Why’s This My Work?

why-me.png

“Barb, Why do I keep hearing you say that the Coaching you do always circles back to strengthening the relationship that person has with themselves? If you’re having a problem or issue with what your partner is doing, how is that about you?”

First, you have to know how much I absolutely LOVE this kind of question! I recently did another Revolutionary Love Q & A Evening at the conference I attended and honestly, almost every question asked that night was some form of this.

Fascinating!

So, here’s what I’m going to do instead of writing a long, wordy explanation about what I mean, because most of you have heard me talk endlessly about this. Let’s look at some actual examples of past clients so I can shed more light on what I’m talking about, Ok? I’ll keep these short and give you the “dilemma”, the “natural tendency” and the “personal work.”  Got it? 

Let’s have some fun!

Example Number 1

DILEMMA: “I’ve been in this relationship for 2 ½ yrs and my boyfriend still says he sees no reason to get married. I feel like I’m just wasting time and need you to tell me whether to give him an ultimatum now!”

HABITUAL THINKING: “I’m being taken advantage of and have a right to push him hard.”

PERSONAL WORK: “So, why have 2 ½ yrs gone by with you saying “Yes” to living together and no agreement  or follow through about what you would/wouldn’t settle for in regards to marriage?”

 -We work on flushing out Requirements, Setting Boundaries, Speaking Truth, Unhooking from the desire to have a partner at any cost

Example Number 2

DILEMMA: “I never feel like I really get my needs met. I just keep meeting hers, doing what makes her happy, making sure things go smoothly and keeping the peace. When is it about me?”

HABITUAL THINKING: “Geezzz – women sure can be self-centered.”

PERSONAL WORK: “Guess what? You’re the one deciding to take on the role of ‘Mr. Nice Guy’ and then resenting all the over-giving / over-functioning / quietly begging for love.” 

-We work on Identifying Deep Fears, Letting go of Caretaking Behavior, Flush Out what you truly want for yourself, Build Strength around setting boundaries and speaking up for own needs & desires

Example Number 3

DILEMMA: “I’ve done so much personal / spiritual growth work since we were married 19 years ago and my husband seems to still be the same old guy. I push and push to get him to do this work with me and he’s just not interested. I’m not sure if I want to stay in this relationship.”

HABITUAL THINKING: “I’ve changed, he hasn’t, I think I’ve fallen out of love.”

PERSONAL WORK: “Trust me, you’ve both changed in ways and no one simply “falls out of love.”

-We work on Stopping Any/ All Controlling behavior, Release judgements, Practice Vulnerability and Authentic conversations around desires, Create a Powerful Relationship Vision, Focus on Building Back a strong Emotional Connection (feelings of love come from this)

Example Number 4

DILEMMA: “My partner wants to try an ‘open relationship’ and I’m stunned, but am considering it because he keeps telling me he doesn’t want to be with a closed minded person.”

HABITUAL THINKING:  “I don’t want to be accused of something that doesn’t feel good, like having a closed mind and I need to prove that’s not true.”

PERSONAL WORK: “Do you not know what your deal-breakers in a relationship are? Are you not comfortable voicing your opinions and speaking your values?”

-We work on Reviewing Requirements, Setting boundaries, Trusting the self, Building self confidence

I hope this was helpful in seeing what I mean when I say that regardless of what comes our way, the work is to keep strengthening our own Personal Foundation so that challenges are easily addressed. So much drama is created in our love lives because we have areas of emotional immaturity that still rear their ugly heads! 

Take some time this week to look honestly at what area of your emotional landscape you could build up and assess how well you do as you move through your days. Do you have a personal “honor code” you hold yourself to?  Can you set swift boundaries, regardless of the perceived consequences?  Are you unhooked from needing the approval of others or do you dance around issues to try and keep the peace or others liking you?

It’s exhausting when your foundation is weak or non-existent. Everywhere you turn another problem presents itself. Trust me, dedicating yourself to live from a place of “authentic power” and letting everything else fall to the wayside will bring you freedom and a sense of inner peace that is literally, indescribable! 

Let me know where you’re at with your “building” and how I can help!

Big love to you all~

Barb

 

 

My Husband Had A Knife Pulled On Him!

