Given the opportunity, most people would say that they want to better themselves. They want to take the steps to become the people that they were meant to be. They want to do the things they’ve dreamed about for years and years. But how many people ––how many of YOU––still have dreams burning inside you that haven’t come true yet? Or dreams that have been so long buried you’ve completely forgotten what they are?
So what’s the problem? Why do we allow these dreams to pass us by? And what are the consequences for allowing them to die?
Two weeks ago I was working at the first annual AY Live event, held in beautiful downtown Charleston, South Carolina. As some of you may recall, I work for Kris Ward of Abundant Yogi. I’m a virtual assistant. My daily tasks range from customer service phone calls and emails, to social media posts, weekly reporting, slide creation, and scheduling. For this event I was in charge of all of the incidentals – the food and drinks, chair rental, contract negotiation, and a few other miscellaneous items. Upon arrival, my supervisor Amber and I hit the ground running. We loaded 2 cars full of everything we would need for an entire weekend event, plus our personal bags and computers, all of Kris and her husband Kraig’s personal items, and two dogs and their paraphernalia. And all of that had to go down a big flight of stairs to get loaded up.
Then it was off to downtown Charleston. When we arrived, we had to unload all of said items from the car as quickly as possible so we wouldn’t risk a parking ticket or melted pumpkin ice cream. The first would have been a bummer. The second, a tragedy. Then it was up to the 2nd and 3rd floors. Thank God for elevators. And freezers.
Once everything was unloaded and generally stored in the right areas, we got started. Now, I have never hosted, planned, coordinated, set up for or frankly had anything to do with an event like this before. So, you can imagine my feelings of “What do we do now?” when we walked into the space.
The space is gorgeous. It’s a huge loft apartment. However, to make it into an event space for 35 people, we had some rearranging to do. The bed and dining table had to go. The couches had to be rearranged. The rented chairs had to be set up. We needed music, and the ability to play a DVD. Food and drinks had to be brought in and set up. Then there was all of our materials for the event. By 3:00 Amber and I were dead on our feet and getting a little “hangry”––a word somebody coined that weekend––a nasty combination of hungry and angry.
We took a break for a sandwich and some coffee but we were still feeling the strain. The pressure was on to make this an AWESOME weekend for these ladies. To absolutely out-do ourselves in every way. But finally at 6:00 they started arriving and we could relax, because at that point, it was game ON and there was nothing more that we could do.
It was SO amazing to see everyone. Eleven of these ladies I had met at the retreat back in May, so it was great to reunite and chat a bit. The other 15 or so women I hadn’t actually met but had communicated with via emails and phone calls and some I was friends with on Facebook. I knew their kids’ names and what kind of soup they had made for dinner. I felt like I already knew them and we were just one big happy family. I relaxed a bit more.
The night kicked off with a talk on Lifestyle Design. What is that? Well, just what it sounds like – YOU design YOUR life. You make conscious choices about where you want to live, and what you want to do. You design out your perfect day starting with what time you get up, what you eat for breakfast, who you see during your day, every single thing you do that totally lights you up, all the way to the end when you decide what time you go to bed and what thread count your sheets are made of.
Seriously, the more details, the better.
The idea is that you make this very conscious list of what you want and then not only consciously start working toward it (want to live in the mountains? Go look for a house.) but your subconscious also starts working on it and the Universe (or God if you prefer) lines up with you to help you make it happen.
Sounds pretty easy really, and it is. This is how those dreams become reality. We’ve all seen people do it. Hell, I’ve done it a number of times. So why are there so many un-lived dreams?
How many of us have had one or several or ALL of these excuses?
- I can’t.
- I don’t have the money.
- I don’t have the time.
- When the kids get older.
- When I’m in better shape.
- When the weather is nicer.
- I’m not smart/skinny/pretty/handsome/talented enough.
You get my drift. We’ve all got excuses about why we can’t do things. But if we keep listening to those excuses, we might actually start to believe them and then a part of us will die. Without a dream, or worse – with a dream un-lived inside of us – we start to see the world through a very negative set of eyes. We see a world in which dreams don’t come true, and life is hard and ugly, and where we can’t do anything and we have nothing to offer to the world. That’s not a pretty world, nor is it a happy mental space to be in.
And that’s what Kris does. She’s a Lifestyle Design Coach. She works with people to help them figure out the whats and wheres by asking questions and listening to the answers carefully. Then she gives them a good kick in the ass and makes them get rid of their excuses so they can do it. Sometimes it’s not pretty, but more often, it’s just having someone that holds them accountable that gets them moving. People get on the road to fulfilling lifelong dreams and they are happier, better people for it. And once they’ve fulfilled one dream, the next one comes faster and easier, and then the next, and the next… and the cycle continues from there.
Many of the hour long presentations covered business-y type of things, but a few really stood out to me as things that EVERYONE needs, regardless of what business (or even lack thereof) you’re in.
Amber Kinney – my supervisor and organizational GENIUS – presented on just that: Organization and Time Management. She talked about how to use some really great systems like Google calendar and Google Docs; Basecamp for managing big projects; Skype for communicating cheaply and easily; and several others. But the core of her talk was what struck me -
It’s not about managing TIME, it’s about managing YOURSELF WITHIN TIME.
