Advice That Turned A Painfully Shy Girl Into A Confident And Outgoing Woman

I am still told the stories of when I was little of how I would cling to my mother’s legs and bury my face whenever someone tried to talk to me.  I was labeled as “painfully shy.”

I remember being in Kindergarten and covering my ears and putting my head on the desk because it was too loud and overwhelming for me.  I didn’t have friends so I stayed to myself.  I was going to school at a military base and kids were always coming and going; yet another reason to not make friends in my eyes because the ones I did have, always ended up moving.

As I grew, that didn’t change much.  My father was in the Army and was stationed overseas for several tours.

We moved from the military base he was stationed at to the next town over when I was 7 and I had to start in a new school.  I didn’t know a soul and being shy didn’t help that.  Due to my insecurities and abandonment issues I started gaining weight.  Children at that age were not very kind to children who are overweight.  I was going to weight loss classes with my mother by the age of 8 or 9.  My self-esteem plummeted further.

At the age of 13, I became interested in boys and the one I liked the most spent most of his time at the local rollerskating rink so that’s where I begged to be as often as possible.  I had a few close friends by this time who were willing to go with me so my mother saw it as a good thing and let me go whenever I had someone to go with, in hopes I would overcome my shyness and meet new people.

My mother knew I was struggling and had always tried to help me but I needed to want to help myself.  I started to notice how outgoing the kids at the rink were and wanted to be like them but had no idea how and I desperately wanted to gain the attention of this boy.

My mother gave me some very valuable advice that turned my life around.   She said that if I followed these steps that I would be sure to make more friends and have no problem talking to this boy.  Here’s what she said;

  • Always keep your head up.  Do not look at the ground unless you are afraid you might trip over something.  Look several steps ahead of you.
  • Whenever you pass someone, look them straight in the eyes, smile like you mean it and say hi.  It’s okay if they don’t look back or respond.  Don’t take it personally.
  • Compliment people but be genuine.  If you see something about them that you like, such as; their hair style, shoes, clothes, color of their eyes, tell them.
  • Don’t worry about what other people think of you.  Don’t listen when they tell you, unless it’s nice.
  • Be kind to yourself.  If you judge yourself harshly, you would judge others harshly and that’s no way to make friends.
  • Don’t be afraid to start a conversation with someone.  That’s how you get to know new people.
  • Forgive easily, don’t hold a grudge or try to get even.  If someone does something that you do not agree with, this rule doesn’t mean you have to remain friends with them, but it is important that you still forgive.
  • Push yourself.  Sometimes you will want to give up or not listen to this advice because you are embarrassed, feel insecure or don’t believe it will work.  Instead, just push yourself to do it.

I took this advice but very slowly and it took a long time to incorporate all of it, but I did it.  Eventually, the walls came down and I made many new friends.  No one seemed to judge me.  If they did, I didn’t notice.    By the age of 15 I was working at that skating rink.

Are you ready for this?  “Miss Painfully Shy” became a DJ at the same rink at the age of 16.   Yes, me, talking on a microphone in front of hundreds of people almost every day of the week!  I now have my own mobile DJ business.

I’ve had times in my life when I have dipped back into the shy person I once was but I don’t stay there long and sometimes it’s only for an hour or so.  I have learned to love interacting with people.

I am so grateful for the advice my mother gave me all those years ago and I am so glad I decided to follow it.

(Oh, in case you’re wondering about that boy?  We kissed once but really just remained great friends.  To this day when I see him we still stop and talk.  I hope if he reads this he doesn’t know it was about him.  lol)

What is some really good advice you took from someone that changed your life for the better?  Please don’t be embarrassed to share.  We’re all friends here.

(For more inspiring stories, tips and videos on how to increase the peace and happiness in your life, see the listings of posts to your right.  Feel free to follow this blog and share it with friends on Facebook and Twitter.  As always, thank you for stopping by.  I appreciate you.)

Who Do You Want To Be – An Inspirational Video

I hope you will take the next few minutes to enjoy this inspirational video. In this 3.5 minute video Arnold Schwarzenegger asks the question, “Who do you want to be in your life?  Not what, but who?” He talks about how other people say it can’t be done but you have the power within you to make anything happen. He also discusses fearing failure and the fear of making decisions.   Pay no attention to those who say it cannot be done.  Go after what you want, be who you what to be in life.  The power is yours.  Take it.

