Last Christmas, I shared a blog post about waking up alone on Christmas and it was pretty popular. I heard from friends, colleagues and even complete strangers and it felt great to write something that helped so many people.
I shared that story from five years ago because I couldn’t post what was actually happening last year. I was spending Christmas solo, despite the fact that I was in a long-term relationship, and it was just too painful to write about.
This year, because I know people are solo for so many reasons and could use some help, I'll share what happened last year. We can’t help people if we merely allude to it but aren’t actually sharing from our lives, I've really learned that this past year.
And so, I’m sharing what a difference a year made in my life. It began with surviving another solo Christmas last year. If you’re in a similar situation this year, see if anything I did helps you, too.
“Where are you Christmas
Why can't I find you
Why have you gone away
Where is the laughter
You used to bring me
Why can't I hear music play…”
This time last year, it was clear that the relationship I was in for the past five years wasn’t working, despite my best efforts. Granted, the start of my business and then my transition and the loss of my family led to many stressful times, but all couples experience stress. It's called life. The person I had chosen was ambivalent about committing to a partnership from the day we met ten years prior and I just refused to accept it and move on. Without safety and security, love cannot thrive and by last Christmas, things had deteriorated so badly that I chose to spend the week alone and house-sit for a friend.
I packed a bag and drove across the city. Even though it wasn’t the first time I’d be doing this, it was certainly more difficult. I went from anger to sadness to pure and total confusion and back again. Was I doing the right thing? Was I just spiting myself or was this really a good call? How would I feel waking up alone again, only this time in a stranger’s house?
I sat with those questions and eventually the feeling that I was doing something incredibly right for myself, claiming some self-respect where I had lost it so many times over the past few years, overrode most everything else. I’d drawn a boundary and claimed much-needed space for the holiday experience I wanted to create for myself.
“My world is changing
Does that mean Christmas changes too…?”
Christmas eve at three in the afternoon found me standing in the aisle of Whole Foods completely numb. The little green basket dangled from my hand as people passed all around me. I gradually made my way around, feeling grateful for the many years I spent working and shopping in health food stores; it felt like the home I needed. As I picked up the essentials of what I’d need for the week, I muttered to myself about the excess of food sitting back at my “home”. I bought a few cookies as a treat. This wasn’t a time for deprivation. It was Christmas, after all.
As I began to cook, my mood instantly lifted and the knot in my stomach loosened. I played Christmas music and sang along. The therapeutic process of self-care began to work its magic. When my confidence faltered, some writing and phone calls to my best friends helped restore it.
With each hour that passed, I realized my own strength and resilience. It takes tremendous courage to powerfully choose solitude and consciously embrace loneliness any day but especially around the holidays. I was doing it for the second time in my life. There is so much hype telling us that we need someone or something, either the perfect family or the perfect partner or perfectly-wrapped material items to feel included in “the spirit of the season” or make our lives complete. It isn’t true. I witness so many people talking about rushing around and being stressed out, it seems to miss the point of things.
I think that all we need is ourselves and whatever makes us happy.
I went to bed and slept well but when I woke up Christmas morning alone, I cried. I cried for my childhood that had been filled with stockings and piles of presents. I cried for a family I never see or hear from. And then, I cried for the time and energy I’d invested in a relationship that wasn’t working. I cried because I couldn’t understand and it wasn’t fair. I got it all out.
And then I made coffee and a couple of eggs and I might have had some chocolate, too. I got to make the rules that morning.
And then I realized that I got to make the rules for the rest of my life. I was done settling or feasting on scraps in any way. That decision led to many more I've made this year and, as a result, my life is rich and full of everything I want and need.
A year later, I am celebrating this Christmas as a triumph over last year. It was a rock bottom for me, as I hid out in a friend’s house and published an article that wasn’t telling the whole story of what I was enduring. I no longer feel like a fraud for posting pictures or mincing words to belie the reality of my life.
There's no tree this year.
Few presents to give or receive.
But I don't feel alone or deprived in any way. Actually, learning to adjust my expectations has allowed greater freedom and appreciation for what I do receive. I have an invitation to Christmas dinner. Two friends made me homemade goodies.
