How Feminism (And Other Isms) Should On Us

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

A few weeks ago I got an email from a 23-year-old woman, Liberty, who had watched my TEDx talk. After reading her email, I asked if I could share it with you because I was struck by the nature and source of her shoulds.

From her email (emphasis mine):

Listening to what you had to say made me realize that I have, up until now, been living my life based on “shoulds”.

I refused to go into any career that is dominated by females (like the fashion industry) because intelligent women “should” use their brains for more noble purposes like advancing women’s equality and breaking the glass ceiling in male-dominated industries like finance, etc….(All this, despite the fact that fashion has been a passion of mine from a young age and I have a knack for anything related to the subject).

I have always wanted to start a business & become rich so that I can travel freely, contribute to philanthropic causes, and support my family for generations to come. However, I have downplayed this desire for wealth because society says that people “shouldn’t” make wealth a priority for fear of appearing selfish.

And the list goes on.

I’d like to believe that feminism is about freedom of choice, about opportunities to be who you are without having to fight against ridiculous prejudices based on gender.

And yet…

It’s so easy for a Thing Worth Fighting For to become a Thing That Everyone Should Want.

Like having a career and a family.

Like women working in technology.

Like accepting your current body weight.

Like traveling full-time, or working for yourself, or owning less than 100 things, or any number of things that are perfectly good ideas.

But maybe not everyone wants to get rid of their stuff or travel the world or work on robots. That’s OK, too.


We humans are so prone to evangelism. We find The Way and The Truth and The Light and we cannot help ourselves from running out and telling everyone about it.

And there is nothing wrong with the telling. It’s the pushing and the converting and the judgment that becomes a problem.

Of course, one person’s pushing and converting and judging doesn’t have to become another person’s problem.

Remember that the world needs revolutionaries and keepers of tradition. We need homemakers and code breakers.

And perhaps your passion doesn’t come with the hope of a Nobel Prize or a spot on Oprah or even a TEDx talk – but if it is yours it will come with every single thing you need in this life.

Don’t let yourself be bullied by isms. Believe in the purpose of your happiness, even if no one else gets it.

You do you.

How to Meditate Without Actually Meditating

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

I’ve been working with a coaching client who is going through a period of transition. One thing we kept coming back to is that she wanted to be more present, more in the moment, and that doing so would make it easier for her to manage all the change and uncertainty in her life.

As soon as we uncovered that she needed mindfulness, I brought up meditation.

“The problem is I hate meditating,” she said, “and I’m no good at it.”

“What happens when you try to meditate?” I asked.

“Well, I try using those guided meditations and they work the first few times, but then it seems like they stop working and I’m back to my mind wandering all over the place.”

This made perfect sense to me. I love guided meditations, but I’ve learned that I can only listen to the same one a couple times in a row before the effects seem to wear off. I think it’s because after a few times I begin to anticipate what’s going to happen.

That doesn’t mean anticipation is always a bad thing, but it was definitely getting in the way of my client’s mission to be mindful. Fortunately, there’s more than one way to pull your attention back to what’s happening right now.

how to meditate without meditation

3 Ways to Be Mindful Without Meditating

1. Make the kitchen a distraction-free zone.

Cooking and eating offer great opportunities for mindfulness because there is so much your senses can absorb – if you’re paying attention. You can get lost in the scents, the colors, the tastes, the rhythm of chopping, and the sound of foods sizzling. Or you can miss all that because you’re checking your email while the hamburger browns or watching a movie while you throw together a salad.

Multi-tasking in the kitchen doesn’t just diminish the experience of preparing food. Diet and fitness experts often recommend people trying to lose weight avoid doing anything else when they eat so that their brains can actually register “hey, putting food into your mouth right now, taste it and get ready to feel satisfied!”

Declare your kitchen a tech-free zone and see if you can’t cook up a side of mindfulness.

2. Go for a walk and leave your phone at home.

No, you won’t be able to Instagram the pretty flowers you see or jot down the brilliant ideas you come up with. This is a good way to get used to the idea that not every thought you have needs to be memorialized or shared.

I say that knowing full well how terrifying that can be. As a writer, I’m constantly afraid that my best ideas or a perfect turn of phrase is going to be forgotten if I don’t record it the moment it comes into my head. But, I’ve discovered that it’s most often the mediocre thoughts that are lost.

Besides, the world could probably use fewer words and more listening and watching.

3. Limit yourself to one screen at a time.

I’ve noticed recently that the time it takes for an app to open or a program to load on my computer is often too long for me to go without stimulation. So, I pick up my phone and sort of glance at my Twitter feed while I wait.

That? Is insane.

It’s also increasingly more common, at least if the people in my house or any indication. How often do you use a tablet while watching TV? Do you keep your smartphone by your computer to entertain you during browser loading?

Stop it. Stop it right now. Give your brain a 30 second break from stimulation.

Is Technology the Enemy of Mindfulness?

