It's never a straight line to get where you want to be... not if your dreams are brave. If you're reaching out and achieving everything you set your heart to right away, I'm going challenge that you're not dreaming big enough.
It’s never a straight line to get where you want to be… not if your dreams are brave. If you’re reaching out and achieving everything you set your heart to right away, I’m going challenge that you’re not dreaming big enough.

Last year I read a book by Seth Godin called What to Do When It’s Your Turn (and it’s always your turn). It’s a great book. In it he talks about his views on entrepreneurship and how to achieve your goals more efficiently or… at all, really.

The main idea Seth wants to drive home is baked into the title of the book. It’s your turn. Now. It’s never not your turn. Do something.

This was revolutionary for me (and maybe it is for you, too). The desire to be “the chosen one” is universal. Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker, Cinderella, The Matrix, The Sword in the Stone… I could go on and on naming stories, myths, archetypes from all throughout the history of storytelling that point to the same need in all of us. We want to be chosen. And for some of us that means a lot of waiting and painfully watching while others achieve what we had always hoped for.

I have spent so much of my life waiting to be given permission to live. When I was a teenager, I didn’t do anything without permission. Well, I wasn’t supposed to, at least… so if I did and it ever became known I’d suffer consequences for it.

Those consequences reinforced the need for permission from anyone and everyone to be able to act. So instead of making art or writing fiction or doing anything that I wanted to do simply because I wanted to do it, I waited for someone to tell me I was allowed to.

Growing up, I had bathroom mirror fantasies (you know, where you lock yourself in the bathroom and have imaginary conversations with your reflection? Anyone? Just me? Ok…) that I had been discovered by someone who would make me a famous model, or actress, or just a member of a richer, more “hip” family. The keen desire to be singled out, to be chosen, has lived inside me my whole life.

What I wish I’d known then, what Seth Godin drives home in his book, is that if you sit and wait for someone else to pick you, the odds are you’ll never get to “go” at all. If you want to play the game, if you want to be chosen, you have to pick yourself.

It took me almost 4 decades to discover this truth. When I think about the time and opportunities I wasted by waiting for someone else to tell me I was allowed to live I get a little sad. How much more could I have done if I had realized early on that I could fill my own need by choosing myself?

You don’t need a permit or a blessing or any sort of permission to decide to take your turn. You only have to open your eyes and look. And then choose.

— Seth Godin, What to Do When It’s Your Turn (and it’s always your turn)

These days I’m bolder, I dive in and take more risks without waiting for someone to give me the go-ahead. I make messes and sing out of key and am publishing my first novel this year because I’m not waiting for anyone to say “It’s your turn.” I already know it’s my turn. I already know that I’m going to get picked for the team I want to play on because I’m the one doing the picking. I pick myself.

What about you?

There are so very many reasons why Amanda Palmer is my hero. The more I learn about her life philosophies and her journey to becoming the amazing woman and artist that she is, the more I wish I could have found her when I was a timid, broken teenager desperate for love and affirmation. Because though Amanda would probably admit that she was also desperate for love and affirmation as a teen, she was anything but timid. She was, and is, larger than life, taking up space in the world, making no apologies for who she is, going after life with every ounce of her energy and her fathomless heart.

If there’s one thing I want my teenage self to know, that Amanda Palmer reminds me of every time I hear her music or read her blog, it’s that it’s OK to take up space in the world, to make noise, to make a mess, and to be different. When I was growing up, the only thing I wanted more than to be accepted was to be noticed… by anyone. But I was so afraid of the negative sides to being noticed by the “wrong” people that I spent all my time being as small and undetectable as possible.

Amanda Palmer is the exact opposite of that, and I think that she always has been. I love her for the way that her music, her art, and her life philosophy encourages me to step out of my own comfort zone and to take up space that was meant for me. Everyone needs someone like that, a larger-than-life hero that inspires them to be brave. And the world could use more artists who make space for other artists, who lift others up as they reach for the stars themselves.

So when I realized that AFP herself had shared my blog post about not shaving, I want you to visualize exactly how that moment went down for me.

 If you haven't seen  Kristen Bell melt down  over the fact that a sloth was coming to her birthday party, I highly highly recommend it!!
If you haven’t seen Kristen Bell melt down over the fact that a sloth was coming to her birthday party, I highly highly recommend it!!

