ancient-friends

I am visiting some really wonderful friends this week from my hometown and near it, and I’d consider them my “ancient friends,”.  According to Mark Nepo, these ancient friends are those who we may not see every day, yet they live so near to our hearts that the presence of friends like this can shape our entire life.

When I see these friends, we talk about our hopes and fears for the future, laugh and really connect on some kind of cosmic level.  We spend time talking about whether or not they should write about personal stuff on their blog (especially if they are in a law practice with their husband), and if I could potentially go around the country visiting people like a fairy godmother life coach, encouraging them and asking them to think deeper about what’s most important in their lives.  We talk about family, relationships, love and some seriously disappointing situations in our lives.  We learn to let go, that acceptance and gratitude can change our world and keep us floating rather than sinking into sadness, struggle, despair.

We make dinner, we drink wine and we are grateful that even though we’ve spent more time apart than together, our ability to come together and truly connect has such a dramatic and wonderful impact on our daily lives.

These friends have reminded me what is important, because I can get easily caught up in what other people expect of me.  These friends have grounded me and have given me enough hugs to last me a few more months in Cleveland!

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Michigan visit

July 6, 2013

in Uncategorized

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I’m in Michigan this weekend for the wedding of a girl who was like my little sister growing up! My first stop was at Kristi’s place, and lucky for me, she and her hubby just finished their beautiful deck and pool. There’s something to being surrounded by great friends who really get you. My soul feels so inspired today!

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My desk, with Simon in the foreground. His bed is on top of my desk.

I’ve been wanting to write lately.  Unfortunately, I’ve told myself that I’m not a great writer so why try?  It’s true, words have never been my strength, but learning to live and connect with authenticity has become a passion of mine.  I’m better at creating a vision with imagery and imagination.  But after going through a divorce a few years ago, and beginning to understand just how I got myself into that predicament, I’ve gained a new perspective.  When, at one time, I would have stifled feelings, desires, cravings, concerns, so as not to rock the boat or to come off like a brat, I now know that it’s imperative to address what your soul is asking of you.  It may not be popular, and being adored for your strength, ability to have zero feelings/personal struggles and maintain perfect business savvy at all times can seemingly go much further in this world than being honest and truthful.  But I know that honesty takes strength.  There are a few reasons I’ve been unable to move forward with my writing and this blog.  In addition to just not feeling like I’m good at it, I have remained intimidated by others who don’t feel that I should share my life in this way.  I’ve let fear of their disapproval and fear of not being good enough keep me from taking this leap.  I’ve found so many kindred spirits through reading their blogs, and I usually spend my mornings with a coffee/tea in hand taking solace in the inspiring words that seem to flow so easily from these creatives.  They are the ones that encourage me to keep going and push forward with my ideas and dreams without succumbing to the pressures of my immediate world.  They provide perspective and hope.  Though at the same time, many versions of online life touch on my soft spot, comparison and perfection.  These representations on some of the most well-designed blogs make it seem like all they’re doing is going to the beach to have homemade popsicles with their perfect families and sporting the most amazing hair/skin/body/fashion with ease………while also writing successful e-books and running awe-inspiring creative businesses.  I see their photo shoot ready homes and immediately think, “Wow, how the hell do you compete with this?”  But what’s encouraging is that there has been a shift in the mentality of some of these bloggers, and they are now re-thinking what it means to promote these picture perfect lifestyles, that in all reality, would cost a fortune to create.  I’ve decided to not ask permission from myself or others to run this blog.  I’m just doing it, in all it’s imperfect glory.  I’m starting out today of what life looks like for me, in my home.  Since I run my business out of my home, I really have been striving to create zones of work vs life, but it all seems to overlap.  Here’s a look at what’s happening here today.  I didn’t move anything, just captured what IS, and it sort of makes me appreciate the beauty of what I have at the moment, rather than my search for something better.

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The cast iron skillet and stock pot that I use daily, and my bright yellow cuisinart peeking into the photo. The salt and pepper shakers were a gift from my dear friend, Deanna.

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Proof of my inability to have a green thumb, though I just planted some tomatoes and an herb garden outside. I’ll keep you posted.

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Photos/cards of my dear friends, along with some target coupons.

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My new poster from Strawberry Luna, my leather backpack, my new equestrian biking helmet (I’ve just realized that it makes me actually ride my bike like I’m a jockey), some desk clutter, and a needlepoint that I found at the thrift store that looks like Simon staring out the window.

