It was 2009, and I was about three quarters of the way through my first year as an assistant principal, when I received a letter from the district saying that the funding for my position had been cut and and I was going to be placed back in a teaching position at the start of the next school year. At the very bottom of the letter was a line that said something to the effect of, “If you do not agree with this decision, you can request a meeting to present your case.”
After I showed my principal the letter, he urged me NOT to request a meeting, and that things would turn out okay in the end.
My mind raced with things like,
The hell with that. This is completely unfair. Two years ago when they closed schools, they moved all those assistant principals to new schools. Why not me? This is bullshit. I am not getting demoted because they have budget issues. Not going to happen.
I requested the meeting, dragging along my principal, the other assistant principal from my school, and the regional director of our school. I stood up and fought for myself and my position. In the end, I was assured that I would have an assistant principal position the following school year, but they didn’t know where.
YES! I DID IT!
My celebratory dance took a turn for the worse, when, later that summer, the human resources manager called to tell me that I was being placed WITH HER. The woman with the bad reputation. The woman who my colleague had worked for for 8 weeks before going on medical leave for stress. The woman whom I knew was a bitch.
I had put all this energy into fighting for my position, only to find myself in an even more difficult position.
I clearly had a lesson to learn.
There is a difference between fighting for WHAT IS RIGHT and fighting TO BE RIGHT. One comes from deep within us--our values, and the other comes from our ego.
All the fighting that I was doing to keep my job, and all the fighting that I kept doing when I worked for my not-so-great-boss, was all centered around BEING RIGHT.
It had nothing to do with the children that I had pledged to help educate. It had nothing to do with my bigger purpose. It had everything to do with my own sense of self-worth and self-preservation. I didn’t want to be demoted because what would that mean about me. I didn’t want to be back in the classroom after working so hard to take the next step because that would mean that I was a failure.
It had nothing to do with what was “right,” and everything to do with BEING right. Unfortunately, I didn’t see it at the time, and I continued fighting to be right, which eventually cost me my job.
If you are stuck in a fight yourselves, do you know what, exactly, you are fighting for?
P.S. We are talking about this issue over in the Emerge Book Circle, if you want to come join us.
Courage. Compassion. Connection.
Today, I meditated NAKED in my own backyard.
For some of you, you might think, “So what?” but if you know me, truly know me, you will understand that this is a really big deal.
You see, for most of my life, I defined myself as my body. My value was interconnected with what my body looked like, how strong it was, how it was able to perform on the field or court, and how smart I was.
Yet, despite how my body has looked over the years, I have never loved it. When I was sporting an almost 6-pack stomach--I still didn’t love it. When I was 20 pounds heavier after 8 months of backpacking, I still didn’t love it. No matter what my body has looked like, I still couldn’t bring myself to fall in love with it. It’s like the “backwards law” that Mark Mason speaks about in "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck". The more I pursued having a perfect body, the more I felt miserable not having one.
When I was in high school I developed an eating disorder. Unlike many girls where it is as if an outside person takes over, and they don’t necessarily realize what they are doing, I was 100% conscious and in control the whole time. I essentially forced myself into having an eating disorder because I was that focused on what my body SHOULD look like, but didn’t. I reasoned that if I couldn’t be pretty, at least I could be thin. Oh, how screwed up my thinking was.
After having more cavities in one dental appointment than I had in my whole life, and a college road trip where I was sharing hotel rooms with my mom and puking in the toilet while she worried outside the door, I was sent to a psychologist.
Yes, I got over the eating disorder, but NO, I still didn’t love myself or my body. I still berated myself daily when I looked in the mirror. I still found all the faults. I still obsessed about the cellulite on my ass. I still sucked in my stomach, or flexed it in hopes that it would maybe, kind of, look a little different.
Over the years, I eventually convinced myself that I may not be thin, but at least I was strong and fit and that is what mattered.
Then I had my first miscarriage.
