The irony of realizing that I have not posted one blog since pouring my silent retreat experience into words. Silenced for three months? Or a life that has been so noisy there is no room for thought? Or pure avoidance of sitting in one more thought in silence? Whatever it is, here I sit, not quite on the other side or any side at all but overseeing. Having the power to sit objective in your own life is rare and I am not even sure obtainable but through the lens of others and a mirror of my own I try.
My resolve is still not certain and no resolutions have been made as this process is much longer than a few months of reflection can afford. I carry-on, one observation at a time, controlling the reaction better at times than others.
What I know today…
Integrity matters to me as I define it. It matters how you define as well but I don’t live your truth and therefore mine is priority. Protecting who you are, portraying who you are is the ultimate freedom and true definition of integrity. After all when someone shows you who they are believe them. What are you showing?
Accountability is a two-way street, always. We are held accountable or hold accountable each other and ourselves. Accountability is not expectation. It is being held responsible for what you say or do and less about what someone expects you to say or do. One is a promise made by you and the other is a plea to you.
Self-care wraps both of these together and speaks volume about your value; for you are only as valuable as you appraise yourself. How you care for yourself is the ultimate test of your integrity and accountability. You cannot speak a truth or hold others accountable to values you don’t possess.
I sit in confusion of what I was to take away from my time “on the mountain”. This is likely due to an expectation that could never have been fulfilled considering the nativity in going up on the mountain blind to the process. I have also found resolve that nothing needed to be taken away but instead rather given back.
What I have found is that silence has been redefined in moments, in words not said, in my own restraint if only saved for those deserving. What I have found is that my seat at the table is not defined by the table I sit at but rather where I choose to keep company. In the end, my value is just that MY value and that takes priority.
I am asked often if I would do it again (the silent retreat, that is) and to that I answer yes and no. No, I do not require someone to silence me to find clarity as that cannot truly happen without being transparent to myself. Yes, I would do it again if only to prove that I could, again. Most importantly is that today I do silence on my terms, in my way and my practice is in active form taking back my power, my value, my words for noise has little value, but for me I am priceless in silence.
I had the privilege today of being a Moderator for Castell Project which is a nonprofit that provides organizations in the hospitality industry tools and support to accelerate development of their high-potential women. My topics as shown in the picture included the one I chose for my blog tonight; Finding your voice.
I have a voice in every aspect of my life; sometimes too much of a voice but I have a voice. As I have discussed in previous blogs I work harder these days in silencing that voice; W.A.I.T. (Why Am I Talking) and only speaking up when I can add value. Again it’s work because I seemingly have so much to say that to hold back takes real effort.
The fact that “Finding your voice” is still a topic in 2019 is surprising until you sit in front of these amazing women I hosted at my table; of all ages and career paths. The reality is that it is a topic and one that we have to spearhead with our daughters, sisters, best friends and every woman within our reach. We as a gender have a voice however what I witnessed today as the overarching issue silencing that voice is CONFIDENCE. The confidence to speak up about what you KNOW, the confidence to ask for what you WANT, the confidence to be HEARD. These women need the permission to speak and since that is not going to happen when they are sitting “at the table” we have to give them the permission NOW.
This confidence has to show itself in our words and our actions…
It’s not being defined by the titles that are assigned to us. Who cares if you are an “Assistant” or “Associate” or anyone’s #2; it’s irrelevant. Do you know what you are talking about? If the answer is “yes” then apply that knowledge and speak up.
It’s not “telling on ourselves”. One of these fabulous women said to me “I feel bad because I have an eight-month old and if I have to leave for an appointment…” blah, blah, blah. I stopped her and “gave her permission”! Why do you have to tell anyone what your appointment is for, why are you telling on yourself. If you have an appointment it’s enough to notify of the appointment, leaving out the rest. YOU DON’T HAVE TO CHOOSE YOUR FAMILY OVER YOUR CAREER. You can have both; balance it unapologetic.
It is asking for that raise if you deserve it, asking for the promotion if you have earned it and asking for what you want out of your career. No one is going to care about your career as much as you. Your career is your responsibility. You have applied for a job on your career path that suits your career at that time and your employer has employed you to do the job YOU applied for; what more do they owe you? Nothing. They have given you exactly what you applied for; if you want more YOU HAVE TO ASK FOR IT. Don’t wait for someone to come to you.
I don’t like to believe that there is still a gender bias in the boardroom but I know there is…however it is our responsibility to be heard by speaking up. Stop waiting for someone to hand you the mic! If you have something to say, if you have value to add, if you are the authority in the room than I give you permission to SPEAK UP AND BE HEARD!!!
The song by Everlast always serves as a reminder of why I have learned to embrace my journey instead of hide it. I have been through more than the average bear in 48 years and some of those tales are not ones you put on BLAST! But it has made me WHO I am forget about what…it’s irrelevant…I am absolutely someone that know “what it’s like” to live in many environments. I have seen the worst of the worst and I have wined and dined among the best of the best and ultimately I love where I am, I love WHO I am because I do know “what it’s like”…
to be in love with an addict and lose
to work for it and win
to have to decide and to have to choose
to be fat and thin, healthy and sick
to be poor and to have enough.
I have been a single Mom, I have stood in a food stamp line, I have sat in a clinic to get care for myself and then my child, I have worked for every single thing I have achieved and this is why I can understand. I have the privilege of having the depth of an understanding that while attaining it I could never have known I would look back with gratitude for the experience.
Walking in the many shoes I have worn has helped me in my roles as mother, wife, daughter, friend, leader, neighbor and any number of other hats I wear. I understand things that others are quick to judge. I get it. My empathy is real. My mess has always been my message because they were momentary; every setback always had a comeback.
I conclude with my favorite line in the song, which no surprise is; ” You know where it ends, yo, it usually depends on where you start”.
There was a time that everything could be solved with ice cream and cookies, macaroni and cheese if I needed something warm and the oh so wonderful and oxymoronic DIET Coke! Those days are 3.5 years behind me but the work is still in front of me as I continue to stave off cravings and the “want” that a pan of baked macaroni and cheese can elicit in me.
Food became a solace for me as a child as I would sneak cookies out of the house for my friends, as a teenager I would beg my mom to pick me up a Reeses Cup from the store and as an adult I would fill my own pantry with every single food I was not able to indulge in as a child. There are certain foods that bring me right back to my childhood, much the same way a song from my past can take me right back. Here are a few that you will NEVER find in my home today:
“The Rooster” for 15 years of my life the only cereal my mother ever bought was Corn Flakes (enter vomit emoji)!!! I can still see that box sitting on top of the fridge. Actually it might have been sitting there for years, they surely tasted like it!!
“Big 60” the horror!! Most kids grew up on Oreos, while we were lucky if my mom was feeling generous enough to buy my Dad and I a fresh pack of Big 60’s from Winn Dixie, the Beef People (enter eye roll emoji).
“Ice Milk” had me duped for years! Every night we would each get a bowl of ice milk. I savored every bite and would scrape the bowl to get every drop left…not knowing what I was really missing in not having Ice CREAM! Never fear Ben and Jerry and I made up for lost time!
Last but not least, 15 years of PB&J sandwiches for lunch every single day with a thermos of Kool-aid was my lunch box fare. I didn’t mind it except that she would put my pencils in my lunch box and therefore my pencils smelled of PB&J…it’s the small things people.
My mother was very health conscious long before it was trendy! She would not eat breakfast or lunch, only dinner and would exercise every single day. For this reason when she went shopping every week she would only buy dinners and for breakfast Corn Flakes and a loaf of bread for PB&J for lunches and that was it. I remember being hungry for much of my teenage years because by that time I could not stomach a bowl of corn flakes nor was I bringing PB&J to high school. When I would get home at the end of a long day, I was STARVING! The first time I remember shame surrounding food was after making a HUGE pot of white rice that I had heaped an enormous helping of in a bowl and then somehow managed to lock myself out of the house. Don’t ask why the heck I went outside after making my rice but I did. Needless to say I had to wait until my Mom or Dad got home to get back in because there were no cell phones and so I was stuck. When we entered the house and my mom saw the amount of rice I prepared she was floored. Who was that for? Why did I make so much? Who was going to eat all of that? YIKES! (Enter the onset of eating in private to hide what I was eating.)
