Why are you an Uncaged Bird? (1)

After writing yesterday’s post and reflecting on the questions, I realized:

“I am an Uncaged Bird, because I am so much more – and so much better – than all the stereotypes people try to burden me with!”

~~

Why are you an Uncaged Bird? If you don’t feel you’ve gotten there yet: Why do you want to be?

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What’s Your Potential?

I know I’ve been lax with posting this year. Even the ideas that I have don’t seem to untangle themselves enough for me to form them into coherent new posts. I could say that other work has been keeping my mentally and physically occupied (and that would certain not be untrue), but I know that’s not the entire story. So, while I’m still waiting for my own personal brand of writer’s block to work itself to its natural conclusion, I want to share some coaching questions with you that I plan to investigate in my own journal (via http://www.dumblittleman.com).

Why does a coach need coaching questions?”, you might ask?

As someone who makes their living coaching, I am maybe more aware of the non-productive habits and internal negative talk that form stumbling blocks in my own life. When I’m not discussing those issues with another coach (yes, coaches use coaches!), I either meditate or journal about questions, knowing their answers provide an important key to any issue I’m wrestling with. These can be questions that pop into my mind intuitively or in my dreams, or they can be questions that I discover in articles or books that resonate strongly with me.

Why now?

I don’t know how your 2013 has been going, but mine has been a roller coaster ride of new opportunities and experiences. On more than one occasion I have felt like a girl who – with a lot of effort and sweat – has finally climbed her way to the top of the diving tower, only to step out to the edge, look down, and ask herself: “What the heck am I doing up here? What the heck was I thinking????”

Be careful what bold, big ideas you choose to manifest in your life, and have a plan to actually LIVE that life once those ideas begin to take on form and structure…

  • Are you standing at an important juncture in your life?
  • Do you feel like it’s time for a (big) change?
  • Or would you simply like to take stock of where you’ve come from, in order to get a better feel for where you are?

Here are some questions that can help you connect the dots and fill in the pieces. You might want to answer them all, or only the ones that especially resonate with you. You may want to write down your answers (which I strongly recommend), or simply meditate on them. Whatever you choose to do, give yourself the present of time with yourself: To better know and understand who are are, what makes you tick, and which star(s) you should be reaching for!

  1. What one thing makes YOU unique and special?
  2. How do you think the people around you see you?
  3. If money were no object, how would you be spending your time?
  4. What do you do for a living? (Bonus question: And why is it not what you wrote in #3?)
  5. What are you grateful for?
  6. If tomorrow were your last day on Earth, would you be happy with the life you’ve led?
  7. What is the one movie or book you don’t mind diving into over and over again?
  8. If someone made a film about your life, what would it be like?
  9. Are you a better person today than you were a year ago? What about 10 years ago?
  10. What was your last random act of kindness?
  11. How many hours a day do you spend on unproductive things (Facebook, TV, gossip)?
  12. Who is making most of the decisions in your life?
  13. What would you do if you lost all your money?
  14. What is the one thing you fear about growing/being old?
  15. Most importantly: What do you do with the insights you gain about yourself?

The final question is the most important one. I’d love to hear from any of you who’d like to share their answer to that one!

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Success in (High) Heels

Congratulations, dear Lillian, and all the awesome ladies who contributed to this book!!

heels

30 Women from Around the World
+
A Powerful Message from Each One
+
A Desire to Impact Lives All Over the Globe
=
Success in (High) Heels

book now  #successheels

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The Word of the Week…

…is RESURRECTION!

1. The act of rising from the dead or returning to life.
2. The state of one who has returned to life.
3. The act of bringing back to practice, notice, or use; revival.

After being on the road for business for several days, I slid into the Easter weekend thinking about both the Christian and non-Christian significance of the season. The choice of the “Word of the Week” was therefore pretty much a no-brainer. However, due to a death in my family on Easter Sunday, my thoughts about this entry were thrown off track. Losing someone you love seems to be the very antithesis of what the Easter story calls for us to celebrate. My mind was suddenly blank.

A Facebook friend also lost a loved one this past weekend, and – before flying off to join her family for the funeral – she wrote a quick post sharing how facing this death had affected her outlook on life. This loss has had an impact on the way she wants to experience life in the future, and – in memory of her loved one – she’s committed to making some changes.

Her post really touched me and made me feel melancholy at the same time. Maybe because she is quite a bit younger than me, and I intuitively felt that she still has so many more option than I do?

That feeling only lasted for a short time. Early this morning I discovered an article online that not only touched me in a similar way; it also pushed me past the temporary feeling of stagnation and self-pity that were paralyzing me.

