Finding Your Significance in the World

As a follow up to my post last week about finding value through comparison, here’s a question…

 

If all your talents and gifts were put on mute, and everything that previously made you feel successful or worthy of praise was put on hold, what would make you feel valuable?

 

Think about it for awhile and then go enjoy some Christmas cookies before Santa jacks them all. Merry Christmas.

Entreprenurial Advice

Recently I was asked to give advice to other entrepreneurs by my friend who writes Modern Reject so I wanted to share my answer with all of you here as well…

 

1. Discover the difference between needs and wants.

Constantly re-evaluate what you really need in life versus want. Entrepreneurial life often requires making choices that involve sacrificing your security and comfort, so it’s important to know whether the things you desire are needs that cannot be sacrificed or wants that can be adjusted. Entrepreneurial life requires lots of outside the box thinking, not just in your business, but in your life as well. Everything is a trade. You have to be willing to trade living the way you are comfortable, the way you always thought you’d live, or the way you think you’re “supposed” to live, in order to gain the kind of benefits that others who live the “right” way only dream about.

 

2. Remember that security doesn’t exist.

Remember that the security we cling to so tightly isn’t real anyways. None of the things that feel like security are actually things that will protect us from the hard stuff, nor are they actual secure. The recent recession and instant loss of so many seemingly “secure” jobs taught us how temporary our security that we fight so hard for really is. Somewhere deep down we know that our securities aren’t really that secure, yet we still fight for them because they are ways for us to feel like we are in control and can keep the things we’re afraid of at bay.

 

3. Identify and face your fears.

You have to decide how much you want to let yourself be guided by fear. So many people are fear driven and use the excuse that they’re being “wise” or “protecting their family” but really all they’re doing is hindering the capabilities of themselves and their loved ones, as well as putting limits on the amazing kind of life they could share together. Limiting yourself, your loved ones, and your shared life because of your fear will come back to haunt everyone involved. Purging yourself of unnecessary fears and balancing your ability to risk while still using wisdom, will allow you and your family to be their best. And that will always be the most “secure” way to ensure that you will thrive both as individuals and as a family, regardless of what new adventures you embark on in the future.

Good luck in all your entrepreneurial endeavors!

Thank You

There are no words.

Which is why it’s going to be extra hard to explain what I’m talking about. It’s you. It’s all of you guys. You are incredible. The feedback you gave me after my last post brought me to tears multiple times. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your heart felt responses to my heart felt, mini-break down.

I currently have plans to respond to each and every one of you who took the time to comment or send me messages, but every time I go to do it, I get emotionally overwhelmed all over again! You all put so much of yourselves into your comments that I want to make sure I respond with the amount of thought and energy that you deserve. So please do not be sad you haven’t received a response yet. I’ve heard you, I love you for it, and I will respond.

This will NOT be the end of Rare Existence. As a result of your thoughts, comments, and encouragement, I have received the motivation that I so needed to keep moving forward.

Thank you, thank you, and thank you again. You guys truly are the extraordinary.

Much Love,
Breanna

post 45

Vote to keep Rare Existence alive

So for all the rambling I do about community and how we’re all here to support one another, blah, blah, blah, I’m going to set an example by asking for some major help from you.

Honestly, I feel ready to quit writing Rare Existence.
Rare Existence makes me feel like a failure. There. I’ve said it. I had pretty high expectations going into this that are not being met. I believed if I built it (with truly quality content), they would come. I thought it would just spread because that’s what stuff does when it’s good. When you see something awesome, you share it to increase your own awesomeness ratings in the eyes of your Facebook friends, right? So either I’m just plain wrong to expect this, or my content isn’t good enough to give people a bump on the awesomeness scale. Either way, I feel like a failure.

This is very, very bad for me since part of my own plans for an extraordinary life involve the growth of Rare Existence. This makes me feel like a failure at my extraordinary life, which in turn makes me not what to write about it anymore, especially on the blog that reminds me of what a failure I am in the first place!

