The Refinery

Are you done? Are you where you want to be? Have you given all you have to offer?

I’m not. I haven’t. And it totally pumps me up.

We all have these things we think about doing, being or giving. We whisper them if we speak of them at all, because we tell ourselves that we’re too old, it’s too late, it seems too egotistical to offer what we know through our experiences. What a selfish, cowardly way of thinking. We don’t want to put ourselves out there for somebody to flay. We’re protecting ourselves while telling others to live large, honest and brave.

I don’t have a doctorate in anything, I have a business degree. But I’m out in the fucking field just like you. Every single day brings a new thought. Do we date or wait? Do we spend or save? Do we change jobs or stay where we are? Are we still in that relationship because there is still something to learn or are we just cowards? Do we drop the fancy bullshit and show who we are or keep playing the game that leaves us lonely no matter who we’re with?

We’re not too old to start over if we’re starting over. Every day we wake up breathing is just one more day in the refinery burning the gold of us to the surface to be skimmed off and offered to the world. It’s one more day to forge ourselves into a blade that cuts through our own bullshit to live a life that offers value to those around us.

I listened to a Gary Vee podcast today where he suggested (quite strongly) that everyone spend some time in a retirement home talking to those who lived there. Not just because it’s a decent thing to do, but because you will learn from them what regret looks like, or conversely, satisfaction. I was horrified to realize that I was a walking retirement home myself, full of regrets just waiting to happen if I didn’t say, “screw this” and get my ass in gear.

We’ve got priorities to set, things to learn and shit to do people.

At least I do. This refinery is open and active.

Are you in?


Full Circle

In the beginning there was empathy and compassion throughout my being. I felt the pain of those around me, cried tears over their hurts and became distraught if I upset anyone for any reason. I wanted everyone to like me, be happy, have only good things happen to them. I knew that if I were in charge of the world, I could make everything be wonderful for everyone.

Then I was promoted to my first management position and got stomped into the mud. The first couple of times I had to let someone go, I was so upset at ending their ability to provide for their family that they comforted me.

“It’s okay,” they would tell me as they hugged and patted me, “it’s not your fault that I keep calling in and people catch me at the fair or the movies or the mall.” Or, “You told me 3 months ago this was going to happen if I didn’t start showing up on time, please don’t be upset”.

After many disappointments and illusions lost, I turned to the dark side.

If I could not love and care these people into happy lives, then by god I would force them into it with my great and mighty authority. I developed the look, the tone, the walk and the strategy to make almost everything go the way it needed to go for everyone to get what they said they wanted. I was loved and hated with equal passion through those years. I got the degree, read the books, watched the videos and took to heart the lessons from (technically the greatest professional of all time)…my mother.

I knew shit.

The love for, and priority of my son’s upbringing caused my decision to step away. During that glorious hiatus, I learned a very valuable lesson that has carried me through the stages of the past few years.

I don’t need to be somebody to be somebody.

In the resting place of caring for my family and being responsible for only the work I did,  I began to learn that power over self trumps any fictitious power I thought I had over anyone else’s life choices. Unfortunately, the lesson didn’t root deeply enough. When I stepped back into management, I did something extremely foolish.

I picked the world up again, and carried it with me.

Being the stubborn, obstinate and contrary person that I obviously am, it took a major shake up for me to let the fuck go. People have the right and responsibility to earn and learn their own rewards and lessons. I do not have the right to “save” them from themselves or take their potential wisdom away just to make myself feel better by making their lives easier. There’s always something to face, that next thing, and if they are not strong enough how can they win?

Enabling is not empowering. It is the exact opposite.

Honestly, it is so hard for me not to jump in when I shouldn’t. It’s just as hard not to let others jump in and save me when I know I need to feel the pain of something. But I know myself well, and try to respect that others deserve the same chances to grow in the face of resistance. Which is the only way any muscle is built.

So after all these years, I have finally found my way back to the heart of me that empathizes, hurts and cries for another without stealing the struggle needed to grow strong. With some spine, hard-learned wisdom, and the ability to support without invading another’s choices I am gaining much needed ground in my own peace of mind.

*Just don’t ask for my thoughts on a matter unless you’re ready to hear it.

