Being competitive by nature, I used to suffer these games. But I don’t get rattled the way I was before.
Being competitive by nature, I used to suffer these games. But I don’t get rattled the way I was before.
I took a long look at the papers, random files, old keys to unknown doors, and realized I was facing something more powerful than even the junk gene.
Five examples of books not being books - better, faster, cooler, smaller!
I've always longingly gazed out of an airplane window and wondered what it would be like to dance on the clouds. They are so white and fluffy! I imagine it whenever I visit Skyzone, the place with multiple trampolines that let you bounce to your heart's content.
Yesterday, I DANCED ON THE CLOUDS!
For my birthday, my husband made my wish come true and we went skydiving! I wanted to share with you what I learned from this awesome experience.
I didn't realize that different tandem instructors have different ways of exiting the plane...until my husband went first. My instructor told me to sit on the edge of the plane when we were ready to jump out, place my feet on the step on the plane, stick out my hips and throw out my arms. I repeated these instructions OVER AND OVER because I wanted to get it right. So when my husband and his instructor went first, and they corkscrewed off of the step, I FREAKED! Did he trip and fall? Holy cow! I turned to my tandem instructor and was like, "WHAT THE HECK!?@!?" He laughed and said everyone has their own way to jump. LESSON LEARNED: Don't worry if someone else is doing things differently in business or in their personal life than you are. They (hopefully) know what they are doing! What YOU are doing may be perfect for you. In other words, YOU DO YOU!
You can go your own way!
So many friends told me, "Better you than me!" or "OMG I would never do that!" when I told them I was going skydiving. I had a great conversation with my friends Tara and Eric. They were both like, "Nuh uh, no way!" I respectfully told Eric that climbing Mount Kilimanjaro which he did a few years ago has no appeal for me. And I kindly shared with Tara that taking a Disney cruise which she did a few years ago sounds like hell on Earth to me. We all have something that WE love to do! You honor your authentic self when you find that and pursue it. LESSON LEARNED: Blaze your own trail! If you want to do something (positive) that no one else has done, do it!
Fearless is NOT how I would describe myself! I feel fear for sure. But what I have learned is that some fear is just not right or reasonable. The first time I walked into a FAB Women network meeting, I was afraid. Sure, I'm an extrovert, but I feel weird if I think a group of women all know each other and I am the "intruder"! But last year, I pushed past that fear, walked in, and met the most awesome, dynamic and accepting group of women I have ever met! Resistance wanted me to walk away that day but I walked in....and so many wonderful things have happened! I've met some incredible women. My life has changed!
Resistance also shows up as laziness (I don't wanna get up), distraction (ooh, FaceBook!), and anxiety (I will look stupid). Resistance wants you to call in sick to your own life.
LESSON LEARNED: If you can overcome resistance, face your fear, and deal with it, everything you want is on the other side. I jumped out of an airplane, and for a few fleeting moments, I was completely and utterly free. It was hair-curling, goose pimpling, endorphin gorging magic! I DANCED ON THE CLOUDS! Best of all - I DIDN'T HURL! Jeff, my tandem instructor, was happiest about that fact...LOL. I was just completely happy!
So to wrap up, I want to share this quote that I love from Elizabeth Gilbert from "Big Magic" with her instructions for fear:
And her road-trip rules are for life. She says to fear:
"You're allowed to have a seat, and you're allowed to have a voice. But you are not allowed to have a vote. You're not allowed to touch the road maps, or suggest detours. You're not allowed to fiddle with the temperature. Dude, you're not even allowed to touch the radio. But above all else, you are absolutely forbidden to drive."
"No way!" That was my reaction when my girlfriend told me about the meeting she had the other day.
"So I met a gentleman at this networking event. He seemed really interested in my business so we scheduled time to meet for coffee. He asked me two questions about my business. Then he launched into a long speech about his business, and proceeded to ask me detailed questions about my insurance!"
UGH! I've experienced similar situations. I was once at a networking event and as soon as I told the other person my name, she asked, "Would you like to try my product?" Err....too soon.
