How I uncovered the secret to feeling good enough.

When I think about vulnerability, I think about feeling worthy, and how for much of my life I did not feel worthy. I believe I am not alone. So many of us need that constant approval that we are good enough.

We check our status – how many likes did I receive? We look in the mirror – how much weight did I gain? We look at our bank accounts – how much money did I make?

How do we stop looking for that outside approval?

To begin to feel worthy, let’s first start with why we feel like we are not enough?

I have been a stay at home mom for over eighteen years, and just as long, I have had the feeling I was supposed to be doing something else, too. It stemmed from giving up a six figure job to raise my children. I am proud of this choice, and my children. So I ask myself, why am I still searching for that career, the one that would put me on the map. What map, and where I would land, I had no idea. Ideally, it would be oceanfront. I would have a room with a view. Beyond that? I just knew I was not there – yet.

So I kept running. Around the block, on a trail, through my days, hours and years. While, wondering if there was something else for me to do, I did what life put in front of me – changing diapers, paying bills, planning birthday parties, editing school papers. Supporting, loving, encouraging, managing the life of our family.

And then it hit me. I could never do enough. There always had to be something more to do, to become, to achieve. If you are chasing what is outside, that imaginary finish line keeps moving.

What would be enough, really? A six figure income? A child who attends Ivy league university? The largest house on the street? Best selling author? Fittest body? Longevity? A viral video?

I think back to high school when we all voted in our year book. We voted in categories such as prettiest, nicest eyes, nicest smile, best dressed, most athletic, along with most likely to succeed. What about the categories of most likely to help someone whose car has gone off the road, or most likely to help a child in need? Or how about most likely to pick up and drive to Washington D.C. to protest what is near and dear to his heart? Most likely to start the #metoo movement which will change the lives of millions of women? Most likely to open her heart, fully and honestly with those she loves? Or how about most likely to survive life?

Maybe so many of us feel unworthy because we just have our priorities confused as to what measures success. I have seen women leave an abusive relationship after ten years, and if that is not a measure of success than I am not sure what is. I have witnessed people becoming sober after thirty years of drinking heavily. I have heard the stories of adults surviving childhood abuse, getting knocked down time and again, and still picking himself back up, making a difference in our world. I have watched people lose everything and need to live out of their car. I have observed grieving parents endure the lost of a child, and people lose loved ones in a natural or human-made disaster.

To start feeling like we are enough, to understand why so many of us feel unworthy, we need to first change our priorities, change our definition of what is success. I survived migraine headaches as a child and chronic sinus headaches as an adult – pain that kept me in bed for days. I made it through the devastation of pregnancy loss, a category 5 hurricane and putting our family dog to sleep that we loved dearly. My success included breaking the cycle of abuse, raising my children to love themselves while also helping rescue dogs. 

I am not unique.

If you have survived middle school, when raging hormones bully their way into your entire being creating monster emotions, you are a success. If you endured even a year of high school, you deserve more than a pat on the back. You deserve a standing ovation. Working each day when you’d rather be on the golf course, giving birth, holding another’s hand, listening to a child, walking a dog, preparing dinner for loved ones, even getting out of bed in the morning when you’d rather hide under the covers is a wonderful measure of success. Speaking up and out against hatred or deciding that today is the day, you begin whispering kind words to your own heart.

Everyone serving our country in any way, shape or form deserves the highest honor of success. So does the one who steps out of her house after years of suffering with agoraphobic symptoms. The one who creates her own fashion statement, and the one who makes a mistake and says, “I am sorry.” The one who gets a C in chemistry. The one who drops out of college. The one who plants a tree. The one who smiles at a stranger on the street. The one who fails. The one who is rejected. The one who is breathing.

If you are human, you are a success story. If you are alive, you are enough.

We need to cut the cord with the long term belief that feeling like we are enough is tied to any outside source.

It is not about feeling like you have done enough, but knowing that you are enough.

