How are your petunias? On growing and dying.

This summer I’ve been home for two months straight for the first time possibly since my teens.

As a result my “flower babies,” as I call them, have received a lot more attention.

Deadheading

Part of my morning ritual is deadheading my petunias. It sounds like something out of a horror movie but is actually quite therapeutic, for the plant and me. I lovingly sort through all the little stems and find the flowers that are on their way out. Then I gently grab just the head of the dying flower and put it in the compost.

This leaves the plant looking a little sparse right after the deadheading. A couple of days after this process, though, my petunias go gangbusters. New blooms are everywhere, and my little babies explode with vitality.

Last summer, because of my travel schedule, I only tended to my flower babies sporadically. As a result my petunias died by early July. It made me incredibly sad, but there was nothing to be done but put them in the compost.

This summer I vowed to be a better flower mama. (It’s unbelievable how much joy raising healthy plants brings me. I’m finding myself considering the lives of my flower babies before saying yes or no to a trip. Who knew?)

When my mom taught me about deadheading it was a revelation. She told me that, if the petunia has lots of flowers that have died, it gets the message that it’s time to go to seed. Basically, it shuts down and expires.

When the dead flower heads are regularly removed, however, new buds can come through, and the plant gets the message that there’s plenty of space and energy for new growth.

Life As A Petunia

The first time I saw the robust flowers that appeared a few days after my deadheading, I couldn’t help but think about my life as a petunia.

Every life has some dying flower heads that need to be lovingly removed to create space for new growth.

If you want to find the dead heads in your life, ask yourself:

What or who has been draining my energy?
How do I feel after spending time with the people in my life?
Where in my life do I not receive as much as I give?
What projects make me groan when I sit down to work on them?
Which projects just sit on my desk and never get touched because they feel expired even before they’ve been completed?
What habits detract from my vitality?

It’s Not Failure. It’s Nature.

Before I grew petunias I sometimes thought of letting go of nonmaterial things as sad, or even disappointing because it indicated failure.

But my little petunias have taught me a thing or two about the circle of life.

It is the nature of a flower to bud, bloom, and then die. The fact that its time as a vibrant blossom has ended doesn’t make it a failure as a flower. It’s simply fulfilled its flower life, if you will, and now it is time for a new healthy bloom to do the same. This is what serves the vitality and well-being of the whole petunia.

twitter_standingLetting go isn’t failure. It’s nature. (Tweet it.)

When you tend to your life and business and look for blossoms that have expired on a daily basis, the deadheading takes very little time and energy. A little regular maintenance goes a long way.

When you deadhead regularly, the ecosystem of your life gets the message to keep growing and keep blooming. If you don’t, well, your life thinks it’s going to seed.

twitter_standingWe’re either growing or dying. You choose. (Tweet it.)

We choose to grow by letting go of what’s no longer working. Sometimes this requires some mourning. Go there with your full heart and soul.

Each time you deadhead something in your life, even if it feels sad, remember: you are not a failure for letting go. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with this person or project. And there’s certainly not anything wrong with you.

It’s just time for new blossoms to grow.

What needs to be dead headed in your life? Declare what you’re letting go of in the comments below!

Share

Permission, intrinsic value, the act of creation, and making art: Insights from one wine-soaked conversation that changed everything.

It was that time in the evening when the wine and champagne had softened everyone’s edges and everything seemed to melt together a bit. We were seated at a round table laden with vegan brownie crumbs, and a lot of chairs had been abandoned in favor of the dance floor.

My friend Marie and I were among the lingerers at the table. She turned to me and asked one of the best conversation-igniting questions I’ve ever heard:

“What are you most excited about right now?”

It was October, almost exactly a month after my first book, Money: A Love Story, had launched.

And I was thoroughly knackered. Tuckered out. Tired. Spent. I felt creatively dried up and like I might never want to make anything ever again. It was kind of depressing.

I paused way longer than I was proud of, wracking my brain, hoping to land on a shred of enthusiasm about something other than sleeping.

“What I should say,” I thought, “is that I’m excited about the book launch.”

But that would have been a lie. The truth was, I was sick of talking and thinking about that book. I felt like it was all I’d been doing for months.

I sat and waited for a true answer to emerge.

“The truth is,” I finally said, “what I’m really excited about is planning our wedding.”

She could feel the somewhat apologetic tone in my voice. I should be out there marketing the book more. I should be doing more speaking gigs. I should be strategizing the next steps in my writing career.

But all I really wanted to do was flip through bridal magazines and Pin to my heart’s content.

In response, Marie began to wax eloquent about the nature of creativity, her slightly sleepy, wine-soaked voice punctuated a couple of times by my asking “What?!,” prompting her to lean over and speak directly into my ear in order to be heard over the band.