As an adult eating became a centerpiece for everything I would do. I loved eating out and would as often as I could. I could eat amounts of food that to a “normal” person would make them sick; but not I. It was my happy place, my sad place, my desperate place and all places for my heart, soul and mind to resolve its matters. My weight started creeping up around 15 years old and that creep would continue for 30 years. At 45 years old I was 274 lbs on a 5’3″ frame. This was truth, this was my reality, this was my every day, this was life as I knew it.
The reality of this tale is that while I admittedly LOVE food this addiction (let’s call it what it was/is) was my way of coping with everything in my life. The good stuff was celebrated with food the bad stuff was resolved with food; there were foods for all occasions, emotions and stresses. What was eating me inside was consuming my life mentally, physically and spiritually. The problem is I could not point to what “it” was that was eating me inside out and so instead I would control the symptom rather than the cause. I would go on diet after diet after diet my entire life trying to solve the symptom of a problem that did not have a name. It was only in my final failure at Nutrisystem (a fantastic plan by the way!) that I realized I had to get to the bottom of this mystery and figure out what “it” was if I was ever going to STOP eating!
I found Randie, my second therapist in my life, just around the corner from work and so she became my lunch date a few times a week. I have blogged about Randie previously; she was the one that would call me out on my BS and finally get to the bottomless pit that was my gut. I remember going in to see her one day where she asked “how was the week” and what she was looking for was a recap of how my week went mentally, how I was handling the work at hand…but my reaction (because again everything revolved around food) was “well today I had a Slurpee and Doritos”, (enter angry emoji) I thought Randie was going to lose her mind…ha-ha! It makes me smile thinking about it. She said, “oh okay, so you want to talk about Slurpee’s and Doritos? Is that what this hour should be about…really Lori, it’s never been about a Slurpee or a bag of Doritos…it’s about you, so why don’t we start over”. That day, that interaction has never left me and you know what, we found “it” finally, we got down to the bottom of the pit and it was through this discovery and healing that I was ready to take on the final and last diet and forever be free of the weight!
You see with all addiction; food, alcohol, drugs, etc. it’s not about the substance; it’s about the root cause for the substance dependency. I remember watching the show Intervention on A&E and thinking to myself as I would listen to the journey of an alcoholic or drug addict that I felt the exact same way but my “drug of choice” was food. Socially acceptable, available around every corner…FOOD was the most dangerous substance anyone could abuse! It’s worth noting as well that you don’t need to be a food addict to abuse foods; every single one of us has stuffed our faces in a moment of stress, sadness, happiness, etc.
It’s fair to challenge you as I conclude to ask yourself “What is eating me?”. Is it work, home, children, past lives, self worth…what is “it”? You have to find the “it” to have resolve. You have to take your power back by controlling the cravings through doing what you KNOW how to do regardless of whether you want to or not.
Medication or Meditation…that is the question. Or is it?
It is astonishing to me how many people have reached out to me after posting “The Smiling Faces of Depression” and to date the “mental health” tags in my blogs have received far more views than any other subject matter. It is clear that I have hit a nerve and while I am on your nerves allow me to continue the conversation with the hopes of settling your nerves.
I have had many conversations over the years on depression and the many solutions that exist; natural and pharmaceutical. It is my belief that if we engage in this conversation with the sentiment that we are speaking on behalf of mental health as we would physical health then it would seem to me that the following statements should apply.
Depending on your level of depression you could require meditation OR medication. This is why it is important to seek the help of a professional. My first analogy is a simple one, if you had high blood pressure (HBP) you would go to the doctor who would suggest you change your diet and exercise and possibly prescribe a medication. You would likely not think twice about this advice. So why is it then when it comes to medications to solve depression we pause? That pause can do as much damage as untreated HBP as depression worsens without some form of intervention.
Should you use natural supplements? It is not my preference as I told my “tribe” during a recent girls trip when we had this debate. Every bout of depression is not the same and therefore there is not one solve when it comes to choosing a medication. It is far better to go to a professional that can determine the severity of your depression to find the chemical that can serve you best without worsening it versus experimenting with supplements.
Meditation is ALWAYS the answer regardless of the question. Meditation has many forms so finding the one that works for you is simply trial and error. I have tried many forms of meditation and ultimately what serves me well is counting my breaths, breathing deep and controlled. I prefer it because I can do it anywhere and any time. Meditation calms the mind, it clears the soul and through the practice it resolves the physical, slowing the pulse and calming the central nervous system.
