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...
Last week I bought tickets to a program featuring Don Miguel Ruiz, the author of The Four Agreements, when he spoke in San Francisco. You may recognize his name because his book was on the New York Times best seller list for over seven years. The practical wisdom contained in The Four Agreements transforms lives, including mine. (You will find more about this book at the end of my post.)
I continue to learn from Don Miguel. My newest learning or as I like to say, “MY Aha Moment”, came when he said, and forgive me for paraphrasing his words, “Do not allow yourself to be a secondary character in your story. You are the primary author. Be a primary character too. Write with the pen that you hold in your own hand.”
It makes so much sense! When you surrender your story (your life) to the control of someone else, you lose the ability to chart the course! You don’t have any influence over the tone or tempo of the narrative. They may even write you out of your story altogether!
Are you willing to abandon your story – the treasury of your dreams, passions and goals?
I hope you are shouting a resounding “HELL NO, GIRLFRIEND!!”. You get one shot in this life so you better take it. Stop treating your life as if it were a dress rehearsal. Please, WRITE YOUR OWN STORY because we are waiting to witness your brilliance. Shine on!
Oh and if you don’t like your story, REWRITE it! Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
Realistically though, we sometimes have days or moments when we feel a little “less than”, you know the days you prefer to wrap up in a blanket and protect yourself from the demands of the day? You may find these mantras helpful as you make the shift towards regaining control.
- I have the right to direct the course of my life. This is my story and I am the primary character.
- I will not allow anyone to disrespect my mind or my body.
- I am the only person responsible for my happiness. It is an inside job!
- I have the power to say yes. I have the power to say no.
- I am perfectly imperfect. I do not chase perfection.
- I am worthy of love. True love is unconditional.
- I will find compassion for what I do not understand.
- I choose positivity over negativity. I choose the light over the dark.
- I will surround myself with people worthy of my time and attention. Time is valuable.
- I am never alone when I love the person I have become.
In the comments below, please feel free to add your mantras to my list of empowering statements. Together we can hold each other up. Your life = your story. I can’t wait to read the next chapter!
From the heart,
I found this really nice review of the Four Agreements on www.toltecwisdom.com I picked up the book in 2000 because EVERYONE was talking about it. Don Miguel’s wisdom is simple, timeless and...
Perfectly Imperfect Badass
The thrill is in the hunt and the hunt I am referring to is treasure hunting for goodies at art fairs and thrift shops. I scored last weekend when I found a lovely handmade necklace. Here is the cool part. The delicate silver chain supports a tiny rectangle that says BADASS. It doesn’t scream BADASS because the word is stamped in Braille. I can wear it 24/7 and not offend anyone; unless you are blind and happen to have your hands around my neck. I am giddy about my secret moniker which serves as a personal reminder that I am enough. I am powerful. I am a BADASS!
Badass sounds great but what I am really describing is confidence. Necklace or not, a confident woman is comfortable in her own skin and defines her personal sense of style. She definitely is in touch with what she desires and takes action toward her goals. She colors inside and outside of the lines! Confident women face their fears while oozing positive energy.
A confident woman appreciates external validation and achievements but she is not dependent upon them. She communicates her power with her walk and her smile. You sense her before you hear her speak.
How do you find your confidence? Confidence is built from self-love. You confidence reservoir is ready to be filled!
- Make a list of your positive attributes. It doesn’t matter if there is only one thing on your list. Start there. Then love the heck out of that part of you. Celebrate your strengths. Be grateful.
- Post a note on the bathroom mirror reminding you that you are an exceptional human. Set a daily alarm to remind you of your strengths at least once a day.
- Be aware of how you speak to yourself. If you tell yourself you are a loser, you are going to believe you are a loser. Often we speak to ourselves so harshly, much more harshly than we would speak to a friend. The Tiny Talk demons (critical voices) can bring out the worst in anyone.
Confidence ebbs and flows. You can have confidence in some areas of your life, like on the job, and not in others, like with dating. Confidence is a belief in your abilities which is validated by experience.
