Slowing the pace to enjoy the race

I recently realized that our values went awry somewhere along the way.
We moved to a little place a block away from the beach in the most fun, entertaining neighborhood that I’ve ever known. We then proceeded to unpack. Work. Unpack. Think about going to the beach. Unpack. Work. Think about inviting new friends over for dinner. Work. Work. Long to go swimming in the ocean. Work…. you get the picture.  We moved here for the lifestyle. Yet we are too busy trying to pay for the lifestyle to be able to enjoy it!

The solution (aside from becoming independently wealthy through passive income in the next month)…
… is to work on the discipline of rest. Like a sabbath. That’s right. A good old fashioned, Biblical sabbath. Everyone’s definition (i.e. life and death dogma) about this issue is different so let me explain what it means for my husband and I.  It means no appointments, no to- do list, and above all, no guilt for that. It’s a day of rest. Basically we will refuse to feel guilty for being unproductive and we will enjoy the gift of life.

“But I can’t take a day off, I’m too busy!”
And you will never not be too busy so you need to stop waiting for “someday” when you finally have time to rest and enjoy life and you need to start living NOW. We have a tendency to believe that productivity is next to godliness and we all too often ask  “can I fit this into my schedule?”, when really we need to be asking “SHOULD I fit this into my schedule?”. These are the things we’re taught and we live by, even if we hate it. And now this is what bosses, spouses, friends and any other person you come into contact with expects of you. You must reply to my text or email NOW, you must squeeze me in this week, you must work late… and the guilt piles on as we get further behind and feel even more pressure to perform.  It’s time to give up and realize that you will never get it all done no matter how hard you try and the “someday” where you have limitless amounts of time might not come until the last 5 years of your life (if ever) which means you will already have missed most of it! Taking stress pills, sleep meds, caffeine inhalers, while continuing to have chest pains, ulcers, and emotional breakdowns anyways is not a way to live. It’s not worth it. A day off every week is EXACTLY what we need! No matter how hard it is to come by! It’s amazing how prioritizing time for rest can rejuvenate you for the rest of the week to be even more productive. And it’s even more amazing to realize that you still get just as much done (or not done) as you did before you started taking a day of rest. Don’t waste your life just trying to make it through the stress while ignoring all the joys around you.

“But I can’t take a day off, I get too bored!”
Of course you’ll be bored, you’re going to sit down for a full minute straight! It’s sooo different from your day to day life! That’s not a reason to not take a day off, in fact it’s the very reason you need a day off… you’re incredibly unhealthy! Even if you are just a high energy person, you still need to take time off to do nothing. I read somewhere that it takes a full 5 days of doing nothing before you relax and adjust to the pace (so screw 7 day vacations by the way, unless you plan on it being one of those fun, action packed ones that leave you more exhausted than revitalized when you’re done).

“But… oh wait, I’m out of excuses”.
Right, so give it a shot. One full day off a week. Or even one day off every other week if you have to work your way up with this!  A day of rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation. It could be spending time with others or by yourself (I know you can come up with a solution about what to do with the kids when a particular sabbath requires much needed alone time).  It’s one day with no performing, impressing, or pleasing on this day (doesn’t that sound AMAZING?!). No to- do lists, chores, or working on things you’ve been putting off.  It’s a day to sit back and be grateful while enjoying the fruits of your 6 day a week labor.

Start keeping a list of what you’re looking forward to doing (or NOT doing) on your next sabbath. That way when you have a few seconds to spare, you don’t panic because you don’t know what to do with them (you’ll get better at not panicking once you’ve had practice with this discipline of rest by the way). So when you find yourself hitting snooze on your alarm clock more than once, write down “sleep in” as what you’re going to do on your sabbath this week.

