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...
I never liked being called by name. Why? It meant I was in trouble or in the spotlight. Or just maybe I’d be asked a question I couldn’t answer. God forbid I’d make a mistake or sound stupid!
Plus my name is mispronounced more than it is said correctly. Here’s a tip; remember CARE-uh or Care Bear.
And deep in my brain I associate excess attention with possible danger. I don’t want to attract the wrong kind of people; the people who claim to love me but don’t.
I also love anonymity — silently observing my environment; collecting information from sights and sounds. Staying in the shadows equals control. Control and I are so damn compatible.
I see now that I have a pattern of not receiving attention from the people I loved the most. My young mind equated their lack of response with being less than desirable. Something had to be wrong with me or perhaps I just wasn’t deserving? Tell me you haven’t had the same type of thoughts?
So what did I do? The less attention, the harder I worked. I over-achieved. I denied my own desires, sacrificing myself soliciting any sort of external validation. I needed them to make me feel good so I gave my all until I couldn’t anymore.
THE TANK RAN DRY. I BROKE OPEN.
It takes courage to go within; to confront painful memories and the resulting behavior patterns. It’s actually more than courage; it’s guts and grit. Self-reflection and the commitment to change is not for the weak! And I don’t always see through my stories so I have to credit my support system of Soul Sisters and a gifted therapist for guiding me on this journey.
TEASING APART THE LAYERS IS MY RECIPE FOR HEALING.
I believed what I was told. I believed I was pathetically broken and I felt broken so it was easy! A victim mindset makes a great foundation for shaming, blaming, complaining, raging etc. In order to move forward I had to believe that I am NOT useless or dysfunctional. I had to believe in myself and my worthiness.
I AM COMPLEX, SCARRED, SOMETIMES SHAKEN BUT I AM NOTHING LESS THAN WHOLE. I AM THE SUM OF MY EXPERIENCES.
So as I grow softer and wiser, I grow towards remembering my uncensored essence. My red lipped smile and sassy silver streaked hair may give you the impression that I don’t have a care in the world. I even smile through my tears! Dearest, don’t let your first impression be a lasting one. I am human just like you. I feel it all.
As the seasons progress, I am shed layers of old expectations; some sliding off effortlessly and others hesitant to leave their weathered shell. I’m tending to the garden of me; deadheading so that my energy is redirected towards stability and new growth.
TENDING TO BOTH HARSH CONDITIONS AND LUSH FERTILE SEASONS; I BECOME WHO I FORGOT I WAS.
I am convinced that every emotion is valid. And every experience offers the opportunity to learn or...
I don’t think I can go more than four hours without stepping on broken glass. Of course this is a metaphor. It’s the best way to describe how I feel when the painful realization surfaces that my oldest son is homeless, mentally ill and addicted to heroin.
I doubt you can imagine the emotions I hold in my heart, let alone comprehend what I’ve witnessed over the last ten years. You can’t imagine how I’ve suffered because frankly, there are no words to describe the depth and darkness of my nightmare.
For Mother’s Day, I’m proud to declare that I’m becoming a mom who won’t let her son’s disease take her life too. I must keep living despite the enormous grief.
While I can’t change everything, I ask that you consider one simple request. Please connect with a relative, coworker, neighbor or friends, whomever you know that may be impacted by addiction, and ask how they are doing AND how their child is doing. Don’t let us suffer alone!
We are avoided like the plague however, please realize that addiction is a disease. Addiction is a disease just like cancer except there are no celebrity sponsors or spaghetti dinner fundraisers. No collectible stamps or invitations to the White House. Addiction is a taboo subject yet millions of our loved ones are in the clutches of this insatiable monster.
Yes, I can painfully attest to the fact that this old dog, ME, can learn a few new tricks! Tricks in the form of figuring out how to place a button to “sign up for my email list” on my Facebook page. Yeppers, only took me twenty seven trial and errors and about 5 hours. BUT I FIGURED IT OUT. I am damn proud of myself!
While I was tinkering around on Facebook, I thought I’d give my ABOUT ME section a little update. So here is goes, Girlfriends.
My Girlfriend Voice is the opposite of my inner critic. She’s supportive, inspirational and honestly, she’s my lifesaver! She is someone who knows exactly what my intentions are and how the past influences (biases) the present moment. She is the conduit to my intuition and inner-wisdom. My Girlfriend Voice empowers me to love who I am and to show up unapologetically as Cara, the “Too Much Woman”.
Yes, I hear quite a few voices in my head! My Girlfriend Voice competes for stage time with a crew of critical characters like Penny the Perfectionist, Nikky Never Good Enough, Hopeless Hannah and Bad Bitchy Bertha. Those ladies love to bark and moan– misery loves company, ya know? Funny thing though; those voices provide me with some pretty valuable insight into the blueprint of my being. I just wish they’d hush up sometimes — enough already!
I’ll be posting stories and strategies about how to tame and transform the inner critic while we “lean in” and listen to our inner mentor, My Girlfriend Voice. The mean girls likely won’t go away any time soon so there is no sense fighting with them or agreeing with them! I’ll help you learn to manage their harshness while unleashing your self-compassion and grounded confidence!
So here is a little info to help you see who I be; the zany wackadoo who not only listens to the voices in her head, but is willing to share her most private thoughts and stories with this community. Just keeping it real, y’all!
1. Best advice ever received? “You alone are responsible for your happiness”. No blame games. No martyrdom. Get to it!
2. Best advice I’ve ever given? No is a complete sentence AND focus on HOW you want to feel and align your actions accordingly.
3. I’m innately curious which is truly a blessing! Whenever I am stuck, I get curious. Whenever I am sad, I get curious. When I’m angry, I send a nasty text and then get curious. (Just kidding about the text part!)
4. Why don’t people RSVP? Ugh. Drives me nuts. Drives me almost as nuts as loud talkers and people who chew with their mouth open.
5. Fear has muscle memory. It’s one workout I don’t feel guilty giving up.
6. If I could go anywhere, I’d want to go with a Girlfriend. (We could have fun in a cardboard box!) Find your tribe; find your community! Connection is vital to our health and wellness.
7. Vulnerable is not weak. Humble is not...
Procrastination is a learned behavior. So why do we dance around our To-Do list?
Why do we pump up our anxiety while those tasks loom in front of our face? I think I know why…..but be sure to tell me if I miss anything! Here are 20 reasons why we procrastinate.
1. You don’t like the task so you delay.
2. It’s hard to ask for clarification or help.
3. You don’t function as well when you’re overwhelmed or tired.
4. Perfectionism keeps you from starting or finishing.
5. You do everything for everybody else except yourself.
6. Perceived lack of time or resources.
7. Fear of looking incompetent or stupid.
8. Difficulty prioritizing tasks.
9. You only respond to deadlines.
10. If you wait long enough someone else may take care of it.
11. The task is too large or too complicated.
12. It’s not my job.
13. You don’t care about the task.
14. You’re disorganized.
15. Fear of failure.
16. You are easily distracted.
17. Mental clutter!
18. Tedious tasks bore you!
19. Low self-confidence
20. You thrive on drama!
I know that I procrastinate when the task is boring or tedious. — There are so many other things I would rather do I no longer believe in “perfect” yet those tendencies have muscle memory and I delay finishing while I revamp and revise again and again. Ultimately I have a fear of humiliation and failing. I want to over-achieve, over-produce — I want to shine!
More importantly, I am softening into my KNOWING. My desire to be calm and comfortable drives my behavior and prioritizes my decisions. I crave peace over perfection. I strive to be impactful without the hustle and grind. (the whole work smart not hard thing) I prioritize my overall wellness, even if that means getting those damn expense reports done when I’d rather be playing!
