Love vs. Fear: The Experiments


I know. I know. You’ve heard the concept of love versus fear about a trillion times, so I’ll just let Oprah boil it down briefly: “Every single event in life happens in an opportunity to choose love over fear.”

This idea has knocked around in my head for years, but it wasn’t until recently that I pulled it from the recesses of my mind to conduct a little experiment:

Every time I go to make a decision, I have to ask myself if I’m making the decision out of love or fear.

Experiment #1:

A few weeks ago, I wanted to go to a new farm-to-table, upscale Southern restaurant with people I love more than anyone on the planet. They said they wanted to go too. Later that day they opted for Olive Garden. (Let’s put aside my disdain for chain restaurants momentarily.) They were getting ready to move and were sticking to a budget—something I totally get.

But I so wanted them to experience the taste of the strawberry balsamic shrub on their tongues—the notes of vinegar, the seeds of the strawberries, the tangy, tart, weird sort of yumminess of it all. I wanted them to cut into a piping hot, fried green tomato and have the light batter crunch in their mouths, and I wanted them to watch as the butter melted into a pool on the iron skillet cornbread.

It wasn’t just about farm-to-table versus chain. It was about experiencing this food with people I love. It was about dining on the porch in the late summer sun. It was about watching them taste some of this stuff for the first time. I asked myself if my budget would allow me to help pay for dinner. My Inner Bastard went crazy:

Me: All the bills are paid. More money’s coming in. Let’s do it!

Inner Bastard: You’re one fried-green tomato away from the poor house and you’re gonna “end up eating a steady diet of government cheese and living in a van down by the river.”

Me: That’s ridiculous. I’m fine. I’ve got savings. I don’t even have credit card debt.

Inner Bastard: You better save the strawberry seeds from your shrub ’cause that’s all you’ll have to eat for the next few weeks.

I stopped myself. That was fear talking.

I redirected: Does it feel like love? Really, does it FEEL like love to take these people you worship to this restaurant and help to pay?

The answer was a resounding yes.

We went, and it was everything I hoped it would be, minus the fly that wouldn’t leave me or my spoon alone. (Let’s set that aside though as well, shall we?)

Experiment #2:

I’m tired.

Just plumb worn out.

Summer sometimes does that to me.

It’s like the first time I went to Europe, and I packed my bag so full that I ended up zipping my favorite gray cable-knit sweater right through the zipper. To boot, there wasn’t room to take anything back, so I had to buy a whole new bag while I was there to schlep all my new stuff home.

Summer feels like that—like cramming in too many trips, parties, barbecues, and concerts, until my very soul is stuck in the zipper. No wonder we hibernate in the winter. We’re exhausted.

Summer should be long, lazy, and sloth-like with space to sit around a campfire and try to remember all the constellations you learned in Astronomy 101 decades before. There should be time to head up to your power spot on the mountain, top down, with the pups in their carseats as their long, pink tongues flap in the breeze.

I told my family I would come visit them for my birthday. I keep asking myself if it feels like love or fear.

I’m afraid the answer is fear. I’m worried they’ll be hurt if I don’t come. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I just want to nap, and read, and nap some more.

The jury is still out for me on this one. I’m torn. I love them beyond what I can express, so that part feels like love. Taking another summer trip doesn’t. My Inner Bastard doesn’t help:

Inner Bastard: They’ll never speak to you again. When you die, they won’t go to your funeral, and when your mom sends them little vials of your ashes, they’ll end up rattling around in the bottom of the grand-niece’s toy boxes underneath the Happy Meal plastics.

Experiment #3:

Nothing feels more like love to me than summertime reading. Or wintertime, springtime, and fall-time reading.

And… admittedly, I have some quirks around reading.

You see, I go in spurts with things. It’ll go something like this: I read every fiction book I can find that’s set in WWII/Nazi Germany until I can barely lift my head from the sadness, and I’ll only have eaten one single, solitary, sliced olive over the course of two days. Books like: Sarah’s Key, All the Light We Cannot See, The Book Thief, The Nightingale, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Ooh… pie? I immediately switch genres and read The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, and I fall so deeply in love with Flavia de Luce that I read all seven novels in Alan Bradley‘s series in just over a month. Once finished, I’m bereft. I sob. I grieve. I resign myself to waiting for book eight like all the other sad sacks in the world.

