Life looks a little different around here lately, and certainly different than this time last year. Fall always brings with it a sense of melancholy as the season opens, often filled with rain and overcast skies, clouds and fog lingering in the mountains until late morning, and a damp chill in the air that you can feel deep into your bones. Or at least I can, but perhaps that has to do with all of my old injuries over the years.

Last year I was feeling a bit lost, cast aside, and trying to find my place. I had (and still have) a core small group of friends, but only one or two were local. Going out meant – like it always has – taking myself out to wherever I felt like going and filling weekends at home with projects and distractions. I know people everywhere I go almost everywhere in the world, but I have a very small group of friends and until more recently, none really local and certainly none I would make plans with on a regular basis. The few close friends I do have locally tend to for whatever reason have the opposite schedule as me, and I totally get it. Life is hectic. But sometimes, in addition to making time for yourself amongst all the other priorities with family stuff and so on, you also can find people who fit in your life and schedule and make time for each other too.

It’s really nice to have a support system in our neighborhood. Travel has picked up this year immensely for me and I find myself on the road or on a plane anywhere from 1-2x a month. Knowing I have people I can trust to help get my kid to and from games and practices is priceless. Actually enjoying spending time with them and knowing that it doesn’t come with drama and gossip and bullshit is even nicer. Knowing that our kids are all genuinely friends and growing closer makes it feel even that much more like home. I know this is home. I belong here.

They say we accept the love we believe we deserve. I’ve thought a lot about that lately, and looked long and hard at myself and the changes I’ve made over the years, but why I never changed what I believed I deserved.

In the past 4 years I’ve changed my entire life in nearly every way possible. I took in two amazing kids (one who is now a pretty incredible adult). I am down to just 5 horses from 10. I have two totally different dogs than when I moved up here 6+ years ago. I still have a lot of cats… I moved. I bought a home. I built it into a farm. I lost weight, changed my eating habits, got healthy and got fit. Exercising and working out is a part of my life and I actually enjoy it. I’m more productive, and much happier.

So why is it that I’d keep settling for whomever showed interest simply because they were there, and they were nice / generous / took me out to dinner / helped with something on the farm/truck/tractor? Why didn’t I feel there needed to be more? Chemistry. Attraction. Inspiration even, if that’s something one looks for in a relationship. I don’t even know because my standards for myself were so high, but my standards in what I’d accept in others was so low – and at the same time I’d be an all or nothing. Like hey cool, you finally convinced me to give you a chance so even though I don’t find you all that attractive, or all that interesting, or we don’t have that much in common, let me justify and make excuses OR let me just stay completely shut off and single forever and go out alone and wonder what it’s like to have friends beyond the core group of us that no longer live around the corner from each other and only hang out once or twice a month these days.

Life changes. But, if we’re paying attention and willing to grow – so do we.

Respect matters. When you say something, and someone’s actions show over and over again that they don’t respect what you say or simply choose not to believe you and are going to pursue things anyway – that’s a red flag. When you get showered with unasked for gifts and attention and it makes you feel uncomfortable and not grateful – that’s a red flag. When you tell someone you are not interested, and they keep pursuing you anyway – that’s a red flag. I don’t care if you work “on paper” or if it just makes sense, or if you have skills that can help me out and I am good at listening and reading people and offering insight and advice into other’s lives (that I often don’t take for myself). That’s simply not enough. Being a nice guy is not enough. Helping me doesn’t mean I owe you anything, otherwise that’s not helping, that’s paying for a service. There’s a difference. I’m learning that difference. I deserve more.

I’m not here to be someone’s infatuation. Just because we’re friends or have good conversation or help each other out doesn’t instantly make chemistry. When I say I’m on a plane or traveling once a month and my schedule is full, I mean it and that doesn’t mean that I want you to shove your way into it. If it is going to work, it will because we’re on the same page and not because it was forced. I hate when things feel forced. This past year a lot has felt forced.

I’m getting better at communicating my boundaries. I am more than the second choice, or the girl you go to after you break up with your girlfriend (or before). I’m not interested in this flash of excitement that fizzles out in a week or two because we got to know each other better and I realized as I got to know you that we really don’t have much in common after all. I feel like if I could actually know someone – and keep getting to know them – and after several months there’s still that spark, then that’s something worth pursuing. Otherwise it’s just not worth my time. My time, and I am more valuable than that. Much more. I’m learning that.

I’m done with dating down, or giving my time to people who aren’t right for me just because they were nice or helped or whatever. I’m sick of being the “pretty girl” that is “just a friend” but the guy expects more anyway. I’m already a fake-celebrity as I call it because of my work in marketing and my need for my social to be fun and exciting and interesting and to do silly things. Silly things like wearing heels because tall people are perceived as more knowledgeable and powerful so people see me that way (and then of course I back it up with my actual skills and knowledge). Like packing 1231245 outfits for costume changes as I call them so that when I travel to an event, I am always put together going from travel outfit to poolside with clients for lunch, gym clothes for a quick workout, conference clothes and suit jacket, networking dinner and cocktail outfit. Sometimes I’m on 3, 4 or even 5 outfits in a day. Does it matter? It does when my job is teaching clients strategy and showing them how appearance matters but only as a way to first get your customer’s attention. Behind that attractive exterior, brand, logo, social story, etc. there has to be quality too. But quality on its own if it’s not packaged in an attractive exterior often goes unnoticed. I have spent a lot of time and energy and learnings over these past 4 years to learn how to do all of it and help my clients succeed at marketing their brands, too.

So why, then, did I feel like I needed to settle for something that was sub-par? I work really hard to stay fit and healthy. I don’t care if you’re not a health nut (neither am I, just ask the whiskey I drank this weekend haha!), but if you can’t keep up on a hike, or get worried that I’m going snowboarding and am going to be too sore (that’s why I work out and stay fit…duh) then maybe you’re not worth my time. Actually, scratch that. If you don’t put as much care and time into yourself as I do into me – and again I don’t mean superficial appearance, I mean life, having your shit together, doing what it takes to be there for your kids and being healthy to be around long enough to see them grow up and succeed – then you are not worth my time. We can be friends, sure but don’t expect when I’m on the road / scheduled in meetings from now through mid-October that I am gong to make time for you just because you’re nice to me. I am learning how to prioritize life in a way that doesn’t just make me happy short term, but makes my family and myself and my life and my home wonderful now and for years to come.

That’s what matters.

Find something that gives you that spark. Find people you connect with but not overnight. You need that spark to get things going, but you need that slow burn otherwise with all this rain, those big flames will burn bright and then go out pretty quickly. Build it slowly, find people you have real chemistry with – friends, too – and hold them close and build a life you don’t need a vacation from. But that when you want to go on vacation, they’ll come with you and fit right in without needing to ever be invited because you’ve already built a decade of history together. Some things – the good things – really truly just take time.

Sometimes what you’ve been looking for is already close to home. What an amazing weekend. What an amazing life. Thank you. ❤️