Letting Go of All the Versions of Me to Reveal… Me

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Photo by Vince Fleming on Unsplash

I spent a majority of my life trying to be several different people, all at once. It maybe all started with what I call a success-hybrid I created as a kid. Someone would ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And I’d say, “A doctor-writer-veterinarian.” As I got older I adored to try new things. I played soccer for a year. I played the clarinet for 3 years. Theater and singing lasted longer, almost 8 years. I took on International Studies as a minor for a semester and dropped it almost immediately. I am a girlfriend, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a best friend, I work during the day, and write at night.

All those years I always compartmentalized who I was. If I was in a relationship but my friends were single, I would insist we not talk about my boyfriend. I didn’t want them to think I was actually that sensitive. (But I am.) I wouldn’t talk about my writing with my friends at the gym. I hardly ever mentioned my outside interests at work. It could seem at times even wrong to do so. I operated each piece of myself on its own.

Which ultimately started to drive me crazy because it was impossible to balance my time. Sometimes being a girlfriend took up three more hours than I had planned for. And so I couldn’t be a writer that day. Or I’d have to work late, and not be a friend that day. I have no idea why I did this, but I did. It wasn’t until the last year, maybe two, that I noticed it and attempted to stop it.

I asked my friends to welcome my boyfriend into our friend circle more fully, I made very close and dear friends at work, I told my superiors when I had work published so we could all celebrate. Instead of one or the other I was getting closer to the idea of me that I had as a child, I could be a couple things and it would be alright.

By removing my own compartments, I am a much happier person. My time doesn’t need to be parceled out hour by hour. My planner has become less precious to me. I write in the same room as my boyfriend. I am writer-girlfriend. I share my poems with my co-workers. I am poet-coworker. I make friends at work and introduce them to my boyfriend. I am coworker-girlfriend-friend. The more I combine my passions closer to one another the more like myself I feel. Every time I do not compromise one part of me for another, I glow. The tighter I wind in, pulling it all back, the more complete and whole I feel.

It turns out that I don’t need to be one person for each scenario. I just need to be me, in my entirety, and I will be happy. The closer I can get to my own core, the closer I get to being truly happy with the life I have built.

 

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Call for Courage Challenge – Share Your Talents

Hey party people!

First, before I do anything I just want to thank everyone that visits my blog on a weekly basis. You guys are really why I am here doing this. Otherwise I’d be talking to space, nothingness, a white wall, the sky, my dog. So thank you! The greatest gift you can give me is your eyeballs! The second greatest and sharing my posts. If you read something and you like it please share it! A little bit goes a long way, you have no idea.


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Last month I announced that I’d be doing a Call for Courage Challenge all year long and we’ve already made it to the next installment! I don’t know where January went but we are just cruising along here toward spring (yes!). Last month I challenged you all to reach out to someone you admired or missed. I wanted you to call, text, DM a person that made you nervous for one reason or another. What I heard from those who tried was mainly how hard it was to do this and how the result was nothing like you imagined. I am so proud of you for taking this scary step!

I am taking this challenge too so I decided that I would reach out to an influencer I admire and tell them as such. I reached out to @jera.bean. I have been following her for quite sometime and so appreciate her honesty about her journey. I sent her a DM explaining the challenge, why I admired her and pressed send with my eyeballs closed. And guess what? She responded and invited me to a Soul Cycle class as her guest. A week later I met her in person and took her class (which was killer btw)!

Honestly I thought I’d get a nice DM back but I never imagined she’d be so open to welcoming me into her space. It was so cool, the class was amazing, and I admire her even more.

 

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Jera Foster-Fell aka @jera.bean

 


On that note, this month’s challenge is to SHARE YOUR TALENTS. What are you working on that you rarely tell people about? (It took me years at my day job to tell anyone I write.) What accomplishments have you been too embarrassed to share? (Did you finally try a spin class?) What’s a super weird secret talent of yours? (Can you yodel? No seriously, if anyone can yodel e-mail me ASAP.) Remember, it can be big, small, long, short, whatever. No talent is too insignificant for the Call for Courage Challenge. Take this month to announce to the world: THIS IS WHAT I CAN DO! And then get back over here and tell me how it goes (or message me on social, or e-mail me, or whatever!) I am dying to hear more stories about you all!

Light, love, red wine–
Amanda

Guest Post: What If One Question Could Change Your Life?

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Photo by Daryn Stumbaugh on Unsplash


What If One Question Could Change Your Life?

The simplest definition of courage is ‘the ability to do something that frightens one.’ As children, we are naturally fearless. We see the world as it is, we ask for exactly what we want (whether with words or not), and we are unapologetic as we ask questions to learn. Yet as we grow older, society begins to slow down this fearlessness. We worry about what people think, we learn that not all questions have fair or just answers, and we perceive more consequences for failures. All of this leads to making it more and more difficult to be courageous.

