How I am Moving Beyond Fear

Selfie-Jul14

Promoting myself has always provoked fear. I have a long history of being looked at in a way that wasn’t positive or encouraging.

I was born with a mild form of spina bifida (a condition that puts most people in wheelchairs). After having surgery as an infant, I suffered no health effects at all. Yet, I still had to endure annual check ups at a teaching hospital that were frankly more for the benefit of student doctors and interns than me. When I was five years old, I remember being led into a room and made to stand in front of a group of men in white coats. My dress was pulled up so they could study my back. They talked in medical terms over my head. Cold fingers touching my back. The unspoken message was “you are different” and “you are defective.”

This message was reinforced by a second grade teacher who made me stand up in front of the class and tell everyone what was “wrong” with my back.

To be honest, my parents were much better, although I don’t think they intended to hurt me. I remember my mother telling a complete stranger all about my back when he wanted to know why I was so small. I felt violated and humiliated.

So, suffice to say, I have a tough time being seen. It’s impacted many aspects of my life. I chose to pursue communications instead of journalism because I’d be behind the scenes. I enjoy figure skating but rarely do competitions because being seen and judged has been pretty rough.

Own the Story. Control the Story.

So, here I am today with stories to tell, a book that is nearly ready to go out into the world and an e-course to promote. I need to step out past my fears and allow myself to be seen.

It comes with the understanding that unlike when I was a child, I control my story. I decide what I share. I’ve also decided to own my story. By sharing my deepest hurts, I diminish their power over me.

I open myself up to new experiences and new people, knowing that I have the power to engage with those who come from a place of love and compassion, and that I can shut out those that don’t.

Make Friends with Fear

I recently watched a short video with Jonathan Fields and Clay Hebert, who talked about making friends with fear. Until recently, I thought fear was something to either avoid or conquer.

Instead fear could be seen as a sign that you are going in the right direction. After all, if you really didn’t want to do something, or care about something, you wouldn’t feel fear.

I’m not talking about the fear of falling when you are standing at the top of a cliff or some other form of physical fear – that kind of fear keeps us from doing something stupid and getting hurt or killed.

I’m talking about the fear of writing a book, fear of sending out a blog post, fear of quitting the job and starting a business – or someone sort of challenge that pushes us out of our comfort zone.

These are things I care about. So, I fear the fear and take baby steps towards my goals. I’m slowly pushing my fear boundaries outward, trusting that my fear will slowly evaporate as I achieve my goals.

My fear also slowly evaporates as my blog posts and other offerings are met with positive feedback from people I admire and care about.

I have received snarky comments and that stings, but I don’t value those people, so after a little sulking, I hit the delete button. After all, it’s my blog, my space, my home. I control how it gets furnished.

How do you move beyond fear?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you. Share your story!

To Live in Fear is the Worst Form of Insult

Selfie-Leslie-Spit

“To live in fear is the worst form of insult to our true selves. By having such a low regard for who we are – for our instincts and abilities and worth – we build a cage around ourselves. To prevent others from shutting us down, we do it for them. Trapped by our own fears, we then pretend that we’re incapable of having what we want, forever waiting for others to give us permission to start living. Pretty soon, we start to believe this is the only way.”

~ Arianna Huffington

From On Becoming Fearless … In Love, Work, and Life

Five Things Friday: Writing Rituals

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Jennifer Louden shares her writing ritual

Writer’s Daily Rituals - The daily habits of writers, musicians and other artists (Brain Pickings)

The Odd Habits and Curious Customs of Famous Writers (Brain Pickings)

Writing as A Spiritual Practice – Dani Shapiro in conversation with Jonathan Fields (Good Life Project)

