Friday, February 25, 2011

What are you missing?

What are you missing?

I love sharing client success stories. I am working with a woman now who is just ROCKING IT!!!!  She contacted me about six weeks ago because she was feeling tired, irritable, wanted a career change, and realized that her current reality wasn’t working for her.

After learning a bit more about this full time working mom with three small children, I quickly realized that she had no outlets or joy in her life other then spending time with her children.  YES, our children our lovely…but they can’t fulfill every aspect of our complex lives as women.

We started to explore what she was missing about her pre-mom self.  What was it that made her feel alive, relaxed, passionate and happy?  This rock star client dove right in rattling off things she used to love, and no longer incorporated into her life.

We developed a plan to bring back these activities.  With her new responsibilities and time constraints as a mom, she had to be creative about how and where she could plug in these missing parts-but she did it! 

Six weeks later, I speak to an upbeat and energized woman who is now ready to start working on a career change as she is now feeling centered and balanced instead of exhausted and negative.

You are so much more then a mom, an employee and a wife.  You have your own goals, dreams and working realities to create.  You will be so much better at all of your roles when you take self-care and your identity as a woman as seriously as you do your role as a mother!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Your cupcakes don't need to be homemade

If you follow my writing, or have ever received coaching from me, you have often heard me refer to "getting aligned with your priorities and values."  You may also catch me lovingly poking fun at moms who make perfect homemade cupcakes (symbolic of over-achieving moms who try to do everything and make the rest of us look bad)!

A wonderful real life example came to mind this week, and I wanted to share it with you.

My kids were psyched to come home and show me all of their Valentine treats they received yesterday.  Most of the contents in the bags were store bought Valentine cards- with perhaps a pencil or piece of candy attached to it.  My kids each brought home a few goodie bags, and a couple of homemade cards.  The one that really stood out was 3 handmade paper flowers assembled in a bouquet, with bows and tissue paper.  Wow... and to think she gave this gift to 20+ kids in the class.  Seeing the contents in my kids' bags prompted me to ask the following question on My Mama Mojo Facebook Page:

What kind of mom are you?
A) Made homemade Valentine cards or goodies for every child in your kid's class.
B) Attached a cute pencil or candy to a store bought Valentine.
C) Handed the store bought Valentine card to your child and let them figure out what to do with it
D) Forgot or opted out

The responses I received ranged from a self proclaimed "annoying over-achiever who made damn cute Valentine's"- to a mom who handed her kids paper, markers and scissors.

And do you know what???? It is all OK.  What isn't OK, is doing something out of guilt, expectations or competition.  If making homemade goodies for your child's classmates is fun for you-then great, do it!  If it is a chore or something you think you "should do", then ditch it and find something more fulfilling to do with your time.

Don't let your perceived expectations of motherhood define who you think you should be. Figure out what is important and meaningful to you and own it!  

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Owning Pink Children

Originally published on Owning Pink

My 5 year-old daughter has been known to wear some outrageous outfits. She has always been resistant to wearing what we chose for her, or taking our input about clothing at all. We have spent many a days asking her to reconsider wardrobe choices, and trying to teach her that she need not place every hair accessory she owns on her head at the same time. A general “less is more” stylist approach I used to take. She is fondly remembered at our local grocery store for wearing snow boots and a scarf in July -- for a week straight. She often pairs multi colors and patterns that make your eyes twitch, and her general “uniqueness” of her self-styled hairdos can’t go unmentioned. After countless negotiations, embarrassing moments and argument with my husband about what we would and wouldn’t allow her to wear in public, our daughter at age 3 ½ finally looked at us and said, “Just let me be me.”
Point taken and lesson learned
I remember immediately thinking that she was right. She was wise beyond her years -- and a great example of how we learn from our children. As I pondered why it bothered me that she didn’t match and sometimes looked down right comical -- it wasn’t about her at all. It was all about me -- and how I felt it reflected on me as a mother. Somehow I used to think that if people saw her outrageous outfits that they would view me as not “in control” of my kids and that I let them do whatever they please. This is not the type of mother I wanted to be at all. I didn’t want to control my children, and I certainly didn’t want to strip their creativity and individuality. I wanted to encourage my kids to make their own choices, to think outside the box and to embrace differences in others. I was embarrassed to admit that my apprehension about letting her dress the way she wanted was out of fear of what other people thought. This was completely out of character for me -- and not something I wanted to model for my children.
On my third date with my husband I remember discussing the type of parents we would be if we ever had children. We laughed as we playfully tossed around scenarios: What if they wanted blue hair? How about if they wanted to be a multi-tattooed rock star, or wear underwear on their head? We agreed that this was all OK by us -- that we wanted to be the type of parents who celebrated our children for who they were and to teach them to own their uniqueness. I knew from this day on that he was a keeper. Reflecting on our parenting thus far, we were consistent with our parenting intention on every other level, but this one. I had to not only let this wardrobe thing go, but embrace it as a wonderful part of my daughter owning herself.
After owning this realization, I had a discussion with a close friend of mine who also has a daughter who (clearing my throat) has her own sense of style. I always admired my friend’s attitude about her daughter’s choice of clothes, so I asked for her thoughts on the subject. She shared a story with me…She too, liked to dress herself with creative flare as a child. She has fond memories of putting a lot of thought and effort into what she considered to be a beautiful outfit. She would walk down the stairs to where her father would smile, and tell her she looked beautiful. She thinks back now, and has comic relief at what she wore to school, church and parties, but one of her fondness memories is her father’s confidence in her ability to chose. To my 40 year-old friend, this is one of her greatest self esteem builders to date. Lesson learned…I had some changin’ to do!
The test
I haven’t said a word about her attire in more then two years. I was certain that upon starting kindergarten, peer pressure would influence her wardrobe choices. My theory was debunked -- and I couldn’t be more proud of her. Earlier this week I witnessed a few girls slightly older than my daughter giving her a hard time about her choice of shoes. They circled her asking repeatedly, “Why would you wear slippers to school?” When the interrogation didn’t stop, and she looked like she was going to cry, I encouraged her by saying, “This is what you choose to wear because you liked them, and thought they were comfortable. YOU DO YOU -- and rock those shoes today!” And she did! She rocked them that day and the next, and the day after that. She didn’t stop wearing them due to a little teasing. When I asked her about the incident, she only said, “I don’t care. I like being different.  I am unique.”  I told her she was my hero!
Three Pink cheers to our creative and confident kids… and for the parents who are teaching them to own it!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Jump outside of your comfort zone

