Short ‘n sweet. And, of course, made with love…the most powerful force in the universe.
What will YOU do for love today?
Short ‘n sweet. And, of course, made with love…the most powerful force in the universe.
Let me start here:: I know I’m pretty good-looking. (And if this is your first time visiting my blog, WELCOME! And I want to assure you that I don’t typically start my posts with conceit.)
But it’s an important place to start.
I’m actually in a pretty ideal place of attractiveness, truth be told. I can generally feel good about myself, and am not SO good-looking that it’s a problem.
I have friends, clients and colleagues who experience their overtly good looks as a serious impediment to being taken seriously, to being empathized with and to being celebrated for their brilliance.
That makes me pretty mad. And we move through it.
I also have friends, clients and colleagues who experience their perceived LACK of overtly good looks as a serious impediment to being taken seriously, to being empathized with and to being celebrated for their brilliance.
That ALSO makes me pretty mad. And we move through it.
Yesterday, I received an email from someone stating I was not a candidate to be on her show because, well, I don’t meet the criteria of being “strong visually”.
So…like I said in the title of this post, I was either just called ugly. Or uninteresting. Or unpopular. Or all of the above.
The first three drafts of this post had much to say about the hypocrisy of this woman. Her show. Her mandate.
But they didn’t make it past the editing stage. Too many swears. Not enough substance.
And ultimately? I get it. TV requires boundaries. Baselines. Limits. And tough, tough, tough skin.
(I also get that “not strong visually” is not ACTUALLY the same as “ugly”. But I’m working on that “tough skin” piece and have miles to go.)
And being called ugly, or uninteresting, or unpopular, or all of the above hurt.
But it wasn’t just my vanity that had me sobbing to my husband last night like tears were going out of style. I was over THAT by the time I’d rounded up my sisters (and sister) who took on my hurt with the love, rage and righteous indignation of a thousand wounded Mama Bears (bless them all) freeing me up to feel underneath it.
Here’s what I found that had me doubled over the chopping block in tears::
There are women with ideas far wiser, wider and more profound than mine that are keeping them to themselves because they don’t feel they are beautiful enough, smart enough, accomplished enough to be seen and heard.
I’ll repeat myself from my TEDx talk:: that to me, is UNACCEPTABLE.
Like, can’t BREATHE, unacceptable. Crying as I type this, unacceptable. Gasping for breath, unacceptable.
Please, please, please::
SAY WHAT YOU NEED TO SAY. WE NEED YOU.
And also, I know this. At my very very very best, I try to shine some love ‘n light towards the woman who may well be in her own world of hurt. Maybe she has felt the sting of being passed over for her looks and finds using words like the ones she used on me soothes it. Or maybe she likes efficiency. But really, it kinda feels like there is a belief operating that we can’t both be happy with who we are. That we need to be on opposite sides.
I come back to this. Can we once again, please try to find a kinder, gentler way forward? Lighter words? More heart? Sisters, can we please put away the scissors?
Two more requests::
1) I’m not interested in a debate about whether or not I am attractive…frankly, my ego couldn’t take it. And it’s boring. And reductive. (Plus, as above, I am at home with my brand of attractiveness, so honestly, I don’t need to know what others think of my looks…and I also hope you hear the love in this request.)
2) If this HAS helped you in any way, will you please let me know? It will make the impending vulnerability hangover that much more bearable. Moreover, will you tell me if this inspired you to be kinder, gentler and more loving to someone in your life? Thank you. Thank you.
PS – It’s the wildly gorgeous, talented and brilliant Susannah Conway’s birthday today and she has invited me and some other sisters to write about the empowerment of aging. And though that’s not what this post was about, I think it’s my 41 years that gave me the courage to press publish.
Knowing what you want is a seriously propulsive and powerful force. Desire’s like that. When we know what we want, we can set course and in most cases, make it happen, Cap’n.
How living the life you love and loving the life you live requires you to know what you want.
Often what we think we want and what we ACTUALLY want are separated by a vast expanse of shoulds.
I should want.
I should do.
I should have.
I should be.
Ugggggggh. And NO.
You were not created with your complex helix structures of synapses and strands of values and strengths and tastes and aptitudes to fit into someone (ANYONE) else’s protocol for happiness, health, success, love, or freedom.
No no and NO.
And I know that seems harsh…it’s easier to IMAGINE that we know what we want, right? Because NOT knowing what we want can feel, I believe the clinical term is sucky.
In a world that seems to demand you to know what you want with all the good graces of a school yard bully, your uncertainty can feel like a sign of weakness. Like, there’s something wrong with you if you don’t know what it is, with great decisiveness.
