Tag Archives: Awareness

Astericking Ourselves

I play co-ed softball every Wednesday night. Of course, there are more men than women playing. More often than not, the girls play the “easier” positions and bat further down in the lineup. I suppose that fine if it’s based on ability. Game after game, I watch the men walk confidently, making plays and cheering all of their teammates on. They believe the women can play…it’s the ladies who consistently downplay their abilities.

For most of the games, I play catcher, which means I interact with the batters. While there are outliers, the majority of the female hitters get into the box and immediately doubt themselves. “I’ll feel better once I hit the ball pass the pitcher…” “I just want to make contact, I don’t care if I make an out.” I promise you these are direct quotes. It takes all my energy to not to say something! Like I mentioned in my last post, what we think is what we become. I wish these women would believe in their abilities just an ounce more…

My co-ed softball league is one small example. I’ve seen this play out on a bigger stage, like on a panel at a conference. I watched many successful women with meaningful careers asterisk themselves in front of hundreds of OTHER WOMEN who PAID to be there. Let me share some examples from the panel and elsewhere:

  • “I’m sorry if I’m talking to much about XYZ experience..” She said this to a room full of people who PAID to hear about THESE EXACT EXPERIENCES.
  • “I’m sorry we’re having so much fun up here..” Because fun is a bad thing? Especially between two bad ass women? *Insert eye roll*
  • In the subject line of an email: “Notes + Next Steps (sorry this email is so long)..” Wait, you’re apologizing for giving us information we need for the project? Can we all see how crazy this is?!

As women, we asterick ourselves and apologize for everything: Doing our jobs, living our best lives, working hard. I don’t want to hear an I’m sorry from another woman unless she ate my lunch out of the office fridge or murdered someone. Here’s what happens when we continue to “a word” all over ourselves.

  • Our credibility goes out the window. Think about it written out. Would you put an * saying this isn’t really my experience, I didn’t really work hard for this on your resume? I bet not.
  • By saying sorry all the time, when we actually need to apologize (it happens!), the words have lost their meaning. It’s like the boy who cried wolf.
  • By using the “when I” phrase, we’re letting life pass us by. I’ll do this when I’m [skinner, smarter, etc.]. Will you? Why not try it today? Sure, you should train for a 5K if you’re not a runner. We let fear paralyze us into inaction.

The silver lining with astericking and apologetics is that we’re not alone. I personally believe it’s how the majority of women are wired. What that gives us is a community of women who can generate awareness and help each other rise above the fear and insecurity. At work, ask for feedback from someone you trust. Before you blurt out an apology, pause to reflect on what you’re apologizing for. Did you hurt someone? Were you intentionally unkind? You don’t need to dim your light so others can shine. We can all shine together! And anyone who thinks otherwise isn’t worth your energy.

Believe me, I don’t get this right everyday. I still have to hold back from apologizing for being my extroverted, outgoing self. With awareness and a top notch girl gang who holds me accountable, I’m making progress. Come join me and put the apologizing behind you.

Extra Measure of Grace

May is Mental Health Awareness so I’ve decided to write a series of posts highlighting what I know about mental health. While I’m not a trained mental health professional, I do believe that the only way to remove the stigma associated with mental illness is to talk about.

The challenging part of these issues is that they’re unseen and hard to articulate symptoms as many vary by person or develop over time. Regardless, it starts with you and generating a self-awareness about what you’re experiencing.

Showing yourself grace and compassion is essential as you work through whatever you’re experiencing. I’ve learned to label the energetic dip I experience as the recovery zone. This typically occurs after a period of high energy expenditure, like overly busy times at work or gearing up for a holiday. It also happens to me after bouts of increased anxiety. I become overstimulated, peak and hit a valley that’s challenging to come up from.

Some label this as burnout or high functioning depression; only you can name it to tame it. This place isn’t just low energy, its exhausting, a place where everything is hard and where you can see the way out but aren’t sure how to get there. It’s a place that’s necessary though it can be lonely as I’m the only one who can climb my way out.

This will likely look different for each person – it should! These are not cookie cutter experiences or solutions. When I’m recovering, here are a few ways I return to my steady state.

  • Generate an awareness that I’m there. A few indicators include not being able to fall asleep, lack of motivation to do anything, more snacking and a quicker temper.
  • Flow with the tide. There’s no magic bullet to pull me out. I feel the feels aka cry at every commercial and don’t force myself into doer mode. It’s very much about being in order to restore my own energy.
  • Love thy self, hard. This should have been the first commandment. I increase my self care where I can – exercise, binge watching, reading a book. I *try* to speak to myself the way I’d speak to my best friend, with care and compassion and give myself an extra measure of grace.
  • I let go of others’ judgement. *Insert eye roll here.* This is the hardest part for me. People hear recovery or burnout or depression and generally become helicopter friends. That’s not what I need. Support from a distance. Know that if someone you love is in this season, they have the resources they need within to recover. Walk beside them, not behind them pushing them along.

This is a season, a moment, not a place I’ll live forever. I’ve learn to accept my internal wiring and know I’ll come out the other side stronger. I’ve also created more routines that help prevent longer periods of recovery – things like daily exercise, meal prepping, monthly therapy and massages. I believe I’ll always experience this and find it to be a restorative process.

How do you show yourself grace when struggling mentally or emotionally?

Flowing with the Universe

The universe works in mysterious ways. If you show up for it, it will show up for you. Give a little, get a little, or least that’s the theory.

In recent weeks, the universe sent me several signs, some positive, some startling. I absorbed each with anticipation and resistance. That was my first mistake. When the universe gives you the preverbal lemons, you must make lemonade. I’m learning to flow with the universe, to receive each sign with excitement (instead of fear or resistance), to be an active participant in my life.

We all know the people who walk around letting life happen to them. I could easily be one of those people AND sometimes really horrible things do happen that we have no control over. Yet, the majority of the time, we do have a choice on how we respond to what the universe sends to us. I call this active participation in our reality, you might refer to it as going with the flow or rolling with the punches. We’re saying the same, my dear reader.

The SecretSo how? What does active participation looks like?  It can be hard to find time to reflect on signs from the universe. Your days, like mine, as likely jammed packed with varying priorities at work, at home or in your community. It’s key to carve out space to just be with the universe. Stillness and silence help me really process things that have happened, people who have been put in my path for no reason at all, the timing of such events and so on. I also use people I trust as sounding boards, to talk through my reactions to these signs. Another perspective can be a plus when you’re trying to make sense of something that appears to be nonsensical.

Why is it so damn hard sometimes? For starters, finding time is hard. I also feel like when I’m not “doing” something, I’m wasting time. This is a wrong assumption; reflection, quiet time and journaling are all necessary to help move through emotions, triggers and situations. It’s also a hell of a lot easier to play the victim card and ask the universe why the situation/relationship/enter your own word is terrible/painful/enter your own negative adjective. This is a normal human reaction that we must start to recognize in ourselves. Only with awareness can we call bullshit and react more positively to what’s happening.

So what does active participation in one’s life look like? Getting off the couch on a Saturday night to watch the game at a bar instead of staying home. It’s aligning what’s important to you, your why, with your actions. If you say your health is important, then you need to actively prioritize it in your own way. What that looks like for you might be different from me and that is exactly how it should be. It’s an iterative process for sure and your why can change, likely it will as you experience new gifts from the universe.

The Seriousness of Suicide

Javon Belcher

Javon Belcher

On Saturday morning, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot himself at Arrowhead Stadium after killing his girlfriend. The 25 year-old professional football player hadn’t missed a start with the Chiefs since he began there in 2009. Belcher and his girlfriend leave behind a 3-month old baby girl. Both the Chiefs’ head coach and general manager witnessed the suicide early Saturday morning.

All of the Kansas City Chiefs players commented that Belcher was a great teammate and someone who worked hard on and off the field. Everyone around him didn’t see any warning signs and can’t grasp why Belcher would end his life. A professional athlete whose dream came true with supportive teammates and a baby daughter; what could have been so bad that he chose to take such drastic measures?

While the actions of Jovan Belcher were tragic, one positive lesson that comes from this situation is the attention it draws to mental illness. Clearly, Belcher was not in his right state of mind when he went trigger happy on Saturday morning. Mental illness does not discriminate or come with a warning. All different types of people suffer from depression, rage, anxiety and various other problems that put them into a dark place. Sometimes there are warning signs, but usually there aren’t. The only real way to help those suffering from mental illness is to remove the stigma from such diseases. People should not be afraid to talk about what they are feeling, regardless of how extreme.

The Kansas City Chiefs released a statement Saturday saying how great a loss it was and sent prayers to his family. More importantly, the Chiefs did not become involved in any of the speculated drama between Belcher and his girlfriend. They focused their message on the loss of their teammate. The most poignant statement was the Chiefs continuing to play their game on Sunday to honor their fallen teammate and his love for the game.

In response to the Jevon Belcher suicide, the NFL launched a suicide help line for current and former NFL players. All phone calls will be kept confidential and the service will be ran independently from the NFL. On their website, there are a series of videos featuring NFL players including Brett Favre telling players that it is okay to ask for help. This is an important step for the NFL to take in order to support all its players. It is also a smart, conscious response to a crisis that shines a positive light on a negative situation.

The Kansas City Chiefs at Sunday's game

The Kansas City Chiefs at Sunday’s game

I am beyond happy to see the NFL aid its players in the real struggle they are facing today. By bringing the issue of suicide to the forefront, hopefully other players and people will be able to get help. Suicide is not something to joke about and must be taken seriously. If you or anyone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, remember there are people out there to help you.

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