Do you really Need that New Shiny Thing?

The modern obsession is about things. The best car, computer, house, cell phone plan….you name it, we want the best. Why is that? Why can’t we be happy with the nice things that might not be the most expensive?

Why do we have to live with so much stuff?

I am always amazed when I hear stories of people who wake up one day and quit their job to follow their passion. Like the corporate businessman who wants to grow coffee and sell it at a corner shop. The doctor who sails halfway around the world to treat sick kids in some dusty country and lives in a hut.

Why is this idea of doing what we love, doing what our heart desires so difficult? Why is that leap of faith so scary?

Photo by Leo Rivas on Unsplash

It is the obsession with having the best things. The uncertainty of what will we do when we can’t afford them anymore terrifies people.

Don’t be fooled when you hear stories of people taking the leap into their dream life, don’t be impressed. Somewhere in the story, the truth comes out. Something like, the person has multi-million dollars and can afford to just wake up and change their life.

What about the rest of us? How can we leap and not be afraid of what would happen?

I don’t have all the answers but I am at the point in my life where I am willing to try it, to leap, and see what happens. I really don’t have a plan. I know what I want to do in my life and I think that the answer is small steps leading up to the leap. I am taking baby steps to the edge of the cliff then I am going to jump.

I am so over this modern obsession to want and have. I want a simple life, a God-filled life.

These things we think that we can’t live without cloud our minds and make it difficult to see God. We are spending hours looking into the apps of our cell phones, driving our fine cars, staring at some lit-up screen of the latest techno gadget instead of looking for what God is doing in our lives and where He is sending us.

Would it be so bad to jump and let God work out the rest?

~Lori O’Gara

Thank you for your time. You can see more of my writing here or sign up for the O’Gara Inner Circle here

Motherhood, Round Two

The challenges of being a mother of teens when you are close to retirement are beautifully terrifying.

Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash

I am a second time around mom. I have a grown daughter and I been a stepmom too. Four years ago I married a man who waited until his mid-thirties to have children. He has three daughters who I adopted.

I went from an empty nest when the two oldest girls flew the coop to a full nest of teenage girls overnight. I thought I was finished raising children.

My girls are ages 16, 14, 13 and 33. I also have a grown stepdaughter now 34 years old who I had a part in raising. That is a total of five girls.

Being a mother today is not easy. There is no greater joy and no deeper fear. I am scared of screwing them up in big ways that will affect them for life. I am constantly thinking, “What if I do this parenting thing wrong?” All I can do is my best with what I have and hope they come out on the other side relatively unscathed. Raising girls is weird, terrifying, and entertaining.

Mothers of teenage girls must nerve of steel.

There is a trend now of older parents. Mostly because careers are put forward first. We, older mothers, have raised the Manilials that education and career are top priority and then have children if you want them. When I was a young adult and mom the opposite was true. Women were expected to have a career and children. The sigma of the working mom was prevalent.

The world is a completely different place. What worked when raising the first set of daughters, will not always work for teenagers now. Life is not the same. I often feel overwhelmed, outsmarted, and outnumbered by our girls. I decided that I needed a shift in parenting style very early on in this adventure from a punishment system to a reward-based parenting plan.

The premise is simple, the girls have the freedom to do the right thing or not. They have to live with the consequences of their decisions. Good or bad.

We discussed the house rules as a family. They had input in creating the rules. They know what they are supposed to do and what the house rules are. They have the freedom to make the decision to follow the house rules or not. They have to live with the consequences of their decisions. Good or bad.

They flourish in the freedom to make choices. They will ask for help when they need help. They will confide in me when they want to talk or need advice. They will come forward and seek amnesty when they have broken the rules. One of the best things is they value having sisters. When they need to, they depend on each other and work together to find a solution. I like that a lot.

Some challenges are the same.

Both generations of daughters have some things in common. Messy bedrooms are still a thing. Teen girls are slobs one day and neat freaks the next, but wait, no they are slobs again. They love showers. They hate showers. They want to have all their stuff in drawers and on shelves. Then everything they own is on the floor again. They will wear the same hoodie for a month if I don’t insist they peel it off and wash it. I have decided that there are some battles I will not fight. Showers, yes. Neatly folded clothes and underwear, not so much. I have grown accustomed to closing the doors to their bedrooms, walking away, and not looking back.

