You Can’t Make Everyone Happy

I received a really nice review of my podcast recently on a blog. It feels good to receive a gold star on our creative endeavors, right? After I read her write-up of my podcast, I decided to peruse the iTunes reviews, too.

Amid the several positive reviews of my podcast was one really negative review. It wasn’t one of those mean-spirited kind that we can just pass of as a hater. This was a legitimate person who just didn’t like my style. She felt I sounded uncomfortable on the mic, and she also didn’t like that I read my blog posts verbatim. Centered with Nikki Novo is just not her cup of tea.

Of course, I was down for a second, but then I realized this is a classic example of, “You can’t please everyone.”

When someone disapproves of us or our work, we take it personal. We believe that somehow their statement is proof that we are not enough. Why is it that we can feel good about ourselves one minute and then really shitty the next simply because we heard a not-so favorable comment?

We live in a world of opposites. Some people prefer warm and others cold. Some people like their water at room temperature and others absolutely hate it. Does that mean we should ban room temperature water and all the people who drink it? Obviously, no.

In Don Miguel Ruiz’s book “The Four Agreements,” the second agreement is to not take anything personal. “Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves,” he writes.

Some people are not going to like the way we show up in the world because they have different expectations of what we should look like; like the podcast listener who expected something other than my blogs being read aloud. Others are going to feel shitty inside because of their own traumas and they say things to hurt us so we too feel their pain.

There are so many reasons, yet dissecting their motives is not our job. Our job is to remember to not take these statements as the truth of who we are. We are not to take on these projections as our own inner selves.

We are also not to strive to make those people who do not agree with us, happy. Imagine if I would take down all my podcast episodes and rework it so I can make that one listener happy. First off, what about all the other people who do enjoy the podcast? And second, what if I make something different and that listener is still not happy?

Our job is always to do our own inner work. We are asked to be so strongly centered that even when we do receive outside opinions, we can still tell the difference between what is in alignment with our truth and what is not.

You do you, my friend. I will do me. And let’s agree to never look back. The world will be better for it.

How to Get Over the Fear of Failure

The last few years have felt like one small failure after the other. I would start one thing, not be able to finish, and go to the next, which also never reached completion.

A few months ago, I found myself on the metaphorical floor surrounded by several incomplete projects, which of course, felt like several failures. Obviously, I felt completely shitty about myself, but in addition I also felt resentful because of the time I had wasted by not getting life right. 

WE CREATE FAILURE BY TRYING TO AVOID IT

I wondered why I didn’t complete all of those projects. I realized most of the incompletes were projects that I thought I should do. You know, the kind of actions that those around us expect us to do. Or those “safe” steps we try to make, rather than facing the unknown that comes from following our inner compass.

By evading my inner voice, I thought I could avoid all risk. I would take on these projects that required less of my heart and more of my analytical mind, which I thought would be safe. So I would start them, but just after a few months in, I could feel a part of my inner light dim.

Not being able to sustain that numb feeling for too long, I would back out of the project and wallow in that lost feeling. You know… that failure feeling mixed with what-am-I-doing-with-my-life feeling.

I thought by taking this “safe” route, I would actually dodge failure. I thought I would follow some steps, put plans into action, and all would be great. If I could just follow the blueprint, I wouldn’t fail.

But what happens when our heart won’t let us follow the blueprint?

Whenever we’re on the wrong path, a part of us knows its wrong and it will warn us in whatever way possible. A lot of the times, we’re stubborn and we’ll let the madness go on just so we can prove a point.  But inevitably, what may look like a success on the outside begins to feel like a failure on the inside.

So by trying to avoid the feeling of failure, we took a safe route that we just couldn’t follow anymore. Which leaves us feeling what? Like a failure.

DON’T LET FEAR MAKE THE DECISIONS

The other failures came from starting to follow my heart, but then backing out once it felt scary and unsafe. I would keep one foot in a heart-driven project and one foot out just in case I needed to run. And I would always run.

