Beautiful People

It’s been a week of challenging circumstances and life stories. Not necessarily in my immediate world, but with friends and neighbors. To protect my friends, I can’t share details. But I will ask everyone to continue thinking not just positive thoughts, but compassionate ones, too. We don’t always know what’s happening behind the scenes, behind those proverbial closed doors, and lots of people are struggling, and lots of people are hurting, and lots of people need our love. Fortunately we can do that, and love doesn’t cost us anything. Love is just a choice, like choosing to see the good instead of the bad, or refusing to give in to panic or doomsday thinking.

I wish I could tell you some of the stories of what I’ve heard and seen. These stories hurt my heart, and my heart aches now, but ‘feeling bad’ accomplishes nothing. Instead I try to focus on what I can do–and that’s offering people understanding and hope and patience, and strength. When I went through my divorce it seemed like I lost a lot of ‘friends’. People are afraid of those who are suffering. We’re afraid of pain. But pain won’t kill us or break us. Pain isn’t contagious.  Pain doesn’t make us weak. Pain is real. Pain is part of life, and we don’t have to shy away from those who need a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, or a helping hand.

If there is anything good about hard times and difficult circumstances–and pain–its that maybe we can finally get real.  Maybe we can allow others–and ourselves–to be flawed, to be real people, which is to be imperfect. If you follow the gossip mags, you’ll know that singer/actress Jessica Simpson has been hassled by the media over her weight in the past two weeks and one of her friends say Jessica’s learned two important lessons: 1) not to wear unflattering jeans, and 2) that she can’t always be perfect. I smiled at her first bit of wisdom, and felt sad at the second. We’re people. We’ll never, ever be perfect. It’s impossible. We’re gong to screw up (I soooo screwed up this week with my older son…bad parenting at its finest). No matter how good our intentions, we won’t ever do everything exactly right. It just won’t happen.

So instead of perfection, instead of impossible standards and expectations, let’s just be real. I’m so tired of society asking women to be like glossy magazine advertisements. I’m so tired of women thinking they have to be gorgeous or perfect or almost perfect to feel worthy of love. Including self-love.

Can we just use this period of time to cut through the bull shit? To say enough of the unrealistic expectations? Enough with the pressure? And enough with lies?

Not to return to money talk–I don’t like talking about money but its the source of a lot of peoples’ misery right now–but  we women have to separate fact from fiction. We’ve got to get smart about money. We’ve got to get smart about survival. I’m about to rant here, but most financial institutions aren’t our friends. They’re not there to help us. They make money off of us.  Lots of money in some cases.

Mortgage companies that made loans to people that really couldn’t afford them just so the lenders could make easy money should be punished. Will they be? Probably not. Credit card companies are just as bad, if not the worst.

The biggest financial mistake I ever made was getting lots of different credit cards. Thank God over the past five years I’ve slowly paid off the various balances and whittled all those cards down to two, and now I must pay off the balance on those two cards (one for personal, one for business) in full every month or I’ve vowed to eliminate those cards as well. Credit card rates and fees and late charges and over limit charges will destroy you. Just like with banks and certain financial lenders, credit card companies aren’t our friends and they may make cute festive commercials for Christmas, but they’ll loan you money and make it nearly impossible to catch up and pay them back without going in deeper debt. Why didn’t I read all the fine print on the credit card statements years and years ago? Why didn’t I realize that credit isn’t good, or necessary? Far better not to have stuff than to owe your soul.

And remember, no matter what happens, no matter the amount of debt or the size of the problems–there is a solution, and there are people who will help. If you need help, ask. It’s okay to ask for help. We’re not supposed to be able to do everything by ourselves. We’re not supposed to be perfect.

For those of you who pray, and believe in the power of prayer, I ask you to pray for those who struggle right now. And for those of you who don’t pray, I ask you to be real, to be compassionate, and to be there for those who need a real friend.

Life doesn’t have to be picture perfect to be beautiful. Beauty isn’t about the surface. Beauty is found in love and compassion and strength. Real friends, real people, now that’s beautiful.

I have three sweet treats I’m giving away–red heart photo albums, See’s chocolates, JP heart candles, and your choice of one of my books–for three winners who post in the comment section below. The contest will run through Monday night and I’ll announce the winners Tuesday morning. You can post anything–what you’re reading, how you’re spending your Sunday, what your Monday is like–and you’re entered. Good luck to all of you, my beautiful people.

(PS A little housekeeping task: I still haven’t heard from the In The Pink contest winner, as well as two of my last three winners. I’m going to start limiting folks to a week to get back to me and then I’ll pick a new winner. If you don’t want the prize, just email me and let me know, because there are lots of you who would love the prize. Please check in the comments at the end of each blog to see who won. If you won, that’s where your name will be!!)

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