Being Authentic

Setting boundaries used to be very difficult for me. I hated the thought of someone being angry at me. It was my biggest fear in life to lose all of my friends and be alone in the world, so I avoided anything that might potentially get me ejected from any tribe I was in.

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It was interesting to find that was exactly what happened, in part because I never set boundaries. I did actually lose a ton of people I considered friends. Turns out I was right. Being told “no” did make people angry at me.

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In exchange, I discovered so much more about myself. That I actually did not enjoy most of the things I was doing to please other people. And there were plenty of things that I LOVED doing that some people I knew would absolutely hate.

When you do not know and maintain your personal boundaries, you really aren’t being true to yourself. You are wearing different masks to be whatever anybody and everybody wants you to be. It is truly EXHAUSTING. Not to mention you never really feel comfortable anywhere, even alone.

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Having my greatest fear come true and realizing that I was still breathing and walking among the living was a blessing. It gave me super powers, really. If you survive and learn to function in the face of your fear, you become invincible.

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Later on, as I grew my business, branding became much easier. Being authentic in both my personal and business life was a gift. Getting turned down for a role (or a relationship) is not as painful. What is for me is for me. I’m not out to get EVERY gig. I want to get the gigs that I will be BRILLIANT in. I want to get the roles that line up with my talent, my vibe, my culture, my smile, my freckles, and my enthusiasm. Plus, I don’t have to keep up with so many masks because I am ALWAYS authentically me.

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Start being brave enough to name and maintain your personal boundaries. There may be some pushback at first, but trust me. It’s a sign that boundaries needed to be there in the first place!

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Spring Mid-Winter

I grew up in the great state of New Jersey where there are four very distinct seasons. I assumed seasons were a very common phenomenon, unless you lived in a state with only one permanent season, like California or Arizona.

Then I moved to North Carolina.

Last week, I had the heat in my house pumped up to “sauna” and I bundled up in my heavy parka and gloves if I had to go outside for even a moment.

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Today, it is 77 degrees and sunny and bulbs are starting to peek out from the ground, very confused.

 

This is madness.

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I know this weather is fickle and we still have to get through the rest of February, where we usually get the worst of the worst. Now, I don’t mind if I have to talk to myself in a dark, padded room if I’m on the mic. Today is a day of writing and marketing, though, so there was absolutely no reason for me not to work outside.

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When I was a kid, we used to always beg teachers to let us work outside on the beautiful spring days. It feels a little like I’m playing hooky…but I’m actually working! So far I’ve responded to two inquiry emails, touched base with one of my e-learning clients about the project we are starting this week, and added my profile for an animation casting site.

I’m pretty sure Kid Me would be thrilled with all this and give me a big high five.

 

Mompreneur Life

Over the weekend, I got to be a Soccer Mom and watch my DS do his favorite thing.

Early in the week, I got to be a Gymnastics Mom and watch my DD flip around, which is ONE of her favorite things. (Her favorites change weekly.)

I always say “I get to…” versus “I have to…” It’s a tiny change that has a huge impact.

I do feel it is my privilege to be mom to these two kiddos. It took us a while to find each other.

Plus, my job as voiceover talent allows me to be the best parent I can to them. Yes, I work weird hours and I have to market myself on the daily to get the projects coming in. On the flip-side I don’t have to worry constantly about how I will be able to find adequate child care that I can actually afford just to be able to work. That struggle is ROUGH. Even though they are in school, as a single mom I would still need a nanny or babysitter of some sort to work my old 50-60 hour work week. Someone to drop them off at school or before school. Someone to pick them up afterwards. And feed them dinner. And drive them to their activities and get them back home. Because I also need to take on an extra hour of travel to most places I’m driving locally because of traffic.

These are really hard things for employers to be willing to work with me on.

As every mom knows, it’s always a juggling act. Being single just means I also have to hula-hoop while doing it.

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I do it, though, and we make it work. The kids are starting to notice that there is much less stress in our tiny house. And it is more organized. There is also the added bonus of them actually SEEING me working hard and knowing that they are learning business skills for themselves, too so they are set up for success in the future.

And that is just as satisfying as getting a check for a gig!

