7 Ways To Be Brave When Your Knees Are Shaking

Hurricane Sandy just hit the East Coast. Horrifically, some lost their lives. Some lost everything they ever worked for. Some lost their homes for the short-term and some simply lost some sleep.

Manhattan was literally blacked out and taking on water in the subway systems. The David Letterman audience wasn’t there for the monologue and the Good Morning America Extreme Weather team was reporting from all over the East Coast.

Sometimes life can feel like a hurricane, things swirling about us threatening to destroy our sanity and our safe places. But what if some of those places we believe to be our refuge really aren’t that safe? What if our sanity needed shaking up a bit. What if it’s time for us to start over in a new place, in a new life, in a new destiny.

Maybe you’re a little too comfortable.

Maybe life is a little too easy.

Maybe it’s time to s-t-r-e-t-c-h.

Bravery is mostly taught to be a guy thing. You know, Gladiator and Braveheart. The Wild West. Warriors and weapons. Women seldom hear the words “Be brave.” So I’m going to tell you.

Be brave.

I even want you to join a club. It’s free and it will teach you how to be braver than you ever knew how. It’s called the Brave Girls Club. You can check it out by going to http://www.BraveGirlsClub.com.

But how can you be really brave when your knees are shaking? How can you be brave when you want to run away and hide? That’s a girl thing. Wanting to be taken care of. Wanting to be comforted and shielded from harm. A girl thing. NOT a woman thing.

A woman has to be brave. A woman who wants to control her own destiny MUST be brave.

Bravery is learned. You get braver every time you take a step toward making your own decisions without relying on what everyone else thinks. You get braver when you speak up in your own defense, even if it’s simply to tell a waitress she brought the wrong order. You get braver when you decide that your life is your own, and that it’s magical and spiritual and that it really, really matters.

Be brave.

Here’s 7 ways to be brave when your knees are literally shaking:
#1: Breathe. B-R-E-A-T-H-E. When emotion overwhelms you, breathing can center you. Take a deep breathe and start again.

#2: Make eye contact. Don’t look down or around or at your feet. When you’ve got something to take care of, let your eyes make the statement.

#3: Wear an amazing bra and underwear. There’s something about feminine power that’s unleashed when you look good underneath.

#4: Pray. God is on your side. He wants you to be brave. He made you strong and confident. Own it.

#5: Call a friend. Tell her to tell you to ‘be brave’. Have her kick you in the butt if you need it. Sometimes knowing you have an ally in your corner makes all the difference. (This isn’t about asking her opinion…this is to say I’m going to do this and I need you in my corner.)

#6: Don’t overthink. Women get paralyzed in their own heads. Don’t retreat…attack. Move forward. Be brave.

#7: Pretend. No one can tell the difference. They don’t know your blood pressure is on the rise or that your palms are sweating. Pretending (faking it) is sometimes the best way to getting what you want.

I was a 23-year old ad agency exec (aka grunt) who knew I was severely underpaid. I was also privey to what others were making. My boss called me in at review time to give me a $3,000 raise. I told him “I was more valuable to the firm.” That’s all I said. I am more valuable. His response…”you’re right”. Your raise is $7,000. I was brave. (Oh alright, young and maybe a bit arrogant and stupid too.)

If I hadn’t been brave, I’d have been $4,000 poorer.

I would’ve resented the staff I knew was making more than me, while I was doing better work.

I probably would’ve quit soon thereafter to go to a better job.

But I didn’t have to because even though my knees were shaking and I thought I was going to cry, I said my peace. I was brave.

In spite of what’s going on in your life, be it a hurricane or a thunderstorm or a broken relationship or a broken heart, you can be brave. It’s in you.

Art image by Mae Chevrette (she’s got really, really cool art…check out her Etsy shop at http://maechevrette.etsy.com )
Thousands of brave women subscribe to The Brave Girls Club (www.BraveGirlsClub.com) created by Kathy Wilkins & Melody Ross. Join them.


5 Simple Steps for How To Get More Of What You Want

My grandson Max is almost 3. He asked me if I wanted to be a pirate for Halloween and I instantly said yes. The way he presented it to me was irresistible. He got in close, he made eye-contact and he waited for an answer without flinching.