Most teenagers have their own language and slang. My girls are no different. They have taught me new interesting vocabulary. One of my girls has taken to saying, “Yeet” all the time and “They have he-ed their last haw.” Which I thought was a reference to the old television show Hee-Haw, I was wrong. It took me forever to realize when they said “Gucci” they were not talking about a purse.

Friendships are Different

Social interactions are very different from what I remember. I remember a house full of girls laughing at all hours of the day and night. Gone are the days of knowing all their friends by who comes in and out of my kitchen.

There are still girls hanging out on my sofa, but more likely it is with a screen in their hands. I find myself asking a lot, “Have I met that friend?” Often to hear, “No she lives in Bulgaria” or some other far off place. I insist that my girls do not reveal where they are from, and that they practice all the internet safe things. Still, I can’t stop them from meeting new people without banning the girls from social media altogether. I monitor their screen use with parenting apps. I insist on proof that the person they are talking to is indeed a teenage boy or girl. That’s not always easy.

Life isn’t always pink or blue.

Speaking of boys and girls, I have learned not to get uptight about the gender fluidness of their appearance. They sometimes dress in boys’ clothing, down to the boxer shorts under their pants. Then before I get used to that, I am taking them to try on fancy prom dresses for a school dance. They have had long hair, purple hair, and no hair when they shaved their heads. I let them be who they want to be as long as they are not being disrespectful to themselves or others. The girls know I do not want to see breasts hanging out or pants that leave little to the imagination. Hair will grow back and clothing styles change. They will eventually figure out their own style. I sort of miss my house smelling like a nail salon and finding glitter all over the furniture.

Our home is full of their freestyle happiness.

One of my favorite things about my girls is that they are not afraid to display happiness in a big way. Have you ever seen a kitchen or bed top dance party? Music on the highest volume imaginable with arms and legs waving all over the place. Sometimes the parties are planned but most of the time they are spontaneous. However, in the case of a bed top dance party, the girls are bouncing and bobbing standing on my bed while I am frantically watching that their heads aren’t getting decapitated by the ceiling fan.

Yes, my younger girls are being raised completely differently than how I raised my other girls in the 80s. I have come to realize that though things are different, teenage girls still need the same things. They need copious amounts of love and understanding. They need me to be quiet and listen when they need to talk. They need me to help them when they do not know what the need. They need me to give them the space to be themselves.

And to think, I almost settled for a quiet retirement.

~Lori O’Gara

Thank you for your time. You can see more of my writing here or sign up for the O’Gara Inner Circle here

The Five Rules of Social Media

Social media is pseudo-social. It is humans through filters of ego or lack thereof attempting to connect with others for self-gain, commiseration, or validation. By remembering that fact and following a few simple rules, your online persona and your human decency will stay intact.

Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

First Rule of Social Media

Don’t take anything personally. Not all posts are for or about you.

It is very difficult not to take words seriously. When reading a negative post on social media it takes a fraction of a second for your emotions to kick in. Just stop for the briefest of seconds to realize what is happening. What triggered your response?

Only you can make you angry. Think about that. Who holds the power over your emotions?

You can’t control other people’s actions; however, you can control your response to what others do. Most posts are not directed to a person. When they are directed to a person, that person should be named. If someone is dealing with a relationship, positively or negatively, by posting indirectly on social media, it is all about that person’s inability to deal with conflict or issues correctly. Unfortunately, social media is a place where passive-aggressive personalities thrive.

Do not take posts personally.

Don’t let your emotions be sucked up in someone else’s passive-aggressive mess and above all never respond without taking a moment to asses the situation. Anger posting can cause many regrets.

Close the app and remove yourself for a minute. Only respond after giving it some thought.

Second Rule of Social Media

If you won’t stand up in church or in front of your Grandma and say it out loud, don’t post it on social media.

Look, just because you can say it or post it does not mean you should. Consider your audience and your reputation. One wrong post can undo years of trust-building. Have some dignity and respect for yourself.

Now the flip side of that is if the profane image or word is the strongest you can think of and the message you want to convey needs a strong catalyst, use it. However, do some research and find a better word or image for the next time. Make it a rare occurrence if you post a swear word or vulgar photo on social media.

Do not disrespect yourself unnecessarily. No humor, anger, or vulgarity is worth your self-respect.

Third Rule of Social Media

Social media is not real life. Look around you, those people you see are real, the world is real, and you are not a meme.

