Monthly Archives: April 2018

Raising Yourself

I was raised in and torn between two conflicting, bipolar worlds. There was the world I longed for and lived in on weekends – my mother’s world, which was the fanatical, puritanical cult of the Moonies – and the world I was forced to live in during the week – my father’s world, which was based in sex, drugs, and the squalor of life in the East Village of New York.

As the child of hippie parents and the product of a “broken marriage,”  I was immersed in the “sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll” culture of the 1960s and early 1970s. My parents took me to the Jefferson Airplane free concert in Central Park and Woodstock (the movie, not the festival) by the time I was nine. By the time I was ten, I was a devotee of Rev. Moon – the self-proclaimed Messiah and leader of one of the most infamous cults – spending my weekends standing on a wooden box in New York City’s then-seedy Times Square, shouting through a bullhorn, trying to save the sea of sinners around me.

I had a strange childhood. And while my parents may have done the best they could for my brother and me, it was a toxic environment, and I’ve spent the last few decades learning to not just survive, but to shine.

For those of us raised in toxic environments, and for those of us who “raised ourselves” because we had parents who couldn’t — or wouldn’t — be there for us, our childhoods were pretty much an exercise in learning to not be present.

And in an effort to make sure everything was okay, our experiences also taught us to over-everything. Our overachieving, over-sweetness, over-tolerance, and over-responsibility probably helped save our lives and psyches.

People who meet me now have no idea of my eclectic background. Not only have I survived my childhood, but I thrive. I am blessed with a happy marriage of over twenty years, two amazing children, and a successful leadership consulting and coaching practice.

In so many ways, because of my past I now have my today. I learned through my journey that it’s up to each of us to create the life we want. Some of us may have more to overcome in order to do that, but it still is up to us. We have the chance and the choice. We have the ability. Even when we think we don’t.

I learned to build a very different life for myself than what I knew as a child, and to integrate my childhood experiences into my life – doing my best to find and keep the valuable while letting go of the rest. I faced at least some of my demons and found ways to laugh or love them at least somewhat away. I can now look back on my past with a sense of humor and unexpected appreciation, and rejoice in my present.

I bring all I experienced and learned to my coaching and consulting work, helping others find their way to the life they want and deserve. I bring it to my writing and speaking — here on the blog as well as in my new book, coming this fall, to the moon and back: a childhood under the influence.

My intention in writing has been to find a way to offer hope and potential joy to others who may feel beaten or damaged by their upbringing or circumstances. I’ve pulled together some of my favorite lessons (that I keep having to re-learn) into a free, short, collection that I’d love to share with you. If you’re already on my mailing list, then it’s on its way to you shortly (or maybe you’ve already gotten it!?) If you’re new to my site — welcome! Just pop your name and email in the spot below and it’ll be in your inbox shortly.

Let’s focus on hope and joy together.

 

Categories: My Story

What are the 20 best books ever?

That’s a hard question and one I thought I was supposed to answer. So I pondered it deeply.

Part of being a writer is being a reader, and a rewarding part of being a reader is connecting with other readers. I’ve been meaning to get involved with Goodreads, to connect with other readers, but have been “too busy.” My book club friends get recommendations off of Goodreads. I go along with whatever they find. My clients mention Goodreads, and I nod and act like I know what they’re talking about (that’s a habit I’m still trying to put down and a whole different blog post).

My marketing team suggested I take the plunge and asked me to rate my top twenty books ever. Well, that’s what I thought they asked me to do. They actually asked me to rate twenty books. I’m the one who made it more daunting.

Because how do you choose your top twenty books EVER? The books I loved as a child? They’re there. The books that changed my life? They’re there. I felt such pressure to “recommend” the “right” books, so that everyone who engaged with me on Goodreads would know the real me and would walk away with something powerful that could help them be their real them.

That’s kinda BS, but it’s the pressure I put on myself. And why I managed to make a simple task so challenging is perhaps fodder for another blog post.

But although it was daunting, it was also fun. I enjoyed scouring the bookshelves, pulling out the “right” ones to include. What did I read (and reread, and reread) when I was younger? What was important to me as I matured? As I left the cult and tried to redefine myself? What saved my soul and life as I climbed out of the depths of despair? Little Women is in there. Sex Tips for Girls is in there. Alcoholics Anonymous is in there. Radical Acceptance is in there. All great books. All books that capture the essence of me at different points in my life.

It was fun to explain myself through my reading. It was fun to offer suggestions to others. It was fun to review the books (and hope that, in time, others review To the Moon and Back – and give it lots of stars!).

It is funny that I took a simple task and made it essential and therefore harder. I need to keep thinking and looking to see where else I do that. It is funny that I tried to get involved with Goodreads “perfectly,” but those of you who know, and are coming to know, me know that I do that pretty much all the time.

Did I mention that The Gifts of Imperfection was also on my list?

What are your favorite books ever? It is fun to think about, and I’d love to know. (And come join me on Goodreads, if you’re not there. I’m having fun getting more involved.)

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

Categories: Writing, , Tags:

Let your head go

That’s what the yoga instructor said. “Let your head go.”

I’m pretty sure she was talking about physically releasing the muscles in our necks, thinking about relaxing and not holding our heads up, as we eased into humble warrior pose. Needless to say, I heard a bunch more.

I did ground my feet and feel the strength of my legs. I did bow my torso down towards the ground and aim my shoulder under my front leg. I did (my best to) clasp my hands behind my back and allow my arms to raise away from my back…as much as they would go. And I did let my head go. And I let my head go again.

As I held the pose, hearing the instructor repeat her loving challenge for us to let our heads go, I thought about how else I could let my head go.

I aim to let my heart and soul lead my daily actions more than my head. I aim to come from love – for myself and others – and live for joy. I aim to get out of my head and my “stinking thinking,” as I once heard it described, so that I can feel life more fully and show up as my best self.

And my head likes to get very involved in every process.

Now I’m not arguing against thinking things through. I’m not recommending that I don’t use my beautiful, powerful brain to figure things out. I’m not suggesting that there is no value in the incredible value that my mind brings to situations and challenges and opportunities.

But I know my ability to get lost in my thinking. I know my potential to overthink and, especially, over-worry. I have an amazing knack for getting lost in fear or over-analysis.

So I’m practicing letting my head go, just as I practiced during humble warrior.

I’m watching my thoughts and questioning if I need to follow the trail they’re carving in my brain. I’m observing the stories I make up in my mind and challenging myself to breathe, look again, and allow for a different – maybe even more pleasant – story. I’m noticing and noticing and noticing again.

I’m still invested in my meditation practice. I hope I always will be. I’ve witnessed how I can reach more stillness more often, and I love it. I’ve felt myself calm my heart, soul, and mind when the “stinking thinking” gets racing. And I love it.

I’ve let my head go. Again and again and again.

I’m going to let my head go some more.

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

Categories: Recovery, , , Tags: