Warriors know they cannot make others into the people they would like them to be...

We are who we are to our core. We can try to mask who we are, hide it, curb it, exaggerate it, deny it, shame it or embrace it, but it is the truth of our being. It is our sacred self. In life you should strive to be your best self more days than not. Have you noticed there are one, maybe two people in the world with whom you are your very best self? Isn't that a piece of heaven to find? Anna and I were out for Widow Wednesday discussing just this (with our pal Don Julio) and commenting how grateful we felt to be most ourselves with the other. Anna and I are the other's license for bad behavior at times but we have a no (wo)man left behind mentality. We laugh now and play. We get silly, blow off steam and once in awhile blow up little bits of our lives (and by that I mean mine because Anna always remains unscathed)...but you know something...I wouldn't trade any of it for the world... it is how we are making ourselves whole again. I get, to some degree, why combat veterans maintain friendships after service. Traumatic stress, although horrible, is a true glue. Anna and I have limped the other out of many stages of our grief. We have thrown the other over a shoulder many a time when we thought it was too much to bare. We have discovered the resilience of our spectacular human spirit and reached in the direction of hope. I have never in my life stopped hoping for good. I'm not some eternal optimist, unmarred by real life. In fact, I'm a survivor of many a war long before I met and married my husband. I tell you this not to gain your sympathy, truly. If you knew me well you'd know I could not handle any of you feeling sorry for me. I tell you stories to illustrate how vital it is that you never give up hope for the future or enjoyment in the now. One of the ways I believe people relinquish both hope and joy is waiting for others in their lives to change into people they'd like them to be. Sorry to bring bad news but...here's the truth...It will never happen. People are exactly who they have decided to be and they do not change unless they have decided to do so. Period. I'm not a huge fan of airing dirty laundry but this is mine and mine alone so I'm going to share in case it gives just one of you comfort or strength. I have not seen my father since I was seventeen years old. I have fond memories of him as a very small girl and then he grew into a man of whom I have no fond memories at all. Unfortunately I was raised in a home where I had too much information of my parent's unhappy marriage. Some of my distaste for my dad came from things I had no business knowing. On the other hand, my father had a horrible temper, screamed, called names, and physically punished me in abusive ways. The last time he ever struck me he busted my lip with a ring. Ugly. I was a sassy, smart, independent girl but never once did my behavior warrant his loss of control. Never. When my parents finally, blessedly, decided to divorce I took my mother's side (there should be no sides in parenting...it is a partnership, not a competitive sport) and left for her hometown of North Carolina my junior year of high school. I have not, until last week, seen my father since the day we left. He did, however, pay for my entire college education. He never failed to provide financial support and for my education I am genuinely. grateful. I was sitting at a car wash after I'd had a killer workout with Mattie. There were two benches, I sat on one, Mattie the other, a woman separating us. A man walked out the door, sat next to Mattie so I looked over to check who was next to my daughter. This man, wearing a 49ers ball cap, was instantly recognizable even all these years later. It struck me like a kidney punch my father was sitting next to his own granddaughter and didn't even know it. "Matt Matt," I said, "come sit next to mommy". She immediately did which was funny, something in my voice must have conveyed a non negotiable urgency. "That is my dad," I continued "I hope he says something to me but I don't know that he will. Stay put, I'll be right back.". By then I had seen my dad see me. I'd seen recognition cross his face. He looked a bit stricken and panicked...as though he'd seen a ghost, not his baby girl. I got up to get change for a tip to pass him alone. I reasoned he could not use as an excuse not wanting to speak to me in front of my child without my consent. I passed him twice and waited for him simply to speak my name. He did not. As I sat back down Mattie wrapped her sweet arm around me. She said, "He is a coward. He is an old man and an empty shell." I could only manage, "He's my dad?". The carwash attendant finished up a big, black, shiny Lexus and nodded to me, "Lexus?". "No," I said "I drive a truck" (with pride!) My father rose nervously, claimed it as his, walked past his daughter and grand daughter and simply drove away. The universe had given him the chance to change, to open his arms to his widowed daughter and fatherless grand baby and yet he chose to leave us on the carwash bench. In that moment I became a true orphan. It was the end of a little girl's hope when he shut his car door. That's ok, it lit yet another fire in me! I'm not a little girl anymore. I'm a Warrior Woman, raising warrior girls! I broke the cycle way back when I chose to marry the father of my children. My husband was a Warrior Dad until the day he drew his final breath. He watches them from parts unknown. He sends real men from unexpected places to watch over us here. I cannot change the man I had as a father, that is a job purely unto him. I have, however, changed the caliber of men the girls know as loving influences and for this I feel grateful AND proud! In your lives Warriors know you cannot change another human being into the person you would like them to be. You cannot do a dance so compelling they will magically alter themselves to the core. That is not a deficit in you...it's the assignment to their OWN soul growth. If you are on a circuitous crazy train hoping you can change another person...GET THE F OFF! This is your life! You get ONE! Don't be tortured by people unwilling to change. Stop wasting time hoping they will!! Get in the lifeboat... ROW!! I believe we are surrounded by people willing to be warriors in our lives. I believe the struggles we face prepare us to love life and others with an even more profound depth. I believe we are each veterans from a different battlefield. I believe we choose our platoon and leave no warrior behind. I believe, in the end, it is up to us alone to rise and build our OWN lives! I believe it is our sacred responsibility to make our time here mind-blowingly, soul-smashingly ULTIMATE...Always!! xo💝Dana

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