Possibility

Vacuum lines on the carpet.

How good are the vacuum lines on the carpet? When Chris and I moved into our Denver bungalow, we entered a new status of home living, one that has stairs! Moving from our tiny shack of an apartment in Venice Beach, this was a huge promotion. Now, off the side of our kitchen there is a carpeted stairway to a carpeted basement decorated with Blackhawks everything, books and maps, my husband's very own man cave.

So we have carpet now.

And in the first six months of this transition, we had one of those hand held vacuum things, I believe we called them dustbusters back in our day, remember? Tiny little things. I would pretend run it over the stairs and in the basement at an attempted clean up. A delayed apology for all guests that slept down there after I had "cleaned".

However, thanks to the magic of a wedding registry, we got a shiny new vacuum, enhanced for those that are pet owners. No joke, this thing is a monster with like vacuum teeth, a visible canister so you can see all the fur and a detachable cord things that honestly, I do not know how to detach.

So we have a vacuum now.

And let me tell you, there is something about those vacuum lines after a good sweep session. You know, the lines in the carpet that say, 'hey girl, good job with that vacuuming'. Note: I should absolutely name my vacuum Ryan Gosling.

So in attempt to feel accomplished around 9am this morning, I went down and turned on the vacuum and did a few swipes.  And then a few more.  And then the entire basement.  And I rolled the vacuum back in the closet area and I stepped back out and I looked at my 'hard' work.

And now I sit here and contemplate, what is the thrill here?  Why do the lines matter?

There is something about order in the process. Like coloring within the lines.

Or perhaps a sense of accomplishment.

Or even a visible note so that your husband can see that you can clean, too.

As a result oriented human being (that's me) who likes to actually see the fruits of her labor, this is where I believe carpet lines and success can get tricky. Do I (we) continue to measure with a number in the bank account?  Do I (we) measure with checks off of the To-Do List? Do I (we) measure with stars on a Yelp review, good grades on a paper or gold stars on a chart?

If so, then I ask you, how can we balance this success measuring act by including happiness experienced, joy felt and passion pursued - when sometimes those are not so visible, record-able and/or easy to see.

Smile lines, perhaps? High fives? Stomach butterflies?

Where/How/When do we keep count of these?

Deep questions. I want your answers.

Photo Cred:  Brian's Carpet Care Service

 

 

I lost my sunglasses.

There is a woman at the local Denver Farmer's Market who sells spicy kimchi at her booth on Sundays. I wait in line, taste each one over again (even though I have tried them all!) and pick a different flavor per week. She always recognizes me and says hi, asks how Chris and I have been? The pups? She is really lovely and has amazing skin. On a recent booth visit, she shared that she always recognizes me because of my sunglasses, they are always a statement piece. Big and loud. It is true, I have a large face. Thus, the sunglasses are usually extra large, somewhat audacious and paired with a trucker hat on Sundays.

I was thinking about this fashion choice in a chill yin yoga class. Because honestly, in yin yoga you hold poses for like three minutes and think and try not to think and then you think about how you are trying not to think. Oh, and you breathe.

Going through my mind were some of the outrageous types of shades I have worn in my youth. Grandma style glasses, aviator style, dip dyed looking frames, or baby blue ones in high school. And then I remembered the pair I took to Africa on my imagine1day trip, a large, oversized look with tortoise shell style frames. I thought they paired well with my REI adventure hat I had purchased pre-trip.

I had those sunglasses for the first 2 days on the 17 day trip. I lost them at our first stop of many stops. I must have left them at the breakfast table or they were hidden somewhere in my shared room. Neither here nor there, I lost them. And the sun is no joke in Africa.

For the first couple of days, I felt totally naked. Almost vulnerable. And super squinty. I had trained my eyes to be outdoors with provided shades of lenses and there was a transition there. Also to mention, we visited developing schools and I was joy-crying the first time we pulled up to the community, and in the school, and dancing with the community, and again when singing with the community.  Oh wait and again when we celebrated un-birthdays. Oh, you don't know what an un-birthday is? On the imagine1day trips to Ethiopia, you literally celebrate someone every single day and call it their un-birthday and send them love, share with them their gifts and you know, blessings. Oh my stars, I cried the entire time for my own un-birthday AND everyone else's. And, I realized I did not have my sunglasses to hide behind. Ever.

And for the rest of the trip, I experienced everything pure of form, pure of color, pure of interaction.

No blocks.

No hiding.

No shade.

When I think about my time there, I feel connection now, still. A deeper connection. I remember everyone's name. I have friendships that I schedule late night SKYPE conversations for and a local USA heartbeat I text on the regular. I check Facebook messages for cross country hello's and birthdays. I send email updates with my wedding pictures to my African friends to share in the joy and I intentionally ask about their kiddos and the organization.

The connection was really real.  Almost raw.

In coming home, especially from a big trip like Africa, you have to let the content, the people, and the experience truly marinate. I don't think I was super clear on all that I had gained from the trip when landing back to the USA and to be honest, I believe I will keep learning as time goes on.

What I do know now is that I had essentially removed the (physical and metaphorical) protection that hides my tears when people move me with joy or sadness. I let them see. I removed the shade (metaphorical darkness I will ever so gently call judgement) so I could truly experience the humanness of people, nature and myself. I made way more eye contact. I let myself be seen.

It all had to be ... because I lost my sunglasses.

Photo Cred: Curtiss Conrad

 

 

 

I bless the rains down in Africa - said Toto and now, Jacki Carr

I have no idea how to even start writing this post. How to share with you the experience of being away with Imagine1Day in Ethiopia, Africa for over two weeks engaging with communities, loving the locals, visiting the children in classrooms we helped raise funds for, developing leaders with Susanne Conrad and the igolu content and crying, a lot of crying. And no, I was not crying because it was sad, because it was third world or because I had travel diarrhea (seriously). I cried for the experience that was so beautiful, the magic of human connection that happens anywhere and the ability to be in and of service.

As I know the learnings and experience will continue to unfold and these blogs will burst out of me at any moment and this will not be the only one I share about this trip, I have put together top of mind topics, heart moments and notes that come to mind when I think back and smile about Africa.  Here I go:

1) Hugging is Universal.  And smiling.  And high fiving.

2) I often times might forget the beauty in true human connection when I sit so much behind this computer screen connected to wifi and what I think are humans on the 'other side' of it all.  However, in Ethiopia, especially the rural areas, there are no computers, cell phones or wifi. You make eye contact and you hold hands and you dance with your elbows and shoulders (mostly).  It is truly magic.

2a) Hold hands more.

3) Language barriers means you have to listen closer.  Listen closer to the body, the facial expressions, the tangled English or follow the pointing direction. In the most radical way, there is always communication. Always.

3a) People notice when you listen closer.  And then they tell you thank you from the bottom of their heart with their hand placed on their chests and they tell you, I love you. Again, truly magic.

4) To be seen as who you truly are is a gift. I truly felt connected and aligned to myself fully there. And when you do that, people take note. Like my friend Amaha, who said I reminded him of Queen Latifah and that I should be a famous actress.  My other friend Teddy, who said there was a reminder of Mariah Carey he recognized in me.  Honesty, I am just going to call a spade a spade, I was winning in Ethiopia. The queen? Mariah (circa the Christmas album I am hoping)? Go to Africa immediately, everyone. And to be real, there was more. My (new which felt old) friends said they loved me like a sister, they asked me to come back, to send wedding pictures and visit again with my (future) husband. Be seen.

5) Let's talk blessings.  Every community we visited, the Elders would conduct a prayer or blessing upon our group.  They would wish well for us, share gratitude, make us coffee and serve this insane homemade bread with local honey.  One elder prayed that we live longer than him, he is 98!  I realize the culture of gratitude and I want to make a note to send blessings to my loved ones, friends and strangers much, much more. (I just did it, did you feel it?)

6) There really are rains in Africa, just like the song.  Every day around 1:30pm, the rain would fall.  Not just any regular rain, I am talking full on thunder crackle and lightning.

7) I wondered if all my friends I made in Ethiopia had an iPhone or a camera, would they take pictures of me? At times, I felt a sense of overwhelm with taking pictures. I wondered if this was allowed or even rude? I mean, how weird to take pictures of people you don't know their name yet, no? I believe I had a weird juxtaposition of being in the moment and capturing the moment. My dear friend Lyndsey Fryer reminded me to not take my camera every day, I loved this advice. I say, there is so much more to remember in a handshake over a snap of an image.  And yes of course, I still took photos, too.

8) I think there were moments, I mean, I know there were moments where I was trying to rush my thought process.  What am I getting out of this? Is my life changing at this very moment? What is the lesson here? Why don't you feel more sad when you pass that home and it has a dirt floor? Did you remember to throw the toilet paper in the trash bin, not the toilet? Did you capture that image of that one fox? What about the warthog?  Do you feel different?  I mean, can you imagine living in that headspace?  My friend, Mary Anna reminded me to be in the moment and perhaps that is the lesson.  My friend Chantey told me that sometimes, the body arrives home before the soul.  Allow space. And I will continue to do that, as I sit calmly and breathe deeper at home in my Denver home, I know now the unfolding will actually be a forever process.

