Tag Archives: confidence

In case you didn’t already know

morning message

It’s just today, again, here for you to take in.

I like to feel good. Stress, typically, does not feel good. Sure, sometimes it’s exhilarating—the thrill of rushing toward a deadline, the zing of taking a risk. But I don’t need a lot to get my fill, and lately I’ve had too much.

The other night I did yoga at home, and that helped, for sure. I twisted and stretched and wrung out some lymph nodes, coaxed my immune system to stay strong. But I don’t always have make time for yoga. Sometimes it feels like there is barely time to breathe.

And that leaves me anxious and afraid. Because, as I’ve noted before in a quote attributed to Fritz Perls, “fear is excitement without the breath.”

I need my breath, because I want to be excited. My writing group is sharing excerpts of our novels-in-progress at a local bookshop tonight. Also, the first printing of Are You My Boyfriend? is officially underway. These things (and many more) are awesome. These things are scary, too.

And so I will breathe. And I will pass along a message.

Ever since my writing group got together in March 2012 and worked through The Artist’s Way, I’ve set aside time to write morning pages every day. The pages are mostly messy brain ramblings, but they’re also a form of meditation, and I often receive information from my version of god/the universe/whatever.

Today, I felt almost possessed—my hand did not belong to my stressed-out self, no, it was guided by something else, and the words on my page shifted from first-person thoughts to second-person assurances. It was a message not just for me, but for you, too, and so I am sharing:

“Just go with it, roll with it, show up and have fun. No expectations, no worries, just do your best…let go and trust, that’s what must happen, it’s the only way this works…I love you so much, I’ve got you and all the others and all of this, it’s fun, it’s supposed to be, breathe in and enjoy it, relax, allow, exist, it’s all right, you’re okay, it’s just today, again, here for you to take in.”

…Just in case you didn’t already know.

Dance like the whole world is watching

Uniqlo 4th ave credi

All the world’s a stage. Including the Uniqlo store on 5th Ave.

“You need to work on your shyness.”

That’s what a middle-aged gentleman called out to my friend Laura Hames Franklin as she twirled down an aisle of Uniqlo’s 5th Avenue flagship store, playfully interacting with mannequins and brandishing packaged tank tops like pom-poms.

The man was joking, but as I hovered nearby, I took his observation to heart.

I don’t generally think of myself as shy, but when it comes to dancing in public…I’m shy. Which is precisely why I agreed to take part in Laura’s WeDanceDay film shoot. What better way to confront a fear of embarrassment than to intentionally embarrass myself?

Except I don’t actually want to be embarrassed, so I was struggling to muster up the energy that Laura so easily exhibited.

watching Laura

Watching Laura and trying to avoid embarrassment.

My comparing and despairing mind was quick to point out our differences: Laura’s a trained dancer, whereas I’m just a gal who agreed to bust a move on her lunch break. Laura has rhythm, I don’t. Laura has who-cares confidence, and I…

Do! I do have who-cares confidence! I even have a little rhythm. (I definitely do not have dance training.)

Sometimes I worry about what other people think of me. I try to control their perceptions by controlling my appearance. And it’s true that the way I look impacts the way I am perceived. But at the end of the day, there’s only so much I can control, and the thoughts of others are really none of my business. I’m confident in my authenticity, and beyond that, well, who cares?

Our bodies were made to move, and WeDanceDay is a great excuse to boogie down. I wanted to feel free and happy and to have fun; I wanted to show my fellow humans that it’s okay to be openly silly and joyful.

So that’s exactly what I did. As I watched Laura shake loose, I acknowledged my insecurity, gave it a hug, and decided to enjoy my experience. Not just to dance like no one was watching, but as if the whole world could see. Because I’ve got nothing to hide, and when I allow my full spirit to shine, embarrassment is impossible. (Awkwardness? Well, that’s another story.)

dancing anyway

Embracing embarrassment with who-cares confidence!

Off the Charts Empowered

Each of the business cards I collected represents an authentic connection I made with another empowered human. "Networking" never felt so natural!

Each of the business cards I collected represents an authentic connection I made with another empowered human. “Networking” never felt so natural!

“All I have to do is show up.”

That’s what I told myself in advance of Nathalie Lussier’s Off the Charts Live, a weekend conference I’d paid money to attend yet wanted to skip.

I thought I had no business being there, mainly because, well, I don’t have a business. At least, that’s what it felt like. (Now I understand that not only do I already have a business, I might even have two! )

So, even though I’d committed my time and money, I experienced huge resistance in the days leading up to the event.

“I don’t really feel like going to the business conference this weekend as I don’t feel I belong but whatever,” I journaled earlier in the week.  “I will show up. That’s all I have to do, I really have to keep remembering that. It’s so easy for me to get caught up in worry and overwhelm.”

And so I showed up. I was tired, and I was just barely on time, and I sat far in the back of the theater, up against a wall. Instead of smiling at anyone or attempting to make conversation with the other women in the room, I focused on my phone, typing out my frustrations.

