For Males Only – 10 Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

I had to reblog this post, because I don’t mind giving mad props to my main Korean man. Also, because my commentary is way too long.

1.) Buy her the whole damn rose bush. Then, you can direct her to the rose bush at every birthday and holiday.

2.) My husband used to buy my clothes and jewelry, and I hated them all. I never directly said it, but he got the point so much that he has since stopped. At our last anniversary, I used his credit card to buy myself a new ring.

But, if a man has to insist on this, then here’s the best way to go about it. Ask her mother what clothes she absolutely despised on her own daughter, and go and get them. Those are the ones she actually wants.

3.) That size down thing will backfire badly. First, she’ll insist that you think she’s fat and that you’re insinuating that she needs to go to the gym. Or that you’re a pig, and you want her to be some stick figure. Then, she’ll drag you back to that mall to exchange the stupid thing where she’ll end up buying an uglier, more expensive stupid thing.

Just don’t.

4.) Gum is bad. Gum is like saying, “let’s be friends”. Gum is the impulse buy at the supermarket, and then you get it home and realize that you don’t even like that flavor. Don’t. Just really, really don’t. Now, here’s what you do. Get her super expensive looking candy in a pretty box. It doesn’t matter that it was in the bargain bin (as long as she wasn’t there when you purchased it or even shops at that store). It looks like you tried, even if the candy sucks. And what you don’t like, you can give to your kids or bust it out at the next holiday. Or she can regift it to a relative she doesn’t like.

5.) Opt for the robot vacuum cleaner. I don’t know if they actually work, but I would have endless hours of amusement watching it move around the floor. And the kids might chase it around like kitties do. Even more entertainment!

6.) They do sell a fake man that your lady can beat up. They have one at my martial arts studio that we use for targeting. We call him “Bob”. Probably a good idea. Also, get her a fake knife to go with it.

7.) If only they made that. Women would actually want that. It’s a camera that only takes photos of your good side, erases blemishes and removes 30 lbs. Of course, to the woman it will look like just an autoshot, and it will automatically destroy the pictures that aren’t within the optimal guidelines.

8.) You can make this at home. Combine two parts tequila with one part MDMA. Or Xanax. That works too. Not like I’d know…

9.) Better, get one of those Super Bouncy balls out of the quarter machine, pick up a mason jar, and fill with your choice of liquid. Put a label on the jar that says, “Family Jewels” (to be tasteful) and put it on the mantle before she gets home from work. If that’s too offensive, go the keychain route.

10.) I’ll do you one better. Every woman has a tick when she gets angry. I usually start putting my hands on my hips, or flailing my arms about. So, you get her the cutest bangle bracelet with little bells on it. When she starts going nuts, you’ll know. In fact, you’ll know so loudly that you’ll have enough time to make an escape before she can get to you.

11.) Invest in a Kindle with an Amazon credit card and a Prime membership. Games, books, movies, tv – you’ll never see her again. Not even if you really wanted to.

Just a woman’s perspective. But hey, what do I know?


When We Get Knocked Down

A wealth of time has passed since my last entries. On numerous occasions, I became painfully aware of this fact. I yearned to continue my work, scribbling messages of inspiration for all of my loyal and hopeful readers to take in. Truly, the ambition of my life was to be able to recount my struggles for others who have inhabited those very same deep crevices to relate to. Very deep in my heart, I ached for those engulfed in that darkness and strife.

Honestly, I wanted to save lives. Doctors help to heal ailments of the body and mind. I had been committed to healing the spirit, which is the one thing no class could ever teach.

In the most recent months, I hesitated to write. Just as everyone else who lives with disorder, I am faced with my own challenges. In my darkest hours, I felt like a hypocrite. How could I possibly wax optimistic when I was having such difficulty practicing the very ideas that I had once embodied? The doubt set it when I read, and then reread all of the beautiful and uplifting posts I had written myself.

Was I ultimately a liar?

That very concept when heaped upon the challenges I found myself in the midst of was more than enough to seal my mind. But, that’s the trick of depression – to seal oneself off in the profound silence of isolation. I am upon my five year anniversary of seeking my initial treatment. And I found an even greater sense of shame and failure in my setback.

But that’s just it; it was a setback.

