Back Off Busy-Shamers

I recently had an experience that left me feeling shamed and bullied. I wasn’t bullied in the way that we frequently hear about on social media. I was shamed because I’m “too busy” and I was made to feel like I have a problem.

In the past, as a recovering people pleaser, I would have succumbed to the guilt and shame, and bent over backwards to “fix” the situation. But, this time was different. I felt bullied and manipulated. And, it wasn’t okay.

What is busy shaming? Basically, it’s when a person lays guilt or shame on another person because of their “busy” schedule. I believe that it crosses over into bullying when it’s done to hurt someone or to manipulate them to get more of their time.

It’s not the first time this has happened to me, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. I can recall a time many years ago when a well-meaning Christian mentor told me I was “too B.U.S.Y.” and that it stood for “Bound Under Satan’s Yoke”. It left me questioning my spirituality, and wondering if my being busy truly was evil? I now know better. When we throw religiosity into the mix, we have now entered the realm of spiritual abuse. Being busy isn’t inherently bad or evil. And, it is not okay for others to make assumptions, shame us, manipulate us, or bully us about it.

We all go through busy seasons in our life where there are a lot of demands on our time, or when life events throw us curve-balls and we aren’t as available as we would like to be.

I would admit that my life is fuller than most. I have a husband, a blended family consisting of four children at various stages of life, a grandbaby, a business, and I am blessed with many friends. I enjoy being involved in groups and organizations that I find fulfilling. I try to maintain a regular practice of self-care. And beyond that, “life happens” as it does to all of us.

The truth of the matter is I like my life. In fact, I love it. I feel that I am living a life of purpose and passion and I will not apologize or be shamed for it. Nor should you. We should never have to apologize for who we are or the lives we have chosen. Nor should we apologize for the way we choose to spend our time.

That said, there definitely are times when busyness becomes a challenge. When we are busy for the sake of being busy and/or our schedule becomes so imbalanced that it doesn’t allow for rest, self-care, relaxation, then we need to re-evaluate. We certainly don’t want to become hamsters on a wheel and fall victim to the effects of chronic stress on our bodies. I believe this is one of the reasons why being busy has gotten a bad rap. Most of the articles you read about being busy address the issue of being busy from this standpoint. (But, I also think that we are getting mixed and conflicting messages all of the time from society and the media on this and many other topics. That will be the subject of an upcoming blog.) I wholeheartedly agree that we need to examine this possibility in our lives and strive for balance when we see that things have gotten out of whack. We also need to intentionally build some margin or breathing room in our schedules to allow for “life” to happen and prevent potential burn-out. But, our busyness is our business. Only we know when that’s happening, and only we know how to remedy it.

We must be mindful of what we say and how we say it. When we busy shame somebody, there is nowhere to go. It can be hurtful, polarizing, manipulative, and result in degradation of the relationship. Busy shaming is counterproductive. It shuts people down and closes doors. It is a form of bullying and we need to be aware of the times that we do it. There is no grace, there is no compassion, there is no understanding. And, that’s simply not how healthy relationships work.

There are people in my life who just “get it”. They too have full lives, and we have a mutual understanding. We make time when we can, but when schedules get crazy, we don’t take it personally. We hold space and know that when things clear, we will reconnect. And when we do, we share all of the wonderful (and not so wonderful) things we have been up to. It is welcomed and refreshing. And, it is so appreciated.

Grace, compassion, kindness always go along way. And, certainly the golden rule applies in every circumstance we find ourselves in.

Rather than shaming and shutting people down, what if we understood? What if we held space? If we are worried about them being out of balance, what if we asked questions and even offered help from a space of love and concern? What if we didn’t give up on friendships because people have full lives or are dealing with circumstances that make them unavailable for stretches of time? What if we extended some grace and applied the golden rule?

So “busy shamers”, I invite you to choose a different way…or back off.

Yoga Sutra 2.46: sthira sukham asanam

Yoga, especially in the West, has evolved into a largely physical practice. We see photos of people in acrobatic and pretzel-like shapes on the cover of Yoga Journal and all over the Interwebs. And we think to ourselves, “There’s no way I can do THAT!”