Off the Charts resistance

I was experiencing off the charts resistance.

And then I did something brave.

Nathalie, who, by the way, is a super successful, sincere, excellently kind and helpful human, opened the weekend by inviting participants to introduce themselves. As I listened to woman after woman describe her business and her ambitions, I started to feel smaller and smaller. My worst fears were coming true–I was out of my league, over my head, an imposter, a poser, a wannabe baby.

My head was filling fast with self-hateful lies, but thankfully my stomach, which always tells the truth, was tingling for me to talk. I’ve learned to listen to that tingle, so even though I was frustrated and scared, I raised my hand and stood up with a microphone.

“I’m Christina Bryza, and I don’t have a business, or, I guess, I AM my business, ” I told the audience of intimidating strangers. “I’m a writer, and my first book, Are You My Boyfriend?, is being published in February, and I want to be prepared for that to be big, and so I need to build a brand and website for that, but I also care a lot about helping others heal, and I teach yoga, and I’m not sure how everything goes together and I don’t really know what I’m doing.”

[Note: I’m paraphrasing the above dialogue, as I wasn’t recording myself when I said it.]

I sat down, flustered and defiantly embarrassed. Nathalie nodded and said, “You’re in the right place.”

And, oh my goodness wow, I so totally was.

I learned and experienced SO MUCH at Off the Charts Live. Plenty of it was nuts-and-bolts  practical and on-the-ground applicable: how to develop strategy, construct a business model, build my list, increase site traffic, make sales, and launch a product or service.

Plenty more dealt with emotional intelligence: how to get out of my own way, balance my brain, cultivate empathy, manage my time, form meaningful strategic partnerships, and connect with a dynamically supportive community.

But the truly transformative aspects of the weekend were not things I could take notes on. (Although I did fill up the custom Moleskine I was given.)

Because validation, and clarity, and inspiration, and confidence…those things are intangible—and they are also invaluable.

And while I presume I would have received some of those benefits even if I’d stayed a silent observer, I know that speaking up early on allowed for some amazing interactions. If I hadn’t pushed past my (dis)comfort zone and made myself known, I’m pretty sure I would have spent the first break tapping away at my smartphone.

Instead, a woman came right up to me and identified with what I’d said, and I was instantly invigorated. She’s a writer too, and we spent the rest of the break enthusiastically chatting.

Our connection was the first of many easy, authentic friendships I formed in the course of the weekend, each with exciting implications and possibilities. When I exchanged business cards with these women, it didn’t feel like “networking,” it felt like necessary action to be sure we stayed in touch.

And I’ll make sure we do, because I need their guidance and support, and I want to help them too. As Nathalie said during one of her presentations, “we’re here to educate. We’re here to bring everyone off the charts.”

I’m so grateful to Nathalie Lussier and all the awesome people who participated in her event. I’ve never felt more able to shine my light and show up big, and I owe a lot of my energy to what I’ve derived to be the weekend’s magic formula:

Generous Wisdom + Genuine Connections = Off the Charts Empowerment!

Acceptably uncertain

The first-ever Yoga Service Conference starts tomorrow, and I’m not sure why I’m going.

It’s not that I’ve lost interest in the cause–I’m as emphatic as ever that yoga can be both profoundly healing and accessible to everyone, and I remain deeply committed to the practice of seva (yoga-speak for “selfless service”).

It’s just that I’m a little lost.

A year ago it seemed I’d found my path, and while I trust that I’m still on it, it’s led to unexpected places, and I don’t know what comes next. The intensity of purpose I felt when I first discovered the yoga service sector was thrilling and continues to inspire me, but my daily life looks much the same it did a year ago: I still have a full-time job that’s unrelated to yoga; I still talk and write about yoga more than I teach it.

And so, because I’m not entirely transformed, because, despite my 200-hour, Om Schooled, and Street Yoga certifications, I haven’t yet fully found my way, my insecure ego tells me I don’t belong at the conference; that because I’m not “walking the walk” (whatever that means!) of someone who’s professed passion for a career in yoga service, I’m somehow an impostor among the truly devoted (whoever they are!).

But the Yoga Service Council says their conference “is intended for anyone interested in working to create strong, engaged and resilient communities.” That means me.

So my ego can take a hike, because I am walking the walk. I’m just traveling at my own pace–and I’m practicing yoga every breath of the way. Just because I haven’t quit my job doesn’t mean I don’t do seva every day. I do, and I’ll continue to.

And just because I don’t know exactly where I’m going doesn’t mean I won’t get there–and connecting with inspirational, like-minded people will surely help me navigate. As I once concluded in a previous post about pathways: “No doubt about it, there is always somewhere to go, even if figuring out the way involves uncertainty.”

Oh yes, I am uncertain. But uncertainty is more than acceptable, it’s exciting. Uncertainty pairs with possibility, after all—and I am confident there will be plenty of that this weekend. Looking forward to what I will learn!