Letting fear drive my actions is what actually caused me to fail. The consent stream of future thoughts of catastrophe running through my mind sacred me so much that I would just decide to stop. As a result, I felt lost and not sure of what my path even looked like anymore.

IS THERE SUCH A THING AS FAILURE?

We’re often told that there is no such thing as failure. Honestly, I don’t buy it. Failure is a real word in the dictionary. The definition that sticks out to me the most is, “the omission of expected or required action.”

In my experience, failure happens when I don’t follow through. Sometimes I don’t follow through because I realize it’s the wrong thing for me and sometimes because I’m afraid that it will, well, fail.

So yes, in my book, failure is real. What is optional is feeling like a failure. The feeling of being a failure is different from experiencing failure.

DOES FAILURE MAKE OUR JOURNEY SLOWER?

I recently had a client come in for a reading and a healing. She asked the question, “Have I done anything wrong in the past that has made my journey slower?” in other words: were her past fails slowing her down.

Her profound question was answered by the angels around her: Sure, our fails slow us down, but they were meant to happen. When we come into this lifetime, even our failures are in the plan. God knows when we’re going to make mistakes and fall off track. Failures are in the map of our life, so we can’t really argue that they slow us down. The delays were on the itinerary.

What we can do is make less decisions from fear and more from faith. From that place, a perceived failure may be just something that didn’t pan out as plan, which in the end is just a different result and not a fail. And just because we experience failures doesn’t mean we are a failure

5 Ways to Enjoy the Moment When Traveling

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The kids are almost done with school; meaning vacation is on the mind. We have a few getaways planned, but the one I’m most excited about is our family trip to San Diego.

First off, we’ve never been on a plane as a family, which should be interesting. Plus, we’re going to visit my younger brother who moved to California earlier this year. And, as a bonus, we get to attend my really good friend’s wedding in Temecula, while little bro hangs with the kids. Epic trip in the making.

So yes, I’ve been researching things to do, booking hotels, and planning outfits in my head. What’s funny is that the planning process can be almost just as satisfying as the trip itself. My brain associates the planning with pleasure, so it really doesn’t matter if I’m on the trip or not.

But I must admit, as a silent worrier, I sometimes think about the planning being more enjoyable than the actual experience. What if after all this build up, the trip itself is anticlimactic?

It happens, right? Trips go by so fast, and sometimes we don’t do a great job at enjoying. So this trip, I am “planning” to be a mindful vacationer, which means I’m going to squeeze every last drop from this getaway. Here’s how I plan on doing it.

1.    Use Your Senses

I remember being on this boring tour bus during our honeymoon and watching my thoughts drift to work. I was physically in Mexico, but mentally at my desk. Awful.

Yes, parts of our trips can be slow, but how can we make a conscious effort to enjoy the moment? When I find myself drifting to another place, I play this game where I turn on one of my senses. Meaning, I’ll focus on hearing only or touching only. And I do my best to ignore the other senses.

This little game really brings you to the moment, and you end up experiencing life like never before. You can even do it somewhere you go every day, and it will still seem really cool. Try it!

2.   Be Grateful

Traveling is fun, but it can also be super annoying at times. I can just imagine getting through the five-hour flight with the two kids (and my very irritable husband). At these moments, we have to be thankful for what we are experiencing. Even just thankful to be out of the day-to-day routine. When we go through our trip saying thank you to the universe, we’re sure to add extra happy feelings to our trip.

3.   Keep a Journal

After college, I traveled Europe with a few of my besties. One thing I committed to that I’m really happy I did was keep a journal. Jotting down my experiences at the end of each day made me grateful for everything I had, plus years later, I’m able to look back in a way that goes deeper than just photos. Another bonus: journaling can help make the “boring” times of a trip go by faster.

4.   Allow Yourself to Disconnect

This is a biggie, right? My work requires me to be connected all the time. The same is true for my husband. When it comes to vacay, we have to make an effort to shut it all off — even if it’s just for a few hours.

First off, we owe it to ourselves. And second, what is happening in my Instagram feed is not as exciting as what is happening in my real life, right?

