Tag Archive for making relationships work

Relationship Breakthrough Challenge-Part 2

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Relationship ChallengeIf you missed the first part of the Relationship Breakthrough Challenge you can view part 1 here.

Imagine for a moment that you’re at home relaxing.  Your husband comes home a little late from work.  He shows up with a big grin on his face.  He looks at you and says “Look honey, I bought a new car.  Isn’t it great?”

What would be the first reaction you have?

More than likely it would be nearly the same reaction as anytime you’re about to get into a disagreement of this type.  You know, when he does something without telling you and you feel like you should have been informed or better yet, consulted.

Patterns rule our world…

It is through patterns of emotion that we react and deal with things in our lives.  We use the same emotions over and over again because we’ve built a pattern of use that protects us, helps us cope, and gives us some level of comfort in knowing what comes next.  And it is THESE patterns that will keep you confined to a cage of limits to how you can deal with situations.

It is the pattern you default to that limits your ability to see new courses of action to take in your relationship.  Why?  Because you can only react the way you know how.

In fact, you probably don’t even know you do it.  If you don’t know you do it, you can’t have control over it.  And if you don’t have control over it, then your default emotion and reactions run you, you DON’T run them.

Which can be a problem when you’re in a long-term relationship.

Consider that these problems, that you react to in the same way over and over again can cause you massive amounts of stress.  And that could lead to more problems in the relationship, more stress, and even depression.

But…

Where does stress come from?

Stress is created when your view of the world, your view of how your relationship should go, is NOT being met.  You have a standard or expectation of how things in your relationship should go.  And if they don’t go that way, you default to the emotion and reaction for that situation.

Of course that doesn’t do anything to progress your relationship or the situation forward.  In fact it may cause it to get worse.  You’re reacting to everything and never gain an upper hand because you’re falling into a default way of being with your partner.

When those issues don’t go a way and you continue this cycle it impacts you both emotionally and physically.  And that compounds matters.

The true impact of your relationships?

Our relationships magnify our emotions and impact every other aspect of our lives.  If your relationships at home are problematic, they will impact work.  If your relationships at work are problematic they will effect your home life.

Think about times you’ve had a fight with your spouse and leave the house in disgust.  You may have found yourself in a foul mood on the way too work to arrive even worse than when you left the house.  You might even confide in your “girlfriends” at work who will side with your view just because they are your friends.

“How could he do such a thing.”

“He could learn a thing or two.”

All of these comments fuel your anger and you end up taking it out on one of the men in your office.  It all continues to escalate unless it’s handled sooner rather than later.  I would even bet you take your anger out on your kids if you have any.  They’re in your face, constantly wanting something… and you yell at them.  They just want to do what kids do and play.

But where does all this come from and how do you break free?

You lose every ounce of power you have when you react in your default emotion or reaction.  Consider that you give your power away to your past that has you be the way you are.  I’ll explain more about the past in just a minute but for now, I’m sure you’ll agree that you do lose your power in these situations.

You’re not in control.  I bet that when you have a problem or an event takes place that doesn’t go the way you think it should, you blame something or someone.  You might blame the event for causing you to get upset.  You may blame your partner for causing you to “get that way”.  But you rarely if ever take responsibility for how you react.

How could you.  You think it’s some external force causing you to be a certain way.

The problem is that when you blame something and you DO NOT take responsibility for your actions, reactions, and emotions you are at the effect of life.  And when you are at the effect of life you lose all the power in your relationship.  You essentially hand it to whoever will take it, push your button, or cause you to react.

That’s no way to live life.  But it’s how we all have done it for so long.  Until you get responsible.

Hang with me a few more minutes and you’ll get what I’m talking about.

Regain your power!

Consider that the common “thing” in every upset, problem or negative reaction you have is YOU.  And it is YOU who needs to take responsibility for your actions.

You see, no one can push your arm, leg or knuckle and cause you to be mad, sad, or unhappy.  What typically happens is… something happens, you make it mean something, and react to the meaning.

Once you see that it is the meaning that triggers certain emotions, you can take control back.  Once you become aware of this meaning, identify where it comes from, you can now choose whether you’re going to get upset or take a different action.  Your partner isn’t in your head pushing buttons making you be a certain way.  You’re reacting to something he did and the meaning you assigned it.

