The way other people respond to you tells you way more about what it is like to be them, about what it is like to be living their life – and has very little to do with you.
This Christmas I was preparing to toast the love of my life at dinner. I started out first toasting my mother, followed by my future father-in-law, then our close friend, and was rather enjoying our dinner, for which I had roasted two ducks and placed juicy slices with crispy skins onto butternut squash ravioli, which was on top of savory shredded brussel sprouts. Yummm, right?!
I turn to my love and say, “And now I’d like to toast the love of my life,” and my mom interrupts and tries to make a joke of sorts by saying, “Oh, this is the second half of their fight! Ha ha ha!” She was referencing a disagreement I had earlier that day with my sweetie, which ended and kisses and was WAY left behind by us. But apparently it was fodder for some intimate-moment sarcasm.
Poor timing to say the least. But not the worst thing to say
Still, I stopped mid-toast, looked at her, and with a totally fake smile said, “Mom, could you please try not to talk right now, because this is when you tend to ruin everything.”
Yup. I said that out loud. In front of everyone. I didn’t even try to kick her under the table or something just as juvenile but at least more subtle.
Since when did I go from Simply Sassy to Queen Bitch? I mean, my mom has often put her foot in her mouth, and I’ve been able to let it go, because I’ve learned that I usually notice such things far more than anyone else in the room.
Fortunately it was an intimate dinner with only super close family and friends, so I felt a little less awkward. They called me out on my shit in as funny a way as possible. One friend even managed to turn what I had said into a nice statement about how hearing harsh things sometimes is “the price you pay when hanging with people who get things done, because that’s how things get done”…or something like that. It was a nice but unsuccessful attempt to make my bitchiness seem to have softer edges. We changed the subject to opening presents
Thank God for wine.
To be fair, my mom was experimenting with sarcasm. Since English is her second language, and this is a new thing for her, indeed many comments were somewhat inappropriate. But there were more moments like this.
Like when Thai, my fiancée, who had proposed to me in 15 countries, chose to do so once more because both of our parents were together in once place (a rarity), my mom laughs and starts shouting, “Say, ‘No’ this time! Say no! Ha ha ha!”
I crowded out her voice. I know Thai didn’t even hear her because he didn’t know what I was talking about when I mentioned it later. I didn’t say anything then because even though it annoyed the hell out of me, I still respected and valued the sacredness of the moment, which couldn’t be contaminated by anything someone else was shouting. And I whispered, “Yes,” as he held me close.
Then I steamed about it for days. I brought it up to her once, hoping she would see it was inappropriate to be sarcastic in intimate moments. “I was just joking!” she argued back.
Did I mention I hate sarcasm? I tried to tell her this sarcasm thing wasn’t something I was so into. I don’t think she got what sarcastic meant. How ironic.
While I could blame this all on sarcasm, I know that it wasn’t the only reason I was being triggered. These rude outbursts of mine weren’t just happening with my mom. I also snapped at Thai when he said things that I would have normally let slide. And I got super-irritated when a man at the grocery store said, “Wow, you’re a midwife? So, like, how long does it take before the baby is ready to come out?”
That is a totally appropriate question, yet I wanted to shout out, “9 freakin’ months dude! Don’t you watch the Discovery Channel?!” I didn’t shout that out, and since I can apparently maintain professionalism while feeling bitchy, it all went smoothly. Still…
Not my most glowing moment.
So, again, when did I go from Simply Sassy to Queen Bitch? I am usually uber-tolerant, patient, and chillaxed, especially after a nice long vacation. But here is what I realized that turned everything around:
I was unhealthy.
It was hard to admit. I – who has identified myself with terms such as climbing guide, yoga instructor, massage therapist, holistic healthcare practitioner, meditator, Buddhist – had become unhealthy.
It snuck up on me, really.
It started with a crappy diet in Africa because vegetables were hard to find, and we didn’t have a kitchen. I was eating lots of bread which I hardly eat at home, fried food, and salt, with minimal veggies and clean water. I even brought green veggie powder and multivitamins, which probably saved me from complete lunacy…but it still wasn’t enough.
I also had beer or wine almost every night, because it felt sooooo good after traveling in the heat, and after all, I was on vacation! I had to sit on trains and busses and the back of pickup trucks for 8-13 hours a day, many days in a row. I didn’t run because it would be between 90-120 degrees out on many days. I did yoga some mornings, but not most.
I was taking one antibiotic tablet a day to prevent malaria and I had taken de-worming medications after working at the refugee camp, so I am sure my body was thrown by all that too (but less so than it would have been with worms! Yuck!).
I hadn’t slept well for many nights because of the heat and the early bus/train schedules. I had to unpack and re-pack every day. We stayed in one place for more than one night four times in almost three months. Then when we got back, it was the Holidays, and my jet lag was waking me up at 2 or 3am bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with nowhere to go.
My soul was having a hard time catching up to me. And that’s an understatement.
The more I coach and the more I work in healthcare (over 14+ years now!), I realize how mood is affected by how healthy we are. We can blame feeling pissy on so many things, like “lame people” or “the government” or the elusive, “they.” Yet I have found that when we are healthy, we make better choices (which leads to happier results), and can flow much more readily and steadily with life’s bumps without getting rocked so hard. And getting bitchy.
I immediately booked a massage with my favorite therapist the day after Christmas. I went to yoga everyday during lunch. I listened to meditation sessions on my iPhone. I tried to sleep more every night, although jet lag was working hard against me on that one. I reluctantly unscheduled some visits with people I cared about.
I did these things even though it meant I was missing out on time with my family and friends. I’d rather be pleasant when I WAS around them than not do what it takes to feel balanced and have all this free time to be a bitch with them.
I signed up AHEAD OF TIME for two weeks of yoga classes in Alaska to start the day after we got back. I didn’t schedule anything for two weeks so I could focus on my Freedom Sessions Mastermind group that I am going to launch the second week of January (stay tuned!). I asked my partner to make sure I refrained from processed foods and meat, and that if I did eat meat, I wanted it to be wild game or organic. He agreed.
I launched into a cleanse too, eliminating alcohol, caffeine, sugar, gluten, meat, processed foods, unfermented soy and adding IN more fresh veggies, green juices, and other foods bursting with energy. Making these nutritional changes made the quickest difference of all the above. We are what we eat!
I moved back towards my center, I started feeling more balanced way faster than the time it took to get this unbalanced in the first place, and I was able to hug my mom when she “should-ed” all over me, because that’s what moms are for;)
I felt SPACE, I felt less anxiety, I felt relaxed, patient, kind, generous. All from coming back to center, honoring my needs, and leading a healthier lifestyle.
So you see, it wasn’t my mom’s fault at all. She was being herself, and whether it bothered me or not, I was reacting a certain way because of where I was at.
I learned that I floated a little away from what I always tell my clients: pick your top 3-6 things that you want to prioritize. Everything else fits AROUND those things.
In the end, this comes down to self-love. When we practice self-love, we have more to give to others.
What are your top three to six non-negotiables when it comes to nurturing and loving on yourself? Mine (for now) are:
1) regular exercise (for me that is a combination of some kind of cardio in the outdoors, and yoga)
2) good sleep (7-8 hours a night)
3) healthy food and drink
4) quality time with my close friends and family
5) quality alone time for myself (at least a half-day a week) – meditation falls under this
6) time to create for Freedom Junkie
I am open to that list changing, and I may even create one with more concrete details for each week or month (like making sure I get in three yoga sessions, ski two days, launch Freedom Sessions, etc…). It is so easy to get overwhelmed, and I find knowing your priorities will help with sifting through the shizzle.
PS: If you are interested in creating a healthier and more balanced YOU in 2013, stay tuned for Life Aligned – an upcoming 6-month health and wellness program where we will get your body – and life – aligned with your dreams!
Note: Ana Neff is a personal life and health coach, guide and Freedom Junkie™ She helps passionate people awaken their lives of freedom, adventure and purpose. Her monthly Ziji Up!™ eZine goes out to hundreds of subscribers. Her “Full-On 365” blog posts stem from her commitment to living full-on, every day, for 365 days in a row. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can learn more about her coaching programs and download her FREE Getting Clear Guide by visiting FreedomJunkie.com