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When my kids were young we attended a survivalist class at our local nature center. Over the course of a few weeks, we learned what to do if we got lost in the woods or the desert, how long we could survive without water, how to filter water, how to build a shelter, and among other things, what to include in our survival kit. There’s a certain level of peace and confidence in knowing that you have the skillset to survive an extreme situation—and even more so when you know that if your kids were somehow separated from you, they would have better chances too.

Recently, this got me thinking. Why don’t we have personal, emotional/mental survival kits? So here’s my first pass at helping you build one. Which means of course, that if you have any ideas to add, I’d love to hear your input!

Just like with a normal survival kit, you actually want to have more than one. You want to have your big ol’ grandaddy kit that has EVERYTHING, but you also want a small portable kit that you can keep in your car or your purse–something you can access just about anywhere.

So let’s start with the big ol’ kit. You can adapt as you see fit; these are simply suggestions/tools that have worked for me. I’ve also organized it in terms of physical survival kit supplies because that’s just fun and the similes worked. Don’t you just love when that happens?

🚰 Water. Craving a sense of inner peace is kind of like our physical need for water.

If we stay in fight-or-flight mode for too long, we lose our ability to think clearly. Similarly, not having enough water affects our mood, thinking, and ability to keep going. When something extremely stressful occurs (like, ya know, every week in 2020) use one or several of these water-like methods to fill ourselves back up:

  • Take a few minutes (or more) away from the stimulus.
  • Go somewhere safe and cry.
  • Remove yourself from the situation if possible.
  • Focus on your breathing: in through your nose while you count to 4, hold for a count of 4, out for a count of 4, repeat 4 times.
  • Ask a friend if you can vent to them, set a timer and finish when the timer is done.
  • Write ALL your feelings out (remember: you can always throw it away or burn it).
  • Give yourself at least to the count of 5 to respond if you need to.

🥫 Food. The ability to problem-solve and think through things is similar to our physical need for food.

We can survive for weeks without it but if we don’t get it eventually the results will be fatal.

  • Nourish yourself with the words of wise, enlightened folks. I have two or three go-to books that I always keep nearby. I know I can pretty much open up to any page and find some words of perspective and encouragement.
  • Start a playlist of songs on Pandora or Spotify that is your “feel good” or “badass” mix. Listen whenever you need a boost.
  • Start a playlist of motivational or encouraging videos on YouTube, or do this with podcasts. The point is to make it easy to find those nutritious bits of perspective when you need it most.
  • While you may be tempted to add a trashy novel or a reality show to this, these outlets are the junk food of this metaphor. They may be entertaining, but they’re ultimately a distraction. What will actually sustain you is nutrient-dense insights. The only real exception to this I’d say is music because any tune can potentially give you the energy you need.

🛏 Rest. We all know our physical need for sleep (although sometimes we like to ignore it).

Here I’m talking about both physical and mental/emotional rest—we need both to heal and restore our systems. We cannot survive without it.

  • Sleep itself can vastly affect our mood and ability to cope. So as much as you can, prioritize a good night’s sleep, or at least take a nap. Experts say it’s even more important than exercise because it is quite literally the way your body heals and replenishes itself.
  • Rest can mean a lot of different things. It might be a nap; or it might be just watching TV. It might mean setting aside your to-do list today. Whatever it is, your body knows when it needs it… and your mind does too. So listen, dammit. Seriously. We (esp. Americans) are taught that it’s admirable to push yourself beyond your limits. While sometimes we do benefit from pushing ourselves further than we thought possible, rest is also very necessary for survival, especially in times of high stress. So give yourself a break and prioritize rest just as much as action.
  • Schedule times for mental breaks during your work day. Either literally schedule it in your calendar or use a timer app like Pomodoro to get your sprints of work and rest periods implemented.

🏠 Shelter. Creating physical and mental space for yourself is just as important as our human need for physical shelter.

