Blow-ups & Peace-talks

This week in our house, we had our regularly scheduled blow-up about the origins of mankind. These discussions happen on a semi-regular basis but it seems that every 3 months or so the conversation really heats up.

Questions like: Is there is a God? What about the dinosaurs? Is our spirit really a spirit or just our subconscious mind? Or is that the same thing?

My husband and I come at these questions from polar opposite points of view. I was raised in a culture steeped in conservative Evangelical values, where anything but Christian was the devil. He was raised in an environment where values didn’t stem from religious beliefs and there was no expectation of what faith you affiliated with. If anything there was an assumption there would be no affiliation.

Some pointed differences:

My upbringing told me that I had to marry a Christian. His upbringing could care less what I did on Sunday morning.

My upbringing was laden with fear… of breaking the rules and punishment if you did. In his upbringing, fear was not something that was there to control you.

This week as we hashed out our differences… in upbringings, worldview, trigger points, and communication styles (oh my!)…

I realized that my travels through Thailand were not for naught; ‘Same, Same, but Different’ rings true again.

Yes we are different, but we want the same thing.

Our differences lie in a combination of things.

For starters, the basic mathematical principle of the Mode: We are both the average of the people we spent the most amount of time around growing up.

Then there’s our innate personality type: He is a J on the Myers-Briggs scale; where if it’s not black, white, or a neat row of logical zeroes and ones, his head hurts. Me? I live in a world where fifty shades of grey makes perfect sense to me.

And don’t discount the fact that when he finds out our sun is spinning in spirals around some other planet/object/universe, his calls me in from whatever I’m doing with the excitement of a kid at Christmas in his voice. And I’m left standing there trying to find a way for ‘frankly my dear, I could give a damn.’ to sound like I really care.  And when I can’t stop talking about how life changing the idea that everyone is doing the best they can with what they have!, he nods his head and smiles and then goes back to watching David Attenborough.

Yet we are both asking for the truth. For the capital-T Truth; the indisputable laws of life including physical laws of gravity and e=mc2, and the spiritual laws such as life follows death (hello butterfly).

And being on the journey for capital-T Truth, we have to respect what is true for ourselves and each other in the moment… that where each of us is on our journey is real and true for us, and not something the other person can dispute or take away.

For me, if you are asking for the Truth, you’re good to go. You may not have found it yet, but it will find you. And I’m convinced that it knows enough to find you in the way that works for you. Why would it show up in Greek when you only speak Russian?

And so why would I only be able to find truth in nature shows when I’d rather be reading Brene Brown?

So here’s my encouragement to you today:

It’s likely that somewhere in your life you feel a disconnection, and the blatant differences between you and a loved one are staring you in the face. It might keep you up in the middle of night, make you want to punch a wall, or it’s why you cry yourself to sleep.

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that the disconnection is just a figment of your imagination, or that all you have to do is change your thoughts. No, the disconnection and the differences are real. You are two different people.

BUT

The disconnection doesn’t have to stay there forever.

A different lens helps to see where the similarities are. Even if it’s a tiny speck, it is the place to plant a seed.

This is what helped me/us this week and maybe it can help you too. It boils down to two things.

1. Owning your story

2. Finding the common goal

Owning your story:

  • Understand where the differences come from. Eg I am personality type A vs I am personality type B
  • Understand how you think and communicate differently. Eg I need to connect dots and see patterns vs I need the final answer shot straight between the eyes
  • Understand your triggers. Eg I shut down to closed-ended questions vs I blow up when I don’t get a straight answer
  • Remember where you came from. Eg I came from a heavily religious background vs I went to Sunday School because that’s just what you did.
  • Check in with where you are now in your story. What Chapter are you living? Eg I am at a place where I’m unraveling and dissecting everything from my past and deciding what I want to keep and what I want to throw away vs I am building off of a clean slate.

Finding the common goal:

  • Where do we both want to end up? Eg Truth, Peace, Love, etc
  • What do we want for each other? Eg space to grow, curiosity, encouragement

Once you’ve given this some thought (and fyi some of those answers may not show up right away), chances are you can find a way TOGETHER, to fill in the gap from A (where you each are at in your own story) to B (your common goal).

And then maybe your quarterly blow-ups can look more like quarterly peace-talks. Except that, that whole death brings life and fire burns off the old thing still stands true; so maybe the blow-up is just inevitably necessary 🙂

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Tears for Fears

I’m a big fan of house music, especially remixes that highlight the hidden beat of a song that otherwise falls into the ‘meh’ category, but now you can’t stop moving to. Back in 2003/2004/maybe 2005, my boyfriend at the time and some friends went to the Miami Winter Music Conference; my first time in the presence of some DJ greats. Aside from an encounter with an overdose (not my own thankfully), I was in my element.

