find your voice

Unpacking My Social Anxiety

Photo courtesy www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

 

Until recently, I couldn’t think about going to a party or even to the grocery store without breaking into a cold sweat. My heart raced, my mouth would go dry and I got tunnel vision.

 

It didn’t matter whether I was meeting family/friends or a roomful of strangers.

 

I remember using the excuse that I wasn’t feeling well because the thought scared me to death.

 

“All eyes are going to be on what I’m wearing.”

“They’ll think I’m fat.”

“What if I say the wrong thing and they think I’m stupid.”

“I might offend someone and then they’ll yell at me or be mad at me.”

 

These are just a few of the incessant thoughts that caused me to become shy, withdrawn and miserable.

 

Even if I did end up going to a party, I would lie in bed playing back the evening in my head so that I could make sure that I didn’t say or do anything stupid. If I thought that I did, I would replay the scenario, beat myself up and then figure out how not to make that stupid mistake again.

 

It took boatload of energy to get myself psyched up not only to walk in the door but also to make small talk. A glass or two of wine helped but it felt wrong using it as a crutch.

 

I’ve lived with this anxiety since I was a teenager. Fortunately,therapy got me on the road to recovery in my 30’s and coaching picked up where that left off.

 

Once I got a handle on it, I began to unpack my anxiety and discovered its lies:

1. “Everyone is judging me!”

Not true. My anxiety was ALL about MY judgments. I made up stories in my head that “everyone” was judging me, and, while some may have been, it started with me not accepting myself.

2. “If I don’t conform to what everyone wants then no one will like me.”

My anxiety was a by-product of people-pleasing. I became adept at morphing myself into who I THOUGHT the person standing in front of me wanted me to be. The thought of walking into a room full of people was overwhelming simply because I knew I couldn’t be everything to everyone in the room.

3. “I can’t make a mistake because then everyone will see that I’m not perfect and a fraud.”

Hello Perfectionism! It made me nauseous to even think about being wrong. The embarrassment of being wrong or making a mistake was enough to make me want to run and hide, and that’s what I did for the majority of my life. If I wasn’t around people then there isn’t the possibility of screwing up.

What I realize now is that my survival mechanism or ego had me convinced that I needed to be perfect to survive and be worthy of love.

4. “Sally’s got it all together, I’m such a loser next to her but at least I’m not a hot mess like Matilda.”

Welcome to my comparison thoughts. These are just another form of judgment. It seems like they would be ok, at least the ones that make us feel good. I’m better than Matilda so I have that to feel good about.

In the end, all of this comparison creates competition and somebody has to lose. It is a constant up and down of emotions as we judge others as better/worse than us. It is a game we cannot win because the rules keep on changing.

 

What an exhausting way to live!
I don’t like to think of myself as selfish but look at the thoughts: they’re all about me!
My anxiety had nothing to do with anyone but ME. Primarily, the thoughts and judgments in my head.
Rather than focusing and connecting with the people in the room, my focus was on me and how I look.
I realized that I’m not alone. Most people are so focused on how they’re being perceived that they don’t even think about me.
I finally learned that I am not going to die if I’m not perfect. I don’t have to be anyone except who I am and I really like who I am. I know myself to be someone who will own my mistakes and do my best to make it right when I mess up. I now practice honoring myself as well as the people around me.

 

My confidence began to rise as I stopped comparing and beating myself up. I practiced trusting me.

 

Does this resonate with you? What can you do?

~ Notice your thoughts. What are you saying to yourself? Meditation is great for helping to put space between you and your thoughts.
~ Question your thoughts. Is it true that Sophie gave you a dirty look across the room so she must be mad at you? Maybe her eyes were bothering her, maybe she had a stomach ache, you don’t know. Stop making things up and stick with the facts.
~ Give yourself permission to start focusing on you. What do you like? What do you want? Separate yourself from the need to make everyone else happy.
~ Have fun! Release the pressure and be who you are. Let life be joyful and begin to flow.

A great resource is Byron Katie’s The Work. On her website you can view videos of Katie working with people to question the thoughts in their head. She also has worksheets that you can download for free to help you through the process.

 

If you find that you need something more, consider working with a therapist or a trained coach. If you’re not sure which is right for you, contact me and I’d be happy to help you figure out what’s best for you.

 

I wish I had a magic wand so I could quiet all of those negative thoughts, judgments and fears but I don’t. You’ll have to do the work yourself.

 

I promise you, it’s worth it!

 

Dealing With My Inner Critic

Inner critic

Thanks to all those who have shared with me either through Facebook or in person, what has come up for you as a result of me sharing my weight loss journey.

I’m grateful for the honesty and for the opportunity to know that we are in this together.

 

Here’s my update:

 

-I have been consistent with my exercise, running or walking 2.5 to 4 miles at least every other day.
-I have drastically reduced my consumption of sugar, flour and meat.
-I have increased the number of vegetables and fruit I eat.
-I am down 9 lbs.

 

I even went to NYC for a few days and was able to come home without having gained any weight.

 

I’m glad I’m writing all of this down because the voice in my head has been very active lately and this is how it has been going:

 

Me: “I lost 9 lbs!”
Voice in my head: “You need to cut down even more so you will lose more, faster. Stop eating sweets and snacks all together, you shouldn’t be eating any of that stuff anyway if you’re really serious about losing weight.”
Me: “But I’m ok with how it’s going…”
VIMH: “You’re not doing good enough! Look at those people on Facebook who are posting pictures of all the weight they’ve lost. And you’ve only lost a measly 9 lbs.! You have at least another 15 lbs. to lose! You might as well give up now, you know you don’t have the willpower and besides wouldn’t some peanut M & M’s taste real good right now, but you can’t have them because you need to lose weight…”

 

And on and on and on!

Photo courtesy www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

Photo courtesy www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

 

Needless to say these thoughts caused a downward spiral as I let them take control.

 

This felt so familiar.

 

I could feel that sense of wanting to give up, feeling helpless and hopeless, the feeling that I can never be happy eating food that was good for me and that I will never lose AND keep this weight off.

 

The next step of this pattern is letting myself have cake to celebrate a birthday, after all it was just one small piece. Then it’s having ice cream 3 nights in a row just because I wanted it.

 

Suddenly I felt terrible. And I don’t just mean psychologically, I mean physically. I wasn’t sleeping well. I felt bloated.

 

I felt old. I know I’m getting older but I have never felt old.

 

Suddenly I realized I had lost track of why I wanted to lose weight in the first place.

 

After reading Danielle LaPorte’s book, The Desire Map a couple of years ago, I started setting my goals with the idea that it is not the goal I’m actually after, it’s the feeling I will have once I reach that goal.

Posted on my office wall, my vision, how I will feel when I achieve this vision and what I can do to feel those feelings NOW!

Posted on my office wall: my vision, how I will feel when I achieve this vision and what I can do to feel those feelings NOW!

 

Since then, I have not only reached my goals but I have actually enjoyed getting there.

 

The reason I want to lose weight is because I want to FEEL better! I want to feel confident and empowered.

 

I noticed that when I eat good healthy foods that is exactly how I feel, confident and empowered both physically and psychologically.

 

When I binge on cookies, candy, chips and cake, I feel better, temporarily. Then comes a wave of regret and the after effects of all those carbs which includes mental fogginess, bloating and the path to diabetes.

 

I’m eating healthy whole foods again. I have more mental clarity and feel happier.

 

I also like going to bed just a little bit hungry. I sleep better and seem to dream more, which I love!

 

A lower number on the scale is just a result. The real reason I want to lose weight is to feel happier, more powerful and confident. And I can achieve that right now just by the food choices I make.

 

How will you feel when you reach your ideal weight? What can you do right now to connect to that feeling?

 

Beginning to breakthrough my fear of self-promotion at the Women Of Focus Trade Show, March, 2016

Beginning to breakthrough my fear of self-promotion at the Women Of Focus Trade Show, March, 2016

Without my precious food to numb me,  I recently came face to face with the

thoughts and beliefs that could keep my business stuck.

Specifically, my thoughts and judgments about marketing, selling and

promoting myself and my business.

I resist promoting myself because I’m afraid I’ll be

perceived as arrogant, manipulative or self-serving.

However, if I don’t promote myself then I will either not be in

business very long or I’ll only reach a small number of people.

