Category Archives: change

The Slippery Slope of Mockery

This week, I’m dipping my toe in politics (Gasp! I know, right?) based on a FB post I wrote last week in response to the Donald Trump statues. It’s actually not really a political post though, as I identify as an Independent (so don’t worry, and please read on, because I think it’s important, and I think you’ll like what you read.)

It’s perhaps from that non-partisan perspective that I can better see things that show up as red flags. In response to my post, I heard from friends on both sides of the fence (fiercely loyal Republicans and Democrats alike), and both agreed wholeheartedly with what I wrote, which caused me to pause and reflect on what’s truly going on, if two opposing sides can agree.

Here’s the original post.

So…can I just chime in for a second… Because this is funny and all, and it’s always a good joke to poke fun at someone we find insufferable, right? But… if it were the other way around, if naked Hillary statues were placed around the country, would it be as funny? Or would we be outraged? Because if it wouldn’t be funny to you, then maybe this is not actually funny.

I just want to make a tiny reminder that double standards are the breeding ground for things like racism and privilege. Just something to think about from the social worker in me. Thank you.

Followed by this, in the comments during an ongoing discussion:

The downfall of this election will not be (I fear) who wins or loses, it will be the American people more divided than ever. No matter which candidate wins, we all lose. Spreading division is a sure fire way to create the lowest morale and systemic emotional illness, from which it will take years to recover – which then means that neither candidate will win, because they will inherit an emotionally diseased country, of their own making. PS: It’s called the UNITED states, and they/we are making it the DIVIDED states.

Discussion ensued, and I started to see the pattern that initially gave me pause. Basically, the act of publicly degrading another human being feels like a violation of our core for the majority of people, regardless of party politics. Why? Because it is.

It’s a simple truth actually. If we witness someone acting out negatively toward another human being, we either a) become enraged, or b) become sensitized to it, and ultimately accept more “bad” behavior. How we then choose to act is dependent upon our initial reaction.

I had a real-life “example” in grad school with a friend when we were sitting in a coffee shop watching a mother disciplining her child, rather cruelly but without physical abuse. It was that very fine line of what is acceptable and what is not as a society. It lasted less than a minute, and neither of us wanted to step in, but both of us were angered and upset as we sat dumbfounded trying to figure out what to do. What was “right?”

Of course, we couldn’t come up with an acceptable answer, but our awareness had been heightened by the experience and ensuing discussion, which, for me, resulted in a greater sensitivity to seeing the forest from the trees. That basically means that when I see something go from individual to systemic a HUGE red flag rises in my mind’s eye, and that’s exactly what happened last week.

Back to the Trump statues. Let me be clear that I don’t agree with the divisiveness and hatred that Donald Trump has espoused this past year, so this article isn’t about defending Trump. Nor is this article about condoning Hillary, as the Democrats have historically also been responsible for divisiveness and mud-slinging. Neither party is innocent of this type of debasing behavior.

This article is about defending humanity and our civilization.

In one comment on the statues, it was suggested that it was “okay” to mock Trump with the statues because satire has always been a part of politics, and it’s our right. In another the mockery was justified as “deserving” because of Trump’s words over the past year.

This is where I took issue.

At what point does mockery become a threat to society? At what point do we stop and say, “no.” to that sort of behavior? This is where we have to guard against the slipper slope of mockery. Where I suggested the statues went too far for myriad reasons.

The responding comment suggested that this was not a time to take the “high road,” to which I wrote:

…for me it’s not about “the high road” – it’s about focusing on the bigger picture, which is that this type of behavior fuels more of this type of behavior, and if I condone it in one, I must condone it in all. No reason justifies it. That would be like saying, a person who was abused is ok to then abuse others. It’s not. It never is. It might explain why someone has abused someone else (as it often does), but it doesn’t make it ok on any level. Not for me, at least.

….And into that very dangerous ground we tread. The minute we can start rationalizing and justifying demoralizing behavior, we are losing. As a society and as humanity.

…If we start segregating people based on this thinking (they deserved it) we have reverted as a collective. Who is to be judge and jury? It’s all subjective. And the loser is always society.