Even with the mental and emotional fortitude I had gained, I still got knocked down. All of the strength and stamina in the world cannot render any of us invincible. We are all susceptible to our own mental health concerns, with or without the coupling of difficult circumstance. We are not superheroes.

We are human.

Plain and simple, we are human, just men and women. Thought we are tempted to draw comparisons between oneself and another, there is truly no sense in it. We are apples, to oranges, to mangos, to pineapples – essentially all fruit, but otherwise dissimilar. We all grow from different trees in our own unique way with the resources that are provided to us.

That’s the point. We are all growing, perpetually and without fail. When we feel stuck and stymied in the singular moments that we inhabit, it can become difficult to grasp that our growth is universal.

For example, for the sake of my family, I had to take a job that was less than ideal. As a matter of fact, I once told my husband, “I’d rather starve and live in a cardboard box than go back to working retail.” (Note: It is not wise to tempt the universe with such statements). However, there I was, once again spending a portion of my life behind a register. But, I was still determined to prioritize it much lower than things in my life that truly mattered. I was set on having it remain as a means of income.

Six months later, I continued to struggle with the adjustment. I stood amongst a mob of people, loathing the very thought of waking up to yet another day of it. I saw myself in the distant future with my disgruntled co-workers mirroring my very fate. Fear and dread invaded the spaces where hope and optimism once inhabited. And the very idea of spinning my wheels indefinitely in the rat race of the workforce sent me reeling.

It was that precise disillusionment that generalized to each and every aspect of my life.

If it was always going to be this way, then why try?

It felt as if I had been running those exact same circles for my entire life, as brief as it has been. And the idea that I would continue to run them, despite my best intentions, led to my surrender. It was that resignation that abandoned all aspiration, hope, and passion I had ever contained.

I willingly gave up my life.

But, as I mentioned before, life goes on. We continue to grow, change, and progress, with or without permission or willingness. When that happens, we basically leave the driver’s seat empty to any entity eager to grab that wheel. In my case, it was depression.

Explaining depression and the resulting actions (or lack thereof) to a party who has been fortunate enough to have never experienced it firsthand is nearly impossible. I’ve often wondered why, but as I was attempting to drive the point home to my husband, I came to a profound realization. It sounds absolutely illogical. In truth, it is. It doesn’t make depression any less real, but it honestly seems nonsensical in a way. There is no why or how when it comes to the onset, thus, there is no why or how for the result. And as he sat there and contradicted many of the points I attempted to make, I came upon the realization I needed to shake this out of me.

This is my life.

Not his. Not my job’s. Not my boss’s. Not my son’s. Not anyone else’s.

And I’m going to take it back.

So when we get knocked down, it’s not enough to get back up again. We have the choice to just stand up and march on, or we can dust ourselves off and dance to the rhythm of our own song.

“Year’s End”

Recently, a relative of mine wrote:

To my mind, Christmas runs from the end of Thanksgiving dinner through the end of Christmas Day. The beginning of December 26 up to the end of December 31 basically comprise what I think of as “Year’s End,” six days of retrospection and introspection concerning what has happened over the past 359 days (360 if it’s a leap year.) These days inhabit a position in space-time that sets them apart from the rest of the year, as if these days exist as a separate entity of sorts. So take this time to determine whether you put your 2013 in the win or loss column. I know where mine goes.

His concept of “Year’s End” gave terminology to a previously undefined phenomenon nearly universal to those living by the Gregorian calendar.  The greater majority of us spend that six day period pensively inspecting the events of the year, the course our lives are currently on, and finally, ourselves. We go into a state of deep reflection, reviewing the previous year in hindsight.

But contrary to popular belief, hindsight is not 20/20. It’s entirely subjective and relative to our mindsets, creating certain attitudes toward ourselves and those around us. This allows us to render potentially inaccurate judgments that may snowball into generalizations. This can be noted by the two final sentences in that quote. While it is a positive suggestion to encourage others to examine the previous year, it could be dangerous to make black-and-white determinations and wrap it up into an overall summation.

I immediately jumped to reply, knowing his critical nature. As I wrote to him, I realized that he isn’t likely to be standing alone in his line of thinking. Even in past years, I could see my own Year’s End Reflections as a means of rendering an evaluation of every aspect of myself and my life. And in most cases, despite all of the wonderful events that happened, I still had the tendency to zero in on all of the negative. Instead of fondly reminiscing, I would obsess about all of my “failures” and “shortcomings”. It occurred to me that this could be an incredibly common practice!

