Thursday, December 9, 2010



I feel compelled to share a story I read several weeks ago because... IT IS ME, YOU SHE AND HER!

These are the writers words verbatum...

We have been programmed by the media and society to DO, strive and out-perform in order to meet a standard that in reality just can’t be met. For many, the Superwoman cape is still on well after the holidays. It becomes a part of the illusion of who we believe we must be in order to be loved, appreciated and valued. You may have heard about the syndrome affecting millions of women. It’s called the Superwoman Syndrome!

Here are just a few of the symptoms to watch for including…

A disconnect from your authentic self
The loss of your physical health and emotional well-being
A Loss of Your Sense of Joy and Gratitude
Feeling spiritually alone, disconnected and disenchanted
Loss of Connection to those around You
Feeling as if the world is spiraling out of control and you can’t catch up.
Fear of dropping the ball and letting the ‘world’ down
Feeling like a ‘visitor’ in your own life
Do any of these symptoms sound familiar?

How do I know what it feels like?

Like many others, I’ve been there, done that and it literally came close to killing me at just 40 years old. (I’m now 48.) During my years as reigning SUPERWOMAN I lost my sense of self while going 100 mph trying to fulfill every role imaginable – single mom, award-winning entrepreneur, motivational speaker, community advocate for women and children, running fundraising events and much, much more. The Superwoman Syndrome gives those afflicted the illusion that the more they do for others the more they will feel loved, valued, appreciated, worthy and important.

In my case I lost my sense of self-worth and the Superwoman Syndrome became my crutch to feel all the things that I NOW know have to come from within. In my desire never to let anyone down and in order to fill the empty void within I gave so much of myself that I literally crashed and burned. I missed out on beautiful family memories just to make one more fundraiser or speak at one more shelter. I wanted to ‘help, save, inspire’ just one more woman to believe in herself and not give up – and all the while I was unable to save, help or inspire myself. As Superwoman I spent all my energy on giving, supporting and balancing the balls – until one day there was no energy left in the well.
Like many women I was once afflicted with a serious case of Superwoman Syndrome and though it is curable – a relapse can happen at any time if we are not aware. I share my story with the hope that I can prevent even one woman from finding out the hard way – and to bring awareness that our perceived role as Superwoman is an illusion –one that can cost you everything.

Let me bring you back in time. Ten years ago this Superwoman was flying high and at the speed of light. Even as Superwoman I knew deep inside I knew I couldn’t possibly balance one more plate or juggle another ball – Superwoman was barely holding on – physically, emotionally or spiritually. (Though of course, back then I would NEVER have admitted that to myself or anyone else).

I was as disconnected from my body as one could possibly be and still be alive. I was so focused on doing, doing , doing that I had lost my ability to ‘BE”. I was wearing so many hats and balancing so many balls that my days began to run together. I began existing on caffeine and sugar just to maintain my frantic Superwoman pace. The more I juggled the more fearful I became about dropping a ball or not living up to the expectations of this Superwoman persona.

Then the day came that SHOULD’VE acted as my personal WAKE-UP CALL. Being the slow-learner I was back then it wasn’t, I , of course waited for the Cosmic Two-by-Four to hit just months later.

For many years I owned a successful retail store and was active in the community on issues related to women and children. After winning a local business award one of the local magazine’s ran an article sub-titled “Superwoman’s Cape must have been Behind the Door!. The article profiled all I had overcome as a former welfare mom and all I was doing in life and in the community to support women and children who were going through transition along with mentioning all my other roles as Superwoman. The day the story was released one of my employee’s came in with the new issue and gushing about what a great story it was. I went into my office, closed the door and began reading the article.


I wish I could tell you that I was beaming with pride as I read the article but this story is about the illusions that make up the Superwoman Syndrome and there are many. As I read the story I began to cry. Deep sobs coming from deep within, sobs that I hadn’t allowed myself to release in a long, long time for fear that they wouldn’t stop and of course, Superwoman must remain in control. I can still remember the intense feeling of dread that enveloped me as I read the story and remember thinking – “Oh my God! Now I’ll never be able to slow down or take this cape off.” (or I’ll let everyone down, etc. etc.) I felt so trapped by the life I had created and the Superwoman illusion that I was living under.

Today I see that my reaction to that article was a sign from my soul that I had disconnected from my true purpose – but that’s a story for another day. Instead of listening to the wisdom that my reaction had evoked and beginning to review my beliefs around my need to be Superwoman – I wiped the tears, checked my cape for wrinkles and continued flying at the speed of light.

Less than six months later (after not heeding all the signs and symptoms my body tried to relay to me for quite awhile, ok for about two years) my body began shutting down. That’s right at 40 years old – Superwoman was hit with the Cosmic Two-by-Four. Body aches and fatigue so severe I couldn’t tie my own shoe to finally a mini-stroke at 40 that left me house-bound. Bounced around for eighteen months from specialist to specialist – with diagnoses ranging from Advanced Lyme Disease to Multiple Sclerosis – Superwoman could fly no more. Actually, Superwoman wasn’t even allowed to drive, run or play during one period of time.

Superwoman told she couldn’t do ANYTHING! ME????? My initial thoughts were “My God, the world is going to fall apart. Who is going to fulfill all my roles? Who is going to take on all my responsibilities?” The questions, worries and concerns filled my mind with dread.

Words can’t explain the intense anxiety and guilt I experienced during those first few days of bed rest. Yes, GUILT! Imagine, my body was screaming for love, care and bed rest and I was feeling guilty about all those imagined people I was letting down. My Superwoman cape hung solemnly on the back of the door haunting me with thoughts of all I SHOULD be doing. It was only pure exhaustion and pain that kept me in that bed –ok, and the fact that my family took my car keys also helped.

