Archive for ‘Self-respect’

December 13, 2011

The Gift of Nurture

This week’s gift is one that I know all of you amazing mamma’s out there give to others- generously, beautifully, wonderously- every single day of your existence. You are the goddesses of nurture. Holding your families in nearly every thought with love, concern, appreciation and understanding. Or at least that’s your intention and your touchstone- what you come back to even when life feels hectic, out of control, too much ….. and well, normal.

Nurture is also what we do. Giving hugs. Making meals. Showing our kids how- when they want to try something new or do what we can do. Patching up boo-boo’s with compassion, validation and a kiss. And being present with their heartaches… also, with compassion and validation. And knowing when a hug or a kiss won’t be helpful.

But we often do not nurture ourselves. We forget to do the things that make us feel loved and supported. We don’t keep ourselves in our loving, appreciative, understanding thoughts. Sure it feels wonderful to have someone else nurture you in some way- making a favorite meal, providing you with a clean bathtub and a warm towel, giving you a hug after you slip in the dog slobber on the tile floor and land hard- but we can provide ourselves with the same. (Okay, maybe not a hug, but a chance to rest or that hot bath after the last one…)

I challenge you to come up with a list of 3 ways you can nurture yourself this week, starting now. I have a friend who has filled a jar with pomegranate seeds, to be treasured at will. I like to do yoga or meditate outside. Or go to a beautiful natural spot and just breathe in the beauty. Take a walk, or a run. Just be alone. Nap. Borrow any of these, come up with your own and report back in the comments! For bonus points, tell me what you’ve appreciated about yourself today.

Know someone who could use the gift of nurture? Share the love using the links below….

December 6, 2011

The Gift of Permission

Your permission slipWhen I first considered what gift I’d like to give myself this year, permission was the first word to come to mind. What do I want permission for? To be more of a thriving creative force in the world. To do work that excites and fulfills me. To stop being critical of myself and seeing criticism in the words and actions of others. I am the only person who can give me permission for these things.

But why permission? There’s a formality to permission. A granting from an authoritative source. My generation, and those before it, have been trained deeply to look to an authority, someone who knows a great deal about a subject, someone who others also look to for information and guidance in that area. And the fact is that you are the best and absolute authority on you. Only you know your private thoughts and your inner workings. Only you truly know your greatest joys and fears. Only you know what is best for you.

Granting yourself permission is not only allowing yourself that thing that you want, it is declaring authority over your own life. There is no single more powerful thing you can do for yourself. Even if today you’re only granting yourself permission to take a walk in the woods, an extra long hot bath, or half an hour to release your inner artist. Giving yourself permission is empowerment.

So, what will you give yourself permission for today? For the holidays? For the new year and the rest of your life? Let me know in the comments!  Do you know someone who would benefit from giving themselves this gift?  Share the love. (links are right below!)

December 6, 2011

Gifts to Yourself- A holiday blog series

Sorry, forgot to wrap it....As much as some of my previous holiday posts may contradict this- I LOVE Holidays. Particularly ones with lights, their own music, stories, food, and traditions. But it’s also a time of year when many of us get so caught up in our duties as the creator of holiday joys that we forget to care for ourselves. So for the next few weeks, I’ll be posting holiday gifts to give to yourself. They will be linked below, so this is one place you can find them all, but if you subscribe to my blog over there on the right where it says “Get Updates by Email”, they’ll come right to your inbox each week.  They won’t cost you anything. They have no calories. They won’t even take much time. Play along and let me know in the comments…. there may be an extra gift for you from me when you do. Enjoy.  And share the love.