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Shop The Flea postcard, little sticker of MI to remind me of my upcoming trip (!), more desk stuff.

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A snippet of my chalk wall, with some client work listed.

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The giant windows that are super lovely, and my messy IKEA couch.

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Little zoomed out area of my living/dining space.

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The messy bunch of too-high stools + my computer cord just laying amongst everything.

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The stack of “homework” I’ve been trying to get through for weeks.

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The cutest guy in the world, AKA Simon ;) Oh, and my toes are creepily peeking out of my sandals.  #nofilter

So that’s it, in it’s messy reality.  It’s Saturday afternoon and I think I’m going to have a glass of wine, and read a book on my disheveled couch.

 

 

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totally-just-bought-this

Ever since my custom-designed Simon case finally fell apart, I was heartbroken.  Who doesn’t like to carry around a cute reminder of their cat every day?  But I have to say, I’m excited that I came across this nifty iphone case from DodoCase.  It’s a hybrid.  Part notebook/part phone case.  I’ll have to keep you posted on how it goes when you run out of paper, but for now I’m just excited that I could be a little more organized and carry around less with me.

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whole-30-1

I’ve been on my Whole 30 eating adventure for about 10 days now, and I do have to admit that I’ve actually had a glass of wine (or two) over the past 10 days, but for the most part, I’ve stuck with it and am just making much better food choices.  My energy levels have gone up, I’m beginning to enjoy eating again (I always get really annoyed and resentful initially because I have to cut out many “fun” foods) and I’m enjoying cooking at home more.  Here’s a snapshot of what I’ve been eating.  I know that you’re not supposed to be relying on smoothies that much, but I’ve been a smoothie convert ever since I started taking Green Vibrance almost daily about a year ago, so I’ve just changed my smoothie routine to be Whole 30 approved ingredients.  If you aren’t familiar with GV, it’s a super dense nutrient packed supplement (though there are probably some grains in there that aren’t Whole30 approved).  It’s gluten free and has probiotics without any dairy, so it’s super good for your digestive health.  The one thing that hasn’t made it onto my slideshow today is eggs. I eat a bunch of eggs.  I fry them, soft-boil them, scramble them, and top them with my herbs that I began growing in my tiny garden.

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These aren’t Whole30 approved just yet, but they are paleo (minus the greek yogurt) and this is what I’m looking forward to snacking on in a few weeks!

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saying-noToday was good and difficult.  I finally began to curate my Flea Market in the way that I want it to grow and take shape, but that also meant saying NO to some really nice people.  One thing that was reinforced by my friends Tara and Kathleen when I took a workshop with them back in May was that we are people working with other people.  I’m a creative entrepreneur working with vendors and clients, but bringing it back to the title of “person” is helpful.  My whole life, I’ve been a people pleaser.  I intuitively understand others (which is good for my branding business) but it can go totally wrong when dealing with people who do not respect that.  I was always the designated driver, when I’d rather be partying.  I’ve gotten stuck covering shifts for people (when I worked at a small boutique) who were just going off to enjoy themselves when I should have been doing the same.  Before I knew it, I felt like a victim.  I felt powerless, and I also had a negative association with telling people no.  I didn’t want to disappoint them or cause them distress.

I’ve come to realize that saying no or setting boundaries is neither positive or negative.  It is just being clear about where you stand and what your priorities.  That doesn’t mean it feels good, or isn’t met with disappointment.  What you need to be invested in is why you’re saying no, rather than getting caught up in saying yes to avoid that inevitable disappointment.

I found that by thoroughly explaining myself and helping my vendors to understand my vision and mission, I allowed them to say, “Yes, I might be able to adjust things to be a part of this” or “No, I don’t think this is for me.”  It opened a line of dialogue that I had not even expected.

Saying NO just further refines and defines who you are, and not who others expect you to be.  It’s about how you sail your own little sailboat in this world.

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Manifesto

June 16, 2013

in Daily Inspiration

I love this manifesto by Joesph Barone.  It’s something I’ll try to keep close to every day.

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book of awakening

This post is about two things, all connected by one person.

