Oh how I used to do this. There were times when I was so ‘watered down’ so as not to ‘make waves’ that you could see right through me, float a boat on my surface, splash about in me~ YIKES. Now, I’ve reconstituted…(is that the right term?) solidified a bit more and am discovering for the first time who ‘me’ really is. I often wonder about the origins of this state of being. I was a colorful kid, unafraid of being center stage; precocious, like a little a ‘grownup in a kid suit’. I was able to carry on conversations with my parents’ friends and older relatives. I don’t ever recall being told that ‘children should be seen and not heard’ and yet, somehow, I found myself (or rather, lost myself) in an attempt to fit in. I developed into a good little co-dependent who in the 5th decade of my life, is finally feeling able to be genuine….what you see is what you get.
Today I was speaking with someone about vulnerability, she expressed that there were only a select group of people with whom she could find ‘safe haven’ and be genuine. Others, she felt, might take advantage of her and betray her trust. Nope, that’s not it for me. I trust easily most of the time, giving people the benefit of the doubt that they have my best interest at heart as I do with them. Sometimes I miss the mark and realize that I needed to be more discerning, but fortunately I have not become cynical.
There have been times in my life in which I dressed flamboyantly in vibrant colors, glitter, and glow. My friend David told me one time that he didn’t believe I put the glitter on, but instead, it came from my pores. I wore my rainbow hued, moon and star embellished clown shoes to my job as a social worker. If I really was brave and as externally colorful as I am on the inside, I would dye my hair purple, or at least a few select stripes. I would dare to bare myself more emotionally, speaking my truth and asking for what I want, rather than holding back for fear of offending, taking up too much space or someone’s time. I learned not to inconvenience anyone, since I had felt that childhood asthma did indeed inconvenience my parents, although they would never have said so. On the surface, it may look like I have it all together while in reality, I have the jello-shakes sometimes; wondering when the other shoe will drop or being braced for disapproval. Being uniquely me would mean, peeling off the layers of pseudo safety, of hiding behind my professional façade and admitting that I feel a slew of emotions that look like anger, sadness, envy, frustration, disappointment and heaven forbid…judgment. When I allow for those states of being, I am truly able to love the woman in the mirror since I know her by heart.
Everyone needs a team of emotional cheerleaders. Are there people in your life that you view as mentors and guides who have blazed a path and shone a light so that you could find your own way?
I have been blessed to have had many role models for creativity, joy, life long learning and resilience. Some of them have even lived in my home. My paternal grandparents traversed what I imagine were, at times, stormy seas from their native Russia to their new home in America. They made a new life for themselves and then their 4 children who went on to create a new generation. My maternal grandmother was a kid in a grownup suit who would both entertain and educate me. My parents have always been my most ardent yaysayers. My son is one of my greatest teachers in this lifetime, although I have resisted mightily, the lessons he has offered about patience and flexibility.
Back in the mid 1990’s I encountered a woman whose voice on the radio, leapt out at me on her weekly Saturday night talk show on Philly based WWDB fm. The station format has changed, but ‘back in the day’, the programming offered informative and enlightening hosts and guests. Her clipped British accent, along with her raucous and sometimes irreverent British humor, charmed me. Yvonne Kaye is her name and I am proud, all these years later to call her my mentor. As we got to know each other, she held out her hand to guide me through the muck and mire of co-dependent patterns and dysfunctional relationships; both personal and professional. She taught me that laughter is often the best medicine and that “discipline is freedom,” which I resisted as intensely as the aforementioned life lessons offered by my son. Ironically, he resists that message now! I honor Yvonne, now a seasoned woman (in the 7th decade of her life), who describes herself as “ripening.”
This Thursday, on It’s All About Relationships, on Vivid Life Radio, I am eager to interview a woman who honors her mentors who have inspired her to shine her own light.
