Tell Fear To Shut Up, You Are Too Busy Being Awesome!

Dear Readers,

Ever wonder how to fight that nasty imposter syndrome?

Today I heard a great idea (from Jena Vivian- a fellow career coach) for counteracting those feelings of insecurity and doubts that plague your mind when you step up to the plate, take the bat, and get ready to swing and get ready to connect.

Just as you do, all that fear and uncertainty tells you for sure you are GOING to strike out instead of hit a home run.

Why do we do that? Why does our mind cast immediately to the worst possible scenario and set of circumstances? Well, if you are anything like me, it’s because you spent the majority of your life watching things “not work out” or in fact, “fall spectacularly apart” or more accurately “waiting for the other shoe to drop” but it really all comes down to the same thing. FEAR.

Stepping out into the unknown is HARD.

Any time we have the audacity to challenge the status quo or attempt something outside the normal or mediocre and THAT is when fear starts rearing its ugly head and starts saying things like,

“Who are YOU to write a book?

“You are too old to go back to school, it’s too late!”

Who are you to audition for “The Voice”?

<Insert your big dream here>

You want to know the antidote for fear and doubt?

It’s simple. Any time someone (a voice or another person) tells you that you can’t do something or questions your ability to try, take a minute and refute that fear with truth.

For example-

Fear says- Who are YOU to write a book?

You say: Well, I have these ideas that will not turn me loose, so I am pretty sure I am SUPPOSED to write a book, so shut up, sit down and watch me do it.

Insecurity says- You are too old to go back to school, it’s too late!”

You say-

Well, you need to check your facts, pal.

Julia Child released her first cookbook at age 39, and got her own cooking show at age 51.

Vera Wang failed to make the Olympic figure skating team, didn’t get the Editor-in-Chief position at Vogue, and designed her first dress at age 40.

So, shut up and watch me prove you wrong

<Insert your big dream>

You get the idea.

The other thing that helps and I mean this sincerely.

Surround yourself with people who want to be in the circle- Professor Haston

I am not sure if it will work for you, but I keep a kudos file, a record of voicemails, letters and emails or as it happens, confidence inspiring photos of past moments of swaggery (which is bad***ery and swagger combined)

-Thanks to Shonda Rimes “Year of Yes” for that one.

to remind you of the pure and unadulterated awesome you TRULY embody.

Trust me, you need something you can call up any time those other voices get loud and nasty as you wait in the wings for your turn to shine.

Think About It.

Then get busy telling Fear to get lost.

Strong, Smart, AND Cute!

Cute. It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot, especially when describing little girls, in this particular instance, mine.

I mean, yes, she is, AND she is so much more.

She’s three now (HOW?) and just the other day I heard her say, while putting her hands next to her face, “cuuuute” – not sure if she was describing herself or the outfit, and I saw an opportunity to reverse a seemingly innocuous habit.

Allow me to explain- I absolutely think my daughter is cute. I also know she is smart and strong and that’s a narrative I want her to believe from as early an age as I can to negate barrage of people telling her that she is “cute” but forgetting all the other things she is too.

So my husband and I discussed it and agreed we will teach her to say, “Strong, Smart, and Cute” when describing herself.

I never want her to think that “cute” is ALL she is.

I am proud to report after just a few days, she is saying all three!

(Thanks to Aunt Rachel for the dress!)”

Growing up, I was definitely recognized as Smart, but that was all.

I think it was good to grow up with that notion and hearing people say that about me, helping me to believe it about myself, and I am also sure it would have been greatly beneficial to believe all three about myself and, as I have grown, I have come to believe it.

I could leave it at that, but I think the important takeaway here is YOU.

What words do you use to describe yourself?

Are they true or false?

Are they aspirational or accurate?

Taking it even further, what are you saying about others, what words are you using? They matter, so

Think About It.

Unplug and Reconnect!

Dear Readers,

I think we can all agree as a society that we spend too much time looking at screens and not enough time looking at other people or getting outside and active. I was thinking about this as I watching a commercial for deodorant which advocated getting out of the house and get active which made me ask the question, why do we need commercials to encourage us to do that?

We KNOW it’s good for us, and yet, we don’t always make that effort.

Same goes with eating foods that are good fuel for our bodies, but that’s another post.

Going back to getting more active, let’s talk about that, shall we?

