I am starting with the disclaimer this time, saying that I love my parents, I am deeply grateful to have them in my life and thankful for their support and struggle.

This being said, all lawsuits and family bickering well absorbed, I need to get personal about this decision. It is high time I took it, it is long overdue, especially since I am in a threesome for almost 30 years, and it’s not the one to raise an admirable eyebrow for.

I say I want to divorce my parents because they didn’t make this decision when the music stopped between them, nor did they make the other sane resolution, meaning to fight for their relationship and change whatever is not working. Compromise? Not the case, it is some kind of alien form of subjugation, a form of slavery and the absolute acknowledgment that the other is right, which of course, is by itself, pure suicide. Letting go? Error – concept not found. Only thing worth living for: find a new way of arguing better than the other one does, or remembering exactly what went wrong on that dinner night, 20 years ago.

Why is this my problem?

When it comes to family, there is not an easy way out, no magic shutdown or sleep button, no ESC, no scrub or cleanse system that will work wonders, although I’d love a “sort your family problems” smoothie. You just know it, accept it, live with it, try to do better and hope for the best. Family is like a nasty E- Coli infection, that just sticks to you and is a part of who you are for good, showing up when you least expected it, bringing a mess, creating a bigger one every time. Sure, don’t get me wrong, it could be a beautiful emotional mess, heartwarming, loud and lively, hot and cold, and it’s a sweet kind of mess we long for, especially during the holidays. After that, we can regroup and miss them until we are eager to go through the madness together, once again, with bells on. Blame holiday cards from Hallmark for this, but it’s actually true.

In my case, my parents have two opposite personalities and I am sorry to disappoint you, but they do not attract.

Growing up, I was used to patch things up, make them better, shift focus and come between them. I was entertainment in an area where gadgets and tv shows did not exist, their witness at every fight, the official referee and personal side taker, professional buffer, translator and peace maker officer since I was 5, so it’s not such a big surprise that I became a very talented multitasker – all corporates love that.

I didn’t grow up in a constant toxic environment, yet their sometimes flawed dynamic got to me far worse than I could have predicted and the fact that I am still in this broken place, trying to fix that instead of solving my own issues, is rapidly consuming all my resources.

“I’m turning into my mom” = scariest words ever

My late 20s brought me close to this dark revelation about myself and to the fact that I might turn into my mother, especially when I am extremely pissed – please embrace the scientific term which combined with a very specific F word, can best describe the different stages of annoyance I reach sometimes.

I easily become the queen of ice cold treatment and isolation – sorry Elsa – I walk away from any argument, I am really critical and sometimes use emotional manipulation to get my side of the story across. My mom is the only person that can get me worked up and ready to go to war with Zeus, in 2.3 seconds max. Not feeling good enough, while constantly trying to explain ordinary things, not feeling accepted and valued for who I am, are always working in the corners of my mind. The funny thing is, I only got the most annoying traits, the ones I truly hate about her, and not the awesome legs, out of this world metabolism or skin type, nor de drive and restless nature when it comes to working and striving ahead. Nope, I just got the things that I don’t like about her, or any other human being, for that matter. That is just plain stupid. The things we reject the most about our parents or any other loved ones are the ones we are scared to manifest ourselves. I fear that I am that person sometimes, and, so when I see it others, it just makes me that much angrier.

“My dad used to be my hero” = saddest words ever

That moment, when you realize your parents, whom you saw larger than life, kinder than the Pope and better than Superman (and I am talking about Chuck Norris standards here), are limited humans and actually seeing what those limits are, is extremely painful. It shouldn’t be, I agree, but it is. When you see that what was in your mind has little or no reflection in real life, combined with the lack of desire to improve or change, all this related to your hero, it’s just excruciating, especially since I am talking about every little girl’s hero, her dad – I know, I know, cliche alert!

The tendency to please and make him proud ruined my self-esteem for years.

Then you realize you are a grown up and should be acting like one, by accepting, not judging and just responding with kindness to all earthly limitations. This is a battle you won’t win any other way, but that you still keep on fighting in the background. I guess many of us are fighting their kid version of ourselves, that is mostly disappointed of us and of how things turned out, and what kind of an adult have we become. Stop fighting and start listening to the kid could be an interesting idea, don’t you think? He might have some answers or at least a few good points to make!

Also, since we are already here, maybe we should stop fighting against the version of us that was in the mind of our parents. Of course, they wanted you married with a doctor, having kids and a postcard house by 25, but that is at the end of the day, their definition of happiness, so they are actually wishing you the best, in their terms. Stop rebelling against good intentions! Instead, try searching for your own truth and definition of the happier you, and start living it, that being the ultimate victory for both you and them!

