in the morning

This is a guest post by LaDonna Green, a communication and relationship coach. Please welcome LaDonna to the HBW Community!

I’ve always been that person everyone bounces ideas off of. The advisor, the editor and often the shoulder to cry on. At times, my shoulders have been drenched from the tears of the burdens of others. Other times, I have been there to share in their moments of elation and success. I have accepted my intuitive, empathetic nature, as well as the phone calls and conversations that go along with being a trusted confidant. Most of the conversations deal with love and relationships so I have had my fair share of pep-talks and advice sessions with friends and family experiencing difficulties with love.

Yet, a few years ago when I separated from my husband (now ex-husband), I found myself in a quagmire of being the advice-giver needing advice. My head was spinning! I had so many doubts and questions. My emotions ran the gamut, from sadness to anger to despair and back to anger again! Out of all the questions I had, the one that resonated most was:

“Now, what am I supposed to do?”

If you have ever experienced a breakup, I’m sure you can relate. Breakups are never easy, but there IS life and love afterwards. I won’t profess that I have found the “holy grail” of how to deal with breakups. But what I can say is that a breakup is an opportunity for you to experience  breakthroughs! You can do this through what I call the the “Triple A” process: Acknowledge, Accept, Advance.

Acknowledge

Acknowledgement of the end of a relationship sound like a no brainer, right? If your partner came to you (or you to them) and said it’s over, then it’s over! How could someone not acknowledge that? In some cases though, it’s not that simple. As individuals, our perspectives change when we couple up; during that time our individual experiences and desires continue to evolve. In some instances, the evolution draws us away from our partner. At the end of the relationship, you may not have a clear understanding of the how, when, why, and where the shift happened. That’s OK! The important thing is to acknowledge the end. You can’t move forward without acknowledging that the relationship is officially over.

Accept

It’s over. You could now be living in separate parts of the house or one of you may have moved out. Whether you’ve unfriended and blocked them on Facebook or vowed to maintain civil communication with your ex; it’s over. Acceptance is a conduit for change. Playing the shoulda, woulda, coulda game with your relationship is counterproductive to acceptance and can breed doubt. Doubt can quench motivation and in turn, interrupt constructive thought processes. But when you accept that you are now no longer a part of a couple, you must focus on self. For some, this is the hardest aspect of the “Triple A” process. Once your partner is gone, there are no more distractions, no more pointing out the wrongs of the other person. During this stage, it’s important to minimize distractions (like going to get a new puppy, another car, or a new relationship). Instead, consider seeking a local support group, counseling session or therapy to navigate through dealing with your loss. Although I had already had a therapist prior to my breakup, my therapist was a tremendous help through my divorce. She assisted me in finding the tools that I needed for the next step in the process.

Advance

Advance means to move forward. Identifying and evolving self is important in advancing your life. Here are some ideas for how to do this:

  1. Take this time after your breakup to advance through education, networking and building relationships within your community. Go back to school to finish that degree or get a certification that you have been putting off. Join a local community group or volunteer organization. I started volunteering at a domestic violence shelter and it changed my life! After that experience, I changed my college major and hope to one day open my own nonprofit rehabilitation center for survivors of domestic violence. Volunteering is what opened eyes to a devastating social issue and birthed my talent to help others in need.
  2. Explore your spirituality. Take that mission trip that you have always wanted to take. Practice daily meditation and prayer. Heck, I don’t care if you sit on the beach to watch the sunset rise and marvel at the wonders of the universe. Just make sure you find the connection between spirit, being and self to continue your journey to self-actualization.
  3. Practice holistic living. Exercise, eat well, remove stress and get adequate rest. Eliminate everything in excess: food, wine, negativity, social media, and anything else that you can think of that has the ability to stop you from reaching your maximum potential.

The key is to get in the habit of finding value in yourself and the activities that you participate in. Loving self is the door to reciprocated love from others, when that time comes. But right now, your job is to focus on you!

