If You Are Tempted To Give Unsolicited Advice, Please Read This First

When you are someone who deeply cares about people and the world, you are bound to have opinions about how things can be better, what would make a bigger impact or how to achieve the best outcome.  If you are smart, involved and invested, you likely have opinions. Most people who never give advice are not necessarily kinder people, but often resigned that there is anything they can say that really matters or they simply don’t care.  If you want to tell people things, you are most likely passionate.  I truly respect that and it’s actually why I shifted the way I now hear other people’s advice even when I know I didn’t ask for it.

Regardless of our passion and best intentions though, it makes no sense to spend any of our time and energy if it was going to land in a black hole, or even worse, if we  are going to be misunderstood and possibly attacked for it.  It is, therefore, so important to step back and think twice before we say something.  There is a saying in my culture that roughly translates as: “measure many times, but cut only once.”  I would say, think it over many times before you actually speak, or communicate, what you want to say.

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I believe that, regardless of our good intentions, it is our job to assure that what we are wanting to say is not only said as clearly as we could possibly say it, but is not falling on deaf ears and is actually making a difference for the person we are speaking to. The most important first step is: Understand why you want to say what you are saying, look for the agenda you may have, resolve for yourself that your communication is not merely a reaction to something that happened to you, or a response to something that isn’t happening now.  If you really look at this, often times you may realize that you are reacting to something and it will make it less important for you to speak to the person you originally wanted to give an advice to. You may realize, this is your own inner insecurity and something that isn’t so much about what you are to tell others but what you need to resolve with yourself.

I attended many transformational programs in my attempt to better understand myself and others.  In one of my first seminars, during the conversations about selling the next program, I raised my hand to acknowledge the current seminar team (volunteers). The leader asked me if I was open to having a breakthrough. When I accepted, she asked: “what had you raise your hand exactly during the sales conversation and not a moment sooner?”  Initially, I really thought that this was on my mind an entire evening, but she insisted that there was no accident I interrupted the sales conversation and not a moment earlier.  My eyes teared up as I realized, I was ashamed that I couldn’t afford to take the next program and was considering volunteering as it would provide me with the training and I wouldn’t have to pay.  Suddenly, an entire group of 80+ participant was moved by my transparency.  Those who could afford to go on were moved by my courage and those that couldn’t now new the way to continue their journey of transformation even though they didn’t have the money to pay for it.

In short, I made a difference. In my case, what I had to say was uncovered with a support of a very trained seminar leader.  We don’t always have that luxury, but it is always wise to think through what we want to say and why we are actually saying it.

Even when we are clear that we really have something to say, it is never OK to just “dump” our view on someone else without first asking their permission.  Dumping is simply inappropriate, but asking permission to say something allows the other person to set themselves up and be ready to hear what we have to say.  This doesn’t guarantee they will like it, most people just want to avoid looking bad at all cost so they won’t take feedback well at all.  However, being granted permission usually prevents people from getting  very defensive, and we have a fair shot at being heard.

After having the kids, I noticed my husband would get defensive when I made suggestions to him.  Luckily, we talked about it openly and he told me that he didn’t get defensive because he disagreed with me, but because of how and when I brought it up.    In moments when my husband was pressed with time and already feeling like he was failing, when I made suggestion, it sounded to him more like a complaint than constructive criticism and he wouldn’t take it well.  In addition, he often saw it as lack of gratitude and appreciation for all the things that he actually was doing and doing well.  This now has me work harder on finding a way to still speak my truth instead of forcing it down when it is convenient for me.  I also do my best to include my gratitude before I was talking say anything and this has really improved our relationship.

Lastly, we want to ask, is what we are saying really making a difference to that person?  I often feel like downloading my advice in comment section on social media and especially when people already openly ask for advice.  But here is a question I ask:  what is a difference we are trying to make and frankly, why are we giving it away for free? Most people are not going around wanting to give free advice to people who are in desperate need for it.  We are far more likely to want to say something to people we feel are doing well otherwise, it’s just this one thing that we feel we can add.  It often comes from us wanting to sound smart and be seen as someone qualified rather than an actual commitment to making a difference.  This is why, lately, every time I have an urge to give unsolicited advice, I write my own post about it and post on my Facebook, Instagram, or in this blog.  At least this way, I am honest with the difference I want to make:  I want to be seen and heard for the wisdom I share with people.  It takes discipline, but it’s far more satisfying at the end.

When it comes to unsolicited advice, there are rare occasions when the urge to communicate is stronger than everything I mentioned above.  I believe in exceptions though.  There are times and situations where we know the other person can’t even see that something that we have so much knowledge about and because that is a blind spot for them.  If the damage of the other person not seeing something is high, we may take a risk and say something anyway.  But if we are to do that, we have to address the elephant in a room, and call it what it is.  It may sound as simple as: “I know this is the advice you never asked for, but my knowing X makes me want to say Y so strongly and I hope you can consider it as I am really wanting to make a difference as wish someone have done it with me.”

