By Guest Blogger Kelly Duffy

“When you go through life, so sure of where you’re headin’, and you wind up lost, it’s the best thing that could have happened”

-Brad Paisley, “Find Your Self”

You may find this odd, but I wasn’t really a Brad Paisley fan until this morning. I found myself returning from the two hour marathon that is the morning drop off ritual (the two older to one school, the little guy to pre-school) and listening to the closing credits for Pixar’s’ “Cars”. Despite the fact that I’ve seen this movie close to a thousand times the song I quoted previously really jumped out at me. As a matter of fact the lesson of the entire film hit me powerfully right between the eyes. Who among us hasn’t veered off course because of detour signs somewhere in life?

One of the things I miss the most in life (besides a firm backside and my natural hair color) is the crystal clear vision I had of what I wanted for myself in the future. I was rock steady, unshakable in my convictions.  It was almost as if it was predetermined and nothing could get in the way. There was no self doubt, I was positively fearless. I can picture that young gal with her Pollyannish bravado just waiting to jump out into the world with her equally enthusiastic friends. “Here we go!” they all shout, knowing that with hard work and determination they would all arrive at their destination.

Cut to twenty years later and take a look at how many of us stuck to the original plan. Some of us are close, several are right on the mark, and most of us aimed high but didn’t hit the target. Let me preface this by letting you know that most of the women I spoke to were very honest about what they really wanted deep in their hearts. Even if that wish were as kooky as wanting to be a fairy princess, I let them run with it. How far away from the prize did we find ourselves? Let’s see.

I landed so far away from what I originally imagined that it could be said that I’m residing in a completely different universe. The plan I deviated from was not a realistic blue print by which to live a life.  When I was four, I desperately wanted to be a “drawer.” No, not the place you fold and place your socks, but someone who draws for a living. My mother was a frustrated artist (far more naturally talented than I’ll ever be) who chose motherhood and housewife duties over pursuing any kind of dreams she may have had.  When it came time to test my meddle, I gathered my best stuff, compiled a decent portfolio and prepared to submit it to the list of art schools my teachers had given me. Aghast, my parents discouraged this avenue and begged me to reconsider a four year liberal arts university. It was an easy choice given my expertise at quitting and the powerful influence of an overbearing mom and dad.  I still draw, but not with the passion I used to have. However I’ve gained some things I never imagined would be mine, a funny creative husband, a charming but sometimes challenging old house, three delightful (sometimes) kids, and two dogs and a guinea pig that screams. I feel happy, satisfied on most days and thankful that I have a life this full.

My friend, let’s call her Vicky, lived in a number of big cites after graduating from her very high falutin’ university. It was assumed she would go on and take the world of academia by storm, but she was presented with a whole host of issues that don’t usually plague the big brains. She was pregnant by her less than worthy boyfriend of two months.  Shocked we wondered how someone this smart, who was due to go to law school right after getting her master’s degree could have let this happen? I remember saying, “wow, if this can happen to her, then there really is no hope for the rest of us shmucks.” Last week I got a hold of her and posed the same question. Were there any regrets? Was she happy with what she had made of her life? The most surprising response came out of her mouth. “I wouldn’t have changed a thing, this is how it was meant to be and I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Wow.

My other friend, who we’ll call Barb, has had her future in her apparel since the first day of high school. It was going to be fashion or nothing at all. She made all the right career moves and was even able to dance around a high profile layoff and turn it around into an advantage. She never had time for a serious relationship and instead went through a series of men as quickly as she changed outfits. Later on, however she turned around and realized she was sneaking up on forty and there was no one to share all this blinding greatness with. In a year she managed to get herself fired again (sort of on purpose), dive headfirst into a relationship with a great guy, spend time enjoying herself and finally get married.  I asked her about regrets and she took a moment to think back over her life and finally said “I’m sorry we never got to start that girl band in high school”. Hmmm, okay.

So with all this hoopla over the unhappiness rates for women, I wonder to myself how many gals are satisfied with what life has handed them so far. How many obstacles and what appeared to be insurmountable road blocks have you pole vaulted right over to get and keep what you want? Life doesn’t always turn out the way you thought it would, but sometimes having poor aim isn’t such a bad thing.

Kelly Duffy

http://dufmanno.wordpress.com

Readers, tell us, did you stray from your path in life? Are you happy with how things are going? What did you learn?

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When Elizabeth Edwards married John Edwards in 1977, she had but one request for her husband… that he be faithful to her. This was paramount to Elizabeth from day one. Unfortunately, we all know the outcome. I can only imagine her struggle living life on the fence with whether to stay or leave once she learned of his infidelities. She has recently documented some of those feelings in a new book, “Resilience.”

Let’s be honest, those people buying her memoirs, are probably looking for all the juicy details of her husband’s affair with videographer Rielle Hunter.  After all, former presidential candidate John Edwards  did not at all  seem the cheating type. He, the bright and charismatic possible future president. She, the devoted wife of 30 years who stood by her husband’s side during his entire campaign. Three beautiful children. The picture perfect family man.

But in fact, tragedy struck their family way before John’s betrayal. In 1996, their son Wade died in a car accident. And then years later, her breast cancer diagnosis, which is now in the terminal stage.

To give you a little background on the story, on December 28, 2006, two days after John announced he was running for president in 2008, he told Elizabeth he had broken the vow he made to her on their wedding day almost 30 years ago…. he had been unfaithful. Just imagine Elizabeth at this moment. First losing a child. Then being diagnosed with breast cancer. Then learning her husband had been unfaithful. One event after the next. Talk about finding strength you thought you never had. In fact, “Resilience” couldn’t be a more perfect title for her memoirs.

She describes the feelings that engulfed her body when she first learned of her husband’s affair, “After I cried and screamed, I went to the bathroom and threw up.”

And finally, as if all this wasn’t hurtful and humiliating enough, recently, DNA tests are supposed to show that John Edwards did in fact father a child with Rielle Hunter. After denying it.

So the big “fence” question, one that Hillary Clinton and Governor Eliot Spitzer’s wife faced, is why stay in the marriage? Personally, I feel they stayed for many reasons. But, I can only imagine the incredible pull in two directions. To stay with a man who had shared his bed with another woman time and time again,  or leave, and lose your power and status that has come as result of being this couple.  Plus, it is a very different thing when one can grieve privately, or when the whole world is watching and judging your every move.

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From left, Emma Claire, Elizabeth, Jack, John and Cate Edwards

This all leads me up to one big question: Would you stay with a spouse that cheated on you? Let me tell you, depending on who you ask, you would get a multitude of answers. For me, I have to say, it depends. That’s personal, so no judgement here ladies. I feel that if my husband went on a business trip and had a “slip up” one night, I would be more inclined to work it out, than if he had been having an ongoing love affair with a woman, and had been deliberately lying to me over and over again. This would kill me. This would kill my spirit. But, if it was one night, and he came to me right away, I think I would try and work it out. I don’t know for sure, and thankfully, AT LEAST TO MY KNOWLEDGE, I have not been faced with this dilemma.

So, while there is no right or wrong answer to leaving after a spouse cheats, every situation is different and needs to be assessed on a case by case basis. Experts say a major deciding factor is obviously your partner’s actions. Do you think it’s going to happen again? Is your partner truly sorry and feels remorse for what they’ve done? Have they offered to seek counseling to help them understand why they strayed in the first place? Trust is a major issue. How can Elizabeth Edwards ever trust again?

I will go more in-depth on infidelity and cheating in the future. For now, this was something to get you ladies thinking and talking. And I truly think,  no one can sit in judgement of someone else’s life unless they have walked in those shoes. Really. So, we cannot judge Elizabeth Edwards. She is dying, and maybe she compartmentalized this affair to help her get through her final days as a family unit. Maybe she wants to die in peace, not fighting. Irrespective of her decision, I feel tremendous sadness and compassion for this woman. She must sit on that fence every day wondering if she has made the right decision for herself and her happiness. That can’t be a comfortable place to sit.