Do not get so absorbed in the world of social media that you ignore the living breathing people in your life. Right now our real-life social structures are fragile. I get it. Social media and online tools are how most of us are connecting with humans outside of our homes right now. Social distancing and quarantine aside, life is better experienced than looked at on a screen.

When you see a meme and think, oh my goodness, that is me. No, it is not. It is a thought that you can relate to, but it is not who you are. You are a human with original thoughts, emotions, and physical presence. You live in a world of unlimited beauty and life.

Leave the apps behind for real interactions and for now, at a safe distance.

Fourth Rule of Social Media

Love does not come from a screen, it comes from real people.

Yes, you got more likes, views, hugs, claps, stars, or comments today! That is great! You may think that people love you. No, they love your words, humor, and ideas.

Do not tie so much of your emotions up in the arbitrary stats of virtual rewards. What do your online “friends” really know about you? They know what you have shown them.

I like to say I am completely transparent. For me what you see is what you get.

Even transparency only goes so far. It is still the public me that you see and not the intimate me my husband and family see. That is where my love lives in that realm of reality and so should yours.

What your online friends like or love is what you post. You are not what you post. See rule number three.

Fifth Rule of social Media

Don’t assume, especially emotions. You can’t read minds.

Don’t try to read feelings into what others post. Maybe they are really angry, maybe they aren’t. Maybe they want to spur an uprising, maybe they don’t. Maybe they are depressed, maybe they just like pictures of rainstorms with serious quotes. Do not assume. Take what you read and see under great scrutiny.

You are not a mind reader.

Even if you think the words portray what the human who posted it is feeling you may still be completely wrong.

When in doubt, ask them what they meant by the post. Do not get upset without clarification. See rule number one.

These five simple rules will keep you from embarrassing yourself with a badly worded reply, keep your emotions balanced while navigating social media and protect your reputation.

Use social media responsibly. It is an amazing tool for promoting your work. However, look for sincere commiseration or validation in the real world.

~Lori O’Gara

Thank you for your time. You can see more of my writing here or sign up for the O’Gara Inner Circle here

The Lingering Damage of Drug Abuse

A mother and daughter’s memories of an abusive past haunt their adult relationship.

Photo by Matt Hoffman on Unsplash

My marriage to an addict lasted twenty-four years. Many factors go into a marriage. As my mom says, “Takes two to make it or break it.”

My marriage broke and so did I.

It took years of healing to realize just how broken I was. Even with the residue of mental and emotional abuse, I still grieve.

Not because of the loss of a marriage, but a larger, more significant loss. The change of a relationship between myself and my grown daughter. The loss of something I can’t quite put my hands on.

She saw things differently.

Perception is a fickle thing and memory is not always honest. Perception is reality. Everyone sees the past through the lens of their feelings and only from their point of view. This is compounded when there is some sort of drug abuse involved. I can’t tell you what the people in my life were feeling and thinking. I can only tell you what I saw and felt.

My grown daughter will tell you she had an amazing childhood. In a lot of ways she did. She also had a drug-addicted dad and for a long time, she didn’t know it. Her perception was different from mine; as a result, her reality was different.

She will say Mom isn’t telling it right.

My daughter will tell you I am wrong and things happened differently. She will say that I am not telling you the truth. Some things she will blame entirely on me. She will say that I was part of the problem and she will be correct. I wish I had done a few things in my control differently. I have to remember she didn’t live the adult struggle, I did. She was the child; I was the adult.

I did the best I could at the time. I fought every day to protect her from the ugliness of it. Maybe the things she never saw, the things I kept from her in the vain of protecting her was my biggest mistake. Maybe I should have allowed her to experience more of it. Maybe it would have changed her perception as she looks back now as an adult.

She remembers mostly happy times.

The happy days my daughter remembers. I am thankful for that. How much of the bad days and verbal abuse does she really remember, I have no clue.

Maybe she blocked some of it out in her own attempt to deal with the neurotic and often toxic life we led. She will say that he was an alcoholic who stopped drinking for his health. Which is true, he did. He traded drinking a case of beer and occasional joint for unknown amounts of marijuana every day. Eventually, he moved on to add pills like oxycontin that he got legally with prescriptions for the health conditions that he stopped drinking for in the first place. None of that she knew about until she was an adult.

Now she doubts me and trusts him.

She heard him accuse me of being a liar, which I was. It was easier to lie than to deal with his irrational anger. I was a barrier between her and his abuse. He yelled and I distracted her. He threw things and cursed, I sent her out to play.

