authenticity

Finding What Works

670px-Tame-a-Free-Spirit-Step-02

I have a friend with a background in finance and was very successful in the corporate world. A few years ago, she left her high paying, structured job, decided to downsize and began living simply.

She became a free spirit who flows from one thing to the next with very little planning.

For as long as I have known her, she has resisted structure.

I am in awe of her because I am the opposite. I love structure. I like making plans and knowing what’s going to happen and when. It makes me feel safe and in control.

I enjoy creating my to-do list and then checking things off. I like how I get things done and how I feel at the end of the day.

Lately, our conversations have turned to improving our eating habits. Of course, I began by logging my food intake. This helped me keep track of what I was eating and I felt accomplished at the end of the day.

My friend fought this. She wanted the freedom to choose what she wanted without the constraints of having to plan. However, since she didn’t have a plan, she would come home from the grocery store with things she really didn’t want.

When I don’t have a plan, I find myself standing in front of the refrigerator wondering what to eat. Then I end up eating way too many chips or cookies. All the stuff I’m trying not to eat.

Recently my friend found an eating plan that felt right to her. It called for planning meals and weighing and measuring her food.

After following this plan, she came to the realization that being free spirited was not freedom at all- it was chaos.

With her new eating plan, she felt more free than she had in a long time because she didn’t really have to think about it. She has set guidelines to follow and as long as she stays inside those she feels satisfied and happy.

So that must mean because I’m a planner, things are copacetic with me. I wish.

Because I usually get results, I think, “if a little planning is good then a lot of planning is better.” The drill sergeant comes out and begins whipping me into shape.

cartoon-angry-army-drill-sergeant-shouting-19836396

No matter what I do, it’s never good enough for the drill sergeant. I become miserable and I end up quitting or working myself so hard I burn out or get sick.

In any area of our lives, if the pendulum swings too far toward free spirit, it can lead to chaos and no results. Or if our plan is too rigid it may trigger the drill sergeant which can lead to results but not sustainable ones.

We need to aim for somewhere in between. And it always helps to have a supportive friend to share the journey.

cub_energy_lesson03_activity2_clipart1

Burning Down The Wall

photo-18

In 2013, I took part in a fire ceremony conducted by Marcela Lobos (picture above is me with Marcela), a Chilean Shaman, that changed my life.

It was a cool September morning at the Omega Institute. Down by the lake, a fire had been started and we were instructed to find a stick.

Marcela, dressed in a colorful sarape and a beaded headband, told us that we were to choose something that we did not want to take home with us.  It could be unforgiveness, resentment, anger, ties to an old relationship, etc.

We were then instructed to breathe onto the stick to symbolically transfer that which was to be left behind into the stick.  Then, one at a time, we were to step up, kneel down and place our stick into the fire.

But there was one more thing we had to do.

When one knelt down at the fire, another of us was to come up and stand behind her to cover her back.  This was a form of protection, because our sister, kneeling at the fire, was in a vulnerable position.

When I heard this, I began to weep as I suddenly realized that I had never felt like anyone had my back.

Standing there with tears streaming down my face, I knew this was something I needed to change.

The part of my soul that was weeping longed for authentic human connection, with myself as well as others. But that was impossible because of the wall I had up.  I needed to know that I was ok and that someone was on my side.

When I was younger, I had trusted only to get stabbed in the back. I had been hurt and betrayed so I had chosen not to be vulnerable with the people in my life.  Up came the wall.

I realized vulnerability was not only what would bring down this wall I had built, it was the key to learning how to trust and to living a happier life.

Vulnerability takes practice. It is uncomfortable, it can be messy.  And I  often don’t get it right.  I learned that it is not good to be vulnerable with just anyone.  I can count on one hand the people with whom I can be completely vulnerable.

Practicing vulnerability has deepened my relationships and brought a level of joy I haven’t felt before.

I have learned that life is more fun and less stressful when we can just be who we are and trust that we have people in our life who have our back.

 

 

 

 

Unexpectedly Feminist

11000619_10153404350926509_90509081951186581_n

I am not a feminist. I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and came to believe that a feminist was an angry, bra-burning woman who hated men.

I love men.  Some of my favorite people in the world are men; my husband, son, dad and brothers are at the top of the list.  So I decided long ago that I was not a feminist.

But what is feminism really?

The definition is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.”

This brings me to Patricia Arquette’s Oscar speech.  She said:

“To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America!”

