” Just Show Up”

In My Meditation Today: ” Just Show Up” was the message in my meditation today as I battled two loud voices within berating me for not completing what I had set out to do yesterday and ridiculing me for dreaming too big.  If you pay heed to the fears and doubts within – you lose focus,  your energy splits and a house divided against itself cannot stand – So  IGNORE THE NAY-SAYERS & JUST SHOW UP.

When I finished the posts about the Grand Story of the Divine Mother, I had wanted to round the posts off by paying tribute to three of the most powerful women I had known. At the time I thought that the Grand Story of the Divine Mother is about Goddesses and women and the empowerment of women. It seemed fitting then to bring my interpretation of that myth to an end by chronicling the stories of these three powerful women who had in one way or another been expressions of powerful goddesses.

I have been conflicted about ending it that way for a long while.
I have felt that the tributes were incomplete because I had not written one to my Dad. A tribute to him did not fit neatly into my idea of women & empowerment. On the other hand, leaving him out of the equation made no sense because he was so responsible for the person I am today. So, I decided to give up my idea of tying these posts into tidy bundles and to

My father - in the hospital that he built in his village. This is now a State Sponsored Learning Disabilities Research Center
My father – in the hospital that he built in his village. This is now a State Sponsored Learning Disabilities Research Center

follow my heart.

My father was an extraordinary human being. He lived the adage ” Dare to Dream” and had a magical ability to hold onto that dream and maintain his focus no matter what anyone else said to him or about him.

The seventh child in a family of eight, my father never forgot the scary night when his oldest sister almost died from an asthmatic attack because of the lack of access to health care. A young man in school when this happened, he decided, that he would someday build a free hospital in his village. I have called this his dream all my life, but as I write this, I realize that it was less a dream and more a decision.

The picture of my father in this post shows him sitting inside the free hospital that he built in his village.

It took him many many years to get here and several detours. Along the way, he went from being a chemist in a factory that made Nivea cream to Managing Director of multinational companies and everything in between.

On the side, he was an entrepreneur who manufactured and sold shaving cream and dishwashing powder; tried his hand at exporting and importing goods and finally settled on providing much-needed labor to the Middle East.
I list all of the things that he tried because it shows you how he kept showing up.
He never gave up.
He never reneged on the decision made all those years ago..
He just showed up.
He walked through each door that opened.
He put one step in front of the other.
He kept showing up.

Throughout this time, he weathered overt and covert criticism from family and friends. He never bothered to defend his actions, and he never stopped talking about the hospital he would build even when others scoffed at him. He just kept showing up.

I was approximately eight years old when he started his first business, and I was 15 when he finally hit the jackpot and became a highly successful businessman. For the longest time, I had thought that my Dad’s journey from an unsuccessful businessman to a  very successful one took forever.

It was when I narrated my father’s story to a friend recently that I realized that it took him seven years. Seven years of ignoring naysayers, maintaining his focus and holding on to his dream and just showing up.

As with my tribute to my grandmother, my mother, and mother in law – this post by itself hardly does his life justice. Each of these lives deserves a complete biography. This post describes how his life and the way he lived it continues to influence how I live and how I have encouraged my children to live their lives.

As I ended my meditation today and felt his presence all around me, I knew that it was time to write this post.
It was time to thank my Dad and let him know that we are continuing to live as he lived.
We are continuing to ” Just Show Up.”
Are You?

My Inner Critic & The Impostor Syndrome

In My Meditation Today. I woke up feeling bad because I had broken my word to myself once again. I had promised myself that I would not drink alcohol for the nine days of Navratri, but I decided to have a drink on the 7th day. It was a very deliberate decision. I was in the familiar cycle again; my inner critic was taking me to task. So I sat down and meditated. I used a technique in which I seek guidance from my future self. As I sat with her, trying to understand why I do this to myself, she put her hand on my heart and asked me –

“ Are you such a terrible person?

Does this negate everything good that you have done in your life?

Is there a lack of balance here in the level of feeling bad and the promise broken?

Did you manage to keep other promises you had made to yourself?”

As I sat with those questions, I felt a weight lift.   No – I was not a terrible person. No – this broken promise did not negate all the good I had done in my life. Yes – I had kept many of the other promises that I had made to myself for those nine days.

This story of “Oh it is not too bad to not keep my promise to myself” can very easily turn into a self-indulgent excuse. However, the meditation today opened my eyes to another side of this.

By most standards, I have lived a pretty successful life. I have been married for nearly 39 years and have two amazing, centered, compassionate, committed and successful children.

I have a Doctoral degree and three Masters degrees besides several other certifications and diplomas. When I got married at the age of 21, I had just completed my undergraduate degree. The rest of my academic qualifications, I gathered while we moved at least 20 times across four continents and raised two children. My husband was a young physician in training. So – there was no help with childcare there :). I am now slowly but surely developing a life – coaching practice. I have a blog; I am a published writer.

I have completed a half-marathon.

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I was 41 when I earned my doctoral degree. It took me a full 20 years and relentless determination to become a professional statistician.

If I had heard that any other woman had done what I have one, I would have automatically assumed that she had to have been an amazingly organized, disciplined person. I would have been very impressed. When I think about myself, however, I pick all the things that I did not do right. I tell myself that my degree and training is not quite as good as a colleague. The fear that I do not know enough because my training was pieced together while moving and traveling lurks behind every professional interaction.

I am a poster child for the “imposter syndrome” which is defined per Wikipedia as

“Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.”

It is this imposter syndrome that came home to me loud and clear today.

Every misstep is magnified and every triumph minimized.

Perhaps it is one of the reasons I often make promises to myself that I know that there is a good chance I will break. It is as if I need always to remind myself that I am an imposter.

The Wikipedia page on the “ Imposter Syndrome”  says, the research initially suggested that the syndrome was prevalent among high – achieving women, but we now know that it affects men and women in equal numbers.

I would say that all of us suffer from this syndrome.

We are always wondering when someone will discover that we are frauds. Although in truth we are all expressions of the divine, we are so oblivious to it or probably more correctly – so terrified to admit it that we would much rather think of ourselves as imposters. It does not matter how many adversities we have overcome or victories we have sailed through – it is much easier to rest in the space of “ not being enough” than to rise to our full power.

So we choose not to celebrate our victories and acknowledge our successes. Instead, we focus on one more thing that is wrong with us – whether it is our weight or our bank balance or our relationship status.  OR we make promises to ourselves and break them – and say – “ See I told you-you are no good .” Something, anything to keep us from shining our light.

How about we decide to stop this. How about we start cultivating an inner PR personality to counter our inner critic. How about we take time every day to acknowledge our successes instead of our failures? Hating ourselves is easy – the challenge here is to learn to love ourselves. That is our ultimate purpose.