What I wanted to be when I grew up.

What I wanted to be when I grew up…

Age 4: A Mermaid. “Amy Grant-Ariel- Mermaid” to be exact. Yes, you heard that right. My cousin and I had an Amy Grant fan club too – so embarrassing.  I think we only had one fan club meeting and we ate brownies. The rest of the time I mostly just swam with my feet locked together  like a fin and spent my time trying to convince my cousin that I was the REAL Amy Grant- Ariel- Mermaid and she was just my twin. She bought it- sorry Bethany.

Age 6: A better version of April O’Neil. I wanted to hang out with the Ninja Turtles like April, only I’d be better because I could fly. I day dreamed of flying around in the sky in my black skorts and hi-top sneakers, while singing, high above my school playground at recess where all the kids could see and wish they were as cool as me. At that exact moment, my good buddy Michelangelo would kick spin onto the playground and hand out free pizza to everyone before fighting off the bad guys that arrived to get free pizza. I was the coolest kid in the world… in my 6 year old mind.

Age 8: A pet groomer. As you can see, I was growing up and my dreams were a little more realistic. More so than my little brother Paul’s, who’s ultimate career dreams were to be either an elevator operator or a car valet, only he wouldn’t make people pay because he’d just do them to be nice. I was way more practical than that. Until that is, my mom told me that I’d spend my days picking poop off poodles butts and I yelled at her “you ALWAYS crush my dreams!!!” before running to my room crying, where I decided I didn’t really want to do that anyways.

Age 10: Sea World trainer. Free Willy made a pretty big impact on me. Even after I saw the movie “Orca” where killer whales are actually killing, I was still on board. I thought I could change them. This dream never faded, I still want to do it. So all of you “The Cove” lovers out there, just accept it- I’m a bad person.

Age 11-15: A famous singer. I WILL be discovered while singing in my car one day. You’ll see.

Age 16: A social worker for foster kids. Until that is I was sobbing so incredibly hard (and loud) through the entire first half of the movie, The Sixth Sense, that my boyfriend at the time had to drag my out of the theater wailing. Yep, The Sixth Sense, a completely not at all sad movie, during which I couldn’t stop being sad because that poor little boy was scared all the time! I remember collecting my composure outside the theater when my boyfriend said, “um, maybe you shouldn’t be a social worker, you MIGHT not be able to handle it”.

Age 19: Film Soundtrack Producer: This was my answer to the question, “if you could have any job in the world…” This dream still lived on in my heart until I moved to LA and saw how sucky some of the jobs in the film industry really are. Especially if I end up having to spend my days picking out music for the Wiggles or something like that. Call me disillusioned.

Age 20: No idea. I loved when we’d go around my Family and Human Development classes at ASU and ask what everyone wanted to do when they graduated and all you’d get was, “I don’t know”, ” I don’t know”, “I don’t know”. I thought that was probably a bad sign.

Age 23: Still no idea. I was getting my Masters of Arts in Professional Counseling, but I knew I didn’t want to be a typical counselor sitting in an office. Go figure.

Age 25: A photographer. I’d tried my hand at real world jobs and then went, wait this sucks. I want a pretend job like my husband (who was a photographer)!

Age 27: A writer. Thus Rare Existence was born.

Age 29 (now): It’s complicated. What I want to do with my life has less to do with what it is that I do specifically and more to do with how it supports the rest of my life.
Not necessarily money wise (but duh, that’s important), but more values wise. I’ve been investing my time into figuring out what is important to me in the rest of my life so that when I find a job that supports that well, I’ll know it!  I’ve also been investing energy into some personal growth issues that I feel will better open me up to being the person I need to be in order to do the things I need and want to do in life.

