How people think they should network vs What really works

I went to a networking event recently. It was basically a group of queer entrepreneurs and techies at a mixer promoting an upcoming SXSW panel.

I was not on my networking game this night. I was feeling pretty shy and unsure how to start a conversation with any one of the clique groups I saw standing about. Did they all know each other? Probably not, but that’s what I thought at the time.

Eventually I found some people I knew. I hovered around them awkwardly for a bit. A lady came over who knew the people I was hanging around and she started talking to me. She asked me what I do, but I could tell she was not invested in what I had to say. As soon as she could, she told me: what she did, what she could do to further my business and brand, she told me her name and asked me to connect with her on social media. She said she’d love to help me and loves helping small businesses.

She talked about her. She was trying to meet and greet in the most efficient way possible, by numbers. I didn’t remember her. I didn’t remember her name, until she found and friended me on Facebook a few days later.

I accepted.

Why? Because I also have something to sell to her. But we will probably never do business.

So what did she do wrong? Why was I not sold on her value proposition?

I don’t trust her. I don’t know her. She was not interested in me and she was not interesting or passionate enough for me to be interested in her and the products or services she is selling.

Here’s what she should have done:

  • Been engaged in what I was saying to her
  • Ask questions or for more information
  • Demonstrate other ways she could offer value to me other than selling her service
    • for example offering to promote my brand to her friends
    • sharing my events
    • liking my page right then and there
    • offer something unique
      • you are selling a service that others sell
      • what is different about the service you are offering?
      • is it cheaper? better quality? faster? innovative? more effective?
    • Talk about something other than work
      • asking what you do and what someone else does is not a good way to network
      • ask instead what they like to do
      • then you will hear about their passions instead of their responsibilities
      • if what they like to do involves what they do for work, you have a winner, a real passion chaser, these are the ones you want to connect with
    • Share personal stories, create trust where there is none, and establish that you trust them
      • trust builds trust
      • no one trusts someone who does not trust them
      • say something personal about yourself, make yourself vulnerable
      • it immediately establishes that you trust them, that you are putting faith in them to protect you in some way, whether it is to protect a secret, an embarrassment, or comforting you in a hardship, you are placing value in them by entrusting them with this personal story

Lez Prom- A second chance for Austin’s LGBTQ-mmunity

Many lesbians were unable or chose not to attend their own proms. They were afraid to take the person they really wanted. They would not fit in wearing a cross gendered outfit. They could not be themselves openly. Today, although more high schools are welcoming of LGBT youth, many still feel uncomfortable and unsafe dressing as they want to or being able to fully represent themselves in public. It is for all these women, including myself, that I created Austin’s first lesbian adult prom. Lez Prom 2016 welcomed all self identified women to dance, kiss, and dress as they liked.

Not only were they welcomed but they were at home among other women who like women. It feels good to be with people you share an understanding with, an identity.

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I attended my own high school prom both years as a straight cisgendered female. In my junior year at prom time I was single but I still wanted to go, so I did. I attended prom with a group of 10 of my closest friends. I took a guy friend to my senior prom, there was no romantic spark but I really did not want to go alone that year.

I was not “out” in high school because I did not know myself to be gay at that time. It’s not something I was hiding or struggling with. I came out much later in life in my mid-20s, this was my second chance.

My chance to dress up again. My chance to go back to high school on my terms. My chance to dance all night, on one special night, with someone I love.

Not only was I able to enjoy this, but I was surrounded by a group of two hundred women experiencing the same. Looking around I saw people enjoying life in the same way I do.

Lez Prom welcomed all women and had a diverse audience represented by queers aged 18-65. Some came to feel beautiful, others came to celebrate romance. There were lesbians, bisexuals, transexuals, asexuals, and drag kings in attendance.

This evening allowed everyone to dress as they are and how they feel. They dressed to represent themselves. They dressed to show others who they really are, to represent their gender identity. And they were never questioned.

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All were accepted here. No judgement. No questions. No second looks, just second chances.

