Write Like it’s Yours Already

It happens a lot… friends or celebs or ads tell you about something that will change your life for the better.  I’m almost okay with getting smacked across the face with celebs and ads because it’s expected.  BUT… when a friend tells me about something that worked for them to change their life for the better, I always approach it with doubt.  (Seriously, who would ever want to be my friend?)  Too many people have suggested books, movies, and music that I absolutely hate and couldn’t connect to on a personal level that I have a hard time trusting someone’s recommendation.  I’m sure you’ve heard someone tell you, “You’ll love this movie!”  Right?  Then you probe a bit deeper to figure out the basis of this recommendation only to learn that their only reason for suggesting this movie is that they liked it.  Ummmm… unacceptable.

I know.  I sound like a heartless bitch right now.  Hopefully I’ll redeem myself by the end of this entry.  If I don’t… maybe I’ll make it up to you (and me) in my next entry???

Okay, so it’s hard for me to take suggestions from people.  It’s almost like if it’s not my idea, it’s not valid.  I can’t be the only one who feels this way.  I felt this same way when I was trying to name my son too.  People kept spewing suggestions and there was no way I’d take any of them.  It was going to be the name I came up with. I am not impenetrable, however, and the one time someone got through to me really changed my life.  I do have a handful of people I’ll allow to make suggestions.  They have proven themselves and I trust that they know me enough to weigh in and actually get it right.

I struggle with goals.  I struggle believing that I’m worth my dreams.  I struggle with visualizing my future.  I struggle believing that I can influence outcomes.  I always have.  I can point fingers and such but I’m 35 and I’m the only person who can set myself up for success (or failure) and I own that.  A friend once suggested to me that I write about the future I want.  Duh!  I’ve done that for years–since 3rd grade.  It didn’t help.  But he suggested I write about my future in the present tense.  He wanted me to write about things as though they were true today.  I wasn’t just supposed to list out my wants in the present tense, but I was supposed to explore how these things made me feel, provide specific details, and really dive into these things and ideas.

I was already on board with my gratitude journal so this was easy to incorporate.  Once I had made my gratitude entry I would flip to the back of my journal and bang out a page of actualizing my future in the present tense.  I did a lot of work on my job and money.  I wanted to take the next step in my career and I wanted to earn more money.  I began writing about being a property manager.  I got pretty granular with it.  I also got super specific about what kind of salary I wanted.  I wrote daily about it.  I really went in and kept at it.  Within 2 months I was offered a promotion and given raise that put me at a salary that was really close to my goal.  It was almost unbelievable.  I was given everything I wrote about in a pretty effortless way.

When you throw stuff out to the universe, it starts finding ways to make it happen.  When you vibrate at a certain frequency, it sets things in motion in ways that seem impossible to see.  But it has worked for me.  So, take my suggestion and start throwing your hopes and dreams out into the universe in super specific ways and watch your life change.

With all that being said, I need to take my own advice.  I haven’t kept this practice up much.  Why?  Did my own success scare me as it often does?  That’s just my head getting the best of me (as it often does).  That ends today… I will pick this practice back up because it’s the only way for me to train myself to welcome my dreams.  It seems silly but I assure you, this is the ONLY way for me to think about my wants and get them.

Stay tuned…

Curiosity Never Killed this Cat

curious

“Don’t feel pressured to make firm plans for the person you think you are now and will be years hence. They will box you in. You will wake up decades from now wondering how you are living a life decided on by who you believed you truly were when you were 21 years old. Instead, keep living life for the as-yet unknown person you will keep on morphing into; keep the possibilities open.”

I read this little nugget of wisdom in an article that popped in my inbox from LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/importance-breaking-free-yourself-michael-puett?trk=eml-b2_content_ecosystem_digest-hero-14-null&midToken=AQH4GcXhGvSdHw&fromEmail=fromEmail&ut=1XGEoVENy1ang1.

