Hello y’all! It’s December 2014, which makes it time for our annual Reverb campaign. During Reverb, we take time to reflect on 2014 to celebrate its goodness, learn from our experiences, and learn what we can manifest in 2015. I’ve participated in Reverb since 2010 and it has been an incredibly important tool that helps me live an intentional life.
It honestly feels like I just did Reverb13 and because of that, I had a pain because I worried that I haven’t moved at all. Just reading the first prompt quickly made me realize that isn’t true at all. And that is my first great discovery of 2014!
Today, I invite you to take a quiet moment to consider: what can you say right now with certainty?
Here is a short laundry list of what I know for certain at the beginning of December 2014.
2015 is going to be completely different than any year I have ever experienced to date.
I have the best husband in the world.
My puppy, Forrest, is the smartest and most handsome dog for miles.
I have a great support network of girl power.
In 2014, I discovered talents in myself that I didn’t even know existed.
I have helped some people in tremendous and very concrete ways with my work this year, completely changing my idea of what it means to have an impact on the world.
I have put off a master career and financial plan for over a year now and I’m certain the stress of that is slowly killing me.
Dreaming: If we could grant you one wish that would ultimately make 2014 your best year ever, what would it be?
I didn’t write about dreams in Reverb13, just goals. On that, I wrote:
1. Health: Love my body and treat it with the respect it deserves, and remember that when I make decisions. Boldly, I need to remember that is what matters more than else. Behaviors will follow.
2. Finances: I need to increase my ROI for my projects even if the individual decisions are hard. I’ve done some work on expenses this year and am good on that. It’s the revenues that matter. For 2014, I must say no to 95% of free speaking engagement requests, including conferences, and increase some of my prices for my recruiting services.
3. Love and Relationships: I will not be afraid of giving my all and also asking for what I need, even if the answer is no.
4. Career: I will make decisions and be bold with my choices. I will come to answers on how important the location independent lifestyle is to me, what it means for me to live like an artist, and where it makes sense for me to have my focus. I will commit to a set amount of creative projects and priorities for all of 2014 within 10 days of the new year.”
I have done well on 1 and 3. Number 4 is now a work in progress and slowly making number 2 happen (though I did decline all free speaking engagements this year and did a paid one this month!)
Dreams are so much bigger. If I am going to be honest with myself, my dream for 2014 would be to know I am going to be a mom to a healthy baby by the end of the year.
And that is my big dream so I want to state it, but this is a blog about career & business success and creating your own opportunities. If the Reverb community could grant me one wish to help me meet my career dream this year, it would be for me to help a new group of clients launch and execute work projects and changes with ease.
That I would see the results from a full and consistent pipeline of clients with my new refocus on career & business coaching.
That I am rewarded financially for my work and expertise.
That I can imagine a full line of joyful professionals all the way through 2015.
(FYI: I asked my husband what he thought my career dream should be and he said, “Master WordPress and make it your bitch.” That will be my sub-dream for the year).
“I am trying this approach to self-compassion with some bad news I received last night about the tentative plan I’d been working on for next year for my career and work… My instinct was to yell at myself to get over this disappointment and suck it up and move on and most importantly, that I was stupid in the first place for having expectations that this would not be the conclusion to my plan. Really, I deserve this outcome because I decided to take so many risks the last two years.
I cried last night because I felt so stupid and lost and today am trying to feel compassion for myself as much as possible. It will also help with my decision-making process.”
I have talked about work stuff already… and I know the prompt is about self-compassion… but I’d like to tackle self-care, which is related.
About a month ago, I decided to take a long, relaxing bath. During a Wednesday. It seems so simple, but it felt life-changing, and I took note.
I love relaxing baths! I am not sure when I stopped taking them, but I did in the last year or so. They seem indulgent and I am not sure why. I share a small house with my husband, so it’s partly a weird feeling of taking so much space and time to myself in the house. We also both work from home and there are always messes around the house- dishes to do, laundry to put away, papers to file.
Who has freaking time for a bath?
This particular day, I felt dirty and stressed and overwhelmed by days of never-ending website coding, a whiny dog, and messes all around me in every room. The stress felt like lime-green, sticky slime on my skin. I remember staring at the wall for second, closing my laptop and having the thought creep into my head and then pop: “I need a damn bath.”
I ignored my dog’s whines as I walked into the kitchen. I poured myself a small glass of rose, made myself a greek yogurt and espresso face mask and went into the bathroom and closed the door firmly.
