On Dream Crashers – Giving Up Before You Start

It’s always scariest before you take the first step.

Making a career shift, starting a business, or re-entering the work force after a break is a daunting task. I’ve made some major smart (and lucky) moves and also made several pretty rookie mistakes (even when I was long past the newbie phase). You can probably learn the most from my dumb choices – I did.

Here’s one thing I see over and over with clients and I’ve done it myself too. Fear and overwhelm stopping a goal before it begins. Here’s the thing, before you make that life-changing risky move, there are literally 100’s of steps between where you are today and that major step – most of which aren’t risky at all.

Whether you want to write the next great YA novel, start your own business, head up an NGO or have no clue what you want, there are hundreds of micro steps to take before quitting your day job.

Zero risk involved. ZERO.

…other than allowing yourself to dream and plan and spending as little as 5-15 minutes a day to make it happen.

Try it. Take five minutes today and allow yourself to dream about what your ideal work would look like, what problems you would solve or what you’d love to create. Write it down. Savor it all day and this is important – keep it to yourself – for now. xo

 

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When Life is Not for the Fainthearted

I was heading on a family vacation where our biggest stressor was how to bring all the bikes over to the island with limited bike rack slots.

Then my Uncle died, he was ill but sooner than expected.

A friend texted that her dad was in the hospital.

Walking my pooch and a man grabbed his barking dog as we passed – a little too aggressively.

And the tenuous state of our US democracy …well.

I texted back my friend whose dad was in the hospital…

LIFE though, it is not for the fainthearted sometimes. 

She agreed. So what do you do?

You send your family off on vacation and will join them later so you can attend your uncle’s wake, even though you are not sure it will be of comfort to anyone. And then you see another Uncle, who you love so much and you hold hands and chat and wish you saw him more. And you talk to your sister in the parking lot who always has been there for you, literally since the day you were born.

You take the night shift at your dad’s bed side and stay when it turns into a 23 hours.

You make a call to adopt a dog and hug your own pooch a little tighter.

And you send a text to your Senator. And you hope and you pray that freedom wins.

And yes, you walk on the beach and feel grateful for the beauty. And blessed for friends who get it and family who you know are there for you always, and kids, now teens who are your heart.

And you love life anyway…

You don’t do everything and what you do is never enough. But you do something…One thing anyway. Over and over.

And you still you love life anyway …even enough to dream bold dreams when you feel like you may be fainthearted… because you aren’t. At least not today.

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Journaling Prompts to Focus Your Activism

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. -Harriet Tubman

 

The Resistance has been in high gear since millions of women join forces in January to officially stand up for what we believe in and stand with those that are most vulnerable under the current administration. That may seem like a long time ago and although we have had some victories, there have also been setbacks and being asked to do so much in the midst of our family and work commitments, has left many of us feeling weary.

If this sounds like you, take a few minutes using these journal prompts to be intentional about how you want to focus your activism. This is the perfect time of year, to take a step back as there are an infinite number of important options, but without intentionally considering and deciding on a direction, you may be weighed down by too much activity or a lack of fulfillment in how you are spending your time. Although developed specifically for Activist activities, they can be applied to other areas of your life as well: 

    1. Make a list of the local or world issues, problems or subjects are most important to you? (e.g., voter suppression and GOTV, Russian election interference, environment, immigration, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, civil rights, healthcare, etc.)
    2. Now look at your list. Is there one that you feel called to? Or one that when looking back in five years it would be most important for you to have contributed? Or one that you feel is most urgent? Circle it.
    3. Optionally, are there particular skills that you can offer to support or lead the Resistance in this area? (e.g., writing, legal counsel, etc.) Or is there one particularly group that you feel connected to and committed to?
    4. Write down your one issue and/or the one skill, activity or group you’ve included. (e.g., My issue the Environment and focusing on the Environmental Voters Project; GOTV and helping to flip the Congress in 2018; Women’s empowerment and AWE) Decide how much time each day (or week) you’ll commit to your issue over the summer. 5 minutes or 5 hours, you decide.
    5. Write down one activity or group that you can QUIT (yes! quit!). You’ll be much more productive and impactful with focus.
    6. Name one self-care activity you will also commit to. It can be a creative pursuit, running, binge watching Netflix, or you name it.
    7. Your one area of focus doesn’t preclude you from helping out on other campaigns or activities when you can. Type “RESIST” to 504-09 for an easy way to fax a note to your Senators and Representatives anytime.)

