SPEAK YOUR TRUTH

Dear Strong Woman,

When people ask you how you are doing, do you answer honestly or comfortably?

I’ll come clean: I’ve been telling half-truths, tip-toeing on the edge of my comfort zone for fear of sounding braggy or being labeled as inconsiderate.

The truth? Things are GOOD.

They’re so good I have been reluctant to say so because I know we are not all in the same boat, pandemic or not. But bringing attention to what’s happening with me feels…selfish.

And that’s because it is!…which is the point of this share. Creating the space to celebrate that I made some uncomfortable moves, some unreasonable declarations for my life, and am blooming in spite of the circumstances in front of us. Toot toot!

So here are my recent wins:
• I’m getting 8 hours of sleep on average for the first time in decades.
• Creating home-cooked meals on the regular has been cathartic. It is now and will continue to be my new normal.
• My business has doubled.
 • My pups are getting the love and attention I always wished I could give them, especially considering my recent hospital scare with Juno.
• I’ve done all of this the last six weeks while sharing my little studio apt with my new beau, and we have been belly laughing on the regular.

I created this.

I created this and skipping the celebration of it would take away the opportunity to be in awe of what became possible when I took responsibility for my life. That is some awesome power to get present to!

If you’re holding back from saying what’s true for you – good or bad! – notice how uncomfortable you’re choosing to remain in order to prevent someone else’s discomfort. Remember, sis – you are not required to shrink yourself down in order to put those around you at ease.

Speak your truth.

CLOSED

Dear Strong Woman,

This office is CLOSED.

I’ve had to get super intentional with setting boundaries lately. I’ve been dissecting some feelings around overwhelm and realize that this stems from what I allow to happen.

So I’m taking back my power.

The old story tells me I can’t achieve my goals and also be well-rested. The old story tells me there must be sacrifice.  As someone who tends to listen for what others need so as to feel valued and important by providing it, it’s automatic that the sacrifice comes in the form of self.  So when I see a blank space on my calendar I take that to mean I’m available to assist others.  Though am I really?

Case in point: writing this post in this very moment.  This writing session was something I planned to do because I saw a blank space on my calendar.  However, this blank space is coming after just completing an intense two days of training that stretched my mind, heart, and soul. Yes, I currently have the time to write, but do I have the mental capacity to create? Am I of any service to anyone right now if I’m having trouble thinking straight?

(rhetorical)

I let go of the thing I wanted to write about for you and went back into “the vault” in search of something I created in the past that might resonate.  I did this with you in mind (oh hey, old patterns), and then found this whole bit around knowing when to log off and power down. I read it and it hit me like a love note from myself to myself.  Funny how that happens!

So this whole post is actually a reminder from a former me – with a few added words from present me – encouraging you (okay, AND me) to declare a quitting time in service of creating space for yourself.   

Regardless of what isn’t finished, and regardless of what you said would get done – IT WILL BE OKAY. So far, the world hasn’t come to an end (like I always thought it would).

Givers need to set limits, because takers rarely do, and takers do this because you’ve taught them that it’s okay!

Your time and energy are sacred, friends.  Log off. Lights out. Rest up.

SEEN

Dear Strong Woman,

Leave it to Brené.

No, I have not yet watched her Netflix special, though everyone who has watched it has been posting those classic mic-drop quotes of Brené Brown’s left and right, and to that I am grateful. I’ve been working on this particular post for a few days and was having trouble with the “What for?” component. As in…what is the point I am trying to make with this spotlight on my messy parts?

The irony of this quote of hers doesn’t go unnoticed.

 

The irony of this quote of hers doesn’t go unnoticed.

So let’s get to it – the lesson that brought me to this beautiful breakthrough.
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I can preach about the importance of self-care until I’m blue in the face, and still put others needs before my own.

You could call me a hypocrite.
You could say I’m human.
I prefer to think I’m just a work in progress.

(Aren’t we all?)

What I didn’t realize was how deeply engrained my belief that “my needs aren’t important” really is, to the point where I subconsciously do things to reinforce it.

It’s fascinating and scary how the mind works.

For example: I tend to resent people who lack self-awareness. From this snap-judgement, my “formula” tells me such people won’t ever have the emotional capacity to be in-tune with my needs, and will likely hurt me. This resides within another formula that tells me if people loved me, they surely would never hurt me, so when they do, my fear that I am unloveable gets fed Thanksgiving style.

That “won’t ever” component…? That comes from the experience of me telling a family member how they’ve hurt my feelings, and being met – again and again – with defensiveness and the accusation that my feelings were wrong.

I learned over time to stop voicing what’s really going on with me, as it was easier to do that than experience that pain repeatedly. Only recently did I realize how this way of protecting myself is connected to my judgement of others that comes about when they share what’s going on with them. What’s more is that…the unloveable fear I mentioned? I counter that by listening for what people need help with, so I can help them, and therefore feel valued. Important.

In a way…loved.

So I’m the girl who doesn’t share her needs, asks others what they need so I can come to their rescue, and then inevitably labels them as needy.

WHAT IN THE WORLD?!

The good news? I’m aware of this cycle now. The bad news? Untangling this twisted formula of 25+ years isn’t going to happen overnight. Le sigh.

That’s why, albeit after major resistance, I enlisted the support of some reinforcements. I *gulp* asked for what I needed: to have conversations with other in which I only talked about what was going on with me.

That’s when the magic happened.

One friend let me vent about some deflated feelings around a project I’m working on. She heard me, validated how I was feeling, and helped me brainstorm some ways to put the wind back in my sails. By the end of our conversation, I was energized and excited to get back to work – night and day from how I felt when I first got on the phone. She also shared some things she was working on for a similar project, and we decided to check-in with each other later in the week to ensure we remained committed to doing the things we said we would do.

When we reconnected, she told me how sharing what I needed in that moment gave her the momentum to do what she needed. The initial exchange energized me. I hadn’t realized it had energized us both.

Giving to others always allowed me to feel valued. What a beautiful realization to know that receiving from others can have the same effect.

When I consider self-care, so often I think of the obvious that’s marketed to us: getting adequate rest, fueling my body with healthy food, working my body with a solid workout, taking time to be still.

All the things to fill my cup.

But what if it’s already full with…poison?
Overwhelm.
Negative thoughts.
Stories from past experiences.
Old wounds.

How can all the other stuff do it’s magic if we never let the toxins out?

Yeah, a solid sweat session helps.
So does journaling.

And yet, I’m realizing none of these quite compare to being seen by another human. To allowing it. To seeking it out.

Brené is right: We don’t have to do it all alone. We were never meant to.

It’s in this way I’ll overcome my fear of being unloveable, because being loved means allowing yourself to be seen.

GRACE

Dear Strong Woman,

Hold yourself to a standard of grace, not perfection.

I have fallen a bit off of my nutrition plan the last few days. Can’t say I’ve gone overboard – as the plan I’m referring to has me eating seven times a day – but I can’t say I was trying really hard to stick to it, either. Not on purpose of course, but more so that I gave myself permission to take a step back because… I wasn’t feeling like myself.

And that’s no bueño.

foodandfido

Sometimes we just need a little breathing room, and that’s okay. Perfection is just a fancy name for fear, so can we just take the pressure off already? Accept that mistakes ARE going to happen. In health, in finance, in relationships…in everything.

But let those moments be teachers, not attackers; lessons, not losses; temporary but necessary detours, never mere dead ends.

And if we’re being honest, someone who never makes mistakes usually never makes anything, right?

(Right.)

Keep going.

Keep growing.

You’ve got this.