You are not your past – that was just your experience
You are not your future – it is still unwritten
You are not your children’s successes, nor their failures
You are not your zip code or your occupation
You are not your age

You are not the words said to you in judgment or anger

You are not your fears, anxieties or depression
You are not your clean house or dirty feet
You are not your thoughts
You are not your body

You are not your age

You are not your clothes, your weight or your hair color
You are not the numbers glaring back at you from your bank account
You are not your gender or sexual orientation

Who are you?

You are a gift
You are loved
You are worthy
You are enough

Peel back those outside layers of not enough. Be the first to come out of the closet with who you really are. And the second, and the last. Walk away from a battered relationship no matter how many times you have gone back. Tell your story with your heart pounding and our palms sweating, saying yes, this happened to me, but it does not define me.

Worthiness is building our selves back up from the inside out. It is letting go of comparisons and likes from others, and finding that place within our own heart that is gentle, loving and compassionate – with ourself.

Worthiness is honoring how we feel. It is putting our self first, saying no, and standing up for someone who has not yet found the courage.

Deep down, we are all worthy, good, and whole. If someone took that from you, told you differently or pulled you apart until you felt like your heart was split into a million pieces, it is time for you to put your self back together. It is time to say each and every day – I love my self no matter what. I love all my imperfect cracks, my shitting mornings, my weirdness and my lack of motivation. It is saying that was then, this is now. Yesterday does not define tomorrow.

I am not there yet, but I am getting closer to feeling good enough. In the meanwhile, I keep in mind that hurt people, hurt people. And loved people, love people.

Today, I choose love.

Today, love wins.

Do something nice for your self today. Do it because it is finally time, to start telling your self the truth.

You are enough.

Please excuse any grammatical errors, as my editor is on a permanent vacation in the Bahamas.

Coming soon:  My co-authored book, Living Beyond Fear, due out at Christmas! 

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It’s Not Whether You Get Knocked Down, It’s Whether You Get Up.

 

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In speaking with a teen the other day, I noticed how excited she was that a local newspaper was publishing a piece of her writing. After the article ran, her good mood plummeted. It seemed the comments she received online were not as exciting, nor inspirational. In fact, they were harsh and meant to cut her down.

Was this her first lesson in writing? Perhaps. But it is more than that. The post was about school shootings, something near and dear to the hearts of teens these days. It was heartfelt and well written. The comments accused her of being naive, blaming of her generation for their inability to cope, that it was not gun control that was the issue, but the lack of awareness and mental health of her generation. The angry comments were directed at her; they were accusatory and vindictive.

Maybe it is because I am a mom of a teen or because I have been the receiver of being cut down, unkind abusive words encouraging me to hide my true self, but what does anyone gain from cutting someone else down? Nothing. Your point gets lost, and you lose credibility. In fact, this is the worst way to try and change someone’s mind, get your point across.

It is in fact cowardly to hide behind a computer screen and lash out. It is especially harmful when it is done to one of our children. We can disagree, but where is the respect? Where is the compassion?

Will we get to the point where we all become afraid to speak our minds, our truth for fear of negative abusive comments, internet trolls waiting under the bride while we dance across in our billy-goat costumes, hoping to just make it to the other side?

I applaud Jimmy Kimmel in his addressing this issue – as the famous actors and musicians read the unkind comments that were hurled at them from someone, alone, lurking in the dark, his fingers spewing out their insecurities aimed at a more pliable source than himself. Or Demi Lovato addressing her weight issues directly addressing those who criticize how she looks, not who she is on the inside.

But, no matter how we spin it, it is not ok.

The old saying that hurt people, hurt people is the truth.  So how do we stop it? People in glass houses should not throw stones but they do. They throw rocks, and hurl insults at other people every day.

I grew up in a glass house, and I threw rocks at times, as a child. Probably to get someone to notice I was hurting because someone was hurting me. As adults, it is our responsibility. It is our job to know better. To do better. To protect and serve our children.

My blog is not political, and the point of this post is not about gun control, but respect, compassion and the true meaning behind awareness.

It is not just that the pen is mightier than the sword, but the pen can be equal to the sword in damaging another’s well-being. One is physical, the other emotional. Both are harmful.

