Feb 2nd : Mom’s 100 day anniversary
Nothing will snap things into perspective like the prospect of losing someone you love. In October 2011, my mom had a bone marrow transplant. The doctors gave her a 60% chance of living; her odds were OK. It was a scary and confusing time for my family.
It had been a dream of mine for years to be able to visit my family more often, and a few years prior, I had restructured my business to allow me to travel. So, I packed my bags, sublet my apartment and moved to a small apartment we rented in Vancouver, so I could be with my mom throughout her transplant. We were waiting with bated breath for Day 100 — the day we knew she’d made it.
Here’s my mama on the day of her transplant, crown atop her head and overflowing with optimism. My hero.
LESSON #1 : There’s nothing more important than relationships.
Nothing. Not your business, not your stuff, not your goals. Do not wait to design (or redesign) your business and life to provide space for your relationships (including your relationship with yourself). Do it now. When you’re struggling with your work, you can turn to your people; when you’re struggling in relationships, you can’t turn to your work — I learned this lesson the hard way: divorce. Nurture your relationships and spend time with the people you love. Our lives are precious and finite…
Feb 5th : He surprised me from Brasil
My man birthed the biggest project of his life this year, so we spent a lot of time apart. In mid-January, he decided to go to Brasil for a few weeks with his best friend, “to write and workout”. As much as we missed each other, the time apart gave us both space to work on our own projects.
One morning, he sent me a message on Skype: “Want to chat for a minute? My internet is bad, so we’ll have to chat without video”. We talked for a few minutes and he asked me what I was up to that day. Then, we agreed to talk in a week or so, and said goodbye. I headed off to brunch with my friends Kavita and Kristen.
In the middle of brunch, all-of-a-sudden my girls looked excitedly at the door. I turned around and there he was! My brain was totally scrambled; I actually looked away for a minute. “He was in Brasil 2 hours ago! Am I imagining him?! What is going on?”. I looked back. It was him. This is a pic of the beautiful hotel room he got us in NYC for the weekend.
LESSON #2 : Romance is very much alive.
When I met him, I knew what I wanted: to feel wildly in love; to feel safe and secure; to feel challenged and inspired; romance. One part of manifesting what you want is to have a clear vision of it – a “full-bodied memory of the future”, as I call it. I believed in romance because I felt it in my future. I conjured him. What do you want to conjure? Dream in technicolor.
Mar 20th : Swimming with dolphins
You know when you have a crush on someone and everything becomes a “sign” that you’re meant to be? Well, sometimes the same holds true for friend crushes. In 2010 and 2011, I had an internet crush on Danielle LaPorte (She’s a Gemini? I’m a Gemini! She’s Canadian? So am I! She’s from Vancouver? I lived there! We’re soul sisters!). I read her blog devotedly, and nodded enthusiastically.
When I had the opportunity to meet her in 2011, I was super excited (internet crushes are real, people). I had hopes of her becoming my mentor. My friend, Michael Ellsberg, who was hosting the party where I’d meet her, reminded me to just “be you and be helpful”. Oh, yeah. Exhale.
When we met, she mentioned something she was currently working on. Later that evening, I sent her an email with some ideas. I forgot all about the mentor-thing, and was just thrilled to be helping out someone who had already helped me so much (through her blog), even if she didn’t know it. It felt so good to give without remotely expecting anything in return. It wasn’t strategic, it was kind.
A few months later, this photo was taken in Hawaii, when Danielle invited me to join her family, Kate Northrup and her man, Danielle Vieth and others on a trip to swim with dolphins. On that trip, I had one of the peak spiritual experiences of my life, swimming in tandem with a single wild dolphin for nearly a minute.
LESSON #3 : Kindness rules.
What if, instead of obsessing over how to “strategically network” (get), we just decided to be ourselves and be helpful (give), with no expectations of receiving anything in return? Goodness happens, or at the very least, good feelings happen. Win-win. If you feel sleazy in your networking, marketing or dating, you’re probably being sleazy. Just give.
Mar 29th : My assistant’s first trip to NYC
In 2012, I ran my second 9-month mastermind, and finally got my team in place. For the first retreat of my mastermind, I flew my assistant in from Indiana. It was her first trip to NYC!
