Here’s what I know: you’ll take that borrowed courage and like the results so much that you will start creating your own. Yeah, this is sounding very Wizard of Oz, but it’s true. It was in you the whole time, but maybe you buried the courage with fear. We all have some digging to do.
Ask for what you need and want. Then do whatever it takes to make that happen. You *can* be the dreamer and the doer. You can fix what’s broken.
So, hunters, are you on the path that works for you? Have you picked your targets? Have you mapped your journey, loaded your quiver, selected the right arrows, sharpened your aim? Just know that I’m here to help you do that if you need a brave hunter by your side.
When I was a kid suffering from anxiety, my habits included nail biting, hair chewing, plucking the hair from my eyebrows, and, worst of all, obsessive compulsive thoughts about my loved ones dying, which is how I would go to sleep at night. My “nightmares” were when I was conscious, lying under the covers in the dark when my brain “took over” offering up a a movie-style scene of…you name it — car crashes, fires, heart attacks, kidnappings and so on.
After a shit ton of self growth the last two decades through mostly reading and writing, but also cognitive behavioral therapy, I have been able to get rid of those nasty habits and rewire my brain. I no longer think bad thoughts before I go to sleep and if I catch an anxious thought worming through my brain, I call it out and stop it or reframe it. Yes, it’s okay to talk to yourself. If I see a catch my fingernail in my mouth, I know it’s usually a sign that I’m nervous or anxious about something and so I can tell myself to calm down. More gentle self talk.
As an adult, I have a ton of other habits that are both good (exercising daily) and bad (leaving half-drank coffee mugs around the house) and as someone who is into psychology and neuroscience, I’m fascinated with HOW we can change these habits and form new and better ones.
In my second episode of ONE BOW MANY ARROWS, I’ve plucked 5 Golden Arrows from Gretchen Rubin’s stellar book, “Better than Before” about just that: understanding self to break bad habits and create good ones. I read it on the flight to and from NYC in 2015 and I’m thrilled to share it with you. Yes, Aristotle’s quote, “Quality is not an act, it is a habit” is the truth. In business, if quality is not a habit, it means customer service and quality assurance isn’t staying on course. We have to put in the effort EVERY DAY and show up to want the change and do the hard work to make it happen.
WHAT?! OMG, I’m thrilled my podcast is now available on iTunes so if you want to give it a try, click on the iTunes badge below. I’d love your feedback as well as ideas for things you’d like for me to discuss in future episodes. I will tell you next week’s book will be about personality types! LOVE. Also a quick note about the ‘explicit’ rank on my podcast. After listening to many, many podcasts, I found that ones that let people speak freely, Like Elizabeth Gilbert and Danielle Laporte, includes some cursing and therefore, get the explicit title. My mom advised me that that could turn some listeners off – and readers here – but unfortunately, that isn’t dissuading me from using the words I (or my guests) feel compelled to use. I’ll try not to use them often, but just know whatever is said is coming from the moment, not a script. Staying real and vulnerable to what comes is what it’s about for me. I don’t get raunchy because that’s not my style, but “hell” and “damn” don’t even seem like curse words to me. My personal stories might be for adult audiences, too, so I’d rather be ‘safe’ and use the label than not, you know? In my personal life I like curse words because they say what I’m feeling. I don’t have to tip toe around the issue. It’s direct. I’m direct.
Cool? Awesome. I think you’re going to LOVE these books I’m reviewing in the first 12 episodes, so let me know if I’m right about that!
In other THANK GOD IT’S ABOUT TIME NEWS, I’m also pretty pumped that I’m writing again, which is really editing a story I wrote four years ago, my first mystery, Away. It was supposed to be a novel, but I’m reworking is as a novella to STAY ON TARGET and bring it to the world in a way that’s realistic for me. As I learned in Gretchen’s book, I’m an “opener” which means I get way more excited about new things/ideas/products so finishing can be a problem for me. As I discuss in my podcast, my partner is a finisher, so he ensures we don’t waste food, whereas, I’m the one that will have four bags of crackers open. I’m forcing myself to finish things I’ve started, in part thanks to my mother Patricia, who told me I would be happier if I finished these stories. So…yes to KNOWING YOURSELF and getting it done.
I encourage you to take this time to figure out what that looks like for you….finishing something you are passionate about and making a plan for it.
For you Bow & Arrows marketers, makers and entrepreneurs out there, my latest video includes some of my favorite digital tools for sharing your content with the world. If you’d like to schedule a strategy session with me, we can do a live video session, so use the contact form to book it. These “Wake Up to Wonder” PJ Strategy Sessions are just $50 in September and October so let me know if you are interested! I’m interested in gaining some challenging creative work, so let’s see if we can help each other to grow.
