It's Time to Make a Scene

Have you seen the video of Gigi Hadid recently getting all badassery on some guy in Milan? If not, take a quick moment and watch it. Camera-ready, sweet-as-pie, nice-girl Gigi got tough. She got fired up and not only used her voice to tell this guy off, she got physical. She claimed her space, her body, and was not having any of it. 
Watching this video reminded me of a very personal, very real moment I had this summer where I had my own Gigi moment.
It happened so fast that it all felt like a blur. I had been out with my friends, one of whom was visiting from New York and I hadn’t seen in a while, when a guy, out of nowhere, grazed his hands over the side of my dress and pulled me right onto his lap. In the same moment, one of the friends we were with whispered in my ear not to worry, because the guy was ‘harmless’ and was a good friend. 
As I scooted off the guy’s lap and shifted my attention towards my friends, my thought process went something like this:
Who the heck does this guy think he is? Just wave your wedding ring in his face so he gets the hint. Ugh, but you haven’t seen everyone in so long--don’t make this awkward and create a scene. Just give this guy the benefit of the doubt. 
So, I stuck it out. I trusted what my friend said. I stayed in my people-pleasing state.
What ensued was another 20 minutes or so of very uncomfortable, aggressive advances by this guy.

And then it happened.

He completely crossed the line. He reached his hands out in an effort to grope my chest while announcing I had “nice tits." A real, frickin' gentleman, right ladies?
[Cue my New York friend.]
Her finger immediately shot off into his face as she fired off some very select, choice words. She told him boldly that she doesn’t care that he is friends with our friend, he has no right to treat women this way, and that she was not going to watch him talk to me or treat me disrespectfully any longer. We were leaving, even if it meant without our other friend. 
A wave of feelings flashed over me. Anger. Frustration. Disappointment. And worst of all, shame.
I am a self-respecting, happily married woman. I take care of my mind, my body, and my heart. I do not let people manipulate, or walk over me. And in this moment, I felt that I had let myself down. 
I felt like I let my husband down. I cried to him the next morning as I told him about what happened. His love and kindness towards me reminded me that I was not responsible for this man’s actions. No, it wasn’t my sexy summer dress that warranted his behavior. No, it wasn’t being out at a bar in downtown Chicago that warranted his behavior. No, it wasn’t anything I did that warranted his behavior. His behavior was his own, and it was not right.
I was so concerned about being a good girl, a nice girl, and keeping the peace, that I sat through those uncomfortable 20 minutes before my friend stepped in and did something about it.
I was mad that it took my friend to say something before I did. I was mad at our other friend for sitting back and watching this guy disrespect me like that, for telling me he was ‘harmless.’ I was mad that I did not get fired up. I was mad that I didn’t tell him to take his drunken, gropy self home and leave me and my friends alone.

I was mad that I stayed quiet. I was mad that I didn’t make a scene.
But you know what? This was my Gigi moment and it taught me a life lesson that I needed to learn.
I learned that it is okay to ruffle feathers sometimes. 
I learned to use my voice. To speak up. To say something. To do something. 
I learned that sometimes you need to confront the people you care about, even if they are your friends.
I learned that I am responsible for me. Period.
I learned that my body is worth protecting.

I learned that I am worth fighting for, and so are you.

5 Sneaky Lies to Stop Telling Yourself

For years, the following thoughts were on repeat in my head. And for years, I had no idea I was listening to them as if they were true. Fortunately, these 5 sneaky lies are now mostly a thing of the past.

1.     Working out is so hard.

2.     Eating healthy is so hard.

I’m going to clump these two together because they go hand in hand. I remember the days I used to wake up and have these thoughts. In all fairness, they probably will creep in again at some point, because…life, but now I recognize them and pay super close attention to when they try to sneak in.

When we have a thought that something is so hard, the first thing we go to in our minds is that it is impossible and that we cannot do it. It takes too much energy so therefore we end up fulfilling the idea by not getting to work.

