Life must go on…right?


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Recently I started working for a company of Virtual Assistants, located in the United States, who support small businesses that exist online.  We do a lot of online marketing, sales, blogging, email sequencing with the use of applications I am really learning on the fly.  I am now spending a lot of time communicating with my new team, of all women, who are each experiencing the peaks and valleys of life. Peaks and Valleys

I like how that sounds…peaks and valleys of life.  A peak would be a high point…maybe how a woman feels just after she marries the man she believes to be the man of her dreams or just after she gives birth to a child.  My peaks were maybe how I felt when I graduated from Grad School or when I reached 99 minutes underwater on only one tank of air or when I landed the jobs I have now that I hope will help fund my future.

But my new colleagues are also experiencing the valleys of life…or the low points.  One of them returning from court after attending her first appearance in divorce court while another one, who has a grown son, was just told that he has an inoperable brain tumor.  I mean, how can you possibly complain about a broken nail or split ends after hearing that news about someone else.  You quickly go back to remembering how great it felt when you woke up that morning and filled your lungs with air and how nothing else has the right to ruin your day.

I have not heard such traumatizing tales as the ones I’ve heard from these women in the last few weeks…but then again, maybe I am just blind to the peaks and valleys where I’ve existed in the last 6 years.  The first 3 years I literally spent on the beach in Cozumel where I went diving everyday or bartended in a place where everyone was on vacation.  I then spent the next few years teaching with colleagues just out of college…not too many divorces or sick children in that bunch.

Now I guess I’m conversing with people, everyday people, who don’t exist only on the highs of life but also suffer the lows.  It’s now up to me to be compassionate and fair to each of them as well.  Provide an ear to listen to them when they need a friend or a shoulder to cry on when they suffer such devastating news as only life can deliver…because we all remember that Life is not fair!.  As I continue to just be grateful for my health and my ability to sustain my life and my happiness.  And while I am grateful to not necessarily be going through a valley in life, I must remember that with every peak, there is also a valley.  It is no one’s fault.  It is just how life is.  Our job is to be able to handle ourselves through both the peaks and valleys of life because each day, you never what your future holds or how your day will play out.  All you can do is be prepared for everything…good or bad…because life must go on.

Road Less Traveled vs. Comfort Zone


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On Saturday I went hiking.  I have always been a big hiker…ever since I was a kid.  Anytime I hear about a hike about to happen, I make sure I’m invited!  Why?  Because as much of a city girl a14520316_10154564179609049_5635474682581688573_ns I am, I just love embracing our great outdoors.  As a child, while on vacation in Vermont or Maine, as a family, we would always go hiking. Then as an adult, while living in New York City, I would take Metro-North up to Cold Springs or Bear Mountain and spend an entire day hiking with work colleagues and friends from Grad School.  Now, while living in Central Mexico, where I am surrounded by 3 active volcanoes, I explore various parks that exist nestled between them where you can literally witness some amazing vistas.

What I found, though, while hiking, was how similar to real life a hike can actually be.  How when we agree to take the ‘road less traveled,’ we discover things about ourselves, things we would be willing to forego in order to achieve something. 14568139_10154564180144049_1938757262039498893_n Yesterday I took a hike in a place where I had never been before and there were some paths that may have seemed impossible to pass for some people (the inclination was intense, the length of each pass was long and I was frequently out of breath…but at the top, these passes lead me to some of the most amazing views I could have imagined.  A view that I would never have been able to see had I given up at the bottom…taken a seat and said, “My group can fetch me on their way back down.”  How much fun would that NOT have been!

In life we overcome obstacles, some placed there by chance while others we expect.  Like when we choose to attend a University that will challenge us mentally, academically as well as emotionally.  (I always used to think, if I had made it into Harvard, what could I possibly had to talk about with my classmates?!?!)  But in addition to that, how about what we choose to do with our lives, professionally.  We all “major” in something in College.  How many of you actually did anything with that degree?  My degree was in Psychology and I never hung my shingle out begging people to come and tell me about their problems and concerns about life!  But I can tell you that I did learn a certain level of understanding for the differences that exist within each of us, based on our perspectives and experiences.

