ONCE…NOW…ALWAYS…I AM WOMAN!

As we celebrate another International Women’s Day, I came across the following program note I wrot

Our History, Our Sorrow!

Can I tell you my worst nightmare? So we think we live in the best and most civilized society. But,

Learning to Love Yourself

(Even the Shadows) Maybe hate is a strong word, but you get the gist. Who among us doesn’t believe

 

ONCE…NOW…ALWAYS…I AM WOMAN!

March 8, 2017 in Article

As we celebrate another International Women’s Day, I came across the following program note I wrote in 1992 for a multi-ethnic visual and performance art show in Sacramento. I share it below:

“I never forget. But making that statement serves to remind, reaffirm and empower. When we, as members of this society, must have a special time allocated to acknowledge our existence, our contributions, our presence, it is a sad confirmation that WOMEN truly are not regarded as an equal part of our community.

I am grateful that Sojourner Truth, despite her illiteracy, was able to walk away from slavery. She had had enough! Rose Parks had had enough. She knew she belonged on the bus, not just the back of the bus; and she too, had the courage and the strength to say – no more!

The Women’s Movement have done a lot, but not nearly enough. There are women of color who are still struggling with very basic issues of mere survival. These issues are not adequately addressed by the “Movement.” in a way that will make the needed difference. We have to be prepared and willing to re-evaluate our priorities – we have to take back our power.

The challenges of the 21st century can be taken to our bosoms, and through our nurturing energies, we can find solutions.

If you and I, as sisters, (and I do mean sisters in the truest sense), have the courage to walk away from injustices…To support each other; to hear each other; to listen to each other; to open our hearts to the freedom that is ours. We too, can say NO MORE!!

When we are ready to say no more, we can provide a better world for our boys to become men, our men to grow to a golden age, our feminine strengths can collectively lead us all to a richer, more fulfilling life.

In putting this show together, I was comforted by the unconscious might of all the women with whom I have come in contact. The camaraderie and willingness to share, comes, I believe, from the similarities of each woman’s personal struggle. We really are more alike than we are different! That commonality is the thread that binds us together. We come from different walks of life, but the name is the same – Mother, Sister, Lover, Friend – W-O-M-A-N!

Thank you one and all for your participation! The creative energy could be our salvation…Creativity is without boundaries.”

The time of the feminine is even more ripe today. Our collective energies are needed to save our Mother Earth, our children, grand and great grand children, and every living being.. In the process of saving, we will, by default, save our men and have them take a look at their masculine energies, and decide how they can use their power in a co-creative dance for the good. The yin and the yang must collaborate within us so outwardly the manifestations will be evident.

We are stronger, more creative, more power-filled when we acknowledge our individual gifts, and use those responsibly for the betterment of ALL.

Now that we’re in 2017 and so much is happening to test our nurturing.

Women have been changing the world. We are now called to step up and step out more boldly!

What are your thoughts? I would be most interested to have your comments.

Our History, Our Sorrow!

March 8, 2015 in Uncategorized

Can I tell you my worst nightmare?

So we think we live in the best and most civilized society.

But, in fact, if we dig deeply we can see lots of inequities.

And we have different celebrations to make us feel better about what ails us.

Women have been the underclass that’s caged by society and they (we) break down barriers, glass ceilings, barbed wire fences and anything that dares to keep us stuck.

Yeah.

We keep on stepping.

History does not lie. We are survivors. We rise, and we thrive!

happy-womens-day-greeting-card_Mk9wScPu_Fotor

And yet, every March, when we celebrate Women’s History Month, we are plagued, inundated, besieged with all the inequities that still exist in, not only these United States of America, but around the world.

It’s brought to our attention how many babies are being fucked by men old enough to be their grand fathers!

I’m calling it what it is, and I don’t care about culture in this instance.

The thought of an innocent little girl being defiled by her “husband” her father, her brother, her uncle, or anyone who does not recognize her body as sacred, pisses me off!

You too, should be pissed off! If you’re not..why not?

It’s only when we get mad enough that we can generate that anger into something worthwhile. Into a force that can rise up, raise hell and make a difference.

Right now I am using my fingers, and you will see the images of the letters on a page.

Stop and pretend it’s your baby that’s been defiled.

How does that make you feel? Stay with it and feel the anger rising up from your gut. If you are not angry at the image, you really need to check yourself.

The World Health Organization estimates there will be more than one hundred and forty million girls under the age of 15 who will be married between now and 2020.

The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network indicates that one in six women in America will be the victim of sexual assault. They further indicate that 15% of sexual assault and rape victims are under 12.

Human trafficking has a figure of over 27 million worldwide, and most of those are women and children. The only reason for this is the financial gains.

The unintended consequences of these abuse are drug abuse and addiction, psychological, mental and physical trauma, incarceration, low self esteem, self hatred, depression, attempted suicide and the ultimate – suicide.

This is simply a miniscule smidge about the improprieties and unjust treatment of women the world over.

I bring it to the fore so if even one person chooses to do their research and do something about it, our girls can grow up to be well adjusted women, make their mark in the world and make a difference.

My worst nightmare is that any of my three grand-daughters would be subjected to any abuse of this kind. I want to protect them, and I also want to protect every little girl. I want them to have their childhood, their innocence, and be free, and safe.

As we celebrate this month of Women’s history, let us make an effort to educate ourselves about these injustices, and get mad enough to do something about it.

I invite our upstanding men who are teaching their daughters and their sons, to also show their outrage in stamping out these abuses.

We are, after all, women, and men. We are outraged, and we want to give hope to our youngsters. We are phenomenal. Let’s prove our might by taking action.  Spread the word!

Here are some useful websites:

www.ChildrenoftheNight, 24-hour hotline, (800)-551-1300

www.rainn.org, 24 hour hotline (800-656-4673 (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)

www.who.int (World Health Organization)

http://www.thehotline.org/ Domestic Violence, 24 hour hotline (800) 799 7233

 

 

Learning to Love Yourself

July 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

(Even the Shadows)

Maybe hate is a strong word, but you get the gist.

Who among us doesn’t believe that with a little tweaking, we could be just right—self-realized, self-actualized and self-helped to just short of perfection? But, the problem for many is that all the books, self-improvement tips and positive affirmations don’t seem to make us any happier. Worst of all, the minute we “fix” one ugly piece of ourselves, another nasty monster rears it head and starts screaming for attention.

“Believing that something is wrong with us is a deep and tenacious suffering,” writes Tara Brach, in her book, Radical Acceptance. “The more we anxiously tell ourselves stories about how we might fail or what is wrong with us or with others, the more we deepen the grooves—the neural pathways—that generate feelings of deficiency.” She lists common ways people try to manage this pain of inadequacy:

•  Withdrawing from our experience of the present moment.

•  Becoming our own worst critics.

•  Anxiously embarking on one self-improvement project after another.

Accepting ourselves does not mean self-indulgence or being passive. Rather it means turning off the shameful, negative, self-loathing tapes within ourselves and just relaxing. The blaring voices of our culture certainly don’t help, with promises that buying, owning,  achieving something will make us better people; that success is measured by looks, wealth or possessions.

Sometimes it is our so-called faults that can actually lead us to a healthier life. In the New York Times best selling book “The Shadow Effect: Illuminating the Hidden Power of Your True Self” (Deepak Chopra, Debbie Ford, Marianne Williamson) , Debbie Ford says “In trying to express only those aspects of ourselves that we believe will guarantee us the acceptance of others, we suppress some of our most valuable features and sentence ourselves to a life of reenacting the same drama with the same outworn script.”

Seligman lists some characteristics that are easier to change, such as everyday anxiety, specific phobias, panic, anger and certain beliefs about life. He advises people to discard the notion of changing that which hurts the most (for example, your extra weight) and instead concentrating on those parts of yourself that will respond most successfully to your efforts to change them (for example, your shyness or impatience with your spouse). In the end, all the energy we put out to change ourselves may just take us back to where we started—to ourselves. And if we can truly accept ourselves as we are, that’s the best place to be.

Your thoughts and comments are always appreciated. If you’re still feeling insecure, and need to be supported as you confront your shadow sides, email me for a free 30 minute consultation.

 

 

Listening To Our Own Truths

July 28, 2014 in Article

What Billy Bob Thornton Can Teach Us About Listening to Our Own Truths

by Clara Freeman, author/owner of Authentic Women Networks

It’s not by default, but by design that I’ve been missing in action for the last two months! I found myself regressing in the progress of living and writing from my soul, feeling stagnant and finding myself becoming bored in the process of blogging and reading the blogs of others, in and out of my field of expertise.

I decided it was time for me to take myself out of the constant stream of informational overflow that everyone seemed to share via social media. I became bored reading the sameness of ‘experts’ who weren’t really saying much of anything that I hadn’t heard or practiced before. And then, it dawned on me that my own contributions in the way of growth and personal development under the umbrella of ‘authenticity’ might be sounding/reading just as some of the blogs I was turning away from.

How many times can you rehash old stuff without it sounding stale and “been there done that?” So, the catalyst for stepping away from my blogs and sharing with my readers, was simply boredom—I was bored with how I delivered the messages of my reawakening from a place of my own truths of authentic passion and purpose. I needed to step back and reexamine who I am and whose I am and what my purposeful intent in serving others truly is.

My days have been spent in retrospect of how far I’ve come. I have spent quality time reconnecting to my loved ones, formulating plans on how to make my messages clearer to my readers by sharing the empowering impact, awakening to my soul purpose has created in my own life. I am a creature of habit, in that I awaken early to feel one with the universe and it is in those early morning moments that I’m feeling the presence of The Almighty. These months, I have rested well, meditated on my strengths and embraced my weaknesses. I know that I will have moments of doubts and uncertainty on the path that has been chosen for me. I also know that these things are of a human condition and that God’s grace through my faith in him, will move me out of those places where I’m feeling stuck.

One fateful morning I woke from being in a state of half slumber and half awaken to trace the lesson of my dreams and turned to the keyboard. The word “guideposts” had disturbed my sleep and so, I typed it into the search engine. Guideposts were short inspirational pamphlets started by Norman Vincent Peale around the 70s and 80s and is carried on by his granddaughter via the guideposts website. Guideposts were of significance to me because I often read the pamphlets when I needed inspiration and motivation as a young wife and mother, coping with everyday life situations. Today, I continue to read this minister of positive thinking to awaken any thoughts of inspiration that I want to convey in my messages for women on their journey to “becoming.”

After a recent evening of nature relaxation and introspection,I turned to Oprah’s Own Super Soul Sunday to find a soft spoken actor as the guest. My first thought was, “why in the world is this person on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday?”

How quickly we humans judge what we don’t understand! The actor/ musician/screenwriter/ former husband of Angelina Jolie, Billy Bob Thorton probably stands out because of his and Angelina Jolie wearing each others blood in a locket worn around their necks and his acting in the movies ‘Sling blade’ , ‘Monster’s Ball’ and ‘Bad Santa.’ (roster of films to his credit)

 

This man reflected on his beginnings, his father’s obsession about death and how the two of them bonded by going to view fatal fatalities, such as drownings and car accidents. He admitted that he thought it was his father’s way of trying to understand death. He shared how he was once so poor , in the beginning of his passion, all he ate was potatoes and took odd jobs to follow his dream of becoming an actor and writer… He even told how in school, instead of listening to the teacher, he’d be writing short stories, until one day his teacher confronted him, suggesting he write a class play to be performed in the school- Billy Bob Thorton wrote the play in 14 minutes!

 

Sometimes, the least likely person can motivate us to continue to follow our passions. There will be times of struggle. You might even come from a dysfunctional household. Your family might live in poverty or some adult might have told you that you’re not capable of achieving your dreams.  Don’t listen to them!

One of Billy Bob Thorton’s many odd jobs was that of a waiter, where, unbeknownst to him,the man he served food to was Billy Wilder, a film director and screenwriter, who advised him to write. The actor went on to grace Forbes 2007 estimated earnings for the year of $20 million. After 5 marriages, he admits that “marriage doesn’t work” for him. He has been called an atheist and admits that he’s not fanatical about anything (religion).

My advice would be in regards to other people success is to take what matters to you and apply that to your goals. What I took from Billy Bob Thorton’s appearance on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday is this:

1. You’re not your environment or situation

2. Follow Your dreams even when others doubt

3. Start somewhere; anywhere

4. Enlist a mentor or someone who will keep you accountable and

believes in your talents and gifts.

And as Norman Vincent Peale would say, ” Have a God Mind.”

Peace and blessings,

 

You’re A Parent. You’re A Leader

July 3, 2014 in Article

You’re a Parent. You’re A Leader.