If you met me you’d likely say I was one of the most confident women you’d ever meet. Yes, I am very confident but I bet you didn’t guess I was also one of the most self-critical women you’d ever meet? My Tiny Talk is dominated with the voice that picks me apart like vultures on fresh road kill. I’ve become “Oscar-worthy” when it comes to acting like nothing bothers me but actually, I am quite sensitive. I like to use visual reminders that I am worthy so if a necklace reminds me that I am an awesome then so be it. Simple strategies are good strategies.
But I blame the necklace for what happened...
There are certain songs that grab your attention because you think that the lyrics were either written about you or just for you. One of those songs is “BRAVE” by Sara Bareilles. While I have not seen the movie, I do love the song. It starts out:
You can be amazing
You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
Or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love
Or you can start speaking up
Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way words do
And they settle ‘neathy your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins
But I wonder what would happen if you
(now the chorus)
Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave
BRAVE. I used to define bravery as taking action in the face of life threatening danger. Police officers, firefighters, and soldiers are brave but now I realize I was wrong. Without diminishing these examples of bravery, it is only fair to acknowledge that bravery includes a far larger group of people.
Bravery can be found in all of us; amongst everyday people living everyday lives.
For example, you discovered your voice and publicly expressed your opinion, putting aside the fear of ridicule, making a mistake and rocking the boat. You are brave.
You asked for help because it was getting too difficult to deal with the dark, self-defeating thoughts shouting in your head. You are brave.
You said no instead of yes. You are brave.
We all have the opportunity to experience quiet, private moments of bravery and these moments are worth acknowledging. They are steps worthy of celebration. Brave doesn’t have to be BIG because Brave is BIG.
Brave is sitting with your feelings.
Brave is acknowledging what scares you.
Brave is forgiving yourself.
Brave is opening your heart to love again.
Brave is doing the right thing, not the easy thing
Brave is starting a conversation that matters.
Brave is saying you are sorry.
Brave is trying something new.
The song continues:
Everybody’s been there, everybody’s been stared down
By the enemy
Fallen for the fear and done some disappearing
Bow down to the mighty
Don’t run, stop holding your tongue
Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is (now the chorus)
Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave
The funny thing is that everyday people rarely think of themselves as brave. Me included!! But remember, you have courageously stared down your fear and bravely moved forward. You heard your inner voice saying, “you got this” or “you can do it” and that any outcome is better than the status quo. Brave people hear their wise Girlfriend Voice urging them on.
Brave is letting go of what doesn’t serve you.
Brave is risking failure.
Brave is telling your story; without skipping the ugly...
Singlehood of The Traveling (Hiking) Pants
It’s September and I love this month for so many reasons but especially because it is a month of transition. I am still transitioning even though it’s been a year since the “Un-divorce” became final — final. To celebrate the next chapter of my independent life, I gifted myself a two week SOLO adventure to Peru– my first time in South America! I have to admit that I am quite proud of myself for possessing the courage to get away without a traveling companion. As a result, I feel stronger both mentally and physically.
Now why Peru of all places? I have been fortunate to visit places like The Great Wall of China, The Pyramids in Egypt and Angor Wat in Cambodia so I was anxious to explore the ancient Incan ruins of Machu Picchu. More importantly, I was ready to explore myself — take a deep turn inward by creating the space necessary to get in touch with my Soul and clear out the clutter! Plus there is something delicious about being “anonymous” in a foreign country that deepens my sense of adventure. Plus — plus, Latin men are “muy caliente”! (“Meow,” said the cougar!)
The trip was full of excitingly rich and spiritual experiences as well as many snort and laugh moments such as when my gorgeous tour guide Roger inquired, “What’s wrong with you? You have no husband, no boyfriend and no friends? Why do you travel alone?” My response, “Dearest hot, handsome, young Roger (he is a mere 35 years of age), it is by choice I’m alone and if you keep smiling that way, you are going to get lucky with this Gringa!” OK, I didn’t say ALL of that BUT I thought it quite longingly! Turns out Roger needed no encouragement to pursue said Gringa but that’s another story altogether (wink, wink)!!
Do I always seem to find the party or does the party always find me??? Two memorable evenings included dancing and music. A family invited a few of us into their home for Chicha (Yuck!) and even though they only spoke Quechua, we danced and laughed regardless of the communication barrier. “I don’t need no stink’in language to have a good time!” In another village I joined the festivities by dancing and drinking (bottled beer this time) with beautifully dressed ladies celebrating their patron saint Rosa de Lima. Get drunk and dance, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so hasty to give up Catholicism?
