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Love

Sally

xo

 

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8 Types Of Men You Should Walk Away From

Girl, grab yourself a box of tissue and a glass of wine. It’s time to count to three, rip the Band-Aid off of that stressful relationship and let it go. Trust me, the wound will heal.

Several of mine have healed so, I know.

Let’s be honest. You know something’s wrong with this man you’ve been dating yet somehow you’re still holding on to the relationship. What makes you stay even though you know deep down inside that you deserve more? Is it the sweet words of apology he offers every time he messes up; the way he begs for your forgiveness while saying all the right things in your most vulnerable moment? Or maybe it’s the genuine affection you have for this man that will not let you imagine going a day without him. Could it be that you are afraid to let the time and effort you invested in the relationship go to waste?

There are many reasons why we keep holding on when there’s nothing left to hold on to. For some women it’s the fear of being alone. Others have deep-rooted insecurity issues that leads them to believe that they will not find someone else if they let this one go; the kind that contends “Better the devil you know than the Angel you don’t.”

Whatever the reason, you’ve tied a knot and are hanging on like grim death. Once a strong, independent woman, you’ve now been reduced to the queen of giving chances to a man who doesn’t deserve them. Without even knowing it, you’ve depleted your own power supply. You’re powerless.

The list below is simply meant to help you hold the mirror of honesty to your relationship. Examine it closely. If you’re still dating a man who repetitively exhibits any of the behaviors listed below, you’ve stayed in the relationship a day too long!

