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Wisdom from Dr. Sharon

I came across a Facebook post by Brene Brown a few weeks back. She was talking about her recent conversation with Sarah Niles who plays Dr. Sharon Fieldstone on Ted Lasso. (If you’re not a Ted Lasso devotee, I promise, all of this will still make sense.)

These were the words in the meme that accompanied the post:

All I try to do is just root my feet and feel like I have a right to be here. I deserve to be loved. I deserve to be seen. I am seen. I am loved. ~ Sarah Niles

Honestly. I could just stop here, yes?

And, I have more I want to say…

Root your feet and feel like you have a right to be here.
We live in a world that often (and still) tells us we do not have that right. The evidence is legion. Still, still, women are not allowed to make choices for themselves (in some states more than others). Still, still, our voices are not heard. Still, still, our compensation does not equal that of our male counterparts. Still, still, domestic violence persists — and sexual trafficking — and sexual violence. And what is the antidote to this? SO much, of course; but the MOST healing, MOST transformative, MOST world-changing thing possible is YOU believing that you have a right to be here. Right here. Right now. So, root your feet. Stand still. Stand tall. Stand firm. And stay.

You deserve to be loved. You deserve to be seen.
No kidding. Despite your own stories — a lifetime of them — in which you’ve not been loved as you deserved, not been seen, not been heard, not been honored, this wisdom calls you to a deeper truth; one that surpasses, overcomes, and heals the lies.

You are seen. You are loved.
The thing I love about these two statements is that they eliminate all argument, all self-doubt, all question marks, all ambivalence, all wondering. They just are. They are true. And when you believe them, really believe them, then you live in ways that reflect their truth. Do that, yes?

A few ways you might experiment in the days to come:

  • Every morning this week, open up a blank document on your computer or page in your journal and write these words across the top of the page: Because I have the right to be here, that means…
  • In every conversation or interaction or meeting this week, tuck an index card or sticky note into your pocket — even the palm of your hand — that says, I deserve to be loved. I deserve to be seen. Then pay attention to, even track, how that shifts the way in which you show up, how you speak out, what you say “no” to, where you say “yes,” even the tilt of your chin and the squaring of your shoulders.
  • Each night this week, just before you fall asleep, repeat these words: I am seen. I am loved. What dreams may come? What gratitude might pour forth? What reflection might you see in your minds eye of just how amazing and wise and deserving you truly are?
  • Oh, and listen to the podcast: Brene Brown’s conversation with Sarah Niles herself.
  • Finally, again and again and again — repeat these words to yourself (maybe even to those you love):

All I try to do is just root my feet and feel like I have a right to be here. I deserve to be loved. I deserve to be seen. I am seen. I am loved.

Vast thanks, Dr. Sharon.

Why I Left My Corporate Job

My thoughts on fear, courage, and being an entrepreneur.

In January of 2018 I left my 10-year-old online business for a job as a trainer/facilitator with a Leadership Development company. Though it was a complicated decision — walking away from my website, blogging, subscribers, my online presence — I knew it was the right one.

I was right. I loved the work. I loved the content I got to teach. And I loved the people I worked with. Just a year later, I was promoted. Then, just over a year later, Covid descended. Then, months after that, there was an unexpected senior leadership change. Then, everything changed.

In the midst of such, and regrettably, I watched myself move into my highly-honed default behaviors of compromise and compliance. I kept my head down. I didn’t speak up. I pulled back. I did what was required — but with less heart, less presence, less “me.” Until…

I pulled back far enough to notice. I had to honestly acknowledge that I was behaving in ways that were completely antithetical to who I knew myself to be. And though I couldn’t have known where it would lead, I said to myself, “No more.”

And then, things got even harder (as is almost always the case when we choose our own integrity, authenticity, and alignment over compromise and compliance). And harder still. Eventually, through a “mutual separation agreement,” I left. September 17, 2020.

It is hard to make choices on our own behalf when they are costly, when there is so much at stake, when fear of the unknown looms.

I believe this is almost always the nature of it — at least as I look back on the most significant decisions and transitions in my life. I also believe that bearing those costs and facing those fears exponentially increased the reward, my sense of strength and capacity, my awareness of my own value and worth.

If you are sitting at a crossroads, where the laundry list of costs feels nearly overwhelming, where what’s at stake is pretty much everything, where the fear of the unknown feels dark and scary, here’s what I want you to know:

  • Consider that the complexity and cost is the very evidence you need to confirm just how important this choice is, just how capable and worthy you are to make it, just how much you and your desires matter.
  • If it were simple or benign, you would have already made the move, had the conversation, left the job, risked it all, started your own business, enforced the boundary.It’s NOT simple or benign. Which is WHY it is asking so much of you.
  • Know that your costs and fears are real. You get to acknowledge them instead of push them under the surface. Not once, but over and over again. Though this feels daunting, it is like Olympic training: building strength you didn’t know you had in order to face and surmount challenges you didn’t know you could.
  • Trust me when I tell you that you are no less worthy if you wait, if you hold off, if you can’t bear those costs right now. I understand. You are still more than enough.

*****

Now just over a year out from my seemingly-stable corporate position that offered me a steady paycheck and benefits and frequent flyer miles and an expense account — I feel the to-be-expected angst of being on my own.

Day-in, day-out I see the costs, what’s at stake, and all my fears lined up like toy soldiers in front of my computer monitor waiting to be addressed or ignored, tackled or given into.

Day in, day-out I remind myself of what I’m doing and why it matters.

And day in, day-out I recognize that in spite of it all, I am choosing me — over and over again. Most days, that is more than enough benefit to stay the course, trust myself, and persist. Easy? Not at all. Worthwhile? That IS the risk, the gamble, and the focus of my endless hope.

May it be so.

3 ways to be fear-defying in writing and life

When I look back over 17 years of blogging, here’s what stands out to me:

My voice has fluctuated, depending on the level of fear I’ve felt at any given time.

I’ll admit: “fear” sounds too strong, somehow, but when I boil it down, that IS what’s left.

What I wrote about when I was still married and still part of the church, is far different than what I said once outside both those structures (and strictures). I can see and remember how afraid I was to express my doubts, my questions, my grief, and the many places in which I was feeling more anger than hope. I was afraid I’d be misunderstood, that I’d go too far, that I’d be too much.

What I wrote about in my 40’s and 50’s was different than what I write today — now in my 60’s. And though I could go into all of the details and themes inherent here, suffice it to say, I was afraid I’d be misunderstood, that I’d go too far, that I’d be too much.

This looking back has “forced” me to track the circumstances and seasons in which I held back, hid even, because of fear — all of which was expressed (or not) in my writing. And as I’m inventorying every bit of this, I’m not only getting clearer about fear’s presence, but angrier. Not at myself, but at fear itself.

As women on this planet, we have been conditioned to be afraid, to be far more concerned with how others perceive and experience us, than to hold fast to (even fight on behalf of) who we know-that-we-know-that-we-know ourselves to be.

That needs to change.

In If Women Rose Rooted, Sharon Blackie says:

To become [one] who can express her wrath rather than her rage, and warn of the dire consequences of ignoring it, is to have stepped fully into your own power as a woman.

And in Untamed, Glennon Doyle says that women need to be “full of themselves.”

What we need right now is more women who have detoxed themselves so completely from the world’s expectations that they are full of nothing but themselves. What we need are women who are full of themselves.

A few chapters later she says this:

What the world needs is masses of women who are entirely out of control.

We must, you and me both, consider who we’d be and how we’d be, if fear weren’t present. Yes, in writing. In relationships. In our choices. In our work.

We must, you and me both, be crystal clear on (and done with) everything that has perpetuated its presence.

We must, you and me both, begin and continue to name our wrath over our rage.

We must, you and me both, step fully into our power as women. No more holding back. No more hiding. No more fear. Done.

*****

Here are three provocative questions to consider that serve as a helpful start and then some in this fear-defying, world-changing work:

  1. Who would you be right now (and what would you write) if you expressed your rage (at fear and all that perpetuates) it instead of ignoring it?
  2. Who would you be right now (and what would you write) if you didn’t pay any attention at all to anyone’s expectations of you?
  3. Who would you be right now (and what would you write) if you were entirely out of control (at least as far as the world is concerned)?

I won’t speak for you (though I’m guessing you feel the same): The answers to these three questions define how and what I want to write; more, how I want to live and who I want to be: unbound by fear, unmoved by others’ expectations, and completely unrestrained (even out of control).

May it be so.

How Courage is like Ballroom Dancing

My favorite movie of all time is Strictly Ballroom. It’s an Australian film from 1992. Quirky. Hilarious. Endearing. (For film buffs: it’s the first in the Red Curtain Trilogy from Baz Luhrmann that includes the Leonardo DiCaprio version of Romeo and Juliet and Moulin Rouge with Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor.)

