Inner Critic to Champion

I am a big believer in signs, that the universe will send hints and nudges to get you going in the right direction.  The tricky part is to be aware, because if you’re not paying attention those subtle signs become big ole smacks on the head.  After many of those “looking back, I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming” moments, I am working at being more receptive to the earlier (and less painful/embarrassing) clues.
 

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In the past couple of weeks I have been in several spirited conversations, seen many posts on social media, and have had videos shared by friends all basically centered around the idea of self compassion.  All of this as I have been ruminating on a post about how vicious our own self critic can be.  Seems like a sign to me ~ time to get the proverbial pen in motion before that rolling pin/cast iron pan comes out of nowhere!

Now, I can’t speak to anyone else’s experience, and I won’t even pretend to put on an “expert” cap on the subject because I realize that everyone has their own story.  Quite frankly, I’m still a work in progress so even my own “expertise” on myself is ever evolving.  But, I can share with you some of what I have recently awakened to…

I am not, nor have I ever been, a particularly religious person.  I do, however, consider myself to be spiritual.  As a child I felt as if God was a friend and protector, someone I chatted with incessantly.  I grew up Catholic and felt rather stymied by the rigidity of the rules involved in his communication.  I, being of the perpetually right category (writing this I now see why my mother just smirks when I complain about the same attitude among my children…), knew my way was better, but played along to please the adults.

That was until I went to confession and admitted to being molested.  And the priest looked at me in horror, stood up, and walked out.  Not a single word.  No “Our Fathers”, no “Hail Marys”, no redemption from impending, everlasting hell whatsoever.

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The soundtrack in my young mind was already a bully – “How could you be so stupid?”, “They will never love you if they find out”, “Your silence is the only thing to save the family”.  It only got worse now that I wasn’t even worth forgiveness.  And as any unchecked bully does, as it grew from elementary though middle and into high school it’s attacks only became more vicious.  I walked a razors edge of an eating disorder, attempted suicide at 14, turned to cutting myself to be able to deal with a pain that at least could be tended to.

Part of the self healing process for me has involved counseling, which I have found very helpful.  Part of that has been dealing with my self esteem issues and addressing my stern inner critic.  She had been in control for a long time and wasn’t about to go quietly, so that was tough.  Another approach was to treat the abused inner child, that 7 year old little girl who lost her innocence, as if she were one of my own.  Give her the compassionate care I would offer to a lost child or one of my “borrowed kids”.  My Mama Bear tendencies could work with that, and I made a lot of progress in self forgiveness.   Not so much with the adult version of myself.

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If I had ever overheard the kinds of things that I have said to myself in the mirror being said by anyone else to my friends, my children, my siblings… I would go apes%!t on them, every single protective instinct raised, rushing to wrap them in my arms and smother them in reassurances.  Anyone privy to that inner critic would have me packing my bags and out the door in moments. And that, it seems, is a trend that is all too familiar to those I know.

Sometimes, though, you have to wait for all the big and little pieces to come together before you can make that connection for yourself.

Through the discussions this week I realized that through everything that happened, I wasn’t even mad at God for denying forgiveness, because I had already deemed myself unforgivable.  And through all the trials that then followed – bullying, abuse, rape, PTSD, forced relocation – I didn’t lose faith in God, what I had lost faith in was myself.  And THAT is what allowed that inner critic to flourish, to feed off of the negativity of others and believe so easily in their poor judgments of me.  I choose to believe (a little rose colored glasses?  I’m looking at it as silver lining mining with a tilt) that she showed up originally as a survival tactic, just like my PTSD.  So, there has to be a way to tame her into being something productive for my long term well being.  Probably should start by naming her something other that the Big B, huh?

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I have come a LONG way, and I have benefited from therapists, counselors, coaches, dedicated friends and loved ones as I continue this journey.  This Self Compassion thing is new to me, but that candle lit bath when I need a bit of time to gather my thoughts, that pat on the back when I get a little touchy instead of a full out meltdown, an ice cream to celebrate while telling the critic to bug off about blowing “wrestling weight”, that walk just to go find flowers as a reward for making it through a tough day… These are the new approaches I am going to try to make friends with that critic.

Now to work on a better name for B…

 

 

Of Mountains and Mole Hills

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One of the greatest joys, and the biggest stumbling blocks, of life is that it is ever changing.  And, truly, thank goodness.    Imagine being stuck, like Bill Murray, in a “Groundhog Day” loop of your worst day over and over.  Or even how stale that greatest day would be if nothing ever changed.