Lez Prom promoted a zero bullying policy, but no issues ever arose. All bathrooms were labeled with colorful “gender neutral” signs and no one looked twice at the formal choice of an attendee. No one had to worry about their safety, about being gawked at, talked about, or mocked.

Throughout the night entertainers from the LGBT community performed. The stage saw live music from Stella Cottrell, performances from Austin’s only drag king troupe- a gender bending lip syncing group of guys, saucy burlesque and stunning aerial numbers.

The night’s entertainment culminated in the competition and crowning of Lez Prom King & Queen 2016. Members from the audience were selected as they volunteered to compete for either award. Whoever you want to be and declare yourself as is who we take you to be here. You can be a king or a queen in a dress. 

I was so happy to see the turnout of nearly 200 women on this Valentine’s eve in Austin. The diversity of the audience assured me that all felt welcome here. I created this event for women, all women, to feel safe, to dance, to dress themselves up so they felt beautiful, to come with who they wanted, and to kiss freely, openly, and gayly.

I want to thank ALL of you. You are beautiful. And you are loved.

PORN: What is it good for? Absolutely something.

I recently attended the inaugural talk of the Sexceptional Lecture Series organized by the Southwest Sexual Health Alliance. This series is being hosted in Austin, Texas and invites sexperts to speak on a range of topics including pornography, pleasure, orgasms, sexual shame, libido, kink, female sexuality, and self-acceptance. The objective of the series is overcoming fear, shame, and sexual misinformation. The series is aimed at sexual health professionals (e.g. counselors and therapists) but is accessible and highly interesting for the lay sex nerd (pun intended). It feels safe here.

The room at the Austin Center, where the event was hosted, was quite lively… actually, it was rather loud. Despite being filled with professionals who, for money, sit quietly and say “hmmmm,” they seemed a social bunch. A colorful, open, friendly group. These were my kind of people. I appreciated the visual feast of pastel hair and patterned pantsuits. I don’t think shame could enter here. It is the only thing not welcomed by this group.Our speaker was Dr. David Ley, a well known therapist, author, and public speaker on sexual and mental health issues. The talk began with a history of porn. Dr. Ley showed images from pre-history, including the oldest known cave art depicting sexual acts. The images were shocking, exaggerated, abstract, and heterosexual.

porn1

It piqued my interest to see these early, unfamiliar depictions of human sexuality. I had heard of Venus figurines and other fertility representations from my academic studies in anthropology, but these usually showed only the female form with exaggerated femininity. I was not aware that sexual acts between two people were depicted this far back in our history. Fascinating. Dr. Ley coined a term for these images “petroporn.”

porn2

It was unclear why this history was relevant to the discussion of modern porn’s influence on everyday life, but I was happy Dr. Ley included these images. He went on to show other early forms of porn. The first of what you could call “pornographic” films were released in 1896. One was by Thomas Edison depicting a kiss, and the other, “Le Coucher de la Marie,” was more sordid. Before these films were released displays of sexuality and love were confined entirely to the private sphere—the bedroom and the home. There were no public displays of affection. Coy was in. Imagine you had never seen a dick before… and then you watched the film Brüno, starring Sacha Baron Cohen. It would feel like that. Whatever you felt when you saw Bruno’s dick swinging in a circle must have been what it felt like to see two people kissing on the screen in 1896. Shocking. Unfathomable. Repulsive. And probably some fainting would have been involved.

bruno

We have come far. A kiss is not shocking. We actually find it delightful and heartwarming… at least I do. But how far have we really come? Sex in the media is still highly regulated. Porn is illegal in many countries. We have a ratings system for Hollywood movies and control who is allowed to see content we deem explicit. But who has decided this? Is this censorship? The production of sexually explicit material is even more regulated. Currently, you can only legally shoot an adult film in California, Nevada, and New Hampshire (kind of). All this regulation around sex displayed in media indicates our discomfort about these subjects. And this lack of comfort, openness, and acceptance of ourselves as sexual beings has led to widespread shame and secrecy. What is accepted by he majority is that your sex life is to be kept confidential and private.

