Sitting in the Atlanta airport after the Mom 2.0 Summit waiting for my plane, I’m doing what I do a lot these days: pondering the meaning of life, and what it means–and what it takes—and what it has taken so far–to create a life worth living.
No. Really. I’m fine.
Being a grown-up (which I’ll get into later) means tolerating the cognitive dissonance that occurs from experiencing incongruent thoughts and feelings simultaneously. I can grieve while also rejoicing in the fact that everything is ultimately going to be okay.
Your Money For Nothing and Your Clicks For Free
Mom 2.0 was different for me from any of the conferences I’ve attended before.
Spending the last several months having all of my visions of big blogger-dollar sugarplums danced right out of my head, I went in with starless eyes. And while the disillusionment process was like giving birth to an anvil covered in spikes, it was beyond marvelous not giving a shit anymore about making money as a blogger.
This time I talked to people and listened to what they said without feeling like I’m selling them something.
I’m sure this is how someone who has just gotten out of Amway must feel.
Best of all, including my own session where I was a panelist with Jenny Isemann from The Suburban Jungle and Amanda Edwards from Mom of Ambition, I only attended sessions that inspired my creativity and fed my soul. And not once did I feel the overwhelming urge to hide in my hotel room!
And, ironically, I spent more time talking to more PR people than I ever have before. Maybe because my elevator pitch this time was, “What are you doing here?” People love talking about what they do. And I loved listening.
I also spent some time with caring friends like Lizz Porter from Am I a Funny Girl? (Thank you for making me be a better person), Janice Person from JanicePerson.com (You give the BEST hugs!), Dresden Plaid from Creating Motherhood (I didn’t get a chance to show you the picture of ME they put on Instagram. Holy Mother of Gawd! People need to ask first!), Nicole Morgan from Sisters From Another Mister, (Hang in there, Honey The best is yet to be!) Morra Aaron-Mele from The Mission List (Everything I am today is because of you, Morra.), and Chrysula Winegar (You are the wind beneath my wings!).
A huge highlight was meeting Derreck Kayongoy.
If you don’t know who Derreck Kayongoy is watch this video on The Global Soap Project. It’s worth 3 minutes of your life.
Isn’t he marvelous? I want to be just like him when I grow up.
And I am growing up. Thanks to a well-timed slapping around from Jessica Bern from Two Funny Brains, and a good cry to D.A. Wolf from Daily Plate of Crazy, I’ve decided it’s finally time to grow the hell up.
And if you’re reading my post for advice on how to start living the live you want then I suggest you grow up, too.
1. Choose What Matters Most
Priorities. If you don’t have priorities then you ain’t going to create shit.
I’ve talked about how important my marriage is to me, but freedom ranks right up there.
- I want the freedom to determine how I spend my time and energy.
- I don’t want to be a slave to the bank.
- I want the freedom to pick and choose where and when I work.
- And I want the freedom to write my truth on my blog, not compromising myself for anyone.
One of the most Tweetable quotes I heard at Mom 2.0 was by Stacey Ferguson of justicefergie.com:
“Make the choice that makes you feel free.”
Each and every conscious choice my husband and I have made over the past two and a half years has been towards freedom.
Freedom costs, and like most things worth having, it can cost dearly.
2. Let Go of Being the Victim
One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned in life is that it’s nobody’s fault you are where you are, and even if it is it doesn’t serve you to think that way.
I’ve been doing a bit of Warrior Posing lately and it dawned on me that there’s probably a reason there’s no “Victim Pose” in yoga.
If you want to take charge of your life you are going to have to stand the fuck up and take responsibility for each and every response you’ve ever had to anything and everything that has happened in your life.
“But wait, Chloe! You don’t know what they did to me!”
I know. They suck. May a curse of head lice and perpetual crotch itch be upon them. Amen.
But blaming them for our situation now doesn’t help us at all.
Feel all of your feelings–I’m not telling you not to feel them—but when you are ready to move forward you’re going to have to own not only your part, but the entirety of wherever you are right now.
Because personal power isn’t something someone else gives you. It’s already yours. And the first step in realizing that is relinquishing your role as victim.
Now if you think this is easy for me I’ll give you the phone numbers of my friends and therapist. They’ll tell you point-blank that I still have a long way to go. But I know it’s not optional; it’s mandatory.
3. Embrace Your Failures
At a retreat I attended a year and a half ago I spoke out my intention that I wanted to become a public speaker. After speaking at three major blogging conferences in the past year I can confidently claim success.
And that feels great. Everybody wants success.
But it’s our failures that teach us the most.
As some of you know, it hasn’t been all rainbows and unicorns lately. I lost my house, my dog, and my business. At times I’ve been very confused and emotionally distraught. But I must admit that everything that’s now gone from my life (other than my dog) needed to go to make room for something better.
4. Get Moving
“But I don’t know what direction, Chloe!”
It doesn’t matter.
Years ago my old therapist told me to imagine my life like a ship. He said, “It is easy to change direction once your ship is moving, but it’s damned near impossible to chart a course if you are foundering.”
We don’t have to know exactly where we want to go–or exactly how we’re going to get there—in order to start our journey. We just need to start. Where?
5. Let Joy Be Your Guide
Close your eyes and imagine yourself feeling entirely joyful about your life. Now, in your imagination, look around. Where are you standing, and who and what is there with you?
Are you at the beach? In the mountains? Living in the city? Are you alone? With friends? With a lover? What is gone from your life that is there now? What’s new that you never realized you needed and wanted before?
Spend time in this exercise every day until a vision begins to grows. It doesn’t need to be clear in the beginning. Just focus on the feeling of joy and, trust me, a map will unfold.
One thing I will promise you though, your vision will seem entirely unfeasible at first. Your mind will come up with a million excuses for why you can’t begin THAT journey. Ignore it. Just keep focusing on your joy.
Two and a half years ago my husband and I sat down and did this exercise together. It was scary. And the picture that began to unfold was IMPOSSIBLE! But as we imagined our lives full of joy we realized that we had no other choice. It was joy or bust!
For all of my sadness, I do have much joy these days. I love my new job. I love our newfound financial freedom. I love not being tied down to a money-pit of a house. I love having real adventures instead of virtual ones. I love the people that have come into my life (some of them were already there) who are full of encouragement and joy about their own lives. Their adventures inspire me. I love spending time with my husband dreaming and planning for our future together. And I love expressing myself as I please on my blog without the pressure of needing it to make me even one penny.
And I love that you are still reading me anyway despite my being too wordy. Thank you for your encouraging emails. They mean the world to me.
Life is good. And it’s only getting better.