“… pay attention when you want

to eat a box of Oreos,

drink a bottle of wine or

whatever your drug of choice is.”

What can I (we) do with these thoughts and beliefs rather

than divert them with food, wine or keeping crazy busy?

I chose to look deeper rather than going for the distraction and found

there was a message for me.

Below are 4 steps you can use when you’re stuck:

1. Notice your negative or limiting thoughts and beliefs.

If it’s hard to recognize your thoughts, check in with how you’re

feeling then back track to find the thought that created it.

Your thoughts create how you feel.

Use your feelings as signposts to point to what’s going on

in your head. And definitely pay attention when you want to eat

a box of Oreos, drink a bottle of wine or whatever your drug of choice is.

My limiting beliefs were:

“I can’t promote myself or my business because people will see

me as arrogant, manipulative or pushy. They’ll get angry and not want

to have anything to do with me.”

“When we carry negative thoughts, fear

and limiting beliefs from childhood,

we aren’t able to be who we truly are.”

2. Once you realize your negative thoughts or limiting beliefs, ask yourself,
“Who is this coming from?” and “What is the message it has for me?”

My beliefs came from this scared little girl inside of me. A little girl who,

when she dared to be who she was, was often met with disdain and the question,

“Who do you think you are?” and with statements like “You’re stupid,” 

“You’re ugly,” or “You’re a girl so you don’t count.”

My inner little girl came away feeling like the world was against her

and had to “be a good girl” and not standout in any way. This was

the part of me that was afraid to shine because it had been

met with pain in the past.

The message she had for me, was that she wanted to be accepted

for who she was and she wanted to come out and play.

3. Ask yourself, “What do I need?”

When we carry negative thoughts, fear and limiting beliefs

from childhood, we aren’t able to be who we truly are.

There was a part of me that wanted to come out and play but

every time it tried, I pushed it down by telling myself not

to get “too big for my britches.” 

I wound up feeling like I betrayed myself.

What I need in these moments, is a shot of reassurance

along with a large dose of self-love and non-judgment.

I need to be more worried about taking care of myself and less worried

about what others think.

Photo credit: H.Armstrong Roberts/Getty Images

Photo credit: H.Armstrong Roberts/Getty Images

4. Give yourself what you need.

It’s not enough to ask yourself what you need. You actually have to

give yourself permission to have it.

That little girl is part of me. It’s the part that wants to have fun and play.

It’s also the part that has been trying to protect me from being hurt

AND the part that has been keeping me stuck.

I need to give this part of me love, acceptance and reassurance

that we can handle anything life throws at us.

Then trust myself, relax and enjoy the ride!

Lather, rinse, repeat! This is a constant process of bumping up against

our fear, negative thoughts and limiting beliefs.

We are never finished.

When I choose not to numb or distract myself with food,

I open myself up

to fun, joy and endless possibilities.

What negative thoughts, fear and limiting beliefs are ready for you to transform?

 

Follow Your Bliss & Enjoy The Journey

Me following my bliss in Rome 2007

Following my bliss in Rome 2007

I recently received a Facebook friend request from a woman I had met through networking when I first became a coach. I hadn’t spoken to her in a couple of years and I was excited to connect.

The next thought that ran through my head was to invite her to like my business Facebook page. Suddenly I felt a wave of embarrassment mixed with shame and guilt. You see, I am not real consistent with posting on Facebook, particularly on my business page.

I go in waves of posting memes, quotes, thoughts etc.on Facebook and Twitter because the “experts” say that my business needs to have a social media presence.  I’m sure it’s true because people a lot smarter than me say it’s true.

I believe what I offer makes a difference in people’s lives and the reason I’m posting is because I want to help or inspire someone.

But frankly, I suck at it. And to be perfectly honest, there are times when I hate it. I feel disingenuous when I’m simply trying to find something to post just to say I posted.

This year my intention is to “follow my bliss and enjoy the journey.”

“Follow your bliss” is a shorter version of the quote by Joseph Campbell “follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”

According to the Joseph Campbell Foundation website:

“Joseph Campbell was a life-long student and teacher of the human spirit and mythology… individuals who searched within themselves and their societies to identify the need about which they were passionate. He called this burning need that they sought to fulfill their bliss..”