Please click through my other titles on the right for other inspiring posts and helpful tips that will guide you to having more peace and happiness in your life.  Please follow this blog for future updates as well as share with your friends.  Thank you for stopping by!

When Helping Isn’t Really Helping

There comes a point in time when helping someone really isn’t helping them.   You could actually be doing someone a disservice by helping.  How do you know when to recognize this?

We spend many years teaching our children the skills they need to succeed on their own once they are in the real world.  When they have difficulties some parents make excuses and do things for their children.   Most kids choose to learn from the situation but will still expect the parent to get them out of tough spots because things have always been made easy for them.

This leads to an entitlement issue.  They think that the parent owes them.  They will in turn, lash out when the parent steps back and decides they have given them the skills they need to succeed because they don’t want to actually take the action themselves.  It’s easier for them not to.  They have learned how to manipulate situations and parents (and others) to get what they want.  When things are no longer easy and the effort needs to come from within, they resist and fight back.

It isn’t just teenagers who act like this.  I’m sure we can all name a relative or friend or associate who is guilty of acting like this.

Sometimes not helping is the best thing you can do for a person.  It will hurt to watch them suffer for a bit but hopefully the suffering will cause them to act on their own and to own up to and take care of their own responsibilities.

Yes, it is a very kind thing to help others but if they are not truly benefiting from your help, it’s time to stop.

You should also be cautious of helping others just because you will benefit from the situation.  That is not actually doing things out of the kindness of your heart and is not helping either of you in the long run.

Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself  to see if your help is actually what the person really needs:

  • Do they really need help?  Some people only ask for help because they are being lazy.  They can swim but want a life preserver thrown their way so they don’t have to work as hard.
  • Is that person trying to help themselves?  If not, your help is not benefiting the person.  They need to learn to do things for themselves to survive on their own.
  • Is that person grateful for your help?  If they are not, there should be no question.  You should not be helping them.  That’s not fair to you.
  • Are you helping them because you want to help them or because you have to help them?  If you want to help and the above questions are not a no, then by all means, help.  If you feel like it is an obligation, you may want to think twice.
  • Is the reason they need your help due to a situation they have gotten themselves into that was unnecessary?  Perhaps in this type of situation, they should be learning from natural consequences and help should not be given.  If you choose to help, you will be doing both you and them a disservice and bringing unnecessary negativity into your own life.
  • If you did not help them, would they be able to do this for themselves?  If they are unable and their desire is strong to do for themselves and they would be grateful for your assistance, then help in the areas where you can.

Helping is never a requirement.  It is a kind gesture.  You have the right to choose in any situation.  When you feel like your right to choose to help has been taken away, that is not a healthy situation.  You have to decide what is best for you.

You may need to evaluate those you have been helping, why you have been helping them and whether they are actually benefiting from your help or if they would benefit more by learning how to do things for themselves.

I think it’s also important to mention that when you help someone who needs it, be sure you keep a clear line of communication of where the help is actually needed and how the person needs it done.  If you are not doing something correctly, the lines of communication need to be open enough to be able to hear where changes need to be made without feeling the person is being ungrateful.

I have noticed in my own life that I need to step back and let some people help themselves, that it is the only way they will learn what they need to from the situation.  It is not my responsibility to constantly bail people out or think of a solution for them.  In doing so, I have been hindering them from self discovery and the feeling of accomplishment they would receive by doing it themselves.

Tell me, have you run into situations where you realized that you weren’t actually doing anyone any favors by offering your assistance?  What was the outcome?

On The Way To School – What Memories Are You Saving

When my children were young, we were on our way to drop them off at the school when we had an very unexpected surprise. I saw my father’s car parked outside the McDonald’s and decided to take them in quickly to see their grandpa. The excitement was so great that I decided to write the following poem for him to remember the moment.

This was about 12 years ago. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who remembers this encounter. The memory has been kept alive with the words on this screen. I hope you enjoy the poem…

On The Way To School

The children thought

That it was so cool.

They saw their grandpa

On the way to school.

We were driving to the drive-thru window

For soda to drink

When we saw his car parked outside,

Mom asked, “what do you think?”

The kids agreed.

They all went inside.

There he was, eating pancakes

With sausage on the side.

