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Turkey, Tea, McKenna and Me

Here it is again. I love this holiday, not because I love turkey, although I do love me some fried turkey (and the ginger tea that comes after eating too much fried turkey!) I love Thanksgiving because I love the power of gratitude. If you’ve read any of my writing, you know that. This day is the perfect day to give thanks, to share your gratitude and to reflect on what you’ve given to others as well.

In that very same spirit, I want to share with you. This year, I’ve been given a lot of great and not so great opportunities. In the great, I’ve rejoiced both silently and out loud with friends and family. In the not so great, I’ve done my best to move forward trusting I would learn yet another important life lesson and then be granted the clarity and wisdom to share my learnings powerfully with others.

Not listening to my intuition, taking a job I wasn’t sure about and then seeing that spiral into suffering and regret—to put it bluntly—sucked. Mainly because I had been in that precarious position before so I was pissed at myself for being there again. BUT, if that hadn’t happened, if I hadn’t made the choice I made to take that job, I don’t know that I’d be in the position I’m in today.

Today, I’m an honest to goodness entrepreneur. I’m building something that is mine. I’m the boss. If I succeed, it’s on me. If I fail, it’s on me. I like that. I respect it. I thank it for toughening me up and pushing me. I’m grateful to it for knocking me down sometimes so that I can practice getting back up.

I’ve had success publishing a handful of articles in kickass publications. I’ve worked with and continue to work with amazing and creative entrepreneurs who inspire me with their work and devotion to uncovering their purpose and building a brand based on meaning and passion. I’ve been granted research and strategy projects that paid thousands of dollars but more importantly allowed me to speak with people from all over the country. I’m so grateful for all of this. But to tell you the truth, the one thing I’m most grateful for didn’t earn me either of the two crucial things every entrepreneur seeks—exposure and money.

Back in October, I found myself declaring my desire for a dog. So I signed up with a few organizations that look for short term foster parents and replied to an email from one of them a few days later. Fostering seemed like a good solution for a never before dog owner. I could test it out, see how it went and then make a decision from there. You know, the same kind of approach we often take with starting a new business or relationship. This approach is totally safe and comfortable and lacks any commitment, so it gives you a great excuse to get out. “I was just trying it!”

You can definitely try out a business or a relationship. You can keep your options open and wait for something better to come along or just go ahead and nix the whole thing.

Two days after picking up McKenna, I learned you cannot do that with a dog. I fell in love quickly and without much debate. All of a sudden, there was this living, breathing thing that was scared and shaky and counting on me to make everything OK. I had to come up with solutions to problems, super uncomfortable and borderline gross problems I might add, like fleas, worms and digestive issues. Yet, I still loved her, likely from the very first time I saw her. I wasn’t going to give her back and essentially throw her away. So I adopted her. I committed to her for the rest of her life. It only took two days.

I’m not telling you this to gross you out with her poop issues. I’m sharing this experience so that you (and I) can learn the lesson here and apply it to our businesses.

Your business is also manifested from a desire and it too comes with numerous challenges and issues. They are probably far less gross than those associated with a rescue dog yet just as uncomfortable and maddening.

So often in business and life we give up too soon. We avoid going “all in” and doing what we must to make it work because commitment is scary. I’ll go as far as to say commitment can be absolutely terrifying.

I have no idea what I’m doing with my new little girl. But I’m learning as I go, and I’m making choices for her based on love, not fear.

I wish you so much love on this holiday. Be good to yourself today. Do one thing to nurture your life and business and then give thanks to yourself for all that you do for others.

Oh, one last thing. This is McKenna just in case you were wondering …

Thanksgiving gratitude

 

Why We Must Let Go of Expectations

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You may have remembered from my post earlier this year that I was planning a month-long trip to Australia, Bali and Hong Kong. I’d mentioned that this trip was a long, long time coming—something I’ve wanted to do for over a decade.

