Even If Your Voice Shakes

The best advice I ever received was ‘speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.’ I’m not even sure where I first heard it but it resonates deeply with me. 

I have always loved to read and write, something my mother influenced in me. I enjoy those things but sharing raw, personal information, having uncomfortable or difficult conversations doesn’t always come as easily whether in print or in-person. 

Over recent (…and ongoing!) years of maturity and self-boldness even if I feel fear, I push myself to have conversations that may be tough but need to happen. Whether it is addressing a crack in a friend or familial relationship, being vulnerable with sharing how much someone means to me, getting real with people about physical or mental health concerns, kicking myself in the pants often to progress or needing to get on the same page with people who are different so we can achieve goals at work or beyond. 

My mom told me if you have compassion and you show that in your delivery whenever you talk with people, they will receive it in the spirit you meant rather than be offended, upset or simply ignore you. Part of what we are accountable to with people is what we say but the other part is how we say it. 

Gear shift…

This week on the 26th marks my two year blog anniversary. My time flies. This is an exciting time because I am looking forward to exploring new mediums in addition to tradition blog-style writing like video blogging (vlogging for you hip folks). 

I will still keep writing every week because my content will be a little different. I am currently working on content for a YouTube channel with some fun topics about beauty, travel, food, fun, art and lots more. 

It took me a long time to try it. I kept talking about all these ideas and did nothing with them. Eventually, I had to feel the fear and do it anyway. That’s actually a blog topic for another day. Getting over the anxiety of trying something new. The fear of failure or the comparison drug that keeps one looking at someone else’s yard instead of focusing on our own. Hoping for the freedom someone else has without doing the work to gain it on your own. Be bold and go for what you want and need in this life. 

I am passionate about connecting across the globe – both near and far – with people I can both share with and learn from. I know as my digital network expands in the future it will always be a clear value to speak the truth even if my voice shakes. 

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Reflections: From Chicago to Central America…My Journey Abroad

In 2009 during college, I lived in Central America for four months…Nicaragua to be exact, a beautiful country nestled between Honduras and Costa Rica. 

When I first landed was immediately overwhelmed by the decision I made. I didn’t know the language, missed my family and had no clue what to expect from the adventure to come. 

Connecting to people back home wasn’t nearly as easy as you’d expect, often relying on unreliable internet connections for Skype video chats or international phone calls. My boyfriend being the amazing person he is, helped to make hundreds of miles in distance feel like down the street whenever we did speak. 

My first moment of relief came a few days in after I met my host family. 

We pulled up to their home and called ‘Buenas’ inside the front gate. Maria and Alex appeared at the door and I immediately felt a wave of peace and calm over me. It was incredible and they took care of me like my own parents would over the following months that I lived there.

We struggled communicating at first with the language barrier but eventually I learned more Spanish and they got comfortable using the English words they knew. We made it work. 

Most mornings in my Nica home, I didn’t need an alarm for the neighborhood roosters were a standing substitute. We also had street vendors daily walking past our house at the sight of dawn selling fruits and vegetables. I can still hear the lady yelling AGUACATE over and over, hoping for customers to buy up her box of avocados. 

I was fortunate enough to have not just a loving host family but a friend from college lived there. Her family had settled not far from my barrio as missionaries. Having that family there was another sign that I was exactly where I should be and God would look out for me wherever I landed the world.  

I miss those days often now when I reflect back. It was a fun, challenging experience and a time of tremendous growth for me. 
Over that short time which felt like forever on days when I missed home, I really grew up. You learn so much about yourself when you travel, especially alone. 

We trekked between Nicaragua and Costa Rica – beautiful lands with beautiful people. I am grateful for the friends I knew and met along the way. 

Many Nica friends became like family and my own family and friends back home were incredibly supportive during my months away. Some days I simply missed home even when I no longer cared about the cushy comforts of living in the States. It was great to have good people near and far. In fact, my host Maria still rings me every now and then and we struggle through our broken shared languages haha. I got really good at Spanish in Nicaragua when it was everywhere I went. I needed it to survive really. I haven’t been as diligent since returning home though my goal one day is fluency.

I have been thinking about Nicaragua a lot lately as I feel my passport’s need to travel becoming restless again. I want to be moving around the world with my partner. I want us to visit new places and see new faces and soak in life in beautifully unexpected new ways. 

Me on top of a volcano

I overcame a lot of fear and doubt when I lived abroad. I did things I maybe thought I could never do. When I read over the very raw emotions I shared on a basic blog at the time, it is so clear I journeyed a long way physically, mentally and spiritually during those days away from the comforts of home. I am the better for it and it is a good reminder that no mountain is too big to climb. 

Baby Fullard Has Arrived!

Today is such a special day. We welcomed my nephew into the world and he is simply perfection.

It has been a bit of a hellish experience for my sister who was in the hospital 40 hours before the baby arrived. We are exhausted and will be recovering for a couple more days. Birth plans changed and there was a lot of pain involved but we are ultimately thankful for a healthy delivery for mom and baby. 

The new parents are adjusting to a new face in the family after many months of anticipation. We are all just SO delighted!

Sister Girl Magic: Femme in Bloom

Last week, I met phenomenal women including Rene Daniella, one of my favorite lifestyle bloggers. Rene flew to Chicago and organized this fun event which included a phenomenal women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship panel to close out Women’s History Month. The knowledge in that room was just amazing! Anyhow, I wanted to share just a couple highlights and will revisit other lessons learned from this event during future Life Untangled posts. 

To share a bit about the panelists, there was Lifestyle and Travel Blogger Rene Daniella of course plus Fitness guru Katie Wildhagen (Founder of the BAKESHOP), Freelance Travel Journalist Megan Snedden and Deun Ivory and Lauren Ash, co-founders of Lifestyle with Ivory + Ash, and Art Director and Creative Director of Black Girl In Om.

In addition to the fab host and panelists, the other attendees in the room were just amazing. I love a space where women get together and support one another, boosting and lifting each other up like the sisters we all are.

The topics our panel covered included how to… start your brand, secure sponsorship, pitch, grow your audience, build your website, merchandise and so on. 

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the intimate event. 

“Explore the range of your capabilities.
Don’t be afraid to say yes to God. Be faithful. Honor your individuality and passions.”
-Deun Ivory

“Explore your curiosities. Throw out the timing of things and just start doing things. It will grow from there. Leave room for the unknown,  even if you’re a planner, so there is room to see you’re on the right path to cultivate your passions.” -Lauren Ash

“What’s the thing you do naturally that you don’t realize is your purpose because you do it so naturally?” -Megan Snedden

“Take my fear and worry from me and replace it with service and creativity.” -Katie Wildhagen

“Take ownership of how you want to define femininity.” -Rene Daniella

I learned a lot of encouraging, challenging and practical things to help me and others on paths of empowerment and entrepreneurship. I will share more in future posts especially as I put into practice the tips I gathered. For now, do yourself a favor and check out the links in this post and share the love. These women are doing incredible things! 

L to R: Rene Daniella, Deun Ivory, Lauren Ash, Megan Snedden and Katie Wildhagen