The Power of Shame

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Ahhh, the power of shame. This is a subject covered in Episode #165 with mental health professional Katie Gilbertson. It’s an important topic, because the power of shame is something most of us are all too familiar with. But shame can wreak havoc on our self-esteem, and ruin our relationships. Especially the most important and valuable relationship we have in all the world, which is the relationship with ourselves.

Our self-image, self-confidence, and personal power is slowly chipped away every time we feel shame. I call it “chronic shame syndrome.” Because every time we feel ashamed of ourselves, our brain registers it deep in the recesses of our neural circuits. The circuits are reinforced, making them stronger with each message of shame it receives. Eventually, shame is the only thing we know, and it can permeate every aspect of our lives. And not in a good way.

However, there’s a glimmer of hope, even if you are wallowing in chronic shame syndrome. Simply turn the script around. Each time that pesky shame monster rears its ugly head, give it a clear and powerful message that it is not welcome. Remind yourself that you are worthy of respect, civility, courtesy, and appreciation. Those neural circuits will get the message, and with time will reverse the belief system that you deserve to live under the mantle of shame, and shame will no longer have power over you. And isn’t that a much better way to live?

 

For The Love of Dog

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I love dogs, and I have loved them from the moment I was born, maybe even sooner. I know, it sounds rather melodramatic, but it isn’t. It’s the God’s truth.

A lot of people don’t feel the same way. My recent interview with Pat Buttitta is an example of how some people might feel about dogs. For over 25 years Pat had an irrational fear of dogs which bordered on terror. However, once he faced his fears, his life changed dramatically, even propelling him into a new and satisfying career as a dog trainer.

Pat doesn’t train dogs. He trains people. Because most of the problems people have with their dogs is the fault of the owner, not the dog. Dogs simply react to the conditions of their environment. Our job is to make that environment as user friendly as possible for one of the greatest gifts God gave us.

As Pat so eloquently says it, dog is God spelled backwards. And I couldn’t agree more, could you?

Let Your Dreams Be Your Guide

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What are your dreams, and with whom do you share them? Do you keep them to yourself for self-reflection and contemplation, or do you hold them close to your heart? Or, are you someone who doesn’t remember your dreams?

I come from a tribe who have very vivid dreams and share them freely with each other. Or at least we used to when we were younger and spent so much time together. I grew up in a house with 4 sisters, 2 bedrooms, and 1 bathroom, so privacy itself was a dream. I never had my own room until I was 21 and a senior in college. That, my friends, was a dream come true!

But until that time, we shared everything, including our dreams. We even tried to analyze what they might mean, although some were pretty easy to figure out. Like the dream my mother had when my grandmother died, ten years after my grandfather did. She dreamed that she was alone on the property where her childhood home stood, and where she was born. The house was gone. Vanished. All that was left of the site was dirt. She wandered alone over the mounds of dirt, desperately looking for her parents as well as her childhood friends.

My mom woke up with a heavy heart, and she told me about it when I called her a few days later, as I was safely ensconced in my own apartment. Which also included my own room, my own closet, and my own bathroom. “Oh, Mum,” can’t you see what that symbolizes?” Mom replied, “I never thought of it that way.”

Dreams give us a way to process our feelings, emotions, fears, desires, and so much more. Hmm, perhaps we should pay closer attention to them. Sweet dreams.

A Renaissance Woman

I have been musing over my recent podcast episode with the amazing Joy Johnson titled Bold, Brash, and Beautiful. Although I have “known” Joy for several years, I really didn’t get to know her until we had a vibrant conversation during her interview. Joy was full of surprises. She even left me speechless, which has only happened a handful of times in my lifetime.

For example, Joy explains that she had a fascination with engines at a very young age, and began tinkering with them. She discovered that she was a mathematical genius in high school. Who knew? She has a self-proclaimed violent streak. I would like to dispute that last point, since she used that “violence” to protect her younger siblings, as well as other kids who couldn’t protect themselves. I call her a mama bear. Or a warrior.

Regardless of how you label it, this passion for protecting those who can’t protect themselves led her to pursue training in Krav Maga. If you aren’t familiar with Krav Maga, it is totally bad-ass fighting system, which Joy now shares with other women through her self-defense classes.

She earned a degree in engineering from The Colorado School of Mines, and then decided it was time to tap into her feminine side. So, she began pole dancing. She loved the strength and power of pole, as well as the sexy side of the sport. She became so passionate about it that she enrolled in the teacher training program at a lovely studio called Studio 3sixT.

Joy shares her passion with the many women she teaches and is a role model and inspiration for all of them, including me. The definition of a Renaissance woman is one who is a highly cultivated. One who is skilled and well-versed in many fields of knowledge. You might call Joy a Renaissance woman. But I call her a warrior.

Slow Down, and Proceed With Caution

Predators are everywhere, and they come in a variety of different forms. But they all have one thing in common. They are looking for an easy target. That’s why it is so important to pay attention, stay alert, slow down, and proceed with caution whenever you are presented with a situation that just doesn’t feel right.

Which is really important to keep in mind at all times. I don’t mean you should be over vigilant, just stay alert, and aware. It’s especially important right now as we are recovering (hopefully), from the pandemic. There are a lot of scams out there, and the bag guys are playing to our weaknesses, and profiting from our “pain points.”

For example, just a few days ago my husband and I received a notice in the mail. It was from the government (yeah, right), and appeared very official and legitimate. So, I opened it. Inside was a prepaid debit card for the two of us to use in the amount of $1,200. Nice! All I had to do was sign the back of the card, and call a phone number to activate the card. Easy enough.

I handed it to my husband, who was sitting next to me at the kitchen table. For some reason we seem to be spending a lot of time together these past few months. He looked at it and said, “Oh, wow! Nice!” I smiled at him and said, “It’s a scam.” He replied, “How do you know?” “Because they got your name wrong.”

When we got married, I kept my maiden name. The letter and the debit card had my uncle’s name on it, who unfortunately passed away last summer. My husband didn’t even notice until I pointed it out. Slow down and proceed with caution. Stay safe!

How To Get Out Of Your Own Way

Sometimes you just have to get out of your own way. Or, more specifically, out of your mind. As someone who has been out of my mind more often than I care to admit, I understand how sometimes your mind can mess with your head. And your goals. And especially your dreams.

One of the things I learned as a brand new martial arts student was how to get out of the way of an attack. And I was really, really good at it. My technique of choice was to cover my head with my gi top and run off the mat screaming, “Don’t touch me!” Ah, yes. Those were the good old days.

Eventually I was able to get out of my head and into my body to stay engaged with my attacker and gracefully step out of the way. Soon after that, I was able to step back into my attacker and take him down. It was a slow and tedious process for me, but once I let go of my preconceived  conviction that I was going to get beaten to a pulp, magic slowly began to unfold.

Not only did I learn to get out of an attacker’s line of fire, I learned how to get out of my own way as well. Because it’s that negative self-talk, the fear that we are either going to fail, look stupid, be ridiculed, or fall on our face. Huh, been there, done that. All of the above. And yet I survived.

I have to be honest, and I have to confess that I still struggle with getting out of my own way, especially when a remarkable opportunity presents itself. And it recently did, but I’m not quite ready to talk about it quite yet. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it and wonder what I had gotten myself into.

But if we don’t keep reaching for new heights, think of all the incredible experiences we might miss out on. And that would just be sad, don’t you think?

Be Aware, or Beware!

Last week I was honored to deliver my information packed, educational, motivational and interactive signature speech “Be Aware, or Beware” to the members of Rising Tide Business Network. I have decided to share a brief synopsis of the presentation as well as one key life lesson or take home point which was emphasized under each topic that was covered. Keep in mind, this is simply a sneak preview.

 BE AWARE…..OR BEWARE
I. Introduction:

My personal story, as well as first martial arts class and how my journey into the strange new world of men and martial arts began.

Life lesson and key point: I was stronger than I thought I was, and so are you. I firmly believe that there is an incredible amount of strength and power in each and every one of us, just waiting to be discovered.

II. Evade, Deflect, and Redirect

The first thing a brand new martial arts student learns is how to get out of the way of an  attack….evade. It’s the secret of the ninja disappearing act. All of the negative angst and energy goes right past you and back into your attacker. It’s beautiful to witness.

Life lesson and key point: Life is full of hits, and in a variety of different forms including physical, verbal, emotional,   and psychological. How we respond to them is imperative to our ability to survive, and thrive.

Evasion is just the first part of the secret. The entire secret is to evade, deflect, and redirect. This ninja secret is a valuable life skill and tool to keep you from getting drawn into pointless conflicts with family, colleagues, strangers, spouses, “friends,” etc.

*However, the second and third part of the secret does NOT apply to physical threats! Your number one goal is to get out of the way and run to safety.

III. Awareness and Attention

A distracted person is an easy target. And an easy target is exactly what perpetrators are looking for. The good news is that we can train our awareness and attention by making simple changes to our routine.

Life lesson and key point: It’s easy to develop new neural pathways which will develop a keen sense of awareness by making simple changes in our routine. When you continue to practice awareness, all of your senses will become more sensitive, which leads us to the next topic.

IV. Intention and Intuition.

Intention is a course of action that a person intends to complete. Perpetrators have an agenda, and they are committed to completing their chosen course of action. It’s actually possible to be able to read someone’s intention, which is another reason why practicing your awareness is so important. Conversely, it is possible for someone to read your intention as well. If you are committed to keeping yourself safe and do not present yourself as an easy target, a perpetrator can sense that as well, making you less attractive as a target.

Intuition is an immediate understanding of a situation without conscious thought. It is a sense of “knowing.” Intuition is rarely (if ever), wrong.

Life lesson and key point: The ability to read someone’s intention is not that difficult when you practice it, and you can train your intuition just as you train your awareness.

V. Body Language

Our body language speaks volumes, and communicates to the world what kind of day we’re having, what kind of person we are, how we feel about ourselves, and  even whether or not we are an easy target. It’s important to present ourselves with strength, confidence, and composure while we remain grounded, balanced, and flexible.