For a few weeks after I booked my flights, the excitement was intense. I couldn’t wait to plan what I would do, where I would stay and have friends connect me to their friends in the cities I would be visiting. I envisioned a fabulous, relaxing trip full of fun, adventure and maybe even a little romance. However, my expectations were high, and I didn’t account for the fact that real life doesn’t take a vacation.

The thing about expectations is that they rarely lead to happiness. In fact, more often than not, our expectations deliver nothing but disappointment. {Tweet it!}

So when my back went out, I lost my credit card and I encountered let’s just say some not so nice people, I got REALLY upset. All of a sudden the “bad” overtook the good, and it became very difficult to turn it around. My attachment to the way I had expected my trip to go sent me into survival mode, and I spent a good majority of the trip simply surviving until I could make it back to the states.

Sometimes you don’t even know you’re setting absurd expectations. You may mistake them for clarity on what your want, or high standards or whatever, but honestly expectations are just a set of arbitrary guidelines you made up in your head.

I don’t think expectations are entirely bad or useless, but we have to be willing to let go of them at a moment’s notice and deal with the present moment powerfully. Most of us, myself included, aren’t always so good at that.

Despite everything that went “wrong” I don’t want you to think that the trip was a waste. I admit I slipped into that thought from time to time along the way, but each time I did something would happen—I’d meet a kind and beautiful person, I’d experience something I never had before (like surfing in Byron Bay or the hospitality of the Indonesian people or the infamous and quite hilariously random mouse on the plane incident on my first flight over to Hong Kong).

When these things would happen, they would remind me that sometimes reality can exceed your expectations. I didn’t plan for any of those awesome experiences and yet they ended up being the highlights of my trip.

Practice letting go, especially of expectations. Because when you start to master letting go, you will see there is so much to be gained.

How to Reawaken Your Inner Child

How to Reawaken Your Inner Child | Levo | Inner Child

Photo via Serendipitous Wanderings

I live in New York City and although I love my city, sometimes the hustle can get to me. You can see it in my face when it happens. I’m annoyed, insecure, distracted or all of the above trying to “make it” or just get to my next destination. 

But when I see a child smiling at me, my mood transforms. All of a sudden, I’m playing hide and seek on the street or the subway with kids I don’t even know. I’ll say, “I see you!” They’ll giggle and I’ll instantly feel a sense of love. Because when I see them, I also see myself, or at least the part of myself that possesses the qualities I love about children.

The older we get the harder it can become to remember and recognize our inner child. But it’s important for all of us who want to live a remarkable life and create amazing businesses to connect to who we were in our youth.

Here are a few reasons why.

Play is essential to making something out of nothing.

For the most part, children will play with and enjoy whatever is in front of them. Hand them a pile of blocks and they will build you a skyscraper. They’ll try it one way and if that doesn’t work they’ll try it another—without judgment or guilt. Children are masters of creation.

Fear doesn’t have to stop you.

Children attempt things regardless of fear. This is because they are focused on their goals. Children don’t spend time concentrating on what will happen if they fall off the monkey bars. They just climb. It’s only as we grow that our mentality shifts. We become more cautious. We take fewer chances. In doing so, we actually limit our potential for success.

You already know what your purpose is.

My clients often ask, how do I find my purpose and how will I know when I find it? I encounter surprise, sometimes bordering on shock, when I tell them they don’t have to look for it because it‘s already there. Last year I found a picture I drew when I was six. The drawing shows people holding hands and smiling while the sun shines above them. I had titled it, “The Whole World.” It’s clear to me now that at the tender age of six, I knew my purpose. I wanted to support people and show them that one day the whole world could be happy and connected. We all have a purpose, and I believe that purpose appeared when we were young. Our job now is simply to rediscover it.

It really is OK to cry.

Kids get upset. They cry. Then they get over it. As a woman in business, I’ve often had concerns about being too emotional, but the act of crying can help release tension and stress, stabilize feelings and connect to the underlying upsets. It doesn’t mean you should break into a temper tantrum, but it is alright to find a quiet space, connect to your heart, free yourself of restrictions and have a good cry.

Magic exists and anything actually is possible. You just have to believe.

