Marketing Box [Trap]

Marketing Box, OllieThose of you who receive my Constant Contact newsletter know that I recently UNsubscribed to a bunch of newsletters and invited my readers to do the same. As “simple” as I believe my life to be, now that my son is grown and nearly launched into adulthood, care-giving for my parents long over, a move to a new home half the size of our old farmhouse, a career, exercise regimen and community that I enjoy, I “simply” don’t have time to read everything that lands in my in box! AND I’m the one who put them there. I still do it. I sign up for free calls for the amazing marketers who “guarantee” a six figure salary within three months if you just purchase their program and put in place their marketing plan. The pressure is overwhelming. Part of me DOES want to BE THAT. However a bigger part of me says NO WAY! I’m not making the marketing strategies of others WRONG, believe me, I know it works for them. I’m just not making it RIGHT for me. I am breaking OUT of the box [trap] of making myself WRONG for NOT using their methods. Why? Because the motivation to sign up almost every single time is birthed out of fear, followed by the feeling that I AM IN A BOX [trap].

I need to be me. All I want to use Facebook for is to post silly pictures of my cat, flowers, me, my friends, and stay in touch with my friends. I am incredibly rude and mostly don’t respond to event invites on FB because I am overwhelmed with them. I have a Facebook fan page that I’ve never launched because it feels fake to me. It’s not that I created a page that doesn’t represent me as a coach, it does. However, after creating it and procrastinating the launch I finally realized I don’t want to market through Facebook. End of story.

When I REALLY look at my coaching practice, workshops and teleclasses, I am thrilled, provided I don’t fall into the BOX [trap] of comparing myself to others. When I REALLY look with loving eyes, I see clearly that the universe provides me with exactly what I need, even if it doesn’t always look like what I THINK I need. When I say I WANT and NEED more, I have to ask myself if that’s really true. It is only true when I compare myself to others and hear the marketing goodies of those amazing people who have turned their businesses into huge moneymakers mostly by marketing to ME when I fear I must be doing something WRONG.

Breaking out of the BOX [trap] is an ongoing task. Just this morning I signed up for two free marketing calls that are geared to give me just what I need to sign up for more. I signed up out of FEAR that I would miss something, fear that I’m not doing things right, fear that someone else will get the edge, fear I’ll be left behind.

As I sit with whether I will be on these calls that will force me back into the BOX [trap] of another’s design, I will continue to “market” myself in a way that is in integrity with who I am and the clients I most want to attract to my practice. No right, no wrong, just ME.

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Good Deeds

XanderThis little critter came into my life for four astonishing days. Last Thursday I nearly ran over her on my way to town. She was sunning himself on a chilly morning and I thought she was a plop of horse poop and avoided it. When I realized it was a kitten, I got out and approached, only to have her scurry into the brush. When I told my son the story, he said “catch her!” I determined I just might do that.

I couldn’t stop thinking about this kitty, alone, cold, lost perhaps. The next day I threw a cat carrier into the back of my car as I headed to town and there she was. Just at the edge of the brush where she had run the day before. This time I was very cautious. I distracted the kitten with one hand and reached around to grab her with the other. She was hissing, we were both frightened, but me, being bigger and all, managed to get her into the carrier, back home, quarantined in the bathroom with food, a litter box, water and a couple places to sleep. I shook hard from the adrenaline of capturing what should have been someone’s pet, but was clearly feral.

I called my vet right away on Friday, but there were no appointments available until Monday. So we had three days to get acquainted and perhaps start the taming process in the bathroom prison. I read articles, watched videos and wondered what the hell I was thinking when I picked “Millie” up. I hadn’t really planned on having a taming project for August and my mind reeled, even though I knew there was a possibility she could be sick, carrying one or more diseases all too common in feral cats.

Sunday I had the distinct pleasure of spending the morning in Urgent Care for the tiny little cat scratch I received during the “capture”. Fees paid, prescription filled, I went home and spent a quiet day reflecting on the many unexpected consequences of doing a “good deed” and recalled the quote, “No good deed goes unpunished.” Little did I know that this was only part of the “punishment”.

