Toilet paper taught me integrity.

I can’t go into a bathroom now without feeling the impulse to replace the roll if it’s used up.

Even if it’s not my own bathroom.


I know where the impulse comes from and I laugh to myself how well the synapse is embedded at this point. Or whatever synapses do. Do they embed?

Well, I remember when the synapse did its thing, it was about five years ago, give or take. And it still compels me to this day. Toilet paper taught me about integrity.

Our integrity is really important. When we give our word to something, we basically back ourselves to do or say or come through on something. Our integrity is what drives our lives, it’s what gives them meaning and motivation and bonds us to the lives of other people, as we honor our word and commitments to other people.

So, what is your word currently worth?

A good way to figure it out is to assess how your life is going. Run through the checklist of the ways you move through your day, how you form and fulfill habits and behaviors. What things to commit to and what falls by the wayside.

It’s pretty common that folks here in the West (let’s say America because I’ve only ever lived here) have a complicated or distant relationship to their Word. We struggle with integrity to ourselves, first and foremost. We have a hard time loving ourselves enough to do what we need to do to get and stay healthy and thrive. It’s why the industry of self-care has skyrocketed over the past several years—there’s lots of money to be made in the field of self-love!

And some people will do that with integrity and some won’t. Some will want to cash in on it and some will try to help from a real, true place.

And that’s where that impulse comes from with me and the toilet paper.

Years ago, I immersed myself in the Landmark Education experience. For about a year or so, I took some of their courses and actually participated in one of their higher-level training experiences as a Course Supervisor. This is fancy language for: I paid for a personal development course and then volunteered in one of their training programs for several months.

Basically I did work for free to get whatever I was supposed to get from it. And I got plenty.

I got the ability to see something that needed to be done and do it. To take action. Or at least KNOW I wasn’t doing something from my own free will.

I got what Landmark calls, “related to my Word”. I developed a new relationship to my own word and my own integrity. I became AWARE of it. And now I can’t turn it off. And it’s awesome!

Because now my word means something. When I say I am going to do or not do something, I mean it. And I don’t mean that I will always DO IT, but I mean what I say and I say what I mean. Confused? Here’s an example. When I told my friend I would come over, I meant it. I didn’t say yes to please him or because I felt guilty. I said yes because I meant yes. But then I had to make a new decision to work and I meant YES when I said yes to that.

So now I had to go back to my friend and change my Word. I had to say, “when I said yes, I meant it. And now I need to change that, and I’m very sorry, but here’s when I can hang out this weekend…”

I had integrity to myself, first, and then to him. That’s what my word is worth. It means something REAL. And it can change and evolve as life happens but I still consider that my word means something and I need to remember it.

Toilet paper. We’re back to that.

As part of the Landmark training program, the volunteers (they call them People Who Assist—same thing, because we do assist) would clean the bathrooms and change the toilet paper rolls. And this was done by gender identity because that’s how bathrooms are designated in most places so there was no weirdness about men not cleaning or whatever. Men cleaned the men’s room and women cleaned the women’s room. And it was done according to the same level of cleanliness or not at all. Toilet paper rolls were replaced if they were empty, end of story.

And I did that, because it’s what everyone else did and it was expected I would, too. If I didn’t, the next person who went in to check my work would come back and be like, “yo. I changed them when it was my turn and you gave your Word you would when it was your turn, so what happened?”

And it wasn’t accusatory or nasty. It was just fact. And this person was holding me accountable to my Word. Basically saying, if you can’t do what you say you will, what is your Word actually worth?

This helps make the resolution thing easy as pie to actually accomplish. It’s not about fixing yourself or being more faster or smarter or whatever. It’s just simply, “what do I want and what needs doing and am I willing to be the person to do it?

Set your Word to something you want to do. Or need to do. Or just say you WILL do it. Think of me in the bathroom changing those rolls because others were and it was my job to do it next.

