We have all heard this expression. “Well, you know, everything happens for a reason.” This might be as dramatic as you caught a red light and just missed being in a car accident. It could be less dramatic, but just as powerful. I happened to need to use the phone in a bar one night and some guy was hogging it. I started harassing him to get off the phone. Turns out he went for a post-graduate year after high school in the same small town I am from in Maine. That is how I met my husband. How about the smaller, more subtle nudges?
I have started going again to a Friday morning yoga class. It is quite a mix of ladies in the group and the teacher is wonderful. One woman in the group is quite vocal. Usually this really bugs me in a yoga class. But I have just been breathing away- no problem. In the beginning of class last week, this chatty woman, (let’s call her Red), was saying about how she has lost 7 or 8 pounds since the start of the year. Red made a derogatory comment about some of her body parts. Another woman, (we’ll call her Blue), said in an off-handed way that we should all be grateful said body parts are working well enough to get us to a yoga class and through our lives. At the end of class the Blue began to explain how she has had three near death experiences. One time she went down cold in front of her kids at a store. I walked out of class thinking about all of the comments we hear all day long. How many of them have a message for us? Did Red hear it? Did she feel the universe nudging her to be grateful for her lumpy, bumpy, healthy body? I don’t know. Too often we are swirling around inside our own heads and miss these subtle nudges from the universe.
Another expression you have heard is pennies from heaven. I never thought much about this. I do remember saying/ thinking to my Dad after he died that if he was going to contact me from the great beyond, I would prefer silver coins. A few summers ago I made the trip to Santa’s Village with my kids. All weekend long it was dimes. Dimes everywhere I looked. I must have found 30 or 40 dimes that weekend. Dropped in front of the concession booths, waiting in lines for rides, in the parking lot, everywhere! Then my little brother died. I started finding pairs of dimes. Seriously, always two dimes. I mentioned to my father that I like quarters too. So, now I find dimes and quarters. Not always together anymore, but sometimes. They always pick up my spirits.
I can’t say if this is a message of love from the great beyond or just the Universe just giving me a little pick me up. Either way, I appreciate the support. I was headed to my second Design Your Life class yesterday. I was in a good space having survived my phone call to my friend. I just mentally asked my Dad to be with me as I know how much he would love this class. To say he loved stuff like this is a massive understatement. He would have been literally buzzing with excitement! I was thinking how nice it would be to find a quarter to know he heard me. I glanced into a parked car and saw a whole roll of quarters sitting in the console. Did my dead father put them there. I really doubt it. Is it possible that I got nudged? I like to think so.
If you are feeling a nudge, come and join us for the Brighten Your Light seminars. I have added a sign up for one class option. If you are interested in checking it out but not sure about the whole series then sign up for the first class. It is $45 to sign up for just one class. If you decide to continue the extra $15 will be taken off of the total cost for the rest of the seminars.
I can’t wait to get started. Come laugh and learn with a great group of ladies. Don’t worry, I promise I won’t make you call anybody up and tell them you lied!
This week I am taking a course at MIT called Designing Your Life. It is taught by a professional life coach from the Handel Group. I have been so looking forward to this class. It is all about looking at your “life script” and deciding if you want to keep following what you have written or want to do some editing. I have felt like it will be a great experience for me and give me a new perspective coming into the Brighten Your Light Seminars.
I went into the first class, yesterday, confident that I was going to be aligned with everything that was presented. I felt pretty sure there would be some people in the room who would struggle with the idea of owning where you are in your life, but it was going to be smooth sailing for me. Driving home I was rifling my glove box for a barf bag. What happened? Let me explain.
We were about 30 minutes into the class and the instructor was really pushing for audience participation. Why was I so terrified to speak up? My brain was on a time delay. I would have a comment formulated only after she had moved on to a completely different topic. Our instructor began talking about integrity. She explained if you say you will do X and you do X, you have integrity. Simple enough. If you say you will do X and you do Y, you do not have integrity. How do you handle that? She proposed three options. 1. You can own it. Say, “I was a bum” and I didn’t do what I said I would. 2. You can make excuses or lie. 3. You can feel bad. Number 2 and 3 are actions we choose to get ourselves off the hook.