When I thought of leadership in the past, and today to some extent, I think of its three primary forms.  Power, authority and influence.  Power is the ability to make things go the way you want them to go, regardless of what anyone else has to say.  It really only exists in a brief moment, because after a time followers begin to recognize that they can go against you should they want a different path.  Authority is legitimized power.  Essentially, the group or followers gives up some of their power to a leader, willingly, so that the leader can guide the group as a whole.  Democratic societies are a good example of this.  But the strongest form of leadership and the form that we often times don’t fully recognize is influence.  Leadership by influence is when the leader thinks, acts and behaves in a way that others find value in and then begin to govern themselves off of the leaders example.  Based on this definition we all can begin to see and recognize the myriad of leaders we have had in our own lives.  But also, we can see ways we may not have even recognized that we were leaders.  And greatest of all of these examples is our leadership as a parent.

The greatest understanding of what it means to be a parent/leader I gained, from all places, was when I worked in a juvenile lockup facility.  One of my jobs that I have had in my career was that of a juvenile supervision officer in a juvenile detention facility when I was in my mid to late twenties.  Worded differently:  I was a correctional officer for kids jail.  Now working in that environment we where always cautioned and held accountable for what we would say and do by our supervisors.  I never questioned this rule, but I did assume it was for our safety and that of our clients.  But one day while working in a unit with a colleague with far more experience, he asked why I believed we were trained to be so careful with our actions around detainees.  I gave him the standard answer of “safety & security.”  He agreed, but said that it was more than that.  He explained that a lot of our kids came from environments that didn’t raise up their self worth and encourage them to be all that they could possibly be.  And when they came to our facility, for whatever reason,  what did they have to do all day?  He paused.  I waited.  Then he said, “All they have to do all day is watch you.  They know things about you and your habits that you aren’t even aware of.  They are learning lessons from your behavior that you aren’t even intending to teach.”  Wow!  What did I get from that.  Be impeccable with your word and honest, open and deliberate with your behavior.

So if these teenagers were getting this from me when I was with them for only eight hours a day,  five days a week, what leadership lessons are my children getting from me?  They are with me, pretty much, always.  So what are some of the keys to being a leader of influence with your kids in your own home?

1.  Remember that you are the parent and they are the child.  Sounds easy enough to remember, but there is a piece that we often forget or do not know.  Your child’s brain development is not complete until they are about 25-27 years old.  And the part of the brain that is last to develop to maturity is the pre-frontal cortex.  This is the part of the brain that makes executive decisions and where moral reasoning takes place.  What does the pre-frontal cortex manage and control?  Well…

  • Organization of multiple tasks
  • Impulse inhibition
  • Self control
  • Setting goals and priorities
  • Empathizing with others
  • Initiating appropriate behavior
  • Making sound judgments
  • Forming Strategies
  • Planning ahead
  • Adjusting behavior when situations change
  • Stopping an activity upon completion
  • Insight


So when I say that they are not “grown up yet”,  all I am saying is that they are not grown up yet.  The patience you showed your two year old also needs to be extended to you young adult.  Sure the circumstances are different and their ability to interact with you looks more adult that child-like, but the truth is the ability to self-regulate and make moral and ethical decisions is still developing.

2.  It’s all about deeds not words.  Children, tweens, teens, young adults do not pay attention to what you say.  They pay attention to what you do and model themselves after it.  When your deeds and words matchup,  the next go around they may be a bit more likely to take you at your word.  But only if you have been true to it in the past.  Remember, all they do when around you is observe your behavior.

3.  Hold yourself accountable, but also be gentle with yourself.  When you say you are going to do something, if you are invested in it, do it.  Follow through.  If you blow off a commitment or fall short, hold yourself accountable.  Figure out how you fell short, ways you can improve and if you want to, take on that challenge again.  Once you have done that, no more scolding or beating up on yourself.  Acknowledge you did the best you were able to do in that moment and move on.  Be gentle with yourself.  There are more than enough people in the world who will be harsh with you over a mistake or misstep.  This tip is important because you are able to show your resilience and love that you have for yourself.  Model it and you will begin to see your child being just as tender and caring of themselves as you are to yourself.  Remember, your the leader and they are modeling themselves after your behaviors.  You may tell them to be good to themselves after an unintended mistake, but if they see you beating yourself up over a mistake, that is where they take their cues.

3.  Hold yourself accountable, but also be gentle with yourself.  When you say you are going to do something, if you are invested in it, do it.  Follow through.  If you blow off a commitment or fall short, hold yourself accountable.  Figure out how you fell short, ways you can improve and if you want to, take on that challenge again.  Once you have done that, no more scolding or beating up on yourself.  Acknowledge you did the best you were able to do in that moment and move on.  Be gentle with yourself.  There are more than enough people in the world who will be harsh with you over a mistake or misstep.  This tip is important because you are able to show your resilience and love that you have for yourself.  Model it and you will begin to see your child being just as tender and caring of themselves as you are to yourself.  Remember, your the leader and they are modeling themselves after your behaviors.  You may tell them to be good to themselves after an unintended mistake, but if they see you beating yourself up over a mistake, that is where they take their cues.

