What It Means To Be In Community

There was a long time in my life where I didn’t belong.  I thought there wasn’t a place for me.  After way too much heart ache and inability to allow myself to be a part of community I finally recognized that through my inability to allow others to support me I was limiting my ability to be a part of something bigger than myself.  It was an interesting dichotomy of not allowing myself to be supported and wanting desperately to be supported.   After years of working on my self-worth and ability to be vulnerable I found myself surrounded by people that were willing to support me (emotionally/spiritually) as long as I was willing to let them: community.

Through my process I have found what it means to be supported by community and what it means to support community.  These things are equal in my belief of community.  I need to put in as much as I get out, support as much as I am supported and love as much as I am loved.  Truth be told I will only get out as much as I put in.

In the communities I am in (this includes casual friendships, family, charities, spiritual/religious organizations or non-profit groups) I know that the more I give the more I receive and when I allow the web of community to catch me I am also building it up.  I practice forgiveness and acceptance to keep the web strong.  I allow other members to be whom and where they are.  I have learned to not keep score of perceived harms, or anything other people may do that I don’t agree with.  For me, it is useful to not take things personally and if there is a perceived judgement or harm I openly ask if that was the intention before assuming it was so that we can both gain clarity. With all of this I find the ability to let others be themselves and I can be myself.

There have been times in groups where I have seen individuals so concerned about what other people are doing they bring judgement and fear to the group and therefore break down the web. I think there are times when we all do that.  I know this is easy to do and I have seen this break down communities.  To me being in community means that I bring my full self to the group and come from a place of service and love and I receive the same in return.  I accept the fullness of others and embrace what they bring to the table and I know that it is in their fullness and my fullness that the web is complete.

Namaste

How the ocean tames my fire.

I live in an ocean community. Over the years I have considered moving to a different region where many of the people that I love live.  But…there is no ocean there.  I have grown up with and some of my fondest memories include the ocean: the sand, the smells, its power and playfulness.  Despite my desire to be closer to my community I know that my spirit needs the ocean to stay balanced.  The ocean tames my fire and I don’t know where I would be without it.

So often, my metaphors and lessons come from the ocean because it is home.

When I need to let go of something, the ocean is there to receive.  Sometimes it is as simple as writing a word in the sand and watching the waves wash it away.  Other times I give myself over to the ocean and float on the waves as they wash and crash over me.  Letting go to the power of the ocean liberates me from having any control over what is happening.  I release my body and mind as the waves pull me and pull away anything that I no longer want to carry.  The waves also remind me there is a power greater than me and when I let go and surrender it is then that I can dance with the power of the universe.

Frequently the dance is playful, where I am jumping over the waves, letting the waves jump over me or body surfing my way back to shore.  I can dive into the depths and find hidden creatures, snails, crabs and fish.  I love letting go of adulthood to frolic in this sacred playground.  Discovering joy in this place gives me the opportunity to be present to what is there in front of me only.  There is nothing else there; except sometimes a few hundred other people doing something similar.

Some of my favorite times are when the ocean is still.  This doesn’t happen too often but when it does it is a gift.  Submersing myself in the water, letting it surround me and being fully connected to it, I find I am connected to everything.  We are all mostly water; we all need water to survive; our food grows from water; the sun evaporates the water into the air to then have it rain down and wash the earth.  There is a cycle here and a connection to our wellbeing.  There is a connection here from me to you to our ancestors to our future.  There is a connection here to me, a place where I find balance and calm a center within myself.

There is so much the ocean heals for me.  There is so much wisdom I gain there.  This makes me wonder: where do you feel at home? Where do you find your wisdom? Where do you feel connected?  I would love to know.

Giving yourself permission to shine!

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Marianne Williamson

There is so much that can hold us back from being our full shining selves.  There are messages from society or our families of origin that tell us we are “too much” or we need to “tone it down”.  There are internal stories about whether or not there is room for us to be our big selves.  We take on all these messages and live our lives in a small box with little room to move and little room to be our authentic selves.  Being in this box we feel comfort and safety and don’t take risks that will make us seen as different or “too big for our britches”.

As Marianne Williamson says, “Who are we not to be” our “brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous” selves?  No matter what your spiritual or religious beliefs you are on this planet with a purpose.  You are not here to be small or self-limiting.  You are here to be your full expressive fulfilled self.  Some refer to being your big self as stepping into your power, following your bliss or being in the zone or flow.  However you put it at the core of it you will end up living a more fulfilled life.

