Stay Awake – A poem for those feeling big emotions

Inner voice painting

Last Friday I shared the most raw blog post I’ve ever published. I live alone and I had the realization that I hadn’t touched another living thing in two weeks and it would probably be several more weeks before I did touch another person.

I felt deeply for a few hours. And then I wrote about it. And the next morning I shared that blog here and on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

It was one of the most freeing and healing experiences I’ve ever had.

People popped up from all over the place saying the felt the same way I did and that they were touched by my story. And so many people offered to connect – it was amazing.

It’s also already the second most read post I’ve ever shared – and it’s only been out there for eight days.

Publishing that story of sadness and grief showed me that we can share hard feelings with people. You don’t have to be grateful and happy all the time – even if you are a grateful and happy person!

Right now, with so many ups and downs and uncertainties, it is so important to slow down and give yourself space to feel whatever it is you’re feeling. You don’t have to deny your emotions.

On Sunday I wrote a poem about diving into your feelings that I want to share with you today. I call it “Stay Awake.”

When you feel a crack inside of your soul,
Slow down, pry it open, dive into the hole.
Sink, swallow, and let your truth thrive,
This is where you are most alive.
Shed the layers that kept you from hearing your heart,
Take a moment and listen to your whole in the parts.
Find freedom in allowing your feelings to flow,
Nothing held back, you can let it all show.
Stay awake for the wonder, the chaos, the pain,
Stay awake for it all, let go of the shame.
See the light shining from deep in your soul,
Nothing to fix, you were already whole.
So when the going gets tough, let tough be your guide.
Dive into you’re your depths, that’s where magic resides.

The cracks in your soul are an invitation to slow down and feel. You are most alive when you allow your feelings to flow through you – sadness, anger, joy, wonder, and everything in between. This is where your magic resides 🙂

Living alone during a pandemic

Woman looking out a window

Earlier today I went on an early evening walk in Hidden Falls Regional Park. It was a gorgeous evening – unexpectedly sunny, almost no wind, and a downright balmy 52 degrees for late March in Minnesota.

There were plenty of people walking, running, and fishing in the park. Some were alone like me, many in couples and families. As I passed groups walking in the opposite direction, they moved into a single file line and balanced on the edge of the concrete path, forcing every possible inch between us to ensure safe social distancing.

Towards the end of my walk, an exceptionally cute dog came towards me, happily bouncing down the path without a care in the world.

I found myself drawn towards the dog, wanting it to come near me so I could pet it.

Instead, it did what it was trained to do and sauntered right past me. It never even made eye contact.

I was disappointed.

I am not a dog person. I don’t hate dogs, but I’m a little afraid of the big ones (or really any dog that barks and growls at me) and I don’t have much patience for dog smell, drooling, or being all up in your face and everywhere else. Puppies and cute dogs are adorable, of course – I am still human after all – but I’m not generally disappointed when a dog walks past me without making an introduction. Usually I would feel relieved.

Not today.

I realized in that moment of disappointment that I hadn’t touched a single living thing in two weeks. No hugs. No handshakes. No simple touch of the arm. Nothing.

The realization skimmed over the surface and passed by without really impacting me. I finished my walk, stopped at Lund’s to pick up a few groceries, and headed home to FaceTime with my niece for a sing-a-long and watch Grey’s Anatomy.

And then I started reading How Will The Pandemic End in The Atlantic. Studying the different scenarios and timelines plunged me deep into the knowing that it will likely be many more weeks before I touch another living thing.

That’s when the tears started. I cried on and off for what seemed like longer than a reasonable amount of time. I tried to go to bed and realized there was no point.

So now I sit here writing. With dried tears salted to my cheeks and new ones intermittently streaming down my face.

I cry because I am grieving. I cry because I am uncertain. I cry because that’s what I do when emotions overflow. Their only way out is through tears.

Tears and writing.

I write because, I’ve realized in the last several months, I might be a writer more than anything else. I write to process. I write to create out of my grief. I write to share and find connection. I write to give words to emotions that right now are only coming out in tears.

I write. And I cry. And eventually I will go to bed.

Tomorrow will be better. And, at some point, this grief will come again. It has to. We are not meant to be without human touch. We are not meant to be alone, especially in a time of crisis and change and uncertainty.

We are meant to dance and sing and hug and play and cry and grieve TOGETHER.

And despite my amazing friends and family, despite my spiritual community and entrepreneur network, despite all the incredible support that I know many are not so lucky to have – I am alone. In the most literal, physical sense.

I don’t have uplifting words to end this monologue. This is just where I’m at right now. I’m leaning into the swirl and writing from inside the mess, from inside the grief, from inside a truth I never anticipated needing to face.

That is all.

Three questions to ask yourself right now

Three questions to ask yourself right now

The answers to these questions is all you need to do right now.

This is not a time to try and be perfect.

If you’re entire definition of productivity has changed in the last ten days, that’s completely fine.

If you’re so tired that all you can do is the basics, that’s completely fine.