5.   Enjoy for You and Not for the Camera

With social media envy being a real thing these days, it’s really easy to accidentally stage a “YOLO” photo for the sake of our newsfeed. We’ve all done it. But the worst is when we plan out our days based on getting the best Snapchat content or Instagram pic.

If a good shot happens, awesome. But if it doesn’t that’s okay. Because at the end of the day, you’re the one who needs to know you’re having fun. Not anyone else. Let's see our vacays through our own eyes and not out our smart phone's screen.

A huge thank you to Hilton Garden Inn for inspiring this #HGIBrightIdeas post and for caring enough to sponsor content about mindful traveling. For more of my adventures as a member for the Bright On team, check out my Instagram feed here.

 

Why we Need to Ask for Help

I don’t always feel supported. I often feel like I’m carrying the weight of my kids, my husband, our businesses, and my life on my back. As if, it’s just me and no one else.

Based off all my early teachings, I should feel good about being able to carry so much weight. After all, our generation of women has been taught that independence is highest achievement.

With that trophy comes a feeling of heaviness, and ultimately resentment towards the people who I claim are throwing the pounds my way.

I find myself taking it out on the easiest targets. You know, the people who are closest to me: the kids, my husband, and even poor Foxy.

Is it really their fault? If I think about it, I trained them to be this way. I sold them on the idea that I am Super Woman in the flesh. How lucky are you that you married (or your mom is) Super Woman?

And while I can keep that persona up for an impressive amount of time, at some point I crack. The result? Someone gets hurt. More often than not, it’s the innocent person who trusted me with blind faith because I told them to. 

Yet, the person I hurt the most is myself. Why? Because when we convince ourselves that we can do it all on our own without asking for help, all we’re doing is setting ourselves for failure. At some point we will fail.

Failure in our everyday lives is defined as not checking everything off our to-do list or not remaining consistent with our new routines. Once we see we’re not hitting those marks, we begin to define ourselves as weak, inconsistent, and a fraud. This definition of self creates a scared and worried person. Scared and worried people find it hard to grab on to the courage needed daily to design our most authentic lives.

What if we could avoid all of this hurt? What if there’s a better way?

ASK FOR HELP

I think there is, and it requires two shifts in our thinking. First, perhaps we are not Super Woman? Meaning, maybe we do need help from others to get everything done. We can get our vision completed, but we need to ask for help, which takes courage. Courage is your real super power. The courage to ask our children, our spouses, our friends, our co-workers, and even strangers for help.

People enjoy helping. It makes them feel good. In fact, we are offered small gestures of help every day. Like the person who opens the door for us or offers to bring out or groceries. Most often, we say no to the small help, which blinds us from the possibility of bigger help. Receiving help in small ways is how we build the muscles to receive (and ask for) help in the bigger ways.

CREATE SPACE IN YOUR TO-DO LIST

Secondly, do we really need to do all that stuff on the to-do list? Which items on the list are there to impress others? Which are the tasks on there that help keep up our perfect person persona? Let’s delete those and never look back.

Where else can we make space on our list? How about all the things we think we “should” be doing? Shoulds are usually other people’s agendas for us, not on our own. We don’t need to fulfill the agendas of others. Let’s take that off, too.

As we add more contributors to our lives and less empty tasks, we begin to feel more supported. It didn’t require extra money or an impossible orchestration of troops. All that is required is the knowing that we are enough as is. We are not considered worthy because of how much we do and how we do it. We are enough just because.

And sure, there are some worldly things that need to be accomplished, but doing them with help and intention is the real way to work smarter and not harder. We are supported. Resentment is simply a choice of thought. The courage to ask for help and clear our lists is also a choice. One choice feels better than the other.

 

How to Discover our Talents and What we're Meant to do in this Life

I remember the first time I felt like a fraud of a creative. I was standing in the short walkway between my office and the deputy editor’s office. Despite being a few months younger than me, she was to become my beloved mentor.

