Archive for True Voices

What To Do When Harm Has Been Done?

I came across a beautiful story this week. I shared it with my current Daring Way™ group, and I just had to share with you, too, my faithful True Voices Blog readers.

It’s short, yet it really made me think. Maybe you’ll experience something similar. Enjoy. (FYI: I haven’t neutralized the gender-specific pronouns, but I’m sure you’ll see that it could apply to either gender.)

The person who shared it with me got it from Films For Action (www.FilmsForAction.org), but beyond that, I don’t know the origin.

There’s an African tribe in which, when someone does something harmful, that person is taken to the center of the village where the whole tribe comes and surrounds him.

For two days, they will say to the man all the good things that he has done.

The tribe believes that each human being comes into the world as good, that each one of us desires only safety, love, peace, and happiness.

But sometimes, in the pursuit of these things, people make mistakes.

The community sees those mistakes as a cry for help.

They unite then to lift him, to reconnect him with his true nature, to remind him who he really is, until he fully remembers the truth of which he had been temporarily disconnected: “I am good.”

And to that I say, “Amen.”

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.

My Little Game

By Carolyn Cook, Guest Blogger.

I’m pondering another life change.  I don’t know if it counts as a risk, but I think any change is inherently risky, so here goes:

I’m thinking about closing in.  Cutting back.  Focusing.  Minimizing.  Simplifying for a while.

If you know me, you know this is a ridiculous idea.  I can’t resist opportunities for adventure, artistic growth, and discovery.  Give me a challenge, and I’m out the door like a shot.  So it would be really, really hard for me to do what I’m talking about.

Specifically, I’m talking about creating a daily routine where the paperwork and the housework and the prep work for my classes actually gets done, every day.  (Oh dear, I’m already terrified.)  I’m talking about planning meals and keeping healthy food in the fridge and getting regular exercise.

I actually have time to do this. For once in my life, I have just enough work to do outside the home, and I don’t want to take on any more.  I have time to see my mother, talk with my husband and daughter, cook dinner, and keep up with paperwork, while still pursuing an interesting career.  I even have time to study voice again.

Yet I find myself putting off going to grocery store, letting my mom’s papers pile up, procrastinating, and of course, feeling stressed.  It’s natural.  My husband and I have a favorite quote, which I believe is from Life 101:  “If your game is too small, you’ll screw up your game just to give yourself something to do.”  Oh, the drama.

What if I mustered the courage, the discipline, not to screw up this little game of mine?  What if I developed the discipline to meet deadlines, take care of my health, create interesting classes for my students, and practice my music?  I know I can do it; I only risk giving up the thrill of running on adrenalin when I get behind.  And the potential reward is so great:  a sense of purpose, a sense of accomplishment, a sense of being true to myself.

Maybe being true to myself is the biggest risk of all.  What do you think?

This post originally appeared on my RiskADay blog.

 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.

Emotions: The Water’s Fine

I don’t know about you, but I never learned anything in school about emotions, except, of course, that I shouldn’t have any. I’m sure it was easier for the teachers that way, but it wasn’t such a great lesson for me, or you, either, I’m guessing. So, over the last several decades, I’ve been doing the work of (1) learning to identify my emotions, (2) allowing myself to experience them fully, and (3) sharing them in situations where it is important for me to do so. And let me tell you: sometimes, it’s just plain ‘ol not fun.

In fact, there are times when identifying, experiencing, and sharing our emotions is excruciatingly uncomfortable. It’s no wonder the majority of us are addicted to something, diagnosed or not. Addictions work. They take the edge off, protect us from discomfort, help us forget for a while, and give us something to deal with that we think we can control… unlike our emotions.

Unfortunately, however, these seemingly benign behaviors – the ones we get into to get out of experiencing our emotions – only work until they don’t. And then, guess what we’re left with? The havoc we’ve caused by engaging in these destructive behaviors, and, our emotions – the new ones and the ones we were trying to avoid! So, as much as we might not want to, it’s in our best interest to get in there and get a handle on these things called emotions, even if our teachers shied away from the task.

Now, before I go any further, let me also say that there are volumes upon volumes written on emotions, and I won’t come close to addressing all there is to say about the subject here in this little blog post. What I will say is that if you will give yourself the gift, as uncomfortable as it may be, you won’t be sorry in the long run.

Even if you’re starting at the very beginning (that’s a very good place to start), with learning to identify which emotions you’re experiencing, you are embarking on important, enlivening work. I’ll never forget when I began to be able to make distinctions between emotions that I’d previously thought were interchangeable. Discovering that guilt and shame aren’t the same things, learning how they felt different in my body, and that they called for different responses was liberating. Also, I used to believe that rage was “anger on steroids.” Now I’ve come to know that rage and anger are worlds apart; one being about crossed boundaries, the other being about invisibility and powerlessness. (A little test: can you identify which is which?)

