All of a sudden, the only thing I could hear was the pounding of my own heart.
“I’m sorry. Could you say that again?,” I said.
The dentist looked at me, and smiled. Empathy? Amusement? Malevolence?
“Your son. He needs a root canal.”
You’ve got to be kidding me.
My 7-year old son. The one who once screamed at the top of his lungs when it was time to get his hair cut. The one who once put up the fight of his life when it was time to trim his nails.
“He’ll be just fine. Focus on the first step….and the first step only…..and then we’ll just explain what’s happening as we go.”
They send us home with a mini gas mask. He’s supposed to practice wearing it. Taking deep breaths. “Like Darth Vadar!” he says, with excitement.
I feel horribly guilty, knowing what I know. I struggle over the idea of not telling him every single detail of what’s gonna go down. Because hell, I’d want someone to tell ME.
But no. I’ve gotta believe that the dentist….a guy who lives his entire life as one of THE most feared human beings on the planet…..must know a thing or two about managing anxiety.
I think about my own life, and the obsession I have over planning every single move. Anticipating the next thing. Bracing for what’s coming. And breaking down my life into a series of steps.
Not only does it create overwhelm, on days when the steps seem impossible to cram in…..it also creates a habitat in which presence is starved of all nourishment.
Monday morning. Step #29. Get the kids dressed in their snow suits. Rush rush rush. Check. Let’s move on. We’ve got to get to step #30: Getting locked and loaded into the car.
Don’t even get me started on those moments when forward progress is halted….when a wrench gets thrown in the mix.
You have to pee? You have to PEE? NOW? Just pee in the snowsuit. I’ll buy you a new one.
So maybe the dentist has a point.
Too much planning can actually cause us MORE distress, because when things don’t go the way we expect them to go…..we get upset.
And so there’s a tricky balance between setting big goals, reverse engineering our success, plotting the road to our biggest dreams……and letting life unfold, simply by trusting the process.
So where is the sweet spot? And how do we get there?
For me, I like to have a clear picture of where I’m headed. A vision board. A daily journalling practice that includes making a list of “Things I Will Make Happen.”
#1 NY Times bestselling author.
Vacation home in Maui.
Trip on an airplane with the kiddos.
Spartan race champion.
But rather than obsess over the million-and-one steps that it may take to get there, I try to focus on the step I am currently taking. Today. And doing it well.
Which is haaaaarrrrrrd.
Because, damn, I love a good blueprint. And I hate being blindsided. As do most human beings. Except when we’re watching Survivor. THEN we’re on the edge of our seats, fist deep in popcorn, relishing in the drama of someone who doesn’t see it coming. Because, well, it ain’t happening to us.
But guys, trusting the process is not simply an excuse to sit back, be lazy, and let Jesus Take the Wheel (thank you, Carrie Underwood).
For me, trusting the process looks like this:
Trust = Action + Surrender
It’s about walking forward. But detaching yourself from the outcome.
It’s about creating movement. But succumbing to the path that you may end up on.
It’s about hustle. And flow. Although I’ve never seen the movie. But it sounds right.
Excellence is a matter of steps. Excel at this one. Then the next one. Then the next.
And truthfully, a huge part of excellence, is simply staying the course. Being consistent with your drive. Knowing where it is you want to go, but letting the detours happen.
Because the more we fight for control, the more resistance we create. And the more resistance we create, the more friction there is…..which slows us down.
You want to be fit and healthy?
Do the work. Day in and day out. Put your Nike’s on. And move.
Yes you’ll catch a cold. Yes there will be a wicked snow storm. Yes your son will decide he’s Picasso, and paint the living room wall. Or the cat.
But those are the moments when you need to trust the process. Take action. And surrender.
Put on your cutest workout clothes. Then crank the music, and have a dance party as you scrub the living daylights out of that wall. Then go for a quick 10 minute jog.
Flexibility is key. And it is the only way you’re ever going to get where you want to go.
One step at a time. This step. Here and now. With everything you have.
I try to put this idea into action. It is -30. It is snowing and blowing. And I am driving through downtown Winnipeg with my two children in the backseat. Traffic is moving along at a snail’s pace. But rather than fixate on how far away Grandma’s house is, we turn it all into a game.
“Green, green, green, green!” We chant as we approach an intersection.
We make it through. And we all cheer! “Wooooohoooooo!"
And so yes. The wise dentist is right. We need only focus on this moment. Putting on the mask. And breathing. Because the next moment will come soon enough. And when it does, we simply need to surrender to what is. Even if it’s kicking that same dentist in the face as he jams a needle in my son’s mouth. Come what may.
What does it mean to be strong?
