So I received one of those emails today that you’re supposed to pass around to at least 8 other people–you know–the infamous chain emails (to replace the old fashioned chain letters). Interesting thing is, when I read it, I wanted to pass it along. Read it and you’ll understand why:

A beautiful Message of Friendship
Please sit at my table…

There comes a time in your life when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Forget the bad, and focus on the good. Love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don’t. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of life; getting back up is living.

I’m supposed to pick 8 women who have touched my life and who I think might participate. Please send this back to me. Remember to just read the quotation. That’s all you have to do. There is nothing attached. Just send this to women you would like to sit at your table and let me know what happens on the 4th day. Thank you!!

Quote: “Today may there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us”.

Consider it passed along to a swell bunch of SWOGs and SMOGs.


I get the Harvard Business Review. I find the articles and research to be particularly helpful working in the kind of job I do. I also recently signed up for their blog and have come to value the daily emails I get with links to relevant articles.

I know the folks that follow my blog have often weighed in on my posts about the issues women face in the workplace. In fact, those posts generally attract the most comments since most of you can relate to the issues surfaced in those discussions.

Well, today there was a particularly interesting post in the HBR blog, and I had to forward it along to my followers. I’m hoping you enjoy it as much as I did. Let me hear from you if you have reactions!

Harvard Business Review Women Leaders


We’ve been reading Brene Brown who is teaching us about the perils of perfectionism and the wonders of leading a life filled with courage, compassion, and connection.  As she was researching “shame” she found many examples of people leading a life filled with those three “C’s.”  She calls their approach to life, “Wholeheartedness, and she found that people who were living from a place of “Wholeheartedness” had a lot in common regarding imperfections.

First, they spoke about their imperfections in a tender and honest way, and without shame and fear.  Second, they were slow to judge themselves and others.  They appeared to operate from a place of “We’re all doing the best we can.”  Their courage, compassion, and connection seemed rooted in the way they treated themselves.

Speak about our imperfections in a tender and honest way without shame and fear–eh?  Slow to judge themselves and others–hmmm.  Sound familiar–“Be impeccable with our word,” (Ruiz).  “Fear not,” (Bible). “Reframe those pesky, negative thoughts,” (that’s mine).

In the second half of life, we do not have strong and final opinions about everything, every event, or most people, as much as we allow things and people to delight us, sadden us, and truly influence us.  Ironically, we are more than ever before in a position to change people–but we do not need to–and that makes all the difference.  We do what we are called to do, and then try to let go of the consequences.  We usually cannot do that very well when we are young.

It always deeply saddens me when old folks are still full of themselves and their absolute opinions about everything.  We need their peace more than their anger.  ~Richard Rohr, Falling Upward

I have recently noticed that the people I admire the most are the ones who can self-deprecatingly speak about their life, their foibles, their imperfections–and I run away from people who have a need to tell you all about their accomplishments, their accumulated wealth and possessions and their exotic vacations.  I can still remember the elderly gentlemen that won our Chamber’s “Exemplar” award for his contributions to our community.  He said to me, “It’s the darnedest thing–now I have to aspire to live up to this!”  His humility–his grace–was endearing.

Being in a profession where I come into contact with a lot of people, I am most impressed by those who don’t feel a need to give me their full resume when we speak, but rather those who can weave the fabric of the lessons they’ve learned into the stories they tell about their experiences.  I walk away in admiration of the latter and run away in haste from the former.  I find myself wondering how many people have run away or wanted to when I felt a need to pontificate on accomplishments.  Hmmm.

I think this “work” of overcoming perfectionism is a key for many of us to transcend into a more peace-filled, graceful way of living.  “We need peace more than we need anger.”  Amen!

 

 

 

 


We’ve been exploring “perfectionism” and how it gets in the way of living “wholeheartedly” and becoming true strong women of grace.

