Archives For self worth

Your Story: Emily Maynard

Emily Maynard —  October 23, 2012 — 11 Comments

Note from Alana: I first came across Emily at I was drawn to Emily’s rawness and how she showed her strength through her vulnerability. I’m honored that she would share part of her Story here today.

My Story: The Busiest Person Doesn’t Win
by Emily Maynard

It must have started when they named me.

Emily means “Diligent One,” and I definitely am that. I may not always be the “Focused One” or “Tasks Completed One,” but my life has been full of energy and opportunity. I traveled extensively in high school, worked my way through college in the Midwest, and moved back to my beloved Portlandia. But somewhere along the way, my name got twisted up. Somehow, somewhere, I took on the name of “Does Everything One,” which quickly turned into “Disappointed One,” “Self-Berating One,” “Flakey One,” and “Exhausted One.” And let me tell you, these titles are even less fun in real life than they are on this page. When you’re so tired you can’t even sleep, your body starts to reject certain food groups, and your immune system is on permanent hiatus, it’s probably time to start paying attention. And that’s what it took for me to stop competing and start listening to myself. Continue Reading…

Being Who I Am

Alana —  August 30, 2012 — 4 Comments

Note from Alana: This is strange. Josh and I both wrote our posts on this topic within a similar time frame. Each not knowing the other person was writing about the same theme. I’m intrigued by how many 30-somethings struggle with their identity… and perhaps people of all ages do, but it’s the 30-somethings that are beginning to speak out. You can see Josh’s guest post here.

Alana Mokma, you are OKAY as you are.

Just be you.
Just be you! It sounds so simple. Yet for me, this is really difficult. To be honest, it’s embarrassing. Especially because I’m putting myself out there as a person who can help you identify who you are. I can help you identify your strong spots, your weak spots, your passions, your talents… but… I’ve been struggling to do this for myself.

Two weeks ago, I realized why: Continue Reading…

The backstory.
Josh was out of town this past weekend for a cycling event, so I had the house to myself. Being a person who loves to be surrounded by people, my original plans were to pack virtually every moment with hosting out-of-town guests, meeting up with others for coffee, and spa dates. As the time drew closer, a few of the plans fell through and I felt the increasing desire (or need) to spend a substantial amount of this time alone. This time would be used to re-group and focus on what the heck I am doing in life. Ha. One of the things I love about myself is that I always have ideas for projects, businesses and improvements. One of the things that frustrates me about myself is that I always have ideas for projects, businesses and improvements. My mind moves at 100 miles/hour and sometimes I cannot even keep up with myself. I feel like this weekend, I got a little taste for what this has been like for those around me. :)

My original intention for the weekend was to figure out which of my many projects I should pursue first. However, it took a completely different direction. Last Wednesday I met with my naturopath of whom I’ve been meeting with for at least three years now. That being said, he has had plenty of time to get to know me – my strengths, desires and struggles. The abbreviated conclusion of our conversation is that I do not love myself. Yikes. This is coming up, AGAIN?? This must be an underlying current because it pops up in various areas of my life and recently has been popping up more and more often.

The twist.
I left his office with a new focus for the weekend – one I was much less excited about: “I am loved and accepted by myself and by God right where I am.” Not so ironically, the thing I have been avoiding is what I needed most. And… ironically, the thing I wanted most for others is what I most needed.

The basics.
I have based my value strongly on what I can produce – how quickly I can turn projects at work, how much house cleaning I can complete, how many people I can help… It has been an exhausting life to say the least. In my mind, if I am not actively producing, then I do not have value. So to deal with this this weekend, I chose to eliminate distractions (facebook, e-mail, and tv) and all projects (no blogging, no housework, no finishing the basement project that I started and have left hanging for a week now). It was hard.
I then wrote on a few notecards, “I am loved and accepted by myself and by God right where I am” and placed these in each of the bathrooms. Throughout the weekend, if I found myself thinking critically of my physical appearance or spastic tendencies I would drop what I was doing and force myself to walk into the bathroom, look into the mirror and read out loud: “I am loved and accepted by myself and by God right where I am.” Admittedly, at first, I had a difficult time even looking myself in the eye. Throughout the weekend it became easier.

The love.
Despite all the “soul-searching” I have done over the past year, I have lost touch with the basics of what I love to do. I have been caught up in what everyone else thinks I am good at or what they think I should do. This week, when I met with my naturopath, he asked me “What do you love to do?” When I’m asked this, I always go back to the same staple answer: “Well, I love being with and interacting with people.” This weekend I forced myself to go deeper.

What do you love to do?

I selected a yellow index card, wrote the words, “What do you love to do?” and taped it on our living room wall. Throughout the weekend, as things came to mind that I truly enjoyed doing, I would write them down and tape them to the wall underneath the original card. I was surprised by my answers! I forgot how much I enjoyed dancing. At one point this weekend, I closed the living room curtains, moved the furniture and danced like a crazy woman – and had a BLAST!

The conclusion.
I realized a few things this weekend:
– I don’t need to have all life’s answers figured out RIGHT NOW.
– My value is not based on what I can produce (still grappling with this one).
– It’s okay to take time to do the things I love to do (dance like nobody is watching).

What is one thing you love to do but have put it on the back burner because “life happened”? Please share in the comment section.

But… He Said I Was Pretty

Alana —  February 6, 2012 — 18 Comments

Have you ever had a scent, a song, a taste or a location bring memories flooding back to you from your past?

I have, and it happened again this weekend. I went to Lansing on Saturday to spend time with friends and family. Lansing is about an hour south-east from where I live now in Grand Rapids… Lansing is also the city I grew up in. As you can imagine I have many memories from this town.

I came alone this time, so the commute and downtime in between meeting up with people allowed for me to contemplate. I drove past a couple of the locations I use to work – McDonald’s and what use to be, Circuit City. I really enjoyed both of those jobs, but they also brought with them memories of me at 16, 19 and 22. First a girl, then a young woman, greatly desiring to be loved and told that I was beautiful and worth fighting for.

A specific memory came to mind of a coworker I hung out with. We hung out at his apartment. He didn’t live in the greatest area. It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t good either. When it was time for me to go, he walked me to the front door of his apartment, but stopped there. I stopped too. “Aren’t you going to walk me to my car?” He laughed and said, “No. It’s cold outside.” I was stunned, but not feeling confident, I didn’t call him out on it. I just turned and walked briskly to my car.

As I re-experienced this memory, my heart sank for this girl who was looking for protection and not receiving it. That experience reinforced a message that had already been festering within her, “If you were worth anything to him, he would have walked you to your car.”

Growing up, and sometimes even now, I find myself engaging in relationships that are unhealthy and abusive. Sometimes I have chosen to stick around because the thought of being alone seemed more scary than the abuse.

What abusive or unhealthy relationships are you choosing to continue simply because you are afraid to be alone, to lose a friend or to have conflict? Maybe its time to step away from this relationship. You are worth fighting for.

How to Get What You Want: Tip #2

Alana —  October 20, 2011 — 11 Comments

"My Brand" from Alana's Vision Board

#2: Know and Embrace Your Brand.

Problem: Sometimes people don’t get me. I’ve been told I’m too happy, optimistic and talkative. Easily Excitable. Scatterbrained. I’ve been laughed at for the way I dress. I’ve been told I am stubborn and bossy. I’ve definitely been teased for asking too many questions.

I have taken these messages and internalized them to believe that I’m a wacky dressed weirdo who people don’t want to be around because I run my mouth and tell them what to do.

I don’t 100% believe all these things all the time, but they have certainly shaped my self image. Through various events and interactions, I have come to believe that people don’t really care what I have to say, so I trip over my words just trying to get my story out fast enough before losing my listener’s attention. Have I lost yours yet? Okay great! You are still with me.

Last week, my husband and I were in Georgia at a public speaking boot camp hosted by Kent Julian. I had two specific interactions with Kent where I spoke to him out of my insecurities. We were discussing what my “message” would be. Timidly, I said, “I don’t think people want to hear what I have to say.” He immediately put me in my place (thanks Kent!) “Alana, you have got to get over this. You have a presence about you and people are drawn to you. People will want to hear what you have to share.” Later that evening I contemplated his words. I realized, if I don’t value my own opinions and my own voice how can I expect others to value them? Whoah. WHOAH!

Now, back to the importance of Knowing and Embracing Your Brand.

Solution: We all have a brand. Your brand is who you are – your personality, your strengths, your weaknesses, your passions. My brand in one word is “Challenger.” I challenge the status quo. I challenge current fashion trends and HECK YES I challenge the people around me by asking penetrating questions so that I can understand.

My husband Josh wrote his second blog post on “branding.” You can find it here. A few of the questions he asks are: What are you known for? What do you hope to be known for? How do colleagues and relatives describe you? If someone had to describe you in one word, what would be?

I encourage you to not only know your brand, but to embrace it. You are YOU for a reason.

What is your brand? Leave a note in the comments below and check out Josh’s post about branding at

These ladies know how to embrace their brand:

To My Fellow Creatives

Alana —  October 4, 2011 — 9 Comments

“I am the least creative person. Anything I do creatively looks like it was done by a kindergartner.”

I was dumbfounded. I was sitting across the desk from my coworker and had just asked her, “What would you like your coworkers to know about you?” I was interviewing – we’ll call her “Sheri” – for our next company newsletter. First of all, here is Sheri’s chance to say something really great about herself and she chose to highlight something she viewed as negative. Secondly, the least creative person? What does that mean?

Today, I challenge the definition of Creativity. I am assuming Sheri meant that she does not have skills in drawing, painting, writing, dance, music or the like.

But are those really the only things that are considered Creative?

I’d like to pose that Creativity is wanting to purchase an expensive bicycle and doing everything you can to figure out how to get the money. Whether it is selling items you no longer use, doing extra chores for a friend or taking on a second job.

Creativity is driving on your way home from work, getting stuck in traffic and maneuvering your way to find a different route.

Creativity is having a certain gentleman catch your eye on your first day of class and going home and picking out the perfect outfit, perfect hair and perfect makeup that will be sure to grab his attention the next time he sees you.

Creativity is spotting a shy person in your dance class and finding topics that will get her to open up and engage in conversation.

For a long time, I have struggled with my own creativity and how good I am at being Creative. My father and sister are both incredibly talented artists and I have always fought the feeling that my creativity level does not – and would never – match theirs. When I attempted to paint or draw, those skeezy voices would kick in, “Wow. Nice try. Your sister’s drawings are much more realistic,” and “That took you how long? Your dad could have had that done in ten minutes.” Only recently, have I realized that Creativity shows its face in many ways. I possess a knack for engaging others in conversation and getting them to feel comfortable with not only me, but also with themselves.

Looking back, Sheri was an incredibly creative person. She had a mezmerizing way of sharing stories. I just wanted to sit and listen to her talk because I enjoyed her inflections, silly phrasing and gestures. I wish I would have told her that day because she no longer works with us.

Creativity is so much bigger than the word we seem to narrowly define.

Thanks Luke Simpson for your drawing! You can check out his mad skillz at:

"Creative" by Luke Simpson @