The Stories We Tell

I’ve loved stories for as long as I can remember. Haven’t you? I devoured the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books as soon as I was able to read. I wrote my first poem at age 7 and got chastised regularly by the insane nun who taught 6th grade for “pretending to read those big books” I brought in each week for Silent Sustained Reading (SSR, my favorite hour of school). Once she even picked up the book I was reading, Clan of the Cave Bear, and threw it across the room thereby ruining the only pleasant hour of school I’d have that week. But I was not dismayed.

I would have my stories and NO ONE would take them away from me.

Trouble is, many of the stories I worshiped so loyally were the ones I’d made up myself…about myself. And they’d been written so long ago, before I was able to understand that I/Me was a separate entity from the world around I/Me.

We have a very difficult time grasping this before we’re old enough. We begin to get it around age 4 but don’t have a full understanding until around age 7. Anything that happens around us before that time, we assume has to do with us: Because of us.

My home was not a peaceful one when I was very young. And I was babysat regularly by an alcoholic uncle who was quite troubled. I was loved dearly by many, but that didn’t protect me from the sometimes-harsh world we all live in.

So I gathered a lot of information from my first few years on Earth and wrote some very important stories about it all:

  • You are not safe.
  • You are weak.
  • Life will always hurt you.
  • You are bad.
  • You do not deserve love.
  • Men are stronger and better than you.
These stories were written to make sense out of the senseless.

They were written to protect my Self from pain and unraveling. And for 30+ years, I held onto them like they were my only true salvation. In return for my loyalty, these stories held me in depression, self-doubt and failure…where I’d be most comfortable.

Until somebody, somewhere, at some point finally told me I could re-write them. I didn’t believe them at the time, so deep had I fallen in love with these stories. But I knew the affair had to end, it was slowly killing me. So I tried it.

  • I am safe.
  • I am strong.
  • Life is good to me.
  • I am perfect, whole and complete.
  • I deserve love and pleasure.
  • Men are the same as me, no better, no worse.

Over and over and over again. I had to repeat these new stories to my Self. I STILL have to repeat them, lest I forget. 30+ years of the old version takes more than a few months (or years) to undo.

But little by little, I began to see a change. The young child still hiding inside slowly began to believe these new stories. She started to peek her head out of the darkness and take another look around. She began to feel the safety, protection and love she had been longing for all these decades. And she became willing to share these hidden parts of herself with you.

Are there any stories lurking in your corners that need a good re-write? I’d bet my next paycheck there are. Why not start today? Leave a comment and let’s get to writin’!

The PAP Smear Post

Photo courtesy of scheermed

Maybe it’s all the romance and roses that Valentine’s Day brings but, for whatever reason, lately I’ve been thinking about PAP smears.

I hate the things. So much so that I haven’t had one in over 5 years…well over 5 years. I know, I know. Regular PAPs and mammograms are a girl’s best friend, but I just haven’t been able to bring myself to go get one. Especially when my doctor’s office sits right next to a nail salon. I mean, c’mon Universe.

You might think it’s the humiliation of getting naked and putting your feet in stirrups only to be instructed (every single time) to “scoot down a bit more” so as to expose your most private of parts more completely. But it’s not that.

Nor is it the ice-cold, well-lubed medieval device known as the speculum and the awful clicking sound it makes when it’s served its purpose.

And it’s not the distantly painful feeling in the depths of your gut when that long cotton swab enters your cervix.

It’s not that I had to go back once for a biopsy in which they replace the long cotton swab with a long pair of nail clippers that they use to snip pieces of your cervix off. Nope.

It’s not even about the laser procedure I had to have done immediately after the biopsy results came back. And it’s not that the doctors didn’t know how tolerant I was to sedatives so they didn’t give me enough and I woke up several times during the procedure. This time with my legs strapped tightly to the stirrups and my hands bound in leather straps to the hospital bed. And there was pain. A lot of pain.

None of these are the reason I hate PAP smears so much.

The real reason is: One time I got a result I didn’t like so I said “Fuck it.”

