Quiet time. I used to fear the expanse of nothingness. I didn’t want to be alone with myself and my thoughts. Then there was the belief that doing nothing was equivalent to being lazy and no one needs another negative label. I may not know everything but I do know that I am not lazy.
I don’t need to plan the rest of the day or think about the week ahead— it all can wait while I sit with this one cup. Most importantly I don’t need to know HOW or WHEN or WHY. I savor every aspect of this ten minute sensory experience.
I have written and rewritten this sentence at least fifty times. How do I express my outrage regarding the murder of George Floyd on the heels of Ahmaud Arbery and Breona Taylor’s deaths? I am more than outraged but lack a word that fully describes my combined anger, frustration, intolerance and impatience for change.
I estimate that it was four to five years ago when I first heard the term “white privilege” I already knew that my skin color granted me much more freedom than black and brown people. Have we forgotten that this country was built on genocide and slave labor? Shamefully the oppression continues. I have to do more, say more, be more, lead more, learn more.
My voice and my actions are integral to the solution.
It’s more accurate to say I knew that I held white privilege but I didn’t really know the extent of my privilege. It’s absolutely necessary that I come clean with you. Not going deep enough in my white privilege blinded me from the racist threads residing in my DNA and that I unconsciously oppress BIPOC. Absolutely f-ing blind to me and this realization makes me sick.
I have already started my undoing. I’m not telling you this for a pat on the back but rather to encourage you to take action too. While I am not afraid to speak my mind, I must reevaluate my language and my beliefs at every single and cellular level. I’ve started reading “White Fragility” by Robin Diangelo. Today I attended a seminar on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion for White Coaches led by Trudi Lebron. (Excellent!) My first goal is to be explicit in my mission as an Anti-racist woman and leader.
My Girlfriend Voice is a hate-free anti-racist platform for women.
My Girlfriend Voice supports equity, diversity and inclusion.
I will speak to hate and take action against hate and all forms of discrimination and inequity; even subtle bias. It’s likely I will make mistakes and no worries, I will be accountable for them all. I hope you have the same attitude. I will call out racism whenever and wherever I see it; even when inconvenient. It’s going to make a lot of people uncomfortable.
My Girlfriend Voice is a brave space.
I used to say that I’d created a sacred space but that term no longer seems to describe the Girlfriend Voice community. Brave is defined in the dictionary as to endure or face unpleasant conditions or behavior without showing fear. We will respectfully address all stigma-laden topics including race. This is a safe, courageous, respectful gathering place. I believe brave people welcome introspection and participation in change.
And a comment regarding “spiritual bypassing:”. I am not going to paint rainbows and sing kumbaya, sidestepping these important issues or pretending they don’t exist. Hell no. In my journey to learn, practice and teach about self-limiting beliefs and empowerment, I am going to examine historical, cultural and religious based...
A guest blog submission by Karen Schlaegel.
At the time of writing, the world is going through a pandemic. The Corona virus is dominating the news worldwide. It’s something we have never experienced and it is affecting every single one of us (without a doubt, some more than others).
And while the pandemic is unprecedented in this form, we all know and have experienced that life can be tough. We have all faced challenges of varying degrees. And when I say “challenges”, I also mean heart-breaking pain that at times seems all-consuming and which we feel we’ll never recover from. So, is it cynical to talk about staying positive in times of crisis? Is it even feasible?
While I agree that even during our darkest moments, we can take away a life lesson, a positive mindset to me doesn’t mean that we should push away feelings of pain and simply plaster over them with “positive feelings”. Cultivating a positive attitude does not equal denial of everything else nor does it mean forcing ourselves to look for the positives in everything.
So, what does a positive mindset look like then? And is it something we can maintain during our darkest moments or do we need to accept that it becomes useless during crisis times like these? I personally believe a positive mindset makes a huge difference to how we live our lives and how we cope with shitstorms. But it really mustn’t be mistaken for being happy all the time.
Here are the elements that I consider crucial in cultivating a positive mindset and the combination of which helps me personally to navigate life’s “challenges” (aka shitstorms).
- Feel it all.