Feminism is not about women being angry and demanding our due.

Patricia Arquette is talking about advocating for ourselves just as vigorously as we do for our loved ones and the causes that we feel so passionately about.  It is about us knowing our worth and working toward receiving the same treatment and pay as men.

We have, for too long, gone quietly about our business take caring of everyone else, giving ourselves what’s left, only to find there is nothing left.

It is time to stop being stingy with our compassion and acceptance when it comes to ourselves.

We must give ourselves permission to ask for what we want but first we must know what we want.

It is time we speak up and let our voices be heard without judging ourselves as arrogant or self-centered.

It is time we help lift each other up and stop calling women who assert themselves a bitch.

Go for that thing that may seem out of reach.  Celebrate yourself if you get it. Heap yourself with the same compassion you give others if you don’t.  Then go out and try again.

If we live our lives modeling feminism then not only will our daughters learn to do the same but our sons will grow up to be feminists too.  We owe it to ourselves to do this, we owe it to future generations.

 

Changing The Golden Rule

You’ve heard of the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?   All I can say is it must have been a man who thought this up because no woman in her right mind would ever say anything so stupid.

I agree that the Golden Rule is positive in most situations.  In dealing with the people I encounter, I try to be calm, polite and kind.  All traits I appreciate in others when interacting with me.

However, recently I took issue with my husband treating ME as HE would want to be treated. Specifically when it came to my birthday.

When my husband and kid’s birthdays roll around, I try very hard to give them a special day. When the kids were younger, we had parties. Now that they’re older, they choose between dinner at their favorite restaurant or dinner at home with me making whatever they choose.  And the same goes for my husband.

With my birthday so close to Christmas, it has always seemed to get lost. With all the hoopla over the holidays, everyone is too tired and partied out to have yet another party, including myself.  As an adult, I have learned to accept this.  Or so I thought.

This year, I felt resentful as I thought about my upcoming birthday.  When I looked to see what the cause was, I realized the past few years, my birthday dinner consisted of takeout pizza.  I love pizza, don’t get me wrong, but on my birthday?!

When I thought about how my husband wanted to spend his birthdays recently, I noticed he doesn’t care to make a big deal out of it.  I realized he was treating my birthday the same way.  He didn’t understand that I wanted something more than takeout food.

I knew I needed to have a conversation telling him that I did not want to be treated like he wants to be treated. I wanted to be treated the way I want.

All that meant was either choosing to go out for dinner or having him cook dinner at home, NO TAKEOUT!

In case you’re wondering, he cooked our family a delicious meal of artichokes french, jambalaya and tiramisu. My favorite foods with my favorite people!  It was the best birthday ever because I felt heard and honored! Not only by the people I love but by myself as well. (And it was extra special because my husband doesn’t often cook.)

Where are you expecting your partner to treat you as you treat them?  A hint: Start by looking at where you’re feeling resentful.  Speak up and practice asking to be treated the way you want.

Remember the Golden Rule of Relationships: Do unto your partner as you would have them do unto you, unless they tell you otherwise.

 

 

Better To Be Honest Than “Nice”

In a recent conversation with business women, we examined, at a networking event, how to deal with someone who is only looking to sell and has no real interest in anyone else.

The following suggested replies were offered:

• Tell the person you need to talk to someone on the other side of the room and you’ll catch them later.

• Excuse yourself for a personal need.

• Tell the person you don’t want to monopolize their time, suggesting you re-connect at another time to continue the conversation.

I suggested answering honestly. Tell the person you are not a potential client but would be happy to keep them in mind if you come across someone who might seek their services.

Wanting to be “nice” came up next. According to clinical psychologist George Simon, “Nice people tend to let things slide because they don’t want to seem harsh, but as the saying goes: Give people an inch, and they’ll take a mile.” Be “nice” and you resent the person for having to endure a coffee meeting or hoping they will stop contacting you.

The true definition of nice is pleasant, good natured and kind. For many, “nice” has become a strategy to be liked, avoiding conflict. That makes it more about us than the other person.

Learn a new way of being. Pay attention to your own behavior. Notice when you’re being honest and when you’re not. Recognize that it is possible to be polite, respectful and honest. By doing this, we honor the other person and empower ourselves.

It can be uncomfortable when we begin to practice being honest. Start being honest with those whom you are comfortable, for example your spouse, your friends or a trusted co-worker. As your comfort increases, extend the practice to people with whom honesty is more challenging.

