“I don’t matter”

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I subconsciously create my life mostly to avoid painful experiences from the past.  My parents divorced when I was little, probably around 4 though I actually just realize that I don’t know for sure.  As my father moved away a few years later, I would visit him mostly on holidays or school breaks (and mostly arranged by my mother not initiated by him), so it is no surprise to me that my interpretation of this experience was that “I didn’t matter.”  Interestingly enough, if I saw that from my mother’s perspective, it would be obvious to me that I mattered a lot, but my father broke my heart. To fight the shameful notion that “I don’t matter,” I made choices in my life to avoid experiencing it at any cost.  I chose environments and circumstances that allowed me being numb and not dealing with the pain that not being important caused me.  In fact, I am a Capricorn, but am extremely social and often times, not really because I enjoy people so much but mostly because I can’t stand being alone.  When my phone doesn’t ring, something inside gets triggered.  I remember my mom once telling me that if someone wanted to talk to me, they could initiate the contact.  I would be terrified that I would be easily forgotten and used to think she was so mean to put me through that.  In fact, for years, whether it had to do with a relationship or friendship, I was often the one who called first. Even now I have friends that I regularly check in with though they never check in with me.  I have very little in common with most of them and our paths have crossed long ago with no intersection on horizon, yet I nurture those relationship with everything I got.  I thought of it recently and considered: what would it look like if I gave myself freedom to just let some people go, to let them be only a part of my memory but not continue to be a part of my present given that the only time they were in my life was when I dialed their number.  With all the new social inventions of Facebook, Skype, Viber and alike, it takes everything I have to just keep contacts alive with people who have moved on long ago.  They are glad to hear from me, but nothing in their life has ever had them get in touch with me. I was dealing with this phenomenon in the last two days triggered by an event that had me feel really angry.  But I was done being angry so as I dug deeper, I realized that what lied underneath the anger was real hurt of being irrelevant and left behind.  I shared this knowledge with my husband to just get to the bottom of it all and realized that most of my decisions were made to prove that I mattered.  In fact, working as a private coach is completely a response to wanting to matter in someone’s life, even though I am not personally related to them. Having spent over 6 years training, assisting and leading events at Landmark was all an attempt to make a mark.  In fact, I was often accused of talking a lot which is all an automatic response to wanting to matter, to be heard, to leave an impact.

I believe all people want to make a difference in the world.  I am no exception, though my motivation behind was a fear of not being important.  As I thought about this newfound knowledge, I cried like a baby because my whole life occurred as an illusion created to fill the void of a little girl whose father didn’t show her she was important.  So what can I do? For a start, I am taking on a practice of designing my schedule making sure that the REASON behind what I am doing is created from what I want now, not a default past.  So, before I take an action from the space of “I should”, automatically and without asking, I will take a moment to breathe deeply and to create an intention for what I am about to do.  This doesn’t mean I will start avoiding things or people.  I will honor everything I want to do as long as I can come up with the reason to do it that serves me.  Otherwise, I promise to myself to let it go.

Nothing in life motivates us as strongly as our desire to avoid the pain and being in the situation we dislike.  I am grateful for my life and that it got me this far.  Going forward, I choose consciously the path I walk on. Love, Marija


Committed to Excellence

I come from a very small town in Montenegro, Eastern Europe…While I didn’t go out to see the world, my family was pretty well travelled so in some sense, there was a sense of having pretty high standards in our house. Especially in my case, my mom demanded the best of me.  I was a straight A student, I was in drama, on math team, reciting, singing in choir, playing basketball, I went to music school and wrote poetry and drew art in my spare time.  And it felt like I was never enough on one hand, but looking at it now, I can see that none of what I did was ever an excuse not to do something else well… If I was doing it, it was demanded of me to do it in the best way I could.

Fast forward, at the age of 16 I came to USA and while most other exchange students took junior level English in their senior class, I was at the principle’s office asking for what would have me earn a High School Diploma so that I had an equal chance of going to college as all the other American kids.  Among 7 of students from out of country, I was the only one who actually got a High School Diploma that year which allowed me to move directly to New York and start college there.  This happened because I took an advanced senior level classes despite their recommendation to stick to the easy ones.

