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Ask A Yogi: Foot Pain During Balance Poses.

Ask A Yogi: Foot Pain During Balance Poses.

You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers!

 

Resident MBA Yogi, Amy Secrist, is available to answer questions, give insight and guidance, and help you feel great about your yoga practice. You can email your questions to Amy@mindbodyalign.com or message us on Facebook or Instagram  #AskAYogi  @MindBodyAlign 

 

Question: My feet hurt like crazy by the time I get to balancing poses.  Is this normal?

 

Amy:  Yes, it’s totally normal for your feet to feel sore after practicing standing poses

 

… especially if you’re new to yoga or just starting back up again after a break. The main reason for this is fatigue. Just like any other group of muscles, the feet get sore if we use them in a different way. For instance, when you start walking, jogging, running or training for an event, or when you add a new exercise to your lifting routine or CrossFit sequence, you definitely feel it the next day, right?  The feet respond a little quicker on the yoga mat mainly because, well, shoes. If we wear shoes more than we go barefoot, we’re not stretching or strengthening all the muscles of our feet; instead, the shoes are doing all the work of supporting our entire body while our feet stay cooped up.

When we shed our shoes and step on the yoga mat, we’re allowing our feet to stretch and strengthen, grasp and ground, root and reach.  Just one more reason yoga is awesome! For more on giving your feet some love, check out this article by Power Vinyasa Flow yoga teacher, Zainab Zakari, and keep on yoga-ing — your feet will thank you. 

You can also join Amy for practice at the Butterfly House on Mondays and Wednesdays at 9:30 am. Learn more here. 

 

 

Journey to New Perspectives: An Exploration of the Heart

Journey to New Perspectives: An Exploration of the Heart

Have you ever considered your “quality of life” from a whole-self perspective or considered the elements which create a happy and purposeful life? Possibly you have been gauging your personal success or failure against markers established by family, friends, or social networks. How do we know if our goals and resolutions are coming from our hearts, leading us to fulfillment, growth, and purpose, or if they are coming from habits or beliefs that no longer serve us?  What I intend to create with this conversation is the opportunity to explore our hearts for the truth. Let’s take time to take a journey to a new perspective. 

What would you see if you could remove from your awareness the habits, beliefs and unrequited dreams that keep you stuck? I mean really, who would you be and what would you know about yourself? Perhaps there is a way to actively move forward in creating your best life by subtly shifting your focus.

Let’s begin:  take an honest look at where you are now.

 

I have attached a Wheel of Wellbeing.  Where are you right now? Mark on this wheel from 0 to 10, 0 being no satisfaction and 10 being great satisfaction, in each category.  Please note, that there is no judgment that 0 is bad and 10 is good, it is simply an acknowledgment of what is happening in your life at this moment.  It’s important to note that each season of our life requires sacrifice. My hope is that you will approach this exercise with self-compassion. And, please read Mary’s recent blog for an amazing perspective and understanding of the seasons and sacrifices of life.

 

Next: create attainable goals using things that bring us joy.

 

Start with colored pens, (4 sheets) paper or chalkboard and colored chalks (I use lots of colors to make it visually fun). Sit quietly in contemplation or listen to your favorite “feel good” music. Write everything you love about yourself. “I love my nose, toes, ability to relate to people, health, strong voice, etc.” Remember to focus on things you love about yourself; listing things related to your mind, body, and spirit.

On another sheet of paper or a different section of the chalkboard, note everything that you love about your life. “I love my spouse, children, time that I have to read, time and money that I have to travel, that people trust me, etc.” The key to being authentic in this list is that you feel love as you recall these people and life experiences.

On the third sheet of paper or area of the chalkboard, select one person you love – again, allow yourself to feel love as you recall this person – and list everything you love about them. 

Now, you have three different lists: love of self, love of life, love of an individual. Put the elements of this list into categories that coincide with the 8 categories in the wheel of wellbeing: personal relationship, love relationships, personal growth, leisure and play, environment, life purpose, physical health, and financial health.  Feel free to add or change the title of a category as it suits you. 

 

Just one thing more.

 

Finally, based on what already brings you love and satisfaction in each category, ask yourself this question. What is one thing I can do that will bring even more love to this area of my life? Just one thing.

Now, here is a crucial part. This “one thing,” the one action you can create to bring even more love, must come from the heart or gut-brain and not the brain in our head. Our thinking mind will look first to what it doesn’t want and where you “aren’t good enough,” and second, to provide an answer for “improvement.” Are you with me? For this exercise to be authentic, you will want to allow the answer to unfold; to arrive in your mind while being immersed in the sense of loving and being loved. You will know the best action when the contemplation of it brings you joy.

 

So, let’s review.

 

What is one thing you can do to enhance what you already love about the 8 categories in the wheel of wellbeing: personal relationship, love relationship, personal growth, leisure and play, environment, life purpose, physical health, and financial health.

So much of who we are at this moment is a collection of habits and beliefs gathered throughout the years and decades of our life. Real growth doesn’t have to be difficult, and living your best life can be achieved by shifting your focus, and actively moving forward toward fulfillment.

Are you willing to take a journey to discover yourself anew? I look forward to hearing about your experience.

The Road to Wholeness is Bumpy.

The Road to Wholeness is Bumpy.

I’m Too Busy For This   

 

We live in a busy world that values busy culture. I’m busy. You’re busy. Every day I think of all the things I should be doing, could be doing, and not to mention all the things I forgot to do. My dive into “busyness” really took a turn when I became a mother. By the time this happened for me, I was well into my career. I knew I wanted to continue on this path so going back to work right away was a no-brainer for me. But I quickly found out that as much as I could balance my life on paper, it was much harder to actually do it. A statistic I recently saw said being a mother is the equivalent of 2.5 full-time jobs. So I have this BIG job, plus my career, and now… I’m left with no time or energy for me. My life went on like this for a while and, to no surprise, I lost sight of what it is that makes me happy. Of course my children and family make me happy. What I am talking about are the parts of myself that make up my personhood or my whole self. In the last year, I have made intentional efforts to understand my wholeness (or lack of it). It seems like a simple concept, and really it is, however, the crux of wholeness can be hard to fully understand. In my world, wholeness is comprised of my emotional, intellectual, physical, social, spiritual, and occupational wellbeing. I am still searching for and learning about my whole self. Here are some things I have realized along the way. 

 

I’m not the same person I used to be.

 

When my “new normal” life as a working-mother felt manageable, I started to incorporate some of the things I used to love to do. Some of my old hobbies and habits like reading and discovering new music came right back and that was cool. Some of the things I used to love didn’t make sense for me anymore like leisurely drinks with friends after work or lofty craft projects. It took me a while to understand why certain things didn’t give me the same visceral response that they used to. It’s because I am not who I was. At first, I felt sadness, like I lost a part of me in the transition. However, I did not lose these parts of myself; I chose to leave them behind when I made major, life-changing decisions. I turned the chapter on my life and my inner person evolved. When I look back on the former version of myself with a grateful heart now  I see youth and ambition and I love that woman. I also love whoever it is that I am meant to become in the rest of this story and look forward to discovering what new hobbies make her happy. 

 

I’ve got time for calm.

 

Someone wise once told me that we all have the same amount of time, and it’s what we do with it that matters. This statement has become so important on my quest toward my whole self. I am a person that loves ideas. I have so many good ones, and I want to do them all. The new version of me needs TIME to be CALM. I need to carve out time where I can process my “busy” life. I need time to check-in with myself and make sure I am taking deep breaths. I need time to sleep. I never knew before how much I needed time to be still and calm. This means I have to say “No” to so many great ideas and plans. I do experience FOMO (fear of missing out) sometimes. But I am actually living in my JOMO (joy of missing out) and it turns out it makes me really happy. 

