Creation needs a soundtrack. Go get to it.
Creation needs a soundtrack. Go get to it.
No one is going to discover you, instead it is up to you, to reveal yourself. Sleep well. Dream big. Live boldly.
*Original posted on my Huffington Post Blog, 3.18.2013
Two weeks ago, what was originally described as "financial apocalypse" or a "doomsday scenario" by many occurred. The sequester cuts, totaling roughly $1.5 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years, were discussed in many major media outlets. Yet, it was reported in a recent Gallup Poll that the majority of American's were not interested in this aspect of our national conversation because they were unsure of the personal impact. The irony cannot be overlooked.
Although the sequester dialogue was framed around fiscal and programmatic impact, the underlying theme of the conversation, is a question.How do we withdraw from our lives of over-consumption? If the "new economy" is here to stay, then it is critical for us each to develop an understanding of this question that resonates with our day to day lives.
I suggest a personal sequester.
In January 2011, I needed a reset. Growing up in the '90s I had developed an all consuming thirst for success and activity. As a digital native there hasn't been a time when I wasn't connected and as the pace of the Internet quickened all of our lives, I found my life moving at breakneck pace. Barely able to appreciate my success and accomplishments, I felt deeply pained by my failures and overwhelmed by the constant busy. After a chaotic first two years in NYC, I felt unmoored and disengaged. I realized I was no longer present in my own life, which troubled and scared me.
Although I grew up with a profound faith and access to religious traditions, the desire to feel present wasn't accompanied by a clear understanding of how to get in touch with my own life. Maybe -- I thought -- it would be as simple as being in motion, to be in my body felt logical and compelling.
As I begin what evolved into a daily yoga practice, I realized that I needed to step out of the flow of traffic and noise in order to access my internal still and quiet. This was a tall order. As a recent NYC transplant on the heels of a devastating economic recession, slowing down was extraordinarily counterintuitive. That said, I made peace and self discovery a priority, and as I disappeared from social media, adopted a vegan diet and declined social activities in favor of intentional solitude, I found myself in a new way. In truth, it was the most pivotal six months of my life and I suggest that each of us consider what it would take to feel our lives in a renewed way. Uncluttered, pure, present and free.
The strategic approach to developing a personal sequester involves seven components:
1. Assessment. How do you feel? Taking time to pause in your life begins with setting aside time to have an internal check-in. Are you stressed? Are you tired? How does your body feel? How does your skin look? The human body provides clear indications of disharmony.
2. Acknowledgement. Upon realizing your need, acceptance and acknowledgment are critical in creation an action plan. American work culture posits that exhaustion is a tenant of hard work. As such, many people I know feel guilt, as if the need to slow down is a gross luxury. This is an inaccurate and dangerous supposition.
3. Prioritization. All evolution is possible because of a first step. Choosing which personal needs to prioritize is essential. In my own life, physical wellness (sleep, diet, exercise) were pivotal to become more grounded in my life.
4. Implementation. Once you have discovered your needs and prioritized them, create a strategy for your personal sustainability, which also needs to include how you'll make it work. For example, in choosing to become vegan, I knew that I would have to cook more often to ensure that I had enough choices during the work day. My implementation plan included creating a weekly menu of vegan meals including snacks.
5. Adjustment. Adjusting the goals and the efforts around them is a natural part of achieving success. Initially, I wanted to attend a meditation class. However, due to my work schedule and personal commitments, bi-weekly classes were more realistic.
6. Maintenance. Consistency and self- discipline are the tenants of a life of peace and contentment. Maintenance means developing systems to maintain your personal accountability. I found that leaning on close friends who supported my desire to slow down was valuable.
7. Incorporation. When all was said and done, I had taken a full six months of time to myself, 18 months later I have re-engaged in my social networks and returned to the NYC pace in many ways, but now I am informed by my needs and work to support my sustainability on a daily basis.
Have you paused today? What are you waiting for, because your life is just waiting for you.
The most inevitable fact about our lives is that change is constant. The formidable and brilliant author, Octavia Butler (the first African American woman to receive a MacArthur Award for Science Fiction) has a short poem that so beautifully captures this fact:
“All that you touch, you change. All that you change, changes you.
The only lasting truth is Change.God is Change.”
And despite this impermeable fact when changes occur the majority of us panic and grieve in ways that are not only illogical at times but also dangerous. When you panic, you make choices that are not grounded in what you want, in fact, choices made in panic tend to be completely fear based and direct us towards what we don't want.
One of the most common traits found in high-performing people (athletes, corporate executives, artist, etc.) is that they have high degree of self-discipline and a high-capacity to adapt. In a Forbes November 2012 Article written by Travis Bradberry, he eloquently explains that adaptive leaders have emotional intelligence, integrity, believe in developing others and sharing information.' Adaptive leaders have the ability to step into an environment, develop an analysis and adjust as necessary to reach their intended outcomes.
Have you ever started a job and realized it didn't meet your expectations? What did you? An adaptive leader would asses and adjust. Have you ever made contact with a distant role model only to realize up close that the were imperfect? Did you dismiss their mentorship or adjust your expectation of the interaction? Have you ever been given an opportunity that wasn't what you hoped for? Did you give up and miss out or did you rise to the occasion and embrace a lesson you couldn't predict?
