Archive for the ‘self-esteem’ Category

Eleven Years Ago Yesterday, I Married my Best Friend.

So, what did we do for our anniversary? Sat across from each other in the living room with our dueling laptops to see who got their post written first! Then we celebrated with dinner and a movie.

I love writing, but it can take me the whole day to put one of these things together! Arrgghh! I need to speed up, or just retire and be a full-time writer. How does Kim do it?

But there was Steve across the room, tap-tap-tapping away. I had to get tapping too. Nothing like a little marital competition to get the juices flowing.

Steve is actually a really good writer. I did not know this about him before we were married. I’m an English teacher for goodness sake! He, on the other hand, actually writes. Sigh. He’s thoughtful about it, like he is about everything he does. He types with two fingers. I type with twelve.

I discovered his gift for words in the MIDDLE of our wedding. We each had written a portion of our vows, then read them to each other in the ceremony. I had been rushed with all the wedding preparations and had put off writing the vows (Procrastination is the name of one of my personal gremlins). Steve had given himself some time and space to hear his own heart in what he wanted to say. So when he read his vows to me during the ceremony, his words were so deep, intimate, personal, and straight out of his heart with tears in his eyes, I began to tremble. First because I was so moved by the huge pulsating heart that came with this man I was marrying. And second because I was next!

My vows felt flat and superficial compared to his. Not that we should be comparing or anything (but Comparison is the name of another personal gremlin). What I learned from my husband that day was, take the time to go deep, and marry a man with a giant heart!

So, here’s where I put in my shameless plug for my Break Through Into Love coaching group. This is an opportunity for single women over 30 to experience the benefits of working with a professional coach, while creating a small community who can support each other along the way.

In preparation, I’ve been reading the book Conscious Dating by David Steele. As I read, I’m beginning to get a clearer picture about why I made Steve wait five long years – and why it took me until I was 40 (FORTY) to get married.

We all get stuck at times in patterns that keep us from living the life we were created for. Sometimes, all it takes is a small shift in our perspective and new choices appear that we didn’t know we had.

Ah, if only…. We might be celebrating our fifteenth anniversary today!

I’m realizing that for most of my 20s and 30s I was unconsciously dating. Drifting into and out of whatever relationship presented itself. I longed oh so much to fall in love and to have someone sweep me off my feet. But I see now that I was for most of those two decades incapable of such a feat. Here’s why.

A. I had a false image of myself. I had constructed a fantasy out of who I thought the people I looked up to wanted me to be.
B. Because of A., I had no idea how to love another; I was too busy looking for someone who would help me fulfill my fantasy.
C. Because of B., I got into relationships with men I didn’t love. And of course, it never worked.
D. Because of C., I broke a lot of hearts: Genuine, honest men, who cared about me and were seriously looking for a life partner. Eventually, as they would get more serious, I would get more panicky until I would break it off.

Finally, after hitting the wall in a disastrous relationship, I stopped – swore off men, and began meeting informally with a coach, and my entire perspective on life began to shift. When I began to let go of the false image of myself, and lift my eyes outward, I began to see Steve, maybe for the first time. When I stopped focusing on who he isn’t, I began to see and appreciate who he is. The more I let go of my old perspective, the more deeply in love with him I fell. Within a year, we were engaged.

That’s why I’m such a believer in coaching and why I want to offer the opportunity to single women over 30 to gain clarity about this most important choice.

If you’re stuck in an unproductive pattern in your relationships, check in with your own heart. What view of yourself are you trying to hold on to? What might be possible if you were to release it? I’d love to hear your comments.

If you know a single woman over 30 who lives in Sonoma County and who is looking forward to life-long love, please let her know about the Break Through Into Love group coaching program beginning October 19. And let her know about my free Evening of Hope, happening this Wednesday, October 5, where she’ll get to experience new possibilities in her life and perspective.

Ha! My post got done first. 🙂

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Saying Good Bye

Why must we do it? It’s always so hard.

Birthday Breakfast

It was a bit overwhelming to see all the warm wishes from Facebook Friends and blog readers, and to receive calls from family and friends. So much love to share. My brother Guy’s birthday is the day after mine. He’s three years older than me. Except on July 8. Then he’s only two years older. Somehow this makes him feel younger! He called to say I shouldn’t be staying up so late now that I’m old. I need to eat my tapioca pudding and go to bed. I told him not to make me laugh or I’ll have to put on my Depends. Today is his birthday, and once more he’s three years older than me. Happy Birthday, Guy.

