R.B.F.

Hiya Everyone!

So… in case you’re not up to date with the lingo of today, R.B.F. means resting bitch face.

It’s a term commonly used for a person who looks like they’re mad, scowling or a mean girl… But… it can also be a person who just doesn’t feel good about themselves, or isn’t in a good spot in life or, someone who is insecure. (Insert a picture of me here…) Say what??

RBF

If you know me well, you know that I do not like the spot light. But.. I will always coach you, on smiling with your whole face!

I will urge you to smile with your eyes! When my daughter was little, we used to practice in the mirror for a whole week before school pictures. I would help her to smile genuinely and not just with her lips. If your eyes look sad, and you have a big smile with your lips… it just looks fake.

Anyway, back to RBF. When I am nervous, in the spot light or caught off guard, I immediately go to RBF! My smile becomes sort of smile/smirk. I didn’t know this- until my daughter filmed me when she told me she was pregnant. I would like to tell you that I was elated, crying, super pumped… jumping up and down like every expecting Ramma would do… nope. I smirked. Yup… I didn’t even smile. I was so stinkin mad when I saw the video…

Recently I watched another video of myself at my step daughter’s wedding last summer. It was a gorgeous day in Northern Michigan, the setting was breathtaking in every way… almost regal. I was so happy for them both… to be included in the ceremony was an honor.

I was escorted down the aisle by my son-in-law, and he looked so dapper… I had a beautiful bright flowy dress… my shoes were sparkly and on point… but… My lips were tight, my eyes were sad and serious and I looked like I was going to punch someone, pass out or throw up. Seriously. My husband watched it with me… he asked- Why were you afraid to show your teeth? Ummm…. I don’t know.

The other moms had open smiles, they looked graceful and chic. They looked genuine and bursting with love. (I felt all of those things on the inside… but- I was unable to convince my face of this!)

Here’s the deal. The real deal. When I am nervous, I get serious. My nose sweats, I get a straight spine, because I am a yoga teacher… right?? (I used to roll my shoulders in… lol- its progress!) And, my face goes into RBF. Why??

I will tell you why.

When I feel vulnerable, I do this. I am afraid that you’re judging me. I am afraid that you’re talking about me, so I go into protect mode.

It’s not that I am a mean girl. Honestly… I am not mean. I just look like I am.

I put on my armour. I bring out the serious face, and then… you will know not to mess with me. But… on the inside, I am shaking. I am afraid.

So… the next time you see someone with this smirk. Or use this body language? Maybe instead of writing them off as a biotch… maybe, just maybe… you should go up to them and smile. Rub their shoulder and pay them a compliment. They may need you more than ever. Maybe they need someone to hold them up.

Instead of thinking we have each other figured out… sometimes we need to ask, Are you okay? You may be surprised… the tough exterior could just be a mask.

I just had a beautiful conversation with a friend about “the Canary story”. My mind went to a caged bird who will remain caged, even with the door open. The little bird will remain in the cage because it doesn’t believe there is anything better outside, of the cage. This is a story that I can relate too… Today, she told me another version.

The coal miners used Canaries to test the toxicity levels deep in the mine shafts. When they birds stopped singing, it meant the levels were too high and they all needed to get out. In today’s world, we have human canaries. When the life of a sensitive soul or human canary gets too toxic… they also stop singing.

singing canary

If you’re a sensitive soul, if you have lost your voice. I see you.

Find the ones who love and support you.

Find the ones who will sing with you.

There are always a few who will try to keep you trapped. There will always be a few who will try to show you that you’re not worthy of a song… when this happens, sing anyway. We will find you.

To all those who are suffering or those who need a song… I see you.

I-See-You

Sing on my beautiful friends… and SMILE, with your teeth, with your eyes… let your whole face shine. When you see the pictures or the video later, you won’t regret that smile… I promise.

Until next time, Peace and Love Peeps.

 

 

Holding Space…

Hiya Everyone,

I have learned recently that someone close to my family is really hurting. I am not going to share the details of this person’s journey… I will just say, I know this pain.

Holding space for someone means that I will walk along side them in the journey, without demanding anything. I will hold space in my heart for them, without an agenda. I will offer support and anything else they need. I will do this without needing details or offering a solution.

