Two years ago this week, our mom went to sleep peacefully and left this physical plane. And even though during her last few years her body was just giving out and shutting down and she couldn’t remember who we were, there were some sparks of recognition occasionally.
The photo is of my mom from a much earlier age – maybe late teens or in her early twenties. I love her smile and I love that she is swinging. I hope that where she is now, they have swings.
As you can imagine, especially if you’ve lost a parent or someone you’ve loved in that role, there is a hole in your heart. All of a sudden, you’re an orphan, no matter what age you are and there are tons of memories to sort through.
Here is a link to the posting I wrote four days after my mom’s death: A Hole in My Heart. It still rings loud and true to me.
Sorting through the memories can be a joyful and a sad experience, and amazingly, each day something she said or did finds its way to the surface for me to feel all over again. Sometimes good feelings and sometimes, not so good feelings. But with time, the not so good feelings are fading and the more I have experienced what hormones can do to our body at various stages of our life and the general ups and downs we go through, the more I can understand those not so good days for her. And, let’s be honest after all – I imagine I could have been one A+ pain in the butt kid at times. I know, hard to believe, huh?
Remembering my promise to myself that I will never “live in regret” for things left undone or unsaid, I choose to believe that I can have conversations with her now and that she will receive every word, and often, give me a signal that she did. Just the other day I was wishing that she could see our new place in Vermont and spend some time in this lovely country, and I immediately got a sense from her that she has been here many times with me and loves it.
So, that hole that hurt so much two years ago continues to be filled up. Mostly with the good stuff these days. And, always with love.
Losing a parent – another life transition. For those of you who have lost a parent or parenting figure in your life, how do you keep the conversation going and fill the hole that was left behind?
Five provocative questions answered by an inspiring and fabulous woman – a woman with something to say.
Meet DeLores Pressley
DeLores Pressley, International Keynote Speaker and Confidence Expert, is dedicated to helping women be bold, confident and courageous. She is the CEO of DeLores Pressley Worldwide and Founder of the UP Woman™ Network, a network and movement to empower and elevate women.
She is an author of 5 books and a contributing columnist for Smart Business Magazine. She is very involved in her community and President of the National Speakers Association (NSA) Ohio Chapter.
As a former elementary school teacher and a pioneer of the plus size fashion and modeling industry, DeLores has inspired and helped thousands to leverage their leadership voice, have a powerful presence and make life transformations. She is a frequent media guest and has appeared on Married To Medicine on Bravo TV, Entertainment Tonight and OPRAH.
People would be surprised to know that: I didn’t always feel bold, confident and courageous. I didn’t always feel like I deserved to be wealthy. My family wasn’t rich, we were economically challenged. So when I began my business, I gave away more than I should be giving away. I didn’t understand my worth and devalued my worth. I didn’t charge the fees that I deserved and had owned the right to charge.
What’s the conversation that changed your life?
A conversation nearly twenty years ago with one of my business coaches. He said, “DeLores, you don’t realize your true value.” Those words changed my life. He helped me to realize that I was more powerful than I had ever believed I could be.
Society always tried to make me feel as though I was not good enough. The dance school would not allow my mother to sign me up for ballet because they told her that I was too fat. My high school guidance teacher told me that I was not college material and when I wanted to start a model agency for plus size women, people laughed at me. That’s why I have dedicated my life to helping people who feel FLAWED or NOT GOOD ENOUGH to live their life dreams no matter what.
What are you most conscious of today?
Women being afraid to own and live in their full power. The Imposter Syndrome is alive and well in many women. The Imposter Syndrome, which is defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist even when the opposite is true. It is prevalent among successful men and women, and in African Americans. It is derived from messages, attitudes, or beliefs that have been imparted on a person from early stages of life, by parents or any other important person that was present during childhood (childhood conditioning). Female celebrities with this syndrome include Jodie Foster and Nicole Kidman, They have used words such as “fake”, “impostor”, “fraud”, “guilt”, “really bad job”, to describe themselves and their acting.
What part of you have yet to give voice to?
I want to start a Foundation where underprivileged young women can get funding to attend conferences for women business owners . The young women could get an accountability partner from our database of adult women who want to mentor a young woman who wants to be a business owner. I think I will call it the She Elevates Foundation.
Also, I have been gifted to have a singing voice, however, I do not sing very often. So I need to give voice to my “singing voice”.
What’s the conversation women need to be having collectively?
Women need to have a conversation around working together in a big way.
We need more joint ventures. We can accomplish so much more if we work together versus doing it alone.
What needs to be said bigger, louder, stronger?
Women need to love themselves where they are at this very moment. Yes, they may want to make changes, but they must love themselves first.
Reports show that even small girls have challenges with self-esteem. That poor self-esteem carries over into adulthood. We must stop the madness!
I believe that women need to make more bold, confident and courageous moves. We need to teach our daughters at an early age that they are beautiful and can accomplish in life exactly what they want to accomplish.
Thank you, DeLores, for sharing your powerful voice
with WomanTalk Live
Our mother, our grandmothers, our aunts, our sisters, our female cousins, our office mates and other women in our life just show up as part of the package. We don’t have much of a choice about who they are and what they’re like. In some cases, they aren’t the people we would choose to be with either. But, we have them, we learn from them and they play a big part in our own development.
But what about our girlfriends? We definitely have a say here. Child Development Specialist and Parenting Consultant, Linda Gellman Levin says that “girlfriends are the only women we choose in life for ourselves.” So, why would we take a pass on that choice?
Well, I basically took a pass when I worked in corporate America. With sixty to seventy hour workweeks, who had time for friends? I was exhausted or working on weekends, so meeting people was not the easiest thing to do. Most of my “friends” were people I worked with, mainly for the convenience factor. Many of them were not people I would have “chosen” otherwise.
