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“We should have these conversations in front of people,” he said.

The first time I heard that statement, I 100% thought he was crazy.

“No pressure, just tell me when you are ready.”

And the talks would continue…about life, coaching, parenting, leadership, principles and reality, values and vision. From the first time we spoke at “The Way GRV” book booth in Dallas, Texas almost 3 years ago, Coach Chris’s and my perspectives, although very different, seemed to bounce back and forth with ease, which seems to be a rarity in this world today. Society, seems to find many ways to label and try to segment us off...age, race, gender, political party, sexuality and the list goes on. But I believe in the human ability to relate and learn, if we find the courage to listen and admit that we have the potential to be changed by another. We are so much more alike than different.

I have experienced a great deal of growth from both challenging my beliefs, and standing my ground. I can be equally inspired by what a chip on your shoulder can do for accomplishment, and yet believe so deeply in the ideas that I reserve headspace for, that I have the ability to speak up when I don’t agree; not too long ago that wasn’t the case. I know that being real is at the heart of my expression and that the better we understand ourselves and how our life experiences relate to universal truths like love, forgiveness, courage, and intuition, the easier it is for us to find sustained happiness and help others along the way. I operate from the premise that we are all works in progress doing the best we can. It’s optimistic for some, but it works for me. The more we focus on the way we play our hand, instead of whether the guy next to us is bluffing or has a royal flush, the better our days will be, and the greater ability we give ourselves to maximIze our potential.

These are some of my truths that come from a lot of soul searching since that Dallas meeting in 2016. My opinion and ability to challenge my comfort zone changed for the better since then as well. So last Tuesday night, The Optimists Journal, my generational learning, storytelling venture, held its first speaking event in my hometown, Fresno. Even though I’m a introvert, life for me is about the connection I feel with people and those moments when we are all feeling understood. One of the good things about getting older is feeling the gratitude i have for the relationships built with others who have helped strengthen and support me throughout my life. From the closest relationships like my parents, children’s godparents, and friends of 20 plus years who have taught me the meaning of loyalty and trust, to my high school coach who taught me about grinding and being tough, and even the pharmacists who would ease my mind with their knowledge (and home delivery, thanks Bullard Pharmacy!) when one of my kids was suffering from their 30th ear infection, Tuesday night filled my heart with so much joy for the connections we share.

There were so many high points to this conversational experience, my favorites among them were the questions asked by the audience and the engagement I felt with them, especially when they said they didn’t want an intermission! But, as with any first event, there are also things to learn from that I want to improve as we go.

Tuesday night was my first conversational experience with an audience, and, although Chris and I have a lot of words between us, there was little to no rehearsal because I want my talks to reflect the flow of life, and…

life is not a rehearsal.

My writing, and now my talks, are about greater universal truths...confidence, forgiveness, self love, and so many others. That being said, there is no single situation or experience that I am trying to shed light on through my conversation. One of the things I have learned is that we each create our own destiny and for me to have an opinion about what is anyone else to own, does very little to change anything. And the truth is that we rarely have enough information to make an accurate judgment anyway.

I have done hard work to understand why I stand where I do today. Themes of fear, unworthiness, and lack of self confidence are among the things I have worked on to improve my own story. With the growth i have made in these areas, they are among my favorite things to write and talk about in hopes that it can help someone else on their journey.

From the bottom of my heart, I can’t thank you enough for showing up, engaging, listening and helping me grow in my journey Fresno. You’ve always been there before, but it feels so good to know that nothing has changed. Best people, love of my roots.

Would you do me a huge favor Fresno? If you were in the audience, send me your feedback! Things you liked, areas for improvement, more that you want to talk about? Tell me everything, I can take it!

CLICK TO TAKE THE SURVEY!

Thanks for listening and being a part of my story.