And how I do that stil because my integrity synapse is just so deep now that I can’t look at an empty roll and not think that it’s up to me to change the goldern thing.

—**—

Speaking of toilet paper, are you looking to buy some AND help save the environment?

I love this company and think you might, too.

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What to say when asked why you're single.

Well, here we are.

It’s that time of year when you’re attending parties and stuff and people like to be curious (read: rude) and ask about your relationship status, assuming and asserting in their question that you’re doing something WRONG if you’re still single. Meanwhile they walk into the next room and have a co-dependent cat fight with the person they hate but can’t quit on or leave. And you’re like, “really? I’m supposed to want THAT for myself?”

Mmmm. I know you’re thinking #notallrelationships but, there’s a part of you that knows I’m right. Right? Right.

I’m sort of kidding here. Of course I know there are many people who find the loves their lives and feel really happy. But from conversations in coaching sessions and also with friends or peers, it’s been a real eye-opener for me how many relationships aren’t the wedded/partnered bliss that I once believed from what’s being portrayed. I think it’s important to unpack that and make it more real.

The questioning about relationship status happens whatever age you are but especially in middle and late adulthood, when social expectations about partnership and family are fierce. Being single during these years often has a negative stigma which is hilarious because I believe most people are more miserable than they are happily matched. Don’t let people make you think otherwise.

Is being single lonely? Sure. Sometimes.

Is being single awesome? YES! You get all the time to do all the things!

Is being single some indication of you being broken or weird or some other word because you don’t fit into a widely-regarded yet rarely-explored social norm? NOPE.

Finding a partner you truly love and respect is awesome. If you’re monogamous and that’s your thing, of course. Finding a happy partnership could, and should(?), really add benefit for your life. But being single has its merits and there’s no need to keep struggling and suffering about your status for yet another holiday season—and beyond.

Unlike what people may try to insinuate, being single may indicate you have one of three things:

1) taste- you don’t settle. It’s just not how you’re built. You have standards and you stick to them and don’t really feel inclined to deviate. Rigorously high standards? What IS too high, really? People don’t come with return receipts without some fallout so…you peruse the merchandise more carefully before choosing.

2) self-confidence- sure, being single can be weird sometimes when you’re hanging around a bunch of people who partnered up from fear of being alone (OFTEN) or because they actually love the person they’re with (RARE) but only if you think about it from the lens of lack. BE CONFIDENT and you will soon see things for how they really are. Hint: listen carefully when couples interact with each other. It reveals a lot.

3) patience- I mean, what’s the rush? Finding someone to be with just so you can fit in or feel “normal”? So you can spend your best years playing games or struggling in power dynamics that leave you exhausted? What if you waited until you’re more mature and got yourself figured out well and then find someone who has also done that work. EUREKA! Sounds like heaven to me. People used to get hitched so young because they had livestock to care for and needed bodies to tend the critters. These people also died by the age of 40. We aren’t there anymore. We can do things differently. Take your time.

***NOW. If you are single from fear of commitment or because you seem to have some behaviors that limit your emotional availability or…something else a coach or therapist can help you with, I suggest you look into getting some support. It IS worth exploring why you’re single if you feel fear or discomfort about your status.***

After being single for so many years (I’ve lost count now), someone asked me the other day if I wanted to be partnered again. It was interesting to be asked that and I wondered if it’s because it’s SUCH a cultural expectation even if you, like I, feel pretty content with your single-hood. While I grieved the person or the loss of my past relationships, I never really had baggage around being a single person. I see people strugging around it probably because they’re concerned with what people think of them. I do worry about this, for other reasons, but not because I feel insecure about being single. Being selectively single for this many years has allowed me time and space to witness other peoples’ relationships and reflect on my own over the years. All this introspection helps me be really clear and intentional about who I’d like to be and what I’d really want in my next relationship. And that’s exactly what I told the person who asked me.