9) Oddly, in the South region of Ethiopia, my mental alarm clock woke up every morning at 5am and told me to do  yoga. I would unroll my  mat in the dark, slip my headphones in my ears to awaken my muscles with Alexi Murdoch and movement. I have never done that in my entire life. It served me well.  Listen to the body, get up when she says get up. Move when she says move.

10) Clothes don't matter. I was just reading an article in Fast Company today about how we are all branded, the shoes we have on and the brands we wear do matter.  But on my trip to Ethiopia, they didn't. Period.

11) Get the prescription for travel diarrhea. Really, do.

11a) And on that note, careful with all the all-natural remedies your friends packed. I took some dandelion root pill that got me in trouble. And then some friend gave me some bovine bone liquid thing and another offered me some charcoal, everyone wants to help. And, you can say no way, Jose.

12) In all honesty, I was scared boarding the plane from DC to Addis Ababa. Media creates a message, and I believed it. I had thoughts in my mind, government articles I had read on repeat, different family voices and facebook messages of people praying for me that made me nervous. I am not naive and I was very safe and taken care of with the Imagine1Day organization. And truthfully, I never once felt unsafe. Not once.

14) I saw the Lucy exhibit in Addis Ababa and one of our trip group leaders shared her beautiful thoughts on being in the birthplace of humanity and how we are all truly African. I thought on this for hours and my mind was blown.  Wow, we are all truly African. Think about it, and then go feel the connection as a human being. It is real.

15) Education is a global matter, not country by country. Be a cause in the matter.

16) We would be driving along the rural roads for hours visiting different schools in different villages. Along the roads there were shepherds with their donkeys or cattle, children walking around or women walking together from here to there. Their faces full of inquiry as the Land Rovers passed by. Some times, the resting faces looked mad (to me). I immediately went to this space of self-conscious and writing stories that I shouldn't be here, oh they hate me...and then, I would wave to say hi from my window. The roadside strangers' faces would light up, smile and wave back almost instantaneously. A simple hello can shift an entire face, an entire connection, an entire story you might already be writing.  Say hi. And consider what your resting face might look like, too.

17) My sweet Dad. Any time we had wifi in our lodge or hotel, I would text the Daddy-o a picture or SKYPE to say hi. He was so beyond grateful for the call and I could actually feel him breathe easier knowing I was okay. While I tried to stay committed to being unplugged, calling Dad was top priority every time there was a connection. I love that I could feel his soul breathe for me in Africa. I tear up thinking about family love, it is so powerful. Thanks for loving me so much and letting me fly, Dad.

18) I could have never done this alone. I thought often of all the people who donated yoga classes, time, energy and money to support my fundraising efforts. It took a village to meet that goal and to be honest, I feel it was a miracle and a true testament of coming together to make something truly big happen.  And we met that goal, we raised the funds to build a school in the Dello Mena district!  Construction to be complete by September 2015.  WOW. So much of my life I have tried to prove and force that I could do it "all by myself".  I realize now, I never have done it truly alone, ever. Thank God.

19) When you say yes, go all in. I am talking 100%.

20) Of all the things I could have purchased, I bought African dresses to wear when I am pregnant with our first child. Isn't that so fun? I love that my heart was so ready to rock my future vision.

21) While I know this list is in no particular order and I hope you got this far because this is important. The song that played on repeat in my head the entire trip was Steve Winwood's "Higher Love" song. I hummed the chorus over and over again. If you don't know, I am actually getting married in 24 days. Leaving for Africa and returning home exactly one month to our wedding day was a pretty gnarly (and big) decision. My man, Mister Chris Hynes was all in when I shared that I wanted to do this trip, this year, right now. He was supportive, loving and just as curious as I was at how this trip would not only transform me but could also transform us. He is my higher love. My true understanding of partnership that makes you a better individual, my lesson in patience every single day and my ability to wake up in choice and choose him and him choose me, every single day. Give me a higher love...I got one.

22) Transformational leadership is possible, even with a translator on a microphone during a gnarly rain storm. Seeing my teacher, Susanne Conrad in action leading the igolu intensive to/for the Ethiopian leaders about to be igolu certified was exactly as it states, intense. Intense in the way that you can feel a paradigm shift actually happening and you are a part of it, you are in it. You shift, too. I was honored to be in the work with her, honored to facilitate small group breakout sessions with other igolu leaders, and honored to be in creation of a new possibility for Ethiopia and the World.

23) Go to Africa!

EthipiaLove.Kids

imagiNATION | Thank You

 

imagiNationlogo

I was speaking with Sapna Dayal, Executive Director of Imagine1Day over Skype in January of this year.  I had been playing with the idea of joining their next April service trip since this past November. I remember getting really honest and telling her that the dollar amount to raise really scared me, scared me to a point of a major lean to ‘no’.  Yet, something in me knew this was the time, this was the trip, this was the challenge and service space for me right now.

She was understanding and somewhat curt.  I wonder how many maybe’s she deals with on a regular basis. With a commitment to build schools and leadership training in a country ready to make it all possible, who really has time for maybe?

She sent me a few tools to consider and told me this:  “I can only offer my full support when you are a 100% yes. Then and only then can we do this, and I know we can. I absolutely believe in you".

I needed more time and I told her I would call her back in three days.

And three days later on January 29, I said in the subject line of an email, “”Ethiopia, here I come”. I pressed the send button on a full yes and she sent me about 28 pages of PDF’s and we set up a recurring call for every Friday until my departure date.

Support switch, flipped on.

There is something about going all in.  Something so beautiful about the 100%. It is the exact opposite of that gray area, say when you are dating?  Like, are we together, is he my boyfriend, are we seeing other people, is there a title?  What does hanging out really mean, as you ask your best friend, “can I text him again or does that seem stalker?”  Remember, ugh I do.  It was always a love/hate relationship with all the drama of the gray matter.

I digress.

So I went all in. Black and white, I said yes. I write to you from a chair in the sky on a plane on my first leg of the trip from Denver to DC, then DC to Addis Ababa.  It is happening, we really are going to Ethiopia. Right now.

I still scratch my head wondering how this happened?

Is this real?

It is. I just pulled my arm hair and it hurt.

I remember all of my first round of ideas on how to raise the money to support my trip. NOTE: The total fundraising amount is $7145.00 and then on top of that there is 3,000.00 in fees to pay for your actual trip and then an airline ticket from North America >>> Africa.  Do you see how the money panic might have started to build?

Some of my ideation: I thought of a podcast I would create but then I found out you really cannot charge for them and I tried to record a couple, not good.  Even before that I started to ideate about launching a one woman show starring me called ‘Self Help Me’.  Still have the draft written, no dice on when I will hit the big stage. Then I played with an Instagram challenge of sorts with sharing what you imagine but I could not figure out the give back element.  And by give back I mean the asking for money part.

And then I went for it asked for help. I called in the champions of heartbeats that are the Writer and recent Africa resident, Lyndsey Fryer and all time supportive gay best friend award winner every year running since 2008, Mr. Matt Hoglund.

We came up with a sweat campaign to the masses, with a social media element and high vibration. The idea to sweat for a cause across the states to build a school together.  It came together.  We would call it imagiNATION: United we Sweat.  I would ask all my instructor friends in any and every state if they would be so willing to join in and donate one of their classes to raising awareness of the organization's mission, to building a school and to developing leaders in Ethiopia with me.

Fryer edited (absolute tore apart in the best way) my campaign letter to call in action and immediate connection.  Matt provided support with social media creation and calming energy man.  My graphic design mastermind Cait Wharton donated her time to create a custom logo to share and make it visible. My sweet fiancé hugged me often when I felt overwhelmed and told me again and again that he believed in me. 

There is an African Proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child.”.  Well, it took a village to (fund)raise this miracle and make it happen in three month's time.  A badass village of gamechangers.

So we launched.  And there were deadlines and Fryer cracked the whip via email and Matt supported while I was in Mexico for a week at a crucial time. And the teachers, they said yes and yes and yes. A no here and there and one major scoff at my attempt to reach out blind, lesson learned, connections for the win.  And we made support documents; we made donation links, a facebook group for communication and we sent out emails to follow up (probably to the point of annoying, thank you for still loving me).

And the week of March 23, we came together across the states to sweat in yoga, dance, barre and bootcamp. You guys, I am talking from Little Rock to Austin to Saratoga, to Jacksonville, all sweating.  Add in Harlem, Cleveland, LA, Santa Fe, Baltimore, Boston and Salt Lake City to name a few more, we really created a sweat vibration in this nation.

Together, we sweat with purpose.  Together, we donated funds to build a school in Ethiopia. Together, we surpassed that fundraising goal and I am on this plane. Right now!

So you know, yes, I am going to list out all of the amazing human beings that got me here.  Yes, I am going to do it, right now. Take a moment to scroll down, this is what humanity, love and support for something bigger than ourselves looks like.  I am honored, so honored to know these amazing human beings, to learn from them and take them with me to Africa today.

