Be Present

Loss brings up all kinds of feelings and thoughts. Grief, the aftermath of loss, allows us to feel all those feelings and pull apart all those thoughts. There is always that wonderment, what if I knew that was the last time I talked to you, would I have said anything different? Have I said what I want others to know before it is too late for them to hear?

When loss happens suddenly, there is a feeling of wanting and needing more time, I didn’t get to say it all. When it is prolonged due to illness or injury, the question becomes different; we may have the time to say what we wanted and now we watch someone suffer through their last days. There really is no better or worse; there is different. One gives us time to share ourselves and allows someone to suffer; one does not give us that time to share and nobody goes through that suffering.

Living life in the present moment more, filled with love and gratitude, being open and honest with those we love allows us to share ourselves more openly and readily. Living in the present moment allows us to truly listen to what is being said, and what is not. Living in the present allows for pure love, joy and gratitude to guide us, not fear, lack, anxiety, worry or sadness.

Sharing ourselves with those we care about allows others to never question how we feel. We all have had or still have some in our lives whose actions and words do not match, we struggle to understand who we are to them, how they actually feel about us. Are we really friends or just when you need me? Are we family, or just at holidays? Do we say all we feel we want to say as if we may never get that chance again?

My parents and I had a great relationship and we shared a lot. My mom and I, especially, shared our deepest secrets, our deepest wants and wishes; there was nothing left unsaid between us. They knew how I felt and what I felt, they knew my love for them, they knew it all. Sometimes I wonder if everyone I love knows how I feel about them.

Sudden loss reminds you that those around you need to know how you feel, how much you appreciate them, how much you love and respect them; how grateful you are for them. Sudden loss reminds you that those you have been trying to keep in your life may have outlived their time in your life. Perhaps it is time to let some shit go, people, relationships, friendships even family relationships. Any loss allows for reflection on who you want around you and who you have outgrown, how you want to spend your time and how you do not.

I know for me, times of loss remind me that our time in this physical world is short and I want to make the most of this life; filled with love, adventure, contentment, peace and pleasure. I want to enjoy it all now. I want to be present for every minute I can be.

I am committing to a few things right here, right now. First, I commit to being present when I am with you, not scrolling my phone, watching videos, talking to other people, I will be present with each person. Next, I commit to ensuring that if I love you, you will know it by both actions and words. Third, I commit to boundaries where I decide what energy I let into my sphere and what energy I do not, and how much and for how long. Lastly, I commit to no longer chasing friendships, people who once said they loved me and were my friend and now cannot find the time of day to see or talk to me. I’m done with chasing anyone; I finally love me so much I am good alone!

Sudden loss changes your perspective; especially when the person is close to your age. You realize your humanness really does have a time limit and you are getting closer to it. Time is now to be your best version and gain a new perspective on life. Time is now to be present; to give those in your life as much of you as they deserve and always give you your fullest expression of you.

Be Present.

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A Walk Down Memory Lane…

One of my earliest memories was as an almost 5 year old little girl going to the hospital for surgery. I had a break in my stomach wall that my diaphragm was attempting to move through and needed to have it fixed surgically. My parents brought me to Albert Einstein Hospital in the Bronx for the surgery. I remember being there, I remember seeing the doctor, I remember being wheeled down the hall to the OR. I was just starting to go under and was crying for my mom. The nurse leaned over to tell me that my mom was right by my side and the nurse’s head was so distorted and large through my anesthetized eyes that I think I passed out! When I awoke in my room, my dad was standing there and a 4 foot multi-colored stuffed snake was wrapped around the track for the curtain around my bed. My parents knew how scared I was and stuffed animals always made me happy and felt safe. My mom was next to me as there was a cot there that she slept in. These were the days that parents got to stay with their kids if they wanted to, on a cot right next to the bed.

In order to get me home, the hospital recommended that my parents use an ambulance as I wasn’t supposed to be jostled much. I asked the ambulance driver if he would put the siren on as we went down my street. He did. I remember so vividly seeing out the back window of the ambulance and my friends on the block were all running down the street behind us. When we got to the driveway and my dad got me out, he stood me up on the porch and my neighbors/friends were standing there cheering that I was home and okay. For all the kids in the neighborhood, this was scary. They didn’t know if I would return, and they didn’t know what happened. I remember one friend asking me if they sowed up my belly button, since my scar was just above the belly button area.

I still can sense the feeling I had standing there seeing these beautiful faces of little kids, so happy to see me and have me home.

