the queen of high expectations

I am the queen of high expectations.

Not so much of other people (though my husband might disagree with me on that, sometimes). But of experiences and seasons and my cooking and, most of all, myself

That I know my husband wouldn’t disagree with.

Maybe it’s a by-product of sensitivity or good ol’ high-achieving perfectionism, but, whatever the reason, I get caught up in the “should’s” and “supposed-to’s.” I lose myself to comparisonitis and the pain of unmet expectation.

Let me tell you something. It’s dark and cold and lonely in there, friends. Like quicksand and heartbreak and suffocating.

Last week, I found myself there. In that deep, dark blackhole o’ shame and “should’s.”

I had, like any good, little entrepreneur, started planning and goal-setting for 2017. I sat down at our little breakfast nook, pulled out my notebook, and began mapping out the next 12 months. Workshops. Retreats. DIY courses. Mentorships and copy polishing and creative expression. I set big, big financial goals. I made plans for expansion and new projects and website copy to match. 

And then I crumbled.

In the midst of dreaming and scheming and envisioning what could be, I got caught up in what should be. I stumbled upon the long, long list of “must-do’s” and “supposed-to’s.” Numbers. To-do's. Strategy. Check lists. Like I said, high expectations. So far to fall.

Instead of expansion and hope and energy, I found myself suffocated and stuck. I began doubting my plans, my dreams, my abilities. 

I closed in, shut down, and stopped.

And, then, a dear, dear friend lovingly reminded me that I was going about it all wrong. 

She asked: What would have happened 12 months ago if you had made a “plan" and stuck to it? Where would you be? What would you be doing?

Her questions stopped me in my tracks. And, all of a sudden, instead of expectation, I recognized the feeling of expansion.

The past 12 months have been nothing if not unbelievably surprising and wholly transformative. What started, quite accidentally, as an editing business has quickly become a vessel for creative expression, courageous and curious community, and wholehearted, soulful entrepreneurship.

Twelve months ago, I would never have envisioned that I would get to work with such an incredible tribe of business owners and creatives. I would never have imagined the depth of the work I would be doing, or the way that things would shift and change and transform as I learned more about myself, my voice, and this great, wonderful, beautiful, painful and imperfect world we inhabit.

Twelve months ago, I just couldn’t see it. My view, too narrow. My foresight, limited.

The truth is that I can’t imagine or even attempt to plan for the next 12 months. If they’re anything like the last twelve, they're going to be a magnificent and magical combination of challenges and changes and expansions and contractions. Beautiful and brutal. Hard and so, so good. I’ll have to claim parts of myself that I never knew existed, journey through fear and pain and untethered joy, and let go of the pieces of me that no longer fit. 

I’m letting go of the expectations in order to receive what’s true and real and wonderful.

I can’t wait.

Now, it doesn’t mean that I’m not planning for what’s coming next. Because, love, I am.  

Those retreats? They’re coming.

And those workshops? They’re in the works. They’re bits of my heart wrapped up in writing prompts and self-discovery and wholehearted community.

I’m shifting and expanding my work as a writer and mentor, deepening my offerings to support my entrepreneurial clients so that they, too, can share their work with the world.

But, rather than boxing myself in, I’m opening myself up. I’m going slowly, surely, with intention and courage and flexibility. Granting myself permission to be imperfect, and forgiving myself when I fail. Or, you know, trying my best. 

A couple of years ago, I wrote this, all about failed resolutions and learning to walk before we run. I think that, maybe, I got it half right. Or maybe a bit more. Maybe the practice is less in the habits and more in the heart. Or a healthy dose of both.

Either way, I’m looking forward to what comes next, and all of the unexpected and beautiful surprises that are sure to come with it. I’m looking forward to stepping forward with courage and creativity, to greater expression and deeper connection. 

Who’s with me?!

More to come, love.

- xx k -

P.S. If you want to make sure that you're infusing who you are into each and every step in your business - particularly how you show up in the world - I want to invite you to download Unedited: Your Guide to Effortless & Authentic Content. Click here for your exclusive access.

the weirdo who dares to enjoy

Want to catch the audio version of this blog post? Check it out below.

16 years ago this month, half a world away in central China, the final member of our tightly-knit unit was born to a family who couldn't keep her. 

Thirteen months later, in the middle of a rare Seattle blizzard, my parents and younger sister, Alie, boarded the plane to go get her and bring her home. To bring our Mayme home.

Now, today, nearly 15 years later, we're getting set to celebrate her sweet-sixteen and – watch out world! - witness her get her driver's license.

