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!



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!”


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.



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

Thank you!