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Hard Truth 209: Why Thinking Big is Fucking You Big Time

Think big.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told this in my life.

Thing big. You’re not thinking big enough.

Like my big thinking is getting even bigger and it’s still inadequate, making it pretty much on par with my previous level of mediocre thinking.

Way to go thinking — FAIL.

It took me a long time to realize it, but thinking big is the thing that’s fucked me the most in my life.

So today’s hard truth is about thinking big and why it’s fucking you big time.

The Good Intentions

There are plenty of good intentions behind encouraging someone to think big. First off, there’s the power of shattering limits. Taking “no” out of one’s vocabulary and replacing it with “what if.” Both awesome things.

Then there’s the fostering and nurturing of dreams — you know, those things we all had before we became too busy being adults. Dreams are where we escape to when adult shit gets hard (read: ALL THE DAYS). Encouraging someone — and ourselves — to think big gives dreams a place to grow because another hard truth is that the shit we can dream up is generally way more amazing than the adult shit we have to deal with every day.

The Problem with those Good Intentions

But the flat-out problem with those good intentions behind thinking big is that they’re designed to fuck us.

No lube. And not even a quick wham-bam and you’re back to making sugar cookies in the kitchen before the kids come home from Robby’s house kind of fucking.

No. It’s a slow fucking. Still no lube. Because the shit we can dream up while thinking big and the shit we’re able to accomplish each day are two vastly different things.

See, I can dream up being an in-demand, award-winning actor who makes her home in New York.

I can dream up having a personal brand followed, loved, and shared by millions.

I can dream up creating a course that’s a bestseller and gives me the kind of passive income I’ve always wanted so I can travel the world.

But the bitch of it is that I have no idea how to accomplish those BIG THINGS.

Each day I wake up and look at the result of my big thinking and think, “Well, shit. I’m still not there. I’ve been at this for days/weeks/months/years and I’m still not there. This shit is never going to happen.”

And that right there is thinking big fucking your big time.

And I can tell you that every client I speak to in a Buy Me Coffee session is currently pants down/skirt up, bent over their big thinking.

The KNOW what they want.

They just don’t know how to get there.

Dear lord in heaven don’t I know how this feels. Because thinking big isn’t going to get us anywhere.

We have to think smaller.

thinking big

Think Small

I’m not telling you to stop dreaming. But here’s a good place to tell you how I feel about the word “dreams.”

I think it’s bullshit and needs to be dropped from your vocabulary. Stat.

Why? Because we’re taught that dreams are something that happen in our noggins. They’re imaginary. Unattainable.

So I replace the word “dreams” with “wants.” What are my wants?

Suddenly, they’re within reach, thanks to a little game of semantics. Undoing the head fuckery does wonders for getting shit done.

Now that you wants instead of dreams, you can ask a better question:

What can I do to get one step closer to my wants today?

The big goal is out there, but now you’re thinking small.

It’s like when a basket of sweet potato fries arrives at your table as an appetizer. First, let’s talk about how dumb it was to order a basket of sweet potato fries as an appetizer, knowing full well you were going to inhale the entire thing like a coked-up frat guy in a double popped collar in 1986 (this douche).

The bottom line is that you annihilated that basket of fries, fry by little fry.

That’s what your wants NEED — your annihilation of an associated to-do list, fry by little fucking fry.

Now, instead of going to bed each night depressed because those dreams are never going to happen and you’re no closer to achieving them than you were however long ago…

You’re 38 fries into your basket of Wants and you can finally see the bottom of that motherfucker, grease stains and all.

The Results

The results? Well, I see them every day.

I manage my life — and my client’s projects — fry by fry.

And each time we assess where we are, we’re closer. Shit gets done.

Your dreams have become wants.

The wants became baskets of delicious sweet potato fries.

And each day, we eat a fry or seven out of the basket until we get to the bottom.

Your pants are back up, your skirt is back down. Your Big Thinking got reeled in and broken down into steps you can actually manage.

Because the truth is — dreams aren’t manageable. They’re ethereal.

Big Think isn’t manageable, either. It’s waiting to fuck you because we can see it — we just can’t reach it. We get frustrated when we’re working so hard…

But we’re not working with purpose. With focus.

And that’s because thinking small is your Wants’ best friend.

Because when we can measure incremental successes, the world (our businesses, our lives) is a much easier place to be happy in.

or

4 (or 15) Ways to Unfuck Your Business

Are you wallowing in your business? Is it swallowing you whole? Is the to-do list and the shit-I-should-have-done-but-haven’t list growing longer by the day?

Are you finding that you’re spending more time dealing with shit than doing shit?

It’s top of June and the ass end of Q2, which means it’s a fine time to get that business of yours unfucked. As I’ve spent the past five months working part-time and am now at the point of re-entry into being in my business full-time again, I know just how you feel. My inbox has been neglected, I have clients I’m excited to move from where they are to “hell yeah,” and the bottom line is:

I need room to move.

