I love the magical liminal space in the week before New Year's. Not quite the last year, and not quite the next, I find a usefulness in the threshold of this week - a powerful in-between vantage point to see what's been and what's coming with fresh and curious eyes.
I spent some time this week gathering reflections on this wild year, an annual ritual which felt especially essential right now.
I was surprised by what came up, perhaps because of how connected my own tiny life, decisions, and developments have felt to our experience as a collective, and perhaps because I never would have expected to be talking about most of what is on this list at the beginning of last year.
As we step into the hustle of resolutions and goals and plans, I like this reminder to surrender to the mystery of unfolding. Oddly, an exceptionally hard year has softened and, in many ways, freed me. Emboldened by what has emerged, I invoked the courage to inaugurate a new ritual of sharing my reflections with you.
Dear the 3 year-old-yous, and the 14-year-old yous, and the 19-year-old-yous, and the right now yous who have been assaulted or harassed and who in some way did not have access to your full personal power and vibrancy due to unforgiveable abuse, assault, and behaviors: of all the things to be heart-broken about, I am perhaps most heart-broken by the collective life force and creative energy that you may have lost.
Every time I see one of your "me, too"s (or imagine the "me, toos" that might not be able to join the chorus right now) I wonder what your "me" would have had the bandwidth for had you not been carrying these horrific experiences around with you like dead, stunting, paralyzing weight you may or may not know was clinging to your body, mind, and spirit.
A few weeks ago, I started to get reminders from the interwebs, helpfully pointing out that there were less than three months in 2017, wondering how I was doing with my goals and if I was on track to slaying and crushing and 10X-ing by the end of the year.
All of a sudden I look at my life and feel bad that I haven't been crushing or 10-xing.
Sometime between the ages of three and four, I developed an alter ego named Sally Kimball.
By alter ego I mean I actually spent a period of my time showing up in the world as her, demanding that people call me Sally (which came out as ''Thally' due to a not-so-subtle lisp), and sitting at my play desk like it was her big fancy office.
**CLICK HERE to download the (free) "Becoming Bold" guide that supports this post**
This is a story about how the actions of our 45th President jolted me into alignment, catalyzed bold action in my life, and inspired a study of courage.
It is October, 2016, the day after the Billy Bush tape was released to the general public. I am at a hot yoga class, because I feel lost and sick and in great need of something… alignment? Healing? A prayer?
As it did for so many of us, listening to the tape deeply affected me and I had replayed it over a dozen times since its release. Every time I listened to it I felt sweeping pain, constriction and anger in my body, but, obsessed, I couldn't stop myself from hitting repeat. Just a few minutes before coming into class, I had replayed it once again on the subway.
As I wait for the teacher to begin class, I find myself in the mirror (because where else do you look in a hot yoga class?) and begin the usual litany of All The Wrong And Unsatisfactory Things.
This is a routinized practice, just like the laying out of my towel and mat and the tying back of my hair. I can't seem to help myself; the behavior is so ingrained that I don't even know I'm doing it.
But that day was different.
My Tiny Terrorist launched into the usual:
Shoulders are uneven…why is your hair so flat??? Too bad your skin isn’t as glowing and youthful as the woman next to you. Speaking of the woman next to you she looks very successful and like she’s accomplished a lot in her short life. Her alumni magazines probably write long articles about her. Just like your friend on Facebook who seems to be winning at life and who has all the great outfits. YOU, on the other hand...
When all of a sudden -
A most beloved story from my childhood that my mother loves to tell and I love to hear is the day I came home from Church with my Dad and asked:
"Mommy, is there a HER book, too?"
I love this story not only because it contains the seeds of a future feminist and mission to make more space for female voices, but also because it reminds me of what it feels like to be wholly curious.
I remember being four and in the car and asking the question - or perhaps I’ve created a memory after hearing the story so many times - but I can access the muscle memory of what it’s like to wonder about something without any judgment.
And I am becoming more and more interested in how we can wonder about our own lives, instead of judge them.
