SPA v44.0 Launch is Live

Every birthday, I dust off this old gem, read over it, trim a bit here, add a bit there and repost it.  It is my way of keeping in check with what I have decided is who I want to be.  The whole process takes a week, I read and reread, I think about what is missing, how I want the words to read and what I want them to convey.  This year, along with the slight editing, I added a new “Exercise and Skin Care” paragraph.  I am very disciplined about both.  I have this one body and it needs to last at least another 50 years and hopefully run at peak performance for most of it.  Every year, I also take a current photo, I like how much I look like my bitstrips guy right now, so I split-screened it.20140119_125101“What I Have Learned So Far”

I’ve learned that it’s taking me a long time to become the person I want to be. I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I want to continue to grow and change and progress until I die.  I do not ever want to rest on my laurels, get set in my ways, do something a specific way for no other reason that I have always done it that way.  I want to be routinely evaluating my choices to see if they still match with the person I am and the person I am on my way to becoming.  We can all do that, think about what is important to you and then reflect at the end of the day, as you drift off to sleep, to see if you accomplished it.  It is really less of a score card and more of a reminder for the next day.  Did you possess compassion whenever possible and applicable?  Did you express gratitude to your friends and family for being able to share each other’s life?

I’ve learned that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.  The past is nothing we can control and it can color who we are, but we can make the decision to be anything we set our minds to.  Create your identity, do not let it be assigned to you.  The traumas of our childhoods can easily make us into “victims” or “survivors” and we can hide behind that identity for the rest of our lives if we desire.  That trauma happened a long time ago and is over, to continue the trauma is your choice, but it does not give you a free pass to poor behavior.  It is a long struggle to be able to recognize you are worth good things happening to you, once you allow that thought to enter your consciousness, you start to let go of the past.

I’ve learned that we don’t have to change friends if we understand that friends change. Sometimes, our paths run right along each other at the same speed, seeing the same sights.  Then our paths may separate, but that does not erase our history and the reasons why we first became friends.  We all understand that we change, so thinking that our friends shouldn’t is unreasonable.

I’ve learned that money is a horrible way of keeping score.  Money does not make you better or worse than anyone, it is an instrument.  Like any other instrument, it can be used in a million different ways.  The most beautiful concerto can be played on an old piano just as easily as the keys of a Steinway can be smashed with a mallet.  Find something you are passionate about and devote your extra money to it’s promotion.  Make your money work for you as hard as you worked for it.  Keep the circle of energy flowing.

I’ve learned that two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different. “I say tomato, you say tomato. Let’s call the whole thing off. But oh! If we call the whole thing off, then we must part. And oh! If we ever part, then that might break my heart!”  The Gershwins were on to something.  Learning to not be so arrogant that your way is the right and only way will take you far in love and life.  The ability to see things from different perspectives, even if you disagree with those perspectives is a valuable skill.

I’ve learned that you can get by on charm and looks for only so long.  After that, you’d better know something.  This does not always seem true and maybe the length can stretch out for years, but in the end the boys and girls will stop turning their heads when you pass, so you better at least have some good stories of your youth to retell.  There is nothing wrong with physical charm, but giving it any weight and worth as a way to judge yourself or others is a mistake.  It is just a roll of the DNA dice. It does not matter how attractive a person is if they are ugly on the inside.  Everyone has a unique talent or gift in life.  Personally, I have always been drawn to people that have an ability to tell a story, that have a talent of finding humor everywhere, and people that know that life is an ongoing journey of exploration.  It is a physical attraction, an attraction to a glow or fire or something that people possess inside.  Have you ever tried having a conversation with nice biceps and teeth? Exactly.

I’ve learned that you shouldn’t compare yourself to the best others can do. We all have our talents, we all have our accomplishments, and for the most part, they are unique to us. Comparing yourself to the best parts of others will of course cause you to feel inferior.  The exercise in being proud of and happy for your friend’s success is a hard one.  It is hard to remove your jealousy or envy.  When you are able to do it, however, you become a better friend and a better person.  If you still cannot remove yourself from the equation, think about how awesome you are for choosing such talented and successful friends.  We can be happy when our friend’s are successful, no matter what Morrissey says.

