Live Deliberately

Living each day with deep intention.


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Who am I, if not this?

For those of you who have found yourselves changing careers or taking a new path in life – such as myself – you might be feeling a bit off. You may be feeling like several layers of your identity have been stripped away. This is completely normal, and in some way, it is true. You must let go of that which no longer serves you and forge ahead. You are stripping away the layers that no longer align with who you are, and while it might be sad to say goodbye to that which is familiar, it’s an important and necessary step forward.

Whether you are starting a new job, taking on the stay-at-home-parent role, or retiring, this change can be unfamiliar and, frankly, a little scary. I encourage you to embrace this new change of course and enjoy the ride. In some ways, it feels like an identity-crisis and you find yourself asking, “Who am I, if not this?” You are exactly who you are. Your values have not shifted, but you might be attempting to better align your values with your life purpose. I applaud you. It takes courage to make a bold change. Stay the course.

Even if you’ve found your way, and you’ve already forged ahead (Go you!) but you find yourself hitting a bump in the road or experiencing a lull, remember what John c. Maxwell says about the power of pause, “Understand what this experience is trying to teach you and change course if necessary.” What is this moment teaching you?

If you’re on a path, like me, and you’ve left stability and the mundane for uncertainty and joy, but suddenly-worrisome moments hit you like a brick from ten-stories high, remember that you are in control here. You are creating change, and while it is scary, it is empowering. Recall the motivator behind this transformation… was it to pursue passion or make time for family or self? Maybe it’s as simple as you’ve put in your time and now you’re done and ready to move on. Whatever it is, you’re in the driver’s seat and you’re in control of your destiny, your thoughts, your outcome, and your emotions about all of it.

Knowing this, how will you now proceed?

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

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Women’s History Month

I decided to kick off Women’s History Month by starting a dialogue with my closest female friends, family members, and colleagues. I wanted to share with both of my girls the importance of Women’s History Month, the contributions of women in society, and to dissuade them of any notion that may arise as they get older and become more integrated in society as young ladies. You see, these two girls are my world. They’re only 9.5 and 8 years old… they still have so far to go and before their minds are shaped by the thoughts and opinions of others, I wanted to get in ahead of it and provide them some real context. #realtalk

Yesterday morning, I began messaging over 40 women, ages ranging from 23 to 76, to ask them various questions on women’s rights, women’s history and movements across the nation. I asked them what it meant, in their opinion, to be a woman. I asked what qualities a woman needed to have in order to make further progress in women’s rights. I asked them what advice they would give to my two little girls, and all the other beautiful young ladies – most of whom aren’t being educated on the women’s rights fought for by all the strong and courageous women before us and among us. I thought it was important for the girls to hear about this, not just from my perspective, but the perspectives of the strong females who they also know and love… their grandmothers, aunts, friends’ mothers, etc.

Let me first say that I was moved by all of the women who responded. My questions were met with enthusiasm, and several turned into dialogues. I was impressed by the time that was taken to respond and the knowledge and power that these women held. If I needed a dose of inspiration yesterday, there would have been no shortage… So, thank you to all of you lovely ladies who took the time to respond to me. I am so excited to share your words below. ❤ I am so proud to know you.

I was so excited to introduce this topic at the dinner table… to kick off Women’s History Month with my two beautiful littles and teach them about what it means to be a woman, the history of what women have and still overcome, and how to live in a society that seems to be regressing… it was a privilege. While I shared this two-page spread of information, I am proud to say that Adam sat next to me, engaging in the discussion with the girls, chiming in on important dates and supporting me in this discussion. I was impressed that they listened, engaged, asked questions, and even echoed their own knowledge of women in history and what they believe it means to be a woman. I heard my 9.5 year old use words like strong and proud. I could see her being inspired and empowered. I wondered if my 8 year old was paying attention at times, but when I revisited the discussion while tucking her into bed, I asked her what she learned… and to my surprise, she recalled some important and profound bits of information. It’s a start, I thought. I can’t wait to hear how their perspectives and input changes year over year.

I didn’t share with the girls my own countless experiences of being disrespected as women, passed up on job offers and projects, paid less than my male counterpart, silenced and talked over, discriminated while pregnant (and then some), stalked, cat-called, objectified, feelings of fear and vulnerability in certain situations merely for being a women, and all the in-between… but I do plan to share this with them when appropriate in the years to come because I think it’s important to draw off the stories and experiences of others, being called to expect higher standard than those who came before us, and stand in the privilege of being a woman.

With that, I will leave you with this quote, “Empowering women empower women.”… and young ladies…

On behalf of all my lovely ladies for sharing their thoughts and stories, I hope you enjoy their inspiring words (below) as much as I did!

You favorite highlights & monumental moments in history:

  • Women’s Right to Vote
  • Rosa Parks, 1950s civil rights activist (not just as a black woman, but a woman) who fought to dissuade the notion that women were to “be seen, not heard.”
  • Fair Wages – in the US, women are still paid less than men for the same job. Women’s rights activists are working, to this day, to change that.
  • Equality for all individuals, to include equal rights for women. The right to work and the right to get an education

Attributes required to take steps forward in women’s rights:

  • Strength
  • Courage
  • Inspiring
  • Natural nurturers
  • Motivator
  • Resilient
  • Vulnerability
  • Hard-working
  • Perseverance
  • Visionary
  • Vocal
  • Admirable
  • Empower
  • Leader

Advice from other strong women:

  • A woman should always stand up for her rights, and never allow a man to define her worth.
  • Women have to remain strong and active in their beliefs, and not be afraid to be different.
  • You have to work harder than men, but it will make you a stronger person.
  • Every woman should learn and understand the true meaning of “women’s suffrage.”
  • Don’t listen to the naysayers… keep moving forward.
  • Women have the right to work, get an education, and receive equal pay as men for the same job.
  • As a women, you deserve to be respected and regarded as equals to your male counterpart.
  • Never let your voice be silenced because you are a woman. Women are not meek, or inferior to men.
  • Throughout history, women have learned over and again that we will always encounter barriers to reaching our goals, more barriers than most men. Women have learned over and again that we will often be judged and doubted in the face of our goals. Throughout this history, women have persevered. We have conquered those barriers, overcome the judgements and doubtful friends and strangers, and we have become the women we once looked up to because of all the wonderful achievements of the women before us. We are teachers, presidential candidates, artists, activists, scientists, mothers, engineers, astronauts, environmentalists, flight attendants, pilots, economic developers, and so much more. So, whenever you feel doubt or judgement, and whenever you’re faced with a barrier, remember one thing: You are standing on the strength of all of the women before you and together we can do anything!
  • Women have had to fight harder to be heard – not just in countries where equality is just a pipe dream, but here too. We have an obligation, as women, to make our voices heard for those who do not have a voice.  During Women’s History Month- this is what we celebrate! Those that inspire, those that empower, those that educate, and those that sacrifice. Be like Ruth Bader Ginsburg – Supreme Court Justice – when something is wrong DISSENT – don’t be afraid to disagree – be strong in your convictions. Be like Malala Yousafzai- Pakistani activist and Nobel Prize winner – advocate for those around you who are not as strong.  Stand up for you, stand up for them. Be like Amelia Earhart – First female to fly solo across the Atlantic- forge new trails, do the things that you aspire to even if – especially if -people tell you that you can’t. Be like Rosa Parks – Civil Rights Activist – don’t let where you start or the things that happen to you determine where you will go or the impact you will make. Be like Wonder Woman – Fight like a girl and remember that you are stronger than you know, and braver than you believe. The most amazing women in the world think entrepreneurially- they know that they have the power to create their future, and make the future brighter for those around them.

What does “being a woman” mean?

  • Being willing to work very hard to improve the lives of not just ourselves, but everyone around us.
  • Being strong, kind, capable of making mistakes and rising above them, and having the ability to multi-task.
  • Being able to generate new life.
  • Being able to express feelings of joy, sorrow, happiness and sadness, and not be embarrassed to be vulnerable and talk about it.
  • A woman is a hard-worker who never gives up on her dreams and knows that she is capable of achieving her goals.

<3<3<3<3<3<3<3


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The Leap

This time last year, I was doing one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. I left a stable government job in a management position providing me a high salary, paid time off, and health insurance to realize a life-long dream of starting a consulting firm. It was one of the most free-ing but frightening things I’ve ever experienced. I felt a rainbow of emotions over the weeks leading up to handing in my resignation and the weeks following my actual departure… feelings of uncertainty and joy, worry and excitement, relief and possibility.

In the beginning, it took an unspeakable amount of courage and vulnerability on my part and the unwavering support on behalf of my loved-ones to keep me from getting “cold feet.”  It would take faith in myself, sacrifice, a few learning curves, mentorship from a brilliant-minded colleague, friends and family talking me down from my own fears, some late nights in the office, and some moments of sheer pride and joy.

Not everyone could understand my decision, and I think that’s quite normal, but we all have moments when you just know what you need to do, like a gut-instinct that you’re cut out for something greater or different. That moment for me was an almost constant nagging feeling during the last six months of 2016. I found myself in situations where the longing to make the leap tugged harder on my heart. I was presented with scenarios that filled me up with a sense of fulfillment at the mere thought. I was put in unfortunate positions that made me question my current role, my actual impact to the community that I served and the lack of ability to get anything done due to the proverbial government “red tape.”

It has been my experience that such a huge life-transition comes with a lot of highs and lows, and requires certain life skills, such as the ability to allow time for introspection, exercizing emotional intelligence, and creating professional boundaries. I suffered some blow-back from delivering the news of leaving for another opportunity, which made it all the more difficult because I am the type of person who takes on the responsibility of another person’s feelings. Not everyone was happy for me and, in fact, some made my last few weeks quite unbearable. There were moments when I didn’t feel safe in sharing my plans going forward. Unfortunately, delivering the news would lead to my final weeks being some of the most stressful and heart-wrenching moments in my career. I felt an obligation to my staff, my clients and their projects… and in some way, I felt a sense of guilt as though I was giving up on everything I worked hard for. I later learned that my leaving felt like a betrayal, which was not my intention. It took time to come to the realization that it was not my responsibility to carry their burden, because staying meant a betrayal to myself and my own dreams.

The month of January 2018 marks one year since I decided to finally make the leap, eventually handing in my resignation, and transitioning from public-sector (everything I’ve know in the last 15 years of my working life) to private-sector. I can’t say it has all been unicorns and rainbows but it has been fulfilling, exciting, freeing, and much more relaxing that I thought it would be. I’m only one year in, and while I spent my first year building up my business, identifying who I am as a brand and what I can offer my clients, these next few years will be focused on creating more opportunity to generate more joy, income, and quality of life while my girls are still young.

Is there something that you’ve been wanting to do, but you haven’t had the courage to take the leap? I want to hear from you in the comment section below!

xo


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Are you in the arena, or the stands?

When we decide to make some major quality of life changes, there will always be those individuals that don’t understand our motives, and even worse – criticize what they don’t understand. Here’s the thing: unless these critics are down in the arena with us, they can’t possible comprehend or appreciate the what and why of our strategy. Criticism holds no weight from the stands.

I’ve recently decided to make some hefty quality of life changes, starting with my place of employment. When you reach a point of little-to-no fulfillment, and can’t seem to find the joy in what you do, or begin to see people or places as toxic environments – then it’s time to think about making a change.

That’s where I found myself. I knew something had to change, yet I stuck around for about six months longer than I should have. I felt the desire to break free from the toxic and unfulfilling work environment, and to find a more meaningful direction. I didn’t need to change my career path, I just needed to shifted my focus… I needed to narrow-in on exactly what drew me to the profession in the first place. The people. The community. The relationship between the two.

So, I took the dive. Thanks to all of those who were in the arena with me. They got it. They understood my passion, and my drive. They had an appreciation for what I wanted to accomplish, and they stood behind me 110%. The support and encouragement that I received from those in the arena with me – setting out to achieve the same fulfillment and happiness that I sought – held more weight than those of the critics in the stands, who just couldn’t see my vision.

In addition to a more rewarding career, I wanted more quality time with my daughter, flexibility in my schedule, and time to focus on my health, which was taking a very sharp decline and fast. I’m only one month in and there are still some adjustments to be made, and still some fine-tuning to be done – but overall, I find myself in a more consistent and jovial mood. I’ve been able to focus on what’s important in life, and make my career align with my values. Even better, I have more control over my health and stress-levels.

So, stay in that arena, find your teammates, fuel one another and go for the goal. Pay no mind to the critics in the stands for they’re not on the field with you; they have no stake in the game.

(Helpful reminder: Judgement is just a mirror through which people see their own insecurities reflected back at them. When you find someone judging you, it might help to remember that they’re may be feeling insecure about the qualities they may lack, such as the courage to pursue the unknown.)


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Are you an over-sharer?

Hey, over-sharer! Yes, I’m talking to you. You’re an over-sharer, and so am I. Over-sharing is a learned behavior that’s snow-balled over time, with the increased use of social media platforms and the ever-increasing need to impress.

Let’s talk about sharing privileged and personal information, what it means, and how to reel it in. Let’s first define what over-sharing is. To over-share is to reveal an inappropriate amount of detail about one’s personal life. Key word here is personal

We all have someone in our lives – or it may be ourselves – that shares a little too much information. You’re walking down the street and you run into Sally. You ask her how she is doing and she unravels a lengthy, grueling story about her entire 2016 so far. And maybe you care to hear it because Sally is a dear friend, but you’re caught off guard with the verbal vomit that comes spewing out – and you were totally unprepared to be there for her emotionally or physically (timing is important). Maybe Sally’s just an acquaintance and you were not expecting for her to open up so freely.

Listen up, the story of our lives is privileged information to be shared with only those who are deserving. Sharing your story (whether exciting or scary news) with the wrong person can lead to private information getting into the wrong ears, or misinformation about you.. ring, ring… hello, remember the game of telephone?! Over-sharing is not only happening in our personal encounters with others, it’s also taking place on social media platforms every day – some use it as a means for managing others’ impressions of us. Do we really need to know every time you check into the gym? 

We must discern who we deeply open up to and what information to share. Next time you hear yourself begin to chatter about all the details of your life to an acquaintance, reel it back in and consider who’s standing in front of you. This is your chance to exercise a little self-regulation.

Even more, if your sharing information about someone else, we must honor that person and show respect for their privacy. Exercising restraint with someone else’s personal information can save friendships and keep you from looking like Ms. Gossip Queen (or Mr. Gossip Queen – I know some men who like a good gossip more than any woman I’ve ever met!) Over-sharing someone else’s personal information, or straight-up gossiping, will cause a person to refrain from befriending you.

So, what does it mean when someone over-shares? Generally, we can ascertain that over-sharers need to be heard. They long for connection, for sympathy, a moment to vent and let go of all that they’ve been holding onto (emotional stress). Over-sharers have a very admirable quality…  they’re trusting, although at times too trusting with the wrong people. Over-sharers are courageous in that they’re unafraid to be vulnerable and to truly be seen.

And while we all overshare a time or two (guilty!), it’s important to remember that we are not defined or limited by our stories and our experiences. These experiences are opportunities for growth!

