Monday Motivation: Speak, Visualize, Then Manifest

At the last TEDx COS event, I went to the after party and met one of the speaker coaches, Bob. I confessed to him that I aspire to be a public speaker and to give a TEDx talk.

He asked me very poignantly, “Did you make it to the stage tonight?”

I paused and looked at him with confusion.

“You know, to visualize yourself on stage,” he continued.

This past weekend, when I attended the second TEDx COS event, I made sure to take Bob’s advice and get on stage, to look out at the sea of seats and envision what it would be like to tell my story to a large audience.

It was a tad intimidating, AND embarrassing, walking past the TEDx production crew, speakers and volunteers to get to the red dot where the speakers stand and look out at the empty auditorium. Cue my self-doubt : you’re intimidated now, the seats are empty, just wait until they are filled with people watching you! My heart beat faster.

I took a deep breath and told my negative committee to sit down and shut up. I’ll ensure I’m more than prepared to give a talk about my story, I thought. After all, shouldn’t I be the expert of my own story?!

For an introvert, the possibility of speaking in front of hundreds of strangers does continue to make my heart palpitate abnormally fast, yet at the same time, I’m intrigued with the idea. Mainly, I want to overcome my fear of public speaking and I feel that my story is worthy of sharing.

I’m going to apply for the next round of speakers for the spring of 2020, and I’ll see what transpires. But for now I’m keeping that vision of speaking on a TEDx stage in focus, bringing my story to life and speaking my truth to inspire others.

Special thanks to the staff, speakers and volunteers at the September 2019 TEDx COS event who put on a wonderful event. I’ll be seeing you next year!

And to those of you reading who have a dream: speak it into words, tell someone trusted and safe, then tell strangers. Visualize your dream happening. Feel like it has already happened. That’s when the universe will reward you with what you’ve been speaking and visualizing, bringing it to life!

Tapping Out

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” Lao Tzu 

For the last few years I have been on an inadvertent journey of self-discovery and reflection. I’ve spent an embarrassing number of years avoiding those topics out of fear of what I might find. What little I did know about myself, I didn’t really like because it would mean confronting some hard truths that my insecure sense of self and pride might not be able to weather.

I can write that now with the spark of clarity that comes from two years of various forms of therapy: licensed therapists, self-help books, Youtube videos, journal writing, and most surprisingly Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ). 

BJJ is a martial art that focuses on grappling maneuvers and the magic of physics and human anatomy to apply joint locks and strangulation to subdue sometimes larger opponents. When a person concedes the roll (sparring session), they will tap. 

I started training a little over two years ago, when a friend, who was a competitive purple belt, and who taught and trained BJJ, suggested I check it out. I was immediately hooked. The physical demands were challenging but what kept me coming back was how BJJ reflected my personality back to me in ways I couldn’t ignore. I learned more about myself in training than every personality quiz, test and assessment I had ever taken combined (and I’ve taken them all). Seeing how I reacted when I felt cornered, what I resorted to when I got desperate, and most importantly what I was willing to put my body through just so I could win was truly eye-opening. 

From my first fight in my first ever tournament at the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) Houston Open 2018. I’ve competed in five tournaments earning one gold, two silver and two bronze and in all of those fights I’ve only tapped once. (I’m in the white.)

I realized that I had lived many years of my life not knowing what I wanted. I approached my rolls with no plan. I just spazzed (technical term) and grabbed whatever I could and tried to hold on for dear life. Unfortunately, that didn’t work against anyone but the least experienced opponents. BJJ taught me that if I wanted to win, I needed to know what I wanted first so I could develop a plan to get there. 

This was the first of many lessons BJJ had to teach me. BJJ became an outlet for me to prove to myself and others that I was tough. I harnessed my emotions, and used them as fuel for my training. I pushed myself, increased my pain threshold and my ability to withstand and adapt to all kinds of situations.  I learned to breathe, and to approach my training with plans and goals in mind. And I learned that sometimes to gain a better position, you have to let go. 

Even though BJJ is an individual sport, you can’t train alone. You need partners, ideally a community of people who push each other to work hard, support each other and improve. The people I trained with became my community. These people have helped me through some tough times and for that, I will forever be grateful. It’s a strange sport where the same people who tried to break my arms and strangle me with my own clothing were also my teammates and teachers, who helped me grow both mentally and physically. Though it might hurt for a while afterward, each injury taught me a valuable lesson and I’ve accumulated a few. 

Sadly, my body doesn’t bounce back the way that it used to when I was younger. As I write this, I’m still nursing an injury from a dislocated finger from several months ago and a reverse cervical lordosis diagnosis. Training now would mean pushing past the limits of my body and mind only to satisfy my pride. Of all the injuries I’ve sustained or gotten since starting BJJ, my ego is the one that takes the longest to heal, and it’s been the hardest lesson for me to learn. 

In addition to the physical limitations I’m confronting the fact that the anger I used to feed my training is now scarce. When I first started in the sport I was working through a lot of personal challenges and trying to figure out what I wanted. As I learned to spazz out less on the mats I have learned to spazz out less in life too. I’m identifying more of what I want, which has led to a less angry version of myself.Brazilian jiu-jitsu taught me about myself in ways I never would have imagined. I learned  many hard lessons along the way, not least of which is that progress is rarely linear. Sometimes moving forward means taking a step back. In my journey to better understand myself and keep myself in balance, I need to respect where my body and mind are at right now. Which means that for now at least, I’m tapping out.

Fearless Friday: Do Not Shame Me

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Photo by Chris Parish

Do not shame me for talking too long with you at the bar. Just because I enjoy a good conversation does not mean I’m interested.

Do not shame me for dancing enthusiastically with my friends at the club. Just because I love to express myself doesn’t give you permission to dance up on me, or touch me inappropriately.

Do not shame me for expressing my emotions, calling me “too emotional” or “you’re overreacting” just because you’re too insecure and uncomfortable, and not in touch with your emotions.

Do not shame me for listening to my intuition. Do not call me “crazy”, when deep down I know that something isn’t right, that you’re cheating, that you’re pulling away.

Do not shame me for dressing up and feeling sexy. Do not shame me and cover me up because you cannot handle your sexual impulses.

Do not shame me for sending nude photos to my, then, boyfriend. You know who should be shamed? Him, for leaking the nudes.

Do not shame me for setting strict boundaries at work, stating I’m too difficult to work with because I won’t freely give my time and energy. Both my time and energy are precious resources, and I’m very discerning as to how I give them away.

Do not shame me for setting strict boundaries in my relationships. I’m selective of how and with whom I spend my time.

Do not shame me for standing up against my abuser, my assailant, the person who violated my trust, my boundaries, my safety. I will not be shamed into staying quiet and compliant; I won’t stay a victim any longer. My voice, my story will be heard!

Do not shame me because I chose my career over having a family. I am following my path, not yours.

Do not shame me because I chose a family over a career. I am following my path, not yours.

Do not shame me for putting happiness, wholeness and self-love above all else. I cannot give my talents and strengths if my “cup” is empty.

Do not shame me into becoming your salvation, your life raft, your caretaker. Just because you’re searching for completeness doesn’t mean I’ll allow you to become co-dependent.

I have a right to express myself, verbally, physically and emotionally. I have a right to body autonomy. I have a right to have my story, my voice, be heard. I have a right feel safe. I have a right to be loved, without expectations. I have a right to walk down the street, to be in a conversation, to be in any interaction where my body is not made mention, verbally, non-verbally or physically implied.

For all of this, I WILL NOT BE SHAMED.