I recently opened up my email and read the words;
We’re so glad you’re here.
After reviewing over a thousand submissions, we’ve selected 50 of the most influential, engaged, and enthusiastic fans of O, The Oprah Magazine to join O Mag Insiders: The Inner Circle of O for the next year – and you’re one of them."
Of course my initial reaction was to question the validity of the email. It is not everyday that O Magazine reaches out!
"After reviewing over a thousand submissions?" Did I submit something? What is this? I am often times forgetful... but how could I forget something that I would be so happy to be chosen for.
Rule number one in manifesting anything is to keep it in your thoughts so as to stamp it in your subconscious, right?
Next, you would then place that item on your vision board (or in my case book) and glance at it daily, setting the intention.
Finally you would (actually, maybe just I would do this) visualize it happening on my morning beach walks.
None of this had taken place. I had not taken part in the manifestation of this amazing opportunity, or had I?
I began by thinking back the the moment I had applied for this position. I have since traced it back to my yearly mammogram appointment last November. These appointments can be stressful for me as I lost my mother to breast cancer 22 plus years ago. I often have to wait hours for the Doctor to read my film results and take extra photos when and if there is anything questionable that comes up. And so I make an annual day of it! I travel the 1 1/2 hour drive from Cape Cod to Boston, stop at Starbucks on the way and splurge on a Venti nonfat latte, visit my favorite TJMaxx store and meander the isles for a bit, and finally listen to my favorite Adele cd while winding my way through the infamous Boston expressway traffic.
When I arrive at my mammogram appointment I am always asked to fill out a few forms (all 100 of them) because "they are updating their system, yet again!
Next, I am escorted into a cubicle where I am given directions to disrobe from the waste up and wrap myself in the most lovely, sterile, non fashionable gown one could ever imagine. Every year in this very moment, I begin mentally creating a business plan around fashionable mammogram appointment wear.... yet I never follow through with that plan.
I then join the other twenty or so other women waiting their turn to be squished and prodded by the mammogram machine. Each patient looking a bit nervous under the surface, yet doing their best to stay busy by reading the lobby magazines.
It is always awkward in this waiting room. No one ever smiles or talks to each other. For an extrovert such as myself, it is torture. I still smile, yet I keep my comments to myself, as that is always the tone in this waiting room. It is almost as if there's a sign on the wall that reads, "Shhh, please be quiet, the women in this room would like to left alone at this time".
So I quietly read the magazines. When another woman is reading one that interests me, I watch her like a hawk. I wait for her to finish and before she puts it back on the coffee table, I swoop in and snatch it out of mid air and simply nod in a gesture of gratitude, continuing to follow the "keep it quiet" rules.
That is exactly when this O-pportunity began. They say that great things come from awful experiences (or something like that) and this was my great thing! I grabbed the copy of O Magazine and began reading it from front to back.
When I saw the advertisement or casting call for #OMagInsiders I was all in! I pulled my phone out of my purse and immediately began filling out the application. Ah, its all coming back to me.
I love the upbeat, positive messages that O Magazine exemplifies. It simply makes me feel good to read it each month. That is a great thing for sure! That is part of any good manifestation plan, one which I forgot to mention earlier. You must feel good about something, really good about it. So I guess that is how I manifested my year long OMaginsider adventure...I feel really good about it, and I will be sharing this positivity with all of you along the way!
"One message at just the right moment can change someone's entire day, outlook, life!" That is what simple acts of kindness have the power to do. It's what our world needs most right now, and if we all contribute in our own little way...we can create a ripple effect that makes a positive impact❤️ #omaginsiders
Time waits for no one...
Slow it down, take it down a notch, pay attention to the moments rather then lumping them into time frames. Beauty is all around us yet often times we are rushing and rarely stop to reflect and be mindful. The thing is, that is the 🔑 to joy and inner peace. THAT is where the insight lies that you must tap into to live your best life. In that stillness you will be able to hear your inner guidance... it's been trying to get your attention but there's too much noise, things are moving way too fast and it's desperately trying to get your attention. Take the time and simply listen...deeply listen. What you will uncover is your true self full of intent and purpose.
I've got my OWN back...one woman's journey!
It has been three years since I abruptly sold my business and set out on an unexpected journey of self-discovery. And what a wild three years it has been. So much so that I have created a personal # for this period of my life #IvegotmyOWNback !
In 2014, I had had it! I felt as if I were living a lie. To the outside world, I was successful, accomplished and happy. I only know this because that is what people would say to me in casual conversation, "you have accomplished so much" or "It's amazing how successful your business has become”, “You must be so proud". These conversations revealed a great disconnect with the way things seemed from the way things were in my life. Thankfully this made me acutely aware that something was wrong. I realized that my life had become out of balance. And what does one do when their life becomes unbalanced? We try to fix the problem by overcompensating. This overcompensation plan backfired (as it so often does) thus, creating the equivalent of a full-blown midlife crisis. There was a lot of confusion, resentment, sadness and bloating. To be honest, there was a lot of bloating!
I think that was what woke me up, all of that puffiness and overcompensating... It was exhausting and uncomfortable!
It's easy to lose yourself in the midst of remaining busy and rushed all the time. It gives one a false sense of being important or something. It’s a life controlled by ego. Appearing important and feeling important are two completely different things. I realized that I needed to appear less and feel more, however this transition was not an easy one to make. In fact, there are no directions for such a transition. And there are no YouTube video's because that would be too damn easy, wouldn't it?
The entire process seemed confusing. It was like packing up my suitcase for a trip with all the items I thought I would need for an unknown destination.
I no longer resonated with the woman I had become, and I had lost sight of my younger self who was filled with goals and dreams. I realized in that moment that I needed to make a major life change and selling the business I had built over the prior twelve years was my answer.
So, that was what I did. I sold my business without a plan. All that I knew was that I was starting over. My so-called plan consisted of simply taking a leap of faith and figuring out my landing gear on the way down. Some would call this foolish, I found the process to be exciting. I began by remaining open to new opportunities and viewing my days as adventurous rather than tedious. It worked... I had become curious about life again.
Three years have gone by and each day I am rediscovering new things about myself. This long lost “me” seems foreign yet so familiar. It is like reconnecting with a childhood best friend after many years have passed by. All I want to do is to sit with her and catch up, to hear all about her travels. I want to embrace her imperfections and laugh with her about her insecurities.
I begin each day by telling her how much I have missed her company, that I have always felt her presence and that I am sorry for any distance I put between us over the years. She and I have picked up right where we left off so many years ago, when I decided that pleasing others was more important than remaining friends with her. She waited patiently for me, and for that I am forever grateful. I will not waste another moment worrying about what others think, or creating unrealistic expectations, rather she and I will continue to collaborate to help others #gettheirOWNback.
Here’s the thing about a shitstorm. Most of the time we don’t even see it brewing. We are minding our own business and wham, just like that unpredictable car accident that blindsides us from out of nowhere, we are left unprotected, out of sorts and reeling. “What just happened?” “ If I only knew this was going to happen, I would have…”. What would you have done? Would you have prepared? What if there was no preparing? What if the shitstorm simply included you in its path as a result of your relationship with another person, or you were at the wrong place at the wrong time? Then what?
Most of the time we are taken by surprise by life’s shitstorms, rarely are they ever planned.
