YOU DO WHAT?!

Early in my business, a friend who was very enthusiastic and supportive of my new career invited me to a networking group. She thought it would be a great group for me to connect with – a strong source for referrals.  She also said several of the members had health issues and she was sure I could help them. So off I went, excited to meet new people.

I walked into a dimly lit room. About 25 men and women from their mid-thirties to 60ish were gathered in small groups chatting, some in business attire, and others with that work-from-home casual look. Multiple scents filled the air – several colognes intermingled with the waft of salad greens, sandwiches and soup from a buffet against a wall. Rectangular tables were set up in a square shape surrounded by chairs, so everyone could face each other when they sat to begin the meeting. The only familiar face was my friend. 

I made my way to the tables and claimed a spot next to her. We chatted and she soon spotted a middle-aged man, dressed in a suit just a few chairs away and she told me he was someone I really needed to meet. She introduced me by name and told him I was a health coach. As I extended my hand and began to say “nice to meet you,” his reaction took me quite by surprise – actually that’s an understatement. It stunned me.

His arms tensed as he gripped the arm rests and pushed his chair back with his feet, smashing his chair into a table behind him, causing dishes to rattle and water glasses to spill.

I thought to myself, "Wow, she told him I was a Health Coach, not that I had a communicable disease!" We had no time for further “niceties” as the host asked us to take our seats.

As the business of the meeting completed, members of the group were asked to introduce their guests. When it was my friend’s turn, she shared my name, how we met in the dance community and then said THOSE words, “She's a Health Coach.” 

Once again - reactions I didn’t expect. I noticed three people used their arms to cover the food on the plates in front of them. One man, seated just a few feet from me exclaimed “oh – you’re no fun!”

I hadn't yet spoken a word. (For the record, I am fun.)

Fortunately, since that early outing, reactions to my profession haven’t been so dramatic. At first, I took these quite personally (you can’t blame me, can you?). I wondered what it was that was causing such a negative reaction, but I quickly realized, it’s not me. They are just responding to how they feel about themselves.

How do I know? Because most of us experience insecurity of some sort, myself included. For me it’s the feeling I used to get (true confession - I sometimes still do), when I walk into a room and see a group that's fashionably dressed. My initial reaction was to retreat. I used to say that you style-mavens intimidate me, but I know YOU aren’t doing anything but being your stylish selves. You aren’t doing anything to “intimidate” me – that’s my baggage.
 
And it’s the same for many people who have baggage about how they’re eating and taking care of themselves. They fear being judged. They fear change. The mere presence of “a health coach” conjures up images of deprivation, no longer enjoying “comfort” food, or deep down – facing what’s holding them back.
 
When I work with a client, that’s one of the first things we get to – what are your fears? And how do you feel about yourself. Being bullied or shamed into taking care of yourself is temporary – and harmful. True change comes from the heart, being comfortable with who you are and where you are. 
 
So, instead of telling people I’m a “Health Coach,” I’m working on crafting the right words to describe how my clients feel. Perhaps it’s “I take people from self-loathing to self-loving.” Or “I help people get out of their own way to make better choices for their health and their life.” I welcome your thoughts.


Wishing you self-love,
Karen

The Shoes Don’t Matter

Last week a group of dance friends was talking about the weekend’s upcoming Fall Ball, the big dance event of the season, held in a lovely grand ballroom with a wonderful and rare large dance floor.  One friend really wanted to go, but said she really wasn’t sure she would.  Her reason was a broken toe, and actually not so much the toe – it was healing really well and she could dance. The problem was she couldn’t put on a pair of shoes that didn’t put pressure on just the wrong spot.  So she could go and dance, but she couldn’t wear shoes.
 
In her mind, the venue and the event had a measure of decorum, certain expectations of behavior and dress, which of course included wearing shoes. She was concerned -“What will people think?”  Of course, all her friends jumped in and told her it didn’t matter. Several offered her helpful solutions and disguises, but in the end – she still wouldn’t be wearing shoes.
 
And yes, some people would notice. Some would think it was inappropriate and some may even chatter about it. What about you - have you ever hesitated to do something because of what others might think?  Put it into perspective.
 
When you think about your life, what will you regret more, the things you didn’t do or the things you did, but that someone might have criticized?
 
Life’s too short for that! You’ve got one life, live it the way you want to – with shoes or not!
 
And if you find yourself sometimes on the other side of that story – maybe mumbling some snarky comment when you see someone “not wearing shoes,” I’d like to share a story I heard several years ago that was really transformational for me.   
 
The story goes something like this:
There was a man on the subway with four young children.  He was sitting numb-like while his children were misbehaving and acting out.  A fellow rider was disgusted and said to him “Can’t you control them?”  The dejected father apologized for his children’s behavior and felt he needed further explanation, telling his fellow passenger that they were coming from the hospital where his wife had just died. They hadn’t had much sleep, the kids really didn’t understand what had happened….
 
I’m sure I need not say more. That story really struck me and stuck with me. When I think about questioning or criticizing another, it often pops into my mind. Yes, this story is extreme, but the reality is we don’t know all that’s going on in someone else’s life, whether it’s a broken toe or a deceased spouse. 
 
So instead of judging, let’s try some compassion.  There are lots of benefits – we live the way we want to and let others do the same. 
 
  
Wishing you compassion,
Karen

MY "LOOK"

I was really taken aback earlier this week when I saw a comment on my Facebook page from a woman I didn’t know. She left a cryptic message referencing a librarian. I was pretty sure she was slamming me, criticizing my photo - my “look.” It was such an odd message, I checked with a few friends and colleagues to see what they thought. And they all agreed – it was a slam. Evidently she has a pretty negative, stereotypical image of librarians, thought I matched it, and felt compelled to tell me.

At first, I started down an ugly self-conscious path, with lots of negative self-talk and defensiveness. I’m not photogenic. I’m not stylish enough. Why didn’t I put up a professional photo?  Blah. Blah. Blah.

I stopped a moment, took a deep breath, listened to the chatter in my head and smiled. I was letting a complete stranger who doesn’t even know me, make me feel bad about myself.  So Ridiculous. 

I recalled a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt:

 “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” 

 
So I chose to no longer give consent. It was a great choice to make - so freeing!
 
Do you find yourself second-guessing, self-criticizing or feeling anxious because of others’ unsolicited opinions? When it happens, ask yourself if the opinion adds any value to your life. If it does, learn from it and grow. If it doesn’t, CHOOSE to ignore it and get on with your life.

Remember, only you can make you feel bad about yourself.
 
So I was still left wondering what to do about Ms. Mean. Do I respond? Do I ignore her? Do I delete the comment? My friends and colleagues had some hilarious thoughts on how I could respond. But in the end, I decided her comment served no value to anyone, and certainly not to me, so I deleted it and I Moved On.
 
And besides, one of my closest friends is a librarian and she’s stunningly beautiful – outside and in.
 

Wishing you only good thoughts about yourself,
Karen