I tell you all of this not because I’m sitting all high and mighty on some mountain top, with it all figured out, and therefore living a perfect life. Far from it! I tell you this to invite you into the pool of learning about emotions with me. If you’ve not yet dipped your toe into the water, come on in. It may be chilly at first, but soon you’ll see that “the water’s fine.” If, on the other hand, you’ve been aware of this work for a while, and feel called to learn even more, I invite you to wade a bit further out, perhaps even swim into the deep end. Sure, it’s scary there, but you can always just dog paddle until you get your bearings. Besides, it’s worth it. You’re worth it.

See you in the pool!

D is for Dancing

Welcome to the letter D in my blog series, The AB…Zs of Self-Care!

According to Dance.com, there are four health benefits to dancing: flexibility, strength, endurance, and a sense of well-being (physical and social). This makes good sense, and you can read more about them, if you click here.

I would add a fifth reason to dance. It shifts my energy, and frees my mind. When I am tired, or bored, or really stuck on a decision, or even stuck on what word to use in a sentence I’m writing, if I’ll just put on some music and dance, it makes all the difference. And what’s cool about this kind of dancing is that there is no right or wrong way to do it. There are no steps to follow, and there’s no audience to please. Truly, this is some of good medicine. In fact, I don’t know why I don’t do it more – it always works!

Sometimes we don’t have to dance at all to get benefit from dancing; we can just watch, and it moves us in a different way. We can go to the ballet, our nieces’ recitals, or we can just go to the movies! Some of my favorite dance movies are the Gene Kelly classic, Singin’ in the Rain, the stereo-type busting, coming of age stories of  Save the Last Dance, and Billy Elliot, and last year’s intense and glorious Silver Linings Playbook.

What are your favorites? Are you an 80s dance movie fan, with Flashdance, Footloose, and Dirty Dancing leading the pack? Or are you more of a 70s dancing fan, with Saturday Night Fever topping your list? Or do you forego the movies altogether and get into the excitement and competitition of Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance?

Regardless – whether it’s by flinging ourselves around our offices, getting your grooves on at the movies, or cheering on our favorite football players and childhood celebrity crushes, I’d like to suggest we “get on up on the floor ’cause we got to boogie oogie oogie ’til we just can’t boogie no more!”  (Uh-oh, I think I just gave away my growing up era – I even sang that song at my prom!)

So, why is D for Dancing? ‘Cause not only is it good self-care, it’s great FUN!!!

Poetry and the Olympics: Amazing Athletes and Important You

Aren’t the Olympians amazing?  I find myself in awe of their abilities, inspired by their dedication, and exhilarated by their willingness to do whatever it takes to go as far as they possibly can in their chosen sports.  Occasionally, though, a little voice creeps in and begins to compare (and this is one sport in which no one ever wins).  I start to think things like “I’ll never be that good at anything” and/or “If only I had…”

Sound familiar?  I hope not, for your sake, but even if it does, I am here to remind you that, while you may never be an Olympic athlete, you are human, and you are and always will be the only you.  And that’s something at which you’ll always excel!

And if you need even more on the subject, take a look at today’s poem, written by my talented friend Ann Betz, and let its beauty and truth wash over you.  Then remember that you have a special place in the global puzzle – yours!

if you only knew

how delicate
fragile
and tender
you are

if you could only see
the softness
and susceptibility
of your own heart
the way it blooms
and contracts
a sea anemone
of hope and fear
floating bravely
through your life

and yes I know
that you move mountains
command armies
and face the foe

what of it?

to be human is to carry
a precarious blossom
within
that no barrier
or shell can ever
truly contain
the strong among us know
you might as well
give up
hold out your hand
and offer it
freely
and without hesitation
to this world

~July 2012, copyright, Ann Betz

Poetry and the Olympics: Olga, Gabby, Little and Grown Up Me

I am writing this post with tears in my eyes, having just watched an amazing special on Olga Korbut.  Wow, what a difference she made on the sport of Gymnastics, in the hearts of those who watched her, and, as they pointed out, in the Soviet – U.S. relations.  The story about her moment with Richard Nixon alone is priceless!  I am thinking about our current darling, Gabby Douglas, and how the two of them are so much alike, with their enthusiastic spirits!

And now, for today’s poem, is one I wrote about me – another then and now story, of sorts..

Wanting for Myself and Others 

I grew up wanting to be somebody
Else.  Like many little girls, I
Put on skits,
Sang with records, was
Sensitive and dramatic.

I ended up on stage
For money, for love,
For friends, for myself.
Although who was that?
Who was I?

