Harnessing Your Power

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Whew, ladies, I feel I have neglected you!  It has been a little while since I’ve laid out some new pearls of wisdom before you (hehehe..heh…..hm…), but not to worry: I’m back!

In fact, I’m back in many ways these days.  Many things have begun for me recently, which I hope they have for you as well.  I’ve started trying things again.  It’s common for me to come up with an idea for something I want to do – a business I want to start, a class  I want to teach, a technique I want to learn – and then vet all the possible pitfalls before even attempting to try.  Now I try things and then just see where they go.  It’s a MUCH better way to function and has so many more rewards!

In addition, I’ve begun my Teen Life Coach training (YAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!!!).  This is the most exciting beginning of all!  I’ve always felt a special connection with teens and young adults, and a strong desire to work with them and walk them through an incredibly confusing, incredibly difficult, and incredibly AWESOME time of their life.  I’m now one step closer to that dream.

I’ve also started selling my artwork on consignment in a couple of stores in Denver (details TBA), and, as is the topic of this post, I’ve started boxing again.

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In fact, tonight was my first night back.  I tried to start last year a few months after my son was born, but I just wasn’t ready yet.  That’s okay, by the way girls, to not be ready yet.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that there are seasons for everything, and if the motivation and desire isn’t there, just give yourself some love and patience until it returns.  It took about 9 months this time.  9 months that would have been far more miserable if I had beaten myself up everyday over my negligence.  And anyways, in that time I discovered some other types of exercise and activities I really love that I would never have discovered otherwise.

Back to boxing.  When I’m in that “place”, boxing is SO invigorating for me.  So motivating.  So empowering.  I’ve long felt it is one of the best ways to bring a girl into a state of self-love, self-respect, and personal strength.

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I was thinking about this on the way home and I came up with a new idea: I should teach Boxing Empowerment classes.  I think boxing on it’s own can teach those lessons, but how COOL would it be to combine the physical workout with the vocal life coaching lessons?  To say aloud, and shout to the world words of your own inner strength while exerting your energy towards living them at the same time.

As this idea percolated, I began building a dialogue.  A speech or mission statement, if you will, that embodies the meat of what such a program could accomplish.  I’d like to share that with you today in hopes that it will inspire you as much as it inspired me:

“You’re already good people.  I don’t have to teach you that.  You already know to be kind to others, you already know to consider others’ feelings in your words, you already know to give others respect.  But no one ever taught you how to have unabashed, unapologetic respect for yourself.  The respect to hurt someone else if you have to defend yourself.  The right to be strong, the right to be tough.  The right to own your body and do amazing things with it.  The respect to allow you to be you.  The respect to walk away from people who don’t play fair.

To choose to be powerful instead of being afraid.

There is no apologizing here.  No hiding your strengths or denying your weaknesses.

This is a place to be real.

You are not allowed to play a role, you are not allowed to pretend you are anything other than who you are.

If you throw a good punch, you are going to own it.

If you feel awkward or strange or weak, you’re not going to flinch because that’s life and life isn’t about being perfect.  In fact, life is precisely about not being perfect.

I know that’s not what your teachers say, or your parents say, or the media says, but that’s what we say here.  Boxing is the place to learn to embrace imperfection.  You will not learn to be perfect.  You will not learn to do anything perfectly.  You will learn to love being imperfect.  And in doing that, you will begin to see exactly how amazing you are.

Here: “power” is not a bad word.  “Power” and “woman” are not oxymorons.  You don’t have to be nice.  You don’t have to be sweet.  Here you can be tough.  Here you can be bitchy.  Here you can express yourself, exert yourself, be as pissed off or deliriously happy as you want.

You don’t have to have a certain type of body here.  Because everyone can box.  There are no standards here, no crazy expectations, no ideals.  You’re going to use your body in amazing ways, and you’re going to love your body because of it.

Most importantly, you’re going to let go of the way you used to think.  You’re going to think in a new way, and you’re going to practice that every week.  You’re going to forget everything except for your ability to believe in yourself.

And you’re going to kick some ass.

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Don’t Figure Out What to do With Your Life

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Yep, I did it; I said it.  The title of this post just completely obliterated, steam-rolled, destroyed (pick your metaphor) the most important advice you’ve ever been given.

And I’m not taking it back.

But do not fear!  I’m not going to leave you hanging.   Let me restate my take on this platitude so you can better grasp my meaning;

Don’t figure out what to do with your life; figure out what to do next with your life.

Yes, let the brilliance sink in…

Look, I’ve spent a good part of my life trying to figure out my “passion”, my “true calling”, my “purpose” in life.  For me this was primarily related to my career, though there are other pieces to the puzzle.  But the other pieces I knew: I want to have a family, I want to have a strong marriage, I want to raise awesome kids who do awesome things.  But what the hell am I going to do??  I’ve read the books, I’ve met with the career counselors, I’ve studied the MBTI until I’m blue in the face (if you want my advice, don’t waste your time, or at the very least, don’t take it too seriously) and though I’ve been able to come up with a million things to do with my life, I not only haven’t been able to narrow it down to one deep desire, I haven’t been able to maintain excitement for one career direction for longer than a few months!  I know that I want – no, I need – to make a difference in the world.  I know that I want to do something that has a nice balance between the left and right brain.  Soooooooo….??

Lucky for me, this conundrum was beautifully resolved by a good friend of mine who is building motivation and resources to pursue her greatest dreams.  Her brilliant comment over a cup of hot coffee was: “Everything that has happened in my life – every moment, every decision, every event – has lead me to this place.”

Damn, why is she ALWAYS RIGHT?!  She looked back on her life and saw all the pieces of the puzzle that were slowly combining without her knowledge or awareness.  All the moments of following something that felt good, or seemed right, or even scared her.  They all brought her to where she is today: armed and ready.

I look back on my life and I see the exact same things.  I see a girl who dove into music, singing and songwriting at a young age, who made friends with people who believed that unique is good, who pursued a practical marketing degree, who married a man with no guile and all the support in the world for his loved ones.  I see a girl who worked in intense and stressful sales positions and survived, who has suffered through corporate America despite its insensitivity, who has learned a wide range of marketing skills but has specialized in nothing despite advice to do the opposite, who volunteered for several years and felt the incredible joy of serving others even though it delayed graduation.

And all of that has lead me here.  Today.  Now.

And now I know what to do with my life.

HA! Not even close. I’m *cough*ty-two years old and I still don’t know.  But that’s the point – when you’re in the middle of the journey, when the path seems to far ahead and so uncertain, you have to simply believe in yourself and your ability to figure out what to do next with your life.

Because it is all leading somewhere.

It’s like collecting balloons.  You pick one up here, another there.  There’s a cool pink one – the deep foreboding green one matches nicely.  How about a star- or heart-shaped one, they look fun!  You keep collecting experiences, questions, conclusions, and knowledge until one day they all lift you slowly and carefully off the ground to your pie in the sky.

So feel free to wonder and dream about what you might accomplish in the future; but don’t let the pressure stress you out.  Just make the next best decision.  Use the information and the faculties you have now, and figure out what makes the most sense, and what makes your heart soar today.  Even if the next best thing is to stay where you are, or to get a new job, or to take that transfer you’ve been considering, or to take a break because you have too much going on.  Trust yourself.  Believe in yourself.

I have always wanted to work for myself.  I didn’t know it at the time, but the wide range of sales and marketing experience I’ve gained (rather than specializing) has prepared me for that.  The relationships I’ve developed in my life have taught me to embrace who I am and never apologize for it.  My volunteer experience and my experience in corporate America has taught me that it is top priority to feel like I am making a difference in the lives of others.  It’s all leading somewhere.

And I don’t know where I will end up.

But I know what I will do next.

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Just This: Know Your Mind

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I have some amazing people in my life.  People that love me to the core; people that bolster me up when I’m down; people that lovingly turn my head when I’m facing the wrong direction.  There is nothing like meeting a good friend over hot tomato soup after a tough week – catching up on each other’s lives, sharing inspiring stories, crying together, and reminding each other what makes each of you wonderful, unique, and valuable.

I feel strongly about what I’m going to write about tonight.  I have had the opportunity to know some incredibly strong women and men in my life.  They exude a strength that I always felt alluded me.  A resolve, a self-confidence, a solid rock in the center of their being that never allows them to waver in their self-worth.  Now they are not perfect, of course, everyone has their issues, but I’ve always greatly admired this part of them; it’s a part of me I am belaboring to build and develop.

(Don’t worry, I will get to the part where I tell you what it is!)

I think I’ve always had a stubborn streak about me.  I recall times in my younger years when I was unafraid to argue or step up on my soapbox when I felt injustices were being committed.  But I always had an awful time making decisions.  I did NOT like to decide!!  It ties back directly to my perfectionistic tendencies and fear of making the wrong choice, but it crippled me in many ways, especially when there were those around willing to make the decision for me.  Be it a parent, a friend, a teacher, an authority, God, or a spiritual mentor, I always preferred to let someone take the responsibility for the final decision.

Though I have grown in this area throughout my life, I’d like to dispense the advice I would LOVE to go back in time to give myself in my teen years:

KNOW YOUR MIND.

Know what you think.  Know your opinion.  Know the decision you would make it if were up to you.  As a teenager or young adult, you are often in a situation where you don’t get a lot of say.  It’s easy to throw your hands up in the air in frustration or simply enjoy the lack of responsibility that comes with being young.  But no matter the situation, know your mind.

Even if it’s not your decision; know your mind.

Even if you know others will disagree; know your mind.

Even if you never express it because you are afraid of the response you might get; know your mind.

Even if you decide to default to someone else’s opinion; know your mind.

Even if you decide to leave the decision in God’s hands; know your mind.

No matter the situation, take the time – even if a few minutes is all you have – to think it through.  Weigh the good and the bad, look at the logical and emotional consequences, consider how you feel about the situation, consider what you’ve been taught by your parents, your education, your religion, your mentors.  And begin learning how to sort through, weigh, combine, and contrast those things to come to a conclusion that you feel confident about.  Know what your mind wants. Know what your mind needs.  Know what your mind thinks.  Even if you find out it’s wrong.  Even if you find out it’s right or good, but what you wanted was not an option.

There will be many times in your life when the better solution to your problem comes from the advice of someone else, or from putting your faith in God (if you believe in one), or from leaning on the teachings of your upbringing despite your reservations.  That’s OK.  Do what you feel is right; follow your instincts.  But I wish that, when I was younger, I would have spent more time thinking things through first.  I wish I had made my own decision and formed my own opinion before approaching someone else for advice, or asking God for guidance, or defaulting to what I knew and what was most comfortable.

And then what?  Own your decision.  Own that you decided to follow someone else’s advice, but never forget what you wanted to choose because you NEVER KNOW the right answer or decision until after the decision has been made and the action is complete.

Knowing your mind is about two things:

1) Taking responsibility for your opinions and your final decisions.

2)  Knowing yourself, what drives you, what you value, and what you are willing to sacrifice to get it.

The day may very well come when these skills come in handy because you will have no one but yourself to rely on to make a given decision (don’t be confused – you are always the only one you can rely on in decision-making; everyone else is simply an information provider or a spiritual guide, but the final decision is always yours – However the day may come when you have no one to turn to for advice or direction).  But don’t do this for any other reason but for yourself.  Do it simply because you are valuable, your opinions are valuable, your decisions are valuable (right or wrong), and you have intrinsic worth that deems that you can think and believe whatever you choose.

And if you already do this – that’s awesome.  Find a friend to share it with.  Discuss your thoughts, your ideas, your opinions – even your wacky ones.  Find friends like I have: that love you, embrace who you are, and see your incredible potential.  You are doing wonders for your own personal development and inspiring others to the same.

Be Real.  Be You.  Know Yourself.  Know Your Mind.  Embrace it.

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This Week: Be Brave

This week’s thought is short and sweet: be brave. Be bold. Be daring.

I find myself incredibly inspired this week by this amazing song by Sarah Bareilles

My favorite definition of the word “brave” is “to defy; challenge; dare” (ref: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Brave?s=t)

This week, girls, dare to be you. Challenge the world’s notions of who you “should” be and dare to explore the person you want to be. Do something you’ve always been afraid to do. Speak up about a subject or cause that is important to you. Defy the social expectations placed on you and bravely show others what YOU can accomplish with your unique talents and gifts.

There are those out there who would put restrictions or boundaries on your potential; when you are brave enough to embrace who you are, their opinions no longer matter. Let them live within their own self-made borders – while you soar to new places, new experiences, and new levels of growth.

I want to see you be brave.

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Find That Bliss

I’m learning to play the guitar.  Yep.  I’ve been a musician and singer/songwriter my ENTIRE life, and yet I have never once taken a guitar lesson!  So a few months ago, I bit the bullet, called up a guitar teacher and got started.

Girl Guitar

Imagine this picture with a much more awkward looking girl and a terrified look on her face, and that’s me and my guitar.  It hasn’t been easy.  Learning something completely new as an adult is difficult, ESPECIALLY when you’re used being good at the skills you’ve already mastered!!  I’ve had doubts about my path here, but the other night something amazing happened that threw all my doubts away.  I was in my lesson, practicing my chords to my first song by Taylor Swift, “Teardrops on My Guitar”.  My teacher suggested we try playing along with the song.  HA!  I could barely get past two chords without making a mistake!  But, I’m a glutton for a challenge.

The music began, and I nervously got started in on the verse.  Then something amazing happened.  The music took over.  The guitar and I became one, and I felt the music surge through me.  I don’t even recall thinking about the fingering for most of the song (until I realized I wasn’t thinking about it. Then, of course, I started obsessing about it).  Don’t get me wrong, I SUCKED.  I’m pretty sure I resembled a 7-year-old picking up a violin for the first time.  But man, it felt AWESOME.  The music flowed through me and I moved with it, strumming that guitar with purpose and intensity.  I was meant to be a guitar player.  I was meant to be a singer-songwriter.

My sense is that moments like this are rare.  I can recall a few more throughout my life during various activities, usually artistic ones.  But I figured the time had passed for me to find something I can be passionate about.

But girls, let me tell you, seek that bliss.   Enjoy it, then keep your eyes open for another moment of bliss.  Few of us have only one bliss, so there will be many opportunities in your life to experience something completely unprecedented.  There’s no need to put pressure on yourself – I’ve spent a good part of my life feeling like I should know what I should do with the rest of it (Pffffft!!!  I still don’t know, and I have so many ideas it makes my husband’s head spin), and though I feel closer, I’ve determined I may never know.  But what I do know is that I’ve had some incredible life experiences playing the guitar, singing, writing music, inspiring young adults, creating art, and embracing my loved ones.  And that makes my life joyful.

How do you find the next blissful moment?  Try something new.  Do some hard work.  Follow your heart.  Help a friend.  Forgive an enemy.  Do something that scares you.  Make some mistakes.  Keep your eyes open.  Live your life alive.  Find yourself.

They will come.  Just continue in the way that brings you joy and opportunities will present themselves.  You’ll know when you’re in a blissful moment because energy will flow through you like purified water.  And you will never forget it.

Be You.  Be Real.  Find that bliss in between the stretches of normal lifedom.

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