Thank you beyond.

Thank you Malia Scott and Blake Hall for saying yes in ATX. Thank you Vanessa Faye Cook for getting salty in Salt Lake City, UT.  Thank you Mary Beth LaRue, Jay Co, Sarah Ezrin, Lauren Cohen, Susanne Conrad and Desiree Bartlett for rocking my CA heartbeats.  Thank you Mary Clare Sweet and Hannah Hauser in Omaha.  Gratitude major to my girl Stacey Faught in Little Rock, AK.  Wow.  Thank you Erin Thomas for bringing the house down in our old stomping grounds in Bloomington, IN.  Thank you Kristin Rhoads for creating a week to Imagine in Minooka, IL. I cannot wait to one day create a vision candle with you. Thank you LA Finnfinger for bringing it from your new hood in Baltimore, MD.  And Jennifer Ferris-Glick, so much love for Blissburgh, PA.  Liz Hay, you beautiful human, thank you for the barre class and goals love with lululemon. Boston  And Amy Basha Conetsco and Kristen Shick, you both know how I feel about you, that lululemon store and the CLE.  Speaking of Ohio, seriously Anjua and Zosimo Maximo made me cry in front of strangers in Akron.  The space for me to feel, I am grateful for you both and the dynamic duo of Nick Brilla and Ally Grubba Sarita Moore donating the dance moves in Harlem, I adore you.  And hot damn, Jill Bartine representing w/ the likes of Caroline Stilwell Burckle, thank you, Knoxville, TN.  Sharon Prothe, special place in my heart  leading the sweat with your tribe over there in Kansas City.  Cathy Krouse, honored to be part of your new clinic opening in Maine with a donation yoga class to support the imagiNATION.  Truly honored. Toni, Toni, Toni Hernandez, the love felt from Big Fish Yoga in Jacksonville, FL – you all know I packed my new long sleeve to rock in Ethiopia. Thank you.  Brittany Wallwrath + Gina Ward, thanks for being a stand in Cherry Hill, New Jersey! Irene Minster, you rocked it with lululemon Albuquerque, NM.  On my list to come visit soon and thank you!  Rachel McDonald and Alexandria Pulfer, thank you for the love in Fayetville, AR!  Laura Mary Flynn, oh how I wanted to fly to flow with you on Magic Island in Hawaii, thank you for bringing the aloha love.  Laura Hand, bringing the love from Tokyo, where do I count the ways I heart you?  And Steph Corker, big love via spin bikes in Vancouver.  Thank you rad friend. Birmingham love and sweet tea cheers to Hilary Koenig at Samford University! In my new state, thank you Christen Bakken for being a powerhouse heart in the matter in Denver, CO! Nick Bez, you radical human, thank you for the love from one of my fav cities, Minneapolis, MN!  Angela Williams Jones, I see you and I feel the love!  Thank you for brining it to Huntington, NY! Lori Mancini and Deb Valois, you both showed up in Greenwich, RI and I am so grateful for you and that Jess Cummings! Shout out to South Dakota heart, Jenn Long for bringing on the YogaSlam jam to give back! Natasha Roggi, thank you for rocking it from Hartford, Connecticut with Alexa Itkin and the lululemon crew! Robin Lang, feeling the love from Virginia Beach, VA, so happy you teamed up with Kaitlyn Hiltz and lululemon.  Thank you! Rosalyn Young, happy belated birthday and thank you for representing with the Wyoming yogis in Saratoga.  So much heart.  And Kathy Sell Smith, you rock my yoga love in Durham NC. Thank you. To my future husband, Chris Hynes, thank you for offering a 2 week donation based sweat fest to a group of rad humans. I love you. I love you all.

To my creatives that partnered with me on rad collaborations, Keri Rowe, Jess Robson and Pei Sim.  Thank you for offering up your talents to support me. I could not have done it without you.

Lynds, Matty, Cait and my rock, Chris Hynes, thank you. Thank you for loving me, goaling me and moving me into action. You metaphorically peeled me out of bed to make this dream a reality.  Thank you.

Wow.

Just wow.

I am moved and I have not even landed in Africa yet. What I have learned thus far is be a 100% all in yes if you are going to say yes, let people believe in you and hear them when they say it, ask for support and lean on the village, hug when needed, say thank you, push your limits and believe in humanity.  Now.

Okay. I am off to Africa. I am doing it. Here I go...

 

The tidal wave and an index card.

I remember sitting in the back of my teacher's Santa Monica home. There were binders of knowledge that lined the walls in the floor to ceiling book shelves, some larger rocks that I now know were Rose Quartz crystals and oil blends behind her. There were two large chairs adjacent to one another with a small circular coffee table near the sliding glass doors. You remember the details when it is emotional. The space was simple, my mind was not.

As I sat down in my chair, I could already feel the tension rising. I was in my early 20s, I am going to say 24 to be exact. I had pedalled my heavy Navy Blue beach cruiser with a basket up the hill to her house and I wore a lite grey hoodie over my tank top to cover the stress break out on my back. Acne in my 20s was not in the plans (hell, even my 30s). Whose plans is it ever really? In this life phase, I went to two fitness classes a day, yet I was holding weight. I am tall, so it pretty much evenly distributed. But I felt puffy and I was working for a spandex company. Life is funny that way. I was uncomfortable in my own skin about 11.5 hours each day. So, needless to say I was sweating, anxious and overwhelmed in the present moment and well, in every moment.

We sat.

She smiled and took a deep breath for both of us. She looked at me and asks how things are. I remember clenching my teeth to try to talk surface level small talk. I rehearse in my head, I am not going to cry over and over again. I talk about the bike ride over, the current work situation and the weather. When anyone talks about the weather, it is always a distraction. Always.

She listened.

Asked again, how are you?

And so, I cried.

But not a normal cry. I cried one of those tidal wave cries where your chest heaves and your heart caves and your soul can finally breathe through all the bullshit walls you placed around it. Tears streamed. I sweat even more, keeping that damn gray hoodie on. And I told her that I feel like I am really good at pretending to keep it together on the outside and put up this great front but the inside feels like a storm in the ocean that keeps crashing down on me.

Life note to share, even when you think you are really good at pretending you have it together, you are not. Repeat, you are not. Everyone knows and they will tell you later.  

In this moment in my life, the credit card company was calling. You know when they call you at odd hours, like 2:17pm and then again at 6:03pm and then again at 1:17am and then again the next morning right when you wake up at 7:27am. I was pressing ignore. Bad move, don't do that. You read the aforementioned confusion with the body weight and excessive fitness classes. To be real, I pretty much ate rice cakes and peanut butter every single day. Oh, and LUNA bars. They would drop them off at the store I worked at. I remember eating 12 of the lemon mini ones in one afternoon. No bueno. And then there was the back and forth with my ex-boyfriend. We make out. Then he is dating someone else. I meet someone. I call ex-boyfriend again, just in case. And all the while I have an apartment overlooking the Pacific Ocean, an accent wall painted neon lime green and I am living with my best friend. The Navy Blue beach cruiser and you know, the rice cakes. It is like the extremes of dream life meets what the F.

It is a blur really. A very detailed, emotional, chaotic blur.

Do you know what I mean?

About the blur?

In the midst of tears and blur focusing, I talked it out. I talked about money. I talked about wanting a promotion or potentially leaving my job altogether. Again with the extremes. I talked about my family. I talked more about money. I talked about boys, but not too much, that would have needed another arm chair session altogether. I talked about not being able to handle my own emotions and secretly crying in the bathtub, often. I talked about how I see it all working out, more so demanding out loud to anyone that would listen that it is my way or the highway with this future. Like when you set a vision for the future more as an escape from your present reality versus an inspired space you truly see for yourself in 5-10 years. (I know there are some lightbulbs that just went off there, I feel you).

Confession: I enjoy being somewhat in control, an unorganized control, if you will. And in this moment, I was so out of control. And when I am out of control, my ego steps in to prove to everyone that though you might think I am out of control, I am in control, okay? Let me list all the ways that I got my shit done and that I can go to yoga and run the stairs, and that we made goal today at work and that I can put that beer on my credit card. See! Starving for validation, I was.

Wow. I feel exhausted writing that. And sad. And honest. And real.

Looking back now, I did not have the resources to pull myself into alignment - whether it be the literal resources like financial or the more metaphysical resources like a spiritual practice or a toolkit of life practices to lean on (yes, I have these now and oh how I lean). I didn't have them.

Which makes me really get that quote, "we are all just walking each other home".

Wow.

This amazing woman, my teacher, she sat, offered a kleenex here and there, patted my hand at times and offered knowledge. I don't remember much of what she said now. I wish I did, I am sure it was solid gold brilliance. However, I remember some weird drops she had me take. And I remember the question she asked me to consider, she asked if I could get into the practice of asking myself each morning, "What do you want to receive today?".  Like go ask the World, go ask the Universe, go ask your morning, go ahead and ask yourself.

She wrote it on an index card with another sentence about peace.  And our session ended.

