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Hello From The Other Side

 

 

 “Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.” -Eckhart Tolle

 

FIFTEEN weeks to get an answer to the cancer question. After surgical excision and biopsy of three suspicious masses, I’d finally be free of the uncertainty.

On the day results were due, I cleared my schedule. It would be hard to focus so I planned to run errands until my post-op appointment late that afternoon.

As I watched the garage door lift in my rearview mirror, I wondered, why did this happen to me?

My life had unfolded exactly as it was meant to, I trusted that. And I had learned some good lessons from all this along the way. But the big WHY escaped me.

A favorite podcast cued up on my phone for the ride. On episode #92 of The Gathering Pod, Martha Beck referred to the Chinese classic text, Tao te Ching, on the value of empty space.

“It is the space inside that holds what we need. The space in between is what is useful. That is where enlightenment comes from.”

My throat caught and tears slid down my face.

As I eased the car into a lucky front spot at the grocery store, I thought, maybe I needed to create more space inside me. There were some painful things I had been unable to let go. I had a feeling that’s what had to come out. I now walked around free of it.

As I filled the cart and checked items off my list, the idea of being more spacious settled in. I felt lighter. 

At checkout, I asked the bagger to help me to my car as I wasn’t supposed to be lifting anything heavy yet. As he loaded the trunk, my cel buzzed. DR. KARMIN flashed across the screen.

She had reviewed the pathology report and spoken to the surgeon.

“I didn’t want you to wait all day to hear that everything is totally benign.”

In the parking lot, I steadied myself on the car’s back bumper and cried.

Later that day, Dr. Mendez detached the velcro of my surgical tube top embroidered with a tiny flower. She carefully unwrapped me from the bandages. On top of my concern over the possible diagnosis, I’d wondered what sort of frankenboob situation I’d be left with.

“Look what a beautiful job I did.” She stepped back with a smile. She had worked meticulously to hide the stitches.  You could hardly tell I’d been through this ordeal. She was truly gifted.

The next day, I followed up with my functional medicine doctor. Chris Estes is a Columbia trained MD who is also a shaman. Until he expanded his practice, he’d worked in women’s reproductive health as a GYN, performing surgeries of the like I had just undergone.

Even though I understood that standard protocol had required removal of the type of masses I’d had, I still had questions. Since he is a total hippie like me, I knew he would understand.

“So why’d I have to do this if everything was benign?” I asked.

“The hospital sent me the 30 pages of notes from the surgery and I read them all. You had something called atypical ductal hyperplasia. While ADH is technically benign, it keeps company with cancer. Somewhere between ten and fifty per cent of these masses can become malignant. They absolutely needed to come out.”

I finally got it. There was a good chance that Dr. Karmin’s insistence on a mammogram* really had saved my life.

“I think I got it. Nothing helps you see your life more clearly than something like this,” I said.

“You might also think about how much you are over-giving, particularly to your kids who are growing up and will be out on their own soon. Men don’t do that.”

I had a solid record of over-sacrificing. But it wasn’t just that. One of my kids had been having a difficult time at home and at school. On far too many occasions, I had taken on the hard emotions of an experience that didn’t belong to me. I know with 100% certainty that this habit is bad for my health. I can’t do that anymore.

“So let me tell you about the new moon this Friday. This is a good time to let go and renew. You might want to do something symbolic to mark the occasion,” he said.

After our appointment, I googled it.

The August 2022 full moon provides an opportunity to set boundaries, make some changes, and create the life for yourself that you’ve always wanted. 

I’m on it. I will write down everything I want to let go, set fire to it and watch it float away.

When we trust that our life is unfolding exactly as it should and we release what does not serve us, we get the sense that it’s all going to be okay.

Love,

Elizabeth

POWERFUL QUESTION: How can you make more space inside yourself to allow something new to emerge?

I offer 1:1 coaching using the Wayfinder Coaching model designed by Martha Beck. If you would like to find out if this work is right for you, email to schedule a Discovery Session at elizabeth@elizabethheise.com. If you are family or a friend, I have a wonderful coaching community who are ready to partner with you.

Do my weekly stories come to your inbox? If not, you are invited to sign up. Click on elizabethheise.com to subscribe. And if you like, come find me on the socials: @elizabethheise.coach on Instagram and @heiseelizabeth1 on Twitter. Happy reading!

*I also asked Estes about thermograms. “I don’t like them. They haven’t kept pace with the technological developments of mammography and MRI because there is no money in it. A mammogram emits a nominal amount of radiation. I recommend MRIs judiciously because gadolinium used in contrast can cause heavy metal toxicity.” Well. That settles it for me. No more thermograms.

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If This Was Your Last Day On Earth


Live each day like it was your last.

We hear that a lot. The notion is ridiculous. On that advice, we’d all be running up our credit cards at the Four Seasons, Bora Bora (see above).

But there are moments when you do suddenly realize you don’t have time to lose. For me, that was this week. The long delayed surgery date had finally arrived.


As I studied the hospital forms*, including an exhaustive list of potential adverse reactions, I thought, I could actually die. And it wasn’t me spinning a nightmare scenario. This was just plain old informed consent.

That got me thinking about the weekend—my last before this unnerving event. The awareness that tomorrow is never guaranteed must have been floating around inside me. I had decided to have that conversation.

Sunday happened to be the first glimpse of what it will be like for my husband and me once our three teenagers are off having their lives. Our daughter had just left back to college, our middle son was away at camp and the little one had a sleepover that would extend into the afternoon.

I asked Mark to join me on an early morning walk.

Before the pandemic, weekly date nights had given us regular opportunities to reconnect outside our role as parents. After two plus years without that time, we’d become accustomed to living more as a triage operation. We shared information on a need to know basis without periodic breaks just for the two of us.

 

 

We set out early, the clouds still tinged with sunrise pink. Movement gets the body, the heart and the mind moving. We walked for a few blocks in silence.

Once we crossed the bridge, I asked him what he wanted for himself in our relationship. I wondered if, after all this time, we valued different things.

It was no mystery how we had arrived at this place. At the start of any relationship, especially with no children, it’s all sunshine and bluebirds. When life gets messy, and ours certainly had over twenty-six years, you revert back to your roots communication-wise.

If you saw a snapshot of our two sets of parents, you’d know how we got to be opposites on this front. When Mark invited me to meet his folks for the first time, he asked, “did you ever seen that show, Dynasty? My parents are the Carringtons.” Mine are their opposite: Jewish hippie divorcees. 

With all that had been happening in our home—pandemic teenagers, work interruptions, illnesses— the hushed, polite exchanges Mark preferred just hadn’t been possible. On too many occasions, I’d held in what I had to say. For me, stuffed feelings become flinty. Then one little spark sets the whole thing ablaze. On those occasions, Mark had said less and less.