Being big means different things to different people.  For some it is teaching a classroom of 5 year olds or leading a group of 200 people to become leaders themselves.  For me to be big and shine comes when I am coaching and helping people.  The common ground with living your big life includes living life passionately, intentionally and authentically.  The important thing is to give yourself the permission to be …YOU!

So how do you give yourself permission to shine bright and live big?  You need to know that you deserve it.  This will be easier for some than others, it depends on how deep your internal story goes.  You need to make the decision that living your authentic life is truly what you want.  You have to know that the confined life of the box no longer fits the fullness of you.  Know that the world needs you.  The world, your family, your friends need you to show up fully with all the passion, love and power that is within you.

Let go of the fear that holds back, take the lid off the box.  It may be uncomfortable at first.  When you step out of the box it can be uncomfortable.  You will need to use different muscles, tools and beliefs than you have given yourself permission to use in the past.  You will learn how to walk on these new legs.  Stumbling can be expected the key is to keep going.  If not now when?  Take the leap.  Your life is waiting for you!

Can you say “YES!” to your “NO”?

A lot of us have difficulty saying no.  There are so many things that can be triggered just at the thought of saying no.  What if we are rejected or judged or just not listened to?

There was a time where I was a “Yes, yes, yes” person.  You need help moving?  YES!  You need a babysitter?! Yes!  You need support… a dog watcher…time….money…the shirt off my back?  YES!  UGH!  I was so busy saying yes to everyone else that I rarely had time to say yes to myself.

I finally started changing this around when I found that all these people I was saying yes to, were not saying yes to me.  It is not for me to say whether or not these people were selfish or not willing to be there for me, it was a matter of my ability to be able to be clear with my request for their support.  I found that there were times when I was not being completely honest and clear with what I needed and then I would hold it against someone that they weren’t meeting my needs.  That was a fun learning process…NOT!

There were other times when I would ask for something and my requests weren’t heard.  Sometimes it was a matter of needing emotional support and again I found the same thing I wasn‘t being clear enough AND there were times that I was very clear and the person chose not to be there for me.  Either way, I needed to evaluate when I show up with yes and when I show up with no.

I decided that NO would be my go-to answer for everything.  I would say no or sometimes “NO, I don’t think that will work for me, but if that changes I will let you know.”  When I came from a place of no it wasn’t just a no to the other person, it was a YES to me!  I decided I would only do the things that I wanted to do, the things that filled me, brought me joy or helped me in some way.  I wanted my giving to be connected to my receiving and I would not settle for half in either direction.

I discovered that I was not saying no more than before and I realized that my yes was so much more meaningful.  When I made the decision to be in my NO, unless I was intentionally in my yes, I found so much more gratitude for all the things I was doing.  There was no more reciprocal expectations attached to what I was doing for others.

It was so important for me to learn that my NO was ok.  Just as others have the choice to do for me or not, I have the choice to do for others.  I can say no and sometimes I need to say no.  I need to choose me first.  My no is part of me and I get to use it when I want to.  I owe it to myself and others to use my no when that is what I want and it makes my yes that much more juicy and valuable.

So what if we are rejected, judged or not listened to because of our no?  I get it.  That can be a fearful, uncertain place.  This is where the choice between making yourself or others happy comes in.  In my last Blog I talked about making boundaries.  Your No is a boundary.  Your no is you letting others know where the line is.  Again, you come to the place where you need to make a decision about what compromises you are willing to make.  Personally, I think the fear we encounter when speaking our no is frequently bigger than the risk that is actually present.  So I dare you!  Use your no!  You deserve it!

What to do when boundaries aren’t respected!

Recently I wrote a blog about setting boundaries.  If you missed that one, scroll down and take a look.  Someone asked me “but what do you do if your boundaries aren’t respected?”

(Breathing Deep)  That can be difficult.  For the most part, when I am going to go through the process of making a boundary with someone it is because they are important to me and if they are that important then there is a very good probability that I respect that person.  So when I make a boundary and the person will not respect my boundary, it leaves me in a tough spot.

I know in reality that I can only control myself.  I cannot make anyone do anything that they don’t want to do or agree to.  Making a boundary is asking someone to do something for you and there is a hope or expectation that the request will be respected.  When my boundary isn’t respected I need to make boundaries with myself.  I need to ask myself some hard questions that will determine how I proceed in the relationship.

