Grace's Corner

Q.U.E.S.T. - Quiet Your Ego So That...

A few days ago on my morning walk (omg, my morning ritual is on fire!! but more on that later), the word “quest” kept coming into my consciousness. In and out as if trying to send me a message, the word quest, quest, quest. I am personally on a quest right now to take myself into a deeper layer of my work, both my professional work and my inner work. So, the fact that this word kept entering my mind makes sense. But, as I walked, the word seemed to spell itself into an acronym that I had to share with you.

Now, I love a good acronym as a tool for remembering a framework or structure, but my creative (sometimes wild) brain doesn’t typically work in an acronym-loaded way. But, this one seemed to be handed to me like a little soft thought bubble falling out of the redwood trees. The letters appeared before me and they look like this. 

Q - Quiet

U - U/Your

E - Ego

S- So

T- That….

And the rest is up to you. Quiet your ego so that…

  • You can heal.

  • You can forgive.

  • You can overcome resistance.

  • You can say yes.

  • You can say no.

  • You can love.

  • You can grieve in the time and way you need.

  • You can make something.

  • You can try something new.

  • You can get unstuck.

  • You can cry.

  • You can stop crying. 

  • You can ask for more.

  • You can overcome shame.

  • You can love your body.

  • You can love yourself.

  • You can rekindle a relationship.

  • You can begin anew.

  • You can walk away.

  • You can walk back in.

  • You can say you’re sorry.

  • You can love more deeply.

  • You can create a new ritual.

  • You can quit.

  • You can persevere.

Or, whatever is required. This Q.U.E.S.T. is about quieting the “shoulds" and the expectations, the patterns and the hurt. To quiet your chattering mind so that you can move forward or look back. 

I hope it’s a useful tool for you. For me, it’s been occupying my mind all morning. “Grace, quiet your ego so that you can write this blog post today. Quiet your ego so that you can take a morning walk before you commit to anything else. Quiet your ego so that you can go easy on yourself as you get back to work”. And so on….enjoy the QUEST. We’ve got this. 

xo,

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It's my birthday.

This weekend I turn 44. Even my son was surprised...he thought I’ve been 41 “for a long time.” I’m sure I’ve missed some deadlines in the quest for eternal youth...my forehead still moves, I’m hardly ever vegan, and I don’t love Soul Cycle (sorry, not sorry). As I reflect on these recent years, I’m in awe not of the numbers on my birthday, but of what’s happened in this human experience. What I’ve learned. What I’ve lost. What has grown. And, what I’ve shed.

As I’ve shared with you my dearest community, my sister, Maggie, died in May. Running my business amidst this personal crisis was hard and I became overwhelmed with stress and self-doubt. I don’t think I slept for what felt like most of 2018. The flip side is that I have never felt nor imagined the depth of love as I did during the precious time I had with my sister.

Losing my sister and trying to participate in day-to-day life was a bit of a blur. I wandered. I cried. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t write. I resisted going to dance class. I was hurting and wanted to stay away from anything that brought me close to the deep places in my soul. My ability to manifest what I wanted felt broken; my magic touch no longer available to me. I became angry. I started to hate clichés and positive mantras...even the ones I had made up myself (and probably told you to do). I couldn’t be kind to myself, practice self-care, or show up fully...all of the things I prescribe to others. Darkness. 

During that time, a few leases and opportunities to open new Hivery locations fell apart. A guy in a shiny VC office mansplained that I had to open another Hivery fast in order to scale and “be relevant.” Otherwise, my work wouldn’t matter. I refrained from calling him a douche bag (victory bell!).

The days felt heavy. People that I never expected stuck to my side like glue, some showed up in a blindingly love-filled way, and conversely some wandered off (or lost my phone number). Even with a tribe, the road felt dark. People often said, “I know you have so many people around who love you...” as if to say that I’d be fine, but the loneliness was intense.

Through the cracks came faint melodies that started to sound like courage. We gathered 350 women for our Entrepreneur + Inspiration Lab event in San Francisco that finally reminded me again of my creative zone. I learned that if I don’t express myself, I die a little inside. Very good to know. Life hack...don’t forget. Another victory bell would soon be in sight when the location we’d been working on for over a year in SF finally came through.

That day at our big event, I felt the sunshine. That day I also met a world-class doctor. After meeting with her, to review my breast cancer risk (off the charts is what she called it, I believe), I decided to have a preventative double mastectomy. A couple months later, she held my hand and sang “Dear Theodosia” while I went under anesthesia. I woke up different, and in pain, but quite proud of myself for not chickening out. Glennon Doyle, you say “we can do hard things”…but geez. 

So, that’s what I’ve been up to. During these past two weeks of recovery, I’ve watched 18 movies and entire seasons of “Fixer Upper.”  I refuse to look at my iPhone screen time report as the boredom has led to an insane (and inane!) amount of scrolling. I am in beta mode right now, striving for Grace 2.0...I think I need to design a 2.0 t-shirt. I’m entirely sick of bone broth.

And the weirdest part? I’m happy. Confusingly, slowly, like moving underwater, humbly, happy. Hopeful. Willing. Ready. Alive. No longer attached to expectations, but thrilled to be here. Grateful for the love of a community I created, and just as grateful to be part of a world that I’m only a tiny molecule in.

Here I sit, surrounded by the massive love in my house and in my life. In awe. More willing than ever to walk through the door of what’s possible. Compassionate for all those whose struggles and battles are so much harder than mine. It is not a comparison of hardships, but on the global scale, I know I’ve had it easy. My hurt softens me to the hurt of others, and for that, this whole thing has been a whopper of a gift.

I see it again...the road ahead. And I’m squarely on it, facing forward. The rear view mirror is there to remind me of my fear, sadness and all that has been endured, but can be tilted away so as not to obstruct my view of the light. Licking my wounds, and putting a soft hand on yours, I have been beat up, broken-hearted, and reduced to pieces. I know you have, too. And I’m still here. With you. With so much love to give and so much more life in me. 

Screw resolutions. I’ve earned wisdom. And I intend to use it to create magnificent, bright spots on this curvy and unexpected road of life for as many humans as I can. As Pema Chodron writes, “Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us.”… That’s the quest: to humbly accept fear, to know that we don’t know, to have courage to stand on shaky ground, and to love fully and deeply, anyway and always.

Even with the unexpected. Even in the dark. There’s light. Don’t worry. Whether near or far, we’ve got each other. With unrelenting commitment, we’ve got this.

XO,

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Grace's Corner: A Tribute to Maggie

Dearest you,

I’ve spent most of my four years since starting The Hivery as open-hearted and transparent as I know how to be. Telling my story seemed so safe among the kindness and love of a community centered on elevating each other. You always made me feel like I could lead so openly.

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But I’ve been quiet these past few months and the weeks since the heartbreaking death of my dear younger sister, Maggie. She died a little over a month ago, and I’ve wanted to say something for a long time. And like a long lost friend, I have felt the urge many, many times to reach out and write to you. Like when you pick up the phone to call and then set it down because you don’t know what to say.

Sometimes it was because the pain was too great and the emotions too raw to tell my story. And sometimes, especially when Maggie was sick, I had to choose between sitting down to write versus spending precious moments being present with my sister. And as the moments became more and more fleeting, I had to choose Maggie.

Now, as I grieve and try to process, I feel “ready” to begin to share. I don’t yet know the fullness of this experience, but it has begun to feel, only recently, like it is needing to come out. Glennon Doyle, a favorite author and activist of mine, talks about how she is able to be so transparent in her writing by not sharing her story in real-time. She allows some time to pass so that the rawness isn’t in the moment, but can be recalled with the slight safety of distance. I understand that now. I’m still raw and my heart is fragile and ripped open, but I feel called to express my love for Maggie and to begin to tell her story and mine, too.

Maggie was diagnosed with breast cancer last September at the age of 33. The day that I found out, I was shattered with worry… I remember vividly how I crumbled; I sat and cried in the shower at what she would have to go through to get through this. I was angry and sad for her that she would have to put her life on hold, take time off from a job she loved, and possibly have the opportunity to have children taken away from her. At that time, I never thought she would die.

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She was living in LA with her boyfriend, Brandon, and with him and my other sisters, we created a schedule to go with her to every chemo. I loved being by her side and was amazed at her determination to conquer this chemo thing, stay strong, and keep her routine. She worked full-time throughout chemo (she was a chef and the director of catering for a chic LA restaurant group). She was determined to show up as her best self, both for battling cancer, and for her future. She admitted often that this "cancer bullshit” was the most traumatic experience she’d ever been through, yet all she could talk about was how lucky she was to be so loved, to have healthcare, to have a second chance. She kept us laughing throughout her chemo treatments, making jokes with the chemo nurse that she’s here for happy hour, and requesting a margarita in her IV bag.

One morning, during my visit for her fourth round of treatment, I was leaving Maggie's house in LA…it was early, and time for me to go to the airport. Maggie was still sleeping, so I quietly tip-toed into her room and sat next to her on the bed. “I’m leaving,” I said, and kissed her on the cheek. Her eyes opened, I rubbed her little, bald head…it was the most perfect, little head I’ve ever seen. Bald and sleeping, she couldn’t help but be adorable. “I miss you already, Mags”, I told her.

“You need to go. You’ve got stuff to do. Keep doing what you’re doing, Grace. You’re doing the right thing.” she said. And then, “Mom’s proud of you."

“Mom’s proud of you, too.” I told her, as the tears welled up. My heart hurt and my heart was bursting at the same time.

