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.
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.
I was at the airport, hanging out watching my children play in the children’s area, when I opened up my phone connected to the free airport wi-fi, and saw the first words of a text message
YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO….
It was as if I was a small child being scolded by a parent.
I had done something wrong.
I had hurt someone.
I had made a mistake.
I sent back a text saying. “You are right. I am sorry,” then turned off my phone, hugged my husband and cried.
The next day, I was fortunate enough to be able to talk to my POWER PARTNER--another coach, who I share with weekly, exchanging coaching, cheerleading, and other bits of wisdom with one another.
I cried again as I explained what had happened, and how I had done something wrong. How the words had just come out without thinking. How I had no intention of hurting anyone. How I hadn’t meant to be mean or malicious.
As most coaches are superb at doing, she helped me see another perspective. We took out the words RIGHT and WRONG from the equation. She reconnected me to my core essence and my core values--one of which is HONESTY. She reminded me that it isn’t necessary to apologize for being who you are, even if people around you don’t like who you are being.
As we talked, my body opened up, my breath deepened, and I felt the weight of my “wrongness” lift from my shoulders, as I began to see that there was nothing “wrong” with what I had done, even if someone else believed so.
I have EVERY RIGHT to be me.
I have EVERY RIGHT to speak my truth.
I have EVERY RIGHT live my values.
It might not always be comfortable for the people I interact with, and their truth might not align with my truth, but I should not have to hide who I am and what comes naturally to me because someone else doesn’t like it, or agree with it, or will end up disappointed.
And neither should you.
P.S. If given a second chance, I would have done this situation slightly differently, but with this reframe, I can live and learn without the guilt.
Courage. Compassion. Connection.
A friend and colleague of mine is currently enrolled in an online class with me, and we are sharing our experiences back and forth through voice messages on WhatsApp.
The other day she sent me a long (10 minute) message about her experience with the work that day, and seeing it’s length I put in my headphones and listened while I washed the lunch dishes.
It was a beautiful and vulnerable share, so I found a quiet corner from which I could respond, leaving, in turn, a 5 minute message celebrating her discoveries, expanding on them, and sharing some other ideas.
Right before going to sleep I received another message from her and felt excited to listen to it. That excitement dropped from my throat into a pit in my stomach and a clenching in my chest after the first 30 seconds. It turns out that my message wasn’t received as intended.
What an icky feeling. I sat with it for awhile and it eventually turned into numbness.
I hate conflict (as do most people), and I also hate when I have the feeling that I have “done something wrong” (as do most people.)
I sat in reflection for awhile, asking myself questions like: Do I need to apologize? What exactly did I do wrong? Did I do something wrong? What are my values? What is the nature of our relationships? Did I do something that doesn’t align with that?
I tried to call her, but there was no answer. I sat on the edge of my bed contemplating my next step. I didn’t want to continue the back-and-forth “argument” over voice messages and I also didn’t want to go to bed without giving voice to my own feelings.
I opened WhatsApp again, held my thumb over the microphone icon, took a breath, and pressed it.
I started with talking about the sensations in my body. I talked about how I didn’t think that I needed to apologize because my intention wasn’t to hurt her. I pondered out loud if it was what I had said, or what she had heard. I recounted a recent conversation between us about how it’s okay to piss people off, and it we haven’t, we haven’t really done our “job.” I ended by requesting that we talk further about it in the morning.
I struggled to go to sleep that night, and found myself returning again to it in the middle of the night when I was awakened by my daughter.
The next morning I woke to another voice message. I hesitated. I didn’t want to listen to it. I put it off saying that it wasn’t the “right time.” I got myself ready for the day, got my kids off to school, did my meditation and exercise, and finally sat down to listen.
What I realize is that I was postponing shame.
I was postponing what I considered the “inevitable.”
I was postponing the feeling of not just doing something wrong, but of being wrong.
Though, at the same time, I know that my friend would never “shame me.” Instead, I was re-creating a feeling from my past and putting it directly in my present. I was procrastinating because of my past experiences with doing something “wrong” and either being directly shamed through the words of another, or feeling shame because of my interpretation of their words. (Sometimes we end up shaming ourselves...that is another topic though.)
Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. I pressed PLAY.
I was relieved to discover a light heartedness to her tone and the reassurance that she was not expecting an apology. LONG EXHALE. The tension in my body released and I was back to feeling connected to my enoughness and to her.
Here are 3 big lessons I have re-learned from this experience:
1) The importance of stepping into your values and knowing that just because someone doesn’t like what you did or said, it doesn’t mean that you did something wrong, or are wrong.