If you feel super busy, but you can’t figure out why because you’ve barely left the house, that’s completely fine.

If you’re sitting at home bored because you live alone and your entire social life has been cancelled and you genuinely want to use this time to dive into personal growth, be creative, write, read, workout, whatever you want to do – that’s also completely fine.

There isn’t any one right way to do this. Listen to yourself, to your true inner voice, to your core needs – and find the way that works for you.

Fulfilling what YOU need – no matter what anyone else thinks

adult-balloon-beautiful-1236678

Last week I cast my vote in the Minnesota primary and got an unexpected life lesson that had absolutely nothing to do with politics.

The voting started normally – I checked in, got my ballot, went to the cubby, and filled in the bubble to select my candidate. Then I took my ballot over to the scanner. That’s where I met the life lesson giver.

The woman manning the scanner was pushing 80 years old and perhaps the jolliest person I’ve ever seen. She made small talk as I submitted my ballot and I made small talk back.

And then, without any prelude or transition at all she said to me, “You know, I’m old enough that I just don’t care anymore. I know what I need.”

She wasn’t talking about voting or our government or anything having to do with politics.

She was talking about what SHE needed. On a personal, human level.

She needed to be around people. She needed the interaction.

She used to fulfill that need through teaching. Last week she fulfilled the need by volunteering to watch over the scanner – and probably chit-chatting with every voter like she did with me 🙂

I don’t know if this was a new realization that she could stop caring what other people thought and meet her own needs or if it’s something she’s been practicing for a long time.

Either way, I know with certainty you don’t have to wait until you’re 80 to unapologetically fulfill your needs.

You get to do it today, no matter what anyone else thinks.

My favorite quote of all time

Howard Thurman Quote - Do Not Ask What The World Needs

Any other quote lovers out there?

I LOVE quotes. There’s something about them – so short and simple, but they hit right at the heart. There are many quotes I’ve gone back to time and time again over the years, but there is one that rises to the top above them all:

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Howard Thurman

I love this quote because it reminds us that you have the biggest impact when you tap into your true inner voice, follow your curiosity and do what makes you come alive.

You don’t have to suffer through a painful job just because you think that’s what you need to do to make a difference.

You can live in aliveness and joy.

It is possible.

What’s your favorite quote? Comment and let me know!

My favorite mindset hack to let go of perfectionism

Hands in the air

If you’ve ever found yourself re-reading an email for the eighth time or tweaking an already-done PowerPoint, this message is for you.

Ditto if you’ve spent weeks fiddling with the font on your website, have a blog that’s been sitting in your drafts folder for days (or weeks…or months…) or have an idea you’ve been waiting to share because it just needs a little more research.

Here’s the mindset hack: Go for 97.

Let me explain.

100% perfection isn’t possible. You’re human. No matter how hard you work, there will always be an error. You could always do more research, always wordsmith a document one more time. You need to take a stand and let go of 100%.

AND…the effort it takes to go from 97% to 99% usually isn’t worth it.

So go for 97.

I can already see the engineers and accountants questioning this approach, so I’ll tell you now – there’s no actual math behind this. It’s a mindset shift. That’s it.

But it’s a mindset shift that’s given me permission to let go and be imperfect so I can spend my time doing something that will create a bigger impact than changing from my font from Cambria to Calibri.

Think about it….if it takes you two hours to go from 0 to 97% and then ANOTHER two hours to go from 97% to 99%, isn’t that a waste of time? I KNOW how much potential each of you has and I want to see you spending your time and energy doing what matters to you and what can make a difference for others.

Another thing – I use this mindset hack for things that I consider FINISHED. Done. Complete. As good as they’re going to be.

Drafts don’t get 97%. Neither do pilots or experiments or basically anything I’m doing for the first time.

They get about 80%. Maybe less.

As someone that used to expect things to be successful the first time around, putting something out into the world at 80% was hard! The story behind getting to 80% is too much for this blog, but let me know if you want to know more about it and I’ll be sure to share in a future message.

For now, aim for 97%. Catch yourself when you’re crossing past the 97% line and force yourself to be done. It will be uncomfortable! That’s okay. Embrace the discomfort and stop working anyway.

Let me know how this works for you! I always love to hear your stories.

Healthy excellence vs perfectionism – What is the line?

Arrow hitting the target perfectly

I facilitated a webinar for a company last week on perfectionism and A LOT of people showed up. The #1 question they asked?

When is striving for excellence and achievement GOOD – and when is it perfectionism?

Such a great question!

Because I know many of you struggle with perfectionism and overachieving, I wanted to answer the question for you too.

Here’s the official, researched response:

Healthy excellence means you can learn from mistakes and let them go. You experiment and try new things and see yourself as worthy and separate from your job or goal, so you don’t personally feel like a failure when something goes wrong.

Perfectionism is believing you cannot fail. It’s just not an option. Your goal or job becomes your identity. You might stop yourself from trying new things because you aren’t certain you’ll be good at them. Or you may work yourself into the ground to make sure you are successful. Your inner critic keeps an archive of all your mistakes and failures, repeating them inside your head over and over. It might feel like life has become a giant report card.

For me, the line is more of a feeling. When I’ve crossed the line, I feel an internal drive to keep working harder to prove myself. I feel like things have to be successful the first time around or that I’m not allowed to fail. There’s usually a tiny pit in my stomach, an underlying feeling of low-level anxiety that isn’t terrible, but it’s persistent.

This feeling is my clue that I need to check-in with myself, do some grounding activities like hiking or cross-country skiing, and say no to more things. This will get me back on the healthy side of the line.

What does that line feel like for you? When do you know you’ve crossed over from healthy excellence to unhealthy perfectionism?

What change really looks like in your life

road spirals up a mountain

I gave myself a soft deadline of this Thursday, January 16 to launch an online course for all of you.

Knowing that I’m an overachiever that tends to take on too much, I consciously told myself it was fine if I didn’t meet the deadline. It was completely okay if the course didn’t launch until next week. After all, what does 4 or 5 days matter in the grand scheme of things?

I told myself these things – and still this week I could feel the overachiever inner critic popping back into my mind telling me I better meet that Thursday deadline. I better work nights and push myself to get it all done. The familiar feeling of low-level anxiety crept into my belly.

And then I caught myself.

Instead of just telling myself it was okay not to meet the deadline, I actively gave myself permission to launch next week.

I realized all these feelings pushing me to meet a completely arbitrary deadline were just old patterns and old beliefs. And I didn’t want to listen to them anymore.

So I let them go.

And I was immediately relieved. SO relieved. Now that the pressure of the fake deadline is gone, I can actually ENJOY the process of creating the course. And I can enjoy the next several days of my life as well.

This is how change happens – any change. It’s not a linear process where one day you decide to be a different person and you slide into that new way of being without any bumps along the road.

No.

Change is catching yourself earlier and earlier. Instead of berating yourself for being back in the same place, appreciate how far you’ve come. Realize a year ago you wouldn’t have even NOTICED you were in old habits and beliefs, let alone redirected yourself.

You are on a journey. Despite how often it feels like you’re running in circles, let me assure you – you are moving forward. You are evolving and growing every day. You are letting go and unlearning and becoming more and more of the person you are every step along the way.

Give yourself grace.

What do YOU desire this year?

woman holding sparkler

When was the last time you asked yourself what YOU really wanted? Not what your boss or spouse or parents wanted, but you? Not what you thought you wanted when you were 25 or what you are “supposed” to want, but YOUR desires, right now, at this point in your life?

I’m guessing it’s been a long time for many of you. Even those of you that spend a lot of time reflecting and setting goals can get caught up in the “supposed-to’s” instead designing the life you desire.

It’s time for you to reconnect to you.

To hear the whisper inside your heart that’s been waiting patiently for you to listen.

To feel where you’re being called this year.

I have 3 journaling prompts to help you do just that.

I recommend setting a timer for 5 minutes, putting your pen to paper to answer the first prompt, and then writing continuously until the timer goes off. Don’t worry about grammar or punctuation or even if you’re making sense. Just write. Repeat with the other two prompts. Here they are:

  • If you had a magic wand, what would be different one year from today?
  • My heart is telling me to…
  • At the end of the year, I’ll regret if I don’t…

After you finish writing, go back and read through what you wrote. What jumps out at you? What messages is your true inner voice telling you about where you’re being called this year?

My biggest lesson of 2019

My biggest lesson of 2019
The outdoors called to me yesterday. I had this weird desire to go out walking in the 40 degree mist and fog. I thought the path through Hidden Falls Regional Park would be plowed, making it easy to navigate.
 
It wasn’t plowed. The park wasn’t even open. I had to park above the entrance and walk down. And the second I arrived, the fog lifted and the mist cleared. The sun even came out for a few minutes.
 
So basically, this walk was nothing I expected.
 
And it was perfect.
 
It was perfect because the closed gate over the entrance kept almost everyone out, so I walked in peace for an hour and only saw four people.
 
It was perfect because the sun shone through the clouds and created layers of gray on gray on gray over the river and it was spectacularly beautiful.
 
It was perfect because the unplowed path was just slushy enough to make me slip and slide and make it all silly and playful, but not so much that I actually fell down.
 
It was perfect because I realized in the moment just how perfect it was and then I got to think of all the reasons it was perfect and better than any of the expectations that had gotten me outside in the first place.
My biggest lesson of 2019, maybe of my life as a whole, is to create expectations and then hold to them lightly. Set goals and get clear on your dreams and then be open to completely different possibilities along the way.
 
Suffering happens when you expect something has to be a SINGLE way. You have to meet that goal or else you’ve failed. That experience or relationship or person better be how you envisioned or it’s terrible.
 
Joy happens when you dream and plan and scheme and then let yourself be a part of the journey. When you let go of the expectations of what happiness was supposed to look like and embrace the joy that is already here in this present moment.

That’s my lesson learned this year. What’s yours?