Tag Archives: relationships

No More Ms. Nice Girl

All my life I have been told that the way I communicate is too straight forward and blunt. I have spent decades of both my personal and professional life trying to be “softer” in my communication so that I won’t offend other people. I have avoided conflict at every opportunity for fear of being judged as not nice.

Well, that is over.

Certainly, my intent is not to go around bashing people over the head with my words. But, that has never been my intent although that’s how it was received. So, I am going to say what is true in the way that is natural for me. For me, that is by not sugar-coating or pussy-footing around.

I am not going to label, or name-call, or insult. But I am going to speak my truth without apology for the way it is delivered.

Oh, you say, you catch more flies with honey. You know what, I’m not looking to catch flies. I am looking to be heard. Sometimes it takes being bold to wake people up enough to listen. Even if the reaction is one of offense, it is better than no reaction.

But, more than that, I refuse to continue to apologize for saying what is true for me in a way that you don’t like.

You feel I am being too blunt? Maybe you need to look inside yourself and see what part of you is threatened by hearing my message directly without the usual accompanying garnishes.

You feel insulted because I called you out on something you said that I disagree with? In our society women are expected to be “nice,” which includes not disagreeing, or doing so in a roundabout, indirect manner.

Being respectful and being direct are not mutually exclusive. I can disagree with you in a very direct manner, and that is not inherently disrespectful. If you feel disrespected, then, again, I suggest you look inside to see the narcissism that is threatened by disagreement. Or look at your ideas of how women should communicate that I am violating.

I had a big shift last week. Being heard is more important than being liked.

I had already made that shift when I saw this quote from Naomi Shulman (full text of the blog post at http://www.wbur.org/cognoscenti/2016/11/17/the-post-election-case-for-speaking-out-naomi-shulman) on Facebook, which affirmed the direction I am headed:

“Nice people made the best Nazis. My mom grew up next to them. They got along, refused to make waves, looked the other way when things got ugly and focused on happier things than “politics.” They were lovely people who turned their heads as their neighbors were dragged away. You know who weren’t nice people? Resisters.”

Yeah.

So, I’m done couching what I say in politically correct terms and wrapping it in softness to make it palatable for you. There are things going on that are not right. I’m going to point that out. Boldly. Directly.

If you want to pull the covers over your head to avoid seeing, and put your fingers in your ears while humming to block out my words, I will yank those covers off you and pull your fingers out of your ears. I can’ t stop you humming, but at that point it’s completely your decision: face reality, or turn away to focus on “happier things.”

I’m done being nice.

The Election Outcome – Fostering Love and Kindness

This post is written in the format of a letter to my son.

The presidential election was two days ago. I was heart-broken over the outcome, although I was not surprised by it. I’m going to share my Facebook posts from yesterday with the intention of letting you see how I was feeling and the impact it had on me.

“I am heartsick.”

My heart literally hurt. I felt nauseous. I had feared for quite some time that this would be the outcome of the election, but continued to hope I was wrong. It was inconceivable to me that there are so many people in our country that think the bigotry, misogyny and bullying displayed by our president-elect is okay. That still floors me, but I am gaining another perspective on it as well.

“The only path forward is love. Love is what heals the hurt and fear that has created the world we live in. There is power in intention, so intentionally send your love and healing to our nation. There is power in numbers, so join together in sending your love and healing energy. I will join you there.”

I felt an overwhelming need to do something. And using my energy and intention in a positive way was the only thing I could do at that moment. Going forward there will be opportunities to do something in the physical world, while continuing to hold an attitude of love.

“The election is over, the people have spoken. I will not contribute to greater division by criticizing the new president-elect, or those who voted for him. Something is seriously wrong in this country when the majority of people feel so much fear that they feel the need to choose a leader who traffics in fear.

We need to look deep and see that those people have real fears that are not being addressed. I have no tolerance for bigotry in any form, yet I understand that it comes from a place of fear. We need to understand and address those fears so that we can all come together.”

Like so many others, I was on overload from all the negativity surrounding the election. I wasn’t going to perpetuate that personally, and I wasn’t going to immerse myself in other people’s negativity. Again, I wanted to focus on the path forward, and it is essential to acknowledge and address that there is a reason half the nation voted the way they did. We need to accept that reality and then do something to shift it if we don’t like it.

“I am reminding myself that the US government was designed with checks and balances. The presidency is only one component. There are so many prominent Republicans that spoke out against Trump. My hope is that as Senators and Representatives they are strong enough to continue to stand up for what is right as we go forward.”

