Entreprenurial Advice

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

 

1. Discover the difference between needs and wants.

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

 

2. Remember that security doesn’t exist.

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

 

3. Identify and face your fears.

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

Good luck in all your entrepreneurial endeavors!

Is Extraordinary Living Selfish?

Since my initial concept of this blog began to form, there is one major challenge I have wrestled with constantly.  Am I putting myself first too much in my attempt to live a Rare Existence?  The fact that you are currently reading this blog means that I have decided the answer is no. But still, it is a question that requires some thought, so I’m putting my musings out there.

There are 3 main reasons I do not believe extraordinary living is selfish.

1. Your role in the world matters.

Yes, I do believe that loving the world around you and giving of yourself to humanity as a whole are key elements to a well lived life.
I do not see living an extraordinary life as being in opposition to that life model, in fact I think they go hand in hand quite well. I believe that people’s talents, experiences, weaknesses, strengths, genetic predispositions, etc. all make up one whole unique person.  And it is my belief that each one whole unique person exists to fill certain holes in the world in a way that only that specific person with that specific makeup can fill. That said, I believe that if you are doing something that you are not fit to do or living as if every person were meant to do the same things, then you are going to be unsatisfied and potentially inhibit the world around you from living up to it’s full potential.
The main reason I think everyone should be living the destiny they are made for, is because I believe it is the main thing that will make their life beneficial to those around them.  I definitely agree that living your life for the good of others is the number one priority…  I just happen to think that living the life you are meant to live is one of the best ways to do that.

 2. Sacrificial love isn’t always what it seems.

Yes, life and love require sacrifices. It’s not all sunshine and roses and it’s not all about pursuing things that make you happy.  Sometimes you do things you don’t like for the sake of others.
The problem arises when people define themselves by these sacrifices.
It is so much easier to play the victim.  So much simpler to not push yourself in life because you simply assume your position holds you stationary.  No, life doesn’t always go as planned, no life is not all about our happiness, and yes sometimes love does require more sacrifice than we want to make.  But within all that we still have choices, and no one choice has to define us for the rest of our life because we still have choices after that.  Many people let the sacrifice phase run their entire life so that it no longer can be called a phase, but rather…well, it’s just called their life at that point. Spending your entire life sacrificing what you are meant to be doing with your life for the sake of others has consequences to not only you but to those you believe you are sacrificing for.
The good intentions behind our sacrifices can quickly turn into excuses to avoid our fears.
When this happens, we begin basing our life decisions on fear disguised as love and this is of benefit to no one, no matter how much we want to believe it is.  We are telling ourselves that we are living the way we are for the sake of another person, when really that person/situation can go on just fine without us.  But we are incapable of acknowledging that because that is going to require more self-examination and change than we are ready for.  When we get to this point, we are in the danger zone because there is a good chance that we are doing more harm than good by what we are still calling a “loving sacrifice.”  It’s important to constantly ask yourself “are my past sacrifices still necessary or am I just stuck in a bad routine that I have been afraid of questioning?”  Knowing when to make sacrifices for others is just as important as knowing when to move forward with your life within that sacrifice, or when to let go of the sacrifice entirely.
 I fully believe that you can commit to truly loving others in life and still pursue an extraordinary life.
Sacrificing for others doesn’t have to mean giving up your dreams and loving people doesn’t have to mean you don’t get to be happy yourself.  In fact, for many people, living an extraordinary life is all about giving up their comforts to enable them to love others better (as in the story of Kelli that I featured awhile back).  I also believe that love, happiness, filling the role you are destined for, and selflessness all fit together very well and often create a circle where each aspect feeds and strengthens the others.

3. Your loved ones will thank you.

Anyone who is drained of passion, hope, and joy is not going to be of much use to people around them.
If you are a mom who has become a complete martyr for your children and do not have a single ounce of self-esteem or personal identity left in you… what are teaching your kids about life?  If you are a husband who uses every ounce of energy you have to just survive every single workday long enough to be able to make it home and zone out in front of the TV… what kind of love are you able to give to your wife and what kind of example are you being to your kids about how to love people?
Sick people can’t make others healthy because disease spreads.  Push aside your fears and be willing to constantly ask yourself what needs to be done for the greater good of others… you might be surprised that it requires that you be healthy and happy so you can love others well.  Make the choice to be a healthy person who can lead others to health by example.

