Why your bi weekly paycheck is holding you back

Until now I always have known when I am getting paid. Since I was 15 years old I have been getting paid every other Friday. I remember my first pay check and being so excited. It was all my money! Well, and all those other people who were taking their piece of the pie. But, what was left over was mine!

I like a good oldest child did what was expected of me. I put some in savings and then I went shopping! I quickly learned that I would need to ration it out more if I wanted the paycheck to last more than the weekend. However, I was 15. There was going to be a roof over my head, food on my table and a little extra from my folks just because. Eventually I got better at spreading out my little coffee shop pay check.


Then as many of you readers know I went into retail where again I was getting a small check each week but enough for a college student to have some sort of life. After several promotions however, I got salaried! Yep, guaranteed money. No matter how much I worked I at least knew how much money I was making. There are upsides and downsides to both. However, it was so freeing to not worry if I would get “enough” hours at work. I knew what my pay would be and could budget accordingly.

Now, different then most salary jobs I also had commission bonus. So, if I wanted more (which who doesn’t) I just had to sell more. Or have my staff sell more! I was able to quickly get out of college debt, move into my own apartment. I could get a car on my own. I had a lot more freedom.


But, I wanted more.

See, it’s very secure knowing how much you are going to make no matter what. In fact it’s almost too secure. Like comfy secure.

There is no real fire under your arse. Sick or not that paycheck will magically appear in my bank account. Every other Friday will balloon my account. Unless something unexpected happens, I’m good.

It’s so comfy that it can be hard to get away from. Like a couch that’s too soft and deep, it can be hard to get out of. Like a drug it can be hard to walk away from. Every paycheck is a hit!


If you have a dream, a desire beyond your current job; if that dream or desire is you working for yourself, I can tell you that your bi-weekly paycheck is going to be one thing, one big thing that holds you back!

Why? Because it’s pretty hard to leave. It’s hard to go out on your own, not knowing how much you’ll make. You may make more money in the beginning but then…when is the next deposit? You might have to start off making nothing…when will the next hit come? Slowly, if you left the check it may seem like it’s calling you back. If you haven’t left the check…well you get my point.

I have not been living off my own paychecks for 3 months when this posts. Is it scary HECK YES! My account is more full than ever but I am scared to spend it. However, don’t worry. I am working out where the money needs to go next to grow my business further. There are weeks where no new money comes in. Weeks where I make a months worth in a day. It’s an ebb and flow. A entrepreneurial roller coaster. But, it’s my roller coaster. All mine.


If you want to work for you. If you are trying to get out of the addiction from your current “comfortable” paycheck. Try this:

Whats your bare minimum budget?

What can you get rid of entirely?

Do you have at least 6 months living expenses saved up?

Do you have a plan for how your desire will bring you money?

Can you start your desired business in the wee hours before work and the evening hours after?

Can you get your business off and running before you go cold turkey?

We are about to read “The Power of Broke” for our LCL Book Club. I must say dear readers there is so much power in not having a guaranteed income. You get creative. You don’t throw money at things. You get down and dirty with your business and really figure it all out.


You may go cold turkey, you may slowly wean yourself off. But, either way remember that going back to a job or staying at a job for a biweekly hit will only get your a biweekly hit.

xx~LL

If you have a comment scroll down past the tags below (or up, if you’re on the main page), or email us at liveclarelesley@gmail.com   We LOVE your feedback!!   Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for DAILY inspiration!

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6 steps to NOT achieve perfection. 

Perfection–We continually strive for it, reach for it, hope for it, sacrifice for it, and sometimes even die still in pursuit of perfection.

It’s one of those words that has a definition, but everyone defines perfection in a different, personal way. Everyone strives for a bar, for that ever dangling carrot–but why? If perfection is a continually receding horizon, why do we chase after it?

Maybe we continually search for it because we had it for a short while, and it felt so good and we felt so complete. Not because it’s expected or the bar set by others, but because we know the possibility of what we can be.
I’m not saying that we should stop striving for perfection, instead we shouldn’t let it cripple us.


LL and I just read and did our first Book Club podcast on Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert–in a section of the book she talks about writing and rewriting her book The Shape of All Things, and how there is a flaw in it, but that if she went back and fixed it, the entire book would change. So she just left it. The book wasn’t perfect, but she would hope in her next project she would achieve something better. She didn’t let it stop her from publishing. Liz Gilbert didn’t let perfection cripple her.

Perfection is irritating because it is so illusive, and once achieved its fleeting. It is either only a moment, or once your own personal perfection is achieved, people look at you and ask what you’re doing next–so a new goal with a new level of perfection is set. My dad models trains. He has had several different layouts–to his defense, he has lived in several different houses. But he continues to build and paint and model…and then after a few years, reconstructs. He achieved an end, and it was perfect or not, but either way he got bored with it and rebuilt. It’s like the pursuit of the perfect train layout is more important–and in a way it is. Dad continues to hone his hobby. His painting skills and details keep getting better, because he is learning new skills or he is finding better products to make perfection.


This scenario makes me wonder if we actually like chasing perfection. We set a goal to reach so we have a reason to keep doing something. We want to become better, have better results. But more importantly we want to fill our lives with something in between the goal setting and the goal achieving. Reaching the goal is great because once there, we realize that we could reach the goal, so we enjoy our moment of perfection and then realize we are capable, or we like the feeling of perfect, and we set another goal.