  • Creating a personal safe space is one of the most elemental human needs. For most of us that means a home, or at least a bedroom of our own. Yet, sometimes we don’t even have that. (I’ve been there). In these cases, it’s important to have something that is yours. If you share a home with others, create even a small section of a room that is decorated with things you love. If you do not have that, carry a few trinkets that remind you of who you are and what you love to provide a semblance of grounding. When I didn’t have a room of my own and was sleeping on my mom’s couch, I had my belongings in my minivan. Sometimes I’d just drive somewhere and sit in my vehicle with my things to feel like I had something that was mine in this world.
  • Aside from the physical need, you’ll need a mental shelter too. This is where I like to remind folks of the idea of the Untouched Soul—that invincible part of yourself that’s untouched by the storms that may be raging around you. Being alone in nature, having a moment to yourself in your room, going for a drive, or talking to a loved one can provide that “shelter” and help you get back in touch with that untouched part of yourself.
  • Another way to provide shelter to yourself is to set clear boundaries with others. Deciding ahead of time what you are (or are not) willing or not willing (or able) to do in a given situation can help remove the emotion from it and help you retain your power and autonomy without feeling like an asshole.

🌤 Exposure. If you’re stuck out in the wild, temperature change can be the difference between making it through the night or not.

In this simile we’ll say the more depressive emotions are cold and the more anxious emotions are heat. We can adapt to shifts, but when the “temperature” goes too far under or over for too long, it threatens our wellbeing. Here are some tools for regulating your emotional temperature.

  • Ongoing positive lifestyle practices can act like a protective layer against the ups and downs of depression, anxiety, and stress. Having a few key routines in your day can help regulate the temperature of your emotions. Consider integrating one or two (or more) of these daily practices into your life:
  • Too “cold:” If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, you may want to look into medication and help from a medical professional. Depression can often manifest gradually, and in ways you don’t even realize until you are out of it. Feeling consistently grumpy, overly tired, numb, or flat can all be signs of depression. It can be similar to being out in the cold for hours and not realizing you have frostbite because your toes went numb.
  • Too “hot:” Conversely, anxiety can sometimes just seem like “stress,” but if you’re struggling with being able to calm yourself, feeling jittery, or having trouble sleeping, it might be time to talk to a mental health professional, or at the least look into some mindfulness practices.

🧭 Increase Your Chances of Being Found. If we’re lost in the woods, there are certain things we can do to figure out where we are, even without a compass.

The same is true for our mental wellbeing. Things that can help us find our way:

  • 2-3 go to books that you love. Ones that ground you, help remind you of who you are, and the bigger, spiritual practice of life.
  • A therapist can help with wayfinding
  • Your own journals, either writing fresh thoughts or revisiting what you’ve written in the past can help you come back to your own self.
  • Follow inspiring people or brands that help you return to a sense of peace and purpose. Just don’t get sucked down the rabbit hole of social media because we all know that almost never helps.
  • Reading new articles or posts, or listening to podcast episodes from trusted insightful people can help you come back to yourself too.
  • Partake in something new: a creative, restorative, or thoughtful class, workshop, or even church, whatever floats your boat. Sometimes getting out of your own head and getting fresh ideas can help you find your way.
  • I keep a “feel good” file full of compliments, testimonials, “yeses,” wins, etc. that remind me of my truest self, even when imposter syndrome is trying to knock me down.

So that’s the BIG survival kit. For a take-anywhere version, I encourage you to look through all of these bullet points and select the top 3 use-in-any-situation-type resources. Write them down on your phone notes or a post-it to keep in your wallet. You’d be surprised how much it can help when you’re in a trying moment to know you have this little list of 3 things to help.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this email series on coping with and harnessing change during these difficult times. And remember, if you have ideas for additions to this survival kit let me know.

When I was a girl, I played with Barbies, arranged my stuffed bunny collection, and imagined that my adult life would look something like this:

👩‍🏫 Job: waitress, teacher, or nurse (or first woman president—yes, seriously) 🤣

🎓 College: 4-year degree in something

👰🤵🏽 Relationship: Meet my future husband in college, get married right after. He’d have a cool guy name like Mike or Chris.

🍼🍼🍼🍼 Family: a few years later we’d start having kids. We’d have two boys and two girls, just like my grandma did.

And that, my friends, is as far as childhood Andrea could see.

Spoiler: my life did not go according to my 8-year-old self’s plan. Praise the Lord! (As I would’ve said back then).

Our vision for our lives can change many times throughout our lifetime, and that’s a good thing… even though it might be painful at times.

Right now, we’re going through a massive global upheaval and it’s only logical that your vision for your life may also need some adjustments. As we’ve discussed in the previous Power of Change emails, massive change tends to incite personal disruption and change, but it’s up to you to decide what to adjust and when the time is right. To do that, you need to accept where you are, what’s holding you back, and how to adapt. If you haven’t read those previous emails, I highly recommend taking a few minutes to do so.