4.  Allow them to lead.  So as I said before, I am coming from the idea of leadership being influence.  So allow your child to see and experience that they influence you.  Let them see that they lead you.  In truth, they do this more often than they are aware.  As parents a large majority of our decisions are based on the direction we are leading are family.  But a lot of the deep thought and planning that goes on here typically takes place behind “closed doors”.  But when an opportunity arises to let you child lead you, allow them too.  You can allow them to choose where the family is going for dinner by encouraging them to not only choose the restaurant but by explaining their rationale.  Encourage them to come up with a plan of attack for the entire family on spring cleaning day or you may encourage them to come up with a family outing and work out the planning and responsibilities of the trip.  You be the one to give your child experiences where they can lead.  And the great thing about allowing them to lead their family is that should a mistake happen or plans go awry, they are with a loving and caring group who wants the best for them.

5.  Apologize when you are wrong.  One of the greatest gifts my parents ever gave to me (and there were many) was when they apologized to me when they made a mistake with me.  Each time it happened it blew my mind.  It wasn’t that they made any kind of large mistake.  It was that their apology acknowledged that they were human and not infallible.  And it acknowledged me as an important member of the team, our family.  It said that my worth and opinion of them was important to them.  It was important enough to them that they didn’t want to damage our relationship  by not acknowledging when they may have been wrong.  What that did for my self-esteem resonates to this day and it is a gift that I passed along to every child I have worked with professionally.  And most importantly, it is something that I do with my sons today.  It allows me to be fallible, make mistakes, carry-on and continue to lead them and myself forward in our lives.

Remember that leadership in its strongest form is influence.  And that when it comes to your child, your influence is the most powerful in their lives, bar none.  Model for them the example of living you want for them.  And then when they are grown adults with kids of their they just might thank you for it.  But even if they don’t you will know that you tried to give the best of you to them.

This article is reprinted with kind permission from Mr. Bill Mayes, a Parent/Family Coach. His website is: http://www.billmayeslifecoach.com/

Self Love and Forgiveness – A Resolution!

January 31, 2014 in Article

Self Love and Forgiveness–A Resolution!

Well, it is, after all, the beginning of another year. A time when it seems appropriate and fitting (for some folks) to begin something new. I know it’s not the eve of the new year, but it is the beginning of the very first day of the best of your life. So, how’s that resolution you made going? Or has it…gone? It is the last day of January. You still have a few hours to recapture what you resolved, or maybe you’ve changed your mind.

Another chance. Another bright, new shiny “thing.” Is there always another…? Or is this all there is?

I was having a conversation with a colleague, and the question of resolutions came up. Is there a right and a wrong way to delve into your resolve? Who is the decider? Why are you interested in change? What changes do you want to experience? In which areas of your life? The perfect body (oh, the societal obsession with our bodies). Too fat, too thin, hair too curly, too straight…How about gratitude for the workings of the body you do have? Maybe your job or career is not fulfilling; your home is not the ideal; your kids are not behaving or performing the way you’d like them to; your spouse or significant other is not exciting, and you want adventure.So much discontent. If you’re single, perhaps it’s a relationship you seek… Forget Prince Charming. He does not exist, AND he’s NOT COMING. Get over it! Barbie has been taken. Besides, she’s also aging, and desperately hanging on to her youth! What a quandary! Maybe you just want to fall in love.  Being in love is a good thing. Simply loving is even better.

How about beginning with the single most important person in your world – YOU.

In digging deeper, it became obvious to both of us that what seem to be needed is a huge heaping of self love, and that begins with forgiveness. All around there’s the evidence of the pain, the hurt, the agony, the anger, the stress. So I asked my colleague, what does “Self-love mean to you?” Here’s what I got: “strength, patience, confidence, vulnerability, beauty, support, sisterhood, discipline, rituals.”

“And forgiveness,” I asked? “Open mind, open heart, softness, humour, graciousness, awareness, growth, mirroring each other, blossoming, being witness to their dance.”