After investing my time into working through those sorts of issues, I now know I want a job that I enjoy well enough that will allow me to have the flexibility I need to make whatever decision I deem is best for my family.
Freedom (time, financial, geographical, etc, etc) is key. If my husband and I decide to take a year to sail around the world with our family to teach our kids that way, right on- we want to be able to do it. If the public school system turns into a brainwashing, 1984-esque military camp and homeschooling is the only way around that, right on- we want to have the ability to do that! I know I can’t control everything, but the goal I want to work towards is to do my best to never be in a position where I don’t have the freedom to choose what I know is right for my family. P.S. having “freedom for my family” means my husband has to have freedom as well so becoming a Real Housewife of Orange County is sadly out of the question for me.

So now I’m getting to the point where I’m ready to start investing into the actual logistics of this mystical career that will provide me and my family with the values I’m craving for us.
Right now it looks like photography will always be a part of that, but I feel like there will probably be more to it in the end because I know I have the desire in me to do more than just give people with lasting memories through photos (not that it’s not important, I just want to use my talents in other ways as well). I want to help people learn. I prefer to help them learn through artistic and beautiful means, like how a fantastic movie, book, or song can make you think in ways that causes you to change your life. How that will play out exactly is still unknown. Will I do all those things for money? Not necessarily, maybe I’ll find a job that provides enough through working a little so that I can do the rest of these things just because I enjoy it (taking notes off my brother who now is an elevator operator and car valet for free). I don’t believe a career necessarily has to be what dictates how I spend my time. In fact I prefer that it doesn’t because as soon as something becomes a “have to” for me, I tend to resent it immediately!

Basically there are two options for me, and both include providing a life of freedom for my family.
One, I just find an incredibly flexible job(s) that provides freedom for my family, that I also really love and feel like I’m “meant to do”. Two, I could just find a job(s) that I enjoy somewhat that provides the most amount of money for the least amount of work so that I’m free to spend the rest of my time doing what I need to with my family and whatever else it is that I’m “meant to do”.  Asking for too much? We’ll see. The benefits to this would be so great that I’m willing to try it before giving up on it! By the way, I know that drug dealing sounds like the best solution to this, but that is definitely off the table for me. Stripping? Off the table. Any sort of illegal activity that could result in either stabbings, sex for money, or a warrant for my arrest… off the table. If I have to carry a concealed weapon on me at all times in order to perform my job… so far off the table, I can’t even see the table anymore. Writing is definitely still on the table. Teaching, speaking, life coaching, etc., etc. are all on the table for discussion. It’s just one step at a time and exploring different aspects until I find my fit!  But as long as whatever it is includes a life of freedom for me and my family, then I’m in!

Your turn! What did you want to be when you grew up and what are you looking forward to doing with your life in the future?

 

The Extraordinary Family Life

A traditional family life is a beautiful thing. The 2.5 kids, white picket fence, stay at home mom, a dog…. it’s really a great lifestyle… if it’s the one you’re meant to be living.

In truth, I really support this lifestyle and many times I even envy it. The only time I have a problem with it is when people believe its the ONLY way to live, regardless of whether it’s meant for them or not. In truth, it seems like this is the easiest lifestyle to fall into without realizing or questioning it. It’s the American dream, so it’s something many of us have been taught about since we were young.

If you are one of the people who is meant for this lifestyle, then congratulations you have found your “extraordinary word“!
What? You don’t think that “FAMILY” sounds extraordinary enough? Well it does because the extraordinary part is not as much about what the word itself is as it’s about the fact that you are living the life you are meant to be living. Ordinary living people just fall into life and never question whether it’s really right for them, extraordinary people question it, make conscious decisions, and live life intentionally. So if you played house from ages 2-22, your lifetime roll model is June Cleaver, and your favorite baby doll as a kid not only knew how to pee and poop but how to say her ABC’s backwards, do the dishes, and resolve conflict with her younger brother… and if nothing in the world sounds as good to you as spending majority of your time, life, and energy raising children… then congratulations you have uncovered what you are meant to be doing with your life!

However, just because you have kids, a husband with a 9-5 job, and a house with decorations in it, does not mean that FAMILY is your extraordinary word.
Don’t assume that just because having a family is a part of your extraordinary life, that it actually is the be all end all to your extraordinary life. And definitely don’t assume that FAMILY is your word just because that’s the word you think you’re supposed to have or that other people think you are supposed to have. You can have a family and still have a word like FREEDOM or ADVENTURE… they are not contradictory concepts. You will just be moving as a family into a life of freedom or adventure, rather than doing it by yourself.

