Be Bold. Be Awesome.

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Have you ever noticed that you don’t know you’re not being something, until you do something that reminds you of who you used to be?

Not clear? Let me try that again.

Earlier today, I made a bold move. Took a bold action. Not necessarily an unusual thing for me to do. Except…after I did it…I suddenly realized I hadn’t felt that feeling that I was feeling in that moment, in a very long time. It doesn’t matter what the thing was that I did. The point is, that in the doing of the thing, I was struck with how long it’s been since I’ve felt that way.

I took a few hits over the past year. Big ones. NFL Superbowl worthy hits. Life started to seem harder…And by harder, I mean…it became easier to call in sick, or stay in bed, or in my pajamas watching Netflix all day. It became easier than allowing another hit. No way could my body take another hit. If I holed up at home, and didn’t put myself out there, in anyway, perhaps the hits would stop.

What’s funny, is that I never stopped preaching the importance of being bold. Of stepping in. Of leaping. Of “going for it”. It just took me until today to realize I haven’t been living it. Whoa. Big. BIG personal integrity issue for me to address. I’ve always prided myself on the fact that I’m someone who lives life on the court, playing the game, doing the things, taking the risks…and yet. I stopped and I didn’t even notice.

I think that’s the saddest realization of all. I stopped and I didn’t even notice. I went from a techni-colour life, back to a black and white one, and didn’t notice. Now, I know I’m not alone in this. We all do it. At different times in life, things happen, and we cocoon into our ‘safe zone’. We all have one. Mine sounds a little bit like “I am never going through that again.” Whatever “that” is…we’ve all been there. We all have made decisions that make us take a few steps back. It’s the act of being human. It’s just what we do.

We get our hearts broken. We lose a parent. We lose our job. We cheat on someone. We wrong someone else, and a list of a thousand other “we” sentences. And then, we shut down. We stop growing. We stop showing up. We stop participating in life. And we don’t even know we are doing it. Not until the moment something shifts. Like the subtle shift that happened for me today.

I have been afraid to put myself out there. To risk looking bad. To risk being hurt. To risk…anything. It was subtle. I took the necessary time I needed to deal with what I needed to deal with. And only today did i see the residual effects. The lingering of the fear. Our unconscious is very powerful, so if our brains are telling us not to take the risk, we won’t, and we tell ourselves it was a “good” decision.

Ever notice, when you have a decision to make, you think about it, and you stew over it, and you convince yourself you’re not ready…and then the opportunity passes you by.  That’s some old thought/experience that’s back there, making the decision for us. In my case, I’ve built a proverbial iron cage around my heart, even though on the outside it looks like my heart is wide open to every single experience, it’s not – It’s locked up tight. I can’t let anyone get in there…every corner, and crevice is sealed tight.

But for what? What am I saving it for? I like to think that I want to be thoroughly used up when I die…and yet…I’m unwilling to unlock the one piece of me that matters the most. The one piece of me that has me be out in the world, doing all the things I am so passionate about.

**side note – I’ve been obsessively listening to this song called “The History of my Heart” from the Nashville Soundtrack. Yes. That’s right. I said Nashville. I can’t get enough of that show. I am obsessed with that show. When I’m not watching that show, I’m thinking about that show. When I’m watching something else, I feel like I’m cheating on that show. Go ahead and judge me. I’m awesome. I can handle it.

Anyway…I’ve been obsessively listening to this song, and while it’s mostly speaking about love lost…It’s also about that no matter where we go, no matter who we are with, no matter what happened…that experience will stay with us. Because it is a part of who we are. Our history. It’s all a part of our history, and always will be.

Which means we are creating our history every single moment, of every single day. As someone said to me this afternoon, “when you’re on your deathbed, you don’t want to wish you had…” There is something to be said for spontaneous moments, and inspiration. If you’re not inspired by your own self…do something about that. Believe me, you’ll walk with a new spring in your step. You’ll feel proud. You’ll walk taller.  You’ll be owning that awesome of yours.

And best of all…you’ll feel more alive. And by you, I actually mean me. I promise.

