Get Tantric just in time for doomsday!

Squeee…today Jenny Hansen and I are blog swapping. Squeee! Can you believe she actually gave me the keys to More Cowbell?!?! I know…I was shocked as well. I am over there dishing my thoughts on some age-old dating advice…a must-read before Doomsday (you know…the Mayan prophecy that Friday December 21, 2012 the world will end. It’s ok my fabulous peeps…Jenny and I are here to help you get your groove on before the pending doom).

So enjoy Jenny’s post on how to get all bad-ass Tantric with yourselves and then pop over to More Cowbell to hang with yours truly…take it away Jenny….

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Thanks Nat!!! Wow…things are always exciting over here at Nat’s place! I get to have a great time, crack some jokes, and indulge my naughty side *if you know what I mean*…

I’m going to let you in on a secret.

I might hang out most of the time at More Cowbell and Writers In The Storm, but lately I’ve been expanding my horizons a bit and publishing short articles on some of the SocialIn sites. Have you heard of them? Social In DC, Social In New York, Social In Los Angeles…you get the picture.

This latest bump to my freelance dreams started with a conversation I had with another writer a few months back. She’d received a writing assignment that wigged her out.

[We’ll just call her Monique.]

Monique: Hey! I just had an assignment come across my desk that has you written all over it.

Me: Yeah? How so?

Monique: Well, it’s about sex. Anyone who writes the Undie Chronicles can surely interview a sex therapist better than I can.

Me: Wow! Really?! A sex therapist? I’ve always wanted to chat up a sex therapist.

Monique: Of course you do.

Me: Give me the info…I wanna look this person up. *tap-tapping the keyboard* Interesting…she practices something called Transformational Tantra. [Definition of Tantra]

Monique: I KNOW. I don’t want to talk to someone about their sex lives!

Me: I don’t think she’s gonna talk to you about her sex life. The point is to talk to you about yours.

(I’m continuing to browse the gal’s site this whole time.)

Hey, she runs a radio show called Sex and Happiness. That’s kind of nifty. And she did a movie called Tantric Tourists…it won a bunch of awards. It looks like she takes bunches of tourists on trips to India. They learn “the art of surrender.”

Monique about exploded when she heard this. “You’re telling me that people spend thousands of dollars to go to India just to get tied up?! They can get that for free at home.

Me: *laughing* I think you’re confusing “surrender” with “bondage,” Honey.

Monique: And THIS is why you’re the one who’s going to write this post!

And so I did. I’ve actually placed it below, along with links to this gal’s new movie, Beyond Dinner. It sounds like they’re combining dinner with Speed Dating, but I’ll let you decide for yourselves. For $1.99, I’m totally checking it out.

Beyond Dinner…More Than A New Way To Eat
by Jenny Hansen

Photo by ECooper99 at WANA Commons

Photo by ECooper99 at WANA Commons

December ‘tis the season’ when Americans kick their schedules up a notch, from “really busy” to “downright insane.” The downside to this holiday insanity is it keeps us from paying attention, to our loved ones and ourselves.

Give yourself a unique gift this holiday season and embrace. . .You.

According to Dr. Oz, our four basic needs as humans are food, water, sleep and sex. You heard me – we need all four to be truly well and happy.

Do you take the time to celebrate your body? Your spirit? Do you give yourself the gift of both rest and play?

Let me introduce you to Laurie Handlers. A tantric teacher, Laurie believes, “Sex energy runs the world. The sooner we make peace with that, the better our lives will be.” Between her books and her films, I guarantee she’ll help you banish the word boring from your bedroom and replace it with fun.

Her latest video romp, Beyond Dinner, turns the simple act of eating into a carnival for the senses. Following the basic principles of a Gate Dinner (pronounced gah-tay – gate is Sanskrit for “beyond”), the women and men in this short film are seated on pillows on the floor in a dining area. After a quick workshop on setting boundaries to teach the art of “Yes,” “No,” and “Not now, maybe later,” these diners are off for a night of exploring the senses.

