Thursday, October 28, 2010

5th annual Purple Thursday Awareness Day -- I am the 1 in 4

I was invited by WEAVE and the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence's press conference to mark the 5th annual Purple Thursday Awareness Day. The event was co-hosted with At-Large Councilmember Kwame Brown and I was so impressed that 5 other council members (David Catania, Phil Mendelson, Mary Cheh, Harry Thomas, Jr., and Yvette Alexander) also spoke. I was asked to represent domestic violence survivors.

Here's what I said:

When I first started speaking about my experience as a victim of domestic violence, I thought my story was unique. Over the past 2 years, I’ve met other survivors and heard other stories and realized my story was more common than I ever expected.

My husband and I had a whirlwind romance, so when he threw a full Brita pitcher at my head when we were engaged, I was concerned, but excused it as a bad day.

When he threw my suitcase across the room and kicked a chair the night before our wedding, I took comfort in my wedding party’s theories of cold feet and wedding stress.

His actions were harder to dismiss when he threatened to tie me up and set the house on fire if I didn’t do what he wanted, and my excuses ran out when his rage lead to a life threatening car ride in a snow storm, with our baby in the back and my husband shouting “our son’s safety isn’t what’s important here. What’s important is that you stop the car and left me drive.” Still, I didn’t think it was domestic violence, I just thought it was a bad marriage.

When my husband's emotional abuse and controlling behavior became apparent, I knew exactly what to do - looked for experts to help.

• We completed a year of therapy together with an experienced LCSW specializing in relationships.

• I read lots of self-help books.

• And I got a personal trainer and started taking self-defense classes – just in case.

When I felt I'd tried my best, but the problem wasn't getting 'fixed' and staying was not safe or healthy for me or my baby, I knew what to do – I moved out.

When it got MORE Violent - physically violent - after I moved out, I was shocked. Suddenly and for the first time, I DIDN’T know what to do. I never imagined moving out would make it worse. I thought that was going to fix things. Still, I'm educated and engaged, I sought legal and emotional support. My assumption was I could throw money at the problem and make it stop and I was fine with that.

I hired:
• a $550/hr Bethesda-based attorney suggested I invite him over, provoke him to hit me, and then call the police

• a couples counselor - a phd - who suggested when I felt scared my husband might kill me, that I lock myself in the bathroom or take a walk around the block to let him calm down.

• and when I asked my handsome, successful well-educated boss, our company's CEO, what he would do; he suggested that since I was so much bigger than my husband, I try sitting on him the next time he tried to hurt me.

In the past, I had made a donation to WEAVE as an organizer of the V-DAY campaign at GWU, but I never imagined using WEAVE's services. At this point, however, I'd run out of high-priced experts to call. So when I called WEAVE one cold, morning in January 2009, I didn’t think my situation qualified for their help, I just wanted to see who they would suggest I talk to. Despite my lack of financial need, my successful career, or my many advanced degrees, they nominated themselves to help without hesitation.

Later that day I was at a WEAVE legal clinic and within a week had a temporary restraining order against my husband and an attorney with experience in DV law.

While the case continues to work its way through DC Superior court, I have turned to WEAVE for support again and again. When my legal bills crossed the $50,000 threshold and I lost my job (due in part to time missed at work because of hearings and my inability to travel for work due to custody issues), I turned to WEAVE for mental health support and again they came through with 1 year of counseling with an amazing social worker who really understands my situation and the cycle of violence.

Without the holistic and need-blind services of WEAVE, I don't honestly know if I'd be alive today. The journey is hard and long and it continues, but I believe WEAVE's services have delivered me to the starting line in my own life. My life and my son's happiness are daily celebrations of Domestic Violence Awareness and the services WEAVE provides to this community.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Law of Attraction and third world atrocities

On Rape as a Weapon of War, my Messy Divorce, and How Choosing to Take Responsibility for your Thoughts Makes Both of These Things Better.

I’m one of those “Twitter” people. I can’t seem to stop tweeting my every move – From coffee with a colleague to my opinions on Prop 8 – it’s all out there and I love it. So when I have a particularly clear or delicious though, you know I’m going to condense it into 140 characters and tweet it out.

Recently, I tweeted this thought:

“Believe it or not, neither the number on the scale nor your bank balance are inherently good or bad. You impose meaning w/ your thoughts.”

