Who am I NOT to?

I write amazing blog posts.

In my head. While I am in the shower. The words and water flow with equal force and cleansing power. I am profound, smart, funny. I am fired up and ready to break the writing slump.

Then I sit here and…doubt. Insecurity. Fear. Creep in. Actually, not creep. More like trample me. They pummel me until I give in and the blinking cursor becomes too much and I distract myself with Facebook and Instagram. And if it were not Lent, also red wine.

Social media is the worst place to be when spiraling in impostor syndrome. Except today. While scrolling a writer I admire and respect posted this link to an article about the real meaning of self-care.

It often means looking your failures and disappointments square in the eye and re-strategizing. It is not satiating your immediate desires. It is letting go. It is choosing new. It is disappointing some people. It is making sacrifices for others. It is living a way that other people won’t, so maybe you can live in a way that other people can’t.

Looking failures in the eye. Letting go. Choosing new. Oof. I am not particularly strong in any of these things. I’ve stopped myself from a lot, mostly writing, because I doubt the universality or applicability of my experience. If it doesn’t resonate with everyone, then it’s not worthwhile.

This afternoon my ten year old son participated in a student-led parent teacher conference. Twenty Google slides and 10 minutes of talking about himself and school. Friends, favorite subjects, what he excels in, where he needs development. It was totally awesome (Yeah public schools and tax dollars at work!) and inspiring. He was terrified. He did it anyway. He was awesome and inspiring.

Brene Brown says that we need to stop looking for proof of our un-belonging, because we will always find it. If this is true, which I believe it is, then, the opposite is also true. If we look for evidence of belonging, then will also find that.

I found validation in a quote on Facebook. I found courage in the hazel eyes, messy hair, and shaky voice of my ten year old son. I re-found my voice and went back to the notes I had hastily scribbled after I got out of the shower this morning.

Questioning the value of my story is a huge disservice to the work it took me to get here.

Who am I to write about myself, life, parenting, writing, coaching, friendship, love, family, faith?

I am the expert on my own life. Who am I not to?

Who am I not to blog post idea

Say Yes. Think After.

(I posted this on LinkedIn on 4/5/2017.)

My son is a cancer survivor. Stay with me, this post is not about that. He was diagnosed with stage four cancer at age three. He beat the odds stacked against him and is now 11. I have been writing our memoir about that time for seven years. That’s not a typo. Years. There are all sorts of reasons and excuses for this, but if I’m truly honest with myself, the main reason is that… I stopped saying yes to myself.

I’ve been pretty unhappy in one area of my life. I allowed that stagnation to seep into every other aspect of who I am. I didn’t even know it was happening. I stopped listening to music in my car. I never took my full lunch hour, choosing instead to watch stupid TV while sitting at my desk. I gained weight. I gossiped with and about others (and I know they gossiped about me; if someone does it with you, they will do it about you). I was not creating.

A few weeks ago, in a moment of desperation (or clarity?), I signed up to participate in a “Pitchapalooza” event with The Book Doctors. I didn’t think I would get picked to pitch and honestly, I forgot I submitted my name. But, in that moment, I said yes. I would figure out the how later.

A few days before the event, I got an email outlining next steps. “Whoa boy, I guess I am doing this!” The pitch itself was one minute. Whhhhaaaat? One minute to summarize the most traumatic event of my life? I worked furiously. I wrote. I edited. I wrote and edited even more. I went inside and created. I wrote from the heart and it showed in my pitch. I didn’t think. I didn’t over-think. I walked on stage and told.

Here’s my Dear Boys pitch. (Please note that the video was captured by a dear friend of mine whom I recruited one hour before the event. He’s not a professional and my phone is a four year old Android, so be kind, thanks!)

The best things have come to me when I stopped thinking, or really, stopped doubting myself, and said yes. I said yes to the opportunity to stand in front of two incredibly helpful, thoughtful, and successful writers and tell our story. Then, I got three minutes of feedback from them. What a gift!

I learned two important lessons last week. 1: There is indeed an audience and a need for my book and I have the writing chops to make it happen. I will make it happen.

