25 posts categorized "WOMEN"

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" »

December 17, 2013

“Mean” Women Hurt All Women: We Can Do Better

IStock_000015790066_ExtraSmallHow is it that women can be one woman’s best friend one minute and another woman’s worst enemy the next? In my Junior High School years I felt that I had to prove my worth by the way I looked, how many boys liked me or how many friends I had. I have no interest in re-living those years—literally or figuratively. Nor do I want other women to have to relive them in their adult years, either. It’s time for women to stop feeling threatened by one another and instead start supporting one another. I’m all for healthy competition and striving to be your best, however doing so by stomping on others is the last thing we need in our world today. 

Too often inherent in competition is attacking (“She’s such a witch”), jealousy (“She thinks she’s little miss wonderful”) and mean spiritedness (“Can you believe that he actually likes her?!”). Some women find their sense of worth by squashing the women around them. They attack other women because they don’t have a strong sense of self and they see other women as a threat. If you’re one of these women then trust me, squashing every other woman in the world is not going to help you in the long run. There will always be another woman who is smarter, more talented, prettier or more (fill in the blank) than you. You can’t squash every woman. Besides, the truth is, the other women are not the problem. The problem is within you. 

Continue reading "“Mean” Women Hurt All Women: We Can Do Better" »

May 29, 2013

A Cheat Sheet for Women Who Are Ready to “Step Up”

  IStock_00strong woman

  1. Learn to love yourself. It all starts here. If you don’t love yourself, you will not be able to stand up for yourself in any real way. Quit the negative self-talk, stop trying to be perfect, let go of micromanaging, and refuse to put yourself down. If you want to work on yourself, great…just do that without beating yourself up in the process.
  2. If you want to be treated as an equal, act as an equal. Know that you deserve to be treated as an equal rather than complaining that you’re not or wishing you were. When you really know it, you will step into situations differently and others will know it as well.
  3. Stop allowing the most dysfunctional person in the room to run the show. Ducking, pleading, begging, silencing or even yelling doesn’t stop bad behavior. Refuse to allow fear to keep you imprisoned by the crazy behaviors of others. Take action.
  4. Clean it up. Clean up your side of the fence. Find your Grounded Powerful Strength (GPS) and don’t ever excuse, justify or rationalize an aggressive strength. Be calm, grounded, strong and respectful…even in the face of disrespect.
  5. Don’t look to others for answers you have within yourself. No one is more of an expert on your life than you. Trust yourself, listen to your instincts and dare to make your own decisions or share your opinions when warranted. 
  6. Tune in and make things happen. Pay attention to what you want, what’s not working and what’s missing from your life and start to take the steps necessary to create the changes your soul knows you need to make. Don’t waste another three years hoping things will change or playing victim to your life.
  7. Refuse to put others and the world ahead of you. Find the balance of self-care and other care. If you’re a mother, don’t neglect your children or yourself. Spiritually, emotionally and physically feed both. Don’t work so hard that there’s nothing left for you, your family or life. Find moderation in all things and be humble enough to know when you’ve tipped the scales and be courageous enough to recalibrate.
  8. Don’t give up your dreams for the dreams of others—find room for both. If you have a dream, find a way to make it happen. Partner with others who will hold that dream with you...not squash it on their way to reach their own.
  9. Stop the desperation!!! Do not lose your soul for the sake of romance. Walk in your romantic relationships with the same GPS with which you have to walk in life. Don’t accept crumbs because you don’t want to be alone. Don’t have sex in order to get someone and don’t become a female “player” because you have somehow justified that sleeping around is your sexual right. Please. Cut the crap and have more self-respect than that. If you don’t respect you, don’t expect anyone else to.
  10. Stand up and step in. Don’t silently accept the unacceptable and then be hurt, wounded or resentful that the behavior continues. Learn to find your voice and have your back at work, at home and in life. If you don’t have your own back, don’t be upset when no one else does, either.