Brene Brown, author of The Gifts of Imperfection, explores perfectionism and how we move beyond it.  In her book Brown discusses how we can overcome perfectionism:

We need to be able to acknowledge our vulnerabilities to the universal experiences of shame, judgment, and blame; develop shame resilience; and practice self-compassion.  When we become more loving and compassionate with ourselves and we begin to practice shame resilience, we can embrace our imperfections.  It is in the process of embracing our imperfections that we find our truest gifts:  courage, compassion and connection.

When she did all this research she came to a realization of the difference between perfectionism and healthy achieving.  She states, “exploring our fears and changing our self-talk are two critical steps in overcoming perfectionism.”  She goes on to give the following example:

Like most women, I struggle with body image, self-confidence, and the always-complicated relationship between food and emotions.  Here’s the difference between perfectionism diets and healthy goals:

Perfectionism self-talk:  “Ugh.  Nothing fits.  I’m fat and ugly.  I’m ashamed of how I look.  I need to be different than I am right now to be worthy of love and belonging.”

Healthy-striving self-talk:  “I want this for me, I want to feel better and be healthier.  The scale doesn’t dictate if I’m loved and accepted.  If I believe that I’m worthy of love and respect now, I will invite courage, compassion, and connection into my life.  I want to figure this out for me.  I can do this.”

In the process of doing some research for this post I stumbled onto a blog authored by Darryle Pollack, a breast cancer survivor who explains the reason she writes the blog:

After becoming a writer, artist, TV journalist, mother and breast cancer survivor—-I realize nothing turns out the way we expect.  So I blog about handling the big and little things — with humor, humanity, and hope.

I LOVE her blog!  I would encourage my readers to take a look at it and you can find it at the following link:  Darryle Pollack’s BLOG

Read this post and see how it fits in with this theme of perfectionism:

Sure, there’s truth in advertising. Like, that dress you saw on Giselle in Vogue? Isn’t going to look like that on your body. And that ad for make up featuring the Face of Lancome? Isn’t going to make your skin glow like Julia Roberts.

Well, now it turns out that without Photoshop, even Julia Roberts doesn’t look like Julia Roberts. That’s the takeaway from the recent news that a Lancôme ad featuring Julia Roberts and a Maybelline ad featuring Christy Turlington were banned in England for being overly airbrushed.

Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority decided that they “breached the advertising standards code for exaggeration and being misleading.”

The panel investigated the ads after being alerted by Jo Swinson, a member of Parliament who’s on a crusade to stop advertisers from using manipulated photographs.

“We should have some honesty in advertising and that’s exactly what the ASA is there to do. There’s a problem out there with body image and confidence. The way excessive retouching has become pervasive in our society is contributing to that problem.”

“Pictures of flawless skin and super-slim bodies are all around, but they don’t reflect reality,” said Swinson. “Excessive airbrushing and digital manipulation techniques have become the norm, but both Christy Turlington and Julia Roberts are naturally beautiful women who don’t need retouching to look great. This ban sends a powerful message to advertisers – let’s get back to reality.””

Here’s some interesting reality: L’Oreal refused to show investigators the photographs of Julia Roberts before “airbrushing” —indicating that the flawless skin she has in the ad is unattainable beauty even for Julia Roberts. (I’ll remain a big fan of hers no matter what.)

If banning ads seems extreme, equally extreme are the lengths women and girls are going to in order to reach the standards of beauty pictured in the ads. Girls are on diets before they can read; eating disorders are epidemic; plastic surgeons are busier than plumbers.

 

 

WHAT ARE WE DOING TO OURSELVES????!!!!

 

Pardon the vernacular but our self-talk sucks!  And comparing ourselves to perfection that doesn’t even exist?!  This has got to stop!

More on this in upcoming posts….

 


OK, here’s the second installment in the “Perfectionism Series.”

Brene Brown writes the definition of perfectionism (and this is her “most requested” definition on her blog):

Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought:  If I look perfect, live perfectly, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.

Perfectionism is self-destructive simply because there is no such thing as perfect.  Perfection is an unattainable goal.  Additionally, perfectionism is more about perception–we want to be perceived as perfect.  Again, this is unattainable–there is no way to control perception, regardless of how much time and energy we spend trying (sounds like Don Miguel Ruiz’s “Don’t Take Anything Personally” because we can’t control what others think–what “agreements” they have in their minds)

Perfectionism is addictive because when we invariably do experience shame, judgment, and blame, we often believe it’s because we weren’t perfect enough.  So rather than questioning the faulty logic of perfectionism, we become even more entrenched in our quest to live, look, and do everything just right.

Feeling shamed, judged, and blamed (and the fear of these feelings) are realities of the human experience.  Perfectionism actually increases the odds that we’ll experience these painful emotions and often leads to self-blame:  It’s my fault.  I’m feeling this way because “I’m not good enough.”

How much time have I spent in the clutches of perfectionism?  Trying to please others and taking it personally when I “assume” I haven’t by perceiving their reaction to me.  I fight to set appropriate boundaries because I’m trying to help and please everyone else only to end up absolutely exhausted and not able to help anyone.  I know I’m not alone.   How do we transcend this?  I guess I need to keep reading….


I’m devouring this book my friend Deb recommended that I mentioned in an earlier post:  The Gifts of Imperfection:  Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.  I’m not quite halfway through and already I’m resonating with so many concepts she’s discussing.  But, I would be willing to bet most of the women who read this blog would!  🙂

Anyway, I’m in the chapter called “Cultivating Self-Compassion” and the opening quote says:

The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.     ~Anna Quindlen

The author of this book, Brene Brown, has worked for years as a researcher at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work.  Her first seven years of her decade-long research journey focused on the universal experiences of shame and fear and how they affect us and keep us from living joyful lives.  Ms. Brown also blogs and she had a blogger once ask her, “Shame and perfectionism aren’t related, are they?”  Between the opening quote and the question the blogger posed, Brown launches into a dissection of perfectionism and it really hits home.  Here are some of her points:

Where perfectionism exists, shame is always lurking.  In fact, shame is the birthplace of perfectionism.

When we don’t claim shame, it claims us.  And one of the ways it sneaks into our lives is through perfectionism.

As a recovering perfectionist and an aspiring good-enoughist (I love that phrase), I’ve found it extremely helpful to bust some of the myths about perfectionism so we can…accurately capture what it does to our lives

Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best.  Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth.  Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame.  Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from taking flight.

Perfectionism is not self-improvement.  Perfectionism is, at its core, about trying to earn approval and acceptance.  Most perfectionists were raised being praised for achievement and performance (grades, manners, rule-following, people-pleasing, appearance, sports).  Somewhere along the way, we adopt this dangerous and debilitating belief system:  I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it.  Please.  Perform.  Perfect.  Healthy striving is self-focused–How can I improve?  Perfectionism is other-focused–What will they think?

Research shows that perfectionism hampers success.  In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life-paralysis.  Life-paralysis refers to all the opportunities we miss because we’re too afraid to put anything out in the world that could be imperfect.  It’s also all of the dreams that we don’t follow because of our deep fear of failing, making mistakes, and disappointing others.  It’s terrifying to risk when you’re a perfectionist; your self-worth in on the line.

WOW!  There’s so much more, but I’ll save the advancement of this information and thinking for the next couple posts.  I think what’s important for me to finish with is:  this is where I think so many women get caught, and our mainstream media doesn’t help us with gorgeous models and fairy tale stories.  We think we have to be perfect to be loved and admired by other people whether at work or in our own families.  And we are not compassionate with ourselves for what we perceive as failures no matter how inconsequential it might be.  I think strength with grace comes when we can move beyond this thinking to Ruiz’s Four Agreements, Brown’s Self-Compassion, Rohr’s Second Half of Life Thinking and so on.  It does take work, I think, and practice.

Behavior change is not easy.  I broke my watch on the way back from England.  It’s been almost 4 weeks and I’m still looking at my wrist for the time.


Kelly Clarkson has many songs I love and they have found their way into my iTunes.  One of her latest is a favorite of mine–it’s called, Catch My Breath, and the lyrics are:

I don’t wanna be left behind
Distance was a friend of mine
Catching breath in a web of lies
I’ve spent most of my life
Riding waves, playing acrobat
Shadowboxing the other half
Learning how to react
I’ve spent most of my time

Catching my breath, letting it go, turning my cheek for the sake of the show
Now that you know, this is my life, I won’t be told it’s supposed to be right

Catch my breath, no one can hold me back, I ain’t got time for that
Catch my breath, won’t let them get me down, it’s all so simple now

Addicted to the love I found
Heavy heart, now a weightless cloud
Making time for the ones that count
I’ll spend the rest of my time
Laughing hard with the windows down
Leaving footprints all over town
Keeping faith, karma comes around
I won’t spend the rest of my life

Catching my breath, letting it go, turning my cheek for the sake of the show
Now that you know, this is my life, I won’t be told it’s supposed to be right

Catch my breath, no one can hold me back, I ain’t got time for that
Catch my breath, won’t let them get me down, it’s all so simple now

You helped me see
The beauty in everything

Catching my breath, letting it go, turning my cheek for the sake of the show
Now that you know, this is my life, I won’t be told it’s supposed to be right

Catching my breath, letting it go, turning my cheek for the sake of this show
Now that you know, this is my life, I won’t be told what’s supposed to be right

Catch my breath!

Catch my breath, no one can hold me back, I ain’t got time for that
Catch my breath, won’t let them get me down, it’s all so simple now (it’s all so simple now!)

Catching my breath, letting it go, turning my cheek for the sake of the show
Now that you know, this is my life, I won’t be told it’s supposed to be right

Catch my breath, no one can hold me back, I ain’t got time for that
Catch my breath, won’t let them get me down, it’s all so simple now

You can hear the song at the following link (and please excuse the commercial):  Catch My Breath by Kelly Clarkson


I recently saw the Life of Pi movie.  I had wanted to watch it for awhile, but heard mixed reviews not to mention (spoiler alert) that there were scenes of animals eating other animals.  But, I was captive on an airplane for 6 hours recently and it was one of the movie choices so I took the plunge.

I found it to be a very deep and meaningful movie–with many metaphoric life lessons.  At one point during Pi’s life boat journey, he finds himself marooned on this really different kind of island.  Pi narrates the following passage (in the present) as the movie shows Pi and Richard Parker in the boat as they’re leaving the island:

No one has seen that island since, and you never read about those trees in any book (roots he ate to nourish him when he was starving).  And yet, if I hadn’t found those shores I would have died; if I hadn’t discovered that tooth I would have been lost alone forever.  Even when God seemed to have abandoned me, He was watching.  Even when He seemed indifferent to my suffering, He was watching and when I was beyond all hope of saving, He gave me rest and gave me a sign to continue my journey…

I know a few of you out there are suffering right now–you are good friends and family members and I want to provide you encouragement and hope.  Sometimes it is in our darkest times that we receive the greatest blessings–when we think we can’t possibly keep going–some sign or moment of grace happens to help us know we’re not alone.

Hang in there….grace is coming.


I watched a segment of Brian Williams’ “Rock Center” on NBC a few days ago.  There was a story on women networking with other women.  It was about women supporting each other financially and emotionally to start businesses, to pursue dreams, and to get connected in order to fulfill their visions and ideas.  An author was featured who has written on this now much more familiar phenomenon.  Her book is called, The Stiletto Network and you can find out more about it at the following link on amazon.com:   The Stiletto Network

Women haven’t always been kind to one another in the workplace.  I’m not sure of the sociological reasons for it, but it’s great to see it is getting better.  I’ve been a part of an Executive/CEO/Business Owner Women’s Group for the better part of three years now.  It is a group of wonderfully accomplished women who come together regularly to share both professional and personal challenges and successes.  We listen to one another.  We challenge one another.  We encourage one another.  We laugh.  We cry.  We dream.  We express fears.  We celebrate accomplishments.

We work on being strong women of grace.  Amen Sisters.