Yes, I am still scared about what the outcome of this election will bring. And at the same time, I don’t want to catastrophize. Remembering that our nation’s government was structured in a way to prevent the abuse of power by one individual has helped me a lot. A friend commented on this post that her hope was that the Republicans and Democrats could come together because of this, and that is one of my hopes as well. There has been so much divisiveness in the past eight years, and perhaps this president will be the catalyst for the two parties to band together in the country’s best interest.

“So many people are posting what is in my heart, too. Let’s actively make America kind again, by actively being kind to everyone we meet. Lead by example and we will change the world.”

Late on election night someone added me to a secret Facebook group supporting Hillary. Although my vote was more about voting against Trump than voting for Hillary, seeing the posts in this group gave me a lot of hope. There were millions of others who feel like I do, who are devastated and scared for our country, who want to protect the rights of women and minorities, who want to take action from a place of love and kindness.

“Allow yourself to grieve. I am grieving the loss of illusion. Our world is not (yet) the way I hoped for or wanted it to be. After grieving, then it will be time to deal with reality and the actions I can take to be part of the shift towards my dream of how our world can be.”

Many people in the secret group, as well as my friends, were posting that they couldn’t stop crying. I had not allowed myself to go there yet, because my fallback position is always to buck up and take action. I tried writing a blog post, but I couldn’t do it, and I knew it was because it was too soon. I needed to grieve. I needed to allow myself to feel (beyond the physical heart and stomach ache).

And so I cried. And cried. And cried some more. Crying is not something that has come easily to me in the past, and although I am getting more comfortable with it, it still sometimes takes me a while to allow those feelings to surface. I know that it is a healthy thing to do, to allow emotions to process through rather than suppressing them. And so I cried.

“Many people are expressing that they are scared because of the outcome of the election. Yes. It is a scary thing. And, I still believe that we don’t have to allow this election to define us. In our own lives we can be revolutionaries that will not allow hatred to go unchallenged.

I have been scared for the past year; I could see the writing on the wall, the parallels to Nazi Germany. We do not have to allow that to happen to our country.

Yes, there are steps we can take through the political process. But what I’m asking us to do is to take action personally. Every single day. To approach every interaction with love and kindness. To stand up for our brothers and sisters whose voices are not heard. To challenge every single thing you witness that does not come from love and kindness.

Don’t be afraid to confront. Don’t be afraid to cause a scene. Approach with good intent, but don’t be bullied into silence. Stand up and be heard. It’s easy to say, and very hard to do. But I’m going to do my best to make this my personal mission.

Because I’m scared and I don’t want to be. Because I will not be made to feel powerless. Because I don’t want to live in a world of hate and discrimination.

We can each make a difference. Every single one of us. Please, please, please do whatever you can.”

Yes, I have feared this outcome for the past year, even as I worked to avert it. It began when there was so much controversy over the Syrian refugees, and I was confronted with the fear many other people were feeling. I began seeing then the parallels with Nazi Germany. Only in this case instead of the Jews, it was the Muslims.

I am fearful for all minorities, whether minority by race, religion or sexual identification. And, of course, I am fearful for women. But I don’t want my fear to turn into anger and hatred. Instead I want to use it to fuel actions that will affect positive change with or without the buy-in of our president-elect.

I have often thought of the brave Germans who hid and protected Jews during that awful time. Would I have the courage to do the same? I have truly wondered about this many times. Do I have the strength to stand up for others when my very life may be threatened in doing so?

I have never been sure, have always feared I would be too cowardly. The opportunity to prove differently is here, and I intend to take it. I am not going to be quiet. I am not going to go along to get along. I am going to do whatever is in my power to protect myself and others from bullying and discrimination, and to preserve human rights for everyone.

Letter 2: What I Believe

This post is written in the format of a letter to my son.

I think it’s important to share my beliefs with you, because that is a very quick and easy way to gain a lot of understanding about who I am. We have not talked about these things, except in passing. Partly because as I became more clear on what I believed and my spirituality became a priority in my life, you were becoming a teenager, and I was afraid of being judged by you.

I realize now it was a big mistake not to share the path I was on, what I was learning, who I was becoming. Even though I believe that we each have our own path and our own beliefs, and yours may not look anything like mine, I let go of the chance for the discussion, and for you to see that it’s okay to talk about what you believe even when others may disagree.

My beliefs have been developed and honed over many years of both internal and external exploration. However, I also believe that I have always had a knowingness of their truth, and the journey has been more one of remembering than learning or discovering. Many people speak of this remembering, and it rings true for me, as each of my beliefs is something that resonates deeply within me whether I have had experiences that validate the belief (for me – not external validation), or not.