After a day or two of mourning Flavia, I remember one of my other favorite characters in literature: Scout Finch… Thus begins my annual binge of Southern/Southern Gothic fiction with young quirky characters in an epochal Bildungsroman (Coming of Age): Bastard Out of Carolina, The Homecoming of Samuel Lake, The Secret Life of Bees, My Last Days as Roy Rogers, Whistling Past the Graveyard. And… on it goes until I find myself on a witch kick or a fictional Mary Magdalene obsession.

This is all a long way of saying that deep in the heat of summer I always come back ’round to my Coming-of-Age-set-in-the-South books. I inevitably end up worrying that I’ve read all books of the kind, but then I find: Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen, which leads me to Because of Winn-Dixie… because ice cream leads to store. Literally and figuratively.

So… aside from sharing my unequivocal reading neuroses, which may land me in a padded cell with no books whatsoever, I do have a point. I finished Because of Winn-Dixie the other night and felt profound yuck. How was I going to find my next book? I’ve read them all. I fell asleep with a lone tear barreling down my cheek.

The next day, before I’d finished my first cup of coffee, I had performed an exhaustive search on Google for books in that genre. Next thing I knew I had purchased The Pecan Man, The Secret Sense of Wildflower, and Orphan Train —-> because, clearly, I’ll be jumping tracks to orphans fairly soon.

Yes, I’m still getting to my point. Really. Just one more thing. Have I ever let leak the fact that I have over 200 kindle books? 75% of which I haven’t yet read? Or… did I fail to ever mention the fact that my bookshelves each hold double stacks of books that I haven’t yet read? I’ll bet you I have over 300 books in my “to-be-read” piles/shelves/whole bookcases.

And here we are, finally, at the point. When I performed that exhaustive search and bought more to-be-read books, I was acting wholly out of fear. Fear that I wouldn’t feel the same feeling with a single one of those three-hundred books I already have. Fear that the books I was searching for would suddenly be out of print. Unavailable. Not for me.

My Inner Bastard had nothing to say on this one. He was buried under a pile of said books.

I had forgotten to check in before I clicked buy. I hadn’t asked myself the question. Am I buying these books out of love or fear? Typically, any type of book buying for me is a love thing, but sometimes it’s not. This time it was not.

The next day I told a dear friend about my experiments, and all about my thoughts on love versus fear and how it’s everywhere. Every. Where. And how it’s the foundation of everything we do in our lives.

She asked, “So what’s next for you?”

“Practice. That’s it. Nothing big or grand or deep. Just practice.” I told her, as I stroked my Kindle.

For my visual peeps out there:


The 4 Commandments of Launching a Program


I have been seriously pushing my edge as of late. I’m no longer drafting along behind (if you’ve read my Copycat, Copycat blog you’ll know of what I speak, but… essentially it means I’ve stepped out fully on my own.)

Pushing edges is damn scary. In fact, I’ve had moments of such utter terror that it’s hard to put into words. (Or to breathe.)  I recently launched a piece of my soul and heart’s work out in to the Big U(niverse) in my Story Shape Shifting & Memoir Writing Program. “Hallelujah, Holy Shit… Where’s the Tylenol?” I’ve felt nauseous with elation and anticipation and, of course, a sprinkling of fear and a whole lot of self-doubt. I’ve also felt moments of such intense connection as I’ve interviewed candidates and have felt as if nothing I’ve ever written or offered has felt so divinely inspired or so in line with everything I believe and in how I see the world.

I promised that I would write a blog about how to launch an offering in more depth, but what I’ve realized is: I DON’T KNOW and IT DEPENDS. I’ve come to understand that launching is no different than anything else. It’s not about following a bunch of rules – send 3-4 emails to your list offering a preview call, ask affiliate partners to mail for the preview call, get people who sign up for the call into the “bucket”, send 8-10 emails to said bucket, blah, blah, blah… My tribe isn’t a frothy liquid sloshing around out there.

Rather, launching is about following my intuition and my feel good.

I know how to market, it’s what I did for many years, but when I started asking the question “Does that feel good?” The answer was a resounding “no.”  Bear in mind, this is no judgement on folks who follow the traditional methods of marketing – the traditional methods feel good for some, they’ve felt good for me at times, but in this precise moment they just don’t.

This blog isn’t intended to give you a five-part plan on how to launch. Instead, I want to share the psychology of launching your heart’s work into the world through a series of analogies.

I recently had a catch-up call with my dear friend, Amy Ahlers, and was whining about how unbelievably hard it is to launch. After a deep belly howl of true understanding, she apologized for laughing and listened to my fears. You see, I’ve helped Amy to launch Visionary Ignition Switch with Lissa Rankin, Find Your Calling with Lissa & Martha Beck, TWICE, not to mention helping dozens of other clients launch their big offerings out into the world. I’ve been on the back end many times – creating squeeze and sales pages, inputting bucket emails, building campaigns in Infusion Soft, noodling launch strategy and managing the customer experience. I know this process like the back of my freckled hand.

What I didn’t know, and the reason for Amy’s conspiratorial guffaws, was how tender it feels when it’s something you yourself have created and is something that is so near and dear to your heart. I imagine it’s akin to what a young guy must feel when he’s pined after a girl for years and finally gets the nerve up to ask her for coffee. Well, okay, maybe these days he texts her, but that doesn’t work for my analogy because it’s not as scary. No, in my analogy he’s loved her since they were two, he’s never had a single thought of another girl in his entire life and he has to ask her out, in person, just hours after a particularly grievous bout of acne and an outbreak of herpes simplex 1 on his lower lip.

That’s about how vulnerable I think one feels when they launch. Or… at least, that’s how I feel.

If the by-now-pockmarked-boy-asking-his-love-to-coffee analogy doesn’t work for you, how about this one: Project Runway! If you’ve seen the show then you’ve watched the designers running through Mood, jumping over Swatch the dog, sewing like the wind back in the work room, being snarky with their peers, trying to “Make it Work,” and showing their work to Heidi, Zac & Nina.  Well, I’ve done that behind the scenes work in terms of launching. I’ve shown up and sketched, found my fabric, pieced it together into something I believe is beautiful and shown it to a few people. Upon launching, however, it feels as if I’ve made it to New York Fashion Week and now I have to show it to the masses.  So, here’s what I’ve learned along the way; my commandments, if you will:

  1. Be Willing to Be Authentic: Listen to that Inner Voice, the one that never steers you wrong. Listen to the signs from your body, that’s your true north. From creation to debut, allow yourself to be completely 1000% authentically you. Let your offering come from your soul – tell us what you believe, tell us story, speak to us, and follow your feel good and intuition. Create something that you would sign up for in a nanosecond. If it doesn’t set you on fire and feel joyful, you likely haven’t hit the mark yet.
  2. Be Willing to Play: If you don’t put yourself out there, you’ll never know if you’ll succeed or not. My amazeballs friend, Mike Robbins, who was drafted by the Kansas City Royals wrote about this in his book Nothing Changes Until  You Do in an essay called “Swing Hard (Just in Case You Hit It)”.  In this piece Mike writes about a peer, Geoff, who went on to play professionally who “never stopped swinging hard, and throughout his very successful major league career, he got quite a few hits (1,293 total) and hit a lot of home runs (221 total). He also struck out 1,186 times.”  Geoff never would have hit 1,293 balls without being willing to strike out 1,186 times. You have to be willing to put yourself in the game and play.
  3. Be Willing to Listen & Tweak:  When I first launched my Story Shape Shifting program, I’d given folks a ridiculously short span of time to sign up. It’s a high-end, platinum program that requires commitment and I barely gave folks time to tap in to feel whether it was right for them. After a bit of feedback and listening on my end, I moved the start date a month forward to November 20th, which gave both me and my clients space. It felt so good to listen to that feedback and make a decision I knew was right.
  4. Be Willing to Let Go: This is a tough one. There’s a lot of attachment that comes when you’re putting your heart out there. You’ve likely invested months of blood, sweat and tears into something you believe in infinitely more than Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. Don’t intend to fail, but be willing to let go if it’s just not working. If it no longer feels fun and you’re finding yourself longing to drink Jim Beam out of a Dixie cup every night, it may be time to let go and try something else. Or… it may be time to look at the energy you have around your program. Or… it may be timing.  Allow yourself to really tap in and feel into what you know is true, whatever that may be. And… letting go isn’t just about letting go of your launch, it’s letting go of attachment to outcome. You’ve likely done everything you can do, allow yourself to sit back and enjoy the ride. (I’m so thoroughly enjoying this ride now that I’ve released my attachment.)

I’d love to hear your experience with launching a product or program. How did it feel for you? What were your results? Did you enjoy the process or is there something you would have done differently if given the chance? Any tips for our launchers out there?

With love & Black Pearl Oolong in my Dixie Cup,


When the Magic Is Just Too Good…


Some fifteen years ago, when I was deep in the study of Native American spirituality, I traveled to the Black Hills of South Dakota to attend a powwow. As I was just about to fall asleep the night before the event – you know that time, when your body is starting to jerk, but you’re still conscious – I saw a vision of a very old Native American woman – “sage”, “wise” and “ancient” were all terms that came to my half-conscious mind. She had to have been over 100. Her withered deeply lined face hovered over me and her black eyes twinkled with light as my whole body tingled and I felt myself start to lift out of my physical form to travel with her to only God knows where. It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. It was pure magic and it was what I had been waiting on for seven years, minus the peyote.

About seventy five feet off the ground I started arguing with my monkey mind inner critic.

Me: OMG, this is beautiful. Feel this. I’m traveling with my spirit guide. She’s here. I’ve finally met her! I knew she’d come.

Inner Critic: You don’t even know this woman. She’s probably wanted in ten planes. She’s going to take your soul and you’re going to die on this gray shag carpet with the dark roast coffee stain next to your head. The chalk outline they make around your body is going to look goofy with that stain there.

Me: No, I’ve been waiting to meet her and experience this for my whole life. This is transcendental, dude. I’m floating. See my body down there? Look at her, she’s beautiful.

Inner Critic: Who are you? Fucking Sacagawea? Come back down. You’re never going to be able to find your body if you leave. You’re going to float around up there searching for a way to get back until the end of time.

Plop… just like that she vanished, my fear and asshole Inner Critic won, and I was laying back down in my body, tears streaming down into my ears. I haven’t seen her since, nor have I experienced anything even remotely like that ever again.

And now there is, once again, beautiful magic afoot, my friends. Not just for me, but for everyone I know. Folks are starting businesses they feel called to start, I’m launching a website and a whole new chapter of my life, many are feeling called to be “bigger”, to shine brighter, to be more authentically themselves, and to stand in their power, some even feel  as if they’re just being led down golden paths of bliss – morsels of rich, dark chocolate being placed on their tongues while being fanned by gorgeous goddesses wearing shiny feathered headresses. It’s all good stuff, right?

Of course it is. Holy crap! Are you kidding me?

And it’s also really, REALLY scary.

For me, at least.

Recent conversation with the boyfriend:

Me: Holy shit, this all feels so serendipitous and beautiful and terrifying! Everything is flowing so perfectly and happening so fast. It’s magical. Can you feel the magic?

BF: It will all work out. I have faith in you.

Me: Yeah, but it’s all moving so quickly I feel like I can’t catch my breath. I know it’s good. It’s all GREAT stuff. I get that, but it’s overwhelming.

BF: It is all great stuff.

Me: Yeah, but what if I can’t keep up? What if it doesn’t work out? What if I’m fooling myself? What if the magic stops? What if…

BF: It won’t, you’ll be fine.

Me: Yeah, but…

Despite my boyfriend’s wise verbosity, I wasn’t satiated and quickly called a friend who would dine with me on the brunch of my fears with fist pumps and bacon thrown in for good measure.

We deduced that when things are going too well; when the magic is, well… too magical, we have a tendency to feel as if the other shoe will surely drop (and we’re talking a size 14 worn by a superstitious basketball player who’s donned the same pair since 1993.)

I have a sneaking suspicion that my friend and I are not the only ones whose monkey minds go here (and there and everywhere) trying to cling to the magic because they’re afraid it will disappear as quickly as 7-layer dip at a Superbowl party. And the irony is that when we head down this path of waiting for the Converse to drop, of fear and grasping and those “yeah, but’s,” inevitably the Converse is gonna drop. Hard. And we’re going to be smothered in foot powder with no magic to be seen anywhere.

Why is it so hard to stay in the flow and the magic and bliss? Hell, I can’t even allow my forearm to be tickled for too long because it just feels too good.

I’m beginning to realize that the magic is always there. It never goes anywhere. It’s just that we can’t access it when we’re bogged down by our lizard brains. Magic is simply our thoughts, intentions and energy manifest.

But I’d love to hear your thoughts on releasing the fear. Any tricks for staying connecting to the magic? Tips? Insights? Bueller… Bueller…