authenticity

Are you a hypocrite? Or just a human?

contradictionI think I just might be the most anti-social extrovert there ever was.

As much as I love to be around people, and am totally energized in groups, at events and parties and whatnot, I never feel “open” to talking to strangers in coffee shops, on airplanes, in the sauna at the gym. I’d rather just be left alone. Sometimes, and this is embarrassing to admit, I even wear my ear buds, even if I’m not listening to anything, just to send a clear leave-me-alone-please message to any friendly stranger that might dare talk to me.

And if I should make conversation with a stranger in line at the grocery store, or even the cashier, I sometimes actually shake with adrenalin or nervousness and while I am energized by it, I leave slightly trembling, maybe even sweat dripping down my armpits!

I see strangers making friends in public places and a pang of envy washes through me, for their easy, carefree connection and comfort with chatting it up with total strangers. Yet, some of my very best friends were strangers I was brave enough to talk to. And I create events for a living.

This is one of my many contradictions. I’m full of them.

And so are you.

And that’s what makes us complex, interesting and layered. That’s what creates our divine totality.

“Do I contradict myself?” Walt Whitman said. “Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes.”

Yeah, that’s me. That’s us.

Here’s what I notice: For some reason we’ve adopted this belief that we should be one or another of everything, that there is no room for being both or all things, yet we are designed to hold within us the full capacity of everything that is available.

Why must we be so “either/or” about every damned thing? We equate being complex and containing contradictions with being a hypocrite, because we have black and whited our world, our lives and our potential.

I’ve spent hours and hours, year after year, with clients, with friends, in relationships, in my own heart, on that tenuous tightrope of “either/or” thinking…

“Am I selfish or giving… logical or emotional… good or bad… right or wrong… gay or straight… honest or dishonest… bold or shy… scared or fearless… spiritual or sinful… left brain or right brain… doubtful or trusting… a little bit country or a little bit rock and roll… “slutty” or prudish… healed or wounded… tough or vulnerable… satisfied or yearning?”

I’m not quite sure how or when we as people started thinking we could only be one half of two opposites. When did we cut ourselves in half and why do we feel the need to limit the fullness of our existence?

It’s really kind of weird when you think about it. But that’s what we learned, that’s what we thought. That’s what we often believe.

Do you remember Highlights for Children magazine? There was a regular cartoon in there called Goofus and Gallant, about two brothers– one who did everything right, all the time, while the other brother (guess which one…) was consistently messy, selfish, rude, he didn’t put his toys away. He didn’t say thank you. He never said “please.”He threw rocks at birds.

This little cartoon, in spite of its good intentions to teach kids manners, is just one way I was imprinted, the imprint growing roots in my belief system that there is no room for extremes or contradictions within one person. As a small child just learning how to be what the world wanted me to be, I knew it was “wrong” to feel a little bit Goofus and a lit bit Gallant.

Can you trace back to a message or experience that taught you that you could only be one or the other of something?

And now… Can you entertain the exciting notion that you are everything?

I highly recommend it. For when you do, when you can, there is no more war. The battle is over. The forces retreat.

When you allow yourself to be the wide, vast and magical container for everything that you truly are, the game changes. The world, and your place in it, shifts.

You are made of curves and edges. Countless textures. A thousand flavors. Embrace them all.

You are designed to be spacious enough for every feeling, every possibility.

Your divine totality is vast and limitless and there is absolutely no reason that you cannot be a contradiction, or even a thousand contradictions, whenever you want to be.

Do tell! What is one of your contradictions that you are ready and willing to embrace?

Share in the comments below.

 

 

****************************

I’m working on other things right now so I thought many of you may like to read or re-read this blog, originally published in May, 2014.

Self-Care and its Slippery Shadow

Art by noell oszvald
Art by noell oszvald

When does the self-nurturing act of nesting and withdrawing from the world turn into debilitating isolation?

How does self-care turn into self-sabotage?

When do our once-effective practices for self-care become self-destructive?

When does the sacred pause become a stuckness, viscous and muddy, and seemingly impossible to break out of?

If only there were a clear line we could see, “Ah there it is! This retreating to my bed as soon as humanly possible is starting to feel unhealthy, I better fix this now, before it gets really hard to.” If only there was a definitive marker, a brightly colored delineation, between there and here, where we can see, and know, those practices, those choices and decisions we made in our best interest are no longer serving us.

Sometimes there is. More often, instead, I think, it’s far more subtle, inch by inch, we sink into the mud that once was fertile soil, until one day we look at the circumstances we have created and realize they’re just not working anymore. And we feel stuck in the mud we have created. We’re in the dark and we can’t find the light switch.

We are so wise, so self-protective sometimes, knowing when we need to stop. Knowing when we need to withdraw, to fold inward from the noise of the world, cancel plans, hole up, Netflix and chill for a few weekends in a row.

I’m learning to spot pending burn-out a mile away, and I get into gear to steer away from it with more ease and grace lately. (Yay, me!) I’m developing a knowing for what I need, I’m attentive to myself. My needs. To the clues and the signs.

I change course. I politely cancel plans. I hole up. I withdraw. I nurture and nest. I put on my invisibility cloak.

Yet, where I still find challenge is the knowing when I don’t need it anymore, before my inner retreat and period of rest and respite goes dark, very dark. I fumble around for the light switch. I want to take off the invisibility cloak but its laces around my neck are knotted.

A few years ago, for example, during a chronic pain meltdown, I was exhausted and frustrated and at the end of my rope. “Rest,” my body kept telling me. “Stop.” And I tuned in. I canceled my life and stayed in bed for a month.

Little did I realize, this sedentary prone position physically worked against me, causing more physical pain, causing the intense cycle of misery to last longer than it needed to. Yes, I was right in that I needed to slow down. I needed rest. But I also needed physical therapy and stretching and less bed.

More recently, I’ve done some withdrawing when I decided I would do my best to try and live a sober life nearly two years ago. My dance card hasn’t been quite as full. Parties, frankly, just weren’t as much fun. I made up the story that certain people preferred me lit up like a Christmas tree, a story that might actually be true, and that’s okay. I found out that I wasn’t as social as I thought I was, in fact, enter social anxiety, something I’d never known before. I hated feeling like I had to “fake” having a better time than I was so that people thought I was still cool… silly, I know. Then the second year, it’s gotten way easier to be in the world as a sober person. It’s not a struggle, it’s just the way it is. I’m not just “okay” with it. I love it.

I’ve been realizing it’s okay to leave the party early. It’s okay to even skip it. And I can have hella fun sober now. About a month ago, on a bar rooftop doing karaoke with a bunch of awesome ladies, I remember thinking “Remember this moment. It’s one of the very best moments of your life.” I was lit up like a Christmas tree, but it was pure joy, endorphins, connection, love.

I still have some social anxiety that usually dissipates, and if it doesn’t, I know how to take care of myself. I leave. And in the right environments, with the right people, I’m even engaging and fun.

Having come pretty close to burning out this summer, I withdrew more. Became a homebody. Spent a lot of weekends on the couch, nestled under blankets with my love, getting my head rubbed, and it felt good. I decided it was what I needed. But when it was no longer what I needed, my downtime, my withdrawal from activities and plans and people didn’t just shift into “okay! I’m back!”

First, it needed to go sour. It turned into isolation, loneliness, restlessness, boredom, depression. I was becoming an unpleasant person to live with. Hostile and judgmental. (Poor Matt.) And lots of feeling sorry for myself and the state of my affairs I’d created. I felt like the ugly troll living under the bridge, threatening billy goats from the shadows.

Somewhere I know, there is a middle ground, a happier balance between doing and being, between weekends on the couch and engagement with the world that feeds me well, and sustains me properly, as an ambivert. For me, it can’t be all or nothing. That’s toxic and draining for me, in either direction.

“Figuring ourselves out” is the most challenging assignment, because the questions keep on changing. And so do the answers.

So what do we do? How do we know? How do we choose? It requires a self-intimacy. A self-closeness. We must stay close to the questions, always, in real-time. Because while I don’t claim to have “figured myself out”, (an arrogant claim, as “myself” is fluid, not static.) I do know that I am a rock solid ambivert. I need people. And I need alone time. I need real connection, with myself, AND with others.

And while couch is a lovely thing, too much couch dulls my spirit and diminishes my inner flame.

Today, this week, in fact, I feel the clouds lifting. Hallelujah, I found the light switch, I’ve taken off my invisibility cloak, I am re-engaging and reconnecting and it feels like I’ve been far away, on a long journey. It feels like coming home.

It is a homecoming, and while I don’t need to figure myself out, I promise to stay closer to the questions, to check in more frequently, to see what’s current, what’s needed, what’s new, what’s now.

Because I deserve that kind of attention.

Have you forgotten? You are a wild one.

DSC_0237-Edit
“Wild Women of the Woods” by Nikki Simpson

 

“Underneath it all, we are wild and we know it.”

– Reggie Ray, Buddhist scholar

From the time you were a little child they’ve been trying to tame you.

They told you how to sit, they told you how to behave. They told you what nice girls do and don’t and when you acted wild, they told you that you should be ashamed of yourself.

So you were.

They told you to sit still.

They told you to quiet down.

They told you to play nice and stop being bossy. They told you to not get dirty. To not be naughty.

You learned that if you were gonna get by in this world, your wild animal self would need to be trained in the ways of the world. You acclimated. You adapted. You shut her away.

You’ve spent your life trying to be good. They love you more when you’re good. But when good becomes false, your true self grieves. When playing by the rules becomes sacrificing your heart’s desires, death is slow and secret. You’re smiling on the outside and dying on the inside.

I declare a Reclamation Proclamation on your wild and fiery spirit. I dare you to untame yourself. Just a little bit. Or a lot.

