It's only Wednesday and I feel like I've lived four weeks over the past four days.
Tuesday began like any other day really but little did I know what was about to transpire. You see it's been a long time since a gift was delivered to me not wrapped in shiny paper with sparkly bows or glittered tulle. And let me say this, those types of "gifts" don't seem like ones when they are delivered, that's for sure. In fact, your first inclination would probably be to send it back marked "return to sender" because these "gifts" aren't wrapped beautifully, they're hard to look at and even harder to hold, yet gifts they still can be.
The contents of my gift came by way of candid conversation, a very candid conversation. One at times, I found difficult to bear and although I tried to prepare myself for the answer to a question I asked, knowing the person "delivering" was a straight-shooter, I was ill-prepared for what was shared...
Read more from the SheHive's Mindfulness Coach, Jennifer, at The Serendipitous Soul.
This blog originally appeared on The Serendipitous Soul, home to SheHive's Mindfulness Coach, Jennifer Raybaud.
Yesterday on Facebook I posted a quote and referred to another, the one I made reference to was by the famous American spiritual teacher, Marianne Williamson and it goes like this "Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you."
This morning as I was lying in bed, I began thinking about when I've "played small" and a couple distinct times came to mind. I'm going to share one of those times because I think that as women (and of course this is the only perspective I'm privy to) we hold each other back WAY too often for some seriously petty reasons.
Earlier this year I was giving a presentation as part of a group. Several of us took turns sharing ideas and I can recall as if it were yesterday standing there, sharing and suddenly feeling uncomfortable, feeling judgment like I had never experienced before, the voice in my head, my darling inner critic, felt my dis-ease and since it's his job (yeah, he's a he to me) to keep me safe, he decided to "warn me" to "tone it down." "Don't be so energetic Raybaud, don't articulate those facts so much, don't use that word..." he was pretty thorough in about a moment's time. Incredible how much "he" can mess with me with less than a second or two ticking past.
Then the other "voice in my head", what I like to call "my higher-self" jumped in immediately, putting my critic in place. She said "No way! You don't play small for anyone, anymore." Just be yourself, it's not your problem." And away I went, continuing on with my presentation.
Now just so you don't think I was being egotistical, which by the way I didn't feel "puffed up" by this incident at all, in fact, I felt dismayed that fellow professionals would give me that vibe and that I almost "shrunk" to meet it but weeks after this had happened a woman who was in the same room ran into me. She brought up that day, brought up my presentation and brought up the fact that the feeling of judgment against me was palpable. It was so "there", that she felt it too. Yea, I knew it. Score one for the gut.
But you know what? I get it, I'm easy to judge in that space. I have been standing in front of people presenting almost my entire adult life. I have been teaching folks for years and I write and present my own materials several times a week so public speaking, which I know is a real bugger for most, isn't for me. So right there, I'm in a unique position.
I also have an interesting vocabulary, it's a culmination of the millions of books I've read in my life with a heaping helping of random trivia and I would be remiss not to cite the influence classic film and my affinity for "all things vintage", has had on it. Especially things from the 1920's - 1940's, I jokingly say that I speak in "Granny-isims" because I find myself using words from long ago at times. I adore words and those that know me, know this ALL too well.
I get it, I'm an easy target at times, but here's my issue. What the heck is wrong with us as women in making the choice not to celebrate one of us "rising" in any way, in any form, and at any occasion? It's not like the person doing well takes a piece of us away, I mean unless you feel that way and I would throw down the challenge that that says more about you than it does the object of your disdain.
We have to get real to get right and it begins with our objectively shining the "spotlight of awareness" on ourselves at times instead of blaming others while firmly entrenched in the role of victim.
It's time to stop playing small as individuals and consider "signing-up" to be a part of the team of women looking to aim higher. To cheer our collective body on. To want all of us to think and behave out of our highest selves at any given moment, and to utilize every drop of the divine gifts we've been given.
I'm done playing small. I mean it. 'Til the day I die. If you can't like, respect or love me the way I am, then Darlin', I don't need you in my life.
Proud member of the "Aim High - Watching Women Fly Club!"
Membership is free and by golly, we want you!
My hope is...you'll join us. <3
This post originally appeared on The Serendipitous Soul where it was written by Jennifer Raybaud, the SheHive's mindfulness coach. Learn more about Jennifer's upcoming series, My Mindful Life, here.
I have been blessed to learn SO much on such a wide variety of subjects over the past 3 years that when I think about all the classes I've taken or taught, all the books I've read and teachings I've watched or listened to...it blows my mind.
Some of the things I've learned, I've implemented right away and continue to use on a regular basis, other things (like a good tool should be) I "pick-up" and use "as needed."
Other things served me for a period of time and are no longer necessary, so I've put them "in storage" holding them with a sort of "Break in Case of Emergency" mentality.
One thing I've learned and even wrote about once or twice before, is coming up stronger than ever and that's our use of labels, our defense of them and our need to place them on others.
If I asked you who you are, chances are you would begin to share with me a list of things you believe or subscribe to, you might say I'm a wife, mother, female, white, middle-aged, reside in the suburbs of a major city, your political affiliation, likes, dislikes, the list could go on and on and with every label you proclaim there are a set of standards or things you feel you must do or you are expected by society to do, to hold that "title."
One problem with this is not only do you have thoughts around what being each of those things means to you, others have their interpretation of what each of those labels means to them and it might look very different from what you hold as the definition of that space. This is where problems can arise, from what a President of our country "should" look or be like to how our neighbor should behave, labels can cause a lot of issues, anguish and angst.
So what's my point? Consider this a sort of experiment, because I am. I'm currently working to live my life as "label-free" as possible. Not only when it comes to who I am but I'm holding others in that label-free space as well and can I tell you, it's been quite refreshing!
You might be concerned that anarchy could be right around the corner with my wicked, flagrant ways but au contraire mon frère...not so quick.
Just because I don't look to subscribe to (in some cases) some seriously contrived ways of being doesn't mean I don't have standards by which to live my life. I would say I'm a good person, that doesn't change because the way I choose to say live out my faith, isn't in the traditional way many who came before me, did, or that those today, do.
I find the older I get my "true North" seems to reside in a "gray space" between the black and white many labels represent and I'm totally OK with that. It's the people around me that may take issue and since I don't live for them and their definitions attached to labels, my experiment in living label-free and giving others that open space, continues.
I hope you take a moment to "throw open the windows" of your mind, allow some fresh air in, think of those things you label yourself as and see how attached you are to them. Do they still provide a fair representation of you? Is there room for expansion under that definition? Is it time to redefine some? "Chuck" one or all and maybe decide to live just being the best you, you can be sans labels?
Oh! And one more thing. While the summer breezes are blowing in through that open window, consider how hung up you might be on what you "pin" on others and your definitions of those "pieces." How much do they limit you in experiencing the true glory that is...someone else?
To living life out loud, to having nothing to defend, nothing to protect and everything, my friends,everything to gain.