Is it “just life” or just a lie?

“That’s  just  life”.

I’ve  been  hearing  that  since  I  was  a  child.

“But  daaaaad,  I  want  a power pad for my Nintendo, LA Gear hi tops, tickets to the Paula Abdul concert, and the Saved by the Bell board game. ”
Without skipping a beat or even looking up from what he was doing, my dad would say, “that’s  just  life.  So  go  to  your  room and run in place for a few hours in your Kmart Keds, while listening to the Paula Abdul songs you taped from the radio and making up your own Saved by the Bell trivia from the hours of that stupid show that you have memorized… and consider yourself lucky for having a roof over your head to do all that in.”

“But daaaad, I want a pager, a Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper, a hyper color jumpsuit, and AOL instant messaging like ALL my friends have!!”
And again, my dad would smoothly follow that up with, “that’s just life. When I was a kid and we wanted to get a hold of someone we just yelled their name until they yelled back, we wrote on stone tablets that wouldn’t fit in fancy trapper keepers, the only “hyper color” we had were the weird rashes that we got when the McCormick kids touched us, and when we wanted to message someone we left hieroglyphics on the cave walls and didn’t have to keep track of how many of the 130 free hours we’d used from CD’s we got in the mail!

Cue my eye roll, audible groan, and stomping off to slam my bedroom door.

In other words, it didn’t  take  long  for  me  to  learn  to  translate  “that’s  just  life”  to  “stop  whining  and  leave  me  the  hell  alone”.  I  got  pretty  used  to  that  phrase.

So I was pretty surprised to find as an adult that this phrase still evoked a strong emotional response from me.

“But  (person  who was NOT my  dad),  I  hate  getting  up  every  single  morning  at  5am,  driving  through  traffic  to  sit  behind  a  desk  doing  only  boring  things,  driving  home,  yelling  at  my  husband  because  I  hate  this  day  and  every  other  day,  then  going  to  bed  without  doing  a  single  thing I actually consider important in life,  only  to  get  up  the  next  day  and  the  day  after  that  to  do  the  same  thing.  It  feels  so  meaningless  and  I  feel  like  life  is  a  gift  and  I’m  totally  wasting  it.  Sure  I  understand  the  value  of  hard work,  but  isn’t  it  possible  for  that  hard work  to  go  into  something  I  love  or  that  makes  a  difference  in  the  world?  Surely  we  are  all meant  to  do  different  things  in  different  ways  since  we  are  all  made  so  differently.  Someone  else  might  totally  thrive  at  this  job  and  love  using  their  gifts  here  but  I  just  don’t  think  I’m  cut  out  for  it.”

“That’s  just  life”.

Like the many times when I’d heard this as a child, I lost my temper. But unlike the olden days, this time I didn’t just pout and walk away.  Instead I narrowed my eyes that had been widened by the shock, and dove in to make my point.
“Yes,  but  it  doesn’t  HAVE  to  be  that  way.  It’s  not  my  husband’s  life!  While  I’m  getting  up  in  the  cold  early  morning,  he’s  lying  in  bed  where  he’ll  sleep  until  10am.  Then  tonight  while  I’m  getting  ready  to  go  to  bed  early,  he’ll  be  getting  ready  to  go  out  with  the college students  he’s  mentoring  to  have  fun  with  them.  He’s  doing  something  he  loves AND  he’s  making  a  difference  in  the  world. Why  shouldn’t  I  try  for  the  same  things?”

Needless to say, I didn’t hear much more about it from that person after my sort of rude and as some would say, “socially inappropriate”, outburst.

I just don’t believe it.

The thing is that I’ll  believe  you  if  you  say, “I too wish I could be living differently but I’m too scared to try” or ” sure that sounds awesome but I’m not willing to work hard enough to create that kind of change”. Whatever you say, don’t say “that’s  just  life”. Because it’s NOT just life. Life doesn’t HAVE to be like that. In fact, I don’t think it’s SUPPOSED to be like that! I think we’re supposed to be truly living and reaching for more in life than just basic survival! I believe we should be doing what it takes to live a life of meaning and using all that is in us to do our very best to find out what we’re meant to do in life… and then take the risk, put in the effort, and face the fears that will lead us to our Rare Existence (whether that guide us to a 8-5 office job with a family, or a shot at the silver screen with a pet monkey).