Here’s what I did on the first full day off I’d had in over a month and a half…

  • Read for 2 hours in the morning (not productive reading, just an Elizabeth Taylor biography that had more pictures than words- real brain food you know).
  • Went to Starbucks and got a tasty drink with REAL sugar in it!
  • Went to the beach with my husband (FINALLY took time to enjoy our surroundings!!).
  • Started cleaning out our side yard that I’ve been dying to fix up and make usable. Yes this was productive, but it wasn’t something I’ve been procrastinating on, it’s something I’ve been dying to have time to do and it was very relaxing!
  • Watched a movie (Grand Canyon from the 80’s. Really intense and interesting/weird movie!)  I have been DREAMING of watching a movie and I just haven’t had time!
  • Went to bed early. No working until 2 am on this day!

It was such a GREAT day and I couldn’t believe how positive I felt about my life for the rest of the week! Life felt enjoyable and I still somehow found the time to get the same amount of work done that week…. maybe because I was rested and ready to go for the next 6 days of work.

Friends of Wisdom

How are your friends?

I’m assuming you have fun together. If you’re a girl maybe you go dancing, shopping, spend long hours talking about relationship problems or your kids schooling. And if you’re a guy you… I don’t know… play sports and drink beer together? Is that what guys do? I’m mostly basing that on movies. Either way, I’m sure they provide lots of companionship, good memories, etc, etc. But my question is, do they provide true wisdom? When you come to your friend to tell her about the guy you just met that you really like does she ask “how cute is he? What kind of car does he drive? And do you think he’s gay?” and then leave it at that? Or does she say, ” does he have goals in life, how does he treat his mother, does he have anger melt downs, and does he ever look into your eyes or just at your boobs?”

Do you have at least one friend who ask you THE RIGHT Questions? If not, you need to find one (or two, or three).

Relationships that challenge you, inspire you, encourage you, etc. are kind of a lost art. They aren’t typically talked about or looked for. If someone listens to you and helps you when you need it, that’s considered good enough. Don’t get me wrong, those are good things but there’s more than just that. Especially if your friend is just “helping you” by picking you up at sleazy guys’ houses when you’re two sheets to the wind, and never actually approaches you (when you’re sober) about your decision making. A good friend, in my opinion would do both. You need both. We all need both if we’re going to grow.

The people you are around are intertwined with your level of personal growth.

If you are around lame people, you’re not going to get very far. In other words if YOU are the friend always picking your only friends up at sleazy guys houses every Saturday night, you may have a problem. I know I sound like your mom now, but if you don’t have people in your life to tell you this, I’m willing to do it for you…. for now that is because you still need to find better friends who will tell you this kind of stuff so I don’t have to!

There is nothing in the world like having intelligent, emotional, heart felt discussions and debates with people you know well and care a lot about.

Having people who ask insightful question to challenge you in your life is a gift like non- other… even if the questions are the difficult kind… especially if the questions are the difficult kind actually.  If the person you hang out with the most inspires you to be a better person- both directly and indirectly- and if you can return the favor, then you are both going to go really far… together…. which is the best way to get anywhere anyways. Go find friends. Go be that kind of friend.
P.S. Special thanks to Liz Boyd, Julia Schmidt, and Kristen Stanley for being 3 of the friends who have challenged me the most at different points in my life. And thanks to Jordan for challenging my ideas about extraordinary living enough to inspire me to write countless blog posts about our conversations!

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!

 

Finding a Valuable Identity (a project)

Who you are, who you want to be like, and what you want… all that kind of info was on the tag sewn into your shirt when the stork dropped you off, right? That’s not how it worked for me, I was born into this world naked as a baby so I’ve been forced to do some figuring for myself.

It’s no secret that the stork with the glasses dropped me off and I was born a nerd. If you didn’t already know that, one look at this rhetorical analysis system I’ve worked out to help me figure out who I am will sear the image of a pocket-protector wearing bird into your mind forever.

This system is not actually as scary as it sounds and you don’t need a PhD to do it, you just need some time and space to do some writing with your thinking cap on (by the way, did you hear they sell those in leopard print now!?).

