Quiet time. I used to fear the expanse of nothingness. I didn’t want to be alone with myself and my thoughts. Then there was the belief that doing nothing was equivalent to being lazy and no one needs another negative label. I may not know everything but I do know that I am not lazy.
I don’t need to plan the rest of the day or think about the week ahead— it all can wait while I sit with this one cup. Most importantly I don’t need to know HOW or WHEN or WHY. I savor every aspect of this ten minute sensory experience.
I have written and rewritten this sentence at least fifty times. How do I express my outrage regarding the murder of George Floyd on the heels of Ahmaud Arbery and Breona Taylor’s deaths? I am more than outraged but lack a word that fully describes my combined anger, frustration, intolerance and impatience for change.
I estimate that it was four to five years ago when I first heard the term “white privilege” I already knew that my skin color granted me much more freedom than black and brown people. Have we forgotten that this country was built on genocide and slave labor? Shamefully the oppression continues. I have to do more, say more, be more, lead more, learn more.
My voice and my actions are integral to the solution.
It’s more accurate to say I knew that I held white privilege but I didn’t really know the extent of my privilege. It’s absolutely necessary that I come clean with you. Not going deep enough in my white privilege blinded me from the racist threads residing in my DNA and that I unconsciously oppress BIPOC. Absolutely f-ing blind to me and this realization makes me sick.
I have already started my undoing. I’m not telling you this for a pat on the back but rather to encourage you to take action too. While I am not afraid to speak my mind, I must reevaluate my language and my beliefs at every single and cellular level. I’ve started reading “White Fragility” by Robin Diangelo. Today I attended a seminar on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion for White Coaches led by Trudi Lebron. (Excellent!) My first goal is to be explicit in my mission as an Anti-racist woman and leader.
My Girlfriend Voice is a hate-free anti-racist platform for women.
My Girlfriend Voice supports equity, diversity and inclusion.
I will speak to hate and take action against hate and all forms of discrimination and inequity; even subtle bias. It’s likely I will make mistakes and no worries, I will be accountable for them all. I hope you have the same attitude. I will call out racism whenever and wherever I see it; even when inconvenient. It’s going to make a lot of people uncomfortable.
My Girlfriend Voice is a brave space.
I used to say that I’d created a sacred space but that term no longer seems to describe the Girlfriend Voice community. Brave is defined in the dictionary as to endure or face unpleasant conditions or behavior without showing fear. We will respectfully address all stigma-laden topics including race. This is a safe, courageous, respectful gathering place. I believe brave people welcome introspection and participation in change.
And a comment regarding “spiritual bypassing:”. I am not going to paint rainbows and sing kumbaya, sidestepping these important issues or pretending they don’t exist. Hell no. In my journey to learn, practice and teach about self-limiting beliefs and empowerment, I am going to examine historical, cultural and religious based...
Today’s blog post has been written by my guest, Lessie Miller.
I rolled out of bed on a recent Friday morning facing the paralysis existing in the outside world. The peacefulness of an ordinarily buzzing urban neighborhood juxtaposed against the wanderlust of my unsettled mind. It feels like another day of stepping into a repeat where days merge into sameness like a stuck circuit. And the energy of our household bumping together like atoms wanting to be freed from confinement.
I fantasize about running out to the yard and screaming until every emotion is drained. But I think better of it knowing that a neighborhood curtain-twitcher, or two, will post an “urgent” message on NextDoor about a crazed screaming lady.
Reality hits. We are living in an alternate universe and a new normal.
My morning routine of brewing an Americano coffee perks me up a bit, until I notice that my husband has left the news playing on a continuous loop and he is nowhere to be seen. I wish for my mind to grant me radiant, telepathic brain waves to turn off the NEWS from my spot in the kitchen.
I plop into my desk chair craving some internal quieting, though feeling the impossibility looming amongst a world filled with heaviness. Writing is on my personal agenda for the day, but too much is swirling in my brain. I am filled with worry about family, others who can’t afford food or medical, and how the country will look after all this settles out.
Sighing a pent up breath like a dragon breathing fire, I scroll apathetically through social media. Hoping for a reset or mostly a distraction, I pause on a friend’s live coaching session. She is a personal coach and entrepreneur. One I consider a rare breed of warmth and toughness wrapped with a beautiful bow.
Her message is upbeat and go getting. I halfway tune in. That is until I hear the tempo drop and her voice lower. Like the sensory effect of a whisper, my ears are on alert. Her words project in slo-mo. Every syllable enunciated for effect:
“Live a life of purpose, have no regrets, move forward even when the end goal is a mystery and the fear is paralyzing. Spring into action, own your power…go”.
Nice idioms. Maybe they will placate my mind for a short time.
Like a good coach would do, she switches gears to keep inspiration on high alert. Only now, the words are being channeled by a catchy, rhythmic ditty– her latest favorite being used as a strategy to shift our minds to a higher place.
It’s the type of melody that makes you feel like a dancing marionette and the person controlling the strings is having some wild fun up above.
As the music projects through the shyness of my laptop speakers, she mouths every lyric clearly, sight and sound senses working in tandem for greater cognition. Words such as: “ No should of’s, no could of’s, no would of’s. Don’t you...
Whatever you call her, Mom, Mama, Mother, Mommy, Ma’am……. she’s the woman who brought you into the world and shaped you like no other woman could.
It’s Mother’s Day and my social media feed is full of blooms and boisterous thank you notes. I also read posts from women who wanted children but didn’t have any; women who raised children they didn’t birth and women who grieved the death of a child. Mothers and Motherhood is a complicated subject.
Speaking of complicated, my relationship with my Mom fit that definition — or at least from my perspective. We weren’t allowed to use the “F-word”, you know FEELINGS, so communication relied on the “oh so reliable” mind-reading and making assumptions. God forbid we’d talk about how we felt! It was so much more exciting and dramatic to rely on nonverbal communication and hunches.
You see, as a child all I wanted was my Mom’s undivided attention. I wanted her to love me OUT-LOUD.
My cousins remember my Mom as warm and happy. That’s wonderful and at the same time quite weird! For as long as I can remember, my Mom was never at ease. She cried A LOT – every emotion brought tears. Only with a skilled eye could you decipher if her tears were sad or mad, proud or pissed. I didn’t realize her only coping mechanism was to cry; serving as a pressure release valve for everything she had trouble processing. If I had known this I would have had far more empathy than embarrassment. In fact, we were told not to cry! Crying was weak.
I came to appreciate my Mother much more in my adulthood; especially when I become a Mother myself. While I felt increasing gratitude; there was some slow simmering resentment on the back-burner. Why didn’t she want to be more involved as a Grandma? Why didn’t she want to visit us? Why did she forget to call on my birthday? Yes, even adult women want to be called by their Mama on the day of their birth!
At some point in my forties, I knew I’d have to change my thinking if there was any chance of closing the emotional gap between us. The first order of business was forgiveness; I’d have to accept that Mom was doing the best she could with what she had at the time. It is what it is. Make peace and let that old shit go. I chose to soften my heart before another twenty years flew by.
Another thing, I would have to learn how to communicate with Mom in a way that didn’t feed my resentment but healed my hurting heart. I would speak up lovingly but firmly. It may be dangerous with only one of us speaking a new language but the danger of buried resentment is far more toxic.
Finally, I’d have to let go “the big O”; the OUTCOME. I have no control over how she will respond to me. I cannot choose her words. I seem to be a repeat student with this whole surrendering thing. You’d think I be better at it by now!
A guest blog submission by Karen Schlaegel.
At the time of writing, the world is going through a pandemic. The Corona virus is dominating the news worldwide. It’s something we have never experienced and it is affecting every single one of us (without a doubt, some more than others).
And while the pandemic is unprecedented in this form, we all know and have experienced that life can be tough. We have all faced challenges of varying degrees. And when I say “challenges”, I also mean heart-breaking pain that at times seems all-consuming and which we feel we’ll never recover from. So, is it cynical to talk about staying positive in times of crisis? Is it even feasible?
