"It took me a long time to learn this lesson, but the biggest obstacle between me and my goals has always been myself..."
Thanks so much to, Voyage Houston Magazine, for our fun recent conversation about my music, coaching and life perspective!
I love interviews like this one because the questions go deep and really make you pause to reflect:
If you're curious to read more about my journey to find my voice and help others do the same, check out the full feature here!
I used to think I didn't like sardines, but today I realized that I had never actually tasted them...
All these years I have been confusing them with anchovies! So when my mom opened a can of sardines at lunch, I decided to test the story in my head and try them for myself.
I leaned in past the very fishy appearance and took a bite. It tasted like tuna!
For so long I had told myself sardines were gross that I never paused to examine the origin of my tale.
Now I know the truth. I don’t mind the taste of sardines!
And now I have one more “healthy Omega-3” food option I can add to salads on occasion.
One other real life "sardine story" (i.e. myth) that I recently debunked for myself is the thought that it would be "hard/practically impossible" for me to break into the New Orleans jazz scene since:
I was thrilled to finally prove this story wrong, however, last week while attending the New Orleans Traditional Jazz Camp in the French Quarter.
Not only did I learn a lot about traditional jazz and leading a band, but I also got to "sit in" with professional groups (meaning you play a jazz standard together totally unrehearsed) multiple times at music venues around the Quarter, including Preservation Hall, the Spotted Cat, Buffa's and Fritzel's European Jazz Club (if you'd like to watch a few clips of those, check out my Facebook page or Instagram profile).
Everyone was amazingly welcoming, encouraging and excited to hear I was moving back to Louisiana.
Do I think this means I'll never meet a grumpy jazz musician in Louisiana? Definitely not!
But I have now confirmed that I was letting my fear of the unknown blow the difficulty of connecting way of proportion in my own head. I never actually tested my story in real life.
I challenge you to think of one story you’ve been telling yourself for years (Ex. Something you “don’t like” or think you’re “bad at” or think is “impossible” for you) and get curious about that story. Where did it come from? When did you start telling it to yourself or others. Does it actually hold up when you re-examine it today?
Open your own figurative “can of sardines” and set the record straight for yourself!
PEOPLE TELL ME ALL THE TIME THAT THEY'RE "COMMITTED" TO DOING SOMETHING. AND YET THEY DON'T DO IT...OVER AND OVER AND OVER.
WHY IS THIS?
Oftentimes, the hidden reason lies in their thoughts around "the thing." You see, there's a big difference between INTENTION and COMMITMENT. People frequently confuse the two.
If you "intend" to go to a friend's birthday party, but you don't block out the time in your calendar, or make sure your car has gas, or get a babysitter ahead of time, then it's a lot less likely you'll actually end up going to the party.
On the other hand, if you are "committed" to going to the party, you'll make sure your calendar is clear that evening. You'll get a good night's sleep the night before. You'll put whatever pieces and actions in place to make sure you get to that party!
HERE'S ANOTHER PERSONAL & REAL EXAMPLE OF MY OWN:
My husband recently found out he is receiving a promotion at work (Woohoo!) that will be moving us back to Louisiana ("Yay!" to be closer to family, but at the same time "Ugh!" because it means selling our house, looking for another one, me starting over musically in a new place, etc.)
These are all important things to consider.
But here's another big thing--I am COMMITTED to being a musician wherever I am. This means as of now, I am COMMITTED to being a musician in Louisiana.
When I first learned about the move, I started letting my mind run wild:
In letting my thoughts loose, I remembered hearing about a traditional jazz camp for adults each summer in the French Quarter.
After a quick Google search, I found the camp, looked up the details and decided I was committed to going. There was only one problem--they were already full for my instrument (voice).
But I was committed to going, remember? I had even blocked the week out on my calendar.
So I sent in an email to get on the waitlist. I mentioned my vocal background, that I'd be moving to the area and would be happy to volunteer in some capacity as a way to participate if they needed extra help.
I also reached out to a musician friend who did the camp last summer to see if he had any suggestions of how I might get in. He let me know about the public performances and jams I could attend in New Orleans even if there wasn't a place for me in the camp sessions.
I then enrolled my husband in my desire to attend this camp (it's not free, so that definitely took commitment on my part).
