Over the Fence
Last week I was looking out the window of my home office when I noticed a little kid in a baseball helmet walking slowly down the sidewalk past my house. Since we live near the dead-end of an already pretty quiet street, I knew this was likely one of my new neighbors and paused to see what he was doing.
The boy gradually slowed down more and more until he stopped in front of our driveway and looked longingly at my house.
"He wants to ring the doorbell," I thought, and, having already found a handful of baseballs in our backyard, I was willing to bet he had knocked another one over the fence.
I continued to watch as the boy wavered for a few seconds near my driveway, started toward my house, then paused, stepped back, then paused again, and finally slugged off home.
In the moment when he finally turned around and walked off, my heart went out to the kid.
I KNEW first-hand how he felt.
He KNEW what he wanted. He STARTED to take action and use his voice to ASK for it. But ultimately, his THOUGHTS got in the way of his ACTIONS and he chickened out.
A little while later, I went into the backyard to learn that my guess was right. A worm baseball sat motionless in the grass.
The boy was long gone by then, so I threw it over the fence for him to find later.
Now, in this rare instance, I could very easily help the boy get what he wanted..
But most times in life, we don't have a perceptive neighbor or fairy godmother who can read our mind/body language and magically get us what we need.
And what if that thing is IMPORTANT, like sharing our opinion in a board meeting, connecting with our teenage kid, asking for a raise, or learning to stay present to truly LISTEN to what others are saying?
It's important to be able to take more control over our lives in critical moments. But to do that, we have SPEAK up (or sometimes be quiet and help OTHERS speak up), especially when we're uncomfortable.
In what area of your life are you acting RIGHT NOW like the little boy?
How are your thoughts getting in the way of your actions, your deep listening skills, and your powerful voice?
And what's one way you can change that today?
The Worry Wart
We all know people who seem to have a master's degree in worrying. For me, this was my maw maw. On any given day, she could write an epic about all the things she was currently worrying about and how much pain and suffering everything was causing her.
I was very close to my maw maw as a child and loved her tremendously. But guess what? Even back then I recognized that a lot of the pain and suffering she experienced on a daily basis was self-inflicted.
“The man who says he can, and the man who says he can't are both correct.”
I've seen this quote attributed to Henry Ford, Confucius, and probably numerous other famous people. But regardless of who said it, the message rings true: "The man who BELIEVES he can and the man who BELIEVES he can't are both correct." How we THINK about something (or ourselves) determines our realm of possibility and impossibility.
Most of the things we "worry" about regularly are not actually worth stressing over. But by dwelling on them, labeling them as negative and/or putting them off for an extended period of time, we turn them into boogie monsters in our heads.
Just this week while I was singing for a funeral, I started feeling some significant discomfort in my body from a health issue that has been nagging me. This now familiar, unwelcome feeling can easily make me spiral into "woe is me" mode if I'm not careful. But instead of letting my saboteurs take over, that day I paused to notice my thoughts and feelings in the moment. I noticed the discomfort. I recognized its existence. I heard my inner critic trying to label it as bad--why did I have to deal with this??? But I also recognized that I could not do anything about it in that moment. I knew that no immediate action needed to be taken health-wise. And while I couldn't make it go away, I COULD lesson my pain and suffering in that moment by choosing not to label it as "bad," but to just let it be.
So I did. I experienced the discomfort, but significantly lessoned the momentary pain and suffering that I felt.
If you'd like to strengthen your own mental fitness, I'll be starting a new round of Positive Intelligence coaching in October. Get in touch if you'd like to learn more!
The Thing I Swore I'd Never Do
As I write this I'm packing up to perform a solo gig at the Residence de France--the French Consul General's residence--in New Orleans (eek)!
It's pretty exciting to be visiting and reconnecting with the local Francophone community again considering that I have been to quite a few receptions at this house over the years, but not as a musician (my background is in public relations and tourism as a representative of the French American Chamber of Commerce-Gulf Coast Chapter and the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism).
I'll admit that after 5 years in Texas, my French is a bit rusty, so I'll be out of my comfort zone once again, but it's a good push.
Speaking of comfort zones...
I recently stepped out of mine in a new way--a way that I swore I would never do.
I've started giving voice lessons :)
Over the years many people have asked me to teach them to sing, and I always quickly shut them down. I never wanted to be a teacher.
But this time things are different. In the past few years I have gained a whole new level of understanding about my own musical voice, how to use it to its full potential, and how to EXPLAIN that to other people. And I've learned that I really do enjoy coaching others on their vocal skills! Learning how to sing was the first key to unlocking my own voice and stepping out of extreme shyness years ago.
I already love coaching people find their speaking voice, their creative voice, and their musical voice through the ukulele. Now we can also tackle the singing component together!
I have a limited number of spots available for in-person and virtual voice lessons, so let me know if you're interested.
The Birthday Gift
When I was little—probably 3rd or 4th grade—I remember waiting for my mom in the carpool line at school.
Back then I’d watch the 8th graders walk down the hallway and daydream—it seemed like getting to that “cool, confident age” would take FOREVER!
Alas, I did eventually get to 8th grade, then 12th grade, then college and grad school. And while that “cool, confident age” STILL eludes me, somewhere along the way, time started speeding up…a lot.
Now it’s to the point where I want it to SLOW DOWN to savor all the beautiful moments that pass by too quickly!
Thankfully, over the years I’ve learned we’re all in control of our perception of time and can savor the present whenever we choose to. Here’s to continuing to get better at that this year.
I normally love birthdays, but to be honest, I’ve approached this one with a bit of trepidation since it means crossing the invisible “over 35” threshold. Thank y’all so much for all your support and birthday wishes! You sure know how to make a girl feel special.
P.S. If you're in Louisiana, I'd love to see you Sunday, Sept. 11, at the Big Swing Big Band Concert in Covington. I'm honored to be a guest vocalists for this event. Come join us for great music, dinner and dancing!
Ashley Orlando is a jazz vocalist/ukulele artist and coach who helps growth-focused leaders find their voice, grow their presence & amplify their impact.