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.

 

 

 

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.

 

Oh, to “Bee” a SCAD Grad

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“Once a bee, always a bee.”

Not the rally cry heard at most universities focused on football and other achievements in sports or even academics, but a promise made by Paula Wallace, president of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).

I graduated from a college known for producing teachers. Although I knew I was not cut out to be a teacher in the conventional sense, I’ve always been one in the unconventional sense. As an educator and academic advisor, I’m not convinced conventional education serves everyone. Especially the creatively quirky ones.

When I attended my niece’s graduation from SCAD last weekend, I realized why.  Celebrating the achievements of these eloquent writers, devoted designers, illustrious illustrators, innovative architects, visual and sound artists, advertisers, fashion merchandisers, and gamers, I instinctively knew that finding the right educational environment made this moment possible for many of them. Their dreams might not have survived a conventional approach.

Had I known about SCAD when I was considering college, surely I would have gravitated towards it. But at the time, I didn’t know such a place existed.

So I carved out a creative life on my own. Slowly. Over time. Wandering around the desert with my dog.

As Barbara Sher says, “Isolation is the dream killer.

Consequently, I can appreciate the value of a college for creative careers that focuses on creativity, community, and collaboration. I swarm to that like a bee to honey.

In this brave, new world of instant and constant connection, there really is no excuse to hide out as an artist or creative person. There is always someone, somewhere who will “get you“, who will see, understand, and be empowered by your creativity. No matter how old you happen to be.

And while art school might have been or still might be a pipe dream for many of us (because art school is expensive), where there’s a will, there is often a way. Figuring out how to get there – wherever your Promised Land may be – is part of what makes arriving so satisfying.

As the confetti fell from the ceiling and the acrobats twirled overhead, I contemplated the opportunities that await these gifted graduates. I felt inspired not just by these students but by anyone who has the courage to create.

In my world, there is a special place in heaven reserved for those who make life bearable by sharing their art and the beauty of their words, their music, or their creative visions. (There is also a special place for those who make indoor plumbing, air conditioning, and clean, safe drinking water possible.)

You don’t have to go to art school to create something meaningful, beautiful, innovative, or excellent. You don’t have to graduate from any institution to prove your value, your worth, your right to be here, and your need to contribute.

It is something to be proud of, for sure. The connections made and the experience gained from any educational experience will serve you for years to come.

But so will showing up every day not just with your degrees, portfolio, client list, and resume, but with your palpable passion, clear purpose, endless curiosity, and open heart.

Oh, to “bee” a SCAD grad would be an honor, indeed. But so is being all of who you are and not being afraid to bring that to the table over and over again.

I’d love to hear about your “graduation” – from school, from a relationship, from a job, from a place – in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’re Not Getting Older, You’re Getting Better

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It was the early seventies when I first heard a commercial for Loving Care reassure me, “You’re not getting older, you’re getting better.” At the impressionable age of 7 or 8,  I had high hopes of getting older and better.  However, it’s taken me decades to truly appreciate the wisdom of this bit of marketing.

Contrary to popular belief, getting older does not mean stepping off a cliff into an abyss of aches and pains, memory loss and incontinence, age spots and unsightly facial hair. These things may or may not come with the territory, but they definitely don’t define what I’ve come to see as this grace period I’ve grown into.

I went begrudgingly into my forties. I was attached to being relatively young, reasonably attractive, and readily available. I feared crossing the threshold into middle age would catapult me into oblivion. I assumed I’d immediately become invisible, undesirable, and unemployable.

That was not an appealing option.

The better option was to own my throne and step into a Queendom of my own making. The world needs more Kings and Queens, grown up men and women who know who they are, understand what they have to offer, and are not afraid to contribute to the well-being of the world. Instead of depending on the world to define them, who they are defines the world.

We live in a youth-obsessed society. Letting go of the goodies surrounding princes and princesses isn’t easy. We’ve all grieved our glory days. Yet every age has its upsides. Unfortunately, we tend to focus more on the downsides the further on down the road we go.

As founder of the Midlife MacGyver Movement and an enthusiastic advocate of Getting Your Groove Back, I’m here to put a stop to all the trash talk about aging.

As I settle into my fifth decade, I’ve never felt more confident about my ability to move about the planet, share my ideas, open my mind, inhabit my body, learn from those who are different from me, relax into the unknown, and trust my ability to handle whatever happens next.

I’m living the dream, albeit a very different one than I imagined when I was half my age. If someone would have suggested to my younger self I’d be living where I’m living, doing what I’m doing with the people I’m doing it with, I wouldn’t have believed them. And yet if I connect the dots, there’s no doubt I would be here now.

