Put On Your Own Mask First (Yes, You Really Can)

“Nice try,” the counselor said with a kind smile. “But there’s one thing … ” He bent his head to write on my paper, and I frowned. I’d labored over the words of the affirmation, trying hard to get them exactly right. It was one of my first workshops at The Clearing, the residential rehab where I spent a month learning how to heal the underlying core issues that drive substance abuse. (Though I didn’t use drugs, my work as a digital copywriter and some unexpected struggles opened a door for me to participate in the program.) Our participant group ...
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The Risk of NOT Being Busy

When my husband Jonathan and I moved from DC to Alabama five years ago, the biggest culture shock wasn’t the Southern accents, but rather, the less busy pace of life. It was the stunningly slow turns that drivers made into parking lots. It was standing still at a four-way stop because everyone wanted to let everyone else go first. (As a New Jersey native, both of these drove me bananas. Just go already! You could not get away with these shenanigans in New York!) But the biggest change of all was the sudden halt of my own busyness. …
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Ask For What You Want; You Just Might Be Surprised

Do you dare to ask for what you want in life? If we’re honest, a lot of us would answer, Not often. This is totally understandable. After all, asking for what you want brings up all kinds of insecurities and fears. It feels so freaking risky, like middle school dances all over again. We think … Who am I to want this? It’s too big for me. No one has time. They’re too busy. They’ll never say yes. What if they think I’m crazy? (What if I AM crazy?) I’m not good enough. I don’t deserve it. I have to ...
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You Don’t Owe Anyone An Interaction: The TEDx Talk

Here’s one way I could tell this story. A few months ago, I was accepted to TEDxBirmingham’s All Star Salon. I worked hard and delivered my 5-minute talk, You Don’t Owe Anyone An Interaction, on September 13, 2016. In the talk, I addressed concerns over my viral blog post of the same name. I discussed how, in this age of hyper-connectivity, we can still give to others without getting burnt out. Today, I’m thrilled to share the video with you! That’s one version of the truth. But there’s another version that I want to entrust to you. There are a ...
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How To Set Limits Like Liz Gilbert

Dear Liz Gilbert, When someone changes your life, it seems right to say thank you, doesn’t it? I hope so. But right or wrong, I’m a writer, and you of all people know what that means. It means that I can’t help telling the stories that want to be told. So here’s what happened when a group of friends and I showed up for your Big Magic event in Nashville. Not that this will narrow it down, but we were the group that was so excited to see you, clapping and whooping as you took the stage with Ann Patchett. ...
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Wanting to Leave is Enough

Let me guess: it used to be good. That job, that relationship, that volunteer position … whatever it was, it started out fine. But over time, things changed. Or maybe you did. Either way, you’ve got a secret: wanting to leave. …
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Feel the (False) Guilt and Do It Anyway.

You know what’s difficult? Questioning the ‘should dictator’ in your head. Standing up for yourself and your needs. Deciding not to let false guilt boss you around. If you dare to do these things, then you’re my hero. Seriously. It’s hard to be “selfish” enough for your own good. I’m quoting my own judgmental inner voice here. Whenever I consider making positive changes on my own behalf, she screeches, “But isn’t that SELFISH?!” …
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The One Song that Changes Everything

Early in my life, I noticed a pattern. Whenever I’d meet older adults, those in my parents’ demographic, our interactions would follow a predictable course. We’d exchange names, and then I’d look down, both because I was shy and because I knew what was coming next. They would start singing. …
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Set Down The Strings.

I have this counterproductive dance I do with my long-distance loved ones. Here’s how it goes: when I don’t expect to see faraway friends and family anytime soon, I’m pretty good at keeping in touch. I make calls, write cards, and send care packages. But when I do expect to see people soon – say, in the weeks just before a family vacation – I slack off. I don’t call, and I hold back from sharing. My justification for this is that I’m saving up the best discussion topics for in-person interaction. …
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