Be in Charge!


There are times that it may be difficult to “decide” who you are. While it is simple in concept, sometimes coming up with a sentence or mantra for the moment at hand may not be easy. Or it may even make you realize that you don’t know who you want to be in that situation; you just know that whoever you’re being is not working. In these cases opt to be in charge! One of my favorite Theatre Professors, Dr. Richard Nichols, would tell our sophomore acting class at Penn State University that we should choose to be in charge versus being in control.

Once a play or musical hits opening night and is into its run, the actors are running the ship. Sure directors and stage managers may remind them of this, that, and the other, but there’s no stopping the show once it’s started and it is very much up to the actors to ensure its success.

What often happens is that the cast and production team find what works and rehearse it just that way for weeks. Then, suddenly, new factors are added like lights, costumes, and an audience and the play/musical feels different and the actors therefore respond differently. Now your scene partner’s line of “Hello” ,that was once filled only with contempt, is now filled contempt, jealousy,anger, and rage causing the line to sound different. Or worse your fellow actor has forgotten the line all together and they have gone… dun, dun DUUUUNNNNN…OFF BOOK!

If you are “in charge” during the scene you can flow with the new information that you are receiving from your partner. You can react appropriately and balance the moment. You are flexible to move with the situation as it comes. You can even help guide your fellow actors back on track (if need be) or to be better at their craft if you remain in charge.

If, however, you insist on being “in control” in the scene you will respond the same way that you always have and you will be out of sync with the action. You will seem dim and untalented. Eventually, people will not want to work with you if create a spaces where things can only happen one way.

Starting to see where this philosophy could work in our everyday life? Where can we respond differently to the adversities that we’ve been given?  Many of us are having trouble making our dreams happen, partly, because, we are trying to be in control of them. We want our dreams to pull it together and unravel in the way that we imagined – the way we rehearsed! What do you do when your dream insists on improvising? Stay in charge! You are still focused on your goal, but now you are flexible to the ups, downs, twists, turns, and changes. 

Where else in your life could you respond differently?


Decide Who You Are

Deciding Which Door to Choose

Before you walk into a room decide who you are and let that decision be your guide. Often it’s easy to get wrapped up in the drama of a situation and let your saboteurs rear their ugly heads to inform you about your inevitable failure. Whether it is having a difficult conversation with an employer or relative, giving a huge presentation, or teaching a class of 5 year olds to sing a song, if you decide what kind person that you would like to be in a given situation you will feel successful.

When I was teaching musical theater in a charter school system, I struggled for a while. I had only ever taught students who paid to be in my class and therefore wanted to be there. How was I to teach students K-8 that were assigned to my class, in three different schools, in three different communities??? I started telling myself that, “I am an expert in my field bringing students an education in my profession on their level. My class is enjoyable, meaning that we will have fun as we learn.”  In my mind an expert might be stern, but could laugh and didn’t need to yell. If the kids were in engaged and retaining the material then I was effective.

My decision changed the energy in the room and my students responded to it; I responded to it.  If, for some reason, I started yelling or got frustrated, I would know almost instantly that I was out of sync with who I decided to be. Then it was easier for me to reflect later about what went wrong and how I could avoid it next time.

Recently, I decided to check out a local gym. As I was getting ready to leave my home, my saboteur starting in on me. “You’ve joined gyms before and never stuck with it! You’re wasting money AGAIN! Why is this time going to be any different?” I stopped that ugly voice by deciding this: “I am a healthy person. I am a fit person.”  I went to the gym with my guest pass, got on an exercise bike, and it felt different;  I felt different. I’ve had several gym memberships in various places over the last ten years, but the energy of this gym felt different,  because I decided who I wanted to be in this space.

I admit that I don’t “decide” who I am every day and, perhaps, I should get in the habit of doing so. But on those days where your spirit is low and frustration is high and you need to get things accomplished decide who you are! It will make all the difference.

Absence Makes the Heart Evolve

miss you


This is a special post for my friend Jesus Martinez, Jr.  who lost his aunt this week.  I lost my grandmother, my “MumMum”, shortly after returning to Pittsburgh in 2009.  There is so much of her in me that I felt this incredible emptiness inside that tortured me.  My husband told me that the hole that she left in my heart would force me to evolve as a person.  He was right.  Occasionally, I hear her words and voice come out of my throat.  I can practically see her bony finger poking someone in the chest when he/she is being unkind to me.  And I can feel her around me giving me her strength at every low-point and at every achievement.    So for Jesus’ tia, my husband’s father, my grandmother, and for anyone who has ever lost someone, here is an excerpt from my book, Live in Your Brilliance.

Absence Makes the Heart Evolve

The absence of someone you love is difficult (and that is putting it mildly).  Whether it is a death in the family or a child away at college, it changes the life that you once knew.   You may feel like there is a hole in your heart or world.  However, know that the Universe hates a void.  It will slowly, but surely fill the empty space that you feel.  Your heart will evolve to compensate for the absence of that loved one.  Your personality may change a bit and that’s OK. You may suddenly feel stronger than you ever have before or you may even feel out-of-place and  hunger for a change.   Things that once bothered you will now seem unimportant.  Or there may be certain things that you adamantly refused to put up with any longer.

Whatever the case, today remember fondly those you miss and let them be your new strength.

