FAN THE FLAMES

What makes you angry? What lights your fire? Come on, we all have that thing. I don’t care how happy or laid back you are (like myself). There’s probably something guaranteed to make you feel that intense, hand shaking, adrenaline surge.


Earlier this week my friend posted on facebook that peace from “lack of tension” isn’t the same as peace from “presence of justice.” And it reminded me of a conversation.


About a year ago, my brother asked me why I don’t feel strongly, or speak up about, a certain issue. And for a minute, I didn’t have an answer.


What’s wrong with me? Why am I not fired up about the things everyone else is fired up about? Am I lazy? Am I afraid? Am I a bad person?


But you see, I do have fire. I have this burning fire that won’t go away. And after I’d collected my thoughts, I spoke up. Not about women’s issues, or politics, or the tension in our country, but about the thing that makes my hands shake. The thing that makes me feel like I could launch off the ground like a rocket and move mountains.


I’m not saying those other things aren’t important. They are everything. And I will support those that have a platform. But the only way to change the world is to start with your own.


It’s easier to stay in a bad relationship than experience the pain and rebuild something new.


It’s easier to let your kids stare at an iphone for a few hours than engage and teach them values and good habits.


It’s easier to have a boss tell you what to do than create something on your own that might not work.


Most people are afraid of the tension that comes with stepping out, thinking for yourself, doing the work, and creating change.


But not us. You and I will speak up. Engage. And support the other voices that are different from our own.


Because the world needs you to do the work that only you can do.


As Oprah says, “Speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”


So I’m committed to speaking up, even when it’s uncomfortable, even when it creates tension, even when it’s easier to let someone else do it for me.


Fan the flames.

Make Shit Happen Like Arianna Huffington

"Vera, we're not going to make it. Krog Street Market closes in 10 minutes, and we still have to lock up our bikes." Her smile disappeared and my heart sank.

Earlier this week I was listening to Arianna Huffington's interview on The Tim Ferriss Show (podcast episode 274). You know why I love Arianna Huffington? Because when she wants something, she goes after it. And even more so... she knows what she wants.

So where did she get all that clarity, gumption and drive? 

When Arianna was a teenager in Greece, she found a picture of Cambridge in a magazine. She decided she wanted to go to school there. Of course, as people do, everyone told her all the reasons why she couldn't go to Cambridge, including her father.

But her #boss mama takes her aside and says, "Arianna, let's figure how you can go to Cambridge!" So they saved up and bought the cheapest flights to London they could find. They had no appointment, they didn't speak English, and they couldn't afford to get in. But they went anyway.

You see, her mom knew a secret. She knew that experiencing Cambridge first hand would create a vision compelling enough to move mountains. In London, they saw students walking around campus, they heard the voices, they smelled the air. And it worked! Arianna went back to Greece and started learning English right away. She applied for every scholarship she could find, and started saving up to travel.

We all know how that story ends... Arianna learned English, she was awarded a scholarship, she got into Cambridge, became the President of the Debate Club, started Huffington Post in 2005, and her latest project, Thrive, in 2016 - oh, and she published 15 books. 

Hard work was essential, but without her compelling vision, something so tangible she could taste it, she may not have had the courage to keep trying and ignore all the No's.

But sometimes, things don't work out the way we expect. And that's OK too, but you have to try. The things worth having are worth fighting for but without a deep conviction of what we want, we may give up.

Last night, I took my daughter, Vera, on a bike ride. The plan was to get her favorite BBQ when we got back. On the ride home, we passed a frozen yogurt shop.

The mom in me screamed, "DESSERT BEFORE DINNER?? NO WAY!" (but secretly... yes. Definietly yes.)

Seeing my daughters face light up reminded me that people forget what you tell them, but they remember how you made them feel. And this would be a fun, exciting memory for my daughter. 

Plus, the sweet tooth in me screamed louder than the mom in me.

Ummm... oatmeal cream pie bites?! Genius. And yes, that's a candy pumpkin. Notice the healthy fruit I also added.

Vera was thrilled, but kept insisting that we still go to the BBQ restaurant.

She was so jacked up in such a good mood after the frozen yogurt that instead of biking back, we walked our bikes down the path. We watched as the sun set and the moon came into view. We pointed out the few stars we could see beyond the city lights. We admired all the street art on walls and bridges. As we got closer to home, Vera excitedly told me what she was going to order at the BBQ place, and why it was her favorite.

Shit... the BBQ place! I looked at my phone and realized how late it was getting. It had taken us twice as long to walk back.

"Vera, we're not going to make it. Krog Street Market closes in 10 minutes, and we still have to lock up our bikes."

Her smile disappeared and my heart sank. 

"You know what? Let's just try. We might not make it, but we have to try, right?"​

And so we did. We ran and ran the last stretch of the beltline path, and quickly locked our bikes to a pole. We threw open the doors to Krog Street Market and ran to the BBQ place... and guess what??

It was closed.​

Apparently, while we were running down the beltline, they were running out of meat. We never stood a chance. They had closed early, but to my surprise, Vera happily settled for a cheeseburger.

You know what she'll remember about last night? It won't be missing the BBQ or disappoinment. She'll think about that frozen yogurt. She'll remember that no matter how far we walked, the moon seemed to follow us. And even though we didn't get any BBQ, it wasn't from a lack of effort. Because we're people that try. And sometimes, when you miss out on BBQ, you still get cheeseburgers.

It turns out, the journey along the way was even better than the destination. 

In her interview, Arianna shares that we need to get better at being ruthlessly honest with ourselves, and making sure we're living the life we have chosen, and not what society, our friends or our family expects. When we focus on creating something from what's inside us, we will find peace and the resilience to keep going.

Unfortunately, we've all been taught something different -- a lie. We've been taught that we need to keep up with people around us, strive for what society tells us is important, and that bigger metrics = bigger goals. But that's wrong. Most of us are too busy and too overwhelmed to chase what we truly desire, let alone even know what that is.

The dream that compells the most honest and authentic version of yourself is the one that deserves your aggressive focus.

What are you creating in your life right now?

Is the vision compelling enough to pull you forward?

Is it your vision or someone elses?

Does it keep you up at night and get you out of bed in the morning?

If the answer is no, then dig deeper and redefine it. Make it real. And also drink more coffee.

Beautifully Broken

They say that life is what happens while you’re busy making plans.

Well, no one plans on getting divorced, being a single parent, walking through cancer with family or burying loved ones: but in those dark life moments, you discover all the pieces of what you’re made of.

And if those pieces don’t come together anymore, you can fill the cracks with gold.

You can, if you wish, change yourself and your circumstances to move in whatever direction you want to go. With this attitude comes freedom, but also the responsibility of how your reality unfolds. You can’t control all the ways life will break you, but you can make something beautiful with the pieces.

What will you create in your life?