Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Showing Up

About 5 years ago I got stopped in our 'hood by a woman I didn’t recognize, but who definitely knew me. She said her name was Barbara and that she remembered me and my wife. Then it clicked. About 3 years before this, Barbara had been our local homeless woman.

Barbara would stand outside our grocery store—sometimes more lucid than others.  I didn’t always give her money, but I tried to always acknowledge her—say hi, ask how she was doing. One day she disappeared, which was not unusual, but this time she didn’t come back. 

This unrecognizable person standing before me--30-pounds heavier, fixed up teeth, sober and now married to a cop--had been that homeless woman.  Barbara said she wanted to come back and thank the people who had believed in her. She thanked me for seeing her and being kind to her. She now does peer counseling for addicts.  Amazing!

Why am I telling you this? Well, it is an example of how I have been applying my personal life philosophy. It isn’t complicated, just three little statements:

Show Up, Tell the Truth, Choose.

Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start—Show Up.

Definition according to Carol:
verb: To Show Up: 1. Consciously participate in your world—being present for what or who is here now and acting as needed to make things better. 2. Be your best, brightest, and most unique self as much as possible. 3. Be fully human along the way—messy, frustrated, goofy, angry, ridiculous and brilliant, as well as kind, compassionate and loving to yourself and others too.

So, what does that look like?
It can be as simple as seeing the person and not the addiction--really seeing her/him, not stepping over or muttering under your breath. I have tried to remember that no one planned to grow up and become an addict, homeless or hungry.  How would you want someone else to Show Up if this was you?

On a lighter note, you can Show Up by learning the names of your neighbors or of the workers at your local stores. Being there for your family, visiting friends in the hospital and making that overdue phone call--you know the one--is also Showing Up.

But it doesn't end there.  Showing Up follows us to work. We all know people whose bodies are in the room, but their minds or hearts are not in the building. Showing Up is being on time, on purpose, fully engaged and prepared. You can't Show Up if you are on email, social media and/or Candy Crush in the middle of a meeting.

Showing Up is not just an outward activity, but an inward one as well.  For me it is actively taking steps to make my life bigger and better.  I Show Up by deepening my spirituality, exploring my creativity and challenging myself intellectually. Showing Up means I can't play small--in my relationships, career or health.

Basically, Showing Up means not phoning-in your life.

To consistently Show Up can be hard and not a path I recommend going alone.  I ask trusted partners to keep me accountable, which helps a lot!
This is how I Show Up for the life I want to be living.  How do you want to Show Up for your life in 2019?

Let me know and here’s to Showing Up in the New Year!!
(Next time, I'll dive into Tell The Truth!)

Friday, December 14, 2018

Coming Out...again!

My name is Carol and I have a mental illness.  I have been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder.

I've been away from blogging for about two years and I want to tell you why. Nine days after my last published blog, my life took a detour into a dark rabbit hole and it took me a long while to find my way out again. There were the first two or three weeks that I didn't sleep and couldn't "remember" how to breathe. Two weeks in a hospital. Some delusions. You know, just how you want to spend your 49th birthday!

There were the months of becoming the opposite of ME.  I experienced depression, anxiety attacks, extreme weight loss and extreme weight gain. I especially enjoyed the 24-hour a day supervision/care/baby-sitting for months on end in my own home. Happy times.

I didn't do something to cause this, and no traumatic event happened to bring it on. Thankfully, I had the support of a loving family and friends, a church community that snapped into action, and access to good medical care (including a fabulous Psych ward!) to help me through.

So why Come Out about it? 

First, because so many people don't. Our country still has a deep shame and fear around mental illness. I have learned that many more people then I knew have had a mental illness.  I get lots of personal confessions when I speak about it. And why the heck not! I've had tons of "physical" illnesses and the brain is just another part of the body. Why don't we expect it to get sick or have breakdowns?

Second, we have a large population of people living with mental illness who don't have the resources that I did. When I see people on the subway whose energy says the world is out to get them--that they are "wrong", I get it now. I've been there and felt that. If I had had a drug to make me feel the way that hypo-mania felt--way happy, energized, focused--I would have done anything to get me some of that.  I suspect that many people with drug addictions may be looking for the same thing--to not hurt so much. 