Let’s uncrowd your business and get you that room. And as you know I loathe the listicle, this is more than a list. It’s a how-to on unfucking what fucks you.

Your Inbox is an Asshole

There’s no reason for something to dwindle in your inbox. When you look at your phone or you desktop inbox and you see a metric shit ton of unread messages and flags, that’s a YOU problem. Every lingering message, flag, and unread message is a problem that’s keeping you from doing the kind of business you’re capable of doing.

How to unfuck this:

  • 10 minutes every morning: It’s as simple as taking 10 minutes a day to deal with your inbox. First thing in the morning, before you start clicking the “reply” button or end of day before you close the laptop, go on a filing and delete spree. As a 42-year-old woman, there is little in life that excites me more than deleting emails and clearing out my inboxes (plural). You just might find that by doing this 10 minutes a day, you’re deleting and filing as you go. As a result, that 10 minutes turns into five and all of a sudden — whammo. Your inbox is under control in seconds instead of hours.
  • Hire a VA for a project: My using remote login tools like LogMeIn or GoToMyPC, you can have a virtual assistant file that Inbox 10,000 for you. While you’re sleeping or out to dinner, they can simply log into your computer and start sorting and filing away. You’ll return to a tidy inbox. Pro tip: Set up an agreed upon filing system before you unleash your VA, such as my sender last name, company name, or sending website.
  • Set up a subscription-only email address: Stop sending all those blogs to your inbox. Whatever your domain is, create a “subscriptions@XXXXXX.com” email address and use this to get all those blogs and daily news.
  • Unroll yourself: if you use Outlook.com (including Hotmail, MSN, & Windows Live), Gmail, Google Apps, Yahoo! Mail, AOL Mail, or iCloud to get your work email, you should check out Unroll.me. It combines all of your subscription-based emails into a simple daily digest that you get once a day. It’s free. It has singlehandedly made the biggest improvement in my Gmail experience, even beyond using Inbox (which I hate).

You’re Not Treating Yourself Like a Client

No matter now many times I write about this, it’s news to someone. If you say that you don’t have time to blog (GUILTY!), your pipeline is down to a trickle, or you just can’t get shit done, it’s all because you’re not treating yourself like a client. Every day, the first hour of my day is spent ON my business and not IN it. This has been hard for the past 5 months when I’ve been time crunched, but that’s when I should have been doing it most.

You are your first client every day. If you don’t spend time on you, who’s going to? This is the time to talk about the redesign or updating of your website. The graphics you need created. The eBook you need formatted. The drip campaign you want to create. The call with your personal ass kicker. This is NOT when you pick up your dry cleaning, troll Facebook, catch up on Twitter, or any of that shit. It’s about doing work that will build your business. Here are some ideas for how to spend that hour before you ever hop on a client call or hit a “reply” button to a client email. YOU are client #1.

How to unfuck this:

  • Map out blog posts you want to write: Make a list of topics that are burning for you today. Stuff thate xcites you, not shit you feel obligated to write about. Keep it in a place where you can look at it daily. It’s your treasure chest for blogging.
  • Write a blog post: If it takes you more than 30 minutes to write a blog, I can’t help you. Have a VA create a rough draft for you, do the research, and then send you the draft for editing, you-i-fying, and making your own. Get it up. Use Canva to create a custom post image without having to use lame stock imagery.
  • Make a plan: What do you need to get done in your business to keep the mortgage paid, the kids in school clothes, the dogs fed, and you out of the crazy house? Make a list, for all that’s holy. Every morning, cross at least ONE THING off that list. And here’s a tip: make all of the things on your list bite-sized. “Create autoresponder campaign” is too big. “Write one autoreponder email” is bit-sized, my dear. Snack, snack, snack and you’ll fill up your business.

You Have a Team Problem

Maybe your bookkeeper and CPA missed something and cost you a ton of money (cough – not that I would know anything about this). Your “assistant” isn’t assisting. Your writers aren’t writing anything compelling. And maybe your clients aren’t participating, redefining daily the term “out of scope.”

That’s a team problem. If you’re spending more time dealing with your team than doing the things that make you happy and earn you money, you need a better team. Your team is supposed to make business a pleasure, not take the pleasure out of your business.