I’ve learned that you can keep going long after you can’t.  It applies to running, it applies to life.  It is always darkest before the dawn for a reason, so you appreciate the dawn all the more.  Heartbreak and disappointment are horrible and painful, they can tear you into pieces from which you think you can never reassemble.  You can, and in time, you will.  That ability is one of the most exciting and unique parts of being human: resilience.  Knowing that life right now is hard, but having the memory and perspective that none of it is permanent and situations will change.  “Don’t give up, I know you can make it good.”

I’ve learned that just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have.  Learning to understand their language may make the difference between feeling loved and feeling neglected.  Getting mad because someone doesn’t love you the way you want to be loved is like getting mad because the IKEA furniture assembly instructions are only in Swedish.  You can either try to translate and understand the IKEA instructions or you can shop somewhere with different instruction inserts.  Complaining will not bring you any closer to assembling that chair.

I’ve learned that either you control your attitude or it controls you.  Every second of every day, we have the choice on how we are going to behave.  We can fly off the handle at the slightest things or we can choose to not let them ruin our day.  How we react and behave to every day situations is completely in our control.  Our past experiences may point us in a knee-jerk direction, but they have no actual power over us today.  Choose an attitude that would make you proud of the person you are.  If it does not feel natural to behave that way, fake it, eventually, it will become part of you.  I am a strong believer in the school of “Fake it ’till you make it.” I am a result of that philosophy.  I didn’t like something about me or recognized something about me that didn’t work, thought about how I could do it differently, and consciously did it that way going forward.  It did not immediately feel natural, but eventually, it became a part of me.  It is like diet and exercise for your character, it is hard and strenuous, but eventually, it becomes who you are.  Anger is ego, we all know this.  That person that cut you off in traffic did not do it to you because of who you are, they just did it.  It didn’t happen to you, it just happened, don’t take it so personally that it changes your mood.  Don’t hold onto it, that energy is undirected and wasted.

I’ve learned that heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences. The title of “Hero” has been been attributed to so many people in so many ways that it’s meaning has been diluted.  For this, I mean a person whose courage and strength I admire.  Heroes are quite often not popular or even liked at the time, usually because their actions cause discomfort and disruption.  Heroes see how the world can be a better place and do their best to change it.  For the most part, actors, athletes, popular musicians, and politicians are bad choices as personal heroes, there are plenty of examples why.

I’ve learned that you cannot make someone love you.  All you can do is be someone who can be loved. The rest is up to them.  Learning and accepting that you cannot control how other people feel or react to your feelings is freeing.  I have learned to not withhold my feelings due to fear of them not being matched with equal strength from the other person.  Feelings are not discounted just because they are not returned.  Love and affection require expression to attain it’s full potential, they need air around them to grow.  It is crucial that you allow the organic nature of your feeling to exist and not squelch or play down them in any way. Washington Irving wrote, “Love is never lost. If not reciprocated, it will flow back and soften and purify the heart.”  Take a chance, take a leap, the air rushing under your feet will do you good.

I’ve learned that it’s not what you have in your life but who you have in your life that counts. Everyone knows this.  Your job and your stuff you love will never give you a ride to the airport or love you back. Your things you have will not bring you love.  That BMW will get you attention that at first may seem a lot like love, but it is probably more like envy. The people you touch in your life may not sit impressively on your mantle or fill up your checking account, but they will hold your hand when you cry and bring you soup when you are sick. In life, the immeasurable out-values all. There are no price tickets attached to love, devotion, friendship, and loyalty.

I’ve learned that no matter how much I care, some people just don’t care back. None of this changes how I should feel.  Zelda Fitzgerald is quoted as saying, “I don’t want to live — I want to love first, and live incidentally.”  I find myself thinking of this quote often and understanding it to mean that we need love to live, that we should approach life as a series of opportunities to love.  Everyone has been on both sides of this coin at one point in life: the lover and the loved.  It sucks and I hate it, but at the same time, there is a real rawness to heartbreak that is the purest of emotions.  That emotion has no ulterior motives, no hidden agendas that it hopes by creating one, another will follow.  It is pure loss, pure ache, and purely human. No matter how horrible it is, you feel so alive and wonderful knowing that you possess such capacity for feeling.

