Savvy Self-Esteem Lessons via Me



Did you ever have one of those years?  You know, the kind that test you, push you to your limits, make ya question everything and just leave ya feelin’ like you’ve been hit by a bus?  Well, that was my 2012.  As it’s {finally} coming to a close, and I am doing my usual reflect back on the year routine, I have to say- turns out, I am grateful for every single bit of it.

Every. Single. Bit.


As hard as every obstacle has been.  As painful, and scary, and overwhelming that parts of this year have been, when I look back at these times now, I see…. growth.

What I found most interesting, and inspired this post, was rereading something I wrote back in March (back when I thought messing up on my taxes, having our car explode/quit running, and our pug needing emergency surgery was as bad as the year could get- Oh SO naive I was).  I was contacted by one of my favorite bloggers, Jennifer Boykin, and asked to submit my response to the question:

With respect to your Big Dream, how have you learned to move past your fear and just “go for it?”

Here’s what I wrote:

I’ve learned to look forward to the fear.  Sounds a little backwards, I know, but stick with me here.  Fear is actually our body’s way of loving us.  Our body uses fear to alert us of potential danger in an effort to keep us safe, both physically and emotionally.  It’s sort of like having our very own watch guard saying, “Hey, did ya see that iceberg?!” Whether we’re trying to do something new, or we fancy something special (like our Big Dream), fear, or our personal watch guard, will inevitably show up to point out any “icebergs” we may encounter.   Fear does not show up because what we are seeking is dangerous, but because the act of moving out of our comfort zone, into something new, puts our watch guards on high alert.

When we approach fear from this viewpoint, fear looses all power over us, as fear then becomes our mile marker, or a way of detecting if we’ve pushed ourselves to new places.  No fear means, no movement, no risk of loss, and no new terrain.  So, as I go after my “Big Dream” I celebrate the moments I feel fear, I listen what they are saying to me, and I look to them as a compass that I’m on the right track. 

What I realized tonight is that I actually had a year of fear!  2012 pushed me out of my comfort zone, into new terrain, every single chance it got.  It all happened so intensely, so close together, in so many areas of my life that I never had the chance to stop and realize it was fear- I was too busy hanging on for dear life!  So, I never surrendered to it; I couldn’t see it as a compass, or something new, or as growth, and instead I fought it every step of the way.

I share all of this with you in hopes of encouraging you to redefine Self-Esteem, struggle and fear, for yourself. 

Self-Esteem is not some unattainable, illusive, all good and never bad thing that we need to judge ourselves by.  It’s the exact opposite.  Self-Esteem is loving, caring, paying attention to, becoming aware of ourselves, what makes us tick, and what we are experiencing.

I do this for a living.  Literally, I help people navigate the waters of their own fears and build a strong, authentic, congruent core-self daily, and yet this year I was the student.  I needed support, compassion, help, guidance, and new perspectives to get me through this period of time, and change in my life.  Giving myself this– showing myself compassion and listening to what I needed– is the only reason I am here writing this post.  Seeing my growth.  Celebrating the struggles I’ve been through.  Feeling stronger than ever before.

And struggle/fear?  Well, they are just growth disguised.  They are how we know we are growing, changing, moving past our comfort zone.  If we get caught up in judging ourselves for what is happening, or defining these event as our Self-Worth, we miss the lesson, we miss the growth, we fumble the opportunity.

It’s not about what is happening to us- it’s what we choose to call it that determines how it will effect us.

Better things are coming!!!!!



Self-Esteem Lessons via Writer’s Block

Arnett Gill

I have been struggling with a HORRIBLE case of writer’s block. 

Shocking, I know, as I this is my first blog post in 2012. {She says with total sarcasm}  Now I know, and expect, writer’s block to rear it’s ugly head form time to time… it’s part of the gig.  What makes this particular bout of blockage so bizarre is that I’ve been so excited to get back to my poor neglected blog.

I’ve literally been stockpiling inspiration for months!

I have computer files, bookmarks, notebooks packed full of ideas, topics, and stories I want to write about.  Some are awesome blogs I’ve discovered, some are good books I’ve read, some are songs that stirred my soul, and then of course there is Pinterest; oh dear lord, Pinterest, and the millions of ideas that single website sparks.  And yet, when I sit down to write a post…. nothing.  Literally, nothing comes to mind, or seems to makes sense when I write it, or feels authentic to me.

It feels like I have the research, the topics, the inspiration, and yet, no voice.

At first I thought I just hadn’t found the “right” inspiration, so I spent more and more hours collecting more and more motivation.  Then, I thought I must not have created the “right” plan for sharing my info, so I invested my evenings into mapping out, or create a plan of how to share all the thoughts rattling around in my head.  When that didn’t work, I decided to take a break; in hopes that the stress I was putting on myself was keeping the words from flowing.