How to unfuck this:

  • Ask for referrals: Reach out to your colleagues and ask who they use for what. See what names come up.
  • Interview: Whatever your state of distress, you are never so desperate to trust someone with your business without vetting. Schedule a 20-minute call at the bare minimum. Do a test project — small, manageable — and see how the candidate performs. See what their email skills are like when NOT in “applying to get a new client” mode.
  • Be honest: When my business money got fucked by the two people I trusted most to keep me unfucked, I was on the floor of my condo crying on October 13 of last year. I was gun shy about hiring someone to unfuck this unholy mess. I took my time. The person I finally decided to hire took his time. Explained things to me in English. Didn’t make promises and aid how things were and what I could expect. I was 100% honest with him. In return, I got someone who was 100% honest with me and frankly, it’s about damn time.
  • Need financial help? Bench.co offers online bookkeeping for a scant $100-ish a month.
  • Fire clients: Srsly. Here’s the litmus test: when you cringe to see someone’s email in your inbox, that’s the firing time. Life’s too short and business is too damn hard to work with clients you don’t love. Your shitty clients are your fault, Jimbobarino. No one elses’s.

You’re Stuck Battling a SHOULD

Shoulds are assholes. They look like this:

  • So-and-so has a product. I should have a product, too.
  • So-and-so has a podcast. I should have a podcast, too.
  • So-and-so has a webinar. I should have a webinar, too.
  • So-and-so just redesigned his/her website. I should redesign mine, too.

Catch my drift?

Quit trying to do what everyone else is doing. Instead, do YOU. Me? I’ve tried to build a product multiple times. I’ve never finished. I have yet to find THE product that would make me proud and not feel like a smarmy doucheweasel for putting it on sale.

DO YOU. Do what sets you on fire. You know your brand and audience better than anyone ever will. If you need help sorting that out, talk to me. I can help (and for less than it’ll cost you to waste time on something you hate, won’t use, or won’t fucking work). For me, I’M my product. For you, you might have that eBook inside you yearning to bust out and be read. Stop playing a game of keeping up and try leading instead.

How to unfuck this:

  • Ask yourself what you hate doing right now. Make the list. Write down what’s HARD in your business that you just can’t seem to finish.
  • Look at the list. Grab coffee and really look at that beast of a list in front of you.
  • Make a choice. There are only 2 choices to be made about anything on this list — Fuck It or Fucking Do It.
    • Fuck It: You have no interest in doing it or paying someone to do it for you. It won’t serve your brand and sure, maybe it’ll make you a bit of money, but it’ll eat your soul in the process of getting it done.
    • Fucking Do It: Put this task into bite-sized nuggets and deal with it during your hour every morning or hire someone to do it for you. Get it done already. And when you do it, it damn well better be YOU and not a rip off of someone else’s THEM.

or, for the SFW folks:

A Lesson from a Pulitzer Finalist Playwright

 

As these words tumbled so humbly from the mouth of a Pulitzer Prize finalist playwright, I leaned back in my chair. Sat up a bit taller.

Seriously? HE thinks he’s fucked something up every time he’s about to launch something?

That’s weird. So do I.

This is what happens when you pull your head out of your ass for a minute and step inside someone else’s ass. Wait. That didn’t come out the way I thought it…oh, nevermind.

Earlier this week, I talked about why your life is fucked up. Today, I’m talking about fucking things up and a lesson I had recently on the subject.

As many of you know (and for those who don’t), I moved from Denver to Chicago last year to return to performing after a nine-year hiatus. I’ve fallen in love with my new city — the one that has a theatre scene on par with New York and a network TV pilot scene that just passed New York’s. Chicago is a wonderful place to be. Well, the Goodman Theatre is here in Chicago and has earned several regional Tony Awards over the years. In fact, it’s one of the places where an actor steps inside the doors and thinks, “I hope to earn a place on these stages one day.”

That hope and many others is why I’m spending 300 hours bleeding, sweating, and crying in a professional acting conservatory this year. Five days a week, three hours a day, twenty weeks, for a total of 300 hours, I’m working. I’m a work in progress. I’m in a process with 10 other people and lemme tell ya — it’s intense. And behind it all, I’m running a business and trying to have some semblance of a social life and after a trip in an ambulance last week, I’m no longer enjoying anything in my diet. YAY LIFE.

And for all of those reasons, I was giddy with excitement when The Goodman emailed me and said — hey, we’d love to have you join us for a behind-the-scenes look at one of our upcoming productions.

A) Let’s talk about the part where I shit my pants. Out of excitement. It’s not something I do on a regular basis.

B) Let’s talk about what it’s like to leave your process behind for a moment and step inside someone else’s.

Why Your Process Needs to Sit the Fuck Down for a Hot Minute

We all have our ways. They’re precious, aren’t they? They get us through our days — those processes. They’re how we do what we do for whomever needs it done, including ourselves. They’re the reason we can conjugate words like ass cactus and still seem to get our tax guy everything he needs so we meet an April 15th deadline.

But there comes a time where your process (and mine) needs to sit the fuck down for a hot minute. There’s incredible value to be found in stepping inside someone else’s process.

As I was led up the stairs at The Goodman towards the backstage and rehearsal area, all I could think was, “Jesus, this is magic. Just act cool. Holy shit. One day, you’ll get to (maybe) walk this walk unescorted because you’re going to YOUR rehearsal and you’re working on a production here and ohhhhhhhhhh, a water fountain.”