The bottom line is that though extraordinary living is focusing on yourself and your own life while pursuing changes that might result in your own personal happiness, that doesn’t make it selfish; because it is those very changes that will most likely result in positive changes in the lives of those around you. If doing what you are meant to be doing with your life makes you happier (and it’s likely that it will) that does not automatically make you selfish. Happiness does not have to equal selfishness. If you are pursuing your own happiness IN SPITE of what’s best for those around you, well then that’s another story. But extraordinary living is not about finding what you WANT to do with your life but what you are MEANT to do with your life and I don’t believe what you are truly meant to do with your life is something that will be detrimental to your loved ones, but in fact beneficial to them… as well as to yourself. As long as your happiness comes from things that are good and true then it is a gift from God and can be one of the greatest sources of the love that you extend to others.

Why you should watch a movie that might make you want to kill yourself

“Who made these rules anyway?” screams a frustrated, 11 years post Titanic, Kate Winslet at Leonardo Dicaprio (who looks about the same a decade later, except that his tux and tails have been replaced by late 50’s era swanky suits).

If you haven’t seen Revolutionary Road, see it.
You may hate it, many people do. I mean REEEAAALLY hate it. It does have the depressing factor, but to me it is full of truth and beauty. Yes, there are some morally questionable scenarios that I’m not sure which side of the fence I’m on and there are many different ways to interpret what happens and who’s to blame… but the multidimensional factor of the story and the characters is what makes a good movie (or book as was Revolutionary Road’s initial form) right?

My take on Revolutionary Road?
It’s a story about what happens when you choose to live a life you are NOT meant to live. It’s what happens when you choose comfort over risk, when you choose to believe the lies, when you choose to see problems and your own fears as insurmountable. It’s the story of what happens when you let life win. Basically you rot from the inside out… and your rot spills over onto the people around you until you and all your loved ones are completely miserable. You are dead inside and eventually, you die on the outside. This is Revolutionary Road. Wonderfully uplifting, isn’t it?

If you are currently in a marriage that makes you feel trapped…
…DON’T see this, it may make you suicidal. In fact, the people who I know who truly hated this movie with a bitter, burning anger, were people who were in that situation. So in that case, I don’t necessarily recommend it. I could be wrong though, so see it at your own risk.

If you feel trapped in any other way…
…then maybe you should see it or read the book. It will show you what at least one of your potential outcomes could be and it’s probably something you need to see, as painful as it may be.

If you’ve already seen the movie or read the book and you hated it…
Then maybe give it another shot with the perspective I’ve offered in mind. Or maybe not. Maybe you still won’t like it. I do, but you don’t have to and I would totally understand why you might still hate it. It’s disturbing no matter how you spin it and it really is a very complex movie with lots of different ways to interpret. My early apologies if you end up wasting yet ANOTHER 2 hours of your life on a movie you hate the second time around just as much as you hated it the first!

A couple of my favorite quotes from the book by Richard Yates:

“If being crazy means living life as if it matters, then I don’t mind being completely insane.”
-April Wheeler

“No, Frank. This is what’s unrealistic. It’s unrealistic for a man with a fine mind to go on working year after year at a job he can’t stand. Coming home to a place he can’t stand, to a wife who’s equally unable to stand the same things. And you know what the worst part of it is? Our whole existence here is based on this great premise that we’re special. They we’re superior to the whole thing. But we’re not. We’re just like everyone else! We bought into the same, ridiculous delusion. That we have to resign from life and settle down the moment we have children. And we’ve been punishing each other for it.”
– April Wheeler

“I want to feel things. Really feel them.”
-Frank Wheeler

“I wanted IN. I just wanted us to live again. For years I thought we’ve shared this secret that we would be wonderful in the world. I don’t know exactly how, but just the possibility kept me hoping. How pathetic is that? So stupid. To put all your hopes in a promise that was never made. Frank knows what he wants, he found his place, he’s just fine. Married, two kids, it should be enough. It is for him. And he’s right; we were never special or destined for anything at all.”
– April Wheeler

“We’re gonna be okay.”- Frank Wheeler
“I hope so. I really hope so.”- April Wheeler

See the trailer or rent the movie here.
Buy the book here.

The Emotions of Change: grieving your losses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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)!

 

 

California dreaming turned into reality

I have wanted to live in southern California my entire life.

And my husband Scottie, has wanted to escape the summertime heat ever since he got his first “welcome to Phoenix” seat belt branding back in 2001. Over the past couple of years, our business has brought us to the Golden State multiple times. And every time we leave more inspired than the last by the people we’ve met and the things we’ve done and seen. Whenever the sad day to return home comes, we pile our camera gear back into the car and head away from the salty sea air, towards the looming saguaro cacti, and find ourselves making longer and longer lists of what we can do to live a more beautiful and creative life. Only to arrive back in Phoenix, get hot, and decide to plant ourselves in front of the fan next to the TV all day everyday… with the occasional trip to the kitchen to get a snack.

