Showing Up for Your Life

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Today’s Sunday Summer Stretch Series episode is all about showing up.

Yesterday Becca and I went on location to the site of our Tapping Into Your Wellpower retreat to film this week’s episode. Ironically we recorded twenty minutes of video that mysteriously did not show up in my iMovie library when I came home to edit, forcing me to use the only five minutes that did show up.

What I’m noticing as I produce the Sunday Summer Stretch Series is that the right (and often exasperating) experiences show up at the exact right time to illustrate the point I am suggesting you pay attention to.

Clearly, it’s a case of physician, heal thyself.

For example, last week we talked about structure. On the 4th of July – a day that had the potential to throw a lot of people’s structure out the window – I found myself feverishly outlining Sunday Summer Stretch Series topics through September and creating a structure for each episode.

Some might say that should have happened before I even started, but let me assure you, if it would have, you would not have seen Episode 1 until next summer.

Sometimes, I just have to “Leap,” as Les Brown says, “and grow wings on the way down.”

Showing up in Boston in the middle of a blizzard in March to attend Ignite Your Power was such a leap. At that event I invested in a year long coaching program that has transformed the way I show up for my life and the people in it.

It wasn’t that I hadn’t had coaching or heard similar stuff before.  Like you, I’ve  consumed copious amount of content either out of curiosity or fear of missing out.

However, I seldom contributed to these conversations or left comments, even when the information totally rocked my world or changed the way I looked at something. I figured someone else would surely comment and the author wasn’t interested in my opinion.

Until I started creating my own content.  Now I realize feedback and comments are the lifeline of a thriving community.

Writing can be a very solitary pursuit.  Or it can be a call and response feedback loop where I put out the call and you respond or you toss out a question or a comment and I respond.

Showing up changes everything.

You can stay in your head where it’s safe, you’re surrounded by intelligent life forms, and your eccentricities are considered charming.

Or you can risk being seen.

You can risk being exposed for being human, being a bit unorganized, messy, or otherwise imperfect. You can be accused of anything from fashion faux-pax to intentional ignorance of the laws of defensive driving or good grammar.

I used to lament that my superpower was invisibility.  Now I’m determined to turn that around and I am committed to showing up and being visible – imperfections and all.

As Barbara She said, “Isolation is the dream killer.

I used to pride myself on being fiercely independent. Now I know the real honor is to be a part of a community.  If you are reading this, please know I am thrilled to have you as part of mine.  Many of you have been quietly reading for years, never letting out a peep.

Today I’m going to nudge you to just check in and say “I’m here” in the comments below. Or simply like this or share it with someone who might benefit from reading this. Because showing up – even in small ways – matters immensely and I’d love to let you know.

Here the link to today’s episode on Showing Up in the Sunday Summer Stretch Series.

 

 

 

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

happy girl in winter clothes blowing on palms

Let’s let “L” lead the way today in our Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge.

Yes, there are lots of “L” words lobbying for the lucky lesson of the day, but sometimes less is more. (Especially when I had the luxury of listening to visiting artist, JM James, last night instead of laboring over a longer post.)

So no lecturing from this language lover. I’m limiting myself to eleven lyrically liberating love notes or lullabies to lift you up when your spirits start to lag.

  1. Listen before you label.
  2. Lavish with love.
  3. Linger longer.
  4. Laughter lightens the load.
  5. Lose your luggage. (Figuratively, not literally. At least not the lingerie or longjohns!)
  6. Launch. Leap. Land. Repeat.
  7. Do what you like. Like what you do.
  8. Luxuriate in the little things.
  9. Legitimize your leaps of faith.
  10. Lean in. Lap up the light,  levity, and loveliness.
  11. Leave a comment below.

 

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Say What You Need to Say & Do

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It’s Day 27 of the Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge.  Today’s challenge is to say what you need to say to whomever you need to say it to in order to do what you need to do next.  Do you need to move on, get over it, get on with it, set things right, set things in motion, start a revolution, or continue your evolution? Then let’s get to it and go do it.

Saying what you need to say liberates you to do what you need to do.

Granted, conversations of this nature usually take more than 5-15 minutes.  But you can take a small action step and identify which conversations need to take place and with whom, get clear on your talking points, or schedule an appointment with the person in this amount of time.

Because I’m a lover of words, I’m hesitant to say actions speak louder than words in every situation, because the right words at the right time can change a life. However, during our Get Stuff Done 1×31, I’m also about making a case for doing the stuff that moves your life forward. That requires action and, sometimes, doing difficult stuff.

I admit I love to talk my way all around my issues rather than face them head on because doing so would most likely result in a confrontation. I like to avoid these at all costs. However, the greater cost is that the issue continues when I’m perfectly capable of putting the kibosh to it by daring to do what needs to be done, which often starts with saying what I need to say.

As much as I call on my inner badass to get stuff done, harnessing her potential takes some serious practice on my part. That’s why I’ve devoted an entire month to getting stuff done. And by Day 27, I’d like to think we’ve practiced enough that we can confidently carry out today’s challenge.

I’d love to know what you need to say or do and how that will set you free to move on to the fabulousness that awaits.

Share if you dare in the comments below.

And by all means, add this song by John Mayer to your playlist.

Let Your Freak Flag Fly

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A few weekends ago I got to spend an amazing weekend in Austin, Texas, participating in a Gathering of Wayfinders with Martha Beck.

I felt pulled to the event the moment I read about it. That didn’t prevent me from coming up with dozens of reasons why I shouldn’t spend the money, take the time, or trust the call of the wild that insisted I make my way to the Lone Star State.

Fortunately, reason can’t hold  a candle to instinct.

My desire was to find my tribe, those people who “get me” without explanation. As I stepped into a room filled with 500 coaches, I knew I had found them.

Conversations were immediate and intimate and none of us let the other get away with anything. We are, after all, trained to help others see what is hard for them to see in themselves.

We are also trained to know “if you spot it, you got it. Whether it’s something we love or something we loathe, we respond to what we recognize.

We won’t heal the world by fixing it. We fix the world by healing ourselves.

I watched Martha work with person after person.  She took their greatest challenges or frustrations and turned them around to find the places within themselves that were suffering the same fate.

“What should be done about it?” became, “What can I do about it?” The answer was the directive. “Start here.”

The relief of knowing I don’t have to save the world was quickly replaced by the responsibility of saving myself. The best way I know to do this is to let my freak flag fly.

It doesn’t mean putting all my outrageousness on display at all times. But it does mean trying to blend, when I was born to be different, will eventually snuff out the brilliance that begs to shine through at the oddest moments.

Flying your freak flag takes tremendous courage.

None of us want to risk the social disgrace of being outed as unusual, eccentric, strange, weird, cra-cra, or unhinged. But really, who among us isn’t? Who hasn’t had thoughts or experiences that those who know and love us advise to keep to ourselves?

I suppose what happens in Austin should stay in Austin, but what happened to me was so subtle, I could easily have missed it. I connected the dots that led me from one leap of faith to another until I found myself at the JW Marriott, cavorting with my tribe like I knew the way home all along.

The truth is, I did. And knowing that changed everything.

Try as I might to convince myself I’d been lost for years and didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, that was simply not true. I cleverly sprinkled clues throughout my life to remind me where I parked the mother ship. I also managed to find my fellow trackers in the trickiest of terrains. I remembered I had superpowers just in time to activate them. And all the while I’d write and share these stories when I dared.

Then I’d forget everything and go back to blending.

But in Austin,the more I allowed myself to believe impossible things, the more likely they were to happen. The weekend was a series of synchronized connections and coincidences.  If I needed to know something, someone would tell me. If I needed to meet someone, she would show up. If I needed an Uber driver, he was already at my location. All I had to do was to suspend my disbelief, be present, open, and willing to trust.

Okay, that last line may have rolled off your tongue as easily as it flowed out my fingertips, but it’s taken me a lifetime of practice to even begin to master. Being present and open and trusting when I’m in a new city is as hard for me as not trying to blend when I’m in a small town.

But it can be done. Especially in Austin. The music, the mood, the food, the warmth, and the water will work their magic and you’ll have no choice but to surrender to it all. At least that’s what happened to me.

Of course, the real test of any trip is how I return to my regularly scheduled programming. This time instead of pretending nothing had changed, I acted as if everything had changed. When Bob picked me up at the airport, I said, “Hi, honey.  I’m home.” And then I added, “You may want to strap in. It’s going to get interesting.

Bob, being quite familiar with my freak flag, he just laughed and said, “Welcome home. I missed you.

 

 

 

Read It & Leap

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It’s Leap Day!

Following in Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes footsteps, this Leap Year I’ve decided to say yes to any reasonable opportunity to expand and grow, despite its power to terrify and send me into a full blown panic before, during, and after the opportunity.

For me this means doing anything that involves public scrutiny of my less than perfect performances. Whether those performances include speaking, leading, teaching, or seizing my fifteen minutes of fame, the moment I have an audience is the moment I doubt the dazzling idea that came to me in the shower and insisted I share it publicly. It’s the moment my  heart beats faster, my mouth goes dry, and  my voice gets a little shaky.

I’m determined to manage this and train my butterflies to fly in formation. I’ve pondered Eleonor Roosevelt’s suggestion to, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” Because that idea instantly overwhelms me, I’ve amended it to doing one thing every month that scares me.

Because here’s what happens when I get too comfortable.  When I finally do venture out into what I call my evolutionary zone, I have to summon up every ounce of courage and grit from my previous expeditions. If it’s been more than 21 days, I’ve more than likely lost my mojo and have to start all over again.

To save time and energy, I’ve decided to just keep putting myself out there.  Instead of retreating back to the safety of base camp, I plan to keep climbing and set up temporary shelter at higher altitudes.

For example, last Friday I did something nine years in the making. I collaborated with a co-worker to present a session at our Staff Development Day. I know what you’re thinking. No big deal. You may have to do this kind of thing all the time.

The reason it was a big deal to me was because I used to train and speak to groups for a living prior to taking this job.  When I put on my college administrator hat, I put away my stand-up comedienne/trainer hat and hoped the delusions of grandeur would subside.

Watching others do what I am perfectly capable of doing or, worse, witnessing people fail to do what needs to be done, catapulted me out my comfort zone. “Be the change you seek,” means nothing unless I act on it.

For me this meant volunteering to lead the kind of session I would like to attend on Staff Development Day.  It also meant submitting a proposal a year ago to speak at Beyond Rubies, a fabulous women’s conference at Kirkwood Community College, this Thursday and Friday, March 3-4. (If you happen to be in Iowa, please join me Friday morning and learn How to Get Your Groove Back.)

I don’t do this for the money. In fact, there’s usually no compensation involved in these kinds of gigs. The payoff for me is who I become in the process of facing what feels like either a potential public execution (one that ends my career) or an evolutionary experience (one that moves me forward).

Who I become regardless of the outcome is a voracious reader, devouring anything remotely related to my topic. I become incredibly curious and open as I scout for examples to backup my theories. I become bold and daring as I try out new material on anyone who will listen, my dog and houseplants included. And I’m forced to relax and put all the things I’m preaching into practice so I align my words and actions and authentically walk my talk.

When I do that, something remarkable happens.  I become the change other people are seeking and enthusiastically share my secrets. The nerves fall away, the worry about what might come out of my mouth disappears, and I am present, having fun, and connecting with the most amazing people.

I made some rookie mistakes on Friday because it had been awhile since I had presented. I was aware of them, my co-presenter was aware of them, and maybe even my friends in the audience caught them. But no one let on. Everyone acted as if attending the last presentation on a Friday afternoon was a seamless segue into a well-deserved weekend.

This Leap Day you have an opportunity to say “yes” to new beginnings. Or you can say”no” to what needs to end.  Name and claim, tame, or reframe whatever you want to bring into being.  Then do the one thing that’s scariest of all – act on it.

Happy leaping!

I’d love to hear about your leaps in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The One That Got Away

Opportunity wooden sign with a beach on background

Whether it was the missed connection, the dream job, the international man of mystery, the lady in red, the big fish, or the 200+ inch, double drop tine buck**, nothing haunts us quite like the one that got away.

Having lived long enough to have made my share of questionable decisions, the best decision is to have no regrets.

If in the agony and urgency of attempting to make a life-changing decision I can remind myself there is not just one perfect soul mate, one perfect job, or one chance of a lifetime, this is easier.

Granted, these opportunities are rare. But I’ve come to trust that what is meant for me has a curious way of circling back around.

Through a series of outrageous occurrences, I was invited to Miami Beach for a creative writing residency by the founder and creative director of one of the world’s finest greeting card companies. The chance to spend a little time writing cards at the beach escalated into an opportunity to become an integral part of the company.

Anyone who knows me knows being part of a creative team of writers and artists and brilliant minds is a dream come true.  Everything about this opportunity beckoned me.  Exceptional people.  Exceptional place.  Exceptional potential.

Except for the equal and opposite dream I have been quietly crafting in my own back yard.

Before I had a home, a husband to be, and a steady job that supports my writing habit and frequent flights of fancy, I would often imagine in detail what a free-spirited, super successful, single person’s writing life should look like.

Suffice it to say, it looked like what I was now being offered. Living the dream for a few days was intoxicating.

Returning to the reality of my regularly scheduled life was excruciating.  Not because it isn’t alluring in its own right, but because I had been unequivocally altered.  Only those closest to me knew to what extent.

I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t reconcile the gap between achieving what I’ve always wanted professionally and the price it would exact personally.

In getting a glimpse of this parallel life in all its glory, I got that my dreams must evolve as I do.  Like an app on an iPad, I must update them regularly in order to address the glitches I fail to factor in when I originally envision them.

Life-changing decisions are not meant to be easy.  By their very nature they urge us to evaluate everything, question our assumptions, check our egos, inventory what’s important, and listen deeply to our own wisdom.

They are designed to wreak havoc.  They are going to cause some grief since something has got to give and some things have got to go.

Adding to the pressure, they are usually time-sensitive and affect other unsuspecting people.

We remember the one that got away with such angst because he/she/it catapulted us out of our comfort zone and demanded we address our soul’s deeper yearnings.

Whether we act on the invitation, take a leap of faith, and change our current trajectory or not, the real gift is conjuring up the courage to consider doing so.

To feel deeply, love flat out, and shamelessly want what we want reminds we are alive with infinite input into how we live our lives.

Living this way is both exhilarating and exhausting.  And will undoubtedly define us as the one that got away in someone else’s story.

Now go.  Discover creative ways to live your updated, awe-inspiring dream.  Live large in small areas of your life.  Or go big and still go home. Whatever works.  It’s up to you.

And when you get a minute, tell me about it in the comments below.

**I only know about such things because the buck is Bob’s dream.  No animals were harmed in the writing of this blog post.

The Antidote to Overwhelm

I may have bitten off more than I can chew.

I signed up for three different coaching programs that each demand their own Herculean effort to complete and for one month, October, they all overlap.

I certainly wouldn’t have planned it this way had I been in charge of the master plan.  But often times one thing leads to another and several doors fly open at once.

The seemingly innocent challenge I took up in January to write 500 words a day for 30 days set me up for a year of upping the ante. I figured if I could do that, I could do just about anything.  So I started doing stuff.

By showing up, being accountable, and being visible, brave new worlds have opened up to me. When the information is so valuable, so life-changing, so timely, it doesn’t make sense to wait until it all fits nicely into my schedule.  Such is the case with my coaching programs.

And here’s what I’ve discovered about overwhelm.  The antidote to overwhelm is not giving up, but engaging in something whole-heartedly, completely, passionately.  Right now I have to fire on all cylinders in order to keep up.  From what goes into my mouth to what comes out of it, I’m acutely aware of the impact on my energy level.

Although it’s easy to complain, the only thing I really have to do is prioritize. Daily. Hourly.  This means giving up bad tv and carbs and regularly working outside my comfort zone. It means going the extra quarter mile. It’s really not a bad trade considering what I’m getting in return.

It’s a bit paradoxical.  When I have no energy, the last thing I think about is adding more to the mix.  However, if I add an experience that is so compelling, so enticing that I am leaning towards it, it has the ability to energize all areas of my life.

My guess is you’ve had a similar experience.  If not, the next time you feel like throwing in the towel, try picking up a project instead.

Whether it be something as simple as challenging yourself to get more steps each day than the previous day for 7 days in a row or organizing your parent’s love letters or creating a guest blog post, see how your new interest infuses your day with enthusiasm, curiosity, and a sense of adventure.

Be sure to give yourself a time frame that pushes you out of your comfort zone but not over the edge. Knowing that the project will last “x” number of days or weeks adds the urgency that tends to dissipate when there is no due date.

It is also incredibly helpful to have someone to hold you accountable who might also be doing the same thing or has been there, done that, and is willing to coach you through it.  In my coaching programs I have either a team or peer coach to check in with and that has been invaluable.

Certainly there are things we must do for ourselves.  But there are many things we shouldn’t do without support.  We have the collective wisdom of the ages at our fingertips.  Accessing it has never been easier.  As Barbara Sher said, “Isolation is a dream killer.

In a few months I will be launching the online course (Read It & Leap! ) I am creating in one of my coaching programs.  In it I share several secrets about taking small leaps to move you into a life that is the antidote to overwhelm – an engaged, inspired, involved existence.

If you’d like to know more about it, email me with the word Leap! in the subject line and I will be sure to let you know when I roll it out.

In the meantime, I’d love for you to share your antidote to overwhelm in the comments below.