Living in New York humbled me. I thought I had multiple talents with all the things I did that I mentioned earlier, but it took no time at all to see that almost everyone out there had that many if not more talents than I.  New York was competitive but besides that, New Yorkers were committed to excellence.  Having worked in service industry and having taken many jobs to work with people from all walks of life, I learned this notion that “customer is always right.”  And if you ever bartended in New York, you were probably annoyed at this fact as sometimes people abuse this notion of “being always right,” but I quickly learned that people who excelled the most were the people who listened to their customers, clients, patients but also demanded the same of others.

Today I work as a personal (life) coach and I temporarily moved to Florida when I had my first child thinking that this would give me a nice break from the cold winter of Montreal where I spent a year of my life marrying my husband who was born there.  I quickly learned that while the weather in Florida rocks, something is majorly missing for me.  Unlike how things are in New York, people of different caliber or class don’t mix so well in Florida…. And having a child makes it pretty difficult to mingle and meet new people and I only recently started driving so there were limitations to what we could do and experience while here.  I have to say, there are many great people here, with kind hearts  but the service overall is pretty crappy.  When we first moved into this small town, I was appalled how the owner of the cafe answered my completely curious question about her menu.  She was defensive and unkind.  Going there a few times with my friends who are now living here, made my experience more pleasant and I almost began to enjoy the small town feel.  But then I came alone with my husband and son and was treated with so little respect that I promised myself I would not go back (and not because I like burning bridges but because I am old enough to stop allowing people who treat others that way to get away with it).

I know my voice is a small one here.  I am sure some of you may even think about “hm, how did you create this situation for yourself.”  Trust me, I went down that road and this is what I realized: most people don’t like to  be held to higher standards…Most people are not committed to changing and being better… So, when someone, like myself, makes a comment, they are left with 2 choices: ignore and invalidate me OR accept what I am saying and do something about it.  And most people go for the first one.  I don’t blame them, its their right.  What I am learning, however, is to own my commitment to excellence and to keep asking for what I want and then take time to accept whatever answer I get in return, as how people answer is their choice.

I thought about my own practice.  While coaching people for almost 10 years now, I’ve heard much feedback: “you are not really listening to me,” “that doesn’t really make a difference.” “I feel like you are just invalidating and criticizing what I said,” “I don’t think this applies to me,” even “how dare you say an F word to me.”  I couldn’t shut myself down and fire back at these people and told them that they don’t know how hard I worked to be where I am and that I have a very genuine intention to serve them.  Instead, I heard them and I heard them all and I didn’t use what I heard to put myself down or to stop my practice but to learn and train myself to be better.  And every now and then, I hear some of my clients tell me something that doesn’t work for them. I can’t say I ever feel happy to hear it, but I am grateful that they are communicating what is not working versus cutting out their contract and finding a coach who isn’t like me.  That is what I believe people who are committed to excellence do.  They are willing to listen to others to BE BETTER, and because of that, they are willing to DEMAND OF OTHERS to be better too.

Thank you!


Let go and let love

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We have all experienced a heart break at least once in our lives.  By the time I was 30, I was an expert in being heartbroken.  And not only that, each failed relationship was feeding into my fear that I was not enough and that true love will never really knock on my door. I think everything I did since I became an adult was geared towards learning how to find and keep a guy.  I knew I was smart enough to succeed in other things, but the matters of heart – that I felt I had no control over. As someone who suffered from an eating disorder for a good chunk of my 20s, I knew what it felt like to be addicted to something.  And the power that had me to stop ED was the power that had me find love.

Now, I don’t believe that we can control when love will happen – that is in the hands of Higher Power, but I do believe that we can, and are responsible, to create a clear and pristine space for it, so that it can show up for us.  In the clear and pristine space, LOVE does show up.

I know some of you have done personal development work.  I applaud that.  And, for what I am about to say, I think that such work can be more of an obstacle than support.  In fact, it is that we keep on thinking that there is something for us to “work on” that has us stuck in the same old pattern of “not enough”.  We can’t be both: complete and in need of more therapy/transformation. As a coach, I make sure my clients never feel inadequate, but rather see our work together as their consistent evolving inside of a committed, clean, powerful, safe and loving space.  I don’t have my clients feel like there is something to fix, something many of the programs, therapies, works out there are based on.  For as long as we think we need to fix our relationship with our parents, for example, we aren’t really focused or present to the prince charming that may be right in front of us – mistake number 1.

The mistake number 2 is that we hold on to our past like it’s real.  Our urge to love and find love has us hold on to people and memories where we at least somewhat felt like our feelings were reciprocated.  And instead of letting go of all past relationships that did’t serve us, we mess up more in order to cope with what’s already messed up.  When I had an ED, I binged to cope with my urge to binge.  Other words, only when I binged did I relieve the anxiety that I was feeling when I felt the urge to binge.  It is only when I realized that the voice telling me to binge was not REAL ME, that I was able to silence the voice and take actions that I wanted to take: anything from being with people, actually answering my phone, making a difference in the world and alike. It is when I observed the voice in my head, without thinking I needed therapy, to journal my emotions, to read more books on the subject and give my power away, that I was able to see that the voice in my head did not have power over my actions.  In fact, more I recognized that voice as NOT ME, more silent the voice became.

So, please ladies, do not cling to the past relationships that don’t serve you, don’t send more emails so that you can get a different response, or send that last text thinking something will change.  Your urge to do these things is coming from the voice that isn’t YOU and the relief from that anxiety to say something is only temporary and making things worse in a long run.  The voice that tells you to do so is not who YOU are.  YOU can hear it and dismiss it and then do what works: move on, go out on a date with a new guy, or go visit a friend.  When you keep falling back into the same pattern, you perpetuate addiction and the space stays cluttered.  Love only comes into the clear and pristine space.  So, let go and let love.


Decluttering, clearing, letting go

I had this huge revelation in working with my clients in the past weeks… Almost every time something isn’t working, the first place I see as a barrier to it, is the place where there is too much of something, clutter, solid thinking and past attachments.  So, I would naturally share some of my tools in how to declutter the space around them, clear the stuff that is no longer working for them and let go of everything that isn’t who and how they want to be in the future or even right now in the PRESENT.

I realized that all of my life successes, from the smallest wins to the biggest achievements were created from NOTHING, in a space that wasn’t already crowded by old ideas, things I didn’t need or thoughts that no longer served me.

When it comes to decluttering, physical space is not the only thing do clear, but it’s often a good place to start.  Last week I went through my closet and put away all the things that made me feel too old, too rigid, or simply didn’t compliment my body in the way I would like it to.  I noticed the old pattern of not wanting to get rid of something just because it was too expensive or because I felt like I need to have it “just in case” of some occasion which never came my way.  Or simply feeling bad that I only wore those red shoes once in my American sister’s wedding and they were pricey so I needed to squeeze some value out of them.

You may laugh and think I broke through this easily but I didn’t.  In fact, I took a picture of the things I took out of my closet, shoes and clothes and I posted them on a local facebook group.  But not one person responded yet.  So, unless one of my closest friends feels like she’d take something, I will be donating the entire collection of j crew, banana republic, bergdorf goodman and alike stuff to charity and write it off for taxes.  This way I will satisfy my mind (always worried about being wasteful) and will still let it go.

I hope this little reminder helps.  Spring is near.  Start clearing little things.  For every space you clear, something new can come to replace it…Take it  one-step-at-the-time 🙂

To clarity and purpose,

Marija


Lingering in the “unknown”

“Being at ease with not knowing is crucial for answers to come to you.” Eckhart Tolle

One of my dearest friends Jodi sent me this quote the other day and I really heard it newly this time. I am about to find a short term rental for me and my family until we move back to New York and I have been trying to use my “intuition” and “manifesting skills” to guide me in this process. The problem is, big changes in life are stressful, even when exciting, and it is hard to keep the channels clean, peaceful and powerful when there is a lot going on. I would close my eyes at night and force myself to imagine where I really wanted to live as I was not sure I really knew the answer to that. And since the answers were not clear, I’d get frustrated by the lack of clarity.