MLK Jr Day 2019

Tonight, my kiddos and I went to a yoga class together. I was grateful the teacher was open to having two young people join us. It was their first real exposure to yoga and I’m glad I had the opportunity to share it with them. Both of my kids are athletes and I am very much an artist. It isn’t often that the three of us share in physical activities. It was a lovely treat.

To teach them at an early age how to quiet their minds and listen to their body. To give themselves the freedom to just be without judgment. To appreciate their own bodies and give it a different way to move. To see their mother moving her very real body with zero shames or self-consciousness as we all stretched, flexed, and breathed.

At the end of the session, we all wrote down things we would like to let go of that were no longer serving us and burn them in a fire. Both of them wrote their intentions down and watched the flames swallow them up.

Neither of them wanted to share theirs. I told them mine anyway. I wanted them to know that everyone has something for the fire.

As they were snoozing in the back seat as we drove home, I thought of the whole evening. We went to a class to learn a practice from a different culture, along with a group of different people from various races and ages. There was a married couple along with me, a divorced woman with her two kids. Both of whom were born in Ethiopia and I am blessed to be their mom. And we were all learned to honor the light within ourselves and others, all while seeking to reach our highest good through intentional action.

It was truly my ancestors’ greatest dreams come true.

Inviting a Muse to the Party

Since committing to increasing my social media marketing, I actually created content calendar for myself. I have blog posts planned and dozens of topics to discuss. Everything was going to run so much smoother.

Still, I was resistant to each one because but I was looking for the PERFECT thing to write about.

I do know, as a writer, that is the absolute poorest way to go about getting this done.

The best way to write is to sit down and write. Period. Trust the Muse will show up eventually. In the meantime, start without her. “Her” because I am thinking of the actual Greek Muses. Though, in the musical version of Xanadu, the muses were women played by both men and women. But, I digress, because I can talk about Greek mythology and the various adaptations of Xanadu for hours.

(Which was seriously one of the best times I’ve had onstage! )

I consider this part of the Process portion of my creative plan. You will have better luck if you make an appointment, stick to your goals, and start working on your creative projects than if you wait until inspiration strikes. If you do, it is highly unlikely you will get much done. You have successfully created resistance from no resistance. That’s a pretty good trick…but it won’t create anything.

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(You tried it, tho)

Inspiration is a funny thing. There isn’t really a way to plan out what or how it will come. You can only set up avenues to welcome and encourage it to show up. It’s like a tiny hummingbird that’s actually made of photons of light.

Create avenues for your creativity to show up and then move forward trusting it will. I actually started this blog post with just that process. I just started typing and trusted it will come together.

It always does.

So get to your keyboard. Get to the studio. Put on your shoes and your music. And BEGIN. The Muse might be fashionably late, but she will show up right on time for the “Creative Flow” to kick in.

I said “Good Day!” :-(

I do a lot of marketing for myself. It doesn’t always feel comfortable and, of course, I would rather be behind the mic or onstage. But, like all behind the scenes tasks that help me pay the bills, if I don’t take the time to market myself, then no one knows to hire me. In order to be able to play, I have to market myself.

Recently, on one of the animation Facebook groups I check in on, there was a post about creating characters. Well, I figure that it was a perfect time to bring up my super fun project from a few years ago #100daysofvoiceover (on Instagram and YouTube!) where I completed a challenge to create a new voice character for 100 days. I always like to bring it out whenever I can since it was pretty dope. Plus, there are videos! I received good feedback when I did it, so it seemed like a nice time to call attention to it. It might peak someone’s interest to check it out and say, “Awwww, yeah! This lady has some vocal chops! These characters are great!”

Ok, maybe not quite like that, but still people would be entertained!

Instead, the response back to my post was dismissive. I won’t quote it but it was like what happens when you say you do voiceover and someone says “Oh, I want to do that! Everyone says I have a great voice.”

It hurt my feelings to be honest.

I’ve been working in voiceovers for a few years now. I am also classically trained actress. I take pride in my work and focus on finding ways to improve every day because I am a professional. This is my passion and my job. And while not all of the characters I created are ones I would use on a regular basis, they are available for me to pull out when necessary. In those brief little snippets, it shows I definitely have range and creativity.

I wanted to write back, “I’m not just some walk in off the street!” I wanted to come up with a snarky response that would earn me a reputation as a savage slayer on social media. Someone you do NOT come for unless they send for you.

