Archive for RiskADay – Page 2

Class in Session

By guest blogger, Carolyn Cook.

I feel like such an idiot

Brave soul that I am, I’ve ventured into new career territory this fall, and I’m already wishing I’d bought a career GPS. Or at least a map.

Starting tomorrow, I’ll be teaching a university class two days a week, and two high school classes one day a week.  I haven’t actually taught a class yet, but that hasn’t stopped me from developing a severe case of impostor syndrome.

Sure, I know the material.

But that doesn’t mean I can teach it! It certainly doesn’t mean I can write a SYLLABUS for it, for heaven’s sake.  Come to think of it, writing a syllabus scares me a lot more than teaching the class does, because it requires actual planning. This is a problem, because (a.) I don’t like planning, and (b.) I’m going to be teaching Voice and Speech for the Actor, and I’d really like to meet my students and evaluate their needs before I decide what we’re going to be doing on a Tuesday afternoon eight weeks from now.

My syllabus has to contain information about course objectives, homework assignments (Use Your Voice! Speak!), and plagiarism, which is also a problem because I’m planning to lift much of the content from the department chair’s most recent syllabus. (If I give him credit, am I cheating?)

I am going to love my students; I always love acting students. 

I love their breakthrough moments, their discoveries, their growth.  But I usually teach outside of academe.  Those students know I’m a professional actor, and they want to learn what I know.

These new students are going to need even more. They are going to need academic credit.  And to get that credit, they are going to need HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENTS, and they are going to need GRADES. But before anything else, they are going to need a SYLLABUS.

Oh heavens.  What have I gotten myself into?

This is what hanging out with a bunch of risk-takers will get you, folks.  Watch out!

This post first appeared on True Voices’ RiskADay blog project, which has now concluded.

 is a sometimes peaceful, sometimes frazzled individual who works to a raise a daughter, build a marriage, and explore the human condition through theatre, art, music, history, literature, and relationship. She is now posting her thoughts on her own blog here at

PS While most of the pictures on this site were taken Laura Overstreet Biering (me), this one was not, and I know not who the photographer is. Since it was taken quite a while ago, and it is of my father, Robert Overstreet, doing what he loved best in all the world, teaching, I took the liberty of posting it. If you know who the photographer is, please let me know. I would be happy to give credit where credit is due!

Profile Picture + One

By Guest Blogger, Betsey Brogan.

“The younger generation” has grumbled about how the average age on Facebook is old enough to be grandparents. No, it didn’t start out that way. But, as time goes on, more of us who have seen lots of birthdays have found joy in reconnecting with long time friends through Facebook.

Unlike many things in our hectic lives, it’s easy to log on and learn about friends, see and share pictures, and jot a note – all in the time it takes to eat breakfast. We’re able to write to people, who. because of distance and time, had fallen off our to-do lists; people with whom re-connecting does the heart some good.

Then I post a picture of myself and my same sex partner. Yikes! Talk about stepping out onto a whole new platform of risky.

The way I look at it, though, is that some, those who don’t know about my 10 year relationship, may be surprised. But if we are to be authentic in our “sharing,” I want them to know about my house and home, which includes this fantastic woman who wants to be with me in the good and bad for the rest of my life.

Others may see my profile pic and say to themselves:,“I guess I don’t want to ‘friend’ her after all.” And to them I say, “It’s my life, and it’s up to me whether I want to live it authentically or live in such a way that is easier for others to take.

When I first came out to my Dad many, many years ago, his first response was, “Your mother and I will always love you, just don’t tell anyone OK?” Bless his heart. Over time, he came to realize that being gay wasn’t fatal and what truly matters is how a person loves, lives and contributes to her community.

Posting a picture of my partner and me may be risky. I’ll never know what those who regretted “friending” me thought when they saw it. I do know that it has welcomed some of my friends from the past to seek me out as counsel, in regards to how to interact with their gay children. That is really an honor.

Something about living out loud, and risking being authentic, has signaled to my dear friends, that I am a safe place for tough questions they are asking themselves. What an honor, really. And how reaffirming that I can live a life I am proud of.

