2017 was a year of indiscriminant literary hook ups… hardly the serial reading monogamy I usually engage in. I attribute this to some really poor book choices I made. But despite abundance of one-nightstand stands, there were some OMG reads scattered in there as well.
These are the OMG Books of my 2017. Some titles are old, most are new, but each one made my heart race, melt or break with their word wizardry, plot twists, and teachings (I effing love a good self help book).
What do Gloria Steinem, Steve Martin, Marilyn Monroe, and Luna Lovegood have in common?
They’re on my Virtual Board of Advisors, and they “live” above my writing desk.
I think everyone needs a Virtual Board of Advisors.
We play so many roles in our lives—mother/father, daughter/son, teacher/student…. We move through our weeks paying bills, shuttling kids to team sports activities and birthday parties, commuting to work—white-knuckling it until Friday, when we can finally relax and binge watch TV.
There’s nothing wrong with these activities, per se.
But if my life were the sum total of only these things, I might lose what few marbles I have.
That’s what the Virtual Board of Directors does for me—they remind me that there is a lot more to life (and a lot more to ME) than just going through the motions of driving, feeding, clothing and emotionally supporting the people around me.
Have you ever been in a conversation, or in a meeting, and suddenly someone says something to you that cuts you to the core?
You start asking yourself questions like:
“Wait, did she/he just say something shitty, or am I imagining this?”
“Am I ok here?”
“Did I just do something bad? Say the wrong thing?”
I’ve found that most psychic attacks aren’t shouty or obvious to the outside observer, but to the recipient, they hurt like hell. And they usually come out of nowhere, catching us completely off guard.
It can feel like a trap door opens beneath you, and down you go, your dignity and confidence trailing behind you. Or maybe your stomach turn to liquid, your throat suddenly feels tight, or your mouth gets dry.
One of my favorite techniques as a communication coach was given to me (albeit indirectly) by my daughter when she was barely 2 months old.
It was 2006, I had just had Stella, and was back to work with almost no childcare whatsoever. I was a train wreck. My identity was wobbly, none of the time management techniques that had worked for me in the past made any sense, and I was chronically exhausted from trying to front like I had it all under control. One night, in a state of desperation, I went online to seek out information on mindfulness, positive thinking, coping techniques for overwhelm… anything to get me through the next 24 hours.
I came across one piece of advice that made me furious:
Tell yourself a story of abundance... No matter what your schedule says, repeat this phrase to yourself:
It was sometime around 1999 or 2000, and I had recently announced my decision to leave my job at Blanc & Otus for the greener pastures of Scient. Word had made its way around B&O that I was moving on, and when I saw our CEO, Jonelle Birney, approaching me in the hallway, I assumed she’d heard the news as well.
As she got closer to me, a pit opened up in my stomach. How would she react? Would she be angry at me for abandoning my clients and the few folks who reported to me at the time? Was I even a blip on her radar screen? I mean, jeeze, maybe she didn’t even know how to pronounce my name!
It’s that time of year, friends… it time to take stock of the year, and report back on what we read that was worth reading.
Normally, my list is dominated by fiction. But this year? Of my 10 favorite reads only ONE is fiction. It’s not that I didn’t read fiction, I did. I read plenty. But only one of them passed the “OH MY GOD… you HAVE to read this book…” test.
the final installment of Manterruptions, Mansplaining & Bropropriations.
To the men who have followed this series… two words:
It takes a lot of courage to go into the belly of the gender imbalance beast in our culture. It takes even more courage to take on the perspective of someone else, and these pieces were definitely written from a woman’s perspective for a female audience. So I honor you and thank you.
Mansplain (verb) : (of a man) To explain (something) condescendingly to a female listener, especially something she already knows, presuming that she has an inferior understanding of it because she is a woman.
Thanks to this delightful election cycle (and by "delightful" I mean "vile"), I’ve been hearing the words “manterruption" and "mansplaining” every five minutes. In the next few installments, I’ll be offering some techniques and tools for women on the receiving end of these behaviors. And to our male allies, read on! The more you know, the more progress we can make together.
By 5:00 p.m. last Wednesday, I was completely drained and exhausted.
And no wonder, it had been an incredibly productive day: I started a blog post and had a fantastic coaching session with a brand new client, I got closer to closing two new accounts and sent out my first-ever piece of email marketing. In between clients and hours on the computer, I ran all manner of suburban mother errands.
“You are so pathetic. You had a normal work day, and look at you. You want a NAP? Are you nuts? You have three kids, homework, and dinner to cook next. Get your sh*t together. Keep moving. Pour a glass of wine. Have another cup of coffee. Do something. But for God’s sake, have some self-respect and don’t lie down.”
There’s a reason people use the word “presence” interchangeably with “charisma.” Just the simple act of being here in this moment, being mindfully present with another human being can be so powerful that people instantly notice it.
Grant describes the danger of being “authentic” at all times, and how it can lead to blurting out all manner of inappropriate things to people, and how your life will come to a screeching halt if you let authenticity have free reign over your mouth.
This little piece of wisdom is often repeated by my father. When I was growing up, he used it in the context of child rearing, but as I became an adult, I realized that this phrase is every bit as relevant to our interactions with grown ups as it is to parenting kids.
This Blog Post, is like, um, Important: Dealing with Vocalized Pauses
Ah, the vocalized pause…
The “ums” the “uhs” the “like”s that can riddle our spoken sentences like bullet holes. If you are someone who struggles with the tyranny of the vocalized pause, there are two things I want you to know:
My name is Bronwyn, and I am a stimulation junkie. I am that person at the long stoplight who is engaged in a full blown white-knuckles-gripping-the-steering-wheel battle with temptation over whether or not to grab the phone and check email while I wait for the light to change. I know, I know. It’s not great.
You know that moment. You’re in a meeting (or worse, on stage) and someone says something that hits you right in the solar plexus. Your face heats up, your heart races, you feel rage, or fear, or embarrassment, or sadness—pick your poison—and before you know it, you’ve missed the last 3 minutes of the meeting, lost in your own reaction. If you’re someone whose default reaction is to fight back, you consider your counter-attack. Or your default reaction may be to get out of the meeting as quickly as possible, and stay as quiet as possible in the meantime.
Either way, from my perspective as a communication coach, you are in a death spiral. Once you go into default-reaction mode, it is unlikely that anything good will come out of your mouth.