So what’s stopped us from following our California Dreamin’? There are the usual reasons… leaving family (whom we actually LIKE), extra expensive everything in California, and of course having to start all over with our finally successful business sounds terrible to us. So there is all that, but really the biggest reason we haven’t left is because…

…we just thought it was impossible.

People in small towns think they can’t move to a big city and people in Arizona think they can’t move to California.  I don’t know what it is, but you just believe the state line is made up out of trampolines that will bounce you back if you try to get in with a moving truck. I know it doesn’t make any sense, but you just have to believe me when I tell you that’s how it feels… it’s a weird phenomenon.

At some recent point though- I don’t know if it was hearing about my friend’s 18 year old sister who moved there just because she wanted to, or driving through East LA and being like, “see, you don’t have to be rich to live in California!”- but for whatever reason, there was a magnificent moment in time where we found a little shred of hope as we realized that some people actually do pack their stuff and move to California! And then they just get to live there!!! Can you believe that?!

Combine that glimpse of a possible palm tree filled future with the fact that we had just spent a week away getting some R&R on vacation with our family and had done lots of thinking about our currently floundering life (too many possibilities, not enough clear direction… you know, the typical stuff Millennials deal with every 6 months). We worked on our discipline of dreaming, 5 year planning, and goal setting and were very surprised to find that everything pulled itself together to aim in one clear direction. West. Ha, of course it would. That does it! We are going to pack up our covered wagons and head down the trail with dreams of surfboard bruises and yacht party cruises filling our little bonnet covered heads.

We’ve decided to take the plunge and move to Los Angeles, California…

…for 3 months.

Yes, just for 3 months. What? That’s still a huge deal, OK!

Surprisingly enough, the summer is the slow season for wedding photographers in Phoenix because apparently most brides have a thing about getting married with pit stains (I don’t know why- twinsie pits brides and grooms can be pretty cute). So we have decided to take advantage of our free time that is usually filled with sweating our eyebrows off, to go on a adventure!

“Sure”, we said.  “Going to California sounds great!”.  Of course as the words were escaping our lips, we both felt the unspoken doubts in our hearts.

You have to understand, we are wedding photographers.  We have absolutely no idea when we will be getting paychecks. Well we have some idea, but in January, the squares on our calendar for the rest of the year are still so bright white that they burn my retinas. Basically, our budget meetings usually come down to something like this:

Scottie: “So do we have enough money?”
Breanna: “Depends on how long you want to live for”.
Scottie: (Rolls his eyes at Breanna’s annoying sarcasm).
Breanna: “We have enough money for the next 4 months”.
Scottie: “Sweet, but what about after that?”
Breanna: “Well, if we don’t book more weddings in the next 4 months then that means our business is failing and we probably need to get new jobs anyways.”
Scottie: (Silent pondering, as is his way).
Breanna: “I’m saying we’re fine for now, and so far we have always been fine, so I hope that in 4 months we’ll find out we’re fine again.”
Breanna: “If not, then we have to find something else to do no matter what so there’s no reason in worrying about it now”.
Scottie & Breanna: (lots of worrying going on in their minds)

Seriously, it’s like that every time. So it is a big deal to say, “OK, we’re good for 4 months on our current budget. But, I know!!! How about we triple our rent, double our grocery and gas bills, AND maintain our apartment in Phoenix, and hope not only that it works, but that we will still have money to live on in the months following that!”. Yep, we’re stupid. Whatever- where there’s a will, there’s a way, right?!

This is the time to play the “what if” game. After playing, we found out that the worst thing that could happen is that we go, run out of money, and come home, and then possibly get short term jobs to make up the money we spent there. The consequences of failure at this aren’t insurmountable. Basically the biggest thing we’re risking is our pride.

But of course what we stand to gain is amazing and MUCH bigger than what we stand to lose…

We have the opportunity to use these 3 months to the fullest to discover new experiences that will help us grow, inspire us, bring us closer together, and bring new and wonderful people into our lives … all while pushing us closer to our short and long term goals in both business and life. Not to mention it will be very VERY fun and way WAY better than spending a summer in Phoenix melting and angry, while not making any money anyways. The scales are tipped and California wins.

So here we are, just waiting for summer to come. Hoping to see the money come in, hoping to schedule photo sessions, and hoping to find a cheap enough car that won’t hinder our ability to head west (oh yes, my beloved car crossed over to the other side right after we made this decision… awesome). By the time you read this, since most of my posts are written far in advance, I could very well be there, or way past there. Who knows where we’ll be?! But the point is, I think it will be somewhere better than we would be if we weren’t taking this adventurous chance and you can be sure I’ll tell you about it when we get there!

