Viewing entries tagged
stories

A Matter of Perspective

I am in awe of Spring.

This year in particular it seems that she has had to work extra hard to come forth from behind the dark veil of Winter. Here in Michigan, our Winter was longer and snowier than ever before - both in my opinion, and in meteorological history.

Now my backyard is an oasis of growth, a beacon of hope for what is sure to come out of the darkness, even when it doesn't seem possible.

Not long ago, I stared from inside my house out to my backyard and this is what I saw….


I took that picture during one of our last snowfalls near the end of March (March 25 to be exact). I couldn't believe it was snowing again. I didn't think any of us could tolerate another flake of snow. Even though I typically enjoy the beauty of winter, I was so tired of the colorless landscape that this snowfall was depressing. Even after the snow melted, I stared at the naked trees not believing they would ever bear leaves again. It just didn't seem possible after the brutal weather we experienced - that something so desolate could ever be lush again.

Today my backyard looks like this…


I watched in awe as the little leaf buds popped, the grass began to turn from brown to green, the sky returned to its trademark blue, and finally the buds turned to full grown leaves. It is amazing, isn't it?

Same creek in the back. Same trees. I'm looking out from the same house. The same person. And everything looks completely different.

This change in perspective is a simple yet powerful thing. Seeing these trees from Spring's window is so completely different than seeing them from Winter's. Yes, the trees themselves are different too, but does that really matter? What if when I looked out the window on March 25th, I chose to see the potential for growth I see now?

What if when I looked in the mirror this morning, irritated by the way my shirt stretched across my large chest, I saw her…


Instead of her…



Would there have been less grumbling? Would there have been such doubt in her reflection - her beauty, her worthiness, her capacity to shine?

Last week in our online coaching circle for our e-course Make Space to Shine, my dear friend and teaching partner, Libby and I began to explore perspective with the class. Libby brought her life coaching tool - her Perspective Wheel to the table and blew me away with the insights that came with it.

Surprisingly, the new insights were mostly mine. With Libby's gentle nudge, I began to see what for me was a stumbling block in growing my business from a few different perspectives - from my daughter's perspective, my future self's perspective, and even from the perspective of a painting hanging on my wall. Same stumbling block. Different perspective.

Usually our perspectives are the result of a story we have come to believe about ourselves. A story someone else may have helped us write. A story that may not even be true. Sometimes a story we carry for our entire lives was written in a matter of minutes, even seconds.

Exploring these stories - how they came to be and who helped us write them gives us the opportunity to dig deep, and sometimes we don't like what we find. The beauty in digging though is that we get to decide what to keep and what to throw away. We get to decide. WE get to decide.

The skills we lacked when the story was written are more developed now. Whether the story came into being twenty years ago or 20 minutes ago, we now have the capacity to see it in retrospect. Consequently, we can choose whether we want to rewrite the story from a new perspective or keep it like it is.

Accepting our stories as is opens us to the possibility that there were lessons learned or gifts given. Acceptance is as powerful as revision. Acceptance neutralizes what was once a source of shame or guilt. By digging into this story and accepting what came of it, we disempower it. No longer does it have a hold on us.

We can completely rewrite our stories. Or, maybe we can keep the essence of the story, but change how it impacts our lives. A story of what was lost when a loved one passes becomes a story of what was gained in knowing this person. We can decide whether we want a co-author or whether we will go it alone. We can take it slow. We can stop and start again. We can crumple up our latest draft and start fresh. All along the way, we get to decide.

I write my story. You write yours.

Where could you benefit from seeing a situation in your life through a fresh set of eyes? Will you try it? Will you choose hope? Growth? Potential? Or will you choose something different? It's all up to you.

xoxoxo


I've Had Enough...


I am in a bit of a pickle.

You see, for the last two years or so I have been engaged in a whole lot of soul work. Along the way I have come in contact with hundreds of women both in person and in online groups and classes, and the one thing that keeps coming up for all of us is the belief that we are lacking in some way, or in most cases, in a lot of ways.

It is almost like a rash we have been infected with - this belief that we are not enough.