If you want to try it, here’s what you do…

1. Make a list of people in the world who you believe are doing something valuable with their lives.

2. Next to each name, list out single words or phrases that represent what stands out to you the most about what they’re doing that makes you see it as valuable.

3. Go through and underline the words/phrases that you see repeated.

4. Count up how many times each word/phrase was used.

5. List the words/phrases in order of how many times you used them (words used the most go at the top and the ones used the least go at the bottom).

6. Construct a short paragraph (one or two sentences) incorporating these words in order to find out what’s important to you.

7. If you want to simplify it further, summarize that paragraph into a short statement.

Here’s a small excerpt from my personal Valuable Identity project to give you an example…

People who I believe are doing something valuable with their lives….

1. Abby Tracy– helping children, helping the poor, helping orphans, wholistic approach to helping the whole person, self-sacrifice, defending the innocent
2. Doctors and Nurses- self-sacrifice, hard work, caring, facing hard stuff
3. Good school teachers- helping children, teaching life skills, hard work, self-sacrifice, passionate, teaching others
4. Kelli Freeman– hard work, helping children, helping orphans, caring, wholistic approach to helping the whole person, teaching life skills

In the end (my full project consisted of a list of 15 people) the words/phrases that I repeated the most went like this…

Passionate- used 15 times
Caring- 15
Hard work- 14
Facing hard stuff- 12
Helps people through emotional healing- 11
Life skills- 10
Teaches others- 10
Helps children- 8
Wholistic approach to helping the whole person- 8
Self-sacrificing- 8
Defend the innocent- 7
Generous with giving money- 6

In the end, the sentence I came up with to squeeze those words into sort of a missions statement went like this….

I need to use my passion to care about others. I need to work hard and work with hard issues. I need to help others with their emotional healing while teaching them life skills. I need to sacrifice myself to help children through a wholistic approach. I need to defend the innocent when necessary and give money when appropriate.

In a simpler version that has the ability to encompass all the words…
Help children wholistically.

I’ll be the first to admit that this is a flawed system… but at least it will get you started in thinking about what’s important to you!

I’m not sure that helping children wholistically is what I’m meant to dedicate my life to, but I did learn things about what I value that I didn’t expect. For example, I had no idea that I thought hard work was all that important! When I first met my husband to be, my mom tried to tell me that one of his best character traits was that he was a hard worker, but I thought that sounded boring so I decided that my favorite thing about him was that he was tall. Apparently in my heart of hearts, I really did have a soft spot for that work ethic of his that he applies to more than just his career, but to all areas of his life.

So give it a shot and see what you think! Even if you don’t follow my literature geek model exactly, it will at least give you a place to start from that might just bunny trail you off into Wonderland or some other magical place that will help you find out who you really are and what exactly you believe is important in life.

** At this point you are well on your way to completing Step 2 in finding your extraordinary life which is “Identifying Who You Are and What You Are Meant To Do”. (In case you missed it, Step 1 was “The Discipline of Dreaming“). Of course since uncovering your identity is an ongoing quest, we’ll keep talking about it here… but we’ll also continue on and eventually we’ll head straight into Step 3: “Face the Fears”.

And one more thing… if you do this Valuable Identity project, leave a comment to share what you came up with, I’d love to hear it!

(if you liked this project and want to learn more about Extraordinary Living join the  Rare Existence Facebook community)!

 

Work on your character and a good life will come to you.

The “What If Game”

If you’ve never played the “What If Game” whoa, you are in for a fright.  The “what if “game is the scariest game you’ve ever played… which is the very reason you’ve never played it before.  Everyone hates it.  Here’s how you play….

You think of what you want most in the world.

Then you think of all the bad things that could happen if you had it…. or if your plans for it didn’t work out.

And you dwell on those things.

You think about how you would handle each situation that could possibly even at all (even in a weird world where only horrible things happen) come up.

Then you realize that you actually could handle all of those horrible things (even if it wouldn’t be your ideal outcome) and that you would be surprisingly OK in the end.

