And Now…Gaslighting

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“People will provoke you until they bring out your ugly side, then play victim when you go there,” via theuniversehasyourback.  This is the perfect follow up to the talk about manipulation.  I bring this up because it seems more and more prevalent in the world and it is particularly prevalent in my life right now.  This behavior in particular is gaslighting.  I’m sure we’ve all experienced it before.  You know, the comments said as “jokes” that are really targeted at things you perceive as your weakness or the vulnerable things you’ve shared with people.  When it comes to choosing the energy that we keep around us, this is the first to examine. 

I’m an overly communicative person so I overshare what I need, but most people struggle to express what they are really thinking/feeling/needing in the moment.  It’s mostly in those moments when they are seeking attention, or when they are mad at themselves, or when they are bored, jealous, unsure of themselves that they go for the easy target.  (Unfortunately we often become the target for those closest to us because it’s easy access—and those are the ones that can hurt the most.)  Behind every “joke” there is some truth and when someone uses that to exploit our vulnerability, not only is it a jerk move, it creates a wound in us.  It’s a breaking of trust.  Anyone who uses what we share or what they know we struggle with against us isn’t the type of energy we want around.

The other side of this is when we set boundaries with people who are used to having access to us.  It doesn’t matter if it’s at work or at home or with friends, when we stop providing what they are used to getting from us , they turn the story around to talk about our selfishness.  In reality we are protecting our energy.  If we don’t protect our energy, people will take as much of it as we let slip through.  We become the bad guy when we stop allowing people to take advantage or when we stop making it easy for people to behave a certain way. 

For example, I mentioned the story about work the other day when my boss said she was “disappointed in my actions.”  The full story is that I worked an 11.5 hour day and left because 1. I was exhausted 2. The case we were working on couldn’t go any further in my mind and I had already provided the information requested.  I could have outright told her I was leaving, yes, but I shouldn’t have to ask permission to go after putting in that many hours on salary when it was an issue SHE was having with the paperwork, not me—my part was done. 

Another example was when I came home and my husband was cleaning irately—and I mean that.  He was absolutely furious that he was cleaning.  Now, first and foremost there are three of us in the house and there is no reason that should all fall on one person—namely me as I’m normally the one to do all of it.  I’ve been struggling lately so I have fallen behind.  But I’m also taking care of all of our animals (I feed them every day, clean the litter boxes every day, let the dog out, pay for vet appointments etc.), I get our son ready for the day every day, my work schedule adapted so I could take him to school, I work a minimum of eight hours every day and I’m working on my side business as well—so the cleaning fell to the wayside for a couple of weeks.  I’m not happy about letting it go but all of the major messes and physical dirtiness ARE cleaned every day—by ME.  He normally works about five to six hours a day and gets paid for eight, picks up our kid, watches TV or tinkers with the boat, or bullshits with the neighbors for a few hours.  So you can see where there is a little imbalance.  So when he started expressing how tired he was about living in a pig stye, I got pissed.  His response was, “You can’t handle it when I get angry or off-balance.”  My response was, “I can’t handle it when you can’t explain why you’re angry.”  I KNOW I do more than enough.  I KNOW what equity looks like.  I KNOW what laziness looks like—so do not take your shit out on me and then blame me for setting the boundary to not carry that.

I share that last story as an example of when people close to us are dealing with their inadequacies or insecurities they take it out on us.  I took both the circumstance with my boss and my husband very personally at first.  And then it hit me how inappropriate both circumstances were.  1. My boss saying she was “disappointed” in me as if I were her 14 year old child when she easily could have picked up the phone to get her questions answered is demeaning.  I’m not your daughter and when it comes to my family, I WILL set the boundary about how much time I put in here.  2. My husband is a fully capable, grown man, who needs to learn to manage his time.  That ISN’T on me.  I’ve spent nearly 20 years delaying things I want to do in order to keep us afloat so if I’m going to dedicate my time to building something for myself, he gets no say in that any longer.  I wrote a piece a while back about disappointing people when you start doing what is right for you.  I stick by what I said—disappoint them every time.  For those who get mad about you stopping their gaslighting—let them go.  You don’t need manipulation or disrespect in your life.  You have dreams to build.  Cut the cord.                  

