Many years ago, a friend gave me a book called Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. At first, I hesitated reading it. But I was intrigued. And I will say that I’m so glad that I gave this book a chance. It was written in the 70s by a man named Robert Pirsig. And there’s one passage in that book that relates to what we’re talking about on the podcast today.
Here’s what he said, “I like the word gumption because it’s so homely, and so forlorn, and so out-of-style. It looks as if it needs a friend and it isn’t likely to reject anyone who comes along. I like it also because it describes exactly what happens to someone who connects with quality. He gets filled with gumption.
A person with gumption doesn’t sit around dissipating and stewing about things. He’s at the front of the train of his own awareness; watching to see what’s up the track and meeting it when it comes. That’s gumption. If you’re going to repair a motorcycle, an adequate supply of gumption is the first and most important tool. If you haven’t got that, you might as well gather up all the other tools and put them away because they won’t do you any good.”
Bonjour, and welcome to The French Kiss Life Podcast, where personal development meets style. I’m Tonya Leigh, certified master life coach and the hostess of this party, where we explore how to live artfully and well. Each week, I’ll be sharing inspiring stories, practical tips, and timeless wisdom on how to elevate the quality of your everyday and celebrate along the way. Let’s dive into today’s episode.
Hey, friends. So, one of the things that I often do with my clients is what I call a one-word check in. I’ll ask them how they are feeling in one word. Because how they are feeling is a result of their feeling and it’s a great way, even in groups, for me to gage how the energy of the group is, based on where they’re focusing and what they’re thinking, which is then creating how they’re feeling.
And so, I’m curious for you, what is your one-word check in right now? Are you excited? Are you stressed? Are you overwhelmed? Are you uncertain? Are you sad? Are you happy? Are you feeling grateful? Are you feeling confident or discouraged or helpless?
Just notice how you’re feeling. And it’s so important that you do this without judgment. Because I know how some of you all operate. You start feeling anxiety and then you beat yourself up for being anxious, which only makes your anxiety worse.
What if you welcomed all emotions to the party of your life; no resistance? They’re all allowed to come in and sit at the table? That’s when you get all of your power back. That’s when you can understand the thoughts creating your emotions. Because it is never anything outside of you creating how you feel. It is always crazy thoughts, or sometimes happy thoughts, sometimes empowering thoughts, sometimes hopeless thoughts that’s creating how you feel.
And right now, more than ever, you need to know how to manage yourself emotionally because there’s a lot of noise. There’s a lot of fear. There’s a lot of anxiety. There’s a lot of uncertainty out there.
So, if you want to tap into your calm, I think calm right now is one of the most powerful emotions that you can create for yourself. And if you’re not feeling calm or you want to feel more calm, I would love to invite you to my Week of Calm.
These are going to be five daily classes that I’m going to be teaching live. And I’m also going to be answering questions. I’m going to be sharing with you all the tools that I’m using right now to stay grounded, to stay focused on my vision, to stay in my calm.
Now, by the time you’ve listened to this, I have probably taught three of the classes already, but that doesn’t matter. When you join, you will get all of the videos of the classes I have already taught, and hopefully, you can join me live on at least one or two of the classes. But I would love to give you these tools, just to help you manage your mind during these very uncertain times. So, again, head to frenchkisslife.com/calm.
It is time for a Community Spotlight; the part of the show where I get to highlight someone in the community who has benefitted from the French Kiss Lifestyle. And today’s spotlight is on LFAZ627, who left me a five-star review on iTunes.
And here’s what she said, “A dear friend in a crazy world. Dear Tonya, I found your podcast a few months ago and I have to be honest with you; I am so beyond thankful for you and all that you’ve given me. I’m an anesthesiologist in New York City and life here has been hectic to say the least. But I’m so grateful for all that I’ve learned from you in such a short period of time that I know this is where I’m supposed to be right now. You’ve taught me how to live beautifully and to instill love and good energy into myself, my family, and my patients during this time. Love you, love all that you do, thank you, Tonya.”
Well, thank you, my friend. I just want to give you a hug right now. I want to gather up with all of my doctors and my nurses and my nursing assistants and the respiratory therapists, and the people that are in the hospital, the pharmacists, like everybody that is coming together right now in the world in a time of crisis to support the health of our fellow citizens.
And this extends beyond the healthcare system. It’s the people in the grocery store. It’s our mailman. It’s our UPS guy. It’s everyone who has to go out there and put themselves at risk every single day to make sure that we have what we need. A huge, huge thank you.
And I’m sending you all a virtual hug right now. And to you, LFAZ627, I know that you’re, right now, probably having to intubate people and put yourself at risk every single day and I’m so grateful and honored that this podcast is offering you a little bit of love, a little bit of hope, and a little bit of light in this tough time.
So, this is going to be the first part of a three-part series that I am doing on dream-making. Now, you may be thinking, “Tonya, do you not know what’s going on around us? I don’t have time for dreams right now. I feel like I’m barely surviving. I am scared. I am anxious. I am worried.” And let me tell you, I hear you. I get it.
I have been coaching so much in my groups and I have been helping women navigate these uncertain times. And so, this is not me burying my head in the sand and pretending that what is happening around us is not going on. But I think right now especially is the time that you need to have a dream and a goal and something to focus on so that how you think and feel and spend your days right now will have a positive impact on your future, so that you can continue to move forward, even amidst the chaos.
And for many of you right now especially, you’ve got more time on your hands. Maybe you have time to reflect and really think about, “what do I want from my life?” Maybe you have lost your job and now is a chance for you to start again. Maybe you are waking up to the realization that you really want to take better care of your health. Maybe you’re realizing that you have created a life that you’re not enjoying and you want to do a makeover. Or maybe, you’re realizing that you’ve taken things for granted.
I feel like we’re all realizing that we’ve done this. Even the opportunity to meet friends for dinner, we didn’t really think much of it. It’s just something that we did. And now, we’re not able to do that freely. But here’s the thing; while things are uncertain and no one knows what is going to happen, more than ever it is important that you have a dream to work towards, that you have goals that get you excited when you wake up.
And that’s what this three-part series is all about, my friends. I want us to get excited about life. Because, as mu grandmother said, “This too shall pass.” But who do you want to be on the other side of it? How do you want to set yourself up during this time so that, when it’s over, you are further ahead?
I don’t want you on the other side of this to be full of regret, looking back and realizing, “I could have used this time more beneficially. I could have used this time to work on my dreams. I could have used this time to really reach my goals.”
So, that’s why I’m talking about dream-making in such an uncertain time because again, how you spend your days right now is going to impact how you come out of this. So, let’s talk about the first quality of dream-making.
When I sat down and I wrote this out, one of the things that I realized is that all three of the qualities that I’m going to be speaking about in the next few episodes were all instilled in me by my mom and my grandmother. Both of them lived through the epidemic of polio. In fact, my mother contracted polio when she was three years old.
She had to go into quarantine as a little girl, could not have any contact with her parents. She could only see them through the window when they would come to visit her once a week. And the reason why they could only come and see her once a week is that they were sharecroppers. And my Grandmother had a whole house full of other children that she had to take care of. And she had lived through the Great Depression. So, my grandmother was tough, but also so loving.
But during that time, my mom had many, many surgeries. And to this day, she still has a very visible limp. Many times, when we’re out in public, people will stop her and say, “Did you hurt your leg?” But my mom has thrived in her life. She has thrived through the adversity. She has thrived through the polio and her back problems that resulted as a result of having polio. My mom has always been someone that, whatever you give her, she takes it and she makes the best of it.
So, the first quality that I’m going to talk about in dream-making is gumption. So, when I looked up the definition of gumption, the three words that really jumped out at me are the three qualities that I want to talk about in this episode. And the first one is initiative.
Someone that has gumption takes initiative. They don’t wait for the government to save them. They don’t wait for the economy to save them. They don’t wait for other people outside of them to come in and make it better. Do you know what they do? They take charge.
They look around and they ask themselves, “What can I do in this situation? What do I want in this situation?” They are very clear on what they want and they take the initiative to do it.
Now, one of the beautiful things that’s actually happening right now for all of us is we are starting to get a very clear picture of what we don’t want. Some of you, one of the beautiful things that’s coming out of this is that you realize that you don’t want to be financially dependent on a company that can fire you at any moment. And so, maybe from this, you’re getting clarity that you want to start your own business.
Some of you are getting very clear that you no longer want to struggle with your heath. This crisis, this pandemic has really highlighted, “You know what, I want to be healthy when things like this come along so that I have a better chance of surviving it.” So, you are getting so much clarity that you want to really focus on your health.
Some of my clients that I’ve been coaching have realized that what’s come out of this is that they have been financially careless. They are spending money as soon as they get it on things that don’t really add value to their lives. And one of the things that I’ve told them, I’m like, “Listen, it was supposed to happen that way. And because it’s happened that way, now you have clarity around what you do want. That was a gift to you.”
Because, listen up, you all, there is no gift in beating yourself up over the past. Listen, if I could take us all back in time so we could do some things differently, I’d be all about it. There are so many decisions that I’ve made that I’ve realized, if I had not made them, I would be in a better position right now. But you know what, I needed to go through that. That was part of the journey.
And so, I don’t want any of us beating ourselves up for the situations that we’re in right now. I want us to use them. I want us to learn from them. I want us to figure out what those contrasts are showing us that we do want coming out of this.
This is not the time for us to spin in confusion. And this happens a lot with my clients. I’m like, “What do you want?” And they’re like, “I don’t know.” And as long as you say you don’t know, you get to stay where you are.
But I feel like, right now, we’re realizing we don’t want to stay where we are in some aspects of our lives. We want to make positive change. And so, use this time to get clear on what you want. Take the initiative; the power and the opportunity to take charge of those things that you want to change in your life. And that’s what gumption is all about
So, what do you want? That is the first step of dream-making. You’ve got to identify the dream that you want to work towards. And that takes a lot of gumption. It’s so much easier to pretend that we don’t know so that we can keep staying in our cozy little worlds doing the same things and not having to feel the discomfort of change.
But when you have gumption, you’re willing to feel that discomfort. And that leads me to the second trait of gumption. And that is courage. Courage is the ability to do something that frightens one. And courage, you all, is so uncomfortable to experience.
It’s not one of those feel-good emotions. It’s uncomfortable to face the things that frighten us and to walk towards it instead of running away from it. Now, the interesting thing is when you think about our ancestors, they were simply trying to survive. They had a good reason to be afraid.
In fact, I think about my grandmother going through the Great Depression. I’m sure there was fear in her family, “Can I even put food on my family’s table? Are we literally going to live through this?” And now, the interesting thing is we’re facing a pandemic and the fear of death is real. We’re all facing it.
But the thing is, death is inevitable. No one escapes this life without dying. At least, none that I’ve ever met. We all know that we’re going to die. It is going to happen. And yet, many of us spend a lot of time being afraid of the inevitable. And I’ve done it too.
I’m not so much concerned about my own death, but I do fear the death of my family. And then I also know that it’s just part of life. It is the circle of life. And so, I’m working on making peace with that, that it could happen. Because again, nothing is a guarantee.
So, the interesting thing with this pandemic is that we are facing a real fear of dying. But a lot of the things that we’re afraid of doesn’t make sense. And I saw this a lot before the pandemic came along. A lot of my clients are afraid of people not liking them. They are afraid of trying to start that business and it failing. They are afraid of disappointing themselves. They are afraid of taking that big risk and it backfiring.
And the thing is, you can survive all of those things. If someone doesn’t like you, it may hurt your ego, but you’re going to live through it. And yet, we spend so much of our time running from these unexamined fears. And that’s why you need some gumption.
You need to be willing to feel the discomfort that is required to create your dreams. You know, just this week, I’m facing a big decision. There is an opportunity for me to invest in something that will help me reach my goals and yet it is a big financial decision.
And when I think about it, I have a lot of fear around it. Because if you think about the economy right now and there are no guarantees ever, but especially right now, it feels like a big scary decision. But the reality is, if I make this investment and it doesn’t work out, I’m still going to be okay.
And also, if I make this investment and I believe in it and I show up and I do the work and I continue to believe in investing in myself and investing in my company, there is a big chance that this investment could pay off.
Now, imagine if I didn’t have gumption. Imagine if I wasn’t willing to feel the discomfort. Imagine if I pretended that I didn’t know what I wanted. I would get to stay right where I am. And that’s not acceptable for me.
And here’s the thing. It’s not because where I am is bad. It’s not. I just want to grow. I want to see what’s possible. I want to, at the end of my life, raise a flute and be like, “Well done, darling. I’m so proud of you.” And I know that in order to create that for myself, if I reverse-engineer that, I’m going to have to have gumption. Which means I’m going to have to have courage to do those scary things.
And here’s the thing, you all; the worst thing that can ever happen is a feeling. Maybe it’s feeling terrible. Maybe it’s feeling sad. Maybe it’s feeling fear. But that is the worst thing that can ever happen. And when you learn how to manage your emotional life, you’re willing to feel all the things. And I just know that my capacity to feel courage is also going to be my capacity to create success. And that requires gumption.
You know, in thinking about my mom, she grew up dirt poor. And she had polio. She had a lot of trials and difficulties from a very young age. And so, it makes sense to me why she’s not that afraid. Or even if she is afraid, she just keeps doing it anyway because she knows that she’ll be okay no matter what.
She knows that she can be poor and be happy. She knows that she’s overcome polio, so she can overcome other things. She’s experienced the negative circumstances, which I believe, for some of us, is actually a positive. We know that we can overcome those negative circumstances, which can give us the gumption.
Think about your own negative circumstances that you’ve had and you’ve overcome and use that as your power. Use that as a reason to keep going for what you want, knowing that you’ve overcome really hard things. You’ve overcome difficulties and you’re still okay. You survived it.
So, why not use that to overcome the obstacles to your dreams? Why not use that to build your courage? The knowing that you can do things even if they scare you.
For this podcast, I actually wrote down a list of meaningful things that I’ve created in my life, or that I’ve experienced. And I will tell you, every single one of them required courage. Every single one of them required that I feel the discomfort of growth, of moving forward.
It’s really interesting, if you think about it, the areas of your life that you want to change or improve right now. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s a familiar discomfort. You know it really well. You don’t know the unfamiliar discomfort that is awaiting you in your future, that’s going to be required for you to create your future.
And one of the things that I’m constantly telling my clients, you get to choose your flavor of discomfort. You can choose the flavor of the familiar, the known discomfort of feeling like you’re disappointed in yourself for not following through, the familiar discomfort of self-sabotage. Or, you can feel the unfamiliar discomfort of doing things when they’re hard, of forward progression in your life. You really get to choose, and courage will always ask you that you choose that unfamiliar discomfort.
So, let’s talk about the last trait of gumption that I think is especially important right now. And that is resourcefulness. Resourcefulness is the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties. Right now, many of us – and I’ve done this too – we are focused on what we don’t have, what is not available. And when you are focused on what you don’t have, you are unable to be resourceful because your attention is on the wrong things.
When you are a resourceful person, what you do is you look at what’s in front of you, what you do have, and you optimize it to its fullest. Resourcefulness is doing the best you can with what you have in this moment, resourcefulness is not sitting around and complaining because you can’t celebrate your birthday with friends.
Now, I’m sorry if that happened to you. It happened to my daughter. She celebrated her 22nd birthday right here with me. But do you know what I did? I threw her a surprise Zoon party.
I was like, okay, these are our circumstances. What are we working with, how can we make the best of it? And I sent a link out to all of her friends and we all got on Zoom. My daughter thought it was the most awkward thing that she’s ever done and she asked that I never do it again. But that was me attempting to be resourceful.
Resourcefulness is not complaining because you can’t go to the gym. Resourcefulness is saying, “Okay, I’m at home. What can I do to create a gym in my home?” Maybe there’s an online trainer that you like. If you don’t have weights, go fill up some water bottles and use those as your weights. That is resourcefulness.
Resourcefulness is not sitting around and complaining that you don’t know how to build a website and therefore you cannot start your business. No, gumption says, “I’m going to start my business.” The resourcefulness of that is, “I’m going to get on Google and I’m going to figure that out. I will watch as many YouTube videos as I need to watch to be able to create my own website.”
Resourcefulness is not sitting around and complaining that you don’t have money. Resourcefulness says, “This is what I want to do. How can I use what I have right now to make that happen?” And with that attitude, you will be so amazed at how your imagination can help you figure things out; how you will begin to see how to maximize what you do have and be resourceful.
Here’s a good one for us ladies. Instead of complaining about what we don’t have in our closet, resourcefulness asks that you look at what is within your closet and you are creative with it, that you make the best of it.
Napoleon Hill said, “A resourceful person will always make the opportunity fit his or her needs.” That is a big quality when it comes to dream-making. Dream-making does require gumption, which requires that you take initiative on what it is that you want, that you have the courage to feel the discomfort in creating it. And that you are resourceful, meaning you work with what you have right now and you don’t take no as an answer.
What you do is you visualize you already being where you are, and then you look at where you are right now, and you figure out how to use what you have right now to start moving you in that direction.
Ow, because I’ve been coaching so many of you, I know that some of you are spinning the stories of, “My dreams will never happen because of what’s going on right now.” And that’s why you need gumption. You need that initiative. You need the courage. You need the resourcefulness. Because now is not the time to give up on your dreams.
I’m seeing now as a grand invitation for us to have the gumption to go after what it is that we want. Right now, you’re facing a choice. You can spin in worry and anxiety and fear, which by the way are just emotions. And we’re all feeling them right now.
But it’s because of the stories in our head. And at any moment, you can change your focus. Instead of focusing on what you’ve lost or what you fear losing, you can focus towards what it is that you want, what this whole experience is showing you clarity around. And then, you can create the gumption to go after your dreams.
You can have that initiative to decide what you want, the courage to go for it, and the resourcefulness to use what you have right now to move you in that direction. Now is the time for dream-making.
It is time for J’adore, the part of the show where I get to share something that I love with you. One of the things that I have noticed, in case you haven’t, is that many of us are finding ourselves working from home. And this is my jam. I have worked from home for the last 10 years. The difference right now though is that I have people in the house with me.
I know some of you all can relate. My daughter is home. Glen is here 24/7, and I find my name being called a lot, which is super-frustrating. I’ve had to do a lot of coaching on myself around the people being in the house. But honestly, I’m so grateful.
I’m so grateful that I get to work from home. I’m so grateful that we’re all safe at home and we’re healthy and there’s so much goodness. And one of the things that I love about working from home is designing my office space.
So, when I first decided to move up to Glen’s little chalet four years ago, one of the first things that he did was build me an office in the basement. And that was really great because it was enclosed.
But the problem was, it was in the basement. And I’m not a basement kind of gal. I’m like, I want to be up in the main level. I want to be where I can see out at the mountains. I want to be where there’s a lot of natural sunlight.
And so, eventually, I moved my office space up to the main level of the house. And our house is very open, so dining room, living room, kitchen, it’s all open. And so, I found my little corner upstairs. And it’s not ideal in that it’s not enclosed, which means that when people are around, it’s an issue.
However, I’ve made the best of it. I’ve been resourceful. And one of the ways that I’ve done that is that I invested in a beautiful desk. I personally love mid-century modern design. And so, when I chose my little corner of the house, I want on a search to find the perfect desk. And I found it.
I love this desk. Every morning, I go and get my cup of coffee, I turn on some relaxing music, I come to this desk and it’s my little sanctuary. I journal here first thing in the morning every single morning. I always do something for inspiration. And that might be watching an interview on YouTube or reading a passage of a book.
I love to come to this desk to get me in the right state of mind. And then, the Capricorn in me gets to work. And so, I know some of you have seen this desk on Instagram and you’ve asked me about it, so I thought I would share this desk with you because maybe you are finding yourself at home working and you want to elevate your environment.
And so, if you are in the lookout for a desk, go check out frenchkisslife.com/desk. I did check to see if they still have this particular desk in stock, and they do. And it’s on sale.
And so, maybe this isn’t your design, but just know that West Elm has many different varieties to choose from. And I’m such a big believer in enriching our environments. Because our environments and our thoughts are intrinsically linked.
And so, one of the things that I’ve noticed is that as I elevate my workspace, it also elevates the quality of my thoughts around my work, which then, in return, elevates the quality of my work. So, again, go to frenchkisslife.com/desk to see my favorite little desk that I spend a lot of time at.
Have a beautiful week, everyone. I cannot wait to see you in part two next week and, until then, go out there and French Kiss Life. Cheers.
If you enjoyed this episode and you want to dive even deeper into the French Kiss Lifestyle, let’s start with a makeover; a mindset makeover. You can download my free training, The Three Mindset Makeovers Every Woman Needs, by visiting frenchkisslife.com/mindset. Because, after all, mindset is the new black.