it is not selfish to follow your heart.

is it selfish?

I never know exactly when it will come.

Maybe the first session. Maybe the eighth.

Perhaps spit out like a rushing river, right when we begin, or whispered hesitantly, lured out after every other, more comfortable concern has been addressed.

I know, though, that it will always come.

The question. The frenzied concern of the inner critic:

 

Isn’t it selfish to follow my heart?

 

Isn’t it horrifying that I dare to dream, when so many are ill and suffering and fighting to survive? 

I pause, because of course, this is one of my deepest fears, too. It’s one of the questions I’ve wrestled with most since becoming a life coach five years ago.

I help people make their dreams real.

People who, just like me, have many different privileges. People who are worried about exploiting those privileges to the detriment of others.

And this is my answer:

 

I believe that when we are living a life that’s aligned with our heart’s desires, we’re bringing our best possible self to the world.

 

If we try to live our lives for other people out of a sense of obligation, guilt, or duty, we’re robbing the world of our best selves.

Instead, we’re adding our resentment, anger, and discontentment to the cosmic milieu. And I don’t believe that can possibly be good for the world at large.

I believe that when we feel full to overflowing, we have more to give.

 

I believe that distancing ourselves from our hearts and shrinking down to make others larger helps no one.

 

I don’t have evidence that this is true. But I feel it. My heart says it is so.

So when my clients ask me if I think it’s selfish to follow their heart, I tell them I do not.

Not, at least, in the traditional way we think of selfishness (as bad, bad, bad). I think that it helps the world when you know yourself and know what you desire.

 

I think the world would be missing out if it didn’t get to experience you at your very most fulfilled, doing what you feel meant to do.

 

If they hadn’t followed their hearts, we wouldn’t have Mary Oliver, or bell hooks, or Mr. Rogers.

The world would’ve missed out on Laverne Cox, Dolly Parton, and Cesar Millan.

 

And I don’t want to live in a world without those people and their contributions.

 

I want to live in a world where you look within, and you listen to your heart, and you shine because of it.

And the world shimmers back at you.

. . .

Drawing from the Well

This post is part of a series on connecting with your inner wisdom, all the many ways that it shows up, and how we learn to actually use it.

On June 20th, in Seattle, Washington, my dear friend Mel Hunt and I are gathering with a group of kind and curious folks to share our most cherished practices for drawing on our inner wisdom. Join us and connect with the wisdom of your heart.

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drawing from the well: a very special seattle workshop

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There comes a time when no list of tips can right your life.

When you feel so frazzled with outside input that the radical act of drawing inward becomes inevitable.

When you have tried to live your life to please others for so many years that your sparkle seems to have faded.

 

A quiet wisdom rumble-hums deep in your belly.

 

Nudging you. Telling you,

 

You’ve known all along, darling.

The answers are within you.

Your depths are vast, unlimited.

 

On June 20th, an intimate group of kind people will gather at a cottage in Seattle.

 

There, my dear friend Mel Hunt and I will guide you into communion with your inner wisdom. (It’s in there. We promise.)

 

During this three-hour workshop, you’ll make contact with your deepest self.

 

Experience profound and healing stillness.

Laugh and share with kindred spirits.

Integrate your learnings and walk away with sustainable practices to bring you back to yourself in times of strife.

Mel and I are bubbling with excitement to share our most cherished practices with you. If this is right for you, we’d absolutely love to see you there.

 

Find all the details and register for Drawing from the Well right over here.

 

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the equation for turning strangers into best friends

the friendship equation

Until about a year ago, I didn’t know what it took to go from knowing someone to being good friends with them.

I was very lucky to have some close friends. I just wasn’t sure how it was that they became my BFFs.

 

But I also wanted more close friends, and I didn’t know how to bridge the seemingly cavernous gap between being strangers who just met and being very dear friends.

 
Until, that is, I discovered this simple equation:

 

Regular Time Together + Gradually Increased Vulnerability = Closer Friendship

 

Here’s what this equation means for you:

 

First, in order to become close friends with someone, you need to spend time with them.

 

Ideally, you’ll spend time with them on a regular basis, because regularity keeps up the momentum that accelerates a friendship’s growth.

Spending regular time with someone also causes you to like them (and causes them to like you) simply because you see them more often.

This is thanks to a psychological phenomenon called the mere exposure effect whereby we tend to prefer things (and people) we see more often.

