Monday, October 31, 2011

Taking the Reins and Regaining My Reign

I had no sooner picked up that magazine, flipped open to the article and thought to myself, This is my best work ever. And this fabulous layout they did makes it all the better, than a neighbor from down the street popped in to say hi and that he'd seen the article. He took the opening to point out that of all the three thousand words of it what he noticed was that I misspelled the same word, twice.

Actually, it was, as he informed me, a confusion of homophones. I wrote the word reigns when I really meant reins. I missed it in my proofreading. My copy editor missed it in her proofreading. The magazine editor missed it in her proofreading. And now my swollen pride had been drained by a honed scalpel.

Once again, insecurity bubbled and roiled beneath the surface. I took it as proof that I am a fraud. All night I worried that by morning everyone would know that I am not a real writer, that I don't know what I'm doing. The scrutiny frustrated me. I thought, I should just give up this career. No real writer would make a glaring mistake like that.

But real writers do make mistakes. Eat, Pray, Love has an error or two in it. The House on First Street is riddled with them. Elizabeth Gilbert and Julia Reed, respectively, are still real writers, however, and their stories are no less engaging.

I suppose that's what it means to be fearless. Fearless has never meant "without flaws." Fearless means putting myself all out there (I was fearless when I wrote that magazine article. All of my skills with creative non-fiction were laid on the line. I put my heart into it.)  and accepting the increased risk of error. The other 2998 words of the article are not ruined because of two. My story is no less engaging.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Are You Beautiful?

Well, are you?

Does that question make you uncomfortable? Probably. It's awfully direct and it demands a clear Yes or No. There's no grey area or room for an alternate answer.

And as southern girls, we all know that if we say YES, then the devil has led us straight into the vanity trap. Our mamas have taught us the dual lesson of always looking our best (Lord help us if we leave the house with our hair wet) while never prizing personal appearance over our virtues. Pride, for heaven's sake, is a sin.

If we say NO, for goodness gracious, then we disappoint our mamas, too. We are lovely in their eyes and it breaks their hearts if we discount our gifts of good figure and calm complexion. Our mamas want us to believe in ourselves and appreciate ourselves.

Beauty is a double edged sword.

Did you know that, according to Dove Research: The Real Truth About Beauty Revisited, that only 4% of women consider themselves beautiful. To me that's a staggering statistic. One that reveals the sad state of our understanding of beauty.

What is "beautiful" to you? Is it a flawless face on a glossy magazine cover? Is it a thread-thin model on a fashion runway? Is it Sissy-Dell Mathias's perfect hair that never flops no matter the weather? If so, that's the devil getting after you again, because he knows most of us don't look anything like that. Our perceived deficiencies breed envy and down the devil's row we go again.

Are you beautiful? If you dare to define beauty differently, then you'll have a much easier time answering that question.

To me, beauty is self-confidence. Beauty is smiling through adversity. Beauty is finding fulfillment in the routine of daily life. Beauty encourages friends and helps strangers. Beauty takes care of herself. Beauty is kindness, compassion and combed hair. It's lipstick and lending a hand. Beauty appreciates her assets and knows that God made no mistake in creating her. A beautiful woman manages to be the whole package, always becoming the best "self" that she can.

Are you beautiful?

Today's Assignment: In your Book of Lists, define beauty. Write down what it is to you. Are you beautiful? If you still answer No, then list what you can do to get there.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tuck Self is the Rebel Belle

And she wants YOU to be a Rebel Belle, too.

Tuck Self at Rebel Belle is hosting the Tuck Your Skirt 2011 Blog Tour today with a very special treat. Tune in to the Tuck Talk radio program to listen to a recorded interview with moi. Tuck and I had a delightful chat. She is a model for fearless living.

As you've probably already guessed, a Rebel Belle is no ordinary southern lady. She's "A southern voice for bold self-expression." After enjoying the podcast, you really must take a peek under the Human Design tab. Then scoot to the Coaching tab and grab some inspiration for living your best life. I can promise you that Tuck at the Rebel Belle will help you have your own "rebel-ation." She can help you have a life that "feeds your soul."

