Notes from a Recovering Over-Achiever

I'd rather be whole than good

if you really knew me, i was raised as an enabler (check out this really great definition), trying to prove my worthiness by cloaking it in a pretty package of helpfulness, busyness and achievement. in other words, a classic codependent. the thing about this is, i came to identify myself as useful and good because of my helpfulness and achievements rather than being whole and good simply because i exist. and, in the process, i set up myself and everyone around me with this expectation, even at my own expense. can anyone relate to this? it's a habit, once established, that's very hard to break… especially after 52 years.

as i often share with my clients, i've come to see that we all go through cycles of healing and growth, and that, if we allow ourselves to really feel and be present to them, we can come out the other side with more clarity and completeness. well, if you really, really knew me, i've been in the midst of one of those cycles the last few months with no real clarity other than knowing that i've been in nearly constant physical and mental pain and that i need to continue to stay the course with this incredible discomfort. i liken it to being in the "imaginal soup" of a cocoon… you know, no longer a caterpillar (head popped off, body turning to mush) but not yet a butterfly? like, what the hell am i, anyway?

this deep, painful and undeniable letting go of my old self and yet another layer of ego has come up (uhgain!) and i'm just now feeling like i'm coming out the other other words, i've been "in the trenches" this last few months, mucking about in the dark corners of this lifelong dynamic… and it's been humbling to say the least. sometimes more than i wanted.

Metamorphosis - Dongale Studio

it all came to a head one morning a few weeks ago when i woke up in tears and spent pretty much the whole day crying. i was totally unclear about why until i shared with my husband that i was feeling deeply out of place and totally overwhelmed returning home to California after our beautiful trip to Switzerland. as i talked it out, though, i realized a few things:

1.  in Switzerland i had an experience of being wholly accepted by his family for who i was without my having had to do anything to earn that acceptance. they didn't know anything about my work or accomplishments, my efforts and failures, my compulsive over-achieving or my tendency towards almost constantly comparing myself to others who i view as more successful than me. all they knew and experienced was that i love their brother with all my heart, and that i love to laugh and sing, try new things (foods, languages, experiences) and spend time having meaningful conversations.

2. that this inveterate expectation of myself to be everything for everyone began when my mother, whom i loved very much and with whom i had a very codependent relationship, carried me in her womb.

3. that i must diligently work to give up this pattern of expectation if i want to be happy.

having said that, i imagine that you may be thinking, "Well, duh!"… especially since these are things i've been writing about for years. with all honesty, however, i can say that i have been fully, utterly, humbled by this last round of "learning what i teach." i'm so grateful to Jakob for pointing out to me with such compassion that i am creating my own reality, and that maybe - just maybe - i have some attachments i can give up, and for tenderly holding space and time for me to cry and be "in it." in that space, i got to raise my head above it enough to see that it's time to give up possibly the biggest chunk of the identity to which i've clung for nearly 52 years that is clearly not serving me anymore… the need to "make a difference" in the world, the need to be seen.

in other words, it's time to choose being whole rather than good.

i think what's been brewing as i've been swimming in this soupy space between caterpillar and butterfly is that i'm being re-wired to be moved by what's right in front of me rather than my ego-driven visions and plans for the future. to find my authentic rhythm with life and trust that my muse will return if i just give her some space. it's like the Universe has been forcing me to re-evaluate how i'm being in the world, guiding me to look really deeply at myself and urging me to slough off anything that doesn't feel like an absolute "yes." as i've been listening, mostly i've heard, "just be. it's not time yet." so, i've continued watering and weeding the garden, watching my internal responses to the process (comparison, self-doubt, worry and anxiety about not doing enough), breathing and letting go (allowing myself to enjoy this simple life with the love of my life and our family).

and, as much as my ego wants to press forward with all the plans i'd made for myself, i'm giving myself as much time as i need. i'm learning to… unwind the tightly wound springs of a lifetime of doing, unravel and release the threads of voices other the one that says i'm enough just because i am and for no other reason, unbend the shape i'd twisted myself into believing i had to prove myself and achieve anything in order to justify my existence.