I work for an event planner and my goal is always to have a “perfect” event. Although, honestly I don’t know what that means. I guess I mean “smoothly run and enjoyed by guests.” Which, in the 11 months I’ve been on the job seems to be the general consensus after each event. However, I always want to do better the next time. I want to have a better script to run by. I want to have more answers to more questions, in case they arise. No matter how perfect an event goes, I want to be better at running them.
This is part of my personality. I do the same thing in acting. When I perform a show, I’m rarely satisfied. Sometimes I when I’m really upset with a performance, I don’t hear the applause at the end, and I feel like I’ve failed. This used to be crippling. I used to think that I couldn’t go do something else until I got this project correct, or figured out everything that didn’t work. But that was stupid–it kept me from continuing my actual growth that I got by DOING.
Life is the pursuit of perfection. No…wait. Life is the pursuit of HAPPINESS. Perfection doesn’t always equate to happiness. So why are we all constantly struggling for perfection?!? Trying to reach a goal is one thing; being perfect is another.

Going back to Liz Gilbert–she just continued through her book and put it out in the world. I do each play, each performance as best I can in the moment and move on to the next. The work, the passion, the filler to get to the goal is the good part, the life, the achievement.
Here are some steps to let go of your need to be perfect:
1) Breathe. Yeah. This is my go to step one, but a really good deep cleansing breath is healing and will assist in refocusing.
2) Ask yourself if you’re trying to achieve a better you or perfection. If it’s perfection, you’ll never get there. Tell yourself perfection doesn’t exist. It’s a myth. Let go of your need to be perfect.
3) Focus on the steps to achieve the goal–how can you do each one brilliantly or to the best of your ability now. With the knowledge you currently have. With the abilities you currently have. With the time and resources you currently have.

4) Research. What did you do differently last time that worked? What didn’t work? If this is your first time, ask around or Google! What products are out there that can help you do better/grow more/ get more done? Knowledge is power. It allows you to face any challenge better. The more you know, the better.
5) Fail. One of my FAVORITE quotes is Samuel Beckett: Ever Tried? Ever Failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

In other words, we get so much out of failure. We understand what can’t be, what isn’t right, what doesn’t work so much better when we fail than when we succeed. Thomas Edison…blah blah, 10,000 tries to make a light bulb, blah blah. Yeah, I’ve heard that one ad nauseam as well. But there is a reason for that: it’s true.
6) Give up the the need to be perfect. Life is messy. Dive into it. Realize perfection isn’t what matters. Because it’s fleeting. Because it’s an ever receding horizon. Because it doesn’t matter.

At the end, there may be a ribbon or trophy or certificate to award your achievements, but those things don’t matter. It’s who you’ve become that matters. Beautiful, snowflake, imperfect you.

Clare

How to achieve emotional sobriety

Strength is something on which I’m often complimented. I exude confidence, and generally am fearless when it comes to what I want in life. I haven’t always been this way. And I will cry more often than I’ll admit, and I’ll admit I cry a lot. I’m strong because I have to be, but it has taken a lot of experience and painful situations to get me here… and I still don’t think I’m as strong as I would like to be. One of the things I’m experienced at is walking away from things that no longer serve me. Much to my chagrin, I’ve become good at it. Because, better than walking away from things that don’t serve me, I’m twice as good as walking towards and into things that are detrimental to me. If you know me in real life, you’re nodding and agreeing right now. I’m queen of trying out relationships that might not be great for me. I blame this on my curiosity for the human spirit, being a Gemini, being a theater person, and my need to have good people in my life.


Many times relationships work out in my favor, or at least I adapt to them. Adapting to relationships is also a trait I’m good at—but that is another blog. However there are times when relationships just don’t work out. Timing is wrong. Timing starts out right, but then life intervenes and pulls people apart. Sometimes the things that attract us to people turn out to be the thing that tears us apart. Sometimes you just have to walk away from relationships, like I touched on in Growing Out of Friends.

I’m often asked how I’m so strong in these situations. My reply is usually: because I have to be. Honestly, I’m strong because I continually tell myself that I’m worth much more than the way I’m being treated. Or if I don’t see it, I’ve surrounded my self with strong friends who remind me that I’m worth more.


In my recent frustration, I became close with someone who originally seemed to not be able to get enough of me, we will call this friend Mr. Green.  Conversations flowed, text messages filled my days, we continually made plans to hang out and saw each other once a week—which in New York City time is like daily anywhere else. (In New York City, unless you live with someone, or are dating them, you are lucky if you see friends more than once a month.) Anyway, Mr. Green and I both worked to make it happen. After several months, it seemed like I was the only one who was making it happen. Mr. Green seemed to disappear and I was upset because it seemed like I was the only one who was doing the work.

Years and many relationships gone south, I have had a vast array of advice. My favorite comes from my friend Melissa, who compares any relationship to a football field. You start out on the 50-yard line, and you give and take; sometimes activity is instigated on their side, and sometimes the action is on your side. Many times I like to give so much that I find myself sitting, just hanging out on the other person’s 80-yard line—which is frustrating. Retreat to your own 40-yard line, or even farther back, Melissa says, when you’re feeling like you’re not being treated well. And you have to stay there until the other person comes to your side. In other words, you have to stop allowing yourself to give too much in a relationship, and you have to back up and let them come forward.

Sometimes its a person.  Sometimes its a lifestyle–like LL wrote about Letting Go a few weeks ago.  I’m not going to lie—this is hard; this is painful; this takes time, and makes you want to tear your hair out while trying to make sense of it all. If you’re like me, you create stories and excuses for the other person, and try to make yourself believe that sitting and waiting is the absolute wrong thing to do. But it’s not. You have to back off to show someone your worth. Your heart may want you to dive in and move forward, but your brain says that you’re worth waiting for. Here is the truth: Your brain always knows better than the heart.


I’ve been watching a lot of Elementary  lately, a show based on Sherlock Holmes. For those who aren’t familiar with this version of the legend, this Sherlock is an addict, who in season three is questioning his continual upkeep for sobriety. I’m a big advocate in the thought that we are brought to things and ideas when we need them. I don’t want to be so gauche as to say that staying my emotional state is like maintaining sobriety—but it is. Staying emotionally sober is a difficult task. Not wanting to “use” or reach out to a person or situation that makes you devalue yourself is a difficult task. It’s so easy to pick up your phone and send an “innocent” text. But that one text will send you into a spiral that isn’t easy to get back out of. Like a diet, you have to stick to the steps, and that one chip or one candy bar will only lead to more. Just don’t give in.