The discussion ended there. Though a few days later, a friend had shared similar thoughts to my original post on her own timeline, and she received backlash. Again, those who would justify or rationalize (two major red flags, as I described in my book What if..?) the demoralizing statues as “deserving” voiced their opinions. My friend, courageously suggested that kindness should begin to rule our words – especially politically – to which one of her friends suggested civility, at least. I chimed in again:

…it’s more than kindness – it’s civility. But for me, it’s more than that – it’s humanity and civilization. As we lose our sensitivity to unacceptable behavior – that behavior becomes the “norm” and the threshold is moved. It’s one of the most slippery slopes we have actually, and if we don’t stem the tide, it will become a tsunami. And then all of humanity, civilization, loses. We ALL lose, regardless of party allegiance. I’m in the camp that we are already losing, but not in the camp of “beyond hope” for systemic change. But it has to start somewhere, and ideally it has to be bookended – from both above and below. Those in power, and those that elected them, both have to change how it’s done. Both have to have a fierce no-tolerance policy for degradation.

You see, historically (and even currently) I have always aligned with the policy of laissez-faire, or “let it do” (aka: let go). I don’t believe any one person has a right to impose their beliefs on any other person, myself included. I wish to be free to explore my beliefs, my thinking, my studying and change my mind/actions/presence accordingly. And I want the same for everyone else. Where beliefs overlap, I want those individuals to be able to form community and fellowship, celebrating the overlap and the joy in connection. This is my ideal society.

Overall, I think we have been living this way in America for a long time. It’s not perfect, but it has functioned, mostly well. The reason it functioned, I think, is because the majority had adopted a civil and moral code of conduct that was unwritten, but understood. Therefore, when I see the system sliding away from that invisible moral code and crossing a threshold into transforming unacceptable behavior into the “norm,” I get concerned. Red flags rise everywhere, and it becomes time to speak up and speak out against this type of behavior.

I think if you asked most citizens of this country if they believed in basic human rights, and the desire to be free to think as they choose without having their beliefs imposed upon, they would agree. Nobody wants to be scorned. Nobody wants to be shamed. Nobody wants to be mocked, ridiculed, or degraded. I doubt you would find one person willing to subject themselves to such behavior. Why then, do we do it to others?

Why is it ok to mock, shame, scorn and degrade another human being, when we don’t want it for ourselves?

The simple truth is: it’s not.

It’s not okay, and it never will be okay – but the more we do it, see it, witness it without speaking up, the more acceptable and “okay” it becomes through progressive rationalization, or desensitization. And that’s what we witnessed last week with the statues.

Yes, politics and satire have always been bedfellows to an extent, but at what point have we crossed the line from satire into degradation? At what point do we draw the line and choose to reverse the problems this type of behavior has created?

I would argue that that point is now, and it’s up to all of us to simply say “no, I don’t accept that behavior,” when we see it, and then offer a different way. The important distinction is to comment on the behavior, not the person. Behavior is something that can be changed. It’s not a statement about a person (ie: “I don’t accept that person,” which is problematic for myriad reasons), it’s a statement about something a person has done. That can then lead to discussion, relation, and connection – which ultimately leads to positive change for all.

Feeling Gratitude or Giving Thanks

Back to the shower for this week’s inspiration (I just love how the water amplifies everything for me and makes the flow so much easier).

So, last week I was in the shower after having a really good chat with a friend, and feeling an immense gratitude. I started to write on my glass shower wall (as I do):

I am grateful for…

And I paused.

I had a whole list of things to feel grateful for, and yet, it somehow wasn’t coming forth. It felt restrained, which meant it was time to step back and listen as I lathered up my hair with a new shampoo.

It wasn’t long before something started to shift within my mind, and my hand instinctively went to the wall once more:

Thank you…

I suddenly felt a charge running through me that surpassed anything I had felt previously. It was like gratitude on steroids.

Thank you.

Thank you for…

And I continued with my list. Once I finished I took a deep breath and reflected on what had just happened.

“Thank you…” is an ACT of gratitude; while “I’m grateful for…” is a STATEMENT of gratitude. Both are wonderful expressions of gratitude, but the former carries with it the vibration of action, which is thought manifested, and therefore infinitely more powerful. Very cool.

gratitude as act

Honestly, in looking back at all the times I tried to keep a gratitude journal and failed, I think I have finally hit on the reason why:

When something is passive for me, I tend to dabble with my toes in the water. When something is active for me, I tend to dive in and swim.

Shifting my gratitude from a statement to an act made it palpable, tangible and accessible – and it imbued me with a sense of empowered appreciation that I hadn’t felt previously. In other words, it changed everything. The shift was immediate, deep, and carried over into all of my days since.

