Lessons From An Olympian: When You Fall, Get Back On The Beam

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Every night this week, I’ve screamed like a kid watching the American Olympic Team swim, dive, leap, run, and spike balls across nets. I’ve loved watching Team U.S.A. win, especially Ann Arbor’s own Michael Phelps, who, as of this writing, did the impossible and won a record-breaking goal of 8 gold medals for his swimming prowess. But I’ve loved watching our team members lose, because it’s been there that I’ve seen the greatest courage saw the greatest courage and the hardest lessons learned. Take the case of the American women’s gymnastics team, and most particularly Alicia Sacramone. I’d already taken …

A Platter Of Poppies

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As soon as she gave her hand to him in marriage, the giving began in earnest: When he balked at spending time with her beloved extended family, she gave in. When he refused to let her relatives call her by her childhood nickname, she gave over. When he belittled her dream to act in community theatre productions, she gave it up. Bit by bit, she gave in, gave over and gave up precious pieces of her very essence, until, under her husband’s stern, unyielding and belittling ministry, she shriveled to the merest wisp of her former self– her passions, her …

When We Dwell In Bittertown: Moving Beyond Misery

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It’s happened to all of us: Just when we think things are going swell, something or somebody comes along and knocks the stuffing right out of us. Demoralized, mis-understood, mis-treated and miserable, we pack our bags and move to Bittertown, where we threaten to remain for good… or at least until we get our come-uppance…someday… somehow. Some of us never make it out of Bittertown. Bittertown: Where, to quote my own song lyrics (BITTERTOWN, © 2007 E.Kelakos) “the coffee’s always black and it burns you going down”… Bittertown, where the café’s are filled with has-beens and never-weres… where you share …

Walking Into the Wind

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Sometimes, for whatever reason, it is all we can to do put one foot ahead the other and take a faltering step forward. And yet, one foot, one step after the other, is all is takes to get us where we need to go—even when the icy winds of our fears conspire to blow us back. I recently facilitated a retreat called “What’s Next?” with my friend and colleague, Chris Wucherer. We were gratified that thirteen wonderful women signed up with the intention of tapping into their deepest wisdom, revitalizing their precious dreams and mapping out specific action steps towards …

When the Well Runs Dry: Priming the Creative Pump

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Let’s face it: Even the most seasoned speakers and performers among us experience the feeling of being “tapped out,” of having their creative or emotional well run dry. It’s not always easy having to “come up with it” time after time, speech after speech, audience after audience. Sometimes, too many consecutive days on the road, or a couple of tough audiences in a row can leave us feeling tired, raw and cranky. And yet, there we are, facing yet another performance, another presentation, another audience. And our audience is expecting us to be at our best, even if we’re not …

The Fallen Actor

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My coaching clients often ask me “What should I do if something horrible happens while I’m giving my speech? What if I completely lose my place/trip as I walk to the podium and scatter my notes/go utterly blank?” My answer is this: Take a lesson from the Fallen Actor. By the third mind-blowing day of the International Performing Arts for Youth conference, I had seen so much amazing, brilliantly produced theatre and storytelling for children, that I was convinced I couldn’t be further impressed. I was dead wrong. The magic happened in a small dark theatre, as I watched two …

SPEEK’s Process Work: Beginning, Middle and (No) End.

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Someone recently asked me to define what I call “Process Work.” I thought about it for a couple of minutes and said, “Process work is the work we do on a moment-by-moment, day-by-day basis—on ourselves as people, and on the skills and talents that we use in our chosen career path. Process work has a beginning, a middle and no end—It is work that spans and defines our lifetimes.” Anyone who has ever opted for Psychotherapy understands the concept—and value—of process work—as do professional actors. Actors understand that the process of learning to be the best actor they can be …

The Imps of Fear

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When it comes to public speaking, we all face fear, to a certain degree. I like to imagine that we have little Imps of Fear, dancing gleefully on our shoulders, whispering in our ears: “You stink! You’re gonna fail! Everyone will see you’re (pick one) a fraud/ stupid/ a jerk!!!!” Sometimes they are easy to shoo away– but sometimes they are loud enough to pull us off task– if we let them. Debra Messing, who plays Grace on television’s WILL AND GRACE, is apparently terrified of public speaking– and this is a seasoned actress who has no trouble facing a …