Don’t Let Them Limit You

“I give myself permission to be more, do more, have more and say more.” — Marlene Dillon Empowerment Specialist 

This week, I answered the call to be an artist. For most of my life, I have been aware of my artistic abilities, but I did not view myself as an artist… well, at least not anymore. 

Many of us carry around wounds from a moment in time when someone expressed their opinion about who we are, what we do well, and our potential for greatness. A few words from another can destroy dreams and erase confidence. I carried a wound like that for decades. I would refer to myself as a “designer,” but rarely ever as an artist. 

This year, I decided to to live more authentically and stop hiding my talents. I, now, unapologetically share my gifts. I believe this shift has caused doors of opportunity to open for me. Without any real effort of my own, I began to receive requests to display my talents. 

The funny thing is that I did not suddenly feel qualified or ready. I just decided that it is my intention to share my gifts so whether I feel ready, or not, I give myself permission to say, “Yes,” anyway. 

….This morning I completed my piece for an upcoming art exhibit. It’s crazy how you can deny a part of you for so long, but the second you accept it, the opportunities beyond your wildest dreams flood in toward you, even though you might not feel ready.

Maybe someone in your life told you who you are not, and what you could never be. Maybe they told you what you weren’t good at and what you shouldn’t even consider. It’s time, today, to decide for yourself. You can continue to allow someone’s OPINION to keep you from who you are, OR you can decide today that you get to live a life that is aligned with your truth. (I’ll give you a hint. Their words wouldn’t have hurt, if they were aligned with your truth.) Your truth matters more than anyone’s opinion. Get back to believing in yourself. Release their opinion and give yourself permission to return to the truth of who you are. 

Give yourself permission to be more, do more, and say more than you’ve allowed. You only get one life. Live it authentically. I’m not only saying this to you, I’m saying it to myself, too.

Marlene Dillon Empowerment Specialist

#Proud2BNaturalMe❤️💜💙💚

*This is a repost of a blog I wrote in 2020. Still very relevant today. The image is new and some wording has been updated. Blessings!

Catch and Release

Decided to revisit my old blog and found this nugget. Right on track with the theme of my upcoming book, You’re Being Catfished: 7 Strategies for Overcoming Your Inner Critic. Thought I’d share. —Marlene Dillon Empowerment Specialist

Just Real 'n Honest

Was just sitting and thinking about all I am grateful for and one odd thought that crossed my mind is that I truly appreciate now recognizing the messages—the unhealthy messages—that repeat in my mind and likely have for a long time. I know it seems like an odd thing to note, but it is really a great thing when you come to place of living consciously aware of the tendency of your mind to interpret situations, interactions, etc. to mean the same thing over and over, or to reinforce a message that you’ve likely held since childhood.

Some messages that repeat for people are: “I am not enough,” “I am not good enough,” “I am in this by myself,” “No one will ever love me,” “It will never get better,’ and even “I am just like my ______.” In a time, when positive affirmations are so prevalent, one can only…

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Love Feels Like Love

Image of young lady with glasses and curly hair, appearing sad, sitting outdoors against a brick wall. Text states: Marlene Dillon Empowerment Specialist "Healthy relationships help you love yourself more. Pay attention when your relationship makes you feel bad about yourself." mdillondesigns.com

There’s a meme that’s been circulating around FB for a while that states, “If you see a woman that has everything going for herself and you’re not ready to add value to her life, just admire her from afar. Please don’t interrupt her greatness.” I’m not sure who wrote it (or I’d tag them and give them credit), but it really resonates with me and my experience.

When I saw the post, today, I was preparing to repost it with my own caption —”… that means you, narcissists”—but decided this was a great opportunity to share a bit of my own story and offer someone the opportunity to run for the hills if they can relate.

It took me over a decade to realize that one of my past relationships was not only unhealthy and “toxic,” it was actually emotionally abusive, narcissistic, and codependent.

I remember meeting this guy, he seemed to have a really great personality. I saw him as a colleague, and maybe a friend. I wasn’t focused on being in a relationship at that time, and I wasn’t attracted to him. He was just cool to hang out with and talk to.

I was focused on me when I met him. I had just gotten to a place of feeling comfortable with myself, and was at peace being single. I had just cleared up my credit and paid off my debts. I was doing well, but I didn’t realize it. I was too busy comparing myself to others. I was winning but really insecure.

In retrospect, I think he picked up on that. We connected very quickly as friends. I was new to the area and didn’t know a lot of people, so the time we spent together made me feel less lonely. We’d sit and chat, but I didn’t feel like he was hitting on me. We were getting closer, though. I started to ignore the fact that I wasn’t attracted to him and focused on how easy conversation was. He shared about his past and I developed compassion for him. I began to think, “He’s such a great guy. He just needs someone to love him.”

He rapidly fast tracked our friendship into a relationship by professing his love very early, followed by guilt-tripping me for not feeling the same. Being someone who prides herself in being nice, I didn’t want to keep hurting his feelings, so I pushed myself to catch up.

Before I knew it, I was fully in a relationship I never wanted, forgot about my plans, my goals, and my intentions. As soon as I was all in, the nice guy role disappeared and he began to tear down my self-esteem. I know this isn’t my typical upbeat post, but I feel it can empower someone to walk or run away before they end up deep in something that leaves them as a shell of who they were.