So, Dad, if you are listening, “I don’t go out of my way to tell anyone I am gay, just as you don’t tell anyone that you are an American. It’s just who I am.”

Live your life to the fullest, live with integrity, and don’t be surprised if someday someone asks you questions from their heart. What a gift those ‘heart to heart’ talks are. What a precious gift.

This post originally appeared as a part of True Voices’ RiskADay project, which has now concluded.

 is on her way to creating World Peace – one massage at a time. On-site Chair Massage and In-Home table massage. Bringing Stress Relief to You.

Red Light, Green Light – Time for a Change?

By Guest Blogger, Betsey Brogan.

Why is it so difficult for me to give myself a break?

I hope it’s not going to take my whole life until I learn the importance of rest. How ironic! But sometimes it certainly feels that way.

If I go on vacation, change my location, turn off all connections to the world, then I can take a break. But what if I need to do this right here at home? There always seems to be something that has to be done, someone I need to call, something that must be crossed off the list.

One lesson I learned while I attended massage school was that pain is the body’s way of communicating to us that something is out of balance. For example, carpal tunnel syndrome may be the body’s way of telling you that you are working too many hours, or that you may to rethink your ergonomics at your workplace. The pain in your wrist may be your body’s way of telling you that something needs to change.

From Wikipedia, we learn that homeostasis (from Greek: homoios, “similar”; and histēmi, “standing still”;) is the property of a system that regulates its internal environment and tends to maintain a stable, constant condition. When our bodies are out of homeostasis, they start to communicate to us this need for change.

When systems are out of balance, things begin to break down.

We all know the importance of eating right, getting plenty of rest and exercise. But when we slack on any of these self-maintenance habits, our bodies don’t work at their best. And we get uncomfortable, cranky, and/or sick.

It really is true that the world will go on without us. Things that need to get done will get done. Therefore, it’s essential that we learn to listen to our bodies when they tell us to stop.

It quite literally is a life lesson.

I don’t know about you, but the next time my body tells me to slow down, I am going to listen.

What a lifesaver!

Note: This post originally appeared on True Voices’ RiskADay blog project, which has now concluded.

 is on her way to creating World Peace – one massage at a time. On-site Chair Massage and In-Home table massage. Bringing Stress Relief to You.

Celebrating a Birthday

By Betsey Brogan, Guest Blogger.

There is a temptation as you accumulate them, to let birthdays slide by quietly. Maybe if I keep my head down and remain absolutely still, this day will pass without any effect on me at all. Yeah, right. Like that could happen. The birthday comes and with it those little voices in your head: “Another one?” “You are looking a little older.” “You probably can’t run like you did when you were younger.” (You know, the voices that remind you of limitations)

So, I have taken inspiration from others and I am claiming my birthday. Yes! Let’s celebrate! Let’s have a party! Let’s get together and eat something really yummy and share some laughter and good times!

Life is a gift. I am gonna celebrate it for all it’s worth. I am gonna celebrate it when I get a good test result. I am gonna celebrate it when I climb Stone Mountain. I am gonna celebrate it when I look into the eyes of my nephews and tell them an amazing story about the loved ones who came before them and illuminated this world with grit and moxie.

I have been given one life. I aim to misbehave. I aim to revel in the lives of people I find fascinating. I challenge myself to speak my mind. And speaking of my mind, I am gonna stretch my mind to the great expanse of discovery. I am gonna glory in the beauty of creation. I strive to experience all that life has to offer. I am eager to run into the swell of greatness. I intend to love with my whole heart.

Life is giving me a birthday. Let’s Celebrate!

This post originally appeared on my RiskADay blog project, which has now concluded. 

Betsey Brogan is on her way to creating World Peace – one massage at a time. On-site Chair Massage and In-Home table massage. Bringing Stress Relief to You.

And by the way, today, September 13th, is actually her birthday!

Throw Forward Thursday

It’s Throw Back Thursday on Facebook.  I feel sure you’ve enjoyed, as have I, seeing the pictures of your friends as adorable newborns, as toddlers trying to walk, teenagers striving to find themselves, couples getting married, and more.

