Archive for Assumptions Posts

You Got This – Frocking Off What’s Holding Us Back



“A frock is simply an attitude or limiting belief that is holding you back. All frocks are based in fear.”

– Jo Dibblee, Founder of Frock Off Inc

Frocking Off is Hard to Do…Actually, Not Really

Remember that old song, “Breakin’ Up is Hard To Do,” by Neil Sedaka?

“Don’t you leave my heart in misery
‘Cause if you go, then I’ll be blue
Breakin’ up is hard to do”

Sometimes it’s not just a person we may need to break up with. Sometimes it can be a limiting belief or negative attitude that REALLY needs to be given the old heave-ho.

But guess what? When we do finally muster up the courage to identify, and then shed, a ridiculous (but oh-so-deeply-rooted) belief or lousy attitude that is no longer serving us, our heart is NOT left in misery. Rather, our heart is lighter…leaving us more free to soar without our beloved frocks of armour holding us down.

On Sept 15 & 16 I attended the Best Kept Secret to Success in Life, Love and Business event in Sylvan Lake, Alberta – a “Frock-olicious Life Series Event.” I was one of the speakers.

I spoke about courage…about not waiting for tragedy to wake us up to the importance of achieving our dreams, about having the courage to make difficult decisions when we know we need to make them, about how courage can be contagious so although we may not always be able to tap into our own courage, we can borrow from the courage of others to help us do what we need to do.

Throughout the jam-packed two days, we all had the opportunity to learn an awful lot of valuable information – about business, life and love – and connect with a roomful of brilliant women.

I took THIRTY pages of handwritten notes!

For today’s blog, I was going to share a few key messages from all the speakers – but there is too much fabulous content to share, so I’m breaking it down into several bite-sized blogs.

To start off, here are some sage insights from the first speaker, Jo Dibblee, the Founder of Frock Off Inc and author of the book, Frock Off; Living Undisguised:

“I am the lowest common denominator in all my relationships.”

“In business, everything is do-able but you have to have a plan.”

“Take what you need and leave the rest.”

“If you don’t have the mindset of success, it is extremely difficult to succeed.”

“We cannot solve the problem we helped create.”

“Stand ON your story – not in it.”

“The things you don’t need, leave them behind.”

“We have to determine whether we are committed or merely interested.”

“Know your WHY.”

“Every step leads you to where you are supposed to be.”

“May your life speak more loudly than your lips.”

“If something is bothering us, we have to deal with it because if we don’t, it spills over onto everything else in our lives. We need to get the issue out of our head, put it on the table and deal with it.”

“A frock is simply an attitude or limiting belief that is holding you back. All frocks are based in fear.”

“A frock can be based on the need to conform, or they can have to do with expectations placed upon ourselves or by others, or have to do with our worthiness.”

“What frock do YOU need to shed?”

This gem was from Jo’s young grandson: “Are we just shadows waiting to be seen?”

And the comment that resonated the most with me…

“You got this.”

Simple, yes. But a powerful reminder that whatever it is we are struggling with – in life, love and/or business – we CAN deal with it…when we find the courage to face it.

Next Best Kept Secret to Success Event coming up in Phoenix, AZ in October

If you are interested in attending a Best Kept Secret to Success Event, the next one is in PHOENIX on Oct 13 & 14. If you are an entrepreneur or thinking about starting your own business OR simply ready to make a significant change in your life, I highly recommend attending a BKSS event.

Related Blogs by Maryanne

Frock Off Book is Fantastic!

Courage is Contagious – the Power of Story

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here. As a thank you, you’ll receive a short but saucy e-book entitled, Dive into this Chicago Deep Dish – Ten Bite-Sized Steps for a Yummier Slice of Life

This is the 6th blog in the Life After Loss blog series:

Danger Ahead – When the Dark Thoughts Come During Grief


As I mentioned in a previous Life After Loss blog, two weeks after John’s death, I started writing what would become my book, A Widow’s Awakening.

