Friday, November 30, 2012

Love Note - Friday 11/30/12

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Why No One Can Compete With You. Ever.


It’s happening. I’m starting to do that end of the year reflection thing. You’re doing it too, I just know it. How are you feeling about your journey through 2012?

Being hard on myself was so 2010 and 2011, so I happy to say that I’m not going to overanalyze what I accomplished and what I didn’t for 2012. However, it’s never a bad time to acknowledge an area where you’ve grown, and how that growth has enriched the quality of your life.  

As such, I just have to tell you what a GREAT year I had professionally. If you can’t tell, I’m proud of myself. I feel like this year, I stopped playing small at work, I put my big girl panties on, and I took on more responsibility and leadership than I ever have before. And low and behold, it was acknowledged and rewarded.

Ironically, I’ve never ever wanted to leave my job more than I do now. Maybe because I proved to myself that my true value proposition is not tied to a specific company or job. I’ve worked at the same company since I graduated from college so it’s no wonder that I associate any security or success that I’ve had with that company.

But I’ve learned that my true value comes from just doing what I know how to do. I’m not talking about the skills and accomplishments that go on my resume. I mean, anyone could do my job from a tactical standpoint. I could quit tomorrow and business would keep on keeping on -- they’d fill my position, and I’d just be someone that they used to know.  However, Maya Angelou said, ”People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”

And this, I believe, is my strength -- how I make people feel and the energy that I bring into a group. It's more impactful than my technical knowledge, my educational background or anything else that can be taught. So, when I doubt if I’ll be successful at another company or in other endeavors, I need only remind myself that all I had to do in order to have the most successful year of my career was to fully embrace who I am and what I bring to the table. The solution to doubt is always to be true to yourself.

Authenticity. It’s like our own built-in guarantee, but we don’t realize it. It guarantees that we are always on the right track as long as we are being honest with ourselves and with the world about who we are and who we are not. This psychologist guy named Carl Rogers once said, “What you are is good enough if you would only be it openly.”

This year, I really proved this to myself that who I am is enough. What about you? Were there any lessons that really stood out for you?

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Season for Giving

As the season of gratitude that we call Thanksgiving comes to a close, the season for giving—Christmas—comes in on its heels. Amidst thoughts of holiday d├ęcor, fine foods, snowy weather and presents under the tree, be reminded to give things that are intangible, like your time and your love. Why not:

Volunteer to serve food at a shelter?

Have your nieces and nephews over for a sleepover to give your sister or brother a break?

Invite that neighbor who is spending the holidays alone over for a meal?

Volunteer to shop or wrap presents for an elderly friend, neighbor or relative?

Make a donation to an annual or community drive like Toys for Tots, your local food bank or (this year in particular) the Red Cross?

What are some of the ways you give back during the holidays?

{*photo source}

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Why Fear and Goosebumps Aren't Really Bad Things

A few months ago, I wrote a post about fear and the role it often plays in why we do or don't do things. Here are some snippets from the comments:

"...In 2012 I would like to start school. I would like to stop telling myself I can't do certain things..."

"...would love to stop myself from giving into fear...really anxious to learn how to use this emotion to propel me forward rather than back. It's always been a natural reaction to run the other way...but 2011 has taught me that it's important to walk through the fear and use it as a positive force. On the other hand, it could just mean we are all on the right track when it creeps there's now an added sense of excitement when I think of a crazy idea that both scares me and gives me goosebumps!"

"...I've successfully lost 75 pounds, but gained 10 of it back, so now I want to finish what I started a two years ago. No reason why I shouldn't. I need to stop giving into fear of accomplishment."

These comments and my own intention to have a clearer understanding of the role of fear in my life led me to explore the subject further on WCD.  Here we are a few months later and I'm ready to make a lot of changes in my life.  Of course, fear pokes out its head and reminds me that it's still there. 

So, in honor and in spite of that attention whore that we call fear, I wanted to revisit this with you all today.

Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.
~Marie Curie

Once I became aware that fear was affecting my choices, I really didn't know what to do about it. I guess I had to just sit with that awareness for awhile. In some aspects of my life, I'm still sitting with it. What I have developed though, is a passion for breaking down my fears and negative patterns so that I can understand them. If something bothers me, I'm determined to figure out why and make peace with it so it can't control me. It doesn't always happen as quickly as I want, but it's so much better than it used to be.

Panic at the thought of doing a thing is a challenge to do it.
~Henry S. Haskins

One of the commenters above mentions a sense of excitement that comes from a crazy idea that scares her and also gives her goosebumps (the good kind!). That's the kind of scary that we shouldn't avoid. There's probably something you want to do that gives you goosebumps, but you're afraid to do it.  

For instance, I want to be a writer. But the idea of writing for a living completely freaks me out. I love to write, but what if I stop loving it when I start doing it for money? Sometimes we're not afraid of the thing itself, but we're afraid of the process of getting there. My suggestion would be to just start. Do something to bring you a step closer. My start has been blogging and guest posting. I'm just beginning to realize that this is my purpose and I'm taking it more seriously. What's next? The possibilities give me those good goosebumps, so I'm going to keep writing.  (Update:  A couple months after I wrote this I got my first paid freelancing gig!  Woohoo!)