At the end of the day, the truth is,  nobody really has to listen to our musings.  As wise and important as we may think we are, I believe people have freedom to live their life the best way they know how and have no obligation to hear us out.  If we remember that, I think we can nail the best thing to do most of the time.

 

 

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UNSOLICITED ADVICE: Is It Really Bad or Are We Too Good for It?

What is the problem with unsolicited advice anyway?

Would you rather live in a vacuum of constant praise so that your ego never takes a hit, or would you rather be a person who is so in integrity with who she/he is that nothing someone else says or do can define you but rather only be an opportunity for growth and your own personal expansion?  Is unsolicited advice perhaps the Universe delivering free coaching from the mouth of a human disguised as your enemy? Don’t people we dislike with passion help us grow the most?

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I am a New York mom of 2 very active and smart boys (ages 5.5 and almost 3) and have been running my own life coaching business for the past 6 years.  I breastfed my kiddos for the total of 3 years (the first one for 2 years and the younger one for a year) and I didn’t send them into kindergarten until they were solid toddlers, able to walk and communicate the essence of how they were feeling.  I used to think I was raising my kids alone with my husband because hiring a nanny cost me just as much as it would cost me to go out and work more, but the truth is, I think early childhood years set the stage for the life that follows so I wanted to make sure I gave it my everything.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not one of those moms who think they get it all right. I remember coming home from a hospital with my son in my arms and praying to God he latches on when it’s time to feed him.  We were living in my mom’s apartment temporarily while we were looking for our new home and my mom wasn’t there.  My aunt, who helped my mom raise me never breastfed so I really had nobody I felt I could look up to or ask for a solid advice.  Given I was coming from a different culture, inside of which I didn’t live more than 20 years, I was a little lost trying to figure it all out and make it all work.  As an overachiever, I always liked to muscle things and move through them fast. Having a child, birth by a C-section, I had no choice but to slow down.

I admit, I hated “unsolicited advice” – defined as recommendations about parenting by people who I didn’t ask for their view.  I expected people to respond to my needs and nothing more or less.  In fact, part of why I felt so lonely was because early on, I started sorting out people who I can talk to and people I didn’t want to be around depending on the amount of advice they gave me.  I googled everything and did research, from circumcision, vaccinations, breastfeeding, colic, hic ups, sleep training etc.  I often thought: how in the world people raised children before internet existed.  All in all, I had a fair share of opinions coming my way and I didn’t like any of them.

My dislike of opinions didn’t faze me until I got to be comfortable in my own skin, got some mileage as a mother and birthed my second son, this time with VBAC (vaginal birth after a C-section).  Advice giving didn’t stop, I just got more immune to it.  From time to time, if it was coming from my mother, I’d honestly hate it, but 9 out of 10 times it was not because of what she said was unsolicited or wrong but because she was spot on and I had to step it up to admit it.  My being bothered by advice became directly proportional with my ability to reframe the “unsolicited advice” as a thing on a menu that I may or may not choose to order and eat.  Thinking about it this way gave me enormous freedom and also made people in my life who were trying to help, my allies and not enemies.

As a life coach for more than dozens of years now, I am invested in understanding how human beings work. From my graduate studies in which I binged on psychology classes given my focus on film and writing stories, to my years behind the bar in New York City making friends with people who came to confess perhaps more than to grab a drink, to years of studying spirituality, meditation and mastering my own mind and leadership programs in which we looked what inspired people’s growth, I have grown to understand that we can’t STOP REACTING to things.  Maybe some enlightened gurus that meditate 10 hours a day Vipassana style or alike can learn to let things go the instant they appear, but most of us, mortals are not able to prevent the reaction.  I realized, then, the second best choice is to own our reaction and move passed it.

I don’t try to pretend I ever like anyone telling me how I should do something different or correcting me in any way, but even when it happens, I choose to minimize the gap between me hating it and being able to reframe it into: “they mean well, take what works and drop the rest.”  In my most enlightened moments, which I do have when I am really in a zone, I even see what other people say as my own subconscious on a loud speaker, so I don’t try to destroy what I hear, instead, I embrace the message it carries.

I know, and have felt it on my own skin, that social media platforms are becoming battlefields of opinions on everything from parenting to politics and even fashion tastes.  I sometimes comment to people’s posts to share an opposing view because I do take a stand that I have something powerful and useful to say.  Of course, most people won’t know I am actually qualified for that, but I honestly can say, I do think twice before I post a comment to something.  I noticed very quickly, that while I had some people agree with me and appreciate my courage of sharing a different view, that most others were quite hostile to what I had to say.