Do you delay today what can be done tomorrow? If you identified with any of those 20 items then guess what? You too procrastinate! Join the club!
- Break the task into smaller pieces.
- Prioritize the icky stuff – get it out of the way.
- And finally, lean in and listen for your Girlfriend Voice. She’ll remind you that you’ve got this covered! #justdoit
From the heart,
Wow, it’s been a long journey from my first blog post in 2011. I have grown and slipped backwards, cried, laughed and had my heart broken. I’ve changed jobs, become an “empty-nester”, had my 50th and 55th birthdays and FINALLY finalized my divorce. The good the bad and the ugly; it’s all part of life, Girlfriends, yet not all of us chose to share those stories publicly, right?
I’ve slowly become more and more visible. You laugh? For those that know me, I am a big personality and it’s hard for me to be anything but visible. The visibility I am talking about is my personal life; my emotional honesty and my vulnerability. It’s easy to celebrate publicly and show you the good stuff but it’s so frick’in scary to struggle publicly. Like death and taxes, we all struggle, don’t we? We just don’t want to talk about it. It’s easier to keep up the perfect facade.
It’s kinda safe to hide behind words thrown out into the world wide web. It’s another thing to follow my own advice and be accountable publicly. I may look like a natural, however it’s daunting to host live video chats as my Miss Perfection voice sternly reminds me, “Don’t do anything stupid! The world is watching so don’t make even one mistake.”
It’s really scary to own my talents and someone who can zero in on the kernel of truth and distill valuable insights. I fight my critical voice, Miss Expert, as she grumbles, “Who do you think you are. You’re no expert! Why would anyone listen to you?”
It’s terrifying to tell you that I feel compelled to do more — to help women, especially Superwomen, who now feel less than, small, invisible, empty, unhappy and hopeless. I’ve been there. Ask me now I know? I’m both the student and the teacher! I’m living this journey right along with you.
I am so proud of my labor of love! It’s just like bringing home my firstborn from the hospital – I am over the moon excited yet scared to death that this baby is totally dependent upon me for survival. I have to feed it, help it grow and give it direction. The enhanced visibility and responsibility scares the crap out of me, yet I have no choice. This is my calling and to sound cliche, the risk is worth the reward.
My website, www.mygirlfriendvoice.com, will serve as the foundation and home for the My Girlfriend Voice community. I have more up my sleeve than blog posts so please “sign up” to stay in touch! There will be tools and events coming in the near future. I am taking one step at a time, quality over quantity! Come hang out with me, Girlfriend!
Under the tab “Work with Me”, you’ll find my new offer; a Girlfriend Chat. It’s an invitation...
I love to learn. I’ve got my podcasts and a ever increasing pile of books; my coaching group, TED Talks, NPR and a selection of scientific journals. I am never at a loss for material on my favorite topics — anything about the brain, our emotions and overall wellness.
My heart is that of both a student and a teacher. I am blessed with the ability to translate something complex in to a simple story or metaphor. This is where I am going to tell you the story of my dirty laundry.
I was sitting in therapy and said something to effect of that I don’t worry about myself as long as my emotions are not stuck on a super high spin cycle or totally absent like the power has gone out. The image of a washing machine popped into my head. I am a human washing machine!
I experience emotions similar to the cycles on a washing machine. Sometimes my stomach mimics the delicate cycle; slow agitation and cool water. Calm waters.
Other times my stomach defaults to a robust permanent press cycle where it’s all business as usual. No fuss — just wash and dry.
Every so often I have a heavy load, requiring a good pre-soaking to remove built-up grime; plus an extra spin cycle to squeeze out the excess.
I have become sensitive to how my emotions land in my body. I don’t always have the benefit of being consciously aware of what my brain may be holding on to until my stomach flags me down with cramps, nausea, flutters, etc. I am not complaining. This is a fantastic feedback system. My stomach’s got my back! (that sounded much funnier in my head)
I worry when I don’t feel anything at all. Unplugged. Absent or numb. Danger, Danger!! Total disconnection warrants further investigation.
