Free Cookies!

Who doesn’t like cookies? I mean, come on. I’d jump over a pit of vipers for a snickerdoodle!

But I’ll let you in on a little secret: You already have plenty. And the odd thing about it is that the more of them you give away, the more you’ll get back. It’s this crazy cookie math that defies explanation.

And these cookies are the best, most delicious cookies on earth. They don’t consist of sugar or butter or preservatives. They will never make you fat. In fact, the more you consume, the better you will feel. I’ll never understand why we don’t share more of these suckers when we possess them in infinite amounts.


If you haven’t already figured it out, I am talking about sincere compliments. I try to give out several a day. It doesn’t cost me a penny, but the dividends are phenomenal. There’s nothing as gratifying as discovering that you’ve made someone’s day.

Some people hoard these cookies as if they’ll starve to death if they hand them out. I’ve had a few supervisors like that, and it makes the workplace toxic, indeed. How hard is it to give someone kudos for a job well done?

Would it kill you to say, “That’s a beautiful necklace,” or “What a great idea! Thank you for sharing that!” or “I’ve always admired your people skills.”

If you try hard enough, you’ll find that there is something in everyone that is worth a genuine compliment. And you’ll discover that after a while, you don’t have to make that much of an effort. It will start to come naturally.

The more positivity you put out in the world, the more positivity will come back to you. Try it. You’ll see.

So here’s a cookie, dear reader: I think you are awesome. And you have great taste in blogs, too! 😊

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The Imposter Experience

My whole life, I’ve been waiting to be found out. Not discovered, like some pretty girl sitting at a soda fountain in Los Angeles, destined for stardom. No. Found out. Exposed for the imposter that I am.

I expect to be grabbed by the elbow. “You don’t belong here! How did you get here? Get back to the service entrance, wench!” “You don’t really fit in those clothes, that house, that job, that relationship, that car!” “You can’t have good things!” “That achievement? It’s a mistake.” “You are a fake, a phony.” “You are not worthy.” “Sure, they love you now, but only because they have no idea how flawed you really are.” “Just you wait. It’ll all turn to shit sooner or later.”

If any of that sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone. It seems that 70 percent of us have the imposter experience at some point in our lives. Note that I’m not calling it Imposter Syndrome, as many people do. It’s not a mental illness. It’s not some flaw in your brain chemistry. You are not broken. We are not broken.

Yes, an attitude adjustment wouldn’t hurt. Habits may need to be changed. Chances are you learned this negativity at your parents’ knees. Talking about it helps.

The more we realize how common this thought process is, the easier it is to realize that its these thoughts that are the imposters, not you. Not us.

Don’t let these ideas fester. Don’t let them hold you back. Don’t allow them to stop you from trying. That way lies stress, anxiety, and depression.

Let yourself feel your success. Don’t just dwell on the failures as if they merit more of your time. Write down the compliments, not the insults. Allow yourself new experiences.

In case no one has ever told you: You deserve all the things. You deserve them as much as anyone else does. You belong here, too.

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Strong Personalities

Just the other day I got told I have a strong personality. I get that a lot. The observation usually comes from a man, and it’s not intended as a compliment. I’m also often told that I “speak my mind” or am “opinionated”. (Uh, isn’t that an opinion?)

I can’t deny any of those descriptions. I’ll often speak up when others are afraid to. And if you ask me my opinion, I assume you want to know what it is, so I oblige you. I’m baffled as to why these qualities are supposed to be negative.

Yes. I have opinions. Everyone does. Never once have I insisted that anyone agree with mine. I’m not a bully. I never have been.

I also refuse to be bullied anymore. I was bullied half my life, and I’ve had it up to here. I stand up for others just as often as I stand up for myself. Again, tell me why that’s a bad thing?

Recently I’ve started considering the source of these criticisms. These people never make the same observations about men. Or if they do, they’re transformed into compliments. That’s interesting. And they are usually people who are, or would like to be, in positions of power over me. I’m quite sure that they’d prefer that I simply shut up and do as I’m told. They don’t want me to think, or have an opinion, or be strong, or even have a mind to speak. I’d be so much easier to deal with if I were soft and compliant.

Sorry to disappoint. Not gonna happen.