With each course, the men change places at the table until all the participants have experienced feeding and being fed by the others at the table. Red wine and decadent chocolate dessert are served before the meat and potatoes, creating a sensual smorgasbord of food.

Searching for a gift to get your honey’s engine revving this holiday season? Look no further.

Beyond Dinner has food, wine, candlelight and tons of lighthearted play. This is dinner as you’ve never seen it eaten. I’m eyeing a rental copy as a quick and easy stocking stuffer for my husband, to help kick off a New Year’s Eve romantic date for two. At $1.99, I can’t go wrong. If we love it, I can buy it forever for $6.99.

If you’re looking to add some erotic spice to your holidays, I highly recommend a shopping trip through Laurie Handlers’ holiday deals.

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So, now I’m opening the discussion up to all of you. What do you think about this tantric business? And how about the concept behind the Gate Dinner? (Monique couldn’t get over the idea of someone she barely knew putting their hands all over her food.)

I’m simply dying to hear what y’all think about this concept… ESPECIALLY Hubby!

About Jenny Hansen

By day, Jenny provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. By night she writes humor, memoir, women’s fiction and short stories. After 15 years as a corporate software trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.

When she’s not at her personal blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter at JennyHansenCA or at Writers In The Storm. Jenny also writes the Risky Baby Business posts at More Cowbell, a series that focuses on babies, new parents and high-risk pregnancy.

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Solved: the case of the angry bird

In June I told you how I have been living with an angry bird for what feels like forever. It’s been at least one year (maybe closer to two) that I’ve been tormented by chronic bladder infections and a burning vajayjay that’s kept my lustful Fifty Shades of Grey inner sex Goddess at bay.

I’m happy to report, my Goddess divine (who has no scruples when it comes to this sort of thing) finally kicked that burning bird to the curb and we’ve been living burn-free for over a MONTH people! That’s like an eternity in burn-free days!

I didn’t come across the fix right away. After I read all your amazing suggestions, I thought that perhaps I had taking so many anti-biotics, that my vajayjay was like a war zone with all my good bacteria lying down like fallen and wounded soldiers in the field. Perhaps my vaginal canal was a hostile environment? So I promptly headed out to treat the ol’ girl right.

I started with an oral treatment for a yeast infection (just in case). I made probiotics my new BFF ingesting 16 billion live cultures of acidophilus every day. Not to mention the Greek yogurt and berries fetish I’ve developed. I gave up my deliciously, wonderful baths (this has been like torture in and of itself…I love my bath time!) AND…torture number 2…Hubby and I abstained from bumping nasties for two. whole. weeks.

The night came to see if all our hard work paid off. With bated breath we got down to business and BAM…she’s BACKKKKK!! The burning bearded clam returned with a vengeance. I swear flames were firing out of her. I was desolate. Hubby was depressed. I just about gave up. What else could I try?

I was just about to resort to a yogurt douche when a conversation with a BFF years ago came to mind. One of my friends in a similar situation was told by her gynecologist to try olive oil as a lubricant, instead of the store-bought versions.

Hmmmm…ya think?!?!

Was our trusted Astroglide to blame for the past two years of BURN?

I didn’t want to get mine and hubby’s hopes up again. But at this point, we had nothing to lose and everything to gain. So….with great trepidation, hubby and I made the switch. We brought the olive oil from the kitchen to the bedroom and I’m happy to report we’ve been cooking up burn-free banging ever since.

The case of the angry bird….SOLVED!

Who knew…olive oil??? It’s not only heart healthy in the kitchen and great for amazing face and body at-home spa treatments; you can use it to make tasty taco salads in the bedroom as well. This stuff’s gold!

Picked up some EXTRA VIRGIN just for hubby!

