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Why We Need to Own Our Greatness

I had been swimming for 10 minutes in the pool when a woman ten or perhaps fifteen years my senior asked if she could share my lane with me. There were at least three other lanes with a single swimmer in them, so she had other options to choose from. When I answered that yes, of course I’d be happy to share my space with her, she explained that she was a very slow swimmer and hoped I wouldn’t be bothered by how slow she was. In that moment, I suddenly felt sorry for her.

It took less than two laps for me to turn that feeling into a pity party for myself.


She was actually quite a good swimmer. She was clearly faster and more expert at swimming than I. Within a couple of laps she had caught up to me. Another lap later, she had passed me.

Every four to five laps after that, she was passing me again.

What was my problem? How could a woman who was noticeably older and in her own words, "very slow", crushing me in the pool?


I have always loved to swim, but it’s only been in the last four months that I have made time in my weekly routine to do this past-time. I have been super proud of myself for slowly increasing my swim distance over the last four months to what is now just over a mile in one session.

I have shared lanes with other swimmers as I have progressed in my journey: some have been faster and others slower. Knowing I was a beginner going for endurance and distance, I didn’t mind sharing a lane. I managed to stay competitive with myself and was proud of how I was advancing.

Until today.

What made the difference on this day?

This woman’s self-declared diminishing of her talent triggered my own insecurities. If she was as very slow as she said, why was she swimming circles around me? If she was “very slow”, what the heck was I? Downright sluggish was one of the first things to come to mind. Slower than a turtle quickly followed that thought!


It takes me a good forty-five minutes to swim my mile and an eighth. Instead of relaxing into the meditative state that I normally sink into with each lap, my monkey brain was working overtime that day, berating me for not moving faster.

It took me all of that time to realize that her declaration was her “stuff” that she was dealing with and not something that was a reflection of me at all. But as I was showering and getting dressed after finishing my swim, the real “aha” moment occurred.

How many times I have done just the same thing as she did?

How many times have I not owned my greatness or talents for something I did, and in return made someone else feel diminished or less than?

When we own our greatness, we give others permission to own theirs.


We all shine brighter when we own our gifts. We are happier, more connected and more accepting of others when we acknowledge the truth of whom we are.

Let me ask you this: who would you want to hang out with more? Someone who beats themselves up all the time and lives in a state of “I am not enough”, or someone who lives from a place having a heart full of joy and gratitude for who they are?

I have lived in both worlds – in fact, most of my life was spent in the world of “I am not enough.” I had some wonderful friends, some of whom lived in the same state of not feeling enough on their own too. You know the saying, misery loves company? Well, that can be very true and I had quite a full “house” of people who thoroughly enjoyed sharing their woes.

Now, that I have put the past, including my pregnancy losses and those woebegone friends behind me, I have found a place of being where not only am I enough, but where I am pretty darn excellent at a number of things. I would rather live in this place of excellence and teach my children to reside in this same place of knowing that they are pretty freaking awesome too, than that place of feeling “less than” where I spent a good part of my life.


How about you? What are your gifts? Where is your greatness? And are you hiding those amazing talents?

Maybe it is in your smile, your laugh, or a twinkle in your eyes. Maybe it is a talent for acting, for being smart, for athletic prowess or sense of humor.

Whatever it is, will you take that in? Will you give your children, your friends, your partner, and your family permission to shine brightly too?


Take my word for it – standing firmly in the knowledge of your own greatness is THE best place in the world to live!


Namaste.

 

Are You Ready for Rebirth?


“Where is the man with the drugs?” I demanded. “You are all lying to me aren’t you? You say he’s coming, but he’s not, is he? You’re all full of it!”

I should state here that this was not one of my finest moments during the delivery of my second child and biggest baby. This week he will be sixteen. If you read last week’s blog, you know his younger brother was also born in October, so January seems to have been a particularly fertile month for me!


Born on October 17, 1998, he was 8 pounds 11 ½ ounces when he made his way into the world three days past his due date. Even though he took his time deciding when he was ready to be born, once he made the choice, he was here faster than you say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Well, almost.