Once you begin to see that you do have control you can regain your power over every relationship situation.  You get to choose what you get mad at and what you don’t.  But you are no longer at the effect of life.  Now you get to choose when you act and when you don’t.

And that gives you the tool to work things out, talk things out, and deal with the issues instead of get upset and move into your default emotion.  You are now equipped to handle problems quickly and easily.

So how exactly do you deal with a problem?

First, take responsibility for your own emotions and reactions.  “He” didn’t MAKE you do anything.  He did what he did and you made it mean something that caused you to unconsciously react.  Now that you know you do that, you can take responsibility for your reactions and emotions.

Now you can get them under control and confront him without the emotions that hold the conversation back.  You may find your conversation with him now is empowered by who you are being in the situation.  You may find that he respects you more for talking to him in a civil tone rather than reacting how you’ve always done.

By doing this you will gain a level of power with yourself that transcends the relationship and transforms it into something you never thought possible until now.

Change your relationship and change your life…

Here are the steps you can take to improve your relationship, take responsibility for your emotions and reactions, and move your relationship and life to another level on the playing field.

  1. Identify one default behavior you do when you get upset with your partner.
  2. Look at what he did and find out what that action or event means to you.  (Be honest here, you can only make progress if you’re brutally honest with yourself.)
  3. When did you first give that type of event meaning?
  4. It’s just an event, can you give it up and take responsibility for your own emotions and reactions?
  5. Now be fully aware of when you’re about to react to an event.  Go through the process and just be with it.  Don’t react.
  6. Now you’ve got control and can choose the emotion you want to use to discuss the situation with your partner.

Is it really that easy?

Yes.  And it does take practice.

Consider you and I are meaning making machines who give meaning and react with emotion any chance we get.  And it didn’t just start.  We’ve been doing it since we were children.  And we’ve carried that along with us every step of the way.  In the next article I’ll talk about how these meanings are the story of our lives and made us who we are.  I’ll show you how you can truly transform your relationships into something you’ve always wanted.

So stay tuned for the next post.  In the mean time, drop us an email or leave a comment.  Let us know how things are going for you.

Love… to infinity and beyond,

Jay

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What’s Your Style of Fore Play?

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Now before you go down a different road, let me explain the question.

Recently, while in a coaching session, I was discussing results of a group interaction with my team leader. The team leader is another coach. We covered quite a few areas of human behavior within and without the group. I had an issue with one of my group in that she was not responding as I had wished. Further, I was having difficulty probing her and gaining information to motivate her into action. It may seem odd that I write this blog about how to make things work with relationships and then I myself have the same or similar problems. I even discussed this in a recent article, the link is here for you to review: Making Any Relationship Work . I should think this  proves that even coaches need coaches.

This reality exists with us all. You see, we are the same at every level of our existence and no problem, behavior or issue is new to human kind. So yes, I have the same troubles. But my team leader was generous enough to share a perspective with me that I had not yet discovered. When I explained what I perceived to be road blocks in the discussion with my teammate, and that I would shut off the conversation at the point I thought the resistance would go to hurt feelings, he asked if this was “fore play”?

Fore play? I had never considered the context outside of the implied sexual content. His point was that we all have a style of fore play that brings us to the main act. So let ask again; What’s your style of fore play?

Fore Play in Everyday Life?

Given that the woman I was attempting to coach is a very nice, educated, hard-working adult and I could not get what I wanted. There had to be more I was missing. I gave up in the conversation and possibly didn’t provide her enough space to open up and join in the conversation because, in her mind, the fore play was not over.

What a concept! It makes my outlook on conversational resistance change 180 degrees! Is it possible that people have this need for a style and approach to conversation? YES! And to prove the theory I began a discussion and a fact finding mission. It’s not about being right, just finding a new distinction to share and create with.

My team leader went on about children. When a conversation takes place with a small child they are always eager to engage. They love the attention and the stimulation. Talking is new to them and they revel in it. Tell them to do their homework, take out the garbage, brush their teeth, go to bed, they know the end result, but does that stop them? Hell No! And here comes the fore play… Thousands of excuses, reasons why it can’t be done, asking for delays, pleading, but in the end, they just do it. Every child is different in the approach, but all children have this natural propensity to push back.