My second born, Luke, turned 17 this week, as the world sees it, the last year of childhood. The irony of being someone’s child is that you will never know how much you are loved until you aren’t that child anymore.  As a kid, you don’t understand why your mom can remember the exact time of your birth, or how it caused such stress because you used to choke on everything she put in front of you. As with most any mom, it’s impossible for me to look at my 6’6 inch man-child without seeing my Thomas the Train obsessed little guy…the calmest, easiest kid.  You could take him with you anywhere from day one, no problem. In his middle years, his favorite line for me has been

How is stressing about it going to help mom?”

I think junior year may have altered his thinking just a little, but his blood pressure is still shockingly low. 

It’s a heavy realization that I have a boy, who is almost a man. I have been thinking a lot about how a strong woman can raise an equally strong man, when strength is perceived and valued so much differently between the sexes. I don’t get lost in small things like who opens the door (even though I still teach him to do so, because I still value a gentleman) or who pays, because financial independence is crucial to anyone’s confidence and self sustainability no matter who you are.  But, I do have a few ideas that I feel have positive impact that I hope don’t get lost in teenage translation and the business of everyday life…even if it gets me dubbed “philosopher mom” sometimes. 

  1. Understand that you were born into a power position in this world. Of course this is nothing to feel guilty about, but find gratitude and be wise and compassionate with what you have been given. From day one, you have had things that others work entire lifetimes for, and yet most may never have what you have today.  You have already walked the halls of incredible educational establishments and I am confident that will continue.  Allow that knowledge to build your perspective and connect you with those who have not had the same experience as you have.  Don’t let it separate you or cause you to look down on anyone.  Recognize the struggle that others experience that you have been spared just based on your birth, and try to put yourself in their shoes instead of just walking in your own…it will enrich your life in ways you can’t even imagine. Above all, be a leader who never abuses the power that sits naturally on your shoulders.

  2. Feel all of your feelings. True peace comes when we know how to wrestle with our more difficult feelings because a stronger and better version of ourselves is on the other side. One of the best parts of life as we get older is to continue the learning process when it’s not a mandate. Be an observer, and even a believer, in life’s twists and turns. Even when they seem unpleasant, they are leading us to our destiny. Never turn to any substance that dulls your senses instead of feeling things, trust that you are strong enough to handle what comes at you in your God given natural state and you will be. When we work to know the root of any sadness that we encounter, we discover how to be simply and sustainably happy.

  3. Learn how to manage conflict, not everything fits neatly in your plan. There is always struggle in a big life and moments of conflict give way to deeper relationships and understanding if we have the courage to navigate it with strength and respect. Great minds do not always think alike, and learning to value their differences brings so much beautiful contrast and more amazing ideas into this world. If you think you are right all the time, please start to wonder.

    My favorite thing about the passing of this birthday was what I realized as I was searching for pictures I wanted to post to celebrate. Luke you are a natural protector, and it makes me so proud. The safety you can offer with your gentle spirit in this world is so deeply needed. My hope is that you always protect from a place of confidence and in a way that makes your world and that of those around you a bigger, brighter place.  I love you to the moon and back, keep hugging, jumping and leading the way you do, you have an amazing ride ahead of you.

My latest fortune cookie was full of simple wisdom: “Don’t pursue happiness, create it.”

It’s only the second time I’ve ever saved a fortune—and the other one (prominently displayed on my bulletin board) says: “You will write a book.”

Tying those two together, I wanted to get some words down to continue to train my craft—and also to have something to reflect upon on a day when perhaps life isn’t looking quite so rosy.

1. I will slow down and be grateful. I have learned that even through hard times, I can always find something to be grateful for. When I count up and concentrate on these things, I can’t help but smile. Being grateful stops the question “why me?” in its tracks. If I move too quickly, it’s easy to lose track of the small things that deserve big gratitude.

2. I will never compromise my position as the leader of my own life. I will make choices and put in the work that leads to my happiness. My happiness will enhance the lives of people around me. Other people matter, but if I put them first, I get lost.