Week 1- The Gift of Permission

Week 2- The Gift of Nurture

Week 3- The Gift of Play

Week 4- The Gift of Rest

October 25, 2011

Sour Milk and Self-Respect

It’s my first restful morning in a week or so.  I spent the weekend alone, working on our SC house.  Today I am back home- home being where my heart is, with my family.  It’s so great to snuggle them all again and wake with my baby in my arms.  (Said baby is 7 years old, but still my baby- as are my nearly 17 year old and 11 year old- all incredible, phenomenal, independent, brilliant and creative people.  Geez, I’m so freakin’ fortunate!).  But here I am taking care of my normal morning rituals- coffee, writing, laundry and dishes (you know, the sound of all that swishing water is really soothing….).  I pick up my cup to have a sip of my coffee and I realize something tastes “off”.  A little sour.  Perhaps my cream has gone a bit funny.  And what do I proceed to do?  I continue drinking it.

It’s a few sips later I realize that I’m not enjoying this- and that I am, in a very funny under-the-radar way, ignoring my lack of enjoyment AND the unpleasantness of the taste.  Because I don’t want to waste coffee- or cream.  Cream that is unpleasantly sour.

Time for the mental face-palm.  I’m WHAT?  Drinking yucky coffee because I don’t want to waste it?  It’s YUCKY!  It’s already wasted!  Even further, I’m having an inner debate over whether or not to throw out the (not quite yet stinking) cream.  But it’s ORGANIC!  It’s disrespectful of the cows! I am not the least bit kidding when I tell you this went through my mind.  WTF, woman!  Where is your self-respect?  (says my inner, irate goddess-cheerleader self, while my still small voice of truth sits behind her smirking).

Now I’m off to get a new cup of coffee and dump the souring cream- with all due respect to the lovely cows who made it.  But I want to offer you this thought, or question, to toss into your awareness.

Where are you allowing your default mindsets and unexamined beliefs to override your self-respect?

Today I discovered that I believe SO DEEPLY in lack; of material things like coffee and cream, the money to buy them, the resources to provide them, and mostly in my own worthiness; that I continued to drink sour coffee.

Where are you continuing to drink sour milk?  (Anyone remember that old SNL skit with the family tasting the sour milk?  It was my intent to provide a link, however I can’t seem to find it on the interwebs… )

To good laughs and fresh cream in our coffee…..

Lesley

June 3, 2011

The Last-Minute Rock Star

At the moment I’m preparing for a road trip that will take me from SC to PA to NY and back again in the space of two weeks.  In my mind, someone who is truly great at this sort of thing would have a comprehensive checklist prepared, have a detailed to-do written (at least mentally) and would have had all the items that aren’t necessary to everyday life packed and ready to go by now- the minivan clean and maintained and ready to roll, home tasks that need completion before leaving nearly up to date and be ready to simply, calmly and joyfully put the stuff in the van and leave when the time comes.  Oh, and they’d definitely have the conference talk they’re giving in less than 2 weeks at least in a completed rough draft state.

My experience of this process is rarely anything like this.  Usually I experience a combination of procrastination and panic, with an underlying and continuous monologue of reprimands and reminders of how insufficient I am and how I’m doing it all wrong and how much of a loser I must be for not just doing the freaking stuff that needs doing, that culminates in me yelling at everyone to “just get the *&%$#! out of my way so I can get this stuff done and get at least a few hours sleep!” at about 11pm the night before we are planning a 5am departure.  Not an ideal situation, in my personal opinion- especially when I do not function well on less than 8 or 9 hours of sleep.  Any wonder last year’s incarnation of this trip had us all craning our necks along the highway to find a Starbucks? (when, of course, a green smoothie would be MUCH more of a help!)

So in the midst of my procrastination and panic this week I decided to do a little self-coaching on this subject.  In the process I remembered that I am a last minute person.  I function well doing things last minute and I rarely fall short of my own expectations no matter how much I’ve delayed and put off.  I recognized that what I dislike most about my usual pattern is not my last-minute nature, but the lack of trust I hold that I CAN do what’s needed in the time I have (I’m amazingly efficient when I’m motivated- a great illustration that tasks take as much time as we allow them!) and my lack of calm and peace in the process.  I don’t like being unkind to my family.  And I’m downright afraid of how unkind I can be to myself.  My “deer in the headlights” feelings of panic and inability to act are mostly about how much I’ll berate myself as I’m losing much needed sleep and yelling and then trying to fuel myself on sugar and caffeine.