If you’ve been on my email list for a bit, then you know that I’m a big believer in having a personal vision for your life: a clear, sensory-laden description of what success and a good life mean to you. If you’ve never created something like this for yourself (and even if you have), I encourage you to join me for a live workshop on Sunday, October 25th where I’ll be walking through how to create a powerful vision for your future and keep yourself on the track toward personal and professional fulfillment. If you have created a vision for your life, even if it isn’t written down, it’s a good time to revisit it now, in the wake of everything that has transpired this year.

Consider this process when thinking about what you had hoped for in your life pre-2020:

Grieve the loss of what might have been. If you haven’t given yourself time and space to grieve, take some time to do so. Grief is a multi-layered affair and there are so many things to grieve right now– the loss of a job, personal freedoms, relationships, or even just being able to see friends–and they all matter. If you don’t grieve, it’ll come back to you as anger, resentment, or any variety of negative emotions.

Acknowledge the realities of our present time. Sometimes we’re so eager to feel better that we brush past the realities of what sucks now. Our culture wants us to move fast—even past reality. Don’t wallow, but take the time to acknowledge how hard things actually are right now. In fact, make a list. It will help you release it.

Get honest with yourself about what’s most important. Really sit with how you feel about things. Ask yourself how your perspective has shifted. Consider what feels most important to you now. Write it down.

Create an “either or” plan. Everyone I talk to lately is echoing the same sentiment: what happens next? How do I plan when I don’t know if we’ll be in a civil war by November? Trust me, I feel this way too. But this isn’t the first time we’ve been at a crossroads in our lives, individually or collectively. Think about creating a couple of plans–worst case, best case, heck maybe even a few of each. (And if you’d like help with that, consider joining me for my vision planning workshop on October 25th!)

Consider how you can reconnect or serve your community. While personal knowledge, self-actualization, and fulfillment are absolutely important, I think one area in which western philosophies of life fall short is in expanding our vision to our communities. In western countries, we’ve been sold the idea of rugged individualism so severe that we’re now suffering an epidemic of loneliness. The reality is that we humans are social creatures and our individual health depends on our collective health.

Creating a vision of success for our own individual benefit is not complete without including some kind of community component. So as you go about reassessing your vision for your life, I encourage you to consider how you can both serve and seek support from your communities.

We need each other more than ever. This New Normal has shown us time and again how interconnected we are and how collective change is only possible if we work together.

Take good care of yourself. Let me say this again: remember to take care of yourself. Despite how loooong this thing has dragged on (and even compounded), you still need extra rest, extra care, and extra time to recuperate. This is a high stress marathon, so eat, hydrate, and nap.

 

This post is part of the Power of Change Post series. Click here to read Part 5: Pack Your Survival Kit 🧳

There is a pervasive lie in the self-help/self-development world. That lie is this:

The same level of success, wealth, health, and ambition is available to all of us right now. In fact, all you need to do is act now. All that holds you back is you.

I’m gonna sound like a bitch for saying it, but hear me out: MOST self-help gurus, success celebrities (Successeties as I’ll call them here) have achieved a level of success that simply is not feasible for the vast majority of us.

How can I say this as a woman who damn well wants to be rich AND help people achieve their dreams? Let me explain.

Results May Vary

The vast majority of success gurus came from a certain level of privilege or innate success. (Yes, even many who claim to have rags-to-riches stories). Don’t get me wrong, of course there are exceptions as well as some absolutely awesome teachers out there.

But, in the world of Successities, they tend to fall into two categories:

  • The remarkable charismatic overachiever who built an empire off of said genetic jackpot. (Oddly they often have a background in finance)
  • The person who experienced unimaginable loss and rose above it. (Often they tend to be predisposed to positivity even before their inciting event.)

Look, there’s nothing wrong with that. It IS inspiring to learn from successful people. But I think there should be a disclaimer, kind of like there are on diet program ads, like: “Results are not typical.

🤩 While these folks are inspiring for many reasons, I’d argue that often their messages can be, at best, misleading (unintentionally or otherwise), and at worst, damaging because they rarely take into account anyone outside of their privilege bubble. I think the most insidious psychological phenomena they massage is this: most of us secretly hope that we are as special/cool/smart/motivated as they are and that all we’re missing is the key to unlock our vast potential.