Over the years, as her older siblings, we've cooed over her, obsessing over her chubby baby toes and tiny little fingers. We've dressed her up, held her hand, and watched her grow up into a bossy ('cause she's the boss, y'all) and confident teenager. 

At 16, she's creative and passionate and inspired. She writes and reads and produces plays. She believes wholeheartedly in candid conversations and K-Pop.

It's been a wild and love-soaked ride, getting to witness her evolution. Even on the bumpiest of days, when she's so fifteen and in the midst of a pubescent stress-fest, I can confidently say that she has been one of the greatest gifts of my life. Well, she's in the top three.

A few months ago, at the start of her sophomore year, Mayme decided to join the hip-hop dance team at her high school. 

It didn't matter that she had never officially danced before – unless you count the hours upon hours that she practiced in front of YouTube videos. The girl is all guts. 

And, wouldn't you know it, she's also ridiculously talented.

When you watch her perform, you get lost in how fluid and unabashedly committed she is to the moves. There's not an inch of self-consciousness present. And I can tell you, having been a teenage girl once upon a time, that's no small thing. She performs without shame, fully in tune with each and every limb, totally connected with her body. She takes up space and moves with ease and grace. And she's having fun.

This.

This is the piece of creativity that we all-too-often forget.

To be creative means to get curious. To be creative means to shake off the self-consciousness and commit to the present moment. To be creative means to claim your space and write your own story. To be creative means to have fun. 

The process might be hard. It might mean walking through the messy middle – journeying to the shadow-side where your limiting beliefs and stories of shame and sorrow reside. It might mean wrestling with big questions and the painful voice of your inner critic. It might mean sitting your butt in a chair for 30 minutes a day to prove to your muse that you'll show up for them. 

But it also means soaking in the sweet sounds of nature. It also means long hikes and hot baths. It also means seeking inspiration in the places and people that bring you joy. It also means dancing to 80's music in your living room or sweating your story out while your favorite workout playlist blasts in your headphones. It also means stepping away from your computer screen and grabbing coffee with a good friend.

This. This is the piece of creativity that we forget.

Maybe it's because the slogging feels like it's worth more, that productivity is more important than the process, or that the dark, shadowy stuff feels like it has more depth.

But don't forget to have fun, dear friend. To lean into abandon and experience adventure. To chase wonder and lose yourself in the music. To delight in whatever form of inspiration and expression brings you unabashed and uncontainable joy. 

"Be the weirdo who dares to enjoy."

- Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

Photo Credit: Zoe Rain

*Feel like you haven't enjoyed your business in... well, way too long to admit? Book a free discovery call to learn how we can work together to breathe some life back into your brand strategy.

my covert course in miracles

Optimism helps us persevere.
Life isn’t easy.
But life is always good.
— John Jacobs

Twice weekly, at what might be considered the crack of dawn to most college students, I would climb the grey marble stairs to the second floor of White-Gravenor Hall and sleepily stumble to a sturdy wood seat in the corner. It was first semester, sophomore year, and I found myself enrolled in Professor Sabat's PSYCH-101 course.

With a full white beard and a warmth that emanated as he spoke, Professor Sabat would dive into the world of neuroscience and neurobiology with the skill of a well-seasoned pro and the compassion of a man dedicated to revealing the personhood in an industry that seeks to pathologize.

An expert in the biology and a wholehearted believer in the personhood behind Alzheimer's Disease, Professor Sabat had (and has) the distinct ability to make neuroscience seem like far more than a random firing of neurons, synapses, and chemical reactions. Through his lectures, biology was both explained and expanded upon, and neuroscience became the lens through which the mysteries of the universe could be found. Whether discussing anatomy or abnormal psychology, pathology or human development, he somehow managed to connect it to our lives as (entirely self-centered and exhausted) university students.

For me, it was the first of many lessons in how to weave a story, bring life to even the driest of subjects, and connect to the audience in front of you.

But it was the way in which he ended his lectures that sticks with me still, a decade later.

At the end of each class, rather than leaving us with an assignment, he would pull out a book, an article, or a newspaper snippet. He would hold the paper in his hand, unfolding it with great love and intention, caressing the pages between his fingers. From his place at the front of the classroom, he would read to us - a short story about love, a new scientific discovery, a poem. When he finished reading, he would pause for a moment, only to continue on to "lecture" us about hope, compassion, and our call to make a positive impact on the world. 

Truthfully, it was less a lecture than an authentic and true reminder of all that is good.