I wrote this just after I looked at my bank balance and thought: “Perfect!” as I wrote a check for $6,542, virtually emptying my savings account. And then I hopped on the scale and thought “253 pounds, Perfect!” exactly where I want to be today.

And then, I couldn’t stop laughing. I mean it was like I was sucking down helium balloons. Ask 10 strangers on the street and I’m pretty sure they would say 253 pounds is not a good amount to weight and $0 is not a good balance for a savings account. But for me, I loved it and I was empowered and invigorated by both numbers.

I love my weight right now because it provides the cleanest, clearest way I can communicate with myself at a time it’s extremely important I listen to myself. I am taking lots of risks and part of how I know if I am heading in the right direction is by the direction of my weight. As I move closer to my most authentic self, my body seems to be miraculously gravitating to a lower natural weight. I’m not stressed, not dieting, and I have never felt better or more beautiful.

When I wrote the check I was smiling. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend sixty-five hundred plus dollars and I LOVED that I could write that check and pay that bill. I felt lucky to be able to solve a problem by writing a check and I felt confident that money will continue to come to me and my savings account will be plenty full when I next need it. Money has always been easy for me.

Of course I didn’t say all of this on Twitter. I just quietly made the observation and moved on with my day. But that simple post got 36 comments. It was like a Washington Post article about Michelle Rhee

Here was one comment:

“So if you're penniless and massively underweight due to malnutrition, you can just think your way out of it?”

I thought about it and said: “In a way… you can: if you think "I'm penniless," for instance, you'll continue to be. If you can find ways you aren't penniless... Ways you are rich... And focus on them, it's CRAZY but you actually create more richness. Now granted... if your situation is so dire - you are in Sudan in a refugee camp - it's going to be REALLY hard to believe there's a way out. But it happens. Look at Super Model and former Sudanese refugee Alek Wek for instance. Point is whether you think you’re penniless or you don't, you’re right. What you dwell on, you create more of.”

And that opened up Pandora’s Box on “The Law of Attraction” and third world atrocities. I did this too when I first started with coaching with Brooke Castillo. She’s say some version of – whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right. And I’d come up with 625 extreme examples to hold up as exceptions to the rule.

Now if you know Ms. Castillo you know that wouldn’t cause her to back down for a second, so she hung with me – through each raped, pregnant 12 year old; genitally mutilated 9 year old; and fire-wood-gathering Sudanese refugee. It’s not the easiest way to learn the law of attraction. So much better to manifest a cup of coffee and take it from there. But I didn’t want to learn the law of attraction, I wanted to analytically prove it wrong. And what I attracted were more analytical arguments about other things being wrong. But hey, if you are like me, and you like to take the long way home and understand how the law of attraction works in the most dire circumstances before you go applying it to your own life, you might be interested in my answer to this question I got in response to my tweet:

“Could you really tell someone who, for example, has had their limbs chopped off with a machete and been raped by Charles Taylor's crew that all they need to succeed is a positive outlook? Surely that's just an excuse not to help other people? (They don't have a positive outlook, they don't deserve aid.)”

Actually what I would say everyone in that position 100% deserves aid. But sadly there usually isn't enough to go around. I would say the more positive you are that you are your family will get the help you need the more likely it will happen? Why? If you think - this is horrible no one will ever help me you are likely to curl up in a dark corner and die. But if you can get your head to the place where you say 'F them! I am going to survive... You, scream, crawl, beg, or otherwise position yourself somewhere you'll get help. Same circumstance. Different thoughts. Different results.

For decades I have been trying to strategically and tactically with great strength, force, and will trying to rearrange circumstances... I mean, I've gone to Herculean lengths. And I'm really good at it.... AND ... mercifully... I am not even at the will of Charles Taylor and his men. But it still was not getting me the results I wanted. When I was able to change what I made the circumstances themselves mean to me, for me, and by me - with no change at all to the circumstances... I got what I wanted.

