Finding the Great and Powerful Oz Within

I recently asked my readers to tell me what topics they would like me to blog about this month.  There were a surprising number who asked to learn more about meditation. There are hundreds of sites and articles on the topic, but I wanted to find ways to overcome the common obstacles, like not having enough time and/or not having a quiet place.  Fear not, because I learned A LOT and you will too!

What:  Meditation is a focused effort to quiet the jumble of thoughts in our mind.

Why:  The main purpose of meditating is to insert some calm into your day.  Settle down your mind for a bit.  We could all use a little of that, right?

How: While most of us conjure up sitting cross legged in a quiet room, you may be surprised to learn that there are many ways to meditate.  My favorite compilation of options came from the Mayo Clinic:

  •  Guided meditation. Sometimes called guided imagery or visualization, with this method of meditation you form mental images of places or situations you find relaxing. You try to use as many senses as possible, such as smells, sights, sounds and textures. You may be led through this process by a guide or teacher.
  • Mantra meditation. In this type of meditation, you silently repeat a calming word, thought or phrase to prevent distracting thoughts.
  • Mindfulness meditation. This type of meditation is based on being mindful, or having an increased awareness and acceptance of living in the present moment. You broaden your conscious awareness. You focus on what you experience during meditation, such as the flow of your breath. You can observe your thoughts and emotions but let them pass without judgment.
  • Qi gong. This practice generally combines meditation, relaxation, physical movement and breathing exercises to restore and maintain balance. Qi gong (CHEE-gung) is part of traditional Chinese medicine.
  • Tai chi. This is a form of gentle Chinese martial arts. In tai chi (TIE-chee), you perform a self-paced series of postures or movements in a slow, graceful manner while practicing deep breathing.
  • Transcendental meditation. You use a mantra, such as a word, sound or phrase repeatedly silently, to narrow your conscious awareness and eliminate all thoughts from your mind. You focus exclusively on your mantra to achieve a state of perfect stillness and consciousness.
  • Yoga. You perform a series of postures and controlled breathing exercises to promote a more flexible body and a calm mind. As you move through poses that require balance and concentration, you’re encouraged to focus less on your busy day and more on the moment.

Where:  If you can find a quiet room where you are certain you won’t be interrupted, great.  But don’t rule out meditation if that’s not the case.  You can practice some forms of meditation in your car or in a meeting room at work (with a do not disturb sign on the door if necessary).  You can also meditate while out on a walk or sitting in a quiet corner of your yard.

When:  Meditate as often as you can.  Don’t worry about “rules”!  If twice a day is an option, great.  If twice a week is all you can muster, that’s fine.  Also, you don’t need an hour to meditate.  That’s something you could certainly work towards if you wish, but there are fantastic guided meditation recordings that average only 3-10 minutes.

Here are my favorite sites on the subject:

Sure, we all want to find that Great and Powerful Oz within, but we are so busy putting out all the external fires of our life, that we neglect this man (or woman) behind the curtain.  Don’t you deserve a little self-love?  You bet you do!  Meditate on that!!

Have some tips that make meditating enjoyable for you?  Did you try one of the techniques listed?  Share your results.  Either way, I’d love your comments!

What Season Are You Living In?

I LOVE Summer and I’m always sad to see it go.  But I really do love Autumn and the added bonus of experiencing it in New England. Not only do I love wearing sweaters and boots again, but I love the colors traditional to this time of year.  They’re not the new, pretty colors of spring or summer, but the deep, warm, beautiful colors of fall.  The scents and tastes of meals enjoyed year after year fill my memories of this season.

Reflecting on the seasons made me think of the “seasons” of life. Recent studies show that U.S. women live an average of 81 years compared to 76 for men.  That means I’ve begun my Autumn in life.  I suppose this should depress me, but in fact, I feel quite good about it.

In my Spring, I was a bit of a “late bloomer” but learned a lot by watching others blossom and grow.

