Last night I had the privilege to hear a powerful and inspirational speaker. I had heard her before and it’s because of the profound impact she had on my 2 years ago that this week, as I battle some anxiety, I recognized that I needed to see her again.
Recently I have had a few trips-ups on my journey…such is life when you are like me and trying to build an empire of awesomeness!
That being said the downside to my “don’t stop” lifestyle is that I suffer from some pretty shitty moments of anxiety which manifest in panic attacks. Double edged sword…to relieve the stress I need to slow down and when I slow down I get stressed that I will derail (my ultimate fear) from the habits and routines that I have worked so hard to put in place.
Enter Teresa Woolard (again).
A shining light of positivity and determination and a true do-er after my own heart.
I was aware that she was coming to my area to speak at the Business Women’s Association meeting and I had thought that going would be great…get a little shot in the arm and network a bit…I mean I am trying to launch 3 careers right now so networking is pretty important. At the last-minute I was able to get a babysitter (THANK YOU Nana and Grammy!) and I went hoping that being around strong independent professional women would remind me of what I am capable of…
and did it ever!
While listening to Teresa speak of the big, audacious, hairy goals she set for herself and how she conquered each and every one of them through consistent and persistent determination, I knew I was meant to be there listening to her inspirational message (again). At the end of the evening she called us to action and had us do 3 things:
1 – Write down our own BIG goal,
2 – Figure out the one thing we could do the next day that would start us on the path and
3 – Proclaim it to the world.
I didn’t have a pen to so I opted to use my phone…
swipe… and there on the screen was the last text message conversation I was having with a friend, who is also a strong independent professional woman, so I thought what better way to proclaim it!
I sent her the following text…
I am at this event and we have been asked to write down a few things…this is me saying it out loud… 1 – my goal is to be nationally known as a motivational speaker in 5 years! 2 – the first step I can take tomorrow is to write out my first speech!!! 3 – Proclaim it…here I am!
I didn’t even think about what I was writing, the goal simply flowed easily from my fingertips.
I knew, especially after listening to such an amazing and authentic speaker that I admire, that I am meant to share myself with the world not only in written form (which I loooooove btw) but also through spoken word. I was absolutely energized and practically floating after Teresa asked for people to share their goals with the room. I was the first to jump on stage and share my BIG hairy audacious goal.
I stood there in front of a room full of women I didn’t know and hoped they would understand and support my genuine and heartfelt response.
By the time I got home at 9:30pm (which many of you know is past my bedtime) and I was buzzing!! Literally flying around my house racing though the entire evening in my mind. I knew I wanted to get started on this post to share with all of you my intense joy, however when my husband got home early from work (and the girls were staying at Nana and Grammy’s for a sleepover) I opted for an impromptu date night.
There in the calm of our home, I shared my passionate and energetic thoughts with my loving and supportive partner. We spent hours talking about our goals and our dreams for the future…independent and together. In the glow of the low light thrown by the candles I had lit, he told me that…
he found empowered, passionate and “all business” Dionne to be his favorite version of me.
He said that he felt all of the positive energy I was putting out and that he was so happy to see me so happy…it was the perfect ending to one of the most soul filling days I have had in a very long time.
So did I write my first speech…
I feel really passionate about so many of my stories and there is one in particular that I know my heart needs to share…it has been a long time coming and although it is THE story I need to tell, it was not easy to write.
I am really excited to work through it and share it with all of you, face-to-face very soon!.
Until then here is a short excerpt…
(I realize it is still in it’s “written” form and has yet to be translated to a “speaking” version…
I figured I could sort that out later)
“In the spring of 2015, I was getting ready for surgery ( by getting ready I mean putting it out of my mind and not thinking about it at all), doing my best to handle a mother who was having a break down, a husband in the throes of a personal life crisis and dealing with the anxiety of having just returned to work from a year-long maternity leave, when I made some “critical” errors, resulting in being disciplined (which I am totally not used to).
I realize now that my discipline-worthy actions all stemmed from my lack of confidence returning to work after an entire year, to a new boss and disgruntled employees. My stress manifested in an over-extension and completely inappropriate display of my power. The silver lining is that the discipline I received although deserved and devastating, started me down my much-needed path to recovery (It fucking sucked at the time…recovery is like that not always clear and it takes patience and time). Through it all I was trying to maintain my household, raise 2 littles and somehow not go crazy…big shocker… I went crazy.
The 7 weeks of surgical leave I took that July, could not have come soon enough. I had a hysterectomy (best thing EVER!!! …that’s another story for another day) and so I had some time to read and maybe start to actually think about all of the shit happening in my life, instead of just letting it happen every fucking day. The road to re-discovering my Self began with a book written by a friend, Forrest Willett.
Forrest is a local guy who had suffered a critical brain injury and after he went through years of self-reflection and intense rehabilitation, wrote his story and is now a motivational speaker touring the world speaking with thousands of people, sharing his story of strength and perseverance. He was a graduate of the adult high school that I work at and in May of that year had asked me if he could come and speak with my students. I am so glad I said yes…I was blown away by his integrity and humble approach and thought instantly, (remembered actually), that being a speaker is something I longed to do.
He shared how the Success Principles by Jack Canfield had positively impacted him at a time in his life when he couldn’t read, talk or barely get out of bed. How Jack’s approach to success, for all willing to do the work outside and inside, got him out of bed and back to school. After his talk at my school I bought his book, Baseballs Don’t Bounce, a quick read with a large font (as it was written for people with acquired brain injuries). I devoured it in about 4 hours, (not all in one sitting mind you… remember I have 2 children who were under 3 at the time) and the craziest thing happened…
for the first time in my life (and I was almost 40 at the time), I began to understand my mother and why I thought she was crazy!
For most of my life I had been vaguely aware of the fact that my mom suffered from the effects of 2 catastrophic brain injuries, one when I was about 3, where she was thrown 50 feet through the back window of her car after hitting a telephone pole; and then again during a role over car accident when I was about 24. My entire life, entire life, I thought my mom was a drunk, crazy, prescription drug addict who irritated the shit out of me and brought out the worst in me.
After my parents split up (for many reasons) when I was 17, she slid down hill at a rapid pace. By the time my brother and I had left home a few years later, I considered her to be a full-blown crazy person. I could not maintain a relationship with her because I could not stand her helpless “woe as me attitude” (she was suffering from depression which I had no concept of at the time) and as a result I chose not to speak with her for years.
When I did reconnect with her, it was because I had just had my first daughter and as I was absolutely desperate for “my mom”. Desperate to somehow find the mom I had last seen when I was a kid, engaged, fun, supportive, put together… but sadly all I found was a broken, highly medicated, faded version of someone I once knew.
I continued, albeit VERY, VERY slowly, to re-build a relationship with her. With the help of the narrative thesis that I was writing for my Masters degree and months of much-needed therapy, I started to put away my hopes for a mother-daughter relationship and replaced them with the new possibility of a positive familial friendship.
Four years later, while in the throes of my own anxiety and depression, I found myself reading Forrest’s short book about how to survive a brain injury and I realized that each word written could have been written by my mother. That it was her life story. Every word touched me, slapped me actually, with the hard fact that I was very VERY wrong about my mom…”