A yes always requires a no.

A yes always requires a no.

 


Have you ever started something you really wanted to create & found it later unfinished? A blog post? A love letter? An art project? A room of your home? A relationship? A business? Maybe you start it, get part-way through it and say you'll come back to it only to come back to it to see it's incomplete.



We've all done it. We get hyped about something we want to make a reality and leave it when something shinier comes along. And that something shinier doesn't always do us a favor – it can distract us from what we really need to do.



As an entrepreneur, my brain is going 100 miles an hour all the time. (Side note: you don't have to be an entrepreneur to have a busy brain.) When I wake up, I'm staring at the ceiling thinking about work. All day, I work on work. After work, I'm talking about work. Entrepreneur life is not the most conducive to thinking about stuff outside of work. Balance or integration is not easy but it's necessary for a healthy focus. Which is NOT something I've ever been good at – until recently.



When I get bored or run out of things to do, I create more work for myself and my Crew. I start new companies, pivot old ones, build new products, put together new services, create more content – and get way off track. This helps no one – not my clients, my Crew or myself. The business waters get muddied and no one really knows what to do.


I did this exact thing again recently. And it almost wrecked me.


Let me back up for a moment. I started Sisarina, a web marketing agency, in 2009. I NEVER wanted to be the face of the company. I was called “Boss Lady” because I wasn't really much of a boss. I was the leader but I would even use that term loosely. I did EVERYTHING wrong and managed to still come out on top. I had very little focus – we did all sorts of stuff. Websites, marketing, social media, branding, content, brand strategy – lots. I had a hard enough time to getting my own work done while growing a team of incredible professionals. Until I realized how much I hated checking my email wondering who was mad at me and what fire I had to put out.

 




 



A year ago, my Crew convinced me it was time to do what I wanted to do instead of what I felt like I “should” do. I decided to focus on the two things I loved the most – speaking & workshops. I was ready to focus – and it was time to become the face – a personal brand, a public figure.



At first, I tried to hide behind the name Branded Confidence. It was ok to have my face on it but it was a company – right? I didn't have to be “the thing” I sold. Then I decided speaking and workshops weren't enough so I thought “let's start another company to focus on corporate work!” WHAT?! WHY DO I KEEP DOING THIS!? I kept overwhelming myself because [you'll get a kick out of this] – I was afraid of success. <READ I wanna see you be brave>



I wasn't doing it on purpose but I realized that if I kept myself busy and kept doing more, I'd keep from being successful at any one thing. [WHY!? What's the point of that?! Oh yeah, MOST of us do this… It's not just a Melanie thing. Jane of all trades, Mistress of none.] I kept looking around and finding that I was even confusing myself with what I did.



I'm a brand strategist who helps companies tell their brand stories. That's what I'm trained to do. And I'm really good at it – but it doesn't bring me the joy speaking & workshops bring. All I wanted to do was write a book about how to rock your life and teach people how to share their stories. I wanted to share their stories from big stages so others could learn to tell their own stories. But, what do you call THAT? There's no college degree for this. There's no official title for it. The closest I could think was “motivational speaker” but really? #lame



Then, my right-hand-gal (Gisell!) held a mirror in front of me & asked me what I saw if I got to just speak & host workshops. JOY! She told me she'd follow me whichever direction I wanted to go, but we had to focus on one direction – not two.



BAM. So simple, yet so profound. My personal brand + kickass workshops + big stages to share the love = win/win/win.



And I don't have to sit behind a computer all day – I can be with the humans who need what I have to share. YES! Which brings me to this moment right here.



When I started writing this post, I was incredibly UN-focused. I sent notes out to my speakers about getting testimonial videos, started editing an email, got into conversations with my booking manager, checked and posted on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and even called my mom to celebrate a big win. I started a different blog post altogether but after watching my lack of focus, I knew I had to write about focusing. 