The answer to this question isn’t as obvious as you might think.
In fact, the answer you might give in this very moment, will likely differ from the answer you give a year from now…..a month from now…..a week from now.
Your answer will surely differ from the person sitting next to you on the bus. Just as surely as it will differ from the person sleeping next to you at night.
Strength is a quality that can be measured in weight, in speed, in heart, in sweat, in tears, in honesty, in action, in the trodden path you’ve left behind.
Strength is relative. And as often as the evidence of its presence appears in physical form…..it is all mental.
Just this morning, I made chocolate cupcakes with my kiddos (which….trust me, requires Wonder-Woman-level strength in the form of patience), and as we were waiting for the cupcakes to bake, I asked them…..
“What does it mean to be strong?”
I love asking my kids questions like this, because their answers are always so honest, so simple, and yet so profound.
Clara said, “It means to be good. It means you can lift a big car.”
Liam said, “It means you can move heavy things. It’s showing your muscles.”
I agreed. And then, I dug a little deeper.
“Have you ever had to be strong in a different way? Like when you were scared? Or sad?”
“Yes,” said Liam. “Sometimes my tears are like…..little raindrops of strength. They mean that I’m doing something tough. Like my first day of school.”
I take a deep breath, and sigh. My god. So much beauty from this little boy’s mind.
All too often, tears are associated with weakness. And yet, could they not equally be associated with strength?
How many times have I bawled my eyes out, in moments of all-out emotion? Were those moments not moments when I needed to dig deep and find the will within myself to carry on? Were those moments not moments of great transformation and strength?
To others, strength is something that reflects the ability to endure:
“Strong means you can meet any challenges. Strength to overcome.”
“It means don’t quit, don’t give up.”
“Strong is finishing a class with you, especially today’s class. Yikes.”
Still others feel that strength is a reflection of hard work. Effort. Energy. And commitment.
“Strength is carrying the groceries in one trip!”
“Having or marked by great physical power……or did you mean the acronym for STRONG….South Texas Research Organizational Network Guiding. Not sure which one you were looking for.”
Cute. Very cute.
But truly, strength is somewhat of a shape shifter. A chameleon. A malleable piece of metal that bends in reaction to what kind of blow is being given to it.
Just when you think you can say, “I am strong!” Life throws you a curveball, and puts your strength to the test in an entirely new way.
“These days, for me strong means taking a hard look at your life, asking yourself the tough question and having the uncomfortable conversations.”
Strength is vulnerability. And truth. And the ability to look at things head on, with acceptance.
To me? Well, to me, strength is the ability to endure. To say “yes”.....when saying “no” would be so much easier.
It is the willingness to see with honest eyes. And an open heart. To be willing to cry. To laugh. To be yourself.
To be strong is to face your fears. To witness your thoughts....”I don’t know if I can”.....and to keep walking forward anyways.
True strength is empowering yourself with action and positivity in the face of indecision, self-pity, and darkness.
STRONG is a verb. An action. A mindset.
What does STRONG mean to you?
When I was little, one of my all-time favourite board games was KGB.
Now, KGB is a bazaar game. It came out during the height of the Cold War. And so there was a sliiiiiiight bias against the USSR.
The ultimate goal of the game was to expose the evil Russian double-agent, amongst a sea of badass CIA agents. Sneaking in and out of rooms on the board. Trying to track down the one person who was turning off the power switches.
I can remember being super pumped when I got to be the double-agent. All of a sudden my eyes would narrow. My voice would deepen. And I’d speak with a slight Gorbachev-y accent.
My cover was blown every single time.
But daaaamn I loved slipping into the identity of a sinister spy.
From a young age, we are all told who we are by the outside world. And even before we have any sense of self-perception, others are putting us into very particular boxes.
She’s musical. He’s sporty. She’s shy. He’s outgoing.
Even my 4-year old daughter is quick to label a Fisher Price character as “the naughty boy,” because he has a furrowed brow and a frowny face.
We all make judgements. And there’s something innate about our desire to quickly categorize people.
As we get older, we start to form our own beliefs about who we are. And our identity becomes a slowly simmered co-creation between us and the people around us.
But every label that is assigned to us may or may not ACTUALLY be true.
I have a sweet tooth. I’m bad at math. I’m a shitty baker. Maybe…..maybe not.
Ok, that last one is hard to contest. I once baked cookies, and accidentally doubled the sugar. In case you’re wondering? Yes. I did give those cookies to 3 year old children. But don’t worry. They weren’t MY children.
Identity is a funny thing. Because really, it’s all in our heads. And although some of us are “naturally gifted” in one way or another…..we often seek out evidence to support who it is we think we are.
Perception becomes reality. Reality becomes perception.
And before you know it, you're half-way through the movie Inception, completely lost, because you ran out of the room for 3 minutes to pop another bag of popcorn.
During this time of year, when the calendar turns, many of us are filled with an electric sense of emotional energy. Ready to make the year ahead “our year.”
But for anyone looking to achieve some big goals in 2020, I think the best place to start, is with your identity.
True behaviour change is identity change.
And guys, once you start to see yourself as a different type of person, you won’t have to force yourself to do things.
The goal is not to run a marathon…..it is to become a runner.
The goal is not to write a book……it is to become a writer.
It is easier to stick to a habit once it is part of your identity. And once you decide that you’re the type of person who….say……consistently hits the gym (and other people reiterate that idea)…..any choice you make that goes AGAINST that identity, brings a little discomfort into your life.
I’ve always considered myself an athlete, and so the months after I had my first child, I felt absolutely LOST. I wasn’t able to workout like I used to, and there was a huge gap between who I thought I was…..and who I actually was.
Throw in the new role of “mother” that is thrust upon us owners of brand new babies…..and you’ve got a full-blown identity crisis.
I sunk into depression. And it wasn’t until I was working out on a consistent basis again, that I felt like “me” again.
Annnnnd then…..just when I thought I was safe, BOOM. An epic break-up.
Now, I’m not someone who believes that I need someone else to “complete me.” But my god, a big part of my identity was: lover, partner, confidant, creator of romantic surprises, and giver of epic orgasms.
Living the “single” life robs me of that part of my identity. And no amount of mom-ing, friend-ing, or self-love-ing will change that.
But just as it took time to build my identity as “mom” I am now flexing my patience muscles, with regards to love. I am reminded that “lust rushes, and love waits.”
And that’s truly the key with any kind of identity change. Particularly when it comes to health.
You want to own the “healthy and fit” label? It’s gonna take time.
Change almost never happens in the “overnight success” kind of way…..even though from the outside, it may seem that way.
Even Justin Bieber….the YouTuber…..put in tons of behind-the-scenes work before he made it big.
The results of success tend to be highly visible. But the process of success is often hidden from view.
Take the Stonecutter’s Credo:
“When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”
The greatest returns are delayed. And working out is probably the most striking example of how the accumulation of small improvements equals a big payoff.
Be more concerned about your current trajectory, rather than your current position. And know that 1% improvements do add up. If you’re patient.
Sundays, for instance, are fucking hard for me. They are ripe with memories of what used to be. I keep wondering when I'll stop looking at the clock at 8:45 am, and not think about what he's doing. But when one of my best friend's asked me how I was doing today, I said....1% better than last Sunday. And she agreed. It is progress.
So take a peak at WHO it is you want to be. And start living as if you ARE that person. Even if it feels like you're a double-agent for a while. Be consistent. Chip away. And over time, the effort of living that identity will come naturally…..like putting on a seat-belt, brushing your teeth…..or blowing up the CIA headquarters.
Eager anticipation is one of the best feelings in the world. And my god, there are so many things in life we relish in anticipating.
The glass of wine, freshly poured. Warm pyjamas, straight from the dryer. The start of a New Year….a new decade…..a new beginning.
But what’s fascinating about anticipation, is that, when it comes down to it……anticipation is simply storytelling. Foreshadowing. Forecasting. And our own projections into the future.
Anticipation is like a glass of lemonade on a hot summer’s day. It’s evil twin? The flip side of the coin? That’d be anxiety. Which is much more like a snowball to the face in the dead of winter.
Anxiety is storytelling just the same. But with a negative plot twist. Fear runs the show. And there is a kind of…..mistrust…..of the future, created in our own minds.
Future-traipsing can be glorious and thrilling and full of excitement…..or it can be a dangerous game that sets us up for shattered expectations…..or worse yet, a state of mind that paralyzes us with inaction.
But when do we choose to linger in anticipation….and when do we choose to linger in anxiety? When do we choose heads, instead of tails….or tails instead of heads?
The human tendency to hop aboard the forethought train has served our ancestors well. Back in our caveman days, we needed to strategize our own safety, prevent against surprise sabre-tooth tiger attacks, and forage our food for the upcoming winter.
Fast forward to the era of smart phones, convenience stores, and Cheez Wiz…..and things look a little less…..life or death. Yet our brains haven’t quite caught up. And we’re still very much in self-preservation mode.
I would hedge my bets that even in this day and age, most of us choose anxiety more often than we choose eager anticipation. Some ancient instinct that refuses to unclench its grip from our minds.
And yet, “the moment before” things happen doesn't have to be a scary place. In fact, is it not equally plausible that things will go well, as it is that they go horribly wrong?