 

One moment does not define me. 

 

One thing you hear in mindfulness practice is to approach situations with a “beginner’s mind.” We actually say this at the Butterfly House on a weekly basis (it’s one of our core values!)  but it wasn’t until I saw it in my own life that it became clear to me. In the wake of my new role as a mother I also lost my job. I was certain that everyone could see the failure in my eyes. I actually believed I was a failure. This false perception of reality made me recoil from all the things that brought me joy because I believed I didn’t deserve to be happy.  This is where the beginner’s mind comes into play. Beginner’s mind is an approach to something as if you have no prior knowledge of it. In beginner’s mind, you have no existing bias towards the situation. When I look at my whole life with beginner’s mind I see that I am actually pretty great. This one moment in my story doesn’t define me. I’ve taken risks, and I am resilient. I am capable and I am evolving. Sometimes you have to step back and observe, without judgment or bias, to see the real picture clearly. I do deserve to be happy. Just because I have failed at something does not make me a failure.

 

It’s a bumpy and beautiful road

 

My path to wholeness is a bumpy road. It’s also beautiful. Even though I am nowhere near a perfectly balanced life, it feels good to just be aware that my whole self is alive and well.  Some days I spend a little more time on my emotional self. Some days I really dig into my spiritual self. Some days I just give my efforts to the part of my life that needs it the most at that moment. I make an effort to find time to reflect on my life, and I use a beginner’s mind to not cast (as much) judgment on myself. I found this easy exercise to help me gauge where I am in each area of my whole self (I’ve linked this exercise below so you can do it, too). During this exercise, you rank each area (emotional, intellectual, physical, social, spiritual, and occupational) on a scale of 1 to 5 depending on how much joy you perceive. Once you’re done, a circle is formed that represents your wholeness. This exercise can help you find an area you want to focus on and make a start. Just know that your circle may never be perfectly round. Your circle, like mine, is probably a little lumpy…and that’s ok. 

Whole Self Circle Exercise

The Unexamined Life

The Unexamined Life

Many people talk about life as being in balance or, more commonly,  “out of balance”, and yet, I’m curious, how many of those same people have defined what balance is, or means, to them?  Have you? Are you happy, fulfilled, “living your best life?” Would you consider yourself successful, or “living a life of purpose?”  These are very popular questions in an age where more people than ever before have food, shelter, time, and money; enough of each to consider the finer points and purpose of life. And, whether acknowledged or not, the answers to these questions are likely fueling your goals and resolutions for 2020.   So, before you dive into creating your goals, resolutions, and intentions for the new year, I hope you will consider the following things I’ve learned about happiness, fulfillment, success, life purpose, and balance (aka “these states of being”).

  • These states of being are all subjective.  They are based on personal desires, interests, expectations, habits, beliefs, and each individual’s unique way of experiencing the world.  You may think this is obvious, and yet it is easy to forget this very important point when reading and learning from experts who are charismatic, articulate, and learned.  Always “check it at the door” as I say to my clients and students. Check everything the experts tell you (and I tell you) with your own heart and gut. You’ll know when a particular piece of advice is right for you by how you feel when you begin to incorporate it into your life.  If it doesn’t increase your joy or contribute to your sense of purpose, it probably isn’t right for you.

 

  • “Everyone walks their own Camino.”  This is a phrase spoken over and over again while hiking the Camino de Santiago; a 400 plus mile hike that my husband and I walked from France through Spain to Santiago de Compostela.  Another way of putting this is, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” a well-known quote by Teddy Roosevelt. Your best life can’t and won’t look like anyone else’s best life. In fact, your best life today is different than your best life yesterday and tomorrow. 

 

  • These states of being are dependent on whatever is happening in your world at any given moment. Your ability to manage the things life throws at you will change based on factors you CAN CONTROL (nutrition, exercise, sleep, mindset, self-talk, how you treat others, and your choices) and things you CAN’T CONTROL (past, future, weather, change, other people’s minds, other people’s happiness, and traffic).  One of the keys to finding joy and fulfillment is to invest your energy and time on things you can influence; make the effort to control the things you CAN CONTROL and let go of the things you can’t.  

 

  • I’m a big fan of the Peter Drucker quote, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.” If you have never defined what a fulfilled, happy, successful, and balanced life is to you, how do you know how to navigate and when to recalibrate?  Use tools like vision boarding and Wheel of Life to create personal understanding and support you in living your best life. 

 

  • Gratitude!  Really, appreciate it, all of it – even the yucky stuff!  This is the essence of life. 

Socrates or Plato (both are credited) said, “The unexamined life is not worth living?”  I disagree. I do believe, however, that the examined life 1) makes it possible to understand your unique self, 2) provides you with information you need to set fulfilling and purposeful goals, 3) allows for compassion when life gets tough, 4) offers structure in order to recalibrate and learn, and 5) encourages gratitude and a joyful approach to everything life offers you.    One morning when I encountered an acquaintance on the street, I said, “Isn’t this a beautiful day to be alive?” His answer still resonates with me, “every day I wake up is a beautiful day to be alive.”  Welcome to one more beautiful day friends!!!   Sending you love and a great big new years hug!   Annamarie

Ditch the Holiday Hustle

Ditch the Holiday Hustle

With the hustle and bustle that surround us this time of year, it can feel exhausting to try to cut through the noise and find a moment of calm for ourselves. I love this post by Lysianne Unruh that asks 5 simple questions meant to help you focus on what matters most during the holidays.
Click here to read Lysianne’s original post and put her wise words to use in the coming weeks.
A Holiday Meditation

A Holiday Meditation

Each week our team at Mind Body Align gathers on Tuesday afternoons for a brief group mindfulness meditation. It’s a chance to connect not just as colleagues but as humans “being”.  This was my week to lead and I really felt pulled toward this fabulous meditation from Jack Kornfield as our monthly topic of gratitude was coming to a close plus we are all about to celebrate Thanksgiving.

I love the way it reminds us to begin our gratitude meditation by recognizing the way we feel and how we have cared for ourselves, then we express gratitude for all things and finally we move to express gratitude for others and wish them joy.

We were so moved by the words that we began our Coffee Talk with the meditation and now we want for you to be able to access it throughout the holiday season and beyond.

Meditation on Gratitude and Joy by Jack Kornfield

Let yourself sit quietly and at ease. Allow your body to be relaxed and open, your breath natural, your heart easy. Begin the practice of gratitude by feeling how year after year you have cared for your own life. Now let yourself begin to acknowledge all that has supported you in this care:

With gratitude I remember the people, animals, plants, insects, creatures of the sky and sea, air and water, fire and earth, all whose joyful exertion blesses my life every day.

With gratitude I remember the care and labor of a thousand generations of elders and ancestors who came before me.

I offer my gratitude for the safety and well-being I have been given.

I offer my gratitude for the blessing of this earth I have been given.

I offer my gratitude for the measure of health I have been given.

I offer my gratitude for the family and friends I have been given.

I offer my gratitude for the community I have been given.

I offer my gratitude for the teachings and lessons I have been given.

I offer my gratitude for the life I have been given.

Just as we are grateful for our blessings, so we can be grateful for the blessings of others.

Continue to breathe gently. Bring to mind someone you care about, someone it is easy to rejoice for. Picture them and feel the natural joy you have for their well-being, for their happiness and success. With each breath, offer them your grateful, heartfelt wishes:

May you be joyful.

May your happiness increase.

May you not be separated from great happiness.

May your good fortune and the causes for your joy and happiness increase.

Sense the sympathetic joy and caring in each phrase. When you feel some degree of natural gratitude for the happiness of this loved one, extend this practice to another person you care about. Recite the same simple phrases that express your heart’s intention.

Then gradually open the meditation to include neutral people, difficult people, and even enemies until you extend sympathetic joy to all beings everywhere, young and old, near and far.

