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    I'm proud of you. // Brand Camp
    I’m proud of you.

    For waking up. Every day. For showering whenever possible.
    For seeing the mountains of work to be done,
    morning after morning, and going to it.
    For holding her up when she couldn’t climb any further.
    For shouldering his pack when you were exhausted.
    For smiling when
    inside, you were breaking.

    I’m proud of you for greeting this morning with something like kindness.

    I know it’s easier to fling yourself into despair
    and berate the world for all it’s done,
    to give up on living a better
    or more interesting
    or engaging life.

    It’s easier to shut it down.
    Close it down.
    Lock it down.

    I’m proud of you for opening, again and again,
    in the face of all the world’s frustrations;
    for staring all those reasons to give up in the eyes and standing
    again, today, in the middle of the mountain.

    I’m proud of you for putting one foot in front of the other
    despite having lost the summit in the clouds long ago.

    I’m proud of you. No caveats, no despites.

    I’m proud of you.

    P.S. It’s okay to stop hiding.

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    Sometimes I find myself obeying rules no one ever told me or that don’t make sense anymore.  For example: blazers.  I gave up on blazers as corporate apparel and threw all mine away when I got my own business.  But then Amazon had this killer blazer and I was all, “Why can’t I wear blazers, again?”.  Oh, BECAUSE I’M AWESOME AND MADE UP A RULE THAT I’VE ARBITRARILY FOLLOWED FOR YEARS.  In big things and in little things, we follow rules.  We forget that big rules (like not murdering people) matter, but often small rules (like how and when to e-mail people) are self-imposed and entirely optional.

    Here are a few helpful reminders to help you rid your life of self-imposed rules (and embrace your inner blazer-wearer).

    Curating your life (with ninja kicks) // Brand Camp

    You don’t have to watch the news. Not ever. Not once. The news hurts me physically, as I’m an empath, and so watching people suffer or respond to suffering or talk about others’ responses to suffering causes ME suffering. It’s a waste of feels. I’ve chosen my causes, I’m helping them as much as I possibly can, and my watching a reporter outline the details of another shooting in Philadelphia does absolutely no one any good.

    You don’t have to keep up with the 24-hour news cycle. The latest current events steal my energy and tip me into hopelessness. I choose to keep my hope by avoiding the day-to-day disasters unfolding around the globe. I choose to do my work every day. That’s where my efforts make the most impact.

    You don’t have to respond to every e-mail you receive. An answered e-mail typically leads to another answered e-mail, and back and forth and back and forth until OH DEAR GOD MAKE IT STOP. If a vendor has clearly copied and pasted my name into a form e-mail that’s of no interest to me, I delete the e-mail. No awkward response required. Same goes if a client sends a bunch of e-mails in a row: I answer once every 24 hours. Because boundaries. Most emergencies either work themselves out or really aren’t emergencies in the first place.

    You don’t have to be on any social media platform you don’t enjoy. I quit Twitter years ago. I quit Pinterest a few months ago. It was sucking me into the perfection porn hole, in which I wish for a better or brighter or shinier life instead of living the one I have right now. Go on, quit a platform. Quit two, quit three, quit ‘em all if you want. You’ll have to find other ways to feed your business if it currently relies on them, so you might want to make the transition slowly, but there’s no need to take part in a platform you despise.

    You don’t have to join Periscope. HOLY SHIT, you don’t. It’s all the buzz right now, and people are trying to sell you courses and webinars and classes about how to use it, but when I sat down with both a past and a present client to honestly assess a time in which we would use or open Periscope as consumers, we couldn’t think of one. I’m not on Periscope. I despise video. DESPISE. Why in the fuck would I want to join a platform based on live video?

    You don’t have to go to that event. Really, you don’t. That networking thing or that party you’re invited to or that open house you’re dreading? Don’t fucking go. Use that time to fill your own well however you see fit (read: Netflix and chill), but don’t let obligation drag you to shit you hate.

