Reflecting back on 2011- Preparing for 2012

As the year comes to an end, people often reflect on what has transpired over the past year. How is my life different from 2010? It is an important question to ask and ponder. Are you getting closer to your goals and dreams? Perhaps even achieving them? Can you measure growth? . If you haven’t done this before, or you haven’t done it so thoroughly, I highly recommend starting the tradition.

When I reflect on the year, I look at the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s important to look at ALL that has transpired. If you only look at the good, then often the bad and the ugly hangs on like dead weight and baggage in the new year. It’s important to let go of any baggage accumulated from this past year – starting fresh in 2012. It’s also important to consider, if we only look at the ugly, then we miss the growth that has occurred. The good stuff is just as important as the ugly stuff.

When you reflect on the questions below, I recommend taking the time to write it down. You can be more thorough and visually see your year on paper.

The Good Stuff – What have you accomplished this year – professionally, personally, financially? What were the pleasant surprises of the year? Did you learn any lessons about yourself? About life? Celebrate this good stuff and share it with loved ones!

The Bad Stuff – What disappointments or regrets did you experience this year? What were some of the not so pleasant surprises? What mistakes did you make that you learned from? Try to bring some compassion and forgiveness to these moments, so you can let go and move on. If there are some lessons to learn from these experiences, be sure to take those with you into 2012.

The Ugly Stuff – What were the moments of 2011 that you would rather forget about altogether? The important part is that you have survived the ugly stuff. Although challenging, I invite you to bring up the memories, the feelings, and judgments, so you can let them go and move on. What’s also important in letting the ugly stuff go is finding the lesson, the gift, in these experiences. While this too can be a struggle, it helps in moving on so that they don’t linger or hold you back in the future.

Reflecting on the good, the bad, and the ugly of 2011 will give you the opportunity to celebrate all your successes, learn the important lessons, and let go of any excess baggage to make 2012 the best year ever!

I am Woman, Hear Me Roar!

“I am woman, hear me roar.” That was my favorite song, when I was four-years-old. I can still see myself sitting in the backseat of my parents’ ’79 Toyota station wagon, I was singing my heart out to Helen Reddy’s “I am woman, hear me roar.” We were probably on our way to some Toastmaster conference in the middle of nowhere California. But that song made the trip worth it. I sang that song as often as I could.

Little did I know at the wise age of four, that it would be the Anthem of my life.

When I was growing up, you could definitely hear me roar. I was a fully expressed little girl: singing, dancing, acting, gymnastics. I was out there!

Then middle school and high school happened. Ugh. Like many other young girls, I chose to be accepted and belong over my self-expression. My roar, my voice was all but silenced at school.

However, there was one place where my voice could not be silenced – on the soccer field. I played soccer for over 20 years and in every position. My most infamous position was the fearless goalie on the high school varsity team. Whether you were on the opposite side of the field, on the sidelines, or in the stands, there was never a doubt, you would be able to hear me.

In college at Lehigh University, my roar grew louder, grew stronger. I primarily used my voice to advocate for others whose voice had been suppressed by society – women, people of color and the LGBT community. However, my voice for myself came out in my physical appearance with my piercings, tattoo, my dad’s personal favorite, the blue hair.

I became a middle school teacher to give my students what I never got – a chance to have their voices be heard. I worked tirelessly to provide those opportunities with a phenomenal partnership with the organization, Challenge Day. And in the process of teaching my students, I reclaimed my own voice at the very spot where it was first silenced.

It has taken several years to regain my raucous roar, but now it is stronger than ever.
Now much of my work as a life coach and motivational speaker is empowering women to reclaim their voices, own their roar.

One of my recent workshops was for female firefighters. In order to survive the male-dominated profession, they often had to quiet their voice. So much of the workshop was spent to give them an opportunity to share where and how they are silenced and give them courage and skills to reclaim their voice and bring it back in the firehouse.

It is these women who deeply inspire me to continue to work to empower women, to empower all people to use their voice, to reclaim their roar.

As Helen Reddy states perfectly:
I am Strong!
I am Invincible!
I am Woman!

Who is willing to join me?