Lessons for Limitless Living

How to measure Success

Art People measure success in many ways. Often, in our culture, it is related to how much money we make, or what kind of prestige we have, or the respect we've earned (i.e. our standing in the community with which we associate ourselves). Success is often attached to the approval of other.

But is that really success?

Can't we measure our success ourselves? Can't we measure success by our own yardstick?

If we weren’t influenced by the standards of others, what would we do to know that we had succeeded? How would we know that we’d "made it"?

I think we’d know it by the joy we feel, by the pleasure we’d have in any given moment and by the freedom we’d experience in our lives. At least that’s what I consider success. It doesn’t have to be something lasting. Like anything, our successes are fleeting but that doesn’t make them any less precious.

For example, I had a relationship once (of the traditional variety) that ended. But I don’t believe that the fact that a marriage ends constitutes an unsuccessful relationship…just a short one. I don’t think the length of a relationship is an accurate measure of its success. Yet, many people said, with great empathy, when it ended -  “I guess it wasn’t meant to be,” I disagree... it was a success, it just wasn’t meant to be -- forever.

If, for the majority of time we were in that relationship, we successfully created an arena for love and tenderness; a place that was safe and warm; moments of sheer joy of our shared experience. So, how can it not have been a success?

Why because it doesn’t last beyond a moment, do we dismiss something of value in our lives as not successful?

People associate being successful in business with making a certain amount of money or achieving a certain status in the corporate world. Yet, some of the most successful people I know are those that follow their hearts. They choose to work for themselves, create their own work or live life without the security of a steady job.

I’ve had success in a conventional job; a career that put me in a well-respected position in the field that I chose. I won’t argue that I was not successful. But that success was not due to my attaining a level of status it was due to the fact that, in that line of work, I connect with people and was moved.

Yet, at the end of the day, I feel that I’ve achieved more success now since left that world and entered one that was closer to my spirit. And though I may make less money as a creative (and definitely have less prestige), the level of gratification is ten fold in my life. And so, I believe, is my level of success.

No one but you can truly measure your success. So, take a moment and stop trying to live up to what we’ve all been told makes us worthy, and measure your success by your bliss.


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Never Settle

Redhead.woman

No matter what the situation or circumstances in life, most of us are taught to compromise in order to get what we want (or what we are told we can have). We’re encouraged to be satisfied with the way things are. If we not, we’re labeled as ungrateful or entitled. We're seen as expecting too much.’ We believe that good enough’ is the best we can expect; we make due, because we think that to want more is unrealistic.

I do not think that wanting more is unrealistic, but I do believe that we often convince ourselves that it is. 

When we believe that we shouldn't expect too much, we protect ourselves from disappointment by lowering our expectations. So, we settle for things that are not completely fulfilling. We tell ourselves that anything more - is impossible. Thus, generating a life of mediocrity. By not allowing ourselves to expect more, we relegate ourselves to a life in which ‘having it all’ cannot happen. 

What we expect, is what we get. We stay safe by closing ourselves off to a better option because we’re afraid it's not available to us or that it may not exist at all; or that the path to get to it is, well - too wrought with strife or too difficult or too - whatever...unreachable. 

I don’t believe that living life halfway is what life is about. For me, that is not enough.

It’s not that I’ve never lived by the rules, or believed that I’m asking too much to want more. It's not that I've never been afraid to hope because I might face disappointment or pain. We all get drawn in to this mode of thinking at times. But I found that putting up with things that are good’, but not good enough’, is not a life I'm interested in living. I can have something more -- something better. So, I refuse to accept anything less than the possibility of everything.

I’ve risked everything in my life to live beyond the status quo… and I have no regrets.

I don't settle in my aspirations, or my relationships - because I'd rather have a life full of failure and loneliness, than a life without hopes and dreams. I may not get everything, but I can never complain that I did not live a life filled with rich experience that moved me, challenged me and enriched me.

By not settling, I’ve made room for opportunities I didn't even know were there and created a life that is beyond anything I could ever have imagined.

Open yourself up to things you never thought possible, things that others may call pipe-dreams, and you will be amazed. There are no guarantees that you will get everything. But I can absolutely guarantee that if you settle, you'll never know the endless possibilities of a life without limits.