This can be tough. Much tougher than it sounds. I certainly have the tendency of wanting to avoid painful emotions. We sometimes feel that if we let ourselves feel the pain fully, we’ll never recover. We feel it’s too much to endure. But trying to suppress them just means that they’ll resurface again. And again. Try to sit with all feelings. Cry and scream if you feel like it. Breathe mindfully to get yourself through the storm of emotions raging inside.
- Acceptance and self-compassion
We often exacerbate our feelings by getting frustrated with ourselves. When the whole Corona crisis kicked off, I had a few very heavy days. I felt very scared. At the same time, I also felt shame and guilt to even feel that way, when others were putting their lives at risks every single day – while I was sat safely at home. You are most likely always going to find somebody who is worse off than you – but that doesn’t take away your pain and it doesn’t make your feelings any less valid. It can certainly help to put things into perspective, but it does not help to condemn ourselves for feeling them in the first place (by the way, this also applies to judging other people’s feelings ). We need to accept our feelings as they are. And just as you would with a...
"It’s January and everyone is talking about what needs to change as if nothing is good enough; as if I am not good enough. What if I like the way things are? Is there something wrong with me?
Last Saturday, it dawned on me that there are many parts of my life that feel really good. I feel stable, aligned…… solid! I’m content. But I kept hearing everyone talking about the changes they should make like….
- Change now and earn more money.
- Change now and find love.
- Change now and lose 50 lbs!
- Change now and never feel sad again.
I can’t say that I’ve ever started a new year feeling as positive as I am right now. My tendency is to pick apart any accomplishment crediting “I was just lucky” instead of honoring my effort. And my “gap analysis” of what didn’t get done in 2019 is far more focused on what fell short or is lacking more than any progress or success.
Of course there are things I want to change in 2020! I have a mindset that enjoys continuous improvement. This is very different than coming from a mindset of criticism and punishment. For instance,
- I bought a standing desk so I am not as sedentary on office days
- I will increase my awareness to catch myself anytime I feel resistance and then PAUSE; become curious instead of critical.
- I’d will be healthier which includes healthy food choices, weight loss and movement.
And there are things that I won’t change like how I align myself with positive people, laugh too loud and wear pajamas as much as possible!
" What is really clear is that change has to come from an internal place; a decision that I myself make and a process I manage. I’ll be my own boss, Baby! You can stay in your own lane!
A request for you to change which is really an ultimatum. Nope. Doesn’t feel very good on the receiving end plus it’s great fuel for ongoing resentment.
A request for you to change as the result of unsolicited advice. No way.
A request for you to change so you “fit in better” or join the popular crowd is also really unacceptable. Uniqueness is a gift.
"Any request for you to change is not going to be successful unless you buy into the benefit of the change. The motivation must come from within; from the place of clear choice.
I’ve spent years wishing, suggesting and threatening my son to change. He has a substance use disorder and I cannot control him or his disease. Talk about sobering! There has been both a physical and mental not to mention financial toll which threatened my own health and sanity. It’s taken me thirteen years to understand that all I can do is love my son and equally love myself while practicing healthy boundaries.
So in closing, remember that you have the ultimate right and responsibility AND CHOICE regarding change. Go out and live large; change or no change required. You are a beautiful human. Don’t forget to use your Girlfriend...
She’s a sneaky little b…it….ch! I can’t even write a gratitude list without her criticism. Ugh. Nona, always chirping in my ear.
Nona is my ever present Inner Critic. The first step in managing her bitchy cacophony is separating myself from her abusive banter. As convincing as she may sound, she is NOT me.
As part of an end of my year reflection process, I created a gratitude list. When you do this type of thing you don’t force the process. My goal was ten things I am grateful for TODAY.
First observation. It was hard to get to 10 items.
- I survived heartbreak.
- My divine Soul-sisters.
- My sons and our relationship.
- I can support myself.
Breathe. Get curious. Keep going. Here’s three more.
- I’m optimistic by nature.
- Food, shelter, clean water, medical care.
- My empathy.
Pausing. My brain is blank. Pausing…….. Only 3 more!
- I’m a natural leader.
Why is this so hard? I have a great life!
- My higher power, angels, guides and protectors.
Only one more…..
OK, got it.
- My willingness to learn!