I left her house feeling lighter, heaving sobs will do that to a 24 year old tidal wave of a human. I took the card and I took the notes and I took her listening and knowledge bombs and I practiced. I practiced receiving, I opened my eyes to other ways - be it ways to make money, ways to chill the fuck out, ways to stop avoiding and pick up the damn phone and answer the Credit Card caller and ask for help (cue anxiety, sweat, back break out), ways to receive truly....

And some days I failed. Let's be real, I did not go home and call the Credit Card company that day. And there were quite a few Fridays, maybe a Tuesday and a few Wednesday where I forgot to ask.

Yet I realize now the power in this question. The power in receiving versus forcing the same pattern you have been living day in and day out. Like a broken record, I had been trapped in this story, idea, declared reality that I am not good enough, I will never be good enough, I will never make money, it will always be hard and girl, you better hustle.

Literally, girl you better hustle. Over and over again.

The other phrase above the index card read "I constantly receive inner peace".

Shit.

What is inner peace?  I literally did not know.

To be honest, still searching. In my view, it is a daily search and daily find. Different every time.

Two sentences.  One index card.

You should know, I still have the index card taped inside my bathroom mirror today. I almost wonder if it is the same tape, how crazy would that be? I am talking 4 California apartments, 1 Chicago loft and 1 Colorado house, this index card has travelled.

And now I share it with you.

What can you be open to receiving today?  Remove the blinders, get in inquiry and open up to the possibilities you have literally been blocking with your old thought patterns. Try this: write down the story that is holding a little too tight and then if I were, I would rip it up or even burn it. Oh yes, I am talking set it ablaze.

Then go out there. Be open to receiving. And go see what it is. Something new, different, creative, way out there.

What do you want to receive today?

Susanne.Age26JackiCarr

 

 

 

Meet the (goal)Maker: Jess Robson

JRob

(goal)Makers are incredible human beings making magic happen. With a radical vision and huge goals, they put themselves out there to be seen, to create, and to share their unique gifts with the World. I honor the action of making it happen, where willpower meets movement and the goal vibration is felt.

Meet Jess Robson.

I want to be straight about something with you, Jess Robson (better known in my mind as 'JRob') has dance moves that are out of this world and a smile for days. Her passion is intoxicating and you get drunk on wanderlust just talking with her. She oozes creative talents and has started her own entrepreneurial adventure in the land of copywriting, leadership and art. I am honored to be collaborating with her on an imagination art piece found here for my trip this month to Ethiopia with imagine1day.  Read on and get ready to want to be best friends.

I'm Jess Robson. I'm a prairie girl born and raised, now living (and exceptionally in love with) life on the West Coast of Canada. I have a crazy annoying love of peanut butter, am afflicted by wanderlust, never wear matching bathing suits and look for every opportunity to connect with and create opportunities for community everywhere I go.

Tell us about what you do: I am a creative entrepreneur who spends her days immersed in the world of words. I help other entrepreneurs, small businesses and larger organizations bring their business or culture to life through language, building everything from website copy through to leadership development and culture-centric training programs. I've also got a passion for creating with my hands; I can't get enough of making letters look lovely and painting and penning quotes that make my heart burst.

Who was your crush at age 14: Ashton Kutcher in That 70s Show. T-shirts just a bit too tight and shorts just a bit too short. What a heart throb.

What goal are you living that makes your palms sweat? I am self employed. Taking the leap into being my very own boss and responsible for making sure there's dollars in my bank account every month STILL makes my palms sweat and my heart pound, and I've been at it for over 18 months now. All that considered, the sense of adventure, the invigorating drive to connect + build working relationships and the freedom that I get to experience in my laptop-fueled-lifestyle is 100% worth the pounding heart and super sweaty palms.

Most recent failure and what did you learn from it? I recently fumbled/stumbled my way through a meaningful conversation with someone close to me, and left a not great impact on them. It reminded me that in all the work that I do around powerful, intentional language, that I still (and always will) have so much to learn about communicating what I need in a compassionate and collaborative way that makes the other person feel as respected and heard as I want to in big, scary or 'hard' conversations. #studentforlife

What is your spirit animal and why? Great question. Two answers: 1) Human Spirit Animal: Bette Midler. She's a chameleon, has an insane set of pipes, a roaring sense of humour and from wat I can see, has some serious self-knowing that is utterly admirable. 2) Animal Spirit Animal: Eagle. No, I don't know that for sure AND they live by water and in West Coast Native tradition are seen as birds of peace. Their size and grace always stun me and I feel insanely inspired and connected to them whenever I see them here on the coast.

How do you take your coffee or tea? High maintenance or simple and sweet? A month ago I would have said coffee - the stronger the better, straight up - nothing added. Then I realized that java was turning into the only liquid I was consuming....so I am now making a conscious effort to amp up my herbal tea ingestion to balance out all that caffeine.

What are your thoughts on men with beards? And flannel? Yes. All yes. Beards on the boy, flannel on us both. #yes

Jrob2

Meet the (goal)Maker: Keri Rowe

KeriRowe

(goal)Makers are incredible human beings making magic happen. With a radical vision and huge goals, they put themselves out there to be seen, to create, and to share their unique gifts with the World. I honor the action of making it happen, where willpower meets movement and the goal vibration is felt.

Meet Keri Rowe.

Keri is one incredible goal crushing human being, we met while working together at lululemon athletica on the Recruiting team sharing the job love and attracting sweaty humans to wear spandex everyday. She is a nature lover, snowboarding goddess, a support when you need a shoulder to lean and one creative heartbeat. She has launched her own nature-inspired jewelry line out of BC, called Coastal Chains. I am honored to share that we have collaborated on handcrafted earring series where 50% of goods sold go to support my trip to Ethiopia with Imagine1Day!

Meet the (goal)Maker!

I am Keri, I live in Vancouver, BC which I believe to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. My favourite things in life consist of: travelling, snowboarding, camping, hiking, playing with dogs, laughing to the point of crying, cuddling with my man and of course crafting beautiful jewellery.

Tell us about Coastal Chains:  Coastal Chains was born in the spring of 2014. My inspiration draws from nature which leaves me designing in geometric shapes. If you asked me a year ago if I thought this hobby would turn into a business I never would have guessed it. I am so grateful for all the love, support and encouragement along the way. I can't wait to see what's in store for coastal chains in the next year.

Crush at age 14: Jim Morrison, handsome, talented and rebellious

A goal that I am living that makes my palms sweat: Hiking the West Coast Trail in the summer

Most recent failure and what I learned from it: I ended up on a band of cliffs while backcountry snowboarding earlier this year. One of the rules to backcountry touring is to always go down in single file and properly plan your route, we got caught up in the enjoyment of the powder and abolished this rule, never again.

What is your spirit animal? I just took one of those weird online quizzes, it said I was a butterfly which is not accurate at all. So, second up I was a tiger - which sounds way cooler.

How do you take your coffee/tea? Black tea super milky.

My thoughts on men with beards: If I didn't I'd be living in the wrong city.

My thoughts on men in flannel: Yes!... more flannel less suits!

Keri Rowe

I love to fail. Only now.

Originally post on January 15, 2015 on the Rock Your Bliss blog. ___

As a perfectionist growing up, the word failure seemed banned from my vocabulary.  Whether it was in my schooling, my athletic endeavors, friends or faith, I literally would press the panic button, get red splotches and start to cry should the inkling of failure be anywhere near my reality.

It was basically a curse word.

You can imagine this created quite a tumultuous environment in middle school where failure is literally part of the coming of age, growing up game. No one tells you that! Or I had very selective listening. I cried often to teachers about a grade lower than an A-, friends that were mad at me for anything as little as not talking to them at our lockers between class, cue the waterworks, in the dugout after a strike out, a sobbing shitshow – especially when my grandparents were in town watching the game.

Failure to me meant a let down, disappointment, and a disgrace.

In my ripes years of 30, turning a corner to 31 (where I hear they say you are officially in your 30’s), I have redefined failure in my life.  I actually have turned 180 degrees and fallen in love with failure as an opportunity for growth, as a learning tool, as a way to know you are radically alive and in action towards something big or on the flipside, in action towards something you most likely should not be moving towards.  And what I have realized is failure will happen. It will happen. And when you and I can accept this fact and be aware of what happens and what has happened in our past experiences, you can welcome the life occurrence instead of blocking, bottling or stopping short on all that you are cultivating in fear of failure.

Sound familiar?

So, let’s get real.  When failure happens, you get to ask, what now?

1) Evaluate. Evaluate the situation. Get clear on what has happened now. Why did it happen?  And who you were in the situation, did you show up fully or did you flail?  Meet yourself where you are at now, not what the failure will mean tomorrow or in 5 years.

2) Ask for help. Human beings want to support one another, share experiences and be in the space of wisdom exploration, together. Reach out for a helping hand, outside perspective can provide beautiful clarity and direction.

3) Make a change. Perhaps, it is time to pivot, make a change or switch up your approach.  Take 20 minutes to brain dump and explore all the possible and different ways to make your goal, vision or dream happen.  There are probably about 22 different scenarios you have yet to explore.  As Ross said in the Friends episode while moving the couch, PIVOT, PIVOT!