Wow! Those are some powerful words, which conjure up some intense introspection. For many people, forgiving others is liberation from anger and grievance that leads to a richer and happier life. There is an even deeper peace to be found through what might be the hardest act of all – self-forgiveness. A friend forgives another friend for gossiping about her. A husband/wife forgives him/her for lying about an intimate relationship with another man/woman. A parent forgives someone for murdering their child.

*Immaculee Ilibagiza’s family were murdered during the Rwandan Holocaust. Years later when she confronted the man responsible for the murder of her entire family, she said “I forgive you.” When she was asked “how could you do that?” she replied: “Forgiveness is all I have to offer.” The human capacity to forgive even the deepest wrongs is, indeed, awe-inspiring. So too, is our capacity to inflict pain, and the flip side of that is simply to love.

Philosophers, religious leaders and others have known for thousand of years, one of the basic tenets of humanity is to love others as we love ourselves. Which naturally leads to forgiving ourselves as we forgive others.

Forgiveness is not about condoning bad behavior.  It’s not about pretending that something bad happened. It’s definitely not forgetting.

There are no simple answers. I believe forgiveness is an individual and very personal process. Forgiveness is about letting go of negative thoughts, bitterness, resentments. It’s about acknowledging the inner pain, and freeing ourselves in a way that allows us to heal, carry on and move forward.

Forgiveness is not easy. It is necessary for our peace of mind. It is not a quick-fix effort, nor is it for someone else. It takes work. That work is for you. It is for your survival – no, your thrival! As the year progresses, may we resolve to be mindful of how we treat ourselves. When we are mindful of me/we, we will be mindful of how we treat others.

Here’s to a Healthy, Healed and Happy Audacious New You!

I  welcome your comments.

 

* (“Left to Tell – Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust” by Immaculee Ilibagiza with Steve Erwin – a Hay House publication)

An Ode to Change

April 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

Reflection is a good thing. I remember cutting a one pound note in two, giving one piece to a lover, and keeping the other half for myself. It was a pact that we would meet at some time in
the future, and the two halves of the note would be joined together. To become whole. To be one. Perhaps somewhere in our
wild imaginings, we thought we would also be rejoined.

Well, I don’t even remember his name, and it’s been quite a number of years, and we haven’t rejoined. I am almost one hundred percent positive we will never meet again. If we did. There would be no way of recognizing each other.

I have changed in so very many ways. I suspect he has as well. Whatever his name is.

I mentioned reflection, because it is only in reflection that we get a true sense of the journey we’ve been on. Who we are, or where we’ve been. The trials, tribulations, joys, laughter, missteps, challenges and everything that’s made us wholly who we are right now.

Who I am in this moment is not the person I was yesterday, or even a week ago. I am in constant motion of becoming, and I am enjoying the journey.

Having clarity of mind, thought and purpose has not always been a given – for me. I mention clarity of mind, though I must admit the filing cabinet in my brain gets a little disorganized,
distorted, or maybe items are simply misfiled. What I mean is that being a woman of a certain age, I do not always have instant recall. I do not immediately remember things. I like to believe
that I keep the things that are of great importance close at hand, and the inconsequential things will disappear into the files marked “archives.”

Self delusion or self preservation? Whichever. It works for
me.

One could not be a person of a certain age and not have experienced life’s disappointments. I like to think all the challenges and aches of the heart, the mind, the psyche, the body have been preparing me for NOW. Really, NOW is all that matters. In an instant, this moment will be history. I am pleased with my ability to be philosophical about the process and passage of time
for me. It gives me a sense of well being. A sense of accomplishment. A sense of fulfillment. A sense of worth. A sense of value. I had never consciously thought about any of this until THIS MOMENT.

These thoughts are fresh, ripe, right and spontaneous. What freedom!

Today, as a Life Coach, I realize all those experiences have made me more masterful at the craft. I have more empathy. I suspend judgments. I embrace and respect our similarities and our
differences. I listen more deeply. I guide more lovingly. I am appreciative of all that life has to offer. I give willingly, and I serve gracefully. My voice is my own. It is strong, purposeful and authentic.

I am me. Total. Whole and complete. I am grateful.

Name Change – Game Change

January 31, 2013 in Uncategorized

When my daughter decided to change her name, many members of my family, my friends and contemporaries, heavily criticized her. I will not mention who she is, because this blog is not about her (I do respect her privacy). It is looking at the ability to make choices, the reason behind the choices and the personal, psychic, psychological and social ramifications.

