Welcome to Speak out, Girlfriend!™ Blog! I look forward to an exciting dialogue and sharing of ways to get from Fearful to Fabulous as we find our voices and share our brilliance with the world. Come again!
I have the great honor to conduct a monthly training session with the vendors of Street Sense*, the D.C. newspaper
that, according to co-founder Laura Thompson Osuri, “helps homeless people help themselves, while also letting the public know about the issues this population faces.”
I love this paper and the spirit of its vendors, many of whom are also its writers. My original intention in volunteering was to support the vendors by sharing skills from the Speak Out, Girlfriend! System. And just as Anna learned in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I, “when you become a teacher, by your pupils you’ll be taught,” I got a great lesson this week from my students!
This month, we were reviewing the basics of the first 30 seconds of contact with a customer. We had just done a mindfulness exercise to raise our energy levels, and I was all prepared to discuss the challenge of “meeting needs” and “solving problems” when several of the vendors called out, “Just say Hi!” “Say Hello!” “Let them know you’re happy to see them!”
And then, from the simple brilliance of a vendor with six years of experience, I heard, “Ask them, ‘Did you get your copy of “Street Sense yet?’ That gets them engaged in talking with you!”
So that’s it for today, dear ones. Before you do anything else, greet your audience, whether on the phone or in person, or even in an e-zine, with an energy and message that says you’re happy to see them, and you want to engage with them. And enjoy the moment!
*Street Sense is a member of the National Association of Street Newspapers (NASNA), which comprises thirty street newspapers across North America.
What difference could it make to your success if you were comfortable speaking in public? The whole purpose of Speak Out, Girlfriend!™ is to help women (and a few good men!) to overcome any fear or reluctance you have about speaking in public, so you can use this important skill to attract your clients and grow your success. And I want to help you to get this information, whether or not you work with me In person.
That’s why I started this series of blogs: the Speak Out, Girlfriend! System of 9 Steps to Get from Fearful to Fabulous. I want to introduce you to each of the steps and offer a way to implement them on your own. (Click here if you missed Step One.)
Step Two: Sit in the Moment
I had the great honor of giving the keynote address to a group of about 100 young high school women basket ball players at the National Title IX Holiday Invitational Conference and Classic here in DC. They all met in DC for four days between Christmas and New Years for games, education, and networking. I will admit I was a bit nervous because these young women are all strong athletes…and I was always the last person selected for the volley ball teams in gym class!
I was talking about the basic elements of the Speak Out, Girlfriend! system, namely believing and building confidence in our own unique brilliance, and things seemed to be going well, until the girls at two tables in the back of the room began to giggle and chatter. I tried to ignore this, and focus on the eight tables where the girls were really engaged with me, but after a few minutes, it became clear that this wasn’t working.
I remembered the panic I felt back in my convent and early teaching days when I didn’t know how to “control the class.” But this time, it was different.
(More to come!)
The Perfect Christmas Tree
Today I was going to tell you about Step Two of the “9 Steps to get from fearful to fabulous series,” but instead, I want to tell you a story about finding the perfect Christmas tree…because it is an example of Step One: Set Your Intention, that we discussed in my last article. Step One is about the Power of Intention – the power of knowing what you want and why you want it before you take action. It’s also about finding those things that bring joy to our lives.
Since I was a little girl, the live Christmas tree has been the one symbol of the holiday season that I could count on. As an adult, as soon as I added a string of lights, even before handing the ornaments, I knew I could put on my favorite music, sit peacefully, and get a little bit lost in beauty and tranquility.
One year, my ex, who was a worried about the “fire hazard” of a live tree, persuaded me to agree to a potted pine – I think it was called Norfolk. It was about four feet tall, and a bright green that reminded me more of a lime lollipop than a Christmas tree. When we got it home, and put it into the traditional corner, I burst into tears. He relented and we exchanged the potted disaster for the real thing. I was happy.
After decades of living in a house, I now live in a one-bedroom apartment that I love. It’s perfect for me at this stage in my life, freeing me from the responsibilities of home-ownership so I can focus on my business and my relationships. But the one thing I miss is the room for a really full Christmas tree.