4) Re-commit. Underneath most complaints, as is a common trend when complaining, is a new commitment.  What can you commit to or re-commit to in the failed attempt?

5) New opportunity.  Let go.  Create new. Okay, I believe failure can be a huge sign to that this is the wrong direction. Consider letting go and creating something completely new. I said it.

6)  Fill in the Blank….   What have you experienced?  What are other “I failed, so what now” learnings?

When we can get real on our options + opportunities within failure, we can allow, flow and live life bigger. It no longer is a block, stepping stone or direct path to waterworks + bruised ego. Take time to explore, to get present, rock the awareness and choose to be beautifully human.  And, I say, fail even more to rock your bliss!

You know, we are all just winging it out there. Failing, flailing and leaning on one another. All the time.

WingIt.

When I grow up...

When I grow up, I want to be a dancer. I remember saying these words timidly in the microphone on stage of my third grade performance in a small gymnasium at my Greek Orthodox school. I wore a pink ballet skirt, pink tights, a black unitard and pink ballet flats.  My ridiculously long Rapunzel style braid wound tight with about 87 bobby pins in a bun, obviously. And hot pink blush.

And then I fluttered over to stage left. Future declared.

Who knew in years to follow, I would change my answer numerous time, like this:

I want to be a teacher. I want to be an aerobics teacher, just like my Mom in her leg warmers, velcro Reeboks and unitard thong. I want to be a nutritionist. I want to be a doctor. I love helping people and how comfy are scrubs? I want to work in Advertising at NIKE. I want to be a full time feminist. Gender Studies Major, check. I want to be a Public Relations shark. I want to be a Brand Director. I want to be a Yoga Teacher. I want to be a Spin Teacher. I want to be a Goal Coach. I want to be a Dancer again. Signed up for hip hop, I have no pop and lock. None. I want to be a Consultant. I want to be a Yoga Retreat company owner. I want to be a Mother. ....

The list goes on and on. And somewhere in that list, being a grown up became wearing a label, being emotionally stable and making (a lot of) money. Period. Like a task on a to do list that we must complete in this life game.

But, what if being a grown up meant opening your eyes now, choosing to grow in every experience today and basking in the process of the growing-up glow?

What if it was no longer a destination but a way of being? No longer a forced wisdom but a recognition of time?

What if we removed the pressure and gave ourselves permission to know that growing up happens every single day until the day we die?

Perhaps we start a list of when we have grown up: that tough conversation with a co-worker last week, that time you traveled to Europe solo and learned how to ask for help, the wisdom your Grandpa shared and how you actually looked up from your Gameboy, errr iPhone, and listened, the decision you made last year with your partner to move in together, admitting you are wrong (any time this happens, I feel like a grown up), the moment you experience loss, the responsibility of owning a dog (and then another dog, oh my), that time you ask for a raise and get what you deserve, or that time you asked that guy on a date and you got rejected (and really replayed that whole "other fish in the sea" commentary)...

See, now that list can truly goes on and on.

Always, always growing.

Now, It is our choice if we are growing up or down. Choose your action, learnings and expereinces wisely.

 

WhenIGrowUp

 

 

 

The imbalance of giving & receiving.

As of late and thanks to Amazon and a recommendation a la my dear heartbeat Matt Hoglund, Doreen Virtue's Daily Guidance Angel Card are my morning ritual for insight and a lean on a hippie human resource. And really, I have been pulling them for anyone that will listen at a random coffee shop or for new friends in Wyoming. I drank the angel card kool aid and I spiked it. I come off strong, no wonder it is taking me time to make friends in Denver. I digress. So I shuffle, shuffle, shuffle and pull the top card this morning and I get the Giving & Receiving card. Oddly, the angel on the card has tan skin and is holding a parrot in one hand and feeding a Mama kangaroo in the other. So weird and oh my, how I love these cards. AngelCard

The card strikes a memory years ago, I must have been 24, my favorite yoga teacher once said in class that the way you inhale and exhale can sometimes be an indicator of the way you are living. The inhale representing how well you can receive, and the exhale representing what you offer and give.

We were all seated with our eyes closed (mine kind of half closed) and I learned that I can exhale like a champion. And of course, on the other side, I recognized how hard it was for me to fully inhale. Most teachers focus on the full belly breath, cueing you to round your belly like the Buddha and fill it with prana (yoga speak for breath, life-giving force). To be honest, all of my concentration and efforts were in the ability to take my inhalation even past my collar bone while pretending to push my belly out at the same time, in case someone in the class or my teacher decided to see if I was a non-receiver. So vain.

It was one of those a-ha moments in that yoga class, though. All these realization happened at once. I don't take compliments well, I divert and turn them around back to the giver. I like to do it all by myself, thus asking for help is hard for me. I like to be in charge, thus leaning on others is beyond vulnerable for me. Even at that time in my life, receiving love and recognizing love was hard for me. I liked to prove myself with actions and a job promotion was like winning a nobel prize.

Sound familiar?

And though I can easily look back into my whirlwind twenties and chalk it up to reckless youth (note: I was not even that crazy, just a head case of emotions) and a lack of wisdom, that would so be a cop out. Because what is deeply seated there underneath those realizations, that angel card and within my breathing is a pattern that I still live today.

Almost there on this angel card rant, stay with me.

When you order these angel cards, there is a little booklet that takes the cards a couple sentences deeper. For us analytical folk that need a few more definitions or perspective for full buy in to the spiritual shit we so want to believe. So the booklet reads for the Giving & Receiving card that my ratio is out of balance. And thankfully it notes that there is no such thing as perfect balance, phew. The sentence that really gets me is this: "...make sure you are giving on a daily basis without expecting anything in return. On the same day, be a gracious receiver to unexpected offers of help, compliments or other gifts".

To my surprise, and maybe for you too, the sentence that knocks me out is the one about giving without expecting anything in return. I realize today that I can breathe fine, if I remove the expectation of something in return (like a champion exhale).

This is hard for me because my pattern is not necessarily the inability to receive, it is actually the ability to remove my expectation of it all being 'fair'. I have been living in this pattern where I might measure up the things I do versus the things my fiance does, the effort I give versus that of my business partner, or the calls I make versus that of my family calling me. And it creates this gnarly tension within me that I actually think the versus notion is the blocker of a deep, beautiful, big belly inhale. The comparison is killing my breathing game and truly, my life game.

I have got a lot of work to do. And what I remind myself and I will remind you, this is a practice. This awareness, while so clutch and somewhat annoyingly spot on, is where you create your day, your week, your life when the intention to both practicing giving and receiving meets action.

How do you give and receive?  Bring on the life hacks and wisdom, the angel cards have spoken.

After hours, stringing together moments.

Last night, I really wished I had a bedside table.I wanted to capture a picture so badly and if I had a nightstand, my phone would have been closer and more accessible. I probably spent a whole six minutes devising a plan to get my phone.

So you know, I keep my phone charging in the bathroom about three steps away from the edge of the end of the bed. It is strategic really in that I have to actually get up out of bed to turn off my alarm every morning. That and I don’t have easy access to scroll instagram once my head hits the pillow. It is a conscious choice, similar to that of not having TV in the bedroom.

So no phone.  No weird pictures of the family piled in bed while they’re sleeping. I actually have quite a few of them from a time when I did have a bedside table.

Is that creepy? Tell me you do this, too. I know, some times I worry too about my nerd-like ways for my children.

Anyways.

My sweet man always, and I mean every single night, falls asleep before me. He can lay his head down and be deep in REM within about 7 seconds. I see it is a gift.

For me, I need time. Time to release the day, time to release the computer screen and iPhone apps and conversations. I need time to stop myself from brainstorming about this brand, the to do list, our wedding and/or my imagine1day fundraising efforts. And I need to warm up, adjust to the darkness and truly settle in. I toss and turn to find that perfect snuggle spot.

Back to last night. Chris passes out, per usual and is on the brink of snoring. He has the comforter pulled up around his neck and every muscle in his face is relaxed. He has really beautiful skin and I am jealous of it, there, I said it. I can lift my head up and see the black ears and brown eyebrows of our sweet terrier mix, Bear. He is literally nuzzled in Chris’ armpit on the other side of the bed and under the covers.

Under the covers, seriously.

I have our Moose pup sprawled over the top of me. On top of the covers, that is. He literally looks like a huge floppy oversized stuffed animal thrown over the top of my stomach and laying right on my heart, his humongous head sleeping soundly on my right shoulder into my neck. He is passed out beyond belief. We went for a run earlier that evening and he is a goner.

Oh, he snores, too.

I smile because I love the visual. My feet intertwine in with Chris’ legs. I reach for his hand and I hold it, I hold it tight. And I breathe deeply, every so often opening my eyes to make sure we are all still the same.

Connected and all snuggle-like. In love.