That is because the situation most often involves another person, place or thing. As a result, we are at a loss of control over the situation. We immediately react by going into a state of shock and disbelief. This shock can take on many forms such as denial, sadness, embarrassment, fear, anxiety,or outright anger. Our physical sensations let us know we are under attack from our emotions.
Our stomach begins feeling nauseous, our faces become flush, our palms become sweaty and our hearts race. Many times we don’t even recognize these physical sensations because we are stuck in our heads, and detach from our bodies. We lose our mind-body connection. Our thoughts begin to hijack us, creating all sorts of judgements and assumptions about the situation. We begin to make up stories, dramatic stories, with villains, plot twists and tragic endings. Our subconscious kicks in and conjures up all of the horrible things that have ever happened to us. We may also begin to franetically flip through our mental roladex for the stories we’ve heard about someone else who has miraculously lived to tell their horrific tale. We begin to lose sight of the present moment. Our adrenaline overpowers us and subjugates reason.
The amygdala, or the almond shaped bundle of neurons buried deep in our brains, sends out danger messages or cautioning signals to other parts of the brain. We are on full alert.
As a result of having experienced shitstorms in the past our amygdala thinks it knows exactly what to do. It sounds the alarm, prepares for attack and creates the armour that it thinks we need. This is completely understandable, since we haven’t had time to prepare for the attack.
How do we respond rather than react?
To respond means to be in touch with or to answer to something. To react means to act in opposition or against some force. Their definitions are diametric. So if you wish to remain present in the shitstorm, free from all of the overwhelming negative feelings, you must first choose to respond rather than react. Because reacting is giving in to our emotions without reason leading to a loss of control. When we respond, we add meaning behind our actions. Responding is guided less by emotion and more by logic. When we do this, we are able to logically come up with a reasonable plan of action. Sounds easy doesn’t it? Well, it is anything but easy. In fact it takes a fair amount of self control.
How to make the mindful difference in Responding Rather Than Reacting
Become Aware: First you must notice and become aware that you are in a stressful situation that is escallating and that you actually have a choice
Breathe & Get Grounded: Anything that helps you get in your body and out of your head. Consciously taking big deep breaths is probably the easiest and most direct way to bring you back to the present moment and get you back into your body.
Big Picture Thinking or Take A Panaramic View: Take a moment to think about how this specific situation alters your overall wellbeing. This should make it easier to respond. This helps you eliminate perceived threats by placing a space between the situation and an overall perspective.
Ask yourself, Am I responding or reacting? This can be grounding and create greater perspective. Notice when you are overanalysing! We all do it, we make judgements and assumptions by overthinking the situation.
Pause & Think in context. Always consider the context – what is happening and how can this teach me. What is the lesson behind this situation.
Recognize choices. Often reacting comes when you don’t know or think you don’t have any other option. When you realize that you always have choices, you can remember to consider them and the consequences they may bring before moving forward.
Seek Understanding: When other people are involved, try to imagine walking in their shoes. Eliminate any assumptions you have created and listen more, talk less.
....book will be published 2018...stay tuned
Last night I came down with something. I felt a bit nauseous and lightheaded. And because my youngest daughter had just concluded her bought with the dreaded stomach bug the day before, one would suspect that I could possibly have contracted it. Unfortunately, this was not the case.
You may not understand the “unfortunate” part of this. Let me explain.
I had just finished putting away the dinner dishes and had settled down into my favorite cozy chair with a cup of tea when I made, what I now believe, was a poor decision. I picked up my cell phone and began mindlessly scrolling through social media. My intention was to relax and connect with friends, however, this is not what happened. Rather quite the opposite.
You see, I have deluded myself into believing that I connect with others when I visit with them on Facebook. Now let’s get something straight here, this is not visiting with someone, but rather becoming a voyeur of someone through a computer screen.
To visit with someone that person must actually be present. To become a Voyeur means to secretly watch another, and isn’t that the platform Facebook provides? So rather than connecting with friends on social media we are actually disconnecting. It provides the false belief that we have reached out to them by simply clicking a like button.
Our “friends” create a snapshot of a moment in time in their day with a posted image. This snapshot, more often than not, is premeditated or chosen as a shareable moment. One which they choose to share to express themselves in the way in which they wish to be perceived. We all wish to be perceived in the best light... to be liked.
Perception vs. Reality
So here’s the thing, As a result of spending more time on social media, I have found myself feeling more disconnected from friends, and more connected with unfavorable feelings about myself and the people around me. You see, I can’t help comparing, judging and making assumptions about people.
I know I am not alone here.
At times, social media makes me feel better about myself and my life and at other times it makes me feel much worse. There is hardly an in between. The ego navigates each post through a comparative lens and reacts accordingly. Just then, that exhausting voice in our heads begins to speak louder and louder and drown out reality and reason. We then become disconnected from ourselves.
This is a mindless process. Meaning, we begin to lose our sense of reality through numbing escape mechanisms. Unfortunately, this leaves many of us feeling of separate, like we do not belong. Often times, we don’t even realize this is happening. We are too consumed with our habit that we lose our sense of being. We are no longer present, rather lost in thought surrounded in comparison. We begin to feel sad and left out and anxious about how where we fit in.
“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
― Lao Tzu
Post- “pardon me” Depression
So on this particular evening, while mindlessly scrolling through social media, I received a private message from a “friend”. This message was sent with the best intentions, as pointed out by the sender. She was alerting me that someone had publicly posted strong negative opinions about my work. My friend expressed to me that she wished to remain anonymous but felt she needed to tell me what was going on and that the post, in her opinion, was in poor taste.
In response, I immediately went into “fight or flight” mode.
“The fight-or-flight response (also called hyperarousal, or the acute stress response) is a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival.” Wikipedia
Thanks to the deep breath I instinctively took, I was able to keep myself from heading in either direction. I remained present in the moment.
I then thanked my “friend” for sharing and scrolled over to the scene of the crime. My first instinct, was to turn away, but much like stumbling upon an accident scene on the highway, I just had to look. Even though I knew that once I “looked” I would be unable to shake the image from my mind.
It is always difficult to shake these images from our minds.
I proceeded with caution, assuring myself that I could handle it. Just a quick peek was all I needed. My curiosity had gotten the best of me. And just like that, there it was. The troubling photoshopped images created by the person mocking my work leapt off the screen at me as if they were created in 3D. I began to feel nauseous. The blood rushed from my face and I felt lightheaded.
This was definitely not the stomach bug. I was having a physical reaction to this negative experience.
And yet, against my better judgement I continued to scroll through the post and read the handful of hurtful comments supportive to the page’s administrator. It was like watching a bully and her accomplices on the school playground intimidating the nerdy kid who quietly wanted to be left alone. But the bully felt obliged to attack someone, and on this particular day, in this very moment, my work represented that nerd and had become the recipient of this person's hostility.
Due to the fact that this person and I have numerous mutual “friends” on Facebook, I began curiously scrolling through the likes. Had any of my “friends” “liked” this post? How could anyone actually “like” a post such as this? And where were the playground monitors? How could this be happening? I became extremely curious.