I feel happy and content with everything I've been given in the past and will receive in the future.
“I feel you Christmas
I know I've found you
You never fade away
The joy of Christmas
Stays here inside us
Fills each and every heart with love”
Whether you’re dealing with loss of family from death or estrangement, an unworkable relationship or something else, surviving a solo Christmas isn’t about surviving at all. It’s about finding strength in being alone or embracing the pain we feel from a loss somewhere in our lives. It's about remembering that things aren’t always what they appear in the lives of others. It’s about sitting with things as they are. It's about cherishing old memories and dreaming of ones you'll make in years to come and finding tremendous freedom and power in that future!
*lyrics to Christmas, Why Can’t I Find You? co-written by James Horner and Will Jennings and sung by Faith Hill
Here's the essential info:
These meditation/mindfulness sessions will be led by me at the Tree of Life Tai Chi Center* at 11 Bow Street, Somerville, MA. I'm a certified health coach and a morning person and I've been practicing meditation since 2004. I will begin the sessions with some background, instruction and guidance to get started and then we will sit for about 20-25 minutes.
After our sitting period, we will have a brief discussion about mindfulness related to nutrition and lifestyle habits.
I welcome you to come try it out once but trust me, it gets better with practice! That's why I reduced the price for committed sitters. :)
Don't know much about meditation? Read up about this article that Harvard just published: http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2011/01/eight-weeks-to-a-better-brain/
Join us at any level:
Cruiser-- I'll stop by from time to time
Habit-Former-- I'm working on doing this more often
Committed Sitter-- I'll be there every week
If you're ready to sign up, you can do that below.
Have a question? email me now: dillandigi [at] gmail [dot] com
* Please do not email Tree of Life Tai Chi with any questions. They will not respond.
It’s a nice coincidence that Transgender Awareness Month is ending just as we celebrate Thanksgiving. It's true that as part of my gender transition process, I celebrated the holiday this year neither with my family nor as part of the relationship I had shared for the past five years. While there were many painful feelings present, it wasn’t all that was there. My spiritual practice helps me put all things in perspective and, upon further reflection, this experience helped me to realize several gifts I’ve received from my transformation.
Finding and feeling gratitude and joy for the gifts we receive from experiences of adversity help us balance the pain of loss, sadness and grief.
Some might call this process of introspection and meaning-making to be selfish navel-gazing. I call it my path to enlightenment which basically means I get to feel awesome more often and shitty less often. Whatever can help me do that in a way that works and lasts, I’m all for it. No doubt, if you’re reading this, you’re drawn to the same desire. You’re going through something that has tested you in some way, or have already done so, and want to know what to do with those thoughts and feelings so you can get to the part where you feel some relief.
So, insofar as it’s helpful and enlightening to you, as this month of seeing and understanding the transgender experience more closely comes to a close, here are five gifts I’ve received from my experience so far.
1. Developing a new capacity for compassion. It’s said that those who find and really understand Buddhism (and other religions or spiritual paths) are those who have experienced the greatest suffering. I absolutely fall into that category, from countless experiences before and since my gender transition, and my own awareness of my life experiences helps me to deeply understand and relate to the suffering, struggle and joy of all people better than I ever did before. Before my gender transition, I danced around this experience by picking and choosing who deserved my patience and compassion. Since choosing to transition, I see much more clearly the connectedness, the relativity and patterns of the human experience. Making space for my process and practicing tremendous acceptance and compassion for myself, where others haven’t been able to, helps me make space for others in ways I couldn’t before.
2. Going undercover every day. So, I will admit that it’s pretty damn cool to live two lives in one lifetime. I spent 34 years as one person and now get to move through the world for the rest of my life like I’m wearing a costume or going undercover every day. Truthfully, I still feel like the same person because I am the same person. The only thing that’s different is how people interact with me based on who or what they think they see or know. More often than not, I find it quite comical and extremely enlightening. It’s humbling to see what I thought I knew about the world. Since processing through much of the pain and anger associated with such profound disorientation and transformation, I actually laugh to myself on a daily basis when women treat me like I don’t have a brain or when men accept me as “one of the boys”. Can you imagine waking up and experiencing the world as a completely different person midway through your life? It is equal parts fun, weird and profoundly confusing. It’s fascinating stuff and I feel like the Terminator, scanning for and detecting data in each human interaction.
