Pearls of Wisdom – Nancy Norbeck

» Posted by on May 24, 2013 | 0 comments


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Nancy Norbeck

Nancy Norbeck is a Certified Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach, SoulCollage® Facilitator, Laughter Wellness instructor, and tutor from New Jersey. In 2009, she completed her MFA in Creative Writing at Goddard College.

Her mission is to help you find your voice, whether through writing, laughter, SoulCollage®, or pursuing a creative dream.

You can learn more about what makes her unique by visiting



What are you most proud of today that you once thought you would never achieve?

Right now, the thing I’m most proud of that I really thought I would never achieve is singing on my own in public. I’m proud of other things, like going to grad school full-time while working full-time, but while that was hard, it wasn’t something I ever thought was impossible. Singing by myself in front of other people, though—even just a few friends—was not just impossible a few months ago, it was something that made me want to run screaming just at the thought.

I’ve been singing in choirs since I was about 4, so singing in groups is like falling off a log for me, but singing solo has, for most of my life, been a radically different matter. It was so terrifying to me that I wouldn’t even think about it; I would shut down any conversation that got anywhere near it. But I’ve done it twice now since September 2012 and I am on schedule to do it again in a few weeks. It’s like a miracle for me.


How did you change your old story about not being capable/able/good enough to one that allowed you to move forward with your dreams?

I changed my story through sheer stubbornness, and by having a group of supportive friends who cheered me on. They had a challenge to deal with because my natural tendency to deny my talent to anyone but me would come out and try to deflect every good thing they would say, but God love ‘em, they kept saying it anyway.

It also helped greatly that I had an actual opportunity to get up and get over this fear. For years, I’d wished I could do something about it, but without a place or event that would allow it, that was tough. An open-mic night was enticing enough to force me onto a stage, to open my mouth in front of a group of people I didn’t know.

It wasn’t easy; I shook like a leaf the entire time. But once I’d committed, I wasn’t letting myself off the hook. I did everything I could think of to calm myself down, some of which worked temporarily, and pretty much all of which vanished completely once it was my turn.

So I sang that way, and apparently was the only one who could tell that I had lost all real muscle control because I was shaking so hard (it still blows my mind that they didn’t know!). The fact that I did not actually spontaneously combust while performing seemed a sign that I should keep doing it, and the second time was indeed easier.

Really, it boiled down to that old adage: feel the fear and do it anyway. And cultivate the friends who will support you on the journey.


What would you tell your younger self if you could write her a letter and guide her to where you are now?

Dear, dear little Nancy,

You feel really bad right now because the kids at school are making fun of you and telling you awful things about yourself. I want you to know that none of those things are true. People have told you that they’re just jealous, and they’re right. Those kids can see that you’re smart and adorable, and they think they’re not, so they’re making themselves feel better by being awful to you. It’s about them, not you. That may not make sense to you right now, but one day, it will.

The people who tell you to ignore it and it’ll go away are wrong. It won’t go away. The more you ignore them, the harder they try to rattle you. This is about them, too, not about you not ignoring them well enough, or being so bad that even ignoring them doesn’t work. Those things are not true. Please don’t give up on anyone being able to help. Don’t stop telling others when it happens. Don’t take it all inside yourself. It’s not yours. It’s theirs. Taking it into yourself and living your life by the things people say to get a reaction out of you means that they win, and you spend your life living a lie, thinking that it’s true.

When you think about singing, you know somewhere deep inside you that it’s something you can do, and do well, and you even know that you’re meant to do it. I know that’s confusing because you keep hearing other messages about yourself from other people. That place deep inside you knows better than anyone else. It is truer than anything you will ever find outside of yourself. It knows all about you, things you don’t know yet or even know to ask, and if you listen, and listen closely, it will always tell you the truth.

It will tell you who you can trust and who you should stay away from. It will also tell you when it’s safe to share your talent and when it’s not, and you can make that choice. Don’t let anyone else tell you that you should or shouldn’t listen to that voice. Follow it and it will not let you down.

Above all else, don’t let anyone else tell you that you’re not good enough, that there’s something wrong with you, or that you should be quiet because what you have to say isn’t worth hearing. You are as important as everyone else, and if you’ve chosen your friends wisely, if they are true friends, they will recognize that just as you will recognize it about them. Surrounding yourself with people who love and support you is the smartest thing you can do for yourself in this life. With the right friends, you will get wherever you want to go. Listen to those friends when they tell you how awesome you are, because they won’t lie or say nice things just to make you feel good. And the truth is that you are more awesome than you can even know, just like everyone else.

Follow your own guiding star no matter how crazy everyone else thinks it is. If it makes your soul sing, it’s where you should be. Don’t let anyone, including you, put you off that trail. Hang in there, honey, and take this time to learn how to stand on your own and be who you really are—no apologies, and no compromises.

I can’t even tell you how much I love you, or how amazing you are—and are going to be. :)


Now you’ve uncovered your truth, how do you keep it alive and stop yourself from slipping back into those old stories again?

I’m fortunate to have a group of friends who not only encouraged me to get up there in front of an audience but who know how hard it was for me, and as a result will never let me shrink back into obscurity again. I sign up to sing at every open-mic event (we have about 4/year), even if it’s just one song, and if I didn’t, I’d have to go through a re-enactment of the Inquisition about why, and when I’d be getting up there again.

Good friends aren’t just the people who hold your hand when you’re down; they’re also the people who push you to do your best and have faith for you when yours is shaky. I’ve always been very independent and wanted to take care of everything myself, but this group of friends is proving that not only is that crazy talk, there are also just some times when you need the force of a bunch of friends holding you to your own goals and desires and beliefs.


What treasures do you think your future self would like to give you to keep you celebrating your amazing spirit and determination?

Listen to your heart, listen to your body, listen to your intuition; these are all the same thing. Surround yourself with people who will love and support you no matter what, even if they think your goals are crazy. You can’t do it wrong, and you can’t screw it up—unless you don’t do anything at all.


Do you have any questions or comments for Nancy? Post them in the box below!

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