How to Step into Courage

Look.  I get it.  It takes lots of vulnerability to be courageous sometimes.  Trust me, after writing my previous post here, I almost erased it.  So how does one step into courage?  First, let’s take a look at the word itself.  What is courage?

  1. :  mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty

That was how Merriam-Webster defined it.  But to be honest, I define it in thousand little ways and I am willing to bet that you have done any number of things that could be considered courageous.

I want to show you an exercise that I might do with my Club, so bear with me a moment.  Take a good look at this quote:  It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.  ~Erma Bombeck

Have you ever shown your dreams to other people?  That moment when you are on the brink of telling them the greatest joy you ever had and the plans you want to make and you rush forward and.  Stop.  <<< well that’s fear and we’re actually going to talk about that a little later in my Club and on my FB Page, but courage is when you take that deep breath after the panic and you go ahead.  So if you’d like, take a moment to journal around this thought.  You can pin this to come back to this if you want, but I really want you to think about this quote.

Our culture is ripe with tales of courage.  Do you remember being a kid and watching Indiana Jones?  Oh how I loved that movie.  Especially this part, and I didn’t make it so ignore the spelling:

Well, it just so happens that I couldn’t stand snakes after I accidentally stepped on one in an outdoor hotel lobby.  And it wrapped around my ankle and bit me and I had to go to the hospital for hours with no food in my stomach in case it was venomous.  Anyway, so later in life I volunteered at the Virginia Living Museum and I learned how to reach my hand into a pillow case, no lie, and grab a snake that was not venomous.  I also learned that their scales are like the same thing as finger nails…it still doesn’t mean I like them, but I tried.

Anyway, I bet you have done something in your life that took great courage.  I felt fear yet I was choosing to try to get over that fear as best I could.  That is a sign of stepping into courage.  I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.  ~Nelson Mandela

Then there was this time that a lady was bullying my friend and everyone at work was so afraid of this lady.  She would scream we were racists if we stood up to her, so she would hide, go on longer lunch breaks, not come back to the classroom for hours, seriously, and then when she did show up, she wouldn’t help my friend (yes, later she was put on probation).  Anyway, she stood in the hall screaming at my friend in front of kids and other teachers one day so I stood up to her and said whatever it was I said to get her to calm down, and then later I reported the incident when no one else would.  They didn’t want to be the ones to report this lady, no lie, because they knew she’d come after them.  A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer. — Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882)

After that incident, I was shaking, but I got it done.  Have you ever stood up to a bully before?   It’s not easy, but it must be done.  I will always practice what I would preach to my children.  How could I not?

At some point in your life, there are any number of actions that have taken courage my friends.  I just know it.  You have probably felt afraid, but done something anyway like riding a roller coaster.  You have listened to your heart or even your gut and stepped out on that stage to speak.  And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”~ Steve Jobs

I said yes to jumping on an airplane to England last year, and going by myself to speak at a conference and I am so glad I did.  I hadn’t actually met anyone in person and my parents thought any number of things could have gone wrong…it was a list daily.  But without the courage to travel alone, walk around London alone, and go see Stonehenge alone, I would have always regretted it.  What if…what ifs are the things we don’t want to be thinking about.

Want to learn more?  30 days of journal prompts around courage in the month of August plus tutorials, master classes online, meditations, bonus yoga poses and more.  >>>  Head|Heart|Health Club <<<

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5 Things People Who Value Their Self-Worth Do Differently

As you drift off to sleep each night, you begin to dread the next day and it hasn’t even happened yet.  You wonder if anyone would even notice if you didn’t show up for work.  You are tired of going through the motions when it seems other people are out there living.  What are they doing differently??  You ask yourself this question for the hundredth time.  How are they making it look so damn easy when each and every day is a struggle just to get out of bed…