I also worry if the machine spins and spins and spins; tearing my insides to shreds. Danger, Danger!! Pause and check in. What’s feeding this frenzy?
Every one of my emotions carry valuable information and there is no need to avoid or dismiss any of them. I shudder when I hear someone say, “stop crying!” PLEASE. Go ahead and cry. I also encourage you to jot down your thoughts and review them later. Keep those emotions moving — flowing through you. Be curious with yourself. Be compassionate with yourself.
Bottling up, deflecting them or numbing yourself out of feeling anything unpleasant will make you sick. Speaking from experience, it all catches up with you. You get sick. High blood pressure, anxiety, indigestion, headaches, acne, insomnia and depression to name a few. Possibly even cancer….
We don’t wash everything in hot water! We use a variety of settings. We don’t have one emotional setting either! It is tragic to think there is something wrong with you if you are not happy all the time. It’s just not possible.
Oh Momma…….. My heart is heavy because I learned on Friday that my Mother passed away. Thank God she transitioned swiftly in her own own home and on her own terms. She was terrified of becoming dependent on her children or living in a nursing home.
Mom had inoperable aneurysms and never knew if or when she’d leave us. Our relationship was good; not always easy but really solid. I’m so proud that we were on good terms. My relationship with my Mother was a priority so I forgave her and accepted her for who she was. She was a little wounded bird.
I hold on to her praise and how proud she was to have birthed a woman like me. She revelled in my kindness and my way with words. I still laugh about her asking me, “Why are you so honest?”
Mom loved My Girlfriend Voice and kept a binder of my blog posts. I hadn’t shown her the new MGV website yet — my only regret. She would have loved it— except for the swear words peppered here and there! I’m sassy, what can I say? I have to be true to my voice!
My biggest hope is that my Mom wasn’t afraid to die. I want her to know that everything will be OK here. I’ll grieve her absence and celebrate her memory. Wow, she lived so much longer than any of us expected, having been ill for almost twenty years.
I’ve traveled back “home” to visit her body to kiss her goodbye. I had to touch and talk to her face just once more. Losing your Mother, the person who brought you to Earth, is devastating. I trust that she is free. I trust that she feels complete and worthy. I trust that she is rejoicing with my Dad.
Please keep me, my family and Momma “Kaye” in your prayers. I picture her young and healthy, dancing and laughing— the broken body has been left behind. Her spirit lives within me and amongst us.
Mom is one of the two women who most impacted my life. And for that, I am grateful to be her daughter.
From my broken heart,
The Emotional Roller Coaster. The constant ups and downs; extreme highs and the lowest of lows. You alternate between exhilarated and devastated; passionate and detached.
How did you get on the damn roller coaster in the first place?
YOU. Yep, sorry Girlfriend. You jumped on the ride. You got on the roller coaster all by yourself. How do I know? Because I did the same thing!
Did you realize that you had a choice to get ON and more importantly, that you hada choice or the power to get OFF? Remember the ruby slippers Dorothy wore in the Wizard of Oz? All along she had the power to return home. She just didn’t know how to access her power.
What are the warning signs that you ride the emotional roller coaster? The biggest red flag is that drama follows you everywhere. There are more subtle red flags too.
You laugh and cry in the same sentence.
You feel exhausted.
You give and give because it feels good but you’re now running on fumes.
You feel exhausted all the time.
it’s hard to focus or make decisions.
There is no time for you or for any fun.
What can you do to avoid the never ending roller coaster ride?
- Become aware.
- What story are you telling yourself? I bet it is not true!
- Let go of the past. You can go round and round with the “woulda, coulda, shoulda’s” but that serves no purpose, does it? It just burns your precious energy! Forgive yourself. You were doing the best that you could at the time.
- Avoid future jumping– wondering what is going to happen tomorrow, or ten days from tomorrow. The “what if’s”!!!! Be present in this moment right here, right now.
