Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #61-Accepting the Change in Seasons

Fall foliage on the Charles River Esplanade, Boston, MA, USA

Fall foliage on the Charles River Esplanade, Boston, MA, USA

Autumn is my absolute favorite season of all!  Living in New England, I really do get to experience all four seasons, with the biggest challenge being the winter.  Sometimes it creeps up earlier than expected and chooses to hang out longer than desired.  I’ll spare us a revisit the winter travails of Massachusetts last year.  What I note though is that not everyone looks at the changes in seasons the same way.  See, I find pluses and minuses of each.  Winter can be bone chilling cold but I love the days of snowfall so intense that all you can do is snuggle, warm drink in hand and watch a great movie from your couch.  Spring can take fooooooorever to show up but once it’s here, it brings with it the promise of even warner weather with so much to do outside.  Summer, need I say more?  Yes, some days can get waaaaaaaay too hot, but outside activities are limitless.  Autumn, brings the warning of colder days ahead but helps us transition with BEAUTIFUL foliage and opportunities for fabulous fashion!  And yet, some of us like one season and one only or simply despise another.  I could go on and on but this is also the case in life.

It is inevitable that as long as you’re living your life is going to bring with it different seasons.  Things can’t go well 100% of the time, but, they can’t go horribly wrong 100% of the time either.  It just can’t. Some seasons can be more prolonged than others but it is inevitable that there will be change.  Over the past few months, another theme tied to this that has been coming up for my clients is that of the changing seasons of friendships.

Lately, I’ve consistently been heard things like:

“You know, I was a little down because as I was going through ‘x-situation’, I realized the folks who have usually been there for me just haven’t been.”

“I’ve been noticing a shift in my group lately….folks are kind of falling off.”

“As I approach my 30s, I am noticing that not everyone is game for continuing my journey with me….it kind of sucks.  It’s like they don’t accept the growth in me, or at least that I’m feeling I’m experiencing.”

I’ve been through all of this before myself so of course I have to ask each of them “As you’re noticing some folks falling away or distancing or even just cutting off ties with you, are other people showing up?”  Consistently the response has been “Yes and totally out of the blue!”  Yup, see just like the old saying “God never closes one door without opening another,” I don’t believe you’re ever left with loss without some form of compensation for that loss showing up.  This is especially true since we as human beings are just not intended to be alone.  So of course other people are going to show up in your life…and they will probably be so much better for you since they’re showing up in a season where the value of their presence is beyond measure.  Accept it as time for new fruit.

So what is there to do in seasons of changing friendships?

  1. Acknowledge your hurt: There are so many ways we try to be so strong and so tough and so unaffected by people and circumstances that we don’t let ourselves hurt or at least we don’t think we do. See, if you don’t take the time to let yourself acknowledge that these changes are impacting you, the “dealing with it” will show up in other ways.  You’ll be arguing over something with your spouse that you know has nothing to do with them.  You’ll be short-tempered with the kids.  You’ll give your coworkers some unrelenting side-eye and it really has nothing to do with them and all to do with the fact that the change, especially if unexpected has really dampened your spirits.  Let yourself acknowledge it especially with someone who can give you perspective.
  2. Decide to move on: Don’t let yourself get stuck in acknowledgement. Once you’ve made note of what’s happening or happened, give yourself the gift of moving on.  Start by treating yourself to a party for one….may be a day of catching up on Essence reading, a day at the spa, just a mani and pedi…something.  Focus on you, even if just for a bit then…..remember…..NOT EVERYONE IS GONE!  You’ve still got others in your life.  Shift your focus from what’s changing to what’s…who’s staying the same and reach out, engage, move on.
  3. Accept the beauty of change: When you’re going through these seasons, always think of fall foliage.  It’s so beautiful and brings so much with it.  It can be hard but look at the beauty of it.  Change is usually an indication of growth, strengthening, progress, forward movement….though it may not always look and feel like it, there’s beauty in it.  Take note of it and accept it.  When you do, you’ll notice how truly breathtaking it and you are!!!!
  4. Live fabulously fierce: Being who you are is not dependent on who is in your life. Others compliment who you are and the best of friends help bring out the best of who you are.  But no on, no one, makes you who you are other than you.  Commit to continuing to live fabulously fierce or however it is you choose to live….fabulously empowered….fabulously strong….fabulously hopeful….you choose and LIVE IT!!!!

