THE INNER MEAN GIRL

THE INNER MEAN GIRL

INNER MEAN GIRL

A portion of my job is to support people through mindset shifting. Admittedly, the irony is not lost on me that sometimes, I myself, need to simply LOOK IN A MIRROR and adopt this concept. Let’s talk about the things we say to ourselves. More specifically, our inner mean girl.

I read in my 100 Days to Brave book this morning an excerpt on speaking kindly to yourself. To be honest, this is like the fifth time the effect of our inner messaging has popped up for me in the last week. Clearly the Universe is trying to tell me something. Because of this, I sat on it for a while this morning. Then I started to write.

We likely could all use a little dose of putting the inner mean girl in her place. For instance, I recently had surgery on a herniated disc in my neck. (Yes, the cover pic which I’m SHOCKED I am letting out in public… yikes!) I promise the surgery not quite as dramatic as it may sound. Even so, my inner mean girl was ON FIRE after the fact.

MY INNER MEAN GIRL

Everyone has their own topics their inner mean girl can’t seem to let go of. Mine typically centers around weight and probably more specifically body image.

I can’t work out for at least 6 months, so as you can imagine, my inner mean girl topic for discussion…

BODY IMAGE

She first started in on what surgery would mean for any progress made in the exercise realm recently. Second, she pointed out how she could literally FEEL my arms and belly getting bigger as I laid there in the hospital bed. (I told you, she’s not very nice!) Then the “little b***h” began attacking my business and questioning my foot off the throttle for new clients while in recovery.

“Rest? Get your butt going, you have clients to talk to,” she demanded.

Funny how quickly I forgot the SHE was in fact, ME. Ouch.

Nonetheless, I kept wondering what the “speaking kindly to yourself” message smacking me in the face over the last week meant. As a result, I think someone else out there needs to hear this:

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Your thoughts and feelings, as well as the little inner mean girl trying to tear you down, it’s normal. Furthermore, just like me, maybe you are needing a dose of medicine for your inner mean girl, too.

What does she like to point out to you? Motherhood shortcomings. Of course, she does! And probably in the weakest of moments too. Career woman issues and trying to climb the ladder, be a “good wife” (whatever that means), and be all the things we “should” be? Yep. Body image thoughts? This Girl Is On Fire! And no, not in an Alicia Keys song kind of way either. Ugh.

Mine? Oh yes. All of the above. She doesn’t like my arms, my toes, my thighs, she’s frustrated with my mid-section of late. Her messaging in the mirror even on days when I do wear make-up and put on something other than tights or yoga pants (hello quarantine?!?!) has not been kind. Additionally, she even attacks my motherhood skills or lack thereof. Check and check.

Is she right? Maybe at times. I bet you didn’t think I was going to say that!

I’m not going to lecture you on a message of “love yourself exactly as you are in every moment.” It should be noted, I don’t think this approach creates growth. Of course, you want to love yourself. However, SOMETIMES, we need to take a good hard look at the inner voice and see what she’s trying to tell us. The catch is, balancing the truth in the message as well as how we let it affect us versus challenge us.

The inner mean girl is just the mask. Under the mask of the mean message, maybe, just maybe, there is a more important message to unearth.

BALANCING THE INNER MEAN GIRL

I’m an instant gratification person. How about you?

Frustrated when the internet is slow? Check.

Triggered by kids and want them to behave IMMEDIATELY? Check.

Take the inner mean girl message at face value? Check.

How often do we face the mean girl message and think it through? I’m probably at a zero out of one hundred average in the last week alone. You too?

So, let’s chat about it. Body image messaging for me is typically not as loud when I MOVE my body. Ironically, it doesn’t have to be a long run or a really tough workout. In general, when I move (walk, work in the yard, busy day of errands and house chores, etc.) it equates to me feeling better.

With this in mind, it makes a lot of sense my inner mean girl was on fire as I lay in a hospital bed for about 24 hours straight. She’s trying to remind me, albeit in a not very kind way, body movement is key for my sense of well-being. When I don’t have this, my mental state is a slippery slope of pointing out ALL THE THINGS wrong with me physically.

And while my arms and belly likely weren’t growing at a rate where I could physically SEE this (um, gross), the thoughts in my head manifesting the physical feeling is understandable. Irrational on some level? Of course. However, thinking it through makes me understand my inner mean girl wants me to move because she knows I’m going to feel better.

With this rationale, are we then able to manifest positivity if we have the ability to manifest a negative feeling? I’m thinking YES.

Heather Lowey- Inner Mean Girl quote- thank, question, challenge her, Move on.

Let’s start with this… What is the first thing you said to yourself this morning?

MANIFESTING POSITIVE FEELINGS

Who grabbed the phone first thing this morning and started scrolling? If you answered yes, I’m going to scream this through your screen:

STOP IT!!!!!!!!!

Terrible idea. I don’t like to tell people what to do, (okay, my fraternity house would disagree) but I’m ripping off the band-aid… Not only is it a bad idea, it is a TERRIBLE idea.

Three reasons:

COMPARISON, SHAME, WORRY

Why didn’t I get up and work out this morning?

What am I doing to wear THAT bikini to the beach?

When is the last time we took family pictures and all coordinated outfits?

What did my loved one post that I don’t want to be associated with?

Enter in the inner mean girl and BAM, our morning is shot before our feet even hit the floor.

Add in some kids rushing around for school and no coffee, well frankly, it’s not going to get any better.

Why don’t my kids listen to me?

I just yelled. Geez, I’m a terrible mother.

We have all this s**t to do tonight. I don’t know if I’m coming or going. I SHOULD be appreciative of all we have but I’m so freaking tired and annoyed!

This negative self-talk continues for the day and by the time you are home in the evening with your take-out and feeling guilty, the night continues to spiral. Um, hello- NO WONDER!

AFFECT OF SPEAKING KINDLY TO YOURSELF

Consequently, I have an idea for you to try.

Gratefulness exercise. I know, maybe you read this with a giant eyeroll, but hear me out. Additionally, I PROMISE I’m not trying to add more s**t to your already full plate. Nope. Not only is this one is easy, it also creates a shift in your mindset.