I blamed all his erratic behavior on his illness. I made the beguine issues bigger than they were to distract her from his behavior. “Daddy doesn’t feel good today,” I would say. I was scared for our children to discover just how close they came to being physically hurt when he was high or drunk.

“She is fine,” I said to her when her stepsister was slung into the floorboard of a truck because he ran a red light while intoxicated and high. It was me who shielded them from his anger only to hear him scream at them anyway. It was me who cried when he punched and kicked our dog because he was mad about who knows what. It was me who then lied to my daughter and stepdaughter about what actually happened. Lying became normal and “Don’t tell dad” became my mantra.

She was taught that manipulation equaled love.

He made a big deal out of doing nice things for us, just to throw it back at us when he was using. “Look at all I do for you. I love you, see what I do for you? See the money I give you. See the food I cook and the clean house I keep for you.”

He would stay up all night for days high on oxycontin pills that he snorted up his nose instead of swallowing which caused him to have obsessive behaviors like sweeping and mopping the floor repeatedly. He said often, “What I do does not affect you.”

He called the girls and me worthless, sorry cunts, lazy, and any other foul names he could think up. Then we were loved and called important, “See what I do for you. I love you.” It was like riding on the pendulum of Big Ben. His moods swung from one side to the other fast and often. This claim of taking good care of us translated when regurgitated out of the voice of my grown daughter sounds like this, “Dad kept the house and took care of you so you could work and go to school. You never appreciated it.” Maybe she has forgotten his other words.

She experienced a broken family, more than once.

My stepdaughter finally had enough and stopped coming for visits. When she got married, she asked her stepfather to walk her down the aisle. Her dad blamed her. He called his daughter an ungrateful bitch. He was heartbroken that she had abandoned him, yet he continued to abuse drugs.

My daughter grew into a normal teenager with a smart mouth and an I-know-everything attitude. She did what a lot of girls do. She wanted to stay out late, sleep in, and not keep her room clean. She made good grades, but he didn’t care, she was never good enough. He pushed her away with his screaming. He called her a stupid ungrateful bitch as well.

Eventually, he had enough of her attitude and threw her out of the house. She has forgotten how much she cried over the things that got destroyed lying in the grass in the rainstorm that day. She says now it was tough love and the best thing to ever happen to her because she learned how to stand on her own two feet. What I saw was my unprepared for life daughter being tossed out homeless. I stood by and let it happen. I made excuses for his behavior, again.

She blames me.

After she left home I did not tell her what happened until it was too late. I kept silent about the escalation of his verbal abuse. I continued to protect her. He continued to abuse drugs and his obsessive behavior increased. He insisted on telling all his friends and family that he was doing everything for me and that he loved me. All the while ignoring me. He had not shown me any sort of affection in years and yet, I was “the love of his life” to everyone else.

I refused to get in a car with him if he drove. I eventually refused to stop going out in public with him completely after he passed out stoned with his face planted in a plate of spaghetti at a restaurant.

I finally decided to leave him, but my leaving was manipulated by his drug abuse too.

One morning at 2:30 am, he was awake in one of his frantic episodes. He saw a text on my phone from a friend about the weather. He woke me up screaming in my face and accused me of having an affair, yet again. He yelled at me to get out of his house. Instead of telling him that he couldn’t throw me out, I lived there too, and go back to bed as I had done many times before, I quietly put clothes in my car and left in my pajamas.

I was numb. I had no hate, no love, I had nothing left.

Even after losing a daughter and a wife, he continued to use drugs.

Yet, to my adult daughter, the divorce was mostly my fault. I did not give him the “one more chance” he begged for. I tried to explain my side of what happened and my hurt to her, but by then it was too late. She did not believe me.

We are still broken.

It has been years now and something is still broken between us. I don’t know what it is or how to fix it. Her past is different from mine even though it was a shared past.

One day she will understand what happened to me and what happened to herself, or she won’t. She will forgive me for my shortcomings or she won’t. I can’t control that. All I can do is love her.

~Lori O’Gara

Thank you for your time. You can see more of my writing here or sign up for the O’Gara Inner Circle here

Before Easter

Photo by Mads Schmidt Rasmussen on Unsplash

The day before Jesus was crucified, he observed Passover with the disciples. Passover is the time that Jews remembered their freedom and exodus from Egypt. Jesus told his disciples that the bread symbolized his body that would be broken and the wine, his blood, which would be poured out for the forgiveness of sins.