  1. The Abuser: This should be the number one reason for any woman to end a relationship. Every girl needs to know that they do not deserve to be hit or mistreated by a man EVEN ONCE. The first time he lays hands on you is the day you leave and never look back. You don’t even have to pack any bags, just leave. Now, it’s important to note that abuse is not always physical. It could also be emotional. A man who repeatedly calls you names, demeans and puts you down is emotionally abusive. I’m not trying to be judgmental here, but I’m honestly surprised at how easily girls have come to accept being called names by men. Beware. This is how abusers start. They test boundaries to gauge how much you can tolerate from them. Once you accept one thing they progress to another. So today you might be a B*tch and it sounds harmless to you but tomorrow you’re an **hole the next day you can take a slap across your face.  The more immune you become to any of their demeaning behavior the more they will dish out for you to absorb. And you know what – You don’t deserve it.
  2. The Chronic Cheater: Some men will always chase after the thrill of being with something new, fresh and forbidden. Every new woman in town will come under their radar. It has nothing to do with what you are or are not doing as a girlfriend. Your man is simply addicted to the idea of doing something clandestine and absolutely loves the adrenaline rush that comes from scheming and trying to get away with it. When caught, he might offer a heart-felt apology and vow to never do it again only to disappoint you with another hurtful act of infidelity. Do you want to enter into a marriage with a man like that crossing your fingers and hoping he’ll change? I don’t think so. Not to say that redemption is impossible. Some man have slipped, fallen, repented then spent the rest of their lives making it up to the woman they love. We praise the Lord for those! Others will pursue your cousin, your co-worker, your best friend and, God forbid, even your sister at every opportunity. Those are the ones you leave behind like scrap mental and move on to a more empowered life. If not, you’ll spend the rest of your life with a broken heart crying yourself to sleep wondering why this man will not change “for you”
  3. The Blame Shifters: Watch out for these ones. They are sleek master manipulators. They commit an indiscretion but yet it’s never their fault. They always find a way to shift the blame to someone else or to a circumstance. Zero accountability on their part. Have you met a man like that and doesn’t he just make you want grit your teeth? You do not want to commit your life to someone who sees nothing wrong with their behavior because as long as it’s someone else’s fault they will never change what they need to change.
  4. The Lazy Bum: Is there anything more unattractive than a man without ambition? Don’t get me wrong, I’m the kind of girl that would eat noodles with my man and sleep on an air mattress with him as long as he’s inexhaustibly working towards a dream he believes in. But the kind that lays on the sofa all day waiting for you to come home because they will one day miraculously become the next big rapper, investor or most sort-after underwear model? The chronic procrastinator who ends up playing video games all day to escape their reality? Nah. No. I’m not down with those. And by the way, that is NOT sexy at all, men, and does not give a girl any kind of euphoric feelings towards you. You have to see a fire in your man’s eyes. Inspire him if you have to, but make sure he’s the kind that has a vision and is making a daily effort towards reaching his goals. Not everyone gets discovered at the local gas station by a talent agent. A wise person once said “A young man without ambition is an old man waiting to die.” You have to admit, it’s hard to respect a man who is just sitting around waiting to die with all of his untapped potential.
  5. The Occasional Vanishers: Oh girls! We can really get creative in making up with excuses as to why our man is not answering his phone, returning our text messages or why they cancelled that oh so important date you’d planned for weeks. Let’s say it’s Saturday night and you’re lying around your place, missing him. You send a non-committal somewhat fun text early enough hoping to squeeze in some cuddle time. You write “So bored, what’ya doing?” No response, even though you can see clearly that he read your message. You make some popcorn, watch a movie and maybe even get on Social Media to distract yourself. All the while you’re hoping this boy says something back. But your phone never lights up. The text goes unanswered. Soon it’s time for bed so you give it one last shot “Well, night night.” Followed by some sleepy-person emojis. That one goes unanswered as well.  So you’re lying on your bed trying to downplay the disappointment and wishing you could fall asleep fast. But your thoughts are racing. You might want to soften the blow by telling yourself that, well, maybe his phone died before he could respond. Or maybe he’s in a coma in the ER. No, wait, perhaps he was exhausted and fell asleep early. And of course it could always be that the notorious neighborhood dog chewed his phone because, you know, it does that sometimes. Am I going to be the one to break it to you? Your man is out and up to no good. He’s avoiding you. If he’s not out with his boys chasing new tail, he’s probably laid up in the arms of another woman telling her the same sweet nothings he tells you and she’s now busking in your euphoria. A man who disappears on you every so often without a good explanation for his whereabouts is most likely a PLAYER.
  6. The Pathological Liar: Ohhh I can’t stand them! They tell such intricate lies they start to believe them themselves. And even when you catch them in a lie they have the perfect explanation for it! How do they do that? Most people tell little fibs here and there, perhaps exaggerate some aspects of their lives a little. But telling blatant and white lies habitually? Your heart sinks when you discover that they were lying. If you choose to deal with a man like this, how will you ever distinguish between when he’s telling the truth about something and when he’s not? You can’t. This kind of man will look you straight in the eye and tell you they never charged $120 on your joint credit card at the mall even though you followed him around and saw him do it. Or they will deny being out with friends even if his friends provide you with irrefutable evidence that he was with them. You will always get into arguments and shouting matches with this kind. “Michael said you all went to the bar last night!” “I’m telling you I have not seen Michael for two weeks!” It’ll be a frustrating union. Walk away before you lose your marbles.
  7. The Time Waster: Most women want their relationships to progress. If a man told you upfront that he wants you to be a perpetual girlfriend you would probably not want to get in a relationship with him, right? We enter in a relationship with the understanding that it will eventually progress from girlfriend, to fiancé to wife. And most times it does start with those intentions. But then the man gets comfortable, or gets cold feet and makes you a bosom warmer. This is the point where he doesn’t want to lose you, but he doesn’t want to move forward and fully commit to you either. When relationships get to this point some women get so frustrated by the stagnation that they deliberately get pregnant so they can tip the scale and force the man to commit. Instead of trying to trap a man like that, go find yourself the one who is not afraid to look in your eyes and see a future filled with everything you desire. As Bryan Adams once sang, when a man can see his unborn children in your eyes then you know he really loves you.
  8. The Control Freaks: Where are you going and what time will you be back? You can’t wear that out, go change! I don’t want to see you hanging with Janet anymore. Come to me when you need money for groceries and I’ll ration it out to you. If this is the man you’re dating then Houston, we have a problem! And don’t you dare say no to any of their demands because they become angry very fast. When it comes to controlling men, you should especially pay close attention to those who are opposed to you furthering yourself in any way. He’s quick to discourage you from accepting a better position at work or enrolling in college or even pursuing a hobby that might make you successful or more visible to other people. This is most likely a man who is insecure, and is looking for something to control in order to satisfying his own ego. Sure therapy could help him get over some of his deep-seated issues. But what if it doesn’t? Are you willing to be turned into a puppet for the rest of your life?

Women. We’re nurturing to a fault sometimes. To be honest, when I heard that Khloe Kardashian had dropped everything to rush to Lamar Odom’s bedside after his near-death experience, I squirmed a bit. Okay I squirmed a lot. A classic woman move, always over committing our feelings and overreaching when it comes to our men. The men on the receiving end love it so much that they come to expect it. Human Psychologists will tell you that human beings love to feel needed. I have often overheard women half-complain half-brag about this all the time. “I left my husband alone with the kids and he didn’t even know what to cook!” We huff, we shake our heads and even roll our eyes like we are exasperated about it but in the back of our minds we love it. They need us. They are a mess without us. We add value to them.

The feeling of being needed is a good one. But let’s not lose ourselves while trying to be someone else’s anchor. Know when you’ve given enough to a situation then walk away. One very valuable gift we have is the power of intuition. The idea here is not to find a perfect man. The idea is to pay very close attention to your intuition when it points out the red flags. Do not ignore those red flags.

Letting go of someone you love will hurt but remember if it doesn’t work out with that person it simply means that someone else loves you more. Go find that person. That’s the boy you deserve.

Do Actions Always Speak Louder Than Words?