One of the gifts both of my parents gave me was a deeply embedded belief that when you see someone who needs help, you help. I mean “jump in, right then, respond quickly and help in whatever way you can immediately help”, kind of support.

For the most part, it’s worked out well. After 50 some years of following this impulse, I’ve broken up fights in bars (geez, I sound like a badass!), talked a guy into putting a gun away on the subway, taken a stranger home for a much needed shower, given my coat to the cold, almost naked lady outside the department store and bought a family in Key West their dinner after watching them freak out for 15 minutes at the loss of their credit card.

I’m not trying to impress you. Almost everyone I know has done these kinds of things and even more important, help others in a million small ways on a daily basis. We don’t think about it. We let ourselves be “moved” in the moment, don’t consider the “risk” factor and act with compassion. It’s the kind of person I want to be and who I want to hang around with.

Saturday night, all that got put into question.

As we took a back way home from dinner late Saturday night, the windows rolled down and conversation flowing, we noticed a woman, man and young boy walking the dark street. Just as we passed I heard her yell “Don’t hit me!” I swung my head around and shouted to Brian “STOP!  Get out and see if she’s OK!”

And he did.

It was dark on that back road with just a tiny bit of light from a nearby apartment. We were right next to them and when I looked out the back, I saw the man’s face framed in the rolled down window - sweaty, angry as my husband said something like “Is everything Ok here?” In that split second I watched the man move aggressively toward him, yelling “Get the F--K into your car NOW and get out of here!”

What I couldn’t see from the front seat was the knife in his hand that he raised to the man I love. 

We sped around the corner, pulled over and called 911. As we stayed on the phone in the dark, my husband deeply shaken, I started feeling something I couldn’t yet put into words. I thought it was simply fear, but my heart was not racing. When we looped back around and saw the police had arrived, we took off. After landing at home, I texted my son to tell him what had happened.

His first concern was whether Brian was Ok. “Jesus! But’s he’s Ok?” “Sure you’re Ok?” “Are you guys safe now?” “Love you.”

Then this: 

“You can’t assume a guy who’s beating his wife is going to listen to you and Brian!”

“BE CAREFUL.”

And then the emotions that I couldn’t get a handle on in the car, washed over me. A sick feeling, all in a mixed up bag - that people are losing their S—T and some risks aren’t worth taking and I could have gotten my husband killed and what will happen to people in scary situations if we decide we can’t “jump in?”

My son called a few minutes later from a loud wedding reception, but he wanted to connect and tell me that he also, had just witnessed an ugly fight over a woman on his street the night before.  The thing is, after me teaching him for 19 years to “jump in no matter what”, at 28 he had learned himself to move further away that evening, keep his eye on what was happening and call 911.

I’m writing this because as sad as it feels to me, I think we all need to consider what our “first” action step is when someone clearly needs help. I don’t believe “jump in!” is my best decision anymore. And that said, I honestly can’t tell you that I wouldn’t automatically do it again if someone was being hurt.

It’s confusing. I want someone to be brave enough to help me if I ever am in a scary situation.  The individuals we call “hero’s”, engaging in everyday acts of kindness from saving a person drowning to protecting a child from an abusive, screaming parent all say something to the effect of “I didn’t think about it. I just knew they needed help.” 

And thank goodness, it all went well.

Maybe the opportunity for me and maybe for you, is to spend some time thinking about how we could best “help” in some specific situations that might arise as we go about our lives and having a bit of a plan to fall back on.  I like the video that circulated recently about how to support a person being bullied by engaging and befriending “them” and not fighting the bully. I think I’m going to put into action my son’s “step back further, keep an eye on what’s happening and call 911 immediately” approach.

I want to be brave enough to take a stand for what is right, what is needed and to help people who are scared or in a bad situation.  I also want those I love, actually everyone, to be safe and live to tell the story.

 

 

Dating Is NOT A Relationship!

I had my blog mentally written when I woke up this morning and then I jumped onto FB to do my usual posting before Coaching calls. I was stunned by what I found. In my own circle of casual acquaintances, no less than 12 postings were almost word for word the same:  “What the hell is the problem with men!? / women!? I tried dating again for a couple of months and I cannot believe what this&%$#  just did. I’m done. Why can’t men/women be taught to be mature, live with integrity and be kind, for God’s sake?”

A lot of frustration. 

