Comfort is Danger

Do you find yourself comfortable? In career? In relationships? In general?

It may seem counterintuitive, but if you’re comfortable, you are in a cancerous place.

Now…for the record, I’m no adrenaline junkie. I don’t seek out crazy situations. You won’t find me in line for a roller coaster or sky diving (though sky diving is somewhere on the bucket list.)

That being said, when I start to feel too comfortable in work, or in life, I know that I’m being complacent.

If you’re an actor, and you want to be successful, you’re always working on your craft. Taking acting lessons. Auditioning for new roles. Practicing monologues that challenge you as an actor.

If you’re a model, you’re consistently having photos taken. You’re trying out new looks, working with new photographers. You’re at the gym, saying no to cheeseburgers at midnight, networking and having yourself seen.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re networking, working in improving your business and team, tweaking your business model as the trends change, making sure that you are always learning from those further ahead than you are.

You get what I’m saying, right?

If you find yourself resting on your laurels, just going with the flow, you are in a dangerous place. Those who stay still are behind.

Now…I’m not insinuating that you should work 24/7…never take a vacation or a moment of rest. That will lead you to the ER with physical issues…or to the morgue if you’re not careful.

What I am saying is that it is up to you to challenge yourself. If you are waiting for opportunities to arise but you aren’t putting in the work you’re going to blink your eyes, 10 years will have passed, and you will be wondering why everyone is further ahead than you.

Let’s take this into your personal relationships too. If I’m going to poke the bear, I might as well go all the way.

Don’t be complacent with who is in your circle. Many times people are in your life for a season. And that is okay. I have people in my life from so many different phases in my life…and recently I’ve learned that they’re not all on the ride forever.

Sometimes we need certain people to get us through tough times…but when the seas are smooth they fade away. Sometimes you’re in someone’s life to do that for them.

Sometimes someone is in your life to kick you in the ass, show you who are are…but then you part ways.

The danger is in keeping people in your life because they are habits. Your friend you drink with when you’re in a mood. The friend you complain with because you’re mad at work, your boyfriend, life. Friends who belittle what you’re doing because they don’t want to change.

Surround yourself by people who challenge you. Who support you. Who pick you up when you’re down. Who kick your ass when you need it. Don’t surround yourself by lemmings who are yes men.

If you’re comfortable, wake up and start making some changes. Life is way too short to let it happen to you. What are you going to proactively do to make yourself uncomfortable? Let me know in the comments.

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Why Do We Hate Great?

So, last night I watched my team, the New England Patriots, win a bid to the Super Bowl. It wasn’t their easiest run…and the game went into overtime.

Most people hate the Patriots. They’ll call them cheaters. They’ll come up with a multitude of reasons. Most of the time I roll my eyes, but last night as insomnia withheld sleep, I started pondering the deeper reason people hate the Patriots.

People hate great.

People hate winners.

People hate those who are more successful than they are.

Why?

The only thing I can come up with is jealousy.

Truly successful people don’t have the time to hate a team with such deep vitriol that they resort to personal attacks of the fans. Well…Gary Vaynerchuk is an exception, but that’s because one day he is going to own the Jets, so I’ll give him a pass.

Truly successful people study those who are more successful than they are to learn how to achieve more. They don’t tear down others who are great. They choose to spend time with them.

Truly happy people are so happy with themselves they don’t direct ire at people they don’t know. They are too busy making sure they don’t lose that happiness, trying to spread that joy to be malicious.

So, if you’re reading this and I hit a nerve, good. Stop wasting your energy hating a group of men who get paid a lot of money to play a game and create a life that is so great that you don’t want to expend negative energy.

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Falling Back into Old Habits

So, last week was one helluva a week. Energetically, I let my week run me instead of me running my week. I allowed myself to be tossed to and fro by my emotions, by my insecurities, and by my Jesus complex.

There are so many things that I want to accomplish–so many goals that I have set for myself–that at times, instead of appreciating how far I’ve come, I grow faint at how far I have to go.

This week at work was particularly difficult because we are short-staffed, which means that I have desk duty. Mind you…I actually like working at the desk instead of being hidden away like the Wizard of Oz…but truthfully being around people over 40 hours a week drains my energy. It is just not who I am anymore.

So, add a 40+ hour work week to doing the podcast, pre-interviews for the podcast and trying to make a decision about whether or not to brave a ride to Syracuse with an impending winter storm…I relinquished control of everything. I let my week run me instead of me running my week.