Just before he was born, I remember screaming, “Get it out, get it out now!” as I pushed him through the birth canal. I had not been prepared for a natural birth, or such a large baby. I had never felt such excruciating pain before in my life.

Moments later I was holding a beautiful, healthy baby boy in my arms. From extraordinary pain to utter bliss in an instant!


As I look back on the last sixteen years with my oldest son, and especially his birth, I can see how so much of my transformation after my pregnancy losses required a similar dedication and desire. One of my book mentors talks about how writing a book is like birthing a baby. Transforming your pain into love after a pregnancy loss is not much different.

First, it’s important to consciously choose to heal the pain, numbness or isolation that you are living with, just like it’s important to consciously choose to have a baby when you are ready. I was most conscious of my choice to have this child, as I knew what parenting was like already from having a daughter. My son was conceived during the week of his grandmother's death - another example of pain and grief being transformed into love. Making the decision, myself, whether choosing to have a baby or anything else that requires effort, is a critical part of a successful outcome. Choosing to heal and to move on is not for the faint of heart. You have to really want to move forward for your feelings of forgiveness to take root. No one can make this choice for you.

Secondly, it does take time. Just like having a baby or writing a book, transforming your way of living with loss requires a different way of being and one that takes time to learn. It’s a special kind of journey: one where we need to be gentle and patient with ourselves. Some things need to marinate a bit before they are ready to be felt, seen or talked about. There were moments when I was pregnant, I couldn't wait to see my baby boy. But we both needed the time we had to prepare not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. There's no hurry.

Thirdly, it’s important to know that there will be moments when it’s hard to stay the course, and you will want and need support. There were moments of extreme morning sickness, and then of course, wanting drugs at his birth. There is a sisterhood of women out there who have been through pregnancy loss and can help others get through this often emotionally difficult path. One in every three women will have had an abortion in their lifetime. One in every two women will experience a miscarriage. There are lots of women who can help you navigate the current and stay the course to achieve wholeness. We are here for you.

Lastly, it’s vital to see a vision of what can be once the grieving and healing has taken place. I held a vision of my new baby and my new family in my heart and my mind during the tough times of pregnancy. For healing after pregnancy loss, it's a little harder, but based on the statistics, there are a ton of us at some point in the cycle. I’ve met a few women in my life who were willing to talk about this and show me the end game after going through all the shame, guilt, and pain. However, I have found many who were willing to live a half-hearted life afterwards because it was far easier to live in a way that was known and comfortable than to take the risk to release the grief. When we share with each other, we help ourselves AND our sisters on the path.

I want for you what I have found for myself – a whole hearted, joy-filled life complete with meaning and intention.

Who is ready to rebirth themselves?

Who wants to live boldly, love joyfully, and be loved fully?

I hope everyone reading this post raised their hand and shouted out loud “ME!”


Namaste.

By the way, here is the link to tonight's show with Mama Char. I hope you enjoy the show!

My Miracle Baby (edited 10/8/14)

Have you heard the famous Eleanor Roosevelt phrase, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do?” There is one time in particular in my life when I felt that thought run through me in a terrifyingly “I can’t survive this” kind of way.

Well, let me tell you, there is a BIG upside to doing the thing you think you cannot do.


Before I share what that was, I need to give you a little history…


A month earlier I had had a miscarriage. It was my fourth pregnancy and would have been my third child. As if the miscarriage itself, which took over a week to complete, was not painful enough, when I woke up in the recovery room at the end of that long week, I was suddenly transported back in my mind to the clinic where I’d had an abortion eleven years earlier.

At that time of my miscarriage, my husband was going to seminary school at nights to become a Catholic deacon, and the pressure I felt from my religious upbringing and his new vocation created incredible tension and anxiety in me and between us, to keep my secret. Although I did not know it at the time, our abortion was a reason that could have precluded his ordination. He was disconnected from our marriage in every way. I was in overwhelm and alone in parenting our two young children and now I had two dead babies I needed to grieve for, but could not. When I left for a healing retreat a month after my miscarriage, my husband sent me off with very clear instructions – “Do whatever you need to do to fix yourself and pull this family back together.” I was breathing and barely alive, but spiritually and energetically I was close to dying. 