Thanks to the argument we’d had the day before his fall (about me procrastinating on my writing) AND the fact that I’d promised myself to get up early the next morning and do some writing before going into work – but then pushed snooze instead – I had got the message loud and clear that the promises we make to ourselves are often the most important ones to keep.

What I didn’t yet realize, however, was that I wasn’t just learning that lesson for the sake of making my writing a priority. As it would turn out, that same lesson would also save my life.

In this particular blog, I’m not going to get into details of the religious component of my grieving process (I’ll save that for a future blog!) but suffice to say that after the shock wore off and the anger, hurt, fear and self-pity set in, I really started to get muddled up in the old melon – and took an interesting side trip down a Christian path.

Psychologically-speaking, in the first three months following John’s death, I pretty much took a nice big swan dive off the deep end, if you know what I mean 🙁

However, I have since learned this sort of response – the sense that one is going insane – is actually fairly normal. Intense grief can play havoc with one’s cognitive abilities, as the mind struggles to accept the unacceptable…a new normal we want no part of.

But here’s where I ran into problems: the more confused and angry I felt on the inside, the more isolated I became from the very people who were trying to support me – and believe me, I was very fortunate to have an awful lot of incredible people trying to help me through my grief.

Except that I didn’t WANT help.

I didn’t want to confide in people – friends, family or mental health professionals – about what I was really thinking and feeling because a) I was totally embarrassed and ashamed of my bizarre thoughts and negative emotions and; b) I knew that if I expressed my ideas out loud to someone, I might see how fantastical they were and then I would be forced to accept that I was delusional and then I would have to truly accept the reality that John was dead and never coming back and I was alone.

Hmmm…no thanks. Reality sucks. I’ll live in delusion a little while longer.

But in the end, of course, reality always wins. I finally hit the bottom of the pool, after my three-month-long, not-so-graceful swan dive on January 10th, 2001 – the day John’s niece was born.

Still not having grasped the importance of learning how to say NO by that point, I had agreed to be at the hospital for the child’s birth.

“I can do this,” I told myself. “I can put on my big girl panties and pretend to be happy for this young couple starting their family.”

Hmmmm…perhaps you can see where this is headed 🙁

Guess what happened when I held that adorable new little baby in my arms? MY truth hit me like a ton of bricks: John and I would never be parents. And even though I’d had three months to wrap my mind around that fact; January 10th is when my heart finally accepted it.

And the fallout was ugly.

But what did I do? I just smiled sweetly, congratulated the new parents, then went home and proceeded to have a mental breakdown. If you’ve not experienced a mental breakdown before, I don’t recommend it.

For me, it felt like a landslide happening inside my head, heart and soul. I could physically feel all the lies I’d been telling myself over the past few months slip-sliding away. And then the slide stopped and the dust settled and all that was left was my immediate reality.

And let me tell you, the PAIN that accompanied that realization was beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. It was worse, actually, then seeing John for the first time in the emergency room or seeing his dead body in the basement of the funeral home.

This emotional pain was different…there was no numbness or shock softening the blow. There was no one around to hug me or say something comforting. There were no logistics that needed attending to.

All that was left was the fact that I was alone. It was the dark night of the soul.

And everything was suddenly crystal clear. The hurt was so intense that the only thing that mattered was to get AWAY from it. I just wanted out of the pain.

When people say “suicide is selfish,” oh…let me tell you, when the suicidal thoughts show up, you don’t give a shit about whether your actions are selfish or not. You have hit rock bottom. You are DONE. How others may be impacted by my actions wasn’t even on my radar at that point. I just had to get OUT of the hell commonly known as grief.

I had been sitting by the fire, thinking about the bottle of John’s old Tylenol 3’s (left over from a broken ankle) in the bathroom medicine cabinet, and was just about to head upstairs when the phone rang. Again. I didn’t answer it. Again.