Recess is now Over back to the classroom
I understand that this world is comprised of many people who differ in opinion. That difference in opinion is actually what our country was built upon. I actually enjoy learning from people who have a difference in opinion, there is knowledge to be uncovered in our differences. However, when a difference in opinion becomes an irrational one sided attack, launched in an irresponsible manner, I stop listening.
Here’s where the learning truly begins. There are great lessons in difficult situations. Like treasures buried deep beneath the bullshit. I mean the earth, that sometimes is covered in bullshit, especially if you live on a farm that raises bulls. Anyways beneath it all there lies the truth. A simple truth.
And just like that...
The phone rings, and we receive word that one of my daughters best friends has just lost her mother. She passed away unexpectedly today.
This news brings us back to the present moment, and connects us all to the truth. The only thing that truly matters is love through acceptance.
Lately I have been re-reading some of my all time favorite books. Ok, re-listening to them, as I must admit that I am an avid audiobook listener. I look forward to my morning walks for this purpose. I can’t wait to lace up my sneakers, fill my pockets with kindness rocks throw on my cold weather walking gear and hit the beach. There is something deeply restorative surrounding my morning routine. It could be the solitude, the fresh salt air or the inspiration I find in the books I listen to. I believe it’s the alchemy of all three.
What is alchemy you may ask? Well ironically it's the title of my all time favorite book, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I highly recommend reading it, or in my case, listening to it. It's a story of a young shepherd boy in search of his personal legend, finding his purpose in life and fulfilling his dream. Isn’t that the journey we are all on? It’s beautifully written, full of insight and interesting characters, and if you download the audio version, it is read by Jeremy Irons, BONUS!
The dictionary.com definition of alchemy is “any magical power or process of transmuting a common substance,usually of little value, into a substance of great value.”
In my life, alchemy is found within the little synchronicities that occur each day leaving me with great insight towards the direction I should move in. Beautifully summed up by Jen Sincero in her book You are a Badass, “Coincidence is God’s way of staying anonymous”. I love that quote.
Such synchronicities, coincidences or God winks are like breadcrumbs along life’s path. These breadcrumbs always lead me back to where I need to be. Unless a wild animal, aka a negative person or situation in my life, gets there first and eats them, thus leaving me lost in the woods, unsure of myself, and without a sense of direction. That sometimes happens. Let me rephrase that, sometimes I allow that to happen to me.
These were the times I was truly disconnected to my self, to others and to the life that I was meant to live. Trust me, Disconnection is a frustrating and lonely place. Maybe you too are familiar with it.
Lao Tzu wrote,
“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
The alchemy of it all is that connection leads to peace. To be connected we must start by remaining present. I begin each day, by connecting with positive messages found in inspiring books. Next, I connect with myself by turning off that audiobook when I reach the beach and I begin to walk mindfully. Meaning, keeping my thoughts clear. When I begin to think about past events, I return my focus to my breath which brings me back to the present moment, clear from thought. This process is much like meditation, but with my eyes open while walking. Meditation is typically done in a seated position with your eyes closed. However, mediation can take many forms, and this is how I incorporate it in my day.
More often than not, I find my thoughts focussed on my todo list.. Lao Tzu would call this being in a state of anxiety. I would agree 100%. Lao Tzu really knew his stuff.
So once again, I let those thoughts dissipate like the waves. In that still moment, I am flooded with great insight. This is not the place or time to use my breadcrumb analogy, as the beach is full of seagulls waiting for that random piece of bread to appear so they can dive bomb me, pick it up, poop on my head and fly away. Oh the irony in it all.
So if I did use that analogy, and that actually happened, would I allow that to ruin my day? Would I stand in the middle of the beach, angry and annoyed unable to continue, or would I laugh out loud and carry on? It would seem ridiculous for me to allow an angry bird to ruin my walk...day….life...wouldn’t it?
Today, I use that image of a seagull every time I come across an angry or aggressive person in my life. And, trust me, there’s a lot of seagulls where I live. I now choose rocks as my trail of breadcrumbs and I leave some along the way for others to follow. Seagulls aren’t attracted to kindness rocks so I think I have found a solution for all of us.
So If you happen to find one of my rocks, either on the beaches of Cape Cod or on social media. Let that rock be a reminder for you to remain present. If you relate with the message, may it become a positive catalyst for that deeper personal connection you may be seeking. My hope is that each and every time you come across one it will remind you that you too have a personal legend to fulfill.
Today I sit down to write a tribute to my dear friend Ed Reynolds. I did not plan on writing about loss today, however this article is calling me to write it. My thoughts are swirling around and I am not able to complete any chores or even go on my daily walk. This is my priority today, on the day we pay tribute to and bury this honorable man. Ed was buried with full military honors at the National Cemetery in Bourne. A beautiful tribute to a dear neighbor who touched my life, and the lives of many others.
I met Ed and Irene in 1996 when my husband and I purchased our first home together on Covey Drive in Yarmouthport. It was a simple house under bank ownership but situated in an adorable neighborhood full of friendly people. What the house lacked in aesthetics, the neighbors made up for in kindness. Houses can be fixed up, people often times cannot. So that became our first home where we would start our family twenty years ago.
Ed and Irene were a sweet older couple who never had children of their own. I believe that certain people are brought into your life for a reason, and I was truly blessed that Ed and Irene fell into that category. They entered my life at a pivotal time. My mother was in the late stages of her cancer and would soon succumb to her battle. Irene became a mother figure offering her support and compassion. She showed kindness in the most simple ways... ways that had a huge impact on my life.
Each day, Ed and Irene would pay me a visit at 3:00 in the afternoon to take my daughter molly for a walk in the stroller. At the time I was pregnant with my second child and really needed the break. Like really needed the break! I became pregnant with Maggie, our second child, just 4 months after giving birth to Molly. I was exhausted, hormonal and I missed my mother deeply at that time. That thirty minute daily break became my life saver. Not only did I look forward to it for self care reasons, but Molly would be loved and cared for deeply by this wonderful couple. To this day, I believe that God brought them into my life, yet at the same time, he brought us into theirs, for similar reasons. Their grandparent instincts kicked right in, and they cherished their time with my children. For that I am forever grateful.
Life goes by so quickly, and today is one of those moments where the memories flood my mind. I find myself laughing and crying all at once. I am emotionally exhausted, yet all I feel is love for having known them.
I thought today I would feel differently, badly, because I have a confession to make.
Although I sit on the Board of Directors for Flower Angels. A beautiful nonprofit who's sole mission is to visit the forgotten lonely people in nursing homes. I could not visit Ed. This was something I distressed about often yet I could not pull myself together to visit with and sit by his side.
After Irene’s death, I visited Ed frequently in his home and brought him dinners, and sat and reminisced. Once his health began to decline, my urge to visit him also declined. This was something I felt ashamed of and I was horrified at my behavior. How could I care so much about the strangers in the nursing homes yet secretly stay away from the one person I knew residing in one? All I can say is that, something inside would not allow me to visit him. I could not see Ed in such a vulnerable state, alone and waiting to reunite with Irene. I had experienced great loss before, having lost my parents, and did not feel strong enough to go through the long process again.
