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My Red Carpet Revelation

Do you think there are a finite number of “A-ha” moments in life?  Do they come wrapped in a bright blue Tiffany box or are they in a crumpled up brown paper bag, lying in the gutter and so hidden you need to look for them?  I think it’s the latter.

Many of you already know my story and how my TV news career came to a sudden end.

But it didn’t start out that way. When I first joined that CBS morning show, I thought, finally – a show and a role where I could let my personality shine through and that’s what I did, to an extent. Or so I thought.

Flash forward to the here and now.

A couple of nights ago, I had the great pleasure of attending Woman’s Day’s Red Dress Awards, which draws attention to women and heart disease in my role as a spokeswoman for the WD brand.

Here’s my posse and me; Woman’s Day TV correspondents Summer Sanders, Trish Suhr, Carlos Lamadrid (SVP and Chief Brand Officer, Woman’s Day), me (and my large hair) and Tasha Smith. Looking good ladies!

By the end of the night we were all starving (hey, you don’t fit into dresses like those by eating Doritos and White Castle) so we made our way to one of Manhattan’s five star restaurants (normally by this time, I would be in my flannel pajamas, digesting a 330 calorie Healthy Choice entrée that I zapped and wolfed down earlier in the evening). After we’d shimmied out of our Spanx and let our hair down, the relaxed, real conversation followed. Trish mentioned that she couldn’t get over how the person sitting across from the table from her was the same, seriously BORING person she used to watch on that morning show. I laughed because I never thought of myself that way; surely she was mistaken. Or was she? Was I really boring in my old TV role?

So I started looking back on that time and realized my predominant emotion was FEAR. I even see it on my face when I look back at my photos from those years. I was afraid of screwing up. Afraid of not fitting in. Afraid of getting fired. Yet somehow, I managed to do all three.

Fear can be a motivator; when you run across a Grizzly while hiking, he’ll motivate you to run like your life depended on it. It didn’t work so well in my situation though, instead prompting a state of “learned helplessness” in me that made my deeply discounted Jimmy Choos feel like cinder blocks on my feet. Anyone who’s been in this place knows it just sucks to be operating that way and there’s no way you can do your best work.

When I was fired from my job, my worst fear had come true. Some said “I’m sorry and that sucks.” And then there were those who said, “It’s the best thing CBS could have done for you.”

That last comment was truly headscratching to me – until this year. In that other job, I put on a role and persona, just like the make-up and hairspray. And I wanted so desperately for people to like me so I could keep that job. I downplayed the sharp humor and quick retorts because they always earned me a phone call afterward. I’m not gonna lie, it took a minute but this year it dawned on me, I was free to be me.

So from that time I learned three things:

*THERE ARE NO SHORT CUTS: you have to put in the time and take every opportunity to learn from the challenging times.

*REAL GROWTH HURTS: Don’t expect to be comfortable while you’re being challenged. It’s called A CHALLENGE! Stretch outside your normal capacity, try something new and shake off the fear.

*LOOK PAST THE TIFFANY WINDOW: Widen your scope and view. If you’re focusing on what is only in your eye line, window shopping for only the good stuff while turning your nose up at what appears to be beneath you, trust me, you’re probably going to miss something game-changing.

But what about you? Have you ever felt stuck and needed a push? Did you get that push and are wondering, now what? What is your plan to push past the fear? Come share your stories – you’re among friends!

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