golden thread

“You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness.”
Brene Brown

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As I was making a present for my baby niece a few weeks ago, this kept happening. With just about every stitch, the thread would transform from straight and smooth to  a crazy thrashy tangle.
I untangled that night more than I sewed… and the big vision I had for what I was making kept fading.
It felt so familiar and it struck me the same thing happens when you go looking for your own story… you find it, and for  a while it’s smooth and straight. You spot that thread and follow its path and it’s helping connect all the pieces together. Nice and clear.
Then when you tug it a little it devolves into an unrecognizable mess, looping back on itself, requiring you to stop everything and just unravel.
Makes you want to throw the whole thing out the window, no?
The big vision of YOU definitely fades.
You move outside of your story again, like Brene Brown describes.
You start hustling for your worthiness.
Ugh.
There are lots of threads in your story. Lots of emotions. Lots of shame, regret, fear dancing around in there. Seriously, when it comes to sorting it all out, tangling like this is a guarantee
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Sometimes the way through is to have someone sit and look at that whole tangled mess with you.
What I’ve learned in the last few years is that we all have an inability to look at our own story and see if for what it is. Friends shouldn’t let friends dive into their story alone. It can be gnarly in there.
If you want to start exploring your story with someone who is not afraid of a few knots, schedule your complimentary Golden Thread session here.
Let’s jump on the phone for 30 minutes and see if we can’t do some untangling. Let’s just stop the hustling and start counting ourselves and our own story as worthy right now.

How do I get out of this?

I just read the War of Art by Steven Pressfield. What a perfect book. He writes about Resistance, something at which I consider myself an expert. Hand me a great topic to write about that would move me forward, and watch me run outside to rake leaves or vacuum the car.

But it’s been my desire to work on the issue, and this year, life doled out a few experiences to do just that… and the book got me thinking about what it all means.

Here are a few moments from my resistance highlight reel:

Resisting jumping into the jungle. In January, I went to Mexico with my good friend Joanne and her daughter, Manami. Joanne was in the final stages of cancer (I was really resisting that) and this trip would be her last.

Manami and I went zip-lining one day. We hiked a few miles, then from high on a rickety platform, we peered down into an endless and dense jungle.

Monkey-mind starts Ziplineworking: This is so high and so rickety. I am so going to plunge right into that jungle. There’s no way in freaking hell I’m going to be able to do this. This was a huge mistake. How do I get out of this?

Mind you, I was standing in gloves and helmet, tied to the cable, with a line of people raring to go behind me. I wanted only to sit for an hour, getting ready to get ready, but could only resist so long. I closed my eyes and jumped. Gravity took care of the rest. It was really fun and so free. And every successive (12 of them) jump was fine.

Resisting writing a eulogy, part 1. Joanne asked me to speak at her funeral. I really wanted to show her what I was going to say before she died, but it wasn’t finished. OK, it wasn’t even started—I was totally resisting writing it. The memorial service got closer and closer and I knew the story I wanted to share, but something was missing. I wrote in the car on the way to California. Not it. Not yet.

JoOn the morning of the service, I still didn’t have it done, and went walking by the ocean in San Rafael. I found a trail she’d once shown me.

Oh, hello, monkey mind: What the hell am I doing going for a hike? There are going to be a TON of people there. This has to be something she would love. Help me, help me, help me. OMG, I am so not the person to do this at all. This was such a mistake. How do I get out of this?

I kept walking into the mounting panic. Then a poem I read when I was in my 20s dropped into my head. I got back to the hotel and Googled it. It was the perfect missing piece. I put it in.

Before I got up to speak at the service, my heart was pounding so hard the friend sitting next to me said he could hear it. Then when I was up there, Jo smiled down from her big picture on the screen behind me. It all went just fine and felt so good to talk about our long friendship. And I think she would have gotten a kick out of it.

Resisting writing a eulogy, part 2. Two weeks after Jo’s service, my dad died unexpectedly. We had a complex relationship and part of me had already been PRE-resisting giving his eulogy for years.Dad

Though writing the obituary (thank you, newspaper deadline) and sharing stories about him was a good warm-up, on the morning of the funeral I still didn’t have a clue what I was going to say.

Cue ol’ monkey mind chorus: There must be some mistake. Who am I to do this? How do I get out of this? Blah-dee-blah–dee-blah.

