I Am Miranda Bailey

Let me first start by saying I am a dedicated Grey’s Anatomy fan, which means Thursday nights are a form of religion for me. Whether it’s realistic or not, I’m committed.

Before I tell my story, I want to acknowledge that I am not 100% Miranda Bailey. I will never know what it feels like to be an African American woman. It is another complex layer to Bailey’s story that I cannot understand because I don’t have that experience. However, I can say with full confidence that I know the debilitating effects of OCD.

Let me fill you in. In last week’s episode, Dr. Miranda Bailey went to the hospital (not her hospital) because she knew she was having a heart attack. Multiple doctors rejected her claims. At one point when reviewing her medications with the doctor, she mentions an antidepressant to help manage her OCD. She describes precisely how she fights the compulsions daily and knows the doctors are looking at her differently because of it.

Miranda BaileyI nearly stood on my couch and applauded Bailey (and Shonda Rhimes) for going there and saying all the things those of us with OCD and anxiety feel daily. On average, I fight at least a dozen daily thoughts that could hault my entire life. Some are trivial like what to wear, what time to food shop and what episode to catch up on first. Others are far more draining. And every day, I talk myself down, reminding myself that whatever choice will make me happy is the right one. That anxiety is useless and there’s no reason for it. Some days it’s a few deep breaths. Other times, it can take a full hour to rewrite the story and shake the frustrated mood I’ve put myself in.

It has taken me years to get to this place, where the anxiety and OCD are manageable. A combination of experience and meditation have helped immensely. For some, the only way to find some relief from this constant spin is medication, as in Bailey’s case. And THAT. IS. OK. If that’s what it takes to live without the constant second guessing, overthinking and over exaggerating, so be it. Certainly, a person shouldn’t be judged for it. That’s the trick with mental illness: You can’t see so it mustn’t be real. That’s also the problem. I am SO glad Grey’s Anatomy went there because it needs to be addressed. Just think: This is an accomplished, educated Chief of Surgery who knows what a heart attack is. Yet, she wasn’t’ taken seriously because of her OCD, her gender and her race. What chances does the everyday women without a medical degree have when she walks into the ER?!

You can have OCD and anxiety, but still make rational decisions. Honestly, the older I get, the more I can sense when my obsessiveness is shining through versus knowing something is right in my gut. There’s definitely a difference and it’s through much self-reflection that I’ve been able to listen to myself more and trust myself again.

To the millions out there working through these suffocating conditions, hang in there. Get and ask for help if you need it. Every adult should have a good therapist and a favorite ice cream flavor stocked in their fridge at all times. You can and will overcome. You’ll learn that life is too damn short to obsessed over nail polish color or missing a family occasion. No matter what you do, it’s never enough time anyways.

be gentle

 

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Speak Your Truth…Even If Your Voice Shakes

What’s your truth? That’s a big question that could be answered in so many ways. No matter what, it’s personal, whether it includes your values, experiences or mission. And when someone speaks their real, authentic truth, it’s undeniable.

Golden Globes tweetWhile watching the Golden Globes a few weeks ago, I tweeted part of Oprah’s acceptance speech (see photo to the left). Somehow, a reporter from the Philadelphia Inquirer found my tweet and wanted to interview me. She asked me a few questions that got me thinking: How do you verify someone’s truth?

You listen, like put the phone down, look someone in the eye listening.

We live in a world where anyone can jump on any bandwagon. Agree with a tweet from a celebrity? Just retweet it. Anyone can hide behind a hashtag. We also move a million miles an hour, multitasking whenever possible as to cram an extra six things into our day. We sacrifice relationships, eating, sleeping – the basic human necessities, but what happens when you stop and listen?

You learn fact from fiction. When you stop and have a conversation with someone, you build trust. Over time, that trust allows the other person to share the most imitate details of their life. Their truth. Of course, this type of relationship building takes time. But, I promise, it will happen.

Look at the U.S. Women’s Gymnastic team, as an example. If you watched their testimonies, you could see the vulnerability and the rawness of their emotions. Over 140 women banded together and as one shared, more shared. That’s the power in telling your story, in sharing your truth, even when your voice shakes.

Stop. Listen. Take every conversation and interaction in. And share your truth – your unapologetic, emotional truth. Have an opinion, think for yourself and if you would defend it in court, by all means, retweet it.

When we slow down and really hear people’s stories, we help to create a culture where people feel comfortable sharing. A culture of inclusiveness, where all stories are valued, where little girls see how powerful they can become when they step into their truth. Create THAT culture and I’m confident we’ll have less women waiting 20 years to report their harassment or abuse.

As women, sometimes, our voices aren’t always heard. I challenge you to make your presence known: Share an opposing perspective (respectfully), challenge the normal way of doing things, ask for what you need and want. Also, remember, there are men out there who support us. Just because some men harass and abuse does not mean all men harass and abuse.

Speak your truth, even if you voice shakes. Over time, you’ll become steady.

Speak your truth

 

2018 Intentions

Happy 2018 readers! I promised I’d be back in January to talk intentions. So here we go!

For as long as I can remember, I set New Year’s resolutions. Every January, like clockwork, I’d start eating healthy, working out, trying to stop cursing (YEAH RIGHT!), etc. By March, nothing was sticking and I was frustrated, so I gave up. This perpetual cycle was clearly unproductive.

About three years ago, I was searching for an alternative to New Year’s resolutions. At that time, my friend KJ shared a post on Facebook about choosing intentions for the year by picking three words you want to live by. I don’t know if the original idea was KJ’s but his post grabbed my attention. What if I chose words to live by for the next year, words that would dictate my actions and decisions? Ever since, I’ve chosen three words to embody for the coming year. Drumroll…my 2018 words:

  • EASE: I force things – I try to cram 7,000 things into a day. I fight hard for deep, meaningful relationships. While this pays off once in a while, the cost is energy depletion and exhaustion. This year, I am not fighting or forcing, but rather flowing my energy to things that matter to me, like getting healthy.
  • KINDNESS: I am judgy; there I said it. I make decisions about people based on one or maybe two interactions. I don’t give anyone the benefit of the doubt. Given the world we’re currently living in, I want to listen more and give an extra measure of grace. As the quote goes, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” This is SO true – I have no idea what someone is struggling with when I make a rash judgement.
  • OWNERSHIP: Hmm, this *might* be the hardest one. I am notorious for having big emotions, both good and bad. I don’t always own up as to why I’m reacting in a certain way. I am cracking down on my triggers in 2018 and keeping a journal where I can document them. No more outbursts or excuses!

I’m excited for my intentions and the year ahead! These are bold word choices for me, so please hold me accountable. More importantly, share your word(s) with me! I’m always interested in everyone’s intentions.

hello 2018.png

Food is Love

And that’s ok!

Growing up Italian, all family gatherings revolved around good food. Think pasta, cheeses, meats, bread and dessert…typically enough to feed a small army. My favorite childhood memories involve cooking with my mom. I still love watching her cook. And there’s a certain level of joy in eating a home cooked meal. We even had the clean plate club as kids.

It’s no surprise that today, I love to cook and feed people. It makes me happy and I love bringing people together over a meal. It’s probably also not surprising that I’ve struggled with weight issues my entire life and could eat an entire pizza without struggle. Let me be clear: I am in no way blaming my loving family for my weight issues. That’s 100% on me. However, growing up that way I did cultivated a love affair with food, one that requires attention.

I’ve been dieting in one way or another since I was 12. Something finally clicked this October when joined Beachbody and decided once and for all, to get healthy, not diet. For the last two months, I’ve meal prepped, measured, worked out and been a part of this amazing Beachbody community. I feel strong, healthy and have more energy than I did 10 years ago. I was going to weigh in this morning so I could share my progress. But honestly, it’s not about the scale. I could obsess over a number or I could go with how I feel. I choose the latter.
progress not perfectionSure, I’ve digressed in the last two months. My mom’s stuffing at Thanksgiving is an all time favorite and I had this amazing ravioli at one of my favorite spots in Philly. I’ve learned that it’s ok to indulge but then move on. Don’t go down the slippery slope and don’t guilt trip yourself; it does nothing. It’s about balance, planning and loving yourself. Every. Single. Inch. I look in the mirror today and loveeeeee the woman I see. All of this also does wonders for a girl’s mental state.

Leave a comment or drop me a note if you want to learn more. This is not an ad for Beachbody, that’s not my style. BUT as a big believer in the power of community, it worked for me, after trying zillions of programs. At the end of the day, it’s about focusing on you and feeling good. That’s all that matters! I’m not ready to share before and after pictures yet, but I promise it’s on the 2018 blog post list.

I’ll see you all in 2018! Check back in early January for my words of the year post!

Ubuntu

Ubuntu:  I am because we are

For the last five years, I’ve had the privilege of working on a leadership development experience with some of the brightest minds in the business. The African word Ubuntu sums up this community nicely. After 1,825 days, the cross country trips have come to the end and as always, the universe’s timing was spot on.

I could write pages on what I’ve learned, on how this extraordinary group of human beings has inspired me.  But, in an effort to be outside my comfort zone, I’m going to try to keep it tight and sum it up in five lessons from the last five years.

  • Be unapologetically you: When I first started the position I’m currently in, I tried changing myself to conform to the way others wanted me to be. I came off disingenuous and as if I was trying too hard. And I was. Once I let go of who I was trying to be and fell into who I was, it was like magic. I was confident, carefree and happy. My coaches tell me this is what owning your power feels like. GOOD STUFF!
  • Take nothing personal: When you work with people day in and out, for hours on end, they become your family, which is a gift. I love that I love spending my free time with my colleagues, that I consider many of them friends. BUT, it’s a double-edged sword. You MUST separate the two. Sometimes that means asking for help on how to manage both a personal and professional relationship. Sometimes that means saying you’re sorry. Sometimes it means drinking champagne. It always means being intentional and kind.
  • Stay open: SOOOO many things have changed in the last five years. And each one of them has made me a better person. I used to be so afraid to roll off this program. I do not know working life without it. Through lots of reflection and some tears, I’ve gotten to a place where I’m proud of the work I’ve done and feel in my bones that it’s the right time to move on. How do I know this? I got on the plane home from California with a smile on my face and an urge to write. That’s how I know. I would not be going to get my coaching credential in 2018 if I was still on the program. I know this for sure…the best is yet to come. And when you accept change, it is invigorating and spectacular.
  • Celebrate every win, big or small: Get through a tough session without having a nervous breakdown? Get yourself a pedicure. Successfully manage a room of tired, hungry coaches while still getting program feedback and do it all on time? Pour the champagne. Life is messy and scary. Every time you overcome sometimes that challenges you, celebrate. On the easier days, help someone else celebrate. Life is
    good vibe tribe

    My good vibe tribe with some missing

    too damn short. Also, when you’re not sure what to do, dance it out.

  • Be the good vibe tribe: These people I’ve worked with for the last five years, they are the best in their respective areas of expertise. But, even better than that, they are exceptional human beings, good as gold people, who choose kindness and love above all else. They will forever be my good vibe tribe – putting on smiles and staying in the high positive even through life’s hardest moments. They inspire me to be better, love harder and smile a little brighter.

And the biggest lesson of the all: Live in a constant state of gratitude. I DO NOT always get this right. Believe me, Newark Airport tests my high positive, grateful state on every occasion. In those trying moments, find one thing, one person, one experience you’re thankful for. And focus on it with all your might. I promise your mood with change instantly. I will be forever grateful for this experience and for my good vibe tribe.

find your tribe

Standing in the Sun

Happy International Day of the Girl! This post felt right to share today.

Last week, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Pennsylvania Conference for Women. I got to be in the same room as female icons like Shonda Rhimes, Carla Harris, Brene Brown and Michelle Obama, to name a few. I can’t really put into words what it was like to listen to these women. I left feeling inspired, motivated and humbled.

Shonda

Yes, that’s Shonda signing my book

Every single speaker (male or female) at the conference mentioned self-care, self-confidence and celebration of self! Carla Harris and Brene Brown really drove home these points (Google them right now). Carla’s opening keynote set the tone for the day: “Do not dim your light for someone else’s convenience, celebrate your successes, don’t hide them.” Later in the afternoon, Brene Brown reminded us that we’ll never belong if we don’t believe we deserve to. She highlighted qualities like bravery, authenticity and vulnerability as ones that will help women have a seat at the table. Sidenote: If you haven’t seen Brene’s TedTalk on vulnerability, stop reading and watch it now. This woman is the best therapist I’ve ever had and we’ve never met!

I felt the conference and my head was spinning. So many thoughts. But there was one word that kept coming up for me: WHY?! Why do we need powerful women shouting messages about owning your power and finding your authentic voice? Why do we as women undermine our intelligence, shrink into the background and forget that we have this utterly brilliant power inside of us. WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?!

I don’t know exactly why. But I do know more women fit the bill for the above then not. Michelle Obama talked about how important it is to give girls a voice from a young age, to let them be heard and to respect them. Both parents need to do this, not just moms. So, if I use myself as an example, I had parents who did this AND a mom who taught me the words to ‘You Don’t Own Me’ by age 7. So what gives?

The female brains are wired differently or at least that’s my hypothesis. We have to rewire our brain and the younger we start, the better we’ll be. So how? Stand in the sun. Standing in the sun is a phrase I’m borrowing from the Shonda Rhimes’ show Scandal. In short, Olivia Pope is going to live on an island with the super handsome Jake Ballard. She’s going to stand in the sun without a care in the world.

I’d like to offer that we women need to stand in the sun every single day. Alone. In our power all along power. You stand in that sun, you feel the rays hit your face and feel how empowering it is. Obviously, not every day will be sunny. You will have moments of darkness. But bring yourself back. Keep reminders of moments when you felt your own greatness. When you nailed a presentation. Or when you tried a new class at the gym. Whatever, wherever, whenever. Post pictures of these moments. Write ‘Own it rockstar’ on your bathroom mirror. Find a way to keep it top of mind.

You will get feedback, that’s part of life. It’s necessary for growth, especially in a professional setting. Take it, action on it and move on. Feedback doesn’t mean you’re broken, see it as an opportunity to increase your power. You are capable, strong, fierce and wonderful, exactly how you are right this moment.

My birthday was last month and every September, I think about how I want the next year to look. Lots of introspection and journaling occur usually while listening to my Girl Power playlist. I am taking this year to stand in the sun, to say yes to joy and no to guilt, overthinking and anxiety. Stand in the sun with me, my sisters.

And remind me when I forget it.

 

 

C-C-Changes

I wrote this post as thousands are suffering from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. If that doesn’t give all of us perspective I’m not sure what will. I decided to still publish this post because what each of us is feeling is always valid. Please keep those in Texas in your thoughts.

I pride myself on being a positive, life-loving person. As I’ve talked about before, I was an anxious child and teenager. I swore I wouldn’t go back to being that person. The person that was “too much,” who lost friends because of fake freakouts and who walked around feeling like I was always letting someone down. That person was gone.

Enter a dresser. Yes, a dresser that caused me to revert back and feel all the feels.

I was never a big fan of change. I liked my world in black and white, no grey area. Clearly, life doesn’t work like that. The recents weeks, months, years have been filled with tons of change – it’s really the only constant in life. I’ve learned to accept that and put a huge smile on my face. See the first paragraph – I didn’t want to be that girl again – the anxious, negative, too much girl.

Then I decided to build this dresser over the weekend. Surely, I’m a smart girl, I can do this. After multiple hours and getting a friend on FaceTime, I literally lost it. I let myself get to this point because I don’t want to admit to feeling anything other than positive emotions. Let me be clear, the damn dresser is a first world problem and thanks to a very good friend, it’s standing with my crap in it. Life is good, actually it’s great, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel some kind of way about the future. get up and dont give up

I. AM. TERRIFIED. 

Of becoming that girl again. 

But guess what?! It’s ok to be scared or anxious sometimes. I fight these feelings everyday so that I don’t go back to my old ways. No one, including me, liked that girl. The one filled with fears and doubts. But every now and again, she shows up because the feelings are valid. I need to recognize her, work through the feelings and move on, not bottle them up and explode on my poor friend who was trying to help.

Of course, once the floodgates open, every last insecurity came out. I should be able to build this dresser, other people can. Why didn’t I just pay to get a premade one? I *should* be able to afford a nicer one. Um, yeah total insanity. Who cares about how much the dresser costs, that it took me several hours to build it, why does ANY of this matter?!?! It’s doesn’t. All of this led me to my new mantra:

COMPARISON IS THE THIEF OF JOY

One foot in front of the other. Every single damn day. That’s all I can do. I am happy, I am healthy, I am surrounded by amazing human beings. On the scary days that I *will* allow myself to have, those are my reminders. And that I can do, overcome and become whatever and whoever I want.

So if you’re afraid that all the progress you’ve made might blow up, it’s okay. Feel the fear, talk to the boy/girl you used to be and politely tell him/her to hit the road. You are more than your yesterdays.

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