Rita xo

 

 

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Sticks and Stones And Words That Hurt You

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I was recently “cat fished”.

In case that’s a word you’re not familiar with, according to Urban Dictionary, here is the definition: Being deceived over online profiles as the deceiver professed their romantic feelings to his/her victim, but isn’t who they say they are.

It’s a loose description. There’s a whole documentary about it. It happens. Usually to older, unsuspecting people, usually women, but I never would’ve thought that it would happen to me. I spent 2 weeks talking to this guy, he was charming and open and lovely and very handsome, mature etc. All the things you would expect. Now, I’m not an online virgin. It’s not like I don’t know the way of the world…but I got duped by this guy. Turns out, he was just out to get his rocks off without having to leave the house. For all I know, he could be a perverted 80 year old man sitting in a retirement home with a laptop and free WiFi.

It happens. I know it happens. Knowing it happens, doesn’t make it any easier when it does happen. I felt like a chump for a few days. How did I miss that? It wasn’t even as though anything major happened. I woke up 2 weeks into it with a niggling feeling I couldn’t shake. And it turns out I was right. No fireworks. No money lost. Just someone with no regard for another human.

So while my ego took a bit of a hit, do you know what was hit even harder? My heart. Knowing that there is someone in the world, someone who got into MY world, who deceives people for hours a day, every single day. How on earth did someone like that get through? How did I not see it?

Anytime something like that happens, whether it’s to me directly, or whether it’s something that happens to another, I feel it. There is nothing awesome about deceiving someone…whether it’s to deliberately cat fish someone, or whether it’s to lie or steal from them. What’s the purpose? To hurt another? Is that how you win?

I just watched a video of one of our weather reporters in Vancouver, on one of the major news networks, get attacked via an anonymous letter because she’s pregnant and the viewers think they have a right to write in and tell her what they think of the clothes she’s wearing and how they think she looks in them. They feel she should be wearing “more appropriate” maternity attire and use words that no one has the right to say to another.  Course if they were well known fashion designers they would’ve signed their names to the letters they sent.  That’s just not nice.

I read that Kathy Griffin is leaving some talk/fashion show she was one of the hosts of because she could no longer perpetuate the culture of bullying celebrities based on how they look or what they wear. While I’m not a huge fan of Kathy Griffin, I applaud her reasons for leaving the show.

And then, just a few minutes ago, I read this post about Monica Lewinsky and her TEDtalk. I saw Monica’s talk on another platform shortly before her TEDtalk in Vancouver. I was excited for her. She had an opportunity to finally face the public and share what her life has been like since she was the first person publicly shamed via the internet.  At 24, what Monica went through, no one should ever have to go through, no matter how old. She isn’t responsible for the state of affairs in America or any other country. She just did what she did when she was 24. Aren’t there things you did in your 20s you cringe thinking about now that you’re older and you know better?

I bet none of those shenanigans ended up on the internet. So this post I just read…Made me cry. Why? Because people can be so hurtful and mean. Social media has made it easier, and quite frankly, acceptable for the most part to be mean to someone online.  Teenagers are killing themselves because of cyber bullying. That is not okay.

When did we stop being awesome to each other? When did it become “normal” to be anything less than kind? Considerate? Aware of another person’s feelings?  I am always mortified by the comments left on photos/posts/youtube videos. When did things become so personal? When did it become okay to hurt someone’s feelings knowingly? Intentionally?

I don’t know what to do about it. I don’t have a solution. It breaks my heart every single day to see things like this go on. Monica Lewinsky is ever so brave for taking what happened to her, for turning her shame into something positive. Something that could potentially make a difference in the world. And yet, people still want to bring her down?

Don’t you think there’s enough of that going on in the world right now?  How about we just stop doing it? How about we go back to lifting each other up, rather than doing whatever we can to tear each other down?

Isn’t that the world you want to live in? One where your kids get to grow up knowing they are awesome? One where you get to tell your friends how awesome they are just because they are. One where you know there isn’t anything that you can’t do because you have people who have your back? A world where you get to wake up every day knowing feeling awesome because you were awesome to another?

