Masquerading Introvert

For the past couple of years I’ve always participated in Raleigh’s Caribmask Carnival…as a spectator. If you’ve never heard of Caribmask it’s a beautiful weekend event to go to in August. The streets of downtown Raleigh are filled with vendors, soca music, and beautiful people dancing while dressed in vibrant costumes. It’s a lot of fun and I made the decision I was no longer going to watch on the sidelines.

After doing all the hard work to finding the mas band I was going to join, working out, etc., etc. , it was the big day!

The thought of performing in front of a group of people made me nervous. I did cheerleading and dance but walking around in a bikini just sounded crazy to me lol. You may be thinking, “Why did you do it?” Well I like to challenge myself. I know how it feels to be in fear but what does it feel like to just live in that moment? So I did it.

I felt kind of awkward at first walking to find my group before the parade started…probably because I felt so vulnerable and didn’t see anyone dressed like me at first. I had these big beautiful wings on my back as a part of my costume that I kept forgetting I was wearing until I realized I was slapping people with them as I walked smh.

Once I found my band I felt less awkward. There were women in all shapes and sizes just dancing , getting prepared to walk and I was there taking it all in. Eventually I got out of my feelings and started embracing the environment. It was sooo much fun! It may become a hobby of mine to do every year, that’s how much fun it was.

I hope sharing my introvert experience in the Caribbean festival will encourage you to go out and experience something new as well :-)!

Advertisements

The ‘No-Shows’Event

As an author you envision nothing but success for your audience and business. You’ve put yourself out there completely and at the very least expect a great turnout at your events. What happens when no one shows up?

This actually happened to me before. It was my second book signing event and it made sense for me to have it in my hometown because everyone knew me, knew of me, or knew someone related to me. My first event was successful so somehow I figured I could approach this one the same way. I only shared it to the people on social media and then on the day of I waited…..waited…. and waited. Eventually about 6-8 people came (thanks to family and friends lol) but I was soooooo HAPPY! What an experience! So back to my question: What happens when no one shows up?

It’s nothing more humbling than to have no one come to your event or avoid your vending table. After all the work you did to create your book, set up your table, and to have no one or the number of people you expected to not show up is definitely an experience to have as an author. I believe you appreciate the platform even more as you grow into the author God called you to be.

During my book signing event I only had 6-8 people and in the beginning I was waiting for more to come, smh. Eventually I got over that expectation and focused on the ones that were there. It reminded me of one of the parables in the bible about the faithful servant. ‘His master said to him, ‘well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little, I will put you in charge of many things; share in the joy of your master.’-Matt. 25:21  When no one else showed up it taught me to be faithful over the little and have joy in the moment.

When no one showed up I was able to reflect and honestly had a ‘Come to Jesus’ moment. The location I chose for my event made sense to me because it was in a town I grew up in. I realized if I wanted to grow my business, I needed to get out of the comfort zone. I learned alot of friends and family will not support you just because they know you and that’s great because it helps narrow your target audience. You also wouldn’t want just family supporting your business anyway.

So the next time you have no one to show up at your event, know its a humbling experience to have and there are great takeaways to learn every time!

 

Glossophobia

The fear of public speaking. According to The National Institute of Mental Health about 75% are affected by this social phobia including myself.

I honestly don’t know how the fear started because I did presentations all the time. Maybe the fear came from not knowing everyone’s thoughts or the thought of being embarrassed in front of everyone.

Fast forward, I became an author and started saying ‘yes’ to sharing my stories. I said yes to an opportunity to speak at my alma mater. I even said yes to participate in a pitch competition that I had to prepare the night before. Let me also mention I was SCARED!! So how am I fighting against this fear?