Why then, in this time and place, do we continually choose “worst case scenario” thinking? Why do our brains neeeeeeed to come up with a story at all?
Just the other day, I was at the ballet with my daughter, Clara. It was her very first time at The Nutcracker, and she was dressed to the nines in her pink tutu….high on candy canes and chocolate kisses from her Christmas stocking. On our way up to the balcony, we were handed our program, and as we flipped through it, I saw the long-winded synopsis of the ballet we were about to see.
Huh. I thought to myself. Do I read it to her, so she can follow along with the story as it unfolds…..or do I just let her experience the ballet without any preconceptions? I chose not to read it to her. And instead, I just let it all come as a surprise.
She loved every minute of it. And when it was over, as we shuffled to our car amidst the sea of little girls with big dreams to become ballerinas one day….I started to think about the ways that I try to write a synopsis of my life, before it happens…..just so I can feel a little less….caught off guard.
I started to think about the stories I tell myself, and how often they involve an evil villain, or a fall-from-grace. And I started to wonder about the idea of letting my life come more as a surprise.
All too often, I look at the present moment with a foreboding sense of fear, rather than joy. Which is, essentially, robbing me of the bliss of anticipation. What if I chose to get excited about the unknown? Like a gift I’m just about to unwrap.
A beautiful, deep, soulful romantic relationship could be just around the corner.
A book deal could be ready to knock on my front door.
A new client could be one conversation away from saying “hell yes!”
A sexy blue-eyed masterpiece of a man, sitting across from me at Starbucks, could interrupt this very sentence I’m writing, and say……”excuse me…..I couldn’t help but notice how drop dead gorgeous you are. It would kill me if I couldn’t take you out to dinner tonight.”
And Jesus. Why couldn’t it happen? In which case…..I should be PUMPED about what’s about to take place.
And so on those days when I start to sink into fear, is it not a wise choice to take a peak at the stories I’m telling myself…..and shatter the lies that cause my jaw to tighten, and my shoulders to reach for my ears?
I’m not ready. I’ve never done this before. It’s too risky.
All lies I’ve told myself before. And the kind of lies that cast a scary shadow over the future.
Calm patience. Enjoyment in the wonder. The what if. The possibility. The precipice. It’s a work in progress. And something to aim for.
And so as we round the corner on 2019, I think about all of the goals and dreams I have for the future. And I try to harness this sense of excitement that always seems to kick in at the turn of a year. Remembering that just as the years turn, so too do the days. And rather than brace for danger, I seek to choose eager anticipation. Letting life surprise me at every turn.
Your heart will never race faster than in the moment you are about to kiss someone for the first time.
It’s a gamble. A leap. Like playing with fire. Or skating on thin ice.
I can remember the pure exhilaration of my first kiss. It was at the end of my parents drive-way. And it was of those summer nights when you can still be outside in a tank top, even though the sun is long gone.
Steve was dropping me off after a trip to the movie theatre, and as we sauntered towards each other, I can remember my palms being an absolute mess of sweat and buttery popcorn grease.
Does he like me? Oh god. I like him. What if he thinks I’m an awful kisser? Jesus. Do I lean in, or wait for the lean? What the fuck do I do with my hands? Shit. What if I step on his toes? For fuck’s sake. How long should it last?
The kiss itself was all tongue and teeth. A spectacle of pure beginner’s awkwardness. But regardless….it was amazing. And electrifying. And just right.
You never forget those moments of truly putting yourself out there. Times when things could go one of two ways: Pure magic. Or rejection.
And being a newly single woman, I get to experience the rush of adolescent “does he like me” in all its glory. At 36.
Having married my high-school sweetheart, I never really “dated.” And so this whole crazy upside world of seduction is entirely new to me.
But let me tell you. “Get to” is said with a bit of “tongue-in-cheek” sassiness.
The sting of rejection can be absolutely brutal.
And what I am slowly learning, is that the more I take it personally, the worse it is.
I have absolutely had my fair share of feeling not good enough. Insufficient. And unworthy. I have wallowed in fuck-you feistiness, defensive as all get-out. Lying in a puddle of my own tears, coddling my bruised ego.
And guys, healing from heartbreak is SUCH a journey.
But putting myself in a place of potential rejection is really the only way to ignite the fireworks.
Being an entrepreneur, I taste the bitter pill of rejection in my career as well. And let me tell you. There are days when something as simple as a “No, I can’t make it to class tomorrow.” Will throw me into a tailspin of “I’m not good enough.”
Then I smile. And say to myself….“suck it up buttercup. This isn’t a personal attack on you.”
And truly.....it is the ability to possess an unwavering belief in the value of ourselves, and what we have to offer, that is the difference-maker between those who succeed, and those who do not.
Just the other day, I watched a TED Talk called “What I Learned from 100 Days of Rejection.” Jia Jing spent 100 days putting himself out there in different ways. Deliberately seeking rejection.
And you know what he learned?
That rejection, so often, ISN’T EVEN ABOUT YOU.
After going up to a stranger’s front door, and asking him if he could plant a flower in his backyard, Jia got an immediate “no.”
But instead of running away and wallowing in self-defeat, he asked “why not?”
The man said that he had a dog that would likely dig it up….and he actually suggested to go across the street to his neighbour’s house to see if she might like the flower….because well, she was much more into gardening than him.
And so he did. And the neighbour accepted his offer.
“Had I left after the initial rejection, I would have thought it was because the guy didn’t trust me, or because he thought I was crazy or wasn’t dressed well enough. It was none of those those things. It was because what I offered, didn’t fit with what he wanted.”
My god. If only I could remind myself of that more often. What I have to offer is amazing. It is uniquely me. It is beautiful in and of itself. And sometimes, that’s exactly what someone else is looking for.
But even with this knowledge, I struggle.
Because I think as human beings, we are hardwired to connect. Rejection cuts so deep because it makes us question where we fit in. And Jesus. If we aren't good enough to get a “yes,” where does that leave us?
As social beings, we we crrrrraaave acceptance. And getting rejected feels like the opposite of belonging.
MRI studies show that the same areas of the brain become activated when we experience rejection, as when we experience physical pain. So yes. Rejection hurts. Neurologically speaking.
But through the pain, I can still see that there is no reward without the possibility of rejection.
Some of my sweetest successes stem from moments when I could have either won the entire showcase showdown…..or gone home with confetti on my shoulder and tears on my face.
(Side note. I’ve never actually been on The Price is Right. But if I was, it would be THE highlight of my life. As long as Bob Barker was the host. And I was a Barker’s Beauty. Not a contestant).
It is so much safer to go for the “sure bet.” But who wants the mediocrity of the thing that requires no effort, energy, or risk?!
Rejection is not a character assassination. It is a mismatch in values. And if that truly is the case, then should we not celebrate the opportunity to “get it right?”
Staying in your comfort zone will never lead you to the game-winning on-the-buzzer three-pointer. Because dude. You’ve gotta throw the ball from across the court to even stand a chance at nailing it.
And when it comes to our health, I think SO many people just linger in the familiar, out of the fear of ridicule from others. We have nightmare memories of being picked last for the recess soccer game. And we fear embarrassment.
Putting yourself out there is SCARY. But the rewards are so worth the risks.
And so as I practice my sexy winks, and coy smiles, I try to stay grounded in who I am. Knowing that I’ve got a KILLER kitchen dance party goin’ on. And if you ain’t into my tune-age, that’s totally cool.
Vancouver is one of THE most heavenly places on earth. Majestic mountains. A killer culinary scene. And a high likelihood of running into Ryan Reynolds.
And yet….despite these incredible perks….it is also the city in which I lived through “apartment hell.”
I had just graduated from UBC, and I was looking for a small 1-bedroom, close to the skytrain line. I was on a budget, and so as you can imagine, I was JACKED to find a basement suite for $500 a month. All in.
I jumped at this “steal of a deal” and moved in within a few weeks…..only to discover that……things were a little too good to be true.
First, it was the incessant vacuuming from the floor above. Three times a day. And sometimes at crazy hours of the night.
Then it was the constant arguing from the suite next door, in a language I couldn’t understand (I’m guessing one or two of those arguments was about the habitual porn watching that was going on. Which……I could also hear).
Cue the crying baby. Who….must have been teething. All of his teeth at once.
Aaaaaannnnd top it all off with the crazy guy next door, who kept warning me that the KGB was spying on us. Every one of our conversations was allegedly being recorded.
It was a tough slog. Yet, somehow I stayed for almost 2 years.
Why? I have an uncanny ability to “stick it out” when the going gets tough.
And I had a clear goal. I wanted to save as much money as I could. And I was willing to trudge through whatever it took to do so.
And guys, the ability to hold strong…..the ability to endure, no matter what…..it is a key element of success. In whatever you do.
You want to be successful? The strategy is simple. Do what unsuccessful people are unwilling to do: push through the dip.
The dip…..that moment when you start to think…..it would be so much easier just to throw in the towel right now.
And whether it’s working out, eating well, getting up early, meditating, learning how to play the guitar, or building a relationship…..
You push through the dip? You’ll achieve the results that most people will never see.