I know the logical thing to do would be to examine my marketing or other issues that could be the real problem before giving up. But of course feeling like a failure is bringing my insecurities to an all time high at the moment so all I’m hearing is “Why bother working on your marketing? You don’t need MORE people to see how bad you are at this”. At the point I’m at, I’m really starting to question whether that is the truth.

 

So the thing is, I could really use your help right now.
I feel pathetic, desperate, and embarrassed to be asking you for this, but I can’t get it out of my head how much I tell everyone here to be vulnerable with one another- especially when things are going badly, so I feel I must do the same.

What I need from you is your vocal support. If you read and love Rare Existence, I just need you to say “aye” to cast your vote to keep it afloat. Leave a comment here, send me a note… just SOMETHING to show me that you exist on planet earth and that you want to keep reading Rare Existence.

I feel like if I know the problem is not my ability to write things people like to read, but rather my ability to market, then I will have just the amount of hope I need to push through and fix the problem.

 

If you have constructive criticism:
… about how you think I could grow Rare Existence, get more feedback from readers, etc. I’ll take it. But please remember that I’m fragile right now so be gentle OK? I typically publish all my suggestion comments, but since I’m not feeling super brave at the moment, don’t be offended if I choose to process your suggestions on my own rather than share them with the world while I’m figuring all this out.

 

To connect with me:
… you can email me at Breanna(at)rareexistence.com, or you can comment here. Thanks for your readership, your support, and your patience while I’m all weepy and weak. Forgive me if I don’t do my usual once a week posting for a little while, I might need some time. Thanks for the grace.

 

Much Love,
Breanna

The Lies of Success

I just finished reading an entire chapter in a book about how success doesn’t make you happy.
Bummer, right? It was written by a very successful man who found himself in misery at the height of his success. He wasn’t saying success is bad, he was just saying that if you haven’t dealt with issues in your life, they will follow you and success will only magnify them. My favorite line was, “you will be the same person, only you’ll have more of everything, and that includes pain.” (Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis).

True point.

So where do I stand with success really and what do I define success as? After all, the point of this blog is to help you and me succeed at pursuing a rare existence, accomplishing our dreams, being extraordinary, and so on. We definitely all have goals here that we’re trying to succeed in.

One of the big questions to ask yourself is, “WHY am I pursuing the specific goals that I am”?
“What is the root behind this goal that I think will make me happy in the end?” Sometimes our intentions are not as pure, or shall we say, as HEALTHY as we think they are.
I’ve said before that it’s very important that you know yourself well as you embark along this journey and that means that you know not only what things you are good at and dream of doing, but also what your deep rooted flaws are that will continually try to trick you into fulfilling them in wrong ways.

We all have these things… deep seated insecurities left over from years of grade school bully torment that leaves you with the desire to prove to the world how awesome and worthy you really are… a negative parent who is constantly asking you for more so you continually try to give more than perfect….crazy jealousy over that perfect older sibling that leaves you always trying to keep up…friends who are obsessed with all things fun, expensive, and seemingly wonderful that drive you to live the same way. We all have our reasons.

Take a second to ask yourself about yours.

For me, success in extraordinary living means…
…freedom. I’m pursuing time freedom, freedom from enslaving factors (debt, addictions, insecurities,etc), emotional freedom, and many other kinds of freedom, so that I am free to choose how I invest my time, energy, and heart so my life will reflect my true values as closely as possible. My desire to be successful in my quest for freedom is driven by my desire to always be the one who gets to decide what’s best for me and my family throughout different seasons in life, and to be able to choose to use all my resources (time, money, talents, etc) to make that happen.

Yes, there are many moral and noble motives in that, but um, can you say CONTROLLING? Just when I think I’ve beaten the control monster in my life, he shows up in the most unexpected places… the places I thought were pure and secure and free from the uglies. Nope.

