You have to be your own best advocate. Know your worth and don’t settle for anything less. This International Women’s Day stand up, speak out, and shine. You were born for this.
Today I looked into a camera and said my weak things in a strong voice. I told my story about my intense struggles with PTSD after my apartment building fire, and how that recovery turned me into an author. I told my deepest, darkest secret, and I feel fierce and free. Link to video will be live soon.
A bow is made strong by being pulled back. I know many are worried about the state of our nation this 4th of July. I am, too. And I also believe that the immense challenges we now face will make us better, stronger, more resilient. The struggle may be long but I believe in us.
“Say your weak things in a strong voice.” ~Carrie Fisher
Confession session: I have a fear of public speaking. Yes, I’m a storyteller, host, and writer. I do a lot of interviews on both sides of the table. And yes, I get stage fright every single time. I’ve been known to get hives, get sick to my stomach, and not eat for a day before I have a speaking engagement.
I’m scared and doing it anyway. It’s the only way we get better.
Why would I ever admit that? Because I think it’s important to help each other along. I think it’s important to help each other do difficult things. And that begins with honesty.
What fear do you continually face down?
I haven’t written poetry in a very long time, and as I was walking to work this one popped into my mind. I don’t know where it came from, but I felt empowered as I wrote it down. I hope you feel empowered reading it.
Do not mistake my kindness for weakness,
or my desire to collaborate as an inability to lead.
I have been through the intense pressures of life and emerged bright, shiny, and polished.
Like clay in a kiln.
Like a buried diamond, now free.
Believe me when I say I stare into the fire and smile.
Do not underestimate me.
“You can’t calm the storm, so stop trying. What you can do is calm yourself. The storm will pass.” ~Timber Hawkeye
One day this week tapped into my prime stressors. I had a too-packed schedule, my blood sugar started dropping because I forgot to eat, subway delays abounded and made me late to my final meeting, and I had an unexpected discussion about my apartment building fire that threw me into some uncomfortable flashbacks. All of it was manageable, but together in a short span of time those stressors added up into a palpable storm.
As I stood in the subway on my way home, I closed my ways halfway, focused on my breath, and reminded myself that despite all of these circumstances, I was okay. I got through the schedule, I grabbed something to eat, everyone understands the subway issue, and I had survived the fire. Slowly the stress seeped away into the street below my feet as I made my way home. By the time I reached my apartment, I was back on solid ground.
Letting go of our troubles isn’t a one and done deal; it’s a continual process. Smiling helps. Breathing helps. Gratitude helps. Friends help. My dog helps. If you’re facing a storm now, of any proportion, give yourself a break. You’re doing the best that you can. Eventually, every storm breaks. You will go on. Believe.
“You have gorgeous skin.”
That’s what a woman at a networking event said to me last night. I would have dismissed the comment except for the fact that she followed up that statement with her business card. She’s the Secretary General for the International Federation of Societies of Cosmetic Chemists. She knows skin.
I’ve always been very self-conscious about my skin. When I was in my early 20s, I developed horrible acne due to extreme chronic stress and it left some scarring on one side of my face. I still think of myself that way even though that time is nearly 20 years in my review mirror. I am constantly examining my face for flaws out of habit.
This woman’s comment reminded me that we often tell ourselves outdated narratives about who we are based upon our past experiences and circumstances that no longer apply. I carry around a number of these stigmas, none of which are true anymore but they’ve created such a deep groove in my brain that it’s hard to let go of them. Like a car that’s stuck in the mud, I keep spinning those same wheels to no avail when what I really to do is get out of the damn car and leave the mud behind once and for all.
Recently, I’ve been telling myself new narratives about strength, resilience, and courage to replace the ones about weakness, inadequacy, and fear. It’s going to take some time to erase the old patterns but with a little TLC and a hefty dose of patience I think I can turn it around. If you’re battling these same types of demons now, let’s build each other up. Face it—this world needs all of us at our best and the only way we’re going to get there is by raising up one another. With me?
“Don’t stumble over something behind you.” ~Seneca
Whenever I’m faced with something disappointing, I feel is deeply and and immediately. I strip out that phase of denial and move right into grief. While grief is a painful, my willingness to feel every ounce of it jumpstarts the healing process. Grief is a lens I use to refocus my energy and get clear about what I need and want. It’s not fun, but it’s necessary. The great benefit of this brutal process is that once it’s done, it’s done. I don’t look back; I let it go and move forward. I have many times in my life that I’m glad I’ll never repeat, and I’m also grateful for all of the learnings that those times held. They have given me empathy, strength, and courage, three of the things I value most.
Friends, I have had a rough week. One of the roughest I’ve ever had. Truly. I have been struggling mightily on so many fronts that at one point, I could feel the walls closing in on me. There were a lot of triggering events and I felt like I was descending back down into the scary tunnel of my PTSD from many years ago. I couldn’t sleep or eat for almost 3 days. Eventually, somewhere deep down in the depths of my soul, something began to rise through all the sadness and fear and noise. It was my power. It was my voice.
Your power and your voice are always there. Always. I know it can be difficult to hear them. I know that pain stands up and demands to be recognized. And I know that healing takes time. But you will heal. Be kind to yourself. Be on your own side. Be your own best advocate. Be fierce. Know your truth, and don’t let anyone else tell you who you are. You know you. You be you. Because you are so much more than enough. It takes time to know that, too. Take the time. It’s worth it.
“Say your weak things in a strong voice.” ~Carrie Fisher in an interview with Charlie Rose
I think the hard thing about speaking our truths, especially ones that hurt, is that they often make our voice tremble. You know how it goes—the lump in your throat, the tears in your eyes, the shaking in your hands. We’ve all got those truths, some of them buried deeper than others. What Carrie Fisher gave us was an example, a template, to help us say and own these hard truths with a strong and clear voice. You don’t need to be ashamed of things you’ve survived, however tenuous that survival may be. If you are here, then you have the right to stand tall and proud, to speak out, and to claim your place at the table with an experienced and knowledgeable point-of-view. No one can take that from you. That is yours, so own it.