Did you know that the definition of “wealthy” in these villages is simply that there is ample food for the family? In fact many of the indigenous principles still practiced are simple yet extremely powerful. In an article by Dutch journalist Peter Liefhebber he describes, “The Incas had...
Cel-e-brate Good Times, Come On!
Hello! Celebrate (NOT celibate) Good Times! COME ON!! Four years ago I published my first blog on My Girlfriend Voice. Yahoo! I am grateful for the opportunity and courage to share my life with you. Later this week I am taking off on a solo trip of a lifetime and during my adventure, I will be reflecting on the stories I have shared with you. I will also invest some time thinking about what may unfold in future posts.
I feel more empowered than ever that my voice is one that has a place in the world and that my voice may help someone; either with a good old fashioned eye roll, a belly laugh or most importantly, lessen their sense of isolation. You are not alone.
So while I am away, enjoy a few of my previous posts. Here is the one that started it all!!
September 1, 2011
One day I was sitting in traffic when I noted that my critical voice must have gone on sabbatical. I was keeping company with a new voice, more comparable to a trusted girlfriend. She is realistic, always supportive and wise. At times, a tad sassy! While I don’t believe I can completely squelch my critical voice, I can minimize her with the banter of My Girlfriend Voice.
Call me crazy, I agree but it is the good kind of happy crazy! Seriously though, what type of info does My Girlfriend Voice affectionately whisper in my ear?
- On receiving feedback on a project: You could take those comments personally or take them seriously. It’s not about you here.
- When the teenager becomes the “mean-ager”: BREATHE This child is trapped in a hormonally laden body and someday you will like each other again.
- After a particularly frustrating day: You ARE good enough just as you are in this very moment. Pause and celebrate your splendid self.
So how did My Girlfriend Voice evolve? I won’t bore you with the details of what I affectionately term my decade of drama or “DD” but let me say that I was continually given more than I thought I could handle. While I manifested a Martha Stewart exterior, my interior was one hot mess. Talk about tumultuous! At the same time, I was approaching the magical period in life where you learn who you are and where your passions reside. Much easier said than done and if you don’t agree, you should stop reading here. We can’t be friends.
Eight years into my “DD”, I hit bottom. Nothing made sense or satisfied me. My sadness loomed larger than any other emotion. I needed help but this power woman would rather walk naked through rush hour traffic than ask for help. Somewhere though, I heard a voice that said “THIS” is bigger than you and you deserve happiness. Viola’! My Girlfriend Voice makes her debut. (BTW, I...
Cutting Down the Tall Poppies
You may be able to relate to these thoughts. You are at your exercise class and you can’t help but zero in on the one person present that doesn’t seem to sweat. Her moves are effortless, completely graceful and actually beautiful to observe. I on the other hand grab a sweat rag because I drip rather than glow as soon as I exert any effort! For a few seconds I think I hate that seemingly tight bodied perfect woman!
A few more seconds go by and I stop hating her as my thoughts lighten and move toward gratitude. I feel a sense of awe at her dedication and while I know nothing of her personal story, she works hard at staying healthy. I applaud her. I am inspired by her. I want to be more like her! I’m in love with the perfect girl!
But what if I didn’t let my hateful feelings evaporate? My stinging annoyance would build into burning resentment and soon all of my thinking would be TOXIFIED. Unknowingly, the woman becomes the target of my rage – the dartboard for my dart.
This is an example of Tall Poppy Syndrome. According to the illustrious Wikipedia, it is defined as a pejorative term primarily used in Anglosphere nations to describe a social phenomenon in which people of genuine merit are resented, attacked, cut down, or criticized because their talents or achievements elevate them above or distinguish them from their peers.
I can relate to being the Tall Poppy. Being a former beauty queen, you would think I would be comfortable about my appearance but I still have trouble accepting a compliment! I feel far more comfortable hiding in a group – wanting to be average. Please know me as smart, not pretty! I wanted to be beige as to not attract too much attention. I was fighting against my need to shine because somehow shining was and is too dangerous.
I wanted to known by you but not seen by you. I’m complicated that way.
Over the years I have become comfortable in my own skin. I could really appreciate how Selma Hayek said in an interview with Oprah, “You simply have to be who you are. Yes, I am beautiful. I have thighs and a butt. I have cellulite. I fight with it every day. I don’t exercise. I eat pork and I love red wine. But yes, I am beautiful and famous—and yet the things I like about myself have nothing to do with that…..” YES! She is more than her looks or her fame.
Last week a friend asked me how I managed to remain so positive despite years of struggle. She said, “You make life look so easy and sometimes I just have to hate you.” We laughed and I deeply appreciate her honesty. I told her that I still have days when I can’t get off the couch because my emotions overwhelm me but in general I have developed some pretty good coping...
If Your Happy and You Know it Thank Your Ex!!!
There was something electric in the air last Sunday. Everywhere I went I received a healthy amount of attention—both male and female. I had on jeans with a simple top, little make up and my hair had that “just blown in from the beach” look (aka three days without a shampoo). I was out and about, enjoying the company of friends after an afternoon dance workshop. I wasn’t dressed to impress by any means.
At a restaurant, an older gentleman sauntered over to ask me, “Do you always wear clothing to match your eyes? Your eyes are like Blue Diamonds. I am going to call you that, Blue Diamond!” I was flattered (I have a soft spot for sweet old men) until I realized Blue Diamonds sounds like a cleaning product — it is also a brand name for dog food so I am feeling less inclined to monogram my towels “B.D.” Still, that old geezer meant well. Such a cutie! You have to give him credit for coming over to chat.
Another man approached me to tell me that while he now has a girlfriend, he was guilty of having a crush on me for the last two years. He said, “The moment I looked into your eyes I felt a connection with you! I’ve always hoped we could get together but now I’m taken.” I paused and smiled. I practiced looking happily surprised rather than creeped out. It was a chance to practice kindness. I graciously thanked him and wished him a very long and healthy relationship. Mazel tov. Invite me to your wedding!
My favorite moment of the day was when a gentleman came over and said, “I’ve been watching you and how people react to you. You really light up the room. I wanted to come over and tell you.” I was momentarily speechless. (a rare moment, huh?) This was an impressive conversation starter and I was hooked. We continued to chat for another twenty minutes about topics that I love such as authenticity, positive energy and the advantages of living gratefully. How refreshing to have a real conversation with a stranger, especially a man! And then he left me, never asking for my phone number nor commenting about my eyes. Wait, don’t you like my eyes? LOL
Why was this conversation the best part of my day? Yes it was flattering to be approached but the BIG reason is that this stranger confirmed that the work I do internally is manifesting externally. My happiness is showing!
For years I wanted to be seen as the perfect wife, the dedicated mother and the consummate professional because I equated success in those roles with a happy life. It is not an easy formula. I was handing over my happiness to the “other half” of the equation; the husband, the child, the job!
Years later I realize that I am not going to be happy unless I...
My positive, supportive, wise inner voice! She is my advocate. She is invested in the “authentic me”.
Last week I wrote about how I wanted to find an image to illustrate the concept of My Girlfriend Voice. Here is how I see this wonderfully positive, supportive and wise woman who resides in my Soul. This is what I see today and perhaps the look will change with the seasons……. Putting a face with a name helps me connect with her!
What does your Girlfriend Voice look like?
In this moment, she is telling you that you are beautiful and everything you need to be. You are good enough. You are a gift to the world! Can you hear her speaking to you?
From the heart,
I have been paying attention to My Girlfriend Voice more than ever lately. I needed to slow down, simplify and most importantly, unplug. You may have noticed my absence.
You see, I had a realization. Each and every day, I am overwhelmed with information. I am hungry for information and read articles with titles such as Grounded in Gratitude, The Power of Forgiveness, Living with Compassion and the like….. While I love to search and evaluate new learnings, this process is taking me away from myself and my intuition.
Simplifying is not just how many things I own or how I schedule my time. I am simplifying the information I TAKE IN to my brain. I am simplifying my responses, my OUT PUT.
I have never worked so hard doing less. I can talk the talk but am I walking the walk? Are my actions in alignment with my words?