I knew whose voices I admired
So I used theirs, or some
Facsimile therof.
I performed so well
I became unwell.

Now the long road
To recovery discovery
Uncovery
Continues and I
Listen for my voice,
Hoping for

Others to
Use it to
Find their
Own True
Voices.

Gratitude and Want – One Paradox of Being Human and Divine

Hello, my dear lovely,

I am writing to say – out loud – that I want to write for 15 minutes a day.  I would love to write for an even longer time, but setting that bar hasn’t served me lately.  So, inspired by Dawn Goldberg of Write Well U, I’m going to write at least 15 minutes a day, for at least 15 days in a row.

This shouldn’t be difficult, as there’s a lot I want to say.  It’s true, I want people to be moved and educated and inspired and empowered by what I write.  But mostly, I want to do it because I want to do it.  And I believe that because I’ve wanted to write regularly for so long that I am meant to do it.  So there.

There is a lot I want.  Off the top of my head, I’ll say I want to sleep well and eat well and get (and stay) fit.  I want to (want to) exercise.  I want to be in nature more of the time, and be with the people I love even more than that.  I want to create and connect and learn and teach and grow and be me out loud.  And I want to help others do the same – if that’s what they want.

I want to make so much money that I am not only able to have the things and experiences that I want for myself, but I also want to be able to share it with others.   I want to share my things and experiences with those I love, and I want to give money to complete strangers, supporting people and causes I believe in.

I want, I want, I want. Sure, I want a lot.  And there’s a lot more than what I’ve mentioned here.  The paradox is that I am also very grateful for all I have  and am and all I am able to do.

One thing I am grateful right now is the fact that I just wrote for more than 15 minutes!  Thanks for being here for that.

I wish for you all that you want.  And I wish for you wanting what you want without judging or shaming yourself in any way.   By our very nature, we are human and divine, and inherent in that is paradox.  Embrace this paradox, and all others, if you can.  Life is far more enjoyable this way, for me at least.  And as a result, I feel so much more free to be me out loud.

Isn’t that a nice way to feel – free – here on the 5th of July?

Won’t you join me?

love,
Laura

PS On another note completely, there is a fabulous play by Lanford Wilson called Fifth of July.  He wrote lots of powerful plays worth looking into, if you’re so inclined…

 

 

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!

Your Business and Your Image – Are they Coming from Your Heart?

Too often, when we dive into the business world as a solopreneur, we lose sight of both who we are and the original goals we had in mind.

At the recent  Spark and Hustle conference, brought to Atlanta by Good Morning America’s Tory Johnson, I was listening to Alyson Hoag of Authentic Beauty speak about how, as business people, we should look.  She wasn’t talking about the physical, outward image, though, she was talking about our inner beauty, shining outward.  You know what I mean – you’ve seen people who simply glow when they’re in love.   The same is true when we’re in love with our lives.   Alyson says, “Having a life you love is the best thing you can do for your soul.” I have to second this, and add that when we are in love with our lives, it shows.

But how many of us aren’t doing this – giving ourselves lives we love?   Often, instead, we act as though we are fully passionate about all we’re doing.  And when this isn’t the whole truth, we are the ones who suffer – not only because we are lying to ourselves, but also, in the lying, we aren’t giving ourselves the opportunity to make different choices and move toward more truly loving our lives.

“The image you project should be a reflection on your authentic self,” Alyson goes onto say.  Thus, it would come to reason that if we’re doing something we love, the reflection we send out to the world would be authentic.  (See why I loved her presentation so much?)  Granted, what she and I both recommend, is often easier said than done.   Why is that?

The good and the bad news about being in business for yourself is that there is no mold to follow.  Uniqueness and creativity are what drives us to push the envelope to make sure that our voices are heard and our products and services are recognizable above the fray.  According to Alyson, “business is a learnable skill.” First of all, thank goodness!  That’s what I am in the midst of doing!  And second, if that’s really true, then we can also learn how to create a business that is part of a life we love, and which projects who we really are.    When we come from this place of our True Voices, we are able to “do something exceptional,” in the words of Laurie Baggett of Waggle Force, because it’s something authentic.

So, if we know that we need to be authentic in what we do, for it to all fall into place, how do we do that?   Cynthia Good of Pink Magazine has a couple of great suggestions.   First, “make sure your vision of success fits you.” Again, we’re back to creating a business and a life, for that matter, in which the outcome is going to be a match with what you want, who you are, and how you want to be known.   To do this, follow Cynthia’s second piece of advice: “don’t just keep courage on your mind; put it back where it came from – your heart.” Your mind is a great tool, and it will play tricks on you from time to time; however, your heart never lies.   By pulling what you need from your heart, the outpouring will be genuine, real, authentic, your true voice, and more than attractive.

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!