What Are You Made Of?

Remember the story of the 3 little pigs?


The first little pig built his house with straw and the wolf blew it down. The second little pig built his house with sticks and the wolf had his way with that house too. The third little pig built his house with brick and for all his huffing and puffing the wolf couldn’t blow the house down.


Sitting with a client the other day this fairy tale popped into my head. I have come to trust these little “pop ins”…they usually offer some wisdom I would never have come up with on my own.


We were talking about her sense of her self. How comfortable she is being her? How strongly she can advocate for herself? How well acquainted she is with herself ?Basically, how strongly can she stand (with herself) in the face of high wind?


That is when “the pigs” popped in.


When I consider of my own sense of my self using this metaphor of being a house-a structure that holds me-ideally it(I) would be well built. I know for myself, my friends and the women I work with, this is not always the case. Our houses (sense of self, hearts, confidence) are all too often and too easily blown to bits, straw and twigs flying in all directions.


 I have been watching episodes of the Big C on NetFlixs. It is a story of a woman, Cathy, who has cancer. In the episode we watched last night Cathy was hired as the high school swim coach, despite the principals concerns she couldn’t do the job because of her cancer. As the new coach, Cathy took charge. She changed practice warm ups, team strategies and confronted an arrogant, undermining swim team dad. As I watched her stand up to him, I felt her belief in herself as a coach. I was impressed. I noticed I sat straighter on the couch. She was made of brick.


As the episode continued, and the plot thickened, Cathy and her husband got crabs because their son slept with a prostitute in their bed (too gross to think about on sooo many levels). Thanks to facebook, and the sons now x girlfriend, the word got out. This was all the arrogant dad needed to have Cathy fired as the swim coach.


The scene unfolds as Cathy walked into the pool area; clip board in hand, whistle around her neck, only to see the principal, the dad with all the other parents and her team waiting for her. Cathy is told by the principal she is being fired for putting the girls at risk of getting crabs. I could feel myself cave in for her. I imagined myself as her and could see myself slink out of the gym, find my way home and crawl under the covers. I could feel my shame for her. I was made of straw.


Cathy, brick house that she is, doesn’t collapse into her shame, instead she confronts them on the improbability of their accusation and threatens them with a law suit if they try to fire the “woman with cancer.” She ends her self absolution by saying she is taking her team, whoever is still on it, for a run. With that she turns, clip board close to her chest, whistle swinging and out she walks out of the gym. Last scene-she is running on alone on the track. One by one the girls on her team fall in behind her.


Now I know this is a well scripted TV series, but I was moved…right out from under my emotional hiding place…announcing to myself and the space between myself and the TV, “I want to be like her when I grow up!”


To not move into shame when someone huffs and puffs at me. 


To feel my house made of bricks and to stand my ground.


To laugh I the face of the big bad wolf…and then take a run.


Oh yeah, I don’t run. I’ll take a brisk walk instead. Anyone want to fall in along side of me?







The Queen of England

Today I got a massage and facial. As I relaxed; steam opening my pores, Audra’s fairy fingers making gentle circles around my eyes; I began to count my blessings. When I left the house this morning our housekeeper was pulling into the driveway. Last night I ordered a great pair of shoes from the Travel Smith catalogue. Tomorrow I have an acupuncture appointment. Next week I have a manicure and pedicure scheduled. I am the luckiest woman alive!


Then it hit. My gratitude turned to shame, “Who do I think I am? Really? Who? The Queen of England? I don’t dare tell anyone about all this.” I felt terrible, indulgent, spoiled, after all, there are children starving in Africa. Continue Reading


Many years ago-sounds a bit like the beginning of a fairy tale-the foundation of who I was, or thought I was, crumbled. I grabbled with the question, “Who am I?” I felt the enormity of the question, as well as, my terror of not knowing the answer or, worse yet, how to find the answer. My illusions had died and I didn’t have a replacement reality. I felt like a blank slate.


Because I am a visual person (that much I did know about myself) I envisioned my blank slate status as a big, yellow legal pad. With that image in mind, I drove to Staples, found a tablet and bought it. My plan was to notice myself and document who I met. I remember feeling a bit overwhelmed by the project and a lot scared at the blankness of the tablet before me. I also remember some excitement at the prospect of defining myself rather than being defined by others.


So, I took my pad with me where ever I went.

Continue Reading


As a young girl I watched every episode of Superman. During the summer I watched reruns. It wasn’t my idea to watch the “man of steel”, it was my brother’s favorite show. He tuned in every day. Since he was bigger than me and willing to inflict physical harm to secure his TV viewing preference, I watched too. I spent so much time with Superman, I developed an attachment to the big guy in blue tights.

I loved how kind he was to Lois Lane and that he rescued her from danger. I felt safe watching him right wrongs and restore order. It filled a need in me. I began to fantasize about the day Superman would knock at my front door, and fly me away in his arms. (In the show, he always knocked on the doors of the good guys and broke down the doors of the bad guys.) Since I was a good girl he would knock; that way my mom and dad wouldn’t notice I had flown away.

I wasn’t expecting Prince Charming, on a white horse, to knock on my door. I knew, as an evolved 10 year old in the late 60’s, he was a fairy tale. Fairy tales didn’t come true, they only broke your heart and disappointed stupid girls. I wasn’t stupid. I knew Prince Charming didn’t exist. Now Superman, HE was different, HE did exist and HE was coming to get me… Someday.

Over the last 10 years I have asked myself on different occasions and for different reasons, “ What constitutes a Super Man? I listen to my women client ask the same question, wondering if one even exists. As evolved women in the “ought’s” I think we need to ask ourselves, “Who do I hope knocks on my door and flies away with me?” “ Do I still hope for that rescue?”

To answer these questions within myself I called upon the young girl, still living within me, that believed so sweetly, so innocently in “the rescue.” I found the place in my gut that is home to my 10 year old’s emptiness. I found compassion for myself and for every young girl/woman that dreams of the solution to feeling powerless and compromised, to be a relationship. I surveyed my life recalling the men I had expected to fill my void. I cried reliving the damage this did to me, as well as, to the men I chose to be my Superman.

I came to realize that to be rescued, I first had to rescue myself. Over and over and over again. I had to be the one to knock on my internal door and fly me away to safety. No one; man, woman or child could do that for me. I had to be my own Super (Wo)Man. Not the Super Woman that does every thing for every one and never says “NO” (been there, done that) but the Super Woman that is willing to do as Thoreau suggests, “Go Confidently in the Direction of Your Dreams. Live the Life You Imagine.”  I drive with that quotation on the dashboard of my car. I have for the past 6 years.  It has reminded me that I was up for the challenge of self rescue (but it had to be without the blue tights. I drew the line at the body suit.)

Being my own Super (Wo)Man took courage. Sometimes it seemed much easier, in some ways, to just wait to be rescued. Once I made my commitment to myself to fly (faster than a speeding bullet), there was no looking back. I made many life changes, got honest with myself and was willing to live with my grief and terror of letting go. I didn’t, nor could I have, done it without the help and support of my friends. I leapt that tall building in a single bound….well, maybe not a single bound. Maybe I needed a rope and pulley system to hoist myself over, bloodied my nose and knees in the climb, and called for helicopter rescue at the top…but…I am on the other side now and the view is amazing!

It was a long road to find my way out of my way. To finally knock on my own front door, reach to my television tranced 10 year old self sitting in front of the television, help her to her feet  and fly her away with me. Maybe this time on a broom…