“Parenting your parents” neceser

I know, by now, that I can’t fix their relationship, which actually, is not that bad since they made it together for more than 30 years, which is a whole lot more than I can say about my own romantic experiences. However, I need to stop trying or hoping to do so.

I know and want to be there to help them in any way, but not at the expense of my own activities and responsibilities. I have to set some boundaries and stop feeling bad for the few times I can’t respond to their needs firstly. I don’t have to go above and beyond for a thing they can easily manage themselves. Stop the guilt!

I need to stop spoiling them, or enabling their dependent behavior, that is not allowing them to be fully responsible for their actions and reactions. Also, it is not allowing me to have more patience and be more available for my partner, and it might have something to do with my not wanting kids soon – since I am feeling like a babysitter for my parents – but this is another story:)

I need to stop feeling responsible for their mistakes or choices. People choose to fight, to disagree, may even like it or are used to it, so much so that it’s not a life altering thing for them.

I have to stop trying to make their relationship work as I would like to see it and start focusing more on my own. After all, they did a fabulous job raising a great kid, they were amazing parents, really awesome people that went through so much along the years, overcoming problems and always finding new resources to make it another day.

I have to stop worrying that my own relationships will turn out as theirs did. This fear is stopping me from living, loving, feeling. Our own past does not equal our future, so why would others past have that much of an influence?

If you find yourself in any of the cases above or remember a younger you struggling with them, please know that our parents are a huge part of who we are as adults, they shape our personality, principles and draw the outline of our existence, doing everything with effortless love and caring. They did the best they could, at that moment in time. This is not about pointing fingers, making up excuses or finding them responsible for who we become. We all have to choose to learn from their mistakes and make our own as well, to honor their best teachings, yet find our own path to happiness. There is only so much we can blame them for, the rest is on us!

I was in a dressing room, excited about my new findings after a longer session of “quality time together” while shopping with my better half. As any other guy, my partner feels the need to immediately fix any given problem, that is why, I know he can really handle any special request I might have while I’m trying on clothes, sincerely knowing that he is the right man for the job: his orientation skills are great, he has a professional army background, so if he can survive a week in the woods, he can make it a couple oh hours in a mall, he knows where to find and how to read a label and has pretty good taste when it comes to my pieces of clothing, so I can’t ask for more than that, right?

While I am trying out different items, I realize that I need a bigger size for a top I’ve picked out, so I wave briefly, ask him to come and bring me a larger (M or 8) size. As he walks away from the fitting room, right when he was leaving the entrance of it, he turns around and asks, one more time, just to be sure: “what size do you need, baby, an 8?????” I don’t know if it was the echo formed in that fitting room, his smug smile that implied the innocent confidence based on his assumption that bigger is better, his deep powerful manly voice that made it sound as if I was asking for a bigger size for a tent and not a silk top, but it was certain that there was not chance in hell for me to like the way the larger size – that I asked for!!!- would fit.

This episode stayed with me, I’ve told the girls in the office about it, we laughed it off, with passion and a hidden sense of inner peace as we all were wearing a size S sweater that morning. Yet, something was still bugging me about it. Why didn’t I buy the top, if I liked it and felt good wearing it? After all, I need a bigger size for the upper part of the body, which is not bad at all! Honestly, my closet is a safe house for clothes with sizes that range from XS to L, and I like them all. I would take a larger item, a more comfortable piece of clothing, a shirt that drops on one shoulder, a dress that lets me breathe over one that makes me look 6 months pregnant from eating a peanut, every time, so, it must be something else!

The S on the label doesn’t stand for Smart or Sexy

I went from jokes at the office to heavy reasoning and introspection in order to get to the real motive that wasn’t going to let me off the hook for making myself feel bad – because that was what really happened – who said shopping is not an effective method of self-knowing and therapy is dead wrong!

Although we all are aware that that S does not stand for Smart, Sexy and has nothing to do with attitude, intellect and sensuality, that it is not the defining element of our perSonality (and if not convinced, we have Beyonce on our side to show us how it’s done), a smaller size something, can have magical powers on our pSihic. It’s a small personal victory, a notable and accountable result, a boost of confidence. Most of the times, it’s actually more powerful than a brand or your own comfort, and it can make you respond differently to a compliment: “Your dress is so pretty!”, You: “Thanks, it’s an S!!!”. We obsess about ponchos, oversize jackets, and boyfriend jeans, but we want those to be an XS, if possible, like it would even make a difference!

Do we have double standards for ourselves?

All the above are not harmful, but we women, make them work against us and end up feeling bad and guilty because we don’t fit in our own beauty standards, fearing that a goji berry will ruin our waistline and future life. “Beautiful in any size or shape” has everything to do with self-confidence, positive energy, and a healthy life, lived to the fullest – but that is too long to fit on a label!