Needless to say, this has caused confusion about what yoga is and why we would want to practice it. It also has caused people to avoid yoga classes because they don’t think they are “bendy” or strong enough.

It’s time for a little Yoga 101…

The word yoga originates from the root word yuj, which means union. As such, it is a wholistic practice that joins together the body, mind, heart, and spirit.

The practice of yoga has been around for more than 4,000. It was practiced before long before written history and organized religion existed.

A sage named Patanjali delineated and systematized yoga into a 8-limbed path to yoga over 2,000 years ago that consisted of the following:

  1. Yama: Self-restraint, self-control or self discipline. The yamas
    represent a series of ethical rules for “right living”.
  2. Niyama: Observance or rule. The niymas represent additional
    ethical rules or personal disciplines for “right living” that compliment the yamas.
  3. Asana: The physical postures practiced in yoga. The word breaks down as = to be/breathe, san = to join with, and na = the eternal vibration.
  4. Pranayama: The practice of breath awareness and breath control Prana means breath, life, energy, spirit or soul. Ayama means to extend or draw out, so praynayamaliterally means “extension of the breath” or more accurately, “extension of the life”.
  5. Pratyahara: Withdrawal of the senses from external objects and transcendence beyond the physical body and its senses.
  6. Dharana: The practice of concentration and comes from the word dhri=attention. It is steady focus of the mind.
  7. Dhyana: The practice of focused attention through steadfast meditation or contemplation. It involves complete stillness of the mind where the mind is acutely aware without any particular focus.
  8. Samadhi: Complete oneness with the object of meditation, and results in the arrival at a state of bliss where the one meditating is completely absorbed into God or the divine.

It is interesting to note that the word asana (which relates to the physical postures practiced in yoga) is only mentioned ONE time in Patantali’s Yoga Sutras in Yoga Sutra 2.46 above ” sthira sukham asanam”, which means that our posture must be steady and comfortable. It also means that we must resolutely (steady) reside in a good (comfortable) space.

Yoga is NOT about the fancy poses. It is a practice of discovering what it means to resolutely reside in a good space. All of the other components – the physical postures, breathing, and meditation are vehicles to help you arrive in a space of bliss that goes far beyond anything we can experience by standing on our head. It is available to anyone and everyone, even if you’re not “bendy” and you can’t contort your body.

Come join us and see for yourself!

Dawn’s Birthday Blog

There really is something special about approaching a milestone birthday. Yeah, that’s right. I’m about the enter the half-century club! While I don’t feel like a different person, I do feel differently about this birthday. Maybe it’s because I’m half the age of my two grandmothers who passed last year at ages 99 and 101 – two women who left a legacy of love, wisdom, strength, tenacity, and resilience. Maybe it’s because I finally feel like I know who I am. Maybe it’s because I’m really starting to love myself and where I’m at in my life. Maybe it’s because I feel that I’m starting to accumulate some wisdom that might be worth sharing. So in honor of my birthday month, I want to share what 50 years on this earth has taught me (in no particular order). We will call them my 50 Dawn-isms…