    You don’t have to follow a formula for your business or your life. My Mom shakes her head every time she sees me, begging me to go back to ‘normal’ hair. When she does this, I threaten to make it rainbow — a variation she hates even more than pink — and she sighs quietly. She doesn’t understand why I don’t go to Mass every Sunday, why I swear, why people pay me for services when CLEARLY I DON’T OWN ENOUGH PROFESSIONAL CLOTHING, or how I can sell books on the internet. Or how I can sell anything on the internet, truth be told. My life is a mystery to her. But it’s my life.

    Your life requires explanation to absolutely no one. So your Mom disapproves of your child-rearing techniques or sighs every time you mention your job. So what? It’s your freaking life. Same goes for those old ladies at the diner who can’t stand your glittery choices and your partner who doesn’t understand why you aren’t just doing X to make more money instead of doing the thing you’re doing, or the colleagues who look at you funny when you tell them you deleted fucking Periscope from your fucking phone and no, you won’t download it right now just to see this one funny video they watched this morning.

    Your life. Is your life.

    You don’t have to listen to any one individual’s voices, opinions, thoughts, or convictions. This thing you’re doing — where you listen to me? — it’s optional. If my words make you want to stab your eyes out or poke kittens with knives or murder baby seals, stop listening.

    Unsubscribe.

    Unfollow.

    It’s your job to curate your life.

    You choose what you let in.

    You choose your influences.

    You choose your mentors, your icons, and your gurus.

    You don’t have to trust people simply because they seem to be more successful than you. Success is a moving target that we all define differently.

    You don’t have to listen to her just because she’s made millions.

    You don’t have to listen to him just because he seems smart.

    You don’t have to listen to them because they couch their message in vague spiritual terms that you feel bad calling ‘bullshit’ on.

    Unsubscribe.

    Unfollow.

    Choose the voices you let into your life consciously, and with great care.

    You don’t have to stay in the Facebook groups. They’re full of strangers who are throwing energy around like so much gloppy, wet sand. It’s messy, it gets everywhere, and you have no real control of it. You don’t have to stay in any group, even if you paid to be a part of it. (KonMari that shit.) You don’t have to subject yourself to people who make your stomach turn or who make you roll your eyes.

    Quit.

    Ignore.

    Hold steady boundaries that keep the people you don’t like, enjoy, or value out of your life.

    You don’t have to hold onto clients you can’t stand. You’re well within your rights to fire clients. To treat some better than others because frankly, you like them better. To lavish some with gifts and to treat others with a level of service that’s nice but not extravagant. You’re human. You connect more with some humans than others. This is normal. You can let go of the clients who drive you crazy. It makes room for clients who aren’t nutjobs to make their way into your life.

    You don’t have to put cash in the driver’s seat. I know, you own a business, so the default is to put cash front and center, only cash makes a piss-poor navigator. Cash doesn’t care about what your heart wants, or how your soul aches, or how making that thing involves no joy and maaaaybe a few grand? Cash drives you to allegedly safe, stable choices that provide no fuel for your soul.

    When you let your business unfold as an expression of your talents, as a measure of faith in the future, and as an exclamation point to show off what you stand for, shit changes. You go all in.

    You find ways to make magic happen. You meet clients you adore, instead of clients who simply exchange money for services. You make connections with your fellow humans that simply aren’t possible when you view them as a transaction on the way to your 6 or 7-figure earnings goals.

    You don’t have to give cash the final say. That tiny voice within you that whispers about what you love, what you want, and how you want your life to unfold deserves a listen. Spend some time with that voice. Ask it what to get rid of, and who to get rid of, and how to get rid of it. Ask that voice to show you the next thing, to lead you to the next person, and to help you see the next step.

    Now go: unfollow. Unsubscribe. Quit. Ignore.

    Make space for more good in your life.

    Make space.

    P.S.  This was a podcast episode called ‘You’re Not the Boss of Me.’  Here are more podcast episodes.  (Or you can also Fuck the Plan.)

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    We leave ourselves behind all the time // a poem for moving into the depths

    We leave ourselves behind all the time.

    We commit to the marriage, the meeting —
    the next step, the next year —
    even though we know it’s not right.