How many times has this happened to you? Launching into a sales spiel is similar to telling someone you love them on the first date. It doesn't make sense! And it is too much, too soon.
First, this guy didn't ask my friend if she already has the type of insurance she sells. Maybe she does already and he's wasting his time. Second, he didn't know if she is happy with her insurance coverage. Maybe she does have that type of insurance and would like a change...but he doesn't know if he doesn't ASK! She may have been his ideal client but he blew it by TALKING AT HER and NOT LISTENING!
I love networking, and I think it is one of the best ways to generate sales leads. But it has to come from a normal relationship! You need to KNOW your potential customer! Ask them questions about what THEY want!
I also love networking when I don't know if the other person and I can do business together. Does that sound strange? It shouldn't. What I'm doing is building a real network of people I know who are in different industries. Sure, maybe I can't do business right now with this person, but later on, I might be able to recommend them to someone. And they might recommend me to someone. Right now, we are just two people, talking, getting to know the other person...AS A PERSON!
Getting to know others and having a relationship can also make you a valued connector. I want to know if you are someone with whom I feel comfortable. If I feel you will respond like an interested person who is listening to me, then I will feel like I can recommend you to someone else. If you only talk at me, and not with me, um, no thanks!
Listening to potential clients and really understanding what they are saying goes a long ways. I try to remember this myself! Remember this:
"We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak." ~Epictetus
Flying to California is uncomfortable. It's not just the six hour flight squinched up in coach, however. It's the time difference. It's leaving the comforts of home, leaving my husband for ten days, and leaving the expected behind.
So why did I leave on January 31st to fly to Scott's Valley?
To sharpen my saw.
Habit #7 in Steve Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is called “Sharpen the Saw.” Covey uses the analogy of a woodcutter who is sawing for several days straight and is becoming less and less productive. The process of cutting dulls the blade. So the solution is to periodically sharpen the saw.
I got myself uncomfortable so I could grow. I flew to San Francisco and then drove to Scott's Valley to take a workshop from an amazing woman named Martha Beck. Since starting my business as a writing coach and publisher, I've been working non-stop. It's been great but without a break, my saw was more like a butter knife. Or a flimsy plastic picnic knife.
At 1440 Multiversity, the place in Scott's Valley where the workshop was held, there is a sign that reads...
"This bright, new day...complete with 24 hours of opportunities, choices, and attitudes. A perfectly matched set of 1440 minutes. This unique gift, this one day, cannot be exchanged, replaced or refunded. Handle with care. Make the most of it. There is only 1 to a customer."
We have 1440 opportunities every day to sharpen our proverbial saws. We don't have to fly to California to make this happen (although I do recommend it...LOL) We have decisions we make every day, every minute of every day, to decide if we are moving to the place where we want to be, or if we are moving further away.
During the workshop with Martha Beck called "Navigating the Storm," we poured out our hearts and souls to one another. We chose to share stories that have haunted us for decades in order to live in integrity. All of us in that workshop made a choice to spend our precious minutes giving ourselves a break from "normal" life and giving ourselves a gift of reflection. I feel stronger than ever that I am on the right course for my career and personal life. But without this weekend of reflection, I might have felt I was drifting away from it.
Some other lessons I learned from Scott's Valley came from walking among the redwood trees on the 1440 campus. The woods are breathtakingly beautiful. Down one trail at 1440, you come to a huge tree that is larger than all of the others. This tree is called the Mother Tree because it is the tree that created all of the other redwoods in that area. It is over 15 feet in diameter. The Mother Tree has been on this earth for 1200 years. That means this giant, beautiful tree was standing during the Crusades.
Yet this tree, like all of the other redwoods, came from a tiny cone. The cones of the redwoods are really small compared to other pines that I've seen.
The minutes you have are small, but what you choose to do with them adds up to a huge impact. The redwood cones are tiny, but their trees can live for generations and shade enormous plots of earth. Take the time to sharpen your saw because while you are just one person, your contribution is enormous, and the world needs your sharpness.
