Don’t just sit there Follow your passion and chase your dreams!

Thinking of a career change? Need to find the courage to finally go back to school, or create a business. We have a few tips for you:

Always follow your passion. Your passion will help you get out of bed when you don’t feel like it. Passion will get you through the 12 hour days you might have to work. Passion will give you the strength to stand up against someone who tells you your product is inferior. Passion will help you seal a big deal because when you talk about your product, people will see that you truly believe in it.

Listen your heart. Everyone and their mama will have advice for you on how to run your business. At the end of the day, you have to do what is best for you. If someone tells you something that doesn’t sound quite right, make a decision based on what your heart tells you.

Find others like you and share ideas with them face to face. Meetup.com is a great resource. I have made good friends and business contacts via Meetup.com. But be genuine, networking simply does not work without a personal connection. Give people a reason to help, buy, believe in your product

Money will come. Have patience. Sometimes it may take a few years to make a profit. The first 5 years of a business are the most difficult ones. You are creating a brand. Let people know about your product. Many people give up on a good idea because it didn’t turn a profit the first year or two.

Stay true to yourself. There are tons of ways to make money. At the end of the day, you have to stay true to your beliefs. I could tell you 1 million ways to make money, but if it doesn’t fit your work style, you might earn a quick buck, but it probably won’t work for you in the long run.

It is okay to fail. Most people start a few businesses before they find the one that works best for them. They try different techniques, different styles, different colors, different mission statements. As cliche as it sounds, failure is the truest (and most painful) learning experience. We all have to learn somehow. Some people learn by going to school. Some people learn by buying and reading books. Some people learn on the job.

Brenda on being pregnant and alone

Dear Brenda,

My boyfriend just told me he doesn’t want to be in a relationship. I’m 7 months pregnant and been nothing but faithful. He doesn’t even come home some nights. What do I do?

Dear 7 Months and Counting,

Men scare easily. Especially when it has to do with commitment or anything that includes feelings. They often define themselves by their freedoms and a baby and a baby’s mother often disrupts their image of the ‘studly’ rock star they believe themselves to be. Don’t count him out just yet; just know that when it comes to reliability and support he’s a can short of six pack. I know his indifference hurts. He’s being an *sshole right now, and that doesn’t negate the fact that once you loved and something innocent and beautiful has formed from that.

So here you are darlin’ with this baby growing inside you, a tangible expression of hope and promise, your swelling belly a declaration that life goes on and on and on. And so must you. You must continue to care for yourself, to continue your prenatal care, keep your doctor appointments. You must read and educate yourself on what to expect during the remaining months of your pregnancy and what to expect during the birthing process. It is up to you to offer your soon-to-be-born child the best health possible starting out. In short, it’s not about him right now. It’s about the baby.

I realize that this is a time of uncertainty and wonder, of intimacy with this life inside you and anxiety about the future. There are options and decisions have to be made. You can choose to be a single mom or you can choose adoptive parents for your child. Either decision needs a conversation and a support system.

Being a single mother is wonderfully challenging, thrilling, hard, thankless, and is somewhat easier with a rock solid support system. And while single moms get a lot of sh*t for being just that, we (present company included) are a phenomenal bunch of get-it-done attitude, resilience, dedicated people who know our families are different and the same. We keep more balls in the air than an over-caffeinated circus clown. We ‘do the damn thang’ day after day after day.

The other option is a brave one, a selfless act that takes courage and support. I’m talking about adoption and have several friends who have adopted children both domestically and internationally. Some have sought open adoptions and are in constant contact with the birth mom, while in other situations the birth mother initiates all contact. And still, there are situations in which there is no contact with the birth mom whatsoever. Adoption has changed and there are so many ways to facilitate something that can work for you. What I do know is that these children are so wanted and loved and it is a delight to be a part of their lives, to see the tenderness, and the celebration of family that these parents might not have ever experienced. A woman who chooses adoptive parents for her child will never know the depth of happiness, or the resounding joy she has given a family. Incredible.

Whatever you decide to do darlin’ know that you will move through this, and no matter the decision you will alternately think you made the right one and the wrong one. Trust yourself. You will make the right. I trust you. Be well.