Practice dwelling in joy until the deliberate effort of practice drops away and the intentions of joy blend into the natural joy of your own wise heart.

You can read the original post on Jack Kornfield’s website here

Living Beyond the Blocks

Living Beyond the Blocks

The age-old question of– “If you could go back in time what would you do differently?” has been asked by so many people.  I’ve asked myself this question many times and others have asked me more times than I can remember. I have replied that, if given the chance, I would definitely change many things. But why did I say this?  Why would I want to go back and change anything? This response says to others and myself, “Boy, I really screwed that up” or “I’m so embarrassed that I keep making the same mistakes over and over” or “What the hell is wrong with me?” 

These thoughts and feelings have plagued me the majority of my life. It’s amazing how our mind comes up with a need to defend why we did or didn’t do something. When we feel compelled to justify something, maybe it’s a decision to stay in an unhealthy relationship, that very need to justify the decision is the body’s way of letting us know it time to release it from our life.  To start anew.  How free would it feel if we could just accept what we’ve “screwed up” in our past? Or not knowing how something will go or what our next step will be and saying, “I love that!”. In this instance, freedom comes from knowing we always have that choice. 

We have two voices that can tell us the next step…the first comes from the body.  Your body says to make a change and release what you’re holding onto, but the mind starts to freak out.  It goes to what we will be giving up or losing because it can’t see what we’ll be gaining. The mind can only see one step ahead and it wants to keep us safe.  So, the body says, “I want to explore Arizona to live.” “I really want to start my own business.” “I want to leave this relationship.” Whatever the inspired feeling is, it is a preview, but the feeling can’t tell you why you should go or what that journey will look like because you haven’t done it.  Learn to love and trust the space of the unknown. Instead, what if you were to say, “I want to explore Arizona to live and grow my business, and I have no clue what that looks like…and I love that!!” or “I can’t take the abuse in this marriage anymore. I really don’t know where I’m going to live or how I’m going to make it on my own…and I love that!!” There’s something in our body calling us to do this – it’s our first voice, our true voice.  But we’ve been conditioned to ignore this voice and listen to the voice in our head, which then causes us to lower ourselves to the mind’s understanding. Every time I listen to my mind I feel confused, disconnected, and overwhelmed. We are not designed to make decisions from our minds because that comes from a limited capacity. Our true potential and capacity lie within the body, and the body never lies.   

Being okay with where we really are creates a new story.  The real story. We have to see and know that we are enough or we’ll always be coming from a place that is lacking. In this place, we may believe we need to be fixed or try to fix everyone or everything around us.  In my life, I felt like I wasn’t enough. I felt guilty and embarrassed for the choices I had made. In my heart I can understand at a true level why I did, but what caused my pain was wanting those around me to understand why.  We are taught that happiness, love, and approval comes from outside ourselves, and so the journey of constantly chasing our tails in hopes of finding the perfect job, the perfect mate, the perfect blah-blah-blah becomes our false reality.  It’s really hard to have clarity when we’re always looking through a distorted lens. Living from a limited perspective creates hidden blockers. No wonder we’re always wishing we could go back in time for a do-over.   

Could you be telling a different story?  Are you carrying your past with you and making decisions from that past instead of from the here and now?  How have you viewed yourself, and are you afraid of what you’ll be losing? Making decisions that you think are in the here and now but are really based on how you view yourself will show up in how things are flowing in your life.  Do you feel alive and performing at your highest level or do feel overwhelmed and frustrated? If you’re feeling the latter that is an indication you’re living and making decisions from your head.  

Be open to being you and creating something new.  Loving the space of the unknown is where the magic happens, and that’s where the byproduct of you living in your highest self resides.  In remembering the body never lies you’ll listen and trust it. Living life beyond the blocks you will perform, excel, achieve, and actualize the life of your dreams.  So, would I ever go back in time and change anything?  Absolutely not, because now is all I have. To go back would be creating a false story attached to some illusionary expectations that were never real to begin with.  I’m right where I want to be and I’m right on time.  

