What I Know For Sure

1. My favorite six words: “How are you? Are you OK?”
2. Ninety-nine percent of people and businesses never follow through, leaving behind a trail of thoughtlessness, emptiness, and broken promises.
3. Patience has never been my strong suit, until now.
4. A loving demeanor and a heart of gratitude open doors.
5. Kindness and politeness still matter.
6. We sure could use more empathy in our troubled world.
7. No means there is something better waiting.
8. Love yourself and never settle.
9. Let go of what you cannot control and trust that the Universe will take care of you.
10. I know what and whom I can live without.
11. I know who my real friends are.
12. Nothing is forever.
13. Change is guaranteed.
14. Social media is cool, but real life is where the magic happens. A like is never a substitute for substance. Get offline and live.
15. Call or visit. No text, message, or email compares to a voice, a smile, a hug.
16. Working out is an awesome stress reliever, much better than booze and food.
17. I cannot wait until it is warm again. I am cold all of the time.
18. The only person I can count on is myself.
19. I am tougher, more confident, more resilient, and more assertive than I have ever been. Don’t f— with me.
20. I am independent, intelligent, fierce, persistent, and strong. I am Elizabeth Smith, here me roar.
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I am strong. I trust my foundation.

I have a chiropractor who believes in the mind-body connection like I do. Every visit she adjusts me based on zones, which have both physical and emotional components attached to them. I have finally reached the maintenance level of chiropractic care, but every now and then I have what I call a relapse. Today was one of those days and I knew it before I arrived for my appointment. Throughout the day, my physical discomfort increased relative to the emotional pain I was experiencing. I tend to repress my feelings, which affects me physically. I required a complete adjustment tonight.

After my adjustments, my chiropractor always provides me with an affirmation for my 15-minute rest period. Tonight’s was:

I am strong.
I trust my foundation.

I repeated my affirmation and thought about what it meant for me.

I know I am strong. I know I am a survivor. However, what is my foundation? What are my core beliefs and values?

When I think of myself, these descriptors come to mind:

Funny
Friendly
Giving

Honest
Kind
Loyal

Nice
Risk Taker

Sensitive
Smart
Strong
Survivor
Trusting

In spite of everything that has happened to me, sometimes I am still guilty of doubting my own strength. I allow things to shake me to my core, to my foundation, if you will. I analyze and question myself. After repeating this affirmation, I realized there is nothing wrong with me. I am still strong. My foundation is solid if I just believe and trust in myself. I can only be shaken if I allow myself to be shaken. I will only crumble if I allow myself to crumble. It’s all about my choices and my reactions to the world around me.

My revised affirmation:

Choose myself.
Choose strength. 
Choose to let go.
Choose to grow.

Love,
Beth

My Thoughts After Nine Months in Napa

Napa Valley Sign by Bob McClenhahan http://www.bobmcclenahan.com/

Napa Valley Sign by Bob McClenahan http://www.bobmcclenahan.com/

Sometimes I can’t believe I live in Napa, yet it’s been nine months since I moved. It often feels like an out-of-body experience or a dream as I am commuting to and from work via Silverado Trail, which has to be one of the most gorgeous commutes in this country. Napa Valley is amazing and I know my heart is here to stay in wine country, but I still feel like I am in limbo when it comes to my career and relationships.

Here’s what I’ve learned in the past nine months:

1. Leaving what was comfortable was and still is difficult, even if it wasn’t good or even healthy for me. No matter how beautiful a place I am in or how lucky I appear to be, I am reminded daily, especially thanks to social media, how hard it is to leave the other life behind. I had to create a whole new life for myself and it hasn’t been easy adjusting to a new schedule, career, and work environment. All are very stressful, even if they are for the best in the long run.

2. I lost my social and support network in Virginia and North Carolina and it still hasn’t been replaced. Again, social media is awesome for superficial, virtual connections, but it still drops the ball when it comes to real-life relationships. Some of the people in Napa and Sonoma I knew through social media before I moved are still just social media connections, not real-life friends, like I hoped we would be.

3. Teaching is the hardest profession, this I know for sure. Towards the end of my teaching career, I had already made up my mind that I was going stop teaching after spring semester 2014, but the universe had plans for me to exit unexpectedly in late 2012. In my former life, I often worked 16 or more hours per day, in the office and at home. Now I work more like 8-9 hours per day during the work week and a couple of hours per day on weekends as needed, by choice. I am happy the teaching part of my journey is over, although I would not mind teaching informally about topics like wine, travel, and the lessons I’ve learned from my life journey. I’d love to be someone’s mentor.

4. No matter where I live, I believe I am destined to be a loner. I try to forge relationships both near and far, but they don’t seem to work out. I’m surprised that my last romantic relationship lasted over 15 years, but then again, we were only together twice, three, or four times per month, so maybe that explains why we lasted so long. I’ve never said this in public until now, but the last couple of years of that romantic relationship, I used to wake up at his apartment on weekends and think, “Is this all there is?” I think that was a big sign I chose to ignore until he kicked me to the curb. I deserve more in all of my relationships. I will NOT be an afterthought. I want people to think of me first or not think of me at all.