3. My actions will speak louder than my words. If I am speaking the words, but not following them with actions to reinforce or achieve my goals, the void that is left between the two creates a desperate battle with my ego where happiness cannot exist. My ego stays healthy when it is humbled by the work that needs to be done to create lasting happiness.

4. I will handle conflict with honesty, respect, and understanding. But, I will not compromise for the sake of agreement. Happiness comes with the confidence of knowing and trusting myself. Escaping the need to have people come alongside and agree with me allows me to live freely. My freedom and happiness are inextricably linked.

5. I will seek the place where my mind, body, and spirit connect. I will critically select content that has the power to expand my mind. Podcasts,books, articles, and even movies can elevate our thoughts and develop our minds. Selection is key, so don’t cram—and by all means, choose things that won’t set you back. Adequate sleep, healthy food, and exercise set my body on track for maximized happiness. Without these, I am foggy and unable to manage complicated situations and emotions. My faith and freedom allow me to be myself, which feeds my spirit and guides my intuition. My biggest steps away from lasting happiness happened when I’ve silenced my intuition and didn’t listen to my own gut.

5. Most importantly, it is no one else’s job to create happiness for me. No friend, partner, or child in my life is responsible for helping me find or sustain my happiness. Creating lasting happiness is not about keeping my ego fed with compliments or pats on the back reinforcing that I am doing the right thing. True happiness comes when my insides and my outsides are a genuine reflection of each other. It takes courage to find that place—and I will seek it every day.

CLICK HERE TO READ MY BLOG ON THE ELEPHANT JOURNAL SITE

I have two Instagram accounts, my personal one is called @faithinthejourney, I changed the name from something way more generic when my life shifted and it has become a family tag line…”oh watch out, you’re about to make faithinthejourney” one of my teenagers will joke.  The truth is, those words mean a lot to me because my faith is what sustains me and fills me with the deepest sense of gratitude for all of the beauty in my life and always grounds me in the knowledge that things that happen are so much bigger and far reaching than my own experience. The other one, my “business account”, is @theoptimistsjournal. It’s intended to cast a bigger net into the blogosphere, definitely still the real me, but lacking on the more minute details of my life.  It’s where my perspective meets the universal truth of this world and an outlet for my philosophical mind. 

Today, a close friend of mine posed a question about The Optimists Journal, after I finished an interview that I can’t wait to post. I had the best time having this amazing conversation with Dene Logan Selkin, an absolutely golden yoga teacher and therapist. about relationships, being a mom, yoga…some of the best things in life. But back to the question my friend asked:

“What’s your goal [with The Optimists Journal] ” he asked. 

As I pondered the answer to this, so many things ran through my mind; is it to spread a message, to help people, to make money, to have a voice and an outlet in this noisy world? There isn’t a right answer, but there is my answer.  

What I have learned since I started this journey, is that it’s ok for answers to evolve as we grow and learn. There are so many human factors that fit into the equation of conceptualizing and achieving  goals.  For me, I want to tell stories and connect with people because I feel on such a deep level that it’s the reason I am here on this earth.  I sense it in the moments of understanding I have with others everyday, especially when I take the time to slow down, ask questions and look people in the eye.  But close behind are thoughts about self confidence, privacy, comparison, and freedom sift through my brain like those card shufflers in Vegas.  I’ve done enough self reflection to realize where my hot button issues lie…and yet I also know that my issues aren’t much different than so many other people (back to that universal truth again) and so I move forward…some days with accents of my old trademark timidity. More often now, I move with growing confidence that I am here to hit a long ball, not achieve something overnight with one post, story or interview. But every word I write or conversation I get to have about knowing ourselves better so that we can be get the most out of our lives and be of service to others just raises my energy levels to higher heights.

My goal of creating more meaning in my life with each idea and endeavor and also a business are not at odds. It is going to take sustained confidence, discipline and patience though. The cool thing I know now, is that those qualities have been in growth mode for a long time, I just didn’t realize it.  

