Obtaining Confidence

venus williams

Last week Venus WIlliams wrote an article in the New York Times about the 3 factors in obtaining confidence.

When you don’t feel good about yourself and your prospects it can be hard to have confidence.

At 53 I haven’t yet gotten what I wanted. My love and literary prospects haven’t panned out yet. Operative word in the last sentence: yet.

Venus Williams is on to something when she eschewed setting goals in favor of asking yourself: “Do I feel good?” This makes perfect sense to me.

The question “Do I feel good?” is relevant to whether you succeed.

The Dark Horse authors whose book I wrote about in the Flourish blog think achieving success doesn’t lead to happiness–it’s the pursuit of fulfillment that makes you happy.

Again, it’s the process not the outcome that counts.

Which ultimately reinforces my perpetual claim that fashion isn’t frivolous. If you feel good, you’re empowered to take on the world.

In terms of the fashion freedom I hinted at in a recent blog entry I don’t think you can feel good in ill-fitting clothes that aren’t becoming on you.

To know your style and flaunt it guarantees you will be a success in whatever you do.

If you don’t feel good–about what you’re wearing; about the people you’re working with; about an aspect of yourself or your life–you have the power to change this.

This is the truth: you can be happy even when you haven’t achieved the goals you set for yourself. Venus Williams is right and she’s a champion: the goals are irrelevant.

In the coming blog entry I’ll talk about living for today, which is the ultimate method for feeling good.

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Downtown Train

green coat

This is the coat that proves my point that fashion isn’t frivolous.

Wherever I go people compliment me on the coat. Even a homeless guy (I kid you not) told me: “That’s an attractive coat.”

It’s from J.Crew and was touted as peacock green. I used a 25 percent off coupon code to buy it.

The coat seems to put others in a good mood when I wear it.

I boarded the downtown train. Clutched the pole near the door because it was standing room only.

After two stops I felt a hand on my sleeve. I turned around thinking it was someone who knew me wanting to say hello.

A guy standing nearby motioned to a newly empty seat. “Thank you.” I sat down.

As soon as I arrived home I installed the Tom Waits song “Downtown Train” in my iTunes library. Waits’ gravelly voice is like no other.

I was touched that a stranger didn’t take the empty seat for himself. Such acts of human kindness restore my faith in the inherent goodness of people.

Is hate learned? I don’t think people are born hating. It comes from seeing others as competition. I talked about the American pie metaphor years ago in this blog: how everyone’s grabbing not just for their fair share, but bigger and bigger slices at the expense of allowing others to have their slices.

The scarcity mindset (Brene Brown wrote about it in one of her books) is alive and well. This mindset is reinforced when citizens are allowed to go hungry. When others are told they must compete to get into elite colleges. When any number of prerequisites are imposed for obtaining success.

There’s a better way. There’s a way out of the fear of not having enough or being enough.

It starts with practicing gratitude. It continues with having compassion.

As we head into the holidays I want to give some insight in this blog that I think can empower readers.

A quote goes like this: gratitude is when what you have is enough.

Especially at this time of year a lot of us can be depressed. My goal is to help readers feel good.

It comes down to slowing down and stopping to smell the American beauties of life.

Seeing the beauty in yourself and others is a way to feel merry and bright. Good people are out there. Kind people are out there.

In the next blog entry I’ll quote a star athlete who riffs on feeling good in the guest column she wrote in the New York Times this week.

 

Shouting to Be Heard

I’m a Visionary who first advocated for recovery over 16 years ago. And I’ll continue to champion the rights of people who historically haven’t had a voice.

In 1988 I shouted to be heard–in my choice of wild clothes and then in my fight to have a better life. This is chronicled in Left of the Dial.

It’s no coincidence that achieving fashion freedom and female power are inextricably linked as drivers of recovery–either from a mental illness or any societal illness.

How you style yourself is an act of love for yourself. Dressing well–in your own inimitable style–is empowering.

What you wear can change the dynamic between you and another person.

I’ll write about this in more detail in the next blog entry.

Sometimes investing in an item of clothing is a way to invest in yourself. It gives you confidence to meet the challenges that arise in your life.

In this holiday season I want to write about the true spirit of our humanity, which must override greed, religion, and political ideology if humans are to survive for another millennium.

My experience simply wearing a new coat attests to the power of kindness.

Becoming Michelle Obama

m obama

I read this book in three days. I had always thought Michelle Obama was a class act. You don’t have to take my word for this though. In her memoir she proves for a fact that she is brilliant.

I’ll quote from the book to encourage readers to go out and buy it.

Obama quotes her husband:

“You may live in the world as it is, but you can still work to create the world as it should be.”

No kidding. That’s what I’ve been trying to do as an Advocate: first when I challenged the mental health staff’s expectations of what they thought I could do – by daring to think I could achieve my goals. Then when I started to advocate for others to dare dream that a better life was possible for them.

Obama then reveals:

“So many of us go through life with our stories hidden, feeling ashamed or afraid when our whole truth doesn’t live up to some established ideal.”

Hence why I’ve always hailed Rite Aid cashiers.

I’ll end here with Obama’s wisdom:

“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.”

