Category Archives: Life Experiences

Never Let The Truth Get In The Way of A Good Story

Growing up, we always had a saying in our house: “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”  Now for most of my life, I simply believed that was a way that truth could be covered up and whatever evil was beneath the surface could be denied or kept unknown by a charismatic storyteller.

I admit to fury about this saying!

There were times in my life when I did seek to say what was going on and usually my version of the story was met with comments about my over- active imagination.  That was the good version.  The worse was when my anger after sharing a story was interpreted as ‘too much’ and I was given some type of medication to calm me down.

Maybe I did start to believe a good story was better than the truth – or at least created less pain and misunderstanding.

These days the saying is generally a good bridge in our family gatherings.  However, the new status has come after many years of working to try to understand each other’s vastly different versions of reality about the past.  The saying is no longer meant to shut anyone down. I do think it might be a signal to say we may be stepping into tricky territory and give each other a head’s up.

Our differences have never been reconciled.  But, now that we are adults and have been able to find ways to each feel heard and seen for whatever reality we were living growing up, we can have a relationship. 

I really appreciate that about my family.  We live the agree to disagree about some things and find ways to appreciate and value other aspects of who we each are now.

That may just be because of the saying – Never let the truth get in the way of a good story. 

Only these days I prefer to retranslate.  I think the saying would be best expressed as;  Never let a truth get in the way of deeply listening to someone’s else’s story”

That really is the lesson.

Too often, our individual ‘truths’ are so fixed that we don’t really listen to a different truth.  Especially when that other storyline may make us look poorly, guilty, cruel or unkind.

However, I firmly believe that most of the time people really don’t need to be told their version of reality is ‘the truth’.  Instead, they are looking for someone to deeply listens and step into their reality, consider what that might be like and acknowledges their feelings. When this occurs healing happens.  Over and over, I see people get unstuck from their old stories and look at the choices they made and move forward in these scenarios.

Truth is I’ve seen people get their stories validated – by courtrooms and judges – only to see that person continue to struggle with the old story.  Unable to reframe, rewrite or redefine the outcome.

Don’t get me wrong; I am not saying some actions don’t warrant judgement. But I am saying that alone isn’t going to be what supports the ‘victim’ in moving forward.

What will? – never letting a or one truth get in the way of deeply listening to another person’s story!

Truth is relative.  Yes, we need to find our truth – but I just don’t think we need to let that get in the way of listening to someone else’s.

We can disagree.  We can not like it.  We may even decide that because of that person’s story we aren’t interested in a deeper relationship.

But I don’t think finding the one truth will work.

Listening and considering – that is a powerful path for contact and possibility and influence.

These days with all the stories coming out about men’s abuse of power and sexual harassment of women, I think we’d be better served if we did not get caught up in focusing on what did or did not happen.  Frankly I think the people speaking up need to be heard.

Our job is to listen. What is the impact of these stories? 

I am speaking to the men out there getting accused. Listen! Consider! Respond! From a place of understanding someone else‘s truth, instead of right versus wrong. Listen to the impact, the pain, the experience and a perspective other than your own. Don’t just deny or apologize and move on. Be influenced now.

I think that is how something different can happen.

When we simply go to right or wrong, the feeling and the impact can so easily get lost.  Listening and considering the impact of our actions, words or deeds on another – even if that wasn’t our intent or perceived outcome.  That is what will help heal and bridge our differences.

I know it did in my family and I have witnessed it over and over in couples, on teams and in families.  I think it can happen out in the world as well.

Now that is my truth – and I won’t let it get in the way of hearing your truth (story).

Just Breathe!

Recently I attended the Breathe weekend up at The Haven.

The program was perfectly timed to fit between meetings and the start of a Come Alive.  What better way to get prepared for leading a program than breathing!

I knew I would enjoy the weekend.  I love the wisdom of Linda Nicholls and though we get to spend time together in meetings – we rarely are together in programs.

The weekend more than met my expectations.  Thus the reason I am now writing about the program.

Breathing is so simple.  It’s free.  It’s healing.  Yet, when I ask people how often they take the time to consciously breathe deeply – the answer is usually – rarely or not at all.

Some share that they meditate or do some sort of mindfulness practice – but that isn’t quite the same in my view.  Sure it is something and valuable.  But does not always involve breathing deeply.

I know how valuable breathing deeply can be and though I would say I am a pretty committed to some type of regular practice – I often miss a day or more – when life gets busy.  I will often put my exercise routine before just breathing.  (Again exercise and consciously breathing are not the same!!!)

Why?

Though I say I want to be alive – aliveness is not always comfortable! often I consciously or unconsciously opt for comfort, control and certainty – over aliveness and uncertainty!