 


After finishing the first draft, I took a walk and listened to The RobCast with Rob Bell sharing his Brief Guide to the Undernet – the underside of the internet. He was talking about how we have to choose what we want to do, post, share. And then he said exactly what I needed to hear to focus this post. 


“A yes always requires a no.” – Rob Bell


We're always choosing. One thing for another. And when we say yes to something that doesn't serve us, we're saying no to something that could help us get where we need to go. Am I willing to say no to those things that don't help me focus on my goals?


If I look at my list of projects, I have an overwhelming amount of things going on – unfinished. At least 15 other blog posts sitting in Evernote, Quip or Google Docs somewhere. My computer desktop has a folder called Desktop Stuff where I dump everything I had on my desktop so I can keep it clean – but it's sitting there disorganized anyway – another project. My iPhone photos are in a Dropbox folder unorganized and completely lacking in any search-ability – I even have a person who can organize it for me when I'm ready to pull the trigger – or next time I'm on an airplane without wifi it might get done – if I'm not exhausted. There's a canvas I left in DC that's still white with a sketch on it and paints ready to color it in but I never bothered to paint it. I have a closet full of stuff that needs to be sorted & organized since my move – but it can wait until tomorrow. I need to shave Griffin so he can have a summer cut – maybe after work. I have to write my content for my updated brand – and it's slated for this afternoon but it's been on my to do list for at least two months. My car needs a bath and the office needs to be painted. Sigh.



I've left a LOT of things undone but saying yes to the ones I need to do requires me to say no to the ones I don't need to do. Kacy Paide, my professional organizer friend, would tell me to throw out the stuff I'll never finish and finish the things I want to finish. <Read How to be organized enough> Right now, I'm focused on getting shit done that NEEDS to get done. Getting shit done that requires my attention and that fits my overall goals. FOCUSED on it.



I may not ever get the focus to clear out my to-do list and that's ok. I'm creating and continuing to create things that make me smile, laugh, and grin at random times. All of this gets my inner 7-year-old bouncing around. As Kacy would advise, I'm making a promise to myself to finish everything that gives me joy. And throw away anything that isn't helpful or useful. Because what's the point of this life? To find joy, live in gratitude, and take care of those around us.






So, now it's your turn.


What is unfinished, incomplete, or getting undeserved attention? What do you need to throw away? What are you doing that doesn't fit your goals? And what do you need to start doing so you can be the huge success you were meant to be? Say yes as long as you are willing to say no.



Go – you incredible human – and enjoy this life you're creating. No matter what it looks like. Focus on everything that brings you joy.



 

I wanna see you be brave.

I wanna see you be brave.

“Life is tough, my darling, but so are you.”

– Stephanie Bennett-Henry



It’s 6am. I’m doing something I’ve never done before. And I’m noticing a pattern.


Sitting in my house waiting for the sun to come up – and for this day to be over. I’m miserable. My face is swollen from crying all night. I blink away more tears as I stare at my laptop screen. A spreadsheet featuring a colossal mistake. It shows me every reason NOT to do this. It explains why this will never work. I’ve heard these whispers before – those little a$holes in my head – the ones telling me this is going to be too much and not enough all at the same time. Because I’m too much and not enough…


It’s day one of filming my first professionally-created online course. I’m a wreck.


I am going to be on camera with a professional videographer sharing how to show up in their own confidence while doing something terrifying for most people – speaking on a stage. 


I have my outfits ready. My team is setting up the scenes for me. I have every detail outlined in order with all of the specifics so I don’t forget anything. I have been working on this for a year. AN ENTIRE YEAR! And I had NO problem doing this in person – no problem helping people through my methodology and doing the thing that scares most people as much as death – getting on stage. But the idea of doing the same thing in front of a camera is making me break down. It’s not comfortable. It’s totally new and not at all what I want to do. If I just cry hard enough, they can’t film me.


The whispers are coming at me from all angles and I’m listening to them. They’re winning.


