Archive for change

Trudging through Anxiety

By Guest Blogger, Carolyn Cook.

I am anxious these days.

I know from experience that the feeling will pass. Oddly enough, in parts of my life I’m having fun and feeling productive, even as I feel anxious in other areas. I’m rehearsing a play, and I always feel a generalized anxiety until I really know what I’m doing. It’s frustrating to be carrying the script in rehearsal when I want so badly to be able to cut loose and act. At the same time, it’s fun to play and experiment with my fellow actors, not tying myself to any specific performance choices too early in the process.

The rehearsal anxiety will pass, because it has to.

I have to learn the show. It has to be ready for an audience in just a couple of weeks. I can count on a sense of relief and release as I gain confidence in my performance. My schedule will become simpler when I’m not rehearsing eight hours a day, six days a week. I know I’ll breathe easier soon.

In the meantime, my anxiety spills over into other areas of my life. This always happens. I worry more about my daughter. I worry more about my aging mother. I worry that I’m not doing enough for them. I try to solve problems that can wait.  I feel guilty for all the time I”m spending away from home. It’s part of the package. I’ve learned to live with this.

And yet . . . this time there’s more.

My daughter is thirteen, and I’m struggling to learn how to parent this new individual living under my roof. I’m considering sending her to school next year (we currently home school), because I think she needs more than I can give her. I suspect that prospect scares the you-know-what out of both of us, but I can’t ignore my gut feeling that something needs to change, for her sake and for mine.

And my mother .  . .  my darling mother . . . has been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, and may already be developing dementia. Our roles are reversing. We are in the process of moving her for the second time in a year. Soon she’ll be living about five minutes from me, in a nice assisted living facility. My life is probably going to change significantly, as I visit her more often and help her adjust to her new situation (both physical and mental/emotional). You know what? That scares the you-know-what out of me as well.

These are challenging situations.

Of course I’m anxious. Right now I don’t know where rehearsal anxiety ends and real-life anxiety begins. I really believe I’ll feel stronger and calmer in two short weeks, when the show opens. I’m doing everything I can to learn my part so that I can relax about something.

Mostly, I just have to let this process run its course. So that’s my risk. For the next two weeks, I am going to risk living in the moment as much as possible. I’m going to resist the temptation to make any big decisions. I’m going to risk trusting that things will work out with my daughter, with my mom, and with my work.

I’m going to risk believing that I am doing my best, and that my best is actually good enough.

And just choosing that risk, and committing to it, makes me a tiny bit less anxious.

This post first appeared on True Voices’ RiskADay blog, a 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. You can now read about her life and insights at her own blog here.

How Do You Feel About World Peace?

When you hear someone make a reference to ‘world peace,’ what goes through your mind? 

– Gosh, I hope I get to see that in my lifetime;
– What are you, some kind of hippie-peace-freak from the 60s;
– I don’t see that happening – ever;
Or do you simply think,
Whatever?

Rather than being in the doom-and-gloom perspective, or even the critical or apathetic perspectives, I find myself closer to the “Polyanna” end of the spectrum. Although I don’t go all the way to thinking it will happen during my lifetime, I’d love to be proven wrong on that.

It is a pretty big dream, I’ll admit. And maybe it won’t ever happen. Who knows? I certainly don’t.

What I do know, however, is that it definitely won’t happen, if we don’t do one very important thing:

Be the change.

Yeah, I know we hear that a lot these days. But to me, it’s more than just a platitude. I think of it as more of a call to being and a call to action. It’s a call which, should we choose to answer it, invites each of us to do our part in the noble quest for World Peace. What an opportunity.

And if it’s an opportunity in which you want to participate, then in the words of Dr. Seuss, “Today is your day!

It’s World Peace Day, 2014.

The grassroots movement of World Peace Day was started in 1997 by a man named Don Morris. Maybe you’ve heard of Mr. Morris by a different name. He also goes by “Peaceguy.”

Peaceguy wrote a prayer, which is posted below. It’s beautiful and moving; inspiring and motivating. In it, he makes many important points. I believe that praying this prayer, using it as a mantra, or simply reading it often, is one of the ways we have a chance of making the grand and exquisite vision of World Peace a reality. And at the end of the prayer, he points out another way, his most vital point of all:

To change the world, we must change ourselves.

There’s that message again.

Here is Peaceguy’s Prayer.

May the people on this planet be changed.
Changed from hatred to love,
Changed from greed to giving,
Changed from selfishness to selflessness,
Changed from apathy to action,
Changed from jealousy to joy over someone’s accomplishments,
Changed from intolerance to acceptance,
Changed from being destructive to being constructive,
Changed from fighting to peace,
Changed from killing to protecting life,
Changed from censorship to freedom,
Changed from ignorance to education,
Changed from fearing our differences to rejoicing our variety.

May we each take it upon ourselves to feed the hungry, cure the sick,
House the homeless, educate the illiterate, love the unloved,
Compete to do the right thing instead of winning at any cost,
Make heroes that teach our children to
Make the world a better place instead of glorifying violence and war,
Stand up and speak out against things that are wrong
Instead of sitting back and waiting for someone else,
Demand honesty from our governments,
Demand honesty from ourselves.