Pray. It doesn’t matter how much I try to prepare myself studying everyone’s tips and strategies if I don’t pray and ask for boldness I doubt I would be able to even  stand in front of an audience. I ask God to get myself out of my thoughts, to stop caring about what others think, and that He’ll get the glory. I also ask for Him to give me the words to say because I don’t want to be random.
Write it down. I write in my journal all the time so it’s a no brainer when I write down what I’m going to say to a crowd. I’m not writing to remember line to line but it makes me feel comfortable and stay focused so I won’t ramble.
Take notes. I like to observe how people present in front of an audience.It’s very helpful listening to other speakers and watching how they keep the audience engaged.
Practice. You ever meditated over what you were going to say in your mind but when it was time to speak it didn’t come out that way? lol! This happens to me sometimes so I try not to overly practice but I do go over what I’ll say out loud.
Be you. God gave us unique traits that makes us stand out from others so what’s a better way to use it than in public speaking? I’ve noticed my bubbly personality captures an audience attention while another person that tells jokes all the time captures an audience attention. However God made you to be, when you speak let it shine in confidence.
I pray one day my heart can stop beating hard out of my chest, that my hands will stop getting sweaty, and I won’t wait until sometimes the last minute to give my cares to God. As He continues to give me strength I will continue to share my story.
 Remember there’s value in your story and someone is out there waiting to hear it.
mic

Lesson 3: Selling

The final lesson I learned as a first time vendor was all about selling. That’s including not having copies of my book, smh. So what happened was…

I made a last minute decision to become a vendor at the kids expo and ordered copies of Ella’s Greatest Adventures at the same time. The books were supposed to arrive day before the event (I knowww!) but there was a delay until the following week!

giphy

>>>Fast forward, I went to the expo with two proofs and the setup for my table. I felt unprepared and did not deserve to be surrounded by other vendors with their organized tables. Anyhoo, I set my table, got out of my feelings, and smiled as people walked by.

In lesson 2 , the cookies had people stopping by the table asking about Ella. Eventually a family came to the table and they purchased a copy of my book. As they looked through one of the proofs I had on the table, I spoke to them about the purpose and goal behind Ella’s Greatest Adventures. The day before I made up order forms so I had those on the table for customers. After that first sell it actually gave me the confidence I needed in order to continue to sell that day.

Thanks to lesson 3 I learned (and am still learning) not to compare myself to others and trust God. I didn’t have a nice standing banner or copies of the book but I had a voice and I was creative. I also learned everyone isn’t for the brand. I made a few sales but smiled a lot as people walked passed. Even as I shared things I thought was amazing about Ella, I didn’t get the same response from some people and that’s okay. The last lesson I learned was to be prepared. The week leading to the event I was in a panic! I was praying and had others praying with me believing my books would come on time. Instead of focusing on when the books would arrive, I made order forms and dental related sheets for families. As an introvert, I do not enjoy speaking to groups of people so I prepared by practicing around the house.

Even though I have ALOT to learn about selling, what I’ve learned as a first time vendor was very valuable.

 

Lesson 2: The Customer is Sometimes Right

“The customer is always right.” I never heard of this until I heard a complaint working at Subway. The person bought a salad and called minutes later not to complain about the taste but the presentation. Their food wasn’t cut small enough and they needed an explanation. As I listened to them complain over the phone, as if I made it I asked one of my coworkers what to say because honestly I wanted to hang up. I said what I was told and the person continued not being satisfied. Even though I had similar experiences since then, I think that Subway moment relates to my first time as a vendor.

The morning of the kids expo I decided to bake sugar cookies. Ideally, fruit would’ve been best to represent the fruit of the spirit in Ella’s Greatest Adventures but that was not in the funds. I wanted cookies to be in the shape of Ella so I used a Mickey Mouse cookie cutter ((lol)) and they came out horrible! Side note: This was my first time doing this so that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!  It kind of worked out because when the Mickey Mouse head wasn’t keeping its shape, I shaped it to look more like Ella. A lot of work for an amateur baker and professional creator!

IMG_5208So once my husband and I arrived and set my table up children started coming… especially for the cookies. One mother stopped in front of the table and said, ” Hmm, cookies and dentistry? dentistry and cookies?” I knew what that meant and for a second, ok maybe a minute, I got into my feelings. “She don’t know how I struggled to get here without having books.” “I know this book relates to oral health but it’s so much more!” Yada, yada, yada. Instead I gave a smile and said, “Yes mam, that’s right.” She ate a cookie and walked away.

giphy3 Just like the Subway person, it was about the presentation. Out of that moment I started getting ideas but I first had to get out of my feelings. Second, I was soo glad I listened. That mom from the expo represented a group of moms I’ll probably meet later down the road and I want to be able to respond in a loving way.

