Dirty Little Liar: Beating Negative Self Talk

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I was an awkward kid; string bean skinny, butter teeth, a plague of freckles and the fairest skin most people have ever seen. Some joked that I was so fair you could see my blood flowing through my veins. I had a lot of nicknames, none of them kind.

My sister was “the cute one” and I was “the smart one.”

I was confused when an adult neighbor looked at me as if he’d seen me for the first time when I was about thirteen, “Good God, girl. You are going to be a knockout when you’re older.”

I thought he was gross.

I never thought of my appearance because I was ugly. I knew I’d have to rely on my wits and developed a biting sense of humor to compensate for what my mama didn’t give me. When I did get attention from boys I was suspicious and then I shrunk from it. I had faith in my smarts and a quiet confidence that may have been ill-placed, but served me well. I relied on being a nerd with the hopes I’d land an equally nerdy husband. We’d make informed decisions, listen to NPR and have the best jokes; a match made in nerd heaven.

It wasn’t until I was 18 that I realized attractive, popular boys were interested in me. I remember the first time a very good looking 20 year old made it clear he wanted to take me on a date. I was the girl that looked over her shoulder both ways to see where the pretty girl was, and upon realizing I was alone pointed to the center of my chest, “Me…?”

I don’t get it…?

Many years later my husband would tell me that a colleague once said, “Jeanette has no idea how pretty she is, does she?”

He’d smile, almost proud, “She’s my ugly duckling.”

So, I turned into a swan, yada yada, good for you.

Well, not exactly. While the little girl in me is happy that my freckles faded, Crest invented White Strips and self tanner doesn’t stink as bad as it did in the 90’s, I’m still an ugly kid on the inside. I just feel a different kind of pressure and I think every single woman knows it intrinsically. While I would like so much to tell you that my brainy confidence transitioned to every other part of me, you can be like me too, I suffer from an ugly little secret:

Negative self talk.

I notice the things about myself you may not. I’m self conscious about the little gap in my teeth, the way my right eye looks a little squinty when I smile, the lines that are coming with age, the size of my waist, the fact I have no pigment in my face after I wash my make up off and I could go on, but I think you get the point.

I don’t really recall negative self talk when I was a kid, Is this a grown up thing? I would like to return it, please.

I’ve tried a few things to combat it and at my best I tend to defeat the beast. At my worst I typically whine until a girlfriend tells me to get my head in check. It’s like a little flash bulb goes off, Oh yea. This is me being mean to myself.

I thought I’d share in the hopes this may help when your inner critic decides to show up with a magnifying glass.

I try to be thankful for my body in this moment, knowing in ten years I’ll wish I looked like I d0 today. I thank my strong legs for keeping me going, my healthy body for creating a life, my clear skin, my freckles for being only lightly freckly. I thank my smile for not only being large (One of my nicknames in high school was The Joker. Let’s move on…), but bringing light to those I love when they see it.

I try to be aware of the negative self talk that sneaks up on you. These are the things you didn’t consciously realize were there, but something stirs something deep. A rebuff or a rejection has you suddenly questioning whether you are lovable or worthy? A question or criticism suddenly makes you question your intelligence or motivation? See it for what it is in the moment. This is war talk. It is your dormant inner critic. Don’t allow it to fester. Do the work if you need to, but do not start to believe it. It is a dirty liar. I give you permission to treat it as an enemy.

I try not to obsess. At all.

My right eye will probably always water and staring in the mirror for fifteen minutes, hating it, worrying about my soon to be off-kilter eye makeup, is silly. Throw the extra mascara and liner in the makeup bag and get the day going. I’ve learned to love my watery eyeball. It gives me character and I will always have a conversation starter, “No, I’m not emotional. My eye just waters. Allergies.”

I deserve to love my life and sometimes that means the taste of decadent things. I also feel strongly about health, so I don’t overindulge, but I’m not going to make myself feel bad because I ate pasta. It was delicious. It’s in the past. Let it go. Tomorrow I will make (mostly) good choices.

I refuse to be mean to myself or anyone else. I may say, “I should probably hit the gym more and eat cleaner,” as opposed to staring at myself in the mirror, “Look at your disgusting (enter body part here).” There is never anything positive about bullying yourself or anyone else for that matter. One of my girlfriends and I recognized that we were in the habit of pointing out what we hated about ourselves to each other a few years ago. We were doing it in front of our daughters, so we created safe phrases and compliments to get each other back into check and remind ourselves that a dimple here or there was not what made a woman. If she started in on herself I would smile, “You have beautiful eyes. You are such a good cook.” If I did, she’d respond, “You are such a great writer. You have such a beautiful smile.” We only had to do it a few times before it stuck.

