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,
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...
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,
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 !
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,
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...
I love birthdays! In fact, I usually have a big birthday bash but this year I am feeling a little quiet, a little more contemplative. As a gift to both myself and to my followers, I have special surprises lined up in the month of November. Think of it as a little sunshine coming from my keyboard to your screen. A dose of quirky humor and a whole lot of moxy! Dive inside my head for a virtual our of Cara 2.0!
If you use Periscope (live streaming interactive video chats), you can find me a few times a week broadcasting with a motivational group called #Peri10k. I feel so “with it” to be using this technology! I actually was on Periscope before my kids were – an AWESOME feeling. Yes, I proudly still use AOL account but my Periscope account balances it out! Retro and Hip, right?
Happy Birthday to me! I wish us all an abundance of the “5 C’s”:
If you enjoy reading My Girlfriend Voice, I would be very appreciative if you signed up to follow me by email — the link is towards the upper right hand corner of the web page. I promise not to SPAM you! I won’t sell your email address unless you make me really angry. Ha!
With giggles and mucho moxy,
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...
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...