it's not an easy journey for a recovering over-achiever, but it is a necessary one.

as my friend Jordanna shared recently, "The more driven we are to do big things in this world, the less we may allow ourselves to slow down and take full advantage of the lessons that are popping up in front of us to learn. Not only do we risk missing out on the sweetness of life and the many glories that can come from it,... we also risk not receiving the full transformation that comes when we slow down long enough to not only get the lesson, but to be our own teachers and take each lesson a few chapters deeper in the book of life."

life has forced my hand. it's slowed me down without question and i'm finally listening.

what i know for sure is… i matter enough to take this time and dive deeply into what is coming forth now as my deeper layer of authentic expression. it is truly a blessing to have this opportunity to do so and i'm excited for what will come of it, even if it's just spending more time planting seeds and harvesting zucchini.

Figures drawing "Metamorphosis" by Don Gale

A Transparency Story: A Human-Being/Doing/Shoulding

There is something bold abouti have a confession to make. i struggle. pretty much every day. with Being. here. now… and Doing. worrying about the future. stuck in the past.

i've thought about this for a long time and realized that, in writing this month's blog about my experience of Being Bold, i need to be completely honest. Back in December, i had intended to write a bunch of blogs ahead of time - you know, get ahead? i was going to write one about other people i admire who have been bold like Edward Snowden and Nelson Mandela, and about things happening in the world that i want to share boldly like the travesties of the Keystone Pipeline and the NSA. But the truth is, i did not feel like writing. Instead i spent my time preparing for the holidays, buying gifts and making plans for wonderful meals with family and friends.

i kept telling myself, "i should be working on my blogs for January, writing the January newsletter and clearing out my email inbox like i promised myself!" Instead i worked on my Getting That You Matter workshop and spent countless hours posting, tweeting and blasting emails to market it… because, if you really knew me, i was terrified that, after all the years of working towards launching my work in the world, no one would show up and i'd be sitting there in a room full of mostly empty seats - ashamed and alone.

What actually happened was amazing – a miracle really! Twenty four – yes, 24 – brave, bold souls took the chance on me and my invitation, and i witnessed a powerful, inspiring, beautiful process of awakening unfold before my eyes. i really can't tell you (because words have been failing me a great deal since the workshop) what a blessing it was, how gratifying it was, what a precious gift it was – to witness that unfolding in each person who hung in there for the ride. i was truly blown away, finding myself in tears many times over the two and a half days, at their courage, willingness and tenacity. it was long, intense and chock full of information. And here's the kicker – here's why i'm writing what I'm writing:  i am coming to a deeper understanding (and i imagine this may be true for some of you, too) of just how much i struggle most of the time with striking that fine balance between Being and Doing.

i guess what makes this blog as bold as it is is that i have to expose the truth of just how great that struggle can be sometimes here in this body. i know, with all my heart, who we Be is what makes the difference – what really makes us matter. And yet, without the doing, nothing will happen to shift us out of the mess we're in – i mean the global mess. Because, if you haven't noticed, we are in a mess - the biggest one we've ever been in as a species. And, the thing is – we've messed it up, not only for ourselves but for countless others on this precious planet. We have forgotten that we are part of this planet. We've been living under the illusion that we are separate from our mother earth. And in doing so, we have allowed ourselves to treat her, our brothers and sisters, each other and ourselves as though we don't matter at all.

The great paradox is that part of what's gotten us into this mess is forgetting who we are – our Being – which has caused us to allow ourselves to do the terrible, mindless things we've done. We have sacrificed who we really are for what we thought we could do. And we are paying a terrible price which is only going to get higher and higher the more we sacrifice our Being on the altar of our Doing.