Looking at Manipulation

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“Manipulation is when they blame you for your reaction to their disrespect,” via peacefulmindpeacefullife.  Shortly after the argument about my husband’s true feelings, we discussed whether or not that was the truth.  It was actually a really good conversation.  We were both level and calm and discussing what happened and what it meant.  But there was a point where I could see he literally didn’t understand why I was so upset.  He didn’t see any correlation between what he said and how I felt.  I know that we shouldn’t allow people to have that much control over our emotions, but it’s inevitable when you have a long standing relationship.  It also feels like a lie because when you’re together, all seems fine.  But then a comment is made and suddenly that veil slips a bit.  Now you don’t know up from down.

This go around was different in that I would not let my husband feign innocence in this.  He was absolutely trying to manipulate me into believing that it was only in my head and that he didn’t mean anything.  That it was me putting meaning on things that weren’t there.  To that I say actions speak louder than words.  You’re telling me you really don’t believe what you said—but you said it.  You spend your time with friends and they call their wives to check in and you didn’t call me in spite of being an ass the day before.  The wives didn’t invite me with them because I have a young kid and one of them really can’t stand that.  That isn’t me imagining being excluded—that is me being excluded.  And then to tell me that I’m imagining things or that I shouldn’t feel that way—that is manipulation and gaslighting. 

I will fully acknowledge my sensitivity has been on high—I’ve been talking about that for a while now.  I really even tried to take it on and chalk it up to my ego.  Like, oh damn, here we go again, not being invited to the party…yet they all want my help when they need something.  The rest of the time is all making fun of me and poking the bear and saying I’m sensitive with no accounting for their actions and words.  The truth is you can’t waddle like a duck and quack like a duck and tell me you’re not a duck.  Don’t insult my intelligence like that.  You don’t have to like me.  But don’t treat me like crap and then blame me for shutting down or feeling disrespected and then calling you on it.    

We all deserve respect and if we aren’t getting the bare minimum in any relationship, it’s time to move on.  Yes, you need to make the distinction between actual disrespect and something else.  The intention behind it is huge.  Watching someone make a choice to hurt you when you’ve clearly expressed boundaries and concern about it is the epitome of disrespect.  That isn’t funny and that isn’t something that needs to be tolerated.  Someone exposing your vulnerabilities to the group for a laugh is disrespect.  Intentionally hiding your real purpose with someone and then saying they’re crazy for being upset is disrespect.  No one needs to stick around for that.  No one deserves that.  And you are NOT crazy.  So be who you are and walk away when needed.  You will find your tribe.

What We Believe of Ourselves

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I want to follow up on yesterday’s post.  Again, I’ve been hyper-sensitive and emotional lately and not feeling really supported.  But as I thought through things, I realized that the comments made by my husband and son hurt me because I took them to heart.  And then I realized that I took them to heart because I felt a kind of truth in it.  So the full story is simple.  We were with some friends and they were completely joking about a situation we have with a neighbor.  I told them to contact the city rather than incurring any liability on themselves and one person off-handedly said, “You don’t have to be a party pooper.”  Again, that part was in jest.  Without missing a beat, my husband said, “That’s just who she is.”  I felt like he slapped me.  I’ve spent years cleaning up after him, watching him get into messes I’ve begged him to avoid, finding ways to support us through everything, bearing the sole financial responsibility.  And this is how he views me.  The truth. 

As I mentioned above, it took it to heart so much because I felt the truth of it myself.  I’ve spent a lot of years proving myself, that I could be serious.  I’m short and cute and look more like your kid sister than your boss and it’s very easy for people to mistake my role if I’m not “on” 100% of the time.  Hell, even in the middle of meetings I’ve had people space out or completely change the subject.  I’ve done complete presentations, innovative and professional and the only take away is “She’s so tiny,” only to have the idea implemented later by someone else.  My confidence is still not high—and if it is, it’s incredibly fragile.  But the point is somewhere between we behave how we feel about ourselves and people respond accordingly and sometimes you can simply be at the wrong address.  Your power, who you are is great, it’s just not for the people you’re with.