All the whispers tell me:


  •     You need to do more research.
  •     No one will sign up for this.
  •     You won’t price it correctly.
  •     You won’t be good on camera.
  •     Too many people will sign up for this & it’ll get out of control.
  •     You won’t find the right software to make it work.
  •     You don’t have enough prepared.
  •     You’ll find out how many haters you actually have.
  •     You won’t deliver it correctly.
  •     You’ll miss too many pieces.
  •     Someone will say you’re competing with them.
  •     Someone will critique you.
  •     Someone will hate you.
  •     You will suck.
  •     You already suck.


I KNOW the whispers mean I’m on the right track. I know this is a HUGE project and it will make a ginormous impact. I know that when something big is about to happen, EVERYTHING will try to prevent it.


Both times we’ve hosted Rock Your Talk, the precursor for this online course, something has come up for almost every speaker the week of the event. A dying family member, a friend going through a rough patch, business getting overwhelming –  they start doubting themselves – those negative whispers get louder- and it’s because they’re on the right track. If they overcome it and get on the stage, they show up even more brilliantly.




(Shala W. Graham rocking the stage at Rock Your Talk – credit: Mary Gardella)


During the week of filming SPEAK With Confidence (launching in Q1 2018),  every bit of negativity I was holding in my body surfaced. The same thing happened to me when I started the podcast. And it’s even showing up doing something I know I’m good at doing – WRITING THIS POST! EVERYTHING has prevented me from starting AND finishing this. Excuses ranging from not being interesting enough for someone to read – to not being able to breathe or focus at altitude. SERIOUSLY?! MELANIE! WTF?!


But guess what? I know exactly what I’m terrified of… and it’s kept me from the success I really want in my life AND my business – and it’s getting ridiculous.


I’m afraid of being… SUCCESSFUL.


And I’m sabotaging the shit out of myself.



Whenever I share my fear of success, someone always says “Oh, wow. I definitely don’t have that. I’m afraid of failure.” I mean, it makes sense. The only fears we’re born with are falling on our faces and loud noises, so a fear of failure is basically innate. If you want to look at it figuratively, failure is a bit like falling on your face. But what I’ve found is the craziest? We actually can’t fall on our faces when we’re standing in our own way.


I am a 6’ tall powerhouse of a woman – and I’m standing in my very own way. I am strong – so dang strong. I know this well because I will fight myself every step of the way to something amazing – with excuse after excuse on why I can’t do it. Anytime someone hears that I’ve had a tough time creating something or doing something, they’re blown away. “You make it looks so easy.” I’m SO glad it looks easy because it was anything but.



Without realizing it, I’m not asking myself “What if I fail?”, I’m really asking “What happens if I make it?” and “What if my excuses don’t work and I end up getting everything I’ve ever wanted?” And my favorite: “What if I don’t have to struggle anymore?”


WHAT?! yeah. Fear of success.


I’ve done this in my career, my business, my relationships, my family – really asking myself “WHAT IF IT IS AMAZING?!”


Ah, but there lies the problem: the struggle is SO GOOD!


Humans thrive for the struggle, the conflict – the certainty AND uncertainty. Tony Robbins talks about the top four Needs of the Personality: certainty, uncertainty, significance, and connection.


Certainty is getting the safety and stability – the comfort we need.

Uncertainty is where we love surprises – the need to shake things up.


When we have too much stability, we crave the variety. When things are unstable for too long, we crave certainty. (Are you feeling it?!)


When I travel too much, I want to be home.

When I’m home too long, I can’t wait to travel.

When I work too much, I want peace.

When I have too much quiet, I crave the busy schedule.

When I am lonely, I crave humans.

When I have too much of the humans, I crave solitude.


The struggle is REAL! And once we accept it, we can finally move on to do the thing we’re meant to do.


Remember, I’m a powerhouse of a woman standing in my own way! This fear of success? It’s WAY harder to get through than the fear of failure. Failure is inevitable. Failure is how we figure out success. Failure isn’t an option. (I know, I know… you’ve heard all of the inspirational quotes.) But it takes bravery – bravery to stand up to your fears and do what is inside of you to be successful – which, in turn, creates impact.


