Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Honesty and Power of Friendships

What does it mean to you to call yourself a friend?  To me, being a true friend to someone is one of the highest forms of trust and honesty and love you can share with another person.  It's those special people that you share all the parts of yourself with, even the parts you're not the most proud of.  It's knowing that within that sharing of yourself: your good parts, your vulnerable parts, your not-so-pretty parts, you are safe and loved. It's those people you who allow you to be the real you all the time, not just when it's convenient or easy.  

As I've described in other posts, being me is not always easy for me.  It takes courage to be myself and live the life I want to live. It would be easier if I just went with the flow and did the things other people thought I should do, in the ways they thought I should do them. But my true self can't do it that way.  I might try for a little while because it's less painful, fewer pitfalls, less heartache, but there always comes a point when reality comes knocking and says, "Give it up, Girlfriend.  You know you need to do it your way; otherwise, you'll never be truly happy."

Here's where my friends play an integral part in helping me be my best and most real self:  They call me on my crap.  When I am not being me or am doing something out of character, or have just simply gotten off track, they tell me... right to my face, nothing held back, up in my grill tell me.  They don't gossip to others, they don't talk behind my back, they don't betray my trust... they look me in the eye and tell me.  That kind of love and honesty can only come from someone who truly loves me.  I value that part of my friendships more than anything.

I have noticed that I don't have a lot of true friends that fall into this category of love and honesty.  But those that have achieved this level of love with me will be my best friends no matter what happens along our journey.  I will be there to love them and support them no matter where their path may take them, even if we grow apart... and I feel that they will do the same for me.  It's that kind of connection with someone that you can feel in ways you can't describe in words.  It's that feeling that when it's there, you know it.  I can feel it all the way to the core of my being.

So my question to all of you today is are you ready to be you... the real you... the you that wants to go out and achieve something you can feel proud of?  What do you need to make those dreams a reality?  Who do you want to be with you on that path?

As E. E. Cummings said, "It takes courage to grow up and be who you really are."  
So I'm wondering, are you ready for a change?  Let me know... and if you need a friend, a real true friend that will always have your back, let me know. I'm always here...

Monday, April 11, 2011

An attitude of Gratitude

We can't change our past, but we can change our attitude about it.

The longer I live, study, and learn, the more I realize the impact my attitude has on my life. When it comes to the bumps in the road of life, it seems that I am always at a point to choose how to react. I like knowing I have that control, and I like that I can turn my day around simply by changing my attitude.

This understanding doesn't come easily, and it's one of those lessons I have to continually remind myself about, but it is a powerful lesson... and one worth repeating. 

Finding the good in a situation that feels horrible is challenging, if not impossible, especially when you're in the middle of some major turmoil or change in your life that doesn't make sense to you or that you didn't see coming your way.  One method that works for me is to make a list... I call it my "It Could Always Be Worse" list.  I start by thinking about this terrible situation, and then I ask myself, "What could be worse than this?" Of course, it's usually pretty easy to think of something worse, and that thought helps me put my situation into perspective.  Then... and here's the powerful part... I move into a place of gratitude for my current situation.  Yes, gratitude.  I know, sounds crazy; right?  Well, it might be, but it really works, and it helps fill that pothole or smooth out that bump that I just ran into. So feel free to give it a try. Here are a few examples that I have come across of how this might work for you:

Your house is in foreclosure... but your family is still with you.
You were in a car accident... but you weren't seriously hurt.
You broke your arm... but you didn't break your neck.
You are suffering from depression... but you don't have cancer.

You get the idea, things could always be worse, so trying finding gratitude in what didn't happen, but could have.  You may not be grateful for everything that happened, but I bet you can find something to be thankful for, even if it's just a little piece.

I will share with you a quote from The Buddha that I think sums this up:

"Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little; and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick;
and if we got sick, at least we didn't die;
so let us all be thankful."

Friday, March 18, 2011

Fear of your gifts

Gifts.  Not the kind you buy in the mall, the ones that you are born with. What are some of your gifts and how do you use them?  Do you feel comfortable telling people about your gifts, or do you keep the most amazing parts of yourself to yourself?

I have this amazing poem in my office by Marianne Williamson that I would like to share with you.
Fear...Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves, "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?" Who are you not to be? 
You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. You were born to make manifest the Glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us, it is in everyone.
As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people the permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
 I want to stop shrinking and downplaying what I am capable of, but I've gotten into the people-pleasing habit, so I often find myself hiding my gifts.  I greatly admire those people who have developed their gifts and have found the courage to proudly tell the world what and who they are.  I wonder what it would feel like to say out loud and with complete confidence, I am amazing at ____________.  Maybe it's because we don't always feel great about what we're doing, or maybe we're not using our gifts to our fullest potential, or maybe we're just having "one of those days" and we know in our hearts we're not at our best.  But whatever the reason, I wish we could see each others gifts and just accept them as such.

For me, I have been blessed with a lot of gifts. Some of them you may know about, and some of them you may not. I try to use them all, but the uniqueness of some of my gifts often makes me question myself and then I feel insecure. The fear of rejection and judgment gets in my way most often. My personal goal right now is to find the courage to do what my closest friends are always suggesting:  Stand in my light. Be all that I am and embrace all the wonderful things that make me unique.  I want to... I really do, but by doing so, will I find myself more alone and isolated than I already feel?

Since I always find strength in numbers, I would like to invite you to join me on this path. I would welcome the company, and maybe together we can support and encourage each other to be our amazing selves all the time. Just think how empowered we would feel, and we'd be one step closer to creating a brand new, wonderful, amazing US.  Drop me a note and let me know what your gifts are.  If you show me yours, I'll show you mine... 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Making a Difference

"Do not follow where the path may lead - go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
This saying is one I have returned to often during some trying times... so much so that I have it painted on a wall in my Angel Room. I have always been that type of person that just sees things differently than other people, and following a well-traveled road has never come easy for me.  All my life I have thought and dreamed about fitting in, being like everyone else, hangin' with the popular kids, but there was always this voice inside me that said, "It's okay to be different," to which I would say back to myself, "Seriously? Are you kidding?  No, it's not! I have to blend in. I don't want to be different!"  By the way, yes, I do talk to myself; and no, I don't suffer from any serious psychological condition... at least not yet!

Flash to 2007, my daughter starts cheerleading at the Mighty Mite level (6 to 8 year olds), and we come back later in the day one Saturday to watch the older teams play/cheer. I observed a group of the older cheerleaders having one of those girl-type arguments that starts over nothing, escalates into something huge, and everyone is best friends again within an hour. The whole scene brought back memories of that very difficult time in a girl's life that you couldn't pay me to relive - middle school. (Absolutely, hands down, the WORST years of my life.) While watching this situation unfold, I remember wishing that something could be done, a different way to behave could be taught to make these difficult years easier to navigate.

This is where the Divine intervention comes in that I spoke of in my first post. It was one of those moments when you have such a great idea that you know it couldn't have come from your own mind.  I had recently finished a workshop in The Virtues Project and learned some of what I consider my best parenting tools. Why couldn't I apply those same tools to coaching? At that moment, it was like every synapses in my body was firing at the same time. Would it work?  Could it work?  Am I nuts?  Every answer came back a resounding Yes, including the one about being nuts.  But despite my questions and hesitation, I knew I was on to something. And best of all, I would finally be able to do something that would make a difference in the world (or at least in my community.)

Some of what I've tried has worked better than others, but when you're blazing a new trail, there is no manual to follow, it's all done by trial and error... and errors I do make.  But the best part of coaching, teaching, and learning in this way is that it is a passion that brings me so much joy. The thought that I might make a difference in one of my girls' lives, that someday she might stand before an audience of her peers and say, "I once had this cheer coach who taught me..." makes the challenges that continue to be put in front of me worth every frustrating moment of being me.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Keep on keepin' on

So what do you do when you can't take another blow?  How do you get back up when you've been hit so many times that you've stopped counting? As a parent, we teach our kids about perseverance, determination, and courage, but how many of us practice what we preach?