In the last twenty years since I escaped the ivory tower cage I was living in, developing relationships with women has become a priority for me. Some of the friendships have worked out, others have been dysfunctional, and a few have been over-the-top wonderful, and still are. And, while it takes time to nurture a friendship, it’s so very worth it to me now.
Getting together for coffee, dinner, lunch or having a group Girl’s Night Out has been a way for me to feed my soul especially when I get to spend that time with women I love. And even though I love my privacy and alone time and my time with Bob, I treasure those girlfriend times.
Imagine my surprise when I asked the wife of a couple Bob and I were having dinner with if she’d be interested in joining me and a group of women when we go to a film screening. Wining and dining would be part of the package, too. Well, this woman – whom I’ve gotten to know over dinner several times since last summer and who I think is wonderful – looked at me like I was a unicorn or something. Go out with a bunch of women? For what? She hated things that excluded men when they could be a part of the conversation. And, she had a lot more to say. I explained this was dinner and a film and a discussion with friends and that it really didn’t have anything to do with excluding men. We just wanted some “me” time.
She let me know that she was not interested and that those type of get-togethers – like the garden club – were too much like a clique. Ouch.
Gotta tell you… at first, my feelings were a little hurt and I couldn’t figure out exactly why. My thoughts – Getting together with my girlfriends was like the garden club? There’s something wrong with just getting together with the women folk for eating, sipping and talking? Wasn’t Bob enough for me? Why was I excluding men, and so on and so on.
Bob was even surprised by her reaction because he’s so used to me having GNOs in Baltimore and starting to create that energy here. He’s always thought it was great, so he was a little puzzled, too. Then, it hit me. We’re different! Imagine that! I love having girlfriends and that’s not a priority for her. We get together with our spouses for dinner and that’s wonderful and she doesn’t feel the need for the girl thing. And, that’s fine because now I know where she stands.
But, when I look at some of the long-term benefits of having girlfriends such as increased longevity, reduced stress levels, higher self-esteem, and better health… I’m keeping the girls.
According to an article in the Huffington Post, women lose about half of their close friends every seven years. This can be because of “moves, career transitions, relationship changes and different life stages which bring a shift in our friendships that frequently leave us drifting apart…” so our friend list isn’t static. It’s growing, evolving and changing, just as we do. It’s totally unrealistic to expect that we can get everything we need from one person or our partner all the time. Those old and new friends add so much to our lives.
So, where do you stand? Are girlfriends important to you, or not so much? How do you nurture your friendships? If you’ve primarily focused on one person as your “friend and everything else,” what would happen if they were no longer around? Has the role of “friends” changed for you as you have matured? Spill it…
In February 2015, author and speaker Michael J. Russer spoke at TEDXUniversityofNevada.
In his warm and humorous talk, he describes how his impotence led him to discover the key to experiencing extraordinary intimacy with another human being.
A life-changing event.
Michael, the founder of NotYourTypicalGuy.com, is a prostate cancer survivor who was left completely impotent as a result of his treatments. Yet, it was because of his impotence that he and his partner discovered an entirely new approach to emotional, physical and spiritual intimacy that far exceeds anything either experienced prior to when things were working “correctly.” His mission is to help men, women and couples everywhere to achieve extraordinary intimacy on all levels.
Michael is also a champion of the nonprofit men’s work being done by the ManKind Project. He completed the New Warrior Training Adventure in 2012.
For the past several weeks, when I go to the gym and crawl onto the treadmill or elliptical, I turn up the music. And being of a certain age, I am partial to disco. Yep, I admit it when others won’t. In my mid-20’s in Houston, I signed up for disco dancing classes and hit the clubs with blasting music, strobe lights, and men in white suits with their shirts opened to expose their chests where no doubt, there was some gold chain hanging amongst the chest hair. Not a plucked guy in sight.
I LOVED disco and went out dancing as often as I could knowing that at just any moment, a guy who could stand in for Travolta in Saturday Night Fever would surely ask me to dance.
But, here I go again, getting off topic! Back to the gym where I stick in my headphones and click on the Pandora disco channel. When the Bee Gees, KC and the Sunshine Band, Donna Summer, Sister Sledge, Gloria Gaynor and solo many others come on, I could walk/run/cross-country for miles and miles. Sometimes, I amaze myself.
Recently, one song keeps popping up over and over in the queue. It’s Cheryl Lynn’s Got to Be Real. And as weirdness goes, that song has become my newest earworm. For no reason at all, it’ll just start in my head no matter where I am or what I’m doing….. GOT to be real, GOT to be real – over and over and over.
A few days ago, I realized why Cheryl Lynn was driving me crazy. A friend on Facebook posted some writing from my favorite of all time children’s books, The Velveteen Rabbit:
“He said, ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real,
most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.’”
Becoming “Real” doesn’t happen to those who break easily, have sharp edges or those who have to be carefully kept… it only happens when you live full out and love. You may be hurt along the way as you stumble and fall and lose some of your hair or even an eye and you start to look a little messy. But, you are loved and you are real and you feel it and know it.
And, you don’t have to struggle to “keep” up the image you thought you had to be so that others would maybe love and accept you. That is such a tough act to keep up and often times, it’s not YOU. It’s not real.
So, once again, I get little lessons and reminders from the Universe and even Pandora and Facebook. As I continue through this transition process, there is no one I need to impress or outshine. I just gotta be me.
What about you? What are you discovering about yourself? Always been real? Ready to be real? What’s that look like for you?
Here’s to us all… keeping it real and loving it.
Illustration by William Nicholson for The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams