responsibility

Last year, I really enjoyed sharing my random thoughts as I watched the state of the union speech so I decided to do it again.

I love the state of the union speech.  It is such a time capsule, capturing the political landscape and always full of interesting moments.  I am always curious what the President has to say, whether I agree with some or all or none of it is really irrelevant.  Well, other than the amount of wine I need to consume to keep my blood pressure stabilized.

Please keep in mind that this is my random train of thought.  There are summarizations of what was said as well as my own opinion and commentary and it may not be clear what’s what. There may even be some grammatical and spelling errors, I didn’t do much proofreading.

Take it for what it is and watch the speech yourself. I encourage you to create your own running commentary and share it with the group. That would be really cool.

Oh yeah, I am so not interested in being yelled at for my opinions.  That’s what they are, my opinions.  Feel free to share yours, but disrespect will not be tolerated.

So here we go.  “Mr. Speaker,  The President of The United States ” …

I guess we should first note that many democrats and republicans are sitting intermixed next to each other.  This seems to be in a statement of good will during this time of strife, with the shooting and all.  I think everyone realizes that more civility is needed and that the violent rhetoric was a little out of line.  I would think they would feel this way personally, even if they won’t say it out loud.  Of course, there is a group of republicans that are refusing to participate.

It makes me sad that some people refuse to see the value of working together toward best solutions for the common good.

Let us all take a moment to send good thought out to Sen. Giffords and her family.  Tragedy.

Wow, I teared up just looking at that little girls father.

I always love that the vice president and the speaker have to sit up there and try to keep a straight face the whole time.

Governing is a shared responsibility.  Please please please can we start to work together and stop all this insane fighting.

Funny, all the corporations are making money again, but people and small businesses are suffering and my house just lost another 15%.  Your right Mr. President, I would like you to work together to fix this.

This is a changing world.  Other countries are kicking our butts. It is time to come to terms with the fact that there is no going back. It is time to embrace change and move forward folks.

I am so tired of hearing about how great we are.  Stop fluffing everybody’s feathers and start telling me what you are going to do to fix this and how you are going to get bipartisan support for that.

Out educate, Out innovate and Out build the rest of the world.

Winning the future…

1st step.  Encourage innovation.

It doesn’t just change our lives it is how we make our living.  Invest in research.  biomedical, information technology and green energy.

It’s like a good rock band, we have to constantly reinvent ourselves.

Hmm, I like that.  Take the money we subsidise the oil companies and give that money to people doing research and building clean energy technology. 2035, 80% electricity from clean energy.

What kind doesn’t really matter, let’s work together to get it done.

2nd step.  Education

Over half the jobs require more than a college education, while over a quarter of kids aren’t even graduating from high school.

Calling out to parents to take responsibility for their kids education.  Make sure your child does their homework, give accolades to those who do well in academic ventures, not just sports and entertainment.   Set a good example and instill a love of learning in your kids.  Be encouraging and supportive.

Success in not a function of fame, but of hard work and discipline.

Expectations should be high in school.  Must reform our school systems not throw more money at a bad system.  Here Here!!!!

Get rid of no child left behind and replace it with a better program.  Yay!!!!

Reform is a bottom up process, not a top down.  We must empower each child to acheive.  Tell them that they are smart and can accomplish whatever they put their minds to and guess what?  They will.

Give teachers some respect, would you.  And, guess what?  Being a bad teacher isn’t going to cut it any more.

Become a teacher, you country needs you.  But how are you going to make sure that being a teacher doesn’t require having a second job?

Boehner looks annoyed.

The goal.  The highest percentage of college graduates in the world.

Illigal imigration.  Needs adressing.  Difficult debate.  Let’s have it.

Step 3. What is step three? I don’t know but it starts about here.

Infrastructure.   We got a D in the quality of our infrastructure.  Sad really.

Re-double the efforts of the last two years and put americans to work.  Pick projects based on the economy, not the politicians.  Good luck with that.

