Do you know why I used to find de-cluttering tough? Because I felt I was throwing out little bits of me. Do you know why I now find it easier? Because I know that’s not true. Let me back up a little ….. Looking back, I think I used to identify myself through my […]
Some of the verses hit me almost viscerally, they speak so powerfully to truths that have been emerging in my life recently. So I will share a couple of them. Perhaps they will resonate with you as well.
It is easier to try
to be better
than you are
than to be
who you are.
-From a chapter entitled “Beyond Perfection & Duty.” (page 67)
has slower rhythms,
moves in spirals,
turns back on herself,
finds what is meaningful to her,
-from a chapter entitled “Conscious Femininity.” (page 147)
Wow. Mind blown. I am trying not to rush through reading this book, which is designed and written as a series of daily reflections. But it hard not to continue more quickly when I find some deep resonances for me.
This is the power of beautiful writing that has deep resonance with soul. It is like an internal connection is made, a “click” into our inner wholeness that fits things into place.
Hope you have a great week, friends. May you find those words that speak the wisdom you need today.
I took the plunge yesterday and went much shorter on the hair. My stylist told me it takes a strong woman to pull off short hair effectively. I like that. I am going to rock the short hair. It is a symbolic way for me to “signal” the changes to my work colleagues, since I will be seeing several on my team next week in Belgium.
I have decided to come out of “hiding” here on the blog as well, since I aim to integrate the work and personal worlds I inhabit, gradually, at a pace that works for me.
About 8 years ago, I was going through another big life transition and was not as attentive or focused at work as I strive to be. I felt burned out and my boss was blithely dumping more work onto an already full plate. I had no sense of boundaries or how to say no. I had not yet learned how to communicate my distress effectively, to ask for help or to push back.
In addition to that, I had moved out of the home where I had been living for a few years with my partner and his children (part-time, as they also spent time with their mother). I had not yet grieved the loss of that life, even though my soul was relieved that I had left.
Perceiving my lack of commitment and energy for a few weeks during my move, my boss asked me what was wrong and suspected there was something outside of work bothering me. In fact there was, and I explained to her (in a vague way) what was going on. Instead of having empathy and giving me some understanding about my need to heal, she put me on a performance improvement plan.
For those who do not know, this is code for “you’d better shape up and get into gear or you will get fired.” The letter she gave to me outlined the ways in which I needed to improve my work within 90 days or I may be terminated. It was a shock to me. I was also bitter about the fact that she seemed to use the personal information I shared with her against me.
Looking back there are many other ways to interpret her actions. But it was the time I began walling off parts of my professional life from my personal life, as much as I could. I had been “hiding” my a.d.d. from her as well, even though I had seen it as an asset to the position, my flexibility in catching whatever was tossed my way, up to a point.
I gathered my energy, went to see an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) counselor at my workplace, and tried to figure out how I was going to make this work. He helped me see that I was suffering from a minor depression and that I needed to take more proactive steps to communicate with my boss on the work overload. He explained that managers at this workplace like it when employees come to them with potential solutions, not just problems.
He helped me figure out more effective ways to communicate, rather than the passive-aggressive (i.e. Minnesotan) tactic I had been using to push back. He also referred me to the book The Chemistry of Joy, by Dr. Henry Emmons, which helped me proactively manage my depression through both Western and Eastern wisdom. Wow, am I ever grateful for his support and help.
I worked my ass off to get out of the PIP. Even though my boss was not yet thrilled with my work, she said I had improved substantially. It was not until the year after that, when we hired a second person to help with the growing workload, that she really appreciated my skills. It was really hard to find someone who knew clinical research and who was also bilingual! We were not just a dime a dozen. She began treating me differently and better, appreciating my unique constellation of skills.
For the past three years I have held (and rocked) the manager position that she left when she opted to go to a different department. I am a better boss because of that experience, even though it was hellish at the time. I want to come “out of hiding” with my struggles because I want others to know you can get through tough times and come out on the other side. It is important to find support, and to realize you are not alone.
You will get through it, and you will develop amazing resilience in the process. Peace and love, readers.