When I’m wanting a bunch of useless stuff, that might not even be good for me (is a hyper color jumpsuit really good for anyone?!), and I’m wanting it just to be cool like my friends or to chat with said cool friends on the new information super highway, I’m fine if my dad or anyone else says “that’s just life”. But when it comes down to what’s really important in life, don’t say “that’s just life” because really, “that’s just a lie”…. and I refuse to believe it.

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Goal Setting Resources for 2013

Alright guys, goal setting time is upon us!

Resist the urge to go all hipster/ironic, or emo/anti everything, when it comes to goals. Yes, I know that only capitalistic robots who have been brainwashed by corporate America would even dream of doing something so cliche as setting goals that begin on January 1st (heaven forbid). But stop trying to be unique for just one second so you can realize that, guess what? You need to do it SOMETIME, and since most of us don’t remember the rest of the year, now is a perfect time!

To help you with your 2013 goal setting, I’ve come up with a list of resources to give you some direction!

 

Goal Setting Resources:

Discovering who you are…

Rare Existence Posts:
1. Finding a valuable identity
2. Give them something (good) to remember you by
3. Discovering who you are

Outside Resources:
1. Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath
2. Myers Briggs Personality Test

 

Dreaming about what you want to do…

Rare Existence Posts:
1. The Discipline of Dreaming
2. Your ideal life
3. Your entire life in one word.

Outside Resources:
1. 5: Where Will You Be 5 Years from Today? by Dan Zadra

 

Setting goals and making a plan…

Rare Existence Posts:
1. Baby Steps… yes that’s a real thing.

Outside Resources:
1. Your Best Year Yet  by Jinny S. Ditzler (I apologize, it’s a little boring, but it’s the only one I know of that gets the job done!)

 

Encouragement…

Rare Existence Posts:
1. John Mayer is a Liar and Peter Pan is a hero
2. Do Epic Shit
3. Remember why it’s worth it
4. Patience Grasshopper
5. You can do it my dear
6. Manifesting your manifest friend

Outside Resources
1. The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson *
2. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller *
*FYI: Both of these are Christian books, but still very encouraging even if you don’t agree with everything in them.
December is going to fly by, so I want to hear sounds of goal setting screaming from your computers now! Go, go, gadget goals!!!!

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Manifesting your Manifest Friend (a project)

I once knew a girl who had a plan.
She had a plan because she had “Manifest Monday’s” with her best friend every week. This day would consist of them getting together and writing their own personal lists of things they wanted to see happen in their lives. Big or small, they’d write the dream down and then write down the steps they needed to take in order to get there. And guess what? Their dreams came true one by one.

There’s power in knowing and defining your dreams.
There’s something magical about writing down the things that require bravery just to think about them.  I’ve heard that goals that are written down are around 80% more likely to come true than goals that are vague and not clearly written down (I’m not completely sure if that percentage is accurate, that’s just what I’ve heard). Even still, you can write things down until your fingers are raw, but they are still much less likely to come true than they are if you also write out the steps you need to accomplish them. Once you have the dreams and the steps, don’t forget that there’s power in numbers. It’s a big deal when you voice something out loud to someone that seems crazy. Mostly because it means you might actually do it!

Manifesting my Manifest Friend.
I actually wrote this post before I even knew my Manifest Friend who I’d eventually find myself voicing my crazies out loud to. I’m glad I waited to post it until I found her, not only to hide my hypocriteness, but also because now that I do have a wonderful Manifest Friend, I actually understand the significance of the words I wrote about how important it is to find one!
You know those moments when you’re like “I think my chest is collapsing, or wait, maybe the sky is falling….  or whatever it is, everything in me seems to be caving in”? And you know those other moments when you’re like, “I feel like skipping, I think I’m going to skip… maybe I’ll whistle a tune while I’m at it!”. OK, well having a Manifest Friend means that even if I start the day in the first moment, I end up in the second moment by the time we finish our meeting together. I can’t quite explain this phenomenon. Maybe it’s having someone who relates to my struggles…Alanna is an actress/model/musician so she knows the pain of never knowing when your next paycheck is coming, of having to self motivate since there’s no boss to do it for you, and of having your finances be dependent on whether or not people like you, etc. Maybe it’s having someone to be honest with, even when it’s about the things on your “I’m not so good at and I need to fix_____” list. Maybe it’s having someone to encourage you when they hear about something particularly brave or ambitious that you’re trying to accomplish. Whatever it is, all I know is that every time I leave our little once or twice a month meetings where we discuss our progress on the goals we emailed one another with at the beginning of the month, I’m amazed at how much brighter the world seems and how much smaller my problems feel.