In this letter, I’ll briefly share what I believe. In a later letter, I may dive deeper into one or more of these topics. This is a varied list, and in no particular order:

  1. I believe that my path may or may not be like anyone else’s. We each have a right to take our own experiences and decide for ourselves what we believe. Even though I may not have the same beliefs as you do, I respect your right to believe as you do – if what you believe (and the actions those beliefs may fuel) does not harm anyone. It is not my right, nor anyone else’s, to impose their beliefs on someone else. Period.
  2. I believe that we are each divine. We each have a soul that is eternal, and that soul is divine.
  3. I believe in reincarnation. We come here (or somewhere else other than Earth) many times. The purpose of these lives is to learn. I believe that prior to each life we choose what it is we want to experience and to learn in that lifetime. Though we always have free will, opportunities will present themselves throughout our lives to facilitate what we have come here to learn.
  4. I believe we are all connected. Each of our divine souls are part of a divine whole. We are separate yet all one at the same time. It’s like each soul is a drop of water in the ocean. When in the ocean, the drop is indistinguishable from the ocean itself. Yet the drop continues to exist, as its own thing.
  5. I believe an internal shift in me affects the whole. Because we are all connected, if something shifts in me, then something shifts for every soul.
  6. I believe in surrender. Surrender is having faith that what shows up in my life is there for my benefit and accepting it rather than fighting it. It’s not about being passive, but rather going with the flow rather than trying to swim upstream. I accept that I don’t know the big picture, but trust that whatever is in my life is ultimately for my learning and growth.
  7. I believe in the power of intention. My thoughts create my reality, and I can direct those thoughts to create a better reality, or I can choose to be a victim by not accepting responsibility for my life.
  8. I believe that peace, both internal and in the world, is a product of surrender.
  9. I believe in taking inspired action.
  10. I believe that everything happens for a reason.
  11. I believe that love is the core of our divine souls. There is no such thing as evil. People take actions that are not loving for several reasons. One may be that it is their role in this life, in order to facilitate the growth of others. Another common reason is that they are in tremendous pain and don’t know that surrender is the only path through that pain, so they lash out.
  12. I believe that as humans, we each have an ego. This is part of the human experience and is not part of our divine soul. The ego is necessary for the human experience, and facilitates our learning and growth as we work to transcend it.
  13. I believe in intuition and psychic abilities. Through accessing my higher self – the divine soul – I can have access to information that is not learned through traditional methods.
  14. I believe it is possible to communicate with souls who are not currently in a body. We all have this ability, but most of us have not developed it.
  15. I believe that dreams contain information and messages, either from my higher self, or from the collective we are each part of.
  16. I believe the material world, including our human bodies, is made of energy. We can shift our experience by shifting energy in our bodies and around us through energy medicine like acupuncture and EFT, or simply through intention.
  17. I believe in astral travel.
  18. I believe that we reincarnate in soul groups, and have had many lifetimes, in different roles, with the primary people in our lives.
  19. I believe in synchronicity.
  20. I believe in the validity of many metaphysical tools such as astrology, numerology and handprint analysis.
  21. I believe that, ultimately, we each are on a journey of enlightenment that takes place over many, many lifetimes. We each have the same goal in the end, to reach the place of unconditional love and peace.

I realize this list is a bit of a hodge-podge, but I hope it gives you a bit of a view into who I am and how I approach being in the world.

Letter 1: Losing a Baby

This post is written in the format of a letter to my son.

I think you may know that two years before you were born I lost a baby. That was the most devastating loss I have ever experienced. Even though I only knew about his existence for three days, I already loved him dearly and when the pregnancy had to be terminated because it was not viable my heart was broken.

I can’t even think of the words to describe how I felt. Devastated is the only word that keeps coming to me. Even now, more than 20 years later, I sometimes cry when I think of losing him.

I had seen his heartbeat on the ultrasound. He was real, as real as any baby that has already been born. He was a part of me, literally. And it felt exactly like I had lost a part of myself.

People tell you that you can try again, but that is no comfort at all. Any other baby will not be the baby I lost. As much as I love you – and I do love you more than you can probably imagine – you are not the baby I lost. I love him, too, and I grieve for him.

Intellectually, I understand the physical reality of why the pregnancy could not continue. It was an ectopic pregnancy, in the fallopian tube rather than the uterus, and not only is that unviable for the baby, but also put my life at risk.

And, none of that matters to me. I can remember being in the doctor’s office after finding out the news. I called your dad and just fell apart. I lost it. I couldn’t understand how when they can implant a fetus from a test tube in a uterus, why they couldn’t move my baby from the fallopian tube to the uterus.

Again, intellectually I get that it’s not possible. But when you’re facing losing someone you love so very, very much, you search for every imaginable way to avert that loss.