I need to decide what the boundaries I need to make with myself are.  How important is this boundary to me?   What compromises can I make without compromising my needs or myself?  What am I willing to put up with in my life?  How much does this boundary crossing affect my life?  Is my boundary asking them to take care of me or just not hurt me?

There may be times where I discover that the boundary I was trying to make was actually asking someone else to take care of me.  It is not anyone else’s job to take care of me but I can ask that they support me in taking care of myself.  In this circumstance it is helpful for me to look at what I need from them in support without making my self-care their responsibility.

If the boundary crossing turns out to not really be affecting me then maybe I choose to accept it.  If the boundary crossing is affecting me and I find that I am not willing to put up with it in my life or I find that I will be compromising myself if I continue to accept the behavior, then I need to make boundaries with myself.  There are many ways this can take shape.  I may decide that there are certain situations where I will not show up to be with that person.  For example, if my best friend continually behaves in a way that I am not comfortable with when we go out for dinner together I may decide to not go out for dinner but still see her at one of our homes or maybe we can meet for coffee.  Or, if a family member has a problem with drinking excessively I can make a boundary that I will choose not to be with them when they are drinking.

There are different ways we can make boundaries with ourselves.  The most important thing to remember is that we always have a choice.  You get to choose what behaviors you allow in your life and you get to choose what you show up for and how you show up.

This brings me to “NO!”   No can be a powerful word in making boundaries.  I think I know what my next blog is going to be about.

I Get To!

As I build my coaching business and more people hear about me I seem to be having the same conversation over and over.  I have found that I love having this conversation!  I love talking about what I can do for my clients.  I love seeing my clients have breakthroughs that transform their lives!  So I decided to dedicate this blog to just that, what I Do.

I collaborate with my clients to transform their lives!

To me this is so exciting.  I get to go on the journey with people and we dive deep, look at all the icky underbelly of behaviors, clean away the goop and swim back up to the surface and shine as bright as the sun.  WHAT COULD BE BETTER?  I get to work with amazing people so they can become all of their fabulous selves.  Really I am sitting here with a huge smile on my face because I feel so blessed to be able to do this.

Through my life I have had some struggles and I have a health issue that affects my life and there is nothing that I can do to change it.  This is my life; this is the only life I have and I GET TO live it! I look at most things from this perspective of ‘I get to.’   No matter what is going on, I know if I choose to, I can find something amazing and wonderful to get out of a situation.

One of the things I’m great at helping my clients with is transforming perspective. In my personal life, I focus on gratitude and positivity.  This focus changes my perspective and gives me the ability to help other people to see things as “my cup runneth over,” instead of limiting it to “half full” or even “half empty”.  Some of the tools I use for this are simple things like recognizing hidden gifts in difficult lessons, recognizing positive aspects in negative situations and finding the personal power to change things.

I am a strong believer in looking into the shadows, those parts of ourselves that we deny and/or hide, in order to find where our blocks and issues come from.  There are some people who only look at the positive and think it is the best way to get through things.  For me, however, I find that in order to truly overcome things in my life I need to look at the root of the problem.  It is there, at the root, from which everything else grows.  In the darkness is where I find my behaviors, attitudes and beliefs that keep me stuck.  If I only look in the light I will not find the source of my problems so I will not be able to fix them.

In my personal life, I repeatedly ask myself ‘where does that come from, and where does that come from and where does that come from….’  I follow the rabbit down the rabbit hole.  I examine the self-talk that keeps me limited and in my own way.  Through examining these messages I ask myself what these messages say about me, where they originated from and then I ask myself if they are true.  Let me tell you, there are times when I find things that are true and are not so flattering.  Then, I GET TO change behaviors.  I get to take this new information I have about myself and find out what needs to happen with it in order to get better results.  I do this work myself and because of that I get to use the same template with my clients so they can do the same thing.

Another thing I love to do with my clients is…CELEBRATE!!!!!!  I like to start coaching calls with some celebration.  I want to hear about the things that my clients want to celebrate about themselves.  I think we sometimes look at saying wonderful things about ourselves as boastful or conceited.  Personally, I don’t think it is conceited to acknowledge your strengths and achievements.  When a business takes an inventory they look at their assets and liabilities.  If we take an inventory of ourselves, why do we only look at the negative and not the positive?  When we do that we are not getting a full picture of who we are, so, YES!  Celebrate yourself!  See all the things that you are amazing at.  Acknowledge your strengths and all the ways you excel.  Remember that even when you have a small success it is a success nonetheless.  You are growing, becoming, living and as long as you wake up breathing you GET TO continue to succeed.

