Mask Removed: It’s Never As Bad As I Imagine

A few months ago I shared in a blog that at the beginning of the school year, I met another mom at the bus drop off. Of course, because of all things pandemic related, we were wearing our masks. Over the next few weeks of hanging out together, we exchanged numbers and decided it would be fun to get together for coffee and chat.

That day, as soon as I left the bus stop, the thoughts started snowballing through my brain. I thought “I met this mom while I was wearing a mask. She has no idea that I have a cleft. What is her reaction going to be? What will I say? Will I have to endure the inevitable look to my nose and mouth and then the quick look away?”.

It’s Always Worse In My Head

Fast forward a few months, and we finally were able to make our coffee date plan. Admittedly, I was still having all those initial anxious thoughts of what her reaction would be when we removed our masks and she saw my full face for the first time.

I can tell you, that the thoughts I have about removing my mask around people I have never met before is always worse than what really ends up happening.

Fear Can Mask Our Minds

If we let it, our minds can come up with some pretty crazy scenarios of how people may react to our facial difference. But if we let our fears take control, we rob ourselves of truly wonderful experiences. And with mask requirements lessening in many places around our country, the idea of people seeing our facial difference, for the first time in some cases, can be quite nerve racking for many of us.

But do you want to know what my new friend did when I took off my mask? ABSOLUTLEY NOTHING! We had a lovely chat and talked about all kinds of things and found several commonalities between us.

If I had let my initial hesitation stop me from going to the coffee date, I would have missed out on this new friendship. What a tragedy that would have been!

Make A Thought Correction

So, when you feel those thoughts of insecurity start to creep in, make a thought correction. Tell yourself that you know what you are thinking isn’t true or accurate. That nothing about your outward appearance needs to be explained away. You are made up of a million little things and if someone doesn’t take the time to get to know you just because of what they see on the outside, it is their loss, not yours.

~Vickie

A Million Little Things

I’m a sucker for the emotional television dramas -( hello This Is Us and Downton Abbey!) Do any of you watch the show A Million Little Things? I do, and in episode 7 of season 4 there was one scene that felt like it was written just for me.


Can’t Take the Insecurities Out of the Girl

In this scene two characters are discussing how one of them recently met a woman he would like to ask on a date, but she did not know he uses a wheelchair because they met when they were both in a parking lot and sitting in their cars. The guy is nervous because he doesn’t know how to tell this woman that he is in a chair. He feels he must explain it to her so she can be prepared.

Let me tell you, I feel like I lived this scene in real life. Let me explain: At the beginning of the school year, I met another mom at the bus drop off. Of course, because of all things pandemic related, we were wearing our masks. Over the next few weeks of hanging out together every morning watching our kids get on the bus, we exchanged numbers and decided it would be fun to get together for coffee and chat elsewhere besides the cold of the bus stop.

That day, as soon as I left the bus stop, the thoughts started pinballing through my brain like well..a pinball. I thought “I met this mom while I was wearing a mask. She has no idea that I have a cleft. What is her reaction going to be? What will I say? Will I have to endure the inevitable look to my nose and mouth and then further endure the quick look away?”.


A Million Miles an Hour

My brain was going a million miles per hour thinking out all the awful situations that could occur, and I was paralyzed. I couldn’t think any further than my immediate reaction – which was..can you guess? Fear. I was feeling afraid of being rejected by this nice woman who I genuinely liked chatting with every morning. I was feeling anxious because before this woman, I haven’t met anyone new that couldn’t at least see what I looked like when they met me. Just the thought of “unveiling” myself was almost too much.

I may be 44 now, but all those insecurities that were there as a young girl born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate never really go away. They came roaring back with a vengeance. So much so that I contemplated trying to cancel our yet to be scheduled coffee hang out before it even was on the books.


