Tag Archives: listening

On the Power of Sisterhood

TedXPass

I went to an event called TEDx Pasadena Women last night and it was amazing.  I don’t know why I am still sometimes surprised after all these years about the power of women and the power of sisterhood.  I’ve had decades of experience that tell me that when I a group of women get together, something powerful happens.  There are rare exceptions.  Events that don’t have the amazing zap and snap of the one I went to last night.  But honestly, those are the exceptions that prove the rule.

I had an amazing time meeting women of all types last night who do all different things.  From powerful television producers with Emmy-winning hit shows to women helping other young women build self-esteem to real estate moguls who also help victims of domestic violence, these formidable females get stuff done.

But they are also deeply interested in what stuff OTHER women are getting done.  And that is a key to their power.  They are deeply accomplished, but still want to hear what other women have to say.  And then they take a moment, and thoughtfully consider who else you should connect with, and walk you over there and introduce you.  It’s freaking amazing.

That’s not to say that male-dominated events don’t have good things about them.  There’s good (and bad) things about virtually every event.  But I’m telling you, events dominated by men are different.  And I meet more people and get more business done and connect more and make more happen in events dominated by women.  Especially, ESPECIALLY if those women’s events are diverse in other ways like race, age, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, religion and background.

So if you are a woman (as I know many of you my dear readers are) I can’t recommend highly enough that you find a moment to inject some sisterhood into your life.  Find some time on the regular to meet and connect with more women.  It will do you good.

And don’t (as I often do) forget to stop talking once in a while and start listening.  I think you’ll find your sisters have some pretty amazing things to share.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie

AKA The Fat Chick

P.S. Speaking of sharing.  I hope you’ve gone over and registered for The Fat Activism Conference.  We have dozens of amazing women ready to share their stuff for your open ears.  Prices will go up again soon, so click on over HERE.

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Listening to your body means listening.

There has been a lot written about the notion of listening to our bodies.  Many people (including me) have written volumes about how our bodies have wisdom that can answer questions like:

1.  What does my body need right now?

2.  What do I need to eat?

3.  What sounds delicious to me right now?

4.  How does my body need or want to move right now?

5.  Do I need to rest right now?

Our bodies do have wisdom.  And we can learn a lot by learning to ask our bodies what our bodies need.  But a lot of people that I work with say that they have a hard time hearing the answer.  And I invariably reply, “I’m not surprised.”  In my experience, we are taught from a young age how to talk.  We are taught to perform and demand and emote and share.  What we are not taught, is how to listen.  Sadly, our culture does not seem to place sufficient value on listening.  And I think a lot of the problems in our world stem from the lack of emphasis placed on this important skill.

One of my favorite authors, Terry Pratchett, writes about this in one of his Discworld novels called Pyramids.  In this novel, our hero wanders off to Ephebe, where we find a whole lot of philosophers all talking at once.   Except for one character known as Endos.  You see, Endos is a professional listener.  His job is to sit quietly and absorb what other philosophers have to say.  From time to time he encourages them by saying things like “you don’t say” or “please, continue”.  For this service, Endos is paid handsomely.  Because you can’t toss a grape in Ephebe without hitting a philosopher, but a good listener is worth their weight in wine and gold.

So if we want to learn to listen to what our bodies have to say, it often helps to start by learning to listen, period.  As Endos would tell you, listening is a skill like any other.  It has specific techniques that can be  learned.  With that in mind, I’d like to share some of the listening techniques I’ve gathered and share with you how I feel they can be applied to listening to our bodies.

1.  Be Quiet.  It’s kind of obvious, but if we want to listen to somebody talk, we first need to stop talking.  In the case of listening to our bodies, that means that we should sit quietly and without distraction from television or radios or computers.  And then we need to stop talking to our bodies.  We need to stop telling it what we think it SHOULD want or it SHOULD need.  This is step one, but it is often the very most difficult.

2.  Be Encouraging.  My body is not going to talk to me if my body is sure I am going to scoff or treat it with disdain for the things it has to say.  If my body says, “I’m hungry,” and then I tell it, “You can’t be hungry because it isn’t noon yet,” we’ve got a problem.  Next time I ask my body what’s up, will it answer?  If I want my body to tell me things, I need to take a cue from Endos and be encouraging. I need to say things like, “Fascinating!  Do continue.”

3.  Be Patient.  Our bodies are used to being ignored.  It might take a while for our bodies to communicate with us again.  We need to give it time and space.  We need to accept that we won’t always get answers the moment we ask for them.  We need to treat our bodies with respect and patience.

4. Be Impartial.  If our bodies are convinced that we will judge it and treat it harshly for letting us know what it needs, it will stop telling us.  We need to listen to our bodies without judging.

5.  Be Responsive.  If we constantly respond to our bodies needs by denying those needs, our bodies will stop talking.  If our bodies learn that they are rewarded for telling us what they need by GETTING WHAT THEY NEED they will become more communicative.

I have lots more I could say about this, but I’d like to practice some active listening with you right now.  Do you have some thoughts about your experiences in learning to listen to your body?  I’d love to hear them.  Please share in the comments section below.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want to listen to me talk at YOUR group, classroom or organization?  Click HERE to learn more about my speaking programs.

Loving Your Body by Listening to Your Body

listening

I’ve been married for nearly 20 years, and that’s quite a while.  If I’ve learned anything over this past 20 years about relationships, it’s this–if you love somebody you have to take time to listen to them.  Sure, it’s important to buy each other presents, and show affection.  And yeah, sex is pretty important too.  But few things are as important as taking time to really hear what your partner has to say.

Today is Love Your Body Day, and I think that’s wonderful.  It’s a day which encourages us to celebrate the bodies we have as they are.  It’s a day which encourages us to put diets aside and to spend at least 24 hours not comparing ourselves to unrealistic media ideals of bodies and not beating ourselves up for failing to “measure up”.

But I think we can take this relationship with our bodies a little further than failing to beat ourselves up.  And I think one of the most important things we can do to show our bodies love is to learn to listen to them.

Our bodies are mysterious and magical and wondrous.  So much of it works without our having to think consciously about it at all.  Our hearts beat, and breathing happens.  Our stomachs digest food and our bodies break it into nutrients that fuel movements both conscious and unconscious.  But for things that we need to do consciously like find food and move our limbs, and lay down to sleep our bodies have a very sophisticated built-in wiring system intricately connected with our brains.  And if we become attuned to that wiring system, we can learn so much about what our bodies need.

So many of us have learned to be frustrated by the fact that our bodies get hungry.  But I for one, am deeply grateful for it.  I am a busy person who is easily distracted.  Were it not for hunger, I think I might find myself stranded on the side of the road somewhere completely out of fuel and without roadside assistance.  Luckily, I get hungry often and in no uncertain terms.  So even if I find it really annoying, I find that I have to take the time to find food on the regular.  What’s more, I find that if I take the time to listen, my body is pretty specific about what food it wants.  The more carefully I listen to my body, the more attuned I am to what nutrients I am lacking and what foods might best top off my nutritional tank.  Sometimes my body craves carrots and sometimes (well most of the time) it craves chocolate.  And it seems the more carefully that I follow my body’s menu choices (rather than my brain’s dictates about what I should eat) the better I feel.  And when I really listen to what my body wants to eat, and give in by eating precisely as much of those things as my body wants, I am rewarded.  My body feels warm, wonderful and satisfied.

Another area where I’m learning to finally listen to my loud-talking body is in movement.  Our bodies are capable of amazing abilities to move through space.  Not only can we walk across a room or catch a ball without thinking about it, but we can also hike and swim in the ocean and dance.  And this is another place where the highly sophisticated wiring in our bodies has a lot to tell us.  If I sit too long, my body protests.  My back and knees stiffen.  I feel pain in my head and neck.  On the other hand, if I move too much or too long or in a way that is too intense for my current fitness level, my body sends me messages of pain and fatigue.  Now just like hunger, pain and fatigue can be deeply annoying.  My schedule may convince my conscious mind that it does not want to get up and move or it may not want to stop moving or it may find it extremely inconvenient to sleep.  Thankfully, my body sends signals that are difficult to ignore and I try to find ways to meet my body’s demands by moving or resting or sleeping.  And when I get this right, my body rewards me.  I feel a lightness in my limbs and a glowing sense of energy when I am well-exercised and well rested.

Our bodies strive for something that is so difficult for us to achieve in modern life–balance.  Our bodies tell us when we are eating more food than we need or not enough.  Our bodies tell us when we need more broccoli, and when we need buns.  Our bodies tell us when to leap and when to laugh and when to rest and when to run.  And when I listen, truly listen, to my body, it sings.  The energy flows through me and I feel a hum that runs from my toes to the top of my head.  That’s what it feels like to be in a loving relationship with my body.  It feels wonderful. It’s enough to make me strive to make every day love my body day.

Love,

Jeanette (AKA The Fat Chick)

Desires–What I Wanna

I LOVE jammie time!

I LOVE jammie time!

Not all cravings are for food.  Sure, chocolate chip cookies are important, but there are other things in life.  And in learning to listen to what my body wants to eat, I am learning to broaden the question and listen to the other things my body wants.

At some point every day, my body craves rest.  Especially since I am such an early riser, there comes a point where my body wants to just curl up somewhere under a nice blankie and get some sleep. And it feels so good!  I love, love, love my jammies.  In fact when my friend and super talented photographer Kelly Varner came over to take some pictures, we went through the closet to look for some clothes.  When she saw my collection of PJs she laughed and said, “you have a lot of pajamas!”  To which I replied, “of course!  Jammies are awesome!”  At some point in the evening, I’ve been known to shout out, “What time is it?”  To which my husband has learned the Pavlovian retort, “It’s jammie time!”  At which point I’ve been known to burst into my own version of “Jammie Time” which is based on “Suppertime” from You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.  I’ve even got a special little song I sing when I slip into a bed made with clean sheets fresh out of the dryer.

Sometimes, I really just crave some time alone.  I want to shut the door and shut out the world.  I want to read or surf the net or display my wrath via computer games and I don’t want to talk to anybody or be with anybody.  Sometimes I crave company.  Sometimes I want to talk to somebody and sometimes, I just want to go to the coffee shop and sit in a room with a bunch of strangers–just to be somewhere other than my room all by myself.

Sometimes I feel the need to go out into the world and sing and dance and play with others.  Sometimes I want to walk or bike or stretch or shake my groove thing.  And sometimes I need to withdraw from the world and be outside and be with nature.  Sometimes I want to shut off my phone and simply look at some clouds or some trees or the ocean.

My point is that there are many, many kinds of cravings in my life.  Some of these cravings involve food.  Many do not.  But I find that when I am ignoring cravings in one area of my life, other cravings tend to intensify.  If I’m craving alone time but find I can’t get it, I find myself craving more sleep.  If I’m craving sleep, but can’t get it, I find myself craving sweet or starchy foods.  When I’m feeling the need to go out and dance and shout and shake my groove thing and can’t do it, I crave shopping for new things.  I have learned that there are many “displacements” for when I ignore the underlying cravings in my life.  And I have learned that my life works better when I can find a way to satisfy the underlying cravings rather than the displacement cravings.  Now life being what it is, I can’t always get whatever I want whenever I want it.  And I’m a little old to flop down on the floor of the local grocery store to have a kicking and screaming tantrum.  But even when I can’t have what I want, I find it helpful to know what it is.  And I’ve found it helpful to make peace with the replacement cravings too.  They are all part of me and it’s all good.  It’s all good.

Love,

The Fat Chick

Strengthening our Voices

Now with 36% more shout!

Now with 36% more shout!

This weekend I have been battling with a little rhinovirus-related laryngitis.  Which is a fancy way of saying the nasty gook from my latest head-cold is making it hard for me to talk.  Now anybody who knows me at all, knows that I find shutting up for any length of time a major sacrifice. And my husband has found he practically needs to tape my mouth shut to get me to rest my voice so I can get better.

But the whole thing has made me think a lot about the way that people of size are silenced in our society.  As fat people, we’re told that we don’t look healthy enough to run the country.  We’re told we are not eligible to run a company because of the way we look.  Many of us are not taken as seriously as we like because of the size of our pants.  We are patronized.  We are discriminated against.  And whenever we say anything about it.  When we complain about discrimination or unfairness, we’re patted on the head and told to just be quiet.

And many of us have been so hurt and so humiliated for so long, we just quietly sit and take it.  We accept second-class citizenship, we sit in silence and we relinquish our power just like that.  We stand idly by as fat friends and family members are treated as less than.