Do Actions Always Speak Louder Than Words?

  

I am what I consider to be a happily divorced girl.

My marriage ended disappointedly a few years back, in a manner that will be discussed in detail in my upcoming book. For now, suffice it to say that my ex-husband and I have resolved all the anger and bitterness that ensued during the divorce process, and our primary goal now is truly the welfare of our 15-year old daughter, Jordan. We have proudly mastered the art of good co-parenting while living our own separate lives.

The back-story to this blog post is that Jordan and her dad have always enjoyed a close and warm relationship. Ever since the day she was born, she has had him wrapped around her finger and adores him like an idol. If you let her, she will gush with brightness about this superhero who is her dad, the man who can do no wrong in her eyes. As a mom and a girl myself, I love it. There’s just something about watching the bond between a girl and her dad that brings a lump to the throat.  It’s sweet.

Understandably, my biggest concern during the divorce was that their relationship would get ruined somewhere between the confusion of “Mommy moving out”, “daddy not being at the dining table”, “celebrating Christmas in two different households”, and all the other inconveniences that come along with the ending of a marriage. But I was determined to preserve it no matter what, and so was he. It takes a lot of work when the other parent is not in the household but when you’re truly focused on your child’s well-being it can be done through swallowing of pride, being an adult about it, and deliberate planning bonding events.

Their cute relationship persisted. Dad never misses any of Jordan’s events unless it’s due to extenuating circumstances. Dance recitals, birthdays, skating play dates, school awards ceremonies, name it he’s there. He’s always showed Jordan through his actions that he loves her.

Fast forward to Friday, November 06, 2015. It was Jordan’s 15th birthday. We took her to a Japanese restaurant like she wanted, along with two of her best friends. At the end of the birthday dinner, she opened a card from her dad and read it “Jordan, I know you’re my daughter but I want you to know that I also consider you to be my best friend. One call to you when I’m stressed and all my worries melt away.” The girl couldn’t help it. As soon as she read the last word tears welled in her eyes and she broke completely down. I held her on my lap for a good five minutes while she sobbed uncontrollably. Her dad even joked saying “Dang, what did I write on the card? I think I need to read it again.”

But I could tell that her dad’s words had touched the core of her being, so I held her until the emotions were all cried out.

I didn’t ask Jordan about her breakdown that day, but as I drove drive home I wondered – dad has always demonstrated through actions how much she means to him so what was so different about her reading it in words?

A few days later I did ask her. She confirmed that even though she knows her dad loves her, there was just something about being told that in words that made her feel “so happy” that she could not contain herself.

Sometimes words speak louder than actions. Most of us have grown up being taught that actions are more important than words. And in some cases they are. Politicians in Politics, for example, will talk a lot of rhetoric eloquently and convincingly, but we all know that what really matters is their actions once in office.

But let’s take a moment to acknowledge how powerfully words can resonate with us as human beings, sometimes even more than actions can. Have you ever dated someone, for example, that treated you like a girlfriend for all intents and purposes but they’ve never come out and said “You’re my girlfriend” or “Let’s be exclusive.” I know a lot of women who get hurt by this. They just want the man to SAY it in order to make it valid.  The elaborate dinners, concerts & constant love-making is just not enough to solidify the relationship. We want you to utter the words “Hi, this is my girlfriend Sally.” And when you do, all the hairs in our body stand upright, while we secretly smile from ear to ear.

Words impact us directly and emotionally, so, sometimes it’s better to express an emotion with words rather than with an action. If Jordan’s dad had showed up with a dozen yellow daisies, for example, would she have broken down in the same manner? I wonder. I doubt it. Even though yellow daisies are her favorite flowers.

I was discussing this very thing with my co-worker who is about 59 years old, and he told me his own little story about how he was once brought to tears himself. His son, Kenyatta, was leaving the house after visiting for a weekend. As they both strolled towards the exit, his son hesitated then said “Dad, you know I love you, right?” My co-worker said it was one of the most heart-wrenching moment of his life. As grown as he is, the words froze him at the door and all he could do was fight back tears as he watched his son depart. He said to me “Sally, I know my son loves me, but, it was just something about him actually SAYING it that broke me down.” 

In the debate of Word versus Action, remember, an action can just be as meaningless as a word, especially if done as a mere obligation (This is my girlfriend, its Valentines’ day, I’m expected to buy roses & chocolates so here we go). Just because the person demonstrates something through an action doesn’t necessarily mean that’s how they feel. In fact, actions are sometimes even easier for some people to pull off than it is for them to say something in words.

So today I challenge you. Pick up the phone if you have to, text if you must or, preferably, talk face-to-face with someone. Send some powerful words their way. Do you love them? Tell them. You admire them? Let them know. You’re thankful for them? Put it in words. You appreciate them? Tell them. They inspire you? Say it to them. It could be your parent, your significant other, your child, a distant relative, a loyal friend, a business partner or even your church Pastor. Don’t send them flowers this time. Don’t buy them dinner. Don’t buy them gifts. Don’t sit there and assume they know how you feel. Instead, say it in words. I love you. I appreciate you. Did you know you’re my best friend? You mean the world to me. Thanks for inspiring me. You’re the world’s best husband. You’re the world’s best wife. I’m thankful to have a hardworking business partner like you. 

I especially encourage men who have historically been socialized to demonstrate their manliness by rejecting any expressions of affection that might make them look ‘weak’. I’ve often heard people say “I’m from one of those families where we don’t say “I Love You.” It breaks my heart to hear that because I know how dopamine-loaded those words can be. You can change that.

Words are powerful & empowering. Go out there and just SAY it. You’ll probably  make someone’s day, hold them over for a while or even turn a bad day around for them. 

xo

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6 Things You Can Do to Help Yourself Grow this Year

It’s 2015 and you’re blessed to see another year – don’t take it for granted! There’s nothing wrong with hopping on the “New Year, New Beginnings” bandwagon and letting the crispness of the New Year provide the momentum needed to make adjustments to your life.

I don’t know about you, but I do not want to be the same girl I was last year. Sure I made strides and tried new things, but as Robert Sharma cautions, “Don’t live the same life 75 times and call it a life.”

It’s time to turn the growth knob of my life a few notches up.

If you’re like me and are ready to make strides in your personal development journey, here are some suggested ways to accomplish that this year:

Travel:

As the African saying goes “He who does not travel thinks his mother’s cooking is the best.” Being stuck in one place narrows your view point and stunts growth. Get out there and see for yourself how different yet similar human beings are.  Have conversations with new people and see the world from their vantage point. Venture into new environments, indulge your palette in new cuisine and dance without a care to a song whose words you don’t understand.

This kind of experience stimulates your brain and makes you feel ALIVE.

You’ll also find that travelling reveals new traits about you – are you as courageous as you think you are? Mhhh…perhaps if you visit a remote village in Jamaica and try to cross a river barefooted on a rope bridge you’ll discover that you’re not that courageous after all.

Travelling does not have to be exotic or expensive. Look for deals online or with travel agents, schedule your trips during low seasons and plan ahead if you need to put some money away. Of course you can always do the spontaneous thing and simply load up the kids, friends or family members in a car then drive to the next State or town. You’re guaranteed to find something new to do there, even if just a stroll down unfamiliar streets or hiking a new forest.

Being outside of your normal environment compels you to try new things – and that’s where growth happens because as Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. once said, “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”

Read.. or Read MORE

Did you hear the latest News? Mark Zuckerberg’s New Year’s Resolution is to start a Book Club. He will read a new book every other week.

There’s no doubt that reading books makes you smarter and more knowledgeable as Zuckerberg himself points out, “I’ve found reading books very intellectually fulfilling. Books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today. I’m looking forward to shifting more of my media diet towards reading books.”  But let’s be honest – most of us are so over-stimulated by Social Media, Online Gaming and sensationalized Entertainment News that it has become virtually impossible to focus long enough to read a book in its entirety. Challenge your mind this year to find your Dopamine Fix in books instead. It’s possible!  Shift your media diet towards reading and inside those books you’ll find new vocabulary, new knowledge and even an increased, more robust imagination.

Don’t have enough money to plan a trip? Travel through books! Set your mind loose and allow a book to transport you through the social history of the medieval era, let is reward your patience with an imaginary stroll around the countryside castles of Scotland and be a window into exotic adventures in Belize. And you can accomplish all of that for less than $20

And don’t forget – reading can help you grow professionally as well.

Reading helps you reduce stress. Reading helps you escape. Reading can even help you heal from a personal tragedy. And when these things happen, you GROW.

Pursue Spirituality:

Self development is a journey of self-discovery, and various aspects of spirituality or religion can help you along that journey. My co-host, Rachel, pointed out in our first episode of Let’s Talk that the teachings of the Bible often help her discover new ways of dealing with life’s challenges, dealing with friends and with her kids. The Scripture also encourages people to strive for improvement and aim for greater accomplishment, in other words it challenges you to GROW.

An aspect of spirituality that’s been helping me tremendously is self-reflection – having some quiet time everyday to practice gratitude, relaxation and listen to my inner voice. I love these moments because it is then that I get the ‘Aha!” moments of inspirations. And we all know that an “Aha!” moment means you’re on your way to some serious growth. It’s true that getting your mind to stop racing is hard, especially when you have a family or dependents to provide for. If you’re struggling to relax, mediation can help you learn how to keep your mind quiet and at peace, if only for a moment.

By allowing yourself to be distracted all the time, you’re taking away from your own creative potential.