 This was published in the Democrat and Chronicle on October 28, 2014.  The Women at Work column is written by members of the Rochester Women’s Network (rwn.org).

Keeping Up With Somebody

I recently heard an interview with Tim McGraw where he said something that made me angry. He said he always knew he wanted to be somebody.

Does that mean that there are people who aren’t somebody? What does that make them? Nobody?

Chances are we’ve all said or heard this saying and I’m sure Mr. McGraw didn’t set out to tick me off. But I was curious about what got me all riled up.

I notice that I feel the same way when I watch TV shows like the Real Housewives of Wherever and the Kardashians.

Why do we care so much about these people?

It seems to me we are a society obsessed with fame and trying to be somebody.

If fame can’t be achieved by getting on a reality show, then some people try getting on TV by leaking a sex tape, doing some idiotic stunt or, heaven forbid, an act of violence. There’s no such thing as bad publicity, right?

We wonder why so many people in this country have mounting debt. We’re all just trying to keep up with the Kardashians.

As an adult with half a brain, I realize that these shows are anything but reality and are on the air because they make the networks money.

However, children and teens can fall victim to thinking they are a nobody because they cannot live the same lifestyle as the people they watch on TV.

As a volunteer with women in jail, the majority come from abuse and addiction. A lot of them don’t know how to live (or parent their children) because they were never parented.

Are these women somebody? According to Tim McGraw and I dare say our society, I would guess no. It’s too easy to dismiss and forget about those who are struggling to live; the homeless, the mentally ill, alcoholics, drug addicts.

What is missing from our society and culture that is creating this?

I believe it is because we have forgotten our inherent worthiness. What does that mean?

It means that just by our mere presence on this planet, we are somebody.

Worthiness is something that is born in each of us. It cannot be taken away but we can forget that it is our birthright.

We think that if we are famous and have adoring fans, then we will feel and, therefore be, worthy. Then we will be happy right?

But what if those fans never come? Or what if they come and then go away? This is a set up for disaster.

How many stars have turned to drugs or alcohol when they found themselves no longer relevant?

If we know our true worth, then it doesn’t matter how many followers we have on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Even if we lose them all, we will know that we are still somebody.

How do you measure your self-worth? What can we do as parents and a society to help our children cultivate a healthy self-worth?

What do you need to do to be somebody in your own life?

Why DO I Write?

I am participating in a blog hop this week. The theme is “Why I Write”. At the end of this, you will find other women business owners who are also participating.

I came out of childhood thinking that who I was was not ok.

I was thin as a child but I thought I was fat. At least that’s what my brothers and kids at school said.

When I was 10, I had a teacher who chided us for answering a question wrong by laughing and saying sarcastically, “My, isn’t that a gem of wisdom.” I felt average at best.

I learned to stay quiet and invisible so as not to subject myself to humiliation, ridicule or abuse.

Dr. Brené Brown’s research revealed that vulnerability is the only road that leads to living a whole-hearted life.

You mean the only way I can be joyous and fulfilled is to be vulnerable? This does not compute! And you can’t make me!

The child in me is still afraid of not getting it right and being made fun of or ticking someone off and being punished.

I can choose not to coach, not to write and live a quiet life of desperate agony. This I know all too well.

But there comes a time when the pain of not speaking up is stronger than the risk of being vulnerable.

I now consciously choose to be authentic and vulnerable and risk putting myself out there. I choose to write because I am tired of being afraid of being hurt and hiding who I am.

Because of the work I’ve done on myself, I now have the privilege of teaching others how to overcome their fear of vulnerability. Through my work as a coach, I help others shed their limiting beliefs and step into their authenticity.

Each successive blog post I’ve written has gotten more and more vulnerable for me.  I try not to compare myself to other bloggers, coaches or anyone who may seem more vulnerable than I. (Iyanla Vanzant says that when we compare ourselves to someone else it is a form of violence against oneself.)

So why do I write? I write to face my fear of not being being liked, being wrong and upsetting people. I write so that others who feel the same way don’t have to feel alone anymore.

I write to be seen and heard. I write because I have to.

Below are the names of the women participating in the blog hop. I hope you will take the time to check out their blogs.