Brenda

Baby Bonding and Blended Families — First Time Dad

Dear Brenda,

I’ve recently become a first time father with my partner who has three children from a previous marriage. While I am completely in love and in awe of my newborn son and loving being a father for the first time, I am feeling that my role of his father is not one that is being fully considered by my partner and in particular her eldest, a boy of 14 years. On a few occasions he has been commenting on the way I’ve been fathering my son and is telling me how things should be done. He also consistently wants to hold my boy, at the expense of my having time with him or giving him time to rest on his own without being in the arms of someone. While my son is only 5 days old at the moment, I feel like my role of father to my child is being merely dismissed. I have spoken to my partner about this but this seemed to be little avail with her, as expected sticking up for her son and, in my opinion, not dealing with the fact that this is my first child, more like thinking of this as just being another child in our relationship. I have fears that my son won’t be able to establish a bond with me, his natural father and will instead make more of a connection with his half-brother, in turn leaving me in the lurch.

All of these feelings have increased since my child’s birth, where the eldest congratulated his mum on the birth but didn’t say any such thing to me, instead critiquing me on how I was holding my son. Things came to head just the other night when my partner’s youngest made a comment to her older brother when he was holding my son trying to calm him down. She was awaiting her turn to hold my son and at the eldest determination to calm the child down she blurted out, “You’re not Xander’s father, Lloyd should be doing that not you.” This comment just made my feelings all the stronger as I felt that this was something that not only I was bearing witness to.

I am still at a loss as to what to do as all that seems to have been established from my discussion with my partner is that I have been stupid to think such thinks and probably need to change, but this is my first child and truly fear losing out on my role as father. Any advice that you could help me with would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

Dear First Time Dad,

When I brought my baby girl home, I had some of the same feelings. My then husband’s mother and brother were there and for the most part, everyone was holding the baby but me. I didn’t want to cause any familial riffs, so I stayed quiet, but inside I harbored the same concerns and fears. I’d read the books and I knew the importance of bonding! His mother would just look at me and rock and coo at her or the uncle would hold her while he watched football. It seemed they would only bring her to me to be breastfed. The day everyone left to go back Chicago, after waving one of the happiest goodbyes ever, I sat with her in my arms and looked into her eyes and said, “It’s just us now, it’s just us.”

So I understand how you feel about wanting a moment to hold this precious expression of life uninterrupted and without a running commentary on whether or not you’re doing it right. When this happens simply turn to the person who is making the comment and say, “I’m learning and I love this baby as much as you and we both have to find our way” or something to that effect. And let me just add, that all bonding is good. You want the 14 year-old to hold the baby, to feel close. There is no such thing as holding a baby too much. Though I’m sure an Old Wife is scolding me and pulling out her book of “tales” as she reads this. In just a few short years that same young man will be off to college or pursuing some life dream. You all are a family that is still blending and that beautiful baby is churning the waters. Let it be.

The issue I see in this family dynamic is that the family roles seem unclear. The eldest son should be given his respect as eldest son and no more. As you and your partner now stand at the helm of the household, there should be some boundaries drawn together about acceptable language and tone from the children. That is your issue, not whether or not the child will see you as its father. Do you hang out with the eldest? Have you taken the time to bond with him? Does he now know that he doesn’t have to carry the responsibility of playing father? Does he know that you have the role firmly in hand?

All around you, new routines are being established, new roles are being carved out and without the slightest bit of awareness this new baby has become king and is holding court, complete with cooks, nannies, jesters and advisors. I say, no matter what you’re still The Dad.

– Brenda

Should You Stay With Your Mentally Ill Partner?

Dear Brenda,

My retired army husband has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and delusional disorders. He refuses to go the doctor or take medication. He has been hospitalized several times and arrested twice and always has the same outcome, he comes home and quits meds, starts drinking again and everything goes downhill fast.

We were separated for 6 months and he is on probation until April 11, 2011. After he came home I told him he had to have a job and stop being so out of control. So he had a job for a year and quit it last week. Now I am back where I started.

He blames everything on me, the economy, the death of his grandparents and parents, the death of my father and brother, both of whom died of cancer. When his parents died, they were in Florida and I was in Maryland… still my fault. He gets angry and starts “lecturing” or screaming at me and it will go on for 5 or 6 hours, unless I leave.

How do I make that break? My kids are grown and since this has been going on for over 10 years, they understand for the most part. I have a retainer with a lawyer; this is just a very hard decision.