5 Things People Who Value Their Self-Worth Are Doing:

  1. Secure people are making time for their self-care routines.  That doesn’t mean they are ignoring everyone else, it just means they know how important it is to put the oxygen mask on first in order to help others.  This is a huge block for most people.  You feel selfish.  The opposite of that is actually caring.  you are caring for yourself like no one else will, and you better believe you have every right to feel good.
  2. Confident people set firm boundariesNo means no.  They don’t say things like “I’m sorry, but…” and then explain why because that might leave a hole for some wiggle room.  I said no to someone recently based on my own self-care and then got a but what if.  Umm.  No.  I said no, I mean no.  Don’t let the other person make you feel guilty for taking care of yourself.  If this were reversed surely they wouldn’t feel guilty, right?  So don’t feel the need to explain yourself.  Again, only you can set your limits.
  3. Courageous people accept responsibility for their own lives.  In my talk today, I used a quote from Brené Brown “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”  When we stand in our own glorious mess, we don’t project or deflect the blame.  We step up and say here I am.  This is my life and I am entirely responsible for HOW I am being.  How I am showing up, and what I am throwing down.  Can I get an amen or a right on sister here?  This is such a vital lesson that many don’t learn their whole lives.
  4. Brave people let go of past guilt.  This is so hard.  Everything up until this moment has been a choice and just like I said today in my talk, if you could have done better back then, you really would have.  You were doing the best that you could, so let that shit go.  Yup (pooh doesn’t have the same effect).  Guilt is just another block on the path to accepting yourself so you can use it as a paver or stepping stone.  See it, acknowledge it, but lay it on down.
  5. Positive people don’t stay around negative influences.  They know when it’s time to move on.  This can be at work, avoiding those gossiping ladies, or even in a relationship that just isn’t working out for you anymore.  Whatever it is, know when it’s time to move on down the road.  Sing the song “Moving On Up” in your head as you get away from these situations.  Seriously.  The Jefferson’s approve.  Higher vibrations are much better for you anyway.

If you are interested in the whole FB Live chat, see this link here.  Next month, in the Head|Heart|Health Club we are going to be removing the blocks to worthiness, letting go of guilt, and working on replacing these old patterns of thought with new ones.  I am super excited about the content and can’t wait to have you join us!!  We will be diving really deep into the cycle of negative thoughts, setting up new boundaries and testing for weaknesses, and creating affirmations on self-love which will lead us to a more confident outlook on life.

Head|Heart|Health Club members area

On Speaking Your Truth (and how to release the outcome)

Dear friends,

How difficult is it for you to stand up for yourself in a way that honors your spirit and soul and yet allows you to release the outcome?  If you are like me, this might be difficult.  As I write from the heart about my experiences, I have had many days where after I hit the publish on a post I want to take it back.  One such day was the day I poured out my heart and soul on my empath post.

I was getting messages, friend requests and more.  The Facebook fan page always welcomes my fans and I appreciate your many messages of support.  What I did not expect was outright plagiarism of my work.  This did not come my fans, but other sites claiming to work from the heart.  Working from the heart, using my experiences.  Interesting.

So as I work through speaking the truth without fear of my voice being stolen, I would like to offer you some advice. <<< By the way, I feel like Ariel and the Sea-witch Ursula.  Sites trying to lure people in…using other voices.

On Speaking Your Truth:

  1. Live by being authentic.  If I would advise you on something, I better be ready to do the same thing.  I want to give you genuine advice that I would want given to me.  That is pretty simple to follow.
  2. Live by example.  If you tell the world that you wouldn’t do something, but you do it anyway, well, there really is no truth in that.  My for example is that now the site of my stolen work has a disclaimer saying I can nicely ask them to take it down.  I tried that, but then they just re-wrote it slightly different, still using my experiences.  Interesting.
  3. Have the courage to speak up…without fear that you are doing something wrong.  You know the old saying, two wrongs don’t make a right?  Well, if you speak up about an issue that is important to you, and you do so in a manner that is true to you, as nice as you think you can be in this situation just stating plain facts, you are doing what you felt called to do.  You can still walk away with your head high because you tried to do the right thing.
  4. Only take care of you.  This one is hard because you really want the other person to do the right thing and understand how you feel in this situation, but the bottom line is, they might not care.  You can’t micromanage the feelings that the other person should have.  This is very difficult if you are someone who feels very deeply.  The other person might be emotionally detached from the situation and therefore, just not be invested in the outcome like you are.
  5. Let. It. Go.  How many of you get to this point, but just stay in the driver seat like Thelma and Louise going over the cliff?  Yup.  You are not sure what to do.  I get it because I am just like you.  Letting go requires that we have a greater faith in the universe and God (or whatever you believe), and that we are being supported as we go through the hard things in life.  Trust me.  You guys have read my about me.  I honestly believe that I am being supported as I navigate life and that each step is to show me something I might not have considered before.

As I stared at my work being taken, a feeling of sadness overtook me.  What am I supposed to learn from this?  How can I protect myself and my readers? 

If you read through a blog article and you get to the bottom of the article, look to see if the source is there, really hidden away.  If it was taken from another blog without that person knowing, go directly to the blog and say something like “Hey, I just read this on this site called Steal All Your Stuff (fake name).”  Here is where I found it, and copy the link.  These sites have no photos usually of the owner and appear to have fake names as well.  Why are they hiding?

