March 7, 1997: Mile-Marker

Twenty four years ago today, my little 6-year-old world came crashing down on what should have just been a normal Friday of first grade and playing with my friends.

Our neighbor across the street was also one of my best friends. His mom would pick me up and let me play at their house on Friday afternoons instead of going to after-care since both of my parents worked.

I remember playing Cops and Robbers in their playroom with Tyler when his mom came in and told me I needed to go home. I got my stuff and ran across the street and our huge front yard and swung the door open.

My little heart wasn’t prepared for what happened next. I was greeted with complete somberness and sadness. My mom was sitting on the couch surrounded by ladies who were comforting and consoling her.

“What’s wrong, Mom?”

In the next few moments, my perfect little world shattered. Our family of five, including my dad who had just adopted me the year before and my two stepsisters, turned into just my mom and I. Over the next few minutes, I would discover many of my things were gone, including the two new puppies we had just got. It was all replaced with a letter that said some of the most defining words of my childhood.

“I only married your mom and adopted you for what I stood to gain by doing so. I never really loved you.”

And just like that, I was abandoned twice before I was 7 years old.

The next few months were filled with me trying to justify it. I begged the only “Dad” I had ever known to still want me. I asked for photo albums and to stay in touch with my sisters. He didn’t want custody of me. He didn’t fight for me. In fact, he fought to not pay child support.

What I would learn 15 years later is that I was a big part of why he left. He couldn’t deal with the medical issues and the difficulties of raising a “special needs” kid. In his words, my existence is just a constant reminder of the mistake he made by signing the adoption decree.

Why am I telling you this today?

Because the pain is still very real.

Even though I’ve come a long way. Even though God redeemed my pain with a real Dad who I got seven of the most amazing months with. Even though I am better for not splitting my childhood between two worlds. Even though I love every single second of the life I live today.

As a kid, all I wanted was to be a daddy’s girl. To be rejected at the deepest level by every guy who walked into my home was devastating. I worked hard to hide it for decades though. I lived with a heart of steel by day and cried myself to sleep every night, begging God to fix whatever was wrong with me.

I lived with the emotional agreement with that lie for twenty years. I lived in complete survival mode for most of my life.

It wasn’t until a mentor I deeply trusted looked me in the eyes a few years ago and said “I don’t buy it. You’re not okay. There’s pain and you have got to deal with it.”

Over the last few years, I’ve come to know and understand my place in my Heavenly Father’s house. I’ve learned what authentic community is. I’ve built confidence and learned that what people do and say to me is about the condition of their hearts but my response is about the condition of mine. I’ve learned that my worth is not a feeling, it’s a fact. I’ve learned that I’m valuable to God, the world around me and to myself – regardless of who I am or what I do. I’ve learned about redemption and freedom.

I’ve learned that the guy who walked out of my house 24 years ago and left me with fragments of a world to make sense of isn’t an evil guy. He’s not the enemy. In fact, in the last few years, I’ve learned to pray for him and his family every single day.

In fact, I pray for all the “dads” who had the opportunity to be my hero and ended up being my villain as a kid.

The biological father that I don’t even know.

The adoptive father who lied to my face and rejected me at the deepest level.

The stepfather who made my teenage years a living hell with crack, alcohol, rage and abuse.

I pray for their hearts and for them to know they are forgiven. I pray they learn to live in the confidence of who they are as sons of God. I pray they would know that while they hurt me, they did not break me. In fact, their decisions made me stronger. I pray for their families to never feel the pain I felt. I pray I was the only one they ever treated like that. I pray for God to arrest their hearts and for them to be the very people who step into some lost kid’s world to help put the pieces back together.

I’ve learned that freedom comes from feeling my feelings, telling the truth about them and trusting God with the healing process.

March 7 is always a mile marker for me. It’s the day I can stop and evaluate how much stronger I am than I was the year before.

Rest assured – this kid is on fire, and beauty always rises from the ashes! The story of redemption lives on….

Two Years: Pressure = Diamonds

Two years ago today, life was normal.

And then two years ago tomorrow happened. I put a lot of stock in dates. I remember the first time I ever stepped into my church, the date I got my real estate license, the day my dad fell out of the sky, the day of my near-fatal car accident, the day I had my first session with my therapist, the date I met my coach, the date my adoptive father abandoned me, the date I learned to like black coffee….and I usually write about those days. I write about the events and emotions of those days. I write about how that day forever changed my life.