*disclaimer =)




The Player

Emotional manipulation really chaps my ass. To me it’s just half a notch down from the tie for loser slot number one of physical or verbal/emotional abuse of one human being to another.

It’s such a hard boundary for me now that for a while I was over zealous about not allowing anyone to know how I felt or when I was struggling. I was so horrified by my own experiences that I couldn’t let my people be my people when I needed them.

I have since learned the difference between allowing love and using love for gain.

To be fair, (and I struggle mightily with this topic) it is a sometimes subconscious skill learned when a person gets what they want by crying, or whining, or weaving a sorrowful tale of childhood, or mommy or daddy weren’t what I needed, life’s been hard on me…

blah, blah, blah.

You don’t know my story and I don’t know yours, but I do know this. There comes a point in every life where you are old enough to choose who you are going to be. You had a bad childhood? Decide to be the parent you always wanted. Belittled and bullied growing up? Make the decision to uplift and protect those weaker than you.

You decide whether to perpetuate or change your family legacy. You. Decide.

Here’s the hard thing, the thing I personally struggle with every damn day. I can’t save you. Nobody can save you but you. You may not know you’re being played the first time, but after that baby, you are a supporting character in the show of their sob story.

I know these things because I’ve done them myself. 

You’ll despise yourself for it while you keep the game in motion. You’ll rationalize how they just need a little more love, a little more time, a little more understanding. You’ll keep giving them what gratifies them and feed the monster that feeds their weakness and your own.

You’ll tell yourself that you gave everything, you understood, you were supportive, you were loving and gracious and forgiving. You will say you deserved better than the stomping you took from this person. Originally, yes you did. Yes, I did. But did I deserve the injuries I sustained? The damage I had to repair? The ass-kicking I took emotionally?

You bet I did, and nobody is taking that lesson away from me.

My only hope in writing this is that someone, somewhere will stop and wonder for just long enough, if they are allowing themselves to be manipulated instead of loved. To ask themselves honestly if they are actively helping in the injuries to their own hearts. To consider that maybe they are worth more than the life of involuntary servitude that they have given themselves over to.

We each have such heart, beauty, love and courage inside of us. Please see it. Feel it.

Pull yourself free and give who you truly are to us. 

We need you.



Good Friday (from the Book of Shell)

Good Friday is an appropriate time to consider dying to those behaviors, feelings and actions that are toxic don’t you think?
If you’re sad, lonely, depressed, anxious or angry…
Consider getting out of yourself and reaching out to someone who needs you to step up…
There are two reasons we go through trials and tribulations. The first is to learn something we have refused to accept about our lives, beliefs or behaviors. The second is to help another through the minefield we just survived.
That’s it.
Don’t waste your time weeping, wailing and gnashing your teeth, (yes, I have a biblical theme flowing in honor of Good Friday) get away from the story of you and lead a brother or sister through the desert. Or dessert. Both have a positive influence on your state of mind.
It is scientifically proven that gratitude and generosity to self and others positively changes your physiology, your brain function and your emotions.
Give your time, lend your ear or shoulder, sister can you spare a dime? Do something, even if it’s to save yourself and see what happens.
I have a friend heading just now into waters that have almost overcome me the past 2 years and I realized with some relief that there was a fucking POINT to it all. We are here for each other and to teach each other to stand for ourselves! Our people need us, WE need us.
We are here to be a light for those we love, a lesson, a witness, a support, a hand to hold, a loving silence that says…
“No matter what, I am right here.”
On this wonderous Friday, I worked late when we normally don’t work at all and as I was just heading home, the poor guy I was married to for 29 years texted that his battery was dead in his new truck. I did a u-turn, allowed him to jump his battery, and followed him to the grocery (where we picked up a few things each of us needed) just to make sure his truck would start again. He would do the exact thing for me. And he bought me some wine! Win/win.
We are here to learn love never dies, it just transforms.
My point is this. When it is time for something to “die” there is a mourning and learning period (I will call this Saturday) and then we rise again, less our ignorance and more than we were capable of being before our trauma.
Self-imposed or not.
Think of this in the tomb-like silence after the heart-break, in the wtf wondering of it’s purpose, in the slow and appalled realization of the knowledge you have previously chosen to ignore.
There is a reason to rise again, to move the stone, to appear as the you that may not be readily recognizable to those that knew you before. They need you to spread the good word. They need to know the way to stand back up when life has beaten you bloody and killed your spirit and who you thought you were is nothing but a distant memory.
They need to know there is that time to rise.
They need to know it’s possible.
Happy Easter…I bid you rise, and go forth.