He knew what he wanted. He wanted Grandma to be a pirate. So guess what…I’m driving to US Toy to hunt for pirate hats, eye patches, a hook arm (for Grandpa) and wondering which thrift store I can hit to buy a white blouse and a vest. I’ve even turned this into an opportunity to buy some tall brown boots I’ve been wanting since last season. I’ll be adding gold necklaces and huge gold hoops to top it off and there may even be a parrot perched on my shoulder.

Secretly, I’m wanting to look as good as Penelope Cruise co-starring with Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean.

Never downplay the influence of a 3-year old in getting what he wants. You can use this same magic to get more of what you want in your life whether you’re ordering a meal, asking for a raise or or buying a new house.

5 Simple Steps for How To Get More Of What You Want:

#1: Know what you want. Do you want to be a pirate or Cinderella? Do you want to trick or treat around the neighborhood or go to the mall?

#2: Don’t overanalyze. Women especially play through at least 5 different scenarios of outcomes before we do anything. I call this the ‘retreat mode’. We talk ourselves out of things before we even get started.

#3: ASK. You have to ask for what you want. Make eye contact. Don’t flinch. You have to let it be made known than you WANT SOMETHING. It’s okay to want something. It’s even better to get it. If you don’t ask, the answer will almost always be NO.

#4: Be more childlike. Don’t question every single thing you do. Be silly. Be yourself. Allow yourself some fun. I thought about the last time I’d dressed up for Halloween and it was in 1986, when my daughter Candice (Max’s Mom) was 1 year old. We even hosted a Halloween party that year. She was Superbaby and Dennis and I were Supermom and Superdad.

#5: Go with it. Once you decide, don’t waffle. I’m over 50. Dressing up like a pirate for Halloween isn’t exactly ‘mature behavior.’ But the excitement I feel for this Halloween and being with Max all dressed up outdoes my last 25 Halloweens all put together. In other words, celebrate!

Life doesn’t give us what we deserve. Life gives us what we ask for. So ASK. And then go celebrate when the answer is yes. Arrrgghhh Matey!

The Quest for Perfection

We’re all waiting on something. Until we get that degree. Until the baby gets bigger. Until our Mom isn’t sick. Until we have more money in the bank. We’re all waiting on life to give us the green light, but life isn’t that way. Life is like living in a perpetual yellow signal. Do you go? Do you proceed with caution? Do you stop completely?

The truth is…life’s never going to be perfect. Never. Ever. Ever. It’s like wanting to have your house sparkling and your car clean at the same time. It rarely happens. There is only so much energy to go around and if one is getting it, the other probably isn’t. Life is messy. Raw. Imperfect. And perfectly lovely.

I looked around the house this morning. The laundry’s pretty caught up and the kitchen is clean. I already took the trash out and all I have to do is make the bed. The carpet needs replaced and the outside siding can only make it about one more winter. I don’t even really like this house…so I don’t spend a lot of time tending to it.

But for today, this is where we live.

I’ve lived in some glorious places in my adult life. A mega-mansion. Apartments. Lovely estate homes. A saltbox in the country. I’ve had it all and I didn’t appreciate it. Took it for granted. ‘Til it was gone.

And now I sit in a suburban 3-bedroom raised ranch with crappy carpet and a tiny shower. I rarely spend time updating because I consider it a waste of money. But is it? Isn’t this where I spend my hours and love my family. Isn’t this where I make love to my husband and teach my grandbaby to bake.

It’s not perfect. I’d prefer to be living somewhere else because after all, at 51 aren’t you supposed to have ‘made it’. Aren’t you supposed to know what you want to be? Isn’t the bank account supposed to be bigger? The problems smaller? I’m simply being truthful. I’m going to stop my quest for perfection. I’m going to settle in and make a good meal for tonight. I’ll write around the crappy carpet and maybe even look into having it replaced.

I’ll water my mums on the front stoop and say a prayer of thanksgiving to God for this home and the warmth inside it. I might even buy a bouquet of flowers for the kitchen counter. I’m on a quest…it’s simply not for perfection…it’s for loving life.

How To Create Your Very Own Dream Board

Goal: To create a magnificent piece of inspiration in under an hour (or two) that encourages you to pursue your very own beautiful life.