Final note: With the whole Viola Davis and Taraji P. Henson  scene at the Emmy’s…which I will not get into simply because I know I just  will not stop once I start…..there has been an increase in consciousness of “who’s clapping for you”….who’s in your tribe…who’s got your back….etc etc.  It’s raising our level of awareness that we actually get to decide who comes into our lives and who’s influence we’re going to let impact us.  Know that this is actually empowerment.  You get to choose.  You get to choose.  Be empowered in that and know that you decide through your intentions, actions, and who you attract, who will be in your life.  Accept the change in seasons and engage in facilitating what the seasons will entail with those you allow to be part of your journey.  And…..It. Always. Gets. Better. And so do you!

Soundtrack of the week:  Count on Me.  Be encouraged-your new season of friendships will result in those who can sing this song with you and know that the truth of the lyrics run deep.

Bernier Brand Building: Phase 2-Self Definition

Hope you’re enjoying this branding journey as much as I am.  I’ve been giving you quite a bit of “homework” and a number of you have let me know that’s it’s really helpful, so what choice do I have but to give you more!?!?!?  I kid, I kid…

So I trust that you’ve requested your feedback and as I’m still waiting for a few folks to get back to me, you’re probably waiting too.  I say for now, go with what you have.  A few of you have asked me to share more about myself on this platform, so, while I don’t find that to be the easiest thing for me, you know, talking about myself, I can appreciate that you want to know more about this F Bernier telling you to do this and do that.  So in true transparency, I’m going to share the feedback that I’ve gotten from my circle…the good, the not so good, and the ‘fine, I can take that’ feedback.

Below are the questions I suggested you go out with and the responses that I’ve got so far:

  • If you could only describe me in three words, what would those three words be?

                    §  Hardworking, Ambitious, Resilient

                    §  Determined, Smart, Focused 

  • What would you say is the absolute best thing about me?

                    §  You are such a great friend!  Always there when I need you 🙂

                    §  Your ability to balance (God, Family, Personal Goals and work)

  • What is the one characteristic about me that could be eliminated or improved?

                    §  Over-extending yourself/Over-booking yourself.  Sometimes it’s ok to just sit around and do nothing and not think.

                    §  You are already working on this- taking time for you 😀

  • What truly makes me unique from your perspective?
    • You are one of the most determined people I know.  You try to look at the bright side of everything so you don’t let anything stop you from achieving your goals. 
    • Your ability to see light/good/potential in others and to help guide them to see potential in themselves. You are not scared to call out someone who is living below excellence.
  • What do you think keeps me from being my very best?
    • Over-analyzing things (ahem, relationships).  Sometimes “it is what it is”.  It’s ok to follow your heart and gut even though sometimes they just don’t make sense especially when it comes to the matters of the heart.
    • I think you are striving and growing and therefore you are not kept from being your best.

Sooooo, yup that’s a little bit of me from my friends’ lens.  So grateful that I could give them extra homework and they actually did it!!!  Thanks KitKat and Erika!  As I get additional feedback, I’ll be sure to share.

The combination of this feedback and our answers to the first set of questions I shared with you…you know, the ‘Who am I’ questions, create a great start to just learning more about ourselves. See, now you have your own view and the view of others.  Honestly, the consistency across the board from my friends telling me to take more time for myself is very clear that, although I almost lost my mind two weekends ago because I had two full weekend days of absolutely nothing on the agenda,  I could benefit from doing more of that and just relaxing or not thinking…..it’s actually recharge time!  Feedback heard, received, and ready to apply.