But today, I want to do something different.

Two years ago tomorrow, my heart started doing something it had never done before and I found myself lying alone in my apartment gym sweating profusely and trying to catch my breath for nearly 90 minutes. My heart rate was consistently in the 190s and I was almost positive I was going to die and nobody was even going to know where I was.

What happened in the next few days, weeks and months is that I went through one of the absolute hardest seasons of my life (which is quite a statement). If you were close to me in the Spring of 2019, you know I am only here today by the grace of God. I had 108 degree fevers, spent nights in the hospital, had a million tests run, etc and it was July before we got answers on what was wrong and how to treat it.

So many of those days, I just wanted to know I would live. Working out and living a functional life were almost so out of reach that it was just a dream. In fact, if I’m being really honest with you, there were several occasions where I was ready to die. What I endured for those few months was 100 times worse than COVID (I can say that since I’ve lived through that one too).

Even though we got answers and I live a relatively normal life now, I am still constantly reminded that my heart is not good. I take 7 pills a day and wear a heart rate monitor during any and all exercise, just to name a few things. Let’s not even talk about how much higher my health insurance is…

But the day before all this started was just a normal day. I took a Lyft from Mount Juliet to Franklin for what I called “Franklin Fridays.” I worked out with my coach at the studio and it was the last time I did so without him monitoring my HR, blood pressure and oxygen all during a workout. During that session, he told me things were changing and that while his expectations were going up for me, his patience was going down. If only he had known how much more patience we were both going to need in the months to come. After the gym, I went to the Factory at Franklin as I did every Friday. I spent the entire day at my favorite table in my favorite coffee shop writing about how I was about to take over and achieve all my dreams. I ate tacos for lunch. It was a normal day.

I wasn’t prepared for what was about to happen. I was clueless about how strong I would have to be for the next few months. I was clueless about how much I would have to rely on my community for support. I was clueless about how much I would have to borrow from my coach’s confidence that I was not only going to be okay, but that I was going to make it through this and into something amazing. I was clueless about how much mental strength it would take to lay completely still on my stomach while some tech used a faulty laser to try to drill a needle into my spine and do a lumbar puncture. I was clueless about how close 108 degree fevers are to death. I was clueless to the tens of thousands of dollars I would incur in medical bills trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I was clueless about how everything would be different for the rest of my life.

I was just a happy-go-lucky kid sipping my favorite coffee and doing my favorite thing.

Two years later, I wonder if I can learn something from all that these last two years have put me through. Can I learn to appreciate every single moment as if it’s the best I’ll ever get? Can I remember to never take the things like the gym or a cup of fresh coffee or the way my heart beats for granted ever again?

But also, can I give someone else a little hope? Can I allow others to borrow from my confidence? To be a walking miracle that gives them enough faith to fight for another day?

I have a heart condition that a large segment of the medical community deems as an EXCUSE to not exercise or live a normal quality of life. With the help of the best coach on Planet Earth, I refused to accept that. In the last year and a half, we have PROVEN that exercise is the exact response to my condition.

I remember joining a bunch of Facebook groups right after my diagnosis and most of them are full of people who can’t even do their own laundry or pick up their toddler without feeling like they will pass out. My coach told me those people aren’t me.

He was right.

I am running 5ks every night and doing heavy bridges, deadlifts and back squats in-between. I work 75 hours a week and still do all the active things I want to do.

That’s a comeback story. MY comeback story. A story of hope. A story of strength. A story of perseverance.

It’s a story that would have never been possible without the day before the tragedy began. See, God was preparing me for what He knew was about to come my way. And during the hardest season of my life, He used pressure to create diamonds in my story.

What pressure do you need to step into today? Where do you need to be tested and tried? Put into the trenches? Thrown into the game?

You are essential to THE story.

Growing up, I struggled with the belief that God messed up with me. Some days, I honestly believed that God had a factory in Heaven with ideas for new babies and I somehow slipped past quality control. Like if He had noticed me before it was too late, He would have tossed me out with the defects and done something different. Something better.

A few years back, God began a work in me that I can’t even put into words. He started dropping people in my path that would implicate change. Somewhere between the breakdowns and breakthroughs, authentic life change occurred.

I began to believe something different.

I’m not a mistake.

I’m not defective.