I’ve decided that this year, I’ll prepare for our road trip in the usual way- acting as I feel the motivation.  Except this time, I’m choosing to trust in the fact that I always get it done.  I’m going to trust that I can do this calmly and without yelling at anyone, or mentally abusing myself.  I am going to invest in my well-being by saying no to others’ requests of my time and attention when they don’t align with my goal of a peaceful and calm packing process and departure.  Many of my children’s requests WILL align with this goal- they’re as excited about this trip as I am, maybe even more!  Some of them might not.  But I can feel good saying “yes, but not right now” knowing that we all benefit from peace and calm and trust that everything works out.  Ultimately, I’m going to step up and be a last-minute road trip rock star- flipping the bird at the reptilian voice in my head that is not really me, but an amalgamation of cultural expectations and past criticism that I’ve allowed to remain.  I’ll be kind and loving and roll on the wave of adrenaline I get when the time comes.  I’ll enjoy it.  I’m actually pretty great at this last minute stuff.  Time to own it.  Time to rock my last-minute capabilities and evolve them to a more peaceful and loving place.

So anyway, take what you can from this story and apply it to your own life.  Where do you berate yourself for being who you are, and what is the real problem with the situation?  How might a different thought change what you do and how you do it?  How can you be the rock star of who you are and bring it?

I’m off to do what I’m inspired to do today- just like I was inspired to write this post.  Rock on and let your stars shine!

Lesley

May 28, 2011

The awesome of introverts (and extroverts too)

I’ve been having a funny experience of my own introversion this week.  Right now I’m happy as a clam to curl up in my shell and just be- in solitude, able to dip down into my well and refill my cup, to be refreshed and to live largely below the surface.  I’m also noticing the voice of my social self- that part of me that’s out to please others with little regard for how I’m really feeling- and how it keeps telling me that there’s something wrong with wanting to feel refreshed and fulfilled, that it’s weird that being alone is fulfilling for me, that others will be displeased with me if I choose to pass on social events or small talk, and that I have no business wanting solitude because I’ve chosen to be the parent of three children.  My social self can be quite judgmental.

I began to ask myself what is awesome about being an introvert?  How do introverts give back to the world in ways that perhaps extroverts do not? (though of course extroverts have their own gifts… I just don’t know what that’s like, being an introvert and all…)  In my moodling on this I made the mistake of doing a Google search.  What I found was that even on sites that intended to extoll the virtues of introversion, I was bombarded with negative assumptions I hadn’t even considered.   Talk about sending that social self voice on a field day?  I hadn’t even realized all the horrors we introverts are inflicting upon ourselves and the world- OMG, WE MUST CHANGE NOW!  Just kidding.  I closed my browser toute de suite.  This was not what I had in mind at all. Luckily I found my answer after a few minutes of quiet contemplation (just like an introvert, ya know?).

For introverts, recognizing that we’re energized by solitude and deep relationships gives us the chance to provide ourselves with this gift.  When we work within this nature, knowing how to fill our sails and fuel our passions, we are best able to step out into the world and share our gifts.  We can also share our passions in an introverted way, by working alone then sending our creations out into the world or by sharing them with just one person at a time.  When we don’t give ourselves full permission to replenish our fuel, when we don’t accept this in ourselves and relax into it, when we continually nag ourselves to be different,  we’re more likely to feel the world is a hostile place and retreat further-  not replenishing our energy,
not accessing our passions and not able to share them with the world.

