Monthly Archives: July 2013

It’s my vacation and I’ll blog if I want to

It’s on my schedule to blog tonight and I was going to write it ahead of time but instead I spent my time at Target looking for a new bathing suit.  I ended up getting one with a skirt… I don’t know how I feel about it.  Other than: wonderful!  I would never wear a skirt so short in any other moment in life, but something about that teeny skirt covers just enough of my ass and thighs that I have never felt more comfortable in a bathing suit.

On that note… early morning flight to New Hampshire for me to meet the Beloved’s parents and hang out by a lake.  It’s a rough life.

It is my intention to blog from the road.  We’ll see how it goes.  If it doesn’t, see you in August!

xo

Big Brave Beautiful

It’s Thursday!  And as promised here I am to tell you about the theme of my latest adventure!

Back when I thought I wanted to be a coach for a minute (oops), I was planning a workshop (eCourse, eBook, whole shebang–and heck–it still might be…) called Big Brave Beautiful.

Why Big Brave Beautiful?

Well, there are a lot of reasons… first probably because we teach what we need to learn, eh?  I didn’t come up with the words myself.  My beloved did and shared them with me and I knew, as confronted as I was, that they worked.  Let’s break it down.

BIG—  Ouch, that word hurts.  “Bride of Frankenstein” and “Jolly Green Giant” were the nicknames of choice from the middle school boys who now I know were likely crushing on me because of my great hair (kidding, I did not have great hair then).  When shopping with my friends they would say things like “ugh!  they’re out of 7s, and why are there so many size 13s?  who wears a 13?  only fatties!”  (PS, I wasn’t fat, nor did they know–I presume–that all 6′ of me wore a 13).  Then there’s the ever popular “tall kids in the back” for every group photo ever taken.  At least I was used to hanging out back there before I started wanting to as a means of hiding my widening hips.  What big can mean, however, is authentic and authenticity is a necessarily ingredient for a satisfying life.

BRAVE— People say I am.  Tess Vigeland heard that from her loved ones too.  People tend to think it means you’re fearless… to me it means feeling the fear and doing it anyway.  And I can for a lot of things, and there are other places (many that I don’t even recognize yet) where fear paralyzes me.

BEAUTIFUL— It’s about so much more than what’s on the outside.  It’s even more than knowing  inner beauty when the outside doesn’t jive with societal norms.  It’s about seeing myself through the eyes of the people who love me.

The Big Brave Beautiful Story

I was the tallest kid in class since I could stand (or go to class). And I spent most of my youth hunched over trying to appear smaller — not realizing that my lowered shoulders were keeping my spirit small as well.

As an adult, having started to break out of the confining beliefs that told me to remain contained, I started asking others if they felt like they were living as large as they believed they were meant to — and nearly everyone had a story about staying small to try and fit in or please others. Whether being “big” was attributed to their body, voice, personality, presence, or even success — they were told one way or another that it was undesirable, imposing, distasteful, unwanted, or lacking in honor. And so they kept themselves contained.

This world needs us as the fullest expression of ourselves; to heal our own wounds, give our gifts, share our stories, and inspire others to do the same. 

Big Brave Beautiful is the way there because choosing to own your BIGness requires BRAVEry,
but it will be oh so BEAUTIFUL, baby (just wait and see)!

 

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Beginning Thursday, September 5, 2013 this blog will run a series of guest posts on the Big Brave Beautiful theme.  Contributors will be folks that I admire, whose stories have impacted me.  Some will have written pieces for you, others will make audio or video files, there may be an interview or two.

There contributions will range in theme and include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Using life transition as an opportunity for life transformation: In the moment their life was rocked they started rockin’ the best version of themselves.
  • Feeling the Fear and Doing it Anyway: They did (or continue to do) something that terrifies them. And learned about themselves and the world in the process
  • Laying it all out: Stories of vulnerability.  They said exactly how they felt, and it paid off (even if they didn’t get “what you wanted”)
  • Bravery how-to: They’ve discovered a surefire way to make scary things seem safer.  By engaging the right supports they’re able to take risks.  They’ll tell us how!

In reading, maybe you’ll be inspired to share your own Big Brave Beautiful story.  I hope you will.  I’d love to give you a platform for sharing it with an audience who craves to know the authentic you.

Bad Hair Week

This is not my hair, or my photo.  Click on the photo for the original source.

This is not my hair, or my photo. (click for source).

I am having a bad hair week.  I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but I have great hair…  it’s sorta my thing.  So a bad hair day here or there is manageable, but bad hair for days upon days is pretty soul sucking (it’s a joke, folks.  a mostly true one, but a joke all the same).  Actually, I’m having a rough time this week in general (it just occurred to me today, when a friend complimented my hair to try and cheer me up, that my hair might have something to do with it).  I’m waking up cranky.  I’m being snappy with my kid and my beloved.  I’m generally dissatisfied with life and nothing is really wrong.  I’ve been in a funk.

I had a very long playdate in the park this afternoon (that, frankly, I was dreading because I would have to pretend to be the version of myself that is actually happy around other people).  Turns out, after pretending for 5 minutes, I just became her and I think I’m on the upswing–I felt better yesterday evening and I do again today… so that’s progress.

But because I’m in a funk, I’m cutting myself a lot of slack.  It’s part of the way I take care of myself.  I back off of some of the (ridiculously) high expectations I have of myself in order to loosen the grip the shame has on my psyche.  And I had planned to give myself the opportunity to shirk the post I had scheduled to write tonight… and then in my email this morning I got this.  And the brilliant, Jo Anna Rothman’s words got right up under my skin.  And most of the day I thought, fine–I’ll write it, that’s what my task says to do “write BBB post,” but I won’t post it.  That’ll be plenty.  And then I read it again (go ahead and click on it now if you didn’t the first time–I’ll wait).  And I was, like, damn girl–get out of my head!  Stop being the same as me… because if we have that in common that must also mean that I’m as awesome as you are and if I’m as awesome as you are and you don’t let this nonsense stop you then I can’t let it stop me either!

the task in question

the task in question

So, here I am… bad hair and all.  Doing what I committed to myself I would do today which is tell you about what’s next for me here on the blog.

As you may recall, I recently returned from the World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon where I reconnected with my writer self and got clear about how I wanted to spend my creative time and energy (ahem, writing).  I also mentioned that I had been planning to solicit contributions for an eCourse and instead of throwing all that work out the window I was going to redirect that energy toward building my author’s platform instead.

I’ve got a few books in me… at least. I have the memoir of the year of my life post-divorce where I turned a major life transition into an opportunity for life transformation.  I have the book that DOES tell you how hard parenting is (and why, and what you can do about it).  I have a childhood story that’s gripping enough that when I wrote about it in 10th grade my teacher gave the paper a C- yet still wanted to display it on the wall at back-to-school night.  I’m sure eventually I’ll write a book about writing a book.  But having good books isn’t enough anymore.  The world of publishing (self or traditional) requires that you have an author’s platform (basically that means a built in community of readers, probably in the form of social media followers and even more importantly, and engaged group of social media followers).

As I’ve learned from others, the most effective way to be successful (and feel good) is through collaboration, so I’m stating my intention here–out loud–in front of everyone.  I’m going to build my author’s platform by doing the most terrifying thing imaginable.  I am going to invite people I admire to come to this blog and guest post (they might say no–ack!) and I am going to ask people I admire if I may do the same for them (again, what if they say no?  double ack!).  And we’re going to share our readership.  And our collaboration is going to help all of us.  And we’re going to be amazing.

So, that’s my plan.  Now you’ve heard it.  There’s also a theme (because besides collaboration, branding is really important too), and on Thursday you’re going to hear more about it.  I can’t wait to share it with you (unless you think it sucks, then I can wait… but I’m not going to.  Thursday.  It’s coming).

Why NOT being vulnerable is actually scarier…

My son (he’s 6 now) is afraid a lot.  More often than I’d like him to be–just because I remember being the same and how painful it was.  The other day he asked me, “What if you leave me with a babysitter and that babysitter turns out to be a robber (his word for “bad guy”) and they cook me?”  I don’t know where he comes up with this stuff… other than, the same place I do (and did, as a child)… the same place we all do.  We make up these ideas of worst case scenario in our heads that are highly unlikely and if we believe in their possibility long enough they become imprinted onto our brains as a reason not to do something that feels risky.

He’s also afraid of water.  He doesn’t like (and has been, up until today, unwilling to go into situations with water where he doesn’t feel like he has complete control).  Splash him in the face–it’s over–he’s staying away from all bodies of water for at least another month.  Hairwashing is a big negotiation around here.

Learning to swim is something that’s been imprinted onto my brain as both a safety issue and an opportunity to build confidence.  And most kids who don’t learn by age 8, never learn at all.  According to the law of mom, that’s not an option for us.  So for the last several weeks we have been easing into swimming lessons slowly.  I’ve been leaving my (incredibly flexible) job midday to head to the Y for the 30 minute swim class his day camp gets on Tuesdays & Thursday.

The first day he sat on the edge with his feet in the water.

The second, after showing him how high 3′ of water was going to come up on his body using the growth chart in his room (score one for momma!), he got in once and got right back out.

The third, he held onto the side and did the kicking.

Every day he was adamant that he wasn’t doing anything else and every day I asked him to pick something new to do.  Today was the day when all of the “easy” things were off the table.

The only choices involved getting all the way in the water and practicing swimming or floating in the arms of the swim instructor.  He believed me when I told him the kickboard won’t ever sink and chose that as his new activity.  Walking onto the pool deck, he turned to me with tears in his eyes and said in a quivering voice “but I’m scared.”  I told him, “it’s okay to be scared.  Tell the swim instructor how you feel.  He’ll help you.”

he swims!

he swims!

And when it was his turn, he stood up and said, voice still quivering but now with chest puffed out, chin high and eyes blinking in matter of fact assuredness “I’m scared.  But I’m going to try.”  And in response to his vulnerability he got the support he needed to feel safe.  He got on that kickboard and kicked his way around the pool beaming all the while.  After that success he did all of the other swim activities in the class (even jumping into the pool at the end)!  Yes, I cried.

How lucky am I that I get to be this kid’s mom and have these abundant lessons in my life every day?  Today, in the pool, after being vulnerable and asking for what he needed my son got an experience that wasn’t that scary after all.  Prior to that, the pool was the scariest thing he could imagine (well, beyond being “cooked by a robber.”  By the way, I reassured him that wasn’t going to happen.  I do vet my babysitters to ensure they aren’t cannibalistic thieves before hiring them).

Jia Jiang, who redefined rejection by asking what seemed like impossible questions for 100 days and heard YES more often than not. (Photo Credit: Armosa Studios)

Jia Jiang, who vulnerably redefined rejection by asking what seemed like impossible questions for 100 days and (surprise!) heard YES more often than not. (Photo Credit: Armosa Studios)

So many of us walk around this earth believing that vulnerability is scary–so we avoid it–when in fact, NOT being vulnerable is even scarier.  I can’t tell you how many times the fact that I come off as confident and collected has resulted in me being even more terrified of what I’m facing because I didn’t ask for and everyone assumed I didn’t need support!  When we don’t reveal how scared we are people assume we’re tough–we don’t need them–and they leave us alone with our fear. It can be dreadfully lonely.  If there’s anything that magnifies fear, it’s loneliness.

Everything we fear is a product of our reptilian brain trying to protect us from being eaten by a dinosaur (historical inaccuracy intended for humor) and almost everything we fear has no actual ability to hurt or kills us.  What hurts more is staying stuck, feeling lonely, and letting fear drive us.  TIme and time again I see people choose vulnerability or choose bravery and be surprised at how quickly it got them what they wanted.

A little vulnerability goes a long way, so let’s all take a lesson from my not so little one and the next time we’re feeling afraid, let’s not let that stop us.  Instead, let’s say to someone “I’m scared, but I’m going to try.”

My Remarkable Life

WDS Passbooks

World Domination Summit (or #WDS2013 among friends) is an annual event where folks focused on community, adventure, and service come together to answer the question: How do we live a remarkable life in a conventional world? Photo Credit: Armosa Studios

Over the Independence Day holiday weekend my beloved and I traveled to Portland, Oregon to celebrate our one year anniversary (woot!) and attend the World Domination Summit (Is it what you think it is?  I don’t know… what do you think it is?), because we’re geeky like that–it works for us!

Heading to #WDS2013 I thought I was going to launch my coaching business and along with it, my new, remarkable life.  Although I never made it here to blog about that intention, I’ll own up to it fully now: I was armed with a stack of postcards I had slaved over for weeks to solicit contributions for my debut product (an online workshop experience like thingy that was yet to be defined) and over breakfast on day one my beloved and I engaged in networking role play (again, we’re geeky like that).

Because that’s what people like me do, right?  Conscious, intelligent, creative, nonconformist women coach, blog, speak, and write.  They have eCourses and eBooks generating passive income for themselves as they go on photowalks in their hipster neighborhoods and make yogurt out of non-dairy milks (it may sound like I’m poking fun, but really I’m describing my personal heaven).  They would never do anything as horrifically dull and conventional (judgmental language and emphasis mine) as hold down a 9-5 job. They work for themselves!  They answer to no one!  Except maybe their adorably photogenic toddler… (ack, my son is six–I’m running out of time!  shouts the internal dialogue…)

I’ve been an observer of this community since I started my blog in late 2011.  I was reading the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin at the time.  I found Brene Brown and Danielle LaPorte soon after.  I read $100 Startup.  I was a collector of inspirational figures.  I followed them all on Facebook and Twitter.  I subscribed to all of their blogs and feeds.  I admired them from afar, concocting stories in my head about what their lives must be like and formulating a plan to get mine from where it was to the fantasy I had established for all of us.  And I wrote my blog.  And I waited for them to find me and invite me into the fold.

When I learned about WDS in 2012 I had elevated the folks involved to such a high status that I wouldn’t have considered going even if there were tickets available.  When my beloved suggested #WDS2013 as an anniversary trip, I answered yes from a much more confident, complete version of myself–and expected to be ready to use it as an opportunity to insert myself in this world I had been coveting.

I entered the first official session of WDS eager to merge with the community.  Maybe too eager.  I might have skipped the essential step of intentional self care in an expectedly intense environment.  The logistics of the experience were challenging for me.  We wanted to be there early and get a good seat and feel settled, but that meant sitting in a theater of nearly 3,000 people for an hour while the din of their conversation rose to levels that prevented me from hearing myself speak at a normal volume.  It was overwhelming.  There was a “Highly Sensitive Person’s Lounge” with hammocks (hammocks!), but there was also a packed schedule.  I didn’t sit in a hammock.  I wasn’t taking care of myself and I wasn’t feeling great.

I noticed people around me feeling energized and connected by their interactions with one another–old friends and first time meetings alike.  They seemed to be able to connect over the noise level and through the crowds in the hallways.  Many had been before, when there were only 500 or 1000 people in attendance and that endowed them with the superpower of creating intimacy among 3000.  I wanted what they were having.  Whatever they were doing, feeling, or saying was the “right” way to experience WDS and I needed to get myself there.  I couldn’t see yet that I was seeking something inauthentic and by focusing on that goal I nearly missed what I really got out of the weekend.

As I look back I can see the series of events that took place that brought me from my lovingly misguided intention (start something new, be a super social, slyly self promoting genius and therefore: be remarkable) to where I am now (embracing current existence as remarkable):

Blogger, Darren Rowse (Photo Credit: Armosa Studios)

Blogger, Darren Rowse (Photo Credit: Armosa Studios)

Singer/Songwriter, Clare Bowditch (Photo Credit: Armosa Studios)

Singer/Songwriter, Clare Bowditch (Photo Credit: Armosa Studios)

1. When Darren Rowse told us our next big thing might be the little thing in front of us, tears dripped down my face, splashing into my lap and when he brought Clare Bowditch up to sing to us about how we don’t have to be complete to let ourselves be seen–I sobbed.

 

 

 

Author, Gretchen Rubin (Photo Credit: Armosa Studios)

Author, Gretchen Rubin (Photo Credit: Armosa Studios)

2. When Gretchen Rubin was speaking (yes, Happiness Project-Gretchen Rubin, the one who started it all for me!) about knowing ourselves, she asked us to write down who we envied and why and I wrote: Gretchen Rubin–because she has what I want.  Gretchen is an author and a speaker folks, not a coach.

 

 

 

Public Radio Personality, Tess Vigeland (Photo Credit: Armosa Studios)

Public Radio Personality, Tess Vigeland (Photo Credit: Armosa Studios)

3. When Tess Vigeland was speaking about her journey of discovery after leaving what was once a dream job I kept waiting to hear her say she had left her position in public radio because she discovered she wanted something else… but she never did.  She didn’t have exactly what she wanted yet, but she still knew that radio was her calling.

 

 

 

Author, Donald Miller (Photo Credit: Armosa Studios)

Author, Donald Miller (Photo Credit: Armosa Studios)

4. Finally, when Donald Miller spoke I found myself squirming in my seat.  He joked about having published five memoirs already…  I find myself incredibly interesting too–where are my published memoirs?!

Shit, I realized, I don’t want to be a coach. I want to be a writer.  I am a writer.

 

 

And I came home on the plane with that resolution.  I am a writer.  Time to start writing.  I could take much of the energy I had put into the collaborative product I was developing for the coaching brand and use that strategy to build my author’s platform instead.  I was going to start writing again.  I’d blog weekly.  I’d write daily.  I’d become remarkable (aka published) no matter how long it took…

This morning I saw a post on the WDS Facebook group asking for advice to help stay energized when still stuck in the 9-5 and all this energy came flooding through me… Be okay with being in a 9-5, I heard in my head, make that remarkable.  And for the rest of that day I practiced just that.  I was remarkable at work.  At my 9-5 job.  The one where I work with a wonderful team, have abundant development opportunities, get to give my gifts through teaching/facilitation–planning/organizing–and–system designing, and have a delightful balance of flexibility and stability that allows me to manage my life with ease.  While always acknowledging that it’s a great job, I’ve judged it and myself for having it.  It felt unremarkable to work for someone else in the program my brain was running.  Turns out, it’s not just a great job–it can be remarkable too, when I decide to be remarkable doing it.

I’m realizing, in fact, anything we do can be done remarkably.  The part of my brain that knows that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line deduced that to get from where I was to what I perceived as “remarkable” I would need to be a coach.  Because that’s what remarkable people who could coach did, they coached, and I could coach–so I should coach.

Guess what brain?  I don’t want to be a coach.  I’m a writer.  I don’t need to coach to be a writer.  I need to write to be a writer.  I don’t need to coach to be remarkable.  Writing is remarkable–and not only that…  Plumbers, doctors, lawyers, cooks, bus drivers, building managers, real estate agents, accountants, food servers, bartenders, theater ushers, and training & staff development specialists at large non-profit organizations are potentially remarkable as well.  The key seems to be knowing the true impact of what we’re we’re doing and focusing on as much as we’re doing so.

One day back into real life I am not 100% clear about whether I enjoyed my time at WDS.  I have a lot of affection for it, but it was painful at times.  I was moving very rapidly between spaces where I could access joy and inspiration and spaces where I was too overwhelmed or overstimulated to feel anything at all.  I spent a lot of energy wanting the experience I perceived others around me were having (I don’t know, not even now, that they really were…) instead of honoring myself, my limits and having my own experience.  It was exhausting.  I’m not sure if an event of this scale can provide an environment where I’ll be able to thrive.  I might not go back (until I’m on stage talking about turning life transitions into life transformation, of course.  I’m totally up for that).

Bollywood! (Photo Credit: Armosa Studios--thank you for your beautiful photos)

(Photo Credit: Armosa Studios–thank you for your beautiful photos)

On the other hand, I loved much of the official programming and had a generous handful of delightful moments in line with fellow WDSers that nurtured me and had me feeling connected to a vibrant community.  The team who puts the event together does a thoughtful job of creating an inclusive, high quality experience for all attendees (even if we don’t take advantage of the resources available to us because we’re stubborn).  And the kick ass group Bollywood dance session at the closing party shook most, if not all, of my self-judgment and regret out of my body in a glorious finale.  Maybe this is a “lesson learned” moment and I can return with new knowledge and tools for self care and healthy expectation and have my version of a blast!

More than anything else, whether it was comfortable or not, what I got from WDS was the gift of (knowing I already have) a remarkable life (and I can tap into it any time I choose).

And guess what?  you do too.

The plan I had on the plane is the same.  Blogging 1-2 times weekly.  Writing daily.  Building an author’s platform.  The only difference is that I’ll go ahead and be remarkable now–rather than waiting for a publish date.

I thought #WDS2013 would be the start of a new, more remarkable life.  Instead, #WDS2013 inspired me to live my current life remarkably.