Ratting myself out.

Forgive me, blogosphere, for I have sinned.

The last few weeks I've been ranting about taking steps back to re-evaluate ourselves and what we're doing. I wrote about just "being" instead of "doing" all the time, and before that I wrote about perfectionism and the curse of "go big or go home".

And last week, my good friend Jenny Blake wrote a post entitled "My Sandboxed Life" where she confesses that her overachievement is getting to her and she wants to slow down (by the way, the "friend" she mentions that told her she was a "house of cards waiting to crumble"? Yeah, that was me).

So, here I am, blahbidy, blah, blah. Telling all of you in the blogosphere the importance of slowing down for your own sanity and little ol' me has a to-do list 17 miles long. Yes, I said it. I am a....


But, in my own defense, and the point of this post, is that I didn't even know it was happening. Let me explain.

I've learned some things about my own negative self talk, or saboteur (remember mine? She's a real bitch). In most cases, this talk is blatantly negative, saying things like, "You can't do this, you suck at that, you're stupid", etc. Since I've done a pretty good job at recognizing these voices and putting a lid on it, my bitch of a gremlin has evolved and gotten smarter. Since she knows she can't trap me that way, she's flipped it around and disguises herself as ambition. She makes ridiculous demands, plays the comparison game and has no patience for compromise. None. (P.S. I talk about her in the third person because it helps me decipher those words from my true self . I know it sounds like I hear voices, but I'm really not schizophrenic. Er, at least I don't think I am). My own coach gave me a homework assignment a couple weeks back that entailed me sitting down and making a list of things not to-do, but what I've done in the last year. I finally did it, and was astounded at how long and kick-ass it was. It made me realize that if I can't sit back and be proud of myself for accomplishing all that I've done, what's the point it wearing myself out for it? It's okay to slow down and celebrate once in a while. To look at how far I've come, and sometimes, to confess that I screw up. So, with that, I pull up my big girl panties and carry on.

I can't tell you what a relief it's been to realize this and put things off. I don't know why I see women entrepreneurs that have been in business for 10+ years and think I need to be that. Tomorrow. How ridiculous! I was reminded this week by Jennifer Powter that moms starting a business with small children live in dog years. What takes most people 1 day may take us a week. It's frustrating, and as a recovering type a/perfectionist person, I can tell you that irritates the shit out of me.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go get my professional juggling certification.

What do you want to BE when you grow up?

Interesting how that question is worded. Not "what do you want to DO when you grow up".

I suppose in some ways I'm just growing up now. I had several life altering experiences within a few years of each other. Bad ones. I mean really, really bad. The kind of things that make people's eyes widen and they don't know what to say. So, I've been asked many times how I came out on the other side. How did I not just wallow in self pity and become a walking disaster? Well, I was a walking disaster for several months, but some key things happened to get myself to a better place. Today I found something and would like to share with you.

I've always been in a hurry to do everything. At this point, I know it's in my DNA, and I've accepted it, so I only try to slow down when I'm being crazy and it's affecting me or someone I care about in a negative way. I walk fast, talk fast and like to cross things off my list. So, 2 years ago I was sitting in one of my coaches training classes and we were asked the question to ponder and write down the answer:

"What would you do if you knew you could not fail?" 

And being little Miss Busy Bee that I am, I started writing furiously. Making goals. The things I was supposed to do. The things I thought I should do. I even put timelines on them. I wrote about 5 things and stopped. I drew a big X through them. On the next line I wrote:

Just Be. 

Just be happy and confident and know that when the time is right and when I am ready it will happen. 

That was a big step for me. Letting go of all the doing. Letting go of control, knowing I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Looking at my own words in my own handwriting this morning brought me to tears. That was my list of hopes and dreams. That was what I wanted to be when I grew up. Sure, I wanted to do all of the "things" on my list, but really, it wasn't working out so well in the past. I was lost. So, that day I threw the towel in. I didn't care if everyone else in my class had goals written down. I was tired. Tired of chasing the impossibleness of "doing" all the time. I wanted to just be me. I suppose my soul sighed from relief and thanked me.

Trust me, my life isn't all unicorns farting rainbows. I still make lists of things to do. But, I've been able to just be....me. Messy, unorganized, imperfect, crazy, spazz girl me.

Summer Reading list for girls!

