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A tale of two bags


This is what happened to me last night:

Women on Fire

I went to hear a phenomenal speaker, executive coach, the founder of Women on Fire and the author of the book by the same name, Debbie Phillips. She talked about, well, being a woman on fire – the steps that you have to take for courage, inspiration, following your heart and the like. She was funny and motivating and charming – and everyone was très fired up.

And, then, Debbie invited us to have an experience. We each wrote on a card the following three things:

  1. What is your biggest accomplishment from the past year?
  2. What are you fired up about right now?
  3. What do you need to help turn that fired up thing into an accomplishment?

Speaking out

We all wrote down our answers and then got into groups of four to discuss them. Five minutes later, Debbie asked people to stand up in front of the room (120+/- women) and share. If you haven’t noticed, I have a big mouth and I jumped right up – though not really because of my inability to keep my mouth shut.

The thing I’m fired up about is the writing of my book and the big mama publishing house that’s interested in it – but I’m watching myself stand off to the left of this fact. Do you know what I mean? I’m so excited, but when I tell people I feel like I’m peering around the trophy, not holding it square in front of my gut. I have a toe in the shoes, but I’m not standing in them. The news is too big. It is too much ‘everything I’ve ever wanted’. So, I thought, well, I’ll just get up in front of all of these women and say it, loud and proud. And I’ll feel it, believe it, own it.

After all, Debbie said again and again how important this process was – to be on fire and share it in the safe company of other women on fire. She said safe and connection and support so often during her talk, each enveloping and practically obliterating my fear. So I stood up. I said what I was on fire about. People clapped and cheered. Afterwards, many of the women asked me about the book and gave me huge hugs…


I’m going to pause now and tell you that someone very near, dear and wise to me believes that we have miraculous powers of manifestation and creation. That we call to us exactly what we need when we need it.

Obviously I’m struggling with some fired-up issues, which is one of the reasons I wanted to attend Debbie’s talk in the first place. I felt pulled to be around other women and to be inspired. Debbie herself says it best:

“I’ve always been inspired by the energy of brilliant, dynamic, caring women coming together to create something more vibrant than what they could on their own. I live near the ocean on Martha’s Vineyard and call this my ‘rising tide lifts all boats’ theory.”

Yes! So, according to my friend, I created this event last night so that I could experience the rising tide. But what about all of the worry and self-doubt? Where’s that energy going? What’s it creating?


…and then BLAM. A woman standing right in front of me, eyeing me with a hardy dose of skepticism and perhaps a little disgust quivering about her upper lip, says, “Soooo…what’s this ‘book’ about?” I told her, and I swear on my MacBook, she says, “and they want you to write it?” As if she was questioning Hitler’s ability to pen a benevolent history of the Jewish people.

The safety had disappeared, vanished. I wanted to call Superman and beg him to fly backwards around the Earth several times so that I could pull the fire-laced words back into my mouth. Keeping them safe…you know…inside.

And so it is…

I’m carrying two big bags around on my shoulders. One is full of the excitement and thrill of a dream being realized. The other is a sack of shit:  self-doubt, creative blockage, paranoia, isolation and fear. And when I walked into that room – both sacks were waiting for me to confront, absorb and choose between.

The good bag was warm and spirited – it led me to achieve my answer to #3 (What Do I Need?) – which is a stable, consistent group of women that meets regularly to share, support and inspire each other. I started forming it last night, and I can’t wait to get started. I seek community.

The bad bag was a mean, nasty, seething troll. Competition, greed, insecurity, doubt…they all live there.

I’m going with the good bag.

Whew!!! It feels good to say that out loud.

Who’s with me?

Image courtesy of anikaviro

Join the discussion 28 Comments

  • Becky Pearce says:

    Another homerun today Julie. I am totally relating to your posts this week. Thank you for sharing.

  • Emma Newman says:

    Oh boy, I wish I coulda been there with a huge bag of my own to wallop that woman with! Arg! Makes me so mad!

    Go you! Yay for fire, being fired up and firey people! Oh – and good bags too!

    I’m coming to the conclusion that I simply cannot trust myself in the judgement of whether I can or cannot achieve something – the only thing that I should do is try. Let’s go for it!

  • Mel Menzies says:

    Well said. What it comes down to is a matter of choice. And that sort of choice is one no one – but you – can make. And no one – but you – can rob you of.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Oh, Emma. That comment just wrapped it’s arms around me…thanks.

  • readergirl says:

    i’m right there with you , rooting for you all the way. You have the talent, you’ve made the connection, so now embrace it and jump into realizing it with both feet.

    that bad of nastiness says more about the person putting it out there, then it could ever say about you.

  • Julie Roads says:

    If only you all lived here. Wouldn’t we make the most amazing firey group??? I think so…

  • Barbara oliver says:

    Wow- this is great flaming stuff!!! Your writing is “a rising tide” Just do it!

  • vanillagrrl says:

    I recently saw that I couldn’t allow fear of how people might change the way they respond to me if I become successful to prevent me from trying to become successful. I can’t do much to affect how people feel about me; I can only do what I do, and do my best at it. I wish you the best, and hope you can stay strong and positive!

  • Debra Snider says:

    I’m so proud of you and so excited about this project! Toss that bad bag in the closet or under the bed or, better yet, out of your energy field altogether. Why NOT you? Can’t think of anyone with more passion for the project and, besides, it’s your project. Here’s to hanging on to the good bag & keeping it mentally front and center. Please let me know any time if I can help remind you of what’s in it. :)

  • Julie Roads says:

    Debra – you know, you crossed my mind when I replayed her nastiness over and over and over in my mind last night. I pondered: I wonder what Debra would have done? I’m quite certain you would have told her to fuck off – or just smacked her…

    Have you any idea what it means to me to know that YOU have my back?

  • Shannon says:

    Hey Julie, this post was awesome…Having heard Debbie speak many times and being coached by her for many years, she’s the real deal, and so are YOU!

    You go girl and write your little heart out. The real key in all of this isn’t just the two bags we carry.

    The real key is being able to live your life out loud, be confident, proud and not let what ANYONE in this world says affect you deeply to your core anymore. I have a bit of teflon created just for those crazy negative norberts. As soon as I hear the words out of their mouths, my teflon shield goes into place and I smile, realizing that poor soul is lost and maybe won’t ever be found.

    Hence it’s even more incredibly important to surround yourself with a wonderful support team who will have your back and life you up when you need it and help support your goals and dreams…

    Shine your light inside brightly, and don’t ever let anyone take that away from you!

  • Stephanie says:

    Me! I’m with you. You are gonna rock your book just like I’m gonna rock whatever it is that I’m fired up about…just have to find it.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Shannon! Thank you…teflon, eh? I love that image. It was funny b/c I handled it so well when she was standing in front of me, saying those things…but then, later, I replayed it and well…wilted a bit. But writing this post and hearing from all of you has lifted me higher than I was before…

  • Julie Roads says:

    Stephanie – so glad you’re fired up…you’ll find ‘the thing’ – enjoy the search.

  • Thank you, Julie, for this incredible post today. I sooo appreciate it. I loved every single second of last night!! You were amazing in sharing your excitement.

    The wisdom of women responding here is a book in itself! Go, Julie, go…you are backed by scores of fabulous women! Love, Debbie

  • Julie Roads says:

    Thank you for stopping by, Debbie!!! I totally agree with you…these women are brilliant. My boat is riding very high today…

  • Ron says:

    Passion rules. That lady did you a favor-made you more determined not to be like her.

  • Holy shoot! That is incredibly well-written, Julie. It’s nice to see you living your life in the sweet spot.

    (I saw the title of this post on my Blogger blog follow list and was coming here to make a joke about two old women but stopped myself in time. See? I do have some self-restraint.)

  • Julie Roads says:

    Oh, Heather…thank you for that! Though I’d love to hear the joke.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Ron – and prove her wrong.

  • Liz Jenkins says:

    Julie – when I read this post, I seriously got choked up. Your points hit home so much – although I don’t envision two bags – I feel as if I have two me’s fighting each other. Be a success-grow-be more vs. the should I-could I part. I’m basically happy with who I am but waffle on where I want to go. And, like you, am very susceptible to negative comments and feedback – causes a self defeating cycle of self doubt.
    I love the comment of Debra above: Why Not You? This is the questions I’ve started asking myself – why not me? If other people can do it, why can’t I. You can.

  • Gail Kent says:

    The thing about a bag of shit is that it can be a warm bag of shit. And a warm bag of shit can be quite comforting and difficult to give up in a cold world. So we have to get brave and open it up until we smell it for what it is.

  • You called it right Julie -“mean, nasty, seething troll” sounds pretty accurate. You forgot something thing though…jealous, oh yes, and bitter. Bag of shit is an apt description.

    Don’t let her be anything more than a splat on the highway in your rear view mirror. Her thoughts and observations are meaningless.

    I think what you are doing is wonderful.Channel your worry and self doubt in to creating a book that is better than you ever thought possible. You have it in you.

  • Karen Toms says:

    I “found” you last week via some research I was doing for a client. I have avidly read your website and your blog and you have become a great inspiration to me and my fledgling marketing and writing business. I feel that you have come into my life at the right time – your passion and enthusiasm is infectious. So I want you to know how great I think you are and say toss out that bad bag, hold that good bag tight and if you ever feel the need to reach for the bad one again, please just drop me a line. Go for it!

  • Julie Roads says:

    Liz, Gail, Michelle and Karen: Do you have any idea how full my heart is right now? Waking up to your messages = the best thing ever. Thank you. I love this community we’ve created – I hope I support and inspire all of you as much as you do me.

  • CJ Rivard says:

    A good friend of mine offered some sage advice years ago that helps me through the many grumpy and rude encounters that are inevitable in the customer service business. “Just remember, you dont have to take him/her home w/you” (thank goodness!) But that’s the challenge… not to let their evil or bitterness encroach on your positive spirit and go home w/you…

    BTW – your writing always inspires me! Thank you. I cant wait to read your book!!

  • I was at an island event last night and someone told me about this blog and your experience at the MVWN meeting. OMG! Why can’t we just get along and support each other? Why do women insist on putting each other down?
    I am so pleased to hear that you have chosen the higher road (excuse the pun here) and decided to find your own power and connect with you own talent. People who put others down have the issue and it shouldn’t stick to you. Think teflon!
    love you and good luck with this venture!

  • I’m with you! 100%.

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