3. A whole new relationship to my body. Like many people, for most of my life, I was at war with my body. Department store dressing rooms were torture chambers and getting dressed every day was an agonizing chore. I cannot explain exactly why just yet, but since my transition it feels like the war is over. There are many daily battles but nothing near what I experienced before making this decision. I think because I had to think so intimately about it, like when I chose to quit being a teacher, and then become a vegetarian, then a lesbian, and then just a person, I reached a real peace and serenity with my choice. I think learning that only I could choose to flip the switch, and making the choice to do it, helped me come to value and appreciate my body more, maybe for the first time in my life. It’s like we’re in this thing together, now. Maybe the hormones help. Maybe they actually turned off some receptor somewhere deep in my brain. Maybe it’s for reasons I haven’t yet determined or will ever understand. Not a day goes by where I don’t reflect on my decision but I never regret it. It was mine, and only mine, to make. The days I spent frustrated and confused in my previous form are over and are now replaced with new and different feelings. The new ones are also difficult but easier, now, somehow.
4. A new voice. I never appreciated my old singing voice until I lost it. The first few months of my voice change were extremely difficult as note after note disappeared. When I finally realized I couldn’t sing along to Brandi Carlile or Patty Griffin, two of my most favorite artists, it was a very difficult few weeks. Now, two years later, my voice almost perfectly matches those of James Taylor and Michael Buble. Don’t tell anyone I sing along to Michael Buble and no one gets hurt, ok? As I grieved the loss of one range and experience, I welcomed a new way of expressing myself as a singer, even if I only do it to make myself smile. I’m also learning a new way to express myself in many ways, how to use my life experience and my “voice” in my writing and speaking in ways that I never have before. Sometimes I catch myself waiting for what feels like persistent laryngitis to wear off and have to remind myself that it’s definitely here to stay. Here to stay in a good and fun new way.
5. A new understanding of love. Transition of all kinds challenges relationships of all kinds. My process has tested my own love for myself and the love others have for me and themselves. We often speak and write of love as a definite like if we define and measure it and put it in a box or summarize it in a well-worded quote, we’ll know where to find it when we forget or need it. Through my interactions with family members, friends, colleagues and strangers the past few years, I’ve come to a new understanding about love. I think love is both a feeling we experience and it happens in real time, each day, as an expression in our words and actions in relation and response to the needs of others. My transition has taught me to see and accept the many different ways humans manifest this. I understand that love, like happiness, begins as an inside job and is a daily practice with ourselves and others. It’s the process of thousands and thousands of choices we are free to make from one moment to the next.
I’ve been living openly as a transgender person for two years and six months. I’m so new to this and will undoubtedly have new and interesting insights as the years go by but these are the greatest gifts I’ve received from the process so far.
In your own transition process, I hope you find these words helpful in some way.
If you would like my support, drop me a line at dillandigi [at] gmail.com
Something not working out the way you wanted, hoped for or planned?
I invite you to consider you're part of the problem--and 100% part of the solution. Before you go there, this isn't about guilt. This is about responsibility. When I learned the distinction between fault and responsibility, it changed my life. Maybe you will find it helpful, too.
When we become responsible for areas in life where we are stuck, we can actually do something about it--which is what we want, right? Have you ever waited on someone or something to provide for your needs? It can be difficult. Now that we are all adults, we don't have to do that. And that either sounds really scary or really exciting to you. Being responsible for ourselves begins with being able to make room, in our heads and our lives, for what we actually want.
It's startling to realize how powerful we are. It's difficult, actually, for many to understand or comprehend our abilities--so we often give over to excuses or reasons to bring our potential back down to a manageable bite-sized snack. And we also sometimes self-sabotage so we can continue to "play small", as Marianne Williamson likes to say.
