Trying to partner with you partner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fear is a pretty big deal! 

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

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

…no matter how resistant they may be at first!

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

Stay humble and open.

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

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

Stay patient and compassionate.

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

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

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

 

The Discipline Of Dreaming (a project)

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

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

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

Your “pre-project” project.

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

Your Project.

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

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

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

From Intellect to Action

Now it’s time to get down and dirty with the practical application.  So far I’ve been all whimsical and inspiring, while I speak in poetry and riddles trying to convince you to ethereally join the extraordinary life style.  Now I’m going to turn all real on you.  No, you can’t just continue to make changes to your thinking alone, it’s time to get started on the transformation of your day to day life.

In short, no more pretending…you can’t get away on simply agreeing with all of this on an intellectual level forever.

Trust me, I tried that, remember?  I told you how I married Scottie thinking he was so fantastic because of all of his genius philosophies and views on life. I loved that I’d found a man who believed in setting a max amount of money he needed to live on and then if he made more than that, he’d give the rest away.  I mean, that shows what a generous and unique soul he is, right? Who wouldn’t want to date a guy like that?  Until you get engaged that is and you realize that all this altruistic talk means that even though you’d never planned on being rich, if you ever did in fact find yourself there, you still couldn’t live like it.  Somehow the glamor of all his beautiful, idealistic dreams started to fade when I realized that I too was going to have to start sacrificing for them!  I can’t tell you how many conversations we had about “but what if I really, really love that $120 sweater at Anthropologie, do I still have to buy the $20 one at Target… even if we make 2 million a year?  Really?! OK, but what if we just budget enough so I can buy ALL my clothes at Anthropologie and then if I have some left over at the end of the month, we give THAT away? How much is too much to spend on a vacation… on a house… on the perfect french bulldog, etc., etc?”  Things that sound good on paper, don’t always look so hot when they’re happening before your very eyes in your very own life!

So this place I found myself in after I slipped that engagement ring on- the place where it hit me like the diamonds we may be throwing towards the orphans one day- this place where I realized that all his unorthodox and slightly dangerous views about life, now applied to my very normal and safe life.

And that’s the place where you are now.

You: “Oh wow, I love dreaming about the big picture and thinking about how beautiful and crazy all of this life stuff really is!”
Me: “OK, but how crazy and beautiful is YOUR life right now?”.
You: “Um, uh, that doesn’t really matter.  The point is that we’re on the same wave length here.”
Me: “No, the point is that you’re going to have to sack up and do something about all of this”.
You: “oh $&#**”.

Your first official assignment will come in the next post.  No throwing it out the window because you were “afraid it would self destruct”.  I’ve heard that excuse before.

 

Beginning to Define it For Yourself

What?! You’re not me?! Really? Are you sure? I could’ve sworn…

Your definition for an extraordinary life is unique.

If everyone’s definitions were the same, it would just be called “ordinary living” and I definitely wouldn’t be wasting so many of my youthful years telling you about it (I have mountains to conquer and dragons to slay you know). You can’t compare your definition to that of others (unless of course yours is way better than theirs), and you shouldn’t stop reading Rare Existence if your definition is different than mine. If you have kids, your extraordinary word isn’t freedom, or you’ve worked hard to find yourself at the top in a very demanding career that you love….then you haven’t committed any terminal sins that prevent you from living an extraordinary life, you’re just not me (but you might want to try it because being me is AWESOME)!

I’ve met plenty of people who’ve known what they wanted to do with their lives since they were 5 (no, I didn’t say “what their PARENTS wanted them to do with their lives”, that doesn’t count) and some of those paths that they are SO excited to head down, don’t naturally involve much freedom.  But as long as they’re doing what they truly love, they probably won’t care much.  For them “success” might be their word and freedom could be their ordinary word and I wouldn’t think anything less of them. Besides, life isn’t all about your career, whether you put the word “extraordinary” in front of it or not.

No excuses are good enough.

While I just said that this isn’t all about your career and I’m alright with the fact that your career choices will probably be different than mine anyways… I take back all of  it if you are really just using your career as an excuse for why you aren’t pursuing your extraordinary life. Not cool man, not cool. I can see right through you… and so will everyone else when all your real goals and dreams come crashing down around you to reveal what you should’ve been doing all along. Your career is not an excuse.

The same applies if you have kids. Please, PLEASE do not let that be your excuse!  I’ll tell you right now, it’s not a good one!  A unique challenge maybe, I’ll give you that. But an excuse, never. In fact, I believe that the very reason you absolutely need to be living your extraordinary life is BECAUSE you have kids and they need a healthy parent who is a good example of how to live with passion and joy (didn’t you read my Emma Pillsbury quote at the end of post #4?).

I know plenty of families who have lived very extraordinary lives together. Since you might not believe it from someone who doesn’t have kids yet (me) I am going to hope I can convince you by enlisting plenty of help from extraordinary parents I know who seek to live extraordinary lives right along with their kids!  Just the other day I just met a man from Holland, who lives in Mexico, and sells Argentinean food.  He has two kids and he moved to Mexico with is girlfriend in search of freedom and a home on the beach… it can be done!

It’s OK if you have NO IDEA what your definition for an extraordinary life is!

I think it’s pretty normal to feel clueless.  Any discovery process is complex, confusing, and can be quite overwhelming.  That’s why we’re doing it together… and we’re starting out slowly.  These first few posts are just to get you on board with the concepts I’m talking about here and we’ll dive more in-depth into some pro-active steps for you to work on soon enough.

Perfection is not required.  Complete clarity in your identity is not needed.  Inexplicable, mysterious, or magical talents are not a pre-requisite for this course (but if you do have some of those, please tell me so I can proceed to steal them… Brewhahah!!).  All I’m asking from you at this point is that you’re ready to start thinking. And I’m hoping that you’ll eventually be ready to start acting on your thinking.

So wherever you are coming from, wherever you are at… it’s time to start moving towards where you want to go…. whether or not you even know exactly where that is yet.

 

 

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.

Post #1: Epic journey’s are not just for hobbits

This blog is going to be epic. See, even the first sentence is pretty epic!  I considered starting off humble or humorously self-deprecating in a lovable Liz Lemon sort of way, but I prefer to be honest.  The fact is, I think we’re going to rock it up in here. Let’s just say, if this blog isn’t epic (which is not a problem we have to worry about, I’m telling you) then I’ve wasted the last year that I’ve spent writing and preparing for it… and possibly much more of my life if the entire concept is weak because I’ve been working from this particular world view long before I started writing about it.

Since living a “Rare Existence” and practicing “Extraordinary Living” is by definition the exact opposite of living in a way that is common and ordinary, you obviously can’t have a definition that is common or ordinary. Each person’s definition for it is unique. So no, you can’t just figure yours out by observing what others are doing or by writing the right answers on your arm (cheaters), it’s much more complicated than that and definitely requires you to wear your thinking caps as a permanent accessory (mine’s in black, so it goes with everything).

This is where most people (average Joes) stop… and where you (the rare and extraordinary) keep going.

Everyone knows what they DON’T want to do in life -and ironically it’s usually exactly what they ARE doing-but very few people know what they DO want to do in life.  The really ridiculous part is that when people finally get out of what they know they don’t want to do in life, they usually panic and scramble to get back into what they just got out of because they don’t know what else to do. How many people do you know who used every ounce of energy to get to retirement, only to take on a new job as soon as they get there? Exactly.

Extraordinary living isn’t all about what job you have, but my point is that it’s time we put in the energy and effort needed to really figure this stuff out before we find ourselves with a great opportunity to change, only to waste it by returning to the familiar and comfortable ways that we were so miserable in. Even more importantly, lets figure this out BEFORE we reach the age of retirement and realize that we wasted our whole lives being miserable or not doing what we were meant to be doing!

My purpose here is to help you identify what you DO want to do and to give you the tools and support you need to actually do it.

This is bigger than your career choice, or any individual choice you make for that matter. It’s bigger than day to day habits or schedule; bigger than all your ideas, decisions, and views… because it’s all those things put together. It’s everything that makes up you, being used with intention for the bigger picture. It’s the opposite of passivity. It’s living a life of purpose. A purpose that is decided based on who you are as an individual, as a member of your family, as a friend, in your community, and in the world.

Though the specifics of our definitions of extraordinary living will vary (remember, unique snowflakes), I want to have a common starting point for us all that we can use as a base to build our own specifics onto.

“Extraordinary Living” means living the life you are meant to live regardless of risk, difficulty, opinion of others, weaknesses, or failures.  This involves knowing yourself WELL, pursuing your passions, overcoming your fears, and working hard at all you do.

These are the kinds of things we’ll be working on together if you’re choose to embark on this with me. I know…it sounds really hard. It is. But it’s totally worth it. And it’s something we all need lots of support to do. Which is why I’m here and hoping you’ll be here for me too.

Part of my personal definition of extraordinary living involves living in community and sharing my life with others. So as my husband, Scottie, and I seek to discover what an extraordinary life looks like for us, as individuals and a couple, it is completely necessary that I involve like minded souls (or at least people who are just curious and are destined to become like minded souls) in my/our personal journey.

Plug your nose and hold your breath… we’re going in… together.