Pod-Blast 4: Vulnerable Creation

So, I’m a Brene Brown junkie, so when I see her talking on something, I listen.

The Beautiful Writers podcast has some great guest on it, so even though the vibe doesn’t 100% work for me, I have a couple of episodes I like–and this conversation is a great balance of Brene’s perspective on creativity and being real about making stuff.

Ironically, the strength of this conversation is that it’s not just Brene talking. And it’s about the way these three are IN their practice of writing as professionals.

Beautiful Writers – Daring to Create Greatly with Brene Brown

Warning: it involves a tale of remaindering. It isn’t pretty. Everyone survives.


The Illusion of Dichotomy

There’s a call-out post about organic produce that made me hopping mad, but it took me a few days to articulate why.

It wasn’t that it was challenging a lot of what I value (though it did).

It was because it made a false dichotomy.

It listed all the ways in which eating farm to table was cutting out urban jobs or how wearing organic fabrics was money you could spend donating…

and it erased the fact that we can choose both.


American culture borrows this love of considering things mutually exclusive from other older cultures all the way back to at least the Hellenic expansion. The Greeks loved to divide things up. One of the more devastating ways we still buy into this is in the idea that body and spirit are unrelated–it is best to live in the mind and suborn the body.

Because we seem to love to sort things neatly into good or bad, we still are trying to shed this idea that the mind or spirit is higher, while the body is just low biology.

The more we learn about the wholeness of the body with emotions and thoughts (and the more we learn how damaging our disregard of our bodies’ natural processes is) the more urgent it gets that we reintegrate.

We need to shed the dichotomy.

A Problem of Perception

The problem with the post wasn’t that it was pointing out ways that were more helpful to spend your money to benefit the economy or others. It was the standpoint it took–if you spend money on organics, you are stealing from others.

The false dichotomy here is: if you spend money on one thing, you cannot spend it on another.

One of the examples was buying organic sheets. So yeah, that seems a little over-the-top. I can only think of a few kinds of people who would do that: people who have lots of money…and people with the kind of life-altering allergies or sensitivities that mean buying the special version of everything.

If your person is the former, they can both donate to a cause AND buy their sheets organic.

In both cases, the dichotomy is more about anger at a perception of how other people spend their money than about realistically asking people to make change.

The No-Lose Alternative

My family has been buying purified water from a small local business, unpasteurized milk from a nearby dairy, and organic produce for about a decade now. A lot of these behaviors came from a paradigm shift where a health crisis changed the way we did EVERYTHING.

Sometimes you have to spend money on yourself first, to save your life.

My mom now owns a wellness business with an income that allows her to help out family and neighbors, provide jobs to several people (including one insolvent daughter), and also help facilitate others getting healthier.

She’s helping them live better and be more financially stable by first helping them heal. And donating to causes she believes in.

The underlying assumption of the article was that because it’s not immediately for the common good, it shouldn’t be done. (There was also a rather overt trust in the most click-bait-y of research results tearing up the Internet to prove organic isn’t better. Hint: that’s not really what nuanced, careful research shows.)

It’s not true, and it’s also just heartbreaking.

It’s OK to Make Contextual Choices

I am aware that buying bottled water comes with a ecological impact, so I try not to do it. My family gets purified tap water from our own area, and have our own filter. I even drink tap sometimes!

If I was stranded out in the desert (or even downtown Suburbia) and needed water, I would be OK with buying a bottled water from a store or vending machine. No amount of me not drinking that water is going to actually put the bottle back, though it’s good to be conscious of the impact of our small choices.

I can believe in supporting local farms, and also contribute to food pantries. I can pick out ugly vegetables in my grocery store, and also have a co-op that give me pretty stuff.

Every day is a web of choices that need to be made in balance.

The modern culture of the Internet is fond of villainizing and heroizing–but it’s OK to hold a balance. No one thing is the answer to all needs. The real thing we need in life is to be making conscious choices with the information we have, and make a space for discomfort, to give others what they need.

This is Not A Response Call-Out Post

Bringing it back, be wary of dichotomies. I don’t want to challenge that specific writer as wrong (though I will continue to speak my mind about the lack of nuance) but I do want to point out that it doesn’t serve anyone.

Sure, it gets some hearty amens from people who don’t see what it’s like on the other side. For someone to seem to be allergic to everything, hoping that buying non-fragrance detergent is going to help them sleep at night.

