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4 posts from January 2014

January 29, 2014

Amazing Grace: One Family's Story

Schickel familyEvery once in a while I see examples of amazing grace and strength in the face of what appears to me to be insurmountable hardship. This past year has been one of those times for me. Last January, Elizabeth Schickel, a 15 year old high school student and athlete, was struggling with headaches. She had been a starting Freshman on her high school’s varsity girls soccer team, which had finished with a winning soccer season. She was a vibrant girl experiencing her first high school year, so it was easy for an outsider to think the headaches were likely due to stress and she would be fine. The headaches continued, however, and more symptoms began to show up. Soon my daughter informed me that Elizabeth was going in for more tests. 

In January 2013 Elizabeth was diagnosed with brain cancer. And here is where the journey of amazing grace and tremendous strength began.

Elizabeth and her family have battled with her brain cancer over the past year. She has been through surgery, chemo, countless visit to doctors, loss of hair, more chemo, loss of balance, more doctor visits, loss of hearing, more visits, loss of eye sight…and more visits. Throughout this time, Elizabeth and her family have been an incredibly powerful example -- to me and countless others -- of how to walk through one of life’s most difficult journeys with grace and love. 

Continue reading "Amazing Grace: One Family's Story" »

January 23, 2014

Changing Me, Changes We: Taking Control of Your Life

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There are countless women all over the world settling for poor relationships, bad jobs and unfulfilling lives.

  • Sally is in her third long-term, miserable romantic relationship with yet another man who has issues with anger and control.
  • Karen feels like a demanding boss, a crazy work schedule and a toxic work environment have sucked the life out of her.
  • Leigh can’t believe she’s stayed in her emotionally cold marriage for 20 years.

All these women -- and countless more -- can’t believe they’ve ended up where they have. Many of them are lonely, overworked, tired and resentful. They’re resentful that the people in their lives don’t treat them better. They’re angry that the years have trickled by with little change and they’re sad that somewhere along the way they have lost themselves.

What many of these women don’t know, though, is that the only one responsible for getting them where they are is themselves. What they don’t know is that they, and only they, have the power to change things. They don’t realize that their utter focus on changing those around them has resulted in those women staying stuck themselves.

The more they tried to “make” others be kinder, softer, more available, the more time they wasted. The more they tried to work longer hours for their crazy boss, bow down to their spouse’s rage and over-accommodate for their lover’s short-comings, the more they sabotaged their dreams. The more they sabotaged their dreams, the more they lost themselves. And the more they lost themselves, the more hopeless, angry and resentful they became.

Women without number find themselves repeating toxic patterns in their relationships. They end up with the “same” guy, who just happens to have a different name or with the same job, but in a different company. Many of these women saw the same warning flags well before they got involved with man or job number one, two and three. Some didn’t see any red flags until they were deeply entrenched, at which time it became difficult to disentangle. All of the women let things go too far, get too bad and last too long.

The hard reality that all women would benefit from hearing is this: You’re responsible for your happiness. You determine your life. You create your future. When things aren’t the way you’d like them to be, you are responsible for changing them. Continually trying to get others to change their moves is the quickest way to sabotage your future. Get your eyes off the other person and back on you.

  • If your partner rages… change your response to his rage.
  • If your boss demands 24/7 attention…don’t buy in, look for another job, set limits or do all of the above.
  • If you’re controlling, critical and perfectionistic…learn to let go and be more compassionate.
  • If your date flirts with other women…recognize the red flags early and move on.

It’s an act of courage and takes enormous strength for a person to be accountable for their mistakes, imperfections and struggles. I challenge women across the world to step into this level of accountability and to take full ownership of their happiness. Neither blaming others for causing our pain nor looking to others to solve our pain serves women. When women learn to effectively step into the world in a new way, their world will change. Get grounded, not reactive; powerful, not aggressive, and strong, not helpless. Rely on yourself for change and stop looking to others to make you happy.

Challenge: If you’re unhappy, courageously look at yourself and how you’re sabotaging your happiness. Step into your life differently and take control of your destiny. 

 

January 16, 2014

Divorcing with Integrity

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The divorce rate has been hovering around fifty percent for many years in the United States. As many of you know, divorce is often a very painful process for all involved, even in the most amicable of situations. In those divorces that aren’t amicable, the damage done is hard to fathom. This is especially true in those divorces where children are involved. I can think of no worse example of this than a recent incident in Florida in which a mother is alleged to have shot and killed her two teenage children and then turned the gun on herself. Allegedly, the mother was under extreme duress about the divorce and the father’s alleged unwillingness to provide child support, alimony or anything else (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/fla-mom-allegedly-kills-teens-murder-suicide-cops-article-1.1579512).

Although I don’t know what the “truth” is in this case, I do know that many people go through divorce angry, bitter and determined to “get” the other person. I have seen countless couples emotionally bash one another throughout the divorce process, attempt to get every last cent from the other person and try to make the other person hurt as they themselves hurt. These maneuvers cause nothing but more pain for families already reeling from the loss of family as they knew it.

Continue reading "Divorcing with Integrity" »

January 08, 2014

How Did I End Up Here?

IStock_000002084023_ExtraSmallWhen girls are young and first beginning to explore relationships, they often have big visions. They’re certain their “soulmate” is out there somewhere and they can’t wait to meet their best friend, lover, confidante and life partner. They dream of laughing with someone who gets their jokes, sharing their biggest secrets with someone who will hold those secrets in the greatest of confidence and of holding hands with someone who holds them in the highest regard. 

Through the years, though, things change. These young girls grow up to be women. They have met countless frogs along the way and they have stopped imagining that they would meet their prince. They learned that what they looked like is far more important than who they are. They stopped laughing as much, sharing their opinions as much or expecting as much as they did before. They learned to settle for less than they ever thought they would. No longer do they believe they will meet their soulmate -- or that there even is such a thing. The men they’ve met along the way don’t like to talk about their dreams, laugh at their jokes or hold them in high regard. In fact, over the years, the women continued to lower their expectations and the men they met seemed, coincidentally, to barely meet even these expectations. 

With each relationship that didn’t pan out, the bar was lowered for the next one. Soon the bar was so low that the women couldn’t believe what they had learned to settle for. Their vision went from finding their soulmate and a man who loved, cherished and honored them to finding…a man. Some women though did meet men who seemed great, yet, somewhere along the way the relationship started to go down hill. Regardless of whether they found a great guy or a not so great guy, once they found a man, their next task became keeping him. They began to believe that, in order to keep a man, they had to learn to pretend to be happy. They couldn’t complain about something they didn’t like or the men would say they were nagging. The women couldn’t ask for more emotional connection because then they would be accused of being needy and the men would give them even less of their attention. The women learned to stay silent when the men became angry because to not do so would mean having to deal with an even greater wrath of anger. 

Continue reading "How Did I End Up Here?" »

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