The minute you wake up in the morning, despite the habit, don’t grab your phone. You can either continue to lie in your bed or do this on your walk to the bathroom. Think of three things you are grateful for. That’s it. 3 things. To clarify, they don’t have to be big crazy things either. 

For example, here are mine from this morning:

First, finding the perfect spot in my bed and realizing it was 4 am so I still had a couple more hours in THE PERFECT spot. You know what I’m talking about, right!?!? The perfect softness, firmness, temperature, all the things. Just right. Man, it’s great!

Next, Jake being so helpful and happy last night. (He is pre-teen and the emotional roller coaster is LEGIT!)

Finally, a day with fewer calls and obligations so I could do some writing and planning.

Ladies, I am telling you, THIS creates a shift in you. Maybe not day one or even week one. Nonetheless, when you know you are going to wake up in the morning and have to think of something you are grateful for, your mind automatically looks for things. You re-train your brain to be on the look-out for POSITIVE things. Simultaneously, you move your head from negative self-talk to speaking kindly to yourself.

Energy flows where attention goes.

 

– Tony Robbins

#truth

SUMMARY- INNER MEAN GIRL

We all have the inner mean girl. Even when you re-train your brain, she’s likely going to find something else to give you flack about.

However, what if you took a little time to shift? Acknowledge what the inner mean girl is trying to tell you. There may be a message under the mask of mean if only you break it down.

Then you shift. Moving to a place where our brain automatically LOOKS for the positives. A life of practicing gratefulness and empathy once we understand this inner voice maybe just wants to be heard.

Give it a try. I’d love to hear how this process or an evolution of this works for you. We can work with our inner mean girl and shift her from a bullying voice, to someone looking out for our well-being.

Finally, don’t forget the little voice is YOU. When you peel back your inner mean girl, what are YOU trying to tell yourself?

 

Step away from the mean girls… and say bye-bye to feeling bad about your looks. Are you ready to stop colluding with a culture that makes so many of us feel physically inadequate? Say goodbye to your inner critic, and take this pledge to be kinder to yourself and others.

 

Oprah Winfrey

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ACCORDING TO PLAN

ACCORDING TO PLAN

2020 PLANS

Who’s 2020 plan has gone, well… according to plan? Yours did? Okay then, you can stop reading. For all the rest of us, let’s chat.

Let me give you a quick rundown of my 2020 plan…

First according to plan, my coaching business is 25 clients deep. Next according to plan, the boys are IN school as well as playing sports with all of their friends on the fields near our house. Lastly, according to plan I actually FOLLOWED the 2020 blog script which I laid out at the end of 2019.

Of the above, guess how many went according to plan? I’ll give you a hint. ZERO. Zilch. Nada.  It should be noted, none of these things did or are happening the way I planned.

Even so, has this been catastrophic? Nope.

In fact, there have been a lot of opportunities and wins rising from the ashes of 2020.  Definitely extra family time (too much? maybe at times!). Stories told from perspectives I, without a doubt, didn’t have a year ago. Last but not least, learning more about my niche for coaching which I’m quite certain wouldn’t have been fully discovered according to plan.

Furthermore, master plans, game plans, schemes, plans of action, intentions, and methods are just, well… plans. I heard this riddle the other day.

There are four frogs sitting on a lily pad. Three decide to jump off. How many are still on the lily pad?

Answer: 4.

Deciding is vastly different than putting plans into action. Touché riddle master!

WHAT IS TO BLAME?

It’s easy, in this case, to blame a global pandemic on A LOT of things. On some level and for some circumstances, it absolutely IS accurate to blame.

But IS IT? I ask clients all the time why they haven’t moved to action and can tell you exactly 0% of the time so far has global pandemic been a legit reason. Just sayin’….

Nonetheless, even with our best thought out plans and also moving into the action phase, sometimes the Universe has a different idea.

Case in point, my plan years ago had NOTHING in it about writing a blog. Definitely nothing about starting my own business. Especially not a career outside of the sports world I had known for so long.

Despite all of this, here I am. And you want to know something crazy? Even though NONE of this was a part of my plan…. I’m happy. WHOA. I know. Plans NOT working out can actually lead to happiness?!?!? SHUT THE FRONT DOOR.

Nevertheless, the insanely organized planner self I am can now admit the curveballs and best laid plans falling through have actually led me to a happier place.

What if plans falling through are the Universe’s way of resetting our course down a path of opportunity?

FAILED PLANS OR LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES?

With this in mind, what are the plans you feel are currently failing?

I’ve heard from a number of moms who feel the pressure of trying to juggle a career on top of virtual school makes them feel like a failure.

First off, we could jump right into the typical response of, “NO! You are not failing. This is HARD. Do your best. You ARE doing your personal best every day.”

While this would all be TRUE and completely valid; it likely doesn’t help much beyond hearing the words initially.

“Appreciate it, but your words aren’t SOLVING anything.”

What if we instead work on completely shifting our mindset around what failed plans mean? Before I get all “coach-y” on you (Jake’s words by the way), I simply mean we look at this from a lens of opportunity versus failure. Plain and simple.

Okay fair, maybe not simple at first, but really not terribly hard to make it a habit, then it becomes simple.

For those of you questioning creating a new habit, strap in. It should be noted, it takes around 90 days to create a habit. You’ve got this!

KIDS AND PLANS

Proof of this thing called failed plans. Think back for a moment to your pre-kid thoughts on having kids. From birth, we have plans for them. Some very sweet and cute little plans. On the contrary, others likely falling in the asinine category! Let’s be honest, we had no idea what the hell we were talking about.

We laugh at ourselves later about our best laid plans with infants…. Hello baby wipe warmers???? Does anyone actually use those things?

I would venture to guess plans go awry more than they go according to plan. Amiright?!?

On the other hand, might that be the point? Can’t we learn and grow arguably more from plans going awry than according to plan?

To demonstrate, Jake was on his way to walking by the one-year mark. Sweet! And then…. An ice storm.

On a cold January evening, I innocently stepped out of the garage with him on my hip. Afterall, he wanted to touch the snow! Then BAM. Next thing I know, we’re both on the ground.

