Woohoo! The second post in the Courage Stories blog series! This week we’ve got the vibrant Nerissa Bradley. If you don’t know already, Courage Stories is a series of interview posts featuring budding quarter lifers who are tapping into their courage everyday and navigating these defining years in a really inspiring way. Basically these peeps are killing it and you should know about it – BUT this isn’t just another way to compare yourself to another’s success…this is a chance to learn from someone else’s challenges, vulnerabilities, and current strategies for conjuring courage.
Nerissa is a beautiful human inside and out. She is on an inspiring journey of personal development and has made some incredible leaps and bounds over the past year. I know I am hugely inspired by her drive and vision, and I think you will be too. It was Nerissa’s voice that first captivated me. She is a song bird with so much soul, it’s truly mesmerizing to watch her perform. Enjoy the insight she has to offer and make a point of checking her out online and live. You’ll thank me later!
Nerissa Bradley is an artist and creative entrepreneur. She is the Founder of Artlet, an innovative arts and wellness startup that helps stressed and overworked entrepreneurs, students and full-timers make time and space to be creative. She is also an international performing jazz and soul singer and songwriter.
What is your definition of ‘courage’?
Courage to me is the outward expression of vulnerability that says “here I am, as I am”. It is the ability to showcase all that you are, and stand for what you believe in, regardless of critique, opinion, or popular belief. It is the ability to boldly and unapologetically go in the direction of your dreams being the fullest extent of who you are.
What do you think is the biggest challenge that 20 and 30 somethings face today?
I think the biggest challenge we face is finding and owning our voices in a busy, noisy world. We live in a time filled with distractions, with so much at our disposal. Everything we could need or want is a simple click, tap, or swipe away. Literally. Everything. With all of the information available to us, I’ve seen millennials face a unique problem to that of our predecessors/parent’s generation. Because we are so aware of what’s out there and see so much possible in our lifetime, it makes it much harder to make decisions about our future, leaving many of us filled with anxiety and fear of uncertainty in a rapidly changing world. In fact, I think having as many choices as we do has actually increased anxiety for us as a generation, making decisions and peace of mind around choices harder than ever. So the real challenge, said simply, is managing the mind and emotions to effectively produce the results we truly want, free from anxiety.
What do you do everyday that inspires you and keeps you on track?
Everyday I acknowledge myself for what I’ve accomplished and practice gratitude. This ability to be present with myself and do the work of acknowledging my achievements (however big or small!) allows me to take confident steps forward each day, with a sense of pride and ownership over who I am and what I’m up to. I also reflect daily, asking the question, “What did I experience and learn today?”. This simple question creates a positive framework for me to get present to where I’m at, where I’m going, and how I’m growing. Mostly, this question leads me to immediate gratitude for my life, no matter how the events of the day or week turn out. Whether I’ve just lost my wallet, or spent an amazing few hours with a friend, reflecting daily on what lessons I’m taking with me to move forward and express gratitude for the lessons I learned, is critical to not only being positive, but key to living an empowered life.
What was the most recent risk you took?
At the end of June, I went to NYC for a one-day Community Intensive Workshop. When I heard about the workshop I saw it as the perfect opportunity to learn from experts in my field on how to effectively build a community. However, there were a few major blockers: time and money. I had already booked off 10 days for a trip to LA combining personal development and vacation, and learned about the workshop at the beginning of June, just days before leaving for LA. Looking at when I’d be back in Toronto after LA and my other responsibilities and finances, it seemed like a lot to take on.
I’d get back to Toronto on a Monday only to travel to NYC for the Friday to be there for just one day for the workshop. I was about to have a very busy week ahead for me.
The other block was money. I didn’t have the ideal heads up to invest in the opportunity or budget to add a second trip in such a short period of time. I also needed to be at work the week returning from vacation, AND back in Toronto Saturday morning for a mural art class I was taking. How to make it all work?!
I was bold and took a risk. I booked a roundtrip overnight bus taking Greyhound from Toronto to NYC (best budget travel option), departing Thursday and returning Friday night to be back in Toronto for a Saturday morning for class. This literally meant 24 hrs on a Greyhound bus for travel for an 8 hr event. Even I thought I was crazy, but it was so clear to me that I needed to be there, I barely wavered. In taking that risk extraordinary things opened up. One woman I met at the conference was blown away by my outlandish 24 hr bus journey to be there that she made a point to introduce me to the Founder and CEO of the company hosting the workshop. The best and wildest thing happened was that a complete stranger from the course, heard about my trip and decided to pay for my flight back to Toronto to be back in time for my course Saturday morning so that I could spend Friday night in NYC. This came without me even asking–just a radical act of generosity and random act of kindness. All this to say, be bold. Take risks. The universe will meet you on the other side with even more than you could ever dream or imagine.
How do you stay confident?
I think looking good and feeling good is almost cliche to say but know it makes a huge difference for me. I do my best to dress the part for whatever I’m doing which is a big ego boost when I look in the mirror and like what I see. I also only keep empowering,positive people in my inner circle so I also gain confidence from the support and encouragement I get from the people around me.
What advice would you give someone who is struggling to find their direction and doubts their abilities?
Only you know who you are and what you’re capable of. You know what’s inside you. The battle of the mind can be a tough one. A loud one. A challenging and discouraging one. But when you work on your thoughts and mindset, nothing can stop or evade you. One of my favourite quotes is “motion then emotion”. If you’re struggling with direction or doubting yourself chances are that you’re more in your head than you are out in the world taking action. So my word of encouragement is simply to be in motion. Then, let the emotional experience of confidence and clarity follow.
What does your self-talk sound like?
I have a relentless practice of positive self-talk. I don’t allow myself to stay down for more than a few hours maximum. Not unlike every human, I have my fair share of negative self- talk. The only thing I do differently is that I don’t listen to it as if it’s me. They’re just thoughts, floating around in my brain, not who I really am. Having practiced mindfulness and being present, I notice my mind producing negative thoughts often and I simply interrupt it say something positive and loving instead. Doing this takes commitment to building it as an ingrained habit. While it’s not necessarily easy, I do believe that not tolerating anything other than loving conversations with myself, has been key to my own joy, fulfillment and effectiveness day to day.
What are you working on right now? What should we know about you and your current venture?
I’ll be facilitating my first art workshop for minority youth in August, and I have a slew of performances coming up in and around town. Beyond that, I’m working on putting together the next Artlet event and expanding the event model to host more frequently this year.
Isn’t she incredible!? So much wisdom and COURAGE. May this leave you feeling self-reflective and inspired. ‘Stay in motion.’
Have a happy day, worthy and beautiful ones.