This is the set up for how engage in conversation throughout life. It doesn’t have to be bad or good, it’s just that we want to have a little massaging before we get to it. Now, knowing this gives me a new way to approach or look at how we get to the main act of life.

My team leader said he was certain that my girlfriend and I loved each other. I agreed.

He asked if there was ever a time when she would accompany me to an event that she really didn’t want to attend.

“Sure” I said, “There have been several occasions.”

“Did she argue or complain before going? And did you know she would support you in any case?” he went on.

I said, “Of course!”

“Consider this was her style of fore play”, he ended.

And It’s There Everyday

Now that I understand the reasoning and basic programing we all have about how we approach and are approached, I take the opportunity to view these “nuisances” as an availability to advance and progress the conversation. And having the distinction gives me great power in the conversation itself.

While I was writing this article, my girlfriend came into the office and asked that I hang a mirror in the bedroom. We relocated two weeks ago and both of us have been working hard to get the apartment in order. She was lucky enough to spend the pervious weekend at the beach leaving me to finish decorating and hanging pictures. So, rather than ask for a moment to finish, request that we do it another time, or just ignore her, I got up from my desk saying, “It’s not like I’m writing my article or anything important…”

Did you say, “Go brush your teeth and get ready for bed”?

And as I entered the bedroom, she asked,”Was that sarcasm I heard in your voice?”.

“Do it right now young man and no arguing!”

“No” I offered, “Just a little fore play”.

So Where Do We Go From Here?

As interesting as it is, and yet little known, this distinction can dramatically change how we react or interact with those in our lives. Just imagine the possibility of being in control of removing the fore play from the conversation and getting down to the “real thing”. Would you get more or less upset with your children? Would you be able to have a different kind of discussion with your relatives during the holiday seasons? Could you tolerate and understand the co-worker you have had issues with? The possibilities go on and on.

And now for the main act…

When she says, “I’m not in the mood”, is this her offer to begin fore play?

Don’t miss the sex because you don’t like the fore play. Relish it!

What’s that Dear? Yes, I’m almost finished…

Love with no shame and ask with no fear

Bobby

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Attitude and Gratitude

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Last week I wrote about our ability to choose how we approach life and the problems it throws our way. In the event you haven’t read it, here is the link, Lights, Action, Drama!!!!!!!!!!! . Many readers did not agree with my assessment and challenged the idea of being able to make such choices. I was told that it is not always possible to view a situation and choose how to respond. A family member actually claimed it was not possible based on how the issue was presented and our past experiences. Their point was that we don’t have control with regard to how we approach and respond to crisis and everyday problems. The belief here is that it just is what it is and getting upset is a natural and uncontrollable part of the process.

I have to call “Bullshit!” here folks. If we feel that there is no ability to control and modify our responses based on how we feel and what our past experiences are, well just shoot me now and dump me into a pine box. Life has no chance to improve over where we stand today. Why should we try to improve anything? Are you kidding me! What a crock of crap! This view point simply tells me that these folks have no interest in changing for the better and we should all accept them for the emotional messes they are.

It’s fine with me if people don’t want to look into themselves and gain control and understanding about how they interact with those in their life, but don’t tell me it’s not possible. It can be difficult, it can be overwhelming, and it can be tedious, but it certainly is not impossible. So, if you don’t want to look inside and create a space for others to join in conversation about interesting and profound topics, fine! Just gain the understanding that YOU don’t want to bring your best to the dialogue. Let the rest of us open up and see what we can achieve via the approach and context.

Proof in the Pudding

All around me I see examples of people who choose to make the difference by selecting a path that allows them to remove preconception and barriers. I find it interesting for people with absolute reasons to complain and nothing to complain about. In fact, many times these same people not only are complaint free, they bring with them a joy that appears to be boundless.

For instance, a friend of mind named Wendy has a non-curable spinal condition. When I first met her, I was in love with her vibrant personality, out-going, good nature and her sense of humor. I truly look forward to each time I get to see her. She is never boring and always a great conversationalist. Her stories captivate me. She keeps me laughing from the time we meet until we depart. She smiles and the world smiles back. In my mind, it is impossible not to be attracted to such a beautiful spirit.