Now that we’ve taken the time to identify our inner self’s ulterior motive, we have the choice of whether we’ll face it or not. If we decide to deal with our weaknesses and identity issues now, then we’re free to continue to pursue our definitions of an extraordinary life… and now we can do it with true freedom (ironic since my definition IS freedom!). If we choose not to deal with it, then once we obtain the life we seek, we can only expect misery. I know this is true because I’ve learned in the past that when I feed my control monster, the only thing that it spits back out is bad relationships, anger, frustration, and ultimate sadness… and I’m guessing that your uglies are on the same team as mine with the same rule book, so you’ll probably get the same results.

So our success will only be true success if we deal with our personal issues before achieving it.
Otherwise our success will only make our problems worse,  just like Rob told us. I hate when people say sucky things and then are right.

post 44

When do we call it quits on the sacrificial stage?

The unfortunate thing about pursuing something extraordinary in our lives is that every time we try to do something to help us break free from this real world mess, it only adds more onto our plate. Thus I found when I started our photography business and began working so much that I’d forget to shower, eat, and even sometimes I’d forget to pee… NEVER forget to pee, it only ends badly.

It just seems so impossible and so insurmountable sometimes to rise above any of the things that continually suck us back down into the dirt. The muddy, fertilizy, rocky dirt. Well I’m not going to pretend I know the answers and I’m not going to lie to you and tell you this is easy because if I do my husband will call me out and remind me that just last week I was inhaling tums and wailing about how it is NOT cool at all to have pain in my heart from stress.  Having your heart in physical, actual, real pain is NOT a good sign and it will most definitely make you question what you’re doing with your life… especially when you go to shower that night and find the red welts rising up on your skin wherever a piece of clothing was touching you.  My body is literally trying to find ways to expel stress… out my pores if it has to… its revolting, it’s fighting.  It hates me and it has good reason to. But what am I supposed to do? Give up?

How long can you stay in this sacrificial growth period that is supposed to ultimately lead to better things? Because I’m pretty sure I’m nearing the end of my little trip to sacrifice land.  So when is it enough? I really don’t have the answers here so I’m just leaving you with a question to ponder. How do we know when a difficult sacrificial stage for extraordinary living has become too much and needs to end?

 

The Emotions of Change: grieving your losses

“So you’re telling me that in order to take the next step forward, I have to give up WHAT?!?”
It’s the least favorite part of change for all of us… the stuff we have to give up. Whether it’s as simple as comforts and conveniences, or as complicated as relationships, there is a good chance that creating positive change is going to result in some losses. Even if you take the time prior to making a big change to examine these losses and weigh them against the gains, you’re still bound to be caught off guard by at least a few surprise losses or by how strongly you feel the hit as you begin to release the losses.

Just so you know, it’s OK to feel sad. 
Even during an exciting time in your life full of hope, joy, and opportunity, it’s good to take a step back and grieve the things you are giving up. In fact, I think it’s imperative to do so. Grief is a very important process that we need to go through at different stages in life to maintain our emotional health and sanity. If you try to ignore your sadness, it will affect you in some other way and will likely cause you more problems.

When I decided to move from Phoenix to LA, I turned each loss into a new doubt about my decision. 
What if my 3 year old niece forgets who I am? Maybe this is the wrong decision.  What if I trade my spacious two bed, two bath apartment for a tiny one bedroom with a shared bathroom and then still can’t afford to eat out or go to yoga class? Maybe this is a stupid decision. What if my husband and I have to spend mid-sized holidays like 4th of July alone? Maybe we shouldn’t go.

It wasn’t until my husband pointed out that I wasn’t experiencing doubt but rather sadness, that I realized I needed to take a moment to first identify my losses and then to grieve them.  I am sad I will miss my 3 year old niece.  I am sad I won’t get to enjoy some of the luxuries I experience now.  I am sad I won’t see all of my extended family on every single holiday of the year as I used to.

My ungrieved losses were also turning into fears…and trust me I already have enough fears to go around, I definitely don’t need more!  Maybe my 3 year old niece needs me to have special place in her life or she will end up a mass murderer serving 25 to life by the time she turns 18!  Maybe my husband and I will grow to hate each other living in such close quarters and our anger will be compounded by our lack of exercise and not being able to afford to escape even to a night out at a restaurant and it will also end in murder!  Maybe all kinds of crazy resentments will spring up between my family and myself, only we will never spend enough time together to appropriately deal with them and people will start dying and I will be left with horrible guilt and sadness over our unresolved issues… or maybe more murder will happen!

As you can see, my sadness over the people and things I was distancing myself from turned into a obsessive fear of death and destruction (as well as an extra 10 lbs) because I didn’t recognize the truth behind the emotions I was experiencing and I refused to acknowledge that some of my decisions were going to cause some sadness for both myself and others.

I know you think you can be all clever and trick your emotional being, but you can’t.
Have fun with the aftermath if you don’t believe me… and take down the number for Weight Watchers the next time Jennifer Hudson is on TV giving it to you because you’re going to need it. I recommend that the next time you find yourself going through major change, take a second, whether you are experiencing strong emotions or not (since so many of us are good at numbing ourselves), and make a list of the things your are losing. Count your losses and allow yourself to be sad about each one. And whenever a negative emotion of any kind presents itself, stop and ask yourself if you are feeling the appropriate emotion about it or if you are using some sort of defense mechanism to keep yourself from feeling the things you are designed and in desperate need to feel. Here’s a tissue, now get to work.

Is it REALLY the life you are meant to be living? (a project)

Sometimes the life we THINK we are meant to live is not the one that is truly meant for us.
You may never be able to be 100% certain that your definition of extraordinary living is right for you, but you should at least invest the time and energy into being as logical and wise as possible before turning your life upside down for it.

If you have some idea of what extraordinary living might look like for you, it’s time to challenge those ideas before you take major action.
If you are ready to take make significant changes in order to pursue the life you are meant to live, stop and take a second to ask yourself the questions below before you act. So get out your Rare Existence Project Notebook (OK , I know you’re excited about that but you can stop cheering now) because I definitely recommend writing out the answers for thinking clarity and to have the ability to look back on your answers in the future.

Questions:

  1. What is my main goal in life? Does this path take me towards it?
  2. Do I have the skills necessary to succeed at this?
  3. Do I enjoy the things necessary to do this?
  4. What will the most difficult tasks be and can I still accomplish them?
  5. Will this be harmful to those around me? Will NOT doing this be harmful to those around me?
  6. What are the sacrifices I will need to make and can I handle those?
  7. What are the benefits of this path to me and my loved ones?
  8. What is the worst case scenario that can happen and will I come out of that OK?
  9. Do people who have my best interest at heart think this is a good idea?
  10. Does this decision support my beliefs about life, family, morals, religion, etc?
  11. Is my significant other willing to go through this with me?
  12. Do I have at least one person who will help support me through this?

If some of the answers to those questions didn’t come out exactly like you would’ve hoped, don’t get discouraged but also don’t ignore them.
Take the time to process it. The issues that arose from answering those questions may be very important and you need to decide if they are significant enough to cause you to re-think your definition of extraordinary living.

Don’t be afraid to ask the questions. If you find you are headed down the wrong path, it’s definitely best to acknowledge that and turn around sooner rather than later. If you find you are headed down the right path, then the more confident you can be in that, the more effective you’ll be. Either way, challenging your ideas from time to time will only increase the chance that you will be free to head strongly in the right direction and that you will live the life you are TRULY meant to be living.

Is Los Angeles the place where my dreams will come true or where my children will get stabbed?

Lately I’ve been finding myself in all sorts of mental conflicts.

Work or sleep? Re-read “Hunger Games” or jump right into “Intro to Being a Better Human Being and Fixing Everything in Your Life Through Painstaking Work and Exhausting Effort”? Go out and make new friends or decide to sit at home feeling fat instead?

You see, life is a pickle! Decisions, decisions, decisions!

I think I have decision-block.

I’ve had writer’s block lately and I think that it has to do with the fact that the very thing I write about is the very thing I’m blocked about. I’m re-thinking my decisions, which for me means questioning whether I’d rather spend my days relaxing on the porch with an extra large glass of sweet tea and my 3 legged old dog while we watch the fireflies land and count our days by how high the tulips grow in the front yard? Or by laying on my horn in traffic as I rush late to my next meeting, while trying to cram a meatless, gluten free, double fiber stick of something or other down my throat and yelling into my speaker phone about the ice cream cake I’m picking up for that thing tonight, while trying to learn Mandarin on my iPod and squeezing my glutes for added toning at the same time. (Think Michelle Pfeiffer’s lawyer character in “I Am Sam” who survives on handfuls of jellybeans and non-fat lattes).

Why is the answer to that question even a question? Oh right, because I’ve actually chosen the awful sounding second one.

Yes, I have moved to Los Angeles, California. It’s the land of concrete and smog where the green grass only grows up between the sidewalk cracks and where when you hear someone say the word crack you think about either Charlie Sheen’s tiger blood or Brittany Spears’ coin slot before you think about the sidewalk.

Here I must compete, always. I must make more money to stay afloat, always. I must know how to enter a restaurant with no visible sign or apparent, always. I must hurry, always. I must know all about Ryan Murphy, Ryan Gosling, and all the future famous Ryans who aren’t even born yet, always. I must look good, but try not to look like I’m trying to look good, always. I must know not only what they are, but also 10 different ways to prepare and ingest kombucha, kale, or kimchi, always. I must avoid walking alone at night, always. I must carry quarters on me for parking, laundry, and bums, always. I must work out 3 hours a day, 10 days a week (yes, 10), always. And people will continue to ask me what I was thinking when I decided to move here, always.

But I know why I moved here.

I moved here for the ocean, the community, the culture,The Chelsea Lately Show, the art, the potential, the bike rides, the entertainment, the celebrity neighbors, the abundance of french bulldogs, the old Hollywood history, the diversity, the great weather, the walkability ratings, the chance to see my front yard on my favorite TV show, the inspiration, the excitement, the creative collaborations, and- let’s just admit it- the white truffle aioli sauce with candied bacon, creamy burrrata, and lemon zest had a little something to do with it as well.

I know why I’m here right now, but the new question I’m asking myself is- do I want to be here forever?

Do I know that I want to raise my kids here? Do I know how I will juggle my freeway captivity and Botex injections with my kids’ Pilates and french cooking classes? Maybe having my kids skateboard to school while I Feng Shui up the house isn’t the lifestyle I want for my family. Maybe I’d rather have my kids walk home from school with their friends while I await them with a plate of fresh baked cookies and a Bible story to tell them that I heard in my knitting club. Having time to play, garden, relax, sleep, talk, and go number two isn’t such a bad thing is it? Maybe moving to small town USA where I’d just go to a regular old job and my kids would come home from school to a regular old mom in mom jeans, and going to regular old church potlucks on Sundays and listening to old Uncle Joe tell that same story about the cat with angina for the hundredth time isn’t such a bad thing? Why do I feel the need to fight it and do the opposite?

I found out why when I was visiting my dad’s small, mid-western hometown.

As I watched people have time to enjoy life and found myself longing for some of the small pleasures of the simple life that they had (mostly the lard), I met a young girl who had a different kind of spark in her thick black eyelinered eyes. Even though she didn’t say it out loud, everything about her and about the things she DID say out loud, just screamed to me that she was going to leave this place one day, this place with 4 generations of her family all living within 5 miles from each other. It’s not that she hated it, it’s not that it was bad. It just wasn’t HER and it wasn’t what she was meant for. And I saw myself in her in more ways that I could count.

It was at that moment that I realized, this thing about destiny is so much bigger than my own finicky desires.

It doesn’t matter where I want to live or what I want to do because I know that what I want more than anything is to do what I’m meant to do with my life and I’ll live wherever I need to in order to accomplish that. So even though a small town sounds kinds of nice right about now, it’s just not where I’m meant to be… just like I can tell that young girl is meant to leave one day. Maybe I’m meant to end up in the middle of a corn field one day… but for now I KNOW I am right where I need to be. Right in the middle of the action, the opportunity, the thrill, and the challenges that come with LA.

I don’t know if my kids will be the ones with thick black eyelinered eyes who are meant for LA…

…or the ones with an affinity for growing crops and wearing Carhart overalls who are meant for a small potato farming community in Idaho (or in Ireland if I’m lucky, because then I can visit them in Ireland instead of Idaho). It all goes back to extraordinary living and how by definition of it, we all have different sorts of lives we are meant to live. I don’t know if LA will be best for my family. Some of you just choked on your corn chip when heard that I’d even consider that LA might be best for my family! I DO think there actually are benefits to raising your kids in the big city- like how they can always find a hotdog stand when they are hungry! Of course I know there are many downsides as well- like how they can’t sit on benches because the homeless people pee on them. I kind of like the drive and desires that a fast pace competitive city can put in you… those are the kinds of things that can lead a child to grow up and change the world. I also like the down time and support system that a slow paced small town can provide you with… those are the kinds of things that will allow a child to grow up investing into things that are extremely meaningful like relationships and helping other people.

There are pluses and minuses to both sides.

You just have to decide which you believe is best for you, your child, your family, your partner, your dentist, your therapist, your dog walker, and all the other people who stand to be affected by your decision. And even if you make yourself crazy trying to decide (as I do every night at 1am when I go frantically re-reading and continually re-commenting with my non-nonsensical night time thoughts on Teresa Strasser’s blog post related to this), you’re still pretty likely to be wrong in the end anyways! So my final say on the matter is that I am where I need to be now in order to live my extraordinary life, but when I have kids, I will re-consider, weigh my options wisely, and then make a decision that I will stick to- until my husband tells me I’m wrong, or until my kid ends up in college or prison, at which point I will find out whether or not I made the right choice.

Two giant questions to ask yourself

Now we’re going to talk about something that is going to be frowned upon no matter which side of the fence I stand on. So I’m going to attempt to stay in the middle. No, seriously, I promise that is really where I stand on it!

The question of debate here is: are some dreams too big for some people?

If you’ve ever watched the first few episodes of an American Idol season then I expect to hear a resounding “YES” coming from your direction. The other side of this argument is usually something about how Michael Jordan didn’t make his freshman basketball team but he still decided not to quit… or how everyone told grant hill he was too short for the NBA (sorry but for some reason my relationship with sports began and ended with basketball in the 90’s). You could even mention what’s his name who grew in YouTube fame because of his awful American Idol performance. You could point out how no one would know his name if he hadn’t pursued his dream despite his obvious lack of talent (if only I could remember his name now).

I could go on and on with analogies from both sides of the argument, but I think you get it. My point is that while I will encourage you to climb every mountain and swim every stream to reach your dreams, I will also encourage you to choose those dreams wisely. There is such thing as pursuing a dream you are not meant to have, and I think it is much better to decide if you are doing that before you are already waist deep into it.

These are two of the hardest questions you will ever face in your pursuit of an extraordinary life.
1. Is this the extraordinary life I should begin pursuing?
2. Is it time to give up this particular path of extraordinary living and find a new one?

Of course, the tricky part is that only you can make those decisions and only you will find the real answers. But whatever stage you are at on you journey, I think it is very important to stop and ask yourself these two key questions… no matter how difficult it may be to hear the answer.

 

What do you think? Are some dreams too big for some people? Answer by commenting here or on Rare Existence’s Facebook page!