Over the next few weeks. I'm visiting more blogs around the country, participating in Q&A, sharing excerpts from Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run, and giving folks a chance to listen to podcasts and watch videos about me and Tuck Your Skirt. Some bloggers will be hosting giveaways so you'll definitely want to stop by.

I hope to see you along the virtual book tour trail. Meet the blog tour hosts.

I'd love to visit your blog, too. Email me if you're interested or check here for more details.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fearless Southern Women - The Short List

A fearless southern woman is a lady who beguiles with a smile
and tells it like it is.

Rosa Parks - Civil rights hero
Dixie Carter - Actress
Henrietta Lacks - Mother of the HeLa cell
Rose O'Neal Greenhow - Confederate spy
Harper Lee - Author of To Kill A Mockingbird
Ma Rainey - Mother of the Blues
Oprah Winfrey - Duh!
Kate and Jean Gordon - Social reformers and suffragists

The list could go on and on and on. Who would you add to this list and why?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fearless Living Quiz

Do we love to take a quiz or what? I have marked up many a magazine finding out if I'm a Queen of Clutter, Diva of Design, Princess of Passion, Whale of a Wife, etc. etc.

Want to find out where you are on your journey to fearless living? You can take this quiz without searching for a pen. Follow the link (and answer truthfully):

I took the quiz. Here's a peek at my results:

Quiz Results

You answered YES to 7 of the questions:

Self-mastery is what you seek and it is present in your powerful stand in most areas of your life. Congratulations on your willing heart and open mind. They serve you well. It is now time to step up to the next level of personal refinement. . .

If you want to share, copy and paste the first paragraph of your results in the comments section. Or keep your results to yourself. Either way, get inspired to live your most fearless life.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Get Fresh

During graduate school, I worked part-time at the Council on Aging in Athens, GA as an ombudsman. It didn't pay well, but I liked the job, visiting nursing homes and personal care homes protecting patients' rights, educating the employees, and investigating complaints made to the State.

A woman named Sally held the full-time ombudsman position. She was considerably older than me, as I was in my mid-twenties and she in her late fifties. And a quirky bird she was, too. She drank hot tea at exactly 10a.m. every day. She ate egg salad for lunch, ritualistically. She began almost every sentence with, "Wellllllll." In essence, Sally was the most predictable, unchanging person I had ever met. She wasn't just set in her ways, she'd become stuck in them with super glue. Bending or budging were both out of the question.

On the one hand, I suppose, Sally knew what she liked and she saw no reason to add complication to a life that clicked like clockwork. Deviating from the minute-by-minute, behavior-by-behavior plan would require extra energy and effort.

BUT, on the other hand, Sally was afraid to drive in Atlanta, take an unfamiliar route, give anyone anything other than her well-rehearsed standard opinion, eat fish, drink milk, answer the phone if she wasn't expecting a call or go to bed after 10p.m. She was always sure she'd said the right thing. She was positive she wouldn't get lost. And for certain no prank callers or telemarketers would catch her off guard.

Her fear trapped her in a comfortable life of monotony.

It was a good lesson for me at a young impressionable age, having barely begun feeling like an adult. I was young enough and silly enough to make a personal vow that I would never forget or forgo the thrill of experiencing something new; of doing something for the very first time. Not like a relationship-jumper, always leaving each romance in search of another, or a serial job-hopper, flitting from one place of employment to another; it's decidedly not the same thing. Relationship jumping and job hopping are signs of insecurity and dissatisfaction. Those are people searching for something they're likely never going to find.

When I say "experience something new," I mean stepping outside of one's comfort zone:
  • Taking on a challenge, such as writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.
  • Starting a project, like building a picnic table for the back porch.
  • Taking up a new sport, perhaps kayaking.
  • Doing something that scares you, maybe riding a roller coaster.

