Relationships, by Cindy

I think facebook is mostly a big waste of time and I hardly ever post on it anymore (compared to before…..) but every now and then I see something that really resonates with me and I feel the need to share it, or at least post it here so that I have easy access to it later.

Today a friend of mine posted something really transparent and honest and one of her friends, Cindy, gave this advice to her. Not only did it get the thumbs up from me, but I even Ctrl-C’d and V’d it right here. Also, I love talking about stuff like this. I love hearing about people’s struggles, challenges and ultimately their successes. I love finding out about people’s journeys and their passions. We are all here figuring out our lives, might as well take care of each other and help each other out. This is what I offer my friends. Come over (once I find a house) and we’ll open up a bottle of wine and talk about life. Or, we can use the Marco Polo app and talk it out that way. BTW, if you don’t have Marco Polo on your phone you should check it out. What an amazing way to keep in touch. I use it almost daily with my crew.

“Relationships are like a bus line. Go to the corner and get on a bus that’s going in a direction you like. If the bus is going where you don’t like get off on the corner and wait for another bus. Another one will come along. You can’t control the bus. Don’t take the driver by gunpoint and lead him down another route. He is already driving his own route. Let him continue on it. There’s nothing wrong with his route it’s just not yours. The route you need will come to you! That’s the great part- you get to choose your route not someone else! Put the gun down let that bus Go!”

The best way to stop being lonely is to act like someone who isn’t lonely.

I did not write this, but I found it online and thought I would share. -MLG

This is the real fake-it-til-you-make-it. Sadly, nothing is a bigger social repellant than loneliness. People don’t want to take on your emotional baggage when they barely know you. And people don’t want to feel like they are interesting to you purely based on the fact that they are better than nothing. So you need to get out there and meet people, but as if you already have a basically completely full life and are willing to make some space for them. And when people are friendly to you and make overtures, say yes, but don’t over do it. These overtures likely mean they are somewhat interested in getting to know you better, not in interviewing you to immediately to be their new best friend or love of their life. Remind yourself to take things slow.

Pursue your personal interests.

Join a writing workshop, take a language class, learn how to throw a pot, learn how to tap dance. If you have time be lonely, you likely have a lot of time on your hands, use it! Activities doing what you love are good for the soul, keep you busy and with a full life, and you will meet people with common interests this way. It also makes you way more interesting when you meet other new people.

Initiate plans with the friends you already have.

Don’t feel bad about always being the initiator with people. Most people are pretty self-centered and kind of glide through life reacting to stuff, rather than being “pro-active.” When your friends don’t call you, it’s not because they don’t care, it’s likely because they aren’t thinking as far ahead as you are, and aren’t thinking about that much other than themselves or maybe their immediate nuclear family. And don’t look down on being the initiator, it’s a great characteristic to have and develop. Initiators are why relationships last.

Get out of bad romantic relationships. Being lonely because you are with the wrong person feels worse than being lonely because you are actually alone.

Sometimes the loneliest people actually have a partner — but it is not a good fit. The initial break-up will probably feel like shit times ten, but once the acute period rolls back, you will likely feel much much better. Get a break-up buddy for this, call a friend, and it’s doesn’t even need to be a very close one and recruit. I recommend selecting someone who has been through a break-up relatively recently. This is the person you call or text when you are tempted to call or tempt your ex. This is the person you vent to in those first few weeks of wallowing. This is the person who will get your ass out of the house and back into life when it’s time to stop the wallowing period. Also, this shows that just having an SO is no panacea for issues of happiness and loneliness, don’t romanticize the idea that all you need is a partner and then you’ll be all set.


