Everything is perfect

Dear Strong Woman,

 

You’re missing it.

 

You’re immeasurably gifted with sixth sense for what the world needs, but your anger at the fact there is a need at all is blinding you to the beauty the world already has.

 

It’s worked for you.

 

It’s how you’ve come to be a leader.  You find the problem and fix it. Find and fix. Find and fix.  But it keeps you looking for what’s wrong in the world, rather than seeing what is right.

 

You look at yourself this way, too.

 

That suitcase full of complaints is starting to get heavy.  You feel it’s effect on your body. In your heart.  And yet you’re attached to this bag of bricks.  You use them to build a wall between you and the ones who don’t get it, stacking them tall and wide to block your view of the problems.  

 

It also blocks your view of what’s possible.

 

This isn’t working for you anymore, sis!  Yes, you’re tired of being the one to stand up, speak out, get knocked down, and try again. And yet this is how you learn.  Success is not built on success.  It’s built on failure, frustration, catastrophe.

 

So trade your criticism for compassion.

 

You are exactly where you need to be, and everyone else is, too.  So b-r-e-a-t-h-e. If there is nothing to fix about where we are on the map, what action can you take from here?

 

Smile?

Explore?

Love yourself?

 

Guess what!  You can lead from this place, too.

 

You can make change without sacrificing your joy.

You can make an impact without giving up your peace.

 

You can love the world as is, while standing for what you know it can be.

 

Pause.  Take in the view.  

 

Everything is perfect.

STAY

Dear Strong Woman,

Stay in it.

I’ve come to equate the journey through an intense season of change to a deep tissue massage. You know the experience will be worth it, but as it’s happening I sometimes find that pain almost too uncomfortable to bear.

At first it always feels good, but inevitably the masseuse finds my trouble spots and sets up camp there for a bit. Tapping, kneading, applying pressure. Working out the mess and the tension, what I refer to as “the crunchies” that have built up over time. (Funny, I call the crumble cookie layer on a Dairy Queen ice cream cake this same name.  Though I have a much different relationship with that indulgence.) I have to keep reminding myself to breathe through these moments, telling myself to hold on a little longer, that it’ll all be over soon and I’ll be happy I stayed in it.

Change is like this, too.

I’ve been interviewing recently for a new job, in particular one that would afford me the time and energy to dedicate to my growing coaching practice.  Time with loved ones is important to me, as is my own self-care, and both have been the first to go as I’ve been working a side-hustle on top of a full-time job.  (Perhaps it’s a similar story for you?)  So I made a list: my conditions of satisfaction for whatever came along next.  If what was presented didn’t align with them, then it was a pass. Period.  

And yet, with bills to pay and time ticking away, I could feel the crunchies starting to form.

I interviewed with an organization I really admire.  I feel in alignment with their business model and in good vibration with their people.  But the structure of the position they were looking to fill didn’t match my conditions.  It wasn’t immediate – as courage doesn’t always roar, my friends! – but I found to gumption to risk what was on the table for what I was committed to, for the way I want to do life.  They wanted full-time. I asked for part-time.  They wanted someone for the long haul.  I let them know my goal of running a coaching practice full time in six months.

Doing so left me feeling the same way I do after one of those massages – a little sick. My fears of being able to pay my bills and falling back into debt grew into a giant, crunchy knot in my chest. But I stayed in it, and as I heard myself stating what was necessary for me for me to remain inside the commitment I made, I found myself telling myself the same things: Hold on.  Just a little bit longer.  You’ll be happy you did.

In the end, they still offered me the job! How rewarding it was to take a stand for what I am worth,  what I am creating, and be validated! Finally.

I’m not saying it will always be like this.  In the past, asking for what I needed got me scoffed at, outcasted, and dumped.  As you make a change, this happens.  People will react in this way.  Just remember that these are not your people.  Their opinions of you have no bearing on your self worth.  Sure, they may shake their heads and wonder why, but keep going, dear.  Soon they’ll be wondering how.

The last thing I want to point out is this:  there is fear present in every choice you make. There is a fear that comes with risking what you have, and there’s also a fear of risking what could be.   You just have to decide which is the greater risk.

Just please keep in mind…

No pressure. No diamond.

ENERGY

Dear Strong Woman,

Back to zero.

Juggling a lot at the moment, so much so that I almost let celebrating this pass on by. How often do we do that? Fail to give credit where credit is due because we’re just on to the next thing.

Well there’s no “credit” due here, honey! Because as of yesterday morning, this girl officially paid off all her credit card debt!

I took out a consolidated loan in November of 2016 and set myself up on a five-year track to get back to broke. AND THEN I CRUSHED IT IN HALF THE TIME. I hired a life coach who held me accountable to a project I designed to get me out of debt. Nothing went to plan – really, when does it? – and yet I STILL got there. While paying for a coach. And quitting my job. And traveling more in one year than I’d done in the five prior.