Why do we do this?  Why do we let others silence our voices?  Sometimes I imagine it is because we get tired.  Fighting is hard and painful (even if you DON’T read the comments section).  But I think the main reason so many of us become silent, is because we secretly or even openly believe the lies that other people tell us about ourselves.  We believe we are less capable.  We believe we have less to offer.  We believe that we don’t have the physical stamina necessary to run the company or run the world.

We will all face times of silence.  Whether it is because it is too dangerous to speak, or we are simply to tired to lift our voices, silence will happen.  And sometimes silence is golden.  The question is, how can we use these times of silence to come back even stronger?

I think we can take that time to remember that we are people of worth.  We can recall that each of us has something to say and deserves a space in which to say it.  We can also use the quiet times to help other people find their own voices.  Then we can find even greater strength in shouting and singing together.  And we can take the time to really listen to one another.  We can bend down and hear the quiet voices that don’t often take center stage.  And we can listen carefully to the loudest voices and hear the true meaning that often lurks between the spoken words.

Yes, from time to time each of us is silent.  But we can choose to use those quiet times to gird our loins and warm up our songs so we can roar out into the world once again.

Love,

The Fat Chick

P.S. Tune in to hear my voice TOMORROW on an amazing teleseminar.  Click HERE for more info.

And I wanted to make a shout out to all my Fit Fatties Across America out there!  This week Saturday is A Fatty Affair in San Jose.  Last week we reached Colorado.  Help us add another 1300 miles this week to get to San Jose by Saturday!  Don’t forget to enter all your minutes/or miles of exercise and help us hit our goal!

Free Advice


Let me tell you a secret. This blog feeds a need in me. I have a burning need to offer free advice. I have a compulsion to tell people what to do. That seems to work okay in a blog, but in real life, maybe not so much. And lately, I’ve been dealing a lot with the nature of advice from both points of view.

A lot of people seek my advice, and when they ask for it, I try to give it. And when they don’t ask for advice, I try (but often fail) to keep my advice to myself. But it’s so hard, right? When someone comes to you, and they are complaining, or frustrated, or crying. And how often do we think we see what that person needs to do to fix their situation? It seems so SIMPLE, right? And how often do the words, “All you have to do is…” come leaping to my lips?

Sometimes I’m right. Sometimes I know what that person needs to do to make everything better. And sometimes I just DON’T. Often all I know about the situation is the little bit I’ve seen and the little bit that person has chosen to share with me. And sometimes the person I’m talking to is able to eloquently relate in great deal what is happening to them. And sometimes they are NOT. Sometimes they have furtively shown me the tip of a very big iceberg. And sometimes I think I should know just how HUGE that iceberg is before I start giving navigation directions about how to steer around that bad boy.

But I can tell you from the other end, that sometimes the last thing I want in the world is some more unsolicited helpful advice–especially from those closest to me. It’s great that they care. And sometimes, no make that often, they are absolutely right about what I need to do. And sometimes, no make that often, that is absolutely not what I needed to hear at that moment. I try (but often fail) to be grateful that they care enough to share their ideas about what they think I should do. I try (but often fail) to accept their helpful hints and mild criticism with grace. But so often I end up angry and hurt and frustrated.

I think this is because often when I complain, or express frustration what I really need is 1)assurance that everything will be all right and 2)encouragement that I already have the tools to figure out what I need to do. That doesn’t mean that I am able to joyfully and completely articulate my needs in that moment. Nope. In that moment, I am bitching about something that isn’t going right in my life and secretly hoping like hell that the person listening doesn’t feel the need to give me lots of advice.

So what’s a person to do? I guess when I’m listening, I should try to remember that I have two ears and one mouth. I need to wait and assess–is this person asking me for advice, or encouragement, or assurance, or for nothing at all but a little commiseration? And I guess when I’m ranting, I have to remember how deep and strong the urge is to tell people what to do and be glad that people care enough to want to help me. Or at least I need to learn to articulate what I need instead of being annoyed that the person I’ve just regaled with all my woes hasn’t guessed correctly which of the hundred responses is the right one. It can be downright sticky.

So my little Chicklettes, I frankly don’t know how to advise you on the issue of advice. All I can suggest is to keep your mind and heart open, and do the best you can. And when you fail (which will be often) learn what you can and move on.

Love,
The Fat Chick