The Learning Curve

AdobeStock_64919833.jpeg

It’s that time of year when students of all ages are graduating on to bigger and better things. In my family alone, we have three graduations in as many weeks.

After a couple of decades of being out of school, my sister just completed her Master’s Degree in Student Leadership.  Her daughter is finishing her last week at SCAD and will be heading out to California to start her creative career with a hat maker. And my nephew just graduated from Illinois State University and is on his way to Wyoming with his girlfriend to experience a summer working at Yellowstone.

Oh, the thrill of the open road and a new chapter!

This is the promise of new beginnings. Anything is possible.

The reality is that new beginnings are available to us at any time, although we sometimes need a little pomp and circumstance before we’re officially ready to roll.

I prefer to start without the fanfare.

I tend to launch before I know what I’m getting into.

Because if I knew what would be required of me to do half the things I long to do, I’d never do them.

It’s too daunting.

The learning curve is too steep.

If I knew how ridiculous I would feel prior to feeling fabulous or smart or trendy, I would never conjure up the courage to connect or create in all the ways that really light me up.

If I knew how much time, energy, and effort would be required to learn something people half my age were born knowing, I’d be tempted to use the “I’m too old for this” excuse.

But it’s that attitude that ages us faster than anything else.

The thing is, before we can get there from here, we have to go through the I-have-no-idea-where-I-am-or-what-I’m-doing place.  No one talks about this place because once we get where we’re going and know what we’re doing, we often erase limbo land from our memory.

It’s human nature to want to forget our ineptitude or gloss over the obvious errors in our thinking or the epic failures we didn’t anticipate.

But these often make the most memorable stories and become the beginnings of our greatest adventures.

Countless success stories start with the adventure that went awry, the chance meeting that wouldn’t have happened if all had gone as planned, or the random recalculating of  an accepted hypothesis that resulted in a scientific breakthrough.

There is an urgency about getting to the Promised Land, wherever that may be. We want to start out making top dollar. We want to instantly become an internet sensation. We want everyone to know our name. We want to succeed in business without really trying.

But there is a necessary learning curve. This is that magical time when we are humbled and frustrated and overwhelmed and filled with uncertainty that’s only occasionally sprinkled with awe and amazement and enthusiasm about what’s possible.

It’s this grace period when we get to fly under the radar, make mistakes, and hone our craft before we get pummeled by public perception.

It’s when we realize how lucky we are not to have our dreams realized before they are fully formed.

I recently came across a book titled “What’s In The Way, Is The Way.”  This echoes the idea we’ve been tossing about in my coaching program that the life we’ve lived so far, with all its trials and tribulations, has provided the precise experiences we need to succeed.

Whatever impeded our journey informed our journey and placed us in the perfect position to offer the unique contributions we can today.

So, graduates, as you saddle up and ride off into the sunset, remember it’s the detours, flat tires, the missed turns and the learning curves they afford that hold the real gifts.

I have no doubt you will get to your Promised Land with the flair and finesse that only you possess. Just remember to embrace with grace the path that leads you there.

I’d love to hear what you are graduating from at this juncture in your life. Please leave your comments, insights, or advice for fellow graduates of all kinds in the comments below.

 

 

Do the Necessary Hard Work

woman clenched fist isolated copyspace

Although I love the sentiment behind the notion that if you conceive of an idea and believe in it, you can achieve it, putting it into practice is another matter entirely.

There are many things I’ve been attempting to do lately that I believe are possible.  I’m just not sure they are possible for me.  Take this whole video making business.

The software and other equipment involved in making cutting edge videos, tantalizing trailers, and professional promos seems to be widely available and easily accessible to the tech savvy segment of the population. I am not yet part of that population.

It’s not because I don’t want to be. When I attended the Blogher conference in San Jose a few years ago and was called a girl geek, I was secretly thrilled. While some guys might go to Jared or Tiffany’s to win the affection of their spouse, my guy goes to Best Buy and brings me home a MacBook Pro (another technological leap for this perpetual PC user).