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I did not.

Why? There was nothing to be gained from defending my value. I already KNOW my value. And the OP not knowing who I am in no way diminishes my worth.

The thing is, the chances are high that at least one person will click the hashtag and listen to my pieces, and then they would know me, too. The people who read my blog and who watch my livestreams and who refer me to their clients and the countless people who already hired me and will hire me in the future…they already know what I am capable of.

Some times in marketing you put yourself out there and you get a big old rejection, either a nice one or a not so nice one. There will be times that people are dismissive, for a lot of different reasons. There will be times that you might deserve it, like not researching a client before reaching out to them or being arrogant instead of confident in your ability to help them with their problems.

It doesn’t mean you need to stop putting yourself out there. If anything, it means get out there more. Do MORE of what you do. Take MORE creative risks. Fail MORE and BIGGER and BETTER. Make it impossible for people to ignore you.

I read once that it takes 118 no’s to get to a yes and 8 actual conversations for a client to actually buy. Don’t waste your energy getting bent out of shape over because of your Ego. Put your rejections in your No Tracker and keep it rolling.

But don’t stop putting yourself out there. That same person that dismissed you yesterday might very well be looking to hire you on their next project tomorrow!

2019 New Year Tips To Get Stuff Done

Happy New Year, friends!

I hope you did something fun, whatever your definition of fun is! I decided at the last minute to go out solo to our local New Year’s Eve party and fireworks. And it did not disappoint!

I dressed up. I ate delicious food. I walked around the city. I danced.

I was still able to get back home at a decent hour to get in my pj’s and snuggle my pups.

 

*2 out of 4 pups visible

I enjoy the energy of this time of year. It’s a time for ending the old and looking forward. For making plans to be the best we can be. Setting out lofty goals that we will more than likely abandon by February.

 

*sad trombone*

 

You know it’s true. It happens every year. I actually stopped creating resolutions ages ago. I just didn’t really feel like putting down a fancy to-do list that was doomed to failure.

Though, I do love a checklist. I really am an over-achiever at heart.

For this year, I realized it’s time to kick up my business a few notches. I also happen to know a thing or two about manifesting. It goes beyond the flowery language of a personal manifesto and theme phrases for the year. To get where you want to be, you need a PLAN.

K, I know, I know, all my fellow creative entrepreneurs just tensed up. “But…I’m creative! I need to be spontaneous! I need things to flooooooww!” I totally get it. Creativity is about flow. But you still also need a plan.

I think of it as a process. It is the framework that runs in the background so you don’t have to constantly think about it.

Let me share with you a few of my tools I use to make things happen.

First…90 Day projects. I select a professional and a personal project to work on that will support my overall year goals that I can do in 90 days. 90 days is actually a perfect amount of time to start and finish a project before I start to lose interest in it. Plus, I do best with a deadline. It keeps me from succumbing to unproductive habits like analysis paralysis and procrastinating.

 

Second…A bullet journal. This is my first year using one and so far, I love it! Finally a way to customize my planner so I can track everything in my schedule the way I need to AND combine it with space to brainstorm. Mine isn’t as decorative as other people’s. Whatever, it gets the job done.

 

Third…The Daily. This one is huge. Breaking down big tasks to something I can do every day. I like that no two days are exactly the same in my work life, but to make progress on big goals, I have to commit to doing smaller things consistently. For example, right now I have a personal goal of having a cleaner house. So, my daily thing is making my bed every day. It is a small thing that supports the big goal and it gives me confidence that I at least did one thing, without having to do a whole lot of planning. All I have to do is NOT break the chain of making my bed every day.

These steps are parts of the process to make it easy for me to maintain progress without taking too much of my mental energy OR encroaching on my creative time. What are some things in your process you establish to keep things moving?