I’ve learned that you should always leave loved ones with loving words.  It may be the last time you see them.  Bring everyone you meet a gift.  This obviously does not mean a physical item wrapped with a bow, it could be a compliment, a touch, a smile.  Do not leave things unsaid for fear of over exposing your heart.  Your heart functions best when exposed raw to the air, it expands and produces more than ever imaginable.  This applies too even if you were thinking about someone during the day, send them a text or email to tell them.  Keep communications open, don’t let too much time pass.

**New For SPA v44.0**

Move.  Motivate.  Moisturize.  Do your best to create and maintain healthy habits.  I know that when I am not physically active, running, lifting weights, I feel depressed.  My body feels depressed and out of sorts when I do miss more than a couple days at the gym.  It’s because it’s my body’s habit to be active, to experience an elevated heart rate, to stretch and push the boundaries of my musculature.  I feel so much better having gone to the gym.  That does not mean that I am always super excited about going to the gym.  My motivation for keeping a regular gym habit is elevated energy/mood, stress management, strength as I age, and vanity.  Do not underestimate the power of vanity, when harnessed for good, it can accomplish a lot.  Moisturizing falls under the Gym/Motivate/Vanity tab and plays a part in taking care of yourself.  I hope that I can live at least another 50 years (who knows what science will have done by then?) and I want those 50 years to be healthy active ones.  It is my job to keep myself in the best shape I can.

manifesto_white_facebook

I chronicle what inspires me at Waldina.com
I faceplace at facebook.com/parkeranderson
I store my selfies at instagram.com/therealspa#
I tumblr at waspandpear.tumblr.com/
I tweet at twitter.com/TheRealSPA
I ADN at alpha.app.net/spa

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It Just Got Personal (Day) – A Running Update

I planned this personal day a couple weeks ago, and by planned, I mean I requested a personal day a couple weeks ago because “The Company” blacks out the last ten weeks of the year and the last two weeks in September.  “The Company” has a use-or-lose policy on personal and sick days and since I have lost in previous years, I chose use this time.  That, however, is where the planning stopped.

I did get a text message from “The Company” at 8:57am asking me where the light bulbs are.  Before I had the chance of feeling proud of myself for ignoring the text, I received a follow up text letting me know “The Company” found the light bulbs.

I am getting out of bed now and have decided to update this post as the day progresses, so keep checking back, hit refresh, or whatever.  (It’s like I am that annoying facebook friend who blows up your news feed with a play-by-play machine gun status updates, but I’m not a dick and I just put it in digest form and leave you to your uninterrupted viewing of photos of cats that really have no reason to be so displeased with everything always.)  Let’s see where the day takes us.  I will add links to the various internet portal places that things get sent when things happen and are being documented below.  Add, subscribe, follow.  Or don’t.  I’m sure you are busy living your life.  Why don’t you love me?!

[SPOILER ALERT:  The day may include IKEA and footage of me jumping in what I am guessing will be a very cold lake]

Rear View Mirror – My Week in Review

I had this week off from work.  Here is a list of some of the things I did and learned:

  • Visited a forest fire.
  • Jumped in the Columbia River fully clothed (including phone and wallet) to rescue my car keys.
  • Picked cherries.
  • Had an early bird dinner with five 80+ year olds.
  • Eighty year olds are gossips, they talk about who has died, marijuana, and  facebook.
  • Putting your water-logged cell phone in a bag of rice really does fix it.
  • Went to Ikea.
  • Unpacked, clothes, books, and furniture.
  • Walked home from downtown twice.
  • Decided against having a yard sale.
  • Went to the lake house.
  • Celebrated Rick’s Birthday.
  • Skipped the gym.
  • Bought new running shoes.
  • Became obsessed with “Orphan Black.”
  • Accidentally watched most of the “Little House on the Prairie” episode where Albert becomes a morphine addict.
  • Probably decided on what/where my next tattoos will be.