Words can cut another off at the knees, place a stake through the heart, choke the life out of us. They can also be uplifting, inspirational and loving. Sometimes it is all about taking space.

Look at the following words when there is no space. This is what happens when we don’t take the space to think about our words. They become swords:

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Here is what it looks like when we take the space. Our words go back to being words:

words words words words words words words words words

This may be a simple example, but often the truth is simple. If you become angry, defensive, or feel the need to lash out, take a breath, take your space. This is just an new response to an old wound. Think about what you are needing to defend and why.

Whether it is through the written word or how we speak, we should all take space. Ask ourself – is this about me or her? Am I being kind and respectful in making my opinion known?

Knocking people down so we can feel better is short-lived, and like a drug, only temporarily takes away our own pain. Resolve your issues within yourself, not against someone else. Abusive remarks, abusive behavior happens often when people repeat what was said or done to them. The cycle of abuse can stop with you. Jump off that hamster wheel, and the next time you find yourself reacting to someone – take your space. Take a walk, take a hike, and wait. Then come back, check in with yourself, and ask, why is this bothering me to much?

And if you are the one who finds yourself on the ground, because someone knocked you down, you do not have to stay there. Dust yourself off, and know it was about them – not you. Then do better. Speak kindly to yourself and to others. Have compassion, and if you are pain, look for the hand that is there to help. Reach for that hand, instead of picking up a stone.

We owe it to our children.

We owe it to ourself.

We owe it to our world.

 

One Spoonful, One Single Act of Kindness

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It was 1977. I was scared, but I knew I was in a good place. Surrounded by 10 other girls my age, I was just dropped off at summer camp for the first time. I was a shy, but athletic kid. I could overcome my social awkwardness by kicking one of those slightly squishy oversized red balls over the heads of the most hopeful of outfielders. Always, I was the first picked for any teams, and the fastest runner. Yet, none of my strength or speed helped that late morning, when I first stood at the foot of my bed, watching many of the other girls, laughing and reuniting from last summer.

It was a moment of relief, when one of my counselors walked over to me, sensing how I was feeling. “I’m Gina,” she said, pointing to her name tag. I smiled, shyly. “Come on, let’s go meet the other girls.” I let her lead me over to the group, still feeling awkward, but joining in a game of jacks. By the end of the morning, I was already feeling better, thanks to Gina. At that moment, I could not know that 10 days later, Gina would reach out to me again, in the moment I would need it most.

As a former recruiter, I know you can only find so much about a person before you hire them. You ask questions, scan resumes, but in the end you must make assumptions that you hope are right. Most of the time, you get it right – but not always. Some people look good on paper or over the phone, but do not end up being the best fit for a job. Others – you don’t realize just how good they are. That summer at camp, I had both. An incredible counselor, Gina, and a less than optimal one, Nancy.

It was about 10 days into camp (so 10 months), and we were all sitting around our dining table. Servers, who were also bunkmates, were moving back and forth, bringing bug juice, cups, plates, and whatever dinner was prepared that evening. I was a picky eater. No worries. There was always peanut butter and jelly on the table – my favorite.

Dinner that night was some sort of meat. I think it was pot roast -not my favorite. I went to reach for the peanut butter and jelly, the loaf of soft white bread, glistening against the wooden table. Nancy stopped me in my tracks, “No!” She uttered, grabbing my hand. Nancy liked to exert control over us, because she could. Her moods affected her action more than common sense. More often than not, she made up her own rules. We did not know when and where she was going to strike, but when she did, we listened. I took my hand back like I had been burned, and held it in my lap.

Tears sprung to my eyes at the thought of going hungry, or worse having to eat the pot roast. But it was more than that. I was tasting the feeling of fear upon my tongue. I knew that feeling well, as it was a familiar feeling at home, one akin to walking on eggshells. Sometimes the mood was better, and you felt free to be yourself, but then the rules could change in a heartbeat, and you got burned.

But this was camp, my safe place. Yet, there I sat, helpless, my plate empty, waiting for Nancy’s emotions to calm, and her need for control to pass. There I sat, helpless, trying to make myself invisible in a room full of screaming campers, feeling scared and alone as I did that first day. 