In my Summer, I was full-on-out!  I wanted to experience everything.  Like Impatiens, I was pretty, but I could wilt without enough attention.  I was fun and exciting, flying by the seat of my pants, pretty and playful as a Day Lily. If you’re tiring of the flora analogies, I’ll just say this: My summer was hot and colorful, enjoyed to the fullest.

But Fall, Mmmmm, Fall. Where summer was moving and hustling, Fall is more like savoring and appreciating.  Don’t get me wrong…I still treasure every moment, I just don’t live in ONLY the moment.  I’m not pretty like I was, but I’ve taken on a warmer glow, a wisdom and grace that I didn’t have before.

In my Autumn, I feel pretty smoldering in a sweater and jeans.  Not exactly how I feel in a bikini.  My Summer would have me jumping through hoops to prove to others that I was good and worthy of their love and affection.  Fall, on the other hand, has me recognize in myself, that I’m worthy of love and affection and won’t settle for less than what I deserve.   In Summer, I needed to be tended by others, my Autumn is much more self-sustaining.  I worry much less what other people think of me and focus on being true to myself.

My “4th of July” colors of summer were pretty awesome (albeit ‘showy’), but I’m certain my Autumn colors will be equally (if not more) impressive!  These blooms thrive in amping up their bad selves with color and foliage and growth (just ask any Autumn-er).  Well Hot Damn!  For this discovery, I’d like to toast my Summer’s ‘wine cooler’, with my Autumn’s Sauvignon Blanc and simply say, thanks for the memories!  I’ll happily trade your insecurities and toned ass for my confidence and love handles!

Here’s to all the ladies no matter what season you’re in!!  Be sure to share why and how you’re celebrating your season!

Communication – 7 Tips to Proving You’ve Evolved

So many bad things happen simply because of miscommunication or lack of communication.  You know when you’re watching a movie and the characters are clearly not sharing all the necessary information with each other and you’re sitting there like, “Tell him!” or “Don’t let her walk away!”?  There are ways to avoid these situations.  Despite the tendency of some, there is no need to revert back to the days when we all had a hairy back! Here are my Top 7 Communication Tips for the Evolved!

1 – There’s no such thing as common sense – This is evidenced by the infinite number of ways to swipe your credit/debit card in a store.  I always feel like a “winner” when I correctly swipe the card without direction from the clerk.  We all have different experiences and personalities, so our “common” differs from others’ “common”.  We also tend to surround ourselves with like-minded people, so when we are outside this group, like in a business or public setting, it can be difficult to communicate effectively.

 2 – Don’t start in the middle – Just think of some of the most classic films and what would happen if they started in the middle: Snow White would just be a creepy dwarfophile; George from “It’s a Wonderful Life” would just be a crotchety, bitter man undeserving of his wife and children; While Sandy & Danny (Grease), and Edward & Bella (Twilight) would just be your everyday conflicted teens, yawn.  So while it may seem obvious to you, don’t start communicating by assuming others know the “back story”.

 3 – Don’t make people work for it – If you have a message, be direct and to the point.  No one wants to be in a conversation that resembles the game of ‘Clue’. Dropping hints, being coy, beating around the bush, these all sabotage a good discussion.  Unless you’re handing out a secret decoder ring, just spell it out.

 4 – Be clear on the purpose of your communication – If you’re trying to help someone, say so.  If you’re upset and want to voice your feelings, say so.  If you’re ticked off, say so.  Don’t leave the person wondering what the point to the conversation is.  Confusion is not a recommended tactic if you’re trying to be understood.

 5 – Make sure your body language and tone support your words – If you’re trying to convey patience, open-mindedness, forgiveness or any other image, watch your non-verbal behavior.  Saying you’re open to hearing their viewpoint, then rolling your eyes as they share, shows them you’re full of crapola!

 6 – Listen – Stephen R. Covey said it best, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”  This means you are not going to plan a defensive comeback each time your partner (not opponent) raises a point.  Listen for the sake of understanding, not strategizing.