Network & Forge Good Friendships:

What kind of friends and acquaintances do you currently keep in your circle? Networking with people who have the same mindset as you do can be inspiring especially someone who has already succeeded in doing what you’re seeking to accomplish yourself. It’s a visual confirmation that your goal is achievable. People who understand your journey, your goals and your vision will make everything seem possible and within reach. You know they are valuable when they are not threatened by the possibility of your success and the size of your dream.

A word of caution here though – having a mentor and comparing yourself to other people are two totally different concepts. A mentor encourages & inspires positive energy while comparing yourself to others only leaves you feeling inadequate. Seek mentorship not comparison and you’ll grow.

 

Volunteerism / Community Service:

There was a time when I believed that you had to be rich to give back. Of course this is not true as there are so many ways to contribute to your community other than monetary donations. Nowadays I focus more on doing small things that can make a difference for someone. When my Gas Company asks if I want to “round up my bill for the homeless” I say yes! When the grocery store clerk asks if I want to give 2, 3 or 5 dollars for March of Dimes I say yes. I try to put whatever I can in jars set up at cash registers and give some to the Salvation Army folks who stand by the door and ring bells during the holidays. I also try to focus on charitable organizations when I register for my 5K and 10K Races.

One thing I haven’t been able to do thus far is volunteer work which is still in my bucket list. I would love to get involved in feeding the homeless with organizations such as Hosea Feed The Hungry. I did some volunteer work years ago in college at the Cotollengo Sisters Orphanage home in Nairobi and also at Kibera Slums. The experience of serving people who are less fortunate gives you a sense of purpose for a long time and helps you grow tremendously as a person.

Psychologists sometimes recommend doing charity or volunteering as a remedy for depression and stress relief, because it helps you shift your focus from yourself to others.

Volunteering will also introduce you to new challenges that you may not encounter in your daily life. Having to come up with solutions for those challenges will send you on a new path of development. How fulfilling is it to have a chance to make a long-time impact on your community?

Pursue Hobbies:

Do you hate feeling like you’re just “sitting around doing nothing?” I do, sometimes. We don’t have to occupy all of our leisure time with activity, but exploring an interest you have outside of your normal work can help you grow. For me it’s writing. For some it’s knitting, fixing cars, scrapbooking, exercising, archery, gardening, golfing, photography, hunting, antiquing, bird watching et cetera.

We often vilify the internet but when used correctly it’s full of invaluable information. There are new DIY websites sprouting almost daily that can help you enhance your God-given talent or interest. Doesn’t Pinterest make you feel like you could create anything? And aren’t there thousands of video tutorials on just about any subject on YouTube? Nothing gives you more pride than admiring something you’ve built from scratch using your creativity. The process can truly be a source of personal enrichment.

Pursuing a recreational hobby forces you to stretch your imagination. Sometimes it forces you to learn a new technique. You may be amazed at what your mind is capable of conjuring up when nudged. Test your brain and see where it’ll take you. Some people have pursued their hobbies so intensely they turn them into a way to make a living.

Self improvement is a journey with no end. The idea is to live the journey passionately, allowing yourself to be fully engaged and open to new ideas. And of course, don’t forget to make it fun!

“If you’re not growing you’re dying” So stop mark timing and have a growth spout this year!

The 6 Invaluable Lessons My Failed Marriage Taught Me

It’s always awkward when I meet someone I haven’t seen for a long time and they proceed to ask me excitedly “How is your husband?” I usually pause for a minute then explain to them that he’s no longer my husband; we’re divorced.

If you really think about it, marriage cannot be an easy union to pull off, can it? Two people from two different backgrounds, sometimes different ethnicity, country or continent come together and vow to spend their lives together in harmony and with enough understanding to last them a lifetime. On top of having to deal with each other’s different habits, believes and convictions, there will be children to raise, in-laws to entertain, pets to  feed and budgets to plan.

“For two people in a marriage to live together day after day is unquestionably the one miracle the Vatican has overlooked.” ~Bill Cosby, Love and Marriage.

At first, the task of staying married may not seem all that difficult. In reality though most people will attest to the fact that marriage is a tall mountain to conquer and the rugged path that leads to the top is laced with many difficult situations. It’s a task that needs both courage and strength. Luckily (or unluckily) the love every couple feels for each other at the beginning of their relationship makes everything look possible and they may inevitably find themselves making compromises because they are a little bit blinded by the infactuation for one another. You love him enough to ignore the snoring, you love her enough to overlook her shopping obsession. You love him enough to spend your Sunday watching a game you dislike, you love her enough to allow her mother to live with you. You love him enough to cook & entertain his friends, you love her enough to convert to her religion.

And the list of compromises goes on and on…

But when everything starts coming undone at the seams, we are forced to come to the shocking realization that sometimes love is not enough to keep a relationship like marriage alive.