There is a time to take counsel of your fears, and there is a time to never listen to any fear.
~George S. Patton

Since we all must deal with fear on some level, there comes a time when we must discern between the fear that can push us forward and the fear that can hold us back. The answers are already there inside of us if we only listen. It's called intuition. When there's something positive and challenging that you want to do with your life, that's when it's time to take fear by the hand and bring it along with you. Recognize the nervous energy for what it is and allow it to fuel you. Likewise, when your inner voice tells you that you're heading down the wrong path, believe it.  Trust yourself.

Anything I've ever done that ultimately was worthwhile... initially scared me to death. ~Betty Bender

To free yourself from that frustrating inertia that comes from fear, learn to recognize the difference between the excited goosebumps and the warning signs and consider letting fear be your friend. No? Frenemy maybe? No matter how you look at it, remember that with great risk comes great reward. 

If you have a testimony about a time that you overcame fear or a time that you used it to your advantage, please share in the comments.    We'd love to hear about it!


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Friday, November 16, 2012

Love Note - Friday 11/16/12

Let's make the choice to get happy right here, right now. It's totally up to us! Have a great weekend. xo
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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What Strong Women Do


“I don’t want to walk through life like I’m asleep. I want to feel everything. The joy. The pain. The wins and the losses. I want to fall and shock myself at how I’m able to keep getting up.” me

And while I’m falling down and wiping my tears and getting back up, I want to look good and feel like a warrior with my head held high. I’ll be the first one to tell you that appearances and material things don’t matter and it’s what’s inside that counts. And in the next breath I’ll tell you that no matter how you’re hurting or what’s going on, you need to get up off your hurt feelings and do your hair and put some lipstick on and keep it moving. Everyone’s been through it, and the world is going to keep spinning.

As a woman of character and spirit, how you handle ups and downs distinguishes you. With the right perspective, your struggles will empower you and bring out your beauty. Self-pity and bitterness will only slow you down. 

“You see, no one can take your power - only you can give it away. When you do, the resulting self-pity and desperate behavior basically repel the things you really want.” me

Feeling sorry for yourself will not make that man be faithful. Eating everything in sight will not make all of your debt magically go away. A Facebook rant calling out this person and that person for betraying you will not create the karma that you want. Waiting to be rescued will not give you the strength to carry on. At some point, you have to get sick of feeling bad and decide to feel good.

Where’s all this coming from? Someone needs to hear this. Someone needs to snap out of it and get back to the business of being fabulous. This is the life, ladies. You weren’t put here to roll over and give up. Always choose to view things in a spiritual and mindful way. Remember that you are a universe within yourself and you don’t need a person, a title or a dollar amount to make you whole. 

Take what you have, dust it off and make it sparkle. I’ll see you out there. xoxo
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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pretty Things: A Hint of Sparkle

 The above are a few of my favorite pretty things; I adore them for the hint (or splatter) of sparkle they bear.

As GG mentioned “in secret” while I was away, there’s quite a bit more to both she and I than we’ve allowed ourselves to show here previously, but in the spirit of evolving, we’re making an effort to let you in a little bit more.

Something you may or may not have learned about me by reading this blog (but that you probably did know if you happen to also read my other blog, Pish Posh Perfect) is that I am the ultimate girly girl. If it’s pink or ruffled or floral, I am SO in. I also have a bit of a penchant for sparkle, which as the holidays approach, becomes more and more acceptable within the confines of every day wear (this is not to imply that I don’t wear it outside the confines on any other day of the year!). We talk a lot on this blog about appreciating the little things, and letting them take you to a happy place when needed—sparkle is one of the things that does that for me.

It’s easy to go full-on New Year’s Eve or 70s disco glitter; you can make sparkly accessories your play with more neutral base items; and there are tons of cute pieces that bear more subtle bling. No matter which side of the style spectrum you lean toward, there’s a way to incorporate it into your wardrobe.

Are you a fan of pretty sparkly things? 

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Love Note - Friday 11/9/12

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What You Can Learn from Being Stuck Outside Your Comfort Zone

There is much to be learned from being stuck outside your comfort zone--both literally and figuratively. Last week, while traveling in Europe, I was literally stuck outside the comforts of home. Due to Super Storm Sandy, all flights into the East Coast were canceled while airports and cities dealt with the surprisingly devastating blow Sandy dealt--and my travel buddies and I were unable to leave Rome, Italy on the day we had planned. 

I know this doesn't immediately sound like such a bad situation. We were in Rome after all, right? Right. But we'd also already traveled to multiple cities, completed the itinerary we'd planned, and spent most of what we had allotted for travel funds. So we were more than ready to return home. That didn't happen for 3 more days (thankfully not the 6 extra days we thought we'd be away), and they were a difficult 3 days at best. We were on mental overload from all we'd taken in, emotionally stressed from working feverishly to secure new flights, and on a particular rainy day in Rome--totally bored. 