No no and NO.
It is not. As long as you are living, breathing and doing, you are in process. You are discerning what works for you, and moreover, what doesn’t work for you.
Let’s take a look.
You are wholly, completely, absolutely and gorgeously unique. No one ever, ever, has walked in your shoes. Only you know what you are made of…and what brings you true joy.
We tend to think of inspiration on the same level as “hobby”. When all the needs of life are met (like EVERYONE’S needs), THEN I can spend some time scanning my life for inspiration.
No no and NO.
Knowing what inspires you breathes life into your being and stokes the flames of desires. Essential.
Who do you admire? What about them inspires you?
What are your go-to sources to lift your spirits? What about that inspires you?
This isn’t about comparing and despairing. This is about listening to your pulse.
I love yoga and I love heat. I should love Bikram yoga, right?
Oh HELL no.
The rigidity. The predictability. The 26 poses (twice). Every class scripted to precisely 90 minutes, in any studio around the world. Being told when you may sip your water (which, at 105 degrees, you’d like to do more often). Being told you may not leave the room.
No no and NO.
The first time I went, I hated it. But I knew many people who loved it. Surely there was something wrong with me. I could see what they loved…the very rigidity and predictability that I abhorred. But what a monstrously good challenge.
So I went again. Hated it. Hated it so much I sank another $250 in a 10-class pass to win myself over.
Shockingly, that didn’t work.
That was then.
Quitting doesn’t make you a flake. Changing your mind doesn’t mean you’re a flake. You’re a complex human being learning to find your way home. We all are.
I can count on one hand the number of vision boards I’ve done in my life. Four. Yup. Four.
In all honesty, three of those times were for the same reason I did Bikram twelve times. I thought I should love it. What’s not to love? Limitless possibilities. Expansive thinking.
In this case, I didn’t hate it. I just didn’t GET it.
Until last night.
My daughter wanted to make a “happy board” with me. So out came the pile of magazines that have been gracing my office shelves.
Letting go and just being with the intention of heeding my heart’s call (should it be calling) revealed a startlingly clear representation of what I HAVE been wanting. In black and white and technicolour clarity. With some surprises (where did that banjo come from?)
Try this instead:: What do I want TODAY?
Slow and steady…you’re gaining on it.
Tricky. To be sure.
Knowing what I want, when I do, feels euphoric. It offers context and bearings. And it also requires me to hold it loosely.
If I want impeccability, the mess of happy children will surely be too much.
If I want only laughter, then loving deeply and risking sadness is unreasonable.
If I want certainty, I’ll miss the honey of uncertainty.
Yes yes and YES.
Living the life I love and loving the life I live requires me to know what I want. And don’t want.
It’s clear that the vision for my perfect life allows for vast swatches of imperfection. (And apparently, a banjo.)
This post is part of Katie den Ouden’s beauteous blogtour devoted to sharing the work and words of some fantastic bloggers on the topics of feeding your soul, freeing your body + loving your life. I know and deeply love Lindsey and Meg’s work already, and have enjoyed expanding my roster of inspiration by sinking into the posts from Natalie, Robin, Erin, Audrey, Jennifer. Follow the tour…you may even decide to join Katie’s 21-Day Freedom Challenge (I will be).
Limits offer parameters. They create order and safety and understanding. Limits can be helpful structures that, at their best, serve to cordon off danger, clearly delineating where something ceases to be safe. Knowing where the line lives can be quite empowering.
Speed limits. Alcohol limits. Bandwidth.
“I mean, most parents would be proud of a kid like that – good-lookin’ and smart and everything, but they gave in to him all the time. He kept trying to make someone say ‘No’ and they never did. They never did. That was what he wanted. For somebody to tell him ‘No.’ To have somebody lay down the law, set the limits, give him something solid to stand on. That’s what we all want, really.” – S. E. Hinton
Yeah. We can stand solidly in a limit. And FOR a limit.
Enough is a powerful proclamation.
Most limits are rooted in ancient cultural traditions, maths and sciences. They often represent our best guesses at the time that they were decreed. And still, they are mostly human constructs…and we know how fallible humans can be.
By definition, limits create scarcity. Within the container of limits, there’s only so much space, creativity, money, opportunity, room at the top to go around.
And when we buy into the structure of scarcity…well, you know how well that tends to work.
“Argue for your limitations, and sure enough they’re yours.” – Richard Bach
What’s not to love about limitlessness? It means that everything is possible. Imagine that. REALLY imagine that. You can create anything, ANYTHING you want. From here. With exactly what you have. An infinite array of choices and options and chances and outcomes are yours if you just make up your mind and set course.