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Humans have a long and complex history with sexual material. We have been making and consuming it since the paleolithic era and although most people acknowledge that it is part of the human experience, we each, on a very individual and personal level, have trouble accepting our own use of it. This is the fundamental question Dr. Ley addresses in this lecture. How can counselors and therapists address the shame and guilt experienced by their clients? How can an individual overcome their own prejudices toward porn and its related ethics?

Dr. Ley says people have always been afraid of sex. It is viewed as dirty, unsafe, unclean, and addictive. People also have many conceptions of what porn is and what it does to people.

Here are some of those beliefs:

  • Porn objectifies women.
  • It leads to violence.
  • It creates sexual predators.
  • It feeds pedophiles.
  • It creates unrealistic expectations of sexual experience.
  • It creates sex addicts.
  • It creates fetishes.
  • It feeds promiscuity.
  • It causes sex crimes.
  • It is responsible for sexual violence.

These are the prejudices, fears, and misinformation that encircle the word “porn”. These are the concepts that are important for counselors and therapists to acknowledge when taking care of the needs of a client. Which of these beliefs outlined above do you carry? Are there other associations you have with porn?

Something I find interesting is the discrepancy between how strongly I feel my conceptions to be true and what can be proven. The overlap is mostly always minimal. 😦 What I know is rarely known by others.

Shame and fear regarding sex affects women more than men. One of the greatest fears for both genders is being judged for our sexual desires and fantasies.

670px-Create-a-Fantasy-Character-Name-Step-3-Version-2We do not feel comfortable sharing our fantasies with others for fear of not being accepted by others. Porn is appealing because it validates our fantasies and desires.

Women and men have different fears when engaging in sex. What women fear most is being judged about their body. They struggle with body image, acceptance, and feeling sexy or worthy of being a sexual partner. They worry they are not desirable. Not wanted. These feelings are strong and can be triggered easily and unintentionally by a partner. If this sounds like something you have struggled with it is beneficial to have a conversation with your partner about these fears and anxieties. Even better is if you are able to recognize when and how your anxieties around sex are triggered. Has there been a time when your partner said something that killed the mood? Do you need to be dressed sexily to be ready for sex? What are your pre-requisites? Do you know those of your partner?

The greatest fear men have when facing a sexual encounter is related to performance. They fear they will be unable to give their partner the greatest pleasure—the orgasm. This is particularly true if their partner is female.

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The female orgasm seems to be more elusive and is not indicated by obvious fluid release. Knowing this, how could you help your partner with his or her anxieties? Have you talked about what you like? What turns you on? What have been the circumstances and sexual actions that usually lead to an orgasm?One of my greatest and most personal fears is fear of the unknown. Of not knowing what is to come. Of not being able to predict situations, people, and my own future. How I have dealt with this fear is by asking questions. Of reading. Of trying to know more. And it has helped. But surprisingly one of the things I never asked questions about or even thought to try to know better was the sexual preferences, desires, fears, and anxieties of my partner. I don’t know why this is. I imagine it is related to culture and upbringing.Sex was never talked about in my own house. I never had an open-ended conversation about sex with any of my partners. Sex was never intimidating for me, but I know it often is for others. And no wonder. We are all just taking risks and trying things without having any idea of what will work. We wander aimlessly around our genitals. We are lost. What surprised me the most when I started this blog was the number of things in my life I never asked about or questioned. Of these things, sex was the largest uncharted territory.Starting a dialogue with my partner at the time, over a year ago, led to many personal and relationship changes. The exploration of my own sexuality and preferences. A paradigm shift away from monogamy. And many revelations about myself and about my partner. Many shifts took place. I have learned so much. And it began with a few questions and conversations on my own therapy couch.Here’s a few good questions to start a dialogue with your partner about sex:

  • What are your fears or anxieties surrounding sex?
  • What has been your most enjoyable sexual encounter with me? What do you think made that time most memorable?
  • What turns you on? About me?
  • What makes you feel confident and sexy?
  • What kinds of content turn you on? Do you watch porn or read erotica? What situations or attributes turn you on most?
  • What is your ideal sexual encounter? Start to finish, describe in detail.
  • What sex acts do you like the most? And the least?
  • What are your boundaries or no-go zones?
  • Are you interested in exploring kink?
  • Do you have any fantasies you could share with me?

Through this conversation you will discover many things about your partner. Your partner is exposing themselves to you in a big way. It is a huge step. You will both feel very vulnerable. The only way to quell each other’s fears and anxieties is by first, acknowledging them, and second, accepting them. These, Dr.Ley says are the most important steps. The only real way to overcome our inbred feelings of guilt and shame.Don’t do this lightly. Or give yourself too much credit. It is not enough to say “I love you and accept you.” Are you still secretly judging your partner in your head? They will be able to tell. And this will break the trust they gave to you. It is so important to maintain this trust with your partner when discussing uncomfortable subjects. It’s all you have. Try not to judge. Try to resist imposing morals on them based on how you feel about their fantasies or desires. One of the hardest things in a relationship is trusting your partner with the most personal pieces of information: your fantasies, pleasure, needs, and desires. There is no wrong or unhealthy sexual behavior or fantasy.We all experience the need to hide our sexual lives both from the world and even from our sexual partners. We feel embarrassed to talk about it. Shame regarding our secret preferences and fantasies. We fear rejection. We fear that we are not normal. That others will not understand and accept our viewing of pornographic material, especially if that material exhibits kink or other taboo engagements.

kinkPorn is part of our daily experience. Even if you don’t watch porn visually or experience erotica in a book. You are exposed to pornographic content in movies, advertisements, and by your partners. Porn and sex can make us feel uncomfortable. It is especially difficult to trust another with your sexual secrets.Dr. Ley offered two key pieces of advice for how to overcome our guilt, shame, and fear surrounding sex and porn. The first is to acknowledge. Acknowledge what you are feeling, what your partner is feeling, and acknowledge that the consumption of porn is natural and widespread. Second, acceptance. Accept what your partner shares with you. Accept their preferences, desires, fantasies, and kinks. This does not mean that you agree to fulfill or engage in anything… it just means you accept them as a unique sexual being. Acceptance means you will not call them weird and will not judge them. Accept who they are so you can also receive acceptance.The only way to eliminate guilt is to eliminate how we view the guilt-inducing act. We only feel guilty when we feel we are doing something wrong… something we shouldn’t be doing for whatever reason. The only way to eliminate shame is to remove the arbitrary judgements/ethics/morals that surround the act we feel shame about. If you were my child and I told you every day of your life that eating ice cream was wrong and that God hates people who eat ice cream, you would not eat it. If you did eat, if you gave into that temptation, you would feel many things. ice-cream-cone-of-shameGuilt, shame, and fear of getting in trouble. But only because I had set this up in your head. I had created these reactions because of what I taught you about right and wrong. Let’s reteach. Let’s fuck things up. Why should we accept the un-acceptance of ourselves as sexual beings. Why shouldn’t we talk about sex? It fascinates us all. ALL you have to do is acknowledge first and accept second.Resources:

Kelsey Obsession *explicit content*
Image Credits:

How to be fearless & the most powerful words I ever spoke

Faye Hello…

I was not born Fearless. Not by surname, birthright, or character. It did not come by enlightenment or tragedy. It was not given. It was taken. Like most of you I was made fun of growing up. Children love criticizing anything unique in the individual. When you are young, homogeny is the goal. I remember this. I remember not wanting to be seen or noticed, except by my teachers. Teachers were safe.

But I did stand out. And there was no way to avoid it. Part of the problem was the frizzy carrot that sat on top of my head. The brown sprinkles covering my body didn’t help. Neither did being from away. I was not an athlete, PE was my doom. And I was in band. Yep, band. Many years before American Pie I made an arbitrary decision to play the flute. And I have never heard the end of it since. Fortunately, I don’t care. About any of it.

I love myself.
I love my ginger hair.
I love my paleness.
I love my brown sprinkles.

I truly, indulgently enjoy being me.
And that is worth most of all.