While I agree that even during our darkest moments, we can take away a life lesson, a positive mindset to me doesn’t mean that we should push away feelings of pain and simply plaster over them with “positive feelings”. Cultivating a positive attitude does not equal denial of everything else nor does it mean forcing ourselves to look for the positives in everything.
So, what does a positive mindset look like then? And is it something we can maintain during our darkest moments or do we need to accept that it becomes useless during crisis times like these? I personally believe a positive mindset makes a huge difference to how we live our lives and how we cope with shitstorms. But it really mustn’t be mistaken for being happy all the time.
Here are the elements that I consider crucial in cultivating a positive mindset and the combination of which helps me personally to navigate life’s “challenges” (aka shitstorms).
- Feel it all.
This can be tough. Much tougher than it sounds. I certainly have the tendency of wanting to avoid painful emotions. We sometimes feel that if we let ourselves feel the pain fully, we’ll never recover. We feel it’s too much to endure. But trying to suppress them just means that they’ll resurface again. And again. Try to sit with all feelings. Cry and scream if you feel like it. Breathe mindfully to get yourself through the storm of emotions raging inside.
- Acceptance and self-compassion
We often exacerbate our feelings by getting frustrated with ourselves. When the whole Corona crisis kicked off, I had a few very heavy days. I felt very scared. At the same time, I also felt shame and guilt to even feel that way, when others were putting their lives at risks every single day – while I was sat safely at home. You are most likely always going to find somebody who is worse off than you – but that doesn’t take away your pain and it doesn’t make your feelings any less valid. It can certainly help to put things into perspective, but it does not help to condemn ourselves for feeling them in the first place (by the way, this also applies to judging other people’s feelings ). We need to accept our feelings as they are. And just as you would with a...
A guest blogger submission by Darlene Versak.
You are a work of art. I am a work of art. We were created by the Master Artist—–Love. I found a definition of Art that resonates with me.
“Art is the conscious creation of something beautiful or meaningful using skill and imagination.”
Every part of our body is beautifully made. Sturdy bones are the framework, sinewed to muscle enhanced by a nervous system that processes information from the outside. The human body is incredible when you think about it. We heal ourselves all the time, from cuts to colds!
Each of us is unique and yet we carry within us unifying desires, wants and needs. We are all beautiful in our own way. We get to choose. We can embrace who we are and allow the light within to shine through us and become the best version of ourselves accepting all that we are (even the uncomfortable parts) with laughter and joy. Or alternately, we can judge the crap out of ourselves, tearing ourselves down, focusing on our flaws and magnifying the worst parts of us and be miserable, angry and unhappy.
Surrendering to the idea that you are a piece of art is an interesting idea.
Everyday, you get to decide what face you will put forth in the world. You get to play each day with what you will wear, make-up or no make-up and if and how you will style your hair. You decide if you will be using props today (i.e. a hat, a scarf, a sparkly necklace) or not.
Since the Stay at Home order, I have renamed my closet T.J. Maxx and I go shopping each morning. I am consciously creating a new expression of who I am through the clothes I choose. Some days I’m whimsical (i.e. the Vacay sun hat, fluorescent fuzzy pink robe that says Flawless on the back and Mardi Gras beads), some days practical (yoga pants, sports bra and tank shirt), some days I dress in all one color (everything is blue) and some days I dress as normal (whatever that means-for me it’s jeans and a t-shirt). I have fun dressing up my body with clothes and accessories. My latest fashion trend is to wear two different earrings. Seems I lose one earring regularly and I’m left with a lone beautiful earring which I keep in the hopes I’ll find the other lost one. In the meantime, I’d like to wear them. I’m thinking I might do the same with socks as the gnomes keep taking them out of my dryer, but I digress.
I am also aware that who I am is what’s inside.
The tender heart that beats to the rhythm of life. The breath that inspires and feeds my body oxygen. The Soul desiring to be one with Love extending Love outward. Who we are, is a wonderful jumble of perfection and vulnerability. We can choose if we want to find beauty in the brokenness and accept what is or not. I believe each of us, is Art at its finest. You are a unique expression of the beauty of being human. You are a work of Art and you are beautiful!