I remember the moment I would have these thoughts, the first thing my defeated-feeling self would think is to go on and treat myself to those yummy pancakes or skip that workout. Sure, these things are absolutely fine from time to time, but on a daily basis? No. It does not feel caring to my body to repeatedly skip out on my exercise routine or eat sugary breakfasts day in and day out. Now when I have these thoughts, I talk gently back to myself by saying, “No it is not hard. I can do this.”

3.     I hate waking up early.

I remember when my alarm used to buzz off so early that it was still dark outside. To be completely honest, I did not enjoy waking up before dawn. No way.  But when a thought as dramatic as “I hate waking up early” sneaks in, it immediately sets us up to feel dreary and down. If waking up early is something you cannot control for the time being and you find yourself thinking that you “hate it” first thing, check those thoughts because they are likely going to effect your mood before you even have the chance to start your day. A positive counter-thought might be something like, “Waking up early allows me to get a head start on my day.”

4.     I’m not good enough.

This thought still loves to find it’s way in my thoughts and it is one that I work at daily. The good news is that I know it is an outright lie. It so fear-driven and rooted from a place of self-worth and self-love. Back in my early teaching days, I would have moments where I would compare my work to other teachers and feel less than in some way. While starting my coaching practice, I deemed that I was not good enough to actually leave my career as an educator to go out on my own. But time and time again I proved to myself that these are mere lies.

I am good enough, and so are you. 

Whatever it is that your inner fear girl is trying to keep you safe from, gently remind her you are a grown up woman and that involves having confidence (even if you need to fake it) to get out there and claim your enoughness.

5.     I am so overwhelmed.

The reason this is considered a lie on my list is because “overwhelmed” is the masking word for some other deeper feeling. Overwhelmed is so general and big that it does not truly capture what is going on. I always check in to see what is actually happening by asking; where in your body do you feel the physical emotion that you are experiencing? When I have the thought that I am overwhelmed, I am really feeling worried or scared most of the time. It is great practice to start noticing how often the word pops up for you and get in the habit of really checking in to see what underlying emotion is there.

What are you sitting back and wishing for?

For years, I told myself, some day I'm going to learn to knit. It stayed a thought until finally my best friend and I signed up for a class together. Having her there with me was the little nudge I needed to actually get out there and do it. 

You might have some grander things you want to try on your list. Maybe it's turning that passion project into a career or a trip to somewhere exotic? Or it might be simpler, like taking photography classes, starting a new exercise program, or changing your hair color! Whatever it is, notice the little things that you are wanting to try, and start there.

Start small and continue to build on that list. Gradually you will prove to yourself over and over that you CAN do the things you want. Yes, you!

Next up for me? Regular dance classes. It's been on my radar after attending a hip hop class in New York with one of my besties this past spring. Ever since I've been sitting back wanting something to pop up, wishing I will find a class in Chicago annnnd watching Yanis Marshall videos in the meantime (which if you have not yet seen one, take a quick 5-minute break and check him out-- he is pure JOY.)  

So... here's to NOT sitting backing and wishing anymore.  

It's time to dance ladies.  

3 Affirmation Words That Changed My Life

Recently I posted one of my all time favorite quotes to Instagram, “You are enough.” With it being flooded all over social media, I knew I needed to explain more, as these 3 simple words have completely changed my life.
Several years ago, I was going through one of the hardest times of my life. I was in my mid-twenties and trying to figure it all out. In many ways, the girl who had come out of foster care, been in the most incredible long-term relationship, and landed her dream job as an elementary classroom teacher, had finally “made it.” I had achieved so much of what I had wanted for myself as a young girl. Yet, there was a part of me that was really scared. For so much of my life, I had a plan. I knew where I was going. I knew exactly what I wanted.