Lastly, in our Bow & Arrows vocabulary, I’d like to introduce, “The Voice in the Trees”, which is to be aware of things others may say to keep you off track or tell you that you don’t need to change or try to diminish your dreams. (You don’t need to lose weight. You should be happy where you are. Just be thankful you have a job. This is your lot in life. You get the idea. While we do need to listen to others, it’s important to be able to discern the good advice from the bad and the intention behind it.
“The greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.”
― Martha Washington
The first First Lady is talking about attitude. It’s so easy to be miserable when life isn’t going our way – and happy when things are. But being cool when things get sticky…that’s the real test. I remember when I was especially stressed out at my ad agency back in my late 20s when I read, “I shall not let circumstances dictate my joy.” I tried really hard from then on to not let a bad situation define my mood and spoil the day. It is easy? Hell, no. But it DOES get easier with practice.
So what about other traits we need as the CEO of Our One Unique Life? As makers and entrepreneurs and managers, what do we need to possess to carry out our goals? In this week’s Bow & Arrows video, I share 6 traits of a great hunter – you hold the bow, friends, and the arrows our our choices, including how we react to whatever circumstance comes our way. By changing our behavior from the inside out, we can make these habits stick.
I look forward to seeing some of you next week for my next workshop, Hitting the Brand Bullseye. See the full list of workshops here and if you are seeking some branding help, message me to discuss. I’m already seeing some really cool things come out of this program, so I’m thrilled we’re creating this tribe to aim for greatness together.
Vita allegre. Joyful living. His eyes danced with excitement and awe and insatiable curiousity. Not just for America. For life. I ached to feel that again. This is why I gave him a ride. This is why I rented my late husband’s studio for scraps. I hoped some of da Vinci’s joy would rub off on me, though I had meant it more in the metaphysical sense than the physical, but that wouldn’t be entirely bad, either. — Ramona in Dating da Vinci
In light of my re-launch of Dating da Vinci, (available now on Amazon) my novel about a woman searching for la dolce vita – the sweet life – two years after her husband dies, I’d like to write a few posts this summer on the topic of Vita Allegre. My job as a novelist is to create the journey for each of my characters, taking them through the highs and lows. In real life, we’re each responsible for our own story and handling those lows is what helps us grow. We can be our own worst enemies when it comes to our happiness. Let’s start with a few lies we’ve all told ourselves, shall we?
1. I don’t deserve X, Y, Z. We get to a certain point and stop believing that our own needs matter. Often this coincides with a baby emerging from our vajayjays or a certain number of candles on your cake. Yes, you deserve your hobbies, interests, me-time, companionship, love, great sex, good friends, fulfilling work, big and little adventure and whatever else strikes your fancy if it’s good for you. The bottom line: you deserve happiness and you don’t have to stay stuck.
2. My body can’t be changed. Not to pick on moms here, but often we believe after we’ve had children that our bodies are just done. While our shape changes after babies and with age, believing this lie could keep us in a cycle of unhealthy choices as time goes on. Look, we’re smart women and we need to pass on not just a healthy body image but also the importance of a healthy lifestyle and diet. Each of our bodies are unique and only 8% of women have the bodies we see in magazines so we need to strive for our own reality, not some fantasy. What can be changed and what can’t? I could reshape my body and get rid of fat and build lean muscle and still be realistic that I would never have a J Lo butt. Since I started focusing on my health two years ago, I’ve lost 25 pounds and have kept it off for more than a year. We need to be patient with ourselves and not rely on a quick fix. My aim was to be healthy and fit, not skinny. I’m certainly not shaming anyone who doesn’t want to live a certain way – it’s our choice, period as long as we realize we are making a choice. Working out regularly is good for our minds, too. I’m less anxious and worried and generally feel more positive, especially when I was going through tough times. Do you want to live longer? The wellness blog at NY Times sheds light on longevity and exercise. And if you need a documentary to prove why this lie is a load of crap, watch the incredible transformations featured in Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. What are your misperceptions about your health? Are you willing to put in the work to make it happen? Your body may not look exactly like it did in years’ past, but it can be healthier and in some cases, the best it’s ever been.
3. Believing other people’s story about you (and giving them the power). Perception is a funny thing. I read a great article last year that talked about everyone’s “story” about you being different because they see you through their own lens. Your mom has one story. Your mate another. Your children, another one still. Work, ditto. Trying to keep up with all of those “labels” and expectations on fitting into other people’s stories can make us lose our own identity. Get Real truth here: you only matter to most people based on what you do for them and of course secondarily how you make them feel. I know that sucks, but the GOOD NEWS is that you matter a ton to a smaller set of people who will love you just the way you are – weird quirks and all. What matters is who you know yourself to be. Self-awareness is crucial. Say yes when you mean “hell, yes!” and no when you sincerely don’t want whatever is being proposed. Put the power of your life back into your hands. Don’t let others make your life choices for you. I was very open to others’ advice before and after my divorce (especially the doctors, therapists and close friends) but be careful because friends and family may work more to “convince” you than listen and understand you. That makes sense because they aren’t you. They aren’t in your head. Yes, they want “the best” for you but sometimes the best means making hard choices and letting go. They may then switch to blame and finding out what’s “wrong” with you. Believe me, I’ve heard it all and while I took some of it to heart, the rest was best left in the “good intentions” waste basket. Another biggie: Be aware of your own self-limiting beliefs. Stop shoulding all over yourself and stop letting others should over you, too.
Whatdo you want from life? Drop the labels and dig in.
4. My happiness is reliant on good circumstances (or others). When I was 28 and started an advertising agency with a friend, I found the quote, “I shall not let circumstances dictate my joy.” That’s been my mantra whenever anything shitty happens in my life. Every struggle is an opportunity to grow and personally I set a time limit on feeling sorry for myself. I also have go-to “kick in the pants” confidantes to help me see the light. It may seem counterintuitive to believe we can feel that life is still ultimately good when we are undergoing hard times (divorce, disease, grief, et al) but we can. It’s not about shrugging our shoulders and putting up with the shit, either. In fact, it’s more important than ever to be honest about what’s happening (Get Real) and see what we need to do about it. (If anything.) Divorce and the aftermath is by far the hardest thing I’ve gone through in life, yet I was still ultimately a happy, positive person through the tough times even though I was very unhappy about the circumstance. That’s the difference. Happiness is a slippery slope if you are relying on what’s happening to you versus who you are. At your core, are you happy, positive and hopeful? If not, why not? I also like the quote, “don’t put your happiness in someone else’s pocket.”
5. Love is enough. It’s a huge cliche that “love is all you need” and it’s a big lie we as women start believing when we are tiny tots in pink tutus watching Disney movies. Sure, I think love in all its forms is why we’re here but it should not be idealized or glamorized and it certainly doesn’t come easy. Yes, this is coming from someone who has a romantic sub-plot in every novel, but even in my stories it’s not roses and unicorns and hot sex and happily ever after. It’s “Wow, relationships are hard and life is tough but I choose you to share my journey with.”
And, parenting? Whew. I love my kiddos to pieces but parenting them is incredibly difficult because they are human beings separate from me, not puppets on a string. I can guide them but not control them. I have to let them make mistakes and yet consistently monitor what’s happening and when I need to step in. It’s exhausting, isn’t it? (And to make the point in #4, if my happiness was reliant on their attitudes of the day, I’d be in a world of hurt.)
Regarding romantic love, I recently discovered author Mark Manson and he does a nice job of discussing the realities of relationships and self-development. In this article, “Love is Not Enough,” his #1 point is “Love does not equal compatibility. Just because you fall in love with someone doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a good partner for you to be with over the long term. Love is an emotional process; compatibility is a logical process. And the two don’t bleed into one another very well.” In another article he defines how important chemistry and compatibility are for a solid relationship. Unfortunately, loving and caring for someone is not enough. Making worlds (dreams, goals, ambitions, lifestyle) mesh requires practical solutions, not wishful thinking. If you believe “love is the solution” ask yourself if that really solves the problem or if it’s a band-aid that lets you cover up what’s really going on because it’s painful and will require work. You don’t need someone else to complete you, but to complement you. It has to start with self-love.
In Dating da Vinci, Ramona’s inner thorn was not only her grief about losing her husband, but giving herself permission to be happy and find love again. Finally she’s ready to remove those thorns. For some deep reading on this subject, I recommend The Untethered Souland particularly his analogy on removing inner thorns instead of creating a life to work around the thorn. A big eye opener for me.
I’ll be back next week to talk more about Vita Allegre. If you read Dating da Vinci the first time around, might you leave a review on Amazon and tell your friends about it? As ever, xo and here’s to every day adventure.
Adventures pics of the week- Grand Lake with all my guys for 4th of July weekend.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is more than a story about a reindeer born with a deformity (a glowing red nose) that ends up saving Christmas. It’s a metaphor for misfits everywhere. Along with Mary Poppins and the Wizard of Oz, Rudolph has spiritual meaning we can apply to our journey.