And finally, I decided I would attend all the public events no matter what.
A couple days later, I received an email from the director. "A vocal spot has just opened up. Can you send in a few sample recordings of yourself singing?" she asked.
And since I am committed to being a musician, I had recordings to send her. I had a YouTube channel and website. I was prepared because I am committed.
The point of this story is not that I got in (which I did. Yay!). The point is that there were plenty of obstacles that tested my commitment. I could have let numerous roadblocks stop me, and if I only "intended" to be a jazz musician in Louisiana, that may have been the end of this story.
What is it that you say you are "committed" to but now are realizing you only "intend" to do? It might be time to reexamine that thing and get off the fence--do you want to commit, or is this thing worth releasing for now? (P.S. You can change your mind as you enter different stages of life.)
I recently caught up with an artist friend who has inspired me over the years by showing reality in her presence online (both good days AND bad), while always seeming to find the gifts in even rotten circumstances.
As we talked, she explained to me that she sees life similarly to how she sees her paintings. She can say, "Ugh..." to herself over and over if she's not satisfied or confident about a piece she's working on, but instead of going to that negative headspace, she tells herself one key phrase:
"It's not finished."
Then she continues working the painting through its awkward "puberty" stage until she DOES like it. She can't describe exactly what it will look like in the end, but she connects with how it will make her FEEL--the emotion she wants to convey. Once she gets to that goal feeling, she knows its done.
Similarly, I do this with audiences when I sing, and speakers/dancers/other creative disciplines also take this principle to heart: determine the target feeling and energy you want your audience to experience. Then get into that mindset/feeling and project that energy with your body. Embodying the emotion will help you more naturally find the right words/body language/etc. to convey it to others.
This is one of the core secrets of charisma.
Working hard to "be charismatic" can actually make charisma MORE elusive to you.
Instead, focus on connecting to a FEELING and practice letting your instincts guide you. The more you do this, the more you'll learn to trust yourself, and the more charisma you'll be able to project.
Just in case you don't believe me, here's one additional example :)
I don't remember when this particular artist friend and I met many years ago. But I remember her ENERGY. I remember the excitement I felt talking with her as we started hatching creative ideas/projects together.
And when she and I talked tonight--even though it has been several years since we last connected--that same electric energy was in the Zoom room with us.
What energy do you think you're giving off to others? What energy do you WANT to give off? And are these two things aligned?
Ask a few close friends to see what they say. They often notice things we can't see for ourselves.
Do you like being cold?
I sure don't!
I've spent most of my life in the Southern part of the U.S., and I don't even remember owning a true "coat" until I received a letter jacket in high school.
This means on rare Texas days when the temperature stays below 40 degrees, I bundle up to go outside :)
But lately, I've been bundling up INSIDE as well.
You see, my house has single-paned windows. That means heating and cooling it is bit trickier and more costly than heating and cooling a house with more energy-efficient, double-paned windows.
When my husband and I first purchased our house, we looked into how much it would cost to replace every single window and door. The price was way more than we were interested in investing since we don't plan to stay here forever.
So for a while I "tolerated" being cold. And I forgot about it somewhat. It became normal.
But I was still uncomfortable.
Then I came down with an ACTUAL cold--snotty nose and all--and suddenly my detestation for FEELING cold was back at the forefront of my mind.
I decided I was no longer willing to tolerate this discomfort.
That realization got me thinking creatively about alternative solutions to my problem.
It got me to take action:
What are YOU tolerating in your life? What are you ready to change? And how can you create your own solutions.
If you'd like to have a Zoom brainstorming chat about this, let me know!
P.S. Sign up to my free weekly newsletter to receive more tips about releasing self-doubt, finding your voice and reaching your full potential on your own terms!
If you were to compile a list of the most charismatic figures in recent American history, Martin Luther King Jr. would probably be on that list. He was well-known for his speaking skills, his personality and his commitment to affecting positive change for millions of people.
MLK Jr. used a charismatic leadership and oratory style that PULLED people to him. And now every year on the 3rd Monday in January, we celebrate his birthday as a way to honor his work and memory.
If we contrast this with the complete opposite--a PUSH style (ex. a dictator who may be an accomplished orator but who pushes people to do what he/she wants through fear, force, etc.), which bond (between leader and public) do you think is stronger?
