Go on an Archeological Adventure Without Leaving Home

I’ve been cleaning out my closet recently. It’s kind of like going on a little archeological dig right there in my bedroom.  Each item is a symbol, of who I was at certain points in my life.  There are the few remaining button down collared shirts I bought just out of college thinking they were a “must have” for my work wardrobe.  The long, off-white, drawstring, one-size-fits-all, crepe-y cotton skirt I purchased from a vendor at a music festival when I decided in my mid-twenties that collared shirts were never really going to be a part of my wardrobe.  I wanted to get as far away from them as possible.  Then there are the multiple pairs of dress pants that were paired with cotton shirts and fun jewelry; the work uniform of my late twenties.  This is followed closely by my recent obsession with anything with birds on it.  (yes, I know, I know . . . insert Portlandia “put a bird on it” reference here).

It’s been a bit of an archeological dig of sorts, looking at the stuff that makes up the image I present to the outside world.  There’s a clear progression in my style, from trying to fit into some ideal I thought was “required” to buying fun, whimsical things that just make me smile.

So what insight lies waiting in your closet?  What do your artifacts say about where you are?  Are you trying to fit into an image that doesn’t quite match you?  What could you shift or change to feel more like yourself?  What’s that impulse buy that you fell in love with and rarely wear?  Find (or make) an occasion to wear it.  What about that sweater you’ve moved from one closet to the next over and over again?  What are you hanging on to?  Are you waiting for the perfect dress to wear it with?  Does it remind you of someone or something?  Is that good or bad?

Next time you take an item out think about the bigger story it’s connected to. What does it say about who you were, who you are and who you will be?

I’d love hear your stories. What’s the craziest thing in your closet and the story behind it.  Take a minute to share in the comments below!

 

Restless? Two Reasons Why That’s Awesome!

Restlessness.  It’s a bit of a hard concept to define, but when you’ve got it you know it.  It’s that pit of the stomach feeling that things aren’t quite where they belong.

I’ve got it.  After recently publishing my novel, I decided I needed to get serious about marketing it beyond the 25 people who were my early fans (LOVE you all!).  That led me to an intense 8 week, online course which has been awesome, but the equivalent of drinking from the fire hose.  By my nature, I want everything to be done now.  So I’m restless.

In my writing, I’ve described it as feeling itchy in your own skin or wearing a wool sweater one size too small.  Yes,  it’s uncomfortable, but is is bad?

To really look at that objectively it helps to realize that there are really two kinds of restlessness.  I call these the Is this it? type and the There’s all this! type.

Is this it? restlessness is the kind that creeps up when you’re least expecting it.  Often when things are going well in your life.  It’s the feeling that some indescribable thing is missing or about to happen.  An almost imperceptible emptiness.

  • Why it’s awesome: This often means that something is about to change.  Maybe it’s     your job, or a new relationship.  Maybe your next big burst of creativity.
  • What to avoid: The key is to make sure you don’t fall into the trap of assuming that  the thing that’s coming is negative.  Do this, and you’ll get mired down in dread and miss the big amazing  thing right in front of you.  Yes, bad things happen.  But in my experience they blind side you on a random Tuesday with no warning.  There’s no sense in planning for that.  Plan for the awesome.

There’s all this! restlessness is far more predictable.  It comes when you are in the middle of a change and you have five thousand ideas and tasks and you really, really want them all to be done yesterday.

  • Why it’s awesome: You’re in the middle of something really, really pivotal.  Maybe you’re changing jobs, moving, returning to school, planning a wedding.
  • What to avoid: The key thing to avoid here is falling into overwhelm.  Don’t let the volume of work paralyze you into doing nothing.  Write all those five bajillion things down.  Do them one at a time.  (Bird by bird, as the lovely Anne Lamott would say).  Enjoy the process as much as the product.  Live the awesome.

Are you feeling restless?  Share in the comments below what is causing your restlessness and how you’re going to embrace the awesome.

What Your Nightstand Says About You

So I’m mostly a minimalist.  My decor preferences trend towards the modern and I have a thing for pop art, sleek lines and all things clutter-free.  This is true of my home, my office, and my home office (i.e. the couch).  The only place it doesn’t ring true:  my nightstand.

No, seriously.  In a house free of clutter, my nightstand just . . . well . . . isn’t.