But look at it from another perspective. One day I thought to myself, this woman who delights everyone around her, has every reason to be angry and bitter. She could be mean to everyone she meets and we would allow her to do so because of her condition. People could easily agree that having such a physical burden rightfully allows her to have anger and distain. But here she is without a complaint and draws love to her like a moth to a flame. Her life force is bright enough to light a city block. I realized this is the choice she makes for herself and those around her. She can get away with the other behavior, but she chooses not.

Despite her physical limitations, my friend Wendy moves through life with all the grace and dignity anyone could ever ask for and she inspires me to be a better person. Wendy, if you’re reading this, YOU ROCK!

Another example is my partner here at RLA Advisors, Jay Simcic. At the time of this article we have been living through record setting high temperatures of more than 100 degrees. During this time, Jay lost his air conditioning for 8 days. With the Independence Day Holiday there was no means to get parts faster for the repairs and pending relief. Because of work and other responsibilities, Jay and his family were unable to leave the house for more comfortable surroundings. They were forced to endure the heat in a home without AC for each of the eight days. They had friends and family offer their homes, but again life did not allow for the relocation.

As the ordeal came to an end, Jay shared with me how grateful he was. I asked him to explain. He stated that he was grateful to have friends who were willing to offer their homes, He was grateful for neighbors who called to check in every day. He was grateful to have the money to pay for the repairs. His perspective was one I had not considered, but given all things he chose to take a positive view of the bounty he has been blessed with, rather than the misery he had endured. What a great choice! And imagine the impression this choice will have on his young daughter. The impact will be priceless.

And last, after a heated discussion with my girl friend, I was able to share a profound gratitude with her. As we settled into bed that night, I explained that I was grateful that we had such a discussion. She was puzzled, so I went on to say that I was grateful that we were working on our relationship and brave enough to have the talk. I was grateful that we were talking at all and face to face. When I served over seas in the military, I and many others were unable to have face-to-face conversations with their loved ones. I was grateful to have her, there with me in bed. I know people today who have lost their spouses, parents and children, who would give any price to have them back for one more conversation. Any conversation, an argument or otherwise. So in contrast, I am pleased to choose to be grateful.

You Make It Seem So Easy…

My friends often ask if it is as easy as my writing indicate. For this I apologize. To think that behavior modification is easy is understating it at best. However, this too is a choice. You see, I was quick to anger in my younger days and those choices many times lead to disaster. I found wasted effort in making poor relationship choices with those close friends and family who were simply caught in the cross fire of misguided emotions. Hurt feelings were more difficult to repair than to protect. Regaining my integrity after an emotional out burst was not always easy. So now I make different choices and so can you.

I love the feeling of appreciation when a good conversation takes the place of what could have been a bad one. I like getting the heart of the emotion rather than bearing the searing heat of it without real benefit. I love being able to finally HEAR those around me and I do it by choice. It is nothing simple or difficult it just is there for each of us to take advantage of. Choice is one of the greatest possibilities we have in life. So choose wisely my friends.

Is it easy? You choose…

 

As always,
Love with no shame and ask with no fear.
Bobby

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Lights, Action, Drama!!!!!!!!!!

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Relationships today have taken a turn in which life represents art. I am referring to reality TV and the influences it has on our own lives. I am a huge fan of reality TV and I fault no one for watching and enjoying the carnage that takes place on such programs. Forget the Amazing Race and Survivor, I’m talking about the original day-time dirt. There is nothing better than watching a couple of strippers cat fight over a trailer trash, red-neck, hillbilly for female dominance of the Sunny Meadows RV and Trailer Park. YEE-HAAAWWWW, that’s just good old fashion fun!

I get to laughing out loud watching this kind of thing on TV. At times I find myself crying from laughter and thinking, “My life is great”. On occasions I feel as if I need a good dose of day-time trash to make me see my life as good and wholesome compared to others. But the reality of reality TV is that we see ourselves in those performing or living out their lives for all of us to view.

