A Lesson in Self-Sabotage from ANTM’s Angelea

I’m a fan of Tyra Banks and America’s Next Top Model. I can’t believe it’s been 17 seasons already. My favorites from this season were Allison, Laura, Lisa, Dominique, Kayla, and Angelea. Unfortunately, the latter self-sabotaged her and was disqualified from ANTM. According to online sources, she was disqualified for ‘tweeting’ and posting ‘spoiler alerts’ on her Facebook page. Another speculation is that she was pregnant. Others are saying she was crowned the winner but posted it before ANTM’s finale aired. Who knows what the ‘truth’ is? Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter. Angelea, the girl from Buffalo, NY, who’s desperately trying to put her past behind her and cultivate a better life, seems to self-sabotage herself. In fact, Lisa predicted it. She said, “I don’t think Angelea’s ready for this.” I think she’s right.

I was rooting for Angelea because I felt her pain and understood where she was coming from. However, Ms. Preston would probably benefit from therapy and life coaching if she really wants to move forward and succeed in life. I believe if she would face her ‘inner demons’ head on, she’d be able to see her family’s pathology, heal from it, and move forward in a new direction that’s right for her. If she continues to ignore the ‘self-sabotaging’ signs, she’ll continue to repeat self-sabotaging behaviors and patterns until she learns from them. Speaking from experience, I advise her to face herself in the mirror and heal her life.

I give Lisa props because she was very honest about the abuse she suffered in her life. She had the courage to seek therapy and continues to heal herself. Angelea would benefit from staying in contact with Lisa who could help her work through the issues in her life. It will take great courage on Angelea’s part to reach out and ask for help. Again, speaking from experience, I know this isn’t easy. But it can be done and people are willing to help, if you let them.

I wish Angelea the best in life; whether or not she’s a success is up to her. If she’s serious about being an All-Star, it would behoove her to find a good therapist and life coach who could help her process her life experiences so she can learn from them. She could take her knowledge and experience to help other girls who’ve been in her shoes so they too can heal and move forward in their lives. Good can come from Angelea’s disqualification but it’s up to her to recognize it.

Amandah

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Interview with Vanessa Lee from Smile Inside

The following is an interview with Vanessa Lee, owner of Smile Inside, a personal development organization that advocates for the wellbeing and personal development of youth.

Vanessa Lee graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Education from Ohio University and was selected for an advanced program that provided extensive experience and training in innovative methods of teaching. She has over 300 hours of professional development along with additional training that has contributed to her knowledge in the field of personal development. 

Ms. Lee developed and co-facilitated a mentoring program and developed and facilitated a grade 7 girls program at Debney Park Secondary College. She also worked with students and groups at The Grange Primary, Newport Gardens Primary, and Derrimut Primary and continued working for Mackillop Family Services on a freelance basis with individuals on social, emotional, and academic levels.

Vanessa’s experiences inspired her to develop and provide resources for professionals who work with youth as well as for parents and their children ages 5-12. Visit Smile Inside to learn more. 

Interview Questions

 1. How did you come up with the idea for Smile Inside? What was the inspiration for it? 

I started out teaching in Kansas City, Missouri and saw how social problems affected families which had an impact on learning in the classroom. I wanted to contribute to the world and thought if young people had all the tools they needed to deal with life then the social problems wouldn’t be so bad, families wouldn’t fall apart as much, and kids would embrace learning and follow their dreams. I believed that an ideal way to do this is through education in schools, but was disappointed when I learned over the years that the things I thought should be considered priorities were shoved to the side to make way for test preparation. How can a child be expected to learn if they are struggling emotionally? Another huge hindrance is that teachers just don’t have enough time, support or resources to manage to the best of their ability.

I was really inspired by the courses and camps that taught me about myself and made such a huge difference in my life in middle school and high school. I was disappointed to learn that these sorts of experiences weren’t accessible to everyone and that it just wasn’t a priority in the school curriculum. I feel it is in everyone’s best interest to have access to these types of programs and activities.

Smile Inside is about advocating for personal development in schools and providing the services and resources that schools’ and those who work with youth deserve and need.

2. What do you think about the increase in bullying among today’s youth? Does Smile Inside educate youth about bullying? What about educating parents and educators about the short and long term effects of bullying? How can bullying be avoided in the future?

I find bullying heartbreaking, especially among young people. I was a student welfare coordinator in a 7-12 high school in Australia for 3 years (similar to a counselor) which gave me a greater insight on how bullying affects lives. Victims need support and coping strategies which is a part of Smile Inside’s method, but this is only a band-aid approach. There is a disturbing lack of empathy in bullies, but there are also emotional issues which cause their behavior. One of my intentions in developing the Smile Inside programs and resources was to eliminate bullying behaviors. There are a number of reasons why bullies act out and they, along with everyone else, can benefit from support, guidance and positive attention. Some of the activities emphasize that everyone deserves respect by focusing on the development of empathy. Participants are also given the opportunity to express themselves, explore their self-talk, and learn coping skills. Other activities give individuals the confidence they need to battle insecurity which is often a cause of bullying.

I would hope that all parents and educators understand the importance of dealing with the bullying issue, but this is not always the case. In schools, most teachers do their best to stamp it out but again, lack of time, support and resources work against them. Parents sometimes get involved but they can go about it in the wrong way. Smile Inside’s main aim is to educate youth, but the anti-bullying strategies are communicated to teachers, and parents in most cases.

I think a reasonable way to abolish bullying is through focused detection and intervention efforts using a Restorative Justice approach. I also think a prevention/intervention effort using a “heal the bully” approach is effective. These kids are hurting so much on the inside that causing others suffering is one way they cope with what’s going on internally. One activity I do with youth is called, “The Problem with Villains”. It gets participants working out how to rationalize bullies’ behaviors and brainstorming solutions to solve the problem in a group situation where bullies are present, but not targeted. Once bullies realize their behavior may be coming from a problem in their life they are more likely to soften and be open to help and healing. This indirect approach is more effective than the confrontational, negative attention they receive when they ‘get in trouble.’ Schools need more support and resources to tackle this issue properly. This could be done with more government funding and by creating strong partnerships with organizations that specialize in this area.

3. According to the website, “Smile Inside trains Educators, Student Welfare Coordinators, Youth Workers, Camp Counselors, Secondary School Nurses, and Chaplains to increase their effectiveness when working with groups of youth via peer observation.” What benefits have youth received as a result from Smile Inside working with people in the above fields?

Professional development is a never-ending process to become the best we can be in our field. Gaining inspiration and new ideas from fresh approaches helps these professionals to hone their skills and try new things. The youth benefit because the ones they trust are enhancing the style of their interactions with them. A new tactic just may work with a child who before, they had problems reaching.

4. How does Smile Inside help young people be true to themselves when parents, peers, society, etc. want them to be something they’re not? 

The Smile Inside philosophy maintains that an individual with an authentic sense of self, social skills, and resilience will be well-equipped to face life’s challenges and find success in all aspects of life. In other words, if they know and feel confident in who they are, they can remain true to their convictions and stand up to adversity when it comes their way whether that be in the form of a parent, a peer or an employer.

The soon to be independently-published resource, Smile Inside: Experiential Activities for Self-Awareness, Ages 14-15 specifically gives youth the space to develop their sense of self. It helps them to explore their mind, needs, values, morals, perception of self, emotions, abilities, interactions with others and interests through activities, reflection, and discussion.

5. Is it easier for youths to master their behaviors and minds versus adults? What can adults learn from today’s youth in this area?

This is a difficult question to answer as everyone is unique. I am not so sure that age is a factor; some are more ready than others depending on many conditions. I do believe if young people are given access to techniques that will support their ability to master their behaviors and minds they have a definite advantage in succeeding in life.

Adults can learn so much in all areas from youth if they are willing to listen. Young people have a lot to offer and there is much to gain from their perspective. As far as learning to slow down, focus and follow our hearts, let’s hope we can be inspired by whoever is doing so, child, teen or adult.

6. What is your ‘personal philosophy’ for life? 

Love, peace, and happiness. 🙂

7. Anything you’d like to add? 

I am very excited to finally be publishing two resources that I have been working on since the age of 14. I have been collecting all the activities that have made a positive impact on me and have been testing, revising and creating even more since. They are in the form of handbooks for those who work with youth titled, Smile Inside: Experiential Activities for Self-Awareness Ages 12-14 and Smile Inside: Experiential Activities for Self-Awareness Ages 14-15. I am also in the process of trialing a resource for parents which is a positive reinforcement system for children, ages 5-12.

How Can Vanessa Lee and Smile Inside Help?

I’m a kid coach: In primary schools I get to see them in action in the classroom and work with them in and outside of the classroom on academics, social skills and self awareness. In the past, I have also worked with middle school aged students in relatively the same manner. At the present, I am also being contracted to work with individuals, mostly young people who are having academic, social, and emotional difficulties. Quite a few of them are in foster care or residential units.

Counseling: When I work one-on-one with young people in an academic setting whether it be at a school or private tutoring, I find that part of the job is counseling. I like to empower young people with skills that help them become who they truly want to be. If their goal is negative, I strive to steer them towards a more positive outcome through a variety of methods. Having individuals looking at their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual (if appropriate) levels of self is a wonderful base to help them realize their potential.

Meditation and Yoga: I trained as a yoga instructor and I use what I have learned to help others. Silencing the mind, using a mantra to focus, slowing the breath, creative visualization and using balancing poses to focus are all techniques that I incorporate into helping youth to learn self-awareness.

Visit Smile Inside to learn more about Vanessa Lee and her organization.

Amandah

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What I Learned from Reading Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through

I recently finished reading Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Best-Selling author Iyanla Vanzant. I saw Ms. Vanzant on Oprah‘s farewell season — it was a good show! I didn’t run out and get the book, but months later I ordered it from the library. I admit I started doing this as a way to ‘try a book before I buy it.’ I decided I want to add this book to my library.

I found the book to be very moving, especially when Iyanla spoke about her daughter, Gemmia. I recognized myself in Gemmia; I also recognized my mother to a certain extent in Iyanla. I also recognized my father in Gemmia’s father, even though my father didn’t leave; he was an abusive alcoholic and in a sense, checked out of my life.

Like Gemmia, I threw myself into school and got good grades and was responsible. I was looking for validation from my father that I really didn’t get. He tried to tell me how proud he was when I earned my B.S., Accounting degree; however, I always felt that a part of him was jealous that I did earn a college degree. He wanted a degree and attended college here and there, but never earned a degree.

I also learned that it would be in my best interest to let go of the anger towards myself. I forgave my mom and dad; I realized they parented me based on they were parented. They didn’t know better which is why they didn’t do better. However, I still haven’t forgiven myself for the decisions I’ve made along the way such as pursuing an accounting degree, when I wanted a marketing degree. I also wanted to pursue art and writing. I pursued an accounting degree to please my father. There’s another lesson — people pleasing seems to run rampant in my family.

Getting back to forgiving myself … I need to let go of the anger I have towards myself because my life hasn’t worked out as I thought or planned it to. For example, I moved to Arizona in 2007, and three years later I was living back home with my mom in my home state. I kept beating myself because I know I’m responsible and it should have worked out because I planned everything out. I also allowed certain people to ‘guilt’ me into thinking I made a mistake by moving to Arizona; I left my mom and sister. I now realize I can’t help it if certain family members are scared to take a risk such as moving out of state. I now know — it’s none of my business. I also realized that sometimes family members won’t have your back. It is what it is. I’m now determined to ‘create’ my own family, a family of loving and supportive people.

BTW: I released my hold on Arizona when I read Iyanla’s words about hearing her daughter say, “Let go of the physical.” I re-read those words over and over until it sank into my brain.

I realize that I need to acknowledge my disappointment about my move to Arizona and other things that have occurred in my life — there are too many to list here. It’s not easy for me to wade into disappointment; I’m a fun loving Leo (horoscope sign). I know if I want to continue to heal, it would behoove me to feel the pain and work through it. If I don’t, I could repeat the self-sabotaging pattern. I’d rather work through it.

I also realized that Gen X and Gen Y could benefit from life coaching from their peers. No offense — but most life coaches seem to be old enough to be my mom or dad. I’m not saying I can’t learn from these people, obviously I learned from Ms. Vanzant, but it’s nice to hear from my peers and how they released and forgave their past, parents, spouses, them, etc. It makes think, “Gee, I’m not alone.” This is why I’m glad Iyanla wrote about her daughter, Gemmia, and her life experience.

I would recommend reading Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through. If you’re ready to really get to the ‘heart’ of your family’s pathology and recognize the patterns, this book is for you. If not, that’s alright. Perhaps, one day you’ll be ready.

Best,
Amandah

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What’s the Point of Life?

A very ‘short anecdote’ based on the 10 random words from Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #194. Posted: 17 Nov 2011 08:02 AM PST

Put
Point
Bizarre
Weave
Spiral
Weird
Goofy
Pop
Cult
Fan

“Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive!”
~ Sir Walter Scott

Melanny pondered Sir Walter Scott’s words as she gazed at the ocean from the deck of her Malibu home. She’s been contemplating life since her childhood best friend Karrey overdosed a few weeks ago. Melanny tried to help her, but she couldn’t. No one could. Life really is a spiral. We think we move backward, when in fact, we continue to move forward. How bizarre is that? What is the point of life? She continued to stare at the ocean.

Karrey had a goofy, weird sense of humor – some people thought she was over the top. She loved The Cult and was a huge fan of music from the 1990s. Karrey loved alternative music but would listen to Pop music now and again. She was a free spirit through and through. Why did she have to put those damn drugs into her body? Melanny was searching for answers that may never be answered.

Amandah T. Blackwell

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Embrace Life

A poem based on Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #193. Posted: 14 Nov 2011 07:40 AM PST

Gentle
Sweat
Guide
Design
Simple
Full
Borrow
Trace
Technique
Flip

Life is simple and you get to design it all,
Be gentle with yourself as try to live up to your full potential.
Borrow from great thought leaders such as Napoleon Hill,
And guide your thoughts to those things that bring you joy.

Can you trace the web of your life to your present situation?
Use a technique such as meditation to quiet your mind and listen to the stillness within.
Flip off the All Negative Channel playing in your head every day,
Sweat no more that you’re not good enough – you are good enough.

Amandah T. Blackwell

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The Clearing

A short story based on Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #182
Posted: 06 Oct 2011 04:18 AM PDT

  1. Exacting – Making severe demands; rigorous: an exacting instructor; Requiring great care, effort, or attention: an exacting task
  2. Libation – The pouring of a liquid offering as a religious ritual; The liquid so poured. ; Informal. A beverage, especially an intoxicating beverage
  3. Masturbatory – If I need to explain this…
  4. Lozenge
  5. Gargle
  6. Sumptuous – Of a size or splendor suggesting great expense; lavish
  7. Degraded
  8. Cardamom – A rhizomatous Indian herb (Elettaria cardamomum) having capsular fruits with aromatic seeds used as a spice or condiment.
  9. Nefarious – Infamous by way of being extremely wicked.
  10. Syncopated – stressing a normally weak beat

The libation flowed over her body and cleansed her of the slimy energy she picked up throughout the day. She even created her own gargle and lozenge to clean her mouth of any nefarious words she spoke; they usually weren’t hers.

She made a sumptuous vegetarian meal seasoned with cardamom; she liked to eat as cleanly as possible. Eating degraded meats was out of the question for her. But no one in her family understood this. The way they eat meat seemed like a masturbatory experience. To each their own.

She didn’t make exacting demands over the people the around her. What gave them the right to do that to her? She gave them the right by not setting strong boundaries. Her syncopated life needed resuscitating. Otherwise, it would be over. And it would be too late for her to live the life she was meant to live.

Amandah T. Blackwell

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Clearing Out the Albatrosses of Your Life

Short story based on Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #185
Posted: 17 Oct 2011 06:07 AM PDT

  • Loquacious – talking or tending to talk much or freely; talkative; chattering; babbling; garrulous
  • Sedentary
  • Artistic
  • Voracious
  • Fluorescent
  • Rad
  • Delicious
  • Rotund – round in shape; rounded: ripe, rotund fruit
  • Decapitate
  • Slimy

The loquacious people in her life are sedentary when it comes to cleaning up and taking responsibility for their lives. She, on the other hand, is artistic and rad.

Their slimy energy engulfs her; it’s like they have a voracious appetite for destroying her spirit. They’d like to decapitate her because they can’t stand how delicious her life is.

Their rotund faces are nothing more than masks hiding their anger, frustration and pain. Their happiness is artificial like fluorescent lights. Luckily, she knows how to clean her energy. She won’t be sucked into their drama.

Amandah T. Blackwell

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Blow Away the Pain

A short story based on Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #179
Posted: 26 Sep 2011 06:46 AM PDT

  • Bone
  • Bore
  • Bunk
  • Blow
  • Break
  • Beat
  • Bleed
  • Bloom
  • Budge
  • Bend

How much do you have to bleed from your soul before you realize it’s up to you to bend? It’s up to you to budge from where you’re at in your life. What do you have to do break those negative belief and thought habits? No one can beat them out of you. It’s up to you to blow them away like a mighty wind. If every bone in your body hurts, you can choose to dissolve the pain you bore over the years. It’s bunk! You can bloom. What will it be?

Amandah T. Blackwell

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Hello, Goodbye

The 10 random words below are from the Creative Copy Challenge. Here’s the short story I wrote using the 10 random words.

1. Suck
2. Will
3. Love
4. Great
5. Surround
6. Fluid
7. Big
8. Me
9. Enough
10. Move

Don’t allow others to suck the life out of you! Take it from me; they will steal your light if you allow them to do so. Surround yourself with like-minded, creative people who can move you to where you need to be. Be fluid like water and have enough self-love to handle constructive criticism. After all, it’s for your own good. Can you feel the big changes rumbling through your life? Have you had enough of the ‘same old, same old’ routine? It’s time to let go and pursue your dreams and the life you’re meant to live. Be great, be you.

Amandah T. Blackwell

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How to Focus Your Mind and Outsmart Poverty

Question: How do you focus your mind and outsmart a poverty consciousness? What is a bottom-line approach? So many programs drone on and on with detail after detail. There has to be a better way to outsmart a poverty consciousness.

Answer: Start focusing on you and your life. Stop thinking you can’t have a wealth consciousness; stop thinking that you’re responsible for everyone. You’re not! You are solely responsible for you and your happiness. No one can ‘get’ this for you. You must want it bad enough to erase the beliefs and thoughts that were spoken over you as a child.

What do you truly want for your life? Write it down — be clear about it. Also, stop asking unsuccessful people for their opinions and thoughts on your desires. Most peoples’ minds are switched and hooked into the ‘poverty’ mindset. You won’t get far if you continue to ask others about ‘this or that.’

How to Focus Your Mind and Outsmart Poverty 

1. Get SUPER clear about what you want. What do you want? Can you visualize it? If not, can you find pictures of what you desire? Write down what you want and visualize everything the best you can. However, don’t become consumed by your desires — let them go. You can add, “This or something better for my highest good and the good of all.” Smile about your desires and know that you can have what you desire.

FYI: Most people really want love, peace and happiness. Material items are just that — they’re material.

2. Stop listening to the dogma of others. Steve Jobs was right, “Don’t listen to the dogma of others.” Stop taking advice from unsuccessful people. Surround yourself with successful people and you will be successful. Stop asking for permission from your spouse, mother, father, boss, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. and live your life for you.

3. Toss out duty and obligation. There’s no law that says you MUST follow in the footsteps of your parents. There’s no law that says you MUST ALWAYS say “Yes” when you want to save “No.” You have a duty and obligation to yourself to live a happy and fulfilled life. Stop worrying about everyone else and start worrying that your life is passing you by like an out-of-control train. You don’t always have to help others. In fact, you could be doing more harm than good. If you keep helping people out, how will they ever learn to help themselves? It’s something to think about.

4. Start focusing on abundance. If you’re like most people, your mind is tuned to the “All Poverty 24-Hour Station” which is holding you in a place of lack. Start to recognize the abundance around such as ample trees, the yards of green grass, etc. You won’t and can’t attract abundance if you constantly focus on lack.

5. Stop hanging around with poverty conscious people. Like it or not, your family could be sucking the life out of you. You have every right NOT to hang around with these people. This may seem harsh but if you truly want to outsmart poverty it’s time to reevaluate your connections such as family and friends. How are they contributing to your success? Are they contributing to your success? Do they whine and complain? Do they blame their parents, the government and economy and other outside influences? It’s time to get your ‘personal house’ in order. It’s time to be truly honest and to let the people in your life go if they’re not healthy to be around.

Napoleon Hill’s book Outwitting the Devil is a MUST READ for anyone who wants to overcome a poverty conscious. It’s one the most thought-provoking books of its time. Even though it was written in 1938, it certainly applies to the 21st century. It’s a bottom-line approach to getting to the root of poverty conscious. Like it or not, self-examination is required. If you’re not willing to do the work from the inside out then you’ll still be stuck in your poverty consciousness. If you have children, you may want to take responsibility for your life, get clean and rid yourself of poverty consciousness once and for all.

Key Terms

1. Dogma

2. Napoleon Hill Foundation

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