Coaching is my bliss. I love being a space of trust, authenticity and acceptance not only with my clients but with my family, friends, even strangers.

I try to bring that to my relationship with myself although that has proven to be quite a challenge especially when it comes to my weight and food. (More on that on that at a later time)

The definition of bliss is perfect happiness; great joy: a state of spiritual blessedness, typically reached after death.

Bliss in Sardinia

Sardinia 2006

My intention for 2016 of “follow my bliss and enjoy the journey” was born from wanting to experience great joy now. Not when my business was successful, the kids were happy and my husband and I were retired and traveling the world or after I die.

I’ve spent too many years chasing my bliss and being miserable.

I’m tired of receiving emails touting the formula that will bring a million dollars.  I have spent way too much time and money on plans, strategies and coaches who promised me if I did what they said to do, I would make tons of money.

None of these fit with my values and integrity and all I ended up with was regret and an even emptier bank account.

Well, not true. I also got a valuable lesson:  Listen to and do what feels right for me. Do not rely on someone or something outside of me for answers.

Don’t be surprised if you see intermittent posts from me on Facebook, Twitter or even this blog. And know that when I do post it will be because I’m following my bliss and enjoying every step!

What is your bliss? Let me know, post a comment and let’s keep in touch!

Changing The World One Step At A Time

 

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This week I am inspired by women who are following their bliss and making a real difference in the world and am grateful to be a contributor to the Fall Issue of Get Real magazine​.

Changing The World One Step At A Time, tells my experience of the first time I went into the Monroe County Jail as a volunteer with the Step By Step program. It is not only a tribute to the organization but to the work of Sally Kohler, the workshop facilitator, who tirelessly works to lift up women who have fallen.

Click this link Get Real Magazine Fall 2015 and download to read my article and be inspired by all the amazing articles and photos.

Thank you to Brenda Steffon​, Melissa Pletscher-Nizinsky and Julia Kracke for creating such a beautiful, inspiring magazine. You and your staff have created excellence on these pages and I am honored to be a small part.

Who are the women that inspire you? Now go and let them know the difference they have made in your life. #liveinspired

 

Women Inspiring Change Retreat

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*THIS RETREAT IS SOLD OUT! IF YOU DIDN’T MAKE IT TO THIS ONE, CHECK BACK FOR WHEN THE NEXT REGISTRATION OPENS UP.*

Join us on August 23rd, for this full-day retreat designed to help you learn how to live your best life! We will explore ways to shift our common belief that taking care of ourselves is selfish. We will uncover what is truly in the way of you making positive changes in your life.
Come and learn how to take good care of your greatest asset, you.

Located on 135-acres, the beautiful and serene Chapin Mill Retreat Center will thrill your senses and ignite your imagination.

During this day long retreat, you will:

  • be led through exercises designed to uncover what’s keeping you from making lasting positive change
  • discover who you really are and how to use this to create transformative change
  • learn and practice yoga asana (movement) appropriate for everybody, and pranayama (intentional breath work) in order to manage stress and harness optimal energy
  • explore stillness and deep relaxation to refresh and revitalize yourself
  • uncover what foods are keeping you addicted and hijacking your weight loss efforts
  • get tips on how improving your digestion can lead to weight loss and increased energy
  • learn how to make smoothies and juices that taste great, are easy to make and can easily be incorporated into your daily routine

Imagine a safe and welcoming place where you can get your questions answered and learn simple, effective ways to create a body and life you will love! You will also be served a delicious and nutritious breakfast, lunch and filling snacks throughout the day. Enjoy superfood smoothies (demos and recipes just for you), delightful salads, yummy detox juices, homemade almond cherry bliss protein bars and other great snacks to keep you fueled all day.
Our Retreat facilitators are:
Linda Heeler, Professional Certified Coach, Meet Linda
Christine Porter, Certified Health + Wellness Coach, Meet Christine
Mary Aman, Master Yoga Instructor, Meet Mary
These women will bring their talents and expertise to guide you as you begin your journey toward positive change in your life.
Cost for this day long retreat is $247
Registration closes on August 18th.
To register, go to PeaceAndPear.com

Understanding Your Money Mindset

Its Raining Money

Have you ever thought about your relationship to money? I say relationship because we all have a story about money.

