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The Choice Really is Yours

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A break through. Even clouds need one.

I used to look at all the other students in my art class and wonder to myself, “what am I doing here?” They were so much more talented. I was learning. I was improving. Their’s was a natural talent. I felt like I didn’t belong amongst them.

Then, I walked into Art History class. I was the teachers pet. She asked me why I wasn’t pursuing a writing career. I laughed it off. “Writing is just a hobby. Anyone can do it,” I would tell her.

My talents as a painter are decent. I practiced a lot back then. What I didn’t know is, although my painting skills were good, it wasn’t my genius. I wasn’t truly in my lane. I was sitting in that class trying to be better than people that I had no business trying to compete with. Afraid to be the worst artist in the room. Not like I was planning on having a show in anyone’s art gallery any time in the future.

What I thought of as just a hobby turns out to be the talent I should have been chasing. I found out that not everyone can write back to back novels for the fun of it. That all the stories running around in my head had a purpose. I, and my ego, were too busy being competitive in places that had nothing to do with my genius.

Even today, at work, I wanted to be the go-to, know-it-all guru. Then I remembered the scripture, well, I think its a scripture. We’ll say I heard a religious person say, “God doesn’t bless you where you don’t belong.” Its been established that I don’t belong here. Every time I sign up for a Java, C++ or Python course, I get really depressed. I can do it. I practice. I just don’t want to do it.

So let me ask, where in your life are you showing up but don’t belong? Where are you not seeing growth, or blessings? There could be a reason. You could be the square peg, and “it” could be a circle. No matter how you shift and shake, its not going to work out well. Sure, the sides will begin to dull, but the fit is still going to be an uncomfortable fit. Yet, somehow, we pretend it’s not that uncomfortable.

How do you get to the truth? How do you stop ignoring signs that are pointing, screaming and ready to knock you over to get your attention? How do you stop telling yourself that you are stuck?

You make a choice.

Too simple, I know. And because it is so simple, it scares us. It requires us to take responsibility for ourselves. And trust me, I understand the fear in that. I don’t want to stand in the mirror and admit that the last 15 years are my fault. I want it to be someone else’s responsibility. I proudly gave my speech blaming the system. That no one gave me a chance. I boldly said, “I did everything right!”

The system, the unfair world…you know what? That simple fix is also what got me into a life that was not fulfilling. We have been making choices this entire time. I made the choice to settle. So, technically, I have been responsible for where I am today. If I choose safe or if I choose writing, I am responsible.

I am responsible for how I react to obstacles. I am responsible for deciding if I want to stay miserable or go on an adventure. Sure, I have obligations and a teenage son to consider. Those things aren’t stopping me.

Are you looking at your obligations as excuses? That is a choice. You don’t need permission to make a different choice. You get to chose what is best for you. You. Are. Responsible.

And, you are so worth it!

-Portia

Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe

I saw a meme that read, “I belong in any room I walk into. I get the concept of what it means. However, I don’t fully agree with it. I say that because sometimes we become so adamant about belonging, that we conform to fit in.

I know I am guilty of it. Especially if you have fought long and hard to get there. What I’ve learned is that in trying to prove I belong, I don’t grow. I settle because I feel like I made it.

When I was younger,  I lived in Augusta, GA for a year. Home of the The Masters golf championship. At that time, women were fighting for the right to be part of the old boy’s golf clubs. My attitude back then was why fight for entry into their club? Let’s build our own! I still feel that way.

Everyone wants a seat at the table. That’s normal. The question to ask is, are we at the right table. Is your vibe attracting the right people in your life? Guiding you in the right direction? What thoughts are you giving out? Where are you thinking from? Fear? Worry? Are you asking questions like why?

I did all the things I could think to do to be seen at my day job. Then I looked around and realized I had nothing in common with most of the poeple there. As much as I deserve to be there, in being truthful with myself, I am not operating from my genius. I am in a room that I don’t belong.

It’s when I make the decision to walk in the room filled with entrepreneurs that I will want to tell myself this is where I belong. It will be out of my comfort zone. That is where I want a seat at the table. Belonging to a group of people doing what I want to be doing is when I am in my tribe.

So, ask yourself, am I prepared?

Am I showing up authentic?

These two questions will give you the confidence to show up.

Then ask, what am I bringing to the table?

What is my unique selling point?

Am I present in this moment?

Am I showing up to make a difference?

In these questions, I hope you find your why. Use them to verify if you are in the best tribe. Attracting the right people. If you are authentic and showing up to make a difference, then you can plan to do what it takes. That is when I know I’m where growth happens. If I’m uncomfortable, then I am being challenged. I am not conforming to the masses. I’m not there just to collect a paycheck.

I am there to be mentored and to mentor. And when I get too comfortable there, it’s time to push away. It’s time to find the next room and keep moving to the next level. And one day, maybe I will have built the room that you walked into.