Take ultra marathon runner Dick Collins, for instance. How does a guy like that keep going, despite fatigue, hunger, cramps, dehydration, and sheer exhaustion?
“Decide before the race the conditions that will cause you to stop and drop out. You don’t want be out there saying, ‘Well gee, my leg hurts, I’m a little dehydrated, I’m sleepy, I’m tired, and it’s cold and windy.’ And talk yourself into quitting. If you are making a decision based on how you feel in that moment, you will probably make the wrong decision.”
And that’s it right there.
All too often, we make decisions based on how we FEEL IN THE MOMENT. Rather than what we want in the long-term.
And so, if you want success, you need to find clarity on what your goals are FIRST. Chart your course. THEN embark on your journey. And know ahead of time that it ain’t gonna be smooth sailing to get there.
It’s about taking action even when in that very moment…..you don’t feel like it. Because…..aha!…..this is the hard part.
It is human nature to want to choose the familiar….the convenient….the easy. But if you are someone who truly wants to adventure through this life with everything you have, and become the BEST version of yourself…..you need to embrace the long-game, and stop doing what everyone else is doing: taking the path of least resistance.
Understand this. The dip is coming. It is inevitable. And it won’t be fun. But guys, it is part of the climb. And it is the part where almost everyone gives up. If you can push through it, you will reap the rewards.
And hey, along the way, you may even inadvertently acquire the filthiest dirty-talk vocabulary known to man (which may or may not then lead you to seriously consider launching a dirty-talk greeting card line).
Maybe not all dips are as bad as they first appear to be.
In my early 20s, I was all about KFC.
It was the ultimate greasy reward on a Friday night, after an intense week of University coursework. And I loved every finger-lickin’ moment of it.
I was an English major. But don’t box me in. I took Astronomy 101.
And I only rarely had to pull out my prank glasses with open eyes painted on the lenses.
University is a slog.
And I am 100% convinced that a diploma simply represents one’s ability to “stick it out,” rather than knowledge acquired.
Ask me what I remember about the solar system.
The professor chewed gum.
That’s what I remember.
It is an experiment in endurance. And he who is willing to loose the most sleep, wins.
Endurance is rare. Yet enthusiasm is common.
Which means……there are MANY people who start things…..yet only a few who finish them. And in life, long term consistency beats short-term eagerness. Every time.
In fact, Steve Jobs once said, “about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from non-successful ones, is pure perseverance.”
What really matters, is staying with something, even after the initial honeymoon flush is over.
And trust me guys, the irony is not lost on me. This wisdom is coming at you from a divorcee.
But at the end of the day, I’m not willing to constitute the end of a 20-year relationship as a lack of endurance. And also…….I’m not perfect. Far from it, actually.
It could be argued that endurance is genetic. However, we can’t ever discount the power of our own minds.
My son Liam has a penchant for endurance. In fact, just the other day he challenged his sister to a 3-lapper around the entire park. She fell half way into lap 1 and burst into sensational tears. She has a penchant for melodrama.
I think some of us are simply WILLING to endure with more intensity than others. And WILL is absolutely something that can be strengthened over time.
Behind the glitz and glamour of success…..is boredom, loneliness, and feelings of discouragement.
And guys, the extent of our success is directly related to the extent of our willingness to endure pain.
Success has a price tag. And the fee is not paid in “I’ll give it a try” coinage.
You want to “get there?” Go all in. Commit to mastery. And stop being a dabbler who dabbles the shit out of every dabble-able thing.
I think the reason some of us fail to endure, is that we are simply unwilling to give something EVERYTHING we have. Because if we do…..and STILL fail? It’s a tough pill to swallow.
If we only dabble, and our project goes up in flames…..we have an out. “It was just a little something I wanted to try.”
Success comes with tenacity. Grit. And a WILLINGNESS to keep going.
Be choosey about what you pour your energy into. And then take no prisoners.
Even if Colonel Sanders is the one barking orders at you from behind enemy lines.
When I was a little girl, I longed to feel special. I was the third of three daughters in my family. And so by the time I came around, there was a real sense of…..been there done that….in the air.
I craved adventure. And in the white suburban neighbourhood I grew up in, my friends and I created our own high-stakes drama, biking from park to park, narrowly escaping the “bad guys” who were always hot on our tail.
I can remember shopping with my mom at Zellers one afternoon, bored out of my mind, when I decided to limp around as if my right leg was broken. I longed for sympathetic looks from strangers…..or better yet, an utterance of “poor girl” under someone’s breath.
I wanted attention. Bad.
And by grade 7, I can remember wanting to be “the popular girl” so bad, I got my mom to blow dry and style my hair every single morning….rollers and all…with a magazine cut-out of Jennifer Aniston taped to the bathroom wall, for inspiration.
In retrospect, I sometimes wonder how much I was looking for love and affection from the outside world, in order to battle the inner critic that lived deep inside me.
“You’re not good enough,” my own voice would say.
Over and over again. In a myriad of ways.
Having a daughter, I secretly fear having passed along the self-doubt gene to her, crossing my fingers that she never loses the unwavering belief she has in herself, as a super-hero.
I ask her the question, “what makes you feel loved, sweetheart?”
She thinks about it, then says….. “hugs and kisses from you, mom.”
Her answer makes my heart melt.
But then I start to think…..Uh-oh. What if she starts to rely on the attention and affection of others, in order to feel good about herself?
I quickly forget this train of thought as she finishes her answer with a light-hearted giggle: “I also reeeeallly love sleep.”
I’d love to say that upon coming face to face with my own personal negative nelly, I lived happily ever after, nary a “you suck at this” in sight.
That bitch is a persistent one. And she shows up at the party, already wasted, sweater slipping off her shoulder, smeared mascara…..just when you least expect it.
You want “I’m not good enough” at max volume?
Go through a break-up.
Ya. That storm is one that’ll have you doubting even the qualities you thought were your greatest strengths.
But something I’ve really learned over the past year is that we always have the opportunity to reframe, and it is our self-criticism and feelings of inadequacy that act as our own prison.
Apparently, Leonardo Da Vinci was extremely hard on himself throughout his entire career as an artist. He’d abandon projects half-way through, convinced that they were complete garbage.
Until it was recommended to him to look at his work in a mirror.
By looking at the reflection of his painting (rather than looking at it straight on), he could be much more objective, and judge his work as if he were seeing it for the first time.
And it’s the same with our own minds.
Sometimes we simply need to take a step back, and distance ourselves from our own thoughts in order to see them from a different perspective.
And so when Halsey’s Bad At Love is tormenting me, and I’m starting to doubt my own light, my own beauty, my own ability to love deeply enough…….I reframe.
I tell myself three simple words.
I am learning.
Calm rushes over me.
I am learning so much.
And I am giving myself time to strengthen my skills.
Patience is a virtue, they say.
And in this case, they’re right.
With each stumble, I am gaining insight into who I am, what I want, and how best to get there.
Whether it’s in love, in business, or in health.
We rise. We fall. We rise.
Imperfection is part of the game of life. As is the “Climb Mount Everest” square…..which I always found to be a little unlikely, even for Hasbro.
And so, as if looking at my life from the other side (and not in a creepy Stranger Things kind of way…..that shit is fuuuuuucked up), I try to let go of negativity as best I can.
We have the power and ability to change our thoughts.
And there’s no need to break our own legs to do it.
Saying “yes” is easy.
Saying “no” is hard.
Except when you’re 4.
Somehow, when you’re 4, you do not give a shit about what everyone else thinks. And there are no apologies about it.
I realize this. Yet again. As I watch my 4-year old daughter in her Tip Toe Ballet class. Hair, wild and untamed, looking like she just spent the last 2 weeks fending for herself in the great outdoors, surviving only on rain water and small rodents that she caught with her bare hands.
I still remember the exact moment I found out I was having a girl. The ultrasound room was dimly lit. My belly was slathered in jelly. And the technician leaned over with an excited whisper. “Do you want to know what you’re having?”
You could hear my high-pitched squeal from several doors down.
And I kid you not. My first thought? My god! I’ll get to braid her hair!
Fast forward 4 years.
My daughter is crumpled on the floor. Screaming bloody murder. Because I even so much as picked up her hair-brush.
She doesn’t want to look like Elsa. Or Anna. Or Rapunzel. And she has no qualms about saying so. Not even to please me.
And as much as it pisses me off, I also admire her for it.
Because I know that I am a recovering people-pleaser.
And for me, saying “no” has always been extremely uncomfortable.
But we’ll get to that.
As a child, I was all about achieving, and doing whatever my parents….my sisters….and my friends valued.
I went to church. I played trumpet in the school band. I went to university. I married my high-school sweetheart. I drank milk. I had 2.0 kids. I baked cookies on Saturdays.
I adapted my life to the expectations of others.
And not because anyone held a gun to my head.
Not at all.
I was simply worried about what others would think about me if I veered off the path. I was petrified of being rejected. And scared shit-less of failing….then having to swallow the words “I told you so” as a chaser.
My identity in many ways was based on the approval of what everyone else wanted.
And so when I was faced with the question…..”what do YOU want?”….it was a bitter pill to swallow only to realize that what I wanted? Was very different from what WAS.
