PAUSE: Free Flow Forum

“How do you stay so positive all the time?”

“You are always just a joy, don’t you have any down days?”

 “Everything must be perfect for you!”

“I wish I could be on a 24/7 high on life like you!”

So, we’re going to take a little break from the factors this week.  I had some really, really good stuff planned (even gave a little preview on my sister Sharon Brewster’s, Founder of the Outlet for Women, Facebook page) but there was something going on this week for a lot of people because I got a ton of inbox notes including the questions and commentary above.  I even met up with a friend who shared that someone asked her “Is Farah really as happy as she seems to be on Facebook?”  What really came out of all of this for me is that we, you and I, have more of an opportunity to learn more about each other.   So, consider this pause from the factors just a little free flow forum, more so than the usual, where you get more insight into who I am.

Now, to get to the question of am I as happy-go-lucky as you experience me here via LFF, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, in person?  WITHOUT A DOUBT YES!!!!  Is it a 24/7 happiness?  C’mon folks, I’m the founder of LFF but I didn’t lose my humanity in the process.  Yes, Farah Bernier is human!  Shocking, I know.  Here’s the deal though, what I’ve learned, and I have to thank good ole Boston College Half-Time Retreats for this, happiness is temporary-to be enjoyed, appreciated, and held on to for as long as possible.  Joy, however, is the key to the 24/7 experiences of happiness one of my more senior followers expressed desire in.

The reason this distinction between happiness and joy is so important to understand is that one thing with me is that I really am an “in the moment” kind of individual.  I love life and all that it brings, yes, even the challenges and the pain because they actually bring growth and strength.  I don’t know if this is a skill or just part of how I’m built, a long time ago, I just learned how to focus in on what is in the moment and appreciate every ounce of that.  So right now, I am truly, truly happy.  Blogging with a focus on helping others develop, reflect, and progress, however they define it for themselves, while growing in the process, myself, just makes me so happy.

Joy though, that’s when you can step back from a moment, look at your whole life picture, se the highs, the lows, the clarity, the incomprehensible confusing and rest in that it is truly all working out for your good and you are totally ok in all of it, built for it in fact.  See it?  Yup, that’s joy.

And yes, I definitely have my lows….still questioning?  Well, here’s the deal; by now, you know, or I think you know, I’m pretty obsessed with personal branding.  Those of you connected with me on Facebook may have even seen a recent post by superstar Veronica Chapman (CEO of My Crowning Jewel…check check check check check it out) where she noted Donald Trump needing to take one of my workshops J  Because of my passion around personal branding, I really do try to live and operate in a way that reinforces and strengthens my brand.  The key to that is consistency in the experiences others have with me.  No, no, no, this is not about putting up a front or a façade in any form or fashion!   Just as critical as consistency is authenticity (trying sooooo hard not to get into personal branding teaching mode right now).  Essentially, you just have to be true to who you are…just be real. What personal branding is about though, is being humble and strong enough to,(ready?)….brace yourselves, get over yourself and whatever is going on in your life, and focus on creating positive experiences that others can leave from you after an interaction and feel lifted up, not weighed down or diminished because of your choice of reveling in your problems.  Heavy, I know.  I’ll even say it, OUCH!

So about my lows?  Most definitely I have them, just like everyone else.  See you wouldn’t know that I recently had to say goodbye to my Uncle who’s gone on to be with The Lord and all I keep thinking about is his grand stature and his ever-gentle, subtle reassuring smile.  You also wouldn’t know that I was recently hurt by one who I really believed was a trustworthy and dear friend, whom I now have to confront about how I’ve felt slighted.  You also wouldn’t know that I have many around me who are going through some heavy stuff and there is nothing I can do to help accept just be there to help them laugh, give a gentle hug and believe for them that it’s all going to be ok when they can’t believe for themselves.

