Hello Girlfriends! I am curious to know if after you read last week’s blog post, did you give yourself permission to do something differently? Did you take a step away from your comfort zone? Even a baby step is a step in the right direction.
I took action and gave myself permission to do something differently. I took myself out of a leadership role for an event in September. You see, I like to DO. I like to GIVE. The issue is that I can commit to so much activity that I over-do; I over-give. I exhaust myself.
Doing too much is my comfort zone.
Distraction and numbing techniques can be disguised as the overachieving professional superwoman! You want me on your team. You trust me to make things happen on schedule….. BUT……. I pay a price for my diligence because I give more than I get.
There are many times when I have said to friends, “I want to fly under the radar.” They laugh because they know how hard it is for me to step back and follow. Even if I don’t speak a word, my energy is LOUD.
For a long time I lived in another comfort zone called “anger”. I was angry at everything, dammit! In retrospect , I was in love with the power I felt while angry. I couldn’t access my power unless I was angry.
The Anger Zone
Thank goodness life kicked my butt. (Boy did it take a long time to be able to say that!!!) I stopped “shaming and should-ing” all over myself because when you fall to your knees, you have a choice to remain miserable on the floor or to get up and live differently. It’s your choice.
I am not saying that anger is always a bad thing. Anger can fuel change. The danger was that I was far too comfortable living in grimace-ville — I had earned a blackbelt in badass bitchiness!
I’ve graduated to positivity-ville where my power comes from diving into an understanding of who I am and identifying what is important to me. I love my imperfections, my boldness and my infinite curiosity. I love my ability to be self-aware and to share my beliefs. I love living in my truth.
My power is tied to my inner voice and my wisdom. My Girlfriend Voice is present because I make space for her guidance. I believe in my ability to make good decisions and to weather any storm. Sometimes I don’t like sitting in discomfort or “adulting”and that is OK. I’m only human!
Finding your voice is finding your power. Finding your voice doesn’t mean you have to respond. You can deliberately say nothing or do nothing. This quiet power is so damn delicious.
Personal power is an infinite resource!
Plug Into Your Power
It takes courage to dive in, doesn’t it? I didn’t like everything I discovered on my journey to finding myself, however I can expand and leverage the things that I...
Oopsie! I had a premature post there a little bit ago – hopefully that won’t happen again. I’m using the WordPress site on my IPad as my laptop died on me. So inconsiderate!! I just lost an entire post so I’m grabbing a sangria and starting over. Cheers! …………
Ok, Girlfriends, I need to rant. I need to blow off a little steam and GET THIS OFF MY CHEST. I don’t want to go to carry around this angst.
So what has my panties in a twist? Take a guess……
My kids? Surprisingly no.
My X-husband, “Mr. MF-Ski”? Nope.
My boss? Ha, ha, no. He has been behaving lately.
I am not pissed about my cellulite, how the refrigerator stinks (again), the high cost of living in the Bay Area or how hard it is to find stylish walking sandals that don’t look like Grandma Wilma’s orthopaedics!
I am breathing hard because I am FED UP. Enough already!
I have heard too many excuses; excuses like you don’t have time, you don’t have a choice, you don’t have a small waist or a big bank account…… you don’t think your opinion matters, you don’t want to rock the boat, blah, blah, blah!
You don’t want to date until you lose ten pounds. You don’t want to travel until you retire. You don’t want a new job because you don’t like change.
…….. ……….. ………. ……. You don’t have any problem complaining though. ………that’s the part that annoys me!
I see your heavy heart. I feel your outrage. I hear your desperation.
Your pain is very familiar to me.
Like you, I chose to play it safe. I lived surrounded by walls built by my own fear. I put everyone else and everything else first. I either numbed or distracted myself to keep from feeling anything. I blamed everyone and everything for my UN-everythingness!!
Superwoman puts up with bullshit because she can; she’s a fictional character!!! We on the other hand are only human!
I used to live that way but I don’t do that anymore. I gave myself permission to think and act differently. I’m in no way perfect- I still slip up and indulge in a bitchfest or feel sorry for myself. Progress not perfection, Girlfriends!
When I was in the elementary school, I pitched an idea to my teacher. We had a trash problem on the playground and I told her that we could solve the issue if we bedazzled our trash cans. “Let’s make it fun to throw away our trash!” ! Ok, I didn’t use the word bedazzled in 1972 but this is a true story! The project was approved. I moved ahead with my idea. The can said, “FEED ME’ and featured Lucy from The Peanuts.
