Good Riddance Mercury in Retrograde

We are almost through what I’ve determined is the worst Mercury in Retrograde in history. Please do keep in mind I didn’t even know what mercury in retrograde was until last year, so my barometer may be a bit off.

On March 1st I’m ignoring the lingering remnants of ol’ MiR and getting busy. Super busy. And I’ll be making as much happen until that fateful day hits once again on June 7th.

But for now while I’m saddled with communication breakdowns and transportation mishaps, I’ll reflect and ponder my wonder years while planning my future that’s so bright I’ll have to wear shades. Bad play on words? Yes, I agree. But I digress.

Over this past month I’ve put a lot of thought into choices I’ve made, which have inhibited my own potential and albeit success. This is also a bit ironic, since there is nothing I love more than seeing people reach their potential. However, I also believe every mistake is a lesson to propel us into success and there is no point dwelling on what has or hasn’t been.

Based on a joint inspiration from Marie Forleo and Cameron Howard, I decided to paint the picture of where I see myself three years in the future. It’s both exciting and terrifying. This is also much of the same feeling I had when I moved from a little ol’ town in Wyoming to Seattle. In fact, I delayed my trip out to the Pacific Northwest by six months because I was so terrified.

I also did the same thing when I planned to move to Austin, TX to pursue a career in music (ok, it was also for a boy). A week before I was supposed to move, I almost backed out because I was now comfortable in Seattle and the uncertainty facing me in Austin was terrifying.

The thing is, all of the times I’ve made big, bold decisions I’ve had at least a dozen naysayers telling me I couldn’t do it. How do you move from Cody, Wyoming to go to school for music business? “Not many people make it in that field, you know.”

When I started my business I heard it all. “You won’t have health insurance.” “You won’t have a regular paycheck.” Blah Blah. Yadi yadi ya ya.

I never let other people’s limitations define me. I set my mind to it and ready, set, go. I crushed it.

These people were open and honest about their fears and it made me face my own.

The ones that can crush you are the ones who aren’t as open and honest. You have a lingering feeling that something is off. That what they are saying doesn’t match up with how they are feeling. And it becomes much more difficult to rise above it when that is the case. Is it all in your head or do they really feel that way and are just too afraid to say it? How do you prove someone wrong if you don’t know what you are proving wrong? And when it refuses to rise to the surface your imagination runs wild and it’s rarely for your greatest good.

So here’s the thing. You can’t make someone tell you how they really feel. You can’t wait for permission from others to be the best you can be. What you can do is set out with that determination and belief in yourself and simply crush it.

Read how to listen to your heart here.

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I’m Ashamed, I’m Guilty, I will Fail: I’m a Writerpreneur

To all my fellow business owners, she makes point after great point.

Editorial IV

I’m here openly revealing the biggest secret of a writer cum entrepreneur.

Should I give up? Probably, I should. Writing is boring, man. Business is even worse. I don’t want to slog my ass off working during the day, through the night? Let me rest. It’s 1am, I want to sleep.

Procrastination has hit me for the past 4 days. Yup, I’m almost chasing and racing against the ‘self-imposed’ deadline.

Can I be more honest? Will you be able to digest it? I don’t feel like writing this post.

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Responsiblity Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

We all have people in our lives who challenge us to take responsibility for their actions. There’s no getting around it. And then there are those of us who feed off off taking responsibility for other people’s actions while we push, cajole and twist them into what we want them to be. And that, is what you call co-dependence my friend.

Co-dependence is just a disguise for saying “I’m not enough on my own.” We tell ourselves we just want to see that other person reach their potential, while we dangerously divert from our own potential. And isn’t it easier to focus on another person’s deficiencies while we avoid the part of us who has the very same deficiency? It’s as if our inner Urkel hides out in our unconscious plastered with a sheepish grin and soaked in nasal drip announcing, “Did I do that?”

If you really look at it, you’ll find the very judgement you are placing on someone else is an area you need to work on within you. We unconsciously think, if I can fix your shit, then I’ll be magically transformed and void of my own poo poo platter. We wag our judgement laced finger and say, “Nah neh nah neh boo boo, you suck at this worse than I do.”