Despite my strong, fit, athletic (though not thin body), I was unable to grow a child within me. My body was not strong enough and healthy enough to bring a new life into this world.
I pretended on the outside that it was all okay and told myself, “This is for the best. The baby probably wouldn’t have been healthy. This is nature’s way of correcting itself,” and on and on it went. But inside, I wasn’t convinced.
My body had failed me, and I was my body.
Fortunately for me, this happened right in the midst of a deep awakening within myself. Two days after the doctor went in and scrapped out my uterus and the dead tissue, I was sitting in a large room of 100+ people for a coaching seminar program. Three days after the doctor went in and scrapped out my uterus and the dead tissue, I was standing in front of a large room of 100+ people being coached by the leader.
It was he who let me in on the secret. “I AM NOT MY BODY.”
It was something that I refer back to again and again, as a reminder that I am so much more than my body. So much more than what it looks like, so much more than how strong it is, and so much more than how smart it is.
Yet, it wasn’t as if a light was switched and all of a sudden I loved my body. It is still something that I dance with on a regular basis, but the valleys are not as deep as they once were.
I stlll prefer having sex with the lights off.
I still wear a tankini in the summer to hide my stomach and my stretch marks.
I still gaze at the cellulite on my ass and wish it weren’t there.
But I also celebrate my body too.
I celebrate my body for giving me 2 healthy children, despite being pregnant 4 times.
I celebrate my body and when I go for hikes where I feel like I can touch the sky.
I celebrate my body on my yoga mat each day as I twist, turn, and balance in new ways.
And today, I celebrated my body while I meditated NAKED in my backyard.
How are you celebrating your body?
Courage. Compassion. Connection.
Do you ever have people or things in your life that you avoid due to the discomfort they bring?
I do yoga 3-4 times a week, using a fitness app that has audio yoga classes built in. No need to go anywhere--just grab my mat and my bluetooth headphones and off I go.
As part of the app, there are 3 main yoga instructors, but one of them I avoid. I did 1-2 classes with her when I first started using the app, but there is something about her voice and accent that drives me crazy, so I typically do classes with the other two.
Yesterday, though, I was scrolling through some of the class options and decided to give her another try. Perhaps I was misremembering?
A few seconds into it, I remembered exactly why I was avoiding her classes. It was like nails on a chalkboard to me. I could have stopped and started a different class with one of my preferred teachers, but for some reason I decided to stick with it.
In the end, it was a powerful yoga class and I am glad I persevered.
While I was flowing through the poses, I was thinking about this concept of avoidance.
There are many people who would advise you that if people in your life are not serving you, it is best to avoid contact, or perhaps for you to cut the cord entirely. Only have contact if you HAVE TO. Sometimes this is the "right" tactic to take, especially when your physical safety is at stake.
There is another option, though. We can change how we relate to the stimulus, to the person. We can unhook ourselves from whatever it is that they are doing that irritates us, and instead focus on all the rest.
Yesterday, the voice of the yoga teacher was an irritant for me, but instead I focused not on her, but on myself. I focused on all the benefits that I was gaining from her knowledge and experience. I focused on my postures. I focused on my breath.
“What you focus on expands.”
If I had focused on her voice, I probably would have driven myself crazy. Instead I focused on my purpose for hitting the mat in the first place. I focused on what was in my "circle of influence" as Stephen Covey likes to call it.
Sometimes our discomfort doesn't come from real discomfort, it comes from our minds, and when we focus our minds elsewhere, the discomfort lessens. We can start avoiding our avoiding.
Is there anything or anyone in your world that you are avoiding, but perhaps if you look beyond the irritations, you might find something deeper and more beneficial for you?
The other day, I had a problem-solving session with a friend of mine who is also a coach. She was feeling very inspired and also overwhelmed because she kept getting flooded with ideas and didn't know which one to follow.