  1. Study and know yourself. It’s the key to all wisdom.
  2. Be true to yourself.
  3. Find your passion and fuel it.
  4. Everything we do is a reflection of who we believe ourselves to be.
  5. Peace begins within, so make peace with yourself.
  6. Never be at war with your own body.
  7. Life is too short to diet or drink bad wine.
  8. Always color outside of the lines.
  9. Never fake anything.
  10. Don’t wait to start checking the boxes off your bucket list. Tomorrow is not guaranteed.
  11. Do what you love, love what you do, or change it.
  12. Don’t let your fears hold you back from creating the life you desire.
  13. Change is necessary for growth.
  14. Don’t resist change. It’s going to happen anyway.
  15. Desire is the greatest motivator.
  16. Don’t limit yourself. All things are possible.
  17. Perfectionism is a lie. Don’t believe it.
  18. Always speak your truth.
  19. Trust your gut. It’s often smarter than your brain.
  20. Things are rarely as they seem. Get curious and ask lots of questions.
  21. Yoga isn’t about the postures. It’s a way of thinking and being.
  22. We don’t need to have all of the answers. It’s impossible, and the answers only lead to more questions.
  23. Pain is a vehicle to self-discovery. Allow it to teach you.
  24. Whatever you seek, you will find.
  25. Know what’s yours to own. Own it, and let go of the rest.
  26. Listen to your heart. It’s wiser than you think.
  27. What you focus on really does expand. So mind your thoughts.
  28. Find your tribe and love them HARD.
  29. People will come in and out of your life and that doesn’t mean the time you spent with them didn’t matter.
  30. It doesn’t matter what people think of you. It’s none of your business.
  31. You can’t change people, nor should you try.
  32. It’s ok if people don’t like you.
  33. Never apologize for who you are.
  34. Humans are beautiful flawed. Don’t forget, you are one of them.
  35. Forgiveness is freedom. Forgive early and often. It gets harder the longer you hold onto it.
  36. True love really exists, but it never looks like you think it will.
  37. You have to love yourself in order to find true love.
  38. When you find your soul mate, you’ll know it.
  39. Two halves do not make a whole person.
  40. Marriage is about bringing out the best in yourself and your partner.
  41. Parenthood is not about you. It’s about them.
  42. Our children are among our greatest teachers.
  43. Grandparenting really is a blast!
  44. Religion and faith are not the same. Don’t throw faith out the window just because religion has betrayed or hurt you. (See items #34 and #35.)
  45. Things really do work themselves out in time. Trust the journey and let go.
  46. Find ways to be grateful, even for the trials in life. Gratitude truly heals and uplifts.
  47. Always be a student and never stop learning.
  48. Love is always the answer.
  49. When in doubt, just breathe.
  50. Create a legacy that leaves a large footprint.

So there it is – 50 years of wisdom through my eyes and experience. I’m looking forward to the lessons the second half of my life has to teach me. Don’t worry, I won’t wait another 50 years to share them with you!

Is fear holding you back?

It’s been said that FEAR stands for “False Evidence Appearing Real”, but the fact of the matter is that fear is a very real thing to the person experiencing it.

Fear generally falls into two categories – the fear that arises in response to a true threat to our survival, and the fear that we manufacture in our minds.

Most often, we are dealing with the second type of fear.

It can show up in many different forms – the fear of failure, the fear of success, the fear of rejection, the fear of the unknown, the fear of our own power, the fear of others reactions to us, and so much more…

Fear can prevent us from moving forward in whatever area it rears its ugly head. And, the fears we don’t address can ultimately become our limitations.

So how do we recognize fear?

Shortness of breath. Increased heart rate. Shallow, fast, irregular breathing. Butterflies in the stomach. Tremoring or shaking in the body. A sinking feeling. The desire to run, hide, numb out, avoid. Procrastination. You know the drill…

So here is a cool thing. Your body experiences the same sensations when it’s nervous and excited as it does when it’s afraid. Our brain tells our body if it’s afraid or excited. So we have to check in with our thoughts. Are they fear-based or are they simply arising from excitement? We can tell our body how to feel by changing our thoughts from fear to courage!

Fear tells the body to run away. Courage tells the body to press into fear to move forward.

Matthew Kelly said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to move beyond fear.” And in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, The Big Magic, she explains that courage cannot be present without fear.

For me, courage is looking fear square in the face and saying, “Oh no fear, not today!” When we courageously press into fear, it dissolves into nothingness. Courage releases us of the bondage to fear – the bondage to the unknown that fear creates.

Danger is real. But fear (the way we respond to real or perceived danger), is a choice. Sir Winston Churchill said, “Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision.”

So when fear presents itself we have a choice. Do we, “Forget Everything and Run”, or do we “Face Everything and Rise”?

The choice is yours.

Living An Empowered Life

“God’s way is not a matter of mere talk: it’s an empowered life”. 1 Corinthians 4:20 (Message)

I believe that each and every one of us wants to feel truly empowered in what we do and the way we live. The problem with being human is that we view our empowerment very differently than God intended. You see, too often we view our worth and value with a “world view,” where the outside world and its values, norms, standards, and pressures determine our self worth and value.

In your mind, picture a funnel. Imagine the world and all of its influences entering the funnel at the top, and your self worth/self concept as the “net” result at the bottom. Everything that pours in through the top defines who we are and ultimately what we will become. You can think of examples – body image, job performance, our relationships, how we define success, how we fit into various groups or the “church”, etc. You can probably recall the pressure you have felt in each of these areas when you have been under the world’s “yoke” so to speak.