 

Click here for ideas for taking up space in your own life

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12 Ways to Take Up Space in Your Busy Life

 

If you don’t choose how you spend your time, someone else will spend it for you.

Author Unknown

Here are some ideas for taking up space in your own life – with your voice and your time.

 

  1. Pick one thing. If you are an activist and volunteer contributing to so many activities that you feel ineffective and tired, take a step back and choose one activity or organization that you focus on. That’s your commitment. All other activities are optional. Go here for a simple process to pick your one issue.
  2. Quit meetings for a month. Instead of going to volunteer meetings, try practicing connection and contribution while you go about your daily activities. Live up to your responsibility as a human, but look for those opportunities throughout your ordinary day
  3. Express gratitude for one way you take up space today. It doesn’t matter how big or small it seems; identify one way that you express who you are in your life right now.
  4. Make time for brief moments of solitude. Even just a few minutes during the day can help you connect to yourself rather than being caught up in outside forces.
  5. Ask the Big Questions. Begin consciously considering what you want your life to be about, what your passions are, and what you would regret not pursuing. The answers to these questions should drive how you spend your time.
  6. Quit. If you are too busy to pursue what is most meaningful to you (or to take the time to figure out what that is), something has got to go. Evaluate your current optional commitments; begin by cutting out those that drain you.
  7. Create art. Buy a small journal or notebook just for self-expression. It will be one of the best purchases you will ever make. Spend even one minute a day writing or drawing a picture. No directions required.
  8. Make a Rote Response Card. Sometimes we end up compromising who we are because it is hard to say no. Write down on a small card your response to requests for your time or an opinion you are not prepared to give. Doesn’t have to be eloquent—“Huh, I’ll have to think about that and let you know” works.
  9. Initiate juicy, meaningful conversations in unlikely places. Shake things up…be determined to bring big ideas or something you are passionate about into sidelines conversation or while waiting in line at Starbucks. This is life-changing and I guarantee you will feel empowered and see humans differently when you do this regularly.
  10. Re-connect to a childhood passion. Think about what you loved to do as a kid as it can be a clue to your truest expressions.
  11. Express your uniqueness daily. Create a daily practice of doing or saying something that expresses you without regard to its popularity or commonality. It can be an expression of a core value, as simple as a wardrobe choice, or declining a social engagement that will leave you feeling drained.
  12. Make time to do absolutely nothing. Schedule time with no agenda other than to do whatever you want in that moment.

 

 

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Take 5

Taking up space is meant to be fun and freeing not a burdensome addition to your to-do list. Start by choosing one of the ideas above or try this favorite of mine: 

Give yourself room to play. Schedule a date with yourself to do something outside of your normal routine that expresses who you are or simply makes you feel a little giddy. Take photos in the city; Pretend you’re a screenwriter and spend the morning jotting down the characters in your movie; Grab a sketchbook and make a graffiti design; Research an EarthWatch expedition; Go for a run in a strange town…or you name it. 

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Six Important Habits for Empowering Your Daughter

Always remember you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars and change the world.”  – Harriet Tubman

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Originally appeared on sheheroes.org. 

We all want our daughters to be the real-life super girl they were meant to be – confident, believing they can accomplish whatever they set their mind to. For a time, when they are really young this seems to be easy, almost effortless. So much so, that sometimes we secretly wish they weren’t quite so eager to take the world by storm. Have you ever met a toddler that wasn’t self-possessed?

As they grow, though, ensuring our daughter feels empowered takes serious, conscious effort – particularly in a culture where she is bombarded at ever younger ages with the script that what really matters are not her achievements and character, but rather what size skinny jeans she wears. Media messages that most often relegate females to a role of passivity – awaiting rescue – rather than taking action to determine her destiny.

So what do we do? How do parents that are over-the-top crazy about their daughters ensure that they hold onto and develop that natural super-girl within? Over the last few years, I have interviewed countless tweens and teens to get a window into girlhood. And these young women have a lot to teach us about how to raise our daughters. Based on those conversations, research, and my personal experience as a mama to two, here are just a few power habits to get you started:

  1. Focus on intellect and work ethic.  Lisa Bloom, Author of Think, has a magical way of interacting with girls that she meets for the first time. Rather than making a comment about how pretty her dress is, she asks her new friend what she is reading. It’s a good thing, of course, to tell your daughter (or son) that they are beautiful. Just be sure to spend 10x more effort noticing how hard she is working at conquering that math problem.
  2. Regularly solicit her opinion. Create a girl that is confident about her opinion by asking what she thinks on topics from her favorite color to global warming, feminism and world affairs. Respect her opinion, but don’t be afraid to disagree with her so learns to defend her stance. Be sure to ask your daughter why she believes what she does. Try not to correct her on the “tone” that she uses to deliver unsolicited opinions. Girls are given a lot of subtle and not-so-subtle messages that she should be smart, just not TOO opinionated or direct. So it’s important that she knows stating what she believes is a good thing.
  3. Expose her to as many strong female role models as possible. There are countless women who are doing work that they are passionate about and making an impact in the world. Expose your daughter to those you know in real life and those that you can find through film, television, and online. Point these amazing role models out whenever you come across them in your life. This site, www.sheheroes.org is a great place to start!
  4. Develop a media critic.  Never underestimate the influence of negative media messages on a girl’s self-esteem. Reducing what your daughter is exposed to definitely helps. Since you can’t completely avoid the damaging messages though, teach her early on to be a critical observer, questioning the motives of an advertiser or television show. “Huh, I wonder why this movie has the girl waiting to be saved. She must be really bored! They clearly don’t understand what girls like to do.”
  5. Set aside a few minutes daily to consider the bigger stuff of life. It may sound silly to have your elementary school daughter pondering the meaning of life, but it is never too early to start making this life-changing ritual part of your day. It makes setting time aside to be conscious about her life an early habit and also gives the powerful underlying message that she is in charge of her future.
    • Start with just 5 minutes each day or a week even (if five minutes is too long, then go with 1 or 2 minutes). Unless your daughter is an early riser, evenings before bed may be best if she is in school all day.  She can use a special journal or notebook set for only this special time. Younger children may simply use the notebook to draw something magical. As your daughter gets a bit older, you can ask her open ended questions like, “What did you love about today?” And preteen and teen girls are ready for questions about imagining their biggest, boldest dreams. (For a daily guide for this practice, check out Take 5 for Your Dreams.
  6. Teach her to be brave by trying new things. Most of us develop confidence by experiencing mastery of a new skill that we were initially afraid to do or were simply unfamiliar with whether it be rock climbing, a challenging scientific theory, or meeting new friends. Encourage your daughter to step out of her comfort zone sometimes. When she is struggling with a new skill, remind her of the other times she’s learned something new.

Remember your daughter is her own one-of-a-kind super girl. Create an environment where she is reminded of that consistently and she will be compelled to reach for the stars.

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The book Take 5 for Your Dreams was created especially for preteen and teen girls and provides more than 90 five-minute daily exercises designed to inspire girls to think about their future, their goals, and how they can get there. Packed with beautiful photos, quotes, mini-essays, and resources, it’s a simple and elegant solution meant to break the idea of dreaming big into easy, doable daily steps. 

 

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On Purpose and Politics

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I wrote this in my private client FB group a while back but it is generally relevant.

A month or so back I posted a blog i about a dream that I had with Hillary In it. I prefaced the blog by saying “this is not a political post.” 

It was not and I meant that. This is a group focused on reclaiming purpose and I wanted to respect the differing political view points of those here. I never hid where I stood, (ha – obviously). One only needed to see my profile picture which was a photo of HRC with the caption “keep calm, I am on my way” for the last year or follow my personal feed to see my passionate support “on my sleeve”. 

But now I see that I made a mistake. Not in respecting others viewpoints, but in silencing my own voice in this forum whose very existence is about purpose – because my own calling down to my bones is inextricably linked to empowerment and social justice for all – and politics, always but particularly this year is core to that in my view. 

Here, where we are focused on what really matters, writing about time
management and micro steps (albeit helpful) on days when my soul was screaming, “let justice reign” was being untrue to my voice and by association the world. 

Many of you know there is a secret Facebook group called Pantsuit Nation with over 3 million members. The men and women coming from every religion, socioeconomic, political party affiliation, race, gender and other demographic imaginable shared countless powerful stories about why they were supporting Hillary Clinton, all based on their personal experiences and a sense of human decency and respect for all.