I have the enthusiasm. I have a quirky kind of intellect. I even have the tools.  At this point I just can’t figure out how to make all these things come together in real life the way they do in my imagination.

But I will not give up. I am determined to figure this out. I vow to stay curious and open to new ways of doing what I love – even when I feel like I will never get the hang of it.

It took me 3 weeks to make this 3 minute video. I have 4 more in the wings, waiting for me to learn the technological wizardry required to resurrect them from the scrap heap.

As frustrating as it seems when I’m in the midst of any learning curve, when I emerge on the other side, I am ecstatic.

So to celebrate this small victory, I’ll share the next episode of  A Penny For Your Thoughts with you. I’d love for you to share your struggles – and especially your small victories – with me in the comments below.

Click here and it shall be revealed….

https://spark.adobe.com/video/OfNeMUAxDDsFd/embed

 

What Do You Do When Life Gives You Lemons?

AdobeStock_88952161.jpeg

In my effort to be more visible, to show up more fully, and put my whole self in, I’ve decided to make a series of videos called A Penny for Your Thoughts.

Each week I will explore a topic and invite you to join me in this grand adventure.  You are welcome to send in topics as well as your own videos.

If you are under 30, I’m guessing you’re totally up to the challenge and wondering why it took me so long to ask.

I can say with some amount of certainty that if you’re over 40, the mere thought of making a video is enough to cause a panic attack.

I know this because making videos is terrifying for me.  It absolutely unnerves me. Possibly because the Invisibility Cloak I got for my 40th birthday has become a bit of a security blanket for me by now.  And most likely because when a writer becomes visible, it’s a total game-changer.

No one notices my crooked teeth, thinning hair, thickening waste, or messy kitchen when I’m writing.  Everyone notices when I show up on their computer screen.

Videos = Visibility = Vulnerability

You know those dreams – nightmares, really – when you show up to a big event but somehow have forgotten your shirt or pants or find yourself completely naked?  That’s what it feels like to make a video.

But it’s also the best way I know to let you see my passion, my quirkiness, my commitment to my craft, to lifelong learning, and to you, my faithful reader.

I’ve been blogging for 6 years now. I thought we might be ready to take this relationship to the next level.  What do you say?

Okay then. Strap in.  Adjust your helmets. It’s going to get interesting.  And hopefully, even fun.

I know it’s a little hard to hear the audio part with the music. I’m using Adobe Spark and tried to turn the music down as much as I could but I couldn’t figure out how to delete it during the video segments when I was talking. Clearly, I needed to use a microphone.

I promise the videos will get better as I learn! 🙂  I am also open to any of you video wizards giving me tips and suggestions.  You know who you are!  I’d love to hear from you. Contact me at penny@wellpower.com.

 

What’s the Plan?

AdobeStock_116466425.jpeg

I ended 2016 very differently than I have most other years. Instead of going quietly into the New Year with as little fanfare as possible, I experienced a media blitz that had me working harder on my time off than I had at any other time throughout the year.

It was part of my whole alphabet plan to get from Here to the New Year in Good Cheer. It also allowed me to end 2016’s self-titled “Stretch Year” strong by catapulting me out of my comfort zone and consistently into the public arena.

Instead of building on this momentum and jockeying for position in the onslaught of self-improvement programs that January brings about, I retreated. In order to hear the still, small voice among all the shoulding and shouting, I had to get quiet.

As a college administrator, January rivals August as a “don’t mess with me” month. At least not until the students are registered, the faculty is prepped, the staff is informed, and we all get through the first few weeks of classes.

So I’ve resisted the urge to jump into every exciting new program that arrives in my Inbox as well as the temptation to launch my own signature program. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

There is a lot of buzz at the beginning of a New Year. It’s an excellent time to tap into the energy of a fresh start, a new beginning, a clean slate. As much as I wanted to ride the wave and see how far it would take me, I was starting to feel a bit frazzled.

