So I was thinking (I do that a lot) about this idea of showing up, being truly seen and living a brave life…     Have you ever given much thought to the idea of letting yourself be truly, genuinely seen?     There is a powerful, transformational experience that happens when we allow ourselves to be truly and intimately witnessed by another. We might do this by expressing our unbridled joy or sorrow, by taking a stand on something we feel in our heart, by sharing our heartaches or failures, by asking for what we need, and in so many other ways.  However, it always means being authentically who we are, not who we think we are supposed to be… who we really are ! That includes the parts of us that we don’t like and maybe don’t even want to admit that we have. Yikes!     So why do it?  Because this is where the true stuff of life is! This how we create true connection. And we humans are hard-wired for connection.  This is what it means to truly live and love.     The thing is…  we have to be brave enough to be vulnerable  (defined by Brené Brown as risk, uncertainty and emotional exposure) and share our selves. Here’s the caveat, it must be with someone who has earned our trust and the right to hear our story.     Dr. Brené Brown has discovered from her 13 plus years of research at The University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work that “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, accountability and authenticity.” I don’t know about you,  but I want all of that . And, I’ve learned that I have to be willing to let myself be seen to get that. It’s scary, but it’s worth it.     When you bare yourself to someone, you are giving the gift of you, while at the same time showing that person that they matter. You let them into your intimate space. If you’ve ever done this and seen love, appreciation, acceptance, understanding and maybe even admiration on your friend or loved one’s face you know how transformative it can be.  To truly be seen and loved for who you are is the most profound joy.         I’ve been practicing this in my life more and more these days, especially since I became certified in Brené Brown’s work. I have to say that although it has been scary and tough at times, it is really transforming the relationships that mean the most to me and I have never felt more true to my authentic self – more centered in my true self with all my imperfections. I have to say that I love the way I feel when I’m in this space. True…Real…Alive…Brave!       What do you think? Is it worth giving it a try?     If you have done this in your life, share it with us to inspire us below.      

So I was thinking (I do that a lot) about this idea of showing up, being truly seen and living a brave life…

 

Have you ever given much thought to the idea of letting yourself be truly, genuinely seen?

 

There is a powerful, transformational experience that happens when we allow ourselves to be truly and intimately witnessed by another. We might do this by expressing our unbridled joy or sorrow, by taking a stand on something we feel in our heart, by sharing our heartaches or failures, by asking for what we need, and in so many other ways.  However, it always means being authentically who we are, not who we think we are supposed to be…who we really are! That includes the parts of us that we don’t like and maybe don’t even want to admit that we have. Yikes!

 

So why do it?

Processing the Stuck

Processing the Stuck

 

Have you ever felt stuck?  That there is something that you want to do, but you can’t seem to find the motivation to move forward with it?  I think we all have at one time or another.  Interestingly, it has been happening to me over the last few months about writing my next blog.  Maybe you’ve noticed that I haven’t written in a while.

 

I’ve been planning to write and tell you about the amazing experience I had in Australia with Brené Brown and her senior faculty as I trained to become a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator-Candidate.  It was outstanding and life changing, and I’m so grateful and excited to begin this work.

 

So, that was March and this is July….so what’s the hold up?  There were some valid reasons initially.  I came home from Australia and a week later went to be with my dear brother-in-law and sister-in-law to help the family as my brother-in-law entered the last stages of his battle with lung cancer.  

Gratitude inspiration from Oprah and Brene

Gratitude inspiration from Oprah and Brene

I love Oprah Winfrey…I have for 30+ years.  I feel we’re kindred spirits and have seemed to be on the same spiritual path for so long.  She inspires me (and I love to feel inspired!)

 

I remember at least 20 years ago that I heard Oprah first talk about a gratitude practice.  I remember laughing as she talked about how keeping a gratitude journal had so dramatically improved her life.  She said “and I was having a pretty good life already.”  For years I tried to get a gratitude practice in place.  Just like I tried to meditate regularly and keep a journal.  I’d start each year with each of those goals and within a short time, would let the rest of my activities inch the practices out.  There never seemed to be enough time. 

 

In the last 4 years since I made my “Leap of Faith” 

I am imperfect and I am enough! Thank you Brene!

I am imperfect and I am enough! Thank you Brene!