Let’s say that you know your new husband is an awful driver. But you love him so much that you decide to add him to your insurance policy because that’s what good wives do, right? But then he keeps coming home with traffic tickets, one after the other. Now your insurance rates are skyrocketing and you’re left wondering why he would want to do something that so obviously jeopardizes the family’s finances.

Or let’s say you’re a man who prides himself in taking care of your wife financially. Then you find out that while you’re holding your household down she’s busy siphoning money to her relatives to help them with school fees, mortgage payments, buy cars and other kinds of different situations. Suddenly the idea of you supporting your household doesn’t look fair, does it?  If she’s helping her family you’d like to help yours, too.

These are just a few of the issues that may pop up in a marriage and start to corrode that innocent excitement of being newlyweds. If left unaddressed, they start poking holes at your marriage and leave it looking like a slice of Swiss cheese.

Being an old-school type of girl, my view on marriage is that it should be a beautiful long-term relationship. That was certainly my intention when I got married on November 16th of 2002 in a beautiful white & lavender ceremony in Columbus, Georgia. If you had told me then that I would be divorced in 5 years I wouldn’t have believed you. I’m the committed kind; the type of girl who doesn’t mind spending the rest of her life with one man.

Throughout my marriage there were happy times: Family trips, picnics, Valentine’s Day surprises, cozy holiday dinners, joyful family re-unions, birthdays, movie dates & anniversary celebrations. Like any other marriage, we faced difficult times too: Job losses, disagreements, everyday stress & falling in and out of love with each other. Even though I wasn’t without fault, I believe I did my best to make my marriage a fun, enjoyable & fulfilling experience. I supported my husband when he needed me, was a good mother to our daughter & I kept the family budget together the best way I knew how. Still, it wasn’t enough to buoy my marriage through the hardest indiscretions of it all – infidelity.

I asked a few people who have been married for over 10 years to tell me what they believe is the most challenging aspect of their marriage and also asked if they could share with me what they believe is the most enjoyable aspect of their marriage. One lady by the name of Anna told me: “For me, the most challenging thing about my marriage has been the difference in our views about family. I come from a large family and he comes from a small family. Our family likes to get together often and celebrate for no apparent reason but my husband doesn’t understand it and usually does not want to participate. On the other hand, the most enjoyable part of my marriage is the fact that I get to try things that are outside of my comfort zone. My husband and I are very different. He loves to travel and has been to almost all the 50 States while I’m a home-body. When he finally convinces me to get off the couch and go with him, I end up enjoying myself.”

I enjoyed talking to people about their marriage; what works, what doesn’t. The one common thing I heard from almost everyone is that “Marriage is a job!” Some people even argued that marriage is altogether a dead institution and unrealistic institution. They said the idea of one person spending the rest of their life with one person is just plain impractical and inhuman.

My own marriage didn’t work out, and I sometimes I mourn for the death of that dream. However,  I can honestly say that it was the experience that taught me the most in all of my life. Here are some of the lessons I learned for myself.

1. Marriage is never a 50/50 relationship.  I know what you’ve heard – our elders, Pastors & other authority figures present marriage as a union where the man brings in a 50% effort and the woman brings her 50% and everything works. I’m here to tell you that marriage is never a 50/50 type of relationship. One person always ends up giving a little more than the other. The sooner you understand and accept that fact the better. Hopefully you feel that your mate is worth the extra effort you have to put in.

2. Every marriage is different. In spite of what other people might have you believe, there’s no gold-standard for how a marriage should run; you have to find what works for yours. The idea should be to leverage each other’s strengths & talents. If a husband enjoys cleaning while you’re better at managing the family’s money then go for it. Don’t let other people define what your marriage should be like or convince you what your husband or wife should or should not be doing. The moment you start listening to outside noise is the moment your marriage begins to crumble.

3.  Fight to keep your own unique identity. This might seem somewhat of an oxymoron since in marriage you’re supposed to “become as one” It is such a temptation, especially for women, to immerse themselves so deeply into marital roles that they put their own needs & passions in the back burner. One day you’ll be bitter about abandoning your dreams. Before you enjoyed being a wife & mom, you enjoyed other things be it photography, baking, writing, designing or singing. These are the things that complement us as human beings because we are multi-dimensional beings.

4. Sex Is Overrated. It’s amazing how many myths revolve around the idea of sex & marriage. Some women believe that if they keep sex interesting and frequent it will somehow deter their husbands from straying. It’s simply not true. Sex allows you and your partner to connect on a high Spiritual level, but it alone will not be the glue that holds the marriage together. If a man decides to stray from his marriage, he will stray no matter what.