They ran up quickly,

To his surprise,

“Very unexpected!”

You can see it in his eyes.

He hugged them all.

It made their day.

But unfortunately,

We had no time to stay.

Everyone had places to go

And people to see.

But that chance meeting

Filled their hearts with glee.

They told their friends

That it was so cool,

They saw their grandpa

On the way to school.

This is one of the poems featured in my published book of poetry, “Heart Versus Mind: Words That Touch Your Heart.”

I challenge you to start writing your favorite memories down in your own words, in your own style so that you may revisit these happy times, especially when times are tough. It could be your own words that brighter your day.

What do you choose to remember? Write something every day. The act of recording the good moments in your day will also make you reflect on and be grateful for those moments.

How to Move Forward Toward Your Dreams

Do you need a push toward fulfilling your dreams?  Do you wish it wasn’t so overwhelming?  Is the stress of wondering how you will reach your dreams too much that it has you hitting the breaks?  Maybe this will help.

“A dream is a wish your heart makes.”  Do you remember this quote from Disney’s Cinderella?

A Dream is a gift of a vision for how great your future could be.  People often discard dreams because they are stuck or they feel they don’t deserve it or it’s not possible, “what would people think of me if I went for something that seems unobtainable in their eyes or because they don’t think the effort is worth the results?”   Have you ever caught yourself with that thought in your head?  If so, it’s your dream, not their’s, they are not the one who has to put in effort toward achieving it.

Never stop stretching and growing.  If you want to move forward toward your dreams you must take action.

My personal finding is that dreams are within reach and completing a goal toward it, and the journey there is the most amazing part.  Having experienced the passion for life so strongly as a result from chasing my dreams I know I could never be happy just settling for a life in which I didn’t feel I was moving forward toward it in some way.

Taking steps toward your dreams may actually require you to step outside your comfort zone.  The great thing about a comfort zone is, once you step outside it, it will expand to accommodate.  Imagine that, an ever-growing comfort zone!  You can choose for it to remain the size it is now or have more room to play inside it and push against it’s walls to stretch it out.

You may feel that your dream is so big that you wish you had a road map.  Don’t stress about the big picture.  A war is won through it’s battles.  Break your dream down into smaller, obtainable goals.  Once you come close to achieving one goal, the next step will become apparent and you will see which direction to head in next and you can work toward that.

Identify what your next step needs to be to reach your goal.  Where are you at right now?  Is there something you could learn to get there faster?  Do you know someone who already has the expertise you need to move forward?  Ask the questions you need to.  There are so many resources on the net if you are not sure where to turn.  This applies to every subject.

What dreams are you working toward?  Do you need help with what the next step should be?  Perhaps I can point you in the direction of a great resource.  Please leave a comment below.   I’d love to hear from you.

Shouting It From The Rooftops, “THANK YOU!!”

“I appreciate you.”   “Thank you, thank you, thank you!!”  “I am truly grateful.”

I cannot count the number of times in the past 10 days I have said those words to people at the Dojo, to family, friends, strangers, friends on Facebook, Twitter, other Blogs and in reply to the many comments on my own blog.  I have to say though, I never get tired of saying it.  They are not just words.  It comes genuinely from the heart.

I feel that having an attitude of gratitude can go a long way.  It lightens my heart and I am hoping it does the same for the recipient.  So today, I want you to know that what do and who you are does not go unnoticed or unappreciated.

So, today, no long lists on how to decrease stress, fears or have more time in your life.  Today, it’s just, “Thank you for always listening to me and encouraging me.  You’re a true friend and I want you to know how much I love and appreciate you.  Thank you for being you and for everything you do.  I appreciate you with all my heart.  You’re the best.”

Who do you appreciate?  Tell them today.  (Telling me is not necessary but pass on the love.)

❤  Missy ❤

A Simple Tip on How to Show Yourself Some Love

When I was about 12 years old we had a wipe board attached to the fridge for notes from my parents and older brother.  One morning I found the words, “I LOVE ME” were written in bold on it.  I though my brother had written it.  He was 9 years older than me and it would have just made sense for him at 17 to write that.