So, if you really knew me, i struggle every day with how to balance my Being and my Doing. Why am i writing about this now, at the beginning of what promises to be another powerful year? Because i really believe there is something bold about speaking our truth, admitting what goes on "in here" especially when we're driving in circles in the "bad neighborhood" of our stuck thinking when we forget that we are connected to everything.

i realized that i go through cycles… sometimes i feel really grounded in my being and in my deep faith in my connection to God. Other times, i feel so ungrounded and stuck in my doing, flailing around wondering where i "lost" my connection to God. Do you experience that? i make up that most of us do from time to time. So, here's my request. i'd really like to hear your thoughts. What do you struggle with? How do you "should" on yourself? How do you get stuck in your Doing? And how do you reconnect to your Being? I look forward to your comments and stories, and i promise i'll reply. This is an important conversation.

Next time, i'll write about all those big, bold things and people. Today, i get that i matter. Today, i'm really happy to Be here. Today, i hope you are, too.

If you really knew me

to be perfectly transparent (in honor of this month's Being Game), i'm in a quandary. this month, i feel pulled to write about so many things… there is so much to be transparent about! so, instead of focusing on one thing, i decided to make a list of the things (some are long enough to be blogs in themselves, some are just one-liners) that go through my mind and heart on a regular - sometimes even daily - basis, just to let you into my world a little more. so, without further ado, if you really knew me, you would know that…

  • i'm experimenting with using no capitals when i write - just to see how it feels. kinda fun. i like it, especially using "i" instead of "I" when i write about myself.
  • i think, cry and rage about tragedies like what happened to Treyvon Martin and the sad truth that we are still a deeply racist country. i often feel confounded that, although it was born out of a deep desire to create freedom for all by escaping the tyranny of oppression in England, our country has repeated history by continuing to allow racism to run rampant within its borders. i remember when i was in junior college, i briefly dated a young man who was African American. he was one of at most a handful of black people on campus and he was one of the most cheerful, outgoing people i had met there. when he told me a story of being run out of my home town at the end of a rifle one day when he was there for a basketball tournament, i felt deeply ashamed of my community and that this kind of appalling behavior was still going on. that was over 30 years ago. sadly, we still have a long way to go.
  • i love spending time with my extended family, and notice how easily i can still get triggered by others' behaviors (far less than i used to, but still…argh…). someone told me that the Dalai Lama once said something like, "If you want to test your enlightenment, spend a week with your family." ah yes… well, i must not be enlightened yet! what i'm realizing, though, is that the anger i feel is actually awesome because it's connected to a growing fierceness, like a mama bear, that's simply not willing to put up with bullshit anymore. it doesn't mean i have to be angry at my (usually male) relatives forever, but that i can express it honestly and with ferocity as a powerful stand for and with the oppressed feminine. it actually feels good - a bit awkward, but definitely empowering!
  • an intense gratitude washes over me at least once a week at the beauty of where i live… sometimes followed by a pang of guilt that it's indelibly linked to the privilege i have by virtue of being born into a family that allows me to live here. but mostly i feel really grateful. (here's a photo of our small pond so you can get a sense of it.)

Ranch Landscapes

  • this story brought me to tears of gratitude and hope… i feel so inspired by these two courageous young men and the woman who couldn't walk away. as Adam Mordecai, the gentleman who shared it, wrote, "and remember not to take things for granted."
  • i wish there was a way to encourage every single home owner or person with at least a small plot of soil nearby to wage the most powerful revolution we could ever imagine right from our own backyards by growing our own food, participating in a community garden, or at least shopping as exclusively as possible at local farmers markets (inquiring kindly about their practices, and buying things like grains and beans at locally-owned grocery stores they can trust - hopefully, cooperatively owned, like Rainbow Grocery in SF). i truly believe one of the most patriotic things we could do as individuals, families and communities, is to reclaim the Victory Garden movement (here's a photo of my teeny, tiny attempt at a garden). If we all did it, that would be a real statement, eh?!?!

barn apt outside

  • i don't buy anything packaged hardly at all anymore (it's very, very rare). i make as much of my own stuff as possible (i.e. fermented foods, nutmilks, etc.). it's meant a real commitment to adjusting my eating habits and to being willing to give up eating whatever i want whenever i want, but it's do-able and far more sustainable/ethical in my book. i also store all of my food in glass jars, for the most part, thus avoiding the use of plastic as much as possible. my belief is that the best way to change the big picture is to do so right here at home. if we all changed our purchasing, eating and storage habits in simple ways, Monsanto (for example) would crumble to its knees... and... it will take a real, concerted commitment on each of our parts.
  • i'm in a constant dilemma about stepping more fully into what i'm here for by being of service to the world "out there," traveling to far away places versus the longing to stay tucked away in the woods and dig in more deeply to this wonderful community.
  • i just watched Avatar for the third time in less than two weeks (yeah, i know, i'm kind of a movie nerd - i even watched the special features a couple of times). this movie, along with the matrix and a few others, is, in my humble opinion, one of the movies that needs to be seen in every middle- and high school classroom in the U.S. although i've heard (and don't necessarily disagree with) many criticisms of how it's just an alien version of Dances WIth Wolves and perpetuates a lot of stereotypes , Avatar is one of the most powerful platforms for some of the most important conversations students will ever have in their young lives. this message is so profound, i can't help but offer a few lines from Jake Sully as he undergoes a profound and life-changing transformation from an apathetic paraplegic ex-Marine to a caring strong, awakening Avatar:
    • "This is how it's done. When people are sitting on shit that you want, you make them your enemy. Then you justify the taking."
    • "If you're there, I need to give you a heads up…. see the world we come from. There's no green there. They killed their mother, and they're going to do the same here…. You chose me for something. I will stand and fight. You know I will, but I need a little help here."
    • "The Sky People have sent us a message that they can take whatever they want and no one can stop them. But we will send them a message…. We will show the Sky People that they cannot take whatever they want, and that this, this is our land."
    • "Everything is backwards now… like out there [the Navi world] is the true world and in here [the human world] is the dream."
    • "They're not going to give up their home. They're not going to make a deal. For what? A light beer? And blue jeans? There's nothing that we have that they want.
  • i really encourage you to watch it if you haven't lately. with an open mind and an open heart, and see if you don't feel moved to do even one small thing differently in your life.
  • i wholeheartedly agree with this line from Avatar… "All energy is only borrowed… one day you have to give it back."
  • i am appalled (to put it very mildly) at the absolute short-sightedness (to put it extremely mildly) of "projects" like the XL pipeline here in North America and the Belo Monte dam in Brazil. sometimes i ask myself, in my moments of despair and exasperation, "When will we f-ing wake up?!?!?!" Then I hear Sigourney Weaver say (in a documentary about James Cameron's trip to Brazil in 2010), "Brazil has a plan for 60 dams all over the Amazon…. It's terrible to sacrifice these people, this river and this country's riches and the rainforest… for a little bit of electricity that's not even efficient," and say to myself, as my friend Shanan coined, "we need to wake up sheeple!"
  • i will continue to share this quote by Paul Hawken as long as necessary, "If you look at the science that describes what is happening on earth today and aren't pessimistic, you don't have the correct data. If you meet the people in this unnamed movement and aren't optimistic, you haven't got a heart." (Blessed Unrest)
  • i've been doing a lot of deep thinking, writing, meditating, pondering… and, i have to say, something is shifting in this mind and heart. i feel as if i am waking up on a whole new level. i don't feel any less passionate about these things i spoke about above, but i do feel as if there is something fundamentally shifting in how i attach to my ideas of right and wrong. although i feel very strongly about many issues (as you can see- and this is just the tip of the iceberg!), what i'm finding is that a deep peace is growing inside, which, if were perfectly transparent, i would say could border on denial but doesn't because i still feel outraged and grief-stricken by so much of what happens in our world on a regular basis. as Grace said in Avatar, "The wealth of this world isn't in the ground. It's all around us. The Navi know that and they are fighting to defend it. If you want to share this world with them, you need to understand them." maybe that's what's going on - i'm trying to understand this planet and it's inhabitants on a level i never have before.
  • i hold a weekly (unless i'm out of town) meditation group at my house and nobody has shown up the last 3 times. sometimes i feel sad about it, but mostly i just go with the flow and trust that folks will eventually start showing up… or not. i'm committed to holding this space for my community, and that feels like the most important thing.
  • this sunday evening i invited everyone in that group to come to our beautiful meadow and meditate with the full moon… it was absolutely gorgeous. and no one showed up. as i sat there feeling quite content and just a smidgen lonely, i realized that i have a really deep longing for someone besides God with whom to watch the moon rise….