Monday was long as I waited for 3:00 to arrive. I distracted myself with my commitments as a mentor to training coaches, taking a walk, picking blueberries, making lists, answering emails from clients, paying bills. My heart was heavy with anticipation and dread. Whatever the outcome of our appointment, I had fallen in love with this vulnerable little critter and I had no idea what lay ahead.

A flurry of activity the moment we arrived. Three, no four, staff members went into the room with our little spitfire, tiny kitten. It’s not a girl! It’s a boy! Worms, fleas, ticks, CHECK! Blood work for leukemia and AIDS, CHECK! Suddenly everyone was quiet and I was called in to talk to Dr. Lori and one of her staff. Newly named Xander [for Alexander Road where he was found] was sick. Very sick. This beautiful, sweet cat, who should have been born into a home, not in the woods, could not go home with me. I burst into tears. Dr. Lori hugged we twice. We talked. I looked at his beautiful face again and again and finally said goodbye.

I came home and continued to cry as I took apart the crate loaned to me by a friend which would be his transitional home as he got acquainted with us. I bleached the bathroom that had been his little holding cell and threw away everything he had contact with so that my kitties won’t get sick.

I cried some more as I plopped into my husband’s favorite comfy chair. My cat, Ollie, came bounding across the room into my lap and purred to comfort me. This is unusual for him. He is shy of “lap sitting” because he, too, had been a feral kitten before tamed with tough love at a kindly veterinary clinic. He generally lies “near” me, but not “on” me. I took great comfort in this, that he knew I was hurting and wanted to help.

I fell into a deep sleep early, only to awaken at 3 AM with a compelling need to work “some” of my pain out. This whole experience felt so “unfair”. Unfair that this kitten and his litter mates didn’t have a chance of survival in the wild. If even one survived, what would be its fate? Bringing more homeless, sick, feral kitties into the world? In my research I read that if every single person, including babies, in this country adopted from shelters, each would need 7 cats or dogs to care for them all. That doesn’t include breeders, dog and cat “mills” and certainly doesn’t include the feral cats that populate our cities and countryside.

I wondered if I didn’t have cats at home if I could have, would have, brought him home and tamed him and nursed him. Perhaps he’d have gotten well. I shift my thoughts.  I know it’s time to accept it, feel it some more and let go.

I reflected again on the quote “No good deed goes unpunished.” A wry expression I’ve understood in only one way — that people who give begrudgingly will always look for the bad that comes out of it for them personally. Like my boo-boo finger infection. NO, it didn’t apply! Because I had given from my heart. It really was OK.  And then it hit me.

In doing a good deed we give from our hearts. When we open our hearts to anyone, any “passion”, any critter, any thing, we are allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, to let love in as we give love. We can never be vulnerable without the risk that we’ll be hurt. We can never, ever love without loss. Today, tomorrow, next week, 30 years — someday we will experience loss from that love. In that pain lies the “punishment” for our good deed.

Yet life is meant to be filled with love, giving and receiving. I was meant to have this experience, even if I don’t completely and may never completely understand it. I know there is something deep and rich that this little critter brought into my life and I’ve only begun to scratch the surface, as the scratch he left me with and my wounded heart continue to heal.

Good night. Good morning. Perhaps just one more hour of sleep before another day filled with love and light.

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[No Longer] Sleepless in Saratoga

Max and Ollie kitchen 2012-06-28_19-15-19_701For women and the men who love us: This blog is not intended as medical advice, simply sharing my experience. Please talk to your health care provider about your concerns.

I’ve struggled with insomnia over the last 8 years. When comparing notes with women “my age”, it seems more common than bunions! Research suggests that there is nothing all that abnormal about insomnia, which is a good thing, I guess. Yet that information doesn’t lessen the impact of not getting enough sleep! Brain fog, the need for naps, crankiness, tears, craziness and outright hostility has been my unwanted response to sleep deprivation.

