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.

17 thoughts on “My Remarkable Life

  1. Don Tidwell

    Thanks for being brave enough to speak up for those who will still wear the corporate collar, but be working behind the scene writing the next great thing

    Reply
  2. Dani Buckley

    Whoa, what an honest and thoughtful and vulnerable post. This was my second WDS and almost all of your sentiments this year are how I felt last year. I enjoyed the experience but I often felt “left out” and like I was missing something. I didn’t know what it was but I felt like I was at the bottom of the totem pole and just hoping to be let in. I realized this year that I, personally, needed to approach the event very differently. Instead of wanting to be let in by the more well-known, successful people who already seemed to have their cliques… I focused more on every single interaction I had. That was a big shift for me and it was hard because I so desperately want to be the one on stage, the one inspiring people, the one with a published book, etc. etc.

    This post is a great reminder that my life is remarkable NOW and it’s not about what can I do to make it remarkable… it’s about what am I already doing? And what can I do more of? I love this. Thanks for your honesty and for sharing this post. It’s beautifully written, 🙂

    PS – I cried my eyes out numerous times this weekend too!

    Reply
    1. Kate E. McCracken Post author

      That’s awesome, Dani! Kudos to you for making a shift in your intention this year. I appreciate your honesty and connection to my experience–it’s always nice to know we’re not alone.

      Reply
  3. Breanne

    Oh my goodness, yes. To everything you wrote, yes. In most of the big sessions, I sat by myself (literally, by myself, in a theatre of 3000 there was no one to my left or right) – it took most of Saturday for me to get to a point where I could acknowledge that it was okay, and in fact, it was exactly what I needed.

    Even when Chris announced preregistration for next year, I really didn’t know. I didn’t feel like I’d had the momentous, transformational experience that I was expecting. But I took some time to reflect, and I realized that while it didn’t feel like I’d made huge leaps, it was the small inner shifts that were just as important (if not more so). The fact that I found myself touched, in tears, at various points in the programming was an indicator that it did work on me. It wasn’t what I expected – but what I got was almost better.

    Reply
    1. Kate E. McCracken Post author

      Yes right back, Breanne! The inner shifts are often much more powerful because they’re more resilient. I keep finding out little by little what I really got out of the experience even a few days later.

      Reply
  4. Stormy @Maoomba

    Kate, I think your experience there is completely valid and just a different one than others might have had (or that you think they had). It seems like these events inspire and affirm, but also shine light on gaps and unacknowledged areas of our lives. It probably depends on where you are with who you are – something that was made clear to me this past weekend, anyway. I appreciate your perspective and your review of what you learned about yourself. From one work in progress to another, thank you for sharing them.
    Stormy

    Reply
  5. Mo Nishiyama

    This is an amazing story! As a fellow first-timer at WDS this year, the path which led me here, too, was “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. Through series of serendipitous events which followed my discovering and reading the book, it led me to WDS 2013. I was initially nervous about being a first-timer, but all the apprehensions melted during the pre-WDS meetups and the WDS Facebook group. People are so inclusive and supportive!

    I am definitely inspired by your awakening about new direction, and it’s very refreshing to see the discussion about sustaining the momentum (in face of 9-to-5 gigs) on the WDS Facebook group. We are not alone. I know that I am doing remarkable work (in the eyes of important creatives who are scattered throughout the organization, that is–I’m probably ordinary to my bosses, though). I love creating meaning in my 9-to-5 job, and knowing that I’ve stumbled onto a supportive group!

    Reply
    1. Kate E. McCracken Post author

      Thank you Mo! As the first person I met at WDS (in line at early registration!), this is extra special coming from you. Keep on being remarkable in your every day–let’s support each other in doing so!

      Reply
  6. Vicki

    Kate- you are a kick ass writer! I loved reading this piece. I’m somewhere in the middle. A two time WDSer who shared some of Dani’s and Breanne’s experiences, I did not jump at the pre-buy for next year like I did last year even though I thought this year was way better! Maybe because I don’t want to be manipuated by the *discount* factor. I will say that in continuing to reflect on the value of WDS, I am seeing more than the inspiration that fades with time, and the well documented notes that get buried in the mess of my life, what lingers is the spirit of collaboration that WDS allows, encourages, and provides a space for. I’ve attended some post WDS events now and what I love is this freedom to connect through this shared experience that we all had. Almost like the talks, workshops, and dancing inspired a sort of universal vulnerability that doesn’t come about in our every day dealings in our own small circles. This I find to be of great value. I may just have to get in line again for next year to get that incredible high.

    Reply
    1. admin

      I’m with you, Vicky. I’m feeling like the relationships I’m creating through communicating about the shared experience on the other side are quite possibly my most valuable outcome. 🙂

      Reply
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  8. Cynthia Morris

    I’m so proud of you, Kate. I love the clarity you came home with. (I also love that this was a fun anniversary trip for you – how cool!)

    I love how you had to see people in person to recognize what you wanted in your own life. It’s interesting to see how the distance of the internet makes other people’s lives so appealing, even if we really don’t want that life.

    You already are a writer – keep going! I laughed out loud at the description of people taking photo walks in their neighborhoods (mine’s a sketch crawl!).

    Keep cranking open that heart and spilling it onto the page.

    Reply

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