Oh, one more thing…I’m totally free to screw anything and everything up, AND I LOVE THAT!! 

Open yourself to gratitude

Open yourself to gratitude

We all know that Gratitude is something that we “should” practice in order to live a happier life. But, why? What happens in the body and mind when we practice gratitude and the act of being grateful?

I’ve realized a lot of “being grateful” comes from being without. It might sound like a cliché question, but do you truly know what you have until it’s gone? Once you miss something and realize its importance in your life, you become grateful for it. That feeling of gratitude helps to ground you,  especially when you are always moving on with your busy life.

A personal example of gratitude in my life is our first pregnancy. After 15 weeks of being pregnant, my husband and I found out we miscarried. I remember gratitude was not even a word in my vocabulary. I went to the extreme of not being grateful for a thing: focusing on only the negative. This, not surprisingly, made my life more negative than before. I was envious of all the women I saw just being happy. What I realized was that my focus was only on myself. Our miscarriage did not just happen to me, it happened to our family. The situation affected everyone. When I took a step back and became grateful for my life, and everything I have- my relationships with my husband, family, and friends- it helped to strengthen all of my positive emotions. My body and mind became more open to all that I have in my life to be grateful for. 

Something I learned after this was that both positivity and negativity feed off each other. In every situation, you choose the energy you put into the world. For example, once I started not being consumed with the negativity in my life, the storm blew away. After the storm, we were blessed with our rainbow baby, a boy we named Asher. Keeping in mind for every negative there is a positive, you just have to open your mind and be grateful for what you have. Don’t wait until you are without those precious things to recognize their importance to you. 

 Here are 3 ways to be more grateful and have gratitude in your everyday life:

  • Start with being present. 
  • Make the time to be grateful – This might sound like the easiest, but when and how much time do you actually take to do this? 
  • Be social about your joy and sharing those moments!
Grateful for the Gift

Grateful for the Gift

As I write this, the late evening sunlight is shining through purple-gray clouds.  It is the golden hour – that time before dark when everything is bathed in a soft yellow light.  Autumn in Ohio is in full bloom – bright oranges and reds and yellows, and I can hear the sound of the wind blowing through trees.

For me, it is easy to be grateful in the fall.  I love the cool air and crisp colors. I love cooking soups and stews and baking treats laced with cinnamon.  I am a pastor, and when I step outside and see the canvas that for me is God’s creation, I thank God. 

The first prayer my husband and I taught our sons was “Thank you, God.”  When my boys were toddlers this was our prayer before meals – and still is.  I will always remember their first prayers: “Thank you God for Daddy. Thank you, God, for the backhoe loader.  Thank you, God, for grapes.” We thank God before meals and at the end of the day after we read our books and sing our songs and before I pray a blessing over each boy, we say thank you to God for the day.

I try to teach my children to live gratefully, but I’m not always good at saying thank you myself.  While I was packing for my family’s move from Crestline to Mansfield last year I stumbled upon a box containing a few thank you notes I wrote after my wedding – 11 years ago. Somehow this stack had never been mailed, and I felt the guilt of the thing I should have done but never did. You know those thoughtful people who are always sending cards– thank yous and birthdays and thinking of you notes?  I am not one of them.  

I want to get better at thanking the people in my life.  I want them to know I am thankful for them. I want to be more grateful.  I have read about the research saying people who practice gratitude are happier.  So I try to be thankful but it’s easy to forget. My spiritual director advised me to begin each day with a list of things I’m grateful for.  Sometimes I remember, but most days the alarm clock goes off, and I immediately begin thinking of all that I need to do. Maybe my checklist could become a prayer of thanksgiving as I look ahead to the opportunities I will be given each and every day.

