The Myth of the Better Half, (Part Two)

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My coach Kimberly

Says I should write a haiku

For each post! (Nailed it.)

IMG_2262I have put off writing this second installment, in part because I have been busy and also because I did not know what to write.

Three months ago, I returned to my childhood home in Ashland, Oregon, with the intention of visiting my parents for the fall and winter and also cleaning out my childhood bedroom. I sought to consciously close the chapter of my first two and a half decades of life. In addition, I had the hunch that some of the missing threads in my book might be found there, stored away in the boxes of school papers I had stowed away under my bed; tucked between forgotten hats and outgrown snow boots in the back of my closet; or slipped between the pages of my favorite childhood books, left behind and gathering dust in my improvised fruit crate bookshelf. read more

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The Myth of the Better Half, (Part One)

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From time to time in my life, I have shown up at a bar or restaurant by myself, and—as I stood beside the ‘Please Wait to be Seated’ sign—I have made eye contact with the host or hostess, and been asked:

“Just one?”

It doesn’t have to be a loaded question, but to me it often feels that way.

“Yup!” I’ll say, (too enthusiastically.)

OR

“Just me today!” with a cheerful laugh, which is meant to reassure them that I feel great about my life, and they shouldn’t worry about me because I really—seriously!—do have friends with whom I go to restaurants and bars and such places, so my being alone on this particular occasion is completely, 100 percent, a choice. read more

Trouble

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It occurred to me this past weekend that I have spent much of my life trying to avoid making other people feel uncomfortable.

Not only did I assign myself the impossible job of keeping everyone’s feathers in an unruffled state, I think that on some level I assumed that making someone uncomfortable was just about the worst sin one could possibly commit. I mean, what could be worse, right?

(Can you think of anything? I can’t.)

Upon closer examination, my tendency towards preemptive and over-the-top courtesy unravels to reveal a far less altruistic motivation: I never wanted to be the person who made others uncomfortable. I never wanted to be that girl, the 5th wheel weirdo, the “who invited her?” party guest. read more

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If Not Now, When?

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I have taken an almost two year hiatus from blogging. At the time, I let my blog become a burden, allowed it to become heavy until it weighed me down, and anything I wrote felt boring, irrelevant, and like an irksome duty.

I am returning to blogging because there is a great deal to say. I don’t mean by me, necessarily (although I do have a voice that I intend to put to use.) More than this, there are so many voices being cut out, intentionally silenced each day, and there are so many truths that deserve to be brought to the light, talked about, discussed, mulled over. read more

En route to Writing

CreativityUncategorizedWriting

Boy, it takes a lot to get me to the page. I am often struck by this fact. I hem and I haw; I do the dishes and I clean my room and I take naps. I do my laundry. I rearrange the furniture. Some days, I would probably redecorate an entire house if given the chance rather than pick up my pen. My aversion to starting my writing is just that strong.

However, sometimes I find that if I rush into writing, I am so tense that what I write is stilted and forced. So I guess what I’m saying is that there is something to be said for taking a bit of time to prepare myself mentally for the task for writing, for allowing myself a certain amount of happy puttering around the house before I sit down to write. It feels more gentle than the other approach, in which I force myself into the chair at the same time every day or else reprimand myself for wasting time on other tasks. It’s not as kind, this approach. It leads to desperate, unhappy and resentful writing. read more

Showing Up

AnxietyCourageCreativityFearUncategorizedWorkWriting

I have been writing pretty much every morning, and I feel like a mess. It’s never good enough. But I want to give myself credit for showing up to the page, because, frankly, my writing will never be good enough in my eyes. I have started to realize that trying to prove myself to myself is a losing battle.

The page always stares me down. The blankness of it. And you know what’s funny? Not having anything to write about often makes me feel like I’m going to die. It’s one of the worst feelings in the world. I think I’m a failure and a mess and I am going to die. I start to panic and then I resort to blaming myself. (Really productive, I know.) Why is it always so hard? And why do the stakes seem so, incredibly high? read more

Feminism: A Reflection

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Today, I want to write about feminism. Feminism can be a controversial topic. I bet you someone will read that opening line, and will say: “Enough already. Stop harping.” Or they will have stopped reading after the title because they don’t want to hear any more man-hating drivel. In which case they will miss the fabulous joke about pandas in the next few lines.

A man in a movie theater noticed what looked like a panda sitting next to him.

“Are you a panda?” asked the man, surprised. read more

Today is a New Day

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Today is a new day. That may seem a trite or obvious statement, but I don’t view it that way. I view it as nothing short of revolutionary. I view it as one of the more empowering statements on the planet. Yesterday happened. And it may have sucked. But today is a new day. Let’s start fresh, wipe the slate clean, and begin again.

Last night, after a discouraging day, I had a discouraging thought, and I sank into a discouraging mood. “I know what tomorrow will be like,” I thought glumly as I got ready for bed. “It will be just like today.” read more

Going with the Flow

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I am often afraid to let myself be happy, because I think that I will simply stop being a productive member of society and I will lounge around eating peeled grapes and sipping piña coladas. This is actually very unlikely, given my temperament. I LOVE to work, when I can get out of my own way and stop stressing and worrying. Which brings me to my next point, which has to do with the concept of “ecstasy.”

The word “ecstasy” comes from the Greek ekstasis, which means to stand outside of. To me, the etymology of “ecstasy” is telling, because it emphasizes the fact that ecstatic states take us out of ourselves. Another way to interpret this is that we can jumpstart the process of becoming happier by standing outside of ourselves, by getting out of our own way. This resonates with my own experience, in that I find I am happiest when I am immersed in an activity that takes me away from everyday consciousness, when I give myself permission to pursue a beloved task wholeheartedly and with complete focus. This state is what renowned researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls flow. (You can watch his TED talk on “flow” here.) read more

Letting Go

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I know I’ve mentioned her before, but Danielle LaPorte is one of my favorite contemporary  thinkers and innovators, and I want to share with you her most recent “Burning Question” which is this:

What would you be more of if you let go of the past?

And what a question it is. So much of what I do today is in reference to, or in apology for, or in reaction to, what happened to me yesterday. Or the day before. Or five years ago. And it just doesn’t make sense. Now, don’t get me wrong: healing makes sense. Acknowledging and addressing the past in a proactive way makes sense. But mulling, ruminating and blaming doesn’t make sense. In fact, it just gets in the way of living this moment authentically and fully. read more

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