I'll never forget his emotionally-charge discussion of the word "awesome." He spoke to us with fiery passion, hands gesticulating wildly as his voice rose higher. He begged us to stop using the word haphazardly. Instead, he gave us examples of the truly awesome. The birth of his first child. The day that he married his wife. What it looked like to study the brain, knowing that your research has the potential to fuel deeper understanding and compassionate care. For many, the study of psychology becomes a study of pathology and the flawed human condition. For Professor Sabat, his study became a reminder of what was truly miraculous in the world.

At the end of each class, I was gifted with the reminder that what I had learned could and should be used to further tremendous positive change. And that I had the power to make it happen.

I count Professor Sabat's class as a pivotal moment in my life. A foundation-shaking blessing. A covert course in miracles. It's with that experience that I am able to witness and celebrate the miraculous in the midst of the chaos. As a writer, mentor, friend, daughter, sister, and wife (not to mention the plethora of other identities that I inhabit), this ability has been a guiding force for good in my life -- a reminder that, though life isn't always easy, it is always, always good.

This week, as the news media overflowed with stories of fear, disease, and decline, I was reminded of my covert course in miracles. It's so easy to either get caught up in the fear-soaked madness or, rather, to desperately flee from what is actually happening in the world.

I did neither.

Rather than focusing on scare tactics and apocalyptic language, I chose instead to refocus in the direction of the miraculous. Deep, deep gratitude. For the truly incredible teachers, mentors, and leaders in my life. For the beauty in wholehearted community and the transformative power of creative expression. For the simple (and entirely miraculous) gift of being with someone you love. For bravery and compassionate action and our opportunity to create change. For generosity and curiosity and courage. For learning, always learning. 

And for you. 

 

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the list that changed my life

I am out of the office celebrating our first wedding anniversary (woot!), so I'm posting some gems from our archives! This post was originally published on November 14, 2015.

The life of a business owner and writer is beautifully messy.

In my life, to do lists naturally overlap. Coaching follow-ups lead to writing submissions which bleed into plans for tonight's dinner and tomorrow's workout. There are emails to send out, blog posts to write, laundry to do, bills to pay and pets to feed. On any given day, I could do a dozen different things, all of which weave through and bleed into and support one another.

It's a beautiful, messy, wouldn't-have-it-any-other-way, complicated and sweet, sweet life. My to-do lists and calendaring keep me organized.

But there's another list that keeps me alive.

In this beautiful, messy life there lurks a dirty, shadowed underbelly: a culture of scarcity, lack and fear. We see it every day when we turn on the news. It's littered all across our social media channels and imbedded deeply into our political language. We witness it in our relationships, our finances, our education system. 

All that scarcity, lack and fear? It fuels shame, unworthiness, unattainable perfectionism, and disengagement. It leaves us swirling and disconnected, trapped in our patterns of not-enoughness, overwhelmed with wanting.

It's global. It's familial. It's personal.

A few weeks ago, I was... swirling. My new husband was out of town for almost a month as a part of his annual fall business travel, and I was feeling alone and overwhelmed. We live a beautifully busy life together, and I nearly crumbled attempting to keep the pace on my own. Add that to a bout with a stomach bug, and I was... on edge. 

In a former life, my go-to coping mechanism would have been to self-medicate. With the powerfully potent and delicious drug known as the refined carbohydrate. I craved cookies and candy and bread. All the bread

But despite their deliciousness, in the long term, the refined sugars are, just like their other fear-fueled counterparts - the wine, the weed, the unhealthy relationships and late-nights binge-watching reality TV... deeply unsatisfying. 

You know what satisfies? The sweet, sweet reality of cultivating a practice that bypasses the swirling and leads to wholeness and abundance and enoughness.

If the opposite of scarcity is enough, then practicing gratitude is how we acknowledge that there’s enough and that we’re enough.

— Brene Brown

A few months ago, I created my first official gratitude journal. I have always known, intellectually, about the power of gratitude. I had read the studies, done the research, and utilized gratitude as a part of my coaching practice. My sweetheart and I had created a gratitude practice before meals, and I had cultivated the intention to speak gratitude to those around me. 

But it was time to up my gratitude game

It started as a personal challenge. Each morning, I would scribble down a list of the ten things that I was most grateful for at that moment. It grounded my morning in enoughness. My baseline was gratitude

Cue expansion.

That gratitude list has saved my life, shifting it in the direction of enoughness. Not only have my daily 10 moments of gratitude turned to 15, to 20, to 30, but the swirly, twirly overwhelm leads me back to its pages. The ritual comforts the repeating negative thoughts and the gratitude, the awareness of enoughness, leads me back to center. 

Now, two months since our wedding, my sweetheart and I began a joint journal together. Our gratitude weaving together, creating a common foundation of wholeness. 