When I feel overwhelmed at work or I’m entering situations/conversations I know I’m ill-equipped for, I take a step back and remind myself to stay curious.  I learned this as I was pounding the pavement in dental sales for Henry Schein, Inc.  I didn’t know my catalog.  I didn’t know what mattered to dentists.  I knew my products typically sold at a higher price than my competitors.  When I started to approach my days and my customers with curiosity I began listening more.  I was paying attention to things that really mattered and not my own agenda.  I was a better person for it and my sales numbers grew.  Whenever I interview for a new job, I stay curious.  When I encounter a difficult resident, I stay curious.  When something doesn’t feel right with my life, I stay curious.  When you approach ANYTHING with an open mind and with the expectation that you’re going to learn something, you can’t lose.

Staying curious grounds me and allows me the freedom to not get caught up in my own head.  It connects me to all living things and has afforded me the opportunity to learn on a daily basis.

My PAUSE Button

I’m always “on”!  24/7, I’m go, go, go!  Recently my coworkers were assigning drinks to people’s personalities because of Beyoncé’s new single, “Lemonade”.  You know what was assigned to me?  Red Bull.  Apparently my busy and high energy personality isn’t just in my head.  It’s good to operate on all 10 cylinders in certain situations but, I’m starting to realize the importance of hitting the pause button from time to time–no matter how uncomfortable.

I have hundreds of reason why I don’t slow down.  It’s unnerving even thinking about sitting with myself in silence, let alone with anyone else.  It isn’t something I’ve done for years (maybe like 6, but who’s counting).  I first realized that my pause button was missing when I entered the wonderful world of dating for the very first time in years.  I’m good at the online dating nonsense because it’s just like sales.  Essentially you put up a storefront with your profile, spark interest, and then sell the goods.  Easy!  And I’m guessing that most people are able to handle everything after that point as well.  Me?  Well, I guess I’m a little different.  It’s odd because I didn’t realize how horrible I was at actually connecting with people until I started to connect with someone recently.  It’s not like the saying, “You don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone.”  It’s more like you don’t know what you had until you lose it and then start to get it again.  Or… You don’t know what you got until it’s gone and then you get it back one day.  Honestly, it’s been so long since I’ve slowed down and truly tried to connect with another person.  I forgot it was even a thing.  I forgot how rewarding it can be.  I forgot how necessary it is to my life and to being a human.

I almost don’t want to push on with this entry because I’m hurt by what I just typed.  It’s almost like my life stopped years ago.  I began to be okay with not feeling.  I was okay with empty relationships.  I demanded little from myself and from those around me.  And as much as I’d like to point fingers to people or situations, I am fully in charge of what I let into my life.  While I don’t assume responsibility in how people ultimately treated me, I do assume responsibility for allowing it.  I wasn’t connecting and I felt that the whole time.  But yet I allowed it.  I took myself off the hook and allowed life to roll on while I took the backseat approach.  *drops mic

So, now that I’m dating again I find myself having to deliver on the goods in my storefront.  I have to slow down, hit the pause button, and truly connect.  To experience shared enthusiasm, slow and deliberate touches, genuine conversation, a heightened sense of curiosity, locked glances, and warm smiles is something I haven’t had in such a long time.  “Red Bull” dated “Starbuck’s Espresso” and then “Monster Energy Drink” back to back.  There were no pause buttons.  There were distractions (lots of distractions) and nice words without action.  (This is so hard to comb through.)

It feels great to have someone to lock horns with in the most peaceful way.  It’s forcing me to be human.  It’s forcing me to look inward and draw out the girl I know I am.  I feel alive again.  I feel like I’m trying again.  I’m growing as a person again.  It’s bringing back really awesome memories of how I used to be.  It just feels really really good.  So despite how uncomfortable it is, I feel extremely grateful that I’m being pushed into that corner.  I’ll never go back.

 

 

 

 

Being a mom (since it’s Mom’s Day)

The year I graduated college (2002–shhhhhh!) I kept probably my best journal to date.  It was this small, red, hard back journal with pretty kick ass quotes in it about love and passion and that stuff.  I really challenged myself in those pages more so than I have in any journals since.  I’ll chalk it up to my life being much more simplistic then but it’s definitely a vibration I want to climb back to again.

I digress…

I never remember writing about being a mom.  It wasn’t until after I had C (Christian–my amazing 10 year old young man) that I realized I gave voice to my desire to be a mom in that small red journal.  I wrote about knowing that I would be a mom one day.  I was excited to take care of a life and give back to the world.  I was very clear about my drive to be a mom.  I was almost shocked when I read the entry.  I didn’t remember writing it.  But it was right, I always felt like this was my path.  I was meant to be a mom.

There have been a few times over the years who have asked me where I see myself in 5, 10, 15 years… I always hate that question (way more than I should because it’s an important exercise).  But I was asked this question a lot in high school and college by teachers and administrators.  Oddly enough, I always saw myself as a single mom.  Is it because I was raised by a single mom?  Is it because I knew early on that how I’m programmed doesn’t make for a good wife?  Who knows… but I always pictured myself as a single mom when people who pose the question.  I was okay with it.

I now have been a mom for 10 years and time keeps slipping away from me.  There was a moment where I never thought I’d have a 2 year old because the parenting thing is so demanding at first.  But now the time flies by and I constantly struggle with forcing myself to truly sit back and be in the moment.  I struggle with remembering what really matters. I struggle with reminding myself that I said yes to motherhood to give back to the world and that takes raising a caring, loving, and creative boy.  I’m sure I’m not alone here.  I think once kids are born, moms inherit this 500lb slab of guilt because nothing will ever be good enough again.  But I’m not going to use this as an excuse.  It’s important to rip myself away from the homework, chores, and the day-to-day activities to really take stock of my bond with C.  I owe it to him to be present, calm, encouraging, nurturing, and curious.

Having a kid doesn’t unleash motherly instincts (unless it did for you and that’s awesome on your part).  It merely highlights who you are as a person.  I’ve grown just as much as C has in the past 10 years and I’m extremely grateful for those opportunities.  He inspires me to get it right.  Growing up there was an obscene emphasis placed on my mom giving up everything to raise my sister and I.  We were constantly reminded of that.  But, at the end of the day, kids never asked to be born and they certainly never asked to metaphorically take anyone’s life from them.  I didn’t give up anything for C.  He’s a huge part of my life but he’s not my whole life.  I don’t think he wants to be my whole life.  I love my relationship with him.  I feel like he knows me.  I feel like I know him.  It’s an awesome dynamic and I love seeing it develop as he gets older.

I’m not perfect but I’m getting closer each and every day.  I’m so fortunate to have a super awesome son by my side as we explore life.  I love being a mom and just like every other job I’ve ever been assigned to do, I’ll keep honing my craft and sharpening my skills.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there in amongst the internets.

Breathe and Stay in Gratitude

Sometimes my life knows what I need before I do.  Does anyone else experience this?

The idea of breathing (ha, that just sounds funny because everyone breathes all the time) came to me when I started yoga.  I decided to take a stab at getting healthy and being more active.  That led to me trying yoga.  I was going to be that hot chick… that trendy hot chick with a rocking body.  No idea what really prompted me to try it but it completely saved me.  So like I started this weekly yoga thing and the first class kicked my ass.  I sucked at yoga.  I was incredibly uncomfortable and a few times I had to excuse myself from the torture and take a break.  I’m surprised an ambulance wasn’t put on stand-by that night.  I was a complete liability to myself, those around me and the studio.  Okay, okay… I’m exaggerating. It was ugly though and harder than I ever could have imagined.