One way we do this is to fill our time and our lives with things that don't bring us closer to the happiness we want and deserve. This might sound incredibly vague and lofty, which may not be helpful. Let me be more clear: you're probably doing something right now that is depriving you of the very thing you want.
Yes, yes you are.
How do I know? Because I do it every day and I coach client after client who does it, too. It's human. It's something we all do and it may be difficult to swallow, especially if the thing you want is REALLY important to you and you've been wanting it for a long time and have been doing everything in your power to make it happen.
It would be difficult to accept that you're in the way of having it, right?
What if the most powerful thing you could do, in the very moment, is see that? What would happen if you stopped and allowed yourself to admit that you're both part of the problem AND that itself was the key to the solution? Does it meant what you want or need will happen overnight? Probably not. Are there many other variables and factors influencing our lives? Definitely.
But what if, what if, you were able to step outside of your current day-to-day and did things ever so differently and it changed your life forever? Would you do it? Why aren't you, already?
Well, it might be for two reasons, both of which I know because I've studied them personally for about 16 years and academically for the past few years.
1) You don't see where you're stuck.
My favorite Buddhist teacher, Pema Chödrön, talks about being stuck as being "entangled". She says to get disentangled, we first have to KNOW that we are and WHERE we are entangled. Does that make sense? Some people are so focused on the frustration of being stuck, they rarely stop and step back and see themselves as being stuck. They are already in the anger and resistance of it. When we can let go of those feelings, we can just be and hang out with the stuck and, interestingly, we can see it much more clearly. If this all sounds really weird or confusing, just hang out with it for a second. Try not feeling frustrated and just sit with being stuck, without any feelings attached to it. Now, see what I mean?
Now, describe it. Give more details about where you're stuck. Don't get caught in being angry or sad, just say, "I'm stuck in the wrong job" or "I'm stuck on solving this problem with my business". Just try that.
Where are you stuck?
2) The momentum of your conditioning.
Ok, neat. Now you know where you're stuck. Now, you're up against what my therapist calls, "the momentum of our conditioning". He may have gotten that from someone else, but I don't know who. We just talk about it, often, because I have some pretty strong conditioning. We all do, actually. Our conditioning are the habits and patterns and ways of thinking and being that keep us who we are and doing what we are doing--even when we don't like it. Bummer, right? Yes and no. The bad news is, it's painful. The good news, we can change. That's why I write so much about change, because I want to provide people with the tools to overcome their conditioning, especially conditioning that's getting unwanted results. When we get momentum going in the direction we WANT, we get closer to having what we want--in any aspect of our lives.
These two factors are probably causing a lot of your stuckness. To get more of what you want on a regular basis, you'll need to make room for it, in some way--or many ways. That starts with clearly seeing what you're doing that's getting in your way, and not everyone is ready, willing and able to take that on.
Are you ready?
Recently, I was saying how I was really craving time with friends I love who live far away. My conditioning was telling me I was too busy, I couldn't afford it or that I wasn't able to take time away from grad school and my business. This time, I overrode the conditioning and made space in my calendar. I booked a flight to Wisconsin to see one of my best friends I hadn't seen in five years. FIVE YEARS. I went from longing to fulfilled--it was that easy.
Where do you need to make room right now? What do you need to change so you can make space for something you want and need?
image courtesy of http://www.amandalavergne.com/blog/hot-child-in-the-city-2/
Last week I did something I'd been thinking about for a long, long time. I woke up and felt completely discouraged and a little bit hopeless and I posted what was really happening for me in a really long Facebook status. I put it all out there. I shared some really deep details about myself.
I was completely terrified to do this. I was afraid it would leave people with the impression that I was a failure of a human being and most definitely a failure as a health coach. I overcame the fear and was practically brought to tears as the likes and comments multiplied minute after minute. To date, it has 124 likes and over 60 comments! I overcame the fear and chose to open it up and put it out there, and people resonated very deeply with it.
I'd been carrying this fear around with me for a really long time, though. And it was bugging me to see person after person engage with my Facebook wall or blog posts and the whole time I was left feeling like they were really interacting with a cardboard cutout of me, instead of the REAL me. I know a lot of business folks, or just everyday people, who do this and are perfectly content with it.
See, there's this trend that everyone's aware of but still participates in. A lot of people are going around posting the highlights of their lives and not really talking about whatever else is happening. I know this for a fact, because I know what people are going through and how it compares to what they show.
Welcome to the social media monster, right?
It doesn't have to be that way. In fact, the more I see people do this, the less I feel inclined to engage with them. And I was concerned people were getting that vibe from me, too. After listening to Pema Chödrön talk about "fake spiritual people" one day, I realized it was sort of my worst nightmare to be coming off as fake to anyone. I was talking about my life and the good and not-so-hot parts of it to other people but I wasn't really showing it publicly. I get the point of professionalism, really I do. But what's the point of that when I'm touting authenticity and fearlessness from one side of my face and pretending everything is fine and dandy from the other side.
I don't think I ever gave that impression but was focused on posting positive stuff to inspire and encourage people. Based on the response I received from that post the other day, people don't just want or need positive stuff. They certainly don't need more negative, cynical stuff but they want real. They want strife. They want to know how I struggle and overcome the same stuff they deal with every day.
I realized I wasn't sharing that with my folks and it wasn't serving me, personally or professionally.
I can't relate to someone who only shares smiles and sunshine. It tells me that person can't be present to the grief and darkness that is part of being human. And that isn't who I am or want to be for others.
I've gone through some very difficult times the past few months which included leaving a long-term relationship, moving all my worldly belongings twice in three months and opening a new office for my business. Not easy stuff, I tell ya.
It wasn't easy, but I did it all because I have learned how to take really good care of myself. In fact, those choices and changes are a RESULT of how well I take care of myself. It's all part of the same package. When I share that with people, it is the full picture of what's behind my healthy breakfasts, my personal-record-breaking jogs, my donut dates with good friends, the pink armchair in my new office and my selfies.
There was a time not long ago, several times in fact, where I couldn't stand my own reflection. To take a selfie and post it is a testament to how far I've come to appreciate my own likeness in the past few years.
This is what people need to see.
This is what people need to read about.
They don't need more resentment. They don't need more complaints. They don't need more advice telling them what to do or think or feel or say to be "right" or "wrong".
They don't need more pictures that highlight the good and make the pain or challenge invisible.
I don't believe it when I see it so I know people weren't believing it about me, either. People aren't stupid, they saw the void where a partnership used to be in my life. They saw a new table when I took pictures of my food.
By opening up and letting it all out, I invited them into what real transformation looks like, what real change requires and what real life is like when you're giving it all you've got to do the best you can.
I was afraid to be so real because I thought people would think I had nothing to offer them as a health coach. If my life isn't perfect, what would they have to learn from me?
I realized that wasn't true. The most valuable thing I can provide people is an example. I can show up fully and be a real example of the resilience, tenacity and self-love one needs to be your authentic self, to leave relationships that aren't supportive, respectful and loving, to pursue work that is meaningful and fulfilling and eat healthy food and exercise even when it feels like your life is falling apart.
I can show up fully, even when it's scary, to inspire other people to do the same.
What can YOU provide people? What would you share if you stepped into being fully authentic?
Whether you're talking about dating, coaching or some other business involving someone's level of readiness for change, you may find this helpful.
Change is my primary motivator. I thrive in the chaos of transformation--it's what keeps me happy and makes me feel alive. When I feel stagnant, something feels wrong.
Not everyone loves change. Some people abhor it, in fact. Gauging someone's readiness and propensity toward change is crucial if you want to be successful in any kind of relationship: personal or professional (or otherwise).
I know the awe-inspiring duality of the sheer terror and profound bliss of choosing change--I think it's where we are most free. I want more people to know this experience as intimately as I have come to know it.
After being ineffective more times than I can count, I transformed my own misdirected efforts to change other people and environments into my own intentional, self-directed personal transformation. I've changed everything from my eating habits to my career (multiple times) to my gender identity. Now, I send out endless invitations for others to join me on their respective paths. When people resist, I know it isn't a reflection on me or the way I live my life--it's me meeting their limitations face-to-face.
