Category Archives: Health & Wellness

When things don’t go the way you want…

On the way to meditation this morning, I got a flat tire. And a wake-up call.

I left my house expecting “create more calm” and ended up having a scattered, stressful morning.

Just as I turned into the parking lot I heard a loud pop and felt the tire go out.

I had enough time to pull into a parking spot and dig in my bag for my Triple A card. I started to dial.

I needed to get this fixed. I believed:

-I was being punished.
-I had done something wrong (like eat flatbread the night before) to deserve this.
-This horrible, frustrating thing was happening TO me.

It took a moment but I put my phone down. Left my car with the flat tire in the parking lot, and walked into meditation.

The meditation was all about how powerful it is to STAY. Especially when we are in an uncomfortable situation.

The flat tire was a perfect example. I stayed.

My first reaction to the flat tire related back to my belief of: “I am always in trouble.” Here I was doing penance for my bad actions:

-Eating a “bad” food
-Getting softer around my midsection
-Not being as diligent with my exercise schedule lately or…
-Not being as kind as I could have when breaking up with an ex-boyfriend

I noticed this belief of always being in trouble { I’m in the process of shifting} reared it’s ugly head when I got a flat tire.

It hit me: the flat tire was NOT the universe’s way of punishing me.

Instead it was the universe’s way of teaching me how to stay, stop, and slow down. And see things for what they really are:

-Just a flat tire.
-Just a decadent meal.
-Just doing my best in a break-up.

These things are neither good nor bad. They simply are.

The fact that I’ve gained a bit more softness to my figure lately has nothing to do with how good or bad I am. It has nothing to do with my self-worth!

So … I stepped into this morning expecting calm, cool, and serenity.

And what I got was a jolt.

I got another wake-up call to keep building the muscle of body love and body awareness.

This morning did not go the way I wanted. It was uncomfortable, frustrating, and scattered. But as I waded through the messy morning muck, I stumbled upon a clearing, and a deeper connection with my deeper self.

My higher self, being, soul … ached because I was judging my evolving body. My soul needed love and compassion. So I gave it just that, went home, and entered back into my meditation.

So you see, when you go through a hard time – whether it be a flat tire or a life changing event – there is always, ALWAYS, a breakthrough on the other side.

And it’s in these instances where we must remember:

You are not being punished.

These instances give us opportunity to dig up what no longer serves us and make space for new:

-love
-growth
-awareness
-dreams

You must get out there and STAY when things get uncomfortable or messy or scattered. There is so much power in our ability to stay.

It can be hard to stay and often we need support when life feels messy. I’d love to chat with you to show you how.

http://www.maggieconverse.com/apply

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When a migraine hits…

When a migraine hits I feel at a loss. I want to detach from my body. I feel fearful of the impending pain, discomfort, nausea, and vomiting that are a part of the whole migraine experience. I feel disappointed in myself for letting this happen. I feel a piercing pain in the right side of my head that travels down the right side of my neck and sometimes into my upper right trap which then seizes up toward my ear.

 

When a migraine hits I feel hopeless. I feel excited to find my comfortable spot on the couch. Although true comfort never seems attainable. I feel misunderstood and disconnected from almost everyone – hard as they may try to sympathize. I can’t stress enough: it’s not just a headache.

 

I feel like I am letting people down. I’m sure of it. I want to be 12 again in my parent’s house with my mom changing my ice pack every time it gets warm. Alternating between taking sips of icy ginger ale and eating crushed ice. The only things my stomach can somewhat tolerate.

When a migraine hits I feel responsible and at fault. I feel like there must be something I could have done differently to avoid this. And sometimes, I feel like in some way I am deserving of this.

When a migraine hits I feel isolated and alone and I want a familiar face around me. I want a warm hand on my back, reminding me it’s going to be ok, that this will pass. That even though THIS happens, I am still loved. It doesn’t make me a bad person.

 

When a migraine hits I feel depressed and disassociated from my body. In fact I want a new body: a new head, arms, intestines, and legs. Not because of the way my body looks this time, but because of the way it feels. I can’t imagine greater pain or discomfort (although I’m sure on some level it does exist – probably childbirth).

 

I feel the lure of distraction from a bad rom-com or TV series that can take me to another place where I imagine everything is good and perfect. I am healthy and don’t have to worry about a thing.

 

When a migraine hits I feel reminiscent of when they weren’t quite so bad. When they didn’t interfere with the life I want to live.

 

When a migraine hits I also remember. I remember that this too shall pass and am reminded of the transient nature of … EVERYTHING. I remember all the ways I am loved in texts received and shoulder rubs given. I remember how grateful I am for the days when I DO feel healthy. Healthy enough to work and enjoy the time I have on this earth.

 

When I wake-up the morning after I am left with the residue of the migraine. The pulsing in my right temple is still there but I feel lighter. I feel like my body has gone through the ringer and I’ve made it to the other side. Phew. I feel like I have been given a gift of the day ahead of me and the days to follow. I worry less about being able to fit in a run or knocking off all the things on my checklist.

 

Maybe I have also been given the gift of migraine to help keep me in check. To turn me around sometimes and to continue to grow what is good in my life. To Worry less and Love more.

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June Offerings

I’m gearing up and getting excited about two new offerings coming up this June:

  • Meditation & Running (or walking!)
  • Bowspring Semi-Private Classes

AND these classes will be at my new location in Norwalk, right of exit 16 on I-95. Check ’em out!

JUNE Offerings

Meditate & Run (or walk!)
4-week series starts June 1st

“Sweat cleanses from the inside. It comes from places a shower will never reach.”  
– Dr. George Sheehan, the Philosopher of Running

What if when we exercise, we could experience it as a soul enriching activity instead of an obligation or a chore we “should” do?

As a runner I have drawn many correlations between running and meditation. Often taking to the long runs because of their tendency to put me in a trance-like state of intense concentration and pointed focus. Both practices require patience, consistency, and patience.

Explore the relationship and effects meditation has on moving mindfully. You can run or walk. The first 30 minutes of class will be dedicated to breathing and meditation and the remaining time will be spent in movement that elevates the heart rate. (If it’s a rainy day we will still get outside so come prepared!) You will be guided to focus on a specific theme each week pertaining to deepening the mindbody connection through meditation and movement.

Wednesdays June 1, 8, 15, 22 at 8:15-9:15AM
Thursdays June 2, 9, 16, 23 at 5:15-6:15PM
$175 for 1 class series or $300 for both
Location: Total Life Care Center, 152 East Ave, Norwalk
Email maggie@maggieconverse.com to register.


“What I am vs. What I should be”
Semi-Private Bowspring Classes 
4-week series starts June 6

Disassociation: the disconnection or separation of something from something else or the state of being disconnected.

When I read the definition of disassociation I understand this to be an opposite of yoga. It sheds light on how yoga helped me heal from an eating disorder and how it helps me cope with the pain and discomfort of migraines. When we are in pain (emotional or physical) as humans we tend to react by disassociating. We distract ourselves with alcohol, tv, drugs, sex, gossip, food, self-loathing, quickly fixing what we think is broken, and so forth. A true yoga practice asks that we connect and ASSOCIATE with our bodies and our beings. It creates space for us to let go of “what I should be” and instead recognize “what I am.”

This is a unique yoga experience that I have developed where we will deeply explore physical movement and engage in conversation. What you are feeling, both physically and emotionally, is the focus of the work we will do together in these intimate groups. Through movement and the understanding that comes from asking questions and dialogue, you will be guided to make the shift from “what I should be” to “what I am.” It is a long journey that is a lifelong practice that will allow you to awaken to your truth and break the habits of disassociating from our bodies and our beings.

Mondays starting June 6 (last class June 27)
Intro / Beginner at 8-9:15AM
Intermediate / Advanced at 9:30-10:45AM
Cost: $250 for the series
Location: Total Life Care Center, 152 East Ave, Norwalk
Email maggie@maggieconverse.com to register.

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When your coffee tastes like soap…

IMG_0151When you make a beautiful French press full of coffee, #bulletproof your coffee in time for your early morning client, and take that first sip and it tastes like soap…
 
I share this small anecdote because, typically, I would beat myself up for f*cking this one up. For not cleaning and properly rinsing my French press or thermos. For wasting that good coconut oil and butter. For thinking I was so on top of everything this morning – so much that I made bulletproof coffee – only to find that I screwed it all up…. Typically I would berate myself for being so bad and seeing this as an example of a failure.
 
Instead, this morning I tried something new:
 
I took that first sip and noticed my coffee tasted like my cucumber sea salt dish soap. I took another sip, thinking maybe it’s just in my head, maybe if I keep drinking it, the taste will magically disappear. I noticed myself feeling hopeful that I would get that smooth bulletproof taste without the hint of soap. The taste was definitely not going away. It definitely did NOT disappear.
 
And then I laughed. I smiled. I softened. I was more gentle with myself for this mistake and saw the humor in it. I acknowledged that I am not the greatest at rinsing my dishes thoroughly and that’s all it is. Just because I leave soap on my dishes does NOT mean I am a bad person or that I suck at life. It just means I don’t excel at rinsing dishes. Boom, that’s it.
 
This is a new habit I am working on building and an old habit I am working on moving away from. Building new habits, I’m learning, happens when we notice our actions and work from a place of self-acceptance and even self-love.
 
What habits do you notice coming up for you today? Don’t worry about changing anything right away. Simply notice.
 
With Love.
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Migraines: A New Chapter

migraineday 2Today I awoke with a piercing pain on the right side of my forehead, just above and slightly behind my right eye. I awoke to that, plus nausea. I immediately thought to myself “CRAP.” I had the sinking feeling I might be in for a migraine attack. Fear rose and I deliberated between muscling through the day or making the calls to cancel appointments and clients.

 

As soon as I stood up to go to the bathroom and drink some water I knew it: this one was for real. Sometimes I wake up with a mini-migraine that subsides after going through morning rituals of drinking water and moving around. The quality of pain is different than that of the full on migraine attack. The migraine attack includes the piercing pain traveling down the back of my skull to the top of my neck, that metallic taste in my mouth, and the nausea. These things signal it’s time to slow down and take care.

 

And what I’m learning, is that these migraines require time and patience. I’ve gotten to know them, to understand the ebbs and flows, the build up to peak pain and nausea, and then the slow descent back to feeling like myself again. Where I notice things like how blue the sky is, how wonderful it feels to move around, and how delicious food tastes.

 

To provide some background, for the last year I was on a clinical trial drug where I received a monthly injection to prevent migraines. Doubtful as I was, the trial worked and I was nearly migraine free for an entire year. When I say it changed my life, I really mean it. Long gone were the days of regularly canceling work and social events. And the PediaLite that sat in the back of my fridge for nearly a year finally got tossed out as I no longer needed it.

 

To wake up with this piercing migraine today triggered fear that “the migraines are returning.” I really don’t want to return to the way I was living my life where I would be out of commission for 2-3 days at a time 3-4 times per month. The only places I visited were the couch, the bathroom, and my bed while waiting for the migraine to pass. Needless to say it was a big lesson in impermanence: I constantly reminded myself “this too shall pass.”

 

As I venture into this new chapter of my experience with migraines, I am vowing to be gentler with myself. I wonder: What can I learn? How can I move more slowly? How can I take better care of myself? This process is sweet, soothing, and softening. Even just by taking this new perspective, I feel more at ease.

 

I spent an hour this afternoon lying on my floor supported by two bolsters and covered by a cozy white blanket with gongs playing in the background. I was transported out of the pain state. Even though the migraine didn’t totally disappear, the pain lessened and I felt more relaxed.
I felt grateful to surrender to the process of migraine and at the same time to take accountability for my own self healing. After giving myself this mini gong bath, my faith that “everything would be ok” was fully restored.

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Why I’m Not Doing Any Big Races in 2016

 

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I made a routine visit to my chiropractor last August, who also happened to be my running coach for Chicago Marathon. We started the visit with the usual: checking out my posture, alignment, palpating my upper hips, shoulders, and ribcage.

My face went flush when he remarked I lost weight as most marathon runners do. Over the previous weeks I noticed my clothes fitting differently but it wasn’t until it was confirmed that I had lost weight that I allowed myself to believe it.

Strangely, what was intended as an innocent observation by my coach became my obsession. I was on such a high from my coach’s innocent observation and inspected subtle changes in my body as mileage piled on each week… 6 miles on Tuesday,  8 miles on Friday, and 18 miles on Sunday. Every mile was like money in the bank: An investment to maintain thin.

With every additional mile it was like money in the bank that I would maintain the weight loss. An investment to maintain thin.

Meanwhile, in the height of summer I was experiencing flu-like symptoms, taking naps daily as my body often crashed half-way through the day. I pushed myself through nearly all my runs to maintain my training schedule and, as much as I hate to admit this, I liked this new thinner version of myself! I was keeping the weight off by running like a maniac.

Bloodwork showed my iron levels were extremely low, and my doctor cautioned me not to proceed with the marathon training as it could jeopardize my health by pushing myself too hard.

My solution was to take supplements and adjust my diet so that I got enough nutrients. Not once did I deprive myself of food while training. I ate, and still can eat, like a horse. But in the back of my mind I knew this “diet” was also beneficial for weight-loss so, in making this diet change I was in a win-win situation: increase my energy / iron AND keep the marathon weight off or, even better, on a steady decline.

I finished Chicago Marathon and had the time of my life. Thanks to the training program specifically designed for me by my coach I felt strong and capable. In the days preceding the race I got the post-race blues and scrambled for “what am I gonna do next?!”

I love the thrill and challenge of a race and I love running. The training is tough but strengthens me in so many ways beyond physical and there is an exhilaration around race day like none other. My foray into endurance sports has not been entirely a means to a weight-loss, body fat deprivation end.

But as I got off my high Chicago Marathon horse I started noticing something: I was terrified of when the weight would come back on. (I know – the amount of weight is negligible and something few people would notice.) Once my body recovered I started running again and tracked how many days per week I was active and constantly questioned myself, “was it enough?”

About one month out from the race, my jeans tightened around my waistline. I stared at myself in the mirror and said FUCK. It was too late. While I was busy getting my social life back in order, those pounds piled right back on and I said hello to a familiar friend: the bulge around my belly and my expanding, softening love-handles.

I turned to more yoga classes, meditation, and in the hopes that I would find salvation and solution to my “problem” I pinpointed my next race: a  half-marathon trail race in mid-Spring.

Meditation took up more of the time that I once filled with running and with the help of that practice I realized how obsessive I became about my body’s softer, post-marathon shape. A trail race is something I have wanted to do for a long time but now I found myself posing the question: is this the healthiest thing for me to do? Is this really the answer?

Once you have an eating disorder you are never wholly “cured” from it. Yoga healed me and pulled me out of a deep, dark hole but I always knew I was never immune to bulimia residue surfacing as I got older and here I saw I was absolutely right. Running and a packed training schedule took the role of purging.

So as I enter into 2016 and consider my “race calendar,” I proceed with caution and curiosity.

Call it a resolution, an intention, or a goal – this year I will mindfully approach the endurance athlete within me. As I visit a race page I will pause and ask myself what are the motivating factors compelling me to click “Register” and hand over the following 4 months of my free time to training.

My body has settled into what feels like my normal shape and size (but then again, what is normal?) and I have voluntarily taken an indefinite break from running and excessive exercise. I’m listening to my triggers and when my boyfriend tells me he likes the softness of my love-handles I do my best to believe him and see my body from a much kinder place.

For any endurance athlete out there, I am not writing this to discount or discourage your sport. I am merely noticing my own experience and how my love of running combined with a “never give up” attitude took me far beyond my limits and into dangerous territory that was no longer serving me. It’s time I take a few steps back and recalibrate in the hopes that I can revisit my running shoes while maintaining a deep love and respect for the shape of my body.

All in due time.

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Trusting My Body Bouldering

I went bouldering last night at Rock Climb Fairfield – putting my Bowspring form to the test. I tackled the first climb thinking oh man I’ve so got this, I’m gonna fly right up that wall. Only to make it past maybe the 3rd hold before falling onto the crash pad.

We spent well over an hour at the gym and each time I approached the wall I realized it wasn’t about tackling the wall head on, full throttle – it was about slowing down, calming down, and – dare I say – NOT trying so hard.

When I reminded myself not to try so hard, my body started working more efficiently. Miracles didn’t happen, I did not skyrocket to the top, I was humbled each time I attempted the easiest climbs as I maybe only made it to the top twice. I noticed though that I was able to use my body to my advantage as I shifted my feet and my hips from side to side, tapping into the power in my legs rather than gripping for dear life.

You don’t have to try so hard, I kept reminding myself. Each time I gave myself permission to do that, I made small gains and started to get more of an understanding of how this bouldering stuff works.

I have gone climbing (indoors and ONCE outdoor!) a handful of times and confronted my fears of heights, falling, and failing. It was not until yesterday that I started to see how I could work WITH my body rather than against it. I could work WITH the wall rather than fight it.

I wasn’t just reaching with my arms but with the power in my legs and the desire in my heart to not get down on myself for falling but instead to just keep going. Even when I fell, I did not get discouraged: instead I rested, recovered, and hopped back up to try the next climb. And when I tried again I moved slowly, calmly, efficiently, and trusted my body.

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It’s Safe to Feel What You Feel

2442995055_97a02d8124_z It was my second class this week at the eating disorder treatment center.

There was already a palpable tension as I walked in, like the feeling of seeing a someone hold a knife over someone’s chest the moment before a major surgery…you just don’t know what might happen.

A soft sobbing shape quietly whimpered.  Women filtered in to do yoga with heads hung low. The crook in their torsos and abdomens hinted at a deep dark secret concealed below the layers of uncomfortable skin and shame.

Arranging the women so everyone had their space, pillows, blocks, etc., I placed a kind hand on the shoulder of the crying woman. A gesture to ask “are you alright?”, and let her know “you’re going to be okay”.

As I settled in to teach, I had an urge to spill my guts to these these women.

Read the full piece on Elephant Journal by clicking here.

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Forgive and Let Live

“Forgiveness clears out the old weeds and lets the sunlight in.”
– from friend and soul teacher, Josh Kane

My friend was sharing with me about his recent reconnection with an ex-girlfriend, or in his words a “past love.” I prefer his term past love as it holds more reverence and respect.

His experience was such that he felt a genuine joy from talking to this woman who I am sure at one point or another hurt him in some way. But he expressed that because of his ability to forgive her, he was finally able to derive joy and learning from the simple experience of reconnecting and hearing that she was on a much better path. He felt happy not only for his past love, but also for himself.

There was no filter, no ulterior motive, no agenda. What existed in its most pure and powerful form was forgiveness.

It got me thinking about my own experience with past loves. About how I can’t reach out with an open heart until all has been forgiven. And it’s not that I feel compelled to remain best buds with my exes (believe me, I have tried and failed), but should the occasion occur where we are prompted to engage in casual conversation, or perhaps call upon one another for a family tragedy, it’s nice to know you can interact with integrity and respect. No agenda. No ulterior motives.

I want you to think about how it feels to hold a grudge. Come on – we’ve all been there, I know you’ve done it. I have! When we hold a grudge, when we hold onto the way someone hurt us, when we hold onto the OLD STORY, we perpetuate and live in the old patterns and habits. Even if we have found a new partner, new friends, or a new career. When we hold a grudge we are doing ourselves the greatest disservice: we are depleting our own energy (and time!) by festering on what might have been instead of relishing in what is.

How can we appreciate the person, the love, the compassion that is presented right in front of us when we are stuck churning over past pain?

I don’t want to discount experiencing feelings to their fullest. In fact, I realize the necessity to feel our full spectrum of feelings in order to be able to forgive. When we suffocate the hurt and pretend we are hunky dory, that’s when forgiveness can seem to be eons away. We build ourselves the proverbial “wall.”

Every forgiveness will not lead to a restored friendship or even an amicable relationship between past loves. Sometimes all it means is that you forgive someone in your heart and let live. You let them live their life and you go on living yours.

The big difference however is that when you live your life you no longer carry the old story, the resentment, the anger, or perhaps even the fear that a wrong-doing will happen to you again.

You are OK with the fact, with the plain and simple truth, that it’s highly probable someone in your life will hurt you again. And again, and again, and again.

Forgiveness benefits the other person, absolutely. But when we forgive we are actually giving ourselves a beautiful gift. We are giving ourselves permission to proceed forward. It is not that we forget those who have crossed our paths, loved us and hurt us – no, they stay with us like a dear old shoe. But we can move forward with grace, so that we can approach that person with respect and truth. And so that we can treat ourselves with utmost respect and truth.

It is in this way that when we enter into new relationships and friendships we recognize what our values are. So that we can surround ourselves with the best possible people.

For some reason I keep thinking back to a particular past love. Let’s call him Tyler.

Tyler and I had what you would call a whirlwind romance. We fell in love hard and quickly. The relationship lasted about two years and seemed to crumble just as fast as it was built. Of course in retrospect, I see that it was built on very dissimilar values and a lack of truthful communication.

In the end there was so much hurt. This was the first time I really felt that sensation of my heart being ripped out of my chest. Torn into shreds. And then stomped on by angry elephants.

Tyler and I reconnected about a year after our break up and of course we hurt each other again. Or really, I hurt him. Why? Because I had never forgiven him. What followed was a slew of who could hurt the other person more, with him finally coming out “on top” with a mean email to beat all mean emails in life. An email that made me feel like a worthless piece of shit. The communication stopped there. Right in its tracks. I realized that responding to him in a similar manner would do me no good. Would only perpetuate the hurt. But then what? What was next?

It has taken me nearly three years to realize that what is next is the process of forgiveness. Forgiveness that can happen even though Tyler is no longer in my life. We no longer communicate in any form or function. We haven’t in three years.

I will sometimes sit at my computer, compelled to write him an email letting him know “I forgive you.” But I realize that’s not what is important. I am not looking for a response. I am not looking for an explanation. I am looking for a sense of relief, of letting go of the hurt that has rested and made a home in my heart.

As the hurt is let go and as I continue my process of forgiving Tyler, I start to open new opportunities, new doors for love in so many different ways. I also realize how I can start to forgive in other relationships and friendships. I notice the price we pay when we hold onto our hurt.

If it happens to be a past love – or present – allow yourself to feel the hurt. To get angry. Maybe even write it all down – as if you would present this in a letter to that person. But find your way to release it and to enter the process of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is power. Forgiveness is freedom. Forgiveness is a gesture of absolute love.

It is the magic potion that clears out the weeds and lets the sun shine in.

Check out Josh Kane and incredible yoga teacher Jennifer Buckman at Pop Up Yoga CT this summer – Yoga + Live Music = LOVE! 

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That’s their shit. Why you can’t please everybody.

IMG_7725I pay a lot of attention (ok probably way too much attention) to the unsubscribes from my email list. And I noticed that yesterday, someone marked my most recent email as “abuse.” My immediate reaction was a combination of expletives, anger, and a lot of complaining and attempting to explain why this had happened. (What had I done? I asked myself.)

This theme of pleasing everyone has come up a lot for me recently. Both for myself and for others very close to me.

I lived for a long time as a people pleaser. You could say I still do to a certain degree, but I am learning to let it go. Growing up and into my twenties I was constantly yearning to please my family, friends, colleagues, people I barely knew. God forbid I ever say something someone did not agree with.

When in the midst of trying to please everybody, or trying to control the outcome it now occurs to me … STOP, Just Stop. Because in no alternate universe do I please everybody, do I control the outcome, do I never offend.

I have always HATED the notion that a given situation might possibly be slightly uncomfortable, or extremely uncomfortable. (That there is MY own shit – and I’m working on being comfortable with discomfort, that this is normal, this is life!)

But then I remember: I am not a mind-reader. And you aren’t either.

And then I remember: there is absolutely no way I can please everyone. I probably can’t even please most of them.

I was at dinner with some friends and a hypothetical and potentially very uncomfortable situation came up. We were playing it out – how the situation might unfold and I chimed in “if they are disrespectful or unkind to you, that’s their shit.”

And oh how I needed to take my own advice!

It occurred to me it’s often as simple as that. If we go as far as we can for someone, through being open and honest and available, and yet there is still a lack of kindness and respect, then what it boils down to is: that’s their shit.

And guess what? It is highly likely that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, no amount of arguing or defending your case that will change that.

What’s funny is that I am writing this to primarily remind myself that …

I am not a mindreader.

I cannot please everyone.

If someone has a problem with me then most likely, that’s their shit.

But I would bet money that many of you reading this are in great need of that reminder as well. When do you find yourself bending over backward to gain acceptance? To please? To attempt controlling the outcome?

Maybe the next time you find yourself in that situation can you simply … let it go. And remember, You Are Not A Mindreader. You Cannot Please Everyone. Sometimes … That’s their shit.

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