I’d reflect back, sometimes, I’d try to take it down a notch, see their point of view and release the charge that they are spewing at me, but most of the time, I would resort into deleting my comment in its entirety and feeling a bit beaten up about it.  I’d share it with my husband, he’d shrug off his shoulder while asking: “does this really matter,” and I would just go back into my little mental hole, trying to digest: “why can’t I just have a different view” and “am I really this mean that people are ready to attack me” (in some cases, go to my personal page and find things to discredit me with).

When I was finally settled to grow my own business and my own listeners out there as my kids were a bit older, I was doing most of it on my own, organically, feeling that there was a value in going slow and steady and learning this new social media marketing craft. I made no short cuts, I used my own pictures, wisdom, messages or posted inspirational quotes. I didn’t have a large amount of followers, but the number of people acknowledging my work was increasing.

Recently, however, I was engaging with a person on Instagram who intrigued me with her views on royal fashion.  It is something I am fascinated by, what famous people wear, from royals to red carpet and everything in between.  It was extra comforting to see that the woman who owns this account was a mom of 2 boys and a writer, journalist in fact.  I often had an opposing view, but for as long as that was about style alone, I was able to shortly let it go. I even deleted my DMs to her expressing appreciation for her doing the work and moving on with my life. Until recently.

One morning as I was checking if she updated the story of the most recent royal event, I noticed that she published an article in the New York Times about Andy Cohen being dad shamed.  She received so much praise for this and her account was filled with comments of congratulations.  One mom expressed a relief for the writer calling people on the unsolicited advice because she felt that because he is a public figure, the stakes were that much higher for him.  I got triggered.  In fact, I couldn’t help not commenting that public figure or not, parents should parent as if someone is always watching.  I mean this in all sincerity and not because I think or expect perfection of any mom or dad out there, but because I truly believe we ought to be accountable.  She responded, kindly, that she wouldn’t want people judging her for keeping her kids in PJs all weekend, forgetting their gloves the other day, or having her dishes in sink for 2 days.  I got her point of view and realized, none of those things were worthy of judgement anyway, what I had to say was beyond that.

After so much reflection back and forth and trying to craft the perfect comment, that won’t sound like shame to people who think that everything that is in disagreement is shaming, and trying to avoid being shamed for it myself, I realized, if I had something to say, perhaps I shouldn’t throw myself under the bus (or this person’s account comment section) but should tell my view and my story in a way that as many people as are willing to listen will hear it.

I believe, as was assured of this in one of the Marianne Williamson’s A Course in Miracles lectures, as in many literature pieces and conversations with other parents who understand, as Khalil Gibran put it:  “Our children are not our children, they are the children of God.”  What I mean is this:  today most of us parent alone, we are closed in our homes or in the distance between work and home and think being a parenting is somehow a lonely act, so we hold on tight and parent from fear of shit breaking loose and things getting out of control.  The older the children the worse it gets, we try to control them not parent them and we try our best to keep “unsolicited advice” at bay.

This is not how parenting happened centuries ago.  People lived in larger families and tribes and each person was accountable for something and children were not just one couple or person’s obsession and job.  They were everyone’s work, and in my opinion, this had the pressure of parenting be a lot less than it is today.  Today, parents have to juggle work and home and raising children and support is available but hefty at price so we try to do our best alone. People walk by a screaming child trying to tune out versus being interested or helpful.   We roll our eyes when another kid is screaming because it is inconvenient while we are jamming our wireless headphones into our ears.  We are connected via social media, but we are profoundly alone.

As a mom, I get the initial annoyance of being given the advice you don’t ask for, but still think that we can’t be so sensitive to another person’s input.  We don’t have to do as advised but it is helpful and appreciated to consider someone else’s view, especially if that someone is a teacher or another parent. Most of the time when I am compelled to say something to someone, it is because I have been there, not because I am judging.  It saddens me that we are trying to create a world in which different opinions or advice isn’t welcomed and has to be shushed instead of considered and refiled as useless if that is what it truly is.

I am writing this with so much humility because my family has recently been through a thorough Child Protective Service investigation and at no fault of our own.  My husband has reached out to a hot line service to see if he can get advice on dealing with his frustrations of parenting but he wrote in the chat something that was taken of the context and resulted in CPS at our door less than an hour later.  While we did talk about it in length, I was still unaware that we was chatting, let alone that he gave a stranger our address, so what transpired was shocking to say the least.

The social workers had 60 days to investigate us and everyone involved in our children’s lives, schools, daycare, my mom, a nanny that only occasionally spends time with them and all of our neighbors. This was a devastating event for me and I admit, I was initially so mad at my husband for putting us through this.  I thought:   “oh, how stupid and Canadian of him thinking he can open up with a complete stranger to talk about his thoughts and alike” (which are extremely transparent given all the transformational work on himself he has done and that people who haven’t done were not really used to).

