As Others See Us

“Reality is negotiable.”
Tim Ferriss

As a helping professional, I’ve had the privilege of working with many people working through a variety of issues and creating a life that works for them.  One thing I’ve often felt myself thinking is, “I wish they could see themselves as I do.”  As a helping professional, with a more objective perspective, I often see the best in my clients.  I see their strengths, I see what they’ve overcome, I see the beauty in their goals and dreams and visions.  I get to the play the part of coaching them to that next goal or guidepost.

So, for you today – I’d like to ask you to consider … how might others see you in a more positive light than you see yourself?  How do others compliment you and offer support and admiration with a personality quality you possess or a skill you utilize on a regular basis that you might take for granted, but that doesn’t come so easily to others?

The truth is – we are unique and have individual qualities and experiences that make us who we are.  Take some time today to consider areas you may be too self-critical or not appreciating your personal victories or strengths.  Please share if anything is resonating …

Keep on keepin on, ya’ll … it’s a journey worth taking. 🙂


What is it?

“The source of authentic power to bring forth your best life, express the fullness of your creativity, and have the biggest impact in the world is within you—just waiting to be awakened and unleashed.”

–          Katherine Woodward Thomas & Claire Zammit, founders of Feminine Power

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about “feminine power.”  Though I love the term, I’m still a little unclear about what it means.  I do a lot of domestic violence work and therefore, I am constantly aware of the push-pull that exists in society regarding male and female norms, socialization, role expectations, relationship and family dynamics, etc.

I think sometimes we prefer speaking in gender neutral terms to ensure “equality.”  I can certainly appreciate that.  But, ignoring the differences between the two seems to still diminish their significance.  There is a difference and I like acknowledging it.  Perhaps the emphasis should not be placed on how alike the two are, but on how the two are equally valued, though they are different.

I am currently reading a book called “Coercive Control: How Men Entrap Women in Personal Lives.”  I’ve just started the book, but already Evan Stark makes a wonderful point.  The women’s movement has made tremendous socio-political strides and we are very grateful.  But, perhaps up until this point it is due to learning to “fit” within the context of masculinity.

We are now considered (on certain levels) “equals” to men … but I believe the “equality” is measured with the stick of the masculine standard.  It is good for a woman in her career to show less emotion, more logic and perhaps even a certain measure of aggression to “climb the ladder.”  It shows that she makes a “good man” despite … being a woman.  LOL  All of this was a start, and maybe necessary to get to where we are now … but there’s still more to be done … and I’m wondering if it is part of the key to helping reduce the abuse women face in their intimate relationships …

I believe we have our own standards, and our own definition of “power”.  But, what is that, though – exactly?  What is feminine power?  I’m curious …

Any thoughts out there?


No Compromise

“Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.”
—Janis Joplin

Sooo, I’ve decided to dip my big toe back into the dating pool.  And, what that means, is back into the online dating pool.  I rarely meet men otherwise.  Though it has been a year since I’ve ventured out into this wild space, I’ve realized not much has changed.  Sometimes there is a comfort to the things that prove constant in our lives. =)

For example, the basic types of guys are still present within this dating pond.  They are a constant.  I feel I’m like taking roll call …

Controlling guy?

(You know, the one who wants to know your every move after one date? Or even BEFORE?)

“Present.”  Check.

Commitment Phobic guy?

(You know, the one who wants to know everything there is to know about you before he commits to even … MEETING face to face?  And then STILL drags his feet?)

“Well, I’m kinda here.  Why do you want to know?” Check.

Much Younger guy?

(You know, the one who just talks about how “hot” you are and asks about how “affectionate” you tend to be?)

“Yo. What up?” Check.

Sheesh.  Now I remember why I take such long breaks in-between dating.

Prince Charming guy?

Silence.

(sigh) … maybe one day he will show up?

Of course he will! Right after he and Cinderella get a divorce. 😉

I’m teasin … Until then, I’ll remain hopeful and flex my magnetism.  I know one day I’ll draw him to me.  But, meanwhile, compromising … is not an option!  Right?!?


Wonderful Me Time

“Look for the woman in the dress. If there is no woman, there is no dress.” Coco Chanel

One of my great soap boxes is self-care.  It is critical that I make time for me since I need time to center and ground myself on a regular basis.  Otherwise, I feel so topsy turvy and that I am swayed by every breeze.

I’ve recently started going back to the gym.  It feels good to be doing something very consistent and concrete to take care of myself.  I’ve never been highly athletic, so I still find it a bit amusing that I “work out.”  However, I decided long ago that in order to maintain a healthy weight and manage my tendency to self-medicate with the likes of things like nutella and chewy chips ahoy cookies, I needed to maintain a work-out ritual.  For the most part, I do like it.  It just tends to get boring when I’m on the elliptical day in and day out and doing the same round of weight machines.

Sooo, I’ve jazzed things up with an mp3 player.  My sister loaded it with songs for me since I’m not so tech savvy.  I also take my little blue index cards with me that have affirmations, powerful quotes and my goals written out.  I listen to the beats of “Eye of the Tiger” and try to hold the idea in my minds eye of filling my next workshop to the brim with my most ideal audience at the same time.

In short, I do believe I am making my gym time some wonderful self-care “me time.”

And, by doing both – I believe the woman in the “dress” will be both 100% present and looking ravishing because she has taken time to reconnect with her sassy self, and has made her emotional and physical health a priority.  Coco Chanel would be so proud!


The cause.

“Abused women aren’t codependent.  It is abusers, not their partners, who create abusive relationships.”  – Lundy Bancroft, author of books “Why Does He Do That?’, “When Dad Hurts Mom” and “The Batterer as Parent”

This is one example of the plain spoken, powerful statements Lundy Bancroft uses in his work on addressing the realities of domestic violence and its effects on women, their children and our society at large.  I follow his work because I find it on-target with the experiences of abused women and the nightmarish life they live trying to hold a family together and protect their children.  His writing and presentations are profound because he has worked with batterers for decades and possesses a sensitivity to women and their experiences that is vital to the cause.  And, lastly – I hate to admit it, but the mere fact that he is a man enables him to be heard in a way that most women stating the same conclusions would not be.

Regardless, I am incredibly grateful for the work of Lundy Bancroft and other experts in the field of domestic violence.  I facilitate a support for single mothers who are also survivors of domestic violence.  There are women in my group from all walks of life and they each bring their own particular story.  Some women experienced greater physical harm.  Others were taunted and tortured through the abuse of their children.  Still others lived with verbal threats and details of their imminent death and the deaths of their children if they ever left.  Now that these women are divorced and successfully “out” of the relationship, they are far from “out” of the abuse.

The reality is that though mothers tremendously love their children, they are often the very tool through which they experience the greatest forms of their abusers cruelty.  Ex-husbands who are abusers continue to wreak havoc and chaos in the lives of many of the women in my group and their symptoms of ptsd continue to manifest.  It is the experiences of these women that come to mind when other well meaning, though somewhat ignorant people say, “Well, why don’t women just leave these abusive guys?”  Because they want to love and protect their children is one of the many, complicated answers.

I recognize the massive progress we’ve made for women over the past century.  However, we have so much farther to go.  I am on a mission to empower women and help them experience growth and gain in their lives.  I am still pondering how I may contribute to the cause of reducing the effects and trauma of domestic violence in my circle of the world.  I’m considering phd work.  We shall see.

In the meantime, I am incredibly encouraged by the work of others like Lundy Bancroft.  I had the pleasure of meeting him this week and having brief conversations.  In fact, there are many who are committed to this cause and it is my hope that one day, women and children will truly be free from the tyranny of their abuser.


Gettysburg Lessons

“The power of noble deeds is to be preserved and passed on to the future.” – Joshua Chamberlain, Brigadier General, American Civil War

The kids and I just returned from a trip with our family to Gettysburg.  My father is a huge Civil War buff and he walked the battlegrounds with us and told stories, gave little known facts, and emphasized the importance of knowing our history to the children.  My father, himself, is a war veteran.  He served in Vietnam.  So, when he spoke about the cost of war, we all listened closely.

Our time there caused me to ponder the notions of war, patriotism, courage, sacrifice, duty, truth, justice and one’s ideas of right and wrong.  I heard countless stories of men who showed tremendous compassion to one another across enemy lines, despite being engaged in the brutality of war.  Even within the context of one of the most grotesque experiences of humanity – there were still traces of compassion.  I was deeply moved by the complexities of the human heart and spirit.

We have ancestors who fought in the Civil War.  My great, great grandfather was the only survivor in his family.  Ours was an example of brother against brother.   He fought on the Confederate side and his 4 older brothers all perished on the Union side.  It is said that he held one of his dying brothers in his arms at the battle of Antietam.

For my children this trip was about education.  It was about teaching them where they have come from as Americans, and as descendants in our family.  It was about teaching them how far some men will go for what they believe in – even to their death.  It was about teaching them the horrors of war and its cost.  It was about teaching them that all people have value.  It was about teaching them the importance of preserving one’s heritage (both familial and country).  It was about teaching them about family.

My son is proudly wearing his “Pickett’s Charge” tshirt to school this morning and bursting to share all he’s learned with his classmates.  My daughter enjoyed her time seeing family and being together with those she loves as she experienced something new.  As for me, I am profoundly impacted by the lessons I learned and on many levels, changed by them.

I believe that is as it should be.


Seasons

Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.  ~Charles R. Swindoll, The Strong Family

“Why are you crying, Mama?”

I laughed a light laugh and wiped the streaming tears from my cheeks.  “You know this book always makes me cry.”   My daughter was reading the book, “Love You Forever” right before bed last night.  It’s a favorite book of ours, but I can never read it without crying, so my daughter thought it would be better if she would read it out loud instead.

It was not.  I still cried.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the book, it’s about the intense love between a mother and her children.  And, how in this mother’s later years, the adult son cares for the mother with the same tenderness that she cared for him through out his life – and, then continues to pass on the legacy of tender care to his own children.  It’s an incredibly touching book.

It makes me think about the different seasons in our lives.  Right now, my children are school age.  We are busy with homework, sports, friends, SpongeBob and preparing for puberty.  But, it wasn’t so long ago that we were busy with learning to walk, potty training and teaching that biting others was not appropriate.  And, I know it won’t be long before we will be preparing for college and moving them out of my home.

It all goes so fast.

I’m often so focused on the future and getting to the next thing that I have to literally stop and remind myself to be in the moment … particularly with my children.  They are only little people for a season.  They are my beautiful little treasures, and only with me for a little while.

This book reminds me to stop and enjoy the moment.  Enjoy the season.

After she finished the story, my daughter asked me again why I cry when I read the book.  “It reminds me how much we love our children, all of our lives and how time passes so quickly.  And, how important family is.”

She seemed satisfied with my answer that time and closed the book.  She gave me a kiss on my cheek, a big hug and said, “I love you, Mama.”

(sigh)

These are surely the moments I will remember the most, and I want to be in the habit of being “present” and soaking it all up with gratitude.



Following the joy

It’s a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy.  ~Lucille Ball

This is such an exciting time for me.  In just 4 months I’ve launched a business, a website, began doing presentations, and taken on my first two clients.  Also, one of my business collaborators has traveled to the Central Kentucky area from France to help me with my launch of career workshops for women that she has developed called Esprit Seminars (you can check it out here!).  And, I share all of this to let you know that if I can make these kinds of changes to go for my dreams  – so can YOU!

But … back to my point … in addition to the insecurities and fears that crop up whenever we are trying something new (so lovely 😉 …) – there has been something else I’ve become extremely aware of on this journey of going for my dreams …

… it brings me incredible JOY!

After every presentation I walk around looking like a clown – with a huge smile plastered across my face, I just can’t STOP SMILING!  I am speaking to everyone I meet on the street, in restaurants, at the bank – making a connection and just sharing my happiness.

I realize that I feel so FULL, that my cup runneth over.  I want to give and pour out this incredible joy and happiness that I experience when I am actively doing what I love – inspiring others to live their best, most authentic life.  As women approach me after my presentations about how motivated they feel to make personal changes in their lives, or how they have had new questions emerge that they want to explore … my heart soars.  Like a daggone eagle – it soars.

“This is it.  This is what I was created to do,” I think to myself.  And, my heart is full of such gratitude to have found it.  To have finally found it.

Serving and supporting others on their journey to creating and living a deeply meaningful and authentic life gives me joy.

It is true for every one of us.  Following the joy is the key to finding our purpose.  I think it’s so beautiful that as human beings, once we find our way to make our best contribution to the world – two things happen: 1.  It makes the world a better place, 2.  It fills us with unspeakable joy.

Sooooo  – what kinds of things tend to lift your heart during your day to day living?  What makes you feel as though your cup runneth over?

Whatever it is, it is a piece of and a clue to – your joy.  Follow it – see where it takes you!

(then report back!  Dis-missed! ;))


Not raising grass

“My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard.  Mother would come out and say, ‘You’re tearing up the grass!’ ; ‘We’re not raising grass,’ Dad would reply, ‘We’re raising boys.'”

