Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #52-Protecting Your Happy

You know, Taylor Swift is a pretty cool rising star!!!  I’m going to be honest-I don’t qualify as one of her biggest fans…I don’t know all of her songs…I don’t know a whole lot about her beyond what I see in magazine ads, quick posts from others and awards events here and there.  What I do know is that every time I happen to catch a glimpse of an interview with this fabulous young woman or an interesting video, or cool tweet from her to the entire BC Community,


she leaves a simple yet powerful message from a place of inner assuredness and confidence…..and I LOVE IT!!!!

This past week, I was traveling and in NYC for a bit.  When I’m traveling, mornings are pretty quick for me-getting ready and preparing for the day.  Usually, I have music or the television on for background sound.  This past week, while staying in one of the hotels in Times Square that affords you the smallest rooms for the most outrageous prices, I was in the shower and could hear the television right outside the door.  Taylor was on being interviewed.  I’m not sure who was interviewing her but they got to the topic of dating and asked her why she’s so opposed to dating and having “someone special” in her life.  She chuckled a bit and shared that she actually wasn’t any of these things….”I just really love my life, and everything that it entails.  That being said, I’ve come to a place in my life where I’m just really protective of my happy.  That’s just really important to me….more than focusing on trying to get that special someone in my life.”

All I could think was “Yesssssssssss”!  She said it so perfectly!  And what an important thing for anyone to give thought and energy to in what we know to be just one shot at life.  So this got me thinking, of course!  How important it is for us to protect our happy, especially in a world where one minute you can be listening to this wonderful message form a beautiful young lady to an interruption with “Breaking News….new updates on the ebola virus.”

So, where do we go from here?  How do we actually protect our happy?  Well…..

1-Choose to be happy…or whatever it is you want to be.  A lot of my most memorable lessons go back to my time as an Eagle on the Heights on Boston College.  One of the biggest things I remember learning was that happiness is temporary but joy, joy is everlasting.  Whatever you choose as your state of mind and consistent mode of operating, happiness, joy, peace, whatever it is, just make a decision as to what it is.  For me, joy just resonates more than happiness.  I just feel that for me, joy just has a deeper meaning and comes from more of an inner self-awareness that then allows us to take on situations and experiences that can make us happy for a moment or a season.  Either way, just choose and commit to that decision.

What might that sound like?  Well, for me, I have decided to be and take joy in everything, understanding that even in tough situations, I don’t have to change this perspective, but I can change the circumstance with my outlook on happiness and joy.  Choose.

2-Decide who will be invited and encouraged to benefit from and contribute to your happy.  We all know that the company we keep tells a great deal about us. Our company influences us and how we experience life.  Taylor also explained how she decided to host an album preview party with her greatest fans, people she had selected from social media…AT HER HOUSE!!!  The interviewers were shocked asking “who let’s their fans into their home.”  She explained that these were the folks she could tell were just for her and had contributed to her success….and her happiness, so she decided they would be invited into her space, into her happy, and encouraged to benefit from it.  Whoa!

Simple lesson, right?  But how many of us keep company that just isn’t good for us…either because we feel bad about shifting our focus from them elsewhere or because we are afraid to let go for fear that they may be the best we’re going to get.  Another lesson from my BC days from Dr. Brenda Brown to a group of us on a retreat-“you are not so unworthy of friendship that you have to accept any excuse for it!”  Now, I’m not suggesting cutting people off left and right here, but, I do encourage you to decide who will be in your circle?  Decide.  Don’t let others decide for you.

3-Eliminate detractors to your happy.  I don’t believe this point needs much belaboring but here, my friends, I just remind you that life is way too short to allow people, circumstances and situations to detract from your happy.  Some of us have friends we need to let go of.  Some of us have to let that guy who really isn’t lifting us up out of our way.  Some of us may need to walk away from a current position and look for a new job to fulfill our purpose.  I could go on and on but all I’m getting at here is that if there are people, situations and/or circumstances that are not contributing to your happy, again, don’t go cutting people off left and right or just quitting a job, but start thinking about how to shift your focus so that you proactively eliminate the detractors to your happy.

4-Live Fabulously Fierce!!!-Protecting your happy is all about making your life what you want it to be…discovering every day what makes you you and how fabulous that is…defining how you want to exist in this world based on your revealed purpose….committing to living a life of distinction….living…fabulously…fierce!

Protect your happy and for anything that doesn’t hold you true to that?  Well…of course, just Shake it Off!

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #51-Dressing from Within

As of late, I have been overwhelmingly inundated with opportunities for self-reflection, development, and increased self-awareness….and I say this with such gratitude and appreciation for it all.  Over the course of the past month or so, I’ve participated in various company-sponsored workshops, completed the last module of my coaching certification program through the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching , and attended Oprah’s Live the Life You Want Tour!