This is what I do.  I look on the bright side, I look at the dark side and I celebrate.  In the movie Hook, one of the characters says, “That was a great game.”  No matter what is going on, when I go to bed knowing the day “was a great game,” I go to bed happy.   I hope that through reading this you may have found some little nuggets of gold that will help you in some area of your life.  I hope you have learned a little about yourself and a little about me.

Please feel free to comment below and ask any questions or leave any remarks.

Dormats and Dictators: finding the space in between through setting healthy boundaries.

This week I have had the privilege of setting many boundaries with people: boundaries for myself, my partner and my children.  It is not always easy to set boundaries.  Sometimes we don’t know how the boundaries will be received.  Sometimes we might feel self-doubt or incapable of setting boundaries in a healthy way.  The self-questioning can be debilitating.  Will the other person be mad at us?  Will they respect our boundaries?  Are we being needy or demanding?  Am I speaking in a loving way?  Is this my stuff and I just need to get over it?  Can I just ignore it and hope it goes away?!

Making boundaries may feel uncomfortable AND I have faith that you are capable of doing it.  I believe that setting a boundary with a loved one, whether they are friend or family, is a gift to yourself and the person you are making a boundary with.  From my experience I have learned that when I feel the need to make a boundary but DON’T, I begin to get resentful and I continually get let down and/or hurt.  This can lead to rifts in relationships that I actually care about which can add another level of hurt and disappointment.  When I DO make a boundary I give myself and the other person the chance to get both our needs met and take steps forward in our relationship which can lead to a deeper connection, respect and trust.

The first thing I do when embarking on the process of setting a boundary is getting clear with myself, of where I want the boundary to be.  I may ask myself: what is it that I don’t want in this relationship?  What is it that I want to make room for?  What was the specific behavior that hurt or offended me?

It is important to be clear with yourself so that you will be able to be clear with the other person exactly what it is you are asking for.  When building a house the contractor does not go into the building phase until they have a detailed and specific architectural plan.  If they try to build the structure without clear plans they will not know where the walls go, where the windows belong or where to place the doors to let things in.  Also, when you are clear it is easier to communicate your needs to others.

Next, I clarify with myself how I feel about the situation that has instigated the boundary.  Do I feel hurt?  Am I mad? What am I mad at?  Am I sad or feeling let down?  Do I feel insecure about our relationship?  I look at where I can own my feelings.  How is my emotional reaction rooted in past experiences that have nothing to do with this situation?  Do I frequently react this way?  Is it more about me or the other person?  There may be times when you need to set a boundary that is centered in your own issues.

e.g.  I know you are in a new relationship that you are really excited about and I am happy for you but I am really heart broken right now since Joe and broke up 2 days ago.  Can you please not come to me with that stuff right now?  I want to celebrate that with you and I will let you know when I am ready.

In this example it is not that someone else did something wrong it is about where I am at that time.

I proceed to planning out what I want to say, how I want to say it and how I can say it in a way that will not cause more harm than healing.  I use “I” statements (I feel hurt by this and I need you to talk to me in a more respectful way.  Are you open to hearing me when I bring this to your attention?).  I own my part.  I stay away from shaming and blaming.

Then I have the conversation.  I state my boundaries clearly and firmly.  I like to think about a warrior drawing a line in the sand with a sword.  I am not a crazy sword wielding maniac whipping a sword around and harming people.  I am calm making the line, the barrier, the boundary.  I may also leave myself room to explain to the person that I am making the boundary because I love this person.

Lastly, I stay open to a dialogue with the person where I can hear where they were coming from or their feedback about the boundary.  The other person might not be able to accept the boundary, so I may need to renegotiate to something that will be acceptable to both of us.  It is possible to compromise a boundary without compromising yourself.  There is the possibility that the person may be acting out in a way that you don’t like in response to something that you are doing.  If you attempt to make a boundary and the person has excuses or says they are responding that particular way because of something you are doing the opportunity for both of you to make a boundary becomes available.  The compromise may mean that there is a particular thing that you can’t do with that person or there is a way where your interactions may need to be limited or maybe a boundary needs to be set up on both sides.  It could look like this.

