1. Creativity is air. Wholeness is the secret. Truth is the strategy. Enthusiasm is fuel. Courage is the method. Movement is the way. Listening is a healing. Love is the answer.
I spent a lot of time this year railing against our scarcity-driven culture—wasting countless hours screaming to my door or computer screen or sweet husband just trying to read his book:
Performances of perfection and unethical claims and dogmatic leaders and 10 steps to your greatest life are ripping us away from the sound of our truth and selves!
(And then I would simultaneously get baited by all the noise within a matter of minutes).
The universe is full of answers and secrets, they just aren’t products, a specific person, or an exact dogma.
In the coming year I want to go all into what I believe and waste less time fighting against the noise.
2. Overwhelm is not failure, but a sign that your soul is growing faster than your systems.
My work and business grew faster than my ability to lead and manage this year which was… humbling.
(Read: multiple meltdowns, some very rough days, a few pretty terrible hiring decisions, and operatic levels of doubt.)
But outer and inner growth are more like a dance than a simultaneously rising.
What I noticed both for myself and many of the incredible people I work with this year is that we significantly expanded the vision and grew the conversations and containers in 2019—which is exciting—but with it came the onset of additional stress, pressure, and overwhelm.
Now it’s time to build new support systems, capacity, and leadership.
3. Flourishing is an act of resistance.
The last three years of 45's presidency in the United States have been a level of trauma that I'm still not sure I even comprehend, and some days shutting down or fighting back have felt like the only options.
But activist Ruby Sales says that women are not here to break the glass ceiling, but to build a whole new roof. With a different kind of table and chairs.
The theme of The Collective in 2020 is Radical Flourishing. I believe this is the most audacious form of resistance while living in a society that does not believe that all people get to flourish equally.
We must keep fighting, yes, but I'm curious about how we can also create capacity for flourishing— so things can get good...
(and you better believe I am gearing up to help elect a leader who believes all humans get to flourish equally)
4. Do the outrageous thing you don't think you have time to do.
The moments I did the seemingly outrageous thing this year—creating this show with my Dad, organizing a 5-minute wedding dance and pop-up ceremony choir, taking a last minute trip to Paris, spontaneous dates with my amazing husband, getting up before dawn to write—are now some of the highlights of my life to date.
5. Creative flow is the forgotten antidote to our relentless angst.
We tend to over complicate the creative process—negotiating ourselves out of it, obsessing about the perfect title or conditions, even going to therapy with our litany of excuses about why it's not the right time—instead of simply spending a few moments getting started and letting the next step emerge.
It is impossible to be in angst and creative flow simultaneously. We are creators. This is who we are. Creativity is air and all we need to do is show up to be able to breathe.
6. High expectations backed by clear communication, deadlines, and a plan inspire everyone to go higher. High expectations without limits or clarity is a form of sabotage.
Let's just say I continue to learn this the hard way and leave it at that :)
7. Take whatever time and space you think you need around a thing and DOUBLE IT.
Limits ignite creativity and deadlines empower actualization, but cramming things into our weeks and days, as well as not giving ourselves time to transition from one moment to the next is a form of violence.
I realized this year that while developing a more compassionate relationship with my body is one of my most essential acts of the past decade, I had repurposed the violence I formerly experienced with my body into my relationship with time.
The inquiry I am taking into the 20s is:
What if time were my collaborator—or my dance partner? What if it doesn't have to be a war?
8. The two teachers we most regularly forget to listen to are nature and ourselves.
9. I’m a sprinter. (And so are most of the people I work with).
As appealing as it sounds to plug away in little bits every day at the project, I finally owned up to the fact that I work best in short, concentrated bursts.
Not surprisingly, so do most of my clients and students.
Designing the work flow and process around this awareness--rather than trying to jam ourselves into someone else's productivity formula that has never made sense to us— is the way forward.
10. Not-enoughness belongs not to us, but to the culture that made us.
This one is really important and I hope we can keep talking about it.
We are immersed in our imposter status and not-enoughness because of a culture that taught us to do so, not some kind of deficiency in our beings.
I don't have all the answers about this, but I dream of a world where our daughters do not have to expend energy fighting an unworthiness that was never theirs to begin with.