– Hard to make a the break

Dear Hard To Make That Break,

Author Alice Walker once said, “Women are the mules of the world.” We take on so much, we care and nurture, and sometimes we crumble under the weight. Being the primary caregiver for a person who has a mental illness is a tremendous responsibility.

I do have some questions. Is the behavior caused by the mental illness the only reason you want to divorce him? When he takes his medication are you able to live with him, love him? Do you have any help at all from his family or your children? Obviously you’ve given this some thought; yet you don’t list them here, so I’m curious what they are. Have you thought through what your life would look without him? Will you feel guilty for leaving? Can you live with that? Can you live yourself if something unspeakable happens? Would you consider a separation? Can you live far enough away to have some peace and quality to your life while also being close enough that if you are needed to sign him into a facility you are able to do so? What about his family? Do you have any support? Quite possibly without you there he might spin out and end up in a place where he must take his medication.

Obviously I can’t answer this question for you, but I hope I’ve given you some things to think about. If you don’t do anything just yet, please do one thing, join a caregiver support group.

I must also say that just because a person has a mental illness, doesn’t give them license to treat their loved ones like crap.

Here are some links that you might find helpful.

National Alliance on Mental Illness

Mental Health America

Crisis Help (For support group information) 1-800-273-TALK

All the best to you.

-Brenda

I’m 60 and I want to change careers. Go for it!

Brenda,

My husband and I separated after 30 years. I have been working for 15 years as a hospice nurse. Now I switched to psychiatric nursing, which I did years ago, because driving to the hospice was so exhausting and expensive.

I am now in my sixties and have no money except what I earn. It would be great to work less since I will never be able to retire. Also I would like a job that would entail less responsibility for people’s lives. It would be great not to return to school. Any ideas? Is it ridiculous to think of a career change now?

Dear Is-It-Ridiculous-To-Think-Of–A-Career-Change-Now,

No, it isn’t ridiculous at all; many people burn out and just want or need a change. No problem with that. However IIRTTOACCN there are some challenges that need to be worked out before you can move forward.

Get a pencil and paper and figure out your basic expenses, rent/mortgage, car, health, food, utilities, debt, and entertainment. Figuring out how much cash you need to live on is key. Then you have to ask yourself where your expenses can be cut?

Can you move into senior housing? That can save you hundreds of dollars and as for your income when applying, the lower the better.

Do you have any kind of health benefits through your employer? Can you apply for a government-sponsored program that might pick up some of your medical expenses?

The most important question though is what do you want to do? Would you like to stay in nursing? Can you take that expertise and move it to another arena? Or would you like to do something different? What is your passion?

I thought AARP.org offered the best resources for seniors looking to change careers or re-enter the workforce.
Good luck! And remember that something spectacular is just around the bend!

– Brenda

Your First Love

Hello Brenda,

I’m a high school student and I think I am falling for this guy. But the problem is I don’t know if he is falling for me too and I want to know if he is.

We weren’t that close before, but we are now. Every time he sees me, he gives me a hug. He talks to me, but not that much. I mean he only gives me “small talks” and I have a feeling that he likes me too, and he’s just not showing it. But at the same time I’m feeling that he’s just really friendly. Now that summer’s coming, I won’t be able to see him anymore. I don’t have his number and I don’t know his email address. He isn’t my friend on Facebook either. I want to add him, but I’m scared because he might get the feeling that I like him and what if he doesn’t like me back? Also, I want him to add me instead… lol. This is my first time falling in love. I never dated, let alone had a boyfriend. Can you help me? Thank you!

Dear Falling-In-Love-For-The-First-Time,

How spectacular first love is! The wonderfully magnetic swoop and pull of hearts in hallways between classes. The hugs that leave skin electric for the entire 4th period and “small talks” in which each word from the mouth of our beloved is magnified and inspected for hidden meaning before being carefully put away so they can be savored later or shared with friends.

There is nothing more honest than our first love.

What if this tingly feeling isn’t mutual? Can someone break out the crystal ball and tell us if this person feels the same way we do? How easy love would be, how predictable, and how boring, because it is the not knowing causes us to open up, to risk, to move beyond our selves and to let our heart lead.

