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Letting joy rise

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I am answering the question again.

If you really knew me, you’d know that I love you. You’d know I think about you a lot, and care about you. You’d see a true partner, someone who wants for you what you want for yourself.

You’d know that sometimes I laugh so hard that I can’t breathe…that I access my inner 10-year-old on a regular basis…that sometimes I just can’t contain my joy and it comes out in all sorts of mischievous ways.

You’d know that I practice what I preach, that I set boundaries like a boss, that I say “no” unless it’s a HELL YES!

And sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I stumble and don’t get it right.

You’d know that when I feel the funk, I see it as a sign of strength and resilience – something to be proud of – not as a sign that I am wallowing. You’d know that as crappy as it feels in the moment, I am not in a rush to NOT feel that way. You’d know that I don’t act on those feelings, I just let myself feel them.

You’d know that feeling this way is part of a rich, full, and feminine life, not something to hide, be ashamed of, resist, or medicate.

You’d want to learn how to do that, too, because as much as we all love to laugh and be silly, unless you’re willing to go to the dark side, you’ll never be fully in the light. You’d know I embrace the both/and of life. You’d see someone who wouldn’t trade ANY of it for ANYTHING.

You’d see someone who sees the wisdom of the ages in all of her emotions.

P.S. My friend Jeanne Andrus (The Menopause Guru) shared this bit of wisdom with me from Louann Brizendine, M.D.’s book “The Female Brain”:

“Some of my patients came to me feeling so jerked around by their hormones that they couldn’t work or speak to anyone because they’d either burst into tears or bite someone’s head off. Most weeks of the month they were engaged, intelligent, productive, and optimistic, but a mere shift in the hormonal flood to their brains on certain days left them feeling that the future looked bleak, and that they hated themselves and their lives. These thoughts felt real and solid, and these women acted on them as though they were reality and would last forever –even thought they arose solely from hormonal shifts in their brains.”

Jeanne says the hormonal shifts in perimenopause can be at least as dramatic, and worse, may not be as fleeting as those of the “normal” cycle.

How do you let joy rise?

Letting discomfort be my guru*

Today someone** asked me, “If your audience really knew you, they’d know and see what?”

Here’s my answer:

If my audience really knew me they’d know that I spent the day yesterday in a SERIOUS funk, full of self-doubt and confusion, wanting to be mad for no good discernible reason, wondering if I am actually seriously depressed, and feeling like every little thing I did was sending out negative ripples into the universe.

If you’d have run into me yesterday, I might have snarled at you or cried. Probably both. But I would have warned you first, and told you that it had nothing to do with you.

They’d know that I was seriously afraid that I was turning people off, that everyone was thinking, “Sheesh…all she ever writes about is shame and crying and funks…what a lot of fun she must be.”

They’d know that I journaled about it, shared it with some close friends, cried in my husband’s arms, and then felt a wee bit better.

They’d know that as hard as it was, and as “real” as it felt, and as worried about it as I was, there was another, higher part of me that trusted it would pass…that understands that hormones do, indeed, exacerbate and intensify emotions.

Because the truth is, this funk has been going on a little longer than is comfortable.

They’d know that I’m still feeling a little tender today, but better.

They’d see that I chose to let “discomfort be my guru.”

They’d see emotional resilience.

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*Thanks to Chris Zydel for that turn of phrase

**The someone is Amira Alvarez, and she has an active, fun, and helpful Facebook group for women who are in business for themselves. 

What about you? If your audience really knew, what would they know and see?

Mad Lib Manifesto! #makeascene

(From Susan Hyatt’s fill-in-the-blank “Make A Scene Manifesto”)

I want…

A life filled with belly laughs, meaningful conversations, unconditional love, and freedom.

A life that feels courageous, giddy, mischievous, joyful, and complete!

A life that I created because I can.

When it comes to…

…my body, I make time for rest, play, fuel, pleasure, and love, and say no to the idea that it needs to be any different than it is right now.

…my business, I focus on all the amazing women who are ready to learn how to fiercely love and mother themselves and clear out the belief that my worth and success are defined by others.

…my family, friends, and loved ones, I believe in and support their choices, even if it’s not something I would choose, and I refuse to make them responsible for my emotions.

I wear whatever I want to, precisely because I want to.

I choose to spend a lot of time alone because it’s right for me.

I love writing about and sharing my experiences and I don’t care who knows it.

And when I see people hurting, I speak up and let them know that I can help.

No one can make me feel less than or take away my ability to create and serve.

I am in charge of my thoughts, my emotions, my life, myself.

My life. My choices. My dreams.

I won’t hang back. Won’t be passive. Won’t be silenced.

