Tag Archives: recovery

Fly into the Light, Butterfly

Like a worm in a cocoon we are unaware of the transformation taking place until the moment we emerge a butterfly.

As the season that represents the hopes and dreams of the world is upon us once again, I find myself  filled with a hope and joy in my life I haven’t felt since 2003. 12 years in the making. I nearly gave up many times. It has been a long journey; at times very painful. Nonetheless, I have finally arrived. Today, I realized it all at once.

I haven’t been on a solo travel adventure  in some time.  As I left my house this morning my luggage lightly packed to leave room for possibilities, I stood on my front porch and taking a deep breath I thought – you’re really happy aren’t you?

I am at peace.  I finally care about something again.  In my teaching, I have purpose.  They help me be a better person and I help them too. I have great friends. I haven’t found that one special guy yet, but I’m enjoying dating 4 different men of interest in the meanwhile 🙂  I make a good salary finally and found a way to make extra money and paid off all my student loans.  I am debt free.  In 3 months I took my 7th graders to great success in an engineering competition where they were 5 of only 12 students in two counties to be awarded “outstanding engineers” and have lunch with the Chief Scientist of NASA. My life is on the rise again after fighting in the trenches so long. 12 long years.

I’m estranged from my mother who left me on Mother’s day, yet to return again. I have made peace with her choice and learned there are some things you cannot control.  One of those things is how people choose to behave and interact with the world.  Sometimes the greatest gift you can give someone is to let them go. Many times she asked me to leave her life. I wasn’t listening.  Now I hear loud and clear.  At about the same time my ex-boyfriend had left and my pet of 16 years died.  The timing of those two relationships ending was the peak of the tragedy over these 12 years. I spent much of the summer recovering from two big blows. I was really alone with myself once again.

After I came out of it all, I began to map out how I wanted the future to look. I became very clear on what I would and would not accept into my life. I thought a lot about what I wanted to focus on.  I made a plan. I stayed focused.  And you know what? I’ve been knocking it out of the park.  My goals are from my soul so working towards them feels in harmony with who I am.  When I FEEL that connection, I know I’m on the right path.

I also made the choice to have a serious talk with my doctor to manage a debilitating health concern when I finally couldn’t continue to have any quality of life without beginning medication. It is something that no one knows about and I’ve kept private for a very long time.

“Coming out”, if you will, freed my soul and allowed me to accept the whole me. Walking into the sunlight helped me love myself better.  In the end seeking treatment instead of suffering all these years was a great act of self-love.  Everyday I am happy I made the choice and my only wish is that I had made it sooner. That conversation with my doctor saved my life.

So, now I head to the red rocks and sunshine of health-conscious Sedona to introduce myself to the world of butterflies.  A new beginning; surrounded by some of the best of natures’ creation, I will spread my newborn wings and fly towards that which brings joy, peace, and health.  I look forward to witnessing the vastness of the Grand Canyon and drinking in the elixer of possibility seeing both my smallness and my greatness at once.

As  I go into the new year, I have but one resolution – to keep flying towards the light.

—- With love this holiday season from aneternaltraveler ❤

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Who’s Changing Who’s Life?

Offically about 1 month into my first year as a science teacher and overall I have to say it was one of the best career decisions I’ve ever made.

I truly love the subject matter. I enjoy reaching the kids and engaging them. I even have gotten through some major challenges like breaking up a fist fight in my class or having one of the boys make a sexually explicit gesture towards me.

I teach 150 7th grade students everyday. My day starts at 5:30 am and I usually leave school 12 hrs. later. I eat lunch with the kids I’ve called in to get their work done and keep from failing. I write parents every Monday so they knows what’s coming up and in my off time I have more meetings and have decided to head the after school STEM Club. 

I LOVE what I get to do. I’ve never felt a greater sense of purpose in my life. I now understand what they mean when they say, do what you love and you’ll never “work” a day in your life. I bust my butt day in and day out, but I don’t want to miss a day watching them blossom and grow.  So, in sickness and health, I am committed to these 150 amazing and unique people 100%.

Just wanted to check-in and let you know where my attention has been lately and why I’ve been less prolific.

With love from aneternaltraveler 😉

Tango and Life

Why does the tango imitate life like no other dance knows how? No matter how many times you watch it, you will feel different emotions depending on your life at the moment. It pulls together happiness, sadness, anger, violence,  regret, and fans the flames of your desire into a smoldering restrainted mess of hot coals waiting to catch fire.

To dance it is to know your own darkness. It allows you to discover what it will take to pull you from the depths of your own personal hell. Dancing tango tears at your soul becuase you cannot hide your soul from the dance. Tango reveals your truth and forces you to decide whether you will look at it in the face and dance or you will turn and spin away never to return.

Life, like tango, magically lets the full range of human experience flow from one move to the next. Moments strung together become a dance  we learn to savor more as we look back and can see how all the last steps have led to the next steps.

To tango. To life. To the next step.

With love from aneternaltraveler 😉

Smile More Everyday

I was thinking today about the many ways in which we frustrate ourselves as human beings.  I wondered if there was a common cause of the hell we put ourselves through. So, I asked the question and waited for my mind to speak up.

Hours later…..

It came to me that much of our frustration can be traced to trying to change things or people that are not ready to change or feel no need to. Without realizing it many times, I think we expect others to consider our way of doing things or our way of thinking as obvious brilliance.  If they don’t comply we call them names or distance ourselves or worse gather other people together to “hate” them too.  Sometimes that anger turns inward and becomes depression, especially when we take their behavior as a sign of our failure or inadequacy.

wpid-20131213_104651.jpgSometimes, in fact I think more often than we realize, we have to accept things as they are in the present. We cannot force our way or change someone else.  Trust me, just like you I wish I could too. That annoying, undermining co-worker, the self-centered family member, the careless friend, and so on and so forth.  Trust me. I get it.  Why do you think I spend so much time trying to noodle my way into alternative pathways of thinking?? I struggle with these issues and I want you to know you’re not alone because we all do.  Heck sometimes WE are these people for others.

What I’m beginning to learn is that while we are on the path to accepting others “as is”, we are going to have a lot of stress and frustration to manage.  Acceptance is waaaaaay harder than hate.  Acceptance asks us to let go of our own egos for the chance to be a great leader.  Acceptance isn’t being passive. It is an active process and the greatest opportunity to eventually create real lasting change.

Most people don’t change or collaborate or compromise, because they feel threatened and defend their ego or their position. If you play into this, which most of us do, you end up with a stalemate. Everybody is positive they are right and each one digs in their heels.

In order to become the change you want to see in this world, you must release the obsessive thoughts that have become your focus in order to make room for more constructive energy to enter.

Exercise is Good for Your BrainPersonally, I do this by engaging in some form of physical activity during which I push myself past my own mind and out of my thoughts.  Then, I keep going until I find myself laughing or smiling. Let me give you an example, yesterday I went for a long bike ride with a lot of changes in elevation. My lungs and my legs were really feeling it. To keep going I had to stay completely focused on believing that I could get up that next hill.  So, that meant I had to get rid of thoughts that weren’t helping me achieve that goal. That means those obsessive thoughts had to take a hike while I was on the bike 🙂 When I made it up the hill, I was feeling like my lungs and legs would explode but it also felt good to show myself I could do it.

blond girl swingAt my half way point, I saw a park with swings.  A mother and child were swinging together and they looked so happy.  Next to them was another empty swing.  I stared at it for awhile remembering the joy I felt swinging as a child.  I wondered if it would be foolish to do it again at my age and whether my hips would even fit!  I said the heck with it and got on the swing and began to push myself higher and higher just like I did when I was a kid. I found myself spontaneously screaming Weeeeeeeeee!!! and smiling and laughing with such joy that I forgot all the negativity I started out with at the beginning of my ride. I was playing with the child inside that was always there waiting for me.

The point is this: Find a way to smile more everyday. Let go of the tension everyday.  Don’t let it build up. If it takes an intense walk, run, bike ride, etc. to reset, then DO THAT. Everyday grant yourself peace of heart and mind by choosing to find your smile. Choose to play with that child inside. Reconnect. Remember who you are – you are not a reflection of other people’s behavior. You don’t need to change anyone or anything to feel good about yourself and your life right now.  Just be.

Am I too Late?

I have been a wanderer, a traveler, an explorer, an escapist most of my life. Nothing of mine collected dust. I always seemed to have a Plan B, an escape route. If it got too complicated or messy or boring I’d take off one way or the other.

Though it probably sounds harsh, if I’m honest, I was still feeling this through both of my marriages. I wasn’t ready to settle down, to lay roots into the earth. Wandering was always in competition with this idea of what I should be doing at my age. So, I’d find myself with the trappings of a settled down lifestyle while inside I was fighting it, distancing myself and fantasizing my way out of it. Talk about the definition of one foot in and one foot out.

Looking back it is easy to see why I was so miserable for so much of my life. I was by no means living in harmony with my soul’s urge. I felt one way and tried to fit in another. Terribly painful way to exist. There are years of my life that I don’t even remember because of this dissonance. 

I didn’t form meaningful relationships with people because I didn’t see myself sticking around anyway. If I’m honest I didn’t really take my marriages as seriously as I could have either. To be frank, I didn’t have the first clue of what a marriage really was anyway.

So much of my life was spent like an out of body experience where some other force felt like it guided me along. I gave up control of that “traditional life stuff” in exchange for holding on to my fantasies of the life I wished for. Somehow I never thought I was allowed to have the life I actually wanted so I settled in a different way. I clung to my fantasies to make the reality I thought I was obligated to live, bearable.

After my second husband left, I spent several years watching my life tear apart at the seams.  After 33 years of living this double life, I couldn’t hold it together anymore. It was one if the most painful and lonely times of my life. I had to get a grip, make a new plan Stan, drop off the key Lee, and set myself free. How the hell do I do that?

I spent a year living overseas in Ecuador. I traveled just about the whole continent, I learned a new language, I got a job, I rescued working girls off the streets and offered them an education, I danced salsa almost every night, I learned that Latin lovers are not all good despite the reputation, I climbed volcanos, zip lined through the jungle, ate guinea pig, fell in love, lost love, lost weight, gained friends, and came home eventually to an empty house in the USA faced with the reality I could no longer escape. It was time to start over.

There was still so much distance between me and the stuff of my life. My house, my car, my things…all just stuff…meaningless. I had no real friends, no one I could count on. I was so used to keeping that distance and I could do most everything on my own anyway, so why bother?

I stayed this way for awhile. Had lots of disposable lovers.  For awhile sex was the only place I felt anything at all. When guys started to get personal or clingy, I’d drop them.  They never slept over. I didn’t want to wake up and see them. I struggled to keep the roof of a house I wasn’t sure I wanted over my head. I was committed to nothing.

Fast forward to now (5 yrs. later) and I find myself wanting to lay roots. Wanting to commit. Wanting love. Loving my house. Wanting a life partner. Understanding what that means. Wanting close friendships. Feeling so deeply that sometimes it scares me. Terrified that I’m waaaaay out of my depths most of the time with my understanding of this lifestyle. Freaked out that I can’t hack it. Afraid I’ll screw it up.  Thinking how behind I am. How much remedial training I need. How lonely I can feel now that I care to have people close to me. Resisting the urge to flee when I’m scared. I keep at it. I stick around. I want to find out if I could stay at a job long enough to collect a pension. I want to know I’ll be ok 6 months from now. I want stability and safety for a change.  I want to trust myself that I can do all this. I wonder if at nearly 40 I’ve arrived too late to the party.

I still want to explore this wonderful world around me and learn from it. I just want to have a place that I am happy to call home now too.

This is one of the most frightening adventures I’ve ever embarked upon. I am in pursuit of my own brand of happiness. The stakes are so high because the outcome matters so much. It’s finally personal.

With love from aneternaltraveler 😉

All the Things Money Can’t Buy

I was chatting with some friends last night over dinner and catching them up on my life. As these conversations often do, we found ourselves talking about relationships.

What do You Want?
A friend turned to me and said, if you could summarize what you want from a relationship in one sentence what would you say? This was an interesting challenge. After a few minutes I said, “I want to be with a man for all the things that money can’t buy”.

Apparently, this was a profound statement because everyone stopped eating, stared off for a moment and returned with – “Wow. Yeah. Me too. Well said.”

Can’t Buy Me Love
While this is not to say I want to be with someone without 2 nickels to rub together,  I also can’t be bought. There is NO replacement for:

  Intimacy
  Empathy
  Consideration
  Bonding
  Respect
  Tenderness
  Authenticity
  Hugs at the right moment
  Compassion
  Good conversation
  Really listening
  Making quality time
  Being held
  Divulging deep dark secrets without fear
  Safety
  Consistency
  Acceptance of who and what you are
  Great character
  Kindness to strangers
  Humility
  Great sense of humor used at the right time

Too many times I experience individuals so desperately trying to keep a relationship that they give stuff, their bodies, favors in hopes that they will be loved in return. These are gestures of fear and desperation. You cannot make love from this space.  If there was one word thst could summarize all the others above it would be to connect to someone. This makes loves because you are actually thinking of and feeling for the other person.

Enough about Me, Tell Me about You
I like to think of love like being open and ever curious. If you don’t feel this or have anxiety or fear then you are not in a good space to find, to make or to maintain love.  When you stop thinking about me, me, me and how I get my needs met, you can open up to another person and get to know them. Funny thing is that with most people they want to reciprocate. So, you have a better chance of getting what you want by showing another person the same curiosity you would like first.

It really struck me to finally have a simple set of words to frame what I’m looking for in a relationship. It goes a step further though I think. As we say in science,  like attracts like. If I am the qualities on that list, I will attract that kind of person into my life. Those we are with are a reflection of how we see ourselves afterall. In other words be the person you’re looking for.

 

With love from aneternaltraveler 😉

Exploring Plant-based Diet

I’ve always been an animal lover. I was the kid who brought home every injured or stray animal I found in the woods behind my house. I’d try my best to fix their broken wing so they could fly, dress their wounds, nurse them if they were abandoned by their mothers. I wanted to be a veterinarian for a long time until I learned I’d have to put animals to sleep.

I wouldn’t consider my family to be raging meat eaters. In many ways we had the Mediterranean diet with my mother’s family being from Lebanon. We did like meat and had it with dinner almost every night. My family also hunted and fished so we shared the successes with each other to help feed each family.

However, I do really like grilling and if you asked me what my favorite food is, I’d tell you a bacon cheeseburger with the works. So, imagine my surprise when I found myself so impacted by a film that I started eating an almost 100% plant based diet and I’m feeling better than ever.

If you’ve not had the opportunity I’d recommend you watch the movie “Forks over Knives”.  In this movie researchers explore the possibility that people changing their diets from animal-based to plant-based can help eliminate or control diseases like cancer and diabetes.

What struck me was witnessing how the animals were not just poorly treated or kept in way too close quarters, they were flat out tourtured. All just so I could have meat on my plate. Something broke in me and I couldn’t do it anymore. I was focused on finding alternatives. Nowhere more than in the USA are we lucky to have the options we do. 

Many people think that having a plant-based diet is more expensive than animal-based, but I put this to the test and found for $50 I could pick up enough food for over 1 week (see pic below).

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I found that making 48 oz of green smoothies each day allowed me to get a huge portion of veggies and fruits in that I’d never have the time to eat. For example, one smoothie might include, – kale, swiss chard, carrots, bananas, mango, orange, and aloe pulp. Typically, I like to make them in the evening so that often I drink 32 oz for dinner and then put a 16 oz one in the fridge for breakfast. This works better for me because then I’m not rushing around in the morning trying to peel and chop.

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Green Smoothie will change your lifestyle for the better!!

It is way easier than I thought to eat plant based. I thought I’d be starving. I’m not. One of the other things I do is minimize processed food because let’s face it, potato chips can be considered plant-based technically. I use fresh ingredients whenever possible so I control what I add to my body and make sure I’m not substituting one bad thing for another.

For meals I eat balanced ingredients. For example, yesterday I made a salad with avocado (healthy fat), black beans (protein), cucumbers (veggies), and tossed it with a little olive oil, pinch of salt and vinegar. It was very filling. Sometimes the hardest part of change is convincing yourself that a different way wil work. You think you’ll be hungry but you’re surprised to find that when meals are plant-based and balanced you can feel satisfied without that heavy disgusting feeling.

I’ve noticed some great effects as a result of not participating in animal torture / eating mostly plant-based. I’ve lost weight, my eyes and teeth are whiter and brighter and my nails are longer and stronger. My wrinkles have softened around my eyes and mouth, I have more energy, I am calmer, colors and sounds are more vibrant, I am more compassionate because I’m living in accordance with my values and feel more connected to animals like I used to, I’ve cut my sleeping meds in half, I get outside everyday for workout of some kind.

Get this! My ob/gyn doctor told me that he cannot feel any tumors in my uterus anymore (they’ve disappeared!!!) and it is as if I never had a surgery years ago to remove a 5lb fibroid because everything feels perfectly normal! This is just mind blowing to me. I’ve had problems here for as long as I can remember. It was so bad that I needed surgery to remove that gigantic tumor. Now I start eating plant-based and the new ones have disappeared and everything feels normal – as if you’d have never thought there was ever a problem!?!

I am really becoming a believer in this way of eating for more reasons than one. I have to say I’m not being too hard on myself though and trying to do everything all at once. I still eat eggs and cheese occasionally. I eat Morningstar Grillers as a substitute for my cheeseburger. I’ve left go of the bacon, but I still add a piece of cheese and load it up with bbq sauce, and horseradish mayonnaise.  This, surprisingly,  does the trick for the beefy cheeseburger craving.  I also imagine I will still eat fish / seafood for quite awhile until I could get to a place where I could give that up.

I think the key is adding more plants to your meals and substituting where possible. If it is too drastic and there is not enough support, it will be hard to stick with it. I wanted to add that for those of us who want to do something good for ourselves,  environment, animals, but need to make a big change in habits and increase knowledge before doing so. One step at a time. Think of where you can add the good stuff and subtract out the not so good.

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Most importantly,  be good to yourself. Treat yourself with love.  Eat what makes you feel strong and creative and balanced and helathy. This is a whole new way to see food as love. You’ll probably be surprised to find that as you do right for yourself, you’re helping others as a by-product of your choices.

Now that feels good 🙂

With love from aneternaltraveler 😉

Everybody Needs Somebody

Tradgedy and time on your hands has a way of re-teaching you who you are. It also shows you where you could use a helping hand.

I tend to be a person who hangs out with herself a lot. What do I mean by this? First of all I really do like hanging out with myself. Also, I grew up learning a couple of things that stuck with me.
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I learned that it’s best not to count on other people – so learn how to do things yourself. I’ve also learned to be a very good secret keeper for those who treated me badly but knew how to look good in front of others. These teachings have damaged my thinking and impacted all of image

my relationships. I’m starting to realize that now.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it is fantastic that I can do so many things without needing to pay someone – case and point refinishing my bathtub. It cost me about $30.  I love that I am multi-talented!

The problem comes in when I don’t ever depend on anyone for anything, not even emotional things. I don’t have that group of gals I chat with. Heck, I don’t even have 1 best girl friend. I do have a great neighbor who I consider my best friend. We call ourselves the odd couple because he is 68 and I am 38 and we have a marvelous friendship. Of course he has a life with his wife and goes on vacation and such. So, when he’s not there I have no one. The thing is that other people are there, but I don’t form deeper relationships mostly because in good times and bad, I don’t want to bother them.

Eventually, if I’m going through something very trying and it’s beyond my ability to handle it alone, I can become very depressed and isolated. So, this is the ugly flip side of extreme independence.

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The order of events in my life lately seem to be of no coincidence. I am clearly being shown my areas in need of improvement and compassionately I’m also being presented with solutions. I need a better support group so that I feel loved no matter what and so I don’t have to rely so heavily on my romantic relationships to be the single source.

After 7 years of not seeing my dad’s side of the family, I was invited to spend the 4th of July with them in NC just when I needed it most. Then, they invited me to spend the week with them at their beach house.

I also reached out to my cousin in Nova Scotia who, despite never having heard her voice until now, has been a source of inspiration to me through various electronic and written mediums. She also wrapped me in her love and patience with the offer to let me “get it all out in a safe place” and to visit sometime.
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That’s the ticket isn’t it? One has to feel safe to open up. Part of being a secret keeper for abusive people is that you never know real safety. You tend to silence yourself and suffer quietly. It is not natural to trust , but very special and treasured dearly when it happens with someone. You’ll never meet someone more loyal.

Part of the challenge that I faced in my last relationship is that everyone in my life encouraged me to leave him. I did, several times. They all thought he was a piece of shit, psychopath, narcissist….you get the idea. So, when I’d leave and eventually find my way back, I felt more and more ashamed to talk to people. This can be very isolating and damaging. I was image
embarrassed.  I knew in my head what a manipulative bastard he was, how badly he was treating me. My heart kept going hoping against hope something would change. By the end of it all, aside from my neighbor, I stopped talking about him entirely to anyone. So I had nowhere to go with all the pain except this blog and my music. So thank you for keeping me going!

It’s past the point of needing to write a new chapter. I’m ready to crack open the spine of a brand new book and begin fresh with this post as my preface.

With love from aneternaltraveler 😉

Life is Short

When you’re sick it makes you feel lucky for all the times when you are healthy.

Sunrises and sunsets? Some things are just beautiful no matter what and a constant reminder that you only get so many. So you gotta fucking enjoy them.

Some pizza and a bottle of wine with the right person. That can make the shittiest day better.

Coffee dates take up a pretty good chunk your time but they’re worth it.

You can choose to work yourself to death, but you can also throw all that work away for the right person. That may be chemical but it’s also magic.

Love comes around a couple of times if you’re lucky.

No matter what life always seems short.

from the movie Spring

With love from aneternaltraveler 😉

Soul Food

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Ok. First things first! I’m bragging on this slapped together recipe. It’s sooooo good. My Jamaican neighbor keeps me supplied with “Jamaican Kale” throughout the summer and I constantly try to find new things to do with it.

So, what’s in it?:
Bunch of Jamaican Kale
A few roasted red peppers
Can of Atrichoke Hearts
1/4 c. Feta cheese
Sauteed in olive oil with crushed garlic, pepper & salt
Put on top of a whole wheat pita and enjoy!

I was in a funk still today. This getting over my ex thing is harder than I thought it would be. I mean could I jump into another relationship?  Sure. I could distract myself with casual flings. I could pretend that I never felt anything for him. I could drink heavily to dull the hurt. There are a lot of not so great things I could do that would only make things worse.

Or….

I could take care of my soul. I could eat well and enjoy the scents of cooking a meal with fresh ingredients. I could play music and compose again, I could reconnect with people I’ve lost contact with. I could exercise and pamper myself. And frankly, I can take care of myself intimately until someone who really lights my soul on fire takes over other duties as assigned 🙂

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Me "playing" my dad's guitar

I know everyone is different when it comes to coping with things. I personally take awhile to get over the end of serious relationships. I am a very sensitive person in that I am very emapthetic so I really feel things. I’m not the type that can turn that off. Its just part of my make up. I always want things to end well. Often, I struggle to understand why people wouldn’t do everything they can to bring about peaceful endings.

I am a mess of a person like we all are in some way, I guess. I’ve got quirks and dysfunctions and sometimes I wonder how to make it through this world a prisioner inside my own head.

I think most of us are just trying to move through life and sqeeze as much pleasure out if it as we can. We hope to know our greatest pleasure in our own lifetime. We assume it will reveal itself as another person who looks deeply into our soul and says, “I accept you” and sticks around forever loving you for being that person.

In the meanwhile, I think the greatest thing we can do for our single selves is love the hell out of ourselves; getting to know and accepting every nook and cranny until we’re completely irresistible.

I’m starting to think it’s not about being perfect or figuring out what’s wrong with you. The road to fulfilling life cannot possibly be among the pages of self-help books aimed to fix you. I have done this my whole life and I’ve really just managed to feel worse about myself. I mean what if the only thing wrong with me is that I don’t accept myself fully? What if instead of focusing on what needs to be fixed, I focused on accepting the person who is there and loving her to pieces? What if I fell in love with her “as is”? I wonder what would happen if we all did that?

If you’re like me and haven’t found a partner that loves (aka fully accepts) the person you are and finds you irresistible enough to want to spend forever by your side, let’s make a pact.

We will give ourselves the love we want from someone else. We will treat ourselves right. We will do for ourselves what we want from them. We will go alone to places we want to go together with them.

This way when he/she comes along we will recognize them as the right fit because s/he treats us that good.

With love from aneternaltraveler 😉