    We pretend we really want the marriage, the meeting —
    the next step, the next year —
    leaving each loud, protesting piece of ourselves behind to rot.

    We make dull husks
    of our own lives, acting as if we can’t hear
    all those voices howling in the wind, abandoned.

    The good news is.
    We’re not dead yet.
    We’re not dead. Yet.

    We can pick up each of the pieces we’ve left behind,
    without guilt or shame for failing to notice
    what we’ve been dropping all this time.

    We can draw our eyes up,
    past this parched landscape,
    to all that water teeming with life.

    We can go in.

    The waves are passing in short sets;
    the current is strong;
    the sharks are circling.

    And you go in.

    Beyond the loudest voices shouting for you to turn back,
    beyond the certainty that your work is too big to tackle today,
    far beyond that same certainty saying your work means absolutely nothing.

    And you go in.

    The cave where you can catch your breath
    is down there, a few inches beyond
    the point where you believe you’ll burst.

    And you go in.

    From here you can see the table, all set, and the room, pulsing with life;
    you can hear your own voice,
    elated at having called you back to yourself.

    And you go in.

    The depths are murky. It’s been a while since you’ve seen yourself.
    The screens are calling. They’ll run your life if you let them.
    You have absolutely no idea what you’re doing here. No one really does.

    And you go in.

    P.S.  This is a poem for the maker in you.

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    10 things I love even when I hate everything // Brand Camp

    You know those days when you hate absolutely everything?

    When you couldn’t care less about working on your business or bettering yourself, and you just want to be on a beach somewhere, warm and disconnected from all your screens with a book or seven to read?

    Me, too.

    These are my go-to cheer-er uppers on those days.

    Pup quiz! Like most people, I’ve tried to hate Jimmy Fallon and absolutely failed. The people responsible for coming up with Pup Quiz should be have their salaries tripled. Stick around for Double Puppardy, ’cause the cute ante gets upped higher than you can possibly imagine.

    ‘Fuck this shit’ socks by Blue Q. These socks. I love them. They’re tiny, secret harbingers of my attitude when I have to act like a grown-up who actually gets dressed and goes out in public.

    The S.O.B. song. I lose my shit and start dancing every single time I hear it, which means I shake my butt and bop my head like a three-year-old who has no sense of rhythm or grace. (Read: IT’S AWESOME.) Give it a listen.

    Bitches Gotta Eat. I’m pretty sure I’ll never meet Samantha Irby, ’cause she’s not the type who loves people and welcomes them into her life or home easily, if her writing is any indication, but her blog entries are raw, honest, funny, witty, and altogether wonderful in ways I can’t even explain. Go, read, laugh, and then laugh some more. She gets my full stamp of approval, a suite of virtual high-fives, and my slight pissedoffedness that she only has one book available. (Which you should also read, because I spent 90 minutes reading it this morning before realizing that I have to do Adultopus things like eat breakfast, shower, and work.)

    Yes and Yes. Sarah Von Bargen and I share the same life philosophy: yes is better than no. She travels like a fiend, recently got married in an $80 wedding dress, and kicks so much ass via her daily blog that I’ve become a stark raving fan girl. Her post about how to hygge (i.e. actually enjoy) this winter has been a lifesaver, because it’s only January and there are still months of hygge-ing to do.

    Mandala Balls. I know, I know, they’re just BALLS, but really they’re little neck-hurting-less-magical-pain-relieving balls. Because I write/edit/e-mail/internet all day, my neck is in the habit of making little stress balls that have gone untouched by massage for many moons, simply because the average masseuse doesn’t have the sheer power required to eliminate each one on any given day, and because they regenerate at the speed of light. Mandala balls work at the stress balls every day, and they’re slowly allowing a free range of motion to resume in my neck. For $15.99.

    This Instagram account. And this one and this one and this one.

    To better days ahead —

    K

    P.S.  Here are 10 ways to be freer (no Amazon links involved!) that don’t suck and aren’t completely boring.  Also, this comic makes me laugh hard, all the time.