And some real hurt stirred up.

What happened over the last 24 hours to kick this stuff up in the Universe? I have no idea. 

There was a full moon, but hey……….

Here’s what I do know. I could go through all my “Conscious Dating” material with you and remind you of the importance of having those strong “Requirements” in place so you can “sort & screen” with them. 

I could remind you that to find the person you not only have chemistry with, but who’s values, personality and quirkiness match yours, it means hanging in there through all the potential dates in which there is not a fit.

Or I could suggest that maybe whatever happened triggered a place in you that not only hurt a bit, but had you lose “hope” that a wonderful person was truly out there ‘’’and you freaked.

But today, I want you to begin right here, so that you don’t do an extreme shut down and keep yourself from some beautiful, meaningful connection out of anger, hurt and frustration.  Ok?

  1. Watch the black and white thinking. Nothing will get you stuck and keep you stuck quicker.  All men are not “a-holes” and all women are not “crazy.” That’s a knee jerk reaction, so clear that energy all the way out this week.
  2. Spend some time soothing yourself and writing. What are you upset about, really? What’s under that? What’s the fear that’s gotten kicked up, because BIG anger is deep fear.
  3. Here’s an interesting one. Why did you try another round of dating? Is this fully in alignment with what you want to draw into your life at this stage of the game, or was something / someone else the motivator?
  4. And then there’s this, so take a deep breath: more than likely, there’s something “familiar” here. One of the reasons we get so angry is that we find ourselves saying “Not AGAIN!!!”  And you know where I’m going with this, right? If there’s a recognizable pattern running through this hurtful situation my friend, YOU must flush it out and heal it, so it can be done.  D.O.N.E. done!

So before you rush to find that Requirements/Needs/Wants exercise I’ve had you do (email me if you want the handout!) and while you still feel the “heat” of this painful encounter, carve out some time this week to sit with the above 4 steps. 

My goal is to help you out of the hurt and frustration and get your feet back under you quickly. 

This doesn’t need to tank you. It’s brought you one step closer to a clear understanding of the kind of “awake”, loving, emotionally mature, equal partner you are seeking. Keep building a strong relationship with yourself and use any “cues” or triggers to fine-tune what is asking to be healed in you. 

Then keep your eyes forward and take the next step, with confidence

Remember:

DATING IS NOT A RELATIONSHIP.  DATING IS AN EVALUATION PERIOD TO DECIDE IF YOU WANT A RELATIONSHIP.

This mental shift should help lighten the process and allow you to actually enjoy all these cups of coffee, glasses of wine, walks and “get to know you” dinners!

Big love to you all ~

Barb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Low Is The Bar?

How low or high is the bar in your life?

What do I mean by that? 

Well, how low is the bar when you are dating or hoping to find the “love of your life?” This week I had a friend tell me “I’m simple. I don’t care about much of anything. He just needs to be tall and nice.”

Hmmmm.

How low or high is the bar when you think about expanding your business into new, exciting areas? Do you allow your creative juices to flow and entertain a full day retreat, including that local band you have a connection with, for entertainment or do you say holding a 1 hour phone teaching will be enough?

Trust me, I’m talking to myself here too, which is how I write everything! If a topic during the week seems to come up over and over with clients and also grabs me around the ankles, I know we all have something to look at that might be helpful.

What seems to happen is that we move through a series of “stuck” places in our lives and in our relationships, make no real movement, beat up on ourselves, get prodded by others to do something, then finally get so sick of our stagnation that we decide to  “just take ANY baby step” and call it good. And yes, I absolutely believe in baby steps and their ability to begin some solid forward movement.

But they also can be a place to hide behind. Baby step taken. I feel better about myself. I’m going to appreciate myself for getting into action, no matter how small. Done.

This is a surefire way to end right back up at the beginning – Stuck.

You know how we all hear those sayings like:

  • “Do what scares the crap out of you and see what happens!"
  • “Always go with the choice that scares you most!”
  •  “Feel the fear and do it anyway!”
  • “Do the one thing you think you cannot do!”  

After the initial burst of inspiration, how do you feel? Can you remain excited and swiftly move into a big action, or do you deflate quickly out of fear?

Can you begin setting the bar “high” and then keep moving toward it, holding the fear and excitement and roller coaster ride of emotions so that something BIG shifts or not?

