Growing Learning Loving

5 reasons why my brand is LOVE

I guess we can consider this an all-in-one Brand Positioning Statement, “About Me” bonus track, and a “Hero’s Journey” tale.

In my journey, I’ve had to overcome obstacles — just like you in your life and everyone else in their lives. It’s up to each one of us to decide how to make use of our experiences — whether they will hold us down or lift us up, and whether we’ll bring the people we encounter each day up or down with us.

I’ve decided that love is my purpose, and I want to bring others to a place of love as well. Here are five reasons why love is my reason for being.

5. Life is tough

I grew up just another kid of an alcoholic dad. At the time, if there were kids around me that had dads that were just as bad as or worse than mine, I didn’t know about it. I thought all of my friends’ dads were great. Therefore I didn’t just feel like the winner of the “worst dad” contest — I felt like I was the only one competing. (I realize now that was not the case, but that’s what it felt like when I was a kid.)

Dealing with the shame and low self-esteem brought on by my father’s alcoholism was a daily struggle. As such, the nicknames I earned from boyfriends included “Princess of Gloom and Doom,” “Grumpy Dumpy,” and simply “Baby.” And they were guys who actually cared for me quite a bit.

I was already carrying a bunch of mental baggage, to say the least. Then along came the stalker. He was convicted and my dad died within eight months of each other.

I’m the one that found my dad dead after all the alcohol finally rotted completely through one or more of his major organs. I was 25 years old.

One would hope with both of those situations at a close that life would simply go on from there with all the pain left in the past. But that’s not how humans work.

Over the next couple of years, I was trying to make sense of the world. I had lots of ups and downs — a lot of asking “why me?”

But then I decided I was ready for the pain, fear, and self-doubt to be over. I actually stood out in the middle of a field and made a commitment to the universe to do my best to grow stronger and become kind, honest, brave, and wise.

The Celts saw the oak tree as a symbol of truth, bravery and kindness.
Photo by Sebastian Beck on

But healing from all those years of trauma takes time. Imagine that my psyche was an hourglass. One bulb was reserved for hope and inspiration. Following the stalker and my dad’s death, that bulb was empty. The other bulb was reserved for pain and anger, and it held all the sand.

The day I made that commitment in the field to change my attitude, the hour glass was turned upside down. Each grain of sand fell one at a time through the narrow neck.

Even though the sand was slowly accumulating in the positivity and optimism bulb, there was still sand in the pain and anger bulb for a long while.

Over time, I was able to forgive my dad first, the stalker later. That took, no lie, around 25 years — almost the same amount of time for the trauma to accumulate in the first place.

When we’re willing to accept that life is tough but that we don’t have to allow the worst parts to be the biggest part of us, we are able to lift ourselves up from rock bottom to new heights of love and patience.

4. Life is short

Around the time I turned 30, I began counting up all the times throughout my life I had come out of some pretty dangerous situations completely unscathed. Not even counting my encounters with my dad or the stalker, there was a bad fall from some monkey bars; a runaway horse; an out-of-control carnival ride; a high-speed, head-on car crash; three one-on-one run-ins with demented men, and two near asphyxiations from carbon monoxide.

Don’t misinterpret this to think I was reckless and looking for trouble or attention. These all started out as everyday events that simply took a turn for the worse.

Beating the odds that many times felt like I was still here for a reason. I wanted to show my gratitude for having been given so many second chances. I wasn’t sure how many more near misses I had left in me, and I wanted to make a difference in the world somehow before my time here was through.

A dead tree contrasted with the infinite of space. We only have a short time on Earth to make a difference.
Photo by Matej Čurlík on

Then when I was in my early 40s my mom died suddenly from health complications. I was devastated. Completely unprepared for life without my biggest cheerleader.

Seven years later my niece suffered an accidental death. All the opportunities I wasted to tell her things I wish I had said. Or to do the things with her I wish we could have done together.

When we value life and accept that it is a temporary condition for each of us, we cherish time more meaningfully. We understand that we can’t take people for granted. We need to make the most of our relationships with people while we still have the time together. Embracing this makes it easier for us to forgive and give unconditional love.

3. It opens you up to possibilities

Two years after my mom passed, when I was still feeling abandoned, my desired career path came to an end. I was shocked that I was not successful in convincing everyone I was the right person for the job that I believed I was destined for.

But I couldn’t see myself the way others were seeing me. And I learned that’s not always a bad thing.

Although I didn’t love the decision my leaders had made for me (at first), I still loved them unconditionally, and I was willing to try things their way — to see where they thought my talents could take me.

Some say daisies are a symbol of new beginnings.
Photo by Taryn Elliott on

They placed me in a role where my primary job was writing. Then they asked me to mentor others as writers.

I enjoyed this role so much, I began writing for personal fulfillment. I began putting into words all the thoughts that I had been cataloging in my head for so many years. I wrote about my experiences and what I felt. I continued to write and think, and write and learn, and write and grow. That was the start of me becoming a storyteller.

Being a loving person means you are willing to be vulnerable. You risk getting hurt, but when you put yourself in the hands of people who you love and trust, you open yourself to possibilities that you might not have chosen yourself. You may find yourself journeying to a whole new place of learning and growing.

2. It gives you new purpose

When I was given the blessing of writing for a living, which turned out to be something I love to do, I had found purpose in my life. My talents, interests, and path were aligned.

I found a way that I could reflect on my experiences and write openly about how I got from there to here. I thought that maybe in telling my story, I could offer hope for someone who is in the place where I was — someone who wants to feel like they’re not in a “worst ever” contest all by their self.

Having a desire to help others through my storytelling gave new meaning to everything I had experienced. My bad times no longer felt like heavy baggage when I saw them as opportunities to maybe help someone else see their way through their own tangled mess of emotions.

Some feel the sunflower is a symbol of hope, happiness and renewal.
Photo by Pixabay on

I decided to make it a real thing — me sharing my thoughts and experiences to help others learn, grow and love from their pain, fear and regrets. I wrote two books (one still unpublished), and I started this blog. I’m creating a silver lining not just for myself, but hopefully for others too.

Each one of us has innate gifts and circumstances through which we can manifest love and happiness. We’re not meant to hold these for ourselves or use the rewards for our own happiness. We are meant to share our lives with others — to experience the scary, crazy, and awesomeness of being human with others, to make life better for others.

1. It lets you change the world

I believe we each have the responsibility to contribute positively to the world around us. Not just going through our daily routines on auto pilot and complaining when something doesn’t meet our expectations. I mean making a conscience effort every day to put someone else’s needs first and to make a difference in someone else’s life.

I also believe that each one of us can make the world a better place. We don’t need to have a big voice or a vast platform. We just need to do what we can within our means, using our unique talents and opportunities, to make life better for those around us.

This hybrid tea rose is named "Peace." I bought and planted it in my yard during the riots following the death of George Floyd.

And that’s why my brand is LOVE.

I write for anyone who may have trouble seeing that everyday occurrences hold meaning about the purpose of our lives. I value optimism, and I prioritize continuous improvement. I believe that when we are able to let go of our pain and fear, we are able to turn our struggles into inspiration for others. Therefore, I hope to encourage you to keep learning and growing to become a more loving person. And in doing that, we’re all spreading seeds of love.

Thank you for spending these moments with me, thinking about life. If you like what you’ve read, I’d love for you to share it. Spread some seeds…


Confidence part 2 – What’s wrong with this picture?

A few months ago I got the chance at my 9 to 5 job to have my portrait taken. The last time I had a portrait done was for my college graduation. It would be nice to have a professional profile picture, and since I was planning to launch my blog, the timing was perfect.

Right away I began planning what I’d wear. A classic blue blouse would be professional. Not wearing a jacket would make it more casual. And the color would bring out my eyes. That was easy.

Next was jewelry. The pieces needed to be subtle. I picked a simple solitaire necklace and pearl earrings. For a bit of hidden character, you’ll have to look again at the earrings to see the pearls are being held by talons.

Picture day came, and I waited my turn with a few colleagues. Finally I was next. The photographer and his assistant went through the usual routine of trying lighting variances, adjusting the tilt of my head, the lean of my body, smile/don’t smile, look here/look away, and so forth.

At the end, when the photographer typically compliments you to give you confidence about how the shoot went, I was really, really hoping he’d say I had looked beautiful, but instead he said, “You did great. Your pictures will look very… sincere.”

Sincere? What’s up with that? Did he just give me the photographer’s equivalent of someone setting you up on a blind date — “she’s got a great personality?”

OK, I’ll be honest. Remember the old joke about the guy who breaks both of his hands and asks the doctor if he’ll be able to play the piano after the operation? The doctor says, “Of course!” and the guy says, “That’s great because I wasn’t able to play the piano before!”

That’s pretty much me hoping the photographer would say I was beautiful. I may have had a pretty good, long run of being cute, but I know I’ve never been beautiful. If the photographer had said that, he’d be seriously exaggerating. But sincere? Really?

Settling for meh

I’ll admit I was anxious waiting for the proofs to be ready. When the email arrived with a link to the collection, I scrolled past a few of my colleagues – all of whom looked absolutely amazing – and stopped dead when I got to me. “That’s me?” I thought, “That’s what I look like?”

The person who I was seeing in the proofs is not the person who I see in the mirror at home. Somehow I’m confident when I look at myself in the comfort of my own home, but now looking at me in these photos, I felt like I don’t know who I am any longer. Inside my head I feel like I’m still 26 years old and a size six. Where the heck did the last 25 years go… and where did those last 25 pounds come from?

No exaggeration — there were 75 shots of me, and I meticulously examined each one. Teeth look like a chipmunk. Head tilt looks like a terrier. Not smiling enough. Smiling too much. Right eye too droopy, too watery. Finding a shot that I didn’t shake my head at was difficult.

After a really long time, I narrowed it down from 75 photos to six — then to just two. I spent a whole lot of time deliberating over this decision. I was acting as if the lives of my unborn grandchildren rest on it. Finally I gave notice of which photo I picked along with four touch-ups to be made.

When I received the final portrait, the changes had been made with such skill that you’d never know the difference, but I was still not happy with it. My attitude was, “It is what it is…,” as pitiful as that is to say. Slowly I began to accept the “old lady” in this photo and started uploading her to all of my online profiles.

Seeing myself for who I really am

Then a few nights ago, I was binge watching Little Fires Everywhere. Kerry Washington’s character is a photographic artist. Reese Witherspoon’s character suggested to her that she could earn steady income by being a portrait photographer. Here’s how Kerry’s character responded in the book version: “…the thing about portraits is, you need to show people the way they want to be seen. And I prefer to show people as I see them.”

Thankfully, that brief statement brought me back to where I ought to be. I may have been a lot cuter when I was 26, but I was also a whole lot less wise. Back then, I gave more consideration to my looks than my character, and that perspective was leaving a bigger impression on people than I could have ever imagined.

Once again I heard the photographer’s last words to me: “You look sincere.”

I remembered that being sincere is way more important to me these days than being seen as beautiful or cute. External beauty fades, but internal beauty is a thing of character. When my mom died nine years ago, so many people told me how much my mom had inspired them. Not one person mentioned what they thought of my mom’s looks.

That’s when I had decided to honor my mom by working a whole lot harder on being beautiful on the inside. I’m still nowhere near the end of that journey, but I’m loving every step of it. And now I have renewed confidence to keep moving in that direction – in the direction of true sincerity.

So to undo all the pressure I put on myself believing my portrait had to be perfect, here’s what the untouched photo looks like, and below are the things that were changed:

  1. Removed the hood ornament from the car that I was leaning on. It was pointing up out of my left shoulder like a misplaced rhino horn.
  2. Removed the clasp from my necklace. It had slipped around the right side of my neck.
  3. Removed the two bumps near my left brow. Sun damage.
  4. Whitened my teeth a bit. Too many Cokes and other sodas consumed.

If it is your intention to continuously learn and grow, then you need to be reminded once in a while who you once were and how far you’ve come. That backward glance could be to see how much your appearance has changed over the years, or it could be about something actually important, like how much you’ve focused on and contributed to others, to make others happy and to help them have a better life. You shouldn’t continuously focus on the past, but taking a look back once in a while is a great way to see how much further you want to go, and to strengthen your confidence to get you there.

Thank you for spending these moments with me, thinking about life. If you like what you’ve read, I’d love for you to share it. Spread some seeds…