Do It Anyway

Like the French, I took August off.  In my case, it was from blogging – not the Parisian heat.

Actually, I didn’t take a month off from writing the blog, but rather posting it.  I wrote four of them but couldn’t press:

PUBLISH.

It’s been puzzling me why this has become so hard.  I’ve only committed to blog once a month.  How difficult could that be?

Clearly, pretty difficult.

I was speaking to my friend Lori last week and told her how I was just going to skip the August blog and start again in September.

Didn’t you commit to writing and posting every month? she asked in that Lori, very understanding but you-don’t-get-off-the-hook-that-easily, way.

Yes, I told her.  I did but –

The month’s not over yet, she then said.

Oh, crap.  Then I heard myself saying, I hate you, I hate you, I hate you – part of it in my head, then part of it out loud.

She just laughed.

I went to an EFT Workshop in July.  I think that’s where the discomfort began.

EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) or Tapping is a healing modality that uses tapping on meridian or energy points on the body to help alleviate stress and pain.  And lots of other things.

I’ve been incorporating it in my practice more and more as a way to tap out limiting beliefs and blocks and tap in their positive counterparts.

If you don’t know about EFT, it might sound strange but I have seen amazing results from it and there are studies that back up its effectiveness.

Back to the workshop.  It was great.  I met wonderful people – healers of all varieties.  I opened up about myself and my intuitive work with complete strangers who had come together for a common mission.  I learned lots and had lots of fun.  Connections were made.  Lots of authenticity was going down.  It absolutely exceeded my expectations in every way.

The Workshop ended and I felt so full, so alive.  And I wanted to share.  I wanted to write.  I wanted to tell everyone about the weekly tapping group that I was planning.  I wanted to move forward.

But I couldn’t.   I just couldn’t.   I’d write partial blogs and make partial plans.  Moving forward was suddenly a Herculean task for someone who was feeling more and more wimpy.

What was wrong with me?

Finally, it began to come clear.  During the Workshop, I had expanded.  I expanded my scope and my circle.  And these new people might actually read my blog – or visit my website.  They suddenly became more people to whom I would show more of my real self.  More of my vulnerabilities.  More of who I am.

Couple that with the idea of starting a weekly group and adding more new people to the mix – well that was starting to feel like too much.  What the hell had I signed up for?  Who did I think I was?  What do I have to say that’s so special or blog-worthy?

I hadn’t realized it then but I had started to contract.  I had started hiding.  I was pulling back.

Why is being real and being seen so darn frightening?

The best answer I can come up with on this Labor Day, the 2nd of September 2013, is that it just is.  It is part of the human experience to resist change.  To hide.  To not show our real selves.  In some strange, illusory and compelling way, it makes us feel safe.  It makes us feel protected.  It can be so much easier to contract instead of expand.

In the moment.

But what a lie this is.  Meticulously folded into our DNA over tens of thousands of years, this directive to contract keeps us from thriving.

Expansion is the gateway to what we want in our lives.  Expansion is the doorway to fully living and fully loving.  Expansion is the answer.

But expansion can be fucking scary.

Then I hear my wise one, Lori, in my head saying – okay, it’s scary but so what.  Do it anyway.

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I hate that she’s always right.  And I hate that I am writing this blog a month late.  But I am writing it.  I am expanding.

Then it occurs to me that commitment is the constant act of expansion.  Showing up everyday.  Moving forward one measly step at a time.  Lots of little expansions making up bigger expansions.

All the clichés are true after all.  Rome really wasn’t built in a day.

So in this state of discomfort and excitement, I commit to this horrible, terrible, wonderful thing called expansion and press:

PUBLISH.

Please Don’t Feel This

I was working with a client the other day and I could tell she was hitting the wall.  We’ve only seen each other a few times and I could see our work together was bringing up a lot of emotion.  She even told me, “I don’t know how I can do all this.  There’s so much to deal with – it’s too overwhelming.”

I understood what she meant.  It can definitely feel overwhelming when we start unpacking all the baggage we’ve been carrying around for years.   It can be daunting.  And scary.  Especially when those pesky emotions start rising to the surface.