When I heard that Ed had passed, I phoned his nephew to offer my condolences. I apologized for not being there for Ed his last year of life, and I felt awkward in my reasoning. He graciously absolved any guilt I had, as if he reached through the phone and hugged me. I felt a sense of comfort in our conversation and he explained to me that Ed had spent the last year of his life with alzheimer's and was unaware of the people around him. The last time I had visited with Ed, I noticed our repetitive conversations, but did not realize that shortly after that visit he would not remember his life or any of the people in it.
Today is a turning point in my life. I choose to release any guilt or regrets that I have been holding on to. Ed would want it that way. I would rather spend today and every day going forward focussing on all of the wonderful memories. I am grateful for those.
As we were walking away from his grave today, one of our former neighbors said, “I was not a good neighbor, and this makes me feel badly” I quickly replied, “You did your best, what you could, when you could, and we all could have been better, right? That’s life, but it's how we move forward that matters”. It was so easy for me to offer such wisdom to a stranger, wisdom I carried home with me today.
At the end of the funeral, two young soldiers meticulously folded the American Flag that draped Ed’s casket. They carefully paid attention to each and every moment of the process, not to make any mistakes, so that the flag would be perfectly folded in tribute and handed to the family with honor.
Before handing the flag to Ed’s nephew, the first soldier ran his fingers slowly across the flags surface, as if he were compassionately caressing Ed’s cheek, and then he lovingly cradled the flag and held it up against his heart. He handed the flag to the second soldier and he lovingly handed it to Ed's nephew and thanked him for his service to our country. It was the most beautiful moment I have witnessed in my entire life. A final act of love and kindness for a wonderful man.
Ed would want each and every person who attended his funeral, or his life, to carry on with love and kindness for others and for ourselves. Regret is no way to honor someone. Rest in Peace my dear friend, until we meet again.
As a child, I recall this time of year as being full of wonder and excitement leading up to Christmas. I spent hours writing and rewriting my lengthy Christmas list, getting lost in the process. I would describe it as more like a free for all list. Anything and everything that came to mind made that list, whether I wanted it or I saw a commercial on television telling me I needed it.
At the time, I saw nothing wrong with the process of asking for everything I wanted. Wasn’t that the point of the Christmas list? I recall my mother rolling her eyes at me as I licked the envelope to Santa. My excitement was unbearable and my mother's anxiety was obvious.
Growing up, my family struggled a bit financially. It wasn’t something we talked about openly, it was just a silent reality. Much like carbon dioxide, you know it exists but you don’t think about it or discuss it until the alarm goes off when there’s an emergency.
The heat in our house was always turned down low and we were handed blankets to stay warm when we complained. Our cars were most often outdated with high mileage, partially because that was what my parents could afford, and partially because my father “did not derive his identity by the car he drove”. My parents did their best to shield my sisters and me from our financial reality. We lived comfortably uncomfortable. They worked hard, really hard and provided my sisters and I with a wonderful childhood, especially at Christmas time.
My memories are vivid. Waking up on Christmas morning was the best day of the year. My mother spent way too much money and provided a “wow factor” like no other. Our faux tree sat in the middle of the room surrounded by hundreds of gifts, both wrapped and unwrapped. (The Santa gifts arrived unwrapped). A tradition I carry on to this day. Our tree was always dwarfed by the expansive array of gifts that were stacked behind, beneath, and beside it. I remember my father's expression, as if he was scolding my mother with his eyes. His eyes said, “what the hell did you do?” and her glance shot back at him, “be quiet and simply enjoy the day” My sisters and I spent half the morning gleefully unwrapping all of the gifts.
Our Christmases were a time filled with love. One of my most vivid memories I have of growing up when my whole family truly enjoyed each other's company. It was a magical time.
Today, I’m the mother rolling her eyes at my daughters. They are no longer young children with lists filled with toys, rather, they are young ladies with lists filled with expensive wants.. All of the items that I would put on my list if I were bold enough to make one. They too believe that the point of a Christmas list to to throw up on paper everything and anything that exists in your mind. A purging of desires, i guess you would say. They are really good at it, too good.
Despite all of my anxiety around gift buying during the holidays. I truly love being able to provide them with some things they really want. Key word here is “some”. My decision of what to buy them resembles the college decision making process. We start with every and any college that slightly interests them in any way. Then we begin to take away some of the choices based on distance or difficulty to get to, and finally, we use the pricetag as the deciding factor of which college they will attend. It’s exactly that same process when it comes to choosing what gift to buy for my girls. It is a true process.
Ultimately, everyone ends up at the right college, and with the right gift under the tree. If not, there’s always swapping. Life is funny that way.
My Father used to sing the words from the Rolling Stones Song to me:
"You can't always get what you want, you can't always get what you want, you can't always get what you want, but you get what you need!"
So much has happened in thirty years. How do I even start to begin a conversation with someone I haven’t spoken to in three decades? How do I conversationally cover all of the really important events that have formed the woman I am today? I am not the same person I was in High school. Not even close. To be honest, I don’t even think I had any idea who I was in High school.
High school was a time when I hid among the crowd. For me, standing out as an individual was something I avoided. I wanted to blend in with my friends so as not to be seen. I found great comfort in that invisible place. I was part of a whole. Literally and figuratively.
God, I wish I knew then what I know now. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy that time in my life, but I really could have enjoyed it so much more If I had cared less. Cared less about what other people thought of me. Cared less about offending anyone or crossing any imaginary social lines. Looking back, it all seems so ridiculous. At the time, it was anything but. I recall high school as a time filled with hormones, acne, anxiety, vulnerability and emotional drama.
On the few occasions I found the courage to stand up for something I believed in I found myself feeling lonely.
Back then, being alone was anything but comfortable. One of my earliest memories of this was when I was in sixth grade. There was a bully in our school, who I’ll refer to as Don. Don was an early bloomer. He was bigger, stronger and hairier than all of the other boys in our grade. Don used to chase a boy named Chip around the school yard on a daily basis. Chip was scrawny, and physically different than most boys his age. Chip realized this and didn’t much care about fitting in, he knew he was different and owned it despite other kids making fun of him. But I sense Chips mother had a difficult time getting him on the bus each morning for school. Who would want to endure pain and name calling day in and day out.
Each day at recess, Don would torment Chip. He would chase him around the school yard and when he caught Chip he would attack him with cutting words and jabbing fists. Everyone felt uncomfortable and knew that this was not ok. But few of us ever intervened.
I was a chubby kid. When I was in preschool it was cute, but as I got older, I wanted to be anything but chubby. Chubby meant different than everyone else. Chubby meant I would definitely be teased. Today, I wonder if that is why I spend so many years trying to blend in and not get noticed.
Until the day that I demanded that Don stopped bullying Chip. Don had been relentless and I felt I could no longer remain a bystander, so I decided to stand up for Chip. I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do, however my head advised otherwise. “If you do that, watch out...Don will turn on you and it won't’ be pretty”.
I remember the moment I yelled out to Don to “stop”. He turned his head in my direction and glared at me. “What did you say?” “I said, stop, jerk” and all I can recall is that my head was right. It was not pretty. Don turned on me.
The vulnerability and shame I experienced in that moment seemed unbearable at the time. None of my friends dared to side with me out of fear. This is a memory I carry with me to this day. Which is weird because I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday.
This was a transformative moment in my adolescence, and not in a good way.