Marie reminded me that when it comes to creativity there’s no hierarchy. It doesn’t matter whether you’re throwing your whole heart and soul into making pasta sauce or into writing a New York Times bestseller.

She assured me that no act of creation is better than another. A well-executed, intimate dinner party is just as valuable as a seven-figure launch if it’s a true expression of who you are.

The act of passionate creation itself is what gives an endeavor merit — not its value in the marketplace.

Yes, I know that we all need to make money and that making money depends on whether or not someone will buy what we make.

But something’s (or someone’s) inherent value has nothing to do with how much cash someone is willing to part with in order to capture some piece of it.

twitter_standingMaking art is an intrinsically valuable act. Period. (CLICK TO TWEET)

Today your art might be a strawberry rhubarb pie. Tomorrow it might be a painting that will hang in the Guggenheim someday. And the day after that it might be the way you fluff and arrange your throw pillows.

The point is, just make art.

Marie was my angel of permission that night.

As I left the party I felt a profound sense of calm. Her words had been a salve to my soul.

twitter_standingWHEN IT COMES TO CREATIVITY, THERE IS NO HIERARCHY. ~MARIE FORLEO (CLICK TO TWEET)

Give yourself permission to create the things that are an expression of your soul. People will buy some of them. And some of them won’t ever be for sale.

The value is in the making. The value is in the enthusiasm. The value is in expressing who you are through the act of creation.

What are you most excited about making? What are you ready to give yourself permission to make, even if it may not have obvious value in the marketplace?

Leave a comment below—I want to hear about your art!

Share

We were together. I forget the rest.

As it turns out, planning a wedding is not for the faint of heart.

There are the logistics.

And then there’s the emotional stuff.

It’s really easy to perseverate on the logistics to avoid feeling the emotional stuff. I’ve noticed myself veer in that direction countless times in the last year and particularly in the last month or two.

It was shocking to me how many peoples’ first question after I told them I was getting married was, “What are your wedding colors?”

Really?! Out of all the things that contribute to a wedding, let alone a marriage, the first at the top of our minds is what are the colors going to be?

Now, I consider myself an artist. And I love adding beauty to the world. But I must admit, my wedding colors were never top of mind (and they ended up changing several times and finally being determined by the color of Mike’s suit and my sisters’ dresses).

I, of course, have not been left out of the crazy tulle and sequined froth that the bridal industry whips us into around these events.

I have obsessed about place cards, baskets for sparklers, signage, beverage containers, bistro lights, decoupaging the frame of a bulletin board, Road Trip themed mix CD’s and welcome bags, to name a few.

Each time I feel myself sneaking down that wormhole called “Stuff you’re wasting energy on that you’re not even going to remember in six months,” I’ve done my best to stop and back up.

Yesterday I was pretty far down the Welcome Bag wormhole. Making people feel at home is one of my absolute biggest pleasures and highest values. So the welcome bags for out-of-town guests have been a huge focus for me.

I couldn’t let the logistics go even after Mike officially called me off the project and told me he’d handle it. (He’s SO good like that. Reason #876 why I’m marrying him.)

Finally, he came up behind me to give me a hug. I tried to pull away, feeling rushed –I had more important things to do than stand around and hug.

“Don’t resist me,” he said. I still pulled.

“Don’t pull away,” he said. I still pulled.

“Let go,” he said. I pulled for a moment and then, finally, I relaxed every muscle in my body and melted to the floor, tears stinging the corners of my eyes.

Mike laid down next to me and we both fell into a fit of giggles.

A few months ago my friend Rachel posted the following quote on Instagram:

twitter_standingWe were together. I forget the rest. ~Walt Whitman (Click To TWEET)

Photo Credit: Gabrielle Bernstein

Photo Credit: Gabrielle Bernstein

When I read it I felt a zing of recognition through every cell of my body.

It was exactly the touchstone I needed during the wedding process.

(I even got it printed on cocktail napkins for the reception as my talisman reminding me to release the details that don’t matter and focus on what does: marrying the man I love in the company of those I love.)

I knew that I would marry Mike in a brown paper bag and serve bologna sandwiches if it meant getting to be with him and be witnessed by those I love.

Ultimately, that’s all that matters. And what I’ll be left with after the wedding day is my love for Mike and for the other people gathered with us.

Life is full of emotional transitions. Birth, death, marriage, graduation, leaving jobs, starting new ones, moving, breaking up, falling in love, surgeries, debuts, and more.

And for every emotional transition there’s an industry, substance, or set of rules designed to help you avoid feeling what it feels like to leave one state of being and start a new one.

No matter the life moment you find yourself in, take Mike’s words to heart:

Don’t resist.