2) That our present negative feelings are often not attributed to the present moment, but are often rooted in a past--a past that we CO-CREATED. (Also known as transference.)
3) That trust and connection are built through vulnerability and the speaking of our truth, no matter how hard it might feel, or how worried we are of “ruining the relationship.”
I am happy to say that my friend and I feel even more connected than ever after encountering this speed bump.
Is it possible that you are postponing something? Disappointment? Conflict? Shame? Failure?
Would you like to leave the past in the past and created a new possibility instead? If so, let's connect to talk about how I can support you.
Courage. Compassion. Connection.
When I was 35, my professional world imploded. For some of my clients, it was their relationship that imploded. While for still others, there was no implosion of career or relationship, but a serious earthquake, that shook the foundation and created serious cracks.
If I look back logically, the origin of my disastrous relationship with my former boss, would have started when I was first transferred. But it didn’t. If my clients look back logically on their own situations, they might see an infidelity discovered, a lie uncovered, a business decision gone bad, a pink-slip passed out, etc. But that isn’t the true origin either.
To find the true origin, we need to do a little time traveling.
For me, and for most of my clients (and probably for you too) it was an event that happened between the ages of 3 and 7. Together, we travel back in time, to at that event from the outside, as an observer, rather than as a participant. More specifically, as an OMNISCIENT observer who knows the thoughts, feelings, and decisions of all the participants.
As the time travel facilitator, I focus on the DECISIONS made by that little boy or little girl, because it is that decision, or collection of decisions that is the true origin of the current conflict. It is that decision that has been operating in the background for 20, 30, 40, or even 50 years, like the operating system of your GPS system. It is that decision that becomes the programmers code, until we become conscious enough, or fall on our face hard enough.
I will not lie and say that it is an easy process because it is not, but it is a healing one, because it allows us the awareness we need to rewrite the code and reset the GPS.
Sometimes when are are back there, hovering around observing, we come down to “earth” and step into forgiveness. We step into forgiveness by sending love and compassion to the people involved, especially to that little boy or little girl. We give hugs and reassurance, and paint a bright picture for what the future can and will look like.
After coming back to the present, we can step into the fun part, where we time travel forward, and meet our future self. We see where she lives, what she eats, what she does, and what she says. The words, the guidance, the cheerleading, and the love she shares is immensely powerful and therapeutic after the harshness of the time travel backwards.
Yet, I believe that both are needed, as they work in tandem. As we seek to rewrite the faulty GPS programing from our past, we can insert the new GPS programming given to us by our future self.
Back and forth we go.
Back and forth I go, honoring my past and creating my future, while living in the present.
Just as we eat to nourish our bodies everyday, I am coming to believe time-travel would nourish our souls everyday.
P.S. If you have any interest in time-traveling with me, please reach out.
Courage. Compassion. Connection.
Have you ever heard of a KENSHO moment?
I hadn’t either until about a week ago. The term comes from Zen Buddhism and refers to the growth or enlightenment that one can gain in the wake of a painful experience. It is often spoken of next to the word SATORI, which also refers to “seeing” in a new way.
If you are anything like me, you have probably endured your share of painful moments in your life, ones where you may have characterized yourself has having failed or been a failure.
A failed relationship.
A failed career.
A failed business.
A failed conversation.
A failed health outcome.
A failed effort of any sort.
Yet, inside each of these supposed “failures” resides a potential KENSHO moment. A moment when you can learn and grow. Unfortunately, not all of us choose to turn our pain into KENSHO. Not all of us choose to see the power inside our powerlessness.
Two of big KENSHO moments came by my own choice.
July 7, 2007 was a date that many girls dreams of--her wedding day. Yet that wedding day never came for me. Five months prior, I made the decision to call off my own engagement. To tell a man that I loved, that despite that love, I didn’t want to be with him. It was one of the toughest decisions that I have ever made, and despite it being my decision it was still extremely painful.
In the spring of 2012, I made another difficult decision--to resign from the career of my dreams. One that I had devoted years of schooling, training, and money to create. Again, it was my decision, but it didn’t make it any easier.
Both of these moments left me feeling powerless.
I won’t lie to you and say that my KENSHO moment was immediate, as I did my share of wallowing in self-pity and asking “Why Me?” over and over again. Yet, at some point, I made a decision. I decided that enough was enough, and it was time to rise out of my pain, and into my power. I created the KENSHO.