I ate way too much takeout. I didn’t drink enough water. I neglected my meditation, journaling, gratitude and workout routine. I neglected my nightly routine to get me mentally prepared for sleep. I didn’t show up on social media in an inspirational way at all. Essentially, I fell back into the person I was instead of the person I am and I am becoming.

Why the confessional? Well, I know a lot of people who fall back into old habits. Not because they want to…but because those old habits are as comfortable as those old sweatpants that are full of holes that you still have from your college days. Old habits feel familiar. They are disguised as comfort.

In reality, the old me isn’t comfortable. She hated her life. She was miserable. She didn’t find joy in anything. She tried soooo fucking hard to make things happen that she strangled the life out of her desires and those around her. She didn’t train and prepare for the future, she felt like a victim to her circumstances, a prisoner of her decisions.

It would be easy for me to berate myself for falling back into that person. To feel like shit and wallow in my shit. Drink more wine. Eat more chocolate. Watch more tv. Numb myself.

Can you relate?

But…when I coach people through similar situations, I always tell them to be gentle with themselves. I tell them that today is the first day of the rest of their life. I tell them that this is the no judgment zone. I tell them that the misstep was a mere bump in the road, a story to tell later, something to examine so that we can find the root cause, address it and move forth.

Soooo….why wouldn’t I give myself the same advice?

Today is a cathartic day. I don’t feel bad about how my week went. I can’t change it…all I can do is make different choices. Examine why I reverted into old Deneen not with judgment, but as a student of myself.

I’m entering into a new adventure, and there are hundreds of people who are going to rely on me to show up as who I really am…not as that person I was. Even if that weren’t the case, I would still be sitting here writing the same words, setting the same intention.

You know why?

Because I deserve better. I deserve everything that God has lined up for me. Jesus would’ve died on the cross for one person…so making this change, solely for me, makes perfect sense as well.

This leads me to the point. When you are doing mindset work–which all of what I have described is–you have to do it for you and you alone. You can’t do it so that someone will see the work you’re putting in and make changes to themselves. You can’t do it int he hopes that someone will see the change and give you a high-five. The reality is that when you start to make these changes, people will be uncomfortable. They won’t understand.

They will try to bully you into remaining the same, or into morphing into the version of you that they envision. You’ll lose friends who aren’t aligned with making big changes themselves.

It gets super lonely.

But…as you make these shifts, you’ll also find that you are attracted to and attracting like-minded people. People who want to expand their lives and who are not willing to settle for normal. Our tribe comes in all different shades, sizes and flavors…but we’re out here, waiting for the time that we are destined to meet.

Today, the coach coached herself back into the game.

Let me know your thoughts…have you experienced anything like what I’ve described, or am I alone in this? Drop me a comment and let me know.

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Be true to who you are

In this moment, I’m sitting here in my workout clothes, too late to workout this morning…so I have to workout this evening. I’m mildly annoyed with myself, but if I’m fully honest, I set myself up for this.

You see…I have been going through the motions as of late. I haven’t been fully showing up as myself. I’ve been showing up as a shell of who I am because I feel trapped. I feel trapped by the things that I’ve chosen to do that haven’t aligned with my soul for years…and I feel trapped by not valuing myself enough to walk forward with things that do.

A long time ago, it was drilled into my head that I needed security. I needed a secure job, with secure benefits, a secure 401K. I needed to know that I would be provided for by someone. When it became pretty obvious that I wasn’t on the track for marriage like everyone else in my family, the pressure got more intense to be secure.

Now…I’m not diminishing the value of such things. In the past two weeks I’ve had a physical, a mammogram and blood work, all thanks to my safe job with my safe benefits. I am grateful for these things.

But what you don’t see, in the limelight of social media or blogs, is that I’ve felt like such shit over the past few weeks that I’ve been eating like garbage and drinking more alcohol than I have in months.

Yeah…I just called myself out.

Why have I been doing these things? Well…because I have been operating out of fear instead of faith. I have been allowing people who are supposed to be my supporters be my detractors. I have been waiting for something to happen to me that I’m supposed to make happen for me.

Which leads me to this moment. Instead of working out…which will happen this evening…I am sitting here communicating a message to you…whoever happens upon this blog.

Be fully you. You have a message and a reason that you were placed on earth. If your role is to be a support person in a safe job, then be the best support person that ever worked in that position. One day I’m going to hire a staff of support people to work with me, and I want to attract the best and the brightest.

BUT if you’re meant to be a messenger, someone who does not work within the framework of societal norms, for the love of everything good and pure, START DOING WHAT YOU ARE MEANT TO DO. STOP LIVING LIFE IN THE SAFE LANE. Put yourself out there. Share your message. Stop waiting for life to happen for you and start doing the damn work.