When the fear and the lack and the shame sneaks in, cultivating a gratitude list provides a pathway to return to enoughness. 

This month begs for us to return to gratitude. Thirty days of thanksgiving and joy and abundance. It's also, for many of us, the beginning of a season of loneliness and family drama, of unsatisfied expectations and stress. This is where the rubber meets the road, where practice leads to progress, where gratitude leads to abundance and joy.

Right now, in this moment, what are ten things that you're grateful for?

Be specific, intentional. Write them down or share them here!

it turns out i was wrong. thank goodness.

I am out of the office celebrating our first wedding anniversary (woot!), so I'm posting some gems from our archives! This post was originally published on January 9, 2016.

I never really dated.

It wasn’t intentional, by any means. It just… never happened. 

By the time that I turned 24, I had only had a few pseudo-maybe-on-their-way-to-a-relationship dalliances. You know the kind. You’re feeling the feelings, flirting uncontrollably, dating without “official" dates, questioning every touch and word and look... but you still haven’t had “the talk.” The one that answers the question: What are we?! I had my fair share of those uncertain flirtations, each of which ended in sadness and ambiguity. With each painful ending, I swore that, the next time, I would be better at having “the talk” earlier. 

It might have been the dearth of official relationships (never had I ever had a real argument with a boyfriend) or the vast number of romantic comedies and love stories that I inhaled voraciously, but I truly believed that, when that magical relationship came around, I would be the perfect girlfriend. I would know exactly what to say. He would know how to care for me instinctively. Fights? What fights? In the land-o’-romantic-fantasy that I had built up in my head (which looked a lot like the good parts of a Nicholas Sparks novel), my future relationship was idyllic and lasting, drama-free and always, always satisfying.

Spoiler alert: I was wrong.

Thank goodness.

Five years ago, I began dating my now-husband, P. Even that didn't feel like dating, more like a best-friends-in-love, feels-so-natural falling. In that time, we’ve made it through nearly two years of long-distance and approximately a billion and a half hours on Skype, a move halfway across the country to create our first home together, three 1,300 mile road trips and the adoption of two new pets (bringing our total up to a chaotic and cuddly three). Together, we've experienced moments of deep, deep grief and mourning, family stress and health scares, half a dozen job changes and a year of wedding planning.

It has been messy and challenging and anything but idyllic.

It has also been more beautiful and transformative and joyful than I could have possibly imagined.

I thought I would be the perfect partner. I was so, so wrong. As it turns out, even in the arms of a healthy relationship, I am highly emotional and sometimes irritable, irrationally critical of myself and consistently struggle at asking for what I need. I can get clingy and distant simultaneously, and I have a penchant for pulling away physically when I am hurt emotionally. 

I am deeply imperfect.

And, after 5 years together, I married a man who, like me, is also flawed.

You would think that our matched imperfections would tear us apart and send us riding on the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse into the relationship-hell of contempt and criticism, defensiveness and darkness.

But, instead, my cracks and flaws, in concert with his and catalyzed by love, have become home to growth and joy and affection. 

Don’t get me wrong, it has not been easy. It has been a dance, albeit one where I often feel like I’m clumsily moving with two left feet, a dance to give and take and learn to love each other’s (and our own) imperfections. I’ve had to lay down the armor of expectation and obligation, to remove the filter of illusion, and to unwind my story of what love should look like.

I have had to listen to my partner when he calls me out on my self-limiting behaviors and attempts to distance myself. In turn, I’ve had to lovingly remind him to listen carefully to the stories he tells himself and to identify the patterns that pull us apart. We’ve screwed up and made up, snapped in irritation and apologized.

From it all, we’ve learned how to speak and receive feedback and love and forgiveness, to focus on joy, and to fight for connection in the midst of the pressure of stress and circumstance.

Oh, and to apologize. Dear god, have we learned how to apologize.

I thought that perfection was the goal, that a well-lived life looked like the last 10 minutes of a romantic comedy, all coming-together and joy and affection. The truth is that a well-lived life (and a well-lived love) looks a hell of a lot like wrestling in the mud: the mess and the memories, the slip-ups and the playful laughter all rolled into one.

I thought I would be the perfect partner. Turns out, I’m not. Neither is he. 

Thank goodness. 

Today, we are celebrating my sweet, sweet husband's birthday. Moments like these always make me reflect in gratitude. Today, I'm grateful for our imperfections, those spaces that we've intentionally filled up with love and learning. In learning how to release my expectations for perfection... 

I've somehow stumbled upon magic.


Photo Credit: Zoe Rain Photography