Our expectations often go unmet and then one of two things occurs - we adapt or we leave. As Monday knocks on this door this week - take a moment to asses and adjust. Your life is waiting for you to step into your power and thrive.
Onward and Upward,
Hello my dears, welcome to What's For Dinner Wednesday - althought this won't always be a dinner entree today it is. One of the hallmarks of living as a bachelorette in New York City is having a fridge that only contains a Brita water pitcher and a freezer full of frozen meals. If you're like one of my friends you may have gotten smart and now purchase a weekly 1/2 rotissere chicken to spice things up. This is no way to live.
As a proud NYC single vegan - I am happy to say that I have a homemade meal for 80-90% of my weekly meals. You can too. If you're looking for something that's quick and delicious and Thai inspired I'd like to suggest a delightful bowl of pineapple fried rice and teriyaki baked tofu. These recipes are not my own but they sure come out great!
1 tablespoon olive oil 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil 3 cloves garlic, chopped 1 red pepper, diced 3 cups sweet brown rice, cooked 3 tablespoons vegetable broth 3 tablespoons soy sauce 1 tablespoon curry powder 1/4 cup peas, frozen 1 cup fresh pineapple, cut into chunks 1/2 cup toasted coconut 1 cup roasted & salted cashews 1/2 cup scallions 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Heat the oils in a large wok. Add the garlic and red pepper. Cook the red pepper until slightly softened, about 1 minute. Toss in the rice, broth, soy sauce, and curry powder. Heat until the rice is sizzling Remove from heat, add the peas, pineapple, coconut, cashews, and scallions. Stir until well mixed. Top with cilantro and serve immediately.
One 14- to 16-ounce tub tofu, drained
For the tofu, cut it into 8 slabs crosswise and blot very well between clean kitchen towels or paper towels. If you want your baked tofu to be extra firm, you can place a cutting board over them with some sort of weight for 20 to 30 minutes or so. Better yet, use a tofu-pressing device like the Tofu XPress (see review of this product here on VegKitchen, and see how to use it for this recipe, below).
Combine all the marinade ingredients in a small container and whisk together. Arrange the tofu slices in a single layer in a shallow container and pour enough marinade over them to cover. Let stand for an hour or two—the longer, the better.
Shortly before you’d like to bake the tofu, preheat the oven to 400º F. If this is the only thing you’re making, use a toaster oven—it’s the perfect size. Otherwise, roast some veggies at the same time (I used the excess marinade to roast eggplant in this photo). Remove the tofu slices from the marinade and transfer to a parchment-lined baking pan in a single layer.
Bake for 20 minutes, then turn over and bake for 15 to 20 minutes longer, or until the tofu is firm and starting to turn light brown along the edges
This month’s interview is with Linda Kay Klein. Linda is a writer, speaker, and spiritual strongwoman based in New York City. She directs the Work on Purpose program for Echoing Green, a global nonprofit that unleashes next generation talent to solve the world’s biggest problems. Work on Purpose inspires and equips people to create careers that are both right for them and good for the world. Linda sits on the advisory board of Our Inner Lives, a project of Feminist.com, for which she also writes the “Fierce, Faithful, and Free” column.
What are you passionate about?
Last week I led a workshop for a group of college students. I encouraged them to talk to strangers on the subway. To tell their whole truths to someone they will never see again for just 5 minutes and to see what happens. They looked at me like I was insane. But who else do they expect to tell their truths to! They’re not going to tell it to their bosses, not their best friends, everyone they’ve got to worry about what they think of them—and they better tell someone, and quick, or they might forget what their truth is altogether…so why not a stranger? Some of my favorite memories were made with people I never saw again.
I am passionate about authenticity, honesty, humility, showing up fully with all my flaws, my jokes that fall flat, my lack of answers, all of it. I am also passionate about other people coming along on this journey with me, because when we do, we see one another. And when we see one another, anything can happen. Injustices can be overturned, wounds healed, divides collapsed, wars ended, and revivals begun
Do you believe you know your purpose in life? If so, how did you come to this conclusion?
Ah, purpose. This is something I think a great deal about. In fact, I am the director of Echoing Green’s Work on Purpose program. So…“purpose” is literally in my job title.
It is fortunate then that, yes, I do believe I know my purpose in life! It is to inspire people to be honest with and good to themselves and one another, and to live life fully.
Today, I live my purpose out by helping people create careers that are both right for them and good for the world through the social entrepreneurship and social change organization Echoing Green. I also live my purpose out by writing about women, sex, and God—which I think of as my “soul-work”—for my Fierce, Faithful and Free column on Feminist.com, my Man-Made Girls blog, and the book that I am writing about eternal girlhood in the evangelical Christian church. And I live it out by singing with my gospel choir, by putting on my “Dancing Alone” mix and getting down in my apartment as often as possible, and talking to strangers on the subway.
Do you engage in setting goals? If so how do you hold yourself accountable?
I absolutely set goals! I believe that purpose is created, not found (though creating it does take a bit of finding), and creation of any kind takes work.
I have what I call my Life Strategic Plan, which includes my personal vision, mission, and objectives, as well as a series of goals and strategies for completing those goals for the upcoming year. This is a living document and is not meant to be adhered to strictly, but just to provide a bit of direction.
I also keep a weekly Action Report, which is basically a glorified to-do list, in which I document all of my long-term goals, short-term goals, and action steps I will take toward them each week. Action steps include everything from purchasing a book on sex and spirituality to reaching out to an editor I admire.
I try to wake up 40 minutes before work each day in order to update my Action Report, and to tackle a few things on it while I drink my coffee. But I am gentle with myself when I don’t do it. After all, life is for living, and sleep is a delicious thing.
When analyzing an opportunity in your life (professional or personal) what questions inform your choices?
The number one question I ask myself is “What does my gut have to say about it?” My gut is very smart, much smarter than either heart or my head. In fact, I think that our guts—that small voice we can all find in our innards, is the very same “still small voice” that Elijah heard, and that the church calls the Holy Spirit. Remember that story?
Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave.
- I Kings 19:11-13a
What self care habits do you engage in (yoga, time with a close friend, reading, etc).
Every Thursday is LKK Day. This is the untouchable day in which I can do anything I want, as long as I do it alone. It is the thing that keeps me sane in New York City. Often, I do yoga on Thursdays. I could use more self-care honestly, but this is one thing that has made a huge difference for me.
Why do you think it's so common that women in our society put themselves last and how can we begin to shift that cultural attitude?
It is deep in us—our history, and our collective understanding of ourselves—this notion that we are worth less than what we can offer to others, which in essence means that we are worth less…than others. That’s what happens when the patriarchy lasts as long as it has.
This will only change when we women begin to see themselves as equally valuable. There is some pretty stellar work going on to help get us there—work within education, religion, economic development, art, and more. It will take all of it. And more. Some of my favorite Echoing Green Fellows doing this work are Shining Hope for Communities, and the Op-Ed Project.
Best way to celebrate your own successes.
I tend to go with cupcakes. But I am open to other suggestions….
To stay in touch with Linda you can visit her blog at www.manmadegirls.com.
For those of you who weren’t able to attend last night’s Blogher ’12 reception hosted by Levo League and WIMAccelerator you missed the amazingness that is Kass Lazerow. A woman after my own heart she was beautifully honest, transparent and authentic. In her fifteen minutes at the podium she gave 10 Leadership Lessons that have allowed her to have the phenomenal success we’ve all witnessed (congrats to Kass on the recent Salesforce deal!).
Here you are, share the lessons with your friends and let’s get more women to the top!
1. Find a Mentor, Ideally Someone Who Scares You – You want a mentor who is shaping you for greatness by not only giving you public praise but also taking you aside to give you advice on how to improve.
2. Say What You Mean and Mean What you Say – For female entrepreneurs, authenticity is key.
3. Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously – Be willing to laugh at yourself, get out of your head and enjoy the moments as they go along.
4. Know What You Don’t Know – Don’t be intimated to hire people who are smarter than you, they make you look good.
5. Get Good at Making Tough Decisions – This is a key aspect of being a strong leader, at some point you’ll have to fire someone. Learn to do it right.
6. Get to the Bottom of the Issue – If you think there is an issue, there probably is, prioritize and address it.
7. Have Faith – You need a lot of faith, not necessarily religious faith however. You need to keep the doubts out. This type of faith is a habit, it’s about discipline. Stay focused on the vision and the goals. With constant focus on the vision you make things happen.
8. Lead by Example. Period.
9. Remember, Perception is Reality – Act as if you are already successful, be bold and live big.
10. Stay Present - There is no balance, nothing is balanced, there’s no point to try and find it. Instead, strive to be present and in the moment
Great advice, thanks Kass!
A poem dedicated to the joy of finding your way.
That girl She lives Wide Open Broken Free, Raw and unfettered Her spirit Shifts, runs, giggle Soars, dances and sings In glorious moments of confusion She celebrates Her lungs releasing elations song Tear stained cheeks, upturned and full of gratitude for struggle She knows Truth And weariness The soles of her feet touch Tip toes aching for depth The earth rises with her She is Light embracing wind, wild child blossoming in earnest Only now Does she know her destiny was deliverance? Hidden in the stars When god made the cosmos He planted her dreams in the belt of Orion A wish and a promise Of adventure and journeys and stories Griots spoke her into being Their tongues Spinning yarns, crafting her image She is made of hopes and prayers Amalgamated what ifs and dear gods Messiah in waiting Her wings Stand folded Embedded in the flesh of her back Her luminescent shoulder blades Taughtly bound Prepared for flight She stares Into the sun, a challenge Waiting for a sign She is an answer A bated breath A gracious understanding She leans Into a destiny she was born knowing Yet not understanding With each moment She gains clarity Her transcendence is fueled by joy And laughter And heartache And in each of her hopes Serenity lives Unbridled persistence Her countenance is that of a goddess Her courage burns Like white heat Platinum servitude Her effervescent spirit Chars her to purity Peeling back layers Of caution Her fear Blossoms Into boldness