The mere exposure effect explains, in part, why it seemed so easy to make friends when you were a kid: you saw your playmates for several hours every single day, easily fulfilling the “time together” part of the equation.

 

Second, in order to become close friends with someone, you need to gradually increase the amount of sharing you do with one another.

 

The key word here is gradually, because this is the place where people often stumble (I certainly have).

If one person gets too personal too soon, the other person may read this self-disclosure as inappropriately intimate and be scared away.

Alternatively, if one person rarely shares their personal experiences, the relationship will stay on the surface and lack the depth that develops through mutual sharing.

 

Try it out for yourself.

 

You don’t have to trust me on the efficacy of this equation — try it out for yourself.

Pick an acquaintance you think has potential to become a friend, and experiment with seeing them more regularly and gradually sharing more personal experiences.

Close friendships take time to develop, but they’re worth it. And this equation is a map that will take you right where you want to go.

. . .

 Create the close friendships you’ve been longing for. Join us for Silver + Gold.

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a silver + gold friendship celebration

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Silver + Gold starts next Monday, May 4th.

Preparing for the course has only reinvigorated my love for my own friends, making me want to run around hugging (and sending letters to) each of them, while also reaching out to meet new ones.

This week, we’re celebrating friends and friendship, and the celebration is happening on Instagram.
 

 
#silverandgoldfriends
 

Here’s how to participate:

 

1. Share a photo on Instagram acknowledging a friend (new or old) who has made your life better.

2. If your friend is on Instagram, tag them in the photo. (If not, no worries! Celebrate them anyway!)

3. Include the hashtag #silverandgoldfriends in the text accompanying your photo.

4. If a friend of yours has tagged you, share the love by passing it on to another friend.

5. Participate as many times as you want! Whoever participates most between now and Sunday will get a free spot in Silver + Gold (an $89 value). (I’ll select and notify the winner on Sunday, May 3rd.)

Go forth and celebrate friendship, my dears!

. . .

Silver + Gold begins next Monday, May 4th. Join us!

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10 totally-not-awkward friend dates

10 friend date ideas

If you’ve ever made a concerted effort to make new friends, perhaps you’ve been here:

The person you were sure was going to be your new BFF is sitting across from you at dinner, you’ve only just gotten your drinks, and you’re already out of conversation topics.

You’re suddenly wishing you could excuse yourself, go home, cozy into your pajamas and forget that you ever wanted to make new friends at all.

It’s awkward. You’re bored. And you’re pretty certain this isn’t your new BFF.

 

I’m happy to tell you that his situation isn’t an inevitable part of making friends.

 

Yes, you should expect some awkwardness when you’re getting to know someone new (that’s just the way things are with human interaction, and it’s okay!), but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming and unbearable.

When you’re getting to know a new friend, you want your goal to be to deepen your bond gradually.

Just like you’d want to date a potential love interest for a while before moving in with them, you want to get to know and spend time with a friend before declaring them your absolute best friend in the world.

 

You go from small to big. Less personal to more personal. Caring a little to caring a lot. Gradually.

 

Which means that your first friend-date with a potential friend doesn’t have to be drinks followed by dinner and deep conversation.

In fact, it’s probably better for everyone if your first hangout feels low-risk, fun, and not too long.

 

Here are ten friend-date alternatives to meeting up for tea or coffee. (Because while I do love my warm beverages, it’s always good to add some variety your friend-making life.)

 

1. Invite your potential buddy to volunteer with you.

You’ll have an activity to spark conversation and fill up silences, you might get to work as a team, and you’ll have a shared experience upon which to build your friendship further.

 

2. Ask your friend for advice.

I’ve had several friendships that started because I asked someone if I could ask them about something related to my business. You can do the same if you and your friend share a rare hobby, if you just moved to an area where they’ve lived for a while, or even if you know they’ve had a life experience that you’re having now.

 

3. Bring them into the fold.

If you have a regular activity you do with others (like a book group, brunch gathering, or hiking group), ask them if they’d like to join next time. You’ll just want to make sure to make your new friend feel included by always including them in the conversation and steering clear of inside jokes.

 

4. Offer to help out.

Is your potential friend just moving to town? Offer to help, even if you can only do so for an hour or two. Whether or not you become closer friends down the road, you’ll probably be really glad you lent a hand (because we all know how hard moving is). And if you become closer friends, your friend will always remember that really wonderful thing you did back when you barely knew each other.

