the weirdo who dares to enjoy

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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.

i found my people. and they found me.

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Every Saturday morning, an email goes out to my community.

More than a newsletter or a weekly update (because, let’s face it… no one needs another newsletter in their email inbox), what it is is a love letter. Storytelling mixed with soul and courage and creative expression - with a heaping scoop of honesty about the things in life that are messy and vulnerable and hard and so, so good.

I’ve had some readers describe it as the thing that they read over their morning cup of coffee, something to savor and enjoy. I’ve had others reply with little notes of gratitude, sharing that I said exactly the right thing at exactly the right time, that what I wrote touched the tenderest parts of their hearts. Still others see it as a love note between friends, a moment when my heart opens to theirs and we connect, if only for the few minutes that they spend reading my words.

The ones that aren’t so into it? Well, they unsubscribe. And that’s ok.

Sometimes, I’ll share a bit about what’s coming up next in my business or about links and launches that have inspired me. Other times, there will be an invitation to join my online workshops or sign up for an upcoming course or offering.

But every single email, without fail, is soaked in love, crafted with tenderness and intentionality, and written straight from my heart.

The truth is that it hasn’t always been that way.

When I first started in the wild and wonderful world of entrepreneurship (more than three years ago - what?!), I didn’t know what to write to my email community. Having been the recipient of hundreds of thousands of marketing emails, I thought that mine had to look the same as everyone else’s, and that to show up differently meant that I would be showing up “wrong.”

So, caught up in fear and confusion, I would show up sporadically, or not at all. I would share surface level musings or only when I had something to launch. I wrote about things that didn’t really matter to me, but seemed like they mattered to everyone else.

It felt slimy, sticky, and not at all like me. I'm sure that my readers could feel it, too.

And then, there was a moment. A moment where I realized that I was building a business that didn’t have a bit of “me” in it, that the foundation that I was creating would - in five or ten years - feel like it was sinking, cracking, caving in.

I realized that, if I really wanted to build someone else’s empire (because that’s what I was doing, even if I hadn’t come to terms with it yet), it would be faster - and a hell of a lot easier - to forget this entrepreneurship thing altogether.

So, I went back to basics.

And, by back to basics, I mean back to my core desired feelings. Back to my foundational values. Back to the intangible elements and unspoken ways that I wanted to connect and communicate with my growing tribe.

Back to myself.

At the center of everything I do, there is a deep, deep desire to be... familiar.

For my readers and clients and community to feel like they’re talking to a good friend, each and every time one of my emails lands in their inbox or my name pops up in their newsfeed. A friend who cares enough to encourage wholehearted expression and courageous risk-taking and authentic curiosity. One who wants to know and love them, exactly as they are.

Because they are. Because they are.

So, instead of floating on the surface... I dove deep.

Instead of selling, I sent out invites.

I shared my mess and my message.

I used stories instead of statistics.

I used love letters instead of links.

I found my people. And they found me.

Whether you receive my emails each week without saying a word or you have signed up for one of my workshops, whether I’ve worked on your website copy or we’re working one-on-one in a mentorship, it means more than open rates and clicked links ever could. It means connection.

And that’s everything.

What I’m saying is this…

If you find yourself confused or afraid about how to show up in the world, start here.

Start with love. Begin by extending an invitation. Go back to basics, back to the heart of things, back to yourself. Write love letters and notes of gratitude. Share stories... the truer and real-er, the better. Keep reaching out, inviting in, engaging with openness and curiosity and courage.

Start with intention. Begin with connection.

You’ll find your people. And they’ll find you.


Wondering where to start? Here’s a writing prompt to inspire you:

What’s a story that you’ve inherited or claimed as your own, a “should” or “supposed-to” that’s hemmed you in, constricted your spirit, or kept you stuck? What did it look like to reveal and rewrite that story for yourself?

Don’t skip the messy middle. Share from your soul.

Get more writing prompts in Unedited: Your Guide to Effortless & Authentic Content. Click here for exclusive (and free!) access!

liberation is life-changing, and we're all a little scared of change.

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A dear, dear friend of mine, brilliant woman that she is, carries around permission slips in her pocketbook.

While she is, in fact, the (truly phenomenal) parent of a school-aged kiddo, this isn't that kind of permission slip. Rather, these permission slips are gracefully pulled out of her purse when she sees an opportunity for freedom.

With the slips, she reminds friends and fellow firestarters to grant themselves the freedom and the permission to be great, or to be messy, or to be human. To grant themselves the permission to respect their needs as valid and allow themselves to be held and revealed and transformed, whether that means saying “no” when they really mean it or finally saying “yes” to themselves and their long-awaited dreams.

