I judge a book <or in this case, a post> by the first sentence. Here are a few that I tossed around for this post.
I have emotions, I just don’t use to them.
Where can I get more energy, legally?
I wonder who my authentic self is. Wait, is that bullshit?
My anger is really shame in a defensive form.
Here I am again, yelling at my kids.
Here I am again, having another bourbon.
And the age old: Why can't I just have it all?
Quick background on me: I am the co-founder of Forth (this here women’s collaborative group). I am a creative entrepreneur, brand consultant, business coach, wife, mom to two toddlers and stepmom to two boys. All of my kids go to different places during the day: high school, middle school, kindergarten and day care.
I am a hyper scheduled Capricorn who loves Missy Elliot as much as I love Bob Dylan.
I love to dance to loud house music and do hot yoga <because it’s more intense, see the pattern?> I love talking branding and football, typically not together.
In July, a few days before my daughter's second birthday I posted this in our private Forth Chicago page on Facebook:
“Self-care Q ladies: do you have any supplements or daily vitamins you love? I am looking to increase my energy, lessen PMS, increase overall well-being, and it must be legal, hahaha!”
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was waving a big red flag crying for help. I had zero energy, zero me. I was over-producing, over-promising, over-delivering, missing moments, missing laughter, yelling at my kids, growling under my breath, ignoring my mood, letting anger win, dismissing my feelings, not saying I love you enough.
Life Coach and Master Alchemist, Dana Frost commented on my post: “Lisa, we need to talk.”
I was expecting Dana to give me a list of vitamins, instead she asked me a series of questions about how I spend my time and how do I want to feel.
OK, Pause. Feel?
I get to choose how I feel?
During this same time I started talking with my friend, and life coach, Molly Rudberg, mostly because I was curious, “What does a life coach do?” And I thought I could use some leadership development and direction (see that? Not life help, or "me" help, but help with my business).
We started our engagement by filling out a Q/A. I do the same thing with my business coaching clients. I thought, this is great, I am going nail this!
On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the highest:
“How do you feel about your mental, physical and spiritual well-being?”
“How do you feel about the relationships in your life?”
“What is your experience of Joy? Guilt? Success?” etc.
I filled it out and went back to review. I rated myself the average of 4. It was really really sad.
Molly and I started talking about what it would look like to live a Fully Expressed Life. I had zero idea of what that even meant.
Express what, my emotions?
Oh god no, I’ll keep those down deep inside, don’t want to rock the boat, that’s the Gainor Way, I come from an Irish background.
I don’t have time to think about me. I have <enter laundry list of to-dos here>.
You know what the easiest part of my day is? Doing client work. Building my business. Because I own that. I have control over that.
The hardest parts of my day are the ones I don’t have control over <enter crazy Capricorn>:
What about that work life balance bullshit?
What about having it all?
What about being successful?
Making time for me (luxury!)?
What about making sure all of my kids get to their sport activities, I cook a decent meal and I take a shower?
You can see where that red flag came from.
Molly and I started working together in small ways. The big goal was to live a Fully Expressed Life. The small goals were to recognize how I was feeling that day and why.
Recognizing why I went to such high-intensity workout classes, and why all of the dark violent comedies like Dexter and The Following. Why can’t I get into romantic comedies? Oh, and watching the news!? How does anyone watch the morning news and not feel horribly defeated and sad?
Once I became more aware of how I was reacting to my life I could think about how I wanted to proactively act in my life. Instead of yelling at my kids to hurry up and get in the car, now, now, NOW! I could pause and think, so what if we are 10 minutes late, it’s their music class. Maybe there will be something good on the radio, maybe they need to get the wiggles out and I need to soak in some vitamin D.
Molly reminds me, “Try coming from a place of love instead of bitchiness.” I don’t wait to be a bitch to my kids. I want to come from a place of love, so they can learn to love too. So how do I do that?
Fast-forward 8 months and just this morning I thought:
"Maybe it’s not the end of the world if my daughter eats that black soot filled snow, she seems to really enjoy it."
It took a long long time, it’s hard to change habits, and hard work takes time. I am still filled with daily moments of pause and reflection and mystery. I am still run by schedules and chicken nuggets, but taking ownership of who I want to be, versus letting my circumstances lead my reactions is the golden ticket.
I fell in love with different ways to notice me, who I was and how I felt, who I wanted to be and how I wanted to feel.
I started to skip the dark violent comedies and go to bed early with Brene Brown and Jen Sincero.
I feel so in love with that golden ticket--owning my feelings--that I bought my own golden ticket. I signed up to take the same certified life coach training program that Molly did years ago.
I don’t know where it is going to lead me. I know that I am going to be uncomfortable talking about feelings, I am going to sweat through my clothes during awkward conversations about feelings, but that’s human true expression.
I am diving head first into a pool of emotions, ideas, expressions, all of these things I have held at bay for decades starting in February. The times they are a-changing. Wish me luck.
I'd love to hear what makes you uncomfortable and if you are working on it, ignoring it, or at least noticing it? It's easier not to feel bad, uncomfortable, weird and sweaty but, on the flip side, it's probably worth finding out why you feel that way, or at least noticing it and owning it. I am doing my best to own it. How about you?
I'd love to hear about it! Let me know in the comments or email me at lisa(at)stepbrightly(dot)com.