8 Strange Rituals of Productive Writers (Copyblogger)

My writing ritual

  • I plan what I’m going to work on the night before and write it down in my planner. I try to give myself no more than 2-3 creative projects to work on each day. More than that, and things just don’t get done.
  • I check my email and social media feeds before I set down to write. This goes against the advice of many, but I find I can writing easier knowing that I’ve dealt with any urgent issues from my clients and feel connected to the wider world beyond my desk. Writing can be a lonely pursuit, after all.
  • Write in my journal – I write in my journal just about every day. My journal serves as a place to dump my daily worries and nagging thoughts. It also serves as a writing “warm up” – I limber up my writing mind and getting ready to work on whatever writing project I’m working on that day, such as my book or a professional writing project.
  • I sit down to write. If I’m working on my own writing project, I aim to write about 1,000 words and work for about two hours. I find I just can’t do more than that. Mind you, I do spend time writing a blog post or working on website copy in addition to my own writing project. If I have a freelance writing project, I give myself daily goals and try to spend 2-3 hours each day working on the project, sometimes more if there is a pressing deadline.
  • I try to work on my personal writing project in the morning and freelance projects in the afternoon.
  • I’m a bit of a night owl by nature, but I’m trying to become more of a morning person. However, sometimes ideas come to me in the evening or just before bed, so I keep a stack of index cards and a pen handy to jot down ideas. If I don’t write them down, I will forget them.

What is your writing ritual?

Change is slow and that is good

At the World Domination Summit, all of the attendees were given unique Bravebots by Gary Hirsch. My bravebot sits on my desk and gives me blasts of bravery when needed.
At the World Domination Summit, all of the attendees were given unique Bravebots by Gary Hirsch. My bravebot sits on my desk and gives me blasts of bravery when needed.

As I’ve mentioned a couple of times on this blog, two and a half years ago I left my job in corporate communications to write a book and figure out a new way to live my life.

Since then, I’ve been on a slow journey towards building a life and business on my own terms. Without really intending on it, I thrust myself onto the path of personal growth. I’ve made progress, but sometimes I lose sight of that.

On days when nothing much seems to be happening for me, I think – have I changed at all? But then I look back and realize that I’m not the scared, anxious woman I was the summer after I left my corporate job. That woman knew what she wanted, but didn’t have the guts to say her dream out loud, let alone put it into action. That woman couldn’t see beyond two stark options – make money doing what she didn’t love, or do what she loved and not make money. This woman now knows that the dichotomy doesn’t have to be true and that there is a whole rainbow of options.

Big change happens in tiny steps.

The biggest thing I’ve learned is that change happens in tiny steps. When I was an employee, things seemed to happen, if not suddenly, then certainly decisively. I got the job or I didn’t. I got the raise or the promotion, or I didn’t. The success or failure was sudden.

The life of a creative entrepreneur is about slow, incremental steps, each one requiring bravery. Every blog post, every tweet, every email message, and every hour spent writing or editing my book is a small act of bravery – and a small victory.

I used to spend time waiting for that big “a ha” moment when I would feel ready, when I would feel brave, when I would suddenly have the gusto to pursue my dreams in one big burst of action.

It doesn’t work that way. I stopped waiting and started taking small actions, pushing against the edges of my fear. I didn’t feel “ready” but I took action anyways.

What small, brave steps are you taking towards your dream?

Pst. Writing a journal is a great way to uncover your dreams, connect to yourself and track your small, brave actions. Registration for Cultivating Connections – A 30-day Introduction to Journal Writing is now open. You just might like it.

My Journal Practice

Journal page & Wild Unknown Tarot CardI write in my journal almost every morning. I used to write in the evening, but that was more an occasional practice. Then, several years ago, I worked my way through The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and she advocates the practice of writing Morning Pages – three pages written long hand first thing every morning. Morning pages is more a form of free writing, or stream of conscience writing.

I still write most mornings, but my journal writing has evolved over time. First of all, I don’t have a set page count. Sometimes I write only a page or two and other mornings I write four or more pages. It really depends on how much I have on my mind.

Many morning, I jumpstart my journal practice by pulling a single Tarot card and using its description as a way in to writing about what is on my mind and how I’m going to face the day. My favourite Tarot desk is The Wild Unknown. I love the hand-drawn images and nature symbolism. The cards speak to me. However, if you are not into Tarot cards, you could also use a daily Bible passage or other spiritual passage. There is no right or wrong – just what speaks to you.

My journal is a safe place.