Usually, if permission was given, the source will be credited right at the beginning saying guest post from X.  Or used with author’s permission from X source.  It will be boldly at the top…not hidden away, with another author’s name at the top like they wrote it.  Also, what I have found is that sites who work correctly also give a nice author’s bio at the bottom.  This benefits both sites.  It shows that the author has in fact, given his/her blessing.

It’s sometimes difficult to be an advocate for yourself, but hopefully if you advocate for others, it will get easier to tell your truth as well. 

breathe

Shame on you…

So I got told once in a private message.  SHAME on me.  Shame on me.  The problem was, I didn’t feel shame.  She did.  She was projecting her shame or what action she felt should be shameful on me.  Hmm.  Let me break it down for you.  Remember when I talked about vulnerability last year?  If not, see this post on Daring greatly.  There are people I used to know who were very very afraid of the truth.  They were afraid of being vulnerable.  They were afraid of letting others see who they truly were.  And they have perfected the art of being “normal” so much so that I could not have a conversation with them.  All but one.  One of them, I thought, could be honest with herself.  Because in the end, that’s what it was about.  Honesty on a level so deep that the only other being who knows this is God.  Because really, do you think you are fooling Him?  You aren’t.

I absolutely loved it when Brené Brown said she had the worst “vulnerability hangover” ever after telling a crowd of 500 people at the TED convention that she had a breakdown.  She said she didn’t come out of her house for 3 days.  When she gets up and talks about Listening to shame, she says this TED is like the failure conference. No, it is. You know why this place is amazing? Because very few people here are afraid to fail. And no one who gets on the stage, so far that I’ve seen, has not failed. I’ve failed miserably, many times. I don’t think the world understands that because of shame.”  Amen sister.  Amen.

“Shame is I am bad.  Guilt is I did something bad.  How many of you if you did something that was hurtful to me would be willing to say I’m sorry I made a mistake?  Guilt.  Shame.  I’m sorry I AM a mistake.  There’s a huge difference between shame and guilt.”   She goes on to speak about how women and men feel shame differently.  “If we’re going to find our way back to each other we have to understand and know empathy.  Empathy’s the antidote to shame.  If you put shame in a Petri dish, it needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence, and judgment.  The two most powerful words when we’re in struggle: me too.”  When she says that if we are going to find our way back to each other and that vulnerability is going to be that path, then I ask you, why put down the person who opens up to you?  Why judge?  Why condemn them for the telling you something that might have been hard to say?  Because you actually feel shame.  Not them.  You have more to hide than the person being vulnerable.

shame

 

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Motivational Monday…

There are lots of differences in life.  Different people.  Different views.  Different ways of living your life.  Ultimately it is YOUR life.  Some people forget that.  However, that does not mean people get to do whatever they want, when they want.  There are consequences and sooner or later, those things you say catch up to you.  I have told people before when I write this blog, I write not only from my experiences, but also from other points of view.  Sometimes I weave in 5 different scenarios and make it one post.  I think about current events or news.  I think about friends and family.  I think about people my husband knows.  I think about society as a whole.

I am in several different “groups” on a popular social media place.  Not everyone always gets along.  Even though I have never met some of these people, I know the ones I gravitate towards.  I watch their words, and see if their “actions” keep up with their words.  Who they are both publicly and privately must align.  For example, in public, they can’t be spouting off about integrity and honesty, and then in private have none of those values themselves.  One of the biggest struggles for me is to find someone who says they are Christian publicly, but damns other groups, ways of life, races, or attitudes.  If they say they are Christian, yet won’t speak to another church member in public because her views are different, what does that say about them?  Better yet, what about the polite conversation they make publicly, then privately berate the person.  Love how they become judge, jury and executioner in the name of their faith.

So I say to you, are you keeping yourself accountable to your values?  Are you practicing what you preach?  Nine times out of ten, the answer is no.  I do not have a problem with people who are always up front.  This is what I believe, this is what I have always believed, and this is how I live my life.  That doesn’t bother me even if my views are not the same.  They know how they feel and stay the course.  If you don’t want to hear how they feel, stop asking them questions publicly and expecting a different answer.  Period.  That’s me.  I got asked a question a while back and the person or persons involved expected me to tell them I changed my mind.  Doing so would change who I am.  I am not doing that for anyone.  I see things as they are not as others wish them to be.  I am holding myself accountable.  It’s your turn.

Accountable

The homeless…

You see them on the street.  You grab your child’s hand and whisper “Don’t make eye contact” and you hurry by.  They are on the corners with their signs and you say “I bet they make more money than I do.”  They come to your churches, and the smell, oh the smell, you can’t wait for them to leave.  I wonder how many people have ever sat down and talked to them.  I wonder how many people ask them how they got they way and what can they do to help.  I am lucky to know a few people who do that.