At first I just figured I was under a lot of stress. Granted, I was.  Raising my teenaged son with all the struggles that involves, having just lost both my parents in a span of 15 months, dealing with “estate” issues, recently married, considering a BIG move to another community — seemed like all the perfect ingredients to contribute to sleepless nights. A normal night for me might look like falling into bed exhausted at 10 PM, a coma like sleep, only to awaken at 2:00 and stay awake until 4:30, finally falling back to sleep and having trouble crawling out of bed at 6:00. Horrible. I suffered, took naps when I could. Tried Valerian root at the suggestion of my doctor, which was awful for me. I felt hung over the next day. I tried curtailing the internet at night, limiting my appointments with clients to earlier in the evening, avoiding heated conversations with my son… all to no avail. I was sleepless.

My husband and I moved four years ago. More stress. My son was horrified that I would move a whole hour away. I was riddled with guilt and questioning my choice. Settling into a new community and new routine had its challenges, insomnia continued. I figured there was nothing I could do.

Then I contacted a holistically minded nurse practitioner recommended to me by a friend. We talked about natural hormone replacement therapy for some other “issues” I was having. She tested hormone levels and since it was appropriate for me [given personal and family health history] she prescribed a compounded prescription to use topically. The first night I slept like a baby. I was astonished and delighted. I never suspected that the progesterone that was no longer adequately supplied naturally by my body was the cause of my sleeplessness. I was at peace.

Fast forward a couple years… in treatment for Hepatitis C, I took Interferon injections for nine months. Though the most common side effect is depression with this drug, I had a less common reaction, I was MANIC! Insomnia returned like gang busters, despite having blood counts so low, transfusion was suggested. I finished treatment over a year ago, but the mania, in the form of sleeplessness, has been relentless. I tried meditation, soothing music, EFT [Tapping], moving to the guest room, reading and finally an occasional sleeping pill. The most I could experience was a night or two of “good” sleep in a week. I felt awful, miserable, teary, angry, depressed and ready to snap.

Until last month.

I saw my nurse practitioner again, who recommended long-acting melatonin,  available over-the-counter at my compounding pharmacy. Although I still wake up during the night, I fall back to sleep easily most of the time. In addition, she made a few more adjustments in my bio-identical HRT and I feel so wonderful in contrast that I hardly recognize the woman I was a few short weeks ago.

The intention of this blog is not to suggest my specific remedy. It may not be appropriate for you. It is intended to encourage you to talk to your health care provider about your most personal health needs. Even if you’ve convinced yourself that you just need to “live with it”, whatever “it” is. It is quite possible your belief may not be true. There may very well be a solution for your “problem”. Do your own research and then talk to your provider as an informed health care consumer. If you don’t get satisfaction, find another health care provider. Ask your friends for recommendations, check with your health insurance company, search until you find someone who is in alignment and shares your highest vision for your health.

I’ve said it before and will say it again, you know yourself better than anyone. Be your own health care advocate. You are a consumer of health care, stand in your power and find what serves you.

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Healing Body Image

watching the varsity gameAs I made my way around the block this morning, I passed a young woman who was running — red top, pink shorts, orange shoes. Totally cool. I wondered if she was running to train for a sport she plays in school or running to stay fit or running to keep the pounds off or running because she loves it or ???

In a flash I was back in the summer of 6th grade. I saw myself riding my bike for hours in the circles of our dead end driveway turn-around. Riding for even more hours up and down our road, especially the big hill, which I always had to walk. I recall living on tuna fish, lettuce, Alba skimmed milk, Fresca and artificially sweetened kool-aid.

You see, I was chubby. And I was terrified.  I was leaving my safe, secure elementary school and being thrown in with students from five other elementary schools in our town’s junior high school. I wanted to grow up and be a junior-high-schooler, even though I cried to leave my elementary school. At least there kids and teachers there knew me. What was I facing? I could NOT be chubby for another second. I starved myself that summer. No one talked about eating disorders in 1963. I was just “dieting”.  My mother approved and did her best to keep me supplied in my “diet” food of choice.