Women, you have the power to create change on a very grand scale if you dare to step up and step in. Know you are equal to every other human being on this planet and walk in the world as an equal. Don’t duck, placate, yell, scream, beg or plead. Simply use your voice, set your limits, surround yourself with a healthy, supportive “tribe” and confidently step in. We are making leaps and bounds entrepreneurially, it’s time to make leaps and bounds interpersonally. 

Challenge: Look over the list above and choose two points on which you know you have to work...and work them. Be deliberate, consistent and focused. When you have these down, move to the next two.


February 06, 2013

Find The Courage... and Believe in Yourself

IStock_00strong womanToo many people don’t believe. We don’t believe we’re smart enough, attractive enough, strong enough, fun enough or…simply…enough. We doubt our strength, we doubt our abilities and we doubt ourselves. When others make fun of us, treat us poorly or take advantage, we assume it’s because somewhere inside we’re defective and so we don’t challenge the integrity and character of the other person.

It’s time to start challenging.

Too many of us have no idea what we’re truly capable of. Too many of us sell ourselves short. Teenagers allow bullies to decide their fate, women allow men to determine their worth and employees allow bosses to take advantage. As long as this continues, bullies will continue to bully, men will decide which women are worthy and bosses will continue to take advantage. This doesn’t happen because they’re stronger, brighter or more worthy. It happens because too many of us think we are not.  This lack of faith in one’s self is killing far too many men, women and children. It’s harming our communities and it’s sucking the life out of too many amazing human beings.

It’s time to find the courage

Continue reading "Find The Courage... and Believe in Yourself" »

January 29, 2013

Women: Listen to and Be Kind to…YOU

IStock_0NOThere are times when I can feel myself get incredibly frustrated with the choices so many women make about what they accept in their lives.  Although I realize that many women (myself included) are raised from an early age to be nice, look good, not make waves, listen to other people (parents, fathers, men, those in authority) and on and on, there comes a time when women have to learn to stop doing what we’re told. At some point women have to stop listening to others, placating others and being “nice” to others to the detriment of ourselves.

Women will benefit when we slow down and think for ourselves. We are stronger, wiser, happier and in better jobs and relationships when we ask ourselves if what’s going on feels okay to us. Too many women, instead, ask if what’s going on is a problem for the other person. Too many of us think that if our boss, boyfriend, spouse or friend is yelling at us, maybe it’s because we really did do something wrong and deserve it. Instead of trusting the voice in our head that says it’s not okay to be yelled at for any possible mistake, we start asking our friends and family if they think it was okay that the person yelled, made fun of or lied to us. We wonder if our expectations are too stringent and we begin to gradually and steadily train ourselves to doubt ourselves.

Continue reading "Women: Listen to and Be Kind to…YOU" »

October 10, 2012

Are You Sabotaging Your Relationships?

IStock_0caretaking womanllI hear from women all the time about how badly they want to have a good romantic relationship.  They want to feel close to their partner, do fun things together and have interesting conversations and feel emotionally supported by their partner.  Most women tell me the reason they don’t have these things is because…well, it’s because of their partner.  They say their partner won’t talk, doesn’t like to share, hates it when she gets emotional and would rather be at work or left alone then to actually sit and hang out with her. 

Not surprisingly, this is only half the story. 

The other half of the story is what the women are doing that is getting in the way of them getting what they want.  Below are several ways women sabotage the connection in their romantic relationships. 
Too many women often:
1.    Start relationships under false pretenses.  Women often think that the way to “get” a man is to be everything they think the men want them to be.  This is crazy thinking since at some point the women will either have to stop the façade and be themselves or eventually lose themselves.  When you start off a relationship pretending to be something you’re not, you’ve already sabotaged your relationship. You can’t have emotional intimacy when you’re faking who you are.
2.    Use a wall of words.  Most women have a strong desire to want to be heard and struggle when those round them don’t listen.  In an effort to be heard, therefore, some women excessively talk.  As the women talk more, the men tune them out and when the men tune them out, the women increase their talking.  The women think that if they just said it the right way the men would listen.  The excessive talking has the opposite effect of what the women want and in effect puts a wall of words between them and their partners.
3.    See too many things through a critical lens.  I see countless women in my practice constantly tweaking those around them.  Women do this in an effort to get things to be better, however, the constant criticism does anything but get things better.  In the quest for perfection, women end up sabotaging the good things they do have.  How a dishwasher is loaded does not really matter in the grand scheme of things.  If women continue to tell the men in their lives how to cook, how to clean, how to dress, how to talk and how to be, they will lose the men.  No one wants to constantly be told how to do things better.  A critical lens is about you not the other person.  Get over your need for perfection and instead deal with your internal anxiety.

