Learn how to stay.

“To get free, learn how to stay.”

~ Laura McKowen

I have to practice this over and over and over and over. To just stay. Right where I am, with what I’m feeling. Which, over the last few days, has been bubbling anxiety and not-very-grounded-ness. I’ve got a talk coming up on Saturday and I’m really fucking nervous. I’m also currently in the UK and have been away from my kid for 8 days (and counting) and I’m missing him like mad. I’m out of my groove, my flow, my routine, you know? My impulse is to run. Not physically, but emotionally. I can’t bear it. I want to numb out; with wine, with Netflix, with food, with anything that’ll somehow remove me from the nerves and the missing and the shakiness. But I’m staying because I’ve learned that although it’s not the easiest way, it’s the place that ultimately soothes and points me to freedom.

It’s the place that teaches me to curiously observe what the bugger is going on in my head without responding to it with 4 giant-ass glasses of wine (I’ve not drunk alcohol for 10 months now, and I’ve never felt more clear and energised).

It’s the place where I get to meet the part of myself that I find the most challenging—the messy, scrappy, complicated, wonky part of me. I’m all, “Hey Liz, I know you’re all jangly and ARGHHH right now, but you’re just going to have to tolerate it, my friend. Just stay. Don’t run. It won’t help, not in the long-run. Sit with it.”

I said the same to a dear client this morning. She gets anxious too. I said, “Can you just sit with it, instead of moving away?” And she said, “Urgh, I’m trying, but it’s so hard.”

I nodded my head.

It is hard.

As hell.

But it’s worth it. Because when I’m bumping up against myself and scared and unsure, it means I’m not stagnating and I’m not stuck and I’m not bored. It means I am living and learning. I’m not just bumbling along. And I know it sounds a cliche and cheesy, but doing stuff that scares you, that challenges you, that makes you want to climb out of your own skin, is ultimately good for you. Because it means you’re alive and growing.

Learn how to stay. Over and over and over.

By |2017-10-11T10:23:41+00:0011 October 2017|

Begging for bottles.

I’m sitting on the 13.08 train from Cologne, travelling back home, earphones in, listening to one of my favourite podcasts.

The train is packed with people. Knees crushed up against suitcases. Feet on seats. Heads awkwardly pressed against windows.

There’s some kind of commotion going on behind me. The people around me are shifting in their seats and craning their necks, looking in that direction.

I take one earphone out and turn my head to see what’s going on.

There’s a woman—she looks all official in her train company uniform—barking orders at another woman, a passenger, for taking up too much room.

There’s plenty of eye rolling and tutting and shaking of heads in disbelief from the other train passengers, mostly at the woman in uniform. She’s being pretty rude and obnoxious. Some people are kind of laughing, uncomfortably, others are arguing with the uniform woman and blaming the lack of carriages on the train. My partner, who is sitting next to me—and who has the strongest moral compass of right and wrong I’ve ever known—starts to declare loudly how the uniform woman is unfair and how she can’t believe a human could treat another human being like that. I nod and agree. People around us do too. We all kind of join together in solidarity for the woman behind us; exchanging knowing glances with her and making it clear through our body language that we’re on her side.

The train trundles on.

The commotion behind me quietens.

People go back to looking out of the window or reading their magazines.

I put my earphone back in, and press play.

10 minutes later, I become aware of someone talking in a loud voice, maybe 10 rows ahead of me.

I look up and see a man standing up and facing everyone at the front of the train carriage. He seems to be making some sort of speech. He has a moustache. It’s the first thing I notice.

The second thing I notice is the blue jumper he’s wearing. It’s grubby and stained.

I take both earphones out and pause my podcast.

He’s begging for money. And empty plastic bottles. Empty plastic bottles are worth cash in Germany, you see. Around 25 cents each. You take them to the supermarket and get money back. It’s a recycling initiative. It’s also a begging initiative. I see this at most train stations and airports. Places where people are on-the-go and thirsty and probably don’t have space in their bags to take their empty bottles home.

The man continues to talk.

He explains that he will soon make his way through the train carriage and will gladly accept any money or bottles.

He talks loudly and confidently.

To absolutely no-one.

Because no-one is listening.

Which is probably not true: People are listening, but they’re pretending not to.

