(these were taken right after someone dared me to eat a cricket)
Today is my birthday.
I am feeling exquisitely grateful, strong, and— in more moments than not—as though most anything is possible and that there is exciting, coherence between who I am and who I want to be.
A few years ago, on a birthday when I...uh...wasn’t feeling quite as bright -- by this I mean I spent all day crying in my pajamas, wandering around the house feeling sorry for myself and watching episodes from the 4th season of The West Wing for the 20th time — I wrote a list of dares for my life.
It’s now an official annual tradition that I look forward to every year. I love that I have these lists as records of my life. I hope I will look back when I am 103 in my gold mumu and think that I was at least a little bit brave.
The rule is that every dare either has to take my breath away, bring tears to my eyes, or make me want to leap up and start now.
I love dares because:
Dares are a cornerstone of how I encourage myself and others to rise, and I find them to be more inspiring, sustaining, and effective than traditional goal-setting.
(I still use traditional goal-setting periodically, but dares are more connected to our intuition and spirit and act as a compass to keep project-planning aligned with what fulfills us instead of what impresses other people.)
Revisiting last year’s list, I was amazed at the alignment between what I wrote and what happened — not in all the ways, of course, because that would be boring and predictable — but I actually did much of what I had written down.
To do what we say we are going to do—THAT is a sexy thing.
Especially because I tend to get caught up in my tiny terrorist’s ineffective "coaching" methods that go like:
You are terrible at execution.
You suck at follow-through.
You will never be great until you are completely organized and systemized in all areas of your life...
(Blah blah blah, insert your own story that keeps you stuck in disapproval of yourself if you want to feel along with me here.)
But then I looked at last year’s list and compared it to what had actually happened in the year, and thought:
There is no way this list belongs to someone who is bad at execution and follow-through.
And there I was in a WHOLLY moment--
A rare moment of grace when you realize you are not as behind as you thought you were, not as small as the little voice in your head has been telling you you are, and more whole than you feel.
Wholly moments feel like much-needed space in our body.
Wholly moments tell us it is time to write a new story.
Which brings me to the part about the lobsters.
You may or may not know that lobsters shed their shells and seek newer, better-fitting shells several times throughout their lifecycle.
The heart and soul of the lobster—GO WITH ME HERE—stays the same, but the lobster periodically leaves its hard, inflexible shell to find a more capacious shell suitable for its current stage of growth.
The stories we tell ourselves are like lobster shells. They cauterize as we develop a comfort in telling them. To grow as big as we were born to be, we have to update and create new personal narratives so that they’re in alignment with who we are today on our way to who we are becoming — not who we were before.
A solid recipe for expansion is to write a new story and then grow into the person who belongs to it.
The thing I’m learning about my personal brand of execution and follow-through is that it doesn’t look like neat weekly deliverables, or 3-months-in-advance-perfectly-scheduled everything (like the Facebook Ads tell me my systems are “supposed” to be like if I’m really going to make something of myself).
Like the bird who runs into the glass window she didn't know was there — smack! — I come up against a lesson of my life:
The adventure begins when we let go of how it’s “supposed” to go.
The way other people are doing it does not necessarily look like the way that will work best for me.
This is all okay. We are okay.
Spring calls on us to shed the shells that are no longer serving our purpose.
Today, I am leaving some old stories behind to make room for...
35 Dares for my 35th Year:
I am sharing them with you this year to:
If you feel inspired, I dare you to make your own list. The number you write does not matter—you can write as many as your age, or one, or 100.
This is vulnerable and very much puts us on the hook, but I have found no better system of accountability than to tell a community you care about who you intend to become.
35 Dares for my 35th Year
I am smiling.
I am simultaneously thrilled and a bit terrified.
The Tiny Terrorist screams:
Who do you think you are??
Sharing this with everyone!
This is too much! You are too much!
What if you don't do it??
You are setting yourself up for failure!
I do my best to share exactly what I hear in my head so you can start recognizing a similar voice in YOU that is very much NOT you, but the arrival of which, though unpleasant—is great news.
The Tiny Terrorist shows up exactly when we are approaching meaningful transformation and next-level challenges worthy of our time and energy.
Fear, doubt, and resistance are markers on the path to our next becoming – signs telling us to keep going.
If the voice in your head is loud, it means you are onto something.
What are your dares for you?
I dare you to put on a fun playlist (Try THIS or THIS), and don't think too hard and just DO it.
If you’ve been feeling any kind of stuckness or lack of inspiration, my hope is that writing this list may spark movement.
We read books and search for mentors to help us figure out where to go, who to be, and what to do, but I believe you actually know many of those answers when you dare yourself to spend 15 minutes telling yourself the truth about what you really want.
After you make the list you have a more refined compass to point you toward resources, people, and specific pathways that can fortify your courage and specifically enhance your vision.
A double dare is to hit reply to this email, or, even better, head over to my Instagram and tell me at least one of your dares (feel free to borrow one or any of mine!) or share with your community using the hashtag #idareme. Tag me in anything you post so I can cheer you on and get to know more of you and your story.
I look forward to seeing what emerges for you and the ripples it inevitably catalyzes; as Billy Graham and, now, apparently the entire internet says — courage is contagious.
Here's to shedding shells, telling new stories, and doing the next brave thing.
ps // I recently spoke on a panel at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation called "It's All About Who You Know" alongside some brilliant creatives. You can watch it HERE.
and, this is 35:
A little book of inspiration, frameworks, and guidance for your next creative project.