Archive for choice

Road Not Taken

By guest blogger, Carolyn Cook.

I was talking with a good friend recently about a decision I’d made, and speculating about what might have happened if I’d made a different choice. He said, “Hold on. Let me tell you something my brother told me.”

His brother, a psychologist, has helped a lot of people through tough times. I wondered what pearl of wisdom was coming my way.

It was this.  “The hallmark of a good decision-maker,” he said, “is that when she chooses A over B, she stops thinking about B. It no longer exists.”

In other words, when faced with a decision between two options, choose one and forget the other. 

It was like being splashed with a bucket of cold water. Suddenly I felt more awake, more present, more able to get on with the business at hand. My decision had been made, and I was only torturing myself by thinking about what might have happened if I’d chosen differently.

Two days later I had to make another important decision — not an irreversible one, but one that mattered. I consulted a few people, and I wrote several drafts of an email that explained my position. I knew that whatever I did would have consequences, at least for me, and possibly for several other people. I tried to be conscientious and respectful and friendly (because, heaven knows, I want everybody to like me, but we’ll talk about that another time).

Ultimately, it was time to write a final email and click send. And I did. As soon as I lifted my hands from the keyboard I felt that familiar wave of doubt. Had I made the right decision? Had I said the right thing?

Then I heard the voice in my head saying, “The hallmark of a good decision-maker is that when she chooses A over B, she forgets B.” It’s bold, and it’s risky, and everybody might not like me for it, but I want to be that decision-maker.

The road not taken no longer exists.


 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.

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

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.

Dropping the Ball

By Guest Blogger, Carolyn Cook.

OMG, I forgot to blog on my assigned day.

I know in advance that I am forgiven, so I’m not even going to pretend to obsess about this.  I know that you understand how it feels when you drop the ball. Right now, my life is a like game of catch. Most days, the ball is winding up in my glove. But on days like today, I’m not only dropping it, I’m watching it roll down the street and into the storm drain. Goodbye, ball.

I can’t even think about taking an intentional risk today. Risk is built into the structure of my life.  I am taking risks every day, because of the choices I’ve already made:

I have chosen to homeschool my child.

I have chosen to move my mother, who has dementia, to an assisted living facility that is five minutes from my home, and to be actively involved in her care.

I have chosen a career in the arts, which means I make very little money for a very large commitment of time, energy, and emotion.

There are new risks I want to take, and I’m looking forward to the time when life feels safe and boring again so that I can shake things up with an exciting new venture. But now is the time to hunker down and deal with the risky choices I’ve already made.

My next blog date is my fiftieth birthday. If there’s any risk I need to take at this stage of my life, it may be the risk of slowing down, dropping more balls, and letting them roll away. I simply want to love my husband, my mother, my daughter and my siblings. I want to be grateful for this amazing life we have with each other before it slips away.

If there’s any risk I need to take right now, it’s the risk of admitting that I am not in charge. Life is too big for me to hold in my glove. I’m part of a team, and it’s okay to let other people catch the ball sometimes. That’s how the game is played.

This post originally appeared 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 insightful thoughts on her own blog here.

The Risk of Juggling

By guest blogger, Carolyn Cook.

Right now my life feels like a circus act.

I have two major professional projects going, my daughter is turning 13 at the end of the week, my mother needs my care and attention, and I’m on deadline with some collaborators.

I chose each of these circumstances. I have chosen to be head-over-heels in professional work, and I choose daily to love and nurture my mother and my daughter (not to mention my husband). I’m in all of these situations because I want to be here.

I’m fully aware that I can’t keep this up for long. Fortunately, I know this is a particularly busy week; things will settle down soon. But for now, I am juggling. It feels as if I have five balls in the air.

The risk, of course, is that I will drop the ball. Someone might be let down, even slightly.  Someone might see me as incompetent, even if only briefly. Someone might have to be patient with me. Someone might have to forgive me for something.

That someone might even be me.

Real jugglers develop a rhythm in their hands and arms, and a sixth sense about where the balls are in their trajectory. They know just how high to toss, just when to catch one ball, and just when to catch the next. They are calm. They are very, very present.

Maybe I can juggle the way they do – calmly, with quiet peace.

I’m taking the risk.

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.

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

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!