As a recovering perfectionist, these permission slips sneak through my heavy armor and hit straight to my heart. Through them, there is unleashed a soft acceptance and tender freedom, along with tears or shouts of joy or whatever it is that you, in your moment of liberation, release out into the world.

For many of us, our ideas of who we "should be" create a boundary around who we could be, if we only gave ourselves the permission to be wholly, incredibly, and vulnerably authentic.

Within this boundary, we temper our emotions, we limit our dreams. We leave words unspoken, needs unexpressed. We buy into the box we've created for our lives, we slog through obligations, and we say no to scary, new desires, never allowing ourselves the freedom of exploring what it might look like if it were... different.

Liberation is, for many of us, an unexpectedly scary experience. There is fear in the face of freedom. The boundaries we've set for ourselves - emotionally, creatively, physically - they're familiar and known. Working within this framework is comfortable. Maybe a little squished, as the truth of who we are expands, straining to be revealed, but it's a well-known confinement. Freedom is new, uncharted territory. Liberation is life-changing, and we're all a little scared of change.

It's scary, yes, but it's so damn good.

As a sometimes stubbornly independent woman, I get to learn this lesson repeatedly - usually with a healthy dose of tear-soaked tissues nearby. Just today, in the midst of perfectionistic nitpicking and the overwhelm of trying to do all of the things for all of the people (whether they asked for it or not), I re-learned it.

Reaching out to my honey, the sweetest of sweethearts, I grew silent and asked, softly... "Am I just a mess?"

He spoke. Not to fix or solve my bleary-eyed meltdown. Only to say what I truly needed to hear: "You're human. You're allowed to be a mess." Mmmm, permission granted.

I tell myself that I need to go it alone. But there’s no freedom found in my stubborn solitude. Today, I give myself permission to delegate or depend, to lean in and be loved.

I tell myself that it needs more work, more polish. But there’s no beauty found in a flawless facade. Today, I give myself the freedom to push send or publish or release my work to the world.

I tell myself that I will never succeed, that I never have before. But there’s no truth found in the whispers of not-enoughness. Today, I give myself the permission to be great, or good, or good enough for now, to see victory in a breath or a step or a choice.

I tell myself that the client or gig or opportunity is not what I imagined for myself. But there’s no expansion found in the expected. Today, I give myself the freedom to do what feels free, to let ease and joy be a part of the picture, whatever it looks like.

I place myself in a well-known box. Today, I give myself permission to bust the hell out of it.

So, love... what's the permission slip that you need to write yourself? Where do you need to bust out of the box, lean into freedom, or allow yourself to say yes to yourself and your spirit?

I've made something just for you.

Download and print your own permission slip below, and keep it somewhere close by.

To remind yourself that you can grant yourself the permission to be less-than-perfect and entirely human. To remind yourself that you can grant yourself the permission to say "no" to what breaks you down and "yes" to everything that makes you feel brave and bold and wholly authentic. Because you can. 

P.S. If you know of a kindred spirit who just might need some inspiration (or at least be reminded that they, too, can write their own permission slip), I'd love for you to forward this to them! It might be just what they need!

 
 

i'm done apologizing

I married a man who is unapologetically himself.

I believe he got this from his mother, and I could not be more grateful.

I married a man who does not beat around the bush, asks for what he wants, and, when he feels something, is not afraid to share it, speak it, and stand behind it. He is unflinchingly honest, uncompromising when it comes to his values, and never questions his worth or the worth of others. 

For this strength, and so many others, I am deeply, deeply grateful. Even when it annoys the shit out of me.

You see, I am not the same way.

The truth is that there have been many, many times in my life that I’ve had nothing but apologies for who I am. 

Beyond asking for what I want, I felt unworthy of even exploring the depths of what I truly wanted. What I wanted was unimportant. At some point in what I can only imagine was my adolescence (because, let’s face it, puberty is where many of our limiting beliefs and negative patterns are born), I had stepped into and owned the story that I was a “good girl.” It colored nearly every piece of who I was, every choice, every word. And I was rewarded for it. In ego-stroking compliments, in met expectations, in good grades, and in the opinions of others.

So many of us know this story all too well. As the “good girl,” there is an unspoken set of rules, a set of “should’s.”

Here are just a few. Feel free to add your own or shift based on your experience. This is just mine.