But I did it.  I totally got through the class.  Being on a health kick and trying to push myself, I kept at it.  I went back every Monday night.  I still go every Monday night and I’m looking to potentially add a second night of torture to my week now.  But yoga became more to me as I began to face some challenges.  I went through some relationship issues with an on-again-off-again guy that shook me to the core.  It forced me to sit with years of lies, self-doubt, negative self-talk, and all that good stuff.  There were lots of tears and I immediately shoved myself back into therapy with the best therapist on the planet (I truly believe this).

My Monday nights at yoga left me feeling accomplished.  I continued to improve and really dug deep to push myself.  At the end of yoga, there’s always this quiet time to lay and reflect-there is a technical term for this but I have no idea what it’s called.  During this time I would give myself the best pep talks.  Like, “Look at you, Britta.  You’re doing it.” It felt so good!  It felt so right!  This helped me gain confidence and a new perspective.  Instead of chasing after feelings and trying to make something work, I began building what I wanted.  I began constructing the Britta I knew was always there.  I dusted her off and proved that her spirit and drive are constants (and very much alive).

What does breathing and gratitude have to do with all of this?  Yoga forces you to really focus on the breath.  If you can control your breath, you can control anything.  Remarkable!  This isn’t exactly new to me but it hit me in a new way.  As I find myself being overwhelmed and anxious, I turn to my breath and really stay in the moment.  As I hold a particularly hard pose in yoga, I turn to my breath and push through.  Nothing is constant.  There’s nothing that I can’t move through with a clear and focused mind.  Just breathe.  Also, my yoga instructor always reminds the class that the poses don’t start until you’re uncomfortable.  Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.  Remarkable!  It’s what was going on with me and it was a road map to pull my butt out of where it was.  I began to live again.

I threw in gratitude because I’m still keeping my gratitude journal.  Despite what I’m going through or how busy I am, I still dedicate a portion of my day to express gratitude.  It helps keep things in perspective.  I’ve built a few amazing practices into my life because they make me better.  Stress and anxiety aren’t necessities.  They don’t prepare me or force me to get more done.  Taking focused steps will and that takes breathing and appreciating everything around me.

 

Forced to be an Extrovert

On any given day I see all kinds of articles about being an extrovert/introvert.  Most of them speak to the difficulties and misunderstandings that come along with being an introvert.  Upon meeting me, most people would characterize me as an extrovert.  I thrive in social settings.  I make friends easily.  I was in outside sales for a pretty good chunk of my career.  I’m passionate about getting to know people and sharing my personal story.  I love having all eyes on me.

I don’t think I was born an extrovert.  I think I was born and perhaps conditioned to be an introvert.  Every step I’ve taken towards being an extrovert has been calculated and has come with truly powering through a gauntlet of personal doubt, inadequate feelings, and insecurities.  Naturally I don’t hold my head high and command attention.  It’s quite the opposite.  I want to run and hide and just observe like a good little introvert.

I guess the transformation began in high school and has continued through my life since then.  We all have those teachers/coaches that change our lives.  I’ve had so many and I’ll never be able to thank them enough for their encouragement to uncover who I am.  It’s like I focused so hard on school because the pep talks and recognition wasn’t coming from my home life.  I could succeed academically and in the sports and clubs I was a part of in high school.

I had two phenomenal volleyball coaches, Mr. John Basile and Mr. Michael Seaman.  Mr. Seaman was also my 9th grade English teacher.  He was a huge part of my life during my 4 years at Academy Park High School in Sharon Hill, PA.  I took away so many pearls of wisdom from him but there is one instance that always sticks out in my mind.  I believe I was walking down the hall by his classroom one day and I was walking like I always walked.  I had my head down, looking at the ground.  I never realized this was the norm.  But he called me out on it.  I don’t remember his exact words but he essentially told me to stop looking down because I had so much going for me and so much to look forward to in life.  BOOM!  Stopped me right in my tracks.  I don’t believe I’ve ever heard anything like that before.  It was one of those moments that I’ll never forget because it impacted my life exponentially.  I started believing in myself and my desire to succeed.  I could stop carrying the cross of outside influences and start acting with pride because I had so many successes and accomplishments.