I’ve written about Mark Nepo before- he’s a philosopher and grounds me AND he’s one of the 5 people I’d have at my dream dinner if I could have anyone there.  The idea is that if you could bring together a group for an intimate dinner, who would they be and why?  I’ve been taught that this says something about who you are and these people usually have qualities that you either see in yourself or admire and wish you could steal a little bit of their mojo.  My others guests are Lady Gaga, The Girl with The Dragon Tatoo (the actual character), Stefan Sagmeister, and Brene Brown.  I was actually only supposed to have 4 guests, but I just couldn’t choose between Gaga and Lisbeth Salander- both totally ballsy and beautiful and kick-ass.  Lately I’ve been wanting to be kick-ass in career, life and just in general.  Sidenote:  as I was researching this, I came across THIS LINK to a collection of GWTDT-inspired clothing.  More on that later.

This is what my dinner would look like, I guess.

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This was such a fun exercise, but I also wanted to talk a bit about Mark Nepo and his role in my dinner/life.  I read a passage from The Book of Awakening daily and it always gets me how very close it hits to home.  Today’s passage was about POWER– and how our interpretation of power can be extremely destructive to our lives.   Mark is inspiring, deep and he reminds me to be mindful and grateful for where I am every moment.

Here it is below.

More Power to You, by Mark Nepo from “The Book of Awakening”

I was waiting for a plane when I overheard two businessmen.  One was sharing the good news that he had been promoted, and the other, in congratulation, said, “More Power to You.”

I’ve heard this expression before, but for some reason, I heard it differently this time and thought, what a curious sentiment.  As a good wish, the assumption is that power is the goal.  Of course, it makes a huge difference if we are wishing others worldly power or inner power.  By worldly power, I mean power over things, people, situations–controlling power.  By inner power, I mean power that comes from being part of something larger– connective power.

I can’t be certain, but I’m fairly sure the wish here was for worldly power, for more control.  This is commonplace and disturbing, as the wish for more always issues from a sense of lack.  So the wish for more power really issues from a sense of powerlessness.

It is painfully ironic that in the land of the free, we so often walk about with an unspoken and enervating lack of personal freedom.  Yet the wish for more controlling power will not set us free, anymore than another drink will quench the emptiness of an alcoholic in the grip of his disease.

It makes me think of a game we played when I was nine called King of the Hill, in which seven or eight of us found a mound of dirt, the higher the better, and the goal was to stand alone on the top of the hill.  Once there, everyone else tried to throw you off, installing themselves as King of the Hill.  It strikes me now as a training ground for worldly power.

Clearly, the worst position of all is being King of the Hill.  You are completely alone and paranoid, never able to trust anyone, constantly forced to spin and guard every direction.  The hills may change from a job to a woman to a prized piece of real estate, but those on top can be so enslaved by guarding their position that they rarely enjoy the view.

I always hated King of the Hill–always felt tense in my gut when king, sad when not, and ostracized if I didn’t want to play.  That pattern has followed me through life.  But now, as a tired adult, when I feel alone and powerless atop whatever small hill I’ve managed to climb, I secretly long for anyone to join me.  Now, I’m ready to believe there’s more power here together.

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clouds-vs-ground

It’s Tuesday and only 3 days before a big project I’ve been working on launches–The Cleveland Flea.  I’m at once thrilled, and terrified.  I was chatting with a friend today and came upon this thought.  I struggle to live in the clouds, all ambitious and inspired, yet am constantly brought back down to earth, and sometimes have an extremely hard time even picking one toe up off the ground without convincing myself that I’m irresponsible, or worse, just not good enough to pull things off.  How am I going to soar that way?  You see, we all have ambitions and want to live with purpose (well, I would hope we all do).  At least my clients, creative entrepreneurs, want to live this way.  But it is a struggle.

Maybe this happens to you as well.  I am almost overflowing with amazing ideas.  Things that inspire me, things that make me feel alive, things I want to do and see and create.  That’s not the problem.  What happens as soon as those ideas start to gain footing?  I’m paralyzed.  By fear, overwhelm, uncertainty (will anyone come to the Flea??) and pesky little thoughts creep back into my head, like:

  1. Why did I take on so much?
  2. I shouldn’t have even gotten involved in this.
  3. I feel terribly out of control.
  4. What if it fails?
  5. Should I stop this whole entrepreneurial thing and just get a real job?

But, take heart my friends, this is fear and vulnerability creeping up on us.  And one thing I’ve definitely learned from Brene Brown is that you cannot numb these emotions if you’d also like to experience the joys and highs once you’ve achieved and surpassed these seemingly impossible feats.  Risk will be scary, otherwise it’s not risk, and probably not worth it.