I am here to shine and make a difference.

I am here to make a scene.

Your turn:

MAKE A SCENE – MANIFESTO
I want…
A life filled with _____________.
A life that feels like _____________.
A life that I created because I _____________.
When it comes to…
…my body, I make time for _____________ and say no to _____________.
…my career, I focus on _____________ and clear out _____________.
…my family, friends, and loved ones, I fight for _____________ and refuse to _____________.
I wear _____________ because I want to.
I choose _____________ because it’s right for me.
I love _____________ and I don’t care who knows it.
And when I see _____________ happening out in the world, I speak up and _____________.
No one has can make me feel _____________ or take away my _____________.
I am in charge of my _____________.
My life. My choices. My dreams.
I won’t hang back. Won’t be passive. Won’t be silenced.
I am here to _____________.
I am here to make a scene.

Are you okay if…?

Are you okay if someone judges you?

Makes assumptions about you?

Doesn’t understand you?

Doesn’t agree with you?

Doesn’t approve of who you are or what you do?

Isn’t fair?

Criticizes you?

Tries to scare you or guilt you or shame you into changing?

Is rude and insensitive to you?

Yes? No?

If your answer is “No, I’m not okay,” and you want to do something about it, let’s schedule a time to talk about it (no strings attached).

Schedule Session

Words You Might Want To Hear On Mother’s Day

From “An Open Letter To Pastors (A Non-Mom Speaks Out About Mother’s Day)”

Acknowledge the wide continuum of mothering:

To those who gave birth this year – we celebrate with you
To those who lost a child – we mourn with you
To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you
To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away – we mourn with you
To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.
To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you
To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you
To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you
To those who lost their mothers – we grieve with you
To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your mother – we acknowledge your experience
To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst
To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be
To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths
To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren, yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you
To those who will have emptier nests – we grieve and rejoice with you
To those who placed children up for adoption – we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart
And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising – we anticipate with you
This Mother’s Day, we walk with you.
Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst.
We remember you.

From Jo Pillmore

We all came from a Mom, right? That’s a given.
But some Moms left way too early.
While some Moms were cookie baking, show tune singing, amazing.
And still other Moms were horrible.
And some Moms fell in between the goodness and the badness. Still struggling at times to rise to the task, for whatever reason.
If you did not get what you needed from your Mom, I am truly sorry.
And if your Mom totally delivered on all 4 burners for you that’s great.
But either way, there is something you should know.
You no longer ride in the backseat of the car.
Now you know what you need as a person in this big ass world.
Now you can love and nurture yourself. Yes. Your own self.
No matter where you fall in the “My mama was. . . “ category, you are Okay.
It’s going to be okay.
Because though Hallmark will tell you otherwise, the greatest love you can receive is from yourself.

For those who miss their mothers:

“…I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was…why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner…” ~ Henry Scott Holland

For those who have broken up with their mothers, A Toast to All the Brave Kids Who Broke Up with Their Toxic Moms

“You deserve recognition for completing the hardest break-up known to the human heart. Whether it was because of an addiction, a compulsive need to put you down, an ex-communication, an inability to give and receive love, or just the turmoil of dealing with a broken woman, you did something that most people regard as taboo. And that takes courage.”

How To Be Truly Powerful When Someone Says Something You Don’t Like

I saw one of those “things you should never say to…” type articles the other day. It was entitled “13 Things No Estranged Child Needs To Hear On Mother’s Day.” Of course I read it.

But no, I am not going to link to it because it felt victim-y.

“Don’t say these things to me because I might feel bad or mad or sad.”

From the list, here’s item #9: “Some people don’t even have mothers! You’ll regret this when she’s gone.”

I get it…sometimes people say mean, rude, annoying, or thoughtless things. Sometimes they don’t know the whole story. And sure, we all wish people would think before they speak.

But these days I’d prefer to let people be who they are and say what they want to say – and change or manage my own thoughts and behavior in response – rather than scolding, should-ing, or “educating.” 

When I’ve got my big-girl panties on I am not “triggered” by what other people say, I am responsible for myself.

keep-calm-and-manage-your-mind

Managing my response means I get to choose to ignore what the person said, change the subject, or even walk away. They get to continue saying whatever they want to say.

Because good boundaries are the key to world peace.

Tweet: Because boundaries are the key to world peace. http://ctt.ec/eBtSM+

(Click here to receive a free copy of (Do No Harm, But Take No Shit) Empowered Boundaries: The Secret To Lasting Peace With Your Mother)

This infinitely more powerful than trying to control what others do or say because you might feel offended, sad, or annoyed.

What do you think?

People See Us As They Are

“People don’t see you as you are, they see you as they are.”

A blogger I’ve been following for a long time now, Michelle from Rubber Shoes In Hell, recently wrote a post about reading the comments on an article she wrote for Huffington Post. She said that many of the comments were supportive and yet there were were also many that were “breathtakingly mean.”

She also realized that, in some cases, the mean comments were spot on. Her post is an excellent example of the power of embracing our shadow selves.

Shadow Self Goddess Quilt created by  Leah Day

Shadow Self Goddess Quilt created by Leah Day

In response, I left a comment about the time I got a one-star review for my book on Amazon and I went from “crushed and embarrassed” to “she’s a bitch” to “she makes a good point” in the course of seconds. 

And recently, when an article I wrote got picked up on Yahoo’s home page, I got to have the same experience Michelle had.

The more I put myself out there, the more I am ready, willing, and able to have haters and to let them be right about me.

People see us as they are. And we see ourselves as we are.

I have nothing to protect. I have nothing to hide. I have nothing to defend. I have nothing to prove. I am free. ~ Lisa Nichols

What do you think? 

 

It’s Your Choice To Show Up As Yourself + Belong: A Message From My Dad

So there I was, this past Saturday evening, sitting in the lounge of the Villa Roma resort in Callicoon, NY, listening to Harry Pickens play the piano.

(Where the heck is Callicoon, NY, and why was I there? It’s very close to the site of the original Woodstock music festival and I was there speaking at and attending the third annual Spring Energy Event, an annual gathering for Energy Healing Practitioners created by Jondi Whitis, an Emotional Freedom Techniques practitioner and trainer who helped lead the EFT For Trauma training in Newtown, CT).

At one point Harry said he was going to play a song and he asked us to close our eyes and focus on a problem, issue, or question and to see if – while he played – anything shifted or revealed itself.

I didn’t really have a specific issue or question, so I just closed my eyes and decided to let whatever happened, happen.

What happened is that I got the overwhelming sense that my father was with me.

There wasn’t any question in my mind and I was overcome with emotion. It wasn’t until this morning, when I was thinking about the weekend, that I fully received his message and was able to accurately describe the emotion I felt.

It wasn’t grief (although I do miss him), it was relief.

My Dad – with whom I was always able to be completely and totally myself – was reassuring me that it was, indeed, okay to show up (at the Spring Energy Event and in all areas of my life) as my silly, giddy, sometimes irreverent, strong, and capable self.

I am pretty sure that I haven’t shown up that way – at least not so fully and completely – since I was about 10.

I’m sure you can relate on some level, right?

I mean, as we go through life we notice when we’re getting rewarded for acting or behaving a certain way, or when we’re NOT being rewarded…or perhaps we’re actually being chastised or punished!

And then slowly but surely we start contorting ourselves to be however those around us want us to be. So we can “fit in” and “get along” because if we don’t, well that might not be safe.

We’re constantly told to “just be yourself” but so often we don’t know who the hell we are because we haven’t actually been ourselves in so long!

I have no doubt that the reason my father came around that evening was to reinforce something that I already knew, but wasn’t acknowledging: that I had been showing up fully as myself at the Event. He wanted to make sure I knew it. He doesn’t show up very often, but when he does, the message is always very clear to me.

I was blown away by how much fun I was choosing to have, by how easily and naturally I was able to give (and receive), by how I wasn’t worried about what others thought of me, by how intently I listened, by how I was choosing to speak up clearly and honestly, by how I smiled and laughed and woooo-hoooo’ed when the spirit moved me, and by how I was choosing to belong even though I’d had fleeting moments – prior to showing up – when I thought, there’s no way I belong with these people.

Again, and again, and again, I am reminded that belonging is a choice I get to make.

sillydad

My Dad, showing up as his silly self…

Thanks Dad!

I’d love to know…how do you get in touch with the pure YOU part of yourself? Do you make the choice to belong?

 

When Body Image + Disordered Eating Issues Go Hand-In-Hand With “Mother Issues” And What To Do About It (Part 2)

Read Part 1 here.

I don’t know about you, but I spent 40+ years believing that my body was a mistake and since mistakes imply fault, I also spent a lot of time in blame mode.

When I could no longer outwardly blame my mother (because that’s not what evolved adult women do!), I outwardly blamed myself. Inwardly, however, I was still blaming her (and myself).

And then one day I asked myself…self? What if you took blame out the equation?

Talk about an empowering question!

And the reason it was so empowering is because I realized that I didn’t really want to stop blaming. It was easier to blame.

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Acknowledging that truth to myself and fully owning that I wanted to blame her showed me that I had a choice in the matter.

When we fully own that blame, anger, shame, grief…any of the so-called negative emotions are actually choices, we become powerful.

I digress…

My point is that choosing to take blame out of the equation was the first step in learning how to love and nurture myself around the issues of body image, food, and weight.

Without further ado, here are some ideas and journaling prompts for your consideration.

Examine (as best you can) your mother’s beliefs about her own body and her relationship to food. 

How did she talk to herself about her body? How did she talk about her body to you and others? Did she have a healthy relationship to food? Write down everything you remember.

Which of her beliefs and behaviors have you taken on as your own? Do they serve you or not? What do you want to believe?

Examine your own beliefs about body image, weight, and food.

What are the messages you received from your mother (and others) about your own body? What did you make those messages mean about you?

Do you agree with what your mother said about your body? Do you want to agree with her? 

What would you like to keep? What would you like to release?

Take a look at the gap between what you received and what you needed or wanted.

Is there a gap between what you received from your mother and what you needed or wanted to receive from her?

How can you fill the gap between what you received and what you need now?

Take blame out of the equation. 

Rather than blaming your mother or yourself for all the things that you think are “wrong” with you (or your body), choose to take a compassionately objective look at yourself. Rather than assigning meaning to the number on the scale or the words “good” or “bad” to the food you eat, aim for neutral.

Value yourself enough to demonstrate that your needs and wants matter. Take yourself seriously. 

Write down all the ways, big or small, you can care for yourself in a way that feels good to you. Demonstrate with your choices that you matter to yourself.

Honor your feelings. 

Whatever feelings that come up as a result of answering these questions are valid and worth your time to feel. Show compassion to yourself by allowing yourself to feel what you feel without judgment or shame.

 

When Needs + Archetypes Collide: On Contribution, Belonging + Autonomy

A week or so ago there was an interesting conversation on Facebook about what “life purpose” is. One person said that talents + helping others = your purpose.

Someone else said that this definition “pissed her off,” that buying into this idea had disempowered her, and that the concept of “helping others” is limiting.

She wrote, “Want to know what your purpose really is? It’s to be YOU. That’s it. Be YOU and you’ve served your purpose in life.”

And yet another person responded that the “talents + helping others = your purpose ” perspective comes from the helper/nurturer/caretaker archetype

I had a little ah-ha upon reading that:

Many women identify with this archetype (whether it truly suits them or not) because it’s what they think they SHOULD be…because it’s what’s valued and rewarded in women.

It’s no secret that I am NOT primarily a helper/nurturer/caretaker and yet I have spent a lot of my precious time feeling guilty because I don’t volunteer my time and talents in the traditional ways that many (most?) women do.

I don’t like sitting on boards of directors. I don’t serve on committees. I don’t volunteer at events. I don’t coordinate events.

I don’t have children.

I’ve been known to say that I am not a team player and I don’t care if there’s no “I” in team.

I recently attended a charitable event and felt a bit envious of the camaraderie (aka “belonging,” a universal human need) of the women who were involved.

The Voice inside my head said, “Well, if you got involved with this group, or some other group, maybe you’d feel like you belonged.”

Silently I responded: “I understand that contributing (helping) is another universal human need and because I am human, I need to contribute. But the way I contribute looks different than being involved with a group.”

What I know about myself is that my need for autonomy (yet another universal human need – the freedom to be and express who we are) is stronger in me than the need for belonging.

But the fact is, I need all three and I’ve wondered sometimes why it feels like they contradict each other.

Now I get it. I identify more strongly with the artist/creative and visionary archetypes and so I meet my need for contribution by writing and big-picture thinking.

I am working on not feeling the need to explain or defend the fact that I contribute, just not in a way that is obvious or traditional (although I supposed this blog post is exactly that!)

I’ve had people (family members even) berate me (subtly and not-so-subtly) or not “get it” for contributing like I do or for not doing what they think I should do.

And that’s where my need for belonging bumps up against my need for autonomy. But I am learning that I do, indeed, belong and that it’s up to me to make sure I act like it. 

What I understand now is that when I am fully comfortable and secure with who I am and the decisions I make for myself, the less likely it is that others will question me or ask me to explain myself.

And if they do, rather than being hurt, angry, or offended, I remember this quote from Lisa Nichols:

“I have nothing to protect. I have nothing to hide. I have nothing to defend. I have nothing to prove. I am free.”

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P.S. My friend Christie Inge is a “needs” guru and everything I said in the post about needs I learned from her.

What are your thoughts about this? How do you meet your needs for contribution, belonging, and autonomy? Do you know your archetype(s)?