Our interview with January ANXIETY speaker, Laurie-Beth Robbins of Smart Octopus Cookie.
PKX: Tell us about your journey to being the expert on the ANXIETY conversation?
Laurie-Beth: So my story begins in rural Vermont.
When I was 6 years old I asked my parents for frog legs & octopus salad to eat.
They didn’t know where that came from, and nor did I! Something within me asked. But to their credit, they fostered that interest. They went above and beyond with their humble, middle income to find these ingredients for me and expose me to that. I chose my parents well.
Fast forward, and I got into competitive public speaking at school. I would barter with my parents to be taken to gourmet restaurants for winning the tournaments. I won, and they took me. So the food and the speaking started early.
Food and speaking were my haven from brutal bullying at school. Anxiety was an early theme for me.
If not for my wonderful parents, I probably wouldn’t be here.
My tormenters made a very confident woman out of me, but not until later in life.
We do carry our scars for a long time.
But public speaking was always my zone. When I was in my zone, I couldn’t hear the bullies. I’m 150% in my zone while speaking and it’s my true love. I love that person in the corner of the room - if I can reach that person with my speaking, then it’s all worth it.
PKX: Talk to us about the topic Anxiety a bit more.
I was taken in Greece as a 28 year old by Balkan thugs and I was to be sold into the sex trade.
But there was no Liam Neeson to arrive on cue. I saved my own ass and in a very long way I made it home. I was raped by two men.
I have looked the eyes of Hell in the face, and in that moment I began to realize that we all have the same energy.
So even though I make videos about smoked lobster and decadence, I do know anxiety all to well.
I do know the ultimate struggle.
The difference is I was raised by probably the most upbeat people in the world, and to their credit, they helped me choose the good in life.
You have to go looking for the good in every single situation.
We have a choice every day to send it in a certain direction, and most people fail that test and they send it in a really negative direction.
Anxiety is a very powerful energy.
The same energy and the same power that is in that stress, can give us the same prowess to correct it and have something wonderful. It’s a matter of choice.
We get in our own way. We have pity parties. We decide we want to be anxious.
We feel scared, and we stay that way. But that same dynamic feeling that is giving you the panic is ENERGY. That’s powerful. If you use it in a positive, good, direction, you can walk out of here feeling better than you ever did. But it’s a choice.
Not everyone wants to be around strong, upbeat people who are confident.
Anxiety presents a wonderful choice. We all have it. No one is immune to it. But how we respond to makes the difference.
Anxiety is just another powerful form of energy, and it can be channeled to do good, or harm.
I’ve met people who have been through horrors.
I asked a wonderful man who was a holocaust survivor how he is able to stand with humor and pay it forward. I asked him what would his advice be to people today. He said “You have to look at your life and say is there anything in my life right now, even a tiny sliver that is good, and if there is, you have to focus all your energy on that. And if you believe there is nothing - then you have to go looking for it.”
That changed me. It really changed me. You’ve got to go looking for the good.
You have a choice with that energy. Poor me, or I’M ALIVE.
If you walk through hell, and survive, then you have an obligation to give some of that strength that other people who are navigating anxiety. Give them a hug, a smile, some of that life force.
I’m not heroic. I’m not courageous. But talking about pain is very courageous.
PKX: Anything new and exciting in your field?
I think people are more accepting of “motivation” now. You see so many upbeat memes right now. People are craving motivation. A little upbeat Laurie-Beth Robbins moment!
People are craving solace on their devices and in their lives.
A sliver of motivation on your facebook feed, local summits and meet ups - that is exciting to me.
PKX: If you could open a door to anywhere in the past, present, of future, where would it be and why?
To one of Salvador Dali’s eccentric dinner parties. They would have wild animals strolling around, everyone would wear costumes - they would have this wild lobster tree - that is so my league. I used to host exotic parties. I would love to open a door and peek into one of this parties.
PKX: Any advice to someone just starting out?
Never use notes. No teleprompter. You are far more powerful without them. No one will know you missed a word. So if you forget what you were going to say, and you will, you will something you didn’t plan which is even better. Learn to be an extemporaneous speaker. That is far more confident. When I taught speaking, I made them be extemporaneous on the first day of class. No notes! That is my advice. A wedding toast, a eulogy, a debate - no notes! It also helps with anxiety! You are stronger than you know!
PKX: If we could invite anyone to be a speaker at PKX, who would it be?
Joan Rivers. I love her. I still love her. Bright. Hilarious. Strong. Someone who struggled. She knows real deal authentic living. I would love to just hug her and get a little bit of that schtick.
Thanks Laurie-Beth. We hope everyone decides to think about the choice they have with anxiety after your talk. Photography by Raya Al-Hashmi of Raya on Assignment. Interview by Geneve Hoffman, Host of CreativeMornings PKX - Portsmouth NH. Interview held at Profile Coffee Bar, Portsmouth NH.