And if not, why not?

Does just reading this and actually seeing the pattern give you the necessary boost to try taking what feels like a big risk? Can you remember a time that you threw caution to the wind and did just that? How empowering did it feel and what kind of inner strength and resilience did it add to your “toolkit?” Remembering the times in the past that I set the bar really high out of exasperation with myself, said some form of “Screw it” and took the leap ALWAYS helps fire me up to do it again!

What if you considered setting the bar “high” and:  

  • Finally left that sucky, painful relationship for good instead of taking a baby step by seeing him a little less?
  • Decided to hold fast to your own powerful Honor Code in every interaction you have with others, instead of being glad you “at least didn’t start yelling.”
  • Stopped gossiping altogether versus taking a small step to not tear a person down in a mean-spirited way.
  • Went ahead and took the money, paid for the community center in advance and announced the gathering/retreat/workshop/gig you were holding 60 days from today!
  • Quit the job that weighs so heavily on you instead of taking another baby step to see if one more conversation could change the culture of your team.

Over and over you hear me say, “Life is short.” 

I just had a client say to me that if she got a particular diagnosis back, she was going to sell her home and move to the European city she’s been longing to move to. The news was good. I asked, “Are you still going to move to your dream city?”

What would your answer be?

What are you waiting for? What would it take today, to set the bar really, really high in your life, whatever that means to you? Are you willing to risk it? What have you got to lose, really? 

I’m spending some time answering this for myself this week. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Big love,

Barb

What About Me?

“I’ve been taking care of people all my life and now I’m going to start doing exactly what I want to do!”

Have you heard this before? Have you said it yourself? Are you quietly thinking it now?

You’d be stunned if you knew how many times in a month I hear a woman say this directly to me or it gets thrown around in a discussion with other ladies. (Interestingly, in over 20 years of this work I’ve only had one man repeat this sentence to me.)

You would think that with all the transformation Coaching I do, blogs I write, keynotes I give and workshops I offer that cheer individuals on to live a fully authentic life, out-loud, their way, that I would shout out a big “Hell, yes!” to this kind of declaration. But actually, my initial hit is to cringe inside.

My first thought, if I’m being truly honest here, is “Why did you do that?”

My second thought, after so many years of working with couples, is “Who’s going to suffer now because of that choice you made?”

And here’s what I mean.

When the pendulum gets swung so far to one side that an individual neglects their own self- care, gets overly involved in helping others, puts caretaking of children, parents, friends and family members first above everything else, there’s simply got to be a huge swing back, right?

That swing back, in love relationships, usually comes in the form of a “mid-life crisis”, an “empty nester shut down”, the start of an emotional (or physical affair) or a sudden, unexpected breakup or filing for divorce. 

A woman’s decision to start thinking about themselves and how to bring personal fulfillment back into their lives may be prompted by a parent’s death, the last child graduating and moving out or a change in purposeful work, including retirement. Sometimes a health scare shakes the person awake and reminds them that life is short. 

And all this is wonderful, except when that pendulum is allowed to swing so far to the other side that impulsive, sweeping decisions are made out of sheer reactivity.

And others are steam rolled or suffer.

After talking with hundreds of clients over the years in this position, who were yelling at the top of their lungs “It’s time for ME!” I’ve seen a consistent missing piece that fuels the anger, reactivity and sets the stage for some decisions they’re going to regret:

You made this choice.

If that sounds harsh, please just take a deep breath and hear me again.

You made this choice.

Maybe it was a damn hard choice and one that felt like it left you deciding between two crappy options.

Maybe it was something as simple as deciding to step away from your career because it meant the world to you to be home with your kids and then you reached the point where you felt like you lost yourself because you didn’t remain engaged with the world.

Maybe you were already juggling family and work and volunteering for that important organization and then your parent began to decline so quickly that you felt you had no choice but to become their caretaker because you were the only sibling in town and on and on it went until you were completely disconnected from your spouse and exhausted and then that parent died. 

And you looked around, like “When is the last time I did anything for myself?”

Or maybe you found it impossibly hard to say “No” in any way, shape or form to the things you really didn’t want to get involved in so you kept taking on more and more, being the “go-to” person for people wanting help and started to enjoy a sense of being “needed” along with the accolades that came from being known as the woman who “can do it all!”