I would not describe myself as being a daring individual, I would describe myself as existing within my comfort zone, pretty boring.  But that’s my opinion.  To an outsider, they may view me differently.  About 6 years ago, I moved to Cozumel where I am able to dive 12 months out of the year.  And I didn’t just become a recreational diver, but rather I went ahead and became a Tech Diver…which allows me to dive to 250 feet.  (Anyone who knows diving, can appreciate the idea of being ‘narked’ everyday!  It was pretty incredible!)  Kind of like tripping on ecstasy…kind of like how you must feel when you jump out of a plane…not knowing in which direction is up or why there are diamonds floating around you and no one else seems to want to catch them.  It’s pretty exhilarating…and the experience was worth anything I had to sacrifice in order for me to have it.  (Even the notion that it could lead me to my grave.)

But even after that part of my life ended and I moved to Central Mexico, I guess I really didn’t have much of an idea about what I was in for…so I guess this was the ‘road less traveled‘ since I didn’t know what it was.  Yes, I had a job lined up for myself to begin once we arrived, but I had no idea what the people around me would be like or how I might be commuting to work each day, what I might be eating or even what types of friends I make be making.  Most say that must mean that I was super brave to take that ‘road less traveled,’ while I may describe myself as being irresponsible or stupid for always believing that things always did, or will, work out.  Though somehow they always do…I have made some unbelievably, incredible friends who I will never turn my back on or run away from in order to return to the States.

I recently published a blog in which I talked about looking beyond imperfections in order to always find happiness.  I am now 40 years old and my standards for life, I’m sure, have changed.  But I could not be happier because I am in charge of my future.  What’s the expression?  “Master of my Fate and Captain of my Soul.”  I’ve always been a big advocate of that!  If someone is not happy…or bored…or just “playing it safe” in their comfort zone, then when they complain that they are unsatisfied with life, I don’t have much patience for it.  Because if you want an exciting life that’s worth living, and sharing with someone else, then get up and go find it!  Take the ‘road less traveled‘ because you have nothing to lose.  Take the risks and chances in life that might result in an amazing experience…view…friend!  When I left my career and apartment and crazy, jet-setting life in NYC 6 years ago, so many people asked me, “What if it doesn’t work out?”  (“It” being diving in Cozumel while bartending to pay my bills.)

14494811_10154564180304049_2275144047963313583_n.jpgMy answer was simply, then I can just come back to the life I have now (using my MBA to manage law firms of NYC while earning a 6 figure income…blah, blah, blah).  But I don’t want to be the person who will ever say, “I wish I had tried that…or done that…or tasted that.”  I want to be the person who did all those things and survived them and now have them to talk about and share them with others who may be afraid to take that leap of faith.  I will never stay home out of fear of the unknown.  I am the person who has nothing to lose except the possibility of ever saying…I wish I had tried that or gone there…or done that.  The worst that could happen is that I spend a sunny day walking up a mountain with some great people, along a river and end up at the top where we see nothing worth talking about later.  What are the chances of that happening?

How would you define SUCCESS?


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What does Success mean to you? Is it a place you want to get to or a goal you must achieve or an obstacle that must be overcome?  And how do you get there?  Have you thought of these things yet?  Because in order to succeed in something, we first must know what it is we mean to achieve.  Goals must be set and plans must be considered.  Isn’t that how we were raised to think?  To always have a plan or an idea about our future!  Well what if something goes wrong?  How do we prepare for the rainy days in life?  Do they teach a class on that?  And what if we do achieve a goal, then what?  Do we die or just realize that the goal we had previously set was really just a part of a larger goal we still need to achieve?  I do hope that life is a cycle of continuous goals and ideas that just keep growing and establishing themselves as we progress through life and that it is really based on the journey we take to get there.