- Adjust your mindset and take care of yourself. When you run on an empty tank, your are more susceptible to being taken hostage by your emotions.
- Release yourself from meeting the expectations of others. How about releasing yourself from the reactions and approval of others too? ( Such a juicy topic! I want to delve into this one further on a future post.)
- Enforce healthy boundaries. Learn to say NO. And when you say no, mean it!
- Witness “the drama” with either curiosity or compassion. Trust me, this approach will unhook you from the emotionally — give you some breathing space!
It is easy to be addicted to drama because you want to feel important! You want to help! You might think that it is your responsibility to help or to serve. This is my biggest weakness. I couldn’t quite see that I had started to enable bad behavior. It is a HUGE and EASY trap to fall into!
Does the emotional roller coaster ride resonate with you? It is something you experience more with family or in the workplace? With friends? I’d love to hear how you detach yourself. What happened that finally gave you permission to get off the ride? Drop a note...
While my posts focus on the “inner voice” and managing our critical chatter, today I want to focus on our “outside” voice or how we speak to the world.
In light of the events in Charlottesville, it is critically important to state that I do not support white supremacy or any of their beliefs. It sickens me that there are 917 identified and active hate groups in this country (Southern Poverty Law Center 2017). How is hate a driving force with thousands, actually millions of Americans?
I spent last week observing more than acting. Don’t get me wrong, I am livid. I am sickened, saddened, enraged, threatened and shocked. I felt a shift too. I came to the conclusion that my angry vile words are not going to do anything but contribute to the problem. Let me explain…….
You lose your power and credibility when you spew hate.
Self-righteousness, xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic, racist language is HATE TALK. Who has the right to diminish the worth of another individual!! I am ashamed that so many Americans feel they are more worthy than another based on the color of their skin, sexual orientation or their religious affiliation.
It’s emotional pollution. Hate comes out of their mouths like smoke from a factory chimney — acrid and heavy.
No one has the right to inflict harm on another. This includes financial, physical and emotional harm.
Arm-chair activists may not realize that posting another article on social media is not enough. We have to do more without entertaining those looking for a fight – confrontation — violence.
Vote with your presence.
Vote with your support.
Vote with your dollars.
Instead of silence, question mistreatment when you see it take place. Instead of walking away, question the water cooler talk that sounds racist. Question everything in an intelligent, determined, curious voice. I want you to ask, “WHAT DID YOU MEAN BY THAT?”
As angry as I am, I can’t give in to name calling, shaming and hatred. This is how we will impact the world. Our collective voices WILL make a difference.
Use your voice. Use your words whether written or spoken. Contact your representatives. Participate in your community. Support organizations dedicated to this cause. Act now from a place of compassion, not hate.
Shaming is a catalyst for divisiveness. Let’s inhibit this reaction with peaceful conduct.
Stop the hate. Question everything.
This is not a fight between political parties- it’s a fight for human decency!
“If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention,” Heather Heyer, 32, posted on Facebook before she was killed by an alleged Nazi sympathizer in Charlottesville.
I feel insulated because I live in a very diverse and liberal part of the world. I hadn’t even heard the term “white privilege” until two years ago. I don’t like it one bit yet I...
I’m focused on finding beauty
-within every human being
I’m at a loss for words when bigotry and violent acts are not condemned.
I will pause and connect to the BEAUTY in every human being.
I celebrate our diversity. In diversity there is STRENGTH.
I pray for peace and justice.
From the heart,
Girlfriend, you are so accustomed to your features that you forget just how beautiful you are to strangers!
Beauty stems from shining bright and living unapologetically!
Beauty isn’t defined by age, dress size or color.
Beauty is confidence.
Be YOU and you’ll be beautiful!
From the heart,
#mygirlfriendvoice #beauty #agelessbeauty #bodypositive #beauthentic #smile #shinebright