Two Takeaways from Bohemian Rhapsody

Have you seen the Bohemian Rhapsody movie yet? If not, I highly recommend seeing it, especially while it’s still in theaters so you can get the big screen and full sound of the music. Writing about a “rockumentary” of Queen and Freddie Mercury might seem off topic for my blog about personal and professional development. I promise Bohemian Rhapsody fits right in.

I saw the movie a couple nights ago. While driving home from the theater, processing what I’d just learned about the life of Freddie Mercury, two themes that are totally in the scope of personal development stood out:

1. The importance of knowing and living your purpose despite people trying to deter you in the beginning, and

2. Loving your true, authentic self.

In Freddie’s case (at least the time frame we see in the film), Freddie knew his gift was music. He was passionate about music, and he knew his purpose was to perform. I won’t spoil any of the movie, so I’ll just say that in one really bleak scene he says, “I’m a performer,” with an air of “of course I’ll perform, sillies, nothing could stop me from performing!” That line struck me. “I’m a performer” is just one little line in this movie, but it is exactly what I write about…knowing your purpose! Know it. Own it. Don’t let anything get in the way of it.

However, the piece that Freddie was missing was accepting and loving himself as he was made. He spent most of his life trying to push down his feelings of not fitting in and numbing his pain with alcohol, drugs, and sex. The movie reveals that once he faced and accepted his truths, he was able to be happy and have genuine relationships with his partner, family, and friends.

I believe very much in the value of living your purpose and loving who your Creator made you to be. Bohemian Rhapsody affected me so strongly because I wasn’t expecting these two foundational personal development tenets to appear in this film about a rock star. I love that these themes were developed in this film and that we can examine them and apply the lessons to our own lives.

If you’ve seen Bohemian Rhapsody, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the film and how these personal development themes came across to you. Thanks for reading!

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Year of Yes

If this is the first time you’ve visited my blog, welcome! And let me catch you up. I LOVE the topic of saying yes to life. (If you haven’t already, please check out my other saying yes related posts such as Say Yes and If Not Now, When?) I also happen to have loved the show Scandal. So, when I discovered that Shonda Rhimes, creator of Scandal, had written a book about saying yes, of course I had to read it!

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person, by Shonda Rhimes, is a different kind of “say yes” book than A Place of Yes, by Bethenny Frankel, which I wrote about in an earlier blog post (A Refresher on Coming From a Place of Yes.) Whereas A Place of Yes is a mix of Bethenny Frankel’s life story and lessons on how to improve your life based on her advice, Year of Yes keeps to the narrative of Shonda Rhimes’ personal story, challenges and victories, as she completed the obligation she made to herself to say yes for one year. (Spoiler alert: She changed so much for the better in that one year that the “year of yes” has been extended indefinitely.)

By committing to saying yes, Rhimes was forced to face fears (such as being front and center instead of behind the scenes, giving speeches and making tv appearances), face her health (such as admitting she pushed down unpleasant emotions and buried them with food in an attempt to numb herself), and face truths (such as finding that people she loved were actually toxic in her life.)

Rhimes also writes some things I LOVE about being a mother and being YOU at the same time. She defends that a mother who brings store-bought treats to the school function and the mother who brings homemade treats to the school function are equals. On page 109, she writes, “Perhaps you think that it is important to your child’s personal growth to bake goods in your home. More power to you, my sister. I will defend your right to home-bake whatever you damn well want to home-bake. But I will take off my earrings and ask someone to hold my purse for the verbal beat-down we will need to engage in if you try to tell me that I must define my motherhood in the same terms as yours.” She continues, “I am not telling you to do it that way. You go bake your ass off. But we all have to acknowledge that our way is not the way.”

Other standout points for me in her book are about how difficult it is for her (and many women) to take a compliment or accept her professional achievements. She writes about how hard it is to accept and own our beauty and greatness. We worry about what others will think. On page 186, she admits, “I am scared people will think I like myself too much.”

We’re taught to be humble and modest. Those are good qualities to possess, but we’ve taken it too far when we diminish our accomplishments and talents and can no longer fathom that a compliment given to us can be true. Rhimes writes that she used to answer interview questions about her success by saying she has just been lucky. Now she answers, “Lucky implies I didn’t do anything. Lucky implies something was given to me. Lucky implies that I was handed something I did not earn, that I did not work hard for. Gentle reader, my you never be lucky. I am not lucky. You know what I am? I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard. Don’t call me lucky. Call me a badass (p.180-181).

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person is not a “how to” book, but rather a “what I learned” book. And the overall takeaway from Year of Yes is how saying yes to your life, getting out of your comfort zone, getting out of your numbness, facing your fears and experiencing the resulting power and freedom after doing so, is how you find your true, authentic self. It’s how you develop into the best version of yourself, which you were always meant to be.

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I’m Unworthy

I was scrolling through the Instagram feed last night when I read a post that said basically if you feel unworthy, you will never succeed.

Ponder that point.