I have a gift for seeing through what IS to what IS POSSIBLE, in myself and others, but if the gift isn't chosen it ceases to be a gift.
It's been a game-changer for me to learn how to gauge someone's readiness so I can spend more of my time and energy on those who share my passion and commitment for transformation because when out-of-the-box thinkers actualize their potential, great things happen.
Here's how to gauge readiness for change:
1) THEY TALK ABOUT WHO THEY WANT TO BECOME
If someone constantly talks about who they desire to be, what they desire to do and HAVE, they are committed to change. They aren't happy with status quo or being merely "ok". They want more and are willing to do anything to accomplish that. Listen for the person to identity their habits, successes and areas of growth. They are in the process of self-awareness and self-acceptance which is crucial to moving through pain and toward healing and wholeness. When someone speaks to who they want to become and take steps toward achieving it, they are seeing themselves not as static creatures but dynamic, changing beings capable of anything.
2) THEY MAKE & HONOR COMMITMENTS
A commitment made is a promise to ourselves and another person. It's an act of courage to step up and into a new way of being. People who earnestly take on and honor their commitments don't fear failure but fear the pain of avoidance and denial. Making a commitment like setting a date on a calendar and keeping it without excuses, is a demonstration of character and integrity. People who are ready to change can't stand the stagnancy of ambivalence and choose action over indecision. Their commitments are a reflection of their values, so take notice of what and who they prioritize in their lives.
3) THEY MAKE FRIENDS WITH FEAR
Someone who is ready to change speaks openly and honestly about fear. When someone can name his/her fear, it holds less and less power over that person. When people make excuses, they are stalling so they don't have to act. We create stories and justifications, ranging from individual to collective beliefs, to make our stalling make sense. When people feel afraid to change, they surround themselves with others who share the fears as an identity. We can experience something without being defined by it and the person who is ready to change knows that overcoming fear is crucial to that process.
4) THEY SEEK HELP VIA POSITIVE CHANGE AGENTS
We don't do this alone. We all need help. There are many kinds of change agents--some positive, some negative. Some people claim to be change agents but really contribute more to patterns of abuse, negativity and stagnancy than real change. People so focused on changing others' behaviors often don't have time to address their own issues. I spent a long time doing this. Positive change agents gently address themselves first and foremost and then deftly inspire change in others.
5) THEY SEE EVERYTHING AS HAPPENING FOR THEM, NOT TO THEM
Listen for people who constantly call up experiences they have as blessings in disguise. If they are talking about the same things time after time and not making connections or seeing patterns, they aren't ready to change. When you hear someone naming experiences and identifying a bigger reason or Purpose or a grander plan involving their transformation, buckle your seatbelt. They are ready to rock.
If you're a change agent and work with people who love it like you do, run through this checklist and see how you're doing. Consider your clients, colleagues and the other relationships in your life.
What do you see? What did you learn? How will you use it moving forward?
Split pea soup is ridiculously easy to make and really good for you because the peas are so high in protein. You might have seen pea protein powders taking over the shelves at your local health food store or Whole Foods, and that's why.
Rather than consume highly-processed protein powders (I'm tossing the canister I bought last month) can I suggest you make this soup instead?
I call it Sassy Split Pea because I added a ton of garlic, enough to keep a vampire away as well as everyone else, and a dash of chili powder, curry powder and some other spices and herbs because I was in a creative mood. I felt a little sassy tossing stuff in there that wouldn't normally be included in a recipe. I felt a little rebellious.
As we head into cooler weather, make this soup in large amounts and freeze for those nights you don't feel like cooking.
Sassy Split Pea Soup (with or without bacon)
2 cups green split peas 4 cups water or broth (add 3 bouillon cubes to the water if you aren't using broth) 3 small carrots, sliced 1 medium Russet potato, diced 3 large cloves of garlic, minced 3 pieces well-done organic, uncured bacon (like Niman Ranch or Applegate) 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables 1 cup collard greens, finely chopped
1/2 tsp dried sage 1/2 tsp dried thyme 1/2 tsp curry powder 1/4 tsp chili powder 1/2 tsp sea salt
Soak the split peas in a large pot, covered with water for 4-5 hours. Strain and rinse. Fill pot with 4 cups water or broth and bring to a boil. Add peas and reduce heat to medium, stir and let peas cook for 20-40 mins, checking often and stirring.