It wasn’t a failed relationship. It was a successful one because it helped me to realize what it takes to sustain a long-term relationship, and it led to my meeting my current husband just 8 days after my non-existent wedding.
It wasn’t a failed career. It was a successful one because I turned toward a coach and other personal development opportunities that have all led me to a new, inspiring career as a coach myself.
To find your KENSHO moments, you don’t need to change your past, you simply need to look at it from a different perspective.
See the success instead of the failure.
See the power inside of the pain.
See the gift wrapped in the sandpaper.
P.S. I recently invited someone to make a list of all their failures. Then to re-write the entire list with the word success instead. (Like I did above.) I invite you to try it out as well. Create your own KENSHO moments.
Courage. Compassion. Connection.
You may not be as entrenched in the world of personal growth and personal development as I am, but there are three key words that come up A LOT, when it comes to discussing the root cause of many people’s life challenges--WORTH, ENOUGHNESS, VALUE.
They are words that I use quite a lot myself, when I talk about my own struggles (worthiness issues), or when I speak with clients about theirs (also worthiness issues.) Look to the right. Do you see a category WORTHINESS?
Yet, now, I am on the search for a new set of words. Want to know why?
WORTH, ENOUGH, and VALUE are words that describe a measurement of some kind, which in turn brings with it a comparison of one thing to another. It’s not the vernacular of PEOPLE! It’s the vernacular of money and measurement.
Yet, it seems like every coach, or spiritual guru, or healer out there uses these words to illustrate their own struggles, and the struggles of other people, and we wonder why we live in such a competitive and judgemental world. Why we live in a world where so many people feel shitty about themselves and their circumstances.
At the very beginning of Mark Manson’s book, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k”, he talks about something called the “backwards law”, which was actually coined by Alan Watts. (though I haven’t read it directly from Alan himself….). Here is what Mark says, “The more you pursue feeling better all the time, the less satisfied you become, as pursuing something only reinforces the fact that you lack it in the first place.”
Which means, here I am living, breathing, and working in the field of personal development, where we use terms like WORTHINESS, ENOUGHNESS, and VALUE in reference to people, while not realizing that I am, in fact, perpetuating the cycle of comparing oneself to oneself, or comparing oneself to another, and in turn, not feeling so hot.
The winning and losing, the being accepted or being rejected, the success versus failure, the worthiness and unworthiness, leave us stuck on a hamster wheel of emotions. We long to feel enough, yet in the pursuit of enoughness, we realize that we aren’t enough, which leads us back to feeling not enough AGAIN. And on and on the cycle continues.
So how the hell do we get off?
My idea: STOP TALKING ABOUT OURSELVES IN MEASUREMENTS!
I am not money, and you are not money. I am not something to be measured, nor are you.
If I couple the “backwards law” with the phrase “Words create worlds”, it’s like BINGO--I can now see the problem.
The problem isn’t about my enoughness or your enoughness, it’s the fact that we are measuring ourselves against some unknown, unseen “thing” outside of ourselves, as if it matters, and as if we have somewhere to arrive where we will finally reach the penultimate WORTH.
I am realizing it's all BS.
I am choosing to step away from the world and vocabulary of measurement.
Want to join me?
Courage. Compassion. Connection.
Today, I went shopping with another mom to buy the end of the year present for our daughters' teacher and the teacher's assistant. We had decided that a larger group gift would be more appreciated, so the other mom had collected money to do just that.
While we were at the first store, the other mom pulled out the envelope with all the collected money and proceeded to count out not just bills but coins. Instead of standing their with a blank slate, I stood there and watched through the lens of my conditioning, and I went straight into judgment.
"Really, coins. You couldn't have given her bills? You had to give her coins that she had to lug around? Come on..."
And then I stopped myself.
I stopped myself because I noticed that I was "spreading poison" (to use the words of Don Miguel Ruiz.) That through my judgments of whoever gave the coins, I was energetically contaminating any future relationship and the world in general.
I had no idea what the story was behind the coins, nor did it matter. What I do know is that judgement is a sign that I still have work to do around my own sense of self, especially when it comes to money.
Yet, the story doesn't end there.
When I came back from the shopping trip, I hopped on a FB live within my FB group and told them the same story that I am telling you, and one of the members of the group wrote me a note saying, "I likely need to see and ponder this thought today, because I was feeling quite judgy about you being judgy! I didn’t even really catch the irony until the end, but it was so bad I found myself considering if this was the right place for me."
Have you ever done that? Judged someone for being judgmental and then wondered if you wanted to hang out with said person?