Ileana Ferreras is a powerful coach who has been transforming lives since 2006. She is passionate about partnering with people who are ready to create the life they truly desire.  Ileana asks the questions that clarify goals while tackling the limiting mindsets that prevent their fulfillment. This winning combination causes clients to design and follow through on the actions that produce breakthrough results.
http://www.imagineandfulfill.com/blog/

Joleene Moody is a client closing expert, business coach and speaker. She helps women entrepreneurs significantly increase their income by finding or creating speaking engagements — and then converting attendees to high paying clients.

Facebook Frustration

I am sick of Facebook. I can’t go on without getting frustrated and annoyed.

My annoyance is so bad at times that I won’t go on Facebook for weeks at a time. Then I feel like a schmuck because I find out my elderly aunt has been sick and I didn’t see my cousin’s post.

When it seems like someone else is MAKING me feel a certain way, I know I have to take a look at myself. I have a choice to be a victim or be responsible for my interpretation of the situation.

These are my interpretations that are making me crazy!

I feel like everyone on Facebook has life figured out. They have the perfect job, the perfect family and are taking the perfect vacations. Everything in their life is perfect!

I know for a fact that some of the people coming across as perfect are far from it. They are choosing to put on a mask of perfection for whatever reason. Pride, vanity, to avoid shame and embarrassment if they admitted the truth?

I also get sick of those who are constantly complaining about their boss, their job, their friend, their co-worker, whoever has done them wrong. This sort of post seems to get responses from those who want to get the scoop and pass on the gossip and those who want to console the one who’s been “wronged.”

Of course, this is all done keeping the perpetrator’s identity anonymous, but you know who you are. And so does everyone else. And if you can’t figure it out just message them and they’ll tell you. DRAMA!

Ok, now it’s time for me to be a grown up.

Have you heard the one where if we can’t be with something in another person then that’s a part of us we can’t be with? In other words, if I look on my side of the street, I will see where I am doing those very things that really irk the heck out of me.

Am I guilty of putting on the mask of perfection? It hurts to admit it but yes. Yup, nothing to see here, I’ve got it all handled. A big LOL here!

I post about my wonderful kids and husband and they are wonderful, and imperfect. My husband and I have been together for 30 years now and I would be lying if I said we had it all figured out. We are still working on how to communicate on a deeper level other than what happened at work, on the golf course or at the grocery store.

I love both my kids and there are times I say “really?” when my daughter shows up with yet another hair color or mumble “dumb ass” under my breath when my son recounts his antics with his buddies.

And what about the drama? Even though I have been trying hard not to complain to others, there are times that complaints are just bouncing around in my head.

Debbie Ford said, “what we resist, persists.” When I try not to verbally complain and push away any mental complaints it just makes them stronger.

Then when I go on Facebook and see someone complaining, the floodgates burst. I begin complaining about the complainers!

What do I do with all of this? On Facebook, I can and have unfriended people who are constantly complaining and seeming to want to pick fights.

But what do I do about me? I can’t unfriend myself.

First, I choose where I’m going to complain. I have a few select friends whom I can go to and say, “I just need to complain about this.” They let me be victim until I get it out. Then if they hear me complaining after that, they remind me to be responsible.

Second, there’s really nothing else to do but accept and be me. Accept my mistakes, my feelings, my foibles and my imperfection. Sounds easy right?

It would be easy if there was something I could do like run around the house 5 times and poof! Suddenly I am no longer bothered by complainers or people pretending to be perfect. No such luck.

But, as soon as I practice authenticity, I become more accepting and compassionate not only of myself but with everyone else around me. Think I’ll try that next time I’m on Facebook.

People-Pleasers Anonymous

“Hi, my name is Linda and I am a recovering people-pleaser.”

My people-pleasing was created as a child because I was looking for my mother and father’s approval. At its peak, it left me feeling tired, drained and disconnected.

I thought this was how I was supposed to live. I thought I needed to put other’s needs and opinions above my own.

Before I knew it, I found myself caring way too much about the opinions of strangers.

At times, I didn’t know who to please or what to believe. I ended up confused and wanting someone else to think for me.

For example, my father was not a golfer. He thought it was a waste of time chasing a little white ball around. He would rather be out riding his horse. My husband, on the other hand, loves golf. Horseback riding… not so much.

Who was right? Was it my dad? Was it my husband?

What if they were both right?

We all look at life through a filter. The filter I created said I needed to make other people happy in order for me to be happy. Not only is this not true, it’s a set up for true despair.

To my dad, golf was a waste of his time because he did not enjoy golfing. To my husband, horseback riding did not bring him the same joy as golfing.