Change is often uncomfortable.  Especially when it comes at us quickly, is unplanned, or comes in multiple ways all at once.  And the stress of adapting to change can affect us in ways that we don’t immediately recognize.

This happens to me sometimes, when my mole hills suddenly become mountains.  Things that I would normally easily be able to do a quick pro/con analysis of and decide on a course of action become a 3 day slog of indecision.  My best friend calls those times my “squiggles”, when my normally free flowy line of thinking gets all kinked and knotted in and about itself.  Its like I dig for the sparkle, the silver lining, and instead find myself tangled up in the tinsel, the more I try to free myself the tighter it becomes.

I have recently been dealing with migraine issues, which have put quite a kink in my well laid plans, upping that stress level. Doctors visits and time in the ER were not how I had thought to spend my spring break, but such is life, right? (Silver lining today is that I was able to geek it out a bit with a Chem teacher picture of a mole on my blog!  Any former student of mine will know exactly how big of a smile that just put on my face 🙂 ) Dealing with pain, a (new) medical diagnosis or a medical puzzle, changes in job status, family transitions, financial pinches, and/or moving (or even just the thought of doing so) can cause an upheaval that one may not even recognize as a stressor that can affect how one deals with their everyday routines.

These are the times when it helps to get an outside perspective.  Someone who is not attached to the situation can help look at that “birds eye view” ~ the one that isn’t full of “shoulds and could haves” or that sense of competition (you know the one I’m talking about, the “oh, well, that’s not so bad, really.  This one time I…”) to help find a fresh outlook and to look from above to see what options there are to get around that obstacle holding back progress, be it a pebble, a mole hill, or a mountain.  This is when I have turned to my own coach to help me regain perspective on the topography of the problem at hand, and usually what I find is an opportunity to change my outlook enough so that I find that one string that frees the entire knot, allowing my creativity to flow again, leaving me empowered to find a solution.

I do hope that leading into this weekend that you all find something to bring you peace and happiness!  Hope where you are the sun shines brightly on you and yours 🙂

And We Are Live….

Today is the big day…

After all the training, the practice sessions and the rigors of the certification process, the time has come to hit the post button and actually share this creation with the world.

So, why do my hands shake as I type this?  I am excited!  I have been doing this type of thing as a friend, a mentor, a teacher for basically my whole life, and I am good at it… But that darn post button is so scary at the moment!

What is it about that fear of judgement that leaves us frozen sometimes?  Why do the opinions of outsiders seem to matter so much?  Is it really their judgement that leaves us in a panic, or is it our own inner voices swirling around that stop us from becoming our best selves?

In my case, this “post button paranoia” has lasted most of the week.  And I have been quietly analyzing its source.  And, low and behold, its those pesky inner voices, the ones who have been my stumbling blocks along the way.  Luckily, coaches usually work with other coaches, and with a little help from one of mine, I was able to realize this and I will master that post button! 🙂

And so World, Here I Am!  Weeds and Wildflowers is live in 3, 2, 1…

Plant Positive, Reap Positivity

There are times when we know we will face something that will bring about certain triggers.   It is one of the benefits of time and practice, we wise up to our own patterns of behavior.  Often times we fall into the false belief that we are at the mercy of these habitual responses.  Today I thought I would share a post I first shared as “Harvesting From Your Happy” on the blog Inspiration In the Field on September 1, 2016.  Whether you choose to use the services of a Coach or not, below are some steps that I have taken, that might be of interest, so that you can have a plan in mind for those eventual bumps and bruises we all face.  It seems better to have an emergency plan in your back pocket than to head in unprepared, at least that has become my philosophy.

If you have discovered some healthy coping strategies that you are willing to share, please feel free to comment below.  I would appreciate the feedback, and your input just might help someone else create their own effective plan.

Thank you 🙂

Harvesting From Your Happy

There are some days, some weeks at times, when holding onto your Happiness can be a struggle.  Let’s face it, no matter how idyllic we would like to create the world we live in, there are times when reality just barges through that door, plants itself in the chair and kicks back with its mucky boots on your table.  It’s not that you are frenemies or even enemies, but to steal a line from Mickey Rourke in Barfly you “…seem to feel better when they’re not around.” Not the friendliest of house guests, once settled in and running roughshod over your Happy, Reality refuses all polite attempts to shoo it back out the door.

