Monthly Archives: July 2016

I’m learning to be okay with my cracks

The 360° feedback certification I went through a few months ago was intense. I think it opened up a few of my cracks. I have to be okay with that.

It may not have had that effect on me, but soon after the certification I found myself, once again, facing the feeling that if I wasn’t careful, I would crack open. And not in a good way. There are times when I know I’m healthy and whole and entirely functional, and there are times when it all seems too much, or I just seem not enough. I feel like I don’t have whatever it takes.

I recently read an amazing memoir, Bettyville by George Hodgman. He’s a gay man living in New York City who heads home to Paris, Missouri to care for his aging mother. Oh, and he’s a recovering alcoholic. Oh, and he’s very, very funny (and insightful). One of my favorite quotes: “I think people who have always felt okay in the world will never understand those of us who haven’t.”

Sometimes it doesn’t feel okay. Sometimes I don’t feel okay. Perhaps telling my story, and looking (even from a work point of view) at how my experiences helped shape and form me, kicked up old feelings of not okay-ness. All I know is that while I hadn’t felt like I might crack into pieces in ages, I felt it after that. It would sneak up on me when I least expected it (and least wanted it), hijacking my thoughts, feelings, and moments. Even my body.

What I’ve learned over the years? Even when I feel like I’m falling apart, I’m probably not (at least not all the way) and I probably won’t (at least not all the way). And sometimes a little falling apart is exactly what I need. I can be someone who is way too good at keeping things together when a breather – or help, or a hug – would be a better option.

I’ve learned that I hid fears and angers (and trauma) deep in my body – and my soul – for years. And that sometimes I need to crack open a little bit to let it out. And that I need to let it out.

I heard, years ago in Al-Anon, “god doesn’t give you more than you can handle,” and “when you’re ready, you’ll face it.” I hold onto these truths when it feels like more than I can handle. I remind myself that I must be ready to crack a bit more open, to let a bit more out, and that I’m not really cracking. And that I am really okay.

And that if my cracks – my fault lines – stay with me, I am even okay with that.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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When will we stop?

I was in the gym this morning, working out and schmoozing with gym-friends. It’s great to have a little extra time on a Sunday morning, to not be in such of a rush.

Schmoozing with gym-friends, and two separate women, who happen to be my age or older and both in AMAZING shape, commented on their body or weight to me. “I’ve gained a few pounds,” said one. “I wish my stomach was flat,” said the other.

When will we stop? Women? People? When will we stop?

When will we stop beating up on ourselves? Or holding ourselves to extreme, and insane, standards?

When will we accept our bodies, and ourselves? When will we believe that however we are is fine, or at least fine enough?

I understand the mindset. I have a sense of where it comes from. As an ex- (recovering) anorexic, I know how easy it is to judge an “extra” pound on the scale, or the tightness of your pants. I know what it’s like to critique every morsel that passes across my lips…or doesn’t.

I hate that anyone is caught in this self-criticism. And when I see women (and sometimes men) whom anyone else would look at with amazement at the great shape they’re in, it hits me even more. They say that model-thin models sometimes think they’re too fat. Or are told they’re too fat.

Years ago when I had to ease myself back into eating – and enjoying – food, I used to look at a piece of Mississippi mud cake and think, “I could eat it and enjoy it and maybe gain weight, or I could not eat it and miss out and maybe get hit by a bus on the way home.” I know that’s drastic, but that’s what it took to break my warped thinking. But why, why, why are we taught, and why, why, why do we learn to berate ourselves, even when there’s nothing, and no reason, to berate?

I don’t blame these women. I don’t blame myself when my thought processes go haywire. I just see it and add it to my list of mindsets and societal standards that I want to change.

Let’s all just stop it. Let’s start a revolution of loving ourselves, of loving our bodies. Exactly as they are today.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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There but for the grace of god…

I recently was certified in a 360 instrument for my leadership and coaching practice. It’s a different instrument in that it goes deep – and touches on things that have happened in your life that helped “form you” the way you are.

During the certification you’re supposed to share a bit of your life story, and I did with a few people. The 20,000 feet version, but more than I’ve fully shared in years. I probably haven’t told anyone the full-ish chronological version of my life since I last qualified in an Al-Anon meeting. Most likely decades ago.

They cried. I cried. “You’re amazing,” they told me.

“It wasn’t that bad,” I always wanted to respond. To deflect.

This 360 instrument is designed to reveal self-defeating behaviors that limit your leadership (and life) effectiveness. And maybe the underlying beliefs and false assumptions that cause those behaviors. I wasn’t surprised when my “reactive tendencies” peaked on Pleasing and Perfect and Driven. They all come directly from the Church. And the instability and fear I felt as a child. “Besides, if people only knew how much of a recovering perfectionist I am,” I thought. “If they only knew how bad it used to be and how much better it is now.”

But Critical and Arrogance. Those I didn’t like. Even when a fellow coach suggested that my Critical nature most likely saved my life. Over and over and over again.

I wrestled with these character traits. I didn’t like being critical or arrogant. Or being seen as critical or arrogant. I tried to wrap my mind around why I was and how it showed up. And then something dawned on me. I approached the facilitator of the certification program. “Do you have statistics on how this model looks for addicts?” I asked. “Because by all rights, I should have been an addict.”

By all rights I should, or could, have been an addict. There but for the grace of god go I. I forget that.

Last night I was watching a movie, I Smile Back. The main character, played by Sarah Silverman, is a wife and mother…and addict. Her dad left when she was a kid, and the hole that left in her left her wanting. And hurting. And self-medicating. And self-destructing.

I watched, and recognized, her pain. I watched, and knew, her self-loathing. I watched, and ached for, her need to self obliterate. To make it all go away.

And I realized, yet again, there but for the grace of god go I. I have skirted disaster many times in my life. I have avoided self-destruction. I have built a life of love and joy and beauty. I am blessed. I may have worked hard on at least some of it, and I’ve also been graced. Amazingly graced. The angels have watched over me.

There but for the grace of god go I.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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