The first time I watched it was in 2001 while I was in grad school. Someone had recommended it as metaphor for something. I’ve long-forgotten what it was. What I’ve not ever forogotten though, is the experience of watching the credits roll at the end, hitting “back” on the remote, and watching it all over again. I could not tear myself away.

Since then, I’ve probably watched it another 15–20 times. (Just ask my daughters…) It touches something deep within me — something that feels familiar and hungry and true.

Though it could be some latent desire to learn ballroom dancing, I’m pretty sure it’s courage.

I won’t spoil the story for you (in case you are now in complete suspense as to how I could possibly like a film enough to watch it this many times), but I will given you my primary takeaway:

There are times in which I must be willing to break all the rules and believe that winning is not what matters — only dancing my own steps; I have no other choice, really, than to trust my heart…and leap.

Or in this case, paso doble.

Whether on the ballroom floor or, more likely, in the warp and woof of our everyday life, we encounter profound risk. The choice is ours as to whether it will overwhelm us or whisk us straight onto the dance floor.

Risk is actually the evidence that courage is not only called for, but (already and always) ours.

Need a bit more on this?

  • What if, instead of feeling overwhelmed by the risks you’re so quickly calculating in your brain, you saw them as data and proof for the significance and import of your voice, your honesty, your action?
  • What if the presence of risk (and your understandable fear) is what clarifies exactly what you need to do?
  • What if you don’t need to deliberate more, list out the pros and cons yet again, or cross your fingers one more time in the hopes that everything will just resolve itself?
  • What if the things that feel scary and daunting and cause your heart to race are evidence that courage is within reach and within you; that you are ready?

I know. I know. I know.

It’s not quite that simple. In fact, it’s downright complicated most of the time. Which is yet another reason why I love Strictly Ballroom: in just under two hours I can feel into all the fear, all the risks AND all the triumph of courage trusted and displayed.

It’s  because it’s hard, because it’s risky, that courage is needed at all.

And so we lean into and rely on some inner source of gumption; we step, speak, stand, leave, declare, name, intervene, stop, go, and yes, dance.

Believe me, I’m not trying to diminish or negate just how significant the risks and costs can be when you choose yourself, when you demonstrate courage, when you are fully sovereign. I get it. I have more stories to tell than times I’ve watched this movie where I’ve NOT trusted the courage that is mine, I’ve chosen others over myself, and I’ve chosen “safety” over self-trust.

This is what makes me think that perhaps courage is a lot like ballroom dancing.

Yes, courage requires (and is emboldened by) the small, incremental steps that I wrote about last week. But it’s also what’s required in the big moments, the huge decisions, the life-changing next steps, the things you’ve know are yours to do but that you’ve been holding back…

Listen to your heart.
Listen to and trust your wisdom.
Remember that agency is yours.
And then step onto that dance floor — even when the music stops and all hell breaks loose and it seems like it’s over (even though it’s not).

You and your courage are beautiful and glorious. We are riveted by you. Because this IS you — in all your glory.

Dance…please?

About Courage & American Ninja Warrior

I do not know how to explain why I love American Ninja Warrior.

My youngest daughter and I started watching it a few years back. We sat on the couch, side-by-side, mouths agape at what these individuals were able to do. Willing to do! She would laugh at me as my body would move in rhythm to theirs — whether they were swinging on some kind of contraption or trying to jump up to catch a ring, or trying to make it up the 14-foot warped wall — as though I could somehow will them success by fully participating in the comfort of my own home. The two of us would ooh and aah and cheer as they did amazing things, took spectacular falls, and always, always triumphed — no matter what. And we both cried through all the stories about the athletes, their families, hardships, tragedies, and miracles.

So why does this impact me so? Why do I cry? What is that about? It’s American Ninja Warrior!! I’m sure there are lots of reasons for my reactions and responses. But bottom line…It is a privilege to witness the inherent beauty of courage. I cannot help but be moved.

The beauty seen in their stories, their physical capacity, their falls, and their triumphs only comes because of the most incremental of efforts they’ve extended over a very long time. What we witness is the accumulation of small, almost imperceptible courageous acts.

We often think that courage has to be big and dramatic, bold and audacious, crowds cheering, loved ones weeping with joy, “victory,” of some sort. And though that may be true, I have a different idea.

Courage is small and incremental, slow and steady (sometimes fits and starts); the tiniest of choices made, actions taken, words spoken, behaviors altered, and/or lives changed.

This perspective matters.

As long as we see courage as big and dramatic, bold and audacious, we are often stopped before we start.