If we are presented with the most amazing opportunity, but we don’t feel like we deserve it or are good enough for it, how can we possibly succeed? If we even accept the opportunity, we are destined to fail. We will believe the negative messages in our heads and self-sabotage our success.

But here’s the thing that really hit me. In response to that Instagram post, a woman wrote, “That’s me. UNWORTHY.” I read that and my heart ached for her. I don’t know this woman, so of course I don’t know what has happened in her life that would make her feel unworthy, but I know for certain that’s a false statement.

I couldn’t just scroll on without responding. I wrote to her that the mind believes whatever we repeatedly tell it; start saying, “I am worthy.”

I kept thinking about that word “unworthy” and how much weight it must add to a person’s mind if that’s really what she believes. Can you imagine the emotional and physical drain that word and belief must create?

Even after I went to bed last night, I kept thinking about it. What would I really want to say if I was face to face with this woman? If I had a chance to maybe impact her thoughts and then her life? I’d say, “You are SO worthy! The fact that you exist makes you worthy. The fact that you were created was no accident. When you were born, there was a plan for your life, even if you don’t know what it is. You have a purpose, and God/the Universe/or whatever higher power you believe in wants you to succeed. Wants you to live a meaningful, abundant life. You are worthy and that higher power wants you to start acting like it.”

Obviously, one little pep talk is not enough to change a person’s deep-seated self-perception. A person who feels unworthy needs at minimum a good coach and support system and (depending on the life events that got the person to this feeling) possibly a licensed therapist to work through previous years of harm and negativity.

But here’s my hope: it’s that just maybe the woman who read that someone out there thinks she IS worthy is enough to give her pause. Maybe someone else echoes my response and she begins to think, “Hey, maybe there’s something to this. Maybe I should…get some help, find a support group, try saying positive affirmation, etc.

And my hope is that if YOU are reading THIS post and feeling unworthy, you realize that YOU are WORTHY.

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Learning to be a Badass

You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life. Yep, that pretty much sums up the book. Ok, not really. But it does set the tone for this awesomely inspiring book by Jen Sincero. It’s inspiring because she doesn’t write, “Hey, I found the key to being successful. Look at my life now;” she actually tells you how she changed her thoughts and behaviors and believes that you can do it too. But you have to really believe that you can change your thoughts and therefore change your life.

Are you familiar with the Law of Attraction? Because You Are a Badass is basically Jen Sincero using her own life events to demonstrate and explain how to use the Law of Attraction to live the life of your dreams. You may have read some other books about the Law of Attraction or positive thinking that have left you ready for a nap, but I guarantee this book is different! I was reading it on a plane and flagging so many pages that I ran out of little sticky flags and had to just start folding pages over to mark them. Sincero’s writing style will get you fired up! As I was reading, I had so many new ideas that I couldn’t write fast enough to keep up! I was so excited to put what I was reading and thinking into action as soon as I stepped off the plane!

If you are new to the Law of Attraction, here’s one of the concepts Sincero explains really well in her book: the frequency or vibration you put out into the universe is what is returned to you. In other words, if you are living at a high frequency, expecting great things to happen for you and seeing the good in everything, then the universe (God, Source Energy, whatever you call your higher power) returns good things to you. If you have a low frequency of expecting nothing to go your way, then the universe returns that negativity to you. “The Universe will match whatever vibration you put out…Which is why when you’re vibrating at a high frequency, awesome things seem to flow to you effortlessly and you seem to stumble over the perfect people and opportunities all the time (and vice versa)” (p. 32).

To be clear, just thinking positive thoughts and expecting good things to happen is not enough. You must also take action to move you into the direction of receiving what you want to attract. “The trick is to have both parts – energy and action – working in unison…Once in a while you may get lucky doing one without the other, but if you can get clear on what you truly want…believe that it is available to you regardless of your present circumstances by staying connected to Source Energy and keeping your frequency high, and take decisive action , you will eventually succeed” (p. 33).

Did you catch that “get very clear on what you truly want” part? What’s your passion or gift that you want to be sharing with the world? “Getting clear about what your unique purpose is can be the difference between living a happy, fulfilled life of abundance, choice, and expansiveness or living in the restrictive veal pen of your own indecision and tired old excuses” (p.71). Sincero goes on to offer some tips on how to get clear on your calling as well.

The Law of Attraction is so dependent on your thoughts and your willingness to believe. Sincero writes on page 95, “You have to change your thinking first, and then the evidence appears. Our big mistake is that we do it the other way around. We demand to see the evidence before we believe it to be true.” You have to believe that you live in an abundant universe and that what you truly want already exists out there and is available to you.

I highly recommend You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life to anyone who is interested in the Law of Attraction, anyone who is ready to change their ways of thinking, and/or anyone who is just tired of doing the same things and (of course) not getting different results. Jen Sincero offers not only stories and examples but also tips, exercises, and resources to apply to your own life.  The last tip of each chapter is a “Love Yourself” tip. I won’t give them all away, but I’ll close with a few examples:

  • p. 62 “Love yourself. Because it’s the Holy Grail of happiness.”
  • p. 120 “Love yourself. Be grateful for all you are and all that you’re becoming.”
  • p. 165 “Love yourself. You’re doing an awesome job.”
  • And of course, p. 244 “Love yourself. You are a badass.”