Hmmm…. ever looked at it that way? Because really, time just marches on, doing its thing – it’s our ability to flex and bend, to prioritize and focus, that makes time work for us. So she taught about that – prioritizing. Knowing what is MOST important to you and then DOING it FIRST. Giving 100% of yourself to the task until it is complete, and then relishing in the accomplishment.
She also gave tips on setting up daily rituals – really taking care of YOU so that you can really be present, feel your best, and just start, transition, and end your day on the right foot. Each of these should nourish mind, body, and spirit. A great example of a morning ritual would be:
- Body: drink water and exercise
- Mind: journal and meditation
- Spirit: inspired reading to reinforce the intention for each day
The focus through all of her talk was what makes YOU feel good, what helps YOU to feel organized and productive, hence allowing YOU to be the best YOU you can be…. see the theme beginning to blossom here?
Jessica Boylston-Fagonde at Brand Thyself came to the stage with an intensity that about blew me away. Her business is to nail down––INTO ONE WORD––your core ESSENCE. What differentiates you from them. One word. That’s it. And then from there you can build and expand. She works typically with Yoga teachers but is expanding into other similar holistic-minded businesses. You could tell by watching her she wanted to grab each and every one of us and have a full two hour session to find each person’s essence. However, we had only given her about 45 minutes. So she had to pack it in. To brand a yoga teacher (massage therapist, acupuncturist, etc…) is to find their personality and what makes them, well THEM. This isn’t a thing, this is a person you’re selling – yourself. You have to go as deep as you can and find that one thing that resonates with you at your core because with that pinpointed focus, you will attract the EXACT people to you who will LOVE your style. It’s genius. She’s a genius. And again, the theme was Y-O-U.
Do you see the pattern here? This was a build-your-business type of conference with a theme of Increase Velocity While Decreasing Tension. Meaning, get where you want to get faster and easier. But even in that, you’ve got to know WHERE you want to get which means you’ve got to know YOU.
This was really a workshop on getting to know yourself. My little realization about halfway through. That’s really what this is all about. The fact that so many of us don’t REALLY know who we are. We don’t know what we want to do, what lights us up, what our true genius is. It seems to be an illusive gift bestowed upon the few rather than the many. And why is that? Why do so many of us walk through life not knowing what should be the simplest answer in the world?
Is it the false expectations put upon us by parents/peers/colleagues/society? Is it fear of failure? Or fear of success? Yes, yes, and yes. And all of these sprout from one place – Monkey Mind.
Kris talks a lot about Monkey Mind. We’ve all got it. It’s that constant chatter that’s going on in your head. It might tell you you look fat, you’re stupid, or maybe it’s not quite that negative but it cautions you against trying anything that’s not “normal” or it worries unnecessarily about things that are completely out of your control. It sucks the juice right out of you leaving you drained and empty, with no energy left for passion and reality.
The “cure” for monkey mind? Well, there’s really no such thing, but anytime you catch yourself there, you say, (getting this straight from Kris)
“Thanks Monkey Mind for that little tidbit. I’m HERE now and doing THIS.”
And then you have to just feel super present – in the moment. Take a look at what is ACTUALLY going on around you. What is your body feeling at that moment? If you were spacing off worrying about a test you have coming up that day while eating your breakfast, come back to that yummy breakfast and taste it, smell it, see and feel it’s textures and colors. Maybe broaden your awareness to your surroundings – the room you’re in, the sounds you hear… just be PRESENT, and then Monkey Mind fades away.
In that space left by Monkey Mind there is room for dreams, room for YOU to begin to shine. And the more you dream and the more you shine, the more YOU will BE. Simple as that.
We wrapped up the conference on Sunday with a talk from Hilary Rubin, a phenomenal coach and yoga teacher talked to us about Radical Self Acceptance. She speaks from experience – she came from a broken (VERY broken) home, she had tremendous health problems. She wanted to crawl in a hole and die. Instead she stepped up and from her experiences and her life, she now leads other women to transform enormous pain and suffering into “pure, vibrant energy.”
She inspired each of us to be RADICALLY, UNAPOLOGETICALLY, UNABASHEDLY us… to live life fully and without regrets because those regrets manifest themselves – sometimes in diseases, or maybe a broken marriage, or maybe some other way.
So each of these women, these beautiful, talented, fully self-expressed women encouraged us to just be us. To be true to that and then KNOW in our heart of hearts, that everything else would be PERFECT.
This quote from TUT, a daily inspirational quote service that I subscribe to, says it in such an awesome way: (put your name in for mine)
When you look into the mirror, dena, do you look for what you love the most?
Do you look for me?
Do you smile?
Did you just ask, “Is there any other reason to look into a mirror?
~ The Universe
I came back from the weekend tired, but fully aware of my own short-comings when it comes to being really and truly ME. I have journaled about it and thought about it at length, and in some instances really let myself shine. Last Thursday night’s yoga class was one of my best because instead of worrying so much about the poses themselves, I just came from that super authentic place and taught what was in my heart.
And it was spot ON.
From off the beaten path,
dena – Part Time Gypsy