On our walk, I told him I could do without the tone policing. When I express myself and he doesn’t respond, I feel alone. That is no way to feel in a couple.

He said because of how emotional I get, he holds back when he disagrees with me. We have both had unhelpful thoughts about each other.

She is too volatile for a conversation.

If he cared, he would share openly with me.

I said what I had to say and he didn’t ask me to express myself in a more polite way. He shared that he’d like to feel more connected too.

After letting each other in for the first time in ages, we truly enjoyed the day together. Like we remembered we are each other’s person. Like before our kids were born. If you are a parent, you remember that time. There’s nothing you wouldn’t do for your person. There’s a palpable sweetness in everything.

 

 

We brunched, we beached, we discovered a delicious new taco place and had margaritas, we ended the day in each others arms listening to our favorite Seventies Love Songs. It was the perfect reset.

When you decide what you want in your life, there is no need to put it off. Cheers to creating the life you want.

Love,

Elizabeth

POWERFUL QUESTION: What relationship could benefit from a reset for you? How can you have the courage to ask for what you want? What will help you do that?

Do my weekly stories come to your inbox? If not, you are invited to sign up. Click on elizabethheise.com and subscribe today. And if you like, come find me on the socials: @elizabethheise.coach on Instagram and @heiseelizabeth1 on Twitter. Happy reading!

Wondering how to muster the courage to ask for what you want? Mindset coaching may be just the thing. If you are interested in doing this work, you are invited to set up a Discovery Session with me at elizabeth@elizabethheise.com. 

*As a lawyer, those forms always make me smile. Free bit of legal advice: if they do something wrong, you can sue. Don’t ever think you sign your rights away. It’s just a matter of establishing causation and whether the damages are worth the effort bc it takes forever and can be expensive to pay for expert testimony.

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Finding Your Voice Honors The Voiceless

A black and white photo of a family of Hungarian Jews at the Jewish Museum in Berlin had haunted me for days. The bewildered look in their eyes, the exhausted slump of their shoulders, makeshift bags full of everything they owned. The light eyes and dark curly hair. They looked like me.

I’ve known the history for a lifetime. But visiting Berlin, being in close proximity to where this horrible plan was conceived and carried out, changed the impact. It felt acutely personal.

Of all the travel I have done on my own and with the family, I hadn’t considered Germany.* As a Jew, albeit not a terribly observant one, that country wasn’t on my list.

My own reservations aside, the idea of this trip came up when my son decided on a German language camp for the summer. His interest stemmed from family heritage on his dad’s side. My late father-in-law had been raised in East Berlin until the end of World War II when Russian Stasi forced his family out of their home at gunpoint. He was just a boy at the time. His family carried the few belongings they could manage and set out on foot to his aunt’s home. Fortunately for them, the new address became West Berlin. His family emigrated to the United States not long afterward. He wrote a book about the experience entitled Das Haus.

My extended family in Hungary had also been forced from their homes, along with 450,000 other Hungarian Jews. The end result was not relocation, however. It was likely Auschwitz. I say likely because when my father attempted to find our living Hungarian relatives, he was instead referred to the Auschwitz Registry. He didn’t have the heart to look. It’s possible to hire someone to conduct the search, but he couldn’t bring himself to do that either.

The reason I am here to tell you this story, however, is that my great grandparents, Emanuel and Berta Lefkowitz, got out before any of that happened. My father had assumed their departure stemmed from being harassed. Any student of world history knows that antisemitism dates all the way back to ancient times.** Hateful myths about Jews have been perpetuated generation after generation and continue to the present day.

But that’s not the reason they left. Emanuel had responded to a US based advertising campaign for workers to help build the subway in New York City. My great grandfather had mining experience. The family he left behind met a fate about which we still know nothing.

Not that we ever talked about any of that growing up. Back then, my mother had converted from Catholicism to marry my father. Dad had been raised by Conservative Jewish parents in very Jewish New York City. My parents wanted to start over somewhere far away from the pressures of their respective families. It didn’t matter to them that we totally stuck out in New Mexico.

Despite leaving her faith, mom kept her Christmas tree, which we kids loved. Raised casually Jewish in very Catholic Albuquerque, not one of my friends knew I was Jewish. I even attended Catholic School. From the knowing glare on Sister Mary Dorothy’s face, I picked up on the fact that it would be better to keep quiet about it.

 

After being in this place where it happened and visiting what is left to remember it all: a restored Jewish cemetery, evocative memorials to the millions who perished, the museums curated with such care, I struggled to figure out what to do with the enormity of it. Under the weight of such overwhelming loss, I didn’t know how to stop carrying the past around with me.

As I have done over and over when I have trouble making sense of things, I spent time in nature. I scheduled a session with one of my favorite Wayfinder Coaches, Hope Cook. As a more cultural, less practicing Jew, how could I be true to my own spirituality and still honor the lives of those lost just for being Jewish? Hope dropped breadcrumbs that lead me back to myself.

 

In that session, I discovered that my silence about being Jewish was my earliest memory of hiding who I really am. I kept quiet for the comfort of others and to save myself from judgment and discrimination. That external silence then became internal. Any feeling that made me uncomfortable or upset, I pushed it down and marched on. Divorce, dishonesty, betrayal, whatever. The habit became so automatic, I began to feel only numbness where emotions used to be. Ignore your own feelings long enough and they bury themselves. Your own intuition becomes dull. It has taken a long time for me to get back in touch with my true feelings. I am still working on it.

To honor those with no voice, I will make better use of my own. I am here to encourage you to raise your own voice too, to the extent you are safe enough to do that. We have all been trained to take the path of least resistance. But I am here to tell you, it is bad for your health.

Need to do your work in a way that makes sense for you? Don’t apologize for it. Feeling discomfort around someone’s bigoted comment? Shine a light on it. Need to have a conversation about money? Take a deep breath and go to it. Don’t wait for the stress to build and detonate. Stay true to you.

That is how I will honor those who have been denied their voice. I will be as loud as necessary.

Love,

Elizabeth

POWERFUL QUESTIONS: In what situations do you silence yourself for the comfort of others? Where would it help you to live more authentically? What does staying true to yourself look like? 

______

I offer one on one coaching using the Wayfinder Coaching model developed by Martha Beck. If you would like to find out if this work is right for you, email me to schedule a Discovery Session at elizabeth@elizabethheise.com. And if you are family or a friend, I have a wonderful coaching community who are ready to partner with you. Coach Hope Cook at coachhopecook.com is outstanding.

Do my weekly stories come to your inbox? If not, you are invited to sign up. Click on elizabethheise.com to subscribe. Got a friend who might be interested? I invite you to forward. And if you like, come find me on the socials: @elizabethheise.coach on Instagram and @heiseelizabeth1 on Twitter. Thank you for reading.