Every day, do one thing new. If you decide you'll never do that thing again, at least you've gained the pulse-quickening sensation of getting fresh. Plus, you have an experience to add to your repertoire, another story to tell, a complexity added to your person, a broader scope of conversation topics. You'll be a more interesting and interested person.

The only way to lose is if you say "No" to the new.

What will you do new today?

Friday, October 7, 2011

100% Guilt Free Day

Southern mamas wield guilt like a rattler in a pentecostal tent meeting. Below the Mason-Dixon, guiltiness is next to Godliness. Not overt guiltiness, like in a crime, mind you, but the kind of guilt that crawls silently up your spine and tickles at the nape of your neck. Though we swat at it and shimmy and flick, we can never brush away the sensation of it being there. Naturally, we start to avoid situations that make us notice it.

We southern girls cohabitate with our guilt in the same way we live with our silver and our pearls and daily gossip juicier than anything TMZ can dish. Why, I feel guilty for even saying the G-word. And you probably feel so guilty for reading about it and agreeing (you feel like your mama already knows you did it) that you're gonna talk about me just to make yourself feel better.

Never fear. I declare TODAY a 100% GUILT FREE DAY. Let's celebrate! Today it's okay:

1. To hide the last four chocolate chip cookies from your family and eat them for lunch tomorrow. 2. To ask the sales clerk for a 20% discount on that antique picture frame that you know you're going to buy whether she gives you the discount or not. 3. To kindly decline the handful of birthday party invitations your children brought home from school because you don't want to spend another Saturday schlepping kids around town. The party police won't convict for not being "busy" enough. 4. To say a resounding NO to the very next thing someone asks you to do. 5. To iron only the front panels and collar of your blouse because you're going to wear a jacket over it. 6. To order a pizza and watch a movie with your family on a school night. 7. To skip the DAR meeting even though you responded that you would be there. 8. To throw out that rag of a t-shirt your husband keeps wearing to be "comfortable" on Sunday afternoons. 9. To tell your son his tennis shoes smell like cat spray. 10. To paint a room orange.

How do you want to celebrate your 100% Guilt Free Day? What would you add to this list? Today it's okay to . . .

Monday, October 3, 2011

13 Things Every Fearless Southern Girl Should Know

In honor of the month of Halloween, I've developed a list of 13 things every fearless southern girl should know about herself. Don't worry, though, this is a lucky list, one that will free you from ghouls and gobblins of worry and despair.

Every Fearless Southern Girl Should Know . . .
  1. A chili recipe that warms the heart and the tongue. Making comfort foods for the ones we love is how we show we care. Being able to whip up comfort foods quickly in a pinch is how we love ourselves.
  2. A go-to Halloween costume. It's great to get creative, but this year Halloween arrives on a Monday. Be like a Boy Scout and be prepared.
  3. A charity of her choosing. Give generously to a cause or two that reflects your priorities and passions, instead of handing out dimes to every charity that solicits you.
  4. When to end . . . a project, an adventure, a chore. My personal rule of thumb to stop when my interest/enthusiasm/excitement peaks, before I'm on the downhill slide to exhaustion or misery. What's your rule of thumb?
  5. What's really worth a splurge. Do you feel like impulse buying is taking over your shopping trips? Decide right now what is worth a splurge - a fabulous pair of shoes, a spontaneous adventure, a gourmet meal - and then you'll also know what isn't.
  6. The three things she can't live without in her kitchen, in her closet and in her man.
  7. How many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop.
  8. The words to Seven Bridges Road.
  9. The phone number of a woman who will encourage her, inspire her and keep her moving forward. We all need mentors.
  10. The phone number of a woman who will indulge her, sip wine with her, complain with her and offer a shoulder and a tissue when tears get involved. We all need a best friend.
  11. A local grocer that carries Palmetto jalapeno pimiento spread. Don't go to a party without it (but put it in your own pretty dish, of course).
  12. Her heritage. Who her people are. Where she came from. Her roots.
  13. How to exclaim, "Why, I look afright," at the moment in which it will make the most impact.
Know these 13 things about YOU and you will never question yourself.