As I stood on that porch yesterday for the very last time, that memory flooded back to me. I can see Linda, John, Eddie, Robin and Rhonda, Kathy all standing on the driveway, sidewalk and street waving to me. As I stood on that porch, I remembered my high school boyfriend asking me to go steady and giving me his senior ring. I remembered how 7 years later he asked me to marry him on that porch. I remembered first grade boys sitting on my steps on a Sunday waiting for me to come out to play. I remembered all the different photos that were taken on the front lawn in front of the mimosa tree that my grandfather planted.

As I looked into the street, I could see the 20 kids on the block playing hide and seek and red-light/green-light. I could see the block parties and the 20 families on the block having fun and sharing love, food and games. I remembered the sledding down the hill. My mom always told my brothers to make sure I was safely between them in the sled train. Of course, that wasn’t her smartest comment since my brother Steve loved being last in the train, which put me second to last. I ended up in a lot of snow banks! I can still hear the laughter and the screams of delight.

I walked through each empty room in that house. Memories flooding me. Seeing my grandmother there for every important or what I thought was important moment; proms, dances, etc. I could see our dog Sparky lying right outside the kitchen door so he could see everything going on in the house and at the front door. I saw the 5 of us, my family, sitting around the kitchen table having dinner together just about every night of the week. I saw each niece and nephew being at the house, acting out plays, wearing my dance tutus, laughing, learning to play cards. I saw Sunday mornings when my mom and I would cook breakfast together for the family in what I called the “Sunshine Cafe.” I had menus, a shoebox cash register and took orders. Mom cooked. I saw us sitting together on my parents bed watching the first walk on the moon; watching the aftermath of both MLK and Robert Kennedy’s assassinations. I saw myself lying with my mom on her bed and watching Dallas and Falcon’s Crest on Friday evenings, sometimes with my nephew Jeff. I saw my last time lying on that bed with my mom, 9 days before she died, holding her hand and talking about life and love. That is one of my most treasured memories.

And the holidays. I saw Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners in our dining room, with Aunt Kit and Uncle Tony and my cousins there. I saw my dad’s family and Uncle Tony’s family there in the evening, as we all at turkey sandwiches and continued the party. I remembered New Year’s Eve celebrations when dad and Uncle Tony would drink enough that they would take bromo-seltzer and almost always get into some ridiculous argument.

I stood in the backyard and thought about the snow forts and games that were played back there. I saw the bar-b-cues and even the building of the patio. I remembered Eddie Walls and I jumping up on either side of the fence and having our first 5 year old kiss. Then of course we both got cooties and that was that!

I lived in that house for 23 years. I visited it for the next 37 years. I have loved the home and all it represents for me forever. For me, it represents family, unconditional love, deep connection and fun.

It is just a house. We, as a family, made it a home. But it was and is the only real home I have ever had. It is the only place I have ever felt that safe, that protected, that loved.

I do hope the new owners find that same feeling as they begin their lives on the best street to live! I carry my memories and all that love with me; a beautiful walk down memory lane for me.

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Bid Adieu to ’22

What a year it has been! 2022 was a year of tremendous transformation and growth for me. Most years, I know I look for what changed in me and around me. Most years, I know I look at whether I am closer to who I want to be, a version of me that I like better. A version that I am proud to be. Most years, there has been some change and some transformation that allows me to see that I like the person stepping into the next year better than the one from a year ago.

This year, I love this version stepping into the next year….really love. Finally.

As I have reflected on the year, I have really spent time thinking about what I wanted to be different, what changed during the year that I didn’t even realize could change and what didn’t.

Let me start with how I walked into 2022. For the first time, I hadn’t really come up with a word for the year. Each year for the past 5 or so, I have had a word that has anchored my vision for me for the year. It has been the bind that tied my intentions together and gave me something to really focus my attention, letting my energy flow where I needed and wanted. I had a lot of consternation walking into the year, a lot of confusion coming out of a year where my word was Soar. Soar wasn’t exactly what I did in the previous year. I flew a bit, maybe soared in some areas of my life but not in the way I had written out in my vision. Too many things got in my way. Too many feelings of unworthiness popped up for me to soar that year. I thought about using it again, and decided it really didn’t feel right. Soaring wasn’t the feeling I was really looking for at that moment. I do think my age began to play a part. What 60 year old soars! Maybe we fly a bit, but we are on the downward track of the roller coaster, heading toward a more sedate part of our lives. Or are we? Was I making myself older than I really am? Okay, soar didn’t sit right for 2022 so it wasn’t the word. A friend of mine suggested I use Love as my word. I gave that thought and I guess I would say I sort of did use it, even though it was never overt. It wasn’t used in my intentions for the year, however it was certainly part of my thinking as I approached life and situations. Love and compassion for me and others became words I would use as I worked through situations in the year. Times when I felt unworthy or deflated and gave myself the love, compassion and space I needed. Times when others needed my love and compassion and I gave it as freely as possible, sometimes better than others.