*When I spoke to my father about this, he observed that Germany has done a better job than any country educating their citizens, taking care not to normalize what happened. From what I noticed, I completely agree. Everywhere we went, tours of historical sites were being conducted in German for Germans. Throughout the country, it is against the law to call someone a Nazi, even in jest.

**https://www.ushmm.org/antisemitism/what-is-antisemitism/why-the-jews-history-of-antisemitism

 

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In Prison With The Door Wide Open

Most of us are afraid to break the rules. We do what is expected of us because we imagine what others might think if we don’t. We conform to overt social pressure and to subtler, unconscious influences alike.

In our family, we have my husband who was raised to respect the rules. And then we have me, raised half by hippies, half by myself. I am a jay walker, a fence jumper, a user of men’s bathrooms when they have no line. I am not necessarily advocating this way of life 100% of the time. I once hopped a flimsy barricade put up after hurricane damage and snapped a fibula. With a few exceptions, if rules seem pointless or discriminatory, I treat them as gentle suggestions.

Whether or not you were raised to defer to authority, we all want to feel a sense of belonging. Most of us try to mold ourselves into the most acceptable version with the right clothes, the right hair, the right body. We do our best to avoid the judgment of others for falling out of line.

And we believe everyone is judging us.

According to sociologists, we each have a “generalized other,” whose judgment we fear the most. In fact, without being conscious of it, we have actual individuals we imagine doing the judging. According to Martha Beck, we each have approximately three such folks in mind.

When you picture your three, who are they? Your parents? Members of your religious community? Neighbors?

When I thought about my everyone, i.e., the ones I imagine scrutinizing my every move, I think of two particular family members and a mean lady on the PTA. I would name them all but then, like fly paper, they’d read this story and I’d be forced into an awkward convo.

Unwittingly, we make major life choices to satisfy our judges. In retrospect, it may have been why I became a lawyer. The old men at the firm hated all my awesome suggestions. I hadn’t been properly trained to keep quiet. I tried to fit that mold but it just wasn’t me.

While most of us spend a lifetime trying to fit in, it’s ironic that we also deeply admire those who stay true to themselves no matter the consequences.

This week, while traveling with my family to Berlin, I witnessed the most striking example of this paradox. Not a contemporary case, but a historical one that drove the point home like no other.

After Jewish-owned businesses were boycotted in Nazi Germany, a Jewish shop owner hung this sign:

 

I think we can all agree that demonstrating such courage to be unapologetically who you are in the face of the highest possible stakes is profoundly inspiring. Why? Because in the truest part of ourselves, we all wish we could be that brave. To be oneself no matter what. To live free of the opinions of others, even if they could kill you. Or in the case of this remarkable person, even WHEN they definitely would.

But the reality is, that after a lifetime of being conditioned to fit a particular mold, so many of us don’t even know ourselves well enough to stand up for who we are. We have been so busy trying to do what is expected of us that we live by committee.

How can you tell if you do this? When you have decisions to make, big or small, do you ask the advice of other people?

If you think about it, why would you ask someone else to tell you what you want? They are not you. We are all so profoundly different. If this strikes a cord, it’s time to get to know yourself better.

If this is disconcerting, you are not alone. Society was designed to make you afraid to be exactly who you are. From the moment we are born, we are socialized to please. At times it was a matter of survival. But trying to be good in the eyes of others has caused us to doubt ourselves. Most of us have unwittingly aligned with our imagined judges. We are now our own harshest critics.

But we can stop to look around and recognize that we have choices. We do not live in a fascist regime. We are free to live how we wish. That is not to say that we don’t stand to lose anything. We do. But it could just be the life we never needed in the first place.

In the five days since we have been in this place where millions of innocent people were stripped of their agency to live their own truth, it is clearer than ever to me that our freedom is a priceless gift. We don’t have to live in a prison with the door wide open.

So. In the words of the great poet Mary Oliver, what are you going to do with your one wild and precious life?

Sending love and courage to be yourself,

Elizabeth

Need help figuring out what you really want? I offer one on one coaching using the Wayfinder Coaching model designed by Martha Beck. If you would like to find out if this work is right for you, email me at elizabeth@elizabethheise.com to schedule a Discovery Session. And if you are family or a friend, I have a wonderful coaching community who are ready to partner with you.

Do my weekly stories come to your inbox? If not, you are invited to sign up. Click on elizabethheise.comand subscribe today. And if you like, come find me on the socials: @elizabethheise.coach on Instagram and @heiseelizabeth1 on Twitter. Happy reading!

 

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You Can Have What You Want Right Now

*

We are often confused about what we really want in life. This happens because of cultural conditioning that convinces us we should want a whole other set of things that will actually never bring us happiness.

It’s critical to have this information about yourself. Why? Because our brains are constantly sorting information. When you know your desired path, you are pulled in that direction. It’s a neuroscientific fact.

But first, you must know what you really really want. There is a method to find that out and a way to get it right now.

I’ll explain.

An unexpected trip out to Albuquerque, New Mexico last summer left me thinking I might like to live there again one day. My Dad’s health issue resolved and the trip turned out to be just an opportunity for me to visit him and reacquaint myself with the picturesque Southwestern setting of my youth.

When I arrived home to Miami, I stalked the real estate market. Daily alerts from realtor.com left me longing for the mountains etched on the edge of town, cool mornings in the high desert climate, and the slower pace of life. My husband, who’d envisioned retiring near a ski mountain, remained unconvinced. With retirement a way’s off, we could debate it later.

Then, as part of Wayfinder coaching, I learned an exercise called The Ideal Day.* It’s a way to determine what you truly want your life to look and feel like, even the precise location you prefer to live. The questions are designed to engage the right brain, i.e., your intuitive, creative side—not the left side which will only tell you what you should do and none of what brings you true peace and contentment.

To my surprise, Albuquerque was not my dream destination.

 

This news came as a shock. I didn’t want to move back to Albuquerque? When I think of home, that’s it. It’s the only address I remember from childhood: 1833 Quiet Lane and the only phone number 877-8280. I even had my first kiss behind the spruce tree at Immaculate Conception Church. My very first best friend still lives there along with lots of people who are so special to me.

And then, just last week, on another impromptu trip to New Mexico, came clear confirmation that our creative, connected side really does hold all the answers.

 

 

 

The need for a break from my own unexplained health event brought me back to the place I feel most at home. I indulged in all my favorite things: endless trail runs, sunrise mountain views, old friends, huevos rancheros with extra green chile.

On the third day in Albuquerque, an anxious flutter crept into my body. (It wasn’t all the chile.) With deep breaths and meditation, it stopped for a little while but I couldn’t get rid of it.

And then something interesting happened. On Friday, I drove up to Santa Fe for my last few days. About fifteen minutes out of Albuquerque, the anxiety fluttered away and didn’t return.  The familiar but new mountain range ahead gave me a feeling of freedom and expansion.