Add carrots, potatoes, collards and spices. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and simmer until peas are broken down completely and vegetables are soft.
Serve hot alongside some multi-grain or gluten-free toast with butter.
There are a lot of coaches doing the work I do.
There are a lot of people in the business of health and wellness, competing for the same time, energy, air space, resources, money, clients, etc. Sometimes it makes me a little nervous, I'll be honest. Industry experts and trade secrets tell me I am either crazy or right-on to tell you this, which is a whole other blog post for another time--that whole authenticity thing. Stay tuned for that one. For now, let's stay here--with fear, doubt and what you can do with it.
It's true. Sometimes, I get especially nervous when I see someone copying something I've just launched, taking material I put out there (maybe a recipe or a blog post or twitter bio) and passing it off as their own without a mention or reference as to the source of inspiration. Despite that old saying, "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" sometimes it doesn't feel that way, especially when you're talking about building and sustaining a business. It's easy to get small and concerned and need the validation and maybe even a little frustrated when you think someone is stealing your spotlight--or your brand or your message or __something__ faster, bigger, sooner or better. Can you relate?
Well, it isn't true, because no one can do you like you do. It's just not possible.
For instance, I saw this guy online, a big twitter personality with massive numbers of followers, suddenly start talking about health and nutrition. Since he has built his business around being a guru of marketing, it surprised me that he was now talking about health and fitness considering he didn't really have "credentials" to do it. I got all up in my head thinking about his reach and his advantage, etc. etc. And I even went to that "but he knows nothing about nutrition" place. That dark, small, lonely space. Hmm.
Then, I paid closer attention and realized he was on a path, himself, to become more healthy. He was busting his ass day in and day out trying to find the answers and solutions he needed to feel better in his skin. I instantly got flooded with compassion and, I'll admit, love. He was walking his talk, just like me, trying to get from A to B and inspire people along the way. When I read his posts and followed his pictures on instagram, I realized it was nothing like what I'd do or promote or put out there as advice or ideas but his followers were eating it up, pun intended. It was working for him and that's all that mattered.
It was him doing him. And his followers needed that from him, because only he could do it like that.
I could go on with more stories but I think you get it. Whether it's someone changing his twitter bio to match what you say in yours (it's happened to me), sending a similar message in marketing, copying your recipes and not giving you credit (it happened to my friend) or heck, copying your interior design as they open a new business right across the street from you (also a true story), it can certainly bring up feelings of frustration, concern or worry. We can go to that place of scarcity and threat, that there isn't enough to go around and someone doing what you're doing takes away from what you're trying to accomplish. Think of the hours spent in litigation (legal or mental) over things like this and how much time it takes away from actually just DOING more of the stuff you love to do?
If you can allow those feelings to come up and get them out, it's a good thing. I can even go the Buddhist place with this stuff and tell you that it's all about impermanence, right? Wanting to hold onto something and make it be ours and ours forever--and not wanting it to end. Get present with that fear, get real with that concern and talk to someone about it or write it down. Then work on getting to the place of remembering that no one, NO ONE, can do you like you do. There's only one person who can say it like you'll say it, do it like you'll do it and sell it like only YOU can sell it.
Your sass. Your wit. Your insights. Your ideas. Your color. Your character. Your wisdom. Your experience. Your perspective.
Social media shows that everyone is doing their thing, adding their two cents to the hustle and competing against hundreds and thousands of competitors.
We can get caught up in the stress of trying to win "the game" with content, messaging and marketing all hours of the day or we can relax and stay true to us and what we love and want to create and share. Besides, we're all saying or doing the same things, in case you haven't noticed. We might as well add our voice to the mix for whomever needs to hear it as only we can, and feel damn good about when others do it themselves.