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Defining Fearless

Ready to take a swing at the world!

A few weeks ago I shared a post from my friend Lauree to kick off my personal series on being fearless, taking inspiration from my organization’s commitment to the movement. You’ll be seeing more from my friends in coming months, but for now, I wanted to share my own thoughts on what it has meant to Be Fearless for me in the past, what it means now, and what it could mean in the future.

As a little girl, I jumped into the swamps of Louisiana without a care for the alligators and snakes that could bite or kill me. I wanted to ride the boat or the jet ski or the bumper cars or four wheeler faster and farther. I loved playing hide and seek in the dark with my cousins in the old barns and sugarcane fields.

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Living Fearfully

Last week, the organization I work for declared its intention to Be Fearless in all that we do in 2012 in beyond. Inspired by our new message and journey, I am starting a Be Fearless blog series on Lagniappe, in which I’ll feature Fearless stories from guest bloggers, and my own reflections, in coming months. The first up is from my friend Lauree Ostrofsky, a DC-area life coach, who lives by the phrase “I’m scared and doing it anyway.”

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I'm scared & doing it anywayHow will I live fearlessly this year?

My first answer: I won’t.

Fearless – living without fear – sounds like a hero in an epic movie like Braveheart or Gladiator.

I’m more like Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan. I’d rather yell “get me out of here,” than face awful things. If I can’t be granted that, then I’ll begrudgingly do it.

How’s that for inspiration from a life coach?

I write about fear a lot. I face fear a lot. A recent blog post took me weeks to publish out of fear…of what the response might be, of how much I exposed about myself.

But, I published it.

If that is living fearlessly, than that’s what I do.

I have a mantra that began years ago while having surgery to remove a benign brain tumor: “I’m Scared & Doing it Anyway.” I believe that you can take fear by the hand and walk through the door. Fear is there. You see it. I see it. Move forward with it.

It’s living with fear, rather than without it.

Fear is there to keep you safe. Usually the thing you want most is not in the safe, comfortable territory you’re already in. So you and fear need a little chat: Yes, we want that…shiny new whatever. Yes, it’s outside of our comfort zone. Yes, it’s worth it. Let’s do it.

Back to living fearlessly. This year I will:

Be my own best friend. I will notice how I treat myself, what I tell myself, and choose better. The more I believe I’m worthy of loving kindness and generosity – and treat myself that way – the more I will receive it.

Date. (I may have just broken out in hives.) I will go on dates this year and meet a great guy. For some reason I’m scared about it right now, which means I need to do it. Gulp.

Challenge what is possible. There is no reason to settle. If I’m “trying to make it work,” whatever it is, it is a sign to find another way.

Being scared and doing it anyway, and living fearlessly, all comes down to starting. I will start this year. I will put one foot in front of the other. I will open to a blank page and write.

Who knows what will happen next?

Happy living fearfully to you.

Family matters: a Cajun story

In the swamp

In the swamp

Anyone that knows me knows how much I value my family. As an only child, I’m very close to my parents, and as the only “only” in my huge family, I was very close to my cousins growing up, and to all of my aunts and uncles. Moving away from my home state of Louisiana at a young age made it hard to stay close over the years, so I cherish every phone call, email, or visit with my relatives. I was fortunate enough to see both an uncle and an aunt this weekend in DC when they were passing through on business, and of course, there is always some reminiscing.

People who know me also know how much I love my Cajun heritage: with that comes our love of gathering over food, especially boiled seafood. So with that being said, at the risk of embarrassment, I’m going to share a story that I wrote in high school about one of my fondest memories growing up with my family in Louisiana — hanging out at my aunt’s camp on the lake and having a crab boil. The story itself doesn’t represent one particular day, but is more of a conglomeration of memories from over the years. It remains one of my favorite stories I’ve ever written, and when I do get together with my family for a crab or crawfish boil, I’m in my element, and at my happiest. So, please enjoy this little piece of me… lagniappe:

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Cajuns, Crabs, and Comfort

I was on my way home from a friend’s one afternoon, and I was in one of those nostalgic moods, the kind where everything suddenly seems dreamy and sad and I kept thinking about my innocent days as a child. Going forty-five on the road just before my neighborhood, I passed the familiar building which always has the two jet-skis parked out front. Usually I just think, “Oh, I wish I had a jet ski,” and drive on. This time was different. It brought me back to a place I used to go: a place of happiness, of family, and of love.

