The Woman in the Mirror

The issues that women deal with and the lessons learned when we share our stories, transcend time and culture.  It’s like looking at a three-way mirror.

The mirror on the left reflects our ideal self, the image that represents all that we aspire to be based on what we’ve learned from our mothers, our friends, our culture, our religion.  It reflects all that is good and right and beautiful; the perfect size, posture, attitude, background, and future.  She is healthy and whole.  As the epitome of virtue, she inspires us and drives us to action.

The mirror on the left reflects our ideal self, the image that represents all that we aspire to be based on what we’ve learned from our mothers, our friends, our culture, our religion.  It reflects all that is good and right and beautiful; the perfect size, posture, attitude, background, and future.  She is healthy and whole.  As the epitome of virtue, she inspires us and drives us to action.

The mirror on the right reflects the naked truth that no one gets to see but us.  The image represents our insecurities, our failures, our disappointments, and our displeasure.  It reflects all that we loathe; that we think is wrong and ugly about ourselves.  She is the one who binges, masturbates, fornicates, overspends, gossips, underachieves, procrastinates, yells at her children, disrespects her husband, farts loudly, hoards and cuts corners.  She is our shame and what we try so very hard to hide.

The mirror in front of us is the one we present to the world.  The superficial person we makeup and cover up to feel comfortable facing tomorrow.  The image we create to impress others and the one who gives us the courage to face tomorrow.  She helps us to get out of bed each morning, ignore everything else and look straight ahead.  She’s holding it together and while not perfect she’s good enough.  Good enough to marry, good enough to sing in the choir, good enough to serve in the community, good enough to raise children, good enough to be your friend.  She’s good enough to function most days.

Our dysfunction is directly proportional to the difference between the mirror on the left and the mirror on the right.  How we feel about ourselves and the energy we expend to make the adjustments necessary to face the world also reflects our relationship with God.  If we don’t believe that God loves the real woman on the right, how can we love her?  If we don’t believe the woman on the left is real, how can we ever be at peace?  That’s why we’re overweight and tired.  We’re longing for Him to love us the way we are, but we don’t love ourselves.  We try to fill the void with food, clothes, men, busyness, or whatever else we can but it’s still there; that craving for unconditional love.

Everything good and perfect is from God with whom there is no variation or shadow when you see His reflection.  By his own will and desire, he created us and is making us into new creatures through his words of truth so that we would be like first-fruits consecrated by Him; set apart and dedicated to his service.

That’s why we must get rid of all the filthiness and the abundance of wickedness that gets in the way of our productivity.  We must receive with meekness the Word, which is able to save souls and have it implanted in our hearts.  We have to be women who live the word, and not just those who sit in church every Sunday deceiving ourselves.  The one who hears and takes no action is the woman who looks in the mirror on the right and sees herself for who she really is and then goes away pretending that she is the woman on the left.  However, the one who looks into the word, which is perfect and gives liberty, then, makes the adjustments necessary will be blessed in all she does.  If we think we are Christians but don’t know how to apply the word of God to our daily lives in a real and practical way, we are lying to ourselves and our religion is useless.

Real unadulterated religion is to help those in our midst who are in trouble and to face the world with your true authentic self; the woman who has been washed in the blood of the lamb; the one who Jesus’ loves today and died for over two thousand years ago.  The one whose sins he forgave before she was even born; the one who is fearfully and wonderfully made in His image; the one who is a princess and part of a royal priesthood.  She is beautiful but she’s not perfect.  She is righteous but she is not sinless.  She is holy but not pious.  She is confident but not arrogant.  She is real.

Masterful is…

M is for Mastery.  It’s not enough to be smart or talented.  You have to actually be good at something.  The extent of your ability is based on the amount of effort you put into honing your skills and knowledge in an area.  Being good will often get you in the door, but staying on top requires continuous learning and improvement.  So don’t give up.  Don’t give in.  Don’t stop striving to be the best at what you do well.

A is for Authenticity.  I love the Barney song “You are special.  You’re the only one like you.”  It reminds me how important it is to be real and transparent.  There will always be people who don’t understand or appreciate you but that doesn’t mean you should shrink so that they shine.  There is enough darkness in the world for us all to shine brightly.  So be your amazing self and show up when invited.  Show up in meetings.  Show up at events.  Show up at home.  The world needs to see the real you not an imitation.  Self-love begins with knowing and appreciating who you are at the core; then others can too.