I wanted to fit in. I sure didn’t fit into my family. On my mother’s side, the side that mattered, I was from a long line of svelte northern Italians. OK, my grandmother was a large woman, but she didn’t count.  My cousins, mother, aunts, uncles, brother, sister and grandfather were all on the thin side. How did this happen to me?

Just before I began 7th grade, my dad took a Polaroid of me. I wish I could find it. My sister ran across it several years ago when we were going through family “artifacts” and showed it to me. I was in a brand new dress, holding one of our cats, newly grown out pixie to my shoulders in the flip of fashion. She remarked, “oh, you look so beautiful and happy in this picture!” I looked at it and gasped. I saw a scared little girl, terrified that she would be judged by her classmates. I recalled the feeling of just wanting to hide, but I knew I could never hide if I was chubby, everyone would notice me. So I opted for being invisible.

There was another side to this. I wanted something more than being invisible, which hoped would still be an option if all else failed. More than anything, I wanted to belong in my new school. Practically svelte me joined clubs, made new friends, tried out and became a cheerleader [the only thing remotely like a sport before Title 9], went back to dance class and did my best to look smart and pretty. All the while doing my best to hide my chubby, dumb self.

My heart aches for the girl I was and all the girls who have measured [and still do measure] their self-worth on how they look and what others think of them. It’s taken me years to heal the shadow of my self-image in my family.  My quantum leap happened when I discovered Debbie Ford’s book, The Dark Side of The Light Chasers. I decided to study with her and become a coach so that I could help others learn that their story and their “shadow” have gifts beyond measure. I learned to I love the little girl inside me and the woman I’ve become, in all my shapes and re-creations.  Healing is an ongoing journey. I delight in the twists and turns and new discoveries every day.

I thought back to the girl I saw this morning. I hope that she is encouraged to be healthy, to be herself, and find joy in her activities, whatever she chooses. It is this that I have discovered and claimed… many, many decades later.

[pictured above — me watching a basketball game at Ossining High School in 1966-7.]

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Nourishing the Soul

water lilyI’ve come to think about “taking care of myself” with different language lately. Sometimes “taking care of myself” feels like an onerous task. Exercising. Eating right. Getting enough sleep. Knowing what stresses me and figuring out what to do about it.

It’s all “good” and necessary, because I do prefer to collaborate with the universe with as much impact as I can make to stay healthy while I have the gift of being on the planet. At the same it can also be tedious. Lacks spontaneity. Boring. Ho-hum.

Where’s the joy and wonder?

Suddenly, in the blink of both eyes and a whisper in my ear, my language changed. With that my perspective and beliefs about “taking care” changed. Instead I see that everything I do either nourishes my soul, is neutral or drains my soul. Of course then I pondered what I believe about my “soul”.  Today, my soul is that part of me that does not live in words or deeds, rather absorbs and is affected by what I take in with my senses — the ones I can name and the ones I cannot.

Today, nourishing my soul looks like seeing the first water lily open on our small pond. The sounds of a wood thrush during my walk. The silence I allowed for just a few minutes this afternoon. Yesterday, nourishing my soul felt like dancing and sweating down to my socks. And the smell and taste of fresh sweet cherries. Sunday, nourishing my soul looked like seeing Modern Nature: Georgia O’Keeffe and Lake George exhibition at The Hyde http://hydecollection.org/

My soul is filled up with wonder, joy and awe. I feel like I am truly “taking care” of all my parts, my body and my soul, all because I shifted my perspective.

The wonder of nourishing my soul is that I have no expectation that one thing or another will necessarily make this happen. The feeling that I have “nourished my soul” can come without warning. It is not like accomplishing that bit of exercise or having an entire day of healthy eating.  I don’t expect it. I may not have planned it. I am open to it. I do allow it and receive it. It isn’t quite joy, but it can lead to joy. It arrives with a sense of wonder. I am filled up and overflowing with love.

