The Unlost http://www.theunlost.com Non-sucky advice on life, love and work Sun, 19 Feb 2017 21:40:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.4 On Love, Liberation, and Letting Go http://www.theunlost.com/relationships/on-love-liberation-and-letting-go/ http://www.theunlost.com/relationships/on-love-liberation-and-letting-go/#comments Mon, 12 Dec 2016 06:59:17 +0000 http://www.theunlost.com/?p=13595 One.

Before I met him, I didn’t know.

For all the time I’d spent kissing frogs (not literally, you guys), retracing every misstep in my life to figure out how I’d become the kind of person who just went on a date with an adult who spells “you’re” like “your,” and wondering with whom my next something-significant-enough-to-call-a-relationship would be, I had no idea it’d happen in this exact place, at this exact time, with this exact man.

“Need help setting up that tent?”

He appeared just as my crew and I pulled up to our campsite, eager to set up our home-for-a-weekend before the sun slipped down beneath the desert horizon.

There he was in front of me, tall and blonde and witty, standing strong like a living statue of David in the middle of the dust covered playa. Ok, so maybe he wasn’t naked. Or carrying a sling over his shoulder in preparation to pelt a huge giant. Oh, and his hair wasn’t curly, either — it was straight and windblown and —

Whatever, the point is that I couldn’t say no, you guys. Aside from the obvious, there was something intangible about him that drew me in from the very beginning, something that was as hard to resist as it is now to explain.

We finished setting up camp just as the sky faded to dark and tiny pinholes of light began to freckle the vast desert sky. A gentle dust storm swirled and swept its way along the horizon, hinting at a romance that was yet to come — incredibly light and free, dancing whichever way the wind took it, yet all the while grounded in the earth beneath it.

Funny thing is, we’d matched months earlier on a dating app, but never ended up actually getting together. It seems the universe was hell-bent on making sure that one way or another, our paths crossed.

Here, among a cluster of 150 friends-of-friends in Southeast Oregon’s Alvord Desert, it must’ve been time.

Starry desert sky

Our little civilization, Alvord Desert 2016

“Cook you a burger?” he offered.

“I’m vegetarian…”

“Asparagus?”

I laughed.

“I’d love to, but I have a few things I have to do right now to finish settling in. See you around?”

He nodded.

And he did, of course — see me around, in case you were wondering. After all, it was just the beginning.

. . . 

. . . . . .

. . . 

Over the next six months, we had a ridiculous amount of fun together.

We hotspringed and naked bikerided and mini-golfed and river rafted.

Yes, I said naked bikerided. Nope, that’s not a real word, but do I look like I care?

World Naked Bikeride 2016

World Naked Bikeride 2016, Portland, OR.

We laughed our heads off at things that no one else would understand, like hanging out a local laundry lounge just for the fun of it. So maybe we didn’t have any laundry to do, but somehow it was entertainment enough just to hang out and consume adult beverages while making jokes about ridiculous laundromat pickup lines we came up with like, “How’s your spin cycle?” and “Are you doing delicates today?” (Yes, we’re totally mature.)

At first, I was sure that what we had was “just a desert thing.”

After that, I was convinced it was “just a summer thing.”

Finally, I admitted that I had no idea what the heck it was, and that maybe I didn’t actually need to.

What a liberating thought: Maybe, just maybe, I could allow the relationship to be… whatever it wanted to be. Like a river flowing calmly to the sea… or plunging suddenly down a glorious cliff before splashing wildly on the rocks below… or, well, drying out altogether… its ultimate route was unknown.

Isn’t that how every relationship (heck, every single moment of our life) is? Completely unguaranteed and uncertain?

Yep.

So why not just let it be as it is?

Why not let it evolve organically, without needing to control it or label it or force it toward any particular endpoint? As long as it continues to serve my highest needs in the moment, why not just trust its path? Why not just let it flow?

Resting deep in detachment to outcome, I could fully appreciate him and the relationship for all that it was in the moment.

Paradoxically, with no guarantees and no expectations other than those we’d explicitly set between us, I don’t think I’d ever felt a deeper sense of security. I used to think uncertainty and security were polar opposites: In embracing one, you necessarily forfeited the other.

Now, I know that on the deepest level, they are one and the same.

. . . 

. . . . . .

. . . 

“He’s not, like, my complete soulmate or anything,” I remember telling one of my friends soon after we’d met.

“But… our relationship just feels so right in this moment. I almost feel like he’s in my life right now for me to learn something — to learn a new way of being in relationship. And it’ll last as long as it needs to for us both to learn and grow in the ways we each need.”

Sometimes, I believe, that’s how relationships come to us: As pathways to experiencing ourselves and others in newer and deeper ways.

The thing is, with him I felt — for perhaps the first time — truly safe in relationship. 

Safe enough to allow space, to leave distance, to let go, without falling into the clinginess and panic that had enveloped me in relationships past. Safe enough to let him do his thing without feeling an incessant need to reel him back in. Safe enough to do my thing without becoming preoccupied with and swallowed up by the relationship.

And just as I felt safe enough to allow distance, I equally felt safe enough to let him in closer — to ask for what I needed, to show my emotion, to trust that he’d respond.

Inside this container of steadiness and honesty and responsiveness, I discovered for the first time how it felt to maintain a sense of connection and a sense of self, something that had entirely eluded me in past relationships. I began to feel a strange sense of love and appreciation bubbling up inside me — one so expansive and free that it was as easy for me to let go as it was for me to lean in.

It felt like pure freedom.

With him, things just flowed. They were easy. They just felt right, as if for this period of time, on this place on earth, these two people were meant to be dancing this dance, coming together and then — when the time was right — coming back apart.

Two.

A week and a half ago, I didn’t know.

For all the time we’d spent together, all the adventures (& couches) we’d shared, and all the clothes laundering we’d witnessed, I couldn’t have known how it would end. When it would end.

I didn’t know that on this day, he’d come over and sit down next to me like he had so many times before, but this time with something different to say: That what we’d had was so special and magical and amazing, but it was time. Time to come apart. Time for him to make space for himself and to focus on taking his life in a more intentional direction. I couldn’t have known that day that he and his Movember mustache would walk out through my door for the very last time.