Because I had trusted my creative brain enough to follow its lead, I had already asked around for a real estate agent up there. I received several recommendations but Lori Montoya was the perfect one out of the 2000 agents in tiny Santa Fe. My Ideal Day exercise had revealed that I really want a mountain home outside Santa Fe with a little casita in which to practice. Running trails to the national forest accessible from the back yard. A home a bit out of town is exactly where I want to be.

The very first home we walked into was IT. Tons of natural light, sweeping views of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, gorgeous finishes. Aside from being just the right balance of Santa Fe and contemporary style, they’d also gone to great expense to take care of the environment. Down the mountain, the owners had built a cistern room for rainwater collection tanks to irrigate their vegetable garden and landscaping. The whole place had been built on top of an enormous rose quartz crystal that filled it with good energy. Seriously.

For the rest of the weekend, I exchanged emails with the realtor for further details and shared them with my husband Mark. As my and I gallery hopped down Canyon Road, toured the Matteucci sculpture garden and took in the majestic mountains from her deck, I fantasized about having a life there.

“Did you put an offer in??” Mark asked, figuring I’d soon be sending for my things.

 

On my last night, a glorious rainbow lit up the sky. I looked up the sign: new beginnings, impermanence, good luck, equality and peace. I’ll take it!

I arrived home late Sunday night to reports of teenage friends mouthing off to my neighbors, my kids doctor’s appointments scheduled over my standing coaching session and afternoon webinar. All day to day home operations shifted back to me while my husband returned to his tidy, peaceful office. Hard to believe just hours before I’d been crunching along a trail, breathing in mountain air, enjoying the birdsong.

That night, we talked about the house.

“For the price, it doesn’t even have a/c. Or window treatments.” Mark said.

“But it was so cool during the hottest part of the day,” I said.

“Plus, didn’t you want a casita for work? I really was hoping for more land than that. And to be further out of town. Seems like that’s the way to get more for your money.”

I emailed my lovely realtor and the dream house slowly faded to black.

My attitude began to sour. I realized I had some work to do. That afternoon, I scheduled a coaching session for myself. The only way I can be the untroubled space for someone else is to examine my own thinking first.

I described the situation and my coach suggested The Ideal Day exercise. I settled in, took a few deep breaths and she lead me through the questions.

 

 

I imagined myself waking up in The Dream House. With no window treatments, the tiniest hint of day break gently woke me up. I tiptoed out of bed not to disturb Mark, grabbed a cozy throw, my journal and favorite pen. A mug and peppermint tea sat out on the kitchen island for quick prep. The enormous windows revealed the sunrise moment to moment. As blue came through, the pink and purple clouds stretched across the horizon. I snuggled on a comfy sofa on the deck outside and took in the slow motion fireworks display. When enough light allowed me to write, I sipped from the steaming mug and completed my morning pages.

My ideal day included healthy food and plenty of time to work, read, write, and rest.

At the end of it, my kids and husband showed up to help prepare dinner, enjoy each other’s company and watch the sunset together. Everyone cooked and cleaned equally. At night, Mark and I had time to read together and go to sleep early.

“What meaning does the sunrise and sunset hold for you?” the coach asked.

“To show up for it means that I make myself available for beauty. That every day I get a chance to do that for myself. It also means that no matter what is going on, there are always beautiful moments. Right now, our life has a lot of angsty teenage energy. It is a hard time but there is also so much beauty in finding out who you are. This will pass too, along with all the other stages of childhood. And soon it will be just Mark and me again. This is our family’s sunrise.”

“What can you do right now that will remind you of what it feels like to have already achieved this life?”

Being in that ideal day felt FREE. It didn’t take me long to think about how to be free in my life today. I want the kids to pitch in more. I don’t want to wait on perfectly capable people. We are already moving in that direction but it would help me to clearly articulate it. I planned to talk to them at dinner that night.

Also, I really do want to show up for the sunrise more. I see it briefly once a week on my long run but I can’t run 8 1/2 miles every morning. I could ride my bike but it got destroyed by the elements when I left it outside our rental during the last home renovation. I’d been wanting to get a new bike for a long time. Riding my bike made me feel free.

As I set the table that night, I thought about what to say to the kids about pitching in.

“If you don’t want to make dinner anymore, we can just all do our own thing,” one kid said with a frown.

It must feel weird when your mom says she wants to stop doing things for you.

“That’s not what I mean. Having dinner together is important. And so is learning to be self-sufficient and making a contribution. The way parents teach that is to first do things for you, then do them with you, then you do them on your own.”

I got some pushback, but they heard me. It will be a process. Asking for what you want isn’t really about the outcome. It is about doing the thing and becoming the sort of person who asks for what she needs. I did it and it felt good.

 

The next morning, my coaching session cancelled unexpectedly. I took it as a sign that it was time to find a new bike to get me to that sunrise. At Mack Cycle, Ricardo led me straight to The Bike which will be awesome on the nature trail to Matheson Hammock and the mountains of New Mexico. It fit perfectly in my backseat.

 

Pre-dawn the next day, I was so excited to go see the sunrise on my new bike, that I woke up way too early so I wrote until it was time to go. As I peddled hard down my street in the pre-dawn darkness, the bright light I’d attached to the front lit my way. I felt free. On this bike, I can go anywhere on my own, any day.

The sunrise was glorious.

 

And this is how you manifest your ideal life. You find the feeling you want, then bring it into your everyday life. I want a beautiful sunrise, to ask for what I want and the freedom and expansiveness that comes from that. I found it here on an average day. And one day in the not too distant future, I’ll have it in Santa Fe.

So. The question is, what do you really want? Take it from me, you are already 100% certain of it.

Love,

Elizabeth

POWERFUL QUESTION: In the wee hours, what do you yearn for?

**I offer one on one coaching using the Wayfinder Coaching model designed by Martha Beck. If you would like to find out if this work is right for you, email me to schedule a Discovery Session. And if you are family or a friend, I have a wonderful coaching community who are ready to partner with you.

Do my weekly stories come to your inbox? If not, you are invited to sign up. Click on elizabethheise.com and subscribe today. And if you like, come find me on the socials: @elizabethheise.writer on Instagram and @heiseelizabeth1 on Twitter. Happy reading!

*thanks Kellee!

 

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Be Gentle With Your Shadow Self

 

For me, a visit to New Mexico always brings out my shadow self. Here in this beautiful place, it’s as if a protective layer has been stripped off and nerve endings are exposed. Like that twelve year girl who left here when her family blew apart, stored up all the hard emotions for me to claim upon my return. All those years ago, she didn’t feel safe enough to bare the full weight of them. The grown up version of her does though. So, here I am, able to feel it all.