If someone else feels the need to tear into another individual, I refuse to be part of that as well. You don’t know the struggles and negative self talk of others. Let them figure out their own path and quiet their own dirty little liars. You do you.

I smile as I write this, thinking back on an encounter with my daughter and our Target cashier a month or so ago. Olivia is four and as the woman was ringing us up, she asked very loudly, “Mommy, why is that lady so old?” I tried to give her a look she hasn’t yet realized is the “be quiet” look, so after the second time I had to handle it.

I leaned in, “Liv, what you are saying may hurt her feelings. Don’t say it again and we’ll talk about it in the car.”

We did. She understood that if she wanted to tell the cashier that she had a nice necklace or she liked the color of her shirt she could do that, but saying something about her being old or having wrinkles may not be the nicest way to interact with someone. A few hours later I was on the phone with a friend, laughing about how time was flying. When I got off the line, Liv was ready to have a talk with me.

“Mommy, we don’t tell people that we’re old. It’s not kind.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You told that person, ‘We’re getting old.’ Maybe that wasn’t the nicest way to talk to her.”

Or to myself.

Out of the mouths of babes.

Be good to yourselves, friends.

 

 

 

 

Letters From Readers: Alyse Ellman

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Every few days or so I receive an alert that I have mail in the Lore and Little inbox. I always open it, curious. The Love Letters project is still relatively new, so when it turns out to be an unsolicited letter I immediately get that, he likes me, he really likes me, kind of feeling. A few weeks ago it was from Alyse. We met in Maui at a mutual friend’s wedding and while Facebook friends, haven’t talked since. Her note made my day:

Because we are Facebook friends, I have the wonderful opportunity of reading your posts and it prompted me to write the letter you will find below. I wasn’t planning on sharing it, I wrote it for me, but there’s something about sending it to you that makes me feel like it may travel back in time and get to my younger self, sort of in a way you would want your Christmas letter to actually get to the North Pole.

I’m all about trying to make magic happen, so whether this letter travels back in time or makes a woman nod her head in agreement, we owe it to ourselves to share. I told Alyse that I truly appreciate her acknowledgment of both our relationships with men and our own bodies. I don’t know that we’re always willing to tackle those head on and we don’t talk about them enough, yet every woman thinks about both.

Thank you, Alyse, for your love letter. I hope it inspires more women to share.

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Dear Younger Alyse,

First, and most importantly, you make it out alive and not only with a heart beat, but with a beating heart that is full of love and happiness. You should know this immediately. I share this important message with you because I know you don’t think this will happen. You avoid a plan almost certain you won’t live long enough to see it through. You are lucky in that the universe seems to provide for you by putting opportunities within your reach in mysterious and exciting ways. Your job, my younger self, is to listen, be open, and act.

Depending on your current age reading this letter, you will tempt fate and take risks that you should not. You are probably thinking that you will not live to see 30, but you will, at least 43, with no signs of stopping. Please don’t abuse your body and your mind. Both will be so important to you when we get older, and since we’ve already established you have a long life ahead of you, keep those things sacred.

Listen to mom. When you get older, you will actually have a healthy and supportive relationship with her. She will be your rock in many ways that you cannot imagine. Stop testing boundaries long enough to appreciate her. You’ll thank yourself later.

Also, you are not fat. You will struggle to appreciate your body, your curves, your big boobs. You are beautiful and you will be told this again and again. Please believe it every time you hear it.

Be wary of men. This is your weak area. Attention, excitement, acceptance – all things you crave, and lets face it, we always have. You will enter relationships and they will tear you down and you will have to build yourself back up several times. Its ok, its how we learn. But, please, for our sake, protect your fragile heart.

Last, and I know this will come as a shock to you, but your strongest and most meaningful relationships are with women. You will meet and become long-lasting friends with some of the most amazing women who are creative, intuitive, passionate, caring, and you love them dearly. They are your support system and you could not survive without them. Covet these relationships.

Younger Alyse, you have so much to look forward to in life. I can’t wait for you to see that for yourself.

Regards,

(Not So) Older Alyse

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My name is Alyse Ellman and I am originally from New York. I’ve lived in Boston, NYC, Las Vegas, and now Chicago. I most recently left Wynn Las Vegas after twelve years and now work for United Airlines in Chicago. Change is constant in my life and I’ve come to accept that, which is where some of my advice to my younger self comes from. I am single and travel frequently both personally and professionally. I have wonderful friends and a terrific supportive family. I am a lucky girl.