Because here’s the thing: I was way past the point of wanting to be helped.

I had made my decision to exit stage left – and the most terrifying thing was just how fast it had happened. Taking my own life hadn’t crossed my mind up to that point. It wasn’t something I’d been contemplating. It had just arrived and seemed like a logical solution.

“Maryanne,” said the voice, “I know you’re there. Please pick up.”

It was John’s Sergeant, Rick, who was leaving the message.

Hmmmm…Rick had been so kind to me. He was cute. He was divorced. He cared.

And do you know, in that split second, I chose to live. Even though the guilt of just thinking about another guy was brutal – it was better than choosing to die. So in that moment, I made a transfer in my heart from John to Rick…and I chose to stay on this planet.

Then I went to bed, cried myself to sleep, woke up the next morning – and began the long, hard, arduous journey of getting myself emotionally and mentally healthy again…and happy!

Rick and I never ended up together as a couple but we did become good friends over the years. But that’s not the point. The point is that although the thought of a new relationship with a different guy gave me the hope I needed to survive the dark night of the soul, in the end, it was the promise to myself that saved me.

And that promise was that I would NEVER, ever let myself get to that emotional and psychological breaking point again. Contemplating suicide once was once too many. Never again. And that’s what that night taught me.

Looking back, I had so much difficulty sharing what I was thinking and feeling in those early months of grief because I was embarrassed. But that shame leads to isolation…and that’s where people run into trouble. For not only do we begin to feel like we are going “crazy” but that we are also alone in what we are experiencing.

After A Widow’s Awakening came out, I couldn’t believe how many times I heard back from readers thanking me for helping them realize that they weren’t crazy or alone.

Grief really can feel like a form of temporary insanity because all that was normal before, no longer is. And that can be really scary – especially when everybody else around us gets to move forward with their happy little lives. For me, that’s where the self-pity monster reared her ugly head. And I thought it was wrong for me to be jealous of other people’s happiness.

Now I know better. In hindsight, it was actually really healthy for me to be jealous and pissed off that everybody else got to move on with their lives as planned. Losing John in the prime of his life wasn’t fair – to him or to me.

If I could go back now to those early months of grief, I would throw a big fat public hissy fit, just like a toddler that doesn’t get the candy at the grocery store check-out 🙂

Sometimes the stuff that happens to us in life isn’t fair. It isn’t right. And it hurts like hell. But the sooner we can express what we are honestly thinking and feeling – regardless of how weird or negative or embarrassing it might be – the sooner we can get on with the necessary work of becoming healthy and happy again.

Now that more than 16 years have passed since my dark night of the soul, I look back on that horrific evening and the perfectly-timed phone call and I am SO thankful that I didn’t take my own life. That would have been a tragedy. I absolutely love my life now and have a profound sense of reverence for the gift that it is.

For further info about the Life After Loss blog series, please click here.

Here is the link to subscribe to receive the Life After Loss blogs – as well as to read the blogs posted thus far in the series.

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here.

published in Assumptions, Change, Energy Vampires, Gardening, Habits, Home, Inspiration, Nature, Relationships by Maryanne | August 8, 2016 | 4 Comments

A Little Lesson from the Garden: Sometimes the Most Obvious Explanation is the Most Difficult to See


old chair in MA's garden

 “It is the obvious which is so difficult to see most of the time.” 

– Isaac Asimov

 Sometimes I’m not the sharpest trowel in the tool shed.

I am now in the middle of my seventh summer in my home in Sidney, B.C.. That’s a fair amount of time spent trying to keep the plants in my back garden watered. So one would think (hoped) I would’ve solved this particular mystery significantly sooner than a few weeks ago – but no.

Here’s the scoop:

At the very back of my yard is a shade garden filled with plants that thrive in, well, shade. Now, although the shade garden is much fuller than it was when I first moved in, you would think from the amount of time, attention and water I have put into that garden, it would be far lusher than it is.