In September I finished my first Book Club (actually two, I did a virtual and in person one) and it was so fabulous!  I loved every minute of it!  I love to read books that inspire and/or enlighten me and to have the opportunity to do that and come together with a fabulous group of women to discuss each others insights and perspectives on what we just read is my idea of an amazing way to spend an evening. 

 

We read Brene Brown’s bestselling book The Gifts of Imperfection.  I’m a huge fan of Brene’s work.  It has had a profound impact on my life and I’m even enrolled in her Daring Way training program in Australia in March to be certified in it.  If you aren’t familiar with Brene, the best place to start is with her TedX talk on The Power of Vulnerability https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCvmsMzlF7o which currently has about 3.8 million views.  Brene is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work and a wonderful storyteller. She’s spent over 12 years researching courage, vulnerability and shame.

 

What Brene found in this research created what she lovingly refers to in the Ted Talk and the book as a “Breakdown Spiritual Awakening” in her own life.  This happened when she realized that the people that she found in her research and refers to as the Wholehearted (living and loving with their whole hearts) had ten things in common and she was not seeing them in her own life experience. 

 

If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it.  I couldn’t begin to do it justice in just a blog post, but let me share with you the 10 Guideposts for Wholehearted Living:

 

1.     Cultivating Authenticity:  Letting go of what people think

Take the needle out of your arm!

Take the needle out of your arm!

Let’s talk about guilt, or is it shame?

 

Brene Brown, renowned courage, vulnerability and shame researcher and author of The Gifts of ImperfectionDaring Greatly and most recently Rising Strong says “I believe that there is a profound difference between shame and guilt. I believe that guilt is adaptive and helpful – it’s holding something we’ve done or failed to do up against our values and feeling psychological discomfort.”

 

She goes on to say “I define shame as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.” She says “I don’t believe shame is helpful or productive.”

 

A couple of years ago I took a Leadership Training Program and worked with a coach one on one outside of the group activities our team did.  The program was designed to stretch us and cause breakdowns that would ultimately become breakthroughs for us.  Very challenging! One day, after a time when I was beating myself up over something I hadn’t done as well as I could, or thought I should, my coach said to me “My goodness Lillie, take the needle out of your arm!” 

Nobody needs me to take care of them!

About 2 years ago, I attended a training program that was life changing for me.  It was one of the most intense and difficult things I’ve done in my life and it began a transformation in me that brought me closer to my true self and helped me find my true purpose.  Big stuff!

 

I have so many lessons from it, but at the end of the day, the most profound for me was the deep knowing that no body needs me to take care of them.  I know that this sounds pretty simple and straight-forward, but for me it shifted everything. 

 

If you’ve read my blogs or know me you probably know that I was the “big sister” and grew up feeling pretty responsible for everything and everyone.  I also had a healthy (actually not so healthy) drive for perfection and to gain other’s approval.  It kept me striving, kept me separate and kept me feeling that I was the capable one that could take care of everyone and everything. 

 

It started in my family and then carried over into

Gifts of Breast Cancer - my I don't give a shit attitude

 

When I was being treated for breast cancer, many people recommended and gave me books.  One of my favorites was Love, Medicine and Miracles by Bernie S. Siegel, M.D.  What I took away from it or maybe in hearing Louise Hay talk about it was that cancer is a signpost on the road of life telling you that you are going in the wrong direction.  It is your opportunity to reflect, evaluate and change course. 

 

That was certainly true for me.  I believe my spiritual path and the way that I live my life was significantly altered as a result of having cancer at 27.  It truly was a gift to me and I began to look at things that I’d held as absolutes as more grey.  I started to let go of some of the requirements that I placed on myself that drove me and kept me in a state of dis-ease. 

 

My cancer was difficult for all the people that loved me, especially my ex-husband.  It was scary and difficult, and it was also the beginning of a new person coming to life.  I found that things that I’d pushed myself to do to please him and others were not as important to me anymore.  He began to refer to it as my "I don't give a shit attitude" which actually was a great description of it!  I don’t think he felt it was so great, but

Is it contradictory?

Is it contradictory?

As a child of the sixties, I’m at my core a feminist in the best sense of the word.  I believe in the equality of the sexes.  I believe that when we both see and honor the unique gifts of the masculine and feminine energies, we’re more whole and the world is a better and a higher functioning place.

