Live without pretending, love without depending, listen without defending, speak without offending.

Live without pretending.

I grew up on a dairy farm in Iowa. Staring at the back end of a Holstein and shoveling what came out was a daily occurance. That’s about as authentic as you can be. It wasn’t until my 30s that I adopted a new phrase: Fake it ‘til you make it. I first heard it when I joined Mary Kay Cosmetics. Meaning, envision who you want to be, and pretend you are that until you become that. Pretending was encouraged and a way to “visualize” a brighter future. I did that for years…until I returned to my true authentic self. Today, I’m just me, not pretending to be something I’m not.

Love without depending.

We’re taught that love is a two-way street; that’s what a relationship is—a never-ending circle of give and take, each person giving to and depending on the other. But is that really what love is? Isn’t the real challenge to love without expectation of love in return? Especially when you don’t agree?

Listen without defending.

Conflict is uncomfortable, especially with someone you love. The challenge is to fully listen to them—even when you want to defend your point of view. Most people are simply waiting for the other person to stop speaking before they add their “two cents.” It’s in these moments, most especially, that we have to keep quiet and let another person express their views. Even when there is no solution in sight, listening is the key to moving the relationship forward.

Speak without offending.

If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all. That’s Mom logic and advice I heard often growing up. That philosophy fit for a long time…like the fake-it-til-you-make-it mantra. … And, I think that’s the reason I’ve fallen back into pretending. I am NOT happy with the state of the world. I don’t trust Donald Trump or the Republicans to govern. They are absolutely trampling on human rights: brown people, black people, women, Vets, the lgbtq community–and the planet! There are atrocities being perpetrated on the American people and especially immigrants, and because I don’t want to say anything offensive, I find myself not saying anything at all. Given our current political climate and state of affairs, this is no longer an option!!

It’s time to step up and speak out—even if you can’t be kind. If you have conflicts with someone, look for common ground. There is more that unites us than divides us. But when human rights are at stake, we MUST speak up and defend the rights of others—even if that means offending someone else with our words.

Will I continue to live, love, listen, and speak with respect to others? Yes, I will. But I will not pretend what is happening in America is tolerable or acceptable. When conflict arises, I will live without pretending to agree with others when I don’t. I will love the person I’m disagreeing with without depending on their acceptance or approval. I will listen without defending my point of view but vow to do my best to help them see it my way. And I will speak without offending knowing respect and compassion are keys to healing conflict—and ultimately the world.


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