Already read You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life? What did you think? I’d love to read your comments too!

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A Refresher on Coming From a Place of Yes

Writing a bit of a “throw back Thursday” post today. Sort of. You see, I first read Bethenny Frankel’s book, A Place of Yes: 10 Rules for Getting Everything You Want Out of Life, when it was published in 2011. But lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about and writing about saying yes to life, so I decided to read the book again. I expected to quickly skim the book to get a refresher, but I found that the messages applied in different ways now (7 years later) than the first time I read it, and I wanted to absorb the information in this new light.

So, even though it’s an older book, I still recommend reading it. Bethenny Frankel has a personal story that is interesting to read and I am a huge believer in saying yes! (You can also reference my posts Say Yes and Sorting Out Why to Say “Yes” and Why to Say “No”.) Here are my top takeaways from reading A Place of Yes this time around:

  • “Seek what’s true for you, rather than for the people around you.” From Rule 2: Find Your Truth. “Unless you know what you want, you’ll be making decisions and living your life on somebody else’s terms.”
  • “What’s the next chapter of your life going to be about? Don’t just plan it. Start making it happen even before you’ve figured it all out…Make it happen. Make something happen.” From Rule 3: Act On It. “It all comes down to saying yes. Acting on it – making real things happen in real life – comes from a place of yes.”
  • Everything that “happens to you has the potential to open new doors.” From Rule 5: All Roads Lead to Rome. Everything happens for a reason even though you might not know how it all fits together in your life at this moment. “When you are following your truth…everything you do will eventually get you where you want to go – or someplace even better.”
  • Also from Rule 5: All Roads Lead to Rome. “You should always bet on yourself. People often bet against themselves – don’t do that. Don’t let anyone reduce you or your passion to a number. The horses picked as the favorites hardly ever win the Kentucky Derby. Odds are nothing. Instead, follow your gut, because it knows better than the odds. What if you’re a long shot? If you want something, you have to go for it. If it goes badly, you’ll learn from it. If it goes well, then you win, odds be damned.”

Those are my biggest takeaways this time around, but there is so much more to this book that might relate to you. For example, Bethenny writes about “breaking the chain” and not being the woman her mother was. She writes about lessons she’s taken from her childhood and how her childhood shaped her. She writes about her other relationships too and the lessons she’s learned about how her personal issues impacted those relationships. She also has good sections on “noise” – the chatter in your head that can throw you off your game if you let it, and a chapter on making everything you do your business. In other words, whatever you are doing, do it well. You never know who is watching or what opportunities can open up from something.

Obviously I like this book and see value in reading it (since I read it twice.) I like it and suggest it because, whether you like Bethenny Frankel and care about her story or not, Bethenny puts it all out there. She shares all of her mistakes and not just her victories. A Place of Yes is about learning who you are and owning it. It’s about always moving forward, trying something, and not being complacent about your life or giving up on your dreams. Say yes to your life!

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When Your Job’s Purpose is not Your Purpose

Do you feel fulfilled by your current job? If not, it could be that you are lacking a sense of purpose in the work you’re doing. This is not to say that the work you’re doing is not important to the company, but maybe it doesn’t feel important to you.

Oprah Winfrey said, “Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do.” I love this statement because there is an implied positive future in it. The message is not that you will be stuck in your current position forever. The message is that you are being responsible now, doing what has to be done, and you are taking steps toward your desired future.

So what do you do in the meantime — while you’re taking these steps toward what you want to do? How do you get through every unfulfilling work day until then? You change how you think about your current job. Start with gratitude. When you wake up each morning, think about how grateful you are to have a job or how grateful you are for a special co-worker, or the experience you’re gaining, or anything else you can think of to be grateful for in your current job.

The other thing you can do is create a purpose for your job that makes you feel more fulfilled. For example, if your job’s purpose is data entry but you are sick and tired of data entry and know that this is not your purpose, then find purpose. You can find purpose in your current job or you can find purpose outside of your job. Continuing with the data entry example, if you feel your purpose is teaching, then ask your manager if you can train the new hires in your department. If that’s not an option, fulfill your desire to teach by volunteering at an organization like the Boys and Girls Club or get a part-time job tutoring or teaching a class after work or on the weekends.

Remember that you are so much more than your job title. My oldest son is currently working as a grocery store “bag boy.” While he is still very young, he and I both know that his life’s purpose is not to bag groceries. However, he has found purpose in his job beyond his job title; that purpose is helping others and making their day better. I got to see him in action one afternoon. He was truly enjoying helping people with their groceries and chatting with them. I watched customers drive away with smiles on their faces and watched my son joyfully find the next person to help.

If you are feeling unfulfilled, reflect on what is missing in your work and what will make you feel more fulfilled. Instead of focusing on the negatives, think positively about the actions you can take to become more fulfilled and more closely aligned to your life’s purpose.