Where should you start? Well…first of all, figure out what you want to do, who you are and how you want to show up in life. Get a journal and visualize the shit out of your life. Dream big.

Do this daily.

Don’t be satisfied with the status quo.

Then…start showing up as that person.

Start making moves. Put yourself out there. Find someone who is doing what you are doing, and hang out with them. If you can’t physically hang out with them, follow their content on social media. Sign up for their courses. Invest in yourself. Start a blog. Show up on social media being the person you are…not the person people think you are.

This week, I’m going to walk us through more of this process. I know we’re halfway through the first month of the year…but that doesn’t mean that the year is wasted. It just means that we were tiptoeing into the year rather than diving head first.

Are you willing to come along with me on this journey?

Let’s gooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Recalculating…Recalculating

Some days I am as focused as a laser beam. Other days I’m like the glitter that you find all over your house weeks after the holidays have passed.

What changes from week to week, day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute?

My mindset.

I am fully in control of how I allow circumstances to affect me. Life doesn’t happen to me, it happens for me. I wholly believe this to be true…which means that there is a lesson for me to learn in my choosing to be scattered and discombobulated over the past few days.

The first lesson I learned is that it is imperative for me to start my day in a routine. Water. Meditation. Devotions. Journal. Workout. Shower. Work. I don’t like being held to a routine…but I need some semblance of order to be successful and to control the controllable, and to react well to those things I can’t control.

The next lesson I learned is that preparation is key. I literally have my journals, pens, devotional in bed with me. (One of the benefits of living alone…lol…and they don’t steal the covers and pillows!) More than physical preparation is mental preparation which actually occurs for me at the end of the day, not the beginning.

I have to learn to accept that there are people in the world who don’t truly care about others. They only care about themselves, and that is their choice. Their self-centered nature doesn’t reflect on me. I have to choose not to try to change those people. I can only be fully me. All of that being said, when people show their true colors, I have to learn to acknowledge it and move forth without allowing it to dull my shine. No one deserves that much power over me or anyone else.

As important as my morning routine is, so is my nightly routine. I have to establish a nightly routine. Every time I get excited and am in a good groove, I self-sabotage. The truth is that no on will die if I don’t return that last email. I won’t self-destruct if I DVR that show that I’m mindlessly viewing. The book won’t disappear if I put it down in the middle of a chapter.

Why am I writing all of this out? Well, we’re 11 days into 2019, and I’ve spend 5 of those days spinning my wheels, accomplishing less than I wanted to. I’m not beating myself up….there’s a lot of time left in 2019, but I also know that I’m not the only one who is already struggling. Let’s learn our lesson now, in January, instead of in June or September when the year has passed us by. Let’s not wait until 2020…let’s regroup and move forth.

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Ending 2018 Strong

2018 was one of the most interesting years that I have ever lived. I thought that 2017 would’ve held that title…but alas, I was wrong.

Let’s take a look at 2018.

Well, I did a lot of traveling. I got to know and love Miami. I got to NYC a few times. Oddly, I didn’t make it to upstate NY, but I’m remedying that in a few weeks when I travel to Syracuse to help with a Fashion Show. Yeah…you read that right.

I became a podcaster. I honestly didn’t see that one coming. At all. It is one of the best things that I’ve been tasked with. I got to know a lot of really cool people that I otherwise wouldn’t have interacted with. I have discovered that I love sharing the stories of people with dreams…and having the opportunity to guide them toward those dreams. To date, I have done 110 podcasts…that’s a lot of people I got to interview. I have learned how to draw someone’s story out of them.

I took a job as an office manager in a dental office. This has proven the hardest thing that I’ve done to date. Why? Well, I’m good at it, and I love patient interaction, but it’s not something that makes my soul sing. I love the interactions that I have with my staff, too. I’ve seen a lot of growth in a few of my staff members, which for me is something that I strive to do whenever I am around people.

Sitting here on December 30, 2018, I don’t recognize myself. In a mostly great way. Last year, I had absolutely no idea what was in store for 2018. I had no idea that I’d see such a tremendous amount of growth.

To what do I credit my growth? Mindset work. I have to admit that I’ve not been as consistent with it in 2018 as I should have been. I’ve invested a good deal of money into my mindset…and despite being inconsistent, I see a huge transformation.

That leads me to why I’m writing this blog.

I realize that I have a message that needs to be shared with the world. I have kept it hidden within me. I can give you a million excuses but I’m no longer available for that bullshit so I shan’t name such things.

