The emperor wears no clothes

It’s cold — as in air-conditioning cold — in the hotel conference room. I’m gathered with a bunch of other women at a self-development conference, and we’ve been picking apart our lives (in between shivering or baking) all weekend.

Many of the women are coaches. In fact, I’d say 80% are, which is why this weekend has been so difficult for us.

You know the old saying: “The emperor has no clothes”? It refers to a fairy tale in which an emperor is hoodwinked into believing that two tailors have made him the most handsome outfit in the world. However, if you’re stupid or ignorant, he’s told, you can’t see the clothes. Of course, this is all bullshit and the tailors made nothing. The emperor walks naked down the street in a procession, yet all his townsfolk except one honest child are afraid to say what they really see.

Today we use this phrase to mean that we sometimes portray things about ourselves to others that are deeply untrue, because we’ve hoodwinked our own selves into believing them. It means we can be hypocrites, that we’re false under our own words.

I find that coaches often carry this energy in their own Flow. It’s embarrassing. Here we are, leading people into knowledge and guiding them toward their desires, while our own desires are unfulfilled and we fail to follow our own advice.

Think: the plumber whose own pipes are always broken. The accountant whose own accounts are a mess. You get the idea.

The question is: Does this mean we’re truly illegitimate? Hypocritical? Are we sipping our own Kool Aid? Are we wearing no clothes?

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Will I live five more years or fifty?

You know that feeling when you haven’t talked to someone in a long time, and each time you try . . . you think about how awful you’ve been that you haven’t talked to them in so long?

And so your fingers stick on the keyboard, and the phone remains untouched in your purse or pocket. You just don’t know what to say. How do you begin?

That’s how I feel now.

I left you all somewhere in the middle of December, after my last chemo, bald and floppy and utterly wiped out. And then … silence. Nine months of it. Holy cow. Where have I been? Where did my life go? Where has yours gone?

Here a brief catching up: I’m in remission from Stage 2 breast cancer. I had six months of chemo, two months of daily radiation, three months of lymphedema therapy, and three surgeries in just about one year. Add on heapings of the alternative therapies and healings (herbs, qi gong, acupuncture, Reiki, rebounding, juicing, shamanic journeying, and emotional cleansing) and you can see how busy I’ve been.

Being sick and getting well can really take up your life.

Right now, it’s a gorgeous Sunday morning. My orange and pink roses are firing off blooms in front of my window, my family are all still asleep, and I feel like I’m just waking up.

I mean, really waking up.

Waking back into life.

I’ve leaned a hella lot about cancer this year. And I’ve learned even more about the way we think, feel, and anticipate (or brace for) life. My own personal life goals jumped tracks and landed in all new territory.

“Go with the Flow” has a much richer, deeper meaning.

The concept of manifesting is much more nuanced and interesting.

One thing I learned is that cancer, or any illness that can come back, plays with your head. Is it gone or isn’t it? Am I safe or am I still in danger? Will my body cooperate, or is it going to kill me?

I jokingly refer to this dynamic, and the uncertainty that’s always bubbling below the surface, as the 5-year and 50-year plan. (My husband hates it when I talk about this, because it’s … you know … talking about death.)

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As elusive as a unicorn

Lately I’ve been thinking that our search for balance is right up there with finding a unicorn prancing in our back yard.

We all yak about being in balance as the Holy Grail of personal growth, but most of us never get close to having it. Why is that?

As in: “I’d love for my life to be in balance. Because OMG I’m so stressed out!”

But somehow, finding that balance is as elusive as ever. No Holy Grail. No 4-leaf clover. No unicorns.

This year, I found balance. It was unexpected. And more surprising was what I didn’t have to lose to get it.

Here’s how the conversation about balance goes:

YOU: “I am SO overwhelmed. I just need more balance in my life!!’

ME: “Why don’t you just get your life in balance right now?”

“What, now? I can’t do it now. I have two papers due, my daughter’s school called because they found her with a vape pen if-you-can-believe-that, and if I don’t get some cash flow I’m going, I’m going to max out the credit card I need to pay for some medical bills!”

“OK, so it sounds like you can’t stop for balance or really bad things will happen, right?”

“Yeah that’s about it.”

“So when will you get some balance going?”

“As soon as I get through all this.”

“And when is that?”

“I don’t know.”

The problem is that balance becomes an ideal — something you can’t have until you’ve done all the hard work getting there.

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Ms. Goalypants

Hey there, Ms. Goaly-pants. Ease up.

If January (and all its goal-setting hoohaw) is sitting hard on your heart, then here is a reframe.

Relax. Breathe.

Most of us tend to overcomplicate everything because we’re driven by lack-thinking. And so we spend our days trying to be super on top of everything so nothing bad will happen. It’s frickin’ exhausting.

Now add those new January goals to the list. Arggh! Do you see why you don’t keep them?

The idea of living in a state of ease has become an ideal for most of us. Instead, it’s all: Goals! Work! Goals! Work!

Letting go and trusting Flow is apparently only what you get to do when you retire. (As in: hard work, frustration, and sacrifice now . . . ease later.)

Overcommitted exhaustion and continuously feeling behind or “not as good as”become the default energies that show up in every area of our life. And, instead of ending up successful, we end up burned out, cranky, unhealthy, and often with lower self-esteem than when we started.

Here’s the email that provoked this thought in me:

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My meltdown friends

The first email I read today is a friend’s “so-called” business newsletter. She usually hardly ever talks about business in it.

Instead, she’s typically describing her latest break up drama, or how her company is reinventing itself in perfect syncopation with her own internal reinvention, which happens dramatically around every six months. Her newsletter stays juicy.

I love it.

I’ve realized that the three newsletters I read most often are all from women who tell me about their kids, husbands, and lives more than anything else.

There’s the corporate woman with the farmer husband. And the Australian woman who keeps moving houses every year, always searching for the better place to be, dragging her husband and kiddos with her. And the entrepreneurial lawyer who’s a Burning Man devotee.

I realize that even though I’m reading their emails just to find the juicy scoop on what’s going on in their world, they somehow slip in their business messages too.

In fact it deepens their validity that I can watch them build and run hugely successful businesses exactly while all their head and heart drama unfolds.

It’s not a slow train wreck…it’s a slow train assembly, and they’re simply handling all the routine fallout from life as they continuously assemble their dreams.

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