Doesn’t THAT sound like a much better world to live in?

So can we please just stop with the mean, hurtful, horrible things and return ourselves back to loving each other?

“We talk a lot about our right to freedom of speech, but we need to talk more about our responsibility to freedom of speech.” ~ Monica Lewinsky

Rita xo

If Not You…Then Who?

Sometimes, we can’t plan it…

Not that long ago, a young teenage girl not far from where I am, killed herself. She’d been bullied in school for quite some time, and she couldn’t take it anymore. We forget, that at that age, our friends, schoolmates, and now, social media, are our whole life. If we don’t have the acceptance of that triad, we have nothing. You might even say, she was bullied to death. I wept when I heard about it, and I watched what happened when a friend of hers created a page on Facebook so friends and family could grieve together, by posting photos and loving messages in her memory. Instead, what happened was, people continued to bully her. Even in death, the comments being made on that page, and on the photos were disturbing. I couldn’t read them. I couldn’t bring myself to know that this poor girl, even after she’d died, still had to undergo the criticism and scrutiny from people who hadn’t actually taken the time to get to know her. To make themselves feel better, they needed to make sure she felt bad about herself.

I shake my head as I write this. That this is what it’s come to. Being grateful to not be in highschool now. I want to cry when I think about my nephews in a few years, entering the schools when this is what is going on. I want to weep for them and for the terrible things that other kids may say to them. I’m not saying I was immune to it. I had some experiences with being bullied, and being mocked, and being made to cry. But never, EVER did I consider killing myself over it. That wasn’t what life was about back then.

It was just easier.

This past weekend, I shared about ownyourawesome while in a course, and doubled over in tears when I talked about the message I want to share with the world, and the world in which I am sharing it into. It doesn’t line up.

How can I possibly tell people that they are awesome and all the reasons why, when kids are literally killing themselves. How can I possibly put out a book telling people how to be awesome, when this is the world we live in? How can I do it? How can I risk being heartbroken every single time someone kills themselves because they couldn’t see how brilliant they really are, or because someone told them they aren’t? The death of the teenage girl, left me heartbroken. But I couldn’t tell anyone that I’d taken it so personally because I didn’t know her. It sounded crazy, in my own head.

See, that’s the thing about not saying something out loud. It makes us sound crazy. Where, once I said it out loud, I could then start to think about something else.

Like..maybe I COULD take the message global.

But I couldn’t see it until I said it out loud. Until I shed the tears and said the words. That I felt I had failed this young girl, and all those who may come after her. For not getting the message out fast enough.  I cried until all I could say was “Who am I to tell anyone anything about anything…”

And the woman who was leading the course, said to me…“Rita. If not you…then who?”

That’s all I needed to hear. My heart is going to break every single time something like this happens. My life is going to alter every single time I hear another story of another person (child or adult) being bullied or taunted for being different, or for being themselves. My conversations are going to get deeper. More fulfilling. My message is going to get out there.

Why? Because THAT is what I said matters to me.

So if there’s something that you want to do that will ultimately change the world you live in…do it. Let’s do it together. Let’s take on a world that isn’t set up for awesome, and plant a flag.

Why? Because we said it mattered.

Anything other than that is just a bunch of background noise.

go be awesome.

Rita

How to Be Awesome When Life Goes Sideways

Listen.  Life is going to kick us in the shins every now and again.  Things are going to go sideways more often than we can count.

Relationships will ebb and flow, and we’ll have a hard time not eating that extra piece of chocolate cake, or the job we apply for isn’t going to happen.

Friends are going to talk behind our backs, we’re going to injure ourselves at the gym, or on the run, or getting off the couch, or heading downstairs to do laundry (trust me..I tore my Achilles taking a step down to finish doing laundry – CRAZY!), and we’re going to get down on ourselves with a whole lot of negative self talk when our focus shifts from what matters to us, to something a little bit more manageable and trivial.

In my case, the people at TEDx haven’t been in touch and they are announcing their speakers starting next week.  If I were going to be one of their speakers, I would’ve heard from them already.  A really good reason for me not to be awesome don’t you think?