But, I really did not have a word for the year. I did, however, use how I felt and wanted to feel as my gauge for the year and for my intentions. That was one of the big reflections I had for 2022. I used my guiding life feelings to really shape how I responded to situations; how I approached my life this year. My guiding life feeling were joy, gratitude and limitless (changed from flow part of the way through the year when I re-wrote my vision based on new learnings.) Using these feelings allows us to check in with ourselves, when we aren’t feeling these ways, how can we infuse something to help us get there. I infused a lot of joy and gratitude in when I was not feeling it. That helped me to really stay true to who I was becoming. SHE is of joy and gratitude, love and service and SHE loves feeling that way.

Another big reflection for me was the changes I made to my fundamental belief structure to help me be in these feelings for the most part. Many of my old beliefs were about not being good enough and worthy enough so I had to prove it to myself and others. I had beliefs that I wouldn’t be loved if I didn’t do for others (even if that meant I sacrificed what I wanted to do). I believed that people would no longer love me and call me friend (or family for that matter) if I shared how I really felt about something or if they didn’t like what I was doing or saying. I always thought all of my relationships were fleeting, given two husbands lied about their feelings how could others really like or love me? Meaning, I wasn’t secure in any relationships, family or friendships. I saw them all as relationships that could end at any time. So I tried to please my way through them, doing what others wanted even when I didn’t want to. I worked at these beliefs, to change that underlying feeling of unworthiness and really embodying the new beliefs. My belief structure is much more aligned with the energy of me today. Beliefs no longer focus on what I think I need Burt instead focus on where I am. Life is perfect as it is, I do not need anything else. I am my own approval, nobody else gets to tell me what I’m doing is right or wrong, it is my life. I don’t need validation from others. Nobody gets to judge me, I don’t judge me. I approach life from a place of love and service; that belief I fully embody and have a while now. What others think of me is none of my business. This belief was a fundamental shift for me. I no longer look to others to approve me; what they think is not important. What I think about me is what is important.

All of these shifts in beliefs meant healing traumas, expanding my thinking and perspective and then growing from a place of learning.

Two other big shifts for me this year that stood out are about boundaries and needs versus desires. I don’t need anything. I don’t need a partner. I don’t need a ton of clients and big programs. I don’t need to be busy all of the time. I don’t need a new house. I don’t need to have some people in my life. I don’t need. What I do now is get fully in touch with what I desire. I desire companionship to travel. I desire clients who I can serve and help reach their desires. I desire calm and ease. I desire fun and playfulness. I desire a new place to call home that is aligned with me. I desire a deeper connection with the divine.

Boundaries was one of my biggest lessons and changes this year. In the past, I viewed boundaries as something I had to do to save my sanity. However it also created guilt for me; along with shame and some blame. I viewed it as boundaries to keep people and their energy away; to keep situations away from me that could upset my peace. I have learned this year that it can be much more fluid and less absolute. It isn’t about keeping anything out; it is about what I let in, and how much. I no longer view it as an all or nothing game. It is about what energy and how much of that energy I want in. That includes work energy, people energy, and that big BUSYNESS energy; you know the one that says I have to do everything and be everywhere even if I run myself ragged.

My boundaries are solely about what energy I let in and how much of it and when. I no longer feel any guilt as I protect my energy. I no longer feel any shame for not wanting to be around some energy that often. I now pick and choose how much and when I want the energy in my sphere. All of the shame and blame is gone for me. And because what others think is none of my business, if someone doesn’t like that I now have a boundary, oh well. People will need to look at themselves as honestly as I have to figure that out for themselves.

Lastly, the year showed me that I was capable of learning, capable of changing, that I still had things to heal and that healing really doesn’t end if you continue to do the deep personal growth work. We are always peeling back a layer and finding a deeper truth. As we heal, we can expand our perspective. New perspective allows for growth. Without growth, we stay the same, and what fun is that? I don’t want to feel the way I used to feel, always under pressure, always worrying about the next thing, always concerned that people will leave. Change, uncomfortable as it is, allows us to really be in touch with our deepest desires and then create the beliefs and feelings that embody those desires. We accelerate our growth to becoming our purest selves, the one we were meant to be before life threw us curveball after curveball.

