I’ll Be On My Way, Just As Soon As I Shave This Yak

yak

There was a guy who wanted to mow his lawn one afternoon but had lent his lawn mower to his neighbor. When he asked his neighbor for the lawn mower, the neighbor refused.

“Not until you give me back the five other things you’ve borrowed from me!” said the neighbor.

The guy went back to his house and gathered up the things he’d borrowed from his neighbor. As he did that, he realized he had a problem–he had lost the sweater his neighbor brought back from Tibet years before.

The sweater was made of Yak’s wool. So in the middle of the night, the guy found himself breaking in to a zoo, sneaking in to the yak pen and shaving a yak to the get the yak hair to weave yak yarn to make a yak-hair sweater so he could give it back to his neighbor, get his lawn mower back and mow his lawn.

What does yak shaving represent? The “fiddly” tasks we let get between us and our goal–the excuses we make or the steps we insist need to be taken in order to launch something perfectly.

The guy should have just bought a sweater, gotten his mower back and mowed his yard.

We spend time yak shaving instead of doing because yak shavings tasks are in our control. We let ourselves believe that in order to accomplish our dreams, everything needs to be perfect. We spend too much time perfecting, or heading to the zoo to shave a yak.

Yak shaving shields us from facing the things we fear. It prevents us from ever really creating, doing, putting our work out there. But we need to start. Do it. Any of it. Maybe it doesn’t have to be a big plunge. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just needs to be something. Small bites. Small steps. One imperfect thing at a time.

 

I Will Face It When It All Blows Up

standing on the edge

There’s a big difference between strategic planning and strategic planning that stands in the way of doing something even greater because we refuse to deviate. I’ve learned this the hard way, yet still need the daily reminder. Consistently, I walk the line between control-freak and someone who embraces change.

I outline plans to stay focused and on-track and in reality, those plans rarely work out that way. People change their minds, get distracted, surprise me; things happens late, quit working, don’t function as intended; deadlines don’t get met, done deals don’t happen, circumstances change.

What I know for sure is that starting with a plan gets you one step closer to the goal but also having a plan for when those plans don’t work is just as important.

A mentor once told me, “shit happens.” Regardless of whether you’re a fan of the phrase or not, you might remind yourself of this when you’re stuck and can’t seem to move forward. When people tell you there are no other options, when you are faced with the way it’s always been done, and especially when everything blows up in your face, there is change in the air and there are new opportunities standing right in your way. Plan on seeing them.

I Screwed It Up, But I’ll Keep Trying

barn

 

Today started out as a good day. I woke up at 4:30, got a quick workout and stretch in, showered, and turned on my Pandora station curated around the music of The Cure. I had high hopes for today.

By the time 6:30 rolled around, I was just about ready to leave the house, looking forward to a few moments to myself in the office to get ahead and think creatively. But then it all went to shit–and I let it go that way. A few small things stopped me from leaving home when I wanted to and instantly, my attitude changed. I left twenty minutes later, but with an attitude that was not even a shadow of the hopeful one I had when I first woke.

My desire for perfection gets the best of me every time. Funny, I know, as I write a blog about the celebration of all things challenging, imperfect and full of courage. But I guess that’s partly why I write it. Those things that I admire, that excite me and motivate me, are also the same things I often struggle with the most.

I dislike the feeling of vulnerability (pretty sure I’m not alone in this) but I’ve done enough research and reflection to understand that vulnerability is as much a part of being human as is strength. I’m constantly seeking examples of strength in vulnerability in order to hopefully one day be more at peace with myself.

I am completely aware that I hold myself (and often everyone around me) accountable to really high standards. I believe that to be better today than I was yesterday, it’s necessary to keep reaching just beyond my capabilities. But when things don’t go as planned, it’s easy for me to forget the truths I know and get caught in that desperate need for perfection. The world starts spinning, I lose touch with the mindfulness and intent I started the day with and I am certainly no better today than I was yesterday, so I’ve lost in more ways than one.

There is a line at the end of a poem by Gwendolyn Brooks that says “Live not for battles won. / Live not for the-end-of-the-song. / Live in the along.” Perhaps one day I’ll learn to stop myself before I fall in to my very own perfection-trap. Until then, I’ll continue searching for the courageous and the imperfect and the beautiful which remind me to let go and experience more happiness.

 

 

Why Perfection Is Not Worth Waiting For

floating

Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65,

or 75, and you never got your MEMOIR or novel written; Or

you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those

years because your thighs were JIGGLY and you had a nice

big comfortable TUMMY; or you were just so strung out on

PERFECTIONISM and people-pleasing that you forgot to have

a BIG juicy creative life, of IMAGINATION and radical silliness

and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going

to break your heart. DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN.

— Anne Lamott

Only In The Darkness Can You See The Stars -MLK Jr

martin luther king jrIt’s difficult to write about something as serious as injustice and inequality. I get angry at the general cruelty that people can display towards one another based on biases they carry that have nothing to do with that person at all and I’m often overwhelmed by the amount of discrimination that happens casually and simply every day. Still, I recognize that the ability to recognize how far we have to go to reach equality is a gift from the people who struggled and become a part of the past we now have the pain and privilege to reflect upon.

I’m not really certain I know what fights to fight to make a difference or how to incite change on a macro level. As hard as it is to write about these disparities, the conversations aloud can be even harder to have–leaving everyone involved feeling raw and exposed. But when I look closely at any change that’s ever happened, there’s a theme of small gestures, brief acts of courage,  people stepping up to challenge what is accepted but not right, one meager moment at a time.

So here’s what I tell myself and I hope it might mean something to you as well: When you go to bed tonight, when you wake in the morning, when you’re standing in line at the store, when you’re watching the news or when you’re tucking your kids in at bed, think to yourself, “Could I do one thing better?'”and then do that one thing.

 

Through Service, We Realize How Deeply We Are All Connected

service

Service. If I could pick one word that affected my experiences in 2014 most deeply, it would be service. I have had the extraordinary pleasure of working with hundreds of people to serve our community, start meaningful and important conversations and create change where change needs to happen.

The thing that strikes me most about service to others is that the more if it I give, the more inwardly I am changed myself.

Here are a few things that I have discovered throughout my journey:

1. It’s not just what we do that matters, it’s the inner force behind our actions that really count.

The act of service is imperative to create change in the world but when coupled with inward transformation, it can really affect the world in a radically different way.

2. We are all connected.

Over time, through service and reflection, you realize how much we are all connected. Service is not the same as helping. When we view service as helping, it’s as though we are giving something to someone who has less than us and we inadvertently create an unequal relationship. True service, I believe, happens when we are aware and grateful for the things we are afforded in our own lives, and in turn, share those skills and resources with others. True service deepens our understanding of the ways we are all connected.

3. There are a million different “right ways” to view the world.

When you stop focusing on “what’s in it for me” and consider the ways you can contribute, you start to realize how abundant your life really is. Your mindset shifts from consumption to contribution and ironically, the more you practice focusing on the ways you can give, the less you feel depleted and in need.

“When you help, you see life as weak. When you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole.” –Rachel Remen

 
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