so, here's to moonrises, anger, passion, trust, truth and faith, among many other things… here's to you, me and all of us getting that we matter enough to stand up and be a voice for change, for the new world we are birthing right now… and, above all else, here's to Love. to close with a quote from Avatar, "Our great mother does not take sides…. She protects only the balance of life." thank you for indulging me this week.

i'd really love to know… what do you think about on a daily basis? what angers you, inspires you, brings you to tears? what would we know if we really knew you?  your turn!

Being Transparent

With That Moon Language

Admit something:

Everyone you see, you say to them, "Love me."

Of course you do not do this out loud, otherwise someone would call the cops.

Still, though, think about this, this great pull in us to connect.

Why not become the one who lives with a full moon in each eye

that is always saying,

with that sweet moon language,

what every other eye in this world is dying to hear?



Being Tranparent Game

This month our wonderful team is taking on Being Transparent. What if we always said what there was to say: about ourselves, what we thought about the world around us, or each other.  What if we took responsibilty for our part in what we thought and believed about ourselves, the world around us, and others?  What if instead of avoiding truths- whether difficult to share or not- we spoke bravely?What if we were all whistle-blowers on our egoic mechanisms and we spoke up when we were feeling separate, guilty, or sad?  What if we gave up those stories of not being good enough or believing, thinking, acting, and speaking that another was not either?  What if we outed ourselves every time we created a disempowering story about ourselves or any body else?


Consider that when one person tells the truth about what is going on in their heads (what they are not saying), it gives others the courage to do the same. It may just give us all a chance to be just a little bit more present and real with one another.  Every time we blow the whistle on the little lies we tell ourselves about ourselves and others, the truth is dislodged from where we've hidden it and consider this gives us the freedom, if only for a moment, to be ourselves.  Consider being transparent gives us the opportunity to allow others to hold that disempowering belief or thought with us and help us to see that it may not actually be the truth of who we are. Suddenly, who we really are rises closer to the surface and perhaps we are all just a little bit closer to experiencing who we really are and what we are capable of.


GTYM has been fortunate enough to work with an incredible company right now called Outer Aisle Foods. Through our Sacred Commerce work with them, we've been witnessing some tremendous examples of the power of the tool of transparency. Consider what seems like the smallest gesture of truth, sharing, for example, that your feeling defensive in the middle of a difficult conversation, could just break down the barriers that created that conflict in the first place.

What if an honest world is one that heals faster, creates more awareness of the abundant blessings we all have access to, and ultimately is more workable in getting things done in the most efficient and often more inspiring way than other approaches to life, work, and and relationships.  Transparency, that is to say, saying what is there is to be said about what is actually going on as a policy, moves mountains, breaks down the highest and thickest of walls between us, and firmly plants common ground for easier co-existence in our daily lives.


Transparency isn't always easy.  It's hard to be honest with ourselves about how we feel or think about things especially when we are focused on the fear of how taking the risk of being vulnerable may impact our lives.  However consider that transparency is the great door stopper of the universe- it keeps the doors to our hearts cracked open just enough to let the light of other's hearts in and out and ultimately reveal deeper truths and provide fertile ground for more trust-worthy relationships.  Being transparent about yourself in a situation is like saying to others, "hey, it's okay, I'm human too! It's safe to be human around me. Let's work on finding a solution now that we've gotten that fearful thinking out of the way."  Transparency about others or a situation when it is delivered in a responsible way (using "I" statements and keeping our sharing to our experience) is one of the bravest acts one can take.



What about you?  We invite you to try it out.  What are you not saying and how might saying it have you experience more freedom to be you?