I’ve been in a cage running around simultaneously looking for an escape and trying to please people.  Burying myself under the pressure of proving my worth.  I’ve spent so much time angry because people haven’t received me as I see myself.  No matter what I do, I’m the short girl.  I can be standing in a room screaming the message and all they see is the tiny one making a fuss again.  But how people see us is something none of us will ever have any control over.  How people see us is a reflection of their experiences and their interpretation.  Logically that doesn’t bother me in the slightest.  But emotionally, mentally when you’re trying to accomplish something and it feels like everyone misses the point and they even take your ideas into something of their own, it hurts.  And when you support someone through everything and they turn around and call you a drag, that is being used at its finest.      

The good news about being this low is that the truth has been revealed and that shifts reality.  That is a place I can work from.  I can make changes from there.  I can take steps from there.  And, after 20 years of being with someone, there are always bumps in the road, but now I can make a different decision.  I am no longer interested in making myself what other people expect of me.  I may feel like a million different people depending on the moment, but I am not.  I am singular, I am me.  I have gifts that need to be shared and work that I love to do.  I have one shot, the same as anyone else, and I deserve it the same as anyone else.  I’m not here for your convenience, I’m here because I deserve to be.  The sooner I can take that on, the sooner this confusion goes away.

Things change on a dime all the time, my friends.  Often in unexpected ways.  We can’t make people see things our way and we can’t even make them see the things THEY DID in our way.  They have to have a level of self-awareness to understand how their actions impact other people and if they don’t have that, then they won’t be able to co create on the same level.  Even with decades spent together, things evolve and we have to let them be.  We have to let go of what we thought we knew, of who we thought we wanted to be, of memories made…and it hurts.  But it is all in the sake of moving forward.  And tearing the band-aid off is often the most painful part, but once that happens, the healing can move to the next level.  We don’t need the safety of the cover any longer, we are strong enough to take care of it on our own.

As IS

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“I refuse to water myself down—what you see is what you get,” via manifestinglord.  Words are powerful things.  We don’t always realize that because we’ve grown careless with them in our society.  We sling words from behind keyboards, or we talk about nothing when our minds are full of everything, never really saying what we need to.  And words are magic, with the ability to turn nothing into everything.  How we speak can shift the meaning and change what we are saying as much as the words themselves.  They can uplift or destroy, one as easily as the other, and just as quickly. 

The people we love the most can also hurt us the most.  We have an emotional attachment and investment in the relationship and we tend to take for granted that other person’s presence.  We can become a dumping ground for the difficult things that happen.  Sometimes we don’t appreciate everything someone does for us and they don’t always appreciate us either.  And then there are issues with understanding in general relationships as well. 

I’ve been hyper-sensitive to everything lately, and acutely aware of other people’s perceptions of me.  They say that other people’s opinions of us are none of our business, but it’s really painful to me when the layers start to drop and I see how those I love, the people who I’d do anything for really feel about me, or what they actually think about me.  I’ve given an entire lifetime to those I love and I still get to hear about my controlling nature.  I’ve been controlling because I’ve been responsible for cleaning up your messes my whole life—and I got tired of it.  So it was easier to try and prevent the mess from happening in the first place.  I’m tired of people being disappointed in me, in claiming that what I do is never enough, or that I’m just bossy.  That is a tough blow, especially when your energy has been devoted to giving them what they want and there’s minimal reciprocity anyway.

So when it comes to watering myself down, this is where I waver and where I hurt.  I agree with the sentiment.  I want to be who I am and I want to be loved and appreciated.  And for the record, that is part of what hurts the most; I’ve been looking for love my whole life (we all are) and I’ve been met with nothing but conditions and dismissals at first glance, only kept around for what I can give.  If I were gentler with my approach and made myself a doormat I know I’d be miserable too.  But this isn’t serving either because I’m still not welcome in my own life.  Is that ego?  And why do those opinions matter to me SO much?

I think when you invest time in people and you really give them all of your energy and heart, it hurts more when your heart gets stomped on.  It hurts when the actions you did for the good of everyone are misconstrued.  I don’t want to water down the message, I don’t want to water down my purpose.  But I’m afraid of what that means.  So it’s time to find the balance, and that may mean finding a new tribe.  Releasing what no longer serves.  Taking that first step alone is terrifying.  But it may be necessary to save who I really am.  There is no taste in watered-down anything.  Life is meant to be lived, and while it hurts finding your path and your place sometimes, it is always worth it.  I’m working on taking those steps myself.  If I can do it, so can you. I don’t need to be anything other than who I am–I come AS IS.