Despite the debate the fact is that you need to do SOMETHING when you feel a depression coming on! Yes, that is not a typo…it is a “a depression” just like it is “a cold”; you are not depressed, you are affected by depression and can treat it and come out of it which is why we are not identifying with this condition as a characteristic versus the disease that it actually is. Not doing something about depression is where depression like any other illness can make us prisoners in our own lives. An analogy for you to consider:
When you get the sniffles you hope a cold is not coming on so you blow your nose and continue on. Then a cold sets in and you likely run to the drugstore to get some over-the-counter meds but they simply suppress the symptoms they don’t heal the infection brewing inside. Those sniffles eventually turn into bronchitis which without medication/antibiotics turns into pneumonia which without medical intervention can kill you.
When you feel sad, you acknowledge that your spirits are down but likely are not alarmed knowing that it is just a moment. When the sadness sits in for weeks at a time you start to feel worse as it is likely affecting your sleep, ability to focus and overall mood. If that long-term sadness is not addressed it can then turn into a depression which requires some form of intervention. This is a pivotal point in the journey of depression as if it is not dealt with or identified at this point where the depressed individual can be “reached” it can turn into suicidal thoughts and at that point reaching the individual suffering is far more difficult because like pneumonia when you are that deep into the disease the intervention needed is professional.
This is the conversation that we need to continue to have with each other. It is through these conversations that we can save lives. Openly discussing mental illness as easily we do HBP or any other mainstream condition is important because we acknowledge that we are more alike than different. We all want to feel like we are not alone in any journey whether it be medical, mental or social.
Back to the original question…Medication versus Meditation? To this I say BOTH! Medication is prescribed as needed to offer the body what it is deficient in and there is no shame in that especially when it can make all the difference in your life. Walking around anxiety-ridden, panicked or overwhelmed is debilitating and that a medication can solve is what I call a no-brainer! Meditation is a form of exercise for the brain, for the body and most importantly for the soul. it can be done anywhere and is as easy as breathing. There are great apps, free guided meditations on the internet and books and magazines that can offer techniques.
I conclude by applauding YOU my audience for making this conversation the top trending all month. We have to continue to have these conversations and have the courage to share that we seek therapy, take medication and meditate and these things do not make us “less than” they make us BAD ASS. My life is AMAZING because I am as serious about my mental health as I am about my physical health and that combination makes me whole, it makes me who I am. This is life as I see it. L.
I had a great conversation with my Aunt this week, I asked her what she thought of the last few blogs that were born out of my reactions to the books I am currently reading and she said “I didn’t love them”. I wasn’t surprised because quite frankly, neither did I. Her point was that people are following my blog because of me. My life experiences, my stories, life as I see it. Her fear is that I will lose my audience if my writing is centered around other people’s experiences as everyone has the same access and if they wanted to follow those people they would. Additionally it’s not so much about their work as much as it is about my reaction to their work and that is where I was finding the difficulty in my writing. As I found myself so illuminated by these writers I am compelled to share however instead of owning it and its transformation in my mind I was sharing so literally that my writings were mired with quotes and annotations that took me away from my true thoughts. It’s with this sentiment that I start again and bring it back to me.
One of my core values in life is Owning It and Never Giving Your Power Away. So for today I would like to explore these two concepts from my perspective, because in this blog that is what it’s about…me! 🙂
In reflecting on how to stay focused on what and how I want to write I remember that Owning It means that I own the thoughts that are provoked at the experiences as I have lived them and as they show themselves. Even when reading provokes thoughts and emotion, they are mine to own, mine to share. We know that three people can read the same thing and come out with three very different perspectives and therefore there is great value in citing that perspective from my point of view without citing so literally. This is the easy part of owning it; it gets much harder in life when we own who we are without apology and what we want to do without permission. These are the times when owning it becomes an active verb, one that requires you to “stand in it”, not waiver and do “it” anyway.
Never Give Your Power Away. Not in the good times, not in the bad, not ever…it is simply not necessary. Not in your writing and not in any of your efforts; not for good and not for guilt. Don’t make someone else the “reason” for your thoughts or actions. This is the fine line where owning it and giving your power away meet. You are doing whatever you are doing for YOU. I always cringe when I hear people say “I am doing this for ___________”. It comes across as a way to justify the excess of the moment rather than owning that maybe they are really enjoying that moment, opportunity or advantage. More often than not we see people give their power away when they don’t speak up for themselves or how they feel. When they compromise to a point that they are paying a higher price than who they are compromising with. I am reminded of this when dealing with people that do not bring out the best in me; as I am handing over my power in that moment that they are evoking the worst of me. Why would I do that? Why is that person so important that I would compromise who I am, what I stand for or my person for them? They aren’t, trust me when I say no one is!
My life as i have come to know it is different then everyone around me, and theirs are different than mine, we truly all have a story and how we tell it or if we tell it can make the difference. Owning that story can create power. There were many moments in this life that I tried to keep my story under wraps, because I didn’t want to own it, however as I got older I came to realize that my story, every moment, shaped who I had become. There was no shame in that and instead I found myself so grateful for MY journey as I am certain that my life today would be different had I not had the experiences that have defined me. In owning it I have also learned to retain the power of my story where it serves me and to only give away that which I was carrying that was never mine to own. THIS IS THE POWERFUL STUFF…handing power away NOT giving it away but putting things back where they belong when they were never yours to begin with…this is where the power play is won. But that is an entirely different story for another day…to be continued. L.
Oh boy have I found the book! This is the one that confirms that everything I am doing is RIGHT to WRITE! This man’s journey is he truest testament of resilience.
My son turned me on to this book and I have barely been able to turn it off. The book is from David Goggins and is called “Can’t Hurt Me: Master your mind and defy the odds”. I am only three chapters in and the book is as astonishing as my son promised it would be. It is so hard to believe that anyone could survive the childhood he survived. The very stories left me shocked and shaken.
The abuse that he incurred is unthinkable horror. To hear it was hard, to imagine living it is impossible. While I can NEVER understand what that was nor would I want to, what I did relate to was the impact his mother had on him. He notes that the look on her face was one that he will never forget; the look in her eyes when he knew everything would change. I too recall my mom’s face on so many occasions throughout our lives together and it was that recognition that became our communication that allowed me to serve her long after her inability to speak. That unspeakable bond I cherished was born out of a lifetime of memories that would forever be ours.
He offers challenges at the end of each chapter and I have decided that those challenges are blog-worthy so tonight I will explore the first three chapters of challenges with you and will follow nightly until we have explored all ten together.
FIRST Challenge – Inventory of excuses
What was your bad hand? What kind of BS did you contend with growing up? Were you beaten, abused, bullied, did you ever feel insecure?Did you grow up so supported and comfortable, you never pushed yourself?Are you standing in your own way?
Now flip that shit! Open a Google Doc, a journal, a notes app on your phone and start answering these questions. WRITE, don’t think about it, don’t spellcheck, don’t look back just WRITE until you stop.
My reality in this first challenge is that my hand seemed as normal a hand as anyone else was holding as I knew nothing else. it was only when I was old enough to observe my surroundings versus those around me that I realized that it wasn’t ideal. I told my Aunt’s this weekend that I think the first realization that my reality was “less than” was when I went to my Aunt Susie’s house around the age of 5 or 6 and recognized that her house was like a palace compared to our single wide trailer that had this special effect when you turned on the kitchen light…
SECOND Challenge – Accountability Mirror
Write all your insecurities, dreams, and goals on Post-Its and put them on the mirror you look at every morning. You will use this accountability mirror to remind yourself of your mission each morning.
My reality in this second challenge is that I live this every single day and always have; it is why I never give up! I put a plan in place and I am “always starting” even if it meant I failed hours later; I would start again. This viscous cycle for me was in my weight loss struggles. Despite 30 years and millions of dollars spent on diets I refused to give up. My insecurities played out throughout my life not only because of my physicality but through my early choices. Years later those insecurities would fuel my dreams and goals because I was going to win this war if it killed me and it nearly did.
David Goggins notes that, “It’s time to come eyeball to eyeball with yourself, and get raw and real. This is not a self-love tactic. You can’t fluff it. Don’t massage your ego. This is about abolishing the ego and taking the first step toward becoming the real you!”