The same very-listening people, who just 10 minutes earlier had craned their necks to watch the unfolding drama behind them and had so much to say about it, were now motionless and blank.

No eye contact. No acknowledgement as the man slowly walks through the carriage, both hands open, palms facing up, smiling hesitantly.

Heads are buried in books. The countryside that has been whizzing past the train window for hours on end suddenly becomes incredibly interesting to look at.

No money or bottles are handed over.

Until he gets to my seat, that is. I don’t have any money. But I have an empty plastic bottle.

As I hand it to him, my hand brushes momentarily against his, and I suddenly remember a quote by Mary Kay Ash, “Everyone has an invisible sign hanging from their neck saying, ‘Make me feel important.’

I smile at him. He smiles back and whispers, “Danke.”

I don’t know if I made him feel important. But I made sure that he knew that I saw him.

It’s the least we can do for each other.

Human to human. I see you. Solidarity.

It’s a shame we’re just so choosy about who we see, isn’t it?

Over and out,

Liz xo

By |2017-07-26T06:41:09+00:0026 July 2017|

The wisdom of baby birds.

There’s a tiny blue birdhouse nailed to the giant cherry tree in my garden.

Inside it live a family of sparrows.

I watch from my office window as the sparrow parents work tirelessly all day long, constantly feeding their babies all sorts of insects.

I stood under the birdhouse yesterday and noticed that the baby sparrows have started to perch perilously close to the tiny, round hole that their parents fly in and out of.

I’ve seen this before.

Last summer, I watched some baby sparrows in the same bird house do this too.

It means that they’re getting ready to fledge.

They start to peek out of the tiny, round hole at the world outside. It must be mind-blowing for them. Imagine!

One day, in the not so distant future, the baby sparrows will leave the bird house.

They’ll jump from it, not fly, landing on the ground below, hopping to a nearby bush or some other kind of safe shelter, where their parents will continue feeding them. I read an article about it and learned that fledgling baby birds, once they’ve left the nest, spend 2-3 days on the ground before they learn to fly.

2-3 days of danger.

Especially when there’s a cat close-by.

My cat.

Who sits directly underneath the bird house.

Waiting.

Ready to pounce.

I don’t know if the baby birds know that my cat is waiting.

They don’t seem to?

I guess they are somehow wired to leave the nest, whether my cat, or any other sign of danger, is there or not.

It doesn’t seem to occur to them to stay in the nest.

It’s interesting, isn’t it?

Because as humans, it occurs to us to do the opposite.

We stay in the safety of what we know; in our version of the nest, and there’s no fucking way we’ll jump.

Even though, unlike the baby sparrows, there isn’t any danger lurking below.

Not real danger anyway—danger like the strong, crushing jaws and teeth of my cat.

No.

Our ‘danger’ is different.

It lurks not on the ground below, but in the corners of our minds.

And it looks like fear: Of failure. Of fucking everything up. Of getting it wrong. Of being disappointed. Of not doing it perfectly. Of it not working out exactly like it should. Of uncertainty and not knowing. Of being different than everyone else. Of being judged. Of being mocked. Of whispers of “I told you so.” Of  losing money. Of losing people. Of not being able to cope. Of not being seen to be coping. Of being found out…… And all the other wild and terrifying thoughts that race through our heads the moment we even consider peeking out of the tiny, round hole at the world outside our minds, outside our own version of our safe nest, and take it all in.

So we don’t look.

We don’t give it a go.

We stay where we are.

We don’t jump.

We fret: “Maybe I should?” “Maybe I shouldn’t.” “What if?” “How will I know everything will be ok?” “What if it all goes wrong?” “How will I cope?”

It’s funny, isn’t it? Because the baby birds don’t fret about whether to jump or not.

They just jump.

By |2017-06-26T08:44:28+00:0026 June 2017|

Are you holding it in?

I’m laying face down, arms by my side on a soft, plastic bench in my physiotherapist’s clinic.

My cheeks are squished together in the hole that’s cut out of the bench for people’s faces. I’m thinking that it would be cool if there was a television or something on the floor, directly underneath the face hole, so that I could watch a movie, like they have at my dentist, only there, the television is on the ceiling.

“OWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!”My thoughts about the cool television idea are cut short by the steely thumbs of my physiotherapist as she digs them into my shoulder. I writhe in pain. “OWWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAA!” I shout again, and she releases the pressure just slightly.