As Jesus explained the symbolism of the wine and bread he told them that he was to be sacrificed for them. He was the lamb to be slain that Passover. Jesus told them about the meal too, “Do this in remembrance of me”. He did not say when or how often. He commanded that they remember his sacrifice. That night around that table, the disciples did not fully understand what was coming. At the end of every meal, there is a mess to be cleaned and someone has to clean it up. (Matthew 26:17–30)

Jesus was arrested after the Passover meal while he was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was then taken before the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate, for trial. Shortly after Jesus was crucified, all the disciples were killed too.

As I think about what this means for me today in the year 2020, I am struck by how many people who claim to be Christians don’t take communion or take it once a year at Easter. Did you know that you do not have to go to church to have communion? The disciples met in an upper room of a house and in secret. We do not have to meet in secret to remember the Passover and have communion. We, Americans, have the freedom of religion, for now, that allows us the right to serve God how we choose.

Not all our friends are so lucky.

~Lori O’Gara

Thank you for your time. You can see more of my writing here, including this piece.

P.S. If you send me a letter I will write you one back.

The Truth About Easter

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Easter is all bunnies and eggs. It is about the laughter of children and spring warmth. If you want to believe all that, it’s fine by me. However, there is a sinister and dark side of Easter.

If you strip easter of all the trappings except the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection, Easter is beautifully horrific.

At the age of thirty-three, Jesus was condemned to death. At the time crucifixion was the harshest of executions. Only the most heinous criminals were sentenced to be crucified. Jesus was no criminal. He was a threat to the status quo, a radical preacher and a homeless drifter.

Before being nailed to the wooden beam he was beaten with a tool called a scourge. It was a handle with small pieces of metal or bone at the tips of leather strips that pulled the flash from his back and face as he was struck with it forty times less one. Then a crown of thorns was pushed onto his head that cut deeply into his scalp. He was forced to walk over two miles in his humiliation, blood dripping, while the crowd spat in his face and threw stones at him, as he carried the wooden crossbeam.

Beaten and wounded he walked. Falling three times. His mother was forced to watch him suffer. His followers, those who loved him and those who believed him watched, cried and helplessly followed.

At the hill where the cross stood, scattered with skulls and bones from previous executions, there stood at least three poles. Jesus was nailed between two. The nails, long about six inches were driven into his wrists through to the cross beam, not into the palms as seen in most paintings and movies. The tendon in the wrist extends up and over to the shoulder. When the nails were hammered into his wrists the tendons tore. Then his feet were nailed together, one over the other with one long nail. Because of the broken tendon in his wrists and the nail in his foot, he had to use his back strength and legs to support his weight. Just to breathe caused pain in his back and legs.

Jesus hung there for three hours and at some point, his blood stopped pouring. Maybe it clotted or just simply ran out. A spear was thrust into his side to see if he had died and water poured out of him.

The earth shook, the sky went black and the veil in the temple ripped in two.

That day the world changed.

I want to be like the ones who say that Jesus’ body was an illusion; however, something in my soul tells me that is a lie created by weak humans who can’t understand the suffering of the divine.

Death was not the end.

Three days later, the tomb where they placed him was empty.

There is some debate about the details of that day. It matters not. The only thing that matters is the man called Jesus died and rose again to ascend to heaven. Jesus claimed to be the son of God, the Messiah, the Lamb to save us.

Our hope as Christians is that his life was as written. His death and his resurrection is the truth. That we have a life waiting for us on the other side of all this suffering.

You can believe how you choose. It is not my place to judge.

I choose to believe in Jesus.

~Lori O’Gara

Thank you for your time. You can see more of my writing here.

P.S. If you send me a letter I will write you one back.

We Want Normal Back

but how much do we really want?

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

We humans have been shaken up. This is the first crisis of significant magnitude that many adults have seen. Others, like me, who are a bit older have seen other devastating events. In all the past chaos that I can remember living through there was an enemy or somewhere to place the blame for the event.

Covid-19 is a completely, utterly different type of stress inducer and the clear enemy is ourselves.

We have been told that our family, friends, and neighbors must be avoided. We can’t go hang out at the restaurants, movies, bars, clubs, civic group houses or other places that are usually filled with our tribe, our people. We can’t go to school. Some people can’t go to work. There are no play dates for stay at home moms to take littles. There is little in the way entertainment. Even the way we worship and tend to our spirituality has changed. There is no escaping the mandate of stay home. Most of us are doing as instructed.