To drop my jaw and breathe deeply and fully (for those unfamiliar with Haven breathing – I mean taking a full deep breathe through an open mouth).  This does open me up for feeling more.  There is no guarantee  that means feeling good, happy or satisfied.  Often these days if can mean feeling my fear, my sorrow, my rage or my pain.

Sometimes I am not so willing.

There were many nuggets of wisdom offered during the weekend program.  Linda does have a way of integrating science, poetry and experiences that allow for the mind, the body and the breathe to mix and play well together!

Myself, I loved the breathing.  Being re-introduced to a variety of ways to deepen my own practice and having lots of time – I believe three blocks of 45 to 55 minutes of just breathing.

Breathing deeply demands a conscious choice – my will and my willingness to loosen my control and be vulnerable.

Pills and other measures are often more predictable in terms of eliminating symptoms or easing suffering.

However, aliveness isn’t really predictable.

I am not saying give up on prescriptions, exercise, meditating or whatever it is you or I do to find some comfort and ease in this human experience – I am though encouraging you to consider spending a little more time and attention on just breathing!

It’s free.  Drop that jaw and take a deep full breathe. (Highly recommend doing this more than just once!)

I came away with the intention to take twenty minutes each day and just breathe.  I am enjoying the practice!  Life is richer and more vibrant as a result!

 

Things Are A Little Bit Crazy

Just a couple weeks ago,  I woke to a haze of smoke that blanketed my town of Whitefish.  For weeks we have been hearing about fires – to the south of us – to the north of us.  Yes, we have had days of smokey skies and very poor air quality. Then, suddenly everything started moving closer.  Parts of Glacier National Park and Lake MacDonald Lodge were be evacuated! That’s close!

Next our little town and Flathead Valley faced a school closure due to the threat of an attack on people’s children.  Apparently due to a cyberattack of some sort that resulted and parents and children getting very graphic and threatening messages.  After three days of school closures, games and events being canceled there still isn’t certainty as to where the threat was coming from.

This is just what has been happening in Whitefish – I haven’t even mentioned reading the national news headlines!

Damn – I say – this is crazy!!  Floods, hurricanes – fires and mother earth’s fury – plus crazy stuff like cyberattacks, white supremest and a President who regularly sends out insane tweets, talks smack and threats at the UN, really?!

What is happening?  Chaos and what can seem like a definite message to stop, pause and ….. wait for it…

PLAY!

Yes, I bet you didn’t think that was coming.

But really – I wonder if a little more play, joy and pleasure wouldn’t be the best remedy for us all.

I get it.  Life as we know it is spooking us!

We could wrestle with the reality or not – of climate change.  We could fight about healthcare, building walls or disarming North Korea.  But really wrestling with any one of these big issues s with the intent to determine right and wrong – seems like it just ain’t working.

Don’t get me wrong – I believe in climate change.  I think we owe Mother Earth a major shift in our attitude and actions, but I’m not into proving that point.  I will recycle.  Ride my bike when I can. I participate and vote for measures that support recycling, science and alternative energy!

I also don’t intend to stop speaking up when I think someone is being a bully – making statements that seem cruel, mean or frankly racist, sexist or just ignorant!  But I am not interested in fighting about it.

Instead, I think our best path is to play.

Over and over in nature, there are signs that when under attack – especially a vicious attack – the best answer is to engage in play.

Stuart Brown did a Ted Talk on this very message.  One piece was a video clip of a hungry polar bear coming for lunch where there were sled dog huskies chained up.  Those huskies knew they were going to be the polar bear’s lunch, but what happened instead was amazing. One female husky did a classic play bow and the polar bear’s whole being shifted.  Instead of a meal the two had a play date!  Now the polar bear makes an annual trip to play with the pups!

I know, when you are feeling under attack or you are facing threat and fear – the last thing that comes naturally is to rollover and play.

But maybe we need to get back in touch with our joy, our innocence and remember play can be just as important and life changing as any work, spiritual seeking or political activism.

What can you do to add a little play and joy to your day?  How can you invite and encourage others to join in!

Don’t leave you work behind just add more play into your day and notice the results.  Let me know how it goes!

P.S. Need some help playing, give me a call. I’m happy to help.

 

 

 

Finding My Joy Through Horse Play!

Horses really are a joy to work with and amazing teachers!

I know I say that a lot.  I also share stories, pictures and videos of the fun we are having here in Montana with the horses.

However, I am not sure I have done the best job sharing with you just why I think this work is so rich, valuable and worthy of your time, money and energy.

There are lots of ways you can learn, grow and transform.

I, myself have tried many paths:

  • Create an crisis and have to change – be it health, money or relationship related.
  • Decide to get a honest 360 round of feedback (or have to get one) – from working colleagues, friends and family
  • Attend a personal or professional training programs like those offered at The Haven – Living Alive Phase, Come Alive, Couples Alive or a program like Passionate Ease.  (just to name a few favorites of all time) 

Of these paths I have taken, all bought about significant, deep, valuable transformational growth in my life.  Some of them I have done or would do over and over again.  Other paths (like the crisis route), I’d prefer to say one and done. (Although I think I have done that 4 or more times – at least). 