If you’ve been waiting for it, this is your sign.


It’s time to be BRAVE!



The last month of 2017, I had to find my brave. I moved my DC life 2000 miles away to another DC – Denver, Colorado. I did this while recording an entire online course, closing out the end of the year, taking care of clients, rocking a few workshops, speaking in different states, training a new employee, packing boxes and bags, and driving in a MINI with all of the things I’ll need for half a year – including my boyfriend and my dog. No big deal. (Insert wide-eyed emoji)


Rewind to the beginning of that month when I had kickass habits – running, meeting my trainer twice a week, homemade meals, not drinking booze, reading books, meditating, getting to work early, writing at 5am, etc. Everything was simple – I was rocking my business and my life. Until every bit of certainty I had was ready for a big surprise.


I had decided to move from DC to Denver after 11 years – and 11 hours later, I had manifested that shit. With almost zero effort to rent my house and find a furnished house to rent in Colorado – No joke. I know it was a God thing, but I also know that when you’re ready for something, you name it and put in the work, it manifests. I was ready for uncertainty, but I didn’t realize how much I was in for – but then, I’ve always loved the struggle.


Right after making that decision, I was told to slow down.

In a SUPER painful way.


With WAY too much on my mind, I went for a run. It’s the only way I know to clear my mind. Within 3 minutes of starting, I tripped and fell – skinning both knees and both hands – OUCH! I limped home and shook it off. Three days later, I went for a run again to clear my head. At the end of 5 miles, I tripped and fell on the same spots – ripping off all of my scabs. (shudder) I cried. I bawled. I sobbed the half mile home with blood dripping down my knees and hands. I screamed in the shower. I felt like a huge failure. I couldn’t wear pants for weeks. I was a mess. (Don't worry, I won't share the photos.) And it took me some time to realize that I had too much on my mind to go for a run… Even if that’s what helps me clear my head. Then… my habit disappeared. As quickly as I fell.


For the next few weeks, it took every bit of effort to talk myself into getting out of bed each morning. To workout. To meditate. To not lay on the floor of my bedroom scrolling through my social media feeds trying not to think about everything else I have to do. To not just pour myself a glass of wine. To not just go pick up something to eat. To not find another distraction. And I found them all. My habits broke down quicker than I ever imagined they could. Because I let them.


BECAUSE I LET THEM.


I had all of these certain habits that helped me be successful and as soon as uncertainty showed up, I broke down. Without my routine, the feelings of utter failure showed up in my chest every time I was a little behind. The anxiety wells up and I start shutting down. Without my routines and habits, I lose sight of what really needs to happen in my life and my eyes glaze over – literally and figuratively – giving me every excuse not to do what I KNOW I’m meant to do.

 


This is where I was at 6am the first day of the filming. I hadn’t run in 3 weeks. I hadn’t been eating super healthy. I hadn’t been sleeping well. My calendar kept getting moved around. I had more on my plate than I could handle. I woke up every day with mounting anxiety. Everyone forgave me for canceling because they knew what was going on. Yes, I had people to help – but my mind was set that I couldn’t possibly succeed at everything.


So, that morning I decided I wasn’t willing to do the filming. I was ready to call everyone and tell them I was canceling the shoot and we’d have to wait until later in the year. Until Gisell, my Helpful Human, walked into my bedroom to find me crying and asked my puffy face the question that changed everything.


“What are you really afraid of?”


The word walked out of my mouth as if I had known it all along: Mediocrity.


I was standing in my own way with my hands on my hips worrying about being MEDIOCRE. Mediocre is something I don’t understand. I’ve never done anything mediocre in my life. It’s against everything in my nature to do anything half-assed or crap.