I was overcaffeinated.

We were escorted into the rehearsal room, shown our seats, and for the next 30 minutes, we got to see creation in action. Actors going through scenes, collaborating with the director and playwright, trying things.

Trying things.

When rehearsal was over, there was a 20 minute or so Q&A with the playwright, cast, and director and at the end of an hour-ish in this behind-the-scenes wonderland, I was…happy. Invigorated. Inspired.

Here’s why.

Because we forget that we — our ways and our ways of thinking — are not the end-all, be-all. Oh, darlin’. I would like for this ot be true but in my most sugary of all native southerner tongues I do tell you that you and I and our individual nuanced and programmed ways are not the end-all, be-all. When you humble yourself by leaving your process behind and stepping inside someone else’s, you get to discover things you’d forgotten. Little things that lay around like dust bunnies in the corners of your mind because you were so goddamned focused on THE BIG THING. Taking a moment to watch the wonder of other minds in creative action is enough to re-invigorate even the most exhausted of creative souls.

Because we realize the value in fucking around with something. Whenever we see a keynote speech or play or movie or TV show, we forget that we’re seeing a rehearsed and orchesrated final product. To get to those end products, there’s a whole lot of fucking around. While backstage at The Goodman, I saw a director (the effervescent K.J. Sanchez) delighted with her cast’s wilds swings (and occasional misses). I saw the cast work through the same scene for the entire 30 minutes and it was different at the end than when it began (and for the better). I saw a group of people all working towards a common goal — this finished play — and having a fucking blast doing the work. There’s a metric ass ton of pressure on performers like myself to “be perfect” when there’s no such thing as perfection. We’re human and we fuck up and we fuck around. Our pursuit of life, the arts, and business would be far more successful if we learned the value of taking off the censor button and just seeing what happened if we did…that thing.

Because we forget what it means to lead. We’ve all had asshole bosses and we instinctually recognize the difference between bossing and leading. The truth? Some folks are just better leaders than others. While backstage at The Goodman, I saw a talented director lead. Actors were given specific direction, yet in a way that allowed each actor to make it his or her own. I heard praise. I heard laughter. I felt that everyone in the room, whether they were working at that moment or not, was present. When’s the last time you were in a room where everyone fucking showed up? Great directors and leaders collaborate. We forget what that’s like sometimes until we see it happening before our very eyes. At that moment, all we can think is, “I can do better and I want to work with people who are in pursuit of better together.”

upstairs concierge kristoffer diaz

Because we forget that no one is “more important.” The lead actress in “The Upstairs Concierge” is a comedic dynamo named Tawny Newsome. She’s commanded the Main Stage at The Second City for the past couple of years and is truly a treat to watch in action. Hell, this play was written as a vehicle for her by the playwright. But, dear sweet Jesus painted on velvet — during the rehearsal, there was no hint that she was the “lead” or “star” or any sort of pretentious bullshit like that. It’s comedy, which is all about timing (seriously). And more importantly, it’s an ensemble production, not a solo show. How much better would our performances, businesses, and frankly, lives be if we stepped alongside those who allow us to do what we love instead of feeling as if we have to be two steps ahead all the damn time? No one is more important. A show can’t go up without the whole cast and crew. Your life and business have a cast and crew of their own. Check in with that shit. Often.

All of this — it’s why playwright Kristoffer Diaz’s feeling about fucking things up hit me so hard. Here’s a man who’s had one of his plays recognized by the everloving Pulitzer Prize folks and he has a new play going up at one of the top regional theatres in the United States and he’s talking about how he has this moment of doubt where he feels ever so certain that he’s fucked something up?

Yes, he is. And it’s human and beautiful and hilarious and humbling and made me feel like less of a fuckup for feeling every now and then, after I’ve poured my heart and soul into something, that I’ve fucked something up, too.

Because I have. We do. We fuck things up. Yet we also fuck around. And how much more wonderful would this life and creative process be if we fucked around a bit more often? Took ourselves a bit less seriously. PLAYED. Discovered instead of thinking we knew all of the answers.

Which is hard. Because I know I feel like a sham when people pay me to know the answers and sometimes, I don’t.

But stepping outside of your process and into someone else’s for just a moment can remind you of things you’d set aside. Feelings you’d lost because you were so busy. Things you can improve (because there is always room for that).

And most importantly, perhaps, we can be reminded that if we’re not having fun doing what we supposedly love…then there’s no reason to keep doing it. My trip to The Goodman showed me some generous artists, willing to share their process with complete strangers (which is scary as fuck), and having fun doing so even though they had no idea how it all might go.

We should all be so fortunate to witness and be a part of such.