We instantly feel better. For a moment. And then hours upon hours pass focusing on what the other person did or didn’t do while we move farther and farther away from living up to our own potential.

And that’s the point. We can’t control another person’s behavior, we can only control our own. I’ve been fortunate to have people in my life who are my near perfect reflection. Sometimes when I look in that mirror I see Snow White and other times it’s the Evil Queen.

But what do we do about those who want us to take responsibility for their actions? This is a co-dependence dream. We can delightfully dig in, serving up platitudes and hidden agendas. We can fix, mend, and protect. The only result we can expect from this situation however, is a life where both parties are living a life smaller than they deserve.

Like I mention in last week’s post, we also need to look at our motivation for all the undying sacrifices we are making in an attempt to make another person better. And how does our unsolicited advice really affect the other person?

You can’t reach your own potential if you are always striving to push the person on the other end into theirs. Push yourself and you may find that strikes enough inspiration for those around you to follow your lead.

A Selfish Guide to Selfless Acts

What do you want to be known for? That’s the question I stumbled upon the other day. I was both alarmed and sickened by my initial response. The first thing that came to mind without hesitation – being known for placing other people first.

Now, before I come off like Mother Theresa tending to the impoverished with a soul driven purpose, it’s important to know the other side of the coin. And that is where the alarm struck and the sickening took grip. The reason, if you will, is so people will acknowledge my undying sacrifices and put me first in their lives. Huh? How is that about creating a life centered around self-serving martyrdom, passive aggressive manipulation and deep seated disappointment?

There’s truth in treating people how we would like to be treated. In fact, if we are truly honest with ourselves, aren’t we valuing certain people and situations with the unconscious purpose that it will boomerang swiftly and accurately back to us?

But shouldn’t it really start by treating ourselves how we want to be treated? Why is it that we can so easily see the value in everyone around us, but maneuver our own lives as if we’ve removed our rear view mirror establishing a blind spot to our own inherent value?

Drip, drip, drip. That’s where the leakage starts. You are so busy taking care of everyone else that you miss the areas of your own life lacking the foundations necessary to really take care of the people around you. An empathetic concern rises up and you give a friend money who is going through a tough time, while you are up at night searching for how you will pay your next heating bill. You sacrifice your own priorities to dedicate to the priorities, demands and desires of those  around you. The next thing you know, the only time you have left for yourself is a drive thru dart for a Big Mac you’ve convinced yourself is the guiltless gourmet.

We often give to others secretly hoping we’ll get it back in some form. We give the homeless man our last dollar thinking we’ll surely be granted grace in the form of an exponential return. But we can’t give what we don’t have, whether it’s emotional, physical or financial.

I don’t believe we should stop giving, even when we ourselves are going through a tough time. In fact, giving to someone else is almost a surefire way to pull yourself out of the doldrums. I do, however, believe we should give without self-serving sacrifice as the motivation. That means getting real. That means getting honest. That means admitting when you are giving to someone in the hopes they will see your inherent value or you’ll receive something in return.

This is not to say we can’t give with truly selfless motivation that comes from the heart. It’s acknowledging when it’s selfless and when it’s self-serving and placing the value where it really belongs. Selflessly giving without any expectation is what delivers exponential value to ourselves and the world. And when you admit your purpose to give is to simply receive, bypass the detour and instead directly give to yourself what you hope to receive.  Either path allows you to place the recipient in the proper order and fill your value bucket in return.

How Negativity Made Me Positively Giddy

I’m either about to dish out the most brilliantly delicious advice you’ve ever read or poison your perspective, driving you deep into the depths of infinite despair.

You see, I’m going to tell you to go ahead and get negative. Get petty. Get nasty. Cry, shout, scream and go for the jugular. Go all Larry David with his perfectly illogical logic of dealing with the world’s dysfunction. Ricky Gervais the competition and call out their weaknesses for exactly what they are.

We’re told to think positive aImagend positive things will happen. Pollyanna the situation until unicorns and rainbows fly out of the gates of hell. All we have to do is remain positive and the universe will deliver. And God forbid we taunt the universe with negative thoughts which will most definitely boomerang back to us at exponential force, speed and will.

Sometimes no matter how hard you try, those positive thoughts just won’t come. No amount of meditation, daily gratitude, or inspiring stories will turn those dizzying displays of disaster into a zen equivalent of sitting on a sunshine soaked mountaintop with a holy trilogy the likes of Deepak Chopra, the Dalai Lama, and Eckhart Tolle.

What we resist persists. Fed up with the pesky persistence infecting my days since the glorious start of 2014, I finally gave in. This sucks. There I said it. And I didn’t stop there. I found the most unsatisfying, beat up, overused, overlooked and generally bland notebook I could find. And I went all negative on it’s ass. I wrote every single thing that’s annoyed me since this year started. The freezing cold weather and constant snow. Check. My bank charging me a $5 service fee on a savings account that receives about a penny in interest, no matter whether I have $5 or $5000 in the bank. Check. The spinning classroom at LA Fitness that almost always smells like 100 smelly men who haven’t showered in a month. Check.

My brain immediately charged back, “Now ‘cmon, it’s not really that bad.” And almost immediately I felt positively giddy. By round three of Bitchfest 2014, I was laughing. Yep, laughing out loud at the absurdity of it all.

Pen to paper, none of it was all that bad. I looked at all that I had laid out in front of me and realized how truly trivial my first world problems were. And dare I say it, I felt pretty positive.

I’m notorious for quickly counteracting a negative with a positive. That’s a good thing as long as it’s sincere and the positive outweighs the negative. Oftentimes, I think we use that positivity as as mask, whether it’s for approval from others or fear that a negative thought would lead to an even bigger disaster. If we don’t own those feelings though, they linger. They leave us in neutral if the negative and positive perfectly cancel each other out. Or even worse, the negativity sticks around getting bigger and bigger in both our internal and external worlds because we refuse to acknowledge it’s existence.

We can’t truly grasp the positive aspects of our lives if we don’t also acknowledge the negative and clear the way for all the good we have surrounding us. As I positively went negative, I immediately felt grateful for all the things I haven’t been able to embrace due to the black cloud of frustration hanging over my head.

Perhaps there are others who can genuinely embody the enlightened mindset of Chopra, Tolle and the Dalai Lama, but I think for most of us who lack those supernatural powers, we have to accept there’s going to be a little negativity rising to the surface now and then.

No Unsolicted Advice Please

Let me start off by saying, I hate unsolicited advice. Absolutely abhor it. It says to me you are not smart enough, talented enough, or experienced enough to figure it out on your own. It says to me there is only one way to do things and it’s certainly not the path you chose. Unsolicited advice, although always with the best intentions, belittles the other person into the size of a peanut and takes away their own individuality and sense of self.

Now here’s the twist. If there were a ruler of Unsolicited Advice, I could readily stake my claim as the queen. I’ve spent a lifetime hammering out unwanted advice, thinking if they would only listen to me they would reach their potential, not make all the crazy mistakes I’ve made, or get to the end result a bit faster from my personal experience.

That’s the key. Our unsolicited advice is based on our own personal experiences. It leads with a biased slant of your good and bad, folly and wisdom, successes and failures. What may be your failure, may be the key to another person’s success if you only let them reach it on their own without all of your inherent wisdom. Their personal experiences may allow them to overcome the obstacle you couldn’t. And it may simply be because you haven’t experienced it yet.

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. I’m sure you’ve received a bit of advice you hadn’t asked for from a boss, friend, parent or significant other who left you feeling small and unsure of yourself. Maybe they even gave great advice, but you weren’t ready to hear it, take action or you simply needed to learn it for yourself. Would you want that to be the result for the person on the other end of your advice?

And maybe your advice simply doesn’t make sense for that person. I’m a free flowing kind of girl and if you told me I needed to create a rigid routine, it simply wouldn’t work with who I am.

Rather than spending your time and energy dishing up advice, accept the other person for who they are and where they are in their life. Accept their choices may not be the same as yours. Accept they are who they are, different from you. You may not agree with it, you may be frustrated they can’t see what you so clearly can, but it is not your job to fix or judge their decisions .

Listen and support. Supporting does not mean agreeing with the decision. It does however mean supporting it’s their choice to make. And if that advisorial bug strikes, simply start with, “Would you like my advice?” And allow them the opportunity to say no.

Freedom to Choose

It occurred to me today that Americans are unbelievably spoiled. Now this isn’t exactly a revelation, but I do think we all deserve a little reacquainted perspective. We sit here and whine how the economy has got us down because it’s you know, “the economy,” that’s keeping us from moving forward in life. We say this all the while that we buy the most recent $300 phone from our local cell phone provider and then complain how we don’t have any money. Where is the logic in that?

The truth is that if we don’t have money or any multitude of reasons we give for not truly being where we want to be, it’s because of our personal choices dictating the life we’re living. If it sounds like tough love, it is.

I’ve just finished reading not one, but two of Khaled Houssini’s books on Afghanistan and the impact they’ve had can only be described as awe inspiring. As a white 40 year old American woman, I currently have and have always had the personal freedom to be anything I want to be. Anything less than that is solely on me to bear the responsibility. No one has ever tried to beat me if I walked in public unaccompanied by a man. No one has ever prevented me from going for a job I was interested in. No one has ever told me who or who I couldn’t date as an adult.

Instead of saying you can’t do something, how about figuring out how you can? Or at the very least, just admit you don’t really want to do it and let it go. America provides an abundance of opportunities to get to our destination and the freedom to get there in just about any way we choose. So here’s the challenge. Find that one thing where you’ve dug in your heels, threw a temper tantrum and said it’s everyone elses fault why you haven’t made it happen. Now determine if you really want to do it. If not, say buh-bye.  If so, brainstorm how you could get one step closer in a way you may have never thought before.

Vulnerability – Suit Up or Stand Up

Vulnerability is an empowering motherfucker. It’s icky, sticky and often tricky at times, but when you allow yourself to swim through the gooky moat, past the fire breathing dragons and knights guarding your own personal suit of armor, it’s one powerful motherfucker.

For years I looked at vulnerability as a weakness. Don’t let people see the softer side or those desires that said, “I can’t do this on my own.” The thing is, the stronger person is the one who can say I need help. They know we are all in this together.  The good. The bad. The ugly. They know we limit our true potential if we insist on being the only one responsible for taking the next step. And they know that asking for help is actually a sign of confidence, a sign they feel capable enough to allow another person lend a hand, knowing that it will only enhance what they are already offering the world.

Now let’s face it, in the middle of that icky vulnerability loaded with gobbeldygook, it sucks. There may be anger, frustration, screaming and finger pointing. Out of the middle of nowhere you may start crying in a crowded restaurant while having no idea how to make it stop. You may say the wrong things to get to the right meaning. There may be pushing, pulling, dragging and sliding.

It’s what you do with it that creates the real power. It’s an opportunity to be heard and seen. To have positive relationships loaded with meaning, fulfillment and overall health and vitality.

So we have a choice. We can suit up and remain stuck, ready to enact our next line of defense. We can hide behind those iron clad walls, giving ourselves a false sense of security and safety while missing out on a life of joy, wonder and unbelievable fulfillment that taking those emotional risks offer us.

In my life, I’ve come to take those painful moments resting in ick, stick and trick to be the best moments of my life. It’s not easy. And I certainly don’t start that way when the moment arises. But by the end, I’ve found a new route that allows me to do things better than I’ve done before. To communicate more effectively and compassionately. To be more vulnerable in this is who I am, ready to show the world the real me –  raw, unpredictable, often emotional. And one all powerful motherfucker.

Don’t Over Think It

Take three. That’s how many times I’ve started and basically wiped the slate clean to approach this concept of not over thinking it. I’m literally over thinking the concept of over thinking it.  It’s a vicious cycle I weave for myself.

How do you tell an overly-analytical person who often gets caught in the minutia to stop over thinking it. And believe me, that is a resounding mantra given to me by the people in my life. I’m a hard-wired analytical who thrives on looking at data and strategy from every angle. At the sake of sounding arrogant, I’m also a fast-thinking intellectual who can both dissect information and process it at the speed of light. The effect of all the converging and diverging intellectual thought also leads to an emotional volcanic eruption in my mind. Compound that with deep seated empathy, and I’m the equivalent of the 1980 eruption of Mt. St Helens herself.

Now, I’m going against popular belief in what would serve my best interest. I am giving myself permission to over think things. It’s what makes me, me. My face may contort into a sense of shock and horror at what just rolled out of my mouth. I may make the other person uncomfortable about second-guessing what I just said. The truth is it’s not about the pain I cause myself when I over think it, it’s about the pain I’m causing the other person. The source of it all is not about being too hard on myself when I think I should have done it another way, or done it better than I did before. I thrive in that. Again, it makes me, me. Had I not asked myself “could I do this better?” I would never had worked in the music business or started and run my own company for ten years, or become a better manager. The suffering is not mine, because I don’t feel any sort of emotional connection when I say, “why didn’t I do that better?” I’m simply thinking how can I do it better. Steve Jobs asked himself and his team the very same questions and look at what he created.

I do however feel an amazing amount of pain when I know I’ve made the other person uncomfortable or hurt them in any way, even if it was solely about me being hard on myself. And when that self battery happens, it’s the equivalent of Rocky Balboa vs. Apollo Creed.

So yes, I’m going to continue the self-perpetuating analytical treadmill. I’m proud that I think things through, am conscientious, and look at things from all sides to make my life better and hopefully better for those around me. If it makes me a better person and someone I can be proud of, then I see no harm in it. This, of course, is within reason. I am analytical after all and I would hate to go willy nilly and start spending all my time internally debating whether I should invite someone over because I only have two Soft Parades, and would they even like such a “girly” beer, and what if I made them uncomfortable because they didn’t really like the beer but drank it because they wanted to be polite. Yes, that has happened. And yes I take way too much responsibility for other people’s emotions, but that’s another post. But had I not thought more about this, I would never have seen the absurdity and laughed hysterically about it like I am now. And chances are next time, I won’t over think it, but will just extend the invitation and let them take it from there.

If you are one to over think things to the point where it’s detrimental to your life, take a look at my post to put it all in perspective.

Eliminating Can’t From Your Vocab

A few years ago I took up bicycling and over the past two years I’ve repeatedly said, “I’m not good at hills” or “hills aren’t my strong suit” or “I can’t do hills very well.” All just synonyms for I won’t. Recently I conquered what I considered my climbing hill deficit. When someone asked me how I did it, I realized I simply changed my mental approach to climbing hills. I prepared and studies methods to improve. I physically challenged myself. But ultimately I stopped placing “I can’t” in front of “do hills.” And now, only a year later, I find that not only can I climb hills, but I’ve nearly doubled my pace and I don’t look like I’m about to go into cardiac arrest doing it.

The climbing the hill metaphor is not lost on me. As I literally climbed the  hill, I also rose up the proverbial one as well. And it hit me how many times I use “I can’t” to get out of what I really don’t want to do or to avoid a situation that would put me face to face with Freddy Kruger in my mind. The idea that if I were to achieve success, it would mean I’d have to face the Nightmare on Elm Street demon before I do.

The truth is that we create our own demons. We imagine the worst, before putting our best foot forward. Perhaps if we started with the best foot forward, we’d find those monsters in our mind would vanish before they appeared. And perhaps, rather than wasting time convincing ourselves and others we simply “can’t” we’d be pleasantly surprised that focusing our energies on a hearty “Yes, I can” would take us directly to where we want to go.