As a leadership facilitator and coach, I talk about failure a lot. One of my favorite sessions to lead is on the topic, and requires people to consider and share their failures—without speaking about the solution. It is deeply uncomfortable and requires immense vulnerability, yet it breeds courage in a deeply intense way. Most people are great at dreaming about what their life could look like—we create vision boards, set New Year resolutions, and make three-year goals. Yet, when it comes down to it, we become afraid and frozen. What if I fail? What if my goals are too lofty? What if I’m not good enough? The definition of fear includes an incredibly important—and limiting—word in it: belief. Fear is an “unpleasant emotion caused by the belief” that something is dangerous, a threat, will cause pain, etc. So when you get stuck in fear, or feel like there is no way you can create the life you want, ask yourself one question.

What’s Stopping You?

It is a simple question, right? Yet so often we read self-help books or articles on personal growth, but we never actually do what they say to do. So if there is ONE question that can significantly help you push past your comfort zone and find courage to achieve your goals and dreams, ask yourself this one. What is stopping you? Write down your answer, say it out loud in the mirror, or ask a friend (or better yet—a coach) to ask you. Asking it once will not be enough—you might need to ask it over and over again, at every step of the process. Yet when you do, you will find that what you think is stopping you is most often a belief, perception, or fear. And by calling it out, you just might find that it is much easier to find the courage to push past it.

For me, I had a lot of fear when it came writing. I work in philanthropy, I coach and train great business leaders, and I have a deep desire to support others as they find their purpose and the unique impact they can make—but am I a writer? So a few years ago, I asked myself—what’s stopping me? For me, it was the fear that I wasn’t good enough, that people would criticize what I had to say, and that I wouldn’t have enough good ideas. Those limiting beliefs were stopping me, so I didn’t write. When I finally found the courage to apply to become a Forbes contributor—and got it—I was equal parts thrilled and terrified. And when I wrote my first article, the very first comment on a tweet I got was “crap article”. I actually laughed out loud—someone had criticized my work—and it didn’t feel so bad! I had been so preoccupied with getting negative comments, that I realized that actually getting them was not so bad. I then focused on the thousands of other people who enjoyed what I wrote, and hopefully found it useful. I continue to cultivate the courage by embracing the times that I don’t get an article published, or receive a critique—because at least I’m doing it, and I’ll continue to get better.

Get Started Now

It’s time to get started. Making a change in your life, finding courage, going after that goal—is a choice. Decide what you want, ask what is stopping for you, and consider whether it is a real or perceived barrier. Most likely, you’ll find that it’s a fear—so muster up the courage, because you will truly never know if you don’t try. The worst thing that will happen is you fail, learn, and either pivot or try again. Courage can be cultivated with practice, so the more you do things that frighten you, the more your life will open up and present limitless opportunities.

Kate Hayes
Kate Hayes is the director of Direct Impact at Echoing Green and is an independent leadership coach through Impact & Bliss. At Echoing Green, she oversees programming for business leaders who are dedicated to realizing their full potential as agents of social change. She leads retreats, workshops, and immersive site visits focused on leadership development, purpose, strategic governance, philanthropy, and social entrepreneurship. In her coaching work, she focuses on helping professionals accelerate their career and their life, while understanding how to make a meaningful impact on the world. Kate is a contributor at Forbes, where she writes millennials and their careers. For more, check out www.impactandbliss.com.

Poet Interview – Arthur Perez Junior -@apjpoetry

Stop by every other month for extensive interviews with my favorite up and coming poets. First up in this new series is Arthur Perez Junior. I met Arthur on Instagram and was blown away by his words and depth of feeling. And full disclosure, I was super intrigued to hear and learn more from him because he has accomplished the goal I am now working toward–publishing a book of poetry. (You can buy his book Wandering here.) On to the interview…! 

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Arthur Perez Junior

1. When did you start writing poetry?
I started writing at a very young age, around 10 or so. I had always been interested in stories, story telling and adventure and it really came to life when my father got a word processor (new school typewriter). From that point I wrote shorts stories and poems daily.