Finally, I decided to take the stance I’d have if I were one of my clients, and stop judging myself for having writer block, and instead, just get curious about it.

I started asking myself all sorts of curiosity-based questions.  For example…

“Why do I want to blog?”

“What do I enjoy about blogging?”

“Am I blogging for me, or for other people?”

“Why did I start this blog?

As I reacquainted myself with my interests, hopes, desires, and goals for my blog it became easier to be curious about the intense writers block I have been experiencing.  Instead of looking for the “right” thing to fix the stagnation I was feeling, or the “right” way to get unstuck, I became simply curious about the feeling of panic that kept me from being able to write.  My questions transformed into, “Hmmmm, so I know I want to blog, and yet when I try to write a post panic sets in.  That’s interesting, why would panic be showing up for something I want to do?”

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks, the message I must share 10 plus times a day with my clients: panic is showing up because writing a blog post is something I care about.

This is what it means to care about something!

It’s impossible to care about something and not fear loosing it.

Fear, panic, anxiety, worry are all horribly uncomfortable, AND they are all signs that we actually care about something, or someone.  Because these feels are so uncomfortable to experience, it’s easy for us to approach them with dread, judgment and contempt and totally loose sight of why they showed up in the first place.  They do have a message for us but we can’t hear the message when we are only focusing on the pangs they are creating.

Change Your Focus, Change Your Experience

One of my favorite quotes or sentiments is, “energy follows focus.”  Meaning, whatever we focus on we get more of.  When fear, panic, and/or anxiety show their ugly mugs and we pay attention to them, worry about them, try to avoid them, or try to get rid of them, THEY are are our focus, therefore THEY are what we get more of.

More dread. More fear. More Panic. More self-judgement. More anxiety. More self-loathing. More and more of these feelings, that I call bullies, and less and less of….us.

I realized that my writer’s block has been intensified because my focus has been on making these distressing feelings go away, not on what I want to say.  I lost sight of the relationship I have with my blog, and myself, and gave all my focus to these annoying bullies, when I should have just asked them, “Hey, what’s your deal?!”

So, I finally did it.  I finally asked, “What’s your deal?” and wouldn’t you know my first post of 2012 was born out of this simple question.  Moving my focus from the bullies that had plagued me since December to myself, and what I want to say, is all it took to get the gears turning again!

And I gotta say, it marvelous to be back!!!!



Savvy Self-Esteem Lessons From J.K. Rowling


“It’s our choices that show what we really are far more than our abilities do.” ~J.K. Rowling

Last week we celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary! In honor of our 8 years of marriage we had a date night to see the 8th Harry Potter movie. Seemed fitting, no?!

Harry Potter, and J.K. Rowling, have been interests of mine for years.  I’ve always thought J.K.’s story was amazing.  For me, she’s a testament to what hard work, self-compassion, faith and living authentically can accomplish.

Lately, I have been totally re-inspired by J.K. Rowling as a person. Specifically many of her interviews and quotes unrelated to Harry Potter have expanded my view of her.  She, my friends, is a glowing example of what Savvy Self-Esteem looks like!

What is Savvy Self-Esteem?

“It’s important to remember we all have a little magic inside us.”  ~J.K. Rowling

Savvy Self-Esteem is just that, self-esteem know-how. 

Self-Esteem doesn’t magically appear.  Nor is it created by wishing alone.  Self-Esteem comes from getting in there, rolling up our sleeves, and uncovering who we are.  This includes what we can do, how we handle things, what feels congruent for us, what we do have, and what we actually want.

Savvy Self-Esteem is understanding and learning the process, or method, for developing self-esteem.  It’s not focusing on the outcome, or basing our definition on how others define self-worth.  Savvy Self-Esteem is learning how to connect with our core-self and determine if something fits for us.  If it’s congruent for us.  If it’s right for us.

Learning the process, or how-to of this, is what empowers us- it shows us where our unique magic is and how to use it.

What do I mean by the process?  Math is a good example of process.  Ultimately, we find our mathematical brawn from learning how to add, not by memorizing 2 + 2 = 4.  When we learn how to add then it doesn’t matter how the numbers change, we always know how to solve the equation because we know the process.

Savvy Self-Esteem is learning the process for developing and strengthening self-esteem.  When we grasp that there is a process for self-esteem, and begin to understand it, suddenly we know how to handle life’s curve balls AND how to use them to increase our Self-Worth.

Savvy Self-Esteem is learning to celebrate our struggles

“It’s impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case you fail by default.” ~J.K. Rowling

The biggest lesson in Savvy Self-Esteem is learning to celebrate our struggles.

They are how we learn.  They are how we grow.  They would not be happening if we weren’t trying something new.  They are the very definition of being alive and personal growth.

