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,
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...
Girlfriend, you are so accustomed to your features that you forget just how beautiful you are to strangers!
Beauty stems from shining bright and living unapologetically!
Beauty isn’t defined by age, dress size or color.
Beauty is confidence.
Be YOU and you’ll be beautiful!
From the heart,
#mygirlfriendvoice #beauty #agelessbeauty #bodypositive #beauthentic #smile #shinebright
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...
Hello Girlfriends! I am curious to know if after you read last week’s blog post, did you give yourself permission to do something differently? Did you take a step away from your comfort zone? Even a baby step is a step in the right direction.
I took action and gave myself permission to do something differently. I took myself out of a leadership role for an event in September. You see, I like to DO. I like to GIVE. The issue is that I can commit to so much activity that I over-do; I over-give. I exhaust myself.
Doing too much is my comfort zone.
Distraction and numbing techniques can be disguised as the overachieving professional superwoman! You want me on your team. You trust me to make things happen on schedule….. BUT……. I pay a price for my diligence because I give more than I get.
There are many times when I have said to friends, “I want to fly under the radar.” They laugh because they know how hard it is for me to step back and follow. Even if I don’t speak a word, my energy is LOUD.
For a long time I lived in another comfort zone called “anger”. I was angry at everything, dammit! In retrospect , I was in love with the power I felt while angry. I couldn’t access my power unless I was angry.
The Anger Zone
Thank goodness life kicked my butt. (Boy did it take a long time to be able to say that!!!) I stopped “shaming and should-ing” all over myself because when you fall to your knees, you have a choice to remain miserable on the floor or to get up and live differently. It’s your choice.
I am not saying that anger is always a bad thing. Anger can fuel change. The danger was that I was far too comfortable living in grimace-ville — I had earned a blackbelt in badass bitchiness!
I’ve graduated to positivity-ville where my power comes from diving into an understanding of who I am and identifying what is important to me. I love my imperfections, my boldness and my infinite curiosity. I love my ability to be self-aware and to share my beliefs. I love living in my truth.
My power is tied to my inner voice and my wisdom. My Girlfriend Voice is present because I make space for her guidance. I believe in my ability to make good decisions and to weather any storm. Sometimes I don’t like sitting in discomfort or “adulting”and that is OK. I’m only human!
Finding your voice is finding your power. Finding your voice doesn’t mean you have to respond. You can deliberately say nothing or do nothing. This quiet power is so damn delicious.
Personal power is an infinite resource!
Plug Into Your Power
It takes courage to dive in, doesn’t it? I didn’t like everything I discovered on my journey to finding myself, however I can expand and leverage the things that I...
Oopsie! I had a premature post there a little bit ago – hopefully that won’t happen again. I’m using the WordPress site on my IPad as my laptop died on me. So inconsiderate!! I just lost an entire post so I’m grabbing a sangria and starting over. Cheers! …………
Ok, Girlfriends, I need to rant. I need to blow off a little steam and GET THIS OFF MY CHEST. I don’t want to go to carry around this angst.
So what has my panties in a twist? Take a guess……
My kids? Surprisingly no.
My X-husband, “Mr. MF-Ski”? Nope.
My boss? Ha, ha, no. He has been behaving lately.
I am not pissed about my cellulite, how the refrigerator stinks (again), the high cost of living in the Bay Area or how hard it is to find stylish walking sandals that don’t look like Grandma Wilma’s orthopaedics!
I am breathing hard because I am FED UP. Enough already!
I have heard too many excuses; excuses like you don’t have time, you don’t have a choice, you don’t have a small waist or a big bank account…… you don’t think your opinion matters, you don’t want to rock the boat, blah, blah, blah!
You don’t want to date until you lose ten pounds. You don’t want to travel until you retire. You don’t want a new job because you don’t like change.
…….. ……….. ………. ……. You don’t have any problem complaining though. ………that’s the part that annoys me!
I see your heavy heart. I feel your outrage. I hear your desperation.
Your pain is very familiar to me.
Like you, I chose to play it safe. I lived surrounded by walls built by my own fear. I put everyone else and everything else first. I either numbed or distracted myself to keep from feeling anything. I blamed everyone and everything for my UN-everythingness!!
Superwoman puts up with bullshit because she can; she’s a fictional character!!! We on the other hand are only human!
I used to live that way but I don’t do that anymore. I gave myself permission to think and act differently. I’m in no way perfect- I still slip up and indulge in a bitchfest or feel sorry for myself. Progress not perfection, Girlfriends!
When I was in the elementary school, I pitched an idea to my teacher. We had a trash problem on the playground and I told her that we could solve the issue if we bedazzled our trash cans. “Let’s make it fun to throw away our trash!” ! Ok, I didn’t use the word bedazzled in 1972 but this is a true story! The project was approved. I moved ahead with my idea. The can said, “FEED ME’ and featured Lucy from The Peanuts.
Fear has a way of looking really attractive; like a big colorful trashcan called Lucy who eats your dreams. The more you feed the fear, they more fear grows and keeps you small.
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,