Now moving into the assessments, I encouraged everyone to start with the Strengths Finder 2.0.  Where did I land with my Top 5 Themes?  So glad you asked!  Here goes:

  • Relator (Shocker!)
  • Individualization
  • Strategic
  • Ideation
  • Intellection

So spot on! I won’t dig too deeply into all of the points, but my top theme, Relator, points out that I

Enjoy close relationships with others, find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal, am driven by my talents, have people usually turn to me for plainspoken, easy-to-understand explanations, welcome opportunities to spend time with friends who enjoy thinking about the future…”

So check out that description and go back to my friends’ feedback….see the alignment? I totally can’t deny any of it right?  This is so important because having all of this information helps me understand how I can bring who I cam to everything that I do and be the most effective in my life, both personally and professionally.  Now I’m really ready to engage in some self-definition.

Self-Definition

Don’t worry, I’m not going to over do it.  As I promised in the beginning.  I want us to take this proces slow so that we really do the full exercise of becoming and being our best.

Self-Definition is really all about taking everyhting you’ve just gone through, the self relfection, the review of your feedback and whatever skills insight you got through whichever assessment(s) you used and starting to determine how you want to show up and who you want to be.  This is not about building facades as someone once misinterpreted my passion around personal branding.  This is all about what part or parts of yourself you want to exude, consistently in the interactions you have with folks.  Remember, personal branding is all about building a reputation.  What is the reputation you want to build and how do you leverage what you’ve just learned about yourself to define that repuation and essentially define who you are.

So, to complete this process, we’re going to do a vision exercise.  Imagine: You’ve been nominated and selected by your friends and family to speak at your High School as an alum.  Graduation is two weeks away and the school administration has asked that you submit a bio that will be included in the commencement program and used to introduce you right before you speak.  DO NOT write this as you stand today.  DO write this to reflect the reputation that you want communicated.  For clarification purposes, I’ll share that I am currently coaching an Executive Assistant on her personal brand and she keeps identifying herself as “just an EA.”  So I’ve asked her to start practicing her intro as she’d like it to be and we will, over time, bring that reputation to life.  This week, just write the reputation through this exerise, and we’ll go from there.

Soundtrack of the week: I believe it was Malcolm X who said that “Man only swears when he doesn’t have the vocabulary to express himself.”  While I agree with this, I have to appreciate Jill Scott’s Womanifesto as in this song she is totally going through self-definition and I love it.  My apologies if it offends, but if you can appreciate the exercise, I think this is a great soundtrack for the week!  Enjoy!

Bernier Brand Building: Phase 1-Self Discovery (Continued)

Hello Hello!!!

I hope you’ve all been doing well!  I gave you a little extra time to answer the questions I listed for you in the last post.  At this point, you’ve gotten closer to the answer to the question “Who Am I?”.  I trust that you’ve done some inward digging to better understand who you are, where you come from, what makes you tick, what makes you sick, and glimpses of what makes you fabulously fierce.  So now, it’s time to delve into part two of the self-discovery phase: Leveraging people and tools to identify key components of who you are.

I actually started to do a little bit of this, this week, with the team of the UK’s Unleash, with members in their UK and Barcelona offices.  It was amazing.  Honestly, watching folks go through this process is totally my high.  So, I’m absolutely looking forward to you doing the same!

Jumping right in…

Leveraging People:

When I talk about this, what I mean is really going out and getting feedback from those in your circle.  I never get tired of highlighting my circle…let me tell you, I’ve got some pretty amazing individuals in my life who will always tell me when I’m doing well, when  I’m not doing so hot, and when I absolutely need to get my act together and get back on the fabulously fierce track!  Love them love them love them love them love them.  Yup, if I’m ever messing up, just reach out to the Aundrea Cline-Thomases and the Veronica Chapmans of my world, just to name a couple,let them know, and they’ll get on me.