Am I hiding all of this? Not at all.  Do I just bottle everything in and not express any emotion?  Absolutely not.  My inner circle has been working overtime as I’ve needed a few “I just need to get this off my chest” sessions.  All that I am doing is balancing.  See, with my Uncle, for me, he’s gone too soon, but I am overwhelmed with joy just knowing that he is sooooooooooooooooooooooo happy right now.  I just know he’s up there and that smile is literally stretched ear to ear.  It actually warms my heart.  With the hurt from my friend, what are relationships but experiences across the spectrum of fabulous and downright painful?  The benefit there: I’ve got wisdom, and now can test how strong I really am in determining whether or not I’ll be an adult and have the conversation or cower and punk out because it will be a tough conversation.  As for the struggling around me, well, quite frankly, I just don’t get some of the things I have to watch folks go through-cancer, divorce, depression-I just don’t get it.  One thing that I believe though is that there’s a reason this is all around me and it must be because God sees me as able, even when I don’t, to lift their spirits when needed and spread the joy that He’s already given me.

Finally, just to be completely real with you, I am one who really operates under a faith that has never been disappointing.  No, this doesn’t mean that I just pray for everything, believe, and I get everything that I want.  What it means is that I believe that The One I believe in, always gives me what I need, when I need it, even when my when isn’t lined up with His when.  Yup, there are things that I’ve prayed and believed for that just haven’t come.  But all in due time and because of this, though sometimes disappointed and annoyed quite frankly, I know that it’s all working out for my good.  There are things that I asked for at 21 that I know that I know that I know that if I received when I was 21 or even just a little older, I’d be a hot mess!  One of my Pastors, Robyn Reese (remember that name because you’re about to hear about her in some pretty influential circles) once said to me, “Sweetie, if God showed you everything He has in store for you, it might literally kill you because you just could not even handle it.”  But with everything in due time, man oh man is this life turning out to be pretty fabulous!

So, yup, that’s me.  Hope this shed a little more light on who I am, what I’m about, how happy I really am, and how in the world I can be smiling all the time. And since I denied you a factor this week, I’ll leave you with a preview of the next: Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #16: Accepting Happiness and Committing to Joy.  More to come on!

Soundtrack of the week:  So, I’m not a singer, but I’m giving you a little bit of me today.  Enjoy!

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #15-Saying What You Mean and Meaning What You Say

I have always been a lover of words.   Growing up, inspired by the likes of Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou, I could read for hours and hours and hours.   Visiting my mom recently, I  found a book of poetry I’d won scholarships for in high school.  Behind all of this, I think what I really loved was the power to convey thoughts, feelings, emotions, and experiences through words, both simple and complex.  Also, I just always had a lot to say, but, as surprising as this may be for you, I wasn’t always comfortable speaking my thoughts.  I found more comfort in the power of written words over spoken words….my, how things have changed.

Connect with me for five minutes now and you’ll learn that I’ll talk to the wall if the wall will talk back….seriously.  I just love speaking with people, learning their story, coaching, and most of all, I love speaking on important aspect of personal and professional development.

DSC02773I just have a passion for using my voice and the words I choose to move people to action.

Now we all know that passion, without direction or purposeful intent, can be dangerous…it can get us into trouble .

So when it comes to words, the fabulously fierce understand the importance of saying what you mean and meaning what you say.  One of the best reinforcements of this important factor I’ve ever heard is

“I think words matter.  It’s worth the time to try to convey with precision, what you’re thinking and what you’re feeling.”  ~Massachusettes Governor Deval Patrick

The reason this is so essential is because we are relational beings and everything we say either adds value or takes away from the positive experience others can have with us.  There really can be no question to this. This is especially important as you also learn to discern your audiences.  What I mean by this is there are just a few that I can lay my guard completely down with in terms of how careful I’m being with what I say.  I love the reality of this because it’s so important.  The reality however, is that my inner circle (picture of inner circle) is really small but with them, I really can just say whatever is in my heart, whenever, however, and not have the risk of being misunderstood.  With others, not as close, again, discernment comes into play, which is totally ok, and actually, less about being guarded, and more about being intentional of getting across exactly what you mean, and yes, because we have to own our words, meaning what you say.

So, do you have something to address with someone, to communicate to a group, an email that you need to send that needs to be clear so nothing is misunderstood?  If so

1-Take the time to really think about what it is you are trying to get across?  What’s behind what you’re trying to get across…what do you mean?