What’s your favorite bedroom lubricant? Had you ever heard of using olive oil when you get between the sheets? What other amazing things do you use olive oil for? Come on…share the wealth….

More blog deliciousness here:

Bringing out the best in YOU

Hubby and I went and saw This Means War (great movie…we laughed out loud at various scenes…a definite must-see) last weekend. The premise of the movie is a gal torn between two guys. At one point, she goes to her best friend for advice because she’s fallen for both. Her best friend says:

“Don’t choose the best guy;
choose the guy that brings out the best in you!

 

DING DING DING! Bells started going off and I was totally blown away by how bang on this statement is.

I have a lot of single friends out there in the trenches searching for their dream partner. And I have a lot of friends in mediocre relationships trying to turn a frog into a prince. And I dish out a ton of advice, tips and tricks based on what worked for me. But I’ve never mentioned the above advice and it shocked me how obvious it is and how key it is to a truly successful relationship.

I mean, we’ve all had those relationships where that person just brings out the worst in us. You know…the relationship that for whatever reason you stay hating yourself and who you’re becoming the entire time. The relationship where you find yourself doing crazy things (like setting up a fake email account pretending to be another woman…), saying outlandish things (maybe a screaming match in the middle of a mall) and just acting like an all around crazy person…The relationship where you look in the mirror and don’t even recognize the person staring back.

Did you know that the opposite can be true?

I didn’t…until hubby!

That’s when I realized that “the” one is the guy that brings out the very best in me. He’s the guy that makes me love myself more than I ever imagined. He’s the guy that makes me feel like the most amazing person, the most beautiful woman, and the best person in the entire world.

I can list a long laundry list of reasons and characteristics that A) set hubby apart from all the others (y’all know he rocks) and B) were definite signs that he was the one for me. But beyond the lists and the amazing person that he is….hubby has always brought out the absolutely best in me. And I think I bring out the best in him.

That’s what we do for each other. That’s what we bring to the table. That’s what sets US apart. That’s how I knew he was the one.

With him, I am more confident, happier, funnier and more honest. With him I feel incredible, empowered, intelligent, and more authentic than ever before. With him, I am the best woman, person, employee, friend, lover, companion etc that I’ve ever been.

With him, I am the best me I’ve ever been.

How does you’re your significant other bring out the best in you? What’s some of the best “finding love” advice you’ve received?

More blog deliciousness here:

Spandy Andy makes me giggle and his message to the world rocks!

Have y’all heard of Spandy Andy? O.M.G. he’s fahhhbulous!

When hubby showed me this video last night, I knew it was perfect for Twisted Tuesday because if this doesn’t make you smile, giggle or outright laugh, nothing will.

 

Wondering how Spandy Andy came to be, check out this UBC Documentary:

 

I gotta say, I’m now a huge fan of Spandy Andy. His mission is to be the “super hero of positivity” and his doctrine is that we “appreciate the fact that you are alive and use your energy to spread positivity.” Now that ROCKS!

You can check out more of Spandy Andy on his YouTube Channel, on Facebook, and on the Web where you can “be tight/be bright” alongside the master of happiness.

It’s Twisted Tuesday and that means it’s time to enjoy a smile, giggle or laugh…here’s hoping I’ve provided it in spades…enjoy!

Think you’d ever have the guts to dance in public wearing your skimpies just to spread smiles, joy, and positivity? How do you channel your inner Spandy Andy every day?

P.S. In case you missed Monday’s post where I spotlight author Virginia Ripple, you should definitely check it out. There’s a great giveaway! Squeeee…

Forgiveness: it’s all about you

Some of my fellow bloggers have written some poignant posts on a tough subject; forgiveness. It started with a gut wrenching post by Diana Murdock on her journey to forgiveness and then Angela Wallace followed up with a great post about the key ingredient to reconciliation. Then just recently, I read an amazing post by Louise Behiel on her path to forgiveness. All are must-reads.