Which they do.  They always do.

I don’t know about you but I have spent a lifetime learning how to keep those puppies down.  Because emotions can totally suck.  Who wants to feel fear or loneliness or shame or inadequacy?

Nope.  Let’s not do that.  Why not have a drink instead?  Or a cigarette?   Or a pill?  Maybe a piece of pie?   Or how ’bout the whole pie?

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It’s all the same.

I call those Easily Identifiable Emotion Suppressants.  In moderation, they’re called vices.

In excess, they’re called addictions.

Addictions are awesome, btw.  I used to smoke cigarettes.  And I loved it.  I could take the edge off almost any emotion with a cigarette and a can of Coca Cola.  Ah…  Nothing like it.

What I found interesting was this: I smoked more when I was sad or stressed out.  Of course – that makes sense.  But I also smoked more when I was happy or when something good happened.

Hmmmm.

What was that about?

Okay.  I’ll tell you what that was about!  I was uncomfortable with my negative AND positive emotions, i.e., I was uncomfortable with ALL MY EMOTIONS.

Keep it neutral.  Keep it safe.  That was my unspoken motto.

When something good or bad would happen, an alarm would go off in my mind that said:  Please don’t feel this.

So I wouldn’t.

Now cigarettes and booze and pie are not the only ways to avoid our emotions.  Equally damaging and even more convincing are the Socially Acceptable Emotion Suppressants.

Those go under the headings of Perfectionism, Fear, Worry, the Need to Please, Always Keeping Busy – and a host of others.  They seem harmless enough.  But I don’t believe fear, for instance, is a real emotion.  (Unless you’re getting chased down the street by a maniac).

These Emotion Suppressants feel like emotions but are really masking the true emotions – the ones we don’t want to feel.  I’ll give you an example:  I’m so sad because I don’t feel good enough and nobody is ever going to love me.  I’m so sad I think I might die.

 Now that’s an emotion!

We’ll do almost anything not to feel it.  But what are we actually running from?  Why are our emotions so darn frightening?

I think it’s because we don’t have enough tools to help us work through them.  They can feel so uncomfortable.  As humans, we will do anything to avoid being uncomfortable.  Because somehow, some way, we are convinced that that little uncomfortable feeling is going to kill us.

So back to my client and the overwhelming emotions.  I couldn’t lie to her.  I had to say feeling the emotions is part of the healing process.   Because it is.   It took a long time to bury them all.  It’s going to take a little time to dig them out.

And it’s going to be uncomfortable.

For a while.

Until you start actually listening to the emotions.  And realizing they’ve been trying to tell you things all along.  Good things.  Real things.  Our emotions are our great internal truth-tellers.  When we were sad as a child, it was real.  When that friend hurt our feelings, it was real.

But at some point, we stopped listening to the hurt.  We stopped listening to the joy.   (’cause it’s all the same)

We stopped listening to our internal truth.

Don’t you remember – you were really okay when you fell down and skinned your knee.  You were really okay when your friend didn’t invite you to her sleepover.  You were really okay when you got yelled out and it wasn’t your fault.

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At least, that’s what somebody told you.  And every time we chose to believe them, the volume on our internal voice got turned down a notch.  We quit listening to our emotions.  We quit listening to their wisdom and truth.  Until, one day, they were strangers.  Frightening, unwanted and suspicious strangers.

Choosing to feel instead of choosing to numb is a noble act.  But it’s okay to take it in little bites.  We have to remember – all those emotions weren’t buried in a day.  It might take a series of days or weeks or even years to bring them all back to the surface.  During the process, my best advice is kindness.  Self-kindness.  Self-love.  What a concept.

Take a walk.  Take a nap.  Read a Louise Hay book.

And breathe.

It’s all going to be okay.

Shapeshifters Anonymous Part 1

Shapeshifters are not just in science fiction.  They are here in real life.  And if you are reading this, there’s a chance you may be one of them.

Before I write another word, I am going to re-introduce myself.  Hi.  My name is Dana.  And I am a Shapeshifter.