Don’t deny it! We have all sat in front of the idiot box and thought, “We should talk to my in-laws about going on that show”, or “That reminds me of our last Thanksgiving dinner”. We all know someone, some where who would fit right into the current top-of-the-morning “Talk Show”. There is no reason to be embarrassed by it or them, it’s just the way families are. We are all dysfunctional to a certain degree, but we can choose to act upon it or take a different path.

The Set Up…

Going through our daily lives and relationships with those around us, we encounter issues and problems of all kinds. Disagreements, arguments, confrontations, they are with us or part of us every day. And we get to choose how we approach and deal with these every day occurrences. Let me say that again, every day occurrences.

You may make a case that there are days when we don’t have issues and problems. Well, perhaps so, but again that is a choice. But consider that every occurrence in life is presented to us with a choice of how we will behave. In other words, regardless of the situation, we get to choose what happens by how we act upon the issue. What’s that? You don’t believe it? Let’s look at an example…

Johnny and Peg are a married couple. Johnny pays the bills as is their agreement. While paying the monthly cell phone statement, Johnny logs on to view the bill via the web in an effort to find a possible reduction in price based on the couples total usage. He discovers three calls from Peg’s phone to his best friend Tom. All were placed last Friday evening while Johnny was at a company dinner function. The total time for the three calls was more than 90 minutes!

Johnny feels he must address this with Peg immediately. He gathers the phone bill and storms into the kitchen to find Peg.

Cue music. Camera pans from left to right. Camera pulls back for a full view of the audience pounding their fists in the air to a chant of, “Jerry, Jerry, Jerry…”  Enter Jerry, announcing, “And on todays show we have Johnny who is here to confront his wife Peg about her recently discovered infidelity” The audience screams their disapproval. What a great show! Let’s get a front row seat! Johnny has chosen the reality TV approach. This should be good!

OR

Johnny and Peg are a married couple. Johnny pays the bills as is their agreement. While paying the monthly cell phone statement, Johnny logs on to view the bill via the web in an effort to find a possible reduction in price based on the couples total usage. He discovers three calls from Peg’s phone to his best friend Tom. All were placed last Friday evening while Johnny was at a company dinner function. The total time for the three calls was more than 90 minutes.

Johnny feels he must address this with Peg, if only for his curiosity and peace of mind. Over dinner when he asks, Peg reminds him that Lisa, Tom’s wife, had visited that evening after she and Tom had argued. Lisa left her apartment upset and without her phone. Once she was clam she called to talk to Tom and borrowed Pegs cell phone. They worked it out and Lisa was back at home happy later that night. Boring, I know, but Johnny is in control of choosing and the out come will be very different based on his choice.

The Final Act

As I said, these issue are there for us each and every day. Many pass us by without notice and others are thrust upon us to be dealt with in the rudest fashion possible. Either way, we get to choose how we take on the situation. Tell me I am not performing well enough at work. I can call the boss an asshole or ask what is missing that would benefit both of us. When the car breaks down, I can complain about it or deal with the repairs. Either way I have to get it fixed. Find a strange entry on the cell phone bill and get upset or inquire as to why.

Each time I get to choose and be in control and powerful with the choice. I have what it takes to keep the conversation moving forward and in a positive direction. If it is true that Peg is cheating on Johnny, does he need an audience and a talk show host to know how to handle it? I should think not.

Give the benefit of conversation to those around you. Let them be part of the engaging dialogue and offer them the opportunity to get open and honest with you. In return you can be in control by providing the space for such conversation. Many people don’t know how to get to this point but that, in and of itself, could make for a great conversation with someone you love. Embrace the idea of conversational intercourse. It can be extremely stimulating.

That’s it for now. I have to run off to find out if Marty, Sean, Terry or Bubba is Betty Lou’s baby daddy. The DNA results are in! And the hits just keep on rollin’.

 

As always,
Love with no shame and ask with no fear.
Bobby

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Making Any Relationship Work

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Recently, I was asked what the key is to making a relationship work. Those of you who read my articles know that I am a huge fan of communication. I love to engage in meaningful conversation, with friends, family and, of course, my lover. Conversation brings meaning to everything, without it, we have no method of relating or conveying thoughts, ideas or feelings.