 

5. Go on a walk in an area you’ve wanted to explore.

This is an especially obvious one if one (or both) of you have dogs that need walking. But even if you don’t, you can plan out an hour or two to explore a part of your city or town that you don’t know much about. You never know what kind of adventures you’ll stumble upon when you go somewhere new with a friend.

 

6. Go to a reading.

Bookstores everywhere are always having readings, and most of them are free. Pick a book event that interests you (and/or that you think might interest your potential buddy), and invite away! You’ll probably chat a bit beforehand, listen to the author, and then have something substantive to discuss before parting ways. Easy and fun!

 

7. Try out a Meetup together.

I love Meetup as a way to meet new people, but I’ll admit that it can be scary to go to a new thing all alone. Ask your potential friend if they’d be interested in joining you. You’ll already feel like a team, because you’re supporting each other in doing something scary, plus you’ll meet additional potential friends at the same time.

 

8. Include them in a project.

In one of the interviews for Silver + Gold, Sarah von Bargen shared that she often asks potential friends if they’d be interested in helping her complete an item on her yearly 25 New Things project. According to her, people are always delighted to be included in her mission, and the fact that it’s time-sensitive helps to actually get things on the calendar.

 

 9. Take a tour.

Whether you’re passionate about artisanal chocolate or haunted houses, there’s probably a tour for you out there (particularly if you live in or near a city). If you feel like you need an excuse to play tourist in your own city, ask your new friend to come along, and start learning.

 

10. Invite them to watch your favorite TV show with you.

Invite them over for snacks and TV-watching, and get to know each other as you discuss (or scoff at) the evening’s entertainment. (Need suggestions? ‘Cause I got ’em. How ’bout Orphan Black? Or Orange Is the New Black? Or Broad City?)

. . .

Join us for Silver + Gold. It’s time to take action to create the close friendships you’ve been craving.

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how do you maintain friendships?

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It’s an incredible gift to have the kind of friends who know us inside and out, have seen us grow over the years, and share our fondest memories.

It also usually takes consistent effort to keep these long-term friendships healthy.

 

So what can you do to maintain your longest and most cherished friendships?

 

Last week, we covered a host of ways to make new friends. Today, I’ve asked some friend-keeping aficionados to tell us their secrets (and not-so-secrets). Here they are:

 

Susannah Conway:

susannah conwayAs a happily introverted lone she-wolf I have to really make an effort to stay in touch with old friends. It’s not that I don’t love them — I do, of course, and I treasure our connection — I’m just really self-contained. For years I thought there was something wrong with me but now I accept that this is just how I am.

So to answer the question: I nurture my long-term friendships with regular email check-ins, Skype dates and occasional visits.

When we’re together we always cut through the crap and talk about what’s really going on for us. Putting the world to rights is usually the order of the day, with plenty of good food and a deck of oracle cards.”

Susannah Conway is a photographer, teacher, and author of This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart. She helps others remember their true selves, using creativity as the key to open the door.

 

Anna Guest-Jelley:

anna guest-jelley“The vast majority of my close friendships are also long-distance, which for years I thought added a layer of complication. But I’ve found that it’s just as easy to fall out of touch with someone in town as out; it’s all about finding little ways to connect regularly.

I’m a little embarrassed to share this, but I actually have a recurring weekly to-do on my calendar to text my closest friends.

That way, if we haven’t been in touch already, I know I won’t look up and find that a month has passed. With these check-ins, it’s easier to stay connected and even make plans for in-person hangout time.

Anna Guest-Jelley is the founder of Curvy Yoga, a body affirming training and inspiration portal for yogis of all shapes and sizes.

 

Vivienne McMaster:

vivienne mcmasterOne of my dearest friends and I have been friends ever since we left high-school and we go out on monthly friend dates. We take turns paying for one another which really adds a sweet loving element to it, as we’re really taking turns pampering one another.

As well, the more I’ve become my own dear friend, to spend time going on solo friend dates and becoming comfortable in my own company, the more I feel I can be present in my friendships and have more to give because I’ve been able to fill up my own well.

Vivienne McMaster is a photographer whose mission is to help people see themselves with kindness through their own camera.

 

Dyana Valentine:

Dyana Valentine is a speaker, coach, and oracle who teaches leaders to listen to themselves and complete seemingly impossible projects.

 

#silverandgoldfriends

 

Join us for Silver + Gold to learn so much more about how to savor and keep your best friends for life.

