Real Talk for the Day

My, it has been a rough couple of weeks. Not only has my heart felt heavy with recent events (the hurricanes, the Las Vegas shooting, and the Sonoma fires), my own life has felt flooded lately. With all the going, going, going, it has left me feeling utterly…gone. I talk so much about self-care and putting on our own oxygen mask first. I have been so busy running around that somewhere along the way I completely forgot to take care of myself. Can I get some oxygen, please?

I am reminded today of how important it is to protect our boundaries and our hearts. I have had to take a close look lately at my intense desire to please everyone else. In my process of saying “yes” all the time to others, I have said “no” to myself as a result. And while it can be so easy in the moment to people please and do what everyone asks, the wear and tear on my body and spirit is a slow and subtle change that has now become prominent.

I realized this on Friday. I had just flown back from speaking at Syracuse University and I as I went to unlock my car, I realized that my keys were not in my purse. With no idea what happened to them, I knew the rest of the day would be a challenge. It was. I have struggled to share my own experience with anxiety, but here it is. I had a full blown panic attack in that Uber ride back to my apartment. I emptied my purse because I thought I was going to throw up. Thankfully I didn’t but it was in that Uber ride that I realized, I need to take better care of myself.

Losing keys happens. There are so many worse things that occur each and every day. But we all reach that breaking point when enough is enough. It’s time to practice what I preach. It’s time to start respecting my heart, my body, and my future. I want to be mindful about what I chose to say yes to, and not live in fear when I need to say no. Even though I worry that I may disappoint others by saying no, I have to remember that respecting myself needs to come as a top priority. When I don’t keep myself healthy, it makes it so much harder to give back graciously and openly. This is the mindset I am take with me in the coming months.

My values are shifting. As I prepare to get married next year, I am reminded of how much I value my relationship with my fiancé and building a home together. I am happiest when I am spending time with those I love. I want to start living with more balance so that I can live in alignment with these values. #priorities

There is my heart dump for the day. So often I keep these things to myself but I am trying this whole humanness thing. This is about becoming a human being, rather than a human doing.

Sending love to you wherever you are at. I know it’s not easy, but I hope you’re able to live in alignment with your values as well. One day at a time, right?

Keep shining,

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

You Are Enough

As the school year begins, we place a lot of high expectations on ourselves. As great as it is to go into the year with goals, we have to be careful that those goals don’t turn into a competition with our peers. If we’re not careful, we’ll end up sizing ourselves up next to our classmates, our roommates—even our friends (without even realizing it!). All of sudden, we get those nagging feelings of resentment, jealousy, and uncertainty about ourselves. That little voice within tells us that we are inferior, insufficient—that not only will we not reach those goals, but we will also fail entirely.

Well, that took a dark turn.

Thankfully, we can turn it around. Rather than compare ourselves to others, we can find opportunities to learn from one another and in the process, learn to love ourselves. If you don’t foster a love for yourself and what you stand for, all of the knowledge, self-care, and resources are meaningless. I cannot make you care about yourself: only you can do that. Of course, I can tell you that you are valuable, worthwhile, and loved but only you can believe that.

I know you might have doubts about yourself; perhaps you think you aren’t “enough,” but will you do something for me? Will you read the following sentence and truly believe it?

I am enough.

You are enough. I am enough. Just as we are. Do you believe this? Life is going to be a long journey if you cannot start accepting yourself for the imperfectly perfect person that you are. We all have made mistakes, and we will continue to do so (myself included!). That is the essence of being human. But it is also the essence of humanness that includes goodness, compassion, and kindness. I believe that you already possess all that inherent goodness within you. You just have to own that and know that you are entirely wonderful.

As you read this, ask yourself what FIVE qualities make you AMAZING? Embrace it!

Many of my clients speak words of shame to themselves. I often hear the following come out of their mouth on a weekly basis:

  • I’m not smart enough.
  • I’m not talkative enough.
  • I’m not pretty/handsome enough.
  • I’m not funny enough.
  • I’m not cool enough.
  • I’m not thin/strong enough.

The list could go on and on. But let’s stop this list. Rather than compare ourselves to others, let’s remember that we are enough as we are. It’s not about comparison. There can be room for everyone to succeed. I know that I have days when I feel insufficient, and days when I have doubts, but I have to remind myself: I am enough. And if someone thinks that I am not enough? Then that is their loss and someone else’s gain. I trust that even when someone says “no” to me or denies me an opportunity, something better is meant to come along. I believe this for your life as well.

Remember, you are skilled enough, you are smart enough, you are dedicated enough to accomplish what you are seeking to do. If you compare yourself to others, we all will fall short in one way or another. So instead, hold yourself to your own highest standard and seek to meet that potential. That’s all that you owe to yourself.

Keep shining,

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

New Village Girls Academy

I wanted to share about a recent experience that I had. It was such a meaningful afternoon that I couldn’t keep it to myself.

As you might know, one of my favorite things to do is public speaking. Being surrounded by a room full of people is nerve-wracking, yes, but exciting more than anything. Whether it’s 100 people in the room, or 800, I love that energy that you only get from sharing that space together.

This talk that I did recently was different though. There were only 5 girls in the room, all 16 or 17 years old. I visited New Village Girls Academy and we spent the afternoon talking about goal setting, mentorships, and facing your fears.

Before I go on, I have to say, these girls BLEW ME AWAY.

Each of those girls had been through hardships. At their young age, many of them had already had experiences with family distress, abuse, and violence. You’d think they might feel defeated. In fact, perhaps annoyed that they had to meet with someone to talk about planning for the future.

And yet, it was exactly the opposite. I have never seen such motivation, such passion in such a group. When it came to writing our goals down, they each filled the page to the max. These girls shared goals like becoming an attorney, gynecologist, or firefighter. They dreamed of traveling the world, meeting influential individuals, and building stronger relationships with their loved ones. They needed more space to keep writing.

What really blew me away was their hunger to succeed. I have to be honest with you. There are many times when I’m in an audience, often with those who have great families, safe neighborhoods, and excellent schools. And yet when I ask them their goals, they often look back blankly and don’t bother writing a single goal down. While I don’t pretend to know why it is that they don’t want to write anything down, it reminded me of the stark contrast of the girls from New Village Girls Academy.

These girls believe that they can be different. They believe that they don’t have to fit a statistic—they can break the mold and they can beat the expectations. With all the hardships they have faced, it is beyond inspiring to see their energy for life and their will to overcome.

Here is the website of the Academy if you’d like to learn more: https://newvillagegirlsacademy.org/

Let’s remember to never stop setting our sights high, no matter what battles we are braving. We each have our own story but I believe that story can include success. Those girls reminded me of that.

Keep shining,

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook
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