She bends down to my ear level so I can hear her and half whispers, half chuckles “Shhhhhhhhhhhhh! The people in the waiting room will be able to hear you. It’s not good marketing!”

She’s joking. But seconds later, when she digs her thumb in my shoulder again, I stay silent. It hurts. It’s not a sharp, intolerable kind of pain, but the deep, knotty, trigger kind of pain of a tight muscle. I squeeze my eyes shut and grimace. My head hurts from clenching my jaw so much. I want it to be over. The clock says 8.24am. 6 more minutes and then I’m out of here. She gets back to work, steel thumbs at the ready. Ugh. There’s the pain again.

Still I stay silent. Because she told me to be quiet. And even though she was just joking, something in me, deep, deep down, recognises that it’s easier and more comfortable, for her, and for the people in the waiting room, if I do not show my pain.

And we all do it, don’t we?

We’ve been conditioned to not make a noise, to not make a fuss, to dial back what we’re really feeling so that we don’t make other people feel uncomfortable and awkward. Stiff upper lip and all that.

I often wonder where our feelings go when we push them down and away, when we don’t express them.

Mine hang around my shoulders, I’m pretty sure of it. Years and years of being okay but not really okay, putting on an act and ‘shouldering’ the death of my mum is probably the reason why I am having physiotherapy now, 18 years later, on my shoulders.

I asked a client once—who shared with me that she’d never fully grieved the loss of a much-loved family member—exactly where the grief is, if she’s never expressed it.”

“Two extra, can’t-shift-them stones around my belly.” She replied. That’s where the grief is.”

Another client recently admitted that the half bottle of red wine a night she necks is her way of checking out of the distress and frustration she feels about her ailing marriage. “I can’t talk to my husband anymore, Liz. I can’t tell him what’s going on inside, I’m scared he’ll leave me if I do.”

Red wine it is then.

And it might not be red wine for you. But it’ll be something, I know it. We all have our way of checking out. Why do you think Facebook is so popular? Yeah, keeping in touch with people you went to school with over 25 years ago is great and fascinating and all, but really? Facebook is actually so popular because most people are addicted to it. The incessant scrolling soothes with a gentle, warming dopamine rush to the brain, ahhhhhhh. Do you know how many times I’ve checked Facebook while writing this? At least 10 times. Why? Because writing is hard and painful.

Life is also hard and painful. And good and beautiful. And hard and painful again. Sometimes all in one day.

And yet most of us don’t talk about the hard, painful bits.

We just talk about the good and beautiful bits (check out people’s Facebook pages full of photos of their amazing, #blessed holidays and sickeningly perfect homemade fucking salads). The evidence is right there.

No-one wants to see a miserable, we-want-to-go-home holiday photo, do they? No-one wants to see a shitty, thrown-together limp salad photo, do they?

Or do they?

I think, secretly, or not so secretly, we actually do.

Because it’s a relief to know that most of the time, no-one has their shit together, shitty holidays and salads included.

And it’s also a relief to know that life is hard and painful for other people too.

My private Facebook group is testament to this. The thoughtful, kind and welcoming humans who write and lurk there are honest and say it as it is and get real about what’s really going on in their lives. And there’s always someone who writes back and says “That fucking sucks, but we’re with you, friend.” or “Man, that happened to me too, how are you doing?” There’s no holding pain in over there.

They let it out.

And so will I.

Next week when I return for another physio appointment, if it hurts, I’m going to yell.

Fuck being quiet. On the physiotherapist’s bench (that should really have a television underneath it) and in LIFE.

Over and out,

Liz xo

By |2017-06-13T14:04:58+00:0013 June 2017|

Maybe you need to do this too.

I didn’t write my weekly email last week.

A few people noticed and wrote to me wondering where I was.

I didn’t have a reason, really.

Other than that I don’t always have something to write. It’s rare, but the truth.

My mind was a bit tired, you see.

Not in a wild-eyed “I AM SO EXHAUSTED PLEASE WILL THE WORLD JUST STOP FOR A MOMENT?” way (although sometimes, I feel like that too), but in a more “I need to rest and take some time out” way.

Time to think and potter around my garden and stack some wood and work out a way to save tiny fledging birds from the jaws of my terror cat.

