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Owning Your Authority

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On sacred socks, and bursting baskets. (Or, honouring what we say matters most.)

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The other morning, I woke up from a sweet sleep and had something I needed to write down.

Maybe it was for you.

Maybe it was for me.

But I’m pretty sure it was for all of us.

I’m standing in a house I don’t recognize, talking to a woman I don’t know.

In her arms she holds a wicker basket of clothes. The basket is overflowing with clean laundry.

She’s struggling to keep the basket level, but even as I ask her if she’d like me to share the load or suggest that she set it down, she shrugs me off and instead asks me what I do for work.

 

I say succinctly, "I help people find the parts of themselves that they have dropped along the way. The parts that, when reintegrated, make them whole."

"Oh," she says, "That sounds good and important. Sacred work."

"It is," I agree earnestly, "And I am so deeply honoured to get to do it."

I notice that she has dropped a pair of socks.

I bend down to pick them up. "Here you go," I say.

"Oh, thank you. Those are my favourite socks. They were given to me by my beloved great-aunt, may she rest in peace. Feel how soft they are. Cashmere. They are my luckiest ones and make me so happy when I wear them. I honestly can’t live without them."

I reach over to add them back to her basket, but they slip off again.

"Can you hold them for me?" she asks, "I just can’t seem to keep them in my basket."

"Sure," I say.

We chat for a while longer. Me holding her socks. She holding her basket of clean clothes. I see generic white tube socks poking out. Tube socks that aren’t tied to her ancestry. That don't bring her luck. That aren’t part of her soul. They may be functional, yes. But they are not essential to her joy.

And then I have another thought.

"Honey?" I say. (By now we're close enough for me to call her "honey".) "I’m pretty good at holding these socks. Haven’t dropped ‘em once. But here’s what I’m wondering: wouldn’t it be better if you held onto them? You love them so. Maybe you could put the basket down, reorganize, take some stuff out, and make some room for what you say is important."

"That’s a good idea," she says.

And that’s when I woke up.

I woke up to the fact that those socks are your writing. Your calling. The parts of your soul that want attention.

The things you want to claim that you know are deeply important to you. That you say are deeply important to you. The things that no one else has any business holding on your behalf.

We know, of course, that the holiness isn’t in the tube socks. The holiness isn’t even in what you say you want. The holiness is in owning up to what you say you know and want and doing right by it. In claiming it.

And that’s our job as visionaries, change-makers, and leaders.

Your job. My job.

To honour the things we say we want. The things we say are important.

We visionaries, change-makers, and leaders do not allow our gifts to slip through our fingers into the waiting hands of others who could not, should not hold that which is intended for us and us alone.

Put the basket down, honey. Make the space. And tend to the socks.

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PS – Deep bow of thanks to my soul-sister, the visionary Amy Palko for helping me process this dream.

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Anne Lamott and the Impostor Complex

There she was in her dreadlocked glory. The truth-telling trobairitz from San Francisco, pissed off at the customs border lineup here in Toronto. (She called it the “punishment line”.)

Riffing with her signature reverence to (and irreverence about) faith, creativity, grace and surrender, Justin Trudeau, what Jesus would think of duct tape (spoiler: she thinks he’d dig it), and doing your anger, doing your grief and doing your life. It was an evening honouring Henri Nouwen, beloved theologian, and writer of deeply respected texts. Namer of the "God-shaped hole" and "twilight of your soul".

She was fabulous. Of course.

She’s Anne Lamott. A name synonymous with fabulous. But what makes her so fabulous? Her unflinching ability to stand in her authority.

Even as she called herself out for feeling like an impostor on occasion. Talking spirituality under the soft and kindly gaze of Nouwen's projected images. With nuns in the audience. Lots of them. She noted that ALL creatives feel like impostors from time to time. Well, you KNOW I couldn’t agree more. Creatives and parents and spiritual teachers and students and leaders and and and.

But you know what else I heard her say?

That she has made peace with her Impostor Complex. Not that she has surrendered to it, nor has her 62 years on the planet made her magically impervious to its sting.

No. I heard that she, whether consciously or not, uses the three strategies I speak to all the time when it comes to dealing with the Impostor Complex. The three strategies that EVERYBODYtalks about when it comes to dealing with the Impostor Complex, whether consciously or not.

It's like this. Overcoming the Impostor Complex starts with breaking it down into its three essential elements.

1) Our Impostor Complex tries to set us up for failure – meaning that its goal is to keep us out of action.

Solution:

Meet the critics head on. External AND internal.

We see Anne doing this all the time. On social media. In her writing. She speaks to her process. Her insecurities. She names her pain and opportunities for growth. And finds out what her critics are here to teach her. This is deeply wise.

2) Our Impostor Complex has us question and doubt our capacity.

Solution:

Show yourself what you CAN do. (You have done so so much.) Bolster your authority thesis. Track your wins. What have you delivered, sold, created, survived, healed, won, finished, saved, fixed?Believe you're a badass.

She is clear about what she has done. She is clear about the places in which she is masterful. She is confident in her authority. Sure, the critics may get her down. She is Anne Lamott, after all. (And YOU…are YOU. Blessed be.)