On Angela’s suggestion, I decided to repost (with a few edits) a post I did on the subject quite some time ago.

It all started when I watched Oprah interview Tyler Perry (Oct 2010) about his life. The interview took my breath away when Mr. Perry spoke about how he had forgiven his father for the abuse he suffered at his hands and how that forgiveness freed him to live his life according to his own truth. He said he called his father, and let it all out and then…let it go! I could imagine some of Oprah’s viewers were puzzled. How would THAT enable someone to forgive another? But I wasn’t confused. For me, it made perfect sense.

Over the years, many people have asked me that same question; how was I able to forgive my mother for being abusive and more pointedly…why? For me, the quest to forgiveness was very similar to that of Mr. Perry’s.

It happened almost by accident. From around 13 to 18 years old, I was an incredibly angry person. I was violent, mouthy, and aggressive. I had no respect for anyone in my life. I treated people poorly, was a bully, and was absolute tyrant towards my mother.

I knew that my anger had to do with how my mother had treated me growing up. She had been physically and verbally abusive for most of my childhood but stopped when I was around 11 years old. I knew that violence was second nature to me; that it actually felt good and comfortable to me. I understood that I lashed out in large part to gain a sense of control because for so long, I felt like I had none. I knew I felt the need to get even. I felt like the world and everyone in it had betrayed me and therefore owed me. I felt entitled and I felt justified. And as I got older, it got worse. The anger took over. I got to a point where I didn’t know how to control it or stop. I raged. I no longer knew how to not be angry anymore, how to let go and be free. I was possessed!

On my 18th birthday, I was living in an apartment and a party got out of hand. The police were involved and my landlord called my mother and told her that I was evicted. At that time, she was living 2 hours away and had been covering the cost of rent so I could graduate from my high school with my childhood friends.

After dealing with the landlord, we sat down at my kitchen table. To this day, I don’t know what happened to me or what prompted me to open up but I did. For over 4 hours, I unleashed everything. I told her everything I felt, every single thing I had done, every single terrible thing that had happened to me that she had no idea about. I let everything out; how I felt about her, how I felt about how she had treated me, how I felt about my father because he hadn’t stopped her. There was no detail of my life, my thoughts, or my feelings left unturned or untold. I bore my soul to her.

I was raw and exposed but surprisingly, at the same time, I was empowered in a way I had never known. I was stunned that I felt such relief to have gotten it all off my chest; to finally have unburdened myself and to have been, for the first time in my life, 100% honest with not only her, but myself!

And, in that moment, I forgave her.

Most importantly, I forgave her not because she asked, not because she was sorry, not because she wanted or needed me to. I forgave her because it was in that moment that I realized that the only way to release myself from the past, from the anger and pain, was to forgive her. I had to forgive her for myself. It was the only way to let go and renew myself! Hanging on to that pain, hurt, and anger was exhausting and it was slowly killing me.

From that moment forward, my life changed; I changed. I still stumbled and had ups and downs over the years but that “blast/opening” was the defining moment that set me on a course for real change and growth.

Like Mr. Percy in his interview, forgiving my mother wasn’t about “letting her off the hook” and I was in no way saying “how you treated me was okay.” It was about saying “what happened, happened. I wish it hadn’t happened but I accept that I can’t change it and I am done letting it control me.”

I came to realize and understand that my mother had done the best she could with what she knew at the time. And when she knew better, she did better. How could a person ask any more of another?

At that point in my life, had I not forgiven her and let go of the past, the only person I would have injured would have been myself. I would have found myself living a life of anger and blame; holding my mother responsible for anything bad in my life, for my poor choices and bad decisions and for any and every thing wrong in my life.

And sure, you know what, at that age and to a certain degree, it was true. Had she not been abusive, maybe I would have grown up with a more solid sense of self and self-esteem that would have propelled me to make different, better choices but that wasn’t the case. But at some point in my life, I had to become the ultimate keeper of the choice. At some point, the responsibility and the fault for the wreckage I was making of my own life laid squarely on my own shoulders – no one else’s. At some point, it was all on me otherwise I would never own the ability to make my life grand.

A life of blame would have meant life as a victim; frozen in time forever. Because being a victim left me powerless to be a champion in my life. Too focused on the past to see the potential of the future.

People often ask me if I’d change anything that happened. And you know what, I wouldn’t. Yes it was hard, yes it had its challenges but it made me who I am today. And it made my mother who she is. And the culmination of those experiences has allowed us to create a most amazing mother/daughter best friendship that without our experiences, we wouldn’t have.

We both did the best we could with what we knew at the time. And when we knew better, we did better.

How has forgiveness changed your life?

If you enjoyed this post, check out more blog deliciousness here:

Doing what you love & living your passion

I’ve heard it said (likely from Oprah) that the key to happiness is to doing what you love for a living. And if you are doing what you love for a living, you will be successful.

My beautiful BFF is on a quest to do just that. She “likes” her current job (and has enjoyed much success in the field thus far) but she has a sense that she’s meant for something more. She isn’t interested in doing what she likes for the rest of her life. She doesn’t want to settle for doing what she’s good at. She wants to live her best life and that means a career she loves, is passionate about it and that fulfills her.

Love that! What an inspiration!

Her problem; she doesn’t know exactly what that is…yet.

Doing what you like instead of what you love

After I finished high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career. I worked for a year or so before going to college and university. I knew I was good at English and enjoyed writing so I used that as a guide post in choosing to study journalism in my post secondary education.

My first college class, our bad-ass journalism instructor (a hardened, cynical reporter type) asked us to do a round table about why we were there. With about a dozen students, he got mostly typical answers. My answer:

“I want to write novels and I figure this course will give me a great foundation for that.”

He was surprised. So was I. I had never really voiced it that way.

After 4 years of study, I think journalism did just that. But instead of following my passion to be an author, I took a safer route and opted for a career in communications; a close and relatable career choice but not necessarily my passion. Now mind you, I enjoy it, I find it fulfilling, and I am happy for the most part. But am I doing what I love and am passionate about!?!?! Probably not.

My BFF said this isn’t surprising. Based on the books she’s reading and the workshops she’s taken, it’s not uncommon for people to choose a career that taps into part of their passion but to be off just a smidge, making the difference between liking and loving your career choice.

Interesting. Since communications has a huge writing component to it, it has enough of my passion to keep me checked-in and “in like” with my job but it’s not enough of my passion to tip the scales to an all out love affair. I’d have to agree with that.

So, how do we figure out what our passion is if we aren’t necessarily sure? And how do we move from like to love? Well, of course I took that question to Mom (AKA: The Oracle) who I knew would have the answers for me.

1. Use your childhood to clue into your passion

Mom suggested I look back to my childhood for answers and clues to what my passion would be now. What did I loved to play at as a child? What interested me most? What did I seem interested in year after year? She said this would give the best indication of what I would love to do as an adult.

I know when I was 14, I had a personal journal that I wrote in daily for nearly 10 years, and I used to write a lot of poetry as a teenager. I did gymnastics for a number of years but…sadly wasn’t much good no matter how hard I tried. I did dance and swimming but neither tweaked my fancy “that” much. Still not seeing it yet?!?!?

She suggested I go further back; what did I play at as a child at 5, 7, 10 years old? All I could remember was mud pies and Barbies; how did that related to an adult’s passion?

Mom said that even as a young child I loved writing. She said I wrote countless plays and acted them out for the family. And with a childhood friend, we would write news reports and would act out entire news programs for the family. 

Seriously?! It seems like writing has been a part of my life longer than I even realized.

With that information, Mom had another suggestion. 

2. Have a vision

She suggested I sit down, clear my mind, think loosely about doing what I love and just see what visions pop up.