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Liberating Lilacs [or the kindness of neighbors]

purple-lilac-flowersI’ve been known to “liberate” flowers and plants from abandoned properties.It feels so satisfying to give abandoned flora a good home.

Several weeks ago,  I ran into my neighbor Jim while taking a walk. I pointed out the beautiful lilacs growing across the road midway between our two houses. I shared with him the “secret” of how to liberate sprouts from lilacs. He got very excited and later that day came to my house with two white lilac sprigs liberated [with permission] from his son’s yard.

This, of course, was not enough for me. It merely whetted my appetite for more. The farm house across the way where the purple lilacs are growing is all but abandoned. Rachel, who was born in the house and lived there her whole life, has been gone nearly 10 years. There is quite a story about Rachel, how she lived all those years without electricity and stayed at the farm to raise sheep and blueberries long after her parents were gone. I convinced myself that Rachel would want me to have some of her lilacs. There was no one home to appreciate them anymore. Her nephew, who inherited the place, rarely came and the lawn looked like a hay field. Besides, we live on 18 acres of what was part of Rachel’s farm, so I was simply moving some of them to another location. They would look so lovely in our yard; I was sure she would be pleased.

I liberated one sprig a week or so ago and placed it in the middle of the two Jim had given me. Then I set about deciding where to put more. This morning I set on digging three holes and running to Agway for more compost. I was ready. I could almost smell the lilacs blooming under my bedroom window in a year or two. I grabbed my special “liberating” shovel, bucket and work gloves. I said an incantation to keep the deer ticks from jumping on me and set off. With my butt to the road, I found the perfect spot to dig. I heard a car slow down and figured it was Jim ready to tease me. Imagine my embarrassment and surprise when the owner of the property, Rachel’s dear nephew, pulled up! He rarely visits and, besides, what were the chances he’d come at Noon on a Wednesday? YIKES! I thought I was sweating BEFORE he arrived, now I was drenched with “I’m so embarrassed” sweat!

Earl parked in the hay-lawn and got out of the car with a big smile on his face. I walked up and shook his hand, called him by name and said, “OK, you caught me, I’m stealing your lilacs! I’d have asked, but you weren’t here, so now that you’re here….” He laughed and told me it was quite all right. He had taken some home to his place and that, yes, Rachel would want me to have them. He set about his work, hooking up a new brush cutter to the 1950s Ford Tractor; the one that Rachel had used for the farm and even drove to town for whatever she needed. [Rachel never did drive a car]

I set about liberation. I was going to take three sprouts but settled on one big one, mostly because I had been caught. I brought Rachel’s lilac home and got it planted and watered quickly. Didn’t even wilt. Then I went into my pantry and found the last jar of Peach Jam that I made last year. I quickly slapped on a label with PEACH and 2012 and headed down the driveway and over to Rachel’s [Earl’s] place. Earl stopped the tractor and accepted my gift. I said, “Kindness deserves kindness in return” and handed him the jar of jam. I believe we’d still be chatting if I hadn’t excused myself. He told me about being born in the house, more about Rachel, more about how he loved the place. We were both happy.

I am immensely grateful for our kind and generous neighbors. And I need to confess right here on my blog. In the eyes of many this was WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! In my eyes, too. Otherwise why be embarrassed when I was nailed? Anyway, this is one of the reasons why I have a blog, to admit to my imperfect self, my human nature that sometimes creates trouble, chaos and drama and sometimes creates better neighbors.  I’m not afraid to ask, be vulnerable, hear NO, be silly, be daring, be forthcoming, be human.  I sometimes make peculiar decisions and rationalize them in strange ways. And sometimes this leads me to getting to know my neighbors better and have an opportunity to return their kindness.

Oh my, now that I’ve been jam for lilacs, I wonder if there is another jar of jam tucked away for Jim?

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Stretching

reformerIt’s a Pilates Reformer. Looks like a torture device, I know. Last week, I went back to Pilates after too long a break. This happened through a series of events that I believe were a conspiracy by the universe for me to “get” that I needed to “stretch” and not just physically.