At that point you begin to pursue what you want most in the world.  Because now you know that all your excuses, worrying, and paranoid fantasies aren’t actually all that bad.  In fact, what you would have to do in order to handle them is actually very minor when weighed with all of the amazing possibilities of what could happen if you went for this.

For example, whenever my husband and I begin panicking about not being able to pay rent in the future, we think “what’s the worst that could happen?”

The answer is that we’d both have to go get jobs for awhile. In other words, going back to “normal life”, the same place we started at, is one of the worst things that could happen if our business failed right now (don’t worry current clients of Radiant Photography- we’d still be able to fulfill our commitments to you if heaven forbid this ever happened!). So we’re back to square one with no harm done and it would be totally worth the risk and all we experienced in the process.

Even if we were still in debt (which we’re not thanks to Dave Ramsey) and would fall behind on our bills if this happened, we’d have more stress and have to work overtime for awhile but we’d still be able to repair the damage eventually… IT WOULDN’T RUIN OUR LIVES.  It would suck, but not as bad as choosing to work that hard at a job we hate because we were too afraid to do anything else… that would ruin our lives more than trying and failing would.

Once we’ve spent the time really identifying and facing our fears, we realize that the consequences won’t kill us. We also find out that we’ll most likely be able to recover within somewhere around 3-6 months (rather than 10 years as our overwhelming fears were leading us to believe). So we stop being afraid, start clipping coupons, and forget about it because being a barista or a pizza delivery person for a few months isn’t that bad (we’ve done it before!) and it’s better than ruining the life we have now by filling it with fear and worry about what MIGHT happen in the future.

The “What if Game” helps us realize that the consequences of failing are a very small price to pay for the opportunity to live out our dreams. Just the process of trying, and the experiences that happen to you in that attempt, impact your life far more than the effects of failure would!

So play the game… because if you win, you get to live the life you’ve always wanted.

(if you liked this game and want to learn more about Extraordinary Living join the  Rare Existence Facebook community)!

Discovering who you are (a project)

Alright, enough rambling from me about the concept of identity, it’s time for you to do some muttering to yourself as well (so maybe you shouldn’t do this while sitting at your desk at work or in the middle of Starbucks).  You know how we talked about the importance of writing down your thoughts during this process? Well this is one of those times. This will be GREAT material to build from in the future, so make sure you have it down somewhere so you can reference it later.
The answers to these questions aren’t as important as the in-depth thinking process involved in getting the answers. These are meant to give you a springboard to start thinking from. Internal reflection is way important for this journey and this is just the beginning of your practice!

And away we go!!!!!!!

Talents and skills
1. What have people in your life told you that you are good at (both in the past and recently)?
2. What do you think you are good at?
3. Is there anything you feel exhilarated when doing?
4. What things do you want to learn more about or get better at?

Passions and favorites
1. What is your favorite things to work with out of the following: people, animals, nature, technology, your hands.
2. What things are the most likely to make you cry from sadness?
3. Does anything make you cry from happiness?  What is it?
4. What makes you the angriest?
5. What are your pet peeves?
6. List 10 small things that make you happy (not that hard: my list includes coffee, hot pink nail polish, and Pinterest! I’m sure many of you have a profile on some site that already has a list like this.).

Experiences
1.  What was the best day of your life?
2.  What’s one thing that made you feel exhilarated the first time you tried it?
3.  What time period in your life do you remember being the happiest?
4.  List 5 things that were the basis for why you were so happy during the period listed in #3.
5.  List 3 things you’ve done in your life that you were proud of.

Bringing it all together
1.  Are there any words or phrases you repeated a lot?
2.  Are there any similar locations?
3.  Are there any similar types of people? (i.e. kids, elderly, handicapped, injured, etc., etc).
4.  Any other trends you notice in your previous answers?
5.  From what you know about yourself currently, sum up your personality, style, and character in one paragraph.

This is a small taste of a self identification exercise! I have many more to come for you later!  If you need more right now, there are all kinds of personality tests you can take out there!  The only one I’ve done myself that I liked much was the Myers-Briggs test but look for one you think you’d like yourself if you need more help!