I have experienced love four times in my life. Each of my partners offered me something special that forged the bonds of love between us. During these relationships, I experienced memorable moments that will last a lifetime. Some moments were filled with tears and some with laughter. The gaining and then subsequent loss of their love, helped me reach a level of self-love that I will forever be thankful to them for. Their gifts of introspection at different stages in my life have helped me acknowledge, accept and advance to the place where I am now. And today, I am happier, healthier and more determined than ever to continue on the journey of becoming the best me that I can be!

What strategies have you used to bounce back from a painful breakup? Which aspect of the “Triple A” process resonates with you the most?

***

LGreen CULaDonna Green is a communication and relationship coach based in Orlando, Florida. After working for years in a corporate setting as an analyst, facilitator and coach, LaDonna has balanced her passion of helping others with her talent to teach others to maximize their full potential. Learn more about LaDonna’s work on her website, Communication for Life.

6 Ways to Fall Back in Love With Yourself

You’ll find
There’s no one left to love you
In time
You learn to love yourself
You’ll find
When no one’s thinking of you
It’s time
To care about yourself

- Blue Six, “Love Yourself”

It’s been three years since I’ve been in what I would call a “serious” relationship. I’ve dated many several men, but nothing that was destined to last more than a few months. While I enjoy dating and meeting new people in general, sometimes I do miss the comfort of being in a monogamous relationship. In lieu of a steady beau (especially around Valentine’s Day!), I find that it helps to remind myself that I am loved and wanted on a daily basis. Whether you’ve been single for a while or recently ended a relationship, it’s important not to focus on the fact that you don’t have a significant other. Instead, focus on the fact that you don’t need a significant other in order to feel loved.

Remember That You Are Worthy

“Self-worth cannot be verified by others. You are worthy because you say it is so. If you depend on others for your value it is other-worth.” – Wayne Dyer

We often restrict our idea of “loving” to the image of someone else loving us. Someone else doing things for us, kissing us, taking us places, buying things for us. We often go “out there” seeking someone to make us feel good. But looking outside ourselves for love is one of the biggest obstacles to self-love. When you rely on other people or institutions to deem you worthy, there is no place where you can access that feeling of importance from within. That’s why when someone loses their job, they can easily fall into a deep depression if their position in the company was viewed as a direct reflection of their worth.

Sure, I’ve fallen in love with many men over the years. But what I’ve also been able to do is fall back in love with myself. Here are some activities you can do to cultivate that feeling of companionship and contentment, even in the absence of a significant other.

Spend Time Alone

Many women like to fill their nights with friends and parties when they’re single, for various reasons. Some people just really like to go out and socialize, but some are more interested in filling the void so that they don’t have to be alone. In my opinion, solitude has become extremely underrated. There’s the assumption that if you’re hanging solo on Saturday night, you’re lonely and would rather be on a date. I know it can feel lame not to have weekend plans with a boo, but part of being in love with yourself is enjoying your own company. If YOU don’t like being alone with you, what makes you think someone else will? Challenge yourself to let go of the idea that you need to “be social” every weekend. Instead, set aside some time to be alone and rediscover all the things that make you amazing. When I was traveling alone during my month in Europe, it did get lonely at times, but for the most part, I liked rollin’ solo. I like being around ME and I think I carry that confidence into my relationships as well.

Wear Your Good Panties

I’ve done it a million times – bought a new outfit just to let it hang out in my closet until the right event, date or holiday gathering. I’ve had new clothes sit around with the price tags still on for months. I’ve let pretty Vickie Secret’s drawls languish in my underwear drawer, waiting on the right man to come along so I could wear them for him. Why do we do this to ourselves? Do we really get some sort of twisted satisfaction from denying ourselves the gratification of wearing nice things? Do we not fully enjoy the effect of looking amazing unless someone else notices? Wear your good panties – for no reason at all – to remind yourself that you alone are worth the occasion. Break out the lacy underthings you’ve been “saving” to wear with that special someone. Put on the good panties today because YOU are that special someone.