HAPPY NEW YEAR! OK, we are 6 days in so you might be thinking I'm a little late to the party! But I like to think of the whole month of January as a time to reflect on what we learned the previous year and what we intend to do in the upcoming year. I do the same thing for my birthday...one day isn't enough! I celebrate a birthday month! LOL
So I was thinking about 2017 and what I learned. It was a really rough start to my year. My beloved father died in the hospital on January 17th. 2016 had been a roller coaster and I thought I had him in a good situation in independent living when he passed.
In going through Dad's stuff, I came across his passport. He had renewed his passport in 2016. Where was he thinking about going? Was he planning to take that trip to South America he'd shared with me? He had always wanted to backpack across Chile but he never did it. His newest passport - which ended up with no stamps - made me pause. And think. And realize - once again but this time with feeling - that LIFE IS SHORT and I should DO IT NOW.
I decided to do the things I was afraid to do before because I was afraid. Or I told myself, "I don't have the money to do that." Or I told myself, "That will be hard." What happened? I listened not to those same old thoughts. I listened to Dad and his blank passport. I decided to take the Martha Beck life coach training I had wanted to take. Was it expensive? You betcha. I did it anyway.
I decided that what I really want to do is to write and help other people write. What happened? I decided to quit my job. Did my job pay well? You betcha. Was I scared? You better believe it. I did it anyway.
This year, I turned everything on its head. I faced my fears. I identified what I wanted. And now, thinking back on how I got here, I realized:
I got here through the Power of Personal Connections.
I joined a networking group where I met my first client. She took a chance on me and we published her book together.
I continued to join networking groups where I can support other entrepreneurs and non-profits. My business is mankind! (And womankind.) I am doing things and supporting groups I LOVE!
I took the life coaching course where I met an amazing group of fellow Wayfinders. I met a number of women (and a couple of men) who are just incredible and like-minded! We are all practicing courage every day. They are AMAZING and they keep me inspired!
Through my personal connections through my networking groups and my life coach training, I have learned, grown, explored, delighted, discovered, and experienced things I never would have on my own. While I quit my corporate job and don't have co-workers, I feel even more supported and encouraged every day by these wonderful people who are part of my tribe.
While I value social media, I now see it as a means to connect daily with the people with whom I have a personal connection. I like to meet the people I network with in person (when possible - Zoom helps too.) Having these relationships is vital to my business, to their business, but more than that...it is vital to my growth as a person. I have changed during 2017 because of the people I lost and the people who I've gained. I hope I have given these wonderful peeps just as much.
My life is a rich tapestry of the family, friendships, biz associates, acquaintances, and mentors! These personal connections are like travel in that they have broadened my horizons. My passport of life gained many new "stamps" in 2017, and I look forward to more in 2018. I think Dad would be proud.
Does anyone use a WiiFit anymore?
In case you're not sure what I'm talking about, the WiiFit from Nintendo has a balance board and is a "fun way to get fit"! I remember when I first got one and I was trying it out. You have to stand on the board as steady as possible...but I didn't realize that at the time! I was too used to doing cardio and jumping all around. The object of the Wii Board was to stay as steady as possible. When I wiggled all around, the reading of the Wii Fit Board told me I was 78 years old! I then figured out that the object of the Wii Board is balance.
How many things in our lives are "off balance?" It can happen all of the time. After hearing lots of advice about how to be all over social media, I have learned to figure out what's most effective for my business and stick to that. How simple! But in the beginning, just as I was out of balance on the Wii Fit Board, I was all over social media. You live and you learn.
It's important for anything worth our time to have purpose and intention. Do identify what matters most to you. Does your heart swell or sink when you think of something? Heart swelling is a good sign that it matters. Then once you've identified these things, live with intention. If cooking makes your heart swell, schedule time to cook a meal. If playing the piano makes you happy, carve out a few minutes each day to play.