Her confidence wasn’t the obvious type. She wasn’t the archetypical boss. When she walked through the office, you didn’t feel like you needed to straighten up in your chair, close the not-appropriate-for-work screen on your computer, and look alive. It wasn’t her leadership skills, either. It was the faith she had in her craft that had me at hello.

At the time when I met her, I had already brushed shoulders with several professional creatives in the past. I even dated a few. Somewhere in the back of my mind I thought, maybe creative talent would rub off on me like a sticky STD. Like any devoted groupie will tell you, it doesn’t. And even though I had a front-row seat to the show, I was so busy being in awe of the talent that I failed to realize and admit that I wanted to be one, too.

It wasn’t until years later, when I landed my first magazine job, that I was treated as an equal. In her action and her expectations, my deputy editor managed to see me as her fellow writer. Yet, inside my imposture heart, I feared we were anything but alike.

As we stood in the hallway, musing as we often did, she began to tell me about the time she wrote an entry for a child version of Chicken Soup for the Soul when she was in grade school. That is when I realized she was one of those creatives. You know, the kind who always knew they had a love for expression. The kind of artist who was supported and guided from a young age. She was committed to her art, and her art was committed to her.

I imagined her drafting her first published piece in her childhood bedroom with the door slightly open, offering her just enough privacy to create, but also making it very clear that she wasn’t hiding. I presumed her writing had purpose.

As for me, my earliest memories of writing were the times I would lock myself in my bedroom to write my oh-so complicated, high school love stories and those of my friends. No one in my family knew I was writing. And to be honest, I didn’t even know I was writing. It felt more like an impulse — like a necessity.

Although writing felt like a necessity, similar to breathing, it didn’t feel special. The practice was an extension of myself. And for that reason, I never saw it as a gift.

I find this to be true for many artists. Our talents feel so natural that we don’t even notice they are gifts. And since they just feel like one piece of our whole, there’s really no reason to nurture that one specific piece. Eventually, the gift goes unnoticed and, therefore, never cultivated.

Even when I hit that place in my life where I felt dissatisfy with my work, I tried to look back for signs for anything that would signal my purpose. People tell you to find your passion - to look at your past for clues. All my past looked like was extraordinarily ordinary.

As I stood in that hallway in awe of my co-worker’s accomplishment, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “She’s going to figure me out.” Somehow I had found my way into this job as an associate editor at a local magazine. I earned it, yet in a weird way, I always felt like I cheated to get there.

I did not study English literature or journalism at school. The first time I ever read a full novel was in college — and it was chick lit. I was an awful speller, and an overall average student growing up. In other words, I wasn’t being groomed to be a writer. In fact, my talent was so raw that for most of my life I didn’t even know it was there.

THE TWO KINDS OF TALENTS

As the years have gone on, I’ve learned that there are two types of talents: the ones we learn and nurture to reach some level of mastery, and our God-given talents. God-given talents are the ones that surprise us. It’s like that time you picked up a guitar for the first time and realized, “Wow, I feel at home here.” That’s what writing was for me. I had never really practiced it, but once I indulged, I realized I was home.

And then we have learned talents. These are the things we enjoy and because of that, we’ve practice a lot to a point where we’ve reached some level at mastery. Perhaps you played piano growing up. You practice enough to make your talent pretty good, but in the back of your mind, you know you weren’t necessarily made to play piano.

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE

Your gifts are clues towards what you’re supposed to be doing in this lifetime. There is no greater tragedy than leaving our God-given talents dormant. Sometimes we don’t discover them until much later in life. The timing really doesn’t matter. What is important is that we constantly create space to allow those gifts to show themselves.

Giving them space means constantly following our curiosity. The things that spark our interests are always worth pursuing — even if it’s just for a short period of time.

We also want to take our talents seriously. Never ever do we want to pass them off as silly or just a fluke in the talent factory. Absolutely not. They are in you for a reason. Use them, and you will eventually discover why they are there.

Within the practice of using our talents we discover how God intends to use us. And isn’t that what we all want? To be used in the way we were intended to be use. That synchronicity, to me, is an essential part of our individual spiritual paths.

My prayer for you is that you begin to walk it today.