1. Following your intuition is the most important thing.
2. Creating a legacy of risk-taking is profoundly more energizing and productive than trying to be liked by everyone. Courage is a muscle that must be regularly exercised. (The Courageous15, a companion project to the #Creative15 will be happening later this summer. Stay tuned for details...:)
3. The part you want to crop out of the picture is the most beautiful part of the picture. The parts you are embarrassed about are the most interesting parts of who you are, usually have the most value for other people, and make the best art.
Following our inner guidance may feel risky and frightening at first, because we are no longer playing it safe, doing what we 'should' do, pleasing others, following rules, or deferring to outside authority.
I received a visit from my future self this week. As usual, she yoked me into alignment with who I am, how I want to live, and what really matters.
You know, just those small things... :)
It all started because I downloaded the FaceApp.
Whatever inspiration is, it’s born from a continuous ‘I don’t know.’
Once upon a time she was writing and working and working and writing and she still couldn't figure out where she was going.
Her chest was tight with panic that wouldn't subside because knowing where you’re going and how you’re going to get there is both a superior and comforting way to feel.
The Tiny Terrorist inside of her head told her that until she knew exactly what it was going to be and how it was going to turn out, she would never have a chance at being good and it would really be a much better idea to quit right now, and, REALISTICALLY speaking, if she can’t do this, then she can’t do anything.
The deadline loomed; her stomach flipped.
Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose.
As I was hard at work on a long and (overdue) blogpost that wasn't finding its stride, I was interrupted with an important message for you sent from your Artist/Inner Creative:
KEEP MAKING THE ART THAT IS IN YOUR HEART
Immediately after, I received this from the Statue of the Liberty:
KEEP FIGHTING FOR LOVE
(If you don’t think you are a person who has an Artist/Inner Creative living inside of you, let me assure that YOU DO. Your art = your unique gifts)
(Regardless of where you live and who you are, the Statue of Liberty says SHE LOVES YOU)
(if you’re wondering how I received these messages - that's a story for another day:)
I dropped the other post because sometimes we have to let go of our plans in order to make way for what needs to happen. We are in uncanny times and there is no time to waste. What I want to address today is how we can stay committed to our creative work and path while also staying politically engaged. This issue is coming up for many of you - as it is for me - read on for resources, strategies, and ideas on how to do this.
I always feel a bit of magic in the liminal nature of this week before New Year's. Not quite the last year, and not quite the next, there seems to be a usefulness in the threshold of this week - a powerful in-between vantage point to see what's been and what's coming with fresh and curious eyes.
To me, it feels like traveling to a foreign country and looking back at my life in America with an objectivity not usually available in the hustle and bustle of my life.
If you, too, are taking a break from the wild news cycle, and taking a moment to look at what's happened, what is, and what's next in your life, here are 9 questions to accompany that reflection and visioning.
These questions are meant to be meditated on, to spark insight, and give you new openings into who you are and who you are becoming.
Between the stress of holiday shopping, the exhausting self-improvement messages of the approaching New Year, beautiful-but-oh-so-triggering-family-time, and the deep tumult of the divided world, I pause to wonder:
Where is grace?
I failed at my most important goal in 2016, but that failure has turned into a small but mighty challenge in early 2017 to start the year with a surge of creative energy and, hopefully, make space for some much-needed grace. I'm deeply excited about this and I hope you will join us.
Two questions that have been surfacing for many these past few weeks:
How do I keep going?
Why even bother__________ (taking action, writing the play, making the film, giving the talk, singing the song, pioneering the intersection of two things that involve a verb you will invent...)?
Yet you and I both know that these questions aren't unique to the current moment.
You and I both know that this current moment is merely igniting the doubt that's always there.
You may know that doubt to be a not-so-welcome-ever-present-companion in your pursuit of what matters most.
But what if these doubts are guideposts telling you that you are headed in the right direction?
What if the moment you want to give up is the moment you must keep going?
Invisible | in·vis·i·ble | in-ˈvi-zə-bə | (adj) =
hidden, impossible to see, withdrawn, inaccessible to view
Are you choosing to be invisible?
Historically, I've been a pro at invisibility. Growing up as the shyest kid I knew, hiding (literally or metaphorically) from people, situations, and experiences was one of my strongest suits.