 

A Letter To My Younger Self by Jamie Little

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I met Jamie Little when she was pregnant with her son, Carter, and she is one of the most badass women I know. I am so honored that she wrote a love letter and while I knew many of the things included, there is something about the written word that crystallizes the strength you see in a woman. I once told Jamie that if there is any type of apocalypse, Zombie or otherwise, I’m coming to her house. She laughed, “We would survive.” She is afraid of very little and has such a strong sense of self that I’m so thrilled she can share this side of herself with you too.

Jamie asks us not to allow ourselves to be labeled and it is such sage advice. Had she allowed labels to stick she may not be the first female pit reporter for the television broadcast of the Indianapolis 500, the first female to cover a televised Supercross and Motorcross event, and one of the first female reporters in X Games history.

Ladies and gentlemen, the badass Jamie Little –

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I was a strong minded only child raised by a single mom. For some reason, I always had gumption. I was always brave and never feared. Maybe it was growing up in the outdoor paradise that is South Lake Tahoe, California. Maybe it was having a strong mom who never took no for an answer. Maybe it was not having a father around to give me the idea that I NEED a man to do things for me. Whatever it may be, that strong, independent spirit has never let me down. It’s led me astray at times, gotten me in trouble a time or two but it always brought me back to the “right” path. With that, here’s a letter to my younger self, a list of explanations you could say. This is for the girl who loved horses, loved boys (at a very young age!), never settled for no, loved her mom to a fault and missed having a father, her father, more than she could accept until much later in life.

Dear Jamie:

DON’T BE ASHAMED that you don’t have a dad around. Most of your friends at your young age still have a two parent household. It’s ok to have the love of two parents wrapped into one. You’ll use that void left by your father to fuel your passion to succeed in a male-dominated world such as motorsports television. You’ll yearn to have acceptance by men for your character, hard work and accomplishments. You’ll get it.

THAT LOVE FOR RACING ISN’T WEIRD. Your friends and classmates won’t understand why, in High School, you started bringing dirt bike magazines to class. Your mom will be shocked one day to discover all of your precious, innocent horse posters have been replaced by dirt bikes, racers and autographs. Just because you don’t have a brother or father around to promote something like dirt bikes, it’s ok. One day everyone will understand your love and passion for something so rough and “unladylike.”

THOSE TEARS, LONELY NIGHTS ON THE ROAD AND SMALL PAYCHECKS are all part of the plan. Suck it up and keep your eye on the prize. The more you endure and the harder you work, selflessly, the bigger the reward. It’ll all lead to true happiness, but it’ll be a long road. Keep digging.

DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF and trim the fat while you’re at it. Your stepmother may have “taken” your father away and tried to keep you out, but being angry, sad and disappointed won’t help. Just accept your relationship with your father for what it is; surface conversation between two blood acquaintances. Ironically, the day will come that you are all your father has. You’ll end up burying his wife. That will leave him alone, broke and depressed with nobody but you to lean on. Take it as “God’s work” to be there. Don’t judge, don’t walk away. Be there. You’ll be your father’s shining light in his darkest days. Funny how life works out sometimes.

YOU ALWAYS WANTED A BABY BROTHER OR SISTER. Although it won’t happen, one day you’ll have the chance to hold, love and care for a baby of your own. It’ll be hard to fathom while you’re keeping your head to the grindstone, hardly coming up for air, but it’ll happen. Just be sure to open your heart, enjoy dating, don’t take yourself so seriously. In the end, it’s not ALL about your career or becoming wealthy, although that’s nice, it’s really all about the circle of family you create around you. So, don’t wait too long, but don’t settle either. Oh and don’t keep people in your life just because. Cut those who are toxic, drama or who zap your energy. Life is too short. Keep your circle tight.

DON’T BE LABELED. In life, people will want to characterize you into a category. “She’s a pretty girl. She’s a tomboy. She’s a hard ass. She’s a classy lady. She’s a partier. She’s a country club-type of woman.” Don’t be afraid to be ALL things. You can and will be a woman who can wear a dress, heels and interview anyone on TV. You will be a country girl who loves her country music, cold beer and swearing. You’ll like riding dirt bikes and you’ll enjoy golf. You’ll hang with millionaires while sipping expensive red wine. You’ll also wear your sweats and feed the homeless on D Street or walk homeless dogs in the impoverished part of town. Be ALL things. Life is so much more exciting that way.