We are all terrified of the invisible enemy, so we comply.

Mental stress caused by this event is unlike any I have experienced. I miss my friends. I am scared for my family. I am doing all I can to protect them but what if it is not enough. Normally I am a deep and easy sleeper. If my house fell down all around my bed, I would sleep through it, not now. I find myself depressed with no real reason. Sometimes I am just not right to the point I want to cry.

I know I am not the only one feeling this weird vibe.

Then there is the change in how we communicate from a distance. What I have noticed is the moment we were told to stop physically interacting is when humans started to interact. I don’t see faces looking down at screens when standing six or more feet apart in the store to pick up groceries. People are smiling and talking. They are socializing where before they did not. Before it was an occasional hello, not now. Everyone smiles and says hello. It was a bit creepy at first.

Now, people are outside in the sunshine. I am one of the blessed few who is still going to work. When I drive in and out of my neighborhood, people wave and nod. I see more humans out walking and on bicycles than before we were told to stay put. Some of the same people who in the past have ignored me are now waving. Most houses look fabulous outside with manicured flower beds and trimmed lawns. It is strange that in a time when we are more dependant and hyperfocused on technology, that our first instinct was to rush out in nature and spend time in the sun.

What’s more, people are using technology to conduct virtual face to face meetings. Now technology is our lifeline. People who do not like technology are learning how to see their colleagues and family through the screens. Humans are using technology to socialize differently than before. Yes, they are still using messaging and social media, but now I see more Facebook Live notifications. Seems everyone is giving their friends a glimpse into their day to day lives.

Curious and curiouser, Alice. I am not sure what is happening. Did I fall into that rabbit hole?

Could it be that social distancing has forced us to realize what we could lose by living so much of our life in the virtual realm? Has social distancing caused us to crave being more social?

Here is the big question, how much normal do we really want back?

For those of us who remember life after 9/11, this feeling of connection, of unity as a nation stuck around for a long time. Then one-day without knowing when it happened, the intense patriotism was gone. We started ignoring each other. We became skeptical of government and life took on a new us and them mantra.

The sense of the individual is slowly peeling away as we have come to realize that only as a whole can we eliminate the risk. It takes all Americans doing their part for us to survive this. We have to trust that our neighbors, coworkers, fellow shoppers are all doing the same things, taking the same precautions.

I will be interested to see how this plays out for us. I hope that we as a society keep on this path of wanting more time with our loved ones. I hope we continue to explore other options for living. I hope this human determination to survive and to connect in person even across dividing factors remains after we are allowed to get back to normal.

Right now in the midst of this crisis, I feel like it is the calm before the storm. I have this weird vibe that I can’t shake. Like something worse is on the horizon. I hope what I am feeling is wrong.

~Lori O’Gara

Thank you for your time. You can see more of my writing here or sign up for the O’Gara Inner Circle here

Morning Philosophy, Anyone?

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

Early morning, every morning, I want to lay in bed, snuggle my husband, and just let love pass between us. I am in no hurry to move more than just what it takes to get closer to him. Almost every morning, I have an internal argument with myself as to why I really do need to get up and go to work. Every day the fact I need money is a less convincing argument. Yet, still, I get up and make myself be a responsible adult.

Today my husband sprung a deep intense philosophical idea on me before Alexa ordered me to “Get up, get coffee, go to work.”

He said, “Love is the epitome of faith.”

Wait…What? Love exists without faith, my sleepy brain replied. I can love someone and not care if they love me back, right? I do not need them to believe that I love them to completely know that I indeed do love them. Stop talking and kiss me.

Then it hit me…he is right.

The love between two committed humans is the epitome of faith.

I love my husband. I compare the thought of losing him to having someone cut off my arm. Our love is intense and sturdy. I know in my deepest heart that he loves me too, but how can I really know?

The truth is, I can’t know for sure. I have to have faith that he loves me.

I have to trust or have faith as it were, in his words and actions. He always treats me with respect. He approaches me with compassion. I have no reason to suspect or doubt that he loves me, therefore I have faith that he does truly love me. Also, in as much as I know how deeply I love him, he has to have faith that I am telling the truth. This love and faith connection is why time together, respecting each other, always being honest and being free with affection is so important.

This co-faith in each other is where love exists.