The truth is, most places would probably work just fine. HAHAHAHA – my husband would say to that. And this is why: I think of myself as low maintenance, but I am not. I want our new place to have a pool, preferably heated, I don’t want the apartment to be carpeted, I prefer the first floor (which is often more expansive than the second or third), but I like high ceilings (which are typical of the third floor), I like all new appliances, no mirrors in bedrooms and all within the price range I want to pay (not necessarily the market price). I have no idea which location would be good, as I don’t know Florida that well, I just know what I wanted to be close to and that I can easily walk around in the area as I don’t like driving.

We need a place in the next 2 weeks because I am traveling to New York in 2 weeks and would go crazy if we didn’t have it locked in by then. What’s coming up is fear that we won’t find what we want so that we will have to stay longer (no bueno), or have to pay the higher price to settle for whatever is available. And, on top of everything, we need a short term lease and not every complex is willing to lease short term and when they do, they charge extra, so the prices online are not the actual prices we would get. Are you beginning to get the swirl I am in? A touch of anxiety mixed with excitement of the new place and moving towards the goal of eventually settling back in New York. All of that with a teething toddler that still breastfeeds and doesn’t sleep through the night. Now, try to fall asleep by 11pm!!!

So last night as I am about to turn the light off after spending hours on apartmentlist.com and forrent.com etc, but my brain is still wired and working on resolving the puzzle of “Where am I going to live in 3 weeks?” And then I remember this beautiful quote my friend sent me and I allow myself to linger in the unknown. And literally the moment I took a breath and let go of “knowing,” my mind relaxed and I felt freedom. I shared with my husband right away. I told him: “I am going to embrace not knowing where we will live and trusting that the Universe/God will take care of us.” And I didn’t mean that I would not make calls or go visit properties, I just meant that I would stop forcing the outcome.

And as if by magic, I drifted into sleep. Withing the first 2-3 hours of waking up, I had a full inbox of messages and voicemails to answer. I had 2 business calls and made calls from the list I gathered the night before and by noon I had options: a place 8 minute walking distance from our dearest friends, a brand new complex just built, another brand new complex near my dentist in the area I didn’t consider because it was an older community, and couple of other places, all within a price range, all within 10-15 min distance from places I need to be at, and all available. So tomorrow, on my birthday, I will be hoping in the car with my family to visit the other 4 places breathing deeply and allowing myself to live in the unknown for just a tad longer. It takes practice and it takes numerous reminders, but this time doesn’t have to be stressful. It can just as well be an opportunity 🙂


Standing up for myself

I was getting a free hair cut in Miami beach. The lady that lives close to us needed models to practice her craft. When she started to cut my hair I noticed that her technique seemed good but her demeanor was a bit timid and shy. About 40+ minutes into it, I began to feel a bit uncomfortable. I was getting hot, needed water, and began to worry that this was not going to end well. At this point, she was still cutting 1/2 inch lengths from the back and I was wondering if she’d ever get to the front. I was messaging my husband crying for help. I kept thinking: “I am not paying for it, I should be grateful for whatever I get.” However, deep inside I was not at ease.

Finally, I tried bringing up my concerns as gently as I could (this is so unlike me as I am often unapologetic when I speak). At this point, she was getting that I was not happy and she was concerned. I was concerned for her thinking I would only get her in trouble if I spoke up. We went in circles. And then I stopped to ask where she was going with this. Noticing her facial expression I said: Please don’t worry! But she was still worried so I went on to acknowledge that she did a great job cutting my hair, that it just wasn’t how I liked it. I held her hand promising to look at where we were with this and communicate clearly what she should do next to fix it to my liking. That calmed her down.

When she got calm, the owner appeared and complimented my hairline and she then said to him: “what do you think I should do here”…and he took her scissors and began to teach her and run through my hair with confidence, all along acknowledging that I have great hair, that my eyes are great so he can open the front more, that my head is perfect so she can remove all the extra hair she was keeping there, and so on.