I envision a comfortable “writing” room with a window overlooking some water. My room has a great writing desk (dark wood but old), fantastic lighting, notebooks and pens, a fabulous laptop and monitor, paintings with my favorite quotes, a corkboard wall for storyboarding, a comfortable chair for reading, and shelves holding tons of my favorite reads.

I can almost taste days spent researching and writing, falling in and out of love with characters, creating new and wondrous worlds and drama that no one else understands but me…until we go to print.

I can feel the sun on my face coming through the window as I close my eyes and hear my character’s voices. I can smell the warm cup of coffee sitting next to me. The dog is sleeping under my desk. Maybe some instrumental music playing softly. I am here to create. I am here to write. I can almost FEEL what it would be like to be doing this day in and day out. I feel the passion and excitement stir. But at the same time, it feels so….natural.

More than what it physically looked like, I am left in awe of how it FELT! Amazing!

3. Start to take steps to live your passion

I think being in “like” with my day job has made me somewhat complacent and less willing and hungry to risk everything to do what I’d love. A compromise I am sure a lot of people make.

Mom suggested that anyone on a passion quest start with small steps. Things like ROW80, setting up a writing room in the house, and working towards writing that first book move me more towards my passion. And closer to the day when I can follow my passion full-time. They are also small ways to try on the writing life for size and see if it’s a fit; if it’s truly my passion.

Mom also suggested that people can use volunteering at different organizations doing different task as a great way to try on new jobs to see what strikes a chord with their passion. Or take courses, not just academic but artistic as well, to try out different aspects of the world.

All I know is that watching my BFF on her quest is inspiring me. She’s brave and determined to do find and do what she loves. Whatever the cost. Whatever the sacrifice. She’s made a commitment to do whatever it takes to live her best life. No complacency. No compromise.

Now that rocks! 

2012 for me will be all about taking steps towards making my passion my dream-come-true day job!

Do you love your day job? How did you discover your passion? What steps do you take to live your passion every day? What did you love to play at as a child and do you think that ties into what you’d love to do as an adult?

Marking special anniversaries

Hubby and I

Hubby and I

Hubby and I celebrate all kinds of anniversaries in our relationship. I mean, don’t tell me you’re surprised…we are like totally that kind of uber romantic, will take any occasion to celebrate and gush about ourselves kind of couple. LOL!

Let’s see, we have our latest and greatest one, our wedding anniversary, which is April 14 (2010). Then there’s our “been together since” anniversary, which was also our first official “date” and first kiss, November 18 (2004). And of course, the first time we…ummm…you know?!?!?! (I am not giving you that date…girl’s gotta keep some things private and I DO have a reputation to maintain…). And….this past Saturday was another biggee. It was 7 years to the day that we met.

Hubby and I actually met in quite possibly THE most corniest way; at a coworker of mine’s wedding. She and hubby had known each other for years because he had worked for the same organization I did but a few years before my time. And when all the women there found out hubby and his ex had split (again…), well…I mean…they went INSANE and raved about how fahhhbulous he was. And about how uberly perfect we would be for each other. They went on and on and on….seriously….it was a bit embarrassing!

I have to say though….I had my doubts. From what the gals told me, hubby and his ex had a history of breaking up and getting back together. And we all know the greatest predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Add to that, they shared a son and I know how much parents try to stay together when there are children involved. So from my perspective, the chances were quite high that they’d be back together in no time.

Great guy or not….I did NOT have stupid tattooed to my forehead!

Not to mention, I was 10 months into my commitment to NOT date for 1 year and I was determined to meet my goal. I could not be persuaded. He’d have to be GOD to get me to waiver and there was no way this guy was GOD?!?!?!

Well, the rest is…as they say…history. Hubby may not be God but he’s pretty damn close. I had my doubts and reservations, but he saw something in me (and in us) and he persevered. He totally and completely won me over. He melted my heart with his thoughtfulness, his generosity, and his attention to detail. He was the first man who ever jumped through hoops for me and was willing to do whatever it took to prove to me he was worthy of my love and my trust. And worthy he is!