• Old magazines (libraries sometimes give these away if you don’t have any or ask your friends)
• Scissors
• Glue-stick
• Colored markers (yes, you can use crayons)
• Large poster board (I prefer foam core because I save these for years!)
• Fabric, buttons, embellishments of any kind to add
• Good upbeat or soothing music (depending on the mood you want to create to)
• Cup of tea or a Diet Coke
Hint: This is a perfect project to do with a girlfriend (don’t invite anyone who doesn’t know how to dream…they’ll kill the project.)

How-To Dream: Most of us have tucked our dreams away deep down in the recesses of our hearts. Sometimes this happens because we’ve failed at something and are stuck. Sometimes we were never taught to dream at all and we have to be taught. Perhaps we’re living too comfy, cozy and need to stretch a bit. Wherever you are, it’s ok. Open your heart.

How-To Start: Start by flipping through the magazines. As you flip the pages, I want you to start listening to your heart. Tear out pictures that you love. Lots of them. No editing allowed. Focus on what colors draw you in and inspire you. Let the pictures pile up.

If you have particular things stored on your computer (your Pinterest boards, quotes you love, pics of family) that you want to use, print these out. If beautiful houses inspire you, use home decorating magazines. If you’re a foodie (which I’m not other than eating it), use gourmet food magazines.

You might have 50 or 100 pages of inspiration by the time you’re finished. Watch for words that inspire you and really, really let your dreams come out. Don’t filter your dreams. They are real. They were given to you for a unique reason. You matter. No dream is to big or unreasonable or impractical.

If you’re arty, draw your dreams. If you’re like me, cutting and gluing will be as good as it gets.

How-To Edit: Now, start sorting. Stack up all the pictures and start editing them down. You might have pictures of puppies or families or Italy or the beach. Look at the pictures and decide what you really want your dreams to be. Are those really your dreams? Or are they someone else’s dream? Differentiate.

Edit and start gluing. Overlap photos and words and turn it all into a whimsical treasure that belongs solely to you and your heart. .

Add fabric or embellishments, buttons or old pics. Use the colored markers to draw borders or words with

When you’re done gluing and drawing, stand back. Take a picture if you can. Post your dream board where you can refer to it often and don’t let anyone put a damper on your dreams. They are YOURS. They belong to your life. They are no one else’s. (I post mine in my closet so I can see it everyday, at least twice a day.)

When You’re Done: Celebrate! Do a happy dance. Call a supportive friend. Smile.

Dreams are real. They exist. It is up to you to create the life you want to live, no matter what it looks like today. I want you to make your life your DREAM come true. And I especially hope that your Dream Board will inspire you to do it.

Dream BIG and never, ever, ever give up on your dreams!

Love-Cheryl XXOO

What’s Your Dream?

Dreams. They’re the big things of life. They’re the ‘write a New York Times Bestseller’ or ‘create a foundation’ or ‘make a million bucks’ kind of stuff. The ‘find my soulmate’ or ‘start my own business‘ or ‘have 6 kids’ kind of dreams. Dreams are BIG. HUGE. And scary.

Most of us don’t reflect on our dreams much because well, after you’ve reached the age of 30 or so, most of them seem too hard. Or we’ve listened to so many people say ‘you can’t do that’ or ‘this happened to her’ or ‘you need a ton of money to be successful’ that we quietly fold our dreams up and tuck them nicely into the deep recesses of our heart.

Oh, there are days when they seem to well up inside us, but most of us quietly tamper them down again and reserve them for shower time and long walks on the beach vacation days. They seem so out there. Unreachable.

We quit working on our dreams before we’ve even started.

We give up on our dreams before we’ve even failed.

We believe destiny is what happens to celebrities and millionaires.

But not us.

It’s not true. It’s far from true.

My next door neighbor desperately wanted a 2nd baby. Nature wasn’t cooperating. She was slogging from doctor to doctor with little hope…or the hope she was given had huge dollar signs attached to it.

But I know down deep in her heart she still wanted that dream. Baby number two.

I was sad. She was heartbroken.

I barely had the words to comfort her.

We moved away and didn’t stay in touch.

A year later I was shopping on New Years Eve and I saw a young woman walking and waving toward me with her husband. My eyes did a double take. It was my dear sweet neighbor with her hubby, 3 year old and not only was she strolling one newborn baby in the stroller, she was pushing TWO.

God gave her twins. One of each. A boy and a girl. I was so overwhelmed with joy I almost hugged her to death.

She just shyly smiled and said…’we relaxed and look what happened.’