Believe it or not, you’ve got your own Aundreas and Veronicas in your life.  They may not be as bold to give you feedback, even when you’re not asking for it, like these two, but you’ve got them.  What you may need to do is reach out and give them permission to give you feedback.  What do I mean?  Well, it’s really simple.  Just go out, let them know you’re actively working on your brand, investing the time and energy in yourself in this way and you need their help…their candid, open, honest help.  Then, just ask:

  • If you could only describe me in three words, what would those three words be?
  • What would you say is the absolute best thing about me?
  • What is the one characteristic about me that could be eliminated or improved?
  • What truly makes me unique from your perspective?
  • What do you think keeps me from being my very best?

Yup, seriously, go out and get it. AND DO ONLY THAT.  DO NOT:

  • React positively or negatively
  • Ask any probing questions…not yet.

This will help you avoid the chance that you might roll your eyes, suck your teeth, or give the head roll in response to any feedback your don’t necessarily agree with.  C’mon, you know how some of us can get.

Then, while your friends, coworkers, mentors, your mom (only ask her if she’s like mine and will totally tell you the truth, not just say “oh baby you’re perfect the way you are”) your siblings, your boo…etc, are pulling their thoughts together for you, I need you to dig deeper into your own personal skills and capabilities leveraging some assessments.

Leveraging Assessments:

Some folks get leary of assessments or just freak out because they think it’s about exposing things in them.  To that I put forth a REMINDER: in this phase you’re just focusing in on increasing your self-awareness….assessments help do that.

In the world of assessments and inventories, there really are so many that you can take that are credible.  The most commonly used one is the Myers-Briggs indicator which just highlights how you see the world.  In addition to this one, I’ve also taken the Whole Brain, True Colors, DiSC and Strengths Finder Assessments.  I’ve been fortunate enough to work for various organizations that covered the cost of these.  While I always encourage personal investment, I always support doing so strategically..ie finding ways to avoid having to pay directly out of pocket.  That being said there are enough assessments out there that won’t cost you too much and are still quite valuable.  So, I’m going to ask that you go out and pick up the book, Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath.  It includes a unique access code for you to take the Strengths Finder 2.0 Assessment and gives you access to the website where you can dig deeper into understanding what your resulting strengths say about you.  Do it, do it, do it.  When we come back to this, I’ll share mine….I’d love it if you’d share yours and then we’ll move into how we can leverage the feedback you get from your circle and the results of your assessment to start the second phase of self-definition.

Since we’re all in the process of just getting better and better and watching things get, as my Pastor would say, “gooder and gooder,” I hope you know that truly your best days are ahead of you.  So with that, this week’s soundtrack is Tamela Mann’s Best Days, which also happens to be the adopted theme song of Living Fabulously Fierce!  Enjoy!

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #20-Making Decisions You Can Live With

Hello Hello My Fellow Fabulously Fierce!

I have had an incredible weekend so I am on an incredible high yet incredibly fatigued!  If only I had the super power of never needing sleep!!!  Ah well.

One of my weekend activities included participating in the Babson College Black Affinity Conference!  It was great!  Friday’s segment involved a great discussion around Black hair.  Gennifer Miller of Healthy Textures, Shariffa Barnett Author of 5 Hair Archetypes, and Dr. Tina Opie who I wish was a professor when I was there, were incredible panelists! The session was slated as a two-hour conversation, which went on for three and it only ended because security had to shut the building down…and couldn’t do so with the 50 or so women in attendance still in the building.  All this being said, this is not a post on Black hair…I’m sure one day soon that will be a topic for us here in some form or fashion, but what everything boiled down to in Friday’s discussion was nothing more than decisions and the ability to make and own your life choices…whether it has to do with hair or, what I’d like to really broaden it to, the various life choices we all have to make.

We’ve spent a lot of time here at LFF addressing the aspect of vision.  Many of you have actually taken my recommendations to illustrate your vision, prayerfully sought the wisdom to know which steps to take, and actually started to take some major steps.  I love hearing from you about what’s new and exciting in your lives in the way of being the fabulously fierce individuals that you are.  This bring me to the point of free will.

When thinking of free will, we can absolutately take it “old school” if you want and in my case, that would be first communion class in the second grade where I learned that God gave us all free will (I still get hung up on Adam and Eve…really, you just had to have that apple?).  Truly, free will is actually power.  Really, pause for one minute and just think about that….try, just try to grasp that The Most Omnipotent Soveriegn Being, The One who made you…in His likeness and image…in the face of wanting you to be every bit like Him, gave you and I the power to decide what we would do in this life and what we would not do!  That’s some serious power given to us.

The thing about power though is whatever we do with it, by way of choice and decision, we actually have to be able to live with the decisions we make as well as the impact.  Now I’ve worked in corporate environments my entire career and I will tell you, a career limiting move I’ve observed in many is consistently failing to just make a decision.  I would submit that people are actually not afraid to make decisions, they are actually afraid to have to deal with any repercussions of the decisions made…even if the impct is good!  Let me clarify with an example: A young woman recently shared with me that she was trying to determine whether or not to apply for an opportunity in an area of business in which she has absolutely no experience.  I NEVER see that as a limitation by the way, but definitely more of an opportunity to highlight a different lens…take a look at my career…half my jobs I’ve really had no business being in if we were going by experience…but I digress.  So, this young lady spent 15 minutes walking me through the ‘what ifs’….you know…

  • What if I apply and I don’t get it?
  • What if they see my resume and think I’m crazy for applying?
  • What if…yada yada yada

All to which I said…”and what if you apply, and it actually works out?”  Her response: “But then I’d have to move and leave all my friends behind” etc etc etc.  See the reality is, she didn’t want to make a decision that might just cause her to have to live with the need to deal with change, and make new friends, and get accustomed to a new city…the list goes on.

Another example?  Sure…and of course this one has to do with a boy 🙂  So, another youg women recently shared that she was in a relationship with a young man who she knew just was not for her.  She waited for months but finally broke it off, very maturely I might add, and let brother man go.  And she is totally ok with her decision.  Totally ok with it.  This doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt and her heart didn’t have to go through the breaking we are all too familiar with.  It just means, she made the decision that she could actually live with.

Here’s the deal, every day we make decisions.  I had the pleasure of meeting an incredible decision maker this weekend in Dr. Tina Opie.  She is a  model of confidence in who she shares who she is, even in just introducing herself, which involves highlighting some life decisions shes’ made.  She left an impression on all who were in her presence that she is totally ok with who she is because she makes decisions that she can live with.  Now does this mean we are not to make mistakes? ABSOLUTELY NOT!  What it does mean is that  because I know who I am, I will make decisions that are best for me, more often than not, positively impacts those around me, and even when I don’t make the “best” decisions, the consequences don’t impact others or myself in a way that is detrimental.  What does this boil down to…branding…personal branding.

So, here’s my assignment for you this week:

Think about what three factors play the most significant role for you in guiding the deicisions you make every day.  For me, mine are that

  • I am a Christian woman guided by Christian principles, the most important, being the love of everyone around me/treating everyone as I would want to be treated
  • I am focused on legacy, seeking to leave a positive impact not only in the world in the future, but in my day-to-day and the people I interact with every day
  • I extend my vision from the here and now and into what I believe will be my future, not limiting my dreams and aspirations by the limitations of my current wallet, status in life, etc

Once you identify your three, post them on your mirror (feel free to share here too via comments) where you can see them every day while brushing your teeth (yes, I just made a decision for you…if you are not brushing your teeth every day…YOU WILL START NOW), and remind yourself every morning that whatever decisions you make, they will be guided by these three important aspects of who you are.

Agan, there will be mistakes, but the decision-making process, leveraging the free will that you have, is a process nonetheless, and so makes it ok.

Soooo, next steps here on LivingFabulouslyFierce is delving into the personal branding space moving forward.  Get ready to be introduced, and for some of you reintroduced, to the Bernier Brand Building process of self-discovery definition and distinction.  Get ready get ready get ready.