Continue reading "Are You Sabotaging Your Relationships?" »

July 10, 2012

We Are Not Perfect: Replacing Judgments With Compassion

IStock_00contemptllWhile on vacation, I found myself tuning in to the various people all around me.  Some people were strangers and some weren’t.  It was interesting to listen to the moment-to-moment interactions of our world.  I was struck by how much people comment about one another and how often these comments are unkind.

We humans seem to almost unconsciously rate one another, and in effect, rate ourselves as well.  There’s nothing like feeling better about our own weight when we see someone else a little heavier, wider or flabbier than ourselves.  What better way to feel relief about my bad hair day than seeing someone else’s hair looking worse than mine.  If Joe Stranger is snapping at his partner, then I get to feel better about my own partner.  Rating others can almost feel like an esteem boost for our own selves. 

Only it’s not.

Being critical and judgmental of the mistakes, clothing choices, life choices, etc., of others, leads me to be more anxious, judgmental and contemptuous of my own.  I wonder what it would be like if we humans truly tried to treat others as we would want them to treat us?  Besides it being a huge challenge in mindfulness, the truth is...it feels good. How do I know that?  Because when I’m able to see someone’s mistake as simply being part of his or her humanity, I find myself feeling a little better about my own humanity.  It’s as though giving someone else a reprieve for his or her foibles in turn gives me a reprieve.

Continue reading "We Are Not Perfect: Replacing Judgments With Compassion" »

May 14, 2012

Sometimes You Have To Yell To Be Heard…or Do You?

IStock_0womanyellingat manllBelow is an excerpt from a recent note I received from a woman:
“…If I remain calm and peaceful he takes it as a sign that he can walk all over me. Us women are so conditioned to take it all with a calm and sweet smile. What kind of world have we created for our daughters and us? Women in general are still dealing with a lot of oppression and inequality in our society. I do not know one woman that has not suffered from it in one way or another-- being bullied at home, on the street, at work, at school, a man controlling, belittling, not regarding women as equal, but something to dominate and manipulate. You are very fortunate if your husband does not take advantage of your calm composure. Many of us will only have to endure more laughing in our face and more oppression if we do not stand up, rock the boat and claim or human rights, whispering or screaming, ‘Enough! I can’t take this any more.’”

In my work with women over the years I have heard this sentiment over and over again.  In fact, I see this sentiment play out all over the world with both men and women.  In general, when people get angry they either bully through people with their anger or duck in the face of anger.  Some people duck then bully.  The end result is people behaving in the extremes.  Behaving in the extremes, though, is not helping us.  When we bully, we’re being abusive and when we’re ducking we’re allowing ourselves to be abused.  Neither of these responses is okay or effective.

It is true that women do indeed need to rock the boat.  It is also true that women continue to this day to be bullied, gawked at, controlled, belittled and treated as anything but equals by far too many people in the world.  It is not true, however, that women yelling about it is going to change anything.  In my work with women and couples, I see far too many women doing nothing but yelling…and it is NOT working.  If women scream and yell that they can’t take it anymore -- and then they stay there and take it -- their words mean nothing. 