I’m not unworthy.

I’m not unlovable.

I’m not invisible.

I’m not useless.

In fact, I discovered more about how I got here. God looked at the world and how His master story was playing out and there was something distinct that was missing. A problem to be solved. A message to be shared. Something to be created.

And His solution was me. He created me on purpose for a purpose.

He intentionally created every fiber of my existence so that I could play a role in His story that nobody else on the planet can.

And when He was done, He saw perfection. He saw it and He was pleased.

“It is good,” He said.

You know what’s even more incredible?

I’m not the only one. He created you on purpose too.

You are essential to the story. That book you’re called to write. That business you’re supposed to start. That song you know will change the world. That church that will reach more people. That YouTube channel you know you need to grow. That app you need to build.

That girl you know you’re supposed to propose to. That stranger you know you need to stop and talk to. That employee who needs an encouraging word. That neighbor who needs their grass cut. That homeless person who needs a meal. That kid who needs new shoes for school.

We need you to step up and do the thing God created you to do.

I’m working with people who are going to do amazing things this year and step into their God-given calling.

We’re going to punch fear (and other lies) in the face and do things with confidence. We are going to look back on 2021 and know we did our part to stitch the world back together.

It’s not too late for you to get started on creating the kind of year that ends in a standing ovation.

What thing are you going to step into this year with FULL confidence that God already knows the end of the story and He still asked you to play your part?

What will you create?

What will you build?

How will you leave someone better than you found them?

Let’s go, gang!

Also, if you are interested in confidence coaching in 2021, send me a message at felicia@feliciacarter.tv or hit me up on social media.

Personal growth plans, reasons or results and my word for 2021

2015 = Service.

2016 = Courage.

2017 = Redemption.

2018 = SHIFT. (Surrender/Humility/Inspire/Flourish/Trust)

2019 = Accelerate.

2020 = Expectation.

Every year, I put together a personal growth plan for Team Felicia. I start with ONE word and then build a roadmap for my entire year based on it. I include a vision statement, goals, commitments and the people I will depend the most on for that year.

My therapist has me turn in a final plan before the end of December each year and then holds me to the word, ideas and goals throughout the year. Every December, we then look back over the previous year’s plan and evaluate what worked, what didn’t, etc. We celebrate the wins and we decide if the losses matter or not.

In my 2020 plan, I wrote a line that said “This is the year of no excuses.”

Then 2020 happened and I kind of regret making that statement now. When J asked me a few weeks ago if we cared about the reasons or the results, I realized that when I said I wouldn’t tolerate any excuses this year, I made a bold statement because I had no idea what 2020 had in store.

You didn’t either. How could we have known we would face a global pandemic and national civil unrest in the midst of one of the most divisive election years of our country’s history? How could Nashville know we would get hit by a devastating tornado, rioting protestors and a bomb that took out 41 businesses on one of the most beloved streets of downtown? How could I have known I would have a heart attack, COVID-19 and a massive job transition?

So the question remains: Is it okay to blame 2020 for all my results, or lack thereof?

IAt face value, my personal values tell me that it’s never okay to fail because you didn’t try. And I’ll be honest friends. There were a lot of failures because I just didn’t try. I told myself at some point I couldn’t get there and I just lost my way. Those are the results, or lack thereof, that Team Felicia is designed to hold me accountable for.

Here’s why laziness is not ever okay. There’s a lot of people who hustled hard despite 2020 and guess what? They shattered their goals. I think of my coworker Kristy who closed 3 transactions as a real estate agent in 2019 and then closed nearly $15mil in 2020. I think of my coach Dustin who 10x’d his luxury brand PT business and made his first hire in 2020, even after only starting his business for real less than two years before. I think of my roommate Alaina who is a music photographer and when COVID hit, she had to pivot fast if she was going to make it. She did and she’s been wildly successful in 2020.

Grace is a real thing and we absolutely have to give ourselves some grace for this year and what happened or didn’t happen. Priorities for many of us changed. Some of you became homeschool teachers while working a job from home and others of your lost your jobs altogether. Or your homes. Or your loved ones. When priorities change, so do goals. Celebrate what you DID accomplish this year, even if it was just surviving and keeping your family alive through the chaos.

Just don’t give yourself an easy out because you got lazy in March or August. Heck. Most of you probably gave up on some of your goals before the pandemic even began.

Back to personal growth plans.

In 2020, my word for the year was EXPECTATION. Funny story: It was NOTHING like I expected it to be. Ha!

It was about walking in expectation for goodness and more of God in my life. Let me tell you a few wins from 2020:

I made a job transition to a company that is better than anything I could have ever dreamed for. Oh, and won a top producer award my first year with them.

I turned THIRTY which is a huge accomplishment for me, and I finally began to believe I might live to be 90 if I keep doing the things I’m doing to keep my body active and healthy.

My vision improved and stayed stable enough for me to comfortably purchase a vehicle and get behind the wheel for the first time after being told 3.5 years ago I’d never be able to drive again.

I learned to trust some key players in my story which has been a game changer for me.

I survived a heart attack and COVID-19.

I helped lead and serve as my church’s online campus broadcasted and hosted more than 900 services over the course of the year.

My word for 2021 is INFLUENCE.

Every goal and commitment I’ve made for this upcoming year is geared around using my influence for good. God entrusted me with what I need to help stitch my part of the world back together. I want this year to be about building bridges, leaving people better than I find them and inspiring deep change in the world, one person at a time.

Here’s what stands out to me.

I’ve been on a journey to discover and live in confidence for the last 5 years, and now I’m confident enough in myself and who I am created and called to be so I can go out there and inspire someone else to do the same.

This is the year of building something great, with great people and yep – you got it – NO EXCUSES!

You can have reasons or results, but you can’t have both.

Are. You. Ready?

Avoid regret by standing your ground with lions

Male lions roar something fierce. They are loud and terrifying when they are on the hunt.

Do you know what is more ferocious than a male lion? A lioness.

The way the lions survive is they enclose their prey. When the prey hear the roar of the male, they will turn to run in fear – right into the jaws of the lioness.

This got me thinking about discipline and regret. As humans, we turn to run from discipline out of fear (actually because we are lazy, but that’s for another post). And when we do, we often run right into the jaws of regret.

Discipline terrifies most of us but the truth is that its bark is worse than its bite. Discipline breeds consistency. Consistency breeds success.

We turn and run from discipline to avoid hard work and the risk of failure. And when we do, we run right into the jaws of regret. It’s quieter. It’s smaller. But regret is so much worse than discipline.

“You can avoid the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. You can’t avoid both.” – Bo Eason

I used to think I was unique in this but I’ve learned that I’m a lot more like the rest of you than I sometimes like to admit. We are all allowing the bark of discipline to scare us right into the mouths of regret.

To write a book, you have to sit down and write. How many of you are sitting down to write on a regular basis?

To build a business, you have to lead generate. How many people are you adding to your database every week?

To get healthy, you have to exercise on a regular basis and make nutritionally-sound eating choices. How many of you are hitting the gym and meal prepping on a regular basis?

To get debt-free, you have to live on a budget with consistency. How many of you are doing that day in and day out?

If you’re like me, you spend more time regretting the goals you’re not accomplishing than you do working with diligence on the very same goals. In other words, we are turning to run from the discipline required to accomplish our goals straight into the jaws of regret.

How do we fix it?

Here’s one simple (not easy, but simple) answer:

Confidence.

Just like the prey, we bail at the roar of discipline because we don’t believe we can win. We let the voices in our heads remind us how many times we have failed or all the reasons why we shouldn’t even try. Our fight-or-flight instincts turn to flight every time because we don’t believe in our own ability to fight. Or we just don’t want to.

Let’s take the lion analogy a step further, shall we?

Do you know what you’re supposed to do if you find yourself in an unexpected situation with a lion?

The experts say to stand your ground.

They advise that you take control of the situation and show the lion who is the boss.

That takes some mighty faith to believe that the lion is going to follow your lead and leave you alone. You know what takes less faith? Standing your ground and working hard on your goals.

It’s going to be hard work. It’s going to suck sometimes. You’re going to fail.

In fact, you might even get bit by the lion of discipline.

You might work really hard and start to gain some traction because you do everything right, just when circumstances happen and the lion bites you.

That doesn’t mean you have to give up, lay down and let the lion devour you for dinner.

Bites and scratches are part of the process.

I want you to be really honest with yourself right now.

Would you rather say you went on a safari and nothing exciting happened but you finished? Or would you rather tell a story about fighting off a ferocious lion?