If you are unfamiliar with your shadow, we all have one. Psychiatrist Carl Jung believed our unconscious is made up of different layers. We come into this world open and free of judgment for anyone, including ourselves. As we grow up, we receive messages about what is acceptable to our parents, teachers, our religious community, and what is not. We are judged by others and in turn judge ourselves. The “unacceptable” parts are pushed into the hidden part of our psyche. 

Jung believed the shadow holds positive traits that were invalidated or minimized by those around us. We repress those parts in an effort to protect our authentic self. But by doing so, we lose touch with those pieces of who we are.

Everyone longs to feel whole and peaceful. That is why learning to reintegrate all our various selves is so important.

My shadow is the part of me who feels totally mortified by making her needs met. It is the scared, hurt version who was rejected for asking. Growing up, I had no qualms doing so. As one of four kids, I received the message that I was too demanding. I still asked for what I needed but felt bad about myself for doing it. And then my mother left. That combination left me feeling that asking was a spectacularly bad idea.

 

When I come to town, asking for what I need is so difficult I find myself short of breath.  And when I do it with folks who still expect me to deny myself, the rejection is more shocking and awful than I remember. It’s possible I am actually feeling it for the first time.

One way we can recognize our shadow selves is by observing our triggers. Because this place can be a minefield for that, I have watched myself run away from situations that cause me anxiety; extend invitations out of guilt that did not serve me; and feel deep shame over the rejection from stating my needs. I am often surprised by how much work I still have to do. And then I am reminded that we are constantly unfolding and evolving into our truest selves. I am gratified to be doing the work.

 

The part of me who is hyper-vigilant to avoid rejection walks around feeling like she must only be concerned about everyone else. That way of thinking grew up right here in New Mexico. My way of guarding against being abandoned was to people please til the cows come home. Here, the urge to do it is intense and automatic. When I am not doing it well enough or fast enough, I panic and start to lose things. On separate occasions, I have lost my phone, my car keys and my sunglasses. Each time, I stopped to re-center. And luckily I found my stuff.

I realize the only way to make peace in my mind and body is to be gentle with my shadow. I appreciate all her efforts to protect me. She is safe now and welcome to join the rest of who I have become today.

Here is what I am doing to make peace:

  1. Becoming a curious observer.  My dear friend Ilana is great at this. When she experiences a trigger or notices a problematic behavior, it is her cue to get curious. “That was interesting!” she exclaims. When we become aware of patterns and themes, we build self-awareness. Spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle believes that awareness is all we need to begin to change. The more we learn to witness how our minds work, the more we see how our shadow influences us.
  1. Practicing non-judgment. It cannot be overstated how much judgment gets in the way of expressing our true selves and being the space for others to do the same. Judgment is why we repress our healthy parts in the first place. When we chastise ourselves for “doing the wrong thing” we become the problem. We heap more disapproval on our own shoulders because we have been conditioned by our the world around us to do it. I will not judge that little girl in me for trying to make everyone happy. All she wanted was love and she tried so, so hard. Still does.

  1. Find support. If you need to uncover trauma and recover from it, therapy is the best option. If you are at the point of discovering what you really want for yourself and would like to develop steps to get there, you can do it in partnership with a coach.* For me, here, I have been fortunate to find comfort in nature and the company of old friends. They know why I came here and have shown up so beautifully. My dear Ilana picked me up at the airport with a chilled bottle of alkaline water and gluten-free snacks. She drove us all over Santa Fe and willingly submitted to a steady diet of green chile of which she has already had her fill after living here a lifetime. She even set me up with a borrowed car, sparing me my dad’s ancient Volvo. My friend Jenny devoted her entire day off to me and assembled a gorgeous care package, including a journal, the first page in her tidy cursive of a Navajo poem I heard once and never forgot. (!!!) And a lumbar pillow hand-stitched by her loving mother Sally who recently passed. Decades ago, Sally took me in when I had nowhere, despite family living in town. My very first best friend Natalie and elementary school pal Alberta both made time to reconnect, share and listen. My friend Jill welcomed me to her home without hesitation. We will spend this weekend hiking, gallery hopping down Canyon Road and enjoying the last bits of Santa Fe before I head home.
  1. Journal. I am living proof of the physical and mental health benefits of getting your thoughts and feelings out of your body and onto the page. I have lived this over and over and the results are well worth it. Naming the emotions you are expressing and the situations in which they are triggered helps. The how and why are important to notice the patterns. You will figure yourself out this way, I promise. If you share it with a compassionate witness, so much the better. Thank you for being that for me.

Your shadow self just needs love and understanding, not more judgment. I hope you find your own way of embracing that hidden little person inside of you.

Love,

Elizabeth

POWERFUL QUESTIONS: In what situations do you find your shadow self making an appearance? Can you get curious about where that behavior came from? How might you meet the moment with compassion for your shadow?

*I am now trained to offer one on one sessions using the Wayfinder Coaching model designed by Martha Beck. If you would like to find out if this work is right for you, you are invited to schedule a Discovery Session at elizabeth@elizabethheise.com. And if you are family or a friend, I have a wonderful coaching community who are ready to partner with you.

Do my weekly stories come to your inbox? If not, you are invited to sign up. Click on elizabethheise.comand subscribe today. And if you like, come find me on the socials for my daily(ish) essayettes: @elizabethheise.coach on Instagram and @heiseelizabeth1 on Twitter. Happy reading!

 

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What To Do With A Spinning Compass

“The insurance company approved the right breast, but hasn’t approved the left yet,” the surgical planner announced to my husband and me as we sat in the waiting room.

Walking into The Miami Cancer Institute that morning, this was the last thing I had expected. A couple of months of uncertainty had lead me to this point. An excisional biopsy. And an answer.

 

“I’m so sorry,” she said, her mask muffling the words.

“They know I have two, right?” I asked. The young woman looked stricken. This whole thing had turned seriously unfunny.

She offered another surgery date over a month away. There would be no pathology report for ten days after that. More waiting, more uncertainty.

Something about this continued upheaval rang familiar.

When I was a kid, right after my parents divorced, we became nomads. Mom left and my dad uprooted what was left of our family. We moved from our home in Albuquerque across the country and kept right on moving. No sure footing for years. Over and over, I’d ask if this time we’d be staying, desperate to regain a sense of belonging somewhere—like I had in New Mexico. Actually, I didn’t know I had that until it was gone.

The constant uncertainty left me feeling unmoored, not just from my home, but from everything.

My internal compass had started spinning once again.

As I sat there, listening to Mark curse the no good thieves at our insurance company, it dawned on me. Yes it sucks to wait more, it really does suck. But. This was found time. I had planned for my recuperation. Post surgical orders had me wrapped in tight bandages for ten days, no exercise or even a shower. No swimming in the ocean for thirty days after that. This further delay handed me back all that time.

But what to do? I could hardly feel the vinyl bench beneath me, let alone figure out what I needed.