A big highlight was a phone call from my two-year old granddaughter Eden. She sang me Happy Birthday. All our grandkids call me Nannie ,or Nonni, or Nani. We can never figure out how to spell it. It was the sweetest little song that made me laugh and warmed my heart. I can’t wait to see her again.

Last night Harrah and her friend John took me out to dinner at Shepherds Pie. It’s the hottest thing to ever happen to the little village of Rockport – at least that’s what Harrah says. The “downtown” seems to consist of three or four quaint old buildings stretched out on half a city block. Funny though… those few buildings are an Opera House, an Art Gallery, and now Shepherds Pie. You must go somewhere else if you want to buy groceries or sundries or go to the bank. But if you want to walk to a great dinner, you’re in business. This little restaurant seems to always be packed. We got there around 8:30 and had to pressure people to leave in order to get three seats at the bar.

I say “we”, but I mean Harrah. She seems to know everyone in this little town, and she somehow managed to get us prized seats right at the corner of the bar.

Me, Harrah, John

John and Harrah had the cheeseburger, ‘cause apparently it’s fantastic. I couldn’t decide, had difficulty reading the menu in the dark, felt a bit of pressure because they had already decided and the bar tender, Dennis, was busy and was taking our order. I almost said “I’ll have what they are having,” just to relieve the pressure. But I just didn’t want a cheeseburger for my fiftieth birthday. So I asked Dennis what he recommended. I ended up with the fried clam tacos. I wish I could explain how delicious these were. I only know that I’m glad I spoke up and didn’t just settle for what everyone else was having. It was amazing. Ding! She made up her own mind, got clear about what she wanted, took a risk, and was deeply satisfied. Ding! Small victories when turning fifty.

Delicious Deserts by Candle Light

For dessert I had a 20-year-old Ferreira tawny port, the smoothest most delicious elixir I can remember tasting, along with a chocolate pots de creme which had little crunchy nibs of raw cocoa beans. Wow. Harrah had strawberries and cream, with a hint of pepper. John had pineapple upside down cake, soaked in some kind of delicious liqueur. Ooooh lah lah! Thank you John and Harrah for a lovely birthday dinner.
Last night Harrah & I stayed up and talked waaayyy too late. Couldn’t help it. We’ve been talking about my old struggle with feeling like I should or could be doing something else, rather than embracing what I am doing now – with gratitude – with purpose – with acceptance. And to stop listening to the should voice, the disappointment about how things turned out. I feel like I have been working on this one my whole life. Probably always will be. It’s tied to deep childhood expectations. Right now I feel like I’m further behind than I’ve ever been, and I’ll never get there. But there is a moment by moment choice. It’s a perspective I choose as quickly as a breath, or a silent prayer. Oh when will I arrive? When will I get this thing figured out? The older I get the less I know. Is this a mid-life crisis?
This morning, I said my goodbyes to Harrah. It was quick. Like pulling off a band aid or killing a chicken. Make it quick to minimize the pain and the drama.
John graciously drove me to Portland to catch the bus to go to the airport to fly to Sandy. Gave me a lovely hour and a half to become acquainted with this interested kind gentleman.
Right now, I’m writing this in transit from Boston via Atlanta to Alexandria to meet Friend Number Three – Sandy… or Sannie as I like to call her. I’d post it, but all the airport’s promises of free wi-fi are reserved only for the special people who know the code, have paid their dues, and look like really important business people. I get into Alexandria, God willing, at 9:00 tonight. Probably will post this sometime tomorrow.

He’s Just Not That Into You

Last week, Steve was at a conference in San Diego for about five days, so I got to experience living alone again.… It brought back old familiar feelings, an emotional cocktail made up of the pleasure of independence, mixed with confusion about what to do with myself, with a shaker of boredom, and a big shot of loneliness.

I ended up settling in by the fire (yes fire in May… it was pouring rain and freezing cold… but I digress), with our dog Wallace at my feet, and read an entire book. As I am exploring relationships in my coaching practice, someone had recommended the book He’s Just Not That Into You, by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo, writers for the hit TV show Sex in the City. Now… I have to tell you, I’m no real fan of the show. I’ve watched it a few times, and sometimes it’s pretty funny…. Don’t tell anyone and call me old fashioned, but to my friends, I call it Sluts in the City. So, I was pretty skeptical when I picked up this book, but I thought… what the heck. Steve’s out of town, it’s raining, I’m bored, and my beloved dog is at my feet.

