Have you ever experienced something like this: Someone you can’t stand gets a win.

You know them to be a [fraud/asshole/full-of-shit/fake/abusive/condescending/fill-in-the-blank nasty trait] and yet they won an award, or got a big client, or a book deal, or whatever. Maybe they even achieved the kind of success YOU want! Dammit. And so you start obsessing over how unfair it is, how awful, crazy, frustrating.

when someone you can't stand gets a win, what to do

I hear about this phenomenon a lot with writers (and anyone, really). And I’ve totally done it myself.

In fact, I had this experience this week. And it threw me into a short-lived, but miserable spiral. Of course.

To be crystal clear and totally honest, this is usually how shows up in my brain:

#1:.What the fuck?

#2: They’re so full of shit [or mean, or whatever it is]! How does no one else see this?

They’re so [fill in the blank]—they don’t deserve this! OR But they aren’t/didn’t even [ thing you do better, or expect someone to do better in order to earn this ]!

#3: I guess I’m just not [full of shit or fill in blank] enough to make it in this industry. If THAT’S what it takes to be successful, I might as well give up!

#4: Am I crazy that I’m the only one who sees through this person? Maybe I’m wrong, maybe there’s something wrong with me…

#5: Yep, I’ll never make it. Might as well give up. I’m not good enough, not bourgie enough, not strong enough, not determined enough, etc. I’m CURSED and/or DOOMED.
aka I arrive at “I must be worthless/not good enough/ an idiot [fill in blank].”

Or at least that’s how it went for me for many years. Many. Years.

This week,  after too many bile-filled hours, I was finally able to shift myself at step number 3.

And call myself on my own bullshit.

The Wheel of Fear

In Fearless Living, a book that really helped me shift my life during my divorce saga, author Rhonda Britten has a name for this shit show: the Wheel of Fear.

Visually, it looks like this (or at least my artistic rendering that is) You’ll see the steps are similar to what I just described:

Wheel of Fear, Fearless Living -- When someone you can't stand gets a win

To break that wheel down:

  • I/we have a trigger event—the rejection, or the undeserving colleague. Whatever it is that gets your personal goat.
  • I start to freak out—not realizing my reaction is based in fear.
  • I/we revert into some deep fear (or old behavior) we personally have (different for all of us)—maybe for you it’s abandonment, loss of control, or feeling worthless, or feeling invisible, or something else.
  • This leads us to step 4–the things we do when we’re upset: drink, gossip, get depressed, sleep all day, blow off work, eat too much, obsess over the issue, etc.

And what does this do? It ends up triggering us again, because if we’re obsessing over the issue, or drinking too much, or eating a whole box of cookies or whatever, it triggers our fears again, bringing us back to our core fears about our own selves.

The Nasty Realization has the Power to Free Us 

As much as we try to push the onus on someone else, our fear and reactions and behaviors really have little to do with that other person—they are all about our own fears about ourselves.

If I’m upset that someone who is dishonest or smarmy is successful, sure on the surface it’s about morals, ethics, how I want the world to be better, but really, it’s because I worry that being myself is never going to be enough. Click To Tweet

Mull that over for a moment.

It’s that deep-seated fear that I’m not worthwhile, that I won’t have success because I’m not smarmy. Another layer deeper: that I won’t be accepted or loved for who I am.

Damn it hurts, doesn’t it? Because it’s fucking true.

The Biggest Stumbling Block to Success

This wheel of fear is a real jerk-bag. It’s one of the primary detriments to writers and creatives who are trying to pursue their dreams.

Our art can be deeply personal and rejection, or someone else’s success, can sometimes feel like a threat against the validity of our existence. It’s not pretty, but if we’re honest—pretty much all of us experience this at some point.

Maybe you don’t have the same fears as I do, but I’m willing to bet (Monopoly money of course, don’t get crazy here) that you have some other dark fear then, something that sets you off  by whatever a trigger moment looks like for you.

We all have our own personal fear wheels though they might look a little different and be triggered by different events.

The Choice

When I start to feel that Ferriss wheel of drama winding up I still have a choice to stay on, or jump off.

That’s the key: we still have a choice.

I cannot control the things or people around me. I can only control my reaction and actions.