I can’t stop but wondering why is it that can we so vividly see that in other people, but not ourselves? Why do we see our friends gorgeous, regardless of the sizes they wear, but when it comes to us, we don’t apply the same rule? Don’t get me wrong, I am the first one to fight for higher standards related to the way we look, present ourselves and above all, the way we feel and I am not a fan of mediocracy or excuses, yet I do not agree with constantly punishing ourselves.

Here is another classic: you would want him to like you in your loose pj’s, the ones with the fat giraffe floating on a cloud, right? If the guy likes you without makeup, without your hair done and in your largest college sweat pants, then that must be real love, right? But do you like yourself with no makeup on? Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s not being true at all?

And since we’re talking about our men, in a life tortured by sizes, why do we even insist on lying that size doesn’t matter, ladies?

This does not sound crazy at all, I actually feel sad for all the things I never got to live and call my own, all the memories I don’t have, all the experiences I don’t get to talk about, and the people I didn’t share my life with.

This is not about missed opportunities and misfortune. I feel sorry for the lives that were so vividly present in my mind, so beautifully projected in a future that might not happen at all. Maybe, in some way, I have already lived them there, in my imagination, and so they’ve become useless for this moment and for those waiting to come. Maybe, I stop believing in them, and so, just like childhood dreams, they’ve made room for a somewhat more corporate or IKEA like order of thoughts. Maybe, I just let them go and I now I get to miss them once in awhile.

Part 1: I feel sorry about the college experience I didn’t have.

This need some explaining because I did go to college, I have a Masters degree and I finished in the top 3 of my class, with ridiculous grades and meanings attributed to those achievements that were very far from my soul’s expectations, like some many other aspects of my life.

Branded T-shirt needs reveal more than fashion choices

The sadness hit me when I was visiting Berkeley and when I found myself frantically set on buying a branded college sweatshirt as if the world was about to end tomorrow and the only thing that could save it was a superpower logo on clothes. My mind found the perfect solution for my misery: if you buy a shirt, you’ll have a part of this great college experience, as if you actually lived it. We all do the same with celebs, that is why we are so interested in knowing what lipgloss they use, or what nail polish makes them feel special, so we can go & buy exactly that color and live the same experience as they do, thus making us & our lives feel as important as we think theirs are. Of course, our lives are small and insignificant compared to any Hollywood bubble, so far away that comparing is just a mean of self-torture most of the times, but in this one extremely specific and highly important area of our existence, the two worlds collide and are exactly the same: nail polish color! Sometimes, that is all you need in order to feel that you matter just as much, that your work is valuable since you can afford the same things and, above all, that you have something in common with the unreachable: same damn good tastes in color picking!

Back to my own sobby story, if we may. That was the precise feeling I wanted, for my own experience, to know that I have something in common with a great academic opportunity. The campus, the study buildings, the humongous library, the coffee shop, the park within, the town, that ice cream, the stories I don’t have of them. I was born and still live in a small town of Romania, so I am as far from the US experience as I can possibly be. I did not leave my hometown to go to college, I didn’t even consider the possibility at that time, I didn’t make that choice since I was buried in guilt and marrying the story that made me think that I didn’t deserve more. We are currently in divorce, hence all the writing.

I was visiting some friends in SF, and they were the ones that took me to Berkeley, on my request, because I needed to have a taste of it, and please feel free to replace this great college with any other one from the Ivy league, from US, UK, etc. Of course, I had the tourist version of it, but still, that triggered every cell in my body to want it more. I saw myself wandering the alleys, getting lost in the first year of college, seeking to find friends, deciding on where to sit in a classroom, trying to fit it, desperately making sense of the a colleague’s notes, writing papers, crying to my parents on the phone, living in a dorm, praying for an exam subject (aka for a miracle), not washing my hair for 1 week because I was too busy studying, always wearing the same undies for the toughest exams or writing with the same pen that got me my first A there. I always was a kid that used to stand out in school, but standing out at a prestigious college, having those kinds of opportunities, experiences, people & ideas around was something else. I felt sorry about the chances, the stories and the growth this would have brought in my life, mostly because I felt present there, more than I was during my own college experience.

Pay attention to what your soul says YES to

I consider that period an average one, although my results and commitment were far from average, although I have never felt average. Ever since kindergarten, I graduated at the top of my class, I had extraordinary teachers that saw the magic in me, gave wings to dreams and equaled potential to possibility. Somehow, I forget all that and my mind pulled a dark trick on me, deciding that I am not worthy. I picked Law School, but never decided on that, because my extremely smart & driven best friend knew she wanted that, and so, I adhered to a serious choice, trying to seem serious about my future. My soul said NO. I didn’t leave my small hometown for college because I wanted to feel righteously small too. My soul said NO. I had straight As because that made me feel that I was doing something important and everyone can see that. NO again.

