Are You A Reluctant Rebel?

I've never really thought of myself as a rebel.  In fact, most of my life I have been pretty content to be a rule follower.  

Then yesterday a friend of mine sent me a link to a podcast episode that challenged this view and gave me the courage to try something that feels totally overwhelming and terrifying (that's how I know I'm on the right track!).

It shifted the definition of rebel for me.  In the interview, they identified a rebel as someone that is always looking for new ways to do things, asking themselves "why not" and as someone that is in a constant state of learning.  And I suddenly thought to myself...maybe I'm a rebel...just a reluctant one. 

When I look back at my life, the moments where I chose the unconventional or rebelious path felt the most authentic, the most joyful and often the most in alignment with who I want to become.

It is true that I grew up as a rule follower.  My mom was a firm believer in following ALL the rules (well with the exception of sneaking candy into the movie theater because let's face it the prices they charge are ridiculous!)  But I also always looked for new ways to do things.

When I look back I think my inner rebel was encouraged to flourish in the 4th grade.  At the time I was in a class where we were given lots of problem solving challenges.  

One day our task was to move balloons from one side of the classroom to the other using only what our teacher had given us in an envelope.  I don't remember everything that was in the envelope, but I do remember THE pencil.

In the envelope was a fancy pencil that I thought was really cool.  I also thought it would work great as a set of "chop sticks" to pick up the balloons, so I quickly broke it in half.  My method worked well, and my team won the challenge.  

But I don't think my teacher ever intended for me to break her pencil (In fact it turns out that it was one of her favorites...sorry Mrs. Adkins!), but rather than critique this approach she praised me for thinking outside of the box and my inner rebel flourished.

But I'm not a natural rebel. I like rules. They make my life orderly and easy to navigate. It's probably part of why I joined the military, but at the same time I have chosen some pretty unconventional paths in my life.

When everyone else was buying bigger houses with fancier things I was selling 85% of what I owned and moving into a 234 square foot tiny house.  As most of my friends looked at how to create stability in their work life, I was quitting my full-time secure job and launching my own business.  And as I turned 40 I decided to tackle the toughest physical challenge I've ever undertaken by singing up for a half-ironman (I'll keep you posted on how that goes!).  None of these decisions really make sense on the surface.

And yet when I have followed my own heart and passions rather than following the "normal" path,  I feel alive and whole. I feel authentic, stretched and complete.

It's not that I think we should be rebels that throw out all the rules just because we want to be rebels, but I am learning to be a "reluctant rebel."  

To me being a reluctant rebel means working towards living boldly.  

It means making choices that might not make sense to those around you, but that are in alignment with your deepest passions and desires.

Being a reluctant rebel means ignoring the little voice inside that tells you "I'm not enough."  

It means stepping into your gifts and talents in a way only you can do.

It means sharing my message with other women because I believe they are amazing, powerful and influential.  

It means trying new things even when they feel scary or overwhelming.

Reluctant rebels aren't those breaking the rules simply to be disruptive, but instead are asking themselves the question, "why not?!?  

If you've ever had a "crazy" idea that popped into your head that made you feel whole, excited and terrified all at the same time then you might be a reluctant rebel in the making. 

Ask yourself, why not?  Why shouldn't you tackle that athletic endeavor you've always dreamed about? Why shouldn't you start your own business on the side to give you a sense of completeness and excitement?  Why shouldn't you launch that non-profit that you believe can make a difference in the world?  Why shouldn't you take a few months off of work and travel the world?  Why shouldn't you....

As I continue to build this business, I am feeling a shift.  A call to encourage women to embrace their inner rebel, love their story and share their gifts and talents with the world.  I would love it if you joined me.

I'd love to hear your "crazy" idea....

Add your comment below.....

IF only______________________ Then I would ___________________

Are You Open to Change?

2017 has been a year of BIG changes for me.  As I was reflecting on my life over the last week, I realized exactly how many changes I've made in the last year, and it was a pretty crazy list.

-Got married

-Became a step-mom

-Moved to a new city

-Moved to a "real" house from a tiny house

-Quit my full-time job

-Closed my tiny house business 

-Launched my new speaking, coaching & consulting business

-Started professional speaking

-Started coaching training

-Sold a car

-Bought a car

-Launched my first mastermind & coaching program

This list represents some of the most exciting and stressful experiences I've had up to this point in my life!  

All of my changes made me stop and think about how often we are resistant to change and how poorly we sometimes navigate times of change in our lives.  Again, the changes in my life have been great, but they certainly haven't all been easy or stress free.  