Over time and those scary 60 days, I have learned that children don’t have a voice except the one we give them.  In other words, I empowered this investigation because deep inside, as inconvenient and expensive as this was for us, I wanted to move out of the way for the sake of my children.  I never, for a second, doubted that I was a good mom and my husband was a good dad, that we were perfect for them and enough, but I got out of the way so that the state of New York can see it too and send me a paper confirming it.

Given our kids were 5 and 2 at the time, we naturally didn’t share this event with them nor did we fill their heads with fear.  It took everything to hold this pain I was feeling and still be an excellent mom but I learned that everything happened for a reason and as shitty as this event was for us, on the receiving end (and especially knowing that there are kids whose rights really need to be protected in this way), I learned to be humble.  I learned that I don’t own my children and that my job is to have them in my care and if there is a view on the outside on how to do that better, I would be all ears to hear it.

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I am not saying: open yourself up to other people’s criticism and to let it pierce through the essence of who you are.  Don’t do that!  But know this, you are not defined by other people’s opinions, so instead of getting on a train of shaming one another to no end in sight, take what you get and consider it a powerful lesson for how you can expand in your life.  This will make you a better parent and a better human being overall.

As for Andy Cohen or any other celebrity parent out there, if you choose to parade with your kid on social media and want us all to see, allow for criticism and be humbled by it.  Andy has never done this before.  None of us did until we actually did it, so instead of defending the assumption that he is doing nothing wrong, let’s not defend that he isn’t , because we really don’t know what is happening behind the closed doors.  We are all being put through the test as parents, and he can learn a lot from other seasoned moms out there.  Consider it is an expression of love and not the “unsolicited advice” or perhaps, the devil’s advocate helping the voiceless child.

Social Media Dis-Ease

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Progress is defined as movement onward toward a destination.  Before we label something as “progressive,” it’s important to determine if a particular move is really an advancement and a betterment of what is here now.

I recently viewed a documentary about medical devices and one of the premises of the movie was that “new” and “technologically advanced” was not only not better, but much more dangerous as it eliminates our human ability to spot and address problems and changes as they occur.  Namely, while it seems that the extended robot-doctor can be much more precise in performing surgery, it is the intuitiveness and observation of an experienced doctor that is far more valuable in the operation room.

My issue with this growth in technology as initially been a simple fear of expansion.  Nobody wants to invest money and time in learning something or buying a device that can be made irrelevant so shortly after.  In my family, things have been bought to last for generations, so this was a new way of thinking I had to adapt to.  This is where I had to have a personal expansion and ability to constantly think outside of the box. I can  do that.  However, what I find most difficult is responding to the information that can come outside at the pace at which it can be coming.

Think for a second about the way text messages are sent.  A person can have a thought and instead of capturing it and then evaluating it’s intention and rightful place in a schedule, it is far easier to just “shoot” a text and let the other person deal with what they need to deal with so that we can get a response while we are doing something else.  It seems like there is no issue there, seemingly we are moving things forward way faster than we did in the prehistoric times.  I do believe, though, that this fast paced way of communicating sometimes fails to take into account our need, and right, to take time to think things through, mull over it, consider options and then return with an answer that actually serves us. I have heard it time and time again, especially from moms, that they get irritated when people send them text messages any time of the day and night with an expectation of an answer immediately or shortly after.  I happen to agree.  Just because it takes a split of a second for someone else’s though to show up on my phone and in my possession, it doesn’t mean I am in any way obligated to respond to it (I am not talking to relationships or commitments where this is predetermined or promised).  Just because communications can travel fast, doesn’t mean that they will “land” at that pace or be processed in the time the other party expects it.

Besides texts and this arrogant expectation people have that their emails, messages and voicemails should be answered in whatever they think it’s a timely manner, I think the information we are bombarded by at every corner is very hard to process.  I believe some of it needs to be brutally repelled:  I really don’t want to be knowing the latest soap opera drama from the self made TV stars, ambitious social media influencers (some of which have really not much to say, it’s just that the frequency of their posts is so high, it actually begins to cause traction), and even celebrities.  While some stories can surely inspire an ordinary person (all of us on the other side of these messages), most of the information out there is tailored to create fake images, needs and wants that literally targets our vulnerable minds.  And I do say vulnerable minds because I feel that anyone that is bombarded by information from every angle and all the time is eventually going to crack and just feel too vulnerable to give a dignified NO.