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Red's 2009 Year in Review

Well, it's New Year's Eve - that day of the year that we all review what we've done, learned, accomplished in the past year. And when we celebrate the new. It's a time of reflection and a time to set goals for the upcoming year. 

Thinking redhead And as I review, I've become abundantly aware that I have so many posts that I wrote in 2009 which I never published, for reasons that were primarily selfish...I wasn't ready to share these lessons or I was afraid that they would be taken out of context and thus, misunderstood. But, since I'm not one to be ruled by my fears or be overly concerned when others think of me; and although I know that some will use what I write to make judgments -- sometimes not-so-nice judgments and sometimes inaccurate judgments about me -- one of my Resolutions for 2010 is to publish these bits of wisdom. Important lessons for limitless living that I learned through the most magical and tragic year that I've been privileged to live through so far. So, even though 2009 is coming to an end, the lessons of this past year are still alive and well (as are all the possibilities that I imagined). These will continue to influence me and (perhaps) you too. So there is something amazing from this past year that created something to look forward to in 2010 -- great posts!

But for today...I'm simply going to list some of the wonders of this past year and when I'm done with that I'll list my hopes for the future.
Red's 2009 Highlights 
  1. True love exists.
  2. Magic is real.
  3. Loneliness hurts.
  4. Creativity is grounding.
  5. Vulnerability is scary.
  6. Family is good.
  7. People love even when it doesn't make sense.
  8. Fear makes us do irrational things.
  9. Death is hard.
  10. Ignoring the truth doesn't make it false.
  11. Life can be funny
  12. Clever can be intimidating.
  13. Openness creates endless possibilities.
  14. Singing, is always a good thing to do.
  15. Forgetting about something is not the same as forgetting. 
  16. Life is a paradox 
  17. It sucks to live with regret  
  18. The impossible is possible 
  19. Giving my heart away is for keeps. I can't get it back. 
  20. Being loved and cherished in return, changes how the world looks 
  21. There are some things that words cannot express

I've learned that I know so much more than I thought I knew and I know so much less than I knew I thought. 


As for 2010
  1. I will never settle 
  2. I will not pretend
  3. I will know the difference between love, sex and intimacy
  4. I will still believe that anything is possible and I can have everything
  5. I will be open
  6. I will wait
  7. I will create
  8. I will wear more mini-skirts
  9. I will cry
  10. I will laugh
  11. I will stay awake when I want to sleep
  12. I will play hard 
  13. I will grow my red hair
  14. I will let my scars be part of me 
  15. I will have fun 
  16. I will let life take me wherever it does, without fear or regret. 
  17. I will sing
  18. I will struggle with difficulties in a new way 
  19. I will fight for what's right
  20. I will never give up 
  21. And I will keep believing in love; a love that changes everything   
And above all, I will continue to be fearless.

Those who impacted me the most this past year, may never see this post. But if you do (where ever you may be), know you are always with me, in my heart. Know that you have made an impact that has shaken me to the core. And I'm grateful.

May the New Year bring New Possibilities!

Unfinished Business: hurry up and wait

Randall Stevens: Unfinished work of the unfinished puzzle Have you ever been asked to step away from something that you're not yet finished with? It leaves you at loose ends, feeling unfinished. And it can unravel you if you let it. Especially if it's a person with whom you have a significant tie. 

You cannot make someone come to you, or talk to you, or even acknowledge you if they don't want to (or if they feel uneasy about it). Even if you believe you could ease them. Even if you want to assure them that it's not a bad thing to communicate under any circumstances.

It's these times, that I have to stop and take a breath and remember...time is a wonderful leveler. Time will bring us back to the core of what brought us together and we will come back to the beginning once the wounds have healed and perspective is gained and we are more grounded in ourselves.

Bottom line, I may think I want to talk with someone (and I do), but if they are not in a place to do that and I ask them to anyway, what do I gain? I have a conversation with someone who is not invested in being or talking with me. And isn't what I really want is for them to freely come to me because they want to?

So, I wait (which is not one of my strong points), and I remember that I live my life at lighting speed; moving through crisis to insight faster than most; pursuing every endeavor to the nth degree - simultaneously.

I learn fast and I live fast. I don't waste a lot of time. My style is intense. I know for a fact that I get more done in a day than most people do in a week. And this it true for me emotionally as well. I move through the process of processing and coming to insights faster than most. I learn from my mistakes, make changes immediately to accommodate the new information, and incorporate that into my life -- always remembering my core belief that if I'm true to myself, anything is possible.