Continue reading "Sometimes You Have To Yell To Be Heard…or Do You?" »

April 09, 2012

The Ties That Bind Us

IStock_00fakesmilemallIn my work with women throughout the years, I’ve found many beliefs that keep women down.  Some of these beliefs have come from our up-bringing, some have come from our culture and some have come from our own internal processes.  Until women begin to look at these beliefs and truly challenge them, we will likely continue to struggle in far too many relationships in our lives.

Below are the five most common beliefs that I believe wreak havoc in the lives of women today:
1.    Women need to be nice.  From birth, women are constantly told to be “nice.”  We’re told to not hurt anyone’s feelings, put a smile on, make people comfortable, etc.  The problem with this message is that “nice” ends up meaning to sacrifice one’s self for the greater good of everyone else.  Sacrificing ourselves so others feel okay is a crazy notion that is hurting women and our culture at large.  Until women learn to stand up for ourselves, we are destined to pay a heavy price.
2.    Women need a man to feel worthy/okay/complete.  From a young age, the pressure on females to have a boyfriend and, later, a husband is enormous.  For some reason, our world leads us to believe that the attention of males in some way legitimizes the worthiness of females.  This is crazy and dangerous thinking that sets young girls and women up to be abused and taken advantage of in relationships.  Until females are taught to believe in themselves in their own right, we will continue to have far too many crimes against women.  A man does not complete a woman.  She was already complete long before the man came along.  A man (if he’s a good man) simply adds to her life and vice-a-versa.

Continue reading "The Ties That Bind Us" »

April 04, 2012

Women And The Quest For Perfection

IStock_0perfectlAs a human being, I am acutely aware that mistakes are a part of life.  I will make mistakes, my friends will make mistakes, my family members will make mistakes, the people who work for me will make mistakes and even my mentors will make mistakes.  This is an inevitable part of life.  As a women, parent, friend, wife, business owner, leader, mentor etc., you need to know that mistakes happen to the best of us…and no one is immune. 

It will serve you well when you can learn to accept this aspect of life rather than getting freaked out by it.

Too many women expect perfection.  Women across the board put an enormous amount of pressure on themselves and their loved ones to reach extremely high goals with few, if any, mistakes along the way.  When a mistake is made or an unrealistic goal isn’t met, women often begin to micro-manage others to ensure additional mistakes are not made.  They hover over their children doing their homework, re-load the dishwasher that was “improperly” loaded or simply take on everything in the house so they can do it “right”. Doing everything right or perfect, of course, is an impossible feat—given that we are all human--resulting in an overstressed mother, a resentful wife and a tense home environment.

In their quest for perfection, women may become harsher and more critical in response to mistakes.  Not surprisingly, this reaction creates more mistakes because children become disempowered, nervous and afraid of their mom’s reactions.  Ironically, the woman’s attempt to minimize mistakes simply makes them grow exponentially with each of her punitive responses.

In life it will serve not only you, but also those around you as well to learn to accept that we are each imperfect.  Imperfection is one of the inevitable aspects of our humanity.  There is nothing we can do to change this reality.  No matter how hard you, as a woman, try, your children try or your partner tries…mistakes will happen.  You will make mistakes and so will those around you. 

Know that mistakes are not the problem.  The problem is their aftermath -- people defending, rationalizing or passing off their mistakes onto someone else.  Mistakes are often your greatest learning opportunity.  Instead of shaming your children for making mistakes—teach them to learn from them. Instead of assuming your way to load the dishwasher is the only right way—try making room for the “right” way of others. 

Breathe.  Relax.  Let go.

Stop demanding perfection.  Perfection is an impossible feat for you, your family or any human being on this planet.  See mistakes as learning opportunities rather than proof of incompetency, laziness or stupidity.  If the same person is making the same mistakes again and again—then worry.  Until then, normalize mistakes, learn from them and allow those around you the space to be imperfect…even if mistakes will be made along the way.

Challenge: As a woman, look at the extraordinary demands you put on yourself and those around you.  Begin to loosen the reigns on both.  The next time you or a loved one makes a mistake…PAUSE…BREATHE…and refuse to shame.  Look at the gift in that mistake and learn from it.

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