A Plot of Entitlement

Let’s talk about an experience that many people (many, many) have unfortunately had to live.  It starts as a normal day, maybe you have some strange feelings that something fishy is going on and then you find something that was not meant for you to find — and in a second your entire life unravels.  Everything falls apart.  The truth is that we don’t know what is in our future because the future is unpredictable.  What about our past?  When you trust someone and then one day you find a digital trail of their transgressions, it’s easy to start to question your past and to think you can no longer rely on anything that you thought was true before.  It is said that up to 80% have experienced some sort of betrayal in their lives.  Some experience it as a child, as a sibling, or as a lover.  In relationships you can be the victim, the strayer, or just a friend who was watching from the sidelines.   Unfortunately this is one of our most common experiences but is also one of the least discussed.  I am hoping that by sharing my thoughts on this, based on my own experiences and lessons learned, that it can one day help someone else that finds themselves going down this rabbit hole.

In a world where we are so connected by technology, we are also pretty disconnected.  It seems like we are all having the same types of problems and conflicts, yet we don’t really talk about them much.  Once upon a time, the wise person of the town sat in the square and everyone talked in public and now this all happens in an office behind closed doors.  We have access to this information through books, websites, blogs, podcasts and other methods, but we are easily overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information out there.  How can you even know where to start or how to digest all of it?   I think the key is to share our experiences.

In my story there are two people, not without problems, but generally a good fit.  Could we have overcome this?  Absolutely not.  Did I want to at the time?  Absolutely!  To be fair, I was a crazy person throughout this.  The way this all happened, so suddenly and without much warning took me to some craaaaaaaaaazy places.  Almost to the point that I could not even recognize myself with my obsession to find the meaning and truth of it all.  This is a huge reason why I say that we could absolutely not overcome this – because I was left to find the truth and explanation on my own, and where I didn’t find the explanation I had to fill in the blanks.

There was no talking, no discussion because everything that came from the other side was a lie.  Actually a lot of lies.  So the number one question becomes why?  What were you looking for so bad that it was worth risking and losing everything?  The reality is that there are two sides to this coin.  So I’ll talk about my side and the other side.

On my side of the coin there are questions such as what was my contribution to the relationship?  Did I do my part or did I just show up?  Did I really put the best of myself forward in every opportunity?  Did I give what I wanted to give or did I give what the other person needed?  In relationships, we often will give to the other not only what we ultimately want but what we want the other person to give to us, and that’s not the way it should be.  These are important questions and I can see what what I offer best in a relationship is stability.  Security.  Safety.  Love.  These sound like simple things, but for many it can be a challenge.

What does that leave?  Adventure.  Surprise.  Novelty.  Freedom.  This is the other side of the coin, things that are not my strong points.  These are not the things that I typically look for, or deliver, in a relationship.  I enjoy them now, as a single person, but when I’m partnered up, I really dig in to the other side.  So, we can assume that, if paired up with a person that needs these qualities in a relationship, they might find themselves searching in other places for these needs to be met.  This doesn’t excuse the behavior by any means, but it shows that without morals, without integrity, someone could get lost trying to find themselves.  They are not leaving the person they are with, but leaving the person they have become.   It’s not that they want to find another partner – they want to find another version of themselves.  Maybe even a lost version of themselves.

And in the wake of all of this growth, expansion and self-discovery there is a person left feeling hurt, betrayed and rejected.  It’s selfish.  It’s entitlement.  All of it could have been avoided by having a difficult conversation.

If given the opportunity, and knowing what I know now, what would I have asked?  Were you looking for this or did it just happen and you didn’t resist it?  How did you justify to yourself that this was okay?  Did you think about how this would affect me?  Did you want me to find out or did you hope I would never find out?  All I needed was an acknowledgement that I was hurt.  Just a glimmer of concern for what happened and maybe a sprinkle of remorse.  The bottom line was that there was a violation of trust and whether or not there was any guilt about the action itself, there should have been an expression of guilt for betraying the commitment that we made to each other.  What I needed was to understand why you did this and how you got to the place where you were okay doing this.

It’s probably for the better that I never got the answers to these questions.  In the search for meaning and understanding, I found a lot of proof and painful validation of exactly what happened (with great detail).  I found a greater understanding of who I am and how relationships work.  I know exactly what my needs are and what I am able to realistically offer.  The way this unraveled is not ideal in any way, but it had to happen exactly as it did for me to find my own way.

Here’s a Tony Robbins quote:  “What happens when the worst day of your life becomes the best day of your life?”  That’s exactly where this story takes me today.  This experience sent me on an adventure of learning, growing and understanding.  I have some amazing friends.  Not a lot, but the ones I am close to are an extension of my family.  Those that have seen me through this entire journey provided the same basic needs:  a calm demeanor, structure in a tumultuous life, and reassurance that I would get through this.  They were there for me and listened to me as I figured out what I needed to do for myself.

I know a lot of people come out of experiences like this with a lot of issues, mainly with trust, fear and faith.  Rachel Botsman says that “Trust is a leap of faith or engagement with the unknown.”  Although I put all of my trust in a person that ultimately let me down, I have not lost my ability in trusting in love again.  As I look to the future there are two forces:  fear and faith.   “Both are about the future, both convey something that is unknowable, both are experiences of life, and both are built on your imagination. The only difference between the two is that fear is imagination undirected and faith is imagination that we consciously direct to create what we want in life.”  Without faith there is no future.  If we allow fear to dominate our life, then nothing will last.

The lesson here is clear.  You are not simply a manager of your circumstances.  Divorce your story of limitation, of pain, of being injured, or of being a victim and marry the understanding that you are the creator of your own life.  You can change anything if you own that responsibility.  If you want something to change, then you have to change.  If you want something to get better, than you have to get better.

I’m not a city guy…

… neither is Toby!

After spending a mere 24 hours here in San Francisco, I’ve determined, after believing otherwise for the last few years, that I am not cut out for the “city life”.  Don’t get me wrong, we are staying in a wonderful apartment, in a great part of the city and the weather has been great.  Also, this has nothing to do with being in the city with Toby.  He’s just an extension of me!  He keeps me in line, if anything!

What didn’t I like about the city this time?

For one, parking is a mess.  I’ve always known that parking in the city could be a disaster, and with no big events going on in the middle of the week, it should have been fine.  But, I am being frugal and decided that I did not want to pay to park in a garage for two nights and that I would take advantage of street parking.  Well, first you have to find a spot.  And you have to pay attention to where that spot is.  Is there any parking restrictions?  Do you need a special permit?  What about street sweeping?  Some streets are swept every night between midnight and 6am while some are Mon-Wed-Fri or Tue-Thu.  Some are 2 hours, some are 1 and some are …… free!  But not around here.   Parking in the evening and overnight isn’t that bad, but you have to know when the meter starts.  You can write down the meter number and use your phone to prepay for the first two hours in the morning – that will get you to 11am.  But if you park in the middle of the day (before 6pm) you can only park for 1 or 2 hours at a time before you need to move your car to another spot.  Oh, how fun.

What else?  Homeless people.  It’s unfortunate that they are homeless but they don’t have to be disrespectful.  Today I showed up after lunch to take a quick nap before dinner.  (I like naps – a lot) I showed up and there was a homeless man sleeping (passed out) in front of the door.  I spoke to him … nothing … yelled … nothing.  Didn’t want to kick him.  He was passed the f out.  So, I called the police non-emergency number and asked what I should do.  She asked if he was breathing … yes .. I think so.  She said she has to send the fire department out to check on him and started asking questions… that’s when he shifted around..  and passed out again….  she said that she was just gonna send a cop over.   Okay Toby, let’s go grab a beer.  When I came back, he was gone.  What if I was on a time crunch?  What if this was my place and I was bringing a date back?  What if this person had a weapon?  Sometimes they are dangerous from the drug use.  Not worth it.