Even after her own chemo treatment, in her pajamas, with her sweet, little face looking up at me like a Buddhist angel, she thought of me, coached me, encouraged me, and loved me. I sat on the bed that morning and felt through my veins what it means to love so deeply that it hurts.

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And, she did it…she did exactly what “they" told her to do. She did all of the chemo treatments. She continued an organic, vegan diet. She did yoga, she meditated, she went to acupuncture. She journaled. She practiced gratitude. She started telling me in November how scared she was and that she’d been thinking about what it means to face mortality, to think about being afraid to die. I reassured her. We read “The Hero’s Journey” by Joseph Campbell together and picked out where she was on the journey. She had accepted the call, she was in the dark night of the soul, she would reach transformation. She would use everything she’d learned for good and to make a difference. She got a double mastectomy in January. The end was in sight. She’d do a few rounds of radiation, go back to work, and put this horrible nightmare behind her. They scanned her breasts and saw no evidence of disease. We celebrated. She was worn out.

But, two weeks after her surgery, she just wasn’t recovering. She was exhausted and having debilitating headaches. They told her to come in to do a brain MRI, just in case. A few hours later, she called me. I was in a meeting with a potential investor for The Hivery…it felt like an important meeting until the phone rang. It’s amazing how life screeches to a halt when you get that call. “It’s in my brain.” she shrieked. “The cancer is in my brain!". I got on a plane to LA a few hours later. I laid with her in the hospital bed. “They told me that I’m going to die.” she cried. It couldn’t be true, it couldn’t be true. But, there it was. The truth.

I started to bargain in that unreasonable and unuseful way we do when we are desperate. “You can have my business. I will give up my house. I will do anything. I will start all over. But, please don’t take my sister. Please don’t take her from me.”…I’m not sure who in those situations we think will hold our business or our house as collateral, but we negotiate with the voices in our heads, nonetheless. We plead to the universe, to anyone, and to no one. We beg for the world not to be so brutal. Please no suffering, please no pain. Please don’t take my sister.

I tried to be strong for her. And sometimes I wasn’t. Sometimes, I was just her sister. And she felt for me, too. She asked me about our other sisters, “Grace, what will Abby do if I die? What will Emily do? What are you going to do?”…I told her that I didn’t know. I didn’t know what to do without her. I didn’t know how to raise my kids without her. I didn’t know how to have confidence without her. I didn’t know how to be inspired without her. I worried that I would lose my light, my soul, the flow of inspiration forever. That I would be sad for the rest of my life.

So, I stuck to her like glue. And, it was hard. I spent most of February and March in LA with her. She had brain surgery and a port put in her brain so they could inject chemo directly into her brain. We thought, “We can buy some time, and then we can beat this". She would be terrified one moment, and calmly tell me the next that THIS was not going to take her down, that she was not done. We got a second opinion at UCSF, and they gave us some hope. They would try other things.

“She’s young, and aggressive cancer needs aggressive treatment.” they told us. We drove her to SF in mid-March and she moved in with me. I was so happy to have her in my home. I wanted to take care of my little sister. My kids and husband were in it with me. We shifted from our family life to a life centered around focusing on hope and miracles. I have an amazing team at The Hivery that picked up the slack at work and allowed me to focus completely on her. The community rallied around her. The love notes started pouring in. We were all in with Maggie.

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We were determined to heal and created our days around the objective of thriving. Maggie and I created some beloved routines that I will treasure forever. We touched a redwood tree everyday. She wrote about self-love everyday. She taught me how to like green tea…she began her day each morning with our wonderful friend and meditation teacher, Rachel Rossitto. We lovingly nicknamed her “moonbeam” for the way she floated into our home each morning to sit with Maggie, sing, guide, drink tea, and meditate together. She saw my dear friend, Malcolm Campbell, a spiritual therapist. She was willing to go deep in body, mind and spirit to beat this. And, I was determinedly by her side. We drove to full brain radiation together every day for weeks. We decided we were the only weirdos who could enjoy the car ride to radiation as much as we did. We talked about the future. She got her appetite back. We rewarded ourselves with great meals, worthy of her foodie/chef palate. Our baby niece, Cici, was born. We flew to Minneapolis for her baptism as Maggie was the godmother.

Just before our trip, she had begun complaining about a back ache. The pain got worse. And worse. And worse. When we got home, they MRI’ed her spine. The cancer had spread again. This time to her spine. We held each other up in the hallway of the hospital when she got the news.

Her legs gave as she gasped, “Grace, I’m so afraid.”
“Me, too, sister.” I said. We hung on to each other; we stared at each other. The sounds of the city went silent. When we got in the elevator, we saw regular humans, who weren’t dying. They seemed like another world.

We shuffled out. We went home. The pain got worse and worse and worse.