Information about you is a gift, and to truly know you is a privilegeBy all means, forge connection with others, but do so with reverence.

xo


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Buy Stock in Yourself

In my previous blog Just Say No, I briefly discuss the need for saying “no” to people and events when you are near burn-out. Practicing this habit is crucial for your sanity, but also controversial. In a world where everyone thinks that the universe literally revolves around them, it’s increasingly difficult for people to understand that you just cannot, physically and emotionally, commit yourself to everyone and everything, all the time. What’s worse, the majority has learned to manipulate and guilt you into believing that you should feel badly about putting yourself and your needs above others and their needs. Only you know what’s best for yourself. Follow your gut… if you are about to lose your proverbial shit, just say no… or better yet, set a foundation that prevents any unreasonable expectations of you.

Start by identify tolerations. What are you putting up with? Is there someone or something you are dealing with, tip-toeing around, or try to appease? Stop. Relieve yourself from the burden of having to please everyone, all of the time. You get to decide what you are willing to tolerate. Make good choices from the beginning.

Once you have done that, set standards for who or what you allow mild tolerations. Be courageous in your pursuit to set a standard for yourself, your life, and how you are treated by yourself and others. And yes, I said yourselfDon’t forget to set standards for how you treat yourself. Don’t beat yourself up or have unkind thoughts or feelings. 

Be brave and allow yourself to be real with others. Speak your truth and set boundaries. Never make excuses for why you cannot accommodate someone or be somewhere. Be open and communicate your needs. You are equally important. Set boundaries to protect the foundation you are about to set for yourself and your life. If it doesn’t feel right, if it’s not in line with what you believe, or if you are simply too exhausted to commit, just say no. Remember, this is your life. No one else can live it for you. Choose to live it how you wish – and don’t feel guilty for setting boundaries!

When you’ve reached the point of saying no to someone or an event due to exhaustion or burn out, it’s clearly time to address personal needs. What actions can you take to recharge? More sleep? Quiet time? Time with someone who lifts you up? Time for play? A vacation? Do it. All of it. If your personal needs are not met, the toxicity will leech into every aspect of your life, both personally and professionally.

And finally, once you’ve had time to care for self, take action toward personal growth. What did you learn? What worked for you? Did you catch the burnout before it became toxic in other areas of your life? If not, how can you recognize it sooner?

You are important. It’s not selfish to make time for self-care.

Lots of love.


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Courage is NOT the absence of fear…

“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

I would like to honor my niece by celebrating and acknowledging her courageousness in battling cancer. In doing so, I am dedicating today’s blog to her by address what it means to be courageous.

Let’s talk about this greatly, underused trait, COURAGE. (Yes, I put that word in caps and I made it bold.) To have courage, one must be bold. Courage calls on our integrity to defeat fear… to stare intimidation in the face and say, “nuh-uh, you’re not getting the best of me.”

Courage by its definition is the ability and willingness to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation.

Every single one of us has fears. Fears come in all forms and in various degrees. I fear things like failure and roller coasters. Some fear love… or death. But let’s address something more tangible…like every day fears.

An every day fear is a fear of asking for a raise, telling someone you no longer love them, or quitting your stable job to chase your dream job. Or, in the instance of my niece, an everyday fear may be waking up and knowing you have to go sit through chemo. A fear can be a constant reality and live in you for days, weeks, months at a time.

Fear is being uncomfortable with the unknown… fearing the uncertain. But imagine what would happen if we were to get comfortable with uncertainty and understand that to be bold and press on builds character… that facing fear, intimidation, and uncertainty builds our strength and breaks down the barriers to courage. How might life be like for you if you had the courage to go after your dreams, to say how you feel, or to take that next step?

How would it feel to step up, knock fear on its toosh, and blaze a trail of courage…. ? For me, I would feel bold and brave. Accomplished even. And who knows, maybe I’ll get the end result I was seeking… which always, ultimately, means happiness.

Fears are a constant. Once you address one, another will rear its head. At some point, we must learn how to deal with it. So, I’ll leave you with this…

“Courage is being scared to death… and saddling up anyway.” – John Wayne

Saddle up.

P.S. Congratulations, Zoe!

Zoe