Here is to great learning and transformation in 2022! As much as I love this version, 2023 promises another version that I know I will love even more, She is focused on allowing more; trusting myself and the universe more, surrendering control and the how more and most of all receiving. I have never felt comfortable receiving and although I have gotten better at it out of necessity, 2023 will be a year where I truly allow receivership.

Adieu to 2022! I hope your reflection is inspiring for you as well!

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The Magic

It is December 2022. The end of the year. The time of year filled with everything from excitement to worry, from a heavy sigh of relief to anxiety over what is to come, from regret and “shoulds” to vision and love! The magic of this time of year is that it is all of this and then some. If we sit in the disempowering feelings of regret, worry, anxiousness or “shoulds”, we miss the actual magic of this time of year.

I don’t mean magic, such as Santa showing up or finding the perfect gift, or getting just what you wanted. I am talking magic of the season, magic of ending a year and beginning a year, just pure magic. This season is filled with love, kindness, generosity, fun, compassion and gratitude if we allow. If we resist the magic, we will be filled with worry, anxiety, apathy, frustration and guilt.

How do we go about allowing the love when we have societal norms and ideal that we must give. To give gifts we may not be able to afford or that others really won’t appreciate. To give time when we feel strapped for time as it is. To give our love when we are feeling sadness, and hurt. We succumb to pressures even when we really do not want to, really do not feel like it. The pressure we place on ourselves to live up to these societal ideals, all in an effort to get some type of external validation; again something that we all have experienced throughout our lives.

Giving is a beautiful act and one that hopefully comes from a place of love, connection, kindness, and pureness. Not an act that has to be done. Receiving is also a beautiful act. Many of us are not good at receiving. Think of when you are paid a compliment, most of us immediately say something negative about the compliment. We don’t receive in the same way that we give. And yet, the magic is that we do both, and we do both fully, with love, connection, kindness and purity. Too often, we give so much that we have nothing left. Even though we could be receiving as well, we tend not to.

So, many of us then feel depleted this time of year. The time of year when we could be caught up in the magic, we are caught up in the hustle, and grind of the time of year. Don’t get me wrong, I do know that there are many of us out there who have to get a lot done for a lot of people and that can deplete. Have we allowed anyone who offered to help, to help us? Have we reached out for help? You may recall, 3 years ago I broke my wrist 2 weeks before Christmas and Hanukkah. I could not even open cat food cans for about a week let alone wrap all of the gifts that I had. I quickly realized I needed help and allowed it. People food shopped for me, wrapped my gifts, walked around my house and loosened every jar and can I could think of needing. I had people drop off food, and others just check on me. I received it all and allowed it all and experienced the magic of that holiday season, of that end of one year and beginning of another.

The magic of this time of year is in allowing. It is in the connection that allowing gives us. I knew I could not get to a few places that I needed gift cards for and I also knew that one of my besties daughters’ may be able to help me out. I reached out and asked if she could pick them up for me and she did. I then went to my besties house to pick up my merchandise, allowing for a connection with her and her hubby that I may not have had at this time. My allowing to be helped allowed for a quick visit with people I love.

The magic of allowing. The magic of love. The magic of connection. The magic of kindness. The magic of vision and creativity. The magic of pureness. All of this magic is tied up in the end of the year and the promise of a new year. Allow for all the magic. Allow.

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The Old House and the Ankle

The twinge in my right ankle began on Thursday. By Friday I could feel it twinge with each step, yet I kept going. On Saturday the pain was worse, the ankle began to swell and I needed to ice it every few hours. Yet, here I was going up and down the basement stairs bringing up heavy bins of holiday decorations for my house. As the pain grew, so did my questioning, “:what the heck did I do to cause my tendinitis to flare.” This hadn’t happened in quite a long time!

I recently learned a lot about Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) or Tapping. This is a way to move dense emotional energy out of our bodies and it works on physical pain as well. I began to tap so I could alleviate the pain and swelling, I had a football game to go to the next day! As I started tapping, the words coming from me were to alleviate the physical pain, focusing on the swelling and throbbing to lessen the pain from an 8 to something less. With each round though, I noticed that words coming up started to dip into emotions.

As I began the third round, I found myself beginning to understand what was truly happening with my emotions and my body. I found myself saying that my foundation had been rocked as we put our childhood home on the market to sell. It was then that it all hit me. The house went on the market on Thursday, the first twinge day. This represents, for me, losing the only family I have ever had. The deep, loving connection of the family I grew up in, the family that I love more than I ever realized. The family I miss more than I ever can say. The childhood I enjoyed, reveled in the connection.

Now it made sense to me. The root chakra, which is the base of the spine and includes your extremities, is where all of this emotion was sitting. My fears of losing this house and thus losing that family were front and center as I tapped. I realized that I was reacting to that fear through my body. My body was holding all of that emotion for me, keeping me in place, not able to move forward.

As I tapped, I began to bring myself to a new found feeling around this change. That a new family could find the deep love and connection that we had as a family and that our home deserved that. It had served us as a family well, and it was time for a new family to experience the best block you could grow up on with a home you could grow into beautifully.

It took until Monday for my ankle to really feel completely better. I also felt the lightening of the emotional pressure, realizing that I was ready to let go of the house, knowing the family was in my heart. The house was the physical representation of the only family I have ever really had. The only family I was truly connected to and a family that always had my back. Growing up with my Aunt and Uncle and cousins 3 houses away made it an even bigger family; as I said once, it was 5 children raised by 4 adults.

This is the heaviness I was carrying, thinking that by losing the house, I lost the family. That family doesn’t exist per se anymore, with my parents and one brother gone, but the family exists in my heart. It still is the only family I have ever felt completely safe in, completely loved no matter what I did.

Selling the house doesn’t change that , and I always knew that, however emotionally, I was stuck. I was struggling to let go. Going through the tapping at this time allowed me to change that story; to understand that I was allowing someone new to love the street, the park, the playground, the property and the house.

I have found that when you allow yourself to feel what you need to feel and understand it, you can move through it and change the story around it. It is the feeling it that many of by-pass. Feeling to healing is the only way to really release the energy.

The old house is selling and the ankle is fine, as is my heart. I am ready to have someone new love our old house, and I am ready to hold my family in my heart; knowing that I was and always will be loved by that family.

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Forgiveness…

“I forgive but I don’t forget,” was said to me recently as a friend was recounting a story. The statement has been said often and people believe that is what they do, forgive but not forget. As I continue to heal wounds and traumas, understanding the behavior that I want to change, the ways of being that no longer serve who I am becoming, I wonder more about this statement.

When I forgive and not forget, what does that do to me and my forgiveness? Does it release that disempowering emotion that was activated by another’s behavior? Or by keeping the person’s behavior or action in mind, do I continue to feel resentment. This can be tricky. I know that what someone did may have hurt me, something someone said may have hurt me or someone else, and forgiving and forgetting feels as if I will allow them to do it again. That resentment grows, and if we are going to resent this person, we are going to find more things that they do offensive to us, or validating that behavior. This, for me, continues to be like a bug inside of me, every now and again creating a fury that is out of place. This resentment growing inside doesn’t allow me to free myself from the pain, it seems to create more pain.

One of the major tenants of forgiving people, even if they don’t apologize or ask for forgiveness, is that we need the forgiveness for ourselves. We need to be able to let go of and disconnect from the feelings of anger, disappointment, hurt and distrust. This allows us to free ourselves of those low-frequency emotions and bring joy and gratitude back into our life. The more I consider forgiving and not forgetting, the more I believe that those feelings of anger and disappointment will remain inside. The more I decide to let go of the issue, the more I find peace and gratitude inside.

The way I have found to help me forgive and release all of those disempowering emotions is through the Ho’oponopono prayer. Ho’oponopono is an ancient Hawaiian spiritual practice that involves learning to heal all things by accepting “Total Responsibility” for everything that surrounds us – confession, repentance, and reconciliation. This means we understand that we are connected to everyone and everything and therefore we accept our responsibility in any situation. This allows us to truly cleanse ourselves and forgive and forget. Release all of that anger, disappointment, resentment and hurt. We also know through this that the individual who may have hurt us, is responsible for whatever they did or said; again we are connected to all.

The prayer is powerful for cleansing one’s body for forgiveness, reflection, repentance, gratitude, and revealed emotions. It is simple, and we repeat it for anywhere from 5 to 10 rounds and see how we feel afterwards. It is 4 steps:

  1. I’m sorry. (reflection)
  2. Please forgive me. (repentance)
  3. Thank you. (gratitude)
  4. I love you. (revealed emotions)

Of course, our continued responsibility here is to also ensure that we don’t let that happen again. Either we have a good conversation with that individual and ensure that they understand how their behavior effected us; or we let it go; or we decide that the person’s energy is no longer welcome in our sphere; or we limit their energy in our sphere.