It all happened so quickly. I’m not sure if that was a blessing or a curse. I like to think it was a blessing. If I had gotten used to the idea of being pregnant and having this baby growing inside me over a period of time and then lost him, I don’t know how I could have withstood it.

I can’t even imagine how people who have a baby that is stillborn or dies shortly after birth can stand it. It’s inconceivable. But they do. I’m sure I would, too, but I can’t imagine surviving a greater pain than the one I felt. I hope that can help you understand how incredibly devastated I was.

And now for the silver lining in all of this. Without this experience, you may never have been born. This pregnancy was not planned. Your dad and I had been going back and forth about having a child and were in a phase of thinking we didn’t want to have a child when I got pregnant.

Having been pregnant with this baby I lost got me off the fence. There was absolutely no doubt in my mind from that point forward that I wanted to have a child. And I am grateful for coming to that understanding about myself.

I believe this pregnancy was divine intervention – a message from the Universe. I came to believe that there was purpose in this loss. And believing in that purpose has helped mitigate the grief.

I still sometimes think about the baby I lost, and sometimes I still feel the grief. But in addition, there is a huge amount of gratitude for the message he brought to me. I wanted to have a child. No doubt, no waffling, no question.

And so you came into my life.

Letters to My Son

A little over three years ago my teenage son and I had a blow-up. It wasn’t even about anything very important, but it was the culmination of a lot of anger on both our parts that had built up over several years. He was living with his father and visiting me at the time we had the fight. I told him to leave, which he did gladly, and I have not heard from him since.

At the time, I had no way of knowing that fight would turn into the estrangement that it has. Over the years I have made multiple attempts to start down the path of reconciliation, but have not received any response from him.

Today I had an a-ha that brought together and integrated different realizations that I have had over the time we have been apart.

In thinking about the fact that I haven’t missed him very much during this time, I realized that was because the relationship that we had was superficial. I long to have a close relationship with him, yet as he was growing up I was unable to be authentic and vulnerable with him. That authenticity and vulnerability is the very basis for an intimate relationship. Not surprisingly, he was not authentic and vulnerable with me, either.

So, I haven’t missed him because there was nothing much there to miss. And, I’d like that to be different.

Of course, I realize that there are two people in a relationship, and I can only do my part. But I also realize that if I’m not willing to go first and put myself out there, he probably never will. And, even if we never reconcile, even if I never hear from him again, I want him to know me. I want him to know who I am on the inside, which I have hidden from him most of his life.

To that end, I decided that I would start sending him stories from my life. I’m removing the mask of perfection and detachment from being emotional that I’ve worn with him.

I’ll let him see times I was hurting or scared. I’ll let him see times I did something I regret. I’ll let him see times things didn’t turn out the way I wanted.

And, I’ll also let him see the joy and love that has been in my life.

I will be sharing these stories on this blog as well because its purpose when I began it nearly five years ago was for me to show up authentically. There may be stories related to my son that I choose not to share because it would violate his privacy. But beyond that, my intention is to be an open book.

I remember when I first began blogging how terrified I was to be seen. The feedback I received here was a huge support in me being able to continue being more authentic and more vulnerable.

Today I find it almost amusing how scared I was to “expose myself” in the beginning. Today I am mostly comfortable letting people see me with all my foibles and imperfections, yet there are still times I hold back from being fully seen. Here is my opportunity to change that.

Thank you again for your continuing support!

I’m Always Amazed at How Everything (and Everyone) is Connected

I continue to be amazed at how connected everything (and everyone) in my life is. There is no doubt in my mind that we are all connected and that everything that happens in my life is related.

The past several weeks I’ve been feeling a lot of doubt and confusion about my career direction. It has been really difficult for me, because I’m usually quite decisive and action oriented. Although I have just spent a year not doing much externally because I was going through a lot of learning and growth and change.

But in November I had my a-ha about the direction for my business and I was really excited about it. Then I wasn’t. Over the past few weeks I’ve really questioned my direction and what I should be doing with my life. For several years I have had the strong sense that I have a mission, a specific life purpose, and I have been incredibly dedicated to fulfilling that.

Now I was having the “run away and hide” thoughts that I used to have in my previous career. I was seriously considering, and beginning to pursue getting a “real job.” But it didn’t feel right. Each step I took in that direction I was confronted with something that made me recoil. I knew that was not what I wanted to do.

And yet, I was feeling tremendous doubt about my path forward on my mission. It felt like there was a big step up to the next level and I just wasn’t up to it.