Don’t pull away.

Let go.

twitter_standingSometimes God is in the details. And sometimes the details distract us from what’s real. (Click to Tweet)

Focus on feeling what’s real. Distill everything down to what really matters. And forget the rest.

What are you obsessing about right now that you could let go of? 

What detail has been a thorn in your tush for a while now that you could extract by deciding it doesn’t even need to be done?

Leave a comment below – your stories of letting go will be salve to others’ souls – including mine.

Epilogue: I wrote this post on July 3rd. Two days later I married the man of my dreams in the company of those I love. It was epic. (That is not a word I use lightly or often, but it’s the only one that truly captures the day.) The beautiful details like looking out at all the faces of our nearest and dearest during our ceremony are etched in my heart forever. We were together. I will forget a lot of it. But I will never forget the love.

Photo Credit: Terri Cole

Photo Credit: Terri Cole

 

Share

How Barbara Walters and Gretchen Rubin Helped Me Overcome Social Anxiety

When I was envisioning our wedding a year ago I decided to keep the bridal party simple and have my two sisters stand up there with me. I’d made a mental list of the important women in my life and realized that I could either have 15 bridesmaids or 2. There really wasn’t much in between. So I went with 2.

Investing in and maintaining close, meaningful friendships is at the core of my being. I have friends who I met before either of us were potty trained. I recently cancelled a speaking gig and lost a boat load of money because it was so important to me to witness a girlfriend of 10 years get married. It was money well worth losing.

Given my proclivity to making and keeping friends, I get asked about building a network a lot. People say, “You’re so social and you seem to know everyone. You make friends so easily. How do you do that?”

When I tell them the truth, they’re usually surprised.

I have social anxiety.

No, it’s not diagnosed or anything. But it’s real.

I would so rather speak in front of thousands of people than go to a cocktail party where I don’t know anyone. The idea of going to a wedding where I only know either the bride or groom and I don’t have a date gives me palpitations.

I was nervous about talking to waiters and waitresses, let alone striking up a conversation out of the blue with a random bystander. I started my network marketing business at the tender age of 18 I realized that I would need to learn to talk to strangers in order to be successful. 

I really wanted to build my business. My dream of creating financial freedom by the age of 30 so that I could stay home with my kids one day and live abundantly was ripe.

I knew I needed to do something about my fear.

I started going to a counselor who specialized in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT.) We would sit in her chintzy living room and I would go through probably half a box of tissues per session, at least.

We role-played. She gave me assignments each week.

Advice From The Queen Of Questions Herself

She recommended a book to me that totally changed my life: How To Talk To Practically Anyone About Practically Anything by Barbara Walters.

(It’s out of print and relatively expensive to get a copy but well worth it.)

Here’s what I learned from Barbara Walters that helped me move through my social anxiety and build my treasured community (I much prefer that word to network):

  • Remember that everyone is human. No matter if you’re a foreign dignitary, a Fortune 100 CEO, a billionaire entrepreneur, a stay-at-home mom, or a plumber, everyone is human and everyone is struggling with something and is excited about something.
  • Be genuinely interested in the humans around you and find out what they’re excited about and what they’re struggling with.
  • Ask about things that have nothing to do with their career. Often people in leadership or high profile positions spend all day thinking and talking about work. A great conversation about their little girl’s ballet recital can be so refreshing and disarming.
  • Connect with your heart. I’m genuinely enchanted by people’s stories about their kids and how they first met/fell in love with their significant other. These are my go-to topics because my heart opens when I ask about them and usually the person I’m talking to’s heart pops wide open when they start talking about them.

Bringing It Home With Gretchen Rubin

A few years ago I was at SXSW. I was one month into The Freedom Tour, had been blogging less than a year, and ran into Gretchen Rubin at a party. I’d read her book The Happiness Project in one sitting on a plane to France because I found it so delightful and engrossing.

I was star struck. I was totally nervous to be talking with a NY Times Bestselling author and super successful blogger.

So I remembered Barbara and started asking Gretchen about her kids. Before I knew it, I’d forgotten that I was talking with a celebrity.

Gretchen began telling me about her wacky and wonderful obsession with miniature things.  She described these whimsical little dioramas of rooms, cityscapes and other scenes that she’d created within her kitchen and bathroom cabinets. (I’ve since learned that she’s written and shared about this extensively but at the time, it was completely news to me.) I was completely bewitched by the idea of going to grab a handful of almonds and being greeted by a tiny world living on a shelf inside the cabinet.

I have no idea if Gretchen remembers the conversation or me, but that’s not the point.

The point is this:

twitter_standingYour genuine interest in another human is one of the greatest gifts you have to give. Give it. (Click to tweet)

When you strip off your own layers of pretense and ask people real questions about their real life as a human being, you create connection.