You'll figure out your balance - and what matters - when you live with purpose and intention.
Richmond has a river running through it. The waters of the James cut directly through the city. Normally I just appreciate the flowing water from the car while I'm driving over a bridge on my way to somewhere else. Recently I've looked at the water from a new angle.
I started paddle boarding.
I first tried paddle boarding while on vacation a few years ago in the British Virgin Islands. After a few muffed up attempts, I stood on my board and paddled to a dinky sandbar. It was fun and I felt free. The water was flat and still; the crisp blue sky and white clouds were soothing. And that was it for me and paddle boarding - I was hooked.
I contacted Riverside Outfitters here in Richmond last November to try paddle boarding locally. Why November? Well, I bought a Groupon and it was about to expire! The day trip I took last year was amazing. We paddled over class 1 and class 2 rapids. The rapids were small but to this beginner it was a great challenge. Could I stay on my board? Or would I take a dunk in the river?
Things I learned:
I was really nervous that it was going to be too cold. But I wore a full wet-suit and I stayed relatively warm! Lesson: Don't rule out something before you try it by making assumptions.
I learned that to stand up on the board, you need to look at the horizon, and not at your feet, or you will lose your balance. Lesson: Keep your eyes focused on where you want to be and not where you are right now. It will keep you balanced!
And I learned that if you stare at an object, you will hit it, but if you stare in the direction you want to go instead, you will go where you want to go. Lesson: Don't fixate on obstacles, but instead imagine how to get around them. That will help you to succeed.
Also, I was at least 20 years older than all the other people in my group....but I still did great and held my own! Lesson: Never say you are too old to try something. We can learn something new everyday!
Last weekend, I tried paddle boarding again. Yes, I had another Groupon that was expiring! But I also wanted to recreate that first experience. I loved it! Yes, I banged my knees a few times on the board, and of course I fell in a couple of times. But I also saw lots of wildlife - eagles, osprey, loons, herons - and the beautiful leaves changing color on the banks of the James. I enjoyed seeing the sunset reflected in the mirrored windows of the buildings in downtown Richmond. I was really pleased to have challenged myself again and met the challenge.
Ugly yellow door. I drove by my parent’s old house this week as I hadn’t been there in years. In 2016, Dad and I kept meaning to go and knock on the current owner’s door and ask if we could see the place. We kept waiting for him to feel better but he passed away in January 2017 and we never went.
I was shocked to see so many changes. The roof looked weird – they put some kind of metal on it instead of shingles. There was a pile of rocks in the front yard. It wasn’t any artful display. It was just a pile of big gravel rocks.
The worst to me was the front door. Mom and Dad had chosen really gorgeous wooden double-doors for the front entranceway. They had really cool squares carved into them. When I drove by the house this week, one door was missing and there was plywood where it used to be. The other door was painted yellow.
It was ugly to me.
Later, I looked at a website my friend Anne shared with me. It involves the term “wabi-sabi”. There’s a really good restaurant in Petersburg called Wabi Sabi and when we first went to eat there, I looked up the term. It described finding the beauty in the imperfect. But this website dug deeper into the meaning. I’ll share some of it, and the link. The author of the articleshared a picture of a sake cup which is quite attractive but does have a noticeable crack:
“This first one is a common example. You'll see hundreds of sake cups made in a wabi-sabi-esque style. The cup in this photo is one of mine. I chose it because it exemplifies certain aspects of the aesthetic.
First, note the finish. The glaze is patchy and absent at the bottom on the outside. The colors are speckled. Inside you can see further specks of off-white. In short, it is imperfect. The decoration is simple. It relies strongly on texture and material, rather than detailed painting or color.
This is not to say the maker was sloppy (wabi-sabi isn't an excuse for poor craftsmanship), but conditions conspired to make the color and finish "imperfect." The fact it was made in a rustic style doesn't make perfection any less attainable, but it does draw attention to the imperfections and the natural process of its creation.