How do you maintain your emotional sobriety? You have to make a plan for what to do and what not to do. A friend, we will call her Ms. Peacock, is going through a breakup at this moment, and both people in the relationship are trying to hold on, and to reel each other back in to the relationship. It’s a spiral. Its psychotic. Ms. Peacock is stronger than this and deserves better. We sat down on my sofa and I outlined what she can and can’t do. A breakup is like a diet, if you make guidelines, its easier to follow an stay on track.  And just like a diet, you have to cut out all of the things that are bad for you at the beginning, and then you can build things back in, if you have the willpower.

1) Tell yourself you’re worth more than the behavior you’re receiving. Take a look at how much you’re giving to the relationship, and realize that you need to step back for a while, if maybe step away completely.

2) Get yourself a buddy, or a couple of them. Use them as TaB’s whenever you get the urge to text, call, or reach out.

3) Make yourself a plan. For me, when I do a diet, I have to give myself a little bit of a cushion. I cut out something completely, but allow myself a little bit of a “treat” or a “leash.” In other words, give yourself permission to do a little of something. The permission that my friend and I allowed her in this current break up:

–she can text twice a day in response only and she has to TaB first.

–she can talk to him as much as she wants to at work.

–If out, and he shows up at a bar or a location she is at, she can stay for 30 minutes and then she leaves (so that way she isn’t tempted to go home with him, and this way she can’t drink too much and make poor choices.)


4) As a friend to be a sounding board—you need an outlet and you need to be able to voice your feelings.

5) Remind yourself to be strong. Whether this is from other friends or from sticky notes you put on your mirror, remind yourself. You CAN do this.

6) Know that if you relapse, you have to start over. But every day you stand strong, you’re closer to it being easier, and the pain to be gone.

Maybe your relationship will rebound—mine did. I waited and Mr. Green realized it and started to reach out and even made plans. However, it doesn’t always happen–Ms. Peacock moved on in life without that significant other, and is out and dating, sadder but wiser–but definitely on the mend. Sometimes you get your person back and other times you don’t. No matter what, know that you’re worth being treated well.   A good relationship will acknowledge that.

–Clare

If you have a comment scroll down past the tags below (or up, if you’re on the main page), or email us at liveclarelesley@gmail.com   We LOVE your feedback!!   Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for DAILY inspiration!

How to NOT make Resolutions

So, I don’t make resolutions. If you read last year’s New Years blog, you know this about me already: I refuse. I will not buy into the hype. I will not go to the gym more, diet a certain way,  doing this or that just because its January 2016. You, Hallmark, Oprah, and others cannot make me.


However, I do use the roll over to a new year to take a look back at what I have been doing. Reflect on what I like, don’t like, need, don’t need, want and don’t want. I set goals based on my desires. Then I share these thoughts with Clare, my Husband and anyone else I feel needs to be in the know. Maybe it’ll even be you!

Last year my theme was to Love the Skin I’m In. I kicked that off with a 30 day yoga challenge. I did do 30 days of Yoga. I did go through the year enjoying who I am more. This goal for 2015 started because I caught myself not loving how I looked. Instead of berating myself, I took time to get into the present moment. What was I avoiding by berating myself. What tasks, to do’s or feelings was I avoiding by hating on myself?

Instead of wishing I were taller, thinner, tanner, or anything else outwardly physical: I moved. I moved my thoughts or my body or both at the same time! I stopped expecting things to just “happen.” Instead, I did things that would lead to what I wanted to happen.

Let me give you an example. As 2014 ended I really did not feel myself. I was just recovering from a broken leg that sidelined me for a month. No walking for a month. The body I was in didn’t feel like mine. I wasn’t super stoked. But as I mentioned in my 2015 start I did my yoga 30 days in a row. I also gave myself a challenge. A Pilates Education opportunity auditions only one time a year. I had 10 months to get stronger than before my injury. I made a commitment to do just that. I committed to at minimum 3 Pilates sessions a week. So, after my yoga challenge, I moved into a routine that I could keep up with regularly. When I felt my mind get upset about something I couldn’t do that I felt I should be able to do I made myself take a deep breath. Then I thought about it backwards. Much like I do goals. I looked at the problem: I can’t do ____. What would be the step below or before? What would be the step below that? What would come before that and so on and so on until I got to something I knew I could do. I worked my way backwards through the problem until I found something I could accomplish. Then I would follow this new map. You know what? It worked! 10 months into 2015 I found myself getting married and auditioning for 1 of 12 spots in the program I set out to audition for.


I left my audition knowing I did the best I could. I had the most amazing wedding and not once did I look at myself and wish anything looked differently.

I acheived my goals of 2015 and so much more and I didn’t have to resolve to do anything!  And I do believe all of this started with my goal to love myself, inside and out.


So, my dear reader how can you skip the resolutions and just win 2016? Think about what you wish you had, think about what you constantly complain about. For example, if you wish you had a new car then write down the new car, the cost and all the details. Then work backwards. What would you have to do to get yourself to be able to go to the lot? What would you have to do to get to the spot before the lot spot? Keep going backwards until you are at the present moment reading this post. Take your bullet point map and fill in any other sub bullet points if needed. Maybe you need to make more money? Or get a new job. Write in the steps to complete the major bullet point. It may take you more than 2016 it may take you less! Time doesn’t matter. It’s your desire, it can take as long as you want or need.

If you complain about something a lot like how you look, for example, or being single, or your job. Take that topic. Reverse it. Instead of I am tired of my job. Write My New Amazing Job is ____. Then just like you did above write the steps to go from point A (you today) to point Z (your amazing goal to___). Again, this isn’t always going to be a 12 month map. It could easily be 3 months or even 3 years.