“Who wants crabs?” Aunt Denny’s rhetorical question rings out from inside the screened porch. Would anyone in this family ever not want crabs?

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DC Bucket List Redux: 5 year anniversary

Sugarloaf

The view from Sugarloaf

A year ago, I created a DC bucket list for my fifth year here, as a I celebrated my fourth anniversary of moving to the city. Below is the original list with the items I’ve completed crossed off. So I still have the remaining items to check off, and I’ve also added a few more things I want to do as I embark on my sixth year in DC. Thanks to all who have joined me in my bucket list adventures (and sorry to those that I haven’t yet arranged something with!) – I’m now accepting rolling offers to complete the rest and ideas to add to it! This year I will be much more diligent; I learned my lesson from the 11 things by 11/11/11 journey. And check out my Top 11 of 2011 for a short recap of what happened in my fifth year.

Must Do for Year 5

  • Go to the top of the Washington Monument
  • Eat at Art & Soul
  • Visit Ben’s Chili Bowl (I’ve only had it at Nats Stadium)
  • Attend a Caps game
  • See a concert at Verizon Center
  • Hike the Sugarloaf trail (thanks, Kim!)
  • Visit Mt. Vernon
  • Visit the Library of Congress
  • Visit the Supreme Court
  • Run the Capital Crescent trail
  • Do a night monument tour  (technically complete as I did a night run around the Mall.)
  • See a full show at the Kennedy Center (only saw a Millennium Stage show once)
  • See a play at the Shakespeare Theater  (ahh- I came so close to this!)
  • Eat at Ray’s Hell Burger
  • Visit the botanical garden
  • Visit all the museums that I’ve missed so far
  • Visit the National Archives

In addition to the yet-to-do above, here are some new ones for the list for year 6:

  • See a show at the 9:30 Club
  • Go ice skating in the sculpture garden
  • Attend a DC United game
  • Eat at all the Jose Andres restaurants that I haven’t covered yet
  • Eat at Old Ebbitt Grill
  • Fly a kite on the Mall
  • Visit the Goethe Institut
  • Attend an embassy event

I have my work cut out for me! Thanks DC for another great year, and I look forward to another amazing one!

Remind yourself what you deserve

You deserve better

Photo credit: spuddybuddies.com

When we are feeling rejected by someone or something, it’s easy to get down on ourselves and come up with all the reasons why it happened to us. It’s easy to try to rationalize someone else’s actions or decisions or find ways to defend them, even if they hurt us. It’s also common for us to settle for something less than great because we just want to feel accepted or appreciated, no matter the costs.

But we deserve better. You deserve better. I deserve better.

Think about it: a friend isn’t exactly being a good friend – they never call you back, they always have an excuse, maybe they failed to recognize some major moments in your life lately. You say, “Well, but they’re busy,” or “But they usually are a good friend.” Or perhaps you went on a few dates with someone, and started to get interested, and then they lie about something, or lead you on to think it’s something more. “Well, but they’re a nice guy/girl,” or “I should have known better.” Maybe a family member has continued to let you down over the years, but because they’re family, you let it slide.

We shouldn’t let it slide, anymore. What happened to honesty being the best policy? What happened to our friends being that – good friends? What about family who is supposed to be there for you instead of against you?

It’s in my blood to want closure when things don’t work out with people in my life, whether it’s friends, boyfriends, family members, or even coworkers. I want to get it all on the table, I want apologies said where necessary, I want to hug or shake hands and be able to move on. I hate just letting things go without clearing the air, but because of that, I also tend to give people a lot of second and third, maybe fourth and fifth chances. There are some people in my life I’ve given way too many passes, and it’s bitten me in the butt in return.

But then my lovely friend K reminds me that I deserve better. She says I’m too hard on myself. She tells me that when something doesn’t work with a guy, it’s because he’s not the guy for me, and that it’s not about me. She urges me to not deal with people who don’t want to put in the effort, who don’t appreciate me in the way I deserve to be appreciated. And it’s not because I’m more special than anyone else, or deserve more than anyone else, but it’s because I deserve the same things, really, that you deserve: respect, and honesty, and integrity, and love, and time. Because I’m a woman who lives and loves just like everyone else, with dreams, and goals, and good days and bad days, and because I should get something in return from my relationships, like we all want and need.

Remind yourself what you deserve. Remind others what you deserve and ask for it. It’s like I said before, if you want something, you have to go after it, and this is just as important as anything else. And don’t forget to give others what they deserve, too.

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