I am a single mom with a beautiful daughter in sixth grade. I run my own small court reporting business, I mentor court reporting students, I provide Reiki services to clients (when they can afford it... and sometimes even when they can't), I am a facilitator for The Virtues Project, and I coach a middle-school-aged cheer squad all while trying to keep a roof over my head in these difficult economic times.  Guess which one of those endeavors causes me the most stress and the least amount of sleep?  It's the coaching - by far the most stressful job I have.

So when I struggle, I turn inward for some serious self-reflection, I turn outward to my best friends, and I turn upward for Divine intervention.  After all, if it wasn't for Divine intervention, I wouldn't be coaching in the first place.I will explain more of this part later.

I thought my journey to this point should be something I document, partly because someday I will not be able to remember all these details, and also because if I wasn't actually living my life, I wouldn't believe any of this was real.This is not where I "planned" to be at age 46, and it certainly wasn't something I was intentionally manifesting, but here I sit completely in awe of what's going on around me and humbled by what I have created...the good, the not so good, and the "I wish this hadn't happend" stuff.

In order to keep myself moving forward and finding the courage to face my own fears, I have accumulated quite a collection of items I find inspirational. I thought I would share them in case anyone else finds themselves on this same path.  Nothing I have found is new... seriously, these thoughts and ideas have been around since the beginning of time, but maybe the way I pull these different philosophies together will help someone else thereby making all these different experiences have a purpose.

While documenting and preserving this journey, I will also give examples of daily life situations, how I handled them, what worked, what didn't, and maybe together we can all find a little more love, support, and a feeling of not being on this journey alone.

So to all my old friends, I wouldn't still be standing without you; to all the friends I hope to make on this path, Hi! and welcome to my adventure...I look forward to getting to know all of you.

Dancing in the Rain

"Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass...it's about learning how to dance in the rain."

This quote is on the wall in my office, and I stare at it every day as I juggle all the various aspects of my life. I have noticed over the last couple of months that this rainstorm is not letting up...in fact, I think it's getting stronger.

I started my day in my Angel Room, the place I find the most inspiration and peace. What's interesting is that while I feel so good when I am in that room, and miracles happened in there all the time, there are days I avoid it altogether. It should be something that is automatic, I should want to go there and become very zen, just like going to the gym and eating healthy; however, that is not the reality. In truth, sometimes I just don't feel worthy of that room and all that it embodies. I've messed up, made mistakes, lost my temper, you name it, and the place I should go to heal, I avoid.  Why do I do that? I ask myself that exact question every time I pass by knowing I should go in and work on myself. And the answer is I avoid because that would require me to go to a place of forgiveness... of myself... and that, for me, is a struggle.

I can forgive other people, and have done so many times, much easier than I can forgive myself. Why is that?  Because I tell myself that I should know better, I shouldn't have made those mistakes in the first place. I should have practiced more patience, more compassion, more detachment, whatever, but I didn't.  So I punish myself and feel unworthy and don't forgive myself because I feel I don't deserve it...yet.  I'll get there and I'll get over whatever I considered a mistake, but not right away. I will put myself in a corner on a timeout for a little while, and then when I feel "punished enough," I will let myself go out and dance in the rain.

If this sounds at all like something you do or have done, then today we can make a choice to not do this ever again. Today we can choose to learn from our "mistakes," -- after all, those are our greatest moments of learning -- and we can choose to find the inspiration and wisdom from the experience. Today I have decided that I will forgive myself first...every time... and stop wasting energy on something that as fast as it happened, immediately became something in my past. Experience, learn, grow, and move on. That's my lesson for today. 

Zig Ziglar said, "It's not where you start - it's where you end that counts." On that note, I'm off to my special room... I think I hear my angels calling.