It is never questioned when a woman marries, and chooses her husband’s name. I know of some same gender couples that’ve chosen one or the other spouse’s name. No one ever questions that.

I can speak to my personal feelings about her decisions to change from what was ostensibly an Anglo-sounding name (her words). She wanted a name that was more reflective of her African heritage.

Hers was a name that was chosen at the moment she entered this world. Her father saw her before I did. It has to do with the configuration of the body and the birthing process. He saw her, and in his words, she whispered her name to him. Sounds magical, huh!

There is magic in that phrase, especially as I now know that my daughter has never shared the names of her children with anyone, but her husband. It is then first whispered in the child’s ears, immediately after birth. After the skin to skin, heart to heart embrace with mother and baby. The process is anyone after that can be privy to that most noble handle we all hold so dear – our names.

In retrospect, she’s done something unique to her family, but the ritual came before. That ritual heralded her presence into this world.

She decided to have a name that befits her. The energy, the personality, the passion. Everything that says I am my own person!

I think I was somewhat disappointed when she made the decision to change her name. I rather liked the other name we had chosen for her. As a mother, I believed it suited her personality. Of course, the personality developed AFTER the naming. After the growing. After the becoming.

I often lapse into calling her by her “given” name, and when I catch myself, I recognize the disservice and the seeming disrespect to her.

As I reflect on the words of the eminent poet, philosopher and artist, Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931) – “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.”

Many people have changed their names. For example:

Mother Theresa was Agnes Bojaxhiu
Al Jolson was Asa Yoelson
Snoop Dogg was Calvin Broadus
Whoopi Goldberg was Caryn Johnson
Toni Morrison was Chloe Wofford
Queen Latifah was Dana Owens
Mos Def was Dante Smith
Billie Holiday was Eleanor Harris
Tyler Perry was Emmitt Perry
Jamie Foxx was Eric Bishop
Malcolm X was Malcolm Little

Each individual has a story. A reason. Does the new name change the personality? Does it inhibit or expand the person? Does the change happen at a cellular level, or is it more superficial?

Being mother to a strong, independent, determined woman, allows me many opportunities to learn, let go, grow, reflect, cherish, honor the authentic being that she is. With all the strength and bravado, there’s vulnerability. Our greatest assets can often be our ability to be vulnerable, and then rise!

I wonder how the name change has impacted all these people? Have they become “more?” I could ask my daughter, but, like I said, this is not her story.

I believe we grow to fit our names. The name I bear has been with me for longer than my given name at birth, or should I say my father’s name. Though I am no longer attached to the man whose name I use, it feels right for me. It has, or I have become interconnected with it. It feels like me. It is I. It is the name by which I’m known. It’s a glove that fits well.

What are your thoughts? Will your game change without your name?

ENDINGS……LESSONS…..NEW BEGINNINGS!

December 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

As we bid farewell to 2012 and enter a new year, just about everyone is scurrying around frantically to get his or her resolutions named, noted, and perhaps shared.

Oh, so much busy-ness! It almost makes me dizzy.

No one ever bucks tradition, preferring, of course to do what is tried and true, what is safe. What is acceptable?

Newspapers, magazines, blogs, radio shows and social site comments are all focused on The New Year Resolutions.

There is nothing wrong with that. Absolutely nothing. I’m just saying. Get out of the blooming box! However you can, crawl out of the box. You must!!

It’s for your sake. Not mine. It’s time to have the courage to face and overcome inner obstacles.

I am sitting here on this beautiful sunny December afternoon, and I realize how many people are crippled by fear. Shame. Un-worthiness and disquiet.

This will not speak to everyone, but for the folks, with whom this resonates, listen up!

If you are desperately wanting to be in a relationship – get a relationship! You might have to begin with you but that’s all right! In fact it’s more than all right. It’s the only place to begin.

If you want out of a relationship – get the heck out, if it’s not serving you or the other person. Relationships begin and they end.

Stop being a wuss! Enough already. Walk away.

Don’t stay for the children. The children know it’s jacked up. They are also unhappy.

Don’t stay because of finances. Get some backbone and be ok with starting over. It’s not easy. It’s possible.

Are the material possessions and status more important than your peace of mind? Only you can answer that. But it requires honesty!

You’ve lost all your friends, because you’re now penniless. Jump for joy!

If they were your friends when you had money, they will be your friends when you are broke. Friendship is not predicated on what you have. It’s about who you are. If they’ve stayed away. Perhaps it’s time to say good riddance.