And more important, 2: Start saying yes. I need to think less and do more. Say yes to whatever creative outlet makes me feel alive. For me, those outlets are career coaching, writing, and obsessively redecorating the mantel in my family room. I’ve done a lot more of all three since the event last week. It was less than a week ago. I have made more progress on my memoir than I had in the last three months! Creativity fuels creativity. It is not a well that will dry out, it actually feeds itself.

Say yes first. Think after. Maybe. Say yes to yourself. I’d love to hear where your “yes” takes you!

P.S.- I also recently finished Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes, so I have no doubt that her advice was whispering to me when I signed up. I recommend her book to anyone feeling stuck and looking to make a leap.

#WisdomWednesday #amwriting #memoir #careercoaching #resumewriter

Fighting impostor syndrome with experience

I had an important meeting last week. I think it well. If it did, it could mean new, better, and different things for me professionally. So, of course, I am replaying every minute of it and thinking of all the things I didn’t say. “Oh man! I should have told them about this!” Or, “I forgot to mention that.” I’ve done this dance with impostor syndrome before. Shoulda. Coulda. Woulda.

It was only one week ago and they told me that it would be weeks before I hear anything. But, that’s not stopping me from jumping every time my phone rings or I get an email alert. I have even considered applying for other jobs that I know I don’t want.

I continue to torture myself. I am spending way too much time on social media. Because when I am feeling low about myself, the best place to turn is the internet!

“What’s your brand? I have no idea.

“Want more followers, more money, and more freedom?” Join this webinar, buy my class, and then in 1,000 easy blogging steps and ten years you’ll be an entrepreneur! 

Is your website on-point? Is it SEO? What does that even mean?

If any one of of my clients was talking about- or to- themselves the way I was talking to myself, I would have coached them out of it. And fast. I would never let one of my clients- or a friend- talk to herself that way. So why do I talk to myself that way? When things don’t go according to plan- which is pretty much always- I tend to spiral. It’s one of the many gifts of my east coast, competitive, type A personality.

I am also learning that spiraling is a symptom of lack of self-love.

I love myself. I do. But, I need to stop acting like it is a secret or something to hide. Women tend to be harder on themselves than necessary and downplay their accomplishments. It’s the 1-2 impostor syndrome sucker-punch. I chose “confidence” as my 2016 #oneword for that very reason. I want to get back to feeling grounded, resilient, confident.

I read or heard somewhere that one way to fight impostor syndrome, or any kind of spiral, is to reflect on your accomplishments. To spend time really thinking moments and experiences you are proud of.

I decided to share some of my list here. It was an act of self-love to write these all down. And, I am proud of myself. I am confident.

  • Carried, delivered, and then breastfed two babies
  • Did the above while enrolled as a full-time PhD student
  • Married 13 years to my best friend
  • Earned PhD in 5 years
  • Shepherded 3 yr-old son through cancer, also while a full-time PhD student
  • PhD loan is paid off (there was only one!)
  • Started Sheldrake Consulting so I can help others write their career stories
  • Made money in only 17 months of business
  • All clients have been through referrals; I have not done any serious PR or marketing of my business
  • Successfully negotiated an MBTI workshop rate that was 30% higher than previous year
  • Purchased summer cottage rental property business
  • Have given a FREE week-long vacation to 5 families with childhood cancer survivors
  • Shave head twice with 46 Mommas
  • Served on leadership team of 2 national head-shaving events
  • Raised almost $10,000 in donations for St. Baldrick’s Foundation
  • Got interviewed on live TV (twice)
  • Randomly contacted a stranger on Twitter and then got invited to do a podcast
  • Started writing memoir
  • Go to work. Every day.
  • Continue to raise two kind, honest, loving, affectionate, smart, generous young men who are constantly being complimented on their hearts, behavior, manners and positive attitude

I’m a little high from my list. What’s on your list? Have you taken the time to write it down? Do it. You’ll feel better.

And, if you’re anything like me, your impostor syndrome will go back in its hole where it belongs.