What do you think? Did these questions help get your thinking juices flowing?

The Strength in Numbers

We all have haters… some of us have haters who are more hateful than the average, but we all have people who want to bag on what we’re doing or tell us the “right” way to run our lives.  Haters are like vultures who gather around someone who is venturing out of the pack into dangerous territory, just waiting for them to fail so they can swoop in and clean up.

If you are doing something unique, you can bet you’re going to hear about it in a negative context at some point… which is just perfect because you’re already insecure and afraid enough without hearing that others think you’re a hot mess as well! When you’re teetering on the edge of major decisions that are very different from the ones people around you are making, you are obviously going to feel very vulnerable and fearful.  At that point, all it takes is one hater to make you turn back around and head for the hills of comfort and normalcy.

I mentioned in my first post that community is key on this journey… and it really is.  If all the people in your life are criticizing or even laughing at your new ideas and challenges you’re extending to yourself, you’re going to cave eventually!  However, if you have at least one outlet of people who are on your side who are struggling through the same things you are, it can make all the difference in the world!  If you’re part of a group of people who are bonded around personal growth and moving forward with their lives for the purpose of finding who they are meant to be and benefiting those around them, you can’t help but want to move forward along with them!

Since I fully believe in the value of having an encouraging community, I’m going to use my Facebooking Ninja Skillz skills to help you find a group like that (if you already have a group like that, first, count your blessings and second, bring them along to connect with others!). Rare Existence has a Facebook page that is all about creating a supportive community to help you on your journey of extraordinary living!  This Facebook page is a newbie so it has some growing and changing to do, but you can be a part of prodding it along as it prods you along in your journey!  Join up and reach out to others and who knows, you might make some lifelong friends out of it!

Read more about the importance of community here and click to join the Facebook page for Rare Existence here.

Trying to partner with you partner

If you haven’t noticed, I say “we” a lot.

This is somewhat out of habit because my husband and I do spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week together. But some of it is because it’s pretty much impossible to talk about my life journey as a solo enterprise.  It’s done as a we so it makes sense to talk about it as a we.

It is going to be pretty difficult to choose a lifestyle, any lifestyle whether it’s extraordinary or not, if your life partner is not on board. If you’re the kind of sold out fan who’s waving extraordinary living flags in the air, taping quotes to your refrigerator, and making up sing-songy mantras to get you through your day… but your partner only rolls their eyes and prays this is just a stage… you might have a problem.

I hate to tell you this, but I actually have no idea what you’re supposed to do.

Every person is different, every relationship is different, and every situation is different. I can’t just throw out the magic potion to make this all better. You’re going to have to work through this the same way you work through any other disagreement in your relationship…. wait, I don’t mean using the silent treatment or withholding sex so maybe I should clarify that the right answer here is “COMMUNICATION”.

I believe that everyone has an extraordinary life that is waiting to be lived.

I don’t care how put-together, straight-laced, or practical your spouse is, I fully believe that they still have things in their life they feel pulled to but are afraid to do, everyone does.  And fear has lots of awesome costumes it uses to disguise itself.  Some of it’s favorite masks are logical thinking, self-sacrifice, and financial wisdom, along with many other things that are all just excuses. Don’t get me wrong, I whole heartedly believe in paying attention to all these factors when they are real issues. I’m talking about when these are not as big of a problem as people have chosen to believe they are… these are the times when fear is the real issue.

Fear is a pretty big deal! 

Fear creates passivity (complacency which leads to depression), the need to control things (comfort which leads to lack of freedom), and often times anger (frustration which can lead to relationship problems).  And this messy emotion, that tends to ruin everything, is in all of us.  So first of all I’m saying that if your partner is hesitant, give them a break!  Your fear may manifest itself in different ways than theirs does, but you still have some form of detrimental fear that is just as real and just as scary as theirs!