Being in gratitude is the easiest and fastest way I know to stay in the flow of life and to stay present. Practicing gratitude as action instead of statement, makes it even easier.

Perspective, Fat-Shaming, and Truth

Well, this week I’m getting more personal. It’s a blog, though, isn’t it – so, in many ways it’s about being personal. For over seven years I have shared my thoughts and perspective on myriad things, usually from a place of having vetted the topic through many many filters of experience, knowledge, and teachings. This week, I’m getting a bit more personal, and you’ll see why when you read what I have to say.

Many of you know me and/or know much of my story. Many of you don’t. Either way, you’ll get a glimpse into how I became who I am today from this week’s piece. I hope you enjoy it, and if you’ve experienced anything similar for any reason – know you are not alone. (For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you may have already seen this as a post earlier this week.)

I just made the mistake of reading the comments on a beautiful story of a discriminated segment of the population standing proud and doing something that goes against stigma… And the majority of comments were horrible. I had hoped that they wouldn’t be on such a lovely piece. I was wrong.

It made me pause and think. I haven’t mentioned what “segment” this is. Did you have an idea in your head when reading my above paragraph? What if I’m referring to disabled individuals? Or African-Americans? Or LGBT? What if I’m referring to the elderly, or the poor? To immigrants?

I’ve seen many posts in recent times about all of these groups doing something against the stigma, and the majority of comments have been “you go girl!” or “well done,” or even “about time!” But because I’m NOT speaking about any of these or similar groups, I see a different trend in the commentary.

Would it surprise you to know I’m speaking about plus-sized women? More specifically, Plus-sized women dancers who have more flexibility and strength in their bodies than many other people on the planet? And still…they are demeaned as nothing more than a number on a scale, or a size on a label.

These strong women are dancing beautifully, breaking a stereotype and a stigma, and attacked for doing so. They are called “fat” and “obese” and told that they shouldn’t be dancing because it “glorifies” being fat, when they should be hiding it away and working harder to be thin. (Because “thin” = “healthy” apparently.)

This makes me mad. Nobody – NOBODY – has a right to judge another. Unless you can walk in the other person’s shoes, you simply don’t know (and you can’t, and even if you could, there’s still no place to judge). If these comments were directed at any other discriminated population, the perpetrators would be called “racist” and “bigots.” But for some reason it’s still ok to fat-shame. An entire segment of the population is routinely put down (negated, attacked, dismissed, shamed) because of their appearance and the social stigma attached to it, and it’s simply wrong.

I speak from experience on this. I’ve been thin(ner), and I’ve been fat. I currently carry an extra 60lbs of ’emotional scar tissue’ from my marriage. But I’m alive. It’s increasingly harder for me to shift the weight, but I’m working on it with a team of experts. And I’m alive. Unless you’ve walked in my shoes, you have no right to judge me and how I look – and yet…I’ve been judged. I’ve received comments, and stares, and messages (unsolicited offerings of advice and help), because people “care” for me or (in actuality) are uncomfortable with my weight. Well, luckily, they don’t have to be the one carrying it.

And I smile and nod in “appreciation” because it’s easier that way. It’s easier to seem grateful for the thoughtful/less suggestions than it is to say, “f**k off!” And I build a story around it: “…but I’m alive,” to justify others’ discomfort at my appearance.

Well, no more. I’m tired. I’m tired of being looked at as ‘lesser-than’ because I have a ‘bit-more’ than others. Because here’s the truth of the matter:

I’m fat. I gained 60lbs during a (mostly) dysfunctional marriage, and I’m having a hard time getting it off, because of an injury. But…I’m alive. In the last year of my marriage I was certain I wouldn’t be for long, either at my own hand, or his. So, I’m alive, and I’m fat. And I have some health concerns that I am working on with professionals – (mostly the result of my silly toe that stopped bending – the rest of me is healthy by the numbers). And I’ve had relationships since my divorce with (attractive/slim) men – should I not have, because I’m fat? Because I’ve been told that, too. Yes.

And…

And I’m SO MUCH MORE than all of that. It’s just one ~ one ~ piece of my story. A story that is always evolving and growing, and includes:

I’m alive. I survived. I’m beautiful, smart, funny, creative, and strong. I’m fat and flexible, happy and whole. I’m intuitive and blessed, grateful and living my life with purpose and passion – I’m living, because I’m alive, and I survived. And I’m everything I ever was and will yet be, because of that.