One of my favorite meditations from Insight Timer is by Anna Guest-Jelly called “May I Know What I Know.” It involves a body scan in which we are moved through body starting with the feet, and moving to each region. After the exercise, we consider if there are any places we could not feel, that may have been “offline” from our awareness, so to speak.
The more I practice this body awareness and deliberately tune into places in the body that may be mysterious, the more I tune into emotions. Sometimes I realize why there are “frozen” parts – those emotions may be difficult ones, like grief or anger. I am still learning to feel those emotions all the way through, and sit with them. It is an exercise in compassion and patience to realize I have habitually escaped those feelings, or pushed them under with distraction, food, or other buffers (like busy-ness) rather than to be still with them.
But now that I realize these feelings are an important emotional compass for me, I have begun to “invite myself back” more often. I tune into that channel – my gut, my shoulders, my back, sometimes my lower spine, when they are trying to tell me something. Rather than get lost in thought, and spinning mental energy, I aim to come back to the body, invite my whole self back.
This tendency to abandon the body and thus abandon ourselves is well-supported by our culture. Feeling our emotions and tuning into our intuition is seen as fluffy or woo-woo in many circles. But as I do it more, and acknowledge the times when I have buried my needs and wants in favor of pleasing other people, it gives me pause.
Women are well-conditioned to attending to others’ needs and taking care of partners, children, bosses, teammates, even parents sometimes. But we do not always attend to our own bodies, our own yearnings. I inadvertently learned in my family that we could (and perhaps should) ignore these needs in favor of taking care of others. This abandonment does not serve us long-term though.
Even the airlines tell us to put on our own mask before helping others. Inviting ourselves back can feel like a radical act of rebellion against patriarchy. It asks us to make everyone else comfortable, and to remain small and and of service, never demanding anything for ourselves. And yes, I think it is patriarchy that promotes this idea of the “good daughter” and it is one we must dismantle.
When we invite ourselves back, we ground ourselves in our truth. We allow ourselves to live in greater harmony with nature, and with our bodies, part of nature. We begin to understand the connected nature of all people, of all parts of the universe. We feel compassion for ourselves and for others in their struggles. We make different choices that are more sustainable for ourselves and thus can serve others with a spirit of generosity rather than resentment.
Inviting ourselves back means we have to set appropriate boundaries and say no to things that do not align with our purpose or intention. That can be very hard for those of us who were trained to say “yes” to everything we are asked to do. We can be perceived as “uppity” or trouble-makers, or not those nice girls we used to be.
It is a daily practice, inviting ourselves back. It does not simply happen one day, and then all things change. It is a daily choice, a habit that grows easier with regular practice. If we want to make sustainable change in the world, I believe it is non-negotiable. The world needs our whole and integrated selves. Our souls call for this as well.
Consider inviting yourself back today and centering on what your body is telling you. I would love to know how this changes or decisions and your results.
Have you ever had a realization about something in your life that was so obvious that you cannot believe you did not see it before?
This happened to me as I was preparing my coaching homework for this week. We had uncovered my “martyr” tendency in my last session 2 weeks ago. I was asked to pay attention to those times when the martyr’s voice came up, and what the voice sounds like. As it turns out, it was a combination of parental voices.
You know those voices?
They are the ones that you usually realize, maybe expressions your parents used to use, or things they used to say. I think parents of young children start to realize they have internalized the parental voice in their patterns and unconscious responses to their children. Some people who are really aware (and have perhaps been to therapy) realize this and say: oh goodness! I’m turning into my Dad! (or Mom).
When I considered where my Catholic-seeming inappropriate guilt came from, considering I was not raised Catholic, I realized that my name is Cristy. That means: follower of Christ. Oh dear. I was named after the ultimate martyr of the Catholic and Christian faith. Also named after my Mom who has a variation of that name.
Oh well. I come by the martyr complex honestly. My parents named me after all. I didn’t choose the name. I only chose to retain the behavior. To protect to privacy of the innocent, I leave it at that for now.
What is in a name? Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet?
For me, as a feminist woman and someone who did not change my name in my first marriage or in my second (and final) recent marriage, I never even considered changing my name. I don’t like the tradition of treating a woman as an “owned” object – first belonging to her father and then belonging to her husband, with the label stuck on for each occasion.
