Friday, February 12, 2010

Honesty is My Aphrodisiac

It does pay to be honest. It pays in rewarding relationships. It pays in unblocked energy. It pays in passion. To stand tall in who you are, unafraid to reveal what you want and need, kind enough to tell the truth, and brave enough to bear the consequences, is a telling sign of your development.

My New Year’s resolution for 2010 is to intentionally drop the baggage that’s holding me back and keeping me playing small. In other words, stop crouching down in fear and instead, spring out in faith. And I think I’m on Day 32.

Well, since writing that down and putting myself in conversations that had me standing up for me and my values, conversations that had me telling others the truth not knowing what the consequences would be but, being in faith that I would walk away feeling great about my world, amazing/frightening/inspiring things have happened.

When I think back to the times I didn’t stand up for what was important to me, it was because I was afraid of the consequences the other person would hand to me. These consequences ranged from anger, sarcasm, abandonment, and a magnifying glass put on me and all my imperfections. None of them good. I feared or avoided it at all costs.

What happens when I don’t stand in truth is that I end up resenting the other person, when, really, the fault lies with me. What I’ve learned is the key here is to have faith that whatever the consequences are of your honest conversations, it will pay in more rewarding relationships and in you being let free of your own restraints. And, maybe the more rewarding relationship you find is the one with yourself.

I can’t tell you how many times the question, “Why do you always have to be the center of attention everywhere you go?” has echoed through my head. This question was asked by the people who were supposed to love me the most. And, yet, it’s who I am—I’m filled with a love of drama, zest and laughter. (So like my mother, it’s scary!) So, when I finally stood up for myself and told them this is who I am, those relationships either walked away or were pushed away. The result? More relationships entered who not only accepted me and all my drama but, loved me because of it.

Recently, I’ve once again had to confront relationships that I felt weren’t honoring the best in me; I felt unhealthy and “in the box” when I was around them. Standing up for what I want and who I am at 44 and a half and being willing to accept the consequences…Well, I’d like to tell you the relationships always get better and everyone agrees with my honesty but, they don’t. I lost one relationship and walked into another that is more powerful and more giving each and every day.

It takes courage to be honest. And, when I speak it or hear it, I’m filled with inspiration, passion, a release of anxiety, excitement, strength, a knowing…my blood gets moving quicker. Honesty to me is an aphrodisiac.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Believe Them When They Show You Who They Are.

“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” Oprah Winfrey.

In my 30 day quest to get into action every day in “throwing out the baggage that keeps me stuck” and while coaching people this month, I’ve referred to this quote many, many times.

We listen to what people tell us instead of watching their actions and then, we’re hurt, disappointed, frustrated and angry when they continue to do the same actions or behaviors they’ve done all along. When is it time to stop listening and start watching?

A CEO I once worked for gave me this definition of integrity: Do you do what you say you’re going to do even when no one’s looking? This may be a loose version of the definition but, it’s a pretty simple way to define integrity. So, why is integrity so hard to find in people?

Mistakes happen. People make bad decisions. And, people can change. I get it. However, when there’s a pattern or it continues time after time, isn’t time to open your eyes? If you’ve been completely honest (This is a MUST in this equation because we can’t hold people responsible for what they don’t know.) with your feelings, what matters to you, how you feel most respected, loved and cherished and this person still continues to tell you one thing but do another... Well, obviously this person just wants to tell you what you want to hear…they’re telling you what they want you to believe.

If you’ve been in a relationship with someone and you’re connecting with what I’m saying, stop being frustrated or angry with them because the ball, as they say, is now in your court. The responsibility for this relationship is now yours. Your choice is to accept the person and move forward with them knowing that you can’t trust what they say, you watch what they do. Some relationships you just have to love them for who they are. Or, you may choose to leave the relationship—drop the baggage--if your values and your heart are being crushed because of being in the relationship. Either way, the choice is yours. They’ve been “telling” you all along who they are.

I have to say that Oprah isn’t one of my most favorite people because I don’t really feel a connection to her—she’s too hard to emulate. She’s perfect. I’m not. This quote, though (thanks to Oprah) that I’ve carried with me—and used-- over and over and over again is one that has made the most sense to me throughout the last 10 years of my life. It’s brought me peace (because of the decisions I’ve made) and pain (because of the realization of its truth).

So, believe them when they show you who they are and, either drop your baggage...or theirs.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

DAY 18--Fear the Waxer!

Fear The Waxer!

One way to not act old, according to Pamela Redmond Satran, is to not fear the Waxer. “Listen, you can have all the work in the world done. You can get Botoxed and Restalyned till you’re smooth as a balloon; you can have your boobs lifted to your chin and your tummy tucked into your backbone. But, if you don’t wax down there, anybody who gets close enough—and that includes the entire locker room at the gym—is going to know you’re old.” Ugh. I have an opposing view—FEAR THE WAXER.

Back when I was newly single and thrilled to be “testing” what was normal and what was not, I remember someone saying almost those exact words to me. I asked who she went to and then called to make the appointment. I was headed to Maui for a work trip and thought, what the heck? I’d never done it before, never saw any need to do it but, now that I was single, I should start adapting to the ways of the young and hairless.