It's not my fault that I'm quick. And although it's afforded me many wondrous experiences (I've traveled far and wide; had numerous careers; collected more men and more friends than anyone else I know), it can be difficult when the world generally moves slower. And when those I care for are thrown by my pace - or by my (unintentional) expectation that they are as fast as me at moving to the end...where we talk again.  

...so I ground myself in my creativity which feeds my spirit. I pursue being exactly who I am in every moment (even if others don't like it), and I remember that if I live truly in the moment, I will have everything I always wanted, even things I didn't know.

...and I communicate with the only tool I have besides an actual conversation, I write. And hope that those I'm talking to are listening and know that I'm talking directly to them. And I wait, and I dream, and I trust, and I live and I cry and I laugh...I'm very busy waiting.

…and I remember that our best times were the times we came together freely without limits set on how or when that could be. So I try (in my small way) to recreate that, by not putting limits on how or when we'll talk again.

And although I have a knack of pushing people to do more than they see themselves as capable of, or feel comfortable with (because I'm unafraid to challenge people to think differently or try something anyway), I've found that this quality sometimes needs to be set aside in order to give someone time to catch up.


Reality... it's overrated

Redheads I've been told I'm idealistic and unrealistic..."Ouch, don't hurt my feelings!" I reply with sarcasm. Like that is a reason not to dream or a reason to become cynical. And, believe me, I can be jaded and cynical...but I do believe that the world will always give me what I need. After all, I live in Red's World: A very happy place, where dreams come true and you get everything you always wanted.

But you can't have everything without the cost of hoping or without paying the price of following your truth. I know that as long as I'm truthful to my dreams and live within my values of integrity, I will have no insecurities about the life I lead. And the integrity I speak of is not the same as following a certain set of standards. It's that feeling in your heart when you trust your gut. It's that vast intuitive knowing that we all have if we just listen. We know when we're fooling ourselves or being dishonest in our lives even if by all standards we appear to be upstanding.

Sometimes we blind ourselves because we a create a framework within which we define ourselves and structure our lives. And when we come across opportunities or possibilities that do not fit into this structure, we see them as unrealistic dreams or we don't notice them at all.
Like a camera cannot capture the entire experience, we look at life through a lens that only frames part of the picture. We're only facing one direction.  But if we open ourselves up to possibilities that exist in all directions ...that's reality.

The fear is that in stepping outside the framework, we run the risk of being misunderstood, hurt or even wrong. Oh yeah, and many may disapprove. That's why it's called breaking boundaries, pushing the envelope, living outside the box (in my case - everyone wants to be in my box...but that's another story for another day). Seriously, great things come from those who scoff at limits and try to do what appears to be impossible.

Great minds don't let the fact that something is unrealistic get in the way of reality. Look at electricity, airplanes, going into space and putting a man on the moon. Jeez, we can even talk to someone on the other end of the world without ever meeting them using a tiny little box called a cell phone. Would anyone have believed that these things could happen before they did?  No, only those who were determined not to allow "reality" get in the way of what's real. And that's just the big stuff.

On a smaller scale - by being an unrealistic, idealistic dreamer -  I've always gotten everything I wanted in life, so why not this?


Going through the motions

False-Mirror Being able to choose how we live is such a gift and living in a world where the possibilities are endless is the envy of those who are less fortunate on this planet. Even so, people live halfway, just going through the motions, doing what's expected and allowing life to live them.

It’s not necessarily that they are unhappy with where they’re at, it’s just that they’ve forgone things that they want because they’re seduced into a way of life that doesn’t embrace that. So rather than living life, they do what’s in front of them.

To some extent it’s how we’re raised. People want to fit in and people want to do what’s right. And sometimes it’s just easier to follow directions and go along with what’s been done before. I’ve done it. I’ve lived a regular life; one that fit within the expectations of what most consider a well-adjusted adult lifestyle. I was ruled by social standards, doing things as expected, willing to settle for what I thought was the best I could get. 

But one day, I had an epiphany…stemming from events in my life (the details of which are unimportant) and I woke up to the reality that life truly is what we make it. I don’t have to just go along for the ride, I can choose my direction, create my future. And I can do it from nothing, if that’s all I have.