I hope this is helpful if you’ve been feeling badly about being single or unsure what to say when asked about it. You may find even more peace if you consider how much the culture is obsessed with partnering up even when it doesn’t serve people or make them satisfied. And it’s amusing how people project their expectations onto you. People may even feel envious or, in some cases, even threatened by someone being single, often because they are unsatisfied in whatever arrangement they have and desperately crave the freedom that comes with single-hood. When they ask you, remember this, and you might inspire them with your empowered answer!!

If people come at you with their weirdness about your life choices, you can use one of these cleverly-crafted replies below. If you want to quote me, GO FOR IT. Share the love. ;)

Just do whatever you need to do to feel good about your status as a single person and take action to change it, only if you WANT to.

If people ask why you're still single, you can reply:

1) because I'm not insecure and don't need to fit into societal expectations

2) because I'm waiting to find an emotionally mature partner and haven't met that person yet

3) because I'm working on my own personal development until I feel confident and mature enough to make a good partner

4) I feel confident I will find the right person when the time is right, and I don't need to force anything

5) I'm content living by myself and enjoy my solitude

6) I'd rather invest in myself and my friends and not chase people around just to look "normal" 

7) I don't feel incomplete without a partner, so I can be patient to find the right one

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Even bodhisattvas have breakdowns.

While I claim the identity of a bodhisattva, someone who takes on suffering in life as a choice to help others find freedom, but there are days when even I have breakdowns.

Like many people, sometimes I just can’t even.

I can’t be perfectly patient.

I can’t be in ten places at once.

I can’t be fully prepared.

I can’t be supremely compassionate and calm.

I can’t be all things to all people every moment of my life.

And even though my soul chose the bodhisattva identity, there are times where I’d like to opt out. I’d like to feel less responsible for people waking up to make things better in the world. I’d like to feel less struggle with a simultaneous responsibility to do something with it for the benefit of others. I’d like to have been born into the world with more resources and a better head-start in life. I’d like to feel more brave and bold like I used to be, before my own trauma when my eyes were really opened to the tremendous state of human suffering and how we are all struggling to find some air and room for ourselves.

I’d like to just be a human being and not a superhuman bodhisattva. And whether you choose that identity for yourself, Buddhist or not, maybe you can relate to that feeling of breakdown. When you put your face in your hands and shake your head. When you take a knee. When you want to give the burden on your shoulders to another person for a minute, even if it’s one you’ve chosen for yourself.

The beauty of breakdowns is that they lead to breakthroughs, if we can find a wider perspective.

So I do that. I give myself permission to take a moment and find that perspective. When we make space for ourselves, we allow the breakdown to be what is it for the moment. When we allow the breakdown, we generate the process of the breakthrough.

So for the moment, I just decide that I’m tired or overwhelmed or just don’t have it in me that day. I decide to give myself permission for taking on a big task and doing it to the best of my ability on any given day. I choose to say, “this is what I’ve got to give” instead of trying to pour from an empty cup. The moment of self-compassion and reality check leads to more clarity to move forward. That’s the breakthrough to the next moment of being more fully human, imperfectly.

I just hung up from coaching some new health coach students and we all talked about surrender. And surrender feels like freedom, they said. It’s not about pushing but it’s about allowing.

So we can apply the word surrender to this process. Surrendering to the stuff on our shoulders and giving ourselves a chance to rest. Seeing what we’ve taken on and whether it’s serving us. Selectively choosing what we keep for the next part of our path.

Bodhisattvas are often activists. And activism can kill or cure the very purpose or people we’re trying to serve. If we’ve reached the place where it’s the former more than the latter, choosing to have a breakdown helps us break through to our real, actual intentions to make the world a better place.

As this time of year rolls around and the pressure mounts to be in a million places and buy a million things, we can lose sight of the meaning of the holiday season.

A momentary breakdown may lead you back to why it’s meaningful for you.

Happy Holidays!