Soundtrack of the week: Damita’s, No Looking Back

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #19-Keeping Your Faith without Fear

CAUTION: Spiritual content ahead.  Brace for blessing and impact!

Happy Easter!!!  I hope your Resurrection Sunday has gotten off to fabulous start!  Easter happens to be my favorite holiday for many reasons but the most important being it is a reminder, for me, of the importance of faith.

I identify faith as it is defined in Hebrews 11:1

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Someone recently asked me how do I stay so hopeful and happy about everything when I don’t have everything I would like in my life.  I quickly added, “yet…..I don’t have it all, yet,” and explained that I really do believe that what I am seeking and aspire for is in line with what God has for me and as a result, it’s just a matter of time before it comes to pass.  That being said, I do have a confidence in what I hope for, an assurance in what I do not see.  This is what it means to have faith without fear.  Essentially, I have a vision, am definitely a praying woman who seeks wisdom in everything, and I don’t let circumstances or changing life seasons determine my level of faith in the vision that I have.  Simply put, there is so much good that I what to do in this world- sooooooooooooooooo much-and my vision incorporates so much that in order for me not to focus on current limitations, I have to pray and seek the wisdom needed to take the right steps toward this vision.  Most importantly though, I’ve got to maintain a confidence in the things that I hope for that is not stirred by wind (challenges), rain (moments of frustration), or any distracting “noise” (those to my left and my right who may not be able to see what I see and therefore not be able to support, and actually detract, unintentionally or otherwise).

That being said, my hope for you today is that you will

1-Take the time to consider your vision.

If you’ve been with me since the vision board exercise early on, (LFF#2) go back to that.  Remember how I stressed just laying things out not worrying about what might not “make sense”?

  • What were you able to depict for yourself as a result of taking the limits off of your own thinking?
  • Have things changed?
  • If you’ve minimized your vision, why?

If you haven’t laid out your vision, ok I’m going to be a little tough here…chop chop! If you’ve expanded your vision, fabulous!

2-Seek the wisdom to determine what next steps are needed to get closer to realizing your vision.

Be open to the fact that wisdom may actually require that you sit still for a bit.  This is the place in which I currently am, and am actually baffled.  See, we live in a society in which we’re taught that to “get, get, get we’ve got to do, do, do” and often times this only results in a whirlwind/hamster wheel effect.  You know, going around in circles and not making any progress whatsoever.  Sometimes, to make progress, we really may need to just sit still or keep moving, but just a bit slower than we’d like, all for the purpose of making sure any moves are actually in the right direction.

3-Maintain your faith without fear.

I’m a big believer that life is all about seasons.  There’s an old adage that if you’re going through something right now, know that you’re just a breath away from coming out of it…and if you haven’t gone through something, brace yourself because you’re going to need your strength as you’ll more than likely be going through something of your own very shortly.  C’est la vie.  That being said, maintaining your faith without fear and with strength requires that you maintain a “seasons perspective” while also maintaining a level of faith that is not shifted by the ups and downs of the life.

Happy Easter folks!  Get your vision on! Maintain your faith!  Let go of fear!

Sound track of the week: Mary Mary’s I Just Can’t Give Up Now

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #18-Surrounding Yourself with Good Company

Of all the things that may change in life, a few key things remain the same, including the fact that some days are easy and some are hard, but with good company, it can all be pretty fabulous!

When it comes to good company, I am truly blessed beyond measure!  I’ve got some pretty remarkable people in my life that I truly count as blessings, gifts really, because I never once asked for them and here they all are, playing a role in Farah Inc.  That being said, there are a few key things that are common of those I keep company with that I think are pretty important for all of us.  These include,

1-We’re friends, not because we’re perfect, but indeed in spite of our imperfections.

Not a single one of us is perfect in any way, shape or form.  We’re just right, the way that we are, in whatever season that we’re in, always growing and developing.  But perfect, nope, not one of us.  True friends are those who can look at you and appreciate all that you are and all that you’re becoming with a love for you despite the fact that they know you’ll never be perfect, whatever that may mean anyway.

