Voice Lessons for Today Blog » Insights from Atlanta therapist Mazi Robinson

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“You can do that! I am doing that!”

Happy New Year!  Yes, you read that correctly.  Happy New Year!  For me, the real new year begins over the course of several days at the end of August.  I suppose years of living under an academic year calendar can get pretty ingrained in your mental clock. Nine to ten months of hard work followed by approximately two months of slowing down, taking vacation, and planning for the year to come- this just makes sense to me.  After all, how does anyone have the energy to “begin anew” after the stress and busyness of the holidays?  Mistletoe!

For many of us, Summer is our time to slow down, or at least make more of an effort to slow down.  Summer is our time to recharge before we get back into the full swing of things with Fall.  Summer ends with last minute trips to the pool, purchasing of school supplies, and preparing for new adventures.  Over the past few weeks, I have loved seeing pictures of my friends beginning their new years by sending children back to school or off to college.  Everyone seems to start these new years full of hope and anticipation of what is to come.  A new year is a good marker to start afresh, try some new things, and get rid of the old that is holding you back.

As I look ahead into my “new year,” a certain viral video of a speech given at Georgia Tech’s Freshman Convocation ceremony has completely captured my attention.  If you have not seen it, it is a must see.  People have labeled it as “Epic.”  In less than a week it received over two million hits on YouTube, and I think over a dozen of those probably came from my computer.  I cannot stop watching this video.  It makes me smile every time I see it, and I always let out a little chuckle at the end.  I have been trying to pinpoint what it is that strikes me so much about this young man’s speech.

First of all, you have to give the guy props- it is pretty incredible he had the nerve to do this.  Epic… indeed.   This sort of display falls under the same category of the nerdy guy getting the girl at the end of the movie.  It’s heartwarming to see the underdog do the unexpected.  Would we really care as much if this video came out of a notorious cool-guy-party-school?  Probably not.

Second, if you have watched it as many times as I have you might also have gotten a kick out of the older gentleman in the House of Lords type bib and robe sitting in the background.  He looks bored beyond his years at the beginning of the video and then he completely perks up when the young man goes for gold.  I imagine he’s thinking what the rest of us are thinking:  “Is this really happening?  This is awesome!”

And then third, I suppose my fascination is due in part to the fact that my own freshman welcome ceremony was so lackluster and the opposite of  “epic”.  The only thing I remember from that event was the student government president talking about the benefits of eating a bagel because it was time efficient food.  A crowd rousing, cheer inducing, stand-on-your-desk moment it wasn’t.

But let’s be honest, the reason the video has become so wildly popular and it is so appealing is because deep down inside, wouldn’t you love to have those guts?  Wouldn’t you love to actually follow through with the wild and bold idea you had in the middle of the night weeks or months ago?  Wouldn’t you love to start your new year off with a bang?  Wouldn’t you love to have the courage to face your fears and exclaim in a triumphant voice with 2001: A Space Odyssey theme music playing in the background “I am doing that!!”  That college sophomore taps into that part of us that we all long to unlock.  He taps into that part that wants to dive doubt-free into a new year or a new experience.  He speaks to that part of us that always wonders, “What if I did ______?  That would be crazy if I could actually do that!”

As you anticipate your new year (even if your year doesn’t start in September), what is the idea that has been floating in the back of your mind?  What is the idea that just won’t seem to go away?  What is it you want to try or change or begin anew?  What is the item on that grand to do list that you keep telling yourself, “Not this year, not now… maybe when I have more time, more money, etc.”  What is keeping you from training for the 5K or half marathon or full marathon?  What is keeping you from putting out your resume to some new companies?  What is keeping you from changing some relationship patterns in your life?  What will be your “Freshman Convocation speech” moment for 2013-2014?

To paraphrase my latest viral video obsession, if you want to start changing that bad habit in your life, this is your new year- you can do that!  If you want to try something new, this is your new year- you can do that!  If you want to throw off the bowlines and sail into the unknown, this is your new year- you can do that!

Welcome to the next season of your life!  You can do that!  I am doing that!

Have a great week and Happy New Year!

Amy Howard - Mazi, I so feel myself ready to jump for joy and say “I’m doing that!” once this bear of a project that is my sex therapy certification paperwork packet is officially mailed off. I’m seriously gonna celebrate (as much as a 34-35 week preggo can). I’m thinking extra large Baskin-Robbins peanut butter and chocolate ice cream milkshake. And an hour long pedi. AHHHH!

Karen - I love this post .. never thought about the new year starting at the end of August. I think for me good things are happening and will happen soon. I start CASA training in September and we are moving.. I imagine those are 2 very big things happening to me so I guess you could say this could be a new year of good things.

I will have to go watch the video .. sounds inspiring.

Thoughts for Thursday- Getting rid of the pain

Heartache, sadness, grief, anger, and hurt can feel scary and overwhelming.  Stubbed hearts really do hurt.  These feelings are hard to understand, and so often when we don’t understand something we just want it to go away.  We have all sorts of ways we try to make our feelings go away- we work more, we eat more, we drink more, we busy ourselves with more to do lists.  These methods seem to work for a while, but eventually we realize ignoring the pain won’t make it go away.  Instead, all the pain that we sweep under the rug builds up and we eventually trip over it.

We do more harm to ourselves by fearing and avoiding our feelings than by sitting in them and trying to learn something from them.  Your feelings will not swallow you whole.  They will not take you over.  Our feelings tell us something, and they tell us something very important.  If we ignore or avoid them, then we miss the lesson.

Feeling the pain is how we let go of the pain.   It is in feeling the pain that we find strength.  Strength is not avoidance.  Strength is letting yourself look into the pit and know that if you fall in you have the wherewithal to climb back out.

What part of your pain have you been avoiding?  What feelings make you feel the most uncomfortable?  What needs to happen in your life to help you start feeling the sadness you have tried to sweep under the rug so that you can truly let go?

Karen - SO true! I am a living testament of just this! It took years for me to come and realize this . The first 3 years of therapy I didn’t shed a tear, because I thought emotions meant I was doing something bad, or that i was weak. I was abused for showing my feelings, so I never allowed myself to feel.

When I first allowed myself to feel in therapy, it was the most painful thing I have ever felt, but yet the most healing.

I hide behind pain pills, and isolation to cover how I felt when I started to finally heal, but then I realized those pills are just a cover, not a fix. I needed to feel to heal, and even though today it’s still a hard process, it’s the only way out and through.

Thank you for sharing this .. a reminder of truth.

Stubbed Toes, Stubbed Hearts

We’ve all been there.  Maybe it’s the middle of the night or the middle of broad daylight.  You’re walking along minding your own business following a path you have taken a thousand times.  You’ve walked in and out of this room and around this furniture at least a dozen times that day already.  But this time you cut the corner a little too close and… BAM!

You stub your toe.

Pain instantly starts coursing through your toe, up your leg, and across your body.  You simultaneously suck air through your teeth, howl, and unleash a torrent of choice words.  You wonder why anyone would be so foolish as to put a dresser in that location.  You wonder if the offending dresser has perhaps taken a life of its own and turned against you in reaction to not being dusted lately.

Yep, we’ve all been there.  Think for a moment about what you do right after you stub your toe.  What is your natural physical reaction?  For most people, they will instantly bend down and try to cover the injured piggy with their hand as if they are trying to protect it in case the corner of the dresser decides to strike out in anger again.  You hide the injured toe under the shadow of our palm as if the slightest breeze or sliver of light might do more damage and increase the pain.  You cup the toe protecting it from further harm.

You hide the injury.

You protect the hurt.

Toes aren’t much different from hearts.  We’re traveling along a path that is well known.  We’re content in a job we’ve had for years.  We’re satisfied in a relationship we’ve been in for decades.  We’re living life, minding our own business, and then BAM!

We stub our heart.  A stubbed heart can bring the strongest soul to his knees.  The hit comes out of nowhere.  We wonder how things all of the sudden changed.  The hurt and anguish moves through our body, taking our energy, our sense of safety, our joy, and it leaves us with anxiety, insomnia, and unanswered questions.  A stubbed heart throbs with pain.

Much like that stubbed toe, our natural inclination is to protect our stubbed heart.  We want to hide and cover the heart wound.  We don’t want to let anyone see.  When we have experienced loss or heartbreak of any kind, we naturally react by withdrawing and isolating.  It is too painful to rehash the events.  It takes too much energy to put words to the disappointment.  No one may understand why our feelings have been so hurt and by trying to explain we might end up being more hurt.  We hide our stubbed heart under the shadow of our silence and retreat.

The only way to assess the hurt done to that stubbed toe is by removing the protecting hand and letting light shine on it.  Then you can see the extent of the damage.  Then you can see where the toe was hit.  You can see what needs to be done to fix and heal your injured toe.

The same can be said for our stubbed hearts.  The only way we can begin to heal our broken hearts is by allowing the hurt to come out of hiding.  We move out of our isolation and our silence, and we let light shine on the heart wound.  We talk about what happened.  We let others see the injury and come alongside us to offer support and empathy.  We let light shine on our stubbed hearts because then we can see where and how we were hurt and what we need to do to heal and repair that emotional wound.

When you experience hurt, loss, grief, or disappointment, it is so easy to retreat into yourself and keep all of that inside.  You tell yourself no one will understand or you don’t want to be a burden or some other self-defeating reason for why you should stay silent.  Pain and heartache will happen in life- it is the most unfortunate guarantee in life.  There is no amount of careful stepping that will protect you from loss and hurt.  But coming out of hiding, letting light shine on your loss, and talking about your hurt will diminish that pain.  Your stubbed heart may be throbbing today but removing that covering of silence and isolation will place you on the path to healing.


Has your heart been stubbed lately?  What would it look like to uncover that wound and let light and openness begin to heal it?

Ann Laramore - Ok, that is a good one! So true, and nice to be reminded. Thanks Mazi.

Karen Courcy - I LOVE this writing … what a great way to explain what it is we all go through in our lives and how true it is that you can’t heal something that is hidden.

Letting your wounds be seen and felt is the only way it’s going to heal! That is what I have learned in 6 1/2 years in therapy .. let the wounds be seen, and that is where the healing happens …

love this.. thank you for this writing …

Thoughts for Thursday- Getting rid of the pain - Voice Lessons for Today Blog - […] sadness, grief, anger, and hurt can feel scary and overwhelming.  Stubbed hearts really do hurt.  These feelings are hard to understand, and so often when we don’t understand something we just […]

Thoughts for Thursday


I have had this quote hanging in my office since I became a counselor.  It is one of my favorites.  So true.  So wise.

We cannot always choose the circumstances of our lives, but we can choose how we face those circumstances.  Your past, your pain, your disappointment do not have to define you.  Instead, you can let that pain or that grief or that sorrow shape you.   You can choose how you are changed by your circumstances.

What are you working on today?  Are you working on being miserable or are you working on being strong?

Take care!

Jen Williams - Amazing quote. Thank you for sharing and inspiring!

Stephanie - great thought to ponder on today. thanks Mazi. I really love your posts!

Kristen - One of my faves, too!!

karen - I love this, and it’s so true. I spent a very hard week last week in a deep depression and I did everything I could to get out of it, because it’s just as hard to be in it, than to get out of it, so the battle is equal, and if your going to fight a battle, you may as well fight the battle to get out.

Thank you for sharing this wonderful quote.. LOVE it