There is no doubt that these folks have important things to teach us. And I 100% believe that we are capable of SO MUCH MORE than we give ourselves credit for. ✊✊🏿 ✊🏽

But it’s also important to recognize that one person’s pulling up of their proverbial bootstraps is not necessarily the same as someone else’s. 🥾👢

There are those who have been pulling up their bootstraps with the most positive of attitudes for years but will never become the next Tony Robbins or Marie Forleo.

For instance, while it is true that working toward a positive mindset and reframing our circumstances can help anyone rise above their circumstances, there’s often another side to this where we compare ourselves and beat ourselves up for not measuring up to our heroes or even our peers.

Imagine we have two people dying for a promotion at work.

Sarah is a Black single mom with a teenage son who has been harassed in the past by cops on his way home from school. He’s a good kid. But there’s always a level of fear. She has a decent apartment but a tight budget. This raise could really help. John is a white father with two kids and a wife who handles most of their needs so John can focus on his career. They both work and have a modest home. This raise could really help.

We know very little about these two people, but at this very surface level, we know that the stakes are higher for Sarah and that her stress level is likely higher. We also know that she’s more likely to be paid less for the same job that John does and that she is at a higher risk of being sexually harassed or underestimated at work. We also know she doesn’t have a partner to help with parenting.

🧰 Even when presented with the same self-help tools, these two folks are inherently going to have different experiences. And while Sarah happens to be capable of beating the odds, it is going to be harder for her mentally, emotionally, and financially.

There is no competition for who has it worse – we just need to be honest about the varying realities of race, class, education, social networks, etc. Not only do societal infrastructures differ for John and Sarah, but their starting points do as well. Therein lies a blind spot of the self-improvement industry.

Not only do societal infrastructures differ for John and Sarah, but their starting points do as well.

It doesn’t make the principles self-help teachers share any less true, but ignoring it does foster an undercurrent of internalized racism, misogyny, patriarchy, and a variety of other systems put in place to further the interests of the rich, white, and privileged. Neglecting to call that out can perpetuate the misconception that certain people just aren’t working hard enough or just aren’t positive enough, or whatever.

While I absolutely believe personal growth and success are possible for anyone, we need to acknowledge that we are all starting at different points, experiencing different realities, benefiting from various privileges, or being alienated by prejudices. On top of that, our minds all work in different ways. It’s only logical to conceive that we will have different outcomes in our lives.

Accept then Adapt

I think it’s time we get real honest with ourselves and accept that our circumstances put us at not only different starting points, but on pathways littered with different types of challenges.

Why does this matter? Because in order to truly achieve we need a clear-eyed view of what’s held us back in order to undo the damage. If we don’t do this, we risk beating ourselves up unnecessarily or worse, unconsciously perpetuating oppressive systems that keep the classes, genders, and races separated by a canyon of differences.

👉 I’ll give you an example. I didn’t start to make true breakthroughs in my revenue until I was able to undo some of my own mental blockages around money. If you’ve been with me for a while, you’ll know that my turning point was catalyzed by Jen Sincero’s book, You’re a Badass at Making Money. This was not the first or even the tenth book I had read over the years about making more money.

So what got through to me this time?

  1. She spoke my language,
  2. She was raw, honest, and vulnerable about her own failures, and
  3. She gave me practical tools to begin the work of undoing my subconscious self-sabotaging mindset toward money.

It didn’t matter how many strides I’d previously made creatively or in my business. For some reason, I’d always cap out at the same amount and run into the same issues no matter how positive I tried to be. Until I understood what was personally holding me back, I couldn’t overcome it. And in this case, my subconscious was stuck in the environment that I grew up in: financial struggles and internalized beliefs about what was possible for me and what money might do to me.

That’s why I believe that having an honest understanding of who you are and what you’re up against in this world can help you identify and work through the things that hold you back. In other words, you learn how to ADAPT your approach once you can ACCEPT why you’re there. Then, you can use that experience to help others.

When the roots of your socialization and genetic code are exposed, you also begin to see which beliefs and values are truly yours and which have been imposed on you by other people and systems.

You begin to see the fingerprints of those who benefit from keeping you in “your place” all over your life. Only then can you wipe them away and grasp hold of who you genuinely are.

The beauty is that you’re adaptable as hell. You’ve already unknowingly adapted to situations and systems all around you your whole life. Once you accept where and who you are now, a vast new world opens up. A world that is actually attainable. A world in which you can achieve the things you hope for and even some that you didn’t even know were possible. You begin to remove the layers of dust and dirt that accumulated over your inner compass. You begin to follow your own true north.

That is my most fervent wish for you.

 

This post is part of the Power of Change series. Click here to read Part 4: How to adapt your personal vision to the New Normal.

In the last post, I talked about how the massive societal changes we’ve experienced this year have caused many to realize that they crave change in their own personal lives. Perhaps you feel this way. Whether you’re realizing that you simply need to take better care of yourself or you have something more complex chipping away at your psyche, it can be hard to know when the timing is right to begin that change.

I’m reading a book by indigenous writer Sherri Mitchell (Weh’na Ha’mu’ Kwasset) called Sacred Instructions, Indigenous Wisdom for Living Spirit-Based Change, in which she expresses that many indigenous elders believe we are at a crossroads both in terms of our humanity and how life on earth will proceed. They assert that now is the time for massive societal change.

While I agree, I’m also a realist. 🤷‍♀️

We’re all on our individual journeys which started at different points, provided different tools and privileges, and offer different lessons and abilities to each of us. Some of us are just trying to figure out how to pay rent next month or how to get through a day of distance learning. So who am I to tell someone going through that it’s time to change?

On the other hand, I am also intimately acquainted with the malaise and/or complacency of saying to myself, “oh it’s too hard right now, I’ll get to that later.” And then ten damn years go by without gaining so much as an inch in the right direction. 

So, how the hell do you KNOW?

While it is absolutely not my place to tell you, I humbly present three stories with some real-life examples of things that helped me figure out my stuff. Perhaps it will be of use to you:

⏲️ When the time is not right.

A few summers ago, I dangled my legs into our apartment complex swimming pool and bitched and whined about how much I wanted to be a full-time author and how I felt trapped in my relationship. A friend sat nearby with legs akimbo, listening. As I swished my feet back and forth, I agonized over what I wanted versus what my reality was. I looked up to see her eyes glazed over. She’d heard some version of this story too many times.

I was stuck and felt stuck. My decision was not just about what I wanted, but what was best for my kids and whether I was truly ready to give up the love I had with this good man. Ultimately, this period became one of some pretty draining depression and a fight to make more money, work on my relationship, and keep my sanity. Writing “the book” was postponed multiple times. Making money was a priority. Preserving my mental health was a priority. Security for my kids and kindness for my boyfriend was a priority.

What I didn’t know then was that what needed to change most was my mindset. I learned this the hard way over the course of a few more painful, beautiful years. Incidentally, I also learned that I didn’t actually want to be exclusively a full-time author…go figure.

Sometimes the answer to ‘is this the right time?’ is absolutely the opposite of what you want it to be. Sometimes you have to change something you don’t anticipate. Sometimes you have to bite the damn bullet for a later payoff.

💡 Change Check-ins that helped during this time period:

  • Run the scenarios. What could your life look like if things go right with this change? What could it look like if things go to shit?
  • What do you need to put in place to do this in a way that won’t blow up everything?
  • Whether you are jumping into a new change or deciding the time is not right, how can you get support? Living in the tension of action, or inaction often requires support. So who or what in your life could provide that?

⏲️ When the time is right (to be strategic).

It took me nearly 2 years from the moment I realized my marriage was over to the moment I told my husband, “I want a divorce.” It took another 3 years for the final divorce judgment. And wooo, lemme tell ya I was embarrassed by that until I got a little older. Now I look back and think, damn girl, you’re smarter than you looked. 😂

The fear I had as a twenty-four-year-old who’d been with this man since I was thirteen was breathtaking. I’m amazed I survived the fear alone. He was almost five years older, a skilled salesman considered a freakin’ genius by everyone we knew, and only I knew how tortured and diabolical his mind was. I cowered when I thought of how he would outwit me in the divorce, what he might to do me or the kids, or even himself,  how my family would certainly be disappointed in me when they found out.

Fear ruled my decisions because I still lived under the delusion that if I just kept my head down and placated him everything would be okay. But deep down I knew that fear was well-founded. So, in a drawn-out way, it protected us.

Over those years, I pieced together the patchwork of myself, gathering scraps of the woman I’d never fully become because I became HIS when I was thirteen. Slowly, I took on freelance work. I made new friends. I worked out. I read books about money and overcoming fear. I opened my own bank account. I printed business cards and went to networking events. (And I also did destructive things like drink too much on my nights off.) By the time he moved out, I resembled an adult woman–one with a long way to go, but one that could pay her own bills and take care of her children.

