In many ways 2016 was a year of culminating experiences for me. Many of the balls I put into motion a few years ago either hit their target or rolled to a final and full stop. I’m very excited to be kicking off 2017 with a new series called Infinite Wednesdays. This first set of four monthly Wednesdays is designed to explore the idea of authenticity and what it means, not just as a buzz word, but in our day-to-day lives. With over 1 million Google hits on book titles including the word “authenticity”, with the constant push of clever marketing programs to sell our own authenticity back to us, it is ever more important to connect with what it means to be authentic.
Speaking of authenticity, I have to come clean about something.
I’m answering a calling that I don’t fully understand yet. I’m not going to pretend to have all of the answers. I hear a call to offer this new series and to do the coaching work described on my website. I know that this calling, which became louder and louder each year since 2012, is not something I can ignore. I know that the sum of all of my experiences as a daughter, sister, mom, wife, now-single mom, professional, business owner, friend and neo-shamanic practitioner add up to give me the unique voice and perspective that some of you will find powerful. I’m not the next shiny new coach on the block. I’m not the magic bullet or the knight in shining armor you have been waiting for. But I’m committed to living as authentically as I can and to sharing with you, your teams, and friends all that I have learned in this process of “becoming”.
Why am I so committed to sharing everything I’ve learned with you?
I was the first daughter of unconventional parents, a child of the 70’s. My parents knew they didn’t want to do things like their parents had. They knew they wanted to follow their respective muses. The culture, by all evidence seemed to support this. In particular my dad showed a deep hunger to answer his calling in the direction of writing, film and making music. He was political. He was critical. He saw and felt it all. Despite his intelligence and privileges, or perhaps because of them, he was trapped and unable to become the man he was born to be. By the time my parents split up (I was six), my dad was firmly entrenched in dulling pain and simulating freedom with alcohol and weed. Nothing wrong with that on the surface, but it had gotten hold of him. He was not able to get out of his pain cage enough to show up as a father and as a man.
There’s far more to my dad’s story, but it’s not mine to tell. It’s enough to say that from the vantage point of a sensitive, wide-eyed daddy’s girl, I saw and felt a lot of what he saw and felt. He didn’t know how aware I was. I saw and felt a man, in his prime, giving up on his dreams and giving up on himself. The fallout was that he gave up on me too. Maybe it’s my way of protecting him and myself, but I don’t blame him for giving up. I saw then (and see now even more) a tidal wave of cultural pressure to conform; to smooth away rough edges; to “become” something or someone; to chase fame and wealth. I saw how that hurt him. How it hurt me. I think it’s what put in him in his early grave at 64.
I can forgive a man for not fighting harder, but I cannot forgive the culture that broke him. The only hope is to change it.
I have spent a big chunk of my life trying to “become” myself, without becoming a part of the bankrupt system that broke up my family and took my dad from me. In the name of walking the middle path I’ve always taken the strategy of appearing to conform or fit in, while personally committing to make change from inside the system. Another way of saying this is I’ve tried to have my cake and eat it too. This conforming non-conformist act is unsustainable, inefficient, exhausting and spiritually unfulfilling. It’s not possible to live a life of purpose while being duplicitous. I have tried and it doesn’t work. Little by little, the demands of the culture took more time and energy. I started chasing the dollar only I called it security. I made more and more compromises and lost sight of my personal compass. I numbed myself with alcohol and antidepressants. I created chaos in my relationships in order to explain away my grief, not realizing my grief was a signal of a life not lived. I spent hours in therapy trying to find and fix the broken parts of myself. I knew I needed change, but I didn’t know why or how.
While walking the tight rope of the conforming non-conformist, I missed seeing that my self-worth and self-love had been missing for a long time. It was sifted away back when my parents were still struggling to make their way as unsure non-conformists. I learned then that I was not enough. I learned this from my parents fear, from the culture around me, from the advertisements between the HeeHaw and Carol Burnett shows. I believed that there was something out there, outside of me, which was needed to make me whole and worthy of “discovery” or success. I didn’t understand how to love and trust myself. I didn’t understand that I was already “becoming” of myself.
Despite the floundering, clumsy path I took to arrive here today, I made some good choices. After quitting college initially, I went back to earn my undergrad degree in Humanities. I did it on my own, paying my way while working in my early 20s. I had a couple of great kids. While I was pregnant with my second, I started back to school for a Master’s in Business which I finished the year she turned 3. Soon after that I started a side business with my then husband which was a blast and a great laboratory for authentic expression (still is). During those years I worked a straight corporate job and fed my spiritual inquiries with a variety of traditional healing experiences. I stretched myself thin, but I learned a lot. And I have a mountain of gratitude for the people who hung in there with me all those years. The biggest lesson I’ve learned (am still learning) is that it’s possible to love myself just as I am and still pursue self-improvement. I will be a work in progress until my last breath. Even so…..
I am enough. You are enough. You are worth fighting for.
Now that I’m on more firm ground in terms of how I relate to myself, I can see that my life has been a good one, full of bumps and good lessons. I have been pretty blessed. I’ve lived in relative middle class comfort and haven’t experienced significant massive trauma or difficulty. I’m pretty average. But that’s exactly how I’m able to see that so much of my difficulty was self-created. On the surface that sounds like bad news. But no. It’s great news! The power is in my hands to create a better reality for myself. My path in this life is to fight for my life and to love myself as a protest against the forces that cause fathers to give up and cause mothers to double and triple up on work. The forces that cause the U.S. to have the some of the highest rates of prescription pain reliever abuse, depression and suicide.
These social and cultural forces are no joke. It’s not enough to commit to being a non-conformist, and besides, who wants to fight against the current all the time and all alone. I want to share this beautiful life with people who value themselves and are empowered in their wholeness. That’s why I quit my day job in 2016 and started PPB Power Solutions. That is why I want to share what I’ve learned in this life with you. I don’t fully understand this path I’m on. I don’t pretend to have all of the answers for every person. But I’m clear that we need each other to quell our fears and build up our courage. Our value and our purpose is greater when we commit to ourselves and when we share ourselves with others. Our capacity to create and adapt to change is huge when we work together. So in 2017, starting with the Infinite Wednesdays series, I will stand for authenticity and love. I will commit myself to this uncertain path, knowing that I am enough. And so are you.