And in 7 years, I can honestly say, he’s never let me down. Oh yes, we have our ups and downs. We’ve had our share of disagreements and issues. But, hubby has never let me down. His love is unconditional and profound and….he knows ME…the real me…the honest me…the raw me…and he loves all of ME!

It is truly a gift to be loved like that….and to love someone back that way…

Happy 7 years (anniversary number 1) hubby! Here’s to another glorious zillion anniversaries to come!

What anniversaries do you and your significant other celebrate?

Have I mentioned I can be a total douchebag?

Hubby and I golfing

Anyone ever tell you that your competitive drive makes you miserable to be around? I have. I had no idea my competitive drive could be…so…well…ugly! It’s kind of embarrassing to be quite honest. But where better to bare my soul than here, a la blog, with all of you. Therapeutic?

Now don’t get me wrong, competitive drive can be a very healthy and good thing. It can be motivational gearing us to push ourselves harder; to learn more; to be better; to reach higher; to move faster; and to strike hotter. But it can also turn us into blithering jerks.

Four years ago, hubby introduced me to golf at a fun “best ball” tournament. Having been a golf lover for many years, he had always dreamt of having a life partner that enjoyed it as much as he did. He was both stunned and thrilled when I did. I mean, I took to the game like a fish to water. With my newfound golf enthusiasm, I read websites, watched videos, got all the gear, outfitted myself appropriately (a la pink) and off we went…hand-in-hand, waltzing into golf heaven.

But towards the end of last year, it all started crashing down around us. My competitive drive started to turn me into a miserable golfer, no joke. Unless I was having a perfect game, a relative rarity in my third season of golf, I would turn into this psycho golf bitch. I would loudly self-criticize every missed shot. I would get blood-red angry, curse, lash out, threaten to wrap my club around tree, and would bash my club into the ground. You get the picture. It wasn’t pretty. It was downright nasty. I am not proud.

One time in particular, hubby and I were playing a fairly prestigious, tough 18-hole course. It was hot. I wasn’t having a great game. I was frustrated. And there I found myself cursing up a red-letter-storm as I attempted to sock the damn ball up the fairway for what felt like the 99 lack luster attempt when I looked up and saw the course marshal not 10 feet from me, staring. Not impressed.

I grinned, sheepishly. I hung my head in shame. He drove off. I was embarrassed.

Hubby, who had been putting up with this behavior for weeks finally had enough:

“Golf is supposed to be something we do together to have fun, connect, get outside and enjoy life. You are obviously not enjoying yourself. And it hurts me to watch you so upset and angry. If it’s not fun, I don’t see the point of golfing anymore.”

Ouch – touché – so true!

When did winning and playing perfect become so important that I forgot the real point behind the game? Although I like to pretend that someday I’ll be invited to join the LPGA tour, the truth of the matter is that I play golf to enjoy life with hubby! I play golf to get some exercise, have some fun, share in some laughs, and to connect with him (and the people we play with). And in the end, my competitive drive was making me (and everyone around me) miserable!

Happens to the best of us, I know. Whether it’s cooking the perfect meal, having the best cleaned house, being your idea of the perfect mother/wife/friend, or writing the perfect book/blog post/short story, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the urge to be perfect. So much so, we make ourselves miserable doing it. We end up trying so hard that the joy is lost and we forget the real point of anything we do in life is to be happy and to live life out loud and to the max.

Perfection is a matter of perspective and it doesn’t equate happiness.

With golf, I had to get back to the basics of having fun…so I stopped keeping score for awhile. By taking the competitive element out of the equation, I was able to get back to golfing for the sheer fun of it. And this year, when I kicked off my fourth season and I found myself reverting to “Natalie Golf A$$hole,” I immediately threw away the score cards for a couple of rounds and let golf joy fill my soul.