 

The 5 Steps to Fearlessness

 

1) Own who you are right now. Own your body. Own yourself.

I used to live and work at sea. I was often the only woman on board the ship. At this point in my life I was slightly overweight. One day a fellow crew member started heckling me about my body. He was telling me I shouldn’t be eating so many deserts because I was not thin and would regret it. What happened next shocked everyone, including myself.

“You know what…”, I said  “I like my body.”

The air was silent for a few moments.

“Well go eat some bon bons then,” He said. “I don’t even know what a bon bon is!”

That day I was awakened. I realized that I loved myself as I came. I accepted the body I had. His words faded and I remained.

When you stop judging yourself others stop judging you.

What else could he have done in this situation? He was trying to exert dominance over me. He tried to shame me into thinking I was not good enough. That I needed to be more, actually that I needed to be less. He failed. He held me up to his standard and I did not meet it.

He tried to take my power. He attempted to boost himself by climbing over me. But I cannot be overpowered. I am not weak.

 

2) Don’t fear people who are different from you.

Actively find and invite into your life persons of many backgrounds. Get to know them intimately. Ask them why they make their decisions. Ask them how they see the world. Ask them about their hardships. Ask them how they grew up, what they were taught, and what they believe. Soak it in

If someone’s lifestyle, values, and beliefs don’t conform to the narrow set we grew up they are judged.

It sounds like this…

“I live my life right and you live your life differentlyYou are wrong, you must be.”

My values are what I have known. Therefore, they are the way things should be. We have trouble conceiving that someone else’s values could be “morally” right. This is because we only see the world through the lens of our own experiences.

The way things should be. There are many ways to be, none are right.

I recommend seeking them out.

Start collecting people for your Arc of Acceptance…

  • Ethnicities
  • Nationalities
  • Education Backgrounds
  • Grew up in other states than you
  • Live an alternative lifestyle
  • LGBT+
  • Religions
  • Political Beliefs
  • Values
  • Beliefs
  • Ethics
  • Interests/Hobbies

 

3) Don’t be afraid to be seen and heard.

How often are you noticed? How often are you overlooked? Which do you prefer. Confidence gives you the freedom to be bold and unashamed. If you’re not offending someone you are not living as you. Learn to be bold.

Here’s how to start…

Read aloud. Sounds simple, but It’s harder than that. You’ll see.

Sing aloud. You probably already do this alone. Start singing aloud in your car with friends. When you’re at home and have a song stuck in your head, sing it don’t hymn it.

Dance. Just dance. Do it in your living room. In your underwear. In the club. Don’t worry about if anyone else is around.

“Why would I do these things? I feel like I’m going to embarrass myself.” Reading aloud is good for your comprehension. So there’s that. But also, what you are doing is taking small bold steps. You’re starting to be seen and heard more. It may not feel good at first. But it builds. Another benefit of being seen and heard is you will quickly find out who supports your boldness and new found confidence. Are your friends or roomies giving you weird looks? Are they putting you down? Are they uncomfortable with a more confident you? If so, drop them. They are trying to liquefy you into chicken soup for their soul. Don’t be chicken soup.

Making someone else uncomfortable does not mean you are doing something wrong. It just means you are doing something different.

 

4) Do not fear silence.

Magical things happen in silence. Sometimes they are scary. Sometimes enlightening. Take the risk.

I realized a few months ago that my entire day was filled with noise. Funny enough, I only came to this realization after sitting in silence by a stream in the woods. I had been actively avoiding silence for years. I would wake up and get ready for the day. This usually included a shower. The sound of water has always soothed me. Sometimes it would also include talking to roommates. I would come downstairs and the first thing I would do would be turn on the squeezebox and play a pandora station. I got anxious if the music didn’t get turned on quick enough. If I asked my roommate to turn the music on and he/she took more than a few minutes to do so, I would become mad.

I would listen to music all day. I would listen while I worked. I would listen while I read. I would listen while I drove. When I wasn’t listening to music I was watching a show. So when was I thinking? The noise drowns out the noise in my head. I was never able to hear myself. Never able to hear my own voice. I was drowned in un-original voices.