My last two weeks have been a flash of visiting the UK and flights and getting back home and coaching my brilliant clients and making sure I am home in time to put my kid in the bath and read to him before bed (our current read is this book, which I think should be mandatory reading for adults too).

I haven’t had much brain-space for anything else. My weekly email being one of them.

And I am ok with that.

I wouldn’t have been though, even just a few years ago.

I would have pushed and pushed, demanding more of myself—while not listening to some very OBVIOUS signs from my mind and body—ticking off the to-do list and saying yes when really I meant no and adding more and more appointments to my diary and always being there for anyone who wanted to talk and signing up to run marathons and ultra-marathons with hardly any break in-between and working over-time and answering late night calls from my corporate job (and then answering early morning emails from them too) and, and, and……I’d then get so exhausted and burnt-out and frustrated and fucked off that I’d either blow up at someone (usually my unsuspecting partner) over something ridiculous like how she hadn’t stacked the dishwasher properly, or I’d find myself hysterically crying my eyes out after watching a video on Youtube about a tiny kitten that got stuck in a water pipe.

I’ve learned though, especially since becoming a mum—and as my coaching business has grown and grown and grown at about the same speed as my son (which is FAST)—that shock-horror, I am not a Super Human. I am not a robot. I am not able to Do It All and Have It All and Be It All.

I have learned to say no. And really mean it. To the ever-so tempting emails from journalists asking me if I can ‘just’ write something for them—with a 24-hour deadline. To invites to parties that don’t even start until way past my bedtime (I am a Granny, I’m in bed by 9.30pm most nights). To emails from well-meaning and excited clients asking if I can please just squeeeeeeeze them in for a session this week when I’m already booked out. To myself; when I’m hankering to get out of the door and go and run some local trails….but my legs are achy from yesterday’s workout. To alcohol—it’s been 6 months now—because I’ve realised that the day after I drink, even if I’ve only had a small glass of wine, I feel anxious and like shit.

I have, of course, also learned to say yes. And really mean it. To early bedtimes (I am embracing Granny-mode, I tell you). To daily big, spacious boxes of time that are highlighted in my online calendar, that are simply titled “Breatheeeeeeeeee” (and I do just that). To meditating each morning (honestly: it took me years of a love/hate relationship with meditation to finally learn to love it, and even now, it still sometimes makes me want to scratch my eyes out). To walking for 30-minutes each day (and leaving daily voice notes on What’s App for my friends). To spending 5-minutes after waking up, and as I’m making my first cup of coffee of the day, to write down 3 things that would make the day a good day.

Simple stuff, really.

But stuff that slows me down in a good, soothing way. Stuff that reminds me that I don’t have to go so fast. And that, yes my to-do list often feels never ending, and yet most of the items on there can…. wait. That everything gets done in the end anyway. That the world doesn’t implode because I say no or don’t reply to an email in 0.5 seconds flat or I am not actively engaged in a Facebook group I can’t even remember joining, or worse, that someone added me to, or I let calls go to voicemail (I rarely listen to my voicemail now—sorry, if you’ve left me a voicemail).

Life feels easier and lighter this way.

Less frazzled.

Less a million miles an hour.

More intentional.

More me.

I think this is what life is supposed to be like, you know.

I don’t think we’re designed for go, go, go.

If you’re feeling a bit frazzled right now, can you slow down a bit too? Juuuuuuuust so that life feels a little less ARGGGGHHHH and more ahhhhhhh.

Here’s to slowing down and being more human, less robot.

Over and out,

Liz xo

By |2017-06-14T16:21:15+00:0023 May 2017|

Do you feel this way too?

I’m in the UK at the moment.

I’ve been making the most of things I miss back home in Germany, like a decent cup of coffee and delicious food (I am not in any way suggesting British food is delicious by the way. I am referring to the restaurant and takeaway offerings from other countries like Thailand and India, of which, in my tiny little village in Germany, there are ZERO).

I’ve also been sorting out “life admin” stuff, like finding a phone plan that lets me use my UK phone in Europe without charging me a gazillion pounds to do so.