Yes, this is too deep a thought before coffee. *snuggles down in the blanket*

Good Day,

~Lori O’Gara

Thank you for your time. You can see more of my writing here.

P.S. If you send me a letter I will write you one back.

How to Affair Proof Your Marriage

and it is easier than you realize.

Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash

I have read so many articles claiming how difficult it is to be married and how much work it is to stay committed. I have read that there is no such thing as an infallible marriage. They are correct; however, I can tell you that it is possible to affair-proof your relationship if you want to do what it takes to make it so.

Affairs do not just happen to people. Monogamy is a choice.

How am I qualified to give advice on marriage? I am not a relationship coach. I am not a psychologist or a marriage counselor. I am a three-time divorced woman. I have been the cheater and the one cheated on. I know exactly how to do marriage wrong. It took years for me to finally get it right. I now have a near-perfect marriage and it is easy.

What does it take to have one of these easy, near-perfect marriages?

I have discovered through much heartache that to have a happy marriage it takes four components. Like a car that will not start without all, it’s parts, an affair proof marriage has to have these four things to work.

Time, affection, respect, and honesty are the four essential parts of an affair-proof marriage.

You as a couple must decide together that you will not settle for any less than those four things. Then, together, take steps to make those things happen every single day of your married life. It will not work if you only make time to have a date night once a month. It will not work if you only kiss your spouse goodbye as you rush out the door to work. It will not work if you only use polite manners when it suits you and it will certainly not work if you only tell the truth only when it benefits your personal agenda. It takes thought and consideration but making time, affection, respect, and honesty a priority does not feel like work if you want to stay married and if you truly love your spouse. It takes both of you. If your spouse is not willing to do these things with you, your marriage is already doomed.


You must give your marriage the best of your time. Marriage takes a lot of time spent with your spouse that is spread out across the day. Not the remnants of time you have after you do all the other things your life requires. Make the time you give your marriage a priority.

To start with, Give your marriage the first and last thirty minutes of your day. Set your morning alarm for thirty minutes earlier than normal, lock the door, and stay in bed. Change your morning routine to accommodate the first few minutes of every day to love your spouse. Give your spouse your complete attention. No screens, no getting dressed, brushing teeth, no distractions for at least thirty minutes. Do whatever you have to do the night before to ensure you have that small fragment of time. You can make excuses all you want. There are kids to get ready for school. There are things you have to do to make it to your job on time. Fine, do those things after this thirty-minute closed window of time. This is not the time to discuss bills, the children’s grades, what’s on the calendar, or what’s for dinner. Do not talk about anything outside of that closed door. This is the time to tell your spouse with words and affection how important and cherished they are to you. I am not talking about sex, but I am talking about physical love, talking and listening. Tell them why you love them. Give this time to just being with your spouse.


When you are in that set-aside time, show your spouse genuine affection. Touch them in a way that makes them feel like they are special. Look at them, really look at them. Remember why you love them? Remember what it was like to make out with your spouse before you were married? The thrill of just touching? Remember that butterfly feeling they gave you with a simple look and a smile? That electric feeling. Hold on to that for the first thirty minutes of every day. Make it a priority. You will eventually grow to crave this time. You will feel out of sorts when you miss it for an unexpected reason.

You will want more. The thirty minutes will not be enough. Next, you will add a second thirty-minute block to the end of your day. Not only will you find that you want to add a second block of time, but you will also start carving out time throughout the day. Stealing moments to touch, hug and just be close.


Always show your spouse respect. Some of the marriage experts agree with me when I say do not disrespect your spouse in public, around friends or family. I am going to tell you do not disrespect your spouse at any time. When I hear a married couple speaking to each other with snide offhand remarks in a public setting I wonder just how bad they must speak to each other in private. Respect is more about the person giving it than the person receiving it. It shows that you love them unconditionally. Tell your spouse how you feel. speak random affirmations of love and mean them. Don’t just give them empty words.

Find ways to show respect to your spouse. If you know they do not like a thing you do, don’t do it. If you know a pet peeve of theirs, try to make it disappear. Do not discuss your problems or personal business with others outside of your marriage, including your parents and children. Do not give other people reasons to disrespect your spouse. Respect your spouse for who they are to you, not for what they do or don’t do. Do not correct or contradict your spouse in front of other people, especially your children. If you disagree that’s fine, you do not have to agree, just tell your spouse when you are alone that you do not agree with them. Work it out in private.