    P.P.S.  Photo credit // The featured image in this post was made by Pumpkin the Raccoon’s mom, and you can find more like it here.

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    Gotta be honest: I’ve scoffed at ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ every time I pass it on shelves or tables in the bookstore. I’ve picked it up, gone, “YAH SO YOU GET RID OF STUFF WHY IS THIS HARD,” and then put it back down.

    Konmari? ::scoff:: I’ve got that shit nailed.

    Only I’m afraid of my basement.

    It’s where I put all the stuff that doesn’t live in my clutter-free upstairs existence. I avoid going down there so I can tell myself I’ve got my clutter handled and have no need for any new methods in the sparking joy department.

    Admittedly, some of the stuff down there is still important. I’m not going to get rid of my Christmas ornaments or my suitcases in order to free up space, ’cause I’ll just end up buying them again within a few months. (Paris is coming up, baby!) Likewise, I’ll still need rock salt and weed killer and a beach bag at some point in the near future.

    Konmari for business // Brand Camp

    The useful objects aren’t the reason I fear the basement; I fear the unknown ‘other stuff’ that has piled up over the years.

    Sentimental objects that no longer work. I’ve tried to get rid of my high school clarinet before, but couldn’t, even though it’s been completely ruined by the basement damp for more than five years.

    The unnamed clutter. The ‘oh I’ll just go through that later’ papers that yielded cellphone bills from 2006 and birthday planning leftovers from 2011. Empty worksheets that never got to be filled with goals. Empty folders. Artsy images I’ve printed but no longer want. Extra vases from Doey’s wedding planning circa 2012.

    The papers I was sure I would need. I kept my wedding planning receipts in a folder because, apparently, you can return weddings from whence they came. Can I get a refund?

    I’ve shuffled the papers around down there for years, only to find that there was nothing worth keeping upon further examination. Boxes and bags of papers, gone within a few hours.

    Clutter: cleared.

    Konmari level: superbly amazing A++.

    All that clutter clearing got me to thinking about my business basement.

    I’ve recently made some sweeping internal changes to my business that I promised I wouldn’t talk about until January 2017 — OH DEAR GOD WHY DID I PROMISE MYSELF THAT — but I’m actively doing the same sweeping and cleaning at a business basement level.

    What’s lying around down there, in the basement, that I no longer find interesting or worthwhile?

    What’s the business equivalent of a 2006 T-Mobile bill that’s already been paid?

    Which is to say…

    What do I keep shuffling around that doesn’t mean a damn thing to me anymore?

    Much like my physical downstairs, my business basement turned up a shit-ton of stuff I don’t use, don’t care about, and don’t want to keep any longer.

    My business basement contains five main offenders, which I’m ranking from least to most dangerous.

    I’m guessing yours is similar. (Also my business basement is mostly virtual, so it’s even more cluttered than an actual physical basement full of spider webs — I can just upload all that shit to Dropbox and forget about it, hooray!)

    These basement entities can hang around the edges of our psyches and hard drives, doing damage for years to come. It’s only when we take the time to examine each one that we realize they’re not only useless, but actively triggering mayhem in subtle ways.

    Business basement offender #5: paid programs.

    I come from a childhood in which you saved the ‘expensive’ lotion (retail value $4.99) for company and used the stuff from the dollar store for yourself, so deleting paid programs isn’t easy and triggers anxiety. But when they’re gone, aaaaaaaah: the deep sigh of relief like after you complete an intense workout and the first drops of water from the shower hit your aching shoulders. SO GOOD.

    I deleted programs I’ve completed and no longer use, or once enjoyed but have moved beyond. No need to keep it for later, even though at one point it cost $499 or $2000 or $1499 or YAH IT DOESN’T MATTER I DON’T NEED IT ANYMORE.

    I also deleted the ‘someday’ programs I was going to complete ‘when I had more time’ or when I suddenly developed an interest in accounting. Someday equals never. I admitted that and my trash bin rejoiced.

    Business basement offender #4: books.

