Thursday, October 1, 2015

31 Days of Reinvention: Improving Your Image and Self-Esteem One Day at a Time

The road to reinvention is a never ending path in self exploration.  When I started this blog (almost 5 years ago - wow!), my intention was to reinvent myself into the person I always imagined myself as:  responsible, organized, thoughtful, fashionable, confident - the list really does go on and on - and I have slowly and surely been making those small changes in my life to realize the new and improved me.  But I'm not there yet.  Traveling along this road of reinvention is not easy.  It requires focus, dedication, drive, and a hell of a lot of motivation.  This road can be full of potholes, twists and turns, blind hills and curves, and is full of tempting rest areas to stop along the way.  Deciding to embark on a journey down Reinvention Road is as intimidating and scary as it is exciting and thrilling.  Although you'll never reach the end of this road, the journey is worth it and the journey is really what it's all about.

There are so many ways you can choose to reinvent yourself.  You can become more thoughtful, you can become more outgoing, you can become more artistic, you can become more organized, you can become more of anything you set your mind to.  With all the different ways to reinvent yourself, I put myself to the task of picking one and focusing on writing about it every day in October as part of the Write31 project.  Yeah, I know it's a little crazy to try to write about the same topic for 31 days, but what am I if not a little crazy???

Two weeks ago, I attended the Blog Elevated conference in Grapevine, TX (recap coming soon!), and along with learning a ton of amazing blog advice, I took the time to do my hair and makeup every morning and I carefully picked out some fun and funky outfits; I haven't felt that good about myself in a very long time.  Unknown to me at the time, Dennis took a video that weekend of me and Jack together.  I watched it for the first time last night, and I saw the person I want to be and the person I can be with just a little motivation, focus, and dedication.  I was centered, confident, patient, kind, silly, and engaged in ways I'm not when I don't feel like I'm at my best.  I realized that I've fallen into the trap of the mommy wardrobe of yoga pants and a t-shirt with a default pony tail and no makeup.  My low maintenance became no maintenance and my self esteem and confidence plummeted.  My countenance had become sloppy and I just stopped caring - it's such a slippery slope for me.  Don't get me wrong - I don't think there's a thing wrong with the mommy wardrobe of yoga pants and a t-shirt.  It's comfortable, practical, and easy, and with just a smidge of effort doesn't have to be sloppy, but I was abusing the comfort and ease of yoga pants and I looked and felt like hell.  Not to mention my attitude and mood were being negatively impacted.  Nobody wants that for themselves.  I know I sure don't.

I used to think image didn't matter.  I believe that no one should be judged by the way they look.  The color of your hair or your tattoos and piercings have no bearing on your ability to do a job.  The clothes you choose to wear, whether or not you put on makeup, and how you style your hair have nothing to do with your intelligence.  Your weight has nothing to do with whether or not you should get promoted.  I will rally to my dying breath for workers to have the right to dress and look how they choose, and I believe that being able to embrace who you are and express that by the way you dress makes everyone more grounded, centered, and more comfortable, and therefore, better able to perform at work.  I will also rally to my dying breath against school uniforms; most people's chance to truly express themselves slowly goes away as we get older - why should children be robbed of that opportunity entirely? (I digress, but I am passionately against school uniforms).

However, one thing I have learned is that image does  matter, but not in the way I used to think.  My belief that I shouldn't care about what other people thought of my image (and no one should worry about what someone else thinks about their image) had slowly morphed into believing that I shouldn't care about my own image.  And that is the wrong way to think.  Caring about how you look means that you care about yourself.  Caring about how you look means you will put forth the effort to look the way you want instead of just throwing on the nearest item of (maybe) clean clothes and looking like a disheveled unkempt mess.  Caring about how you look doesn't mean fitting into a cookie cutter mold, it means taking the time to present yourself in a polished manner.  No one should be judged by the style they choose to have, but being messy, dirty, wrinkled and generally unkempt will make you feel bad about yourself and people will judge you.  Right or wrong.  You will lose confidence in yourself and others will feel it.  Taking the time to care about how you look and presenting your best self tells the world that you are a force to be reckoned with.

I want you to think about your image right now and how you present yourself to the world.  I want you to think about what you like about your style and what you want to change.  Do you want to start building a new wardrobe or try a new hairstyle?  Do you want to make a small change like wearing makeup more often or incorporating more color in your closet?  Now I want you to list 5 things you like about your image and 5 things you don't like.  Then list 5 things you want your image to be and 5 things you don't want your image to be.  This exercise is inspired by Marie Bonaccorse, aka, the Sassy Tweetress - she spoke at Blog Elevated and was amazingly inspirational.  Now, go share your lists on my Facebook Group where we can all connect and cheer each other on while we reinvent ourselves!