Sunday Gratitude

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Today I am grateful for breakthrough.  I’ve realized how much pressure I’ve put on myself to be and do all the things.  To be the greatest, to do the most, to do it all at once.  And I’ve been miserable.  I’ve realized it is NOT normal to continually say yes and take things on that don’t belong to you.  It is not normal to give up more of your personal life for a corporation in exchange for…NOTHING.  There is no point in having a title if it doesn’t change the circumstances or if you’re not allowed to do some good with it.  We don’t need more power, we need more freedom.  We don’t need permission, we need empowerment.  In spite of this last emotional breakdown, I am glad to see these truths on the other side.  Getting clear on what is important is the first step toward what you want.

Today I am grateful for release.  Well, naturally along with breakthrough comes release.  It genuinely feels like a weight has been lifted off of me.  I’ve forgotten how to be spontaneous and how to laugh.  Not that we haven’t had spontaneous moments (I’ve written about quite a few of them over the weeks), but that isn’t being spontaneous or joyful.  That was more like life leaking through the façade and I let a few happy moments in.  Life is meant to be happy.  It is meant to be lived with ease.  Not that it is easy but that we all have a natural rhythm and flow and THAT is what creates the ease.  When we go against it, that is when the struggle hits.  And I’ve been fighting an uphill battle for a while. 

Today I am grateful for where I am.  When you’re trying to balance all the things of life, you often forget where you are.  It gets overwhelming and disorienting and incredibly draining.  You constantly move with no gain and there comes a point where you just have to stop.  So for today, I’m stopping.  I’m evaluating what needs to be done in my life and what steps I legitimately want to take.  I’m looking at who I want to be.  I’m looking at the life I want to create.  And I’m making the choice to go for the option that supports that.    

Today I am grateful for options.  It took me a while but I realized that the struggle with my emotions (at least in part) was due to the fact that I felt trapped.  We all get overwhelmed and we all start to feel like we have limited options in one capacity or another and it felt like I was drowning for a minute.  I had to stop thrashing about long enough to settle and really gather my bearings.  To really see what I COULD do.  I still feel overwhelmed with the choices that need to be made, but I am SO grateful that I at least have the options to make a choice. 

Today I am grateful for the reminder that life is what we make it.  With the reclaiming of time, personal power, and realizing that I have options comes the next logical step: architect what I do want.  It’s a topic I talk about often and I fully believe in it.  But when we go back and look at how we are straddling two worlds, sometimes we fall into old patterns.  We ALWAYS have the option to start again, to say no, to say yes, to choose again, to choose differently—and we have the ability to do all of that without regret.  IF that is what we want to do, then DO it.  The things that don’t fit, let them go.  The toxic people who make you feel like a burden/don’t appreciate you, let them go.  The fears that you’re letting the world down, let them go.  All of that weight you release on behalf of people who wouldn’t lift a cotton ball for you lets you fly.  Let them down and lift yourself up—every time, over and over again. 

Wishing everyone a wonderful week ahead.

Life Lessons From A Plant

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I had to trim my Pothos the other day.  The plant was getting really “leggy,” meaning the length of the vine from the first leaf to the source was getting too long.  The leaves were turning yellow and it just wasn’t as happy as it could be.  So I got some cups of water and my shears, and I did the deed.  I thought I killed it at the first cut.  I didn’t have any reason to doubt myself, I’ve trimmed plants before.  It’s just a nerve wracking moment when you’re trying to keep a plant alive and you think you did more damage than good.  Regardless, as I was in the middle of plant rescue, something hit me: as I was putting the trimmed limbs in water, letting them get ready to sprout, I realized that sometimes creating the separation and providing fresh water to each section saves the whole.     

The same can be said of life.  When we hold on too long and can’t let the past rest, life gets a little leggy where we aren’t quite getting what we need out of it.  It doesn’t thrive as well and we start losing some of the main points of what we’re doing here.  Sometimes it’s simply too many leaves or things tied together and we get caught on the mundane details or on the fact that we’ve taken on too much.  Sometimes it just gets too heavy with all of the life we have behind us.  Not that we don’t want it, but we don’t need to carry it forward.  Creating separation in life and focusing on a few small details at once creates a much healthier existence.