It’s pretty light weight compared to some of the other books I’m currently reading, like Undefended Love and Intimate Allies. But I did discover something refreshingly wonderful about this little book. It was written primarily by a man to an audience of single women basically telling them how NOT to settle for a man who’s “just not that into you”. It was like a splash of cold water on my face. Of course! We’re so quick to make excuses for men who don’t love us. What are we thinking, girlfriends??!! We are worth being loved, and it is just plain silly to waste our time on anything less. I laughed out loud during parts of the book, startling poor Wallace from his dreamy trance.

At the end of each chapter, there’s a checklist of the things you should have learned. Seems obvious, but how many of us have not really learned these yet?

  • An excuse is a polite rejection. Men are not afraid of “ruining the friendship.”
  • If you can find him, then he can find you. If he wants to find you, he will.
  • “Hey, let’s meet at so-and-so’s party/any bar/friend’s house” is not a date. Even if you live in New York.
  • Men don’t forget how much they like you. So put down the phone.
  • You are good enough to be asked out.
  • If he’s not calling you, it’s because you are not on his mind.
  • Don’t be with someone who doesn’t do what they say they’re going to do.
  • There is no excuse for cheating. Let me say it again. There is no excuse for cheating. Now you say it. There is no excuse for cheating.
  • It doesn’t count unless he says it when he’s sober.
  • You deserve to be with someone who is nice to you all the time. (You have to be nice to them, too.)
  • Freaks should remain at the circus, not in your apartment.

I think the hardest part about this is the fact that we women so long to be loved, that we settle for what we think might possibly eventually perhaps turn out to maybe be something that looks kind of like love… i.e. I think he might like me….or at least he’s better than nothing. Another quote in the book is “Better than nothing is not good enough for you.”

What do you think?

Respect Yourself

Don’t compromise yourself. You’re all you’ve got. — Betty Ford

The woman

whose husband abandoned her

and their children

and their debts

for a young hottie

and moved out of state

with no forwarding address….

…has struggled

To find her own two feet.

To stand on her own

Oh to be rescued!

What a powerful compelling temptation

Only to discover

That rescuers need rescuing themselves.

Stop the madness.

Stop

Breathe

Find your soul

Give yourself time to grieve

To heal

To discover your own heart.

You are stronger than you think.

Your old life is gone.

It will never come back.

Let it go, and good riddance.

Embrace your new life.

Discover who you are.

Mine the resource in your soul.

Receive the Gift of Grace on your life.

Find your gratitude.

Find your strength.

Stand up.

There are worse things

Than being alone

and you are not alone.

Love your children.

“But my children need a father.”

But their father is gone.

TRUST

God is their Father

He will provide.

What they DON’T need

Is a revolving door of rescuers.

What they DO need

Is YOU.

Undivided

Forgiving

Learning to trust in God.

All in good time

They will learn to love themselves

And so will you

And you will love again

For the first time.

LOVE: The Banquet or The Crumbs?

“You are an invited guest at the banquet, so why are you sitting under the table gathering crumbs?” My dear friend Jean Jobs asked me that question about twelve years ago. And the struggle to answer it has made all the difference.

True Love: We all long for it, to have someone with whom we can let down our guard and be truly ourselves, who will encourage us to be our best selves, who will truly know us… not just the “us” we want others to see, but the true neurotic, imperfect crazy us… and still love us, still think we hung the moon. And will allow us to know and love them in the same way. Oh to be truly known and truly loved and to feel truly safe with another person and with ourselves. That’s true freedom – the banquet….

We all want it… so why why why is it so dang hard?

Does any of this sound familiar?

Susie, who has been abandoned by her husband for some other woman, begins a succession of new relationships with men who at first seem so great, but in the end, don’t respect her. Her teenage daughter is learning from her mother and the men in her life that she has no value and is not to be respected. What should she do? Give up? Join a convent?