Today, however, I want to offer you something different: Throw Forward Thursday.

You see, I’ve just watched an incredible video, one that I hope you’ll stop right now and watch along with me, as I watch again and again. It’s aimed at women, but I do believe the brave men who watch it will be just as inspired by it as I’ve been.

Please – whoever you are, no matter your gender, your age, or any other circumstance or situation you find yourself in –  please, give yourself the gift of the 4 minutes and 15 seconds it takes to watch this short, powerful film.

I wholeheartedly invite you do so, and then comment with your feedback. I’d love to hear how it affected you – what you thought, what you felt, what you are re-inspired to do, or what you are now inspired to do and/or be for the very first time. In other words, as a result of watching this motivating movie, how will you now Be You Out Loud as never before?

Here’s the video: Your Calling?

PS A favor: If you are willing, I ask you to please share this – specifically the post, and in general, my website and blog, too. You may not get a prize, but you will get my deep appreciation.

PPS Some shameless self-promotion: If you know others who could benefit from a conversation with me, about their callings or  anything else on their minds and hearts, please ask them to email me for an appointment.them to me. It would be my pleasure to offer this to them, as my gift. Why? Because it would mean I’d get t0 be myself out loud, while helping them get clear on how to do that for themselves! And if this person is you, and you’re not a current client, you’re just as welcome to contact me for a chat! Come on in, the water’s fine!

Hoping for Risk

By Carolyn Cook, Guest Blogger.

Why does every call for help feel so risky?  I am working up the courage to reach out to my mom’s friends, old and new, for help with her social life.  What am I afraid of?

I’m afraid they’ll pull away, of course. Why would they do that? Because they too are afraid . . . afraid of dementia, afraid of seeing changes in the woman they have loved, afraid of the pain they’ll feel when Mom isn’t her old self. And because they are busy caring for their loved ones, doing their own work, living their own lives.

And then where would I be? Embarrassed that I asked them, afraid of asking anyone else.

But what if someone says yes? What if someone reaches out and offers to take her out to lunch, or go to a museum with her? What’s the reward?

The smile on my mother’s face. The sense that she’s okay for one more day. The peace of knowing I’m part of team that extends beyond my immediate family.

This disease is only going to get worse. I have a feeling there are many risks ahead. I hope I can take this one.

Forgiveness Day

… just a quick note to let you know that today is Global Forgiveness Day.

Is there someone you need to forgive or even want to forgive, but just haven’t had it in you? And if you did finally forgive, how would that affect your relationship with that person or group? Even more importantly, how would it affect your relationship with yourself?

The great, late Nelson Mandela said,

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

It’s true that when we haven’t forgiven someone or some group, anger turns into resentment, resentment festers within us, and eventually it becomes like an open wound, going with us everywhere we go, and quite possibly poisoning everything we do. Yikes!

Forgiving doesn’t mean that we condone another’s behavior. The Greater Good Science Center has this to say about what forgiveness is and is not:

“Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.

“Just as important as defining what forgiveness is, though, is understanding what forgiveness is not. Experts who study or teach forgiveness make clear that when you forgive, you do not gloss over or deny the seriousness of an offense against you. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, nor does it mean condoning or excusing offenses. Though forgiveness can help repair a damaged relationship, it doesn’t obligate you to reconcile with the person who harmed you, or release them from legal accountability.

“Instead, forgiveness brings the forgiver peace of mind and frees him or her from corrosive anger. While there is some debate over whether true forgiveness requires positive feelings toward the offender, experts agree that it at least involves letting go of deeply held negative feelings. In that way, it empowers you to recognize the pain you suffered without letting that pain define you, enabling you to heal and move on with your life.”

Although it’s not pretty, I’ll admit that I, too, have succumbed to the temptation not to forgive. And don’t worry, I won’t ask you to report in on whether or not that’s true for you. My only request is that you take a risk and join me, if only for this one day, and do yourself the giant favor of forgiving just one person or group, and just as GreaterGood says, empower yourself to… heal and move on with your life.”