Over the past few days, the parable of the talents has been coming to me over and over again. Short version…one servant was given 5 talents; another was given 3; another was given one. The one that had 5 doubled his talents. The one who had three doubled his talents. The one who had one buried it, gave it back. That talent was given to the man who had 10 talents and the one who buried the talent was cast out.

Also, this scripture: To whom much is given, much is expected.

I have been given a lot of talents; I have a lot to offer the world. And out of fear, laziness, feelings of inadequacy, believing what people have told me, I have buried my talents. Don’t be too much. Don’t say too much. Don’t share too much. Essentially, don’t be you because we can’t handle it.

Well…y’all, if you’re reading this and you can’t handle who I am…there’s the unsubscribe button. There’s the unfollow button. There’s the unfriend button. Hit the pike and don’t look back.

I was born for so much more than what I’ve accepted in my life. As were you, if you didn’t follow the instructions in the above paragraph and if you’ve read along this far.

So…here you will find me reminding you of who you are by being who I was meant to be.

If you like being comfortable where you are, you’re going to hate this blog. That is a promise I intend to keep.

So…yeah…I’m sitting here watching the Patriots play the Jets, getting all fired up and ready for 2019 by ending 2018 the way I want to start 2019.

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Christmas reflections

This time of year has been very rough for me. In the past, instead of looking at all that I am blessed with, I have been reminded of what…or more to the point who was missing.

This year, I have to be honest…I fell into a depression again. With all of the mindset work that I’ve done over the past year, it didn’t last quite as long as it usually does. Christmas is just different when you don’t have little kids running around, excited for Santa to arrive.

The other day, I was walking home from work, and I was worshiping as I was enjoying unseasonably warm weather in Philadelphia. I don’t remember what song I heard, but all of a sudden I thought about the birth of Jesus in a completely different way.

Christians celebrate Jesus’ birth…as we should. Were He not born, we wouldn’t have Easter where He paid for our sins on the cross. At Easter, we remember His sacrifice, but do we honor His sacrifice at Christmas?

Let’s unpack this for a moment. God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit know that a sacrifice needs to be made for man, because we are all sinners due to free will. So, Jesus says, “Okay, I’ll go.” He knows that he will have to be crucified. He knows he’ll be betrayed. We all know these things. But have you ever taken a minute to think of how He felt when He made the decision to leave Heaven for 30 years?

HE LEFT HEAVEN FOR 30 YEARS, BY CHOICE, TO BE REJECTED, MOCKED AND MURDERED. 

I mean, some of us can’t go 30 minutes without looking at our cell phones. Jesus left paradise for 30 years to take on your sin.

Seriously. Let that sink in for a minute.

When I really got a hold of that, everything I was sad about vanished. How dare I be sad about stupid commercialism? How dare I not be humbled and gracious?

Let’s fast forward to today. So, as I mentioned above, Christmas is different when you don’t have littles running around, excited about Santa’s arrival. Some of the magic is just missing. Today, though, I saw the magic, passed down to the next generation. I saw my adult niece and nephews…their hearts, their generosity, their excitement at GIVING…and it took everything inside of me not to cry.

If you had a rough Christmas…and I’m not going to say that mine was perfect, because it was far from perfect, especially the last few hours…take a moment to reflect on two things. First, reflect not only on the gift that God gave when He sent Jesus to earth…but reflect on a love that is so deep that it chose to leave heaven for 30 years.

I’ll leave you with this. If you are living a good life, and you sow good seeds, you will then reap rewards. So many times I’ve questioned whether I’ve been a good role model for my niece and nephews–God knows I’ve messed up a LOT in their sight–but today I saw that all of the good things that I’ve sown were seen and replicated.

I am a blessed woman. No one can change that.

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Breaking the fear of success

Back in January/February, I had the opportunity to spend a long weekend in NYC. It was awesome.

But…when I found out the address of the hotel, I felt so unworthy. As I was walking there, I passed over all of the fancy streets that you hear about in every movie about high-end NY. Park Avenue. Madison Avenue. And here was little old Deneen walking these streets, rubbing elbows with the rich.

Yesterday, I arrived at the airport to head on an unexpected adventure to FL, I went to the counter to get my seat assignment. I got asked if I want an aisle or a window, answered, and that was that.

When I looked at my boarding pass, I was in group A. Considering the ticket was purchased less than 24 hours before the flight, I raised my eyebrows, smiled, and thought nothing of it.

When I got on the plane, I got to my seat and thought, wow, this plane has loads of leg room! Turns out, I got put in an upgraded seat at no extra charge. Look at me being all fancy and whatnot.