Over the last 15 years, I have taught mostly lower socioeconomic children.  Some years past, “T” was in my class.  He was special needs and perhaps got that way by his mother’s use of various drugs and/or alcohol.  He had a smile that could light up a room and I loved him, as I do all my children.  He was a handful to say the least and required constant, constant, attention.  He would always be somewhere he was not supposed to be, and would “bother” the other children.  The lady I worked with had a hard time with him as well, so she would have to take his hand when we went anywhere as a class down the hall.  I had to do what is called a child study on him.  We did lots and lots of paperwork and I worked with the school counselor and social workers as well as the psychologist.  One day, we found out T’s mother had been evicted from where she was living.  He had a sister that I knew of and I went to that teacher to find out what had happened.  She knew even less.

I went to my good friend next.  A man who had worked on a committee with me to try to help the teachers with behavior problems in class.  He worked closely with the families and he knew of my struggles with T’s situation.  We did everything in our power at that time to speed up the child study, but sadly, T was “not in our district” anymore and somehow was going to be removed from school.  To this day I am still not even sure how this happened.  Both administrators at the time were well aware of my work with this family.  I have never seen my normally mild-mannered, doesn’t use a curse word, heart of gold friend stand up to the administration like he did the day I begged them to help me keep T at school.  I told them if he wasn’t in my class, I was afraid of what was going to him.  I said his child study was coming up, please let him stay until then.  Somehow, it didn’t matter.  That was the year I lost faith in the system.  That was the year I cried and told them he had no other place to go, but they didn’t budge.  That was the year I went to people above them and started letting them know what was going on.

That was the year my friend said I was right.  There were some things that might be worth losing your job over.  Miraculously, one of the administrators was moved to another school over the summer and no one even saw it coming.  Well, there might have been a few who saw it coming.  I told my friend I didn’t know how much longer I could keep doing this.  I was drained.  We started talking about other jobs for me, and I said I loved his job.  He gave me the eyeball and said that my strengths could also be my weaknesses.  I always got too close.  He’s right.  I do and I would probably lose my job over it or quit (true story).  I have been told that over and over again in my professional career.  I cared too much.  To this day I still don’t believe that is possible.

If you would like to be one of the few who care too much, here are some resources for you:

Homeless Shelter Directory  Currently 3,355 shelters in the U.S. on this site  The food bank listings are there as well.

Veterans Affairs Department  No one should be homeless that served our country.  Help your community.

The National Center on Family Homelessness  The National Center merged with American Institutes for Research and this site has comprehensive resources for families.

35 ways to help the Homeless  One tip that was truly helpful, was to develop a list of shelters that you can hand out to the homeless on a small card.  I also have bought extra gift cards to Starbucks, and have been known to hand those out.  I could tape a handy list of soup kitchens to the card as well.

Lastly, I would encourage you to get to know your local shelters and food banks.  We don’t know how they got there, but we can help them move on.

Truly Give

Be courageous…

Sigh.   Sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to.  Sometimes you have to talk to people and have conversations you don’t want to.  There is not a problem with this at all as I was reminded at work a few weeks ago, but the handout on “Courageous Conversations” did caution me about a few things.  First, you never speak in anger.  It will not get the results you want.  If you need to have the conversation, the handout did suggest you have it as soon as the issue arises so that it doesn’t get worse.  I agree.  It is best to get things out in the open.

Try to see things from the other person’s perspective.  There are some people who will not see your side, no matter what you say.  End of story.  Do you need to have a “Courageous Conversation” with them?  No.  It will only lead to frustration.  You might as well be talking to a brick wall as far as that person is concerned.  I tried having a conversation like that two years ago, and it did not go well.

Don’t apologize for how you feel.  You have a right to your feelings, but state the facts.  Some people can’t leave out the emotional drama and exaggerate the facts tremendously.  Usually, you can tell who these folks are.  When speaking with them, it is best to remember that even though they are telling you their side, it might be embellished more than necessary.

Someone recently told me that even though they were right in the middle of a conversation, they didn’t hear what was being said.  I know what it is like to be “mentally checked out”.  If I think this is going to happen to me, I always say this isn’t the best time to speak to me because I have a lot on my mind right now.  I want to be there for you, but can we please come back to this later?  True friends or colleagues should understand.

Lastly, end on a positive.  If you made a mistake or misjudged someone and the error is yours, be honest.  If you failed to do what was expected, be honest.

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”  ~Eleanor Roosevelt