I have had my ups and downs with that clash between my little world and reality, that fight between what “should be” and what actually “is”.  Some have led me pretty far into received_10154495778800742the darkness, but with the help of counselors, friends, and family I have overcome and learned some valuable lessons that have helped me place breadcrumbs and candles along the path, should I travel there again.

Just like planning for winter or lean times, you can plan ahead for those times when it’s a struggle.  That whole “Reap what you sow” works both ways, so planting good things allows you to harvest them in times of need.    A few things I have learned along the way, things that help me plan for Reality’s visits and create a more hospitable atmosphere for us both are:

  1. We Create Our Own Happiness

I know this sounds cliché, but let that settle in for a minute.  Each and every one of us is responsible for our own happiness!  That is an incredibly powerful thing!!  It means that not only do you have the ability to change your general outlook, BUT THAT NO ONE CAN TAKE IT AWAY!!!  That’s right, think about it.   If you take responsibility for creating your own mood, finding the joy in your day, searching for a silver lining in each shitty situation… YOU OWN YOUR HAPPY.

  1. YOU Get To Choose Your Perspective

It’s a funny thing, when good things happen to you oftentimes you will find that there are the little annoying birds that fly around picking at the big beautiful harvest, trying to steal pieces of your joy in that moment.  I’m sure you have heard something like “don’t jinx it” or “this is great, but…”  And just watch the vultures circle if it isn’t a positive thing.  Remember how I just said YOU own that Happy?  Well, YOU own how you choose to look atreceived_10154514663160742 a situation, too.  Good or bad, YOU control how you react and what you can gain from it.  I spent a long time in abusive relationships where I gave my power away, allowing someone else to control my perception of my accomplishments and stumbling blocks.  When I made a conscious decision to regain that power, I realized I could choose to continue to look through their lens or start to examine MY life thorough my own.  I started to make a concerted effort to find the silver linings in each situation, basically harvesting the seeds of each experience for my Happy garden.  If you can find some tiny positive, even if its “I made it through today and will do so tomorrow”, you are taking power and regaining ownership of the situation.

  1. Stay In The Moment

As a society we tend to live our lives anytime but in the here and now.  Yet the only thing we actually have any control of is NOW.  How we choose to react, to focus on in this very moment, and whether to put that positive spin on it are all within our power. I will admit, this one is probably one of the hardest for me.  Yet the work I have put into changing my focus has helped me deal with my panic attacks more effectively.  Definitely one of the things I harvest frequently.

  1. Celebrate Your Happy

I have filled my walls with pictures of my kids and I, documenting memories of trips and mini adventures where we captured our joy on camera as a reminder of good times.  We have made lake and ocean water jars to bring a piece of our home state to our relocated one.  We have small and silly traditions, both at home and when we travel to keep us in touch with particularly happy memories.  If something made you joyful, celebrate it, joyfully, publicly, and often!  You will find that its infectious when you do!

While this list may not be instantly life changing, these concepts were incredibly helpful once I moved from the nice pasted smile and polite head nod to really examining their worth for my life.  No one will ever have all the answers, but hopefully something here sparked an idea that will help you pursue your own garden to have in times of need.

Happy Planting!

Celebrating When Can’t Becomes Can

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Today I am celebrating.  It is a cheerleading celebration, the kind where you honor the hard work done by someone else.

What I would really like to do it jump up and down, twirl around in my little happy dance, and clap my hands.  But, not only would that be frowned upon by the object of my pride and adulation, it might even earn me a few not so nice words.  You see, pep talks are ok if solicited, but THIS excitement would cause some huffs, maybe some puffs, and in between eye rolls he might have to actually admit he was enjoying it before trying to blow the house down.

I have been working for over a year with him, on and off, as he feels comfortable.  He is a Veteran, who, in the course of his service to our country overseas was injured.  The lasting effects include Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress; he was medically discharged and found himself struggling.

When I met him through a mutual friend, he told me repeatedly that he trusted no one, he cared for no one, that nothing ever worked out, and he could not be helped.  “Ok, but I am here if you need me.”  He scoffed, told me he doubted it.

I would check in with him, just to see how he was doing.  He would reply, one word answers at first. Then eventually full replies, even brief conversations.  Then he began to reach out, and I was there.

