Our Secrets Keep Us Trapped


I spent the week listening to some of the leaders in the field of  human potential, I’ve spent a lot of my life rooting around looking for myself…and my potential.  Anne Lamott was the highlight for me. I’ve always identified with her, maybe because she’s honest, willing to write and speak without her make-up  on or her “best self” flag hanging out there.  As I get older, I want to be just like Anne though she’d say, “No, you don’t. You just want to be just like YOU.”


The summit wrapped its content around “Self-Acceptance”. Sound a bit woo-woo to you? Maybe you’re thinking that we’re all a bit too self-focused already? If you’re grousing about the “young folks today”, most assuredly you are thinking, “My God, we ought to be teaching them to accept responsibility, show up for work wearing some decent clothes and looking up from those damn phones long enough to cross the street or drive a car!” So, I get the skepticism. I gotta admit, I wasn’t expecting much more than fluff…except for Anne Lamott!


I tuned in to watch about 12 presenters of the over 30 that participated. Scientists talked about neuroscience and self-esteem. Coaches, speakers, writers, addiction specialists, spiritual directors, many of whom you’d know took self-acceptance to a new level…a personal one.  It certainly got personal for me.


You see, it seems that unless we really do like ourselves, it’s hard to like anyone else. And, there is no greater challenge to human beings than just that…liking ourselves. Question is, however, how can we be expected or know how to like ourselves when we’re born into such negative, untruths about who we are? Taught to be an imposter, hiding parts of our sweet selves that we have disowned because we are so ashamed of them. Things like my father and grandfather’s suicides, a mother who struggled her whole life with crippling depression, knowing what it felt like to have the repo guys come while I was in school, coming home to an empty house , and being delivered a Thanksgiving turkey and a “food bag” from the church so that we could have a holiday meal. I could, as I am betting you could as well, go on and on about the things in our lives we’ve done, been told, experienced or had done to us that cause us to carry shame. Much of my life and energy has been consumed by making sure nobody knew my secrets. I thought if they did, they couldn’t possibly love me. 


So, how do we learn to accept ourselves? We get feisty. Ferocious about reclaiming that beautiful little person that came into this world exactly the way he/she was supposed to. Not perfect for very long, but making mistakes in order to learn how to live. Problem was, somebody didn’t get the memo…our parents and our society. Seems religion told us we were already born sinners. How can you feel good about that? Then, there was that thing about mistakes. Spilled milk wasn’t a normal thing children did. Yelling, or saying things like, “You’re so clumsy!” made their mark and went into our internal storage units.


We now need to learn how to treat ourselves as well as we treat our children, grandchildren, friends and others in our lives that we know are wonderfully imperfect. It’s our greatest challenge, and the most important thing in our life. For only when we can accept ourselves as flawed, imperfect, mistake-making, desperate-for-love human beings will be begin to protect ourselves from our own inner critic and be willing to share some of those “shameful secrets” with others who have similar stories. Then and only then can we know that  though our stories may be different, we all have them. There’s such comfort knowing that because we no longer feel that deep fear of being and feeling alone. A dark place becomes illuminated when we share our stories with fierce honesty. First, with ourselves,then with others who are safe and who we know really won’t abandon us. The irony of being honest and vulnerable is that shared experiences, especially those that make us feel ashamed and alone, are the very things that bring us closer together. If you don’t believe that, look at all those amazing human beings on the ground around the world, and right here at home, being there for those who are suffering.


Don’t wait for an illness, earthquake, or life’s most challenging times to tell your stories. Ask for help if you need it any day of the week, or in the middle of the night. Be there when others give you the gift of their precious stories…especially the ones they’d rather not share. It’s an honor to to listen. Others who love you will be honored when you’re ready to share yours too.

Like this post? Re-post it on your social media so that others can begin the feisty journey toward honesty and joy!

Are you tired of being alone, but think nobody would love you if they knew “this” about you? Don’t let this myth stand in the way of finding someone with whom to share this amazing chapter of your life!

Want to talk about how to find love, both for yourself and someone special?

Email me for a Complimentary Strategy Session today! 

Donna Bailey, MS

Coach, Writer, Speaker and Expert in Dating and Relationships for “Grown-ups”

Donna’s Big RED Chair

donna@donnasbigredchair.love  510-817-4242


For Me, October is Like Restless Leg Syndrome


It’s not even here yet, and I’m already thinking about it. What is it about October that sends me into a spin? Ups and downs are higher and lower. Hibernation sets in as I find myself staring into space, unable to do much else. That tricky sun finds her way up to a different location and has to run at the end of a painfully too-short day. Every year I feel as if I’ve been abandoned when darkness shows up before the evening news is over. It’s just a mess, October.