At first, I giggled almost uncomfortably as I get shy when people compliment me like that. But then I realized how good it felt to be complimented and that I actually agreed with him, but I had this shame about feeling good about myself. The way I learned was, it was better to be modest. So I forced the modesty upon me, and in addition, learned to suck it up until I get so mad that when I actually speak it’s not very pretty. I realized, how freeing would life be if I just owned my real thoughts, all the time, if I actually stood up for myself and for what I deserved and not try to shut myself down only to please others… If I came there confident that it was easy to cut my hair because she didn’t have to compensate for my shortcomings, maybe I wouldn’t have to sit through 2 hour haircut… And maybe, if I really stood for myself I would not go for a free cut but would pay for it and demand my money’s worth.

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What a lesson I got from a simple event. There are many imperfections I have in my life, I definitely don’t need to downplay the things that work 🙂
Wishing you all to own up to what works about you and stand up for yourself!!! demand the best service and give the best of yourself!!!!

Love,

Marija


Woman

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Something about being a woman struck me today like never before. I’ve always looked to claim my place in the universe, struggled to find love, to feel loved, to own love. I’ve been told by more than a few people in my twenties that I was a handful, tough to handle, demanding, idealist, and that I had way too much masculine energy for any man to want to ever be with me and feel good about himself.

I’ve been happily married for over 2.5 years and my first year of marriage was amazing, and in the second we moved countries and cities a couple of times and had our first child, built business together a few times over and we are still happy. I am not saying we don’t argue, we do and we do that really explosively and most people that ever heard us do so didn’t like it. However, we never held a grudge against each other and we never went to sleep having something unsaid or unfinished or unclear between us. And I still look at my husband wanting to spend every moment of eternity with him and I am pretty sure his eyes are filled with love for me as well.

So, I have been thinking about things that had me go from someone who is told that she is too masculine to be in a relationship to someone who is pretty powerfully navigating love and marriage, parenthood and business and all with the same person.

I tell to my clients this all the time and I think a few of them have heard me, as I clearly heard it when I was first told this: “don’t try to be feminine… you are already feminine by virtue of being a woman… embrace your masculine energy and your feminine will naturally shine through.” And so I did, for the first time, I said: “screw it! I am no longer going to try to please anyone, I can be myself and be myself fully and people can accept it or not, I am going to own it.” It is months later that I was dating my husband who surprisingly, or not, loves it when I am in my A-game and is completely ok when I need to step away and embrace being a woman, needing a quiet time, needing nourishment, love or simple silence.

Am I lucky? perhaps. I’d say I was brave. I wanted so much to connect with someone and I wanted so much to have real me connect with that someone that I took my steps one after another authentically and patiently. I knew what I was committed to and kept looking for it but I didn’t compromise who I was as a woman.

And, the woman that I am has changed so many times over, after getting married and believing love was finally possible for me, and then after having my first child and knowing what a miraculous body I have that is capable of holding and creating life. And inside of business, as I am someone that cares to make an impact with people I know, both friend and clients. I am making it work every day, I change my mind many times over. I am not always my word but I clean up my mess. I don’t always know what I want but when I get it, I know how to be grateful and to appreciate it. I am emotional and hormonal mess and my mom told me that it’s probably not just hormones. Maybe it’s not, maybe I am just not as great as I strive to be, but maybe not being great is human and I am not so different from other ladies out there.

All in all, I love being a woman and I love being who I am…and it’s not always easy, juggling motherhood and business and then still being sexy for my husband after I felt like the day passed me by and I mostly just put out fires, attending to my son and did what needed to be done which is not obvious to most men that needed to be done. It’s not easy and I know some moms out there can relate…but somehow we do it and somehow putting an actual structure wouldn’t actually work in doing it as structure would show us that we cannot possibly have it all or make it all happen but time and time again we prove that we can. So I rely on my intuition, I lean into my feminine owning my masculine. I love all shades of me, some not as great as others, but they are who I am and I take it.

Embracing all women out there. Share your stories, inspire us. I’d love to post other women’s blogs and share the love.