Fear has a way of looking really attractive; like a big colorful trashcan called Lucy who eats your dreams. The more you feed the fear, they more fear grows and keeps you small.
What does your bedtime routine look like? Personally, I prefer to read for a bit then go to bed early. Geez though, you have be careful what you read as the day’s headlines are so damn depressing.
I was too lazy to get out of bed and walk twenty feet to the living room where I’d left my magazine so I picked up my phone. The phone at bedtime! BIG MISTAKE. I made the all too familiar mistake of looking at my email and two hours later I was too worked up to sleep.
To educate myself about the Opioid Epidemic, I have Google alerts which provide me links to daily news articles. Tragically there are so many daily alerts that’s it’s hard to keep up. So why do I put myself there? Because I chose to and because I’m a Fierce Mama turned Advocate. I will advocate to reduce the stigma of substance use disorders and influence policy makers to provide more effective and affordable treatment options. Incarceration is not the answer.Just like Bob Marley said, “get up, stand up, stand up for your right.” I have a right to be me and follow my passion just like you have a right to be you.
I’m exercising my right to speak up. I believe one person can make a difference.
So why opioids? My family has been and continues to be impacted or shall I say devastated by my son’s misuse of opioids. It’s hell. Actually hell sounds nice compared to our story. It’s impossible to describe the gut wrenching nightmare we’ve endured. The pain has sent me to my knees a million times over.
Please note. I do NOT want your pity. This is NOT why I’m writing about my experience.
I write because it helps me cope. It grounds me. Writing heals me.
“My Girlfriend Voice” arose from my frantic attempt to survive the chronic stress of my life. Not only did I have a child suffering from substance use and mental illness, I had another child who desperately needed his Mother’s attention and love. I was depressed and ending a long term marriage. I dreamt of running away.
Now while I don’t claim to know everything, I know I am resilient. I am wise because I learn from my experiences. Yes, I make mistakes. I cry big ugly snotty cries and I swear like a sailor. I rage, although not as often. I have bad days just like everyone.
Despite all of “this crap”, I’m happy and optimistic. It’s hard work but a terrific return on my investment. I am grateful for my deep compassion and perspective.
Thank goodness we gain wisdom as we experience pain!!
I’m willing to let you witness to my process. I’m willing to share my thoughts and my tools in hopes that these stories will help you. I don’t want you to ever feel alone and hopeless.
Do you think this is weird? Narcissistic? You have a right to your opinion! I respect that! I don’t have to defend my motives or intentions.
In the spirit of sharing, here...
Whatever you feed gets stronger!
We feed our emotional system all day long.
The brain has a thought and the thought produces a feeling. Feed the brain with positive thoughts and positivity blooms. Feed it negative thoughts and negativity bellows. In fact, the negativity grows like you’ve added some serious steroids! Why is it unbalanced?
Humans tend to recall negative information far more often than positive information. It’s related to our hard wiring; a primal instinct. If you don’t remember to hide from T-Rex, you’re not going to live very long! Fire burns. Keep Momma happy and so on.
When I was 5, I fell down an escalator. Actually three of us took a tumble; myself, my brother and my pregnant Mother. We took a slide down the moving staircase at Sear’s. Fifty years later, escalators still freak me out! I recall that fall as if it happened last year.
Each time we recall something negative, the memory gets easier to recall and it takes up more space. Think of it like this, you go to Google and start to type a word starting with the letter “F”. Every “F” word you’ve previously searched for auto-populates and in decreasing order of the search frequency. I type in F-R and a new set of words pop up. I’m type in F-R-I and FRIDAY, my second favorite “F” word is at the top of the list.
Now what if I was feeling “he’s such an idiot!” and my brain was like Google. Every memory supporting the belief that “he’s an idiot” would auto-populate. The thoughts I use the most are highest in the search terms so I select one off the top; the best suited to fit my belief! Our brains searches for evidence of our belief. Fills in the gaps in the story!
Whoa, I’m feeling kind of brilliant for creating this analogy! Good on me!
Why don’t we recall positive memories as often as negative? Because, it’s not a survival instinct! My love of cupcakes won’t save my life but it could save your life. I’ve threatened to kill for a cupcake! Reader beware! We recall threats of danger like deadlines, mortgages, children and waistlines.