High school also came with so many opportunities to lead.  I was captain of the volleyball team, captain of the Hi-Q (quiz bowl) team, some designation in the honor society, and a member of the newspaper, yearbook, Shakespeare Troop, Literary Magazine, etc.  If it was a thing, I was a member.  It afforded me opportunities to be in the spotlight.  It was incredibly uncomfortable in so many ways but in EVERY way possible, these opportunities were giving me an outlet to express who I wanted to be (deep down, who I already was).

Fast-forward to college… I found myself in the same types of situations.  I wasn’t confident but I kept throwing myself into tasks and roles that would allow me to develop into a confident and outspoken young lady.  I joined a sorority and became their Recruitment Chair for 2 years.  I had to lead events and essentially speak on behalf of our sorority.  I presented papers at out-of-state conferences.  I joined so many organizations and my schedule was packed to the gills.  I pushed myself into the spotlight.  I remember doubting myself every step of the way.  All of it was uncomfortable. Everyone around me always knew I could do it.  I’ve had so many amazing people in my life who insisted on pushing me.  I’m eternally grateful.

My outside sales job for Henry Schein, Inc. was probably the most grueling job for me as a (what I believe) natural introvert.  Day after day I would call on dental offices.  I would try to build rapport and get them to buy something (anything!) from me.  I was out of me element.  And to boot, I had so much windshield time because I was covering a territory so that just gave me more time to process self-doubt.  It was brutal, but I did it.  I was successful but god was it gut-wrenching at times.  I went on and took three “sales jobs” after that.  I was always pitching something to someone and trying to develop deep connections.  I got pretty good at it, but it always felt like it took so much focus and energy to do it.  But I got comfortable in my skin and confident in my messaging.

And today, I feel the same way.  What brought this all on was working one of the Accepted Students Days for WCU.  Before I moved onto being the Community Manager for The Village and East Village Apartment for USH at West Chester University I started in their Leasing Department.  There was more selling when I was on the leasing side of the operations.  I miss it at times.  But as I was working the Accepted Students Day yesterday I could feel how much I miss making that connection with people and the challenge of getting them to realize what you wanted them to realize.  I felt social yesterday.  I felt like a true extrovert.  I didn’t mind it.  It felt great to wear that hat again.  When I’m in that role now I only feel a surge of energy and a nudge to deliver.

Maybe I’m a born extrovert after all.

 

Too soon for the heart-eyed smiley?

The answer for me is no… It’s not too soon for the heart-eyed smiley face.  In completing my gratitude journal for the day I found myself being grateful that I’m always dedicated to being truthful with my emotions.  I honor them.  I love sharing them.  In college I studied the British Romantics and I fell in love with them.  They didn’t mince words.  P.B. Shelley would try to describe the same  feeling over and over again but in different ways.  Not only do I honor my emotions but I try to dig through them over and over again to understand them.  I love sharing them and finding new ways to express the same heart-eyes smiley.  Ha!

What brings this all on?  Well, I kind of met this boy and I haven’t dated in such a long time so I’m completely off my game.  What do I say?  When do I say it?  Is it too soon?  All these questions run through my head because I don’t want to mess up.  Suddenly I realize that I’m best at being me and doing what I want.  The heart-eyed smiley is me now so I’ll send it.  Sure, I always run the risk of my feelings not being reciprocated.  That’s a real risk that exists in so many of our human moments in life.  But with risk comes clarity or reward.  I need to be okay with both because both are extremely valuable.  Luckily (with the new boy) I’ve been mostly rewarded and that feels fantastic!  I think if I stay true to who I am and what I feel, I can’t go wrong.  It’s not how others process me, right?  At the end of my life I want to look back and know that I lived how I wanted to live.