Welcome to Shapeshifters Anonymous. 

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Whew.  That feels better.  I have been circling this blog entry for weeks now.  I knew it was the next subject but I couldn’t seem to get to it.  I’d be all set up to write and it just wouldn’t come.  Initially, the idea had been so clear.  It came so fiercely.  But as time went by, I started second-guessing myself.  I started slowing down.

Shapeshifting?  Who wants to hear about Shapeshifting? 

It can wait.

So I started looking at my list of blog topics again (yes, people, there is a list!) to see if something else called out to me.  Hmmm.  It didn’t.

This is when the ‘Evolved Me’ would usually say, “Dana, have you considered you might be resisting this?  Have you thought this subject might be a little too close to home?  Are you eating all that chocolate because it might just be too revealing?”

Problem was, ‘Evolved Me’ had clearly gone to Palm Springs for the weekend and I, on my own, just wasn’t getting it.

So I waited.  And tried to be gentle with my troubled little self. Until she returned from the desert and together, we confronted the ONE THAT WOULD NOT WAIT.

So let’s get to it.

As defined by the Oxford English Dictionary (courtesy of my British husband) a Shapeshifter is “a person or being with the ability to change their physical form at will.”

As a kid, I loved the idea of shapeshifting.  I remember a character in Space 1999 (Anybody?!) who was a Shapeshifter and I thought that was cool.  She could morph into anyone she wanted.  What a fantastic power.  Almost as good as flying.  I secretly wanted to be like that.

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What I’d give to time travel back to that girl with the Dorothy Hamill haircut and tell her – YOU SECRETLY ARE LIKE THAT!

I say secretly because I don’t think anyone knew.  I was very confident – especially as a teenager.  I seemed very self assured.  But that girl wasn’t really me.

She was a form of me.  A Shape I took in order to be okay in this world, to be safe.  From an early age, I learned that achievement would get me far.  We were a family of achievers.  I learned how to jump through hoops.   I learned how to get love and approval.  I learned how to work the system.  And I was good at it…

For a while.

But it was exhausting.  And the real me wanted some daylight.

If I could have just kept her buried, it all would have turned out fine.  But she would not keep quiet.  She would not be still.  This girl was going to be heard and I was going to have to deal with the consequences.

Problem was, like a lot of us (especially women), I had dual signals running through my energy system.  I so wanted to be myself and follow my own calling.  But at the same time, I needed to please that Authority Figure that kept showing up in my life.  That seemingly powerful person who I had to please so I could be okay.  Usually it was a man.  But sometimes it was an intense or controlling woman.

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I was so allergic to the type.  I wanted nothing to do with them.  So pleasing sometimes showed itself in me as rebellion.  But at the end of the day, as different as they seemed, pleasing and rebellion were two sides of the same coin.  Neither made me the center of my own universe.  Whether I was pleasing or rebelling, it was always about someone else.

Underneath it all, the ‘Pleaser’ and the ‘Rebel’ both need to be approved of to be okay.  They do it in different ways but the root is the same.  I was adept at taking on both roles.  One day I could be sweetly manipulative and the next I could be angry and blaming.  If I could just manage the moods of the cast of Authority Figures who were always showing up in my life, then maybe I would be okay.  Or maybe, more importantly, I could finally be free of them.

But as soon as I vanquished one, another would slip through the revolving door to take its place.  And the pattern would start all over again.

It was no fun.  And the world was turning out to be a very unsafe place.  I couldn’t please him and I couldn’t shake him.  This imaginary Authority had never given me permission to love and approve of myself.  That was his job.  He decided if I was worthy of being loved.  He decided if I was good enough.

I see this so clearly in hindsight.  I understand that for a multitude of reasons, I did not feel like I was allowed to take the reins of my own life.  And that created a lot of frustration and pain.  And a lot of feeling stuck and getting nowhere.

Finally, I realized I had to change and choose myself first. I had to be the one to decide if I was lovable or good enough.  And that meant being authentic. That meant I had to be real. That meant I was going to have to give up the Shapeshifting.