Then yesterday I had a session with my BodyTalk practitioner, Pavitra. She does some other modalities, too, like Pysch-K and Access Consciousness. I told her about my doubt and confusion, and that was what I wanted to focus on. In addition, there has been some pretty traumatic stuff going on with my teenage son (who lives with his dad), but I felt that was kind of in a holding pattern and was not where I wanted to focus.

Pavitra began the BodyTalk process, which consists of her asking silent questions of my body and using muscle testing for the responses. There is a whole protocol that leads her to subconscious beliefs I hold that are creating the issues.

Anyway, the short version of the story is that this self-doubt and confusion I had was not mine. It belongs to my son, and I have been holding it for him. This made a whole lot of sense to me. I had become aware last year that throughout his life I have felt the difficult emotions for my son (as well as a couple of other men in my life, including my father).

I have been doing some work over the past several months to release those emotions that are not mine and send them back to their rightful owner. So when Pavitra said this doubt and confusion was not mine, it really clicked for me. Given the difficulties my son has been going through recently I could completely understand that he is feeling a lot of self-doubt and confusion about his life and his next steps.

Even though I did not consciously take on those feelings for him, I think it has been such a habit for me that it just happened naturally. I have been doing some work with an energy healer, Wendy, to help me separate myself from him energetically, but I guess old habits die hard.

The positive of all of this, is that because we are connected, doing my own work and healing myself helps to heal him, too.

So even though I was very specific at the beginning of the session that I didn’t want to focus on the situation with my son, here it popped up anyway – AND it was related to the issue I did want to work on, that feeling of doubt and confusion.

Amazing!

How Laura Got Her Groove Back (It’s Not What You Think)

Over the past few weeks, maybe even the past month, I have had times of feeling very anxious. In the past I frequently had boughts of anxiety, but over the past year or so that has become rare.

I felt anxiety about some specific things, in particular two decisions I had made about the direction in which I wanted to take my business. One decision was to start an Internet TV show on the Real Coaching Network platform. The other was to completely rebrand my business and have a new website built.

Both of these required somewhat large outlays of money, so I told myself that I was anxious about spending the money. Both of these decisions were made about four or five weeks ago.

As I moved forward with each of these projects, I encountered bumps in the road and sometimes roadblocks. I would have moments where I would wake up first thing in the morning overcome with anxiety which was usually related to one of these projects.

I did what I felt I could do to relieve the anxiety. Sometimes this took the form of asking a question of the provider of the service. Other times it was “talking myself down.” The anxiety continued to occur, so nothing I was doing was getting at the root of the problem.

In each case I agonized over whether I had made the right decision. I was never sure. I was full of self-doubt. I kept asking my higher self for guidance, but never seemed to receive it.

I had avoided asking for deliverable dates and sharing some of my concerns with the owner of Real Coaching Network because I was afraid of his reaction. I had several interactions with him fairly early on where he became defensive and blaming when I questioned his process or didn’t want to do something the way he wanted it done.

In one case this was about security. He wanted my login information, including passwords for all my social media accounts, and he wanted me to put them in his online project management tool. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t tend to be overly worried about Internet security, but I do know enough not to put my passwords in writing, even on a supposedly secure site! I wasn’t keen on giving them to him at all, and I outright refused to put them somewhere online.

His reaction was to argue with me, to tell me why I had to do it that way, to tell me that no one else he worked with had a problem (are they stupid?), and to tell me that at some point I had to trust someone.

Well, let’s see. I’ve known you for about two weeks, and you are the person I am supposed to trust with all my passwords? Um, no. Anyway, that is just one example of the types of interactions I had with this person that led to me being reluctant to raise issues with him.

Separate from his belligerent attitude, I realized I wasn’t receiving many of the services from him that he was supposed to provide. I was paying a monthly fee for these services and the next month’s payment was coming up in a few days.

I sent him an email with a list of all the services I was supposed to receive and asking for a status on each of them. I also listed things that had been done incorrectly (professionalism is not his strong suit) that needed to be corrected, and asked for a response. I then waited anxiously for the eruption that I was sure I had set off.

I received a response from him a day and a half later. I was getting ready to go out of town for the weekend, and I was fearful that reading his response would lead to more anxiety, and that I would not be in a place where I could respond to him since I was going to be out of town. So I sent him a note that I would respond when I returned.

The morning of my first day back I awoke with tons of anxiety. I tried to go about my morning routine, but finally decided I had to see how he had responded. My expectation was that he would attack and blame me somehow.

I opened up the document and saw that yes, he did blame me for much of what was undone, but that he hadn’t really attacked me.  Whew.  But…aside from the tweaks to fix things he had done incorrectly, he hadn’t done any of the other things that were due, nor told me when they would be complete.