The music, the energy, the weather. I am seriously convinced that God is DJ.

Especially when a remix of Tears for Fears’ “Shout” was played. (I still can’t find which remix it was and it’s driving me nuts, so if anyone remembers the version with special emphasis on the xylophone sound and a kick ass bass, plz let me know!!)

A couple weeks later we were all back in NYC leaving a club where the mix had just come on, and there was like 5 of us singing and dancing in the streets of the Bowery:

‘Shout! Shout! Let it all out!

These are the things I can do without

Come on, I’m talking to you, Come on’

One of my best NYC living memories.

So what’s this got to do with anything?

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been confronted with a lot of tears. Tears of my own, and tears of other women on their True You Journey.

Ten/Fifteen years ago, you wouldn’t catch me dead with tears for fears or any other reason.

Today though, tears are a relatively common occurrence.

My tears, and the tears I’ve been privvy to recently, have been tears for a variety of reasons.

Uncovering the Truth of who we are, experiencing Love in a new way, and being so touched that all we can do is let it all out. Tears for saying goodbye… to old stories we were telling ourselves… the things we finally realized we could do without, but had been holding on to for so long. And yes, even some tears for Fears. The fear and uncertainty of what will be on the other side of letting the old stories go, and letting in the Truth and Love?

What I was reminded of this week is that shedding tears is a good thing. All those years I lived with dry eyes, a good part of me was dead inside.

The more I wake up, the more I cry. (And sing, and dance, in the streets of New York.)

My tears and those of these women were signs that we’re waking up; our True You is coming to the surface.

So have a think for yourself. When was the last time you cried? Shouted?

When was the last time you let it all out?

Got rid of the things you can live without?

C’mon, I’m talking to you! C’mon! 🙂

#BOAW16: What Naked Female Bodies taught me about Beauty

Naked Female Bodies. Probably the most competitive arena in the Western world. So much so it might as well be an Olympic Sport. At least then the standards would be objective and not left up to the eyes of the beholder, forever wondering if this body is ‘good enough’.

Our bodies are either too fat, too thin, too soft, too hard, too round, too flat, too tall, too short. We’ve adopted the Goldilocks syndrome, except we can never find the resting place of, our body, or her body, is ‘just right’.

I am guilty of being Goldilocks. For years I judged every pair of legs, arms, abs, and cheeks (both pairs) that passed me by. And as with all forms of judgement, I was my own worst critic. Displacing my judgement on to her body was easier than accepting my own frailty and flaws.

When I was 18, I was exposed to more naked female flesh than I bargained for. The locker rooms in my university had showers that were reminiscent of Auschwitz. One big, square, stark, concrete room; empty except for shower heads peeking out from the walls. No cubicles, curtains, or any gesture of privacy.

And so after track practice, I’d be butt and breast naked with at least 10 other women as we washed off that day’s sweat and grime.

A perfect opportunity for the dissatisfied Goldilocks in me to take over. Her legs aren’t cut enough. Her bum isn’t round enough. Her thighs aren’t toned enough. Her breasts aren’t firm enough.

I was always comparing each body to some idealistic vision of what a woman’s naked body should look like.

The reality: no one in that room made the cut. Least of all myself. Because none of us had cracked the code of how to surpass the unreachable standard of perfection.

For years I’ve had the wool pulled over my eyes about what a woman’s beauty is; caught in the harsh cycle of comparison, judgement, shame; resulting in trying to hide my own flaws and compensate, in order to meet aesthetic standards.

Here’s what I know now, that I wish I knew then.

Aesthetic beauty is not uniform.

Aesthetic beauty is not the defining factor of a woman’s beauty.

A vivid memory I have from those locker room days was noticing the variety in breasts, nipples, and pubic structure. In the first 18 years of my life, the only naked female body I was familiar with was my own, and I naively thought that all breasts and vaginas were created equal.

Equal? Yes. Identical? No.

Why this was a shock to me, I’m not too sure. Clearly our eyes, noses, and ears were all different. Why wouldn’t the most intimate parts of our bodies be different too?

While this was news to me, I didn’t understand the symbolism of this fact until more recently. I was too busy looking for similarity, conformity, and sameness, missing the point those naked bodies were trying to tell me.