 

 

We drove home. I snipped off my hospital band and went about my work.

It took a couple of days to sink in. Running my favorite route under the trees helped put me back in my body. It became clear that I needed to go off somewhere and take care of myself. I had options but felt overwhelmed with the decision. Coaching is great for this so I reached out to my fellow coaches and swapped sessions.

A compassionate witness asking powerful questions without giving advice brought out the answers that were already inside me. I will share those great questions with you in case you have a big decision to make. At the end of this inquiry, I had a plan:

What do you really need? 

Peace. I had to get away on my own. But deciding where to go was a whole thing. We have a big family trip in two weeks. I have to treat my body with care, especially in the run up to this operation.

What will help you decide? 

Being sure everyone would be okay at home and all would be peaceful in the place I chose to go. I have three teens here on summer break, one of whom I have been stealthily hovering over since the pandemic started. Adult eyes would need to be on him.

What are the options?

A group of friends were headed to a big lake house at the foot of the Alps. On paper, that seemed like the easy answer. Plenty of room, spectacular nature, and I was invited. Travel would be a full day or more. And another option. All these tests had required me to cancelled plans to go to Sedona. A dear family friend had suggested it. She is like a sister but without all the actual family history and lingering complications. On my last trip to New Mexico we decided we would stay in better touch.

What would peace look like for you? 

Mountains, green chile, and my dear friend.

I called her yesterday to float the idea of my coming. In the span of five minutes, she had cancelled her holiday weekend plans to spend it with me. I found an idyllic, seventy-seven acre property in Santa Fe with lovely casitas and hiking trails. One miraculously became available. There would be mountains, green chile and my dear friend. I’d spend the rest of the week down in Albuquerque, popping in on other friends who are like family. One little room at the inn on a lavender field would be mine. At the end of the week, I have no idea what I am doing. It is a welcome uncertainty—one of my own making for a change. With those remaining days, I will do what suits me.

When your compass is spinning, nature, movement and powerful questions will help slow it down. 

“Security lies in adapting to constant change.”*

When you are finally pointed in the direction that is right for you, you get the sense that it’s all going to be okay.

Love,

Elizabeth

POWERFUL QUESTIONS: What do you need to bring peace? What helps you decide what that looks like?

*Martha Beck said this in Finding Your North Star: Claiming the Life You were Meant to Live. I highly recommend it. She is brilliant.

I’ve started a coaching practice. This work leads to uncovering what is holding you back and how to overcome those obstacles. With the right questions, you will figure out what you might tweak to direct yourself toward what you really want. If you are interested, I invite you to email me to schedule a Discovery Session at elizabeth@elizabethheise.com. This work will change your life.

Do my weekly stories come to your inbox? If not, you are invited to sign up. Click on elizabethheise.com and subscribe today. And if you like, come find me on the socials: @elizabethheise.coach on Instagram and @heiseelizabeth1 on Twitter. Happy reading!

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Notice What Is Hiding In Plain Sight

A story about a woman who didn’t know why she suffered panic attacks has stuck in my head. Out for a run, she collapsed to the ground, short of breath and full of terror. It had happened over and over.*

Her therapist asked if she’d ever experienced anything traumatic.

“No,” she said.

Sometime later, she blurted out, “Once a man broke in and robbed me at gunpoint.”

“Why didn’t you tell me about this before?” the therapist asked.

“I forgot,” she said.

“You didn’t forget,” The therapist said. She explained that the woman had never allowed herself to process the emotions of that night. Instead of feeling them, she had stored them in her body. Now every time she went out for a run, her racing heart and shortness of breath triggered the thought, you are not safe. Her body panicked. And it was getting worse.

The therapist invited her to tell the story and experience the feelings again and again in that supportive environment. Every time you let the memories come and you do not die, you send your brain the message that you are safe. That a very bad thing happened to you once upon a time, but that thing is not happening now. She recommended that the woman openly share her story until her body finally registered the truth: she is safe.

Why am I telling you someone else’s story? Because that story told me mine. And maybe this one will tell you yours.

To fully know ourselves, we must be aware of what we are holding on to, and where in our bodies we are holding it. We all process emotion differently—the important thing is to actually process it. I spent twenty years in therapy, but was never asked where in my body I had felt pain.

During my own runs, I have wondered how someone as healthy as I am finds herself with a high risk breast disease such as this “radial scar.” I have three of them in my chest and they will be removed this Tuesday. The need to know how this happens stopped me in my tracks the other day to google it one more time. Localized inflammatory reaction. Chronic ischemia. Slow infarction. Something terrible had been taking place in there and it had escaped my notice altogether.

And then a friend asked what emotions I have held in my chest. Sometimes we don’t see something right in front of our face because it has always been there. Luckily, I have actually written my entire story. I’d find the trail of breadcrumbs if there was one.

I did a word search of my completed manuscript and it came up over and over.

regret tightening my chest

longing pierced my chest

my chest burned with rage

a weight settled on my chest

an ache filled my chest

As a literary device, I had totally overused it. And, until now, I didn’t realize I’ve been utilizing one spot in my body for grievance storage. In all that time, only one thing has allowed me to stop doing this. A particular technique of inquiring into painful thoughts and asking where do you feel it in your body—describe the sensations. I have always said, I feel it in my chest. That too had escaped my notice.

The Work of Byron Katie seemed absurd to me when I first heard of it. I’ve referred to it so many times you might be getting tired of it, but hang in there. I promise it’s worth it. It’s all about questioning our painful thoughts that create our emotions. If it’s my own thought, why would I question it, you might wonder. I didn’t get it either.

It can be simply explained like this. Our circumstances, of which we usually have little control, create our thoughts, the thoughts cause our emotions, our emotions shape our behavior.

Just because a thought forms, that doesn’t make it true. Unless you have done some work on this, you might assume that because you are a rational person, your thoughts must be true. I did it my whole life until I opened my mind to the idea that there are alternative ways to look at our own thoughts. Byron Katie’s “thought work” has allowed me to let go of lots of the painful ones. I feel infinitely better and I’m grateful I found it when I did. Regret for not finding this method earlier wouldn’t make sense—I just wasn’t ready. You may not be either.

If you don’t believe questioning our thoughts is worthwhile, take a second to reflect on all the nutty ideas to which people become attached. Recent presidential elections bring this to mind. Crazy or not, they are all just thoughts, it’s not who you are. You can detach from them. With the right tools, you can even release them.

Why would you want to detach from your own thoughts? If they are painful, they are harming you. That thought may be rooted in an old belief about yourself that formed from difficult circumstances. Most of mine happened in childhood when kids tend to blame themselves for the bad things that happen. After those painful thoughts take root, we don’t really have a reason to go back and question them.

All the painful thoughts I carried came from circumstances beyond my control. I took these painful thoughts through this inquiry and have found, lo and behold, they aren’t true:

To be loved, I must constantly prove myself.