We went to the hospital. They told us she was not going to be long. The moment that she passed in my arms, her spirit floated up and away from her physical body. I learned everything in that moment; I felt the closeness of the other side and went with her as far as I could. She was beautiful. I believe that she took her last breath, as if to say, “I’m ready."

The night before my sister’s funeral, I thought I might need to go to the hospital due to a piercing pain in my sternum. It didn’t feel like chest pains, but felt serious enough that I called a friend who is a Chinese medicine doctor. She explained that when loss is so great, it creates a loss of breath and that the breath can stay in the chest cavity and create tightness. She explained further and then said, “Grace, what is happening to you is that you are heartbroken. You are not having a heart attack. You are in the depth of the human experience and your body knows that this is the precipice of love and agony.”…Nothing ever felt so true.

I don’t pretend to have wise words of wisdom on the path of grieving. I have experience with loss but we are always beginners again and again when it comes to heartbreak. I know that I will go on, even when I don’t want to. I know that so many dear friends, family, and those before me have experienced the depth of loss. I watch them with deep respect; I feel the weight of their hearts. And I will live and survive, and feel joy again. I will create beauty and admire it, too. This level of sadness is not forever, but the agony is deep. And the questions are intense. “Why do I get to enjoy this sunset? Why am I the fortunate being that gets to be here?”…

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A few weeks ago, I was driving on the freeway and I admittedly cut someone off. I was distracted, likely crying, and pulled a lame lane-change maneuver. The driver laid on the horn. Many, many times. She was enraged. She flipped me off first with her left hand, then her right, then with both. My first thought? “Hmm, maybe her sister died, too.” Things had started to shift. My broken heart was softening. There would be light in the cracks.  

When I lost my mom seven years ago, the grief was intense. There was a moment crying on my living room floor when I searched and searched in floods of tears for who I could be and for what to do with the intensity of the loss I felt in my heart. I had to make something. I was certain. And from that, I made a Hivery. From this loss of my dear sister, I can’t see what might come out. But, the seeking and the willingness to let it out are what my sister wanted; and, I know deep in my heart it is the only way that I can survive.

So, now what? Where to go from here? How to rebuild or transform a soul that feels hurt, broken and tender. There is a pressure in the opening as if there is a new call to be. There is a searching and a gap, a distance between where I am and what I yearn for. And I’ve noticed that amidst the darkness, the cracks of light are starting to come back. I’m starting to hope again, to plan, to create, to think about ways to improve, and ways to go deeper.

As it relates to The Hivery I have, through this experience, been changed forever. And The Hivery is not “just” a business any longer. It’s not about where the next Hivery locations will be, although it is our intention to spread The Hivery love far and wide. It’s not even “just” a women’s co-working space. It’s a tangible, artistic expression of the human experience, specifically a community who is willing to boldly live at the epicenter. To use our talent, love, pain, and vulnerability for the service of others and for the depth of being the fullest humans we can be.

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At a time of agony for so many, children separated from families, people suffering unimaginable anguish, it has never been more important to live at the greatest level of our own potential, in order to make the most meaningful contribution we can. To soar with authenticity, love, and beauty, to dig deep in order to be fully alive. To stand with the wisdom of experience through the pain, the suffering, the anger, the fury, the hardship. To speak with bold voices, answer the calls, honor the opening of the heart. To know that you’ve felt the deepest love and the depth of sorrow, and yet, to know you must go on. To make something that helps people make an impact, make their contribution, do something that matters. And it all matters. That’s what I’m learning. I’m learning, each day with the help of my sweet sister Maggie’s voice in my ear… the crux, the depth, the gravity, the love, of what it means to be a woman.

xo,

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p.s. Many of you so kindly expressed interest in coming to Maggie’s memorial service and I know it wasn’t possible for all. I’ve attached a video of the eulogy that I was so honored to give for my sister. I hope it helps you know her a little better. There was no one like our dear Maggie.

Grace's Corner: Renewal, Transformation and the Start of 2018

Happy New Year, Hivery Community! We kicked off 2018 with the January 8th Hivery Circle, which brought together several incredible women to share on the topic of renewal. For this month’s blog, I’d like to share a few of my words from that night on this very important topic. Wishing you all kindness, creativity, and community this year and always.

At the start of every year, those who are curious, energized, and thoughtful look both introspectively and outside for what the New Year brings. For many of us, these new beginnings bring with them a sense of RENEWAL.

Definition of RENEW: to make (something) new, fresh, or strong again. : to make (a promise, vow, etc.) again. : to begin again especially with more energy or enthusiasm.

And yet, to renew, to begin again, to continue to evolve—it isn’t always the easiest path, is it? Complacency seems easier and at first less painful, but it can also be the root of agony. Stagnation causes heartbreak. It’s the desire to be our fullest selves that draws us into the topic of renewal.

Through years of talking with and coaching women looking to create change in their lives (at the start of the year, or otherwise),  I’ve been in the very lucky position of getting to observe traits that lead to lasting change.

Here are five truths I’ve learned about transformation:

#1. Change often starts in the muck, the mess, the heartbreak. The energy to create change comes from a dissatisfaction with the status quo. Some of the greatest transformation that I’ve seen from women at The Hivery began with being in a puddle on the floor. In which case, I’ve been known to say, “I know this is agony right now. And the timing might seem terrible for me to be saying this to you. But, I’m excited for you...you have to be broken open and deeply vulnerable in order to get to the center of your own soul.”

Nobody wants to do it—not real change, not soul change, not the painful molecular change required to truly become who you need to be. Nobody ever does real transformation for fun. Nobody ever does it on a dare. You do it only when your back is so far against the wall that you have no choice anymore.
— Elizabeth Gilbert

#2. We often refuse transformation or renewal due to insecurity and fear. (i.e. We have the power to make our own transformation a negative, and conversely we have the power to work through that refusal.) Throughout various stages of transformation, it’s often us who create the barriers to change. Barriers like, “I’m too old. I won’t make enough money. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t have enough time. I have too many other responsibilities.” These are all great ways to get in our own way. That internal mind chatter can be our most powerful and listened-to voice.

Successful transformation occurs—not when we rid ourselves of that voice (as that is most often not realistic)—but when we learn to recognize the voice for what it is (fear) and develop the emotional fitness to keep moving forward anyway.

#3. Transformation comes from a willingness to do the work. As Joseph Campbell used to say, “Dragons have to be slain again and again.” I spent years as a ballet dancer, and trained intensively for almost 20 years. I learned early on that I could want to be a “good” ballet dancer all day long, and I could read books about it, and fantasize about being onstage, and talk about it with anyone who would listen. But, the reality was that the only way to be a good ballet dancer was to show up, take class, and dance, even (or especially) when I didn’t feel like it.

I wish there was another way. But, transformation requires work. And, not just “sometimes” work, but consistent work. Work doesn’t have to look like sweat. It can look like commitment to self, creative ritual, or morning meditation. But, the commitment piece is non-negotiable. You get what you pay for in the transformation department, and showing up is the most important part.

#4. Real change occurs when we become willing to not know the outcome. If you’re looking for a clear, chartered path where everything is proven and knowable, you will wait your whole life to step into yourself. The beauty of living fully is that you trust your intuition enough to live bravely. Transformation often feels like being on the edge of a cliff, looking out at a dark abyss with only the light of some twinkling stars to tantalize you forward. You don’t want to turn around and retreat, even though it would be safer and more familiar territory. But, launching into the unknown is scary, too.

True transformation comes when you are willing to let go of what is comfortable and known in order to step into the next chapter. Not knowing the outcome and trusting anyway is the creative process, and lasting change cannot be made without acceptance of the mystery of what is ahead.

#5. Transformation is often not an explosion. Real transformation is a soft opening of the heart and the head that begins and ends with self-love. Transformation won’t strike you on a Tuesday and hold you in its’ grip for all the days of your life. Transformation is a process that washes through you, creating introspection, exploration, forgiveness, compassion, delight, and ultimately self-love.

I’ll leave you with a story that showed me the way to realizing the importance of self-love these past few years. It was a gift to me through a series of dreams that were initially perplexing, and then eventually provided some much-needed guidance.

My mom passed away nearly seven years ago. For a couple years after she died, I felt like I’d lost her completely. She hadn’t visited me in a dream, I couldn’t conjure her face up over the oceans, I couldn’t feel her presence...or so I thought...and I craved that connection. I was envious when people talked about being “visited” by a loved one who had passed; that seemed like an impossibility for me.

But, simultaneously, and for years, I’d be woken up from a dream with a voice saying, “I love you. I love you. I love you.”... and for years it would startle me awake. Until one morning around 3 am, when I heard it again and again inside my own head. I thought I was going crazy. I could “feel” my mother’s presence, but was confused because it wasn’t her voice. Who was it? Repeating those words again and again? As I listened deeply, half-asleep, half-trying to figure this out, it was my voice. It was my sub-conscience reassuring me. I’ve always felt that it was the spirit of my mom who told me what I most needed to know. That it was not her love that I needed the most, it was my own.

Love of any variety is a dichotomy of beauty and agony...self-love is no different. It can be painful and might feel like it needs to be shoved away, due to the ego or our fear of being self-absorbed, or our fear of not being enough for the only “you” you have. But, the ability to love ourselves is the single most impactful ingredient to the transformation of who you really are. Without it, you are simply an observer on the ride and revelation of your truest self.

The desire to make personal, impactful change in one’s life is not enough on its’ own. With the exploration and commitment of these five truths, the adventure, joy, and magic of creating transformative change can become something that inspires and fuels you, long after the New Year’s excitement and resolutions have faded. Enjoy the bold and beautiful (albeit sometimes bumpy) journey of becoming who you really are.

One life on this earth is all that we get, whether it is enough or not enough, and the obvious conclusion would seem to be that at the very least we are fools if we do not live it as fully and bravely and beautifully as we can.
— Frederick Buechner

Another Look at The Hivery Circle:
Renewal for Mind, Body, and Spirit

photography thanks to Kim Thompson Steel

"Back stage" huddle.

"Back stage" huddle.

Thank you to our amazing panel for sharing their inspirational stories.

Thank you to our amazing panel for sharing their inspirational stories.

Daniela Kratz from  Farmhouse Lab.

Daniela Kratz from Farmhouse Lab.

Our beloved community of members and guests.

Our beloved community of members and guests.

Sophie James Wine  (Sophie & James pictured here!).

Sophie James Wine (Sophie & James pictured here!).

The kind and wonderful women representing our incredible sponsor,  SkinSpirit .

The kind and wonderful women representing our incredible sponsor, SkinSpirit.

 

 

 

 

Grace’s Corner: My Journey to Reimagining Goal-Setting

I had an eye-opening experience this year around late October. I found an old notebook where I'd written out my New Year's resolutions for 2017. As I stared at the list with only a couple months left to go in the year, the words seemed to jump out at me.

I hadn’t accomplished a single goal.

I hadn't written a book, hadn't opened our second Hivery, and hadn't turned one of my workshops into an online course. 

"What a loser," my fear-brain piped in. I spent a good ten minutes being hard on myself. "You lost your focus." ... "You busied yourself with the wrong things." ... "What's wrong with you?"

Wow. That's the kind of self-talk that I would never allow at The Hivery. And here I was, engaged in a lively verbal shake-down in my own head. 

With some quiet time and my favorite "hike it off" strategy, I was able to get re-centered on where those original goals came from, why they mattered to me, and what NOT accomplishing them this year taught me. With further introspection and review, I "remembered" that 2017 has been an unbelievable year, filled with growth, learning, expansion, incredible friendships, countless victory bell moments with our members, and most importantly, love, family and joy.

I came back to my list a week later with fresh eyes and the knowledge that 2017 taught me a lot. Among the many lessons: in order to do anything new, I must go through the motions of exploring it, feeling it, and trying it on. That exploration time is part of my creative process and is not only time well-spent, but it is required for me to understand how important a goal is to me. I also learned that it is perfectly fine to walk away from a so-called goal, or answer the goal with “not now" if it doesn’t actually serve me, or just doesn’t feel right. 

I started thinking: what if I could reflect back on the past year and think about the things I did do rather than the things I didn’t do? What if I could look at the learnings I gained from moments when I had to change direction? Moments when things didn’t go according to plan?

I found myself humming along to the beloved musical, Hamilton, where the strong, impeccably smart character Angelica, sings, "You want a revolution? I want a revelation,” but I was singing, “You want a RESOLUTION? I want a REVELATION.” 

I realized that I, like Angelica, want something a little different. I don’t want to be bound by a holiday-based goal. I want to live, learn, change course, and create something. More than anything, I want to feel alive. That doesn’t always tie back to a goal I made in late December. That’s something I carry inside all year long. This change in thought did wonders for my disposition and has completely altered the way I look at goal-setting, especially as it relates to the proverbial New Year’s resolutions.

I would love to bust the perfection myth around this beginning-of-each-year tradition. New Year’s resolutions can disconnect us from the centeredness of actually being on the right track in order to somehow redirect us to thinking that something distant from us is really what we want. What’s more, that that distant thing is only attainable if we force ourselves into it at the outset of every New Year.

So how do we look at New Years’ goals with renewed perspective?

photo by Kim Thompson Steel

Here are a few ideas...

Get clear on your ‘why.’ Take a moment to think about the deeper reasons behind your goal. For me to do this, I have to get very quiet with myself. Only then can I assess my truth of either aiming for what I call a “should" goal vs. a goal that is inspiring and meaningful to me deep down.

Create a support structure. For the record, I’m not a goal-hater…and tbh (as my teenager says for "to be honest"), I’ll probably make some New Year’s resolutions again this year. I think goals can be good things, but in order to serve us, each one needs to have a support structure around it.

 

If your goal is to write a book, the first question is why? Why now? What story do you need to tell? Then, think about timing. When will you start outlining chapters? Will you start by trying to write for 10 minutes every day for two weeks? Would it be helpful if you joined a writers’ group, or even came to The Hivery every Tuesday and designated that your writing day? When you aren’t feeling your best, whom will you call to help prop you up and give you words of encouragement? Having an accountability buddy or mentor to coach you through the inevitable dips really works, especially for big, long-term goals. 

The need for support structure applies to all goals, from losing weight to spending time outdoors to travel. What support can you put around your objectives to help you along?