Him: screaming like crazy.

Me: dazed and confused.

ER visit revealed a fracture in his leg. An itty-bitty cast later, our plan of him walking by his first birthday now gone awry. Additionally, me with a slight concussion.

The Mom Huddle- According to Plan, Jake as 11-month-old smiling with a little cast on his leg

Jake showing off his cast just before his 1-year birthday


I learned from this experience. While we can get tied up in the baby book milestones, he walked just fine a few months later. Everything in due time.

Ironically, this was a great pre-curser to Bryce. Talking would come ON HIS OWN TERMS… not according to any milestone gurus.

It should be noted, I also don’t carry kids while walking on ice anymore! #jokingnotjoking

2020 SURVIVAL

2020 has been a lesson on survival of the nimble. Too tied to your plans and how things are “supposed” to go? Consequently, you probably will view 2020 as a fail. Instead though, what if we looked at this year as one of opportunity?

Speaking from one planner extraordinaire to another, my failed plans of the past have become some of my greatest stories. My personal triumphs and examples of perseverance. Consequently, some hilarious stories. Even the catalysts leading to my happiest state of being.

WHOA.

Let’s discuss the Zoom call gone awry. Following the dog barking during your sales pitch. Even the missed assignments in virtual school. Likewise, yelling in the background AT one son WHILE your other son is on a class Zoom (who would do that?!?! ME… it was me!).

GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK!

You have a new plan. This plan is a plan to embrace the unplanned. (not going to lie, I wanted to see how many times I could get plan into that sentence.)

NEW ACCORDING TO PLAN

Plans move us forward, so by no stretch of the imagination am I telling you not to have a plan. This thought actually makes me start to sweat and envision a life of mayhem. BAH! Can’t handle it.

Instead though, I’m asking you to EMBRACE when a plan goes awry. Sure, you can have a moment of cursing all the effects of it going terribly wrong. Afterall, you’re only human.

But then STOP. (anyone else’s mind go to- collaborate and listen, Ice is back with my brand new invention…. If you didn’t, NOW you did! LOL.)

Obviously, not everything has been rainbows and sunshine in 2020. My point though, is if we look for the opportunity in what this year has provided, low and behold we just might find a cute little rainbow. Conversely, focusing on the negative day in day out just feeds us to find more of the negative.

Plans. I mean for real, who follows them anyway.

Take a moment and ask yourself what the opportunity is right now. Seriously, what is ONE opportunity?

Is this going to make a great story for your next wine night? Amazing. Did you just discover you are actually better at something than you gave yourself credit for? Boom. Did you just enjoy yourself for a moment? Ah snap.

OPPORTUNITY- ACCORDING TO PLAN

When we make a habit of seeking the opportunity in a plan going awry, we shift our mindset. We look for opportunity not only when things go according to plan, but also when low and behold, a global pandemic happens, and we go off script on EVERY SINGLE BLOG POST.

Opportunity knocks. Unfortunately, we sometimes decide to ignore the knocking and just get angry. While understandable, what if after a moment of annoyance, we shifted? Additionally, we followed a newly created habit.

According to our new plan, we possess an innate ability to adapt to our plan going awry. Furthermore, to see opportunity in something better than we could have ever imagined.

How great will it be to discover an amazing opportunity you never would have witnessed if everything went according to plan?

Keep moving forward momma. Create your new habit. Embrace what’s around the corner. I know it’s going to lead to something amazing. If nothing else, it’s an opportunity for an awesome story!

One more thing, stop counting down the days in 2020 but rather make the days count. You have 134 days of OPPORTUNITY left in 2020. According to plan we have an amazing opportunity around the corner, if only we’re open to receiving it.

 

Stand up straight and realize who you are, that you tower over your circumstances. You are a child of God. Stand up straight.

 

Maya Angelou

 

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LEARN IN LOSS

LEARN IN LOSS

WE CAN (AND SHOULD) LEARN IN LOSS

My grandpa died recently as a young 92-year-old. Undoubtedly, he lived a FULL life. Even though his death was expected due to general decline over the last year, the actual occurrence of his death was still much harder than I anticipated. Likewise, I have been reflecting on it. There is much to learn in loss, no matter how prepared you think you are.

Consequently, no amount of prep truly softens the blow of their presence suddenly gone. In turn, everything tied up in memories and stories.

Grandpa really did enjoy most things in life. Even the things he didn’t enjoy, he tolerated in what can only be described as a laid-back manner. He left a legacy with his family through writing and storytelling. He LOVED to share stories. In fact, often found ways to relate a current circumstance to a story he remembered or something he had been through.

Therefore, I thought I would take this opportunity to share what I learned in his loss.

EVERYONE HAS A STORY

Everyone has a story became his mantra over the years. Even though I heard this a number of times in my youth, it didn’t dawn on me until recently it’s likely why I started doing my own writing.

What’s your story? What do you want your legacy to be?

On the Linking Indy Women Instagram Live interview a few months ago, I spoke about an idea I have around the concept of everyone has a story. Writing about everyday people because when you get down to it, everyone has a story to share.

I’m a connector and networker by nature. Consequently, I’m fascinated by people’s stories. The mail lady, janitor, CEO, officemate, cashier, barista, you name it, they have one worth hearing. People naturally seem to just open up and tell me things albeit sometimes shocking! LOL.

Insert palm to forehead here. My everyone has a story idea is not original. This is my grandpa’s legacy. But when you hear a message so often, it naturally becomes a part of you. You live it. His mantra to life becoming so much a part of me, only reflection of learning in loss highlighting the source.

YOUR STORY

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking our story is no big deal. Just like strengths. Often people downplay their strengths because it comes natural to them. The very reason it is so easy being the fact it IS a strength. Additionally, others admire it. Same with stories. It doesn’t feel unique because you are living in it. Nevertheless, it’s your story to share!

I remember my first meeting with colleagues from New York at the NBA. I shared the fact I grew up on a hog farm. First off, something I thought was a simple enough statement. Secondly, not so odd since I’d lived in it my entire life. Despite this normal fact to me, you could have heard a pin drop. “Excuse me, WHAT? Do tell!” But I digress…. Everyone has a story and its uniqueness is more amazing than you think.