I realize this has become a very long story. To cut to the chase, I stood up to him. I canceled my subscription and asked him to refund the payment that had been made a few days earlier. I did all of this nicely and respectfully, saying that it was not a good fit for me.

He first responded by trying to cajole me, offering to have a phone call that he would come to with an “open heart.” When I said it was too late for that, then the hammer came down. “No refunds. What a bad person you are, Laura, you don’t walk your talk.”

I stood my ground. I contacted an attorney. I called Visa to dispute the charge.

And all the while I was spinning on the idea that I was wrong, I was to blame, I was bad. I realized that this man reminded me of my ex-husband, and that was why I had all the anxiety about interacting with him. His patterns of interacting with me matched my ex-husband’s. And even being aware of this I couldn’t get out of the place of self-blame.

The rest of the day was a very uncomfortable, upsetting one for me. There were moments of crying uncontrollably. Mostly I just felt sick to my stomach. I could see how I was stuck in my head, and stuck in this place of taking responsibility for something that was not my fault, but I couldn’t stop.

That evening I went to Kundalini yoga. If you’ve never tried it, please do! The last thirty minutes is a gonging session where we lay on the floor with pillow and blanket and just feel the vibrations of the gong.  These vibrations release stuck emotions and energy. At the very end of the session I heard a voice inside say, “You have every right to be angry.”

I finished the session feeling significantly better than when I had started. When I woke up the next morning I felt calm and peaceful, and spent most of the day in that state. I realized that this situation had been testing my resolve to be authentic, and to speak my truth regardless of my fears.

The following day as I woke up I saw that the feeling of being cut off from the guidance of my higher self was because I wasn’t paying attention to the guidance I was receiving. All the anxiety I had felt was guidance. Because I was afraid to confront the situation, the anxiety grew and grew, trying to tell me to pay attention.

I realized that I also needed to deal with my concerns about my website project. I sent an email off to the project manager asking to halt the project while I re-evaluated. I felt calm and at peace.

Soon after sending this email, I went for my regular morning walk.  As I approached the road that runs along a bluff above Puget Sound, I saw a single bird flying towards me. As I looked up at this bird I saw it was blue heron.

A sign of self determination, following my path, speaking my truth. I knew I was back on track. My intuition had been there all the time, waiting for me to pay attention, and now I had.

And that’s how Laura got her groove back.

What’s In a Name? A Lot

I’ve decided to legally change my name. I’m going to drop my married name and go back to using my maiden name. This doesn’t sound like such a big deal, but for me there are emotions and history associated with this name change that makes it feel like a triumph for me.

My name has been an issue ever since I got engaged back in 1992, and the discussion about what our married names would be began. It was a little more complicated than simply would I take his name, or I would keep my name.

The first complication was that this was his second marriage, and when he got married the first time they combined their names into a new name. Somehow my ex-husband could not understand that I would not want my married name to contain the maiden name of his first wife. This seemed pretty reasonable to me, but he just didn’t get it.

He had emotional reasons, tied to his family of origin, that he did not want to go back to using his original last name, so he suggested that we choose a name we liked that would be just ours. This didn’t work for me, because part of the meaning of name for me is the family history.

I was already struggling with if I wanted to give up my maiden name (Longley) and essentially say I was no longer part of that clan. To give it up in favor of name that had no connection to anyone else, was just not possible for me.

Eventually my then-fiancé decided that he would be okay with going back to his original last name (Allan), and I agreed that I would change my name to Allan. Until…

As we got closer to the wedding date, I just didn’t want to give up Longley. It felt like I was giving up my identity, and it felt like I was losing my connection to my family of origin. I felt that I would be consumed by the marriage relationship, and that I would cease to exist as an individual.

These feelings and fears ultimately proved to be prophetic. But that comes later in the story.

My fiancé was not okay with us having different last names. It was non-negotiable to him: we must have the same last name. Although the simple solution would have been for him to take my name (Longley) – that solved the issue of giving up my maiden name, as well as us having the same last name – that was not an option to him.

We started counseling to try to figure out what we were going to call ourselves once we were married. In hindsight twenty years later, this was probably a very good clue that we would have some issues in our marriage!

In fact, the core issue in our marriage was his need for us to merge, and my need to maintain a separate identity. This is not an issue that can be resolved through compromise, and it’s not surprising that he’s now my ex-husband.

Ultimately we agreed that he would change his last name back to Allan, and that I would add Allan as a fourth name, keeping my original middle name, as well as Longley. My ex-husband was never fully okay with this solution, but it was a middle ground.

He did not want me to hyphenate my name, so at work I used the last name Longley Allan (with a space between the names) and in other settings I used Longley as a second middle name.