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so…how do YOU make new friends?

how to make new friends

At some point in our lives, each one of us gets to a point where we’d like to make new friends, whether it’s because we’re feeling lonely, want to add new people to our circle, or simply want to meet interesting people.

 

When you want to make new friends, how do you go about doing it?

 

Today, I invited a few friends of mine to share their hard-earned wisdom in response to this very question. Here they are:

 

Ev’Yan Whitney:

ev'yan whitneyThis journey of adult friendships is ongoing for me. A lot of my friends I met through my work—so, colleagues, clients, wives of my partner’s colleagues.

But lately I’ve been wanting to challenge myself by stepping outside of that cozy predictable little box. So I’m venturing out & taking up space. I’m asking friendly-looking gals about their tattoos, about how they smell. I joined OKCupid to see about branching out & making platonic friendships.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned about adult friendships is that they don’t often come to you; you have to put forth the effort. My mom always told me when I was little that “to be a friend you have to be friendly” & I’m trying to practice that everyday.”

Ev’Yan Whitney is a writer & sexuality doula who helps women come into their erotic power at sexloveliberation.com.

 

Jenipher Lyn:

Jenipher LynAlthough the internet makes it easy to compare ourselves, it also makes it CRAZY easy to start friendships, which i’m SO grateful for! 

Many of my closest friends are women I’ve never even met in person (thank you Skype!). One of my favorite humans I met on Instagram, which quickly escalated into long emails, then text messages of desserts we were eating (every day!), and I can’t imagine my life without her!

Another gal I met from Michelle Ward‘s Clubhouse. We’ve been friends for three years, and I FINALLY met her in person last week! YAY!

Since I’m often lonely, I make a HARDCORE effort to consistently schedule Skype calls or go out of my comfort zone and invite a local new person to tea in hopes of creating a friendship. Sometimes it works and sometimes it flops. Sometimes I’m lonely and sometimes I’m too busy to notice, but I wouldn’t feel as content and happy inside without my girlfriends I’ve met online.”

Jenipher Lyn is an artist who specializes in whimsical, punny illustrations. She just wrote & illustrated an encouraging book for teen girls and strives to save the world, one doodle at a time.

 

Sara Lehoullier:

Sara LehoullierMaking new friends is a joyful adventure for me – I love feeling that spark of connection that happens when you know you’ve met a bosom-friend (à la Anne of Green Gables).

In my case, that typically involves laughter – a shared sense of humor.

To find these folks (and sometimes it happens when I’m not trying), I go to events, courses, infiltrate groups that are associated with things, ideas, activities that I love, with the expectation that I already have at least one thing in common with the other people there, making it more likely that the friendship lightning will strike!”

Sara Lehoullier is a big laugher, loud talker, and lover of connecting the dots who’s working towards happiness and embracing a life that sometimes feels like a comedy of errors.

 

Andrea Schroeder:

Andrea Schroeder“I have two strategies. When I’m feeling brave enough, I go out alone (I pick classes or groups where I’m likely to find like-minded people — meetup.com is a great place to find them). It’s just so much easier to meet other people when I’m not already with a friend and am basically forced to talk to strangers.

The other strategy is just to be friendly when I’m out in the world – I have made great friends this way just hanging out in coffee shops.”

Andrea Schroeder teaches open-hearted, creative people how to access whole new worlds of inner magic & power, so they can bring their dreams to life, with ease and joy.

 

#silverandgoldfriends

 

Join us for Silver + Gold. Friend-making is the very first stop in our curriculum.

 

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introducing Silver + Gold: An Adventure in Making and Keeping Friends!

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Today I’m really delighted to share with you that Silver + Gold: An Adventure in Making and Keeping Friends is open for registration.

 

What is Silver + Gold, you ask? Well. It’s a four-week e-course adventure in creating and nourishing deeply fulfilling friendships.

 

Starting on April 27th, we’ll explore:

 

  • Why friendship is worth the effort
  • brilliantly simple model that will help you assess what kinds of friendships you have, and what kind you need
  • 100 unique places to meet new friends
  • Tips to make meeting people fun instead of scary, even if you’re an introvert
  • A simple equation to deepen any friendship
  • The truth about what it really takes to make a close friend
  • 4 ingredients needed to keep any friendship alive
  • How to end a friendship that’s no longer a fit

 

. . . and much, much more.