I shared with her this analogy:
When you go shopping and enter a parking lot, you drive around and pick the "best" spot to park your car. Sometimes it might not be the closest, but perhaps the one where the people next to you are parked straight, or perhaps the one where no one is parked next to you.
What you don't do is drive and drive and drive in circles trying to figure out which spot it the best one. Once you are parked you stay there. You don't reverse out and look for a different one. You commit to that one spot for the duration of your shopping experience.
So how do you know where to park your car?
One of the strategies that I used to make my decision was to create a NO-LOSE DECISION. This is a method that I read about in the book "Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway" by Susan Jeffers, which was one of our monthly selections for our book circle.
Essentially, instead of doing a pro-con list between your two choices, you focus ONLY ON THE PROS, which Jeffers calls the "goodies." When we focus on only the positives, we can see that both options are great and then we release any fear that we are making the "wrong choice."
Instead of driving in circles trying to find the "best" spot, you pick one and go with it because it can never be a "wrong" spot.
By doing so, you make a no-lose decision.
You may be in a situation like my friend, where you have no idea which idea to follow because there are so many, or you may be in a situation where you have ONE decision to make, but are unsure of making it, so you are deciding by not deciding.
Either way, you can use this no-lose decision making process yourself so that you can clearly decide where to park your car.
Do you see all the dead bugs on the windshield of this picture?
This past weekend, we we driving back from a 2 week vacation (thus my lack of posts), and as we traversed from the North of France to the South at 130km/h, we collided with many insects.
I took this picture, after a bathroom break and a switch in drivers. I couldn't believe that the windshield was so disgusting.
As the driver, though, the mess on the screen didn't impede me at all. I was looking straight past the dead bugs and other shit in front of me, in order to successfully navigate the road.
It was only after I shifted perspective that I was able to see how bad it was.
Unfortunately, we often get it the reverse.
We tend to focus so much on the dead bugs and other shit in front of us, that we can't see the road and navigate through with any speed or accuracy.
Some of the current "dead bugs" in my life are:
Each day, I need to pause, reflect, and clean off my windshield of the "dead bugs." Some days, it happens frequently.
It takes mindfulness and intention.
What about you?
Are you focusing on the dead bugs and shit on your windscreen, or are you looking past them to the road ahead?
The other day I received an email from one of my clients. She had uncovered something undesirable and she started in a downward emotional spiral. Not only was she emotional from the unwanted information, but she was also berating herself for being emotional in the first place.
When I first met her, she was in a pretty dark place and had been thinking of ending her life. She had spent 20 years giving her emotional wellbeing over to another person, and as often happens, she ended up disappointed. She was unable to pick herself up because she had become so dependent on another.
Over the course of our nearly 6 months working together, she reconnected with her strength and her sense of self, not in a F-YOU manner, but in a way that gave her emotional independence that could then lead to greater INTERdependence.
Yet, here she was face to face with another trigger, and reminder her of the betrayal. Not only was she pissed again at her partner, but she was pissed at herself.
She should be stronger.
She shouldn't be so emotional.
She shouldn't be sad, angry, frustrated, disappointed, etc.
I reminded her that being a strong person didn't mean being an unemotional one. I reminded her that she is an emotional being before a rational one. I reminded her that she is a human being not a robot. And I reminded her that even wonder woman has her weaknesses.
I think that sometimes when we make our way out of a valley, we expect to stay on the mountain tops forever, but we forget that our life journey is not always a smooth journey. It comes with pot-holes, speed bumps, and enormous crevasses.
We forget about the duality of life.
We can't have light without darkness.
We can't have strength without weakness.
My dear one...the next time you are should-ing all over yourself for being weak, please remember that your strength is just on the other side. Feel your feelings (rather than numb or suppress them), step into self-compassion, and you will find your strength waiting for you.
What if you didn't feel the way you think you feel?
What if your happiness wasn't happiness?
What if your sadness wasn't sadness?
What if it's all invented?