Standing in the phone shop, I was given the choice—as part of the new phone plan offered to me—of upgrading to a new iPhone—the latest super-duper model that comes in lots of different colours and is waterproof and, in a nutshell, is the best ever iPhone! My eyes widened as the sales assistant showed me the new super-duper iPhone. She explained how it has all these brilliant features and talked to me about processors and operating systems and IPS LCD screen technology and gigabytes until my eyes glazed over. All in all, I was informed that I should have the new iPhone because my emails and apps and things will load 50% faster than before and all in all, it’s a much better version than the iPhone I currently have.

I asked the sales assistant for a moment on my own, so I could have a think.

“Sure!” she said, in a lovely sing-song voice, “I’ll be over there when you’ve decided.”

I took my old iPhone out of my pocket and looked at it. I noticed how it was starting to look grubby. And how little scratches ran across the home-screen. I remembered how the lock screen sometimes takes a while to load when I type my 4-digit password in. I compared the weight of my iPhone with the weight of the new super-duper one. Gosh, how much lighter the newest model is!

“It’s all yours for just £15.00 more a month” said the sales-assistant as she walked back over to me, interrupting my comparison between the two phones.

My brain quickly did the maths. It was totally affordable. And for just £15.00 a month I would get a way better phone.

“I think I’ll leave it, actually” I replied—the words coming out of my mouth before I’d even fully thought them through. “I’m happy with my current phone.”

“Oh!” was her almost-incredulous response, “are you sure?”

“Yup, I’m sure.”

And I am. I like my current phone. I don’t need it to load my emails 50% faster, because they already arrive within seconds anyway. I don’t need more gigabytes, because I seemingly have enough. I don’t need it to be lighter, because it’s not even heavy.

My phone is ok just as it is.

It’s not perfect. It’s not the fastest. Or the best. It doesn’t have all the super-duper features. No-one is going to be impressed by my phone.

And actually, all of these things about my phone weren’t even an issue until someone pointed them out to me. By showing me something even better.

And it’s not just phones, is it? It’s a message constantly broadcast to us everywhere we look, everywhere we go. If we buy this shampoo, then we’ll feel worth it. If we apply for this loan, then we can have the holiday we’ve always dreamed of and our life will somehow improve ten-fold. If we drink this whiskey then we’ll suddenly feel sophisticated. Worryingly, it’s also a message touted in my industry too—I’ve noticed a rising tide of coaches telling me that I must be constantly upgrading my life! And doing more! So much more! And being better! And waking up at 5am and journalling and chanting for 3 hours! And making more money (at least 6-figures, but better still, 7!) And tapping into and unleashing my unlimited potential! And hustling, hustling, hustling! And following a 6-step plan to hack my happiness! And running my business with systems and strategy that will make everything faster! And more profitable! And more efficient! And! And! And!

Annnnnnnnnnd breathe.

It makes me want to just lie down and take a nap. It’s overwhelming. And exhausting.

I don’t need to be constantly upgrading my life.

Or my phone.

And neither do you.

By |2017-05-09T10:38:28+00:009 May 2017|

How are you looking after your hamster?

When my sister and I were kids, we both had hamsters as pets. I can’t remember what my sister’s hamster was called, but mine was called ‘Pocket’. Pocket was grey and my sister’s hamster was ginger and white.

We kept our hamsters in our respective bedrooms.

I took a lot of time making sure that Pocket’s cage was clean and that his little bedroom area was full of this weird cotton wool type stuff that he liked to sleep in. He always had fresh water and his food bowl was full to the brim with his favourite food.

My sister’s hamster on the other hand, lived in squalor. Its cage was filthy and the water bottle always had a layer of grimy film floating on the top of it, and I’m pretty sure she regularly forgot to feed it. That said, my sister’s hamster was the happiest hamster in the world. I mean, I am not a hamster happiness expert, but it seemed a pretty content little dude. She let it run around on her bed, and she would give it Bonio biscuits, you know the ones you give dogs? And her little happy hamster would run around her bedroom carrying a Bonio biscuit—twice its own body size—in it’s mouth. She would let her hamster explore and run as fast as it’s little hamster legs would take it and she was always holding it and hugging it.

My hamster, Pocket, rarely left his cage.

I was a bit scared of Pocket, actually. I was scared he would bite me, or he would run away and get stuck down the back of my bed and I wouldn’t be able to find him. I was also scared one of our cats might eat him. And so I left him in his cage, a cage that was clean and orderly and very safe. A cage that had everything he needed to live. Everything that is, other than freedom and fun and adventure and exploring.