Hermey: [musically] Why am I such a misfit? I am not just a nitwit. You can’t fire me, I quit. Seems I don’t fit in.
Rudolph: [musically] Why am I such a misfit? I am not just a nitwit. Just because my nose glows… why don’t I fit in?
Hermey, in the 1964 cartoon, was the elf who really wanted to be a dentist. Rudolph desperately wanted to be like the other reindeer and get the chance to fly Santa’s sleigh but he was made fun of because of his nose. When he visited the Island of Misfits, he discovered he was in good company. Misfits are everywhere.
First, we need to recognize we are all misfits somewhere and that’s part of the fun and challenge in our journey is to figure out where we best fit in: personally and professionally. The more we know who we are and stop pretending to be who others need for us to be, the more that happens authentically. Sure, once in awhile we are still called upon to put on the fake nose and fit in, but if we do that too long, we can get depressed and even repress our feelings and shrink instead of grow. It was only when Rudolph took off the mask and let himself be who he is that his unique gifts were seen and offered to the universe.
The holidays are a huge trigger for our Misfit beacon. Maybe it’s being around family that reminds us of failures or past hurts or labels thrust upon us or feeling “forced” to go to holiday parties because we are supposed to versus genuinely wanting to with an open heart. It’s also about being Alone and Lonely when it feels like everyone else is so damn merry and have it all together! Of course that’s our own lens we’re looking through. The very folks we think are having the time of their lives could be wearing fake noses to fit in, too! And underneath their smiles could be a lot of pain. As someone who felt like an outcast most of my life (but found a way to fit in where I could offer my gifts) and as someone who is struggling to find my emotional footing right now, I wanted to offer up this cool Holiday Intention pic I snatched that can help us sail right into the new year. I can’t quite read the attribution, but thanks to whomever came up with it.
Be present, give with intention, wrap others with joy, send good vibes, make friends, be the light. I’ve always been independent and have gone to a lot of functions alone, but it feels different going alone because you are single. I’ve found it’s tested and stretched me in new ways. One of the reasons I love this holiday list so much is we should do this when we go about our merry way (even when we are feeling Grinchy) this season and always. Just as we check the mirror for the way our hair and outfit looks before we go, we should check our attitude and energy. If we are FEELING like a misfit, that’s the energy we are going to send to others and yes, they can feel it, even if it’s subconsciously. If you go out saying, I’m going to be the light (code word for radiating your best), then others will be drawn to you quite literally like a warm fire on a cold day. Even though I love nothing more than a night in with my journal and a glass of red wine, I *know* it’s good for me to get out and be around people to re-energize me and make me feel a little less alone. You’ll know what that right balance is for you. As an ambivert, I recharge pretty evenly between ideas and alone time and being around people I admire and meeting new people.
What are you grateful for this week? Who lifted your spirits? Whose spirit did you lift? Where do you feel like a misfit and how could you correct than in 2015 to live more authentically? This week I’m grateful for Patty, Tracy, Hilarie, Ann and Carrie for being my party pals and my old friend Matt and his dad for inviting me to the Bedlam game (even though we lost. Ugh.) Our evening was full of spirited conversation and I’m never shy about sharing a good story and inviting others to do the same.
Happy holidays, dear readers. Sending you loads of good vibes.
Happy Thanksgiving! In counting my blessings this year, in addition to family and friends and servant hearts, I’m so thankful for the great advice and quotes I got all year from Team Get Real (counselors, friends, wise famous people). If you are in a place where you are seeking clarity or simply trying to expand your peace and happiness, perhaps these might help you, too. xo
2. When you don’t know what to do, my best advice is to do nothing until clarity comes. Getting still, being able to hear your own voice and not the voices of the world, quickens clarity. Once you decide what you want, you make a commitment to that decision. -Oprah
3. If you are pretending or performing, you aren’t living from your authentic self.
4. I’m choosing happiness over suffering, I know I am. I’m making space for the unknown future to fill up my life with yet-to-come surprises. – Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray Love
5. You’ve spent so much emotional energy defending yourself. Clear the layer of guilt away. Your feelings aren’t all of you.
6. And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. –Anais Nin
7. You need to give yourself permission to be human. I want you to want what you want.
8. What’s the greater risk? Letting go of what people think – or letting of of how I feel, what I believe, and who I am? – Brene Brown, author
9. Stay neutral. Use your shield.
10. Love stretches us, but time often snaps us back to our original shape. Love takes us further than we thought we could go, but it does not take us past the limits of our nature. And that is a hard thing to know. – Amy Bloom, author
11. Care about people’s approval and you will be their prisoner. ~ Lao Tzu
12. You can’t save others from their process. It’s important to you to choose everything with precision. Get out of prettying up words.
13. Stay the course. Give yourself a break. Give people time.
14. Yoo-hoo, Life, pick me! – Mandy Steward, author (makes me smile every time!)
15. There’s a weird combo of relief and doubt that comes from fear. It takes a while to find your footing.
16. Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge. ~ Eckhart Tolle
17. The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. ~ Albert Einstein
A Note on Perspective:
While I was nervous about my first Thanksgiving on my own, it turned out to be one of the most special holidays. My daughter (14) ended up not going to Colorado with the rest of the family so she volunteered with me at City of Thanksgiving. We spent the morning making (a lot of) stuffing and then delivered meals to three families in S. OKC which gave us a lot of time for conversation and music. In hearing about some of my friends’ divorces, mine is pretty easy in comparison. My ex didn’t lock me out of the house or refuse to give me my things, I’m at least not being called horrible names to my face and there won’t be a long drawn out battle. Obviously if you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you know my belief is to choose peace over drama in all situations. While you can’t control the other person, you can at least control how it impacts you. Believe me, I’ve cried more this year than I have maybe all other years of my life combined, but clarity and action doesn’t come easy nor without an emotional toll. I read an article that equated going through a divorce as the emotional equivalent of having a second full-time job. That makes sense. No wonder I’ve felt so zapped. If you are going through a tough time, give yourself time to relax and recuperate. It may feel like staying busy is the answer, but often the opposite is much better: take a long bath, read, go to bed early, drink lots of water, exercise every day and smile at everyone you see. (But do go out and have fun, too. My girlfriends get an A+ in the fun department.)
Perspective doesn’t mean you should repress your feelings or talk yourself out of them. Feel them, acknowledge and accept they are there and then try to let them go or find a way to change them. I let myself be sad, but made a plan (volunteering) and a friend reached out and invited us to Thanksgiving at her house after (thanks, Anita!). The Universe has a way of working things out but we must ACT, too.
We are wise to remember that there is AN UPSIDE TO EVERYTHING. I know in our darkest hours that’s hard to grasp, but it’s true, even if that upside is learning how to deal with pain, survive (and thrive) through transformation and GROW.
I recall how helpful the book was back in my early days of co-owning an ad agency ten years ago. This past week I revisited the book to as a way to ground myself in the midst of my divorce and the news of our separation reaches our friends, family and community.
While I do want to keep my private life private, I’m also aware that I am called to share some of that publicly as I have all year in what it means to be true to yourself and “get real” and try to live with unconditional happiness. I also write about women’s journeys in my novels and my most important woman’s journey has to be my own. Making tough choices and surviving rough times is part of our story.
One sunny day last week at a park near my new job at a PR firm, I shared what those Four Agreements can do for us.
I hope the book helps you the way it’s helping me through this difficult time. That being said, even for a person who does live with the “glass half full” and a positive attitude, I still feel pain and still get hurt feelings. Our brains WANT us to jump to conclusions and make assumptions and our egos feel attacked and want to defend. Hey, it’s hard being human. I’m trying to be kinder and gentler.
I had to block a family member who sent me about thirty Bible verses and said I’m no longer welcome in her home. People feel like they have to take sides, which is unfortunate, and it hurts to be immediately cut off from half the family that have been a part of your life for so long. Others friends may stay away because it’s awkward. I get it! Many people don’t know what to say, or as I said in the video, it’s going through the lens of their own situation. So you can see why The Four Agreements is pretty helpful if I (we) keep trying to live them.
1. Be impeccable with your word.
2. Don’t take things personally.
3. Don’t make assumptions.
4. Always do your best.
I want to emphasize how important the support and love of friends and family have been. I do believe we are a magnet for what we are sending out so I’m concentrating on love and joy and peace. I have so much to be grateful for.
NaNoWriMo. My goal is to finish the first draft of my brotherhood novel in November. That happens to be National Novel Writing Month so I’m in. Not only do I need the distraction that my fictional world provides, but it will feel great to get this project done because it’s the one I’ve been more excited about writing than any other.
FUN NEWS! A new Stork Reality baby! My book club visit in September included a pregnant reader who had just finished reading The Stork Reality, my first novel. I asked her to send me baby pics when her bundle of joy arrived. Welcome to the world, Gigi! Congrats, Megan!