Even the ones I do over – like Couples Alive, Come Alive  or Passionate Ease – are in some ways a conscious effort and some hard work on my part to stay and and really show up.  I don’t regret the effort or the work and the reward is worth it – but it’s hard!

Here’s the thing for me about a workshop or an intensive experience around horses – it’s not hard!

Even when I was terrified of being around them – which was the case when I started in my training.  I definitely drop my armor faster, open my heart and feel joy more than pain in every experience I have.  Even when the lessons were HARD ones.

So what have been some of the lessons I have learned or witnessed others learning from the horses:

  • Boundaries and boundarying – how important it is to be able to show up and be clear in self-defining.  Dealing with push back and staying in.  (Of course a 1500 pound horse is great in teaching that! )
  • What it means to be embodied and not just a walking, talking head.  Yes – there lots of programs about embodiment – but horses live it every moment and they love to provide you feedback when you are thinking too much!!!  ( a little nudge or they simply aren’t inclined to play!) 
  • The joy that can come from another living, breathing being holding a space for you – wanting you to be present and being okay with whatever you show up with as long as you are congruent!
  • The importance of play and sometimes just moving, dancing and finding your jig. (May be I should have said this one first!)

These are just some of the lessons I see that are a regular part of Equus coaching sessions.

All this feedback and interaction occurs and it’s offered in an amazingly warm and nonjudgmental way.

Horses are not story makers.  They come into the moment with each session waiting to see who and what shows up and working to create a relationship that ensures they stay safe and have some fun.

Horses enjoy the sessions and like moving and participating.  Some maybe more so than others and when that isn’t their thing they are usually quite clear in letting you know.

I know I will keep going to programs like Passionate Ease and Haven’s offerings – indeed I’ll enjoy my time in the circle and connecting people.

However, I do want to spend more time with the horses.  I encourage you to try it as well.

Besides discovering the joy in playing with the horses, if you come to Montana you will get an amazing experience – beautiful place, great people and CrisMarie and I bring all the other aspects of what we’ve learned to help you get the most of your lessons from the horses.

Intrigued?

Curious?

Want to experience more joy in your own transformational journey!

Come play with the horses!

Are you local? – Well join us for one of our Come PLay With The Horses Events – here’s the latest link – Come Play With The Horses August 12

Murphy & Me

Murphy & Me

We just finished an amazing weekend in Savannah, GA with Susan Hyatt and 10 other awesome business women. This was the in-person part of our six month long Make-A Scene MasterMind program.

There were many parts of the weekend I could share. It was a great time. Work got done. (You’ll be seeing more how we used that time as we launch Ignite Your Relationship Mojo). We had great food. (I was re-introduced to southern grits and sweet tea – : )!) I had my first facial. Laughed. Cried. Was reminded just how powerful and awesome a group of woman can be when working together to make each of us stronger and feel more empowered. Indeed, it was a great weekend.

However, what I find myself wanting tell you more about in this blog post is my magnificent mirror, Murphy the horse.

Part of our weekend was a day at Norwood Stables with Sheppard Lake and some horses. Now you know how I love horses. I was thrilled when I learned that was our special treat for Saturday. Plus, Shepard is an awesome coach and dear friend. So I was all in!!!

Murphy wasn’t the horse I thought I would be working with. No Murphy and I met when Sheppard needed another horse and Murphy was bought to the round pen early. Since Sheppard knew I had horse experience she asked me to stay with him until she was ready.

Murphy was very happy to wait and just enjoy the grass. I found myself stuck there in the hot, sweltering sun wondering if it wouldn’t be better to move into the shade. Murphy was not so inclined. We had a brief difference of opinion and compromised with me ever so slightly in the shade and him, still holding his sunny grassy spot. Not much was going to move Murphy!

Murphy moved into his round pen sessions. Both were sessions where Murphy mostly stood and held space for each individual to work through some deeper feelings. He looked content to just be present, no judgement, offering only quiet acceptance. I watched and wondered – was this really his nature or was he like the many horses I have witnessed – they’ll be whatever is needed.

The sessions ended and Sheppard had time for one more person. I wasn’t planning on stepping in with Murphy. But I had this curiosity.

Something you probably don’t know about me and the horses is that I often hear music. That’s right, music – sometimes whole tunes sometimes just notes. Different music with different horses. I know it sounds a bit woo – but I love the music of the horses!

So I had this wondering about the music in the background that I kept hearing the whole time I stood with and then watched Murphy. So I said, “I’ll go!”

