And typically July for me has always had a theme of freedom.
And as I explore that whole topic of freedom. It feels like it falls into several layers.
There’s the actual reflection on what it is that I want to be liberated from.
Then there’s the action or allowing, of the liberation, of the letting go.
Freedom feels like the final state. It’s the result of having reflected, having let go and now basking in this new state of freedom.
So let’s start with a question, or contemplation, about where are we? What are we holding on to that it might be time to let go of? And if you’re like me, it takes me a while, I have to ponder that thought for a day or two. In my case, it’s been the last two or three days of what runs me. What am I allowing to have control over my life?
And there are several feelings, thoughts, patterns, and stories in my head. I’ll play some suggestions out for you and see if they might help you with your self-reflection.
I was running for a long time the story of money and scarcity. “I’m not secure without financial freedom, without the constant struggling and striving to make ends meet.” So my old story was that I had to constantly struggle, juggle, worry about money.
Then it became: “Take good care of money. Be a good steward and invest it well. Place it or spend it in ways that I feel represent my values.”
It’s been a long time coming.
First, it was wrapped up in gender stuff, and that women need to be dependent and reliant on someone else to take care of them. All kinds of things have been unraveling around that for decades for me.
And finally, I can say that money is not something that runs me. AND, I know for several of my friends and acquaintances, it’s still at the forefront in their lives.
Another one that still has a hold on me in some ways is TIME.
I feel like I’m in a race for time; meeting deadlines, filling the calendar, or noticing the empty calendar and wondering how to spend my time creating and generating income and new clients. What does all that look like? Am I spending enough time taking care of me? Taking care of others? Nurturing my relationships? I look at how I spend my time as it’s my most important commodity.
Maybe the pandemic times have brought about the concerns of our mortality, or not having enough Life Force. And, the importance of Breath.
What will happen to us as the pandemic continues? What will our lives be like? What will Time be like? How will I spend it? How will I invest in the use of this commodity in a way that brings me the most joy and be of the most service to the collective?
So Time is still something I’m playing with, that I don’t feel fully liberated from.
Others are old stories of not being “enough” (what is that anyway?), not having enough support, not being loved enough, not being worthy of love, all kinds of good things like that. Little by little, they’ve been chipped away by choices I’ve made, by risks I’ve taken, by moving forward in one area or another, despite the stories. Proving to myself that they really are not the Truth.
The power of many of those old stories and patterns has diminished and faded.
So what is your self-reflection about what still has a hold on you? Still creates fear or anxiety or reactive ways that are keeping you small… keeping you stuck?
Because that is NOT freedom.
What we want to do this month is look at this reflection of what it is that has a constriction on us. Anything that keeps us from Breathing or holds us back.
And then, with gentle, loving, self-compassionate, and from a safe self-observation place, allowing them to loosen their grip on us … and to Feel.
Opening to the liberation of Life. On the other side. The Life where these do not strangle us from our truth, from our value, from our dignity.
To our safety. Towards our sovereignty. That, to me, is Freedom.
How do you define Freedom? (let me know, I’m curious!)
I believe it has to do with a state that is felt after liberation. And a remembering that we are all Sovereign Beings.
Liberation from fears, tendencies, patterns, structures, and belief systems that no longer serve.
Sovereignty, for me, is a feeling that I try to re-member, embody, and KNOW deeply. It is the human right of us all to be sovereign. We are “at choice”, personally responsible, and valuable. In the Centering practices I teach, Dignity is embodied when we stand fully in our physical and divine Selves. Sovereignty also reminds us that we have the right to B R E A T H E. (and who do we think we are when we withhold another’s oxygen?)
And, getting back to Freedom, it has a price.
To let go of old patterns, reactive tendencies, and learned ways of being, we must go through some type of release, rejuvenation, renewal. It’s as if we had created vows to remain small, silent, people-pleasing, and high-achieving (stating mine here) so that we were seen, valued, and loved. Those vows are deeply buried in our emotional body and need to be uprooted, loved, and held with compassion…for once they served us, and we’ve now outgrown them.
The price of Freedom comes in this internal self-reflection ( a centering practice around this process can be found here) and the pain or discomfort of moving into new territory of an expanded Self and open heart.
