Dianna BartonComment

Just be you...

Dianna BartonComment
Just be you...

Hello Mama Bird Village!!  I’m so excited to sit down to chat about Dianna’s theme for January 2018.  JUST. BE. YOU. What a great topic to start off the new year! Three simple words.  But when I stop and think about what this phrase means, it nearly brings me to tears, because this is what we all need to hear!! This has actually been my theme, my ANTHEM, for the past 12 months and it has absolutely brought me to this very moment in my life: my career, my family, and who I am today.  

Before we go any further, let me tell you who I am.  My name is Elisha and I have spent many years of my life wishing that I were someone else. The truth is, I’ve never been an expert at anything (and I’ve done A LOT of things). I did musical theater for years of my life (dance, acting, and singing), on a pretty mediocre level in spite of hundreds of hours invested. I wrote a book, that was (let’s be honest) probably less than average.  My mothering skills are OK, I guess (depending on the moment), but my organizational skills lack heavily, which doesn’t always lend well to being a serial entrepreneur. So there you go, that’s me. Jack of all trades, master of nothing.  Not throwing a pity party here, these are just the facts.  Throughout my life, I’ve always been average.  Not the worst thing in the world.  As my mom always put it (usually as I sobbed over a part that I didn’t get)… there’s always someone ahead and someone behind.  But somehow, in my mind, that always just meant I’d need a faster sprint to get ahead of the pack.  Throughout my life, I’ve compensated my lack of perfection by producing more of everything. Always more. More projects, more research, more events, more achievements, more proof of intelligence, more, more, more...  Always a race to overcome this burden of mediocrity.  And here’s the spoiler alert:  it didn’t work.    

At one point, I guess you could say that it all hit the fan.  It was a series of events that culminated into my own personal crisis. Friendships, work patterns, even close personal relationships – just not fabulous… and I wasn’t sure why. I decided it was time for some serious introspection. 

I decided that I needed to start by taking a look at where I was in my life.  On some level this meant coming to grips with my utter averageness.  After all, this is just WHO I AM. Through my own self-analysis, a lot of prayer, and meditation, I realized that for 38 years I’ve built a wall to disguise my shortcomings – trying to play the part of a know-it-all business owner, power-house mom, health enthusiast, and social butterfly.  And, not surprisingly, that doesn’t contribute much in terms of cultivating interpersonal relationships.  But there was even more to it… My businesses felt SO unfulfilling, my eating habits were all over the place, and every spare moment of the day was devoted to maintaining this façade of perfection.  

When I began listening to Brene Brown talk about this concept of viewing your vulnerabilities as “gifts,” I paid attention.  I’d heard it all before, but this is when it really came together.  This is what being “authentic” means.  When we are true to ourselves, inadequacies and all, we are more relatable, more compassionate, and more creative.  But it’s hard today... in a world of Insta-perfect lives.  You know what I’m talking about.  Perfect houses, perfect bodies, perfect child-rearing, perfect diets, JUST. SO. DOGGONE. PERFECT.  And most of us can’t help but feed into this notion… that perfection is “out there,” so we try and try - and just always miss the mark. The truth is, it’s a race to nowhere. When you push TOO hard trying to become someone else, it’s like pushing a string.  You can see by looking at it that something went wrong. I love Brene and I believe her when she says that “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” So that’s where I decided to start.  Courage.  Sounds interesting, right?

plum + sparrow

I decided to drop the reins and start embracing who I really am, imperfections and all.  I’ll be honest, this experience didn’t start off smoothly – and guys, I’m still working through this.  Initially, as I began to unmask this front, my inadequacies became glaringly obvious. I spent months in this awkward martyr-like space.  It was ugly.  Why don’t people like hanging out with me, why can’t I keep my kids on a schedule, why can’t I seem to do anything successfully wah wah wah… Gross.  But as I look back, I realize that this ugly unmasking WAS a necessary step in dropping the pride, the EGO, the PARTS THAT WEREN’T REALLY ME.  Like a detox of the spirit, really.  Eventually, through this process, I realized that there’s a bigger picture and it’s not about me at all.  Hang on I’ve gotta just come home again on that last part.  THIS.  This is not about me. There’s something bigger.  Much.  Much.  Bigger. 

In a moment of clarity it was as if God said to me, Dear, I have big plans and I need your help.  What I need is for you to get over yourself so I can put you to work.  And by the way, I’ve given you everything you need to make it happen. You don’t need to be perfect.  Just. Be. you.

That’s when the “detox” got serious.  I started gratitude rituals, I got serious about my personal prayer and meditation time.  And I began identifying people and things that made me feel threatened so that I could experience the joy of celebrating their victories instead. 

So here’s what I absolutely did NOT expect:  

Almost simultaneously, a curious thing began happening.  A group that I’d set up many years ago on Facebook (The Eat to Live Support Group) started growing by 1000 new requests a day. I recognized right away that something was brewing that was bigger than myself and I committed to doing whatever this project needed.  I did my best to stay humble and continued my prayer and gratitude rituals. The group continued growing by thousands every week.  During that time, hundreds of people were reaching out to me personally, people who struggled with over-eating, just like I had.  They needed help and it was clearly my assignment. The only two requirements for this job were clear: my love and compassion for the people of my community, and my own history of disordered eating.  As I committed to the plan, all of the answers came pouring in.

Within a year’s time, a community of over 40K people was built.   Today, it’s complete with group coaching, a full-resource website, recipes, meal plans, and a private network where people can open up about their own challenges in giving up addictive patterns.  By the end of our first 6 months, I’d seen community members reverse diabetes, heart disease, skin disorders, some even lost 100 pounds.   

This is a project that has my name is on it, but you know what?  It’s not mine. Thanks to that perfect, tender moment, I can see that I’m only an instrument in beautiful experience.  And as long as I do my part, I get to be along for the ride.

Here’s what I want to tell you, because I know it to be true.  We’ve all got an assignment of sorts.  It might not be an online community (then again, it might be??)  What it takes is a willingness to shake the pretenses, forget what we lack, and JUST be ourselves. Miracles will happen, and it’s pretty amazing to be there when they do.

plum and sparrow

Want to participate in a 7-day Spiritual Reboot with me?  Here’s the DAILY action plan for the next seven days (having a journal will be helpful for this):

1.      Trust. If you’ve never had a God moment, lean into this experience and you’ll be amazed at what happens. Just imagine taking your hands off the steering wheel and trusting that He has you. You are the vehicle.   Close your eyes for a few minutes each day in reflective prayer, knowing that you’re in His hands and that He can do more with your life than you ever could do alone.  As you start each day, commit to doing whatever things you’re inspired to do. 

2.     Have Gratitude.  For the reboot, feeling grateful isn’t enough.  We’re going to actively pinpoint what we are thankful for and then expand into things that you didn’t even realize that you’re grateful for.  With a pen in hand, write down things that you’re grateful for, for 5 solid minutes. 

3.     Celebrate others. This is most likely a little more out of your comfort zone ( I know it was mine…).  You’re going to celebrate the achievements of others.  Make a list of people or situations that have made you feel either jealous or threatened.  Close your eyes and think about how you would feel if that experience had been yours.  Then project that feeling to the person involved. Do this as many times as you need until you are genuinely happy for others.

4.     Stay in tuned.  We are designed to receive inspiration naturally.  We really don’t have to bend ourselves out of shape to make this happen.  But here are some things that will get in the way of getting the answers we need:  jealousy, anger, gossip, self-deprecation.  If you give up those 4 things, you’ll get the answers that you need.