They Don’t All Like You

There’s something that’s been sort of swirling around in my personal sphere lately – in myself and in several people I’ve encountered online, in person, on the phone, pretty much everywhere. So I thought I’d take a couple of minutes to feel it out, give us some space to look at it.

I’ll start with me, not just because I’m self-centered, but because that’s the story I know best. Many of you probably already know that I have a mailing list and that I send out a missive pretty much every week (summer has its own calendar and while my intentions are pure, they are not always timely). In the past my weekly offering was accepted either with enthusiasm or neutrality. Some folks would write back with questions (LOVE) or praise (SUPER LOVE – I’m not immune people). Others would just tacitly approve by staying on the list (YAY!).

alone-away-back-view-274712Lately, things have been different. I know my writing has been different. Some of my offerings have been different. There’s been a more spiritual bent more of the time. There’s been a little more cursing here and there – a strange combination for some, but hey, this is me. And lately when I send out my message in a digital bottle, I’ve been getting a little wave of unsubscribes. Like that language? “A little wave,” the wording shows you exactly where I am with the whole thing. I want to be okay with it, so I call it little, but I feel every single one, so it’s a wave.

It’s perfectly natural that as what I’m doing changes, there will be people who no longer dig it. It’s totally sensible that as I become more myself, there will be people who find that I’m no longer a good fit for their selves. It’s reasonable that with crowded e-mail inboxes those who don’t LOVE what I’m doing should unsubscribe. My wise and practical mind knows this.

But that girl inside? She’s 12 again and all she wants is for everybody to like her. I bring this up NOT to get you all to sign up for my newsletter, but but because this happens to all of us. It especially happens as we change and become more honest, more whole, and more authentic. THIS is what Brene Brown means by vulnerability. When you are real, you take the chance of finding out that not everyone likes HER. We so want to be liked and we so want to be real. And so we juggle and which of those balls we pay the most attention to depends on so many factors.

No matter how we slice it though, we’re going to come across people who just don’t like us or don’t like what we do. My response tends to be: “Wait a minute. What did I do?” I want to investigate to see exactly what was different this time. I want to know why they are leaving. I want to be able to ask them why they don’t like me anymore – and that’s all coming from the 12 year old.

And she only asks for one reason: she asks because she is willing to change in order to keep all of those people. She is willing to be someone else in exchange for approval. She is more concerned about what everyone thinks of her than what she thinks of herself. She actually NEEDS them to like her because she thinks if enough people like her, she will then finally get to like herself.

Ugh. Brutal.

I see it. I see it in a way I was not able to see it in the past. I see it because over the last few years I worked really hard at reversing that direction.

I started with liking me, no not just liking me, LOVING me.

I consciously began to notice the things I love about me Рand I mean that on ALL of the levels: in my head, in my heart AND on my body. (I have an amazing décolletage by the way.) I also began treating myself with love. I sat down and figured what that looked like and while I worked on developing the feelings, I began taking the actions. It has changed everything.

And yet, that 12 year old is still around.

That’s right. She’s still there, because here’s the thing about dragons. You don’t have to slay them to make peace.

I know what she’s about. I see her emerge. I catch myself before it all gets so serious that I make someone else’s opinion of me WAY too important. I check in – am I cool with what I said/did/created? Am I proud? Was it me? Yes, yes, yes.

And as I check in with myself, I realize how very okay it is that not everybody likes me.

Truthfully, I don’t like everybody either.

And that’s not what really matters anyway.

What really matters is how I feel about me because even if everyone else thinks I’m great but I don’t like me, I will feel no better. I will feel like a fraud. I will feel lonely and empty.

blur-body-care-161608When I love me, I get to feel real. I get to feel full. I get to feel better. They don’t like me, and that’s okay because I love me (cue the Megan Trainor song now).

If this message was for you today, I hope you’re hearing me, that I’ve found the right words. If you have children, especially teenage girls, I hope you’re hearing me.

If you stop reading my stuff five seconds from now and never come back, I hope you hear me when I say that you are worthy. You ARE special. You do have something to contribute. YOU are the only you we have and if you aren’t doing you right now, maybe it’s time to try to find her, ever so gently, and with great love.

So be it.

 

Connection and Cupcakes

baby-beautiful-bed-266061I have a secret.

I’ve been cheating.

I’ve been cheating on my children.

I’ve had the biggest Mom crush on a little girl at church for the longest time.

I’ve watched her since she first appeared snuggled in her car seat.

I’ve watched her as she moved to crawling, to standing, to walking holding hands, to running (everywhere), and now to dancing without reserve.

I have cooed to my sister, squeezed my husband’s hand and encouraged him to watch too.

We have all been on the sidelines of her experience, cheering her on without her even knowing we existed really.

It has been kind of lovely.

And could only be topped by finally getting in.

My little friend came to a party at our house last night and through the magic of a few American Girl Doll accessories and Littlest Pet Shop figures, I got to have a conversation with her at long last.

We spoke in hushed tones about the ribbon on the fox’s head and the fact that everyone loves cupcakes. Shen entrusted me with a story about her day. I assured her it sounded spectacular. And then the moment passed.

But this morning, I saw her again in church and when she stopped in the middle of a twirl, she made eye contact, danced a little in my direction, gave me a big smile and a wave. Just like that I am part of her world just as she has been part of mine. Just like that we are connected.

It got me to thinking about how simple and small connection really can be. It’s finding something in common (even if it is your daughter’s toys). It’s asking about the events of the day. It’s assuring people that they are having as much fun (or not) as they think they are. It’s making eye contact, and saying hello in the way that is most assuredly you.

cupcake-delicious-dessert-917302We have so many opportunities to connect and yet so many of us feel disconnected, sidelined, lonely.

Sometimes all it takes is the willingness to have a quieter conversation about cupcakes, because really, who doesn’t love cupcakes?

Valentine’s Day is an Inside Job

This year, at 9:38 a.m., I am already having the best Valentine’s Day ever. No, don’t run away. If you are not in a relationship and are SO over hearing about Valentine’s Day, I get it, but I promise this is for you too.

pexels-photo-326612I should start off by saying that Valentine’s Day has never been my favorite, at least not since it came with a bag full of notes and candy at school – although there was (in my day) always the looming threat of not receiving notes from your classmates or not receiving them from the classmates you most wanted them from. Since that time I’ve always been a bit of a Valentine’s Day Grinch – is there a word for that? Do we have a character that represents that? I’m not sure I really want an answer to that question. At any rate, I grumbled about the Hallmark manufactured holiday in years when I was single as well as in years when I was not. I still did the things mind you. I bought cards. I delivered chocolate, but there really wasn’t a lot of joy in it. My heart wasn’t in it.

And I think that’s because my heart wasn’t in a lot of things. My giving in times past has often come from a place of obligation. Not that there is no affection there, but there was always something in the way of these outward and sort of fountain-like expressions of romance and gooeyness. And I think what was in the way was not, as I’d always assumed, just a character trait, a preference, a part of the larger picture of WHO I AM AND WHO I WILL ALWAYS BE. I think what was in the way was the thing that keeps so many of us from fully engaging in just about everything: a lack of serious self-love.¬†And I know I’m onto something here because as I write this, I am both excited and uncomfortable, a sensation my friend Bev Barnes dubbed “scare-cited.”

My continuous disdain of myself took many forms: disapproval of my body, judgment and second guessing of every decision (large or small), continually replaying the tape of conversations I’d had to be sure I had handled it all well or said the right things (searching for signs that I had screwed it up), failure to forgive myself for mistakes and errors in judgment, lack of compassion for pain and sorrow… I could go on here, but it’s starting to bum me out.

The point that I am trying to make is that outward expressions of love and my ability to accept them is an inside job. It starts with acceptance of everything I am and the tiniest speck of appreciation for the unique magic that I bring to the world. I know that last sentence makes it sound so easy. And I know if you are not there, in that place of self-acceptance or at least on the path, that that last sentence sounds completely ridiculous.

pexels-photo-207962And so I want to ask you today: what would feel like love? What could you do that would actually make you feel loved? Our answers to this sometimes come cheap and easy. We slide into the comfort of distraction and simple pleasure (sugar, booze, movies). I am asking you to dig a little deeper on this day of love. What would nourish your soul? Can you do that, even if it’s just for a few minutes? I’m asking because every time you do those things, those things that nourish your soul, you are sending yourself a valentine. You are sending your body, your heart and your mind a love note and that message is received. The message that you are worth taking care of; that you are worth nourishing; that the things that are special about you deserve your time, energy and nurturing care – that message gets received. And the message creates a space for hope, for faith, and for real love.

My heart is with you today friends. And my heart is with me – in joy, acceptance, and wildly exciting freedom.

XO,

julia