My grandpa told stories. He would often say “stop me if I’ve told you this.” Let’s be honest, especially later in his life, I had likely heard the story at least twenty times prior. Truth be told, even if I did say he’d told me already, he was going to re-hash it anyway because he loved to share.

Learn in loss- Share your story and listen to others share theirs. You won’t regret it.

IMPACT ON KIDS

Our boys spent the weekend of their Papa Deuce’s visitation and funeral with the adults. As the older of their cousin clan, I anticipated them wanting to draw back into video games or a movie at the end of the day. Instead though, they relished in the story telling. I’m the oldest of four and sharing stories and laughing together is a highlight whenever we all have the chance to visit. Clearly, we get the genes honest….

However, what I recognized for maybe the first time in my own children was watching them being drawn into the stories. Maybe this came from feeling like they were suddenly part of the “big kid club” since they made it through the duration of all of the events. Or maybe they were just too tired to move to the other room and turn on a movie.

Whatever the reason, they delighted in the storytelling and the laughter. Jake, in particular, couldn’t get enough of it. He broke out into laughter a few times the next day about something said the day prior.

The experience was a good reminder for me. It’s often easier to give the boys a device or turn on a movie when I want to visit with other adults. On the other hand, watching them as a part of this interaction and what their inclusion meant was eye-opening. We absolutely had to stop short on a few stories ensuring they were age appropriate! (Hey Uncle Griff…. He’s only 11!!) But at the end of the day, they enjoyed the experience.

Learn in loss- Don’t underestimate the impact of including the kids in storytelling time. Age appropriate of course.

EASY-GOING

My grandpa was about as easy-going as they come. A funny phrase he often uttered when something surprised him, “Oh… welp-ph!!” My spelling probably not doing this phrase justice.

Even so, it’s often imitated by his children, grandchildren, and now great grandchildren both with and without him present. It makes me smile even as I type this.

He had the ability to stay calm in the craziest of circumstances. I honestly cannot remember a time he was seriously rattled over ANYTHING. And this is coming from his granddaughter who lived a quarter of a mile down the road and had siblings constantly doing something they weren’t supposed to be doing. (not me of course.)

This also includes him pulling into oncoming traffic with no physical reaction to the danger at hand. Or flipping the car into park on the regular without being fully stopped coming to a jolting halt. “Oh..welp-ph!”

I think we can all agree 2020 can be summed up with the simple phrase of “WTH???” Every time I turn around something new and unfathomable happening in the world. With the loss of grandpa and now the loss of at least part our kids’ fall semester of in-person school, I’ve started to create a number of parallels. Maybe the next blog post will create all of the parallels for you. But for now, my approach to virtual school and the world seemingly imploding upon itself is going to be my grandpa’s easy-going approach with a simple “Oh….welp-ph!”

Learn in loss- There really isn’t anything too big to overcome. Stay calm. Stay the course. And if you can’t think of something nice to say about someone, just use my grandpa’s line. “They are a great example of a bad example.” (think about it for a second…. there you go!)

Learn in loss- grandparents with 4 grandkids posing at Christmas

Our grandparents -always present. Not just for holidays but all life events big and small.

LAUGH AT YOURSELF

Grandpa was a master at laughing at himself. A great lesson for all of us.

One particular “party trick” required him lying on the floor on his back. The back of his head could not touch the ground if his heels were on the ground. Consequently, if you pushed his head down to the ground, his feet would in turn pop up from the floor. Like a seesaw. While I don’t remember him EVER being flexible, this was on another level of stiff. And HILARIOUS.

My aunt made the discovery when a pillow accidentally got knocked out from under his head, but his head didn’t fall to the ground. LAUGHTER ERUPTED! But it didn’t stop there. This became a party trick every time a new person came to the house who hadn’t seen how our grandpa’s head and heels couldn’t touch the floor at the same time!!!

How often do we take ourselves too seriously? We forget or think we shouldn’t laugh at our shortcomings. Not only was he not a stiff about it (pun FULLY intended), but also obliged us continuing to get down on the floor and show this to all of our friends. Our very own grandpa party trick.

Learn in loss- Don’t take yourself too seriously. A dose of laughter will probably do some good.

Learn in Loss- Heather and 3 siblings with grandparents making silly faces

Strike a silly pose!

SUMMARY

Loss is hard, but there is so much to be learned from those no longer with us. It’s easy to put them on a pedestal when they are no longer in our presence.

I feel fortunate this pedestal is warranted. Not from a place of perfection or being what social standards are for successful, but rather from a place of being a human. Being my grandpa.

He had the ability to be welcoming and warm. Obviously he was not perfect, but also could laugh at his shortcomings. He was successful by social standards, but those are not the memories people shared about being in his presence. And that’s not how his children, grandchildren, or great grandchildren will remember him.

They will remember his knack for storytelling, his ability to laugh at himself and life circumstances, his easy-going demeanor, and the fact, everyone has a story to share.

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A REALITY I NEVER KNEW

A REALITY I NEVER KNEW

I DID A THING

Recently, I did a thing. This THING made me nervous and uncomfortable. BUT this was important. Consequently, it’s important for all of us. I made a promise recently and this promise was to LISTEN. What do I mean by this? I claim to not be a racist. I truly don’t think I am. But what I’ve found through listening is my definition of being a racist isn’t a fully encompassing version of what racism actually is. This THING I did made me discover a reality I never knew.

Racism is defined as prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.

Noted. But here’s where my definition and reality come to a crossroads. There are unconscious bias pieces of racism as well. Not just the screaming, confederate flag waving craziness my mind visually goes to when I think of the word racism. Furthermore, when I listen and think more deeply about the unconscious, I would be lying if I said some of the thoughts had never crossed my mind. Have I tried to squash them because I know they are wrong? Sure. But it doesn’t negate the fact they entered into my conscious in the first place.

A THING CALLED LISTENING

So back to the thing I did. First, I re-shared a story on Facebook. The story definitely made me sad. Consequently, it also made me realize racism isn’t reserved just for people in a lower socio-economic class. (For the record, I’m not saying that makes it any better either.) It’s not reserved for a person someone might term as a “thug” (who, by the way, is a human too and it should be noted may just be dressed differently than you).

Nope. It’s happening to PEOPLE with jobs, in nice neighborhoods, raising families. In this case, someone who by the sheer fact of having a skin color darker than my own, causes them to live in fear of taking a walk in their predominantly white neighborhood.

When I shared this story, a friend and former colleague commented on the post about the reality this story is for her family. And admittedly, I felt ashamed. This was a reality I never knew.

We used to work together, her at the Indiana Fever and I at Reebok/adidas. I always enjoyed our working relationship and respected what an amazing person Ashley is. Always hard-working but regardless of the long hours, greeted me with a smile. Inevitably things would go wrong with deliveries or product as they often do in the apparel industry. Gracefully is the word which comes to mind to describe how Ashley would deal with these issues. Communicative, responsive, and always polite even when things were wrong from my end.

But here’s the thing. We had many conversations over the years. Not once did I ever acknowledge the reality of her world lens. By no means am I saying I have some different lens today suddenly showing me this world either. But I’m disappointed in myself for never asking. Moreover, never truly listening to pick up on this.

We both went to Purdue, but our experiences were vastly different. I did not know about this difference in experience until today. Why? Because I finally asked. We talked about it. Years ago, when we discussed our common ground of Purdue, it was from a very different lens. I didn’t ask. Furthermore, I didn’t listen.

ASHLEY’S REALITY I NEVER KNEW

After Ashley’s response to my Facebook post, I didn’t respond immediately. In fact, I had private messages pulled up two times before I finally hit send. I explained to her I really had no idea this was a reality people were living. However, in my effort to listen more, I wanted to talk to her about this. I asked permission to discuss and then write about it. She agreed. As we began, she said:

If you are comfortable enough coming to me, I don’t want to be dismissive. As long as people are listening, how can I be dismissive?

Ashley and her husband, Mauri, live outside of Dallas. She described her neighborhood as older, financially well-off, and very few young families with even fewer families of color. In other words, “we stand out.” Admittedly, this isn’t the first time she has encountered living in a place where she stands out.

She and her mother lived in Geist, a suburb of Indianapolis, for a number of years. Her mother always told her to, “be careful and keep your eyes on your surroundings.” While this may sound common for a mother to say to any child, especially a daughter, this phrase had a very different connotation to it than my own experience. She saw the funny looks given of a black child in this predominantly white area of the city.

Ashley went on to tell me about experiences even more shocking. Her mother is very light skinned. So much so, some of Ashley’s friends have always assumed she was either mixed or white. Not the case. To that end, she told a story about being in the mall. Her mother getting a hello and pleasantries from the staff. However, when Ashley turned down the same aisle to join her mom, the staff approached her suspiciously and even followed her. Ensuring she wasn’t up to something.

A reality I never knew.

MORE REALITY I NEVER KNEW

Mauri is a lawyer. He graduated from Notre Dame, a fact he is both proud of, but also has to use as a shield of protection. He once had co-workers give him a hard time, accusing him of being pretentious for having a Notre Dame law sticker on his car. His response, “you think this is pretentious? I’m a black man in America. This is protection.” The sticker serves as a buffer if he gets pulled over for accidentally running a stop sign or having a taillight out. This may prevent him from getting pulled out of the car for looking “suspicious” or worse. Not only does he know the law, but he can be treated with respect.

A reality I never knew.

This next experience made me tear up. It does even again as I sit here typing this. Hearing her voice. Hearing her little boy’s voice in the background asking if he could watch another Paw Patrol. I asked about the conversations they have with her 4-year-old son, Logan. Once per week, they ask Logan what he should do if the police should ever stop or approach him. He puts his hands up and says, “Hands up, don’t shoot.”

A reality I never knew.

BEING BLACK- THE REALITY

Ashley’s grandfather was a sheriff. Her parents both military. Therefore, this perspective is coming from someone who respects and admires what people out there serving and protecting do for us locally and abroad. But they also have to teach their 4-year-old son the realities of this world and what his skin color could mean. She continued to explain some of their house rules.

No water guns. No play guns in the house. And the difficult conversations she has to have when he is playing at a friend’s house. Logan is not allowed to play with toy guns. As I type this, my two white children and their white neighborhood friend are running around three yards playing with laser tag guns.

This is a reality I never knew.

At all times, being black means being conscious of your surroundings. “You know the feeling you get as a woman walking to your car in a parking garage by yourself? This is the feeling as a black person you get when you walk out your front door.”

The extra vigilance. The extra precautions to make sure you are happy and friendly even if you don’t feel like being happy and friendly to someone.

Ashley and Mauri are flipping a house in a white neighborhood. They take extra precautions to ensure the neighbors know they are there working on the house and not robbing the place. “It is exhausting to constantly ensure people know what we have to offer versus them just being acceptive of who we are.”

A reality I never knew.

RECENT EVENTS

In these past few weeks, Ashley has been brought to tears over the existence of hate in the world. Her son noticed this last week and asked why she was crying. She explained there will be people in his life who may not like him just because of his skin color, “it makes me sad as there are people hurting each other because of this.” Logan jumped to action saying, “Mommy, I will protect you and baby sister! I’m a superhero!”

She cried harder. (and I cried hearing this story for the record.)

The reality is, he’s public enemy #1. It’s more likely they will have to teach their unborn daughter to advocate for him. Be a champion for her older brother. Teach her awareness and how the world will perceive them both.

“She will have to walk home from school with him. Yes, because she’s younger, but also because her being with him makes him be perceived as less of a threat.”

A reality I never knew.

BLACK LIVES MATTER

Let me preface this with, I personally find it offensive to respond to Black Lives Matter with All Lives Matter. Of course they do. That’s not the point. I asked for Ashley’s take on this.