Everyone has different go-to responses that help bust them out of their dirty fear spiral.

One of mine is to ask myself WHY and then keep on digging til I get to the core pain/fear:

  • Why am I threatened by this person? (I’m afraid if they can have success  then I can’t)
  • Is that rational? (not really)
  • Why is it making me feel like this? (Because I’m afraid I’m not good enough)
  • Is my fear true/valid? (feels like it sometimes, but no)
  • Is there enough room in this world for both their success AND mine? (yes)
  • What do I know to be true about myself? (I am determined, kind, intelligent, honest) Do you feel how that softens a bit there? Shifting the focus from my fear to who I know myself to be.

If I can understand where my fear is coming from, it’s easier to release it.

Another tactic I use, is to distract myself with something I love. Maybe it’s a good book, a movie, painting, going for a walk. Reminding myself there’s a whole lot more to this world than that dang situation, helps me then be able to ask myself those questions above.

When I’m reeling though, and may not have that opportunity to do something I love, I find that giving myself time to think is key. This is especially good for those of us who struggle with people-pleasing or saying ‘no.’

Maybe that means ducking into the restroom at work for five minutes, or taking ten minutes to meditate, or saying “I’ll have to get back to you.” But sometimes I have to remove myself from the trigger situation and get back to the present. Because guess what? If I’m all up in my head obsessing over this thing, I cannot find a solution.

The solution is pretty much never in the same location as the problem. Click To Tweet

Since I’m showing you Rhonda Britten’s oh-so-pertinent Wheel of Fear, I’d like to show you her Wheel of Freedom. This is what a healthier response looks like when you find yourself boarding your tilt-o-whirl-of-fear. But please, please read her WHOLE book on this, because there’s no way I can fully demonstrate the nuances of this approach in a post this short.

Wheel of Freedom, Fearless Living -- When someone you can't stand gets a win

Here’s the basic breakdown:

  • When you start to feel the fear grasp your heart with its talons, remind yourself of your essential nature—which is basically the deep-down good person you know you are (even when you don’t always feel like it). This also might just look like reminding yourself of what lights you up, what you truly care about in this life.
  • Then you do one of those proactive behaviors I was mentioning above (or rather your own proactive actions) something that gets you in a good place—for me, giving myself time to think, or distracting myself with a healthy behavior, asking myself ‘why’ until I get to the root of the issue, etc.
  • And this brings me back to my WHOLENESS. Now I can breathe, now I can go back and approach the situation with behaviors that fit my goals, my ethics, my personality and talents, shedding the negativity of the trigger situation. For me, that involved writing this post. 😉
  • This sense of wholeness gives me the power to release the fear and its dirty bag of lies and step back into living my life from a place of love and power, not fear.

Again, this is a simplification of a system that goes into greater depth and breadth, read the book for a deeper more faceted explanation of both wheels as well as a bunch of other potentially life-changing tools.

The Real Shift/Advantage

There’s a lot of judgment and negativity in the writing world and to some degree in creative work and entrepreneurship. I’ll tell ya though, if you really want an advantage—this is it. Being able to feel the fear and move on in a healthy way is priceless. Fear’s grip begins to weaken as your true badassery emerges.

Hey, I’m no angel and I still have my fear spirals (like this week, duh), but I swear this philosophy helps if you do the actual work of it. Give it time and your fear spirals will get shorter and less often.

You’ll find yourself less focused on outside bullshit that you have no control over anyway, and more focused on your badass mission(s) on this earth. Click To Tweet

Understanding the Flip Side

Now, I do want to make one more point here. This one’s a little sticky. There’s a flip side to this too. All too often there are also those who hate to see ANYONE succeed, even good people like you and me.

Have you ever experienced that? You get something published, or a big client, or a big win, and someone you considered a friend loathes you for it. I know I have. You can feel that person seething as you claim your win.

Now that you now know that their reaction has nothing to do with you. And everything to do with their own fears and insecurities.

They are firmly on their Wheel of Fear. You cannot change them, that’s up to them. But you can be true to your core, your goodness, your creativity, and compassion for yourself and others, and still kick ass and take names.

So, in the immortal words of Ricky Nelson:
“You see, ya can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself.”


Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. -Chuck Close

I realize this is a funny thing to say given that my work is largely infused with inspiration/motivation, but you’ll see what I’m really getting at. As writers and/or artists, we know that 90% of the battle is just putting your damn butt in the chair to write, or picking up the paintbrush (or pencil), or whatever implement you use to create. Yet all too often we expect this flash of inspiration to hit us like a gift from the gods.

Sure sometimes that happens, but more often than not it’s a slow build.

For me, creative writing, especially nonfiction about my life, is often an arduous process. There’s the occasional moment where the clouds part and the Universe says, “here you go, honey,” as they hand me a nugget of flow.

But usually, it pretty much goes like this:


As a kid I was a good student. I hated disappointing anyone almost as much as I hated being anything less than perfect. For the most part I got straight A’s. I was highly disappointed in myself if I didn’t.

Classmates would often remark that I was “so smart” or how they wished they could get A’s like I did. Frankly, this kind of pissed me off. Sure, on the surface this was a compliment, but underneath was the assumption that I just had some special gift that they didn’t. Bear with me, I know I sound like a bragging asshole right now.

I spent hours studying, doing drills, and practicing to earn those grades. In fact, in fourth grade when I got my first D ever (ironically, in spelling), Dad and I worked every night for months to bring that up to an A.

I was lucky that my parents definitely passed down their genetic propensity for traditional intelligence (make no mistake there are many different types of intelligence), but after that, it was up to me to get the grades even in subjects that felt like my brain was being torn apart. I’m looking at you math and conceptual physics!

In seventh grade this girl Mary and I competed for the best grades, we were often neck-in-neck for who had the best percentage A. This was when I realized there were smarter, harder working kids than me. She wanted it more and maybe she was smarter than me, too. I backed down a bit from my quest for perfection and sometimes settled for B’s or C’s (conceptual physics, you bitch). If I couldn’t be THE best, I’d get by with my reasonable best.

The thing is, I never applied this drive to physical activity as a kid. When it came to sports of most kinds, I was riddled with self-doubt and self-pity. If I couldn’t hit the ball, run fast enough, or catch often enough I just gave up. I needed to be at the top, and if I couldn’t I bowed out. It didn’t occur to me that hard work might just get me to “decent” eventually. I understood how to apply hardwork to school, but not as much to other things.


Fast forward twenty-some years to when I started out at UCLA X Writers Program. I entered thinking I was a pretty good writer who just needed to learn some tools in order to write better. From my first class, I realized I was an amateur. I was not even close to the top tier. Again, I wanted to be THE best. 

I secretly dreamed of being the next Joan Didion, or Mary Karr, until I realized I would likely not only would have to work for decades, but also was not born with their level of talent either.

Something had shifted. After a brief mourning period around not being born a golden child, I was able to better fight the urge to be perfect. I cared so much about becoming a better writer. Writing was something I’d wanted to learn since high school, and now I was finally doing it. I wanted to learn as much as possible, and push myself to my best, but not THE best. 

The initial momentum of my dream to become a writer propelled me, but it was the revisiting of it that got me through the hundreds of edits and thousands of hours of writing. I still feel as if I have a long way to go, but now just being on the path is enough to keep me going.


I liken creative work to walking. When you’re doing the work, you often feel as if you’re just staring at your feet as they step over the earth. You’re not sure where things are going, or even where you’ve been. There’s beauty in that presence, but if you don’t look up occasionally you’ll likely fall off a cliff or wander into a bad neighborhood.

On the other hand, if all you do is look up and around and your surroundings, looking for inspiration or motivation, you’ll never effectively see the path that leads you to your goals. And we all know the path is always a winding one.

I think then that our best bet is to do both. Observe what’s happening in our world, look forward toward our goals, our ultimate vision, as we call it in my personal branding course.  But we must also remember to look down at our feet, be in the moment, so we don’t stumble over that rock, or we can step over that brook, or clear out those branches that have fallen to block our path.

The rewards are all around us and even within the work of our path. But it’s that combination of steps, moving forward–the daily work–that leads us closer to our dreams, while that looking up that reminds us why we’re here.  

The more we do the work, the more inspiration follows. We don’t have to be the best, but when we are relentless in the pursuit of our calling, dream, or purpose, our most inspired work bursts forth.