Hee Hee.  He made a funny.

Oh dude, wake up.  You almost got caught with your finger up your nose.

Rigging the tax code to benefit the few.  Must change it.

It disgusts me that there are so many loop holes that a few corporations pay no taxes while other pay through the nose.

Boehner is not being very successful controlling his grimace.

Regulation is not the problem.  Protecting people is necessary, but I agree that we shouldn’t put undo burden on business.  But no rules is simply not an option.  You can not avoid that some people are greedy and selfish and will exploit people to make a profit.

Is that booing over the health care law?  tacky.

If you have better ideas, bring it.  Let’s here em.

Disagreeing and pointing out flaws is not even close to coming up with solutions.  Help solve the problems and stop you bitching.

Like so many people have stated in the past.  Are you going to be part of the problem or part of solution.  Really it is that simple.  Nothing comes of all this negativity, it just doesn’t.

Finally.  Live within our means.

Freeze domestic annual spending for 5 years?  Let’s cut what we can do without, but not on the back of our most vulnerable citizens.

Let’s stop pretending that cutting annual spending alone will be enough.  It won’t.  Cut excessive spending anywhere we find it.

Did you hear that?  Repealing the health care bill will increase the deficit by more than 250 billion dollars.

Malpractice reform is back on the table.

strenthen Social Security without slashing benefits or putting it at the hands of the stock market.

Say by by to the tax cuts.

Simplify the tax code, best for everyone.  Good plan.  Don’t repeal or extend anything.  Reform the whole damn thing.

I love the scale of his vision.  Go big or go home.  Think bigger

More competent government, imagine that?

Hey, it’s Gary Locke.

Ooh, another funny.  Hee hee.

Wow, re-org the federal government.  Well now, that is a current concept.  I think I was re-orged six times during my five years at a software company.  Can’t say whether it was good strategy or not.

He will veto any bill with earmarks.  Look at the grin on McCains face.

The Iraq war is coming to an end.  Over 100,000 troops home so far.

A little rose colored on the Afghan war, I think.  Gonna start bringing the troops home next year though and that is good.   Enough war please.

Oh god, here comes the stand up sit down portion of our program.  There should be rules about standing ovations and applause.  Let the man speak.

Well hello Patty.  Looks like people are starting to get tired.  Me too.  That can’t be a good sign.

Wow, those old generals look pissed about gay people serving in the military.

Get over yourselves people.  Stop being threatened by things and people you don’t understand.  Different than you does not mean evil or scary, just different.  You might be surprised how much you can learn from someone who feels, speaks, dresses or lives differently than you.

Solar roofing shingles.  Now that’s cool.

We Do Big Things.  We are country of ordinary people who dare to dream.

Well, not left teary eyed with inspiration, but a good speech none the less.  Big ideas, big arguments, big reforms.  I like that.

I agree that the first half of the speech was better than the second half.

Watch the speech now!

Part 1:

Part 2:

It has been an interesting couple of weeks since attending the forum.  I have been mourning a part of myself and learning to live in a world where that part me no longer exists.  Of course this is a good thing, but that certainly doesn’t mean it has been easy.

I have caught myself falling back into my depression routines which is pretty frustrating.  I am also noticing new layers or levels of issues to deal with.  This is also a good thing as these are the real issues, the rackets I have built up that were hidden beneath my tortured soul persona.  The good news is that now that I am past all the bullshit  I can concentrate on going after the stuff really getting in the way.  It is like all that anger just wrapped me in a blanket of safety and now I am fully exposed, left to look for and examine the real issues I was just hiding from before.

My therapist is thrilled and I am working on being thrilled, but right now I just feel a little let down.  See there, that’s a racket talking right there.

I have been finding it hard to write.  This post have been sitting in my draft posts in various stages of undone for about a week now.  I ended up having to write it by hand to break through the block and it hardly resembles what I meant to write when I started.  When I think about it, I wonder if much of my inspiration came from my angst and resentment and blame.  This is a new place to write from for me.  This is a new place to do everything from for me.

