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.
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.
At the age of 21, with my college diploma in hand, a plane ticket to Europe, and $10,000 of my hard-earned savings, I set off to travel the world. First stop--Europe.
A few weeks into my trip, I was in Berlin with a friend from high school who had been studying in Barcelona. I was thoroughly enjoying my trip and my freedom. Yet, this particular night was different.
I was flirting, laughing, telling travel stories, and LOVING the attention it brought me from the guys. There was one particular guy who seemed to appreciate me more than others, and at some point I ended up sitting on his lap. It was all in good fun, and as the fun dwindled we said our good-nights and made our way to our respective beds in the shared room of the youth hostel.
At some point in the night, I awakened to see that same guy now sitting on the edge of my bed staring at me. The bed was shaking. I knew what was happening, yet I pretended I didn’t and rolled over.
The next morning I woke up covered in his dried semen.
He was gone.
As I washed away the filth and disgust, I kept saying to myself, “At least it’s only ON me, and not IN me.” I kept wondering if it was my fault. Had I flirted too much? Had I led him on? Had I done something wrong?
Over time the memory faded and I decided it was “no big deal.”
In the wake of the #metoo movement, and the recent testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, I realize that it is a BIG DEAL. I much BIGGER DEAL than I could have imagined at the age of 21.
I truly believe that there is a gift wrapped in even the roughest sandpaper, and this sandpaper is indeed rough. Voice after voice after voice of women, men, girls, and boys have come to the forefront showing how big of a deal it really is. That to me, is a gift.
Because this isn’t simply a sex problem.
Nor is it a political problem.
Nor is it an economic problem.
Nor is it a race problem.
Nor is it a religious problem.
IT’S A HUMANITARIAN PROBLEM--A COLLECTIVE ONE.
One that goes back centuries. One in which people fail to treat other people as people, and instead use or abuse them for their own pleasure or gain--whether it be sexual, economic, or otherwise. We can see it throughout history, and we continue to see it today, around the world, and behind closed doors.
My fear, though, is that the continued finger-pointing, blaming, and shaming, will only prolong the problem because the more divided we become, the more difficult it will be to create a different future.
As far as I am concerned, we are all responsible and we all have a responsibility.
This isn’t an us/them situation. This is a WE SITUATION, and the sooner we can see each other as ONE, rather than divergent individuals, with divergent interests, the sooner we can put an end to this disgusting habit of treating people like they don’t matter.
If you have no idea how you could possibly be responsible, when you didn’t do anything, here are some ideas:
>> You are responsible for your WORDS including the ones you may never speak.
>> You are responsible for your INTENTION and the WHY behind your actions.
>> You are responsible for your INTEGRITY and the values you choose to live by.
>> You are responsible for your JUDGMENTS and the disconnections they create.
>> You are responsible for your LISTENING and whether you seek to truly understand.
>> You are responsible for your HEART and any love or hate that spurns from it.
>> You are responsible for your COURAGE and whether you choose comfort instead.
Twenty years ago, I didn't do anything. I lay in a hostel bed, wide awake, and silent while some crude young man masturbated all over me. I have no idea if he went on to do it again to other women in other youth hostels, or whether he chose to take it a step further. I may never know.
What I do know is that I am ready to take responsibility for my part in this collective mess.
Will you join me?
Courage. Compassion. Connection.
When I started my career as a teacher my sole purpose was to contribute to the lives of my students. I wanted to be in service to others because I knew that I enjoyed it, more so than I enjoyed having a fat bank account.
After more than a decade, though, I become bored--yes BORED. I wanted a bigger challenge. I wanted MORE, so I turned to school leadership as my next step. It seemed logical to me, as I could have a greater influence, one that extended beyond the walls of my own classroom and into the school at large.
Looking back now, though, I don’t think that the move to leadership was really about wanting to be a bigger contribution--it was really about having GREATER INFLUENCE AND POWER (and money). Somewhere along the way, I moved away from playing the game of contribution, and instead started playing another game--the game of “power”, “money”, “importance”, and “better than.” All of which came from an underlying issue of my own...my false belief that I wasn’t ENOUGH.
It was this new game that eventually led to my being asked to resign from my position as a school leader.
When I finally woke up to the game that I was playing, I perceived it as too late to go back into the traditional education system, and I eventually found myself in the world of coaching. (It’s own form of education, I believe.)
