Stripes, Spider Veins and Love

I have to laugh at myself. I have stripes up and down my legs—these big swaths of white, alternating with this lovely shade of bronze. And it’s totally self-inflicted: Last night as I stepped out of the shower, I noticed how pale my legs are—which is actually good news. Having spent my formative years in Tucson, Arizona, back in the day before we knew better than to worship the sun—or perhaps, more accurately, worship a suntanned body—I used to bake my skin during the peak burning hours, and only after first basting myself with baby oil. Remember those days? Fortunately, I came to my senses early, and being the good medical reporter I was in my television days, decided to give up the basting and baking. Now, as a result, I have white legs. Upon closer inspection, I also noticed all these little blue and purple spider veins traversing my legs. So I decided to try this sunless tanning spray to spruce things up a bit. Note to self: Not a good idea to do this so close to bedtime, in near darkness and without the assistance of someone to spray your backside. This is the source of my stripes.

Which brings me to the topic of love. In years past, I might have given that backside of mine a good, swift kick for even caring that it was so blinding white. Or for not doing a good job with the simple task of spraying on a bronzer. Or for not doing more to shift the social consciousness from outer to inner beauty. But with age comes softening. With experience comes wisdom. With love comes understanding and compassion for humanity. In other words, I am a middle-aged, wise lover of myself and others. I practice everyday grace. And so, the striped and veined legs make me laugh at myself.

A coaching client and I talked about this very thing this morning. What if we related to everything as love or a call for love? How would that transform our relationship with ourselves? Our relationship with friends and family? With people we don’t like? With policies, governments and countries we don’t like? It would be transcendent.

“In any situation where love does not rule, affirm that only love is real. Say it, repeat it, chant it like a mantra. Allow it to cast out all thoughts of blame and judgment and fear. Think of the mean-spiritedness of someone, then affirm that only love is real. Watch a horrible story on the TV news, then affirm that only love is real. Feel your own fears about this or that, then affirm that only love is real. This does not put you in a state of denial, but rather in a state of transcendence. You are not pretending that something is not really happening, but only that it is not Really happening. And just as the Wicked Witch of the West disappeared when Dorothy threw water on her, no manifestation of fear will long remain once humanity has risen to the understanding that only love is real.”

~Marianne Williamson

I don’t mind my spider veins. I consider them a roadmap of where I’ve been—a life well traveled. And because I’m human and still vain enough not to want to glow in the dark, one more application of bronzing spray to go!

What about you? What could you transcend by interpreting everything as love or a call for love? Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts, humanity and possibility!

Wizard of Oz

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I love “The Wizard of Oz” and how it applies to coaching and how we are as human beings: Like the Wizard, we construct survival mechanisms to hide that we feel small and ineffective. “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” Like the Tin Man, we think we don’t have a heart, or like the Scarecrow we think we don’t have a brain, or like the Lion we think we don’t have courage…when, in fact, we have everything we need—if only we look inside. A wizard isn’t necessary for us to get to where we want to go (although I must say a life coach can be very supportive!); a yellow brick road isn’t necessary to get to where we want to be (although an action plan can be invaluable!)…for we’re already there: There is no place like home. Home is what we carry inside us—whole, perfect, and lacking nothing.

What can you do today that is an expression of the very thing you think you lack? For example, even with close to 30 years of public speaking experience, I often still get scared before I walk onto the platform to speak. It doesn’t make sense, but that’s my humanity. I think, if only I had courage, this would be easier. Then I remember that courage isn’t the absence of fear. It’s acknowledging the fear and doing it anyway. The word courage comes from the Latin root “cor” meaning heart. So courage is a quality that comes from your heart. To be courageous, to be courage, is to bring a full heart to any endeavor in life. As such, courage is already at home inside you.

There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home…

What previously hidden, denied or unknown part of yourself will you express today?

Please share your thoughts, insights and questions below. Your participation provides wisdom that all can benefit from. Thank you!

Denise Yamada © 4/2011

Problems as Opportunities

Everybody has problems. Life is a series of people, events and circumstances that come into our lives—often disguised as “problems.” But problems aren’t really the problem. It’s how we deal with problems that creates our experience of life. What usually happens when we encounter problems? We can get stuck, depressed or angry. We can become unfocused, helpless and defeated. Sometimes we become the ostrich with our head in the sand and pretend there is no problem. Notice how things have a tendency to spiral downward from there? Or how that one problem snowballs into even bigger problems if not addressed in a timely manner—or not addressed at all?

What would be possible if you were to expand the way you think about problems? What would be possible if you asked yourself the question, “What is this problem an opportunity for?” Even asking the question is like opening a door or an invitation, isn’t it?

It’s very powerful to look at “problems” or “breakdowns” as opportunities. When I say “breakdown,” I’m not referring to an emotional or psychological breakdown that might require the care of a mental health professional. It’s simply when something happens that you consider to be a problem or issue—and life just isn’t going the way you want it to go. Here’s an example of what I mean: A few weeks ago, my car broke down in the middle of an off-ramp right by a busy shopping mall—at the height of rush hour traffic. I used this literal and figurative “breakdown” to create opportunities for myself:

  • To request support from my ex-husband. Triple A said it could take as long as 2 hours to get a flatbed tow truck to me. So I asked my ex-husband if he’d be willing to come pick up our son who was with me and take him to an appointment. This meant he would have to leave work early to support me. To even ask something of my ex-husband is huge for me. We’ve been divorced for 12 years, it was a difficult divorce and really hard for me to reconcile this kind of event in my perfectionist world. Fortunately, we have come a loooong way in those 12 years. However, when I’m afraid, to ask him for anything is like an admission of imperfection or weakness. But from Essence—our pure, essential nature—we come from our inner knowingness, our inner strength. From that place, I asked myself what was possible. Magic and miracles can happen from that place. I chose to call my ex, whose office is only about 10 minutes from where my car broke down. He graciously came right away. This also created an opportunity for father and son to spend some extra time together unexpectedly! It also created relationship with my ex-husband, who seemed pleased that I would ask and allow his support, and then to be acknowledged and thanked for it.
  • To request support from a friend the next morning to take my son to camp and bring him home since my car was in the shop. Again, this was a biggie for me: In fear, I’m a team of one. Super hero. The many-breasted mother. Often doing for others without regard for myself. You know how perfectionists get a lot of extra credit and attention for being so over-top-fabulous and efficient? It is also a lonely existence. It takes a lot of energy. We do that perfectionist thing for love and approval, ultimately. There’s a much more satisfying and authentic way to be rather than “perfect” to have what we crave. And that is to be who we really are: Essence. From that place, I could see this was an opportunity for me to reach out to my community, be community, be on the planet like it was a team sport. My friend was happy to take my son to camp for me and, in fact, a regular summer carpool arrangement was born of the request!

All this from looking at the breakdown as opportunity! Asking yourself this one question can shift your experience of life. Life will be full of problems solved; full of wins, successes, action, joy, freedom and power. All of these things inspire you to new heights that you might not otherwise have access to. It takes you from being at the effect of the circumstances, people and events of your life, to being at cause for how things turn out.

So the next time a problem arises in your life, consider choosing another practice: Taking on that problem as an opportunity. I recommend you write or print out the question, “What is this an opportunity for?” and post it in several places as a visual reminder to practice this.

How do you see you might benefit from this practice? Please leave a comment in the box below and share your experience. I’d love to hear from you!