As I push this passionate storytelling project that is The Optimists Journal down the road, I realize how lucky I am to be able to blend my passion for writing and connection with a beautiful and blessed life. On this journey, there have been some amazing takeaways that make me feel comfortable in my own skin in a way I never thought was possible.  The feeling of connecting with your bravest, truest self, even just in glimpses, gives the greatest sense of freedom and discovery that I hope every human being gets to feel in their lifetime.  It’s the concept of flow and knowing myself that I seek now on a daily basis, even as it draws tears, chills, struggles and then triumph.  It presents it’s moments of truth that are challenging, but the rush of knowing that I get to spend each day of my life living this story, and that I get to write it with my own brand of optimism, hard work and discipline is more exhilarating than I ever thought possible. To press on towards my goal means I get to know myself honestly, to help others along the way and create a business doing what I enjoy. My brain is full, but it doesn’t feel like work. Maybe some learn this stuff at a much younger age (I do call myself a late bloomer) but in the end, I’m learning that even a day spent in this sweet spot is enlightening and once we feel it, it’s a pretty tough place to want to leave. 

I’m processing a lot of learning in one short week. It started out at Brigadoon, a fantastic conference of 50-60 attendees in Sundance, Utah where I got to talk about optimism and my book, 365 Days of Optimism, alongside other topics like Artificial intelligence, living fearlessly, and U.S/China relations (variety is the spice of life) and, am ending it after a whirlwind 24 hours at Wisdom 2.0 in San Francisco with 4000+ attendees discussing the intersection of technology and matters of the heart, mind and human potential. Both environments were beyond welcoming and stimulating. There are so many amazing thinkers and doers out there making things happen that don’t always show up on the front page and I am feeling so connected and encouraged. I have more notes and content than I can possibly process in this short week, that I want a little more time to digest, but there is one easy takeaway from this amazing week…

We get to choose our the energy we spend and the energy we surround ourselves with, and how we do that makes such a difference. This week, I choose well, and am reaping the benefits as my heart and mind are full of the promise of what is possible in life.

As human beings, we are wired for connection. On almost a primal level, we want to be part of each others experiences and lives. Some of us are so sensitive to each other and our experiences it almost hurts. When we begin to understand our purpose, whether that’s at eight, 80 or somewhere in between, we encounter serendipitous moments with others and brand new connections. From there we can build relationships that run far deeper than that. We all want to be understood, and even look for others to come along side and support us in our life story, and that is undoubtedly one of the most wonderful feelings. What I have realized though, is that until we can stand squarely on our own two feet, feel different, even unaccepted, and still know that we are living our own unique truth, we can’t relax into the moment and know that we are ready to face whatever life throws at us. And then the best relationships and connections come after that.

Our lives create so many stories, sometimes they seem to just happen to us and we have to confront the question of why, or worse, why me? But as the saying goes, life is 10% what happened and 90% how we react to it. This has been an empowering statement for me because discovering my own resiliency has proven to be a major catalyst for growth in my life, but this week I am seeing another side to it.

There will be stories in our lives that we wish didn’t happen the way they did. There will be growth and healing that come from those stories. Often, there will be human interactions that wound us deeply, and our challenge is not only to recover, but learn to live with more passion and meaning because of it. When we live through these experiences though, we begin to uncover the beauty that is discovered when we boldly write our own life story and choose the energy we feel best around. We get to seek it and surround ourselves with that energy, and then make life a beautiful place again despite our struggles. This is something I work on everyday, because I understand the energy that makes me feel capable, valued and alive and my highest calling and best example flows from there.

This week, I am so excited to announce a partnership with a dear friend of mine, Lori Kirk, who has brought so much support and good energy into my life over the years in so many different ways. Lori has used the adversity she has encountered to discover her passion, transforming her health after being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 52. Come visit the new Collaboration Corner at TheOptimistsJournal.com this week to hear more about Lori and see how we can make your life and home a healthier (and therefore happier) place to be!

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