If your answer wasn’t that you’d rather have a story to tell to make you appreciate the experience more, you’re either really boring or you’re a liar.

I promise it is more satisfying to endure the process. To fight the battles. To earn the scars.

I got my real estate license a year ago. For most people, getting a license looks like going to a class for a few weeks, taking a computer exam and filing the paperwork and applicable fees associated with all three.

For me, I took the class completely online so I wouldn’t have to pay for rideshare to get to and from the class everyday. Then I had to file for accommodations, which required medical documents and explanations and lots of hoops to jump through. My exam was delayed almost a month because of the accommodations process, then when I finally showed up on the day of testing, they weren’t ready for me. They sent me home and told me to come back a few days later. When I showed up the second time, it didn’t look at all like what I was prepared for and I had to “fight a lion” to pass my test. I fought it and I won. In other words, I passed my state and national exams the first time.

Confidence is a choice. Only you can decide to walk in all God has created and called you to be. Only you can decide to stare the lion in the eye and stand your ground. Only you can decide that hard work and discipline is better than regret.

What lion do you need to stare in the eye today?

Find a place to check the “rockstar” at the door

This one won’t pertain to everyone. It might be specifically for my fellow Enneagram 3 performer/achiever types.

I’m a rockstar and I’m proud of it.

I am really good at a lot of things. You are too. If you don’t feel like you are, it’s probably because you’re doing the wrong things or you haven’t been doing the right things for long enough.

My people actually use words like “rockstar” and “champion” to describe me. It’s the greatest feeling in the world. I thrive on it. I wake up everyday with the pressure to out-perform the day before. That adrenaline is what gets me out of bed at 4:30am almost every morning.

I do this in my work, my friendships, the gym, writing, leadership and even in my relationship with God.

I get more done before 8am than most of America gets done in a standard work day.

I strive and thrive. That’s just what I do.

But it’s important to remember that’s not WHO I AM.

I’m just Felicia. And I’m loved and cherished by the Creator of the universe before I accomplish a single thing. In fact, He loves me the exact same at 4:30am as He does at 4:30pm.

Every. Single. Day.

You are too, by the way. Not the Felicia part. You’re who YOU are and you’re fiercely and wonderfully loved by your Creator and Savior.

I am “on” 167 hours a week. At work, in the gym, coffee shops, at home with my roommates, serving and leading for my church, doctors offices and anywhere else I go. I’m even on in Lyfts and grocery store lines.

I love this way of life. When I operate from the healthiest version of me, this allows me to get a lot done and make a big difference in the world around me.

But everyone needs a time and place to just relax. Maybe for you, it’s your bedroom or an hour walk you do in the mornings or at the bar. For me, it’s the hour I spend in my therapist’s office overlooking the Nashville skyline.

My therapist and I have been meeting for (almost exactly) three years. Today, we tried something new. We decided for me to intentionally “check the rockstar” at the door for one hour every week. There’s 168 hours every week and I run at 110 percent for 167 of them. I literally track sleep, steps, macros, calls, minutes, comments, heart rate, blood pressure, dollars, words….I even track how many minutes I’m in the shower to see if I can beat it the following day.

But for one hour, I get to check it at the door and just be human. I can hit the brakes and exhale. Nobody is tracking me. I’m not trying to impress or please anyone. In fact, it’s the opposite in that room. In that room with the view of all that is happening in Nashville, I realize how small and insignificant I am in the grand scheme of reality.

That is exactly what every great human needs to remember every once in a while. You and I are not essential to the world turning. We are priceless to the God of the universe, but we aren’t anymore priceless than everyone else around us.

What is your time and place to check the “rockstar” at the door and unwind?

Confidence is a smart soldier.

“As a confidence coach, what would you say to yourself right now if this version of you were your client?”

My therapist asked a great question a few weeks ago when I was riding the wave right out of confidence into arrogance.

Two days later, I was getting pulled under.

That’s when you know it’s false confidence, by the way. When your confidence is built on the things of God (and not on yourself), you don’t ride a rollercoaster of ups and downs on a daily basis.

Confidence is being built on a solid foundation and the winds of life not blowing you every which way on a moment-by-moment basis. Confidence is built on humility in understanding how big God is and how small we are.

At the optimum of confidence, we are capable of so much more grace. Confidence suffocates offendable mentality, envy, fear and shame. Truthfully, we can’t be full of grace and full of pride at the same time.

One of the things I have learned is that arrogance doesn’t make me stronger. It makes me vulnerable. The minute I step over the line into arrogance is the moment I tell the world to come at me because my outward expression is actually reflecting an inward reality of insecurity, fear and anxiety.

Confidence acts as a smart soldier in battle. It protects our hearts and minds from attacks and finds strength in numbers. Rogue soldiers rarely make it out alive. Why? Because they think they are invincible and immune to the dangers in their midst.

Rogue soldiers aren’t confident, by the way. Contrary to what Hollywood wants you to believe, that’s almost always pure arrogance. Battles are not meant to be fought and won alone. Life is not meant to be lived and fulfilled alone.

Confidence is smart. Arrogance is just stupid.

So how do we do it? How do we keep confidence and get rid of arrogance? I’m so glad you asked. Here’s some of the strategies I have to reduce the temptation to step into arrogance.

  1. Give it to God. Before I open my eyes every morning, I do three things. I thank God for making it through the night, I pray I can still see when I open my eyes and I ask God to take over all the decision-making for the day. I ask him to give me wisdom and guidance to make decisions pleasing to Him and to reflect His light and love to the people I come into contact with.
  2. Ask for feedback. Team Felicia knows I tend to slip into an arrogant state of mind something and they will gently or not-so-gently remind me to snap out of it. But it wasn’t always that way. For many years (and sometimes, now), I would ask people I respected for help. I would just straight ask them if they thought I was being an insensitive jerk or if I was about to do something stupid. Accountability isn’t easy for any of us but I’d much rather someone I really respect tell me the truth than to keep looking and acting like a fool. Remember – confidence breeds in numbers.
  3. Live with gratitude. It’s really hard to be full of yourself and full of thanks at the same time. Actually, it’s impossible. Write out three things you’re thankful for every day, or just verbally share them with a spouse, friend or even (and especially) Jesus. Gratitude brings me to a place of humility so quickly.
  4. Self-evaluate often. I like to keep a running list of things I need to be better at and remind myself of those when I’m starting to feel pretty full of myself. This is not about self-condemnation. The goal is not to beat yourself up over those things. It’s just to remind you that you’re still in your process and you have never “Arrived.”

I bet there’s thousands more ideas. A few weeks ago when I was struggling with this, someone challenged me to talk to someone and ask them what I could do for them. Someone else told me to just laugh. Find something hilarious and just laugh until I got in a different state of mind. Pray, write, laugh, run…whatever it takes for you.

When our confidence is based on our identities as children of God, this arrogance thing gets easier. The more you know who you are are an heir to the throne, the less you need to be a hero in your head.

Beauty rises from the ashes

I wasn’t going to share this today because it’s a beautiful day and I don’t want to ruin it, but then I felt some conviction.

Sometimes, telling the stories of how God brings beauty from the ashes is exactly what we need to build our faith and encourage others in theirs.

Three years ago today, I was at the darkest point of my entire life. I had struggled with suicide ideation for 12 years, and July 10, 2017 was the boiling point. I had my wreck just a few weeks before. I was lying in a bedroom with a back brace on and absolutely no hope. For weeks, I had convinced myself more each day that I was worthless because I was useless. I was isolated. I was desperate. I was scared.

I thought through everything. Every relationship. Every unmet goal. Every detail of what would happen after I was gone. And before the end of the night, I found myself with a bottle of oxycodone in one hand and a Sprite can in the other.

Nothing terrible happened that night. Thank God.

It took me a few more weeks after that but I hit rock bottom and the best thing about that is that the only place to go from there was up. It took a solid six more months to get solid ground under me again. I slowly discovered a new me and learned a new normal.

I spent the night at a psychiatric hospital.

I spent three days at a crisis stabilization unit.

I spent six months in intensive motive transition therapy.

Eventually, I got up off the ground and started inching my way toward a new life. Every day since, I get a little quicker and dare to do a little more.

Today, I am living my very best life. I am still living some of the consequences of that wreck and that season. I still can’t drive, there’s still broken relationships and I’m still paying off all the medical bills.

BUT despite all of that, I am working for the best team in the world doing something I love, getting stronger in the gym all the time, inching my way toward being a published author, building a confidence coaching business, serving with the coolest volunteer team I know at my church, living in a city I love…..should I go on?

The point is….I got out.

Cycles were broken.