Now, my definition of the perfect game is one where I have a blast. An improved golf score is simply gravy.

How do you get back to the basics? What scorecards (metaphorical or real) have you tossed out the window?

How do you stay true to you?

I am taking Kristen Lamb’s Blogging to Build Your Brand workshop and it’s been a great learning experience thus far. We are a little more than half way through and we’ve been soaking up Kristen’s expertise and advice on branding, log-lines, and how to write posts that have a broad, relatable concept and are emotionally charged. At the end of the course we should all have a better sense of how to use our blogs to connect with readers, create a community, and develop ourselves (our name) as a brand.

One of the most fulfilling aspects of the workshop has been meeting so many fellow bloggers and writers and creating a community of support. One such blogger Diana Murdock, took all of our lessons thus far and packaged them into a fantastic blog post today: When I Found Myself; I Found My Muse that I just had to share.

In her post, she wrote about how she lost herself for years in the business of life and the needs of others and how she’s rediscovering herself and putting herself first…and writing like mad.

Although I don’t have children of my own, the story resonated with me because like Diana, I struggle with making time for my personal priorities and dreams. I often get overly wrapped up in the busyness of my life whether it is work, friends and family responsibilities, household stuff etc and I put working on my dreams last. Even the pressure to get out and have as much fun as possible during our precious and limited summer days can take over my “dream” time.

It always comes back to the same thing: balance and prioritizing!

For me, blogging helps me stay true to me…Maybe I am not quite ready to sit down and start writing my book but I know deep inside that writing regularly is a priority for me. I love it and it feeds my soul. Blogging gives me that venue to write, to tap into my creativity, to reach out, to express myself and to enjoy the passion and pleasure I get from writing. In this way, blogging helps me stay focused on making time for my dream and keeping it a priority in my life.

How do you stay true to you? How do you find the balance between your life and your passions?

Negative thinking: is it just a bad habit?

When you face a life struggle such as a divorce or a job loss, how do you interpret it? Do you see it as just another kick in the face, typical bad luck; a “what’s meant to be will be” situation; or do seek the “opportunity” in everything?

Are you a naturally positive or negative person? Do you think this is something you can control, or is it something that happens to you by chance? Do you think it affects your overall happiness level?

Recently, I read in a magazine that experts say that being an overall negative or positive person is a habit and the more you practice one or the other, the more it perpetuates. Bad things happen; we all experience tough times and how we choose to view a situation can play a key role in our overall level of happiness in our life.

My experience

For about 10 years, the traumatizing effects of the accidental death of my father at 16 years old played a detrimental role in how I viewed life and impacted my overall happiness factor. For years, I had no faith or trust in life and I was convinced everyone I loved was going to die. I was emotionally crippled by a fear of abandonment. I lived life waiting for the other shoe to drop; waiting for the next loved one to be ripped away from me. These deep seeded negative beliefs drove me to angry, destructive behaviors and choices and framed my overall view of life. It wasn’t surprising that I was immensely unhappy and unfulfilled.

As I moved into my 30s, I started evaluating my life choices as a whole and saw the patterns of how some of my core beliefs were driving me to behaviors that made me unhappy. But could a person radically alter an ingrained belief system? Was that within my control?

I started by evaluating my beliefs, breaking each one down, replacing negative and unhealthy beliefs with new, healthy, realistic beliefs. This restructuring was all about habit. I used positive affirmations to build anew. For months, I reminded myself over and over again that I was strong and able to deal with anything life brought my way, that I had gotten through losing my father, and that I could restore my trust in life.

Slowly but surely, my faith in life returned, my capacity to love opened up, and my life changed and happiness started to fill my spirit. As I consciously altered my inner world, my outer world began to change; quite dramatically.

How has positive or negative thinking affected your life? Do you think being a primarily positive or negative person is something within your control?

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