Stick around this month while we explore what it takes to reinvent your image and personal style, whether that be an extreme self makeover or a subtle refinement of what it means to be you.  I'll talk about finding your authentic self and expressing who you really want to be.  We'll look inward and tackle the demons of bad self esteem and boost our confidence.  This journey won't end in 31 short days, but it's a great jumping off place to looking and feeling better about yourself, and building your self esteem and confidence.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

How to Survive a Blog Conference When You're Socially Awkward, Shy, Introverted, Have Social Anxiety,or are Otherwise Socially Compromised

I'm going to Blog Elevated again this year, ya'll (what what!!!), and despite this being my third time to go to a blog conference, I still get sweaty palms and a little nauseous at the prospect of all that networking and small talk and meeting people.  Yes, believe it or not, extroverted little ole me gets super nervous and hella awkward in most social settings.  I always feel like I talk too much, talk too loudly, laugh too much (re:  nervously), make socially awkward references to nerd culture that nobody gets (and of course laugh too much at said reference), overtalk or have awkward silent pauses, and am barely able to hold my spazz to tolerable levels.

Since this is my third conference to attend, I've learned to bring my spazz to (somewhat) manageable levels, but if you're shy, nervous, socially awkward, or have anxiety about being in large crowds and actually having to network your way through them, this post is for you!  Whether or not you've ever been to a blog conference, chances are you've been in some kind of social situation where you felt overwhelmed and nervous - we all have - and these tips will help you get through your anxiety and make the most of a group of strangers.

  • Just Breathe. I know when I'm feeling nervous about something, my pulse races, my stomach drops, and my breathing gets shallow and rapid.  I feel shaky, can't focus, and am weak in the knees.  In other words, my fight, flight, fright reflex is triggered and I'm useless.  Useless!  When you feel like this, take a minute or two by yourself to close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing.  Breathe slowly and deeply in through your nose and out your mouth.  Inhale for a count of five and exhale for a count of ten.  Try to feel your heartbeat slowing down and let your mind go blank.  This will help slow your pulse, keep you from hyperventilating, and will help your mind stop racing.   I usually do this in the car before I go into an event.
  • Bring a Friend and if you can't bring a friend, have someone on standby that you can call or text if you really start freaking out.  For me, this is usually Dennis.  I can remember going to a mixer for the Houston film industry back when I was really trying to break into film acting.  I was super excited to be going to this mixer and knew it would be full of people I'd never met before that I'd need to chat up, impress, and hopefully work with someday.  Of course, Den came with for moral support; on the way I started getting nervous and it was only getting worse as we parked.  We had to walk a couple of blocks to the bar where the mixer was, and by the time we got to the door, I was so freaked out I walked right past the bar to the end of the block, sat down on a bench, put my head between my knees, and had a full on anxiety attack.  I was like, there is NO WAY I am going in there, we HAVE TO GO HOME.  NOW!!!  And Dennis totally talked me down.  He stayed calm and level headed the whole time.  I finally made it into that mixer and met some people I'm still friends with today.  So, have a friend who is willing to talk you down either there with you or who can be a text away.
  • Wear Comfy Clothes!  Now is not the time to try out a new look or to wear something you're not comfortable in!!!  You will end up feeling even more awkward if you're not 100% comfortable with what you're wearing.  Check out this post on what to wear to a blog conference - trust me, you don't want to be worrying about what you're wearing on top of worrying about how to interact with strangers.  Yes, you want to look nice at a professional event, and a blog conference is one place where you can definitely stray from the widely accepted business casual look, but you don't want to show up feeling like you're dressed like Cher at the 1986 Academy Awards, either (for the record, I love that outfit and would totally rock that look if I had the chance and the abs).
  • Read Other People's Blogs.  Find out who else is going to the conference and/or speaking and read some of their posts (don't forget to comment).  Is there a FB group for attendees?  Join that and introduce yourself.  If you start getting to know the other bloggers in the comfort of your own home, seeing them in person will be that much easier.  WARNING:  Don't binge read everyone's blogs and if you do, don't reference posts from 2008.  You'll sound like a crazy cyber-stalker.  Nobody likes a crazy cyber-stalker.
  • Find a Place to Recharge, and I'm not talking about your electronics (although you'll probably need to do that, too).  I know I can get pretty drained when I have to meet new people and not act like a spazz.  Small talk can take a lot out of anyone and if you know you're going to get overwhelmed, find a place away from everyone where you can be alone to recharge a little.  Since most conferences are either at hotels or conference centers, I like to find a hallway nearby that's not being used as a throughway  for conference traffic and just be alone for a few minutes.  If you can't find a hallway, locate the second closest set of bathrooms - chances are those bathrooms will have less people using them.  Going outside for a few minutes is a good idea, too, but beware of doors that lock!!  I may or may not have locked myself out of the conference center last year and I may or may not have had to walk all the way around the building to get back in.  Being sweaty and winded does not go well with the feelings of embarrassment that go along with getting yourself locked out.  Just sayin'.  One bonus about conferences is that they're mostly lecture sessions where you're only listening, taking notes, and learning awesome things and not having to do too much interacting.
  • Practice Your Elevator Pitch.  This one always gets me, "What do you blog about?"  I always feel like a deer caught in the headlights when someone asks me this and I usually muster an awkwardly long answer full of self depreciation.  Nobody likes to hear someone self depreciate.  It's weird, and you don't want a practical stranger to have to try to validate you (which, in my experience, is what most people try to do to make things less awkward).  To avoid this very uncomfortable situation, practice what you'll say about your blog.  It doesn't have to sound like a marketing pitch - just an honest (brief) explanation of what you write about.  And don't sell yourself short!!!  Some of the people you meet might be the PR people who can get you paying assignments for your blog.