Connection is the greatest intangible currency we have. It’s what we live for. And it’s within our power to create it whether we’re checking out at the supermarket or interacting with senior executives during the biggest meeting of our lives.

If you ever experience social anxiety remember this: everyone is human. Start there and you’ll do great.

Do you ever experience social anxiety? What have you done to get over it that’s worked for you? I’d love to hear your tips and I know everyone else would too! Please leave a comment below.

Share

The Infinite Possibilities in Saying “I Do”

10409191_791403324215543_2594098735979151267_n

Decor for our road trip themed wedding.

I used to think that freedom meant boundlessness.

I used to think it was like looking at a vast horizon with every possibility in the world.

I used to think freedom meant the ability to choose literally anything at anytime… and to change my mind at the float of a feather.

I’m about to make the biggest commitment of my life, thus far. Next week I’m getting married.

I know many people who fear making a choice because it will limit their options. And I totally get that. I’ve been there.

But here’s what I’ve noticed of late:

Making a clear decision opens up a deeper level of freedom that you don’t get when you stay on the fence.

A clear ”No” frees us up to experience a “Hell yes!”

A firm boundary creates a safe territory in which we can express ourselves freely.

Laser focus allows us the freedom to go deeper than we ever would have with our buckshot attention firing at lots of things at once. 

There are billions of men on the planet. And yet I’m choosing one. 

This single decision frees me from having to make bazillions of decisions down the line.

Who am I going to spend holidays with? Mike.

Who am I going to go on dates with? Mike.

Who am I going to sleep next to? Mike.

Who am I going to wake up next to? Mike.

Who am I going to invest my mind, body, heart, and soul in for the rest of my life? Mike.

All of the decisions that this single decision is saving me free up heap-loads of time and energy. I can literally experience how spacious that feels in my body as I type this.

The time and energy we save when we’re willing to make a clear decision sets us free.

It’s what allows the static to finally silence so we can sink our teeth into something. It’s where the possibility of freedom begins. 

Everything rests on the surface until you make a choice.

Layers upon layers of unfathomable richness are available if, and only if, we have the courage to say yes or no.

Do we miss out on things when we get off the fence and make a clear move toward yes or no? You bet your bippy we do.

But right in this very moment you’re missing out on 99.99999% of what’s going on around the universe. So am I.

The fact is we can only be where we are. And if where we are is mired in half-baked commitments and half-made decisions, we’re not only missing out on everything that’s going on around the universe, we’re also missing out on the only moment we can possibly experience anyway: right now.

Next week I will walk down the aisle toward my man and toward the biggest decision of my life. As I do so, I will be making a bold and definitive choice to be all in.

It’s a choice that will close many doors, for sure.

But I cannot wait to experience the infinite freedom of the new doors that will swing wide open the moment we say, “I do.”

What are you ready to say “I do” to in your life? What are you ready to say “I don’t” to? When do you find you struggle with decisions the most? The least?

Please leave a comment below – I’d love to hear your experience.

Share

I’m peeling off the pressure this summer – you with me?

These 9 words pretty much sum up how almost every woman I know feels: Tired of feeling like we have to be it all, do it all, have it all,… perfectly, now, and at the same time. Aren’t you tired of feeling like there is always more to do, with little to no time andContinue Reading

Share

Announcing The Freedom Immersion – come mastermind with us in Maine!

WHAT IF YOU COULD SUDDENLY SHUT OUT DISTRACTIONS AND SHINY OBJECTS, WORK FEWER HOURS, AND EARN ENOUGH INCOME TO SPEND EVERY DAY EXACTLY THE WAY YOU WANT? Today I have a really special announcement about the very reality described above. Mike and I have have been busy planning not one, but two, very special events. The first is ourContinue Reading

Share

How to help the world help you

No one is ever going to read your mind. At least not really. There are things that matter. There are hills worth dying on. There are things we really, really want. But what happens is we doubt our wants. We ask one time and we get a no, so we never ask again. We avoidContinue Reading

Share

A simple technique to ensure you don’t miss the moment.

This past Memorial weekend, I stayed in a huge converted barn with 12 of the most important people of my life. It was a non-bachelorette bachelorette weekend. Instead of penis straws, we had candles infused with specific prayers to manifest our desires. Instead of the Vegas strip, our view was a gorgeous grass-fed cattle farm.Continue Reading

Share

Why I’m no longer panicking about fitting into my wedding dress

I’ll admit, I was skeptical. When I first heard about tapping, or the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), I thought it was really weird. Seriously, could tapping my hand on points on my body really be an effective strategy for overcoming pain, anxiety, or any of the other things it claimed to help? As it turnsContinue Reading

Share