This subject reminds me of one of my favorite childhood fables related to this important leadership lesson:
The North Wind & the Sun
The North Wind and the Sun had a quarrel about which of them was the stronger. While they were disputing with much heat and bluster, a Traveler passed along the road wrapped in a cloak.
"Let us agree," said the Sun, "that he is the stronger who can strip that Traveler of his cloak."
"Very well," growled the North Wind, and at once sent a cold, howling blast against the Traveler.
With the first gust of wind the ends of the cloak whipped about the Traveler's body. But he immediately wrapped it closely around him, and the harder the Wind blew, the tighter he held it to him. The North Wind tore angrily at the cloak, but all his efforts were in vain.
Then the Sun began to shine. At first his beams were gentle, and in the pleasant warmth after the bitter cold of the North Wind, the Traveler unfastened his cloak and let it hang loosely from his shoulders. The Sun's rays grew warmer and warmer. The man took off his cap and mopped his brow. At last he became so heated that he pulled off his cloak, and, to escape the blazing sunshine, threw himself down in the welcome shade of a tree by the roadside.
The moral of this fable is: Gentleness and kind persuasion win where force and bluster fail.
(See the full, beautifully-illustrated version in the Library of Congress here.)
I hope this inspires you to consider whether you are pushing others into or pulling them toward YOUR dream!
"I'll find you in the morning sun, and when the night is new. I'll be looking at the moon, but I'll be seeing you." - Billie Holiday
Y'all, last night was a dream come true and SO MUCH FUN!
I had the pleasure of performing for a local church's concert series, which meant I got to sing/play a selection of favorites from the Great American Songbook and Broadway. I was joined by the church's incredibly talented pianist who introduced and accompanied me.
We titled the evening "Count Your Blessings: A Thanksgiving Show," and it truly did feel like a night of warmth and gratitude.
This was my first official "show" (where people come specifically FOR the music) in person.
I can't tell you how amazing it feels to hold an audience's rapt attention for that long!
And to think that I LEARNED how to do this. Which means you can, too.
Songs and stories are powerful. The important part is figuring out how to connect.
This is me glowing after the concert :D
Flash forward to this morning...I've been trying for a few hours now to get the video footage from the show off of my phone (the file's so large that it's causing problems).
When I do figure out this issue, I'll send y'all a snippet to watch!
In the meantime, I'm recognizing that all I truly need are the memories in my head and heart--seeing the smiles on people's faces, watching them interact and hearing their kind words after about how I "transported back to their childhood."
So I'm reminding myself to count my blessings, and I hope you do too!
Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving,
"Vulnerability is hard, and it's scary, and it feels dangerous, but it's not as hard, scary, or dangerous as getting to the end of our lives and having to ask ourselves, 'What if I had shown up? What if I would have said I love you? What If I would have come off the [starting] blocks?'"
This powerful quote from Brené Brown struck me last night as I was watching one of her popular talks online.
The phrase was part of her closing statement, the one meant to both touch our hearts (because we can relate to it), but also call us to action (so that we DO something as a result).
It got me thinking about the most vulnerable action I have ever taken--deciding to marry the love of my life.
You're probably wondering, "How in the world is that even a question???" but hear me out :)
You see, I have lived and worked abroad, I have learned new languages and connected with fascinating people, all while enjoying an incredible sense of freedom to choose where I was in the world.
And in marrying the love of my life, I knew that I would be signing up for a very different style of living--one where I would be connected to wherever his job sent us.
I knew it would mean eventually leaving behind a job and career I loved to start over (possibly multiple times).
And I needed to decide if I was OK with that.
It took a while, but eventually I was ready to take that deep plunge into a new unknown (and the decision by then did become a no-brainer!). I had to get through a whole lot of scary vulnerability first for my head and heart to click.
As hard as it was then, I'm so glad that I did.
Because it led not only to building a life with my favorite person in a new place that we have both grown to love, but it also gave me the courage to take OTHER vulnerable steps toward big goals, like reconnecting with music.
Fast-forward several years, and now I get to enjoy the fruits of some of those vulnerable steps with you!
If you're in the Houston, TX area, I hope you'll join me for several upcoming performances:
I hope to see you at one or both of these shows!