Being invisible feels comfortable. It keeps us from getting hurt, it prevents us from being a human being with needs and desires, and it shields us from the terrifying possibility that we could, actually, be great.
But if greatness is our destiny, we must train ourselves to be keenly aware of when we are conspiring in our own diminishment. We do this so we can change the game.
I am walking through a desert with a large and heavy piano strapped to my back.
My progress is slow and the strain is immense, but I attempt to walk forward, effortfully - nearly impossibly.
Suddenly, a voice booms from the atmosphere:
WHY ARE YOU CARRYING THE PIANO?
I stop, confounded - unable to speak an answer because I realize I don’t know what it is.
Then the voice again:
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO CARRY THE PIANO.
LET GO OF THE PIANO, AND YOU WILL BE FREE
Paralyzed, I do nothing. Then: I wake up.
Finish this sentence without thinking:
If I had an amazing mentor, I would: ________________________
From my own experience and that of my students and clients, I’ve learned that many of us feel that if we had a great mentor we would:
Putting things off is the biggest waste of life: it snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future…What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately. Seneca, 4 BCE – 65CE
I’ve heard it hypothesized that we might orient our lives differently if we walked around with the number of days we have left to live inscribed on our foreheads–
That perhaps a constant reminder of the preciousness of our lives might spark us into living more deeply and meaningfully, more awake and alive.
When I envision this I am terrified.
I am electrified.
I zoom straight to my center, wondering: am I living a meaningful life?
In the midst of figuring out how to respond to the deep turmoil happening in so many parts of the world right now, I have been thinking a great deal about a different kind of turmoil -the private kind that wages wars between our ears and inside of our rib cages.
The kind that can be as constant a companion in our own daily existence as a TV that stays on in a house all day, every day.
For me, July is a month of resparking.
(Yes! I invented that word!)
Today I’m sharing this process, because I want you to be over the moon about what you accomplish and how you show up for the rest of 2016.
The good news is, a short moment now to check-in will allow you to move forward with more acceleration, flow, and fulfillment for the next six months.
I once saw a cartoon that shows a guy standing at the foot of Mount Everest. He's staring in awe at a secret, hidden stairway that's been built into the backside of the mountain. It leads straight up to the peak. The sign next to it says: LITTLE-KNOWN ENTRANCE.
I believe that bold conversations = a little-known entrance to the things we want.
Furthermore, since we know that confidence is a muscle that is the result (not the catalyst) for taking courageous action, making bold or uncomfortable conversations a habit - regardless of the outcomes - is like cross-fit for your confidence muscle.
A mentor of mine says:
A short zen story:*
Once upon a time there was a king whose people had grown soft and entitled. Dissatisfied, he hoped to teach them a lesson.
His plan was to place a boulder in the middle of the main road, completely blocking entry into the city. He would then hide nearby and observe their reactions.
The king watched as subject after subject came to the boulder and turned away. Or, at best, tried, meekly, before giving up.
Many openly complained or cursed the king or fortune or bemoaned the inconvenience, but none managed to do anything about it.
After several days, a peasant came along on his way into town. He did not turn away from the boulder, but, instead, strained and strained, trying to push it out of the way.
He was unsuccessful, but, then, an idea came: He scrambled to the woods to find something he could use for leverage. Finally, he turned with a large branch he had crafted into a lever and deployed it to dislodged the massive rock from the road.
Beneath the rock were a purse of gold coins and a note from the king, which said:
2016 has been big for me, filled with change, new developments, and challenges. Some highlights include:
and there has ALSO been doubt, struggle, and slog.
(sometimes a lot)
While it's wonderful to celebrate what's going well (we can't build on success we don't acknowledge), I'm also reminded how necessary these less-than-exhilarating feelings are to any creative process worth our time and energy.
Whether you're wanting to plan the next phase of your career, start a business, finish your pilot, book next-level work, create your own show, assemble your dream team - I've compiled 5 big ideas from my learning this year in the hopes that they may create some resonance and forward momentum for you, wherever you are on your creative journey.
A little book of inspiration, frameworks, and guidance for your next creative project.