This was my big chance to participate. I said, “My name is Heather, and I do both, lie and feel bad.” Great. I participated and it wasn’t too painful. But wait, what is she saying, “Give me an example from your life.” Oh shit! Why did I say anything. Note to self, SHUT UUUPPPPPPP!!! “Okay, I was supposed to meet my friend for lunch but I lost track of time. When I realized I was going to be late I made up a little fib so she wouldn’t think I just blew her off.” I will never speak again. Except she is still talking to me, “So your homework for the next class is you have to call up your friend and tell her that you lied.” So, I’m thinking there’s a pretty good chance you won’t see me on Wednesday.
I can’t really tell you a whole lot about the rest of class because I was mostly trying not to barf. I drove home with my window open, gulping down the fresh air. Man was it good to come home to my awesome family! I was starting to be able to breathe again. I told them about my homework assignment. My kids laughed and said, “That’s easy just go in on Wednesday and tell her you did it.” Houston, we have a problem. Is it possible that I do not live with integrity? Am I teaching my kids this? Maybe… After a lot of laughing and teasing, I started to get some perspective back. My life would surely not end if I called my wonderful, sweet, compassionate friend and told her the truth. I vowed to do it the very first thing- tomorrow.
Well, I did call and own up to my white lie to my great friend. She doesn’t hate me. Thank God. I’m pretty sure she isn’t going to hold it against me. She even suggested I go in and punk the teacher and tell her how much my friend hates me now. That her kids are throwing eggs at my house. We had a good laugh and it was good to catch up for a few minutes. The word lucky doesn’t even begin to cover how blessed I am to have such a wonderful friend in my life. She is a treasure.
What did this experience teach me?
1. If it terrifies the crap out of you. It’s probably something that needs doing.
2. Own it. Do what you say you will do. If you don’t just step up and admit what happened. Making excuses and lying is, “giving away a part of your soul” according to the instructor. Who wants to take a chance on that? Feeling badly about it is so draining and time-consuming. These are two bad habits that can be broken. I am going to spend some time imagining what my life would look like if I didn’t have to spend so much time feeling bad for all of the stuff I haven’t done.
I am headed back to class tomorrow. I am a little less confident that it will be all rainbows and lollipops, but I am more sure than ever that it is where I need to be.
Check out Susan’s bio http://lifeandfriendship.wordpress.com/upcoming-events/meet-the-experts/refresh-your-plate/ . Susan will be leading our first seminar on February 26th with her Refresh Your Plate presentation. Susan is wonderful. You will leave feeling that you are doing more right than you knew, and primed to do more. Check out the Brighten Your Light Series page for more info on all of the seminars. Click the link to sign up http://lifeandfriendship.com/brighten-your-light-series-sign-up
As always, I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment, like me on Facebook, or email me at email@example.com
Join our group of fun, smart, real women as we laugh and learn together. Our Brighten Your Light Sessions start on February 26th with a Healthy Living Seminar. Susan will be teaching us about realistic and healthy changes we can make when cooking and shopping for ourselves and our families. Check out the Brighten Your Light page http://lifeandfriendship.wordpress.com/upcoming-events-2/upcoming-events/ for all the info.
So, I was thinking about all the mean things most of us say to ourselves all the time. You know, how you would put on a bikini and enjoy yourself at the beach if you weren’t so darn fat. How you would love to try… but you are too shy. They don’t even like you anyway, right? All of these mean hurtful things we say to ourselves, but would never dream of saying to another living soul. I have a dim recollection of some show I watched on t.v. ,(it might have been Ruby), with a therapist type talking to this poor woman about how she had to imagine herself as a child. The therapist said, “You would never stand by and allow people to say the awful things to a little child that you say to yourself all the time. Protect your little inner child just as you would any child you might meet.” You have to protect yourself and speak to yourself as if you were still that child. We try so hard to build up our loved one’s self-esteem. I tell my two kids that they have to be their own number one fan. I have to question is that what I am modeling for them?
