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Congratulations On Someone Not Liking You!


“Nobody truly interesting is universally liked.”

When I look back through history, and think about people I find exceedingly interesting, I notice they were not liked and appreciated by everyone. I think of Jesus, Ghandi, Abraham Lincoln, Aristotle, Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, and Princess Diana.
The same is true of some of my favorite people that are alive today, including good friends of mine.
It’s always been hard for me to accept there are people in this world that don’t like me.
Years ago, I was in therapy with my favorite counselor to date, Brent Curtis. He was a gift that left this world 16 years ago. I still miss having him on this planet.
I had one session with him where he saw, what I considered at the time to be, “the ugly part of me.” I wasn’t kind. I wasn’t calm. I wasn’t sweet. I was angry. I was confused. I felt messy, unattractive, and annoying.
In the next session, he kept looking at me inquisitively. I wasn’t saying a lot. I was timid that day. Scared.
He said, “What is it you want to ask me, Debbie?”
Without my brain having time to think, I blurted out, “Do you still like me?”
It wasn’t profound. It didn’t sound or feel mature or impressive. I felt needy. I didn’t feel strong. I felt exposed. Embarrassed.
It was an honest, child-like question.
“After what you saw of me last week, do you still like me?”
It was a scary and freeing question for me to ask because it was so honest, so vulnerable. It came from deep fears I had that if I reveal every part of me it will be too much for people to handle. They won’t want to stay with me.
Brent smiled and said, “Debbie. Some people feel needy and draining. You don’t. You feel salty to me.”
Salty. I liked it. It felt good.
I add flavor when I let my full self out. I spice things up.
Some people don’t want extra flavor. They may not like it. They might not be ready for it, or they might not want things in their life to be shaken up.
That doesn’t mean that my saltiness and yours is not valuable and interesting.
It just might mean that we are very interesting people.
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Absent For Health Reasons

My mom exuded love. Being kind, tender, and nurturing was like breathing for her.
She was never concerned about what kind of grades I had, what type of college I would go to, what my ACT score was.
Her number one concern was my emotional and physical health.
She didn’t fully believe in the American school system.
There were many days when I was in high school she would say, “Do you want to take tomorrow off? You seem like you could use a break.”
I, of course, loved the idea and always agreed.
When I went back to school a couple days later, I brought a note to the office. It always said the same thing.
“Debbie was absent for health reasons.”
My mom explained to me and my sister that “health reasons” covered all types of health: physical, emotional, and psychological.
She knew more than we did that we needed a break.
As I watch anxiety and depression become more common in teens, I think about my mom. I think about her wisdom that went against the drive I see around me to push kids to their mental breaking point.
When we recognize the signs that our kids need a break, when we allow ourselves that too, the world feels more doable, less stressful. It helps all of us get a fresh new perspective.
There are no more notes being brought to school these days.
Now there is an attendance line to call, and when I speak to the kind lady at the other end of the phone, I always say the same thing.
My son (or daughter) will not be in school today… for health reasons.”
Much love to you,
Debbie
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Creating New Rules


I am all for rules. I like order. I would not want to drive on a freeway with no rules, or live in a society where anything goes.
There are laws that keep us safe, and there are rules we unconsciously live by that can cause us suffering.
A friend of mine once told me it seemed that I had been living my life under other people’s rules.
For us to live a life that reflects who we are, it is important to look at the unconscious rules we live by.
We get these from our parents, our siblings, the faith we were raised with or later joined, well meaning friends, and sometimes not so well meaning people in our lives.
Turn on most morning shows and there will be a bazillion “experts” telling us how we should eat, exercise, raise our kids, date, dress, decorate our homes, buy a car, travel, handle money, you name it.
I love great advice and information. The problem comes when we start believing that others know more than we do about what is good for us, instead of  trusting our own guidance.
One example of an unconscious rule is if I say something to someone and that person rejects me because of what I said, my tendency is to feel it was my fault. If I had said it differently or not said it at all, this person would still want to be in my life. See the unconscious rule there?
The rule states: “I am responsible for someone else’s reaction.” Another rule here would be: “I am not allowed a second chance.”
I thought a lot about what my friend said, and wondered if I were to choose my own rules to live by, what would they be?
Here is what I came up with:
Debbie’s Rules:
1. I have the freedom to believe whatever I want to and pursue whatever feels right to me. 2. I can feel whatever I feel. There are no good or bad feelings. They are all-important and valuable and must be respected and honored. 3. I must treat myself with kindness, love, and respect at all times. 4. If I don’t feel emotionally safe around someone I have the freedom to not open up to that person. 5. I am not in charge of anyone else’s happiness. 6. I do not have to make people feel good. 7. Life is a play land to explore. I get to do what I love and be who I am and everything works out and flows for me when I do. 8. If I say something I feel bad about, or do something I wish I could undo, I always get another chance because I’m worth it. 9. My honesty and vulnerability are treasured gifts. I get to choose whom I give this gift to. 10. If people do not treat me with love and respect, I have permission to walk away or do whatever feels free to me at the time. 11. I deserve to feel good. 12. I deserve to be treated with love and respect. 13. It’s okay and encouraged for me to have an opinion, even if it is not liked or approved by others. And I have permission to change my mind later. 14. I can trust my own guidance. 15. It is a good thing for me to be fully me. 16. Other people’s issues are not my responsibility. 17. It is not my responsibility to know what someone else is thinking and feeling. 18. I have permission to look messy, to lose control, to scream, to cry, to throw a tantrum at anytime that I feel I need to. 19. I don’t have to do everything perfectly. 20. I have the right and freedom to add, take away, or change any rule if it feels good to me.
What new rules could you create that would bring you more calm and freedom? 
With love,
Debbie

