It’s amazing how good life gets when you learn to step back from the stress, release the worry while still acknowledging the underlying fears and learn how to move through them, accept the emotions and feel them without letting them rule you, and learn to look at everyone with an honest respect – including saying no, no thank you, and walking away when it’s not the right fit for you or your life. I’m not only talking about romantic relationships, I am talking about friendships too. And families. When someone treats you with disrespect, saying no takes your power back. Putting boundaries there, removing free-flowing trust, and telling someone that you will not tolerate that behaviors is not only acceptable, it actually opens doors for the RIGHT things to come into your life and when you learn how to do that, it’s pretty amazing.

Recently my friend re-shared something she posted back in 2020 and while I’ve read it before, it really hit home for me this time, more than ever and she gave me permission to share it here (and thank her again for being an inspiration to me ❤️).

Make sure the love you want is the kind of love you’re ready for. I post a similar stance every valentines day. Probably because for the longest time, I made horrific choices for myself. I was conditioned to. I didn’t realize that at the time, I just wanted to be “loved”. Love can look like so many things but it should not be coerced, conditional then withdrawn.

If you feel worse after being with that person, he/she is not your end goal. How can you ever say YES to good when you’re stuck in a cycle of dysfunction? I always say I’m the luckiest woman for “finding” my husband but, and this is a big one, I had to make a conscious effort to say NO to the people and situations that brought me pain. Say NO more often. Stand up for yourself. Try it once. It’s a muscle you exercise that gets easier the more you use it.

You’re not “unlucky in love”, you’re not thinking critically. Take a step back and focus on the things that bring you joy in life. Joy most always leads to love.

Amazing really that it’s taken me so long to consciously do that, especially since it’s something I consider myself relatively good at doing when it comes to friends, work, or family. But when it came to love, I realized I was SO inexperienced in dating, I just didn’t know how to actually date or be dated. As a result, even after being single for literal decades, and trying again 3 times in 6 years, I found myself right back in the same toxic situations with emotionally unavailable men, men masquerading as strong, honest, and open who were anything but. Men who put on a good show, but when it came down to it, were absolutely nothing like what I wanted as a partner in life.

I got a little better at it each go-round, pulling back and holding boundaries, cutting things off before I got emotionally attached and finally starting to see the writing on the wall when their words and actions didn’t match (and trust me, they didn’t). But I still had to realize that letting it drag on at all – even for a few months (none of those three made it to the 6mo mark) – was a few months too long. So I started saying NO.

I recently started saying NO to more dates than I ever have in my life, if I didn’t feel the opportunity for a long term relationship which for me, includes physical attraction as well as emotional connection. I started saying NO to just accepting that drink/beer/conversation from whomever at the end of the bar if I wasn’t interested “just to be nice” or not be perceived as snotty or called a bitch. I started saying NO to spending time and energy on people who weren’t willing to spend time and energy on me – and here’s the real kicker – INCLUDING time and energy being honest and straightforward. Life isn’t just about you do this for me and I’ll do that for you. There’s a lot more to it. I started saying NO to last minute plans and people who didn’t respect my time and started making my own again. And I said NO to being goaded into a situationship with anyone who isn’t wholly committed to investing in me as much as I am in them – and that starts with learning about each other and caring enough to prioritize me as a friend and potential life partner, not just one or the other.

I’m holding my boundaries without anger, frustration, or judgement. I am allowing others to be whomever they want to be or whomever they are today, without expectations of their potential coming from me regardless of what I see in them or think I may see. I’ve continued to reach out to people in need across my communities both in NY and FL where I hope to provide inspiration and help to others and allowed people to accept or deny that offer however they see fit for where they are at in their lives without taking any of it personally.