Life lesson and key point: When you learn how to stand, walk, and move like a ninja you will be grounded, balanced, confident and less attractive as a potential target.

VI. Self-Defense Tools, aka Weapons

Self-defense products can give you a false sense of security. They can also malfunction, or be totally ineffective if you are not thoroughly trained in how to use them. More important, any weapon you carry can be taken from you and used against you.

Life lesson and key point: A high-powered military or police grade flashlight is the best self-defense tool to have, along with taking frequent self-defense classes is the best way to keep yourself safe.

As I said, this is just a brief synopsis and example of my presentation. For more information or to book my services, please feel free to contact me. Stay safe, stay strong, and stay aware!

Ancient Ninja Secret for Your New Year

Here we are, in the last week of January. Maybe you started the new month (and the new year), with high expectations of working out, going to the gym, or eating healthy. How’s that working out so far?

A lot of us make those New Year’s Resolutions and end up falling flat on our face. Fantastic. One more thing we can feel guilty about. But, I have a better idea. Instead of feeling guilty or giving up completely, I am going to share an ancient ninja secret with you. But, please don’t report me to the Society of Ninja Secrets. They might not like it, and might take away my hard-earned official secret ninja card.

So, here it is–keep moving! Literally, just move. Move your body in every single direction, including forward, backward, side to side, and diagonally. There are many reasons why this is important.

1). First of all, if you can move in any directions or any moment in time, it will keep you safe in an oftentimes unsafe world. When you can adapt to any unexpected change in your environment, it can even save your life.

2). Next, the simple act of moving your body improves your circulation, lymphatic flow, cognition, awareness, balance, flexibility, and cognition.  Moving your body keeps you from getting stuck, both physically, mentally, and emotionally. However, if you are stuck in any way, movement stimulates brain function, gets the creative juices flowing, and helps improve your problem-solving abilities. You can find solutions to problems that you’ve never thought of when you were sitting on the couch waiting for the spring thaw.

3). Finally, ditch the judgment and the self-doubt. Just find new and creative ways to move and explore your environment, just like you did when you were a kid. There is no right or wrong, just opportunities to learn. and that is a nifty little ninja secret that is my late January gift to you. Besides, it’s so good for your health!

Blinded By The Light

“Blinded by the light” made for a great song title by the Manfred Mann’s Earth Band in the early 1970s.  But, if you’ve ever had a bright light in your eyes, you know that it does literally blind you, at least temporarily. Those rods and cones that live in your retina start going absolutely bonkers trying to readjust to the sudden burst of bright light, leaving you confused and disoriented.

Which is the reason why you should always have a strong, high powered flashlight with you at all times, day and night. And, you should be holding it in your dominate hand.

I know, you probably don’t have the personal real estate available for something as frivolous as a flashlight. After all, that is where your cell phone lives, even when you’re walking around in public. But, I beg of you, as I have many times before, put your cell phone in your purse! Put it there, and leave it there.

If you are ever approached by a stranger and need a quick get-away, a high quality flashlight with a powerful beam of light is the perfect defensive weapon of choice. Even in the daylight, all you have to do is shine the light in their face, temporarily blinding them and giving you the opportunity to get away and to a safe place.

And, you have the additional advantage to get a clear view of the person’s face so you can give a detailed description to the police when you file a complaint. Which you will do, of course. Because we do need to shine the light on the bad guys so we know who they are and can put them away. Yay!

Choose a high quality flashlight with a high powered beam and settings for a strobe light and an SOS. Make sure it has a nice weight to it and fits well in your hand. It will probably feel better than your cell phone. And, it will be far more useful, especially if you ever need to blind someone with the light.

What Is Courage?

Out of all of the characters in the Wizard of Oz, my absolute favorite is the Cowardly Lion. Except for Toto, of course. Okay, that makes Lion my absolute second favorite. But, it’s funny how the big, strong Lion was always running away from danger and little Toto was always running towards it. So, which one had courage? In my ninja-driven way of thinking, I have the perfect answer. They both did.

How is that possible? Because, what is the definition of courage? Most people would say it is the absence of fear. But, in reality, it is action in the presence of fear.

We’ve all experienced fear. There are several ways we can respond to it. We can run (flight) like the Lion did by removing himself from the threat to keep himself safe. It’s actually a really smart choice, even though it hardly seems appropriate fro the King of the Forest. Or, we can fight like the fierce warrior Toto did, to defeat his opponents and bring them to their knees. It’s an option for those who truly embody the spirit of a warrior. But when you consider that your chances of being the victor are about 50-50 (at best), it might not be the best choice unless you are cornered.

There is a third option. You can freeze like a deer in the headlights. Absolutely THE worst possible choice you can make. But, it’s not your fault, because it really isn’t a conscious choice. Our brain automatically shifts into our sympathetic nervous system when we are threatened, which is part of our built-in survival mechanism. Unfortunately, when we freeze we haven’t got even a slim chance of surviving an attack.

Taking some self-defense classes, sharpening our awareness and observation skills, practicing avoiding and evading a threatening situation is a great start to prevent against freezing, and learning how to take action in the presence of fear. And that, my friends, is the definition of courage.

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