Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dancing Towards Your Dreams

Growing up, I was the super quiet kid in the corner, reading a book or writing a story. The only time I made a sound was when I sang. F​​rom elementary school through high school, I was in musicals, chorus, and even ended up with a solo my senior year of high school. That solo was the absolute thrill and highlight of my singing life​​ (and, sadly, there's no documentation of it whatsoever).

It was also the second to last time I sang in public for 10 years.

What happened? Well, fear and panic and “I’m not going to be a singer so I can’t major in that” and “I’m probably not even that good of a singer so why bother?” The longer I stayed on my self-imposed singing hiatus, the bigger the fear grew, and the harder it was to get back to it. I missed it SO MUCH. I felt incomplete without it. But I couldn’t get over my fear. Looking back, I’m actually incredibly sad – like, crying-as-I-remember-and-write-this sad.

A couple of years ago, fate and my intuition took over and I quieted my fears long enough to sign up for The Singing Experience. It was wonderful; I had a blast and I remembered that the joy of singing on a stage far outshined the voices in my head telling me I’m not good enough. After that, I signed up for voice lessons with various wonderful teachers and coaches, and I performed three more times.



This year, I knew I needed to do what I didn't really think possible as a little girl but wanted more than anything: to sing on stage in front of people I love for a whole show. Me, a microphone, an awesome band, and maybe some tears. (The tears weren’t in the little girl’s vision, but wiser me realizes they’re likely.)

I have three days left to raise the $7,380 I need to make this show happen and make that dream come true. I know I’m asking for a miracle here because I have more than $5,000 to go and just three days to get there, but I’m committed to seeing this through.

If you can make any donation at all, big or small, I’d be beyond grateful. And if you could share it with friends, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, co-workers, that person who flirts with you sometimes, whoever, I’d be beyond grateful.

May you keep dancing towards your own dreams – it’s really never too late.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Why I'm Feeling Lighter (And, Apparently, Looking Younger)

It seems to me that one of the hardest things to do is to be fully, confidently, unapologetically authentic in every area of your life. I have grappled with the question of who I am and how I express that to others my entire life. I spent most of that time holding back: not letting myself be too loud, too confident, too emotional, too honest, too whatever. I also didn't spend my time or money or energy in ways that inspired and fueled me; it didn't occur to me until a couple of years ago that how you spend your time and your money is how you spend your life.

Since then - and especially in the last few months - I have started to let that go. And, boy, do I feel lighter!

Instead of constantly wondering what the other person is thinking or how they'll react, I just speak my truth. And since I make a conscious effort to spend my time, money, and energy on what I feel is an expression of my authenticity instead of on what makes me feel "meh" or drained, I'm happier, calmer, and more centered. Whether it's a dance break, a manicure, or prioritizing a doctor's appointment, I fill my life as much as I can with what's true to me.

Just a couple of weeks ago, a friend I hadn't seen in a couple of months asked me what I was doing that had me looking so young and vibrant. I was so surprised, I didn't know what to say. "Um... I'm happier???"

Since experiencing this change in myself and in some of the women I know, I've become passionate with helping others reconnect with their authenticity and show up as all of who they are. I talk to so many women whose lives are compartmentalized, or who get blocked by fear and memories from the past when they try to express themselves.

I teamed up with a few friends who are also passionate about authentic expression to put together an all-day workshop/dance party. It's this Saturday in Brooklyn and I'm so excited, I could burst! It's going to be an inspiring, empowering, magical event. If you know you're ready to rediscover and celebrate your authenticity, join me!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

For The Love Of Her Brother



For the past several weeks, my Mom's older brother has been very ill, and after a lot of debate, she finally decided to fly to Kerala, India to see him today. The reason for the back and forth is because she undergoes injections once a week to treat her many allergies, which include dust and other airborne allergens. My Uncle has the same type of condition, and never had injections or any other similar treatment; this most likely contributed to his current condition. Mom told me that when she visited him last fall, both of them coughed so much that they sometimes did so in unison; one of their hired drivers even commented on this during a day trip he accompanied them on. Now, my Uncle is in the hospital, and my Mom is risking some of the progress she has made with her health so far to visit him in India, especially during the monsoon season. I know that she must go see him now, in spite of the obstacles.