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You Are Already Enough

Dear You,

I suspect no one has ever told you this, so I figured I would. You are already enough. You were just who you were supposed to be on the day you were born.

I don’t know why people find it so hard to give compliments or encouragement. I really don’t know why so many people delight in being cruel or insulting. But the fact remains. You are enough.

Having ambition and wanting to improve upon yourself isn’t a bad thing, of course. Go for it! But set aside any anxiety you have that is causing you to try to force yourself into a role that makes you uncomfortable. Nobody has the right to pressure you to become someone that you’re not. Deep down, you already know who you are.

Just be yourself. You are one of a kind. Sit in that power. And before you know it (but only if you need to), you will bloom. You have that within you, and chances are, a lot of people already see it, whether they bother to tell you or not.

Now, share this post with someone else who needs to hear it.




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The Cheerleaders in Your Life

Starting at around 7th grade, I developed a potent and bitter dislike of cheerleaders that lasted right on through my time at university. I would never have admitted this then, but I was jealous. They were all beautiful and thin and popular and coordinated and never seemed to get pimples, and knew how to wear makeup and had the confidence to rock a miniskirt. Those were all qualities that seemed very out of reach to me. Actually, they still feel pretty out of reach, if I’m honest.

Over time I’ve learned that there are other fantastic qualities to have, such as intelligence and compassion and integrity, and those will stand the test of time long after your miniskirt days are over. I really like who I am. I’m finding that these traits may not be visible at first glance, and therefore I still struggle to get dates, but I’d totally date me.

Another thing that’s changed over time is my view of cheerleaders. Now I don’t disdain them. I cultivate them. Not the sporting kind. The kind that encourage you. The kind that sing your praises. The kind that say, “You go, girl!!!” Everybody needs that kind of positivity in their lives.

Because of this, I also try to be a cheerleader. I go out of my way to give sincere compliments. I want to be uplifting. In this world there will be plenty of people who will try to drag you down. Do your best to surround yourself with those who will cheer for you, and make an effort to cheer for them as well. Maybe your pom poms aren’t as perky as the next person’s, but your words will still give them spirit.

Rah rah!

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“You Are My Woman-Stash. More So than Mouse.”

When you love someone, it seems as though you develop your own special language. This language is full of cultural references, but they often spring from a culture of two. You can speak this language in the presence of others and no one else will understand.

The more you do this, the more special you start to feel. It’s like a drug. The underlying message is, “You mean enough to me to share secrets with.” “You understand me like no one else can.” “We share things that we’ve never shared with others.” “We have a common history to draw upon.”

The other day as I was waking up and still half in a dream, I heard my late boyfriend whispering in my ear. “You are my woman-stash. More so than Mouse.” And it brought happy tears to my eyes. When I started to write this entry, I planned to go on and explain what that means, but on second thought, I think I’ll keep it to myself. Suffice it to say it’s the highest compliment he could possibly give me.

I hope someday I get to feel that special again.

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[Image credit:]

Just Say Thank You!

“You’re really smart.”

“Who, me? Nah…”

That’s a typical scenario, probably happening a hundred thousand times across the country the very second you’re reading this. A lot of people are uncomfortable receiving compliments. Or they don’t think they deserve them. Or they think that accepting them will make them sound arrogant.

Here’s the thing, though. (Yeah, yeah, there’s always a thing.) Compliments aren’t just about the receipt thereof. The giver of the compliment is putting him or herself out there as well. A compliment says, “I see something in you, and I’m proud of that, and want to share it with you.” It says, “I want to make you feel good.” It says, “Here’s a gift of positivity.”

By rejecting a compliment, what you’re saying, in essence, is, “Your judgment is bad.” “I’m not taking you seriously.” “I don’t want your gift.”

When a compliment is rejected, the person who gave it feels disappointment. He or she also feels kind of sorry for you. Negative energy all around.

So here’s an idea. It might take practice, but next time someone compliments you, just say, “Thank you!” That doesn’t necessarily mean you agree with it. It just means you are appreciating that that person took the time to see something good in you and speak up about it. Simple. Everyone’s happy.

Let’s spread some positivity around today. Give a compliment to the next person you see. Who knows? Maybe after a while those compliments will sink in. There’s no downside.

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[Image credit:]

Fortune Cookies

I’ve never liked fortune cookies. They always taste stale to me, and I don’t really like slips of paper inside my food. And here lately, any fortune would probably smack of cruel irony, so I’ll pass.

It’s amazing how resistant my friends are to me choosing not to partake in the whole fortune cookie thing. They almost seem offended, or at best confused, by my decision. There’s usually an attempt to force one on me.

It reminds me of when people are drinking alcohol and I just want ginger ale. It’s as if I’m raining on their parade, or they can’t enjoy themselves unless everyone in their presence is similarly tipsy. I don’t get it.

It also reminds me of the time my late sister caught me only mouthing the words as others sang happy birthday to someone. (You really don’t want to hear me sing. Trust me.) Because of that she tried to make me sing it by myself, as everyone looked on. Once she realized the crowd didn’t find that idea as funny as she did, and were in fact uncomfortable by the concept,  she backed off.

Things like this make me more sympathetic to people who like to march to the beat of a different drummer. I try really hard not to bully or embarrass those who are not following the crowd. They have their reasons and have every right to their preferences. At least I hope I’m sensitive to those situations. I hope I’m supportive.

One of the highest compliments I’ve ever gotten was from my late boyfriend. He said, “You are the only woman who lets me be myself. I’m so comfortable with you.” That meant a lot to me, because it’s something I try to live by.

Let it be.


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How to Become a Battered Woman

My whole life I’ve looked at battered women with sadness and pity, but I have to admit that I always viewed them with a certain level of disdain. I’d never let that happen to me. Never. How do you get in that position? How do you let someone disrespect you like that, harm you like that, and yet not walk away? I could never put up with that from anyone.

But I learned a very hard lesson recently, one that makes me look at battered women in a whole new light. What I’ve never realized is that it’s a quiet, creeping progression. It’s not like a woman gets beaten on the first date and decides that she’s going to live with that person happily ever after. No. You start off as one person, and somehow, slowly over time, you change. Then one day you look up and you say to yourself, “How did I get here?”

You see, it starts off so well at first. You are swept off your feet. You are charmed. You think you’ve found “the one”. You feel loved and protected and cherished and more attractive than you’ve ever felt in your whole life. Your heart is overflowing with happiness, and you dare to dream that you may actually have a bright future to look forward to after all. It’s like winning the lottery when you’ve never even had the confidence to buy a ticket.

That honeymoon stage can go on for a long time. Long enough to really get you hooked. And then one day he breaks through the first boundary. He loses his temper. But not like a typical couple’s quarrel. It’s epic. And all the more so because you never expected that he was capable of such behavior. What happened to the guy you fell in love with? You are kind of in shock. You don’t really know what to think. And the next day he acts as if nothing has happened.

You almost wonder if you imagined it. You make excuses. He was tired. You really were wrong. Everyone has a bad day now and then. Maybe you’re making too much of it. But there have been warning signs. He has spoken of other friends or relatives with anger, and he seems to hold on to that anger without ever moving on. But up until now, it was never directed at you.

Things settle down for a few days, maybe a week, and you really start to think it was just an anomaly. Then it happens again. Only this time, he says something that really, really hurts you. He picks something you’re vulnerable about and he sticks an emotional fork into it and twists. Boundary number two.

This time you’re pretty sure that you did nothing to deserve this. You didn’t realize he felt this way about you. You start to wonder about him, and how he can be so cruel. He saw you cry. He knows he hurt you. You wait for an apology, but it never comes.

The next few days he’s really, really nice to you. He gives you compliments. He makes you feel like you are the most wonderful person in the world. In the back of your mind you try to reconcile this with the cruel things he said earlier, but you can’t.

You tell yourself that he’s being really, really nice because he feels horrible about his behavior, and this is his way of apologizing. Not everyone is good at coming right out and saying things. Men, particularly, are not known for communicating feelings. So maybe this is how he does it. And as he showers you with compliments, you think this is good enough.

But over time, he shows his temper more quickly and more often. You find yourself thinking ahead so that you can avoid things that are likely to set him off. He hates the way you drive, so you let him drive. He wants the towels folded a certain way in the linen closet, and really, is that such a big deal? So you fold them his way.

As you start to accumulate more rules, your ability to function effectively becomes more and more compromised. For instance, he hates to be reminded of things as he’s heading out the door, so even though you know he’s going to forget something, you are hesitant to remind him. But then, he also hates forgetting things, so you are damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Another item on your decision tree is, “Has he started drinking yet?” If yes, abort inquiry.

Don’t misunderstand. You are no shrinking violet. You are not passive during his rages. When he shouts, you learn to shout back. Maybe you even kick him out of the house. But eventually you take him back, because the good times are so good. And he misses you. And maybe you feel sorry for him. You definitely feel sorry for yourself.

It doesn’t help that he can paint such pretty pictures of what your life will be like together. If this one hurdle can be jumped over, everything is going to be so great. The implication being that now he’s under a lot of pressure, but once things get better, he will get better too.

But his behavior is changing. He’s starting to learn from you. He begins to know what things really cause you pain. Do you hate to be considered stupid? Then brace yourself, because he will certainly make you feel stupid when he’s angry. Do you love your dogs more than life itself? Then he will hate your dogs and everything about your dogs and he will imply that you’re stupid for even having dogs.

Then one day he rages about your housekeeping skills, and your first thought is, “Great, now here’s a whole new set of rules, and I’m never going to be able to keep track of them all.” You look forward to a lifetime of desperately trying to keep everything neat as a pin to avoid conflict, and the concept exhausts you.

And the worst part is you watch him behave decently to total strangers, so you know he’s capable of decency. He just chooses to not behave that way with you. Why? What did you do to deserve this? He’ll be happy to tell you. This is all your fault. Nothing you do is right. You aren’t trying hard enough. You are hypersensitive. You’re crazy. You’re the one. And you start to wonder if that may be true.

Unfortunately, by now you can’t talk to anyone about it. You’re too embarrassed and ashamed. You don’t want to scare off your friends, and your family won’t understand why you don’t simply walk away. So you’re completely and utterly alone without any positive validation.

Then one day, finally, he loses it in front of a witness. Boundary number three. Maybe he shouts at you in the driveway in front of the neighbor. And you see the look of shock in that neighbor’s eyes. You remember that look. You used to get that look at first. And suddenly you realize that you are no longer shocked. You’re used to it. You have come to expect it. It has become the norm. When did that happen?

In between all the bad times, though, there are still very good times. And those become all the more precious and poignant because you don’t know when the next bad time will come along. You cling to those good times. You never want to let them go.

Therein lies the problem. In order to hold on to those good times, you have to hold onto the man, and unfortunately the bad times are also part of the man. You feel a thick blanket of depression descend upon you, because you begin to twist yourself into knots trying to figure out a way to accentuate the positive and avoid the negative. You convince yourself that if you can only come up with the right combination of…whatever it is, maybe you’ll get to keep the good guy and the bad guy will go away. But you can’t find that combination, and you therefore feel yourself sinking down into a depressing status quo.

And then one day he crosses boundary number four. A chair gets thrown. Oh, not at you. You’re probably not even in the room. And thank God your dogs aren’t there, either. But you hear the crash, you feel the fury, and you are terrified. Terrified in your own home. Because what happens when he crosses boundary number five?

It is easy to imagine what boundary number five would be like. I will never know if that boundary would have been crossed, because I chose to end things. I’d like to think that it wouldn’t have been crossed because he had no history of ever doing so, but the fact that I couldn’t be sure is what gave me the strength to walk away.

And even though intellectually I know I did the right thing, the insane thing is that I still feel as if I’m going off heroin cold turkey. I miss the good stuff. It was better than anything I’ve ever experienced in my life. I’m in mourning for those pretty pictures of a future that I’ll never have, I’m terrified about how I’ll make it on my own, I practically have a panic attack when thinking of facing the holidays all alone, and I’m lonely to the point of physical pain. I feel lacerated, and I wonder if I’ll ever heal.

I have been to the rim of the abyss and I’ve looked down into it. I didn’t like what I saw. Because of that, I will never ever look at a battered woman with disdain again. Even though I’ve never been beaten myself (thank God), now I understand. I get it.


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