I have been through a multi-year divorce which has cost me about tens of thousands of dollars and has been going on for years. The divorce has been high in angst and drama. For a long time I made this circumstance mean something horrible - like wrong was done to me and I needed to tell everyone the details - I needed to make it right... I needed to get justice... whatever - I made it mean a lot of things... but when I changed the meaning, the entire circumstance seemed to change... Still in the divorce so no change in circumstance there... but once I turned the thought from

"This isn't fair and is driving me to the poor house." to "I already have what I want and it's just a matter of time until the lose ends are tied up." (but equally true by the way) the fact I have to go to court every once in a while became more of a hobby than a chip on my shoulder.

And now here's the funny thing... once I stopped being obsessed by how this experience was ruining my life (dramatic tone intentional) I stopped calling up my lawyer with new strategies and tactics... SO MATERIALLY something DID change... my monthly bills are going down because I changed my thought. Oh and another thing changed.... my ex and I have spent more time together and while I am not signing up to get remarried it was nice to take our kid to school together on the first day without any drama.

I want to be clear, this isn't about blaming the victim - a circumstance is just that - a circumstance. Certainly I have a lot of empathy for someone raped under the Charles Taylor regime but I can't change that someone was raped. I do know what can change by changing your thoughts is that tomorrow can be a better day.

I'm not trying to convince at all... but if you are up for it - try this wacky experience the next time you have a negative feeling about something. Let's say you have to go to a meeting you don't want to go to. The circumstance is ... 'there is a meeting'. Now you add on this thought: "I have to go and I don't want to". Ultimately that's not true, even if there was a gun to your head you could choose to go rather than risk having your head blown off or you could choose not to go and see if you get shot. If you can find an equally true thought that is an upgrade - not necessarily positive... but just change "I have to go to this meeting and I don't want to" to "I'm choosing to go to this meeting so I guess I do want to be there." and if you can really OWN and BELIEVE the upgraded though... See how it changes the circumstance for you. It's nutty, but I guarantee the results will blow you away. It works every time.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I hit my goal weight!!!

I woke up Sunday morning happier than I have ever been in my entire life. I feel like I am deeply in love with the PERFECT person for me and today I realized why. I HIT MY GOAL WEIGHT!! I have struggled so hard and so long with my weight and the battle is over! Seriously I never thought I'd reach this point but I know now that every diet, every bad day, every pair of pants that made me want to crawl into bed, and every scale or mirror that I accused of being "mean" have all lead me to this perfect point.

I have been made whole. I have MADE MYSELF whole. There is nothing left to fix. It's like when you start dating someone and the person you are dating seems perfect. You can't find a flaw - can't imagine a reason you'll ever break up. And you love every second you spend together, treasuring it like a gift from the Gods. That's how I feel about me.

I don't need to read another book. I don't need to start another diet. I don't need to cry another tear. I have received the gift of myself and I am not going to waste another second. I want to stay up all night on the phone with me. I want to stare lovingly at pictures of myself. I am squeezing every last drop of love into my own arms and now I can only see the perfection.

Every check I write is payable to me (no matter what it says on the "To" line)! Every bit of beauty I notice in others - my stunning mom, gorgeous sisters, friends, roommates, etc - I notice it's all my own beauty. When I meet someone who is smart - I am noticing I am smart. When I see someone (Sally, Heidi!) who is fit and strong and who loves there body - I realize I am fit and strong and I love my body.

And this week - I just can't stop seeing perfection everywhere. Nothing needs to be fixed. I can relax in gratitude and joy. The struggle was worth it. It brought me here. There is no where I'd rather be.

But you are wondering about my goal weight? Well it's the weight I am right now of course, how could it ever be anything else?

Monday, August 09, 2010

100 pounds and a stammer

I don’t remember a day in my life when I wasn’t fat. At 2, I remember hearing adults making wagers on how old I’d be when I'd lose my baby fat. At 9, I remember my grandfather being extremely upset that his calling me “Solid” didn’t offend me. I like the idea of being Solid. What was the alternative? Liquid? He kept explaining it was an insult and jiggled my thighs to make sure I got it. I did.

At 11, I remember being weighed in front of my gym class and feeling like I would die on the spot. I bought my first pair of jeans in an adult size that year – it was a size 9. That was the smallest size I ever was. I didn’t stay in it long and I have never revisited it even at my lowest post-diet weights. In high school, I was a size 12 or 14 and on my 16th birthday I weighed 180 pounds. At 19, I went on my first diet and I lost 100 pounds. In the 18 years since my first diet, I have lost 70-100 pounds 4 times.

