Called Out.

Nothing lights me up more than friendship with bold, powerful women. The kind who don’t take shit from anyone, who want a life of humor and adventure and no-less-than-absolutely-fucking-awesome. The ones who call it like they see it, shoot straight, walk the talk, be the change, play big, go hard, sprint to the finish.

So. Lyndsey Fryer, you got me.

This beautiful bad-ass challenged me to dust off my keyboard and write something, immediately.

8 questions to celebrate my blog and my life and our partnership. Lyndsey is pure soul and creativity. She is the reason I had the courage to leave my lawyer job and join her team at lululemon. I knew if she was a part of something, it had to be the real deal.

And I was right.

Here’s to you Lynds, and all of the other exceptional women in my life who show up and demand the best of me, all of the time.

1. What do you want to be known for?

My leadership. Even when I was little I had the sense I was destined for a big life. Like the first woman President or Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. People followed me, even when I was really young. In my teens, and early twenties, I felt great pride in my powerfulness. I felt I could walk into a room and own it, like I was the only voice in the room that mattered and the only perspective people listened to.

A little older and a tiny bit more humble, I think of my leadership differently. I want to be the woman who opens space for other women to find their power and share their perspective. I want people to remember me as a woman who made them better, smarter, more capable, who made their voice stronger, and elevated their potential.

I want to live a big life, not for the bigness of it, but for the bigness it creates in others.

2. What inspires you most about others?

Vulnerability. And selflessness.

3. Share something you are proud of?

Camp have-a-lot-of-Fun. My best friend Amy and I built an empire. From the awkwardness and insecurity of 40 strangers, most of them teenagers, we created a beautiful, loving family where everyone is accepted and celebrated exactly as they are. My CHALOF kids (who are now, in many cases, adults) remind me what we are all capable of when we choose laughter over judgement, courage over fear, love, above all else.

4. A snapshot of my life in 5 years.

It’s a Friday in April and I’m on my front porch drinking strong coffee as the sun comes up. I’m wrapped in three blankets and a down jacket because I’m still not used to this “not California” cold. I’m waiting for my mega-babe boyfriend to bust through the back door, sweaty and sexy from an early morning mountain run. He’ll fix up a delicious, organic breakfast and I’ll wonder how I fed myself properly before him.

I didn’t.

In an hour, I’ll head to the airport. I’m flying to London for my dream job as a training manager at lululemon. My mom will call me on the way to reminisce about my childhood as “the worst flyer on the planet,” as she marvels at my traveling career.

She does it every time.

Life when I’m home is beautiful and simple. We hike and ski and play soccer. We cook and dance and laugh, constantly. My boyfriend is manly and sweet and insanely smart and I when we argue,  I never let him forget that “I used to be a lawyer,” even if I barely remember it.

5. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given and by whom?

Before I went to law school, I met all of these incredible, older women in the Sacramento yoga community. For a year and a half I was surrounded by power and grace and wisdom and my whole life is better for it.

One of these lady goddesses once told me, about tough decisions: “You’ll never know before you make a decision whether it’s the right one or the wrong one. In most cases, you won’t ever know. The important thing is, you make it. Commit to something, and be brave.”

Christine was brilliant and successful and always grounded me in “what I already know.”

6. What’s the best/worst purchase you ever made

Best: My law prom dress my third year of law school. It was a magical night the memories from which are still so alive I can smell them. It was so perfect and so awesome I don’t even feel bad about the ridiculousness of attending a “law prom” in the first place.  I didn’t buy the dress. I rented it. But that night I owned it, all the way.

Worst: So many tanning booth packages and tiny tanning goggles.

I used to hide the goggles in the center console of my red 4runner because my mom would lock me up if she found them.

I want to die just thinking about it.

7. What word makes you cringe?

Amongst.

I loathe myself for grammar snobbery.

8. What is your signature dance move?

My signature dance move is that I’m the first on the floor and the last one to leave it. Having a wedding? Worried about awkward social guests and on a limited liquor budget? Invite ME! I dance my ass of under all circumstances and drink very little. I can lighten up even the most serious, sober crowd. I think I was an NBA mascot in a past life and I’ve got the energy to prove it.

Find me here. On Facebook. Email me or just show up where I live.

Down to travel. Will bring my own date.

 

14: Every Day

Tonight, I hit a wall. I’ve been staring at the open computer screen for two hours, on and off. My best friend and I simultaneously played “What did the fox say” for eachother, while chatting on Facetime. We’re always late to the party, but we go really hard when we get there.

I looked at recipes on the internet then took a bath.

I toweled off and put on my pajamas and sat back down on the couch without so much as a glimmer of inspiration.

“Maybe I shouldn’t write from the couch.”

When I declared my intention to write for thirty days, it felt joyful and exciting. Like it would be beautiful and rewarding and effortless:

It’s daring and challenging and I shiver with excitement when I think about the surge of energy awaiting me at the end of it.

“What an accomplishment.”

When it’s over, I will write a heartfelt victory blog that’s both funny and inspiring. My friends, real and electronic, will undertake thirty day challenges of their own. They will post hilarious videos, or give a stranger a hug, or call their moms, or bake a month’s worth of inventive, cookie recipes.

They will write and sing and live their passion.

And when they feel discouraged, or pressed for time, or turned off by their most recent embrace of an unwitting hug-ee, they will read number fourteen of my thirty for thirty for thirty blogs and recommit to their effort.

I never considered how hard it is to do anything, for thirty days straight.

Make it to yoga and eat enough vegetables and be patient with people in traffic. Respond mindfully to irritating situations and apologize immediately when you don’t. Drink plenty of water and get out in the sunshine and tell the people you love, you love them. Walk the dog and practice gratitude and don’t take any moment of this extraordinary life for granted.

Floss, at least once a day.

In my life, I’ve wanted to give up on everything I didn’t do perfectly, the first time.

And most of the time, I have.

Tonight, I’m reminded that everything I want to do, I can, even if I don’t do it, moment to moment.

In the next breath, the next opportunity, I can begin again.

So tomorrow, just maybe, I’ll write something beautiful and moving and well punctuated.

Or I won’t.

And maybe I’ll let that be o.k., too.

1: Connection

For thirty days, before my thirtieth birthday, I am sharing thirty lessons from my life.

It is mostly a challenge to myself.

To avoid marinating in the story of “not enough” and “not what I expected,” and, instead, celebrating and appreciating the growth and depth and wisdom of thirty years.

To write every, single, day. Not Just a sentence or an edit of something I’ve already written, but a complete thought, a new idea, an entire blog.

To move into the next decade of my life from a place of abundance and gratitude. Gratitude for everything I already am, for everyone who is someone to me, for the chance, every day, to experience being myself.

Lesson 1: Connection

My older brother was a kid-genius-reading-prodigy. His third grade teacher refused to let him do a book report on “Shogun” because she’d never read it herself. He tore through John Grisham and Tolkien and everything in between. As a second grader, he tried to explain the plot of “Silence of the Lambs” to me during our bike rides to school. At some point, my parents confiscated his copy but I think he had a second one, stashed secretly under his bed.

One time, when we were really little, he read a Time Magazine article about evolution in the front pew at church, on Christmas Eve.

I, on the other hand, hated to read.

I always sensed my parents discomfort with the disparity in behavior between my brother charging through three to eight full-length novels on family road trips and me, sitting next to him, idle in the back seat.

My best friend jokes that my “most over-told” story from childhood is about the “Book It” program sponsored by Pizza Hut, in the early nineties. Each time you read a book, you got a sticker on a special poster at school. When you reached a certain number of books, you got a free personal pizza and drink and a super cool, giant button from Pizza Hut.

For months we ate pizza hut pizza, every Tuesday night. My brother collected a pile of beautiful buttons, and my mom reluctantly paid for my personal pepperoni, every time.

I loved the Babysitter’s Club and occasionally struggled through an American Girl book. But, in my family, Babysitter’s club wasn’t really considered reading, and I preferred to play with my American Girls, not read about them.

It all worked out though. After faking my way to A-pluses in high school English, I picked up reading in college. I have grown-up subscriptions to the Atlantic and the New Yorker. And as if that isn’t impressive enough, I earned a professional degree that required reading approximately 400, mind-numbing pages, per week.

My parents finally seem satisfied that I don’t have a learning disability.

Even as far back as my brother introducing me to Hannibal Lecter, I loved to write. My favorite project at my first elementary school was creating laminated, bound books that I wrote and illustrated myself. I loved storytelling, and using my imagination. Even with the limited vocabulary and still-evolving language and grammer of a first grader, I loved to edit, too. I never shined with so much pride as I did when I brought home a new book I’d “published.” My mom would graciously read all eight pages and thoughtfully give me feedback about my unique, literary gifts.

Beginning in third grade, I regularly kept a journal. I wrote pages and pages of prose for reports on books I barely finished. I dreamed of being famous like Roald Dahl or William Shakespeare, or that french guy who wrote “The Little Prince.”

In college, I started my first blog. It was mostly “feminism in real-life,” reflections on my every-day experiences through the lens of my progressive education. I didn’t share my blog electronically, or personally, even with my closest friends. Sometimes, when I wrote something I really liked, I’d send a link to my mom so she could reflect my feelings of pride and satisfaction. I wrote in a blog because it felt important. The issues and ideas I took on had weight and merit, and I never felt like my illegible handwriting scribbled on the pages of my thirtieth hard-bound notebook were worthy of the cause.

In the years before I went to law school, I wrote on and off. I’d churn out a couple of good blogs while my students were taking the high school exit exam, then fall off the wagon for a month and half.

My mom remained my only reader, and I never considered expanding my audience.

During law school, I briefly tried to be a yoga-blogger, but it quickly got repetitive and stale. I felt uninspired and uninteresting and judgmental of all the people on elephant journal who seemed to write about yoga for a living.

“How do they have so much to write about? Isn’t it pretty much the same lesson, new day?”

Because my third year of law school was easily the most laid-back, fun, spiritually enriching period of my adult-life, I picked up writing again. I gave myself the freedom to write about anything. I let go of narrow expectations. I didn’t have a purpose, or a message, or a theme. I’d sit down at my computer and allow myself to put whatever I was feeling on the page.

I shared my first blog on social media the day my dear friend Heather Redford died. It’s clear to me now that Heather helped me do it. She used her courage, and spirit, and no-nonsense way of revealing life’s most important lessons.  She told me to cut through the fear, and the bullshit, and show myself to the world. At the time though, it felt like an act of survival. The pain was so deep and so raw, and I was so far away from everyone I wanted to be close to, it was the only thing I could think to do to ease the sting.

All sorts of people responded. My local friends and my Sacramento friends and friends I hadn’t seen, or heard from, in years. Expressions of love and sympathy and compassion came pouring through email and text messages from every piece of my life.

My friend Anne told me my blog “hit her like a ton of bricks.”

She could relate, and others said they could, too.

Over the next couple of months, I shared more of my writing. The more I shared, the more people reached out to me. To tell me how much they identified with my feelings and experiences and perspective. I connected with my childhood best friends and my elementary school classmates. Girls I fought with in high school and the older lady friends of my mom. Kids that used to work for me, and alumni bruins I volunteered with, way-back-when. My brother’s wife and his girlfriend from boarding school. My yoga teaching friends, my law school friends, people I never considered friends at all.

They wrote with praise and support and their own stories. They thanked me for my honesty, and courage, and willingness to share. Each time, each of them, in a new way, reminded me, of the same thing.

We are all connected.

Writing, for me, is a practice. Of meeting the world, head-on, as my most authentic self. When I write, I reveal the pieces of myself that, in person, can easily hide behind my sarcastic wit and self-confidence and articulate speech. I’ve written things on this blog that I’ve never even said out loud. To anyone. Not even myself.

And it is those things, always, that people respond to most.

I write because I love to.

I share because connection is the root of a beautiful life.

Internet Love Story

The Internet is creepy. A land of voyeurism and judgement. A hot bed for the exchange of righteous opinions and bad information. Shameless self-promotion, shameful self-deprecation. Wedding pictures. Food imagery. Hashtags and viral videos.

