I’m Sorry… Or Am I?

Over the years I’ve heard myself apologize for some pretty silly things.  Even today, as someone bumped into me, I found myself saying, “Oh, excuse me.”

I realize I do this out of politeness, out of some sort of decorum I was raised to believe is befitting for women.

I must admit, I like good manners in others.  I like being around polite people.  However, in the same breath I can assure you I’d rather be around a matter-of-fact, direct person who is lacking in the tact department, than a phony, polite one.

That said, I wonder, do we (women in particular) at times go overboard in our politeness?  In our effort not to offend, have we swung the pendulum so far over to the other side that we’re not speaking the truth of who we are?  And, if that’s the case, then isn’t that being phony?

I believe the answer is yes.  And I’m not particularly comfortable with being phony.  Yet, with this whole polite thing, sometimes I do believe I go overboard, and yes, in those instances, I feel phony.

Question:  So, how do I remedy this?  If this is an issue for you, how do you remedy it?

Answer:  Tap into the feeling you have.  Words are words, we speak them all the time.  Sometimes we mean them, and unfortunately, sometimes we don’t.  However, the feeling behind the words is what’s true.

If you are able to recognize the feeling behind the words, you’ll know immediately.  Then ask yourself, are you okay with the way the words you just spoke made you feel?  If your response is yes, then great, look no further.  If your response is no, change your words the next time and try again.