The Power Of Grace

It happens if you’re very fortunate, that all of your accumulated “lessons” from your shit decisions are revealed to you all at once, wrapped in a big ass bow surrounded by grace, which is by its definition completely undeserved.

I taught myself at a very young age to forgive immediately anyone I felt had harmed me in any way. I found that I was able to find joy in life easier by letting go and understanding that the more free and generous I was in redeeming the behavior of others towards me, the more the universe would be pre-disposed to offer the same to me.

Glory halliyooyer.

I have not, until recently, offered myself the same kindnesses and it has taken a horrible toll as a result. I have found that people walking all over me were merely following my footsteps, kind of like the saying that people learn how to treat you by the way you treat yourself.

If I don’t care enough about myself to eat, or rest enough, or exercise or balance work with life, or have fun or set boundaries for how I’m treated…why would anyone else care? And if they did care, why would I let them? If I put everyone else’s well-being in front of my own, why wouldn’t the rest of the world do the same? If I act like I don’t deserve better, why would anyone else believe I do?

If you’re brave enough to raise your standards, the first ass you kick is your own.

Do it, and the world will follow your lead, or fall away.

Both are to your benefit.

I promise.




The Mirage of She – Hiding a Heart of Thunder

No more back-sliding. Pinky swear.

Shelly Aspenson ~ Living Write

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She made an art of her disguise, although her greatest yearning was to be recognized, known, and accepted by those of like and thunderous hearts. She walked in the world, but not of it. She participated, and contributed, but did not belong. She worked, and laughed, and fulfilled her duties so flawlessly that those in her circle accepted the mirage; the illusion of her that would disappear if one were to reach out to touch her.

She remained concealed behind the reflection that allowed those around her to see what they were comfortable with, instead of the truth of her. She gave them their comfort in this, as her heart thundered in her chest, and her downcast eyes hid the flashes of lightning that preceded each rumble of the imminent storm of her.

She began to know, as her self-awareness grew, that the storm could not long be…

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Fist Fight

I am in an oddly happy place now. Odd to me in light of the circumstances, experiences and emotions of the last 3-4 weeks. It has not been pleasant or entertaining to be me. Had someone been foolish enough to attempt to steal my identity, I would’ve let them and just hopped in my car, changed my name and started a new life somewhere else.

Alas, I take myself where ever I go, so I had to absorb a few things instead.

I’ve learned there is a big difference between emotional intelligence and emotional fitness. The intelligence I have, the practice of applying it, not so much. Knowledge is no good to me if I don’t put it into play. That just makes me a target, an enabler and a fool.

I can keep the soft spots in my heart without allowing them to be weak spots.

I’ve learned that boundaries don’t mean I’m holding myself back. They are an indication that I’m holding myself sacred, that I am willing to protect what is valuable from those who have not proven to understand who I am. Love, or even caring for another, doesn’t mean I have to say yes, sometimes it means I need to say no for both of us.

I respect myself enough that you have to do the same or move on.

I’ve learned to see my work as an investor in my life and not the reason for it. It doesn’t define me, or draw from me anything other than the desire to give my best and let it go when I leave to enjoy the rest of my day. I don’t worry about it at night anymore, nor am I exhausted from fruitless attempts to intervene and steal another’s lesson that is theirs to learn.

I recognize that as a type of ego/arrogance now. Each of us reap our own rewards.

I’ve learned to ask questions until I’m satisfied with what I know and understand about any given thing. If you think that indicates a lack of intelligence, I’ll let you field that boomerang you just tossed and leave it at that.

When I see/hear judgement and unkind behavior, it just clears my vision. I see you.

There is a mountain of shit I no longer carry, and I’m in an oddly happy place without it. So in that annoying way that always made me want to slap someone when I heard it myself, I am grateful for all of the repetitive kicks in the ass that brought me here.

The fist fight in my head is over now. I win.