Lisa A. Kramer

Author, Speaker, Theater Artist, Creativity Facilitator

Life On My Own Terms: A Personal Manifesto

Do you ever feel like you can't win for losing? Do you ever feel like you are lacking, in some significant way, the Je ne sais quois that will allow you into the winner's circle . . . that you are destined to stand on the outside forever, toes just dipping over the line?

Sometimes those feelings overwhelm me.

This has been a difficult summer for me. One where I faced  some painful realizations about myself, my goals in life, my dreams, my morals, my relationships with others, and the way the world functions when you aren't willing to compromise everything and hurt others just to get ahead.

Basically, if you aren't willing to play a vicious game then you have to accept the reality that you will never be completely in the winners circle.

But . . . and this is an important BUT . . . you can redefine that winners circle for yourself, and perhaps that is the thing you need to do.

Anyone who has been following me for the past year and a half or so will know that I have been trying to embrace the motto

Life on My Own Terms!!!!!

To some extent, embracing this motto has made wonderful things happen. I've shifted, changed, and grown. I've achieved things I never fully believed possible. I've made steps toward becoming the person I want to be.

Except where I haven't changed . . . where I've let the naysayers win . . . where I've let other people's definition of success weigh me down and make me feel like I've failed.

At everything.

I can't do this to myself anymore. I can't let myself become my own self-defeating prophecy because I keep trying to play the game by rules which nobody else follows.  I can't hate myself because of other people's perceptions of me.  I can't . . . and I won't.

But in order to fully change, it's time for me to lay down some guidelines for myself. It's time to me to define what it really means to live life on my own terms.

And I can't keep it hidden. I need to establish the guidelines and let other people know so they can help me when I slip. They can remind me of my goals. I don't have to do this alone

So here goes:

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  • Live Life in Full Color! Life is meant to be experienced, not to hide from. I am tired of being shy, hiding in a corner, not doing things because I might be judged. I was meant to wear bright colors, smile, dance, sing, and experience the world in silly and wonderful ways.
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  • All Dreams Have Value! Sometimes it feels like the only dreams worth dreaming are the ones that bring you fame, fortune, and recognition. Those are also the hardest to achieve. Wouldn't we all be happier if we found the joy in living out smaller dreams, and celebrating those accomplishments as well?
  • Be Kind Even When Nobody Else Is.  One thing that was painfully reinforced for me this summer was that nice people get stomped on, used, and abused. I have the bruises to show it. However, I refuse to succumb and become one of those people who care more about themselves than others. Maybe this will keep me down, but at least I will feel like I have done something good once in a while.
  • Do Good Work--But Only Work that Brings you Joy! Okay, sometimes we all have to do jobs that are mundane or frustrating. I will still have to do those too, and I will always strive to do my best, but I don't have to take on work that never moves me closer to joy. Doing a job because it ultimately brings you closer to your goals is one thing; doing one that only helps someone else achieve his goals and keeps you down is something else.  This is directly related to . . .
  • No is not a bad word. I need to say it more often.
  • Close Friends Mean More than Popularity. I am lonely. There, I've said it. I'm lonely because I have a hard time connecting with people. I have a hard time trusting. I try too hard to fit in, and not hard enough to find those people where I don't have to try so hard. That is my goal now. All I really need is one good friend.
  • Money Does Not Define Success! Would I like to be able to stop worrying about money? Sure. Would I like to be able to travel, shop, and do things without worry? Sure. Would I love to get a big pay check for some work I do? Of course. But, even if those things never happen, I am not defined by my bank account, and I'm okay with that. This leads to one more important thing for this manifesto:

Enough said.

Have I missed anything? Do I need to add anything to my manifesto?