Today is your day.
I know they don’t grow manifest friends on trees, but if you start looking, you might be surprised that you actually do find a ripe one! And I’ll give you super, extra, one-up, flower power, bonus points if you start searching for that person today. I don’t care how you do your manifesting; you can work together on identifying your dreams and the steps towards them (as my Manifest Mondays friend did), or you can just work on holding each other accountable for your specific monthly goals that you’ve identified on your own time (as Alanna and I do). However you do it, just do it.

The steps to take.
1. Define your dreams by writing them down.
2. Write out the steps required to accomplish those dreams.
3. Discuss these with a friend.
4. Rinse and repeat.

P.S. If you need help identifying your dreams, check out my posts “The Discipline of Dreaming” and “Your Ideal Life

Remember Why It’s Worth It

In case you haven’t decided if you’re ready to make the necessary sacrifices for your extraordinary life, or if things have been getting a rough lately and you just need a little encouragement to remember why you’re doing it, let me tell you a little about what has changed in my life since I began pursuing a Rare Existence. You need to know that the concept of extraordinary living is not just a pipe dream, but that it is an actual reality for many, and it can be for you too!

You can work from anywhere.
In fact, I am currently sitting on vacation in a cute little workspace at a stunning log cabin in the forest of Northern Arizona, listening to the beautiful rain.

You can work whenever you want.
Hence, it being the middle of a weekday afternoon and I’m enjoying my time writing, not working at my main job.

You can have a job you love.
I get to be creative and work with people on the happiest day of their lives.

You can have the ability to move wherever you want.
I have always wanted to live in Los Angeles and now I do live in Los Angeles.

You can have a beautiful marriage.
I now get to really live the majority of my life with my husband. We share in the same excitements, hopes, dreams, etc. that come from having many common goals in our work together.

You can be a stay at home parent.
When we have kids, I now have the ability to not only be a stay at home mom but to have my husband stay home with us as well… stay at home parents raising a family together!

You can live debt free.
We have no obligations, fears of bankruptcy, foreclosure, bills we can never pay.  With this comes much freedom and peace.

You can take 1 month, 2 month, or even 3 month vacations.
In this past year we went to Hawaii for 3 weeks, Mexico for 3 weeks, and Venice, California for 3 months (before we made the decision to live there).

You can live your life in a way that prioritizes relationships over all else.
When people call to hang out, we have the choice to go whether it’s late at night or right smack in the middle of the day. And we live in the kind of community where that happens almost daily!

You can live a life that matches up to your values.
We now have the choice where we what to put the majority of our time, energy, and effort.  We now just have to focus on continuing to choose well!

You can do something meaningful with your life.
We have big dreams, and we are doing everything we can to make decisions that will set us up to accomplish those!

 

I’m not kidding. This is our life.  Seriously, write out your dreams and start taking those crazy, scary steps towards accomplishing them (revisit the discipline of dreaming post)! We had to do it… we had to take the risks and walk on some shaky ground, and we continue to push through challenges as a result of our choices, but the end result is so SO worth it! Do it. Start dreaming and doing now. I’ll see you soon on the road towards extraordinary living!

 

You can do it my dear

This post is dedicated to two of my friends (you know who you are).

 

“You can do it my dear.” That is what I told myself when my husband and I both went full time into our new photography business which has continued to support us for the past 3 years.

“You can do it my dear.” That is what my friend, Kelli, told herself as she gave up her successful career to start up her non-profit organization that now helps hundreds of foster children every year.

“You can do it my dear.” That is what my friend Molly told herself (and her husband!) as he went in to reverse his vasectomy after they decided that extraordinary living for them means having and raising as many children as possible (they now have 4 boys and are pregnant with their 5th baby!).

“You can do it my dear.” That is what my friend, Nicole, told herself when she started up her blog that now has a large fan base and is leading to major speaking opportunities which enable her to help all kinds of people in more ways than she dreamed possible.

“You can do it my dear.” That is what my friend Christina told herself when her and her husband decided to start saving their money to fulfill their dream of living on Maui- which they succeeded in doing 5 years later.

“You can do it my dear.” That is what my friend Julia told herself as she gave up her life, time, and energy to nursing school because what she is meant to do with her life is help people.

“You can do it my dear.” That is what my friend Lynn told herself as her and her husband set off to leave their home in Phoenix and live in Chicago for a year… just to have an adventure.

“You can do it my dear.” That is what my friend Abby told herself when she moved to Africa to start housing and taking care of orphaned children there.

“You can do it my dear.” That is what my friend Katie told herself when she started sewing wedding dresses out of old tablecloths and soon became busier than she could handle sewing all kinds of unique women’s clothing.

“You can do it my dear.” That is what I want you to tell yourself next time you have a dream, inkling or idea, that seems made of equal parts amazing and impossible.

“You can do it my dear.” That is what I want you to tell your friends when they share their big dreams and ideas with you… right before you pull out a pen and paper and help them write out the steps to accomplish their plan.

YOU can do it my dear(s).

 

Sometimes Lauryn Hill just says it better than me

I’m not sure if it’s her raspy voice or her slight east coast accent that makes you know she’s awesome… but there’s just something about Lauryn Hill that makes everything she says sound extra true!

I do know that it’s her vulnerability that makes me love her. If you’ve never seen or heard her MTV Unplugged 2.0 video… GET IT! I’m giving you a little clip here, but it’s not nearly as powerful without the music and the rest of her story backing it up. Basically, she went on national television and broke down, laid it out, preached, and just spoke straight up truth… all while being completely unprepared and almost too emotional to finish her songs. In other words, I L-O-V-E it!

In this particular section I’ve chosen for you to listen to,  Lauryn’s talking about how her life of fame, glamor, and beauty fell apart and she began discovering and owning the real her… not the public image of her… but the legit Lauryn, full of flaws and all (as you will even hear in the clip when she can’t find the lyric sheet she needs).

The reason I’m including it here is because it’s so inspiring to hear from someone who’s “made it” and who has achieved an extraordinary life, who is willing to  be open and share the lessons she learned along the way. Most of it has to do with how once she found who she really is and what she’s meant to do she found freedom.

Preach it sister.

Patience Grasshopper

Blah. I was laying sprawled out on our couch feeling blah and puzzling my husband. I had no idea what was wrong, all I knew was I felt frustrated and negative for seemingly no reason…which only causes MORE frustration and negativity! 

I realized I hadn’t been outside all day so that might help. I walked down to the boardwalk and as soon as I caught sight of the ocean I felt an irresistible urge to head towards it with as much energy and force I had left in me. So I did. 

I sank down into the sand practically shaking and still so upset and angry that I didn’t know what my problem was. I haven’t felt angst like that since I was a teenager. 

I just relaxed, stopped analyzing, and watched the lifeguard pace nervously as the surfers caught bigger and bigger waves while the sun began to set. It was a beautiful time for the beach and I just sat back and allowed myself to enjoy just being a part of it.

Then actual, specific frustrations (with real reasons) kicked in so I finally has something legit to think about. They just began hitting me in short phrases with only a second or two between each thought.

I SHOULD BE ABLE TO SURF BY NOW. WHY CAN’T I SURF? I LIVE ON THE BEACH! I’M RETARDED.

I SHOULD HAVE A JOGGING/ EXERCISE ROUTINE BY NOW LIKE THAT LADY WITH 40 YEAR OLD BUNS OF STEEL JOGGING OVER THERE. I LIVE IN CALIFORNIA AND I SHOULD BE ALL HEALTHY AND IN- SHAPE LIKE A TRUE CALIFORNIAN. I’M PATHETIC.

WHY DON’T I HAVE LOTS OF GOOD FRIENDS HERE YET? WHY DOESN’T ANYONE WANT TO HANG OUT WITH ME? I MUST BE TOO LAME FOR PEOPLE AROUND HERE.

WHY AREN’T WE BOOKING MANY WEDDINGS/PHOTO SHOOTS IN LA YET? I MUST BE A TERRIBLE PHOTOGRAPHER.

WHY DON’T I ENJOY WHERE I LIVE MORE? I HARDLY EVER GO TO THE BEACH, HANG OUT ON THE BOARDWALK, OR GO TO THE INCREDIBLE RESTAURANTS IN WALKING DISTANCE! I AM SO BORING AND UNGRATEFUL AND I DON’T DESVE TO LIVE HERE. 

I know, what the hell right?! Talk about negative,  self- defeating thoughts!  No wonder I feel depressed! That’s what’s going on in my head that I’m not even aware of?!

That’s when a single word hit me.  A word that freed me and made me start laughing out loud with relief. 

PATIENCE.