The attempt to blackout all social media is pointless, the goal is to be intentional with my digital use.

Some days I do better than others, and it’s about progress, NOT perfection.

One step I have taken is to start waking up with an alarm clock. I am also working to give up the “Snooze” and speak more French. It was bought six months ago and I only started this two days ago, but details, details.

To report, Monday worked great, (Day 1 is always the easiest, isn’t it?) Today was Day 2 and I snoozed twice which is better than my normal 3-5 times so I am calling it a win.

Yes, I know, I know, you want your phone, but think about that. If your phone is the first thing you touch in the morning, that sets the pattern and habit to be interacting with “IT” all day. What if you change just this one habit? What could happen?

Another thing I do is think twice before I pick up my phone to review the calendar or log on to Facebook, or other applications or games.

The most vital of these (unplug) moments is also the hardest. Every day from 4:30-7:30 p.m, I shut down my phone to give full attention to my child. I did not realize how important this was till my 3 year old pointed at my device and reached for it, saying, “Phone”. I did not teach her that word, yet at 3 years old, she already knows what it is.

The very notion that it’s hard for me to PUT my phone in the other room (studies have shown, if it’s in the room with you it still pulls your focus, isn’t that crazy?) makes it all the more important that I stick to my word.

But look at what I would have missed if I was not looking at her but rather looking at my phone ?

My hope is to inspire just ONE person to examine their use of devices over their interaction with people. All I am asking, is for you to THINK about it.

Yes, it is fun to scroll and read and comment and like and I love my word find games for relaxation and keeping my brain sharp, but I recently started to count how much time I spent on games and Facebook using an application called “Moment” which is free to use, and this screen really caught my eye, because it tells the world you are unplugging and “living in the moment” for a specified duration. I like that, I like the idea of choosing to be away from your computer.

If the idea of putting your phone down for a day or a week makes you twitch, this post is for you.

There is also a low-tech version, you can just put the phone down and go do something.

To be clear here, I am not against technology, I am against mindless technology. Applications like “Moment” can be leveraged to help us “Unplug” and “Reconnect”

Case in point, you are reading my words, which I appreciate, and after this, what will you do to unplug and more importantly, RECONNECT?

Think About It.

Zumba Bust!

Dear Readers,

I love to dance. I mean I really love it. I will dance to anything that has a beat.

So it seems that someone who loves it would be good at it and easily do it, right?

Not so much, no.

I have a little game, and I can definitely learn choreography when called upon, but as far as on-the-fly aerobic dancing, I am utterly hopeless at it, I really am.

I remembered this 2 minutes into my most recent Zumba class. I used to have an AMAZING instructor for Zumba, which now that I think about it, is probably why I still try it out every once in a while. I also love the idea of “dance as exercise” because before I do it, I really hate to exercise, once I am there and doing it I am still hating it, it is only after it is over and done that I am glad I did it.

But back to dance class, It used to really bother me and I would wear myself out trying to keep up with “Debbie Dance Teacher” – you know who I am talking about… she was probably a dance team member or cheerleader, and she has a perfectly choreographed dance all planned out to “Thriller” including “zombie breaks”? It’s not just her but the other people in the room who are mistaking Zumba for “So You Think You Can Dance” auditions which is good, because people are welcome to pursue their dreams any time and any way they like. But that is so NOT me, and mid poorly executed grapevine, I had an epiphany.

I am there to exercise, not to impress anyone so if I get a step or two wrong, who cares?????? Who am I so concerned with impressing? I think the point is to move your body and (gasp!) have fun so as soon as I started to do that, it was a lot more fun and wonder of wonder I actually started to pick it up a little better because I relaxed, Imagine that!

I also left at the hour mark though it was a 2 hour Halloween themed class which should have been called “Boo-mba” but nobody asked me.

I am also sure my next class (on Monday) will be even better because I am ready to dance!!!

I can’t wait!

So what is the point?

Don’t be so afraid to be bad at something that you never try it.

What have you not done because you are afraid of looking silly or not perfect?

What would happen if you tried it anyway?

Think About It.

You don’t need a voice to communicate

Dear Readers, I am a talker and I Loooooooove to talk and in recent years I have become aware of how much more important it is to LISTEN. But, I am human as much as I hate to admit it, (Thanks Keya)

Coming face to face with this sometimes takes an event ungoverned by me because if you are anything like me, you go 80 miles per hour 24/7 and wonder why you’re tired or get frustrated when your body rebels and you are FORCED to pay attention.

This was never more apparent than last week. I lost my voice. This sometimes happens to me when I am faced with stressful situations.

The last time was when I was really revved up for a job interview. In fact, I had three scheduled and the night before, I lost my voice. I drank water and sprayed “Singers Saving Grace” like my life depended on it and yet, morning came and no voice. I rescheduled all three explaining the situation and everyone was very understanding, to my great relief. As it turns out, I wound up not getting ANY of those jobs.

But back to last Wednesday, I was preparing to sing at Poppa Joe’s memorial service which was in Philadelphia, his hometown.

Wanting to do him proud, I was rehearsing and prepping for it and out of nowhere on Wednesday, my voice was a little scratchy, so I made it a point to talk less in efforts to conserve said voice and hoped for the best. I drank a lot of water and rested my voice as much as I could. Thursday I woke up even raspier so total silence which is a neat trick when your job is recruiting, and I have an understanding team who helped support me. That night, I wordlessly communicated with my daughter and continued to rest my voice. I observed her talking a lot more in my silence.

Before I went to bed, I said a fervent and silent prayer that I would wake up all better before heading to the airport.

Sadly, that was not the case, so I said to myself, no sense in stressing, (the softer equivalent of the useless but popular “Don’t worry about it”) just keep on with vocal rest and water and we will see what happens. I also meditated and listened to my “wake up and kick bahookie” song, though it was ridiculously early (hello 4 am!)

I am a very bad Austinite because I forgot ACL (Austin City Limits) was going on, so this was my view Friday morning at 5 am- OUCH

First, I am grateful I am always early, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying to wait. Have I mentioned how much I HATE to WAIT? (more on that in a future post, friends)

But back to the present, I was deeply grateful to not have my adorable 3 year old in tow because 1 hour in line by yourself is a lot easier to handle sans energetic and restless child despite her ever-present charm.

Things would also have gone better for me if I had gone to the bathroom BEFORE getting in the very long line that snaked its way through the terminal I would have been a LOT less stressed. As it was, I watched as people who were concerned and voicing said concerns loudly about missing their flight got angrier and more stressed and took it out on TSA. I let several people go ahead of me because I was super early and they were on the verge of missing their flight, not their board time. I was very relieved to walk to my gate as we were boarding which is still a little too close for my comfort but it is what it is.

I do my best to always find the lesson in things especially when stressed.

All of this “silent communication” allowed me to truly observe and listen intently to what others had to say. Even on Friday night, when I thankfully got my voice back, I was judicious with talking and into Saturday as well. It afforded me the opportunity to truly listen as people told stories about Joe and how he had touched their lives. I am very clear on how much Joe meant to me, but it wasn’t until hearing person after person exclaim,

“Oh, you’re Sunshine”?!? that I truly knew how much I meant to Poppa Joe.

It’s still unbelievable to me that this tower of strength is gone. Just like that. I went to see him when he was a few days away from the end, I got the phone call he was gone and it still didn’t feel real. I would love to tell you singing at his memorial finally drove it home, but it didn’t.

It wasn’t until just now, as I wrote this sentence, I realize I can never call him again. He won’t ever crankily point out how much I am in error for despising beer. He won’t ask me how my TED talk is coming. He won’t ask about Jeremy or Vivienne because he can’t.

We will never have “further words” again.

The point?

Simply this, dear readers.

Who do you want to communicate with that you have avoided out of stubbornness or pride?

Who have you been missing but not reached out because you are scared of a little awkwardness?

I think it’s unfortunate that it takes a death to bring this message home, and sometimes that is what it takes for us to tell people how much they mean to us. I have definitely started saying it more to those I love in the last few days (You know who you are…..)

“No one has a voice like you, no one has your stories, your words, your experiences.”

Share yourself, share your voice.

I learned this weekend, that even without a voice, I have a lot to say.

Think About It.

Who Will You Call?

Dear Readers,

When someone we love dies, we struggle to make sense of it. We wonder why, we get angry and sad and depressed, to name just a few. That’s a very brief way to describe an extremely complex situation.

According to the five stages of grief, we feel

Denial

Anger

Bargaining

Depression

Acceptance

This is the Kubler-Ross model, and has been a long held standard.

First- It’s important to note, this stage business falsely suggests that it’s a linear and orderly process.