There are endless examples in the world. One person says GM cars are the best, another says Ford and others say BMW. Still others say don’t drive, take the bus or ride your bike.

Look at all of the opportunities we have to choose what’s right or wrong, good or bad for US.

In my peak people-pleasing days, getting it right meant constantly trying to figure out what the person in front of me wanted to hear. This meant that no one got the real, authentic, speaking-my-truth Linda.

I didn’t even know what my truth was so I came across as bland as plain yogurt.

And that was how life occurred for me, bland, no rainbows, no kittens, no chocolate almond ice cream! I learned that it is our thoughts and opinions that add flavor and spice to the world.

The great thing about my filter is that I created it so I can choose to create something different. Now I get to explore MY truths, opinions and likes.

By losing our people-pleasing filter, we are able to step into our authentic power. And by doing that, we inspire others to do the same.

That is truly what the world needs now, not a bunch of “yes” men.

Food For Thought

It’s Spring! Before you know it, it will be time to break out the shorts and swimsuits. Nothing like the thought of having to give up the bulky sweaters and winter coat to create the motivation to get into shape.

Having literally been in hibernation due to illness this winter, I feel like a bear who is emerging from a cave. Unfortunately however, I have not been living off my fat stores. This bear is out of shape and overweight. Wow, that was hard to put out there.

I have had an up and down relationship with food and weight since I was 12 years old and someone called me “pleasingly plump.” I still can’t believe anyone actually said that to a kid.

I remember being taken to Lane Bryant to shop for clothes. Nothing against the store, it has beautiful clothes. But as soon as I figured out that the store was for “bigger” women, I marked myself as fat.

Between 8th and 9th grade my weight didn’t shift but my figure did. No one else thought I was fat except me.

Thus began an endless string of diets. When I was pregnant, it was a relief to be able to eat what I wanted. And it was torture watching the number on the scale go up.

After my second child was born, I was overweight and uncomfortable and decided to join Weight Watchers. It was a wonderful program that helped me plan my meals and I was able to get down to a reasonable weight.

I have been fairly successful in maintaining my weight until I became ill this past November.

As I begin to feel better, I’d like to learn to feel comfortable in my own skin. I have begun by questioning my relationship with food. It turns out how I eat has a lot in common with how I live my life.

I am a planner. I feel most comfortable and safest when I know exactly what’s going to happen. I don’t do well when surprise cake, cookies or pizza show up. I think that’s why I did so well on Weight Watchers.

Planning works until my rebellious shadow kicks in and says, “I’m tired of you depriving me of a good time and good food! Who cares what you weigh!” Suddenly all bets are off.

In life, my pattern has been to go along to get along, push through and restrict and not listen to myself until I reach the breaking point. Then my rebel says “Screw it! I’m going to do what I want! I’ve had enough!”

Although I call myself a spiritual person, I don’t feel safe in the unknown. Because I like to be in control, I have a tough time surrendering to my Higher Power.

Unfortunately, God doesn’t send out emails with an update of what’s to take place in my life that day, week, month or year.

By choosing to practice surrender and trust, I can cultivate the faith that God is in all things, especially the future.

I am a secretive eater. People rarely see me eat sweets or foods that I consider “bad.” I’m afraid they will think “Wow, she really should not be eating that! Take that cupcake away and get that woman a celery stick instead!”

In life, I have always had a passion to learn more about God and how to live a life that is authentic for me and help others do the same. I felt resistance to following that passion because I am not only afraid of what others will think but I had fear of failing, not being good enough and being rejected by the world and even those I love.

So I would hide. I wouldn’t talk about my dreams or my fears. And I wouldn’t talk about God. I did NOT want anyone to see me as a Holy Roller!

I put on a happy face to look as if all is well even though I was miserable inside. Until I decided I couldn’t take living this way anymore and began working with a coach.

Since becoming a coach myself and doing the work to connect with myself and especially God, I am now living a more authentic and joy-filled life.

Practicing not using food to numb my feelings helps.

I have once again set out to get myself in shape. I’m not sure what that will look like but I know I am older, wiser and will be more compassionate with myself.

My plan is to listen to me and listen for God. And to ask myself questions such as, am I getting in shape for me? For others? For God? How will being fit and healthy impact my relationship with God? With others? With myself?

If you’re interested, I definitely recommend reading Ganeen Roth’s book Women, Food and God and following her guidelines along with me.

We’re in this together. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help you on your journey to God, health, fitness and the life you are meant to live!