E.G.A Book Launch Behind the Scenes

It’s officially been a month since my first virtual book launch for Ella’s Greatest Adventures: Peace at the Dental Office! EGA Peace at the Dental Office1
I remembered feeling kind of overwhelmed, nervous, yet excited to finally share my book but before I talk about my feelings, what’s a book launch?

A book launch is an event where the book is presented to the public for the first time , either traditionally at a venue or digitally.

I chose to launch on Facebook live mostly because of timing and less preparation that was needed to set up. So that morning I met my friends outside of my apartment’s clubhouse and immediately after speaking we ended up moving around  furniture to quickly set up.giphy

Minutes before going live as we were eating icees and praying for a successful launch , I began to read over my notes. Clicked ‘live’ and no one was online. I waited..refreshed page..waited..refreshed page and couldn’t see anyone still lol. giphy1

At first I was using Ella’s Greatest Adventures Facebook page to go live (a page that did not have much traffic to begin with smh) and that’s when my friends suggested I used my regular account, so yayy for friends! It worked!
giphy1

Everyone started popping in and I was nervous! You would think because I was sitting behind a screen I would be comfortable but I still visualized being in a physical room with people coming in and out during my presentation. Eventually I was comfortable because I realized the ones that were watching were people that I knew.

This was a big step for me because it’s easier for me to express myself on paper without using my actual voice. Also the fact that I do not like ‘live videos’, ughh!

In spite of my feelings, Ella’s story was told, family & friends rocked, and I faced my fears of doing my first book launch!

** check out Ella’s Site by clicking HERE

Use What You Have

When I first got the idea for Ella’s Greatest Adventures, I asked myself so many questions. “Where can I find an illustrator?” “How can I afford this?” “How can I write a book and work on my other goals?” Everyday created a new question and I felt like I had to answer those nagging questions before I could start anything. On top of the questions I felt like I had to answer, I wasn’t overly excited about becoming an author because I knew it involved public speaking. I didn’t mind the writing part, I did that everyday in my journal but speaking to crowds gave me anxiety.

It reminds me of one of my favorite people in the bible that goes by the name of Moses. Moses had an assignment from God to go back to Egypt to lead his people out slavery. Like me, Moses was not excited about his assignment (Check out Exodus Ch 3 &4). Moses gave God so many excuses as to why he wasn’t qualified and yet received confirmation after confirmation he would not be alone. Moses was also reminded to use what he had in his hand, a staff.

Back to my story, I didn’t think I was qualified to write a children’s book because I thought I had to be well prepared. Like Moses and his staff, I used what I had available which was my pen and paper. It’s so easy to be overwhelmed and distracted by a long list of things to do when God just wants you to start with what’s in front of you.

If you ever felt how I felt, doing something out of your comfort zone, I encourage you to just start with the tools you have available and God will be with you every step of the way.

 

blank business checklist close up

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In 600 Words or less

For those that may not know I have been working towards completing my first children’s book. I’m happy to confess I’m close to being finished … YAYYYY!!!!!!youth-active-jump-happy-40815.jpegThe journey had a few challenging moments however, when I needed encouragement one of the sources I plugged into was my husband, Marcus. He never leaves home without a notebook and pen, from working behind the scenes of newspapers and featured in comics, to publishing his first book From The Mind of Marcus E.T.: Freaky and Fantastical 500 Words or LessI wanted to share my inspiration with you all. Enjoy!

Q: At what age did you start writing?

A: I’ve been writing stories since I was 8. I won my first writing contest and spelling bee when I was 9 years old.

Q: Wow, what was the writing contest about?

A: It was a narrative poem about me creating a robot to replace the friends I was angry with, which was inspired by a real-life situation at the time.

Q: *Laughing* Interesting! What were some other stories you created during that time?

A: I wrote my first two books by hand and made the covers out of construction paper. One titled Animania, about a world where everyone in my 3rd grade class being their favorite animal and living in one community together. The other was called Catimorphs, about me and my closer friends being Power Ranger-type heroes who could also change into large cats and use special armor to fight aliens (based on Power Rangers and Animorphs).