We can’t stop believing that progress is possible for ourselves and our nation.

United we stand; divided we fall.

 

 

 

Do What Makes You Happy

The International Women’s Writing Guild used to ask its members in their newsletter: “Who are you?”

Who you are can change as you get older.

Your orientation to life can change post-illness.

Self-growth and even fun can be had in doing new things to shake up the doldrums.

I’m not the same person I was when I was 22. Heck–I’m not the same person I was when I turned 50.

Are any of us the same self we were in our twenties?

That’s the beauty of living life: we can change elements of who we are as well as adopt a new persona outwardly.

I’ll continue in this blog entry to talk about setting goals at mid-life to become happier and healthier.

My new favorite role model is an ordinary mental health peer who ran in and completed the New York City Marathon this month.

Even people in wheelchairs compete in the marathon and cross the finish line.

This gives me incredible hope.

I’m 53. My goal is to run on the treadmill.

To this end I was tested on a treadmill at a Jack Rabbit running shoes store.

I have a neutral foot stance so I bought a pair of blue Brooks shoes with light blue trim.

Though I don’t want to start taking an antidepressant you should not hesitate to pop a pill if you need to do that to feel better.

I will start to report again in the Flourish blog on fitness topics.

In here I want to uplift and inspire you that it’s not ever too late to take up a new hobby or sport at mid-life.

Exercise is rightfully an adjunct mental health treatment.

Why wait? The future is now.

Set a goal. Find a support buddy to help you achieve the goal. Be a support buddy to your goal mate.

You might think: “I’m too old to…”

Nonsense. I went to graduate school with a woman who was in her seventies. No kidding.

I didn’t start lifting weights until I was 46. Before then I hadn’t lifted one 5 pound weight.

So Just Do It:

Take up running, go back to school, remodel your bathroom, find the love of your life.

Do whatever would make you happy.

 

1985

1985 was the year I started my first career as a disc jockey on the FM radio.

This labor of love was chronicled in Left of the Dial.

Every two months I get a few radio show cassette tapes converted to CDs. They can be played back on my SONY boom box.

Not a lot of people have an actual recording of who they were when they were in their twenties.

Listening to my radio shows I’m struck by how chatty I was on-air. Talking to my audience in a hip, upbeat fashion.

The point of this introduction being that you can reclaim yourself after illness strikes.

I was diagnosed when I was 22 years old. That cut my life as I knew it short. In one night in an instant my life was forever altered.

Do you feel like you’re not the same person you were before?

Most likely a breakdown happened because something wasn’t working. You have the chance to heal what’s broken.

You have the ability at any point along the road in your recovery to change an aspect of yourself or your life that you don’t like.

Why wait until you’re 40 or 50 or older?

Though making changes in mid-life is also possible and highly recommended.

For me it started with the decision to wear makeup and dress bolder and yes shout louder.

As with any kind of change a person wants to make I recommend using the tactics outlined in Changeology: A 5-Step Method for Achieving Your Goals and Resolutions.

The technique is a 90-day plan that can work.

I’ll end here with this realization:

You might not be the same person you were before illness settled in.

That’s okay. You’re always a person of worth equal to others in society who don’t have an illness.

It takes courage to set a goal and go after what you want to get.

This doesn’t get easier at mid-life. Yet my hope is that in reading these blog entries you can be empowered to make your own resolutions.

I respect and admire anyone who has the courage to want to change their life for the better.

The only real failure is the failure to try.

As long as you give your goals your best shot, there can be no shame if they don’t work out.

I’m 53. My goal is to continue to champion my vision of Recovery for Everyone, from whatever it is you’re in recovery from.

I’m not going to back down in advancing that getting the right treatment right away results in a better outcome.

What’s your goal? Go for it.

Becoming Who You Are

An enduring quote tells us:

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”

Post-illness you can recover yourself along with your mental health.

My persistent belief at mid-life is that you shouldn’t stop doing new things until you’re carried out on your last day.

Make every day a celebration.

I wanted to talk about the necklace in the photo in the last blog entry. The woman took it out of the counter to show me. The tag read Murano.

“I’ll take it,” I snapped because Murano is a famous glass maker from Venice, Italy.

I had bought a Murano millefiore glass bead necklace on a tour of their factory.

The point of this blog entry being that you should not hesitate to give yourself little perks to feel better.

“The Road to You” should be paved with kindness and compassion.

Be not afraid to act and dress a little bolder to make a statement:

“I’m here. I have breasts. Get over it.”

You owe it to yourself to be happy. By expressing yourself through how you style yourself in clothes you can also make others happy.

I’m the resident Fashionista at the poetry readings.

You can absolutely reclaim the good from your life before illness and discard the rest.

I’ve decided at 53 that I want to channel the time when I was a disc jockey on FM radio in the 1980s.

This reinvention started by wearing the outfit in the photo in the last blog entry.

In the coming blog entry I will talk about in more detail about reclaiming yourself after illness strikes.

I’ll talk about exerting your power to be who you are without fear of reprisal.

Tying this in to setting goals in mid-life to get more of what you want out of life.

You can absolutely use your personal history as the springboard for making changes at mid-life.

It truly is never too late to be what you might have been.