Please don't misunderstand--this was an absolutely amazing trip. But there was certainly something to be learned about adapting when your plans change in a way that is so utterly out of your control. 

Appreciate the simplest things possible. Immediately after returning home, I realized I'd missed even the tiniest pleasures about it--down to standing in my own kitchen and staring out the window while cooking at my own stove. Remember to be grateful for even the simplest day to day activities that can bring you a bit of joy. 

Know how to self-soothe and find peace no matter where you are. The ladies I traveled with were a great group. But I live alone, am used to lots of alone time and I value it immensely. It's easy to start to feel stifled when I can't get that. So I had to find ways to sneak away from the group--even if it was just for a few minutes--to breathe, write or read some of the daily positive emails to which I subscribe. Having new experiences was great, but I needed to also find ways to feel like myself. There are going to be times where you can't complete your normal routine. You have to know how to adjust and be centered anyway or you'll drive yourself crazy. 

Find a way to connect with your loved ones and yourself. I'm not sure if you have checked out international calling rates lately, but uh...they are OOC (out of control) and I'm not about that exorbitant phone bill life. So I relied on free wifi throughout Europe to communicate with my family and bf at home. Even at the times where I felt most stressed, a quick Face Time moment or a well-timed email was all it took to help me to feel like myself again. There is something about reconnecting with the people who know me best that helps me to reconnect to myself. Try and bring a bit of the familiar into unfamiliar circumstances when needed. 

Be patient. Trying to get on a new flight home was a hell of a waiting game. And the actual journey home was a long and arduous one. But as soon as my feet touched ground at the airport and I saw my son's face at the gate, all that drama was forgotten. Trials seem really tough to stick out while we're going through them, but more often than not we forget about all the hard stuff once that great thing we were waiting for comes to fruition. 

Learn to bite your tongue. As frustrated as everyone was, there was not one incident among the 6 of us on the trip where there was negative confrontation. We worked hard to be constructive in suggestions for how to handle our extended stay. And that really warms my heart. The women in my life continue to prove that the assumption that all black women are angry and combative is 100% false! When there are a lot of voices in a room, the need to feel heard can be overwhelming; but sometimes it is just important to keep your opinion to yourself as it is to speak up. Find a way to quietly contribute in other ways and make yourself a useful part of the solution as opposed to someone who spends all their energy complaining. 

In what ways have you been stuck outside your comfort zone, and what did you learn from the experience(s)? 

photo: source

p.s. I penned a travel diary over at Pish Posh Perfect about all the ridiculously wonderful parts of the trip. Click on over if you're interested. There are pics too! xo 
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Monday, November 5, 2012

Simplicity, Heart & Humility


Sometimes I feel like a broken record, but I am endlessly thankful for the collective of impressive women that I call my friends. They are always dropping gems of wisdom on me without even realizing how much they enhance my life. 

Today I was chatting with one of these spectacular women and we were talking about working in Corporate America and how fundamental it is to be professional and polished at all times. Egos and emotions can really be career limiting when they are not kept in check in the workplace.

She told me about an acronym that her uncle shared with her years ago when she was in college. S.H.H. (pronounced like you’re shushing someone) – Simplicity, Heart & Humility. As he explained to her, these are three attributes that will take you far in your career.

Of course, I started thinking about how these qualities will take you far in life in general. I love everything about it – from the pronunciation of the acronym to the intention behind each of the words.  So naturally, I had to write about it.

Whether you’re a naturally boisterous person or not, it’s so important to just shut up sometimes. Having the discretion to know when to be quiet is paramount to building successful relationships in business and in your personal life.  If you follow me on this, then the breakdown of the following three words just takes this notion even further.

Too often we think that being loud and sounding complex will make us appear more relevant, when in effect, it usually does the opposite. It just shows a transparent need for attention and validation.

When you’re really comfortable and confident in your own skin, you don’t need to enlarge everything. In the words of Hans Hoffman, “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”  

Know what really matters and emphasize those things clearly without a lot of bells and whistles.

When you are truly invested in a project or cause, it will show through your actions and the energy that you exude when you get involved. If your heart is in the right place, you shouldn’t have to point it out.

 Focus your energy into your project and don’t get caught up in the distractions of the ego like jealousy, envy and greed. We are only ever in competition with ourselves.

Inherent in this concept of heart is honesty, respect, passion and purpose. “Above all, be true to yourself, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it.”

I don’t know who to credit that quote to, but if it speaks to you like it speaks to me, you're reaching for your journal right now to write it down!

Lastly, but very importantly, be unassuming and patient in your demeanor. The fastest way to disillusion an audience is to give the impression that you think you are better than, or your time is more precious than or for goodness’ sake your sh!t stinks less than everyone else. Someone once said, “It is far more impressive when others discover your good qualities without your help.”

We’ve all been right and we’ve all been wrong at some point or another, right? I don’t know about you, but I prefer to work with people who are focused on solutions - not brownie points.

Simplicity, Heart & Humility.  This is going to be my new mantra, I think.  What have your friends done for you lately?    ;-)

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