The price of Freedom also may look like letting go of old relationships, old clothes, old jobs, old comfort zones. And this is difficult for most of us. We’ve created a circle of support that has helped keep us in these old ways of Being. And, will they want to support our new behaviors? Our new way of speaking up, speaking out, standing tall?
Some may leave. It’s a difficult reminder to them that change is coming and happening all around. And, that hurts.
Another price of Freedom is by standing up for ourselves and what we believe, we may not fit in with certain institutions, communities, or circles. I felt this strongly in my old gated neighborhood, where neighbors didn’t like my wild gardens, my disdain for chemicals on my lawn, and my proud support of public education and liberal politicians.
Ahhh, so after hearing enough of what I wasn’t doing to “fit in” with these folks, a perfect house came available 2 miles away that was as unique and eclectic as mySelf! And, this brought about the wrath of people, even my ex-husband, who didn’t like my choice.
So, Freedom, is it worth it? The liberating of Self from old ways, old clothes, and old patterns?
I say, unequivocally, YES!
The simple 2 swaths of a pair of scissors across a ponytail, on the top of my head, liberated me from several inches of hair…and the new-found saucy bob has brought another joy, and fun, and a new look to boot!
One of the ways that we can integrate our rational and intuitive sides, or our spiritual and physical sides, or whatever duality that we play in, is to recognize each for their gifts and their shadows.
Actually I think we dwell in more of a quadrality. I believe that we have distinct heart, soul, mind, and body versions of ourselves, as well as many personalities of different ages, or versions of selves brought out during different situations and people. The uniqueness of who we are, the truth of who I am at least, tends to show up when I’m stressed, tired, or emotional.
This last month has been tough, we’ve not only had worldwide pandemic, but we’ve also had change. We’re seeing change. Finally. And lots of ways of Being are shifting, becoming more open, more visible.
Some changes that we’re seeing is around the way law enforcement (and our world as a whole) treats people of color.
Racism is getting the national stage and has a voice in the Black Lives Matter movement. And, the world is listening. It’s become a mainstream theme, and no longer can we ignore the history of how white people have systemically used racism to better themselves. So, we are seeing long-established beliefs and systems beginning to change, evolve, involve everyone to create new solutions that benefit the entire community.
Along the lines of change, and on a personal note, I have just come off of two weeks of being with family during my mother’s hospice and passing. The time with her those final days was beautiful and peaceful, especially towards the end. AND there’s all the family dynamics.
Our family is diverse in that we have almost every skin tone, belief system, and political view represented. And noticing who I feel comfortable with, and who I retreat from, which conversations attract me and which ones feel so uncomfortable I want to leave, and all the spaces in between. All were ‘growth-full’ for me.
The other thing I noticed is that this time, unlike in the past, I avoided managing intellectually, controlling, running the show. I pushed through my typical role as Big Sister and took a backseat. This allowed my sister to step up, and my middle brother to take on the logistics while staying calm and sane. Everybody has their own way of grieving, I realize now, and there’s no right or wrong. Allowing everyone, including myself, to be: absent, involved, avoiding emotion, feeling deep emotions, it was all acceptable to me.
What I’m noticing is I’m allowing myself to really FEEL it this time. The heaviness, discomfort, and roller coaster of grief is sitting with me, riding through me, knocking me down with wild waves, and then holding me aloft in a swell. And I’m not trying to pray it away or force it away, but BE with it.
Also noticing that when I most need my practices; my physical practices, my spiritual practices, and my emotional practices, I haven’t been drawing upon them. I know they would provide a larger bank of Resilience and firm grounding to support me and all my different levels of awareness.
Yet I’m aware that although these deeply held and true support systems that I have built throughout the years were tossed aside, and I threw myself into the storm in the waters, without any safety net or lifeboat.
I really left it all behind!
As I pack up to head out to our little river place, I realize I wouldn’t leave to go on a hike or camping trip without necessities like food and water…so why would I do that to myself, emotionally, and spiritually, throw myself out there without any of my backpack-full of tools and goodies?
What I appreciate now is my awareness of how I abandon myself.