And then it hit me.  I bet extroverts experience the same thing in an opposite package!  I’m guessing that when an extrovert doesn’t interact and surround themselves with different people and ideas and energies, they are less able to reach inward and access their own passions and muses. (extroverts- can you confirm this?)   So the most wonderful thing about being an introvert- or an extrovert- is simply in knowing who you are, what fills you up, how to access your highest self and share it with the world.  It looks different for introverts and extroverts, but ultimately it’s what allows each of us to thrive.  And how freakin’ cool is that?

Until next time- wishing you the space to be exactly who you are,

Lesley

March 15, 2011

Conscious Rest

The past six weeks or so have been filled with delights and horrors, large and small. From tiny moments of absolute bliss sitting on my front porch enjoying our beautiful southern early spring to the devestation in Japan, from delightful birthday celebrations with my girls to a day spent semi-conscious and in pain, hugging a bucket, from reunions with friends to more time than I like playing single parent. And just about everything in between. My personal lesson throughout these weeks has been this- rest. My body has done a particularly bang up job of imposing it on me when I’m not being aware enough to create it. My work right now is developing an awareness of my need for rest and the means to create the kind of rest my body and mind need- conscious rest.

So, how to cultivate this awareness and allow rest? And what exactly does it mean to rest consciously? I’m curious about what those of you reading do to create this space and awareness. Right now I’m exploring and playing with it. I don’t have specific answers other than a sort of undefined swirl going through my heart and mind at the moment. And so I’ll leave this here… and take a few hints from my cat.

Restfully yours,
Lesley

January 21, 2011

Illusions

I’m recycling an old post of mine from an email list this week- edited slightly to make some kind of  sense separate from the conversation.  I’m just tired and decided that rest is my priority at the moment.  And I sort of like this piece of writing.  My apologies if you’ve seen it before, and many thanks to anyone I was paraphrasing in the original (much much love to my shiny peeps!).  Have a lovely, restful, joyful, wonderful week everyone!

For years I have been trying to find the way to truly feel and embrace and embody the kind of parent I have wanted to be.  But knowing something and living it are two very different things.  I struggled, I strived, I read, I thought- and I think I know what was missing through all of it.  *I* was missing.  I think a lot of Moms who are drawn to gentle, connected parenting are those who are “pleasers” by nature or circumstance.  We want everyone in our lives, particularly those we love, to be happy.  We want to support their happiness, we want to help fulfill their needs, but we forget that we also have needs and desires and sometimes want support for our own happiness. 

 In the mainstream this so often turns into a rigid “I need to have my needs met, to hell with yours” (and I have seen this approach taken on by parents who began with the intention to be kind, gentle, loving and connected and then burnt out because they’ve ignored their own needs for so long).  This is often aimed at children, particularly infants, but it permeates interactions with everyone in their lives.  I think for those of us who have chose NOT to take that route, it so often results in carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders.  Often this leads to a sort of under the radar blaming energy- the martyr role- which creates a repeating cycle.

 It really was only in the past few years that I realized that it is not my job, or purpose in life, to make the people I love happy.  As it’s quite literally impossible to MAKE someone happy- happiness is entirely an inside job.  This puts pressure on everyone.  (if my job is to make you happy, your job is to be happy, NOW DO YOUR JOB!) Then it becomes a blame/guilt/shame cycle.  I have finally learned that to support and uplift and be there for those I love does not mean “make them happy”- and I think many moms in this cycle misinterpret the idea of connected, supportive parenting in this way. 

 To support and uplift and be there for those I love means I create a foundation.  I am strong and clear and loving and kind.  And to do that, I need to make sure MY needs are met.  Back to what I said before- this does not mean “I have needs, screw yours”- it means that to be of any use to anyone, to be able to serve our children and the world in the best way we can (which does not mean “making them happy”) we need to be well cared for- and we need to do this ourselves. 