At that retreat, I had to acknowledge that if I was going to survive, I would need to tell my story. I would need to say what I did out loud. And then, when that was done, I would need to acknowledge my unborn children and bring closure in a ritual similar to a funeral.

I had to choose. It was my life or death. Could I do the thing that I thought I could not do? 


To my great surprise and utter relief, I discovered that releasing the story and its attendant emotions brought me peace, relief and a new support network I never knew existed. My shadow side was exposed; my dark side was bared for the other women at our retreat to see. This opened a door to a non-judgmental love I had not experienced in a long time. Contrary to my thinking, my vulnerability and full disclosure did not make them hate me – just the opposite. I was welcomed into a hospitable and loving community unlike any I had ever known.

Two and a half months later, after doing these things I did not think I could do, I found out I was pregnant with my third child. 

At age 41, he was my miracle baby and a symbol of healing for all the inner work I had done at that retreat. I learned that good things have room to grow when the toxic emotions are released. I had created space for a new beginning, for both of my baby and myself. 


That little guy was born on October 12, 2004. In five days, he will be ten years old. Thank you my “I love you more” guy for all the lessons you have brought to me. Mama Chop loves you to the moon and back again.


Namaste.

 

PS: Next Tuesday at 6 pm PST I have the honor and privilege of being interviewed by Mama Char on her show, The Quirky World of Mama Char on Blog Talk radio. I will post the link on when it will air.


And…my new website is almost complete! Hurray! I hope you will catch my blog next week at www.unborn angels.com/blog.


Thank you!



 

What We Resist Does Indeed Persist


Do you experience struggle in your life?

And how does that affect your children?
This past weekend, Oprah had clinical psychologist and conscious parenting expert Dr. Shefali Tsabary as her guest on her popular TV show, Lifeclass. In a segment on sibling rivalry, Dr. Shefali asked one of the parents who complained about the arguments between her boys what battles she had in her own life. Talk about cutting to the chase! This mother knew right away exactly what she meant. Instantly, we learned about her recent life and death battle with metastatic breast cancer. Her inner struggles were being reflected outwardly through the sibling rivalry between her children.

As Carl C. Jung says “What you resist, persists”, and those hurdles tend to show up in the lives of the people and environment closest to us.

Last December a study on the relationship between traumatic events and inheritance was reported by the BBC. The findings provide evidence of "transgenerational epigenetic inheritance" which means that the environment can affect an individual's genetics, which can in turn be passed on.” Now science is beginning to see that our unhealed wounds may be showing up in the future generations that are born from our genetic inheritance. Now that’s an eye-opener to me!

There is another scientific phenomenon that I have recently learned about called microchimerism. Microchimerism is when two genetically distinct cell populations are found in the same individual. It happens most often from pregnancy. Scientists have found that fetal cells can linger in the uterus years after the pregnancy is over, whether by pregnancy loss or birth. These cells can be found in the mothers, twins, or even siblings born many years later.  
To apply that theory into perspective to my life, my grandmother had an abortion prior to the birth of my mother. It is very possible that the cells from the aborted pregnancy were not only in my grandmother, but also shared with my mother, her next child. I have recently learned that I may have had a missing twin in utero that miscarried early in my mother’s pregnancy with me. Do I carry cells from my lost sister in my body? The possibilities are incredible to think about. This is a different situation than transgenerational epigenetic inheritance, but both ideas raise the same questions:
  • How much awareness do we have of our ancestors’ lives on a physical level?
  • Is it an accident that my grandmother had an abortion and I, her grandchild, did also?
  • Is there healing that I can do to minimize this possibility happening in my daughter or granddaughter or great grand-daughter's life down the road?

  • Plus how much of my ancestors’ stress and trauma do I carry in my body and how much of that, plus my own, am I passing down to my own children?  