11. Friendship is the unsung shero of adulthood.
There is nothing like sitting in a room and breathing the air of your people— the ones who know you and really see you, and see the parts of you that you forget to see—in the context of where you came from and holding the vision of where you are going.
People who know what you want to eat before you ask for it and what you want to wear instead of what you think you should wear and help solve in 5 minutes what you agonized about for weeks.
Friendship is a very essential part of the foundation of our becoming, but it can often take a backseat to everything else as we age.
Some of my happiest, deepest, and most nourishing moments this year were with friends, and I am so humbled by the extraordinary light they continue to bring to my life.
12. Following your bliss does not always feel like magic (And we have to stop perpetuating the myth that it does).
Sometimes bliss role-plays as extreme dissatisfaction.
Sometimes magic shows up as a storm of comparison and jealousy.
Sometimes living your purpose means eating a big bowl of doubt for breakfast.
The self-development world fabricates a fantastical notion that living the life of our dreams feels like the dreamy ecstasy of a resort commercial, but the long game of living a purpose-driven life means sometimes the big magic does not always look like daily magic and this absolutely doesn't mean we failed at our vision-boards or are in the wrong place.
13. The adventure begins when we let go of how it’s supposed to go.
(This will probably be on every new year’s list until I either die or stop writing them).
Best thing: Marrying the amazing Michael.
Most joyful experience: The 30 minutes of our wedding ceremony.
What I'm unwilling to repeat: Working consistent seven-day weeks. Signing contractors’ contracts without also having them sign a contract that includes my needs and requirements. Hiring out of desperation.
People who inspired me: Everyone who spoke truth to power, especially: Maxine Waters, Elijah Cummings, Ayana Pressley, Elizabeth Warren, Paola Mendoza.
My extraordinary clients and students—taking leaps and taking names and bravely going all in to their creative work while simultaneously learning how to be gentle with themselves as they go.
Visionary creators and brave women everywhere.
Best investments: Coaching. Learning. Orange Theory. Art. Glo app.
Daily ritual that makes the biggest difference: Writing in the morning before checking email or social media.
Art I loved:
SIX the musical
Hadestown the musical (and specifically Amber Grey's performance)
SHE SAID by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey
Every single exquisite minute of a private tour of The Musee Dorsee in Paris
Everything Lizzo Beating
We're Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby
Catherine Lacey's short story CUT
The movie BOMBSHELL.
Things I'm proudest of from the last decade: Developing a compassionate relationship with my body, taking risks in my creativity, and learning how to give and receive love.
What I'm ready to leave behind in the last decade:
Weird thing that doesn't go in a category but deserves a mention: The great discovery of the aqua desk!
1. See the halo.
Imagine a halo of light around everyone’s head, especially when they are pushing your buttons or chewing loudly.
Imagine, too, a halo of light around your head.
2. When you feel like the one who doesn’t belong, consider the possibility that everyone else might be feeling the same way.
What I have learned from over a decade of listening to other people's hearts is that nearly all of us spend time feeling like we are on the outside of a window looking in.
Seeing this in each other reminds us that separation does not make us special, and is a story we tell to root ourselves in the comfort of isolation.
We all want to belong to each other, and we all have the power to write a new story about our place in the world.
Once upon a time we realized we each felt weird and different but we decided to love each other anyway...
3. Create a "Power5". Or "Power15". Or "Power33".
In the midst of the bustle, reclaim a moment each day to do what makes you come alive. 5 minutes of singing. 15 minutes working on your project launch. 33 minutes of writing about your visions. One email to a new client or donor.
This is not about intensive work periods but a quick touchpoint to maintain your commitment--I am writing mine on a post-it--and we can all find an extra 5 minutes.
Amping up is easier than gearing up and objects (and magnificent humans) in motion will stay in motion—in some tiny way, touch into what you want more of before we begin the new year so you can amplify in January instead of starting from zero.
4. Remember the small scared wondrous child living at the center of everyone’s heart—including your own.
Remember this about the cashier who is moving slower than you want her to.
Remember this about your relative whose politics make you want to revoke the awesome present you bought them.
Remember this about yourself when you are 20 minutes into a family gathering and you feel unrecognizable from the fully-functioning, mature adult you believed yourself to be.