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The Answer to Everything


What if there was one answer to all of our issues?

I believe there might be.
The Beatles had it right all along. 
What if we loved ourselves unconditionally? With love comes respect.
Think about it.
If we lived our lives where we treated ourselves with love and respect, we would naturally eat food that made us feel good, giving us energy. We wouldn’t dream of eating to the point of feeling uncomfortable, because we love ourselves too much to make us feel bad. We would move our bodies in ways that feel good. Weight/ body issues would not exist.
If we lived everyday loving ourselves we would never find ourselves in unhealthy relationships where people treated us poorly. We would know the difference because we know what love looks and feels like.
We would have a career that we loved. Why would we settle for anything less? We would never do that to someone we love.
We would not feel the need to hide any parts of us, because we know that every part of us is beautiful, because that’s what love looks like.
The more we love ourselves, the better parents we are, because love becomes a natural part of the way we walk through life, and the way we treat others.
The other day I was in the grocery store soaking up the flower section. I smiled at the thought of buying myself a dozen roses, but the price was higher than I wanted to pay. It felt like such an extravegance. I felt bummed. I’ve been trying to spend less lately.
As I walked around I noticed a section in the corner where you could buy single roses!
I bought one single red rose. It sits by my bed in a vase and every night when I go to sleep, every morning when I rise, I smile. The rose reminds me that I chose to love myself. It’s a small thing, but a large gesture at the same time.
How can you love yourself today?
The more we practice loving ourselves, speaking with kindness, doing loving acts, the more natural it becomes, and our lives start feeling a lot kinder, gentler, and free flowing. Things just seem to work better and feel easier.
Much love to you today,
Debbie

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What To Do When Someone Is Mean


Yesterday I received an email lined with one rage filled sentence after another.
I have experienced being treated badly by others, like most of us have, but this was the cruelest letter I think I’ve ever received.
I could feel trauma entering my body as I read the loaded words.
My head felt dizzy, my body felt out of sorts. My stomach felt sick.
What do you do when you find yourself being on the receiving end of such venom?
There are times when someone says something hurtful, and then there are times when the hurtful words are extreme and cut deep. In those times, I have learned three things. (Well, I’ve learned more than three, but today I’ll discuss three):
1) The deeper the hurt, the deeper the healing.
I’ve seen this pattern in my life.
When I experience deep hurt, gut wrenching sadness, a breakthrough is about to happen.
It helps the healing process if I allow myself to feel whatever I am feeling.
Doing this lets energy move through me and out.
There is a part of me now that gets strangely excited, because I am such a fan of healing and know a big shift is coming that will cause me to experience more freedom and strength.
2) This is a gift.
Not always easy to see in the middle of the pain, but it’s absolutely true.
It’s always been a difficult thing for me to experience people judging me, not liking me, thinking badly of me. It’s confusing to me. How could anyone not like me? I’m so nice!
So, for me this email is a gift because I get a chance to see that not everyone is going to like me. The more I experience this, the more I am able to accept this fact and the less it bothers me, and the freer I become.
I also get a chance to really look at what she said about me, and decide for myself if it is true or not. This, in the end, gives me a stronger sense of self, coming to my own conclusions.
3) When someone’s words affect you deeply, it means something in you has been triggered (an old belief or fear usually), and it’s ready to leave, so you can be free.
Not everything this woman wrote me affected me, only the things that I still have fears about.
My job is to heal those old beliefs.
Because of this letter, I have a chance to see what it is I still fear. What beliefs am I still holding onto that aren’t serving me anymore?
Now I have a chance to question them and see if they are really true.
I did not deserve to be treated this way. You don’t deserve cruelty either. We were made for love.
We can’t control what others think of us.
We can, however direct what we think of ourselves and the amount of love and kindness we show our own hearts.
With love,
Debbie