When I was starting out as an entrepreneur, I was sure that my favorite accomplishments would be related to clients’ big “wins”, leading epic retreats, getting location freedom, getting to 6-figures, and so on. All of those experiences have absolutely been incredible for me, but what I didn’t expect is how amazing it would be to have a team.
It is an unbelievable feeling to have people who believe in your mission so much that they want to spend their days supporting it. It feels amazing to have a team of people taking care of your clients. And it felt so good to bring Danielle on her first trip to New York City (and later in the year, San Francisco!). To date, it’s still one of my favorite entrepreneurial accomplishments.
Here’s Lindsay, my Event Doula (left) cooking dinner in my home on Danielle’s (right) first night here. We were prepping for the big event the following day. We had a blast.
LESSON #4 : Creating jobs is life-changing (for you and them).
I had never considered how awesome it is to be a creator of jobs. Statistically, most people can’t stand their job, so to create a job for another person that helps them do something that comes naturally to them, have a great lifestyle and contribute to a cause they believe in is…well…it makes me tear up to talk about it. If you don’t have a team, consider the incredible impact that having a team will make on them and you, too.
Apr 7th : Dinner in Japan with 3 Geisha
Japan is magical. It is at once ancient and super modern. The people we met were warm and kind, their attention to detail is unmatched, and the food was un-freaking-believable. The 99 cent snacks at 7-11 are better than American fast food. [No joke: you can buy salmon and rice wrapped in nori for a buck at 7-11]
One of the highlights of the trip was a private dinner for four, attended to by 3 Geisha (technically Geiko, as we were in Kyoto). It was a once in a lifetime experience, for sure (made even more clear by the surprising number of zeros on our check). When you have an experience like this, you don’t forget it. Ever.
Here is a photo of me and my friend, Darya Pino, with one of the Geiko who served us. To sit with them for hours, watching their beautiful performances, asking them about their lives and sharing about ours (translated by my Japanese-speaking boyfriend), was a brief but memorable experience of total cultural immersion. I’ve since asked myself the same question every morning, “What would make this day memorable?”. I want more memorable days this coming year.
LESSON #5 : Travel makes life memorable.
99% of the women I speak with, when asked what they want more of in the future, say “travel”. For years, I wanted to travel more, and would say things like “someday I’ll go to Japan”, “I’ve always wanted to go to Iceland”, and “I wish I could go to India”. Then, one day I decided that “someday” had arrived. I was creative and resourceful; I could figure it out. If you want more memorable days this coming year, travel. You’re creative and resourceful; you can figure it out. Put it in your calendar now.
May 31st : We threw a birthday party in SF
When planning my year, I decided to schedule my mastermind retreat in San Francisco on the weekend after my birthday, and I wanted to throw a really fun party with my clients and my friends in a swanky SF hotel room.
My Event Doula, Lindsay’s, birthday is the day after mine. We decided to make this party happen.
About 40 people showed up from all different areas of our lives: clients, colleagues, lovers, old friends and new friends. Pictured here, a few of the sweet sister-friends I’m in a mastermind with (from left): Wendy Yalom, Stacey Morgenstern and LiYana Silver. It was an absolute blast. As Lindsay, Danielle and I said goodbye to our last guest, we had our own mini dance party, jumped on the beds, then got a good, long beauty sleep before the retreat started the following afternoon.
LESSON #6 : Business is personal.
We’ve all heard the sayings “Business and friendship don’t mix”, “Never mix business with pleasure” and “Business isn’t personal”. I call bullshit. I consider my clients and colleagues my friends; my best experiences in business have been totally pleasurable (I actually use pleasure as my barometer of what actions to take in business) and as far as I’m concerned, good business is totally personal. If you’re in business to create more freedom in the world and enjoy more freedom in your life, I hope you’re having fun. You are, right?
June 8th : Secret trip to a secret mountain
After my SF retreat and birthday party, my man took me away for a surprise weekend. He kept telling me not to think of it as a romantic getaway, but he’s super romantic (see above). Anyways, I didn’t know where we were going until we got to our gate at the airport. “Utah?!” Off we went. We landed in Utah, got in our rental car, and took the gorgeous drive to Powder Mountain. It was beyond breathtaking. We drove up to a giant home and I finally asked, “Babes, what are we doing?” As it turns out, he wasn’t lying – this was not a romantic getaway. We spent the weekend with 100+ new friends at an event hosted by the good people at Summit Series. The video says it all, but it was one of the most memorable weekends of my year. The highlight? A private party at midnight, DJ’d by none other than Paul Oakenfold. Epic indeed.