My extra weight has been my constant companion, my nemesis, my evil twin, my nightmare. I had good grades, good friends, great jobs, a fun life, AND an extra 100 plus pounds dragging me down. I’ve theorized this extra weight was an attempt at self-sabotage (I’ve got it too good?); of survivor guilt (past life on the Titanic?); to keep people at a distance (why didn’t it work with my ex-husband?) I’ve used logic, extreme exercise, dieting, lifestyle changes, vegetarianism, raw foods, fasting, and a million other things to attack this monster, but each time I lose the weight but not the monster. And I gain the weight back – and then some!

I thought I read everything there was to read on diets, weight loss, and obesity – from medical and policy documents – self help to psychology reviews; but tonight I read a story about a guy with a speech impediment that really hit home.

“I wish I could phone up my thirteen year-old self and tell him that there is no magic wand solution,” wrote 2010 Man Booker Prize finalist David Mitchell (The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (Hodder & Stoughton - Sceptre)). “Here is my big idea,” he continues “stop trying to kill your stammer…Stop seeing it as an enemy to be vanquished: it is an integral part of the process of how you think, perceive other, and process language, and no good ever came of hating an integral part of yourself.”

I’ve heard this general message before… “Love yourself. Love your body.” But never in this way.

“Quite probably,” explains Mitchell “if I could have produced unbroken, effortless sentences like my secretly-envied class-mates, I would never have felt the need to write them down, nor become a writer.”

Did his Booker Prize recognition come, in some way, because he is a stammerer? If so, how could he possibly not feel some gratitude towards the stammer?

Now if I had a choice between being fat or having a stammer, I’d take the speech impediment any day of the week because I don’t feel like society makes big judgments about people with stammers and stutters like they do when you are fat…but OH the evidence Mr. Mitchell produces to dismiss this argument.

Like me, Mitchell was also constantly dismayed at the depth of his efforts and the lack of results. No amount of hard work or will power was able to permanently dislodge the demon. Part of the reason for people being dismissive is what Mitchell calls “The Will-Power Myth.”

“This myth cost me angry years of believing that I stammered because I wasn’t trying hard enough not to stammer…Like a force field, the more will-power you throw at it, the stronger it gets.”

So how could I make my monster into a friend? How could I see the goodness of my dragon and not feel the fire on my neck? Well, to start I guess can admit having extra weight is integral to who I am. Since I have always been overweight – even at my thinnest – there is no way I could be me without having had it as my constant companion. The way I think, perceive others, and interpret the body has all been influenced by my weight.

When you are a stammerer – apparently – you can foresee seconds before you say a word, that it’s coming up… “Oh no!" you might think. "The next sentence is going to have a word that starts with the letter S and I always stutter on that letter!”

When you are fat you learn how to foresee not just seconds, but weeks! How you ask? Well there are embarrassing moments when your body is oversized that you might never guess as a thin or otherwise normally weighted person. I can smell, for instance, a friendship that is likely to include frequent shopping or being in situations where strip poker or skinny dipping is going to be suggested. Now that sense has helped me avoid being uncomfortable; but it has also helped me succeed in marketing because I can play situations out much further than most people – I think they lose interest because they haven’t been motivated to keep playing it out like I have.

When I set up my life to avoid embarrassing moments caused by my weight – it turns out I had a lot of free time to spend in libraries and coffee shops. I find writing fairly effortless and academic research 100 times more enjoyable than a game of touch football. Give me a choice between writing a 20 page paper and going to a rave – I’ll take the paper… ANY day of the week. In part due to my obesity, I have become a voracious reader, a pretty good writer, and an amazing conversationalist. Believe me when I say -- You want me in your book group!

Tonight there is a stunningly gorgeous, interesting, and intelligent professional dancer in my house. I host dancers from a local studio that need a place to stay while they create transcendent art. And do you know why I host? Well, I think a big part of it is generosity. I am a ridiculously open and generous person and that comes from my learned ability to create social situations where I can’t be rejected because of my weight. Friends were never a big part of my parents or sister’s lives – but to me they are central. I have so many rich, deep, and breathtaking friendships and I am so grateful for them. I have close friends in San Francisco, Kazakhstan, England, Spain, Argentina, Australia and beyond. My life is a thick, international tapestry that literally can’t be duplicated.