Last year, my first in the apartment, I went to Whole Foods for a tabletop tree, and it was lovely. I stood it on a sturdy end table, added the lights, and enjoyed several weeks of my traditional living room joy.
This year, the tabletop trees at Whole foods were smaller – shorter and narrower. I selected the biggest one I could find and brought it home, but every time I looked at it, I felt sad, like something very important was missing.
I could have easily gone down the path of “Don’t be silly; there are more important things in life than a Christmas tree; don’t you know there are children starving in Syria?!”
But instead I decided to honor this one pleasure that I’ve enjoyed every year since childhood. I set the intention to find the perfect Christmas tree for my apartment. First I returned the too-small tree (thank you Whole Foods!). Then I sat in my car and asked for guidance…where will I find my tree? I pictured the perfect one…about three feet tall and full. And I waited.
Then I remembered that a friend had told me that Ginko’s Garden on Capitol Hill had some lovely trees. So I called them, told my story, and asked if they had any really full trees about three feet tall. A very kind man offered to check, and came back to the phone excited. He had two left!
It was 5 PM on a rainy Tuesday, as I sat in front of the Whole Foods in Foggy Bottom. I contemplated the trip across town during rush hour, and decided it was worth it. 4.1 miles and 45 minutes later, I stood in the rain and smiled as I gazed on the perfect tree – round and plump and three feet tall. My heart filled with joy and I thanked the Universe for growing this tree just for me!
Now my tree sits on the same end table as the too-small one from Whole Foods. Every time I look at it, I smile. I can’t wait for my great grandbabies, Aryana and Maliek (ages 4 and 3) to come this weekend and help me to decorate, selecting from among the ornaments that I’ve treasured for years. I feel deeply happy.
Abraham-Hicks and others who speak of metaphysical ideas like The Law of Attraction, Thinking and Growing Rich, Creating the Life We Want, all speak of happiness and success as an inside job…starting with the mind. Abraham especially emphasizes that we need to feel good first, and then take inspired action. Rick Hanson, author of Hardwiring Happiness encourages us to learn “which positive experiences can meet your three essential needs for safety, satisfaction and connection.” Even the smallest moment, when savored fully, teaches our brain to overcome its “negative bias that makes it like Velcro for bad experiences but Teflon for good ones.”
So I’m really glad that I decided to honor my desire for the perfect Christmas tree…one that stirs joy in my heart every time I look at it. I’m glad I know about the Power of Intention as a way to help us achieve what we want. And I invite you to notice what relatively small things stir joy in your heart…and set the intention to honor and savor those things throughout your day.
Much love and many blessings to you and yours this holiday season!
How often do you feel overwhelmed, drained, discouraged by work? Not enough hours in the day? Need a vacation?
Well it might sound very strange to speak of relieving these feelings by adding something to your life, but let me explain!
A week ago, on Friday, I was preparing for a very full weekend. I had a performance of The Bessie Bluefeld Story scheduled for 12:30 on Sunday in Baltimore. Later that same day, I needed to be at National Airport for a flight to FL to attend a three-day conference that I had been looking forward to for months. And I was finishing up a letter of agreement for a new client!
In the middle of all of this, I got a request from my dear friend Kris Swanson, founder of The Corner Store Studio and Performance Space, to help her with a memorial tribute for her best friend, Laurie Siegel, dedicating their community art project of the YUME tree mural on the outer wall of the 12th St. SE CVS (in my old neighborhood). I knew that Kris had a “life-long fear of public speaking,” (her words, from her testimonial to me afterwards) and I had offered to help a while ago. In fact, we had spoken the week before about her intention for this talk. But now it was Friday, and how in the world would I find the time to work with her before her presentation on Saturday? I’m a nervous traveler and really wanted this weekend to be peacefully packed!
Well something deep inside me said, “This is very important. We can make it work.” And I’m so glad I did!