5. If I ever find myself connected to someone in a similar situation as me, feeling like they are alone in the world trying to survive and move forward, I promise that I will reach out and include them. It surprises me that we as a society are so oblivious and wrapped up in ourselves that we completely ignore the signs of someone who is reaching out for the human connection, for support, and for a genuine relationship. If you know anyone that is single and/or lives alone, please INCLUDE them. At least invite them to your gatherings, for God’s sake, and let them decide whether or not they wish to attend. It’s not easy being alone anywhere, regardless of a locale’s beauty and opportunity.

We are NOT too busy to be welcoming, kind, and inclusive to others. We are here to love ourselves and each other. Be love. Share love.

Love,
Beth

My beef with social media, aka the power and the pain of the written word, emoticons, and the thumbs-up symbol

Anyone know who William Faulkner was? If so, this blog post is for you. He was my favorite writer in high school and I wanted so much to be able to master stream of consciousness writing.

First, I must call bullshit on that saying, Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me (exact words may vary). While I understand that I can choose to ignore words, I am human after all, and a (budding) writer, and words, especially the written word, stick with me. Words are powerful. That’s why we read and write, yes? I remember what I see and read, because I am very visual. I was one of those kids who read by dim light late into the night, until my mom would come in and tell me I was going to go blind if I kept doing it. (I did end up having to wear glasses starting at age 12). If I were to rewrite this saying, it would say, Sticks and stones may break my bones. Those will heal. However, words break my heart and my heart doesn’t forget.

Which leads me to social media. Yes, I know the beauty of it: connecting and reconnecting with people, businesses, interests, etc. That’s it in a nutshell for me. That being said, most of the communication via social media is by writing, whether it be status updates, comments on a status, tweets, emoticons, etc., and since social media is public, we tend to put out an image of ourselves that isn’t accurate. We often write (aka say) things to each other that we probably would not if we were standing face to face or talking on the phone, because there is this shield of distance implied in a virtual conversation or interaction.

This bugs the hell out of me. I’m so damn open that I just lay my life and feelings out there like a freaking store display, but I rarely have a reciprocal experience. Yet, I continue to put myself out there being Miss Nice, Miss Survivor, Miss Wine, Miss Travel anyway. Then I get to be judged by and compared to a jury of my peers (aka “friends”) with a thumbs-up, not a thumbs-up (What, don’t you like what I wrote?), a retweet (or not), a favorite (or not), and a slew of replies and/or comments that range from relevant, empathetic, sympathetic, kind, cool, to totally irrelevant, rude, mean, WTF, etc. Seriously, don’t the spiritual and inspirational people of today tell us that we should only focus on ourselves, not compete with each other, and not compare ourselves with each other? But there we are out there passing some sort of judgment every, single day by our words, thumbs-up, emoticons, and even silence and inaction.

This is what I’ve been struggling with for a while now. I miss interacting with people in real life and on the phone, where often a facial expression or a voice inflection will prevent a misunderstanding that is often missed in the written, virtual world. Sometimes I just want to say, Pick up the damn phone and call me! I want to connect with a human heart through the spoken word. I want to hear words and feel meaning and emotion while looking at someone’s face and into their eyes.

Words matter. Choose carefully. There are no do-overs.

Love,
Beth

This week’s life lessons

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

Simply A Rose

This week gave me many opportunities to think about what I say, what I do, and the decisions I make. Let me be very clear that I hate conflict. I think that preventing conflict from happening at all is the key to a happier, easier life. I avoid it like the plague to the point that I sometimes allow myself to become submissive to other people’s demands. Which leads me to this: NO MORE TRYING TOO HARD TO DO EVERYTHING FOR EVERYONE ALL OF THE TIME. Living life with something or someone else as the primary focus keeps your eye off the real prize, which is yourself, your life, and your happiness. You matter first. You are the only one that you can change. Look within. Choose to focus on you. Make yourself and your life better. Most importantly, allow others to do the same. Our happier selves lead to happier everyone.

In letting go of trying to be and do for everyone else, you realize YOU DON’T NEED ANYONE ELSE TO BE HAPPY. I struggle with this all the time. Do I want to be single, dating, or in a relationship? However, the bottom line is that I can do this alone, even if it sucks sometimes. I’m strong. I’m a survivor. I’ve earned my new life and I have the scars to prove it. I need to celebrate me. You need to celebrate you.

If there is anything that you should take from this post, it is: KEEP IT SIMPLE. Or in other words, LESS IS MORE. We all know this. Simplicity leaves time for more of what’s good in life. Saying less often leaves less room for error. If you have a choice, don’t say whatever it is you were going to say, especially if it’s negative. You can always say it later if it really matters, but most of the time, it doesn’t. Simplicity also keeps us from taking on and doing too much. Excess is often the root cause of any problem, whether is be thoughts, words, or actions. Life should be about QUALITY, NOT QUANTITY. Scale back, slow down, relax, breathe, savor life’s simple pleasures.

Love,
Beth

 

Here’s What I Know Tonight

Cheers to me!

Cheers to me!

1. I love me. Me first, then the world benefits. Always.

2. I will not be second anything.

3. I matter.

4. I am worthy of love and respect.

5. I will not be denied.

6. I can only depend on myself.

7. I do not need anyone or anything.

8. I am stronger than the world may think I am.

9. I am sensitive and that’s OK.

10. I always have a choice.