People are more than their bodies. #Stopfatshaming

Post-Note: Unless we learn to regularly take perspective, how can we invite compassion into our lives, or expect it from others? The key to creating change in humanity includes this very crucial first step: taking perspective.

Look At Your Wake

How many of us struggle with feeling “good enough” or staying motivated to keep going when we face a seemingly long array of obstacles? I know I’m not alone when I share this thought. Not only have I seen it in my clients and colleagues, but I’ve also witnessed it in my personal life among friends and family. It’s that feeling of looking forward to the next rung on the ladder, and finding the motivation within to keep going, keep striving, keep climbing, as we look ahead at those who have already “done it” – whatever “it” is.

For me, I am just coming off my first year as a published author, and my seventh year as a certified life coach, not to mention all the other things in between. I look at other people in my industry who have “succeeded” and I wonder why I haven’t reached the same level of success as they have…or appear to have. (<– always a good reminder.)

There are many answers to this, of course, but the two most obvious are:

  • They’ve been doing it a LOT longer than I have (in many cases around 2 decades for the authors/speakers I admire the most), and
  • They’ve had a LOT of help to get where they are.

So, first, let me say that I have had wonderful help with my first book and its subsequent tour, as well as various other projects I’ve created. Additionally, I know I’m successful in what I do and have done, which I am especially reminded of when I receive unexpected messages of gratitude for my work. (Thank you, again, by the way, I love hearing from you!) My challenge has been in making it scalable, which is a new focus for me this fall. But what I’m talking about goes deeper. It’s more than that.

When someone has a fire burning in their belly to walk the path they’ve been given, it can sometimes be frustrating when the path seems slow or strewn with obstacles. Part of the reason for that is because we are always looking ahead. Guilty as charged.

As a Visionary, it’s my job to constantly be flying between the forest and the trees, to understand the ever-changing perspective and digest it in a meaningful way. As a Writer and Coach, it’s my job to then relate that information in an accessible and actionable manner. This is my path, and I love and accept it. It means that I am always looking around, assessing and monitoring the universal energies and shifts I see to understand what they mean for humanity, from both a divine and human perspective. As I’ve said before, I write from my soul to understand my humanity. It’s from this space that I then help people to (re)connect and understand their souls (and their humanity) better. It’s cool work, and I love it.

And… I’m human. Sometimes I get lost in it. I get mired in the feeling of not being good enough, because I’m

  1. looking at the others who have done it
  2. trying to figure out how they did it, then
  3. going back to my work to do it, meeting an obstacle, and again
  4. looking at the others who have done it… and the cycle continues.

Until, one day, at 39,000 feet in the air, I was given the key to breaking the cycle.

Last week I spent 38 hours trying to get home. I was in Virginia flying with my family back to the Midwest, and everything was canceled or delayed. Everything. We handled it rather graciously I think, as we never lost our humor or kindness throughout the ordeal. In the end, it would have been faster to drive, but there were a lot of logistical issues, so we stayed the course and finally made it home about 26 hours after our original ETA.

On the final flight home my humor was beginning to wane, so I chose to meditate a bit. I put on some good music, plugged myself into my headphones, and started to breathe.

Previously, I have mentioned that showers have been one of the easiest places I have ever found in which to receive clear messages from Spirit. Well, it turns out that 39,000 feet, surrounded by strangers, inside a metal tube was surprisingly easy too.

As I breathed, I felt myself drop into a deeply relaxed state, and then the images and visions started coming, followed by the words. There was a lot of information for me (I hadn’t actively “connected” in almost 2 weeks – yikes), and I allowed myself to be present to it all, knowing I wouldn’t “remember” it all but that I would ingest it all. One thing stood out, however, and I burned it into my mind’s eye, because of its simplicity and power.

“Look at Your Wake.”

In that moment, I was meditating on the future (asking questions and receiving guidance on how to move forward), and I started to feel a wee bit overwhelmed in my breath. Then I heard those words.

Look at Your Wake.

In my vision, I energetically turned around from where I was standing and saw my wake behind me. It trailed off into infinity like a peacock tail of golden white stardust. It was breathtaking. Humbling. And then my heart filled with gratitude, awe, and love, and any sense of frustration or overwhelm dissipated immediately.