So I asked myself, “What’s the workable plan for now?  What’s the next right step to move my life forward at a sustainable rate?” 

The answer? Plan my work and work my plan. This, of course, calls for a fabulous planner!

Last year I used Danielle LaPorte’s daily planner, which piqued my interest in planners. This year I decided to try out her weekly planner. Even though this planner works brilliantly for my creatively quirky mind, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Are there other planners out there I might also love?”

Oh yeah. Being organized is big business.

I researched and ordered a few planners that made the top  10 lists. One was the Inkwell 2017 planner. This could possibly be my new favorite planner because of all the fun extras like a habit tracker, mission board, lots of space for notes, colorful tabs, and some pockets in the back to store stuff.

The other was Nourished the daily planner for a well-fed life.  I loved the concept and it seemed like the perfect planner to help me be more deliberate and intentional with my meal planning and fitness tracking. It just arrived over the weekend, so I haven’t worked with it too much yet.

As much as I love  each of these planners and are impressed by the details that went into their design, ultimately I have to customize them so they track what I deem important. I need a place to ask the clarifying questions on a daily basis that are just as important to me as knowing where I need to be at what time.

For example, every morning it helps me to ask:

  • What is this day about? 
  • What wants to come forward?  
  • What needs to get done?
  • How do I want to feel?
  • What am I willing to do to feel that way?

Every evening it helps me to figure out:

  • Where was the magic hiding?
  • Where did I get tripped up, lose focus, fall out of integrity, or tell myself something that wasn’t true?
  • What was lost? 
  • What was found?
  • What were the HappyThankYouMorePlease moments?
  • What brilliant ideas surfaced?
  • What thoughts consistently hound me?
  • What do I need to sleep on and hope to gain clarity on for tomorrow?
  • Where did I excel?
  • Where can I improve?

The answers to these questions dictate my actions and determine what makes it on the next day’s agenda.

What about you? How much attention do you pay to your day and how does this attention or lack of attention affect your ability to achieve what you want to achieve?

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. you may want to craft your own “I Have a Dreamspeech today. Even if you don’t have any inkling as to how to achieve it or the specifics of what you truly want, just start by stating what you believe is possible. You don’t have to deliver it to anyone else. This is mainly to remind you of what matters and why.

Or, if you are avoiding resolutions or self-reflection the way year-round exercisers avoid the gym until February, that’s okay.  Just breathe in, breathe out, and go about your business. Let the dream, the purpose, or the vision find you.

One of my favorite mantras is, “What you seek is also seeking you.” Somehow the timing is always perfect. Trust wherever you are is where you need to be for now.

You’ve got a whole year ahead of you. Plan accordingly.*

I’d love for you to share your favorite planners and any tips or tricks for making 2017 your best one yet in the comments below.

resolve_to_evolve_new

*P.S. –  There will no doubt be surprises and things you didn’t see coming in the year ahead.  Don’t forget to leave some room for the unexpected in your grand plan.  Keeps it interesting!

Save

Save

Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – You’ve Got This

Resolve to Evolve - Name It and Claim It(6).jpg

Congratulations!

You made it through the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge. Let’s pop the cork and toast the successful completion of this challenge and the good fortune that brought us together.

I look forward to supporting you in achieving your deepest desires in 2017 and having a whole lot of fun along the way.

Why does this template look like this and not numbered lists and boxes and categories? Because we’re starting with the basics. Feel free to fancy it up and add as many lists, boxes, and categories as your heart desires. It’s your field guide to use as you like. If you want to add some support materials like day planners and schedules, by all means do.

But let’s start with the basics.

What do you want and why? How do you want to feel? Underneath all the striving and longing is a desire to feel something. Feeling drives everything. So what are those feelings and what are you willing to do to feel that way on a regular basis?

Do you want to feel alive, free, vibrant, rich, confident, healthy, sensuous, brilliant, gorgeous, generous, passionate? What exactly? I want to know. I also want to know what you are willing to do to experience this regularly.

Who do you have to support you and encourage you to along the way? You wouldn’t climb Mt. Everest without securing a Sherpa, setting up base camps, knowing the terrain, or studying the weather conditions. Don’t go into this alone.

Gather your ground crew and intel. Hire a coach, a personal trainer, a chef, someone to clean your house or shovel your snow, get a virtual assistant, do what you can to set yourself up for success.

Build daily wins into your Name It and Claim It blueprint. Our brains are wired for winning, so I want you to sprinkle as many small victories along the way as possible.

Wins can look like anything from stopping to notice the finches have discovered a full bird feeder outside your window to savoring a home cooked meal to finally beating your brother at Euchre.

Here are 6 key concepts to keep in mind as you move into the New Year.

  1. Thinking your way into your goals or intentions doesn’t work.

  2. Feeling your way into them does.

  3. Large, grandiose declarations that you can easily put off don’t work.

  4. Small, consistent daily actions do.

  5. Complicating things distracts, overwhelms, and pulls the focus away from your goals.

  6. Simplifying and being specific about small, easily executable actions allows you to focus and build unstoppable momentum.

You can download the template here.

Please join me on Facebook Live on Saturday, December 31 at 10am CST or Sunday, January 1 at 2pm CST where I’ll be discussing the Year In Review and Name It & Claim It process.

I’m sharing some of our Here to the New Year in Good Cheer tips on Paula Sands Live today at 3pm if you happen to be in our QC viewing area.

I’d love to hear your responses to these questions in the comments below.  Or join me over the weekend on Facebook.

Thanks so much for reading.  Happy New Year!

here_to_the_new_year_in_good_cheer

P.S. Did I mention I have a Resolve to Evolve journal with your name on it?  Just leave your contact information below and I’ll get one in the mail to you.

 

 

Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Take Your Time

AdobeStock_126663818.jpeg

When I lived in Santa Fe, I used to housesit and dogsit for people. When a friend’s mother  passed away, she asked if I would stay at her mother’s house until she and her sister decided what to do with it.

This was no ordinary house. This was a gorgeous ranch with a guest house in one of my favorite places on earth. I was sure everyone was mistaken and I was really the one who had died because this was my idea of heaven. The days I got to spend in that home among so many beautiful things were unforgettable.

My friend’s mother was a remarkable woman who had crafted an astonishingly elegant life for herself and the friends, family, horses, and canines that kept her company.

One evening as I sat on the porch watching a spectacular sunset the idea occurred to me that I couldn’t hang on to this place or this experience any more than my friend’s mother could. The only thing I could do was fully appreciate the time I had there.

This is why I’m so protective of this time at the end of the year and seem obsessed with making sense of the year coming to a close.  I’m acutely aware that, as the classic Seals and Croft song goes, “We may never pass this way again.”

So I want to make sure I’m present for it. That I don’t rush through it in my desire to move on to bigger, better, faster, or flashier. I want to take my time and give it the attention a full year of my life deserves. I hope you’ll do the same with yours.

With that said, I’ll take you through the rest of the Year in Review template and tomorrow I’ll give you a different one to look at the year ahead.

What were the products that rocked your world? Every year there is at least one thing I wonder how I ever lived without. Usually it’s an upgrade or improvement to something I use every day. It could be as simple as a new electric toothbrush, slim velvet hangers, a new skincare product, or an app that reminds me to meditate, move, or feed the fish. What are those things for you?

Who were the people who rocked your world? Just as there are products you can’t live without, there are people who make it all worthwhile. It could be your yoga teacher, your rabbi, a rock star, a writer, your next door neighbor, Alexander Hamilton, or the dog-treat-dispensing bank teller. I was inspired by so many people that this will have to be a separate blog post for me.

