Learning to Find Your Voice

“The moment a woman comes home to herself, the moment she knows that she has become a person of influence, an artist of her life, a sculptor of her universe, a person with rights and responsibilities who is respected and recognized, the resurrection of the world begins.” 

– Joan Chittister

“You have found your voice.”

That’s what the subject line of the e-mail said.

I stared at it for the longest time. I didn’t really even think that I wanted to open the note. The subject line was a gift in and of itself.

As I stared at it longer, my eyes welled up with tears. I had waited a long time to hear a message like that, much less read it in print.

Think about that phrase in the context of your own life. Think about someone saying that to you. How would it make you feel?

Do you feel as though you have found your voice, and if so, are you using it the way you want? If you haven’t, do you know what’s keeping you from finding it?

For many (and I’d put myself in this category) it can take a long time to find your own authentic voice. Over the course of my life, I’ve used my voice in a myriad of ways. I’ve used it to tell other people’s stories. I’ve used it to advocate for people running for office or causes I believe in. I’ve used it on behalf of those I love. I’ve used it lovingly, sternly, timidly, and assertively. And, somewhere along the way after using it enough, I’ve finally found my own true voice.

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Empowering Bad Behavior - #TimesUp Now!

Happy New Year! I have been thinking a lot about this first newsletter of 2018. In a perfect world, I might be using this post to share with you some profound, uplifting, spiritual experience that I had ringing in the New Year and setting the tone for the upcoming year, but the fact is I cannot. I rang in the New Year experiencing emotions that ranged from horrified, shocked, and speechless to feeling victimized.

I was at what I thought was going to be a sweet get-together which quickly got hijacked by the bad behavior of a 40-year old woman who, in a nutshell, was committed to proving that she was right and everyone around her was wrong because they were not adhering to her demands and doing and acting as she wanted them to. Although I've only known this woman for a relatively short time, from what I have seen, this woman's bad behavior had nothing to do with New Year's Eve. It has been on display since the day I met her and from what I have heard from people closest to her, it has always been ever-present in her life – igniting toxicity, trauma, and trouble where ever she goes and with whomever she is with.

Yet, just as troubling as this woman's consistent bad behavior has been the reaction of everyone around her. Not wanting to have to "take on her stuff," they let her stuff dictate and infect every move, moment, and mood. That was until New Year's. Seeing the horror, hurt and humiliation reflected in the eyes of people like myself and others who were bystanders as we watched the events of the evening unfold, the people closest to this woman could no longer ignore the proverbial elephant in the living room. It was painfully obvious that the air and joy was being sucked out of the room and that their tendency to choose "harmony" over truth had landed them in hell and empowered bad behavior as well as a negative, venomous presence in the space. 

Interestingly, if I have seen any theme so far in 2018, it has been very much in keeping with the one I just described. I have already received numerous calls and messages from people who can no longer tolerate accepting or enduring the bad or inappropriate behavior of others to rule the roost, be it their children, spouses, co-workers, employers, or friends. They've had it with living in denial, turning a blind eye, trying to make it better, or being blinded by their own wishful thinking. The cost of living in an environment of constant judgment, righteousness, and pessimism has not only brought them down, but also been downright depleting. 

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Spiritual Growth and Sexual Abuse

A new kind of power – authentic power – is replacing the old kind of power – external power. Authentic power is the ability to distinguish love from fear within yourself and choose love no matter what is happening inside you or what is happening outside you. External power is the ability to manipulate and control.

From the perspective of external power villains are powerful and victims are powerless. From the perspective of authentic power, the callous lust of one who abuses others to satisfy his (or her) destructive desires and the rage of those who are abused are both experiences of powerlessness. There is no power in abuse or revenge.

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Let's take a look at what happens inside a woman who has been through trauma...

If you've been following the news, a flood of women speaking out on harassment, abuse and rape are making their presence known.

And as a woman who has experienced it, I wanted to offer some thoughts on how we can move through this with grace and really make a shift.

I also wanted to give a little insight into the mental and emotional gymnastics that a woman might go through as she tries to rationalize and accept what has happened.

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