Although I see the future in a whole new brighter light from a place of knowing I am not only capable but also deserving, insecurity and fear are still rampant and restraining.

But alas,  life rolls along and time speeds past and there is much to be done.  School starts this week and a new stage of life beings for our family. Ada starts kindergarten on Thursday and Ian will be attending preschool two mornings a week starting next week.    This leads to many new challenges and some great opportunities as well.

I am not the most organized of people, another racket I run to avoid being responsible for my own life — See how those can get in the way?

So, this week I have set myself up to succeed and started a fresh school year with a fresh outlook.

Taking responsibility for my life means many things to me.  Much of the big stuff like the wall I put up between myself and others and how angry I was and generally nasty sometimes are gone – vanished like some sort of magic.  What’s left are those things that can make a huge difference in my day to day life.  These include being organized and responsible for remembering what forms need to be filled out, that there is a field trip tomorrow and I need to send snacks to school on Wednesday.  It also means taking responsibility for my health and my body and finally doing what it takes to be a healthy, confident, beautiful woman.

Maybe we can throw in figuring out what I want to be when I grow up as well, but that is the big scary monster in the room right now and a lot of baggage lays between me and that goal, although I have been having some thoughts about what it might look like and that is a surprisingly big step for me.   In the meantime I can concentrate on getting the things I do have under my control under control.

I have already made some big strides.  Today (well actually yesterday but it took me too long to edit this) I have eaten great, exercised, cleaned the house and spent quality time with the kids, while still managing to get some work done.  It is possible to be productive and get everything done.  It’s amazing how much time opens up when you stop worrying so much about how overwhelming it all is.

The challenge will be to keep at it for more than a couple of days.  This is another racket I run.  I have great intentions and a strong start, but the follow through tends to go by the wayside.  I have put many tools into place to assist me in overcoming this weakness and I will share them with you over the next couple of weeks as I discover the successes and failures.  I hope that maybe an idea will spark you to create a less overwhelming life for yourself as well.

Last week I spent three very long grueling days transforming my life.  It may seem a lot to ask to completely transform your life in three measly days, but it happened.  They said to commit to the process and it would happen, and it did.

I saw some amazing things.   I watched men open up and accept their vulnerabilities even though they were completely closed off when they arrived and women face their fears and insecurities head on with bravery and grace.  I have never been part of something so intimate with a group of 130 people, all of whom supported and surrounded each other with love through a very trying couple of days.

I went to the Landmark Forum really unsure of what it was I was supposed to gain from it.  A lot of people go to have breakthroughs in their relationships with parents, children, friends and/or spouses or with their health or business.  I needed all of those things and so didn’t enter with a specific goal in mind.  I just knew that my life wasn’t working the way it was and after seeing the change in a friend of mine who recently went through it, I knew I wanted some of whatever he was taking.

What I ended up learning is that all those areas of my life that needed changing were all tied up in the same underlying issues.  I needed to take responsibility for my own life.  I had blamed my parents for everything bad that had ever happened to me and even for my persistent unhappiness.  This impacted every area of my life and held me back from getting anything done.  I learned to differentiate between the actual events that happened and my interpretations and stories that I built up in my head as a result.

It’s not that bad things didn’t happen, they did.  But my parents were just doing the best they could with what they had to work with.  They had their own shit to deal with and their own demons haunting them.   But, the feelings of not being worthy and not being good enough were completely separate and only the stories that I had created.  This realization alone lifted 10 tons off me.  I didn’t have to let my stories control me any longer.

This was a lot easier said than done for me.   Let me just say before I go any further that I had a certain type of experience and everyone else there had their own experience.  Please don’t be scared off by the following information.  I am an extreme case, not everyone had the issues to deal with that I did or the built up emotions to clear.  Each experience is as different as the individual.

