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“No” is not a four letter word

“No” is not a four-letter word; literally, it’s not.  But that’s not how I treated it most of my life.  I wanted to give to everybody; I wanted to do everything–but I kept getting short-changed in the exchange.  Why can’t I help everyone?  Why can’t I do everything? And yet–when do I get time to rest?  I’m so tired. I have nothing left to give.How did I get out of this never-ending loop?  I learned to say “no.”  

But it wasn’t just the act of saying “no” — although I started to learn how powerful it could be — it was that by saying “no” I was acknowledging both my worth and human-ness, and both have made me stronger and have allowed me to be able give more wholeheartedly.

First, the human part.  Yeah. I’m human. I’m not perfect.  I’m far from it.  I’ve had adrenal fatigue and other physical ailments that have always made me tired a lot of the time.  In the past ten years or so, I came to accept that I just don’t have as much energy as other people do. When I was in college, I could sleep for up to twenty hours a day on my days off of working on plays.  There have been days in the past 5-6 years where I just had to shut down.  I had nothing left. That’s about when “no” started entering the picture.  I wanted to attend a singing workshop this September, but between work and feeling run-down and having a show to sing in — something had to give;  it was a “no” to the workshop, so that I could be the best I could be at work and in the show.  I had to say “no.”  There’s only so much of me to go around and I want to put the best I can into everything I do and I can only do that, if I prioritize what I need and want to do, I’m able to give more to the things that matter the most to me.  And rest is one of the top things so I can do all the other things.

So, that leads to the things that matter the most to me:  how could I possibly know what I value if I didn’t know my value?  How can I know what is worth my time and energy?  Isn’t everything worth it?  Will people think I’m lazy if I don’t do everything?  Will people think I don’t care if I don’t use every ounce of energy helping out?  I don’t know exactly when I realized it, but one of the things that helped me to recognize it was the realization that I deserve rest.  There’s nothing wrong with recharging my body and mind so I can function — not necessarily even at my best — but even function properly.  Really, don’t try getting into a deep conversation with me when I’ve had no sleep because I can barely string two thoughts together.  And the projects I do when I have no energy?  I’d give myself a C/ C- ,  (I’m a recovering perfectionist, that’s basically an F, but I’m accepting that I have done the best I could at those times).  The other thing was that:  I work hard. Several people told me this, but it was hard for me to take as truth because I was always told I was lazy growing up (which was a lie, but you’re not my therapist, so that’s all you need to know about that).  I started to realize that I really do work hard; and because I work hard I deserve to treat myself some times:  get vanilla soft serve, buy that Kate Spade bag I had my eye on, get a mani-pedi, or just rest and do nothing.  It’s like the old L’Oreal commercial:  “because I’m worth it.”  Because I am worth it, I choose when I say “yes” and when I say “no” and I’ve learned that people don’t see that as lazy; that’s a person who has her boundaries and knows her worth..     

 

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Grateful for the Fall

My favorite moment this year when I was performing was when I messed up.  It was beautiful.  This is the moment I learned to acknowledge my mistakes when I peform.  It’s really something that audiences love, when they see that you are human and real.

For those who can’t tell, I wasn’t supposed to stop and restart.  I messed up the lyric and couldn’t go on.  That moment freed me.  I realized that making mistakes, even in front of a dozen people, was not the end of the world.  I realized I don’t have to be perfect all the time and things will still work out.  I decided to take up piano.  I always wanted to learn, but any time I had tried before, I couldn’t because I wanted to be perfect and couldn’t make mistakes.  This has transferred to most aspects of my life (it’s a process, but I’m a lot more ok with going with the flow).  Part of the reason why I talk, so much about grounding and knowing that everything is not going to fall apart if you make a mistake is because I’ve lived it and I’m living it.  And I’m a better performer and person because I’m able to let go.

Time For Change

A Craigslist ad changed my life.  The only time I had roommates in my life was my first three years of college.  I didn’t have a problem with them, but I just liked living by myself.  When I graduated from grad school in Boston, I was broke, in debt, and my teaching job didn’t start for a few months.  I couldn’t afford an apartment by myself; I needed a roommate.  I swallowed my pride, and I went on Craigslist looking for one Continue reading “Time For Change”

A MIGHTY HEART – ACKNOWLEDGING OUR OWN GIFTS

The hardest part when I first started performing by myself was staying on the stage after the performance. I would sing my songs and then want to leave the stage. No bows. No applause. Just leave. I started performing because I realized that people thought my singing was pretty, and I felt that it was my gift to others. That said, I really didn’t believe that that was true. I was afraid that I wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t talented enough. It was really uncomfortable and terrifying being on the stage. But I kept doing it because others believed in me. Continue reading “A MIGHTY HEART – ACKNOWLEDGING OUR OWN GIFTS”

HEAL THY SELF – CAN WE LET GO OF THE OLD PAIN FOR FREEDOM?

Originally written for the New Moon Women’s Circle website

Before you can let go of anything, you need to realize you’re holding on.  “How could anyone ever love me?” “People are mean.” “No one understands me.” That’s just a few of the pieces of baggage that I’ve been carrying along with me.  I only just realized that in the midst of finding love and happiness in my life in the past years that I was still dragging those fears along with me. Why? For me, it has always been:  it’s safe, it’s familiar. Continue reading “HEAL THY SELF – CAN WE LET GO OF THE OLD PAIN FOR FREEDOM?”

Performer Inspiration – Lauren Hope Krass

Originally written for the New Moon Women’s Circle website

Lauren Hope Krass  didn’t grow up wanting to be a comedian.  Her courage led her to venture into the world of comedy.  She explains, “My thing is kinda just trying to be brave and try new things.  What I can say is that I knew I loved it from the first time I did it. It was a very loud open mic at a dive bar and when I got on stage, for some reason everybody shut up and listened so I figured I was onto something.  After about a year of doing it, I knew I wanted it to be my job job and then put the steps in motion to move to NYC. I told myself okay one year from today, I’m moving to New York and then I actually did it…I think it kind of shocked a bunch of people who were like ‘Wait. Really?  You were serious?’” Continue reading “Performer Inspiration – Lauren Hope Krass”

INSPIRATION AND MAGIC – ALLOW IT TO FLOW TO YOU THIS WEEK

Originally written for the New Moon Women’s Circle website

I love that moment when there’s a spark of inspiration, and I start writing or planning, and the result is a magical, beautiful work of art!  Unfortunately…my muse does not whisper in my ears 24/7. But that doesn’t stop my creative process.

I am a post-it queen.  When I think of songs that I want to sing, an idea for a story, a recipe idea, or even some other creative thought that’s not fully formed or actionable at that point, I write it on a post-it, stick it on my bedroom wall. After some time has passed, it will either grows into multiple post-its and be transferred to a notebook, or I will toss it.  It may or may not turn into a full project, but the process is what is important. The post-it system provides me with that the freedom to unleash my wildest ideas regularly and keep the creativity flowing.

When the post-it wall does becomes larger project, it is richer with all the ideas that I have gleaned by connections, by throwing out things, by fleshing out the glimmer of half-formed thoughts.  This constant flow of creativity provides the inspiration and the magic for my best projects. Creativity comes out of play and curiousity and practice. By rubbing the sticks together, a spark and flame may ignite; it is the tending of the flame that ignites a wildfire and creates magic.  To quote Kermit the Frog, “keep believing, keep pretending.” That’s the key. Keep creating and the inspiration and magic will appear.