But arguably more important is the crack on the lip. This happened, despite my best efforts, on the plane trip home to England. It is unavoidable damage, and a visible part of the cup's "story." The dust that once occupied the crack is scattered all over the possessions that were also in my suitcase, and from there has been spread further and further.
Are they still part of the cup? Is the cup the same without them? Wabi-sabi draws attention to these questions as part of the beauty of the object. I was once shown by an antiques collector that it is traditional to fill in such cracks with gold (a technique called kintsugi 金継(きんつ)ぎ), which draws attention to the history of the object as something to be celebrated rather than hidden or repaired.” https://www.tofugu.com/japan/wabi-sabi/
This was interesting to me, but especially in light of seeing my parent’s old house. Because I knew the original story, I was unhappy at seeing the changes. I remembered my parents picking out the style of house, called a Deck House, and traveling to Massachusetts so they could buy the floorplans. I remember helping my Dad as we wired the house. I remember my Mom choosing the furniture and drapes. I remember that the really tall tree in the yard was once our Christmas tree one year because Mom bought it with the root ball and we planted it together after Christmas.
And the pile of rocks and yellow door weren’t part of that.
But I only knew part of the story of the house. When Mom and Dad moved out of it and into a smaller condo to downsize, the house started a new chapter. After changing hands several times, several new chapters have been added to the story. Just because I wasn’t a part of it doesn’t mean the house didn’t continue on.
I’ve been taking life coach training and we studied The Work of Byron Katie. (http://thework.com/en) At the crux of The Work is the question, “Who would you be without your story? The Work is a way to identify and question the thoughts that cause all your suffering.” The thing that is amazing about The Work is that it teaches you to think differently, to examine and ultimately defeat limiting beliefs because they are caused by our own thoughts.
Byron Katie’s The Work can also be described as “loving what is.” And yes, this can be just as difficult as it sounds. In fact, I joke around often with my fellow cadets in life coach training about it. “I’m stuck in traffic, but I’M LOVING WHAT IS, DAMNIT!”
But Byron Katie’s The Work works because you simply cannot argue with reality. For example, if I get angry about people who don’t recycle, I will stay one pissed off individual. Because just because I don’t like the fact that people don’t recycle doesn’t change the fact that some people just flat won’t recycle. You have to “love what is” or you could make yourself insane over whatever it is that ticks you off.
One quote of hers is “Thoughts aren’t personal. They just appear, like raindrops. Would you argue with a raindrop?” How can you argue with reality, in other words. Or "It is what it is."
So to me The Work and wabi sabi are kindred ways of looking at the world. With Byron Katie, once you examine the thoughts that hold you back, you can be a calmer and more peaceful person. With wabi sabi, once you look at the imperfections as part of the story rather than a defect or imperfection, you can also be a calmer and more peaceful person.
But just leaving it there doesn’t work for me. People have challenged Byron Katie and asked, “But if you just accept what is, doesn’t that mean you don’t have any thoughts.” And that’s not completely true…Katie asks people to drop the negative thoughts. That still leaves me feeling antsy, like "I gotta do something."
I’ve come to peace with The Work and with wabi sabi by also embracing something I knew about long before I heard of the other two, and that is the Serenity Prayer. Well, at least the well-know start of the Serenity Prayer:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Whatever your definition of a higher power can fit here. It can be the Source or the Universe. I call it my Big Amigo. Even if you don't believe in a higher power, you can drop the God part and it still works.
I like to apply this along with The Work. I have a negative thought and I deal with it. But if my reality isn’t how I like it, can’t I make some changes? I mean, I can’t change the world but I can change things locally. For example, I can pull a can or bottle out of the trash at work and put it into recycling. (My co-workers can attest to this! LOL) I accept that I cannot change everyone in the world. But I can change things around me.
I can change my thoughts about my parents’ old house. Yes, it does not look like the house I remember from my Mom and Dad’s story. It has been through changes. I did not originally like the yellow door. But could the yellow door be similar to the gold poured into the crack of the broken sake cup? (Is it a coincidence that it is yellow? I laughed when I had that thought.) What story led to its being painted?