In order to thrive in a meaningful way, we need to create this type of balance.  We can’t let things get so leggy that they start to die.  It’s much healthier to focus on one thing at a time.  For someone like me with anxiety, that is easier said than done.  If I’m not working toward a million things at once, the sky will surely fall.  My logical brain knows that is crap but the emotional brain doesn’t.  So convincing myself to let go and to know when to let things leave is really challenging.  I get afraid that cutting one thing off means the death rather than an opportunity to be reborn in fresh water.  The reality is it’s giving space to what needs attention.  The rest will fall into place. 

So, how can you pick and choose what to cut?  Well, that’s a matter of your priorities.  What is going to make you thrive?  What is going to push you forward? Just because you can’t do it all right now doesn’t mean you can’t do it all.  There is just a time and place for everything.  Trust that you will know what to do when the time is right.  Sometimes cutting that limb and allowing it to sprout anew gives it the strength it wouldn’t have had if you continued to bend it as it was.  Sometimes that fresh cut opens an opportunity you didn’t see.  After that first cut you may find yourself asking, “What have I done?!” in panic…but after time, you realize it’s a natural part of life. So trim what you must boldly and without fear, plant the pieces you need, and have faith that the life you’re working toward will take root in the seeds you plant and the limbs you put in water.

The Other Side

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“The life you want is on the other side of the shit you don’t want to do,” via ecommercementor.  The timing of this could not be better.  I love that even when things feel a little bleak or unclear, the universe still provides signs like this.  We all have an inner knowing that guides us.  We know when it’s time to move on and many of us spend years avoiding that move because we don’t want to give up what is familiar.  The point is—we KNOW when to move on and we CHOOSE to stay where we are.  We CHOOSE to interpret things a certain way (I will make allowances for our life experiences—some of that we have no say in).  The bottom line is that we give far too much power to what we THINK we have to do over what we KNOW we need to do.  We give too much power to our comfort and relying on our history over learning something new. 

As I’m working through layers and layers of stuff, I’m finding that there is a lot of resistance and a lot of safe reasons to not do something new.  It’s hard to reconcile when truth and logic aren’t wrong but they are what’s holding you back.  When do you decide to say screw it, I’m doing it anyway?  When does the pain of being where you are outweigh the fear of getting where you’re going? And when do we get sick enough of our own crap to do what we want to do regardless of what we are supposed to do?

The knowing eventually does get loud enough that it answers those questions for us.  Many times we don’t like the answer because it involves being something other than what we are used to.  Or we don’t have the confidence in our ability to do it so we convince ourselves that we shouldn’t even try.  But that knowing keeps persisting until we finally let go of the old way and leap for what is waiting.  Eventually we start to hear or see the steps we need to take because they become more and more prevalent until you have no choice but to go in that direction.  Don’t let fear or laziness or imagined uncertainty hold you back: listen and get clear on the steps and then TAKE them.

There are always things that need to be done whether they are the day to day tasks of survival, the day to day tasks we’ve been told make a successful life, or if they are things we know we have to do but constantly put off. We may not even like those.  But the point is we can do those activities because we believe we have to.  Imagine what it would feel like to do something that you may be afraid of or that you’re not comfortable with but it gives you everything you’ve been waiting for.  I’d rather take action I’m not thrilled about knowing that it gets me closer to where I need to be than taking action I dread for the sake of someone else’s profit that keeps me where I’m at.

Everything you want to do can be done—you just have to get over the fear of not being able to do it.  You have to put your energy toward what you want to do.  If you can spend the majority of your life doing what other people told you, you can have a few hours a week where you do what YOU tell you to do and let that be something that guides you toward what you really want.  If it’s scary, do it.  If it takes more energy, do what you can.  If it feels overwhelming, take one step at a time.  It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you do something authentically aligned.  Everything is waiting for you there.     

It’s Your Room

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“I belong in every room I am invited to,” Myliek Teele.  The last few weeks have been incredibly challenging mentally and emotionally.  A true test and a real indicator of the work I need to do to heal the emotional reactivity…but that’s a story for another day.  So, at work it’s been made very clear that one of the departments I run isn’t a priority.  I’ve been told, “Not to degrade what you do, but this is something that can be left alone.”  Additionally, I’ve been struggling with communication in another department I oversee because I haven’t gotten the full training I need.  No matter what you do there is an element of ego to it because you’re being told the work you do is irrelevant.  I took it to heart for a minute and then I let it digest.  This is a professional opportunity.

I wrote an email to my boss after a miss on our side and I let her know exactly what I needed.  I could have phrased some of it better, yes, but when it comes to my livelihood, don’t put the onus of failure on me if you haven’t given me the tools and you haven’t communicated the expectation.  So I level set with her.  I laid out exactly what I expected as an employee in order to facilitate and follow through on my work.  She didn’t take it well and this is where communication is key.  It isn’t easy leading people but in order to do it effectively, you need to express what is needed.  In this case, we didn’t speak.  We had viewed the incident differently and reacted differently—me not up to her expectation.  After speaking about it we did come to a resolution and are working on a plan to bring things up to speed.

Now, I share this story because I went into a DEEP spiral.  I mentioned a few weeks ago about all of the things I’m juggling so I’ve already been on edge.  I’ve already been hard on myself for not living up to my expectations, for underestimating the time and the energy it takes to do what I do.  But it’s a weird balance because so much of what I’m doing outside of work is what I WANT to do so I’m making the time to do it.  Regardless, when my boss and I had this conversation, I felt like a complete failure, especially as she used words like, “Disappointed” and “dropped the ball.”  This is the first incident that has happened like this in my tenure and I felt that a lot of it needed to be put in perspective.  So as I was sitting there, berating myself, logging on the next morning struggling to balance work and time with my kid, I had a melt down.  I ugly cried and heaved and snotted everywhere.  And then I pulled myself together.

I had the conversation with my boss regarding my email and I told myself there are other options out there.  I do not need to continue like this.  Yes, I have responsibilities, but I do not need to settle for something that degrades me and makes my soul feel heavy, something that puts my entire being and life on the back burner for the sake of others—needlessly.  I took a moment to recognize, again, all that I AM doing and all that I have been doing well.  And I asked for a sign for the next step—I’m still not seeing it, but I know it’s there.  I know, after going through that LONG list of what I’m working on and what is going well that I do belong in the room.  One person’s perception isn’t enough to deter me from doing what I need to do.  It’s a sign to go where I am needed.  If I’m there, it’s for a reason.  I have work to do. 

So for anyone dealing with a stressful situation or even a lack of confidence, this is your reminder that if you got there, you belong there.  If you were asked there, you are needed there.  If they want to hear you, your words have value.  And even if they don’t, then you will find the right room.  I’m really having a hard time letting go because I have a vision.  But that is exactly why I need to.  When you cling that tightly, one person can say something that derails the whole thing and you forget why you’re there.  You are worthy no matter what.  You are worthy.  It doesn’t matter if they forget—you need to always remember that you belong.  Take your space.  We all make mistakes and that isn’t a reason to bail.  It’s a reason to show them the rally and why you were invited in the room in the first place. 

No One Knows

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“The older I get, the more I realize no one has any idea what they are doing and everyone is just pretending,” unknown.  This one gets me every time.  When I was a kid, I thought my parents literally knew everything.  I thought every adult around me just got “it” and was successful.  I spent so much of my young adulthood looking for the more experienced adults because I didn’t feel qualified enough to make any decisions.  And then the truth slowly revealed itself: people are doing their best version of guess and check every day. 

We are all playing a game that was created over two centuries ago and no one really understood it in the first place.  It was designed for a much smaller group of people, and through some wildly misinterpreted game of telephone, we are following some rules that are watered down versions of themselves that no one who originally wrote it can interpret anymore.  Oh,  and we knew a hell of a lot less back then because, you know, technology limitations, so things that fit then simply DON’T fit today.