I don’t know the answer to these questions… yet. But I do know that what I take charge of and heal myself from not only helps me be a happier and aligned human being, it also has the potential to do that for my descendents as well.
Wherever our pain lies, in secrets or shame from our past, I believe the greatest hope for the future lies in healing ourselves first. And then, finally, what does not persist, cannot exist.
 
Namaste.

Desperately Seeking Acceptance

 

My upcoming book, How My Unborn Children Saved My Life, is a spiritual story of my journey to wholeness. It navigates the terrain of abortion and narcissism and how my unborn children led me to find my way out of a world of unhealthy behaviors.

Often we do not realize how broken we are and it takes an earth-shattering event to shake us from the world of illusion that we live in. 

We are born and raised into a world that over time becomes our “normal” way of living. Yet we can become so disconnected from the truth of who we are that we have little hope of discovering who we truly are without a crisis to ignite our transformation. 

I recently met two women who grew up in a household where narcissism was their mothers’ defining character trait. Both of these women were givers and both of them wanted more than anything else to be loved and acknowledged by their parents. And yet their mothers were so self-centered that it was impossible for them to clearly see their daughters and recognize their needs. I understood their stories well. Their stories were so similar to my own. 

I realize as I come full circle in my own life and understand why I made certain choices, why my life brought me in the directions it did. I understand that as human beings we all have one thing in common:

We desire acknowledgment and love from our parents. 

Our unborn children are no different.

I believe whether we have had an abortion or we have lost children through miscarriage, they are spiritual beings who chose us as their parents. They saw a beauty and light in us that made them want to be a part of our lives. 

Part of the healing journey from our pregnancy losses is their healing journey as well. They desire what we also desire – acknowledgement and love from their parents. 

It makes sense, doesn’t it? How many of us strived for a good part of our lives wanting to be seen and cherished by our parents? How many of us studied to get straight A’s or perhaps even developed a negative behavior just to get our parents’ attention? I think it is an unusual human being who has not been caught up in wanting such recognition. 

Why would our spirit children, our unborn angels, be any different?

The moment I connected with my unborn children, my life began to change. The heaviness in my being lifted and my transformational journey began.  

In fact, opening up to the bond of my unborn has led me to a deeper connection with my embodied children. Both my born and unborn children have taught me so much. The very least I can do is acknowledge and thank them for it.


Namaste.

Why We Really Need to Tell Our Stories


My good friend and author Susan Westbrook, of the extraordinary new book The Five TibetansYoga Workshop, believes that “We tell our story so others will tell theirs.” It is in telling our story that we give others permission not only to tell theirs, but if we do it right, sharing with an open heart and deep vulnerability, then they will share their story the same way.

But sharing our stories honestly and with integrity isn’t always easy to do.

Last week, at a conference of transformational leaders and visionaries from around the globe, I had the opportunity to speak to the concern of being vulnerable and authentic in storytelling.

I shared with the audience how difficult that experience was for me. I wrote no less than six drafts of my story for the Amazon bestseller, Pebbles in the Pond –Wave 2. I think the actual number was eight, with the final version coming out in draft nine. Each draft took me deeper into the land of vulnerability and opening my heart. Each draft brought me closer to the truth of who I was. You see, by committing to writing this story, I had also made a commitment to myself. Sharing my story has certainly given others a place of comfort in sharing theirs, but it also gave me a chance to know myself better; to take responsibility for my life, and to finally begin to live as an empowered woman, not a victim.

Writing and sharing my story was a spiritual practice; one that brought me profound inner healing. 

What I didn’t share at the conference last week was that writing my story was not something I consciously chose to do. Just like being awoken from the repressed feelings of my abortion when I had a miscarriage, the sharing of my story was something that chose me.

I spent years doing the inner work I needed to do to heal from my abortion. And yet each time I thought I was done with it, I received a message from the Universe gently letting me know that there was still much more work around this subject that needed to be addressed. No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t escape it. My grandmother’s confession was my first realization of that, but over time the message was felt in other ways as well.