Dreams were restored.

Health was replenished.

Abundance was fulfilled.

Hope was found.

Beauty rose from the ashes.

If you met me today, you wouldn’t know I genuinely wanted to die three years ago.

That’s nothing but the grace of Jesus, friends.

How did we do it?

I say “we” because I didn’t do it alone. There’s an evolving team of people who consistently sign up to help me build the life I love. Pastors, doctors, therapists, coaches – people who have created a space where it is okay for me to not be okay but love me too much to let me stay there.

WE consistently work on replacing lies with truth. As I discard the shame and pick up the confidence God created and called me to have as His daughter, really great things happen. Confidence breeds optimism. Optimism breeds faith.

Earlier this week, I heard a story about a man who took his own life because of the insurmountable burden of COVID-19 and the implications thereof. My heart shattered. It took me back to that lonely third floor bedroom where everything seemed magnified. I remember feeling like I was in a hole for weeks and every time I opened my eyes, it felt like more dirt was being thrown on top of me.

It’s times like these where I want to shout from the rooftops.

You. Are. Not. Alone.

Don’t give up. There is hope. Just breathe.

2020 is hard, friends. It’s hard on everyone. Not one of us is immune to the fears, struggles and confusion incurred from 2020. Based on experience, I have one promise.

It WILL get better.

This season is strengthening us for what is next. One day, we will look back and be grateful for all we learned during 2020.

But for the man I heard about this week, he won’t be here to tell the story. His wife and kids. His parents. His siblings. His friends. His coworkers. His golf buddies. They will. They now have one more thing to grieve this year. One more loss to tally. One more thing to keep them awake at night.

Can I encourage you to not give up?

That’s easier said than done, I know. Here’s some real life strategies I use.

  1. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and your future, even if you don’t. I learned a few years ago that I was going to have to borrow from other peoples’ confidence until I had it on my own. Here’s a secret: I still have days where I have to borrow from someone else’s confidence in me. Seriously, find someone – even if just one person – who will believe in your wildest dreams and highest success in life.
  2. Remember God’s faithfulness in your life. When things get hard, remember the stories of when God has provided and protected you in the past. Tell the stories of His promises fulfilled. In order to do this well, I encourage you to keep track of those stories as they happen. Keep a journal. Take pictures. Record audio notes in your phone. Whatever it takes. And when you need a reminder of how good God is, go back and remember that time a check came in the mail just when you most needed it to when a doctor said the word “remission” or when a friend came along at just the perfect time.
  3. Give yourself a side of grace. It’s hard out there right now and nobody that matters is judging you for being exhausted. When the thoughts and fears come crashing down in your head, just close your eyes and breathe. Once you can see daylight again, call someone who will listen and tell you it’s okay. So many times in the last three years, I have done this and had the voice at the other end of the phone speak with calmness and clarity, which transferred to me.
  4. Take your moments slow if you need to. Nobody expects you to be at the top of your game 100 percent of the time. Take your journey one mile at a time. Tackle one project at a time. Clean up one mess at a time. Three years ago, I had to slowly rebuild my life one priority at a time. It felt endless at first but as I mastered one area at a time, I gained the confidence to move to the next thing on the list.

Bottom line is this: Don’t give up. You’re created and called to greatness, even if it feels unattainable right now. You are seen. You matter. Your best days are ahead.

Additional bottom line: Never be afraid to share the stories of God’s faithfulness. Others need to be encouraged by your story. Sharing my struggles isn’t my most fun part of my Friday, but it is probably the most meaningful thing I will do today. Join the club and share yours too.

Why?

Because testifying of the beauty rising from the ashes is heaven’s language. And if we are going to bring Heaven down here, we need to speak its language.

Going deeper into confidence

I talk about confidence a lot, which is good since I call myself a confidence coach.

But what if we went a little deeper? Would that be okay with you?

Let’s start with what confidence is NOT. It is NOT arrogance, self-centeredness, ego, pride or being a jerk.

The world tells us having confidence is a bad thing. Society doesn’t want us to be confident in ourselves because if we all acted like we believed we are already strong enough, smart enough, pretty enough, etc we wouldn’t need to spend the billions of dollars we spend every year trying to be more. “enough.”

So what does everyone tell us? They tie confidence to a body image or a hair style or a clothing brand. They tie it to the car you drive, the cell phone you use or the preworkout you drink.

I know some people who own BMWs and Lincolns and Audis who are some of the most insecure people I have ever met. I bet you do too.

Confidence is about being secure in who you already are with, or without all the extra stuff.

Whether you dropped out at 8th grade or have a PhD.

Whether you are severely obese or are an A-list model.

Whether you ride a bicycle from Goodwill or drive a $100k vehicle.

Whether you flip burgers or flip companies.

Whether you have 5 followers or 5 million on Instagram.

It doesn’t matter. Knowing that you were created to live the life you are living. That’s what confidence is. It’s walking around this planet with your head held high and eyes wide open. Assured in what you’re wearing, eating, driving or doing.

Don’t get me wrong. A true champion understands he is always on a journey and looking for ways to get better at the game, but he doesn’t go into the ring thinking, “I’m not as good as my opponent. I should be wearing different gloves. I’m probably going to lose.”

No. That would be what we call S-T-U-P-I-D.

Athletes, music artists, actors, public speakers and any kid starting the first day of school – we want them to have confidence in what they are doing or we know they will fail. So why don’t WE show up to the game every single day, ready to knock down anything in our way?

Over the next 10 days or so, I’m going to unpack confidence in each area of our lives. We will talk about careers, family, fitness, social media and more. I’ll give you practical pro tips – things I actually do every single day – to help play the game of life in confidence. You don’t want to miss it. Subscribe to FeliciaCarter.TV and you’ll get an email when new content goes live. You can also make sure to follow me on social media to not only get access to all my content but also other really random posts about me and my life – like when I am proud of a run or accomplish something awesome at work.

What specific thing in your life do you think you’re the best at doing with confidence?

Know what (WHO) you’re FOR

I am for people – and I am for them one at a time.

It’s really that simple.

I don’t care if you are an anonymous person in a chat room, a cashier at a grocery store, a homeless man on the interstate ramp, a frazzled single mom, a rebellious teenager, a Fortune 500 CEO, or a potential homebuyer in Knoxville. No matter who you are, what your story is or where you are headed, I am FOR you.

While I’ve always been about helping people and loving people well, I haven’t always known what I was for. In fact, it was just in the last few years that I was able to put my heart under a microscope and find out that the thing that fuels me is people and their stories.

And to take it a step further, it’s to see people owning their stories. Stories are the heart of every great thing happening around us. Stories are the mirrors we have to reflect God’s goodness to the world. Stories are how we connect with others. Stories are the tools we have to leave our mark in the world.

When I learned what (or in my case, who) I was for, everything else got easier. Way easier. I stopped having to chase someone else’s purpose and I started falling into mine. Knowing that I am for people and their stories changed the way I do every single thing in my life.

It’s why I work so hard to help people own their stories. Because I believe that owning your story allows you to live in confidence for your purpose.

So what are you for? Who are you for? Maybe you owning your story and living in confidence is about being FOR the people in your house. Or maybe you are for a group of high school football players. Or maybe you are for the people of your company, neighborhood, team, church, city, state, country or the world.

It really doesn’t matter. But no matter who you are or what you do/want to do, the first thing you have to do is find out who or what you’re for.

I’m going to help you out. If you can’t figure this out on your own, find out what people think you’re for. It’s not hard. Just ask them.

“When you think of me, what do you think I’m about?”

Here’s a hint.

If the answer is “yourself” or “I don’t know,” you should fix that really fast.

It doesn’t matter what you want to be about or what you think about yourself. If people think you are all about yourself and for yourself, they won’t trust you. Your kids won’t trust your. Your clients won’t trust you. Your players won’t trust you.

When you are for other people, you earn their trust and respect. And that’s priceless.

If you have to tell people what you are for and try to manipulate them into believing you, you’re just smoke and mirrors.

Know what you’re for. And then put it in front of you. On your phone, mirror, desk, dash, fridge. I don’t care – just plaster it in front of you everywhere you can. And every single decision you make should run through that filter.

For more on the idea of knowing what you’re for, you should definitely read Jeff Henderson’s book on the subject. It’s seriously one of the best business books I’ve ever read but really – it’s just a really great read for anyone!

If you found this to be helpful, head over and opt in to the Carter, Confidence & Coaching community, and then invite your friends to join in too. You’ll get weekly coaching emails dripping with value that people pay big money for. And for a (very) limited time, you can get in 100% FREE!

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