But that’s life, isn’t it? In every moment, we just don’t know. Like the intro to MTV’s Diary that I watched entirely too many times from the bunk bed of my college dorm room, “You think you know, but you have no idea.”

You. Have. No. Idea.

You know what else I didn’t know?

I didn’t know it’d be just as easy for me to stay present with this sense of sadness and loss and mourning as it had been to stay present with the relationship — or that I’d cry just as many tears of gratitude and appreciation as I’d cry tears of sadness.

I had no idea how easy it’d be for me to feel all these feelings so fully, and then to let them

drop

away

when the moment had passed,

like waves receding back into the sea.

I didn’t know that heartbreak, too, can be beautiful.

Three.

Today, I wake up and I boil water for my tea.

Back again to not knowing, the only constant in the lives of all 7.5 billion people on the planet.

I don’t know who the next person will be — where we’ll meet or who he’ll be or when or how it’ll happen — just like I didn’t know this time or the time before or the time before.

It could be in fifteen minutes or fifteen years, in my neighborhood or across the world. I don’t know how it will begin or how it will end. I just don’t know.

But what I do know is that perhaps for the first time in my life, this uncertainty feels more liberating than anything else — more like a source of great wonder than of great anxiety. My life today feels like a fantastic storybook filled with tales of love and heartbreak, of coming together and coming apart, of knowing another and knowing myself.

This joy and this pain, this constant not knowing what’s next — this, more than anything, is life.

And even with him gone, I still feel safe. Safe enough to open. To feel. To trust. Safe enough to delight in the slow unfolding that is my life.

. . . 

. . . . . .

. . . 

In 2015, Jenny Blake wrote a blog post called “Life Origami: Can You Delight in the Slow Unfolding?

In it, she wrote:

“Imagine that the map of this next thing you are aiming toward—a job, a business, a relationship, or another adventure altogether—has a secret legend written on the inside of an intricately folded square of origami paper:

  • Can you enjoy the discovery process?
  • Can you follow the clues as they reveal themselves corner-by-corner?
  • When you feel bored, impatient and frustrated, can you sit with your suffering and love the part of you that has such passion and desire for something?

I’m asking you not just to tolerate the at-times-painfully-slow unfolding, not just accept it, not just resign to it, but delight in it. Savor it. Appreciate it.

Delight in it.

Savor it.

Appreciate it.

Ahhhhh you guys, I love this idea of “life origami” — of letting your life unfold piece by piece, step by step, moment by moment, and doing so not with fear or anxiety but with a sense of wonder and curiosity and delight.

“Who will he be? Where will we meet? What will he be like?” I sometimes find myself wondering about Mr. Next Guy.

I’m excited to find out — but not so excited that I’ve forgotten to enjoy what is

right

now.

. . . 

. . . . . .

. . . 

Now back to you, dear friend:

What if the process of unfolding — even with every disappointment, every longing, and every temporary setback — could feel more like an exquisite gift than a burden?

What if you could replace your fear of an uncertain future with faith in an uncertain future?

Can you delight in the mystery, in the slow unfolding of your one-of-a-kind, never-been-lived-before story?

Can you fully embrace each chapter, fully tasting the thrilling highs and the gut-wrenching lows and every piece of the in between?

Go now: Unwrap the gift that is your life.

Never stop unwrapping.

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[Image by Bhumika Bhatia]

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The Earth Does Not Belong to us; We Belong to the Earth http://www.theunlost.com/social-justice/the-earth-does-not-belong-to-us-we-belong-to-the-earth/ http://www.theunlost.com/social-justice/the-earth-does-not-belong-to-us-we-belong-to-the-earth/#comments Fri, 25 Nov 2016 02:09:46 +0000 http://www.theunlost.com/?p=13574 When I was young, there was this book I used to read: Brother Eagle, Sister Sky.

I can still remember reading it day in and day out, creasing the edges of its smooth, brightly painted pages as my hands turned them over and over again like a song I’d known how to play since before my birth. Something about it felt like a poem to my soul. I loved that book so much.

It was a beautifully illustrated book depicting the last speech of Chief Seattle, “one of the bravest and most respected chiefs of the Northwest Nations,” before he sold their land to white settlers.

“How can you buy the sky?

Chief Seattle began.

How can you own the rain and the wind?

My mother told me,

Every part of this earth is sacred to our people.

Every pine needle. Every sandy shore.

Every mist in the dark woods.

Every meadow and humming insect.

All are holy in the memory of our people.

 

“My father said to me,

I know the sap that courses through the trees

as I know the blood that flows in my veins.

We are a part of the earth and the earth is a part of us.

The perfumed flowers are our sisters.

The bear, the dear, the great eagle, these are our brothers.

The rocky crests, the meadows,

the ponies — all belong to the same family.

 

“The voice of my ancestors said to me,

Every shining water that moves in the rivers and streams is

not simply water, but the blood of your grandfather’s grandfather.

Each ghostly reflection in the clear waters of the lakes tells

of memories of the life of our people.

The water’s murmur is the voice of your great-great-grandmother.

The rivers are our brothers. They quench our thirst.

They carry our canoes and feed our children.

You must give to the rivers the kindness you would give to any brother.

 

“The voice of my grandmother said to me,

Teach your children what

you have been taught.

The earth is our mother.

What befalls the earth befalls all the

sons and daughters of the earth.

 

“Hear my voice and the voice of my ancestors,

Chief Seattle said.

This we know: All things are connected like the blood that unites us.

We did not weave the web of life,

We are merely a strand in it.

Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.

 

“We love this earth as a newborn loves its mother’s heartbeat.

If we sell you our land, care for it as we have cared for it.

Hold in your mind the memory of the land as it is when you

receive it.

Preserve the land and the air and the rivers for your

children’s children and love it as we have loved it.”

Today, on a day of giving thanks, I’m choosing to spend the majority of my day in solitude, thinking.

I’m thinking about a lot of things: About the love I had as a young child for the earth, for animals, for the Native American culture. I’m thinking, too, about my ancestors and my own lineage, and how I came to be right here, as exactly who I am, on this very place on earth, at this very moment in time.

I feel sad about a lot of things happening in the world right now, and I cry tears of compassion and grief for all the injustice in the world — current, past and future — and for all the ways that I have contributed to them, directly or indirectly. I think about the history of our country and the future of our country and of the peaceful warriors holding strong at Standing Rock. I feel a deep need to honor and support our brothers and sisters in protecting the land and water that sustains us all. After all, says Chief Seattle in my beloved childhood book, “The earth does not belong to us. We belong to the earth.” It is an uncomfortable yet honest feeling to know that I am at once both a product of the Native Americans’ oppressors, and their sister.

I feel sad about some things in my own life, also, and I cry tears of unknown heartbreak, of felt abandonment, of eternal and mysterious longing. I have no idea where many of them have come from, but still, they come. And I let them.

I feel grateful, too. Grateful to be here in this home, in this city, in this body, on this couch, with this blanket and these dogs and this laptop and this mind. Oh, this mind! I feel grateful to have been born to the family I was, to have found the sense of community I have, and to experience the experiences that I am. And for all these things, I cry tears of gratitude.

I feel all these things and more. I cry all these tears and more.

And as I sit with it all — with this swirling mass of colors and sounds and sensations — I breathe it all in. I breathe in all the sadness, all the joy, all the compassion and the grief and the love — and as I breathe, my heart is at peace. In this moment I feel held by the earth, hugged by the sky, enveloped by the sun. The stars are my blanket.

In this moment, I know: I can hold this. I can hold this all.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I love you.

# # #

[Image by Josephine Wall]

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The Universe Brought Me A Keurig http://www.theunlost.com/suckiness/the-universe-brought-me-a-keurig/ http://www.theunlost.com/suckiness/the-universe-brought-me-a-keurig/#comments Fri, 10 Jun 2016 04:15:51 +0000 http://www.theunlost.com/?p=13538 Yesterday, something kind of amazing happened.

The universe brought me a Keurig — almost out of thin air.

I’ve been wanting one for awhile, actually — one of those sleek and glorious machines that spits out just the right amount of coffee for a perfect-sized cup. My old Keurig, a shiny red model that belonged to me in what I now refer to as “my past life,” got lost at some point in the shuffle of traveling and moving.

Since then — for four long years, no less — I’ve been coffee maker-less.

Given that I’m not a daily java drinker, I’ve been mostly ok with having such a naked kitchen — until lately, that is. Until I decided that I wanted to try this weirdo thing called “Bulletproof coffee” that consists of a buttery mix of coffee, supercharged coconut oil, and cow collagen. (Yes, I said cow collagen. Yes, you put actual butter in the coffee. And yes, it’s supposedly good for you. Here’s why.)

Creating this concoction, of course, would require owning an actual coffee maker.

And yesterday? Yesterday felt like the day. I was ready.

I drove to Fred Meyer. Stepped out of my car. Grabbed a grocery cart. Rolled up to the appliances aisle…

And I just. Couldn’t. Do it.

Call me cheap (or more reasonably, call me practical), but I just couldn’t justify forking over $150 for an overpriced coffee machine. I opted instead for a $20 old school coffee maker. “It’s no Keurig, but it’ll do the job,” I thought to myself as I drove home with a heavy heart. (First-world problems, I know.)

Little did I know that something absolutely spectacular was about to occur.

. . .

Later that evening, as I was about to snuggle with my dogs in front of an episode of The Bachelorette, something tugged at me.

I couldn’t explain why I felt the sudden need to jolt up off my bed or to quickly slip my shoes on and leash my dogs for a walk around the neighborhood — but for some reason, I did.

I’d walked less than a block when I spotted a box of items sitting on the corner of a quiet intersection. “FREE,” someone had scribbled across the box in thick red marker.

And what should I find inside this box of free stuff, nestled among a nest of t-shirts like a hidden jewel, but — I kid you not —

A Keurig.

Yes, a Keurig!

I could. Not. Even.

I could not even believe my eyes.

Needless to say, the cheap coffee maker will be going back to its home on the Fred Meyer shelves shortly ;-).

. . .

This morning I woke up and brewed a delicious cup of Bulletproof coffee in my new Keurig, savoring the smell of the beans as their aroma danced and drifted through the morning air. I sipped the creamy coffee from my mug slowly, thoughtfully, deliberately, as sunlight began to filter in through the window.

Leading up to this incident, I was just coming out of a rough patch. For awhile, I’d been stressing and striving and questioning: Why has life felt so hard lately? Why does it seem like no matter how much effort I expend, so many things still seem so far out of my reach? Why is is that nothing I want seems to come easily?

Why?

As I sat silently in the still of the morning, coffee in hand, gratitude in my heart, things began to shift.

In that moment, it felt almost as if the universe was whispering to me, “Don’t you worry, girl. I’ve got your back. I know you inside and out — so much so that I left you the exact model of coffee maker that you wanted almost right outside your door, on exactly the day you were ready to buy a coffee maker, at exactly the time you felt compelled to take a walk around the neighborhood. I know you. I’ve got you. I’m here.”

It was just enough of a sign to remind me that one way or another, my needs are always met. Big or small, everything I need comes to me in the right way and at the right time.

Not everything I want, but everything I need — everything that I’m meant to have.

At the heart of it all is trust: Trusting that the universe knows what I need (and conversely, what I don’t need).

Trusting that if I’m meant to have something, the universe can and will deliver — in the right time and in the right way.

And knowing that it’s not my place to pretend to know what my soul needs or what the right time or the right way is; it is simply my place to open. To deepen. To trust. To listen.

And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing to remember.

My "new" Keurig

Universe,

I trust you.

I love you.

Thank you.

XoXo,

Therese

# # #

[Photo by Hokan Dahlström]

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Why I’m Pressing “Pause” on The Unlost http://www.theunlost.com/uncategorized/why-im-pressing-pause-on-the-unlost/ http://www.theunlost.com/uncategorized/why-im-pressing-pause-on-the-unlost/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 20:01:05 +0000 http://www.theunlost.com/?p=13490 Hey there, glorious and spectacular reader,

I made this announcement several months ago to my email list, but I thought I’d post it here on my blog, too. You know, just to be official.

If you’re a regular blog reader of mine, you may have noticed something unusual over the past several months: I haven’t been writing on my blog lately. Like, not at all.

You may be wondering where I’ve gone.

Have I been swept off my feet into a whirlwind romance?

Have I been eaten by hungry alligators?

Am I quitting The Unlost?

No, no, and hell no.

The truth is, though, I’m pressing “pause” for awhile.

Because I need some time and space to breathe. To nurture myself. To prioritize. To settle into my new life. Because my intuition tells me it’s right.

See, lots of things have been shifting in my life lately. They’re good changes, to be sure — but big changes nonetheless:

  • I’VE MOVED TO A NEW PLACE! I’ve settled down in a new city (Holla, Portland!) and recently moved into a sweet new condo with my two dogs, a roommate and my MacBook. It’s such a welcome change after having been on the road and/or feeling stagnant in my hometown over the past three years. I feel like I’ve finally found my home, at least for now. :-)
  • I’M PARTNERING WITH AN AWESOME COMPANY! I’ve also partnered with the Portland-based company Idea Learning Group to help them write a revolutionary book about transforming workplace learning.
  • I’VE BEEN WATCHING THE BACHELORETTE EVERY MONDAY NIGHT! Sad, but true ;-).
  • I’M WRITING MY BOOK! Lastly, I’ve been up to my earballs in sweat writing my first book, The Crappiness to Happiness Handbook. Like most projects, it’s taking me much longer than anticipated to complete — but I cannot WAIT to share it with you once it’s done. (If you want a sneak peek, you can get one right here!)

As you can see, I’m still writing a lot… but I’m just not writing on the blog right now. (At least, not too much — although it may happen occasionally ;-).)

I ♥ you!

Until later, gator,

Your friend,

Therese

Image credit: Victoria Nevland

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Promise Me This… http://www.theunlost.com/work/promise-me-this/ http://www.theunlost.com/work/promise-me-this/#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 04:36:56 +0000 http://www.theunlost.com/?p=13478 Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Tyler Protano-Goodwin.

Promise me this…

Promise me that as the world knocks you down and you start to grow up that you will never give up on the ideals that you initially started out with.

The belief that you could change the world, that love exists in all the amazing blow your mind ways you always thought it did, that a career can inspire and help nourish you.

Let people label your beliefs as naiveté, let them tell you that it’s absurd to hold on to such such a big glorious dream, and then remind yourself that it’s actually called determination, strength, and courage.

Remember to work hard and stay humble. Don’t lose sight of the fact that putting effort towards a future you believe in will always pay off.

Live boldly and appreciate everything that this sentiment entails. Take risks. Embrace failure as an opportunity for growth. Feel fear. And when you impress yourself, over and over again, relish in this unparalleled feeling.

Go with your gut. Like you did when you were little, let your emotions guide you. When risks seem necessary, don’t be afraid to push yourself. When it is comfort and solitude that fuel you, let yourself relax, and be brave enough to reach out to others for support.

Create a future that inspires you now. Live in the present. Make today the day that matters most, and I promise you that your future will be bright. Evaluate your desires, find the ones that lie at the top of your list, and go chase them.

Impress yourself first and foremost. You, my friend, are the only one who has to live with your decisions, you are the only one who has to accept them, and you are the only one who can create your own happiness. Let everyone else’s voices fade a little and listen to your own barometer.

Remember that happiness breeds happiness. This world spins thanks to kindness, understanding, compassion, and love. Remind yourself of this and one of the world’s biggest truths, that you can only access these gifts when you yourself are fulfilled.

And when you feel a bit lost, a bit stuck, remember that daring to dream bigger than you thought possible will inevitably include setbacks. It is all part of the process: feel the pain and let it be your inspiration. Promise me that you won’t let it hold you back. And then when it’s going well — great in fact, better than you could have ever imagined — recognize it, be grateful for all you have accomplished, and be proud of yourself for choosing to live boldly.

From your biggest fan,

Tyler Protano-Goodwin

TylerTyler Protano-Goodwin has always let curiosity guide her. Having lived on four continents thus far she has developed an affinity for pad thai, daily massages, cumbia, and a pocket sized notebook. She makes sure to write down all of her adventures. Want to see what she is up to? Follow her blog The Thai Chronicles or her Facebook page!

[Image by Aiky RATSIMANOHATRA]

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The Single Thing Holding You Back In Life (That Nobody Else Will Tell You) http://www.theunlost.com/life-in-general/the-single-thing-holding-you-back-in-life/ http://www.theunlost.com/life-in-general/the-single-thing-holding-you-back-in-life/#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 05:30:29 +0000 http://www.theunlost.com/?p=13455 Editor’s note: This is a guest post by my amazing brother, Bob Schwenkler.

There’s something that nobody in your life has been willing or able to tell you.

It’s kept the world around you suffering, whether in a low level subconscious way, or in an outright acute painful kind of way. It’s kept you in pain. It’s kept you caged. It’s kept you from living, breathing, and loving as deeply as you’re meant to.

I want you to stop it. I want me to stop it too. I’m just as guilty as anyone else.

It’s ruined amazing relationships. It’s kept me in depression for years. It’s kept me worrying about money for months on end. It’s kept me from bringing my gift to the world. It’s kept me from taking the actions I need to take to leave the kind of legacy I’d want my kids AND your kids to inherit.

Here’s what nobody else will tell you: Your unwillingness to ask for what you want is the reason that all this suffering is happening.

  • Your unwillingness to let that hottie know that he/she is a hottie and ask them out on a date.
  • Your unwillingness to ask for the sale for an offering you are deeply in alignment with.
  • Your unwillingness to ask for that guest post.
  • Your unwillingness to ask for support from the world around you.

These are the reasons the world is suffering and you’re not acknowledging it. Every single time you bite your tongue or fail to hit publish, you’re lying to yourself and the person in front of you! You’re lying by withholding your truest desire. You’re being needy.

You’re being needy by NOT making your asks!

What?! Yes!

You’re essentially saying “I want your ostensible approval more than I want to share my gift. This gift that nobody else in the world can offer except for me. I’m holding it back from you and the rest of the world because I’m needy. I’m scared and I need you to sooth my fears. I need your approval. I need you to think of me as a good, respectable person. I’m going to hold back from sharing my offering, my art, with you.”

It doesn’t matter if your art is dance, writing, music, smiling, cuddling, coaching, web design, or writing love notes… if you do it, it’s art. It’s your gift to the world, the thing you do like nobody else can.

“But who am I to…? What if nobody likes it? What if they get upset? What if I’m wasting their time? What will they think of me?”

You are holding back from creating an opportunity for the world to experience something that they cannot experience anywhere else!

Selfish. Needy. You are waiting for someone else’s approval before you offer your gift!

This is also you saying to the person in front of you, to your reader, to your listener, to whomever’s life you might otherwise affect, “I don’t believe in you. I don’t have the faith that you can get in touch with your own needs and respond with a clear yes or no to my request. I’m selling out on you as a capable, powerful, loving human being.”

Where in your life are you holding back your truth?

What conversations have you left unhad? What pieces of art have you left unshown? What asks have you left unasked?

You (and I) are needy. We won’t ask for what we truly want. We don’t trust others to let us know what they truly want. It’s damaging the world. That’s the problem and the challenge.

Here’s the solution. It’s simple, yet it takes work.

Get clear with yourself. What, exactly, would you like? Take the time you need to get in touch! Creating, recommitting to, or enhancing  a self care routine will do wonders. Go on a walk or run, take a break, eat a healthy breakfast, go to therapy, or hire a coach. Go laugh, cry, or get some sleep. Meditate. Buy a self help book. Go swimming. Do something just for you, your body, and your heart!

Get clear on what you want. When the answer to the question “What would I like?” comes from somewhere deep and true within, you MUST ask for it.

Here, I’ll go first. I’ll model:

Thank you for reading these words today, for being with me. I have something to ask of you. I’d like your support. Know that although this is something I’d like, it’s not something I need. The world is abundant. Everything I need to create, live well, and be happy exists and is available to me.

My first ask is that you leave space for the powerful “yesses” in your life by saying no to anything less than a 10 out of 10, starting right here. If you’re not 100% on board with my request, please say “no.” No creates space for the truest kind of yes.

I’m Bob Schwenkler, and as a coach I help extraordinary people create miracles in their lives.

For the past year my mission has been to work with men. I believe that when men are in touch with our passion, our purpose in life, our hearts, and our emotions, we stop checking out of our lives. Instead we show up fully to relationships with our families, children, and friends. The work we do changes from something that makes us money into creating heartfelt and impactful legacies.

In short, I help men love bigger, f*** better, and make money doing work that feeds them.

Also, you’ll be one of the first to know that I’m also opening my practice up to women. I help the over functioning woman slow down, relax, get present, and open up to beauty and connection on a level deeper than she ever dreamed possible.

The woman who has learned to relax and open up is powerful, a force to be reckoned with. Not powerful in a rigid, controlled, tiring way — powerful in a fluid, sexy, and authentically confident way. Work becomes effortless, an act of manifestation and flow. In relationship she can finally let go and melt into her partner from a place of deep trust.

She believes in love, feels at peace, and effortlessly creates the life of her dreams.

Do you know anybody who could use this kind of support? Are you one of them yourself? Please let them know about my work. Or go check it out yourself. It can be found at www.bobschwenkler.com.

I’m also currently creating a project that I’m extraordinarily passionate about. So much so that I’ve moved away from my home and am traveling by car for 5 months to create it. It’s called Reclaiming Male Role Models. I’m connecting with inspiring, authentically powerful, and on-purpose men and having conversations about what it’s meant for them to create their own versions of masculinity.

I want every man on this planet to be able to create his own self-true version of what it means to be a man. When this happens, what else becomes possible in the world will be truly amazing.

You can find this project at www.reclaimingmalerolemodels.com. If the work resonates with you please sign up for the newsletter and share it with your community!

How did that feel?

Creepy? Or confident? Do you feel more inspired or less inspired? Am I asking leading questions? Or do I really want you to deeply consider what I’m talking about?

I have one last request. After you’re done reading, set a timer for 10 minutes. Close your computer or put away your phone. Be with yourself for a while.

When was the last time you really got honest with yourself about how you can serve the world in a bigger, bolder, more powerful way? When was the last time you sat with the question “What do I want?” When was the last time you got really clear about where you’re holding back and who you could offer your art to?

Take that time now, please. Do it for me. Do it for your friends, family, and colleagues. But most of all do it for you. The beautiful thing is that when we do it firstly for our heart’s deepest purpose, we can’t help but do it for others as well.

Bob SchwenklerAbout the author: My name is Bob Schwenkler, founder of Reclaiming Male Role Models. As a coach I work with extraordinary men and women.

You can find out more about my work at www.bobschwenkler.com and www.reclaimingmalerolemodels.com.

 

[Image by Julia Photography2011]

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The Summer of No Fear: How I smashed my insecurities, skyrocketed my confidence, and shattered my fear http://www.theunlost.com/work/the-summer-of-no-fear/ http://www.theunlost.com/work/the-summer-of-no-fear/#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 02:25:04 +0000 http://www.theunlost.com/?p=13426
Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Olive Persimmon of Unintentionally Celibate.

The Summer of No Fear started after the Spring of Insecurity.

That spring, I was working at one of those dysfunctional jobs with a sociopathic boss. To call her a neurotic, overbearing micromanager is being kind.  She was detail-oriented to the 700,000th degree and perpetually stuck in a state of “paralysis by analysis.” Not to mention, my company was about to enter bankruptcy and potentially facing serious illegal allegations. To say we were stressed would be the understatement of the century.

My confidence was at an all time low and my insecurity was manifesting itself in fear. I was afraid of voicing my ideas in meetings, everyone’s opinion of me, making the wrong choice… making any choice.

As my health and relationships started to deteriorate from stress, I should l have left.

I knew I should have left.

But I was too afraid.

Instead of leaving, I waffled for months.

“How are you going to pay your bills?” my concerned friend asked when I told her I didn’t have another job lined up yet. I didn’t know the answer to that question. So instead of taking action, I let my fear immobilize me. I felt stuck and out-of-control.

Eventually my health got so bad that I started passing out frequently. The only possible explanation my doctor could come up with was that it was stress-induced.

I called my mother sobbing and she gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever received: “Life’s not a prison sentence, you can make choices.” (She’s a smart lady.)

I knew what I had to do. Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith and trust that somehow, some way, you’ll land on your feet.

The next day I turned in my resignation. I walked out the door on May 31st and never looked back.

On June 1st, the Summer of No Fear began.

