Last Conversation with My Dad

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Last year in the last week of may was the last time I heard my father’s voice. I was in Paris with girlfriends and then had ny husband join me for a couple of days to celebrate our anniversary. It was the first time we left kids for that long to do this.  Granted, they were with their grandma.

My dad was in Paris to pick up his youngest son and bring him home to Zagreb. He planned to watch French Open so the only way he thought we could see each other was for me to come to the gates and message him from there to come meet me.  None the less, he was in Paris an entire week.

It took everything for me to say no to his proposal to meet him by the gates and not because I didn’t want to make an effort to see him but because for as long as I could remember, I was the only one making an effort. I thought this changed when he broke the streak of broken promises 2 years before this by coming for a weekend to meet my older son and spend some time with me.  I appreciated that very much, but the reality is, this was a rare moment and one of  few I can count in the past 30 years.

I decided to do what works not what I wanted.  French Open was in a completely different part of the town and had I gone there, I would’ve missed a chance to see Paris and I felt that I worked really hard to earn that trip. I was so mad because I really wanted to see him and introduce him to my husband.  And yet, I didn’t feel like it was ok to invest so much money, time and effort in celebrating my anniversary to set it all aside and adjust my schedule to my dad’s. I was mad that he didn’t want to find another way. He was mad that I didn’t accept his proposal and that I was mad and that was it. 

He never spoke to me again. I reached out a few times and then stopped. Some time in November I began to feel regret that we weren’t talking.  Then I realized, it wasn’t up to me.  I didn’t mind reaching out, but I think everyone eventually gets tired of trying.  I knew that in every possible way, I tried to be better, more understanding and forgiving.  I didn’t see any effort on my dad’s part.  On contrary, he always gave himself an out by saying: “I am the way I am” and by asking me to “let it go.”

I cried my eyes out over this that night.  If I wasn’t happily married, I would’ve felt completely unlovable.  In fact, from time to time my husband reminds me that he will not abandon me because that experience, even though from childhood, still felt ingrained in my mind.  I even did a family constellation session.  I thought, why not give it a shot to try to repair this relationship on a soul level.  My friend, and facilitator told me: your father is there for you on a soul level, but his body doesn’t know how to be.

On New Year’s day he sent me a message with greetings. I responded with a picture of my family. He wrote back that it was beautiful to see us. On my birthday, a few days later, he had a stroke he never woke up from.  I often wonder if my clearing had something to do with his sudden reaching out.  Did he know deep inside that something was going to happen.  Had he not, the last thing I would remember would be the fight with him from my expensive hotel room about him not willing to make time to see us.

Am I at peace?  most of the time. It’s bitter sweet. On one hand, I stood up for myself a year ago in Paris and broke the habit of always setting everything else aside when my dad is available.  I am glad I did that because I didn’t want my marriage to come second to my dad’s crazy expectations of me (that he doesn’t have of himself).  But I am sorry.  I am sorry I got mad and I am sorry that I couldn’t have it just wash off of me and leave no impact.  It’s silly that we get mad at people for being who they are.  My dad was being true to himself and whether or not that was enough for me, I have to accept it.

I could feel guilty but I am not going to.  I am writing this just to share because I often hear people beating themselves up over choices they made in the past.  The things is, the time is always now to make the right choice.  After that, the only choice we have is to make peace with it.  I made peace with mine.  I still and completely love my dad.  And I know he loved me. We had whatever time we had.  May he rest in peace and may my children never feel I am hard to get through to in any way.  This is not the end of grief, however, for me.  It’s merely a beginning ❤

How To Make Effective Requests

I learned this from one of the best coaches I had: “if your life doesn’t work, it’s because you suck at making requests.”  Little did I know though, I had so much to learn in how to make effective requests of people, ask in a way that honors them, myself and creates opportunity.

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Here is what NOT to do:

Pretend that what you are asking for is not a big deal for the other person

  • Nobody wants to be undermined for the effort that it takes to do something for another human being.  People often assume things are easy for others but this is not only untrue, even if it was true, it doesn’t mean we want to give away our time and effort to others just because

Give a lot of background story and explanation instead of asking for things straight

  • Nothing is as annoying than seeing someone’s elaborate intro that makes you feel like a request is coming but your time is being wasted by so much backstory you really don’t want to know about and not because you are a bad person but because you know: this person is not sharing to share, they are preparing for what’s to come: asking for a favor.  I am much more inclined to help the straight shooters because I feel that they own that they need help, they don’t waste my time in the process and then it’s easy for me to respond not feeling like I have already invested more than I bargained for in listening to the long story.  The only thing long story often does is guilts us into helping instead of helping us choose to help

Be resistant to hearing a NO

  • Most of us don’t like hearing a NO.  It is, however, everyone’s right to help us or not, so not giving them space to choose freely is a form of manipulation that doesn’t feel good.  Things like: “I am sorry I asked” and alike after you decline someone’s request are one of the worse experiences ever because they make us feel that we are only respected and honored when we say YES.  We are not really given that choice.

Being entitled to being helped

  • I once heard someone complain about her expenses blaming this person she knew who was wealthy for not stepping in to help her.  Couple of things are a problem here, one of them being: just because someone else has more, it doesn’t mean they have to give what they have away to people who don’t. In my experience, people that often seem like they are well off, are really not, their expenses may be higher or they work hard to have it so they can afford something else, not so they can give it to people who don’t make the same effort.  So entitlement is just no sexy, no matter where it’s coming from

Now, here is how to make an EFFECTIVE REQUEST:

  1. Work out all the reasons you deserve to be supported.  How can you justify this being given to you so that you can own it instead of having to dump it on others.  Deserving is a way of being, not a long story you tell, so it is up to you to do create this first
  2. Honor that another’s person consideration is valuable and enough.  Give people an experience that their time matters and ask with that in mind
  3. Honor people with clear request, don’t have them fish around for what you mean.  This allows people to easily determine if they can help or not
  4. Be mindful to express that whatever the answer, you will love them anyway; meaning, give people full permission to answer freely knowing that you will be ok regardless
  5. See what you can give return or at least think about how this can be an opportunity for the other person instead of just something you gain.  Everything balances in the Universe and affects one another so being able to see what the other person can gain (even if it’s just a satisfaction of helping you or seeing you humbled) is appreciated

Then and only then make your request.  We need to ask, we need to practice this and we are bound to make mistakes, but this will help guide us when we do so that we don’t hold a grudge against people who say NO but rather reset and continue trying.

We can’t do it alone and nobody owes us.  If we can allow these two statements to live inside of us, we are bound to make effective requests and honor people with them such that their answer, no matter what it is, can be a WIN/WIN situation for all.

How To Help Our Mental Health at Least a Little

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A few weeks back, I got hooked on watching Suits with my husband.  I really enjoyed the first season and loved that we could binge watch the show as there was already 6 seasons available on amazon prime.  As a coach, I master manage my time, so initially, I would get my work done pretty fast to get back to TV and watch some more.  The beginning was inspiring to me, I liked the character development and would comment on it with my husband as we would relax for an hour or so before we go to sleep.

Then, naturally,  we started getting busier and we could no longer sit together and watch so my husband gave me a go ahead to watch on my own.  I watched it shamelessly: episode after episode, season after season.  I starting doing everything I possibly could do with a show in a background because at some point, and this often happens to me when I binge watch something, the show looses it’s charm, the plot loosens, things begin to be less believable and it gets very obvious that the writers are milking it.  All of this works because by season 3, most people are so in love with the characters, and for those of us who binge watch, curiosity trumps desire for quality and value.

But here is the thing, I pay attention to what I am thinking and how I am feeling, part of it is my job and I do that with others so I naturally do the same for myself.  The more I watched the show, the worse I felt about myself.  I often, when I get into a show like this and watch it for a couple of days, even dream about characters being in my life.  Luckily, I allow this to happen so rarely that I can just watch my experience almost like it’s not happening to me, appreciate that life is really not about sitting on a couch and watching someone else’s life but rather living your own.

Yet, I wonder, how many people give into show after show on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu or whatever else is out there and begin to slowly lose sense of living their own life.  I studied Film in my undergraduate and graduate studies and I truly appreciate what a piece of good writing for film and television can do and the message it can send to the masses, but I worry, I truly worry about our minds getting slowed down and sloppy over time.  I worry that watching fictional lives before our eyes has us not make an effort in our own.  Having a great life, accomplishing your dreams and having success requires an effort and I worry that getting used to stories presented to us makes us lazy thinkers.

Here is my truth, I watched the Suits for a few days, 6 seasons and 90 or so episodes I believe.  I want you to know, I felt it.  I felt the effects of being almost lost in my own life from being fed someone else’s story for such a long duration.  I had a couple of dreams with those characters in them and I definitely felt down on myself.  It’s been a bit more than a week that I stopped and I feel I snapped back into reality, but I worry that there are people out there who do this all the time.  And if so, it’s not surprising that things that we witness on news are happening, that people are losing their mental health and that the issue is seemingly out of control.

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Our minds are vulnerable and if we feed them information that makes us feel angry or paralyzed, it is easy to drift and feel a heavy heart.  I am not saying that this can prevent all the suicides and crimes that happen in the world, but I am sure that if we spent less time in front of the screens and more time with our feet in the grass looking at the sky, we will feel happier overall.  I know I feel really crappy after I eat junk food and watch stupid TV shows.  When I don’t, when I eat clean and read inspiring books, I inevitably feel high on life.  Sure, this is not an answer for everyone but it can sure help prevent an experience of despair and going down to rabbit hole to most of us.  As humans, we are vulnerable, so the more we work on feeding ourselves the good stuff, the better chances we have of staying sane.

What are you feeding your body, mind and soul with?

10 Reasons to Pay Your Own Bill when Dating

Where I come from, men pick up the tab.  They get “seemingly” offended if you even try to get the bill yourself.  Offering to split it is out of question as you are immediately labelled as cheap:  either pay it all up or shut up and let it be paid.  My culture, however, is not my reference but the years of working with individuals and couples on relationships is.

I remember talking to a friend from Montreal years ago and her complaining that men from Quebec don’t offer to pay the bill.  This was a turn off for her and she felt that, if they were not going to pay, she wouldn’t give them the time of the day.   I could relate to what she was saying as all throughout college and even graduate school, I really wanted and liked it when men picked up the tab when I went out with them.  The only difference was, I never waited for them to do it, I always offered to pay my part.youblur-close-up-cutlery-370984

Here is what I think some women don’t get:  men are human beings too and in the game of dating, it’s often not so much that they can’t pick up the tab, it’s that when they don’t just go for it, it tells them if the woman who is with them is just along for a free ride or she cares about him more deeply.  Whether or not you pay your part shows that.  And while so many women out there are coaching you on how to get the most out of men, here are 10 solid reasons to pay for your own shit:

  1. When you pick up your part, it shows you wanted to be there, you are willing to invest your time and money to spend the time with person.  While you may split or cover the bill once, doing it the second time is a proof of commitment: putting your money where your mouth is, so to speak
  2. You prove that you can’t be bought, you can order what you wish knowing you are treating yourself fully to this enjoyment.  If you are prepared to pay for it, you will never be disappointed
  3. You release the attachment and the desperation that comes from waiting for someone to pick up your bill or wondering throughout your time together about who will get it at the end
  4. You prove yourself to be feminist, that woman have a voice and can make all decisions the same way men can.  After all, aren’t most of us always trying to prove this to the world
  5. You are energetically invested, when you pay up, there is no guilt or even a remote wonder if you need to do something in return.  Your bills are paid and all is squared, everything that comes after that is a choice
  6. Men are impressed by women who take care of themselves and real men will respect it, even if they insist on paying
  7. You will release all those men who think their money can buy you and your attention, you will not be their player, you will be your own
  8. You will know if you want to do this again, because when it hurts your wallet, you get to be more mindful of how and with whom you spend your time
  9. You will leave the guy with an impression that you are stable, responsible, dependable and he will think much more highly of you
  10. You will never have an experience that you sold out for a glass of wine, or a 10 course dinner; no matter how big or small it is, selling out is selling out.

Hope these reasons make you reconsider waiting for a guy to pick up a tab.  Nobody is born in service of you.  This is such an archaic way of thinking and people who expect it are bound to be disappointed.  The more you expect the less you have ownership over your life and what happens in it.   When you take care of yourself, do your part, everything else is a bonus, it becomes much easier to live in gratitude and that is the energy that attracts men, money and good things your way.  Which one will you choose?

 

RIP Kate Spade

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Nobody will really know what happened that had Kate Spade decide to take her own life, especially not the public.  We make up stories about other people and live vicariously through the famous few.  Sadly.  I guess the effort to make our own lives work is more than it takes to plug into social media, TV or read newspapers.  We, then,  naturally live on sidelines and comment.
I glanced at the article today that read: “it’s lonely on the top”… What a way to frame what happened and tell a story that might have nothing to do with Kate’s story.  I don’t blame anyone who comments or writes because I can feel it, we are all impacted and we all need to process things our own way.  I am taking a moment myself to digest the fact that a 13 year old girl came home yesterday to find out her mom was gone and now she will know from her dad, papers, friends, etc, that she took her own life, because her mom’s life was public.  I can’t and don’t want to even imagine what that must be like for that little teenage girl.
What can cause someone who seems to be having resources, to not find a way through and out.  I never followed Kate’s life but if depression was the cause, is it possible she never reached out for help?  There is no shame in asking for help no matter how successful or unsuccessful you are. People are not meant to live alone and deal with everything alone, that is the assumption that is destroying lives.
People around me and I have dialed friends or hotlines in times when life felt painful. It doesn’t mean anything. It just means you need someone else to support you to see things you can’t see from where you are standing.  It’s not a shame and you may get a “no” a few times before someone says yes.  We have to find strength to keep on looking.
My grandma the other day told me she didn’t want to bother anyone. She is in her 80s and lost her husband and older son within a year and my uncle lives far away. I keep telling her to not hesitate to ask for what she needs, but I can hear it that it doesn’t come naturally to her.  When we are children and at the old age and any time in between when we are sick, we need support.  Please make that right.  Please allow yourself to ask for what you need and not be attached to where it comes from.
We can only give when we are full and we must be able to receive when we are not.  That is a flow of life.  There is nothing shameful about asking for help, needing something and reaching out.
In meantime, here is the

Call 1-800-273-8255
Available 24 hours everyday
When you allow someone to help you, you give them a gift of being someone who contributes.  We are all in this together.

A Sure Way to Screw up Any Relationship, Especially with a Man

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I’ve been watching Suits in the past weeks with my husband.  It all started with my being curious to figure out who the new Duchess really was as an actress because I didn’t have a clue.  Naturally now, I have my eyes on her character Rachel.  I must admit, I was “royally” annoyed by her from the get go, but somewhere in a middle of third season, I could find a clear strong why that I can actually blog about.
The relationship between Rachel and Mike Ross in a show is actually fairly complicated from the start.  The whole premise of Mike being a fraud in general is something that is not easy to carry in real life. Namely, there is no freedom when you know you have to hide.  Surely, this is fiction and the character of Mike had such a sad childhood losing both parents that will probably have audience sympathize with him. 
But here is what Rachel does that lots of women do (and men too probably):  she does what she wants and not what works.  Namely, when she cheats on Mike and he asks her for some space to deal with taking that image out of his head, she continually comes to talk to him to apologize, to explain, to convince him to forgive.  This is the opposite of giving someone space.  And by the way, I know what it’s like to be there, to feel so strongly about something that you feel you just simply must unload it to the person you love, but when someone asks us for space, what we need to give them is space.  
You see, when women say NO and a man keeps going at her anyway, we consider that abuse.  Consider that when a man asks you not to call, to give him space or alike, that not doing that is just as bad.  In fact, the more you do it, the more you are actually proving how selfish and undeserving of a second chance you really are.  People say I am sorry and insist on it to make themselves feel good, not because the “I am sorry” actually helps the other person.  Now, saying it is a good start, it shows you regret what you did and that is a good thing, but repeating “I am sorry” doesn’t repair the mistake made.  Time heals it and taking actions that show you are being different now do too.
Many women are driven by wanting a guarantee in relationships: “Oh, if he can just forgive me, then things can be back to normal,” or “if he promises me to be there, then I can just relax and will do better” etc.  This is normal.  Women need to feel safe in relationships and when that is compromised, we feel a little off balance.  Again, I have been there too.  But our being out of balance is still not a reason to not give someone else something they are asking for, in a case of Mike and Rachel, space.
I say this so often I feel like I am boring everyone, but rest assured, I can back it up with more than a decade of study: we don’t “find” people, we attract them.  So if relationship in front of us is not happening, we are the ones who need to change the dial, not them.  We can’t control other people no matter how tempting that may be.  It’s not possible.  The only thing we can shift is who we are and what we do.  If you want someone to give you a chance in life, when they ask you for space, you give them space.  By doing this, you are proving to be easy to be with, you take no effort and people are most likely going to be OK having you around.  If you keep on insisting on reasons why they should change their mind, even if they take you back, they will always know you are a “royal” pain in the butt and they will not like being around you, for the simple reason: you don’t let them be.
Men, I find, are really good in detecting women around them who allow them to be themselves, who make them look like heroes and the ones that make them feel like they are constantly falling short, and making them feel like what they are asking is not ok to ask for, as if they are wrong all the time.  So when a man says he wants something, no matter how you feel about it, let him have it and then go on and forgive yourself the mistake you made instead of running after him for forgiveness and approval.  If you can do that, something in that relationship may be possible.  Otherwise, it’s a matter of time when it will be over and it will definitely be a drag along the way.
It’s been a while since I actually had to sit on my hands when my fiance at the time, now husband, once asked me to give him a bit of time to forgive something I did.  I remember doing it.  It wasn’t easy but it gave him space to forgive me at his own pace and it gave me space to actually forgive myself because regardless of our relationship, that turned out awesome, my relationship to myself always comes first. 
Please share your comments and if you think someone would benefit by reading this, please share it.
PS I don’t endorse the show Suits.  I loved the first season but then it spiraled down in my view.  Watch it at your own risk 🙂

Missing grandma, understanding loss

Sharing this blog from 6 years ago as I am clearing my draft folder.  I found it just in time for grandma’s birthday next week.  I had a few losses after grandma passed and thought it would push my missing her aside.  It didn’t.  It merely reminded me that her spirit must be with me all the time.  Here is my blog:

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“I cannot sleep.  I keep thinking of grandma and how quickly she passed.  There really was never a right time for her to go, I am sure of it.  Even though I am 34 years old, I seriously never once got friendly with an idea that eventually people we love will die.

I am sure someone will read this blog and think how immature I am on the subject.  It’s probably surprising to so many that I am a queen of creating and manifesting things in life and that I am so deeply shaken by this loss.  And, I am.  I am shocked, shaken, heart broken and forever changed.

We become prisoners of guilt, perhaps, way too fast to really be able to be face to face with a raw feeling underneath.  So long as we feel guilty, we truly don’t take any responsibility for that we are killing ourselves along with the person we just lost.

It took me days to figure out that I wasn’t willing to forgive myself for that I didn’t speak with grandma the day before she passed.  I learned a lesson long ago about how to forgive myself.  It worked then so I asked my husband to go find my note to him when I shared it.  And there it was, simply put: “my actions were completely correlate with the way the world occured to me….(I simply didn’t know that that was the last time I would ever get to speak with grandma, else I would get off my call and spend time with her)…why punish myself for that?”

And I did forgive myself for not knowing.  There truly isn’t anything new I would say to grandma at that time. I kept her really well updated throughout the years and often time it was all “too much information.”  Years ago when she was in New York, I made sure I shared how much I appreciated her and why and she was able to share her love with me.  So, there isn’t anything else I would say, or anything other than “I LOVE YOU” that I could repeat an infinite amount of times. And now that the guilt is gone, I truly am dealing only with a loss.

This isn’t anyone’s fault. This isn’t good or bad.  It just is.  I am facing the reality of life for what it is. I remind myself over and over again to be grateful for what I had.  I remember grandma.  I think of her all the time.  She is even more present now that I know that she is gone because I can see all of her in me.

There isn’t a better advice in life than the one we learn because someone did it not told it.  Grandma had grace that I only hope to achieve in my life time.  She was nice to people.  She got along well.  I cannot say that I am the same, but in honor of her, I want to be.

I am so lucky to have a wonderful husband who is my shining star in good and in bad.  I know grandma wanted me to have this kind of love in my life. She knows I believed it was possible and she, for sure, was helping me make it happen by believing in me every step of the way.  She never took off her wedding band, even 30 years after grandpa was gone. She loved, so much, so forgivingly.  Ah… There is nobody like her, and nothing can replace her.  I am blessed to have shared my lifetime with her.”

I love you grandma!!!!