My roadmap for 2016 actually goes way beyond 2016’s calendar in some areas. It’s shorter than the calendar in others. I desire to live life more fierce and fabulously. My roadmap and thoughts will filter through that. There will be detours. It’s the game of life. Detours are not always bad by the way. Nowhere in my 2015 goals did I write “get married” (I wasn’t even engaged) or quit salary and be my own boss. Both happened and both were awesome!!

Grab your feelings, your dreams and a piece of paper and pencil (it’s easier to erase as needed) and map it out! Maybe you could even meet Oprah!

Happy New Years and happy mapping! And stay tuned to this blog in the upcoming weeks (maybe even follow or subscribe so you don’t miss ANYTHING)–we’re going to have some fun posts and a big announcement soon!!

xx~LL

If you have a comment scroll down past the tags below (or up, if you’re on the main page), or email us at liveclarelesley@gmail.com We LOVE your feedback!! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for DAILY inspiration!

How writing a novel made me a better person

A lot of personal growth gurus tell you that when you’re trying to be something you tell yourself you are that something to help you achieve your goals. Mind over matter. Fake it until you make it.  Honestly, that’s how I finished a manuscript for a book.

The path to writing a novel has been an interesting one. I have always been a storyteller: I had friends put on versions of fairy tales in my backyard when we were little; I studied theater in high school and college; I was on the school newspapers as a writer, and loved to take creative writing classes. I could give you many more facts to support that I like to tell stories—but I think you get it. The thing is, I just am a storyteller. It has always come naturally, and I love it. I also don’t understand it, can’t explain it, and am not good at owning it. I’m an actress—a damn good one—but its taken me years to be able to say that with conviction. Part of it is that I’ve not had thousands of glittering fans following me, and praise from teachers and critics. Part of it is that my storytelling talent is just as much a part of me as my arm, or my teeth, or my brain—its just there, I have cultivated and kept up its strength, but I don’t know that its really mine to take credit for because I’ve always had it. A creative outlet also helps my survival, so in a way, its like me taking a compliment on breathing….thank you…?

Anyway… the novel I’ve written started as an outlet, a way to breathe. I had a relationship that was very jagged in the way it ended. I needed to figure out a way to deal with my feelings of it, so I started journaling. After a few weeks of hearing myself only complain both on paper and to anyone who would listen, I got so tired of it. My journaling morphed into my writing letters, which morphed into a fictional version of myself writing letters to someone else at the end of a relationship—I felt very Chekovian at the time. From these letters a plot started to emerge about how this woman felt so deeply, and loved this man so deeply, but his depression got in the way. I just felt compelled to keep writing. I wrote on the subway every time I could get the chance. I would write until I fell asleep each night. I would wake up and write while I was making coffee and a few times while brushing my teeth.  Elizabeth Gilbert talks on her website about her thoughts on writing.  I’ve also heard her quoted to say that she sits down and just slogs though the work. I just wrote whenever the muse called, or whenever I could. Liz says on her page: “Your job is only to write your heart out, and let destiny take care of the rest.”  I just kept writing.

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At this point it was all hand written, and I decided to sit down in front of the computer and see what happened… I had over 80 typed pages. WOW. By this time the muse had a hold of me, and I just kept writing. I started telling people that I was writing—and it was interesting, there were two reactions: 1) people were excited and couldn’t wait to read it, 2) people were inspired by me and were either going to start their own, or dust off the one they had already started and were going to work on their own.

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The more I told people, the more it became real. The more I became a writer. I sent pages off to friends who read it and couldn’t wait for more. I even started a Facebook page to keep myself honest and update everyone on the progress—because it became my main talking point.


The more I told people, the more it became real.


Life intervened and distracted me—truth be told, I don’t know if I was ready to complete a story then, I was sad, and the story needed a happy beginning. At some point LL and I sat down and decided to launch LiveClareLesley, first as a book, and then as a blog—and that took my writing down a different lane. I moved three times, and my storyteller was quelled by all of the theater I was performing. Then in June of this year I had a brainwave for a play. I told myself that I wasn’t allowed to start on the play until I had finished the novel.

And I did. I sat down, I slogged through it, and now I have a manuscript. I have done the research on self-publishing. I have a Facebook and a following. And now, I’m trying to get this sucker published with a GoFundMe campaign and donate if you can. Please go check it out and I will adore you if you like the book on Facebook, and post my GoFundMe on your own social media!

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But wait, there’s more! Ok, this blog wasn’t a commercial to help fund my book. Its about owning the talents you have and letting them come to the surface. I did not start out to write a novel, but I arrived at that. I’m proud of myself for continually sitting down to work on it and owning it. Here are some of my suggestions on how to get started:

  • If you feel the need to be creative and don’t know where to start, make a “bucket list” and a separate list of things that inspire you. What of those make you want to take action? Start to follow your inspirations and passions.
  • It sounds silly, but literally take a different route home—I always am happy when I do, because I see something or someone that I wouldn’t have normally.
  • Read. Nothing inspires me more than words and other stories.
  • Go see a play/movie/opera/concert. Get out and get some culture.
  • Just try something. If you feel inspired to write, just start writing. If you want to learn something new, sign up for a class. If you want to dance, go find a place to dance!
  • Remember the beginning is always slow, but you have to just slog through it. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and you’ll get there eventually.
  • Tell your friends and family. Maybe they’ll want to join. Maybe they’ll support, or even better they’ll look at you like you’re crazy and ask why you’re doing it—which will reaffirm your desire to do it! They’ll also keep you honest, and remind you to keep doing it by asking you about your activity!

Maybe you’ll succeed. Maybe you’ll fail. No matter what you’ll try something new and you’ll learn something. I’ve been a reader for as long as I could read. I appreciate books so much more now that I’ve been through the process of writing one. No matter what happens, I’m a better person for having started writing this novel. I’m a better storyteller.