 7 – Sometimes writing is the best method – If you want to choose your words carefully, are worried that heated statements could come into play, or that the recipient (or you) could get defensive, then write a letter.  Make sure each thought and feeling you’re trying to convey is expressed exactly how you’d like it to be.  Write, edit, re-edit, send.  This also allows the recipient to absorb and digest what you’re saying and respond in kind.

Communication is the key to peaceful relationships, friendships, and world relations.  Leave the monkey brain where it belongs…with the monkeys!

Share your comments below, I LOVE to hear your feedback (anonymous or otherwise) and I ALWAYS respond!

 

 

Are You a Stoner?

I bet if I asked whether “stoning” is an acceptable method of punishment, most of you would say how barbaric those cultures are that use it for infractions we don’t even consider a misdemeanor.  “Stoning” is a form of punishment where a group throws stones at a person, usually until death ensues.  In rarer cases, this is carried out for a specified period of time in order to only cause injury.  No individual within the group can claim to be the executioner, but everyone clearly bears some degree of culpability. Pretty horrible, right?  You’d never take part in something like that, right? Uh, well maybe not literally, but…  Metaphorically speaking, we have all “thrown stones” and we have all been the “condemned” at one time or another.

Unlike natural stones, the stones we throw don’t have physical weight.  However, they carry as much force and cause equivalent damage mentally and emotionally.  Our stones can be words meant to cut or bruise, or actions that shun others from love and affection.

Let’s think about those occasions when we are the “throwers”.  What judgments do we make about others that make us feel justified in hurling a stone?   Think back to the last time you said something unkind, to or about, another.  Or a time you turned away or avoided someone?  What made those actions ‘OK’?

She always says stupid things, and I was tired of it so I went off on her.”

She’s pretending to be someone she’s not, so I thought it was time to show her that I saw right through her.”

He thinks he’s better than everyone else so I had to put him in his place.”

Look at what she’s wearing.”

I heard she’s slept around.”

That child is out of control.  Clearly they don’t give enough attention to their children.”

And on and on and on, right? Much like actual stoning, these words and actions slowly and cruelly tear a person down.  While the first stone might hurt a little, it’s each consecutive one hitting that same spot over and over again that makes it so torturous and painful.

Now imagine you’re the “condemned” in those situations.  What might you be thinking as each ‘stone’ hits?

I know I don’t always have a filter, but I didn’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings.”

I’m just trying to be who I want to be, I didn’t mean to come across as fake.

I know I can be perceived as pompous, but I don’t want anyone to know how insecure I really am.”

I feel sexy and desirable in my clothes, why does anyone else care what I wear?

I just want to be loved.”

I’m doing the best I can as a parent.  It’s not always right, but at the time, it’s my best.”

We are human, and we all do it, but think before you pick up that next stone.  Imagine the need the “condemned” is trying to meet.  Empathize with it, offer help or kindness. At the very least, offer a silent prayer or positive thought that they become who they were authentically meant to be.  You can’t give someone a hand, if yours are full of stones.

If something truly needs to be said, and your intent is to help this person AND they trust you, be direct and transparent and lovingly offer your perspective.  Using your stones as stepping stones will produce greater results than using them as a form of punishment.

I’ll leave you with the words of Jesus, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” John 8:7.

I invite your comments below if you care to share your perspective on this topic.

Why We All Should Celebrate Rosh Hashanah

I’m not Jewish, but, at times, I really wish I knew a Rabbi. If I did, the first thing I’d ask about is Rosh Hashanah. Regardless of your religious beliefs, this holiday is one we all could benefit from practicing.

Rosh Hashanah begins on September 4th, teaches that God decides who will live and who will die during the coming year. As a result, Jews embark upon the serious task of examining their lives and repenting for any wrongs they have committed during the previous year. They are encouraged to make amends with anyone they have wronged and to make plans for improving during the coming year. It’s all about making peace in the community and striving to be a better person.

Huh. I mean, I guess that’s kinda like my New Year’s eve, but for that (drinking) holiday, I tend to forget about any wrong-doing and start with a clean slate. Convenient, yes? Then I plan to do one thing to be better. Lose weight, tone up, be nicer to the hubby, spend more time with the kids or my mother or my friends or…oh look it’s February…off the hook!

Just imagine…you’re an adult and you could be “selected” by God to “come home”. Do you think God really cares if you’re 5 (or 25 pounds) overweight? Does he care if you drink soda? Act impatient, or change your behavior for a few weeks? Not that any of these areas couldn’t be improved upon, but seriously, aren’t there more important, universal things to worry about???

Have you examined your life? Have you accomplished all that you wanted to? Have you made the difference you thought you would? Have you ‘righted’ your ‘wrongs’? How will you be a better person in the future? Not for a week or a month, but forever on this earth. How will you be your truest, most authentic self? How will you make this world a better place, if only for a moment?

Tell me in the comments section. Inspire others. Inspire me. Share your wisdom, your story. Comment. Shalom.

Oh, Be Nice! How You Can Contribute to World Peace

I’m a lover.  I love to love on people.  I love finding the lovable aspects of people.  It makes me feel good and it makes others feel good.  It does, however, make me an official CORNBALL!  I’m okay with this.  I don’t just walk around doling out loving comments to every person, every day.  That would be weird.  But if I see something worth mentioning I will.  I do this so the recipient knows I was lucky enough to see something great about them.  All this “goodness” must benefit the world somehow, right?

There’s even scientific research to support this. In an interview with Gretchen Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project”, Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky from the University of California stated, “Research shows that there are many simple activities that reliably make people happier.  My favorite is doing acts of kindness. We have found that almost any types of acts of kindness boost happiness. The recipients of kindness “paid the kind acts forward” and even acquaintances of the givers became happier and were inspired to act more generously themselves.”  Hot damn!

Furthermore, regarding her research on happiness, Professor Lyubomirsky said, “A review of all the available literature has revealed that happiness does indeed have numerous positive byproducts, which appear to benefit not only individuals, but families, communities, and the society at large (Lyubomirsky, King, & Diener, 2005).”  So you can contribute to world peace?? Yep, you sure can.

It’s worth mentioning that I compliment free of charge.  If I were to give them only to have them reciprocated then it’s an exchange.  Like an emotional transaction.  I’d be sitting around waiting for you to pay up. Emotional prostitution? Yuck!

There is also something thrilling (and scary) about complimenting an unsuspecting person.  There’s that moment when I wonder if the person is going to completely ignore me, accept it ungraciously (hate that!) or speed walk away clutching their child’s hand. More often, however, I get non-verbal communication which I’ll translate for you here: “Are you talking to me?”…”Ummm, where’s this going”…”Really?”…”Do you think so?”…”Wow”…”Thanks”.  It can completely shift a person’s thoughts from skeptical to “damn right!”

Underdogs hold a special place in my heart! That person with absolutely ZERO fashion sense who is always the most pleasant to everyone?  Yep, she’s mine! The “Bitch” who appears unapproachable, but is actually terribly insecure?  Mine too! That Parent who is clearly on their last nerve, but is showing Superhero-strength in patience? Them too!!  I adore the cocky professional who talks a good game but actually is all show, or the mom who hasn’t quite lost the last 15 pounds from her pregnancy…twelve years ago.

Bottom line is I try to be transparent and honest and I will do that at risk of being rejected.  But in the end, it’s worth it.  So often, the self-talk in our heads isn’t very nice.  We are hyper-critical of ourselves.  But when someone, with no apparent motive, gives a sincere compliment, doesn’t that feel good?  Don’t you walk a little taller, feel a little prouder when someone recognizes something beautiful about you?  Or when they think of you, and tell you, just because?  I think so.

So, I write about this for two reasons.

  • #1 – Consider yourself warned
  • #2 – Is this something you could do more fearlessly?

Think about it. It’s easy, it’s free, it’s fun!  Give for the sake of giving.  Love for the sake of loving.  And in case you’re wondering…I think you wear those extra pounds rather nicely…more to love! 🙂

Thanks for reading and won’t you share ANY thoughts you have on this topic? <3

Fencing with a Secret Keeper

Last week we talked about that voice in your head not speaking very nicely to you!  This week we are going to talk about the Secret Keepers and how they show their Confidence Deficiency.  While the Self-Saboteurs are usually quite lovable, the Secret Keepers are a little more prickly.  Nothing we can’t handle together, so let’s get to it!

Self-Saboteurs use their sword against themselves, Secret Keepers fence against others.  They are hell-bent on keeping their secrets, and will undermine any potential exposers.  They don’t want you to know that they have flaws.  They will lash out if you do anything to expose them.  These Secret Keepers will verbally attack you and are often blame-avoidant, defensive and tend to deflect negative attention onto others.

Life is viewed skeptically with an eye on the ulterior motive.  It’s difficult to want to help a Secret Keeper as they can cause a lot of stress in our lives, but these people have been hurt, so the idea of being vulnerable is more painful than any guilt they may feel when they hurt someone.  They can justify any action that hurts another by simply believing that person was going to eventually hurt them anyway.

As a coach, I can provide a safe place to feel vulnerable.   If you are a Secret Keeper, it’s important that you connect with someone you trust has no ulterior motives.  This could be a mentor, friend or coach.  I would recommend that you start by acknowledging to yourself, your “secrets”, ie: not smart enough, too sensitive, out of control, etc.  Then, list everything you can think of that “disproves” the claim. For instance, if one “secret” is that you don’t know as much about a topic as you’d like, list all the examples of times you did just fine, like the last project you pulled off, or helping a co-worker who knew even less, etc.

If your chain mail is being yanked by a Secret Keeper, I have a technique you can try.  Keep in mind that the more threatened this person is by you, the more time you’ll need before you’ll see a shift.  If you have felt their wrath, a good approach to try (after settling your own emotions) is to personally approach them and privately tell them how their action affected you.

Heather: “Hi SK, I’m hoping you can help me with something, do you have a minute?” 

SK: (defensive, but less so since you’re looking for help) “What’s up?” 

Heather: “Yesterday you made that comment about how I ‘always seem to have time to chat everybody up’, so maybe I could use some more to do.  Initially that really hurt me because I try to do my best and felt like you were calling me out in front of others, but then I thought maybe you were trying to help me.  Do you really believe that I don’t work as hard as everyone else?”

The key here is to cool their jets (by asking for their help), show your vulnerability (by showing how you perceived their comment, while being cautious of how much you share for your own protection.)  Following this up with the idea that perhaps they were trying to help you gives them an “out” for their behavior.  Calmly and sincerely asking if they really feel that way is where the rubber meets the road.  You have acted unexpectedly, likely confusing them.  Being confronted like this may cause them to back down and rephrase what they “meant” by their remark.  Regardless of their response, don’t get defensive.  Say you’ll have to give it some thought, and thank them for their feedback.  This approach doesn’t attack them.  The key is to get them to drop their guard bit by bit.

The problem with Confidence Deficiencies is that the sufferers (and they really do suffer) rely so heavily on external validation.  Because both types allow that negative chatter to continually play in their head, they don’t have the confidence within, so they seek it from others.  Unfortunately, these comments just go into the Ego Jar, which has no bottom, resulting in an insatiable need.

Whether a Self-Saboteur or Secret Keeper, these people just need a helping hand from us.  Being kind to the nice ones is easy.  Being kind to the not-so-nice ones is much harder.  Show some love and patience with others and remember we all have demons we are battling.  Use your sword to help someone fight their demon.  Be nice to yourself, talk nice to yourself and most of all love yourself!  I’d love your comments, but if you’re too busy lovin on you, that’s cool too!!

When the Voice Saying ‘You Suck’ is Yours

We have a big problem people.  I say “we” because even if you aren’t afflicted with this deficiency, I guarantee that you’re affected by someone who is.  Someone lacking in this vital element is missing out on a happy, healthy and hopeful life.  This element is Confidence.  Not the “fake it til you make it” kind.  I mean the true, “I’m flawed, but I’m awesome” kind.

Every human being deserves to feel confident, happy, healthy and hopeful!  There are two main types of Confidence Deficiencies.  There are the Self- Saboteurs who I’ll discuss this week and the Secret Keepers who I’ll discuss next week.   I will list the most common symptoms each type possesses to help you better identify if you or someone you know suffers from a Deficiency.

The Self-Saboteurs are very easy to spot and are less of a threat to others.   They are, however, a significant threat to themselves.  The most common symptoms include: negative comments about self to others, self-pity, and over-explaining decisions made in anticipation of another’s criticism.  They frequently use sentences that include, “I’m too…” or “I don’t…”  Here are some examples:

  •  When asked to go to the beach, Self-Saboteur will reply, “No thanks, I get too many autograph requests from people thinking I was the whale in ‘Free Willy’!” (Often said with a chuckle or smile).
  •  When a friend suggests they apply for a great job, Self-Saboteur will reply, “I’d love that job, but I don’t have the formal education I’ll bet the other applicants do.”
  •  When a co-worker says, “Hey Lisa, thanks for that report…” Self-Saboteur may interrupt by saying, “I’m sorry it took so long, but I’m a total tool when it comes to that software…”

This negative speak continually reinforces how much they suck.  They have convinced themselves that they are just saying out loud what the other person is thinking.  While self-deprecating humor can be funny and show humility, these folks take it to the extreme.  It’s bad enough when you have to be around Mean Girls or Mean Guys, but to have one living in your head, speaking in your own voice…Oy vey!

Self-Saboteurs create their own self-fulfilling prophecies.  They give others permission to criticize, demean and view them as less valuable and less deserving of good things.  Unfortunately, some people will take them up on this offer.  Self-Saboteurs may find their personal relationships verbally or physically abusive, or they so exhaust their partner and friends, that eventually those people bow out of the relationship.  At work, Self-Saboteurs may sabotage their own career growth as they make statements that make others doubt their ability to do more.  Often times, these people battle depression and/or addiction.

So what’s the remedy?  If you can identify with being a Self-Saboteur, then you have to start by being nice to yourself.  When coaching Self-Saboteurs, I often have them start each day with a sentence that begins with, “I am awesome at ____________”.  No repeating sentences, it must be posted somewhere visible throughout the day and it must be done every day for 30 days.

If you know a Self-Saboteur and want to help them, try to stop them in their tracks.  I’ve found it effective to frown at their self-loathing and sternly say, “That’s not very nice!”   You could follow that up with a sincere compliment.  For instance, if a visibly overweight Self-Saboteur say’s “I’m a big fatty”, don’t reply with “I think you’re skinny”, but if you sincerely think their curves are beautiful, say so.  You could also follow up your statement by saying “I don’t like when you put yourself down like that, because I think you’re a nicer person than that.”

Remember, these people didn’t become deficient overnight, so it will take time to get them to start viewing their positive qualities.  Continue discouraging their mean talk and take the time to point out their positive qualities as you see them.  If you or someone you know is struggling with this I know a great life coach who would be happy to help 😉

I’d love to hear your comments on this topic, so please share your perspective below.  Stay tuned for next week’s Secret Keeper symptoms and remedies!

Finding Your Spiritual Mojo

As a child, I was very “spiritual”.  Still am.  While my parents instilled good values in me, they weren’t church going folk.  As a child, I wanted to be a nun.  To be fair, I also wanted to be a firewoman, mom, teacher, wife, truck driver, and even toyed with the idea of being a prostitute (I thought they just hugged people for money).

Upon starting a family, I became very active in church.  I taught Sunday school, sang in the choir, joined the “reading group” and took the family on week-long church sponsored summer retreats.  Despite all this, I never felt truly connected.

Coming to this sad realization, I went on a journey to learn about the other major religions and try to rediscover my spiritual mojo.  I learned about Judiasm, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and even more about Christianity.  I was surprised at how many historical facts, virtues and morals overlapped between the religions.  There were many similarities.  There were also many rules.

I struggled with aspects of each religion in one way or another and recounted how some of these seemingly unimportant rules affected me.  For instance, when in my twenties, I attended a funeral and after receiving bread and wine, I was reprimanded by a co-worker who told me that in the Catholic Church, only Catholics are allowed to receive.  Oh…my bad.

I never lost faith or thought that God didn’t exist.  Ultimately what I came to believe is that the religions I’m familiar with and the books they follow were written and designed by man.  I just can’t help but to see some human motivation for some of the rules that exist within religions.  The idea that we have religions that preach hate, and intolerance, a la Westboro Baptist Church, make me doubt that this is God’s design.

I’m not saying I’m right, that’s the point of faith.  We don’t KNOW, we just BELIEVE.  However, after spending years ruminating over the whole religious thing, and feeling guilty and bad for not “belonging”, I choose to practice the good in every religion.  I choose to try really hard to always be nice and kind and loving and accepting.  To not judge, condemn or hate.  Call me crazy, but that’s what I believe God intended.

I think God is way too big to fit into some little man-made label.  That being said, the churchgoers I know are kind, loving, generous people who are practicing what they believe is right and I don’t begrudge them that.   I just would hate for someone to think that if they don’t believe in one, than they believe in none.  Take the good, leave the rest.  Focusing on our differences is so unproductive.  If we focus on our similarities, I’m bettin’ there’d be more peace in the world.

Have you ever struggled with this topic?  Share in the comments section below how you found your spiritual mojo.

Immigrants and Roller Coasters

This week I was going to write about my views on immigrants.  Due to all the political hoopla that surrounded the topic I opted instead to focus more on a universal emotion.  Originally, I wanted to highlight who these immigrants are and why they leave their countries to come here.  I considered the emotion they must feel when arriving in an unfamiliar place and then I thought about roller coasters.  Huh?

I try to walk in the emotional shoes of others to better understand them.  So what emotion connects immigrants and roller coasters? Vulnerability. (It’s all making sense now, isn’t it?) Both of these situations take a lot of control from you.  There are more questions than answers.  Yet, despite the uncertainty, the risk of failure or loss or pain.  There’s equal risk of joy, success and pleasure.

If you’re still here, thanks, I know it was a crazy wind-up!

WARNING: PROFOUND STATEMENT APPROACHING!!  To be your best, most authentic self, you have to be willing to be vulnerable. A lot.  It means you have to be willing to admit that you’re scared or need help, or tell someone you love them, even if you don’t know if they can reciprocate the emotion.  You have to be willing to do this over and over again.

For me ‘vulnerable’ is synonymous with ‘brave’.  To be (not just feel) vulnerable, you have to be brave.  That’s exactly how I feel on roller coasters.  I don’t like them and I have the face of Quasimodo in EVERY picture taken at the peak of each one.  But I’m brave and I go on them every year in all my homely glory.

I am surrounded by brave people who openly share their vulnerabilities.  But I’m also surrounded by others who see vulnerability as a weakness and I can assure you, it’s holding them back from truly enjoying their life to its fullest.  Is it scary being vulnerable? Hell to the Yeah!! You could be wrong, or embarrassed or hurt, but you know what? Do it anyway!

When you truly put yourself out there, not only are you closer to your true and authentic self, but you’re making it okay for anyone watching you, to be as well.

Next time you are around a person who is clearly vulnerable, why don’t you show ‘em a little love?  Then tell them how brave they are.  Maybe it’ll be an immigrant or a roller coaster rider or maybe it’ll even be you…

This Authentic Life blog and business is a vulnerable pursuit for me and I thank you for giving me a little love each week.  Oh, and I love you…even if you don’t love me back! <3

Do you have a story about a vulnerable moment and how sharing it helped?  Comment below oh brave one.