You never know, maybe the reason you feel called to live an extraordinary life is because you’re also meant to help your partner find theirs!

…no matter how resistant they may be at first!

From the moment you begin these conversations with your partner, just remember that both of you do have fear of some sort and that puts you on the same team from the beginning.  This is not a “you against them” battle. Just because your partner is afraid, doesn’t mean they don’t want an extraordinary life deep down, they probably just need help getting there.  You can be there to help them recognize their fears, break down their true obstacles, and find the freedom they crave to do what they’re meant to be doing with their life! What an amazing thing to be able to work through together and help one another with! Your job as partners is to help one another grow… this is just another piece to that.

Stay humble and open.

Remember that neither you or I (yes, I can admit it) have all the right answers. This is where humbleness kicks in (and I’m feeling the pain of that kick already). Just because your partner has an extraordinary life in mind, doesn’t mean it’s the same one you are thinking of. This is going to be one of many issues you’ll need to work through together. Start by each doing your own dreaming and then coming together to find the common points. Just keep in mind that your way may not be the right way. Your destiny does involve the person you chose to seek out your destiny with. So whether your decision to partner with them changed the course you would otherwise be on or not, you are now on this course so your job is to find a way to make it work for both of you.

When you start discussing these major life changes with your partner, it’s imperative that you really, truly listen to them, not just to get that part out of the way, but to really try to hear and understand where they’re coming from. So put down your sword, relax your defenses, and just sit down for a minute. This is more of a Mr. Miyagi kind of moment… a time that involves calm wisdom and listening which will lead to enlightenment over violence.

Stay patient and compassionate.

How well you’re able to listen to, value, and truly weigh and  consider your partner’s differing opinions says a lot about the kind of person you are. And the level of patience you’re able to have with your partner’s speed of growth and with the speed of your extraordinary living progress says a lot about how successful you will be in this endeavor together. If you’re mustering up all the compassionate, patient, loving, respectful, and humble bones in your body (and then going after the muscles, sinews, etc, etc) then I think you guys will be able to figure this one out.

So this is where you need to start… step by step with many slow, long conversations.  This involves much, MUCH listening from both sides.  You both need to feel the freedom to express your fears, your needs, and your desires.  Once you both feel heard and respected then you can start to see things from each other’s point of view and it’s only at this point that you can expect to move forward as a collective unit in whatever direction you are truly meant to go.

Hopefully one day, you’ll look back and smile fondly at these conversations that once occurred a whole other lifestyle ago.

 

Trying to partner with you partner

If you haven’t noticed, I say “we” a lot.

This is somewhat out of habit because my husband and I do spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week together. But some of it is because it’s pretty much impossible to talk about my life journey as a solo enterprise.  It’s done as a we so it makes sense to talk about it as a we.

It is going to be pretty difficult to choose a lifestyle, any lifestyle whether it’s extraordinary or not, if your life partner is not on board. If you’re the kind of sold out fan who’s waving extraordinary living flags in the air, taping quotes to your refrigerator, and making up sing-songy mantras to get you through your day… but your partner only rolls their eyes and prays this is just a stage… you might have a problem.

I hate to tell you this, but I actually have no idea what you’re supposed to do.

Every person is different, every relationship is different, and every situation is different. I can’t just throw out the magic potion to make this all better. You’re going to have to work through this the same way you work through any other disagreement in your relationship…. wait, I don’t mean using the silent treatment or withholding sex so maybe I should clarify that the right answer here is “COMMUNICATION”.

I believe that everyone has an extraordinary life that is waiting to be lived.

I don’t care how put-together, straight-laced, or practical your spouse is, I fully believe that they still have things in their life they feel pulled to but are afraid to do, everyone does.  And fear has lots of awesome costumes it uses to disguise itself.  Some of it’s favorite masks are logical thinking, self-sacrifice, and financial wisdom, along with many other things that are all just excuses. Don’t get me wrong, I whole heartedly believe in paying attention to all these factors when they are real issues. I’m talking about when these are not as big of a problem as people have chosen to believe they are… these are the times when fear is the real issue.