I am thrilled that she had the courage to say that to me because we ended up having a great conversation about how often we don't recognize our own judgments, yet we are quick to point them out in others, the various things that trigger us to judge, and that they are not the same for different people.
The main point, though, was the our judgments of others mean more about US than it does about the other person, and that when we look deep enough we can uncover the fear and snuff it out with LOVE.
A work in progress,
Courage. Compassion. Connection.
I used to think of my judgments as wrong because that is what everyone always told me--DON’T JUDGE or STOP BEING SO JUDGMENTAL.
Unfortunately, telling me to not judge is like telling me not to breath. I might be able to sustain it for awhile, but eventually I just can’t help it. It's how I have been conditioned, and it's how I continue to see the world operate.
Plus, I no longer want to.
I want to EMBRACE and CELEBRATE my negative judgments. (Crazy, isn’t it.)
I want to do so because they are the key to my growth.
I want to let them out (albeit alone), rather than suppress them, or should on them, or distract myself from them because I know that they are telling me something important. When I get curious about my judgments, rather than judge my judgments (quite a paradox), then I can develop a better understanding of what is going on under the surface.
Once I can go under the surface and seek to understand the origin of my negative judgments, then I can unlock what is missing inside of me which will allow me to transform my relationship with myself and my relationships with others.
And you know the super cool thing that comes next--I become LESS JUDGMENTAL.
Do you know the saying, “What you resist persists?”
That is exactly what I am talking about. When I resist my negative judgments, and try not to have them, they just keep coming back, and coming back, and coming back because I haven’t dealt with the hidden unmet need underneath.
Yet, once I embrace the judgment, explore it, find it’s root cause, and get creative for how to otherwise meet my needs, then the judgments slowly disappear.
Want to try it?
P.S. One of my mentors who teaches Non-Violent Communication went to teach a workshop to a group of monks, who all thought that they didn't need his workshop because they said, "We don't judge." At first he was a bit lost, and then he asked, "Well, why don't you judge?" And the monks response was, "Because judging is wrong." My mentor then smiled and said, "Okay. We can get started."
Courage. Compassion. Connection.
Today was supposed to be my first day back at work after almost two weeks of not working, yet it didn't happen.
While I was gone, my son contracted chicken pox, though it was such a light case, my husband wasn't sure if it really was chicken pox at all. When I got home on Tuesday I also had my doubts. Last Friday afternoon, I finally went to the doctor and he said, "He probably has chicken pox, though there are only a few that look like it"
So, this morning, after dropping off my daughter I swung by my son's daycare, in hopes that he could stay.
One of the co-directors of the daycare met me outside to check on him, but because he only has about 20 spots total. she also wasn't sure. In the end, though, she told me he could stay. I walked him inside to drop him off with his teacher.
When I came back outside, another mom was red-faced and screaming at the co-director that her son wasn't contagious, that he didn't have a fever, and that she couldn't keep him home. She was totally pissed off and threatened to just leave him.
The co-director was silently taking in the verbal assault and when she had a moment, she said, "I am sorry, it's the rules."
The mom continued to go on her tirade about how her son only had 3 spots on his foot and that he wasn't contagious, that she couldn't take him home, etc.
Another parent quietly intervened, and I took that opportunity to ask the co-director if she wanted me to take my son back home. She nodded her head yes, so I went back inside to get him.
So, why was I so calm about the whole thing, while the other mother was the exact opposite?
It might be because I had prepared myself ahead of time to have him come home, and had moved all my appointments this morning.
It might be because I have more experience and practice regulating my emotions and frustrations.
It might be because I have a flexible work schedule.
What it really comes down to, though, is NEEDS.
By leaving her son at daycare each day, and today specifically, this other mother is able to meet her own needs. Maybe it's the need for PEACE. Maybe it's the need for SECURITY. Maybe it's the need for WORTHINESS. Maybe it's the need for CONTINUITY. Or maybe it's all of the above, or even none of the above.
What I know for sure though, is that every pissed off woman, and every pissed off man that I encounter isn't pissed off because they are a "bad person", they are pissed off because one of their vital UNIVERSAL NEEDS is not being met. The same universal needs that you and I both share.
I could sit here and judge this other mom and criticize her for her behavior and mistreatment of the co-director, or I could find the compassion and understanding that she surely needs.
The next time you encounter a pissed off person, or even become one yourself, I invite you to do the same,
PS. If this resonated with you, I would appreciate your support in sharing this with those who you think could benefit.
Courage. Compassion. Connection.