And still, you made this choice.

Whether you were fully aware of it or not.

I remember hitting this place myself in the 90’s.

I quit my fast paced career, moved to a state I hated with a new husband and small child and my days began centering around taking care of things;  the housekeeping, child rearing, pool cleaning, dinner recipes, caring for Aids patients and supporting a husband’s health issues. I thought I was handling it really well. A year and a half in, desperately trying to make new friends, I heard myself say over coffee one day, “I used to have a life.” The other woman laughed and we went on with our conversation. But that sentence kept ringing in my ears and that night I had a gigantic meltdown and shouted at my husband, “I can’t take all this caretaking junk! I need a life!” To which he immediately fell into defending himself and we had a nice ole’ argument. 

Why? 

Because I was throwing it out there as if…….wait for it……I hadn’t made the choice!

Do I applaud your decision to actually STOP all the habitual caretaking and focusing on everyone else so that you can begin visioning the kind of life that would bring you deep meaning and a feeling of vibrancy again? 

Absolutely!

And it begins with you sitting yourself down and acknowledging that regardless of the toll it took on you and whether you realized it then, you made a choice to do these things. That, my friends, is what empowers you to map out a new path forward and opens the door to gratitude for what you were able to give to others out of hopefully, Love.

This mindset lightens your heart. 

This acceptance supports you to stand strong in your ability to make good choices and helps you tell the truth about better decisions that will feed your soul now.

This personal ownership keeps you from reactive things like:

  • Blowing up your marriage because you’ve decided if your life is boring your partner must be, too
  • Succumbing to FB flirtations / affairs with old high school sweethearts because it’s “About time I felt excited, wanted and alive again!”
  • Treating your loved ones with blame and harshness because you assume they had a part in “making” you take care of them
  • Deeply hurting another’s heart by numbing out or shutting down emotionally from them, believing you can’t honor your desires AND your connection with them

Are you ready to put your arms around your own life again (or maybe for the first time!) and get those creative juices flowing? 

What do you miss most? What makes your toes tingle just thinking about it? What are you ready to start saying “No” to from here on out? How do you want to start feeling each day?

And, most important, before you begin that visioning……….

If there have been any quiet desires to “control” others, have things go your way, play the martyr, be seen as a self- sacrificing person or if you are seeking approval from others for all these things you keep doing, time to address that with yourself now. It will be impossible for you to live with the kind of lightness and inner freedom that you want if you are “getting something” from this.

Do you need some support to break this pattern and put everyone’s life back in their own hands? 

I’m here. Let’s do some solid work together.

Got this? Great. Let yourself off the hook for getting too involved and start having meaningful, honest conversations with those in your life who’ll be affected by you stepping back out. Invite partners to brainstorm about new possibilities for you both. Then model for everyone in your life what it looks like to practice good self-care, strong self-love and living with wild abandon!

 

The “Trying to End it” Basket

I think it was Dan Savage (OMG this guy makes me gasp at his advice in the Savage Love column, but he is truly so bright!) who said something once about the The “trying to end it” basket.

While I’ve spoken and written endlessly about the “stay or go” dilemma, finding yourself in the  “trying to end it” basket is not only a bit different, it can be even more painful because both parties are involved in this heart crushing quandary.

When a client comes to me beating their head against the wall, trying to decide if their relationship is “too bad to stay” or “too good to go”, most of them have been keeping it to themselves. Sure, they’ve been fighting. You bet their partner knows things are not going well. And yes, there have been times when someone’s shouted “I’m not doing this anymore!” Some have headed off for a night of cooling down at a friend’s house or even taken a short break, hoping to come back with a clear head and the ability to sit down and work things through. 

But that’s the difference. A part of them keeps holding on to the second part of the question – “Too good to go?” and remains emotionally invested.

When someone ends up getting stuck in “trying to end it” mode, I find they’ve actually made the internal decision to call it “done” and then keep falling into behaviors that keep them looping, hurting both parties unnecessarily

Why? 

Because we can make a clear, heart centered, gut level decision and still let our wild and wacky emotions throw us around until we’re bloody and exhausted, causing us to stall, question, then have to back track, and begin again.

What are those disastrous behaviors?