If you’re in Chicago, The Upstairs Concierge opens this week on March 28 and runs through April 26. Step inside Ella’s world, played by the humbly incomparable Tawnie Newsome, and laugh with a cast of A- (and B- and C-) list misfits as they navigate (hilariously) our fame-obsessed society. You can score ridiculously discounted tickets on Goldstar or through The Goodman box office. And if you’re not in Chicago or not even a fan of the theatre, that’s cool too. Find a way to sit your process the fuck down for a hot minute and watch someone you admire in action. Soon.

PS: Follow Kristoffer Diaz on Twitter. His bio alone makes it worth it.

PPS: Here are some photos from my evening at The Goodman. Check out the sheer joy present in this room filled with fucking up, fucking around, and all of it…done together.

 

 

Hard Truths: A Little Bit of a Dick

By the way, I wrote this crazy series in December called 41 Years in 30 Days. 5000 new subscribers later, I realized people liked it. What can I say? Sometimes I’m dense. You can read that whole series here if you’re stuck in a blizzard.

Last week, I’d met someone who had never seen The Breakfast Club. Which meant she hadn’t seen Pretty in Pink. Which blows my mind and honestly, I don’t need to be around that kind of negativity in my life. Which means she couldn’t possibly know about the horrific glory that is Steff, the James Spader Pretty in Pink character a-la-1980s with his popped collar and will-never-want-for-anything (except possibly a soul) self.

He was a complete dick. A dick you loved to watch because he would say the one thing that you never thought that another human being could possibly say and you could hate him for it because it was okay to hate a character in a movie. He treated humans he didn’t perceive as his socioeconomic equal as fuel, discarding their carcasses after he’d gotten what he’s wanted from them. That is, if he’d wanted anything other than to lay waste to them out of sheer sport.

A complete dick.

So today, I’m telling you a Hard Truth: sometimes I’m a little bit of a dick.

But I’m not a Steff-style dick. Who the fuck names their male child Steff anywhoo? How can I blame that character for turning out to be a serious dick with a name like that?

But I digress.

I’m not a Steff-style dick.

When you’re looking for someone to hire, however, you want to hire someone who’s at least a little bit of a dick.

Dicks operate with a level of honesty that’s rare in business. And maybe these people don’t go around calling themselves dicks (which is okay, I guess. Weird, but okay.). But they are standing at the ready to say what they think and you’ll never have to wonder where you stand with them.

I’m okay with saying that I’m a little bit of a dick sometimes.

I’m a dick because I say what I think and feel and sometimes, those aren’t the words you want to hear.

And here’s what made me a dick: I spent a lot of years NOT being a dick and watching the people I cared for most fuck around, fuck off, fuck up, and have no one in their lives to call them on their bullshit and hold them accountable.

Not that it’s my job to hold anyone accountable.

But if you’re paying me, I certainly hope you’re not paying me to be nice to you.

Nice. What a shitty word. NICE.

Say it out loud right now in front of a mirror and watch what your mouth does. The corners of your mouth pull back towards your ears. Your nose inadvertently wrinkles up. It is impossible to say this word and actually have your face twist into a shape that another human being would find to be soothing, comforting, pleasant or otherwise genuine.

Impossible.

Hard Truths- Nice vs Kind

So take that fucking word out of your vocabulary when it comes to behavior. Go enjoy a nice cup of tea but fuck you if you think I’m going to be nice to you.

I can be a dick and still be kind. I’d much rather be kind than NICE.

If you’re paying me to help you to close the distance between where you are and “fuck yeah,” (and if you’re paying someone for anything and that person isn’t helping you close that distance, why the fuck are you paying them?) I have no interest in being nice to you.

I do, however, have an interest in being these things:

Honest. I won’t sugarcoat something to save your feelings. Feelings are resilient. You’re resilient. If you get gut punched, progress comes from what you do after you catch your breath.

Direct. There are many ways to offer insight. Fucking around wastes time and you’re not paying me to waste your time. Are you? Jesus. Are you?

Kind. I want to hear your thoughts and feelings and offer you insight that takes those wants and needs into account.

A Partner. If you hire me, you’re asking for help. It’s fucking hard to ask for help. When you ask me for help, that means I’m in it with you. I’m not going to walk into the grocery store with you, fill up a cart full of things we need, and then when we get to the checkout, hand you the 20lb. turkey and the Costco-size tub of Vaseline and leave you standing in one checkout line while I roll the cart and everything else to another. I’ll pay for the turkey and the Vaseline and give you one helluva acart ride across the parking lot once it’s all bagged up.

As with anything in life, dicks come in various sizes. And yes, you can insert your juvenile penis joke here.

Which is why I say – when you’re hiring someone to help make your business seventeen different kinds of FUCK YEAH – you want to hire someone who’s a little bit of a dick.

I have no problem standing my ground and backing up why I’m making a recommendation.

I have no problem telling you that I think something is a bad idea and explaining why.