Buy Fresh Flowers for Yourself

Don’t wait until you find “Mr. Right” who will show up at your door with long-stemmed roses. I once dated a man who always brought me flowers – for dates, for special occasions, just because it was Tuesday. I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed them until I was getting them all the time. After we broke up, I would buy bright, colorful bouquets from the grocery store each week as a nice addition to my dining room table. Not only did they smell lovely, but they also made my living space look more vibrant. Seeing fresh flowers when I walked through the door after work felt like I was entering a special place that wasn’t lonely, but lively. The presence of living, breathing plants can be a constant reminder that even though you don’t have a man, you still have a life.

Prepare Home-Cooked Meals for One

Cooking for one is challenging. I know because I love to cook. Whether it’s a gourmet meal or a simple dish, I like to throw down in the kitchen. Even though I’m only cooking for one, I still try to cook a  really good meal least twice a week. “Good” meaning a complete meal with an entree, side dish and dessert. In my family, when you cook for someone, it’s a sign of love and care for that person, and that’s exactly what you want to be doing for yourself. Just because you’re single doesn’t mean you have to eat out all the time. Buy some groceries and prepare meals for yourself on a regular basis. It’s much healthier than running to Chipotle three times a week, and easier on your wallet!

Take Yourself Out On a Date

One Valentine’s Day, I took myself out to dinner. Yep, I went out amongst all the lovers, all by myself. I got a booth at one of my favorite restaurants and ordered everything I wanted off the menu – appetizer, entree, dessert and a few glasses of wine. I brought my notebook with me so that I could write for a bit, since I love writing but often find it difficult to make time for journaling. I was enjoying myself so much that it didn’t feel awkward to me to be dining alone. I just felt lucky that I was able to take a little time away from work and the busyness of life to sit down and relax at dinner with no pressure to entertain anyone but myself. Don’t miss out on a great meal or even a good movie just because you don’t have a date to take you out. When you commit to taking yourself out on dates periodically, it reminds you that you don’t need a plus one to have fun.

Explore Your Creative Side

Last summer, I took a six-week poetry class when I was living in Charlottesville. In college, I majored in English and studied poetry during my time there. Over the years though, I’ve only written poems off and on, pretty inconsistent related to the craft I used to practice almost daily. After taking the poetry class, I realized that hey, I still got it! I haven’t lost my ability to pen a poem, to tap into my experiences and present them elegantly as free verse. It definitely upped my confidence in my own creativity. If you’re feeling a little lackluster in that department, consider taking a cooking class or writing workshop to get re-ignited. Or sign up to learn how to make art through painting or photography. The possibilities are endless for you to nurture the artist within and remind yourself just how beautifully brilliant you are.

Have you had to learn how to fall back in love with yourself in lieu of being in a steady romantic relationship? If so, how?

16 Important Truths About Forgiveness

Like many of you, I’ve had my share of bad experiences over the course of my short life. I’ve dealt with lies, abuse, rejection and family dysfunction. I’ve gone through painful breakups and the death of loved ones, discovering that those events often bring out the worst in people (including me).

Along the way though, I’ve also learned how important it is to forgive. And I used to be the best grudge-holder you’ve ever met. I could give friends and family the “silent treatment” for weeks. I could be so cold when I wanted to be, just to “punish” someone for treating me badly. I was vehemently opposed to forgiving anyone who dared hurt me.

Until I realized that holding on to all that resentment was doing me more harm than the people who did me wrong. 

Continue Reading

No One Can Make You Happy

“There is only one person who could ever make you happy, and that person is you.”

- David Burns

This is a common complaint in romantic relationships: “He doesn’t make me happy.”

Well, of course he doesn’t. Because he can’t.

No one can “make” you happy.

Continue Reading

How to Make Time for the People Who Really Matter

I haven’t really been working this week. Instead of being hunched over my laptop, I’ve been doing a lot of other things that make me happy. Like visiting my grandmother in Ohio for her 64th birthday. Yes, she’s a young Grama LOL! Me and mom flew out to celebrate our favorite girl and it was a lovely trip. In my first proud travel hacking moment, I was able to find a last minute roundtrip flight on United for only $160 from DC to Cleveland! *dusts shoulders off*

Continue Reading

Go After What You Really Want

Parisian Love Lock

“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us.” – Steven Pressfield

For most of us, there seems to be this huge gap between the life we live and the life we really want.

Continue Reading