Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Being New and Sucking At It

When I went through coach training 6 years ago, one of the first things we were taught was that we would never succeed if we couldn't make peace with sucking. In order to be good, we had to first embrace being bad. As a new coach, this was the last thing I wanted to do.

But the truth is that making peace with stumbling is what can help you soldier on.

If you can't be comfortable with the suck factor, you'll quit—or worse, just drive yourself crazy amidst the discomfort. This reminder ended up serving me endlessly as I cut my chops as a new coach, but as time passed and I hunkered into familiar roles where I excelled, its importance drifted out of my mind.

At the beginning of August, I started a new freelance writing job for a big tech company and the feeling of being new threw me so off balance you'd have thought I was wearing banana peel boots. I was used to being an expert—the go-to girl for smart answers. That's how I'd been operating for years at my previous job and I was so comfortable in that role.

I had forgotten how to be the new guy. 

I had forgotten how to be ok with sucking. How to treat myself—and my new job—with grace and understanding that this state of discombobulation was only temporary. Instead, my instinct was to think, "Oh man, this is so hard. It's not really fun either. It might just be a terrible fit for me!"

But that wasn't the truth. I was working with old friends, writing interesting stuff that really wasn't so hard, being paid nicely, and enjoying the flexibility to dash out to my garden in the middle of the day.

What was hard was being new. What was not fun was being new.

Until I reminded myself (with the help of my life guru ex-boss who is a total rockstar) that everything I was feeling was normal for a newbie, I felt stuck and really uncertain about my future in the new gig. But I'm learning to walk and I'm going to get better at it. Soon I'll be running and at some point I may even be back to being an expert.

Imagine if babies quit when new things felt hard or not so fun. The first time they face-planted when testing out their feet, they'd be like "Well I guess it's back to crawling for me!" How many adults would spend their time on hands and knees just because it felt more comfortable than learning how to move upright?

It all reminds me of a client I had who kept bouncing from one job to the next. The client claimed that everything was the wrong fit, but now I have to wonder if it was just the feeling of newness that felt wrong. Maybe, all along, the real key to finding the right fit was making peace with stumbling for a while.

There's power in learning to suck at something. 

And I'm so grateful I've had to relearn that firsthand.

Monday, August 20, 2018

You Matter: A Love Letter

Nearly 5 years ago, I launched a free monthly email love letter program aimed at sending kindness, encouragement, a little guidance, and a lot of love at whoever was willing to read. I hoped that it might brighten readers' days—or maybe give them a gentle and needed nudge to make change. I was awed when, each month, someone (or many) would write back to me and tell me the letter was exactly what they needed to hear that day.

I've decided to retire the letters but plan to repost many of them here for those who weren't subscribers at the time they went out. As always, I hope that maybe they'll make those who read them feel understood and adored.



I was at a party recently when someone started telling a story about a baby with a minor birth defect. A question came up about it, and a friend who was sitting next to me rattled off a bunch of answers under her breath, but when I encouraged her to share them with the person who brought up the story, she shrunk like a wilting daisy.

When was the last time you hid your greatness?

It’s funny how sometimes you know you have something truly valuable to contribute but fear of judgment, or seeming like a know-it-all, or maybe just the sound of your own voice stops you dead in your tracks.

The thing is, what you have to say matters.

What you do matters. Who you are matters. Out of the 7+ billion people on this planet, you are the only one with your exact mixture of smarts, talent, insight, beauty, and wit. When you don’t share what you have to offer—when you dim your unique light—you’re doing the world a disservice.


Kidding. Sort of…

This world needs what you have. And your spirit needs the world to have it. You need to be yourself and use your voice, or else you’re not living what Brene Brown would call a “wholehearted” life.

Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t make yourself small. Step up and step into your power. Speak up and speak your truth. Give us all you’ve got.

And we’ll love you even more for it.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

My #1 Sanity Saver for 2017

I saw a statistic on the morning news today about how a record number of Americans are currently suffering from stress, depression, and anxiety. Though I found this dismaying, I didn't find it surprising. Because, on and off, I've been one of those Americans.

Toward the end of last year, I found myself trying to stay afloat amidst waves of stress, frustration, and pessimism about the world at large. My day job was getting on my last nerve. My patience at home was as thin as ever. When I looked around myself, I saw unfinished projects, an uncertain future, an unstable country.

So when the New Year arrived, I decided to resurrect my favorite mood-altering habit: writing in a daily gratitude journal.

It was working okay, but after hearing about a new, more structured gratitude journal while listening to a podcast, my husband challenged me to up my game. He bought each of us a copy of The Five-Minute Journal and dove right into it with his signature gusto. I, on the other hand, resisted the new book. I thought my old methods were just fine—I didn't need some fancy new fill-in-the-blanks book to help me craft my practice.