Nona is shaming me for taking 33 minutes to come up with ten items. And now comes feelings of embarrassment. I ask myself, why aren’t I more thankful for other people or things? This list is mostly about being grateful for ME.
And here’s where Nona gets going…….. OMG why are you so selfish? Why are you grateful for “I can support myself” and “Your willingness to learn”? Why is it always about you? This is dumb.
This is an old groove I fall into because the tunes been with me far longer than it has not. Nona asks why I pump up my chest and talk about myself.
“Because it’s MY gratitude list! Of course it’s all about me! Nona, you just worry too much.”
Do I sit in blame, shame and guilt? At times, yes, but it’s not where I take up residence. I spend far less time in those shadows. Again, “going small” is a familiar place but it doesn’t serve me to retreat.
I am aware. I allow the feelings to surface. I’m curious.
1. I survived heartbreak.
2. My Soulful women’s community.
3. My boy’s and our relationship.
4. I can support myself.
5. I’m optimistic by nature.
6. I have food, shelter, clean water and medical care.
7. My empathy for others.
8. I am a natural leader.
9. My higher power guides, angels, protectors and spirits.
10. My willingness to learn.
I'm feeling much better now that Nona and I had this talk. Have you given your Inner Critic a name? It makes is so much easier to have these conversations when you know who you are talking to. Remember don’t believe everything you think or what your NONA-voice tells you!
From the heart,
Knowing that your often put yourself last and
that this time of year is especially stressful,
…..this is one of the best gifts you can give yourself……
As little as 90 seconds of slow breathing benefits you both physically and mentally so a 12 minute investment will deliver you to a place of heavenly bliss! Stay healthy and enjoy the holiday season!
From the heart,
Where did the year go? The days leading up to summer and the July 4th weekend moved at a snail’s pace and now it’s December 9th. Geez Louise!
While I welcome a cool, rainy winter, once the days lengthen my energy dramatically decreases. I wouldn’t say I fall into a funk but my need for reflective solitude and sleep significantly increases. It’s ironic that my desire for “quiet time” falls during one of the most socially demanding seasons of the year.
What strategy will keep you healthy, the ultimate priority, yet engaged with friends and family? The first step is setting your intention for what you feel is a healthy commitment level — think about what works well for you BEFORE the invitations arrive.
My Girlfriend Voice’s Social Season Survival Tips
1. Strike a balance. You don’t have to say yes to EVERY invitation. I prefer a relaxed Sunday evening because Monday mornings come too soon. “Thanks for inviting me but I am not available.” Short, simple and timely. Truthful and the sooner the better.
2. Create an EXIT strategy. When you say yes, plan the duration of your visit before you arrive. If you carpool then you are dependent upon someone else. Is it better to drive alone or take a car? I also tip off the hostess that I am stopping by but won’t be able to stay long.
3. Tell the TRUTH. You don’t have to make up an elaborate excuse for why you cannot attend or why you plan to leave early.
4. No ghosting. Don’t avoid responding because it’s seriously inconsiderate. #dontberude
5. Be mindful of how alcohol and sugar impact your mood. Alcohol definitely impacts my mouth! ‘Tis the season to overindulge but wisely.
For those hostesses I know well, I will share that my anxiety is at it’s highest during the holidays so I’m striking a balance between the parties and my quiet time.
6. Feeling obligated. There is something about the word “obligation” that drives me nuts! I am thoroughly grounded in the belief that I always have a choice. Obligation negates choice. If I feel obliged to see someone or attend an event, a kernel of resentment is planted. I feel stuck. I much prefer choosing how I spend my time and with whom I spend it!
My love language is definitely doing for others. And because I equate loving with doing, it’s easy to overdo. It’s easy and I enjoy it! So how do I strike a healthy balance?
1. I stay present to the sensations in my body. The body doesn’t lie. Whats your gut telling you?
2. With curiosity, I take inventory of my feelings. It’s an objective summary — no shaming.
3. I’m especially tender with any “shadow” feelings; sadness, grief, frustration, etc. All feelings are valid.
4. Feelings drive actions. If I want to feel peaceful, what actions will enhance peaceful feelings? I align my actions with how I want to feel.
5. Finally, surround...
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.
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...