I injured my heel and was told to skip dance class and heel impact for two weeks. That news was far worse torture than the machine pictured above. My husband reminded me to look at this as an opportunity to shake things up. My workouts have gotten same old/same old.  He remarked that I was in the best shape of my life, strongest, when I took Pilates with Melissa 2-3 times a week. Problem is, Melissa’s nearest class is a bit more than an hour away. Clearly time to stop mourning the loss of this wonderful instructor [who is still a dear friend] and move on. I live in the “health mecca” of Upstate NY, Saratoga Springs! [When you drive into town the sign says HEALTH, HISTORY, HORSES – no joke, health is first and it’s everywhere.] No excuses, with my husband’s nudge I got on-line and went to a highly recommended studio, Reform, A True Pilates Studio. Just as I was about to complain that it’s too expensive, the classes are not convenient, I just can’t see how I can swing it, an email arrived from my friend Jen offering me a FREE [yes FREE] one hour private Pilates session. How could I possibly refuse? Proof that the universe conspiring in my favor.

Last Monday, my first session, I told my instructor, Cindy, about my bum heel. We did some mat work and then she put me on the Reformer. I had used one before, so already knew its capacity to help me “stretch” beyond, beyond.  She kept checking in with me, making sure I was OK. I experienced an almost instantaneous “cure” of my heel pain when she had me hyper-flex my feet, in Pilates stance. My left calf went crazy with cramping, but I decided to breathe through it because somehow it felt restorative. I walked out with almost no pain and a renewed commitment to Pilates. By the time I ended my second session with Amy, almost exclusively on the Reformer, I was RE-hooked on Pilates. I have no pain, I’m back to my dance class and taking long walks [in my new sneakers].

Why share all this? It’s not that I believe that Pilates is “right” for everyone, even though it’s “right” for me. What I do believe is that each of us can find exactly the “right” form of moving, strengthening and, yes, stretching.

And that moving, strengthening and stretching isn’t just physical. For me it was a clear indicator of what’s been happening on a emotional and spiritual level. I’ve been pain. For more than a year I have been tied up, constricted, without even knowing it. I’d start to feel better, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and then crash. I believe I needed to have this physical breakthrough.  I had to experience pain in my physical body and then a release of pain in order for me to “get it” on other levels. Though I’ve had a few helpful sessions with my chiropractor and a phenomenal release and balancing with my Biodynamic Cranio-Sacral therapist, Wendy, for some reason I needed to consciously participate in the stretch.

As I accepted exactly where I found myself , I determined I could make new choices. Walking into any new situation was uncomfortable, stretching, but by showing up as my vulnerable, authentic self, I experienced profound change.

A couple days after my first session, I attended a networking meeting and participated in a visioning session that caused me to cry because I had no clue what it meant. I felt deeply humbled and ready for a big shift, a big stretch. At the end of the meeting, I found myself spontaneously signing up for a 10-week class studying Entering the Castle by Caroline Myss with a group of 10 people I’ve never met before. Stretch.

I had been surrendering, as in giving up. I allowed myself to be in that place of constriction without being conscious of the impact. I don’t make it wrong. I guess I needed it for a while. Everything in the universe expands and contracts. One can’t exist without the other. But now it was time. Now surrendering from a place of acceptance and humility, knowing I still don’t know and trusting that not knowing is perfect. I believe that it’s time for me to stretch beyond the horizon I saw in my vision and trust that there are no accidents. I am being guided. I will continue to listen to my body, the whispers of the universe and the wisdom of my inner healer.

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The Need for Community

NYC LOVEI’m really clear that I need community, connection to people with a common interest, passion, love. This is a recurring theme in my life, as I’ve been in and out of “groups”, “organizations” and “cliques”.

The need to belong has not always been healthy for me. The clique in junior high that ostracized girls we didn’t “like”, even if it wasn’t to their faces, was just plain mean.

The church I wanted to join, again, in junior high, only to discover that I wasn’t “good enough”, having never been baptized and never told that I could receive baptism with confirmation.