But she never gave up on her dream. Now she’s playing zone defense as a young Mom with too little time, too many responsibilities and a life full of love.

Dreams are real. If you can see it in your mind and feel it in your heart, it exists. If you consistently wake up thinking about your dream, it’s because it’s a real desire…not something you made up. God gives us desires for a reason.

He wants us to go DO something with them. To impact someone. To help. To spread joy or inspiration…or maybe God just wants to make us deliriously happy. (He does that you know.)

Dreams come with a price. You may have to give something up to go after your big dream. You might have to be patient and watch the dream unfold over a decade instead of a year. You might have to turn off the TV or give up a few nights of fun to realize your big dream.

Dreams are worth waiting for. Working for. Praying for. Sacrificing for.

My neighbor now drives a mini-van with three carseats in the 2nd seat. She rarely puts on make-up and the dog doesn’t get walked that often. But the dream she stored inside her heart…the one she never quit wanting was real. Is real. In the form of a tiny girl and a tiny boy and a big brother named Tre.

Dreams do come true. What’s yours?

I Am Who I Am…

Too often, life becomes one big pile of mush. We lose ourselves to what others want for us or we spend our life trying to live up to another’s expectations. All this does is leave us empty and bruised.

This is an exercise for every woman. I call it the “I Am Who I Am” exercise.

All you need is a piece of paper. Don’t edit your thoughts. Simply write down what comes out first. Don’t think, do.

“I am who I am. You cannot change me.

I am __________________, ______________________, ____________, __________ and ________________.

I love to __________________ and ____________________.

I despise _______________ and ______________.

It is my mission to _______________ _______ _________________.

I will never rest until I ______________________.”

That’s it. I am. You are. Enough.

Be true. To you.

The Power of Pain

Pain is powerful. If you’re going through something, it’s because you have work to do. There’s something to learn whether it be patience, empathy, humbleness or self-control. Or perhaps it’s to help someone else fulfill their destiny.

When you’re in pain, the first thing you want to do is escape. Or isolate. Those are the two worst things you can do. Let yourself feel. Acknowledge it exists. Pledge to learn the lesson, because lessons unlearned come back to bite us in the butt again and again.

When John Walsh lost his beloved to 6-year old son Adam to a murderer’s hands, he could’ve easily said, ‘it is finished. I no longer wish to exist.’ Or, he could’ve numbed the pain with drugs or alcohol or women or had himself committed. Instead, he took his rage and his guttural humanness and transformed it into the televison show “America’s Most Wanted”. He became consumed on a one-man mission hunting for criminals who inflict pain on others.

He honored his son’s memory by getting better and he processed his own pain by helping others with theirs. He reached out. He let his life become one of service.

Does his pain still exist? Yes. I’m sure there’s not a day goes by without him thinking of little Adam. Did John get better? Yes, because the world got better by John using his soul-sucking pain for good.

John’s story is dramatic. Hopefully, none of us will ever lose a child to a horrific crime.

But every pain hurts. And pain creates change. (If you’ll let it.)

As a young Mom, I worked as a marketing person earning $36,000 a year. I had a 9’ x 9’ cubicle, 2 weeks vacation and a life filled with absolute chaos. My babies were 2, 4 and 7 and I was a maintanence Mom…the Mom who gives the baths, feeds the meals, tucks you into bed but never really captures the moments because she’s too busy running on the rat race treadmill of life.

I was miserable, my babies were getting shortchanged but I convinced myself that I had to work because we had two incomes with two income expenses. I was paying ten grand a year to day-care, running myself ragged and missing some of the most memorable times of my kids’ lives. And I stayed in the race for 7 years until the one day when I couldn’t take it anymore and I made the life-changing decision. In an instant.

I gave my boss his pink slip. (I quit.)

I went home to be with my babies and started my own business out of a bedroom in our basement.

I tripled my income and decreased my work hours by 75%.
But most importantly, I got to be a Mom. Their Mom. Candice’s Mom. Kelsey’s Mom. Travis’ Mom. The Mom who makes macaroni and cheese and sits at relentless soccer practices.

The one who could finally breathe in spite of kids bickering, too much laundry and a thousand replays of the Wizard of Oz.

My pain made me change. My misery created movement. Positive movement. Change that has impacted the entire course of my life and my family’s lives.

Sit with your pain. Know that it won’t last forever. Use it for good.

Life has a lesson you’re supposed to learn.