Pocket regularly gnawed the bars of his cage. I imagine he felt frustrated and sad and disconnected from his tiny hamster world. I guess it was his way of dealing with it all.

I think a lot of people live like I made Pocket live (I’m sorry, Pocket). They live their lives in a way that, on the outside, looks pretty good. They live in nice, clean, tidy and orderly homes, keeping everything just right and how it should be, and yet their lives are void of freedom and fun and adventure and exploring because they value safety and to-do lists and having things ‘just so’ over actually leaving their cage and living.

How are you looking after your hamster?

By |2017-05-03T12:20:22+00:003 May 2017|

A lion, a tiger and a cage.

“I have built a very comfortable cage for myself.”

A thoughtful client said this to me in our session this morning.

Which reminded me of something that also happened this morning.

My mother-in-law took my kid to this kind of restaurant place that also has an animal park attached to it. I visited it last year, hoping to see the goats and donkeys and ducks that were shown on the website. What I didn’t know was that there was also a lion there. And a tiger. A lion and a tiger, each in tiny, poky cages, in which both these incredible and powerful animals walked the perimeter of, over and over and over and over. I was horrified and appalled.

I text my mother-in-law this morning, asking if she knew about the lion and the tiger. I told her that they both looked really unhappy and that I think having them there in the animal park is cruel and unnecessary. I also told her that once my kid is old enough to understand, I will explain to him that I think it’s cruel and unnecessary, (and ask him what he thinks.) My mother-in-law replied with: “Yes, they are unhappy. But they don’t know they’re unhappy.”

I disagree. Their behaviour shows otherwise. The way the tiger and lion pace round and round their cages is not natural. The way they hang their heads. Their hollow, empty eyes say it all. I am convinced that on some level, they ‘know’ they are unhappy, but maybe they don’t know why, because this life, their cage, is all they know.

It’s the same with us humans, right? Most of the time, we know something’s not right, something’s off in our lives, but we don’t know why, because this life, our cage—the safe cage we have created for ourselves—is all we know too.

By |2017-04-20T13:37:17+00:0020 April 2017|

Is this the most stupid advice ever?

“Live each day as if it’s your last.”

It’s really fucking stupid advice if you ask me.

Want to know what I’d do if I knew today was my last day on earth?

I’d hug my kid. I’d declare my undying love for my partner. I’d call my friends and tell them how much they mean to me. I’d spend time with my family and look into their eyes and we’d warmly recount old stories while flicking through photo albums and letting go of all of our past pain.

Actually, I wouldn’t do any of that. I’d probably do a shit load of drugs or something. I’d get so off my face I wouldn’t even remember it was my last day alive on earth and I’d go out smiling and doing the peace sign as I slip slowly into a state of total tranquility, like I am being simultaneously cradled gently by The Universe and massaged by the tiny hooves of awesome rainbow unicorns.

On a daily basis, and while I am still fully alive (hopefully for many, many more years), this is no way at all to live life is it?

I mean, seriously, if I lived each day doing shit loads of drugs? No, just no.

I was talking about ‘living each day as if it’s your last’ with a client a few weeks ago. During our discussion, she mistakenly said “living your life as if it’s your last’ which I actually prefer.

“Live your life as if it’s your last.”

Sounds much better, right?

Because this life of yours that you’re living right now? IS your last*.

You won’t get another. It’s a fact.

Here’s another fact: You will spend most of your life pissing time right up the wall like time will never end. You, (and when I say ‘you’, I also mean ‘me’), will waste hours, days, months and years doing shit you don’t want to be doing. You will also spend hours, days, months and years not doing the shit you actually want to be doing. Tick tock. This is your life. Just the one. You won’t get another. Every moment of time you waste is a moment you will never get back.

Over and out.

 

 

*Unless you’re into past lives and ghosts and stuff. Which is awesome. Email me. You’re my kind of person for sure.

p.s: In the next few days, I’ll be opening up coaching slots for May. If you don’t know why you’re spinning your wheels at work, rolling your eyes at the whole wide world, or wanting to bang your head against the nearest wall—I can help you. (There’s a lot of big-hearted, no-nonsense guidance included. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.) Book yourself in for a free introductory call here via Skype. (This session will give you a taste of what coaching is like with me and help us make sure we’re a good fit.