No one body has a monopoly on beauty. Beauty is variety.

No two bodies have identical features (OK, except for twins), even down to our most intimate parts which are usually hidden from sight.

When we are clothed, we hide our differences. It is in our nakedness, that we see our uniqueness.

And while one body may have individual features that can be labeled attractive, or pleasing to the eye, it is the collective, the combination that is beautiful.

Consider a painting. A canvas that is painted solid purple may be nice to look at, a pretty color. But it isn’t until the blue, green, pink, red and yellow are splashed on and accentuate each other, that you have something beautiful.

And so it is with the beauty of a woman. To think that you or I alone define beauty, destroys its essence. Alone, you and I can be pretty, nice to look at, and yes, carry pieces of beauty.

But, it is in standing naked next to another that is beautiful.

It is in our differences, our variety, the fact that no two of us have the same exact same shape, size or coloring, that we create the beauty.

And while this stands true aesthetically, our beauty extends beyond our physical.

Last week I made a comment in The Nourish Circle, reflecting on the experience of coming together for a group call the day before. I wrote, “The vulnerability and shared wisdom that each of us brings is beautiful.”

Hmmmm…. That has nothing to do with how hard, soft, round, flat, tall or short we are.

It was the sharing from the heart, letting others in on the secret heartaches and joys of our souls that was beautiful. Getting emotionally and spiritually naked with each other.

That was beautiful.

And just as in our physical self, while we each have a similar make up and can relate to much of each other’s stories and experiences, no two of our souls are identical.

We are individual, yet the sharing of our individuality and differences creates connectedness, relatability, and no longer are we alone. Like a single strand of a spider web, each strand serves a purpose, and once connected, you have a work of art.

And just like a spider web, where one strand on it’s own can easily be broken but a web can carry an immense amount of weight, keeping one’s ‘weaknesses’ to oneself will break you, but sharing them generates strength.

The beauty of sharing the intimate corners of our hearts, the parts of ourselves that we usually keep close, covered up and clothed, because showing those parts would be too embarrassing, shameful, or inappropriate, is something that I now crave and seek out.

Although at the time of the naked showers, I allowed myself to be physically seen, I kept my emotional and spiritual self, buttoned up and buried deep. And I too, broke.

I could not see that my differences, my so-called flaws, both physically and emotionally, contributed to a collective beauty. And so I fought to change myself and my body. So much so, it led to an eating disorder.

It is only now, through my healing that I can see what I missed. That our beauty, and strength, comes from our differences, ‘weaknesses’, and surrender.

Ah, the Surrender.

For years I thought that I knew better than my body. That I could mold, sculpt, and whip it into shape. Turn it into a machine.

Except it already was a machine. I just didn’t understand how it works.

Within our naked bodies lives wisdom that lays dormant until ignited.

The key that turns the ignition? Surrender. Not Control, as I naively believed.

Surrender and trust, that the same body that pumps blood, creates a baby, and gives and receives pleasure, without having to micro-manage it’s every move, also knows what we need to emotionally and spiritually survive, create, and freely give and receive.

When your body is aching for a run, go for a run. When it is knackered beyond belief, sit still and rest.

When something inside of you craves a catch up with your best friend that you haven’t spoken to in months, a book that you’ve just heard about, a visit to certain part of the world, a good wail and a cry…

Listen to that craving.

Chances are there is something waiting for you. Something that you are ready to learn, a door or window ready to be opened, a gift.

Your body knows where you need to go and what you need to do before you do.

But it won’t tell you if you can’t see it’s beauty.

When you are judging, controlling, and disconnecting from your body, it goes silent.

Instead, we have to be grateful for how it functions, regardless of it’s shape, size, or shade.

We have to care for it, as we would any machine.

And we have to listen to what we are sensing, feeling, and hearing, even when it doesn’t make 100% sense and we can’t be certain of the outcome.

By learning how to relate to our bodies in this way, we learn how to relate to the world.

When we learn to love and surrender…. That, my friends, is beautiful.

So here’s what I finally realized was staring right at me all those times in the shower:

When our hearts are filled with love and surrender, and we stand naked next to another,  exposing our differences and ‘weaknesses’…

that is the beauty of  a woman.


Thanks to August McLaughlin for inspiring and inviting this post. For more Beauty of a Woman blog posts and a chance to win prizes, visit www.augustmclaughlin.com/beauty-woman-blogfest-v/.

To join a group of open-hearted women sharing their vulnerabile beauty with each other, visit www.thetrueyouproject.com/nourish.