If I had left him when I first realized I needed/wanted to, I would not have had a job, or a home, or enough self-worth to stand up to him.

To be clear, I am not saying women should stay with abusive partners. I’m just saying that in my case, I needed to set some things up for myself and my children in order to make that change. I couldn’t just go with what my heart wanted, I had to make do with baby steps toward my goal.

💡 Change Check-ins that helped during this time period:

  • Take some time to yourself so you can think clearly for yourself. Remove other folks’ “shoulds” from in your mind.
  • After you’ve run the scenarios, ask yourself what is realistically feasible/doable in terms of money, time, sanity, etc.
  • IF you decide that you don’t want to make the change now, is there some way you can still continue to pursue it or keep a pin in it to revisit when X or Y changes? Consider putting a deadline or a condition upon it. Maybe that will help you hold on to something you want but simply cannot have right now.

⏲️ When the time is right.

Other times, you know it’s time to make that change NOW but you don’t want to…or you’re seriously conflicted.

When this pandemic hit, I felt an almost immediate call to go north. I‘ve lived in Southern California for nearly twenty years, but I was born in NorCal. For those of you who don’t live around these parts, these two places often feel like entirely different states to Californians.

I had lived in the city of Long Beach and it felt like home. But the pandemic changed my beloved downtown into a ghost town with an ever-growing sense of fear, homelessness, and feces-spotted sidewalks. I know I don’t even have to describe the stress of quarantining in a tiny apartment. Those early days of the pandemic carried a lot more fear. So I did something I never, I am talking NEVER thought I’d do. I moved back to NorCal. Though I was conflicted over leaving my friends, my network, and everything I’d built in SoCal, I knew deep down that it was time. When I signed the lease at our new place (which is like 200% better than our apartment btw) I felt a heady rush of wild inner alignment. This country home is a huge factor in maintaining my sanity and being able to do the work I feel called to do. You can’t be of much help to others if you’re not living in alignment with your own self.

💡 Change Check-ins that helped during this time period:

  • If you’re feeling conflicted, pay attention to how your body feels when you consider options. Your body knows how you really feel, even when your head doesn’t. I knew it was time to move north when I felt a liquid-like peace fall over me when thinking about it.
  • Be realistic about how this change may cause side effects or temporary states of angst, depression, and overwhelm. Give yourself the grace to work through it. Positive change often means growth which isn’t always 100% pretty.

I hope these stories have been of use. Maybe they’ll even help you figure out what’s right for you now.

Whatever you decide in your life, I wish you peace, fulfillment, and so much goodness. Trust that you will know what’s best for you.

In the next post, I’ll be exploring the ideas of acceptance and adaptation and how sometimes conventional self-help advice can be bullshit. 🤣💃 Check out Part 3: The Biggest Lie of the Self-Help Industry

There’s an embarrassing story about me that lives on in our family lore. It’s a story that always elicits laughter and sometimes a raised eyebrow. Forgive me if I’ve told you before. 🤓

But before I get into it, let me take you back to something that happened before.

About 6 Months Before IT Happened

Without naming names, I was both awestruck by the sheer bullshit💩 and psychological manipulation🔮 going on at this 3-day event – and the amount of money that the hundreds of people in attendance paid to be there. As I sat there watching, I realized I could do this. Like, I could become a speaker and teach people business and marketing skills but sans fake, manipulative crap. I could be the No-Bullshit Business Bitch.

Seriously, I went home later feeling like speaking and teaching with authenticity and humility could actually be a part of my calling. But of course, like many seedlings of dreams do, the idea scared the shit out of me and I knew I wasn’t ready yet. So aside from some cursory internet searches and fantasizing about my future, I didn’t do much in pursuit of this career path. 🤷‍♀️

Fast forward 6 Months

About 6 months later, the economy is limping and I lose 90% of my client work within a few months. 🤯 I’m desperately applying for jobs in my field and getting nowhere. I bite the bullet and take a job at Trader Joe’s making $11/hour. Not only does the income not even come close to supporting me and my kids, but I feel buried in shame because my identity was so tied into me being an entrepreneur.

So two nights before we’re to move out of our apartment and into a 10×10 bedroom in my mom’s 2-bedroom apartment (with mom, her husband, and a 100 lb. German Shepherd), I feel a scratch in my throat. I can not miss work, so I get up in the middle of the night and feel my way to the bathroom where I pop a couple of chewable Airborne into my mouth. As I bump along down the hallway I trip over a garbage bag full of clothes. In the pitch dark, I feel my head bounce off the edge of the dresser teeth first. Stars are theonly thing I can see now.