By |2017-04-11T12:32:40+00:0011 April 2017|

I am totally shitting myself.

“I am regularly asked to speak at exciting conferences and events.”

I wrote that in my journal a year or so ago.

I regularly write down what I want from my life. I think it was Oprah Winfrey who said “‘Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe” and although that quote makes me roll my eyes because it sounds so cliche and loaded with double self-development cheese, she has a point.

Some people call it “manifesting”.

Some people call it a “positive visualisation practice”.

Some people call it “asking The Universe”.

I call it “getting clear on what I want from my life and making it happen by doing the work”.

This post is not about doing the work though. I’ve written about that here, here and here.

This post is about me telling you how I am absolutely shitting myself right now, because yesterday, I received a message from a man I really admire. He’s organising an event in September. His message went like this:

Him: “Hey Liz, might you be interested in speaking at {exciting conference name} in September?”

Me, all easy-breezy: “Oh wow! Yes, absolutely!”

Him: “Perfect. We’re designing it this week so I’ll drop you a line. You’ll be a keynote speaker.”

Me, still all easy-breezy: “Thank you so much, you’re on!”

If I could bottle what happened over the next 5 minutes, I’d be fucking rich. I felt alive and energised and excited and incredible and ALL THE AMAZING FEELINGS AND BUTTERFLIES EVER! A KEY-NOTE! I’VE BEEN DREAMING OF A SPEAKING OPPORTUNITY LIKE THIS! I jumped up from my computer and danced around my office, silently squealing and not so silently playing air-guitar and punching the air.

And then, 5 minutes later, I started to feel scared.

The Fear crept up slowly; the thousands of tiny butterflies in my belly started to flap their delicate, exciting wings a little less and instead, they began to tie themselves up in awkward knots, moving together uncomfortably in a tight, foreboding mass before moving up into my chest, hammering away at my heart with what felt like wooden mallets, der-dum, der-dum, der-dum, der-dum.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck” and “I cannot do this” reverberated through my brain and I started to construct a disappointed but sing-song jolly “unfortunately something’s come up and I won’t be able to speak at your conference after all!” email in my head.

I made myself a cup of tea. I paced around my kitchen. I opened my laptop and Googled the conference and found videos of past speakers on YouTube. Fuck! They film the fucking conference! Oh God, this is getting worse. People will be able to watch my talk after the conference because it’ll forever be there on Youtube for anyone to see and worse, they’ll think I’m shit and leave a comment saying that and I won’t be able to do anything about it!

I paced some more, catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror on the wall. Brow furrowed. Fists clenched. Wild-eyed. Worried.

I walked closer to the mirror and studied my face up close, staring into my own eyes.

I smiled. Not a big smile but a smile that was enough for me to recognise and feel a slight softening wash of comfort and familiarity.

“Hello, scared you.”

I’ve been here so, so, so many times before. I say yes to something I really want (which is generally something that challenges me and shoves me waaaaaay out of my comfort zone) and then I get scared.

And so, so, so many times, I have pulled the handbrake in that moment. I’ve quit. I’ve declined. I’ve sent the disappointed but sing-song jolly “unfortunately something’s come up and I won’t be able to!” email because it felt safe and reassuring and the right thing to do in the moment.

This reaction is normal. It’s human. Our brains are wired to keep us safe and yet I know that when I live ‘safe’, I feel bored and unfulfilled and like something is off in my life that I just can’t put my finger on. It’s easy to sit on the sofa and sleep walk through life, right? And yet it’s much harder to get off the sofa and get out there and grab YOUR life with both hands and put some fucking effort in.

And I choose to put some fucking effort in, even though 50% of it comes with knuckle-white fear and some puzzled head-scratching and WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO YOURSELF, LIZ?

My reply is always this: Because I want it more than I fear it.

Because I know that the human experience is to find space for the aliveness and energy and excitement and ALL THE AMAZING FEELINGS EVER that rise from saying yes as well as the worry and the wanting to say no and the fear and the “Fuck, fuck, fuck” and the “I cannot do this”.

I can do this.

I can stand up on that stage in September and speak.

And so can you. Whatever’s going on for you right now in your life, whatever you’re thinking you can’t do because you’re scared? Know this: You can.

We’re in this together. Let’s do this.

By |2017-04-05T09:54:25+00:005 April 2017|