I wished in that after hours life moment right there for the iPhone because I just wanted to capture this moment with Chris, me and the (beyond spoiled, I know) pups. I want it forever, I think to myself. As if I no longer have a memory bank and the phone is my only option. I mean, my right arm is free and long enough to get that selfie type angle and the flash will only wake them for a moment. How do I get out of this bed? I devise a plan to move Moose and then place myself right back where I was. Three seconds flat.

Truly not possible.

And I breathe and realize I secretly don’t want to move. I don’t want to interrupt all the love. I know this might sound weird – you might have already graduated from dog snuggles to kid snuggles. Or even weirder if you don’t love dogs in the they-are-part-of-the-family type way. Yet in my life right now, it is this moment. This simple moment is my everything. My reminder that every little thing is already okay, my peace and my quiet, and my favorite place to be right now.

So I stay.

And I take a mental snapshot. And I realize that life is about noticing and seeing love. Anywhere and everywhere. The moments are fleeting and they come and go.  Of course there are the 'other moments', the harder, not so desirable, uncomfortable and annoying moments. I believe that is being alive.

Yet, the beauty is we have choice.  Choice to see love in moments. And then, in all the vulnerable courage we can muster, start to string those love moments together, getting them closer and closer so that joy, connection and dog breath are overfilling your memory bank (and iPhone album).

String the moments.  Today.

No_Image

We are going to Ethiopia with Imagine1Day.

I am nervous writing this. I sit here in a Denver coffee shop avoiding the computer screen. I get up to grab more hot water for my peppermint tea, I adjust my purple and blue flannel, clean my glasses one more time and consider a bathroom break. I started googling reasons not to announce, not to go, not to ask for help. Avoidance, major.

I am nervous because I am announcing a massive goal, right now.

Here we go...

Everyone, we are going to Ethiopia with Imagine1Day. Together. In 83 days, 5 hours and 2 minutes.

When?  April 29 - May 14.

That's right, I am taking you with me. I want you to experience it all and, as much as this pains me to write and say out loud in my (super)ego brain, I cannot do it alone. Be it through emails, blogs, social channels and learnings, you will be there with me the entire time.

Why Ethiopia? Why now? Didn't you just move your life and are getting married this year? Are you crazy?

Yes to all of those questions. One of my great loves in my life, my sweet Dad said that I do way better in life with more on my plate. I don't do well with idle or free time. I agree with him. And ever more so....

I want to be of service and build a primary school for a country with a radical vision that by 2030, all Ethiopians will have access to quality education free of foreign aid. I believe in vision work, I believe in possibility and making shit happen. So, here I am signed up, purchasing my ticket to Africa, getting vaccines and stepping with both feet into believing in that vision with Ethiopia and Imagine1Day.

My mentor and teacher, Susanne Conrad is leading igolu content to African leaders. We are talking sharing transformation tools with leaders that will utilize these tools to create awareness, ways of showing up, legacy creation and goals to reach their vision. I so want to be a part of that. A part of the shadowing, contributing, seeing, and experiencing this transformation, so when 2030 lands, I can tell my children I was there in the early stages and they can do something big and gamechanging, too.

I want to be a part of team, do something that scares me and get way out of my comfort zone. With 13 other team members, I commit to raising funds, showing up and going all in. To get real honest with you, I am exploring my relationship with money. And what I really want to say to you is, I am terrible with money. I often create from a place of lack and emotionally, it is the reason for the two deep wrinkles (frown lines) between my big eyebrows and the only argument that rocks my relationship. I have a team supporting me to stand for me reaching a goal of raising 10,000.00.  My stomach just dropped.

Coming pretty close to the wedding bell, I know. He said yes and that he supports me fully. I am a member of Team Hynes, composed of myself, Chris Hynes (fiance) and Bear & Moose (our dogs). Together, we create a vibration in all our actions, decisions and partnership. Chris and I absolutely see how important this trip will be for us to show up fully in our marriage, fully in our communication and fully in all our business endeavors now and in the future. He will be there with me, though not physically, he will be there learning with me from our Denver home with the pups. That is love and that makes my heart beat. I cannot wait to come home and marry him in June.

In creating and avoiding and being scared and almost quitting and then pulling the trigger, I have decided this is happening. And so, I am here to share with you that I have a lot to do to make magic happen in 83 days.  The how...

* My donation page is here, should you or your organization want to jump on board and be part of the experience together. Absolutely 100% of your donation dollars go directly to educations programs and projects. Inspired? I know I am! Grab your Visa and click HERE to get us there. I appreciate every dollar.

* I will be launching limited edition goal package series and group offerings on my site and social channels. Stay tuned each week for coaching experiences that go directly to support my trip cost! Get up on that and join my email link to the right!

* Currently, I am brainstorming a sweaty endeavor that will include different communities, sweat fests and a hashtag, obviously. Denver, Houston, LA, I'm coming knocking this week!

* Rad collaborations coming in hot. Do you want to collab for a cause?  Email me:  jacki@jackicarr.com

* And, do you want to literally come with us this year?  Check out how to join the team here.

Finally, I know you are a radical human with amazing brainstorming ideation, I am so open to so many cool ideas. Like, how can I incorporate a podcast? Where would lip syncing battles get pulled into this mix? If you have any ideas - email me, call me, send an owl. I want to hear them. Email:  jacki@jackicarr.com

Thank you for supporting this journey, being there with me and getting really possible in the World, together.

imagine1day

 

 

 

 

Love by way of gold star stickers.

I was in yoga the other day after a cold afternoon zipping around Denver on my Vespa. The heated wood floors and humidity in the room were welcomed as I felt I might actually be thawing from the inside out. The teacher had tattoos and a very honest feel when she spoke and I immediately felt similar to her. You know when you meet someone and you feel similar? There is a lot of the "been there, done that" relatability and you just get it when he/she starts talking about ego, flexibility or presence. The conversation flows. It can actually go both ways, I met another someone recently who I felt so similar to, however, the similarity was from an older version of myself; one that was competitive, full of complaint and comparative. The conversation did not flow.

So, the yoga class was good. Nice heat, great adjustments and sweet verbal cues.

And the teacher was pretty raw in her speaking. You can tell advanced teachers because they can drop in personal story along with guiding movement and breath. Props to those skills.

Towards pigeon pose, she asked the question, "What if you loved someone just to love them?"

Damn. They always drop the good ones in a hip opener. My achilles heel.

I am actually reading a book on love, as you might recall, my 2015 declaration is all about the love. The book explores love in all its many different histories and cultures and attempted meanings. It is so interesting. Yet, I sit here wondering if I have been trying to follow suit and give love a definition, a meaning, or a means to an end - when the truth about love is you cannot always define it, you cannot always explain it and you never want it to end. So when my tattooed yogi with an honest voice asked the question of love just to love, I realized that I have not been doing that. At all.

I reflect back on my week and I realize I have not been loving Chris (my fiance) just to love him. I have been loving him with expectations, pressure and stress. And I sit here frozen because I realize that this is how I love myself. I love myself with expectations to fit an ideal, pressure to be more, say more, action more and stress to be louder, stronger, and way more successful. Oh man, I love a gold star, and in my understanding, you don't get one until you have achieved something.

Shit. I understand love by way of gold stars.

Transition is gnarly. Moving to Denver, both Chris and I are getting grounded and finding our voices here, our friends here and careers here. It is a slow process, to be expected. And really, I am impatient. A truthful character flaw. And with that impatience comes this obstacle or block to love, both in my mind and in my heart. Both the ability to give and the ability to receive (preferably in the form of gold stars). Yet in the transition, you almost have to trip and fall, make mistakes and fail way more often. I feel moving here has been a huge reflection or to speak bluntly, identity crisis. You get really clear on who you are because honestly, I sit alone with my thoughts a lot right now.

Does that even make sense?

So in all this identity reflection mode, yoga going, mountain air breathing, I take a note that I feel like I have been living in this "I love you, when you complete, finish, find, land, create, design _________."

And, there should never be a 'when' after the sacred words, 'I love you'.  Never.

I love Chris just because I love him. I love Chris now. Period.

(You should know that I started to explain why I love Chris... in a long paragraph. I deleted it about 8 seconds ago. Because when you love someone, you don't have to prove it in a paragraph. You get to be it. No gold stars, all energy. Note to self.)

And finally, I decide to love myself just to love myself. Just now, I decided. A bold move, and even in writing it, I felt an entire shift in my body. As if I threw the metaphorical gold stickers away (or maybe just put them out of sight), the shift felt like a deep sigh of relief, even if momentary. And to be honest, the-sigh-of-relief-shift is different from the shift when I solve a crossword puzzle, win at Scrabble or hike the top of the mountain - when I give myself a gold star for accomplishing a task, goal or game. The shifts feel different. I didn't know that.

Yes, in case you were wondering, this is actually blowing my mind right now.

So, you try it. Say it out loud: I love myself just to love myself. Now.

Sometimes we need a reminder. A verbal cue to create a ripple effect in our body to create a disruption in the status quo of our actions (gold star loving) and let love truly be love.

No strings, no stickers.

GoldStarChart

We read the newspaper. And learn stuff.

Settling into our new Denver digs quite magically and rocking the nesting life like you have never known.  I seriously type this from a recliner couch, covered in a neon quilt, in slippers with a cup of hot tea. Major nest sesh going down right now. So, upon pulling up to our driveway for the first time two weeks ago, we noticed some folded papers wrapped in a plastic bag. Amazingly enough, they have the news written all over them. I believe they called them newspapers in the olden days, even reading them over hot coffee sitting with loved ones. No technology necessary.

Yes, we have someone's Wall Street Journal subscription! Will call soon to switch over.

Maybe.

I actually will write an entire other post on the joys of reading the paper. We have old ones stacked in the bathroom, in our reading room and I saved a few articles placed in my breakfast nook.

Reading the Health & Wellness section this past week, my eyes stumbled across the article, "How Well Are You Listening?" by Elizabeth Bernstein. I urge you to read the entire article, very well written and great food for thought.

You may or may not know, I have a tattoo on my right inner wrist, written in my own handwriting, that reads 'listen'. I literally need a reminder, a note to self in permanent ink to listen deeper, connect and be present. When Chris and I first started dating, I knew he was the real deal when we were at a dinner party and I kept interrupting people (unknowingly) and finally he put his hand on my forearm as I was about to interrupt someone (yet again) and said, 'hey babe, not your turn to speak'. Wake up call.

Elizabeth writes in her WSJ article, "Experts say that we are naturally just not good at listening...we have a tendency to swap stories, so we interrupt. We're uncomfortable with emotions, so we avoid focusing too closely on someone else's. We'd rather talk about ourselves, so we rush the talker along."

Guilty. And man, come on self and human beings. Let's do better. Let's be better to one another.

I have been considering the common themes that make me a terrible listener.  Here is my list:

1) iPhone. Period.

2) A desire to share my story and contribute to the conversation or really, to make people think I am smart. I am too busy concentrating on the things I want to say in that moment, I have completely zoned out what the other person is adding on. Hello (super)ego, stop talking so loud.

3) Stress. Easily distracted with a to do list, a bank account or bad skin, stress can take my internal psyche to an entirely different playing field.

and

4) Fear of tears. If I am about to cry, my survival mode takes me on the next direct flight out of there. Can't listen when I am seeking exit strategies (i.e. the door, a bathroom, another person in the area that I can distract myself with) and clenching my entire body to stop the emotional floodgates. Just can't.

Bernstein writes on and explains the practice of 'active listening'. I am sure you have heard about it, when you are actually listening, actively. You put the phone away, make eye contact, ask questions, becomes interested, show interactive facial expressions and reflect back what you have heard.

Heard of it? Tried it? Believe in it? Been doing it lately?

One of the greatest gifts we can give our loved ones, our friends and family, even strangers at the train stop or our local barista, is the gift of being heard. We live in a place where so often emotions are bottled, words miscommunicated or missed altogether, and "oh, what did you say?" repeat conversations are commonplace because I was on instagram or my email. We stray to share online versus offline. We talk to the dogs, instead of one another. We create a practice of INactive listening and it become habit.

I did.

Active listening is a choice you have to make and a practice you have to action.

My mentor once said that the greatest act of love is listening. Absolutely agree. What a beautiful reminder that you exist in the presence of another human being and you are heard, acknowledged and loved. Lean in, listen up and love one another.

The gift of being heard. Let's give it way more, people. LISTEN.SILENT

 

 

 

 

Tag, you're it. The game of life.

Remember as a kid playing the game of tag? You would get five or six kids together and you huddle up to talk rules and get real. You chose BASE, that oak tree or that fence post, there are no tag-backs and you count down 3, 2, 1... "NOT IT!" and disperse like bats out of hell running as far away from the last person to yell 'not it'. Arms flailing, screaming at the top of your lunges, chasing or being chased, I remember it all being really fun.

Remember? Go remember.

Throw in the Freeze Tag style and you have people crawling between legs and freezing all over the place. I can only imagine what it must have looked life for someone driving by our field in P.E. in the 2nd grade. Sigh.

Or wait, I can imagine. It might have looked a lot like life.

I liken life to tag, one huge giant game of tag. Whether in conversation with an old friend via phone, meeting new people, sitting crammed really close in one of those restaurants where the tables are maybe 4 inches from one another, kissing, copying notes in class, running into someone who is looking down because they are staring at their iPhone, basically anything that involves being alive, really. We are all tagging one another. And maybe that person (or animal, we will stick to humans) does not physically tag you with his/her hand, however, their energy is there. You know when you walk into during an excruciatingly awkward moment, or someone is distraught and huffing and puffing or when someone is so happy they might literally become a unicorn? You can absolutely feel their energy. Tag, you're it.

Okay, so you agree. We are all playing tag.

Now, let's go back in time to when I was a kid. I loved tag and I think I remember I was pretty fast. This one girl Eleanor was way faster, but I was pretty fast. I loved tagging people out, crawling between a few legs to save a friend or two. But man, I knew when to pause and catch my breath and hit BASE. My chest would start to burn and I would beeline to the proclaimed base at the start of the game. I should tell you, I was a competitive kid. So most kids are smiling and laughing at people being tagged while catching their breath (or just being lazy) while at BASE, not me. I am analyzing the situation. Who are the slow people, who tagged me out last time, I'm coming for you with all this new gusto I just rocked at base. Ready or not.

It has been a road of (super)ego unraveling to get to 30. As you can imagine.

So, as I was saying, in real life, I believe you can start to experience or visually notice the people that are being chased, that are out of breath and that have not taken a moment to hit base and pause. And we have all been one of those people. Tired eyes, run ragged, out of balance, pushing so hard, trying to fit in and look so good. The external forces of culture, stereotypes, work deadlines, social media comparison, comfort zones and sticky routines, they can chase you. Been there? Raise your hand.

Okay, put your hand down.  All of you.

Because here is the skinny dip. Go hit that metaphorical oak tree, tap that fence post and take a (sacred) pause to hit BASE. And because I like to liken things, I liken BASE to my core values, which is my inner GPS, my moral compass, my truth. If you have worked with me on a client:coach basis, you know this well.  If you have been to a Rock Your Bliss workshop or retreat, you've played this game. Because values are my foundation, my root chakra, my grounded-ness. Values are the reminder, the language, the connection to the real deal self. The self with a capital 'S'. No, not the forced self, the out of balance self, the instagram addicted self, the prove it self. Values allow time and space to check myself before I make a rash decision and wreck myself. Values are BASE.

My Values are:  Family, Connection, Knowledge, Nature, Fun.

I might have to add Competitive to the list (see young Jacki playing tag for reference).

How to hit base, you ask? Declare and define your core values for you. Then choose them like a daily practice. This can look like a list of hot pink post-it notes with our values written in purple marker on your bathroom mirrors, this can look like a meditation practice to check in and feel the words as mantra or intention, this can look like a goal sheet created through your values or a digital detox. The sacred pause of BASE is necessary to create the life you want to live, truly.

As you can imagine, I call and see my family often. I hike in nature alone or with other interesting people. I laugh often (especially with red wine). And I read and research often. And when I am not doing these things, stand clear. You will know. Someone or something is chasing me and I haven't taken the time to slow down and take the actions that make me, me.

So I realize, when I remove my hand, or the cool kids had their foot on base (I copied), so when I remove my foot from base, I find that I am focused and connected. I am most available for human consumption when I have taken the time to check in and I am being true to myself. I can get clear on my choices, my actions and where I want to go. I am not lost or stuck, I am home in myself, again. It's an inside job. And I thrive here.

Hit BASE. Come home to yourself. Then with consciousness and choice, get back in the game.

Photo Cred: Pixton

I deleted 6,587 emails.

Over the course of the past two days, I have pressed the trash button on 6,587 emails. My unread messages no longer read 1,261 in that red little bubble on my phone. My Gmail account no longer has pages on pages of 50 emails per page and spam for days. And I can actually start to see an organized way of reading mails and filing messages in my 2015 year, like a coherent To-Do list in a Virgo lifestyle. Highly, highly recommended.

So in this endeavor, I went back. I am talking way back. All the way to 2006 in my email inbox and truly, in my memory box. I found old conversations with great friends, past lovers, job applications, job welcomes, Gchat history with my fiance from the past 8 years, old (weird, blurry, racy, fun-filled) pictures as attachments, and mixer invites from marathon training. In moments, I read my words as if they were written from someone I used to know. That felt weird. And in other moments, I felt familiar. I smiled and even laughed at my own cheesy jokes.

A couple of moments stuck out that I will share with you:

One conversation with a friend telling me to get my shit together and stop switching job so many times and just stand still. I remember that he never wrote long emails and he always got to the point faster than I wanted. Not because I did not want to hear what he had to say but more so because the point was jagged, truthful and harsh. Every single time.

I found an email from one of my oldest friends actually asking me if I ever used Gchat. I thought that was funny. Like reading an email from someone asking if you had tried out this whole iPhone thing.

I read passages shared from my fiance and I before there was even an inkling of dating, loving and marrying one another. I mean, there was always flirting. Always. And ironically, in every chat exchange he somehow found a way to compliment me, tell me I was great or sneak in hints that he adored me. Whether it was talks of being future roommates, ideas of future vacations (cough, honeymoons, cough) or hidden meanings in lyrics of song sharing, it is as if he knew the whole time. I love that.

There were emails with life updates between me and my best friend. She decided to pack up a few times and take residence in Australia one year and then again all over Europe. Those were doozies to read. We are both in such a radically different spaces now, makes it feel like a different lifetime reading her emails about money, love (or lust, whichever), my fluctuating and gnarly body image or future planning.

Another couple of exchanges between friends that I am no longer friends with anymore, at all. To read the closeness that once was and to no longer know them at all now, so odd. Do I miss them? I see them getting married, having babies and crafting cool things on social media and I send a head nod of love. But that is all. 

I realized I was pretty vague in my early to mid-20s. Maybe exchange vague for fake. Okay, they are interchangeable. To the amazing men (and well, the jerks) I drafted in the playing field of insecurity, un-grounded-ness and alcohol, let me just say, I am sorry for the unclear communication. Thank you for teaching me how to love. Or really, how not to love as you made it clear, got the hell out-of-the-way of the ever so vague/fake tornado I was and moved on. Smart on you.

I love the awkward emails when making new friends. Especially new girlfriends. The over-niceness, the formalities and the extended invites only-if-you-want-to-join-and-have-nothing-to-do type invites. I see my future as a new resident in Denver could go this way or I can get real and be bold. I'll choose the latter now that I am older and wiser.

I could go on and on. The memory bank runneth over.

In this practice, I realized the massive impact of time. And then on the flipside, I recognize the fleeting moments that seem to go so, so fast. On one side, I see the ripple effect of time in wisdom and grace (note: Still working on the grace part. But really, who isn't, I think it is called being human). Holy grateful to be thirty, in a loving relationship and chasing big goals down. Or I should say chasing goals up, makes more sense. And grateful to be in a space where I can pause, check myself and listen for the next move versus force it with aggression and fear. I breathe more here and now. Aging works wonders.

And on the other side, it all goes so damn fast. That person no longer, that love faded, a new chapter written, and hey, those awkward moments really were only momentary. What is he or she doing now, why did I care so much about that opinion, that was fun and so free-spirited of me, and holy hell, what was I thinking?

Time.

As I read through the old emails, purge the messages, and let the memories slip in and out of my psyche, I am struck by time (pun intended). The choice and practice to actually be in the moment, no matter how amazing or just excruciatingly shit it may have been. Because it passes. It all passes. Teaching you something new, shifting your perspective, bringing new energy in the form of new friends or loved ones or allowing failure and creating space for the new, different, wiser, more patient.

Knowing it all passes. So quickly.

Knowing you learn from it all.

Know you can age gracefully with clear communication, choice and humility.

Knowing you have failed. Over and over again. Yet, still alive. Who knew?

Knowing you might not be the person you were last year, even last week.

Knowing you have time to listen in, check in and get real. Meet yourself where you are now.

All those yesterdays are today. What are you doing with your time now?

What emails do you want to be reading when you choose to purge in another 10 years?

Go back. Remember. Let go. Purge and delete, as necessary. Get here and now. 

TIME.Clock

 

He is in Love.

Sitting in a Starbucks in Denver, I am secretly watching a well dressed man pace out in the freezing cold. He has on a trendy blue blazer, nice brown boots, a plaid scarf and trendy horn rimmed glasses.  His hair is perfectly molded, or frozen, either of them are really working for him. He has ear buds in and is smiling and laughing uncontrollably as he has his arm extended for the FaceTiming he is engaging in. I think he is in love.

I cannot hear him speaking, but who stands outside in seven degree weather in front of the Starbucks for everyone to see with not a care in the World? And, I saw him fix his hair and throw his scarf on for the Facetime sesh, you know.

Totally a man in love.

I imagine him speaking to his partner who is perhaps on a work trip to Thailand. His style is too great, I definitely have deemed him gay and already texted my best friend about the gay men in Denver and how he should come visit. Via Facetime love and my imagination, they have probably been dating about seven months, madly miss one another and have dropped the "i love you" message just one month prior.

He truly is a joy to watch. You know, in a non-creepy, why yes, I am watching you from Starbucks and smiling kind of way.

Note to Self: Make friends in Denver sooner than later.

And so you know, I have deemed 2015 a year of LOVE. That is my word. That is my intention. My message.

Obviously it is fitting, I am getting married this year and love is a major must when you pick up your life, move across states and rock a new space in the Rocky Mountains. It is a practice. It is a focus. It is a choice.

I told my man this intention and he asked me, 'but, isn't that what you do all the time. Love?".

I said, nope. Not me. I can easily go into comparison mode, judgement mode, lack mode, despair mode at the drop of a hat or an instagram cruise. Not that those are my knee jerk reactions, per se. However, the yoga and running I partake in is on purpose, so I can reflect and see more presence, love and connection.

The last time I truly practiced love was when I was a writer on my first blog, Snob on a Bus. I remember the shift when I chose to see love on the LA bus system versus all the drama, fear and weirdness. Gamechanger. And so, here I am 2015. I am here for the love in all forms - with my fiance, within myself, with the world, with the mystery, with goals, with human connection, with you!

Join me. Make love an intentional choice this year.

SnowyLoveImage

 

2014 | A Year in Review

Even writing the title to this blog, I feel a long sigh. A sigh that tells me I should do this review thing, this gratitude thing, this awareness thing way more often. Because what a year. What a life. What a day.

As I close my eyes, I become my own 2014 Facebook Favorite Moments. Images, feelings, smiles, even the hard stuff, too flashes through my mind and I sit here so radically aware that I actually was alive this year. As much as this time of year always throws me into a tizzy of thinking what I should be doing better, what I could be more organized at and how I could have sweat a couple more times this week really, this morning alone with a warm cup of coffee and my thoughts .... wow, it is necessary.

So let's review.

January I landed my first speaking gig at the Texas Yoga Conference and then flew directly to Mexico on February 1 for the first Rock Your Bliss Retreat in Sayulita. And 2014 was off and running.

February was insane. I said good bye to my 20s and welcomed 30 with an engagement ring from my man, Chris Hynes. I said yes. Obviously.

March brought us Moose. Or, I should say Chris adopted Moose while I was out of town with Rock Your Bliss in Philly and I came home to a family of four, Chris, Bear, baby Moose and me. He texted me and wrote 'YOLO, I got a puppy.'. That happened.

In April my family came to visit. I asked them to come for their Spring Break holiday and we hiked, hit the beach, snacked, snuggled and Vespa'd all over Venice. There is power in the bold request. Make it.

The Summer is a blur. My best friend got married which meant we did Vegas right with the Thunder Down Under for her bachelorette. Travelling to Indiana for her wedding, we rocked the Indy 500 this year. I think I am still hungover today. Chris and I got in a tent often and camping removed another layer from my heart and let Chris in even deeper. Sleeping under stars will do that. I spoke at Hanuman Festival and I can honestly say I totally bombed it. There were a couple 1/2 marathons in there, I ran 100 miles in July and oh man, a lot of red wine bottles.  And after years of living in LA, I finally "learned to surf". Take the quotations for whatever you think they mean.  Holy goals, Mary Beth and I brought Rock Your Bliss to Wanderlust Fest, that was incredible. And Chris and I made last minute trips to the Midwest because family rules.

September and October were crazy town. I traveled here, there and everywhere for Rock Your Bliss. It was a lot of learnings, a lot of energy and beautiful connection in the USA and Canada. I came home for much needed time with Chris and the dogs. We did more camping, we got more clear and the mountains were calling.

November was decision time. Chris and I realized we are actually doing this wedding thing, starting a family of dogs and future babies and the geography mattered. We made the decision to make the big move to the Rocky Mountains for the outdoors life, the big back yard and the possibilities. And so, we started spreading the news. Like in the movies, you think it will be one big good bye party.

It is not.

Saying good bye to your close friends and the community you love, waving adios to the sand and palm trees and re-figuring your business strategies is no easy task. Oh, and packing. Packing your life, the Vespa, the dogs. What a mess.

Goals are messy. I knew it. But I keep learning it.

December came through like a tornado. I watched 'Christmas Vacation' four times and then we roadtripped to Colorado to sign a lease. Or so it felt that way.

And here I sit in my fiance's (still fun to say, fiance) childhood home in Chicago. Everyone is out this morning and well, I'm freezing. It is probably 12 degrees outside. I am smiling because what a year. And to be honest, I probably have a gnarly twitch because we are roadtripping home in two days, but home is little blue house in Denver with a basement and a breakfast nook, not the crazy Venice apartment we have tried to make feel like home the past three and a half years.

Weird. And wow. We did it.

2014. I love you.

I am all the emotions at once as I embark on a new year. Excited, scared, terrified, curious, happy, engaged, stressed out, grateful, and so ready. And I would not have it any other way.

Bring it, 2015.  Bring it all.