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Dating My Inner Athlete


After mentioning I wanted to exercise more but had a hard time finding forms I enjoy, my friend and fellow life coach, Susan Hyatt said,
“You need to date your inner athlete!”
“Take her out on dates where you try out things you haven’t tried before and see how she likes it!”
My body lit up when I heard this idea. It sounded so much more fun than the “should” statements that pop up in my head.
It’s funny how phrasing something differently can totally shift how it feels, like when I tell my kids I’m taking them on an 
adventure when we are going to the grocery store. The word adventure makes it feel so much more fun! A date sounds way more exciting than “going to the gym to get in shape.”
So, I signed up for 3 free days at the local YMCA, deciding to try out 2 classes a day to sample different ones.
For the first date, I took Debbie to a Body Combat class. It turns out she loves kicking and punching to songs like “Wrecking Ball” with 20 other women in a gym! She felt fierce and alive and was surprised how much fun she had.
The date was a hit! She was willing to go out with me again!
The next day, I took her out to a “Power Yoga” class. She found it okay, but wasn’t excited to come back. She did like that it was on a soccer field with a sweeping view of the mountains. As she was holding the warrior pose, she found herself wanting to break free from the controlled stance and run barefoot through the field with a tutu on, twirling around with her arms wide open while periodically skipping.
Her next class is “Total Body Workout” and tomorrow she’s looking forward to try something called “Balletone”.
I think I also liked Susan’s proclamation because I don’t see myself as an athlete, maybe because I wasn’t labeled that way in school. The only sport I played was one year of soccer in 9th grade. I wanted to try it out, so I jumped right in having never played the sport before.  I liked it, especially the game where it rained the whole time and we were sliding all over in the mud. After that year I moved onto choir and musicals.
Our school experience can sometimes give us labels about ourselves that we carry through life.
The truth is. I am an athlete, and Susan’s sentence helped me embrace that.
I think we all have an athlete inside of us.
I love to bike, swim, hike, dance, climb rocks, rappel, kayak, canoe, paddleboard, jump on a trampoline, hit a tennis ball over the net, kick, punch, skip, twirl, and probably other things I haven’t been exposed to yet. I’m not a fan of competition and keeping score, which I think has also contributed to my belief that I’m not an athlete.
We all like to move in someway.
What are your favorite ways to move?
With love,
Debbie

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Thank You For Hurting Me


About a month ago I attended a writers retreat hosted by Betsy Rapoport. It was an amazing experience. I highly recommend her retreats for anyone interested in writing. She gave us a writing assignment to write a letter of gratitude to a dear old friend. I immediately knew who I would write this letter to. It would be one I would never send. It was for my own healing. It was to someone who had deeply hurt me.
It turned out to be incredibly healing.
I could feel my mind and heart shifting and relaxing as I wrote it and when I later shared it with a group of loving, safe, empathetic women. Don’t you love those kind of women?! It was a beautiful experience and I wanted to share it with you, not the letter, but the idea of the letter.
I started sentences with “Thank you for ______ because it led me to ______.
For example, let’s say you experienced a counselor who gave you harmful advice. You are feeling angry at how wronged you were, how much it messed you up and confused you. You might write, “Thank you for giving me terrible advice because it took me to a place of real questioning and searching and coming to my own conclusion. I feel stronger now and more trusting of myself.”
Let’s say you were really hurt by a parent growing up.
“Thank you for ignoring my heart, for not being there for me, for not seeing me as valuable, because it led me to study psychology, digging deep into the truth of who I am, and how I can heal myself. Because of this I now have such a tender heart for people and am able to give them what you weren’t able to give me.”
I would not have been able to write my letter soon after I had been hurt. The wounds were too raw and I couldn’t see clearly. This is a great exercise to do after some time has past and you are ready to move on, to be a person that comes out of a minefield with more love, tenderness and freedom.
If you choose to write a letter like this, I so honor you for your bravery. This is a master’s level assignment, not for the faint of heart. You are a strong person to even consider doing this, and I am right there with you smiling, with a tear glistening in my eye because I’m so proud and impressed with you.
With love,
Debbie

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