Just like that.
(Did that paragraph set your heart ablaze, or have you wanting to hide under your duvet? Either response is perfectly sane.)
“For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.” – Carl Sagan
The reality is that the very notion of limitlessness often creates a sense of agoraphobia. Untethered existence and uncharted territory CAN feel very isolating. For some. Which is why we created limits in the first place. We can’t wrap our heads around this magnitude of possibility, so we create structures to contain things. Rules and constructs. Glass ceilings. Social stratification. Beliefs. Whether we realize it or not.
And here’s the funny thing about limitlessness…we may feel like we’re operating from there…until we hit an edge. We may not even be entirely aware that we’ve hit an edge.
Sometimes we feel literally stopped and blocked and can get the help we need to see our way up, over, or around it. But sometimes it’s more insidious…and we can only sense it when we catch ourselves saying can’t, shouldn’t, always, never or some other action-stopper. But when we realize it? Oh, how that stings. The pain of being here again. Knowing that a choice needs to be made. Rest here or break on through to the other side.
NB:: They can feel like the same thing (the way extreme cold can feel like extreme heat) but with one massive difference:: excitement fills your being whereas dread depletes it.
Once you have that clear, you’ll know what to do. Either::
Your being knows even when your mind isn’t entirely certain.
Why The Ampersand Series? - As a Libran Life Coach, I’m pre-programmed to see both sides…of everything. This can be an annoying trait to my nearest and dearest who just want to vent to me, but it can be a massive service to my clients. Blessing & Curse. (Which, by the way, I can see in everything). So much of my writing touches on polarity. This & That.
Enter The Ampersand Series. Blog posts that shine a light on both sides:: Effort & Surrender. Limits & Limitlessness. Easy & Hard. An invocation to find our own places of discernment between the extremes. To love our ampersands. If this speaks to you, sign up to receive my posts. So much more to come.
Dear “Who, me?” –
Hello old friend. I’d love to say it’s good to see you again, but this letter is about being honest. So, I can’t start with an untruth. I’ll start here instead.
Don’t get me wrong. You’ve been a faithful and loyal companion. Every time something wonderful has come along, or an opportunity has landed in my lap, or I’ve been complimented, you’ve been there with me, by my side. How do I know? Because beneath your veils of innocence, you’ve always delicately but clearly asked:: “Who, me?”
Oh, I get it. You’ve wanted to keep me humble. You’ve wanted to make sure that I’ve stayed on my game, never resting on my laurels…whatever that looks like. Your seemingly innocuous “who, me?” does a magnificent job of taking the wind out of my sails. It’s a mighty wind, but you’re truly powerful. You with your wide doe eyes.
I know that you’re just one member of the Impostor Complex clan that lives in my being. I know your kin:: “I’m not ready”, “I got lucky” and “they’ll find out that I’m a fake soon enough”. Your sweet softness masks the sharpest edge though, “Who, me?”.
At my best, I remember to receive compliments with the two words feared most by the Impostor Complex :: thank you. At my worst, YOUR two words send me back to the recesses of my insecurities. To dark places. Who, me? indeed.
If I sound fed up, it’s because I am, “Who, me?”. I truly thought we were through a while back. I thought you’d packed up your bags and moved along.
But when Ronna said she was traveling across three time zones to spend the weekend earlier with me this month, I heard you in the arrangement-making conversations. Your whispered “who, me?” echoed her every response.
Me:: What do you want to see while you’re here?
Ronna:: Just you.
You:: (Who, me?)
Who do you want to see?
What do you want to do?
Be with you.
You’ve been a steadfast teacher. You keep sending me to dark corners of my self to show me where there is lack. To keep my God-given light hidden from me…the very light that others can see so clearly. But it’s through your work on me that I can actually see that my mind, my heart, and my light are quite enough to bring all of the joys that I desire in this life.
And I can see this::
It’s that light that brings me the opportunities, grace, acknowledgments and gifts that I desire. And so it’s standing in that light that I will hold my arms wide open to receive.
I’m coming to see you.
We’d like to interview you.
You got the gig.
Write the book.
I’ve wanted to work with you for years.
I made this for you.
I love you.
So, yeah. We’re through “Who, me?”.
I’ve learned what I’ve needed to learn and I release you. May you transform into a kinder, more compassionate way of teaching. And may the outcome of your work be the same:: that the next person you visit be empowered to stand in their light and to root deeply and firmly into YES. Me. For good.
This post is part of the Let it Go Project: a collection of stories leading up to a beautiful releasing ritual, hosted by Sas Petherick on the 30th of January. All the details for this free event are here. Be inspired by other posts in this project, and share what you are ready to let of of on the Let it Go Project Community Page. For good.