The cheer leaders. Oh my, the year I didn’t make the squad I could barely go to school I felt so left out and unimportant. My senior year when I quit because of the race riots in my school and my realization that our staff mentors were bigots. I couldn’t belong to that, so I went back to my forgotten dance class community.

And the drug years, painful community experience.

Even in my own family, I have felt both a need to belong and the feeling that I never would. The youngest of 7 double-first cousins, younger by 4 years than the next youngest, they were clumped together in six years. I was always tagging along, cute, doted on sometimes, but mostly left behind. I definitely never got the “jokes”. I cried when my cousins arrived and cried when they left.

I am reminded daily of my desire for community. When I moved four years ago, I left behind friends who I have known for decades. Friends who helped me navigate marriage, parenthood, divorce, caring for my ailing parents. Some have moved away, some have passed. Those who remain are only an hour away, but somehow that hour does make a difference as I work, search out new interests, networking opportunities, new friends, new community. Sometimes I long so much for “the old days”, it hurts. Then I remember I still have that community in my heart, I can reach out to old friends and I am grateful for the gifts.

I no longer bad mouth Facebook. I realize that it is, in a sense, community. I get to check up on what others are doing and smile with a sense of belonging when people search me out or are interested in my posts.

I started going to Omega Institute in 1986. I don’t think I realized that it was an attraction to the community that was created by like minded people for a common purpose. I just know I felt like I was at camp for adults and it became an annual pilgrimage to return to this community.

It is there that I met Debbie Ford in 2004 and found my coaching community [a few of us pictured above in NYC on June 1st]. Here I am at home. I feel loved and accepted for who I am. I know I can depend on my friends and colleagues to celebrate with me, support me and kick my butt when needed, all with love. We are far flung, across the globe in fact, but can all come together as a pair or a group, virtually or in person, whenever the desire or need arises. I can’t think of a day that I’m not in touch with one or more of my coaching community.

I have finally discovered that there is the gift of my shame and shadow of feeling like I didn’t belong in my own family. I realize now that my parents need for connection and community was different than mine. I have spent years thinking there was something wrong with me and then that there was something wrong with them. I celebrate leaving the blame behind and just being with “what is”. I have a deeper sense of being able to move in and out of community without feeling such a wretched loss and obsession with making “wrong” each time. I get to keep the love I have for individuals, even if the common cause or shared experience changes. I get to keep the “gifts”.

I affirm that I am a Child of God and Goddess. You are, too. In the big picture, owning this is what keeps me in the presence of “belonging”. We are all connected, one family, one community. All we need to add is LOVE.

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Finding the Gift

locust tree picI’ve injured my left heel. Just too much of something and it haunts me every time I do that something or sometimes something else. This morning my nurse practitioner confirmed it, “Yup, you injured your heel, maybe this, maybe that.” Bottom line, she advised that I lay off long walks and dance class for a couple weeks. Did she say A COUPLE WEEKS?!?!?!?!? Okay, maybe I didn’t hear that right. I’m already planning on going to dance class in a little while, my FAVORITE class, maybe I could just ice it at night. Yeah, I’m already icing. SIGH. Acceptance comes slowwwlyyyyy sometimes.

My heel was healing from five days of rest, but I went WAY overboard yesterday as I got back to my regular routine. So this morning I skipped whatever and wandered around our beautiful property. I took this picture of the sky through a blooming locust tree. I pruned out the dead wood of our blueberry patch. I was still. Three gifts right there.

Clearly, I’m being lead to walk my talk. I’ve been TALKING about finding a Pilates class I really love, having left THE VERY BEST [hear that Melissa?] when I moved four years ago. I’ve been TALKING about getting back to some of the Yoga classes that I adore. NOW I will pursue both of these and plan on following through until I find what suits me. I replaced my dance sneakers a month ago, BEFORE I injured my heel. I just ordered new walking/cross trainers. Mine were so OLD they were WHITE! [Do they even MAKE white ones anymore? I’m so embarrassed.]