What does that mean? I don’t know! It will be different for all of us.

For some of us the Reclamation will involve a complete purge of objects, relationships, old familiar ways, burning through the old, to grow new from the ash.

For some of us a Reclamation might be as simple as one single NO.

No I won’t be attending the event.

No I will not entertain this damaging thought.

No I will not feel guilty about taking care of myself.

No I will not work for a company that requires the women to wear panty hose every day.
For some of us, the Reclamation will be in the form of a YES.

YES this is what I want.

YES I will swim naked in the moonlight.

YES I will take a lover.

YES I will travel alone.

YES I will do the unthinkable.

Whatever your unthinkable might be.

You might stop shaving your legs, if that suits your fancy. You might go without panties for a week, to see how that changes the way you move and experience the world. You might quit your job. You might leave a marriage. You might start a marriage. You might parachute, para-sail, para-glide. You might release a relationship, renew a promise, set fire to the old. Give birth to the new in you.

Dance. Sing. Scream. Run. Stay. Do the wild thing.

There’s a new movement sweeping the country, thousands of women have stopped shaving their legs. They’re taking pictures, they’re sharing them online. It’s bold, it’s definitely a Reclamation Proclamation of the wild one!

Although I don’t think I’ll be going to such extremes, (only because I don’t feel pulled in that direction, it doesn’t titillate me) I do occasionally allow them to grow unruly because I just don’t feel like shaving and it’s sort of fun to marvel at their prickly stubbly layer of hair that will most certainly grow wild if I let it.

Your wild child is begging you to let her out. She needs to live. She needs to breathe. She needs your respect and adoration.

You do not have to be good.You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. “

– Mary Oliver

Did you get that?

You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.

Your wild one is calling out. Untame your spirit. How might your world change? How does your wild spirit want to reveal herself?

Do something wild. I dare you. Love what you love. Burn what needs to burn. Set fire to your tameness. To your jaded holding back, keeping it down, guarding your heart (as if.)

It’s not working.

You were born to be wild.

 

 

 

*****************************

Originally published Summer, 2014. Taking a short break from writing, be back soon!

The Pretending is Killing Us

tumblr_m6uoglvpwp1qddppio1_400
Artwork credit: Hozier “Arsonist’s Lullaby” record art
“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths.”
– M. Scott Peck

There is a certain sadness in us all…

We walk around in our day to day lives, pretending it isn’t there, doing what we need to do to move through our routines and rituals, duties and motion, but it’s there. Hovering just beneath the surface, like a thin grey fog. Or a thick black cloud. A sadness that could bring us to our knees, if we let it.

There is a certain emptiness in us all…

We all walk around, trying to fill it, trying to cover it, this void, this hollow ache. We give and take from one another some temporary relief, in our smiles, and touches, in our words and hugs and presence, and orgasms and comedy and gossip and cigarettes, but it never goes away. We find other ways to fill the hollow, some so dark we don’t even talk about them. And the hollow is a vacuum, and we are always hungry there, in that spot. We are always empty, in that spot.

There is a certain devastation in us all…

The pain of what we have lost, the pain of what we never had, the pain that was inflicted upon us, leaving internal bleeding, we are permanently bleeding, the pain of what we turn our heads away from, the pain is too big, we can’t look directly at it. Like the sun in an eclipse, it will cause our eyes to singe. So we smile, we pretend, we work so hard to be okay. I’m okay. You’re okay. Okay?

There is a certain terror in us all…

Mine shows up in dreams. Last night, in my dreams, my only daughter was shot nine times by a drive-by shooter. We were all shot. We survived, but we were injured, and traumatized. I woke up terrified, I put my terror away so I could get out of bed.

Isn’t this what we all do, every single day? We put our terror away, so we can get out of bed?

We work so hard to be okay, to seem okay, to resist the ache, the sadness, the devastation, the pain, avoiding the intense sting of the burning sun of our humanity, our aching hearts.  Too bright, too intense to experience it directly, so we cover our eyes, we cover our pain, we bury. We stifle. We hide. We numb. We lie. We smile.  We do what we do to survive.

And sometimes, we are brave enough to share it. To unbutton our shirts and show our bleeding, aching, pulsing hearts, and sometimes the one we show it to then unbuttons their shirt and shows us their ache.

Sometimes we meet in the shadows and whisper “me too.”

If you tell me you don’t sometimes struggle with pain like this, if you tell me your thoughts are all so positive all the time and that’s why you’re just so successful, I will think you to be hiding. And I won’t believe you.

At the very least, I will not trust you.

Perfect people cannot be trusted.

If you tell me I am wrong for allowing the darkness to come over me, that I am wrong for sharing with my readers that, “Yeah. Me too.” because somehow it will diminish my shiny persona or murk my message with reality (oh no!) I will tell you fuck off.

We do more damage to one another by pretending.

We cause more pain to ourselves by pretending the pain isn’t there.