Why do I tell you these things?

You see, something I struggle with, and I believe one of my biggest obstacles to success, is feeling like I’m worthy of success, of fancy hotels, of nice seats on an airplane with WiFi and leg room.

Growing up, wealthy people were out of reach. They were looked upon with suspicion and scorn…as if they made their money off the hard work of others, not their own grit and determination.

I know entrepreneurs. I identify as one, even though I’ve yet to launch. I see the 18 hour days, the weight of responsibility, the incessant training, learning and coaching. I see the tens of thousands of dollars spent to earn the “money earned on the hard work of others.”

Every time I think I’ve broken through this wall, I trip over bricks I use to rebuild it. I mean…if I could use these bricks to build a wall around the US, we’d have extra secure borders!

Mindset work is a daily necessity…like water, food, sleep. Pencil it into your schedule…see your obstacles and use them as blocks to build your platform instead of to keep you caged in.

The good news is that you never arrive. There’s always work to be done. The bad news is that you never arrive. There’s always work to be done.

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Triggers

Growing up, I always identified as smart. Ok…if I’m honest, that’s what I still identify with. Why? Well, it started with the voices that I allowed to shape my identity. For me, fun always equated with stupid (yes, super judgmental, I know) so I always prefer to be intense over fun.

Something else that I’ve always identified with is being an over-thinker. (I’m a real barrel of fun, right?) This morning, as I was trying desperately to grab 10 minutes of sleep, the word gratitude popped into my head. I visited my BFF Pinterest and found this.

To be fully present, one must practice gratitude. I realized that I was not feeling grateful…at all. A few weeks ago, I was told that I’m living the life that others would die to live. Instead of appreciating that truth, I found myself triggered. (Seriously…why do people put up with me? 🤦‍♀️) I’ve carried that trigger with me, shooting myself and others with it.

So…to recap…I refuse to let loose and have fun because it feels stupid. I overthink. Everything. And I’m ungrateful. I mean…that sleepless night really came in handy.

I decided to lock up the intense, not fun, overthinking, ungrateful Deneen in a dark room with no food or water for the weekend.

Truth be told, I am fun and I do like to have fun. And that doesn’t make me stupid. It makes me a pleasure to be around.

I am actually grateful. Extremely grateful. I appreciate everything that I have and that I’m given/afforded. In moments of high stress, I forget that and honestly, I am so angry and self-loathing that I forget it. (That’s material for another blog…or a series of blogs.)

As for the over-thinking, meditation, journaling and devotions help with that. Like a depressed person whose medicine is working, I stopped taking the necessary precautions…so I have my journal at the ready for the weekend.

Why am I completely oversharing? Because I refuse to only share my highlight reel. I know I’m not the only one who deals with these things. If you’re reading this, and any of this resonates with you, know it’s easily changed.

Instead of rolling around like a pig in its own shit like I’ve been for a couple of weeks, look within. Instead of beating yourself and the ones you love, take a step back and be willing to look the truth in the face and do the work.

Finally…forgive yourself for being an asshole. It happens to the best of us. And ask forgiveness from those to whom you were an asshole.

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Writing is my release. It is the way that I work through what’s raging in my head, in my life in a way that is productive instead of falling prey to self-destruction.

It is something I do for ME. It is the way that I get my story out to the world in an understandable way when the spoken word fails me.

Right now…storms are raging on every side of me. Normally I’d look to some wine, or food, or a dozen other things to numb the anxiety, the angst, the million other emotions that I’m experiencing.

But…with all of the work I’ve done this year, I know that is is not healthy or productive.

Instead of feeling like a victim, which *was* a default for much of my life, I’m taking a step back and figuring out how I invited this chaos, this season in my life.

What is it in me that feels like I deserve to be treated the way I’m allowing myself to be treated? Because now I know that it is my choice.

What is it in me that won’t step up to be a leader? Because that’s my choice.

What is it in me that doesn’t think I’m worth the level of income that I desire? Because I’m choosing to play small.

You see, there is an immense amount of power in personal responsibility.

It is time to practice what I preach. You see, I can’t teach people if I’m not willing to do what needs to be done in my own life.

People are watching you, even if they don’t comment or “like” what they see. People have been watching me start and stop like a broken down VW Beetle for a long time.

A friend told me recently that I’m going to get really hurt. The truth is the season of wallowing in hurt has passed. I spent nearly 43 years there. What a depressing party that was.

Every single thing meant to hold me back is now a stepping stone I’m going to use to build a staircase to the platform I’ve always been meant to take. That is my superpower.

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