My relationship with the internet is like most of my recent romances: Addicting and fascinating. Repulsive and dangerous. One day exhilarating. The next day devastating. every encounter filled with internal conflict between how I am and how I want to be.

Late last summer I sat on my computer trying to piece together my post-law-school plan. Still jet lagged from a month in Asia, I could barely face the idea of starting the next chapter of my life. I felt paralyzed by uncertainty, resistant to changes already taking place.

Without explanation, a post popped up on my Facebook page from one of my high school classmates. I hadn’t seen any internet action from this guy since we first connected online in the early days of the website. I hadn’t seen this guy in person since graduation day.

My mind flashed on memories of Miles from the Varsity basketball team and our school student government. He was uniquely wholesome in a pure and genuine way. Years before the movie empire was conceived, he looked and acted like a character from Disney’s High School Musical  He was smart and silly and loveable. The type of boy the mom of a high school girl would encourage her daughter to go out with. The clearest, most vivid vision I have of him is at the bedside of his long-time girlfriend. She broke her back in a freak ski accident, and in the days that followed, he spent every minute next to her in a tiny downstairs room of her parents’ house.

Years later, I would wonder if he was put on the planet to support strong women in their recovery from unthinkable events.

My focus lands back on my computer. He writes a blog. I click on it immediately.

I read three words and burst into tears.

The blog was launched in response to Miles’ wife’s cancer diagnosis. His 28 year old wife. With stage four lung cancer. A vibrant, beautiful young woman. Full of life and love and energy and potential.  Dreams and plans stretching far into the future.

I kept reading. And crying. Then crying some more.

I read every post dating back to late June when she was first diagnosed. I cringed thinking about so many late-June hysterical breakdowns in the face of my Barbri Paced Program Study List. Perspective is not retro-active.

An hour later I closed my computer and pulled a blanket over the top of my head. I shrunk into my couch. I wanted the entire experience to evaporate. I felt a surge of anger and frustration still lingering from my loss of Heather. I felt too weak to take on the sadness. I decided I needed to let it go, or, more likely, block it out.

But as the weeks went on, I was back on the blog. Over and over again.

Miles writes clearly with humor and sincerity. His narrative voice is beautiful and funny and evocative. Reading his blog, I feel like we’re sitting at brunch together sharing our lives. His support of, and dedication to his wife animates every word. The blog, designed to give medical information and updates, reads like an elegant, honest and witty love story.

Out of sadness, I feel hope. The courage of this woman is indescribable. In every picture, she is beaming. The mere description of her battle leaves me exhausted and yet she continues to prevail. I have laughed and cried with her. She’s become one of my most important teachers of the practices of presence and unconditional love. A reminder to value the life I have. The moments of health and deep breaths and illness free meals with people I love. She gives me hope that in the face of challenge, I too could find the strength of a resilient warrior goddess, who refuses to give up.

Miles and his wife are strangers to me. We may never see or talk to each other in real-life. Still, I feel a deep and intimate connection to their story, their strength and their ongoing optimism and bravery. I feel tremendous gratitude to them for illuminating this deeply private struggle in their lives.

You can find love and inspiration here.

You can donate to help Emily’s recovery and research for future lung cancer patients.

You can fall in love with Miles’ entire family. You can be inspired by a remarkable story. You can creep on the internet, and find something beautiful.

Speak My Truth

I’ve been in hiding.

Hiding from my friends and family.

Hiding from my blog.

“I’m too busy to write.” “I don’t have the energy.” “At the end of a brutal day, I just need to zone out.”

All true.

All a load of B.S.

I have plenty of time to write.

Three days ago, I spent thirty minutes lying face down in the carpet on my living room floor.

I could have been writing.

Last night, I watched back to back episodes of “Duck Dynasty” on A&E.

I could have been writing.

I’m not writing because I don’t like what I have to say.

I feel sad, lonely and depressed. I feel lost, confused and hopeless. If I were to fill out one of those depression surveys you sometimes encounter at the doctor’s office, they’d likely keep me overnight for observation.

I can’t stand feeling like this. And  for me, the only thing worse than feeling like this, is other people finding out about it.

So I keep it to myself.*

I fake it out in public and lie to my friends.

I refuse to write.

Three years ago, I trained to be a yoga teacher. Many mantras, life philosophies and spiritual rules to live by emerged from my teacher training. Of these, the most frequently referenced was”speaking your truth.” We talked about it constantly. What it means, what it sounds like, how it feels. The consequences of not doing it. I remember the conversations. Listening to people have epiphanies, reveal themselves, cry. I was present and conscious in the room.

I never connected to the experience.

I thought, “I’m an honest, straightforward person. I rarely hesitate to give my opinion, in some cases, regardless of whether I’ve been asked for it. Speaking my truth? yeah. I got that.”

But in the last three years I’ve considered the ways and circumstances in which I don’t speak my truth.

Hiding from my blog is a big one.

When I judge my truth, I don’t speak it. When my truth conflicts with the standards I’ve created for how I should look, act, and think, I don’t speak it. When I convince myself that other people don’t want to hear my truth, I don’t speak it.

When I feel less than myself, I go into hiding.

Right now, I want to stop writing.

Truth: Throughout law school I was pretty arrogant. I celebrated, sometimes gloated, about how easy it is was for me. When I thought about studying for the California Bar Exam I figured I’d have a similar experience. What feels torturous and overwhelming for most people will feel completely manageable for me.

Truth: I was wrong.

Truth: I’m struggling to be patient, kind, compassionate and human in this process. I feel disconnected, angry and unhappy.

Truth: I pride myself on being a well adjusted person. I’ve had a daily yoga practice for six years. I meditate. I write in a gratitude journal. I read self-help books and spiritual blogs. In my imagination, I have an arsenal of coping skills.

Truth: I cried all day today.

Truth: I want to erase everything above this line and share a light-hearted story about using the voice activation feature in my new car.

Truth: I’m going to publish this anyway.

*special shout-out to my mom, to whom I always speak my truth, from whom I can never hide, and who is constantly peeling my pathetic, tired ass off the pavement, dusting me off, and helping me get on my way. She never gets credit, or gratitude, or recognition, but I love her deeply for seeing me and supporting me, no matter what.

Early Expectations

I want to write a blog where I reflect daily about something interesting/bizarre/heart-warming/thought-provoking that happens. I want to write every day. I want each post to be eloquent, insightful, inspiring, funny and honest. I want to show myself.

I’ve started two other blogs with similar expectations (here and here). I set out to change the world, one powerful post at a time. When I struggle to finish posts (and my only reader is my mom) I get discouraged, then distracted, and ultimately my motivation to keep writing disappears.

I watch more tv.

I go on Facebook.

I have daily reflections about interesting/bizarre/heart-warming/thought-provoking things that happen. Sometimes I share them with my friends.

I dream about writing a blog.

The more I dream, the more my expectations become elaborate and specific: I will write every day. It will be eloquent, insightful, inspiring, funny and honest. I will show myself.

When I can’t possibly contain myself any more, I start a blog.

I have a yoga teacher who frequently uses the phrase: “Try to be curious without getting attached to a particular outcome.”

I am the worst at this.

I don’t want to do anything unless I know EXACTLY how it’s going to turn out. I start everything with a long list of outcomes (see above). I rarely venture into the unknown.

As soon as something I’ve started looks different than my initial plan, I want to quit. Turn around. Disengage. Break-Up. Drop-Out.

I miss one day of blogging and it feels like failure.

I sometimes wonder how to differentiate between: setting goals and attaching to expectations; purposeful action and obsessive-compulsion; letting go and giving up. I struggle to balance my desire to be fluid and flexible with my desire to be productive and critical.

Today, I’ll publish this post on my new blog. Tomorrow I’ll judge myself for not having anything important to write. The next day I’ll wonder if I should just give up, and the cycle will continue.

I will use this space to struggle with pushing past my early expectations. To confront things I didn’t anticipate and learn to sit with them, feel them out. I will try to learn, listen and understand.

I will try to keep writing.