When your hero takes the time to not only read what you’ve written, but also to share it and her supportive comments with her entire network… that’s an emotional moment. I’m not even a little bit ashamed that I was so overcome with joy.

But I mean seriously, who could ask for a better hero than that?

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I had to schedule myself to write this post. Even as I’m sitting here now I keep thinking of reasons why something else might be easier or more fun to write. But I made a commitment to myself to talk with you about this. About Vulnerability. So here it is, in stream of consciousness, me being vulnerable, living wide open here for you.

Its kinda a catch phrase these days, vulnerability. Brene Brown cracked open a global conversation with her book and her TED talk. Amanda Palmer pushed the conversation forward with The Art of Asking. But what does that mean for you and for me? 

Well, technically it means it should be a lot easier to talk about being vulnerable. But practically we know that’s just not true. 

But what I also know is that if I don’t challenge myself to be vulnerable, I’ll never take any risks, I’ll never learn anything. And worst of all, I’ll never create or share my art.

So while I know it’s scary and it might hurt, I wanna live wide open. I wanna live in trust and share my true self. I don’t want to be limited by the safe option… I don’t wanna hide myself, hide my art, silence my own voice out of fear that someone might disapprove.

That’s what being vulnerable is. It’s taking the parts of you that you’re insecure about, the true and authentic you that you’re hiding and hoping no one will find out about, and it’s putting those bits into the light to be seen and to be shared. It’s allowing yourself to speak, to have opinions, to take up space. Your voice is important, even, no especially if it’s different from everyone else’s.

And let’s face it, it’s easier to share, easier to live authentically, than it is to hide. When you’re hiding, you always have to keep up the facade. You can’t ever let your guard down… But when you allow yourself to be you, you can let go of the personas and the mental barriers and filters that you put up. You can just be you…

You can stop living in fear of what people will think if they know who you are, or how to keep them in your life once they discover. Those people aren’t worth your time anyhow. Spend your time and energy loving people who freely and gladly love you back. You’re worth that. And you’ll find those people much more easily if you’re just being yourself.

Also, when you’re being vulnerable, living Wide Open, you can grow! When you hide, when you’re closed off, you limit your potential. But when you open yourself up, when you live life Wide Open, you give yourself space to grow. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can fill the space you give yourself to just be in.

Trust me. It’s beautiful. It’s freeing. And you’ll never want to go back. Not that you could if you tried. Living Wide Open, choosing vulnerability, it will change you forever.

Now, just because choosing to be vulnerable is easier than choosing to close yourself off doesn’t mean it’s easy. It’s HARD! It takes pain and effort and it’s counter-intuitive. Not to mention, it’s hard to be vulnerable when you don’t have a support network, even if it’s only one person… but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do it. It just means that you have to be braver than some others.

We can do this. We can be brave. We can live wide open, trusting the universe for what we need.

If you are reading this post right now and you are thinking how scary it would be to take the leap, to put yourself out there for the world to see, and you need a little encouragement, post a comment with your email address. I’ll send you a boost. Because I believe in you!

 Me and Brushy One String after GlobalFEST at the Mondavi Center on 4/7/2016
Me and Brushy One String after GlobalFEST at the Mondavi Center on 4/7/2016

Brushy is a new hero; I’ve only known of him for a few months. But I have to tell you, if there was ever an example of someone who clung to his dreams and made art out of what some, more privileged people might have mistaken for nothing, it’s Brushy.

If you ever think that you don’t have the resources to reach for your dreams, just watch this video… seriously…

When I went to hear him play last night, I was excited, but I confess I expected it to be a kinda gimmicky performance. Boy was I ever wrong. Brushy’s voice, his presence on stage, and the lyrics of his songs bespoke deep emotion and experience that captivated me and challenged me. If only I could be so lucky as to channel that kind of energy and passion into my craft.

I am so inspired by someone who would take a guitar with only one string, teach himself to play and sing, and then go on an international music tour sharing his gifts with the world. His passion and emotion make me want to jump up and dance! And then get down to work because how dare I squander all the resources that I have and let my own dreams pass by.

Thank you Brushy! Thank you for being you, fabulously dressed in all your bling and cowboy hat last night, singing your heart out on stage for us, not giving up your one string because you thought more would make you better… you’re amazing. Your energy and commitment to your craft are infectious. You’re definitely one of my heroes.