2-What words do you know may be taken the wrong way if you are not clear with context and/or your intent?

3-What words do you know resonate?

4-What exactly will you say…yup write it, type it, practice saying it.

Then, just do it!

Be Fabulous! Be fierce! Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #14-Living Life to the Fullest

“Death is a tragic thing, only if you haven’t lived.” ~Tyler Perry’s Family That Preys

Ok ladies…

Here we are, month two of 2013 and interestingly enough, it is time to take a little step back and think to the very beginning of the year.  As a reminder, here at LFF we focused on challenging new year’s resolutions with the commitment to being WIPs-Works in Process (check out the 12.30.12 post for a refresher).  Some of you have reached out sharing some of your progress, which is fabulous!  Some have shared some hiccups to the progress, which is natural by the way, and unfortunately, have pulled out of the process.

For instance, someone shared that at the beginning of the year, she made a commitment to taking more time for herself in an effort to gain more balance and because she’s gotten to a place of more financial stability than she’s ever had in the past, she was going to plan monthly, three-day getaways, a quarter at a time. So, she started to plan for Q1 with a January adventure, was distracted and never did it and all of a sudden, it’s not important to start looking into February…HER BIRTHMONTH BY THE WAY!!!!  Yup, totally putting you on blast…you know who you are.  Now I’m being a bit tough but here’s the reality….one month of delay can turn to two, which turns to half a year, another year, and then we’re 25, 35, 45 55 etc talking about the things we thought we were going to do and never did…the goals we wanted to accomplish, and never did….the impact we wanted to have, and never set ourselves up to.  Then ultimately, time lessens its patience with us and we depart, never having lived the life we knew we were purposed to live.

Now, this is going to get a little dark, but stay with me and I promise it’s going to get real good…

A former colleague of mine was the daughter of a very well-to do mortician who shared that she learned very early on that death was just part of life and though loss was always hard to deal with, it was part of the living experience. Unfortunately, a few of those close to me have lost loved ones early in this new year but every single one of them has had a certain peace about their loss like this colleague of mine.  When I think about each of them and their responses when I shared my condolensces, it’s really because they could look back over the life of the individual they’d lost and see that they had truly lived life to the fullest that they were truly ok.

My grandmother passed years ago but her death was as much of an inspiration as her strength, wit, and grace in life.  She definitely knew her time was up and her last words were,

“God has blessed me with a good life, a caring husband who was with me until his last days, three beautiful daughters, six gracious grandchildren, I am satisfied.”

I am satisfied…her last three words inspired a poem I wrote for my mom to help her through the loss as a reflection of what I believe my grandmother would have said to her. I share this to say that when my grandmother passed at 92, she was satisfied and we knew it because she lived her life to the fullest, for her, and so all we could do was celebrate her life…we didn’t fall apart as if her death was tragic, it was an inspiration.

Now, I realize this is a bit heavy and ok a little morbid but the major thing to take away from this is that we have to live our lives to the fullest.  Our departure from this earth is only tragic if we don’t.  So, today, my question to you is what does living life to the fullest mean to you?

Just think about you for a minute. No comparison to anyone else or consideration for what the world would say living life to the fullest is.  What does living life to the fullest mean to you?

Once you’ve identified that, paint the picture through words.  Yes, get to the journal and just pen it out.  List every detail of this full picture for you.

Next, clearly make note of

1. What’s keeping you from that life right now?

2. What’s in your control to limit the impact of these obstacles for you?

3. What will you do this week to begin living that picture for you?

Finally, just do it!!!!  I know I am!!!!

Instead of a soundtrack of the week, let’s go for a video clip.  See, I think Ellen Degeneres went through this process in some form or fashion and determined that part of her living life to the fullest included dancing whenever she felt moved to.  She must’ve pictured what that would look like, and now she gets a full audience to join her in dancing every day she goes to work!  And she didn’t even stop there, she extended her brand to SYTYCD and is now a “dance legend”!  So, if nothing else, go ahead, dance!