MC nightstand

Recently I stopped to ponder the stacks of books/journals on my nightstand.  What do they mean? (Full disclosure, I have degrees in Psychology and Counseling, thinking about things like this amuses me in a way that may or may not be normal.)  Anyway, here’s what I determined our night stands say about us.

If you have piles of books (like me) you are a lover of words.  You like to slowly sip your books and drink in every bit of goodness.  One at a time is not enough.  There is a book for every mood.

If you have one book.  You are focused.  You know exactly what you want and you go after it.  Start to finish. You also have a good memory about what you’d like to read next. (Or a list on your iPhone).

If you have no books.  You don’t like to read in bed. You are well-rested.

If you have a journal you are reflective and insightful.  Also, disciplined.

If you have random scraps of paper with half-legible notes jotted down in dark, you are a writer.

If you have an iPhone, etc. you either: a. read books on it;  b. work way too much; or c. don’t have another type of alarm clock. (I genuinely hope it’s a. or c.)

If there’s a phone that isn’t a cell phone on your nightstand, you’re probably in a hotel.  Hopefully on vacation.

One of those little book lights, you stay up later than the person you share a bed with.

A glass of water, you’re super healthy (or had a salty dinner).

Pictures of friends, family or friends like family, you’re loved.  Never alone.  Grateful.

What does your nightstand look like?  Tell me in the comments below.  And if you know someone with a crazy, piled up, awesome nightstand (or a super beautiful clean one), please pass this along!

The Surefire Way to Overcome Fear

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Take a risk . . . be okay.  Twice in my life I have moved to a new city with a lease on an apartment and no job.  That’s right, twice.  The first time was right out of college and the second was three years later.  Both times I had some money saved.  Both times I took jobs I didn’t love until I found better ones.  The second time, that better job was a long time coming.  If I had studied the economic trends of 1999 versus 2002 or taken a harder look at the job market in Richmond, VA compared to the suburbs of Washington, DC I might not have done it.

I also might never have learned that I can land on my feet.  Or figured out how to block out the noise around me and just have faith.

There have been other risks in my life.  Some bigger, some smaller.  Each one, regardless of the outcome leaves an indelible mark.  The irreversible knowledge that I can.  And I will be okay.

I would love to hear from you.  Tell me about your riskiest move and how it turned out in the comments below.

*awesome photo found here!

My Love Affair with TED

I’m totally in love with TED.  It’s true . . .

So when I found out that TED was coming to town, the anticipation was nearly more than I could handle.  March 22 is the magic date for Richmond’s very first TEDx conference. I filled out my application to attend more than a month ago, and March seemed so very far away.  But now March is here, we’re  10 days in and in less than two weeks TED and I will finally meet face to face.

Here are just a few of the reasons I love TED:

Susan Cain – I’ve sung her praises before and I’m sure I will again.  Her book is phenomenal.  A must read for introverts and those that love them (so, you know . . . mostly everyone).

Neil Pasricha – I have shown this video many, many times in various classes that I teach.  I have never gotten tired of it and the message always catches me at just the right moment (which is . . . awesome!).

Amanda Palmer – Connection, respect and authenticity as the new commodity for promoting one’s art. Beautifully simple.  Perfectly conveyed.  There’s also a really nice breakdown of the theme of her talk as it relates to publishing over at Huffington Post Books.   (Amanda Palmer can sleep on my couch any time . . . seriously).

What about you?  What made you fall in love with TED.  Let me know in the comments below.