OK, here we go.  I started crying Friday morning and didn’t stop until late Saturday afternoon.  I kept apologizing and laughing with the people around me because I couldn’t get the tears to stop, they just ran in a steady stream down my face no matter what I did.  I would get a small break and then she would mention the word empowerment or opportunity and there they would go again.  I never dreamed it would be so difficult for me to grasp onto the possibility that I deserved to be a powerful person with unlimited possibilities.  My mind and body fought this process tooth and nail, yet I persevered.

But after speaking with my Mom on Saturday afternoon, I got up and shared this very powerful conversation with the group.  I was almost giddy and no longer crying.   By taking responsibility for my own life and releasing the anger and resentment, I had cleared up a ton of space in my life that was formerly filled with nothing but garbage.

I even came home with the full intention of calling my dad, who I haven’t spoken to in 17 years.  A lot of work finally got me to a point that I have forgiven him and realize that his actions can no longer have any impact on my life.  I even think I might want to have some sort of relationship with him, if that is possible.

So I woke up Sunday morning and got sick three times, then I dialed the phone with the full intention of speaking to him when he picked up the phone.  I was going to tell him that I am doing great and that I accept him for who he is and forgive him.  I was also going to take responsibility for the fact that I made some decisions I am not that proud of and didn’t treat my parents very well, but that all that is in the past I am hoping that we can start over and get to know each other.

Unfortunately, the phone was disconnected.  God, I was pissed.   All these years and all this pain and I finally get to this point in my life and he wasn’t there.   I didn’t need to puke any more, but was I mad.  I marched in there and got up and told what had happened.  Our leader Angie did an amazing job of bringing me down and reminding me that what happened was the phone was disconnected and that was it.  ” He wasn’t there” and “I have spent so much of my life wasting time getting to this moment” was all my stories.

For all I know, he got a cell phone or didn’t pay his phone bill.  I really don’t know anything about his situation, but I do know that I called and intended to talk to him and that means that I am officially “in the game” and she congratulated me on that.  She also mentioned that I needed to stop holding all my emotional stuff in my physical body and that I might be amazed what physical problems I have disappear now.  Hmm, haven’t I heard that somewhere before?

That was when it happened for me, my transformation.   I have spent my entire life completely wrapped up in my stories.  So much so that they appeared to be all there was.    I was terrified if I even let up for a second that I would just crumble into little pieces on the floor and there would be nothing left of me.  But that was just another story,  I am better than ever and still me, just a little more emotionally light.

When I got home on Sunday night, I was bigger than life.  I almost felt high, ready to conquer the world.  Just sitting with my husband caused him to panic a little.  It was just me with him, fully  myself and present and that is surely something he is not used and maybe has never even seen with me.

At the Landmark Forum, I created the possibility for my self and my life of being whole and present and responsible for my life and my actions.  In doing so, things started happening right away.  At dinner on Sunday night with my cohorts at the Forum, I was fully present and confident when speaking about my business, free of thoughts of not being good enough or worthy of success, and almost everyone at the table asked me for my information (definitely time to order business cards).  On the way home that night, I was telling the young woman I drove home about the experience and she jumped in with the information that her boss needed some advice on his website.   The following day, I responded to two inquiries for small websites and received an email from a designer friend of mine asking if I wanted to work on a project with her.

Even if none of these interactions turns into anything my outlook on my business has changed completely, and this wasn’t even something I was looking for out of attending this workshop.   I know now that I have something good to offer and that a potential client choosing to do business somewhere else doesn’t mean I’m a failure.  It just means they decided to go with somebody else.  I just have to put myself out there and be present and genuine in the moment.  And of course build kick ass websites.