Fear.

While this may be an unpleasant and mildly gruesome example, we all do this in our businesses and lives way too often. One time we get a result we don’t like, whether it’s “No thanks.” or “I don’t want to buy your product.” or “It’s cancer.” and we decide to never do that thing again.

But what do we risk by running away from the unpleasantness of life? What opportunities or new experiences do we turn our back to out of fear? What serious troubles may arise by our not doing those things we are afraid to do?

A whole shitload by my estimations.

So I have made my appointment for the first PAP test I’ve had in many, many years. I’m terrified. And, as I mentioned, there’s a nail salon right next to the doctor’s office making it all-too-tempting to just duck in for a mani/pedi and suck up the “missed appointment fee” once again.

It’s scheduled for next Thursday afternoon. There. Now I’m accountable to you. I’ve put it out there and people will know if I wussed out by how polished my nails look.

Now…onto you, my precious. What can you leave in the comments section to make yourself publicly accountable? What task or chore have you been avoiding for whatever reason and are you ready to just get the shit done already?

Is it worse than getting naked in front of a stranger and putting your feet up in stirrups so they can poke and prod about? If not, I DOUBLE DOG DARE you to do it!

3 Project Obstacles That May Be Holding You Back

Today’s is a guest post by the radiant Michelle Nickolaisen.

As someone who works with solopreneurs & entrepreneurs on getting their projects organized and finished, there’s one scenario I hear on a disturbingly regular basis: the person in question has this amazing idea (their eyes light up when they talk about it, their enthusiasm is infectious) that’ll not only help their clients, but move their business forward & put money in their pocket. But, instead of starting on it, they just…let it sit. Indefinitely.

Obviously, this is not okay with me. Taking an idea and turning it into a concrete reality – or watching someone else do the same – is something I find incredible every time it happens, and the thought of all these amazing product/service/business ideas just sitting around drives me up the wall. And the people I talk to aren’t usually wildly happy about their idea going unused either – but the fact remains that they just can’t seem to get started.

The “project obstacles”, as I call them, to getting started usually fall into one of three categories: psychological reasons, busy-ness, or logistical reasons. Let’s go over each of these & talk about how to knock these obstacles down!

Psychological reasons

Unsurprisingly, this is where a lot of people run into issues. They’re afraid of starting. Or they’re afraid of finishing. They’re afraid of failure or they’re afraid of wild success. Often, without you even realizing it, your lizard brain will manage to attach itself to some ridiculous fear that then sits in the back of your mind, looming over the brilliant idea and dulling it.

The first thing to do if you think this might be an issue is what I call the “two year old technique”, for reasons that will soon become very clear. You can either have a friend help you out with this or journal it out by yourself. Simply sit down and ask yourself (or have your friend ask you) why you haven’t started this yet. To every answer you give, the reply is “Why?”

Example: “Why haven’t you started working on this idea yet?” “Well, I’m not sure how it’d be received.” “Why?” “Because I’ve never done anything like this before.” “Why does that bother you?” “I don’t want to be a laughingstock – what if other people think it’s stupid?” Bingo.

Simple? Yes. Surprisingly effective? Yes.

Oftentimes, just vocalizing (whether out loud or on paper) these fears will make us realize how silly they are. But, you know what, sometimes putting yourself out there is just plain scary. In which case, the antidote is excitement.

This idea must excite you or you wouldn’t want to work on it, right? (If this idea doesn’t excite you, let someone else do it and find one that does. Life is too short not to work on exciting things, y’all.) Figure out why it excites you. Why is the end result going to be so awesome? Is it going to boost your credibility? Or connect you with more people who need what you do? Will it help people while giving them a juicy taste of what it’s like to work with you (thus, bringing you more clients)?

When you actively work on figuring out and articulating why this idea excites you so much, you can use that to motivate you through your fears or worries. Whenever you start to doubt, return to your motivations and remember why you’re working on this idea in the first place.