I turn back and fumble my way to the bathroom where I spit out the chewable Airborne into my hand and find my front tooth mixed with half-chewed tablets. In my bathroom mirror, I see the strawberry blond halo of my frizzy curly bedhead and a gaping hole where my front tooth was sheared off at my gum line.😩

This begins a thought spiral: I look like a homeless drug addict.* I’ll never find a man now. I’m a failure in every possible way. Clearly, I was in a real good place mentally back then. So like any true wise woman, I begin to speak my truth out loud.

“I look like a crack whore!” I wail.

It’s probably 3 AM and my twelve-year-old son and ten-year-old daughter wake up to their mom sobbing on the bathroom floor and wailing about being a crack whore whose life is basically over.

👉 Pro Tip: These are the exact kind of memories you want to be emblazoned on your children’s psyches. 👈

So, what’s my damn point here? Why am I telling you another wild (though hilarious) story of loss? Because though I didn’t know it then, the Universe, or God, or whatever you want to call it was basically setting me on a collision course with my life’s mission which is, in essence: to get my shit together and then help other women get their shit together. (FYI, I don’t know if any of us actually get ALL our shit together ever, but you get the idea.)

Looking back, I now see that I had to have the rug ripped out from under me to shock me into changing my path. To begin setting me on the course to living more purposefully. In the end, even though there was a whole saga with insurance, and money, shame, and whatever, 8 months later I finally got new front teeth. Ones that ended up being better than the originals. And as it turns out, a man did actually still love me and help take care of me and my kids while I went back to school, etc. for a few years. But that’s also not the point.

👉 So here’s my theory: I think we’re at a massive moment of collective hurt and grief, but also of having our eyes pried open to both the tragic realities of our American life and to catalyze us all to step into our purposes.

At the end of 2019, I thought 2020 was a nice metaphor for having the clarity to act upon what we’d learned in years before. I was ready to step up in a big way. This was the year! 👀 Now I see that 2020 is giving us the clear-eyed view of reality and just what’s at stake if we don’t step the fuck up and live our lives to the fullest.

Right now we are tripping over the bullshit we’ve allowed to happen, we’re banging our teeth on the dresser of consequences, and we’re wailing on the floor of the bathroom mired in the pain of everything we have lost.

What happens next is up to us. Will we change our behaviors to save the planet, our children, the poor, the marginalized, our communities, ourselves? I’m willing to bet you’re one of the good ones. You’re feeling this too.

Before this makes you more overwhelmed with EVERYTHING, hold on. I will tell you something else I know from experience, the best way for you to begin helping THE WORLD is to work on healing and empowering yourself.

You have this dream, or mission, or purpose nagging at your for a reason. You were born for this. It’s your duty to figure out what “it” is.

One gift of discomfort, loss, hurt, and grief is clarity. Listen to yourself. What are the things that break your heart? What are the issues that you keep circling back to?

For now, all I ask is that you listen. Stop pushing away this thing you feel drawn to do and just take a little time to sit with these ideas. Maybe write down your thoughts.

There’s no impetus to act on this immediately. Just consider it. Imagine the possibility that life could be really good for you (and more of us) in this AFTER time. Consider that this massive pain and loss may be a clarion call for all of us to fully actualize, to pursue those callings we’ve been muffling for years.

But wait, there’s more.

👉 Over the next few weeks, I’ll be further exploring these ideas and more in a series of weekly emails about these changes we’re experiencing and how to use them as power instead of paralysis in our lives.

Next week, I’ll talk about timing, and how to know when the time is right to take action on changes, or whether it’s better to hunker down for a while. I’ll share a couple of stories from my life where I took different approaches in the hopes it will help you find your own clarity. Then the following week, I’ll explore the idea of adaptation as well as some of the lies of the self-development industry. After that, I’ll discuss how to get clear on what you want and then what kind of support you may need for your journey.


*P.S. To be clear, I truly don’t want to discriminate against those who struggle with drugs, are homeless, or are sex workers. I have a lot of empathy for them. What I shared was a moment of weakness and vanity, and I hope you understand I share it precisely because it was such a ridiculous reaction on my part and only to poke fun at myself.

This post is part of the Power of Change series (originally an email series, but now here on the blog). To read the next post in the series, click here.

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