I never gave a thought to how few thoughts I was giving. 

Don’t be afraid to be alone with yourself. It can change everything.

If you try nothing else, then just try this. Read in silence. Write in silence. And listen to yourself.

 

5) Do not fear growth and change.

Make a home with people who free you. Your friends should encourage the craziness of you. Take stock of the people you spend time with. Start with a list of the five, don’t include family. What do they have in common? Do they live similar lives? Marriage, kids, 9-5? Do they come from similar backgrounds? Are they homogenized? By homogenized I mean is there an expectation to be alike. How would your social circle respond to a new person in your life or a new passion? Is growth encouraged? Or is stagnation and “contentment” expected? If this group is homogenized, do you aspire to the lives they live? Is it truly what you want for yourself and your family? If it’s not, get out now. Seriously. Even if you resist they will indoctrinate you to their standard.

Think about what you are giving up to be part of the whole. You are giving up everything. A whole you for a partial them.

That’s a bad trade.

Up until now you have lived. Maybe you have felt like you haven’t been able to control the direction your life has gone. Things have just happened to you, probably some bad and terrible things, hopefully many good things too. All the circumstances that have led you to here and all the people who have affected you will remain. They are part of the story. They have shaped you. You cannot change who you are in this moment, but you can take control from here.

Stand with me, stand with other women, and say…

“If I am not the me I want to be, that is okay, but just for today. Tomorrow that me will fade away” – Faye Fearless

How to be fearless & the most powerful words I ever spoke

Faye Hello…

I was not born Fearless. Not by surname, birthright, or character. It did not come by enlightenment or tragedy. It was not given. It was taken. Like most of you I was made fun of growing up. Children love criticizing anything unique in the individual. When you are young, homogeny is the goal. I remember this. I remember not wanting to be seen or noticed, except by my teachers. Teachers were safe.

But I did stand out. And there was no way to avoid it. Part of the problem was the frizzy carrot that sat on top of my head. The brown sprinkles covering my body didn’t help. Neither did being from away. I was not an athlete, PE was my doom. And I was in band. Yep, band. Many years before American Pie I made an arbitrary decision to play the flute. And I have never heard the end of it since. Fortunately, I don’t care. About any of it.

faye young

I love myself.
I love my ginger hair.
I love my paleness.
I love my brown sprinkles.

 

I truly, indulgently enjoy being me.
And that is worth most of all.

 

 

The 5 Steps to Fearlessness

1) Own who you are right now. Own your body. Own yourself.

I used to live and work at sea. I was often the only woman on board the ship. At this point in my life I was slightly overweight. One day a fellow crew member started heckling me about my body. He was telling me I shouldn’t be eating so many deserts because I was not thin and would regret it. What happened next shocked everyone, including myself.

“You know what…”, I said  “I like my body.”

The air was silent for a few moments.

“Well go eat some bon bons then,” He said. “I don’t even know what a bon bon is!”

That day I was awakened. I realized that I loved myself as I came. I accepted the body I had. His words faded and I remained.

When you stop judging yourself others stop judging you.

What else could he have done in this situation? He was trying to exert dominance over me. He tried to shame me into thinking I was not good enough. That I needed to be more, actually that I needed to be less. He failed. He held me up to his standard and I did not meet it.

He tried to take my power. He attempted to boost himself by climbing over me. But I cannot be overpowered. I am not weak.

Image Credit: Pillsbury.com

 

2) Don’t fear people who are different from you.

Actively find and invite into your life persons of many backgrounds. Get to know them intimately. Ask them why they make their decisions. Ask them how they see the world. Ask them about their hardships. Ask them how they grew up, what they were taught, and what they believe. Soak it in

If someone’s lifestyle, values, and beliefs don’t conform to the narrow set we grew up they are judged.

It sounds like this…

“I live my life right and you live your life differentlyYou are wrong, you must be.”