Much like the groundhog on groundhogs day, that day cast a shadow that would make me retreat back into my hole. A hole filled with insecurity. I would have to wait another twenty or so years to gain the courage to come back out and ignore any shadows that awaited me.
Part of me would rather put on my pajamas and head back into the turkey coma I have been in since yesterday and catch the reunions highlights on Facebook in the morning.
That is the part of me I have spent many years working on. When I begin to notice that I am in retreat mode. I choose courage.
I choose to go despite any negative thoughts or anxiety I may be feeling about reconnecting with strangers. That’s right, strangers. I bet I will be meeting most of the people at my reunion tonight for the first time. Many of them had similar experiences.It’s all part of growing up.
They are not the same person today that they were thirty years ago. Not even close. That is why my excitement grows as I write this piece about my reunion. I can’t wait to meet the people my classmates have become. I will attend my re-union tonight free from assumptions and pre-judgements about the people I once “thought I knew”. I will greet them all with new eyes and curiosity. I can only hope that they come with similar intentions. But I am not attached to any outcome. I will simply be present truly present and have a good time.
48 was really great...Ok, Fine... now I’m 49!
Today was a typical day, or was it? I woke up, packed my daughters lunch for school, poured myself a cup of coffee and headed out the door. I had a lot to accomplish on my to do list, and I was motivated and excited to get going on them. As a result, perhaps I was a bit less present than normal.
My morning seemed routine enough. There were no surprises, no strange variations to the morning commute. The only thing that seemed notably different was the weather. The car thermostat read 37 degrees. It was cold, really cold! The final leaves are hanging on for dear life like young children clinging to their mothers after being dropped off for the first day of preschool. When did that happen? I thought to myself. It seemed like just yesterday it was 60 degrees and the landscape resembled a colorful Salvador Dali painting comprised of magnificent hues of orange, yellow and red. Today, they looked baren. Even the Osprey’s have vacated their intricately woven nests in search of a warmer climate.
You see, that’s what happens when you are not paying attention.
Birds migration habits seem peculiarly abbreviated
A year of your life seems to go by in the blink of an eye
When I arrived home, I continued with my morning routine. I bundled up and headed out on my walk. And that is when it hit me. It really hit me. Along with the blast of cold weather came the awareness that change was in the air, literally.
This would be the last morning that I woke up as a 48 year old woman. Tomorrow I turn 49.
As I often do while walking the beach, I began to reflect. How would I summarize my 48th year of life? What memories do I hold onto? First of all, I began to feel a sense of calmness and gratitude. I shall begin with that...
Here’s the list of items that I am grateful for this year:
*My strong, beautiful daughters who have matured in ways I would never have imagined
*My supportive husband who allows me to follow my dreams, no matter how strange they may seem, he gets me!
*My dedication to self improvement, and those who have greatly inspired me over this past year
*My heightened awareness and understanding that I have worked on day in and day out
*Feeling comfortable in my own skin….this is always a process, this year I feel it!
*Winding down...and gearing up all at once
*New amazing people who have entered my circle...my tribe
*Inspiration I find everywhere, synchronicities, and messages that I have opened myself up to and knowing where they originate from
*feeling fearless, what will be will be
*Curiosity, Karma and the law of attraction
*Frozen chocolate covered bananas
*comfortable shoes... my new priority and style
I continued reflecting on all of the wonderful moments I had over the year. It’s truly amazing that what you focus on increases. As my awareness increased around the events that made me happy, so did my mood. I found myself smiling as my pace quickened. The seagulls nervously darted out of my way as if I were a young child determinedly chasing them away from my peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
And just then, he surfaced. The lone seal that has swum adjacent to me on my morning walk throughout the year. I can count on one hand the number of days I missed his presence. Spring, summer, winter and fall, there he is. He has become a pleasant part of my routine. I often wonder why he swims alone, so far away from the other seals. Sandy Neck Beach are not waters that seals migrate to. On the contrary. It is a bit rare to catch a glimpse of one. I see this seal as a reminder for me to do my own thing, go my own way, and find peace and comfort in my own presence.
That is how I would sum up my 48th year of life. I swim alone with curiosity and playfulness , yet always on the lookout for a passerby that intrigues or inspires me. When I come upon that person, I linger with them for a bit, then swim off on my own carrying with me the things that I admire most in them. Only to realize that they are simply bringing out the best in me that has always been there.
My wish as I blow out the candles on my cake tomorrow is that year 49 brings me more joy, inspiration, connections and opportunities that will help me further understand who I truly am and why I am here. I intend to live purposefully this coming year with few regrets or stutter steps and without hesitation.
According to American tradition, many of us choose just one day each year to focus on giving thanks. This day is called Thanksgiving and it is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November.
Thanksgiving originated as a festival celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in 1621. Intensely spiritual, these New England colonists were known to celebrate "thanksgivings” often as moments of prayer thanking God for blessings such as military victories or the end of a drought.
Since the official day of giving thanks is just a few weeks away, I’ve decided to create my own personal Thanksgiving Proclamation.
“What is a proclamation?” you may ask. Well, a proclamation is a major statement made in front of an audience as an official statement of praise and celebration.
I hereby proclaim, praise and celebrate…
This year that is drawing to a close has been filled with both blessings and challenges. Many, of which have yielded great reward. Such rewards I vow to mindfully enjoy as I am prone to forget the source from which they originate over time. As my memory of each individual moment fades, I choose to remain conscious of the wisdom gained. The bounty of life lessons gathered from the field of life and the peace that is harvested as a result.
In the midst of this seasons anxiety and distrust of unequalled magnitude and severity due to the political election, I choose peace and responsibility. I will not be provoked by the anger and aggression that surrounds me. I remain faithful that in spite of our national perverseness and disobedience we will come together as one and work to heal wounds and restore a nation. I am grateful for the opportunity to take part in this process. I will responsibly take part in this process.
As time passes, so will the immediate reactive emotion that arises for all of us out of the campaign discord. On this 24th day of November I give thanks that we now begin this journey towards harmony, peace and unification individually and as a nation.
Megan Murphy, CPC
I am very proud of my daughters. So far, they have been successful at navigating the challenges, pressures and insecurities found in their teen years...that's not easy. I equate those years to a Tough Mudder Race. You know, those races that middle aged people sign up for and then realize that they really shouldn't have. Once they register, they have to compete with other crazy people full of self doubt and dressed inappropriately, only to realize that they actually had no idea what they signed up for and there's no turning back.
Anyways, I have always tried to instill in my daughters that kindness matters. "Be a good friend to others and in return you will have good friends." "What you put out into the Universe will come back to you." "Treat others the way you would like to be treated." Although these are simple statements that have since become cliche, they remain as true today as they were when I was growing up. They have stood the test of time for a reason. I have been the recipient of more than one eye roll while repeating them, and most often during difficult times my girls have experienced with friendships. However, my goal is to raise caring, kind daughters. Daughters who will contribute to the lives of others in a positive way. In order for each of them to realize the importance of such wisdom, they need to experience heartbreak and disappointment. I know, I know, as mothers we are supposed to protect them from that. Nope, that is not our job! Our job is to help them navigate those feelings and turn them into positive influences due to their greater newfound perspective. We are to guide them referencing our own personal experiences (even though they can't even contemplate that we were once their age and experienced many of the same feelings). To be a good friend, you need to differentiate your personal definition of what a good friend means to you. For example, if trust is one of YOUR values, then trust is what you will seek in a friend. If you value honesty, then honesty is what you will expect in a relationship. If you value gratitude....and so on and so on. You see everyone is different in that way. We all place value on different qualities and we seek a friend that reflects those qualities back to you.