We talked by the fire, floated in the lake, partied until the early morning and made business connections that will positively impact thousands (millions?) of lives.
LESSON #7 : Keep innovating.
This event proved to me that as long as we have innovative people with big hearts, we have every reason to be optimistic. Too often, we allow the status quo to endure, even when it’s not giving us the results we want. We spend too many days in “comfortable” but stagnant silence beside our partner on the couch, watching TV rather than talking. We build a business model that works at the outset, and stop looking to improve it. Life demands innovation. Are you innovating?
July 12th : Weekend at Dr. Weil’s house
Without a doubt, this was a pinch-me moment. I had first seen Dr. Weil speak while studying at Integrative Nutrition in 2007. At the time, I sat in an auditorium of 1200 people watching these brilliant experts drop knowledge on us. It was a blessing to be in the same room as them and learn from their years of experience, wisdom and dedication.
Dr. Weil was one of the speakers that had a huge impact on me. There was something about his peaceful nature, his ease on stage, and his thorough knowledge on the mind-body connection. I hoped that one day, I could impact people the way he was impacting me.
Pictured here, he leads us through Hollyhock‘s garden on Cortes Island, Canada, on a trip to spend a weekend with him at his home. For the record, he totally lives his teachings. I’m a bigger fan now than I was 5 years ago.
LESSON #8 : Sometimes things come full-circle.
Life is going to bring each of us a zillion unexpected experiences. It’s just fun to consider that there is a whole mysterious life stretched out ahead of us, and when I think about that, I remember that I’m on a great adventure. Life is less serious and stressful and more exciting. Oh, the places you’ll go.
July 29th : Taking the stage with my message
This year, I decided to take on public speaking by putting my money where my mouth is. I worked with my dear friend KC Baker to craft my “epic talk”, as she calls it. It was an intense process of stripping away all of the extra words and stories to get to the core, and I came to realize how critical it is to have a clear message. It wasn’t until after I delivered my talk that I realized how painful it had been to have unclear language. When your message “clicks”, it’s an amazing feeling.
Taking the stage as the final speaker of the evening, I felt totally alive. My message was so embodied, that I felt like I was “channeling” it. Walking through the balmy NYC streets that night, I felt in complete union with my purpose on the planet. Speaking my truth was truly potent. TED, I’m ready for you!
LESSON #9 : Pay attention to your message.
In my experience and for the women I work with, until your message is clear, it’ll hold you back. The Dalai Lama once said “the world will be saved by the western woman”. For us to get our messages out there, they must be clear and compelling. Confidence is not something we can find before doing something; it shows up on the other side of accomplishment. If you have “mushy” language or an unclear core message, don’t wait to get clarity. Do it for the world and for you.
Aug 11th : Ran a half marathon! (and cried)
Early in the year, I promised myself that I’d run a half-marathon. I registered and mapped out my training schedule. Then I procrastinated…and procrastinated. By the time the day had come, I hadn’t really trained, and I was fantasizing about manifesting a mysterious illness to get out of my commitment.
I asked myself some critical questions: How could I keep my commitment and honor my body? How could I push through the discomfort without doing harm to my body?
I wrote about the experience in this blog post. This picture was taken right as I crossed the finish line. I was overcome with an incredible sense of accomplishment and burst into tears. There’s something to be said for keeping our promises to ourselves.
LESSON #10 : There’s a feminine form of ambition.
We often don’t take risks because we don’t trust ourselves. We’re afraid that if things don’t go well, we won’t notice the signs or know what to do. I saw this often when I worked with women to gain freedom from emotional eating. My request? Savor your food. The idea of really enjoying their food was risky – they were afraid they’d never stop eating. The key was mindfulness. When we’re present, we hear our intuition speaking. Read this article to learn how to nurture your feminine ambition.
Sept 15th : Launched a program from the beach
I had the great fortune of being in Marie Forleo‘s mastermind this year, and spent a long weekend at the beach in Cancun for our final retreat.