Mom has always told me that her older brother helped and guided her when their own parents were unable to do so. He has a wonderful combination of compassion and intelligence, which my Mom and so many other people admire and respect him for. When they were younger, my Mom and her older brother were lucky enough to live together when they had to move to their uncle's house. Living in that environment was very difficult, but they relied on each other for support, love and friendship, especially during their darkest days. Mom remembers him walking hand in hand with her to church when she was three and a half years old, playing hide and seek in a rubber tree forest when she was six, and standing up to their father when she wanted to become a nurse (rather than a nun or a wife) at the age of seventeen. My Uncle is more than just her older brother; he is her hero, advocate, and dearest friend. I really admire their relationship, because it is special and beautiful.

My Uncle has always had a talent for writing, which is where I think I got my interest from. There is definitely something to be said about hereditary influences, especially since I don't know him as well as I would like to. The few times I have been lucky enough to visit him were great, because he is one of a handful of relatives from my parents' generation who speaks English very well. When I met him as an adult, I noticed how his eyes would light up every time he talked about my Mom, or was in her presence. They have had some ups and downs of course, but the love and respect they have for one another is stronger and more deep-rooted. Thousands of miles have kept them physically apart for long periods of time, but their relationship remains in tact. So while I am a little concerned about my Mom going to India because of her health issues, I know that there is no way she can stay away from her brother during his present crisis. He is a lovely human being with a great intellect, who also happens to be one of my Mom's greatest influences. For that, and so many other things, I am forever grateful.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Vision Quest


TWM's Visioning Workshop
TWM's Visioning Workshop
When the Universe speaks, I listen. Not in a burning-bush-on-a-mountain kind of way, but through some combination of random Facebook postings, TV shows/commercials, signs both literal and figurative and people, known and unknown.  Always repetitive.

In fact, most of the time I try to think as little as possible, and instead pay very close attention to the world within and around me to get the answers/direction I need. I find that the best information we have often exists in this 3D experiential form more so than in the grey matter between our ears, and that there is much wisdom in receiving and perceiving what comes our way. (Plus it's more fun and takes less effort to operate like this!)

Anyway, after the stock market crashed, 'it' hinted to me in several ways that I should start some sort of group thing; when a third person, point blank raised his hand in my breakout session at an NYU symposium for laid-off financial professionals and asked "Can you put a group together?" I could no longer ignore the request. So exactly 5 years ago this monthThursdays at Three was born and has been going strong without a break ever since - first weekly afternoons during the height of the recession, and then eventually bi-monthly with an evening session for folks who had found employment but asked to continue with coaching and support, and for others who wanted to make a career change or simply manage their work and life better.
 
It's been quite the journey - and one of the most rewarding and important things I've done to grow both personally and professionally. It has made me a far better coach and facilitator, so thank you to all have participated, especially those four brave souls who ventured out and trusted me that first day! (Click here for info about the next session)

As many of you know, my path has been a long and varied one. In January 2001 I founded a nonprofit organization called The Women's Mosaic (TWM) after a lot of soul searching and the result of a random workshop I picked from a Learning Annex catalog out of sheer desperation four months earlier. Among other things, that workshop was exactly what I needed to confirm and crystallize an idea that was floating around in my subconscious - 13 years,100 events, a coaching and speaking career later, the rest is history!

Of course when I told people how I started TWM, they all wanted to do the workshop, so we began offering it twice a year with amazing and profound results, attracting many repeat attendees with incredible stories throughout. The last one was in September 2012 and had been on indefinite hiatus since. But, the past month, after various signs, in combo with not one, not two, but then a third person within a few weeks asked me when we were doing another I knew it was time - which means that many of you out there need this experience and it's no coincidence that you are reading this right now!

I've already gone on too long in this PGG, so I will just let the videoinvite and blog posts speak for themselves as well as these participant descriptions:

"TWM's Visioning Workshop is a great way to spark personal growth by getting in tune with your inner-most desires. By putting aside what you think you want for yourself, and, instead, going with your gut, it is amazing what you fill find! The Visioning Workshop came for me at a time when I was trying to decide where to go with my life, and I am so glad I did it. Throughout the workshop, I was forced to believe in what I was doing and trust myself completely, and since then I have been able to look back on my collage for more guidance, for which I am very grateful. I highly recommend the Visioning Workshop for anyone trying to answer the simplest or most complex questions for themselves." Sally M. 

"When I was doing my collage I was thinking about my future and about my job search...and it actually happened. I got a job in a fashion industry where everybody smiles and are very happy with their lives - as it was on my collage!!!! ...I cannot really believe that it actually worked for me so well and cannot wait to see what happens next!!! Thank you so much for this wonderful experience!" Joanna G. 


"I think of the collage I created at the Visioning Workshop as a map of my unconscious mind. At the time of the workshop, I was in a transitional phase and in need of guidance. The collage helped me to gain a sense of calm and clarity. I especially enjoyed taking a break from the intellectual, thinking side of my brain and opening up the side that is more intuitive. The visual representations of my thoughts and ideas gave me a sense of peace that I could move forward with confidence. I look forward to doing another collage soon. Suzanne G. 

"Great!  The workshop helped me to clarify what success looks like to me." Sheraun B

 Are you one of those folks who are supposed to be there on Saturday, April 26th?  You don't need some shamanic ceremony or 80's movie to help you decide.  Just listen to your Self, pay attention to the signs and heed the call to make some big changes in your life - this is simply a way to fast-track the process!

P.S. Yes, there are only women in the video, but men are most welcome to attend as well. You need some visioning, too!  :)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 
The following was originally posted on April 8, 2014 on Kristina's blog

CHICKS ROCK! is happy to have Kristina back as a guest blogger this week. Kristina Leonardi is the founder of The Women’s Mosaic. She is a coach and speaker in the areas of career development, work/life wellness and personal growth.  

You can follow her @clearlykristina and like her Personal Growth Gab (PGG) page on Facebook to get more thought-provoking, inspirational and motivational tidbits like this!



Monday, April 7, 2014

When Familiarity Breeds Contempt

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 
― Maya Angelou

Recently, I have been wondering about a certain pitfall of human nature that occurs within families, friendships, marriages, and other close relationships; it is when people (who should know better) turn against those close to them when they did nothing to deserve it. Since last month, someone very close to me has been a target of this type of unfair treatment, even after repeatedly telling and showing the "offended" party that she was not against them and wanted to keep the peace. I would have ignored it if it happened once or even twice, but she was barraged with accusations, which increased my annoyance with the situation. It all had to do with a much anticipated visit from a relative from overseas, how the news was shared with certain people and not others, and where he wanted to stay when he was here. This caused some unfortunate, long-standing family tensions to come forth. While I know he had a good visit, I also know he definitely would have enjoyed his time here much more without all of the unnecessary drama.

I have learned to deal with this treatment when the target is me; the last time it happened was late last year, when I overheard a conversation in which I was mentioned in dismissive and cruel terms. I was shocked at first, because I had just seen and had a pleasant time with this person, who I have known and loved for almost my whole life. After thinking about it for a little while, I realized that no matter how much I have and will always love and care for this person, she has always had an underlying feeling of contempt towards me, maybe because I remind her of a past she wants to forget. I may never really know why. Soon after the incident, I moved on, because I knew it had nothing to do with me; it had to with her feelings and perceptions. Our relationship may never be the same again, but at least I can say I have forgiven her; I will never forget it, because I learned some invaluable lessons from the experience.

I have observed that these conflicts often originate from the accusers' personal insecurities and skewed perceptions. Secure people don't have to attack those who did nothing to them. Fear of losing control, fear of the past or unknown, and/or maybe even envy or jealousy, can create major havoc in relationships. When I see people creating these negative dramas for themselves and others, I want to shake them and say, "Stop it! Life is too short for this nonsense!" But for those who act in these ways, trying to reason with them while they are in an unreasonable state will not work. The best thing to do is to take a step back, and refuse to engage in argumentative behavior that will not solve anything. When confronted, the best thing to do is to stand your ground, tell the truth, be diplomatic, and then walk away from the confrontation if nothing is working. Hopefully the accusers will calm down, stop hurling accusations, and maybe even apologize for their behavior. Maybe.

I may annoy and even anger some people I know with this post, but I think it is a subject worth talking about, and I wrote the truth. I know I can't be the only one who has experienced this kind of treatment, both directly and indirectly. The moral to this post is that even when you mean well and treat others with respect and kindness, there will always be someone who will take offense to those who don't offend for a variety of "reasons." Staying true to who you are is the best defense.

If you have any thoughts, please share them!







Disclaimer: Blog entries express the opinions of the respective Bloggers/Contributors/Authors/Commenters solely, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Women's Mosaic. As host and manager of CHICKS ROCK!, TWM acts solely as a provider of access to the internet and not as publisher of the content contained in bloggers' posts and cannot confirm the accuracy or reliability of individual entries. Each participant is solely responsible for the information, analysis and/or recommendations contained in her blog posts.
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