Using this spiritual practice allows us to shift our energy around the situation, allowing us to truly free ourselves of resentment, anger and disappointment.

Try it, see what you feel after using it. Forgiveness, of others and ourselves allows us to move forward and not rehash the same thing over and over again.

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Why Isn’t It Ever A Fallen Man?

Promiscuous. Sex out of wedlock. Sex worker. Fallen. Don’t marry her. How many lovers has she had? She isn’t pure. Stay away from that type of woman.

Hmmm, notice a trend there? It is always about the woman. The woman is fallen, the man is experienced. A woman is promiscuous, a man has needs. A woman should wear a chastity belt, a man has to show his manliness through conquering the woman. A woman needs to watch what she wears so she doesn’t tempt the man, the man is not responsible, she should have said no.

These comments can go on and on. It is always the woman. And this is far from new. This has been hundreds of years of women seen as impure and not worthy if they let their desires come first. Why isn’t the man ever seen as a fallen man? Why isn’t a man who has sex out of wedlock not seen as fallen? Why isn’t a man concerned about what he wears? How he acts?

It will never be a fallen man, when the patriarchy created the rules of the game and the game itself. As long as a woman is seen as an object of desire and not an equal partner, it will never be about the man. As long as the woman is considered the weaker sex, it will never be about the man. As long as we allow it to continue, it will never be about the man.

Yesterday, I had the great fortune to see La Traviata at the Met. It was wonderful! The music, the voices, the set, the story all grabbed you. It is a story many of us know and in some cases (as my one friend stated) we could have written the script. It is the story of a “fallen woman” who falls in love, only to have her lover’s father convince her she is not good enough for him, she is not worthy of the son. As I thought about this story, I kept coming back to the parallels of life. Woman are always seen as the one who must stay pure, who cannot behave in a way that would make her seem, I don’t know, human maybe.

We have beating hearts and hormones as well. We have desires as well. We have conformed to the premise that for a woman it is a fall from grace and reputation to give into her desires, the man is a virile man if he does. We have also conformed to a premise that a man’s career is more important, a man is the king of his castle.

I was not raised that way. My parents were definitely equals, my mom worked full time once I was in high school, although she never had the career she wanted. Her focus with me was to be independent, especially in terms of not being dependent on a man. My career was important. My planning on what I wanted out of life was important.

I know my blog is not going to change all of these centuries of seeing woman this way, my hope is always that it sparks a thought or two. As we stand on the precipice of a potential nationwide ban on abortion, we should be asking, why is it the woman who is being targeted? Why is it the woman who is being criminalized? Why isn’t the man responsible being criminalized? Why aren’t we trying to regulate a man’s healthcare and not the woman’s? The man can impregnate every woman he is with, a woman cannot. The man doesn’t seem to hear the word no, the woman is slandered because of what she wore. Young girls are being sent home from school because they may be dressed in a way that makes the boys lose their focus. That should not be the girls responsibility.

I am, very obviously, pro-choice. I don’t believe anyone has a right to tell someone what to do with their body. But if we are going to do so, how about we tell the boys and men what to do with their bodies. How about if we start to treat young men who have had sex with the same venom and slander that we treat women? In high school, the girls are considered sluts if they have had sex. The boys are “now a man!” and celebrated! Why can’t we change this idea of fallen?

Why isn’t it ever a fallen man?

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Filled with Love…

Have you ever witnessed a moment so beautiful and filled with love, it brings you to tears? A moment where you wish the entire world was next to you witnessing this pure, innocent, natural love. A moment where you think, if everyone had a heart like this we would live in an amazing world filled with peace, harmony and community.

We have all been witness to the beautiful moments in our lives. And many of us could name them and they would be big events, births, adoptions, graduations, weddings, surprises! These are beautiful moments in our lives filled with bliss and love. Then there are the small events, that we could miss if we aren’t astute to the love and purity of the moment. Yesterday, I witnessed a moment filled with pure love, friendship and care that blew me away.