I grew up thinking we were poor. There never seemed to be enough money for what I wanted.

Now mind you, I never went without food, decent clothing, anything really. But as a kid, I wanted certain things, as all kids do.

There never seemed to be enough when I wanted things like candy or a toy. I didn’t get an allowance so I would ask my parents for money when I wanted something. The answer was sometimes yes, but most of the time, no. Sounds normal, right?

But as a kid, I made up the story that I couldn’t have those things because we were poor. And my mind took it one step further down the victim trail to, “I can’t have what I want but my brothers always get what they want.”

What my mind failed to realize is that my brothers are 5 and 6 years older than me. They worked on a local farm or at the 5 & 10 store and earned their own money so they could buy what they wanted.

But my mind was determined to hold onto this scarcity mentality.

Fast forward to adulthood. I perpetuated this story by putting all of my families needs above my own. The kids needed new school clothes, ok.  My husband wanted to go on his annual fishing trip, of course.

But when I even had the thought of spending any money on myself, my mind immediately went to, “No! You can’t have what you want! Remember, there isn’t enough for you!”

So I became resentful.

When I had enough of my resentment, I would just go and buy what I wanted. Then, guilt set in.

I felt so much guilt from spending anything on myself, I would sometimes not tell my husband what I bought. I thought he certainly wouldn’t understand spending $40 on a tube of face cream.

That left me feeling dishonest and like I was stealing from my family.

I knew I needed to break this pattern of behavior before I could really welcome any amount of abundance into my life.

My best friend, a former financial broker, suggested that in order to break through this, I simply needed some mad money.  A certain amount of money each week, I could call my own.

My mad money was mine to do with what I wanted. I could burn it, give it away, buy a bunch of little things or save it for something bigger.

This made so much sense to me and immediately lifted a weight off my shoulders. I know this sounds crazy but this “allowance,” so to speak, opened up possibilities for me to not only get what I wanted but to give up the destructive pattern of guilt and resentment.

By releasing the emotional tie it had on me, I no longer let money control my life.

Now I’m rewriting my money story from a perspective of abundance and having all of my needs met. Even if it’s candy!

What is your “money mindset?”  What would you like your relationship to money to be? What is something you can do today to begin a shift toward your new “money mindset?”

Be Selfish!

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How many times have you said, I’ll take care of myself after I make sure everyone else is taken care of? Sounds familiar, right?

Problem is, there usually isn’t anything left and we end up worn out and stressed out.

If you’ve done any flying, you know that the flight attendants tell those who are traveling with children, that in case of loss of pressure, oxygen masks will fall from the ceiling. We are instructed to put on our oxygen mask first, then help the children (and others) with theirs.

They know that we will likely run out of oxygen before we can help too many if we don’t take care of ourselves first.

It is selfish NOT to put on our mask first. We aren’t any good to anyone if we are lying passed out on the floor.

This brings up a point I hear a lot from women. They feel “selfish” if they spend any time or money on themselves.

The word selfish means “lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.”

I assert that it is selfish for us to NOT take care of ourselves.

But what does being selfish look like? We have to trust that we will not go off the rails, say the heck with everyone else and end up “lacking consideration for others.”

I am not saying that you should put ALL of your needs in front of others. I am saying that there needs to be a mix.

For example, I knew a woman who could not afford to hire a sitter so she could go for a run or out to lunch with friends. So she scheduled time for herself  when her husband could watch the kids. She also found another woman who was in the same boat and they took turns watching each others kids so they could each have some time to themselves.

We need to take the stigma out of taking care of ourselves not only for us but for our daughters. If they see us harried and exhausted then they will likely follow in our footsteps or feel guilty if they decide to take care of themselves.

The message they are getting is that in order to be a good worker, mother or wife they must sacrifice themselves and their well being.

I don’t know about you but that scares me! I want my daughter to do and be better than me but the main thing is I want her to be happy, not exhausted!

If we all took a few minutes to be “selfish” each day, we could lower our stress and increase our health and well being.

Take a look at how you are feeling. Are you refreshed and engaged and looking forward to the day? Or are you exhausted and just getting by?

What needs aren’t being met? Do you need more sleep? To eat better food? More exercise? Time in nature or to read?