All of that is to say, no one knows anything.  They know a little bit about what they are told they should do, but we are ALL simply trying to float through the day.  We go out into the world to make it seem like we are doing something productive and then we make our way home to our safe little next, hoping to get there unscathed.  Then we numb ourselves because we’ve forgotten the point of living entirely.  And I realize…this is exactly the same pattern my parents and all of those adultier adults did when I was a kid.  So why do we put this insane pressure on ourselves to get our lives “right”?  I also find it ironic that, if you really ask people, they all feel this way.  No one knows what they’re doing so why do we keep pretending we do?

I think the easiest concept is to live kindly.  Understand we are all doing our best.  But putting that into practice is challenging because we are all living at different levels, coming from different experiences.  And even I will admit that sometimes, doing your best isn’t enough—for example, you can’t just wing it when you drive.  There are millions of other people on the road and vehicular manslaughter is a bad thing, so there are standards you need to follow there.  But living with more compassion IS something we can all do.  We can strive to educate and help each other do better.    

So what if we stop teaching our kids that we know it all—especially when we know we don’t know it all?  I mean, the balance of power would greatly shift in their favor because kids know a lot more about the meaning of life than we do.  But what if there is a happy medium?  What if we incorporated more of the joy for life with direction?  And what if we made joy our purpose?  Yes, everything we know it could potentially fall apart…but I believe that only the pieces that no longer serve would fall away.  So what if we let the systems break and what if we started our own game?  One designed for today.  I’d rather us figure it out together than keep each other held to some ridiculous standard from 200 years ago that is no longer applicable.  So…are you brave enough to admit what you don’t know? 

Unlock the Cage

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“My grandmother was in line to be shot into a pit.  She said, ‘What happens if I step out of line?’  He said, ‘I don’t have the heart to shoot you, but somebody will.’ And she stepped out of line.  For that, I am here, and my children are here.  So step out of line, ladies.  Step out of line,” Alex Borstein.  For so many of us we live under the obligation of what we “have” to do, or are “supposed” to do.  Sometimes it’s in between what we feel obligated to do and what we want to do, neither side quite getting enough water and leaving us feeling split and exhausted.  I don’t want to lessen the impact of what Alex says, or disrespect anyone who endured the holocaust, but I want to apply the quote more globally—we aren’t facing life or death situations as she describes here, but it still applies.  We keep ourselves in line every day, responding to the alarm and getting up and going to a job that we don’t always love, sit through traffic, come home, get lost in distraction, sleep, and do it all over again. 

We are choking the life out of ourselves rather than someone actually threatening us.  And all we have to do is decide if we let them keep their hands around our necks or if we wake up and realize they were never touching us in the first place—it was us all along.  Alex encourages us to step out of line.  Yes, it is terrifying.  What if someone sees us?  People will tell us all the time that we need to do as we are told and play it safe.  I’ve done that my whole life.  But when we look at the perceived safety, we also have to weigh what we are giving up.  Not many people are taught about the possibilities in this world.  If they figure it out for themselves, they have to battle the tide and learn to make their way on their own support.  But there is always a way shown to us if we take the leap. 

For women in particular, stepping out of line can be challenging.  There is an entire subset of rules that we have to follow because of our gender.  Over a 100 years after being granted suffrage, nearly 70 years after women’s lib, we are STILL enduring inequality on the basis of what’s between our legs.  So when Alex talks about stepping out of line, I want to apply it to breaking the bullshit molds and constraints placed upon us as women.  No matter what women do, it’s wrong.  A working mother can’t take care of her kids, and a stay at home mom is lazy, while a mom who disciplines her kids is going to scar them, and a mom who lets’ her kids run and explore is negligent, or a woman who is open sexually is a slut, while the conservative is prude, or a boss is a bitch, and we are never more than one thing, and we still have little say in what happens with our own bodies whether it is being treated for endometriosis (I mean, suck it up, it’s just a little pain, right?) or birthing children.      

We live under the pressure of a society that feels our place is beneath them.  We live under our own pressure to perfect and prove that we are worthy.  We live in cages built of our own fears and the limitations we’ve allowed to be placed on us.  All of this while knowing we are capable of so much more.  All of this while forgetting we hold the key to the damn door that will free us immediately—our own minds have to be willing and ready to set us free.  As Alex says, step out of line.  If you feel there is something more for you, there IS.  There are infinite worlds available to us in the corners of our minds.  Don’t waste your life waiting for someone to set you free—unlock the damn door and walk out.