Here’s what My Girlfriend Voice recommends, “Limit the negative thinking. Detox the auto-populate feature by purposefully recalling less and less negativity. Why continually air that old stuff anyway?”
First step? Pause. Slow down. Be aware.
Second step? Find your gratitude. A practice of recalling what you are grateful for helps rewire your brain. Fill the space between your ears with goodness!
Whatever you feed gets stronger. Feed fear and you live small. Feed your growth and you live large. Feed your heart, your confidence, your dreams! There is everything to gain and nothing to lose.
From the heart,
I believe in getting familiar with all of the voices in my head. You might remember me mentioning some of them in previous posts. I “humanize” these voices – not sure that anyone ever told me to do that but it made perfect sense to me. I want to meet “face to face” with Penny Perfectionist, Bitchy Becky, Anxious Abbie and the rest of that motley crew who contribute to the negative banter. My Girlfriend Voice lives with those mean girls and helps to keep them in check.
This weekend a new Voice had her debut. Let’s call her Warrior Woman. Rather than REACTING, she RESPONDS from a place of power and passion. She is not to be silenced or shunned. She is a fierce Momma – unleashed to lead and educate. It’s extra cool that this happens to be my 100th post!
You’ll end up hearing more from Warrior Woman. In the meantime, here is a link to my 3 minute video clip of her first public appearance.
My Girlfriend Voice is a tool for every woman and especially relevant for those impacted by anxiety, depression and grief. I don’t claim to be an expert! I’m walking the walk with you. I’m sharing what I know and sometimes it ain’t pretty. Other times I damned proud of myself!
There is something beautiful about struggle, right?
- You learn what you’re made of.
- You learn who your friends are.
- You learn to love yourself first and foremost.
- You learn that the only thing you can control is your response.
Until next week, settle in and invite your Girlfriend Voice to visit. Let her tell you everything’s gonna be OK. You are where you need to be!
Penny Perfectionist insists that I tell you that in case the formatting looks wonky, I wrote this on my phone.
From the heart,
Dearest Delightful Cara,
It’s almost your birthday and I wanted to write you a love letter.
Not so long ago you used to have a secret.
You never wanted to tell people how you felt.
To struggle was to fail.
To fail was unforgivable.
There were many times that your heart said, “I can’t take any more of “THAT”!
You hurt so badly that nothing held your head above water.
Your thinking was black and white and your words were void of color.
You got sick and tired of being strong.
The sadness settled into your cells and paralyzed you.
That was before. That was then.
Your saving grace is that you vibrate with curiosity.
Pausing, I see you breathe in gratitude.
You soak in the rays of your blessings.
You embrace reality, not perfection.
You do not attempt to have it all; to be a super woman.
You have sad days and feeling dumpy days.
You can be stubborn and impatient.
Rather than hiding, you let the discomfort move through you.
You consider the message it provides.
You also have radiant days.
You exude passion and promise.
I hear you shout, “I AM ENOUGH in my perfectly imperfect world”.
You are willing to pull back the curtain, to share your stories with the world.
Vulnerability is the biggest gift you can give yourself.
Let the world be motivated by your courage and character.
We are celebrating that you, Dearest Cara, are a gift to the world.
Your Loving Girlfriend Voice
I still chuckle when I think of this conversation with my Mother. Mom asked me, “Why are you so honest?” The question came out of the blue on a Sunday afternoon phone call. I laughed but not unkindly and replied, “It’s the only way I want to be.”
Wait a minute, wasn’t I raised to be honest?
Isn’t honesty a core value?
Is it weird that my Mother is questioning my virtue or am I on Candid Camera? (for you Millennials, this was a TV show a hundred years ago.)
Yes, I am honest. Proudly honest. I can also tell you that honesty is not a license to be cruel or to share your unsolicited opinion. Have you ever had someone roll into your life, framing their words with, “I’m just being honest!” Thank you very much –NOT! I don’t want any type of uninvited advice. Just to be extra clear, I don’t give anyone permission to comment on my appearance, love life, parenting skills, cooking, driving, sleeping habits and diet UNLESS I ASK YOU TO COMMENT! Thank you.
(If you are new to the world of digital communication (Mom), typing in capital letters means I am shouting at you. I am not typing in capitals because it looks cool or because it is easier to read on my phone. ) Getting back to the story…… I’ve digressed!
I had another conversation recently about my artwork. I was asked a simple question. “Why do I chose to share my doodles and private thoughts on the internet?”
Good question, however the answer is not quite as simple as the inquiry.
- I do it because I find it relaxing.
- I do it because there is nothing wrong with illustrating a variety of emotions; even the sticky grey ones related to depression.
- I do it because I feel compelled to share.
- I do it because it is good for me.
Yes, I do it because I like to and it is good for me. Drop the mic!
Another question came up recently, causing me to chuckle. “Do I have a process?” A what? No, unless my process is sitting down with paper and a pen.
I don’t draw unless I feel an idea pop into my head. I can’t force my creativity but rather I allow my creativity to take me! Last night I was watching a program on PBS (my exciting life!!!) and the lady was talking about how we make our own prisons with our thoughts.
Shazam! An image popped into my head. Yes, I couldn’t agree more. We put all kinds of restraints on our power, our abilities. We let fears and anxieties box us in. Blame, anger, regret, worry, doubt…… they keep us locked out of THE PRESENT. (capital letter for emphasis, not shouting here, Mom).
Do I share everything I create? Hell no! I have a drawing titled “Nooner Envy”. I’ll leave it to your imagination. That one won’t be going up on Facebook !
“Tell me, where does it hurt?” This is a common question, right? When someone isn’t feeling well, we want to know the source of the discomfort. We add up the symptoms to zero in on a diagnosis. Most times their suffering is the result of a virus or bacterial infection – nothing too serious, but do you realize that you can also suffer physically from emotional pain? We hold our emotions in our body, tucked away to be forgotten or dealt with at another time.
Like puppies and toddlers, our emotions can wreak havoc if left unattended for too long.
Do you push through your discomfort thinking that you can deal with all of that stuff later? I used to distract myself by over-doing. I was so busy that I didn’t have time to process my emotions. Some people self-medicate with shopping, sex and substances but my favorite method was to numb myself in busy-ness. An idle mind felt dangerous!!! I had no idea that I was setting myself up for a crisis!
Dr. Brene Brown, the guru of vulnerability and shame research writes in her book “Rising Strong” that we “off-put” feeling hurt at least five different ways,
Chandeliering means that you take it all in, bit by bit until one day you explode! There is no predictability to what may set you off. You hit the ceiling—you go from zero to sixty in record time! We walk on egg shells around these folks.
Numbing your mind, not just with food, substances and sex but with money, work , position and an “over-doing lifestyle” will mess you up too. You keep the exterior looking good but even on a good day, the interior resembles the West Bank.
Bouncing is another name for not letting yourself feel anything; you push it all away. Feelings are for the weak! What these people don’t realize is that they are smothering themselves in anger, blame and resentment while they keep pushing everyone and everything away, including happiness.
If I start to process my uncomfortable feelings, I might get stuck in that awful place. This is called “high centering”. You are out of gas. You can’t deal with the present AND you can’t move forward UNLESS you deal with the present.
If you are stockpiling emotions, one day your body completely shuts down. You successfully ignored all of the warning signs until finally, there is no more passing go to collect $200. You are spent, burned up and down for the count. You seriously hurt from all of the neglect.
Blowing My Top
This is not a hippie woo woo theory here!!!! For centuries Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) demonstrates the correlation between our emotional state and our vital organs. The Chinese Medicine Living website tells us that,
“TCM is all about balance and flow. Emotions that do not have avenues for...
Gentle: neither harsh or severe; tender and lovingly
When your heart is hurting, hold it gently. Give yourself the care and compassion your body is yearning to receive.
When you feel frustrated, pause and allow a gentleness to settle over you.
Anytime you feel uncomfortable, …….pause…….breathe……and be gentle with your thoughts.
Wisdomcommons.org provided this beautiful statement on gentleness. They say, “Gentleness means recognizing that the world around us is fragile, especially other people. It is recognizing our own capacity to do harm and choosing instead to be tender, soft-spoken, soft-hearted, and careful. When we are gentle we touch the world in ways that protect and preserve it.
Being gentle doesn’t mean being weak; gentleness can be firm, even powerful. To behave in a gentle manner requires that we stay centered in our own values and strength — that we are active rather than reactive. Coming from this center, a gentle word or touch can channel our energy into healing or making peace.”