Sheppard asked my intention for the session. I mentioned how I would really love to get more comfortable and at ease with just being me – all of me.

The next 15 minutes were pretty magical. Murphy wanted to play. He galloped, danced and moved around the round pen. I skipped, galloped and danced myself. It was easy. We were in rhythm, and it was awesome! That music in the background was a wonderful Celtic jig.

I stepped out of the arena feeling very alive and full.

The session really reminded me of my own mastery.  Murphy mirrored so many parts of me. I can be stubborn (or keep eating grass (insert craft beer here) even when I should cut out the calories). I can be present, hold space and go deep with people.

I also can play, dance and find joy and humor.

Murphy was a great teacher.

A stepped away from the coaching session, really the whole day with the horses, reminded:

Sometimes you need to hold space and just be,
sometimes you need to eat grass,
sometimes you need to play and do your own version of a jig!!

Yes, my moments with Murphy were special and he was a magnificent mirror.

Murphy reminded me, I really do enjoy being me. All of me.

Now me loving me, hasn’t always been easy. But I think I’m getting it. I am okay, and I do enjoy finding the joy and humor in all that’s crazy, dark and deep.

Thanks Murphy!
Thanks Sheppard!
Thanks Susan Hyatt and My MasterMind group!

The Lessons of Humpty Dumpty and Horses

Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the King’s horses and All the King’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again

As a child this was simple nursery rhyme that was spoken, sung and incorporated into a variety of games.

I imagine I chuckled at the message back then.

Of course all the King’s men (and ladies) couldn’t put Humpty together again!

Why would Humpty Dumpty want to be put back together again?

We get so focused on Humpty being broken as the problem. I am beginning to believe that broken isn’t a problem at all. It’s an amazing opportunity for transformation and re-membering!

I believe we are having a Humpty Dumpty moment here in the States (and most of the planet) and of course all the King’s men are not going put us together again.

At least not in the way we think we should be!

So nursery rhymes are one thing and I know this is serious adult business.

So let’s apply a lesson from nature that speaks to the same message, only even more profoundly for me.

Yes, I am finding my joy working with horses. There are many, many reasons why this makes perfect sense. But there is one piece that I don’t hear talked about quite as much as all the science around mirror neurons and herd dynamics and such and that’s the story of how horses are the fastest species to go from domesticated (broken) back to feral (their true natural state of being in the wild).

You got to wonder – how is that possible?

Horses surrender!

We don’t, usually. But we can and there in lines the potential wonder of allowing oneself to be broken.

You got to wonder why horses ever engaged in their relationship with us. I know many will say they didn’t – we made them.

But let’s be clear – it was a relationship and like any relationship there were two parties playing their part.

Having now watched horse dynamics in many, many situations there is one thing that keeps shining through from the horse and that’s something about their ability to transform broken  into re-membering, returning to their true nature!

That horse in the picture above is Osa, she was broken and she wasn’t very comfortable with people when she arrived at Stillwater Horse Whisper Ranch.  Wouldn’t really now that now would you!!

Makes me think there’s more to the Humpty Dumpty story too. Because you know the truth is we started as an egg and frankly never would have gotten here with being broken.

Those Kings bring a mighty sword to the party and there’s all sorts of stories about why that is good, bad, painful, powerful etc, etc. – but again without that sword – that egg would have never been broken, you or me, would never have entered the picture. There’s something about that moment of conception that is worth considering.

I have been one to say at times, “you are not broken” – and I think I want to shift that. Yes, we are broken and that is a beautiful aspect of being human! It’s also a critical choice point. Will I surrender, will I fight, will I find a way home or make to my feral (natural) state!

I think we stay too focused on trying to stop people, the planet or simply the egg from being broken and that is not a problem to solve!

That is a very old story, that creates great suffering.

Just go watch a horse and discover another story-line that makes broken a beautiful opportunity for creating relationships.

My Fear of Fat

Just recently I stepped onto the scale and discovered that I had gained five pounds. Now I knew it had been a while and that I had been allowing myself some space to enjoy the Flathead Valley’s craft beers and various Whitefish food fare.

I was also skiing regularly, walking or running with my dog Rosie and was diligent with my home yoga routine. As I digested the new number on the scale, I reminded myself that muscle weighs more than fat. Therefore, I didn’t need to panic.

But within a short period of time, panic was in full pursuit, screaming a need to fast immediately. I was ready to apply whatever sum of cash was required to get into a 10-day cleanse, juicing experience, or something that would deal with my surfacing FEAR of FAT!

To distract myself, I turned to social media. As if in answer to my needs, what should appear on my newsfeed but an Ad with an incredibly buff woman in a fitness bra, tights, and doing a move that required great strength and flexibility. What was loudest for me was her rock-solid abs and perfect dimensions. Right there on the Ad was the statement: The 10-day yoga program that will make you look like this!!