A Love Letter to 5 Guys & 3 Ladies

     It all started with a weekend getaway with my husband.  Heading to a mountain cabin after work one Friday night, we stopped off at a 5 Guys Burgers and Fries  to grab a quick dinner.  While the getaway was much-needed and relaxing,  the meal selections didn’t get much better over the next two days (trending towards fried and greasy and processed).  I have always prided myself on being a healthy eater and so despite the awesome scenery and even better company I wasn’t in a  great place physically or mentally.  That weekend was a tipping point: I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired!
     As always in life, when the student is ready the teacher appears.  In this case the teacher was Hayley Hobson.  I  first encountered Hayley when she followed my blog (thank you!) and was intrigued by her three-day cleanse.  I had always been skeptical of the “cleanse”, imagining deprivation, starvation and all sorts of scary things.  But Hayley’s plan actually included eating food and I was ready.  I approached my husband about doing the cleanse and, feeling much like myself about the previous weekend,  he was enthusiastically on board.  At the end of the three days we both felt amazing and wanted to incorporate more plant-based meals into our diet.  It was through Hayley, that I discovered Kris Carr’s Crazy, Sexy Kitchen which I have been working my way through and enjoying all the plant-based goodness contained within (and to think it all started with a hamburger).
     I was a Crazy, Sexy convert and immediately signed up for Kris Carr’s weekly newsletter, which is where I first heard about Marie Forleo.  Marie’s passion for helping women succeed in business is infectious.  The free videos posted on her site really opened my eyes to the fact that my writing wasn’t just a hobby, but an actual business!  Even after all I went through to publish my book, Neverending Beginnings, I had never really considered myself a businesswoman.  She asked probing questions which made me reevaluate what I wanted from my writing and how to get it.  I know my second novel, and my approach to marketing my writing will be a better as a result of the insights I gained.
     Even though we have never met, I feel a connection with these women. They have helped me on my journey.   So on this lovely St. Valentine’s day I offer a heartfelt thanks to these ladies and a commitment to keep the goodness and connections going!  And to the 5 Guys that started it all . . . well, here’s to inspiration in the oddest of places.

Brooklyn, Brooklyn Take Me In

There are train tickets and a hotel confirmation on my kitchen counter. Date: early March. Destination: Brooklyn.

Last year, right around this time we travelled to New York with friends for a birthday celebration. It was an amazing experience. The “main” birthday event was a trip to Brooklyn Brewery, but we stayed in Manhattan and caught the train over for the day. This time we’ll reverse that pattern. Spending the majority of our trip diving deeper into the borough that peaked our curiosity in a matter of hours. The one that whet our (figurative and literal) appetite for more. The one that felt a bit like home, away.

Here’s what I’m already excited about:

  • a return visit to Brooklyn Bowl (which I think I have now shamelessly linked to about 5,000 times on this blog . . .)
  • visiting Brooklyn Brew Shop and finding someone to personally thank for the amazing spent grain recipes on The Mash (holy Barley & Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars, Batman)
  • Checking out some of the coffee shops and restaurants documented here
  • Checking out more of the amazing-ness in Trust Neely’s Guide (which served us so well the first time)

Also, I can’t stop singing this in my head.

And it’s just the beginning – I have a whole month to plan. If you’re from Brooklyn or have spent more time there than me (*easy, since I was there less than 8 hours) leave me a comment and let me know what it is essential that I add to my list!

Trending Up

In a class I am teaching this semester we are using selections from the book (and television series) Roadtrip Nation.  The series revolves around interviews conducted by a group recent college grads who set out on a cross-country trip interviewing folks about their career paths along the way.

One particular concept sticks out for me each time I watch the pilot episode (though I can never remember the name of the person who offers it).  The question that sparks the comment has something to do with job satisfaction and “right fit” within a chosen profession.  The executive being interviewed acknowledges that one isn’t always going to love every single task in their chosen vocation.  Every day isn’t going to be the best day.  Every project isn’t going to fall together like choirs of angels singing.  There will be undesirable tasks, unpleasant days and unorganized projects.  He stresses the importance of watching the trends and acknowledging the inevitable “dips” but determining if the overall arc is up or down. If it’s trending up, all is well. If the trend is sloped more downward, it’s probably time for a change.

I love this concept because it gives permission for the little dips.  Those not as great days when you feel a bit itchy in your own skin.  I love it because it acknowledges that movement in a positive direction isn’t always in a straight line, but it’s all good just the same.

So here’s hoping that things are trending up in your life today.  Not perfect, just in the direction of.

 

Some Days

Some days are just awesome.  Today was one of them.  Here’s why:

I unexpectedly got to attend the Grace Harris E. Leadership Institute Higher Ground Women’s Leadership Conference.  In addition to the obvious (super inspiring panels and keynotes) I also got to see Torski Dobson-Arnold in action (former high school Forensics club members unite).


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I also won an amazing pedicure package.  Umm . . .I never win anything, much less anything awesome and full of lavender and mint.

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And then there’s the snow.  Have I mentioned how I love snow in the city? So. Gorgeous.

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Hope your Friday was just as awesome!