2. Since that time, how has your work changed/grown/evolved?
I developed a love of reading and found myself finding influence in the books I read and movies I watched. I have tried to remain true to my feelings and ideas. My style has evolved into something I would categorize as my own, my own style per se, and the ease at which words come has increased over the years.
3. What themes do you find yourself coming back to and why?
Love. It is always love. I have grown into somewhat of a hopeless romantic. I adore the melancholy of love and loss and the theme continues to carry through into my writing consistently.
4. Can you remember one of they very first poems you read?
I remember reading Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken, for the very first time and being so profoundly moved. Even at a young age the idea of forging my own way, resisting the urge to do the ordinary and venture out into the world without certainty. That poem has been ingrained in my mind, a reminder of the value in struggle and persistence.
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One of my favorites from Arthur’s IG Feed
5. There are so many forms of writing. Why poetry for you?
I love rhyme, and although a lot comes through as prose, I have always been drawn to the whimsical nature of poetry. I have been very influenced by late 80s and early 90s hip hop. The flow of the words was intoxicating, and prompted me to get into spoken word and eventually recording and releasing 2 hip hop albums.
6. Who are your favorite “established” poets? 
I love Frost, Rumi, Shakespere, Dickinson, TS Elliot, and scores of others. I love classic literature, and there is no shortage of brilliance.
7. Any up and coming poets you enjoy?
In this age of social media, I am amazed at the sheer amount of talent. There are so many gifted writers with a platform to present there work on a daily basis. I have found several people that move me and if I take the time to follow, have something worthwhile to say.
8. What was it like putting a book of poetry together?
Nerve wrecking and exhilarating. Going through revisions, deciding what gets removed or added and learning the intricacies of publishing were all exciting. I loved the process of it all and hope to take what I’ve learned and make the next release even better.
9. What are your plans for the future with your work?
I am in the process of completing my next release, Star Sailors. I am shooting for an April release. It is all about self exploration and discovery with a space theme. I am very excited about this book and am working tirelessly to ensure that it gets the proper promotion.
10. What’s some advice/motivation you could give to other poets?
First of all, don’t wait. Do it. Release your book and don’t look back. Learn through the process and grow!
Second, have a plan. Do your homework and figure out what works for you.
Thirdly, I would say its your world. Don;t conform. Write what you like, release what you want, and enjoy the ride. 🙂 If you are copying someone’s style, the world has already seen it. Perfect your craft and be the original!
You can connect with Arthur here:

Instagram: @apjpoetry
Are you or do you know an up and coming poet I should feature? Drop me a note in the comments below or hit me up on IG!

What Life Should Be Like

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I’m back post-holiday to return to my blogging roots–talking about some serious business. *Queue Serious Music* I took a little break to get into the holiday spirit with my gift guide and to support a group of incredible female entrepreneurs. But now… it’s back to business as usual.

Today I’m talking about shoulds, how they haunt me.

Sometimes (seriously, sometimes) I can come off as pretty collected and calm. But that’s after many years of learning to be that way. By nature I am a worrier. When I was 12 I stopped sleeping at night, plagued by insomnia and anxiety by my very *complicated* life. I was sick over old things and worried for new things and was very tightly wound. My memory of that year, and even the next couple after that, is of lying in bed every night, wide awake and troubled.

I’ve come a long way since those days. I am often able to sleep through the night and have been doing that for years. But lately, I find myself falling into old patterns. Waking in the night to start worrying and overthinking. Spiraling knowing very well I shouldn’t be. It’s odd to find myself here 18 years later.

The cause of it all, of course, is the shoulds of my life. I am straight up shoulding myself. Maybe it’s because I turned 30 this month or it’s because my life keeps butting up against serious life moments (for not just me, but my friends and family around me too) and it is causing me to look at my life and start making choices for my future in a new and terrifying way.

When I was younger all I wanted was focus and security, even though my nature is (again) the opposite of this. I crave new things, excitement, and change. To counter that I made highly secure choices and this, unlike my efforts to calm myself, has backfired into making me feel caged in and to put it bluntly, kind of a big fat failure. I keep telling myself that I SHOULD be doing X,Y,Z or that I SHOULD HAVE done X,Y,Z when I had the chance. On the surface I guess this looks a little like a midlife crisis but really it’s the return of the same fears I had at 12 years old:

What is all of this? What should life be like? 

Smaller goals over time (graduate high school, graduate college, do not starve) gave me the ability to stray from the bigger picture, the life picture, that I saw back when I was a little girl who could not turn her brain off no matter how hard she tried. No matter how tired she was at school the next day and the day after. The smaller goals are now accomplishments to be proud of,  but as I stare down the next phase of life, without any small hurdles to cross, the big questions I never answered “What do I want to be when I grow up?” “What do I want to see and do?” “Who do I want to be?” are bubbling up with a ferocity of a caged animal.

The positive in all of this is that with my blinders removed I have the opportunity to start exploring the things I have always been afraid to try. And that is what I need to keep in my mind–that instead of anxiousness for the future, I can instead feel excitement for it. I am standing on a cliff and I can jump or I can worry about would happen if I did. (I hope there’s a net there…)

The answer to what life should be like is this: to not look for shoulds and instead find joy in the past we’ve survived the potential of what can be in the future.

But it’s never so easy. I’ve been here before. You’ve all been there with me and you’re probably rolling your eyes getting ready to push me off any old cliff already. I feel you. I can say it and I can write it but living that truth is so much harder in reality. I’ll keep working to balance out of course… that’s who I am and though I’ve tried not to be, that hasn’t changed. I’ve been here before and I am sure I will keep coming back to it. I can only hope it will one day result in something great.

How do you handle your fear of the future? Do you keep trying obsessively to smooth out your life or am I crazy? Curious to know.