My niece Kristina has a large group of friends who do a lot together, she has a bigger social life than I do! They bowl together, play soccer, bocci ball, go to the movies, play softball, and go to dances together often. They love going to Great Adventure, an amusement park, especially during Fright Fest, but really it is all year round! Many of these young adults have been friends for many years, the parents have become friends and they even allow me to join a lot of their fun! And they all have some developmental disability, they are not typical of their age. Some communicate well, some do not, and they are all filled with such joy when they are together. They may not have the ability to understand complex issues, but they have so much more heart than others!

Yesterday was Kristina’s birthday. For her birthday, she and a large group of her friends went to Great Adventure to go on rides and see how it was decorated for Fright Fest. Then they all went out to dinner, where others who did not make it to the amusement park met them, along with many of the parents. At dinner, my niece asked everyone to go around the table and talk about what they liked about her, similar to how I ask everyone at Thanksgiving to talk about what they are grateful and thankful for this year.

As each person spoke, you could hear, see and feel the love. One young lady spoke about how my niece gives her great advice and is a wonderful friend. One spoke about how he feels like her brother, always have each other’s back. One spoke about how much fun she was and how she was more like family than a friend. There were one or two who don’t talk much, who talked about Kristina with such love and care, you know she is very special to them. None of these were rehearsed. All of them were so pure and from the heart. There were tears, and a lot of hugs.

Every comment felt authentic, nothing forced, nothing from a selfish space, all from love. It reminded me of the love that fills us all and how many of us have let life’s circumstances turn our primary feelings to jealousy, worry, comparison, judgment, impatience, frustrations, doubt, instead of love. It reminded me that when you are coming from a place of love, there is no comparison, there is no judgment. A place of love allows us to accept people for who they are and nothing more or less. We have no expectations and therefore cannot be let down. We have no motivation except to love, never to hurt.

Being there yesterday and witnessing the love that 16 people had for my niece made my heart swell. To see her revel in the love that surrounds her and see her feel it through her words, and her tears was more beautiful than I could ever describe. The room was filled with pure love, the way we should all be celebrated in this world.

We could all learn a lot about life and ourselves if we spent a few hours with people who may be developmentally different. The biggest difference I have witnessed in the time I spend with people who are not typical is the inability to think in terms of hurting someone, having to be right versus wrong, needing to feel more powerful than someone else. They are not ego-driven at all, they are pure of spirit and soul and driven solely by love and the desire to be included.

Being this filled with love is an amazing way to live your life. We could all learn a few things from being with people who are pure of heart and soul. Today, I challenge us all to be filled with love, not judgment, not victim, not blaming, not worry, not fear, just love. Look at life through a lens of pure love and see how different your day may be.

Filled with love, that is my niece and today, that is me.

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Invisible

Have you ever felt invisible? Not seen? Ignored? As a woman in corporate, that definitely happened. I would make a statement, an observation, and nobody really responded. Then one of the men would say the same thing and everyone would jump on it as a great idea. You became numb to it after a while. It seems to happen more and more as we get older. At least my experience and that of some other women I have spoken with seems to suggest that being seen is becoming rare.

If I do not sit at a bar or counter and am seated alone at a table in a restaurant, it definitely takes longer to be served, if you are seen at all. I have walked out more than once because nobody even acknowledged me after 10 to 15 minutes. Just acknowledge me, that can’t happen if you aren’t seen. If you are invisible.

What makes us invisible? As a woman who is aging, I think some may question what we can contribute. I think very often, from a romantic standpoint, men are looking to enhance their virility, so an older woman isn’t going to do it, they tend to look younger. Men look right past me very often. There was a time, 20 years ago yes, that I could connect eyes across a room and that would be all that was needed to start a conversation. Today, I sometimes say something (albeit I think it may be witty, and it may not be), and I am completely ignored, as if I am not even there. A friend of mine, who is just shy of 70 and very attractive, has joined this trend of letting her hair naturally gray. She said she is now completely invisible to men.

And as I think about all of this, I wonder if older men feel this as well. I wonder if they also feel invisible; do they think women don’t see them. Is it ageism and sexism playing into this feeling or is it cultural? Is it that older people are seen as less than, and unattractive so they aren’t considered important any longer or is it that culturally we are about staying young looking. Using Botox, coloring hair, whatever trends there are to stay looking younger. If you look older, you are discarded. You become invisible.

The wisdom that fills an older woman should make her the most wanted human on the planet. We know what we want and will ask for it. We are wise, kind, compassionate and passionate. We want to impact the world and feel vibrant. We begin to care less and less about what is trendy and more about what we love. That energy feels so good, it feels magnetic. And yet, we have become invisible.