S is for Service.  There is no higher return than what you get from living in service to others.  Doing for others gives your life purpose and meaning.  When setting a goal or making a plan, always ask “for the sake of what?” and the answer will define the value of your actions.  Service gives you a reason to get up every morning.  Service is what defines that dash between the date your were born and the date you die. Ultimately our goal should be to improve the world around us socially, culturally, morally and/or intellectually.

T is for Thankfulness.  There are lots of blogs and books written about the benefits of gratitude including feelings of abundance, less stress, more happiness, and better sleep.  I’m a big believer in this principle and even the habit of keeping a gratitude journal like Oprah.  However, being thankful is also about taking the time to speak or write to an actual person for doing something that benefits you.  It’s a common courtesy that can go a long way to improving relationships and making you feel good too.  Manners are important.

E is for Empowerment.  Power in its very nature is imposing.  So being comfortable with and understanding your own personal power is key to building confidence.  It affects your presence and gives you an edge over anyone who is uncomfortable with their own ability to influence others.  When you are comfortable with power it’s also easy to empower others because you don’t feel threatened or insecure.  Power has much less to do with position than it does with an ability to make things happen.

R is for Relationships.  In business school we were taught the importance of networking and if you can learn to do it strategically, that’s a great skill to have.  Whether you are an extrovert or introvert, the importance of building and maintaining relationships cannot be downplayed.  Who you know matters but not as much as who knows you.  What people know about you affects everything from your performance rating at work to your ability to get clients or even a date.    It’s always been said that there are only six degrees of separation and with the world getting smaller as a result of technology and globalization, it may be down to three.  So nurture your network and remember that to have good relationships you have to be relatable.

F is for Faith.  Yes, spirituality is important.  A belief in something greater than yourself keeps you grounded and provides hope when the world all around you seems to be crumbling.  It’s what we turn to when we don’t have answers to life’s big questions in our search for meaning.  And if you haven’t had a reason to call on your own God, then you haven’t lived long enough yet.    Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen according to my beliefs and it has given me the strength I needed to carry on.

U is for Unity.  There are so many walls and forces that would like to keep people from getting along, however, I’ve found that people are basically the same in their needs and motivations.  Instead of jumping on the band wagon of judgement and divisiveness, being the person who looks for commonality and builds bridges will make you a true champion.  Looking for ways to collaborate on a good idea will make it great.  Helping people connect the dots in largest complex organizations and systems will win you favor.  Referring people to businesses and services that you have found with satisfaction will provide multiple dividends.  Celebrate diversity but strive for unity to make the world a better place to live and work.

L is for Leadership.     The world needs more leaders.  Not more managers or people who think they know everything but people who can see something better than what we have right now.  People who know how to think strategically about how we get from here to there and what resources we will need along the way.  People who can inspire others and motivate them to act on a vision.  People who can make things happen.  Leaders believe in themselves, believe in a better future, and believe in others.  The world needs you to be a champion of good leadership in our homes, our communities, and our businesses.

So strive for mastery, authenticity, uplifting service, thankfulness, true empowerment, rewarding relationships,  unwavering faith, unity and excellent leadership.  Being MASTERFUL is all of these things and more.  I believe in a more Masterful You!

How to turn your life into an adventure

The funny thing about change is that the more you experience, the easier it becomes. However, its very natural to fear the unknown. That’s why it’s helpful to approach life as an adventure. When I was offered this assignment, the whole idea of being an expat was a big unknown – where is Qatar? How will my life be different? Will I like the food? How will my family feel about moving again? What is the housing situation? Will the work be interesting? I had lots of questions and although I could get some quick answers from materials available to me (the internet is awesome!) – there were still many that I wouldn’t be able to answer until I moved. That’s why we approached the move as an adventure.

 

To help with managing personal change, here are a few tips to turn your life into an adventure:

1. Wake up every morning “on expedition” – consider yourself an adventurer before you open your eyes.

2. Expect the unexpected.

3. Keep a learning journal. Write down things you learn each day.

4. Walk faster. It will give you momentum.

5. Do something else – not what “they” are doing. Be different.

6. Get lost somewhere. (My kids love this. I sometimes just turn down a different road and say “I wonder what’s this way?”)

7. Try new things to discover who you really are and what you like.

8. Learn key words in different languages.

9. Laugh out loud at yourself.

10. Consider that whatever happens is supposed to happen.

What’s your next great adventure?

Finding North

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Success is a very nebulous concept.  It can be many things and what it means for an individual can change over time.  When you are young and ambitious it may mean a corner office, six figures, or buying a house. Over time and with changing circumstances, it can shift to something less tangible like peace, a meaningful relationship or good health.  The thing is…we can easily get lost or caught up in the rat race and need to find our north.  We need a compass to help line up our actions with something steady and sure.

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