This week I have been with my children fully and openly, I think for the first time ever.   I was so concerned with my own stuff that I don’t really think that I could be present to their lives.  I realized that they are not extensions or reflections of me or my parenting.  They are their own little beings and my job isn’t to mold them to force them to be a certain way, but to be with them and stand up for them and be present, I mean really present to their unfolding and growth.   This is a pretty powerful thing and has changed the way I will interact with my children forever.  The whole first day, Ada kept looking at me like an alien had taken over her mother.  The second day, she just hugged me and hugged me and hugged me.   The tears come just thinking about it.

Now, a week later, life has returned to somewhat normal and I sit comfortably in this warm pool of uncertainty, something that would have thrown me into a panic attack just a week ago.   Clearing up all this garbage from the past leaves a lot of clarity and even more empty space, something a little unnerving at first.   What happens next is yet to be seen, but I look forward to tomorrow and for now that is enough.

With all that said, there were a few things about the Landmark Forum that bothered me a bit.  They get really into selling your friends on the forum.  They do this in a fashion that makes you think that this is not what they are doing, but they are.  I think that the final night would have been a lot more meaningful and even a more powerful sales tool if they had concentrated more on what people got out of it and less on why your guests should sign up for it.

I knew this was coming, although it was more than I even thought it would be, and prepped my guests for it.  One of the issues I had was that I never asked for help or support and therefore made it virtually impossible for anyone to feel like they could support me in a meaningful way.  So, it was important for me to ask for my mom and friends to be there for me and for me it was nothing more than that.  Of course, I feel that they may get something out of taking the workshop, but they are grown ups and fully capable to discerning that for themselves.

I have read a lot of “cult” comments on the internet and people saying it was fun, but not life changing and people put off by the enthusiasm of the staff, but I too am a grown up and capable of thinking for myself and making my own decisions and my advice would be like with most things in life, you take what you need and leave what you don’t.  Like I mentioned at the beginning, there were all kinds of people there from high school students to stay at home moms, from teachers to CEOs, everyone there for there own reasons and getting only what they got from it.

I found it really interesting that a lot of the concepts were similar to ideas I have been getting from all different directions.   Lately it seems that everywhere I look, even in completely unrelated places, the same information is coming to me.   For me that means that I should be listening.

My experience was very intense and extremely rewarding.  I have a new outlook on life and a whole lot less crap to carry around with me.  All in all a good thing and I am looking forward to the advanced course in October.

Landmark Education

I have been taking an Acai supplement for about 6 months now and I will tout its benefits all over town, but let’s get one thing perfectly clear…

This is not a diet drug.  If you believe that crap about losing 40 pounds by just taking a pill then you are an idiot, just like I was.

The fact is that I too hoped that it would be some miracle and that I would magically lose all the baby weight in 2 months.  I even combined it with a colon cleanser because I heard that worked better.  No surprise here that I didn’t lose even a pound.

But a miracle like that does not exist, it just doesn’t.  Losing weight and getting fit is about changing the way you eat and exercise and it is just as simple as that.  There is no magic pill, just like everything else in life.  It is time to grow up and take responsibility for our weight, our health, our kids, our happiness, our fulfillment, our lives.  

That’s what this blog is all about and if you want to learn more about what I am doing to take control of and responsibility for my weight then check this out.

Ok, now why is Acai so great?  Acai is chocked full of antioxidants, as much as 10 to 30 times more antioxidants than red wine.  It is also rich in Omega fats, amino acids, vitamins and minerals, and fiber.  A super food so to speak.  These are all essential to our overall health and suprise, your weight loss as well.  

The benefits of all this is better sleep, better digestion, more energy, a more effective immune system and even a better libido.  From my experiences, all of this is a true and accurate representations of the benefits.

I used to have a really hard time falling asleep.  I did not have insomnia or anything like that but it would take me a good 30 minutes to calm my mind and body down enough to go to sleep.  I am not even remotely exaggerating in saying that since I started taking the Acai, I put my head down on the pillow and the next thing I know it is morning.  I fall asleep within minutes and sleep soundly and deeply all night long.   