3) The Impostor Complex likes to keep us alone and isolated. Like no one else could relate to us and our fears and worries.

Solution:

Get social. Assemble your cast. Plant the seed and watch your people show up.

There they were, in the front row. Her people. Cheering her on. The same people she told us that “prayed on” her when she was in a puddle of tears in the customs line. She told us what I tell you: Ask for help. And ask again. Your people WANT you to succeed.

Overly simple in theory, perhaps. But oh so worth it to do the work. Bottom line is this: if Anne can do it, if I can do it, and if SHE can do it, then I promise, you can too.


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I'm Gonna Go Ahead and Skip the Middle Part

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I'm Gonna Go Ahead and Skip the Middle Part

Respect your uniqueness and drop comparison. Relax into your being. – Osho

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It’s probably true. I’m wanting to reinvigorate my yoga practice, so when I had the chance this morning, I probably should have done the WHOLE yoga practice.

That would have been impeccable of me.

But my mind was restless and my heart was only half in it and my lungs had checked out and my body was bored and asking for more. Much more.

It wanted to shake and flail and release and stomp and pound and that’s how I ended up dancing (more like flailing clumsily) for 30 minutes, starting with Spirit of the West’s "Home for a Rest." (A mainstay of all Canadian wedding receptions everywhere. Turns the dance floor into a raving mob of high-stepping lunatics. Guaranteed.)

So I should have deepened my commitment to my practice and I should have worked on my arm balances and I should be well-deep into savasana by now.

But I didn’t. And I’m sweaty. Like... really sweaty.


Over the past ten years that I’ve been doing this work in the online space, I’ve been thanked for being approachable. Accessible. A model of grace in imperfection. I deeply appreciate the gifts of every last acknowledgment.

But I’m not gonna lie: every time I get thanked for the last bit, a part of me bristles.

The part that wants to be perfect. Impeccable, even. Committed to her yoga practice. Shiny-haired. Polished.

The part that still believes after all this time that those things matter.

Because that’s how the patriarchal system has worked, you see. For thousands of years. (Being the best mother, friend, sister, daughter, wife, careerist, etc. whilst looking impeccable wins all. With extra points for glowing, not sweating.)

And every time I bristle, I am surprised. Of COURSE I am. I know the system’s bullshit. You know it's bullshit.

And then I have to go through a process of all my own tools, including the one where I forgive myself for wanting to be impeccable.

It’s exhausting. And, frankly, just like my wise, wise body was bored of my yoga practice, I’m bored of it.

I spend a lot of time talking about the Impostor Complex. Because what’s happening is that people discount their gifts, attribute their successes to outside influences, and internalize their failures as proof of their incompetence. Fear of being found out means they stop short. They opt out of situations and opportunities that would have them living up to and into their potential.

Yeah. Painful.

But the other part of the story, of course, is that when we CHOOSE to don the mask (consciously or otherwise), then we ARE acting out of integrity. We ARE showing up as frauds. Because, well, we’re not showing up as we really are.

Here’s at least two things that DO.NOT.WORK:

“Be the person your client wants to buy from.” and live in fear that they’ll find out you’re a fraud and the trappings are a façade.

“Fake it ‘til you make it.” this may get you out of the house (a good start, to be sure), but it doesn’t get you off the hook of being your self.


So I’m gonna go ahead and skip the middle part where I continue to half-heartedly don the weighty mask of perfection only to discover (once again) that it doesn’t fit, if it ever did.

And go straight to the place where I can do my best work. Unencumbered by expectations of what is or isn’t perfect and reveling in the appreciation for the many, many gifts I have been given. Rooting into proof-positive about what IS true about my skills, talents, and capacity. And activating from there.

(Flailing clumsily as the case may be. Which is its own special kind of impeccability.)

Because the systemic issues that have contributed to the creation of this phenomenon boggle the mind in their vastness.

We will need our hands free from holding up ill-fitting masks so they can tear down the system. Brick by gilded brick.

Skip the middle part with me, will you?

 


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The same old song: Our jobs as creators and fans.

If you’re a creator (and you are), your responsibility rests in finding your own edges. In staying open to the gifts that you will receive from the unimaginable source. In giving yourself wings - big flappy wing of expansion, and plenty of room. Taking off requires that. If you’re a fan (and you are), your responsibility rests in celebrating what you have appreciates about the artists’ work and to allow them their own space to evolve. It’s true, they may evolve beyond us and fly off to new places we don’t care to visit. It’s a risk we all must take together. It’s called progress.

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It’s an illusion that you're in this all on your own.

You know the lesson that you are here to teach? The one you keep learning, relearning and learning once more?

“We teach best what we most need to learn.” – Richard Bach

That lesson, for me, is:: “It’s an illusion that you're in this all on your own.” Time and time again, I hear myself say it to my clients. It showed up in this Cue Card last April.

It’s an illusion that you’re in this all on your own

And here. And here. And here.

In fact, it’s the very premise of my Board of Your Life offering.