RESPECT YOUR MOM. She’ll drive you crazy, you’ll drive her crazy. You’ll be angry at her and hold grudges for things she did as a parent. Let it go. The only things that’s important is that you have each other. She’ll be your number one fan your whole life. She’ll be your cheerleader when you call her with self doubt and disappointment. She’s done it all. She’s your best resource. Stay close to her always. Help her in times of need. She’ll need you in a big way. The husband of hers that you call “Pops” will see the bitter side of life. He’ll one day look at death in the face, but his attitude and the love of you mother will steer him away. It’ll end up being the biggest challenge in all of your lives. Stick together. It’s the ONLY way.

Love,

Jamie

Veteran motor sports reporter Jamie Little joins FOX NASCAR in 2015 for its 15th season, bringing 13 years of broadcasting experience and a lifetime of racing knowledge to her pit reporting duties in the NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES and NASCAR XFINITY SERIES. Her assignments also include select additional races and special events throughout the year.

Prior to joining FOX, Little spent 13 years at ESPN/ABC as a reporter for NASCAR (2007-’14), IndyCar Series (2004-’14), Winter X Games and Summer X Games telecasts. Her television career began in 2002 as a reporter for ESPN immediately following graduation from college. She also has worked for SPEED, NBC and TNN.

The move to FOX after multiple years with ABC and ESPN represents a “homecoming” of sorts for Little. She covered a variety of motor sports events for FOX Sports’ SPEED in 2002 and 2003, including the network’s live coverage of Daytona Supercross, which marked her live national broadcasting debut.

She was the first female pit reporter for the television broadcast of the prestigious Indianapolis 500 (2004), the first female to cover a televised Supercross and Motorcross event, and was one of the first female reporters in X Games history. Little has covered 11 Indianapolis 500s and eight Brickyard 400s and has hosted a variety of non-racing sporting events ranging from Paintball Championships to the Great Outdoor Games, in addition to live announcing roles in Motorcross and Supercross.

Little credits her lifelong passion for the sport and affinity for dirt bikes as the springboard for her entry into television. While still in college, she reported on various motor sports for ESPN2 and also served as a live announcer in Supercross.

The Las Vegas resident is well-rounded outside the four corners of a race track, as well. In 2013, she released her first book, entitled Essential Car Care for Women, and has worked the red carpet for the ESPYs, in addition to hosting numerous NASCAR events away from the track. Furthermore, the popular racing video game “MX World Tour Featuring Jamie Little” bears her name and likeness. She also held a cameo role in the 2005 feature film, Fantastic Four, and Supercross the Movie starring Channing Tatum.

Little spends her free time volunteering at The Animal Foundation, Nevada’s largest animal rescue shelter. Her first solo charity project is a 2016 calendar titled “Las Vegas to the Rescue,” featuring Las Vegas celebrities, such as Wayne Newton, Carrot Top and NASCAR driver Brendan Gaughan, posing with homeless pets from the shelter to promote adoption.

A graduate of San Diego State University with a degree in Journalism, Little grew up in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., and currently resides in Las Vegas with her husband and son.

You can follow Jamie on Twitter at @JamieLittleTV.

 

Love Letter to My Younger Self by Chelli Wolford

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I’ve bit my lip in anticipation of this post.

Chelli estimates that she’s rewritten this love letter 27 times. We’ve had approximately 7.3 conversations about it and she’s watched one documentary that inspired at least one quick overhaul. We had one drink each while we chatted about it on New Year’s Eve. It took one voicemail, three texts and three emails to confirm that this post would go up today.

All big stats and for bigger reasons.

It’s important.

1 in 3 women will be sexually or physically assaulted in her lifetime. That’s your girlfriend at the end of the table. A man recently heard this statistic at a conference and approached the speaker, stone-faced, “I have three daughters. All I could see was their faces when I heard that stat and wondered which one it would be. What can I do?”

1 in 4 college women will be the victim of sexual assault during her academic career. That’s your neighbor next door, the woman you share carpool with and the lady who underwrote your mortgage.

It may even be you and if you are triggered by such topics, please note that this is a message of hope. Of awareness.

I shared the above stats with one of my close girlfriends one night and she paused, giving me the fortitude I needed, “This is important. These are our friends.”

I’m making the decision not to avoid hard topics because they’re uncomfortable, but instead embrace them because they should be brought into the light. What I adore about Chelli is that when she reached out to say she knew what she wanted to write about, it was so clear that it was a message of hope for every little girl, every teen, every woman. It was so soul-baring and earnest and in her own words, “I don’t want it to be dark.”