I left San Francisco at 11pm and flew the red-eye, arriving at noon the following day. On the way there I had a creative breakthrough, and when I arrived at the hotel I went straight to my room, applied lipstick and filmed this video. Within a 2 hour window, the video was filmed and edited, the page was created and an email was sent out to promote it. That weekend, I created the framework for a program I’d wanted to create for years, and only 3 weeks after I had the initial idea, I launched The Virtual Sisterhood. 80 women took the program.
LESSON #11 : The time between decision and execution is wasted
There will be things we do that fail, but we’ll never know until we do them. Once I made the decision to create the program, I just went for it. Are there things you’ve decided to do that you haven’t started? Just begin.
Sept 23rd : Naked hiking with 15 women
After dinner one night, we were discussing the concept of going “all in” (the full story is here) and decided to embody the teaching by going on a moonlit hike…naked. You could feel the embodied experience of freedom.
Later that night, I joined my man in our room and we sat on the bed with a basket of gifts the women had given me. As I opened their gifts and read their notes of appreciation, I cried. That’s when it hit me: if I am the best in the world at something, it’s leading groups of women in experiencing freedom.
LESSON #12 : You are the best in the world at something.
Assume that you’re the best in the world at something. What might that be? Start doing more of it.
Oct 7th : My man met the family
He’d already met my mom, but was yet to meet my dad and extended family. It had been over a year; it was time. He came home with me for Canadian Thanksgiving.
Bringing him to meet my family was an emotional experience. I realized that after my divorce, I was nervous to introduce someone to my family. I was afraid they wouldn’t like him, wouldn’t welcome him, wouldn’t approve. I was so afraid what they would think that it kept me from introducing them to the man I love. The crazy part is that I have an incredibly warm and welcoming family!
The short story is, they loved him. Here he is, feeding the sheep with my mom.
LESSON #13 : Live your life your way.
A free person does the things they want to do, not from a place of rebellion or apology, but from a place of love. We act from an open heart. A free person doesn’t blame others for the decisions they make, but makes decisions for themselves. We take responsibility for having the lives we want. Where are you hiding an aspect of yourself or your life, out of fear of judgement? Trust yourself and move forward with love.
Oct 13th : I fell apart
Yes, I fell apart. After a full day coaching session with my dear friend Michael, I came to a powerful conclusion: I am it. My primary responsibility in my entire life is to take care of me. This body.
The full story is here, and was one of my most popular blog posts of all time.
I spent a lot of time alone in the month following that day, listening to my inner guidance and luxuriating in the practice of self-love: self-care. There were a lot of rituals, a lot of writing, and a lot of tea.
LESSON #14 : Self-love is your job.
If you’re not taking care of yourself, you’re not taking your work seriously enough. You are the vessel for your message, and without you, your message falls flat. It is critical that we live the way we want to give. What do you need to do to bring things into alignment?
Nov 10th : I took the stage with the “big guys”
This year, I realized that I craved closer friendships with men. I am such a woman’s woman, and have very few close male friends. One of the people who has become one of my closest friends is Michael Ellsberg. One day, we had a long phone conversation while I walked through the streets of San Francisco. At the end of the conversation, Michael said to me, “I want you to speak at my event in November”. Then, he rattled off the names of the other speakers: Ramit Sethi, Amanda Steinberg, Noah Kagan, Bryan Franklin, Yanik Silver… As he shared the other names, I felt the fear clutch my mind (“Why on earth does he want ME to speak?! These people are WAY bigger than me.”). Gripped with feelings of undeserving, I said yes.
He scheduled me to speak before Yanik Silver, a major player in the marketing world. Gulp. I was definitely nervous, but I learned something very important that day, that I will remind myself of every time I feel this same fear…
LESSON #15 : We all have something valuable to say.
If you asked me if I believed my voice was as valuable as anyone else’s, I would’ve said something like “Yes! All of our voices are valuable.” That belief wasn’t embodied, though. To understand and to know are two different things. I invite you to see yourself on stage with someone who seems way “bigger” than you, even if it scares you. The way to have the embodied belief that what you have to say is valuable, is to actually allow yourself to do it.
LESSON OF THE YEAR
There will be low moments in every year, and there will be beautiful, memorable moments, too. Ebb and flow. Trust that the lows won’t last forever and savor every morsel of the highs. Be here now.
DO THIS NOW:
Take 45 minutes and curl up with some tea or wine. Go through your calendar and write down your most memorable moments of the year and what empowering lessons you can take with you into the coming year.