My biggest takeaway is this: money is nothing more than an exchange of energy. The more “energy” I put towards improving my life, the more energy compounded in my favor.

PLEASE CONSIDER THIS the next time you don’t want to spend the money on your own growth because it’s “too expensive.”

Compared to what?
Your dream life?
Your worth?

Stop seeking discounts when you are nothing short of priceless. Whatever it is, you CAN afford it.

Trust me.

DRAMA QUEEN

Dear Strong Woman,

You teach others how to treat you.

Overwhelming gratitude for some new friendships in my life.  I’m in awe of the depths to which we’ve gone in a few short months, and am currently ruminating in this glorious feeling of being seen, heard, and welcomed as ME and all that comes with that.  The mess. The dreams. The dog photos. All of it.

This. More this.

I’m also very aware of my role here.  Connection is a two-way street, and I’ve realized how often I’ve claimed this while choosing to do so solely from the passenger’s seat. Always one to listen, to ask for more details, to provide support, but not one to share as much about myself.  (I do so a little more in this space, and yet even that is sometimes strategically censored or purposefully vague.  I’m working on that.)

Funny, the “good” friend that I am, I’ve also been one to occasionally judge others for putting their issues on loud speaker, interpreting it as attention-seeking behavior. “Drama queen…” that voice in my head snarls out.

Continuing in this passenger-seat friendship pattern, pouring into others, eventually left me bitter.  Resentful. “What am I getting out of this? I shouldn’t have to ask my friends to be interested in me.”  I’d let these feelings eat at me, and then I’d let the friendships die because continuing them felt disingenuous.  Fake. Texts to get together set me off into a rage-filled deluge of “they” and “shoulds” and frustration.

Audience or not, now who was being the drama queen?

It’s taken some intense self-reflection and been a hard pill to swallow, but when the pointy-finger-of-blame comes out, I’m recognizing it as a sign that I’m not taking responsibility for what’s happening. If I have a need, it isn’t up to others to take the wheel in filling that need.  I drive that, and I ask others to come along for the ride.

“But I need to feel safe to really open up to people! I need to trust them!”  I hear you.  I’ve felt this, too.  In fact, I’ve gone as far to say, in a rhetorical fashion, “Well whose fault is it that I don’t feel like I can truly be myself around them!?”

The answer? Mine, my friends.  Mine mine mine.

I was so certain that trust and safety needed to exist before I could open up to people.  Now, I’m witnessing first hand how opening up to people creates that trust and safety. The environment no longer dictates how I choose to be. My being now dictates what I do, and therefore, what I end up having in my life…like these friendships. I view them all as a precious gift, and then have to remind myself that they’re a gift I’ve given myself by operating at cause with them rather than at effect.

If you aren’t happy with the current state of your friendships, I encourage you, Strong Woman, to own the truth of what you have (and haven’t) done to make that so, and then be the source of a different result.

Anxious to own it?  Afraid of the outcome? Pissed off that I would even suggest you’ve played a part in creating your relationship reality?  

That uncomfortable feeling is your comfort zone expanding.  Lean in.

HAPPINESS

Dear Strong Woman,

Happiness is the highest level of success.

I have been learning that there is a very fine line where doing things in the name of self-care can actually negate self-care. I’ve also been learning that, as much as I go through seasons with my own health journey, the self-care necessary around that changes, too.

I am in a season change.

The freedom that came with the structure of following a program was starting to feel…suffocating. I started procrastinating on workouts, only to only do half of it when I finally pushed play. I wasn’t feeling it. I hadn’t been for a while. Things felt…off. I needed…space.

This close to the end of a program and I can’t push it through to the end? I lead a group of women in practicing self-care daily and I can’t do it for myself?

False. I still am.

Self-care comes in many forms, and the forms of self-care we need changes as our needs change. My needs changed…and that‘s okay.

I gave myself grace and did what I needed to do to feel like myself again. Isn’t THAT the point of self-care anyway? To re-calibrate you? To help you be your best self? My form of self-care had become a to-do list that I did out of a sense of duty rather than desire. That’s one of those things people hate in relationships, right? When someone does something for you because they feel like they have to, not because they want to?

Funny, it feels the same way in the relationship you have with yourself.

My form of self-care was no longer feeling like self-care, so I had to adjust.

I’m still working out, but maybe not everyday.

I’m still eating right, but maybe not all day.

But I’m writing more. I’m reading books outside of the realm of self-help and business development. (The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is riveting, by the way.) I’m more present in the moment rather than worrying about checking off everything on my list.

I’m more relaxed.

I’m more…me.

You might think I’m lazy. You might think that this whole “be gentle with yourself…honor the space you’re in” stuff is just a pretty way to disguise my excuses. Hey, you might even be right!

But focusing on what is right or wrong doesn’t always translate to what makes you happy.

And I deserve happy.

Don’t you?