Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Your Independence Day

Are you passive or active?

For the first time, I want to share the story - albeit the intensely condensed version - of How I went from a painfully passive girl to a boisterously proactive woman.

My first diary entry was January 1, 1983. It would take me 17 more years to (finally) come of age. I had no idea.

That "coming of age" had nothing to do with sex, drugs, or rock and roll. Really. Instead, it had everything to do with a series of subtle, simple (from the outside looking in), and gradual transformations.

I wasn't much for the rebellious type - I didn't see the point. Skipping class in college was perfunctory (only) if I was still able to get a 4.0 that semester. I spent my summers as a mission/aid worker but my quasi-friends and I still managed to get ourselves evicted from our sophomore year beach house (yea, that's a first and only admittance to that). I have little to no wild and crazy stories, except for some people might call the summer I decided to travel to Italy alone a spontaneous, extroverted thing to do.

In fact, I did what many women do - I married and finished grad school, took my first job, quit my first job, and started my own business - that consumed about 10 years of my life.

Then it came...when the cracked dish of my world finally fell into two pieces, and I (finally) admitted I had to stand up and declare my independence.

As a woman and a human being – May 26, 2004 was My Turning Point.

That day I made the first decision in my life - without seeking every one's approval. Heck, I distinctly remember not even asking for anyone’s opinion. I was liberated.

Are you an Approval Addict?

How often do we, as women, seek nods of approval before we set out to do something? anything? everything?

We are often guilty, as I was, of being an “Approval Addict." For years I pursued and pushed and followed through on all major (and minor) life tasks...and all the way I sought every one's smiling blessing.

Ironically though, I found myself at the bottom of the blessing-giving list. I really had no clue I never really wanted to do many (okay, alot!) of the things that I had willingly chosen to do in life - until My Turning Point.

My well being – my happiness - my health - was dead last.

My Turning Point was a day I will never forget. I never want to forget it. It was as Charles Dickens wrote, "the best of times and the worst of times."

It was my Independence Day.

Sure, I had experienced small epiphanies here and there, and still do - Oprah like "aha" moments, "coming out of the dark" moments where I see what my Life could and should be.

But I was not "that" kind of girl. I was not that kind of woman either - one to stand up and speak out. I was, after all, a southern born, conservative bred girl - at least on my birth certificate.

However, I finally began to realize that my background, or any woman's background - north, south, east, west, and of any religious, spiritual, or political background - is exactly the upbringing she needs. Now is a perfect time, no matter your situation - to be empowered - to stand up - to speak your mind - and if need be - create plenty of waves for positive change.

Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History ~ Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Declaring Your Feminine Independence

I have learned a few things in this life so far, and I have and will always have many more to learn. Learning never ends. But in the meantime, here are a few of those things that steer me since My Turning Point. And really, these don't just apply to womankind - they apply to humankind.
  • Consult those you trust, but don’t seek their approval. Instead, seek their wisdom.
  • Spend time alone. Solitude has a way of creating clarity. Quite often, when indecision plagues you, time spent alone can bring answers.
  • Make no apologies. I spent the better part of 15 years making fear based decisions - fear of rejection - fear of not pleasing everyone. I was chronically seeking everyone's approval but my own.
  • Stand firm on your Spiritual Roots. Seek out the Belief system that grounds you. If you do not have those Roots, 2010 is the perfect time to set out and discover them. Spiritual maturity can help you make better decisions - ones with Permanent or Eternal Value.
  • When faced with indecision - do what one of my very wise spiritual mentors taught me – “Pray - and then do the next right thing.” Do what you know is Most Right, based on what your past has taught you, where you are now, and where you WANT to go.
  • Transformation can happen through Pursuit of Your Passion. Not unbridled, "fly by the seat of your pants" passion - but measured, thoughtfully pursued Passion. The transparency I offer up on this blog is to help all women. It is a Passion. But whatever yours is - Find It. Pursue It. Own It - for the little time you do have on Earth.
For every decision you are faced with, you can work toward "doing the next Right Thing" by asking yourself the following questions:
  1. Should I ___________(the decision you are faced with) based on my past experiences and what I have learned from them?
  2. Should I ___________ considering where I am in my life right now?
  3. Should I ___________ considering where I want to go in my life or where I want to be in the future (1 year, 5 years, 10 years or more from now)?
Anything that is Alive must (can) Change. If you need it, 2010 can be Your Banner Year, Your Turning Point.

*this photo was taken in 2004, with my longtime best friend, Owen, who was and has been with me through it all. In less than 3 months, he will be 15 years old. God Bless Owen.

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