Whether or not you have kids and whether or not your word is FAMILY, you can still choose to live an extraordinary life.
I don’t have any kids, so I know enough to know that I know nothing. I may not know stuff but I do see stuff. And what I see are people who have kids and who don’t have kids, managing to accomplish what they are meant to do in life. And I see other people who have kids and who don’t have kids, saying they will one day live the life they are meant to live though they never actually get around to doing it. I also see that there are different seasons in life meant for different things. I see people who put certain things on hold for a season and then pick them back up when it’s time for a new season. And I see other people who use difficult seasons as an excuse to never move forward and progress out of those particular seasons into new things. Whether or not you have kids has nothing to do with it, either way you get to choose the kind of person you want to be and how you want to live.

* So if your word is FAMILY, live it to the fullest and hopefully you will continue to see Rare Existence as a place of refuge, support, and community.

* So if your word is not family, but you do have a family, then continue on this journey alongside your family and the rest of us to find out what sort of extraordinary life is in store for you and your family to discover and live together.

* And if you don’t want anything to do with the word FAMILY ever in your life, then I’m not talking to you because you probably didn’t read this far in to this post anyways. 😉

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.

 

Our first choice between the ordinary and the extraordinary

The first choice between the ordinary and the extraordinary (i.e. between freedom and security) came for us before we were even engaged. I have already mentioned how one of my greatest fears was to end up with a passive man.  It seems to me that passivity in men rears it’s ugly head the most when they are exhausted; and nothing exhausts an American man more than a tiresome job.  If a man’s using all his energy to maintain a career, he has very little left for his family, or anything else in the rest of his life.  The career IS his life…. whether he likes it or not.

When I met Scottie, he was working about 75- 80 hours a week doing very difficult, physical labor.  When your boyfriend falls asleep in the middle of 1 out of every 3 dates… you have to wonder how awake he’d be throughout a marriage.  I knew I wanted a husband who would try to meet my emotional and intellectual needs as much as he tried to meet my financial needs.  If one of those areas is unbalanced, you can’t expect the others to thrive.  So I agreed to marry Scottie, provided that he quit his job because I was getting married so I could have a HUSBAND, not a nice house.  Scottie was happy to finally have something push him to quit since he didn’t like the monotony he saw in his future any more than I did, so he did it and we found ourselves a few months out from our wedding hoping that we’d be able to figure out how to make the free coffee I got from my part time job at Starbucks, in the cardboard box house we were going to have to live in.

Well guess what, we survived being poor.  I know, money is a huge cause of conflict between couples, but I really do think it’s a different story when make the CHOICE to be poor.   We had our stress from it, and we still believe in being wise with money so we’re definitely not preaching recklessness as the moral to this story.  The point is that we chose freedom and relationships over money and we continued to make that choice time and time again over the next few years as we struggled to make ends meet… but had lots of time to have fun together in the process.  Riding your bikes through the sprinklers at midnight is WAY better than a date at the fanciest restaurant that has to be over by 7pm so you can go to bed early and get up for the job you hate the next day.  We’d discovered the beauty of choosing freedom over security (which is what living an extraordinary life means for us)… and we were never going back.

So we had survived our first choice between ordinary and extraordinary… and in a move that has been repeated many times since, we chose extraordinary.

(Thanks to Terence Young for drawing this as a visual depiction for this post. My favorite part is actually what he said about why he drew this. He said, “The thing that entered my head as I read your post is that you’ve found a relationship that sets you two apart from the rest of the world, in some way you’re on your own little planet that you’ve created.” So sweet isn’t it?!  I loved this picture even more after reading that!)