If you’re wondering how in the heck to do that, go back to that Greater Good page, and look at the column on the right. It has additional articles on forgiveness, even one called “How to Cultivate Forgiveness,” as well as book recommendations, videos, and a quiz.

While it’s certainly vulnerable, and it may not be very fun for us to do this, both the relief and release will be liberating, won’t they? And just think of how much energy we will free up. What will you do with that energy? Whatever it is, I hope it allows you to be all that you are and to have the positive impact on the world that only you can.

Who knows? Maybe it’ll feel so good that we do it more than one day a year. 🙂


PS FYI: In the spirit of multi-purposing, I’m calling this post on Forgiveness Day the “F” installment in the AB…Zs of Self-Care series of blog posts.

Can You Hear Me?

By Guest Blogger, Betsey Brogan.

Recently I bumped into a disagreement. Since the second Bush ran for president the first time, I have been more inclined to speak my mind. There is no shortage of things for us to disagree about these days. My tendency is to let things happen. Not make waves. Let people have their opinion and not foist mine on them. But then came an occasion to speak my mind and truly try to help another out in the process. I knew what I had to say wasn’t popular, because other responses came in that, though they were heartfelt, just didn’t jibe with mine.

A sorority sister of mine recently turned 50 and consequently received the DOOMSDAY INVITATION to join AARP. She is horrified. “That means I am old.” Her response was to throw the application in the trash. “No way,” she said.

Time was, when I would let her be with that comment. Recently, on this Risk-a-Day blog I wrote about being able to say the words “I disagree.” So, emboldened with that blurb and perhaps my growth since then, I responded to this. Here is my response: “Age isn’t really something that someone puts on you, it’s how you feel. Truth is: you get an application at a certain age. Enjoy the benefits and disregard what society tells you to feel about it. It’s up to you!”

I know I am not going to change the world with my opinions. The point is I am changing my world. I am still working on creating a friendship with the women who I disagreed with in the previous blog. I am still working on letting my voice be heard.

Turning 50 was a big milestone for me as well. My response which I shared with anyone who wanted to hear it was: “50 is gonna happen. You can either let it happen to you or you can make it happen.” I chose the later.

When Alice Walker spoke at Georgia State University, this was the last question of the day:

Q: How do you find your voice?

A: Everything has a voice. Everything has a voice. And when you realize that everything does… Every rock has a voice. Every river. Every tree has a voice. Everything does and so why not you? 

I think where we sometimes go off the track is when we think we have to sound like everybody else, instead of having incredible faith that the whole reason that you’re not like everybody else, is that you’re different and that’s wonderful!

In responding in an unpopular fashion, I risked being different. In the process I shared my voice. This is a new thing for me, and I like what I hear.

This post originally appeared on my RiskADay blog, which has now been closed.

Betsey Brogan is on her way to creating World Peace – one massage at a time. On-site Chair Massage and In-Home table massage. Bringing Stress Relief to You.

Risk, continued

By Guest Blogger, Carolyn Cook.

This month I am taking the risk I’ve written about several times: I’m singing a *recital in just a few short days.

I’ve done so much to prepare for this that it feels like less of a risk than it did. But it’s still challenging, and I’m still nervous. I think I will be jubilant when it’s actually happening. I imagine myself standing in front of my friends, in a space I love, singing music I’ve chosen, and smiling from ear to ear. I can already feel the glow that will fill me when I realize I’m actually doing this.

I want to risk experiencing that glow. I want to let myself relax about everything that’s worrying me.  I want to risk feeling excitement, joy, and freedom as I sing. I want to prepare as much as I can prepare, and then let go.

Simply deciding to do this concert has brought about a change in my life. When you decide to work on your voice, you start poking around a part of yourself that feels very vulnerable.  How we speak is a huge part of who we are, or at least who we think we are. Choosing to release tension in my voice requires admitting that the tension is there. I’ve had to work in two directions:  physically, releasing bodily tension to let my soul sing, and spiritually, releasing soul tension to let my body sing.