The lessons we learn through friendships can be really tough. We will love and respect friends and sadly, they may not love us back or respect our friendship enough. Here's the deal...here's what we need to instill in our children. Be kind anyways, but don't be attached to the outcome. You will find one or two friends in your lifetime that will remain, through all of the bullshit, the good, the bad and the ugly. They will honor you, respect you, and bring you so much joy. They will be there to celebrate your triumphs and sit with with a kleenex box during the most difficult and insecure times. You will know who they are immediately, when they enter your life. Your souls will connect and you will feel as if you have known them forever. Their friendship will seem effortless. Hang on to them with dear life. All of the others, simply give them a chance, then give them another, and when you are faced with granting them a third chance, find the courage to cut them free. They may possibly come around one day, but its not up to you to cajole them, lure them or kiss their ass. That is not part of the friendship process! Be true to yourself first, be kind to others secondly. And when friendships go bad...and they will, take responsibility. You can admit that you are not a good friend to someone, because you simply have not put in the effort and you should explore why? Then be kind and have a conversation with that person and let them know that you are sorry but you must move one. Do not leave them hanging! Do not avoid them! That, is unkind. Remember that saying "Treat others they way you want to be treated" well here you go again, do you wish to be left hanging? Kindness includes being honest and respectful of others feelings. Friendship is not a game!
My greatest piece of advice on friendship and kindness can be summed up in one word....YOU! Be kind to yourself, and you will seek kindness in others. Be a friend to yourself, and you will learn how to be a friend for others.
So, in conclusion, I have become my own best friend at age 48.I wish I had put effort into that friendship when I was a teen. I love spending time with myself. I enjoy the things I like to do, and I treat my opinions with respect. There are times when my inner voice decides to be unkind and rude, and I shut it down by saying, "would you talk that way to your best friend?" It typically works! Show your children through action how to be a friend. They will learn more from your actions than any wisdom you try to communicate with words. Actions always speak louder than words!
July 4th is a magical time of the year. The sun is shining and the beaches, trails, campgrounds and lakes are packed with happy vacationers enjoying time with family and friends. Sounds enchanting right? Why is it then that so many of us feel stressed out and underwhelmed? We count down for months on our calendars willing away the days and fantasize about all the future fun we will be having. Visions of campfires, firework displays, cookouts, and parades flood our mind and help us get through the enduring rainy spring days.
Finally, the July 4th weekend arrives. You have spent the last several weeks stocking up on red white and blue attire for your family (on sale from Memorial Day, of course), restocked your torn American flags that were left out until Labor Day last year, and splurged on gourmet s’more ingredients.
“Hey everyone, what are our plans for the weekend?” To which there is no reply. Subtly you restate your question as not to alert your family members that you are hoping they have also been looking forward to spending time together.
“Fools learn nothing from wise men, but wise men learn much from fools” Johann Lavater
Your children scatter about, leaving scribbled notes on various counter surfaces noting their erratic work schedules. “See you at 10pm” “Have the car, gas tank on Empty, be home at 8” “Please pick me up at 5!”. Well, at least there is some communication, right? But no one has replied to my initial question. Then the cell phone rings and it’s your husband announcing he would be stopping by the local microbrew store on his way home from work, inquiring if he could pick you up anything. Considering you are a wine drinker, the answer is obvious. At least he checked with you, right?
And there you are left alone to puzzle piece the weekend plans. It is at this very moment when you decide to take a break from the craziness of it all and scroll through your Facebook page to “check in” or should I say, “check out”. Immediately images of happy families flood your newsfeed. “Hmm”, you say to yourself. “How can I create that image for my family?”, especially when no one is around. Panic sets in and you begin to feel stressed and annoyed at your family’s inattention to planning and prioritizing together time. You find yourself scrolling through your phone at an alarming rate, mumbling to yourself. You become annoyed at your friends innocent check in’s at local hot spots enjoying the obligatory summer lobster roll or taking a leisurely boat ride down on the lake.
Pay attention, on purpose, without judgement….be mindful at this very moment!
Notice your breath.
It has become short,
Your stomach begins to feel nervous,
The blood has rushed to your head, and thoughts are running rampid.
You begin comparing, judging, feeling anger and resentment.
S T O P HERE!
Take another breath, this time slowly through your nose and out your mouth. Actually pay attention to the breath and how it feels in your chest. Notice your chest rise and fall as you breathe in and out.
When a thought enters your mind, (like how angry you are at your family members, or how Sally’s posts are annoying on Facebook) let it go…. don’t judge yourself for having the thought, just simply notice it and watch it pass by.
Continue this process until you feel calm and relaxed.
Now you have a choice to respond or react to your emotions. A reaction goes something like this:
“You kids are so selfish” ….” Tell your boss that you cannot work, non-negotiable” …” Everyone who loves me knows I don’t drink beer” ….” bleep, bleep, bleep (often times my go to response, sadly)
The communication has broken down further, and you begin to feel badly and more removed.
There’s actually a Choice, there always is!
Here’s what a response looks like:
“Well, you work so hard, can you please try to squeeze a few hours to spend time with us, we will miss you” …” I am so looking forward to spending some time together, lets figure this out” …” I am grateful you checked in and on your way home from the microbrewery could you stop at the wine store?”
When you look for things to be grateful for, no matter how small…rather than things to be angry about, you begin to feel happier and more connected with your loved ones. How you communicate with yourself and others is important! And when you least expect it, that special unplanned moment occurs. Your entire family is in the back yard, laughing and playing volleyball and enjoying each other’s company. Even if just for an instant. You begin to notice and relish that moment in time. When you stop and notice, really notice that…. life gets so much richer. Sure, you wish those moments would be more frequent. But if they were, would you appreciate them more or less?
And, at the end of the day, if you are not on Facebook sharing photos it simply means you are keeping them close to your heart where they belong.
Megan Murphy, CPC
Yesterday I was running errands and I was a bit more mindful than usual. Typically, I zoom from store to store with one thing on my mind, crossing my “to do’s” off the list as quickly as possible so that I can move on with my day. There was something a little bit different about yesterday. I had consciously decided to slow down and enjoy the day. The weather was perfect which uplifted my spirits. The sun was shining, the landscape had finally turned a vibrant shade of green and the smell of freshly cut grass was in the air. My favorite time of the year. So I turned off the car radio, opened the sunroof and hit the gas. My first stop was Wholefoods to pick up dogfood. While I was parking my car, I noticed a gentleman, who walked with a slight limp, making his way across the parking lot to the entrance. I’m not sure why he caught my attention, but he did. There was something about him that was unusual. He looked a bit confused or hesitant and this made me wonder about his wellbeing. I locked the car door and made my way to the entrance trailing behind him by a few steps. I noticed he was wearing a torn backpack with a large empty water bottle hanging out of the side pocket. He nervously paced the entryway and I took my time disengaging a carriage from the rack so that I would have a bit more time to observe him. And this is when our eyes met. I noticed a man who was seeking human interaction. He quickly looked away. I felt a wave of nausea, a gut feeling of sorts, about this man and wished I would have smiled at him. Was he homeless? Or was I creating a story in my mind. He gingerly placed his backpack in the corner of the lobby under a vegetable display crate and proceeded to enter the store. I followed suit. At that moment, I decided to mind my own business and wind my way to the dogfood isle. “Why didn’t you smile at him?” my minds chatter would not stop.
After checking out at the register I made my way over the smoothie bar. A Wholefoods smoothie is a once in a while special treat, not something I order often because a $6 smoothie is a bit of an indulgence. I felt the presence of someone next to me while I was waiting for my smoothie to be prepared. It was the man from the parking lot. He slowly walked up beside me and awkwardly placed an old wallet with a credit card lying on top of it on the counter. He then nonchalantly proceeded to pour milk into the paper shot glass of complimentary coffee as if he was at Starbucks preparing a $5 latte. The credit card looked brand new, as if it had never been swiped before. I wondered why he had placed it on the counter. Was he trying to make it appear that he was a paying customer?
I read a book recently by Brene Brown called Rising Strong. I felt as if I was reliving a story from her book. She described a trip to the grocery store when she encountered a similar situation. She sensed the man who exchanged glances with her was hiding something. After she made eye contact with him, he nervously ran over to the hot food bar and scooped some meat and vegetables into has hands and ran out of the store. She was ashamed that she hadn’t noticed the man’s desperation sooner and offer to buy him lunch. This story was now in the forefront of my mind. Having read Brene’s story I had an opportunity. What should I do? If I assume he is homeless and offer to buy him a real coffee, would I offend him? Was my radar completely wrong? What if, what if, what if. At this point, my smoothie seemed unappetizing due to the growing unease I was experiencing.
I had now become the nervous, hesitant looking one.
I felt shame and guilt in buying a $6 smoothie and walking away. I experienced a tugging on my heart surrounded by insecurity leading to indecision. On my exiting the store, I glanced over to the corner of the lobby and there it was. The torn green backpack with the empty water bottle hanging out of it. It was as if the universe was sending yet another sign, one last chance, to do the right thing. Hesitating was not the answer. I hurried to my car and threw the bag of dogfood into the back seat and rushed back to the lobby. I needed to get back to the backpack before he did. The sliding doors opened and there it was. I placed an inspirational Kindness rock on the floor next to the bag and a $5 bill in the front pocket. That was all I had. I’m not sure if the man was actually homeless, but I suspect he was. Even if he wasn’t, what was the right thing to do. Play it safe or play it kind. No matter what the situation truly was, I have vowed to act rather than hesitate. The only reason I am sharing this story is to inspire others to do the same. I am no hero, no good Samaritan. I am not looking for acknowledgement of any sorts. I am human. The underlying message in this short story is to simply notice when others may be struggling and don’t ever hesitate to help. Make the world a kinder place. It’s not about assuaging that momentary feeling of guilt or discomfort, it’s about having an impact on the lives of others, no matter how small.
Megan Murphy, CPC, ELI-MP
It is in agreement of this document made this _____ day of May 2016 between the Lessor (aka Mom and Dad) and the Lessee (Insert your college students name here).
The parties hereto desire to enter into a summer rental agreement commencing on the last day of your college finals and terminating upon your return to your dorm at your prospective college in September. Including but not limited to the operation of the car we have designated for your use back and forth to your place of employment where you will make the money you need to live at school for the 2016-17 semesters without our financial assistance.
Now Therefore, in consideration of these mutual promises, covenants, and agreements the Explanatory Statement, which Explanatory Statement is incorporated by reference herein and made a substantive part of this Summer Rental Agreement, the parties hereto do hereby promise, covenant and agree as follows:
Terms of Rental Agreement
(I love you madly, but in order for us to like each other, please adhere to these rental Agreement rules…trust me, we will have a fabulous summer and
enjoy each other’s company!)
1. When you arrive home on this _______day of May 2016, broke, exhausted and missing your friends, you will be cranky. Please take your cranky self into your designated rental space and give yourself a “time out” until you can reintegrate into the family in a productive and cheerful way.
2. Upon arrival at your rental property, empty the family car of all of your belongings and do not leave unattended bags on the front step or in the garage. The TSA rules and regulations are followed in our home and unattended bags will be sniffed by our dogs, probably pee’d on and considered abandoned and therefore disposed of.
3. A designated “drop off area” for your dirty laundry has been clearly marked by the Tide Pods and the two big white machines, one labled washer the other dryer. Please follow the directions provided and proceed to do your own laundry.
4. We do not adhere to any specific meal times due to everyone’s hectic and varied summer schedules. However, if you will not be partaking in dinner, please notify the chef (aka mom) so she knows not to consider you when she is preparing it.
5. If we are “out of milk” please take it upon yourself to pick some up when you are out with your friends. This will show consideration for your roommates and it will be appreciated!
6. We do not have custodians that clean our bathrooms, enough said.
7. Staying up late until the wee hours of the morning watching net flicks is frowned upon, it keeps your “roommates” from sleeping soundly.
8. Flip-flops must be place in the designated shoe bin, keys hung on the key rack and work apparel, washed and folded the night before your shift. Organization is mandatory, living here is optional.
9. When arguing over the one car that you have to share, please be considerate of the gas gage. When the orange light is on, please proceed to the nearest gas station and put gas in it for the next driver. Any arguments that occur over the car and its usage will result in repossession.
10. Gratitude! Please exercise this daily, and take a moment to appreciate all that you have. This will make you happy and as a result others will feel your happy energy and mirror it back at you.
It is our hope that you can agree to this rental agreement. (what’s the alternative actually?) We in turn, will agree to be mindful that you are now young adults and are used to independence. We recognize that living under “old rules” can be difficult and often times seem unfair, so we will govern accordingly. We will provide food, shelter and transportation for the months that you are renting your room, and in return, on the first of each month we will sit down and revisit this agreement and communicate our differences or concerns. This meeting will take place face to face and not via text message.
We Love you and can’t wait for you to come home. Let’s have a great summer.
Mom and Dad
I don’t know about you, but I take my friendships extremely seriously. In order to even be considered as a friend, I must trust that person unconditionally. Trust takes a long time to cultivate, and in my case, a very long time. I have been burned before. I think we all have, right? That’s how we learn to define trust and create boundaries around it. So being burned can actually be beneficial.
We formulate our relationships around how we define trust. The simple definition found on dictionary.com is: reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, or surety of a person or thing; having confidence. This simple definition isn’t really simple at all. When we break it down, trust indicates a reliance on another person or object. It’s no wonder things get complicated.
Let’s take the word integrity. My definition of integrity vs. your definition of integrity can look very different. Since integrity is based upon moral principles, there is a lot of grey area in its respective definition. Each of us were raised under different circumstances, filled with many relationships. These relationships created models in which we individually formulated our perceptions around right from wrong, good from bad. We later brought these interpretations into our future relationships based on our perceptions. As a result, we often times misjudge people and situations, yet we are not aware of it. We believe that we are “right” and the other person is “wrong”. The grey area is where we should keep our focus. We need to get curious about this grey area. This is where our differences lie and more importantly where connection can be cultivated.
Here are some questions to ask yourself about the Grey Area
1. How true are my assumptions and what judgements am I making?
2. What makes me “believe” ____________to be true?
3. Where in my past do I recognize similar behavior or situations? Have I been surprised in the past? If so when. Why?
4. Have I taken into consideration the other person’s viewpoint? What past relationships are they basing their definitions on?
5. Am I listening and remaining open to other possibilities?
Once you begin to explore a relationship or situation from this vantage point, you can then decide whether or not to put your energy into nurturing it, or not. You have the choice to either accept the friendship and continue to work on finding “common ground” or break up and go your separate ways. This latter is where things get awkward.
You know it’s time to break up with your friend when….
You’ve had it! You have given the relationship your all, and tried to understand the behavior of the other person, but it’s not working. Here are some things you may have noticed.
1. They are self-interested and egotistical…and never show concern for you or your interests.
2. You feel that you are always the one making the effort. No matter how many times you let them know that they are not putting the same energy into the relationship as you are. They just don’t seem to get it and their behavior doesn’t change!
3. They have broken your confidence and/or betrayed your trust
4. They don’t have your best interest at heart and haven’t gone to bat for you
5. You stop calling them and they don’t seem to notice, they are inattentive.
Here’s some tips on how to Break up with your friend
1. Ease into the break up, give them some chances to show you how much they care and when they do not respond, there is no need for you to respond, let it go stay away from arguments and confrontations!
2. Create conversation about your concerns with the friendship, such as, “I really would appreciate it if …….” Or “I like it when we used to……” but be open to listen to their response, don’t jump to judgement. It could be a simple case of awareness. If they get stuck in defense mode…move on.
3. Never bad mouth your friend, they came into your life for a reason and they had a purpose, and most likely they provided you with a lesson you needed to learn
4. Support one another in your future friendship choices, don’t get jealous
5. Let time lapse, time heals all wounds
One of the hardest things to do in life is walking away from someone, until you realize...
no matter how slow you walk, they will never come running after you
You don’t want to run after someone who has walked away from you.
Megan Murphy, CPC, ELI-MP
Our Daughter's Reality Show: We Should all tune in!
What do reality shows and real life have in common? More than we would like to admit, right? We watch them with judgement and contempt. However, secretly the emotions and overall drama resonates with us somewhere deep down inside. It’s like driving by a car accident. We try to avoid catching a glimpse, but our curiosity gets the best of us. Somehow, our attraction to another’s reality, provides us with either comfort or concern. We immediately begin to assess, compare and search for relevancy in our own lives. We are comforted, when, in comparison, we perceive ourselves as better off than someone else. We show concern, when our reality appears lame in comparison and jealousy and insecurity surfaces. This is what today’s generation is faced with…comparisons in consequence of reality television and the digital world in which they live.
Our daughters are exposed to over 500 advertisements in the course of a day, and by the time they are 18 years old, they have received over 250,000 commercial messages through media images. According to the report by Common Sense Media, a nonprofit focused on helping children, parents and educators navigate the world of media and technology, on any given day, teens in the United States spend about nine hours using media for their enjoyment. These facts are alarming and are unquestionably changing the culture in which we live.
It is no wonder our daughters are sleeping less, comparing and scrutinizing themselves more and experiencing a heightened sense of shame and vulnerability. One of the most popular reality shows of today focuses on outer beauty, gossip, competition and betrayal. How can this not heighten insecurity? Girls are invited to openly compete for a bachelors love and affection which is then manipulated by producers and broadcast to millions of viewers (On average 6.7 million viewers per episode watched by predominantly young women who range in age from 16-49). In this reality show, young women are chosen as contestants based on their appearance. These women are also chosen to fulfill “rating rolls”. That is to say, a cast of character traits dictate who will and who will not make the cut. Interestingly, contestants who share their vulnerability openly, win over the support of the majority of viewers. And conversely, the producers ‘handpicked power players’ who assume the role of strong, driven and confident women are viewed as egotistical and self-centered. Often times, these contestants are given a higher percentage of air time to wield drama and manipulate the bachelors precious time. This creates a biased perception that strong and independent women aren’t to be trusted or endeared. The viewer is then drawn to support the underdog. Our daughters begin to resonate with the vulnerable contestant and vilify the strong contestant. In reality, we strive to raise our daughters to be strong and confident. When they are constantly exposed to negative messages around these traits, it makes perfect sense that they camouflage them so are not perceived as a threat therefore disliked.
Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook states, “I’m leaning in because I want my daughter to have the choice not just to succeed, but be liked for her accomplishments.” We must work to expose our daughters to powerful role models, to desensitize their insecurities around strength and influence.
Back to Reality…Real Life
It is difficult for today’s parent to fully understand the culture in which our daughters are growing up in. When we were their age, technology didn’t exist, home computers had barely been invented. Imagine that? Therefore, we don’t have a reference point in our own personal experience of the challenges they face. Technology is here to stay and is ever changing. We must not denigrate it. Rather take the time to understand it so that we can help our daughters navigate its usage and develop awareness around its pro’s and con’s. It’s important that we guide them and open up the lines of communication fostering greater perspective and insight.
We must help our daughters discover themselves rather than lose themselves through comparisons and peer pressure heightened by technology’s overuse. Consciously stepping away from “reality media”, technology and social media images will help them gain personal insight, a healthy perspective and boost their self-esteem. It is important that they pursue hobbies and interests that foster personal growth rather than mindlessly scrolling through or tuning into contrived images.
Self-Awareness and Self-Love
How do we help our daughters “tune into” their own reality show? As difficult as it seems, in today’s culture, we must help them discover self-awareness.
*Key questions that help increase self-awareness in our daughters:
1. What are your five greatest strengths? Are you using all five of your strengths in your life today?
If so, when?
If not, why not?
2. What period of time in your life have you enjoyed the most? What was it about that time that you enjoyed the most?
3. What period of time in your life did you like the least? What was it about that time that you disliked so much?
4. Who is the person that you most admire? What five characteristics do they possess that you admire? Do you have any of those characteristics?
5. What are the top three activities that you love to do? How often do you do them?
If you would like to do them more often, what is stopping you? What specific changes would you need to make in order to engage in these activities more frequently?
6. What are three things you believe you need in order to have a great life? Why are those three things significant to you? Do you believe you can have those three things now? Why or why not?
7. What qualities do you dislike in others? Which of those qualities do you yourself have?Do you judge yourself for having those qualities?
8. What qualities do you envy in others? Why do you want to have those qualities?What specific difference would it make to your life?
9. What kind of impression do you try to make on others?What specific things do you say or do to make this impression?
10. Is there a general theme, based on your answers? If so, what would that theme be?
Curiosity and conversation can assist you in cultivating self-awareness in your daughter. Understanding and truly knowing ourselves through our reality is the key to confidence, courage and ultimately self-acceptance. The road to self-acceptance is mired by today’s technology. We must teach our daughters to forget about how it may appear or what other people think and encourage them to pursue their own dream. It is difficult for them to uncover their dream when they are stuck in comparison and focus on other people’s behavior. To be yourself and love yourself you must listen to yourself. Paying attention, on purpose, moment by moment without judgment is how we “tune in to” happiness.
Megan Murphy, CPC, ELI-MP