It’s an ongoing recovery.

Funny thing, the more I show up authentically and set that daily intention for my life, the less I see of that old Authority Figure.  He just doesn’t come around much anymore.

And when he does and triggers my old need to please (or rebel), I take a breath and say, “there will be none of that today.”  If I start to feel like I want his approval – if I feel myself wanting him to give me a gold star, I take a step back.  I push away from the bar.

It’s the deal I have made with myself.  I’m the only one who gets to give me a gold star now.

 

This has been part of my story of Shapeshifting.  I call this Part I because intuitively, I know there are more pieces to come  (when they are ready).   If you feel like sharing a Shapeshifting experience, please do.  Anonymously or not.  We are all in this together.

 

Website Remorse

Maybe you’ve been there.  You’ve had this little business for a while and everybody says, “Why don’t you have a website?” “How do you expect anyone to find you if you’re not on-line?”

Well, I had an easy answer for that.  People find me as they need me.  Word of mouth is just fine for me.  It all happens in divine time.  I don’t need to put myself out there. I don’t need for people to actually know what I do.

And besides, what I do can sound a little weird.  Not to me.  Not to my friends and clients who understand it.  But what about those other people?  You know, those facebook people you haven’t seen in 20 years or that relative who has no idea about the real you.  Did I really want to be seen by them?

I couldn’t deny the possible answer in all of this. Maybe, just maybe, I didn’t want to be found at all.

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So when the knock inside my head finally became loud enough and I decided grudgingly to start contemplating a website name, all the ones I liked were already taken.  That Go Daddy moment was definitely not working out for me.  Anything that sounded remotely like me just wasn’t available.

I was beginning to lose hope.

And I was beginning to feel relieved.  There were no website names.  Great.  I could retreat.  I could contract.  I could quit this whole enterprise – who needs the 21 st century anyway?  Maybe expanding out into the world and showing people who I really was wasn’t such a great idea after all.

I could just go back inside my hole.  What a relief.  There’s color TV in there.

Then I typed in three little words:  Showing Up Authentically.  Oh, dear.  It worked.  It was available.

And I was screwed.

Of course, I didn’t know that at first.  At first, I thought – terrific, hell yeah.  That’s the perfect name for my website.  I believe in those two things above everything else:  showing up everyday and being authentic.  It’s the combination that has changed my life.  I bought the domain name immediately.  No hesitation.  I signed on the dotted line.  I was overjoyed.

Until the next morning when I woke up with buyer’s remorse and a bad “oh shit, do I really have to show up authentically” hangover.

Now, I should put in a disclaimer here.  I’ve gotten pretty good at showing up authentically.  I work at it.  I challenge myself.  I’m a girl who can really feel her feelings.

But let’s not kid ourselves.  Showing up Authentically can be a tall order.  In the light of day, I was becoming more and more aware of those dark corners inside that I didn’t want anyone to see.  I barely showed them to myself.  And what, now I was going to have to BLOG about them.  Oh, crap.

After a little anxiety and a little hysteria, I sat down and had a little talk to myself.  Dana, I said, You believe in this stuff.  On a daily basis, this stuff changes your life for the good.  I believe that helping others live their own most honest lives is a great calling. So what are you so scared of?

That’s when I realized the website name was perfect.  Because we’re always a work in progress.  By calling my website Showing Up Authentically, I’d have no excuses. I’d have to show up authentically (or at least try) even in the hard places, even in the shame places, even in the places I don’t want to share.  But those places are real and valid and inform who I am – so far.  So that’s okay.  I can live with that.  And as we get to know each other, I’d like to gently suggest that you can, too.

Thanks for reading my first post.  I’ve got lots of thoughts and ideas and practices that I plan on sharing. I have launched a Showing Up Authentically facebook page and I’d love you to come visit.  Okay, strike that inauthentic statement.  Rather, come by, check it out if you like.  Oh, did I just say the word LIKE?  Ugh.  Clearly, authentically, I’m going to have to warm up to this!

To being real,

Dana