That wacky month seems to be infamous for huge changes in my life, both good and truly tragic. Both my wonderful sons were conceived in October, so maybe that early darkness was a gift! After a lifetime in the south, blaming the Stork for having dropped me there instead of where I belonged, it was October when I drove out the driveway headed for California…truly my home. It was also the month my Daddy was born, and that he decided one day it was time to leave. way too early in his life… and in mine. As each October arrives, I find myself going deep inside myself and asking the big questions. Each time that Harvest moon rises, those questions roll around in my head, my feet get itchy and, some men in my life would say I become “high maintenance”.


What do you do when your month of great change appears? Are there themes that keep recurring and begging for your attention? Are there some hard decisions that always come with great resistance that maybe this year you can just do anyway? Dreams you keep dismissing or perhaps don’t feel are possible?


The soul stirs in us in the fall. It’s uncomfortable most of the time when we feel restless and uncertain and want to take the short cuts. But, this is also the season when those changes can offer up a new, beautiful and more honest life. The soul always wants honesty.


Pick one thing you’ve been pushing down or trying to ignore because it just “feels too hard”. You will know what it is. Write it down and then do one thing this week toward making that happen. Just one thing. And your soul will take a deep sigh and  it will become your partner,  your coach, your friend on that journey to realizing your dream. I promise I’ll do it too and next October, let’s compare notes!

Donna Bailey, MS

Donna’s Big Red Chair

Coach, Speaker, Writer

Dating and Relationships for “Grown-ups


Are your feet feeling itchy too? Time for change in your life and you don’t know where to start?

I’ll help you find that starting place, and you’ll be surprised how much fun change can be.

Give me a call to set up a Complimentary Assessment at 510-817-4242





Is it Better Just to Settle Rather Than Be Alone?

unhappy couple settling




I had a boyfriend some years ago who was as interested in relationships and finding love as was I. Our conversations were a constant source of growth for us both. We talked while we hiked up mountains, over afternoon tea and even when we were in bed together. There was no aspect of love and gender that we didn’t cover, diving deeply over and over again into one area that seemed to fascinate us both…”settling”.  I would love to give you a clear definition of just what that means, and my partner in crime, were he here, would argue adamantly that it means something else entirely. I would ask you to consider thinking about what the difference is between compromise and the concept of “settling” within a relationship you may have had in the past or may be in at present. And if you’re out there looking for someone right now, will you be tempted to settle?




Settling involves compromising beliefs that we hold so dear that we would fight for them, defend them without apology and know in our hearts and souls that they cannot be compromised.  Some would call these things our values. Each of us has a different set of values that constitute our moral compass. These values remain firm and static throughout our lives. They are our North Star and without them, we lose our way. Examples might include honesty, keeping agreements, respect. The Golden Rule is an example of a value for most healthy human beings and if you have experienced a relationship with someone who does not treat others with the same respect that he/she wants to be treated, that relationship is not healthy.


Compromise occurs when we agree to move toward another human being’s way of thinking, believing or living. Though we might want to do something the way we believe is best, we can see the wisdom and respect the other person’s point of view and then become willing to move toward his or her way of thinking.  Healthy relationships will always require compromise if they are to survive. The best way to move toward your partner when there are differences is to ask  “How important is it?”. Many times, the answer is “not very”. So, we compromise.


When individuals settle, they lose themselves in the process. Bargaining with your moral compass can result in depression and victimization. Often it’s more subtle. Maybe you don’t feel “that bad” or you say, “it’s better than being alone” or “at least he doesn’t hit me”. And though you aren’t alone you will feel ill at ease, perhaps sad or confused and live in some degree of denial. You might bargain with yourself while parts of you slowly disappear over time. Settling is toxic and much like addiction, will strip away your self-esteem.


If you are dating someone or further down the road in a relationship which you “know” isn’t life-giving, think about the cost of settling. Be sure you know the difference between compromise and the corrosive nature of settling. If you are staying put because you feel afraid you will always be alone, begin by making friends with yourself, remember that you are loved by many wonderful people, and trust that if you truly want to find someone who will love you and share your values, it will be worth the search, the slog and the wait. It truly will.  You deserve to be happy and wholly you.


Do you want to find someone to love, but are afraid you’ll lose yourself again? How about some support and direction to help you find love that won’t ask you to settle, but will feed your soul?

If you’re ready to find love, I’m offering a Complimentary  30-minute Session to show you the best way to make that happen!

Call or email me at 510-817-4242   donna@donnasbigredchair.love

Donna Bailey, MS

Coaching, Speaking, Writing and Expert in Dating and Relationships for Grown-ups

Donna’s Big RED Chair


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