To speak or not to speak, that is the question…

Last night I told a friend that she had lost too much weight and wasn’t looking good. That her diet and exercise plan had gone too far.

Several years ago, after I had lost 25 pounds, a friend told me a similar thing. She said I was looking frail. I was as incredulous then as my friend was last night. She didn’t see herself as too thin. Neither did I.

I loved my size 6, flat stomach, easy to fit into any outfit, body. I felt sexy, powerful, in control. I did miss my boobs, however. I was never what you would call a well-endowed woman at my almost-B-cup-bra size, except for when I was pregnant and breastfeeding which doesn’t count because everything else was so big it was all proportional. But, in my minus 25-pound-stealth-self my girls had reduced to their adolescent AA bra size. I figured it was a small price to pay…no pun intended.

Saying the hard thing to a friend takes courage and love. It is a bittersweet gift to offer. When Trudy said it to me, I felt loved and trusted. She believed in me and in the solidity of our friendship to say the difficult truth.

So what do we not say?

And why don’t we say it?

Certainly I worry my loved one will be hurt, or mad, or reject me.

What I said last night came from a place of love and concern. There was no judgment or hidden agenda I was working out. When that is true, I feel safer saying the tough thing. When that is true it is also easier to hear the hard thing, as happened with Trudy. I felt no guile from her.

What I have learned, the hard way, is to keep my mouth shut when I feel I am harboring ulterior motives. That never goes well. The other person always seems to sense my duplicity. And as loudly as I may defend my honor, we both know the truth. My intentions were not honorable.

That is, perhaps, the question to be asked when choosing to speak or withhold. What are my motives? Am I speaking from a place of compassion and concern? I once read that it is our responsibility to speak from our hearts. That we cannot control how the other hears or receives what we say, but we should be sure where our message came from in ourselves.

I know I feel much better about myself, even if the other is hurt, when I am clear I meant no harm. That being said, I may still need to make amends despite my best intentions. It is my responsibility to do that also.

Saying the hard thing is an act of courage and love. It is also the true measure of a strong relationship.

I also told Tom last night that he couldn’t wear his plaid shorts and printed shirt, even if the blue’s matched. I did have ulterior motives, we both knew it, accepted it and laughed about it; concurring that at our age, mismatched hipster-dom simply looks like old age.
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What Are You Made Of?

Remember the story of the 3 little pigs?

 

The first little pig built his house with straw and the wolf blew it down. The second little pig built his house with sticks and the wolf had his way with that house too. The third little pig built his house with brick and for all his huffing and puffing the wolf couldn’t blow the house down.

 

Sitting with a client the other day this fairy tale popped into my head. I have come to trust these little “pop ins”…they usually offer some wisdom I would never have come up with on my own.

 

We were talking about her sense of her self. How comfortable she is being her? How strongly she can advocate for herself? How well acquainted she is with herself ?Basically, how strongly can she stand (with herself) in the face of high wind?

 

That is when “the pigs” popped in.

 

When I consider of my own sense of my self using this metaphor of being a house-a structure that holds me-ideally it(I) would be well built. I know for myself, my friends and the women I work with, this is not always the case. Our houses (sense of self, hearts, confidence) are all too often and too easily blown to bits, straw and twigs flying in all directions.

 

 I have been watching episodes of the Big C on NetFlixs. It is a story of a woman, Cathy, who has cancer. In the episode we watched last night Cathy was hired as the high school swim coach, despite the principals concerns she couldn’t do the job because of her cancer. As the new coach, Cathy took charge. She changed practice warm ups, team strategies and confronted an arrogant, undermining swim team dad. As I watched her stand up to him, I felt her belief in herself as a coach. I was impressed. I noticed I sat straighter on the couch. She was made of brick.

 

As the episode continued, and the plot thickened, Cathy and her husband got crabs because their son slept with a prostitute in their bed (too gross to think about on sooo many levels). Thanks to facebook, and the sons now x girlfriend, the word got out. This was all the arrogant dad needed to have Cathy fired as the swim coach.

 

The scene unfolds as Cathy walked into the pool area; clip board in hand, whistle around her neck, only to see the principal, the dad with all the other parents and her team waiting for her. Cathy is told by the principal she is being fired for putting the girls at risk of getting crabs. I could feel myself cave in for her. I imagined myself as her and could see myself slink out of the gym, find my way home and crawl under the covers. I could feel my shame for her. I was made of straw.

 

Cathy, brick house that she is, doesn’t collapse into her shame, instead she confronts them on the improbability of their accusation and threatens them with a law suit if they try to fire the “woman with cancer.” She ends her self absolution by saying she is taking her team, whoever is still on it, for a run. With that she turns, clip board close to her chest, whistle swinging and out she walks out of the gym. Last scene-she is running on alone on the track. One by one the girls on her team fall in behind her.

 

Now I know this is a well scripted TV series, but I was moved…right out from under my emotional hiding place…announcing to myself and the space between myself and the TV, “I want to be like her when I grow up!”

 

To not move into shame when someone huffs and puffs at me. 

 

To feel my house made of bricks and to stand my ground.

 

To laugh I the face of the big bad wolf…and then take a run.

 

Oh yeah, I don’t run. I’ll take a brisk walk instead. Anyone want to fall in along side of me?

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Just Not Right…

I grew up with my mom telling me to, “Watch your mouth!”  She hated when I said I hated something, when I sang at the dinner table, or told her I couldn’t see my mouth so I couldn’t possibly watch it. She even washed my mouth out with soap once. I don’t remember what I said, but the next day I got tonsillitis and my grandmother blamed my mother for giving it to me. I was vindicated.

 

I did, for the most part, try to please my mom. I watched what I said and did. I became so good at it that I developed TMJ before it was called TMJ. My parents thought it was normal that I had to hit the side of my face to get my jaw to open in the morning to eat my Special K cereal.

 

I don’t imagine this was so unusual for those of us raised in the late 50’s-60’s. We were managed to be polite extensions of our parents. It was our job to make them look better than they felt about themselves. Especially us girls.

 

It’s a hard habit to break, this watching your mouth. “What if I offend somebody?” I would worry. My mom told me the reason a boy I liked didn’t call me again is because I told him a story using the word “poop.” She said, “No boy would want to date a girl with a mouth like that.” Fuck.

 

It seems the older I get the less I watch my mouth and the more I speak my mind. I am a lot less tolerant of what I see and experience. I am “mouthier” these days because some things need to be said. I started a list… Continue reading

It’s the F*@#ing Flame… my last honeymoon story…promise

(On August 26th, in the Mexican town of Teotihuacan, the flame for the 2011 Pan American Games was lit and the runner began its route through Mexico.)

 

We decided to spend a day in Puerta Vallarta before we flew back home. We met a couple on the plane to Mexico that made us promise to, at the very least, take a day trip into PV because it is so beautiful. Old PV, not Nueva PV where all the oversized resorts live. They were adamant. It sounded like a good idea. They gave us the name of the time share/hotel they stay in, some places to shop and a great restaurant for dinner. We were convinced and folded it into our plans.

 

Since there was no shopping in PLT I was looking forward to do some shopping. I was also ready to leave our eco resort survivalist meets paradise location. I was also ready to speak English. My brain was tired from trying to speak Spanish, trying to understand Spanish and acting like I understood Spanish when I had no idea what was being said. I  was ready for a bit of civilization. Continue reading