“When you encounter difficulties and contradictions, do not try to break them, but bend them with gentleness and time.” Saint Francis de Sales
From the heart,
I am lucky, at least when it comes finding sources of inspiration. Or is it that inspiration easily finds me? I was inspired yesterday by baby pink tulips mirroring the morning sky in their heavy dew drops. I was inspired by a video featuring a childhood friend in her role as a Wetlands Biologist in Tennessee—another scientist from our small Midwestern town! Then there is my source of constant inspiration from a former colleague fighting cancer (again) yet she is the most positive person I have ever encountered. Inspiration surrounds me.
Inspiration wasn’t always at my fingertips. I was too busy fighting my demons, both real and imagined. I had work to do and that didn’t leave room for inspiration or much else for that matter. Blaming, angry, tired, unappreciated…… can you relate to how I was feeling?
Thank goodness my thinking has turned around. Consciously I bathe myself in gratitude and sources of inspiration surround me like a soft, warm blanket. I wake up happy. I am content here and now. So what exactly changed? What was getting in the way? Well, I believe I was stuck in “baggage claim”.
Let me explain. BAGGAGE CLAIM is the term I use to describe when my brain calls down to my heart and orders up the emotional baggage of yesteryear. You know the scar tissue of my early years, the guilt of motherhood, the pain of broken relationships, mistakes, words I can’t take back, etc. I am especially vulnerable when tired and stressed. Baggage claim loves to have a shout down from the brain to bring it all up in gory detail! Misery loves company. Misery is job security for baggage claim.
This is where my new mindset comes out to play. I could open those suitcases and revive the sad stories or I can look at the suitcase and celebrate the knowledge gained from those experiences. My choice. Will it be regret or celebration? There is a boat load of character building and perspective gained as a result of my 50 plus years of baggage!! So I’ve decided to put my emotional baggage to work as a fertilizer for the future. From where I stand, I see no other option.
I am creating a garden of wisdom by turning shit into sunshine!
Oprah often inspires me so I will close with her words. “You are responsible for your life and if you are sitting around waiting for someone to save you, to fix you, to even help you, you are wasting your time, because only YOU have the power to take responsibility to move your life forward. What matters is now, this moment and your willingness to see this moment for what it is. Accept it. Forgive the past. Take responsibility and move forward.”
Find your wisdom. It’s there. You may need to pull a few weeds from your garden before you can see the beauty of what you...
Last July, I participated in a free Facebook challenge and it wasn’t the ice bucket challenge!! This was a challenge to “journal artistically” for 30 days. Based on an email prompt you received daily from Artist Lisa Sonora, you would fill the page with the ideas inspired by the prompt. (getting started with a blank page is often the hardest part so the prompt was really helpful!) You had complete freedom to do whatever the heck you wanted! I admit, doing anything on a daily basis is hard, especially something new AND in an area where you are weak but during July something magical happened. I got FREE-feeling. I felt the freedom creativity invites in to your brain.
What hooked me? First it was the feeling of pure relaxation I felt when working without a timeline and without rules. Color inside the lines or not. Make a collage or not. Watercolor your doodle or not. There were no wrong answers – only a blank page for exploration. You were on a journey to see where the images took you. The activity invited in a freshness to my thinking as it swept out the stress.
I never considered myself an artist. My Dad could draw really well. So why would this type of artsy crafty project make me feel anything but frustrated? I am not sure I can answer that question because I felt completely opposite. I felt as if my creativity faucet opened full blast and goodness poured through me and out of me.
“Stepping out of her shadow, it was her turn to shine.”
This simple (and FREE) challenge opened the door to a new way of thinking and of a great way to express myself.
Last week was really a tough one; tough with a capital T. My feeling was, “I can’t take any more!” When it was time to journal how would I visually represent my tumultuous day? All that came to mind were spirals and scribbles. You see, when I am super stressed, my brain can’t track a thought and there are so many thoughts that it becomes a forest of confusion. The page was so full of ugly scribbles that I almost threw it away! As I stared at it, the scribbles started to look more like flowers.
Flowers? I added a little more detail and colored them in. Yes, it was a garden of flowers.
Let it Gooooooooo! Let go of all that you cannot control. See ya.
“Even amongst the chaos, you can still find beauty. “ Now that is a tweetable moment!
“Worries spiral in my head yet despite the chaos, I can still find beauty.”
What a beautiful and satisfying way to end the day. Even when the shit hits the fan, it may look like flowers. Ha, ha! That’s totally gross. My point is that you can chose to find the beauty within the shit...