I was making more work for myself because I was worried that I wouldn’t do my best. I wasted hours and hours worrying instead of doing – when I had ALL of the information already inside of me. I was deciding NOT to do ANYTHING because I was worried it wouldn’t be perfect – or enough… those negative voices had ended up making me believe I wasn’t enough. So, I sat there crying and deciding nothing was better than something.


Wasn’t I the one who says “Do epic shit” and “Manifest that shit” and “Wear your awesome” when people are having a tough time? And I was the one sitting on my bed crying about doing a video shoot!? WHO AM I?!


  


Oh yeah, I’m the woman going through a laundry list of the most stressful situations ALL AT THE SAME TIME. I needed encouragement – the same kind I send to so many. The same kind people reach out to me to give them. And I had NO idea how to ask. So I posted a note on my FB wall saying that I was struggling. I got a TON of incredible response to motivate me as I got in front of the camera, but one sweet woman sent this to me offline:


“There are so many perfectly boring, uncreative, uninspired people who make changes, are affiliated with good products, etc.  It's almost embarrassing how much mediocrity succeeds in our society. YOU ARE NOT MEDIOCRE.  You are exceptional, you have a vision, energy and intelligence to do what want to do.  And you have a thoughtfulness and intention . . . so don't waste your damn time on self doubt.


Think of all the crap out there —  even if you don't complete something to your vision of excellence — you know it is going to be 10 times better than all the mediocrity.  And remember, we learn by upgrading our models — so put your stuff out there, test it, upgrade it and move forward.  Don't doubt — it's a waste of time.  Just talk to yourself as if you were talking to a client.”



Every time you doubt yourself, read that.


After that teary-eyed morning, I filmed the course. And guess what?! It was all inside of me. EVERY SINGLE BIT OF IT! All I had to do was show up and start. I haven’t even seen the videos yet, but I know it’s going to be amazing – because I’ve already done the hardest part – I had to stop sabotaging myself. And I could have done that WAY quicker had I kept up my good habits – my routine. It was there to support me and I abandoned it along with myself. Until I was forced to show up.



I don’t want to think of what would have happened if I hadn’t walked downstairs and made it happen – because I did it. And I’m already successful, even if the course doesn’t go the way I expect. Even if it’s not perfect. Even if I need to upgrade it later. It’s perfectly imperfect just as it is. And SO many people will be able to benefit from my own bravery.


That pattern I was talking about – the one where I stand in my way – this is me admitting I have a pattern and it’s time to break it. By publishing this post, I’m breaking it. I almost threw it out but realized that meant I was doing something that would be impactful by sharing. I almost quit the filming but I know it’s the first step of many to give others a way to share their story. 


But this post isn’t about me. This is about you. I’m only sharing my shit so you can see how f*ing hard this is for me. The behind-the-scenes is never easy. And the smoother something looks, the harder it was. You’re reading it because you needed to hear this – so you could stop standing in your own way. Step aside, you have big things to do!


I want you to know that you are already successful – just because you showed up for yourself. I am proud of you for being ready for what’s next. It’s up to you to make shit happen. So…


What does your brave look like?


And when are you going to #manifestthatshit?


 




 



DO THE THING:


  1. Download the Manifest That Shit worksheet.
  2. Jump into the Kickass Humans Club and let’s do it together.
  3. Make sure you’re on the list to find out when SPEAK With Confidence launches


 


Curating Curiosity

Curating Curiosity

“I have a newfound passion for curiosity.”


– KiKi L’Italien  


KiKi L’Italien is a powerhouse. If you couldn’t tell by her amazing presence and bold lipstick, then you’d definitely understand who she is when she calls herself the “Oprah of the Association industry”  and the curator of the curious. KiKi is CEO of the digital marketing agency, Amplified Growth, and founder/owner of Association Chat, which is a community for association members.  


This week, we discuss how she turned her hobby into a business, why weird is better, and reframing what generosity means. We also talk about the tactics KiKi used to exercise her curiosity and you get to hear her seriously gush about her daughter, Margot, at the end.


What makes YOU curious? Watch to find out KiKi's answer.