If you can, actually look at pictures of loved ones and yourself from childhood—remembering and envisioning these little ones make forgiveness more accessible.
5. Put a lid on expectations.
Get a mason jar with a lid. Label it "RELEASED EXPECTATIONS." Every time you realize you have an expectation about how you need someone else to act or behave, or an idea of how something is supposed to go, write it down, put it on the jar, screw the lid tight, and put the jar out of sight.
Who are you when you show up with no expectations?
I am convinced that releasing expectations (which is not the same as releasing hope, dreams, or needs) is one of the most sustaining and vibration-raising practices available to us.
(This one is extremely hard and next-level but I BELIEVE IN US).
6. You are here to evolve patterns—not repeat them.
Gravity pulls you toward the way things have always gone in your families and communities but you are courageously creating something new; discomfort and push back are signs you are doing what you were born to do.
7. Practice the art of the opt out
Old story: If I don't fulfill my obligations, I am an unworthy _______ (daughter, lover, father, friend, teacher...)
New story: Taking care of my own needs takes care of the people I love.
Opting out of activities you don’t feel inspired to do and taking care of your own needs is always an available option that takes you and everyone around you higher.
Opting out has nothing to do with your worthiness in your family or community.
Opting out with integrity is showing someone else in your orbit the sustaining--not selfish—practice of caring for ourselves.
8. Take a dance break and then try it again.
Dancing is a tonic for stuck-ness, tension, depression, worry, anger, and anxiety.
Dance to one song.
Put on music and take a bopping ten-minute walk.
This force of nature is my inspiration for dance breaks and everything else
5 minutes of moving your beautiful body is enough to change the energy significantly—go for good enough and see what happens.
9. Teach people how to feel about you
A great thing to say when people share unsolicited feedback about the timeline of your life, career, relationships, money, family-planning, or anything else is--
Actually I feel terrific about this timing and I can’t wait to see how it unfolds.
Even if you don’t feel 100% terrific you will teach them how to feel about you and simultaneously teach you how to feel about you.
Feedback is always about the other person, not you—most likely they will never learn to fully celebrate you as the exquisite nonlinear duck that you are. Do not waste your precious energy trying to crack the weird family hierarchy of approval! Their judgments push your buttons because they touch into some of your own doubt.
Claiming your process proudly will be a good exercise in stretching your confidence.
You accepting you is what matters.
10. Put your hand on your heart and say this with me:
"I am a creative courageous loving badass on the verge of my next big leap."
Depending on who we are spending time with or what kind of family we are blessed with, the Holidays can invoke fear and doubt about our life choices.
You are onto something, and I am not going to let you forget who you are and what you are doing here.
Repeat it while you are doing the dishes. Repeat it in the shower. Repeat it in traffic and invoke your next becoming into being.
11. You are not responsible for feeling other people’s feelings for them.
I'll say this again for all of my empath Sisters in the back—you are not responsible for feeling other people's feelings for them.
If you are like me, you need to tattoo this all over your body and write it everywhere you can see it.
Here are some simple practices for those of you who find it hard to know where your skin ends and others' begins:
More importantly—and this is a lesson I am working on right now—we are more capable of being of service when we exonerate ourselves from taking on others' emotional burdens.
12. Thank one person a day until January 1.
Make a list and write at the top: Who do I want to thank for bringing light to my life this year?
From now until January 1st, make one simple thank-you a day—in an email, a hand-written note, a voice memo, in person, in a poem, or another creative way of your choosing.
13. Warrior up.
Scarcity regularly shows up in feelings of worry, anxiety, and panic around feelings of not enough-ness.
The Holidays are a hotbed for this disease.
Commit to noticing where scarcity shows up--panic that the food will run out, worries that your gifts aren't fancy enough, anxiety that you will run out of time, fear that if you don't interrupt or keep talking you will never get to speak again, feeling like there is less for you when good things happen to other people, belittling your own life in comparison to your friends who are #lovinglife on Instagram.
The first step in eradicating scarcity is interrupting the pattern—noticing when and where it arises, naming it, and saying STOP.
Scarcity is a powerful story created by the patriarchal world culture.
We can choose to participate in it or we can warrior up and write a new story of abundance.
The Holidays are a beautiful opportunity to (imperfectly) explore the latter.
