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    A time comes in your life when you finally get it . . . When in the midst
of all your fears and insanity you stop dead in your tracks and somewhere the
voice inside your head cries out - ENOUGH!

    Enough fighting and crying or struggling to hold on. And, like a child
quieting down after a blind tantrum, your sobs begin to subside, you shudder
once or twice, you blink back your tears and through a mantle of wet lashes
you begin to look at the world through new eyes. This is your awakening.
    You realize that it's time to stop hoping and waiting for something to
change or for happiness, safety and security to come galloping over the next
horizon. You come to terms with the fact that he is not Prince Charming or
she is not Cinderella and that in the real world there aren't always fairy
tale endings (or beginnings for that matter) and that any guarantee of
"happily ever after" must begin with you and in the process a sense of
serenity is born ofacceptance. And there's nothin wrong with being single
too. I love it most of the time. But it gets lonely too.
    You awaken to the fact that you are not perfect and that not everyone
will always love, appreciate or approve of who or what you are . . . and
that's OK. (They are entitled to their own views and opinions.) And you learn
the importance of loving and championing yourself and in the process a sense
of new found confidence is born of self-approval.
    You stop bitching and blaming other people for the things they did to you
(or didn't do for you) and you learn that the only thing you can really count
on is the unexpected. You learn that people don't always say what they mean
or mean what they say and that not everyone will always be there for you and
that it's not always about you. So, you learn to stand on your own and to
take care of yourself and in the process a sense of safety & security is born
of self-reliance.
    You stop judging and pointing fingers and you begin to accept people as
they are and to overlook their shortcomings and human frailties and in the
process a sense of peace & contentment is born of forgiveness.

    You realize that much of the way you view yourself, and the world around
you, is as a result of all the messages and opinions that have been ingrained
into your psyche. And you begin to sift through all the crap you've been fed
about how you should behave, how you should look and how much you should
weigh, what you should wear and where you should shop and what you should
drive, how and where you should live and what you should do for a living, who
you should marry and what you should expect of a marriage, the importance of
having and raising children or what you owe your parents.
    You learn to open up to new worlds and different points of view. And you
begin reassessing and redefining who you are and what you really stand for.
You learn the difference between wanting and needing and you begin to discard
the doctrines and values you've outgrown, or should never have bought into to
begin with and in the process you learn to go with your instincts. You learn
that it is truly in giving that we receive. And that there is power and glory
in creating and contributing and you stop maneuvering through life merely as
a "consumer" looking for your next fix.

    Your learn that principles such as honesty and integrity are not the
outdated ideals of a bygone era but the mortar that holds together the
foundation upon which you must build a life.

    You learn that you don't know everything; it's not your job to save the
world and that you can't teach a pig to sing. You learn to distinguish
between guilt and responsibility and the importance of setting boundaries and
learning to say NO. You learn that the only cross to bear is the one you
choose to carry and that martyrs get burned at the stake.

    Then you learn about love. Romantic love and familial love. How to love,
how much to give in love, when to stop giving and when to walk away.

    You learn not to project your needs or your feelings onto a relationship.
You learn that you will not be more beautiful, more intelligent, more lovable
or important because of who is on your arm or the child that bears your name.

    You learn to look at relationships as they really are and not as you
would have them be. You stop trying to control people, situations and
outcomes. You learn that just as people grow and change so it is with love. .
. and you learn that you don't have the right to demand love on your terms
just to make you happy.

    And, you learn that alone does not mean lonely . . . And you look in the
mirror and come to terms with the fact that you will never be a size 5 or a
perfect 7 and you stop trying to compete with the image inside your head and
agonizing over how you "stack up." You also stop working so hard at putting
your feelings aside, smoothing things over and ignoring your needs.

    You learn that feelings of entitlement are perfectly OK . . . . and that
it is your right to want things and to ask for the things that you want and
that sometimes it is necessary to make demands.

    You come to the realization that you deserve to be treated with love,
kindness, sensitivity and respect and you won't settle for less. And, you
allow only the hands of a lover who cherishes you to glorify you with their
touch . . . and in the process you internalize the meaning of self-respect.

    And you learn that your body really is your temple. And you begin to care
of it and treat it with respect. You learn that fatigue diminishes the spirit
and can create doubt and fear. So you take more time to rest.

    And, just as food fuels the body, laughter fuels our soul. So you take
more time to laugh and to play.

    You learn, that for the most part, in life you get what you believe you
deserve . . . and that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    You learn that anything worth achieving is worth working for and that
wishing for something to happen is different from working toward making it

    More importantly, you learn that in order to achieve success you need
direction, discipline and perseverance. You also learn that no one can do it
all alone and that it's OK to risk asking for help. You learn that the only
thing you must truly fear is the great robber baron of all time. FEAR itself.
You learn to step right into and through your fears because you know that
whatever happens you can handle it and to give in to fear is to give away the
right to live life on your terms.

    And you learn to fight for your life and not to squander it living under
a cloud of impending doom. You learn that life isn't always fair, you don't
always get what you think you deserve and that sometimes bad things happen to
unsuspecting, good people. On these occasions you learn not to personalize
things. You learn that your deity isn't punishing you or failing to answer
your prayers. It's just life happening. And you learn to deal with evil in
its most primal state - the ego. You learn that negative feelings such as
anger, envy and resentment must be understood and redirected or they will
suffocate the life out of you and poison the universe that surrounds you. You
learn to admit when you are wrong and to build bridges instead of walls. You
learn to be thankful and to take comfort in many of the simple things we take
for granted, things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream
about; a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft warm bed, a long hot

    Slowly, you begin to take responsibility for yourself by yourself, and
you make yourself a promise to never betray yourself and to never ever settle
for less than your heart's desire. And you hang a wind chime outside your
window so you can listen to the wind. And you make it a point to keep
smiling, to keep trusting and to stay open to every wonderful possibility.

    Finally, with courage in your heart and a renewed spirit you take a
stand, you take a deep breath and you begin to design the life you want and
begin to live as best as you can.

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