My values are what I have known. Therefore, they are the way things should be. We have trouble conceiving that someone else’s values could be “morally” right. This is because we only see the world through the lens of our own experiences.

The way things should be. There are many ways to be, none are right.

I recommend seeking them out.

Start collecting people for your Arc of Acceptance…

  • Ethnicities
  • Nationalities
  • Education Backgrounds
  • Grew up in other states than you
  • Live an alternative lifestyle
  • LGBT+
  • Religions
  • Political Beliefs
  • Values
  • Beliefs
  • Ethics
  • Interests/Hobbies

Image Credit: Love Actually (2003) Universal Studios

 

3) Don’t be afraid to be seen and heard.

How often are you noticed? How often are you overlooked? Which do you prefer. Confidence gives you the freedom to be bold and unashamed. If you’re not offending someone you are not living as you. Learn to be bold.

Here’s how to start…

Read aloud. Sounds simple, but It’s harder than that. You’ll see.

Sing aloud. You probably already do this alone. Start singing aloud in your car with friends. When you’re at home and have a song stuck in your head, sing it don’t hymn it.

Dance. Just dance. Do it in your living room. In your underwear. In the club. Don’t worry about if anyone else is around.

“Why would I do these things? I feel like I’m going to embarrass myself.” Reading aloud is good for your comprehension. So there’s that. But also, what you are doing is taking small bold steps. You’re starting to be seen and heard more. It may not feel good at first. But it builds. Another benefit of being seen and heard is you will quickly find out who supports your boldness and new found confidence. Are your friends or roomies giving you weird looks? Are they putting you down? Are they uncomfortable with a more confident you? If so, drop them. They are trying to liquefy you into chicken soup for their soul. Don’t be chicken soup.

Making someone else uncomfortable does not mean you are doing something wrong. It just means you are doing something different.

Image Credit: peregrinereads.org

 

4) Do not fear silence.

Magical things happen in silence. Sometimes they are scary. Sometimes enlightening. Take the risk.

I realized a few months ago that my entire day was filled with noise. Funny enough, I only came to this realization after sitting in silence by a stream in the woods. I had been actively avoiding silence for years. I would wake up and get ready for the day. This usually included a shower. The sound of water has always soothed me. Sometimes it would also include talking to roommates. I would come downstairs and the first thing I would do would be turn on the squeezebox and play a pandora station. I got anxious if the music didn’t get turned on quick enough. If I asked my roommate to turn the music on and he/she took more than a few minutes to do so, I would become mad.

I would listen to music all day. I would listen while I worked. I would listen while I read. I would listen while I drove. When I wasn’t listening to music I was watching a show. So when was I thinking? The noise drowns out the noise in my head. I was never able to hear myself. Never able to hear my own voice. I was drowned in un-original voices.

I never gave a thought to how few thoughts I was giving. 

Don’t be afraid to be alone with yourself. It can change everything.

If you try nothing else, then just try this. Read in silence. Write in silence. And listen to yourself.

Lee Family-157 copy

4) Do not fear growth and change.

Make a home with people who free you. Your friends should encourage the craziness of you. Take stock of the people you spend time with. Start with a list of the five, don’t include family. What do they have in common? Do they live similar lives? Marriage, kids, 9-5? Do they come from similar backgrounds? Are they homogenized? By homogenized I mean is there an expectation to be alike. How would your social circle respond to a new person in your life or a new passion? Is growth encouraged? Or is stagnation and “contentment” expected? If this group is homogenized, do you aspire to the lives they live? Is it truly what you want for yourself and your family? If it’s not, get out now. Seriously. Even if you resist they will indoctrinate you to their standard.

Think about what you are giving up to be part of the whole. You are giving up everything. A whole you for a partial them.

That’s a bad trade.

Up until now you have lived. Maybe you have felt like you haven’t been able to control the direction your life has gone. Things have just happened to you, probably some bad and terrible things, hopefully many good things too. All the circumstances that have led you to here and all the people who have affected you will remain. They are part of the story. They have shaped you. You cannot change who you are in this moment, but you can take control from here.

Stand with me, stand with other women, and say…

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