Either way, keep growing. Keep pushing. Keep wanting it.

You are so worth it!

-Portia

 

 

Isolation is Good for the Soul, but Not the Journey

Tonight I got my feelings hurt. I was cussed out, told off and hung up on. I sit here and think of all the things that were said to me. I sit here and think of all the things I didn’t say back. The second person called and I hung up the phone when I heard the first cuss word. The voicemail recorded all the anger and the hurt. I saved the first one. Two minutes long. The second one erased. It was only a minute long. Those three minutes combined will come up during quiet moments in my future for the rest of my life. Words not to be forgotten.

I’m too angry to be hurt. I know, if not tomorrow, a few days from now I will feel the heartache. Right now, my intent is to shut the whole world off. I want to believe that this is the reason I walk this earth alone. Why I don’t trust. Why I feel like there is no one to turn to.

Then…my son walks into the room. He puts his arms around me and sings his off key version of “Everything is going to be all right,”. I laugh. Then, I think of the MeetUp group I joined, which was started to bring women together to pull one another up. Our book for this Month is Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes.

This has been a year filled with women’s rights, and women’s empowerment. More of us are joining together than those of us cat fighting. We are all on a journey to live life on our terms. Collectively, we have changed what women are supposed to do, to what we are willing to do. More so, what we will not tolerate. Girl power has taken on a new life in 2018.

I think of my business coach and all the work she puts in to keep me not just motivated, but pointed in the direction to think like an entrepreneur. I now remember I have work to do. I am mad at myself for having wasted so much energy on this issue for the last five days.

Isolation is good when we need to think. It’s perfect when we are doing the work. When it comes to moving our products, finding customers, sharing our knowledge, for that, we need each other. I couldn’t do what I do without the right people. Why have a blog if no one is going to read it? Why write the great American novel if it’s only going to sit on the author’s shelf? Why build it if nobody is going to come?

I know I need to work on my elevator pitch for an upcoming networking meeting. I might not be crazy about going to them, but that is where you meet your customers, your mentors, your future friends and partners. Businesses need people. People need each other. Back to the mirror I go to practice.

My relationship with two people ended tonight. I won’t say I am okay with that. I do know in time it will get easier. I wish I could have been the person doing the cussing and the hanging up, but that’s not my personality. That, I am okay with. Sometimes a particular part of the journey comes to an end. I won’t lose the lesson. I will eventually let go of the pain.

Isn’t that what life is about? It keeps moving, so we need to also.

Here’s to our journey.

You are so worth it!

-Portia

 

 

Recovery Strategy

 

I feel like at this point I am dusting myself off. I fell down. I scrapped my knee. Then I just sat there in the dirt feeling my pain. Now it’s time to get up. It’s time t heal. Time to forgive myself.

The first question I have to ask of myself is, how are you going to recover?

Fortunately, I planned ahead. I asked myself a year ago what obstacles could I expect. Although it was a little different this time, I learned from my past what I could expect. This time I had a full fledged meltdown in public. I had to go to therapy. I had to deal with my my shadow parts.

I learned I am stronger now. Good thing. My son didn’t stop being himself and decided to pull another transgression. Because of it, I had to again deal with my family letting me know how they felt about my parenting. This time, I stood up for myself. I let them know that all decisions would be made by his father and I. Co-parenting is new for us. He had his rules when our son was with him. I had mine. It took 13 years to learn that didn’t work.

Something else new is I realized is that I am not going to defend myself. The same as I tell my kids, you ask me a question, I answered, that is the end of the conversation. I have to be the same with the adults in my life.

I am who I am, as Popeye would say. I can’t stop being me. I explained that to my 15 year old. “You keep taking me out of my personality and that is not helping either of us.”

This brings me back to the light. My business coach taught me to forgive myself. For a moment I had to see myself through the eyes of others to be reminded of my authentic self.

So I ask myself, how am I going to handle the obstacles I now face. Some are self inflicted. However, the advise I would give is this: Let go of the pain. Keep the lesson.

As I let go, I make a plan. I commit to check in daily. I pray. I feel worry come over me. I pray some more.

I have also removed the statement, “I have to fix this,” from my self talk. Just like I can’t raise a 15 year old male by myself, I can’t “fix” anything by myself.

I revisit my plan in the morning. I revisit my plan in the evening. I see what’s working. I see what’s not working.

I see what needs to change and I take action.

So, we re-calibrate. What’s working? What’s not working? Who can we reach out to for help? And most importantly, we move towards action.

That is how we recover. We move forward. I heard someone say, “You can’t drive forward looking in the rear view mirror.”

How true that is!

Breathe.

Forgive.

Move on.

You are so worth it!

-Portia

Believe in You

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“Do you want to try the medication ?” Dr. Clayton asked me.

”Of course I don’t. I should be able to fix myself,” I replied.

I was resisting wearing the label depressed. I write a blog and teach others tips on how to push themselves to the next level, and here I am, not finding joy in a walk through the park. I know all the right things  to do. All the right things to tell myself. I have studied for this moment for years.

Trusting myself

When I trust the process, I am open to it showing me my messy parts. I am open to revisiting what I have yet to face. My biggest struggle is with my role as a mother. I don’t have much of a support group, and I don’t feel like I am good at it.

Its not because I have problem children, but because I keep comparing myself to everyone else. I am looking for perfection, which on the surface I know does not exist. Unfortunately, I am driving my boys crazy trying to make it exist.

I am probably also driving them crazy preaching one thing and then fussing when they do it. How can I truly get upset with my youngest for not conforming? I am the one that told him never to conform. It’s like I’m telling him, be yourself, as long as yourself is what I say. “Ouch,” I’m that mom.

I realize I am not taking my own advice. I am concerned with what others think. I am concentrating on the negative stuff. I am counting lack instead of blessings. So even if I have to take antidepressants, I am willing to walk through the process and trust I am doing the tight thing for me.

Starting over at step one

This time out I am on is a chance to go back to the drawing board. It’s time to go within. Listen to intuition. I hear the answer, and it’s actually been yelling at me for some time now. Up until now, I just kept saying it was impossible.

The famous quote by Henry Ford holds true here.  “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” The answer I was shown is not impossible. I just don’t feel confident taking on the task. If I were the coach in this situation, I would say, so what. Not because I did not care, but because I know confidence comes with doing. What I am feeling is normal.

Isn’t that what holds most of us back from becoming entrepreneurs or changing careers? We don’t feel confident. We feel like frauds. We aren’t sure if we can actually pull it off.

All things are truly possible. The problem is we lack belief in ourselves. Instead, I encourage you to rely on your knowledge and your experience. A friend was just telling me her husband is worried about accepting his new job. She reminded him that he had to learn proprietary software at his last two places of employment. He is very capable of doing the same at the new one.  She understood the underlying fear was change. He has both knowledge and experience to do the job.

Keep moving forward

Be okay with making mistakes. Just be open to learning from them.  Our journey in life is to keep moving forward. As a mom, I am learning and teaching at the same time. At the end of the day, I ask myself if I made any progress. If not, what do I need to do differently?

I am constantly asking myself and my kids, what would it take? I am asking you the same.

If confidence comes from doing, then what would it take for you to do?

If you don’t have an immediate answer, then just do it anyway. You’ll find that the answer will come as you go. It will come in the form of an email, a friend, or even a blog.  Just start taking steps.

And, believe in yourself.

You are so worth it!

Portia

A Personal Share – My battle with depression

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I need to call and make an appointment to get my car services. I keep forgetting to make a doctor’s appointment. I should have called the school to confirm my son’s story. Truth is, I can’t muster up the energy to do any of it. It feels hard. The simplest of task take more than I have to give.

Today, the depression is winning. For me, it’s a constant uphill battle. On days when I am the victor, I could run a marathon, take on Conor McGregor in the cage, or better yet, get some writing completed. (I am actually writing this the next day.) This day, the only thing I plan to accomplish is crawling into my bed and hiding.

For 20+ years, this has been my battle. I’ve been on antidepressants, gone to therapy, and been my own therapist. I have told myself over and over, I know how to fix me. We all know that is not true. That includes me on my worst days. Nothing can make me happy when I hit a low.

It does not help that on top of the depression I am a perfectionist. I can’t be seen falling apart. I don’t want others to see my B side. I paint on my smile, put on my best dress and say all the things that make people around me comfortable. I want to be the super woman that I portray. However, this day, I have reached, as my mother put it, my limit.

I was two hours into my workday when I could feel myself begin to break. I could no longer hide from the world that inside, I was a hot mess. And, as much as I don’t want to share, I realized I needed to. I could not hold the tears in. The nurse had a ten minute conversation with me and realized I needed a timeout. Five to ten days at home before I  bring myself to a point where I could hurt myself. Hearing that scared me.

The strong black woman is but a myth. The only way to be a strong black woman, or strong person, no matter gender or race, is to have a community of people backing you up and cheering you on. Going at it alone all these years has brought me to this point. I am truly understanding the phrase no person is an island.

We need relationships. We need one another. As an author, I need readers. As a help desk technician, I need people that don’t know how to fix their HP printer. As a mother, I need my kids. As a daughter, I need my mom.

When you encourages others on the path of transitioning from point A to B, it is important to remind them that they have to reach out to others. When building your community, don’t forget to add a business or career coach, a mentor, a fellow blogger (or which ever career field you are in), and a friend. And not just for accountability, but sometimes just to check in. You might just want to call them and say, hey, today was not a good day. Then ask them, how do you bounce back from a day like today?

When I was a weight loss counselor, I would help my clients to plan for a bad day. I would have them imagine worst case scenarios before they happened and plan how they would cope. Will they go to the gym and take it out on a spin cycle? If they did not plan ahead, they would find themselves at the bottom of a family size bag of BBQ potato chips.

It’s the same if it’s just a bad day. Who are you going to reach out to? Who is that person you can be vulnerable with? In our digital world, we need an offline, in-person friend. And, male of female, a good, long ugly-cry. However, don’t just open up to anyone. It has to be a person you truly trust.

For me, I know this will be a life-long battle. Suicide is a constant companion. I don’t look forward to that part, but I know it is my own war to fight. I need to reach out to my friend and I need my friend to reach out to me. I have to have my plan in place ahead of time for my worst day. I have to make sure I stay in tuned to my intuition. I have to keep my tribe strong so they keep me strong. And most importantly, I have to ask for help and be willing to share. To show my B side.

When you come from behind the screen, there is a real human on the other side. If you are the person someone is reaching out to, I ask that you don’t be judgmental, but be open. It takes a lot to ask for help. My son’s response when I came home was, “ah, mom.” You don’t want to make someone feel like being depressed is a bad thing. Show empathy.

And don’t forget to tell them, “You are so worth it!”

-Portia

 

The Exit Strategy

 

It seems like something so simple.  Drinking my coffee from my favorite mug instead of a travel cup. It’s the little things that begin to add up.  Being able to sit at my desk with no shoes. Listening to music while I work. Taking lunch and breaks when I want. My definition of freedom.

I’m at that point where the exit strategy check list has become more important. It is no longer a desire, but a reality. An exit strategy check list is my “what would it take” list to go from my current career to my new career. From a 9 to 5’er to a freelancer.

We take happiness for granted. We may even misconstrue what it actually is or how it really feels. Or maybe we have become so robotic, we assume we are happy because we have numbed ourselves with TV, video games, alcohol and legal marijuana. However, when you realize the most challenging part of your job is not knowing how to add a hyperlink to an email signature, which was actually more frustrating than challenging, it is time to move on.

Resistance

The art of reinvention is not always a linear path. Sometimes you have to try a few things just to find out that you circled back around to what you wanted to do when you were a kid. I now understand the saying that youth is wasted on the young, but I also know that you are never to old to start something new. After reading The War of Art, I was even more convinced that I was not crazy. Resistance is part of the natural order.

As adults, we are not always attuned to our fear of change. Even I thought I was immune to   it being the child of a military father. I learned back then to never get comfortable. A move was always on the horizon. Resistance is very real. Unfortunately, what usually comes with it is self-sabotage. We have no idea that we are doing everything in our power to prevent reaching the goal we set for ourselves. As much as I might be ready for a new career, it’s scary stepping away from the comfort of being an expert at what I’m doing, with the exception of that darn email platform, and jumping into something brand new.

I will always tell you to trust the process. Part of the process is checking in daily. Daily I look at my exit strategy and ask myself if I am doing everything I need to do to meet the next thing on my list. If I’m not, I have to ask myself what do I need. Am I willing to make the changes to get to what I want? Am I willing to push past the fear and take the next step? These are questions that you can ask yourself. Listen for your answer. Sit with how the answer makes you feel. Are you more tense than confident? That’s resistance.

What’s Your Focus?

I can tell you from experience it takes more than wanting it really bad. Will power alone will not get you there. It takes action. Action brings on fear. It’s okay. It will only be uncomfortable for a moment. The first call I took I kept saying megabit instead of megabyte and the user let me know how wrong I was.  I wanted to quit right then. I told myself I was stupid. It was uncomfortable, but you know what? I survived.

I encourage the same for you. Remember your first time? Or your first mistake. Even the thousands you’ve made since that one. They were learning moments. Don’t use them as excuses to not keep going.

Daily focusing on what really matters does help to combat resistance. I try not to repeat the constant self-help quotes, but there is some truth to “what you think about, comes about”. I told myself I did not have the money to self-publish my book. Then I looked at my bank and credit card statements. It’s not that I didn’t have the money, I just didn’t have it as a priority. I was spending my money on my ego instead of my goals. Did I really need three pairs of shoes at $90 each? Of course not.

When I focused on my money “problem”, I only saw what I was not capable of doing. When I focused on a solution, I saw that there was no problem, but that I needed to make a correction. That brings me back to the question, am I willing to make the changes to get what I want? What corrections are you willing to make? Less TV? Less video games?

So I challenge you to sit down and start creating an exit strategy. What would it take to transition to your dreams? Visit your list daily. Don’t numb yourself. Don’t allow excuses to give you permission to keep doing the same things. Instead, take action.

You are so worth it!