You see, many of us spend so much time striving ahead that we forget to pause, look behind us, and honor what we’ve already done. The lives we’ve touched. The art we’ve created. The joy we’ve given. The love we’ve shared. It’s all there. Every last instance of that which we’ve created is in our wake. Some of it we know about and a lot of it we don’t. Looking at our wake is the key to breaking the cycle of frustration and overwhelm when we are feeling ‘lesser than’ or unmotivated. Looking at our wake keeps us grounded in who we are, what we’re doing, and why.

I took it a step further, too. As I reveled in my vision of a shimmering wake, I remembered that I had a fire in me to keep moving forward. It was then that I wrote this:

To make ripples of change – to create a wake – keep moving forward.

look at your wake

It’s true, and especially helpful when we are feeling stuck, discouraged or overwhelmed. If we wish to create positive change in the world, or in our lives, it’s not about the milestones – it’s about the movement between the milestones. The milestones allow us to pause and look back at our wake and smile, which then recharges us for what lies ahead on our journeys.

xoxo,
Martina

A Return to Authentic Joy

Over the last few weeks I’ve been focusing heavily on the roles Hope and Fear play in our lives on a daily basis. In light of world events, it seemed to be a topic I needed to address. It’s not enough, however, to talk about Hope. Though it’s important, it’s equally as important to discuss Joy. And frankly, we all could use a bit more joy these days, don’t you think? But how do we find our joy? What does that even look like?

One of the primary issues my clients come to me with is a feeling that they’ve lost their way. They wake up one morning, usually later in life, and say, “How did I get here?” or “What’s this all for?”

It’s a bit like an existential crisis – though over the years I’ve narrowed it down to more of a lack of authentic joy. As a result, one of the early questions I ask clients who are expressing this need is:

“When you were five years old, what brought you joy? What made you belly laugh?”

This question not only serves to create a language and discussion around joy, but it reminds them that they know what joy feels like, and that they once experienced it effortlessly.

In a recent example, I had a client whose answer was simply: “My dog,” which, in a panic, she immediately followed with: “But I don’t want to have a dog right now!”

I reassured her, “Don’t worry – you won’t have to go get a dog to rekindle your authentic joy.”

After talking through her experience of having a dog at 5 years of age, and why it was the first thing she thought of when asked about joy, we uncovered what the dog represented for her, which turned out to be:

  • play
  • unconditional love
  • companionship

This client was single, had great friendships and relationships with others, but felt she was missing the elements that she thought would allow her to play, feel free to be herself, and share that joy with someone else.

Once we identified this as the path back to adding more joy into her life, we could then work out how, when, and why these things were important – as well as how she could incorporate these various aspects in her life.

As children, we laugh freely, love openly, and live joyously. Our lives are mostly well-cared for by someone else, which allows us to be ourselves more completely. As adults, the reverse is true. Not only do we feel that we often need to “be” something other than what we are, we also spend a lot of time managing things for others. As a result, we can feel disconnected from ourselves, and from authentic joy.

In my experience, the path back to authentic joy involves these steps:

  1. Remembering what brings us true unabated joy,
  2. Understanding what it represents,
  3. Seeking it in a new way, and
  4. Adding it back into our lives.

This is the recipe I have developed for returning to a more joyful state of being. For me personally, it looks like having music playing throughout my day (I like to sing), making time to reconnect with friends near and far, and prioritizing time in nature. What does it look like for you? 🙂

Resistance, Obstacles, and Making Sense of the Senseless

Last week, in light of the recent tragedies and violence in the US and abroad, I wrote a bonus blog and recorded a video on how we make sense of the senseless. The bottom line, for me, was that we stop trying. It’s virtually impossible to make sense of something that goes against our very nature. Trying to attribute rational thinking to such a problem becomes an endless cycle of frustration, grief, and disconnection.

What we can do, instead, is work to heal the root cause of the senseless actions of others. In this instance, I believe that all violence has its origins in the low-vibration energy of Fear, and fear is taught. Therefore, if we wish to combat senseless violence, we must teach Hope. Hope is a high-vibration energy that directly counteracts fear. (To learn more, you can read the rest of the blog here, or if you prefer, you can watch the video.)

Then, this past weekend, I stumbled across this video by Mingyur Rinpoche. I admit that I clicked on it because of the title, “I’m too lazy to meditate,” because I am too lazy to meditate. Well, I’m not sure if “lazy” is the right word –  but you get what I mean.