I was approached about 8 years ago by a author who asked me how I defined success.  (He claimed he was going to quote me in his book, though I still haven’t seen 14444599_10154537270034049_5581814555941088003_oit.)  Anyway, I laughed when I said that to me, success was defined as my being able to live my life on my terms, according to my rules and how I wanted to live it.  My father always used to tell me how I always had to do things “My Way,” (kinda like Frank Sinatra).  I always understood where I needed to go in life, I was just never good about drawing a straight line between A and Z…or even A and B, for that matter!  I always got there, I just got there following a different set of rules than everyone else.  I followed a different path and I never thought about whether or not the path I chose was the easier one or whether the path before me was even chosen or laid out for me.  Life was always too short to feel sorry for myself or to compare my life with those of others to consider fairness.  I definitely learned at a young age that life is not fair and that I needed to get used to that.  (Thank you, Uncle Charlie!)

But what types of goals did that mean I set while planning?  Did I plan?  Sure, I guess I did…or at least I tried to.  But you know what they say, “you either plan the dive or dive the plan.”  For all of you who are not divers, what that means is that if you plan something and things just don’t work out the way you had planned them, then you still have to live your life, right?  Put one foot in front of the other and keep going.  So you roll with the punches and hope that everything turns out for the best.

A lot of things happened in my life which were not part of my “plan.”  But I just went with it because a few of those things were not given to me by choice but they certainly changed me as a person.  (I still remember the feeling of the rug being pulled out from under me when my mother died…like I was running backwards on a treadmill that wouldn’t stop.)  The only thing that eventually made sense to me, at that time, was diving.  So I moved some place where I could dive all year round.  Was that planned?  I guess…was it a lifetime goal?  Absolutely  not.  It was a goal for that moment and I had not planned for what came next.

I’ve never been good about setting those goals as I progressed through my 20’s…then my 30’s…and now my 40’s…I just keep allowing life to happen to me and I try to take advantage of every opportunity that falls into my life…whether it be financial, personal, social…a new job prospect, a new living arrangement, new friends as well as always looking to explore and discover new places I’ve never seen before, where I can eat food I’ve never tasted before.

So to me, success has nothing to do with money.  I want to say I used to think in terms of dollars…I remember having a saying, something like, “It’s all about the Benjamins.”  (Or was that Biggie Smalls?  Ha, ha, ha!)  Success is my being able to do all of the things I want to do, to call my own shots…have eggs for dinner when I want them…and not have to get anyone’s permission or approval for how I do it!  I want to write my own rule book to eventually get me to where everyone else is headed…the grave, except I want to be happy while getting there.  I understand that this requires me to be financially independent and capable of looking outside the box to consider my skills when approaching a new economy.  I mean, that is why my mother insisted that I get my Master’s Degree, right?  So that I could use it to be exactly that…my own boss in life who lives her life…her way!  And that is what makes me happy!

Being happy…


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14291797_10153796321517371_2679219663955873238_nEveryone wants to be happy.  Some people actively look for happiness or blame others when they don’t seem to find it.  But where is it?  Is it that perfect car or perfect house you’ve always wanted?  Will that make you happy or your life perfect?  Or will you just bring your miserable self with you in which case you will just be an unhappy driver while driving a perfect car?

I have always been a happy person or at least a super positive person.  I never run out of goals.  Part of my happiness, maybe, is fulfilling those small menial everyday goals in life.  (Ex. “Today I will finish the laundry!” or “This month I will pay off that credit card bill!”) Though some may set larger, more inanimate goals.  (Ex. “This year, I will find myself a good husband/wife.”)  But are you sure that will make you happy?  What happens if you meet someone who is super needy and incapable of making themself happy, then what?  You will spend all your time self-doubting yourself and never really being able to find happiness anywhere because your life will be filled with their inability to be satisfied with their own life.  You may be better off alone.