I have no problem telling you I’m not the right person to help you.

I have no problem telling you that you’re difficult to work with and why so you can stop that shit and get out of your own way.

I have no problem for not having a filter and telling you that things are either fucking awesome or a total shit show that demands your immediate attention.

When I look at people who have helped me bring about the most change in my business (and my life), those people were all a little bit of a dick. At the ready with a hard truth when I most needed one. Standing firm in their perspectives, helping me see things I couldn’t or maybe even didn’t want to. Not afraid to ask me tough questions even though they knew I’d be scared by the answers.

They were people I would tell “no.”

But they wouldn’t take “no” for an answer because they know that all I was doing by saying no was not wanting to really answer the question.

So – in a world filled with people who somehow make a living powered by mediocrity and copycatting people who are vastly more talented – who do you want on your side?

The person who will do the job and, in turn, help you achieve some mediocre, incremental result…

Or

The person who’s a little bit of a dick. The person who made you think. The one who challenged you and took the time to understand the consequences of this thing you’re trying to accomplish not getting done. The person who dared ask you what you really wanted and whether it was the same as what you say you want. The person who has no problem telling you that your website isn’t doing you any favors or your web copy is something they use in clandestine black ops POW camps to torture enemy soldiers. The person who shouts “WOOOOO!” when you finally unleash and say what it is you think and feel and what you hate and want more of because no one’s ever given you the permission to say it before (even though you never needed permission from anyone except yourself).

And finally, that person who was WITH YOU through this thing that sometimes sucked and was hard yet got you through to the other side and made you say:

Holy shit, I didn’t know this kind of awesome was possible. This is fucking amazing. Thank you.

I want the latter. Always. Which is why I have no problem being a little bit of a dick.

It beats the hell out of being an asshole for doing nothing except expanding the all-encompassing sphere of mediocrity.

or, if you can’t bring yourself to say “dick”:

PS: Occasional typos let you know that I’m human. The truth is that I care less about a misplaced letter than I do with being honest. If you find a typo, you’re my best editors. Drop me a line — and I’ll be grateful.

Hard Truths, Day 34: Remembering Why

Today’s another time where I wrote an entire post and hit delete. It was good, I guess. You would have read it. Or not.

But I woke up this morning with something eating at my soul.

Fifteen (ugh) years ago, I took my wasband (then-husband) out to dinner and to a touring live show for our anniversary. The show was STOMP. It was in the seats that night that I realized that I wanted to be up on that stage — making people feel things and giving them a physical and emotional experience like no other. Last night, I went to go see STOMP again as it came through Chicago.

Because I wanted to remember WHY.

I wanted to revisit what made me fall so completely and utterly in love and find that feeling again.

And frankly, I found myself wondering if it — that feeling — would still be there.

Today’s Hard Truth is about your WHY.

Well, maybe it’s about my WHY.

Fifteen years ago, I remember trying to hide tears from my husband sitting next to me in those seats. Halfway through the show, the tears just started leaking out of my eyes and I was so completely embarassed. There’s nothing about STOMP that is in any way emotionally devastating to the point of inducing a face-leak-fest. But I was so full.

So inspired.

So moved.

So energized.

So surprised…

That crying was my body’s only response to being so completely overwhelmed with gratitude.

Gratitude for this show unfolding in front of me that unlocked what I wanted to be a part of. What I wanted to create. Discover. Offer. Share.

What a word — share.

And fifteen years flowed by in my life between a stage in San Diego, CA and one in Chicago, IL, yet I was still able to sit there and bask in my WHY.

From nosebleed-level seats, I witnessed a cast of eight people so entirely tuned into one another that I couldn’t not pay attention. I saw them having fun and connected and joking and because they were so connected to one another I couldn’t help it but to be connected to them. If one person on that stage had, at any moment, unplugged from another, the entire show would have come to a screeching halt.

And I got it — WHY I do all of these things I do — from live storytelling to branding work to this blog to speaking to my deep dive back into the world of performing.

Sharing.

That’s my WHY.

Hard Truths why

Sharing.

I think more than a fair number of people go through life as either Givers or Takers and find comfort in one of those roles. Givers are notoriously horrific Takers and vice versa. When I witness sharing, I can’t help it but to be completely mezmerized.

I’m brought out of my selfish reverie and sucked into another world — one where I’m included and a part of and depended upon and affected by. Which is why I do what I do — I want to live life as a Share-er.

Think for a moment about the last time you truly shared something with someone. And I don’t mean a cookie.

What did it feel like?

Did you become hyper-aware of the world around you while seeing everything about the person in front of you?

Did you do something unexpected or worse (I know) feel something you didn’t plan to feel?

And when you shared, were you surprised? Did you find tears where there should have been a smile and an arm wrapped around you where there should have been just the holding of hands?

