Do you trust the arc of your story?
March 11, 2014
I did it! I found something good about impending doom. I've seen its beady little eyes often enough around here I was able to identify a pattern.
Which is, it forces me squarely into the present moment. This one. Not that moment in the future -- which is, as I mentioned, too scary to process. I run backward to a moment I can deal with, the one right in front of me.
What else can you do?
Here’s what else. You can make the most of where you are now.
Your fear will energize you, if you let it. Watch it marshal forces and summon resources you couldn't have anticipated.
Impending doom? Averted!
What was it you were worried about?
Are you really that unique?
March 10, 2014
You think you have it bad? Maybe you do. And almost certainly there’s someone who had it worse, and got further.
It isn’t too late to change your story.
Bestselling author Brendon Burchard has shared the stage with world leaders, amassed an online following most of us can only dream of, and doesn’t have to eat “cheap noodle dinners” anymore.
But at one point he was bankrupt. “I had no reason to believe that I could one day live my dream as a writer and trainer,” he says, “no reason to believe, I suppose, except that my heart told me it was my path.”
One night he watched his girlfriend walking into the bedroom he was working out of, trying not to disturb him or his papers -- and quietly slipping beneath the covers.
“I saw my woman sleeping under the weight of my bills,” he says. “I decided to get more committed in every area of my life; I decided to stop letting my small business make me small minded; I decided to marry that girl.”
While Brendon credits “seemingly endless, fruitless days of discipline” for his comeback, it started as a decision.
What have you decided to do with your time here? Figure that out, and I bet you can find someone who can not only make that easier -- but who’s made it his mission to help people like you.
You’re not that unique, and I mean that in a good way.
Are you all in?
March 6, 2014
Have you heard of Marsha Sinetar’s book Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow? It’s been a guidepost for some people and endlessly mocked by others.
Here are a couple of ideas from it I think are worth sharing.
Marsha says a talent we’re born with eventually surfaces as a need. Scratch the itch -- as I’d put it -- or spend the rest of your life so distracted by that it’ll drive you crazy.
Marsha says if you’re committed to your talent, you can earn as much money as you need or want -- which is how she defines success. All it takes, she continues, is everything you have -- all your energy, focus, and commitment. All your love.
Maybe Marsha’s detractors didn’t read that far. She isn’t claiming the money will follow if you don’t work at your dreams.
If you do? You’ll have a lot more than money.
Reassurance, for example, you didn’t waste your life on a boring story.
Do you feel pressured to look busy all the time?
March 5, 2014
You hear it constantly. “I get my best ideas when I’m running.” Running, taking a shower, doing the laundry -- anything but slogging away in front of the screen for too many hours at a time.
So why do so many of us feel guilty giving our minds a rest?
If you’re one of them, if you need the break but don’t think you deserve one -- or worry someone else doesn’t think so -- fear not. Lisa Miller suggests you putter. The magazine piece she wrote calls puttering divine: “Putterers carry an aura of being importantly occupied (picking up, gardening, sorting coins) even as they’re doing nada. It’s the cover of busyness that creates the insulating bubble, for it shields you from the disapproval of onlookers -- and even from yourself.”
Puttering is to me what a glass of wine is to other people. A sweet little reward at the end of the day, so soothing it wouldn’t occur to me to feel conflicted about it.
And now that Lisa’s framed it as a “cover of busyness” creating an “insulating bubble” -- which is nothing if not a soothing image -- it’ll feel even better!
Who are the stars of your life?
March 4, 2014
The Academy Awards telecast is no laughing matter. Not the “In Memoriam” tribute, anyway -- and this year I teared up at the end for the first time. That’s when Philip Seymour Hoffman’s face appeared on the screen.
Philip Seymour Hoffman was on set on a day our lives felt like a movie. Darrell and I were walking away from the dorm at NYU we’d just moved Katie into. We’d said our goodbyes, and -- as far as I could tell, anyway -- had left most of what we loved about our lives behind. As we headed for a cute little pastry shop Darrell stopped. “That’s Philip Seymour Hoffman,” he said. I only saw the actor from behind as he rode his bike toward Washington Square Park.
He and Katie were neighbors, I soon learned. Now granted, her neighborhood’s filled with stars so studded it looks like the guest list for a Vanity Fair party. But there was something jarring about seeing one of them ourselves.
