I Don’t Ask for Much – But This is a Big One addiction grief isolation judgment mother’s day parenting relationships & communication shame stigma taboo

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.

You can’t imagine because I don’t have the courage to share my story with very many people. I claw and scream to escape public scrutiny and when I do open my heart, I don’t know what I’ll receive in return.
 
I’ve been told that addiction is a matter of willpower or something that happens to bad people.
I’ve been told that addiction is the result of poor parenting.
I’ve also overheard  harsh comments about junkies and I shrink inside my shell; afraid that my fury fueled grief may cause me to say something I’ll regret.
 
I’m a mom who cries herself to sleep, swaddled in thick guilt.
I’m a mom paralyzed by late night calls from unknown numbers.
I’m a mom who dreads holiday celebrations, graduations and family gatherings. I listen politely to the Norman Rockwell-esque proclamations of your children’s achievements and I’m just hoping my son is still alive.

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.

I will weather these emotional storms because shame, blame and guilt are not as powerful as my conviction for total wellness.
 

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.

People say they don’t want to bring up anything sad or negative so they don’t ask me about my son.  Here’s my perspective. If you don’t ask, you don’t care and you perpetuate the insidious shame cycle.
 
I’m not asking for your pity.
I’m am asking that you soften your heart.
I’m not asking for any endorsement of my strength or character.
I’m asking for your compassion.
I’m not asking for answers, cures or...
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An Old Dog Learns a Few, Actually Just One, New Trick

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...

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Just Wait a Minute (or two or twenty)! advice & strategies delays emotions & emotional inventory excuses fear of failure low self-esteem mindset matters overwelmed perfectionism procrastination the fear factor triggers & the inner critic

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,

Cara

 

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Scary Stuff but I Have No Choice, Girlfriends! #mygirlfriendvoice advice & strategies becoming more visible compelled to do more emotions & emotional inventory girlfriend chats labor of love mindset matters triggers & the inner critic website launch

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...

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Let Me Air Some Dirty Laundry!! advice & strategies dirty laundry don't bottle up your emotions emotional awareness emotions & emotional inventory go with the flow i am a human washing machine it's ok to cry mindset matters triggers & the inner critic

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.

I will...

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Oh Momma, Why’d You Have to Leave Me? #mygirlfriendvoice death emotions & emotional inventory grief loss of a parent mothers parenting relationships & communication sadness saying goodbye

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,

Cara

 

 

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Get Me Off this Damn Thing!!! #addictedtodrama #bepresent #enablingbadbehavior #letgoofthepast #mygirlfriendvoice #selfawareness #setboundaries #stopfuturetripping advice & strategies emotions & emotional inventory mindset matters theemotionalrollercoaster triggers & the inner critic

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?

  1. Pause.
  2. Breathe.
  3. Become aware.
  4. What story are you telling yourself?  I bet it is not true!
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.)
  9. Enforce healthy boundaries.  Learn to say NO.  And when you say no, mean it!
  10. 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...

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Use Your “Outside” Voice — Question Everything! #aclu #allpersonsarecreatedequal #antihate #charlottesville #hatecrimes #humandecency #mygirlfriendvoice #nonviolentcommunication #questioneverything #riseup #splc #unity #whiteprivilege advice & strategies compassion emotions & emotional inventory empowerment endhate racism triggers & the inner critic use your voice

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...

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Finding beauty… beauty celebrate diversity emotions & emotional inventory finding beauty everywhere i see you mindset matters pray for peace

I’m focused on finding beauty
-within myself
-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,

Cara

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Have you forgotten your beauty? #ageless #beauty #bodypositive #confidenceisbeautiful #mygirlfriendvoice #shinebright emotions & emotional inventory mindset matters triggers & the inner critic

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,

Cara

#mygirlfriendvoice #beauty #agelessbeauty #bodypositive #beauthentic #smile #shinebright

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Stepping into Uncertainty #bruisedheart #emptynester #intersectionofvulerabilityandempowerment #over50female #theriskisworththereward #transformation #divorce #uncertainty adversity advice & strategies emotions & emotional inventory mindset matters relationships & communication shedding limitations surrender the fear factor triggers & the inner critic wounded healer

I feel a type of rawness these days.  A rawness resulting from stripping away most of my blame, shame and guilt.  I’ve shed the heavy layered untruths and all of what no longer suits me.