I have received several emails from friends of mine, asking for suggested reading. Some for themselves, and lately moms are contacting me asking for books that are for their daughters- books that give a positive moral message. They're tired of their daughters having "role models" thrust in their faces that are not worthy of looking up to. Reality stars, "glitterati girls", and girls that are famous for nothing more than bad behavior and attractiveness. A couple months ago I wrote about Katherine Switzer, an amazing woman who at 20 years old paved the way for women to be able to enter and run competitive marathons. That is a woman I would love for my daughter to aspire to be like, someone strong willed, who stood up for what she believed in, and didn't let anyone get in her way.

So, I've compiled a list of books for you with the help of Tanya Lee Stone. This list is for girls ages 9-12. The links are all to Amazon, but that's merely so you can see what the books are all about. I encourage you to go to your local library and get ALL of them! Oh, the library, remember that place? I had forgotten about it too, but have recently returned and wow- it's a pretty cool place!

So, here it is, in no particular order:

"Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream" by Tanya Lee Stone.

"Thank you, Sarah" by Laurie Halse Anderson

"Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice" by Philip M. Hoose

"Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Staton and the Right to Vote" by Tanya Lee Stone

"Independent Dames: What You Never Knew About the Women and Girls of the American Revolution" by Laurie Halse Anderson

"Remember the Ladies: 100 Great American Women" by Cheryl Harness

"Lives of Extraordinary Women: Rulers, Rebels, and what the Neighbors Thought" by Kathleen Krull

"Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women" by Catherine Thimmesh

"33 Things Every Girl Should Know about Women's History" by Tonya Bolden

The Curse of "Go Big or Go Home"

I saw this bumper sticker the other day and it conjured up many bad memories. I used to live my life by this mantra. No, I mean LIVE MY LIFE. If it wasn't going to be done 150,000,000 percent, then don't do it at all. Isn't that what it means to "Go Big or Go Home"? If you read my blog you know I sometimes write about a nasty thing called Perfectionism. I've struggled with this for years. It's ugly, I hate it, but I've actually come a long way. Perfectionism is black and white. In someone's life who deals with this, everything is or isn't. There's no "in-between". No gray area.

I started playing tennis when I was 3 years old. I practically grew up on the tennis courts. My parents were avid players. I took lessons for years and years and if my parents weren't paying for lessons, my dad was my coach. My freshman year in high school I got up enough courage to try out for the tennis team. The first day of try-outs I sized up the other girls there. Some of them were better than me, but not all. It didn't even occur to me that these girls would be my teammates, not my competition. The anxiety that overtook me was much too overwhelming. I felt sick thinking that I might lose. In front of others. In front of my parents.  So, guess what I did? I went home. The following year I tried out for something much less stressful in my book: Cheerleading. I don't regret being on the cheerleading team, however, I very much regret letting my own perfectionism, my own fear of failure limit me in something that was so important to me. I loved tennis. I was a really good player. But, if I couldn't be the absolute best, if I couldn't "go big", (and in my mind that meant never losing) I would rather go home.

This thought process continued and bled over into other parts of my life. I compared myself constantly to everyone else. I wasn't as thin as this person, my boobs weren't as big as that persons, my grades weren't as good as hers. Compliments fell on deaf ears.

When someone concentrates so hard on looking good, at being the absolute best at any cost, are they really living their life authentically? Are they even living their own life? I didn't even know what "living authentically" meant until I became somewhat comfortable living in the grey.  Years of "go big or go home" had worn on me, and I had no idea who I was, what I wanted, and who I wanted to become. Was it easy to let it all go? Shit, NO! It's still not sometimes. I still have moments of "Oh no, I'm going to look like a complete asshole if I do this or say that". It's slowly becoming easier to be okay with the fact that some people might think I'm an asshole. And on a good day I might even take that as a compliment.

After reading Courtney Martin's "Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters", it was reiterated to me that so many women, especially in my generation suffer from perfectionistic behaviors. The line gets blurry from the ambitious, go-getter, fierce female, to the woman practically killing herself to be perfect in every way. For me, I let my mean and vicious saboteur voice run my life for a lot of years. And she's a real bitch to me, let me tell ya! But, I truly believe that living a life this way, can be crippling.

So, think about times when you might have had this type of thinking. Perhaps you made assumptions ahead of time about something or someone. Or maybe you avoided something because in your mind if you couldn't do it perfectly, it wasn't worth doing. Just notice it.