Third, I think it is important to separate the person from the illness. It is not a label I wear, nor should anyone have to. I am not bipolar, but I have bipolar. No one IS their illness, their personal tragedy, their addiction, their poverty, their wealth, their us vs them. People are amazing, strong, beautiful, and vulnerable.
What has this journey given me so far?  I do feel like myself again, however--I'm goofier than before. I have more empathy. I cry more often. And I am not so attached to the image/definition/mask I had held up as Carol in the before time. I feel the need to share where I have been so others don't feel alone.

My name is Carol, I have a mental illness. Nice to meet you.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Who Might Want A Coach?

The myth of the individual, toughing it out alone—no outside support, advice, encouragement, or kick-in-the-butt—runs rampant in American culture.  The pull yourself up by the bootstraps (does anyone still wear bootstraps?) and forge your own path may be noble, but is hardly realistic or even fun.

Ask anyone who has achieved anything we would label success and they will tell you that somewhere along the way they were taught, inspired, encouraged, doubted, bank-rolled, or lifted toward their succeeding.  There was someone, or many someones, who helped them to get to their goals.  

We don’t live and work in isolation, and when you can take advantage of the wisdom and even failings of those around you, the climb toward success is made that much easier.

No one succeeds alone.

So, who is on your team? We all have our own team of family, friends, professionals, mentors, inspirers, networkers, and support—some hired, some acquired over the years—to help us achieve our dreams. 

Do you have the full spectrum of team members you need to get you where you are going?

If your team doesn’t have someone solely there to help you achieve your goals, then you might want a coach.

If you don’t have someone you can tell your fears, stories, and crazy ideas to without fear of judgment, you might want a coach.

If you don’t have someone keeping you accountable to your timeline and goals, you might want a coach.

If you don’t have someone helping you see new perspectives and possibilities, you might want a coach.

If you don’t have someone you can talk to about your whole life, because you are a whole person, you might want a coach.

No one succeeds alone.  You might want a coach.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Accountability—3 Tips to Get Some

One reason I have found that New Year’s Resolutions (and other big life-change proclamations) don’t get accomplished is a lack of accountability. 

There is no one following up with us, seeing how we are progressing along the way, reminding us of what we want to accomplish.

I find that even the most responsible, dependable, follow-through to the nth degree people are good with letting things slide if she or he is the only one affected. 

How did we learn that it was okay to disappoint ourselves? Why are we last on our own priority list?  And how can we get the support and accountability to become our best selves?

3 tips to get some accountability going:

1—Go Public
Using social media is one way to put out your commitment to the world and have your friends, followers or like-minded others cheer you on. I have seen this work well with commitments to weight loss, exercise, cooking more, and daily gratitude as people post their progress at regular intervals and get support and encouragement along the way. 

The upside is that your reporting on social media adds to the incentive to keep going.  The downside can be the very public aspect of social media.  If your life circumstances change or you just aren’t keeping on your path—everyone will know it.

2—Get an Accountability Partner
Having an accountability partner can be a great way to get, and potentially give, support on the journey to changing habits or achieving a goal.

Decide the parameters of your partnership. How often will you communicate and in what format?  Is the partnership solely about you achieving your goal or do you both want accountability? 

I have found that having an accountability partner who is also a coach who is growing his business has been hugely helpful for me.  We set out 2-weeks worth tasks for ourselves. We push each other to stretch a bit farther.  We share resources and ideas all in a quick 30-40 minute call twice a month.

3—Hire a Coach
Shocking I would suggest this, I know, but I continually hear from my clients that it is the accountability aspect of coaching that is one of the most valuable.  I know that I don’t want to fail to do the work I have set out for myself and then get asked about it by my coach. 

My coach actually takes me seriously when I say I will get something done and treats me like I’m worth achieving my goals.  My coach also questions me when I get overly ambitious and helps me set sane boundaries around work and personal time. I also find it helpful to have someone reminding me that personal, fun, just-me goals are important too!

With a coach, it is all about you.  A coach keeps an eye on your big picture; sees when you may be getting stuck and helps you get back on track.  The accountability, customized support and push to have you move out of your comfort zone to where the magic actually happens, are all great benefits of having a coach.

If you are considering a coach, click here for a complimentary session to see if my coaching is right for you!

Be well,