I approached my father with it later in the day and said something like, “Did you see that conceited note that Joey wrote on the fridge?”  My father just giggled.  “Read it again,” he said.  So I did.  I couldn’t understand why he found it funny.  It was rude in my eyes.  I always saw conceitedness as a negative trait to show.  He then gently pointed out that “I” was the one reading it.  It was meant as a message from whoever read it to whoever read it.  He reassured me that it was not conceit, it was OK to love myself and he thought we all needed a reminder.  WOW!  That concept blew my mind.  I loved it though.

Today, this would be called an affirmation.  If something positive is written and you repeat it often enough as if it is real and in the present, your subconscious will start to believe it. I’d like to share a “Conceited Love Note” with you and I want you to read it as if your subconscious was trying to send you a true message about yourself.  (Let’s face it, it already is true but you just may not believe it all yet.)  Print it out and read it often.  You will be surprised at how your brain responds to it.  The below note was written just for you.  Enjoy!

The Conceited Love Note
I am wonderful
I have the ability to be whatever I choose
I am smart
I was born with the tools to succeed
My bank account does not define me
I am unique
I am filled with love and very loveable
I have what it takes to attract the right person and keep them
I have the ability to make a difference in the lives of those I love
I love life and look forward to the possibilities it holds
 I am grateful for what I have and who is in my life
I do the best I can every day in all I do
I say what I mean so I am understood but I am only kind with my words
I ask questions when I do not understand
I do not judge myself or others harshly
I give people compliments when they deserve them
I am kind
I never start drama
I forgive and do not hold grudges
I pay attention to my thoughts
Everything in my life happens for a reason
I have the ability to handle whatever life throws my way
I am in control of my responses to every situation
I am strong
I am a good person
I am successful in all I do
You can create your own affirmations or add to this one.  I hope you will.  It is important to have faith in yourself and who you are and who you want to be.  Affirmations, stated in the positive, as if they are true, become true after time and effort is put into repeating them more than once a day, aloud and believing them.
What will you do with this information?  Will you create your own?  Will you write one for your spouse of children to read daily?  Will you make one to read to your small children daily?
What a difference these can make in your life.
*Please feel free to share this with anyone you think it will benefit.

How the Desire to be Perfect Can Affect You

Although I have never seen the movie, and after reading some of the other quotes from it, I am not sure the movie would fit into what I’d like to discuss here but after seeing the following quote tattooed across my son’s best friend’s chest, I wanted to talk about what the phrase meant to me.  “May I never be perfect,” quoted from Fight Club, written by Chuck Palahniuk really made me think.

I did not discuss with Jory in detail about what this quote meant to him, other than the fact that he liked the movie, but I can only imagine that if he went through all that pain to get the tattoo, the phrase itself must have it’s own meaning to him as well.

I would never want to be perfect.  Not only is it too much pressure to maintain but if I were perfect, there would be nothing greater to strive for.

Several people have disagreed with me but I do not believe there is such a thing as perfection.  We may have areas in our lives or our looks that may be considered perfect but I think there is no such thing as being completely perfect.

After reading my blog post from yesterday,, “10 Ways to Improve Your Self Image,” Melissa, one of the readers mentioned that people around her feel that she thinks she is perfect and they are constantly pointing out her flaws because of it.  As it turns out, it isn’t how she sees herself at all.  It would upset me to know that the people in my life I care about are constantly watching, waiting for me to make a mistake or prove my lack of perfection.

I think we put a great number of people up on pedestals only to realize they are just like you and me.

Please do not misunderstand.  Some may feel that if perfection is not obtainable then why should they even try?  This is not the message I want to send.  Should we strive for perfection?  Absolutely.  Wanting to be the best we can be is an admirable trait that not everyone has.  It requires deep desire, ambition, dedication, and the strength to keep moving forward.

I feel that if we strive for perfection, we should be willing to accept that we will never completely reach it.  We should not allow ourselves to get stressed by letting negative thoughts to enter our sub-conscious when we realize it, nor should we let the desire to be perfect consume our every move.    Being weighed down by the stress and anxiety of pushing for perfection on a consistent basis and not reaching it only sets us up for feeling like a constant failure, leaving us in a negative state of mind.  (As stated in my previous blog, I cannot stress the importance of staying aware of what we are thinking.)

Anthony Robbins uses the acronym, CANI to describe his principle, “Constant And Never-ending Improvement.”  That is the state I would like to reside in, never perfection.  The difference here is the realization that perfection is not obtainable but improvement is a step forward toward being a better you.  With this philosophy we recognize that we have room for improvement and we can better ourselves by improving one thing at a time.

wrote an article for called, “Perfectionism and Panic Disorder, How Perfectionism Can Impact Panic and Anxiety” in which she notes that when people set such high standards for themselves in order to reach perfectionism, they are more prone to psychological issues and possibly even physical illness. The acceptance of others becomes so important that they strive at all costs to reach it, in turn causing such issues as panic disorder, OCD, social anxiety, distress, loneliness, depression, negative thinking and self blame to name a few.  She states, “This ideal sets a person up for failure, disappointment, and negative self-evaluations. Perfectionists are often very self-critical, and may even scrutinize the performance of others when it doesn’t live up to their impractical standards.”

May I never be perfect!!  I want to leave room for failure in order to learn from my mistakes.  I want to be able to be relaxed in my life and not stressed about the possibility of not reaching perfection with all that I do.  I want to live by the CANI principle and feel comfortable knowing that the definition of doing any one thing perfectly can and will change and there is room for it, even after it’s completion.  I just feel that if I allow myself to not be perfect and accept that I am not but continue to improve myself, I will be happier and more at peace because of it.

I want to hear from you.  I am certain there are people out there who oppose my thoughts here and I would love to hear your side.  Please discuss your feelings on this below.

10 Ways to Improve Your Self Image

When Ashley Monroe from my home town was 16, she recognized the need to do something drastic.  She was tired of hearing everyone in her high school putting themselves down.  She wrote, “You’re Beautiful” on 1,986 sticky notes and placed them on every locker to make a statement.  My son was one of the recipients of these notes and was very touched by it.  Many of those students had gotten into a place where they were putting themselves down initially for attention but after a while, started to believe what they were saying about themselves.

It’s a shame that so many of us see ourselves in a negative light.  I have spoken with so many people who are told they are beautiful but still choose to not believe it.  We are so busy criticizing ourselves and assuming what others are thinking about us and worrying about them judging us that we do not take the time to appreciate the good things about ourselves.

Back In Time

Let’s stroll back in time and take a look at some of the things you remember being told about yourself.  Did people point out what they thought were your physical imperfections?  Did they tell you that you were not good enough at something you really wanted to do?  Did someone simply just have a way of berating you and making you feel “less-than?”  Or were you the culprit, keeping yourself down with negative self talk? You may have chosen to believe it simply because it was said or you heard it in your own voice. You may have even trusted the person it came from.

We also watch what others do and are capable of and we compare our best to theirs and if we don’t match that in our own eyes, instead of working harder, putting in the time and focusing on just improving where we start from, we lie to ourselves.  We say that we are not good enough to compete with them.  The thing is, often times we don’t stop there.  Those thoughts start reminding us of all the ways we did not measure up in our own minds and we end up believing that we just aren’t good enough, period.  This sets us up for all kinds of future issues.  Have you ever caught yourself doing this?

What you may not have realized was that you actually had the choice to hold on to it or discard it.  We also have the choice to believe that when it comes to competing, we should only compete with ourselves.  We all have our own starting points and should compare ourselves only to our most recent best.

Making the Change

Are you ready to put all of this behind you?  Only you have the power.  It may seem unnatural at first because of what you are used to, but if you make the following steps a habit, you will guarantee yourself some freedom from that negativity you keep hearing inside your own head.

1.  You must stop listening to other people’s negativity.  If someone has something to say to you that is negative, dismiss it immediately.  Do not get defensive and argue about it with someone because adding emotion to the situation causes the memories and the pain of it to last longer.  Remember that some people are just insecure or angry and lash out at other people without regard for their feelings.  Often times it comes from insecurity and is not the truth.

2.  Always be aware of your thoughts.  Pay close attention to what you hear yourself saying inside your own head.  Follow the above instructions by dismissing the negative immediately.

3.  Question what you once thought was truth.  Realize that the only things that are actually true are things you decide to believe.

4.  Make a change only under your own terms.  For instance, if someone comments negatively about your weight, whether the scale reflects what they say or not, never make the change based on their comments.  Only make changes for yourself.  If you are not ready for the change and do something to make a statement based on someone else’s judgment, any results you experience will not be lasting.