You may be thinking I signed up. But no – I blew up! I went into a full-on rage. Bullshit! Her body was not the result of any damn 10-day program!

I really, really hate that type of Ad campaign. It’s possible that with her genes and diet, at some point, she did ten days of intense yoga that shaped her into something even better than she already was. She may even believe her yoga routine maintains her excellent balance between muscle mass and flexibility. Well, let’s not forget her perfect bone structure, great hair and flawless young skin. But I can tell you one thing for sure: no 10-day program – be it yoga, fat camp, fitness boot camp – is going to transform my genes, scars, wrinkles and body into that!

The idea that Facebook decided this advertisement was best for me pissed me off! However, this Facebook Ad did knock some sense into me. I didn’t make any radical decisions based on my Facebook feed or my visit to the scale. Nor did I rant and fire off hate mail to that perfect looking yogini.

Instead, I decided it’s time to face my FEAR of FAT! Not run. Not stop eating. Not do a new intense exercise program. But stop and face my fear.

What you need to know is I was a fat kid. Since the age of 11, I started putting on weight, and can honestly say, with a touch of flush as I write these words, that I weighed more between the ages of 12 to 14 than I ever weighed as an adult.

Not only did I have weight issues, I did nothing to improve my looks. In fact, related to clothing, hair or make-up, I went the other way. I dressed more like a boy than a girl. My shoulder-length hair was either scrappy and full of tangles or cut short like I was wearing a soup bowl on my head. You could’ve read the invisible sign on my forehead that shouted: “Stay the f*ck away from me!”

I know now that kid had a whole bunch of reasons for getting fat, keeping everyone away and doing her damnedest to project “Don’t mess with me!” But I also know that young girl cared very deeply and had simply given up on humans.

Food was something that was comforting and relatively safe. Being called fat was simply a cost factor for a very reliable line of defense: fat, ugly and untouchable.

Then I discovered sports. I was a pretty good athlete – a fat one but a good one. I could play a mean game of tennis, and when I decided to make sports my new refuge – hockey and basketball became favorites. I wasn’t great, but I was determined, and underneath all that fat was some rock-solid coordination and tenacity.

Sports became my lifeline to human contact.

I soon discovered I could, with enough running and working out, stop the rising scales. I found a way to protect and guard myself that did not involve being fat! Exercise replaced food as a way to get far, far away from my fears, my terror and my demons, which made it critical to not get to close to people!

However, back to our perfect yogini. Even at the pinnacle of my athletic career, which involved playing three sports and practicing four to five hours a day, I never ever looked anything close to her – NEVER!

With all my exercise, I ran myself smack into the hospital in my early 20’s. I hadn’t noticed I had lost almost 60 pounds, which tells you about my relationship with my body. At 5’6” I was just under 100 pounds.

You might be thinking, eating disorder, and there’s some truth to that. But the real factor of my weight loss was cancer. Yes, the fight to not feel my fear, my terror and my demons had run its course. There’s a lot more to the cancer story but that’s a book, not an article on my FEAR of FAT.

Let me just say, in losing all that weight and even being very, very ill, I started to get lots of attention. Men suddenly found me attractive. I was boney and skinny and wearing a size 6. I was a piece of nothing, but there’s something about any woman that slender that attracts a certain response from men. I had never had that type of attention!

Sure, the dying of cancer wasn’t so great – but skinny – well, there was something about that I liked.

Seven years later, after a clean bill of health from cancer, I realized I had a new problem.

I was terrified of going back to FAT! This new problem has now been going on for the better part of twenty-five years. I don’t talk much about it. It’s not like cancer. It’s not the thing friends want to support you in facing. It’s a bit like mental illness, which I could write about too, but I’ll stick to fat.

When I saw the perfect yogini Facebook Ad, my rage exploded. I let myself feel fully. The rage turned into a deep grief and I wailed.

Then I realized my fear of fat would never be resolved by being thin.

Being fat was not the problem. I’m not ugly, and I am not even fat. I do, though, have trouble feeling fully. I don’t particularly like crying or feeling deep grief. Yet, life, and being in relationship with people and this world, does offer a lot to feel deeply about, and it is not all happy and positive!

I won’t be going on any radical diets or fasting for now, nor will I go on a Facebook fast. I just need to be kinder to myself and maybe stop running and exercising so much to the point of not noticing when my body, heart, or spirit needs some attention.

I simply need to feel deeply.

My fear of fat is not over. But I am much more committed to turning towards the fear and facing it rather than running to get further and further away from myself and my feelings.

It’s Been Too Long & Life Goes On

It’s been a long time!

My last blog came just after the election.  I felt inspired to write and request some space, some time to think and not have to answer questions about how we could possibly elect someone like Trump.

I didn’t think it would be this long.

Life moved on.