As I talk to people about the concepts behind Life and Friendship and the Brighten Your Light seminars I hear over and over, “But I don’t have any passion. I don’t know what I would want to do. I am not that type of person. I would like to try…but I am not that confident, smart, strong.” What?!!! Here’s the truth ladies. Your are all of that and a bag of chips! Slow down, listen to what you love. Where are you pulled? I am not necessarily talking about a career change. It could be that you love walking with your earphones on and the music blasting. Make it a priority. It could be that you get really clear that the big Sunday family dinners are a great idea but too much of a burden. Release it and create the family time and closeness in a way that works for you. Maybe you are always having the same fight with your husband, boss, kid, whom ever. Look at what it would be like if you could react differently. Or what if you could not react, at all? Any changes you make to live your life in the way that works best for you, no matter how unbelievably terrifying that may be, is what this is all about. It is your life after all.
I have a poem By Suzanne-Strempek-Shea on my Inspration page and it gave me such comfort at a time when I was struggling with a lot of changes in my life. She wrote:
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees for
a hundred miles through the desert,
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours,
and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles
of the rain are moving across the landscape,
over the prairies, and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese,
harsh and exciting- over and over
announcing your place
in the family of things.
You are enough. This bears repeating. You are enough. Yes, you! This is such a comfort and lifts a huge burden when you feel it. “You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” Trust me, you can find this place. At the time I found this poem I had settled my soft animal body into Bikram yoga four times a week. It was one thing I knew I loved and made me feel good. It was enough for the rest of the world to move on around me while I sweated and stretched and breathed my way through those classes. “Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination.”
So maybe, right now, you don’t feel the passion. Maybe you are not the smartest, bravest, funniest, most outgoing person. That is not what is holding you back from having your life the way you want it to be. Your life is the way you want it. You have created it. You need to change what you want. You need to stop telling yourself you can’t and just do. Be kind, be loving, be supportive to yourself. Be your own biggest fan!
I am attaching a link to a great post on a blog called 12 months of creativity http://12monthscreativity.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/inspiration-surpassing-limits-achieving-goals/ . I love at the end of the post when she said her friend pushed himself to his limits only to find they were much further than he had imagined.
The place you are right now
God circled on the map for you.
The reason for this blog and the Life and Friendship seminars is not to fix anyone or give them the answers to Life’s struggles. We are all at the perfect spot in our lives. Exactly where we were meant to be. No matter what that place looks like. The reason for starting Life and Friendship is to breathe life into the primal memory deep inside all of us that we are not alone on our path. Our own self doubt, fear, and ego cause us to doubt this knowledge. When times are tough we can turn inward and compress ourselves into scared shells of who we could be. We become lost in overwhelming feelings of anxiety and worry. If you find yourself here for minutes, hours, days, or years know you are not alone. Reach out to the world around you and the support you need will rise to meet you. Fill yourself with all that is being offered. Don’t fixate on the solution you believe to be right, but trust the path that is unfolding in front of you. When times are going great we can get caught up in our ego and swell up to such a size that we are taking more than we need from those around us. If you need you must take if you have you must give.
Life and Friendship is about trusting this knowledge. That we are all connected and the success of one is a joy for all. The pain of one is a hardship for all. Maybe your taking is having someone use their contacts to get you an interview, watch your children so you can go on a date or sit and listen when you need an ear. Maybe your giving is sitting quietly and sending your love out to those who need it, donating to a charity or supporting a friend with a dream to change her life.
There is a song I love called For You by Peter Bradley. Part of the song is:
If your fortune ever fails you
and you’re down without a dime to see you through
there’s still luck that you can find
you can have a peace of mind
yeah, I’ll make a wish for you.
If your lover ever leaves you
you don’t have to be alone
take the road that leads you home
and I’ll be waiting there for you.
You are just where you should be. You are just who you should be. Trust this. Lean into the universe it is there to hold you.
I have posted a link for sign up through Pay Pal on the Brighten Your Light sign up page. This is an easy way for you to join our group beginning on February 26th.