The Rules of Being A “Good Girl”

  1. Here’s the order of importance: God, others, you. Aren’t religious? Skip God and go straight to others. The order still stands.
  2. Your official role: peacekeeper/do-gooder/sweetheart. Become an expert at reading people and deescalating tense situations. And smile. A lot.
  3. In that same vein, don’t rock the boat. I repeat, don’t rock the boat. That means: don’t ask for what you want if it’s different than what everyone else wants, let others take what they want first (you’ll be ok with whatever’s leftover, right?), and do not under any circumstances raise your voice or create conflict. Do not be too big, too loud, too much.
  4. You are going to want to be an “easy going” or “low maintenance” kind of gal. Go with the flow (even if it’s not your particular flow) and don’t ask for too much. Flexibility is the name of the game.
  5. You should be able to be friends with everyone. Even the ones who ask you to be less of yourself. (Because you can do that for them, right? See rules #1/#2/#3/#4.)
  6. Always do good. You’ll find that - at times - this might contradict rule #2/#3/#5/etc. At these moments, you’ll discover that your heart feels like it’s breaking and you won’t know what to do or which rule to honor. You’ll also find that this discomfort makes you want to surround yourself with people who make it easy to “do good,” to be a part of communities that make it easy to judge “good v. bad,” and to situate yourself in your comfort zone and not move from there. Because it’s easier and hurts your heart less.

The list goes on, but you get my point.

The truth is that being a “good girl” did not necessarily make me a good person. It made me easy to get along with, true. Easy to be “friends” with, absolutely. Easy to fit into a box and understand, yes. But it did not always make me a good person.

It made me less myself, by which I mean it made me less courageous, less kind, and less honest. It made me compromise my wants and desires, live within the confines of my comfort zone, and choose easy over brave. It made me doubt my worth, hide my truth, and lose my voice. Any true good that I accomplished became less of a choice and more of an expectation, rendering it less true and less good.

For a long, long time, I lived inside this story without even realizing it. Slowly but surely, I began to recognize that there was a twinge in my spirit, that something wasn’t quite right, quite true, quite real. I felt that slow and steady heartbreak as I became less and less of myself and more and more of what others expected me to be. I experienced the claustrophobic suffocation of my soul as I tried to fit into a smaller and smaller box.

When I was in my mid-twenties, I experienced an emotional growth spurt, a period of massive change and shifting and growth. I had just started graduate school, a part of a program which essentially guarantees massive life-upheaval - the kind that turns your beliefs and stories and judgments on their head and forces you to work through them. The program - and the people in it - effectively changed my life, providing the space and the encouragement and the right kind of challenge to draw out my realness and shine a light on all of the deep, shadowy stuff that keeps me from it. 

I had also just begun dating the man who would eventually become my husband - a man who inspired and supported freedom in me, who witnessed and celebrated the realness coming forth through my coursework.

I’ve written about it before, and this is how I described that moment in my life:

It was, in fact, a full-body tilt towards the sky and the stars, a self-love-soaked turning towards all that I could and would become.

Finally, I saw it. 

I saw the story that I had inhabited for so long. I recognized the “should’s” that I had let dictate and rule my life. At the same time, I recognized that not all of the rules were untrue and that the core of who I was had been there all along. I was, in fact, easy-going. And I did, in fact, value doing good. The problem was that, in inhabiting the role of the “good girl,” I had lost sight of what made me me and what doing good truly meant.

I recognized the story. And I released it.

Well, if I’m being honest, I’m still releasing it. There’s still a part of me - having been the “good girl” for so long - that instinctively apologizes for who I am. That blurts out an “I’m sorry” when I am emotional or challenging or loud. That tries to backtrack on my bravery or shrink out of sight in fear of being too big, too visible, too much.

I’m grateful to be surrounded by a community of people who love me enough to not stand for it. They call me out and refuse to let me apologize for my brilliance. They remind me of my wholeness and encourage me to embody it. They hold space for my humanity and inspire me to courageous and vulnerable realness. They recognize my capacity for greatness and they challenge me to it.

In releasing that story, I’ve written myself a new one. One where I seek truth and openness and curiosity and love above all else. One where I take up space and use my voice. One where I am as real as I possibly can be, for myself and for others.

It may not look pretty. It may piss more than a few people off. And that’s ok. I’m not making any apologies.

The truth is that part of me is a good girl. But not the kind that fits into a box or gives into other’s expectations.

The kind that writes her own damn rules.

 

Are you ready to write your own rules - to show up in a way that sounds and feels like you? Click here to download Unedited: Your Guide to Effortless & Authentic Content and get started today.

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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