2-We have real expectations of each other. 

My friend Ivy and I were chatting once about some of the “interesting” people that we come across in this life.

Ivy and I with Zo! from Foreign Exchange

Ivy and I with Zo! from Foreign Exchange

And when I say interesting, I mean….you know…hmmm, how do I say this…well, the folks who if someone gave you the option of either hanging out with for five minutes or running a marathon on a blistering hot day, well you’d go and get your sneakers and start running.  And know that all of us are that “interesting” person for at least one person in this world at one point or another.  It’s all good.  Anyway, I digress…Ivy and I were chatting about one of her “interestings” and she said, “I knew we really couldn’t be friends because she just had absolutely no expectations of me.”  What this was really all about was the fact that this individual did not hold Ivy accountable to be the best Ivy she could be.  She and I on the other hand, however, we have “best-self” expectations of each other and really won’t let the other slip too far from meeting that expectation.

3-We know when to heavy-handed and when to be heavy-hearted, maintaining a balance of both.  

Sometimes, I really have a hard time with this one because don’t we all just want a hug or someone to tell us, “everything’s going to be ok” or “oh, you’ll be alright, you’ll be fine”?  As much of a tough cookie as I can be, sometimes, I really want 90% heavy-hearted and 10% heavy-handed and all I get is the exact opposite…because that’s actually just what I need and fortunately my friends often know better than me.  I will definitely say no one in the Farah Bernier Circle will ever baby her.  What I am grateful for though is that I am never at a loss of the needed “I need you to get your act together” or the needed “I’m so sorry, I’ll bring over some dessert and we’ll cry this one out or just watch a good movie.”

4-Through it all is love

Speaking of good movies, I recently saw Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself again

and at one point Mary J. Blige’s character sings

“I don’t need no one to put me down, I’m on the ground can’t get no lower. And I don’t need no one to hang around an make me frown…”

I think this points to the fact that the best thing for all of us from the company we keep is love. This makes me think of Job, let me tell you, if I’m ever where he was, I’m pretty certain I don’t need anyone in my crew like the friends he had.  They didn’t show him love.  It was really all about pity and the perspective that he must’ve done something wrong to warrant him going through what he was experiencing.  Job needed love and he didn’t get as much as he needed.  Again, grateful that even if they needed to give me a swift kick in the pants, no matter what, it would be in love.

This week, I’m actually going to write, yes actually write a few cards to those in my company just to let them know they’re appreciated and that when it comes right down to it, although I am soooo not a mushy person, yup, I love them.

So, as for you, are you keeping good company? Do the folks in your circle add,
encourage, enlarge your territory, love and have expectations of you? Do they have the same expectation of you and how are you measuring up to that expectation?  Are you sowing into their lives as they are yours?  Answer these questions, just for you.  Finally, this week, in whatever way you choose, reach out to at least three people in your circle with a simple “Hey, you’re pretty fabulous and I’m grateful for you.”

Soundtrack of the week: Mary J. Blige’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #16: Accepting Happiness and Committing to Joy

Hello Hello Friends!!!

The past two weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind on the LFF front but all this means is that there is a lot in the works for the Fabulously Fierce Followers to experience beyond the blog.  For now, let’s carry on!

So, in the last post, I highlighted the distinction between happiness and joy.  Remember, happiness is the moment, joy is the overview of the ups and downs in life and appreciating it all because it brings about the fabulousness that is you.  Now it’s time to get into the actual process of accepting happiness and committing to joy.

Accepting Happiness.

I recently had the chance to watch the Pursuit of Happiness again…

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it just happened to be on and it reinforced my moment and overview perspective.  In the end, Will Smith’s character shares:

“Now this part of my life, this little part is what I call happiness.”

Though the scene was of him and his son walking, in his voice you could hear a kind of “resting” tone on his reflection.  I believe that is the start to the process of accepting happiness.  So, my recommendations…

1-Rest in the moment.  Literally sit back and take in the moment that is bringing you happiness.  So many of us get to a moment that brings us happiness and we almost instantly focus in on trying to answer the question “ok, so what next?” or “ok, how do I make this last?”  In their recent conversation, even Oprah and Beyonce admitted to this challenge of not taking in their moments.