This view of self disconnects us from God, and can lead to worshipping false idols where our focus becomes the world’s values as we attempt to measure up to the world’s standards, or the standards of others who are not God. We give way to people pleasing. When we fail, we feel less-than, guilt, shame, or self-loathing. Because we value the opinion of others so much, criticism crushes us. When we “measure up,” we may find that the approval of others inflates our opinion of ourselves or we start to think that we have accomplished these things on our own and we may even boast of our abilities. It is a very oppressive system by which we are completely limited in our abilities because it’s entirely based on whether we measure up or we don’t. Under this pressure, we feel compelled to wear a mask of perfection, not wanting others to think we make mistakes or fall short of what is expected of us. In Ecclesiastes 4:4, King Solomon writes, “And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man’s envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” In Matthew 16:26 it says, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” Both verses illustrate an empty existence where we strive and toil to accomplish nothing of real eternal value. Heavy, limited, full of burdens where here is no freedom or joy.

The definition of the word “empower” as defined by the World English Dictionary is: to give or delegate power or authority to; to authorize; to give ability to; to enable or permit; to equip or supply with ability. Some synonyms include: sceptered, enabled, authorized, commissioned, qualified, entrusted, sanctioned.

As believers, we are inherently empowered by the spirit of God within us. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 says, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works in all of them in all men.” When we begin to recognize that God alone equips us with our gifts and talents, and places a calling on our lives, we can begin to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called” as Paul spoke about in Ephesians 4:1. It begins with moving from the “world view” discuss above to a “kingdom view” whereby our self concept and value comes from knowing our identity in Christ.

Turn the funnel upside down (we do live in an upside down kingdom!) and now imagine God at the top and His definition of who we are, our identity in Him flowing down from above with Him as the source. Look at the bottom of the funnel and see how broad and limitless the possibilities are and how light our burden becomes. With this view of ourselves, we have the freedom to live out our calling using our God-given gifts and talents. Fully connected to God, we are able to connect to others in a God-centered way where we are free to be authentic and transparent. Instead of people pleasers, we become God-pleasers, where we seek his approval and pleasure in what we do and how we live our lives. God gets the glory and we get affirmed in our calling. Exodus 9:16 says, “But I have raised you up for this purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name be proclaimed in all the earth.” World praise is filtered through a humble heart, and criticism is filtered through truth and provides opportunities for lessons and growth to occur. In this world-view, we are fully empowered to do ALL that God created us to do and more than we ever would be able to do on our own as Paul wrote in Phil 4:13, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Light, unlimited, taking the “yoke” of Christ onto our shoulders. Fully free, full of his divine joy where the joy of the lord is our strength (Nehemiah).

In Exodus 3, we see the story of Moses being called to the burning bush. A man in his 80s who was simply going about his business of being a shepherd of sheep, God calls to him and speaks to him from a burning bush. There, tells Moses to lead God’s people out of Egypt. Moses lists off a bunch of excuses – world view excuses. “Who am I to do this?” he says. “I will be with you,” God replies. “They won’t believe me,” he rebuts. God performs two miracles. First, He turns his staff into a snake and then back into a staff. Second He turns his hand into a leperous hand and back again. He even tells Moses he will give him a third miracle if he needs it. “I am not eloquent in speech,” he rebuts to which God replies, “I will be in you mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” “Please send someone else,” he begs. God gives him Aaron to speak for him. Finally Moses, a man in his 80s, obeys and God’s will is done. He is transformed from a shepherd of sheep to a shepherd of people and He manifests God’s glory and power within him.

Like Moses, God fashioned you for a purpose. He has given you talents and gifts. Know that when He calls you to something, He will equip you like He did with Moses. In fact, He already has! And when you realize that He never fails and He does not make any mistakes, you will begin to soar with possibilities and you will begin to act as if you cannot fail. Open your heart and invite Him in and begin to allow Him to manifest all that He created you to be. Live a truly empowered life.

To close, I would like to share a quote taken from Marianne Williamson, from “A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles.

“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, 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 are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own 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.”