A Million Little Anxieties

Fast forward to me watching this particular episode of A Million Little Things, and this scene comes on. It was just the wake up call I needed. As the main character is talking out his thoughts of should I call her and tell her that I am in a wheelchair”, the other character in the scene dropped some knowledge. He said “Sure, you can do that. While you’re at it do you want to tell her others things like your credit score?” It made me laugh out loud, not just because the actor’s delivery of that line was perfectly dead-pan, but because of how silly it would be if the guy really did that! The actor continued… “She liked you for you. And if the chair changes that, then it is her loss, not yours.”

The point that this scene so perfectly makes is that nothing other than who you are on the inside should determine whether or not someone likes you.


You Are More Than What Is On The Outside

So the next time you are feeling nervous, fearful, or anxious about meeting someone new, or going into a new situation, remember this –  nothing about your physical appearance needs to be explained away. Who you are is more than your physical appearance.  Who you are is a combination of a million little things. And if someone doesn’t take the time to get to know you just because of what they see on the outside, it is their loss, not yours.

~Vickie


Pageant Dream: The Spirit of Miss Teen

Would you believe me if I told you that a young girl who was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate entered herself into a pageant and actually won an award? Well, back in August of 1993 at the age of 15, that’s exactly what I did!

Pageant Photo Flashback..

My mother found some old photos recently and sent them my way. This one not only surprised me, but brought back so many emotions and thoughts about that time. The main thought being “how did I ever feel so confident to do this at such a young age?”

From The Outside In..

Looking back, I can pinpoint one major factor in how I became confident enough to not only enter this pageant, but to try so many other things throughout my life that I may have otherwise been too afraid to because of feeling fearful of how others may look at me, react to me, or what they may say to me.

I found activities that I enjoyed and could hone and become proficient in. Being able to develop skills and talents that had absolutely nothing to do with how I looked gave me the boost of confidence that I needed. The first and foremost being piano. I started playing piano at age 6. From that age, all the way through high school, I took lessons. I performed at recitals, talent shows, and even at the Miss Teen of Oregon pageant where this picture was taken.

They Can’t Take That Away..

Learning piano and becoming proficient left no room for anyone’s opinion on my ability. Whereas beauty is subjective and as they say “in the eye of the beholder”, my musical ability was not up for debate. I didn’t have to try to explain it away or justify that I could play. The fact was that I could.

I had something that I could do and that I was proud of. I could receive praise for my ability, which had nothing to do with my outward appearance. It was liberating.

Aristotle Was Right..

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. Aristotle was on to something with these words.   It is so easy to look at someone as separate parts. How they look, how they sound, how they dress, etc. However, they can become so much more because of how those parts of put together. Although my talent for piano is a part of who I am, the effect it had on my ability to see my worth was life changing. I knew from the inside out that I was more than my parts, because when put all together I am a person worthy of love, respect, and have value and gifts to share just like anyone else. And so are you.

It’s Your Turn..

So now it’s your turn. Look back and reminisce on all that you are. Celebrate not only the fact that you have overcome challenges, but celebrate what you enjoy and have a talent for. You are worthy of this adoration. The gifts you have are unique to you because there is no one else like you on this Earth.

~Vickie



Investing: If Not Now, Then When?

I was having a conversation with a friend a few days ago, and as we were talking about all sorts of things, she said something that struck me. She said that women rarely invest in themselves before investing in others.  

There is truth to this..

Think about yourself right now. When an opportunity arises to take a class, go to a retreat, or participate in a workshop that you know will be a benefit to you personally and emotionally, what do you feel in your gut? Hesitation? Fear? If you let that feeling grow, what comes next? I’m guessing a myriad of excuses as to why you cannot attend. Not to mention creation of imaginary scenarios that “could” arise that end up making you say no to the current opportunity. Believe me, I have heard them all, because I have told them all to myself countless times.

Investing does not mean money..