I am sure I am forgetting things, but I was on vacation.  Over at Waldina, we celebrated Rudolph Valentino, Barbara Stanwyck, Oscar Niemeyer, Lucille Ball, and Rick’s birthday.  While over at Wasp & Pear, we obsessed over Myrna Loy, Jack Lemmon, minimalist movie posters, abandoned places (of course and always), and vintage photographs.

Waldina Stats:

  • Subscribers:  200
  • Total Hits:  92,811
  • Top Posts:  Happy Birthday Rick, James Dean, Doris Duke

Wasp & Pear Stats:

  • Subscribers:  76
  • Top PostKeith Haring
  • Reblogs:  15/week

Rear View Mirror: My Week

20130526-110232.jpg

I didn’t take a lot of photos this week, but this one was by accident. It is of the counter at Vox Coffee (6th & University) when I was buying a coffee yesterday)

This week, Muffy Bolding chatted up and posted two of my entries from Waldina.  It is always such a shock when someone who’s creativity I admire and enjoy so much takes notice of my little old three-ring-circus blog.  She is an absolute dear friend and you are absolutely lacking in your life if you have not subscribed to her blog HERE.  She gets it.  And you can too.  But out of her wonderful PR, I got four new blog subscribers.  I am not sure if it was because of her that Wasp & Pear also got more followers, but I will give her the credit anyhow.

Waldina is where I chronicle what inspires me and Wasp & Pear is where I archive what inspires me, subtle differences in definition, but with very different feels.  I am sure it is because at Waldina. I know that everyone that has subscribed is receiving an email per post and I respect that, I do not wish to blow up their in-boxes with emails.  Waldina is the one-a-day multi-vitamin.  Whereas over at Wasp & Pear, I have a schedule of at least two posts a day from my stable of queued content as well as any posts I make that day (articles I found interesting, instagram photos, I can even send quasi-tweets to the feed).  Wasp & Pear is much less structured than Waldina is when it comes to having a style/feel, it’s really a scrapbook-journal-blog.  Hence, the archival designation.

I mostly watched youtube reviews of the Nexus 4 phone and read articles about my hometown cutting teacher positions, I will spare you.

We went to Ikea on Saturday, it was painless.  I bought some fabric and recovered the window seat that same night.  Yes, I just admitted to recovering a window seat on Saturday night.  Alone.  While watching “The Glades” on netflix streaming.  Just when you are thinking that I am all kinds of grandpa, I should also add that earlier, I did a little comparison shopping for adult three-wheeled bikes online.  They seem so cool with their big basket for stuff.  I just wish they were multi-speed options.

I think I will leave you with that mental image of me…

SPA v43.0 Launch.

Every birthday, I drag out this old nugget, read it over, add/delete/edit anything that needs changing to match how I feel now and post it as my birthday gift to you. Since today is my 43rd birthday, here it is.

taken 1/19/2013

taken 1/19/2013

“What I Have Learned So Far”

I’ve learned that it’s taking me a long time to become the person I want to be. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I want to continue to grow and change and progress until I die. I do not ever want to rest on my laurels, get set in my ways, do something a specific way for no other reason that I have always done it that way. I want to be routinely evaluating my choices to see if they still match with the person I am and the person I am on my way to becoming. We can all do that, think about what is important to you and then reflect at the end of the day, as you drift off to sleep, to see if you accomplished it. It is really less of a score card and more of a reminder for the next day. Did you possess compassion whenever possible and applicable? Did you express gratitude to your friends and family for being able to share each other’s life?

I’ve learned that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become. The past is nothing we can control and it can color who we are, but we can make the decision to be anything we set our minds to. Create your identity, do not let it be assigned to you. The traumas of our childhoods can easily make us into “victims” or “survivors” and we can hide behind that identity for the rest of our life if we desire. That trauma happened a long time ago and is over, your choice to continue the trauma is your choice, but it does not give you a free pass to poor behavior. It is a long struggle to be able to recognize you are worth good things happening to you, once you allow that thought to enter your consciousness, you start to let go of the past.

