Articles for May 2013

Spit Happens


One of the more glamorous aspects of my current position as a school counselor is being a member of a team of individuals trained to handle crisis situations involving students who have lost control of their behavior. During one such event last week I was the recipient of a well-timed and expertly aimed shower of spittle. In my face.

In the moment all I could do was take care of the job I was there to do; and then a bit later I was able to wipe my face clean and continue. (My cohorts also needed clean-up after the event ended. I had not being singled out for special treatment.)

As you might imagine, that was a memorable event – one that has been the topic of a few conversations and ponderings the last few days. Our Crisis Prevention and Intervention training teaches us to stay rationally detached from any outpouring of colorful comments (and/or precipitation) that might come our way while dealing with an AOP – Acting Out Person. This particular kiddo is one I have grown quite fond of in a short period of time. He’s only seven yet he has experienced more challenges in that time than most of us will ever even imagine. It was not difficult to stay detached in this situation. It was not about me.

Having said that, if the same situation had happened earlier in my career the outcome may not have been as positive. When I first began teaching I had no idea I would encounter students in such dire straits. I was as naive and sheltered as they come! Given the same scenario I would have at best cried through the whole thing, and it’s quite possible I would have voiced my disapproval at the behavior and demanded retribution. I could have lost my composure  and focus during the episode and become more of a hindrance than a help.

This incident is a nice metaphor for the idea of shame-resilience – a term coined and defined by Brené Brown, researcher and author from The University of Houston.  Brené Brown defines shame as that intensely painful feeling that we are somehow flawed and unworthy of love and belonging. Shame fuels those gremlins inside our head that say “You’re not good enough, smart enough, skinny enough, rich enough…” and “Who do you think you are?” Her research shows 1) We all have it; 2) We don’t want to talk about it; and 3) The less we talk about it the more power it has over us. When our shame is triggered (perhaps by being spat upon or having our boss insult our character or having our perfectionism illusion discovered or our parenting style questioned…) our rational thinking can become short circuited by the “fight or flight” mechanism. Because we’re not thinking clearly and are flooded by adrenaline and cortisol, we can find ourselves doing or saying things that we would not do or say otherwise. Unfortunately, these irrational outbursts can lead to more shame and exacerbate the situation. Not fun.

The good news is that we can become resilient to these shame storms. Just as my experience, training and team trust-building led to my being able to participate in the Spit Happens scenario without feeling attacked, resilience allows us to identify what’s really happening, move more quickly through a storm, reach out for help, take steps to lessen our reaction time and intensity, and come out on the other side feeling more courageous, compassionate and connected to those we love.

I am passionate about helping others become more resilient. Not just for the sake of resilience, but for the amazing payoffs of courage, compassion and connection that come when we begin to live from a place of worthiness instead of fear. This work saves marriages.  Supports parents. Creates leaders. Encourages kiddos and teens. It leads to news ways of thinking and acting and most importantly – being. It creates the perfect environment for Wholehearted Living.

Who couldn’t use a little more courage, compassion and connection? If you’re ready to get your brave on, contact me! I would love to connect with you and hold up a lamp to light your way.

With my Whole Heart,


I Struggle


“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.”              Marianne Williamson

Many moons ago I took an intro to psychology class at Cedar Valley Community College. In that class we learned about two guys, Joe and Harry,  who had a famous window. In psychology this window describes in part the processes of human interaction and personal awareness. The graphic above succinctly shows how we tend to share information about ourselves with others – or not. It also teaches us that we don’t know everything there is to know — about ourselves or anyone else for that matter. Shocker, I know.

The most frightening  pane in the window to me is the piece which indicates our blind spots – What we don’t know about ourselves, but others do. It’s much like the Emperor’s proverbial new clothes. Completely out of our awareness we’re walking around letting it all hang out!

If you have surrounded yourself with loving, kind and compassionate friends and family these blind spots can be revealed, if needed, through loving feedback. (I should mention that it’s generally a good idea to proceed with caution if and when pointing out others’ blind spots. Unless we have been specifically asked for this kind of feedback it can register as harsh criticism and do harm that we did not intend.)  We should likewise be careful who we ask should we desire to become more aware of a blind spot. We should also check our motives. Are we truly wanting feedback because we’re ready to accept this part of ourselves with kindness and non judgment? or do we simply want to add another weapon to our self critic’s arsenal of tactics designed to keep us small?

I’ve heard it said that other people’s opinions of us are none of our business. I would answer with another well known quip, “Consider the source.” Being open and vulnerable to new information about ourselves shared in love and kindness can be a growth opportunity. However, if I seek “feedback” from individuals who have continually hurt me  or criticized me harshly and/or proven time and again that they have anything but my best interest in mind, the information I receive will be erroneous at best, and quite possibly cause irreparable damage to me and to the relationship. Choose wisely.

I have lately found myself struggling in this arena. And I believe I’m struggling with the “other people’s opinions who are none of my business” piece of it all. You might recognize these folks as the “somebodies” out there. In my head the conversation goes something like this, “What if you post that on Facebook and “somebody” doesn’t like it?” “What if you write that post and “somebody” disagrees?” “What if you tell your friends about the workshop you’re facilitating this summer and no one wants to attend?” “What if people think you’re crazy?” “What if you’re not good enough or smart enough or this enough or that enough?” 

And then I have to rest. Because all that what-if-ing wears. me. out. Then I either laugh a little or cry a little and try once again to get over myself. I ask someone who loves me to remind me that I am enough. And on a really good day, I become that somebody who loves me and can tell me, “I am enough.”

With my Whole Heart,


Courage, Compassion and CrossFit

deadlift socks

I recently returned to CrossFit Waxahachie after an 8 month break. The decision to step away from the box for a while was a difficult one, but completely necessary for my well-being. I made the choice based on several pieces of information related to my health, but more importantly I made it because of what I was hearing from my body. And my heart. And my soul.

Here’s what I knew:

I. Needed. Rest. Lots of rest. I had symptoms that indicated a beat down adrenal system. I can remember the specific workout in which I instinctively knew I had emptied my reservoir. Completely. But I didn’t listen. I kept right on going because that’s what CrossFitters do! (It’s important to note that I do not believe that CrossFit caused my adrenal fatigue. However, it became clear that continuing to train in the manner in which I was training was ill-advised and just plain crazy if I wanted to heal.)

I wanted to heal. I wanted to feel better. I knew that healing meant being willing to give up something that I truly loved. For a while.

Here’s what I did:

I rested. I cleaned up my diet. I redirected my shifting energy towards new learning and workshops and certifications and life coaching. I practiced gratitude. I said and thought kind things to myself. I rested some more.

I followed this simple rule about exercise: I had to get more from it than I gave. If that meant a walk in the park or a ride on my bike or some yin yoga, then that’s what I chose.

I rested some more. I laughed. I played. I sang. I recovered. I healed.

I returned to CrossFit only when my body and my heart and my soul were ready at the same time. That, my friends, takes more courage and compassion than you might imagine.

Here’s what I learned:

Rest is essential.

Rest. Is. Essential. Exhaustion is not a badge of honor.

I love me and my health even more than I love CrossFit. 🙂

Most importantly, I learned that the willingness to listen to ourselves takes extraordinary courage, and the commitment to take action (or non-action as the case may be) requires a continuous practice of self-compassion and self-care. Our bodies are always willing to communicate with us. And when we listen and respond with kindness, the results are incredibly positive.

Here’s to Wholehearted Wellness!