    I’ve physically recycled some books (it’s doing the planet a favor to take them out of circulation, promise), while donating others to the library and offering my favorites to friends and clients. I keep a rather small bookshelf in my house and once it’s full, books have to be voted off my personal island or ordered from the library to be allowed into the house.

    Without this practice, you’d have seen me on an episode of Hoarders in which I’m unshowered and weeping on the corner, screaming about how I’m really going to read The Complete Works of Edgar Allen Poe AND Stephen King AND Shakespeare AND Jane Austen starting tomorrow, dammit, while my relatives shake their heads on the sidelines and talk about how I’ve always had a serious book problem.

    Konmari that doesn

    Business basement offender #3: free shit.

    Sure, I’ll download your mandala coloring book and your sex guide and your full moon ritual tips and your dance video! Free shit HOORAY IT’S THE BEST!

    …until it isn’t. Until you realize that, unless you would pay for a free thing, you shouldn’t download it at all.

    Free shit is capable of wasting more of your time and energy than the entirety of the Real Housewives franchise, combined.

    It’s often designed to simply sell something, if not multiple somethings, and is the internet equivalent of business junk food. My business doesn’t need more Twinkies, more corn chips, and more energy drinks: free webinars, free reports, free guides, free infographics, free secrets, tips, or tricks.

    My business needs lentils and kale, quinoa and warm, nourishing broth. That shit doesn’t come for free, I’ve found, and those few people who offer the best and most delicious business food are the ones I’m happy to pay for their work.

    Business basement offender #2: gurus, leaders, and aspiring empire builders.

    People who ‘still have good information’ or who ‘have inspired me over the years’ but who now feel off, bad, wrong, confusing, or annoying got the boot. It physically hurt me to unsubscribe from a few peeps I’ve grown to love over the years, but honoring the parts of me that now say “Nope!” when those people talk is an act of love for myself and my business.

    If I’m one of those people for you — if you shake your head and hope I’ll go back to sensible, blond-haired, non-sweary, bullet-pointed old times — it’s okay to let go.

    Unfollow, unsubscribe, and move on. There are too many amazing, wonderful, and lovely people you can play with to spend even one minute more listening to someone who irritates you, rubs you the wrong way, or feels ‘off’ in ways you can’t exactly explain.

    Even if they’re so smart or seem to have it all figured out. Even if they’re making millions, clearly have aaaaaall their shit together, or promise they can help you make your first six or seven or eight figures in the next six years (or months or weeks or days).

    If they don’t make your heart light up and say, “Yes yes yes yes yes,” they won’t help you in the long term. PROMISE.

    Further: I quit the Facebook groups, both paid and free, that I’d joined over the years but that I no longer cared about checking. The ‘communities’ that are little more than factories of LOUD, constantly popping up with notifications and marked with 20+ new conversations, but that didn’t hold my interest long enough to pop over and see what was going on in there. It was part digital, part human clutter that was taking up energy, so I quit. Over and over and over and over, I quit.

    Yes, these ‘communities’ were a paid bonus, in many cases, and they could possibly be beneficial, someday, maybe, but that isn’t worth the daily energetic drains it takes to get to the maybe-possibly-helpful day in the future. Because right now, in this moment? The ‘communities’ aren’t helping. So I gave ‘em up.

    This was way more difficult than giving up the programs or deleting the freebies because people were involved (in theory), but I’m friends with the ones I like, and the rest? They’re no longer in my sphere of Facebook-ian influence. (Psst! I haven’t missed the ‘communities’ in the four months after my quit-a-thon. Not. Even. Once.)

    Business basement offender #1: old beliefs.

    These are the equivalent of those random piles of paper you’ve accumulated over the last decade: the mental clutter you move from house to house and room to room, never opening the boxes to make sure you still need what’s inside.

    At the bottom of my basement, I found a bunch of beliefs that are no longer true. They went something like this:

    I want to be in charge of a team.

    I have to be in charge of a team to make a decent living.

    I have to offer a scalable program to keep paying my bills.

    I can’t get people to come to live workshops.

    I have to sell my products and services using bullet points and pain points.