Do not take your spouse for granted. This is also a form of disrespect. Your person owes you nothing. He or she does not have to cook or clean for you. Also, you owe them nothing. You are in this marriage together. You are a team. Do not just assume that because one of you likes to cook that they will always will. Acknowledge the things your spouse does for you. Appreciate what they do as if it is the last time they will ever do that wonderful thing for you. Then, let them know you are thankful for it.


Decide as a couple that you will not lie to each other. Vow to never commit or accept adultery in your marriage. Then tell each other what will happen if one of you were to break that promise. For example, I told my husband I would not stay married to him if he gave any part of his heart to another woman. I will not be his second choice. Make it clear to your spouse that you will not cheat and that you will not tolerate them cheating on you. Then be honest with every thought, word, and deed. Do not keep secrets. Do not tell them things that you do not truly mean.

“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” — Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil (1886)

I don’t have all the answers, however, I know this much is true: time, affection, respect, and honesty are the four elements of an affair-proof marriage. If you are missing any one of these elements, your marriage is at risk of failure.

~Lori O’Gara

Thank you for your time. You can see more of my writing here or sign up for the O’Gara Inner Circle here

My Husband is Addicted to Plastic

and it’s not what you think.

Plastic, photo by the author

I hear wives complain about how their husbands spend so much time and money on hobbies. They whine about what husbands buy that clutters up their homes. Then when the husband creates a man cave to store his stuff they complain that he is always out in the garage. Sometimes they gripe about what husbands spent on the hobby. They say that husbands have charged up credit cards on things that are frivolous.

For example, my husband is all into Warhammer 40K. It is a massive tabletop gaming hobby. It involves plastic models, paint and copious amounts of time. To head off any of his wife’s discomfort, he took me to his local game store. He pointed down a retail aisle and said, “Go look at the armies. See if you like any of those.” I was half paying attention because the shiny dice had caught my eye. (Totally different addiction, um… I mean story.) I turned to my right and walked down the closest row of things. There were boxes shrinkwrapped in plastic with photos of fantastical creatures on the front. All sorts of beasts and mythical beings. Other boxes had images of beautifully crafted sculptures, buildings, planets, airships, steampunk inventions, and still others with objects of the natural world. Many had colors in combinations I have never seen. I was wonderstruck. I found a fascinating set that looked like trees with faces that reminded me of Ents from Lord of the Rings, but different. I called my husband over to show him the wonderous things I had discovered and proclaimed, “I like these.”

For those of you who know the world of gaming, you know that game systems differ across manufacturers and even within the same companies. I had picked out a completely different game from WH 40k. Yes, I chose the Age of Sigmar, Slyvaneth.

Lori’s Heartwood, Photo by the author.

My husband put his head in his hands and sighed.

Long story short, we now have a room full of plastic.

Husband and his plastic, Photo by the author

My husband made a point to include me in his hobby. Not all husbands do that, I know. He took me to see what it was he enjoyed and did his best to explain to me why. Was it because he wanted me to like the same things as he did? No. He wanted me to be included in his leisure life. What he understood was that what wives are really complaining about when they get upset about a husband’s hobby is that the husband is spending time with a hobby instead of spending time with them.

There are a few things that wives can do if husbands are not proactive about things.

Find a part of his hobby that you like.

Find a complimenting thing to do while he is participating in his hobby. If he likes to work on cars, offer to hand him tools. If he likes to garden or do yard work, sit in the sun with a book close by and just be close to him. Ask him if he needs a hand. Husbands like to be listened to as well. Let him talk and just listen. He might just be more apt to listen to you later when you need him to be there for you.

Join in with his hobby.

If he likes to play golf, learn to play golf. If he likes to watch football, put on one of his team’s shirts and cheer them on. If he likes to cook, offer to be his sioux chef. Whatever it is, find something you like about it that you can do.

Find your own hobby.

If you are completely against doing anything that is even remotely involved with his hobby, find your own hobby to occupy your time while he is busy. This is not the best solution, but it will distract you from complaining. Remember to make time for him as well. Don’t flip the situation by not giving him attention because you have newfound fun of your own.

A healthy marriage is s mixture of time together and time apart. A thoughtful husband will include his wife in his hobby or make time for her. If a spouse is not enjoying time with the other, there is way more wrong in your marriage than just a difference of hobbies.

~Lori O’Gara

Thank you for your time. You can see more of my writing here or sign up for the O’Gara Inner Circle here