The enthusiastic feedback Get Shot By Ella received about our feature on motorcycle racer Nadine Lajoie prompted a guest blog invitation to another one of our favorite motorcyclists, former U. S. Air Force Master Sergeant Eldonna Lewis Fernandez, otherwise known as the Pink Biker Chic. Don’t let the pink fool you. Deployed to the Middle East after 9/11 and retired from active duty as a contracts negotiator in the Air Force in 2003 after 23 years of service, Eldonna Lewis is a force to be reckoned with. Trained to survey every room she enters and keep her back to the wall, she reveals the impact of stress and trauma in combating faulty decision-making as she trains women how to re-think and re-direct their energies for higher performance and better bottom-line professional and personal decisions. The signature acronym for P.I.N.K. is Power, Integrity, Negotiation and Knowledge!
Eldonna is the CEO of Dynamic Visions International Inc., a seminar training company. She is also the editor of GoPink magazine online, created for women motorcycle enthusiasts. Eldonna created www.GoPINKMagazine.com as a vehicle to empower success and provide a voice for women motorcyclists, veterans and non-veterans. Additionally, she is a co author of the award winning Heart of a Military Woman which is a compilation of stories by, for and about military women, and a contributing author to the book Heart of a Woman in Business, a collection of inspirational stories for women in business.
Eldonna conducts PINK Carpet interviews at motorcycle and business events for bikers and entrepreneurs.
Further, Eldonna offers a dazzling complimentary clothing line for our customers to hang with the Get Shot By Ella tees in their closets. Get Shot By Ella customers, especially fans of our motorcyclist inspired “The Wave” design, will enjoy the fun and sparkles of The Pink Biker Chic clothing line!
Eldonna’s education includes an Associate of Science degree from the Community College of the Air Force in Contracts Management and an Associate and Bachelors of Science degree from Park University in Business Management. She is a certified Level III in the Acquisition Professional Development Program in Contracts and certified in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), Hypnosis, as well as a Certified Coach and Consultant. Eldonna serves on the board of the International Empowerment Education Foundation and coordinates the speaker’s bureau for the Women’s Peace Campaign. She is also a member of the CEO Space business organization.
Eldonna’s guest blog for Get Shot By Ella’s readers Finding Voice and Accelerating into Song follows:
Recently I started taking singing lessons with the Amazing Cindy Ashton, http://cindyashtonentertainer.com . She is a classically trained vocalist and has an incredible story. We have our lessons on Skype which makes it easy for both of us not to have to travel and connect at anytime. I decided to take voice lessons because through my work with Frontier Trainings (www.FrontierTrainings.com), Founder, Clinton Swaine and I wrote a song for my rock star persona “Pink Diamonds “ to sing. The song is called Empower, Dare to be Great and it’s all about taking your life to another level. I recently went to record the song and was not up to the level of performance ability where I could successfully record it for a CD. After I left the recording studio, I made up my mind to record the song in excellence which is why I hired a voice coach. Professional coaching equals professional results.
Somewhere in the back of my head there was always this little voice telling me to doubt my ability to sing and that I just didn’t have what it took to be a performer. Someone even told me that I’d be an ok singer for Eldonna but never a real performer. Basically they were saying I could struggle through the song and with editing they could make it sound good, but it wasn’t going to be that great and not to expect to be any rock star performer. The way I feel about myself today enabled me to get ticked off with that statement and decide to do everything I could to sing and perform in excellence. When I signed up for voice coaching I still had doubt about my ability. Maybe I really won’t be able to sing and my dream of performing is all some big fantasy. As we started the first lesson; I was happy to hear that not only do I have a good range, I was also assured that I can sing in tune and will be an awesome performer with professional training which isn’t going to take decades to achieve. I am taking the action and getting the professional training to achieve the results.
On the 3rd lesson we were going through the vocal exercises and Cindy asked me on one why I couldn’t just let it go. That particular exercise was a letting go kind of exercise where you just go for it and be uninhibited with your voice. I started to think about it. Why can’t I just let go? I know it to be true that I don’t let go. I can feel myself holding back when I get ready to sing. It’s sort of an unconscious thing but when she asked me that question I became keenly aware of the fact that I am not letting go. What is that about? Why am I doing that?
The more I thought about it the more I realized what it was. It came to me so clear and in the forefront of my mind that I wondered why I never thought about it before. I believe we aren’t shown the things to work on until we are ready to actually work on them. This wasn’t in the forefront of my past work to heal myself because it wasn’t something I needed to deal with until I was actually choosing to go back down the path to sing. God has a way of working so smoothly that things just pop in when it’s time to work them out.
As Cindy and I were talking through my hesitation and holding back, this experience came back to me:
About 21 years ago I was pregnant with my daughter. I was a member of a predominantly black church and had auditioned for my church choir. I remember being petrified at the audition. I had to sing on a microphone with the band. I was used to singing along with the choir and piano or organ and a hymnal. I would listen to the people around me to get the notes. I didn’t read music that well. This singing on stage with a microphone thing totally freaked me out. At that time in my life I had very low self esteem, very little self confidence and was petrified to speak in front of a group let alone sing solo in front of anyone.
I didn’t know the songs they played other than one and they let me sing it acapella because I couldn’t figure out how to sing along with the band. I hadn’t had any training in that area, been required to audition for a choir or done anything like that before. I didn’t even know the complete words to the song I sang and figured I bombed the audition. I was excited and surprised to find out I made the choir. I wasn’t sure why they accepted me after what seemed like a failed audition.
I was the only white person in the choir. This choir was different than other churches I had been to. All the music was performed without the sheet music or the words. We had to memorize it all, words, melody, everything. For me this was new and difficult. Since I was not a trained vocalist I would again listen to the people around me to pick up my part. Our practices lasted for hours. I worked hard to learn the parts. I did ok and got it down and enjoyed it immensely. I was getting a little more confidence as I learned the songs and would sing out in practice and ask if that was the right part.
Eventually they asked me to be on the praise team that led the praise and worship during the weekly church services. There were about 6 or 7 of us. I felt honored to be asked although I didn’t really know why they asked me or how to carry my part. I was hoping they would work with me to teach me how. Instead, one night when I was performing they turned my microphone down and left me up there singing into a dead mike. I couldn’t hear myself and didn’t know what happened. I found out when I overheard the praise team leader ask what was going on because he heard it too. They told him they turned my mike down because I wasn’t singing my part right. Apparently they had been turning it down low and finally had started turning it off. I didn’t know how long they had been doing it but I was crushed and devastated. I felt so foolish like I was being used for a show. It was humiliating to me. I drove home alone and sobbed and sobbed. I was so ashamed that I didn’t tell my husband when I got home or even my close friends. It really did a number on my self worth.
They didn’t even help me or ask to work with me. I think they assumed I could sing better than I did and when I couldn’t they shut me off. Then they told me I was off the praise team while I was pregnant because it was too much for me. It was just an excuse to take me off the praise team and not have to deal with dismissing me altogether. After the baby was born and I returned to practice they sat me down and told me I wasn’t on the praise team anymore because I wasn’t a performance type of singer. They told me I could stay in the choir if I wanted to. They basically shamed me into believing I couldn’t sing well enough to perform by myself or with anyone other than a choir. I left there feeling dejected and eventually left that church until we were transferred to another base a year later.
For the next 21 years I never sang again other than in my car when no one was around or in the shower where nobody could hear me. I just accepted the fact that I couldn’t sing and the dream I always had of performing would never come true. I gave up and stuffed it in the back recesses of my mind never to be revisited again. I accepted the fact that I wasn’t any good at it, didn’t know how to do it and was not able to even be trained to sing.
How many times do we let someone else tell us we can’t do something and then accept it as our truth? We let them shame us, we blame them, then we justify it in our minds to be true. How does shame, blame and justify work to keep us down? The following is a brief synopsis of how shame, blame and justify comes into our lives and wipes out our dreams, paralyzes us and steals our gifts from us. You’ll also find out tips to recognize and overcome it when it’s been bogging you down and stifling you.
Shame means a painful emotion caused by a strong sense of guilt, embarrassment, unworthiness, or disgrace. When you feel shameful you totally shut down your emotions around that area because you feel unworthy, untalented, unable to think about whatever you are feeling shameful about without a strong sense of guilt or embarrassment. Think about when a parent or another adult scolded you as a child “shame on you!” How did that make you feel? Perhaps you did something wrong or made a bad choice and when you think back on it you have a bad feeling. The last thing you want to do is think about it.
Many times we allow people to shame us into doing things we don’t want to do, or to believe something about ourselves that is not true. Anytime I thought about what happened with the choir I felt embarrassed, unworthy, and disgraced. As I’m writing this now I realize I never told another soul about this incident even right after it happened. I was so ashamed and embarrassed that I never spoke about it for 21 years. As a result I wasn’t able to sing because of it. I believed this lie about my singing all this time! I believed it so much that I totally gave up my desire and dismissed the dream to sing. I never totally gave up the dream but just accepted that it would never come to fruition because I didn’t have the talent and couldn’t be taught because I had no ability.
Why did I believe it? Because I didn’t know any better. They appeared to be the experts and so when they spoke it was gospel (pun intended). I was sure they knew better than me. After all they were all experienced musicians and I was just some amateur that could barely carry a tune. I had such low self esteem then, that I would have never thought to disagree or get a second opinion. They were the authority and I 100% accepted what they said to be my truth. I was embarrassed and felt disgraced by the mike turn down incident and just accepted that I couldn’t sing at that level and that was final.
Fast forward to today. This time around when I was told that I wasn’t ever going to be a performer that just pissed me off! Don’t project your opinion onto me. I don’t care if you have the experience and have heard a million singers, I won’t accept that today or any day! Why? Because the person I am today believes I can do anything I set my mind to as long as I get professional training and actually do the work. If it’s my heart’s desire, I will make it happen! The key to the difference from 21 years ago to today is the frame of mind that I have about who I am and what I believe. I had to figure out why I was holding back and once I figured it out I made some plans to deal with it, heal from it and let go of that shame that I have carried all these years. Don’t let anyone shame you into believing that you can’t do something. Prove it to yourself that you can but just doing it!
Blame means the state of being responsible for a fault or error. Once we have put ourselves through shame, then it’s time to blame ourselves or others for why we can’t do something. I was shamed into believing that I couldn’t sing and I blamed them for treating me badly, not even attempting to work with me and why I wasn’t able to sing with the team. It’s sort of backwards because I had shamed myself into believing I couldn’t sing, but now I blamed them for why I couldn’t sing which doesn’t make any sense. Then I blamed myself for having no talent and thinking I could sing in the first place. I went to the negative self talk place and started beating up on myself further adding to the shame I took on from them. Anytime I thought about it after that I would think how stupid I was for even auditioning.
Who are you blaming for problems in your life? If you take a look in the mirror, you will see the main problem looking back at you. I had that experience one day and when I realized the problem was looking back at me and I couldn’t blame anyone else for my problems, I couldn’t blame myself in the way I had been and I couldn’t ignore it any longer; that was an ugly day. There was nowhere I could run or hide from myself now. I realized where the problem was and once I did, eventually I realized I was the solution and stopped blaming people and myself for my lot in life and start taking some action and make different choices.
Take a look at your life. Are you blaming people for things that you have full responsibility and control over? Are you blaming yourself in a way that keeps you in a victim mentality? You may be resentful towards someone who hurt you and rightfully so, but how long are you going to hang onto that resentment before you let it go? Who is it hurting, them or you? My mother died when I was 12 years old. I resented her for over 30 years. Was it hurting her? NO! It was hurting me! It was eating me up with anger and pain from the past. Are you blaming yourself in a way that no longer serves you? If you are at fault for something or are beating yourself up about a choice you made, stop it! Take some action to make some different choices and forgive yourself and stop living in the past.
Who are you blaming and what resentment are you hanging onto that no longer serves you? If you want to find out more about how to release resentment, join Tuesday night’s webinar on the GoPINK Rule of Engagement #2 – Release All Resentment and find out how you can get free of the blame game. Click here to register: https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/523975630
Justify means to demonstrate or prove to be just, right or valid. After we carry the shame and place the blame, then we justify what we are doing as right. What they did to me about my singing was wrong. I have no idea why they treated me that way. I let them shame me and then I blamed them and myself. Now I was angry about it and justified to myself why it was ok to be angry. I was wronged so I am justified in carrying this grudge. Not only that, I now justified to myself why I was such a bad singer and had no talent. They told me the facts and they are the experts so now I am justified in explaining why I can’t sing.
If you read the blog post on written agreements, I shared a story about how I was cut out of a business and left with nothing. I felt some shame and instead of carrying that shame I decided to see if I could release it. I released the energy around it, dropped the whole thing instead of going on and filing something in court where I would be tied up blaming and justifying my actions probably to this day. I didn’t want to be tied to that bad experience and let it all go. It freed my mind from the negativity and my body from the stress and kept my spirit at peace.
We can justify anything we want to and skew it to turn ourselves into a victim. Instead of justifying why you can’t do this or can’t do that, why don’t you figure out what you can do to turn it around and make it a possibility? All we have to do is start changing our mind and then figure out how to go about making our dream a reality. Justify why you can do something not why you can’t.
So how do we overcome the shame, blame, justify syndrome? There’s only one way to do it successfully. The only way to do it is to change the conversation from within. When I changed who I believed I was, what I believed I could do, it changed how I reacted to those people that attempted to steer me down a certain path. It’s also important to get a second opinion. If someone tells you that you can’t do something that you really want to do or it’s your dream. Don’t give up and give in to what they are telling you. Many people want to keep you down on the bottom rung of the ladder with them, so to keep you from climbing the ladder of success they tell you things so you won’t leave them behind.
It comes down to one person – YOU! It’s been said that somebody else’s opinion of you doesn’t have to become your reality. Ralph Waldo Emerson said the only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be. The decision is in your hands and you have the power to become and do whatever you want to, whatever you dream about doing. All you have to do is decide and take action and go from the back seat to the front seat, take control of the handlebars of your life and roll on your throttle to accelerate towards success.