My Girlfriend Voice reminds me that all of the answers I need reside within. Once I am quiet, I can hear the music in my breath. I can feel the quiet flow of wisdom in my soul. I can relax into trusting that everything is going to be OK.
“Your mind knows only some things. Your inner voice, your instinct, knows everything. If you listen to what you know instinctively, it will always lead you down the right path.”
What is your path? I would love to hear about it.
This photo of Point Reyes, CA is a gift from Heather. Thank you!
From the heart,
So Sadness Enhances Creativity?
I was listening to a radio interview on the topic of creativity and one statement stuck in my brain. Four days later and I’m still thinking about the theory that sad people are the most creative people. At first I thought of tortured artists like Van Gough and Pollack but weren’t they dealing with more than mere sadness? OK, perhaps I am getting too analytical.
When I was sad, I didn’t feel the creative spirit pouring out of me. I was tired and cried all the time. My most creative venture was getting dressed—if there was anything clean to wear! If I was really creative I could a make dinner out of supplies in the pantry.
Why would sadness unleash creativity? My theory is that the INNER CRITIC voice may be dampened to the degree that creativity sees an opening and feels safe to explore.
Blessings did arise from my sadness. Through cognitive behavior therapy, I learned how to work with my emotions and completely embrace myself. I am a work in progress, don’t get me wrong, but I start each day grounded in gratitude and seeking happiness.
My Girlfriend Voice (MGV) came to light during my sadness. I noticed I had this soothing, compassionate voice in my head. For example, if I was contemplating how to handle a snarky comment from my former boss my MGV would say, “You can go down to their level or just let it go. You’ll make the right choice”. The choice was mine. I love having choices!
Had I listened to my inner critic that day, it probably would have said, “Here we go again. Why do you put up with this crap? Why don’t you have a new job? Are you too lazy to look for one? You should…… Why don’t you…. OMG! Loser.”
I came to realize that the words the inner critic was delivering to my head were so harsh, things I would never dare utter out loud to another person. Why would I talk to myself in such an abusive way? My inner-dialogue, lacking any sort of compassion or trust, shredded my self-confidence and squashed my objectivity. It was a form of self-mutilation because words are weapons.
The more I listen to MGV, the less I hear from my inner critic!!
It would be unrealistic to think I could completely eliminate my inner critic. Perhaps there is something important buried in those harsh words? Again, it is my choice to take what I want and leave the rest behind. I’ve tried giving my inner critic an appointment time– like the DMV. I tell her I’ll listen with undivided attention as long as what she says is helpful, kind or beneficial. I’m not into whining or belittling but rather finding a solution. Funny, she hasn’t come to call nearly as often. ♥
From the heart,
Did I Just Say That????
Dang I can be brillant! Have you ever have one of those moments, smack dab in the middle of a conversation, where you say something so amazing that you have to pause and write down your own words? I had one of those recently when chatting with one of my girlfriends!!!
Here is my illuminating moment….. “When it comes to the people in your life, you are either on the same wavelength or you complement one another like Ying and Yang”. If a relationship requires too much fixing, thinking, wishing, primping, etc., then hey, what’s up? Why invest so much energy?
Time is a valuable asset; it is your MOST valuable asset. If you use your time to morph people into something that they are not, is it worth the effort? Even if they go there, they won’t stay there long. Why is it up to you to direct another person to change anyway?
Entering a relationship with the desire to change someone is not going to go well!
Let’s flip the situation because I know people who try to morph me into something I am not to fit THEIR needs! Not only do I feel uncomfortable, I start to resent the feeling of not being good enough. No one defines me but me.
Maybe friendships work for two simple reasons.
- You are on the same wavelength: you can actually finish each other’s sentences! You often communicate without a sound—reading each other’s mind (or eye roll!) Sisters of a different mother! Comfortable.
- You are the complement of one another: the introvert and the extrovert, the left brain and the right brain. You COMPLEMENT one another and there is no pressure to be anything but your lovely self. You bring out the best of one another. Surprisingly this works like Lucy and Ethyl, Laverne and Shirley.
Simple and sweet.
What do think? Do you have more friends in the first category or the second? For me I have very few in the “opposites” category. Can’t wait to hear from you!
From the heart,
Elephant image from laurenconrad.com