I am here to tell you it’s not. It’s messy and lacks order much of the time. You can be bargaining and angry at the same time.

For example, my grandmother died over 20 years ago, and I still get sad every time I think about her being gone. She was an amazing and wonderful person and she died before I could really appreciate her. Papa Joe died recently and I am still heavy in denial that he is gone, while also being angry at the cancer took this powerhouse of a man. Larger than life, irascible and formidable, and now he’s just gone. It’s so frustrating and unfair and I struggle to find meaning in it all.

Apparently the Kubler-Ross theory has been updated to include the step of “meaning” – Check it out.

https://grief.com/the-five-stages-of-grief/

So to turn to you for a moment, dear reader.

When you hear from a friend that someone close to them dies, what do we say?

“I am so sorry for your loss”

“You have my deepest condolences”

“He/She/They were wonderful and I am sure you will miss them”

Those all have their place for sure, and this weekend a friend, in his loss introduced this idea. How about instead of simply consoling others, we take action in our own life?

He posted on social media this weekend about his Dad dying and he posted a lovely tribute and a call to action which I loved.

I took that advice to heart and thought, “My readers need to see that, and maybe just one of them will reach out and call someone. For those wondering, I called my aunt, which I have been “meaning to do for a month or so” but, you know, life.

The temptation here will be to text, and that’s better than what you were going to do, which was nothing, and I think a phone call is stronger.

Pick up the phone, say, “I miss you” and then see where it goes.

After all, you can only take action, you can’t control the reaction of others.

Who is the person you think of when you read that? Go call them. Don’t worry about it being awkward or being a long time since you talked, you can simply say, “I was thinking about you, and I miss you” and then listen.

My hope is that you won’t stop at one person, but that you actually call 3 or 4 or even more.

“Don’t let this be something to be sad about, have it be a catalyst for a meaningful connection in your life”

– Matt Stephans

Who Will You Call?

Sloooooooooow Down

Dear Readers,

My mother of choice has been visiting and it’s been great. It’s also been hard because as much as we love each other, we don’t always see eye to eye.

For instance, she finds television “an annoyance” and I love it. I pushed and prodded and asked her to watch something with me, and she agreed, because she loves me and even pointed out that she knew it was important to me, and I know it was not something she really enjoyed. This is where I point out that I was being a brat. Yep, I own that, sometimes I am a brat.

She would be the first to admit that she can also be cranky, so there are opportunities on both sides for sure, and keeping my word to you, my readers, means being authentic and sharing real stories in hopes it helps you feel like you are not the only one going through real life.

Over the past two weeks, I have been given the opportunity to move through life a bit slower than normal.

I often talk to my daughter about this. We call it “Rabbit Speed” or “Turtle Speed” and I use it to show her the different speeds she can go, or more precisely, that I want her to go. Being diligent to point out that neither is better than the other, they are both valid and valuable in their own way.

As is so often the case, in teaching, you learn.

For instance, I learned this weekend, I really hate “Turtle Speed”

It’s exactly like it sounds, plodding and methodical, and careful. It applies to my current goal of a marathon. Like so many things, it starts with Being intentional (going to gym twice a week, and stepping up my workout game by consulting with a trainer to find ways to work smarter not harder and avoid injury while marathon training. In writing my book, it’s happening one line at a time. (Holy Moly, did I just say I was writing a book?)

Yes! Yes, I did.

But I digress, getting back to the speed thing. I definitely hate that the things I want to accomplish take time, mainly because I am NOT naturally a patient person. Parenting has really helped me get better at it, (Thanks Viv!) and I still struggle.

So to say I hate “turtle speed” must mean, I hate slow and love “fast”, right?

Not really- I definitely love “turtle speed” when spending time with family or reading a good book

but wish for “Rabbit Speed” when it comes to accomplishing goals and definitely I could stand to employ a little more “Turtle” in my day to day routine.

Spending time with my Mom helped me see how much value there is in slowing down and taking that extra few minutes in the morning for your tea or take an extra minute to smell the rain or enjoy the sunset or maybe spend an extra minute coming up with a creative way to deliver your daughter’s morning vitamin?

So what’s the point? Easy. Slooooooooooooooooow Down.

Slooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow Down

Really, slow down and enjoy your life because here’s the thing, it’s the only one we get.

Think About It.