“I’m too busy” and/or overwhelm

“Busy” is the new black. Especially with solopreneurs & entrepreneurs, we tend to wear our “busy-ness” as a badge – a sign of “Oh, I must be doing well, look how busy I am! See?!”

Now, I’m not saying you aren’t busy. Running a business is hard work. But even the busiest people can and do make room for new projects on a regular basis. If they can do it, so can you.

On the flip side is the fact that often, “busy-ness” is a state of mind and not an actual reality. If you’re booking more appointments than you really should be, not leaving any breathing room for anything else, or working on “busy work” (you know – things that make you feel like you got something done but do jack-all for real-world results), then this might be the case with you. Raise your prices. Re-think how many appointments you can realistically do per week – set a limit and then stick to it. Keep track of what you actually do on a day-to-day basis to figure out what you’re doing for busy work or what’s sucking up your time – social media is important, but spending 3 hours a day on Facebook or Twitter isn’t.

Overwhelm is the evil twin of busy-ness. But if busy-ness is often a state of mind, overwhelm always is – I like to say that if anxiety is caused by living in the future, overwhelm is caused by living in the future of your project. When you’re overwhelmed, you’re worrying about things that aren’t even a factor in reality yet. (More on overwhelm, from the fabulous Danielle LaPorte.)

Instead of being overwhelmed, be prepared. Know what needs to happen in the future – have a plan – but instead of thinking about what you’re going to do in the future, think about what you’re going to do right now and what you’re going to do next. Period.

Logistical reasons

You’d be surprised, but more often than not, sitting on an idea has much more to do with the first two obstacles than with this one. You’d think that logistical reasons would be at the top, but I often find after talking with someone, that they’re actually at the bottom.

However, when they do come up, these obstacles can still be a big pain in the ass. And so, here’s three ways to nip ’em in the bud:

  • Bring the idea down to earth. Here’s what I mean by that: figure out what the essence of the idea is, and then find a way to recreate that essence on a smaller scale. For example, let’s say you have this some-day vision of putting on a health & wellness conference. People will come to speak about exercise, food, nutrition, and all sorts of other yummy topics. Instead of just letting it sit on the “someday” backburner, you can turn that idea into a webinar series with guest speakers, and sell the finished recordings as a bundle. Or, if you want to put on a retreat, do a digital one first – you’d be surprised what you can do with technology nowadays. At an event that I co-hosted, we had a yoga teacher lead everyone through a live session using streaming video. Think about how you can honor the core of this idea with the tools + resources you have on hand right now.
  • Brain clean & pick step #1. (I say “brain clean” instead of “brain dump”, because that just sounds so undignified. You know it’s true.) Write down everything you can think of that you’ll need to do to complete this idea. Every single step. Often, we don’t know where to start with our ideas, but that’s because we haven’t really thought about it. Once you have your task list, a starting point will usually stand out – one thing that has to come before everything else. No single starting point stands out? Then start anywhere. All too often, we paralyze ourselves with choice when it’s not the choice that matters, it’s taking action.
  • If you don’t know where to start, ask someone who does. Find someone who’s done something similar to what you want to do, and ask them how they got started. Of course, you’ll want to be respectful of their time and energy – and requesting a lengthy, detailed email isn’t. Say something like “I really like what you did with (project x). I’m working on something similar and I’m having a hard time getting started. Can you tell me what you did first to kick things off?” Don’t ask for an outline of everything they did, just what they did first. People are often perfectly willing to share useful tips.

And there you have it! The three main project obstacles that pop up, and how you can defeat them.

So…tell me now; what idea have you been sitting on? And what are you going to do today to start turning it into a reality?
[message type = “custom”]Today’s guest post was written by the awesomely radiant Michelle Nickolaisen from Let’s Radiate. Michelle is a project wrangler for hire. Whether you’re looking for someone to take the reins on your project, or need someone to coach you through the process, Michelle’s gift for productivity, organization and systems is the answer you’ve been seeking. Contact her today to get started.[/message]

Hiding Abundance

Let’s face it, in this land of plenty, Americans more than anyone else love to whine about their lack of abundance. Yes, I know that times are tough but we still have it better than the vast majority of the world’s population and yet we are so fixated on chasing the abundance we feel is missing in our lives.

