I’m a big fan of country music. I’m sitting in a coffee bar, thinking and dreaming about this past weekend, and reminiscing and relishing in the beauty of it all. “I don’t have to be me until Monday” came on my headphones and I laughed, because at first glance, this is what the weekend was: a beautiful explosion of self-expression, of being, of doing our most amazing work, of being more than boring things that don’t stimulate us or showcase us at our best and brightest.
But it’s wrong. It’s completely wrong. The message of the weekend is that you already are you; your best self should be available and present all week, every day, in what you do. What #WDS was is a glimpse into the potential of your LIFE. You should ALWAYS be you. All week should be a weekend, all weekend should be your week. You have beautiful things to offer the world and your mission needs to be to find ways to be your best, creative self. (Whether or not that includes a day job is up for discussion).
Perhaps you, like me, returned home and stumbled through the real world for a bit, or you’re still stumbling, like I am – confused about what is real and what’s not, and wondering how to implement all of the ideas and plans in your head as you move through the motions of daily life again. Walking home on Monday, stepping up to my apartment door, standing there and looking at the worn mat and the broken light and feeling the fog sprinkling my body in San Francisco fashion, I wondered what was going on. It was a pattern that was so ingrained, and yet felt so strange. The people were gone. The explosions ended. The fireworks ended, and our 4th of July Fantasy was over. The only remnants from #WDS are the smoky memories and the rapid-fire email exchanges littering my inbox. Pictures. Messages. Notebooks. Fading.
What just happened?
It will take a long time to unwind and unpack the missives of the week and integrate them into the things you do and try. For all my fellow WDS-attendees, there will be a dissonance between the you that you dream of and the reality of this week, and that dissonance, as Jonathan Fields says, is good. The uncertainty is good. It means the feelings you have are right – that some action needs to be taken in the face of uncertainy, and we need to step forward into being.
However, unlike the skydiving adventure of Thursday, living boldly and stepping into action rarely happens in one fell swoop that jolts you through thousands of feet of air in milliseconds. Most of us won’t go home and quit our day jobs and become new people instantaneously (and, for the record, I like my day job and keep it because we fit well together – lest I suggest otherwise!) It likely won’t happen today, or tomorrow. Leo reminds us gently of this reality: habits take time, change is slow, and it’s best to focus on just one thing at a time. One very small thing, something that we can do successfully and easily, and build our way into success by rolling together micro-successes sequentially. The power of the ability to change is that it happens in increments, and we can be surprised along the way as we make individual changes that seem so exceptionally small and, turn by turn, watch as our lives unfold magically in new directions over the coming days and years.
And then Zac Brown Band comes on my headphones, telling me that “We only get one change to leave our mark upon it,” and this time, I agree. While we have to be patient, and make changes one by one, we can’t sit by and do nothing. The beauty of the weekend is that it should stir up in each of us an impetus to grow, to change, to explore, to create. We all must begin somewhere. And we better start – ’cause we only have today and now. Even those things aren’t guarantees.
Here are my notes from Saturday. I hope this stirs in you a desire to move, do, create and be – it certainly did in me. I captured as much as possible, although I didn’t capture everything – I’m sure the #WDS community and the videos from the conference will cover better much of what I’m trying to capture below. Here are some of the great things I was fortunate to be a part of:
Pam Slim, Escape from Cubicle Nation: Find your roots, seek out your elements, protect yourself.
Pam gives hugs. Pam is a mother and sister to everyone, instinctively, intuitively, seemingly without trying. Her eyes seek you out as you talk to her, her body squared and facing you, receiving you, telling you that she can help you root into the essence of your being. Her presence makes you feel more relaxed in being you. In her opening talk, she focused on these notions:
- Always remind yourself of your roots and your power. We are rooted in knowing each other, in being people.
- The best way to get back to your roots is to connect to other people.
- A hug solves nearly everything.
- Your first anchor and strength in the human race is relating and greeting one another.
- When you find yourself looking to someone else to be who you are, you need to re-root.
- Everyone is valuable and offers different things.
- We need different types of people around us – Mavens, Connectors and Salesmen – and also each of the following 4 elements:
- Air benders – provide the power of the introvert; they are steady, powerful, and have a strength that, although unnoticed, is incredibly powerful.
- Fire benders – are healers, bringing out the fires through a cooling healing power.
- Water benders – give a tidal wave of love and support at all times. They are your stock and refill you unendingly.
- Earth benders – are your anchors, the solid foundation of steady when you’re buzzing like an excited electron. Nothing fazes them.
- We engage in behaviors to protect ourselves. Stand strong. Find your foundation.
- Movement and physicality ground us in protection. Martial Arts, Yoga, Walking, understanding the physical being — brings you mental tenacity, toughness, strength.
Favorite moment: Pam taking on Masa in martial arts center stage.
Leo Babauta, Zen Habits. Incremental Change, Life Without Goals, Simplify.
Leo tells you his story, describing the start of his journey as somewhere between helpless and hopeless: “I was a donut-eating, junk-food addicted, lazy, fat, in-debt slob.” I find this hard to believe, but he has the pictures to prove it – and now, a world-famous blog documenting the power of incremental change and simplification.
CHANGE YOUR HABITS.
- Set yourself up for success. Make change so slowly that it’s impossible not to do it. It must be easy to accomplish. If it’s exercise, go for 5 minutes the first day and week.
- Focus on one thing at a time. Only one. Resolutions are worthless because there are too many of them.
- Find other people like you. Accountability.
- Learn how habits work, what triggers are, and how to engineer good habits. Associate positive benefits with new habits and remove negative triggers from habits you want to encourage. Learn how to untangle these triggers.
- Be Ruthless. Get rid of everything – everything – you don’t need.
- Become more effective by eliminating everything that’s not related to what you want to do.
LIVE WITHOUT GOALS.
- The mental energy of thinking about where you want to go – and not focusing on the slower changes, actions, and explorations in front of you – are not helpful. Live without goals. Just live.
- What do goals mean? Enjoy what you are doing right now. Perhaps goals get in the way of living the best life now.
- Follow your bliss.
Favorite moment: Leo showing us a picture of his dirty Barbecue T-Shirt. And doing pushups on stage.
Danielle Laporte, White Hot Truth. Innovation is Messy. Uncertainty is good. Be willing to let go.
Danielle is a hotbed of beautiful language, wonderful sayings, and explosive missives that both stir you up inside and calm you down with powerful, potent clarity. Her voice – the sexy richness of it, her amazing use of tonality, the power she has over language and emphasis – makes you sit on the edge of the chair and listen, just listen. I want to soak it all in, breathe it, be it. I scribbled to capture the insights but nothing in that picture, above, tells the story of being around this fire starter. Here are a few good ones:
“Your body knows. Pay attention.”
“Let’s not focus on what you want to DO. Focus on what you want to FEEL. What do you want to feel like next year?”
“If you trusted that your art would support your life, how would you live?”
“Art is showing up. Let yourself be enough.”
“I think we have a responsibility to stop being polite to Corporate America.”
“I think Plato said something important. Something like, ‘be kind, because everyone is fighting the same fucking journey’ – something like that.”
“If you can’t get out yet, you have to LOVE the HELL that you’re in. Because it’s teaching you where you want to go.”
“Winners quit sooner.”
Mark Silver, Heart of Business. We are all powerless. Slow down. Breathe. Feel.
Mark exudes a gentle calmness and balance that quickly soothes an entire roomful of people. When he looks at you, if you look carefully, you can see the energy in his eyes and the power in his being. His voice resonates with the reminder to connect to yourself, to be gentle, to be patient, and to wait. We don’t have to rush along, and we don’t need to do everything. Vulnerability, patience, and reception are enough. What you are is enough.
The best example of practicing what you preach came when he paused, looked at us all, and said, “You know, it’s okay to be tired.” And he paused again, before he continued: “I’m tired.” He spoke from the heart, telling us where he was, connecting to us when he made each point, and enabling us to see him as ‘just’ a person, just another one of us, who just happened to be standing in front of us. This subtle shift, this sharing, brought us together on the same page as imperfect, yet perfect-as-we-are, beings.
There is a power in vulnerability, and most of us are afraid of this emotion – this feeling – this state of being. We want to pretend we know it all, that we are more than we are, that somehow, we’ve been blessed with some ability to be perfect. This is just not true. We are what we are. It is okay to need. We get hungry and thirsty, and we don’t judge these feelings; why judge so harshly the other feelings and needs that come into our being? In telling us, simply, that he was tired, Mark shared the ability to be vulnerable, to speak from his core. Here are some of the best:
“We are all powerless.”
“We were not made to own or control or be in power; we were made to serve.”
“Sometimes we feel like we need to be something other than what we already are -we are nothing. And this is okay. The place of nothing tells us we don’t have to be anything more than what’s already there.”
“Your power comes from connecting. From bringing these feelings and questions into your mind and ruminating on them, examining them, in just simply looking at them.”
“You don’t have to do it alone.”
And many, many more…
This was just the beginning. The speakers continued and I regret not being able to see them all in their entirety and capture everything along the way. The videos and images from the conference will be available soon – I’ll be sure to link to them as I continue to process, think, ruminate, capture and reflect.
Until tomorrow. xoxo. Sarah.
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