I agree that reflection and introspection are both positive practices when executed with great care. A wise person once asked me, “How can we truly live in the present moment when our minds are focused on the past?” It occurred to me that we do not have the capacity to live our lives that happening right now when we fixate on the past. The same goes for when we are hyper focused on our internal selves. If we are preoccupied with our internal world, then we prevent ourselves from interacting with our external world. In truth, that is where life takes place. To truly live our own lives, we must be completely present in the current moment in all ways – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Yet, there are moments, such as those considered in Years End, where we have license to permit ourselves some moments dedicated to thought. Introspection and reflection aren’t necessarily distractions from living. Those focuses can be about dedicating our mental energies toward our current wellness and making considerations for overall progress. For example, many of us perceive particular traits as character flaws. In other posts, we’ve explored concepts of adjusting perceptions to support more positive insights. The same principles apply; character flaws can be alternatively viewed as advantageous traits when applied appropriately.

Often, we recall painful events in the previous year. It’s perfectly natural to be immediately drawn to those memories, as they are fresh and ripe with emotion. While we can’t choose how we feel, we can make the choice to be receptive when it comes to considering alternative perceptions. Not many situations exist that merit an entirely negative regard. In my case, I lost my grandmother this year. While I experience the grief, I am also experiencing the positive side. She had suffered so much in her final years, so I am relieved that she is resting at peace.

Many “bad” events can be reconsidered upon further review. They may have provided opportunities and experiences that weren’t previously available due to the circumstances. Or perhaps these experiences are yet to occur, laying in wait for us to reach out and grab them. The memories of the past work best when they have become one of the pieces of our solid foundations. They are solid and sound, eager for us to continue building on them.

When we attempt to tally up the events of 2013 in terms of “good” of “bad”, we are attempting to qualify them in order to determine the overall outcome. But, the conclusions can be considered to be incomplete, as the logic itself is inherently flawed. “Good” and “bad” are two definitive concepts that don’t allow for anything else. Life isn’t so neat that we can categorize our experiences in such a black-and-white mindset. So, it becomes quite a challenge to determine progress, or lack thereof.

However, there is no yard stick in which to measure our progress! Therefore, a scoreboard with which we make our tally is nonexistent!

How liberating!

We are freed from the anxieties that arise from the notion that we have somehow “failed” or “lost”. Those are two terms the are often thought of as the final word in most matters. But, as long as we continue to live purposefully, those two words are not applicable. We are always progressing in one way or another. What we often forget is to place our own value on our accomplishments, rather than allowing others to appraise us in our words, actions, and most importantly, character.

So, just take a glance back, smile nostalgically, and look straight into the present moment. We can’t predict what will happen in 2014. All we can do is live the life we are currently living.

Happy New Year!

Sponser Lulu for Charity!

As many of my wonderful readers may already be aware, I am a martial artist. Aside from my family and being a writer that advocates for mental health and wellness, it is one of the most important parts of my life.

Martial arts changed my life. Just a year ago, I was in an awful place with myself and bipolar disorder. That’s when I walked into my first class, where I began my path as a martial artist. It started to heal me in ways that medicine and therapy just couldn’t.

Martial arts gave me a new lease on life.

Now, it’s my turn to give back.

My dojang, in affiliation with other local dojangs, is participating in the annual St. Jude’s Break-a-thon. For every $15 raised, one board is donated to the participant to break.

We break as a symbol of the strength we are hoping to provide these children in need.  I want to give these children their own new lease on life by providing them with funds so they may be able to live on.

Please, support this noble cause by sponsoring me in this event.

No donation is too small.  Every dollar that is donated goes directly to St. Jude and to the children that they treat.

And in advance, thanks for your donation.  It not only means the world to me, but it may open up a whole new world for many children in their hour of need.

Tiff Myler’s Drive Page.

Yes, that is my real name.  This is the first connection that I’ve made between my real life and my life here.  I’m proud of who I am, and I’m ready to make a difference in all areas of my life.

If you’d like to learn more about martial arts and St. Jude, visit their website.