Granted the above sounds like a commercial for Disney World—and for good reason. Remember when the world you lived in was big, miraculous and full of wonder? As children we think we can do and have anything we want. But most of us lose that confidence as we grow up. Maybe someone told us once that we couldn’t do something. We didn’t realize at the time that what that person said was not the truth. We started to make choices, live our lives and change our beliefs based on other people’s opinions. Today we can make the choice to look at our lives through a fresh lens and see that world of wonder and magic we loved as children still exists.

I wish we could all be kids forever, that we could trade coloring books, play in sandboxes and wait for the tooth fairy. In many ways, I think we can. All of those magical qualities we had in our youth are still there. Perhaps we’re just a bit out of practice.

Click here to read the original article on Levo League.

 

Saying Goodbye to Old Friends

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Photo via Elephant Archives

“It is easy to see the beginning of things, and harder to see the ends.” ~Joan Didion

15 was a good age, one of the best for me. It was the age of adventure, dreams, and above all, friendship.

When I was a teenager, I had a few close girlfriends who made up—basically—my whole world. They were slightly older than I was and in my mind they were bad asses—I tried to emulate them.

They taught me to stick up for myself and to question authority. They taught me that life wasn’t all about getting good grades and creating a resume for college applications. They brought me to my first parties and skip days.

I saw them as family, as the big sisters I’d wished for as a little girl. They were there to listen to the excitement of my first kiss, my first crush, and the stories of every hope and heartbreak a girl has at 15.

They were there for everything.

Then, in what seemed like an instant, they were gone. Each graduated high school and went off to college, leaving me alone in my small town to fend for myself and figure out my own way. This was my first real experience coping with loss.

For a long time—more than 10 years—I thought they would return. I thought that even though we’d lost touch quite quickly after they left, memories of the times we’d shared together would bring them back to me. I knew one day I would find them or they would find me.

Then over a decade after I lost them, one day the magic of the Internet brought them back to me.

Now that we were in our 20s and free to do whatever we wanted, I imagined we would relive all the crazy things we did as girls—as women—and do the things we’d always dreamed of together. I expected to feel that same connection we shared as teens.

But expectations rarely lead to happiness, and the reunion I’d hoped for did not come to pass.

My friends were not the same as I’d remembered. They each had a family, cars, and houses in the suburbs while I was single and living in New York City, still chasing my dreams and buying metro cards. My world didn’t mesh with theirs anymore. I remember thinking we didn’t have that much to say to each other.

“It was good to see you,” I told them after a few hours together.

It was good—and now it was over. Actually it had ended all those years before but I couldn’t see that. I didn’t want to see because if I saw it, I’d have to accept that those friendships had run their course. I had not been ready to let go of the past quite yet.

Saying goodbye to those friendships meant saying goodbye to 15.

Intrinsically I know goodbyes are a part of life, but I still hate to say them. More than anything else, I hate it when people go away. Even though I know it’s not the truth, it always feels like those people are leaving me. Oddly enough, I rarely think about the times I’ve left people—physically or mentally. I wonder if those people felt the same sadness at the end.

Now, I understand that this is the way it goes. The universe places people in our lives for a period of time and eventually it takes them out. I truly believe we are meant to learn from each relationship, and when we stop learning from it the relationship ends.

Sometimes we actually need it to end in order to grow up and move on.

I’m grateful for the friendships I had as a teenager. They were real, powerful and in many ways unlike any I’ve had since. They helped shape the woman I would become and taught me how I wanted to show up for the friendships I’d create in my future. But I know that I don’t need them to be happy anymore. I don’t need them to be me.

Turns out the thing I was most afraid of saying goodbye to wasn’t worth worrying about after all. That 15 year-old girl never really went away. She’s still there pushing me forward, helping me find the strength to be vulnerable, and reminding me to go out in the world and have fun.

Click here to read the original article on Elephant Journal.