“She was too naïve.” I’ve heard this complaint from so many friends, even my daughter, after watching the new Wonder Woman movie. I get it. It was uncomfortable to see this powerful woman completely unaware of her power, sexuality, and equally naive to the corrosive properties of the dark side of human nature. But to me, it made perfect sense.

So often I think we’re taught to equate success and power with the expectation that we’re innately uber powerful and bold, but for many of us badassery is an evolution. We’re not all born kicking ass and taking names.

It took decades for me to move from wallflower to butt-kicker. Heck, I’m still working on it.  Every. Damn. Day.

I grew up in a strict evangelical-fundamentalist enclave where a woman’s place was in service to her husband and children. Feminism (or any kind of true equality) was a dirty word.

In high school I walked around, head down, watching my feet, with my boyfriend, wearing Christian t-shirts emblazoned with sayings like “No Jesus. No Peace.” I’d wake up at 5:30AM to read my Bible and pray, for fear I’d backslide and lose my salvation if I didn’t work hard enough at it. I began to orient my every move around my boyfriend who would eventually become my ex-husband. My vows to him included a line that I would “follow wherever he led.”

I lived in a constant state of blind fear, utterly unaware to the expanse that my life could have outside of this bubble world.

Over the years, I grew up and away from the strictures of a faith that no longer served me. It took years for a mindset of powerlessness to indoctrinate me, so it only makes sense that it would take years to claw my way out of those limiting beliefs.

Just like Diana Prince, I saw the world through a sheltered upbringing, naive to the realities of modern life–both the good and the bad. But in some ways my upbringing, like Diana’s, prepared me for the battles of real life. The ability to commit to a disciplined life, to share what I believed even though I was scared, helped me for what lied ahead.

I used to call my life “Murphy’s Life” because, for years I felt like I was the perpetual target of a machine-gun firing shit sandwiches at my head. Between divorce, money issues, multiple health issues, deaths of loved ones, and too many things to name here, the experiences that challenged my beliefs catalyzed me to my shift from a lowly servant mindset to that of a woman who takes charge. As it turned out, strength, courage, and wisdom had always been there, deep down. I just didn’t know it yet.

[Spoiler] Throughout the film, we anticipate that Aries will find Diana. The stronger she gets, the closer he gets.

In the final battle scene of the movie, Diana loses a loved one and must face her impossible foe.  She’s on her back, pinned to the ground. It seems hopeless. She can decide to give up, or get up. Our hero breaks through what she thought she believed about herself (and the world) and taps into more power than she realized she had.

For me, that moment came when I had to make the hardest decision of my life: taking my children away from their father. My ex was abusing drugs and mentally abusing our children (and me). The stronger I got, the worse he got. It took me longer than I’d care to admit to patch together the courage to stand up to him. I’m sure I looked like a damned wimp; I sure felt like one. But after so many years of being under his control, pinned to the ground of my own life, I finally realized it had to stop.

For Diana, it took saving the world, to step into her power. For me it was the same, I had to save my world–my children. Les Brown says of being knocked down, that if you can look up, you can get up. And so I finally did. I got up, and strapped on my own villain-kicking boots in order to protect my children from their own father.

The things is, we humans ARE so much more powerful than we believe. We are blind to our own strengths and capabilities. But I truly believe we can become our own heros. And our world needs more of us.

Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman gives us a beautifully faceted hero, one whom we watch evolve into claiming her own latent power.

We’re all a different places in our life’s journey. We were or are all naive in some ways, and definitely–at some point–to our own super powers.

I think superhero movies are so popular right now because so many of us feel powerless against the myriad of injustices in our plugged-in, overwrought, global society. If we’re meant to draw inspiration from superheroes, if these fantastical myths are meant to give us hope and strength then this Wonder Woman is the hero we’ve been waiting for. Because when shit got real, she did not stop.

Sure it sounds cheesy, or even cringe-worthy, but here goes: be the hero of your own life. There’s so much more to you than you realize. You don’t have to feel like a badass to start being one.

Get up and into your life, trusting that you’ve got what it takes, and you’ll see that strength, courage, and wisdom has been there  inside you all along.


Mariah Carey’s self-titled album (her debut album actually) was the first CD I owned.  I can still remember sitting on our back deck one summer, at dusk. Our brand new black boombox that had a–wait for it–CD player, was set near the steps.  I peeled the cellophane wrapper of the CD and in a rare moment of secular-music-listening-pleasure, I heard Mariah’s stunning voice, clearer than any radio broadcast.

I still love me some Mimi (even though she ditched her curly hair) and when this song popped up on my Pandora feed today I just had to share with you.  It is one of my faves from that era.  A time in my life when I felt small, but had big dreams.

So keep going y’all!  I know I am.  I am making this happen. And for the first time in my life, I feel like I am living to my potential.  I hope you are too!

“If you believe in yourself enough

And know what you want
You’re gonna make it happen
Make it happen”

I’ve so got this, I thought one afternoon, driving down the freeway.  I was thinking about a new section of the book I was writing.  I felt so happy, so lucky.  I had been trying to figure out how I was going to structure this one part of the book and it had finally come to me.  I recorded an audio note on my iPhone as I drove to my writing class.  Excitement and passion swelled my chest.  I whispered a little prayer of thanks.  In that moment I could visualize all the pieces falling into place, my dreams materializing.  Fuzzy figures in the distance, they transformed into sharp focus.  God, it was a good feeling. Awesome, in fact.

The next day, good feelings gone, I muddled through a thoroughly critiqued (by my peers) chapter of my book, trying to find the right words. That old familiar feeling resurfaced–fear & self-deprecation.  My Inner Negative-Nelly chimed in:  Really, you think you can do this?  You couldn’t even do this one chapter perfectly.  Maybe you aren’t really meant to do this.  Maybe you have no idea what you’re doing, or worse, maybe you just don’t even have it in you to produce something good.  Maybe you should just give up.

The tendrils of paralysis began to twist and unfurl their way into my motivation. Realizing what I was headed for, I spurted, “Nope! F-that.”  I’m not slipping down that spiral again.  Screw it, I’m going to muddle through this whatever it takes.  Because sometimes, I am awesome. Even if I don’t feel like that right now.

Those who risk doing something they love, something they feel drawn to do, something they feel strongly about, will experience doubt.  It’s human nature. It’s normal.  And honestly, I think it’s the universe testing your resolve.  It’s probably not going to be all smooth sailing for most of us.  But that’s precisely what gives the experience intrinsic value.

We’ve all heard the adage: If it was easy, everyone would do it.  I’d also like to add: If it was easy, it just wouldn’t be that great.  If everyone wrote like Mary Karr, Joan Didion, or F. Scott Fitzgerald, their craft would not be so powerful.  If everyone could paint like Picasso or Michelangelo – their art would be considered average.  While there’s no doubt these artists are insanely talented, none of them just woke up one day and were perpetually awesome.  They tried and failed. Their work “sucked” sometimes, but through that failure they did not give up.  They didn’t give up because they knew deep down they had something special to share with the world.  You’ve got that thing too — that thing that only you can give to this world.

If you’ve already committed to following your dream, whatever that may be, the question is no longer whether you will continue, but rather, how well you will do this thing.  But when you’re drowning in that sea of self-depreciation, flailing and feeling like shit about your efforts/talents, you need some kind of buoy to cling to.  Allow me to throw you your buoy (or life-raft): remember a time when you were awesome.  As your negative thoughts pull down on you fight back by recalling a time when you felt like you could conquer the world.

Here are some prompts to get you thinking about times when you were awesome.  Go through this list.  Write down your ideas.  Next time you feel like you’re drowning, you can grab on to one of these and begin swimming back to shore.

-Describe a time when you felt most at peace. What had you done to get there?

-Think of the moment when you first had the idea to do this (whatever it is you’re venturing to do)

-Remember a moment you realized that you were going to be OK.

-Recall when you received a compliment that meant a lot to you – what was it? Own it.

-Write down an occasion when you finished something you were proud of.

-Note any goal you’ve achieved (whether it’s losing a pound, telling someone how you felt or anything).

-Recall a fear you faced (& maybe even conquered).

-Savor the memory of a meal that you made especially well.

-Make note of an award you received.

-Stumped?  Ask some trusted friends what it is that they like most about you, or one of their favorite memories of you.

and the list goes on…

You get the idea.  Build up the cadre of examples of when you were awesome and you’ll beat back the doldrums quicker than ever before.

Hope that helps.  Remember:  Believe in yourself, even if you’re the only one who does. (If you build it, they will come)

So the next time you’re feeling low, just remember when you were awesome.

If you have other tips, please share below. 🙂 Or if you want to share something about yourself that is just, well, awesome please do!



If you’re ever in a down moment, need a little inspiration, Sara’s got it for you. I heart this video/song! (And yes, I’ve been known to spontaneously dance in public – my kids & boyfriend can attest to that).


I have a confession: I am very impatient, but sometimes I also take a while to make up my mind. (I know my friends are rolling their eyes here)  It’s a one-two punch of needing  time to decide and then once I have, I want it NOW!

Over the years I have become more comfortable with being “ok” with the way I work and don’t beat up on myself as much for not being able to make quick decisions.  Still, sometimes, there’s that gnawing ache to be on with things already!  When I’m in that mode there are a few things that help me cool my jets when my impatience kicks in.  Hopefully you’ll find them helpful as well.


“It took almost 40 years for me to become a writer.
Before that I always dreamt of becoming a writer, but I never dared to take the necessary steps.” – Paulo Coelho

1. A light at the end of the tunnel.  If I know where I am headed (sometimes even just the general direction, if not the end result)I feel so much better.  Taking the time to really think things through & feel confident in your decision can help stave off impatience.

2. A plan. Sometimes a goal seems awesome at first but then you don’t know where to start, or you like me, you research the hell out of what to do so much that you get lost in the details.  Breaking your task down into bite-sized prices and calendaring it out can give you the peace of mind to carry each item out without freaking over the entire project.

3. Do it when you don’t feel like it.  Acting on those bite-sized tasks can sometimes feel like drops in the bucket. But the reality is that each activity either brings you closer to or further away from your goal. Ask yourself this question every time you feel like making an excuse to avoid the task: Will this action bring me closer to my goal or further away? It’s surprising a simple thought like that can help you empower yourself to move forward.

4. Friends. Talking with friends not only boosts your mood in general, easing that sense of urgency, but you’ll realize how much you are accomplishing when you actually ‘catch up’ with your friends. And hey these are your friend for a reason, you’ll likely get some good advice, insights and encouragement for your goal.

5. Breathe.  Mindful practices are scientifically proven to change the way your brain works (in a good way) and improve executive functioning (ya know the part of your brain that governs things like impulse control/patience).  Yoga, prayer and meditation are just a few examples of mindful practices.  Essentially, you’re tuning out of the rat race of your daily life to take a moment to breath and make some space in your head.  Mindful Awareness is ridiculously awesome and is proven to help with mental and physical ailments.  Check out UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center to learn more.  Also, here’s a bunch of free 5-10  minute meditations (my fave is the Loving Kindness meditation).

I’ve seen how much these practices have affected my own mindset as I am finally actively working toward writing my first book.

What are you up to? I would love to hear about your goals and how you keep from letting impatience, laziness or confusion take over.

Photo credit:  http://paulocoelhoblog.com/2011/09/07/impatient-to-change/ (A great little post on following your dream by someone how has – Paulo Coelho)

Failure paves the road to success. I’ve come to terms with that idea. I’ve even come to be almost comfortable with certain types of failure.  But what really gets my goat is the by-product of failure, aka self-doubt. For me it’s not the failure itself, nor the fear of it, it’s the seed of doubt that failing plants in my head. Logically, I know that each failure just means I’m closer to achieving my goal, yet I can’t help but wonder sometimes, is there something wrong with me?

I recently applied for a writing scholarship that I figured I was a shoe-in for, then fear, failure and self-doubt paid me a visit. The award was based heavily on the student’s economic situation and, of course, their essay. Since, at the moment, my financial situation is very much less-than-savory and I wrote a darn decent essay, I figured, I’ve got this. I just ‘felt’ like it was mine. So when I got the rejection email I was actually a bit surprised. It’s not as if this scholarship was a make or break for going to school. It wasn’t as if I was being rejected enrollment by the only school I wanted to go to. Still it saddened me and I thought, well, I doubt they had a lot of applicants in worse economic situations, so perhaps my writing just wasn’t up to snuff. And that was the ticket to make me melancholy for the rest of the night. Depressed enough to have too much kettle corn and two cocktails, on a weeknight nonetheless! As I guiltily mixed the drink, breaking my diet, I thought, I know I am a good writer, why didn’t they think so? (The adult equivalent of: “ Why don’t they like me?”)