If you had asked me a year ago what my life looked like it would have been very different from where I am today.  A year ago, I was pursuing my full-time Air Force career.  My dog, Rocket, and I were content with our lives in the tiny house (for those who don't know my story, I lived in 234 square feet for a little over 3 years...and yes it was by choice!).  I really wans't looking for a new life because I was OKAY with what I had...well sort of.  What I realized, is that while the life I had a year ago wasn't bad, it also didn't feed my soul or allow me to use my gifts and talents to impact others.  

Today I am married with two beautiful step-daughters.  And after 16 years of full-time Air Force service, I have transitioned to a part-time status so I can pursue my dream of building my own business that helps other women achieve their dreams and passions through entrepreneurship.  I am living in alignment with my values and purpose and that has made all the difference in the world.

As I've mentioned in my previous posts, the transitions I made over the last year weren't seamless.  There were some significant moments of fear and doubt that colored everything I experienced even though the changes I was making were great.  However, with two small mental shifts, change became exciting for me.

First, I started looking at change as an opportunity to grow.

The problem with change is that's hard to see what's just around the corner.  When we can't always predict the outcome or see the results up front, change can be terrifying.  We often view change as a negative life event.  Obviously there are times where change is not intentional, but rather situational (a job loss, the death of a loved one, a financial setback).  In those cases it can be extremely difficult to view change in a positive light.  However, the key to navigating change with grace and excitement is to view ALL change as an opportunity to grow and learn.  

My first round of significant life changes happened almost 5 years ago, and unlike the changes this year, most of them weren't planned or even really wanted.  5 years ago I went through a divorce that certainly wasn't on my bucket list.  I changed jobs, moved across the country and downsized to the tiny house as part of my new life.  Not all of those changes were choices I wanted to make at the time, but as soon as I started looking at them as opportunities to grow, it allowed me to move past the negative mentality.

I realized that the divorce was an opportunity for me to get really clear on the things I valued and get much more comfortable with who I am as a person.  It also helped me get clear on how I wanted to spend my time and money so that my life reflected who I wanted to be.  It led me to the idea of tiny houses and my eventual shift to smaller living, which allowed me to start speaking about intentional living.  That experience taught me that I loved speaking and set the foundation for my new business.  

These transitions were HARD, but they also gave me a chance to grow.  The growth I had during the hard, unwanted changes allowed me to become the person I am today and gave me the courage to pursue this more exciting round of changes this year.

When we can shift our outlook from the negative to the positive, change becomes a transformational event that allows us to become better versions of who we are in this world.   

By asking a few simple questions, we can help shift our mindset.  How can I use this change to grow?  What's one lesson I can learn from this change?  How can I use the change to impact others?

These questions are hard to remember when we are in the midst of change, but they can really help us experience change in a more positive light. 

The second thing I'm learning is to enjoy the journey of life.

The beautiful thing about life is that nothing stays the same.  We are in a continual process of change throughout our lives from a mental, emotional, physical and situational standpoint.  There isn't much that stays the same when you really stop to think about it.  After all, we aren't all still trying to learn how to walk or read in our 30's.  We probably don't have the exact same friends as we did 10 years ago and if we are honest, we probably wouldn't want to trade all of our life experiences for who we were the year we started high school (assuming you aren't still 15!).  All of those things reflect change in our life and they are all part of our journey.  

Allowing ourselves to enjoy the journey makes things so much less stressful and so much more exciting.  Sometimes being in our routines and doing things the same way as we did last year is good.  Routines give us predictability and stability, but the downside to routines is they can often take over without us realizing it.  When we start avoiding change our lives become stagnant and often pretty boring.

I am challenging you to enjoy the journey of change.  When we start looking at change as a positive force for growth it allows us to really enjoy the process.  That's not to say every minute is blissful, it's certainly not, even when the change is entirely positive, but it does mean we can enjoy who we are becoming and what we are learning.

Ask yourselves the following questions: What change is going on in your life right now?  Are you enjoying the journey?  How would it change your experience if you looked at the change as an adventure?

I'd love to hear about your thoughts on this post, please share your comments below.

Are You Thankful or Grateful?

Thanksgiving always provides a great opportunity to slow down and think about what we are thankful for in our lives.  If you are like most people, you probably make a quick list in your head of the things that you have in your life that makes it a little bit better around this time of year.  

My family even has a tradition of going around the table during our Thanksgiving meal and listing one or two things we are thankful for each year.  It's a great way acknowledge the things in our lives that make us smile.  In the past, my list of things I am thankful for included my family, friends, my home, my dog, the yummy food we were eating...you get the idea.  

These were all awesome things, but I think if I'm totally honest it was just a list that I made on Thanksgiving day (usually as the person in front of me was answering the question...shh don't tell my family).  I was absolutely thankful in the moment, but I'm not sure it really carried forward in my day-to-day life or had a lasting impact.

So what if this year instead of being just thankful we were grateful?  

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, there is a subte difference between being thankful and being grateful.  When we are thankful we are acknowledging the benefits something provides us.  This is how we end up with our laundry list at Thanksgiving dinners.  We list the things in our lives that simply bring us a benefit of some sort.

But when we are grateful, we aren't simply conscious of what is happening in our lives, instead we are appreciative of the benefits received.  That appreciation makes all the difference in the world.

Appreciation means that we are not only aware of the things we are thankful for, but also really intentional about acknowledging how those things are impacting our lives in a positive way.  When we are grateful for the things in our lives it allows us to really receive the gifts of friendship and love.  It allows us to slow down enough to be present in the moment and take joy in the little things in life.  Being grateful allows us to live more joyful and purposeful lives.

It's so easy for us to get caught up in the negative events in life.  It's easy to look at our day and focus on the things that didn't go quite like we planned.  This mentality makes it really hard to be thankful or grateful.  As Janice Kaplan points out in her amazing book The Gratitude Diaries, "Announce too often that you're miserable, and you begin to believe you are."  Nothing could be more true!  

But what if we could make conscious choices to make ourselves more grateful on a daily basis?  How would that change our experience of this world?

The beauty of gratitude is it allows us to change our perspective and attitude.  When we consciously choose contentment and gratitude we open ourselves up to lives that our so much more enriching and rewarding.  Science has proven over and over again that people who are more grateful are generally happier, less stressed and less likely to suffer from depression.  I don't know about you, but those all sound like really good things!

Here are four simple steps you can take to cultivate an attitude of gratitude:

1. Make a gratitude list each day - By writing down a few things each day we are grateful for we can begin to change our perspective about our lives.  Instead of scanning our environment for things that aren't going quite like we hoped, we begin to scan our world for the things that bring us joy and contentment.  

It doesn't matter when you make this list or how you make it.  You can make this list in the morning to start you off on the right foot or in the evening to improve your sense of well-being before you go to bed each night.  You can record your thoughts in your phone as things happen during the day or in a beautiful journal that you can review and reflect on from time to time.  There's not right way to make the list, but the process of making it will improve your sense of gratefulness.

2. Reframe your experiences - There are some times where simply changing our mindset can allow us to be more grateful for our every day experiences.  There is an amazing quote in Hamlet that states: "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."  This such an obvious truth that it's easy to forget.  Our perception of our situation is what makes it good or bad.  

If we look for the positive in every experience we have we change our experience and by changing our mindset.  It's so important to remember that we can't always change the events in our life, but we can change our response.  One of my coaches says it like this, E+R=O.  In this formula events plus our responses equals the outcome. 

We can't always control the things or events we experience, but we ALWAYS have control over our response, which creates the outcome we experience.  Ask yourself how you can reframe the events in your life to create better outcomes for you and your family.

3. Choose experiences rather than things - If you are looking for a sure fire way to cultivate more gratitude try to focus on having experiences rather than acquiring things.  When we stop and look at our lives for the things that added value, it is likely that our time with family,  a great vacation or a fun concert come out way ahead of the new iPhone or outfit we bought.  

The things we buy lose their novelty shortly after we buy them, which means even though we might get joy from the initial purchase and enjoy the idea of owning them, the long-term emotional benefit is limited.  In contrast, most of our experiences get better over time.  

Think about the great memories you have from the vacation you took and think about the joy you can still experience by recalling the time with family or friends.  Experiences naturally make us more grateful for our lives.  So what experiences can you pursue on an annual, monthly or weekly basis to boost your gratitude and happiness?   

4. Don't save gratitude for Thanksgiving!  - I don't know about you, but I don't want to wait for Thanksgiving each year to experience the positive benefits of gratitude.  When we appreciate what we have (being Grateful!), we are less likely to be unhappy.  The more you focus on the things you are grateful for, the more content you become.

Let's make 2018 a year of Gratitude!  

I'd love to hear some ideas of how you practice gratitude in your life, share in the comments below.