It appeals to our idea that there are easy rights or wrongs–and that we can feel good about ourselves if we are in line with them.

Both sides of that dichotomous article? Are right.

Bouldering – Master Stroke Workshop

I’m doing a to-do list workshop on Facebook, and the first in-depth lesson I’m going to take  up here!

In this short video I laid out the idea behind choosing the big three accomplishments you want to have in life.

In essence, a day can be filled with little tasks that are urgent…but not leading to your real goals. If you know what your big goals are, and then figure out how to break those big goals into daily steps, you can make sure you’re working on those bigger tasks.

Then the margins of the day be filled with those minor ones.

So how do you discover your Boulders?

Maybe take a moment to think about what you’re pursuing right now. What is the dream for you, that you’re going for? It could be a higher level of responsibility in a career move. If you’re a visual artist, maybe having a gallery show.

You can also have goals in your personal life (get fit enough for a 5K, throw an amazing retirement party) or off a bucket list (See Paris!)

These are all things you probably can’t run out and do tomorrow–unless you’ve already been doing groundwork.

You may have way more than three. What are the three you want to accomplish in the next 5 years? 10?

How do you break down your Boulders?

If you look at these big tasks, you may already have a good idea what the next step is.

If not, you may need to Google and read a few blogs on How To Travel To Europe or How To Yarnbomb A Whole Bridge.

(I hope no one comes to this blogpost as the only place offering advice on that second one. GET LOTS OF FRIENDS.)

But you don’t want to get too lost in the details.

For instance, I want to publish a novel. I know I should write every day. But if I write every day and never move on to revising and getting feedback on my novel, I can’t move forward.

If I get all that feedback and then never finish revising, I won’t get it out to agents. (Alternatively, I won’t get around to creating a promotion plan for self-publishing!)

Sometimes you need to figure out each new step as you push forward. I had to go to workshops to learn how to revise my work effectively, and I’ve done other learning in the field, so I know better how to create marketable material.

But you can’t get stuck on any one of those steps. You have to remember the Boulder.


What’s the next step you know to do for your handiest boulder? Put that first on your list of things to do tomorrow.

Need help figuring out your boulders? That’s what I’ve started this Master Stroke group on Facebook for!

I’m also holding free coaching sessions, so get in touch here to brainstorm about your goals in life and in 2017! It would be my pleasure to talk big dreams with you.

Book Review: Rising Strong

Sometimes you don’t open a book for a reason.

I had asked my mom which Brene Brown books she had when I finished listening to her episode on Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons* podcast, a brilliant conversation about fear and creating..

*I also got Gilbert’s Big Magic out–look forward to a post on it as well!

This book sat on the top of a sizeable pile of To-Read books for while–and then I had a couple of failures in very different arenas of life, and it was waiting for me.

I read it through as if it were a particularly addictive novel. But it’s not a fluff read. It’s funny, wise, and occasionally heartbreaking. And it digs into the reasons we weaponize our words in situations–and how to instead explore what the pain is that makes us retreat into our tanks.

It’s not a comforting “you’re fine, just be true to yourself” read. It’s instead a concrete guidebook for those who want to do the work of confronting their emotional baggage, shame, and own that vulnerability.

It’s the kind of book that could change the world. At the very least, it will change the world around those who read it and take it to heart.

I’ve been doing the work of coaching in my own life for some time now. Up to now I’ve been learning to release emotions and improve my baseline. A mainly self-centered process that’s important. Rising Strong outlined how to expand this into relationships with others–when you have a conflict, and are face-down with hurt.

How to learn from those moments to later keep your feet under you and recognize, “Oh, my sense of inadequacy is being triggered by this, but I don’t think that’s the intention. How do we handle this together?”

And in a way it is a comfort to read. It says, “Oh, yes, you will fail yourself and the people you love. But here is how to learn from that.”

That sounds less like wishful thinking and a lot like the life I can live. It’s actually really exciting.


I’m also really excited to share this with my coaching clients! The more we understand emotional hindrances to moving forward, the more I can help them be the heroes of their own stories.

Mark your calendars for my next webinar, Unlock Your Agency on Sept 30th, 7pm Central!

Link is to the Facebook event where updates and reminders will be posted. Join there and you can even catch a replay if you miss the actual webinar.