“You’re right. I do act that way when we hang out in big groups.  In the future can we have a word or signal we can give each other so we can both be aware when we are crossing each other’s boundaries?”

This gives both people the ability to get their needs met and boundaries respected so the relationship can continue without shaming/blaming the person or ending the relationship.

As with most things, when we are honest and coming from a place of love, chances are we are going to come out in a better place than where we went in.

Get Out of My Way! 5 Steps to Removing Obstacles in Your Life

Have you ever wanted to say that…to yourself?  Most of us can get in our own way sometimes.  We come up with a plan, we know what we want to do and then we get stuck!  We get in our own way.  Despite our best intentions we get diverted.  We find ourselves unable to complete the simplest of tasks because we are more comfortable staying in what we know instead of taking the leap into the unknown.

Sometimes it is a distraction that gets in the way, “Oh, I want to watch this show”. Maybe it is a phone call we want to make instead.  There are countless ways we can get distracted from following through with our true intentions.  Sometimes the distraction can even be nothing.  Simple stillness can be more comfortable than the uncomfortableness of what might come next.

Also, we can get in our way with faulty thought processes.  An ingrained belief that we don’t deserve the achievement we want or that we are incapable of achieving it.  The distractions are a symptom of the faulty thought process.  BUT, HOW DO WE GET OVER THEM!

There is an easy way to do this.  “If it is so easy then why do so many people get so stuck?”  It’s simple; we just don’t know there is another way.

I have a simple tool you can use to overcome yourself.

First, when you have a goal or plan you want to achieve, write it out.  Make a detailed list of the steps it will take to achieve your goal.  This list is the map of the road you will take to get there.  Don’t think about the “what ifs” or doubts, just make the list.

Step 1 – I want to write my first blog.

  1. Brainstorm ideas for topics
  2. Pick a topic
  3. Write the blog
  4. Figure out how to publish it.

Second, begin the process of working toward your goal/plan: now listen to your internal dialogue.  This is where you might start getting in your way, where feelings and thoughts about your ability come into play.  Frequently, these thoughts and feelings will have a negative message for you, about you.  What are these messages?  What are they saying about you?  Do they tell you that you are not good enough?  You will not be successful.  You can’t do it.  Write down the messages, thoughts and feelings.

Step 2 list of negative messages – (I sat down to brainstorm and…)

  1. I can’t do this.
  2. No one will read it.
  3. I don’t know how to publish it.
  4. Why bother.

Third, take a look at each of the things you wrote down in the second step and ask yourself “is this true?”  Chances are it is not true.  We all have doubt at different times and it is usually based on a fear of being as great as we really are.  These doubts and fears are not based in reality.  For each of these things write down the truth.  What is real in this situation? If you are having difficulty finding a truth that is different from the message, ask yourself what you would tell a friend in the same situation.

Step 3 (1-4 corresponds with 1-4 from above)

  1. Not true – I can write. I’m no Shakespeare but I have something to say.
  2. Not true – I will read it, some of my friends might read it. I will let others make the decision if they read it.
  3. True – I guess I will have to figure out how to publish it.
  4. Why bother? – Because this is something I want to do. This is my goal.  I want to share this part of me with the world.

Fourth, write an affirmation that affirms the truth.  Use only positive language.

Step 4 (again 1-4 corresponds with a-b from above)

  1. I know how to write and the words will flow and I will write my truth.
  2. This is an expression of myself. Those who read it are supposed to read it.
  3. I am capable of learning the steps it will take to achieve my goals.
  4. I am committed to myself and doing what I love.

Finally, continue on the road that you originally set out for yourself.  There may be times when you need to adjust the plan or add a few more steps.  These steps will keep you on the same road, just with a little more detail.

Step 5

I am going to write my first blog

  1. Brainstorm for topic ideas
  2. Pick my topic
  3. Write a blog.
  4. Do internet research to find out how to publish a blog.
  5. Create an account at Blogging site/web page etc. in order to create my page.
  6. Publish Blog

Yes, it may be difficult.  Yes, you may still get in your way.  Can you do it?  YES!

It is a simple concept and can come with hang ups.  The purpose is to continue to strive to achieve your goals and take the steps necessary to raise yourself up.  Know the truth.  You are a unique divine individual and you deserve to live the life you want.