 

Silver + Gold also includes these amazing bonus audio interviews, full of invaluable friendship wisdom:

 

  • Photographer and writer Kyeli Smith on how to make and cultivate friendships with the help of the internet
  • Roller derby yoga teacher and world traveler Kat Selvocki on how to make friends after moving to a new city, state, or country
  • Nationally recognized friendship expert Shasta Nelson on how to know what kinds of friends we need and how to go about finding them
  • Blogger, writer, and teacher Sarah von Bargen on how to go from being friendly acquaintances to friends who hang out in sweats together
  • Writing teacher and coach Deb Cooperman on how to maintain lifelong friendships

 

You can find out more about Silver + Gold and register right here

 


Ooh! ALSO!

Everyone who registers this week (before April 20th) will also receive this free 5×7 print. (I made it especially for you.)

It’s printed on high quality cardstock and looks great framed on the wall or pinned to the bulletin board above your desk (if you’re a bulletin board enthusiast like I am).

 

 

I’m so proud of Silver + Gold, and so excited to share it with you. 

 

I’ve been implementing the lessons in my own life during the creation process, and it’s already shifted my friendship world in beautiful, heart-expanding ways. I can’t wait to see it do the same for you.

Friends, I’m so looking forward to taking this adventure with you.

 

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let’s prioritize friendship.

prioritize friendship

“Older people who have close friends and confidants live longer than those who don’t,” the study indicates.

Like so many studies, this one seems to show that, most likely, having friends helps us live longer.

“Even after controlling for sex and for demographics, health and different habits, the effect of a having close friends was clear, and those with the largest number of friends survived longest.”

Countless studies across disciplines have told us, for years, that close social ties lead to happier, healthier, longer lives.

 

So why aren’t people paying more attention to friendship? Why aren’t I? Why aren’t you?

 

I’d guess it’s in part because our society values other things more. Things like romance and marriage and jobs and babies.

We graduate from childhood, and suddenly, friendship isn’t something we talk about very much.

But when I think about my friendships, I know they deserve more weight than they’re getting.

 

My friendships have guided the course of my life.

 

Adriana’s friendship guided me to good grades in high school and a deepening of my love for learning.

Anjal’s friendship guided me to an interest in food politics and becoming the sort of person who could cook good food.

Michelle’s friendship guided me to become a life coach, that little thing I now happen to do for a living.

 

Perhaps your friendships have done the same for you.

Or perhaps a lack of close friendships has caused you persistent heartache for years. (If this is you, you’re not alone. So many of us long for closer friendships, and more friends, as grownups.)

 

Regardless of what society says, you have the option to prioritize friendship if it’s something you value.

 

You can devote time to seeing the friends you already have.

You can devote courage to going new places and meeting interesting people.

You can devote empathy to supporting friends through hard times.

There may be hundreds more books in print about romantic love than friendship. It may not feel Facebook post-worthy to put gradual, consistent effort into making a new friend. But none of that matters.

 

What matters is that friendship infuses our short lives with meaning and laughter.

 

It increases our happiness, health, and longevity. It just feels good.

Let’s prioritize friendship. Because, to us, friendship matters.

. . .

We’re gonna be talking a whole lot more about friendship in the coming weeks, with the unveiling of Silver + Gold: An Adventure in Making and Keeping Friends. Sign up here to hear about it first.

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who says?

who says?

Who says it’s best to eat three square meals,

Have dessert only once per day

Or less?

 

Who says that I should aim for eight hours of sleep?

Sometimes my body says nine, says nap, says back to bed.

All sleep is not equal.

 

Who says I have to be on LinkedIn to find a job?

When I’d rather be looking people in the eyes,

When I’d do anything (clean the toilet, do the taxes) to avoid updating my profile.

 

Who says I can’t wear white after Labor Day?

No elbows on the table,

That I can’t hug someone I just met,

That my meditation only counts if it’s on a cushion at 5am?

 

Who says? The culture at large?

They plucked these rules randomly, sewed them together with fear.

 

And maybe I’m afraid.

Maybe I have no idea what I’m doing in this life.

 

But I’d rather be terrified and listening to myself

Than pouring concrete over my precious, wise voice,

Acquiescing to arbitrary instructions.

 

I will make my own rules.

I will be my own authority.

And I’ll be afraid, but afraid won’t stop me

From living.

 

. . .

Want more? Sign up here for Soul Notes, the most intimate, wholehearted writing I share. 

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