I even enjoy conversation about things I don’t like. My friends and I discuss political views and I listen and engage. I have dialog with others regarding differences of religious views and beliefs. I will open a talk about food, working out, music, movies, social programs, gas prices anything, as long as it is meaningful and everyone gets something from the interaction. I don’t like all these subjects, but I love the conversation. I find it mentally stimulating and valuable information in order to truly know others.

It has been said that we should never talk about politics or religion. I would suggest, that a person not able to remove themselves from the emotions attached should not have those conversations. Some of the best interactions I have are with people of differing view points. Why would we only want to engage with like minded people? If everyone is thinking the same thing, 50% of the people are not thinking. So talking with those who don’t agree with our opinion is just that, talking. Listen, engage and have fun.

But, what is really the key to a good relationship? If conversation was all there was, we would be in perfect relational status. With 24 hours news, cable TV and the internet, we talk or get talked to, all the time. So, conversation is only a means of developing and maintaining our relationships, not necessarily the key to success. Not only did I want to provide an answer to my reader, I wanted the answer for myself. What is the key?

Reaching Out Through Technology

In today’s world of distance and technology, it’s been stated that relationships have changed. I would argue, that we have changed as people and how we interact with one another. We have a litany of medias barraging us from the moment we wake up to the minute we go back to sleep. Television, radio, email, internet, social media, cell phones, texting, we have a constant flow of information blasting our senses every waking moment. I myself will have the TV on while I check my emails. I can do both and I like it. But it has changed us not as people, but in the way we interact.

With information flowing into us from everywhere at all times, it is natural for us to filter what we hear and how we hear it. It used to be called selective hearing by married couples. We have the ability to hear what we want when we want to. And with the amount of “stuff” being thrown at us, it stands to reason that we will miss things or just refuse to hear them. It’s not our fault, it is the way of our current world.

Children have adapted faster than many adults, as they don’t see most technology as new. It was here when they arrived on the planet and they simply just use it. Us, more mature folks, have had to adapt and that may mean that we miss things from time to time. We have changed the way we interact, we have more stimuli than ever before and we have technology creating a physical gap between us.

It’s not wrong, it’s just how it is.

We live in a world where it is increasingly difficult to have solid successful relationships. So, What is the key?

Where is Your Hat?

Yeah, where is your hat? That’s right? Here is the key…

When it comes to making a relationship work, I would ask this simple question. For me the answer is easy. Take a look at you and your relationship, if you want the best out of it then get committed to it. Put your hat in the ring. If your hat is on a hook somewhere else then you are not focused here. If your hat is in another ring, then your are committed to something else. The key to making any relationship work is throwing your hat in the ring and committing to it. Communication gets all of the moving parts put in the proper places, but if you’re distracted by all the background noise we suffer with daily, are you really listening? Is your hat in the ring or tilted slightly on your head? Relationships work well and they work best when we commit to them. And although it takes a little work, the benefits are enormous!

And this works for any and all relationships. Take a child for instance, when we tune out all the noise and listen just to them, it becomes their entire world. And in return the child will listen back. They become engaged and want to interact. It is beautiful to watch.

I enjoy the exchanges I have with my friends and family. I treasure dialogue with my lover. If I were to become distracted, what benefit is there for any of us? The key to making any relationship work is taking the time to disengage from all of the garbage infecting our senses and just listen to the one we want to hear from. Put your hat in that ring!

We have an easy excuse given the massive informational input we have each day. It becomes common to say, “I forgot”, “I didn’t hear you say that”, or “What?” but if you want the relationship to really work, commit and throw your hat into the ring. Take the time to listen and hear what’s there for each of you. Not all conversation is fun and not all is worth having, but you only get to decide when you open yourself to the possibility of good dialogue.

So there is the key as I see it. Don’t miss the chance for your child to explain they are unhappy, it may prevent additional issues. Don’t miss the chance to help a friend with a problem, you may have the same one later. Don’t miss the chance to hear about a religious belief, you may discover God. And never miss the opportunity for some to tell you that they love you.

Every time it comes to your relationships, my advice is to throw you hat into the ring.

 

Love with no shame and ask with no fear

Bobby

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