My favorite part is the energy.  I take my Acai supplements in the afternoon with my multivitamin, because that is when I feel the lowest energy.  I then have the energy to get through the rest of the day and even go to the gym.  And at the gym, I feel stronger and better able to focus on what I am doing.  An the best part is that this is not the jittery energy you get from energy drinks or coffee.  You simply have more energy, simple as that.

So if you are looking for a magic diet pill, this isn’t it.  But, if you are looking for a great nutritional supplement that gives you immediate and long lasting noticeable results, then Acai might be just the thing for you.

I personally take and highly recommend Perfect Acai.  Perfect Acai is organic, sustainably harvested, freeze dried (essential to its effectiveness) and budget friendly.

As stay at home parents we are in a unique situation.  Our job takes place in our homes without the presence of bosses or coworkers.  Yes, we have friends and family, but really the only people who we really interact with in our jobs are our kids.  And the only outside person who really sees us in our jobs is our spouse.

This creates a lack of job performance recognition.  I have been feeling undervalued lately.  This is a rough time for us and although we are very lucky and blessed in our life, we are struggling right now.   

Although it is a lot of pressure, all the responsibility for lifting me up and making me feel valued and validated falls on my husband and this is a little much for him, I think.  Unfortunately, there is no one else to help carry this burden.  It is his to bear, and I am sorry for that.

I tried to give him an analogy to help him to understand.  I asked him to imagine that he went to work every day and no one there ever said he was doing a good job.  It would be awful for him, and I think that it helped him to see the reality of the situation.  This is our job and validation for being good at our job is just as important for us as it is for anyone else.

Unfortunately, now that I have spoken about it, we now struggle with how to provide me with the support I need without his compliments or statements sounding contrived and trite.  

The great thing is that we can have this conversation at all.  I feel very fortunate that I feel safe enough and loved enough that I can say that I need more from him.  That says a lot about the strength of our relationship.  Many don’t have this situation and live alone with all this.

There is this catch 22 about being a stay at home parent.   At least for me, i feel guilty if I complain at all.  I made this choice and I am very grateful for it, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have hard days, days that I wish I could crawl into bed and not get out till next week.  When you have a job outside the home, you come home and discuss the things that are going well and the things that are hard at work.  But when I do, i feel guilty.  I feel guilty for not enjoying every moment with my children, guilty for complaining about a choice that has been a huge sacrifice for our family, guilty for wanting more for myself.  And in response I usually get the suggestion that I go back to work.

I don’t need to go back to work, I need two days by a pool with a foofy umbrella drink or ten.

It is impossible for those not staying home to fully understand the joys and trials that we face every day. There are moments of pure bliss and moments when you feel like you have completely lost all value and substance.  It is equally impossible for us to fully understand the stresses that working moms face trying to be and do it all and not feel like they are doing any of it very well.

The hard fact is that being a parent is hard.  It just is.

We need to support one another, husband and wife, parent and child, friend and friend.  We need to be compassionate and lift each other up and be there for each other, even if we aren’t all the same or make the same choices or parent the same way.  

Hugs and kisses and flowers and all that crap.

I took on the responsibilities and consequences of adulthood very early. I thought for a while that this made me grown up. But in reality am I still just a whiny spoiled child?

They talk about the entitlement issues with today’s youth and I see all the problems this causes and try very hard with my own children to instill a sense of responsibility and understanding of where things come from and working hard for the things that we have. I also want them to know that working hard is rewarding in and of itself. I feel that we model this the best we can to them and that this will become more and more important as they grow up.

But I can also relate to that entitlement. Not in that I shouldn’t have to work hard for it, but shouldn’t I be able to follow my dreams too? Must I sacrifice everything? Is there a middle ground?

I think that finding that middle ground is what being a grown up is about. Finding a place where I know myself well, do something I love and still have the energy and commitment to provide a healthy and happy upbringing for my children. This is my quest.

But will I ever be satisfied? Is satisfaction the goal? Oh, I don’t know.