I called her this morning after reading it, “I’m so proud of you.”

These are our friends.

Ladies and gentlemen, the brave and beautiful Chelli Wolford –

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My Dearest Chelli-Belly:

(This nickname is going to stick – you will eventually find it endearing.)

First, and I need you to really get this, like in your cells, know this: It’s not your fault. Your Mother leaving you when you were just a baby. Being molested when you were a child. Getting gang-raped your first year of college. None of it was your fault. It will be easy for you to blame yourself, to shame and convince yourself that it was somehow your fault, that you were being punished, that God forbid, you deserved it. Sweetheart, it just wasn’t your fault. Stop asking why and start looking to transform your pain into a purpose. This is how you will eventually find peace and become of service to the world.

Learn to forgive like it’s your job. Forgive those who have hurt you, forgive yourself for those you have hurt. Forgiveness is freedom. The older you get, the less you will have to forgive yourself – it will take you longer than you like, but you will learn to live intentionally. Everything will fall into place.

“When people show you who they really are, believe them the first time.” ~Maya Angelou
You won’t learn this quote until your early- thirties and you won’t fully grasp it until your late-thirties, but please, for your sake, breathe these words in and live them. People will give you all the information that you need to make decisions about whether or not you should allow them into your life and heart. Not only will they show you, sometimes they will also tell you, don’t think you can “love” them better, you can’t. Don’t justify bad behavior.

Marry that kind guy that you think is too good for you. This will change the trajectory of your life. Having a supportive partner who will assist in your “becoming” will be everything. Trust me on this.

Some things are never going to make sense – and that is okay. Your Mother not choosing you is going to perplex you most of your life. Instead of asking why, just know that she did the best she could with the tools she had. You will do better because you know firsthand what it feels like to be left behind. It will take you a little while, but eventually you will see it as a blessing. Your worst days will become the best days that shape you into the woman you are today. I promise.

You don’t need to prove yourself to anyone. Full stop.

There will be this moment in your late twenties, when you are talking to your Granny and she says to you: “You know you were your sister’s security blanket, right? I don’t know what she would have done without you.” That moment is going to give your life meaning and be your purpose. Doing and being for others what you always wanted is going to be a driving force for you, don’t change it. Ever. (It’s also going to serve you well when you become a Mama).

I’m not going to lie to you, the first several years are going to be challenging, but my love, it’s going to get so sweet. The darkness will diminish. You will only see the light. Your heart will grow bigger. You will laugh way more than you cry. You will experience things that you cannot even imagine right now as you lay in your bed in a junkyard in Ohio dreaming big dreams for yourself. Hold on. It gets so much better.

Finally, thank you for being a brave, bad-ass, risk-taking young girl. You got me here. But now I got you. I’m holding you so tight. You are safe and you can trust me completely. You can be vulnerable and soft and feminine. I will not judge you. Cry if you need to cry, say your scary things out loud, be your most authentic self. I will be with you every day until the day we die and I will forever be your biggest fan. You saved me. And I saved you. It will take you a few years but you will realize, I’m the love of your life. Now go share that love.

So much love & light to you,

Chelli

Chelli Wolford is a Strategic Business Consultant combining over 20 years of experience in the military, business and entertainment worlds. Chelli was the youngest and only female Retail Sales Manager for Sprint PCS when she moved to Las Vegas at the age of 24, building 5 retail stores for the Las Vegas market and managing nearly 100 employees. She quickly advanced, managing several different sales channels within multiple organizations and became known as a “fixer” turning around flailing sales channels through key position hires, team building and lead by example style of management.

After leaving the corporate world Chelli was chosen by international superstar Pitbull to join his team and help take his organization to the next level. Chelli created processes for vetting business opportunities, delineated clear roles for team members within the Pitbull organization and worked closely with Pitbull aka Armando Perez to ensure his brand was consistent throughout his social channels and that he had a direct, authentic connection to his fans to ensure channel growth. It was during this time that Chelli Co-Founded Acento Digital Media, a company that supported and connected music artists and brands in aligned, mutually beneficial relationships. Acento’s revenue grew to half a million in less than 4 years of business.

Chelli recently moved back to Las Vegas after 8 years in California and is focused on empowering women entrepreneurs to achieve their goals through her new company, Illuminated Moxie.

You can find Chelli on Twitter @illuminatedmoxy