As the days of rest turned to weeks my illusion of self-importance was shattered. The world continued spinning, projects were completed, my business ran without me and my world didn’t fall apart. Slowly the guilt was replaced with an immense sense of relief that I had an ‘excuse’ (illness) which prevented me from putting my cape back on. For the first time in years I felt released from the illusion of the persona I had worn for so long. With only time on my hands I began reading and filling my time with books on spirituality, holistic healing, personal development and inspirational topics. As I began the healing journey back to myself I was able to release the illusions that kept me chained to a persona that left me feeling empty.

Flash forward eight years later to today! I am healthy, (all their diagnoses were wrong and the more I journeyed within the less severe my symptoms became.) happy and living a juicy, joyful life. Though it took a Cosmic Two-by-Four to bring Superwoman to her knees (literally and figuratively) I believe that without that wake-up call I wouldn’t be here today. I look back on my days of healing and see the blessings and lessons contained within. As hard as the healing experience was, I would do it again to gain the blessings, lessons and insights that came from such a dark time.

I know you are waiting to hear what happened to the Superwoman cape or if I have relapsed during my journey. Yes, I’ve relapsed over the years and there have been days I’ve pranced around in front of the mirror in my Superwoman cape but it happens less and less now. As I’ve shared with other recovering Superwoman ‘unless we stay connected to our essence, our authentic self we can get pulled back into the illusion.” As I began the healing journey back to myself the Superwoman cape found its way to the back of the closet – where it remains today.
And the world still spins!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


By Andrew Harvey

"Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he or she sends forth a tiny ripple of hope."

A plump Indian businessman, dripping with gold and diamonds, came one day to visit Mother Teresa, fell at her feet, and proclaimed, “Oh my God, you are the holiest of the Holy! You are the super-holy one! You have given up everything! I cannot even give up one samosa for breakfast! Not one single chapati for lunch can I give up!”

Mother Teresa started to laugh so hard her attendant nuns grew scared (she was in her mid 80s and frail from two recent heart attacks). Eventually, she stopped laughing and, wiping her eyes with one hand, she leaned forward to help her adorer to his knees.

She said to him quietly, “So you say I have given up everything?” The businessman nodded enthusiastically. Mother Teresa smiled. “Oh, my dear man,” she said, “you are so wrong. It isn’t I who have given up everything; it is you. You have given up the supreme sacred joy of life, the source of all lasting happiness, the joy of giving your life away to other beings, to serve the Divine in them with compassion. It is you who are the great renunciate!” To the Indian businessman’s total bewilderment, Mother Teresa got down on her knees and bowed to him. Flinging up his hands, he ran out of the room.

The tremendous and simple secret that Mother Teresa was trying to communicate to the businessman is the message at the core of all the world’s spiritual revelations—that lasting happiness springs only from true love of the Divine, the world, and others, a true love that expresses itself tirelessly in wise and compassionate action. The other side of this tremendous secret—also proclaimed by the world’s spiritual traditions—is that this true love of the Divine and others, when expressed in wise, compassionate action, can lead not only to lasting inner joy but also to profound transformation of outer reality. As Robert Kennedy said in 1966 so eloquently and accurately, “Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he or she sends forth a tiny ripple of hope. And crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

When the inner joy Mother Teresa spoke of, the joy of compassionate service, is married to a practical and pragmatic drive to transform all existing economic, social, and political institutions, a radical and potentially all-transforming holy force is born. The radical holy force I call Sacred Activism.

A Sacred Activist is someone who is starting to experience the inner joy and outer effectiveness of this force, who knows that the profound crisis the world is in is challenging everyone to act from our deepest compassion and wisdom, and who is committed to being, in the face of growing chaos, suffering, and violence, what Robert Kennedy called “a tiny ripple of hope” and a “center of energy and daring.”

Millions of people all over the world are now waking up to the need to become Sacred Activists. What we are being asked to do is not to “fix” the existing system but to radically transform it so we no longer, by our choices, threaten our lives and the lives of millions of species. And we can only do this by radically transforming ourselves.

A Brief List of Eleven Things You Can Do Today to Begin Aligning Yourself with the Power and Hope of Sacred Activism:

1.Write down one thing that has made you grateful to be alive today.
2.Write down “off the top of your heart” ten things you would say are sacred to you.
3.Think of someone who has hurt or betrayed you and make a commitment to work on forgiving him or her.
4.Read a short text from any of the world’s spiritual traditions that inspires you with the love-wisdom of the prophets and mystics who know God directly.
5.When the text that you have chosen starts to light up your spirit, pray a short prayer that aligns you with the pure deep love that is longing to use you as its instrument in the world.
6.Make a real commitment to spiritual practice. If you do not yet have a practice, start now with a simple meditation.
7.Now turn to your life and the people in it. Call up a friend who is grieving, ill, or looking for a job, and ask what you can do to make the burden easier.
8.Make a commitment to skip one meal in the coming 24 hours and send a check for the money you would have spent on it to a reputable organization dealing with world hunger.
9.Make a commitment to find out which people around you are in distress and invite six of your friends to help find out what is needed to help them.
10.Make a commitment today, even if you are having financial difficulties, to tithe between five and ten percent of what you earn to a cause of your choice.
And finally, make a commitment to keep some small change in your pocket so you can always give something to one of the growing thousands of homeless in our streets.