Close your eyes, sit for a few minutes and repeat to yourself ...
Let me take you back to one of my strongest childhood memories. It’s the 4th Grade spelling bee and the winner of this competition will compete with all winners from the entire district.
The last two contenders are myself and one of my best friends, Laura Hanlin.
Announcer: “The word is Receive. Please spell receive.”
Before I know it I spell is R-E-C-I-E-V-E. BUZZER SOUNDS. Wrong!
Announcer: “Laura, please spell “Receive”. She responds, “R-E-C-E-I-V-E.”
And the crowd roars as Laura is crowned Moccasin Elementary School Spelling Bee Champion!!!!!!!
Why am I haunted by this memory? Because I felt intensely humiliated by making a silly mistake. How could I mess up on a word that has a mnemonic as a rule of thumb? And why does mnemonic start with the letter “M”??? So confusing and English is my first (and only) language!
The brain is designed to hold onto intense emotional information to protect us — to remind us not to make the same mistake twice. Believe me, I won’t make THIS mistake twice. Andas my memory ages, thank goodness for Spellcheck!
And although my young ego was crushed, I survived. I didn’t lose any friends. I only lost face. In fact, I wonder if anyone even remembers my fall from greatness? I’ll have to check in with Laura.
I find it funny that the word “RECEIVE” keeps coming to my attention. There must be some relevance to my enhanced awareness. Is the Universe asking me if I am open to receive? Let’s take a closer look………
- Receive money? Oh yes, I like money.
- Receive romance? Ooh la la! I like the idea love and romance. I desire a committed relationship with an emotionally available, adventurous, healthy, intelligent, tall and kind man. (Why not be specific??)
- Receive compliments? Yes. No. Sometimes. This is a work in progress. Compliments can still make me uncomfortable.
- Receive feedback? Honestly, it depends on who’s giving the feedback! If I trust you then yes, I am ready to receive. If I don’t trust you then hell no! Case closed.
- Receive spiritual guidance? Yes, yes PLEASE. Open to receive.
This little exercise has proven quite fruitful! I am feeling FABULOUS now and it only took forty six years to see the silver lining! If I had spelled the word RECEIVE correctly and gone on to world domination, I may not have paused long enough to care about this or anything for that matter! It’s all worked out perfectly.
Ready to R-E-C-E-I-V-E
From the heart,
"It’s January and everyone is talking about what needs to change as if nothing is good enough; as if I am not good enough. What if I like the way things are? Is there something wrong with me?
Last Saturday, it dawned on me that there are many parts of my life that feel really good. I feel stable, aligned…… solid! I’m content. But I kept hearing everyone talking about the changes they should make like….
- Change now and earn more money.
- Change now and find love.
- Change now and lose 50 lbs!
- Change now and never feel sad again.
I can’t say that I’ve ever started a new year feeling as positive as I am right now. My tendency is to pick apart any accomplishment crediting “I was just lucky” instead of honoring my effort. And my “gap analysis” of what didn’t get done in 2019 is far more focused on what fell short or is lacking more than any progress or success.
Of course there are things I want to change in 2020! I have a mindset that enjoys continuous improvement. This is very different than coming from a mindset of criticism and punishment. For instance,
- I bought a standing desk so I am not as sedentary on office days
- I will increase my awareness to catch myself anytime I feel resistance and then PAUSE; become curious instead of critical.
- I’d will be healthier which includes healthy food choices, weight loss and movement.
And there are things that I won’t change like how I align myself with positive people, laugh too loud and wear pajamas as much as possible!
" What is really clear is that change has to come from an internal place; a decision that I myself make and a process I manage. I’ll be my own boss, Baby! You can stay in your own lane!
A request for you to change which is really an ultimatum. Nope. Doesn’t feel very good on the receiving end plus it’s great fuel for ongoing resentment.
A request for you to change as the result of unsolicited advice. No way.
A request for you to change so you “fit in better” or join the popular crowd is also really unacceptable. Uniqueness is a gift.