First of all, working with Kris on the text of the dedication gave me a very moving insight into an artistic collaboration and friendship that very few people get to experience. Here’s the story, taken from The Corner Store website.
“The 28′ by 14′ mosaic tree by Kris Swanson was created with help from dozens of friends and neighbors and installed in 2003. Laurie Siegel, by firing many of the first mosaic tiles & designing the classroom syllabus, was crucial to the project. She served as one of three original board members at The Corner Store, and was an award winning arts educator and tireless advocate for the arts, a wondrous glass artist, and the kindest person I’ve known. Her students at Watkins were among the first to make their names tiles for the Yume Tree.
In the end, more than a thousand neighborhood kids were active participants in transforming this wall into something extraordinary. With your help, they will bring their own children to the wall and find their names on a well-maintained work of public art.”
At the event itself on Saturday, I began to re-experience my own connection with the Yume tree. My beloved granddaughter Olivia was a student at Watkins and had made one of the original tiles. Then at one of the community celebrations, I had made a donation for tiles for my other two granddaughters who were already out of school. Three people I love most in the world are permanently part of this amazing collaboration.
When I heard Kris tell the Yume story that we had worked on, as I stood among the many celebrants of this very special occasion, I felt a part of something larger than my own concerns about letters of agreement and packed suitcases. I felt uplifted and connected to my community. I felt nourished in a way that I would have missed had I not found a way to make room in my day for this experience. And I got everything else done without having to stay up till the wee hours!
In my last post, I introduced you to our new video series: Zelda’s GoldStar Magic Minute: Making friends with your Inner Critical Judge. Tip #1 suggested that you ask you Inner Critical Judge to tell you her name. Now, here’s Tip #2 – Find Out Why She’s Being So Mean!
Discovering that I developed my Inner Critical Judge as a way to protect – NOT torment – myself was quite an awakening. My father was a functional alcoholic who worked long hours; my “stay-at-home” mom was a talented, frustrated and angry woman who did the best she could. Unfortunately, her best included lots of yelling and hitting whenever she felt threatened by my not doing things exactly right.
So I developed my Inner Critical Judge in an attempt to prevent as many of these violent outbursts as possible. “Zelda,” as I came to call her, stayed in my head long after the need to protect me from my mother was gone. Every thing I did was seen as a possible occasion to get in big trouble by not getting it right.
As I came to understand how the old fight or flight response to outer threats like lions and tigers and bears became internalized in our nervous systems, I could see that Zelda really was trying to protect me from the consequences of my actions – or inaction. So if I ask, “Why are yo being so mean? I’m really asking, “What are you worried about?” She’s usually worried about what will happen if I take – or don’t take – certain actions. Often, if I can relax, and pay attention to what she’s worried about, I can relax and focus and get things done.
But what if even knowing the consequences is not enough to move me? That when I need to check in with my Scared Little Girl, or my Inner Teen Rebel. More about those fun meetings next time!
Much love and many blessings,
Do you remember an earlier article about Taming Your Inner Critic? Did you get a sense that it was going to take a bit more than one article to help you with this process? Well you were right!
It’s actually taken quite a while for Zelda, my Inner Critical Judge, and me to begin to work together. Now she’s more of a Gentle Nudge. We’re actually becoming friends!
And she’s asked me to let her help me share this process with you.
So today I’m very excited to introduce you to my new video series: Zelda’s GoldStar Magic Minute. During each article, Zelda will get one minute to share a tip with you about making friends with your Inner Critic. Here’s Number One!
So why is Zelda suggesting that you name your Inner Critic? Because, as she said, our Inner Critics serves a purpose. She is trying to keep us on task and out of trouble; she’s just not going about in the best way. So if we’re going to “retrain” her, we need to build a relationship with her. And a good way to start that is by knowing her name.
So, the next time you hear that harsh voice, take a breath, and another, and try saying something like, “I know you’re trying to help. But it’s not working. So how about if we try something different. Working together. So would you mind telling me your name?”
Then, just listen, and see what she says. You might be surprised.
And in two weeks, Zelda and I will suggest what you can do next!
Much love and many blessings,