It’s not okay to speak my truth.

I can’t trust anyone.

You end the work by asking, who would you be without that thought? My answer is always I would feel free. What better feeling is there?

The Work may sound a little culty to those unfamiliar, but it’s valuable work you can do on your own or with a coach.

When you question your painful thoughts and let them go, you get the sense that it’s all going to be okay. And it will be, I am totally sure of it.

Love,

Elizabeth

POWERFUL QUESTION: Where do you feel difficult emotions in your body? Have you told your story? Do you need to let go of any painful thoughts?

*It’s great writing: https://audacity.substack.com/p/over-and-over-again?utm_source=email

** You can do the thought work of Byron Katie on your own at thework.com or with a coach. In coaching, we use additional subquestions, focusing especially on where you feel it in your body:

1. Is it true?

2. Can you absolutely know it’s true?

3. What happens to you when you believe the thought? Where do you feel it in your body?

4. Who would you be if you no longer had access to that thought? What does it feel like now?

____

Have you heard? I’ve started a coaching practice. This work leads to uncovering what is holding you back and how to overcome those obstacles. With the right questions, you will figure out what you might tweak to direct yourself toward what you really want. If you are interested, I invite you to send me an email to schedule a Discovery Session at elizabeth@elizabethheise.com.

Do my weekly stories come to your inbox? If not, you are invited to sign up. Click on elizabethheise.com and subscribe today. And if you like, come find me on the socials: @elizabethheise.coach on Instagram and @heiseelizabeth1 on Twitter. Happy reading!

 

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How Can One Degree Turns Change Your Life?

 

 

Here we go. Surgery confirmed for 6/28/22.

 

“Did you purposely draw the left boob smaller?” I asked Dr. Mendez. She laughed.

 

The light mood of our surgical planning meeting can be explained by one factor.* Excisional biopsy of these masses is the right thing to do. When her recommendation settled in, my body relaxed.

 

But that doesn’t mean I have no feelings about it. At times, I am nervous and scared.

 

I’ve never had surgery, nor have I been to the hospital but for attending to someone else. Childbirth took place in my home with no fluorescent lights, scalpels or meds from which to regain my whits. Not a doctor in sight—only my capable midwife.

 

And then there’s the wait for final results. Another holiday weekend will delay my post-op appointment until July 6th. In total, nineteen more days until I find out whether I am free to go or if this will be a whole other story. I do my best not to think about that.

 

 

 

In these eleven days before I lie in a gurney draped in medical grade blue, I’ll rely on nature and movement to deal with this nervous energy. Maybe I’ll discover the reason why I am here, despite the yoga and organic produce.

 

I think a lot about what Dr. Mendez said to me the first time I sat in her exam room.

 

“No matter what the outcome, this process changes you. You aren’t the same person on the other side.”

 

I have a theory about that. I believe difficult experiences bring out who we really are. It changes how we choose to live. When comedian Mark Maron decides whether to commit to something, he asks himself, “do I want to die doing this?” It’s a great question.

 

For a long time, I allowed the “shoulds” to rule and still do to some extent. I’ve taught my kids to do it too, both in modeling how I have lived and in nudging them to conform to what the world expects of them. If you do that often enough, you end up not knowing yourself. Then you are fully reliant on others to decide for you. And it is absolutely not good for your health.

 

 

 

That isn’t to say I think we should shirk all responsibility and just eat doughnuts. The true self wants to work hard, but prefers to do what it was meant for. 

 

Whether or not living out of alignment has the power to threaten your health is a whole other topic, but to sum up, when you live on your own terms, it definitely boosts your immune system. The opposite has also been true for me.

 

There was a period when I routinely gave away my time to organizations with little to no support for my efforts. I fought to the point of physical illness, so sure that sacrificing my health for the greater good was expected. Twice, I got really sick for months, despite multiple courses of antibiotics.

 

So, what’s the solution? Some people reach a point where they just set fire to everything. This can be traumatic, obviously. During the pandemic, however, we got an easy out. I took full advantage and changed so much about how I live and work. But every annoying thing in your life spontaneously canceling doesn’t come along all that often.

 

Martha Beck recommends “making one degree turns.” She uses the nautical metaphor of turning a boat one degree each day towards what brings you joy. Ultimately you’ve charted a completely different course than if you just kept going in the same dreary direction. Making small, steady changes creates a big impact.

 

I’ll leave you with a tool we sometimes use in coaching to gently introduce folks to making one degree turns. It’s called The Three B’s. Take a look at your daily schedule. For each action, ask yourself how completing the task feels in your body. You can even give it a number on a -10 to +10 scale. For example, this surgery is around a -6 for me. For the items that register lower on the scale, you ask yourself three questions: whether you can Bag it, Barter it, or Better It.

 

“Bag It” just means you choose not to do it now. You’ve decided the consequences of not doing the thing aren’t as bad as actually doing it. For my example, I can’t really do that.

 

“Barter It” means you trade the task with someone who likes to do that stuff or gets paid for it. No one can do this for me, so that’s a no for this one too.

 

“Better It” means improving the conditions while you do the work and/or rewarding yourself afterwards. I can’t take a shower for ten days after surgery. I’m going to get my hair blown out at the salon during that time. Dinner will be managed by takeout and others in my family. And I’m going to read and write and coach to my heart’s content.

 

When you make small changes toward improving your life, you end up in an entirely new place. Creating the habit of asking yourself what brings you joy puts you in better touch with what you really want in the time you are here on earth. It doesn’t just give you the sense that it’s going to be okay. You feel genuine excitement that it’s going to be fan-freaking-tastic.

 

Love,

 

Elizabeth

 

 

POWERFUL QUESTION:** Take a look at your daily schedule. What brings you joy? How could you turn more towards that?

 

 

*Okay maybe two factors. There’s an 80% chance this final biopsy comes back totally benign. Those lower stakes have surely taken the stress down a notch.

 

 

**With the right questions, you can uncover what is holding you back and how to overcome those obstacles. If you are interested in doing more of this work with a trained coach, I invite you to send me an email for a Discovery Session at elizabeth@elizabethheise.com.

 

Do my weekly stories come to your inbox? If not, you are invited to sign up. Click on elizabethheise.com and subscribe today. And if you like, come find me on the socials: @elizabethheise.coach on Instagram and @heiseelizabeth1 on Twitter. Happy reading!

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Asking For What You Need: A Beginner’s Guide

 

If you don’t rely on anyone, they can’t let you down. That philosophy served me well for decades.

But now that my own setback has extended into months, I’ve taken a stab at learning how to ask for what I need. If I don’t figure it out, the coming weeks will be too annoying/lonely to bear.

To be honest, I detest asking for anything. When it comes to personal pain, I prefer to work alone. So. I started from square one and workshopped the concept. Six weeks in, here’s my step by step.

 

    1.    Avoid it. Assume that if people didn’t spontaneously do the thing you need, there is no hope they ever will and hence, no point in asking. Believe in your bones they wouldn’t get it right in any event. Harbor resentment against the very people who haven’t met the needs you’ve chosen to keep secret. If you ever do ask, choose folks you know are wholly incapable of showing up, thereby reinforcing your original theory.

For years, I chose unavailable partners and friends who were takers. People guaranteed to ditch me when I needed them. This habit solidified the belief that people suck so who needs them? Banging my head against the wall in this way eventually got old so I have stopped doing it. (Mostly.)

 

    2.    When no one reads your mind about what you need from them, tell them off.

Making dinner while on the phone with a friend, I lamented how mainstream medicine treats women.* “I am still in the diagnostic phase, yet I will be cut open. How is that possible in 2022? If men had breasts, it would be better, guaranteed.”

“It’s not going to help you to rail against the medical system,” my husband chimed in from across the room.

“Who asked you, oh my God. I’m pissed. It’s called being human. Try it sometime,” I fumed. When I got off the phone, I told him he had no right to tell me how to f-ing feel.

3.    Realize that before asking anyone for anything, you must first take care of yourself. Included in that is feeling your feelings. Begin to recognize when emotions arise. Allow them to flow. Notice that when they aren’t pushed away or stored up, they don’t detonate later on. Learn that sometimes when you don’t process your feelings, they come out as different emotions—fear can be expressed as anger, for example. If you don’t process your feelings, they may also be directed at others. (See #2 above)

Yesterday on my walk I wished so hard for a parent capable and willing to come take care of me during the scary times. The thought of going without one for this experience brought tears to my eyes. In the empty streets of the early morning, I sobbed my way down the road. The feeling passed. I felt lighter. Just this one insight alone is worth this entire thing.

 

    

4.    Practice asking for what you need in small ways. To prevent anticipated work interruptions from your family, maybe try a sign on your door.

My work feeds my soul and it has become even more important to me right now.

5.    At a time when you feel grounded and centered, try asking for what you need out loud. Assure the scared, sensitive kid inside you that it really is acceptable both to have needs AND to ask for them to be met. You will be just fine. If you are like me, the closer the person is to you, the more difficult the conversation.

While my husband laced up his running shoes, I took a breath and let it out.

“I have tried to ask for what I need and so far, it hasn’t gone that great. I’m going to keep trying and hope it comes out right on one of these attempts. So, here goes. I don’t need advice. I don’t want pity. I just need you to believe in me—that I can handle it. You don’t have to say anything. When I have moments of being scared, angry or whatever, just be there. If you feel the need to talk me out of the feeling I am having, please don’t. Your urge to shut me down is about your comfort, not mine. Okay?”

He smiled.

 

    5.    After you ask, surrender the outcome. If people don’t give you what you have specifically asked for, it’s just information. When you have been super clear and they cannot deliver, it’s not about you. It may be that they are having their own moment. Perhaps they are not your people. Either way, it’s okay. Tell that uneasy part of you who will take this personally to keep going, keep taking up space as yourself. The world needs you.

For me, this one is tricky. If I have worked myself up to ask only to get shot down, it’s mildly soul crushing. I’m just not used to it yet. It happened recently with a friend and I am still trying to let it go. So much work left to do, honestly.

6.    Bonus tip for anyone with a friend or loved one going through something: ask the person how you can best support them. Do not offer your own or someone else’s war stories or condolences. No one wants to hear I’m sorry your life is f-ing terrible. That’s what they want the least. They may be too focused on holding their sh!t together to stop you from putting your foot in your mouth so take it from me, ASK.

Here’s an example, “what can I do for you right now? Do you need to vent or can I help in some way?” Before you offer feedback, check in with them. A friend reached out yesterday to ask how I was doing and asked to share a similar experience. Before she told me, she checked in to see if it was okay. I told her that carrying my own unfolding story is challenge enough, I didn’t have room for hers just now. I felt guilty saying no. We’ve been conditioned to prioritize other people’s comfort over our own. I told her how much I appreciated that she asked first. After we said goodbye, I was so proud that I had taken care of myself. (yay)

 

It’s uncomfortable not to know what to offer someone in pain. We have all been in that position. But you know what asking is? That’s what love looks like. It’s deep respect for the other person. Anything else is about making YOU feel better. It has nothing to do with them.

When we learn to love ourselves and each other better, we feel more connected and truly seen. We get the sense that it’s all going to be okay. Take excellent care of yourself.

Love,

Elizabeth

WRITING PROMPT: How are you at asking for what you need? Do you find it hard? Are you a lone wolf like me?

P.S. I’m all trained up on Martha Beck’s Wayfinder tools and I’ve started a personal coaching practice. I have an introductory package, maybe for you. If you have begun to do some work on yourself and are looking to level up, I invite you to schedule a Discovery Session. Email me at elizabeth@elizbethheise.com.  For more information on these methods and to sign up for this newsletter, go to elizabethheise.com. You can also come find me on the socials on Instagram @elizabethheise.coach and Twitter @heiseelizabeth1. Thanks for joining me!

*This is a real thing that I don’t want to gloss over. And, since once a lawyer always a lawyer, here is my evidentiary record:

“A 2019 analysis in Denmark, for example, found that in 72% of cases, women waited longer on average for a diagnosis than men.”  https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/gender-bias-in-healthcare#ending-gender-bias

“I’m not sure how we end up in a place where there’s 20-odd years of data pointing to how important sex differences are in health and disease and there’s not more attention to this across all fields, disciplines, journals, and so forth. No one wants to call it sexism but where else is it okay to ignore the basic facts?” Dr. Paula Johnson, Executive Director of the Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/apr/30/fda-clinical-trials-gender-gap-epa-nih-institute-of-medicine-cardiovascular-disease

“The study [of a female sexual dysfunction drug Addyi] enrolled 92 percent men for a drug intended only for women.” https://medicine.yale.edu/news-article/a-drug-for-women-tested-on-men/

“According to the Mayo Clinic, fewer than 1 in 10 residents in family medicine, internal medicine and gynecology told the clinic they felt “adequately prepared” to manage the care of patients in the various stages of menopause. Add to that the well-documented bias against female patients — one that exponentially burdens women of color, as well as trans, intersex and nonbinary people who experience menopause — and a vast information vacuum persists.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/04/28/menopause-hormone-therapy-nih-went-wrong/

More than 1 billion people worldwide will be in menopause by 2025. Today, there are 55 million in the United States alone, nearly 75 percent of whom report not receiving support or treatment for its effects. This database provides doctors in your area who have sought special certification to help their patients manage menopause. http://www.menopause.org/for-women/whats-an-ncmp