So what is this elusive “abundance” anyway?

In my opinion, the reason the so-called “law of attraction,” vision boards, manifestation meditation, visualization hypnosis and all the other tricks and magic spells so often fail is because of a basic misunderstanding of abundance.

The other day I cleared my whiteboard and began to list every person I needed to get in contact with either for business or just to ‘catch up.’ I’ve been remiss in keeping up with friends the last couple months and thought this list might help.

Names kept coming to me and the list kept getting longer and longer until it nearly filled up the board. My first thought upon looking at the list? “Fuck it, I’m only one person. How can I be expected to do all this??”

Whine, whine, whine.

Luckily that first thought only lasted a split second. Immediately after, my thoughts were shifted to what that list really illustrated: I am surrounded by SO many amazing, creative, generous, kind, caring, compassionate and otherwise awesome people.

I have an abundance of awesomes in my life!

So I decided to make some more lists. As it turns out, I also have an abundance of the following things:

  • T shirts
  • Jeans
  • Knee socks in cool colors
  • Foods that combine nuts and chocolate
  • Books on the occult
  • Crystals
  • Magic markers
  • Pillows
  • Feathers found during long walks in the woods
  • Special stones given to me by even more special children (not sure why but children, even ones I don’t know, are often compelled to give me rocks and stones…a magical gift, indeed)
  • Letters and notes given to me by loved ones
  • Memorabilia from special times (dinner napkins, theater tickets, etc.)
  • Photos of my children
  • Nail polish
  • Emails!
  • Sources of inspiration
  • Happy memories
  • Sad memories
  • Recipes
  • Chipmunks and squirrels (outside my window)
  • Dreams
  • Fantasies
  • Hope

It is impossible to make abundance lists without letting some gratitude sneak in. And therein lies the secret to “the secret.”

Abundance is all around us. We merely need to turn our attention to it. Become aware of it. And suddenly the feeling of “need” is replaced by satisfaction.

Once we are able to come from this space of awareness and gratitude, we make room for all the other stuff the Universe wants us to have….like a new really special rock from an angel disguised as a child.

Start making a list or two and you’ll see what I mean. What do you have in abundance in your life? Let us know in the comments and inspire us all!

Living in the Land of Bad Beats

As some of you may already know, I’m just getting back on my feet after a pretty intense bout with depression. Thanks to friends/angels, massive doses of Vitamin D3 and not just a little help from above, I’m back in a safe place and happy to be alive.

It’s impossible to take a holiday basking in the cold darkness of depression without coming back with some reflections and lessons. And all I’ve been able to think about these past few days is how skewed our perception of reality can be. Let me explain.

There is a tragic and not-so-uncommon anomaly in poker known as the “Bad Beat.”  As a one-time professional poker player, I’m all too familiar with it.

Picture this. You are dealt pocket aces and make a big bet before the flop. The donk sitting next to you calls with pocket twos. The flop comes 9, 10, J. Your odds of winning are overwhelming. You go all in. The donk calls, knowing he might already be drawing dead, knowing there are only two cards in the deck that can give him any hope of taking this hand, knowing there are only two more community cards to be dealt. But he calls. And he gets a two on the river to take you out.

This is a bad beat.

When I was the victim of one of these hands, it would mean the end of my playing. Not just for the night, but for days and sometimes weeks. I would have to cleanse myself of the experience and it’s not something that’s ever come easy for me. My habit is to hold onto the misery of that bad beat for as long as possible. Without active intervention on my part, I’d never get over it!

I believe my difficulty in shaking these moments off is a key lesson for me…and possibly for you, too.

The average weekly-poker-night-with-the-guys guy loves nothing more than to sit around and rehash his worst bad beats. I’ve seen people exchange stories of bad beats for hours like they were war wounds. Each one trying to top the other with the stakes lost and odds overcome to their ultimate demise.

I have never, ever, not once seen a group of poker players exchange stories of their good beats. The ones where they called on a whim with pocket twos and took down those aces. The ones where they were terribly short-stacked and went all-in as a last hope of staying in the tourney only to get lucky six more times and end up winning the game. No. We rarely ever talk about those hands.

Why? Because our perception of reality is disfigured, imbalanced. Most of us at some point in our early childhood got the message that we, in some way, “weren’t good enough.” We carry that story with us like a security blanket. Its truth becomes engrained in our psyche and our egoic minds believe that the only way we’ll be “safe” is if we continue to be “not good enough.” We only seek out and acknowledge evidence that supports this “truth” and ignore all the rest.

In my observations, the greatest poker players in the world have a firm rule to never discuss their bad beats. They want to remain in the moment, in the true reality of the situation, and not let the past affect their present. They strive for balance and train their minds to see reality for what it is.

They know that living in the land of bad beats means a life of regret and mediocrity.

The truth is, if I’m sitting at a table for four hours playing poker, I’ll play hundreds of hands and get lucky dozens of times before that bad beat ever comes. A truly balanced mind can see this for what it is and simply shrug off the bad beat as something that sometimes happens to everyone.

But our egos want to wrap around those few seconds and disregard the other countless hours lived. It wants to hold onto that proof that we are not good enough so that it can remain in a place of familiarity and safety.

The paradox is that the very parts of ourselves which can be the most self-destructive are also the parts working the hardest to keep us safe. Unless, that is, we take an active role in moving towards a state of balance and presence.

Our true freedom lies in that choice.

We are all seeking something. Abundance, prosperity, love, friendship, success, or even just a little luck. But are you certain these things do not already surround you?  Could you simply be missing it all by living in the land of bad beats?

And are you ready to join me in working towards a more balanced perception of reality where we see clearly and feel nothing but gratitude for all that we are given?

I want this to be the start of an ongoing conversation about this rather complex topic. I’d love it if you shared your thoughts, too.

Multitasking vs. Crack

[message type=”custom”]Originally published on Natural Write, this post (with some very minor changes) is being republished here at the request of my very dear friend and desi sister, Jen.[/message]

I read or heard about a study recently which showed that multitasking does more damage to brain function than smoking cocaine. I cannot seem to find that study to cite, probably because I was talking on the phone while searching Google, but I’ve no doubt it’s true.

Multitasking became a household word during the 1980s when personal computers became commonplace. These new PCs ran on operating systems that were designed to run more than one program at a time, to multitask.

Suddenly everyone thought it’d be cool to be a multitasker too.

I can admit it. I was once a project manager who prided herself on her leet multitasking skills. Don’t judge, it was the 90s. You weren’t cool unless you were snorting cocaine whilst getting a manicure and making a conference call to your stock broker to tell him what’s what.

Cool? Not-so-much. The truth is, multitasking not only impairs your brain function at the time of said tasks, it can cause permanent and long term difficulty in concentration and learning.

It is reported that our children are such talented multitaskers they are able to consume 8 1/2 hours of media time in 6 1/2 hours of actual media usage. Perhaps the ADD epidemic’s answer lies not in amphetamines but in media/multitasking control.

There is no longer any doubt that humans are not wired for multitasking. When we attempt it, each task takes us longer to do and is performed with much less accuracy.

It’s one thing to send an email to the wrong recipient because you were also watching the evening news. It’s quite another thing to drive your SUV into a school bus because you were also sending a text message.

Today, as I adjust to life as a solopreneur, I have come to realize that there is no better approach to any task than sheer focus.

If not for focus and actively preventing myself from attempting anything remotely resembling multitasking, I would have no business of which to speak.

Are you an avid multitasker? What do you do to unwind and help you focus?

Darkest Before the Dawn

Life’s been crazy lately. I recently returned from a six-week stint in beautiful LA. My daughter came out for a couple weeks to stay with me while I was there. We had an amazing time. Every single second we were together was pure bliss. Every. Single. Second.