My poor heart had enough after 5 years of studying something that was not related to my truth. I decided to leave home, to go the state capital, and pursue a career in an area I loved but had no preparation for. Took chances, worked hard, failed, tried again. Soul said YES.

I didn’t decide on my academic path, I wasn’t present in my life during those years, but I did what was expected of me and that is why I miss the higher experience of what could have been. I didn’t have it, so I still want it. In some way, it’s just the human need for more, for growth, change, new or unknown and I am not sorry for feeling this. It’s similar to the desire to visit Paris or any other lovely place that you’ve never seen before. That is what memories are: a place where you used to be and wanna go back to, from time to time, a place or a version of you that you used to know and love, if they are good ones.

It can be just like a funny little cab story:

Driver: where to?

Passenger: to ____ (insert dream of choice destination). I can’t wait to get there!

Driver: been there before?

Passenger: no, but wanted to, so many times before!

There comes a time in every online marketer’s life when the 105476 ads in one account are simply, not enough anymore, when all of a sudden, the minutes per $2 are not smiling at you and the conversions data needs holy water, a bunny out of hat and some lemon juice sprinkled on top of it, so you can bear to see the sight of it.

The moment when it hits you, is the same with the one you see the competition’s ad with the cat cheering for you to be more dog.

If greatness is involved, then it’s clear you have to prove that the percent of brain you actually use is higher than your CTR.

When in Doubt, Ask the Old You

It’s all coming back to you now, like a soundtrack from the 90s, all the sparks of genius are here to remind you of the soulful, spirited and ssssmocking version of yourself. Yes, it was you who made quite an impression with your kindergarten fingerpainting, who rocked that 2nd-grade poem and who was voted “most likely to drive a cool car” in high school.

A new challenge comes along, just begging for your touch and, of course, you go for the big idea; thus, the magic begins, now that you know that you made it possible in the past.

Best Practices on How Not Do It

Since you are a marketer or a businessman, it is impossible to think outside of a document – FYI, the well-known muggle phrase “think outside of the box” does not apply to SPECIALists and is highly offensive in the marketing circles.

When stuck, the corporate life cliches will always have a best practice of actions, that may look a bit like this:

  1. Start with the most specific & detailed research to see exactly how others did it wrong.
  2. Make a sneaky, elaborate and highly segmented plan to which you will never turn to again.
  3. Set up a bunch of meetings and twist everybody’s hand to join and help with the creative process.
  4. Disregard all great ideas that did not come from you.
  5. Raise an eyebrow & stare people down with your eyesight
  6. Combine excessive complain with hand gestures
  7. Return to the first idea that you marked as useless
  8. Make the ad copy rhyme
  9. Take credit for it
  10. Send Mail & set it live

Grind It Like It’s Hot

All jokes aside, after a lot of work and really great ideas, the end result will not always perform as you have imagined it in your head.

So, before you take some time to thank your mom and all those who believed in you, remember you have to grind it out, sweat the details, and actually do the work. No matter the business, the obstacles, the change of plan, the huff and puffs along the way, the beat down version of yourself that would love a “Keep Calm & Screw Em All” T-shirt, there is no magic formula for success, not matter what any article says.

Grinding out is not sexy, hot, fun, but what comes out of it may very well be. Blood, sweat & tears, as 80s as it may sound, might just be the path to making it, since success, just like anything else in life, will not come overnight. Happiness, fulfillment, ambition and even faith need to be trained, worked on, constantly. So start working on them today!

I am writing this because I need to read it, I need to hear & breath it every day. Also, I’ve set a deadline for this.
So, if there is no one else telling you this, listen carefully:

Stop empowering your fears, today!

That little voice that appears you before applying to a job, before asking for a promotion, before dialing his number, joining a course, starting a new challenge, sticking to a diet, taking the plunge, living the dream or changing it, is not the real you if the only thing it is saying for such a long time is: you can’t do it!

Talk about befriending the enemy

It is just fear, and you’ve let is be your BFF for far too long! That is why it has opinions on what you do, what you wear, how you talk, makes choices on your behalf and shows up, in your life, before you do.
Instead of a New Year wish or to do list/goals/resolution, just decide to do one simple, yet life changing thing, starting from today: let go of the fear. Many have said it more gracefully before me, but I feel the need to hear it more often, maybe you do too: love and fear cannot coexist, it’s either one or the other. There is no good or bad, right or wrong, there is only love or fear, in all aspects of our lives, we just have different words for them, in our effort to rationalize everything.

Fear of soulful heights anyone?

Maybe this blog may be about fear of heights. Fear of what you can achieve if you had no fear. Fear that brings you down. Fear of the person you could be in the absence of it, of what you could do, try, feel, live if there was no fear. Fear of greatness, fear of social, professional, soulful heights.

Fear of ____ heights. It’s your job to fill in the blank and to fight it, fearlessly.