14. Drink water and other energizing liquids.
Water erodes resistance and is the literal embodiment of flow.
Drinking water helps when we are breaking through to something new.
In the winter I do fresh ginger, lemon, and honey with hot water before my coffee every morning.
It makes me feel alive and extremely proud of myself.
15. Make eye contact and breathe before you speak.
Eye contact + a 4 count inhale-exhale before you speak is a useful tool to feel less judged and do less judging.
Inhale I am.
Exhale I am blessed.
16. Your darkness is stunning.
I will keep say it forever until we change our thoughts about big feelings--
Your tears are blessings.
Your anger is fire.
Your grief sets us free.
Only robots don't feel darkness.
Most of us are not in families where we want to, or can, share the full truth of our emotional lives. But we must find trusted spaces and chosen families who embrace the full scope of who we are and what we feel.
17. Give the world what you want the most.
If you are feeling blue, surprise someone with an unexpected delight.
If you are feeling scarce, buy the coffee for the person behind you in line.
If you are feeling lonely, offer a consensual hug.
18. We are all baby bunnies.
Remember that everyone (including you) is a baby bunny doing the best they can—love them so unbelievably hard anyway.
Mother Theresa says--if you judge people, you have no time to love them.
It's nearly impossible to judge baby bunnies.
You don't need all 18 ideas on this list, but you might need one.
Let your intuition guide you to what you need today, gently bring it into your life, and let the rest go.
I'd love to know how it goes, and I want you to know that I am rooting for you along every leap of this nonlinear path.
If, like me, you become a bit panicky as you feel the shorter days, impending darkness, and the loss of your multiple-walks-per-day-happiness regimen, I invite you to join me in my strategy for fall (and forever):
Be the light.
Start the fire.
(Sometimes I am a walking slogan, okay!)
But it is creative flow, and the ways in which it intersects with others—more than praise or recognition—that genuinely and sustainably lights us up from the inside out.
There are 97 days left in the year and what I most want to know is:
What will you create?
Maybe you will...
Establish a morning routine that doesn’t involve checking Instagram before you get out of bed
Shoot the music video that is haunting your dreams
Organize an event for a cause close to your heart
Launch the podcast that the world needs
Write the book proposal you said you would write last year
Edit & polish your pilot treatment so you can finally send it to that person who asked for it
Develop your signature talk and don’t stop until you get it booked
Start the weekly Instagram show you can’t stop thinking about
Create a new offering for your clients that you can’t wait to deliver
Reach out to 100 people who need to know about your extraordinary new project
Show up for the movement practice your body has been calling for
I am captain of the team of people who want to do ALL. OF. THE. THINGS.
(Hands up, all my co-captains out there).
Multi-faceted people are a vital force in our shifting world, but we must be rigorous with structures that allow us to bring work to graceful completion.
The best thing that works for me and my clients is to choose short, focused sprints (I call them leaps) where we can go ALL IN.
Can you select the ONE thing that matters most?
Let’s be clear that choosing only one leap to focus on right now does not mean you have chosen to be only one thing in your life. It does not even mean that you have only goal. It simply means you are clear about what matters most.
Creating excellent work of substance takes tremendous time and energy, and to do so, we have to learn to place some of our passions, ideas, and identities on the back-burner while we focus on the project at hand.
Who you become as you bring each project to completion is exactly the person you need to be to launch into the next one.
Here are five rules (& practices) to support your process:
#1--The Rule: SHOW UP
Duh. I know. But the truth is that you will do everything you can to avoid doing the work you most desire to do when there is no one asking you for it.
And—most likely, you experience a cacophony of voices and forces demanding you attend to their desires.
If you identify as a woman, POC, LGBTQ+, or as a member of any other marginalized community, you are fighting centuries of systems and conditioning reinforcing the idea that your creative contributions are generally less valuable, and that what you have to say, make, or do with your time is less important than responding to the needs of others.
Showing up for our creative work is no small potatoes, and, for some of us—a revolution.
And it’s beyond time.
#2—The RULE: Turn off the noise
Here are some of the most common “noises” (inner and outer) that inhibit our work:
The noise is big.
The noise is not your fault.
But you must do absolutely everything in your power to make the sound of your creative voice louder than the noise.