 

The Next Time You Think You Don’t Make a Difference, Think Again

We all want to make a difference in the world but sometimes it feels like we just don’t. This past Thursday I completed a course that I coach each year. During this four-month program participants create projects that impact communities all over the world. They also confront many of the things that stop them from getting what they want in various parts of their lives. I love this program because of the many, many miracles that are created in it by people just like you and me. Seeing the results they produce each year is a powerful reminder that in our work there is indeed great reward.

At the end of the program, we estimate how many people may have been touched and inspired through the projects, the conversations, and the numerous and unique contributions each participant offered the world. (We calculate this mostly through direct interaction, media coverage and social media shares and mentions.) Normally it comes in around 1 million or so. Slightly amazing given there are always 100 total participants or less. This year was different. The people in this program were more driven, more self-aware, and more powerful than I’ve seen in the 3 plus years I’ve been a part of this course. Estimated impact this time: Over 1 billion. 

People’s projects were written up in several local, national, and global publications. There was TV station coverage. There were tons of emails sent and even more social media campaigns created. I had my first article published in MindBodyGreen, which was a huge win for me. In short, the victories were numerous and profound. With each one shared, another was created.

I’m telling you this because I want you to really understand that everything you want for yourself, your business, your community … can be created in action. A vision is great. It’s imperative to determine what steps need to be taken towards a goal, but a vision is nothing without work. You must do the work to have your vision become reality. 

I truly believe that many times we don’t take those actions because somewhere inside we think we don’t matter. Maybe someone told us that we couldn’t make a difference once, and we believed it. But it’s not true.

Our actions matter.

They have the potential to impact millions, if not billions, of people all over the world. {Tweet it!}

The picture below was a gift from Andrea Scher of Mondo Beyondo. I received when I attended her seminar at The World Domination Summit in 2012. Since she gave it to me that July, it’s been a fixture on my vision board and my inspiration when I didn’t really feel like doing anything. Now I’m giving it to you.

Print it out. Look at it when you just don’t feel like it. And always remember, there are people who believe in you, even when you don’t believe in yourself.

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I Do Not Want To Wait Anymore (You Shouldn’t Either)

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I do not want to wait anymore. Seriously, I don’t. I’ve had dreams to go to Australia, specifically Sydney, since I was 20. For those of you who don’t know, that’s—well—over a decade. I can’t explain why Australia, other than there has always been this sort of gravitational pull calling out to me and over the years that call kept getting louder. I’ve had opportunities to go, and stay for free, and yet I never took the plunge.

There are many reasons for this, excuses really, and they have kept me from doing this thing I want to do. During the holidays, I revisited the idea of this trip again, and when I discovered how close Australia and Bali are to each other, I thought to myself, Now, that could be an interesting trip—part fun and sun, part adventure and spiritual discovery. And just as I was “full on” (as they say in Australia) getting beyond excited about the trip, BAM!, all the fears from the past came creeping back up.

Is this too expensive? What if I can’t sleep on the 15+ hour flight? What if I get sick? Where will I stay? Will this trip be as fun if I do it alone? Should I wait for a more perfect time?

For days I was confronted by the fears of what could go wrong, which totally took my focus off everything that could make this trip amazing. Until finally, I realized I didn’t want to wait anymore.

Waiting for the right time, the perfect time, is like trying to time the stock market. Good luck. {Tweet it!}

So the conversation I started having with myself shifted and eventually became something like this:

My Cautious Self: Can you put a price tag on seeing the world? On exposure to other views, other ways of life?

The Wise Me: No

My Cautious Self: Is it really the end of the world if you don’t sleep for a day?

The Wise Me: No

My Cautious Self: Doesn’t everything always just sort of fall into place anyway?

The Wise Me: Why, yes. Actually it does, Self. Thank you for reminding us of that.

And with that, all of the uncertainty and fear fell away—at least for the time being. Ultimately it is more important that I stand for courage and help inspire it in others than take the easy and more comfortable way out of something that scares me. That is how I want to live my life and to make choices as they come my way.

What will you stand for? What dreams will you refuse to give away even in the face of extreme fear and uncertainty?

What are the things you have wanted to do all your life? Whatever they are, do them. Do not wait. Stop thinking about it and just go for it.