Never in a million years did I imagine I would write about pregnancy loss, abortion and our unborn children – definitely all of them suppressed, stigmatized and “woo woo” subjects. I was forty years old before I knew that my life’s work would include a significant component of energy around these experiences. Even then I did not envision that I would be writing about them for the whole world to read.

But this thing that I did not imagine, it kept coming back to me. Just when I thought I was done dealing with my abortion, my unborn daughter, or my grandmother’s startling news she shared with me, these events would weave their way into my prayers and dreams and remind me of their presence, of their stories and of their love.

Yes, it is true that I tell my story so others can more easily tell theirs. I also tell my story as a conduit so that my grandmother’s story and my unborn daughter’s presence can be acknowledged and appreciated. You see, for in doing so, in listening to the inner promptings to open my heart and let out the good, the bad, and the ugly, I find I am transformed as well.

Thank you Mor-Mor and Mary, for reminding me of this fact last week.

Namaste.

 

Why Take Sides?


It was on my mind for years. Literally. Am I pro-choice or pro-life? I used to wonder what was wrong with me that I couldn’t pick a side and stay with it.
 
And you know what was wrong with me?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

When it comes to the topic of choice where life is concerned, taking a side seems like the only way to go. Abortion isn’t the only part of life where this decision comes up. What about euthanasia or doctor assisted suicide? Are these issues really so straightforward and uncomplicated?

Before I had an abortion, I was pro-choice, although with the stipulation that it was something I believed in for other people and it was not something I would ever do. Can you feel my judgment oozing out of those words?


Even after my abortion, it made me feel better to believe that I had a right to choose what to do with my body. It validated the experience for me. My choice – my responsibility, but also my justification.

But then a miscarriage activated memories from the abortion that I couldn’t escape and I found myself beginning the process of healing from my abortion.  

At this point, I made a 180 degree turn around from my previous pro-choice stance and became pro-life. Healing was hard work and I had repressed a lot of negative emotions. Releasing all that toxicity was excruciating. I wanted to save anyone else from the trauma I experienced. At the time, a devout Roman Catholic, I confessed and repented my choice. In many ways, becoming pro-life was a way of restitution for me.


But atoning for my choice didn’t open me up to the whole story of my life and why I made that choice in the first place. It blinded me to the deeper parts of my story and kept me in shame – for I was continuing to judge myself.

The truth is I had my own issues to resolve around worthiness and self-esteem. And I am finding that so do many, many others, both men and women.

I met a woman the other day who told me she moved to California from New York forty years ago. When I asked her what brought her out here, she shared in lengthy detail the traumas of her childhood, still fresh in her mind like they had happened yesterday. The anger, bitterness, and resentment after all this time were still raw for her. Most of us aren’t that expressive, especially to a complete stranger, yet many of us hold onto some very deep childhood hurts for far too long.

Am I pro-life? You bet. I believe most of us believe in the sanctity of life. It is sacred and beautiful and miraculous. Just think about how any of us came to be here – who could ever have imagined an egg and a sperm united to create each one of us?

Am I pro-choice? You bet. We all deserve the right to choose what to do with our bodies and our lives are precious too. Do I have any less right to live my life on my terms than anyone else?

In the over two decades since my abortion, I have been on both sides of this conversation. What I have found after being in both places is that I actually am in reality in both places. I value life AND I believe in a person’s right to choose.
 
I have been studying abortion for over a decade and what I have concluded is that there isn’t a person I have yet to meet who isn’t both pro-life and pro-choice. We think that abortion, like euthanasia, war, poverty, and violence, is a black and white issue… but it’s not. It’s full of story, nuance and lots of gray areas. Maybe the real story behind this question is not which side we are on, but what we do to honor the life that is here already.

Namaste.

 

PS: Here is a link to a short movie (21 minutes) with actor James Cromwell that I saw this week about taking sides. It’s current and powerful. Can you imagine a world where we lived in unity instead of separation? http://bit.ly/1vT5Jcu