I could go on and on about all the ways an introvert can survive a blog conference, but for me, these are the tools I use most often.  Conferences are supposed to be a fun way to learn new things, hone skills you already have, and to meet like minded people.  Don't let your social anxiety get in the way of that.  In the end, you'll be really glad that you stepped outside your comfort zone.  And if all else, fails, grab a glass of wine to loosen up!  Liquid courage, my friends, liquid courage!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Day in the Life, June 1, 2015 and July 1, 2015

I know, I know, I fell off the blogging wagon again....but in my defense, I did just quit my job and open my own business, so things have been a little crazy around here.  I was doing pretty well with the Blog Everyday in May challenge, but then I came to my senses and realized that since my last day at a real job was at the end of May, I needed to prioritize my time towards getting everything ready and stuff.  June was totally frenzied, but I might be finally settling in now that July is here.  There's still a TON of things to do for my business, but the dust is settling.

June 1st was my first real day in business at my new place.  I had seen one client at the end of May, but June 1st I actually had 2 clients, TWO CLIENTS!!!  I think I was nervous about that day because I was up on my own (without an alarm) at just before 7am.  #weird  Here's my day, and if you want to follow along next month in real time, head on over to Instagram and follow me there!!!

Bolivar wants attention

working on my FB page

balancing books

10 am
heading for Mimi's

table set up

waiting on my client to find my new place

they signed up for a membership!!!!  #happydance

I was in session and took this when I was done - this is my view from my therapy room to my office

first thing to eat all day - I was so nervous I forgot to eat breakfast

my early morning is trying to kill me
coffee is the only thing that will save me

washing sheets

view from my office

texturing and painting the patched wall

what's for dinner???

also 8pm
pretty sky




July 1st snuck up on me (like most months do).  I had a repeat of #noblogmarch in June, but this time it was because I was so stupid busy getting everything started with my new business (holy shit, I'm my own boss - still so surreal).  July 1st was also a work day for me, but I only had one client, but this time I was seeing the client at their house instead of at my office.  It was a busy day.

again, up at 7 on my own
this is my view from my bed
also - I really need to clean Jack's room
damn you, Facebook
wakey, wakey
finally accomplishing something
the flat iron came out, and I didn't cry
rain, rain, rain - heading to Mimi's
trading vehicles with Den
in the Trooper-mobile
learning about FB Insights
have massage table, will travel

My appointment was at 7pm, and it would've been totally weird to take a picture of my client's house just to represent the hour I was not even a #latergram of what I was doing at 7.

loaded up and headed home
somebody missed Mommy
dinner time
yes, we sometimes eat dinner at 10pm

Jack was in bed by 11 and I fell asleep in his bed with him.  Such a long day!!!  Maybe I'll finally start getting back into the swing of things and start blogging again, again.......again (how many times can I say that???)  Anyway, I hope ya'll had a great June and let's all have an awesome July!

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