Deliberate Rest


There is something about American (aka United States) culture that dictates a constant push mentality. I often feel that if I am not busy and stressed out that I am not trying hard enough nor am I going to be successful. Sound familiar?

There is a time and place for stress and pressure. It can give us an extra push in accomplishing a goal, help us focus, develop a new physique, or better yet create diamonds! But often the stress levels that we allow ourselves to experience are unhealthy and out of control. The stress enslaves us and we become monsters unto ourselves and to our families. We beat ourselves up for not achieving this or that, we shut down and avoid activities and people we love, and we are frustrated that the world seems to be telling us how to run our lives.

Now this won’t solve all of your problems, but it is time that you schedule deliberate rest. I don’t mean coming home and being too tired to do anything. I am talking about a planned day of rejuvenation. I did this recently when I was sick, so I didn’t have much choice in the matter, but it completely changed my life.

I decided was going to stay in bed for a few days while I recovered from a cold. I took a hot shower with a big, lovely bar of fancy, almond soap, put on my most comfortable PJs, slipped into a bed with clean linens (thanks to my husband), turned on one of my favorites series on Netflix (The Tudors) as well as a few movies I had been meaning to watch, ate all of my meals picnic style on my bed, napped whenever I pleased, and barely took any phone calls.

I’m learning that there is an art to rest. That it’s not in what you do, but in how you do it. The key is to be present to the moment while you are experiencing it. Activate your senses during these times of rest. I loved the smell and feel of the clean sheets on the bed, the way my food tasted, and the dreams that I had when I napped. Be aware that you are enjoying this time and don’t fret about things that are outside of it. Time with and by yourself makes you realize that there is no point in worrying about things that you cannot immediately put your hands or wrap your mind around. There will be time for all of it and that time is not now. (Furthermore, I wonder if we get in our own way or “block our blessings” by pushing ourselves into a stress lifestyle; we don’t have to do everything by ourselves. We need to recognize and make peace with what is out of our control. More about that at another time.)

I cannot explain how or why, but my few days of planned rest have given me a sense of peace that I have never experienced before and, surprisingly, I have been able to sustain this sense of tranquility. Of course I’ve experienced stressors since then, but I’ve been able to roll with things so much more easily. I even received some extremely disappointing news; I cried for ten minutes, was better able to process what I was feeling, and then I was on to the next thing.

Take a moment to think about what would make you feel relaxed, peaceful, and centered. Schedule a day to experience those activities. You may need to do a little prep work first so that this time is truly enjoyable. Maybe make sure all the dishes are done, pick up your favorite bubble bath, get a bottle of wine, or contact friends and family to let them know that you won’t be answering your phone. This may take some practice; you may find that things that once felt restful no longer fit your new spirit. Throw out some ideas in the comments box! I’d love to add some new ideas to my rest repertoire!




For every goal there will be saboteurs. Sometimes they are people or circumstances, but most often our most dangerous saboteurs stare at us in the mirror every day. Whether we are trying to lose weight, stop smoking, get a new job, or just want to try something new, there is an inner part of us that will purposely get in the way of our goals.

You know better and you want to do better, but you won’t. Why? Perhaps it’s a fear of success. We may not feel that we really deserve the Oscar or to wear a smaller size or the promotion, etc. This may be part of the reason, but it’s not the whole story. While success in its entirety can be intimidating, what I think is completely unnerving to most people is what happens after success. It is the great unknown. And whether we verbalize it or not, our inner saboteur will say things like, “Sure you could lose a hundred pounds, but what if you gain it back? What will people think?” Or “Everyone will expect so much more of you if you get that promotion. What if it’s too much to handle?” Or “What if you reach for that star, miss, and fall flat on your face?” We don’t fear walking the red carpet, we fear having a wardrobe malfunction that people will talk about for years!

You see this a lot in the workplace. Everyone knows that something is wrong or that someone is causing a problem, thus sabotaging the goal. However, no one wants to call out the saboteur! And the reason that is most often given is, “This is what we’ve always done.” They know it’s wrong, but it’s part of the status quo so they don’t believe in changing it. This is how your inner saboteur works; its job is to keep the status quo with its “Hell no, I won’t go” attitude. It lives in our habits. At one time the habit might have served you, but it no longer does and it’s time for it to go!

Think of one goal that you’ve been struggling with and call out your saboteur! What are you doing that is getting in the way of your success? What circumstances bring up this behavior? Think about the details; the saboteur counts on you not paying attention to it. Now, you are ready to do battle. Come up with a counter action to your saboteur’s usual behavior. As a matter of fact come up with 3 counter behaviors. Every time those moments come up, do your best to stop and notice that this is where you usually falter and implement one of your new strategies.

For example: I have struggled with my weight all of my life. And no matter how careful I am about my calorie consumption or what program I followed to the “T”, without fail around 7:30pm, my saboteur nags at me to eat something else. I’m not hungry, but the thought tortures and teases me and I give in. The other night I didn’t give in. Instead I lifted weights, played a video game and texted with a support buddy. I realized that I only needed to win that one time to know that I can win whenever I choose to! I still have a long way to go, but this is a major step towards victory.

I am asking you to choose to win and conquer your saboteurs! Remember, the battle, while not easy, is well worth it! After all, an unchecked saboteur will become a thief of your dreams! Please leave a comment about what saboteurs you’re slaying today.