What books, blogs, movies, music, concerts, conversations, or workshop/seminars/coaching programs/retreats changed the way you think and feel? The thing I like to remember is I am only one thought away from a new perspective and a few dance moves or dog walk away from a better mood. As much as I like to think about things, I don’t act on them until I feel something. Often times I need a nudge in the form of reading material, listening material, phoning a friend, or giving in to the unbridled enthusiasm of two dogs who think they are going for a w-a-l-k.

How did your relationships change or shift this year? Did you get engaged, married, divorced, have a baby, lose a loved one, start a business, hire a coach, fire someone, rekindle a romance, move to a new neighborhood, or retire from your job? When your circumstances change, usually your relations shift as well.

What health, fitness, food, or spiritual practices did you try, tweak, test out, or keep up this year? Maybe you took up archery or turned into a total foodie, much to your surprise and delight. Maybe you started a hip hop class or became a Buddhist. Maybe you did a 21-day cleanse or tried acupuncture. Or maybe you suffered a debilitating illness that turned your world upside down and forced you to do everything differently. How have these new practices defined you or allowed you to reinvent yourself?

What is the smallest change you made that had the biggest impact? Did you start meditating for 5 minutes in the morning or stop drinking soda? Did you start leaving love notes in your spouse’s lunchbox? Did you take up taekwondo with your kid? Did you give up lattes for Lent and never looked back?

And finally, what were your greatest contributions this year? Maybe you spent a Saturday afternoon being a bell-ringer for the Salvation Army. Maybe you took 3 carloads of career ready clothes to Dressed for Success. Maybe you sponsored a child, saved yourself and your children and left an abusive relationship, or fed some local families during the holidays. Whatever you did, make a note of it. It mattered.

Tomorrow I’ll look at what you want to call in for 2017.  But for today, take your time and tell me about your year in the comments below.

here_to_the_new_year_in_good_cheer

 

 

Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Let’s Review

AdobeStock_129791512.jpeg

This week might be one of my favorite weeks of the year. Not just because I work in education and get this week off, but also because it gives me some breathing space.

I look forward to this time all year to reflect on the lessons learned, experience gained, relationships rekindled or lost, and the unexpected surprises that buoyed my spirits or broke my heart.

Some of these things were in my control and many of them were not. Either way this year  provided a continually expanding arena for me to rearrange my perception of my place in the universe.

In an effort to become more visible and accessible, I became aware of how small I’ve been playing for a long time and how safe it is to do so.  The minute I risked becoming more visible and having an opinion, an agenda, or an attitude, I risked opening myself to judgment, criticism, and haters.

I can live with that. It appears to be the price of admission to a non-apologetic life.

What I can’t live with is being a writer and censoring myself so as not to offend or otherwise ruffle a few feathers. There were many things that had me worked up this year. It was also the year I embarked on an Integrity Cleanse so not writing about them was not possible.

As a writer, my job is to articulate the emotions underneath the issues so you can feel them in a way you may not have, left to your own devices.

I take this job very seriously. And though I don’t get paid to do it or enjoy celebrity status because of it, it’s the most rewarding thing I do. Because of you.

If reading makes us feel less alone in the world, then writing makes us feel more understood.

The greatest satisfaction I get from writing is knowing that some of you are reading this and thinking,”I know exactly what she’s talking about.” Especially when I describe the crazy stuff or make an obscure reference to something you thought you were the only one who remembered or had an experience of.

After a long day at work, I know I can retreat to my writing room and send something out into the world that will come back with a reassuring, “I hear you, honeyWelcome to my world.”

As I begin my week-long year in review, I want to start with saying thank you for being a consistent source of delight in my world and an incentive to keep pushing the envelope, expressing unspoken hopes and fears, and sprinkling a healthy dose of humor on ridiculous situations.

In between dog walks, reading, and savoring some quiet time at home, today I’m working on a few templates I’ll share with you tomorrow.

In the meantime, please share your highlights from 2016 in the comments below or email them to me at penny@wellpower.com.

here_to_the_new_year_in_good_cheer

Save