When in reality, I had the balls to send in a speaker application. Did you hear that.  I. HAD. THE. BALLS. TO APPLY.  THAT is what makes me awesome! The other day, a friend of mine, sent me an email.  She often sends me emails, randomly, so the other day was no exception.  In the email she’d sent a link. The email said “I think you need to apply to be on the Jeff Probst show.” So, I opened up the link, and I applied. There’s a question on the application that says “Share your story”…so I shared a story. I didn’t know exactly what story they wanted, as I had no context for why she wanted me to apply. But I did it anyway.

Why?  Because life is so much more fun being a YES than a maybe, or an outright no. 

There is so much more to life than the neighbour keeping you up at night, or a job not being gotten, or a bill not getting paid, or a car breaking down, or a flat tire.  Even when all of those things happen, we still have the option. Do we keep being awesome, or do we let those things take us sideways? Is life really about circumstances? Are we only temporarily awesome?  Are we fair weather awesome? No. It’s all in perspective. Choice.

One of my most favorite things is when someone says “I’ve had the worst day ever!” And I ask “Tell me what happened…” And they start off with “Well my car wouldn’t start…” Or the one that always makes me smile on the inside “Someone cut me off on the way to work this morning…” Then I say “And then what happened…?” And they say…”Well, nothing. But the day just sucked.”

We all have the option to hit the reset button at any time. There’s no rule book that states that just because you got cut off on the way to work, or you missed your bus, or your car wouldn’t start, or you had a flat tire, that says you no longer have to be awesome in the rest of your life. Not even close.

I used to be one of those people.  Something slightly off kilter would happen, and it would make me cranky and turn my entire day into a schmozzle.

Then, something else happened. I started to see my life differently.  I started to notice that something happened, and I could let it make me cranky for the rest of the day and impact every single person I came into contact with through the entire day OR I could take that thing that happened, look at it for a few minutes, examine it, turn it around, see it from another angle, maybe talk to someone about it, and then, hit reset.

Nothing says we have to let one bad thing take us out of the rest of our lives.  Missing the bus doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Maybe you missed the first bus so you could get on the next one, and meet a super cute guy…or maybe you got a flat tire, so you wouldn’t be on the road at the same time a house is being moved which would make you late for work anyway. There are so many other perspectives. So many other ways of seeing life.

We all have moments where life goes sideways.  We all have that in common.  It happens.  Nothing can change that it happens. It just does. It’s not personal. It just happens. And contrary to popular belief, it happens to good people.

It’s how we interpret what happened that sets the stage for life.

What if the awesome meter was always set to awesome?  What if we could alter our own experiences of life simply by changing the setting?  What if you just shifted your perspective slightly from what happened being a personal attack to a life experience that could potentially teach you something?  What if your level of brilliance had nothing to do with the “what happened’s”?  What if you were amazing simply because you were?

I bet you’d walk taller. I bet you’d strut more.

So. Here’s my challenge to you. The next time something happens, and you see your day/life going sideways faster than you can say supercalafragalisticexpialadotious, remember the reset button. Take a deep breath. Sit up, and put your shoulders back, and reset yourself to awesome.

go be awesome

Rita

Don’t Forget To Be Awesome

Yesterday, I got a call from a friend who wanted some “advice” on how to maintain his schedule, especially in regards to his workouts. He is committed to sleeping for 8 hours, and  working out in the morning. Often he wakes up tired and doesn’t want to work out, and rather than managing his schedule the night before to ensure he gets his 8 hours AND still gets up in the morning to work out he stays in bed.  Imagine how crazy making that must be!  He wanted to know how I manage to go and work out AND be so excited about it.

There’s no easy answer to this. Exercise sucks. For most of us. I don’t really know anyone who loves getting up when it’s cold and dark and raining or God forbid – snowing, to get out of a nice cozy warm bed, and go do what you said you would do. But here’s the thing. If you said you would do something, and then you don’t do it, something happens.

