Tag Archives: women

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.

Who Am I When I’m Part of a Group?

I recently attended a weekend goddess retreat with about 35 other women.  I was really excited to go to this retreat because I have been struggling to find or create a group of like-minded women where I could develop some strong relationships. This was an ideal opportunity to meet some other women who are similar to me, and perhaps some new friendships would come of the weekend.

Just before I left home for the retreat on Friday afternoon I got some news that led to me feeling anxious. All the way to the retreat center, which was about an hour away, I was obsessing about this situation that I had allowed myself to become upset over. This is not the way I had wanted to arrive at the retreat.

I arrived about 20 minutes before the retreat was scheduled to officially begin, and there were several other women there already. Aside from one of the leaders who was registering people, I didn’t yet know anyone else. I knew a few of the people in the overall group very slightly, and didn’t know anyone well.  I tend to be rather shy when in a group of people that I don’t know, and my anxiety increased as I entered this environment.

The retreat began by each of us placing an item on the altar and explaining its significance to us, then having dinner together.  After dinner we did an exercise of setting an intention for the weekend. During this exercise we broke into small groups of 5 or 6 people.  I was designated as my small group’s leader because I was doing a presentation later in the weekend.

When it was time to reassemble in the larger group I got up from the table where we were sitting and crossed the room to my place in the larger group.  As I walked across the room I noticed that the rest of my small group was still sitting at the table talking with each other.  I felt a stab to my heart as I felt left out and excluded.  I returned to join my small group, but felt an outsider. This was a very familiar feeling for me, going all the way back to childhood.

I had been trying to fulfill my designated leader role by following the rules and rejoining the large group when we were told to. I was being the good girl and doing what I was supposed to do. By doing so I alienated myself from the smaller group.

As the evening progressed and we did another exercise that was less structured I felt more and more isolated.  Although I was sitting with other women working on a collage, I did not feel part of them.  When we gathered again in the large group to share our collages I began to feel another familiar feeling.  I didn’t want to be there. I wanted to run away.  Just leave.

On Saturday morning I woke up with a sore neck and a dull headache. I get migraines on occasion and this is how they usually start. I began fantasizing about getting a migraine and having an excuse to leave the retreat. How quickly I had gone from the dream of this retreat as a way to become part of a community of women to dreaming about once again isolating myself because I was feeling uncomfortable.

During the morning we did Kundalini yoga. I had never done it before, but my understanding is that it accesses and processes emotions.  After about an hour the leader asked if any of us wanted to share anything. Several people shared and I was feeling like I wanted to talk about how the previous evening I felt like running away, but I ended up not saying anything.

As we went into the next round of yoga I was beating myself up about not saying what was true for me. My intention when I decided to attend the retreat was to show up as myself and allow whatever happened to happen.  Not speaking what I was experiencing was not showing up. In fact, I noticed that I had even physically put myself in a place where a number of the other women could not see me during yoga.

I realized that what I was struggling with was that I did not know how to be part of a group when I was not the leader. I felt uncomfortable when I was not in charge and I didn’t know what my role was.

Ah…my role. I guess what this says is I didn’t know how to be me in a group; I only knew how to be a role. When I was the designated leader it was clear how to interact with the group. When I was only me, I struggled.

The roots of this go very deep for me. When I was growing up it was very important to follow the rules. It was important to do things the right way. These were messages I received from an extremely early age. My mother once told me that when I was two years old a friend of hers told her she was being too hard on me and making me a nervous wreck. Two years old. Very deep roots.

As much as I have become attuned recently to being myself authentically and speaking my truth, it has frequently been in a leadership role: as a counselor and coach, as a teacher and speaker. I see now that my real practice is in being myself in a group where there are no defined roles, there are no rules about who I’m supposed to be, there is no right way to show up. Where the only right way is to be me.