  • to initiate or precipitate (a chain of events, scientific reaction, psychological process, etc.)
  • to fire or explode (a gun, missile, etc.) by pulling a trigger or releasing a triggering device
  • to become active; activate

First thing Monday morning I had a session with my coach. I didn’t have a specific topic nailed down, but had about 3 things that were swimming in my head, so I just started talking. Talk, talk, talk about how I want to do this, and I need to decide on this, and I feel lost about that. A few minutes later my coach says, “Wow. Sounds like you’ve been triggered.” 
And Holy Moses, was she right. 
I thought about the last 2 weeks and some things that had happened. Not necessarily monumental events, just little things that planted themselves in my brain, and then the fire started. For me, in this particular instance I’m writing about, is body image. And let me tell ya, when it's body image, it's not just a piddly fire. It's a god damn inferno. 
Week before last I was running in my neighborhoods while pushing both my kids in the stroller. I was feeling amazing, finally feeling better from an injury and so happy to be back doing what I love: running. A car pulled up beside me, slowed down and a women about early to mid-60’s rolled down her window. She smiled and asked me, “How come it’s always the skinny girls that are running?” 
I was speechless (which is rare for me). My first reaction was to stop and launch into an enormous explanation, an angry explosion. Who does she think she is, thinking that I run to be skinny? How dare she assume that being skinny equates happiness and health? And who cares what type of body I have, why does that matter? Is that supposed to be some kind of compliment? And on and on and on. My head spun out of control with assumptions of what she really meant and I can’t imagine what the look on my face was like. However, I said nothing. 
On Saturday I went to a workshop that was held at a beautiful private gym. I went to use the restroom and there it was: The scale. You might be thinking, “Yeah, so what?” But for me, and I think for a lot of people that are in recovery from disordered eating and exercise, seeing that scale was...terrifying, haunting, exciting, curious, frustrating, confusing and triggering. So many thoughts. The angel and devil quickly had an argument: Don’t get on it. It’s not that big of a deal, just step on it. Don’t do it, you haven’t weighed yourself in 9 months! Well, you’ve been exercising again, let’s just see what happened. If you step on it, you might go back there, to that place. Are you that fragile that you can’t handle what it says? Yes, you can, just do it. Prove that it’s not a big deal anymore. 
As I washed my hands I stared at it on the floor in the mirror. And I walked away. 
These two things happened and that’s just it: They happened. In my mind I’ve come to the conclusion that being triggered = BAD. And what happens afterward, or how I handle it (or don’t handle it) determines and defines who I am and where I am in terms of recovery. 
Today, I learned and accepted that I don’t have to go down with the triggers in my life, whether they be about body image, perfectionism, relationships or anything. Sometimes they suck, and sometimes they hurt, but I can choose to look at them as a gift. Sometimes they’re wrapped up in a pretty bow, sometimes they feel like a block of cement, sometimes it's a box of dog shit, but no matter what, they are my gift to myself, and I just need to ask, “What did I learn?” That’s it. They don’t need to mean anything profound all the time. They don’t define me. They don’t grip me. 

So, what did I learn? I learned that backhanded compliments about my body are hard to swallow. Thinking about it further, any comment about my body is hard to swallow. But, I don't need to make assumptions about what that person meant. And I learned that sometimes the scale looks scary. And there's a part of me that's curious about how much I weigh. That's it. I can get so caught up and lost if the "what does it all mean?" and will run on that hampster wheel all damn day. And if I need to cry, I'll cry. And if I don't, I won't. But being triggered doesn't equal anything. 

So, think about what triggers you. Perhaps there are times when you feel so overwhelmed by something, or really wanting to launch into a new project, or control something, anything in your life. Think about the past few weeks or even months and if anything happened, however small that may have triggered you. And just be with it. 

Photo courtesy of Soul Rider

I was attacked today.

Got your attention? Good.

I went to a self defense class this weekend. I've wanted to go for ages but, it was never on my priority list so I never went. I try to be aware of my surroundings, and have always thought that if someone messes with me I'm pretty sure I can hold my own. I mean, I'm in shape. I even have muscles! I've taken kickboxing classes and can throw an uppercut. Doesn't all that Tai-bo count for something?  But, when Chelsea King was raped and murdered in my home town, I knew I had no more excuses.

Let me tell you something. In the real world, my attitude, plus the fact that I can curl a 25 pound dumbell with my bicep isn't going to get me out of a chokehold by a 200 pound man. I had a very humbling experience in the class. The instructor, Tracie Arlington, talked to us about elbows, and how as women, we're told that just throwing an elbow around is defense enough. Then Chad, her assistant asked if anyone wanted to try that technique on him. He had no pads on yet and I thought, "Is he serious? I know I can get at least one strike in with an elbow." In the class of about 25 girls and women no one volunteered. So, I blurt out, "I'll do it!" and met him in the middle of the mat. I mean, c'mon, I'm tough! I'm fiesty! I've got SPIRIT!

I had no idea what was coming (as you really wouldn't, if you were attacked in real life). Chad grabbed me so quickly I have no idea how he got me into a choke hold, but he did. My first thought was how tight he had a hold of my neck, my next thought was the feeling of complete helplessness I had. I threw an elbow to his gut. Nothing. I threw another one. Nothing. I got as much strength as I could muster up and threw a few more. Nothing. At that point, I was exhausted from squirming, being angry and frustrated and from using all my energy to throw feeble elbows.

The point of my story is that learning specific techniques is imperative.  Here are some startling statistics:

  • 83% of rape victims are between the ages of 12 years and 25 years of age.
  • 90% of women assaulted knew their assailant.
  • 25% of college women surveyed are victims of rape or attempted rape.
  • 85% of rapes on campuses are acquaintance/date rapes and most happen in the first three months of college due to Fraternity and Sorority pledging and parties.
  • 90% of all campus rapes involve alcohol.
  • Women who resist are twice as likely to escape injury as others. According to the Women's Self Defense Institute, an analysis of 3,000 actual assaults showed that half of the attackers fled from a woman who was willing to resist! The key, however, is to learn how to effectively resist.
Even though we were in a class setting, where we know essentially we were safe, there is something very real about an actual person sitting on top of you with their hands at your throat, or holding your wrists down. In the back of my mind I thought there was no way I was going to be able to get out of the pinned down position while being choked, but guess what? I did. And now I feel much more confident just out in the world of the "unknown".

Love yourself. Love your life. I say that all the time. It's part of my job to help and empower people to do this. My blog title even proclaims it. Be proactive about your safety. It doesn't matter where you live, just google, "women's self defense" and find a class in your area. You owe it to yourself, your family and your confidence. Do it now and let me know that you did it. 

Statistics from the Play it Safe website.

The Gremlin, The Mannequin and Joan Jett

Warning: Strong language included in this post.

I may have mentioned in my previous posts about what we call in the coaching world as our “saboteur”. AKA "the gremlin". It’s that little (or sometimes not so little) voice in our head that we all have, some more than others. It tells us mean things, negative talk, tells us we can’t do something, that we look stupid, that we’re fat, ugly, etc. Everyone’s is unique. Some people believe theirs more that others. Some people have learned how to squash theirs. But, it’s been my experience, that it never quite goes away and that it evolves, just like we do. It gets smarter, and sneakier too as time goes on.

I’ve started this post a few times, and have never finished or posted about my saboteur. It was a homework assignment from my coach about a year ago; one that I never completed (See, even coaches are bad clients sometimes). I think back then I was afraid to rip the band aid off and show everyone my saboteur. Well, enough hiding, here she is:

My sabotuer is a vicious bitch to me. In my mind she looks like a manequin would, perfect hair, skin, and make up, perfectly thin with no flaws. On display. She is also empty inside. She tells me my world will fall apart at any moment, and to brace myself for it. She wears a smug expression. She tells me I need to be thinner, stronger, younger, in better shape, a better mother, a better wife, a better friend, a better everything. And never, ever, let them see you cry. She used to tell me I'm not good at anything, so why try?



The absolute complete opposite of her, and what in my mind kicks her ass is my alter ego: Joan Jett. She doesn’t give a shit about what anyone thinks of her, doesn’t give a damn about her bad reputation, is exactly who she is and certainly makes no apologies for it. She is a serious ass-kickin' rocker.


In many ways I'm a lot like her, but my gremlin says, "That's not pretty, not lady-like, it's too loud and-your-reputation-IS-so-important-if-it-were-flawed-WE-WOULD-DIE!!!"

Metaphorically speaking, the mean-bitch mannequin lady and Joan Jett have roller derby races. They race, they bump into each other, tell each other to fuck off, sometimes they crash and get it into a knock down cat fight. They go around and around the track, going nowhere.

Do you think I'm totally crazy yet? Okay, good.

But, sometimes they slow down and skate together quietly. Because I am not either of them. I am not perfect at parenting, working out, or anything for that matter. And I don't need to be hard-as-nails tough like Joan Jett either. I can be in the middle. In the grey. My gremlin, the mannequin lady is addicted to suffering. No matter how pretty she presents herself to me, no matter how convincing she is, I still need to remember SHE IS NOT ALLOWED TO LIVE MY LIFE. So, I take my skates back.

And skate away from her to take control of my own life.

So, who is your gremlin, your saboteur? What does he/she say to you? How do you decipher between that voice and your true voice, your true being?