Celebrating Our Gifts

Celebrating Our Gifts

A fellow blogger, Cymbria Wood who writes “Blank Canvas Living”, brought my previous article, “Weaknesses Equal Strengths” into a whole new context for me with an example of her own personal application.  She cited an “extreme” trait, once considered a hindrance, as being a blessing on the flipside.  She was then able to generalize the concept to another “extreme”, which provided her with an additional strength.  It is proof positive that throughout the execution of altering one thought, the practice generalizes and builds upon itself into a whole new skill set.

What she related also had a significant tone of acceptance.  There was an understanding that some of her traits could be considered to be “extremes”.  The value, “Everything in moderation” cited in “Brave New Mind” is applicable to actions, not to personality in general.  We are who we are, with both deficits and abundances.  In “Weaknesses Equal Strengths”, we explored the flipside of both.  In this article, we seek to celebrate that flipside!

Terming something as an “extreme” brings many negative connotations to mind.  “Extremism” is seemingly synonymous with fanatical, immoderate, uncompromising, excessive, or even violent.  It begs the question, “Extreme, so why can’t you dial it back?”  That’s the same as saying, “You’re extremely tall, so why can’t you shrink a little?” or even, “You’re extremely short, so why can’t you grow a little?”  Again, we are who we are, short, tall, big, small, pale, dark, etc, etc.  We have long since stopped discriminating against those who are physically different.  Why should we continue to discriminate “extremes” of a mental nature?

Instead, we could think of the extremes as abundances, even if others have defined some as “deficits”For instance, I am not great at advanced mathematical concepts, such as algebra and statistics.  We can flip the same “math” coin to see the advantages I have with simpler and more tangible math.  My husband can churn out equations at a genius level.  But, I have the advantage over him in computation of simple percentages and geometric measurements.  The difference between us is his grasp of complex, interdependent relationships and my grasp of more concrete concepts.

There exists a common societal ideal that we cannot be well-rounded individuals unless we shift our efforts from refining our abundances toward “improving” on our shortcomings.  It’s a rigid principle that encourages us to classify traits and abilities into strict bins of “successes” and “failures”.  It’s not that black and white.  I’ve written it before, and I’ll reiterate, “As long as I’m trying, I’m succeeding.”  With that value, we can move toward redefining our own self-image so we can celebrate ourselves and our abundances!

A great launching point is in the primary philosophy of education strategies with developmentally delayed children.  Instead of zeroing in on the delay, professionals and parents are encouraged to identify their abundances, usually termed as “gifts”.  Then, those gifts are nurtured until they can be applied to other developmental areas.  Once generalized, we can begin to see a globalized growth across all domains.  Truly, it’s a brilliant strategy that I feel is underutilized.

Just as each child has a gift, we all have our own aptitudes.  Personally, I excel in artistic areas.  Creative pursuits have always come naturally to me.  A little effort really went a long way.  I went on to develop skill sets in music, writing, crafting, and graphic arts.  However, because my “shortcomings” had been defined for me in other areas, I was discouraged from attempting to develop them through my own means.

It was only when I started to notice my own aptitude in martial arts that my own ideas changed.  At one time, I really only viewed it as being dependent on a physical skill, of which I was under the impression that I was sorely lacking.  However, it is so much more.  It requires a certain amount of creativity to translate technical skill into practical application.  For instance, I’m small, so some of the techniques learned in the curriculum wouldn’t be effective in a real situation.  Therefore, I have to get creative on how to modify them for my own body type.

If an abundance of one skill / trait can generalize to develop a skillset considered to be belonging to an opposing activity / trait, what else can it be applied to?

Let’s celebrate our gifts!

I am determined, and I’m proud!

I feel deeply, and I’m proud!

I think abstractly, and I’m proud!

I am detailed, and I’m proud!

I am involved, and I’m proud!

I try hard, and I’m proud!

I care abundantly, and I’m proud!

I am generous, and I’m proud!

I am very aware of my physical existence, and I’m proud!

I freely express ideas, and I’m proud!

What are you proud of today?

Weaknesses Equal Strengths

In the past, I have had a problem with “black and white” thinking.  If something was good, it was good.  If something was bad, it was bad.  Opposites had two entirely different bins.  Because they were opposites, how could they possibly be one in the same?  How could they possibly share properties?  Wasn’t that the very definition of opposite?