On one hand, marketers and advertisers, as well as celebrities, brand managers, influencers, are brilliant.  They have found a way to gather tribes of people, fans, followers to send their messages, sell their products and be known in this world the way they want to be known and seen.  I think there is art to it all and I am naturally curious about it as I am curious about human beings and our design.  But, technology allows for too much of this so I believe that we naturally start forming thick skin, or we tune out or we are only half way present.  Don’t tell me that when you are scrolling down your Facebook feed or Instagram, that you are actually really connecting to what people are trying to tell you.  If you are like me, you do this almost habitually and neither giving yourself fully to it, nor fully blocking it so that you can have a peaceful ride on subway, dinner, uber ride or whatever it is that you usually use as a perfect time for social media binge.  And it is this half-ass-ness that I think has us neither committed to finding out information we need nor fully honoring our personal boundaries….We are simply there absorbing and being impacted without much say in a matter (intentional thought in this regard).

With one such obsession lately, I was noticing, from finding out information I needed to looking at how other people were commenting, seeing their brutal replies, some of which were in agreement with my way of thinking, and some completely opposing, I have began to feel a little sick.  I began to feel mildly depressed and disconnected from my own life.  Luckily, my husband would catch me, interrupt me and sometimes even unintentionally shame me:  “Marija, are you taking care of the kids?” and I would snap out of it, sometimes perhaps after first getting angry at my husband for catching me in crime.

Just because we have this immediate access to the world around us (nowadays you can send emails and letters to the President or Queen herself), doesn’t mean it’s normal.  Perhaps at some point humans will evolve into being more adapt to technology and what it provides, but with all my spiritual, leadership and psychology training, I find it so hard to do so, and I truly don’t doubt my intellect in this regard.  Even if you don’t believe me or find my experience credible, go on to one of the political Facebook Pages or Instagram posts and read comments for about 10 minutes and tell me how you feel, how your body feels and if you have faith in yourself and humanity right after.  I would sincerely doubt it.

When it comes to commenting, I have experienced this myself, we want an immediate relief from our anger, disappointment and alike and there is nothing as easy as googling the person you deem responsible and laying an irresponsible comment on their post, page or link.  In fact, most of us would never in a million years look at that person in the face and say what we are willing to write in comments, some of us courageous to keep our own profile pictures while many are hiding behind the fake ones.  Speaking of this, there should not be a way to create multiple social media accounts or post fake names as this is a sure way to have people not have to be responsible or held accountable for their actions in the cyber space.

We forget our manners, simply put, but that is not nearly as bad as vomiting of our opinions the moment we have it.  On one hand, some people just have a view and then they lay it out without paying any mind to how it could affect people who could read it, on another, some of us are brewing our opinions for some time so when we finally lay it out, it sounds like a massive attack.  Hate is real, people, and while I think it’s awesome to express it in a safe container such that we can alchemize it and see what our experience and emotion is teaching us, I think being able and allowed to spread hate at the speed at which technology works is scary at best.

As a relatively new mom, my kids are 2.5 and 5, and already 40 years old, I have been thinking about death and dying as well as the legacy I want to leave behind.  I am an avid self help book reader, personal development course student and teacher and someone who thrives on constant learning.  All this has me think about what the point of life is, how to live the best version of it and be the best of myself I can be so that, if I can ever have conscious experience of dying, I can feel content and like my life was worth a while.  When I think of my life from the perspective of being on my death bed, I can see so clearly how much all these things that are irritating us day to day really don’t matter at all.  Do I really need to make sure to weigh in on someone’s style choice, personality, political views and alike…  I think not.  I believe that deep inside, we all try to do our best and if you look at people who seem aggressive, unkind, bullies, you can track down that they didn’t have love that I believe each human being deserves.  Somehow, I do believe that we are all exactly where we need to be and that nobody’s value is overlooked.

With all this said, I think social media can be a real addiction.  We haven’t had it in our hands long enough to see the damages it can pose on human experience so I think it’s important to be careful and pay extra mind to the experience of it and predictable impacts.  For me, again, given I was feeling mildly depressed over vastness of how information, especially fake one, can travel and that many people so easily buy into it, I had to take a step back.  I don’t fully disconnect because I do not want live my life alone, but I time myself.  I teach myself how to use these things as tools the same way I was teaching myself how to nourish my body with yoga and healthy food instead of dieting and eating disorder in order to look the way it was never possible for me to look.

My true recommendation for all of you who read this here is to take a step back and invest your energy and creativity into what really matters to you and then use tools available to share that, mindful that it can back fire, that not everyone will see you the way a person in front of you can.  I think we have to “fight” this tech expansion by giving ourselves an enormous space to expand within, to address pains that we carry and share healing that is available.

With so much love and appreciation that I can share my deep thoughts with a click of a button,

Your friend, Marija

 

The Price of Truth

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I wrote the title right up front so that there is no confusion about where I am going even though I will explain how I got there just for the record and instead of posting angry rants elsewhere.  This is my blog, I pay rent on this space, I get to say!

After a painful dental surgery yesterday, I cleared my schedule and turned on to watch Dr Ford’s testimony just in time.  I wanted to be with her as she speaks up and tells her truth.  Having been a coach in some capacity of the past decade and a half, I have witnessed many women sometimes even unwillingly, share their story of sexual assault, harassment and rape.  I worked with some of these women diligently to take their power back and I know for sure that many of them are very powerful, compassionate, smart women today.  I always knew, if something as radical as this happened to me, it would take something to get through it.  I know it.  I downplayed my sexuality most of my life for a reason.  I even acted dumb in some situation or was overly masculine just to survive.  I wore less revealing clothes to hide my body.  I escaped assault many times and I know I am lucky I did.  I take that back – I am not sure I escaped it because even to this day, when I tell my older son who is 5 to stop playing with my hair or something like that, when he continues, I get so angry I have to leave the room to compose myself.  I am teaching him with no wiggle room that: NO means NO, and I cringe when people say: boys will be boys.

When Dr Ford swore in yesterday, I felt her in my bones.  I would not write this here if I didn’t spend so much of the past 2+ years studying the feminine which had me understand why I felt this way.  While this may sound so cliche to those who are less aware of it, what a woman feels does not begin or end with her.  I find this true of any humans, so men included, but among women only, I have found, this travels faster.  When we are connected to our source energy, another woman’s pain feels like our pain.  I have, through some exercises, healing sessions and classes, felt my grandmother’s pain of losing her child. I remember like it was yesterday that I stood on the foot print that represented my grandmother (without knowing who I was representing) and I weeped like it was the end of world.  My womb was tightening up, my whole body was in pain and I screamed louder than ever before.  I started bleeding my period right in that moment, coincidently, and realized I wasn’t pregnant, which I thought I could be.  So something told me it had to be a child.  I felt my grandma’s pain loud and clear, I felt her loss of a child.

I know this is too much for some to hear and I have had a fair share of having people roll their eyes at me when I talk, but I’m 40, a woman and a wife, an entrepreneur and a mom, I have spent past 20+ years of my life in an intense life training and I have successfully coached people even much older than me through the toughest things in their life.  I am no longer willing to be treated like I am a kid who doesn’t know what she is talking about, because it is uncomfortable.

To return to my point, I felt Dr Ford’s pain instantly.  That is the thing about authenticity and truth, it resonates.  I listened to her speak and I heard what she said.  While I can never understand what it must be life for her, I can get that this wasn’t easy, that she has stood for something so much bigger than just her and I could have enormous appreciation for that.  If you noticed, everyone believed her, some just didn’t want to believe it was Judge Kavanaugh who did it.

His, Judge Kavanaugh’s, testimony was in my view a disaster.  I want to say I can’t imagine what it is like to be falsely accused (if he is falsely accused which I doubt at this point), I do know that this was a true for so many men and women before him who endured false accusations solely based on the color of their skin.  So while I do know this is inconvenient for him, I fully stand that if he is really innocent, there are ways to clear his name, like taking polygraph test, conduct FBI investigation and alike.  What bothered me the most about him is that he never answered straight, he went into long story about everything instead of directly answering questions, he got way to emotional and too quickly (his wife was holding up very well I found as I saw her at the left corner of my screen), so I simply don’t believe him. Here is what I do think is possible:  he may have not been fully conscious because he was drunk (“I like beer, I do like beer, …I like beer a lot”) but he surely knows that this was possible and if that is case, he is not telling the truth, which means, he is lying under Oath.

This is a tough time for everyone, women everywhere are finding their voice and speaking up, they are feeling represented.  White men everywhere are scared to be caught in lies they’ve gotten away with for a long, long time.  Both Dr Ford’s family and Kavanaugh’s families are suffering, and they should not.  Social media is on fire and people don’t hold back their anger.  We do have a right to a free speech but lashing out when your amygdala is fired up is not healthy for everyone.  As humanity, we are all hurting.  We are in this mess together, we have to come out of it together.

I think there should be a fair investigation, that nomination of Judge Kavanaugh should be withdrawn because we saw he couldn’t be a fair judge.  I know this was hard, but look at what they put Hillary Clinton through and she is still standing.  I appreciate and welcome emotions, but I also know we can’t make good judgement calls when we are swimming in them.  For this reason, I say #kavaNO, this is #HERstory, and Dr Ford, #Ibelieveyou….and to all the women who’ve ever been hurt in this way: #IBELIEVEYOU

You Get to Say How You Feel

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I’ve been massively obsessed lately about how I can get through to people.  Frankly, my drive was coming from feeling very lonely and feeling that I often fuck up with people and have a hard time cleaning it up.  I know people in my life, close to me, who still cannot forgive me for some things I did.  And surely, I can talk until I am blue in my face that it was not my intention, some of them won’t budge.  Part of me gets it, because they are also hurt and they have the right to not trust me.  But how do you get the hell out of this vicious circle?  I even thought to myself, maybe I screwed up this life, perhaps I should wait for another one to come along so I could do better.  This made me cry because it shows how defeated I was, how much I was afraid I could never change and I can never have better life, better relationships, more results than I can currently show for.  Surely, it seems like some got it right, being sweet, likable and all.  I just didn’t fit that mold.

I don’t know about you, but I think about this a lot: how hard to push where I can change things, where do I need to surrender because it is what it is. I am a bit of a perfectionist, an overachiever, and while I love people, growing up as a single child, I do have this knowledge that: nobody else is coming, so that if I don’t do it, I can’t expect anyone to do it for me.  Perhaps this has me go for it where some people wouldn’t but also lack confidence in places where some would feel reassured.

In my obsession with being nicer to people, letting them further in, releasing more of my judgements and surrendering to the flow of life, I naturally remembered this saying: “People don’t remember what you did, but they remember how you made them feel!” And all happy I started to breathe more deeply when I am around people, to notice when my reaction takes the best of me, to try and step back and let other people shine and not feel like I always know best.  And this thought has been on my mind for days, as I would drift of to sleep, play with my kids, go to my yoga class…  And then suddenly it hit me:  WE are in charge of our experience, fully and completely.  I really got to see for myself how thinking that X person made me feel bad is not the X persons’s problem, it becomes mine.  It suddenly flashed before my eyes that when I make other people responsible for how I feel, regardless of what they said or did to me, I am giving away my power and ownership of my feelings and to people I don’t necessarily like or trust.

This, naturally, took me by surprise.  I could see the statement as valid:  yes, we don’t necessarily remember what people did but how they left us feel.  And here is what I see:  it’s not how THEY left us feel, it’s what they did that triggered something in us that wasn’t in alignment with how we prefer to feel.  Said another way, people who made us feel bad, for example, are not “making us feel bad,” they are merely shining the light on something within us that we need to take ownership of so that we don’t feel bad.  This instantly turns the power of people to leave us feeling anything to the power for us to feel and learn from everything that comes our way.  Doesn’t this instantly make you feel grateful for people who do push your buttons?  I feel it should because I really don’t have it that any person out there is fundamentally bad.  I have it that we all try to do what’s best and sometimes that’s just not enough for some of us and that is ok.

Then, obviously, there is no such a thing as “toxic” people we so openly try to let go off, cut off from our life, our love and our attention.  While we can choose people in our life that we vibe with (notice a reframe from “make us feel good”), that doesn’t for a second make those people we are not getting along with TOXIC.  There really is no such thing as toxic, maybe not a match, good mix or however else we can express it to remain true to what we feel without labeling those around us.  Said even better: there are no toxic people, just things, buttons, issues we would rather be not dealing with right now.

I feel this could make for a better world because suddenly, we are owning that we have the power to change how we feel and in that process, which can take some effort, we can choose who and how we want to spend time with without labels or judgement of others.  And there, we have a word free of “toxic” things, only playground to play on, work with, work through and choose while generous, understanding, loving and in full ownership of who we are and what we feel.

Give Women Some Room to Breathe

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US Open, Serena Williams, everyone is talking.  I didn’t watch the game so I had to research it and see it from a different angle to see if things add up.  Surely, she is being seen by many now as an entitled brat.  In her mind however, she is a victim of sexism and unfair ruling.  Where do you stand?

I will say right away that I don’t care to be right.  I will share my view so that it’s there and so that it can validate all the women out there that may feel the same. Here is the thing:  Serena broke rules.  She said she didn’t cheat though her coach admits to giving her coaching during the game, but she did slam the racket (which is a violation to the integrity and professionalism of the game) and then insulted the umpire by calling him a thief.  The first time I watched it, I cringed, thinking: Oh my goodness she is losing it and it doesn’t look pretty.  But then I watched it again, and again, the longer version, the in betweens and here is what happened:  my stomach started to hurt, I began to curl up and cry feeling anger and defeat.

My point is not that she is right, but my point is that it’s hard for a woman to be a woman in the world we live in.  Yes, there are rules and we must follow them but here is the deal: these rules are not made with us in mind.  Serena is 37, she had a baby a year ago and she is probably completely hormonal.  She must be dealing with what it takes to bring up a child in this world, what it is to be black, what it is to be a champion and how to do the rest of her career given all the difficulty that we experience after birth (and from following her IG story, I know she almost died).

Why is it that “emotions” run so much in our lives and yet we have to “keep them in check.” I know some men can read this and say, “well, we do, because that is what being an adult is like,” but I beg to differ.  It is not easy to keep your emotions in when your hormones are running the show and when the world you live in, fundamentally, doesn’t give you space to express what you feel.  I have experienced this time and time again and unfortunately, more from other women than from men.  Somehow, when we “lose it” we seem like we are not in control and that is bad…and yet, the whole world wants us to be vulnerable, to give up control, to be flexible, to be good moms, to be good at what we do etc.  I get it, Serena broke the rule, but in my world, she broke the silence of those of us who suck it up and try so hard to live in the world where being who we are is not accepted.  And I admit, when a woman has charge on something, she does seem crazy and disconnected from herself but I also know that the only way out is not trying to tame her crazy but validating how she is.  Those that are smart enough to honor the space we are in will help us see more clearly and we will calm down.

Here is one way to see it:

“The feminine’s moods and opinions are like weather patterns. They are constantly changing, severe and gentle, and they have no single source. No analysis will work. There is no linear chain of cause and effect that can lead to the kernel of the “problem.” There is no problem, only a storm, a breeze, a sudden change in weather. And the bases of these storms are the high and low pressure systems of love. When a woman feels love flowing deeply, her mood can instantly evaporate into joy, regardless of the supposed reason for the mood.” ~ David Deida

 

Again, I am not going for the right and wrong, I am just simply sharing as another woman who can see Serena’s storm just as a storm.  It is sad that people comment that she lost her grace.  This is a woman that won in Australia while already pregnant and wants to continue to create legacy.  It is unfair to blame her that she overshadowed another woman’s win.  She didn’t do that, we did that by looking at what she did with judgement and not empathy.

Her coach is right when he said in an interview: why is it a big deal that people show emotion on the court when that emotion is real.  Emotion is energy in motion, if we let it be, it will pass, but when we judge it, punish people for it, then we add mass to it and then that energy doesn’t flow freely, it gets stuck.  That is what happened in the game.  Serena was accused for cheating and she wanted to set the record straight.  Finding the wall instead of attentive listening, her emotions escalated (this can happen to anyone, let alone a woman who just became a mom), and after that we knew this wouldn’t end well.

Part of me wishes she could “collect” herself, but a big part of me is grateful for the dialogue that will follow as the judgements resurface for us to clear so we can begin to honor people for who they are, giving them space to have an emotional response especially when they were done wrong.

Serena, and all the women out there that struggle to keep it together, I feel you ❤

 

Being A Mom

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I only vaguely sensed that being a mom must be magical and expansive but I never knew how much it would impact my life, how deeply I would feel my love, how strongly I could stand, how much I could endure and how unwilling I would be to hide and pretend I am anything other than a human being trying to do her best.  I learned to surrender, to take it easy, to put myself first, as in put oxygen mask on my mouth before I offer it to others.  I slowed down and became more effective.  I added a level of compassion I didn’t have.  I started thinking for more people not just myself, consequently, I have expanded the way I see things and the ways in which I manage my life.

I often complain that people don’t share the truth about motherhood.  I don’t think we are fully honest about the effort that this role requires (and I don’t mean complain, but be real about it) as well as not fully bragging on the world that this role also makes possible, the love that is there, the joy we could feel and how small things in life often become the essence of our days.

It took me a while to approve of different ways of parenting but I definitely appreciate that people have their view and do their best.  The thing is, when you know what it takes, you don’t judge as easily or as harshly.  Again, I make comments and sometimes have a passing thought but I don’t hang on to it or relate to like: “this is the truth”. I also lightly roll my eyes at people who give me advice but really have no clue about the world I am in. I do appreciate the effort though, I’ve been there myself.

At the same time, I have been screwing up way more often, feeling cornered against things in life that are seemingly unresolvable, needed on too many sides, torn in too many places, longing for some time to myself to just hear myself think without trying to please everyone around me who has a loud expectation.

All this said, the journey of mothering my first born and then almost 3 years laters his brother has been the biggest role I played.  I used to cringe when people said that in the past because I always made it mean they had nothing else important to do (as if raising future generations of humans isn’t important at all).  I try to beat that value with other things  I do but the kiddos are still small and they still need me in a way that I don’t want to say NO to.  At the end, it is always a choice not to leave them for long periods of time, not to have them raised by babysitters and friends but putting them to bed at night on my own or having my husband do it instead.

My sons are an absolute joy most of the time.  They remind me how carefree childhood is for those of us who had our basic needs met and then some.  They wake up my creative side, they soften me to love, they let me be more accepting and kinder with myself and others while holding healthy boundaries. I am moved and beyond grateful I was given the opportunity to be a mother in this life time.  They will also never know all that it takes to be their mom and what these past 5 years were like and they don’t have to know until they live their life and learned their lessons.  My efforts are not theirs to carry because if I can do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Happy 5ht birthday to my beautiful Adrian and anniversary of birth to me!!!