Earlier this week, I hosted a Radical Honesty class with a friend and colleague and we talked about what is TRUTH and what is not truth.
According to the teachings of Radical Honesty, there are only 3 truths we can speak of:
1) Our bodily sensations
2) Our physical surroundings
3) Our personal thoughts
As we explored this topic together and practiced telling the truth about all three, one of the other participants asked about feelings and how feelings fit into the mix of truth or untruth.
I came up with this equation:
Our bodily sensations + Our thoughts about those bodily sensations = Our feelings
The example was a racing heart. Is that racing heart a sign of being scared? Is it a sign of being excited? Is it a sign of some tachycardia, a medical condition?
As the one with the racing heart, you could decide any of the three, or none of them. Which means, you have the opportunity to INVENT whatever emotional label you want to put on it.
Which reminded me of a book called the "The Art of Possibility" by Ben and Rosamund Zander, with a chapter titled "It's All Invented." In it's pages it talks about exactly what I am describing above, though they didn't specifically talk about feelings. Their focus was on our judgements and beliefs being invented, so why not invent beliefs that will inspire you.
Who decided that blue was blue?
Or that happy was happy?
I don't know either, but someone decided it--someone invented it.
Do you ever find that when you say "I'm tired," you sink a little lower or curl in on yourself a little more? Or maybe you yawn? I know that I do. It seems that the more I say the word the more I feel the feeling.
What if we shifted ourselves away from these invented words that described our feelings and instead focused on our bodily sensations?
What if the next time you feel happy, you report not that you are happy, but that you feel a fluttering in your belly and a looseness in your chest?
What if the next time you feel afraid, you report that you feel a ball in your stomach and a strong pull backward?
Obviously, all of these words are invented too, but by using descriptions instead of feeling words, we might be able to empower ourselves to reach a place where it feels AMAZING.
Want to try it out with me right now? What bodily sensations do you notice right now?
Over the weekend, I was in Los Angeles attending the Mindvalley Reunion. If you don't know who or what Mindvalley is, it is a global education company focused on transformation and personal development for body, mind, and spirit. The reunion is essentially a 3 day conference where a thousand or so people come together to listen to speakers, attend workshops, and be inspired.
While I was there I met people whom I had met in previous years, as well as people that I have met virtually through some of Mindvalley's various courses.
Shortly after the reunion, one of the people that I met shot a video about her experience and tagged me in the comments so that I would be sure to see it. I am not sure how you feel about being tagged, but unless I am in the picture, I don't love it.
I replied to the person saying that it was nice to meet them and then asked that they not tag me in the future. I thought it was relatively harmless.
This morning, I woke up to a private FB message from the woman using the words "unkind" and "inappropriate."
The first questions to pop into my mind were: "Huh? Where did that come from?", followed by, "How dare she call me unkind and inappropriate! What a b**ch!"
Having spent too many years NOT SPEAKING MY TRUTH, I sent her a message back letting her know that I appreciated her for sharing her preferences with me, but that I DID NOT appreciate her insinuating that I was unkind and inappropriate, as I had not made any judgments or criticisms of her. I then invited her to think about what her judgments of me really meant about her.
A few hours later, after talking to my power partner, I realized just how high I was sitting on my horse.
One of the speakers at the conference talked about how there is no right or wrong, yet there I was sitting squarely in my righteousness, judging her for having judged me in the first place.
I was clearly right and she was clearly wrong, right?
Not so much.
I sent her the following message back:
Hey again...in the aftermath of my message back to you I could hear my own righteousness and judgement of you. UGH! What a cluster I have found myself in. It brings me back to what Dr. Shefali said about there not be a right or wrong. Since getting your message I have been making you wrong for judging me, which is a judgement in itself. If we take out right/wrong, there are preferences. There is what I like and what I don't like. There is what you like and what you don't like. I don't like being tagged without being asked first. I don't like being told I am unkind and inappropriate. You don't like that I asked you not to tag me in a public space. Anything else you don't like about my behavior? I am open to hearing it.