May we each take responsibility for our own actions
And realize that by refusing to change ourselves,
We condone all the evils in the world.
If one person changes they teach others by example,
Who in turn change and teach more,
One person becomes as a pebble rolling down a mountain,

Picking up more pebbles as it continues,
Becoming an avalanche of change.

It can happen, it must happen, it will happen.

I’m just about to reach the “too long” mark for this post (or maybe I’ve already passed it). I don’t want to run you off before you finish it (and miss the treats at the end, so I’ll do my best to wrap it up.

I plan to become a part of World Peace Movement, to get on the “Peace Train,” in the words of Cat Stevens. But I’m going to start small. Maybe I’ll make some origami peace cranes as Peaceguy suggests (and gives instructions for) on the World Peace Day website. Or maybe my gesture will be something even simpler, such as driving with my headlights on, as he also suggests.

Frankly, I think what matters more than what we do, is that we do something. I also think it matters that, while we’re doing that something, we do it with the vision of World Peace in hearts and our minds.

So this is my plan: tomorrow – maybe even today – I will make my own unique contribution in an effort to one day bring about World Peace.

Are you with me? I hope you are, whether it’s on November 17, December 17, or sometime in 2017. I promise you’ll be in good company.

In fact, here’s a message from some astronauts at the International Space Station:

And here’s a message from Cat Stevens/Yusef Islam who was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:

Call me a Polyanna, but I think we can do it.

And so did Margaret Mead. It was she who said,

Never believe that a few caring people can’t change to world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.

Amen and Peace!

What Sucks and Saves, Simultaneously?

Apologizing.

Ugh. I so totally hate to have to admit to another person (or persons) that I’ve acted in a way that was, let’s just say, less than becoming. But in my life, I’ve had to apologize to friends, family members, clients, and colleagues for many, various transgressions, some intentional and some innocent and accidental. But while I was I was creating a list of the errors of my ways in order to illustrate my point, it occurred to me that each and all of these offenses, as different as they might seem, fall into one category.

I have offended by not showing up.

Literally.

I’ve not shown up by not calling, writing, or appearing when or where I said I would, or when it was just the right thing to do.

Figuratively.

I’ve not shown up by being there in body, but not in mind. I don’t know about you, but I can be in the same room with someone, supposedly engaged in a conversation, and yet be miles away. I don’t do it all the time, of coure, but I can be thinking of just about anything other than the topic of conversation. Thinking things like:

  • “What’s for lunch?”
  • “Why am I here?”
  • “I wonder how the dogs are reacting to this thunderstorm.”
  • “Wow, look his outfit.”
  • “Ooh. That’s a good topic for a blog post.”
  • “Who’s that over there?”
  • “Oh! I need to talk to her.”
  • “I’ve got to add ink to my office supplies-to-buy list.”
  • “Speaking of lists, I’d better go. Today’s list is so long, and I’m never going to get this time back.”

All of which lead to the next set of thoughts:

  • “Stop that, Laura. You get back here.”
  • “Now, what what was I just thinking about?”
  • “Darn it. How do I get that thought back?”
  • “I should have written it down.”
  • “Was it about something I’m supposed to be doing right now?”
  • “Who was it about someone I was supposed to write or call today?”
  • “Oh, no. Who is it I’m going to let down this time?”
  • “Crap. What is wrong with me?”

Can you relate?

I hope so, because that would mean I’m not alone. I hope not, for your sake and for the sakes of the people in your life.

Today.

This morning I wrote an apology letter to someone I really care about, and yes, it sucked. You know, all that grovelling, explaining my actions (or my inaction, as it was in this case), asking for forgiveness, and hoping beyond hope I’ll get it.

But while writing that letter, I began to experience something else – something in addition to the angst. What was it?

Relief.

I don’t know how this person is going to respond. Certainly, I hope she can find her way to forgiving me. What I didn’t do is kind of a big deal, and so it would be a big gift to get a sincere pardon from her.

But in a way, I’ve already received a gift. A gift from myself.

Apologizing and asking for forgiveness has already saved me. Saved me from having to slip out the back door of our relationship and then avoid her for the rest of my life. Saved me from the debilatating self-hatred that comes from not showing up for the people I care about, including myself. Saved me from all of the self-destructive behaviors I would eventually engage in as a result of that self-hatred.

So yes, apologizing sucks and saves, simultaneously.

Can we do better?

I believe we can. I believe that when we acknowledge what we’ve done, feel the impact of that (on ourselves and others),  and ask for forgiveness (from ourselves and others), then regardless of the other person’s response, we get relief. We can change. We are saved from being who we’d otherwise have become.

We can do better. We don’t have to spend the rest of our lives all twisted up – running, hiding, performing, hustling, and pretending to be someone we’re not, because we hate who we are.

We get to do better.

We get to be with the people who are important to us, really be with them. We get to connect on a level much deeper than we could the other way. We get to see and be seen, hear and be heard. We get to truly be with ourselves, too. We get to have different conversations in our heads. We get to love ourselves.