“At a breast cancer walk, would you go in screaming, ALL CANCERS MATTER? Of course not. It’s ridiculous and insensitive to the cause. Same thing here. Sometimes it’s okay to focus on part of a problem not getting enough attention. I think the biggest problem right now is people are too scared to be introspective. It’s HARD to really think about racism. People don’t want to think deeply about themselves, their upbringing, and maybe someone they love having said something hurtful about a race.”

This sometimes-painful introspection leads to avoidance of our own deeper thoughts about the subject. It’s easier to dismiss a phrase than to really think about our own reality. To listen. To make attempts at understanding a reality I never knew.

Yes, all lives matter. But part of our HUMAN race needs attention right now. We, as a society right now, need to focus on the realities of racism against our black friends. Giving some thoughts to not just radical racism because on some level, we’ve hopefully outgrown that. But the micro-aggressions to our friends of color are the reality. And in a lot of ways are more hurtful because micro-aggressions are under a mask of “I’m not a racist.”

But is this reality? Let’s listen.

WHAT CAN WE DO?

As a white family, I asked what we can do.

Honesty.

Broach the conversation.

Ask our children what racism looks like. Make sure they understand it’s not just the big and blatant racism, but micro-aggression through word and subtle action.

Look at our own parent friend group. Is there a bias?

Start soft. Easy examples which can translate for kids to make them understand. An example of this, your child is a soccer player. What would he do if a teammate makes fun of someone for being a basketball player? Making him understand and come to the defense of the basketball player and appreciating their differences. Now translating the scenario into a white and black conversation.

Have conversations in an age appropriate way, but the key here being HAVE THE CONVERSATION. And continue to have the conversation. Encourage your child to not be complacent. Practice scenarios of how they can be an advocate and come to the defense of a friend or even acquaintance if they see them being wronged.

Another thought I found really interesting is to also help your child understand maybe someone else just doesn’t know any better. BUT, in being an advocate, they can be a teacher. Another child making a racist comment or action doesn’t make them inherently a BAD KID, they frankly just don’t know any better. Pointing out the issue and showing them what was wrong may be a step to molding them differently.

“That’s the beauty of being a human.”

Be open and honest. Look inside ourselves and know there are things we don’t understand in this life. While this introspection may be hard, it is absolutely important.

In summary, listen, learn and educate. Realize there is a different reality for others in our own human race. Consequently, I personally have found there is much more to learn on a reality I never knew.

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.  – Maya Angelou

 

SUGGESTED RESOURCES

White Fragility

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THE DEVIL IN COMPARISON

THE DEVIL IN COMPARISON

COMPARISON SHAME

We’re all guilty of it. The “IT” I’m referring to? COMPARISON. You know, the evil thing we do to ourselves when we’re already in a down place. However, for some unknown reason our mind takes us FURTHER down by pulling out ONLY the good someone else has going for them. Consequently, making us feel less than adequate. Oh, the devil in comparison. Even when our rational brain tells us not to do this and there is more to the story, our guilty mom brain takes us there. Blerg.

Last week, I enjoyed an evening of social distance visiting with three fellow mom friends in a parking lot. If you haven’t tried this yet, I highly recommend!

Regardless, I was overcome with a sense of sadness throughout the conversation about what is going on for parents right now. Each expressed the feeling of “not being enough” for instance, whether it came to routine, schoolwork, family meals, engagement beyond video games… You name it, we covered it.

In particular, what intrigued me the most about this conversation was where those feelings REALLY stemmed from. Comparison.

SOCIAL ISOLATION- THE DEVIL IN COMPARISON

One particular comment stuck with me for days. Our school has a Facebook page specifically dedicated to this time of quarantine. For student engagement, we’re encouraged to post images of art, music, gym, and various challenges the school puts out each week. While it’s a great idea for engagement of the kids and keeping up with connection, I think from a parent perspective it may be having an unintentional counterproductive effect. You know, the devil in comparison.

The comment made was something along the lines of, “it’s just so frustrating. I see EVERYONE posting on the Facebook page about these fun activities they are doing with their kids during this time and I feel like a failure. We’re barely staying afloat through the schoolwork and then our own jobs.”

STOP RIGHT THERE! (my best Meatloaf, Paradise by the Dashboard Lights impersonation…. You’re singing it now, aren’t you?!)

Holy smokes, the post is a five-minute snippet into their day! Maybe the parents are doing the activities for their own sanity and are using it like a coffee break from their work. On the other hand, maybe the parents require doing the creative activity to release their own guilt for then allowing a day full of video games. Or it represents a shred of DOING something in this strange time we’re in.

Whatever the case, guilt at the base. Case in point, me.

TAKE ME AWAY- COMPARISON

I posted a few times over the last two months showing a couple of the art projects. My kids have more toys and gadgets than I can count and there has been an overwhelming amount of guilt in me about how the days of E-Learning have gone. Frankly, it’s a mad dash. Hurry through the requirements of E-Learning materials and then off to the races for independent play for the afternoon so Jeremy and I can get SOMETHING done work wise. And those aforementioned toys and gadgets to spark creativity? Zip. It’s video games.

One particular post of mine showed the kids lying on sheets in the yard trying to create a scene for their art project. We (read: me) had this amazingly creative idea of Jake floating away holding balloons on a blue sheet (the sky) while Bryce grabbed his feet from the green sheet (the ground) to save him.

The picture captured both boys laughing. Actually, correction. Jake was making a face that was supposed to look like he was panicked about floating away. In reality, he just looked like he needed to poop. Bryce’s face in savior mode with smiles but you can’t see this because he turned his face into the sheet EVERY…. TIME…. I took a picture. I stood on a chair on our second story deck trying to capture this just right. To clarify, just right includes my 11-year-old barking orders such as, “don’t get the grass in the picture around the blue sheet and balloons mom!” Sure…. Easy enough. Said no one ever.

