5 Ways to Live Your Best Life
It may have taken me quite some time to get to the place I am at now, and if there’s one thing I can promise, you will always learn & grow. Don’t ever think you’ve got it ALL figured out, there is always more. More to learn, more to do, more to become!
However, there are certain lessons I’ve learned along the way, and I’d love to share those with you! I hope they will fit in some way & help you through any struggles you may be facing, or help you process your thoughts on any decisions you may need to make regarding your well-being.
Here are the 5 best ways I’ve found to live my best life!
Don't compromise your values! Ever!
I am truly blessed to have a wise, caring friend who tells me what I need to hear & not what I want to! One of the very first things he told me as I entered into a new relationship after my divorce, was to never compromise the things I value. Though I value his input, I didn’t listen to it, at the time. So, I forged my way into a very unhealthy relationship with a toxic partner. Truth be told, that turned me into a toxic person; who I call the “crazy girl.” I did things I thought I would never do in my life! I lived in such a deep sense of defense that I couldn’t even rationalize my decisions or actions. From a mental state, I was not in a very good place, y’all!
We all value different things. Here is my shortlist. Yours may look quite different, but your values are what make you who you are. I hope you can learn from my mistake & not make it yourself, or that this at least helps you identify if you are compromising your values in a relationship.
Emotional intimacy – I need this in order to feel connected to my partner! I need to know that my partner is willing to share their emotions & thoughts, their history & their plans for the future. I don’t need to know every detail of what goes on inside their head & heart. Heck, I can barely keep up with my own! But, I do need to know that in quiet, intimate moments, my partner is willing to open up to me. If your partner isn’t emotionally intimate with you, it may look something like this: you ask a question, they avoid answering it; they ignore or totally disengage in a conversation that you drive; they show no interest in what you have to say; they ignore you all together, perhaps dishing out their silent treatment (aka – the even more silent treatment, I used to call it – I can now laugh about that!) The most important lesson – if they aren’t emotionally available going into the relationship – YOU CAN’T FIX THAT! YOU CAN’T CHANGE THAT! YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO COMPROMISE YOUR VALUES! Move along & you will find a partner that will open up to you like a beautiful rose opens up to the sunshine!
Trust – I think there is nothing more important than being able to trust your partner! If you can’t trust your partner, run as fast as you can…don’t turn back, don’t go back! Period! NO MATTER HOW MANY TEARS THEY MUSTER UP & HAVE ROLL DOWN THEIR CHEEKS! DON’T TURN BACK! The inability to trust your partner will cause you to do “crazy girl” things! Trust me, I know! Been there, done that! My first “red flag” moment occurred just 2 months into my toxic relationship – 2 months & I stayed for like 5 years! HELLO!!! TRUST YOUR GUT!!!!! There is no single, better way to say it, YOU KNOW! You know when something is not right! Do not fight that feeling! Do not try to “fix” it! It is not yours to fix! I can honestly say, that ignoring that red flag is one of my greatest regrets in life! But, I can also say, there are trustworthy partners out there! Don’t let an experience with a toxic person make you believe that trust does not exist. BIGGEST LESSON: first learn to trust yourself!! This is very important! If you can’t trust yourself, you will continue to make decisions to allow more toxic people into your life! Learning to trust yourself allows you to identify & accept the red flags that life throws at you. Trust yourself & you will find the security in learning to identify others you can trust.
Interests – Maintain your own interests! I had my life sucked away from me; the things I enjoyed doing & that made me happy & proud of who I was. I used to enjoy crafting & scrapbooking – who had time for that when I managed to find myself “assisting” in the garage over the weekend. Kickboxing – my Saturday morning joy! The sabotage that would occur to get me to be soooo late to class, or miss it altogether…and I thought he just wanted to be intimate…silly me! No, just manipulative! Over time, I stopped going to class & had a lovely craft room set up in his office, but never used the space. A shame, really! What do you enjoy doing? If you don’t know (like many women I know), that’s okay. Start by making a list of things you’d like to try. This can be really simple, like cooking a new dish, trying a new activity, reading a new book. What’s most important is that you start to discover yourself! You’ve got to reclaim your identity. Be you & the right people will gravitate into your life! You are probably going to uncover a whole “new” you & that is so awesome! Or, you may revert back to the things you loved in your youth. This is what happened to me & I LOVE this new me! Just don’t lose that little girl who resides inside of you! Keep her free! Don’t ever let her feel caged up!
Relationships – maybe I should have reordered these, because I think second to valuing trust is valuing the relationships I have with “my people.” Your crew or tribe, so to speak. Your people can be made up of people from different facets of your life – family, friends, church, work, etc. Make sure that you tie trust to these relationships. Are your people trustworthy? Without trust, you can’t love or respect someone & it just allows toxicity to seep into the relationship, or diminishes the emotional intimacy you can pour into it. Be sure you are setting healthy boundaries for yourself. Be careful to not allow yourself to become isolated from your people! This happens far too often. Whatever you do, keep in touch with those you trust the most! Allowing yourself to become isolated gives a toxic person more control over you than you can ever imagine! Keep your people close!