Practicing gratitude has helped me get through the most difficult seasons of my life.  When I’m frustrated with my job, I think of the things I have because of it: clothing and food and a home.  When I reach out to friends or colleagues, I feel grateful for the support they provide. When I face conflict I practice thanking God for the person with whom I’m in conflict.  This helps me to see them as a human being – a person with unique strengths and weaknesses; a person who I believe is, like every person in the world, created in the image of God.  Being grateful simply makes life better.

For me, gratitude is about saying thank you – and it’s also about seeing life as a gift.  My grateful response is to offer myself in service to the one who I believe is the giver, and also to the people around me: my family, my colleagues, my parishioners, and the people I encounter wherever I go.  

How does your perspective change when you begin to think of life as a gift?  How does that sense of giftedness color the people and the world around you?

When I forget that my life is a gift, I am called back by the simplest things: a sunrise, a yoga class, the sound of my children’s giggles.  So as autumn turns to winter and the colors change to brown and gray, I will remember the life that’s waiting beneath the frost. And I will keep saying thank you.

 

Focusing, Re-branding, and Including

Focusing, Re-branding, and Including

In March 2018, I was one of 15 people from Mansfield who went to the South by Southwest Conference (SXSW) in Austin, Texas. The original intent of the trip, which was funded by a grant from the Richland County Foundation, was to come back with ideas on how to continue the revitalization of the central business district in Mansfield. What evolved from that trip was the Mansfield Rising Plan which the Foundation now uses to prioritize its investments in downtown

Prior to our departure, Richland Source President Jay Allred, who has attended many SXSW conferences, described SXSW to our group as drinking from a firehose of information. He said we would feel like our hair was on fire.

That was an understatement. 

The amount of information was unimaginable, the quality of the information was mind-blowing. 

Mind Body Align Founder Annamarie Fernyak speaks about being mindful and present. Being among 30,000 people in a six-block radius does not lend itself to being mindful and present but you find yourself quickly becoming just that. You cannot possibly think about which session you will attend later or tomorrow or three days from now. You must focus on where you are and who is speaking to you in that moment. The hustle and bustle outside your conference room door or down on the street is not for you. 

I would love to tell you I heard one speaker at SXSW who changed everything for me but that is not true. I heard many speakers whom I gleaned tidbits of information from to bring back to Mansfield. 

One of my favorite speakers was Bozoma Saint John, Chief Brand Officer with Uber at the time. She spoke about rebranding while unapologetically wearing a sequin jumpsuit in the middle of the day. 

Listening to her speak about the importance of branding and sometimes re-branding, I started to think about the things that come out of our mouths when someone tilts their head to the side and says, “Mansfield?  Where’s that?” We all say the same thing. We say, “About an hour between Cleveland and Columbus.  Have you seen Shawshank Redemption?” Bozoma made me think… What if we re-branded Mansfield?  What if we mentioned Cleveland, Columbus, and Shawshank after telling people about how amazing Mansfield is to live, work, and gather?

Bozoma also spoke about the need for racial and gender diversity. I think we can do better with both. She said people like to say, “there’s a pipeline problem” with equity in diversity in the workforce. Bozoma says, “That’s bullshit.” She talked about the need for white men to look around in their office and say, “there’s a lot of white men here. Let’s change that.” Why does she, the one black woman, have to change it? She believes it’s a comfortability issue, not a pipeline issue. The question becomes, are we reflecting the population we’re trying to serve and are we willing to make the changes necessary to do so?

Back to her sequin jumpsuit. She said, “I’m a woman who wears sequins in the daytime. I’m not afraid of a lot. There’s a lot happening around women and diversity empowerment. I intend to step right in there with my sequins and bust it right open.” 

Let’s all be more like Bozoma. Let’s invite more people of color to the table. Let’s open more doors for women. Let’s include those who haven’t been included before. Let’s reach back and lift up someone younger. Because let’s be honest, we can all think of a time when we didn’t feel included because of our gender, age, race, otherness. Let’s do what we can to be more like Bozoma, although I’ll do it in a plain black dress and pearls instead of sequins.