So it’s not without empathy and understanding that I express surprise when I come across those who have had life experiences that bring into focus the brevity and preciousness of life, yet still insist on merely living – without risk, slogging along. Those that have had a wake-up call and continue to deny their dreams –  that is a real tragedy. 

For many the event that gets them moving towards the life they want is a near death experience – a heart attack, accident or some medical crisis that jerks them into the realty that life is short and should be treated as a gift. For others, it’s the loss of a loved one that hits home the truth of our limited existence. And for some it’s falling in love that triggers the urge to experience life fully without reservation. No matter the specifics,  it amazes me that many people who have such experiences say out loud – “Wow, this really changes things. It’s a wake up call for me to really live my life as I want to.” – but remain exactly where they’ve been and continue to forsake desires that would bring meaning and richness to their lives.

Solnedgang So, although for me it seemed that life circumstances brought me to this new outlook, I’m not convinced that it has to be a dramatic event that pushes one forward, maybe it’s just a decision.

A conscious decision to refuse to miss out while you can enjoy the wonders of life. I remember making that decision. And although the decision came after certain events changed my life situation, perhaps it was the decision that pushed me forward - not the events. 

Either way, once I woke up, even knowing the fear and risk involved, I couldn’t go back to just going through the motions. No matter how safe it was or how easy it seemed, I couldn’t go back to sleep. 

Please do not sleep through your life; do not wait until you’re near death, or you loose something dear, to make the decision to live fully. You don’t want to look back on your life and wish you had.

Stop going through the motions. Instead, make the mistakes and take the chances. And live without the regret of playing it so safe that you miss it all together.


Who's got your back?

I have an open outlook on almost everything. If you're a reader you already know this to be true  about me and about how I approach life and people. I believe that we are masters of our lives and we are each the sole owners of ourselves (mind, body and spirit).

Each of us is responsible for our choices and for creating our own options. I believe that to truly have freedom, we have to embrace these choices with all the risks and possible pitfalls that are inherent in any give decision or action.

And I expect that others strive for that too...this is where I find that I'm sometimes wrong. People fall short here, from time to time. And it always surprises me because I really do believe in my heart of hearts, that people are good; there is good in everyone and everyone wants to be nice to each other...and nice to me.

So when I find that I'm irritated with a situation or a person, I have to look at what I've done to contribute to the situation and where I've been blinded by my own idealism and optimistic outlook of people. It's often my overwhelming desire to trust in people (and believe that others will automatically treat me with the same loyalty and respect that I treat them), which lets me down.

But, no matter how many times I learn this lesson, I forget again and again. I continue to move through life and, as if by default, I return to the believe that is obviously part of my core make-up: "People are good, like me. There is good in everyone and people really do reciprocate when your are good to them." 

So, time and again, I feel betrayed and hurt; each time more hurt than the last time.  But, each time I'm faster at recognizing that my unrealistic expectations of others gets in the way of me seeing them for who they are. And that's not a slight on them. It's just a fact. There are some people who cannot step-up and be good. They try, and they're not evil, but when it comes down to it they are not ever going to have my back or truly be loyal to me, or to our friendship or relationship, whatever it may be.

They just don't have the capacity. Maybe they're looking out for themselves, maybe they think they're being supportive when they back away, or maybe they just don't care to be that kind of a friend to me. It takes a special person to really be there for another. And though I expect that everyone wants to do that for others, sometimes I'm wrong about people.

See, I have hundreds of friends and numerous work and professional contacts that I love and adore...but there is only a handful of people I can really depend on; those who would to do for me what I would do for them; those who would protect me and my honor with theirs; those who stand up for me even if it means they'll be scrutinized; those who truly understand the value of friendship and love.

What I do know is that I can depend on me to be there for myself, no matter what. And the few who truly get me, usually stand beside me. But like the song from Chess tells us: "No one in this world is with you constantly. No one is completely on your side..." except for me. I'm always there and I figure, I have to be able to wake up with myself everyday. If I don't treat myself with respect by discontinuing my investment in those who really don't (respect me), none of it matters anyway.

So when no one else does...I got my back.


The Power of Fear

Fear We’re human right? And one of the conditions of being human is that sometimes we are afraid. Fears can show up in many different ways: It can be seen in what we choose to do; how much we share with others; how we live our lives.

With the state of our economy, war and the uncertainty of this day and age, people who have never had to face fears, are having to do so. FDR's words, "The only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself," ring true. If we don't deal with fear, it will be the driving force in our lives. What can we do to avoid this?

Too often we allow fear to rule us and we don’t even realize it. Most of us are raised to deny our fears. The problem is that if we don’t acknowledge it, fear impacts our lives in ways we don't see. It shows up as shame or anger; shame about something we’ve done or an aspect of ourselves which we are insecure about; anger as a way to protect ourselves from our fear or to create a false sense of being in control.

I believe that to be truly fearless we have to face our fears.

Ironically, fearlessly looking fear strait in the eye, gives us the power to create a life that is full of wonder. So, fear doesn’t have to be a bad thing, it can be a gift that teaches us what we value and how to create it.

I do what CK says,“I advocate (and practice) placing the fear front & center. In dueling these demons we accept their presence and then we start robbing them of their power.” The impact of the fear is much greater when we pretend it’s not there.

It is ineffective to try to quell fears by avoiding them. This works against us by making them more powerful.  You can’t take fear away if you ignore it. When fear becomes invisible to us we are broadsided by it’s impact. Like anything we are blind to, it’s much more likely to cause damage. Just think about that bump in the road you don’t see coming, it throws your car off track and damages your shocks. But by opening our eyes to fear, you can minimizes its repercussions. 

The first step is to figure out what we are afraid of. If you’re unsure what frightens you, start by paying attention to the secondary effects of fear (anger and shame). These are great indicators of what holds us back. By naming our shames and angers we can figure out what we need. And we can evaluate how realistic our fears are. 

Sometimes when fear is taken out of context it is just plain silly. It’s like being afraid of flying when you’re not in a plane. So take the time to write it out, explore the realism of each fear. Play out the worst-case scenario should your fears come true. And you’ll start to see how much energy is wasted on false fears.

For those fears that are genuinely scary, knowing the potential consequences helps us to prepare appropriately. Fear is there to keep us safe.

By understanding the significance of each fear, we can gain insight into our needs and desires. For instance, if we have fear of failing, that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. It means we should address the issues that stand in the way of our success. Otherwise, we'll be stuck in the cycle of not trying so we don't fail. Don't ignore the fear, face it and take charge of it. Celebrate the lessons received from the knowledge gained by admitting fear.

Embrace your fears and you’ll be surprised how fearless you really are.


Stand Up and be a Woman (Feminine Feminism)

AS023B&G-l Pink and Blue are colors assigned to each sex for identification. Yellow is considered non-sex specific. And I believe that these color work as an accurate metaphor for our beautiful gender differences.

Remember, the poem:

"What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails
That's what little boys are made of!"
What are little girls made of?
"Sugar and spice and all things nice
That's what little girls are made of!"

Blue is masculine, pink is feminine. We all know this, so why do women think they have to be more “Blue” to get fair treatment.

Too many times, women take on masculine traits, and use “non-gender specific” words to describe themselves, in order to lessen the differences between the sexes. Stop it, GIRLS!

When we do this, we disregard the special insights and qualities we have solely because we are females.

By doing this we women are subscribing to the myth that men are more valuable than women. Instead of recognize our natural gifts and value as women.  And it only perpetuates the silly idea that men have more value than women; which, incidentally is a most chauvinistic stance.

Ladies, please, stop adding credence to a long history of societal double standard of valuing men over women; stop devaluing - being female.

Women…let’s not forget that we are feminine by nature. Just like the girls in the poem. Knowing and celebrating this makes us more powerful than...well, just more powerful.

We women are raised to be more malleable so we're more able to adjust to things. But adjusting does not mean we forgo our women-ness to get recognition or to be “treated fairly."  Are we treating ourselves fairly then? Are we really getting what we want? Aren’t we becoming something else and therefore, not being true? Freedom_from_habits_2 So, don’t try to be a man, if you’re a woman!

If we stayed true to our feminine ways, and all the girlie things that are inherent to being female, then (and only then) do we value who and what we are.

Be a woman – proudly and loudly. We’re more commanding as women, than as androgynous creatures, trust me! 

Treat yourselves (and the rest of us girls) with respect:

DON’T try to lessen the gender difference. Exaggerate it!
Men will appreciate us more if we do!!
And so will we!

So come on Ladies, "Stand up and be a Woman!"