Before you begin a creative work session, put your devices on airplane mode, set a timer for 3 minutes and let yourself write out every single fear, doubt, piece of angst, story of being an imposter, and trashy thought or idea that is standing in your beautiful way.
Then put that paper in the recycling bin.
Take a breath, shake out your body, and release some sound and any remaining sludge keeping you from your brilliance.
Take 3 more breaths to invite in all your inner and outer support.
Do your work.
My friend, author Sarah Selecky, wrote an exquisitely helpful piece on Digital Minimalism. My most important boundary with the digital world = no email or social media before I have written for at least 33 minutes in the morning.
#3—The RULE: Tell the truth
I adore the magic of helping people develop aligned, creative, and ethical strategies to amplify and become more visible with their work.
If the work lacks truth, the strategy will never work.
Great work involves taking the lid off and telling the truth.
We are afraid to tell the truth because we are afraid we will feel unsafe if we do—because this person or that person from our past will not like us or accept us, or because we will feel embarrassed or uncomfortable.
But embarrassment is a prerequisite to dynamic creative work.
And telling the truth is what moves people.
Do a free write, draw, or dance on any/all of these prompts... What am I holding back? What does my inner creator want to say? What stories or questions am I obsessed with? Where do I feel this in my body?
Make a commitment to taking the lid off in your work, and remind yourself that you have the capacity and strength to deal with what happens when you do.
If you feel stuck on the blocks, work with a therapist, coach, or energy worker to help you clear what is in the way. Sometimes one conversation can change everything.
#4—The RULE: Forgive yourself
If you have ever taught, coached, or guided a young person, you know that no substantial growth or learning happens when the child is in a place of shame.
The same is true for us.
When we make a commitment to any new endeavor, one of the most essential and often forgotten steps is to forgive ourselves, so that our creative parts feel welcome and invited to show up for the process.
Perhaps this is about letting go of an old dream, a sticky collaboration that didn’t have closure, or when it didn't work out the last time.
Ask yourself: What do I need to forgive, in order to forge ahead?
Then, for everything you wrote, put your hand on your heart, and say the Hawaiian Hoʻoponopono prayer to yourself:
Thank you. I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me.
Write this (or any other words of forgiveness that appeal to you) on a post-it and put it where you can see it. Then say it and forgive yourself as often as you need to throughout your creative process.
#5—The RULE: Be open to what comes up
Do you ever notice yourself saying:
I am absolutely willing to go all in as long as I can guarantee it will go WELL (and that every single person and their mother and their cat will like me when I do it).
Oh nelly. ME TOO!
But nothing creative or interesting happens when we know the outcome.
The quality of your work (and life) is directly proportional to your willingness to dive headfirst into the unknown.
We become so obsessed with results, that we oppress our greatest creative energy with our need to get it right, and be perfect right away.
But having the bravery to go through the uncertainty, mystery and doubt fertilizes your instincts, and makes way for the inspired flashes of 'ahas' and 'I do knows.'
Today, make the brave decision to be open to all possible outcomes in your work. Summon willingness to open up to the magic of what can evolve when you fling yourself into the life and breath of creative process.
It will help to get clear with yourself about what stage of process you are in--the generative stage, the editing/shaping stage, the packaging/shipping stage, or the marketing/amplification stage—and do your best to honor the stage you are in without trying to simultaneously be in another one.
Maybe you whisper to yourself:
I can't wait to see how this unfolds...
Most likely you do not need all of these rules right now, but I have a hunch you may need at least one. And DO NOT be fooled by their simplicity!
Truly honoring these rules will...
As long as you are willing to go all in…
I want us to become so distracted by the light of our creative process this fall, that we simply can’t be bothered by Holiday overwhelm.
I want us to become addicted to folllowing-through and the resevoir of self-trust that begins to form as a result.
I want my inbox and DMs to flood with messages in December, telling me about the fire you are building, and, most importantly, the person you are becoming in building it.
I am going to be doing a free Facebook Live on Monday, September 30th (Here on this page) at 4pm PT / 7pm ET to teach more in depth on these five rules, and answer any questions about your projects and process this fall.
I would love to connect with you and hear about what you are working on!