Did you lose yourself for just a moment and find yourself a part of something more powerful that refused to be ignored?

Well, did you?

Because if you didn’t or haven’t…you’re a Taker or a Giver.

I know because my weakness if to fall back into the role of Giver (and the associated weakness of being a super shitty Receiver/Taker).

Last night, I was reminded that my WHY is sharing.

Opening up, going for the ride.

Putting the lap bar down, tucking in my tank top so it doesn’t fly up over my tits (much), raising my hands, and riding the roller coaster.

When I share, there’s nothing impossible. Everything in those moments becomes even more possible that I could have ever imagined.

Sharing for me is about giving no fucks so someone might see a bit of their story in mine and give fewer fucks to the things undeserving of that limited supply of fucks and in the process, realizing what he actually gives a fuck about.

So today, I’m glad to remember WHY.

With life as short as it is and the days only being filled with 24 sweet hours, I know I’ve had more than my fair share of head-up-ass moments and the limited world view that comes with such a position. But as I sat there last night, I saw eight people share so thoroughly and completely that a house filled with 500-some-odd theatre-goers got to share as well.

When life sucks

When you’re a bit lost

When he’s mad at you and she gets on your last nerve

When you’re broken and beat

When you’re overwhelmed or not whelmed at all

When you’re out of fucks and can’t find one under the sofa to save your life…

Go back to WHY.

When we forget our WHY, we’re trapped into living a lie. And the only one we’re lying to is our own damn selves.

WHY. Three letters. How do we make it so complicated when it’s only three fucking letters?

It’s funny how I found everything I’ll ever need in so short a word. Especially when it just took me 900 or so to tell you about it 🙂

 

Hard Truths, Day 33: You’re Fucked Up

This post is the continuation of an insane series I did in December of 2014, which was 30 posts in 30 days to celebrate my 42nd birthday. Because I’m old. And it’s awesome. You can read the whole series here if you’re stranded in an airport or in a desert with WiFi connectivity.

You’re fucked up.

And this post is a love letter.

This week, I’ve spent four of the most grueling days of my life immersed in my first week of acting conservatory. The first four of 100 days. Twelve hours so far of 300. This morning, I woke with 96 more days and 288 more hours of grueling laid out before me, taunting me.

Are you strong enough?

How many more times will you break?

Are you going to cry again, cry baby?

What, can’t walk? Legs sore? Oh, waaaaaaahhhhhhh.

You’re fat.

You’re old. Holy shit are you old! Have you noticed how old you are?

You’re not nearly as pretty as she is.

You’re a fucking idiot for trying to do this. You know that right?

Every one of those thoughts ran through my head not just this morning, but every morning this week and on some days, more times than I can count.

On top of it all, I’ve been accosted by all of those thoughts and feelings and general messiness and I’ve still spent five hours every day working with clients and running my business.

Working in the aftermath of the physical and emotional shitstorm I put myself through every day between the hours of 10AM and 1PM (Central — like it matters).

So first, to hell with anyone who thinks that acting is easy work. Shitty acting is easy. Acting that people are glad they paid to witness? That’s the shit.

Shitty/The Shit — big difference.

Anywhoo.

Hard Truths 33 fucked up

Today’s Hard Truth is about how fucked up you are.

Because you are.

You’re not perfect and it’s about good and goddamn time you owned that.

Because I’m fucked up, too.

I am one not-so-massive, 5’4 (okay, I’m really 5’3 but I’ve been telling people I’m 5’4 for so long that I believe the lie and it’s only an inch and when I wear heels, I’m 5’8 with heels and hair so just back off and let me have this one), pile of fucked up.

My eyes are a bit too close. I have a scar on my right cheek from where I had a mole removed. The area underneath my eyes is hollowing out a bit because I’m on the other side of 40 (which many days feels like the wrong side). I’m 18 16 19  14  12  15 pounds heavier than I was in 2005 and there’s not a day that goes by where I don’t remind myself of that. My parents are divorced and I’ve never even known what an idyllic, Norman Rockwell family looks like and when I see them, all I can do is stare in disbelief because I think they must be staying together for the kids which makes me feel like a judgy asshole. My mom is my best friend and my dad is my dad and all I can do is love him for who he is instead of who I wish he could be because he’s never going to be that man. I eat my feelings. On the bad days, I drink them. Alcohol and I don’t particularly get along, though for years, I convinced myself I was a sport drinker despite every shred of day-after evidence proving otherwise. I’m pretty sure my brother wants nothing to do with be and we haven’t spoken in a few years and that hurts me because he’s the only brother I have but I can’t make him into anyone he’s not and nor can I force a relationship. My relationship with money would be sent to jail because I abuse it like Ike on Tina and expect it to keep loving me after the fact. The IRS hates me and the people I trusted to handle my business money have fucked it up so bad that there was more than a fleeting moment last October where I was ready to shutter this whole “business” thing and go make you a goddamned latte every morning for the rest of eternity. I wonder if I’ll ever find love again and with every date that implodes after going so well or even not (when I walk away or even run screaming), I think who the hell is going to look at this woman who’s made up of all of the above and fall in love with her?