Now let’s talk about being alone…do we all recognize the difference between feeling alone and feeling lonely?  As a teacher, I used to explain to my students that feeling alone is something you feel when you are by yourself with no one else home.  But feeling lonely is an emotion that you can feel even when there are 10 people with you.  You feel isolated emotionally, as though no one can understand  you or your plight in life enough to be able to emotionally support you.  That’s loneliness with a capital “L.”  But what if you don’t let anyone in?  What if you are incapable of sharing with the people around you, the things that make you tick?  The things that excite you or stress you or make you happy/sad?  You are incapable of “sharing” those minor details with other people.  Well, if you are feeling lonely or isolated after having shut everyone out, then, I’m sorry, but then you cannot blame anyone else but yourself for feeling lonely.  Consider opening up…good and bad.  It’s only fair.

Life is a two way street.  In order to have friends or significant others, you have to give in to certain things.  I remember I had a friend once who explained how much he hated camping.  But he started dating someone who was a camping freak…so you know what, he started going camping to make his girlfriend happy.  And do you know what, he actually discovered that he loved camping!  It ended up making him happy.  When in a relationship, frequently we are faced with doing things that we are not accustomed to, and even after having done them with our significant other, we still may not see the attraction…but isn’t it nice to see your significant other happy?  Isn’t that enough of a reason to do something…even if it is a dreaded camping trip where you spend all night with wet feet and wake up with 20 mosquito bites?

That, my friend, is what looking beyond the imperfections is all about!


Rules to Life…


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14192126_10154493047404049_8589326875412241482_nHas anyone found a book that teaches us how to get to where we want to go?  As a child, maybe we each dream of one day being someone or something (maybe a doctor or lawyer or a wife and mother).  But where do we learn how to get there?  We may attend medical school or we may even fall in love with the “perfect guy.”  But what makes us the perfect lawyer or perfect wife/mother?  And regardless of how much each of us may want to be that someone or something, and how many paths we may follow, maybe based on the advice of others like our academic advisors or mentors, are we allowed to make mistakes?  Or does everything we do “mean” something, have some kind of significance that precludes us from continuing on our journey to where we thought we had wanted to go?

As a child, many of us (me included, at least) were told that we had to work in order to be successful.  To never be lazy and expect someone else to support us.  That in order to be a “success,” we had to work.  But work where?  And work doing what?  I mean, I can think of  lots of things that I would consider to be “hard work” which I do all the time for free.  And yet, it is also said that your chosen profession should be something you enjoy doing.  As hard as my work may be which I am not paid for, I do still enjoy it.  But the work I do which I am “forced” to do everyday in order to earn money to live, is it something that I enjoy doing or do I just put myself through it everyday because it is what the world expects of me?  I don’t remember when was the last time when I woke up and said, “Today, I feel like doing this simply because I enjoy doing it.”

During my college years, I studied psychology and at that time we were always debating the nature vs. nurture question.  Are we born to be what we become or do we become what our society influences us into becoming?  It always fascinated me how people in shared scenes or situations always tended to remember the scene quite differently.  We all have our perspectives and I have to tell you, there are a LOT of scenes in my life which I don’t remember at all.  And I don’t know why that is.

Yet, my oldest memory is me as a little girl, maybe 3 years old, and I was standing in the hallway of my parents’ house while they had company.  It was late at night, I had probably woken up and come out of my room to see what was going on.  My mother met me there and she got down on her knees (while being all dressed up for her dinner party currently happening in the living room) and she played with me for a few minutes before putting me back to bed.  I can still see her face perfectly and how she wore her hair…which is how I know I could not have been much more than 3 years old.  I always considered her to have been the best mother ever…granted she was the only one I had but she just had something about her.  Some said she was great because she always spoke to us as children as though we were already adults.  I have many more memories of her which I hope I will never forget and which always lead me to believe that she just adored me…regardless of what I did in life or what I studied or who I was becoming.

To her, I was always a success.  It was just something I always saw in her eyes.  But how did she learn that?  Who taught her how to always make me feel important…even when I really wasn’t doing anything important at all?  Is there a class I can take so that my intentions are never questioned?  So that on days when I make a mistake, the people closest to me don’t walk away thinking I no longer care about them?  How do I become like my mother seemed to be so effortlessly?  What rules did she follow in life and where are the rules that I am supposed to follow in order to become whatever it is that I am meant to become?  Because I still don’t know them.