The Learning Curve

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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.

 

 

What Do You Do When Life Gives You Lemons?

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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.

 

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

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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.

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Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Plan “T”

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It’s “T” time in our Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge.

As tempting as it may be to take you back through the Top Ten Tension Tackling Tunes to Keep You Humming through the Holidays for today’s tip, I think I’ll touch on a new thread.

It’s easy to get your tinsel in a tangle as you tick the days off before Christmas. A tirade of to-do‘s that torment your tired and troubled thoughts are not easily tamed or transformed without a little tampering with the terms of their tyrannical hold on you.

So try this.

Toss them out. Terminate those to-do’s that terrorize, torture, or tap you out. Tiptoeing around them or treading lightly only increases their tenacity and tempts you to head to the tequila tasting table before 10am.

Trust yourself to tune in to what wants to happen next, not what you assume must happen next. Try this reframing tack. If you have to do it, then choose to do it. Make it a choice, not a chore.

Also try this.

Take your time. Or as I love to say, “Move at the pace of grace.” Thrashing around to accommodate someone’s tight timetable can make you act abominably.

Transcend the moment of angst, anxiety, or irritation and trade it in for a temporary time-out that tickles your funny bone or tends to your tightening muscles. A quick body scan will tell you where you’ve tucked your tension.  And then maybe you’ll be able to talk someone into teasing those tensions away with a little tender loving care.

I’d be thrilled to have you teach me your favorite “T” tip, tool, or trade secret in the comments below. Or give me a thumbs up if you feel like you are not just surviving but actually thriving this holiday season.

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P.S. Have you ever noticed how whenever clocks are pictured the hands are almost always on the ten and two?  It makes the hands look like a smile.  Just like the arrow in the white space of the Fed Ex logo, now you’ll notice the time on pictures of clocks. Tricky!

Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Day 7 – Plan G

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It’s Day 7 of the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge. The letter “G” governs our goal of getting from here to the New Year in good cheer today.

It’s gift giving season and grounding ourselves in gratitude for the grasp we’ve got on the good life is one of the greatest ways to generate good cheer. It also allows us to gracefully gear up for giving meaningful gifts instead of grappling with feeling guilty for giving generic ones or goodies that gouge our checkbook

From grandiose gestures to gracious greetings to giddy gatherings, “g” words generate a generous amount of good will and garner glowing reviews as opposed to groans, grunts, or grumbles.

Glamorous words like glisten, glow, glance, glimpse, gallop, gasp, gaze, grin, giggle, gamble,  grimace, and gorge give us plenty to gab about. They grant us creative license to glide from goofy to galvanizing to grand depending upon the guy or gal the gift is being groomed for.

Gift giving can be gratifying or grievous, with no guarantees that the gesture won’t be taken for granted. However, you will grow from giving from the garden of your gorgeous self just as I have been graced with the gift of your time  and attention.

Could I goad you into sharing some of your most glorious gift giving experiences in the comments below? Or if you want to gush about our new logo below, that would be groovy. I will gladly gobble up the goodness I glean from getting a glimpse of what’s golden to you. Go for it!

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Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Day 5 – Plan E

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It’s Day 5 of the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge.  “E” hopes to electrify and energize you so you are engaged, entertained, and ultimately enriched by reading.

“E” words encapsulate the experiences I enthusiastically endeavor to share with everyone I encounter. From embody to evolve, I envision programs to help expand, explore, and exude the excitement of enriching lives by fully engaging in them.

What word epitomizes today’s tip? As much as I enjoy verbs like empower, embolden, express, evoke, enliven, and emphasize, for this challenge I’m electing to endorse the idea of emerging. 

Derek Rydall  has an entire education system based on the Law of Emergence.  Derek encourages us to achieve our potential by activating the genius already in us, not looking for it elsewhere.

What’s outside may very well enthrall and entice us.  But when we embrace the existing excellence inside, it enables us to engineer our own brand of brilliance.

So how might this advice come in handy, especially during the holidays?  Well, rather than eating, drinking, or shopping excessively at the first sign of stress, try to ease into the ensuing mental exercise.

Extricate, evacuate, or evict yourself from the situation, if possible. If you can’t escape, breathe slowly and deeply and empty your mind of emotionally charged exchanges. Remind yourself you are equal to the task at hand and able to enjoy what is going on around you as well as within you.  Perhaps an epiphany will enlighten you. (And peace will guide the planet. And love will steer the stars.)

What effect do “e” words have on you?  Please express them in the comments below. I’m not trying to extort you, but there could be a prize in it for you.

Tomorrow we have the letter “F” to look forward to. See you then.

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Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Day 3 – Plan C

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It’s Day 3 of our Here to the New Year in Good Cheer Challenge.

I love the letter “C” because there are so many compelling action verbs beginning with “c” competing for today’s tip. We have create, collaborate, communicate, connect, catalyze, curate, caress, consider, commit, coach, consult, conspire, cook, coax, comfort, cuddle, climb, compose, craft, complete, continue, conquer, concede, compliment, contribute, calibrate, cushion, chill, celebrate, chuckle, change, challenge, chant, choose, captivate….

Since it’s complicated to pick just one action, I decided to go with an idea that will inspire continuous action. That idea is curiosity.

Just as this picture captures this sweet little pup’s curiosity, you, too, can benefit from cocking your head to the side and considering something you’ve never thought of before. Or at least not in this context.

The trouble with getting all cranky and crabby at this time of year is that need your sense of curiosity, wonder, and humor now more than ever. It’s the connective tissue that keeps you compassionate and civil when your instinct may be more combative.

So try this.

Every day from Here to the New Year, write down at least one thing you are curious about. Just thinking about it won’t do. Please write it down somewhere every day.

By the end of the year,  you’ll have 35 conversation starters should you happen to be stuck at the DMV or cousin Carol’s Christmas concert. Instead of complaining, connect with a complete stranger and see if you can curtail any criticism or cynicism by starting a captivating conversation about any of the things you are curious about.

I’d love to hear where your conversations lead in the comments below. And if you haven’t officially registered for the challenge, please do so here so I can send you your free Holiday Survival Guide and enter your name for the goodies I’ll be giving away.

“What could those clever concoctions be?” you ask.

Stay curious and continue to check in daily.  I’ll leave clues that will allow you to connect the Christmas cookie crumbs to some sweet surprises coming soon.

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