TAKE ME AWAY- THE REAL STORY

First off, the above scenario was fun, and we did get a good laugh about this project in the five minutes of the photo shoot itself. Second, what the photo doesn’t show is this:

  • Fighting with BOTH of them about doing this art project to begin with. “Do we HAVE TO do this MOM!??!” Response internal: Yes, because I need you to do SOMETHING creative.
  • The initial attempt at this photo in the garage where the ceiling was too low for me to get high enough to get both of them in the shot. I then hit my head on the ceiling while on the ladder sending me into a temporary rage.
  • Bryce stomping up the stairs not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES to go get the blue sheet after me telling him exactly where it was. He came back empty handed each time, but I refused to cave into doing it for him.
  • The two minutes after the picture where the boys desperately wanted me to edit this image in photo shop to take out the grass. In fact, they wanted me to upgrade the program I use so we could enhance the photo more than my free program allows. NOW they were suddenly really into this project they didn’t want to do in the first place, but I no longer had time to participate with a client call starting in four minutes.

Shall I continue?

The Devil in Comparison- two boys pretending to float away with balloons lying on sheets

Art at its finest – balloon boys floating away

YOU ARE ENOUGH

We’re all smart enough to know what we see on social media doesn’t show the whole picture. But if I’ve learned nothing in my time as a mother, it’s still REALLY hard to stop our minds from going there. Furthermore, it’s easier to forget there is a backstory or remembering the five minutes we just saw doesn’t represent their entire 24 hours. Shaming ourselves into believing we aren’t good enough somehow takes less time than rationally thinking through what we’re seeing.

Well my sweet friend, YOU ARE ENOUGH.

It’s ironic, I started this blog article back in January when I planned out the year of cadence and topics. While comparison and competition were to be the topic, the examples within have changed dramatically with our world being flipped upside down. Even so, the take-away remains.

Telling someone to take comparison out of their head is like telling a red head to calm down in the heat of a moment. Good luck. Like when I hit my head on the ceiling while on the ladder…. Good times, good times.

REMOVE THE DEVIL IN COMPARISON

Even so, what are some things you can do to pull yourself out of this mindset of comparison? In fact, REMOVE the devil in comparison.

First, we can continue to remind ourselves social media is a snippet of life. The more we utilize positive self-talk and genuine excitement for others, the more we are able to shift our mindset. There are all sorts of studies around gratefulness and how our mindset changes with a renewed focus towards the positive.

For instance, what if we started a practice of gratitude for someone sharing a snippet into their world? This likely won’t happen overnight, but if we continue to focus on why we are grateful for what someone shared, we will then see a shift in our initial response to a post. In turn, moving from a triggered response of comparison to an auto response of gratitude.

Second, analyze what it is about the comparison really triggering you. So often, we think we should push those thoughts and feelings DEEP DOWN because they are “wrong.” Why not try to give those feelings their moment? Then ask ourself questions around what REALLY is bothering you. Likely, your emotions are trying to get you to realize something. Utilize the intel. Shoving the emotions down are just going to make them come on stronger in the next devil in comparison.

Lastly, view competition differently. Competition can be a good thing. Think about sports. We all love them. They can be healthy. Is there something in your brain gnawing at you with what you are seeing? Could this comparison be inspirational to you? Motivating you to do something you have always wanted to do but it was easier to talk yourself out of rather than take the first step?

IN SUMMARY- THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMMM

We all have our priorities. After analyzing why our head went to the space of comparison, move forward with the intel gained on a new perspective. More importantly, I beg of you to give yourself grace always, but especially in this time of social isolation.

I listened to a podcast the other day by Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx. She has a net worth of over $1 billion dollars and is an absolutely fascinating entrepreneur. Even so, she is married, has four children, and is way more relatable than you may think. When asked her advice for this time of quarantine, parenting, and running a business, her response was this: “Lower your expectations of yourself during this time.”

There you have it. In this world of high achieving, picture perfect social media posting, how about you cut yourself some slack. You are enough. Look the devil in comparison in the eye and tell him, YOU ARE ENOUGH.

Don’t compare yourself with anyone in this world. If you do so, you are insulting yourself.

Bill Gates

 

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IT COULD BE WORSE

IT COULD BE WORSE

BUT IT COULD ALSO BE BETTER….

First off, let’s talk about what is going on right now in the world? It could be worse, but it could also be better. I’m an extrovert through and through so this whole stay home thing is having more of an effect on me than I originally thought it ever would.

I had a conversation with a friend about how I feel like a phony. For the Seinfeld fans out there… like when Mike Moffitt tells Kramer that Jerry Seinfeld is a phony? YEP, THIS! Consequently, I have been training for situations like this for the last year. To be a coach. Trained to change mindset. Furthermore, to know how to deal with personal controversy and shift not only a client’s energy, but my own as well.

On the other hand, here we are. For the last few weeks, I have sucked. Particularly when it comes to patience, which I have had zero. Last week’s two days of E-Learning can SUCK IT. You may be sitting there thinking, “yes Heather, but there are 5 days in the week, so 2 isn’t THAT bad.” Subsequently I will tell you, we technically only had 3 days of E-Learning last week. In short, blowing up 2 out of 3 days is not a great batting average.

The texts I sent to some of the other parents when the Zoom link didn’t work were downright terrible. Make a sailor blush kind of language and I didn’t give a s***. So frustrating. I am a college educated, in the work force for 20+ years person and this shouldn’t be this complicated kind of exhaustion and pissed off-ed-ness…. I’m fully aware this is not proper English, let alone writing etiquette. But for the Love of Sweet Jesus, who is with me???

REFLECTION

In spite of this, I took time to reflect on where these emotions, such as the anger, were coming from. To summarize, I think we’re all hesitant to say just how truly frustrating all of this is because it could be so much worse. Correct, it could be worse, but it could also be better. I mean…. We’re not sending our kids off to war and standing helplessly by. Nope. And for God’s sake I’m not comparing having to stay quarantined in my beautiful home with my healthy children, fun-loving husband, plenty of food, and amenities beyond my own comprehension to THAT. Abso-frickin’-lutely not.

Nor am I comparing my own cushy situation to a single parent family not knowing how on Earth they are going to get by another day of juggling on their own. Or the family not sure where the next meal is going to come from without school to take the strain off of two meals in a day. Nope, not that either.

In our effort to fully acknowledge we could have it SOOOOO much worse, I think we’re forgetting something. And here it is. It is OKAY to get frustrated about the current situation and ACKNOWLEDGE it.