We’re all walking around with a certain sadness, devastated, with our wounds, our triggers, our aches. Maybe you’ve gotten really good at hiding. There are no awards here for the best actor.

Find someone to whisper your shadows to. Find a way to tell the truth. Find a way to expose your reality. Find a way to say “I’m in pain.” Find the ones who deserve to hold you in your grief. Find a way to show us your blood. Your tears. Your reality.

The pretending is killing us.

I will not pretend in order to protect the veneer. The veneer is suffocating and toxic. The veneer has been peeling for a long time anyway. I’m cracking open, I’ve peeled so much away, and I want you to see what’s real, what’s true, and I want that from you.

Don’t give me perfect. Give me real.

I commit to doing the same.

That is how we will survive this common ache, this collective pain, these private wounds, these lonely devastations.

That is how we will get through.

More, Please.

i-want-more-111795-530-530

Show me a hundred people and I bet I can show you 95 of them or so who will say 2016 has been a rough one. It came with its blessings and gifts, of course, but it also brought a seemingly higher proportion of loss, tragedy, difficulties, and pain than your average year. At times, it’s been brutal. And it’s ending.

I am ready to kiss this year good-bye.

I am ready to make some new commitments and strengthen the ones I have in place.

I am ready to be more, have more and feel more of what I want to feel.

I’ve decided. I want this brand new, shining year ahead to be My Year of More.

What about you?

There is much to kiss goodbye to as we wrap up this year.

And so much to experience more of.

I’m done with New Year’s Resolutions that feel forceful, like what I should be wanting or doing. Research shows us, they don’t work.

I’m done with New Year’s Resolutions that come from anywhere outside of me.

I’m actually done with the term “New Year’s Resolutions” altogether. I’m tapping into something different this year. My own, innate, personalized More-Core.

You have one, too. Deep within you, there lives a blueprint of what you truly desire, a solid and totally-unique, totally-YOURS, set of desires that point you in the direction of More.

You don’t have to search for it. It’s already there. You just have to turn to it.

Here’s how to access your More-Core. Grab a pen and paper. Answer these questions:

  1. What feelings do I want to feel more of?
  2. What experiences would support me in cultivating more of these feelings?
  3. What activities, choices, practices or people would support me in cultivating more of these feelings?
  4. What would I need less of, in order to create space for more?

And then, it begins. Once you get clear about what you want, you can’t unknow it.

Here are two misconceptions about wanting more that I come across often…

  • If I want more, it means I am dissatisfied with what I have, and what I have is enough.
  • It’s greedy, ungrateful or selfish to want more. I should concentrate on being content, instead.

It is possible to be grateful and content while wanting more. In fact, it’s imperative to our well-being to acknowledge and tend to our desires. Desire is fuel. Desire is guidance for your journey. Desire is data. And wanting more does not diminish gratitude! It’s quite possible (and a yummy place to live!) to be in both desire and gratitude. One does not cancel out the other. In fact, it’s our denying our desires that gets us into trouble.

You can love your life and want more. (I blogged about this very thing last year.)

Go on, want MORE. I dare you.

Find a buddy, a coach, a group, for accountability, for support, for love as you manifest MORE this year.

You do not have to be anything you aren’t. This isn’t about becoming someone else.

Let 2017 be the year you become MORE of who you are, the year you grace the world with MORE of what you are here to express, and experience MORE of what it is you want.

What do you say?

Ready for more? I know I am.

 

*****************************************

Continue scrolling only if you want MORE…
Here’s a video invitation!

I’ve created three offerings to help you amplify your year of More…

Complimentary More Strategy Session

Your Year of More Day Retreat – January 14th, Dallas area.

Private 90-Day More Coaching Program

I Hate Vulnerability

 

vulnerability

It was a crossroads moment. I was feeling hurt. A few friends were planning a special get-together, and I couldn’t make it on the night in discussion, told them so, and hoped another date would thus be chosen. It wasn’t.

There they were… those sucky feelings from way-back-when. Even though I’ve “done the work”, they still live deep within, and sometimes, when triggered, they still show up. I know on a cerebral level that they are ancient, childhood wounds, I know they don’t apply to this situation. I know my friends love me. Yet, the hurt feelings were there.

At this crossroads, I thought of just sweeping my hurt under the carpet. God knows I’d had many years of practice doing this, it’s a most effective tactic. (NOT.) But I’m “good” at it. Or at least I used to be. I could put on my Tough Girl cape and plow through my hurt feelings and no one would be the wiser. And it would certainly be easier than my other option… Telling my friends my feelings were hurt. (UGH.)

This is how I know I am changing: I chose UGH, over “easy.” Instead of doing it the old way, I chose to reveal, to be vulnerable, to express what was alive and current for me, as messy and embarrassing as it felt to do so.  I did this because my friends challenge me to be brave. They support what is real and true, even if it is not easy or sweet, even if it is messy or ugly. And since I’ve been hanging with these particular folks, I’ve been learning to do this, too. They make me braver.