Longley Allan was a difficult last name. Computer systems don’t deal well with a space in the name, and I was forever being called Allan (first name) Longley (last name). When my son was born in 1996 I decided to just use Allan as my last name in all settings.

I was okay with making the change to Allan at that time because the meaning was there for me: I had the same last name as my son. We were a family.

When I divorced, I kept Allan for the same reason; it was my son’s name. I greatly regret not insisting that my son’s middle name be Longley, or even that he have two middle names, one of which was Longley. But his father and I had so many fights over our own names that I just didn’t have it in me to have another one about my son’s name.

So, why am I changing my name now? I still have a son. He still has the last name of Allan. I think the answer is that I have wanted to be a Longley for the entire time I have been an Allan, and my son is at an age where it makes sense.

My son is sixteen and we are going through the separation phase. Last year he decided he wanted to go and live with his dad, so we have physically been separated to a degree (I still see him on weekends).  It feels like whatever bond we have needs to be based on more than a shared name if it is to survive. For me, changing my name now symbolizes that I am letting him go, allowing him to grow up and be whoever he may be.

I did ask my son if he cared if I changed my name, and he said he didn’t. He has plans to change his own name (to something pretty outrageous) once he is eighteen, and said it would be hypocritical for him to tell me not to change my name. I smiled, as somehow I don’t think his name change will ever actually take place.

I do feel a little sad that my son and I will no longer have a name in common, especially as that held meaning for me. But as I’m coming more fully into my authenticity and my identity, choosing the name that feels like me is important.

Finally, now is the time to make this change because I am ready to let go of the power my ex-husband has had. Changing my name is entirely symbolic, but it just feels like as I become a Longley again I am truly shedding the last vestiges of that marriage.

I never was Laura Allan, I always have been Laura Longley.

Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful

I was reminded today of an old TV commercial, I think it was for shampoo, where the model displays her luxurious hair and says, “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.” She then goes on to tell you how you can be beautiful, too, by buying whatever the product was.

This afternoon I received an email that was a response to a newsletter I emailed out yesterday. The sender was a potential client who had scheduled a session, but then had not followed through with actually meeting with me.

His email said, in part: “Great! You should find a new profession, build something for yourself rather than living off of others’ wealth.”  Huh? I was shocked! Where did that come from? He hadn’t even met me, hadn’t even spoken to me by phone, yet here he is attacking me for my profession as a counselor and coach.

I immediately went into defense mode in my head. I started by picking apart what he had said. It didn’t make any sense, because every profession lives off of others’ wealth. That’s how we make a living. We, in turn, buy products and services from others, and round and round it goes. This guy was obviously an idiot!

Then I started defending what it is that I do (again, only in my head). I know quite well that my clients get value from what I provide. I have numerous testimonials to support this belief, plus I have a number of clients who have come to me multiple times. They wouldn’t do that if I didn’t provide a valuable service. And…he came to me to engage my services! Why would he do that if he thought my profession was a joke (as he alluded to in another part of his email)?

Next, I thought about the content of the newsletter to which he was reacting. In it I announced new services and ventures I had in the works. I immediately got scared that I was getting too big for my britches and this newsletter was “bragging.” When I realized that I was actually starting to believe I might be getting too big and bragging, it drew me up short and my racing thoughts came to an abrupt halt. I have worked too hard at overcoming keeping myself small to revert back based on this email.

I suddenly realized that I was on the other side of my issue of not being able to express appreciation for others’ accomplishments. I have been struggling with giving kudos to others who have accomplished something I want for myself. I feel envious and resentful, rather than happy for them.

I recently realized that I felt this way for several reasons, (see post: https://blueheronwisdom.wordpress.com/2012/05/22/why-do-i-resist-showing-appreciation-to-others/ ), but primarily because I felt like if they were winning, I was losing. I’m in the midst of a 30 day campaign to express appreciation to everyone I meet every day, to overcome this false belief.

I realized that this man felt like he was not good enough, or less than, and my email newsletter about my grand vision for my practice gave him an opportunity to place the focus, and the blame and resentment, outside himself and squarely on me.

This is what I have been doing when I have felt resentful of someone else’s success. Having the shoe on the other foot has helped reinforce for me that whatever anyone else achieves means nothing about what I am capable of achieving. Wishing others well and celebrating their successes does not diminish me.

Prior to this negative email, I received several very positive and supportive emails about my new endeavors. These are the people I want to model myself after. I don’t want to be bitter, resentful and blaming of others for not creating the life – and career – that I want.