The feeling will not steer you wrong.  And the cool thing is, the more you listen to the feeling and are able to decipher the message, the easier it becomes to be Real across the board, in all situations, IN LIFE.

~~~~

Similar, yet not a direct parallel to today’s TLT article, is a wonderful quote by Benjamin Disraeli, former Prime Minister of England:

“Never apologize for showing feeling.  When you do so, you apologize for truth.”  ~ Benjamin Disraeli

 

Knowing When You are Predicted to Die….

I don’t like to post so close together — this was just too bizarre for me not to write about.

I was listening to satellite radio and heard the controversy around the future over-the-counter blood test that claims it will be able to predict your life expectancy.  A few hours later, while straightening up my office, I opened a random notebook I hadn’t written in in about three years.  The page I landed on had as its header, “If I knew I had a fatal disease, would I live my life differently?”  Hmm….

First, about this test.  I won’t get too geeky on the anatomy/physiology side, although I know I have a propensity to do that.  Basically, there are these things called telomeres that are on the tips of our chromosomes.  Scientists believe that the shorter they are, the closer we are to dying.  There are currently tests that predict lifespan based on lifestyle and medical conditions/history, but this is the first one that uses blood to estimate life expectancy.

For the record, I’ll say that this is not a test I will be signing up for.  However, in this forum, I’m not going to voice my opinions any further than that.  The purpose of this article is to point out how Life presents information, or messages might be a better word, for us.

In case you can’t read my handwriting.

It is dated 9/21/08.  It reads:

If I knew I had a fatal disease, would I live my life differently?

Yes.

How?

  • tons more patience w/ everyone…w/ LIFE, no need for anger
  • face fears head on, not push fears in the back of my head, not make them bigger and allow my mind to invent fiction that spins out of control
  • be Real w/ others, all the time
  • look for love in all situations, not fear

The first thing that struck me was the synchronicity of the news piece and the content of the specific page of the notebook I had flipped to.  Next, of course, was the language I used.  Now, three years later, and I’m writing to you all, using the same words:  LIFE in all caps (interesting), Real with a capital R, writing about fear and love.  [For new readers, check out “Fear vs. Love” – it was one of the first articles I wrote for this blog.]

Blood test aside, but the question still valid, if you had a fatal disease, would you live your life differently?  And a bigger question for myself:

Why would it take knowing I had a fatal disease in order for me to live by those few bullet points above?

There’s nothing terribly WOW about any of my bullet points.  I didn’t say, I’ll travel around the world, blowing all the money known to man.  What I listed were simple, basic things.  How close am I today to living that list?  How close are you today to living your list?

Go make it and get back to me.  Sharing your list feels freeing (as I’m about to hit the ‘Publish’ button, I can already feel it).  After you share your list with me, let me know if it’s only for my eyes, or if you’d like me to share it.

Off you go!  Make your list!

 

Find Your Voice (Inspired by Maria Shriver)

Maria Shriver has a little gem of a book called Just Who Will You Be?  Good, short read.  It asks big questions, in a very small book.  At the end of the book she lists ten things she pledges to herself to keep her focused and centered on who she wants to be.

On a side note, I found it interesting that throughout the book, she referenced several times how she was determined to find who she wanted to be, instead of who she is.  I see that as a very distinct difference, but maybe it’s just semantics.  For me, when topics like this arise, I think in terms of WHO I AM, not who I want to be.  But okay…moving on.

I enjoyed reading about Maria’s journey to self discovery.  But more than anything, I liked the list she created for herself as a pledge to “keep myself focused and centered on just who I want to be,” she writes.

Below are Maria’s pledges:

1.  I pledge to “show up” in my life as myself, not as an imitation of anyone else.
2.  I pledge to avoid using the word “just” to describe myself.  For example, I won’t say, “I’m just a mother,” “I’m just a student,” or “I’m just an ordinary person.”
3.  I pledge to give myself ten minutes of silence and stillness every day to get in touch with my heart and hear my own voice.
4.  I pledge to use my voice to connect my dreams to my actions.
5.  I pledge to use my voice to empower myself and others.
6.  I pledge to serve my community at least once a year in a way that will benefit other people.
7.  I pledge to ask myself, “Who am I?  What do I believe in?  What am I grateful for?  What do I want my life to stand for?”
8.  I pledge to sit down and write my own mission statement.
9.  I pledge to live my own legacy.
10.  And I pledge to pass it on.

What an interesting exercise Maria did.  I discovered while reading her list of ten things she pledged, that I heard my own voice in many of them.  Of course, #1 “I pledge to “show up” in my life as myself, not as an imitation of anyone else” resonated with me – – just think back to all of the recent (and not so recent) articles I’ve written on being Real.

Along with “showing up as myself”, the ones where she mentions using her voice (#4 & #5) really struck a chord with me.  In “Dreaming.  Living.  Reality.” I wrote about connecting my dreams to actions.  I acknowledged, “I’m a dreamer.  I‘m fully living each day.  But I’m also a realist.  There’s nothing in me that wants to live a fantasy, so I dream in order to create.”

Using my voice to empower myself and others is something that is very important to me.  But, you already know that if you read my blog.  I love to use my voice to share my thoughts on Trust, Surrender, Love, Truth.  It’s my intention that through the topics I choose to write about and the interviews I conduct and post, that I’m able to present material to you that’s inspiring, encouraging, and comforting.  My hope is that together, we are sharing, learning, and growing as we use our voices.

On the bottom of my email, I have about 50 quotes that rotate with each outgoing message.  Although my husband tells me I can’t quote myself, I say Why not?  So, here’s one that’s in the mix that sums up how I like to use my voice.  It says:

“About Leslie:  As long as I am genuinely expressing myself, I feel like the person I was meant to be.  How I do it is irrelevant.”

Find your voice.  Use it.  Use it to empower yourself and others.  If that feels scary in some way, or you simply want/need the practice of using it, use it with me.  I’d be honored to tell your story and have your voice shared with others.

Find your voice.  Use it.

More on Real

Thank you for asking for more on the subject of being Real.  I must say, it’s nice when I’m given the topic to write about!

The specific requests I received were in regard to the 12 Velveteen Principles, along with the question, “What do you do when you find yourself  about to be un-Real?”  (I hope I captured that correctly…I received several similar questions, and this one seemed to act as an umbrella for all.)

Here is a list of the 12 Principles, as stated in The Velveteen Principles, by Toni Raiten-D’Antonio.  Provided is a blurb for each, but I encourage you to pick up a copy of the book if you’re interested in learning more.

The 12 Velveteen Principles

Velveteen Principle #1: Real is Possible

  • what is Real waits inside; we are born Real

Velveteen Principle #2 : Real is a Process

  • the author provides four examples of themes we often employ to discover our Real nature, although there are many more.  Here are the ones she lists:
  1. Close relationships make us feel more Real – we are social beings
  2. Work that matters makes us feel more Real – it’s not all about money
  3. Creativity and growth make us feel Real – seen through how you express yourself
  4. Teaching, nurturing, and caring for others makes us feel Real – taking the focus off of self, and placing it on others

Velveteen Principle #3 : Real is Emotional

  • understanding, acknowledging, and expressing how we feel

Velveteen Principle #4 : Real is Empathetic

  • the ability to really hear another person’s point of view

Velveteen Principle #5 : Real is Courageous

  • acknowledge your fears and move forward, even if you’re still afraid

Velveteen Principle #6 : Real is Honest

  • the key here involves self honesty

Velveteen Principle #7 : Real is Generous

  • an expression of goodwill, coupled with encouragement

Velveteen Principle #8 : Real is Grateful

  • a sense of awareness and appreciation
  • “the practice of gratitude becomes the antidote to worry”

Velveteen Principle #9 : Real Can Be Painful

  • often we become self-critical and do what I call, “should-ing” all over ourselves:  I should lose weight, I should work more, I should, I should….   Although ‘should-ing on yourself’ doesn’t sound good on the surface, it can often serve as an accurate reminder of the obstacles that lie between you and the Real life you’re striving for.

Velveteen Principle #10 : Real is Flexible

  • the ability to adapt to change and learn from your mistakes

Velveteen Principle #11 : Real Love Endures

  • “when two Real people discover each other, there is absolutely nothing generic about their relationship”

Velveteen Principle #12 : Real is Ethical

  • “Real people don’t expect agreement everywhere; Real embraces differences, even uncomfortable ones”

And as for the question, “What do you do when you find yourself about to be un-Real?”  Interestingly enough, I was also asked this at the weekend retreat.  My answer then (and now), is that first, I give it a few attempts to feel right.  If, after a few interactions with a particular person, I still feel slightly uncomfortable showing up as completely me, rather than allowing myself to become un-Real, I limit my time with the person.  I’ll either cut the conversation short or won’t seek out their company in the future.  By limiting contact, I’m able to maintain my ‘real-ness’ and not feel compromised.  I’m sure there are other, and probably better ways to handle it, but I also realize that not everyone wants, or seeks out, real interactions.  Some folks much prefer the surface-y stuff and anything else would be too much of a bother.  And that’s okay with me; what I give them is still the real me, it’s just an abbreviated version.  I save the good stuff for those who want it.  :-)

Feel free to share how you would respond to that question; I’m interested to know.

In closing, here are a few of my favorite soundbites from The Velveteen Principles:

“It [the children’s classic, The Velveteen Rabbit] reminds us of basic truths about our heartfelt longings.  We all hope to live through life’s challenges and grow beautiful and valuable and loved for what we are on the inside, for our Real selves.” (p. xii of introduction)

“Whenever we struggle to comprehend another person’s behavior, especially when we feel hurt by someone we love, the key to understanding lies in that person’s intent, not the outcome.” (p. 82)

“If you truly believe there is honor and value in trying your best, and risking failure, then you profit even if you don’t reach your goal.”  (p. 98)

“It’s not stuff or power or achievement, but rather a sense that you are using your time on Earth well, that you are connected to others and that your life matters.”  (p. 185)