I’ve looked back at some of the people I’ve had a positive influence on. One dear friend credits me for getting him through high school (and he is the only family member to graduate!) and he just had a child with his wife, in the home they bought not long after they were married a year and a half ago. Another thanked me for being there for her and remaining positive and objective even through hard times. Another acquaintance was relieved to hear that I was reaching out just to say – hey, you’re not alone, let’s grab coffee sometime – and not to dig for info or add to or spread rumors around town like so many others. I have two teens who (I hope) are better off for my influence and their own father who lives several hours away thanks me for my ongoing support and I am grateful for that. I look to the future for ways that I can continue to share that light with others, be an inspiration for change, and remind everyone that credit for their change never belongs to me – it belongs to them! I did not change anyone, I simply helped with the inspiration to show them that all the change they ever needed was already inside themselves, they just have to believe, be honest, be brave and willing to walk through fear to get to the parts of life where we really grow. It’s amazing and I am so blessed.

Work is growing, my kids are thriving, we all got new (to us) vehicles so far in 2024, the house is amazing, the property and area in which we live is more home than I’ve ever felt in my entire life, and I’ve been so blessed to ride both my snowboards and my horses in the same weekend, with the first smoker session on the grill and an amazing campfire in between! Because I said NO to the things that weren’t good for me, and started to finally make space for the things that are.

So what’s next? Well, for starters, today I had the chance for the first time this year to go out on my own property with my dogs and cat-dog (Astrid loves to hike and has missed it all winter!). Walking back on my own property with just my animals and the forest for company I was able to reflect on the year so far, the progress I’ve made, and the splendor in which I live. I almost forgot how stunningly beautiful my property is and I momentarily felt bad, but I let that feeling move through me and released it and it was immediately followed by gratefulness for everything around me.

I’m not entirely sure what’s next but what I do know is that I have found my purpose, and will continue to grow on my path, welcome others to join me who match my level of intention, integrity, and love. Love is truly limitless – the more we give, the more we get, as long as we are giving in ways that still protect ourselves. Loving those who love us back is easy. Loving others when they least deserve it is hard. The hardest part is figuring out how to do the latter while still maintaining your own healthy boundaries and respect and knowing that giving love doesn’t mean depleting yourself. It’s okay to say I wish you love, but I do not wish to have you in my life any longer, and close that door. It’s IMPORTANT to do that when someone disrespects you or is dishonest with you (or worse, themselves!). Otherwise, we’re back to accepting the love we believe we deserve which the more we lower our standards, the more toxic and unavailable relationships will find us.

Stand up for yourself from a place of love and respect.
Offer love without conditions.
Hold boundaries without anger or insult.
Remain consistent and authentic in your interactions.
Act with integrity.
Always be honest with yourself and others.

Learn to face fear first by yourself by saying those fears out loud in the mirror, and eventually by learning how to feel, accept, and release without letting fear rule your life or forcing yourself to suppress it to where it destroys you and those you love from the inside out.

Learn to understand fear-driven behavior and lack of openness and honesty in one’s actions are all forms of selfishness. Do not claim to be unselfish, giving, or generous when you are not honest with yourself, giving of more than just what you can afford, or as generous with yourself as much as others.

Treat your servers, waitstaff, janitors, and garbage men with as much generosity and respect as you do your boss, the CEO, mayor, or other influencers for those are the REAL people who are helping you out and a true show of character. Tipping poorly is a red flag. So is being cheap, stingy, or clingy with your money. Alligator arms are never welcome here. I believe what goes around comes around and in the times I can afford more, I share more, and in the times I cannot, I have always been surrounded by people who stepped up for me without my asking because they know that friendship and life is about sharing experiences and time with others.

Stand up for what you believe in.
Speak up. For your kids. For your friends. For your neighbors. And most importantly, stand up for those who are worse off than you or who cannot stand up for themselves.
Be brave.
Be honest.
Be true.
And say NO every chance you get to every single thing that doesn’t feel right for you, your life, and your higher purpose.

So what’s next? This. All of it, and more. Onward and upward! There are adventures to be had! Who’s coming?!

adventures cj millar life without a paddle