I walked into the appointment and the Waxer checks me in. She tells me that they’re actually having a special right now on Brazilians—they’re the same price as a Bikini Wax and the boys really love them. “Ummm..okay.” The name “Brazilian” conjures up warm nights with beautiful sunsets, dancing to sexy music, Latin lovers…(I haven’t even asked how much a Bikini Wax is but, if the boys like it more and it’s the same price, why not?)

She tells me to undress from the waist down and shows me where to lie down.

Breathe. I’m not going to get into graphic detail here. However, so that you may learn from the error of my ways, I’ll share the pertinent parts of this story…

Half-way through this procedure where she has me placing my hands in places and in angles that my hands haven’t previously experienced, I tell her I think I’m okay with being half done. THE PAIN IS EXCRUCIATING! Who cares if the boys like this?? They also like jelly filled doughnuts …doesn’t mean I’m going to wear them on a date!

The Waxer just smiles and continues directing the “holding” patterns.

Wheeeewww. I’m done. Made it through that! I won’t be making a return visit, that’s for sure.

“Okay. Now let’s do the back-side.”

What? What back side? Mine? “Oh, no. I’m sure that this is good enough. Really. I’ll even pay you the full amount.”

“No one leaves here with a hairy bum. Now, up on your knees and elbows.” Is this her tag line? Young and Hairless: Where no one leaves with a hairy bum!

I have feared the Waxer every day since then. Looking old isn’t looking too bad right now…

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

DAY NINE--How Not to Act Old

It’s unbelievable how interesting life is. One day, I decide to get rid of all the baggage holding me back or keeping me stuck and to start standing up for what I want and what I believe in…and the messages keep pouring in.

A book called, “How Not to Act Old” by Pamela Redmond Satran has taught me so much already! For instance did you know that if you don’t want to appear old, don’t leave a voice mail message (Apparently, the younger generation figures with Caller ID there’s no need to actually speak into the phone to let you know they called. My thinking is, if you don’t leave me a message it must not have been very important.)

Don’t wear a watch. Not because you don’t want to know what time it is but, because you should have a cell phone that you neurotically check every five minutes to not only check to see if you have any new Face Book messages but now, to also watch time passing you by. Many other suggestions…don’t advise people to carry an umbrella, say “yay, “ or fear the waxer. Huh.

I fail.

One chapter tells us “How Not to be a Cougar.” Ready?
1. No animal prints. Nothing says cougar, like a pair of leopard-print stilettos. Or a tiger-striped, chiffon blouse. There goes ¾ of my closet.

2. Bottle the Brassy Blonde. By all means color your hair. Subtler is sexier. Subtle? Me? I’m not brassy…well, at least my hair isn’t.

3. Watch the Cleavage. You may not notice this standing at home surveying yourself in the mirror, but when you lean over and press your arms together, that lovely cleavage turns into a gathering place for wrinkles.

4. Dim the Bling. Tinkly earrings, swinging gold chains and clanking bracelets all cry out too loudly for attention. And?? I fail to see the problem. I live for attention.

5. Lighten up the Make-up. Heavy make-up often has the opposite effect from the one you intended—covering the wrinkles and the age spots, maybe, but making you look weirdly older in the process. Got it.

Fail, fail, fail, fail, and pass.

Cougar it is. And, what’s so bad about that? There’s a whole show dedicated to being this fierce member of the cat family.

I’ll be right back…I need to go check my cleavage for wrinkles…

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I woke up this morning thinking of my Nana and Pop-Pop and how many years they were married. Both are gone now, but I remember asking Nana how she and Pop-Pop met, what they did on their dates, how long they were engaged and what their early married life was like. My oldest child was six months old at that time, I was 23 and began to see my Nana as a woman—not just a grandmother. I realize now the legacy of love that they both left for me.

When my grandmother was dying, I was fortunate enough to be able to spend some time with her. She’d kept the love letters my grandfather had written to her and she let me read them while I was sitting with her. I was in awe of the love my grandfather had for her and the fact that he was able to express it in writing. Every single letter I read touched me. He’d begin all of his letters with “My beloved Mary.” I left that visit with a new respect for my grandfather, who had passed almost 15 years prior and a deeper understanding of their marriage.

One of the things (and there are many) I hate about divorce is that, if there are children involved, those conversations are not likely to take place. If you’re divorced, your children only see the “during” and the “after” and, you know what that looks like. And if you’ve remarried (we both have) it seems almost weird to talk about what you used to feel.

The truth is, at some point the two of us were in love and we had dreams for our marriage and our future family. I’ve realized I’ve never told my children about how much love and fun their dad and I had together. Yes, there was pain, too, but what relationship doesn’t have that? He was so different from my own father who left us when I was 10. Their dad knew who he was, what he stood for and what he wanted. I knew that I could count on his honesty and his integrity and that because of those things, I could always count on him to be who he was. Somewhere along the way, though, communication between us stopped. I didn’t value what I wanted and needed enough to stand up for myself and went silent. And, that doesn’t mean he was a bully—he just knew what he wanted and if I wasn’t going to speak up, it wasn’t his fault, right? So, here we are today, both of us remarried with children who don’t know the love they came from.