With the loving nudging of a friend, I swallowed my Tough-Girl pride (my name is Lisa and I’m a recovering Tough Girl.) I stopped pretending everything was okay, and I shared my hurt feelings with them. UGH. This happened more than a week ago and I still cringe. Because here’s the truth. I HATE VULNERABILITY. Not yours, of course, I think yours is super cool and beautiful and all that.

I hate MY vulnerability.

It’s sticky. And messy. And embarrassing. And I feel so… naked.

In vulnerable moments, my armpits sweat, my hands get clammy, my chest gets tight. I want to cry. (In fact, I did, in this instance. Double UGH.) I feel like a baby. I feel embarrassed. I want to hide. Once the reveal is made, I want to rewind.

Yet, more and more, I’m choosing it.

You know why? Because vulnerability is brave. Because I am becoming braver and braver, and ironically, that means becoming softer and softer, toward myself. It means letting the people that care about me know when I am hurting. Because hiding my feelings, sweeping them under a rug is no longer the “easier” choice. It’s becoming more difficult to pull that off. And because on the other side of a vulnerable moment, with the right people, there is deeper intimacy. And intimacy cannot happen without vulnerability. And because I want intimacy.

And, of course, these friends received my vulnerability with tenderness and openness. They didn’t stop loving me, in fact, maybe they even love me a little more, because of my vulnerability. They heard me, they explained scheduling challenges they were working with, they even expressed gratitude, for being let in to what was true for me. They were grateful for my vulnerability. And so was I.

So yeah, I hate vulnerability. And I love it, too.

What about you? Where can you be more vulnerable? Where in your life can you speak the truth, even though it’s messy and uncomfortable? Where and how can you be braver today than you were yesterday?

Maybe someday, I’ll write a blog called “I Love Vulnerability.” Not yet. But today, I can say this.  I’m willing to be vulnerable.

The Truth About Changing

p19a3cerqi1novcr51ejq1kvf1ikcc

“Nothing happens, and nothing happens, and then everything happens.”
– Fay Weldon

There’s a recent shifting, a new understanding in me that has basically turned my world on its head.

It’s challenged everything I thought about life, about change, about habits and healing. It has turned my business beliefs upside down, it’s shaken up my entire coaching practice and belief system, and yeah, it’s big.

And it’s so awesome. So liberating.

I feel an opening within me that has become bigger than me, I free-fall into it. I’m still not 100% sure how to integrate this new understanding into my business, and exactly how it will impact my life coaching practice, and my life in general. It is monumental.

I do know my work is becoming much richer with this new understanding,  much more loving, and compassionate, and effective.

Wanna know what it is? It’s this:

Everything is perfect. There is nothing to fix.

Your path is your path. Your unfolding is yours. There is no reason to force yourself into changing. In fact, it won’t work, if you are forcing it.

Having built my business on helping people change, as you can imagine, this is a game-changer.

Lately, I wonder if much of the self-improvement culture we live in today isn’t a bunch of bullshit. By our relentless pursuit of being “better”, we can never be enough.

If I witnessed a flower bud, and said “Flower bud, you are perfect, just the way you are. Don’t change!” would I stop it from blooming, at its own natural time? NO. It was designed to bloom.

If I witnessed a flower bud, and said “Flower bud, open. Open now. You were meant to bloom. Work harder. Push. COME ON! Why are you still a bud?” would it open any faster? NO.

Yes, it was designed to bloom. But at its own perfect pace.

Just like us.

Is an unopened bud any less perfect than an flower in bloom?

There is no forcing evolution. Evolution will not be forced. Emergence cannot be rushed. Blooming happens when its meant to. Not a minute before. Not a minute after.

The problem with much of our self-improvement thinking is that we are spinning our wheels, spending so much time, energy and money trying to shape ourselves into better versions, new and improved, always, relentlessly trying to change. Wondering why we can’t change. Wondering why we can’t shake this habit or that dependency. Frustrated as hell that we can’t reach that same goal we’ve had for 20 years, or that we haven’t succeeded manifesting our deepest desires and are still not the people we want to be.

We are missing the point.

And we are missing the perfection available to us in the present moment.

Am I saying don’t try? Of course not. Your desire, your intention, your trying is how you will get there, when the time is right, after all, but we also need to take into account the natural, organic ways we shift, when it’s time to shift.

We change when it’s time to change.

A caterpillar when it cocoons does not weave its humble abode around itself to cozily sprout wings and emerge all butterfly-beautiful, oooh! No. It’s a much uglier process than that.

The caterpillar first must deconstruct, actually deconstituting itself into black liquid. Caterpillar soup. From those cells, something new begins to take shape. But not without becoming complete mush before then. And here’s something new that I just learned… in that black soup process, the old cells fight the new cells.

While the new cells struggle and work to become butterfly, what is old, familiar, outdated is still struggling for survival. Can you relate?

When making the changes you want in your life, there will likely be struggle. It won’t be easy. Sometimes you will be fighting for your life. I’m not saying don’t fight, don’t work, don’t try.

I’m saying trust the process. Trust your own evolution.

I also know that you can’t crack open a cocoon anytime you want to set the butterfly free. I’ve learned the hard way, when I was 10. It was devastating and I felt like crap, I had destroyed the butterfly before it was even ready to be born, by trying to rush its perfect process.

So this is the great paradox… when you want to change, work at it. But know that if it’s not time for change, it won’t work.

Everything is perfect. Nothing needs fixing.

When it’s your time to let go, you will let go.

When it’s time to release old habits, you will be able to release them.

When it’s your time to make painful decisions, you’ll bravely make those decisions (not without being scared, don’t get me wrong. Bravery and fear are by no means exclusive of one another.)

When it’s time to leap, you will leap.

When it’s time to know, you will know.

When it’s time to crack out of your shell, you will fight for your life to break free.

And when it’s time to bloom, you will bloom.

Applying this level of acceptance and trust to my life and to the lives of those I care for and work with has been challenging at times.

We want what we want, and we want it now.

But luckily, becoming this new version of who I am brings with it the capacity to accept and trust life, on life’s terms, and I know, when it’s time… it’s time.

“The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
– Anais Nin

carnation-flower-pink-carnation-free-image-pink-bl-3809

I’ve made a huge decision.

12368988_10153396512383473_3584647267137377978_n

The word “decide” means, in its barest essence, “to kill.”

Think about it: Matricide. Genocide. Suicide. Homocide.

In order to choose the powerful decisions that will propel our lives, something else has to die.

I’ve made a huge decision, and I want to tell you about it.

But first, a quick back story.

I have spent many years of my career avoiding that thing they call “niche.” Ugh. There was so much that interested and intrigued me! I didn’t want to feel boxed in. I wanted the freedom to create and offer whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. And so I did.

I’ve coached and developed programs and facilitated workshops on pretty much all the topics, as they relate to me, to women. If I’m interested or inspired, I create a program. I write a blog. I teach a class.

If it was something I was into, I’d package it and offer it.

This “farm to table” approach to my business has definitely satisfied my craving for variety and freshness, but the plain fact of the matter is this…

I have watered down my own message.

I have watered down my life.

In my efforts to be all things to all women, I have diluted my very essence.

I finally realize, the more I water myself down, the less effective I am, in all areas. It’s time to shift.

What I’m about to share with you is vulnerable, and raw in the way that only deep truth can be. I feel a slight trembling in my stomach while I type. But I want you to know exactly what is going on. I feel like I owe that to you. We owe each other truth.

“The world owes us nothing. We owe each other the world.” – Ani DiFranco

2016 has offered me profound change in my inner world, and in the way I relate to my outer world.

Its also offered me deep, incredible healing opportunities.

And its offered me the chance to actually internalize the offerings I have spent years offering others, specifically around the topic of body image and self-esteem.

Wow, imagine that, huh? Wait, what?

The plain truth was that by diluting myself, I got away from my message, in my own life.

Even though a large part of what I have been doing has been focused on “selling positive body image for a living”, my own body image had become terrible.

See, the path to full-bodied love and acceptance doesn’t end when you get up and strip for a theater full of people. In fact, that’s only the beginning of the work, if you dare continue.

Positive body image was for everybody else, but not for me. Sure, I felt good sometimes, with the right lighting or outfit, but feeling bad about myself and my body was becoming more and more pervasive.

I was withholding from myself the very freedom I celebrated and inspired in others. Yeah, pretty effed up, right? Shameful, even. After all, I wasn’t “supposed” to have these kinds of issues! So I buried them deeply. And they festered.

Over the years, my inner world got dark. My self-esteem continued to sink. The inner chatter became nearly constant and very cruel.

But I discovered a fun and convenient way to shut down those mean voices, right under my nose.

I drank.

Having been a social drinker/weekend party girl all of my adult life, I noticed, without noticing, something cool happened when I was lit.

When under the influence, there were no insecurities, no cruel chatter, for a few hours every couple days, and more hours on the weekends, there was relief. I felt free. But that wasn’t freedom.

I now know, it was the opposite of freedom.

I wasn’t drinking to escape my life. My life was great, after all!

I was drinking to escape myself.

As my drinking began to escalate over the following year or so, so did the repercussions. Lots of hangovers, lots of shame. Lots of pain.

At the end of 2015, I decided to quit alcohol. And can you guess what happened? Yep. Those insecurities I had worked so hard to stifle were right there, waiting for me.

But now, I would finally deal with them, bravely.

Now, I was really ready to tackle this, to heal these patterns and wounds, for me.

This wouldn’t just be something I offered my clients. I would actually turn inward and offer this healing work to my most important client. Me.

And I can say, with humility, pride and deep gratitude, I know what real freedom is now. I’m living it.

It’s a winding path, bumpy at times, but I am 100% committed to staying on it.

Sometimes we have to test ourselves, our commitments. I dabbled this summer with being a “social drinker” again, after several months of abstinence. Yeah, the Great Moderation Experiment.

I decided relatively quickly that I needed to be sober— even better, I would rather be sober. I recommitted to this path. This path is current, it is now. So hot off the press, it’s not even off the press yet.

I am on it, I am in it, working fervently, facing myself in brave ways, examining my beliefs, patterns, triggers and self-talk like never before.

And simultaneously, my work in the world is preparing itself to become the most honest, brilliant and accurate reflection of the work happening within me.

There’s a new incarnation of my business gestating within me.

But first, more healing.

First, more purging, more clearing, more letting go.

First, some deciding. And decide means “to kill.”

As this new chapter of Lisa Carmen, LLC continues to gestate, I prepare, the way a mother does while she waits for the birth of her baby.

Uncertain of exactly what to expect, she is excited, nonetheless. She prepares the nursery. She clears clutter from the home. She nests. She nurtures herself.

And when it’s time to give birth, she knows.

I’m not there yet, but I promise, you will know when I am.

I know this will be the most personal work I have ever offered. I know it will be amazing.

To clear space for this new chapter, I’ve decided to let go of many of the programs and offerings I’ve spent much energy creating and offering.

You’re going to notice some events being canceled. You may notice my offerings lightening on the website and in my weekly Quickies.

I am pulling in my energies. I will no longer water myself down.

Be patient. Be kind. Be excited. Something great is coming.

Here’s what will continue:

  • The Burlesque Experience programs and Unleash Your Inner Bombshell workshops will remain, as is, with more being scheduled. I’m also growing my teaching team this fall, to be equipped to scale and schedule more classes.
  • Monthly Power Circles group coaching will continue through the end of 2016. If you bought a multi-session pass, use it or lose it, baby! (Or receive some credit for future stuff.)
  • My private, one-on-one life coaching programs will continue, exactly as they are, for the time being.
  • I will continue to take on new private clients. Current coaching clients will still have the opportunity to extend/continue after their terms are up.
  • The Embrace film screening is still on.
  • The October Goddess Getaway Retreat is still on! (Can’t wait!)

Pretty much everything else will be cleared away, to create a welcoming space for what’s to come.

This feels terrifying and exciting to share. (Many of you know, I have a word for that- TERRICITED!)

It also feels entirely, completely right.

I trust this stirring. I trust this healing. I trust this journey.

I look forward to our next adventure.

I hope you do, too.

 

**********

photo by Dee Hill, HAMU by Vivienne Vermuth

Inclement Weather Announcement

Inclement-weather-announcement-ROTATOR

I’m not sure if you clicked and opened this link because you usually do, or if the subject line piqued your curiosity, but either way, I’m glad you did. There’s something important I want to share.

When I worked at MoveStudio as Marketing Manager, I was responsible for the community email that went out to several thousand people each week. On average, our open statistics were par with industry averages, about 15 to 20%.

Unless there was inclement weather.

In  Dallas, when it snows or ices, the city basically shuts down. Schools, government agencies, businesses, everyone wants to know, what’s open, what’s closed. We burrow and watch the world fold into itself. I love this about Dallas. Coming from Chicago, driving to work through piles of snow and ice, it’s a relief that we just don’t do that here.

So here’s what’s fascinating. At MoveStudio, if we sent out an inclement weather studio closing email, our open statistics went through the roof. Even though, I guarantee, most of those opens were not people who had planned on coming that night.

Thousands of people wanted to read about our decision to close the studio for dangerous conditions outside. We typically had maybe 75 to 100 people walk through our door each night for yoga and dance classes. Not thousands.

Then our regular studio communications would resume, most people would go back to scrolling past our emails, just like the research shows, what most people do with most weekly emails.

Why was that? What could explain this strange phenomenon?

Although I haven’t worked for the studio in a few years, this curiosity always stuck with me.

And I realize, people love inclement weather closings. Whether they are affected by them personally or not.

This week, over lunch with my wise and perceptive dear friend, Jessica, a friend who is also in the helping profession, we talked about vulnerability, revealing our truth, admitting to our struggles and the impact these brave practices have on our businesses.

I wondered aloud, does vulnerability hurt my business?

I am certain there will be more opens on this post than my average.

I have also noticed I get the most click-throughs when I am revealing a struggle, a pain or a personal issue.

Why? Part of me wants to center the explanation around about people’s love for drama, that they actually enjoy watching someone struggle. That there’s a spectator in all of us that loves to grab the popcorn and watch the show.

The other part of me wonders if it’s something deeper.

The question of how vulnerability impacts my business has become increasingly relevant lately because I am learning more and more, to be vulnerable.

I am learning to reveal what is true, what is current, what is alive in me, and that isn’t always pretty, or comfortable, and it doesn’t always fit with the image people have of me, or the persona I have created.

I’ve been meditating on this lately, because it matters to me more than ever.

Do people love my inclement weather more than they love me?

Is it okay for my business if I reveal my own struggles, my own journey, my own humanity?

Will you still hire me to support you, if you know that I’m still working through my own shit?

Here’s what I think will happen, the more I reveal to you, the more I share my vulnerabilities and struggles with you…

Some, just a few hopefully, really do just want to watch me fall, with sadistic pleasure. These are the ones that revel in other people’s failures and struggles so that they can feel superior. In today’s lexicon, we call them “The Haters.”

Some will be disappointed, and withdraw or disengage, because I am not living up to whatever they were projecting onto me, and my human flaws and frailties and struggles become unappealing, in their search for a hero, an icon, a one-dimensional caricature of what they wish I was, projections of what they wish they were.

But, I want to believe, that some, hopefully you reading this, will draw closer to me, and my work, when they understand that I am always in process, just like them. And any projection of perfection or “having it all together” placed on me was one that they created, and that I perpetuated, (and the other way around) in order to feel safe.

They are the ones that might even breathe a sigh of relief, and they will feel a little less alone in their struggles.

I am a little nervous to find out which you are. No matter what, I’ll be okay.

If you find yourself in the last group, thank you. I’m glad you’re here.

Now let’s take care of one another.

Because I am in it, with you.

We are in this together.

I’ve been doing a hell of a lot of work this year, in supportive community and on my own. I told a group I’m in that I feel like I am dissolving. But really, upon more thought, I said: It’s my shellac. It’s crumbling off. This shiny protective covering I’ve worked so hard to maintain, it’s losing its hold. It’s becoming obsolete. I am no longer interested in presenting just that version of me to the world. There’s so much more under here.

But that’s scary. Terrifying even. And exhilarating, too. It’s a striptease of the soul. What if you don’t like what you see?

It’s not that what you’ve seen up til now, if you’ve been following my work, isn’t real. It’s simply that there’s so much more.

Just like you.

What do you show? What do you reveal? How do you decide?

This is how we do it: One truth at a time. One reveal. One vulnerable moment. One brave share at a time.

Let’s do this together. I’m committed.

So yeah, it’s getting’ real up in here. You have been warned.

Inclement weather perhaps? Maybe some. I’ll bring the flashlight. You bring the candles. Let’s take cover together, and ride out the storms.

Through it all, we’ll feel more alive, more connected, more real.

Are you with me?

The Truth About Truth

truth

It wasn’t so long ago that I felt, in most cases, it was safer to lie than to tell the truth.

Lies kept me safe. Secrets were my suit of armor. It was how I knew to live. Secrets and lies were my survival strategy, learned early and practiced to perfection.

This so-called survival strategy had also created a life of pain and separation. True intimacy was impossible, with myself or others.

My life was full of people, but I was alone, and in pain so deep and so familiar, it felt normal.

More than a decade ago, my therapist asked me: “What would it feel like to have a life without secrets?” I was stunned by his question, had never entertained the idea. It was almost absurd. Secrets were my second skin. My buffer between me and real intimacy. My “safe place.”

“Living a life without secrets would feel like walking around without skin.” I answered. The vulnerability, the rawness of living, speaking and choosing truth were so beyond my comprehension. Could I be that brave? That strong? Where to even begin?

Living your truth is not easy, nor is it for wimps or the faint-hearted. Living your truth requires you to do things that may shock or even hurt others.

Living your truth calls you, appoints you, assigns you to both large, radical acts of bravery and small, seemingly insignificant choices… ranging in depth and extremity from completely redesigning your life to sending your food back when it’s not cooked to your liking.

A truthful, authentic life does not happen all at once. It is more likely to be painstakingly constructed, choice by choice.

The biggest thing I had to do, in order to live my truth was the most painful thing I have ever done, and that was to leave a long, loving marriage and break up a family.

Who does that? I kept hearing, in my head, moving through the excruciating process.

Who does that? A woman finally determined to live her truth. A woman who is neither good or bad, or is maybe both, but is mostly a woman determined to experience her own wholeness.

What is truth calling you to do? Waiting for courage may have you waiting a lifetime. Wait not on courage. Sometimes it is only a breeze we need to step in the direction of courage, of our life of truth. Sometimes it takes a storm, sometimes an all-out tsunami. Courage is the reward we get, for taking these stands on our own behalf, along with power, with self-trust, self-esteem. Goddess energy.

I’ve taken many risks since that therapy session to speak, choose and live my truth. I am more committed to a life of truth than I ever thought possible. It’s not always easy. It’s sometimes painful and scary. But truth never fails. Truth always rewards. Always builds. Always heals.

Is your truth calling you to choose, speak or act on its behalf? The time is now. Step into your truth and you open up a new world within you, the universe responds, life becomes brighter, clearer, more real, more beautiful.

When you claim your reality and live your truth, everything changes, for the better.

And that is the truth about truth.

 

 

—————

 

Originally posted July 2013. Resharing with love, while I take some time to refuel from output-mode.