Then, in the shower, the whole thing just dropped into my weary brain. Four qualities, four stories about him that showed the gruffness that covered his generous and tender heart. Complete.

And again, heart pounding, I stood up there with my prompt words written on an index card—and it was fine. I think he might have liked it, too.

In all this, here’s what I learned…

Resistance to speaking the truth, taking the next step, starting the new project, etc. is very real. But that Big Moment is also real—the urgency that so many people I talk to seem to be feeling right now. A time of no turning back. The moment when your little zip-line trolley leaves the platform, when the audience’s eyes all lock on you… and there is no stopping. My mentor Heidi calls this “crossing the border” and I think that’s a perfect description.

It goes something like this:

  1. You get the inspiration to create something, share your story, launch that project or just go beyond a previous limit.
  2. Welcome to the border. Resistance steps in. Monkey-mind refrain begins: OMG, how do I get out of this? Get me out of this. This was such an enormous mistake.
  3. The Big Moment. Gravity/stepping on stage/pushing “send.” Whoa, whoa, whoa. It’s happening!
  4. Ahhhhh, ok. It’s fine, I am safe, and this actually feels really good.

Now, I wish I could say that everything has changed since this summer. That resistance is gone and I’m just living in the flow. But that would be a lie. For instance, it’s taken me a solid week of procrastinating to write this article.

Here’s another passage from The War of Art:

Resistance is directly proportional to love. If you’re feeling massive Resistance, there’s tremendous love there too. If you didn’t love the project that is terrifying you, you wouldn’t feel anything.

The more Resistance you experience, the more important your un-manifested art/project/enterprise is to you—and the more gratification you will feel when you finally do it.

Today, shards of resistance glitter all around me. The internet connection is funky. I am second-guessing writing about Joanne and Dad. The newsletter program keeps giving me an error message. I have a ton of client work to do. It’s the last sunny Sunday before the rains and I would much rather hike. There is so much that feels MORE urgent. 

But I know that writing this is part of a bigger dream that I love… even more than hiking. And I know it will be fine once I just press “Send.”

 

Feeling resistance about telling your story?

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Just click here to watch a quick video, 5 Ways to Getting To Your Story that will help you move beyond it. This snippet is from an interview I did on the Paycheck to Passion Podcast (which you should definitely subscribe to.)

How Your Story is Like Fairyland

 

 

Fairyland

 

I’ve had this photo pinned to my office wall all summer. It’s a snippet of a very long diorama–a rainforest fairyland that we stumbled across in our last moments at Oregon Country Fair in July. It stretched about 100 feet, every single inch teeming with crafty, miniature, elven life.

I could have stared at it for hours, because in each little piece was a glimpse of a whole world… A tiny parcel of an entire story.

This weekend, I was writing something about telling our true story. Why it’s hard and why it’s so compelling…. And it suddenly occurred to me why this fairyland had me so obsessed.

Like your story, this fairyland:

  • Offers a ton of possible entry points.
  • Is riveting and complete even if you look at it from just one spot.
  • Communicates the whole in a tiny sliver.

Most of the people I work with struggle with the how of telling their story.  Where to begin. Where to go next.

Any of us could tell our story by beginning with what we ate for lunch just now, or how crushed we were when we were had to miss the 2nd Grade Christmas Pageant in which we were supposed to be singing Up On The Rooftop.

All of it matters. All of it counts.

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Here are two ways to discover your story, inspired by this fairyland.

1. The trick of it is just to dive in… anywhere.

Find a place that feels good by scanning your life like I did this fairyland. I walked up and down and then just sat down at a spot that felt good—and examined everything that was going on. In this one picture, for example, you can see mushrooms, a tiny blue pond, glimmer lights outlining a mysterious cave, purple birds swarming a rock formation, ferns and moss and tiny trees….

When I have a Golden Thread session with a client, I always like to start with a single, simple story from childhood. Almost without exception, a lot gets revealed in this one story. So just think of one story from when you were small–one that you like to tell (or one you hate to have told). I bet there will be some juice there.

Here’s an example: A client told me how she loved to ride bareback with her little friends when she was 9 or 10. She felt so incredibly powerful and free. It’s a feeling she can still conjure in her dreams. And, you guessed it: Her business is helping women unblock their power and feel more free.