Prioritize the way you want to feel in the New Year.  Back in late November, I had the great fortune of attending Hivery member Megan Flatt’s Post-It Note Happy Hour in our Creative Studio. I love Megan’s insights as a coach and was really taken by her first question to the class. Instead of asking what our goals were, she asked how we wanted to feel.

We all wrote down the first things that came to us and it was incredible what my co-participants expressed. I want to feel expansive. I want to feel relaxed. I want to feel open.

My desired feeling? To live at the epicenter of my creativity.

I stared at my post-It and thought: wait! I do feel that way! Who cares if I didn’t achieve my New Year’s goals? I do feel like I’m living at the epicenter of my creativity every day. Realizing that was an incredible feeling. I had achieved my goal, albeit a different and more important one than I had written down as my resolution for the year.

Think about what you did do vs. what you didn’t do. To reiterate something I said earlier when I let you into the self-talk in my head, I think it can be easy for us to focus on our failures rather than on our successes. I’m willing to bet you scaled many mountains this year, even if they didn’t match your goal list. For this upcoming year, focus on how you want to feel, stay away from “should” goals, and create a structure for support (that’s what The Hivery is for!).

As always, you’ve got this.  

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Grace's Corner: Redefining Balance

I’m convinced that my most valuable life lessons have been learned in dance class. My last dance class was no exception, and gave me a new perspective on the way we look at creating balance in life. 

It was a sunny Saturday morning at my favorite, local ballet class. The room was filled with dancers across all different levels; some ex-professional dancers, some long-time dance enthusiasts, all of us just happy to be there, spending a morning moving our bodies. We’re a cheerful bunch that have been taking this Saturday morning class for years. Halfway through our barre exercises, we were doing rond du jambes (a circular motion of the leg), and ending the exercise with a balance in passe (a balance on one leg). Ending in a balance at the barre allows the dancer to find their center, taking the hand off the barre, often raising the arms overhead, and balancing in releve on the ball of the foot.

As I began my balance, my mind went through the mental checklist that I’ve been practicing for a lifetime: ground the energy of the ball of the foot down into the floor, pull up in the hip, connect the lowest abdominal muscle to the spine, pull up through the stomach, let the ribs fall down, sternum up, chin up, shoulders down, arms elongated, fingers relaxed, oh, and breathe. Lengthen, lengthen, lengthen, get higher, taller, listen to the music, and put the foot down and soutenau  (turn around). The interesting thing about balance in dance is that sometimes it works beautifully, and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s as much emotional and mental as it is physical. You learn after a lifetime of dancing that some days are just better than others in the balance department. As we finished the balance exercise, our beloved teacher, Melinda, commented, “I love the stillness of balance. It’s so quiet."

And it struck me. In ballet, balance is still. It has an energy and the motion is flowing through the body, but in balance, you are doing one pose and you are staying there. You’re not rock hard or rigid in the balance, as that would create a “timber” effect. But, you are staying in one position and staying present in that single pose.

In life however, when we talk about balance, especially for women, we are talking about a balancing act of doing many, many things, often at the same time. Be successful, be smart, work hard, make money, be a great mom, be sexy, stay in shape, be a good friend, be spiritual, be beautiful, be creative, practice self-care. Don’t do too much of one thing and neglect the others. In this definition of balance, the dancer of life can feel like she’s juggling many balls in the name of balance.

photo by Weiferd Watts

photo by Weiferd Watts

See? I’ve got this balance thing down….juggle, toss, juggle, toss….I’ve totally got this. I can do it all. I won’t miss a beat. I won’t gain a pound. I’ve got my sunscreen on. My kid’s in advanced math. My business is profitable. My bed is made. I helped with the science project. I coordinated the carpool. I hired my first employee. I’ve got it. I’ve got it. Juggle. Toss. Meditate. Exercise. Juggle. Toss. Volunteer. Juggle. Toss. Shit. I dropped a ball. Damn, they’re all dropping. God damn it. There are balls everywhere…where am I going to put all these damn balls? Can’t anyone hold one just one f-n ball for me? I can’t do this. I’m not doing anything well. Aaaaargh.

 

Been there? Yeah, me too.

So, when I thought about what it means to balance in dance class, I wanted to apply that definition of balance to my life. Be still. Focus on this moment. Do this one thing. Check in with your whole body. Breathe, relax, lift up, higher, higher, elevate, and then put your foot down, and try it again. This time from the other side. Accept that some days my balance is better than others. Sometimes one leg is stronger than the other. And, you start to notice some patterns. It always works better when you breathe. Having a soft focus seems to help. Grounding down and elevating up at the same time creates an energy. Connect with your center. Wait, these sound like good rules for life.

