Love the Life You Lead. Spring 2014. DAY TEN: Betsy Polk Joseph

What would you do if you could do anything?
That’s the question I often ask myself as a way to ignore that pesky little inner critic who is always trying to get in the way and hold things up.

Asking this question has led me in all sorts of directions. By asking, I started my own consulting practice with a trusted friend and colleague. Asking gave me the moxie to put paint on a brush and paint the furniture my family sits on which led to painting real paintings that real people have actually purchased. Asking made it possible to reach out to 100 plus women business partners, some I knew and many I didn’t, to ask if my business partner and I could interview them for our book. Their resounding yesses gave us the oomph we needed to keep on writing and weathering the ups and downs, the almosts and the rejections until, finally, the golden moment came when a publisher said “yes!” – inspiring us to hunker down and get Power through Partnership written so it can be on bookshelves next fall (2014).

By asking myself this question, I’ve stretched and used my voice in ways that quelled that inner critic. And perhaps the bravest thing of all? Four years ago, I asked myself what I’d do if I could do anything and the answer was “sing?! So, I did and, not only that, I wrote about it, too. See below.

This is my birthday present to me – celebrating 43 by doing the bravest thing I’ve done in a long time. See, up until last week (back when I was 42) I was happy to be an in-the-shower singer. I’d been one for 30 + years, magnificently belting out tunes in the privacy of my own space, entertaining myself with a full repertoire of lusty, talky songs requiring great expression and few high notes. My last public performance was in fifth grade, right around the time I overheard my father whisper to my mother, “She doesn’t really think she can sing, does she?” I did. Until then.

But this isn’t a story about a girl who got her confidence squashed by a well intentioned, whispering father. It’s a story about a woman who kept singing by herself in private places until one day when she was asked to sing on a stage in a room full of people and was shocked to find a “yes” coming out of her mouth.

So next Saturday I’ll stand on a stage and sing a parody of “Look at me I’m Sandra Dee, “a song I’ve sung a thousand of times alone and now five thousand times for my daughter, son, husband and anyone else who will listen. The first times I asked for assurance – please tell me I’m ok.  And they did.  But with every rehearsal, I’ve grown braver.
Next Saturday I’ll breathe deep and try to remember to sing slowly, with feeling. The audience, filled with friends and family, may wonder if I really think I can sing. It won’t matter. My knees might quake, my voice  quiver, but only for a moment. Because alone or not, it’s the same — I’ll sing with my whole heart, just like a real singer.

Betsy Polk Joseph is a writer, painter, reader, thinker, wonderer, dreamer, talker, planner, mother and sometimes singer. The Mulberry Partners, the consulting practice, she co-founded in 2002 with Maggie Chotas, provides strategic design, facilitation and coaching to community-focused businesses and individuals in North Carolina and beyond. The partnership at the core of Mulberry inspired Betsy and Maggie to co-author Power Through Partnership: How Women Lead Better Together, to be published by Berrett-Koehler, Fall 2014. — a facebook page that’s all about women pondering and pursuing business partnerships.

About melindarabrams

Melinda Abrams, CPCC, MSA is a champion of the shared experience. She consistently moves individuals and groups to deeper levels of connection and support, and models ‘being moved’ by what is present in the space. She believes that in this creative combustion, capacity expands ….simply, naturally, magnificently. In addition to coaching corporate executives, Melinda takes great pleasure collecting and sharing messages about Loving the Life you Lead on facebook and her blog Moving Leaders. She loves coaching, delivering experiential programs at outdoor education centers, teaching teleclasses, holding weekend retreats, and guiding leaders to MOVE. Melinda brings over 20 years of teaching and leadership development to Moving Leaders. Her work spans experiences with youth, corporate clients, and both business and medical graduate students at Duke, University of North Carolina, North Carolina State and Wake Forest Universities. Her commitment is to serve emerging leaders as they move towards shared enthusiastic leadership. And YES! Melinda is also an artist. She creates unique handpainted scarves. In my art, my coaching, and my spiritual practice I consistently return to wonder and awe. As I turn to wonder and create from there I experience a profound connection with source. This movement brings me to this latest series of scarves. I love the idea of wrapping oneself in an idea–an intention– a possibility, and creating beauty with that intention. My hope is that when one chooses this scarf to wear, they turn from disconnected bland to soulful brilliant. Of course when the scarf is open and hung you can read the message, yet when it is draped and worn, the message is simply seen as a design. My promise is that the wearer is reminded to turn towards the message and that the message is shared through the wearers actions and interactions with others. Melinda Abrams Melinda loves living in Chapel Hill, NC with her husband and three children.
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