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Oprah, with her experience, actually seemed to even be begging Bey to “please, please, please take it in.”

2-Let go of your own mental models that keep you from actually enjoying it.  As I coach more and more women, unfortunately, I find that we are the biggest factor in limiting our own happiness because for some reason, we don’t think we’re actually deserving of it, that we haven’t earned it or that if we’re happy and enjoying something, someone else must be at a deficit of happiness and that’s our fault.  Cut it out!!!  Seriously, there is enough happiness in the world for those who will choose to embrace it.  REPEAT: THERE IS ENOUGH HAPPINESS IN THE WORLD FOR THOSE WHO WILL CHOOSE TO EMBRACE IT.  You taking in your happiness creates no deficit for anyone else.  Allowing yourself to be guilty in your happiness, however, over time, that creates a bitterness that no one wants to experience or be around….remember your brand, the experience you foster for others to have in engaging with you.  I’ll take into my circle a happy person any day over guilt-fostered bitterness.

3-Share it.  This requires nothing more than saying something as simple as, “You know, this is great!”  or “This is really, really, nice!” or “I’m just so happy right now” or “Now this part of my life, this little part is what I call happiness.”  You can almost start a happiness movement in just the simple act of sharing your own.  This is one the strengths I observed in the last person who had my heart (fancy way of saying the ex).  He was sooo good at sharing his happiness.  Whether we were just sitting by the Charles and talking or arm wrestling because I was determined to beat him at least once, he never failed to take a quick few seconds to say “you know, this is really nice.”   When we do this, it just increases the happiness factor in this world exponentially!

Committing to joy:

This, this is the long-term view folks, and it’s especially helpful when we get to those challenging or down times in our lives.  I once read that

“Joy is like the sun, always shining even when night falls or clouds cover it.”

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I love that!  Think about all those trials, difficulties, perceived limitations and the like.  Just look at them as clouds and give them their chance to pass, always remembering that they will pass and your sun is always going to be there either way. So,

1-Take on the “seasons perspective.“ This means that let your life be your life and your seasons be seasons.  Basically, no matter what, you are fearfully and wonderfully made, you are created to do some pretty remarkable things on this earth in your lifetime, and yup, you’re fabulously fierce.  That’s your life!  That is the reality that is your life!  Now life, it will have some seasons of rain, unbearable cold, frustrations, even hurts.  But, the remarkable thing…it changes nothing of who you are!  Live your life, let seasons play their part, and keep it moving!

2-Name your challenges.  The more specific you are about your challenges, the better positioned you are to stand in the midst of them and focus in on your life, not allowing your seasons to define it.  Example: One of my current challenges is that I don’t have as much time as I’d like to commit to my entrepreneurial endeavors and as a result, things just are moving as quickly as I’d like them to.  This does not change the reality that there are some pretty incredible things that are going to come out of LFF Enterprise.  It just means that I have to have more patience to keep focused on progress.  I’m still focused on the end game though and this helps me maintain required patience.

3-Schedule a recurring joy summit for 1.  All this is is setting aside a time of significant reflection.  I suggest monthly where you just take the time look at your vision board again with the end game clearly.  My joy summit usually takes place mid-month and always involves Pinkberry, soaking, and a review of what I’ve outlined for Farah Inc.  It helps me keep my focus and look at whatever I may be going through as just part of my story.  My friend Aundrea and I were catching up this weekend…

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and we talked about an issue we’re actually both facing and ended kind of laughing at what a great story we’re both building for an incredible book we’ll each write one day.

That’s about it.  No matter how much I try to keep these shorter than usual but I love to share.  So, I hope these points continue to help you on your fabulously fierce journey.

Soundtrack of the week: Stevie Wonder’s Uptight….because, Stevie helps make things better!

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!