I remember when Paul was diagnosed with Cancer, there were some things I did to protect me.

  • I didn’t refer to the cancer as his. I tried to always refer to it separately, not like he owned it or let it define him.
  • I took what I needed from the Medical Community, My Spiritual Community, My Family, Friends, and God. I also let go of anything that didn’t serve me or my highest good, in that moment. (And believe me… that changed a lot!)
  • Sometimes I was strong and full of hope. Other times, I cried silent tears and felt like a child.
  • I made peace with the fact that if he died- He won. If he stayed- He won.
  • I lived in the moment of each day, trying to appreciate what was in front of me… without giving up hope of a cure.

There is a delicate balance in hope, faith and reality. My reality was I was holding on by a damn thread. I didn’t know if I was okay, going to break at any moment… or if I had exactly what I needed. I just didn’t know.

If you’re walking along someone in the same position… just hold them. Just allow them to cry. Don’t offer words of comfort… all of that stuff means nothing… just be there and allow them to do what they need to do in the moment. Tell them you love them. Tell them you won’t leave them, until they need you to go…

I allowed people close to me to support me, love me, hold me in prayer and be my guides. It was a daily commitment. It was hard. It was painful. It was beautiful.

My biggest fear was, what if they thought I was okay and left my side, and I wasn’t okay? It didn’t happen… they stayed. They are still with me.

Surrendering to the fact that no matter what, I would be okay.

Cancer support

These are all realizations from the journey…

I have said it before, I will say again now… The thing that felt the best to me in my sorrow, in my pain? Was when someone hugged me, told me that they were sorry… and that they loved me.

Today, right now… if you believe in prayer, or if you have some other way to connect to this family… I ask that you surround them in love. Please send all that you have… nobody should go through this without knowing they are loved.

Namaste…

Peace and Love Peeps.

 

 

 

Fraud Alert!

Hiya Everyone!

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to spend some time with a bunch of women in recovery. Let me back things up a minute and explain some things…

I have been in recovery for over 20 years and I work a 12 step program. My drug of choice was alcohol. I wasn’t physically addicted to alcohol, I didn’t become an everyday drinker, but once I started drinking, I couldn’t predict how much I would drink.

Once I took the first sip, I lost control. I couldn’t predict if one would be enough, or if I would have to bring the bar home with me. My life had become unmanageable. I was facing jail, humiliation, loss of my driver’s license and so much more.

Today, I attend NA meetings. My journey began in AA, but after a few years, I switched fellowships. This is not a plug for either program- whatever A, you’re working- wonderful… rock on.

My experience is, NA deals with the disease of addiction- the obsessive compulsive behavior that drives us. The obsessive compulsive behavior that makes us lose control.

About ten years ago… I was working the AA program and met a few women from NA. They got together and had these really cool gatherings where they taught each other spiritual stuff. They learned how to fellowship, relationship and support each other. I had been looking all of my life, for these people. I immediately grabbed hold. I had found my tribe.

We met every few months and I learned so much. I was gaining confidence in me and my ability to become whole.

When these women gathered, I cleared my schedule and made myself available. They were mostly connected by sponsorship, and at one particular gathering, a few more people joined us. It was all fabulous. Until it wasn’t.

Out of left field, someone felt vulnerable. (Not one thing had happened… it was a series of small things. I guess it’s always the little things that we overlook, isn’t it?)

We had met at least three or four other times, same group plus a few others… but all of a sudden, someone felt uncomfortable. Also, because word was getting out, about our gatherings, more people wanted to attend. We had grown. In order to establish some boundaries or rules to protect the group, we decided to sit down and talk about what the future looked like for us.

Our trusted leader said that we should vote on how to continue from here on out. Well- it was brought up, everyone else was connected by sponsorship, and I was an outsider. They worked NA and I was AA. Now, things have gotten personal.

They decided to openly discuss options and vote about how to continue with the gatherings. There were tears, there were raw emotions and lots of feelings. Someone said- Gosh, if I do something that you don’t like, am I going to be voted out? They were literally considering in an open forum, whether I should be able to be there with them.

Everyone had the ability to be heard. Each one of us had an opportunity to talk or discuss what we felt should happen.