One person was really responsible for setting this idea into motion.  I was coming up on my orange belt test, and I found that I was suddenly having difficulty executing basic techniques.  I had practiced these same techniques over months with much progress.  It seemed as if I became leaden and weighted.  I became extremely frustrated and distracted, making practice much more difficult.

My instructor asked, “Are you nervous?”

I hadn’t even considered it.  Anxiety had become automatic for me.  I took a moment and replied, “Yes.”

“Good,” she said.  I was taken aback.  How was anxiety a positive thing?  It was hindering me, and preventing me from progressing.  I thought that it might even be my doom, by causing me to fail my test.  She suggested, “Turn your mind off and focus that abundant energy into your techniques.  You don’t need to think about it anymore.  It’s all stored into your muscle memory.”

I took a moment to compose myself.  I threw all of that energy into firing off techniques.  Suddenly, I unweighted and pivoted with ease.  The forms were coming back together and my strength and agility were returning to me.  It seemed that by translating that nervous energy into a physical outlet, I had actually gained a significant asset.

There are two sides to every coin.  The point is, the two sides share a coin.  The coin itself allows the two sides to share properties, butt up against each other.  While one represents something, and the other side seems to be opposite, they are really one in the same.  All we have to do is flip the coin.

In my last article, “I Am the Best Me”, I touched upon gaining a different perspective on our own weaknesses.  Many of us are painfully aware of our own “flaws”.  They are probably something that has become a primary focus at one point or another.  , In the search for answers and solutions, we’ve invested an abundance of time and energy into putting them under the microscope and dissecting them.  There is a certain idea that if we deconstruct them, then we may be able to reassemble them into a strength.  It pushes us to put an exhausting, but fruitless effort into transforming an aspect of ourselves that is just simply a part of our nature.

There are the obvious things we can’t change.  I’m 5’1” and 28 years old.  There is no hope that I will ever grow taller.  I can wobble around in heels all day, but it doesn’t adequately compensate for my natural size.  I have a naturally larger frame, so I can’t ever realistically expect to be thin like the models.  My feet are awkwardly large for a woman of my size.  Knowing that I can’t be anything different is a little discouraging in a certain light.

But, experience has taught me that those perceived flaws are actually advantages.  In martial arts, I can use certain physical qualities to my advantage.  Many taller people are long range fighters, due to their long limbs.  By moving in close, I can jam up their attacks and land quite a few blows.  A wider frame provides a natural opportunity for a greater muscle mass.  In combination with larger feet, I can have a stronger stance, making it more difficult for me to get knocked down.  And being small in general gives me speed and agility that other opponents may not have.

When we examine the more intangible things, such as character traits and personality, it’s a little less obvious.  This is especially so when we’re incorporating symptoms of disorder into the mix.  I’ve spent a lot of time splitting hairs between the two, in the attempt to discern what I could “fix” and what I couldn’t.  Although it initially provided relief by eliminating the idea that I was “irreparably damaged”, that microanalysis eventually ended up doing me more harm than providing benefits.  It sought to put everything under the microscope under a lens of negativity.

Personality from disorder isn’t a cut and dry as we initially perceive.  In time, I discovered that my personality and disorder had a complex relationship.  They shared many things, but there was one thing they both had in common.  My personality and disorder were both directly influenced by my value system.  It made me realize that they are really rooted in the same entity, my core self.

Perceived Flaws Translated Strength
Stubborn Willful
Anxious High Energy
Indecisive Flexible
Moody Sensitive
Worrisome Cautious
Temperamental Passionate
Aggressive Forceful
Dramatic Expressive
Withdrawn Reserved
Inconsistent Complex

That’s just to name a few.

When we redefine our weaknesses as strengths, we can begin to see how they benefit us.  All of these traits have developed my creative nature.  That creativity isn’t just applicable to writing and other artistic outlets.  It benefits my problem solving skills and personal relationships.  By understanding our true natures, we can start to redefine ourselves.  This aids in identifying personal dysfunctions as something beneficially functional.  This is the root of the development of adaptive strategies.

So, drag out the thesaurus and tell me – what are your strengths?