If these words ring true for you please post a comment or share this blog with some one you think would appreciate it. I would love the feedback and the help in spreading the word.
Also, I am working on putting together a questionnaire to send out to women who are living their dreams. I think it will be fun to hear how they went after their goals and jumped the hurdle of self doubt. If you have any recommendations for questions please post them in the comments section or email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I have always loved stories about people who are, shall we say, quirky. I love peeking in the window and seeing a bit of how their minds works. Obviously I am not alone as evidenced by the explosion of reality t.v. showcasing the signs and symptoms of any number of mental health issues. Let’s table the discussion for now of whether or not we should even be watching these shows.
What I am always struck by in these shows is the fear. These poor people are terrified! Never mind that what they are afraid of is throwing away a Wendy’s wrapper from 1982. They are completely stricken. I watched one of the bravest women I have ever seen walk herself through that fear to get to the place she had been dreaming of. I actually witnessed the progression of her dreaming of a clean home for her family, dipping her toe into the idea of what she would have to do to get there and shutting down. DENIAL!! No way, no how was she going to get rid of anything. End of discussion. But that lady walked right back up to her fear and faced it down. It is not a pretty process. It generally involves a fair amount of crying, swearing, foot stomping and raging. But it is a beautiful thing to behold. It was made all the more special because she was able to allow others to help her. How hard is that? I have to admit to myself I have a problem and now I have to tell other people?
It’s enough to make the bravest among us run for the hills. To lay bare your fears and failures to others is to make yourself completely vulnerable and helpless. Or is it? By owning up to these deep dark parts of ourselves we begin to take away their power over us. By staying with the scary bits and working through them we can come out on the other side to something beautiful. By allowing others to share in the experience we gain their wisdom and support.
I can think of nothing more amazing than those magical times when one person allows another to cheer them on to reach their goals or extend an act of kindness. Perhaps you’ve seen someone like me with tears in their eyes at a marathon when the fans are cheering on that runner who is so desperately fighting to go on. I was driving with my son when he pointed out a group of three elderly men. “Mom, look. That guy is doing up the other guy’s zipper.” Yep, water works. How sweet is that to allow your friend to help. No words, no embarrassment. Just love.
Be strong. Be brave. Face down your fears and ask someone to hold your hand when you do.
One of the main goals in starting this blog is to share my vision for the Life and Friendship seminars. I have decided to start with a bit about the evolution of the whole concept. I am going to attempt to start at the beginning and hit the key points along the way.
Growing up I often felt like a bit of a shadow. Always hovering around watching and listening. I see now that I was just as interested in what wasn’t being said and in how these people were connecting. I would imagine being in their shoes and how it would feel to be loved, hated, teased, adored and how they came to be in that position. It was probably a little creepy and I clearly remember one girl on the school bus who definitely did not appreciate my attention.
As I got older I continued to watch people but a new dimension was added. More than a bit of self-doubt and dare I say self-hatred came into play. I would see the great qualities that others possessed but none of my own. I am sure most people can identify with feeling this way at some point in their lives. Eventually I became overwhelmed by anxiety and had difficulty connecting with others. I had few close relationships and knew something had to change.
Gradually it began to dawn on me that I was the one who had decided I was a shy, nervous, insecure person. I could decide to be different. Again my observations of others changed. As I observed these amazing qualities in other people I would stop and think, “Do I want to be like that?” “What would it feel like to be that confident?” “How would I walk if I felt great about my body?” I began to try on these different qualities and see how they felt on me. I felt what it would be like to feel this way for a short time. Some of these ways of being felt great to me and I wanted to keep them. This involved a little more than just pretending. Now I had to think what would I need to change to make this stick.
I didn’t realize it at the time but this process was a powerful lesson for me. I began to discover the powerful potential inside of me and to begin to let go of the jealousy and insecurity that had me locked in a place where I could never feel good enough. I also found my lifelong habit of observing others had honed my skills. I had developed a strong ability to see gifts and talents in those around me and to imagine new possibilities for them. This sparked the idea that groups of women in a supportive, fun and open atmosphere could help each other let go of doubt and begin to imagine the possibilities.