What are you feelings?

xoxEDxox

See what other women are saying about my post on Blogher!

http://www.blogher.com/elizabeth-edwards-woman-fence

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So, I received a call the other day to teach a weekly course (4 hours a week) on entrepreneurship and mentoring… for free.  Everything I do, by the way, be it giving sales and marketing seminars in October, to the stuff I describe below, I do it all for free. Cuz I love it.

The old me;  “Of course I’ll do it.”

The new me, “No thank you. Not right now.”

I always volunteer. I’m a serial volunteer. I do it because this community supported me many years back when I started my own business. And, I truly believe in giving back. I do. I help out whenever I can. I run to a ton of meetings. I mentor a group of individuals each month who are trying to collectively get a business off the ground. I leave my kids at supper time and homework time to do this, because I believe in charity and I love business. I mentor another woman in my community starting an online business. Besides being on the board of director’s for my son’s school, I just started the school’s marketing committee. I love this stuff. I come alive for this stuff. But, becoming a human pretzel is just not where I’m at these days. I have reached my threshold, my saturation point. And I know it. I’m starting to get short-tempered. I’m starting to lose it. We all know our breaking points, or at least we think we do. It’s that last thing we agree to take on, that is going to make us collapse like a house of cards. So, I decided my new motto is, “not right now.” And it’s a skill, I tell you. It doesn’t feel great to say no. Our egos are attached to the yes, and so saying no, and letting go is difficult. It’s definitely a process I’m getting better at.

And when I say, “no thank you right now is, ” it doesn’t mean I won’t be interested in a couple of weeks, months, or next year. It means for today. And when I keep the door open, I feel good about that. I read somewhere once that “SAYING NO TO SOMEONE, IS SAYING YES TO YOURSELF.” Just let that soak in. It’s really true. Saying no to someone else, means saying yes to yourself. It means freeing yourself up to do more of the things you love… read a book, go for a walk, take a painting class. Whatever.

As working women, as single moms, as wives, as friends, we’re asked and pulled every day in a thousand directions.”Do you think you can do my carpool?” or “Do you think you can stay late tonight at the office to get some extra filing done?” and “Do you think you can just drop off my dry cleaning?” I’m not saying we all don’t have responsibilities we are unable to escape in our daily lives. All I’m saying is, if you feel like your plate is full, it ain’t the time to pack more on it. And saying no takes practice. Saying no to friends, no to husbands, no to charities, no to someone asking you for a loan, no to a bothersome person, no to an incredible opportunity because now just may not be the ideal time for you.

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So, if you feel you’re becoming the human pretzel, just a word of advice. (Now I would like to reiterate, I am not saying you should be selfish and never help people out. However, it’s just that many of us are running around stressed out because we’re saying yes to everyone).

  • We have all been turned down in our lives. Johnny couldn’t come to our son’s birthday party, you were denied a favor, someone didn’t reciprocate your crush, it’s a part of life. So, did you die from it? Of course you survived it! Don’t assume you’re going to inflict serious harm by saying no to someone.
  • Learn to accept no from those you love as well. “No’s” are a part of everyone’s life. Take it all in stride. If you do, you’ll be more easily able to say no to others, which means YES to yourself.
  • Stop being a pleaser. Saying no without any guilt is very common, but say it when you need to say it. To your children, to your spouse, to your boyfriend, to your boss. What’s your human pretzel threshold? Are you there yet?
  • Don’t instinctively say yes. Think it out first. It’s okay to not answer on the spot. How about something like, “can I think it over and get back to you?” If anything, you sound mature, professional, and if it really ends up being no, the “no” will sound like a better no. And may I also note, you don’t have to be rude when you say no either. You should say it politely, thank you very much!
  • Saying no truly does come with confidence. The more confident you are in your abilities, the easier time you will have to say no to people. Sorry, but it’s the truth.
  • And finally, if you do say yes, and then you feel resentment, it means you SHOULD HAVE SAID NO!

So, say NO, and let it be guilt free… except in sex… I say “go for it!”

Oh ya, and by the way, I’m not a night person. So, if the new blogs are not posted at night for early morning viewing, please cut me some slack. I’m learning to say no. Postings will be every day to every second day. I’m aiming for daily! I thank you kindly for reading. I’m writing for you!

xoxEDxox