Q: I can definitely see how Power Rangers and Animorphs played a role in those stories. Were there any other shows that inspired you growing up?

A: One of the most influential series for me when I was younger was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Q: True! I liked playing their game on Nintendo. So any-hoo I see the pattern of how you gravitate towards sci-fi/ action stories, why is that?

A: I’ve always enjoyed action/adventure stories,sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. I appreciate thought-provoking stories, especially with good twist endings, and stories with a powerful message.

Q: Speaking of stories with good twist endings, you’ve recently published your first book less than a month ago, congrats! Where did the idea come from?

A: My book, Freaky and Fantastical 500 Words or Less, was a 6-month project where I recreated my dreams and nightmares, reinvented some of my favorite tales, and explored the all-important “what-if” question.

Q: Who would you say is your ideal reader for this book?

A: I thought of family, friends and associates who always said they could never find time to read for fun. So I created a flash fiction anthology with time restraints in mind, also challenging myself to limit my word count for each story to a multiple of 100.

Q: You know I’m definitely a fan already! As I work in the lab I mostly listen to podcasts and scroll through my phone so reading this book would entertain my time for sure especially since this book can be read via phone/ computer. I know you’re constantly writing and will be sharing more throughout the remaining of the year. How can people connect with you?

A: My website is Penandswordink.weebly.com . Twitter is @MarcusET3 and you could also check out my author page on Amazon Marcus E.T

Q: Sweet! Any last words of inspiration  you’d like to share?

A: The best thing about being a creator and fiction writer is that you don’t need to be an expert in anything. You only need to know what stories you enjoy reading and writing, and the only limiter is you.

 

IMG_3607

Dear 20’s

Dear 20’s,

We’ve been through so much together and It’s now coming to an end. I learned so much in our relationship and so before we depart I would like to share how awesome you were to me.

You taught me how to be independent especially when I decided going out of state for college would be best. I didn’t have any friends on campus and I didn’t have a car so you made sure I figured a way using the city bus.

I’m getting better at this but at the beginning it was ROUGH! I’m talking about speaking up for myself. I had a select few of roommates that were pretty awesome but the rest… WHYYY??! I learned what to tolerate and what not to tolerate, so thank you ladies 😉.

I got my first full time job with you! I learned how to prioritize in that season. You taught me it’s ok not being an open book to everyone I like. You taught me it’s ok to want more in my career and not get to a place where I feel stuck.

You taught me to think outside the 📦 box with my career goals. God tinkered with my vision so I could see a bigger picture of what he’s painting for me. I thought becoming a dentist was my final destination (you know how much I love dentistry😍). However, everything that I thought was random growing up actually served towards my purpose and now I’m actually going to publish a children’s book!

20’s , you were good to me. I got married to my best friend with you. Honestly, I didn’t think getting married would happen. I thought I’d be in my 30’s…

Speaking of 30’s, I’m looking forward to meeting them . I know we’re going to start our relationship on a good note this Friday but I hope they’re consistent like you with all the lessons I received.

I’m definitely going to miss you, but until then let’s make the last few days special .

Love you,

Ash

The benefits of stretching

Dance class and cheering had this one thing in common I did not enjoy, called stretching. I hated stretching! While it was easy for some girls, it wasn’t for me. I knew stretching had its benefits but I thought it was better to skip and move on to practice or performing. I would stretch my legs as far as I could with all my strength, then my instructor would come and push against my back to go further. This was done on a weekly basis I couldn’t avoid it. Stretch,practice,perform, repeat. Stretch,practice, perform,repeat.

 

healthy-person-woman-sport

The last quarter of this year for me gave me that same feeling. I felt an uncomfortable ‘pull’ especially at work and though it didn’t bring me to tears it made me ask the Lord ,”Why?” After asking why I remembered how important stretching was for my body. Stretching improves my performance, helps my body move effectively, and decrease my risk of getting hurt.  I believe the benefits of stretching in the natural applies in our relationship with the Lord. He stretch us out of our comfort zone so our faith can strengthen in him and to become more flexible…adapting to his ways. Similar to my cheer/dance days, I’m always hoping the Lord would skip the stretching part of the process however, it’s necessary in order to fully develop. Don’t worry if you need help stretching he’s always there to help: Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31