This launches me into my daily writing. I write about what I plan to do for the day. I write about my hopes and fears. I write about encounters with friends and strangers. Could I have done something different? As a writer, I sometimes write about what I’m going to write about and sometimes this evolves into writing a rough first draft of a blog post or an article. I like it when that happens. My journal is a safe place so when I feel stuck in my writing, it is a great place to explore without any pressure or commitment. The writing in my journal is for my eyes only, so it doesn’t matter if it is “good” or not.

When I first began keeping a diary at age 12, I mostly wrote down what I had done each day. I’ve kept those diaries and now I can look back and read when I had exams or stayed over at my best friend’s house, but I have no idea how I felt at the time. Now, I try to write about events and places I’ve been by describing them in a way that will be meaningful to me years from now. I also try to describe how those events made me feel – was I happy, sad, anxious or bored?

My journal is my daily companion.

My journal has become a record of my life and a daily companion. And the practice of journal writing has become a form of mindful meditation for me. When I sit down to write, I step out of the stream of my life to take a moment to review, reflect and capture those moments before they slip away.

* Interested in developing your own journal writing practice? My new e-course Cultivating Connections – A 30-day Introduction to Journal Writing is now open for registration!

A How-to Guide to World Domination

Last weekend, I attended the 4th annual World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon. It was my second time at WDS and it was just as fantastic as the first time. Once again, Chris Guillebeau and his team brought together an amazing group of speakers and performers. We heard from New York Times bestselling writer A. J. Jacobs, who is funny as hell, Dee Williams, who has made an art of living in a tiny house, Michael Hyatt, who gave a very personal and inspiring talk, and Jadah Sellner, who was honest and inspiring.

I’ve been trying to write a deep and thoughtful article summing up everything I learned, but finally decided I would just let the speakers who most inspired me speak for themselves.

So, here is my quotable guide to the World Domination Summit 2014.

Before you begin your quest for world domination, recognize that…

“You are more successful than you think just by getting up in the morning.”

~ Dee Williams

As you begin formulating your dreams, consider…

“How do I want to be remembered?”

~ Michael Hyatt

Once you have decided on your dreams…

“Say your dreams out loud.”

~ Jadah Sellner

You have permission to …

“Go on a journey and ask people to come along. You don’t have to be an expert.”

~ Pam Slim

And, remember that…

Scott Berkun. Photo Courtesy of Armosa Studios
Scott Berkun. Photo Courtesy of Armosa Studios

“You have to be vulnerable to be creative.”

~ Scott Berkun

And…

“Whatever resources you have is enough.”

~ a participant at Pam Slim’s meet up

Jaddah Sellner. Photo Courtesy of Armosa Studios
Jaddah Sellner. Photo Courtesy of Armosa Studios

“Take imperfect actions.”

~ Jadah Sellner

“Create a virtuous cycle. Force yourself into action. This will create a positive feedback loop.”

~ A. J. Jacobs

As you begin making your dreams real…

A. J. Jacobs. Photo Courtesy of Armosa Studios
A. J. Jacobs. Photo Courtesy of Armosa Studios

“Be bold.”

“Fake it till you make it.”

~ A. J. Jacobs

“Don’t let the urgent over take the important.”

~ Michael Hyatt

When failure occurs, and it will….

“Let go of what didn’t work.”

~ Jadah Sellner

When you feel fear, consider….

“How you hold your body has an effect on how you feel.”

~ A. J. Jacobs

Michael Hyatt. Photo courtesy Armosa Studios
Michael Hyatt. Photo courtesy Armosa Studios

“What single brave decision do I need to make today?”

~ Michael Hyatt

Dee Williams. Photo Courtesy Armosa Studios
Dee Williams. Photo Courtesy Armosa Studios

“Be a superhero.”

~ Dee Williams, who showed us how to put on our invisible capes

If you are waiting for some big changes in your life…

“True life is lived when tiny changes occur.” ~ Leo Tolstoy

As quoted by John Jantsch

And finally…

John Jantsch. Photo Courtesy of Armosa Studios
John Jantsch. Photo Courtesy of Armosa Studios

“Make good choices!”

John Jantsch

My Quest for World Domination…

Ha! I bet that got your attention!

Actually, I am attending the World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon this weekend. One of the questions asked of participants before arrival is “What are your goals for WDS?”

First, a little back story. This will be my second time attending WDS. I arrived last year as a freshman, shy and nervous. I didn’t know anyone who would be attending the conference. Or rather, I didn’t know anyone in real life – I knew many of the bloggers and online biz folks I follow and admire would be attending, but they wouldn’t know me from Adam.

But fate was on my side. I met the lovely Vivienne MacMaster in the Vancouver airport while waiting for our connecting flight. Actually, she came up to me because she heard me say I was going to the World Domination Summit while going through U.S. Customs (imagine saying that to a customs agent! Fortunately, he was cool.) So, I had someone to hang out before I even arrived in Portland. Then, Vivienne and I met up with Kristen Noelle, whom I’d met before at the Creative Joy Retreat. Suddenly, I was no longer alone. Through these ladies I was introduced to many of my favourite bloggers – who quickly became my favourite people.

Plus, I discovered that everyone at WDS was warm, open and friendly. It was easy to meet people. After all, we all share similar life missions – to live an unconventional life.

So, here are my goals for this year:

  • To be open to meeting as many new people as I can.
  • To deepen the relationships I have the people I met last year.
  • To come away with new ideas to improve and grow my business.
  • Help set a Guinness World Record for the longest yoga chain!
  • To take lots of photos during the two photo walks I am attending.
  • I’m an introvert and a Highly Sensitive Person, so I give myself permission to step out when I feel the need.
  • Try to to buy too many books at Powell’s!

I’ll share photos and thoughts from WDS very soon!

Shedding the Conventional Life

My parents ran their own business before they pulled my sister and I out of school as teenagers to live on a sailboat for a year and a half. You’d think this would set me up for an unconventional life, but I craved the opposite. I wanted security, respect and a title of importance.

So, that is what I set out to accomplish and I got what I thought I wanted. A degree from a fancy university, a graduate diploma and eventually a career in corporate communications.

I thought I’d made it.

Except I got laid off. Three times. In a row.

So much for security and respect.

I didn’t listen to the universe or my own intuition and landed a fancy-pants management job with a decent company, nice coworkers, and good benefits and salary.

I hated it.

After a year and a half, I shed the job.

I discovered that leaving the job was the easy part – shedding the mindset has been much harder. It has been a step-by-step process for me.

I wanted to do what most matters to me – personal and professional writing that transforms.

First, I shed the professional communicators association after one last “networking” meeting. Imagine a room full of women in perfectly coiffed hair and pantsuits talking about “key messages” and “marketing channels.” I stood in the corner, eating far too many chocolate cookies and resisted the urge to wipe my sticky fingers on the nearest suit and shout -

“Do any of you actually enjoy this?”

When my membership came up for renewal, I agonized over what to do. I knew my colleagues thought I “should” renew it, but I just didn’t want to. Then I thought of something that either Kate Courageous or Danielle LaPorte (can’t remember which one, maybe both?) said -

If it’s not a HELL, YES! than it’s a NO.

I tossed the renewal notice in the trash.

Along with all this shedding, I opened up to a new way of life and making a living.

After reading some of the works of Eric Maisel, I have begun to train as a Creativity Coach. I love it. I love that I can use all the skills I acquired as a communications manager to help creative people create.

(I am currently offering FREE email coaching, so please check it out. I want to work with you.)

I am a writer. I am finishing my book – it really is almost done – just some final edits. I’ve got more books and e-books planned.

My daily journalling practice has been essential to getting me through these last couple of years. I’m sharing what I’ve learned in a new e-course that launches this fall. Check it out, you just might like it.

I’m still doing some freelance work because I like the clients I have. They like and respect what I have to offer. I like and respect what they put out into the world. I will also be pursuing my dream of uncovering interesting stories and writing for magazines, newspapers and blogs.

So, this is where I am right now. Still shedding. Still growing. I have no regrets. Everything I’ve done has led me to this moment.

By the way, do you like the new website design? I do. After changing the design umpteen times over the last couple of years, (having some web skills can be a dangerous thing!) I think I’ve finally settled on something I love. It feels right.

I promise I’ll also be updating this blog much more often. I’m aiming for a post a day, Monday through Friday.

I’m off to the World Domination Summit this week and I’m looking forward to sharing everything I learn with you.