Called “20 Good Habits You Need To Start In Your 20s” I immediately realized that these are not only great suggestions for those just starting their adult lives. The article also helped me remember that…

…it’s never too late to start doing the right things in your life!

20. Focus on the activities and people that make you happy.
19. Trust you instincts on new opportunities.
18. Build the courage to face your fears.
17. Focus on the resources you already have a access to
16. Be less busy, and more productive.
15. Make your goals your priorities.
14. Accept your humanness.
13. Seek less approval from others.
12. Ignore society’s comparisons.
11. Believe in your ability to succeed.
10. Manage your money before it starts managing you.
09. Let the wrong people go.
08. Appreciate your true friends and return the favor.
07. Understand right from wrong.
06. Choose happiness.
05. Learn to cope with anger effectively.
04. Make your own destiny.
03. Create priorities.
02. Stay away from a routine-based life.
01. Always keep in mind that life is somewhat predictable.

I would love to hear some of you share which one resonates most with you – and why!

~~~

In Memory of Russell Davis (1950 – 2013). You are loved. You will be missed.

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Question on “Word of the Week”

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The Word of the Week*…

is EXPECTATIONS!

Are we the products of our environment – or are we the products of expectations?

What do you think, ladies?

  • What societal expectations of you as an Afro-European woman shape the way you perceive your possibilities in life/your career?
  • What positive expectations (from family, your community or from within) empower you to combat any negative societal expectations you encounter?

~~

Find out more about The Other Wes Moore and Discovering Wes Moore!

~~

*Click the link to listen to this week’s podcast

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African Women and Girl Storytellers in the Digital Age

Are you familiar with the Kitchen Table Conversations? Initiated by Spectra – an award-winning Nigerian writer, women’s rights activist, storyteller, digital media consultant and philanthropist – these podcasts provide unexpected insight into the lives of activists, organizers and thought leaders.

To find out more about Kitchen Table Conversations, as well as learn more about an upcoming live podcast scheduled for March 13th focusing on Gender, Media and the African Diaspora, check out

Spectra Speaks: Our Voices. Our Stories. Our Revolution.

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The Word of the Week…

…is ASK!

In the beginning, I wondered how I would come up with a regular Word of the Week. One that was not only relevant enough for me to want to meditate on, but also relevant enough to want to share.

Once I put that question out to the universe, though, all I had to do was keep my mind and eyes open, and pay attention to the things I pay attention to…

A perfect example of the Biblical: „Ask and ye shall receive“.

I follow black American blogger and essayist Danielle Belton’s critically acclaimed blog, The Black Snob. A few days ago she announced that an essay she’s written – „The Problem with Marriage“ – is featured in an upcoming book called „Where Did Our Love Go“. Part of the chapter on divorce, Danielle’s essay focuses on a crucial weapon in the war being waged on what she calls „Forever-and-Ever-Amen“ marriage.

Instead of getting married at a fairly young age and figuring out how to best navigate the adult world together as a couple, people in Western society now go through a longer and longer phase where they are dependent mostly on themselves. A kind of “post-adolescence”, if you will.

Young people study longer, land their first jobs, set up a pension funds, travel, become property owners – all while they are still single. It’s expected that they spend time “discovering themselves” and taking life only on their own terms. They’re brought up the believe they should try to get their way in life, and feel perfectly within their rights to throw a tantrum if they don’t.

And – when you think about it – that’s what (esp. US) society rewards you for in the West: being (successfully) independent. Being “self-made”.

  • Think of the Republican slogan from the last US presidential election: “We built that”.
  • Think of the notion of the “creators” versus the “takers” who are only in it for “free stuff”
  • Think of the the ridicule of “The 47%”

But: What’s the flip side of that coin?

The virtues of consensus, compromise and compassion – while still alright for Sunday School or high school civics class – have become the trademark of losers. For mid-30-somethings taking their 1st stab at it, marriage becomes a battlefield, because neither party feels they can afford not to be right. Not to dominate 100% of the time. Not to win.

What does this have to do with the concept of “asking”, you wonder?

Late Sunday evening I settled in to watch a TEDTalk I had bookmarked. It’s by musician Amanda Palmer and is called “The Art of Asking”. In her talk, Amanda examines a new relationship between artist and fan. A new relationship that is reflect in everything from payment for gigs or music to where she and her band sleep on tour.

This admittedly has nothing to do with marriage, but it does have a lot to do with (the quality of) relationships – and control. Fighting to hold on to it versus trusting the universe enough to let it go.

The Germans have a saying: “People who speak (up) can be helped”

For many of us, though, asking for anything is a sign of weakness and failure. It shows we’re not the bright and shiny super-heroes we were taught to believe we need to be in order to succeed. Many of us would rather bite off our tongue than ask for anything, and – if we are honest with ourselves – we look down (at least a little) on people who do.

