Tag Archives: courage

It’s already okay

you-are-enough butterfly

I had a whole elaborate blog post planned. I was prepared to tell you all about my latest bout with insecurity, and how I was hoping to overcome it quickly. (I was on a deadline.)

So to start, I tracked down an image that contained the message “you are enough,” and I composed the title of “it’s already okay.” And to my pleasant surprise, I felt like I was finished.

I could take more space and time to detail the specifics of today’s low-grade anxiety. Maybe I even will.

But for now, I am resting in the reassurance of two simple phrases, and in the relief and comfort it gives me to share their truth.

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!

I’m so scared

Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone

I try so hard to be brave. My comfort zone feels like a distant home, a place I love to visit but where I no longer live. And a lot of the time that feels fine. I am excited about where I’m headed. I’m SO excited. But I’m also scared.

And not confessing the fear makes it worse, because then it turns into a shameful secret, and shame is self-hate, and self-hate is harmful.

So I want to talk about this, even though it’s (surprise!) frightening to be publicly vulnerable. It feels like because I am strong I’m not allowed to show weakness; because I have courage I shouldn’t flaunt fear.

But the fact is I’m afraid. And the more I illuminate that truth, the lighter I will become.

I’m afraid I can’t hold all the goodness I’m asking for. I’m afraid to write another book. I’m afraid to look for an agent. I’m afraid I don’t deserve the massive success I envision for myself. I’m afraid I’m a fraud, that my earnest attempts at authenticity are nothing more than ego.

I’m afraid to publish this post, that exposing insecurities is naive and unsavvy. I’m afraid you’ll pass judgment. I’m afraid I’ll be sorry.

And all of that’s okay. Each of my fears and ten million more are not only okay, they’re inescapable.

As a human, I am going to feel fear. A lot. Probably always.

But I also feel love.

Love is my trump card, my winning lotto ticket, my night-light, my soft blanket, my wide smile, my huge hug. Love is my hope, and my laughter, and my promise to keep trying.

Love is what I have to give, and fear is what I face to do so. Neither emotion will disappear, but what I focus on will flourish.

So today I choose love. Awareness gives me the option, honesty gives me the freedom, and with gratitude, I am not so scared.

Brighter than my blues

Kelley and Matt, doing what they do–singing “a song that’s true.”

I am so grateful for good music, for true sounds from the soul and the chance acts of fortune that lead me to them.

I don’t remember how I found out about Noisetrade, nor do I know why I listened to Kelley McRae‘s album two years ago on a January day. Maybe because it had “Brooklyn” in the title and I live in New York, or maybe I just had the curiosity to click and listen. Noisetrade sends me lots of emails, plenty of new sounds to consider, but rarely does an artist hook me like she did.

I was hurting that winter, and I found solace in her singing. I didn’t have a ton of downtime for reflection since I was working full time and also training to become a yoga instructor–basically a second full-time job–but whenever I showered I’d listen to Kelley’s music, and whenever I heard “Sparrow,” I felt heard.

That would have been enough, connecting to a random recording that helped me heal, but my relationship to Kelley’s music grew stronger when I ventured to see her play that March on the Lower East Side. She and her husband/bandmate, Matt, announced that they had just traded in their Brooklyn home and belongings for a VW camper van and were preparing to tour America in order to share the art they had to offer. I was inspired.

I introduced myself afterwards, and in my journal the next day I described Kelley as “a lovely personality and performer” and noted that “it was a pleasure to see the show.” Plus, “she played ‘Sparrow,’ which basically made my night.”

From then on, whenever I got an email announcing an NYC performance, I did my best to show up for it. We struck up an email correspondence because Kelley was looking for venues for house shows on the road and I have friends in other states. After seeing her play again in May, I gushed: “I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to hear a singer/writer who has chops, soul, AND spirit.”

Chops, soul, and spirit–that pretty much sums up Kelley McRae. When it comes to life and love, it’s clear to me that this girl GETS it. And I am grateful. This past spring and summer she recorded an album funded entirely by supporters, and it overflows with love and energy (just like her!).

After we chatted at the release party for Brighter than the Blues in September, I had to let her know: “I feel so lucky to have discovered an artist who not only creates music I genuinely connect to, but who is personable and communicative to boot!”

And I do feel lucky, to know her and her music, to support someone with the courage to be authentic and follow her heart, who lives a human life with good intention. It’s true that we ain’t got much time, and it’s important how we spend it. I’m happy I get to use some of mine listening to talented truth, told with an open heart.

Changing focus, moving forward

shift key

I never meant for ThisIsWheretheHealingBegins.com to be a yoga website.

When I purchased the domain in 2010, I envisioned creating a destination where people who were in pain (aka everyone) could easily explore accessible, affordable ways to feel better. Yoga was certainly on the list of resources I intended to offer, but so were EFT, Inner Bonding, and other tools that had helped me on my own healing journey.

But I knew nothing about web design and was going through a challenging time in my personal life, so the domain sat dormant until January 2011, when I realized that my impending training to get certified as a yoga instructor would provide me with a great opportunity to begin blogging. And since I already had a website…

I wrote regularly about yoga for nearly a year, and I’m grateful to say my passion for the practice has yet to wane. But it has certainly evolved, and I haven’t shared much about the transitions. In fact, with a whopping seven blog posts in 2012, I haven’t shared much at all.

One reason is that as I’ve become increasingly capable of appreciating the present moment, I’ve been less motivated to summarize it. I’ve also been self-censoring. If something I wanted to write about wasn’t directly related to yoga–if I couldn’t think of a tidy way to tie it into an asana experience–I deemed the content unacceptable for publication. I’d heard (and believed) a blog must occupy a narrow niche, and I felt obliged to stay on topic.

Because of self-imposed restrictions, I stopped publicly expressing my ideas and feelings. I don’t think that’s good or bad, but I’m ready to abandon expectations and try something different. I’m ready to be braver and even more authentic, and I want to expand my scope, to steer closer to my original intention of helping others heal. The best way I know to do this now is to let my own light shine, on and off the yoga mat.

So in 2013, I’m getting back to blogging, and I’m going to talk a lot about love. Other stuff too, but mostly love. Because I believe love is the bottom line, and if my personal perspective can help even one person feel better, it’s worth publishing.