Dorene, hates to admit it, but she has never been on a date. She doesn’t understand why no one ever asks her out, but she tries to hold her head high and go about her life. She has just about resigned herself that she’ll remain single the rest of her life, and she’s doing the best she can to be happy in the process. Still, she hopes…

Sally is married to a very passionate powerful man. Sweet, you say? Sweet until you realize that Sally is quite passionate and powerful herself and isn’t really comfortable fitting in to the Barbie-on-the arm role. She loves her husband dearly and he loves her, but she’s battling the demons that want to keep her small and weak and needy and compliant.

Then there’s me… single until I was 40. Waiting forever for the man of my dreams to ask me out. Dating the men who were nice enough, but were not the men of my dreams, because I couldn’t bear to be alone, and at least they made me feel desirable…. Because, deep down, I didn’t think I was good enough for the men who really attracted me. So, confused about who I was “supposed” to be, and who I was “supposed” to be with, I said yes when I should have said no, and no when I should have said yes, and generally made a mess of my relationships and hurt a lot of people, including myself. Eating the crumbs under the table.

So what’s the common thread here ladies?

I think the thread is that we don’t know who we are. If we did know, I mean in our guts know who we truly are as daughters of God, we would stand up tall and straight, look our  men in the eyes, and speak the truth about ourselves and about the relationship we are willing to create with them. We would respect and love ourselves and respect and love them enough to hold out for that relationship, and nothing less. And in doing so we would teach our men to respect and love us, and in the process to respect themselves.

Personal Plug…. Check out my Valentine Gift to all my Single Friends and Fans (and YOUR single friends and fans). I’m offering this because I feel passionately that while we are busy blaming others for our failed relationships, we are missing the opportunity to make the changes within ourselves that will set us up for a successful life-long love affair. Go ahead… take the plunge. What do you have to lose?

Powerful Woman Plays it Safe

I spoke to a young woman recently who told me that she goes to a church where she feels like she is known only as the mother of her two children. She loves being a mom and adores her children, but she also has a career, is in business with her husband, and had a breadth of world-wide experience before coming to this little church. In her church the men have careers and the women are the support, keeping the children and the house. There’s something about this structure that attracts my new friend, probably to balance the chaos she grew up in. However, she feels stifled, unable to fully be herself, afraid that others would put up walls if she spoke what she really thought or felt. She admitted that she can be pretty intense.

On the other hand, at her work, she is surrounded by people from all faiths, or no faith, and all kinds of alternative lifestyles. At work she can breathe and be herself. People at work know she’s a Christian, and that she loves them, and they love her. Though the subject doesn’t often come up, speaking about her faith is as natural as breathing. She extends love to those who are different from her without judgment, and they extend love back. Recently, one of her atheist co-workers approached her with many deep and honest questions about her faith in God. She was able to share freely and openly. She had earned the trust and respect of her co-workers through her love and acceptance of them.

My friend is struggling with her feelings about her church family. She is clearly a powerful woman, but she honestly believes that to be in relationship with other Christian women, she has to stifle her power, and squish herself into a little box. The only acceptable role for her is mother of her two children. She can’t imagine the women in her church having a conversation with people like the ones at her work. Yet this is exactly what the world is crying out for.

I asked her what would happen if she just lived her life out-loud wherever she was, at church, at home, at work, with her girlfriends. She said that she would be very lonely because people would put up walls against her. I challenged her to consider how different that would be from the loneliness she feels now, being in a community of people who don’t really see her, stuffing her true self into a little box that doesn’t fit who she is.

Thinking about this conversation on my way home, it occurred to me that our power as women is not something to be stifled. When it comes from a heart of love, it is an unstoppable creative force in the world. What a difference my friend could make if she simply shared her heart courageously and openly with the others in her church. When our power is mixed with judgment, its power is destructive. The women in my friend’s church are using their power to pull each other down into safe, predictable little boxes. Probably not realizing how destructive this is, not only for their church community, but indirectly for the larger community around them. Their absence has an impact.

I challenge the assumption that as women we should fear and stifle our own power. I believe that as we fill our hearts with the authentic love of God, we have the power to regenerate and heal our culture.

I love Marianne Williamson’s quote – yes my Christian friends, she is a popular not-so-Christian best-selling author and speaker….

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?” Actually who are you not to be?

YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to manifest the glory that is within us. And as we let our light shine we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Let’s stop pretending to be smaller than we are. Live in the fullness of who you were created to be, and watch God transform the world.

Fawn Gilmore Kraut, CPCC
Life and Career Transitions Coach