Summary:

Since this was such a long post, I’ve decided to summarize it for you lazy ones.

Scottie and Breanna love California… but they can’t go because of stuff… mostly because the trampolines stop them…then they saw some poor people… they made some plans… which is OK because they just lay around in the summer anyways… but they didn’t have enough money… so they just said, “oh well, we’ll get some”… and they decided to go. The end. Or rather, “to be continued”.

(UPDATE: sooo…. 3 months in CA turned into six years! Read about the decision to move there here, and the decision to leave there here).

(if you liked this story and want to hear more stories about Extraordinary Living join the  Rare Existence community on Facebook)!

 

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)!

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 Ordinary Word

The yin and the yang. The black and the white. The light and the dark. Perez Hilton and Vin Diesel. Our world seems to keep it’s balance through opposites. And it’s no different when it comes to extraordinary words.

For every extraordinary word there is an anti-word… an “ordinary word”.

The ordinary word is the one that sits on your other shoulder, taunting you and your goody two-shoes extraordinary word with his pitchfork, evil sneer, and sarcastic tone. I hate to tell you this, but if we’re going to pursue our extraordinary word, we have to forsake our ordinary word.
So what’s the opposite of my extraordinary word, freedom?  Are you sure you want to know…. it really sucks to hear.

The opposite of freedom is security.

Ew I know! Why does it have to be like this?  Why can’t they just be causal friends who only see each other on Christmas and Easter? At the very least they should be Facebook friends! Really guys, you should try to work something out here for those of us who don’t want to take sides. We want to hang out with BOTH of you, it isn’t fair that we have to choose!
But alas, it’s the truth. The more freedom you have, the less security you have, and vice versa.  As much as I want to stick my fingers in my ears and pretend I never heard that,  it’s true.

This is my great struggle in my pursuit of an extraordinary life.

If you’ve been following my blog from the beginning, you know that my Achilles heel is fear.  And in an attempt to fight the things I’m afraid of, control is my weapon of choice.  Fear and Control are definitely blood relatives of Security. On Christmas and Easter they all get together in Security’s giant house and eat the feast that their buddy Paycheck brought them. Freedom isn’t invited because he’s off sun-bathing in Tahiti with his friends, and besides they’d rather gossip about how foolish and irresponsible he is than actually talk to him anyways. Meanwhile, I’m just sitting at home praying for peace on earth so that we can all go enjoy Paycheck’s meal together!

This is the reason that every time I come to a crossroads in my life, a major battle ensues.  On the one hand… Freedom, waving his late bedtimes and quality relationships to tempt me.  And on the other road, Security is taking me on a tour of a beautiful new house that could be mine and reenacting for me the fictional story (that I once believed strongly) about how I can have complete control over my life.
Don’t be surprised if my head explodes from all of this one day.  And when that happens, I’m sure Freedom will just shake his head in disappointed sorrow that all of this could’ve been avoided if only I’d chosen right from the beginning.  And Security will just come and apathetically sweep up the messy remains that were once my life… which is the exact same thing he’d planned to do as soon as I joined his side anyways.

(Thanks to my brother, Paul McDaniel, who drew me this picture as a visual representation of this post!)

One of the reasons I’ve started this blog is to show people that we’re not magical, we’re not special, and we don’t have it all figured out.

I say that because people are always telling me how jealous they are of our freedom.  I do know why and I am very grateful for the benefits my job brings… because I know there are a lot of them. But it’s important that you know that we don’t have special powers. I promise, we don’t even have Spidy senses; and we definitely don’t have sticky, disgusting spider webs that shoot out of our fingertips (poor spider man got all the stupid powers).

We have the life we do because we’ve chosen it… and you can choose it too. But you WILL have to sacrifice things you may not be willing to give up. You’re going to have to leave behind your ordinary word. Maybe not right away of course,  it’s OK if you’re not ready for that.  But you’ll probably be asked to do it at some point, so steal one last kiss and start saying your goodbyes now because this train is leaving, Baby.

Ordinary people live by ordinary words. 

They can’t see past their deep-rooted fears long enough to reach for that intangible future. So they don’t.  They hold on tight to their ordinary word, often completely unaware that it is exactly what’s keeping them from clinging to their extraordinary word and the extraordinary life they’ve always wanted that comes with it. There’s a reason this existence is rare. The sacrifices are great, but the blessings from it are limitless.

Choose your words wisely.