So this is the call, to go beyond yourself, to risk your heart (and a bit of your ego) and ask. You don’t have to ask out right… do you share classes, belong to any of the same clubs or organizations? Do you have mutual friends? I can hear you groaning from here girlfriend, believe me, this puts you in the driver’s seat and that’s the position of power. It doesn’t have to be a date, ask if you can add him on Facebook. That simple. But if you’re feeling froggy and ready to jump, ask him to mini golf, or roller-skating and don’t just invite just him, invite a bunch of people that’s much easier on the heart (an the ego).

Your heart is a precious thing, as is your body and your spirit, so I need you to remember your worth. Not everyone deserves your open heart or your sweet spirit. I know your hormones are going beserk, so listen hard here, not everyone deserves access to your body.

My first love during high school, well I mailed anonymous notes to him and stole his pens and kept them as keepsakes. We eventually became friends and remained so for a long time. During high school he dated my best friend and later my cousin and never once did he ask me out. We kissed once, during a game of truth or dare.

Feel froggy girlfriend… take the leap.
Brenda

We’ve separated, but what do we do with the embryo?

Dear Brenda,

I have an issue, it’s a big issue and I don’t know what to do. I separated from my ex two years ago. Before our separation we had a baby through IVF and there is another spare embryo still in the lab.

I know my ex and I will never be together again. I know it sounds mad to try to have another baby of his while we have already been separated. I also know my life will be very hard if I had to look after two children on my own with very limited support from him. But I don’t feel good to throw the spare embryo in the bin either. What should I do?

Dear What-Should-I-Do,

I can only think of the time in my life when it seemed as if everyone else’s body seemed to do easily, frequently, even accidently what mine could not do. I remember being poked and prodded, tested and discussed in hallways outside of the examining room, while I sat and waited in a white gown that usually smelled faintly of bleach.

So I felt my heart quicken when I read your letter, because I’d tried IVF too, however, unsuccessfully.

While willingness doesn’t get as much PR as compassion, it is your willingness to listen to that inner voice that tells me that you’ve already made this decision. And to that I say brava to you.

To answer your question though, here are some things I would think about and want clarity on:

  • What are the father’s rights when it comes to this embryo? In terms of being able to go forward with the procedure, would you need him to sign away his rights?
  • If you were to carry this baby to term do you have a support system in place to help you?
  • Are you financially able to care for this child?
  • Would you consider carrying this child and being a part of an open or closed adoption?

Honor your willingness to really hear and consider what this inner part of you desires. That’s how you live without regrets, and that is really living. What should you do? You should do what your heart is telling you.

– Brenda

The Comeback – When The Affair Is Over

Dear Brenda,

My husband cheated on me three years ago with his secretary. He says it is over and they are just good friends. He has since retired, but works off and on with the same company and with her. I’m having a difficult time getting over the affair. Every once in a while she seems to come between us again and again. Not that she’s physically there, but in my head she is. The emotional strain is coming between us.

It is really sad because we have been married many years and other than this affair have gotten along great. I always thought things were good, until this happened. It has been an emotionally draining time for both of us. My husband can’t take it because I don’t trust him, and I can’t take it because I am always on guard watching and waiting for something to happen again.

I love him and he loves me, but at times it can be difficult to feel the love. I have asked him a few times, for the both of us to go counseling, but he is stubborn about it. I think the next step is a separation, which neither of us wants, but the stress is just too much.

Dear The-Stress-Is-Just-Too-Much,

How long was the affair? Was it ongoing for years or was this something short term? From reading your letter, it’s difficult to determine. Let me stop and say this, everything you’re feeling is completely right. Loss of trust in a loved one is crazy making. What was up is now down, what was white is now black, what you thought was authentic and truthful is now a lie. On top of that, it seems as though you’ve made a decision to stay, so then the question becomes, how does one get over the other woman? And while you can forgive, can one every really forget?

Let’s answer the first question. One gets over the other woman by not having her in one’s life. Since there is still contact, the wound has never gotten a chance to heal completely and I sense the strain this is putting on your marriage. It is up to your husband to put an end to this particular type of pain and not work with her anymore. Period. No contact whatsoever.

Working back to trust is difficult. While your husband doesn’t want to go to counseling, you need to be clear about what your needs are, and that this is going to take some time. And then you have to do the work, forgive him. You don’t have to forget the affair. Trust is what’s lost in an affair, not love. I hope your find peace with this.

– Brenda

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