We even find KiKi’s personal brand during this episode – and in case you didn’t already know: KiKi is larger than life. She loves music, is a runner, likes to cook, is curious, generous, and a very thoughtful human.



To finish things off, here’s Margaux featured on her YouTube channel Gøgøs cørner_/goals. Here she is giving tips on interview for YouTubers. I can totally see why KiKi gushed!




CONNECT WITH HER: 


Join the Kickass Humans Club



In Her Words: KiKi is Curious (duh). Optimistic (mostly). Resilient (proven). Playful (often). Moody (unfortunately).


Instagram: @kikilitalien


Twitter: @kikilitalien


Facebook: KiKi L'Italien


LinkedIn: KiKi L'Italien


Website: www.amplifiedgrowth.net




Find out more: http://brandventurespodcast.com  

Subscribe on SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/brandventures

Subscribe on iTunes: http://bit.ly/brandventures

Kickass Humans Club: http://bit.ly/KHCgroup

Show up and SHOW OFF

Show up and SHOW OFF

“I stopped waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel and lit that bitch on fire.”


It’s my birthday today and I have to admit that I am enjoying the heck out of getting older. One year ago today I was preparing for a year of change. I was working out how to end a relationship, blow up my business, and unbeknownst to me, getting ready to dig deep into why I’m on this earth.


In celebration of this last year of blowing things up, here’s my birthday wish for you: I want YOU to light a huge blaze. I want you to make a decision to SHOW UP every day – beginning today.



My birthday wish is for you – the person who feels lost and empty, the human struggling to find out who you really are, the one who’s really trying to show up and show off. It’s time to light that shit on fire. My wish for you is to start showing up and showing off.


So, what are you waiting for? All it takes is one decision and one step.


 




CONNECT WITH ME: 


Join the Kickass Humans Club


Instagram: @Melaniespring


LinkedIn: Melanie Spring


Twitter: @Melaniespring


Facebook: Melanie Spring




Find out more: http://brandventurespodcast.com  

Subscribe on iTunes: http://bit.ly/brandventures

Kickass Humans Club: http://bit.ly/KHCgroup

When did we stop dancing like nobody’s watching?

When did we stop dancing like nobody’s watching?

“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching. Love like you’ll never be hurt. Sing like there’s nobody listening. And live like it’s heaven on earth.” – William Purkey


 


We have forgotten to play. To be kids. To do things we love – just because.


 


Sitting in bed scrolling through my Instagram feed, I wonder to myself why I’m not reading a book instead. I set a deadline and start a conversation – an hour goes by. I realize it’s past my bedtime – and plug in my phone and start the noise machine. Tomorrow – tomorrow I’ll meditate and get some reading in. Until the next morning comes and I’m off and running again only to find myself in bed the next night mindless scrolling. Why is that?! Why do I need the brain drain?


 


When I was a kid, I loved to listen to music, read books, write in my journal about the boy I met, flip through magazines to find new styles, learn something new, draw sketches of what my house would look like someday, write poetry, play my piano, sing out loud, dance like a maniac, laugh out loud, sit next to a stream and just listen. The simple things – quiet things – and at some point, I grew up.


 


I get wrapped up in being adult. Going hard at work all day, thinking about work when I’m not at work, making excuses for not having creative time, not painting the blank canvas on my wall, not taking time to just breathe or meditate, skipping my writing time (which is my favorite time!), pretending my workouts are "my time", and getting caught up in the world outside of my own online. Yes, I do like to play – but not like I used to. I don’t make time for it. 


 


That all changed recently. I went to entrepreneur sleepaway camp (Camp Maverick) in the Berkshire Mountains and when I got home, a friend asked what I got out of it.


 


"Dance every chance you get, leave your heart open, and say yes to everything that feels good.” 


 


He said it reminded him of a quote. My response: “You’re right – people quote it, but few actually dance, love, sing, or live it.”