Yep, I promise. It is. Me saying I am frustrated as HELL with Class DoJo and Canvas and Lexia and DreamBox and… and… all of the zillion other programs we’re trying to keep straight in a day, not to mention our routine being flipped upside down and it sucks, is absolutely okay. This does not make me uncompassionate about others dealing with their own frustrations. Acknowledgement of the frustrating moments or the various emotions we’re feeling actually supports us in moving through them.

The Mom Huddle- It Could Be Worse- Not Today Covid19 sign

ACKNOWLEDGING IT COULD BE WORSE

Admittedly, this is what has been keeping me up at night. It should be noted, sleep has never been an issue for me. For this reason, when I started to have these sleepless nights it was definitely time to reflect. In this case, sleeplessness had very little to do with the state of the world. Sure, I’m worried about the world, but in general I have a very “this too shall pass” attitude. Always have.

I broke this down for myself and asked the tough question. Why am I in such a funk about this and so frustrated?? The answer definitely surprised me in a lot of ways. Guilt. Guilt over feeling I didn’t have the right to be frustrated. Even guilt over being frustrated with my own children, husband, school, routine disruption, all the things going on right now when in my heart of hearts, I know there are others who have it so much worse.

This is where “phony” really started to set in. I spend a lot of my days now listening to people. In general, I listen to people and regurgitate back to them what they said to me so they can listen to themselves. And when this happens, there is an epiphany. True story. I may have just given away the secret of coaching!! Moreover, here’s the even crazier part…. Coaching will always be around because people in general don’t listen. ESPECIALLY to themselves. For this example, case in point…. Me.

You phony… you can’t even get your own mindset right about this. How can you REALLY support others in doing so? 

SHIFTING

I feel as though I have the tools and mechanisms to support people in shifting mindset, setting goals, and working through their blocks. With a number of my clients right now, we talk through how they feel about things going on in the world. Shifting their mindset from a negative outlook to one of opportunity and focusing on where they DO have choices. Despite the positive mindset, we are not shoving the worry and anxiety of things going on in the world down deep… that does no good. Alternatively, we look to acknowledge the feeling, decide what is within our control about the situation, and then create action. All while setting the anxiety and worry on the shelf, not shoved in a closet.

While I coach on this, in the same way, I was not even listening to myself. I literally sucked at listening for the last week. To be fair, probably longer because in some ways the thoughts and feelings on the current state of affairs were just shoved down and masked with positivity. Last but not least, when the true feelings came out, they did so with the vengeance of Medusa caused by a 5th grade class Zoom call fail. 

And if you were anywhere near my office last Wednesday….. #$%^&*$%^&*%^&*%^&* is basically what you heard every ten minutes or so. I hope you are laughing, and this is resonating with you in an “OH MY GOSH, ME TOO” way.

Optimism isn’t believing nothing bad will happen. It’s about believing in your ability to handle it when it does.  – Mel Robbins

FINDING PEACE- YOUR VERSION

With this in mind, what CAN we do about these frustrating moments? It’s important to me to give you take-aways. Truth be told though; you should take these and make a version that works for you. I’ll give you thoughts, but each scenario is unique. As a result, I encourage you to use this as a launching pad to think about what YOU want during this time.

Patience.

I’m kidding! This was to see if you were still paying attention. Of course, we want to have patience!! However, telling someone to have patience when they are in the middle of an E-Learning lesson with a child scrolling UP and DOWN, UP and DOWN while they try to read the instructions – well, it’s going to go over like a turd in a punchbowl. Just ask my husband, he’s still licking his wounds. Do your personal best. And if personal best in a moment means walking away or giving them a smack over the head…. So be it.

Reflect on what you need.

Take a few minutes to reflect on what you desire or need in a day. Do you crave 30 minutes of alone time? How can you make this happen? Take a walk. Put in earbuds with loud music and close yourself in the bathroom. Make everyone go to bed 30 minutes earlier.

What does this look like for you and what is one small action step you can implement to get there? It should be noted, make these small steps. As humans, we don’t typically go from couch potato to marathon runner in a week. In this same manner, set your mini goal up with success in mind.

EXPECTATIONS AND GRACE

Re-set your expectations.

A lot of the women I’ve talked to over the last month had one interesting thing in common. There is this overwhelming urge to ACHIEVE during this time. Easy there sister. You may not have a commute right now or your work may have slowed. In spite of this, you have the added pieces of facilitating schoolwork from your kids’ teachers, making meals and 35 snacks in a day, maybe sleeping in a little bit, probably utilizing some time to play more games or have more family fun. I’m the QUEEN of projects so believe me, I get it.

However, know there are some intangibles right now you may overlook as things taking up time. In turn, give yourself space and level set your expectation on all the “should be doings” with what you actually want to do with this time.

Finally, Grace.

There will be bad days. The biggest take-away for me through this last month is being okay with a bad day. I don’t have to feel guilt over being frustrated or losing my cool as long as I’m trying. My frustrated feelings do not diminish the real problems of the world, but rather make me human. Give yourself grace when it comes to your thoughts and feelings. Not only grace, but acknowledge them.

The Mom Huddle- It Could Be Worse Pandemic pic of boys putting hearts on neighbors door

Jake & Bryce decorated the neighbor’s door with hearts to cheer them up!

IT COULD BE WORSE, BUT IT COULD ALSO BE BETTER

This too shall pass and it hasn’t been all bad. In fact, I’ve had some really surprisingly fun moments with my family throughout. So much so, I want to figure out a way to have more of those moments when we go back to a normal existence.

In summary, I leave you with this challenge. With the benefit of hindsight, think of one thing you will NOT be adding back into your normal when the world opens up again. It’s amazing to think about what we enjoy not being a part of our day-to-day right now. Why add it back in? Likewise, think of one thing you WILL add into your new normal which was a nice surprise coming out of your mandated staycation?

Stay safe, stay sane, and support each other!

 

Some days, doing ‘the best we can’ may still fall short of what we would like to be able to do, but life isn’t perfect – on any front – and doing what we can with what we have is the most we should expect of ourselves or anyone else.  –  Mister Rogers

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