So, my amazing community. Let’s redefine balance and live balance through the metaphorical dance lens. Stay grounded, yet elevated. Find your center. Breathe. And, remember that some days, it’s easier to balance than others. Come back to the barre, find your balance, and begin again. This time on the other side. You’ve got this.  

Grace's Corner: Making an Impact

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This month's theme at The Hivery is Making an Impact. We've explored how to do that at the business level through social responsibility strategies, at the local level at a nearby school's garden cleanup, and at a community level through our We Rise Scholarship program. 

Often, the question isn't "Do I want to make an impact?," but rather, "How do I make the best impact I can with the tools and resources I've been given?"

From the work that I've done with women at The Hivery and from my very fortunate position of getting to be part of many women's next chapters, I've learned that finding your unique contribution to this world often starts with sharing your story. We have the capacity to serve others and make a massive impact when we are willing to share ourselves. From there, we can approach our service to others with open hearts and our truest voice. Below is a step that I took a few years ago to step out.


I often talk at The Hivery about what it means to put yourself out there and the power of telling your story. By making a practice of using our voices and taking creative risks, we expand what is possible, not just in ourselves, but in the impact we can have on others. Today, I wanted to share a story of taking a personal risk in order to open up my mind, heart, and practice so that I could encourage other women to do the same.

My legs shook uncontrollably on a foggy day in early 2014 as I walked into the basement of the Mill Valley Public Library. I took a deep breath and opened the door to a panel of five adults who were minutes away from judging me as I auditioned for Listen To Your Mother, a nationwide storytelling series, with a live performance at the Brava Theater in the Mission District in San Francisco.

It had been a long time since I'd auditioned for anything. The nerves, self-doubt, and slightly sick stomach of my previous life as a dancer, flooded back. I suddenly remembered the reason that I often hated auditions. The vulnerability, the risk of rejection, the fear of humiliation. Giving yourself completely to your craft, and then holding your breath while another person judges you, is not for the faint of heart. 

But there I was. This time using a story that I had written about my mother as my medium, instead of my dancing feet. This was perhaps my most personal story, a story some friends didn’t even know. I decided to listen to that voice and began. I was nervous, but determined to stretch my own boundaries. When I began telling my story, my voice shook, but as the story continued, I felt in my gut, that I was meant to share my experience. The audition went so well that I was selected to open the show a few months later in San Francisco.

The night of the event I couldn’t have been more nervous. Who was I to tell my story to an audience of 300 strangers? And, would anyone care to hear it? But as I stepped on stage, something happened, something physiological. I shakily brought the microphone to my mouth and instead of a high, fluttery voice, I heard a lower, more solid, tone come out. I spoke from a place deep within my belly. It was at that moment that I realized that it was there where my truth lived all along.

The story went great and the audience receptive and warm (read to the end of this post to watch my talk!), but I learned so much more from the experience than I ever could have anticipated.

I learned that I wanted to speak like this, live like this, for the rest of my life.

TRUTH AS IMPACT
I launched The Hivery a few months later and since then have called upon that deep place inside myself more times than I can count, especially when telling a story about fear or vulnerability. Every time I’ve spoken the truth about being scared, about having no idea what I’m doing (I still feel that way on a weekly basis!), about feeling in-over-my-head, I hear “me toos” from countless women.

I’ve learned that using our voices can be one of the most authentic ways to make an impact. That courage is contagious and can have ripple effects on humanity. I’ve learned that our deepest impact is our personal impact that can then be unleashed in service, and being honest, open and vulnerable is one of the most effective ways to not only set us free but to set those around us free, too.

HOW TO MAKE AN IMPACT TODAY
Just in case you’re wondering how you can make an impact—be it by getting on stage, starting a new project, helping a neighbor, or the like, here are my three biggest pieces of advice.

Share it. Have an idea? Share it with five people in one week and watch the ripple effect. I’m willing to bet that one of those people will say something that spurs on a second action, then a third, then a fourth, and so on.

Believe in the power of small actions. I believe small actions lead to big actions. Challenge yourself to do one action every day, even if that action is writing a paragraph in your journal about what you want to do or believe in. No action is too small.

Let your impact permeate your life. If you have an interest in making an impact in one area, start approaching other aspects of your life with the same thoughtfulness. When I wanted to make an impact with women and work, I knew I’d needed to show up with compassion, listen and make space. I quickly learned that I operate best when I approach my friends and family in the same way.

Bottom line: There are so many ways to make an impact. Spreading your truth, speaking your mind, being vulnerable—those are amazing ways to help yourself and those around you. I believe that every hour you have the opportunity to be of service to another human being. You don’t have to wait to be an executive director of a non-profit. You can make an impact right now, as you are reading this—in this moment!

Thank you for reading my very first post in a series called “Grace’s Corner!” In this monthly series we will explore our monthly theme at The Hivery, and my thoughts and advice around it.
If you would like to see my Listen To Your Mother performance, click the image below.