My “Accountability Mirror” has always been my Mom and Gary. I would tell them what I “was going to do” before I started every single effort knowing that they would love me despite my failure but would be supportive when I started again. Supportive but not enabling; they always held me to a higher standard and never gave me a “hall pass” on these intentions. It was this accountability that forced my hand in the end. My success was their success and letting them down was worse than letting myself down so it simply was not going to happen.
THIRD Challenge – Step Outside your Comfort Zone
The first step on the journey toward a calloused mind is stepping outside your comfort zone on a regular basis. Write down all the things you don’t like to do or that make you uncomfortable. Especially those things you know are good for you. – Now go do one of them, and do it again.
David Goggins goal was to became a Navy Seal but in order to do this he had to lose 100+ pounds in three months! He also had to pass the ASVAB test after three failed attempts. He set out to do both and was relentless in his efforts.
He noted that he would look at his running shoes for 30-40 minutes before convincing himself to put them on and run. He was in no shape to run but would never be unless he put them on and went despite the pain from yesterday’s run and the mental war in his head. He noted that in order to succeed he had to become so obsessed that people thought he was nuts.
“Not all physical and mental limitations are real, and that I had a habit of giving up way too soon.” – David Goggins
I also can relate to that because the self-discipline it took to lose 140 pounds makes you obsessive and there are days you have to be nuts to keep pushing past the pain, pain that you are not sure is real or just in your head.
He notes that he callused his mind by stepping out of his comfort zone, “the repetition of the challenge will be what creates the callus that allows you to succeed”. Mental toughness as David Goggins explains is doing the things you do not want to do, again and again and again.
He notes “You have to put yourself in a position to win”…regardless of the reality that you may or may not! There are no guarantees, not in this life and not ever, but anything worth having is never easy. The result is when you come out on the other side you will be changed in ways you could not have known and could not have intended but would benefit from for the rest of your life.
“We all have areas in our life that we can improve upon” and finding those means “making your weaknesses your strengths”. He asks you to post a picture that shows your weakness, a picture in the “discomfort zone”. The picture below is a before and after. On the left is me coming through the FINISH LINE nearly last in a mere 5k that took me over an hour. I was uncomfortable as hell that day, but the fact remains that I was out there doing it…owning it. The picture to the right is me finishing one of my first half marathon’s after losing the weight. When I look at the pics I cannot identify which made me more proud as it took as much strength to finish that 5k at 274 pounds as it did to finish that Half 140 pounds lighter and fully trained. In neither case was I guaranteed to “win” or even “finish” but I did it because as David Goggins says “I put myself in a position to win, to succeed” rather than not trying for fear of failure. I am ALWAYS STARTING and it is the ART OF NEVER GIVING UP.
This book speaks to me beyond words spoken through an author, it speaks to my soul of resilience and is a translation of a lifetime of relentlessness. This is my life, listening to HIS life and respecting his journey, so grateful for having the honor to share and reconcile our varied paths.
Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do. – Brene Brown
Above I offer you the definition of Courage as defined by Brene Brown. Brene is a bestselling author and has studied courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. She offers her insights in many mediums. She was introduced to me eight years ago when I dove head first into the yoga lifestyle. I embraced her message then and continue to now.
I share with you my notes from Brene Brown’s TED Talk “The Power of Vulnerability”:
Lean into the discomfort
Shame is the fear of disconnection
People that have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they are worthy
Courage is to tell the story of who you are with your whole-heart
Have the Compassion to be kind to yourself first and then others
Be willing to let go of who you think you should be to be who you are to connect to others
Have the willingness to do something where there are no guarantees
You know who you are when you call your friends and say I need to see a therapist
Vulnerability is the core of shame and fear but is the birthplace of creativity and love
We numb vulnerability and when we numb vulnerability we numb joy, we numb happiness
We make everything that is uncertain CERTAIN
Let ourselves be seen
Love with our whole-hearts even though there is no guarantee
Practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror
I AM ENOUGH!
When telling your story and to truly own it you have to be willing to be “excruciatingly vulnerable”. Do not apologize for who you are and most importantly who you are not. Just be you, the very best version of you.