There is plenty of research and articles out there that talk about just this specific issue and try to get down to the root of WHY women tend to put their personal growth aside for the sake of others.  So, what is the WHY? Time? Money? Nope, it is neither of those. Even though they both play a part, they are not the root cause of why women continue to put themselves down. The number one reason? LACK OF CONFIDENCE. If you are interested in reading more details, there was a well written article in The Atlantic several years back that still holds up. Click the link here to check it out.

It all comes back to this..

Confidence is key to just about everything we do in life. If that makes you cringe a bit because you feel that you are lacking in confidence, then try thinking of it this way. Your attitude determines how well you function in the midst of all of life’s challenges. Do you have a positive outlook or negative? When presented with an opportunity for personal growth and challenge, do you see it as a way of investing in yourself or do you see it as something else you don’t have the time or money for. As one of my favorite spiritual motivational speakers used to say “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Dr. Dyer is right on with that, and it really is that simple.

So, is there something you want to learn? A workshop you want to attend? Is there a skill you want to hone? Do not let the immediate fear of “I’m not worthy” stop you from doing what you want.

Confront the fear..

Are you still consumed with all the excuses? Use my Brain Dump Worksheet (link to download below) and write down all of the excuses you can come up with. Next, go line by line and right a T or F by each one. Is that excuse true or false? Is it your fear talking or a legitimate reason? Be honest with yourself and if by the time you get to the end of your list you have realized that most of your excuses are false, then my friend, there is your answer.

If you do not invest now, then when..

Invest in yourself. You are the greatest gift you have to give to others, so nurture yourself. Love yourself. Take the time to show yourself that you believe you are worthy of your own time and energy. As Robin Sharma says, “Investing in yourself is the best investment you will ever make. It will not only improve your life, it will improve the lives of all those around you.”

~Vickie


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Chair Flying: See It To Be It

June 5th, 1997. A day that will live in infamy. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.) I had visualized myself doing this flight from the day I started flight training, and it had finally arrived! This photo is from the day of my first solo flight. I was nervous, but also extremely excited to complete the takeoff, pattern, and landing as the sole occupant of the aircraft.

I still remember my dad being there video recording my flight. As my instructor hopped out of the plane and I taxied away, my dad asked “Do you really think she’s ready?” My instructor, without hesitation, said “Yes!”. That made my dad feel more at ease watching his daughter take off into the wild blue yonder all on her own. I think it made my instructor feel better too!

Self Reliance..

That day was a huge success. Not only for the fact of accomplishing my first solo flight, but for my self confidence as well. Being completely responsible for the machine, knowing how to operate the systems, communicating with the control tower and relying on the skills I learned from my instructors solidified my belief that I could do this. Not to mention it was so much fun that I don’t think I stopped smiling for the entire week after!

Gotta See It To Be It..

But of course, the skills and confidence did not happen over night. There was months of training and logging hours in the aircraft. My instructor would have never sent me out unless he believed I was ready. One of the methods our instructors used was a visualization technique to help learn new maneuvers and procedures. They called it Chair Flying.

You simply sit down, close your eyes, and visualize yourself working through the steps of each procedure. You speak out loud the checklist items and move your feet, arms, and hands, just as you would if you were sitting in the cockpit. It really works and is an invaluable exercise to use, even if you are not learning how to fly an airplane.

Visualize to Realize..

Visualization is a powerful skill. If you can picture yourself as a self-confident individual doing and accomplishing your goals, then you will get there. But it takes practice. Creating a positive image of yourself in your mind will lead you to develop thoughts, feelings, and actions that will move you forward on your path of growth.

Take 5 minutes and sit with your eyes closed and use this visualization technique to practice and solidify your own “chair flying” self confidence routine. Are you working toward a goal in your personal life that would benefit from some time of quiet thought and practice? Visualize it! Do you dream of writing the next great American novel? Visualize it! Practice this every day for a week and see how you feel. Go on, give it a try. One positive step begets another. Action leads to more action. What have you got to lose?

~Vickie


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