Fear is a pretty big deal! 

Fear creates passivity (complacency which leads to depression), the need to control things (comfort which leads to lack of freedom), and often times anger (frustration which can lead to relationship problems).  And this messy emotion, that tends to ruin everything, is in all of us.  So first of all I’m saying that if your partner is hesitant, give them a break!  Your fear may manifest itself in different ways than theirs does, but you still have some form of detrimental fear that is just as real and just as scary as theirs!

You never know, maybe the reason you feel called to live an extraordinary life is because you’re also meant to help your partner find theirs!

…no matter how resistant they may be at first!

From the moment you begin these conversations with your partner, just remember that both of you do have fear of some sort and that puts you on the same team from the beginning.  This is not a “you against them” battle. Just because your partner is afraid, doesn’t mean they don’t want an extraordinary life deep down, they probably just need help getting there.  You can be there to help them recognize their fears, break down their true obstacles, and find the freedom they crave to do what they’re meant to be doing with their life! What an amazing thing to be able to work through together and help one another with! Your job as partners is to help one another grow… this is just another piece to that.

Stay humble and open.

Remember that neither you or I (yes, I can admit it) have all the right answers. This is where humbleness kicks in (and I’m feeling the pain of that kick already). Just because your partner has an extraordinary life in mind, doesn’t mean it’s the same one you are thinking of. This is going to be one of many issues you’ll need to work through together. Start by each doing your own dreaming and then coming together to find the common points. Just keep in mind that your way may not be the right way. Your destiny does involve the person you chose to seek out your destiny with. So whether your decision to partner with them changed the course you would otherwise be on or not, you are now on this course so your job is to find a way to make it work for both of you.

When you start discussing these major life changes with your partner, it’s imperative that you really, truly listen to them, not just to get that part out of the way, but to really try to hear and understand where they’re coming from. So put down your sword, relax your defenses, and just sit down for a minute. This is more of a Mr. Miyagi kind of moment… a time that involves calm wisdom and listening which will lead to enlightenment over violence.

Stay patient and compassionate.

How well you’re able to listen to, value, and truly weigh and  consider your partner’s differing opinions says a lot about the kind of person you are. And the level of patience you’re able to have with your partner’s speed of growth and with the speed of your extraordinary living progress says a lot about how successful you will be in this endeavor together. If you’re mustering up all the compassionate, patient, loving, respectful, and humble bones in your body (and then going after the muscles, sinews, etc, etc) then I think you guys will be able to figure this one out.

So this is where you need to start… step by step with many slow, long conversations.  This involves much, MUCH listening from both sides.  You both need to feel the freedom to express your fears, your needs, and your desires.  Once you both feel heard and respected then you can start to see things from each other’s point of view and it’s only at this point that you can expect to move forward as a collective unit in whatever direction you are truly meant to go.

Hopefully one day, you’ll look back and smile fondly at these conversations that once occurred a whole other lifestyle ago.

 

The Discipline Of Dreaming (a project)

Most people don’t spend their days thinking about “what could be”.  And if they do, they are most likely thinking pretty small like “if I only I had enough money to get my car detailed instead of just hosed down”, or “I wish I had the time to go shopping this weekend”, or even smaller, “too bad this isn’t a white mocha with whipped cream instead of a non-fat latte”.  Yes my friends, this is what American dreaming has become!  These are the things we spend our days pining for…with a little “I wish I could go on a week long dream vacation” mixed in on particularly long Mondays.  But the kind of dreaming we’re going to start doing is the “3 wishes, genie in a lamp” kind.  I don’t care if you’re picturing a silly blonde genie who hangs out with Major Nelson, or a big blue guy that sounds an awful lot like Robin Williams… as long as your 3rd wish is to cheat and wish for more wishes, because this time you get as many as you want!

Ever since I began the “discipline of dreaming” I’ve been amazed by how incredibly hard it is! 