And yet, that pull toward the game of competition and power still beckons me from time to time, because I believe it is a game that many people play. If I am honest with myself, I can see that all of the dips in my business have come because I lost sight of what game I was playing. I lost sight of being a contribution. This quote is a great reminder to me, “In the game of contribution, you wake each morning and bask in the notion that you are a gift to others.”
What about you? What game are you playing?
With love and gratitude,
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.
WHO HELPS HOLD YOU ACCOUNTABLE?
I am part of a French book club. We meet every month for 2 hours to talk about a book that we have been “assigned” for the month. It’s a way to practice not only our French reading skills, but also our French conversations skills.
I am not quite through this month’s book, and realized that I will be unable to attend our next meeting due to conflicts.
And you know what happened?
My motivation to continue with the book did a NOSEDIVE. A serious one.
Prior to knowing that I wouldn’t attend, I was dutifully reading every day, and now, I haven’t read for days.
Has something similar happened to you?
You are super motivated to start something or re-start something, and then poof, your motivation plummets?
My problem is lack of external accountability.
Yes, I could be accountable to myself, but it seems that other people do such a better job of it.
Do you know why? Because I am driven to connect and I am also driven to look good in other people’s eyes. It’s a combination of my need for connection and my need to be and feel valued.
That is why I set myself up to succeed as much as possible.
That is why I am part of a French book club.
That is why I have a running partner.
That is why I have a business coach.
That is why I am part of a mastermind.
I know that they will hold me to my commitments and integrity, even when I don’t hold myself to them. And what’s more, there is no differential in power between us, like with a boss-employee, or teacher-student, or parent-child relationship. I am not worried about being admonished for not stepping up. They are in my corner with compassion and inspiration (sometimes without even knowing it.)
Who is helping hold you accountable? Not just to your goals, but to who you are committed to BEING, not matter what happens.
Courage. Compassion. Connection.
P.S. If you are looking for a new source accountability and inspiration, come join my new FB group--She Thrives, We Thrive. It's all about courage, compassion, and communication. See you there!
A couple of weeks ago, I was at my PEPS meeting and one of the other moms was talking about how she can’t put her son down anymore and expect to find him in the same place when she gets back. I responded with, “Totally, Anouk usually moves like 5 or 8 feet.”
What?? She doesn’t move at all. She can’t even roll over yet. Why did I just say that? I tried to back track. I had just completely lied, and for what?
As a new parent I am getting completely caught up in the Joneses. What other babies’ do, I want Anouk to do. When they talk about how much their baby sleeps, I talk about Anouk’s sleep (which is superb, by the way). When they talk about their toys, I go out and buy the same ones. And when they talk about things that Anouk doesn’t do yet, it seems that I have resorted to lying.
My husband and I were talking about it the other night and I was baffled by it. I really don’t understand why I lie to make my daughter look good.
It’s not really about her looking good, though, it’s about me looking good. If Anouk is doing something well, that is a reflection on me. And if Anouk isn’t doing something well, that is also a reflection on me, right? Not exactly. My husband pointed out a place in one of our parenting books, which says, “Parenting is not a race.”
I think that needs to be my new mantra.
The fact of the matter is that I have been comparing and racing my whole life. Way before I even became a parent, I was racing. Racing to be the top of the class. Racing to be popular. Racing to be skinny. Racing for the guy. Racing to compete. Racing to keep up with the Joneses.
No wonder I am tired…too much racing.
I wrote a blog post a while back titled, “Comparison is the Thief of Happiness.” Here it is again.
I can’t say that comparing is always wrong, though. Sometimes our comparisons spur us to grow, which is a good thing. We need to push ourselves to do new things, to stretch to new heights. Sometimes comparison helps us do that. More importantly, sometimes comparison allows us to see where there may be a real problem that needs to be handled by an expert.
We are in trouble, though, when we compare so that we can prove that we are better and someone else is worse. When comparison leaves us feeling jealous and resentful. When we compare and then forget our values (like “don’t lie”). When we compare and judge negatively. When we compare and it disconnects us from others. When we compare because we are in an imaginary race against the Joneses.
This reflection has led to two new commitments to myself:
1) Admit when I am racing.
2) Stop racing.