Feeling insecure because you’ve made several attempts at the perfect job or the next business, and they’ve all failed? Time for rejoicing.

Failure is not for the faint of heart. Failure is for the ones, who will fall down, get bruised, get up, and start again. And again. And again.

As long as you’re not dead – you CAN begin again. Ask any person who is enjoying success. They’ll tell you about their miss-steps and learnings.

Ever notice how when you’re “successful” you’re more attractive?

Heaven help you if you’ve lost your house to foreclosure, or a divorce. You’re avoided like the plague. Your best friend might suddenly be more possessive of their husband while in your presence.

You’ll get some sympathy if you’ve lost everything in a hurricane, a fire, a tornado or other “Acts of God.”

Makes me wonder if God is selective about the Acts, or are they random? That’s a whole other discussion.

Are your creditors calling and demanding payment? But you don’t have the money? Heck, if the United States can’t get its fiscal house in order, cut yourself some slack. Being in debt is not the end of the world! Who isn’t in debt?

They’ll have to wait. They can wait. They will wait, and they can make your life hell – if you let them.

Folks, I’m not saying it’s easy. In fact, it’s down right hard. Life has challenges.

Shift Happens all the time.

Make your intentions for 2013 be about honesty. Be honest to yourself.
Let go of the shame. Let go of the feelings of un-deservedness. Learn from the failures (there’s really no such thing as failure).

Choose to be phenomenal, despite the odds. Choose to be magnificent, you are. Choose to be relevant. You’re here. Choose to grow from your mistakes. You have. Choose to welcome your misfortunes. They’ve made who you are….. becoming. You are the light. Shine brightly in 2013.

There, doesn’t that feel like you’ve shed some very heavy weight. Lighten the burden. This is your beginning. You are perfect, AND there’s work to be done.

This is not about resolutions. It’s about Shift.

It’s Happening!

Connected by Anger, Pain, Fear – Saved by Grace, Love, Action

December 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

The Holiday season can be stress-filled because of expectations, obligations, consumerism, shoulds and oughts. Whether your celebrations and beliefs are secular or religious, there is an impact.

In this time of gloom and sadness, we need a huge sprinkling of love to bring light into our midst, and to lift our spirits.

The World has not ended – yet – so we have work to do. Hurts to mend. Wrongs to right. Forgiveness of ourselves and others. Actions to take.

Today, as I write, I mention 27 names:

Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Josephine, Ana, Dylan, Madeline, Catherine, Chase, Jessie, James, Grace, Emilie, Jack, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Avielle, Benjamin, Allison, Rachel, Dawn, Nancy, Anne, Lauren, Mary, Victoria

These names are important because in giving a name, instead of a number, means they are (were) a person. They matter. These are the people who lost their lives in Newtown, Connecticut a week ago. Calling them by name, keeps their spirits alive.

Is this tragedy more horrific than other tragedies?

Yes, and no. It depends which side of the fence you’re on. Yes, we do take sides. We have perspectives, judgments, prejudices. We pontificate.

I believe, there will be other tragedies. Other lives lost senselessly. More outrage. More anger. More sadness.

And yes, more love, more joy, more laughter. Hope keeps us alive!

If I had just lost one of my grand children (and I will mention their names because they matter very much – to me and my family): Senay, Malik, Fiyah, Isis, Omega, Pharoah, Saba – I would be saddened and outraged and angered, but in a different way. The loss would be more personal to me and my immediate family and friends.

I pray, it will NEVER BE MY EXPERIENCE.

There would likely be an outpouring of sympathy and condolences. And life would continue on. Our lives are continuing, because it’s what we do. We go on. And we forget.

At our core, we humans are not violent. Our true nature, I believe, is love. If it takes an act of violence to connect our hearts, then we are the person who died. We are the person who pulled the trigger.

Transformation of energies, touch the human heart. We are somehow connected in the face of this tragedy.

I leave you to ponder the words of Martin Niemoller (1892-1984) A Protestant Pastor:

“First they came for the Socialists,
and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists,
and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me–
and there was no one left to speak for me.”

You can substitute Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, Muslim, Christian, Scientologist, Socialist, Capitalist, Gay, or any group you choose………

You get the meaning.

Are you willing to stand for Love, Peace, Compassion and Action so Your voice will be heard? Will Your action make a difference?

It’s the only way Shift Happens!