Pardon me while I get out this little airplane barf bag…
Hopefully most women of my generation are past that kind of thing, right?
No offense if you didn’t like your name, and your husband’s name was more unique so you changed it. If you are a Smith or a Jones, perhaps changing the name was a good idea. I won’t judge. It’s your choice these days, after all. I have fantasized about having a name that is a symbol. I love it that Prince became “the artist formerly known as…” That is true innovation.
I want a symbol! What is a symbol for mexi-minnesotana? I’m gonna copyright it… any of you graphic artist out there want to design something for me? Maybe I’ll start a contest. I have been thinking about how to brand my site, but I digress.
My Mexican last name has become more a part of my professional trademark in the past decade. I work for a division of the company that serves patients in Latin America. Even though my pale Swedish ancestor skin hides part of my heritage, when people see my last name, they become aware of the possible Latina origin. When they hear my Spanish, they are usually confused. Good accent. Questionable grammar. Where the heck are you from?
In any case, it was a big light bulb going on to realize I don’t need “crucify myself” or taken on a savior/rescuer role my whole life. I may need to adopt a different name or at least a different voice from Mary the Martyr. She has good intentions, but I need to evolve her behavior for a bit.
The cosmic joke has not been lost on me. Now that I am aware of it, at least I can reign the martyr complex in a little more deliberately.
Happy Friday, peeps! Hope my U.S. friends have adjusted to the time change by now, and all of you, have a fabulous weekend!
Yesterday afternoon I wrote a post in advance, then “scheduled” it so I could read it in the morning, edit and publish. Apparently WordPress ate the 700 word post. Oops. I have no idea how that happened. But spending a lot of time trying to recover a lost document is a waste. It’s best just to get started on the next one without a lot of drama or delay.
This morning I will meet with a VP for our Corporate Science and Technology division at work, my director’s boss. He has been a career mentor for me, and my director has encouraged me to meet with him once a quarter as I figure out my next move.
I am typically anxious about what to wear to such meetings.
My work “costume” has been evolving a lot in the past year or two. I already wrote about “grown up clothes” in a previous post. I had always read that you should dress for the position to which you aspire, or at least a level up, not necessarily the position you have. In corporate leadership functions at my company, that typically means for women dresses and heels.
As someone more comfortable in jeans and t-shirt, that was a transition for me. But I embraced my feminine side and realized that dresses are actually more comfortable than pants most of the time. A friend of mine likes to say they as comfy as pajamas but people actually think you look nice! She’s right about that, except during Minnesota winter, when they just seem stupid when your legs and feet are cold for the sake of fashion.
Work clothing can be a kind of “armor” we put on in the morning, to convey a sense of authority or power. As long as we feel comfortable with what we wear, and it does not “clash” with our sense of ourselves, I think it can enhance our confidence. Fake it until you become it, as Amy Cuddy says in her Ted Talk. A few wonder woman poses before a big event will not hurt either. Your body language may speak even more highly than your clothing, so it is worth being mindful of how comfortable you feel and what you project.
I realize that what I project at work does not really capture authentically who I am, and I am trying to figure out if I can bridge that gap. My husband bought me riding chaps last year before our summer motorcycle trip around Lake Superior. A friend teased me about it because he thought of chaps as a sex fetish thing. But hubby likes to say “dress for the slide, not the ride.” I know that my work colleagues would probably be shocked to see me dressed in jeans, chaps, and a black motorcycle jacket. It definitely does not alight with my work costume or the image I have sought to project at work.
At the same time, the motorcycle gear “costume” expresses my desire for freedom and for being engaged with the world in a different way. In a very practical sense, it is safety gear. And it is also represents a different part of my identity that is not something I feel comfortable bringing to work.
As I write this, I also know that the mask I wear as part of my work costume is getting a little old and tired as well. Having to feign enthusiasm for a job that is “over and done” for me in a fundamental way takes a lot of energy. It is not something I can do for much longer.
I believe that when we bring our whole, authentic selves to work we excel and produce our best work. Maybe there is room for that in my corporation, and maybe not. It is worth speaking up about my real feelings and thoughts to see if this is met with acceptance or with rejection. Either way, I will know whether I might find some other place in the organization or whether I need to move on.