 We need to be happy and be gentle with ourselves, get enough sleep and physical activity and nourishment (both the physical and dare I say “spiritual” kind).  We need to nurture our own connection to our wise selves- not to the exclusion of others, but to the benefit of others.  The love we send out to the world is diminished if we are not already saturated in it ourselves- self-love, self-care.  It’s like the concrete that creates a strong foundation for a building- it allows us to then support and uplift those we choose to carry with us. 

 Maybe those of us who are strongly left brained are more prone to this – not automatically connecting these things, because they exist in the more feeling realm? (I consider myself strongly integrated brain-wise- but usually my initial processing, my default processing is left brained- logical and linear)  We carry the weight (sometimes quite literally- or at least in my case- and I think there’s a huge connection between these revelations and the healing path I am on now- I am both literally and figuratively letting go of the weight that’s holding me down *updated note- I did begin a personal wellness journal blog this week, which can be found here)- and it’s not something you can learn, I think, from a “thinking place”- it’s a “feeling place” thing. 

 And it does come down to honoring and accepting, recognizing and feeling what you are feeling- walking away from those mental constructs we create because we’re so AFRAID of what those feelings might do to us- that they might be too much.  I used to think I was flawed because I couldn’t just “get over it”.  And that’s pretty much the opposite of validation.  Not validating our own feelings makes it awfully challenging, if not impossible to validate anyone else’s.  And when you’re busy trying to “get over it” the kids’ joy and silliness can’t even reach you- the self-invalidation is like an invisible wall- like an awful version of casting a “protego” charm around yourself and living inside it- separated from everyone and everything else by an invisible force field.  Sure, nothing can hurt you, but nothing can touch you either. 

 I’ve known for a while I was one of those people- one of the “try-ers”- but have been at a loss how to get out from under that cloud, that weight, the burden of Atlas- which is something like “Hey, I’m barely avoiding being crushed over here- I’m okay with it, really- I’m smiling- but please don’t be unhappy because then this will actually crush me as I try to help you”.  I’ve had to make a significant investment in myself- to heal, to trust, to rest, to feel.  And hey, it turns out that the world I was carrying around- it was a movie prop- an illusion- it was pretty darned heavy, but I was never actually in danger of being crushed- just seemed that way.

p.s. can you find the teenager in the photo? 

January 14, 2011

Being Peace (part one)

I’m doing something out of the ordinary here and writing just off the top of my head, though I’ll admit to throwing some ideas into my journal earlier this week.  My greatest accomplishment since my last post is surviving the virus that passed through my household with a minimum of complaint- though it wore me down to the point where I could no longer keep optimistically stating that I’d probably feel better tomorrow (as I did for 3 days) and settled on “I know I’ll feel better eventually” and decided to simply hang in there the best I could with my boxes of tissues and the ability to order and read books on my phone.  And read I did, since I couldn’t even sleep.  A few weeks ago, way back in 2010,  my friend Ruth mentioned The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins to me- stating that they were the best books she’d read all year.  I agree.  But being a whole 2 weeks into the year, my statement doesn’t mean as much.  I’m guessing that they may still be the best books I will read this year.  They are also profoundly sad.  And inspiring. 

 What has been inspired within me, from reading this trilogy, is a desire for peace and freedom for all but also knowing that peace and freedom are an inside job.  We can’t live violently and expect peace.  We can’t hold ourselves or others back and have freedom.  Yet in so many ways we live violent and captive lives.  I’m not talking about outward physical, active violence and captivity.  Most of us are not gunning down 9 year old children outside supermarkets or keeping someone locked in the basement (okay, I honestly hope no one who reads my blog is doing these things…if you are, please go turn yourself in to the authorities and get some psychiatric help).  And though there are much more subtle forms of active violence against one another, particularly against children, I’m not going to discuss those today.  What I’m going to talk about are subtle, non-active forms of violence. 