It came down to a vote. Does Denise, get to continue to be a part of the group? Will she be allowed to come to our gatherings? I must say, honestly… I wasn’t worried. As much as I didn’t like the feelings associated with this vote… somehow, it felt familiar.

Abandonment issues? Hmm…. (I gotta say, writing this, brings some awareness in so many areas. Perhaps I will share about those things on another day.)

Before it got down to an actual raise your hand, now- sort of vote, our leader said- ENOUGH! This is how it’s going to be, Denise is in. She fits and that’s the end of it. I had also agreed to switch fellowships and work the NA steps. That is how I ended up in NA.

I loved these women. They had become my family.

All of that being said, I now had a little armour up. How can you not? I knew in my mind who was on my side, and who wasn’t. Things changed. It was a new beginning and an opportunity to grow, if- I took the challenge. I did.

We met for many years like this, once or twice a year, and sometimes several times a month. Depending on who was celebrating clean time, and who was willing to plan a gathering. We watched plays together, we went to fine dining together, we stayed in condos, hotels and even at each others homes. We attended camping retreats and these women had my back in some of the most wonderful and the most painful times. I feel without them, I wouldn’t have survived the death of Paul… At least not clean.

I grew to trust these women. We really were a family. AA helped me to find myself and to trust the process. These women and NA have taught me how to live.

As the years rolled by… people moved, people left the fellowship, and our gatherings stopped. We would see one another at other events, but over time- our connections faded. I am super thankful for what I learned along the way… I owe them deeply for their support. I honestly feel like I grew up. I learned how to own my feelings, I learned how to express my feelings and I learned to feel safe.

SO…. now- back to present day. I have switched sponsors and have a new sponsorship family. My new family has similar gatherings. We meet in the Spring and the Fall. If I am being honest… Stepping back into the vulnerability has not been easy.

So, back to this past weekend… I have a sponsor- a woman who guides me in my step work and I admire her in so many ways. When I joined the family, I was without a home group. I hadn’t been working the steps regularly and even though everyone in the program thought I was a really spiritual person… I rarely connected in prayer or meditation.

I felt like a fraud. People looked up to me as this spiritual person. As a matter of fact, many people often introduced me as their “spiritual friend”, Denise.

I remember explaining to my new sponsor, “I didn’t ask to be put on that pedestal.” I felt when they defined me in that role, they put me on a pedestal. She explained gently, “People cannot put you somewhere that you are not willing to be.”

boom

Talk about an eye opener… I guess I knew this.. but I didn’t really understand it, until just then. *I may explore this at another time… honestly- this is worthy of a separate post all together!

I remember the first time I went to this new retreat, I was in physical pain. I was feeling pretty toxic and very vulnerable. I have arthritis, and at the time, I was experiencing quite a bit of sciatica. I am a massage therapist who lived in pain for more than five years. I am a yoga teacher who has arthritis and never talked to her Doctor. I was 16 or so years clean… and felt toxic and depleted. Hence… the fraud feelings. This spiritual person that everyone sees… feeling depleted and not worthy.

I remember so vividly how vulnerable I felt. I felt naked. I felt like everyone was pointing a finger and whispering about me. (Not true at all… but I couldn’t tell my mind that.)

What I was feeling was real. It hurt. It was making me sick. It was keeping me sick. Just like depression can cause physical pain, so can many other feelings.

I survived the first gathering, and gladly signed up for the following retreat a few months later. Because I didn’t die… I thought maybe, just maybe… I could do it again. die image

The next time we got together, there was a small informal meeting and I felt like it was time to be honest. I still didn’t have a home group. I wasn’t spiritually connected, I was healing so many layers within, but I was trying to do it alone. I shared from my heart and I allowed everyone to really get to know me. I cried. I allowed them to really, see- me.

The strangest thing happened. Someone made a comment. (Which is rarely done when someone speaks, we try to not direct talk to them… we honor what they’re willing to share and may even share something similar to show them they are not alone- but rarely do we comment directly to them.) When one person made a comment, there was a little grumbling and maybe even some snickering or laughter… and then someone else made a comment.
SO, here I am… feeling vulnerable. Feeling like I was growing and wiling to share from the heart… and someone jabs at me. (Totally not how it happened… but again, this is how it felt. You couldn’t tell me any different. I felt like people were making fun of me for finally being honest.) I felt naked, raw and totally willing to close back up.