Time to change that! I want my children’s children to wake up one day thinking about their Nana and how they admired her and saw her not only as a grandmother but, also as a woman—a woman who loved deeply and was deeply loved.

Friday, January 15, 2010

DAY FIVE--The Intimacy Kit

I seem to always be explaining myself to people. Is this normal?

I was just in Las Vegas for my company’s Leadership Experience. We stayed at the Red Rock Resort and Casino which is opulent in shades of red and Swarvoski crystals dripping from the ceiling and along the walls. This is a very exciting time for our company because we’re actually bringing two companies together for the first time AND it’s my first event with our CEO/President Bill Shaw. I was very anxious to make a good impression!

Being considered a VIP, I was ushered into this special side room to check in. No waiting in line for me! Comfy couches and plush chairs all over this room. I was checked in by some cute young girl-woman; told where the gym was and the hours of operation and that my resort fee was covered by my company. She handed me a bottle of water and pointed to the elevators.

My work partner, Marge, came down to meet me as we were going to lunch before all the festivities began…so up to my room we went.

The room really was gorgeous—reds and browns everywhere, soft lighting, a bathroom almost as big as my bedroom at home with a tub the size of a hot tub. As we walk in, I look around.

Marge is behind me helping me carry my three pieces of luggage (What?), I turn and see on my side shelf a bottle of Patron, some designer vodka and two rows each of five little white boxes. The display is so fun! They look like gifts.

Marge goes into the restroom.

One of the boxes has red lips stamped on the box--it looks like someone applied fresh red lipstick and kissed the box a couple of times. SO feminine!! Of course I pick it up to see what this box is and what’s inside…


“PUT THAT DOWN!! You only have 45 seconds before they charge you for that!” screams Marge.

Can ya just imagine the juggling act that begins because Marge has scared the %^&$ out of me? It flies here there and everywhere… And, you guessed it…I didn’t make the 45 second time frame.

Oh, great, great, great! My first event with Bill Shaw and I get to explain the Intimacy Kit. Oh... I'm gonna to impress him, alright. Jeez.

Why couldn’t I have just grabbed the nuts?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

DAY THREE...It's not what you say that matters, it's what others hear...

As I’m delving in deeper to my ability to communicate clearly, I was reminded of something that happened to me a couple of years ago. If nothing else, it will make you laugh.

Wouldn’t you agree…there is nothing like a Krispy Kreme doughnut—especially when that red light is flashing? The light that lets everyone know there is a warm, gooey, sweet, intoxicating Krispy Kreme doughnut waiting for there—just for you.

Those sinful taste bud delights are the first thing to go when the dreaded four letter word rears its ugly head … D-I-E-T. Having lost 35 pounds and having managed to keep it off for three years, saboteurs like Krispy Kreme were not my usual stomping grounds.

However, I had just finished video-taping a “how to” and did it live and off the cuff and I was feeling pretty proud of myself. And the kids deserved them. I mean, no one has ever died from eating Krispy Kreme’s, right?

The aroma of fresh doughnuts. Wow. I think that smell must be a pheromone to me because it kind of makes me moan. It certainly makes me breathe heavy.

Back to the doughnuts. As I am studying the doughnuts and trying to justify buying more than just plain glazed doughnuts, a short, dark-haired man asks me what I’d like. I give him my order (a dozen glazed doughnuts) and he boxes them and brings them to the cash register.

He rings up my doughnuts and gives me the total and then he stares. Not just any stare, but a STARE. The kind that makes you think you have something hanging off your lip or mascara smeared under your eyes.

He asks me, “Are those real?”

Now, you can imagine my thoughts right about now. Actually, I had a few. The first was, “What? How dare he?!! You’ve got to be kidding” The second was “Wow, this guy has some nerve. To ask a woman he does not know, in public, if her breasts are real. Wow.” It was part admiration, part disbelief, part shock.

So, I showed my brilliance by saying the only thing you can say in this circumstance which was, “What?”

“Your eyelashes. Are they real?” he asks.

My eyelashes? You’ve GOT to be kidding me.

“Yes, they’re real.” I say, feeling like I’m in an episode of The Twilight Zone.

“Your husband. He is lucky man. Your eyelashes are beautiful.”

Now, you might be sitting there reading this thinking to yourself, “That’s funny. But what does it have to do with direct sales?”

Well, I did exactly what direct sales trainers will tell you not to do. I prejudged this man. He asked a question and I immediately assumed I knew what he was thinking. I did, however, do the right thing by asking another question so that he could clarify his original question. Lucky for him as he was within striking distance!

From this episode, I learned an important lesson. What people say isn’t always what you hear. What if I had assumed he was talking about my breasts and I became hostile towards him for his audacity? How embarrassing would that be (for him and for me) if he really only meant to compliment me?

Notice where you jump to conclusions or pre-judge meaning without asking another question to clarify your understanding of the conversation. It could completely change the outcome…