Finally, last night, I had a pretty bad door dash experience.  Door dash is an app that you can use to order food from pretty much any restaurant.  You pay though the app, tip your driver and get your food delivered to your door in about 30 minutes.  Or that’s how it’s supposed to work.  Since I got in kinda late and didn’t want to deal with moving my car or locating a good dog friendly restaurant, I decided to DoorDash some Thai food.  Except when the app said delivered, it was clear that it was not delivered to me.   The driver had been texting me the whole time, too!  “Be there in 9 mins!” “Almost there” so when I said “Hey, the app says delivered but I don’t have any food here”, she admitted that she just gave it to the guy outside.   She pulled up and said, “Are you Matthew waiting for Door Dash” and the guy said “Yes” and she GAVE HIM MY FOOD and drove away!   Door Dash was great.  They re-ordered my food and had it here in …. 45 minutes.  Remember the part when I said it was kinda late?   Well….  the best part is the customer service guy said “I will ask the driver to buzz your apartment and ask to see ID”.  So I was ready with my ID and the driver said, nah, it’s cool I don’t need to see it.  Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.


But there was good to our visit.  Today we visited Land’s End – a part of the city I’ve never been to and has a bunch of dog-friendly trails and beaches.  The ruins of the Sutro Baths and some old shipwrecks.  Toby loved it and so did I.  The ocean is amazing.  The waves crashing, the fresh air, the wildlife….  I swear it has healing powers.  We had lunch in the Castro (where I scored some free parking) and dinner in the SOMA StrEAT food park, which is a lot full of rotating food trucks.  We walked by Bloodhound but it was dark and pretty busy and I felt like I put Mr. Toby through enough these past few days.  He’s a trooper, that’s for sure.

Tonight I am a little more thankful for my apartment in Vacaville.  It doesn’t have the social life that exists here in SF, but it’s perfect for Toby and I!  Great location, great value, and really close to work.   And SF is just an hour away!  🙂

Your mistakes do NOT define you

The very definition of resilience is “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.”  I would imagine that, as humans, we would naturally strive for that.  We’ve all experienced difficulties.  I’m sure a lot of you can say that you might be experiencing something difficult right now.  But to “recover quickly” now that’s something that sounds a lot easier than it actually is.  How do we define what “quickly” actually means?

Just the other day, I realized that I am approaching the two year mark of living in this apartment.  TWO YEARS.  It seems like just yesterday that I was re-discovering myself and finding out exactly what I was made of.  My point is that time goes by very fast.  I’ve tried to slow it down, but no matter how much wine I drink, it’s not slow enough.  So, instead, I choose to fill my life with moments that are meaningful and memorable.  I want to do crazy things, like ride my bike across Italy, or go wine tasting and buy two cases of wine — just because.  I want to decide on a Thursday morning that after work, I’m gonna grab my dog and go camping for the next two nights.  I’m not gonna look back one day and think about the hours I spent on my couch watching “Game of Thrones” or “House of Cards” on Netflix…. I’m gonna remember those experiences that challenged me and pushed me to new levels.

So, back to resiliency.  It’s the thing that helps us recover when we go down the wrong path.  And we’ve all gone down the wrong path a time or two.  If not, then good for you — i can only imagine what it feels like not to have made mistakes along the way but I must say you are either a) not being honest about your experiences or b) missing out on an important lesson in life.

If the answer is b) then let me explain.  I believe that we learn when we struggle.  I believe that sometimes the greatest lessons come out of our failures.  So, if you’ve never failed, or never made a mistake, then you must be missing out on some important lessons.

I made a huge mistake back in 2012.  I won’t go into the details here, but it was a poor choice and it cost me a lot of money and greatly affected my career in the Air Force.  The positive thing here is that it didn’t end it, it just set me back a little bit. What affected me the most, however, was the way people treated me when it happened.  Some bended over backwards to help me and guide me through those rough waters, but some … were just downright mean.  Like, kick you when you’re down mean…. and the Gemini in me will never forget that.  I know who you are and I will never forget.

But I decided right there, in that moment, that I was not going to let this one experience define who I was and who I was going to be.  I was going to overcome this snapshot in my past and move forward, proving that I am better than a mistake that I made in a thoughtless moment.  And I did.