Oh, how very wrong I was.

People, this book is life-changing. And I'm not being dramatic. And I'm not getting compensated in any way to say this.

The journal truly does require only 5-10 minutes of your day. A quick entry in the morning, another at the end of the night, and you're done. But the transformation it can spark has been downright remarkable to me.

My stress levels feel lower than they have in probably a year. My optimism has returned. Though the future does still seem a little shaky to me, I see so much goodness when I look around the world.

I'm not saying everything is 100% rosy all of the time. I still have blips of overwhelm and frustration, but on the whole, I feel like a different person.

Shifting my focus to look for things I appreciate—it's magic. Opening and closing each day with gratitude—total path-paver to long-term happiness. And then the book has extras like weekly challenges and inspiring quotes that just crank the positivity dial even further in the right direction.

I've now gone on to purchase this book for more than one person and recommend it to pretty much anyone who will listen. I'll have to report back on others' results because I really am astonished by my own.

If you're looking for a way to save your sanity and change your outlook, I would highly recommend giving The Five-Minute Journal a shot. After all, a little gratitude never hurt anybody.

Monday, August 15, 2016

A Letter to My Siblings: What to Do When Nothing Will Ever Be the Same

My sister and brother-in-law and husband's sister and brother-in-law are all sending kids off to college this month. This is a letter aimed at trying—even in the smallest sense—to help lessen the emotional weight they're all carrying. 

Dearest Parents of New College Students,

I know your hearts are tender right now. Though I've never had to send a child off to school, I know the feeling that comes with seismic life shifts. That ache that sits with you as you wonder how you're going to sleep at night amidst all the memories and worries. I felt it when I broke up with my first serious boyfriend. I felt it when I got laid off from my first job out of college. And again when one of the key players in my close-knit group of friends moved back to Texas. I felt it when I moved to a completely new city 3 years ago and knew almost no one.

It's heavy and suffocating.

But the crazy thing is—that same feeling that Nothing Will Ever Be the Same—also showed up when I traveled to Europe for the very first time. And when I accepted my favorite job at Yahoo. And when I said my wedding vows.

Do you remember other times you've felt it too?

If I were to guess, I'd say you felt the weighty pang when those beautiful girls you're sending to college were first born.

And all this goes to show that nothing—good, bad, painful, joyful, familiar, uncomfortable—is ever the same. Everything is always changing, all the time. Even when the people we love stay right under the same roof with us.

Relationship evolve. New faces come in and out of our lives. Jobs shift. Personalities mature. Always, nothing is ever the same.

The truth is, you've been doing this change dance forever. You're an expert at it. You just might not realize it. 

And the coolest thing is that the lack of sameness opens up a great big wide space for new things to enter. Who can you be and what can you do with that new open space? How will you fill it? What things have you been putting off for 4 years—or 18 years—that you might now have an opportunity to try? And furthermore, how might this massive shift lead to an even more incredible relationship with your kids as they grow into the fully formed adult humans they were always meant to be? What wondrous new ways are they going to add to your life that you can't even fathom right now?

This is all part of the process. On some level, this is what you always hoped for them—that they would do well in school and get into good colleges and embark on adventures that would lead them down paths of success and fulfillment. You've done such an amazing job. Congratulations to you.

Oh, but the hurt.

Yep, I haven't forgotten about that.

If it isn't enough to know that this change is all for the good of your kids—and you—then I have to ask you to treat yourself like a metamorphosizing caterpillar.

See, when a caterpillar is going to become a butterfly, it doesn't really realize what's happening. Instinct tells it a change is coming, so it tucks itself into a safe, cozy cocoon to protect against the impact of the transformation. Now, not everyone knows this, but caterpillars actually liquify inside their cocoons. I know, gross. Their cells literally begin recoding and reimagining themselves into something completely new. And while their little bodies eventually dream and scheme into winged creatures, the battle isn't over yet—they then have to struggle and struggle to break free from the cocoons. It's not until they can pull themselves out by their little butterfly bootstraps that they're able to be carefree and fly off into the sunset.

Parents, you are the caterpillars right now.

You've spun your pods and your getting ready to reimagine yourselves into something new. But right now, while the sadness is so intense, just curl up on the couch and cocoon yourself in while everything goes to liquid. Get comfy. Treat yourself with compassion. Maybe eat some ice cream and cuddle with the dog or cat.

And soon enough, you'll be feeling so strong you'll want to wrestle out of your cocoon and go test out those fancy new wings. It wouldn't surprise me if flying nearby are those beautiful Monarchs you sent off to college.

And 4 years from now, (which will go by faster than you think) it wouldn't surprise me one bit if your lovely little insects land on your doorsteps again to stay awhile.