We get to be realAnd what a gift that is.

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.

Risking a New Self-image

By Guest Blogger,  Carolyn Cook.

What felt like a tiny risk a month ago has grown into a major accomplishment.

Last month I wrote about deciding to be on time. I had to face some uncomfortable facts about myself, and I had to choose to change some behaviors. The risky part was admitting that my lateness wasn’t a charming personality trait: it was a bad habit, nothing more and nothing less.

For the last month, I’ve been putting gold stars on my calendar whenever I’m on time, and black marks whenever I’m late, even by a minute. The percentage of gold stars is growing, and they make my calendar look bright and triumphant, hanging on the back of my kitchen door. The black marks don’t depress me; they just remind me that I still have work to do.

So, if I can change this seemingly fixed aspect of my personality, what else can I change? Scary question. And the answer has come more quickly than I expected. I can stop seeking approval in my career, and start believing in myself, no matter what anyone else thinks of me.

The other day I was working with a director for the first time, and I caught myself thinking that she might not like my work. She might already be regretting her decision to cast me. After all, I have this flaw and that weakness. I’m not really the kind of actor she’s looking for.

And then it hit me: oh, I have this flaw and that weakness, and I assume that those are set in stone. I assume that they hold me back, and that people only work with me because they are willing to overlook those flaws.  But the flaws are part of me, and alas, there is nothing I can do about them. I must depend on the kindness of strangers if I am to advance in my career.

Really? What if those flaws are like my tendency to be late: bad habits, nothing more, nothing less? What if I can do something about them? What would happen if I did? Can I risk being perceived, and perceiving myself, in a new light?

I’ve already started seeking some training this month to improve in the areas where I believe I’m weak. I’m already seeing progress – frustratingly slow progress, but progress just the same. I’m already tempted to give up the struggle and fall back on my weakness.

But I’m really curious to know what will happen if I don’t.

Selling: Your Image, Your Choice

Aren’t we trying to sell something every day?   We might be trying to convince our kids that green beans are better than candy, or showing a prospective client that our solution is the right choice for him or her, but I’d say most of us are in the business of selling something.

If your life is all about selling, what are some key things you need to know to ensure success on the sales front?

At Tory Johnson’s recent Spark & Hustle Event in Atlanta, Tony Conway of A Legendary Event, was the only male speaker.  But he didn’t let that scare him.  He made a big impression on us all, with his confetti falling from the ceiling and his providing us with a King Sized serenade from Big Mike!  As the owner of a top notch catering company, he also had a thing or two to share with us about sales.  And it was advice that can apply to all that we do.

  • Don’t forget that clients/customers also ‘eat’ with their eyes. While Tony’s clients may literally be eating with their eyes (since he’s catering their event), the same can be true for you and your business.  What impression are you making – whether it is in how your web site looks, how your materials are designed, or how you come across?
  • Put polish on everything you do. This is far beyond just having nice silverware.  It’s about how everything – from big to small – can and does have an impact.

Each of us knows when we’re not presenting the image that we want, when all of the pieces of our “personal place settings,” if you will, are not as polished as we’d like.  Whether it’s in the clothes we’re wearing, the business card we’re handing to someone, or the manner in which we speak, we get that little feeling in the pit of our stomachs that we need to take it up a notch.   Yet, how do we move beyond that and sell the real us?

First, and foremost, we have to find out who the “real us” is!  You can probably guess that, with a tag line like “Be You Out Loud,” this is at the core of all I do with my clients.  For some, it requires a lot of introspection and other means of learning, and for others it’s not as difficult.  But for everyone, including me, it takes the willingness to take risks and to grow and change.  Sure, this can be scary, even painful.  It can also be exhilaratingly joyful!  And, here’s the kicker:  I have never seen it not pay off!

So, if you feel called, you might take this as an invitation to take some more steps in the direction of being more of you in the world, of letting yourself shine.  Don’t forget, though, that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are we.  Along with the willingness to risk, grow and change, there must also be a willingness to love all the pieces of ourselves, that is no matter what!

Then, if we should find that pieces of our own “personal place settings” have gotten a little dull, we can either give them the TLC of a quick shine or lovingly replace them with other, newly discovered pieces.  As humans, we are gifted with these abilities – the abilities to choose and to change.  And what amazing gifts they are!

In closing, I would ask:  What do the pieces of your life say about you?   When your eyes are looking upon you, what image do you see projected?  Is it the real you – the shining, sparkling you that you are?  If it’s not that picture, the picture you want to show (and sell) to others, then accept the gift of choice and change, and be yourself.  I promise that the real you is 100% guaranteed to catch every buyer’s eye.

Note:  This is one blog post in a series of them that I’ll be publishing here periodically about the insights I gleaned from the aforementioned Spark and Hustle conference.  It is my hope that these posts will not only inform you, but also inspire you to take action on making your dreams real, especially if your dreams include becoming an entrepreneur.  Perhaps with some spark and hustle, we can all profit from our passions!