I’ve learned that we don’t have to change friends if we understand that friends change. Sometimes, our paths run right along each other at the same speed, seeing the same sights. Then our paths may separate, but that does not erase our history and the reasons why we first became friends. We all understand that we change, so thinking that our friends should not is unreasonable.

I’ve learned that money is a horrible way of keeping score. Money does not make you better or worse than anyone, it is an instrument. Like any other instrument, it can be used in a million different ways. The most beautiful concerto can be played on an old piano just as easily as the keys of a Steinway can be smashed with a mallet. Find something you are passionate about and devote your extra money to it’s promotion. Make your money work for you as hard as you worked for it. Keep the circle of energy flowing.

I’ve learned that two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different. “I say tomato, you say tomato. Let’s call the whole thing off. But oh! If we call the whole thing off, then we must part. And oh! If we ever part, then that might break my heart!” The Gershwins were on to something. Learning to not be so arrogant that your way is the right and only way will take you far in love and life.

I’ve learned that you can get by on charm and looks for only so long. After that, you’d better know something. This does not always seem true and maybe the length can stretch out for years, but in the end the boys and girls will stop turning their heads when you pass, so you better at least have some good stories of your youth to retell. There is nothing wrong with physical charm, but giving it any weight and worth as a way to judge yourself or others is a mistake. It is just a roll of the DNA dice. It does not matter how attractive a person is if they are ugly on the inside. Everyone has a unique talent or gift in life. Personally, I have always been drawn to people that have an ability to tell a story, that have a talent of finding humor everywhere, and people that know that life is an ongoing journey of exploration. It is a physical attraction, an attraction to a glow or fire or something that people possess inside. Have you ever tried having a conversation with nice biceps and teeth? Exactly.

I’ve learned that you shouldn’t compare yourself to the best others can do. We all have our talents, we all have our accomplishments, and for the most part, they are unique to us. Comparing yourself to the best parts of others will of course cause you to feel inferior. The exercise in being proud of and happy for your friend’s success is a hard one. It is hard to remove your jealousy or envy. When you are able to do it, however, you become a better friend and a better person. If you still cannot remove yourself from the equation, think about how awesome you are for choosing such talented and successful friends. We can be happy when our friend’s are successful, no matter what Morrissey says.

I’ve learned that you can keep going long after you can’t. It applies to running, it applies to life. It is always darkest before the dawn for a reason, so you appreciate the dawn all the more. Heartbreak and disappointment are horrible and painful, they can tear you into pieces from which you think you can never reassemble. You can, and in time, you will. That ability is one of the most exciting and unique parts of being human: resilience. Knowing that life right now is hard, but having the memory and perspective that none of it is permanent and situations will change. “Don’t give up, I know you can make it good.”

I’ve learned that just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have. Learning to understand their language may make the difference between feeling loved and feeling neglected. Getting mad because someone doesn’t love you the way you want to be loved is like getting mad because the IKEA furniture assembly instructions are only in German. You can either try to translate and understand the IKEA instructions or you can shop somewhere with different instruction inserts. Complaining will not bring you any closer to having a chair.

I’ve learned that either you control your attitude or it controls you. Every second of every day, we have the choice on how we are going to behave. We can fly off the handle at the slightest things or we can choose to not let them ruin our day. How we react and behave to every day situations is completely in our control. Our past experiences may point us in a knee-jerk direction, but they have no actual power over us today. Choose an attitude that would make you proud of the person you are. If it does not feel natural to behave that way, fake it, eventually, it will become part of you. I am a strong believer in the school of “Fake it ’till you make it.” I am a result of that philosophy. I didn’t like something about me or recognized something about me that didn’t work, thought about how I could do it differently, and consciously did it that way going forward. It did not immediately feel natural, but eventually, it became a part of me. It is like diet and exercise for your character, it is hard and strenuous, but eventually, it becomes who you are. Anger is ego, we all know this. That person that cut you off in traffic did not do it to you because of who you are, they just did it. It didn’t happen to you, it just happened, don’t take it so personally that it changes your mood. Don’t hold onto it, that energy is undirected and wasted.

I’ve learned that heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences. The title of “Hero” has been been attributed to so many people in so many ways that it’s meaning has been diluted. For this, I mean a person whose courage and strength I admire. Heroes are quite often not popular or even liked at the time, usually because their actions cause discomfort and disruption. Heroes see how the world can be a better place and do their best to change it. For the most part, actors, athletes, popular musicians, and politicians are bad choices as personal heroes, there are plenty of examples why.

I’ve learned that you cannot make someone love you. All you can do is be someone who can be loved. The rest is up to them. Learning and accepting that you cannot control how other people feel or react to your feelings is freeing. I have learned to not withhold my feelings due to fear of them not being matched with equal strength from the other person. Feelings are not discounted just because they are not returned. Love and affection require expression to attain it’s full potential, they need air around them to grow. It is crucial that you allow the organic nature of your feeling to exist and not squelch or play down them in any way. Washington Irving wrote, “Love is never lost. If not reciprocated, it will flow back and soften and purify the heart.” Take a chance, take a leap, the air rushing under your feet will do you good.

I’ve learned that it’s not what you have in your life but who you have in your life that counts. Everyone knows this. Your job and your stuff you love will never give you a ride to the airport or love you back. Your things you have will not bring you love. That BMW will get you attention that at first may seem a lot like love, but it is probably more like envy. The people you touch in your life may not sit impressively on your mantle or fill up your checking account, but they will hold your hand when you cry and bring you soup when you are sick. In life, the immeasurable out-values all. There are no price tickets attached to love, devotion, friendship, and loyalty.

I’ve learned that no matter how much I care, some people just don’t care back. None of this changes how I should feel. Zelda Fitzgerald is quoted as saying, “I don’t want to live — I want to love first, and live incidentally.” I find myself thinking of this quote often and understanding it to mean that we need love to live, that we should approach life as a series of opportunities to love. Everyone has been on both sides of this coin at one point in life: the lover and the loved. It sucks and I hate it, but at the same time, there is a real rawness to heartbreak that is the purest of emotions. That emotion has no ulterior motives, no hidden agendas that it hopes by creating one, another will follow. It is pure loss, pure ache, and purely human. No matter how horrible it is, you feel so alive and wonderful knowing that you possess such capacity for feeling.

I’ve learned that you should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time you see them. Bring everyone you meet a gift. This obviously does not mean a physical item wrapped with a bow, it could be a compliment, a touch, a smile. Do not leave things unsaid for fear of over exposing your heart. Your heart functions best when exposed raw to the air, it expands and produces more than ever imaginable. This applies too even if you were thinking about someone during the day, send them a text or email to tell them. Keep communications open, don’t let too much time pass.


Five Things You Didn’t Know You Can Recycle – And 1 You Can’t

5 Things You Didn’t Know You Can Recycle – And 1 You Can’t – Environmental Media Association.

There are plenty of clever ways to reduce the amount of things we throw away. While recycling is a big one, we can also upcycle, reuse, and donate. Below are five items  that (most of us didn’t know) can be recycled – and the one item that can’t.

1.  Compact fluorescent bulbs:  Take these to IKEA – they’ll recycle them for you.

2.  Appliances: Goodwill accepts working appliances, http://www.goodwill.org, or you can contact the Steel Recycling Institute to recycle them. 800/YES-1-CAN, http://www.recycle-steel.org.

3.  Carpet can be recycled if it is clean and usable.

4.  Old blankets, towels, and sheets can be donated to animal shelters. They can be used as makeshift beds for dogs and cats!

5.  Aluminum foil! According to Earth911 you should always wash your aluminum foil to remove food particles before putting it in the recycling bin. You can also buy 100% recycled aluminum foil which uses five percent less energy than the traditional aluminum foil manufacturing process.

Now what about pizza boxes? Technically, a pizza box is made out of cardboard, and therefore, can be recycled. However, once the pizza inside the box gets on its surface – ie, sauce, cheese, grease, etc. – then the box is no longer recyclable. So there you have it.

SPA v42.0 is LIVE, fool!

Every birthday, I drag out this old nugget, read it over, add/delete/edit anything that needs changing to match how I feel now and post it as my birthday gift to you.  Since today is my 42nd birthday, here it is.

“What I Have Learned So Far”

I’ve learned that it’s taking me a long time to become the person I want to be. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I want to continue to grow and change and progress until I die. I do not ever want to rest on my laurels, get set in my ways, do something a specific way for no other reason that I have always done it that way. I want to be constantly evaluating my choices to see if they still match with the person I am and the person I am on my way to becoming. We can all do that, think about what is important to you and then reflect at the end of the day, as you drift off to sleep, to see if you accomplished it. It is really less of a score card and more of a reminder for the next day. Did you possess compassion whenever possible and applicable? Did you express gratitude to your friends and family for being able to share each other’s life?

I’ve learned that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become. The past is nothing we can control and it can color who we are, but we can make the decision to be anything we set our minds to. Create your identity, do not let it be assigned to you. The traumas of our childhoods can easily make us into “victims” or “survivors” and we can hide behind that identity for the rest of our life if we desire. That trauma happened a long time ago and is over, your choice to continue the trauma is your choice, but it does not give you a free pass to poor behavior.

I’ve learned that we don’t have to change friends if we understand that friends change. Sometimes, our paths run right along each other at the same speed, seeing the same sights. Then our paths may separate, but that does not erase our history and the reasons why we first became friends. We all understand that we change, so thinking that our friends should not is unreasonable.

I’ve learned that money is a horrible way of keeping score. Money does not make you better or worse than anyone, it is an instrument. Like any other instrument, it can be used in a million different ways. The most beautiful concerto can be played on an old piano just as easily as the keys of a Steinway can be smashed with a mallet. Find something you are passionate about and devote your extra money to it’s promotion. Make your money work for you as hard as you worked for it. Keep the circle of energy flowing.

I’ve learned that two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different. “I say tomato, you say tomato. Let’s call the whole thing off. But oh! If we call the whole thing off, then we must part. And oh! If we ever part, then that might break my heart!” The Gershwins were on to something. Learning to not be so arrogant that your way is the right and only way will take you far in love and life.

I’ve learned that you can get by on charm and looks for only so long.  After that, you’d better know something. This does not always seem true and maybe the length can stretch out for years, but in the end the boys and girls will stop turning their heads when you pass, so you better at least have some good stories of your youth to retell. There is nothing wrong with physical charm, but giving it any weight and worth as a way to judge yourself or others is a mistake. It is just a roll of the DNA dice. It does not matter how attractive a person is if they are ugly on the inside. Everyone has a unique talent or gift in life. Personally, I have always been attracted to people that have an ability to tell a story, that have a talent of finding humor everywhere, and people that know that life is an ongoing journey of exploration. It is a physical attraction, an attraction to a glow or fire or something that people possess inside. Have you ever tried having a conversation with nice biceps and teeth? Exactly.

I’ve learned that you shouldn’t compare yourself to the best others can do. We all have our talents, we all have our accomplishments, and for the most part, they are unique to us. Comparing yourself to the best parts of others will of course cause you to feel inferior. The exercise in being proud of and happy for your friend’s success is a hard one. It is hard to remove your jealousy or envy. When you are able to do it, however, you become a better friend and a better person. If you still cannot remove yourself from the equation, think about how awesome you are for choosing such talented and successful friends. We can be happy when our friend’s are successful, no matter what Morrissey says.

I’ve learned that you can keep going long after you can’t. It applies to running, it applies to life. It is always darkest before the dawn for a reason, so you appreciate the dawn all the more. Heartbreak and disappointment are horrible and painful, they can tear you into pieces from which you think you can never reassemble. You can, and in time, you will. That ability is one of the most exciting and unique parts of being human: resilience. Knowing that life right now is hard, but having the memory and perspective that none of it is permanent and situations will change. “Don’t give up, I know you can make it good.”

I’ve learned that just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have. Learning to understand their language may make the difference between feeling loved and feeling neglected. Getting mad because someone doesn’t love you the way you want to be loved is like getting mad because the IKEA furniture assembly instructions are only in German. You can either try to translate and understand the IKEA instructions or you can shop somewhere with different instruction inserts. Complaining will not bring you any closer to having a chair.

I’ve learned that either you control your attitude or it controls you. Every second of every day, we have the choice on how we are going to behave. We can fly off the handle at the slightest things or we can choose to not let them ruin our day. How we react and behave to every day situations is completely in our control. Our past experiences may point us in a knee-jerk direction, but they have no actual power over us today. Choose an attitude that would make you proud of the person you are. If it does not feel natural to behave that way, fake it, eventually, it will become part of you. I am a strong believer in the school of “Fake it ’till you make it.” I am a result of that philosophy. I didn’t like something about me or recognized something about me that didn’t work, thought about how I could do it differently, and consciously did it that way going forward. It did not immediately feel natural, but eventually, it became a part of me. It is like diet and exercise for your character, it is hard and strenuous, but eventually, it becomes who you are. Anger is ego, we all know this. That person that cut you off in traffic did not do it to you because of who you are, they just did it. It didn’t happen to you, it just happened, don’t take it so personally that it changes your mood. Don’t hold onto it, that energy is undirected and wasted.

I’ve learned that heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences. The title of “Hero” has been been attributed to so many people in so many ways that it’s meaning has been diluted. For this, I mean a person whose courage and strength I admire. Heroes are quite often not popular or even liked at the time, usually because their actions cause discomfort and disruption. Heroes see how the world can be a better place and do their best to change it.

I’ve learned that you cannot make someone love you. All you can do is be someone who can be loved. The rest is up to them. Learning and accepting that you cannot control how other people feel or react to your feelings is freeing. I have learned to not withhold my feelings due to fear of them not being matched with equal strength from the other person. Feelings are not discounted just because they are not returned. Love and affection require expression to attain it’s full potential, they need air around them to grow. It is crucial that you allow the organic nature of your feeling to exist and not squelch or play down them in any way. Washington Irving wrote, “Love is never lost. If not reciprocated, it will flow back and soften and purify the heart.”  Take a chance, take a leap, the air rushing under your feet will do you good.

I’ve learned that it’s not what you have in your life but who you have in your life that counts. Everyone knows this. Your job and your stuff you love will never love you back. Your things you have will not bring you love. That BMW will get you attention that at first may seem a lot like love, but it is probably more like envy.  The people you touch in your life may not sit impressively on your mantle or fill up your checking account, but they will hold your hand when you cry and bring you soup when you are sick. In life, the immeasurable out-values all. There are no price tickets attached to love, devotion, friendship, and loyalty.

I’ve learned that no matter how much I care, some people just don’t care back. None of this changes how I should feel. Zelda Fitzgerald is quoted as saying, “I don’t want to live — I want to love first, and live incidentally.” I find myself thinking of this quote often and understanding it to mean that we need love to live, that we should approach life as a series of opportunities to love. Everyone has been on both sides of this coin at one point in life: the lover and the loved. It sucks and I hate it, but at the same time, there is a real rawness to heartbreak that is the purest of emotions. That emotion has no ulterior motives, no hidden agendas that it hopes by creating one, another will follow. It is pure loss, pure ache, and purely human. No matter how horrible it is, you feel so alive and wonderful knowing that you possess such capacity for feeling.

I’ve learned that you should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time you see them. Bring everyone you meet a gift. This obviously does not mean a physical item wrapped with a bow, it could be a compliment, a touch, a smile. Do not leave things unsaid for fear of over exposing your heart. Your heart functions best when exposed raw to the air, it expands and produces more than ever imaginable. This applies too even if you were thinking about someone during the day, send them a short note to tell them. Keep communications open, don’t let too much time pass.