Go visit my Facebook page for The Time Turner,  and visit, donate, and repost my GoFund Me!

–Clare

If you have a comment scroll down past the tags below (or up, if you’re on the main page), or email us at liveclarelesley@gmail.com   We LOVE your feedback!!   Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for DAILY inspiration!

Photo Credits:  Palo (writing on page), Go to the Eye (typewriter keys), Twentyfour Students (keyboard keys).  All photos are from Flikr Creative Commons.

Love the Skin You’re In 

I get it! Working out is hard. Some days are easier than others. Some days you have to drag yourself to the gym or out the door for a walk. Some days you want to throw in the towel and eat a bucket of ice cream and binge watch House of Cards. Stop! Put the spoon down. Watch an episode of HOC, not the entire season. Save some for later and get moving. Why? Because you’ll feel better.

Yes, some days are tougher than others but move anyways. If you don’t it’ll just be harder the next day. You’ll just be putting off your health. It’s a fact you rest, you rust. Move it or lose it. This year I set out to “Love the Skin I’m In”. As I wrote about in Desires,  I started out setting all my goals as Desires instead.  At the end of 2014, I decided how I wanted to feel this year. The decision I made: I want to love every inch of me. Part of that decision is feeling strong and healthy. Working out is a huge part of this desire. However, some days my alarm goes off and I have no idea what day it is or why I’m getting up. I have to fall out of bed, away from my snooze button, so that I get out the door. I may drag my feet to the corner to meet my exercise buddy for our run, but 33-35min later I’m thrilled I did. Iced coffee in hand, walking home, I’m ready to take on the day!

Since the first I’ve been holding myself accountable to difference fitness modalities. I did thirty-three days of yoga at the beginning of the year. Committed to running four times a week, Pilates three times a week, and a session with my trainer. Yes, it sounds like a lot but it’s not bad. My workouts are so important in achieving my desire that they are in my calendar already.  I schedule everything else around it. After all, not only is it good for my health but it’s key to helping me to love the skin I’m in.

I so proud and blessed to say that it’s still the beginning of the year and everyday I love the skin I’m in more and more. I’m challenging my body. I’m stronger I look and feel better. I feel sexy. All because I set a goal/desire and took action towards it. As a Pilates instructor I know so many of you hate the gym, don’t like to workout. Are super busy. I hate to break it to you. You get one body. That’s it! One. You’re in it! Would you rather drive around a clunker that has squealing breaks or bad alignment? Yeah, I didn’t think so. I urge you to find a workout that makes you happy. Challenges you from your soul, outwards.

Need an inspirational workout? Check out Sean Hayes doing his moving for the day. What? You don’t have a trampoline in your home? Here are some easy tips to get your body moving and have fun while doing it:

  1. Grab a workout buddy: Ideally someone who won’t cancel on you. Someone who wants to even work harder than you a little to hold you accountable.
  2. Join a gym, yoga studio, cycling studio: having to pay for a membership puts value on it and makes it harder to just do nothing. Similar to the workout buddy the membership becomes your monetary accountability partner.
  3. Check out local teams or meetup groups for fitness and join groups or sports teams.

No funds. No gym. NO EXCUSES! You think I am going to let you work, eat, sleep and repeat? No way. You’re too awesome for that. Besides, you rest you rust! Seriously. When I think about rust I remember this old wheelbarrow out in the back yard where I grew up. Do you really want to become and old wheelbarrow? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

  1. Download an app, join an online workout site: Pact is working for Clare. I love PilatesAnytime.com, yogaglo.com and the dailyburn.com or popsugar.com or just google! Google know’s everything and can help you find something that moves you.
  2. Start small and add in as needed. If you have not had a regular fitness routine pick something you like and try to do it a couple times this week. As you get used to adding things to the calendar add more movement. Slowly progressing into the schedule you need to hit the goals you have. Go on, get up and shake a tail feather and love the skin your in.

What’s your favorite way to workout? I love Pilates Yoga and Running.  Leave us a comment and let us know how you plan to Love the Skin You’re In!

Xx~LL

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Nerves: How to Squish Those Butterflies

I audition often–probably not as often as I should, but that’s not the point. I audition regularly enough, so basically I interview, put myself out on the line, open my heart and soul, through a song or a text to complete strangers with a mere hope that they’ll want and choose me. Insert horrific kick ball team selection moments here–it feels terrible to be picked last, or if in theater, not at all.

At the moment of writing this I’m headed to an audition. It’s a big one for me. I’m on a subway and I’m trying to do breathing exercises and releasing tension in my shoulders and listening to other music–anything that will take my focus away from the flip-flopping in my stomach, the wiggly legs, and the voices in my head.
The thing about ignoring problems is that they always butt their head back in. I’m at a sensitive equilibrium, and any shift in my breathing, my stomach or makes me jolt out of it. I’m at an intermediate level of being able to keep my nerves in check, because I have to do it so often. But I’m not going to lie, sometimes I let the nerves win. I’m staring success in the face and I’m going to let my nerves get to me. Oh. I’ll fight them, but they’ll still win. WHY? Why am I going to let a flip-flopping stomach and some wobbly knees take over and ultimately take away my chance?