I decided to take the summer off and focus on rebuilding my confidence and health, an endeavor funded by cashing out my 401K. (I dated a finance guy a few months later and he nearly had a heart attack when he found out.)

As reckless as it seemed to everyone, I knew that addressing my insecurity and fear was the first step to recovery. I needed to do this for me. Like Bono said, “You don’t owe anyone any explanations.” So I cashed out my retirement fund and refused to apologize for it. It was a step in combating my desperate need for approval.

I started by making a list of things I was afraid of (everything). Then I thought about small tasks I could accomplish that would help me regain my confidence and combat these fears.

Afraid of rejection? Hit on five guys who I thought were out of my league. Fear of being judged? Time to do stand-up comedy and create videos on YouTube. Insecure about my talent? Give speeches on the subway. Fear of failure? Finish my book and let people read it.

I can easily recall the sick pit in my stomach while approaching the hottest guy at the bar, feeling certain that he would make some comment to his friend like, “She thinks she has a shot with me?”

“No fear, what’s the worst that can happen,” I whispered to myself.

“You’re so cute so I had to come talk to you!” I said flirtatiously, feigning confidence. He was surprisingly nice and funny. We chatted for a few more minutes and when I turned to leave, he asked for my number. I reiterate: The hottest guy in the bar ASKED ME FOR MY NUMBER!

The more tasks I accomplished, the more I started changing. I realized that most of the fear existed only in my brain.  Nothing bad or crippling ever really happened.

There was the occasional moment when someone would say something snarky or no one laughed at my stand-up.

But it didn’t matter anymore.

I stopped needing so much validation and their judgment barely registered on my radar. I was finally starting to feel comfortable in my own skin again.

…until I walked into a crowded subway.

Unfriendly faces sneered at me.

Public Speaking is my passion and I knew I was never going to face a more intense audience than NYC subway riders.

“Ladies and Gentleman, I’m not asking for money. I’m doing this to try and get rid of my fear,” I said honestly before delivering a speech called “We’re Gonna Be Ok.” It was about feeling lost and trying to figure things out.

“How often do you meet someone new and the first question they ask you is, “So, what do you do?” I asked my unresponsive audience.

I continued on without anyone acknowledging that they were listening.

“I hate this question so I always reply ‘sometimes I do yoga’ or ‘sometimes I eat at Chipotle.’ I hate this question because it forces us to define ourselves by our jobs. I prefer to ask the question, ‘what do you like to do?’ because quite frankly, I’m more interested in knowing that you love finding new meatball recipes, or collect stamps, or play baseball on the weekends- to me that’s a better definition of who you are. Your job at 22 or 46 doesn’t define you. It’s not a clear and accurate picture of how kind you are. Or honest. Or how successful you’re going to be. So it’s perfectly ok if you’re bartending or working a job you don’t love and trying to figure it out.

For the most part, people intensely ignored me. My face started turning bright red as if their annoyance was infiltrating my body. My heart was palpitating in my chest. My mouth started getting dry.

But I kept talking.

Because I started it and I needed to finish it. Because I was doing this for me.

I finished and silently sat down next to my friend, eyes pointed towards the ground.

I sat for a full minute, bathing in my embarrassment, when an older woman approached me, tears streaming down her face.

“I think you were sent for me today. We ARE going be ok. Thank you,” she said, reaching down to hug me.

In that moment, I realized how connected we all are. In trying to combat my own fear, I had delivered a message that resonated and touched someone else. It’s an incredible feeling to be able to inspire and move another human being.

The Summer of No Fear changed my life. There’s incredible freedom in living without fear. Once I was able to stop caring so intensely about other’s opinions of me, amazing things began to happen and countless doors began to open.

Beyond my incredible personal growth, my No fear list was also a catalyst for numerous creative projects.  I finished my humor book, Unintentionally Celibate (which is coming out soon!). My writing was featured on some popular websites and my comedy web series is getting ready to launch next month. After one of my speeches, I met someone who connected me to my current (and awesome!) job as a Communications Consultant where I get to teach people how to effectively communicate and give speeches.

I could have never accomplished any of these things when I was living in fear.

Recently I had to give a speech at an event in front of 140 people. I was uncharacteristically nervous when my best friend said, “You gave speeches on the subway! This is a piece of cake.”

I laughed and grinned. She was right. I walked on to the stage confidently and delivered one of the best speeches I’ve ever given.

So UnLost-ers, Are you willing to join Therese in taking on “The End of the Year No Fear Challenge”? Make a list of 5 things you’re afraid of that can be accompanied by a reasonable task and commit to completing them before the end of the year. Share your goals and accomplishments inside the new Unlost Private Community Facebook group here.

Can’t wait to hear about your success and adventures!

Olive B. Persimmon is a humorous writer and motivational speaker over at www.unintentionallycelibate.com. She likes wearing hats.
You can watch her Subway Speech here. Or if you need a reminder that you’re gonna be ok, you can also get that here.

[Image by Nathan Siemers]

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Feeling Alone This Holiday Season? This Post Is For You. http://www.theunlost.com/suckiness/feeling-alone-during-the-holidays/ http://www.theunlost.com/suckiness/feeling-alone-during-the-holidays/#comments Thu, 27 Nov 2014 04:23:51 +0000 http://www.theunlost.com/?p=13363 Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Aubrie M. of The New Montgomery.

For a long time, longer than I care to admit, the holidays were a reminder of everything and everyone that wasn’t.

It was in the anticipated months between summer and holidays that I used to sit with unease. The constant waiting was a reminder of the phone calls I wouldn’t get. The voices I wouldn’t hear. The time and memories that I didn’t get to make. And the deep seeded grief that I was somehow always apart and alone of everyone that should matter. I was a shadow; not even a memory to them.

“But the hard stuff is the good stuff and the stuff people need to read,” Therese told me, echoing the sentiments that I’ve thrown out of my brain and onto paper and countless times. And there’s so much to say but too much to say and I can’t open the door to embarrassment for anyone. So this is where I’m caught. Between knowing and telling, tossing words and holding truths, hoping that a few will land and stick. And venturing further into optimism that you, dear ones, will know what’s unsaid and fill the holes with your own version of melancholy. That I won’t have to say it all.

My perspective and age tell me that my parents did the best they could with what they knew. There’s a peace in knowing that you’re loved even without application and effort. Flawed people are capable of loving through their staggered efforts and borrowed time… and I never felt like enough, but I did feel special. I know that’s conflicting, but the truth is rarely so easy to interpret. Without getting into gritty detail, I was abandoned at 14. And that’s the springboard for…well, everything.

And, truthfully, it hurts too much. To say. To write. To remember. There are some things that are too sacred to reveal. Too heavy to expose. And too vulnerable to record.

Yet, here I sit. Experience and time have taught me to successfully welcome in the bliss with the distress. The light and the dark. The two have taken up permanent residence in this body. Carving out a home in my heart, they co-reside peacefully. They feed my decisions and give me space and fuel to write. So, we allow both. Right now. Close your eyes, nod your sweet head and accept them.

Because ultimately, this is about joy.

And the tricky teetering of happiness and sorrow.

One can’t exist fully without the other. There’s a completeness to knowing both. Sometimes at the same time and sometimes lifetimes apart. Gulfs of time that neither or both occupy, marking your timeline and casting shadows of joy and grief.

So, yes… for a long time, the holidays were a reminder of what wasn’t.

Until they weren’t.

Part of dealing with the bad stuff is owning the realization that you hold the reigns to happiness.

Of course, this took time. A lot of it. And I would love to tell you how long, but I don’t have that number for you. What I do have is hope.

That it (life) gets better. If you let it. And if you make it.

At some point between adolescence and full-blown adulthood, I decided to choose to view the holidays as a celebration of all the people that my life had brought to me rather than a ceremonial wake for those who were missing. My life is abundant in time, laughter and so much love. I had every reason to reach out and around and cultivate my own traditions. I couldn’t control who I was born to. But I could (and can) control who I spent my time with.

So I do. I cook and I laugh and I call my friends and I kiss my husband and I miss my brothers and I dance in the kitchen and I love every piece of this life that I created. And so you should too.

Create your life.

Create the world that you weren’t given. Or that was taken away.

Create your holiday.

And if in the quiet moments after the food and family, you sit alone and start to feel that nudge of otherness… take rest that there are plenty of others. Just like you. That know what it’s like to be alone. If you’re reading these words and they are tugging at something familiar, then you know that you are not as alone as you think. That plenty of us, the lone leaves of the family tree, are floating around waiting for the wind to blow us in the right direction. But you already are. Exactly where you need to be.

Enjoy your holidays. However you choose to make them your own.

a.montgomeryAbout the author: Aubrie is lucky enough to married to the coolest dude she’s ever known. She’s a kick-ass auntie, a proud sister of two brothers, and great friend. She loves 90’s R&B music, dogs, punctuation, drinking wine out of mugs, using slang in everyday conversation, and her ballin’-ass 2 year old nephew.

By day, she works in Finance. She is a writer by hobby and ballerina by years of painful training. Get more from Aubrie at her awesome-tastic blog, The New Montgomery

 

[Image by Kat N.L.M.]

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He might’ve been an engineer. http://www.theunlost.com/work/he-mightve-been-an-engineer/ http://www.theunlost.com/work/he-mightve-been-an-engineer/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 04:03:16 +0000 http://www.theunlost.com/?p=13337 He might’ve been an engineer — but he wasn’t.

I watched as he walked toward us across the sand, wearing a blue Hawaiian shirt and a wide-brimmed straw hat. He moved briskly and was able-bodied, I noticed, despite being — perhaps seventy years old? — I guessed. I’d have easily mistaken him for another vacationer if it weren’t for the lanyard around his neck and the stack of flyers he carried with him.

“Hi girls,” he smiled, his shirt whipping gently in the breeze. “How are you doing today? First time in Costa Rica?”

Yes, we nodded.

“Welcome,” he said, reaching out his hand to introduce himself. “I’m Tom. Have you done any activities yet? Kayaks? Horseback riding? Estuary tour?” he inquired.

“We’ve already done the river tour with the crocodiles,” I said.

“Yoga on the beach?” he asked.

He must’ve been reading my mind: after nearly nine days without my regular yoga practice, my body and mind were beginning to wilt. I’d actually been scouring the town for a nearby studio. And yoga on the beach? Even better. That’s something you certainly can’t do in Portland, Oregon.

“When’s the yoga class?” I asked.

“Right now,” he said, setting his bag down on the sand.

“Um. Ok… who’s our teacher?”

Tom swept off his straw hat and placed it on the sand as he began to unroll his mat in front of us.

“Me, of course,” he said, as if there had ever been any question. “I was once a monk in Thailand, you know? I did yoga every morning.”

I could see it, actually — the monk thing. Tom had lifted his hat to unveil a softly shaved head, and there was a depth to his blue eyes that could only have come from years of sitting meditation.

How could we say no?

And so just as the sun was about to set over the Tamarindo Playa, my sister, my mother and I began our private yoga class on the beach.

Later in the week, Tom took us on a kayak trip to explore a nearby volcanic island that was rich with piles of worn white conch shells and lively tide pools full of brittle starfish, crabs, and sea urchins. We drank fresh rainwater from smooth, concave pieces of conch shells, watching as throngs of hermit crabs scraped coconut meat from the insides of the brown mounds that he’d cracked open on a rock.

“How long have you been leading tours in Tamarindo for?” I asked.

“Five years,” he replied.

“And before that?”

“I was trained to be an engineer, but I left Argentina to travel the world when I was 27. I never came back,” he said, looking wistfully out over the horizon.

He told the story of how he’d lived as a monk in Thailand, stayed in ashrams in India, and built up his own one-man tour guide operations in Fiji, Panama, and now, Costa Rica.

“Some people say they want to travel the world, and then they’ll come back home and become more serious,” he said. “But I’m almost seventy and I never came home to get serious.”

He laughed. I laughed. We all laughed together.

“Maybe seriously living your life is more important than becoming ‘serious,’” I couldn’t help but think to myself.

This man had lived his life on beaches and in ashrams, spending his days in a waking meditation with the sun on his face and the sea at his feet. I’ll bet he makes less money working as a tour guide than he might’ve as an engineer. Maybe his family and friends thought he was crazy to leave.

But did it really matter? Tom was living Tom’s life, and he wasn’t about to stop.

His story reminded me of something important: F what anyone else thinks. This is your life — no one else’s. If you want to travel the world and never come back, do it. Want to be a monk in Thailand? Go for it. How about selling kayak tours on the beach? Do ittt. “Normal” is always relative — always. No matter what you feel called to be or to do, I’ll guarantee you there are other people who are already doing it and calling their lifestyles “normal.”

Over the past several years, I’ve been blessed to meet amazing people: people who’ve quit their jobs in cubicles to start organic urban farms. People who’ve started their lives over with nothing but $10 and a laptop. People who’ve left careers in law to live wholehearted lives in Mexico or left jobs with Google to pursue makeup artistry. People who inspire me and bring me to life every day.

A friend of mine recently moved to Paris and wrote home to tell me about a ninety year old American lady she’d met in her French class. “I always wanted to live in Paris and learn to speak French,” the lady had said. And here she was, doing it. What a great reminder that it’s never too late to become who you are.

Each of us has the ability to shape our lives each and every day — it’s all about what we decide is important and how we choose to spend the time and resources we’ve been given. Most of the time, the only person stopping us is ourselves. “The world will tell you who you are until you tell the world,” reads a quote I’ve returned to again and again over the past years.

So who are you really? Are you ready to shed what’s comfortable or expected in order to begin finding out?

Don’t be afraid to give up what you think you’re “supposed” to have, do, or be in order to embrace what actually matters to you and to become the fiercest, truest version of who you really are. Don’t be afraid to stop being so “serious” and to start seriously living, whatever that might mean for you.

Rabbi Zusya, when he was an old man, said, “In the coming world, they will not ask me: ‘Why were you not Moses?’ They will ask me: ‘Why were you not Zusya?’”

– Hasidic tale quoted in Parker J. Palmer’s Let Your Life Speak

Tom could’ve been an engineer, but he’s not.

I could’ve been an accountant, but I’m not.

You could’ve been a ________, but thirty years from now, you’d rather look back on your life and know that you ________________.

This is your life, dude. Shape it or someone else will.

shape-your-world

# # #

[Image by jenny downing]

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On Perfectionism and Being Unperfect http://www.theunlost.com/relationships/on-perfectionism-and-being-unperfect/ http://www.theunlost.com/relationships/on-perfectionism-and-being-unperfect/#respond Mon, 10 Nov 2014 04:11:54 +0000 http://www.theunlost.com/?p=13328 Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Aubrie M. of The New Montgomery.

Hold on to your hats and iPhones, because I’m about to blow your cranium apart:

I’m not perfect.

But of course I’m not. And neither are you.

I sure as heck put myself up against some pretty nasty standards, though. I think being a perfectionist will do that to you. Perfectionism is that little voice that begs you to rewrite that article one more time. Or nags at you to run for 5 more minutes or 2 more miles even though your body is signaling you to stop. It keeps you up at night, tasking your brain through a day long to-do list. The inventory of things that you “should have” done and now all you can do is stew under your covers and wonder why you can’t just shut your mind off.

Mildly obsessive and certainly annoying, being a perfectionist can wear down your edges until you’re drawn and weary. All the extra time, cutting down minutes, building up hours of mulling over what could have been done better, better, ever better.

And it is in these fixated minutes and hours that you find the shame. The self-propelled disgrace that tells you that you are not good enough. Not smart enough. Not fast enough. Not witty enough. Not. Enough.

This wears at you. Doesn’t it?

And when you’re worn, do you know that it shows? That you are not hiding it well? That the stress of your own checklist is written on your face and your tightened shoulders and furrowed brow? It squeaks out of the edges of your voice when you’re waiting in line at the grocery store, or stuck in traffic. It bubbles and boils just below the surface, threatening to bear its grin and gnash its teeth at what (or whom) ever tests your patience.

And that, friends, is hard to hear. Even harder to admit.

“You’re being really negative lately,” were the words I heard on the other end of the phone line. Like a cold hand to the face, I was stunned. Those five words ran through my veins like lava… hitting my chest first, then my limbs and finally, warming my cheeks and stinging my eyes with tears. I was angry, embarrassed and simultaneously defeated. My brain clunked into gears faster than I could recognize, but before I knew it, reality showed up in the form of bare truth. I was being negative lately. It was the truth.

So how do you handle that information? Do you accept it when it’s thrown at you from a trusted source? Maybe a loved one placed a proverbial mirror in front of you and demanded that you accept its distorted reflection. Or maybe words aren’t being spoken, but the lack of conversation and relationship is suggesting that maybe you’ve changed. The bitterness of that realization can be paralyzing. And embarrassing.

But. It’s what you do with that knowledge that matters. Moving forward is what counts. Without embarrassment, shame, anger or defensiveness.

How?

It’s simple: own your stuff.

In other, fancier terms: be self aware.

Self awareness may not eradicate the bad feelings associated with being an overall turd-of-life. But it certainly softens the blow when someone calls you on it. It lowers defenses. It morphs embarrassment.

There is beauty and honor in admitting you’re wrong. There is divinity in saying ‘I’m sorry, you’re right.’ There is something so beautifully humanistic, so charmingly disarming about someone who can raise their own white flag. Because then comes the understanding. You are no longer a turd-of-life… but rather, a bumbling Peter Pan, tripping through life’s many stresses. There is camaraderie there. A sacred transaction of ‘oh, I’m an idiot too, it’s okay.’

Have you taken your own inventory lately? Are you giving energy, or taking energy? Be proactive in self-awareness. Get to know who you are. The good, the bad, the perfectionist, the turd… all of you. Every dark corner. This relationship is the one you should know inside and out.

And when you do, self correction won’t be so stark and frightening. It will be challenging, rewarding and hell, maybe even a little fun.

a.montgomeryAbout the author: Aubrie is lucky enough to married to the coolest dude she’s ever known. She’s a kick-ass auntie, a proud sister of two brothers, and great friend. She loves 90’s R&B music, dogs, punctuation, drinking wine out of mugs, using slang in everyday conversation, and her ballin’-ass 2 year old nephew.

By day, she works in Finance. She is a writer by hobby and ballerina by years of painful training. Get more from Aubrie at her awesome-tastic blog, The New Montgomery

[Image by Daniela Vladimirova]

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