Creating Boundaries


In life we want to believe that those who really love us would never knowingly or intentionally push us around, take advantage or treat us badly.  However, sometimes those that love us the most are the ones who will test our limits and boundaries the most.  In the end of my relationship with a man who still says he loves me I always thought that some things were assumed and did not need to be stated out loud.  In that assumption I believed that this man who says he loves me would never take advantage of my love for him.  I had put him on a pedestal and created in my mind this upstanding, high character, Godly man that would never allow me to be hurt or used, he was supposed to love and protect me right?  After our break-up we reconnected one evening and he treated me all the ways I had been missing and this treatment was consistent each time we saw each other ending in a special weekend getaway we had planned before our break-up. It wasn’t until I finally opened my mouth and asked his intentions in the reconnection was it clear that he was allowing me to believe we were working on things when he had no intention.  In that moment I realized something very valuable, something I had always heard but never truly felt in a particular moment in my life until that very moment…people will treat you the way you allow them to.

I went to bed that night feeling a mixture of feelings that included hurt, frustration, confusion and mostly being mad at myself, but one thing I knew for sure was, it was not going to continue and would never happen again.  I allowed myself to re-engage without stating my boundaries and after a bit of thought I realized that I was disrespecting myself by not having more clear boundaries.  I gave this man I had loved for over 4 years the benefit of the doubt by allowing myself to go there again without gaining clarity first and he took advantage of that.  So okay I forgive myself, this time shame on him for allowing it to happen.  He knew how I felt and took all my listed desires in a letter I had given him and actually did those things as if he were wanting to show me he could be that man for me, which was even more misleading.  What was the point of doing everything I wanted in the relationship if you have no intention of continuing the relationship?  First time shame on him, but no excuses moving forward. It is time for me to set clear boundaries for myself and others, even when it is hard.

Looking back at the situation I have to be very honest, I wanted that time with him and he wanted it to and neither one of us really wanted to state a boundary because it meant giving up things we both still desired in the relationship.  This is common after a break-up or divorce because there is a sense of comfort in being with that familiar person, but it only leads to more confusion, frustration and heartache.  If it continues it can lead to a lot of resentment as well.  I had to make the hard decision to just walk away and not contact him again.  I love him and feel he brought many good things into my life, but I cannot and will not give all the benefits of me as his lady without him claiming me as his lady and himself as my man.  What we were doing was not just friendship and to call it that was unfair of him.  With setting this boundary it opened my eyes to other areas where I have not been clear and respected my desires for the kind of woman I want to be and the life I want to live.  I began to take inventory of how I treat myself and the relationships I have in my life.  Are the choices I am making a healthy reflection of the type of person I want to be?  The honest answer is, not always.

I have decided to set some harder boundaries in my life because I feel there are certain things that do not reflect the kind of person I want to be.  I have decided to go the month of November without any alcohol and if I notice a big change in how I feel I may decide to exclude alcohol from my life permanently.  I have never been a heavy drinker anyway and often, after an evening out with friends, I feel sick, tired and a bit depressed the next day.  I don’t smoke, do any drugs or even take any medications.  Ideally, I would love to be free of any toxins in my body and I think alcohol and sugar would be a good place to start.  I have also allowed myself in the past to engage in friendships with people who are not the best influence or not encouraging me to live in a way that I want to live.  We all want to believe that we are grown-up enough not to let others affect who we are but if we hang out with people whose morals, values and character do not match up with our own, over time that mentality can start to seep in and affect our views and choices.  So I realize that it may be necessary to spend less time with certain people and maybe even remove some altogether.  When setting goals you must consider what boundaries you are going to set in order to help you have clear guidelines when it comes to navigating the path to those goals.  If that means spending less time with your friends who like to drink and party in order to get healthy then that is what you need to do.  If that means setting higher standards for yourself with dating then be clear on what you expect and clear to others and don’t compromise on those boundaries.  Once you start setting boundaries and respecting yourself you will naturally attract others who will do the same.

With love, health, & happiness,


It’s Not My Job To Make You Happy


I have been learning to really set boundaries in my life and the one I struggle with the most is when my significant other is struggling.  I find when he is in a bad mood three thoughts go through my mind… Is it my fault?  What can I do to help fix it?  If I can’t fix it, what can I do to make him just feel better?  This is probably the natural reaction when you love someone, but I had a realization that maybe I take that responsibility a little too far.  When I start considering things that are outside my comfort zone, like using my day off to cover at the restaurant when he is perfectly capable of doing it, is not really necessary.  Making sacrifices for those we love is good at times but consistently doing so at the cost of our own needs is really not healthy and ultimately damaging to the relationship over time.

If I worked at the restaurant and he took that time to go relax, knowing that it could be me relaxing on my day off, I would probably become resentful over time.  It isn’t like he can come in to my job and cover for me when I am struggling!  So what is it in some of us that makes us feel responsible or guilty if we don’t jump in to save the day at every opportunity?  Well, I think it may be different for all of us and depend on the situation but at the root of it we simply feel the happiness of the ones we love is something we are partly responsible for, but the truth is, we are not….not in any way.

I have always believed that the attitude we have each day is a choice and we can choose to make struggles ruin our mood or try our best to focus on the positive.  Some days the ability to stay focused on the positive is easier than others.  Some situations are just hard no matter how you spin it and we just have to be understanding that our loved ones are human and we all have bad days.  Offer to listen or help if you can but don’t take on their problems fully, keep a boundary and know, ultimately, this is something they have to deal with.  In turn understanding when you are the one dealing with a bad day that it is up to you to make a choice on how to respond to what comes your way and how to work through it, it is not up to others to fix it or make you happy.  When two individuals in a relationship take full responsibility for their own thoughts, feelings and actions then you can really see the fruits of a strong relationship developing.

Offer to listen, offer to help in some ways but not at the cost of your own happiness and just give them space.  Sometimes the best support is to just remove yourself from the situation completely.  If someone is in a bad mood they are more likely to lash out and snap at those around them, especially those they love the most.  Seeing the warning signs and removing yourself from the opportunity to argue can be the best thing to do.  Bad moods can be contagious and if you hang around they can suck you in.  Choosing to rise above it and keep your positive vibes can be hard when your loved one is being difficult. Knowing it is just a mood and not taking it personal can help to not engage and respond in kind.  Love, acceptance and boundaries are the key to a long and lasting relationship with anyone and setting healthy boundaries in a romantic relationship can be the hardest.  We are often taught that when we enter a relationship we become one with the other person and I really dislike that description.  A healthy relationship requires understanding you are two completely different individuals working together as a team, not as one.

With love, happiness and heathy boundaries,




Balance & Boundaries


It’s a rainy, overcast Saturday morning, the kind of day I would want to stay home with a little bit of housework occasionally sprinkled in-between my binge of Yellowstone (cowboys & Costner =  win win).  I love relaxing productive Saturdays where I can mix work in the garden, laundry and making a beautiful meal with drinking a nice red wine and watching a great TV show, Blues game(Stanley Cup here we come) or even listening to a Cardinals game on the radio.  A healthy balance of work and pleasure is really my idea of happiness.

I enjoy my job, my home, my relationships and time off better when I am working hard and still allowing myself time to rest and relax.  I am more productive throughout the work week when I am taking the weekends to really focus on me and things that bring me joy.  Learning to have a healthy balance in life is one of the most important things a person can ever learn along with setting healthy boundaries.  Today is not just going to be a lazy Saturday for me though, I am headed to the very small river town where I grew up.  I will be meeting with my Dad and his mothers side of the family for a family reunion.  It is really the only side of the family that has a regular reunion, which is sad to me because I have many family members I haven’t seen in years and some I have never met.  After spending most of the day with family I will return home to join a group of  friends for an evening of playing music, eating, drinking and just being merry!

My boyfriend owns a historical restaurant in my current town and it has a lovely outdoor patio.  Today my friends and I are hoping the weather will clear and allow us to break out the guitars and play a little music.  I have worked hard all week adding 2 new providers to our growing counseling practice and sending out provider referral lists to all the surrounding hospitals and clinics.  It is an exciting time for growth in our practice and I am learning a lot as I manage the office and prepare to start my masters in mental health counseling.  When it comes to my own personal mental health I know that balancing work and pleasure is the key to my happiness.  I also know that I better enjoy my summer because when school starts back I will be working my arse off!

Knowing when to buckle down and get serious and when to let it all go is something that does not come easy to most of us.  There have been times when I have felt guilty for taking time for myself instead of working.  It has been a slow process to get to the healthy perspective I have today.  If I do feel guilt creeping in I ask myself if the work is really a priority over the other option, if it is not then I let it go.  I have also found that scheduling, routines and creating habits have all been helpful in creating healthy balance and boundaries.  If I know how my week is going to go and I see the time divided up to devote to different projects and priorities then it is easier for me to focus and relax in the current moment.  I have read many books on creating good habits and getting rid of bad ones and right now I am listening to one of the best I think I have ever encountered called Atomic Habits by James Clear.  If you are struggling to create the lifestyle you want I highly recommend listening to his audiobook.  Mel Robbins is another great writer who really breaks down the importance of balance, boundaries and how to focus on things in smaller steps in order to reach your goals.

As I spend my day devoting time to my family and friends I am thankful and going to enjoy this time to fullest.  I will not worry about the pile of paperwork on my desk at work or the laundry waiting to be put away.  I am at a point in my life where I understand there will always be more paperwork and more laundry but there may not always be those people we love.  Take time to devote to the hobbies you have because some day you may be too old to enjoy it.  Take time to devote to the people you love now because they may not always be around for you to hug and play music with.  The work should be something that makes you proud.  Earn a living so that you can pay the bills and live a comfortable life, but work, money and material possessions are just pieces of a bigger picture and we all need that reminder sometimes.  We should not live to work but instead be working to live.  Don’t spend your weeks just wishing for the weekend, make time throughout the week enjoyable.  Planning something special like lunch with a friend every Monday will make it easier to get up and tackle the week.

As you set forth to enjoy your weekend try to enjoy it to the fullest and don’t let the worries of the next work week or the troubles of last week creep in.  Call your mom, hug your kids, play a round of golf, spend the day in your pajama’s reading a great book but don’t forget to feed the dog and make your bed because….balance is the key!

With love, health, & happiness,


Whose Opinion Matters?

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When creating a life we love we must consider the people, places and things we encounter most.  We often read about removing toxic people from our lives or learning to focus on the positive of those we can’t exactly remove for one reason or another, (coworker, family member).  One thing I have found in my research, reading and just life experience in general is we often tend to adopt the attitudes, beliefs and behaviors of those we hang around the most, sometimes without even realizing it.  I have discussed the influence of people in our lives a few times before, but today I want to get a bit more specific and discuss opinions and how to determine which ones matter and which ones don’t and why.

I am a habit and routine junky.  I am constantly reading books on how to become more efficient and productive to get the most out of my day.  I am also an observer, I like to watch people and their behaviors to discover their routines and habits.  Listening and observing has taught me a lot.  As I have progressed through my education I have become more aware of why I choose to validate some opinions more than others and those reasons are not always good.  As a young woman I had to learn that just because someone is your boss and you value their assessment of your work ethic and abilities does not mean you must value their opinions in all areas of life.  Just because someone is older does not mean they are wiser and know more than you do, and just because someone is successful in one area doesn’t mean they are in all areas.  Sometimes I struggle to separate my respect for a person in one area of life and my total disagreement in another area.  In these relationships I have learned to create boundaries so that I could still love and appreciate what they brought to the table in a positive aspect and not let the other get under my skin.  This ability can come with maturity but it still takes practice no matter your age.

Be a leader, not a follower is a phrase I have often stated to my daughter.  Don’t be afraid to be different and don’t conform to the majority if your gut is telling you something isn’t right.  Basically, learn to think for yourself, which is one of the most important things for a teen and young adult to learn in this world (or anyone for that matter).  If you don’t understand something then don’t just take another persons opinion as gospel, research that shit yourself and form your own opinion.  Also, you must always consider the source.  Then ask yourself, is this person really someone whose opinion matters in this particular situation?

At this point in life I realize whose opinions mean the most to me and it is a pretty small circle.  I am respectful enough to listen to others, but the value I assign to it varies.  Watching how others live their lives helps me determine if this is a person whose opinion I should value and to what extent.  Being aware and setting boundaries can be life changing and most of all, freeing.  When you stop letting everyone’s opinion matter then you are free to be yourself without the stress of worrying what others think.  Ask yourself what value each relationship brings to the table for you and understand that each one does not have to be all-encompassing. Boundaries and balance are such great qualities to learn when it comes to any relationship.  So next time you find yourself becoming frustrated by someone voicing their opinion on a particular subject ask yourself why?  If it’s an individual that you truly admire and their opinion is important then you can take it a little deeper and explore the why.  If this individual is voicing an opinion and they have no real importance in the big scheme of things in your life, then why let it bother you?  Because at the end of the day I will quote what my old school, military Dad has always said:  “honey, opinions are like assholes, everyone has one”.  So basically, its up to each of us to determine which ones really matter to us and why.

With love, health, happiness, and a little humor from Dad,


Good Stress Vs. Bad Stress

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With the abundance of self-help and self-improvement books and video’s, all the education and information on being mindful and removing the stress and negativity, it would be easy to just start cleaning house and completely getting rid of people who don’t make you feel absolute joy.  However, some stress in our lives is good.  In order to grow as individuals we need to be challenged.  So how do we determine when the ability to grow is lost and the stress is simply just unnecessary?

I have a select few people in my life that come to mind that I originally believed were challenges put in my path to help me grow.  I tried to connect more and leave myself open to their thoughts and ideas because I knew they were so vastly different from mine. I thought maybe I was missing something so I allowed myself to get involved in conversations and be challenged only to feel worse after the interaction.  After some time has passed I realize that any engagement with them just leaves me feeling frustrated and exhausted and not enlightened or joyful.  I realize, I do not feel I am learning or growing from the interactions, I am just walking away more stressed.  It has opened my eyes even more to how important it is to create boundaries and maintain balance.

You know when you have a found a person who says things that create an Ah Ha! moment within you.  These are the conversations you want to partake in because you feel like you could talk to them all night.  Their approach in how they explain their thoughts are just fascinating and you are eager to pick their brain and learn more. You walk away wanting to read and research more on the topic and feel inspired and joyful instead of drained.  This is how you know you are engaging with a person who is promoting positive growth.

Even some of our closest family members or coworkers will have vastly different beliefs.  I have found it is best to  just listen in the moment and not engage.  Then I can  research their words later to form my own informed opinion.  In the research process we learn that either we should adjust our perspective a little (or maybe a lot) or we become more confirmed in our own beliefs, either way we are learning and growing.  It is easier to come from a place of wanting to understand than a place of debate, and often we are so set in our own beliefs that we forget our original intent.  If someone does not ask my opinion I have decided not to give it.  This can be very hard, but if someone is spouting off their beliefs and never stopping to ask your thoughts and ideas I have found it is best to just let them talk.  You learn a lot more when you listen anyway, even if it’s just that the other person is full of it.

I have also found unfollowing certain individuals on social media is in my best interest when it comes to setting boundaries.  I enjoy getting on Facebook to see happy and funny things my friends post, but if I start getting an over abundance of negativity and confrontational information on my feed I will unfollow.  It is a simple solution that doesn’t completely remove the person from your circle, it just cuts out the stress for you.  If you don’t want to constantly see Sally’s relationship drama that you have advised her on numerous times, or Karen’s religious beliefs, or Tom’s political views or even Mandy’s cooking pics, or Gretchen’s gym pics… for whatever reason, then just unfollow.  You do not have to justify your reasons with anyone just click the button and go on about your life.

The good stress is learning to listen and not say a word, learning to research it later and form an educated opinion on the subject so that when someone does stop to take time and ask your opinion you can answer intelligently and confidently.  If you feel stress creeping in ask yourself if this is something worth stressing over?  Is it necessary to engage in that moment?  Are you stressing about something in the past or something in the future?  Stressing about things you cannot control is pointless and not productive unless you plan to take action in some way.  So ask yourself, in that moment when you feel your body reacting and your thoughts start to follow the stress path…Is this something I can take control of and if so, how?  Take steps to tackle the problem because action is the key.  Prepare yourself, if you know you are going to encounter a person who instigates stress within you at a party or gathering, then have a plan so you already know how to proceed.  Preparation is a form of taking action even if your plan is to do nothing more than smile, say hello and walk-away.

Creating healthy boundaries for yourself is a great way to fight stress.  We all have our own limits on different things.  Maybe you are struggling with weight so hearing about someones diet or seeing gym pics is not motivational for you right now.  Maybe you are strong in your faith with God and seeing posts or conversations from your atheist neighbor causes you stress.  Maybe you are strong in your political beliefs and seeing the opinion of the opposing party gives you stress.  Maybe you just went through a horrible break-up so seeing wedding pics or baby pics with a happy couple is just depressing for you.  This doesn’t make you a bad person if you struggle in a moment to be happy for others and it doesn’t make you a closed minded person if you have done your research on certain beliefs and already know where you stand. It is okay to set boundaries tailored specifically for your personal circumstances in that that moment.

Good stress gets your blood pumping because you are being motivated or pushed to be better, learn something new or tackle a project.  There should be some kind of positive outcome.  Bad stress is when your blood starts pumping and you feel frustrated, angry, or just exhausted at the thought, sometimes even anxiety, dread, sadness or a sense of panic will come over you.   Learn to be self aware, be gentle and honest with yourself.  As you clue in to how your body reacts and the thoughts going on inside your head, you will know which kind of stress is being activated.  What one person finds as good stress and bad stress may not be the same for you.  Nobody knows your mind-body connection better than you do.  Boundaries and balance is key in managing your stress levels so don’t be afraid to make the changes that work for you.

With love, happiness, health