Because IT’S TRUE. Just about everything I have ever, EVER created was made better or smarter, more easily, more pleasurably, more joyfully when I’ve done it in community. When I haven’t tried to muddle through on my own. When I’ve sought counsel. When I’ve invited support. When I GOT OVER the fact that it didn’t make me seem weak or less independent or LESS THAN because I wanted help holding all that I was trying to create. We all do.

I am surrounded by a stunning flock, to be sure. But it wasn’t something that just happened because I got lucky (though I am indeed, very very lucky). I’ve cultivated relationships. I’ve tended and tendered. I've helped and I've asked for help.

So when it came time to getting the word about the Step into Your Starring Role program in a wider and broader way, I knew that I would be required to ask for help again. And, I resisted. Because, once again, I bought into the illusion that I'm in this on my own.

Why? For all the same reasons my clients resist, my colleagues resist, YOU resist.

1) We don’t want to be a burden. 2) We are fiercely independent.

Let's unpack that.

We don’t want to be a burden.

Of COURSE we don’t want to be a burden. Nobody wants to be a burden. But when you make an ask of someone, ensuring that it is reasonable, specific, brief, respectful and CLEAR (oh please, let it be clear), then it rests in the hands of the person you’ve asked. They can say yes, if the ask aligns with their time, energy, interest, ability and capacity and they can say no if it doesn’t.

Remember though, that if you’re asking for something that is close to your heart and meaningful, then you’re asking someone who knows that to be true and wants it for you as well. Deeply. In fact, if you’re swinging out with your magnificence in any way, I know that they are thrilled for you. Because it’s an illusion that you are keeping all of that brilliance to yourself.

Others want to play a part. (If their time, energy, interest, ability and capacity allows).

Need a reminder? Just think back to any time someone you deeply cared for needed your help. Did you consider them a burden? Unlikely. You probably discerned if and how you were able to support them, and accordingly said yes, no or made a counter-offer.

You ask, and they answer. It’s a beautiful thing.

We are fiercely independent

Like the toddler who discovers he can stack his blocks all.by.himself, we want to feel free of anyone else’s control. We want to make our own decisions. We don’t want to be beholden.

I came across this yesterday::

"thing is... you need enough ego to act when everyone else says it's impossible, and enough humility to know that once you've made it happen, it wasn't about you." - Jonathan Fields 

It’s rarely ever about you. That’s a sort of good news/bad news thing. Forces beyond you, WELL beyond you, are at play. You’ve felt it every time you’ve been lifted by an unseen hand. Angels. Devas. Luck. Stars. Serendipity. Whether you’ve named it or not, you have had those moments when you’ve felt that the universe in conspiring WITH you. It’s called pronoia and it’s the opposite of paranoia. And it’s heeding the call of your ego…which is very very good (in spite of the bad rap the “ego” gets.)

So yeah, it’s an illusion that you're in this all on your own. Because you’re NEVER all on your own.

May as well lean back into the glorious people in your life who want to see you thrive.

Which is what I did.

When there were aspects of the program launch that I didn’t want to do, or scared me, I asked for help. When I needed help spreading word wide and far about the program, I asked.

The support has been swift, stunning and humbling and so very appreciated with much, MUCH more coming over the next two weeks. There have been tweets, likes, shares. Every last one sweet like a kiss.

And these gifts of heart:

Erin, Amy and Tania let me share their Step into Your Starring Role experience.

Tara Gentile took the lead in conceptualizing and creating the stunning sales page and has been a steadfast partner, friend and collaborator, for whom I am deeply grateful.

Jen Louden and I had a fabulous conversation about the impostor complex and the pain of waiting.

Lauren Bacon wrote a post heralding this program and my work with the impostor complex that brought tears to my eyes (and included one of the most heartfelt disclosures about affiliate partnerships that I’ve seen.)

Chris Francoeur (brilliant coach, former participant, and I’m excited to share, the ASSISTANT for the program) spoke of the life-changing and EXPANSIVE impact of the program.

Ronna Detrick and I spoke about the spotlight, shining and what the soul wants.  So good.

Erin Giles reminds you about the game-changing work you're up to in the world. And how Step into Your Starring Role helped her with hers.

Jackie Dumaine and I spoke about asteya and how NOT stepping into your starring role is actually a form of stealing as part of her Yoga Code Free Virtual Conference (our conversation is live TODAY).

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And TOMORROW, brilliant light Annika Martins and I are doing a live call about Stepping Into Your Spiritual Authority. Being the star of your spiritual life - the queen of the castle of your heart. If you've been hiding or minimizing your spiritual beliefs (WHATEVER they may be) in order to make other people feel comfortable or to avoid judgement, this call is for you. Click HERE to sign up. 

 

Yeah. It’s an illusion that I have to go this alone. It’s an illusion that YOU have to go this alone. (Tweet)

So…just ask. You’ll just may find the road traveled will better, smarter, easier, more pleasurable and far, FAR more joyful. In fact, you may even find yourself utterly blown away by the number of people who really want to see YOU step into your starring role.

* - I am giving participants of the Step into Your Starring Role program a copy of Board of Your Life (value $150). Bonus!! I'm also offering an additional coaching gift for people who sign up for the program tonight (March 18th) before midnight. Email us to find out what it is (hint:: $400 value).

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