I have a business to keep moving forward and a community of friends that remind me that even if Trump has won, we will go forward.

I did find some peace for myself.  Politics is a crazy, impersonal sport that has very little to do with the true hearts of people.  I say this because when I spoke to people I knew that voted for Trump, they were not racist or sexist people.  They were frightened, angry, disheartened about their own circumstances and lives and somehow thought that Trump would do things different.

I may not have agreed with their choice and I get we are here now.  There’s no turning back.  We got Trump.

I admit I lost a little heart when I saw the front page headline of the NYTimes with Obama saying he would have won a third term over Trump.  That just sort of pissed me off!

Really – Obama, can’t you do better than that.  Personally I think that was just a cheap shot on your way out.  Not really like the man I think you are.  I got use to hearing that talk from the likes of Trump – but not you – disappointing!

Anyway it’s time to move on!  We, the people, each have a life to live and people we care about to protect and make sure politics don’t continue to get in the way of talking, connecting, bridging and actually making our country and the world a better place to live  for everyone!!!

img_05772016 is coming to a close and even though this election has made a lot of it challenging there’s much more to a year than what makes the news!

We each have our lives that often don’t have a whole helluva a lot to do with headlines.  Even the people who are making those headlines usually are so much more than what we read about or see on the screen.

Life is NOT lived through media and politics!

So for me, this year has been about finding my Mojo here in Montana. Of course I still visit many other places for work, for connections with family, friends and some strong doses of chi building and heart healing.

However, this year I have wanted to do more right here!  It helps that I found the world’s best horse whisperer, Bobbi Hall and some very special horses.  I love the work I am getting to do with clients, friends, teams and myself out at Stillwater Horse Whisper Ranch!

I love that CrisMarie and I have our book written and will be launching, The Beauty of Conflict – Harnessing Your Teams’ Competitive Advantage, early in 2017!  It’s been a journey writing this book and I am thrilled to get it out into the world.

We’ve also been speaking and connecting more here in the valley.  We are engaged in PowerHouseMT, spoke at AERO and got to meet and write about some awesome couples here in the Flathead doing business together!

I found out there’s a Haven right here in my own hometown.  It’s for writer’s and it’s quite a amazing experience, offered by our local NYTimes bestselling writer and good friend of Bobbi Hall, Laura Munson.  She’s awesome and I believe we’ll be doing some more work together!  It’s amazing when the dots connect!!

The year’s also had some low points.  There have been some friendships ending and programs canceled.  It’s hard letting go of something that you think is going to be solid and yet it’s not.  Sure that’s been hard.

Still I don’t regret, the time spent or the acknowledgement of the need to let go.

It’s provided important lessons, I don’t like to say, “I quit”.  Especially when it comes to people.  But may be sometimes that is just what’s needed for all to be able to move on and build from the lessons learned!

We haven’t had our best financial year and that plays a factor in how we each deal with not meeting our expectations.  Were we successful?  Yes – but revenue/profit does matter and so even with some great learning, fulfilling work and new lines of business – it’s not easy looking at the final numbers.

This year, I traveled back to my hometown.  It’s been thirty plus years since I left.  I went with my mom to take my father’s ashes.  (Now that is a funny story worth writing and sharing but not today!) It wasn’t an easy decision but it was a good one.  I made it and I stayed okay with myself.  Visited the old homestead.  Acknowledged my Dad’s wishes for ashes scattered across Virginia and managed not to get reactive!

I reconnected with a friend from way back.  We shared some stories and some similarities about our journey living with our own versions of ‘crazy’.  I honestly never expected to have that type of connection.  Actually no longer thought I needed it and may be that is just why it was time for it to happen, I didn’t need it.  But it sure felt like something worth having.

I enjoy this time of year.  Reflecting, imagining and celebrating.

So the year is wrapping up and it’s been a good one.  I hope you will be inspired to take some time to reflect and share your year.

It’s a great opportunity to re-member and make space for whatever is due to come next!

Wishing you a wonderful end to 2016 and a great 2017!!

 

The Secrets About Boundaries and Me

I consider myself someone who is quite good at speaking up for myself in general.  As a result, I have spent years working with clients, supporting and encouraging them to find their own voice and risk speaking up even if it may create conflict in their most important relationships.

Truth is, surfacing conflict really did save my life.  So I have been passionate about it.  It’s not that I love conflict.  I don’t.  However, a lack of conflict and overly nice and calm is way more of a safety issue for me than loud and messy.

Why?

The easy answer is simple.  Not speaking up can and does lead to health issues.

Stay silent long enough and your body talks, in the form of headaches, backaches, joint pain, and even cancer.  If you want references check out Dr. Gabor Mate’s book, When the Body Says No.

My personal experience is that my cancer began to resolve when I found my voice and spoke up.  I believe staying silent creates ‘dis-ease’ in you, negatively impacting your health.

But please don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying if your are ill you must not be saying something.  It is not that simple!  However, speaking up and speaking your truth does help your sense of well-being and life energy.

But there’s more to it.

I’ve been in relationship now for over 16 years with a classic Conflict Avoider, CrisMarie. Yes, she has good reasons for having developed a super power in navigating and defusing conflict.  In many ways, it has served her well.  However, there has been a tremendous cost to her.  You can hear her story in our TED Talk, Conflict Use It, Don’t Defuse It.   It’s also been hard for me and our relationship.

See I do not pick up on her subtle cues. I am also the first to own up to being blunt, persistent and persuasive about my ideas.

As a result, I have gotten upset when I learned later that CrisMarie was quite uncomfortable with my strong debate style, but didn’t say anything at the time.

I am sad when I realize she was asking me questions and working to meet my needs without ever bringing up what she wanted.

I feel blindsided and betrayed  when she has addressed her unhappiness and even once thought she might want to end our relationship because she wasn’t sure there was room for her.

Wow!

That particular situation was a horrible moment for me.  In my past, I would have quickly tried to change and  stopped speaking up.  Although, having done that before and knowing it did not work,  I chose I different path.

I stayed with me and my style, and I also encouraged her to do whatever it took to find her voice even if it might meant leaving me.

So far, that has not happened.  She’s been working on her own track for a while now and yes, it has impacted our relationship.  She is speaking up. We fight more or at least differently.

Things get tense we sometimes separate and each take space to settle ourselves.  When we’re with others she doesn’t often come to my defense when I get into my own reactive style. No, instead, she usually tells me what she really thinks.  Sometimes that stings.  Yet, I know I am getting straight feedback from her these days, and I like that – even when I hurt myself with it.

As a result, I have also discovered my own issues with boundaries.  For me, it’s not so much saying something I don’t like or think differently about. No. It’s often more about saying, “Ouch! That hurts.”

I tend to have a protective layer that can be more like a wall than a boundary.  I have a fight style that served me well in my past and now can be hard to dissolve.  So people may not know that they are having quite a significant impact on me, and my angry face or silence is a mask.  Underneath, I may be swimming in uncertainty or worse hurting myself with something they’ve said.

When I am at my best I drop the wall and stand forward in my vulnerability.  However, that’s at my best, and I am far from perfect.  I do still wrestle with my walls when I interpret an attack. It is often worse when I am blindsided by a situation where I thought someone was standing beside me, and later learned they were just too afraid to speak and tell me they didn’t like what, or how, I said something.

That moment.

When someone finally finds their voice after long time, and I didn’t know they were being silent to avoid conflict with me.

That moment.

When that truth surfaces, is the most painful for me and yet, the most valuable. It’s the reason I believe surfacing conflict, speaking your truth in real time and hanging in through the messy is so worth it.

I also know I have my own work to do.  Because when I don’t say, “Ouch!” or own up my wobbly vulnerability,  I am really just as dishonest and in avoidance for being real in that moment.

Walls are not boundaries.

Boundaries are not about defense but about self-definition.

Boundaries are for defining me and showing up – not about changing you.

When, and if, me and you ever learn that lesson – well may be then we can live in a more self-responsible relational world!

Do you recognize yourself in any of the above?

CrisMarie and I started Be BRAVE, a six week virtual program, because we believe that speaking up, learning to self-define and stay in your own shoes is critical for aliveness, health, success in business and in any significant relationship or partnership.

If you want to learn more join us for our FREE Training, September 14, How To Set Boundaries that Stick!

Also, we are so excited because we have added a 3-Day In Person Retreat for Be BRAVE!! It is right here in in our charming town of Whitefish Montana.

I’ll be working with you on boundaries using a horse in an arena! You’ll meet a real life cowgirl, horse whisperer, there will be a photo shoot with you and the horses, and mind-body work to help you settle your nervous system in the midst of conflict!

Plus you’ll be eating organic and gourmet food, staying in luxurious accommodations!

You just get yourself to Whitefish and we take care of the rest! Sign up now there are only 6 spots left!!

Check out our three options for Be BRAVE if you are ready to find your voice and speak up!

 

 

The Silence Isn’t Quiet

There’s this knot that aches in my chest.

It goes away when I see my dog play at the dog park or listen to a piece of music, but it doesn’t take long to come back.

susie2When I turn inward that knot belongs to a little girl inside. I promised her I’d take some time to write. To see if words or telling her stories would help heal, or at least allow, the grief.

There is so much about my life now that I love! I love my relationship. I love our dog Rosie who thinks life is all about play. I love living in Montana.

It’s true, lots of my life is good! Very good. So where does the deep ache come from?