But guys, the craziest part for me? The realization that my people pleasing addiction was actually harming me…..and others…..more than it was bringing happiness.
In fact, it was downright assholery!
To continually say “yes” to what others want (even when I don’t want that thing)…..is patronizing! Because it assumes that other people can’t handle the truth.
Not only that, it prioritizes my own fear of rejection (gasp….what will they say if I say no), above everything else.
And guys, I know I’m not alone here.
How many of us are spending less time getting a good night’s sleep…..working out…..cooking a deliciously healthy meal……reading a good book before bed….because we are trying to keep up with promises we made to others?
How many of us are over-committed, stressed the fuck out, over stuff that simply keeps the peace, rather than makes us happy.
If you ask me, the number one killer of our own health, happiness and fulfillment….is our desire to make other people happy.
Because sure, people pleasers are some of the nicest, most helpful you will ever meet.
But they can also be the most drained, exhausted, and unhappy people you will ever meet, as well.
By saying “no” to what is NOT important, you will have more time for what IS important. Relationships. Hobbies. Your health.
And the older I get, the more I realize that TIME is our most valuable resource. You can’t get it back. And many of us give it away far too liberally. Without leaving enough for ourselves.
And so, over the last year, I have pissed a lot of people off. I have said no, when I normally would have said yes. And I have even heard the words, “I am so disappointed in you,” on more than one occasion.
I am a single mother.
I am an entrepreneur.
I am a vegetarian.
I am not a milk drinker.
I am someone who will ask her parents to babysit, on the regular, just to workout.
And I guarantee you.....one (or all) of those things piss someone off.
[Insert complaint letter from Dairy Industry]
I’m going off-script. I am ditching the people-pleasing mask (although, not perfectly, I might add).
And I am embracing the wild bush-girl spirit. With everything I have.
Confession time. I've been a naughty girl this year. And Santa knows it.
Yesterday was my third-ever Fit Fest event. An event that involves making our way from gym to gym (much like a pub crawl), discovering new and exciting ways to sweat it up.
The first bit? A rockin' good time.
The last bit? An all-out disaster.
Thanks to the annual Santa Claus parade that was making its way through downtown.
As we were all hopping in our cars to get to our final destination, Santa decided to make an appearance, waving at us all.....with a facetious grin......atop his high and mighty thrown.
With grinch-like loathing, we all gripped our steering wheels, inching our way through grid-lock traffic.
Some of us made it out alive, arriving the gym nearly an hour late. Only to realize that the bad-ass Krissy, who was supposed to kick our asses, was at a completely different location.
I swear to god, one of the iron pumping gym-goers was wearing bell-topped elf shoes, giggling away at our misfortune.
All this to say, mistakes happen.
And as much as we plan. We prepare. We over-think. Things don't always go as expected.
I see this with my son Liam, all the time. He has been gifted/cursed with the perfectionist gene. And in learning how to read, he struggles hard with his missteps and the muddled mistakes.
He cries and cries, trying to sound out the word "here."
And as much as I try to tell him, "it's ok if you make don't get it right, darling." He doesn't believe me.
It's a hard lesson to learn.
Because so often, we become paralyzed with fear over getting it wrong. And we let "I don't know how to do this" stop us in our tracks.
But guys, this is life.
Life doesn't ever go the way we plan.
Life itself is uncertain.
I mean, it's the very reason why blooper reels exist (and why they are so often the best part of any movie)! It is the very reason why America's Funniest Home Videos was such a huge success.
Shit happens. Unexpectedly. And we can sympathize with those who walk into a glass patio door. Because we all do that kind of thing, at one time or another.
And guys, I'm gonna be completely honest. After yesterday's failed event, I could feel the fear bubbling up under the surface. The temptation to walk in my front door, crawl into bed, and bawl my eyes out. I could feel the self-ridicule, and the thoughts of......everyone is going to think I'm such an imposter......a failure of a coach......a loser.
But if there's one thing I've learned, it is this: Mistakes are not a reflection of your worth.
Let me say that again.
Mistakes are not a reflection of your worth.
And so......what if we shifted our perspective on the whole "making mistakes" thing? After all.....our experience changes entirely, based on what we focus on.
What if instead of fearing uncertainty, we leaned into our mistakes, learned from them, and became stronger on the other side?
What if instead of letting "I don't know how do this" imprison us.....we let it free us?
What if we deliberately dove into experiences that we would likely fail at? What if we chose to embrace a flawed existence?
Something to work on, for sure.
Something to practice.
And something to bring awareness to.
In the meantime, I'm going to get my kids to write their letters to Santa this afternoon. I have a feeling they have a few things they'd like to say to the jolly old soul. As do I.