I’ll elaborate more on this over at Indie Foundry, and have a little handy guide to help you beat back those negative thoughts when you’re trying to live in the clouds.

 

 

 

 

 

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poem

I don’t yet know what I want this post to be about.  I think it’s about the fact that I miss my friends, and not just the way that you miss someone who is on a long trip, whose return you expect and look forward to every moment until you can hold them close again.  No, I think its more a dull pang, never ending, because I miss them in my daily life.  What I know about myself is that if my soul isn’t being fed daily by what matters to me, I will wither:

  1. my friends, who are essentially my family
  2. good and purposeful work
  3. creativity
  4. closeness with loved ones
  5. sharing experiences (tragedies, triumphs, life lessons, soul searching, etc.)
  6. the ability to achieve things I set out to do
  7. health
  8. lighthearted fun
  9. the ability to express my emotions
  10. helping and caring for others
  11. excitement and challenge

This is not meant to be a feel-good post, or even a feel-sorry-for-me post. It’s merely an observation about what it took to bring my own life into focus.

Is it true that we gravitate toward people who have something in them that we wish we had?  Like courage, or their shit together, or a lightness of heart, or the ability to be cool under pressure, or success, or family, or beauty, or perfection.  Maybe this is just my list.  But I have a bad habit of neglecting my own spirit in favor of putting those types of people in my life.  Those that I admire, those that make me feel a little closer to having my shit together, being cool under pressure, having success, feeling like I have a family, etc.  But people, we can only do this so long, until our soul screams out at us.  And that is what mine did a few years ago, when, even though I’m extremely embarrassed to bring it up, I found myself in a marriage that did not work for me, and I was dismantling it piece-by-piece without even realizing it.  And do you know what I think what the biggest factor missing?  It was a closeness to others, to the ones I loved, to having friends and academics in my life, to connection.

You see, I had moved to Cleveland fresh out of Graduate School, where I had made so many lovely friends and my daily life was filled with seeing, interacting and having a true connection with those friends.  I was actually really excited about starting a new life here and I had no idea that my life would soon unravel.  I’ve done a fair amount of analysis, as I tend to do, and I’ve identified a few factors that put my pour soul into such a tailspin.  I don’t want to get too personal, because this involves more than just me, but I think that most people could relate to these circumstances.

  1. A big move.  This is very stressful, and if you don’t have a good support system, you can end up feeling quite lonely and overwhelmed.
  2. An uncertain economic climate.  Within 6 months of moving to Cleveland, I had been laid off from my first firm.  Then, as soon as I had gotten close with new colleagues, my office shut down.
  3. Lack of a solid support system.  My friends have always been my family, and all of them were miles and miles away.  It was never accepted that my friends were my family, and I was pretty much discouraged to continue considering them as such.
  4. Marriage.  Big decisions, life-changing moments.  I began planning my wedding during all of this craziness.
  5. An inability to put myself first without feeling extreme anxiety.  I had never been good about calmly letting my goals be known.  I have since understood the importance of this and have gained an ability to make my feelings known and really prioritize them, though it is still a struggle for me.  When we feel that we have no ability to feed our souls, we wither, and then we are in serious trouble.
  6. Zero daily connection to people and things that I loved.  People get busy, they plan weddings and have children.  I lost my job and my focus really had to be making sure that we could pay our bills.

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What I think really put me over the edge was a lack of my solid support system AND my inability to see my needs and feelings as just as important as planning a wedding, changing my name, being a wife, taking care of another, paying my bills, finding a new job, etc.  What I tell many of my clients, when they’re struggling to leave the security of a 9-5, is that finding a way to do what they love and truly create the life that fills their soul IS just as important, if not more important, than just paying their bills.  I did not grow up this way, and I think it’s one of the hardest things for me to grasp and really hold on to.  Finding and caring daily for those that you love, creating a life that you love, and doing things that make you feel alive is what sustains us to be able to pay the bills, put the hard work into relationships, take our health seriously, protect what we have, etc.  It is our motivation, and working only for security and money will lead us to fill our souls in other, much more destructive ways, as I found out myself.

I certainly don’t advocate my own path for anyone else, but it has given me that perspective I needed to stay courageous when things are tough, and to know that it is worth it to do things for myself, that feed my soul.  And I think I finally know what it means to truly love another person, because I finally know what it takes to love myself.  It might be a little late, and I still might struggle, but I get closer each day.

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