I wonder if part of that feeling of invisibility is our own doing. Is it our confidence that wanes because we don’t look or feel like we did 20 years ago. I remember listening to my mom not believe me when I told her she looked beautiful because she looked in the mirror and saw old. She didn’t see the beautiful younger version of herself and therefore lost some confidence. Is it that loss of confidence that plays into being invisible? Are we so stunned by our changes that we hide?

Being invisible does not allow us to live our life with impact, with love and with abandon. Let’s focus on who we are at this point of our lives and not what we look like any longer. I, for one, love this version of me. I have more of a sense of what is important, I honor my boundaries, say no when I want to without concern that people will no longer love me. I know what energy I will let into my life and what I will not, and I stick with it. I don’t let in half of what I used to let in. I make my decisions based on what I want in my life and not what others think I should do. In fact, the last decision I made that wasn’t aligned with me was done because a friend kept telling me it was a great decision. Once I thought about it, I knew it wasn’t aligned with me and I was doing it because they thought it was good. I changed that decision and made the pact with myself at that moment that will not happen again. I am my own approval. I will do what I want that is aligned with me and my big, beautiful vision of me and my life and other’s approval or opinion has no bearing.

Perhaps looking at it differently than invisibility is the way to go. Perhaps we are just too much for some people when we are our biggest unapologetic expression of ourselves. And that is on them not us. I know I will no longer make myself smaller to make others feel good about themselves. That was done all too often in corporate America as a woman. It was done in my marriages and in some of my friendships. Becoming a less than version of me so someone else feels better about them, no longer.

Perhaps it is invisible, perhaps it is not. Either way, go out there and be the biggest, most amazing expression of you!!

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Who is Leading?

How often do you hear yourself saying, “that’s just the way I am?” “I am a control freak, that’s just the way I am;” or “I suck at technology, that’s just the way I am;” or “I am disorganized, that’s just the way I am.” Then there are the other comments we make about ourselves, “I am not thin enough,” “I am not smart enough,” “I am always right (or wrong)”. These comments are the labels that we create very often for ourselves. These labels are sometimes given to us by others or we inherit. I inherited all the negative comments I say about myself, my looks and my brains (or lack thereof) from my mom. I loved her more than life itself, and I heard all of her self-talk and absorbed it as my own.

Labels are a construct that actually limits us. If I believe I am a control freak, will I ever give up control and see what could happen? If I believe I am disorganized, will I ever be organized? If I believe I am not smart enough, will I even try? If I believe I am always right (or wrong), will I ever listen to someone else’s point and learn? Labels cause us to stop growing, stop learning, stop being who we are used to being and becoming the next level amazing version we can be.

When our self-talk is limiting and shitty, we are in such judgement of ourselves. We identify ourselves with these low-frequency thinking that we would never bestow on our best friend, or our sister, our daughter or our mother. We would not allow people we love to speak about themselves with this depth of judgment, but we use it almost as a badge of honor. Look at how hard I am on myself!

Very often, this voice of judgement is leading us. This voice is going to lead us to make small decisions, similar to the ones we have always made and keep us right where we are in life. If that is what we want, great! But don’t we want a bigger, more bodacious life with greater joy and love in it than our current reality? We have this big beautiful vision of what our life could be, will these judgements get us there? What decisions are going to be helpful from a place of judgment and negativity? I know I make small decisions from this place. I don’t make the big, fun, exciting decisions from a place of judgment. I keep myself small, I keep my life small.

Don’t we deserve to make decisions about our life from a place of wisdom? Making our decisions from a level of energy that says the Universe is supporting me, there is no failure. There is no mistake that can be made, every decisions allows me to grow and learn. Taking a chance and having some fun with it means letting the voice of wisdom, our personal fan club, lead us. Using our self-talk and labels to advance us, build us up, remind us just how worthy we are allows us to move into the life we have been dreaming of.

Having self-talk that focuses us on where we are heading in our life, who we are becoming instead of who we have been will open us up to all kinds of exciting opportunities. Wouldn’t we all rather live in the mindset of “I am worthy”, “I am enough”, “I am amazing as I am” versus all the negative and restrictive labels and talk we give ourselves?

Let your fan club lead. The self talk that identifies you as amazing, as confident, as worthy, as beautiful, as calm, as the best version of you. That leads us to a new, more exciting life, a life that no longer sits in judgment of ourselves or others. A life that reminds us that we have so much to give, so much love to share.

Who is leading you today?

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