Instead, what about this:

  • Courage is extending yourself some compassion, practicing self-kindness, and allowing yourself grace.
  • Courage is only one sentence, once a day, spoken in truth. (Yes, just one!)
  • Courage is voicing your opinion just once this week at work. (Yes, just once!)
  • Courage is taking the time to list out the specific steps related to the big leap (Yes, just the list!)
  • Courage is reading a book for even 30 minutes before turning on Netflix. It’s also watching Netflix without guilt or shame because you know that rest matters.
  • Courage is letting yourself honestly name your emotions to yourself. (I am furious. I am devastated. I am afraid. I am in grief. I am lost. I am stuck. I desire. I am actually happy.)
  • Courage is taking the time to write down what you would do if you felt even more courageous.

Cleary, I can go on (and on and on). But far more important than my words and thoughts — are yours. What are the smallest and most compassionate and kindest and most grace-filled acts of courage for you? (Start a list, add to this one, give yourself permission to consider courage as small; but no less significant, powerful, or transformative.)

This quote from Mary Anne Radmacher bears repeating:

Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying “I will try again tomorrow.”

Exactly!

Remember Who You Are

I talk about sovereignty all the time. It’s a program I offer. But more than all else, it’s a reality, a truth, that I see and understand as *just* a given.

Let me explain.

I believe that you — fully yourself, fully authentic, fully honest, fully aligned, fully in your integrity, fully present (I could go on) — already ARE sovereign.

I believe that sovereignty is inherent, implied, implicit, irrefutable, intact within you. It IS you.

And this means that

there is nothing you need to strive toward, do more of, fix, solve, remedy, purge, add, or somehow overcome in order to be sovereign.

Did I mention? You already are.

So, the “work” of being sovereign is about remembering that this is true, that this is who you are — bottom line, underneath it all.

  • Underneath all the messaging you’ve absorbed (and even believed) from culture and family and religion and patriarchy.
  • Underneath all the chatter in your own mind — about how you are not enough or, more often, too much.
  • Underneath all of the fears and risks and costs and consequences that you are relatively certain will ensue IF you are fully sovereign, fully yourself.
  • Underneath all the ways in which other people perceive you (whether that’s in alignment with what you know/believe/feel, or not).
  • Underneath all the roles and titles and responsibilities.

Ahhhh. There you are! You: completely yourself, all of you, sovereign — already and always. Remember?

Rarely do we stay in this place, this state, this awareness in a 24/7 sort-of way. I have to remember — over and over again. And when I do, I can see that it shows up for me in glimpses and glimmers:

  • When I’ve taken the leap and expressed my true feelings in a relationship (instead of the ones I thought the other person could handle).
  • When I’ve expressed my (unpopular, but no less true) opinion at work.
  • When I’ve stepped onto a stage and somehow, miraculously, overcome my insecurities and fears — even for those minutes.
  • When I’ve watched a Netflix series, start to finish, with one of my daughters — looking over at her and feeling so profoundly grateful that she is who she is and that I get to be me, fully me, in her presence.
  • When I’m talking with a friend who has enough history with me that she notices and names what she sees in me, when she calls me to more, when she reflects back what she knows to be true. (And when I can do the same.)
  • When I am writing — especially in those blessed moments when I am unimpeded by my inner critic or Resistance — putting every bit of my head and heart on the page.
  • When I am in conversation with a client, listening deeply to their heart and simultaneously hearing the know-that-I-know-that-I-know voice within me; being clear in that moment about what is mine to say, what grace is mine to extend, what wisdom is mine to offer.
  • I could go on.

All of these are moments. But, when added together, they create markers along the way, plumb lines of sovereignty’s presence, me — at my core — being all of who I am.

Ahhhh. Right. Now I remember.

And this is what I’m inviting you to, as well. Remember who you are when you are most yourself, underneath it all, and yes, worth stating again, sovereign — inherent, implied, implicit, irrefutable, intact, through and through. 

This is what we look at together, talk about together, and remember together in SOVEREIGNTY — my live, 9-week program. An open invitation into all of who you, you as completely yourself; calling you into, up to, forward to your fullest self: all of your wisdom, all of your agency, all of your courage, and endless, endless hope. It’s beautiful. You are. Remember?

Join me.

Registration closes on Monday, 9/6/21. We begin together on 9/9/21. All the details are here (including a payment plan, if helpful).

You ARE sovereign — already and always. I’m right about this. Let’s remember our way back, together.

May it be so.