The problem started with my expectation, or the weight, I put on this scholarship. I tried to be balanced and detached. I told myself that even if I didn’t get it, it wasn’t a big deal. I still had the possibility of a grant and if all else failed, at least I had enough money saved for one class and that was a start. Secretly though, held on to this idea: if they give me the scholarship it’s confirmation that someday I will be a super successful writer – that perhaps I will be the golden child of the writer’s program. So naturally, when it turned out I was not, in fact, the golden child, that I was very likely not even the best candidate, my ego took a blow.

It’s hard to be a dreamer and know when to temper it. As an idealist, the part of me that says, you’ve got something here, conventions don’t apply, live extraordinary, and pushes me to believe in something bigger, yeah that part, also has some unrealistic hopes (and standards). As dreamers it’s as if the ability to think big is just built into our DNA. Unrealistic expectations of grandeur can be my forte and, in truth, part of the motivation for achieving great things in my life. But sometimes it gets to be too much. When it does it leads to what a lot of us dreamers and entrepreneurs experience as moments of self-doubt and discouragement.

We think we’re supposed to keep humming along, motivated every day to reach new heights – to achieve what we set out to do, without being blindsided by failure. Yet when the dark cloud of failure or doubt moves in we think of giving up, throwing in the towel, that maybe we aren’t quite as cool as we think we are. Truly we are both not as cool as and somehow totally more rad than we even realize. Let me explain, we aren’t necessarily going to fulfill every expectation, hope or dream our passion drums up, but what makes us extraordinary is that we do not get stuck (for too long) on the side of that road. We are the ones who keep moving forward even we feel so beaten down that we want to give up.

In a dire moment of parenting overload and flounced onto my bed and blubbered to my boyfriend, sitting nearby, “It’s all too much, sometimes I just want to run away, I used to think I was strong and now I’m so weak.” (It had been a particularly tumultuous day in teenagerland.) In his ever more rational way of looking at the world, he said, “Andrea, what makes you strong is not that you handle everything perfectly, it’s that you struggle and cry and then, even when you feel like doing the opposite, you never give up.” It’s probably one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me.

Life is full of storms, and there are even more when you’re pursuing a dream; sometimes you feel like you’re about to drown, or that it might even be easier to just drown and be done with it.  Just remember YOU are the only one who can make your dream happen. Sometimes you’re going to give out, but that doesn’t mean you need to give up.

3 (or 4) Ways to stave off this particular brand of mind-freaking:

1. Fall in Love Again. Remind yourself how you felt when you took the first step of this journey, the place where you were inspired and motivated, impassioned to pursue this path. Being a dreamer or entrepreneur is like being in love. It always starts with the “honeymoon” phase. As you go through the hard times you need to remind yourself of why you are here in the first place, why it is so worth it. If you don’t you will lose sight or at least focus and it will not end well. So take the time to fall in love with your dream again.

2. Identify what secret/private expectations you have of a given situation and let them go. This is something you might not even tell anyone else. (Like my “golden child” fantasy) Easy right? Bah. This is a hard one, but if you can “let it go” and realize that things will happen as they should and that you’ve done all you can, you free yourself up for possibility. The state of possibility is where you can more rationally decide what actions you will take if this particular situation doesn’t work out – rather than reacting emotionally after the fact. And if you’re having a hard time letting it go, remind yourself that, most importantly, if it doesn’t go the way you’d like – you’re still awesome and you’ll get there, eventually.

3. Be Kind. When things don’t go the way you’d like, instead of berating yourself or bashing the person or circumstances, be compassionate with yourself and, gasp, maybe even others. Vent for sure, it’s important to get all that crap out of your head and heart. But then be kind to yourself. Learn whatever lessons you can from the situation. Improve where you need to improve, stretch and grow, but be vigilant about not allowing fear to take over again.

4. (PRAY like you mean it!)


Have some of your own tips?  Please share!


