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...
Whatever you call her, Mom, Mama, Mother, Mommy, Ma’am……. she’s the woman who brought you into the world and shaped you like no other woman could.
It’s Mother’s Day and my social media feed is full of blooms and boisterous thank you notes. I also read posts from women who wanted children but didn’t have any; women who raised children they didn’t birth and women who grieved the death of a child. Mothers and Motherhood is a complicated subject.
Speaking of complicated, my relationship with my Mom fit that definition — or at least from my perspective. We weren’t allowed to use the “F-word”, you know FEELINGS, so communication relied on the “oh so reliable” mind-reading and making assumptions. God forbid we’d talk about how we felt! It was so much more exciting and dramatic to rely on nonverbal communication and hunches.
You see, as a child all I wanted was my Mom’s undivided attention. I wanted her to love me OUT-LOUD.
My cousins remember my Mom as warm and happy. That’s wonderful and at the same time quite weird! For as long as I can remember, my Mom was never at ease. She cried A LOT – every emotion brought tears. Only with a skilled eye could you decipher if her tears were sad or mad, proud or pissed. I didn’t realize her only coping mechanism was to cry; serving as a pressure release valve for everything she had trouble processing. If I had known this I would have had far more empathy than embarrassment. In fact, we were told not to cry! Crying was weak.
I came to appreciate my Mother much more in my adulthood; especially when I become a Mother myself. While I felt increasing gratitude; there was some slow simmering resentment on the back-burner. Why didn’t she want to be more involved as a Grandma? Why didn’t she want to visit us? Why did she forget to call on my birthday? Yes, even adult women want to be called by their Mama on the day of their birth!
At some point in my forties, I knew I’d have to change my thinking if there was any chance of closing the emotional gap between us. The first order of business was forgiveness; I’d have to accept that Mom was doing the best she could with what she had at the time. It is what it is. Make peace and let that old shit go. I chose to soften my heart before another twenty years flew by.
Another thing, I would have to learn how to communicate with Mom in a way that didn’t feed my resentment but healed my hurting heart. I would speak up lovingly but firmly. It may be dangerous with only one of us speaking a new language but the danger of buried resentment is far more toxic.
Finally, I’d have to let go “the big O”; the OUTCOME. I have no control over how she will respond to me. I cannot choose her words. I seem to be a repeat student with this whole surrendering thing. You’d think I be better at it by now!
"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...
I don’t think I can go more than four hours without stepping on broken glass. Of course this is a metaphor. It’s the best way to describe how I feel when the painful realization surfaces that my oldest son is homeless, mentally ill and addicted to heroin.
I doubt you can imagine the emotions I hold in my heart, let alone comprehend what I’ve witnessed over the last ten years. You can’t imagine how I’ve suffered because frankly, there are no words to describe the depth and darkness of my nightmare.
For Mother’s Day, I’m proud to declare that I’m becoming a mom who won’t let her son’s disease take her life too. I must keep living despite the enormous grief.
While I can’t change everything, I ask that you consider one simple request. Please connect with a relative, coworker, neighbor or friends, whomever you know that may be impacted by addiction, and ask how they are doing AND how their child is doing. Don’t let us suffer alone!
We are avoided like the plague however, please realize that addiction is a disease. Addiction is a disease just like cancer except there are no celebrity sponsors or spaghetti dinner fundraisers. No collectible stamps or invitations to the White House. Addiction is a taboo subject yet millions of our loved ones are in the clutches of this insatiable monster.
Oh Momma…….. My heart is heavy because I learned on Friday that my Mother passed away. Thank God she transitioned swiftly in her own own home and on her own terms. She was terrified of becoming dependent on her children or living in a nursing home.
Mom had inoperable aneurysms and never knew if or when she’d leave us. Our relationship was good; not always easy but really solid. I’m so proud that we were on good terms. My relationship with my Mother was a priority so I forgave her and accepted her for who she was. She was a little wounded bird.
I hold on to her praise and how proud she was to have birthed a woman like me. She revelled in my kindness and my way with words. I still laugh about her asking me, “Why are you so honest?”
Mom loved My Girlfriend Voice and kept a binder of my blog posts. I hadn’t shown her the new MGV website yet — my only regret. She would have loved it— except for the swear words peppered here and there! I’m sassy, what can I say? I have to be true to my voice!
My biggest hope is that my Mom wasn’t afraid to die. I want her to know that everything will be OK here. I’ll grieve her absence and celebrate her memory. Wow, she lived so much longer than any of us expected, having been ill for almost twenty years.
I’ve traveled back “home” to visit her body to kiss her goodbye. I had to touch and talk to her face just once more. Losing your Mother, the person who brought you to Earth, is devastating. I trust that she is free. I trust that she feels complete and worthy. I trust that she is rejoicing with my Dad.
