When I started taking singing lessons and acting lessons, I discovered visibility. I discovered self-expression. I discovered what power really is.
Me, the former couch potato!
opinionated kid (so my mother said), who learned to hold it all back and be "appropriate"! Me, who continuously yielded the "stage" to my mother because even though she was a well-known classical pianist in the Cincinnati area back in the 1960's and early 1970's, she was also dying of cancer, and I was terrified of being more than her; it would have been disloyal and would have taken from her the only place she alone shone. It would have been competition with a woman I adored.
So I held back. I quieted down. I self-doubted. Constantly.
I learned to school myself with negative talk: Don't be so visible! God you're so stupid - you don't know for sure if you're right, so shut up!!!
As I grew older, I looked for proof that I was off course, because I no longer knew when I was on course, and I needed to try to understand the parameters of life. And when Mom passed, I realized I had no idea whatsoever who I was.
Until I started acting and singing.
Then I recognized myself. I felt FREE to express myself. I also recognized that I didn't feel that same freedom in my daily and work life.
Why? I did the traditional "it's my parents' fault" look at my childhood, but that yielded no answers that set me free. I did therapy, and that helped a great deal in learning about how to say something that I had held back for too long - how to say it without "burning down the house".
I have to say that the answers I found surprised me.
I was "taking responsibility for" my life and my personal growth, but taking responsibility kind of left other types of stressors out of the equation! In my mind, taking responsibility for me meant that I had to fix myself because somewhere I alone had gone wrong; in other words, it was "all my fault". But what about what had shaped me? What about what I wasn't even seeing as a catalyst for my holding back from free self-expression?
Once I saw it, I couldn't unsee it.
All of us women - and men - have grown up in an environment that favors masculine self-expression over feminine self-expression. We have grown up in an environment that celebrates the sexy woman and demeans the powerful woman. Women, not being as physically safe as men are in this culture, learn to be careful. Very careful. So it should come as no surprise that self-expression - authentic self-expression - and visibility become a tricky landscape to traverse.
Being self-expressive means to be seen. It means to be courageous. It means to be artful in how we speak up, rather than being silent.
As entrepreneurs and businesswomen, we women are at a social and personal crossroads. Want your business to be powerful? Want your business to be seen? Then you have to not just show up on the stage or in the boardroom, but you have to hold the floor. You have to take the stage. You have to own the room.
And how you do that has to include the feminine values that even the Marketing world appropriates! You have to be authentic, which means you have to allow emotion to be present. You have to be bold enough to express - to yourself - your bald, core emotional message that fuels your efforts. You have to be courageous enough to allow yourself to be seen. Strange as it may sound, you also have to be courageous enough to allow yourself to have fun expressing yourself, right out loud!
When it comes to self-expression on stage, doing this is a get-out-of-jail-free card. In my 30's I learned to inhabit my body, to stretch my arms wide - literally - and feel what it feels like to take up space, and feel good about it!
The stage became my healing ground. My proving ground, too. I came face-to-face with my hesitations, my misunderstandings, my self-doubt. And I taught myself how to walk through them into greater and greater freedom.
And it was - and is - there on the theatre stage, and on the "stage" of life with others, that I find my challenge and invitation to share my joy, my core message, my teachings, and my companionship with other women who are ready to be seen, and to be powerful game-changers in this world.
Entrepreneur, Actor, Speaker and Rebellious Game-Changer - that's me. I coach women, helping them recognize, understand and break out of the social "shoulds" to become empowered, powerful and masterful communicators, on stage and off.