I have wondered in the last days what the results of the election might have been if people like those in PSN had shared their compassionate, powerful personal stories publicly. (not a judgement as for some it would have been dangerous to do so.)

So what does this mean in real life? Not sure yet but the sobering results of the election have me once again asking the big questions.

If it did you too, don’t go back to business as usual. This is an opportunity to consider your life in the deepest way possible. 

As we are in the last quarter of the year, join me in considering what calls you down to your bones. For the sake of the world’s and your own soul, don’t ignore it. Don’t know what to do. Start today by free writing what comes to mind when you ask that question.

What calls you down to your bones? No judgment just write. #strongertogether #dontletitgo  ❤️❤️❤️❤️

When the Every Day is Everything

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“Be kind for everyone is fighting a hard battle.’ -John Watson (pen name Ian MacLaren)

It was a hectic morning. My daughter had to leave before 7:00 am to meet her high school sports team; my son for his usual early morning bus ride to junior high school.

And off they go…the passage of time hasn’t escaped me for a long time. But even more so today, though we are harried getting lunches and packing bags and finding socks – I intentionally take in every moment. Nope particularly today, I won’t hurry to get past the moment.

Whether at work or at home, my mind naturally tends toward strategy and macro action. See donuts in front of the gym after a basketball game. I explain to my kids why a donut after a game is not a good health choice, but I also want to understand the research on kids’ eating habits and how this decision to sell these sugary snacks impacts our kids’ long-term relationship with food and what we can do to change the policy. I know…I am a blast at parties and my children love this about me.

In real life, no matter how far your head is in the clouds or how big your dreams or strategic your work, sometimes, often you have to look for the socks. This is the hardest part of parenting for me because even with self-reliant kiddos the list of mundane tasks is pretty long, and there are many days where I fail miserably at it.

But today, I am grateful as I understand the significance of the mundane.

Today, I make my daughter’s lunch as she gathers her books and take in how meaningful it is when someone you loves helps you when your day is busy. Our time is tight, but I stop for a moment to hug my son good-bye a second time.

Last night we received an email from our school administration. The second this fall. Another student at our high school passed away after losing his battle with depression.

Yes, there is a time to ask the bigger questions, understand the underlying problem. But also today, before school and work and the tasks of the day, I take a moment to remind my kids. I love you. I believe in you. I am proud of you. I’ll strike up a conversation with the person waiting in line that looks tired. And thank the EMT workers for the job they do.

That’s not enough. I will do more. But today that it is all the meaning I can muster. The rest of the world will have to wait.

 

7 Quick Fixes When You Are Stuck

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Yesterday was one of those days where I planned to tackle one strategic essential (but not urgent) task and ended up getting little nothing accomplished. No matter whether there were several one or two valid reasons or not, having days like that isn’t good for business and doesn’t feel very good.

The good news is if you struggle or feel stuck sometimes too,  you are in good company. Every successful entrepreneur and creative that I know describes a similar struggle with this thing called resistance. We all have those moments or weeks (yes, some stagnate for much, much longer than that) when movement seems slow, progress feels non existent or when we procrastinate our time away.

After yesterday, I decided to make a list of the quick (research-based) fixes I use to make a little progress, especially on the toughest days, so that I have them ready for next time:

  1. Walk away from the computer. Take a shower. Go outside for a 5 minute walk. Make a phone call. Drive somewhere. Take the dog for a walk.
  2. Pre-empt procrastination by creating a to-do list the evening before. Take a few minutes in the evening (yes even when you are tired) and write down the one to two tasks you want to work on. Remember it takes 2 to 10 times longer for the average person (you are anything but average) to complete a task than the time they estimate.
  3. Write down your goal. Are you clear on your company or professional goal and mission? Obvious, maybe for you, but write it down anyway along with why you are doing it. If your goal is long term (more than 12 months out), then write down an interim goal for this year.
  4. Get support. Most entrepreneurs, companies, and individuals that I have worked with could eventually get the job done on their own. The key word being eventually. Although you may be able to figure it out on your own, it will be easier and more fun if you surround yourself with an abundance of support – friends, colleagues, professional consulting and coaching help, etc. DO. NOT go it alone.
  5. Habit wins over willpower every. single. time. Small steps taken over a long period of time will yield results. Have a few habits and stick with them. My morning typically goes like this: drop my daughter off at school (won’t be doing that much longer as she will have her license shortly), pick up my mobile order from Starbucks, run/work out), walk the dog, write. My day starts early so I am sitting at my desk by 9 or 9:15 to write. I save all my meetings, email follow up, and project work for the afternoon because those tasks are easier for me to get done. Confession: Yesterday, I sat at in the Starbucks parking lot after picking up my coffee, and got worked up about the upcoming Presidential election by reading social media posts. The presidential election is important and I value social media as a communications method regarding big issues, but nothing would have changed if I waited until after writing or after lunch to get a pulse on the latest news.
  6. Microsteps are the magic sauce. When you have your one essential, important action you plan to work on for the day, break it up into small, ridiculously easy micro steps, especially for those hard-to-do, high procrastination tasks. And when I say ridiculously easy, I mean that. Writing a report? Open Word and create a new document may be the first item on your list.
  7. Get strategic. If your procrastination is habitual and has prevented you from making progress for weeks, months or longer, it may be time to look at the bigger picture and making sure you are heading in the right direction. Resistance is par for the course when heading toward something that is important to you so I am not suggesting quitting, but check in with yourself (or get professional support if you need it) and intentionally consider whether you are heading in the right direction.

Those are some of my favorite tools to move forward when I am stuck. Now it’s your turn. Write down what helps you feel unstuck and use one of the techniques next time you are in a funk.

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Be the Woman You Want Her to Become

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -Mahatma Ghandi

shutterstock_33451507Be the woman you want her to become. During a conversation recently with a friend about girl empowerment I shared what had been bothering me for a while,

“Did you ever notice that we invest so much time in ensuring our daughters pursue their dreams while most of us ignore our own or relegate our truest dreams to the back burner?”

She had noticed the same thing.

“What message does that send our girls and our boys about the importance of our desires and theirs too?”

If you ask any parent (or child), they will confirm that it is what we model in action that sends the most powerful message to young people Pursuing your dreams wholeheartedly isn’t selfish but is honoring Life and what you are designed to give to the world. It is speaking the truth in action that your life and time deserve the same level of attention and care as each member of your family.

What I have also noticed is that as children get older, they express significant pride in their parent’s professional accomplishments and impact on the world.

Take up space in your own life for the world’s sake and to give the girls and boys that are watching permission to do the same. 

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Five Traits of Dreamers Who Do

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Action expresses priorities. -Aristotle

I have worked with many women and also researched what characteristics and actions result in growing toward successful goal attainment. It is no surprised that no matter how varied the person or goal, there are common traits and actions that separate those who move forward on their dreams and those who don’t. Here are my top five favorites:

  1. Identify a clear vision or specific goal. Know where you are headed and why. This doesn’t necessarily mean that all dreamers have a mega vision to change the world or start a multibillion dollar company (though some do). But it does mean that their actions have a measurable end in mind. In general, goals are best set within a twelve to eighteen month timeframe and should be measurable. So, even if your vision is to end world hunger, think about what you can accomplish in the next twelve to eighteen months to that end. Sometimes women that I have worked with have are interested in developing a skill, like writing. In those examples, the goal is focused on a regular practice (like writing a blog daily or writing 500 words a day).
  2. Take action. Obvious, right? Without action, a dream won’t happen. Period. Taking consistent, imperfect micro action is the best antidote for fear and inertia. Trying “stuff” out before feeling ready requires a choice not to be derailed by mistakes.
  3. Keep your to-do list short and focus on your goal first. There will be many sparkly new ideas, goals, and projects that will vie for your attention. Keeping your list of goals really, really short will give you the time and energy you need to focus and make progress. For every week, identify one to three actions that will move you closer to the outcome you desire.
  4. Know what is meaningful to you. Successful {re}claimers love (or at minimum like) the work they are committed to. But, more importantly, they believe it to be meaningful and important. Passion can develop over time when invested in something where the results matter to you.
  5. Connect to a tribe. Dream seekers don’t go it alone. Mutual, concrete support through setbacks and successes is a non-negotiable must have. Find a friend, a mastermind, a group, or coach. You will increase your likelihood of success exponentially.

Take 5

How about you? Is there one non-negotiable trait or action that helps you to reach your goals?

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