  • Just when there seems to be a real “break” in the connection, an individual will reach out with a text to just say “hi” or make a call about a “quick question”
  • A person will be hit with a wave of emotion from a song or a memory, lose track of every requirement that wasn’t met and pretend they’re confused about why they’ve ended it
  • There will be an intentional push to move immediately to a “friendship” in the hopes that they can at least have something with the former partner to soften the breakup blow
  • They run a constant “Why?” through their heads which keeps them from truly facing the ending and continues to hook them to their partner in their minds
  • A person will blow past the opportunity to accept the ending and continue to sit and stew in anger over all that transpired. Anger becomes the great connector.

If you know in your heart of hearts that wasting one more day pretending you don’t know whether to stay or go has got to stop, then take a deep breath and as they say, “find your Brave.” Of course you can do this. You have everything you need to put one foot in front of the other and walk all the way out. And I’ll bet, more support than you are remembering.

Trying to end it without landing in that damn basket again? 

  • Tell at least one person who matters to you that you HAVE DECIDED and ask for support to hold to the decision
  • List the top 4 reasons that you are ending the relationship (they should be strong deal-breakers that were not met) and keep them on you so you can remind yourself when you feel weak
  • Share in a  clear, calm and direct manner with your partner that you’ve made the decision to end the relationship, say WHY without personal attacks (just the facts ‘mam) and tell them exactly what your next steps will be
  • Rip the band aid off and follow through on those action steps pronto for both of your sakes
  • Let your soon to be “former” know that to help with the ending for you both, you want to agree to “zero contact” for an initial period of time if at all possible
  • Lean on your support person/ Coach/ community during highly emotional times so you don’t run back, then get caught in the “trying to end it” loop again

Here’s what I want to say about all of this and I hope you will listen.

Life is short. If you’ve been contemplating an ending for quite some time, then pay attention to those feelings. One of two things is going on and I’m going to tell it to you straight:  either you’ve got some healing and growing to do on your end so that you can come into alignment with your best self and be a healthy, happy partner or you need to get honest with yourself about the deal-breakers that aren’t being met and be willing to take the lead and end the relationship.

Stop waiting.

Get fully in and to work on yourself so you can see that the pain was coming mainly from your end or get out, be grateful for what you learned and for the newfound freedom and be strong enough to stay the course and allow both of you to move on.

Emotional maturity requires that we cultivate the inner strength to act on our own behalf and that we practice resilience as we journey through life, understanding we can and will get through the tough emotional times. 

You can do this. 

Big love to you,

Barb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Father’s Day Musings

Father and son black and white.jpg

Hey Dads….. pause for a moment to realize how truly important you are in your child’s life. You could be having a powerful, positive influence on them or be causing deep hurt, due to your own emotional immaturity and inner pain. Maybe you’re dying to help create a stronger bond and meeting resistance. Possibly you’ve given up or have convinced yourself that your presence in their lives doesn’t matter.

One way or the other, whether they are tiny or full grown, whether you see them every day or haven’t laid eyes on them in 2 years, your children are impacted by your presence or lack of it and by the love you share unconditionally or continue to withhold.

To all of the fathers I know who are trying their hardest to foster a connection and love their kids, stay the course. To any of you who tell me it doesn’t matter, your kids will be fine without you, I can’t emphasize enough how misguided this belief is. Get back in the game. For your own emotional well-being and for theirs.

Unconditional love from a parent is the soothing balm that goes straight to a child’s soul. They can’t tell you that. Don’t confuse this kind of love with tolerating behavior you refuse to entertain. These are two very different things.

Love can always remain at the forefront and slid as a love note under the firmly shut door.

And to all the Dad’s I’ve had in my own life - one toxic, some resilient, one who “saved” me, another who showed me what dedicated love for a child not of one’s own flesh could look like, I say thank you from the bottom of my heart. I know what it’s like to walk this wild journey called being a “Mom.” I believe the walk of “Father” may carry additional challenges in our world.

Please keep going. Know you are needed desperately.

And know we all send you and your children Love.

(And women, please……I am asking you from the bottom of my heart to support the men in your lives, to never block healthy connection, to celebrate any and all bonds that are trying to be forged and to lift up the men in your lives – including “ex’s” – so that they may continue to grow, change, awaken and lead their younger men toward wholeness)

Big love to you all ~ Barb