I have discarded the limitations I’ve carried around since youth like a snake sheds it skin.

A bright light now shines into my heart, illuminating the bruises and battle wounds; sparking optimism.

The searing hot truth of knowing “I am enough” and “I am worthy” glistens on my skin.

It all comes down to choice.  You can sit in discomfort or let the discomfort move through you.

You can allow pain to paralyze you or fuel your transformation.

I am over 50, divorced after a long, unhappy marriage and an empty-nester.  I am estranged from one son and long for him to be healthy and free from chasing his dragon. The other son’s life mimics a page from a fashion catalog; European cut suits and jogs along the ocean at sunset.

I could look at myself as old and damaged or I can say,  “Hello, Beautiful.  Thanks for showing up!  I’m glad you’ve arrived.

Now that I have stripped away pretense, expectations and assumption, I am ready to thrive a beautifully imperfect and quirky life.

I step into uncertainty, a little apprehensive, yet willing to take the journey.  As I told my Girlfriends, “The risk is worth the reward, in fact there is far more risk in not taking action than to end up living with regret from a life played too safe and too small.

Uncertainty.  I will accept uncertainty because I trust myself to make good decisions.  I will not let fear drive outcome.

With uncertainty comes surrender.  I surrender the need to be right and to always lead where there is wisdom in learning how to follow.

Surrender seeds possibility and soothes my weary, analytical mind.  I do not always have to be right.

Courage is my compass.

Resilience and God’s grace have delivered me to the sweet intersection of vulnerability and empowerment.

From the heart,

Cara

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I Hate Wormy Cowards! #ahamoment #classiccara #communication #empowerment #healthyrelationships #wecantallbethesame #communicationwithcoworkers #holdingagrudge #mygirlfriendvoice #officepolitics #teachingmoment #cowardsmakememad #wormycoward advice & strategies emotions & emotional inventory mindset matters relationships & communication triggers & the inner critic

Just when I think I have evolved into a spiritual peace dwelling goddess, I hear something that really pisses me off.  Damn, in a few seconds I am playing tug of war with my rational brain to stay engaged and objective while my emotional brain rages.  My heart rate increases and I feel my lips pursing; the sure sign of,  “you’ve got to be kidding me or more likely WTF, what did you just say?”  I think you may be able to relate to my scenario.  

A coworker, who is normally pleasant and quite helpful, forwards an email thread between she and myself over to my boss.  She includes a condescending statement about my “need for development”.   The email thread was regarding a policy that was new to me but not a new policy.  I admitted that for whatever reason no one had ever explained the scenario to me so I asked a handful of clarifying questions.  I want to be better equipped to set expectations with my future clients.  There is nothing wrong with admitting you don’t know something, right?

My boss is the one who brings this situation to my attention.  He responded to said coworker revealing that my correspondence demonstrated professionalism and my desire to continually develop my skills.

What gets me is why she would not speak to me directly if she had any concerns?

I hate wormy cowards.

It is so much easier to chose to let go of something or to address the matter directly! No measly grey area.  No judgment. I respect people who speak the truth.

I asked myself if anything she said was in fact true?  My rational and raging brain agreed.  The answer was no.  No truth there so I am not feeling threatened.

Was I worried about looking bad or sounding stupid?  No.  This is a sensitive trigger area but nothing was engaging there.

Am I really annoyed with my own behavior?  Am I a coward when I need lead?  No, that’s not it. I am not projecting.

I asked myself why I was bothered at all? Why did this invoke a classic Cara, “pursed lips and roll my eyes response”?  I am OK that she has an opinion that varies from mine.  I am perturbed with the secrecy of the method.  If you see an opportunity for a “teaching moment”, why wouldn’t you address it directly? Ask if the other person is open to a discussion?

Two days later I am still annoyed and then it hits me.  I am annoyed not because of what she said.  I am annoyed because I want her to be more like me.  I want her to be empowered.  She is likely annoyed wanting me to be more like her.  It’s an AHA moment!

I assume that we are all doing our best and that is no malicious intent (unless of course you are my “X”)! There is beauty in our diversity!! Our skills and strengths actually compliment one another if you remove the conflict.

A open, respectful, honest conversation + respect for...

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