And remember--embracing vulnerability is hard. It can hurt. You WILL fail at times.
But "sometimes winning is not coming in first. Sometimes winning is doing the really brave thing." - Brené Brown
Whenever you’re ready… here are 2 additional ways I can help you develop charismatic communication skills to create the life you want:
I am brave.
I am free.
I am radiant.
This picture is actually a still shot from a home video of me at about 3.5 years old.
My family had gone on our first trip to Disney World, and in the video I’m doing one of my absolute favorite things in the world at that time: twirling.
I end up twirling for so long and with such joy/enthusiasm that I lose both of my shoes…and STILL, I keep twirling.
I chose to use this photo as part of a powerful visualization exercise I participated in this week with fellow coaches from around the world. The exercise was about empathy (which we often have for others but less so for ourselves) and unconditional love. It actually brought me to tears, which I wasn’t expecting.
As a high-achiever I can be extremely hard on myself, so it was very touching to recognize these same qualities in the grown-up version of me and to reconnect with my true essence, my exuberant inner child.
Weaving bravery, freedom and radiance into my current self is just one step in my journey to make a difference in the world. And since I know you have similar BIG goals, I invite you to give it a try, too.
Find a childhood image of yourself. Then look at the photo from an outsider's perspective, and with empathy and love.
Then take a long look at yourself in a mirror, and look for those same qualities in your current self.
It's almost the end of October, which means that I'll be wrapping up my own journey through the 30-Day Gratitude Challenge (but you can still play it any time of the year on your own).
Next week I'll be sharing my thoughts on what I learned, what I can do better next time, and what surprised me as a result of putting gratitude front and center in my life for a month!
Keep sharing joy,
This weekend I had a jazz duo gig at an upscale restaurant in Houston.
I was looking forward to a night of singing my favorite standards after an extra long trip to Louisiana (that's another story I'll tell you later :p)
As I walked in the door, I ran into the pianist who had played the earlier solo shift. We knew each other "virtually" but had never met in person, so this was a nice surprise. He suggested we play a short song together before he left to "try each other out" for potential future collaborations.
I said, "Sure!"
The dining room was surprisingly noisy that night. All the tables were full, and several large parties were seated near the music area.
We headed over to the piano, selected a jazz standard from my repertoire list ("Almost Like Being in Love" for those of you who are curious) and he began to play the intro.
After a few seconds of music, I knew it was time to begin singing but couldn't seem to find my starting note in all the commotion.
I glanced over at him apologetically.
He quickly realized I need more context and played a snippet of the melody. That was just the boost I needed, and we ran through the rest of the song with ease.
Once the song was over, I felt the need to apologize for the late start.
"Sorry about that," I said nervously. "It's so loud in here!"
As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I wanted to shove them back in. Why was I apologizing? It wasn't a big deal. No one was even paying attention at that point--they were talking with their friends--and we handled the delay like pros. Yet I felt the need to say, "Sorry."
"Don't worry about it," he smiled back, but I could feel the tiniest bit of a negative energy shift between us.
By leading with "sorry" rather than "thank you," I lost an extra opportunity to put my best foot forward and let my confident, grateful self shine through.
HOW APOLOGIES KILL OUR CONFIDENCE
Do you apologize unnecessarily on a regular basis?
Statistics show that women do this most often, but I also know lots of men who over-apologize, so really, everyone can benefit from becoming aware of the habit.
Replacing “sorry” with “thank you” is a small switch that holds a surprising amount of power and can even change the course of an interaction or conversation.
Overall, you’ll see your life trend in a more positive direction as you thank people more and more often for the kind things they do for you (even when that means they are pointing out your minor mistakes)!
THANK YOU = SHARING GRATITUDE & ELEVATING CHARISMA
If you're playing the 30-Day Gratitude Challenge with me this month, you'll notice that replacing "sorry" with "thank you" also puts you in a grateful mindset. So even if you've missed a few days of the Gratitude Challenge, don't apologize for it. Flip that script around and consider this an opportunity to say "thank you for reminding me to get back into the game!"
For those of you who'd like additional details about communicating in a more charismatic way (including situations when you can replace "sorry" with "thank you" or other more powerful phrases), check out this TEDx talk below: