My Courageous Moment Story


los-angeles - pexelAs promised in last week’s post about “Courageous Moments,” which highlighted a powerful strategy of recalling and reliving your own moments of bravery, I’m going to share with you the story of one of my own courageous moments. I am a writer at heart and I love storytelling, so I look forward to sharing many stories with you in future posts. Here it goes:

Less than a year out of college, after some soul searching about my future career, I decided that Human Resources was for me. About 6 months into a part-time, get my foot in the door HR gig, I got my golden opportunity – an interview for a full time, entry-level HR position at the corporate offices of a national firm. This was it.

I left nothing to chance. I prepped extensively for the interview, bought a new suit, practiced hair and make-up, even strategized my driving route and travel time. After all, the offices were in downtown Los Angeles…travel time could make or break this for me.

On the morning of the interview, everything was going swimmingly, until I got off the wrong exit leading into downtown. If you are familiar with downtown LA, you know that the heavy traffic, impatient drivers and one-way streets can be extremely anxiety provoking. Since I got off the wrong exit, I could no longer follow my nicely laid out Google Maps directions. (This was well before GPS and handy dandy smartphones that could instantly redirect me). Let me just tell you, I am a terrible navigator. I am not one to take this road or that turn “just to see where it leads.” I am the type that follows the Same. Route. Always. Because that is the way I know, even if it is not the fastest or most efficient way. Needless to say, I was a bit freaked.

But on my way to the interview for the job of my dreams, I had no other option but to get there, and get there on time. There was just no other alternative; I was gonna get there and I was gonna kill it. The extra cushion of time I had allotted myself “just in case” was running short.   After several twists and turns I found myself on the right street, just a few blocks up from my destination. I was so relieved and then BAMMM!!!!! A car T-bones me in the middle of the intersection. I’m not saying that I ran the red light. I’m not saying that I didn’t. But I was definitely frazzled. The other driver and I get out to exchange information. I hurry through the process as much as I can. I get back into my car. T minus 10 minutes til interview. “Please, Lord, just get me there on time. Just help this car get me there and I don’t care what happens after that.”

As the other car went on its merry way, I got back into the driver’s seat and made a deal with myself. If I made it on time, I wouldn’t say word one about the accident; I would just roll into the interview like all was right with the world. If I was late, I would play up the accident as a means of excusing my tardiness. I started my car up and made my way gingerly down those last few blocks. I couldn’t believe my car was moving at all, even at its 10 miles an hour pace, fuming and screeching. I eventually got to the parking garage. I took the ticket from the automated machine as well as the odd looks from the parking attendant. I squealed into a spot, jumped out of the car and collected my things. As I exited the garage and crossed the street, I looked at my watch…three minutes to deadline. I smiled and said to myself out loud: “YOU are a total G.”

I walked right up to my future boss, who was waiting for me outside of my future workplace at a coffee shop, and introduced myself. She got a winning smile, a firm handshake and not the slightest whiff of my recent catastrophe. After hardcore CRUSHING that interview, I walked back across the street to the parking garage and phoned AAA. I never drove that car again. I timidly drove a rental for a week. I had another car in two weeks. I had my dream job in HR for the next four years.

And I have this courageous moment to inspire me…forever.

So there you have Normal Nelly’s first collection of posts on the theme of “Ownership.” Owning our whole selves is a very big goal. It’s something that I will be working towards for the rest of my life.  I don’t expect to ever “arrive at” or “complete” this goal, but I do expect to make continual progress on this goal for the rest of my life.

What do you think? Are you in? Let me know in the comments. Make it real and say it! Type it!  “I’m committed to owning my whole self, anxiety and all.”  Adjust this statement as necessary to make it fit you…but I want to hear you say it!

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”Courageous Moments” Strategy

pexels-photo-courage moment

Every month I’m going to highlight one strategy that I have found useful in managing anxiety. The strategy for this month is to recall and relive moments in your personal history where you did something courageous. Courageous Moments. This is an appropriate strategy for this month’s Ownership theme, because while we are getting used to the difficult process of accepting all parts of ourselves…the good, the hard and the awkward…it is motivating to remember that through it all, we do amazing and brave things every day.

It happens without warning. Your fears are just… gone. You have a crystal clear focus with not one second thought. You are filled with a thundering yet controlled confidence. The kind of confidence that surges through your body, calms your breath and squares your shoulders. You don’t care if anyone notices. You don’t need any praise or recognition. You just revel in this feeling of ownership. You absolutely, positively, matter-of-factly Own. This. Bitch. You know what you want to do. You know how to get it done and most importantly, you have made an irrevocable decision to execute.

This last step is the game changer. After all, there are about a million things that you want to do. And you have at least three solid, well thought-out plans for accomplishing each one. But the execution…that’s where fear typically steps in front of you and says,

“Wait! Wait! Wait! What about this? Have you thought about that?”

But that loud, doubting voice isn’t here right now. You don’t know why or how…where did it go? Who cares. You are in control. You are in charge and this is a courageous moment.

This calm and focused sense of bravery is what I consider to be one of two categories of courage. This is of course the ideal. I cherish and hold onto these moments because that is how I want to feel ALL THE TIME – Calm, Focused. Strong. Brave. Secure. I consider these rare moments gifts to be treasured—remembered—and recalled often.

The second and MUCH more common category of courage, is the one where you are scared outta yo mind! Before you do it. While you do it. After you do it. But when the dust settles, you are so unbelievably proud that YOU DID IT! These moments are just as important as the first type of calm and collected courage. In fact, they are more important because they are much, much harder. These moments should also be treasured, remembered and recalled often.

We must recognize, glorify and cherish these moments. If not for these moments, you might see yourself as nothing more than a quivering mass of gooey, whiney potential – hiding in the corner (or in the Perfect Harbor), watching everyone else live out their dreams which are not half as brilliant or well thought out as your own, but they are being executed, which is all that matters. Courageous moments remind you that you are strong. You are brilliant and you DO know how to handle things. Any things. All things. These are your moments of hope and inspiration that will carry you through dark and fearful times. These are better motivators than any celebrity, athlete, hard-luck story or Rocky movie out there. Why? Because these moments are about you, from you, by you. Nothing provides a better catalyst for being brave right now, than a reminder of you once being brave.

So, right now, instead of reliving that time you sweated your way through a big presentation, instead of envisioning all of the ways that tomorrow’s dinner with your future in-laws will go horribly wrong, think about that real moment in history when you were brave. The time you voiced your opinion on where to go for lunch among a new group of colleagues. The time you went to that event by yourself instead of staying home…and had a great time.

These times in your life are not flukes or lucky accidents; you actively engineered these moments, so OWN them. Because in these moments, you owned yourself, without apology and without explanation. Hang onto these memories. Recall them as often as you can and relive the feelings that coursed through your body. After all, we are what we think we are. So the more we think of ourselves as brave, the more we will be brave. And guess what? The more we focus on these courageous moments, the less we will replay negative moments! This is what I look forward too! Let’s replace as many negative reels as we can with courageous ones!!

Next week, I’ll share with you one of my courageous moments that I keep in my back pocket, to remind myself that, yes, I do own a pair of big brass ones and I can screw them on at any time. But, until then, I want to hear from you.

What is a courageous moment from your past when you stepped up to show the world “this is me, and this is what I’m about?” Something that you can pull out of your mental files in order to give yourself an injection of bravery.

In fact, go ahead and make a whole heaping list of them. Sit. Take a deep breath. Relax. Don’t rush. Don’t panic. You have these moments. Plenty of them. It may take some practice to drag them out if you are not used to thinking this way, but you can do it. Choose one or a couple and share them in the comments section. And don’t forget to subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss future posts!

| Filed under Strategies

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown


Keeping with the theme of Ownership for this month, I’m going to talk about The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. I plan to do regular book reviews as a part of this blog, since there are so many fantastic books out there that we can tap into for knowledge and inspiration.

Being comfortable owning the ‘less desirable’ parts of myself requires a change in perspective, which is exactly what this book offers. Just consider the title, The Gifts of Imperfection. Brown is about to show us how being less than perfect is a good thing! Such a good thing, in fact, that it earns us presents! I don’t know about you, but I love presents 🙂

Like a lot of people with anxiety, I often (very often) fall into the perfectionism trap.   Perfectionism sounds like a good thing, doesn’t it? It’s the safe answer to that terrible interview question “tell me about a weakness you have.” I know because I used to use it myself! (Covers eyes with hand).   It comes across like – “I am such a hard worker and I’m not willing to stop unless the project/task is completed to the highest, most discerning standards.” Sounds great, right? No. Not right.

Actually, what I am coming to realize through this book as well as other resources, is that perfectionism is not a positive at all – it is a dangerously compelling Siren Song that pulls you away from doing what you need to be doing. This seemingly positive ‘quality’ coaxes you out of the churning waters of life, over to its ‘safe’ harbor –where you wait. You wait until you feel comfortable competing with the other boats out there, that are passing you by, sailing away, having adventures. Perfectionism keeps you from making any progress at all. It is a hiding place. I know that I have hunkered down in the Perfect Harbor many a time in order to avoid those unpredictable waters. The Siren Song of Perfectionism is a farce. It is to be ignored, shunned and rejected. You WANT to be out in the choppy, churning, wild waters…that is where real life and real empowerment happens.

Which brings me back to the presents! The central focus of Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection, is that, in order to live a wholehearted life – a life in which we can be truly authentic and fully engaged with the world around us, we need to embrace our imperfections. Owning the flaws and insecurities that we work so hard to hide from the world is the key to living a life of peace and contentment.

It sounds strange. Counterintuitive. And scary. Mostly scary. I, for one, don’t want the bad stuff, so why would I give it more attention? I don’t want to be fearful and anxious and I definitely don’t want others to see me as such, so my instinct is to ignore these feelings. But as Brown explains, this strategy only makes the negative feelings worse:

“When we spend a lifetime trying to distance ourselves from the parts of our lives that don’t fit with who we think we’re supposed to be, we stand outside of our story and hustle for our worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing, and proving. Our sense of worthiness – that critically important piece that gives us access to love and belonging – lives inside of our story.”  – Brown Pg 23.

Tucking away my scary feelings and instead focusing on “performing, perfecting, pleasing, and proving” is exactly the strategy I have been using for most of my life. To see it for what it is, to stop spinning my wheels for a moment and honestly identify HOW I am owning my life makes me…………sad. I am heartbroken to realize that, for so many years, I have been living to please other people. I have been living to create an appearance of myself that others will accept.

According to Brown, being vulnerable – letting down your guard and being your real imperfect self — gets you these gifts: Courage, Compassion and Connection.

These are precisely the things I long for:

  • Courage to be myself ALL THE TIME.
  • Compassion for my own difficulties.
  • Connection with others – a feeling of belonging. Just as I am.

Whaaatttt?!?!?!?! I’ve always worried that being my true self would get me odd looks, criticism and avoidance. In order to get these things I long for, it turns out I need to do the exact OPPOSITE of what I have been doing!

Mind blown.

Instead of hiding imperfections…retreating into the Perfect Harbor until I feel adequate enough to compete, I need to OWN my imperfections. This means accepting my anxiety. It means giving loving attention to my fears. And it means sitting with and consoling my worries.

If any of this rings true for you, I highly recommend reading Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection. There are so many more great insights than I have space to communicate here (I took six pages of notes)! I will definitely be reading this book again.

Nelly Take-Away: Authenticity is a better goal than approval. I’d rather live this life as a unique, imperfect me, than as a cookie-cutter shadow of what I think others want to see.

So, what do YOU think? Do you ever get stuck in the Perfect Harbor? Would you be willing to change the way you own your imperfections, by treating them more compassionately and lovingly? Share you thoughts below! And make sure to subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss future posts!

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Let me get right to it – Normal Nelly, the blog, the brand, the beast, is an exercise in ownership. I have made a decision to acknowledge, embrace and yes, celebrate all that is me. This includes the part of me that I have worked fiercely to hide from the rest of the world, namely, my anxiety. This anxious part of me could be called Nervous Nelly.

Oddly enough, I have also worked very hard to hide the part of me that is amazing –the skills that make me stand out…the accomplishments that garner attention from others. This part of me, the part that strives for and often reaches greatness, could be called Notable Nelly.

It’s pretty obvious why I would want to hide the supposedly negative parts of myself (anxiety) from others. I don’t want them to think that I am strange or different. I don’t want my discomfort to make other people feel uncomfortable. I want to be accepted — to be liked. But, why would I also want to hide the positive parts of myself? The skills and accomplishments? The creativity and the determination?

Same answer. I want to be accepted – to be liked. After all, many people don’t like the success of others. This is sad, but true. The accomplishments of others make them feel less than.

As a high-ranking member of the People Pleaser Club, being liked and accepted has been the number one driver of most of my actions since I can remember. I’ve tried to keep myself on a very neutral plane…balancing between appearing as good as others, but not better than others. I’ve always had dreams of greatness –great achievements, great successes and public recognition – but my fear of making others “feel bad” when comparing themselves to my awesomeness (and therefore, not like me) has always caused me to make myself smaller. Dimming my own light was just more comfortable than shining it out into the world and awaiting criticism. But that perspective is changing. Now. With this blog.

The idea of ownership seems simple enough. You own the car that you drive around town. You own your favorite college sweatshirt that you bought freshman year.   These are your possessions. They are yours because you keep them with you…you take care of them…you are responsible for them. Exactly how you own these things says a lot about your feelings for them. Do you wash your car every week and keep it cleared of junk? Or is it caked with dirt and marred with scratches and scrapes? Do you put on your college sweatshirt every Sunday morning, relaxing into the comfy fabric, faded lettering and frayed seams? Or do you keep it folded and clean, tucked away in a special mothball filled box under your bed?

We don’t often make a concerted, deliberate decision about HOW we are going to own something. We just instinctively act out our feelings toward that object. The same goes for ourselves…I never thought about how I was going to take responsibility for my life and my identity; I managed myself unintentionally — based on feelings like fear and worry. I was the college sweatshirt in the box, kept safe under the bed. Sure, I would come out to strut my stuff on rare occasions when I felt brave, but for the most part, I stayed inside, watching others walk around. In the box I was safe from wear and tear,  judgment and any other potential dangers of living life.

Today, and everyday hereafter, I am laying out a new plan of deliberate and calculated self-ownership based on how I WANT to feel about myself and my environment. I have decided to lay claim to every single part of me…the scared, the neurotic, the magnificent, the depressed and the extraordinary.

This new conscientious ownership of myself, for myself, will take time and practice to be sure. It will not be an easy or a quick transition. In fact, I expect to spend the rest of my life learning and practicing how to embrace and accept myself in a way that makes me happy. There is no need to worry about what others will think of me and if anyone does have a negative opinion of me, well, that’s just none of my business 🙂

This blog is my way of staying accountable to the new ownership style. After all, true commitment and dedication needs to be reestablished and reaffirmed on a regular basis. Through the blog, I will share my experiences and feelings regarding anxiety and other related topics. I will also share strategies, information and resources I use or plan to use in order to manage my anxiety and my life. There will be other fun things to discover here as well, such as short stories and personal profiles.

I would love nothing more than for you to come with me and participate in this new ownership strategy. This blog will be a continual declaration that all parts of me…you…us, even the nervous parts, are normal. Normal Nelly.

What are you going to OWN today? What part of yourself will you embrace and share? Comment below and let me know!  Also, make sure to subscribe to this blog to receive notifications of new posts coming soon!

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