And how I don’t always take advantage of the systems that are in place for me.
The beautiful practices, and awareness, and music, and all of the things that soothe me. I’ve gotten much better at accepting love and care and affection from others. That’s a big one, as opposed to pushing them away and pretending like I didn’t need that. And where I want to go back to is getting my journals out. Putting the music on tap, so at any time I can just bask in it.
And remembering to go sit outside, I did do a lot of that in the last week. Just go sit outside and look at the sky and appreciate the breeze whether it was hot and humid, or cooler, and we’ve had everything in the last week ( it’s been a very interesting week, hasn’t it?). So, noticing, I can take advantage of just looking at nature and remembering. Oh, where am I feeding me? Where am I not feeding me? Where am I starving me? What nutrition is important for me? And getting back on track with those support systems, those structures that allow me to access my strength, my power, my creativity, and capacity to be with all of this.
This is when I’m not easily knocked off of center by others in my family or outside of my family or in the news.
And also, allow me to soothe, and be with, and hold, all of the pain and the grief. All the beauty and the joy that life is.
Here’s to expanding and opening and softening at the same time as holding the structure and the practices, the routines, and the rituals that support me, and you, and all of us.
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Full circle. A spiral, really.
The heroine’s journey is back INto herself. The foundation of confidence, presence, and wisdom as a Feminine Leader is Self-Awareness.
self-a·ware·ness (a definition)
1. conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires: “the process can be painful but it leads to greater self-awareness”
Lots of airtime around this topic these days, yet it’s not common to meet those who model it with Integrity and Courage.
Self-Awareness is not only knowing, but owning, our Strengths, Talents, Wisdom, and, what makes us uniquely Brilliant…
It is masterfully knowing the areas of our Shadows. The bad, good and ugly parts. Our reactive tendencies and patterns that hold us back, keep us quiet, or self-sabotage.
And once identifying them, allowing them (and the fullness of Self) to be seen, heard, embraced, loved.
The reasons why this is so rarely seen in our leadership is exactly why we ache and yearn for it. It’s why we identify, trust and connect with those who show up with courageous vulnerability.
The Volatility, Uncertainty, Constantly Changing and Ambiguity of these times are asking for us to step forward in this way.
Yes, it’s calling us into our own Heroine’s Journey.
Full Circle, dear one.
Back to where we came from and forward into the unknown.
Fighting our inner demons and dragons and feeling our power growing as we continue to heal and let the old patterns fall away.
It’s time, Sister. Let’s keep taking steps, together.
Read the transcript.
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Is religion at the foundation of Values and Integrity? Can you be a values-based Leader and be nonreligious? Listen in to my musings and experiences with this emotional and contentious subject. As always, I welcome your questions, comments and views. AND, I ask that you share with compassion and respect.
Read the transcript here: https://deborahleeann.com/integrity_values_religion_transcription/
Authentic Leadership Academy and Consulting
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Thanks, I’ve got this.
No really, I do!
You see, what YOU think of ME, is none of my business.
I read that book. About 40 years ago, in fact. Here’s a link, if you’re curious.
It had a profound effect on me then, and it still does.
Yet, I forget. I worry about what to write and how to write it and how to show up in what clothes and what people think and the feedback I get (even if it is good!)
How can we get OVER ourselves? Follow our own guidance and trust when it’s time to ask for guidance from others. There is a huge difference.
I’d like to tell you a story about how other’s were concerned about me 10 years ago and how I switched it back and took back my power – and it was magical!
I was divorced, running out of money and networking all over town to find the perfect job that would utilize my talents, give me the flexibility to be Mom to my middle-school-aged daughters and pay me enough for my household expenses as I was not receiving child support.
A dear friend and my mother both shared with me they were concerned (afraid, actually) for me and worried about when I was going to find a job. I assured them both, calmly and assertively, that I wanted only their confidence in me and to imagine me happily working and paying my bills. They both agreed and within the next month or so, not one but TWO contracts for my consulting work were signed!
So, let’s get back IN-to our own self, stop minding others’ business and ask politely that they not get into ours unless invited.
©2018 https://deborahleeann.com Authentic Leadership Academy & Consulting