You can also head over to my Instagram and tell me in the comments of my most recent post what you are committing to this fall, or hit reply to this email. I read everything you write to me and I care about your process.
You are 1000 percent onto something.
And I can't wait to see the sparks.
Dear anyone who is NOT feeling it today,
To take this picture we laid down in a vineyard, in the rain, in a sort of pilates boat pose so we wouldn’t mess up our hair and then tried to look relaxed.
In the moment I was anxious, angsty, annoyed, and doubtful—only later when we saw this magical shot was I elated.
Our photographer Megan Allen is a genius and took this shot so we can put it on our wall and so people can rightly gush over its beauty but I think she also took it to remind us that we will not always feel magical when we are making magic.
We wake up to write and we are grumpy.
We go to a meeting for something we thought we cared about and suddenly we care zero percent and are annoyed with everybody we once loved.
We head to our supposed HAPPY place — time with our children, a studio, a beach — but we get there and we feel quietly depressed and lost.
All of a sudden your bliss, the one magic you thought you could count on is eclipsed by a dark stirring within. you second-guess everything, you feel like nothing matters and so you think:
If I really loved or was meant for _______ (insert activity / person / pathway formally known as YOUR BLISS) then I wouldn’t feel so ________ (insert painfully uncomfortable FEELING).
Joseph Campbell says follow your bliss, which is right, like...OVERALL.
But your bliss—or, as the Japanese would say, your Ikigai —your reason for being—doesn’t always look like what it sounds.
Sometimes your bliss role-plays as extreme dissatisfaction.
Sometimes your magic shows up as a storm of comparison and jealousy.
Sometimes your ikigai means you eat a big bowl of doubt for breakfast.
So here’s to you, playing the long game, letting the wide river of your courage sing louder than an afternoon rainstorm of feelings. To getting up and doing it anyway, feeling the opposite of magical some days so your future self can look back and say: “thank you, brave one.”
The theme of the summer is magic, but sometimes magic does not always look like magic and I think it’s good to be honest about this.
I believe in you (even when you aren’t feeling it).
Photo by Megan Allen of Studio 22 Photography
We. did. the. thing.
After nearly a year of inspiring collaborations, ambitious visions, and healthy(ish?) doses of stress and anxiety, I am exceptionally proud to share that Michael and I are now married humans.
Our wedding was an experience beyond what I could have ever imagined.
It rained, it stopped raining, it rained again, it rainbow-ed, and then the sun made a surprise entrance in the middle of the ceremony that we couldn’t have directed better if we tried.
We had about 7 different plans that changed 7 different times up until 7 minutes before go time about where it would be and where we would face and how we should probably go lie down in a vineyard and take photos in the rain and should people eat appetizers before or after because maybe the sun would get the hint if we planned it just right?
We make beautiful plans and then they change and we experience a more beautiful kind of beauty we could never have anticipated.
Doesn't it feel like the quality of our life is determined by how we show up in the spaces between those shifts and changes—what tone of voice we use when we switch to plan B and how we treat other people when we are actually going with plan Z and can we still locate our bodies and make a breath or two in the midst of all of the muchness?
Mostly I feel like I am at the beginning of the greatest adventure with the most extraordinary man and I cry every five minutes at the wonder of it all.
NOW...Let's talk about Act TWO of 2019.
Sam Cartagena, Publicist and Founder of Ambition & Mischief, interviewed me for Mischief Makers—an interview series focused on creative women and their entrepreneurial journey — and I am sharing the answers below.
Then, you can listen to this audio recording of me interviewing Sam about being your own PR genius and mindful marketing.
who are you?
I am a creator.
I write, speak, teach, direct, and coach on the creative process, becoming seen, heard, and known, and elevated and alive performance. I founded The Collective for Women Creators. I believe we are all miracles who forget we are miracles and that we were not born for boxes. I am dedicated to building a future we can't wait to wake up to and bringing more three-dimensional women-driven stories, leadership teams, and art into the world.
what exciting projects are you working on right now?
We are currently working on a big expansion of The Collective. I am building an online course that will be released this fall. I am working on a book and directing my 72-year-old Dad in an experimental autobiographical cabaret.
Also, I am about to get married.
A little book of inspiration, frameworks, and guidance for your next creative project.