Problem was, dinner was ending, and having run around all day, I was really hungry, and afraid to speak up. It was then, I felt it. A tap on my knee. I looked beneath the table, and there was a hand. It was Gina’s. Her fingers held on to a spoon, filled with peanut butter. I realized in that moment, I was not the only one afraid of Nancy. We are never alone – we just think we are.

I looked up at Gina, as if that spoon was a scalpel and we were about to do surgery. She nodded at me. Take it. her eyes pleaded. I nodded back, and took the spoon, got up from the table, away from Nancy’s disapproving eyes. I hid in the corner, eating that spoonful of peanut butter, feeling both shame and relief. Feelings that would fight for bragging rights over the course of most of my life, until I would finally name them both.

As I reach into the my memory box, clearing away some of the cobwebs to come up with the details of this story, I admit to not even remembering if Nancy is her real name, while Gina’s name, I will never forget.

If Gina had not reached out to me, I could have gone a bit hungry that night, but probably not. Nobody went hungry at camp. We were likely getting canteen, candy in an hour or two, or making s’mores by the campfire. But she did, and it meant more to me than she will ever know. She reached out to me, not knowing the impact. 

There were many people in my life, that went on to hand me spoonfuls of peanut butter. My incredible life long friends, my dear husband, my former kind and patient boss, my children and my dogs – all scoops of peanut butter. Playing cards with my father when I was sick, sitting on the grass in the college quad with my wonderful poetry professor, laughing till our sides ache with my husband – all scoops of peanut butter. I have even learned how to scoop my own peanut butter with a nap on the beach, a walk through a wooded path, a funny movie and a warm fire on a icy winter morning.

Summer camp, as it turned out would become one big scoop of peanut butter after another, a place even my daughters would eventually call home, many years later.

I am sure Gina would not remember that night, or knew the impact of such a small act of compassion. Just as we do not know if our smile at a stranger or a quick text to a friend could brighten their day, or even prevent him from hurting himself. Kindness can have more of an impact than abuse, hatred and drama – especially when someone has been the recipient of both. One spoonful, one single act of kindness – so simple and yet so meaningful. We can all impact each other, choose how we connect. Why not choose kindness?

Today, I sometimes wonder where Gina is – if she has a family, what jobs she took on, if she travelled as a single warrior woman, or made a home, nestled in the security of suburbia. I would like to think she is still handing out spoonfuls of peanut butter wherever she goes.

Everything is a Gift, No Matter How Sh*tty the Wrapping Paper.

PUBLISHED ON ELEPHANT JOURNAL

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I am not into politics.

I am not into picking people apart or putting them down.

I am into compassion and respect. I am into seeing the gift—the good in everything and everyone.

I have not always been this way. I have been on a journey most of my life, as we all have; most of us just don’t know it.

It has been a journey of seeing past what is right in front of my eyes and knowing there is something deeper, more meaningful going on. It is about intuition, seeing within, tapping into my innate sense of knowing there is something beyond what our eyes see and our ears hear. There is something beyond people’s personalities that drives their actions.

When you take a moment and look beyond what is at face value, you can grab a taste of it. You can see something good, or at least understand why something is happening. It is coming to the awareness that everyone and everything is here to help us—and we don’t have to like what we see and feel to know the truth of this.

I am not a stranger to disappointment, anger, frustration and turmoil. When I faced a full-term pregnancy loss 13 years ago, my heart was broken into a million pieces. The grief was insurmountable.

Yet slowly, as my heart began to heal and I reached beyond the loss, I was able to see the gifts I had been given. The amazing value of life, the strength I never knew I had, my own innate power, the ability to not sweat the small stuff, the ability to live in the present and the knowledge that I can handle anything life throws at me.

How can I say losing my child was a gift? Because I cannot count the number of lives that I have touched positively as a result of that tragedy. Because the compassion my heart has felt every moment since goes beyond what most can bear in a lifetime. Because the beauty of a bird can bring tears to my eyes, and the wonder in a child’s eyes can warm my heart.

I have come to know a faith that is beyond this world and a joy that I feel each day, no matter what is going on in the world around me.

So yes, it was a gift, even though the wrapping paper was f*cking sh*tty, and I hated every moment of the process.

Because of it, I am the person I am today—the one with the rose-colored glasses. It is the reason I can look at our country and see beyond what the media displays and the people shout. I see the changes that are just beyond the horizon, and they look pretty f*cking good to me.

I can even see Trump, despite all his shortcomings, as a gift.

I don’t see a man taking power who has already said and done so many things that go against the things I believe. I see a million women rising up and finding their voice.

I don’t see chaos. I see change.

I don’t see Facebook getting blown up by political posts, I see people reaching deep down within themselves and figuring out what it is they believe. I see our country four and eight years down the road as a better place. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Despite the pregnancy loss, I have been given the gift of three other beautiful children. As most moms know, one of our jobs is to spend hours in the car driving our children from one activity to the next. Just yesterday I drove a car full of 16-year-olds home, and I did what I always do—I listened to their conversation.

Within a few moments, the conversation turned to politics. But it was beyond politics. They discussed the impact of climate control, the necessity of space travel, confirmation hearings, the Department of Education and the importance of speaking the truth when you are the U.S. President. Never in my life, in all the years I have been carpooling, has the conversation been this interesting and thought-provoking.

How great is that? What a gift! Without Trump getting elected and all that has occurred since, I would have only born witness to conversations about homework, dating and who has the longest running Snapchat streak.

Is our country messy right now? Absolutely. It is messy because people who are not used to using their voice are forgetting the Golden Rule. We are forgetting to “do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.” This holds true for our 45th president as well.

We are forgetting respect and compassion. It’s not about shutting up or stopping the posts or tweets. It’s about communicating consciously, speaking what is in our hearts, all while keeping the bigger picture in mind.

Yes, I see everything in life as a gift, no matter how sh*tty the wrapping paper. It has been years since I have taken off my sunglasses, and put on my rose-colored glasses. And it is pretty damn sunny here, just the way I like it.

I have a pair waiting for you. Just uncurl your fists and open your palms. Take my hand. I will show you the way.

 

 

Author: Beth Mund

 


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Choose Love

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Choose empowerment. We are not victims. We do not need to run. We are not helpless. We need to take back our power. There is not one candidate who will magically change our lives or our country. It is an inside job. We do it within ourselves. We do it within our families. We all have the choice.

Choose love. Tell your daughters how beautiful, strong and smart they are. Tell them today and everyday. Teach your sons how to honor women, treat them dignity and respect. Enlighten all our children that it is not the color of our skin, our sexual orientation or where we pray that depicts our humanness, but how much love and compassion we show one another. 

Choose compassion. Today be that much more compassionate, patient and helpful to one another. Look for the highest in everyone you see, whether it is on a grocery store line, or listening to the next President of the United States.

Choose hope. We are all entitled to our choices. We need to treat another’s opinion with respect. There is a bigger picture and everything is here to help us. Sometimes our foundation needs to be cracked in order to let in more light.

 

Turn off the television, get quiet and ask yourself. “What can I do to be the change I want to see in the world?” If you need faith, ask for it. All the answers are inside of us.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our thoughts, feelings and actions today create the world of tomorrow. Today, I see a world of hope, love and compassion. What do you see?

Pin The Tail on the Donkey

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The year is 1976. I am eight years old. It is my birthday party. Back then, kids birthday parties were easier, and much cheaper.  We are gathered in my basement, crepe paper streaming across the unfinished ceiling. My friends rushing through the never out of fashion birthday song so we can all indulge in the delicacy of home made cupcakes.

Now it is game time.  Always a crowd favorite, we begin to play, Pin the Tail on the Donkey.  For me, it was always more fun to watch others than to be the one who was blindfolded.  I tend to like to know what is in front of me. Yet, everyone gets a turn, and soon enough, the blindfold is tied securely behind my head. I am spun around, three maybe four times. Just enough to mix me up as to where I am going, but not too much that I fall down and crack my head on the cement wall.  “Okay,” someone shouts.  “Go.”

I walk forward, cautiously, my arms outreached in front of me, my fingers tightly gripping the tail with the sticker. I feel my way towards the picture of the unassuming donkey.  Finally, after what feels like an eternity, I reach the wall, relieved that I feel the paper and have not veered off course facing an exposed water pipe or worse gone in the total opposite way about to trip on the staircase. If you are the least bit perceptive, the laughter always helped with this issue, anyway.  The louder the laugher, the more you are heading in the wrong direction.

Touching the wall, I clumsily feel my way, hoping to  get it right; the exact spot where the tail is supposed to go.  “You cannot feel,” someone shouts.  “That is cheating.”  I want to shout back that I am the birthday girl and I can cheat if I want to, but I know that is not really a thing.  So I go for it. I press the tail firmly down upon the paper.  Laughter erupts as I lift my blindfold.  Both disappointment and a smile emerge simultaneously as I am the one who feels like an ass, but see it all seems funny, so it is ok.  I see that I have pinned the tail on the donkey’s head, and I shrug and hand the blindfold to the next lucky contestant on “this is a foreshadowing of the reality of life,” game.

Soon enough our birthday parties become teenage parties. And then we leave home. We set out on our journey, our hopes and dreams spinning around in our hearts and mind, and we are off.  It is our turn, each and every day we arise.  We make plans, we mark our calendars and we go about our days, filling our lives with dates, jobs, weddings, babies, and funerals. Sooner or later, we get spun around.  Traffic emerges, a love one passes away, infertility hits, a call comes from the school principal, or mother nature erupts dumping life upon us like a tornado. And there we are, our hands outstretched in front of us trying to find our way back, to the perfect spot.

That never happens.

Life is a game, and everyone gets a turn. Some people seem to take their turns slowly, with caution, and life feels hard, each and every breath, labored. And those that feel challenged look at others who have it easier .Why is life so easy for her? Why is he so successful and I struggle each and every day?  Do the ones who have it easy, simply have better inner ear equilibrium, thus spinning does not effect them as much?  Or perhaps they cheat, peering above the blindfold when nobody is looking, for their success is more important than anything else.  Maybe, they are just lucky in life.  Maybe not.  Maybe we just think some have it good, but while they are alone, when everyone has left the party, their world is anything, but easy.

Truth is, whether we move to the front or lurk behind in back, we all have moments where life is easy, and life is hard. And the less we hear the laughter from those around us, the harder life feels.  For regardless of what happens in our lives, it is not where we put the tail, but how we react to our efforts; how we feel when we take off our blindfold.

There is no reward for pinning it exactly as it is supposed to be, anyway.  Our reward does not arise from being perfect, but allowing ourselves to fumble and miss the mark.  Can we laugh?  Let ourselves off the hook?  Realizing that deep down life is all just a really intricate amazing game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey, and we are all doing the best we can, enables us all to breathe a bit easier. After all, just playing the game of life is courageous. Sometimes we get dizzy and fall down.  Other times, we nail it.  And still, there are the times when we think we are going in the right direction, and knock our heads against the wall. What then? We grab some ice, rest, and wait till we feel better to move on, to try again.

We know as children what it is like to laugh at our mistakes, forgive and move on.  Unfortunately, too often, when we grow, so does our judgement.  This judgment is what often keeps us locked in those chains, never trying again. We are all way too hard, both on ourselves, and each other.

For we all have bad moments, days, even lives.  Let’s take off our blindfolds, open our eyes and laugh at our mistakes.  We are far less likely to stay off course if we lighten up.  And if we start with ourselves – love ourselves, forgive ourselves, laugh at ourselves – we may just realize what a big game life is, and agree to have a bit more fun.

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Most children no longer play, Pin the Tail on the Donkey, but all childhood games are just practice for the game of life. Like the old saying goes, “It is not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.”

Let’s play the game of loving ourselves deeply, showering others with compassion, and laughing out loud as often as possible, especially when we veer off course.

We are all invited to the party, so let’s play.

Tag, you’re it.