Unfortunately you don’t get to ride off one good decision for the rest of your life… you have to make new decisions every day.  We still battle the pull of comfort and security on a regular basis (just so you know we live in a small apartment in a low income neighborhood… and almost everyday I think about how much I want a house).  We still battle all our fears (the first few days in Mexico we hid in our safe condo and didn’t meet anyone or experience much of anything), and we still cringe when we know we’re about to take a risk no matter how small it is.

The bottom line is that we’re still weak, cowardly, flawed human beings who are seeking to be extraordinary.

Post #4: John Mayer is a Liar and Peter Pan is a Hero

No one wants to be “that guy”.

The guy you rolled your eyes at in your early 20’s while spewing explosive promises about how you would NEVER let yourself become like that.  You were convinced you were different, that you saw the truth and that would keep you from ever allowing a house, a job, a budget, a boss, the laundry, a schedule, or anything else you considered to be completely devoid of heart to suck all the passion out of your life.

So stop and take a look now… are you as different from that as you thought you’d be?

I’ll think I’m in pretty good shape and holding up well to my youthful ideals until I one day find myself clutching my steering wheel until my knuckles are white while yelling back at my radio whenever John Mayer tries to give me hope… “SCREW YOU JOHN MAYER!! There is, there is, there IS too such a thing as the real world!  I’m TRYING to rise above and it’s just not possible!  I hope one of your non-real world celebrity girlfriends pops a fake boob and you get silicone in your eye!!!”

This moment is always a red flag.  

But you know you’re in very real trouble when you proceed to spend the rest of the day crying on the couch, clutching your childhood Teddy Bear, Fuzzy, while trying to think happy thoughts in hopes that you’re feet will slowly begin to lift on the ground and you will fly away to Never Never Land to join Tink and the Lost Boys.  If you start chasing your shadow around the living room trying to catch it, call the hospital.

Time to start asking the important questions (actually it’s way past time at that point because I hear it’s hard to journal while wearing a straight jacket).

Like I said, no one wants to be “that guy”. The” old, fat, grandpa man” that Robin Williams played in Hook who actually friggin FORGOT he was Peter Pan!! That guy who has lost all his identity to the “real world”, who has nothing of REAL value left inside himself that he is able to extend to others. When you are sucked dry of all the emotions that make you a “real boy” rather than just a wooden puppet (stress doesn’t count by the way… and yes, I switched stories on you for a second there), who are you helping?  You may feel like you’re sacrificing, but what are you sacrificing and who are you doing it for are two very important questions to ask yourself on a regular basis so that you don’t wake up one day and realize that you began sacrificing for someone and after awhile it either turned into merely a mindless habit that is no longer necessary or even worse, something that is actually damaging the person you started out trying to help (and they adopt captain Hook as their father).  The point is there is only so much you can sacrifice of yourself before you start to sacrifice the good that you are actually intending to do.

Just please, please don’t settle for something that will suck you dry and spit you out dead, before you even ask if there’s another way.  Don’t permanently sacrifice everything that makes you who you are… everything that you were made to be and all the ways you were made to live… all in the name of sacrificing for others.  If you yourself are drowning, how can you teach your kid to swim so he’ll make it to the shore?

You are not much good to anyone if you are dying on the inside.  

Please, wake yourself up and look at the world around you.  Opportunities, adventures, and chances for you to benefit the world in ways that only you can, are ALL passing you by as you wallow in self-pity or pretend like you don’t notice that there’s an entire world going on outside of your normal day to day habits that consume and overwhelm you all by themselves.

Wake up.  Do something.  Don’t settle in for some sort of penance.  Don’t play the martyr.  I know you have a family, you have things or people to sacrifice for.  But what are your sacrifices getting them?  What do they really need?  These are the questions you need to be asking.

I’m guessing what your family needs most is a passionate person who can extend to them love, energy, and life lessons about the world…

… while most of the other adults around you are spending their time either in a numb haze or a stress induced stupor.  Be discontent with mediocre, with a hum drum life, with a robot existence…. ask questions, challenge norms, take risks… do SOMETHING!

Be discontent for the sake of the people you love.

Join us all in this quest for The Rare Existence… you need this because they need you.