5. There are such things as deal breakers: No matter how tolerant or forgiving a person might be, I believe there are some mistakes no-one should waste their time trying to fix. I never experienced any violence in my marriage but I would say unequivocally that abuse should be a deal breaker in every marriage. Never allow anyone to hit you in the name of love. If they do, it’s time to walk away not time to negotiate. Some people also believe that infidelity would a deal breaker for them. This is debatable. Some marriages have been known to survive it and I even read a blog where this one woman said that infidelity was the best thing that happened to their marriage. Whether or not it’s a deal breaker for your marriage is up to you. For me, I couldn’t look past it because of the many other problems it dragged along with it. Trust is a hard thing to rebuild.

6. It is better for children to come from a broken home than to live in one: This is actually something I heard Dr. Phil say one day and I could not agree more. Being the nurturing parents that we are, our default is to always to protect our children as fiercely as we can. Some parents will stay in a loveless marriage for the sake of presenting the ‘wholesome’ image of a family to the world. You wonder how your children will feel when daddy doesn’t come home anymore and become rightfully concerned about the long-term effects of divorce on them. Divorce is heartbreaking for kids. It’s the worst conversation I had ever had to have with my daughter Jordan and there were days when I questioned my decision to leave her dad. I will never forget the look on her face when figured out what it all meant, especially because she idolizes her dad. However, we are doing a huge injustice to our children if we chose to stay in a broken marriage for the sake of an image. We are teaching them that it’s okay to settle. There are many resources that can help kids deal with the traumas of divorce and along with their resilience they end up making out on the other side okay. In my opinion it’s what you do after the divorce that will have the biggest & most lasting impact on children. If you crumble & fall and lose yourself then your children with wallow in the woes of the break-up forever. If you dust yourself off and walk tall again you’re providing a life-long lesson of strength to them.

And so I say to everyone, go out and get married to someone you love. Make sure it’s for the right reason. Not because the person provides the financial stability you need. Or because your grandparents and all of your relatives have pressured you to settle down, but simply because you’d would rather be nowhere else in the world than with that person. If something that makes you uncomfortable happens in your marriage don’t wait until the problem becomes compounded. The silent treatment only makes you a bitter person who randomly lashes out at their children or co-workers. So address it there and then, it might end up being a misunderstanding that doesn’t deserve a day in court. If your marriage does not work out, and you believe you have given it your best effort, leave. Do not be afraid of the unknown or of being alone. Do not feel trapped simply because your debts & assets are too intertwined with each other. Nothing is worth your happiness.

When you look at that person you want to spend the rest of your life with you should see the things that you love about them instead of things you would like to change.

Happy Marriages everyone! Make it purposeful &fulfilling.

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” ~Mignon McLaughlin

Of Dreams; The Broken, The Unrealized, The Deferred & the Importance of Plan B’s

Of Dreams; The Broken, The Unrealized, The Deferred & the Importance of Plan B’s

You have a talent. You know you do. And it’s been a dream of yours to share it with the rest of the world for as long as you can remember. Perhaps it’s the way you decorate cakes that makes everyone eyes pop out of their sockets. Or the way your fingers maneuver the piano that gets everyone gasping & clapping. Perhaps when you open your mouth and sing in church everyone gets goose pumps. Or maybe you have a unique ability to bring pictures to life on paper with the stroke of a pencil. Yet, and in spite of it all, life never seems to align the perfect circumstances to allow you to shine. If only you get that break, If only that window of opportunity could crack open for you, you would show everyone what you’re made of. You’d prove to the world that you’re the great songwriter, entrepreneur, author, designer, filmmaker or artist you’ve always known you are.

Living in the agony of unrealized or deferred dreams is like living in a mental prison. When you daydream you can see it vividly in the eyes of your mind. You picture yourself living in the glory of your dream. You envision the world marveling at the ingenuity of your creation. Perhaps you imagine gaining some fame & financial success from it, maybe even inspiring a few people along the way.  But the moment you open your eyes reality hits you – the huddles that so frustratingly confide your dreams to your mind are still there. Everything you dream of is still out of reach.

There are a lot of us walking around having relegated our dreams to the dark alleys of our minds; Walking down the boulevard of broken dreams as the band Green Day would say.

And the examples are everywhere in our communities.

There’s that guy you know who’s always had an entrepreneurial spirit; who believes that their next idea is the wave of the future that will turn him into a self-made millionaire one day.

Or maybe you know of an athlete who’s been working relentlessly in pursuit of that million-dollar product endorsement contract plus the glory of worldwide recognition that comes with it.

Perhaps you know of someone who has been drawing ever since they could hold a pencil in their hand; whose imagination and artistic talent could easily rival those of Leonardo Di Vinci. If only they could get the chance to prove it.

I personally know people who are so creative that they could make movies that would make Hollywood blockbusters look like kindergarten projects. Yet they haven’t accomplished their dreams, yet.

So why is it that dreams are so easy to conceive but hard to bring to life?