I ran the steamy hot water, poured the citrus scented bubbles in the bath, and made myself a scrub of lavender sugar and walnut oil in a tiny mason jar. I used the scrub on every nook and cranny of my body and then also used a scrubbing-brush before shaving places that I had ignored. I took small sips of wine while I scrubbed, shaved and deep conditioned my hair. I surrounded myself with the unused bath products that had moved from me with home to home and used them all.
And then I just sat back in the hot water and suds and breathed.
When I was ready, I emptied the tub and took a quick hot shower to rid myself of any last lavender sugar sticking to me. I got into a cotton sundress, took 20 minutes to moisturize myself throughly with cocoa butter and detangled my hair so it was smooth as silk.
I opened the door to the bathroom to a concerned husband and dog in the office. I delivered some big kisses and took my glass of rose, Kindle, and sat outside for the rest of the afternoon reading and looking at birds.
I sat back in my chair and breathed.
I have taken a weekly bath since- not during the workday (yet). Without these, no website coding would ever get finished.
Other Reverb updates on reflections I made in 2013.
“My worst habit and addiction that I need to make progress on in 2014 is procrastination. I have a lot on my plate and often make the wrong decisions on what to choose first and make excuses. I’ve tried lots of things, like an accountability group, but… it’s never enough.”
“I am thinking about the list of things that I wanted to achieve in 2013 and possible things that I want to achieve in 2014 and how I could get off auto-pilot. Here are two things that I’d like to see change.
1. Wake up earlier and at the same time … And I believe in my bones that if I was able to master this, other good habits would generate from this. I want to do this even more than pick up a more consistent exercise program.
2. Plan a year of travel. I reverbed in 2012 about how excited I was to own a car for the first time. I had in my mind a year of Southern adventures, visiting states I’d never been to like Alabama, Tennessee, and North Carolina and doing some workcations … If we put our minds to it, we could plan some awesome dog-friendly trips that meet our budget and work preferences.”
I’m a mixed bag on these fronts.
Procrastination: I have made some progress on this, but I have developed a new problem with figuring out how to manage the feeling of being constantly overwhelmed. I’ve recently journaled about this and looking back at different attempts to reorganize my work life … and my life as a student 20+ years ago… and have picked up some resources on adult Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) to digest this summer.
It’s something that I don’t talk about very often, but when I was in college, I was unexpectedly diagnosed with adult ADD when I had another health problem. I did not want to take medication, which was what was suggested, so it’s something I more or less dismissed about myself. I’m really smart and good at setting up work systems, so ADD may not be apparent or even always get in my way. In fact, my struggle with ADD has likely helped me make my productivity systems so awesome because I truly need them more than the average person.
But recently, as I take bolder steps in my career and have other people in my family to think of, I am seeing lots of signs where I have completely missed the real problem in certain situations, personally and professionally, and why joy can escape me at work more easily than others. And I don’t want to feel like I’m in a life-or-death struggle with my attention anymore. I finally realize that just revamping my task list is not going to fix this problem.
If I do come up with insights on living and working with adult ADD that could help my clients or others, I’ll share them on a future blog post. Wish me luck.
Waking Up: Well, I haven’t set my alarm, but I am naturally waking up and getting out of bed a lot earlier in the last 2 months! I notice it’s because I like the work I get up to do- writing or reading- and I also feel better. In May, I cut down on my caffeine and alcohol intake (still there, but not as much), and in June, I gave up carbs, sugar, and most processed food. I haven’t lost weight, but I think it’s making a difference.
My husband has traveled a lot this year, but I’ve stayed home to take care of the dog and work on myself. But we’re open to unexpected travel gifts like the one we received yesterday from my childhood best friend. We are going with her this weekend to Dollywood in Tennessee (bucket list!) and are going to stay a night in Asheville, North Carolina, another state we haven’t been to yet. I can’t wait!
Other Reverb updates on reflections I made in 2013
I am about to take some risks with my career, but feel like they need more planning behind them. I feel better if I have concrete goals even if the plan is just sketched out. I have an accountability retreat coming up and will use that time to work on this.
Choices: If you chose one, how are you honoring your word for 2014… or do you want to change it (feel free to pick a new word now!)?
My word for 2014 was alternative. Specifically, I wrote…
“For 2014, my word is alternative.
If I am unhappy with what is going on, what is an alternative way of doing things or thinking about them?
What is an alternative to the alternative(!)?
What are alternative stories I can tell myself about what I deserve or what the rest of my life is supposed to look like?
Before I started Reverb13, I was really upset that I did not have a master plan for 2014, that I only knew what I DIDN’T want to happen. Now I am excited about the possibility of trying out new alternatives for myself. After all, there is more than one way to live a good and successful life.”