Commit right now to giving yourself something that you have not been allowing yourself and see how you show up afterward. I bet you are happier.

Imagine the impact that will have not only on you but on your relationships with our co-workers, families and friends. Don’t you deserve that?

Ready to take charge of your life? Join me for a retreat designed to help you learn how to live your best life! We will explore ways to shift our common belief that taking care of ourselves is selfish. We will uncover what is truly in the way of you making positive changes in your life. 

Come and learn how to take good care of your greatest asset, you.

Enjoy this all-day retreat on August 23rd, 2015 at the beautiful and serene Chapin Mills Retreat Center. Located in Batavia, NY on 135-acres, this country retreat center will thrill your senses and ignite your imagination. 

For more information and to register go to www.PeaceAndPear.com.

 

 

What To Do When Inspiration Has Left The Building

frustrated-woman-at-computer

I usually feel inspired when it comes to writing something for my blog. Normally, I have something to say.

Not last week.

I kept waiting for inspiration to hit and although I had a number of ideas, nothing really felt right.

In the past, I would have forced myself to sit down and just write something. (Just look at some of my early blog posts, eek!)

My practice now is, if something doesn’t feel right then I don’t do it.

I mentioned to my brilliant daughter that I was struggling with this and she immediately said, “Mom, write about that.”

She went on to say that she was feeling much the same way. And I had a client that day who said she was also feeling that way.

When I inquired about what was going on with them, this is what I learned.

 

  • We are women who get things done but when we feel like we need a break from “doing,” we can get scared.  Our thoughts might go to worrying that we will be seen as lazy, lose our job & end up a bag lady. Or that our business is going to fail if we don’t make a blog post. Or some other made up story.

 

  • We need to remember that “this too shall pass.”  We can either fight it and force ourselves to do those things we think we “should” or we can give ourselves permission to wait for inspiration.

I did the latter.

Instead of forcing myself to sit at the computer and write a blog, I spent my time contemplating a retreat I’m putting together. I got my business finances in order. I was even inspired to rewrite my website text, finally! (I’ve been waiting for that inspiration to hit for a while)

If we give ourselves permission to be exactly where we are with no judgement, then it creates the space for inspiration to flow once again.

What is it that you’re not really feeling right now? Give yourself permission to be right where you are and see what opens up.

Let me know what happens.

Chutzpah & Heart

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I sat listening to a friend who was recounting a meltdown she had recently. Someone had pushed her buttons and suddenly, she found herself saying things she never thought she was capable of.

Afterwards she felt such regret and said, “This is not who I want to be.”

It became clear that her automatic reaction when triggered was to fight. She had developed that survival instinct as a little girl and it’s still there even though she’s an adult.

Chutzpah is a Yiddish word that means “shameless audacity.” I think of it as having guts, nerve or backbone.

I think this woman has chutzpah. And not all of us do.

There are those whose first reaction is to run away when there is confrontation. I fall into this category.

However, when I avoid the uncomfortable situation or person, I end up feeling defeated. My confidence and self-esteem take a hit.

A few years ago, the leader of an organization was continually putting me down. Even though they stepped over the line, I lacked the chutzpah to say, “I won’t be treated this way.”

Because I am a person who chooses to lead with my heart, I mistakenly viewed standing up for myself as being arrogant.  But each time I backed down, I felt weak and like I dishonored myself.  This was not who I wanted to be.

I had heart and not enough chutzpah. My friend had chutzpah and not enough heart.

Chutzpah by itself can come across as arrogant or mean. Heart alone can be viewed as weakness and a doormat.

The sweet spot lies where we have both heart AND chutzpah (heartzpah?! :). It’s not easy to find that place, it takes practice.

For fighters, it means forcing yourself to take a time out before you start saying things you’ll regret.

For those of us who take flight, it means giving yourself permission to stand your ground.

I think Brené Brown said it best, “Don’t puff up, don’t shrink back. Just stand your sacred ground.”

It can be scary and uncomfortable as we practice something new. But that’s where our growth lies, in those scary, uncomfortable places. And there is great joy  and peace of mind  knowing that you can handle anything or anyone who crosses your path.

In order to be the person you want to be, what do you need to practice more of, chutzpah or heart?