Imagine this! I got married to my second husband, and I didn’t tell my family for months! That’s not who I was, but I allowed him to talk me into the “we don’t have to do what everybody else does,” and so, there was the “great secret” and guess what, there were no wedding rings either…can’t let the secret of the decade out! Guys, he didn’t even want me telling our mutual group of friends we had gotten married. And if that wasn’t enough, his family wasn’t even aware of my existence! Trust me – allowing someone to have a hold over you happens – even when it smacks you dead in the face! Somehow I stayed & I plowed through every next step like there was no tomorrow. Lesson to learn from: hold tight to your people!!! They will bring far greater joy to your life than a toxic relationship ever will!
Health – Are you taking care of every aspect of your health? Are you getting up and moving? Taking time outs from time to time to recharge your emotional/mental being? I can honestly say, though I’m in the best shape of my life from an emotional/mental aspect, I have some work to do physically. While I was in my kickboxing class, I learned to eat clean & went to class 3 times a week, without missing for 2 solid years! I loved the group I worked out with & miss them so much! I dropped approximately 40 pounds consistently over the 3.5 years I was in class, but most important, I was the most fit I’d ever been in my adult life & I was so proud of my accomplishment! Find your thing! To be honest, I just wanted to punch something. I had pent up pain from the loss of my brother & I just wanted to hit something! But, then I discovered that I loved the activity & the people & that was my thing! Find your thing so you can stick to it! What do you enjoy? Get out there & do it! Maybe your partner will join you or find some friends that enjoy the same thing & make it a “party!” I want to be a fit grammy (GiGi)! If my kids would ever appease me on this one! Ha!
What do you do to recharge mentally or emotionally? Do you enjoy reading, journaling? Do you enjoy catching up with your girlfriends, spending time alone? Whatever that looks like for you, be sure to take care of yourself! You are #1! Yes, I said #1! Women struggle so deeply with this! Being #1 is not selfish, it just means that you are healthy & therefore, can give of yourself more beneficially to others! A much better you, makes a much better partner, mom, friend, sibling, etc!
Invest your time wisely - with people
Can you talk to your partner & friends without reservation? Do you trust them to support your well-being in every way? These are the kind of people/relationship you want to invest your time & energy in. Be sure there is mutual impact. Are you always the one putting in the effort to keep in touch? If so, that person may not be that into you! Invest your time & energy elsewhere. Friends, time is finite! It is a gift, a true privilege. Don’t take it for granted! Are you surrounded by people who lift you up? Have you set healthy boundaries with people you have relationships with? Are there people you need to let go of?
(My most important people below! I love my kids! No matter how grown they get, I will always support them the best that I can! –Proud Momma!)
Make time for life adventures!
Create your “live a little” list! When was the last time you did something for the first time? Be on purpose! Create YOUR list! Don’t be afraid to knock things off your list alone, if need be, and share it with a friend or loved one that can help you accomplish some of your adventures. Every list will be unique, but you have got to fit adventure into your life! I feel like I’ve lived more in the past 2 years of my life than I have in my adult life. And, it’s not that I’m doing grandiose activities – though New Zealand (below: hike into Franz Josef Glacier) was awesome!! I just have this super supportive partner!! We’ve kissed in the rain – yes, putting something as simple as that was on my list! I bought a house, I went on my first cruise, I whale watched & got my first tattoo! Amazing grace, it reads…so, let’s talk about that, next.
Serve yourself some grace & embrace your imperfections!
Women are notorious for being hard on themselves…I don’t know if that’s due to our heightened emotional awareness, or what the reason is, but ladies, we need to cut ourselves some slack! It breaks my heart to hear a woman say, “I was so stupid!” No, you weren’t! You may have been too caring, or far too forgiving, but that’s not stupid!
Okay, I had to do it, because I’m all about proving my point! So, I looked up the definition of stupid. Here is what I found. Now let’s have some fun & let’s make some sense of our self-observation. And, btw, I didn’t find a picture of myself, or any of the dear women who have said the words “I was so stupid,” next to the definition in the dictionary.
Stupid: adjective This is a true statement. It is an adjective!
1a: slow of mind: (Why? Why would you be slow of mind? Possibly because while you were so busy taking care of everyone else, you slowly lost your mind! Okay, maybe there’s an argument here. Simply put, DON’T LOSE YOUR MIND! True story, it wasn’t until the very end of my toxic relationship that I realized just how much that person had taken over my mind. Literally, there was very little space left inside my head for me & my priorities. One day, an image played in my head…my fist hammering down on a jelly donut with all the jelly oozing out. In my relationship, that toxic person was the jelly & I allowed them to take up full residency inside my head. Up unto that moment, of course! Honey, I’m home! I knew I just couldn’t allow it any longer. So, I didn’t. I started to take back my space & giving it to those that deserved it. Turns out that didn’t go over so well with the partner. But, I’m okay with that! I got my mind back! I wasn’t stupid; I was far too manipulated & far too willing to allow another person’s values to trump my own.)
Go ahead…just for fun! Imagine yourself squishing that jelly out! It was the most relieving image my brain felt in a handful of years! I never would have imagined a donut would save my sanity! Ha!
b: given to unintelligent decisions or acts: acting in an unintelligent or careless manner (Unintelligent decisions, yes I made! I made them like it was my full-time job. Funny thing is, those unintelligent decisions were only centered around that toxic relationship, so does that make me stupid?! NOPE! Did that mean I acted in a careless manner? NOPE! Again, far too manipulated! I cared more about that person, than I did my own self. I’m still a caring person, but I care about taking care of my own priorities & values first! And, I’m a whole lot more careful about who I share my care with!)
c: lacking intelligence or reason: (Okay, so you’ll love this! I was so smart! And, oh boy, did I have reason…all drummed up inside the jelly! I created my own stories about this person so that I could figure out how to “fix” them. I didn’t lack reason; I had all the reason in the world! “He must have been really hurt in the past.” “He must have had a bad childhood.” And so, I didn’t want to be that girl; you know the next one to break his precious, little heart. So, instead, I broke my own for the duration. Girl, you can’t fix a broken person! Let that little known fact be the reason you take care of yourself. Your reason for being in a toxic relationship does not make you stupid. You were just being you, the empathetic one, and they took advantage of that, because some people just don’t have the ability to be that way. You don’t lack reason, you are just focusing on the wrong ones!)
2: dulled in feeling or sensation: (I don’t have to go into detail on this one. Just imagine my brain on jelly donut! Over time, you become numb to the manipulative behavior & you stop trying to think for yourself. It happens even to the smartest of beings. Trust me, in relationships, emotions usually run deeper than logic, especially for women. Don’t let your own sensations be dulled. Listen to your feelings! They know, girl, they know!)
3: marked by or resulting from unreasoned thinking or acting: (There was a whole lot of unreasoned thinking due to manipulation. Be aware of the dangling carrots your manipulative partner will put in front of you. Stand firm to your values! That will help guide you! I used to called my situation, “Hopesville”…”I hope he acknowledges me one day to his friends, his co-workers, his family.” I lived in Hopesville, because he would say things like “sometime soon.” If they’re not proud to be with you or be “all in,” is there a reason you are? Actions speak louder than any words ever will! Staying because you cling to hope, does that make you stupid? NOPE! Far too trusting & hopeful! Far too empathetic, maybe, but not stupid! Be “all in” to you & your priorities! When you’re in the right relationship, you won’t have to feel all hopeful; what you need, will be there!)
4a: lacking interest or point: (Oh, the interest was there, as was the point. The point was to “fix” the person, and so therein lied the interest. Enough said.)
b: VEXATIOUS, EXASPERATING: (Ok, yes, I have to end with this. I wasn’t stupid. The relationship was stupid! It was definitely the epitome of exasperating! If you find that you have to work that hard, for that long, at a relationship; the relationship is stupid…you deserve better…move along!) (From <https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stupid>)
Speak kindly to yourself! Your gut is learning to trust what you say! How about this instead, “Well, weren’t you a bit too empathetic? We’ll just reserve that for a situation, or a person, that deserves it.” Not everyone deserves your care or empathy. You can be kind, but not give away too much of yourself!
Build your community!
- Get yourself some girlfriends!!! You gotta get out, girl! If you have wee ones & the best you can do is a playdate, then set it up. Mommy time is just essential for you as it is for the wee ones! If it’s Thirsty Thursdays with the big girls, set it up! If this is the course you take, be safe. Watch out for one another if you are partaking in alcoholic beverages! Whatever it is, get out there! Don’t have friends? Make some! Where you say?! I’m glad you asked!
- Sign up for Meetup. You can join local events, meeting people who share similar interests.
- Explore new places in your general location.
- Invite some co-workers to grab lunch together. You may be surprised that you can blossom a friendship with your co-workers.
- Look up & participate in local events to suit your interests. Get out & do things you love. I’m about to take a mud bath at a local outdoorsy place! Getting down & dirty with my partner! And, at the same time, we get to support a wonderful charity.
- Not feeling up to participating in a charity event? What about volunteering at one? This is a great way to meet people who share similar passions.
- If your into sports or enjoy activity-based clubs, join them. Ask the group if they’d like to meet up after an event to further get to know them.
- Talk to your neighbors & strike up conversations, in general (my teenagers are mortified when I do this! Ha!).
- Got a paw-pal? Take them out for a walk, or to a local dog park. You’re sure to make a new friend & they will, too.)
- Join a gym or workout facility.
- Church – strike up conversations with those that sit around you, or join a group that suits your needs.
- Love live music? Look up & attend local venues.
- Take a class. You’ll further your education & you never know who you might meet.
I hope in some way you found you were able to relate to some of my experiences & can apply some of what I’ve learned along the way. Life is a journey. We weren’t meant to walk it alone! Find the ways to create & live your best life! You owe yourself that! You are worth it!