 Violence takes place when we don’t step in to protect someone who is being hurt, when we ignore suffering that is within our power to relieve, and when we hold on to anger or hatred.  This is the kind of violence that takes place within ourselves and often, against ourselves.  A friend has a bumper sticker that reads “World Peace Begins at Home: Be Nicer to Your Kids”, and I completely agree with the sentiment, however I think that ultimately we could say “World Peace Begins Within: Be Nicer to Yourself”.  And while fine things, good food and enjoyable experiences are all perfectly good ways to express appreciation to yourself, they are superficial.  If you don’t actually feel love and appreciation for yourself and are treating yourself with violence through self-criticism and cutting inner dialogue, those superficial things are like an abusive parent giving a child a toy to make up for the bruises.  They are a distraction from self-inflicted pain.

 Every time we tell ourselves we are stupid, ugly, worthless, inferior….pick your poison…we are inflicting violence against ourselves.  When we hold on to anger and hatred, no matter who those thoughts are aimed towards, we are inflicting violence upon ourselves.  It’s pretty easy to illustrate the impact they have on our lives by making us feel stressed, contracted, unable to relax, and how those things create some negative results in our behavior and our lives.  Helping people work through all of that is what I do.  What I have been considering for the past few hours is how we can turn around this self-inflicted violence through our inner dialogue.  How we can be peace.  But that, my friends, is for another day.  I have some ideas swirling, concepts connecting, reticulating splines (oh, wait, no… that’s my daughter’s Sims game…) and I’ll reconnect them here at a later time.

 Until then…Peace.

 Lesley

p.s. – if you enjoyed this post, please share via the links below.  Thanks!

January 5, 2011

Immerse: to engage wholly or deeply, to devote (oneself) fully

One of my intentions this year is to post weekly to this blog.  To support this intention I’m joining in the WordPress Post a Week 2001 challenge.  I’m taking this as an opportunity to more fully practice imperfection as well as to, of course, immerse myself in this process.

From the depths,

Lesley

I want to more fully define this term and what it means here.  The title above is not a strict definition.  It’s cobbled together from several I found online, as well as from my own thoughts- as is everything that follows.  Immerse is my word of the year for 2011, (link) and it has become a key element in the focus of my work (yep, there it is in the tagline).  Right now I’m completely in love with this word and it’s implications in living a life without limits, a life where I am here and completely devoted to being present, digging in, and bringing my whole self to my actions.  It makes my heart beat faster and I start smiling uncontrollably when I think about it.

 On one level, immersion is about throwing myself completely into whatever I’m doing in the moment- whether that’s writing, playing with my children, eating dinner or taking a nap.  It’s like presence and mindfulness, but in a very physical way.  Being immersed is very difficult when you’re up in your mind thinking about being mindful.  Being immersed engages all the senses and opens up a 360° awareness of what is around you. 

 But to immerse does not simply mean this.  I’m a bit of a word geek- so as I was looking up the definition I was curious about it’s history.  It comes from middle english meaning “embedded deeply” coming from latin roots that mean something like “to merge into”.  To immerse, for me, means to merge into the life you are creating for yourself.   It also means merging your *self* back into your life.  A few years ago I was living my life simply going through the motions.  I was physically there and in action- but my *self* was elsewhere.  I’ve rejoined my life, but I’ve learned how it becomes easy to simply being functioning on auto-pilot and allowing the delicious parts of life to drift away.  Immersion is the act of reuniting the self into a whole and remaining whole.  Being deeply and fully involved in your life in every way.

 Immerse means to surround yourself completely in your hopes, dreams, ideas and the actions you are taking to bring them to life.  You can do this within your work, your art, your family, your relationships.  You can also do this within your self; making sure that you have everything you need to be fully present.  This means delicious, nourishing food, joyful movement, deep rest, creative expression, uplifting connection with others and quiet insightful time for connecting with yourself. 

 Immerse: to engage wholly or deeply, to devote yourself fully.  Today I am choosing to immerse myself in my family, my work, my creativity, and in my well-being.  There is joy in simply devoting yourself fully and engaging deeply.  Where will you immerse yourself?

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