I recently read an article by Ramit Sethi called Why Successful People Take 10 Years to “Succeed Overnight.”  It caught my attention in part because I’ve always joked it’s taken me 40 years to achieve overnight success. And by “success” I mean the way I measure it these days. This, too, is very different than I would have defined it even a few years ago.

Sethi talks about the underappreciated power of sequence and using the domino strategy to take one small step.  Like dominoes, that first small step is followed by a little bit bigger step and so on, creating the momentum that can ultimately move mountains, or at least very large dominoes. He explores the invisible scripts that run and often sabotage our lives, and how the treadmill of disappointment can derail us right when we’re on the verge of a breakthrough.

If you’ve lived long enough, you’ll recognize where you’ve succeeded and where you’ve strayed. And if you’ve learned anything, you’ll know without a doubt, you’re not just getting older. Fortunately for all of us, you’re getting better.

Today I embark on another trip around the sun, chalking up another year to experience. Of the many things I’m grateful for, one is getting to show up in your inbox unannounced and share stuff that catches my fancy.

Thanks for reading and allowing me to do the thing that makes me feel the most alive and the most vulnerable.  Open a vein and let the words pour out.

 

 

 

Riding Lessons

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At some point in my life – after being thrown from a horse or thrown off course –  I remember someone in authority telling me to, “Get right back on that horse!”

If you’ve been thrown from a horse, you know the last thing you want to do or possibly can do given the extent of your injuries, is get right back on that horse.

In theory the immediate do-over counteracts the embarrassing, terrifying, or deeply disappointing dismount and nips the fear of ever trying anything remotely scary again in the bud.

I’ve been doing things lately that have left me with some inexplicable internal injuries. Nothing of the sort that should concern anyone. Just the kind that makes me question why getting right back on that horse is a good thing if I haven’t had any additional riding lessons.

Isn’t the point of any lesson to learn from it? If we don’t exactly know what causes our fall from grace, how can we prevent it from happening in the future?

I’m learning as I work through my Daring Leadership/Leaders Rising course that if you are a leader or a creative person or public persona whose job it is to continually put yourself out there, you are going to fall. You may even fall often.

The trick then is to learn to land so you can rise repeatedly.  As the Zen saying goes, “Fall down seven times, get up eight.”

Last week I did something out of character for a writer. I went on live tv. Unlike a blog post that can live in obscurity forever, what happens on live tv, stays on tv… and the internet and can show up as a random rerun at 1am.

I’m not sure what made me think this “horse” would be a great one to get on after the last dog and pony show. Maybe it was the false sense of security that came from riding this one before.

I’m happy to report there were no disturbing incidents with this metaphoric horse like the ones that happened when I took my actual horses (who where in heat) to the fair when I was in seventh grade.

I did, however, experience the kind of vulnerability hangover that happens when I become visible and happen to get a glimpse of myself and the episode on my Facebook feed. Seeing this makes me recommit to my writing in hopes that I might be able to earn a respectable living without ever being seen in public again.

But here’s the rub. The creative life, the courageous life, the connected life demands that we be seen, heard, and felt in order to be experienced. That means getting right back on that horse. Even if it’s a Shetland pony.

So once again Monday morning or the next challenge/opportunity rolls around for each of us. What do you say, shall we saddle up and ride?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

Break Up with Your Scale

Weighting scales with  measuring tape. Diet concept. 3d

It’s Day 14 of my 21-Day detox and we’re heading into the homestretch. While the daily discipline required to stay on course is intense, I’m loving the confidence that comes with cleaning out my body and mind while connecting deeply with my soul.

There are as many reasons to do a cleanse, detox, or a purification as there are people who do them. Many people, however, do them to lose weight. And if they diligently follow a particular protocol, they usually do.

Unfortunately, unless they continue with the habits put in place during the detox, the results usually aren’t sustainable. Granted, the first couple of days, no one wants to continue after Day 21. But about half way through when they start feeling better, they might consider it.  By the end of it, they may have lost all desire to go back to their pre-detox habits.

I’m all for breaking up with unhealthy habits. Because breaking up is hard to do, my first rule when detoxing is to Become a Badass. I mean this in the best possible way.

You must be kind and compassionate to yourself and others. But you must be ruthless with the terrible tales you tell yourself about your inability to stick with anything for more than a minute.

Cleansing requires considerable courage. Toxins come in many forms – from the foods we eat to the air we breathe to the people we surround ourselves with.

When I detox, I’m no longer able to tolerate toxins the way I did before. Becoming a Badass is an act of bravery. I have to let go of things I no longer need since holding on to them sabotages my health and well-being.

For example, as my first official act of Badassery, I broke up with my scale. To me it was a liar, a terrorist, a tyrant, and a thief.  I decided to no longer accept its feedback as a measure of success or failure during the detox or any time.

I refused to let the scale diminish anything I might innately know about my body, like how it feels, what it needs, how I nourish it, or how I find pleasure in it. I refused to let an ever elusive number impact my day, my mood, my perspective, or my relationship with myself or others.

I have no need to give my power over to something as fickle as a firecracker. A scale can’t measure if I feel lighter, leaner, or more confident. It can’t begin to measure how much clearer my thoughts or complexion are or how much more emotionally available and spiritually connected I am. It cannot imagine the thrill of embodying fully.

The thing is I’ve always possessed the power to expose the scale for what it is. I  trusted it more than myself when I was younger. But not anymore. I trust my body to weigh whatever it wants to when I am nourishing it well and moving it meaningfully.

As a Certified Eating Psychology Coach, I know the damage a scale and what it represents can have on self-worth and body image.  I’ve seen how it contributes to a multitude of eating disorders.

If you have a healthy relationship with your scale, you may not need to break up with it.  Maybe your issue is with something else. Whatever it might be, call it out.

This is necessary in order to follow my Second Rule of Badassery:  Take back your power from whoever or whatever shamed you or made you feel less than all of who you are.

I’ll leave you with these words for advice. “Never ask if anything makes your butt look big. Assume you look marvelous because YOU are marvelous. You’re a Badass, for goodness sake. 🙂

Who or what do you need to detox from this week?  I’d love for you to share if you dare in the comments below. 

Also, if you are interested in learning more about detoxing, I’m starting a new project called The Detox Diaries.  If you’d like to follow along, let me know and I’ll send you an email when the blog is ready.

No Matter What – Day 11

And we’re back for Week 3 of the No Matter What Game.  To find out more about it, see details below the post.

Portrait of an attractive surprised young woman

G: You’re on holiday. You go for a swim in the pool. Later that evening you notice the bottom half of your hair has turned green. What do you do? 🙂

P:  Gillian has been on holiday this past week and I wondered if this happened to her.  She said it happened to her daughter and apparently the antidote is tomato ketchup.

This reminds me of a little incident that happened to Bob just before leaving for Arizona a few years ago.  He has a buzz cut and, curiously enough, when his hair gets too long it starts growing in a pattern that resembles the cut popularized by Julius Caesar.

I insist that he let me cut his hair since it’s my idea of an intimate Patrick Swayze/ Demi Moore making pottery moment like in the movie Ghost.  I’m pretty sure Bob feels like a new recruit entering boot camp saying sayonara to his freedom and any chance of having a good hair day again in his lifetime.

Having said this, he’s pretty trusting that not much can go wrong with the guard on.  And though he asks me every single time whether the guard is on, this day he did not.

His hair was exceptionally long (for him) and I knew we had a problem the moment I took the first swath down the middle of his head.

Wow,” I remarked.  “This seems super short.”

Then came the question, “Do you have the guard on?”

“Interesting that you should ask.  Oddly enough, I do not.  I’m sure i can just blend it in.”

I’m sure you can’t.  But I can wear a cap.  No problem.”

Spoken just like the guy on The Bachelorette who let the girl do some whack job hair cut on him and then acted like he didn’t mind having it broadcast on national television.  (Not that I watch that show, but my niece does and happened to be visiting when that episode was on.  I think I needed so see it to remind me I have the real deal with Bob.)

Had the situation been reversed, like the time I got a few moles removed from my face right before going to a Michael Bublé concert, leaving me with Band-Aids all over my face so when Michael came down from the stage and into the crowd and saw a woman with Band-Aids all over her face he was temporarily shocked into silence, I might have reacted differently.

It’s unsettling when the outside image doesn’t match what we know to be true on the inside.  That happens to me frequently.  I feel all frisky and perky like I’m twenty-something and then I happen to catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and wonder, “Who’s that woman?

But here’s the deal.  I love being the age I am, no matter what I say to the mirror on those days when I haven’t had enough sleep, fun, or fiber and it shows.

I love the wisdom that comes with having been around for a while and understanding how things work, how quickly things can change, and how I can choose to accept things or let them completely freak me out.

I will now answer the question because when Bob was proofreading what I wrote so far and gave me permission to print a story that involved him, he pointed out I hadn’t  answered the question. So, here goes.

If it really upset me, I would find a professional to help me remedy the situation. Of course, being on holiday throws a kink into the mix.  We all know how long it takes to find a hair stylist who gets us and how much longer it takes to trust them to color our hair.

However, in this case, I’d have to trust someone.  Either the person on Wikipedia who posted the ketchup antidote or the stylist at the nearest salon.  I’d go with the stylist.  Unless his or her hair was also green.

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I’d love to hear your comments below.  If you’d like to play along just answer the prompt in your own words and leave them in the comments below or keep them to yourself in a journal.  If you’d like the world’s best coach Gillian to send you your own set of daily prompts, contact her at www.gillianpearce.com.