It isn't all that complicated either. We are born - whole, precious, miraculous, pure, soft-skinned packages filled with goodness. Then, somewhere along the way, we begin to believe a tale that involves the numerous ways in which we are not enough. Each of our stories is different… Mine is "I am not smart enough. I am not experienced enough. I am not likable enough. I am not pretty enough. My hair is not long enough. I am not skinny enough…" It makes my stomach churn to share that with you. There were other variations that included all the ways I didn't have enough.

I remember what it felt like the first time someone said to me: "You are enough." I was shocked. I was afraid to respond because I knew anything I said would prove to her how wrong she really was. I even felt like a fraud unsure of how I could convince anyone that I was enough when clearly I was not. Now, I know I am enough even though I forget sometimes.

I know my story. I know how painful it was to see it all come together over the years. I remember the people who helped me write it - most likely without the intention of causing me harm. It was a long and lonely story. It has been a HUGE amount of work to rewrite it.

I also know so many other stories that are a lot like mine. I see the hurt in the eyes of these beautiful women as they tell their stories. Some of them believe that they are not enough. It breaks my heart that they cannot see the whole, precious, miraculous, pure, maybe not so soft-skinned but still better than ever being that I see when I look at them. I want them to know the story they are telling is based on lies. So much work goes into rewriting our stories… that is if we even have the heart to rewrite them. Some of us never will.

And now, I am watching in disbelief as my very own son's story begins to take shape. His spirit cannot be contained in a 2x2 place at a table full of other children. He likes to wiggle and squirm. He starts conversations when he is asked to be quiet.

My son's story already has a chapter detailing all the ways that he is not enough. The adults in his life have written it for him by telling him that he isn't okay as is - that he isn't good enough.

He is 8 years-old. He is at a crucial point in his development because this is when the stories start to really stick. This is where a seemingly small slight or joke made at his expense can make a huge impact. It can be devastating. It can change the course of his life.

So, what do I do? I can't control the storytellers. Even if I could - how long can that go on? Will it be enough for him to hear my husband and me whisper in his ear each night "you are enough" when all day long he hears otherwise?

This is my cry for help.

If you are an adult who has children or who works with children, please be mindful of the ways in which you communicate with them.

It may be true that my son makes it difficult for you to maintain a sense of control over the space you are in. It may be true that his tendency to get distracted is distracting to others. I would by lying if I said I wasn't experiencing the same child at home. Here's the thing though: my son's behavior is directly related to a need he has and cannot express. Could you maybe take a minute to check in with him before shaming him in front of his peers? I think you could.

Don't destroy a child's sense of self because what he or she is doing isn't convenient for you.

You can be honest and kind at the same time. I'm not suggesting you allow the children in your life to reenact Lord of the Flies when you're with them. I am suggesting you be careful about the ways you respond to children. In any response you have to a child's behavior, I estimate there is about a 99% chance that your response has nothing to do with the child and everything to do with you. Your response is a projection of you and your life experience - the way you were parented, the way you were taught, the stories you've come to believe about yourself. Your negative response comes from a place of discomfort with what the child is doing.

My friend Mariah Belt calls this place - where we respond from a need to control - the Dominant  Paradigm. The alternative is the Peaceful Paradigm (Mariah teaches the Peaceful Paradigm in her work as a Peaceful Parenting coach). Here, we come from a place of curiosity with the intention of connection. We might notice a disruptive behavior then head on over to a child like my son and say, "What's up little guy? Can you tell me more about that?" Rather than, "Stop it! You are being bad! Go sit on the bench…" It's a shift, but it can happen.

I love the Peaceful Paradigm. It feels right to me. I understand that it may not resonate with everyone. I also recognize that the words we use are powerful. So, after experiencing and witnessing the pain that results from a lifetime of being told that any of us are lacking in any way - that any of us could possibly not be enough - I beg of you, please stop the madness. Stop helping children to write these fictional stories about themselves. Be kind. Be mindful of the ways you speak to children, knowing that what you say, even if it was never intended to cause pain, can be devastating.

Thank you.