We want to be received for the fullness of who we are. There can be no doubt.
Never is this more palpable than when we are complimented for a certain way of being. In the moment and at our best, we receive it and feel appreciated. (Even as we may squirm a little in discomfort. Yeah, it’s what we do.) But how many times have you gone back to the compliment and felt a pang of longing for a more panoramic view of your being? A pang of “but I’m so much more than just ______, aren’t I?” A desire to be seen for the whole being that you are.
There’s an excellent chance that that very compliment is one of the formative labels that you were assigned when you were very, very young. (There may have been more, but it’s the one you heard the most often.) You wore it with intention as a way of being understood and seen in the world.
“Little Miss Sunshine”? Check.
It’s been a home base of sorts. When you go to a party, you know how you’re supposed to act. What’s expected of you. Bring the lampshade, Wild One.
But the compliment feels incomplete because it IS incomplete. It is but one shining facet of the brilliance that you are.
No, no, please don’t disown it. It’s the stock base of the soup that is your deliciousness. But it’s just ONE part of the soup. It’s the other ingredients that give it depth and substance. The otherselves that you keep high on the shelf for fear that people won’t like the taste.
Take some time to consider the following::
And one final place to look: what assumptions are you making about what people expect of you?
Next time, see what happens when you leave the lampshade at home.
We’re diving much, much deeper into the realm of labels, projections and assumptions in Worship Wisely. Early registration is NOW OPEN, only for subscribers to our Worship Wisely email list. (The good news: it’s not too late to get on the list.) And we’re offering an exclusive bonus for the first 20 people who register: 1-on-1 coaching with me AND Lauren Bacon. (That’s a $200 value.) Sign up here for full details.
Most of my clients are reticent to take action that will run the risk of compromising their strong value(s) of connection. I get it. Fully and completely.
So when they feel called forth to step into their starring roles, they tend to look at a belief that when they start to gain a bigger audience — a wider platform or generally become more successful (in whatever metrics that support their vision) — their time will be strained, they’ll be required to be less accessible and they’ll become more disconnected.
This can be an unsettling place to look.
Because their fear isn’t JUST about losing connection with others (which is more than weighty enough, thank you very much.)
It’s also about what happens when people disconnect from us.
Take the following narrative, played out on the cover of any tabloid, at any time, in any grocery store.
A Hollywood starlet begins her ascent as her talents are noticed and appreciated. Then she starts to become revered. Maybe even adored. Possibly worshipped. And then, something begins to shift. The tides turn and she becomes the target of mean-spirited gossips. Fat-shaming. Lies and scandal. The bigger the star, the more vitriolic the attacks.
Mean sells, after all.
The message is clear. The greater the heights, the more popular you become, the greater the risk of being cut down to size.
From worshiped to condemned.
Who wants that?
It’s not just the fate of Hollywood stars, though, is it? Academics, entrepreneurs, blog stars, artists…we see it all the time. Pushed off of the stage that they have earned, or shoved off of the pedestals onto which they were forced.
They become too popular and then they are attacked by the critics who fling their assaults from the safety of anonymity.
For their weight.
For going mainstream.
For not staying in a box.
People were saying things like “Less research, more Botox” and “Maybe you’ll be ‘worthy’ in 20 pounds.” And they all were anonymous, which is such—well, crapola! I’m not going to cuss, but it’s chicken. So one day I sent my husband, Steve, to work, I sent my kids to school, and I sat on the couch in my pajamas and watched ten hours of Downton Abbey. I ate some peanut butter. I was like, This is not worth it, man. I’m not doing this anymore. I didn’t want to go back to my world, where all that hurt was. So instead I started googling to find out what was happening in the United States during the Downton Abbey period. That’s when I found the Theodore Roosevelt quote. He said, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…. [And] if he fails, at least fails while Daring Greatly.” In that moment, my life changed. You know when you hear something and you’re just ready?
Yes. Yes I do. (You too?)
(BTW:: Alexandra Franzen has done the most magnificent job of smacking down hate-blogging cyber-bullies.)
Well, if you’ve read this post, you may have seen yourself where you disconnect from those you admired.
Part of the reason this happens is due to the fact that we may have projected our desires onto them.
We see someone doing something that we admire we may feel an affinity towards them, possibly because they are so relatable. And they model something that we deeply want. Mastery, excellence, authority, or talent. And we may feel a gap from where we are to where they are. A gap that wants to be filled by connection and proximity. But when that’s not available to us, we try to fill the gap with projections. Beliefs about that person. Stories.
“What would ______ do?” can be a powerful question to hotlink you to the value that the person represents for you, but it’s not TRUTH. It’s still story.
And it’s not connection. It’s projection.
Which is the genesis of disconnection. The very antithesis of what we were trying to achieve in the first place.
Because somewhere along the line, we start to believe that story. And rest assured that said story won’t align with the subject of our admiration’s actions. So, the bloom falls off of the rose. What happens next depends on the cast of characters involved.
Connecting the dots between how we can perceive and treat others and how we expect we’ll be perceived and treated is the objective here. Once we can see that clearly, then we are free to see and heal the fears we have about stepping into our own starring roles.
Which I’m willing to bet, is what you’re wanting for yourself in 2014.
If you’d like to move from compare-and-despair to inspiration, celebration, and connection, please join us for a free preview class on Friday, January 24 at 9:00 am Pacific time / 12:00 pm Eastern.
We’ll be jamming live on Spreecast – here’s the link to join us: http://www.spreecast.com/events/worship-wisely-preview-call Bring your aches, your observations, and most of all, your questions.
And in the meantime, get your copy of our Worship Wisely starter kit by hopping over here and subscribing to the list.
Everywhere you look, here, there, everyone’s talking about the New Year.
Word of the year.
Scent of the year.
Intention of the year.
Goals and resolutions.
It’s easy to see why it’s such a fecund topic. It’s (mostly) universally accepted as the time to set our sights on getting “it” right.
Intellectually, we know that there are actually 365 days in a year to get it right, but until we replace “Happy New Year” shouts to the neighbours with “Happy new day to make it all happen in the next 364 days” greetings, we’ve got what we’ve got.
And as though we all hold each other in a set of collective agreements::
What I see most often though, is how our new goals are set in the past.
I want to be able run a half marathon like I used to.
I want to feel what I used to feel for my partner.
I want my work to get the same attention it used to get.
While there is huge value in recognizing the emotions attached to those desires – accomplishment, passion, recognition – the goals themselves have us headed the wrong way.
“Used to” isn’t aspirational. It’s dissonance and “used up”. It’s an old Kleenex. It’s the jeans in the back of the closet for when you hit that ideal weight…only to discover that things have shifted and they no longer fit—no matter what the scale says.
You evolve. It’s what you’re doing this very second.
Make sure your goals and desires reflect THIS new way of being, feeling, seeing and loving. That’s where your goals will meet you.
Create from here, now.
With deep roots in the experiences of our past, feet planted firmly on the ground in the present and arms outstretched towards to sky, expanding fully into what’s to come, create.
I’ve felt this forecast in my bones for some time now.
and the unwavering knowledge that you can make this year precisely what you desire. And then some.
Yes. Oh yes.
The most acute physical pain I’ve ever experienced was dropping a plate, edge-side down, on the nail of my big toe last June. It was a screaming, searing, raging HOT pain that wouldn’t allow me to find tears. Only expletives.
Eventually it subsided. And with it, the memory. I’d completely forgotten about it until this morning, when I tripped on the rug in the living room and noticed that the toe nail has broken and is peeling off at the site of impact. Which is just above the cuticle. Lovely.
The most acute emotional pain I’ve ever endured was losing my Mama. Period.
My big toe is a pretty inelegant but apt metaphor for the grief I (still) feel about my mother. Up until yesterday, if I’d have thought about it, I would have said it was healing and looking perfectly fine. We go about our days, my toe and I, but then out of the blue, the carpet buckles and the toe reminds me that it’s neither completely nor perfectly fine. No, not really. It still needs tending to. And I can get mad at the toe and tell it that it’s unreasonable that it should act up so long after the plate incident. The big toe don’t care. It’s going to come apart when it’s going to come apart.
For many around me, this year has felt heavy with loss and grief and departures.
Maybe even for you personally. The holidays are like that carpet. Beautiful to look at, but a veritable minefield of emotional tripping hazards. Recipes, songs, ornaments, traditions, cards. Every last one a reminder about where the healing is still a work in progress.
No matter how much time has elapsed.
If you are in pain, please take this time to reach out to those around you. Swaddle yourself with the warmth and care that is available to you, if you only ask for what you need. Yes, your people are indeed busy. AND they will take time for you. (And no, you are not a burden.) Please tread lightly on the carpet.
As for the rest of us, let’s ramp up our kindness quotient. As queues are long and patience is thin, let’s imagine that everyone is in some kind of pain, which accounts for short tempers and irritability. Let’s be outrageous with gratitude and generosity and kindness. Let’s smile wider, tip bigger, let someone in, pay it forward.