5.  Call the person out on it if you are comfortable.  State the opposite aloud.  If someone tells you that you’re hair looks terrible, thank them and tell them that it wasn’t them you were trying to impress and that you happen to like it that way.  Do not let them have power over your thoughts.

6.  Affirm the opposite.  In correlation with number 5, use a positive statement to counteract what someone has said or what you are saying in your head, such as, instead of, “I look fat in this dress,” use, “I look amazing in this dress.  I am so glad I made the choice to wear it today,” and BELIEVE that statement.  Affirming the positive will lessen the chances of the negative sticking in your head.  Creating any kind of affirmation and repeating it on a daily basis to counteract something you feel you are stuck on and posting where you can repeat it aloud before bed and in the morning is a very efficient way to create change.

7.  Eliminate past judgments.  For the old tapes we play in our head that were perhaps from ourselves, our parents, siblings, friends or relatives years ago, discard the tape or tape over it.  Remind yourself that the person may have thought they were helping you in some way but in no way were they telling you the truth.

8.  Do the opposite. Perhaps you quit at something when you were young because you didn’t like it.  It does not make you a quitter.  Find something you like and stick with it and you will create a new positive label.

9.  Forgive.  It is important when trying to let something go that you forgive the person who you feel is responsible for placing a label or negative thought in your head but at the same time realize, only you have the power to believe what someone says about you.  It does not need to be your truth.

10. Simply relax and never, ever, take things personal.  This cannot be stressed enough.  So many things are said carelessly by others and once out of their mouths they have forgotten what they even said.  By taking something personal you are not only assuming how it was meant but you set yourself up to hold onto that negative.  Feel free to ask questions as to why the person said what they did.  Having clarification may help you to understand it was not meant as a personal attack.

Feel free to print these steps out and place them on your fridge or bathroom mirror where you can be reminded of them on a regular basis.

Taking these steps will hopefully start you in the right direction of starting to see yourself in a much kinder light and lead you toward a greater inner peace and happiness. This will alleviate some of the stress and anxiety you may feel when you are out amongst others.  Not everyone is judging you.  Most people who do not know you will look at you and look away without a second thought.  Those who interact with you, if they are a person of integrity, will see you for who you are through your personality.

One of my favorite quotes is from Bernard Burach which states, “Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”  Keep this quote in mind when faced with the judgment of others.

Please discuss below ways you would recommend for other people to help them see themselves in a better light.

(For additional tips, advice, videos and inspirations to increase your inner peace and happiness please see more posts and categories to the right.  If you found this helpful, please share on Facebook or Twitter. You may sign up to follow by e-mail by clicking the Follow button at the top or bottom or through other options located on the right hand side of the page.  I appreciate you stopping by! )

Live By Your Own Rules – Stress Reduction Part 2

As a part of my reducing stress segment on this blog page, I’d like to take a few short minutes to talk about something important in my life right now. I hope that by the time you have finished reading it, you will be able to see things in a different light and perhaps it will help you reduce a bit of stress in your own life.

My latest post on FaceBook, “Life is too short to live by other people’s rules” has prompted me to write this.  We do.  We live by other people’s rules and we forget to listen to ourselves.  Some rules, of course are naturally meant to be followed in order to keep society from falling apart.  There are laws and basic guidelines that everyone should follow, one example being, the Golden Rule.  But we really should be listening to is ourselves.  We all lead different lives, even within a family unit.  We all experience events in our own unique way, with our own set of feelings toward it.  Therefore, it would only make sense that the rules that we set for ourselves must match who we are, not who someone else is.  It is what makes us unique.

Take some time to listen to yourself.  Find out who you are, where you want to go with your future, what you want from today, next week, next month and next year and make rules, set guidelines, create goals that are unique to you.  Break them down step by step and start where you stand, but start.

Progress will take time but you will learn to become your own person by doing this.  We all want to be a part of something, a family, a group of friends, a work group and society in general but often times lose ourselves by defining who we are based on what the group is or how we want the group to see us.  Break away from that definition (not necessarily the group) and define yourself as you truly want to see yourself.

I am a mother, wife, friend, daughter, sister, aunt, niece and so much more to everyone else but what is most important is who I am to me.

It is time to cast aside personal judgement and stop allowing others to judge you as well.  Remember, “What other people think about you is none of your business.”  Go forth… LIVE BY YOUR OWN RULES!!