At the end of 2013, I knew that I was unhappy with my work. I didn’t feel any joy, just stress- and I didn’t trust the people I was doing business with most days. This is really hard as someone who helps other people love their own work! So I began the year considering alternatives that could specifically limit my stress, increase my joy, and spend more of my energy on what I like to do- writing, coaching, teaching and advising.
My first attempt at using alternatives was lame. I looked at alternatives as a way to change my workload by seeking out partners, thinking bigger or just doing the same work in a different capacity. How did it go? Not so well.
In January 2014, I decided to partner with a company in my industry on new recruitment projects… that closed by March 1st… and didn’t pay me for the work I did.
In February, I negotiated a really large recruitment contract with a new organization that would have carried me through the year… and the organization told me 15 days after the contract was supposed to start and my team was already hired that they didn’t have the money to pay me.
In April and May, I decided to talk to education organizations about joining their team and putting aside my practice for a bit. There was a lot of enthusiasm… but for me to lead operations- not writing, coaching, or advising, my true interests- and not in any city I wanted to live in with my family.
Basically, I manifested more of the same of 2013, just with different players.
In May, I decided to take some time to regroup and remembering that I had picked the word alternative for the year really helped. What did it mean to truly think about alternatives?
I realized that considering alternatives is not only about keeping an open mind, or pivoting. Good alternatives can help you live your core values, not just act as another way to skin a cat. And since I actually knew what my values, strengths, and talents were, it was up to me to decide to try new things that could help me move forward with my life.
As a result of my time away pondering alternatives, I made three moves.
One, I refocused on my career & business coaching practice and have stopped pursuing and taking recruitment contracts, no matter how much it seemed like it didn’t make “business sense” (recruitment contracts pay 10x coaching clients, etc.). I immediately signed a small business owner as a new client and am having a blast and am ready to build that pipeline and change the world.
It helps me stay playful, something I forgot about in 2013.
I LOVED every part of the work I did in June: writing my business plan for my new project, designing my website, writing my copy and vow guide, and speaking with the couples who have already contacted me since I launched July 10. The flow I felt in doing the work behind the scenes on this reinforced that going back to career & business coaching is the right move. It is helping me fulfill multiple purposes.
Unrelated to my career, but a third alternative I chose to pursue is receiving acupuncture to deal with some health issues, issues that I have referenced in Reverb posts since 2012. Acupuncture is something I NEVER thought I would take seriously, and here I am doing it and reaping enormous benefits from it every week.
Alternatives can be a blessing.
So I am going to stick with alternative as my guiding word for 2014, but with some caution. I am eager to phase down my recent ‘exploration’ phase and focus on ‘traveling and being present’ on my journey. I am also wary of taking on TOO many alternatives and being weighed down (ignore the state of my overloaded email inbox since mid-May). But I think I’m on the right path, thanks to my word, and that’s what matters right now.
Other Reverb updates on promises I made to myself.
For the last few years, I’ve participated in the Reverb blogging campaign, an effort to reflect on the last year and use those reflections to manifest goodness into the next year. 2013 was the first year I actually finished all the prompts- and it was mind blowing!
It occurred to me that we’re now 6 months into the new year and I’ve felt a strong desire to take time to check-in with myself on the insights I made back in December and whether I’ve actually used them to make change in my life. I also realize that some of my ideas may seem utterly insane now that time has passed and I should probably even toss some ideas out of my head.
With the blessing of my Reverb twitter friends, and especially my lovely muse and Reverb captain Kat McNally, I put together the following 5 prompts if you also want to check in with yourself this July. Not all of these may be relevant depending on what you reflected on in December. Definitely pick and choose the questions that work for you.
It’s been six months since Reverb13 finished. You likely made some promises to yourself through your blog entires and it’s time to check in and acknowledge your accomplishments, hold yourself accountable, or change direction so that 2014 is an amazing year.
Look back at your Reverb13 entires and think about these questions. Reflect with words, images, or whatever works for you!
1. Choices: If you chose one, how are you honoring your word for 2014… or do you want to change it (feel free to pick a new word now!)?
2. Habits: How are you managing your habits? Are you still battling addictions, eliminating the negativity and turning-off auto-pilot? Have you added any new good habits?
3. Priorities: Describe a single moment where you practiced self-compassion over the last six months. What did you do and why?
