Posts In: self love

Leaving Stuck

July 12, 2019

A friend asked how happy I was in my marriage. “80-90%” I replied.

“Wow, that’s pretty high,” said my friend who felt unhappy in his marriage.

I don’t know how most people would rate their relationship to happiness, but I was pretty happy. My husband treated me in a kind and supportive manner. In fact, he encouraged all my life choices, even those that impacted his life.

Me: “I want to move to Oregon.”
Him: “Let me go there and check it out.” Then later, “Okay, let’s move.”

Me: “I think I’m going to massage school.”
Him: “That sounds great.”

Me: “I think I’m going to quit my job (with benefits and a salary) and start doing massage full time (as a self-employed person.”)
Him: “Okay.”

No push back. No shaming. No questioning my choices. That was healing for me. His support helped me make scary choices that moved me forward on my life path.

My family loved him and I loved his family. Still do. We both appreciated nature, a simple lifestyle, and adored our pets. We enjoyed travel and socializing with our friends.

And Then I Left Him.

To be clear I didn’t leave him because he was kind and supportive. Those reasons, along with common values, kept me in the relationship. That and fear. And maybe some hope.

Leaving took me two and half years. Even though I was mostly happy in the relationship I knew something was missing. When I would talk with my husband about my feelings he assured me everything was fine. It was from his perspective.

I value connection. In fact, it’s one of my top values (and even one of my super powers. I love connecting clients and friends with the perfect resource, service, tool or themselves.) I’m not interested in superficial relationships. Not with my family, my friends, or my clients. Especially not with my primary partner. I wanted a partner. I want soulful partnerships with all the important people in my life. My ex and I were good companions, but we weren’t partners. 

The Cost of Staying

I could have stayed. Staying, in some ways, would have been easier. I tried to stay. I explored what was missing in my relationship and looked at how we could heal that.One of my wise friends asked what would be different if I left. I pictured a neater house, flowers in the front flowerbed, a new couch. Superficial stuff really. I guess that’s why buying a new couch didn’t work.

While I was trying to fix or fill the lack I felt, I was also considering my attraction to women. You might assume that the issue in my relationship was that my husband had the wrong equipment.That being a lesbian was my reason for leaving. But it wasn’t. I wasn’t seeking a certain gender. I craved connection. Partnership.

Over the years while I sifted and sorted my relationship I stayed stuck. I felt afraid to leave. Could I make it on my own? Would I be alone the rest of my life? Staying felt like I was agreeing to a life that was less than what I wanted. But leaving scared me. So I stayed.

Wisdom from My Body

Then my body said, “no.”

My mother had ovarian cancer. So did my paternal grandmother. And my maternal grandfather’s sister. I listen to my ovaries. When I started to have pain I took my one precious body to my OBGYN. When she palpated my belly she could feel something that didn’t feel normal to her. And I felt even more pain.

An ultrasound revealed nothing. The verdict: an ovarian cyst had ruptured during the exam. While I was waiting for the results (and trying not to freak out) I drew my ovaries. I can’t tell you what the drawing looked like, but the message was clear. My body was letting me know that I needed to choose me. I needed to make a move. 

I moved into a little rental on a creek and started dating a lovely woman who I now call my wife. Actually she’s weddingtechnically my wife, but I call her my partner because that is what she is. While I’ve never regretted my brave move to get unstuck, I do wish I’d been brave sooner.It took listening. It took courage. I lost a few friends in the process. But I came out (no pun intended) happier and healthier. 

If you’re in a stuck place, know that I get you.I’ve been there more than once. I’ve been there more than twice. I’m here to tell you that finding a way to move from stuckness, to embrace change in a way that feels honoring and manageable, is life giving. You came here to live a full life. The life of your dreams. A 100% life, not an 80% life.

 ps. I’m offering a free four week class starting on Monday July 15 called Embrace Change:

You’re a woman ready to embrace change, even if it scares you. You want to live your dream life. But fear, self-sabotage, doubt and stress block you from making the progress you’d love. You’re tired of feeling unsuccessful. Learn how to be present with where you are rather than feeling embarrassed or overwhelmed. You’ll learn to take manageable baby steps toward your goals, steps that allow you to maintain your wellness and inner balance. You’ll move past feeling stuck and fatigued to a place of confidence and energy for your next steps.

You can apply here

Aging: The Inside Story

August 3, 2016
beautiful-older-woman

I saw an ad today for a “beauty” system that looked like a torture device. Picture a tiny paint roller with fine needles projecting from the surface. When you roll the device over your face the needles penetrate your skin. The fine print says “No known negative side effects.” I guess pain isn’t considered a side effect. Granted I haven’t tried it, but it sure looks like it would be painful.

