When I was a kid, I had the great honor of having my Grandmother live with us for a few years. It wasn't until now that I realized how many life lessons she taught me.
On the outside, she was this cute little Italian lady, with a warm smile and twinkly eyes, and dressed in a comfy floral housecoat. She liked reading and sipping tea at our kitchen table.
But on the inside, she was a force to be reckoned with. As the matriarch of the family, she spoke her mind freely and no one messed with her. When I was a little girl, I saw her push the tax assessment man right off of her property. They’d had a difference of opinion—hers won out! ( P.S. for you youngsters, yes back-in-the-day a person actually came out to your house to give you the bad news!)
At the time, I remember feeling shocked and thinking I could never be like her! But secretly—boy, did I want to be like her!
On some days when I came home feeling let down by a problem with a friend or because I did not speak up about something that was important to me, she would always say, “Where is your pepper, Lisa?”
My pepper? I listened intently as she counseled me at the kitchen table, in her own fearless and feisty way, on what I should have said or done. It was great advice—but not really my style. I am a more sensitive type and remembered thinking again…I could never be like her.
But over the years, the question haunted me: Where was my pepper? WHAT was my pepper? And what was at stake if I didn’t find it?
And then I realized as an adult … my Grandmother’s “pepper” was actually the courage to speak my truth. And I had to do it in my own way.
I also realized what was at stake…
If we don't find our pepper—our ability to be comfortable in our own skin, to be seen and heard, to ask for what we want and need, if we don't do that--we keep ourselves small.
∼ If we don’t value what we have to say, neither will others.
∼ If we don’t stand up for what we believe, we keep ourselves invisible.
∼ If we try to be like everyone else, we lose what makes us unique.
∼ And here’s the biggy… if we fail to put ourselves out there, hiding behind a cloak of inadequacy, we lose the opportunity to share our wonderful talents and gifts that are so needed in this world.
Our beliefs expand or constrict us folks. There is no in between. I watched and compared myself to my Grandmother, thinking I had to do it her way. I believed that in order to be heard, I had to be aggressive. (And society reinforced this.)
But being aggressive and speaking your truth are two very different things. I’ve learned that you CAN speak your truth, in your own sensitive way, and still make an impact in this world.
So how do YOU find your pepper?
You begin by breaking through the beliefs that keep you playing small. You “un-program” the ideas that hold you back from speaking your truth.
-Who are you comparing yourself to? Who are you thinking you have to be like?
-What beliefs are no longer serving you now?
-What do you need to let go of?
-What could you do if you no longer had these beliefs?
Remember, YOU get to decide. Your pepper is YOURS.
Find it, claim it, and get your gifts out there.
It's Grandmother approved!