I have lived most of my life in fear I would be exposed for being fat – which is so ironic of course because it’s pretty hard to cover up when you are over 100 pounds overweight; and yet living in that fear while being unwilling to turn my back on life has turned me into an incredibly resilient person. I am not afraid to speak in public because I walk in public every day – which to me is much scarier.

People are afraid to speak in public because they think they might say something stupid? God! That’s the least of my worries… I face the “death” of public speaking every day by exposing my fat body when I leave my house. And on most days – I face death and survive. On the few occasions I have metaphorically died, I am quickly resurrected. I have learned to pick myself up even when I am rejected or scorned.

I have spent more time in my 20s and 30s working on my spirituality, my body and my soul then most people my age have to. Many people start learning this stuff when they are much older and may feel they have lost time. This huge thing (pun intended) I’ve had to deal with has taught me about living in the moment, creating my reality with my thoughts, goal setting, and many other tools of self-care – some as basic as diet and nutrition – I’m an expert on both. This work has turned me into one of my favorite people. I love time alone with myself. I love learning about myself and I have made serious emotional and time investments into my own growth. I am hopeful the work I have done will be able to help others.

Being fat has given me the need to prove myself and my worth as it has so often made me feel worthless. In my attempts to prove myself I have built a great career, bought 3 wonderful homes, and earned 3 lofty degrees. I’ve read, I’ve written, I’ve achieved. I’ve had my own company since 1994. My own house since 2000 and my own doctorate since 2006. I’ve also earned a share of medals and certificates from triathlons and other athletic competitions.

My ability to plan, my generosity, my resilience, my tool chest of tools for connecting to myself and my motivation for success are all integral parts of myself that I love. I can strive to be a non-fat obese person but I can never not be fat. My fatness isn’t actually good or bad, it’s just me.

As Mitchell says: “Just as you live somewhere, you have to be someone, and as long as your defects, limitations, and handicaps aren’t alienating friends, why shouldn’t they be as valid a set of determinants for who you are and what your vocation is as your gifts?”

Monday, August 02, 2010

Why I Support Adrian Fenty for Mayor

A friend on Twitter whose opinion I respect tremendously tweeted something tonight that surprised me:

roopikarisam: Disappointed that the Washington Post endorsed @Fenty2010 not @grayformayor. Did they miss last week's firing of 200+ DCPS teachers?!

I've talked to lots of teachers (and parents) about the recent firings of teachers rated Fair or Poor. Generally teachers say - yes there may be some bad teachers - heck - maybe even all 241 teachers were bad - but is the process *fair*? Where as parents say - get the bad teachers out FAST and if that means we lose a few good ones in the process - that sucks, but I know people at my private sector job that were great that got fired and shouldn't have - sometimes life isn't fair but I want my kid to have the best shot.

And there is the heart of the matter.... are we ... or rather... is THE STATE ...
A) in the business of education to provide lots of jobs that set the standard for fair labor practices or
B) to provide the most efficient, high quality education it can provide.

As a mom - I vote B.

I've watched as school superintendent after school superintendent failed to improve outcomes in DC schools. It seemed the more experience they had, the slower they would move and the more careful they would be.

Rhee isn't careful - she's bullish - and she's bullish about my son's education. I was a public school kid and as a single mom I can't afford private school but I make far too much to get financial aid. I need the public schools to work and Michelle Rhee has proven to me that she will put her neck on the line to give my son - to give Jesse - the best chance at having a good education in the public system. Will it take me being a helicopter mom and fighting for the best teachers and the best schools - absolutely! But that is much easier to do when the chancellor and I are on the same page. No BS. Bad teachers go. Sorry.

This election is not - as @roopikarisam correctly observed - about Fenty and Gray - it's about Rhee or not... Gray wins... Rhee is replaced and even if the replacement is brilliant - it still means my kid loses as that new person comes up to speed.

Rhee is getting quantifiable results. Losing her would put us right back at the bottom of the stack and it will show that accountability doesn't hold a candle to tenure and frankly that is not what I want Jesse to learn.