I am grateful to this man for holding that mirror up so I could see what it looks like from the other side.  It is bewildering, and makes no sense. Having been on the receiving end, I can see even more clearly that my resentment for others’ who may have already achieved what I desire makes no sense, either.

I won’t hate you because you’re beautiful, because I am beautiful, too! I will celebrate your beauty, because it inspires me to unwrap and share my own beauty.

Why Do I Resist Showing Appreciation to Others?

I have been aware for quite some time that I have difficulty expressing appreciation for others unless what they have done is significantly above and beyond. On surveys I’m loathe to rate anyone (or anything) a 5 out of 5, even when there’s nothing that could be improved. I hate standing ovations. Very occasionally I feel one is deserved, but usually when others stand at the end of a performance, the voice in my head says, “That was fine, okay, even good – but it wasn’t outstanding.”

Why do I feel I have to ration my accolades? What is the threat I associate with showing appreciation for others?  Why do I always come down on the side of “they don’t deserve it,” or “they haven’t earned it?” What do I have to lose by showing appreciation for the most minimal or ordinary of acts? Why can I only praise the extraordinary? If something has made my life better by even an iota, why not say so?

These are questions I’ve been asking myself a lot recently. Last week I received feedback from several people that this is an area of growth for me, and I know it is true. It hurts to hear that I am not appreciative of others. This is not how I want to be perceived, nor the person I want to be. And yet I resist. There must be a reason.

Why do I feel I have to ration my accolades?

First of all, is this how I feel? Yes. So I must believe there is a limited supply of appreciation to go around and I don’t want to waste it on someone, or something, that is undeserving. But is it true that if I express appreciation, and then find someone even more deserving, that I will have used up my limited supply? Of course not!

This is an attitude of scarcity, not abundance. I want to embrace abundance in all areas of my life, so this is a good place to start. It doesn’t cost me anything to tell someone that I appreciate their work, their kindness, or their gifts. It takes awareness, which I can cultivate.

What is the threat I associate with showing appreciation for others?

Okay, now we’re getting a little deeper. Yes, it does feel threatening to acknowledge the brilliance of someone else. Part of this is again about an attitude of lack, or scarcity: there’s not enough brilliance to go around. If I acknowledge their gifts, then it reduces the possibility of me having gifts as wonderful as theirs, since there is only a limited amount of brilliance (according to this perspective). This is nonsense!

At a deeper level, the threat is about not being good enough. If I appreciate someone and they don’t appreciate me in return, then I feel “less than.” If I like you and you don’t like me back, there must be something wrong with me. So I’ll wait for you to like me first, then I’ll decide to like you.

When I am authentic, my value is not tied to whether you like or appreciate me. I know that I am a valuable soul and that not everyone will like me or appreciate my unique gifts – and that means nothing about me and my value.

On this same theme, if someone has gifts that are similar to mine, I am constantly comparing myself to them. If I praise them, then it feels as if I have put myself a level below. Intellectually I understand that appreciating someone else says nothing about me, other than I am good at appreciating others! Inside it feels like win-lose. If I acknowledge your gifts, then I am saying I have none myself, or that mine are less than yours. Again, this is a load of you-know-what!

When I feel begrudging of extending praise, I can remember that praise is free, and limitless. I can also center myself in the knowledge that my value has nothing to do with you. Whether you are a shining star or a dim little light bulb has absolutely no effect on my unique talents and gifts.

Yes! That’s it! What you do or don’t do has nothing to do with me. I can show appreciation for you, your talents and your accomplishments and it doesn’t change a thing about who I am. Other than now I am a more caring and loving person by giving you kudos.

Now that’s a win-win perspective: being appreciated feels good and expressing appreciation feels good. We both get to feel good!

Why do I always come down on the side of “they don’t deserve it,” or “they haven’t earned it?”

This attitude of deserving or earning praise stems from my earliest childhood. I was raised with the belief that you had to earn everything, including and especially love. Earning appreciation is an extension of this belief. I’ve run up against this belief when learning to be happier, as well.

My belief these days is that everyone is deserving of love, happiness and also appreciation for who they are and what they bring to the world. This belief about earning or deserving anything is an old one, and I no longer want it in my life. Now that I’m conscious of how it affects my willingness to appreciate others, I can choose to tell that little voice in my head that it’s wrong.

What do I have to lose by showing appreciation for the most minimal or ordinary of acts? Why can I only praise the extraordinary?

This is, again, about the belief that you must earn my appreciation and also, that by praising you, I place myself below you in value. Asked and answered.

If something has made my life better by even an iota, why not say so?

Now that I have become aware of the reasons behind my resistance to showing appreciation, I can consciously look for opportunities to praise even the everyday or ordinary. If something has made my life better by even an iota, I can say so