As an emotionally under-nourished, overly-sensitive child, multiple bestselling author and medical expert Karilee Shames’ young life was plagued with maternal loneliness and misunderstanding. Yet she quickly learned to seek out women who modeled the qualities she most sought to emulate and soon realized that she, herself, had become a mentor to others. Amazing Mentors: The REAL Hot Mama’s Path to Power is a tribute to those who have helped to shape her life, and the lives of so many other women, including Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, US Army General Clara Adams, Yoga Journal Co-Founder Rama Vernon and more. www.amazingmentors.com
Listen in from 8-9pm est on www.vividlife.me
My friend Pamela Madsen shared this image on my Facebook page this morning and it literally jumped out at me since it is what I have been doing a lot of lately. I joke that I don’t skydive or bungee jump, except emotionally, taking all kinds of leaps of faith into the free flight of the unknown. It wasn’t always the case as (believe it or not), I was a timid “deer caught in the headlights” when it came to making decisions, second guessing, not wanting to make the wrong choice and then deal with the repercussions.
I think it came in part from an experience I had at around 11 or 12 when I was at Sears in my home town of Willingboro, NJ. My mother and I had gone there because I was going to do some modeling in the courtyard. It was summer time and as is so in retail, they were focusing on the Fall fashion line. Before I donned the plaid shorts and jacket they offered me, I was wearing t-shirt, shorts and sandals. Standing at the top of the escalator, I put my foot on the first step and found myself skidding down the steps, since the sandals didn’t have treads on them. It felt like water skiing on one foot! Ever since then (even now, more than 40 years later), I hesitate when at the top of an escalator, waiting for ‘the one with my name on it’, to show up and then hold on tightly to the railing as we take the ride downward.
Another image from the recesses of my kid-mind was this one:
The first time I went off the high dive, I felt like this. I climbed the ladder, stood on the edge and looked down, heart pounding and scared shitless (not literally, thank goodness:) and knew I couldn’t back down since there was a line of kids behind me. I had no choice but to take the plunge. The silly thing was that by that point in my life, I was an accomplished swimmer, so I knew that no matter how deep down I went, I would pop back up and be safe. Jumping in like that in my life now too.
These days, the leaps look like asking for what I want in all areas of my life, putting my work out there in the world, trusting in the Highest Good outcome, regardless of appearance at the time, daring to dream and then transform my dream into reality, not always taking the familiar route, peeling off the layers to reveal a vulnerability that I would not have before, honoring my instincts and intuition.
I know many brave souls who are willing to take that first step, leap, hop, jump into uncertain waters and they continue to inspire me.
Enjoying the ride on the way to splashdown!
http://youtu.be/UF5V2PEujqs If I Were Brave by Jana Stanfield (I know I have used this song several times in this column, but it seemed fitting here:)
“Every time you feel like you should make something happen, replace it with : “Oh, what I really want to do is to allow things to happen.” And then enhance it even further with, “At their own pace. In their own time. On the schedule that has been laid out. With nothing to do with me. I don’t have to force it. Everything is working out. All is well. It is unfolding perfectly. The path will light up. I’ve done my work. I’ve put it in there. Now my work is to ALLOW myself at the right time, in the right place, with the right people to rendezvouz.”-Abraham-Hicks
When I read this passage, I had simultaneous feelings. A yes! of recognition resonated though me and as well, a tummy twisting thought that sounded like “Come on already, how come things don’t always unfold in my way time frame? Who made that rule up? I’ve paid my dues, earned my chops….” You know the drill, I’m sure. I face that mischievous imp each day. Sometimes I roll my eyes and ‘tut’ and other times, I am relieved that I really don’t need to run the show. In 12 step, the concept of EGO is called “Edging God Out” and GOD is sometimes defined as “Good Orderly Direction”. When I attempt to micromanage the details of my life, often I have ended up frustrated and when I have followed Divine Direction, satisfaction has come more readily.
Imagine scattering flower petals ahead and behind you, knowing that some of them will blow with the winds and others will remain where they settle. You can admire their beauty and you can share them with others who happen upon them. See, the thing is, we never know who will pick them up, inhale their sweet aroma, caress their cheeks with them, place them in the pages of a book. I gaze back at earlier times in my life, wondering why certain people and experiences have arrived in the form and at the time they did and now realize that it was in perfect order.
Two Hebrew phrases that speak to this concept:
Hakol Beseder B’Eli Haseder- Everything is in order within the chaos.
HaKol Le Tova! – Everything is for the best!
What if you believed that? Today I will practice seeing it all In Divine Order~