I don’t hate the Internet or television or any other kind of digital entertainment. In fact, I’m grateful for all the ways our gadgets help us to connect.

But for many of us, our brains have gotten so used to constant consumption that all we need to do to jolt ourselves back into the moment is to stop consuming for a second.

Don’t worry about being still and going into your mind. You don’t need to sit cross-legged on a pillow or whisper a single Ohm..

Just unplug from the matrix.

Come back into the world, the tangible one you can see, touch, feel, hear, and smell.

Come back to the place where you aren’t being spoon fed stimulation, thoughts, and entertainment.

Come back to the world that isn’t begging to engage with you but is simply waiting for you to notice.

There are no breadcrumbs to follow or rabbit holes to fall down. You’ll have to choose your steps, be purposeful with your attention.

And that right there is mindfulness.

My Response to “It’s Not Fair!”

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Do you ever feel like life isn’t fair?

You’re not alone. Lots of us – myself included – fall down the “life’s not fair” trap once in a while. In fact, thinking that life isn’t fair because someone else has it better can be a clue as to what your purpose is.

But it can also be a serious mojo killer and screw up your relationships. It’s hard to connect with someone if you’re seething with resentment and jealous.

Watch this video to hear my thoughts on how to overcome that mental obstacle and get back to focusing on making yourself happy.

After you’ve watched the video, tell me in the comments how life has been unfair to you!


The Feminine Success Model

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

I think many of us have been thinking about success all wrong.

And I think it’s time for a major shift.

Earlier this year, I finally read The DaVinci Code. For those of you who haven’t read it, it’s basically a murder-mystery centered around the idea that The Feminine has been systematically removed from Christianity. Religious implications aside, that book got me thinking a lot about the need for balance in the world and the idea of The Feminine being an important counterbalance to The Masculine.

Several weeks after finishing the book, I was sitting at a stoplight when an idea hit me:

Maybe there is a Feminine model for work and success that we’ve been ignoring.

I wondered if some people struggle to be happy and successful simply because we’re operating under a paradigm that doesn’t fit.

In my head, I imagined a triangle and a circle. (I’m a visual thinker.)

success triangleThe triangle represents the current model of success most of us are familiar with: we climb up to succeed by reaching a top that is smaller than the bottom; progression is linear and competition is necessary.

success circle

The circle represents something more… feminine: a model based on cooperation and collaboration rather than competition. Success is measured not by height, but by what’s created, connected, and encircled.

When was it decided that a linear progression towards an ever shrinking top was the one and only way to move through life?

When did we all decide the only thing to do was try to fit round pegs into triangular holes – even if it meant whittling away at the most beautiful parts of ourselves?

In the past year or so I’ve stumbled upon the power of the circle in many different ways. I’ve walked labyrinths as a meditative experience. I’ve coached clients on the circular nature of learning life lessons.

Last month when I was listening to Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto speak about plans for moving forward, he said we needed to move from a top-down model – he made the shape of a triangle with his hands – to a collaborative one. He mimed the shape of a circle.

To me, a circle represents the power of creation. The sun. A pregnant belly. There’s something primal and completely familiar in the circle.

This is, I think, the future for many of us.

Circles. Creation. Collaboration.

A completely new paradigm by which to measure ourselves and our lives.

In this paradigm there is no ceiling to break or ladder to climb.

In this paradigm we cultivate relationships and curate experiences. We make things and share them.

In this paradigm there is still success. There is reward and stability, but it comes from the circulation of resources – the continuous flow of energy – and not from the clamoring to catch what has trickled down from an upper level.

I’m still figuring out exactly what this all means – how it looks in day-to-day life.

So far it means I am avoiding comparisons and stair-step thinking. I’m putting more energy into creating than measuring any sort of climb. I’m making connection and collaboration a necessary part of my work schedule.

But it is a little scary.

I am so used to the linear way. It might not be what fits me best, but it’s what is most familiar. I know how to hold those measuring sticks and use those formulas for planning.

But I just can’t shake this idea that the world needs balance.

I think we need more circles; we need more of The Feminine.

What do you think??

How to Be Happier in 3 Steps

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, or subscribe to the newsletter, there’s a good chance you’ve already heard that the talk I gave at TEDx Grandview Ave this spring is now up at YouTube.

Now it’s blog official, too.

This 18-minute video basically sums up everything I believe about happiness and how to be happier, as well as my own journey in figuring that all out.

This is, without a doubt, my best work to date. Standing on that stage that day I was completely tuned into who I am and what I believe. I showed up and poured everything out.

I am incredibly lucky to have had such a moment captured on video.

I hope you’ll watch it. And, I hope you’ll help me spread the message, because I think we can change the world with it.

I’m convinced that the more of us who are living our purpose, the better place the world will be for all of us to live in.

If you watched the video and you enjoyed it, please take a moment to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, email or whatever makes the most sense for you.

Because everyone deserves to know that their happiness matters.