For the most part, I like to think of the world, and the people in it, as kind and generous. We may not always be that for ourselves, and sometimes, we may not even be that to each other, but that’s how I like to view the world. We make promises to each other, and we do what we can to keep them. And sometimes, we are unable to keep them and then we apologize which is never bad. But what about those promises that we make to ourselves?  What about those?  You know the ones.

I’ll work out starting tomorrow.

Tomorrow I’m not going to eat out.

Tomorrow, I”m going to join the gym.

Tomorrow night I’m going to make sure I get 8 hours of sleep.

Tomorrow, I’m going to respond to that email.

Tomorrow.

And then, tomorrow happens, and we stay up too late, and wake up tired, so we can’t go work out, and after work we’re too tired from all the food we ate that we shouldn’t have eaten, that we just want to go home and have a nap, so maybe, I’ll wait until tomorrow to join the gym.  One more day isn’t going to kill me.

But what if it does?  What if the words you say to yourself are equally as valuable as the words and promises you say to another?  Why is it easier for us to disappoint ourselves but we try and avoid that with others?

Why do your words not matter to you?

Something starts to happen inside when we stop honouring our own promises to ourselves. We start to doubt ourselves.  We start to relate to ourselves as someone who is unreliable. We start to convince others that we can’t be relied upon. People start to stop believing us when we promise something. We take on some kind of fitness challenge, and secretly, others are thinking in the back of their minds “Yah..sure.” We start to see ourselves in a lesser light.

We stop being awesome.

All because we said something and then we didn’t do it.

We start to tolerate it, more and more, until we stop making promises. Until we can’t bring ourselves to take on another challenge, because even we know we won’t do it.

When deep down, all we really want is to be awesome.

Our words are what make us awesome. Who we be in the world, is all based on our words. We speak it. We be it. We are awesome.

So please.  Don’t forget to be awesome.

It’s what makes the experience of life exceptional.

go be awesome

Rita

One Bold Action Step = Awesome

So much is happening so fast, that I haven’t had a moment to update you on what IS going on.  People are curious.  That’s what happens when something awesome happens.  So, although the site is still something I’m working on, and this isn’t really the place where I want to share “updates” like this, it seems appropriate to share with you what’s been happening.

Since announcing ownyourawesome I’ve had so many people, so excited! I sense it’s big.  My sense is I don’t even know how big yet.  And it’s coming, I can feel that.

Tomorrow, is the first of many photo shoots with my good friend and amazing photographer Jodi to get some great shots for the website.  It’s just a place to start.  She has some great ideas and I’ve got pink boxing gloves.  Let’s see what we can do with that.

Monday, I have a meeting with a friend who also happens to be a communications specialist, who has offered to write a bio for me since I’m going to need one.  She wants to be involved in any aspect of ownyourawesome that’s how excited she was when she read about it.

After sending the original announcement to a woman who gave me my very first opportunity to speak at an event, she replied within moments of reading it and invited me to speak about it at an event on August 31st as well as at a conference in March!  I’m already booked for March!  Who knows what could happen by then!

Last Friday, I “hired” my Executive Director for Camp Awesome.  She is a dear friend, a mum, a huge lover of children, a former teacher, and someone who has dreamed of running her own summer camp.  It’s amazing what comes out of having passionate conversations with people.  She is such a gift.  We have our very first focus group scheduled for September 22nd with adults who are amazing at what they do, in regards to working with children and awesome related things.  Originally, I thought Camp Awesome would have to wait, and then my new Executive Director appeared.

I may not entirely have the long term vision, or what this is going to look like once it’s fully evolved, and despite not knowing, I may feel fear, and on occasion, doubt, and where we’d often normally let the fear or the doubt lead the pack and stop, this matters to me more than the fear.  It just feels right.  So I’m going t with it. I am setting up meetings, creating plans, meeting with people, ordering merchandise, researching government grants, looking for property, all because of an epiphany and because it feels right.

Speaking of which, I ordered business cards (and one pen).

So the lesson in this thus far…one bold action step in front of the other, no matter what.

Chris Guillebeau, I believe you and the other awesomeness I discovered at WDS may have just altered the course of my life.

go be awesome