One of my voice coaches says that we sing as a gift to others. We take a song and polish it so that we can give it away. I find that to be a beautiful image, because it takes the focus off me, the singer, and puts it on the gift and on the recipient. Self-consciousness, the source of my tension, dissolves as I focus on giving something away.

Here’s what he says about taking a deep breath to sing: “Fill the basket, and then feed the masses.” Isn’t that lovely? If I hadn’t decided to risk a concert, I never would have learned that.

What I’m saying is that risking this concert has turned out to be a gift to me. I’ve learned a great deal, not just about vocal technique, but about speaking the truth and sharing my heart. I think my next risk is simply to keep taking this one, and see where it leads.

This post first appeared on my RiskADay blog project, which has now concluded.

*A note from Laura: Check out this short, delightful video taken right after Carolyn’s recital by clicking here. Enjoy!

Carolyn Cook is a sometimes peaceful, sometimes frazzled individual who works to raise a daughter, build a marriage, and explore the human condition through theatre, art, music, history, literature, and relationship. She now blogs at

Always Learning

By guest blogger, Carolyn Cook.

The other night I played Monopoly with my daughter. She’s a ruthless Monopoly player:  on her first trip around the board she buys everything she can.  As long as she has money, she buys property. As soon as she has a monopoly, she starts buying houses. She doesn’t quit developing her property until she has hotels – even if it means mortgaging other properties to pay rent. She always gets back out of debt, and she always beats me.

Granted, I don’t try as hard as she does to win. I’m a milder player. I like to hold onto a little cash as I go. I’m not crazy about bargaining for a piece of property someone else owns. I don’t buy strategically. I just roll the dice, circle the board, and hope for the best. Besides, she’s my kid; I enjoy seeing her win.

But I’m learning about risks by watching my teenage maverick in action. I’ve become a bolder player by competing with her. During our most recent game I started wondering what we could learn about real life from Monopoly. Several lessons became really clear to me.

One lesson is to have a plan. My daughter likes to capture the first quadrant on the board: the really cheap properties that you hit right after you pass “Go.” If she can get those monopolies, she can start developing them quickly, because it’s also cheap to buy houses and hotels for them. And it’s really hard for her opponents to make it around the board without landing on at least something in that quadrant, so she collects plenty of rent.

The next lesson is to bargain. If I have a property she needs, she starts asking right away if I’m willing to sell. She proposes property swaps or other sweet deals to get what she wants. I’ve learned to be a tough negotiator, because she sure is!

The third lesson is to take setbacks in stride. When she hits a problem on the board and doesn’t have the cash to cover it, she does whatever it takes to stay in the game. She mortgages property, sells back houses if she has to, etc. She stays in the game until she can pull herself out of the hole.

My final lesson from the other night came after I had lost. My daughter owned the whole board, but she wasn’t tired of playing, so she just rolled the dice and kept circling to see what happened. Pretty soon she landed on a Chance or Community Chest card that required “property assessments.” She had to pay the bank a certain amount for every house or hotel she owned, and she owned a lot. Suddenly we realized that she didn’t have an income stream beyond the $200 she’d get every time she passed go. There were no other players left to pay her rent. Hmmm. That’s when we both realized that for the game to be fun, you need the other players.

In Monopoly, once somebody owns everything, the game is over. In life, we are all connected and interdependent. For the game to be interesting, or even possible, everybody has to be able to play.

There are so many ramifications to that lesson, I haven’t begun sorting them out. My daughter and I talked about the civic and economic aspects of it, and why it’s important to the whole economy for people to have jobs. But of course it goes farther than that. There are personal, emotional, and spiritual aspects to explore for days. Years.

That game inspired me to keep thinking boldly about the risks I’m taking, while paying attention to the players around me. I’m inspired to make a plan, to be willing to bargain, to take setbacks in stride, and to work with other people to keep things interesting. Sounds like fun to me.

This post first appeared on my RiskADay blog project, which has now concluded.

 is a sometimes peaceful, sometimes frazzled individual who works to raise a daughter, build a marriage, and explore the human condition through theatre, art, music, history, literature, and relationship. She now blogs at