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Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

I didn’t expect it.

But there I was, standing in line at the Starbucks in the Washington DC airport. And I begin to cry. People around me must think I’m crazy. But it’s a minor breakdown – and it will pass soon.

The Toastmasters International Speech Contest is all over now. Out of 30,000 speakers competing, I’ve advanced to the final 98. Yes, I’m left standing with 1% of the greatest speakers in the world. We all started this journey over six long months ago. There was so much hard work, so many rewrites of my speech, and so many people who gave their time to me. But that’s all behind me now. And I don’t have a physical trophy to show for this last round of the contest.

Yes, I already know all the encouraging words that people will say:

You are a winner for getting this far
You did a great job and we are all proud of you
You are a better speaker and a better person because of this experience

My head knows all that. But my heart feels tired and rejected. You see, it was more than just a contest to me. It was exposing myself to the world, stepping out of my comfort zone and risking failure. It was accepting help from so many people and wanting to make them proud. It was taking a chance to see if I was “good enough.”

At first I try to hold back the tears and rationalize what has happened – and why it happened.

Then I decide to just let it be. You know what? I’m sad and I’m disappointed and I’m discouraged. And I decide to feel all those emotions and any others that may surface. I decide to embrace them and just let them happen. With time they will pass and I will rise, once again, stronger than ever.

Over 20 years ago, I saw a banner that said:

Feelings are neither right nor wrong, they just are.

20 years ago!!! And I still remember that saying today. So I decide to put it into practice. I will wrap my arms around all those crappy emotions, let the tears fall, and just plain feel. And I will be ok.

Categories: Personal Development Positive Thinking Professional Development Professional Speaker
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Find Happiness in Life’s Contrasts

I’m a city girl.  Always have been.  Always will be.

I was born in a big city, raised in a big city, and lived 63 years of my life in that same big city.

But the last couple of years have introduced me to a life that is a total contrast – 360 degrees – from what I’m used to.  Two years ago, everything changed and my life took a turn that lead me to a totally different lifestyle.

It’s interesting how some things can be so different, yet ultimately they are the same.

For instance, when I lived in the big city, traffic had me creeping along at 10 miles an hour until I was ready to scream and abandon my car.

Now, with no traffic, I still find myself creeping along at no more than 10 miles an hour because I’m stuck behind a huge piece of farm equipment and I can’t pass it.  I see all that open road ahead and I can’t get to it.  Again – wanting to scream and abandon my car.

In the big city, I couldn’t sleep at night because of the constant sirens and car horns beeping.  Now, in my quiet community, the frogs, crickets and owls keep me awake.  You may think that the later is more desirable, but if you can’t sleep, no matter what the reason is, it drives you crazy!!!

So what has all this contrast taught me?  One huge lesson – that there is a side of me that I didn’t even know existed.  This different way of life brings me new experiences every day, helps me grow, and become a more interesting, fulfilled person.

What contrast do you have in your life?  If you live in the city, do you take time to venture out into nature and enjoy something different?  If you live in a smaller town, what about stepping out of your comfort zone and experiencing the excitement that a city can offer?  Try it, and you will find things about yourself that you didn’t even know existed.

To prove it, here’s a photo of me, the city girl, actually picking strawberries that were grown in my own back yard.  They are delicious!  Yes, this is me, enjoying the contrast in my life.

Categories: Personal Development Professional Development
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Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

When you reach out and have the courage to step out of your comfort zone, you will learn some of the most amazing things about others – and yourself.  My goal for spending a month in a small English town was to immerse myself in another culture and learn a different way of life.  So one morning, I walk down to the town square and enter a local cafe.

A middle-aged gentleman is chatting (that’s what they call it in England) with the server behind the counter.  It’s a very small café so I can hear every word.  I decide to step out of my world and enter theirs.  A simple “hello” does it.

The next thing I know – I’m sitting across the table from the gentleman, sipping coffee, and I ask him one simple question:

“So, what do you do here in Dorchester?”

I have found that people love to talk about themselves, so this is always a great ice-breaker.  And if you listen – truly listen – you will learn so much about others, and ultimately yourself.

This gentleman responded: “a bell ringer”.

A what???  I didn’t even know that bell ringing was a profession, but here I was, sharing a “coffee date” with an official bell ringer of 31 years.

It made me realize that there are so many different paths in life we can take.  So try it.  Step out of your comfort zone and meet someone new.  All it usually takes is a simple smile, or a friendly “hello”.  And if you feel comfortable striking up a conversation, ask an open ended question to engage the other person.  In this world of texting and emails, sometimes it’s nice to have an actual conversation.  You never know what you may learn or where it may lead you.

Categories: Personal Development Professional Development
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