 


Last summer, I went to the same camp and walked away feeling angsty. It was a fun camp, but I had been in hardcore introvert mode – angry at the world because nothing was working and I felt very unsafe in a lot of different aspects of my life. I showed up to drop off my phone and be silent for the 4 days – mulling over breaking off a relationship that was going nowhere and ending a business I’d had for almost 8 years. It was a tumultuous time, to say the least. The other campers thought I was nice, but no one saw me for who I really am. I was adult-ing to the core – and that left zero play in my spirit.


 


A year later, I had quit my business and my relationship – and walked into camp with a spark. I was ready to set the world on fire and made a few distinct decisions before getting in the car to head up there. 


 


I decided to:


  • play full out
  • say yes to everything that felt good
  • keep my heart open to other incredible humans
  • allow myself to make deep soul connections


 


From the moment I walked into camp, I felt the difference. I was smiling. I got hug-attacked by a camper from the year prior. I wore my “I miss you so much” shirt and hugged the heck out of old friends. I was a social butterfly. I was happy. And it showed up. Everyone at last year’s camp had watched my transformation on Facebook over the last year and they asked what the catalyst was for the change. It was a decision to show up – for myself and everyone else in my life.


 


On the first day of camp, I met a guy who wore my second tutu the next morning for the Wake & Shake. Because who doesn’t love 45min of yoga followed by 2 hours of dancing your face off? And why don’t we, guys and gals alike, wear tutus in real life?


 


  


 


By the end of the 4 days, I was on fire. I ended up being the captain of the winning team for the Color War – chasing teammates all over the course, covered in paint and bright colored powder, hugging everyone around me and screaming loveliness at anyone who would listen. I sang one of my favorite songs (Glitter in the Air) dressed still in paint and THREE tutus (which is officially now called a six-six) and killed it – I honestly have never sang so hard from my heart before. I could feel my heart soaring.


 


  


 


The whole experience left me with an aching awakening. I had joined a tribe of humans that allowed AND encouraged me to be fully myself – a full self I never felt safe to share. To dance, to dream, to partner, to love, to smooch, to snuggle, to be filled up with – and BOY, did it feel good. It’s filled with humans who get me. Humans who aren’t like me but are JUST like me. Humans who play hard, work hard, and live big lives – and who want others to know what it’s like to be wild & free. They’re now my family. (Love to Yanik & Sophia for giving life to Maverick1000 and inviting me in!)


 



 


As much as it was great being with this tribe, I walked away realizing it had more to do with how all of us show up every day. Camp can go with us – into our every day. We don’t have to “adult” so hard anymore. We can play anytime we want. And although many people think this is how I’ve always lived my life, they’re going to see a huge shift in how outgoing and open I am now. 


 


Heart open – no longer afraid to have my heart crushed. 


Connected – ready to explore deep soul connections. 


Saying yes – to anything that feels good and no to anything that feels like crap. 


Playing full out – no more canceling or not showing up unless it’s only to maintain my high energy levels.


 


By the time I got back to DC, I was on fire for my life – on fire in my heart space – on fire in my new friendships – on fire in my soul – on fire in my business – and ready for what was next. Before I left, I had planned to hire a street artist to paint a wall of my office but while I was away, I remembered how much I love to paint and decided to do it myself. I decided to stop wearing clothes that didn’t make me happy. I found myself wondering how I could start singing during my talks (without it being weird) – because it made my heart sing. I looked at the white canvas on my living room wall that has a painting sketched on it and decided it was time to finish it. I even went to IKEA and danced around to whatever music made me want to dance. And smiled at random strangers – I usually squeeze my lips together, but now I’m open-mouth smiling. I hung out with my friends’ kids and got on the floor to play. Heart open, deep soul connections accepted, playing FULL OUT.


 


This past weekend, I went to Colorado for the Jazz Aspen Snowmass festival with friends. Three days of bands playing to a huge field of humans. We danced our faces off even when everyone else was standing around. We waved our hands in the air like we just didn’t care. We laughed, we smiled, we sang, we hiked, we made new friends, we chatted with strangers, and we fully lived. We played for 3 solid days. And walked away sore and happy. I’m taking camp into everyday life. 