Please keep me, my family and Momma “Kaye” in your prayers. I picture her young and healthy, dancing and laughing— the broken body has been left behind. Her spirit lives within me and amongst us.
Mom is one of the two women who most impacted my life. And for that, I am grateful to be her daughter.
From my broken heart,
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...
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,
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 !
Last fall what I affectionately refer to as my “Un-Divorce” finally became FINAL after a mere seven and a half year process. Initially I was jumping for joy and popping the bubbly because this Mama was hot to trot and ready to prowl! By December and contrary to what I thought was “normal”, I felt like I had been hit by a Mac truck. There were so many emotions seeping to the surface, then like a toddler they were whining for my undivided attention. Darkness surrounded me and I was breathless. I was speechless. Why were these emotions surfacing again and so intensely?
I surrendered to my grief.
Seventeen days of rain and the sappy movies on TV made me feel worse, you know the ones where the woman always finds her happily ever after? Her life gets tied up with a red ribbon in less than ninety minutes. Snotty nosed and spotty faced, the result of chronic ugly crying episodes, I left the safety of my couch only to restock the essentials; Cookies and Kleenex.
To add fuel to my emotional pyre, this was the first year neither one of my sons would be home for Christmas. Here is the visual…….No shower for three days, so I was sticky, snotty and spotty AND on a sugar rush. Not a very pretty picture, even in cute pajamas.
GRIEF….. Unless you have experienced divorce, you may not be able to understand how much it REALLY sucks. Divorce is on the list of the top five stressors in life (death, divorce, moving, job loss and serious illness). Not only was I struggling to get divorced for seven years, I moved three times, struggled with clinical depression and changed jobs twice after a lay off! And I might as well add the stress of being a Modern Day Mother. (Thank God I survived to bitch about this.)
(Thank God I survived to bitch about this.)
It is not like my “X” died – in fact in some ways that may be easier! I wouldn’t have to think about him with his new girlfriend or his white carpeted pied-a-terre. (actually the list is quite long but I restrained myself to the top two on my list!) My grief meant I was letting go of my happily ever after and facing the future alone.
My body vibrated with fear. Most of my critical voices are female but this one was definitely male. It bellowed, “Will you grow old alone? Will you ever find true love? Will your sons be impacted by the divorce and never have healthy relationships? You are pretty old to be starting over.” on and on an on…….
While treading the muddy waters of the last decade, I learned that two things would be important in order to keep myself healthy and my mind present.
- Give back—volunteer. Find a way to help others and practice kindness.
- Commit to self-care and not only cultivate “My Girlfriend Voice” but let her flourish!
Following MGV, I researched various types of...
Author’s Note: I found this blog on my computer, written last April, but not published until today.
Writing has become difficult these days. My brain races from topic to topic. One thing I know is that it would be really easy to list the things I don’t have.
- I lost my job today. I don’t have a rainy day fund. Like California, my bank account is in a drought.
- My son may be heading to prison next month. Mental illness combined with addiction just SUCKS. Just when things are going well, “it” comes out and bites you bad, knocks the breath out of you and feels like acid on your tongue.
- The divorce is still not f-ing finished even though we separated almost seven years ago.
- I grieve after putting my goofy big dog down in February because he had a brain tumor.
- Mom is in the hospital again with a blood clot. Not good.
Lucky for me there is something deep down that that moves me and keeps me from getting stuck. “It’s not my style to be negative,” I say when people ask me how I persevere. Don’t get me wrong. I have moments and sometimes days when I slip into sadness. I am human. I walk that fine line; fearing the fall into another depression. (the sticky dark pit)
My strategy? Every day I live what I speak and my strategy is to focus on my choices. Without choices I WOULD feel hopeless. I would be stuck and probably dead.
I ask myself, “If I don’t like it, can I make a change? Will I practice gratitude or wallow in negativity? “
- The Job—I won’t get caught without an emergency fund again. I will find a new job and make good use of the time off.
- My Son—I can’t describe the pain I feel when my son struggles. It is a visceral ache with no remedy that I carry every waking moment and often in my dreams. Despite numerous hospitalizations and arrests, he is alive. He has his own path and purpose in this lifetime. My lesson is to love without judgment while surrendering any concept of blame or control.
- The Divorce—uhhhh. Enough already! I am going to get this done before the end of the year. Realizing I will never receive the apology I seek from the “X”, I can forgive myself and then celebrate my courage, integrity and endurance.
- Bosco—you were one of a kind dog and so many warm memories remain. I did everything I could but you told me it was OK when you stopped wanting to take walks or tear up the garbage.
- Mom– we can spend time together and I can try to help without the pressure of working.
What else will I do?
I will dance
I will cocoon.
I will laugh.
I will sleep.
I will give.
I will learn.
I will breathe.
I remember the day I understood that MY happiness was strictly MY responsibility. I had been...