And after I ask, I’m convinced the answer is no one.

My friends, I am fucked up.

But the good news is, so are you.

We’re all fucked up.

We’re messy.

And we don’t want people to see this Pigpen cloud of messiness that follows us around every day. Somewhere along the way, we decided that every day is School Picture Day and we have to walk around wearing the clothes someone else picked out for us with hair held in place by a curious combination of mom spit and gel and smile for the cameras…

when what we really want to see is the hair out of place.

The collar turned-up on one side.

The button on your blouse — you know, the one right across your tits — unbuttoned when it shouldn’t be.

We want to hear that other assholes just like us who have decided to run their own business run into the same stupid problems (time and again) that we do. Because we’re all assholes to think that this crazy thing called running a business isn’t crazy.

We want to catch that early morning glimpse of the hair falling across her sleepy, un-made-up face while she snores that princess-like snore she doesn’t know she snores.

That moment where you’re watching UP! and his eyes get glassy with Man-Tears inside the first ten minutes of the movie and you catch it out of the corner of your eye but you don’t dare turn your head because you know he’s going to get up and grab a beer if you do.

MESSY.

Fucked up.

We are all fucked up.

So, here’s to you, my fellow fucked up beings.

You don’t have to be perfect all of the time. In fact, I’d much prefer it if you were anything but.

Show me your scars and I’ll show you mine. We’ll laugh and cringe about how we got them.

Dare to let me see you. And dare to feel what it feels like to be seen. I know it’s scary. But is it scarier than the prospect of never being seen and having to live the weighty lie called “Who You Want People to See” versus the non-quotation-laden Who You Are?

Be fucked up. Only chefs fall in love with Teflon. And Teflon isn’t going to be there holding your hand to the last sweet breath.

Teflon doesn’t pay the bills (unless you operate a Teflon factory — is that even a thing?).

Telfon doesn’t win the pitch, get the second date, or share a dollar with man holding a sign on the corner while you drive by in your climate-controlled car.

Teflon doesn’t make anyone feel anything. It all just slides right off.

We’re humans. Shit sticks to us. Changes us. So let it and quit trying to sabotage your beautiful fucked-upness.

We all have a laundry list of questions we ask ourselves, designed to sabotage every ask we dare make for what we want.

What questions do you ask yourself?

My list is up top. So I suppose I should answer them.

Are you strong enough?

Fuck yes. Because my Level 5 is someone else’s 11 and nothing’s killed me yet.

How many more times will you break?

As many as it takes. And I’ll never pretend that breaking is a bad thing. Because breaks cause scars and scar tissue is one tough motherfucker that will get me through what needs getting through.

Are you going to cry again, cry baby?

Yep. While some people might think I need a Swear Jar, I’d make more money with a Cry Jar. This could be my retirement plan. I laugh-cry. I cry-cry. I cry to relax. I cry at yoga (mostly because I hate yoga). I’m a crier. WOOOOO!

What, can’t walk? Legs sore? Oh, waaaaaaahhhhhhh.

Oh, did you just learn that what you thought was your 10 really wasn’t your 10? Keep running. Keep pushing. That pain is there to remind you that your body outlasted your brain. Appreciate the fuck out of that pain.

You’re fat.

No, you’re not. You wear a size 6 so quit being a bitch to yourself.

You’re old. Holy shit are you old! Have you noticed how old you are?

Seriously? Shut. Up. And every time you dare say this to yourself, look at these two badass ladies. This one (born in 1934) and this one ALSO born in 1934. You’d be lucky to be “old” like these brave broads.

You’re not nearly as pretty as she is.

Erika — you’re pretty from the moment you wake up in the morning until you fall asleep at night and all through the night. And your face isn’t what makes you pretty. The brain and heart behind the face ARE.

You’re a fucking idiot for trying to do this. You know that right?

Yep. I’m a total fucking idiot and the good news is — I’m comfortable being an idiot. So, come at me, bro.  Tell me I can’t. Tell me I’m too this or that or not enough of something else and I will come back at you like a wildebeast hopped up on a 12-pack of Mountain Dew and prove you wrong, every time. Tell me I’m an idiot. Because that says more about you and what you think you’re capable of than it does about me and my talent.

You’re fucked up.

I’m fucked up.

And the day you stop focusing on how fucked up you are and start owning how messy you are…

that’s the day shit starts to happen.

It’s also the day you just might start to fall in love with who you are instead of trying so hard to show the world the person you want the world to see.

I love you.

Love,

My ever-so-fucked-up, incredibly messy, unpretty yet beautiful ME

or, if you’re brave: