Sunday, August 25, 2013

The secret our society could afford to learn

I'm going to tell you a story. It's my story, and it is a perfect demonstration of why the feminist agenda with its bumper-sticker philosophies boils my blood. My opinion is not popular opinion, so you may not agree with me.

I think that we, as a culture, need to stop idolizing women and demonizing men. I think that we need to bring back the culture from the 40s and 50s, where men were allowed to be the heads of their homes, where women actually respected the men in their lives and the rewards for that respect were security, love, and

I love my life. Today I'm a happy housewife and carpool-companion. My husband is a great man, who works hard through the good times and even harder in the bad ones. He's built a company literally out of nothing - when we started our computer company he didn't even own a screwdriver! Just a year and a half after that we're more profitable than we imagined we would be and we know that blessing is going to increase. My husband is also helping me to build a second company, through our Amway business, into an asset that will take care of us and our family through retirement. He's a strong man, a wise man who has been my counselor and my strength many times. He's a man who never gives up, never even thinks about it.

I respect my husband immensely, and my respect for him is a big part of the reason that we are where we are today.

Now, that may sound prideful, but I'm not boasting. I know for a fact that if I didn't respect him, he wouldn't be able to be so amazing. We wouldn't have a successful and profitable company, we wouldn't be building an asset that will take care of us in the future, and life would not be as happy as it is today. I know this because there was a time when I didn't respect him.

You see, I was raised in The United States of America, land of the free, home of the brave, and the country where girls are taught from a very young age that men are worthless.

Don't believe me? Take a look at your 5 year old's television shows. In vast majority, the male characters are fools. If they do manage to accomplish anything it's by accident or with the help of a stronger, smarter female character. Take a look at facebook, where there are floods of bumper-sticker philosophies about how amazing and wonderful women are and how lucky men are to have us around, but there is a striking absence of these same posts about how incredible the men in our lives truly are.

I grew up thinking that men, by and large, were stupid. They were brutes with physical strength amd steel stomachs, good enough to accomplish the things that I as a girl did not want to do, but that was their only redeeming trait. Otherwise, they might as well be cavemen or primordial ooze. They caused trouble, interfered with the goals that I as a strong and independent woman should have, and were mostly just in the way.

Then I became a teenager. I started reading romance novels and murder mystery novels and there was a theme. Women were the heroes. They were smart, sexy, cunning, and irresistible. They could get anyone to do anything they wanted. But because they were such conquerors, their lives were boring. Enter the "hero" of the story: A dashing, muscular brute who drags trouble into our heroine's life that she then has to use her own balls of steel to overcome - in the end, rescuing him but falling madly in love with him anyway.

Despite being raised this way (by no real fault of my mother, who tried to teach me that everyone is equal to everyone else), the feminist agenda didn't sit well with me. What if I wanted to stay at home and bake cookies for the rest of my life instead of being the Head B In Charge at some corporate office? What if I wanted to be loved and protected, instead of just feared and respected? I was confused because something in my natural wiring didn't agree with the messages I was being fed. I was taught that women were better than men, but men had been keeping us down for centuries and it was time to prove that we were smarter, faster, stronger, and more capable in general. But in my heart, I wanted a Prince Charming to vanquish the dragons while I stayed a safe distance away shouting "good job, honey!"

This confusion led me into a very bad relationship. In my search for a man who was the opposite of what I'd been taught men were, I found one of the brutes we are so often warned against. He talked of taking care of me the way I'd always craved. The only trade off was that I would be absolutely subject to him. Naive, confused, and searching for something other than the only thing I was ever taught I could have, I agreed. I spent the next year in a very abusive relationship, as a domestic slave to a man who took great pleasure from beating me until I passed out, in the name of an off-beat set of sexual desires. The year-long relationship did more damage to me mentally and emotionally than all of the trials, hardships, and even traumas of the other 21 years of my life combined. Four years later, memories of that relationship still bring me nightmares, tears, and waves of deep depression that take all of my strength to push through.

At some other point, I will tell this part of my story, and why it breaks my heart that so many reach out to Bulgaria, Romania, and other countries to stop human trafficking there, but never think about offering to help the teenager in the apartment next door. We as a country are so consumed with sending our good deeds overseas that we completely forget to look to our own shores where there are frightened and broken people being subject to the exact same levels of mistreatment.
After this relationship, I saw myself as having one option. I had to grow into the balls of steel woman I had been taught to emulate - the one I didn't want to be. I prayed that day, for the first time in three years. I prayed desperately and told God that if he had any heart at all, he would find some sort of brutal, painful death for me. I figured the pain would make up for the mistakes I'd made in the past year, and I desperately wanted to die. I didn't want to live in a world where I would never be truly loved and protected, and I would have to spend the rest of my life as the hardened corporate woman. And I saw my experiences with that man as proof that there were no good men in the world. They were all either weak or abusive.

When I started dating my husband, I found myself with a man who wasn't abusive. In my mind that meant he was weak. I had no respect for him. I was constantly belittling him, second guessing him, and counter-acting him. I would roll my eyes at his jokes and his silly antics, snap at him for trying to help me with anything, and I expected him to be at my beck and call. He lived in a very small cage, which I had constructed around him with my criticisms. His self image, already low from a decade and a half of working in a job where he received the same treatment, spiraled downward. He began to have terrible health problems, and I started to resent him for them because he was being a burden on me. We were fighting all the time. Not little fights either. No, these were screaming matches, in each other's faces, screaming our voices raw. They always ended with him leaving the house just to escape me, and me so frustrated and angry that I was pounding my fists into the floor until my hands were so bruised I could barely move them. There was so much anger, resentment, and frustration on both sides.

But it didn't stop there. I didn't think I should have to respect him, because the only examples I had in my life of men who were "respected" were men like my abusive ex. In my mind, respect was a filthy word, used to guilt women into being doormats. It meant that I was expected to sit down, shut up, take whatever abuse was dealt me and make do with whatever lack came from that abuse.

Our relationship got worse and worse, and our living situation spiraled with it. The health problems progressed, turning into a year of him being on narcotics that completely took his mind away - which I also resented him for. Our financial situation decreased, ending in us losing our home to foreclosure and being sued by hospitals and a credit card company. Eventually, the company he was working for was sold and he was not strong enough to make a case for himself to be hired at the new company without a significant pay cut, so he lost his job.

Are all of these things entirely my fault? No. But they could have been made so much better if I knew what respect was, and if I had respected my husband.

A year and a half ago, I found myself faced with a very difficult choice. Desperate for something to change in the insane cycle of fighting, I had spent the year before that devouring marriage and relationship books and begging my new mentors for every and any insight they had. It all came down to one word: Respect.

Men inherently need respect. Just like women are wired for love and security, men need respect and trust. I had learned that respect didn't mean what I thought it meant. It wasn't giving someone else permission to treat you like nothing. Instead, it was acknowledging the other person's strength and - in the case of my husband and myself - allowing him to take the lead. It was trusting that he was capable, believing he was strong enough and smart enough, and keeping myself from criticising when I thought he wasn't doing something right, or rubbing his nose in whatever failures he might have.

A year and a half ago, I came home from a women's bible study, and the air was tense. My husband looked at me and told me that he was going to push for a higher salary with the new company, and that might mean he would lose his job. We were already struggling financially. We had lost our home, been forced to give away our dog, and were living on a credit card and the grace of what few friends we had. Just that morning I had made a commitment to God that I was going to start trusting my husband, since trust is the gateway to respect. So when he told me this, I went into the bathroom and had a serious conversation with God.

I had a choice. I could go back on my promise and start second guessing my husband. It would be easy enough. We were barely making it with what money we had and if he lost his job we would likely join the ranks of those who draw on welfare just to survive. I could go back into the living room, tell him how I thought this was a bad decision and I wasn't going to support him in it. I could spend the next few days belittling his ability and convincing him that he didn't deserve a raise.

Or, I could trust him. Something in my spirit knew that trusting him, in that moment, was the only way that anything was ever going to change. And so I trusted him, and he lost his job, and we started a company. We spent the first six months so broke that we occasionally had to show up at customers' offices and ask them to pay us earlier than they had planned to, just so we could buy groceries or put gas in the car. I spent that next year really struggling with having respect toward my husband. Each time I would fall back on my old habits, profitability would be lost. We would go backwards financially, business would come to a screeching halt, and I would have an argument with God.

Today, I've learned to trust my husband wholeheartedly. I know that, whatever comes our way, he's smart enough and strong enough to get us through it. He trusts and follows God, and God has blessed him with an amazing intuition. It's my respect for him, my awe of his abilities and appreciation for his work ethic, that allows me to keep smiling and stay at peace when he makes a risky decision. I know that he's probably being guided by that intuition of his. And on the rare occasion that he's wrong, he's pretty awesome at fixing it.

I'm immeasurably blessed in my life, because of the respect I have for my husband. He's stronger because that core need of his is being met, and that leads him to work harder and stretch farther and sometimes take bigger risks. All of this turns around to bless me even more, with a happy husband who showers me with attention, with the funds to relax and have fun, with two businesses that are thriving and keeping me busy and entertained. All because I made the decision to have respect for my husband and stop treating him like he was less than me.

There's a principle of the universe that John Maxwell teaches about. As he says it, "When you're winning, nothing hurts." He points out that in sports, a team that's winning will frequently end the game and then discover that some of their players were playing with bones that had been broken during the game. They kept playing, hadn't even really felt the pain, because they were winning. And the fact that they kept at it just as hard is why they ended the game having won.

In life, it's the same way. When you're winning, a setback doesn't hurt as much. What we as women need to realize is that we can give our husbands that sense of winning. If we respect them, and treat them with the honor and trust they as men need, they'll always feel like they're winning. Then, they'll go out into the world and win even more - and we will reap the benefits of those victories!

In fact, many of the common problems in marriages can be alleviated almost entirely by a wife's respect. Men who are respected at home work harder, take bigger risks that pay off better, and take the incentive more frequently. Studies have also shown that one of the biggest reasons men have for cheating is that they don't feel respected at home, and the woman they cheated with gave them that feeling they were craving. That sense of being a champion is so very important to our men. With that, they can do anything. Without it they are unlikely to do anything good.

If we, as a society, can change our view just a little bit, a lot of our problems would go away. If we would stop treating men like they're worthless just because they're male and women like they're goddesses just because they're female, our world would be a whole lot better. Sure, there'd still be the guys who are just bums, or the guys who just can't keep their hands to themselves. But the other guys, the guys who are honestly good men, would be more likely to stay faithful to their relationships, and to do the things that would bring them lasting success in whatever venue they're in. So let's put down our one-liners like "real men don't cheat" or "If you can't treat me like a princess you're not worth my time." Let's realize that we're all human here, and we all have needs that will drive us to strange and desperate things if they're not met.

And ladies, let's start doing our part. We are amazing, and powerful. We are the secret to whether our husbands fail or succeed because we are the ones they care about the most. We are the most capable of crippling them, or of making them feel like Superman. And let me tell you from personal experience: Life is a lot better when your husband feels like Superman!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Yes, Mother.

There are things that moms say. Your mom said it, my mom said it, as moms we'll probably say it, and I bet for the last hundred years we can look back and see moms through history saying pretty much the exact same things:

Brush your teeth

Take your vitamins

Wash your face

And for goodness' sake, clean this room!

Maybe your mom didn't have to belabor her points as much as my mom did. I'm stubborn. But all of our moms have said these things at one point or another in their lives and I think most of us didn't listen. I know I didn't! Instead of brushing my teeth two to three times a day, I fell into a habit of once a day...unless I forgot. Instead of taking my vitamins as the bottle says to every day, I fell into every other day...maybe...because I usually forgot. And instead of cleaning I fell into a habit of saying "it's not that bad." And then when it did get bad it still got put off, because I would forget.

The fact is that it just wasn't important enough to me. For some reason, in the midst of all the warnings about not getting gingivitis and not getting sick, I just tuned out. Brushing my teeth became a courtesy to other people thing but otherwise wasn't important to me. Taking vitamins became a fun thing to boast about now and then - nobody had to know I wasn't taking them every day.

I didn't realize it was related at the time, but my life was also a wreck. I was always stressed out, always sick, always feeling poorly about myself, and always caught at the end of the day wishing there was more to life - by which I mostly meant more time and relaxation!

A few years ago I started partnering with Nutrilite, and that's what finally made me develop a vitamins habit. I figured, I'm partnered with the biggest and best supplement company in the world...I should start taking supplements. My life hasn't been the same since!

Now, I rarely get sick - when I do it's usually because I did something stupid like go out in the cold with wet hair and no coat. I have a busy lifestyle and I sometimes eat like a four year old but I haven't dealt with any malnutrition issues. At worst I'll sometimes have an iron deficiency (I inherited a touch of anemia from my mom) but I've got a supplement for that too! I'm feeling better and more alive than I remember ever feeling, even as a kid!

My partnerships are actually the reason I started taking care of my skin, too. Before partnering with Artistry, I didn't give a hoot about my skin. I thought it was a genetic game of chance: Some people had good skin and some people didn't. I didn't.

But then I started working with Artistry and learning the truth about skin, and how to take care of mine, and what kind of a difference that really makes. I started taking care of my skin and wearing makeup for much the same reason that I had started taking vitamins: I was partnered with one of the top companies in the world in this industry, why not start using the products? And it's another set of products that completely changed my life. With my face taken care of, I've been able to work on my self confidence. Starting from a base founded in my faith ("God values me and has destined me for greatness") and adding just the smallest touch of deserved vanity ("And whoa baby, do I look the part!"). This self confidence, combined with the fact that I do actually look healthier now, has helped us to meet with success in our businesses and we've begun to create an amazing life for ourselves because of the doors of opportunity that we've been able to reach out and open for ourselves.

The truth is that there's a lot of truth in the things our moms used to pester us about.

You do need to brush your teeth - and floss and use mouthwash! - to avoid mouth diseases that can actually disrupt more than just your teeth and gums. A lot of stomach and digestive problems can be linked to too much bad bacteria in your digestive tract (everyone needs a little bit of the good bacteria to help break stuff down). The number one place we get that bad bacteria from is actually our own mouths! Bacteria builds up and becomes a problem in our mouth, and the whole time we're swallowing and eating and drinking things, getting that bacteria from our teeth and gum further and further into our system - where it can cause some pretty big problems! Not to mention that even if you catch it early, problems like gum disease can cost thousands of dollars and a lot of time and pain to correct.

You do need to take care of your skin - whether you're a man or a woman - to prevent the signs of aging like wrinkles and dull skin. And you may just think this is a vanity thing, but it's also important for your health. Nobody wants extra bacteria in their skin, but an epidermis that is rough and wrinkled (which are actually both signs of some pretty serious damage) can become even dryer and more wrinkled, which could lead to cracking and bleeding skin on your face! Also, skin gets rough because the epidermis - which is a collections of dead skin cells that protects the live ones - has too much dead skin there. Some of that top layer needs to be taken off (as it is in regular proper skin care) so it doesn't harbor bacteria and it can continue to protect the healthy, live cells underneath.

You do need to take your vitamins because our food doesn't possess the nutrients it once did and many health problems can be linked to a plain and simple lack of essential vitamins and minerals. You can't possibly eat all the food it would take to get the level of nutrition your body needs, so pills and other supplements are a godsend to keep you healthy and living happily for a long time.

You do need to clean your living space because a cleaner living space has less of a terrorist-like threat potential. Our bodies aren't prepared to handle the bacteria and viruses that get into dirty places, and our minds aren't capable of efficiently doing away with the stress of clutter. Studies even show that people who live in clutter and disorder at home don't live as long as people who keep their homes neat and clean!

And, just as our moms suggested, when you do these things all together you can reach an emotional state of peace that you just can't get all the time otherwise.

I may have a busy schedule and some days may be so busy I barely have time to think! But if I make time for the things that are going to benefit me in the long run, I can handle anything! I have find time to finish cleaning last night's dishes, to make the bed before we leave, to wash my face and set out my task list for the morning before I go to sleep. And when I do everything just seems to go more smoothly. Even traffic doesn't bother me when I know that I don't have a mess to come home to. I get to spend a wonderful, whirlwind day taking care of our businesses with my husband, and then come home to a clean and peaceful environment so I can rest. I walk in my door and I can't help but take a deep breath and smile.

And with my body being properly taken care of - from my skin to my physical inner workings to my mental health - I'm more capable of handling what stress may come our way. And in a life like ours that's important because the unexpected is always just around the corner!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Overwhelmed with Gratitude

Never underestimate how you can impact someone else's life.

Last weekend I was at a training and motivation conference for our Amway business. It was absolutely phenomenal! Aside from the thing that make all of these conferences amazing - the road trip, the awesome speakers, the time with my amazing husband - this one was special. This year I took some time to compare myself as I am now, to myself as I was a year ago. What a difference!

At this same conference last year, my husband and I fought the whole time and for a week after. Why? Because I wasn't handling myself. The stress of traffic on the way to Portland got to me, and I found something to fight with him about. At the hotel, the stress of feeling like we hadn't met our goals or even made progress got to me, and I found something to fight with him about. On the drive to the conference arena the stress of driving in Portland (why does heading west to go east even begin to make sense?) got to me and I found something to fight with him about...and that's how our whole weekend went! We lost 90% of the value of that conference because I was too busy distracting us with our fights!

This year was much much different.

Sure, we hit challenges. Traffic to Portland is always bad, the hotel booked our reservation wrong and we had to sort it out, I forgot to pack some of the things we needed, traffic in Portland is always bad...that kind of thing. We even had a fairly major incident when I turned the wrong way on a one-way road and there were headlights coming at us! But despite all of this, we didn't fight. Not once. I handled the things that came at us and moved on, re-aligning my attitude as necessary. Even realigning my attitude wasn't very difficult for me, because none of it really seemed like a big deal.

I'm not saying this to boast or say that I'm awesome. Although, I am. (lol). I'm saying this because this week as I reflected on the difference between this year's conference and last year's conference, I found myself a little bit awestruck. I've grown so much, become so much more well-adjusted and so much better able to handle life. I've come so much closer to being ready to be a leader, and a mom - my two biggest aspirations in life. And all of it is thanks to the amazing mentorship I have. Without the men and women who mentor me - both directly in counseling sessions and through phone calls, and indirectly through books and CDs - I wouldn't be who I am today. I'd still be a kid, bouncing from job to job and relationship to relationship, stacking up emotional damage and never being able to handle normal life.

I'm so overwhelmed with gratitude.

What's the message here? What can you take away from this?

Never, ever, suppose that your influence on someone's life doesn't matter. I'm connected to my mentors because of one person who came through the drive through at Jack in the Box in the wee hours of the morning almost three years ago. He and his wife aren't in our lives anymore. They've quit working with Amway and with our mentors. But they helped bridge the connection between me - a brokenhearted, emotionally unstable kid in desperate need of guidance and growth - and my mentors. And that connection changed my destiny. That connection, that introduction, completely redirected the course of my life.

Never underestimate what you're doing for someone, how you're impacting their life, just by using the resources you have to help them how you can. And never stop working to increase those resources so you can help more people. Unfortunately, the couple who initially introduced me to my mentors chose to stop expanding their resources. They chose to go their own way, and live for themselves instead of other people. But because they reached out to me, and because my vision is bigger than that, my life is forever changed. And not just mine, but my children's and grandchildren's lives as well. I'm going to be able to impact hundreds of thousands of destinies the way that I was impacted...all because one person was willing to think outside of himself for long enough to help me.

And that, my friends, is what it's all about. That's why I do what I do.