The important thing here is that I didn’t have to change who I was, or act in a different way to accomplish this.  All I needed to do was to dig in to who I was as a person and continue to be who I knew I was.  I moved forward, doing my best in everything that was thrown my way and, more importantly, I searched for mentorship from those that defined those values that I fought so hard to portray.

And now, five years later, I’m proud of how far I have come.  There are still some haters out there – always will be – but the lesson here is to not let them bring you down.  Haters ‘gonna hate — that’s cool, because that is their story.  My story is to rise above all that, and continue to be the best version of myself that I can possibly be.

Last week I got a phone call from the Master Sergeant that is the POC (point of contact) for the Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Induction Ceremony.  She said that there was a special POW/MIA ceremony and that the command chief requested me, by name, to be a part of this ceremony.  The command chief is the highest ranking enlisted member on our base.  He is the right hand man of our base commander.  So, at some meeting, someone described the POW/MIA ceremony and he recommended ME to fill this role.  What an incredible honor to have him think of me for this tremendous opportunity.  And it’s not the first time he’s done it, either.

What I am saying is that mistakes happen.  Failure happens.  It’s part of human nature.  Anyone that claims to be perfect is lying to you.  The failures don’t define us.  How we handle those failures does define us.  So, think about your actions and your response when the worst thing in the world happens to you, whether it is your fault or not.   Will you handle this experience with dignity and respect?  Because what happens AFTER your mistake or failure tells the world more about you rather than the mistake itself.  And also, don’t be a jerk to those that make a mistake or have something bad happen to them.  Help them out.

It’s only a failure if you didn’t learn from it.  Love you all!  -M

Toby & Matthew hike the Cataract Falls Trail!

Toby and I went camping this weekend!  Since it’s summer time, it’s pretty impossible to get a campsite anywhere in the state without a reservation.  Most campsites fill up months before summer even gets here, but thankfully there are a handful of campgrounds available on a first-come, first-served basis.  Two of them are right here, just a little over an hour away from my house on Mt. Tam:  Pantoll Campground and Boonjack Campground are both dog-friendly and offer picnic tables, boxes, water and restrooms (no showers!).   It’s the perfect getaway and offers a TON of hikes right in the area.  Unfortunately the trails that go right through our campground are not dog friendly, so we had to drive a bit to get to the Marin Municipal Water District Land, which allows dogs on leash.

But first, coffee!

The drive should have only been about 20 minutes, but we encountered a road that was closed and didn’t open until 9am, so instead of waiting 90 minutes for it to open, I took a different route, which made the drive about 45 minutes.  We started above the clouds, ended up inside the clouds and then it cleared up for our hike!

Above the clouds!

In the clouds

Toby is ready to hike (Alpine Lake)

The Cataract Falls hike offers a lot of different trails.  To keep it simple, I opted for the almost four mile out and back.  There was a lot of elevation in this hike and since Toby and I haven’t hiked in a while, I thought I’d just stick to this one trail.  The halfway point offers a nice little picnic area with tables and trash cans.  If you want, you can make it a giant loop by adding three other trails that all connect.  We will come back again and add some miles to the hike to see more of the area.  This was a great beginner hike, despite the 1000 feet of elevation.  It was well-maintained with stairs and even rails in some parts.

Also, despite the water levels being pretty tame since it hasn’t rained in a while, the creek and the trickling falls were awesome.  This hike was really calming and was the perfect “reset” that I was looking for!

After our hike, we headed over to Bolinas to check out the very dog-friendly beach.  Bolinas beach is a pretty well kept secret that the locals in Bolinas want to keep that way.  They have a reputation for being not very welcoming to outsiders, but Toby and I had a great time.  This is a beach where dogs can be off-leash, so Toby got to run and play with a few new friends.

It’s a very popular surf spot, in addition to the regulars there were a bunch of kids learning how to surf.  Definitely a sport I’d like to get into in the future.

We chilled on the beach, people watching and playing with other dogs — just a really relaxed, awesome day!  The sun finally came out after noon and then we headed to Stinson Beach for lunch before heading back to camp.