Just like working out, or learning a new skill, we have to push past our comfort zone to see improvement, to see growth.  This is what our struggles are.  Now, are they comfortable? No.  Are they fun? No.  Do we have to spend expended periods of time in them? No. But, we have to face them, in order to get unstuck, move forward, and create self-confidence.

Learning to celebrate our struggles means we learn to see them as “mile markers” or signs that we’ve gone farther than we ever have before.  When we define struggles this way, we are able to look forward to them, and be excited by them, because they equal growth.  Once this mental shift happens, and we embrace the struggle, we, not the struggle, have all the power!

Savvy Self-Esteem is learning to focus on what IS instead of what isn’t

“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” ~J.K. Rowling

I love this quote!  So often when we feel we are at rock bottom it’s because we are focusing on what isn’t there.  What we’ve lost, how we hurt, what’s missing is generally how we define rock bottom.  When we learn to see rock bottom for what it is- a blank slate to rebuild from, self-esteem can’t do anything but grow.

Picture rock bottom as a vacant lot that we want to build a house on.  The first step is examining the lot to figure out create the best plan.  Emotional rock bottom is the same way!  We have to focus on what is there, what do we feel, what do we believe, what do we want in order to rebuild.

I find, rock bottom gets us out of what we”should want” and into what we “actually want” if we let it.  Instead of focusing on “not loosing” or “keeping what we already have” rock bottom allows us to start fresh and figure out what we do want and build a life we actually cherish.

Savvy Self-Esteem is about finding your inner Hermiones not how you look in shorts

“I’ve got two daughters who will have to make their way in this skinny-obsessed world, and it worries me, because I don’t want them to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones; I’d rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny – a thousand things, before ‘thin’. And frankly, I’d rather they didn’t give a gust of stinking chihuahua flatulence whether the woman standing next to them has fleshier knees than they do.  Let my girls be Hermiones, rather than Pansy Parkinsons. Let them never be Stupid Girls.” – J.K. Rowling

My wish for each of you is to discover your inner Hermione.

To discover your process, your magic, what’s congruent for you, and how you are a shining example of Savvy Self-Esteem! You may not know it yet if you’re using old definitions for self-esteem, but if you apply J.K.’s thoughts on self-esteem, and redefine your perspective of self-worth, I bet you’re a much brighter example of Savvy Self-Esteem than you ever imagined…

(And, when your inner Pansy Parkeinson pops up, which is will- remember to embrace it, celebrate it, say to it, “Yeah, I see you.  I know you are here because I am growing, and I’ve gone farther today than I’ve ever gone before.  Thank you for reminding me of this.  Thank you for showing me my growth.”)




Self-Esteem Lessons from Scarlett, my Pug

Walking with Scarlett

It’s a beautiful day in Seattle today!  It makes me hopeful that summer has finally arrived…but I am still keeping my fingers crossed {wink}.

I didn’t want to risk missing the sunshine and so headed out for my daily walk with Scarlett, my black pug, at lunchtime.   Our favorite path was full of other Seattle-ite’s who obviously shared our same thought.  As we walked this familiar and beloved stretch of Queen Anne one of the local businesses had turned on their outdoor fountain for the first time this season.  The unexpected noise that this fountain created stopped Scarlett in her tracks!

The Fountain

She dropped low to the ground in fear and anticipation, hopped several steps backwards, and even let out a tiny little yep of nerves.  I stood there with her for several minutes letting her stare down this new, unexpected, unexplored, possibly dangerous (to a pug) noisemaker, inching closer and closer one paw at a time.  It took several minutes, glances back to me for reassurance, sniffs in the air, and baby steps but eventually she made her way to the dreaded fountain.

Once she got there, she sniffed and checked out every inch of that new noisemaker.  She thoroughly explored it until she was ready to move on.  As we walked away from this fountain, I couldn’t help but notice the new swagger and pep in her step.  Every person we passed after this encounter commented on what a “confident” little pug she was.  She was glowing with pride for conquering her fear and it showed!

New Found Confidence

Did you notice that Scarlett’s confidence didn’t come from not having a struggle to overcome on her walk?  Her swagger came from kicking that fountain’s butt! :-D

This same concept is true for us.  Self-Esteem comes from facing and figuring out how to conquer our obstacles, not from not having obstacles.

The Lesson

If this new fountain hadn’t been on during our walk today, Scarlett would have enjoyed her walk, but she also would have missed out on the pride she felt after conquering this obstacle in her life.  The same is true for us.  We can avoid the “new fountains” in our lives, or wish they never happened, but then we’ll miss out on the feeling of confidence that comes from kicking their butts.  That confidence IS self-esteem.

So, let’s take this lesson from Scarlett the pug, and flip the way we define self-esteem.  Next time we encounter something new, scary, or risky don’t wish we had more self-esteem to tackle it, but tackle it because it will give us more self-esteem!