 

I’ve experienced my share of gender discrimination in the workforce and in other aspects of my life and I learned that to survive and succeed in the corporate world that I had to act and think more like a man.  I recall a Senior Vice President once saying to me when I stated that I felt a certain way about something – “I don’t want to know how you feel, I want to know what you think!”  So… I adapted and I succeeded.  However, I’ve come to believe that giving up what is beautiful and powerful about being female (our feelings, instincts and intuition) isn’t a good trade for success and these days I’d argue that it makes us less successful. 

 

I think I’m beginning to see this

Gifts of Breast Cancer - Feel the love

I have always been a leader. I was the big sister and I was given (or took) a lot of responsibility for my sisters, and honestly everyone in my family.  I was a Lieutenant in my dance team in high school (I know, Lieutenant Lillie, hilarious!) and was Vice President of the Student Council.  When I went into the workforce, it wasn’t long before I found myself in a leadership position.  Often leading people much older than me. 

 

In earlier times (and honestly, still sometimes today) a girl or woman that is a leader is often considered bossy at best or a bitch at worst.  I have been called both.  Especially in my business life, I was a tough cookie and often rubbed people the wrong way with my "truth telling" (as my friend Pam calls it).  I always thought (and still do) that it is more caring to a person to tell them the truth rather than tell them what they want to hear and then take action based on the truth (promotions, performance evaluations, etc.)  I say all of that to say that I had developed the perception that I was not well liked in my work life. 

 

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer and went into surgery for the mastectomy they performed to treat it.  I remember waking up very groggy from the surgery in my room at the hospital and being surrounded by flowers, balloons, cards, etc.  As I looked around the room

The Joy of Cooking! Thank you Dave.

The Joy of Cooking! Thank you Dave.

I’ve just returned from the annual Marshall Family Reunion. It takes place every July in New Concord, Ohio at the Marshall home (also known as Gema’s House.) It’s a fabulous gathering of a family of foodies! We all look forward to it every year. We come together and cook, eat, drink, dance and generally catch up with each other.  It’s my kind of event!  David Marshall is my father-in-law and the leader of the pack when it comes to the food part of the weekend (although some of us are stepping up to take the reins these days.)  Being with Dave makes me pause to think of how he’s transformed the way I think about food and especially about cooking!

 

Have you ever heard the saying that some people eat to live and some people live to eat?  Well, I fall in to the later category, now.  I’ve always loved good food, but growing up in Texas in my family, that usually meant some form of Tex-Mex (which I still love to this day) and was the only thing I really remember my Mom cooking “from scratch.”  My Mom was a mother in the 60s and she preferred the convenience of modern prepared foods, i.e. cake mixes, canned foods, Spam (seriously!), etc. We ate pretty basic stuff and my sisters and I were always part of the cooking process.

 

To this day, one of my favorite things is to be with a group of cooks in the kitchen – it feels like home to me.  However, I would never have said I love to cook.  I just love the joy and connection with people working in a kitchen together. Cooking was just

Gifts of Breast Cancer - I get what really matters.

Gifts of Breast Cancer - I get what really matters.

If you know me well or have read my blogs, then you know that I am a Breast Cancer Survivor (I prefer Thriver.)  You may also know that I consider it to be one of the best things to ever happen to me.  There are so many gifts that I received from having Breast Cancer, I want to share the first one with you today.

I found a lump in my breast six weeks after the miscarriage of my second child at the age of 27.  It was July, and I remember I was on vacation and felt it while putting on sunscreen in.  I happened to have the six week check up from my miscarriage the following Monday and my OB/GYN immediately sent me to a specialist to have it checked out.  My Doctor thought it was very unlikely that it would be anything serious based on my age, but wanted me to check it out, just to be sure.  I was scared, mostly because I had just seen the movie Terms of Endearment while on vacation, and it all seemed too possible!

So off I went for all the tests and the appointment with the surgeon.  Scared, but optimistic.  After all, there was no history of cancer in my family that I knew of, so what were the odds, especially at my age?  The surgeon felt that we needed to do a biopsy and she made plans for me to check into the hospital for the procedure the following Monday.

Later that week I got a call from the surgeon.  I will never forget that moment or that day as long as I live. 

So, what are you doing for you?

So, what are you doing for you?

So if you’ve followed my Blogs you know by now that I am a breast cancer survivor  thrivor.  I can honestly say that having breast cancer was one of the best things that has happened to me.  It was like a sign post on the road of life telling me I was going the wrong direction.  It gave me so many gifts and I will share them with you as time goes by. 

Recently around Mother’s Day I read a great article by Michele Long on Sarah Jenks website  http://sarahjenks.com/blog/happy-mothers-day/  Michelle  talks about her mother who died from breast cancer and learned too late that she had not lived her life in a way that nurtured her.  She had beautiful memories of how her mother transformed after learning this lesson once she was diagnosed and fighting the disease.  Michelle has used this powerful lesson to guide her to create a life that is authentic, wholehearted and not self-sacrificing.

A Leap of Faith – Boulder!

A Leap of  Faith – Boulder!

As part of my own personal growth journey, I often reflect on the story of my life.  When I do this, I see so many pivotal moments and choices that have made all the difference in my life and my happiness.  Some of them are true “Leaps of Faith.”  I want to share them with you over the coming months in hopes that you can get insights or inspiration from my experiences and lessons learned, or just for your amusement.  You know what they say, “a good laugh is good for the soul!”

Since it is June, let’s talk about Boulder.  Have you ever been so in love that all you could see was joy and possibility?  Well…that was me 21 years ago this month.  So in love with Doug (that was another “Leap of Faith” I will share with you soon)  and full of possibility as we started our life together.

Some background here…I spent the first 37 years of my life in Houston, Texas.  Most of the Texans I know can't imagine living anywhere else, but as I said, life was shifting for me.  I was in love with someone who had moved around the country a bit and had landed in Houston as part of a plan to start a business that they were not able to get off the ground, and he didn't love Houston.  Actually, neither did I, but moving away from my very large family and all of my friends was a scary thought to me.  I didn't know if I could handle such a big change and losing my support system.  But, I was making big changes in my life and feeling amazing about it and the possibilities seemed endless.  And, did I mention that I was in love with a man who saw no limitations in what we could do.

He said where do you want to live?  We asked Mike (my son who was 11 at the time) where would you want to live if you could live anywhere you want.  Mike said Colorado (he had just learned to ski and had been on 2 spring break ski trips to Colorado and loved it).  I thought, I love those mountains and I have always been drawn to the idea of Boulder, Colorado (ever since the days of Mork and Mindy.) Beautiful, funky, creative, spiritual, how could we go wrong?

Relax, it's a new beginning, there is time.

It’s May and that always makes me think of graduations and new beginnings!  Particularly this year, as my nephew and one of my favorite people in the world, is graduating from college.  YAY Dane!!  It seems like yesterday that he was just a baby.  Every time I see him I am always struck by his confidence, his comfort in his own skin and his authenticity (not to mention his amazing musical talent.)  The fact that he has come to this place at such a young age always amazes me, as it has been my life’s work to get to that place.  So it is not surprising that in talking to him about what’s next after graduation, he seems very calm and comfortable in his next steps, even though he is still finding his way to what he wants to do in life.  He seems to just flow with it and not get to far ahead in the planning.  Just letting things come together in their own time. 

It’s a sharp contrast to where I was when I graduated from high school.  You see I was not bound for college.  Why you ask?  Well, you see, my Mom was not a fan of college.  I know that sounds strange these days, but my Mom did not graduate from High School and found all her joy and accomplishment in life in being a mother and a wife.  She wanted the same for me.  It also didn’t help that she had heard from women that she knew and trusted that "good girls become bad girls when they go off to college."  So needless to say, she was not a fan.  I was her oldest daughter and had been raised to be a very good girl and an example to my sisters.  She was not keen on the idea of risking that, and she truly didn't see the importance of it. 

Oddly enough, looking back on it, I guess I agreed with her.  In my Senior Memory book I wrote that my career goal was to be a wife and a mother.  There was not much emphasis on college and my boyfriend was not going to college, so I didn't want to be away from him.  I decided I could go to school part time at the community college.  Looking back on it now, it seems like I was just afraid.  I was sticking with what I knew and was comfortable with. 

Hence, getting a job was in order.  My Dad made it clear to all of us growing up that he would support us until we were 18 and then he joked (maybe, not so jokingly) that he would "break our plates" and we would be on our own.  I took him seriously (I took everything so seriously), so I knew that I had to start supporting myself.

My aunt got me a job with her company doing clerical work and we all decided that I would start working on the Monday after I graduated from high school on Friday.  What the hell was I thinking?  My career began at 18 and with the exception of the year off that I took when I had my son and the 3 months between leaving my job in Colorado to start my job in Chicago, I worked non-stop for 37 years.  I wish someone would have knocked some sense into me and encouraged me to take a break, be young, have some fun and play a little! 

But at that point in my life, (and honestly, for a good portion of my life) I thought everything was so serious and I felt I had to be responsible and live up to everyone’s expectations of me.  Taking time off for fun, are you kidding?

It has taken me 50 years to figure out that life is meant to be enjoyed and that we can relax because we have all the time we need.  What a difference it has made in my life and how beautiful it is to see my amazing nephew has this figured out in his twenties!  It inspires me! 

How about you?  What have you learned that you wish you knew when you were young?  What advice would you give to your younger self?  Leave a comment below and share your pearls of wisdom and how they are impacting how you live your life today.  

The Desire Map Workshop - Live a Liberated Life

The Desire Map Workshop - Live a Liberated Life

Desire is alive in Charlotte and Houston!  In February I facilitated the first Danielle LaPorte, Desire Map Workshop, Level 1 in Charlotte and in March I went back to my home town of Houston, Texas and facilitated my second.   Wow, what an honor it was to do this work and be in the presence of these powerful, courageous, amazing women!  Something magical happens when women come together like this. It was truly a dream come true.

For those of you that don’t know, The Desire Map started out as a book, written by Danielle LaPorte.  From there, it became the driver of over 500 book clubs around the world. 

At the heart of it all?  A commitment to feeling good.

The Desire Map Workshop - Live a Liberated Life

The Desire Map Workshop - Live a Liberated Life

Desire is alive in Charlotte and Houston!  In February I facilitated the first Danielle LaPorte, Desire Map Workshop, Level 1 in Charlotte and in March I went back to my home town of Houston, Texas and facilitated my second.   Wow, what an honor it was to do this work and be in the presence of these powerful, courageous, amazing women!  Something magical happens when women come together like this. It was truly a dream come true.

For those of you that don’t know, The Desire Map started out as a book, written by Danielle LaPorte.  From there, it became the driver of over 500 book clubs around the world.

At the heart of it all?  A commitment to feeling good.

When did we lose our fearlessness?

We recently took our annual visit to the beach with some of my favorite people.  It is always a great, relaxing, joyful time, but this year was special, as it was our 19 month old granddaughter Lillian’s first time at the ocean. 

Watching her, approach this experience as she approaches every experience, I kept being struck by her fearlessness. 

The first day into the ocean she was tentative, but curious.  She wanted to go in, but she wanted you right there to hold her hands and pick her up when a big wave came her way.   As the day went on and she had more experience with the waves she became braver and didn’t even mind if she got water in her face 

The second day came and she was even braver and seemed to want to go further into the ocean with you at her side holding her hands.  She experienced total joy with every big wave that came her way.

By the third day, she would take off running toward the ocean with no one holding her hand and we had to run after her to keep her safe.  Total fearlessness!

I felt exhilarated watching her and kept wondering.  Were we all like that when we were that young?  When does the fear come in?  Is it because her parents are so great about letting her explore and test her boundaries without always being afraid and overly cautious? 

It is such a mystery to me! She has become my teacher and she inspires me to go toward new adventures and opportunities with the same fearlessness.

This is what I learned from Lillian.

  •  Follow your curiosity, even if it is a little scary
  • Keep someone you trust at your side to hold your hand as you explore
  • Test your boundaries and see how far you can go
  • Fall down and get right back up and keep going
  • Enjoy the newness of the experience
  • Take off on your own as your confidence grows.

What a way to live your life! We can all learn something from a fearless 19 month old.  Thank you Lillian, Mimi loves you so much

What do you think?  Did we have it and lose it along the way?  How are you getting it back in your life?

10 Powerful Ways to Thrive
(Rather Than Survive)

10 Powerful Ways to Thrive<br>(Rather Than Survive)

Having experienced cancer three times in my life, I am often referred to as a cancer survivor. While I know that those who call me a survivor mean well, the term itself has never really resonated.

Don’t get me wrong. I am immensely grateful to have experienced cancer multiple times and come out of it stronger and with a new perspective of the world. It is just that surviving does not feel like life as I (and I expect most of us) want to live it.