4. Living: Show us your best memory to date. How can you make more of them just like that this year?
5. Dreaming: If we could grant you one wish that would ultimately make 2014 your best year ever, what would it be?
I’ll be answering each question over here over the first two weeks of July. I’d love to read your responses, too, and will be checking the #reverb13 hashtag on Twitter.
** I’ve been taking advantage of tools like Tumblr and Medium to blog all over the internet the last two years rather than use my space here at The Opportunities Project. I am looking to change that in 2014. I used Tumblr to write all my 2013 entries. Here are links to the entries and the prompts. The categorization is mine in how I want to use my reflections to a better person, achieve more success, and experience more joy.
It can be a town, city, country or region — real or imaginary — and doesn’t matter if you actually got there or not!
As I wrote in Prompt 3, I really wanted to go to Portugal and France, the countries of my heritage in 2012 before my body and mind told me no. While I hadn’t found a way to configure it in the trip I was planning, the place I really wanted to go was the Azores, an island of Portugal where I believe part of my mother’s family originates from, and where most people I grew up with can trace their families, also.
A few years ago, my friend posted on my Facebook wall that Anthony Bourdain traveled to the Azores as part of his show No Reservations and I needed to watch it (video below). The episode starts out in the restaurants of the cities where I grew up, New Bedford and Fall River, Massachusetts, and Anthony talks about how specific Azorean food and culture is and how it’s different than mainland Portugal’s. He travels to the island, showing the world this green lush place that looks like paradise.
It was hard not to fall in love with this image. Plus, I just love islands. I feel like a clearer and calmer person the closer that I get to water. After watching that episode I imagined setting myself up at a café in the Azores, writing and eating glorious food in a sea of green.
Please post your favourite picture of yourself from 2012, self-portrait or otherwise!
In February, I started using a social goals program called Accomp.sh to work on my 2012 goals. It has a great interface and was developed by Brooklyn-based female entrepreneur, Jenn Vargas, who is completely lovely and an inspiration to anyone who wants to create something that is meaningful to the world and ship.
In addition to publicly declaring your goals on Accompl.sh, you can accept challenges from the community and one of the challenges I accepted was to take a picture of myself every day in 2012.
I fell short. By a lot.
But if it wasn’t for the challenge, I wouldn’t have created a Dropbox folder for this project and taken 100 or so pictures of myself through the year and stored them. I learned a lot even in my half-ass attempt.
Taking pictures of myself over time has its pros and cons. On the benefit side… when I look at the pictures altogether, I feel more attractive than I often feel on a day-to-day basis. I’m not so bad on the eyes, world! On the negative side, I can physically see some of the health challenges I’ve had at different times this year etched on my face and it makes me wistful and also angry at myself for not taking better care of my body when I have had the opportunity to make better choices.
But enough of the reflection- here is the winner for my favorite picture. There were a few finalists, but most were private pictures that I took for specific reasons and I decided to keep them private even though they made my heart sing. My favorite picture is one I took of myself on Halloween as Effie Trinket of The Hunger Games. I hadn’t dressed up for Halloween since I was 12 and was worried about looking dumb, as well as wearing a short wig. So it represents a risk for me. But it also seemed to go over okay… ahem… especially with men.
Maybe more wigs are in my future for 2013?!?
Here is another shot with a flirty smile. Why helllllllooooooo Haymitch!
And my attempt at a serious look. Effie does send children to their death, you know.
An unexpected family emergency brought me to Massachusetts for five days during the second week of December and left me behind in my work, among other things. I am finally resuming Reverb12. Lots of prompts to post, and most out of order. But let’s get restarted!
How are you going to celebrate your self this festive season?
I’ve been fortunate to hit a lot of personal and professional milestones this year and celebrate each one. In Prompt 1, I summarized some of my big personal wins. On the business side, I exceeded my revenue goal, am publishing a new career guide this month, and finished a complete draft on my labor of love project, The Professional Badass Playbook, a guide on how to establish new career habits and meet your business goals for 2013 (coming out soon!).
I’ve recognized my milestones by recording them in my OhLife and Grateful160 journals, having wine with a friend, and in some cases, even going to the spa and getting a massage. This has been huge because celebrating for me has always been tough. First, I have high expectations for myself so I always think I should be doing more and question what is worth a celebration. Second, things that feel like a true reward, like giant cupcakes and mac and cheese, have negative consequences, or in the case of massages, cost some serious dollars. I wish I could be one of those people who feel rewarded by long walks in the park, but alas I am not one. Yet.
I do realize that I get enjoyment when I share my wins with people who make me smile. So during December, I plan to celebrate myself by spending time with people who do that, including my niece and nephew as much as possible.