– Harmon Killebrew (American Baseball Player)

Isn’t that the truth??

I think it’s easy in our busy single mom worlds to lose sight of the fact that we are raising and shaping and molding little hearts and minds.  Life can be so distracting from our greatest priorities.

I often feel there’s so much MORE I want to accomplish.

(sigh)

Like the dishes.  They are rarely washed every night.

Like the laundry.  I catch up once a week on Sunday, but there are days the kids run out of clean socks.

Like the car.  All too often are my children catching a plastic bag or an empty water bottle that’s fallen out of the car, when they open the door.  Yeah, kinda embarrassing.  But true.

Like the living room, my office, the bathrooms … oooh, you get the picture.

But, I take great comfort in knowing that my priority is family time.  We have lots of time for snuggles, giggles, listening to each others long and rambling stories, and piling up for story or movie time.

One evening this week, my daughter was on the field for soccer practice.  My son and I sat on a blanket in the grass to watch. The sun was shining, the breeze was breezing and it felt like a perfect day to be outside together.   He rummaged through the leftover picnic food – eating and eating and eating.  And eating.  He’s been doing that a lot lately.  He’s 11 yrs old and a bottomless pit these days.  I couldn’t stop laughing a few times.  I realized, once again, how much his sense of humor delights me. We cheered for my moxie girl with every right move and strong kick she made.  Her brother puffs out his chest with pride whenever she executes a skill with perfection because he feels he’s taught her everything she knows. 😉

After she was finished, we reveled in her progress and carried our picnic stuff back to the car.  The kids opened the car door.

A water bottle fell out.  My daughter picked it up.

We arrived home and hurried through baths and bedtime routines.  I went to pick out my son’s outfit for the next day … no socks in his drawer.

Drat!  I hadn’t gotten to the white load this past weekend.

I returned downstairs to finish working on overdue research papers and more marketing efforts for my business.  I worked until delirium set in and then climbed into bed myself.

“It was a good time with the kids today,” I thought while lying there.  My heart felt full and satisfied.

And yet, there were still some dirty dishes in the sink. =)

The moral of this story is: I’m so happy I’m not raising laundry or dishes, clean cars, … or grass.  But, I am raising a moxie girl and a little man.


Drama, drama, drama

By all means use sometimes to be alone.  Salute thyself; see what thy soul doth wear.

~George Herbert

This week was a tough week.  The semester is coming to an end, and whenever that happens there is tons to do – research papers, reading reports and final exams.  On top of that, I’ve been launching my first workshop for my business, so I’ve been out and about more than usual.  I’ve also been on the phone and on my laptop more than usual when I am at home.  I knew I was busy and feeling a little stressed.

About midweek my little man had a meltdown because I didn’t do something I told him I would do.  I tried to explain that it was an honest oversight and I simply had run out of time.  With tears streaming down his face, he grumbled that I’ve been saying that a lot lately.  After a few more dramatic exchanges, we made peace and he went to bed.

The next day my moxie girl had a rough day and seemed extremely agitated.  We struggled through the day together – because I simply had too much to do!  The next evening while driving home from childcare, she told me I haven’t been listening to them and I’m always on my laptop doing my work.

My heart sunk.  🙁

“I guess I have, huh?”

“Yep.”  She says and looks out the window.

The next day I had planned to spend the day working on one of my papers all day since I didn’t have to work my part time job or have any classes.  But, instead … I gave myself some much needed self-care.  I knew I needed to find my center – so I could give to my children and focus on them.  I journaled, I took a warm bubble bath, I spent quiet time alone and meditated and prayed.  I had to check in, regroup and re-prioritize.

Being an available parent is one of my main definitions of personal success.  Whenever my kids start to feel like I am not “available” to them in any way – it’s time to put on the brakes and re-examine my life.  Period.

My research paper will be late.  I’m okay with that.  My marketing strategies will not be addressed this weekend.  I’m okay with that.

But, after I picked the kids up that afternoon – I had quality snuggle time with my moxie girl and we played cards (one of our favorite past times together!).  My little man and I had some great conversations (he’s quite the budding philosopher!).  We piled in my bed that night and I read stories from “The Book of Virtues” and we discussed the moral lessons in each.  And, then we all drifted off to sleep, feeling connected and centered.

(sigh) … better. 😉


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