The harsh reality about most dreams is that they are fueled by money. In most cases, financial constraints are what kill people’s dreams. The lack of money is what leaves a 200-page manuscript collecting dust in an old shelve. It’s also the reason why that talented DJ is stuck in a small town unable to showcase their unique style to anyone other than their grandmother. It’s also why the local songwriter’s lyrics are decorating the pages of a notebook instead of dancing their way to the music billboard charts. Without money you can’t buy that machine you need to start that printing press you’ve always dreamed of. Or pay for that rental space to start your daycare or pay for the studio time you need to record your music. So let’s face it, money is an integral component in the journey.

However, it’s not like the money huddle hasn’t been overcome before. Most people don’t have money sitting in the bank waiting to fulfill a dream. As such, people have done the most creative & unusual things to help them raise capital. Some have sold their possessions, lived with roommates to cut costs, given up pleasures or even lived as minimally as they possibly can. There’s really no easy way out but the question you should ask yourself here is: How intensely do you believe in your idea/talent? Is it enough to make you swallow your pride and borrow start-up money from friends & relatives if you had to? Is it enough to put yourself on a tight budget in order to save what you need? Do you love your dream passionately enough to work two jobs for the sake of the greater good? Rasising money is always one of those things that is easier said than done. But if you don’t do something drastic about raising it you will forever defer your dream to another day, maybe another year.

But lack of money is not the only dream staller. Sometimes we can stand in the way of our own success. Consider a situation where someone has nourished their dream the best way they know how, given it everything they’ve got and it still never seems to pick up any momentum. Our humanness tells us it’s time to give up. This is where an invaluable lesson I learned from Mr. Tyler Perry comes in handy. I recently watched an inspiring video from him in which he stated that your dream should be so powerful that it carries you in times when all you want to do is throw in the towel. I thought that was a profound statement & I agree with him. Your dream should be bigger than you; so much bigger than you that it won’t allow you to give up.

The irony of life is that some peoples’ dreams actually find them during the most unexpected time of their life; at a time when they are putting the least amount of effort and maybe even given up. So for some people it’s been a matter of half-timing and the other half luck.

In reality though, most dreams are borne of hard work, sweat & blood. Most people have to tread that infamous path that’s laced with many sleepless nights, disappointments, failures and rejections and still be able to rise from the ashes like a phoenix.

The keys to making your dream a reality have been preached & discussed over and over. It’s not anything that hasn’t been said before. However, as human beings we need to be reminded sometimes so we can re-kindle the fire inside of us before it altogether fizzles. So here are a few tips that I would like to offer, and would like to say that they are as much for all my readers as they are for me.

  1. Never be afraid to take the time to learn. The famous fashion designer Vera Wang spent 20 years working for other people. Look at her now. She obviously knows what she’s doing.
  2. Stay ahead of your game. It’s a competitive world out there, and there are hundreds of other equally talented people vying for the same spot you’re fighting for. There’s really no substitute for good quality of work. Even relationships with people who matter will not override quality. Do your research on your subject matter, stay informed & stay ahead of the pack. The current state of the world we are living in is such that you don’t necessarily have to be formally trained in order to be successful. I’m a big advocate of formal education, and I believe it plays an invaluable role in our lives. However, if you’re one of those people possess an innate talent & circumstances beyond your control have prevented you from attaining a formal education on that subject matter, don’t let that stop you. Just bear in mind that you may have to work twice as hard as the Harvard graduate you’ll be competing with.
  3. Leap. Sometimes the only way to discover how much you do not know about something is to jump in with both feet. Only when you’re in the actual process of molding your dream are you forced to confront the reality of how much work is actually involved in getting it off the ground. And who knows? Maybe after you have tried something that you thought was your destiny you may even come to realize that it wasn’t what you were meant to do with your life after all.
  4. Network with like-minded people. You will need to feed off each other’s energy.
  5. Focus on one thing. I have met people who claim to be entertainers, entrepreneurs & writers all at once. Not surprisingly, they are not successful in any of it. There’s nothing wrong with working on something that can generate the income that will fuel your vision. In fact, plan B’s are highly encouraged. However, your ultimate goal should focus on one thing and one thing only. In most cases, the success of one idea may then give you the opportunity to branch out more.
  6. Be bold. My mantra in life is this: If you want your dreams to represent you in the future, you must be willing to represent them today. This might sometimes mean stepping outside your comfort zone, being fearless and going on a whim. Martin Luther King Jr. once said “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the staircase.”
  7. Make time for your dream.  As most of us know, life happens and we all get busy. However, if your dream is important to you you’ll make time for it. Wake up earlier, sleep later. Whatever you do, squeeze it in somewhere.

Isn’t it wonderful to nurture something from the ground and watch it flourish to something even bigger than you ever thought? As human beings, we shouldn’t simply aim at “following our dreams.” Rather, we should want our dreams to change our life profoundly. Looks around you; it’s not easy, but it’s possible.

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