Patience!! I just uprooted and changed my life less than 3 weeks ago! Of course I haven’t adjusted to my new lifestyle, location, or relationships! I’ve barely had time to finish the actual physical part of the transitions, not to mention the emotional, mental, spiritual, ad relational parts! Give myself a break, me!!!

Why would I ever believe or expect myself to become an entirely new person in 2 1/2 weeks?! Especially considering I’ve spent that entire time unpacking and catching up on work that moving put me behind on. I’m embarrassed to tell you how a completely unrealistic and unreasonable I was being. What am I, 8?!

Personal growth and change takes time. Lots of time. It can only be done one step at a time. And often, one very slow step at a time.

The reason the word patience gave me freedom was because it IS happening so I can relax. I’ve done my part by taking care of what I can and now I wait. I think my fear takes over and pushes me to try to take control and force things to happen. You can only push so hard before it’s time to just sit back and let time enable your efforts to take root. 

So just remember as you’re pursuing your rare existence…it does take a long time. There is only so much of it that you can control. Do the work, then take time to sit back and enjoy the process. Just know that it is a process and it is happening. It’s on it’s way, you’ve got it going. Now stop and enjoy the little successes that are happening along the way.

(UPDATE: It has been almost a year since I wrote this and I wanted to let you know that it has now been confirmed to be completely true. I knew I’m always right! I’m not exactly where I want to be yet, but I addressed many of these problems- minus the surfing- one at a time, then gave the changes time to take root, and voila! I have made significant progress in my life! So I’m telling you… there’s totally hope!!)J

P.S. please pray for the health and well being of my adorable quote image (you know, the one you guys are supposed to be sharing on Pinterest?!). He’s been trapped on my computer that got sucked into a time warp where wifi doesn’t exist. Be brave my little yellow friend.

“Fame” brings a definition of success

“There are some things success is not.

It’s not fame, it’s not money or power.

Success is….

Waking up in the morning, so excited about what you have to do that you literally fly out of the door.
It’s getting to work with people you love.
Success is connecting with the world and making people feel.
It’s finding a way to bind together people who have nothing in common but a dream.
It’s falling asleep at night knowing you did the best job you could.

Success is…
Joy…
and friendship…
and success is LOVE.”

OK I didn’t write any of that. It’s a speech from the movie “Fame” and I love it. I have to go work on my own definition of success now and I suggest you do the same.

What’s your definition?

 

Do Epic Shit

How do you respond when your husband tells you he wants to be a street artist?

My response included the following:

1. Don’t get arrested.

2. Don’t destroy someone’s property or cause a lot of work for anyone.

3. Say something good.

I know number two could be difficult to adhere to, but I think it’s possible. He was fine with that since he doesn’t really believe in most of the common street art messages anyways like “people shouldn’t be allowed to own property, so I will destroy it” or “consumerism must die so I will destroy an advertisement that cost someone thousands or even millions”.

Messages like those are all I ever saw in street art, even as my husband and I started having long discussions about the values, meaning, and purpose behind it. And then came that one fateful day when I saw a piece of street art that resonated with everything in me and completely rocked my world.

DO EPIC SHIT.

That’s what it said. That’s all it said. That’s all it needed to say… and it hit me like a ton of bricks had just been catapulted into my stomach (except that I lived through it of course). It was a stamp. Which means, it’s all over the place. Which means, the message is spreading.

Finally I saw the strong truth behind street art. The kind of rebellious truth that everyone always tells me it stands for, but I never understood until now. Use your talents to spread a message. A message that will benefit everyone who sees it and takes it to heart. Speak truth, speak it loud, confidently, often, and publicly.

DO EPIC SHIT.

The next time I was in an uncomfortable situation that roused my insecurities, this phrase resonated through my head.

DO EPIC SHIT.

I was on my way to a party with a bunch of people I didn’t know, but I wanted to get to know since I’m in a new town and need friends. Is my outfit too French? Will my drink be too girly? Will my jokes make sense? Will they deem me cool enough to be one of them?

DO EPIC SHIT.

Why am I worrying about this? If I can’t even sit in a room with really nice strangers and acquaintances for a few hours, then I will never be able to do anything epic.

DO EPIC SHIT.

Then again, this tiny little non-epic moment is probably actually part of me reaching my epic moment. It’s growth. It’s a step. It’s leaving my comfort zone. It’s all a step in the right direction and I’m taking it.

DO EPIC SHIT.

Don’t worry, I will. And I encourage you to do the same.

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