Posted originally on Owning Pink

outside of comfort zone

I am the boss of my fears
I write this post literally sitting on a plane traveling across the country. To many, traveling is a common occurrence, but I have not been on a plane in three years because I hate to fly. Let me back up and tell you that I have three situations that make me horribly uncomfortable: 1) flying, 2) traveling and 3) public speaking. This weekend I am tackling all three, and I am so freaking proud of myself for getting this far.
When Lissa Rankin emailed me to inquire about my interest in a special project with her, I was honored…and super psyched! The project was right up my alley, but  I had 'wrongly' assumed that I would be asked to write an experiential piece, or be interviewed via telephone for my contributions. It wasn’t until after I enthusiastically accepted -- “Sure, I would love to help out” -- that I was given the details of the project by the sponsors: a video shoot in Los Angeles…for which I would need to be physically present… in less than two weeks!
My initial enthusiasm flipped to complete terror. What had I just agreed to? The mere thought of flying made me what to throw up (literally). Impending every trip I have ever been on, the dread and sleepless nights start weeks prior to the actual departure. I am an uneasy traveler to say the least. I pack, unpack, catastrophize all the things that can go wrong -- and have a terrible sense of direction and time -- leaving me lost and chasing my tail everytime I leave for a trip. I like my creature comforts of home. Traveling sends me too far from my comfort zone and I have been known on many occasions to decline fabulous offers of travel if I had to fly or stay away from home for too long.
Although I have always received positive feedback from public speaking engagements, the task is always completed with a bundle of nerves and an almost out-of-body experience to get me through it. When I speak on camera or in front of a crowd, no amount of planning or rehersal makes a bit of difference -- as something takes over and I have no idea or control over what comes out of my mouth! So to say that embracing all three of these fears at the same time has been consuming me for the past two weeks would be an understatement. I have passed up professional growth opportunities because my discomfort was too much for me to handle. I am owning all three of these fears (at least for this weekend)!
Go with your gut
After I committed to Lissa's project, I won’t go on about all of the realistic and not so realistic thoughts I had of everything that could possibly go wrong. Let’s just say that after I had a reoccuring thought of my plane going down in the ocean and drowning leaving my widowed husband with motherless children, I set an intention to stop thinking all crazy! I was either going to apologetically decline the offer, or change my perspective about going -- because where I was currently living in fear was making me nuts! I decided to do it, and to do it completely. I thought back to my initial feeling when the opportunity presented itself. These were feelings of excitement, possibility and pride. I wanted to go back to that place. I couldn’t ignore all the fear, but I wasn’t going to let this discomfort own my decision or me. If going outside of your comfort zone wasn’t such a big and sometimes scary experience, they wouldn’t call it “outside your comfort zone”. It would be called the “warm and cozy zone”. I was damn scared, so I must be doing it right -- I took these natural feelings and started to view them as growth. I was ready to spread my wings and fly.
What works for me
I was very in-tune with this emotional journey. I thought back to previous times in my life of stretching, growing -- and yes, discomfort -- as I went outside of my comfort zone. I felt similarly as I embarked on every major milestone and life event: going away to college, moving far from my family as a young adult, getting married, career choices, starting a family, creating a business, etc.  All of these events had a series of emotional triggers. The pattern, that I haven't unveiled until now, has always worked for me in the end. I love my life, I own every major decision I ever make, and I have no regrets. I must be on to something! I realize that everyone has a different decision making process and an array of coping mechanisms associated with the discomforts of getting outside of your comfort zone. In sharing my process, I hope to inspire someone else to start his or her own comfort zone challenge. Whether you are a baby toe in the water kind of person, or you zestfully jump right in the pool, you have a process that works for you. You just have to discover it.  
My discovered process
  • Initial reaction. Go back to your first emotional response.  Was it something positive? Is it still there? Would you do it if you knew you couldn’t fail? If you had a magic wand to make all the fear disappear, how would you feel about moving forward?  
  • The “oh crap” feeling. Know that going outside of your comfort zone will elicit some negative feelings. Acknowledge them, and then debunk all of your irrational thoughts. Thank them for being a part of your journey and tell them to get lost.
  • Commit-Just do it! What is your heart calling you to do? Don’t just commit in your head, but tell another person, tell everyone you know.  Make a payment, book your flight, register and sign your name on the dotted line -- make it hard to turn back. Keep the energy moving in a forward direction. Pretty soon, you will be owning whatever it was that made you fearful.
  • Work out the details as they come. After you are fully committed, details can and will be worked out. Don’t let yourself get bogged down with the details before you are fully committed, as they just add irrational reasons not to do something. Continue to move forward and the rest will figure itself out.
What would do right now if you knew you could not fail? How does it feel if you own up to the fact that growth is uncomfortable -- because you are in fact out of your comfort zone? Do you have a process for working through all the muck and owning it despite your fears?
Wishing you a limitless life, and may your fears take a good ass kicking! 
Photograph is of June Meyers, skydiving at age 90 (Bing)
Heather Sobieralski
Life Coach for Moms