Every spring, I add new plants. I weed. I water. I put a mixture of soil, compost and manure around each plant. As spring turns into summer, I hand-water each and every plant every second or third day. I add fertilizer. I water some more. I prune.  I add more water.

That damn shade garden gets more attention than the entire interior of my home!

long shot garden

And yes, the plants are surviving but they aren’t exactly thriving. In fact, they pretty much stay the same size from year to year.

So a few weeks ago, when I was, again, diligently hand watering each plant, I got to thinking, again, about the possible reasons WHY the soil in said shade garden often looks like it belongs in the Sahara instead of a well-cared shade garden on Vancouver Island.

And it (finally) occurred to me that the source of the shade in my shade garden might well have something to do with the situation. So I did a quick tree count and get this: I have SEVEN massive trees in or near that shade garden.


big trees back garden

So the vast majority of the water I have been trying to give the smaller plants has been promptly getting sucked away by the extensive root systems of the big trees.

Though chagrined it had taken me seven summers to solve this rather obvious mystery, I quickly moved on to figuring out what the heck to DO about it.

I basically have five options:

1. Cut down some or all of the big trees (there goes the shade)

2. Keep the trees but pull up all the shrubs and other plants and replant them in large pots and planters so they won’t be sharing the same soil as the tree roots.

3. Install some sort of automatic irrigation system that is more water-efficient and less labour intensive.

4. Don’t change anything – just keep manually watering the damn plants all the time.

5. Sell my home and move.

I then mentioned to a friend I was writing a blog about my shade garden revelation because I suspected there may also be some sort of analogy to life lurking in that soil…something about how the massive root systems of the big trees are sucking up all the water I am trying to give to the smaller plants – and how this is often people roll, too.

For let’s face it: try as we might sometimes to change something in ourselves or our lives that we know isn’t working, if we don’t first recognize the source – be that another person/people, project, job, habit/s, situation, our own attitude or negative thoughts, etc – that is sucking the lion’s share of our time and energy (and perhaps money), despite our best efforts, things are NOT going to change.

To this bit of brainstorming, my friend nodded.

“Yes,” she said. “I get where you’re going with that. But there’s a significant difference between the smaller plants in your garden having their water sucked away by the big trees – and a person who is being sucked dry by another person, circumstance, their own negative attitude and so on.”

“The person who is being sucked dry by whatever seemingly stronger force is allowing that to happen,” she continued. “They may not think they have a choice to make a change – but they always do. It just may not be pretty.”

Food for thought 🙂

Then, a few days later, I told my neighbour about how I’d unearthed the mystery of my perpetually dry shade garden (I didn’t share the analogy to people – he already thinks I’m pretty flaky).

To which he smiled and promptly asked, “And have you ever wondered, Maryanne, why the cedar bushes between our two backyards are so huge?”

I glanced over at the, admittedly rather large, cedar bushes – then looked back at my neighbour.

cedar bushes backyard

“Uh…no,” I said, suspecting I was in for another revelation, “actually I haven’t.”

Because come to think of it, I had NEVER watered those damn cedar bushes – not once in seven summers.

My neighbour smiled kindly (he is very polite) and said, “My pond had a slow leak for years. But I finally fixed it last year, so you may have to water those cedar bushes at some point.”

I threw back my head and laughed.

So there you have it: no shortage of life lessons to be learned from the old garden.

Here are two:

If you aren’t thriving like you know you could be, take a look around at what – or who – might be sucking you dry by stealing your precious time or energy. Sometimes the obvious answer is difficult to see.

Likewise, if something in you or your life is blossoming beyond reasonable explanation, there just might be a secret source of…irrigation coming from somewhere 🙂

Related blogs by Maryanne:

Butt Ugly – Are You Spending Time with People Who Bring Out the Worst in You?

Head-in-Sand-Syndrome Sweeping Nation

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and the Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her weekly blog, please sign up here.