I drive around DC and I see lots of yard signs - Fenty/ Gray/Fenty/Gray. This city is split! But for once it's not split between blacks and whites - it's split between parents and non-parents. Non parents proudly put their Gray sign out declaring a) I am sick of so much time and energy going to the schools and b) Why do they keep arrogantly firing hard working people? Parents put them out earnest begging for another 4 years to see if Rhee can turn the schools all the way around as she appears to be doing. All politics is personal and if I didn't have a kid in the public school system maybe I'd get on my pro-labor high horse but I do have a kid and I hope people without kids realize how important turning the DC schools around is for them too.

Anyway that's my two cents. I've asked the soon-to-be Dr. Risam for her input as well as her arguments are always intelligent and illuminating!


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

How is cutting like eating?

I had a bad day at work. Everything I hate about myself was front and center and seemed to spiral out of control. There are about 20 people I work with on the account I am assigned to and I am really not sure of my role, my responsibilities, or the rules. I also have at least one if not three of what Carlos Castaneda called “petty tyrants.” It’s essentially a snake pit and I was hired – I thought – to clean it up. Now I am not so sure. I apply logic, I come up with solutions, and I am slammed at every turn. By my petty tyrants and by my “friends” I keep being over turned. I make a decision, present it, get buy in, and once I try to DO it, it’s like all my support erodes. I go to a supervisor for support, think I have it, and then again it’s undone.

As the day wore on – and got worse and worse – the stress and frustration built in me. I tried to “feel” how this stress manifested in my body. My toes, fingers, and the top of my head were tingling and numb. The sockets of my eyes were tender and throbbing. My jaw was clenched. My ears were ringing and I could feel the small bones in my ears on fire.

My throat was tight and there was a lump in my throat like I was going to cry/throw up/or both. It felt like there was an elephant sitting on my chest. I couldn’t catch my breath. My heart was pounding. My stomach was churning and there was a soreness in my hips and knees as if I was squeezing all the muscles supporting each joint. My stomach is burning and I feel the acid churning and have a heartburn like sensation. Oh, and I had a headache. Still have it as I type. I feel physically awful.

Stopping the pain is simple. I have an on off switch in my mouth. Well, it’s more of a dimmer switch. When I bit my lip – hard – it stops. When I think about how I feel or what I should do or how I can fix the situation it feels so bit I can’t even process it. I think a couple words or phrases and then I am overwhelmed with one thought… cutting. I want to take a dull knife and carve the top of my lower arm. Not slit my wrists mind you, I just want to cause enough pain in my arm to take away the overwhelming, vomit inducing anxiety of this day.

I DON’T cut myself because I know if I did that would lead to much bigger vomit inducing anxiety so I do 2 things that feel safe. I bite my lip. Hard. And I itch every little tickle MUCH harder than necessary. When I itch or bite it is nearly orgasmic. I am released. Free. I bite harder to squeeze more relief, but it stops works. And so… I eat. When I eat, my tongue is numb. I try to taste the food but I can’t. In the moment I swallow I can’t feel the need to vomit or cry because the tight lump in my throat relaxes. But then the self hate sets in for eating when I am not hungry. For not taking care of myself. For abusing myself with food.

I search for solutions but my head is buzzing. I want to rip my eyeballs out. I check my email, facebook, twitter, I read people magazine, turn on the TV, play with Jesse, anything to distract myself. Anything not to feel like awfulness. I want it to stop but I feel powerless.

As I am writing this I realize the reason my house is clean. The reason I get As on my papers. The reason I turn my assignments in early. I am not a brown noser as I have been accused. I was doing this work to avoid this horrible feeling. But in my current job I can’t avoid the feeling. In my divorce I can’t avoid the feeling. And what I want is to create a life where I never have to feel these feelings. A life when I don’t have to work on a team. A life where I don’t have to depend on other people or be out of control. I want assignments where I can excel because I am in charge of the output and the results are measured on numbers and logic not emotions and relationships.

I had a boss once who called me transactional and it’s true. I see relationships as an exchange. I give you $5. Do you give me $5 worth of value? If not, I move on. What’s insane about my job is the retainer is $60K a month and my own fee is $10K a month but I am not giving $10K in value and I feel I NEED to. That’s what I would expect. Nothing else makes logical sense.

I talked to a friend about my day and she said, and I know she is right, that I created a lot of the days work drama. And I did. I couldn't sit with the account being unclear. I needed to point out every single problem and get them addressed immediately. and when I say I needed to, I mean, I had no sense I had any control over my need to discuss and argue about those things even though I knew I was creating career limiting decisions.

Even though I knew this could get me fired from a job I need. Even though I knew this urge has gotten me fired before. I promised myself I wouldn't complain and argue and point out what needed to be done to fix the situation and yet I KEPT doing it. Making promises to myself and breaking them just like with food. I promise myself I won't finish the sandwich or eat the chips or whatever, and I break those promises over and over.

My friend gave me examples of how she ignores things at work that she sees and kinda would like fixed. And I know she is right - but I don't want to be that kind of "Not my job" type of person. I want to take everything on and fix everything and make it right. I don't want to live with ambiguity or lack of clarity. And it's more than not wanting to. I can't just make a decision not to say something just like I can't make a decision not to eat the bag of chips. I know it's not out of my control but it sure as hell feels like it is.

Biting my lip. Itching too hard. Eating too much. Thinking about cutting. They are all ways I try to escape the feeling of being out of control which is so painful I just don’t feel I am strong enough to tolerate it. If I were - if there was some book - some prayer - some behavioral technique to let me endure the pain instead of trying to escape it, I think I would have found it by now. I have been looking SO hard and for so long.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Vote for WEAVE - Make A Donation without Spending a Dime

I just voted for the charity 'Women Empowered Against Violence' to help their chances of receiving $1 from every 2010 Lilith Music Festival concert ticket sale in Washington, DC - Aug. 3.

As many of you know, I full credit WEAVE with saving my life. Not only did they help me figure out how to get away from my abuser, but they have continued to support me with the most amazing social worker who I am seeing weekly throughout the legal processes associated with my situation at no cost.

The no cost part is key because I am spending tens of thousands on my lawyer! Yet again, WEAVE was there for me when I needed them. I am so grateful to my friends and readers who have donated to WEAVE at my urging in the past. There are so many organizations and needs out there but WEAVE is very special and here is a way to help that won't cost you a dine.

It's a little complicated so please spread the word linking back to this post for more detailed instructions.

1. Become a fan of Lilith Fare on Facebook by visiting and clicking the LIKE button.

2. Selection Washington DC Aug. 3 from the list of cities.

3. Select Women Empowered Against Violence from the list of charities.

If WEAVE gets the most votes of the 5 groups in Washington DC, they will get $1 of every DC ticket sale! It's money desperately needed by WEAVE so that other women like me can escape violence situations and get the legal and emotional help they need.

Please join me in voting for a great cause!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My Coach, Brooke Castillo in Washington DC this Summer!

For years I've been talking about Brooke Castillo - my life coach since 2006 and one of the most amazing people I have ever met in my life. Brooke's a certified North Star life coach and she was trained by Oprah's life coach, Martha Beck. Brooke developed this incredible system which she calls self coaching which I use all the time when I am facing a challenge, if I am stuck, or need to change my perspective on a situation.

I've gone to Brooke's seminars in Lake Tahoe the last couple years and come back with a new perspective and an energy that's unstoppable. The first year I attended, I came back with a commitment to do a triathlon -- I did 4! The second year I was focused on being stuck in my career and within 30 days of returning from the seminar I got a promotions and a $10,000 raise. Within 6 months, I got a new job with another title jump and a $50,000 salary increase - during a recession! Both accomplishments were direct results of the work I did with Brooke in the few short days I participated in her seminars.

Brooke's based out of California and I think all of her live events have been out West. Traveling is a challenge for me now so I figured my days of going to Brooke's seminars had ended, but then I got an idea, what if she did a seminar here, at my house??

And so, in August, Brooke is coming to Washington DC and I'd like to invite you to participate in a seminar that I guarantee will take you to the next level. Brooke's techniques are creative, actionable, and NOT boring. A day with Brooke is a THOUGHT BOOTCAMP!

Check out this video about her style:

Brooke is coming for 2 days (a Saturday and a Sunday), August 14th and 15th and the sessions will last about 8 hours each day. You can come for 1 or both days depending on your budget and schedule. There will be lunch snacks and drinks included in the price. The cost is $250 for 1 day or $399 for both. I'm hoping for a small group so you'll get lots of personal as well as group coaching from Brooke who charges $500+ hour so it will be a great value.

In addition, attendees will be asked to come with a "house gift". The House Gift is your payment to me for hosting this event and here's my price: A pledge or commitment of time, money or other resources for how you will make the world a better place in the next 12 months. It can be as big or small as you want but you will be held accountable for your pledge. The idea of a house gift is based on the Clinton Foundation's program copied, most recently, by Barack Obama at the Nuclear Summit in DC where he required leaders who attended to come with House Gifts. For example, India declared that it will build a center to promote nuclear security. Ukraine, Mexico, Chile, Kazakhstan, Vietnam and Canada agreed to dispose of hundreds of pounds of highly enriched uranium used in civilian facilities. etc etc. These pledges are so powerful because you will make your pledge in front of the group and the group will celebrate when you meet your commitment.

Who should come?

  • Anyone who is stuck in anything - a job, a relationship, your health
  • Anyone who needs a turnaround or a breakthrough
  • Anyone with a BIG problem - a problem that seems insurmountable or exhausting
  • Anyone who secretly thinks they are supposed to be doing more with their life
  • Anyone who is looking for a goal or a passion and just feels blah
  • Anyone who feels like they are running out of time or are in a rush to: lose weight, get married, start a business, have a baby, etc.
What you'll get out of the event?

  • A framework for motivating yourself even when it seems impossible.
  • A set of tools to reframe your past, present and most importantly, your future.
  • A no-nonsense, plain spoken, down to earth guide to how to create the future you want - how to live the law of attraction.
  • Aching sides from belly laughs.
  • New and deeper friendships.
  • Hope.

This is going to be a small group (no more than 10 people per day) so if you are interested, let me know ASAP so I can save you a seat. I'll be linking a form here soon! It's going to be at my house which is in Washington DC near metro and the train and equidistant from Dulles, National, and BWI airports.

RSVP to me directly at

So excited!

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Changing Nature of Birthdays

I love birthdays. Particularly mine. My birthday always feels like the beginning of spring (and not just because it's on March 26th!). There is all the hope and promise of a new year in the air and opportunities seem boundless. For me, it's like getting a second crack at a New Year's Resolution.

My birthday is also usually during or around LENT and while I am not Catholic anymore, I continued to enjoy taking a 40 day break from something to help me realign my priorities. In the past I have given up sugar, milk, wheat, cooked foods and even premarital sex for LENT and I found the experience really awakening. At the end of 40 days (usually right around my birthday) I set what Martha Beck would call a wildly impossible goal -- get a phD, start a theatre company, travel to 4 countries in 12 months, get married, get pregnant, get a promotion, buy a house, complete a triathlon.

Fueled by my Lenten sacrifice and the accompanying hope that goes with Spring and my birthday, I'd just start living as if those goals would be met. As if it were obvious. Almost like I'd already reached the goal. And then viola! another feather for my oft decorated cap!

This year though has felt different. I've been worn down emotionally and financially by a long, protracted legal battle and I'm too exhausted to think up goals. This year, for my birthday, I don't want to plan and execute my next accomplishment, I want to nap. And I don't mean, curl up with a Wally Lamb book and a mocha latte; I mean ball up an old, smelly sweatshirt and crash on the first available horizontal surface.

My life's motto is "The More You Do. The More You Do" and this lack of interest in "doing" is catching me off guard. But yesterday a friend wrote a blog post about balance that made me sit back and reconsider. Maybe this "not doing" is an act of subversion for my system. Maybe this is the most incredible thing I could do this year. Maybe this year I need more of less. And maybe that's okay. Fred wrote: "If we stay too long in an unbalanced situation, the universe acts to restore balance. It throws us to the other side: our health may suffer; our lives may change."

So this year LENT came to me. I didn't need to actively pick something to give up to represent a metaphorical Jesus metaphorically suffering. The suffering came right to my doorstep. The universe has indeed thrown me to the other side. But I'm not looking away. I'm putting the coffee on and inviting Suffering over to my birthday party. I needed a little balance in my life and Mr. Suffering may look like a party-pooper but he comes bearing a gift from the Gods. Mr. Suffering has reminded me that life is not a race or a contest... it's a journey. And a journey requires just the right balance of planning, excitement and activity with spontaneity, relaxation and just plain ol' doing nothing.

And it turns out doing nothing is just fine with me.