June will be a month of exploration, experimentation, heel rest and a NEW VISION for my health and my work. This is precisely the kind of “opportunity” that I help my clients navigate. My turn, again.  Though I’m not thrilled about it, I am excited.   I feel as though this shake up of my routine is exactly what I need to step into a new expression of the ME that I already am.

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Hating and Loving My Body

As I prepare to travel to NYC tomorrow to assist at an event and see  some my beloved coaching colleagues, once again I am struck by my insecurity about my body and how I present myself to the world. I live a fairly simple life. I don’t have to “dress up” so I don’t. Suddenly I feel as though nothing I have is right, that I’m not right and I will stick out like a country bumpkin in the Big Apple.

Flash to lunch with my husband today in Saratoga Springs. I’m not looking at him, I’m watching people. No, that’s not true, I’m watching women. Not in a catty or judgmental way, but in a way that observes and compares. I hear my internal voice: “I would look awful in that.” “I wish I could wear shoes like that.” “Oh, that kinda works, I can put that together from what’s in my closet.” It amazes me sometimes that I am so insecure. I turn back to my husband trying to let it go of my internal chatter and listen to him.

Back home and another the trip to my closet. I remember the shoes I saw in town. Nope, don’t have any.  I have VERY fussy feet. Stylish shoes kill me. Forget heels.  I’ve had to give up long walks and hiking for a bit while I nurse a heel injury. Funny, I’m still taking dance classes. Can’t give everything up. Focus back on shoes. I have a pair of flat sandals and some very comfy, classy “Mary Janes” that will do and then notice my disreputable, UN-pampered toes. Wow. I’ll tend to them when I’m icing my heel later. Otherwise don’t pack the sandals.

Then the clothes. Mostly crops and tee shirts. At least my summer clothes are not the drab colors I tend to wear in winter. As I try things on, AGAIN, I wonder if this is too casual, that too old, this to “in your face”, that to out of style.

I’m almost hyperventilating by now. OK, I’ll wear this to dinner Saturday night. OH NO, we’ll walk to the restaurant, I’ll be limping, and it’s going to be 95 degrees! [Only a week ago we had snow Upstate. I’m wilting, wilting!] This will do for assisting on Sunday. Yes. I’ll bring a back up just in case I panic. I tell myself not to over pack, I’m making myself crazy. I’m not leading the seminar. I just need to be neat, clean and somewhat professional. NO ONE is going to NOTICE except ME! In fact, even if I WERE leading the seminar, it’s FINE!

I try on a few more combinations, just to be sure.  I look at my body while I try on clothes in front of my full length mirror. Goddess, if only I were just 10 pounds lighter. Sigh. I notice the crepe papery thighs which will no longer support ANY clothes that land over my knees. Another sigh.  I notice the little veins in my legs and think, “my Goddess woman, you are SO vain”. Then I laugh aloud at my pun.

I take a deep breath. Decide not to look too closely at the skin on my face and smile. The smile always works.

I realize even as I wish for perfection, I know it’s not possible. Never was, never will be. I’ve been conned from the time I was a little girl to strive for perfection and all I could feel was “not good enough”. I realize that I am not alone in cursing the aging process and the results of gravity. I realize that I can have all these feelings that amount to self-criticism bordering self-loathing and then….

I can know the opposite instantaneously. I can know in the deepest part of my being that I am a beautiful woman. A child of God and Goddess, and no mistake was made. That I am healthy, despite dealing with some aches and pains and chronic illness. That I love my life AND my body that carries me through my life. I can even imagine that those aches and pains exist to remind me to pay attention, take care of myself, love my precious self. I remember that the body I have was the one I was given and the ONLY one I will have this time around.  I recall that there are no do-overs and that my life and my body will always be perfectly imperfect. I am filled with gratitude and joy as I remind myself that all that matters is love.

Special thanks to Kelley Kosow and my amazing coaching community for the delicious conversation last night about the duality of our shadows and emotions. I love you all.

B&W ME

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