I have decided that the house is continuing its own story. But some things will not change. My parents designed and built the house. It was filled with memories and love with the Wells family until the year that Mom and Dad moved out. I can’t change the yellow door. I am wise enough to know I shouldn’t change it (or the current owner might have issues with me – LOL). I accept that the house is beautifully imperfect and exactly how it should be. And I’m loving what is.
SO MANY BOOKS! Every time I walk into a bookstore or browse on Amazon, I am gobsmacked by the sheer number of books that are available! As a reader, the feeling this generates is similar to a candy lover being catapulted into Willy Wonka's factory! As a writer, however, the feeling this can generate is FEAR! My lizard brain starts cranking up the fear mode and I think thoughts like:
"Everything interesting has already been written."
"I wanted to write about that topic but there are already 20 books on that topic from better known writers!"
"Why bother? It will take me forever to write it and then I don't know if it is good enough."
OH LIZARD BRAIN! You are the worst! Does this happen to you, too? How do you tackle the lizard?
By recognizing an abundance mentality and experiencing gratitude.
Abundance mentality shakes off the fear. Well, you can't shake off fear altogether, but you can move it out of the way so it is not an obstacle and is more like an annoying gnat. I recently read "You Are a Badass at Making Money" by Jen Sincero. She gives lots of great examples of people who are successful. One of these people, Sandra, says about becoming successful "I got up and did the work. Thoughts and beliefs are key...I love and approve of myself, I am open to all the good and abundance of the Universe, I know what I'm doing, I deserve success and respect and awards and money and the best the world has to offer, there is plenty of money and prolific prosperity for everyone...especially me..."
Love this! Sandra's thinking with an abundance mentality made her successful with money. This abundance mentality applies to writing too. Realizing that there is prolific prosperity for everyone makes you realize it is OK if others have written about the same subject that you are. SO WHAT. Each of us has our own unique voice, and each book can have its own unique "voice" too. Love and approve of what you are writing and realize that you have value, you deserve to share your message, and there is abundance so that you can share success with other writers.
Gratitude is the act of appreciating the abundance all around you. If you think about how amazing the gifts are in your life, and focus on those, and saying THANK YOU to others and to the Universe for these gifts, it puts you in the abundance mentality. And it has so much power! According to Robin Sharma, "Gratitude is the antidote to fear."
Chuck the fear! Add abundance mentality and gratitude.
"Oh wow! I can't wait to get my message into the world!"
"Thank you Universe for that kickass idea!"
"I will transform my life while writing this book, and lift my voice to share it with others and lift them up, too!"
"I will write SO MANY BOOKS!"
Between books, the Internet, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media, there is a vast ocean of text around us.
Why create more?
Writing is more than just a record of what we want to say to someone else. Words have power.
I know this from quantum physics studies. I know this from studying the work of Byron Katie. I know this from the Martha Beck Light Writers group.
Words are magical.
You can use words to rile someone up or calm them down. You can share your words and they may outlive you. They may outlive generations of people. You as a dead writer can get someone all stirred up even if you no longer physically exist.
I write because I string together thoughts in my head that are just screaming to get out and get themselves heard. They are not content just rollerblading around in my brain. They want light. They want to be seen, even if I am the only person who will ever see them.
My writing has saved me and gotten me through really hard times. When my mother was dying, I kept writing her eulogy in my head. I crafted it, turning the words over like wood on a lathe, removing the rough bits and polishing them. I used that eulogy and I was thankful I thought about the words while she was still alive because it was hard to think after she died because of my grief.
My writing has led me to follow my North Star. I had always been told I was a good writer. But I never used it for expressing my emotion. I just saved it for when I had to write a paper. But once I went through layoffs in 2014, I used writing to help me research how to follow my passion. I asked questions, I wrote down the answers, and I analyzed what I learned. I'd never really used writing for myself in that way. It turned into my first book.
How will you use your magic?