Already planning our next camping getaway!   Have dog, will travel!


Lyft driver reviews!

Welcome to episode 1 of Lyft driver reviews!  When I need a ride somewhere, I always choose Lyft because they promote their rides as “riding with friends” and throwing out stats such as “9 out of 10 rides end in 5 stars”.  Since I’m a sucker for foolish advertising, I’m all in.

Friday – We had an early morning rehearsal which left us with the entire afternoon and evening off – a rare treat on a tour like this.  So, after a few marco polo messages back and forth, Z and I decide to meet at noon for lunch and a trip to some local breweries.  Off we go, to Jimmy John’s to pick up some sammies before calling Otilia to come pick us up.  I should note that while walking to the JJ, we had to get past the CostCo gas pumps first and we found no less than 40 cars waiting in line for gas.  I don’t care how cheap the gas, that is ridiculous!  When I fired up my Lyft app to summon our ride, I was not surprised to see Otilia’s car in what seemed to be the Costco gas line, after joking with Z about how long it would take to get through that line.   She wasn’t… and was at our doorstep in her white Honda CRV ready to take us to our drinking paradise.  She was friendly with a thick Spanish accent.  She seemed a bit lost, even though her phone was barking out instructions, she still kept asking us where to take her.   But, we made it there, she was friendly and her car was clean.  Thanks, Ofilia.  5 stars!

Next, we needed a ride from J. Riley Distillery to Jamba Juice.  Poor Francisco was about to be tortured.  Tortured?  It’s not that he wasn’t paid.  So, here’s what happened.  J joined us somewhere along the line and so the three of us jumped in his [i don’t remember what kind of car] and headed to JJ.  Unfortunately I was sitting in the front seat and the back seat had all of the candy that Z and J were munching on the whole way.  NO LOVE FOR ME!  We arrived a JJ to find it was closed 🙁 but the one that happened to be down the street from our previous location was still open …. so, Francisco whisked us back across town and dumped us at our destination.  It was in his car that I learned Lyft drivers are urged to give all of their passengers 5 star ratings!  And if they don’t, they get a call from Lyft HQ and have to explain why they didn’t give 5 stars.  I’m thinking this is where the 9 of out 10 rides end in 5 stars comes from …. hmmmmm..   anyways, Francisco was nice, his car was clean and full of candy so …. 5 stars!

Oh, and our ride back to the hotel.  Thanks Luis in his White Nissan Versa Note.  I don’t remember much about him.  Maybe he was the one with candy.    Oh yea, he was.  It was his first night and we were his fourth riders ever.  Also his first group.  5 stars.

Today I needed a ride to check out downtown Redlands.  So, I called Alicia.  She picked me up in no time with music blaring in her White Ford Fusion and off we go.  She was nice, didn’t really know anything about the area but bless her heart for acting like she knew.  My destination was the State Street Winery and she was sure that was the place I could get wine and a massage..   nope.  Definitely not the place, but she did have some good recommendations even though she hadn’t been to any of the places.  Seriously?  How do you recommend a place you’ve never been to?  But, her car was super clean – her fiance is in the Air National Guard and she only made two illegal U-turns.  5 stars!

Finally, I needed to get back to campus for our concert.  Let’s call Brian, he’ll come get me.  And he was just around the corner from the coffee shop when I needed a ride so it only took him 2 minutes to get me.  Now, I’m a front seat rider because I would never ride in the back seat if my friend was driving me somewhere, so I could tell when I jumped in the front seat that Brian was bothered by that.  But, at that point, too late, I was committed.  He shrugged and moved his giant jar of peanuts or whatever they were over to make room for me.  Other than that, his car was super clean.  Pretty much brand new.  The sound system, playing classic White Snake was bumping.  I was friendly, and he was having nothing of it.  So, the awkward 4 minute and 51 second ride to campus felt like an eternity.  I tried.  Brian, you let me down.  4 stars.

Until next time, Lyft.  🙂

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