That’s my old behavior. Fight or Flight? Ya… I run. See ya… I am out of here. Most of my life, I would quit you, before you quit me. I would bail on the opportunity when things got tough. I learned very early that I didn’t have a voice. (Again, not true today… but as a child, this is what I learned.) I learned that I couldn’t count on people… I learned the very people who should love and protect me? They were some of the ones who hurt me…

I stewed about it for several hours and when we got together a few hours later at another little circle, I shared how I felt. I can’t even remember the language I used at the time, but I did tell them that it was uncomfortable and that I felt like they were making fun of me. Again, tears… lots of hugs… and even a few people who took it personal they felt like I was jabbing back at them.

This is exhausting. This stuff is painful. When you don’t learn this stuff in safe environment at an early age, you have to plow through it as an adult. Again… I wanted to run.

The group listened. They assured me that it wasn’t at all like I had imagined it. They even honored my feelings and agreed to remain quiet from now on when someone shares or speaks out in vulnerability. Even though I know, with all of my being… they wouldn’t hurt me, they wouldn’t intentionally want me to be in pain… that is what I felt.

SO…. that is a little snippet about how things got rolling in my new sponsorship group. Yikes- right?? To be honest, most of the time when we get together- things are wonderful. We grow. We nurture each other. We support and hold space for each other. That is why I love this fellowship and the women who are walking the journey with me.

The gathering this past weekend was planned a few months ago. We all agreed to bring food, we all speak out as to who is coming and who is not. We arrange the car pooling and mark of the dates in our calendars. I am looking forward to getting together and sharing, growing, and just being. (insert huge exhale here…… )

Well, about a week before it all plays out, I find out the rules have changed. (My rules… not anyone elses. I am sharing what it felt like for me, to learn that the “sponsorship retreat” was not just for or about our sponsorship family.)

This may not seem like a big deal to anyone else… unless of course… your name is Denise… and you had an experience years before with almost being voted out of a group with people who you loved and admired. Even though that was not going to happen… it brought back some old feelings. immediately, I began to feel “off”. My body aches. My back hurts. I am feeling chubby and bloated. I have been having headaches. This is me, when I am feeling vulnerable.

To top it all off, I had some words with my sponsor that didn’t feel real nice. I love and adore this woman. She has taught me so much and I know in my heart that she would never hurt me. But… in the moment. I felt like a little girl being punished for something that I had no control over.

I am a 53-year-old woman with over 20 years clean. I am working a spiritual program and I have healed from so much… but, in a matter of minutes- it’s all reduced to this. “I don’t know, if I want to go now.”

For the next few days I spoke to other people. I was able to speak about my feelings and hear how others felt. I even made some decisions for myself, to make it be okay. I decided to just tip my toe in the water and see if it felt safe. Instead of going to the gathering for the entire weekend, I would just go for the day. Try it out. I made plans and I pushed through the fear.

I even created a special time for those with the same fear to meditate and pray to connect us and move out of the fear. (That is huge… because honestly, I just wanted to be a brat and not go.)

Saturday morning, I arrived at the gathering. Guess what? It was wonderful. These women love me. All of them. Family or not… they are wonderful people. (When I say family- I mean connected by a sponsorship family tree…)

Today, I am okay. I feel like I am moving forward and when I can be honest about what I am feeling, I can work through it. When I push through fear, I am offered so many gifts.

Today, after I finished writing, I called my friend and also my sponsor to run this post by them… sometimes I just need to check my motives and make sure I am in balance. I needed someone who knew what the story really was… to read it and say it was okay. I didn’t want to give away anyone’s anonymity or step on toes…

Each of these lovely women gave me some pearls. My friend said it was wonderful to see me honoring my feelings. She told me that she was proud of me. My sponsor told me to not be so harsh on my self and that she was also proud of me. (While describing the blog to her, I said things like- I needed to put my big girl panties on… I needed to suck it up and trust the process… although those things are true… they are a bit harsh. I am learning to be a little gentler with myself for these things I am learning… )

Fear can be so paralyzing. It has trapped me many times… Just for today, I am more than my feelings, I am not defined by my past or by my imagination. I am safe. I am worthy… and believe it or not- So Are You!

Until next time, Peace and Love Peeps.

Expectations, Negativity and Change

Hiya Everyone,

So be honest with me. How did the title of this blog make you feel? Did it give you a bit of anxiety? Let’s chat for a second about that…

This past week, I have been dealing with a lot of negativity. It seems to be swirling around in the (Cough cough cough) “Spring Air.” If you’re in Michigan… you will get the joke, we woke up to snow again this morning. Soooo… that probably has something to do with my mood and the mood of my fellow wanderers.

I am enrolled in classes with the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute, to become a Master Level Certified Health Coach. I finished my first segment in December of last year, and am officially a certified coach… we are currently learning “the Master Level Certification” which is a fancy way of saying the psychology behind change and motivation. This is how we as coaches bring about change. (There is that word again… change…)

As part of my weekly homework, I am reading four separate books, I record conversations with “clients” and practice what we are studying. (The books are Appreciative Coaching, Nonviolent Communication, Motivational Interviewing in Nutrition and Fitness and the Third Edition of Motivational Interviewing. )

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of information and I find it hard to focus and keep up. This week we are learning “Agenda Mapping” and our homework is an exercise that starts with a clean sheet of paper with some bubbles on it. (Not really bubbles- but ovals, designed to help us target an interest or topics that a potential client wishes to look at in their life.) Inside of these bubbles are the words Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitude and Nutrition. Dr. Sears uses these acronyms to guide us L.E.A.N. So we ask a potential client many questions but the idea is to find which area they want to focus on first. (Insert ambivalent client here….)

Ambivalence can be defined as having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone. “I want to be healthy.” “I want to eat whatever I want, and not worry about fat, calories or carbs.” “I want to save money for a trip to Italy!” “I want to be able to shop and buy whatever I want, when I want it.” This pretty much describes all of us at some point… how many of us, are really ready- to do the work? How many of us are sick and tired of being sick and tired… but just can’t seem to nudge ourselves out of the funk. Now… let me reframe that question for you. How many of us desire change and are willing to explore some ways to get there? (Now we can use the bubbles to explore specific areas…)

This past week we had to ask ourselves a few questions and use a “wheel” to look at how our lives were either in balance or out of balance. The questions were designed to get us to look at many areas of our life. Social, Occupational, Emotional, Spiritual, Intellectual, Nutritional… etc. There were 8 categories. We looked at five statements in each of these areas, circled as many of them as we felt applied to us… then we used the wheel- as a visual tool, to see where we were strong and to see where we needed more work.

I didn’t understand the directions at first, I used the two tools separately. I answered the questions… or circled the statements that applied to me. Then I looked at the wheel and placed a dot on the wheel where I thought it applied. If you feel good about an area, the dot goes towards the outer edge, if you’re feeling not so good about an area, the dot goes more towards the inside. When I connected the first set of dots, my wheel looked like a cog in a watch.

Once I realized that I was supposed to take the statements and use them to apply the dots- my wheel looked more like a wheel. If you circled many of the five questions or all, then your dot went more laterally. If you didn’t circle any of the statements, then your dot was supposed to be more medial.

My point to this exercise? I thought my life was pretty out of balance. I thought I was a hot mess. I placed the dots initially to support what I thought I looked like. Blah. SO….. thinking I was a hot mess, led me to spiral in that mess. I allowed negativity and expectations to guide me. I felt stuck and without many options. I was playing the victim. My life was this way right now, because of _______________ insert choice here… hormones, lack of sleep, my husband, my schedule, my age, demands of other people, crabby friends… lol… You get the idea.

When I placed those dots, according to the statements my wheel only looked deflated in one area. Just one. Wow… why have I been so hard on myself? Why have I allowed myself to feel so out of balance?

Moving forward. Reclaiming my truth. I am not my emotions today. I am not my past. I have choices. Today I choose to allow the crazy to swirl around me… and not be it.

Boom.

Until next time… Peace and Love peeps.