I needed to hear that today and as the Universe would have it I came a great blog post reminding me of the power of surrender (see video below).  I’ve been struggling with some personal and career decisions lately, and frankly, stressing myself the hell out.  A big stressor was recently removed from my life, but ironically, more devious little stress buggers cropped up in it’s place.  I knew the problem was not just the source of stress, but me and how I choose to deal with it.  Still, sometimes I’m so lost in the problem, I don’t stop to really think and find the solution.  A solution is surrender…and here’s my story:

About 2 years ago I was really struggling in the dating world.  I wasn’t finding anyone I truly wanted to be with and to be honest, there were a lot of guys more interested in getting into my pants than my head.  My mindset of yearning for a mate fed into that vibe, unconsciously attracting the opposite kind of guy that I wanted.  I had the usual cadre of blocks in my head:  I’m not cool enough, I’ve got two kids, my business is flailing, & conversely, I like myself, I think I’m pretty cool, am a good mom, am ambitious, workout, etc. -SO WHY don’t I have a boyfriend?  I was deeply entrenched in WHY.

Then I realized that even if I found my soul mate, at some point, I would, at least near the end of life, be without him again.  At that realization, I decided right then that I needed to get “ok” with being alone.  I had to fully surrender my fear of not finding “the one” and for me, that meant “give it to God.”  I kept working at it because it didn’t come easy, but every day, sometimes many times I would visualize the burden being lifted and me giving it away.  Visualization helped a TON.

The anxiety, the struggle, the insecurity, the stupid decisions melted away and I was comfortable in my own skin, on my own at a movie and alone in my bed.  I flourished in the things, friends and family I loved and loved myself just as I was.  A few months went by and then out of the blue, the most wonderful man I have ever known came into my life.

I’m not saying that if you surrender you’re going to get exactly what you want right away.  Sometimes you will get exactly what you didn’t know you needed in an unexpected form.  (I’ve been there, lemme tell ya)  But, surrender is the key to open the door to the free-flowing abundance of how things are meant to be for you.

Here’s the video post from Carrie of Female Entrepreneur Association that prompted this post today:

And here’s the video of Oprah that she refers to:  Watch BOTH!! 🙂

What if you became a guerrilla gardener, but instead of flowers or grass you plant joy, hope and healing?guerrilla gardeners dumpster

Guerrilla Gardening can be a peaceful protest, a stand for beliefs, and a way to build community.  In urban areas, green-thumbed passionates plant flowers, shurbs or grass to, at the least, make a statement and, even more, foster community cause.  From revitalizing abandoned areas to creating new space for community grown food, Guerrilla Gardening is changing urban life, one  patch at a time.  These rebel gardeners plant in dumpsters, abandoned lots, places that used  to be a blight, a depressive reminder of hopelessness and despair.  More than just beauty or a harvest of food these gardens remind us that hope still exists, even amongst gray harsh concrete,  cold rusted metal and the discarded remains of human use and neglect.

What if we, who believe in the power of our dreams, start acting as Guerrilla Gardeners of hope?  Instead of following the norm, imagine planting seeds of confidence, cultivating joy and hope, harvesting changes of mind, inspiration.  Like flowers that blossom with water, care and fertilizer, so gardeners of the spirit can help people bloom in the most unlikely of places – right where they are.  In spite of hopeless times, harsh environments and the never ending over-stimulation of media, there is hope for a fulfilled life.  It doesn’t just lie in what we want to achieve, but rather it is there all along, latent as a seed waiting to germinate,  in our natural state (notice “nature” in that word), a reminder of who we are meant to be.

I truly believe as we free ourselves from the bonds of fear and negativity, as we give ourselves permission to shine as we were meant to, we unconsciously inspire others  to do the same.  I want to be a Guerrilla Gardener, planting the seeds of hope, courage, wisdom and love in as many seemingly hopeless, fearful and abandoned places as possible.  It starts with my own neglected spaces.  Tending my own garden first will give me the tools to help other’s hope flourish.

guerrilla gardening of hope

To inspire you to think about places you might be a gardener of hope, check out this lovely article from Good, about Guerrilla Gardening:  http://www.good.is/posts/10-most-awesome-guerrilla-gardens-from-around-the-world?utm_source=upw