    I have to wait until I hit $X income before I can practice radical generosity.

    I can’t keep doing what I’m doing (coaching and listening and offering practical, intuitive advice while helping peeps make sweeping yet simple business changes) until I’ve found the perfect name for it.

    I have to have an editorial calendar for the next six months to be legit.

    I have to have a detailed business plan for the next three to five years to get where I’m going.

    DUDE. NONE OF THAT SHIT IS TRUE.

    I’m on a freaking business adventure and I’m open to what comes my way.

    I’ve made major (major major major but I can’t tell you yet) steps toward radical generosity in the past few weeks.

    I like selling from a place of ‘hey, let’s get together and see what happens when you learn this new stuff,’ not from DOES IT HURT WHEN I TALK ABOUT THIS LET ME JUST PRESS ON THIS PAIN POINT HARDER AND HARDER UNTIL YOU GIVE ME MONEY.

    I’ve created editorial calendars for each six-month stint that I’ve been in business, like a good business girl should, but I’ve never stuck to one for more than three weeks.

    My business is an adventure. And I like it that way.

    Until you do the hard, hard work of opening up each envelope and laughing at what’s inside — much like finding a receipt for imitation sea glass purchased from Michael’s Arts and Crafts in 2005 — these beliefs hold unspeakable power over you.

    They dull your sense of what’s possible. They carry a great deal of shame with them, as well as dreams you were sure would come true, and they are incredibly difficult to release into the wilds from which they came. They used to mean something. It’s hard to admit that they no longer carry that same meaning.

    The work of releasing them — of noticing what you used to believe and holding it to the light to see if it’s still true — is worth it.

    They’re no longer valuable, so they’re free to go. It’s okay to trash, delete, recycle, release, or eliminate the programs, books, people, and beliefs that aren’t relevant to who you are right now.

    The art of noticing who bugs the shit out of you, rubs you the wrong way, or who relentlessly e-mails you free shit that seems aimed at taking your dollars but that in no way resonates with the core of your being is also difficult, but worth it.

    When you’ve finished, you can look around your business basement and say, “I need everything that’s here.”

    …and make no mistake, that shit will spark joy.

    Konmari for your business // Brand Camp

    I’ve learned from everything I’ve decided to keep, and I’ve recycled, deleted, donated, or gifted the rest. That’s the hard work that ushers in a new day, a new way of looking at things, and a whole new era in your business.

    You don’t have to listen to the cluttered voices or conflicting advice. You don’t have to accept gifts just because they’re free or carry ‘no obligation to join’ or because ‘you can cancel at any time.’

    You don’t have to do business the way everyone else appears to be doing it.

    I dare you to do the hard work of finding the ways in which you’d like to connect with your peeps.

    The ways in which you can sell that feel good, as well as the ways that feel absolutely horrific. (You’ll inevitably find one when searching for the other.)

    I dare you to do the hard work of connecting with and helping your clients in ways that feel light, ethical, and joyful for you. I repeat: light, ethical, and joyful FOR YOU. Not for that millionaire or that guru or those billionaires or as recommended by Fortune magazine. For you.

    If you’re all, YAH BUT WHERE DO I START, Go Your Own Way: free yourself from business as usual is yours free when you join the Fuck Yah club. I suggest starting there. (Also it’s free, but don’t download it just because it’s free, GEEZ HAS THIS ARTICLE TAUGHT YOU NOTHING. If it’s interesting to you to learn how to market and sell your products and services in ways that are every bit as light-hearted as they are effective, get it here.)

    Konmari for Business // Brand Camp

    If you wanna sort through your business basement together, thus freeing yourself from the programs, books, freebies, gurus, and beliefs currently holding you captive in person, get yourself to Mullet. We’ll do the hard work of sorting through your Hoarders-level business basement stuff in March. There are three spots available, but you’ve gotta hop on that shiz now to make it happen. Now, as in, Friday is the last day to register.  Take a look or register here.

    May you clean your business basement all the way to the smooth and shining concrete, and may you usher in a whole new way of making a living when you start anew.

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