Now, here I was, an adult, with many of the things I had always wanted right in front of me, and somehow felt incomplete and less than.
As the feelings grew and intensified, thoughts of “you’re not enough” or anything else laced with pure judgment would sweep my mind whenever I didn’t do or say something the way my growing perfectionist had expected of me.  
Fortunately, there was also that loving and compassionate part of me who recognized that I did not deserve to treat myself, of all people, in such a way. Over time, with lots of support and help, I started to rewire my brain for positivity.
Part of that process involved mindfulness, where I learned how to be more in the moment and really listen to my thoughts. Whenever I would catch myself berating my actions or saying the most critical things, I developed a phrase to gently combat those thoughts.
You are enough.
The simple 3-word message is still on repeat, even today, whenever my perfectionist tries to   hold me to the highest standard. I gently tell her that it’s okay, that I’ve got this, and that I do not need her to take such tough care of me anymore. 
This, is an affirmation. This is my affirmation. Every day. 
Creating your own affirmation starts with listening to your thought reel. What’s going on in that mind of yours? Pay attention to your thoughts—the sneaky little critical voice that is really trying to keep you at your best so that you show up in the world as your most dazzling self. The thing is, by responding gently back to that critical voice, you will be showing her that you too, just like me, have got this, and that you do not need her to take such strong care of you. 
As you listen, you will hear the message loud and clear that is on repeat. You can then turn that nagging thought into something more positive and loving. It will feel like a total LIE in the beginning as you try replacing the negative thought with the more kind one.

But over time, as you get in the habit of checking your perfectionista, the less you will find she talks to you. 

It's time to take inventory of your tribe

Who are the people who make up your tribe? Maybe you’ve got a handsome guy in your life, family members, friends?

Whoever your people are, take a quick inventory and ask yourself the following questions:

Do they build you up?
Do they make you want to be the best version of yourself?
Do they inspire you by how they live their own lives? 

If you answered yes to all of these questions, then you’ve got yourself one heck of a tribe! For any person in your life who you answered no, don’t worry, I got you. 

We want the people we interact with on a daily basis to bring out our best selves. We want to feel good when we are around them, and we want to walk away feeling inspired and energized from being in their presence. A few years back, I had a friend who was like family. We hung out together all the time, got along great and were always there for each other. But then, some time went by, we both traveled, and eventually we grew apart. When we came back, the things around us were the same, but we were not. Our friendship had changed. I suddenly found that my answer was ‘no’ to all those questions above when I thought about my friendship with this particular friend. Knowing that I cannot change other people, I gradually let her go. Was there ever a hard conversation around it? No. We simply went our separate ways. To this day we have a very amicable and friendly surface level relationship which I think we are both okay with. We can look back on the days when we were attached at the hip with fondness and good laughs, but also honor where we are in our lives today, separately.

I’m sharing this with you because there might be some people in your life who you are realizing you are having a similar disconnect with. I want to remind you to give yourself permission to let these people go if you know deep down this is not a positive relationship. I have experienced this before with very close family members as well. There are some people who I have distanced myself from completely because of the toxicity. There are others who I see at gatherings only. The point is, it is a two-way street, and if on your side of the street you are feeling discouraged and drained, then it might be time to turn a corner and say goodbye once and for all. 

Hopefully, you likely will not have many, if any, people in your life who you need to set such hard boundaries with.  More than likely, you have a few people you can think of who you are wishing you had stronger, more enriching relationships with. 

The best thing you can do is look at the qualities in them that you love and appreciate and gravitate towards those. What kinds of situations bring out the best in them?  When are they displaying the qualities you love? Those are the kinds of settings to meet them in. Get clear on what circumstances bring out the qualities in them you wish to avoid. Create distance when it comes to those specific circumstances. In other words, stay away from them in those instances.

If we want to have a resounding ‘yes’ for all three of those questions when it comes to our tribe, we have to identify what it is that we are wanting from our tribe in the first place. What kind of qualities do we want to see in our people?

Are you living those very qualities out in your own life? In many ways, this all breaks down to the law of attraction.

You attract what you choose to focus on. If you want to be around other passionate, energetic people, you have to create more passion and energy within yourself. I know this might come off as such a simple idea, but we both know it is the furthest from it. These are the specific things I work on with my clients, and they take time. But it does work. It absolutely works.