2. Let your story stand… it’s enough and you’re enough.

You really don’t need to explain. You can help your reader or listener by giving them a few hints and helping them connect the dots, but I promise you don’t have to give the whole blow-by-blow, first-this-happened, then-this-happens kind of tale in order for someone to get a good sense of you. (Just like I could get so much from one tiny section of the fairyland without someone telling me what else was there .)

Try it. Choose one of your key stories from childhood, then look at what your business is about at its core. See if a few of the dots don’t just automatically connect. Notice if what you felt or loved or got punished for as a kid has any connection with the offering you make today in your business. Does it?

 

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You know what the main thing was about this fairyland? It really was pure magic. And so is your story.

 

Have fun. And if you have questions about your story or are interested in diving deeper…

Just click here to schedule your 30-minute complimentary
Golden Thread Clarity Session.

Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word

On a camping trip to the hotsprings a couple weekends ago, I thought I’d give myself a little challenge.

A challenge NOT to say “I’m sorry…” unless I was really sorry.

I had just heard my brilliant client and friend, Lea McLeod, describe the “Sorry Syndrome”—in which women undermine their communication by overapologizing.

I knew I had the Syndrome, but figured that because we were far from many humans (to whom I would be tempted to apologize needlessly), I had this in the bag.

I didn’t.

What happened is that the trickster universe pulled out all the stops to get me to utter those two little words.

It started immediately.

1. Stopping at the registration shack, I pull out $20 to pay for a campsite. “It’s 20 bucks a PERSON,” the grumpy guy says. “Whoops!” I say as I dug out another bill. Close, but no cigar.

2. We set up camp and I’m basking in the isolation when Bodhi, our puppy, slips out of his collar. He’s small and very fast, and begins running through campsites and tents, grabbing towels and pot holders and licking whoever he can.I sprint after him in bare feet over the stubbled desert grass.

As he dashes right into one guy’s tent, I call out, “Hi, could you grab that dog?” as nicely as I can.

“No!” the guy shouts back. “I don’t like dogs. I don’t like touching dogs.”

But I don’t cave…

“That’s OK! I understand!” I yell back.

After following Bodhi through a few more campsites, I come really close to reverting to old form. I’m almost out of substitute phrases: “Excuse me!” “Excuse him!” “Oops!” “Whoops!” “Hey, thanks for your patience!”

A woman catches him and hands him to me. I want to apologize so much I’m bursting. “Thanks for being so cool!” I say instead.

3. That night there are coyotes close by and the dogs don’t sleep. I’m out walking them in the morning and pass a bleary-eyed woman, sitting by her fire, nursing a mug of coffee. “Are those the dogs that were howling all night?” she asks.”Yes, these are the ones,” I mutter, feeling like a total jerk but managing not to falter: “Thanks for being so patient with them.”

4. I  stop by the porta pots on my way back. I pull open an unlocked door to reveal a horrified man, sitting on the john, pants around his ankles. “Whoops!” I say and slam the door shut.

I could go on to describe several more of the tempting opportunities I was given, but doing this super-challenging challenge got me thinking.

It’s no secret I’m a chronic over-apologizer—all my life I have begged forgiveness for everything from harmless, normal day-to-day goofs right on up to the major  stumbles and fumbles I’ve made. I get that. But a few days of not saying “I’m sorry” made me see something bigger.

I have been apologizing for me. For being me, and taking up space.

When I was little, I’d get into arguments with my brothers and say, “I’m sorry for BREATHING!”

Well, I think I’ve actually felt sorry for breathing. (Not easy to admit.)

And it has come through how I write and how I share my story.

When you get emails or read sales pages or people’s bios, do you ever feel the silent “I’M SORRY” behind the words?

We all see those multi-exclamation-point-apologies sent out when someone includes the wrong link in an email or hasn’t sent their newsletter for a while. But what I’m talking about runs deeper.

And it happens when you haven’t woven your story fully together. When you haven’t owned that thread that connects your mistakes, your triumphs, your funny stories, the things you love, the things that make you cringe, and the things that you don’t want any more of ever. I call that the Golden Thread.

It’s really (really) easy not to own it. Because it takes some work and some digging… Because it can be pretty hard to find it and follow it on your own… And because it’s really a lot easier to hide and not be seen for who you are and what you stand for.

But when you find it, things come together. (It’s a thread, after all.) You feel visible and on purpose and safe in a different way than you thought possible. And you realize there’s nothing about you that you have to apologize for.

If you want to find and unravel your Golden Thread, schedule a free 30-minute clarity session by clicking here.