I had no idea. I just thought he was an “angry at the world” type, but that as long as that anger wasn’t turned toward me, I was okay. I didn’t realize that from the beginning I was being manipulated into giving up my hopes, dreams, personality, identity, autonomy, friends, and family. I was torn down constantly and didn’t even realize it was happening. The constant criticism and continuous demands for me to give and do more were my norm. The guilt-tripping and expectations for me to prove my loyalty was so constant that I didn’t even recognize what was happening. I just knew that I couldn’t get it right, I was never doing enough to make him happy. He constantly told me how he was wasting his time with me and that he could be with other people but was stuck with me, and I believed him. He fed me that narrative so much that I stopped seeing the truth.

This relationship ended a long time ago, but it was just months ago that I read this article on a website that described my relationship as if our years together had been recorded and transcribed. As I scrolled that page I realized our “relationship” was nothing more than the standard narcissist script.

I wrote this post for the person who is in a relationship that makes them feel bad. I’m not talking about the, “We’ve been together so long that we’ve lost our spark,” kind of feel bad. I’m talking about the kind of relationship where no matter what you do, you can’t seem to get it right. Where you walk on eggshells because you never know what will piss them off. The kind of relationship where they demean you in public. The kind of relationship where you feel worse about yourself the longer you’re in it. The kind of relationship where you feel relieved every time they leave the house.

If you remember nothing else from this post, remember that “love feels like love.” Love doesn’t feel like being bullied and it doesn’t feel like being afraid. It doesn’t feel like your belly constantly in knots. (Butterflies feel different.) Regardless of what you’ve been told, you are worthy of love. You are not a problem. You can be loved totally as you are by someone. You don’t have to be more, smarter, thinner, taller, shorter, more outgoing, quieter, or whatever else to be loved. You are worthy of love right now and you deserve to be in a situation that feels like love. True love causes you to love yourself more as you witness them seeing the beauty of who you are. We are ALL worthy of that kind of love.

I am leaving some links below (including the one that caused me to discover the nature of the relationship I was in). If you know someone who may benefit from this post, or the links, please share. Most people would never know that I went through this so don’t assume that there is no one you know who needs this post.

Sending you much love.

Marlene Dillon Empowerment Specialist

The Bigger Picture

It’s fair to say that life doesn’t always feel good. The last few years, honestly, have felt like one thing after another.

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Image: a closeup shot of a chess board, one piece has fallen. Text states: Marlene Dillon Empowerment Specialist "Sometimes things have to fall apart to come together." mdillondesigns.com

A few weeks ago, I received an intuitive hint, to periodically look at my life from a bird’s eye view. On the ground, it’s hard to see that things will soon improve. We see the traffic, we get frustrated, and feel like things will never get better, but from an aerial view appearances are different.

It may look to some like I’m winning, but few people post their losses. Honestly, my adult life has felt like one traffic jam after another. I’ve gone from struggle, to setback, to loss, to drama, with few moments of free flow in between. I just refuse to wait until all roads are clear to make an impact.

I don’t know about you, but for me traffic is a million times worse when I have complaining passengers. It’s easier to talk myself into being positive when no one else is affirming the negative. This is why my quiet, meditation time is so important for me. (I even just ordered some ear plugs on Amazon to drown out household noise. 🤫)

When I can get quiet and still, I am able to remember that despite appearances I’m still in route to my destination. If I don’t give up, and keep inching along, I’m going to arrive.

When I remember that the traffic is temporary, and that I get to find joy no matter where I am, I turn up my music and dance in my seat. Sometimes when I’m having a challenging day, I put on some music, lock my door and freely dance. And on days where it’s too much and too overwhelming, I take a break, or a nap. It’s just like I do in traffic. If it’s taking too long, I give myself grace, put the car in park and turn off the engine. I know eventually, we’ll get moving….

My perspective in challenging times is really important as well. I believe that life’s challenges prepare me to better understand the needs of those I will serve. I don’t necessarily believe that things have to be bad before they get good (or whatever that phrase is). I just believe that I have a purpose, and occasionally I go through things so I can fully understand the depth of the issues—the impact, the mindset, the hurts, the needs, and what counts as a triumph—for the people I am here to support.

Mindset is everything, especially in tough times. Despite the losses, struggles, and drama I’ve been through—including this year—I am still very clear that I’m not losing. It gets hard sometimes. My closest friends know the challenges I deal with on a daily basis, as well as the potholes I’ve swerved, and hit. Even so, I’m still moving forward.

As we go through life, it’s important to remember that we can’t see how the game ends because we’re in it. At times we feel like we’re losing left and right. Sometimes all our inner work is not yet reflected in outer change. We’re doing our best, but our lives still don’t look ideal.

Today, these words came to me, “Sometimes things have to fall apart to come together.”

These words are comforting. They help me remember to resist the temptation to assume my outcome based on today’s appearances.

It may appear that our lives are falling apart. The struggles, the setbacks, the losses, and the drama can be so consuming. Without a bird’s eye view, we have no idea what good could be around the corner. We may not be able to see it right now, but we could be one move away from winning.

Blessings!

Marlene Dillon Empowerment Specialist

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