I went onto YouTube to listen to reviews expecting to see people screaming in agony as they “beautified” themselves. The first reviewer I watched mentioned she had put a numbing cream on her face for 25 minutes before use. She said not to be afraid of the device. I’m afraid of anything that requires me to use numbing cream.

The theory behind the roller is that it “might” stimulate the production of collagen, reduce wrinkles, cellulite, etc. The holes it puts in your face also help you absorb serums and creams better.

Looking for Youth in all the Wrong Places

What strikes me about this (and many other beauty treatments that are uncomfortable, expensive, and potentially dangerous) is the amount of focus on trying to look younger on the outside. I’ve known people that forgot about their “inside” life because they were so focused on the external.

I’m all for looking vital and healthy. I would love to have the same skin I had when I was 30. But I’m not 30. I’m 59 and happily counting. (There are more senior discounts in my future.) While I want to look vital and healthy and make choices that help me with that, I’m much more interested in FEELING vital and healthy.

Everyone makes his or her own choices about how much time and energy (and what type of time and energy) they want to put into looking “good.” And we also get to make up our minds about what we think looks good. We don’t all love purple hair, tartan plaid, or pearls. Thank goodness for that because it makes people watching much more interesting.

But there’s something disturbing to me about the hunt for pseudo youth. Dying your hair back to its original shade does not, after all, make you that age again. I believe it’s possible to do things like laser treatments, Botox, hair dye, even torture devices for your face because you love yourself and love looking your best. If getting your butt Botoxed makes you feel great then Botox away. But I think it’s equally possible (maybe more likely?) that many women are rolling torture devices over their faces because they don’t like who they see in the mirror. They don’t like the changes that aging can bring.

Embracing Change

You are changing. We all change. We don’t expect the tree we plant as a sapling to look the same in five years. We don’t expect our toddlers to stay the same or the oak tree to keep its leaves all year. Change is part of the beauty of life.

I’ll be honest. I don’t love all the changes I see in my body. I don’t obsess about aging and I’m grateful that I’ve very healthy—no medications, no arthritis, no high blood pressure. I don’t mind that my hair is gray because it’s thick and healthy. BUT I would love to have fewer lines and tauter skin on my face. I WANT to love all the changes including those lines. I’m working on that. My goals are to 1) accept the changes 2) love myself and 3) look and FEEL as vital and healthy as possible.

I do, however, love some of the changes that have come with age and maturing. I love that I’m more direct than when I was 25. I love that I don’t fall into victim mode anymore. I love that I don’t drink alcohol. It saves money and calories and I feel better. I love the community of friends I’ve gathered over the years. I love that I’m strong.

Being Edith-like

Cousin-EdithI’ve had the good fortune to have some outstanding role models for vital aging in my life. My
grandfather’s cousin Edith stands out. Edith lived to 108 years young. She lived independently until the last few months of her life. The year she turned 100 she was invited to be the Grand Marshall in her community’s annual Arkalalah celebration (yes, that’s really the name.) She walked to the DMV to renew her driver’s license so she could drive her 1950 Chevy, the only car she ever owned, in the parade. Not only did she get her driver’s license for the event, but also she bought a stylish modern dress that I would have been happy to wear at the time and I was in my early 30’s.

But Edith didn’t look 30. While her erect posture and lively movements belied her 100 years, she looked like an older woman. That didn’t seem to bother her. She was able to garden, take daily walks, play bridge, live on her own, and participate in a book group. She stayed active mentally and physically throughout her life. I never heard her complain about saggy skin, gray hair, or achy joints. She was far too busy for that. Maybe far too happy would be a better description. She once said she realized she could choose to be miserable or happy. She chose happy.

The theme of my coaching and retreat work is living a life of purpose well. Spending time trying to rewind time or focusing on what you don’t like about yourself takes time away from living that well life of purpose. I want to invite you to a life as rich, full, and happy as cousin Edith’s for as long as you live.

Your Vital Aging Challenge

1.    What do you value about your aging or maturing process?

2.    What about your maturing process do you want to learn to embrace or accept?

Here’s what I would love: Share your answer to #1 here. I think if we all start celebrating the wisdom of maturing instead of fighting against aging we’ll have more energy for what matters to us. The world will be a better place. And if you share here we can all celebrate each other’s awesomeness. Ready to join me?

Down with Self-loathing!

August 6, 2015

I grew up chubby and have often seen “fat” when I looked in the mirror, even when the scales said differently. Only in recent years have I begun to accept, even like my body.