I can remember my first job in marketing. I was working on an international naming project for a line of sports attire. Part of my job was to do a legal pre-check for conflicting brand names in the trademark directory. And every single name we generated either had a direct hit or one so close even I knew our recommendation wouldn’t be legally viable. A few times my boss asked how things were going. “Fine!”, I assured him with as much fake optimism as I could muster.

Finally, on the day before we began to prepare the actual presentation, my boss wanted to see the list of names that had cleared the pre-check. As you can well imagine, my response hit that conference room like a bomb.

No, my boss didn’t yell and I wasn’t fired. But it was made clear to me, that by not asking for help, I lost the chance to get support from the team and jeopardized his opportunity to come up with the best way to manage our clients’ expectations in a timely fashion.

I’d like to say that incident cured me, and that I now know how (and when) to ask for help. But that’s still only partially true.

How would your life or relationship change if you trusted enough to ask for what you need?

Check out Danielle’s blog and Amanda’s video. Tell me what you think of them.

Share how you feel about asking…for anything!

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Be Soft

beautiful

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03/03/2013 · 03:03

Wednesday Wisdom

I thought I would change things up a bit this week, and meditate out loud about a question that has been following me around recently:

What is the best way to deal with negativity?

Sometimes we are so caught up in the flow of daily life, that outside influences don’t seem to pierce the shell of activity around us. But heaven forbid we stop long enough to catch our breath! Just like I used to seem doomed to come down with a bad cold the second I planned to actually take the weekend off to relax, now – when I slow down for a day or two – some negative issue gets under my skin. In need as I am of a brief physical and mental pause, it’s as though the level of inner tension and discomfort are taken up a notch or two instead of down by some issue either in my personal life or on the world stage.

It’s almost as though I am standing beside myself, too, watching myself as I amp up…

  • My inner monologue becomes increasingly resigned and bitter
  • I begin to question the “why” of current projects or – in extreme cases – my entire, primarily optimistic world view
  • My good personal habits begin to slide from reasonable and healthy back into the realm of “who cares?”

So what, I get off a pithy letter of complaint, write a searing blog post, or verbally go toe-to-toe with someone. What toll is my emotional reaction to this issue taking on me, and what is the price I pay to regain my equilibrium?

“I just don’t deal with the negativity. I can’t get involved in that side of it. I don’t understand it, and you can’t let it take away your life and what you are trying to do.” (Rick Pitino, basketball coach)

Because I am now able to observe myself, I feel more motivated to better understand why I automatically react the way I do. I’m also committed to finding ways to make my reaction to the negativity around me more effective and less self-destructive. Here are a few of the truths I’ve encountered so far:

  1. Make positivity your default setting. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in life, is that you usually find what you’re looking for. If you believe the world is basically a dark and dangerous place, and your fellow humans are all out to get you, your days will be chock-full of examples to confirm that hypothesis. It’s not that there aren’t other – decidedly positive – examples to at least balance out your pessimism, but you’ll overlook all of those as your eyes search out yet another headline about acts of senseless violence, corruption, misogyny & co. While it makes no sense to ignore the sad and bad news our world has to offer, by being open to the positive, we are not only protecting our personal well-being. We are also positioning ourselves to be an inspiration in the lives of those around us.
  2. Remain solution-oriented.  There’s nothing wrong with letting off steam from time to time, but if a lengthy rant is your only reaction to the negativity and injustice you encounter, what’s the point? All your Facebook rant is likely to accomplish is a jump in your blood pressure. Ask yourself instead how you can make a concrete contribution to a sustainable solution! Is there an organization you can support? Can you contribute your time, money or useful goods? Will adding your signature to a petition make a difference? These are only a few examples of how to turn your anger and frustration into actions that can really making a difference. And don’t forget that sometimes the small things (e.g. a hug or smile, a heart-felt “how are you?” coupled with an open ear) can go a really long way in your personal life!
  3. Realize you can’t do it all. Achieving any degree of change – whether in our personal lives or society as a whole – is a process that takes time. Lasting solutions are seldom achieved instantaneously. There will be phases during that process when you will neither have the time, strength nor peace-of-mind to make a meaningful contribution to the solution. Instead of beating yourself up for not being able to drop everything you’re doing right now to join that march, spend half the night talking to a friend during a break-up or launch a coup at work, realize that your contribution can only be as good as the quality of the energy you bring to the table. Tomorrow’s another day…

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