Then came time for her to return to college and me to my desk here in snowy Michigan. We cried, a lot, at the moment of our separation. Actually, I’m still crying even as I write this.

It’s been 25 days since I’ve been back. 25 days of battling the dark beast known as Depression. 25 days of going back on the medications I’d swore I’d never take again. 25 days of no productivity, missed opportunities and maybe even a friend or two who’ve given up on trying to stay in contact.

The holidays always get me but this year was much worse than most. The darkness wrapped its arms around me, whispering lies of slothful temptation into my ear. It pulled me down into its abyss and kept me hostage there, aided by the very pharmaceuticals intended to fight it.

The good news is, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, even through the tears. The darkness is passing and its grip weakening. I’m not going to lie, I’ve been very frightened. I thought I was rid of this scourge. I thought I was “cured.” Or maybe I just thought I was “better than that now.” For it to return with such vengeance took me completely off guard.

But it’s okay. I’ve made (or am making) peace with it. And I know that it’s a sign my life needs some major fucking restructuring in order to keep that darkness at bay. I’m now gratefully gathering the strength I’ll need to make those changes.

If you’ve been listening to the same dark lies as I this holiday season, please take these lessons to heart:

  • The darkness cannot sustain itself forever. No matter what it tells you, it WILL go away. This too SHALL pass.
  • Nothing is ever so bad that you cannot tolerate it for one more day. Tomorrow will come and bring with it renewed hope. Please, don’t leave before it gets here.
  • There is nothing wrong with you other than the way you feel. Despite what your feelings tell you, you are perfect, whole and complete right now in this moment.

In just 3 days it will be a new year. I look forward to taking the lessons learned in 2011 with me through this next cycle. And I look forward to sharing it all with you.

 

 

Perfect People Finder – Exercise #2

Our perfect people are the clients and customers who will transform our business from a source of struggle and woe to a source of nourishment and spiritual enrichment. They are the ones who will have us running to our computers each morning instead of dragging our procrastinating feet.

They are not our target market or ideal demographic. They represent a new way of identifying our audience and are the reason so many of us have chosen the path we have.

In the previous perfect people finder exercise we talked about getting brutally honest with yourself about the types of people who you are instantly attracted to or turned off by. These are vital clues as to who your perfect people are.

Today we’re going to go a little bit deeper and figure out who really gets access to the Real You…the You that’s about to transform people’s lives.

Mentors

Hopefully you have met one or two special people in your life so far who influenced you in some positive way. It may have been a teacher, a family member, a spiritual leader, a sibling or that homeless guy you passed every day on the way to school. Angels come in many disguises.

Whether you have one such person or a dozen, take time to bring each of them back into the moment. Sit with their memory and remember how you felt when you were around them. Next, try to identify which traits endeared this person to you.

Why did you let them close to you?

Why did you open up to them?

What was it about them that made you receptive to the teachings they had to offer?

Instead of figuring out which age range, gender or socio-economic group make up your ideal market, spend some time meditating on this exercise. Begin to get crystal clear about who touches your soul and opens your mind.

Because if you can build your business around these people, your life will be richer than you have ever imagined.

Coming soon…how to turn this information into a Perfect People Magnet (using only your words). Sign up in the big yellow box on the right so you don’t miss it.

Impact Assessment! Subconscious Sales Page Flags

Back by popular demand, today’s Impact Assessment discusses how a lack of specificity can create a subconscious trigger for people to NOT buy from you…even if what you’re selling is the best thing since Nutter Butters!

Watch the video, then stay tuned because this is going to be a week that may very well turn your business around. Let’s get to the bottom of what’s not working for you so you can start bringing IN money this holiday season instead of just watching it fly out the door.

 

 
If you haven’t already subscribed, this would be the week to do it! Plus, it’s the only way to get your own free Impact Assessment. Sign up in the big yellow box on the right, mmk?

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think of the video. Do you want to see more of these? Are there any specific points I discussed here that resonate with you?