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I have just been in “reaching higher heights” overdrive and it has been absolutely fabulous!!!  My struggle in the midst of all of this with everything that I took away from each experience was what do I share and how do I articulate it.  This afternoon though, as I finally go to my September issue of Essence, Editor-in-Chief, Ms. Vanessa K. Bush, put perfectly into words what my greatest takeaway from all these experiences was: “is it emotionally healthy to be so obsessed with how things appear on the outside that we neglect what’s within?”

Yes, my ‘ah-ha’ came in the form of her question but what it really articulated for me was the fact that we do spend quite a bit of time, daily, thinking about and putting effort into how we look, externally, that we really don’t naturally balance it with investment in the internal that is needed.  See, what’s happened for me over the past month is a great investment of time and energy into my “within”, my inner being, my spiritual self that has nothing but a positive yield already in progress.  As a result of this, I know more about me, who I am, what I am and what I will be, even more so than I knew before (which I just didn’t anticipate) that I am daily shifting my focus from what I look like externally to who I projecting internally.  Does this mean I don’t care what I look like?  Yeah, absolutely not.  I’m not a fashion aficionado but I will never look a hot mess!  What this does mean though is that I absolutely do spend more time preparing for how Farah will show up than I do on what Farah will show up in. 

This directly ties to the second branding phase of self-definition where we decide how we want to be viewed, perceived and experienced in this world…and live intentionally toward that self-definition.  And so where do we go from here, dressing from within?  Well, we make a conscious decision, again, about how we intend to show up.  When I’m going through this phase and exercise with clients, many different words come up:

Confident, kind, assured, professional, well-respected,

funny, strategic, happy, talented, genuine, vocal,

authentic, fun, ambitious, interesting, witty,

knowledgeable, positive, unique, likeable,

trustworthy, mature, smart, educated,

  optimistic, sensible…

I could go on and on but what I want you to take note of is that these are all internal attributes.  This is where dressing from within starts.  So what is the full-process?

1-Identifying key internal attributes in which you will “dress” yourself every day, and use as the lens through which you view yourself and project daily.  For me, it’s joy, confidence, and optimism.  I choose to live as the meaning of my name, joy, operating confidently, no matter what the circumstance and being optimistic even in the face of situations that can appear as more challenge than opportunity.  Ms. Bush actually drew upon Colossians 3:12 to answer this for herself:

“Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience.” 

How will you clothe yourself?

2-Manage your style to reflect your inner dressing.  Whatever definition(s) you choose, reinforce it through the external.  For me, joy is all about vibrancy and colors so I use my jewelry to reinforce that, especially as most of my jewelry has a story of joy-my bangles from India which was a land in a dream I had to get there before I thought it was actually even possible…my BC class ring representing a great achievement for myself and my family…or my earrings, treasured gifts from my mom for my eighth grade graduation…yup.  Tracee Ellis Ross once said, style is not about what you wear but how your wear what you have on.  Style on my friends.

3-No matter what, always reflect your own authenticity.  There is no value in imitation beyond flattery….and that only lasts for a short time.  True value lies in recognizing your unique place in this world, reflecting your higher calling, your purpose, and loving yourself enough to live authentically.  Simplest example of this is my adoration of Lena Horne and Audrey Hepburn.  I mean talk about living fabulously fierce at its best!  Their  talent, their style, and their witty personalities…just fabulous beyond measure.  Now while imitating  either of them is nothing negative, if I spent all my time imitating them, or others whom I adore, for that matter, my own authenticity would be lost.  This is a truth that I’ve long accepted but it wasn’t until two weeks ago when one of my mentees called me after attending one of our programs and shared “at the end of the program, we were told that the only reason we were there was because someone influenced us by modeling what it is that we want to be just because they were their authentic selves for us…and we should find a way to just reach out and thank them…so I’m sorry to bother you on a Saturday, but I really just wanted to thank you for being you because we met when I was totally lost and you didn’t even know it then, but you really helped me figure out how to be myself, and that that would always be my best….because you were always yourself. “  Ummmm…WHOA! The kid hit me like a ton of bricks!  I share this, absolutely not to toot my own horn, though I’m learning how to do more of that, but to highlight the impact of authenticity in our day to day, not just for ourselves, but for all with whom we interact.

Yeah, there’s been a lot that I’ve wanted to share over these  past few weeks and this is just the beginning of what it’s all meant to me.  So, here’s to you joining in with me in dressing from within…essentially letting the light within you shine and inspire through your authenticity.