 


 


 


So, now that we’re back to work – “the grind” – what can we do to keep playing?! Or what can you do to START playing? 


 


I’ve come up with some ideas so we can play together. Pick one and do it today – then do another tomorrow – and then another the day after that. These are just ideas, not requirements or rules. Because kids don’t get creative when they have rules. Let’s play!


 


ADULT-ISH PLAYTIME


  • Wear an outfit that makes you smile.
  • When you see a stranger and love something they’re wearing, give them a compliment out loud.
  • Instead of walking down the block, skip. 
  • Say yes to everything that feels good. 
  • Say no to everything that feels bad.
  • Leave your phone home when you walk the dog and give every person who walks by you a big smile.
  • Dance in a retail store to music that moves you.
  • Do a project you don’t have time for but you used to LOVE doing. (paint a picture, play piano, write a poem, buy those fun baskets and reorganize that closet, etc)
  • Go for a long drive with no destination in mind and find a new spot to grab coffee, dinner, or a drink.
  • Walk the long way to work.
  • Kiss your significant other at least 20 times in one day.
  • Hug people instead of shaking their hand.
  • Put on a tutu. (I SWEAR it will brighten your day.)
  • Be bold and say “I want to be your friend” to someone you really want to be friends with.
  • Tell a friend you love them.
  • Send a package of goodies to a loved one with lots of bright colors inside.
  • Paint your toenails a bright color.
  • Send your mom a massage gift certificate for no reason.
  • Smile with your whole face.
  • Listen to every word of a song with your eyes closed.
  • Ask your friends to play.
  • Skip happy hour & go to the park for a picnic.
  • Read a book on the toilet instead of your Facebook feed.
  • Put on headphones and lipsync in your public with full face expressions.
  • Dance around your house to loud music in your undies.
  • Take a real bath.
  • Wash every little part of yourself.
  • Put on music from your teenage years and rock out. (Oh, man, can they bring back Lilith Fair?)
  • Make silly faces at the camera instead of posing.
  • Wear cute pajamas to bed.
  • Wake up on Saturday morning and watch vintage cartoons. (Can you find them online?)
  • Handwrite a love note and mail it.
  • Text a friend a bunch of emojis.
  • Schedule a dance break at the office and get your colleagues involved.
  • Use bright colored pens instead of black or blue.
  • Buy a coloring book and really color – instead of trying to be mindful.
  • Take a nap.
  • Say what you really mean. (I know, right?!)
  • Tell someone they’re your bestie. And mean it.
  • Encourage someone else to play with you.
  • Come up with a creative date instead of “meeting for drinks” – like music in the park, a walk by the lake/river, or a painting class.
  • Buy a set of legos and use them on your next lunch break.
  • Break your routine and try out a different kind of exercise class.
  • Sign up for an activity you’ve never done before.
  • Plan a really romantic (but fun!) evening with your significant other.
  • Do your hair or makeup differently. (For bald guys, try a new style of hat.)
  • Get your friends together and go out for a night of dancing. 
  • Sit on a park bench with a notepad and write what comes to mind.
  • Join a kickball team, bocce team or hash (the drinking club with a running problem).
  • Smile. For no reason.
  • Reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in awhile. 
  • Listen. JUST LISTEN to someone share. Ask them lots of questions but don’t butt in.
  • Put your phone & headphones away on your commute.
  • Strike up a conversation with a stranger. 
  • Play – whatever that means to you.
  • Put on a tutu. (Did I already say that?!)


Let’s do this together. We can put our phones down, have a real conversation with another human being, truly listen to what is going on around us, and find out what we really like to do. Decide it’s going to be a beautiful day and then manifest that by showing up and playing. None of us REALLY wanted to grow up anyway.


 


What other playtime ideas do YOU have?