In the first few moments of the video, he gives the basic answer that I gave to dealing with the senseless violence: Stop trying. Or in the meditation example, stop fighting the laziness. When you stop pushing against that which is your obstacle, you give your obstacle the room it needs to fall away naturally.

I believe that the body and soul have a natural inclination to homeostasis. I also believe that all the obstacles we face in our lives are our soul’s journey through remembering who we are at our core, and each challenge brings us that much closer to the central truth. Therefore, if our natural inclination is to return to center, and the obstacles are there to assist us in doing just that, it makes sense that our job is to stop resisting the obstacle in order to allow it to teach us what we need so that it can fall away.

Did you catch that? Sometimes, it’s truly as simple as taking a step back and accepting that which we perceive to be in our way. It’s often this basic act of acknowledgment that allows the obstacle to go. 

In the case of being too lazy (tired, overwhelmed, frustrated, scared, etc.) to meditate, as Mingyur says, it’s about taking a step back, accepting the state you’re in, and reframing your perspective to welcome the obstacle into your life, which paradoxically, allows it to go.

I really enjoyed this video, and I hope you will too. I write often about how to create change in our lives, and how awareness and small consistent steps have the most lasting effect. This video describes just that, and for me, it’s perfectly timed. I have been frustrated with my lack of meditation and routine and itching to get back to it. However, my frustration has caused me to feel overwhelmed which has prompted me to not try. Yup – that’s what I said.

Mingyur’s video is a reminder to me that it’s not about trying or perfection, it’s about choice and presence. Five seconds of meditation is still 5 seconds, and five seconds repeatedly will add up and eventually lead to five minutes.

Whether it’s trying to make sense of the senseless, or feeling frustrated over the lack of a routine, it’s the resistance that keeps us stuck.

xoxo,
Martina

Resistance

Something Old – Something New

June is wedding season, so I thought I’d borrow an old adage in keeping with the times: Something Old – Something New.

“Something OLD” refers to a theme or message that I have shared for many years with my readers and my clients. It’s about belief systems and the various forms they can take in our lives. Often, we don’t realize that we are operating under unchecked belief systems as we make decisions or plans, but we are. It’s when we begin to raise our awareness to these ingrained patterns that we start to set ourselves free of the ones that are holding us back, and we align more deliberately with the ones that support who we are authentically.

Belief systems are not inherently bad. However, it’s the unexamined belief system that can be creating obstacles in your path without you realizing it. Last week, I explored one such belief system in a little bit more detail, which brings me to the “something new.”

“Something NEW” refers to a new format I am starting to embrace to help get my work more broadly into the world: video. Some of us learn better from reading, while others learn better from hearing or seeing, and I needed to honor this truth. I recently completed a marketing course, which I have referred to a couple times in recent weeks, in which I practiced the art of making video to share a message, idea, or topic. Trust me, this wasn’t easy for me – even though I was a drama major in college and spent most of my high school years on the stage. There’s something so immediate about video that makes it more intimate. So, it took some work for me to get to where I felt I was ready to show up and be seen in this manner. And I’m glad I did.

The feedback has already been overwhelmingly positive. Most importantly, I heard exactly what I knew to be true: for many people it was “so much easier” to grasp the concept from watching a 3- or 5-minute video, than it was to read a blog or a chapter in my book. Furthermore, several people told me that the teaching sunk in without them realizing it, as they suddenly discovered that they were more aware of their thought and belief patterns over the days following watching my video. This is the best result I could hope for.

So, with that, I share both of these first videos with you now. I will most definitely be making more, so stay tuned. And if you want to remain in the loop, you can catch all my videos on Facebook, with little snippets being posted on Instagram. And, if you click the “see first” option on my Facebook page you’ll know every time something new appears. Soon enough, I suspect I will set up a YouTube channel to manage all of this content. For now, however, I am keeping it simple.

As for the videos themselves, they’re all about the stories we tell ourselves, and how that can either be a cause for positive change, or a source of self-detrimental behavior. You can watch them here:

Stories: Part 1 (What Happens When We Make Up Stories – and we all do)

Stories: Part 2 (The Genesis of Story)

Leading or Paving the Way Forward

Isn’t so much of life about reacting to something, rather than creating something anew?

They say there are no more original ideas. I don’t think that’s entirely true, but I think it’s mostly true. I read the words of poets that are hundreds of years old, and I hear their words echo through the ages in more contemporary authors. Several years ago, in a very vulnerable moment riddled with self-doubt, I once shared with someone who I consider to be part friend, part teacher, and part counselor that I didn’t think I had any hope of a future in writing or inspiring others. I told him I had nothing to contribute to the conversation about self-help that hadn’t already been said.