Turned out that he had these great future plans, he had figured out a pretty in depth map of what he wanted to achieve.  The problem was the gap between the now and then.  Point B had success defined.  Point A, the starting point, included unstable housing and unsteady employment and piling bills.  The steps to take on the path between the two was missing on the map.  For quite a while I heard a lot about how much couldn’t be done, “I can’t do this because…” was a very common sentence in our conversations.

If you have ever been in that sort of situation, and I have, you will know that “Just make the plan” or “Just do it” just doesn’t cut it.  You hear it, you think to yourself that it should be that easy, but you just get stuck.  For some reason you can’t compute, you just spin in circles.  It can be frustrating, stressful, and frightening to see the endpoint and have no idea how to maneuver yourself into position to bring that into fruition.

Together, we began to inventory what was needed for his vision to become reality.  We discussed the skills and resources he has and those he needs to develop; we created priority lists based on what he valued most; we talked about different options to lead to the same outcome.  There were a lot of hard questions presented, and many times when he would not like them, or the mirror he needed to face to answer them I wouldn’t hear back from him for a while. Sometimes he just wanted an easy answer from me.  While I wanted only the best for him, it wasn’t my place to decide.  Only he knew what that was, what that is.

Of all the paths we laid out, today he marched confidently down one.  He chose to attend a trade school, that started today.  Once completed, the school offers Veterans guaranteed employment and the it offers graduates job placement services.  The skills he learns here will provide a comfortable living and will be of use toward his ultimate goal.  And the beautiful part is he chose the trade and researched the schools himself, taking ownership of his success.

So why the celebration today?  Am I proud of this next step in his career?  Abso-freaking-lutely!!  But the absolute best part is when he asked “So after this, what next?”  That shift to possibility thinking, that change in perspective to “I can” is what has me giddy with joy!  Because I know HE CAN!

 

 

Whats Old Is New Again…

IMG_20160702_184513704Have you ever stopped to notice how life can lead you in ever tightening circles until you finally pick up your head to see the flag waving with the “X Marks The Spot” on it?  Some folks are a little quicker on the uptake than I have been.  If there was a defined path, I meandered all over and around, disturbing any sort of breadcrumb trail left to help me out.  I’ve almost always taken the long way, BUT I have finally captured the flag!

“Ok, well, cool.  I guess?  What the heck is she talking about?”  This tendency to coach, to listen and help people work through their problems has been with me for as long as I can remember.  I was the girl who friends came to as the negotiator for lunch table drama in elementary and middle school.  The one who’s house was the sanctuary and, along with my mom, was the ear for all my friends teenage angst over boys, drinking, drugs, sex and the pressure of growing up in general.

In college I studied Chemistry.  To me it was almost like learning a mystical language, I love it.   And in a group of the very technical minded, I became a magnet for long heart to heart discussions about feelings, coping with pressure, relationships and dealing with the repercussions of a suicide of a student on campus.  Some of my closest friends from college came from these discussions.

The pattern continued as I went to work, returned to get my Master’s.  I became a Science Teacher and ended up working with the students that faced bullying, strained home relations, stress of abusive teenage relationships and teen pregnancies.

In the meantime, I have been raising my three beautiful babies.  Their friends have become our “borrowed babies”.  I have worked to provide stability to those children as well, by their choice, dealing with mental illness, learning disabilities, and trust issues.  Gaining their trust by not dictating and actually listening to their point of view and treating them as individuals.

After surviving a sexual assault that ended my teaching career, I began working with race teams to get out of the house.  As my responsibilities grew, I ended up working within the teams using those same talents to manage personality differences, calm nerves pre-race, as well as manage the public relations side.

Opportunities arose to work with different non profit organizations, raising awareness for issues that I believed in.  Because of those ties, I was tapped to help with a Veterans organization. Creating a promotional tour as well as the groundwork for the actual organization.  It was wonderful to work with those who have served our country, to give back to those who promised their all for the rest of us.  I have gone on to work individually with Veterans to help as a check in buddy for PTSD and to help another get through and beyond an abusive relationship and an unemployed Veteran make a plan and get into a training program with a guaranteed job.

This past summer, I joined my friend to bring awareness to mental health issues and inspiration to others by starting a blog at Inspiration In The Field.  Its about hope, moving forward through tough times, and the power of changing perspective.

My work with the Coach Training Alliance was the step to formalize the services that I have provided all along the way.  So, while Weeds and Wildflowers begins its business in 2017, I have been doing this type of work for a long while now.

Blessings to you all!