You’d think it’d be easy to figure out what you want in life if you could have/do/be anything!  But it’s not!  Most people can’t figure it out without putting a lot of time into it, myself included. We’re overwhelmed… either by the amount of options,  by the challenges in making them happen, or by our lack of knowledge about ourselves.  But dreaming is a necessary beginning for extraordinary living because in order to find the life you are meant to live, you need at least some idea of what’s important to you.

Your “pre-project” project.

It’s time to stop believing that the good life is for everyone else. It’s time to start finding your own good/extraordinary life. So I’m giving you a project today. But before we start I have to tell you about one of the main things that I believe will make the difference between people who will read this blog and then forget about it, versus people who will read this blog as a guide while they actually change their life. The difference?  WRITING ABOUT IT. I don’t care if you are the “writing type” or not. If you are the “person type” then when it comes to changing your life, unraveling your identity, or anything that requires any self-reflection at all (so basically everything in this blog), you will only make it so far if you don’t commit to spending a good amount of time and thought investing yourself in it.  Writing it down will help you clarify your thoughts and give you something to build on as you go. So your “pre-project” project is: Designate a place to write down everything you learn about yourself, think deeper on, or complete as a project while following Rare Existence.

Your Project.

Since (you guessed it) your project assignment is going to be to start dreaming (dream as individuals first, then together with your spouse/partner), I’m going to give you an example of what my dreaming looked like in stage 1. I think this will also make you feel better if you think you might be too lame, weird, shallow, or… sort of retarded,  to live an extraordinary life- since as you are about to see… I too am all those things.

Breanna’s dreams:
Be on Chelsea Lately (I’m not a comedian or an actress- the 2 main requirements for the show- but I’ll find a way).
Become a published author.
Have a house with a fancy guest room where people can come to feel rested.
Travel to all the major world cities (New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Rome).
Only work 1-2 days a week for the rest of my life.
Continually audit college classes for enrichment.
Have a long-term community of people around me that I love and live life with.
Spend one day like a millionaire.
Learn to be a great multi-media artist.
Swim with dolphins (yes, even after watching “The Cove”- call me heartless, but I REALLY want to do this!).
Change someone’s life 180 degrees for the better.
Spend a day in the most beautiful garden in the world.
Own a smart fridge (if it plans recipes and grocery shops for me).
Have a good enough budget that I’ll never be in debt and always have extra to give.
Go to Disneyland at Christmas time.
Go on a romantic date in New York at Christmas time.
Raise extremely healthy (physically, emotionally, spiritually) kids.
Have a home that is seen as the “community hang out” for our friends.
Often be an “anonymous donor” when I hear of a major financial need.
Have my own art room.
Spend 1 month with my friends in Malaysia.
Learn what “healthy eating” is and stick to it for the rest of my life.
Learn fluent Spanish (8 semesters of Spanish with no memory of any of it, says this is a bigger dream than it sounds).
Be taken on surprise trips by my husband with all the details worked out ahead of time.
Host a beautiful garden party
Host an awesome rooftop party on a high rise in the middle of a downtown somewhere.
Do some public speaking from time to time.
Get my old ’66 Mustang back and keep it in good condition as a “fun weekend car”.
Stay under 130 lbs for the rest of my life (not counting pregnancy of course!)
Be a terrific influence on my grandkids and very active/involved in their lives.
Have the time to volunteer for any organization I really believe in.
Find ways of exercising that I really enjoy and stick to a regular workout schedule for life.
Make a movie with my husband.
Always have my own pretty outdoor space where I can go to find relaxation and peace.

So Your project is: Write down your dreams. If it helps, go buy that coffee mug at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf that says, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” to drink your inspiration juice out of while working on this project (it actually did help me to think of some of this as an answer to that question).  Just write…no matter what you discover about yourself, no matter how petty you feel, and no matter how scared it makes you. If it frees you up to write the truth, I give you permission to sign someone else’s name on your list (as long as it’s not mine).