My friend wisely listened, and then told me this:

“It’s not what you’re saying that’s new – it’s how you’re saying it that’s unique to you.”

He went on to explain that someone out there needed to hear what I had to say in my words, my voice, in order to understand it and hear it for the first time, after not hearing it so many other ways.

I know this to be true, because every week I receive feedback from my readers reiterating what my friend had said so many years ago: They needed to hear what I wrote, and often felt it was written just for them.

This is why I do what I do – this is why I will always do what I do and honor who I am, my path, and my gifts, as they unfold and present themselves more boldly.

But what happens when I sit down to type and the words simply don’t flow?

Last week I wrote about my hope to live more fully aligned with all I am, including my spiritual gifts. I wrote about how easy (and deceptive) it was to play small, without realizing I was doing it. Then I sat down to write for this week, and I stared at a blank screen and an endlessly flashing cursor.

Where do I go from here?

I’m not sure. And that’s the simple truth of it all. There’s this thing called a “visibility hangover” that happens after you’ve put yourself more “out there.” As I’ve learned from my dear friend, Sarah, in her marketing course, after every expansion comes a natural contraction.

Frankly, I think that’s what’s happening this week for myriad reasons. I’m contracting, going within, to regroup, clarify, and clear out some mental and emotional clutter to make a bolder, more structured path forward.

So, I guess, for me, the answer to the blinking cursor is simply: write. Write anything. Just write. See what comes out. See where it leads you.

Sometimes you have to let the path lead you, rather than trying to pave it yourself.

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And that’s pretty much it for this week. Last week several of you were kind enough to tell me you were looking forward to watching, learning, and understanding how this “roadmap of greatness” I mentioned last week would unfold. I thank you. I am, too.

I think, in general, I’ve been hesitant to share too much of my journey as it is unfolding. I often write once I’ve understood, vetted, and embodied something for a while, desiring only to impart the knowledge I’ve gained along the way in the hope that it will help others.

And yet, here we are. Everything you’ve read in this blog post has been a complete surprise to me. It’s raw, real, and very much not vetted.

That being said, I think it’s ok, even good, to not always have understanding. Sometimes it’s important to share the process by which the understanding was obtained. Sometimes it’s important to let the path lead you forward, trusting that it will unfold as it’s meant to. I am doing just that.

The Powerlessness of Living Outside Yourself

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”
– Alice Walker

I came across this quote the other day, and it struck me with how simple it is. At first I wanted to disagree, because I was thinking that people mostly give up their power by having too many externalized hopes and expectations. They live outside of themselves, through others.

This is a common trait in codependency: you define yourself and your world through or in relation to someone else. Your identity is based on anything but you. It’s a very powerless place to be.

But then I re-read the quote again, and I realized the reason why I wanted to push back against it:

It scared me to believe that people truly don’t think they have any power to begin with.

Really? Is this the most common reason for powerlessness? If so, that’s a truly shudder-producing thought indeed, and it prompts me to wonder how someone could get from being a child who believes in superheroes and possibility to an adult who believes they are powerless and at the mercy or whim of their environment or situation. How is this possible?

And yet….

And yet, I see it every day. The quote is, sadly, true.

In my work I have met with countless clients who have shown up to our first session having no sense of their own innate presence, let alone power. Our journey together is about helping them to rediscover their joys, their voice, their passions, and their Self – which, frankly, can all be lumped into the word: Power.

Powerlessness is debilitating. Somewhere between five years of age (when we’re running around barefoot in the grass knowing without doubt that anything is possible and imagining a world in which we can be everything we know we are in our hearts) and 25 years of age (when we believe everything is limited by situation, environment and others) we have lost our Power. We have lost our sense of Self; we have lost our knowing.

Somewhere in our 30s or 40s (if we’re lucky) we stumble across a feeling that reminds us we are powerful, if even for a moment, and that creates a longing to remember the days of our youth. I think that’s why many people experience a “mid-life crisis.” We are trying to recapture the expansive nature of our childhood: our innate Power within.

So, what would happen if those who have forgotten their Power actually started to realize that it’s there inside them, within their reach?

I’d argue that we’d have a slight period of discomfort during the shift as we all adjust to a new, more natural, paradigm, followed by true peace, joy, harmony, and love.