Maybe it’s hard to be happy when I see so many people suffering. There is so much that goes on inside as I watch the news, read about the shootings of black men, and of white policemen, listening as people around me talk about racism, sexism, homophobia, politics, being white, being black, being young, being old, just being human. I often stay silent. But I am not quiet inside.

Maybe it is about how all lives should matter, not just white ones, and how some people have to work harder to get that point across.

The thing is, I am part of all this. I am racist, sexist, homophobic.  I probably don’t know the half of it. The events of my life color how I put my world together, and I make judgments in a heartbeat. Sometimes I’m conscious of it, sometimes not. I believe it is how we humans are wired. It is the best of us and the worst of us.

And so, I can certainly educate myself about cultural diversity and learn about the history of systemic white privilege. It’s important to know. But unless I pay attention also to the very personal and emotional filter of my life, it’s not going to make much difference.

And so, when I hear that little girl screaming inside, I must pay attention.

She asked me to tell her story, to write my book, and I keep getting stuck.

Stuck living in this moment or that next one, and the book goes background.

Until a day like today, when she feels so angry because she hears that she was privileged.

My little girl doesn’t get it.

I tell my little girl there’s truth to that – that white privilege is real, and that my life really could have been worse.

She does not agree.
It’s not that simple.

She remembers how it felt when she was raped at four (and again over and over). She remembers how it felt when she spoke up about his horrible acts and was called imaginative.
She remembers that overly liked camp director who preached goodness and for years chose to do whatever he damn well pleased after dark.
She knew. She tried to tell. No one listened.
She screams, “It’s not fair!”
It isn’t.

He wanted her silenced.
She got angry and punched a hole in the wall.
The doctor said she had an anger problem and gave her drugs.

Life moved on.

There was school and the dyslexic issue. But being laughed at for misspellings and not being able to read – that was nothing. You know – sticks and stones and rape and broken bones – that at least had passed – words would really never hurt her.

Except they did.

Then there was fifth grade, where she was at a predominately black school.
Charlotte bullied her regularly.
She spoke up. No one did anything.
So she ran for Student Counsel President on the platform to stop bullying.
She got one vote – hers, which got broadcasted over the public speakers in homeroom.
She wanted to cry and ran to the bathroom.
Charlotte was in the bathroom.
Needless to say tears were not going to help.
But what are a few more bruises and bumps when you are privileged – or will be some day?

She moved on and found a path playing tennis, hockey and basketball. She had loved little league but you know – girls couldn’t play baseball once they hit age 9 – even if they were much better than the boys.

But she was fortunate to be athletic. Baseball may be out, but there were other games to play and ways to run, run, and run from feeling the ache beneath her white skin.

Ugly and athletic. That worked once she hit high school and was the only white girl in an inner city black school. Sure there are some down sides. Like being the poster white kid during the two weeks the TV Series Roots was on and getting beaten up each day for that great honor of being white and privileged.

She was a survivor, and really I think amazingly creative and resilient.

Of course, when being white might have finally been a benefit heading to college at University of Virginia, by this time she was, I’ll just say, different.

She tried to fit in and she did some things really well.

But still there was a lot about life that just kept hammering away at that creative spirit.

After a number of years of fighting cancer in her 20s, she did find a home, a place that welcomed her and made it okay for her to be different. She started learning to be self-responsible and relational.

Not that being self-responsible and relational were easy. Taking responsibility for her life was hard, lonely, hellish at times. But she found her way and finally found a way to integrate – not get rid of – her past.

She found her loving. She didn’t think that it much mattered that it was with a woman.  And it really didn’t, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t one more thing that made her different.

So back to me and today and my ache in my chest. Yes, on the outside I stand looking white, gray haired, and privileged. I get it. I am that white woman, who made it out of my past.

And I am privileged to still be walking this earth. But let me just say walking on this earth has not been easy. I haven’t often felt privileged and now that I do have a little taste of privilege, I guess I am not willing to make it wrong. I don’t have any desire to say my life matters more or less than anyone else.

My best friends in high school were black and when I needed people to stand by me when hate was running wild in a crowd – it was my high school basketball team that did. They circled me and the riot police circled them and we walked out of a crazy auditorium of people who wanted me dead. My all black team did not hesitate. We stood together, and I would stand with any one of them again.

I will stand with anyone for a while who thinks they stand alone. Sometimes that is enough to help someone find their own voice. People need to find their voice and legs again – to know they matter.

So back to my little girl, because, the heart of this story is for her – because she really didn’t think she was privileged.

And now it’s me that has to make sure she knows she matters.

When I do that I know that other people matter too. I don’t have an answer to all this pain, but I do believe that it starts by remembering that we are all much more than the color of our skin, our sex or sexuality. We each come with our stories.

The stories won’t go away, but we can take responsibility for what we do with our stories – and I think when we do that we can and will be much more curious, interested and loving when we listen to the story of another!