Lets break down nerves, in a logical thinking way. Ultimately, nerves are created by fears. If you figure out your fears and face them, they should be easier to conquer. Both LL and I live by the thought that if you look at your fear, figure out the worst-case scenario that the situation could bring and then come to terms with the worst possible, there is no reason to be afraid anymore. For instance: the worst possible situation that could happen in the audition I’m headed to is that I’ll say something completely offensive, look completely unprepared, and not perform perfectly: making a bad impression and leading the people in the room to think I’m unprofessional and untalented. Let me dissect this for you and for me, since it always helps to rationalize out a situation to ground yourself. First, I wouldn’t say anything offensive–I’m more professional than that. Second, I doubt I’ll look unprepared, I looked over this music and audition materials for five hours last night—I’ve got this. Looking like I’m unprofessional and untalented—well, both are perspectives, if you think about it. It’s someone else’s perspective of me—which might book me a job, but is ultimately none of my business what someone else thinks of me. They’ll see me and meet me for maybe 10 minutes, which paired with my resume is enough to give me a job, but not enough to know me. So, what I’m trying to say with all of this is the worst could happen, but I’m prepared enough that it shouldn’t all just explode. And, better yet, no one will die or be harmed in any way.

“Nerves” come from fears. We all know that. I’m nervous because I fear I’m not going to get a role. Actually worse, I’m nervous because I’m afraid I’m not an actress, and I’ve put all of this time, energy, and money into being one. Wait—whaaaaat? I AM an actress. I’ve booked many gigs—some that have actually paid me. So, seemingly my nerves and fears are silly.

So how do you beat them? By continually calling them out for what they are and confirming your status as a fantastic, wonderful, unique, talent in the world.

Here are some steps:

1) When you start to feel the nerves, call them out—hey nerves, you’re just fear.

2) Dig deep and figure out what the root of the fear is: For me and auditions and job interviews, its feeling like I’m not good enough (this is generally the root of all nerves.)

Going on a first date: nervous that they won’t like you (“Not good enough”). Nervous that they aren’t who they say they are (Fear of someone lying to you—which you can’t determine until you get there. But you CAN always leave).

Quitting a job, or telling someone some heavy information: fear that they will hate you forever and will spread it around that you’re a terrible person (sometimes these are really silly reactions. If they hate you forever, well at least your last act was honesty. And if a rumor is spread around that I’m a terrible person for being honest… so be it.)

Traveling nerves are a bit of a different creature, but still, it’s a rare chance that your plane will crash, your suitcase will get lost, you’ll die… just make sure to get insurance and take the precautions you feel will make you more safe.

3) Breathe and talk through that fear, or that worst case scenario. Find a safe place, and a safe person to talk to—this does work best with a friend. I find that talking things out to others, and/or writing them out help get them outside of your body and mind, and therefore are no longer part of you. So talk it out; write it out; GET IT OUT.

4) Understand yourself and your fear—I’m not a therapist and I can’t help you completely work through everything, but I’m sure there is a root of your terror. My theatrical ones are that I’m not good enough to book another job, because I see so many of my friends booking work when I don’t. Well, its just not my time. And my close friends, and mother will tell you I’m insane having these thoughts—I did seven shows in 2014. Already this year I’ve done two play readings, am cast in a show, and am in the process of booking another. It will all be ok. (Just FYI, I didn’t book the original show that inspired this post—on this side of it, I’m totally fine; not crying, berating myself, hating myself, etc. Just moving on to the next.

5) Move on to the next. Or the first. Once you’ve talked through the fear, told yourself that it is silly—yes, please use the verbage “its silly” because really, it IS silly that you don’t feel good enough, or that someone will hate you, or that you’re going to die for doing an every day thing. (If you’re terrified of scaling Mt. Everest, that is something I can’t help you with in this blog. At LCL we can coach you through it—email us at liveclarelesley@gmail.com to get started!!) Now that you’ve said the thing you fear is “silly” see how you feel.

6) Tell yourself that you are wonderful, awesome, courageous, and amazing. If you are not what this particular opportunity needs—GREAT! There will be another one that is BETTER for you, or you’ll understand reasons why you didn’t get this one. Maybe its because you didn’t really want it in the first place!

7) BE OPEN—this is a big one. After you’ve gone and done and got over your silly fear, listen to the world. If you’re looking for a job, tell your friends and listen to what they have to say. If you’re looking to date, get out there and try different opportunities—try joining clubs or groups instead of continually refreshing your Hinge pool. If you were afraid to tell someone big information, look at that relationship and question why you were afraid—is it you or them?

8) Dive back in! Yes, this is kind of part of number 7… but get back out there. The more you try the more you’ll get over the fears and nervousness. I’m nervous about singing auditions, but I’ll go in and give nary a care about reading auditions. I can cold read Shakespeare and you’d think I had it memorized. Because I’ve DONE so many and have achieved more success. The less nervous you are, the better you’ll do. I’ve conducted many job interviews and been on the casting side of theater—most of the time the person is hired because they are confident. Breed confidence!!

9) Check back in with your fears. If you can still tap them easily and call them “silly” then you’re doing great! If they’re still debilitating, you might want some stronger help than a blog!

Good luck! Remember, breathing is the opposite of nerves—if there is plenty of good warm breath in your stomach, there aren’t room for butterflies!

–Clare

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Stop Saying “I’m Sorry”

I live in New York City. There are something like 1.6 million people that live in the 23 square miles of Manhattan. That is an insane amount of people in a tiny space. New York is the only city I’ve ever been to that you can take up someone’s personal space, and they have to be ok with it, and they do so by ignoring you. People are “jerks” in this city because business moves fast here, and people have to move at the same speed if not faster. I get pushed and shoved and stepped on all the time, and no one ever apologizes. Ever. And I love it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I was raised by a good southern woman who told me to be polite at all times. However, polite and apologetic are not the same thing.

I am a woman of a lot of mass. I am tall and I take up space. Genetics has made me this way. As a teenager and a young adult, I was sorry that I took up too much space. I tried to find ways to be smaller. At the movie theater, I would shrink down, just in case the person behind couldn’t see. I still don’t put my chair back in airplanes because I inevitably get my knees slammed by the person reclining in front of me, and I don’t want to do that to the person behind me. There was a point in my life that I said I was sorry to people who bumped into me, or even to walls and inanimate objects. I used to say “I’m sorry” in almost every other sentence. I used to say “I’m sorry” so much that I started saying I’m sorry for saying I’m sorry so much. Are you getting the picture? I was overusing “I’m sorry.”

I’ve heard it said that the things that annoy us most are the things that we worked hardest to change within ourselves. I undervalued myself so much that I felt the need to ask forgiveness to lower life forms and inanimate objects. Enough was enough. I didn’t really mean what I was saying. And if I was, I needed to stop apologizing for taking up space. Everyone takes up space. That is what living is. I wasn’t living, I was being sorry.

I hate, loathe, despise and abominate the phrase: I’m sorry.

In America, people are innocent until proven guilty and even then, as long as we are sorry and promise not to do it again, we can usually get off without much of a punishment. It is easier to ask forgiveness than it is to ask permission. At least this is the common viewpoint—whether you realize it or not. We take from each other, we mistreat each other, we push each other’s buttons, and we walk all over each other to fulfill our best interest. We knowingly commit crimes against each other, and then we use two weak words to ask forgiveness. Once bestowed the forgiveness, we commit the same exact crime, sometimes with amped stakes, just because we can. We got away with it the last time with only a tiny bit of humiliation and groveling. Saying “I’m sorry” is easy. Actually apologizing is not.

I’m so tired of hearing “I’m sorry” because it is so worn-out and undervalued. It is a phrase used so often, especially by women that we don’t even hear ourselves when we say it. I went out to dinner a few months ago, with friends who have been together for over 10 years. She is a hard working woman, who supports his artistic career. She too is artistic. They love each other very much and treat each other as well and as equally as you do after 10 years of growing up together. At dinner, she said “I’m sorry” either to her husband or me twelve times. Yes, I counted. Actually, I drank each time she said it, and I’d had three glasses of wine by the end of dinner—not the best drinking game… And why did she keep saying it? She wasn’t late; she didn’t hurt anyone; she committed no crimes. I think the biggest crime she committed was cutting me off just as I was finishing a thought. She kept asking for forgiveness for things that were no big deal. She was being polite, especially for the time she kicked me, but really, NONE of those things really required an apology, and they certainly didn’t need forgiveness.

Being polite and actually doing something that you need to be sorry for are two different sports. A really good friend of mine is trying to make big changes in her life. She is a divorcee that moved to New York to pursue the arts, and she is working hard at both trusting men again and hopefully finding a thriving relationship with one special one, and also making her creativity pay her.  We have major texting discussions, or sit in one of our living rooms drinking wine, discussing life. I love this woman, she is one of my best friends, but I don’t always approve of her choices. She throws herself into different situations and then is sad about it and complains about the, mostly negative, outcomes afterwards. She sits and tells me that she is so very sorry, and she should have listened to me. Here is the thing, and this is important so I’m gonna put it italics: I don’t care what choices she makes, I just want her to live her life AND BE HAPPY ABOUT IT. (please go back and re-read that sentence… just the italics. Its ok, I’ll wait.) Ok. So here is the thing: do or don’t do, just don’t be sorry for it. If you keep doing the same thing, but not listening to either your inner voice or your friends, and you keep failing and being frustrated: CHANGE YOUR CHOICE. Please stop saying “I’m sorry.”

The thing about just throwing out “I’m sorry” is that it is easy to just move on and live your life. But as thriving humans, just saying “I’m sorry” doesn’t fix everything, and usually its only a temporary fix. You can say “I’m sorry” every day you do something wrong, and the thing is, I’m not going to believe you. Its just too easy. You’ll say the words, I’ll feel that I have to forgive you to make your life easier so we both can move past it and because it’s the polite thing, and then afterwards we will go back to living like we did before the crime was committed. And then tomorrow you’ll do the same thing. I don’t want you to be sorry. I know you are sorry that I’m mad at you. I want you to fix whatever it is and move on. I really want you to be happy. If the choice you make ends up making you happy then YAY! It might not be what I thought was best, but who friggin’ cares! As my mother says: “did you kill or hurt anyone? Did you kill or hurt yourself? No? Ok, great. Then it was a good choice.” Make your choice. Be an adult and live through it. Next time make a better choice if the outcome this time wasn’t what you wanted. If you didn’t hurt anyone, no need for an apology. (Yup, its really that simple).

Now, some situations DO call for a request for forgiveness. If you’re a person like I used to be that over used “I’m sorry” or if you’re trying to help someone else break the habit, use “I apologize” instead. Something about the word, the multiple syllables, the substitution, or maybe its because the word has the letter “z” in it, but its just a heavier word, and seems to offer something more substantial. Because of this, it means more when it is said. Stop saying “sorry” and use “apologize”. Apologize is four syllables. It takes a moment to say, and even a bigger moment to think of the word. If you’re really sorry for something “apologize.” And better yet, don’t be sorry, but instead FIX WHAT WAS WRONG. Or promise to fix it for next time—and here’s the kicker with this one—FOLLOW THROUGH. (I know. I’m tough.) Stop being sorry for being late—leave 15 minutes earlier. Don’t be sorry you forgot my birthday—offer to take me for drinks on Tuesday instead. Don’t be sorry that you once again overreacted to something I said—figure out what it is that sets you off, and either fix it yourself, or lets talk it out, I might need repair too!

When you overuse the word sorry, or just apologize for your actions, you are actually belittling yourself. You’re shrinking yourself down so I’ll see how lowly you are and forgive you because you couldn’t fix it. I rarely apologize. I make it up to the person; I fix my actions; I change future plans. Ok, so be honest… the last time you said “I’m sorry” could you have fixed it or changed it before an apology was necessary? Change your actions. Become better. Stop apologizing. Also when you over use the words, you’re abusing them. You’re making the value of actually being sorry for something, less. No one wants the value of ANYTHING to shrink. So only use “I’m sorry” or better yet “I apologize” when you really mean it. When it’s something you really need to ask forgiveness for. Don’t make yourself smaller for a mistake. Don’t make the other person feel bad because of that mistake. Fix it. Most of the time, you’ll be forgiven, especially if you prove that you’re going to make it better by changing or rearranging.

Clare

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Red Flags: Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore

“In the beginning, what red flags did you ignore?” My therapist asked me in my second session post break up. I sat there speechless for a moment. At first, I wanted to get defensive and say there weren’t any.  Then as I opened my mouth to say so, I realized it was probably not true.  She told me that there are always red flags, some flags are redder than others, but there are always red flags.  She sent me home with homework: I had to think back and spot all the red flags that I ignored.  What were they?  Why did I excuse them? How red were they?

Sitting in that office on that couch I just couldn’t admit to myself that there were red flags in a relationship that seemed so perfect.  After being out of the relationship for more than a year, I can tell you every red flag and how red it was. I can even tell you the day one flag was waving, so bright and shiny like it was waiting for a bull to come charging, and instead of paying attention, I brushed it away. Actually, I rolled it up so quickly and shoved it in a trunk and put that trunk in the back of a garage and then put things in front of that trunk hoping to pack away the existence of the flag.

Of course that never works. If you’ve been in a relationship that didn’t work out you too can look back and see the signs. If you can’t I beg you to go back. Like Clare says in Patterns Versus Change  we’ll continue the same patterns until we learn from them.

I am not saying that any of us are free of flags. I think that we all have our own flags in a variety of colors and that’s what makes us unique. But some flags should be hints while others are red alert warnings. Not every person you date will be the right match for you. My last relationship was the picture of perfection. What every girl is supposed to want. I ignored the flags because society’s idea of “perfect” trumped my idea of “perfect.” Working on my therapy homework, I unpacked the garage after leaving my session and started looking at the flags I ignored. What an eye opener that was!

What happened next? My confidence in dating, trust within myself, my own choices, and eventually, love. I grew up, grew strong, and got honest.

As a coach for relationships and goals there’s often lots of red flags that I hear about.  My Duty Dating was the perfect red flag training ever for my life. As I listen to friends, clients, people at coffee shops (I do eavesdrop, but it’s all in the name of research), I ask myself “how red is that flag” for me?  As an outside observer, things look different.  Flags that are really really red to me, might be orange to you.  Its not my job nor my place to interfere or interpret your flags. Side note: friends want your advice that doesn’t mean you can judge their flag coloring (see No More Projections Please). However observing others is a good and less invasive beginning to viewing your own flags. I want you to practice recognizing the red flags that pop up or stand out in your life and in those of others, and then also observe what patterns or feelings arise.

Lately there’s been some sadness and disappointment in the dating world with my friends, clients, even from some of you readers. You meet someone, there’s excitement, smiles, something to look forward to and plans for your weekend. Then a few dates later, combustion!  Or worse: silence. We’ve all been there, I’ve been there. Can you get upset, sad, disappointed and or stab a voo doo doll?  Sure, for a moment.  Maybe you give yourself a day; mourn the loss of “what could have been.” Then pick yourself up! Dust yourself off, and ask yourself the tough question. The honest question. What Red Flags did I ignore? What behaviors did I pay no attention to or excuse away?

Dating can be hard. Life can feel lonely. But do you really want to be with someone just so you’re not alone? I didn’t think so! Get excited about a date but remember while you’re hoping their into you make sure you’re into them! Show off your colors and take a look at all of theirs. There are two people in a relationship. Even if one of you walks away, or stops calling you, at least you will not have been a participationless bystander. You were a an equal partner in the relationship (again at least should have been). Not that I want you to think that if something didn’t work out its your fault! I am absolutely not saying that. We all have choices. We choose what to pay attention to, who to give our attention to, and how we deserve to be treated.

On your next date, instead of excusing the guttural reaction because someone is cute, your type, the first date in five years, dig deeper.  Ask the tough questions. You may be surprised. Something you thought was red is orange. Something you thought was yellow was bright freaking RED.

We have no control of others actions. We can only control our controllables. If you are honest with yourself, totally love and value yourself, those red flags will stand out like a Viking at the Art Museum (not that Vikings don’t go to art museums just that Vikings stand out pretty much anywhere).

You won’t “fall” for every opportunity…not because you’re pessimistic but because you’re in control of your ship. You have awareness of your wants, needs and desires. Red flags just get in the way of those things. They delay your happiness. Why oh why, my loves, would you let your own self get in the way of your own happiness?

Shed those red flag preventing glasses and see your own wants, desires, happiness. Let those in who support you. Show them who you are and see them for their true selves. See the red flags. See the other colors of them. Make a decision, and try it out. If it doesn’t work with this person, at least you were honest. Try the next person; maybe their flags are the right colors for you! Then you two can roll around in your other colored flags and run off into the sunset holding your sans red flags hands high!

Xx~LL

Valentines Survival: did you make it?

This week, Clare posted about Valentine’s Survival.  What did you end up doing to celebrate Valentines/Galentines/Palentines? We want to know!! REALLY!

One of Clare’s passions is cooking. On the 12th she hung out with the soulmate and they made a delicious dinner together. Then Clare made fudge on the 13th with another bestie. See the sweet video here.

On the 14th Lesley and her boyfriend did couples yoga, went on a romantic hike, and went off the grid–shutting down their phones and all devices– and spent the time with each other. Spending time together was more important than exchanging presents:

Clare and a bestie went to dinner on the 14th, saw The Last Five Years, and afterwards met composer Jason Robert Brown.

At LiveClareLesley we made our experiences surrounding Valentine’s what we personally wanted and needed. We survived Valentines, by sharing love with the people we care about. What did you do? Please share below, or Tweet and Facebook your photos and experiences and tag us, and don’t forget to add #liveclarelesley

–Love LL and Clare