Because our individual Power is not about power over others; it’s about living in alignment with who we are, with respect and regard for everyone else doing the same. Life is no longer lived in competition (a construct of living externally), but it is lived in mutual growth, understanding, and support.

We each have a unique role to play in this world. Though we may strive to “be like” so-and-so, at the end of the day, that’s not who we are. It would be better to be inspired by so-and-so, and live more fully as who we each are. That is the true goal of life: to realize who you are, and step into that more fully each day. That is the definition of Power.

The beautiful thing is: as we each begin to take steps toward this truth, we encourage and allow others to do the same. The ripple effect is vast. Through being in our own Power, we empower others to do the same. And… there’s nothing more powerful than that.

Finding Your Reason Makes ALL the Difference

Toward the end of last year, I received the same advice (inspired message) from various sources, so I decided to take note. Sometimes, when the Universe is trying to tell you something and you aren’t hearing it, it wisely makes the decision to be repetitive until you take note.

Such was the case for me throughout much of November and December. What was the message?

Routine.

I needed to create routine in my life in order to be more in the flow, to be more inspired, and to accomplish all I have set out to do. And yet… routine? Really?

Previously I had subscribed to Paulo Coelho’s statement on routine:

“ If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine. It’s lethal.”

Coelho-routine quoteAnd yet.

And yet… here was this repeated message, being shared with me from various trusted sources (think: colleagues, friends, mentors, doctors). There was truth in what they were saying, and I knew it. Routine, for me, wouldn’t be lethal, but the lack of routine certainly was proving otherwise.

It was lethal to my productivity, my ideas, my stability, and hence my innovation and creativity. A lack of routine made it harder for me to achieve my personal wellness goals as well.

So, as the new year approached, I muddled through the holidays trying to establish the baby steps of a routine. After about 2-3 weeks of trying and not exactly succeeding, I took stock. What was I missing? That’s when it occurred to me:

I had never been taught how to design, create, and establish a routine.

Now, for those of you who seem to know how to do this, this may seem like a weird conundrum, but it’s true. Not knowing the basics of establishing routines makes it actually quite difficult to get started.

Of course, the Type A side of me had an internal dialogue akin to the Nike slogan “Just do it,” but that wasn’t enough. My reply, invariably went something like this:

Honestly, if you think I could “just do it,” don’t you think I would have DONE it, by now?

So, I had to start from scratch through trial and error.

As it turns out, and as I’m learning (it’s an ongoing process), it’s really hard to establish a routine if you’re not actually invested in the reasons why or the activities themselves.

Duh.

I can look back on decades of schooling and say with 100% certainty that if I wasn’t interested in the topic, it was like pulling taffy to get me to do any work (I did the minimum). This is how I am. I know it, I work with it, and I embrace it. Because the reverse is also true: When I’m invested in something, you can be sure I will be all in. I just needed to find the right reason.

So, how do I get invested in something that I don’t fully understand, that I was never taught how to do, and that felt daunting and overwhelming from the word “go?”

I want to say: “Here’s how! Here’s the magic answer. Now, go forth and change your lives with this magic wand I created and/or stumbled upon.”

But it’s simply not the truth.

The truth is, I don’t have the answer. However, I do know what not to do, and that’s actually proving to be more than enough.

I know not to use the four diversionary tools I mentioned in my book to rationalize, justify, generalize, or explain/judge my way into excuses. I know that if I’m making excuses to NOT engage in a new behavior (one that I actually want to do), it’s because I believe (wrongly) that I’m more comfortable in my current state than I will be if I try to do something else. And that’s the basis of all change, isn’t it?

The argument between the seeming comfort of the status quo and the unknown discomfort of doing something different often creates a cycle of inactivity. The problem is, both are subjective and unknown. And when something is unknown it often leads to feelings of fear. And fear, I know for certain, is NOT how I choose to live my life, nor is it an energy with which I wish to align. Boom! I had my reason.

Just as I teach my clients, when you drill down past the surface level of any problem, you can usually arrive at a baseline of energy or emotion. Typically, the choice is fear or hope (many say love, but at that deep baseline, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, it’s actually hope). When we get down to that level, to the underlying energy behind our choices, we get to decide which energy is in alignment with who we are and our values. And, as it turns out, that awareness is often enough to propel ourselves forward into the unknown. In my case that meant doing something I was never taught, didn’t understand the value of, and had no investment in… until I did.