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A Shout Out to Brave Souls

It's an act of bravery to be vulnerable. Especially on something like YouTube or Twitter, where the comments sections are often rolling dumpster fires. So, on any platform available for public consumption, being honest about some element of your experience is courageous. But people do it anyway. 

Stories that have resonated with me lately have been stories from outwardly successful people--people I admire--about fear. Their fear. Their anxiety. Their self-doubt. The knots in their stomachs before they did that impressive thing I read about, watched them do or heard them say. 

Speaking of being vulnerable, here's my confession: I've always secretly believed there was a fundamental difference between myself and women who achieved impressive things. I thought they did amazing things because they weren't scared or plagued by insecurities like I was. But in reality, many of them do those things in spite of that fear not because of it's absence.

I wish I'd known that earlier. I wish that I hadn't, in Elizabeth Gilbert's words, let fear hold onto the steering wheel and pick the music on the road trip of life.  

I wish I'd told fear to get in the back seat and let me drive the darn car. I wish I'd felt the fear and done it anyway so much sooner than now. But we're all a work in progress, doing the best we can with what we know.

Anyway, I thought I'd share a few of the things that have inspired me lately. Maybe you'll find something in them too.

There was this video, which I shared on the blog last month. Any video where someone talks openly about body image gets my attention, but I then found this one where she spoke about how intimidating doing that original video was for her. 

Someone else whose videos I always click on are Mayim Bialik's. She made this one today about living with social anxiety. Another about regrets. And this one about shame, which was so powerful. 

This book. The concepts aren't new, but there's something about the way they're presented, the exercises they have you do, and the order of them that has been a really good fit for me. 

And finally, but firstly in a way, was the first episode of the Lady Bam Podcast. The interview guest was Stacey K. Black. She's now a television director, but she's had this really interesting career, moving through several roles in television production. I heard this podcast several months ago and was so inspired by the way she spoke about navigating a male-dominated and competitive industry, and pushing through the fear she feels with each new thing she does. 

Have you come across something lately that inspired you or made you feel less alone? I hope that if you're struggling with something, big or small, that you've got people who love and support you. And I hope you have found examples of others who've walked a similar road to inspire and uplift you on your journey. 

Take care, friends!

I'm Giving Up & I Feel Alright About It

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Sometimes I like to play a little game. I make a list of all of the things I'm doing that I don't want to be doing. It is usually very long.  Then I tell myself for the hundredth time that I should write a book called, "The Year of No," because I keep saying yes to things without actually thinking them through--without actually considering whether I actually want to do them. And then I figure out which of those dozens of things I could give up, or back out of, without some really vital piece of my world falling down. And then I swear that I will never find myself in this position again. Even though I'm pretty sure I will. One day. Because I forget that because I don't want to, is often a valid enough reason not to do something, Most of the things that would fall somewhere between Not-Fun-Times, to Soul-Sucking Misery on my scale of dislike, are not have-to's. They are things I choose to do; things I choose to say yes to when I could say no; things that don't keep a roof over my head or food on my table; things that would result, at worst, in someone being disappointed with me. But sometimes I've said yes to things without actually realizing I'd said it. Some things just worked their way into my life more sneakily than others; without my realizing I'd agreed to them.

I gave up a couple of those kinds of things recently and the giving up of them has made my life so much better. They're kind of small things, but letting them go has made such a positive difference for me. Maybe you can give up on them too. Or maybe you can start a list of the things that aren't serving you well in your life and free yourself from those.

I took my work email accounts off of my phone. This was a hard one because I thought having my two work emails on my phone was helping me. It saved me from having to login to my email accounts on the computer every day, so super-efficient, right? Nope. Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. What it did was keep me in work mode all. the. time. Evenings, weekends, holidays, lunch hours--by having my email on my phone, which is always with me, I was always mentally on the clock. Oh my gosh, you guys, the difference that made was huge and almost instantaneous.

I checked-out of Twitter and internet "news." This one was a bit more about the impact that it had on my psyche than it was about actual time spent. When I read stories about politics, nukes and adults who can't keep their hands to themselves, to name just a few of the highlights of the recent news cycle, it affects my mood and my sleep. It makes me worry about things I have no control over. It makes me take a way more cynical view of humanity than I want to take. And I believe that Twitter might be the absolute worst of all of the social media platforms in terms of the horrible things people say to one another behind the relative anonymity of their computers.

I stopped watching shows that feature violence and crime. And, to be honest, that eliminated a lot of what's on television :-) Not all of it, but a lot of it. Nikki actually gave me the idea. She did it a long time ago and I thought it was worth a try. Wow. Okay, first of all do you know how much of "entertainment" programming revolves around murder? Or more specifically, violence against women? Holy moly.

Took shopping apps off of my phone. Ugh, this was more difficult than I like to admit. When I stopped with Twitter and internet news, I replaced it with YouTube videos. Specifically the genre of YouTube that's makeup tutorials and beauty product reviews. And they were really fun at first! I learned lots of awesome things about applying eye-shadow that I wish I had known so much earlier in life. But, the YouTube app combined with the Ulta app on my phone was ultimately a bad combination. Fun fact, just because there are 50 different shades of copper eye shadow available doesn't mean you have to own them all. So, off of my phone went Ulta.

I've noticed a couple of really positive effects from all of this giving up. One is that I sleep better. And that's a huge one for me. I was really struggling to fall asleep and stay asleep.

I'm not walking around anxious all the time. Having knots in your stomach makes it really difficult to engage with life in any meaningful kind of way.

I feel more in-control of things. This is hard to explain, but having boundaries gives an order to my daily life that is comforting. I'm not in reactive mode--I'm managing things with more of a structured approach--and things just feel calmer that way.

I wish you all a 2018 that's full of the things that bring you joy, and free of the things that don't.