Rest, Relaxation, and Rebel Shine

I took a few days off. 🙂
It was a pretty weird at first feeling taking it easy instead of hitting everything at my usual “BOSS LADY, GET IT DONE!” pace. I realized it was so needed though!
What did I do these past few days? There was the usual meditation, soul searching about my life and career, and strategizing about next steps. Like I do.
I also fell in love. I’m pretty stoked about that one.
We both love donuts. And, obviously, the donuts love us back.
I also celebrated my friend’s upcoming nuptials with a fierce and fabulous group of ladies in Savannah.
There was a lot of this…
And this…
And this…
(Can I just say I am still over the moon digging these things?! I might make a series of online videos around them.)
And crazy amounts of laughter and shenanigans. It was positively magical. I’m pretty sure we manifested some amazing stuff just by being together.
I also did a fun voiceover project with some rad people to raise money for a great cause. We presented The Seussification of Romeo and Juliet to support the Ryan Seacrest Foundation.
Ryan was awfully quiet during the whole thing. He might be an introvert…
Plus, I worked on something that will help other creative professionals, too!
Are you ready to embrace your inner rebel and rise above from whatever is holding you back, so you can unleash your dreams and ideas and create your best year, every year?
I’m so excited to partner with Petra Monaco and 24 other successful women in the upcoming event The 2018 Rebel Shine Summit where it’s time to rise above and be the rebel in your own life http://rebelshinesummit.com/ieshanyree
If you think you are ‘missing’ something to finally be the person you know you already are – this event will show you how to tap into your own sacred being!
Get your free pass here! http://rebelshinesummit.com/ieshanyree

The Other Side of Happy

I’m a really upbeat person. You probably picked up on that with a quick glance at my branding.
My natural state of being is joy. If you hang out with me long enough, there will be laughter. And not those tiny little giggles, either. I mean big, juicy raucous laughter that makes your whole body feel good.
Here’s the thing, though. I’m also a human being. That fact still surprises people for some reason. For real, the people that like me are shocked to know that there are times when I am not happy. And the people that are aggravated by me are also shocked to know that my positive nature is truly genuine and there are times that I am not happy.
But, none the less, I am human all the same with a full, healthy range of emotions that come with that existence. I am grouchy in the morning. I am sad when I’m stood up by a potential suitor. I am angry when my kids or I are treated unjustly. I cry when I’m in physical pain. I despair when money is tight and I’m not sure how to care for all the creatures in this tiny house.
And none of that makes me any less of a positive person. It makes me a person. My “secret sauce” for joy is how I choose to take action on my emotions. Sometimes that choice will be to take a few moments in the morning to meditate and pray before I even get out of bed. Sometimes I choose to take a deep breath, take myself out on a date, and feel sorry for any dude that misses out on spending quality time with me. Sometimes I choose to hug my kiddos and take my aggression out on a punching bag in the gym, getting stronger in the process. Sometimes I wail into my pillow and ask for help when it gets too much. Sometimes I stubbornly keep putting myself and my work out into the world and fiercely focus on a glorious, successful career where any financial struggles are just memories I share while being interviewed before my next amazing project.
I heard once that every “overnight” success takes about 10 years to create. Don’t think for a moment that the shining, happy people you meet don’t understand what it feels like to have tough times. And don’t think that just because you are in one of those “less than positive” stretches, that you will be stuck there from here on out.
You are a whole and glorious person living your fabulous life. Even the messy parts.

Dark before the Dawn

“I’ve interviewed and portrayed people who’ve withstood some of the ugliest things life can throw at you, but the one quality all of them seem to share is an ability to maintain hope for a brighter morning, even during our darkest nights.” – Oprah Winfrey, Cecil B. DeMille award for lifetime achievement
You can’t have a story without conflict. Why? Because without conflict, there is nothing to push against. There can be no growth. There can be no transformation.
But conflict is ugly and uncomfortable. And human beings tend to gravitate towards that which is comfortable. We pick staying to a safe path over venturing into the unknown. Sticking with the status quo, because “that’s just the way it is.” Quietly endure because “why rock the boat?”
The thing is, if anything that is beneath our ability to be the amazing creatures we are meant to be has any chance of changing, there has to be some conflict. Messy, uncomfortable conflict.
What bridges that gap, though? If we prefer to be comfortable but know we will need to go through so much agony, what keeps us moving forward?
Hope.
That intangible thing we possess that motivates us to keep holding on through the pain and conflict to get to a much better place. A place that we KNOW in our heart of hearts that we deserve.
If you’ve not yet watched Oprah’s AMAZING speech, I encourage you to listen to it. No matter what you are going through, transformation is possible.