"Any request for you to change is not going to be successful unless you buy into the benefit of the change. The motivation must come from within; from the place of clear choice.
I’ve spent years wishing, suggesting and threatening my son to change. He has a substance use disorder and I cannot control him or his disease. Talk about sobering! There has been both a physical and mental not to mention financial toll which threatened my own health and sanity. It’s taken me thirteen years to understand that all I can do is love my son and equally love myself while practicing healthy boundaries.
So in closing, remember that you have the ultimate right and responsibility AND CHOICE regarding change. Go out and live large; change or no change required. You are a beautiful human. Don’t forget to use your Girlfriend...
She’s a sneaky little b…it….ch! I can’t even write a gratitude list without her criticism. Ugh. Nona, always chirping in my ear.
Nona is my ever present Inner Critic. The first step in managing her bitchy cacophony is separating myself from her abusive banter. As convincing as she may sound, she is NOT me.
As part of an end of my year reflection process, I created a gratitude list. When you do this type of thing you don’t force the process. My goal was ten things I am grateful for TODAY.
First observation. It was hard to get to 10 items.
- I survived heartbreak.
- My divine Soul-sisters.
- My sons and our relationship.
- I can support myself.
Breathe. Get curious. Keep going. Here’s three more.
- I’m optimistic by nature.
- Food, shelter, clean water, medical care.
- My empathy.
Pausing. My brain is blank. Pausing…….. Only 3 more!
- I’m a natural leader.
Why is this so hard? I have a great life!
- My higher power, angels, guides and protectors.
Only one more…..
OK, got it.
- My willingness to learn!
Nona is shaming me for taking 33 minutes to come up with ten items. And now comes feelings of embarrassment. I ask myself, why aren’t I more thankful for other people or things? This list is mostly about being grateful for ME.
And here’s where Nona gets going…….. OMG why are you so selfish? Why are you grateful for “I can support myself” and “Your willingness to learn”? Why is it always about you? This is dumb.
This is an old groove I fall into because the tunes been with me far longer than it has not. Nona asks why I pump up my chest and talk about myself.
“Because it’s MY gratitude list! Of course it’s all about me! Nona, you just worry too much.”
Do I sit in blame, shame and guilt? At times, yes, but it’s not where I take up residence. I spend far less time in those shadows. Again, “going small” is a familiar place but it doesn’t serve me to retreat.
I am aware. I allow the feelings to surface. I’m curious.
1. I survived heartbreak.
2. My Soulful women’s community.
3. My boy’s and our relationship.
4. I can support myself.
5. I’m optimistic by nature.
6. I have food, shelter, clean water and medical care.
7. My empathy for others.
8. I am a natural leader.
9. My higher power guides, angels, protectors and spirits.
10. My willingness to learn.
I'm feeling much better now that Nona and I had this talk. Have you given your Inner Critic a name? It makes is so much easier to have these conversations when you know who you are talking to. Remember don’t believe everything you think or what your NONA-voice tells you!
From the heart,
Emotional Exits. You know, as soon you start to get uncomfortable, you wiggle out of the discomfort or at least put those feelings on hold for later? You want to run. You might blame someone else because we all want to run away from the icky stuff. I have been super successful keeping myself overly busy because BUSY has always been my “drug of choice”. Busy is productive, right? Busy means I’m important and needed, right?
Why do I chose BUSY? Truth be told it’s because quiet time is so damn dangerous. Quiet time is when those critical voices amp up and start to attack me. Quiet time is when I feel small and defenseless.
I kept myself so busy that I didn’t have a chance to feel anything; whether or not those feelings were positive or negative. “If I blocked the bad stuff, I sadly missed out on the good stuff too.”
Ms. BUSY became my favorite exit strategy but being the overachiever I am, I perfected a few more methods for outsourcing my discomfort. My number #2 ‘go to’ is a shopping trip. Yep, there’s something about the thrill of a purchase that removes me from feeling sad, lonely, anxious, etc. Whoa Girlfriends, this can be a dangerous habit!!!! If you’re buying stuff, especially stuff you don’t need just to have an endorphin rush, you’ve got a problem. I need to find a healthier substitute. And I will forever block you if you suggest exercise as a replacement! #donttestme
Another seemingly harmless strategy is that I love to escape by sleeping. Now we all need sleep, a good seven to eight hours a night — and I can luxuriate in eight to twelve hours. When I fall into dreamland, my brain shuts off from whatever problems I’m experiencing. It’s nirvana. (Please note that if you start sleeping 10 or 12 hours or even 15 hours a day, you may be depressed or have an underlying medical issue. Please talk to you doctor!)
In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll share that I also resort to eating too much (especially sugar!) and drinking too much. Easy numbing strategies! I love me some cocktails!
We don’t want to admit to anyone, including ourselves, that we’re feeling lonely or incompetent or sad. It’s scary and there’s often a dangerous stigma attached to being so raw. I know firsthand! Instead, we put on a happy face, right? We pretend that life is full of rainbows and cupcakes.
I ask myself,
If I sit in discomfort, will I get stuck there?
If I sit in discomfort, will I feel even worse?
If I sit in discomfort, it might be true that I’m stupid? Incompetent? ……. not good enough?
Girlfriends, no storm lasts forever. No emotion will last forever either. You can learn to sit in discomfort once you believe in your power to do so. It takes practice — and curiosity!
Knowing that your often put yourself last and
that this time of year is especially stressful,
…..this is one of the best gifts you can give yourself……
As little as 90 seconds of slow breathing benefits you both physically and mentally so a 12 minute investment will deliver you to a place of heavenly bliss! Stay healthy and enjoy the holiday season!
From the heart,
Where did the year go? The days leading up to summer and the July 4th weekend moved at a snail’s pace and now it’s December 9th. Geez Louise!
While I welcome a cool, rainy winter, once the days lengthen my energy dramatically decreases. I wouldn’t say I fall into a funk but my need for reflective solitude and sleep significantly increases. It’s ironic that my desire for “quiet time” falls during one of the most socially demanding seasons of the year.
What strategy will keep you healthy, the ultimate priority, yet engaged with friends and family? The first step is setting your intention for what you feel is a healthy commitment level — think about what works well for you BEFORE the invitations arrive.
My Girlfriend Voice’s Social Season Survival Tips
1. Strike a balance. You don’t have to say yes to EVERY invitation. I prefer a relaxed Sunday evening because Monday mornings come too soon. “Thanks for inviting me but I am not available.” Short, simple and timely. Truthful and the sooner the better.
2. Create an EXIT strategy. When you say yes, plan the duration of your visit before you arrive. If you carpool then you are dependent upon someone else. Is it better to drive alone or take a car? I also tip off the hostess that I am stopping by but won’t be able to stay long.
3. Tell the TRUTH. You don’t have to make up an elaborate excuse for why you cannot attend or why you plan to leave early.
4. No ghosting. Don’t avoid responding because it’s seriously inconsiderate. #dontberude
5. Be mindful of how alcohol and sugar impact your mood. Alcohol definitely impacts my mouth! ‘Tis the season to overindulge but wisely.
For those hostesses I know well, I will share that my anxiety is at it’s highest during the holidays so I’m striking a balance between the parties and my quiet time.
6. Feeling obligated. There is something about the word “obligation” that drives me nuts! I am thoroughly grounded in the belief that I always have a choice. Obligation negates choice. If I feel obliged to see someone or attend an event, a kernel of resentment is planted. I feel stuck. I much prefer choosing how I spend my time and with whom I spend it!
My love language is definitely doing for others. And because I equate loving with doing, it’s easy to overdo. It’s easy and I enjoy it! So how do I strike a healthy balance?
1. I stay present to the sensations in my body. The body doesn’t lie. Whats your gut telling you?
2. With curiosity, I take inventory of my feelings. It’s an objective summary — no shaming.
3. I’m especially tender with any “shadow” feelings; sadness, grief, frustration, etc. All feelings are valid.
4. Feelings drive actions. If I want to feel peaceful, what actions will enhance peaceful feelings? I align my actions with how I want to feel.
5. Finally, surround...