This whole encounter is a reminder that communication has many nuances and that no matter how much training I have done, or how many books I have read, I am still a human being with buttons that people will push, and which I will then react or respond to. Sometimes I suck at communicating. (Which is another version of "bad"...I know.)
Ever been in a similar situation?
Courage. Compassion. Connection.
Calling off my first engagement was one of the hardest and most powerful moments of my life.
It was a day when I had finally, after years of trying to "save" the men in my life, realized that I deserved so much more. It was a day when I courageously decided to start over, yet again, despite my advancing years. It was a day when I decided that the best way to love myself, was to let go of the man that I loved.
How had it come to this point?
Why had I spent years dating men that didn't deserve me, nor I them?
This lie...this idea that love comes from outside of me, is one that I told myself for years.
It is a lie that I see in many of my clients telling themselves as well.
Last Friday, I was working with a client, who at the age of 67, is still hoping for her deceased mother’s love. I kindly and gently told her that she was no longer a child, and that the job of loving herself came from her. That the job of being compassionate and non-judgmental came from her. That her life and her love was in her hands.
Not her partner.
Not her brother.
Not her boss.
Not her deceased mother.
But from her.
My dear one, the same goes for you (and me too...despite sometimes forgetting.)
Self-love is the best love.
Courage. Compassion. Connection.
I am currently reading a book about women and money and it quotes some statistics about how many women are financially self-sufficient. The number seemed quite low, so out of curiosity, I asked in a women’s group about their degree of financial self-sufficiency.
Out of the almost 50,000 women in the group, 543 commented. (Obviously, this is not statistically significant, but it did satisfy my curiosity.)
Most of the comments were positive shouts of, “I AM!” with a small percentage of comments along the lines of, “Not yet,” or “Getting there.”
One woman responded by saying, “Is there a purpose to this exercise, other than to make people feel less than?”
At first, that comment made me freeze. It hurt me to think that I had hurt someone else. After a few moments (and a few deep breaths) I was able to let go of the tension because I knew in my heart of hearts that my intention was true curiosity. In no way did I intend for others to feel bad about themselves and their circumstances. (Unfortunately, intent and impact are not always aligned.)
The questions that came to mind next were: Do I respond? Do I speak my truth? Knowing that she is already hurt by my question, do I continue the conversation? Do I “defend” my actions? Do I let her know that in my opinion, it was not me who made her feel “less than” but that she is holding on to something else that allows her to feel this way?
It didn’t take me long to make the decision.
I took to my keyboard, clarified my intent, and then said, “If I have the power to make you feel “less then”, then I would, in turn, have the power to make you feel “more than”. Do you want to give me so much power.”
As you can imagine, she didn’t love my response, and proceeded to reply, “YOU ARE NOT LISTENING!!!!!” (Yes, just like that.) followed by several other sentences about my not being kind. Yet, on my side, I did a little happy dance. I had spoken my truth. I had been the catalyst to someone being pissed off, AND, at the same time, I felt so completely FREE for having done so. (Often very easy to do behind the screen…)
I have spent a great deal of my lifetime swallowing my truth rather than expressing it. Do you know what happens when I do? I suffer, and if there has been a relationship that I want to maintain, it suffers too. Many of us believe that by with-holding our truth we will preserve the relationship, but often the exact opposite occurs.
I know that I am not alone in this.
If you also happen to be a truth swallower, I have an invitation for you.
I am teaming up with my friend and colleague, Marai Kiele, to teach a virtual class introducing you to Radical Honesty®, developed by therapist, Brad Blanton. It is all about freeing yourself by finally telling ALL of YOUR TRUTH :) We would be truly honored if joined us.
You can learn more about the class, the dates, and who it is for, by following this link.
PS. If you think anyone in your life would benefit from this class, please lovingly share this with them.
Courage. Compassion. Connection.