No wonder I love the trend toward accepting one’s body— curvy hips, belly rolls, the slope of one’s nose, cellulite, freckles… I applaud the women who say,“I’m not covering up these jiggly thighs for your pleasure. I will wear skintight yoga pants if I choose. I will shake these hips and let my flesh spill out in celebration.”

Self love=Self care

Self-love is healthier than the self-loathing that has been the norm. For years I’ve listened to females from pre-pubescent to elderly “dis” their bodies. Too short, too skinny, ugly knees, and the most prevalent, “too fat.” Along with scores of “sisters” I’ve looked in the mirror and asked the proverbial question, “Does this make me look fat?”

All that self-loathing takes a toll. It takes time and energy, which could be spent doing something you love—painting, hiking, snuggling, reading, growing a business… But instead that time is spent putting yourself down or worrying about how your butt looks.

Plus there’s the emotional and energetic toll. Your body, mind, and spirit register that mean spirited talk. And that registering, even for a comment that might seem small and insignificant, takes a toll. It’s a punch in the gut. A kick to the heart.

It’s self-abuse. So you can see why I’m heartened to hear and see the trend in the opposite direction.

I believe in self-love.

For years we’ve been “fed” images by the media of thin, too thin, and photoshopped lovelies. Many of us received the message loud and clear that we too should look just like the women in the ads. And we don’t.

As the pendulum swings to the other side we’re getting messages that it’s acceptable, maybe even preferable to be as Meghan Trainor says in her popular song, “all about that bass.” If you’ve worked long and hard to get your body to look like Kate Moss, only to feel like a failure, you’re probably ready to embrace the current trend to love every bit of you. Love away.

BUT…

Here’s my concern.

I think for some self-acceptance has come to mean “I can eat a bag of Doritos because I love myself and I’m not punishing myself any longer. Rather than watching what I eat I’m learning to love all of me.”

True that punishing yourself is not self-love. Lose the punishment. Yes to loving all of you. But feeding your body foods that cause you to be obese, to be unwell, to not feel good, or have energy is NOT self-love. No matter what you look like.

I’m sure you’ve heard about the well-documented risks of making poor diet choices and being overweight. Stroke, heart attack, cancer, osteoarthritis, mobility issues, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, reproductive concerns, gallbladder problems, back pain… Self-love does not include behaviors that put you at risk for these kinds of issues.

Pendulum dilemma

In my perfect world:

  • We all learn to accept, even cherish our precious bodies. They are a miracle. (Isn’t it amazing that your body can take a peach or a Big Mac and turn them into energy?)
  • We all make choices that support, honor, and grow the miracles that we walk around in. I’m talking about that body of yours. You know, the one that feels love, can drive a stick shift, and fills out government forms. Okay, so maybe you never learned to drive a stick shift. Still you’re amazing and deserve to be treated that way.

So maybe you’ve ridden the pendulum to one side: “I need to wear a size 2 or my life is over” or the other “My curves are beautiful so I don’t need to worry about what I eat ever again.” Seek your perfect balance point. That point will let you, on most days, love the body you have. And because you love that body you treat it accordingly, discovering what it loves, what nurtures it, what heals it.

I hear some of you saying, “But my body loves sour cream and onion potato chips.” You might love the taste of those chips. (I do too.) But I’m asking you to go deeper. How do you feel when you eat them? How do you sleep? How easy is it to move? How much energy do you have for the things that you really want to do?

I find that I don’t feel or look as amazing if I eat lots of chips and sugar. I think more clearly without them in my world. I sleep better. I stay healthier. And all of those things help me live the life of my dreams.

My goal is to make a self-loving choice with food more often than not. (If you see me in line at my favorite health food store with a pint of Luna & Larry’s Mint Galactica Coconut Bliss and a spoon you might not want to take that moment to suggest that I make a more loving choice.) But stalk me at my favorite health food store and you’ll find my cart is usually filled with healthy, non-sugar, non-chip foods.

But not always. I’m not saying be perfect. I’m saying be loving. To your cells. To your heart. To your head.

The pendulum swings. Riding it to the middle can be challenging. Having the support of a coach can make a world of difference. Coaching can help you find a place where you feel like you’re making choices rather than being driven by your cravings, your habits, or your emotions. You can find a place where you accept yourself AND learn to make healthy choices your way.

What do you think? Are you on one side of the pendulum? What are your ideas about finding and managing your balance point? I’d love it if you’d share them here. Might help me or someone else on one of those less than balanced days.

 

Five Common Self-care Traps

January 27, 2015

You’ve made efforts, maybe even heroic efforts toward improving your self-care. Maybe you set a New Year’s resolution or intention. But you’re just not feeling that successful. Doesn’t seem fair.

Real self-care can be slippery. You may have fallen into one of these common self-care traps. (Don’t worry. It’s not like the commercial. Even if you’ve fallen you’ll be able to get up.)

 

  1. Random Acts of Self-care

 

A mani-pedi. A day at the spa. A luxurious morning in bed with your favorite book and beverage. A quiet walk in the woods. A week of vacation.

If these activities feed your soul, then bring them on baby.

The problem comes with confusing random acts of self-care with the ongoing self-care practice you MUST have in order to sustain yourself.

Random acts of self-care are fun. They feel good and fill you up. But they won’t sustain you for the long haul. Short-term solutions get you short-term results.

Don’t get me wrong. All of these things can be part of your self-care plan. Don’t throw them out if you love them. Just know they don’t automatically equal a self-care practice.

  1. Template approach

You see something that works. Your bestie drops 15 pounds from her recent diet. You hear about a celebrity that lost her baby weight while doing zumba six days a week. Your boss, who looks 20 years younger than her age and manages to stay oh, so Zen-like all the time, talks about the wonders of her morning kale smoothie.

So you try the diet, shake your booty at a zumba class, and drink your weight in green smoothies. Problem is the diet leaves you feeling deprived, you don’t like dancing, and you despise kale.

Putting on someone else’s self-care, be it a diet plan, a fitness regime, or a week at a spa might work for awhile.

But only for a while. You’ll find yourself dumping the regime and often feeling like a failure. It worked for them. Why not you?

Because, beautiful, you’re not THEM.

  1. Discipline, deprivation, and hard work

You “know” you need to knuckle down, to “get with the program.” Your brain figures out the “solution” to your overwhelm, clutter, anxiety, or food cravings. The problem is you forget to check in with the rest of you.

You might need some discipline in your self-care program. It might even feel like work sometimes. But without some of the other key ingredients like pleasure and joy, your plan will collapse in on itself.

  1. Wake up call

Whether your wakeup call sounds like a tiny child knocking at your door or a bulldozer running into your home, something gets your attention. A series of colds, a call from the doctor suggesting you come in for more tests, a bounced check, a foreclosure, a diagnosis of a scary disease, a divorce, ten pounds that you don’t recognize…

You pay attention. You attack the problem. Make big changes. Get great results. But too often once the high blood sugar stabilizes, the new relationship appears, or those mystery pounds go away you fall right back to pre-wakeup call habits. And with those habits you get pre-wakeup call results.

A wake up call can be powerful. But if the wake up call is your only call to self-care, your solutions won’t last.

  1. That Still, Small Voice

You listen to your inner guidance. And because it sounds so wise you follow its directions.

Do you want to know a secret? That wise voice may come from your brain. To create a sustainable approach you must listen to more than your big, beautiful brain.

You have a wealth of wisdom. Everyone I work with is surprised by the wisdom they bring forth. And that wisdom helps create your plan.

And how about another secret? Your inner wisdom may give you conflicting advice. Part of you needs to rest. Another part needs to run. Which part do you listen to? In order to arrive at a solution that feels good and is sustainable you must listen to the whole of you. Your head may say you should go out for a run today. But your body feels fatigued because you are fighting off a cold. The best solution for you, the one that will give you the most vitality and balance, isn’t necessarily the first one that comes to mind.

  1. Rinse and Repeat

It’s not that you’ve never tended to your loveliness. It’s not that you’ve never eaten a healthy meal or moved your body in ways that delighted you.

You’ve probably even had moments of flow with your self-care. Moments where everything was bright and beautiful. You knew what to do.

So you do the same thing that worked before only now it’s not working.

You are not the same. Different you, different plan needed.

Be not discouraged!

You just haven’t learned the hows of crafting YOUR sustainable self-care plan. I’m not saying you can create THE PLAN for your self-care for the rest of your life. Who you are today is different than who you’ll be tomorrow or in six months or 30 years. And because of that your self-care plan will shift and grow. (In fact, trying to stay the course with your self-care is a common self-care trap.)

Why Are You Making a Big Deal Out of This?

Self-care is at the heart of a life well lived. Purpose offers you reason for being. If you want to live a well life, a life with meaning written all over its face then you will need to tend to you, the purveyor of that big life purpose.

And by the way, living a life of purpose IS self-care.

A sustainable life of purpose requires focus, energy, enthusiasm, and wellness to pull off. You get that from self-care that’s a regular and integrated part of you life. You need an approach that you can endure. Not one that keeps falling down and skinning its knees. Not one that you bury in the backyard because it quits breathing.

If you’re ready to have the vitality and wellness you need to live your BIG dream then sign up for a no-obligation, no-cost chat. I’d love to help you find your way.


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