Hoffman’s face on the screen earlier this week brought back every movie he’s graced that we’ve loved -- Moneyball, for sure, but also Charlie Wilson’s War and The Ides of March -- and flooded me with the feeling we had as we made our way out of his world, which was now Katie’s.
My dad used to say, “Life is really quite short.”
What’s in your scrapbook?
March 3, 2014
Sometimes I tease Darrell his journal is just a record of what things have cost him over the years. He’s kept track of every penny he’s spent since his first day of college. It’s fine, as hobbies go. But it isn’t one I’m going to take up myself. No need, for one thing. He’s the bookkeeper in the family.
When we get back from wherever it is, he has a line item in an expense notebook -- and I have a story.
I can’t remember where I came across this little gem from Kyran Pittman, author of Planting Dandelions, but I’d saved it -- and it sums up the compassion I suddenly feel for my eighteen-year-old self: “Like most young adults, I was hugely self-conscious, and barely self-aware. I lived in a constant state of reaction. Feelings were like weather -- something originating completely outside of me, mysterious and volatile. It was very easy to get lost in fear, anger, or sadness. When you’re young, you have no perspective. Everything is happening to you for the first time. You’re the primitive human. The sun goes away, and you don’t know why, or if it will ever come back.” And then, “Just thinking about it makes me want to run out and hug the first eighteen-year-old I see.”
Isn’t that a beauty? If you have compassion for yourself, you’ll find it infinitely easier -- and indeed, irresistible -- to have compassion for others.
Kind of makes me want to look through what else I’ve saved.
What does your record show?
Do you have regrets?
February 27, 2014
The happiest people I know look at so-called mistakes as directions. “If that’s what it took to get me here,” they’ll say, “so be it.”
I can relate. But I also cop to wondering about the road not taken. My friend Alex Lickerman says it’s easy to romanticize what might’ve been, especially when the road you took doesn’t enchant. “But how do you know that path wouldn’t have turned out even worse?” he wonders.
There’s one regret I have about Katie’s childhood. When she was little, Dad was in charge of lunch. Whatever else was on the menu, it almost always included some of her favorite sausage with some of her favorite cheese. Darrell cut those into shapes, and as time went by the designs got more elaborate. I seem to remember a kid on a bicycle, scenes like that. Can you imagine how much fun that was for Katie? Or Darrell, for that matter? She was two or three years old, and practically squealed with delight when she saw the latest. He uh, ate that up.
So why, why -- when we realized this was going to be a thing -- we didn’t break out the camera and save the daily evidence of so much cuteness? Can you imagine a book filled with those photographs?
We can -- and Darrell was touched when I shared that on a recent program with Terri Belford, who shows people how to make a living from their arts and crafts.
I told him again how cute that book would’ve been. And in the process I suddenly realized why I no longer regret we don’t have it. “It would’ve changed the experience,” I offered. “The focus would’ve shifted to getting the perfect photograph instead of just enjoying Katie’s reaction.”
Nope. We did it right the first time.
And now we know.
Would it help to write out your feelings?
February 26, 2014
“My journal is a map of me.”
So says Colleen Wainwright, who joined us on the show recently to talk about what she writes about -- anything and everything, she says, that catches her fancy. You get the idea it’s the lens through which she sees the world. It’s how she processes her feelings.
When Michael Gates Gill got fired, divorced, diagnosed with a brain tumor -- and was broke -- his daughter suggested he start keeping a journal. So he did. The result was How Starbucks Saved My Life, a book I hope you’ll consider reading if you haven’t already.
Leap! author Sara Davidson was once asked, “If you knew the world was going to end in two days, what would you do?” To which she replied without hesitation: “Take notes.”
There’s just something about it. Writing things down helps you see them more clearly. If it’s a grocery list, you’ll find it easier to buy what you want and say no to the rest. If it’s a goal, it’s easier for your brain to take that seriously -- and work on it while you take breaks to exercise or do laundry or even sleep. If you keep a journal you could literally save your life -- by spotting destructive patterns you wouldn’t have otherwise noticed, or by realizing if you don’t make some changes you’ll bore yourself to death.
Colleen and Michael and Sara are three of many people who’ve inspired me to share part of my story in another book, Do-Over. Watch for more news about that, here.
And don’t forget to work on your own story in the meantime. We’ll keep each other inspired.
Next up, how the process of writing this blog helped me avoid a regret about Katie’s childhood.