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4 Ways to Embrace Uncertainty

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Always do what you are afraid to do. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Have you ever felt like you were just not good enough? That somehow everyone had received the handbook for life, except you? Do you keep waiting for the moment when you will finally arrive and feel like you have made it?

Yes, I have been there too. When I was younger, I was sure that age 35 was when I would definitely arrive at my full self — that I would finally become who I really was and who I was meant to be.

When I turned 35, I was in a state of shock when I realized I had not arrived at this age as I had imagined. I did not have it all figured out. Far from it.

How had I arrived at this spot in my life and still felt like I had so much to do to get where I wanted to be in my career? With so many unknowns?

I felt angry.

4 Ways to Be Your Own Hero

Photo by Matej Jur?evi?
A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles. ~Christopher Reeve

What makes us love Harry Potter or most action movies? Why do we always cheer for the good guys? Why do we love a good story of challenge, perseverance and triumph?

Why makes these stories timeless?

The story of the hero has not changed for thousands of years. Since ancient times our traditions and culture venerate the myth of the hero on a mission. A hero leaves his or her home, faces challenges, triumphs and usually returns home as a changed man or women.

In 1990 the late American writer and intellectual Joseph Campbell wrote of the hero’s journey — the mythological journey that all men and women go through in life. He believed that the highest purpose in life was to complete this journey like some mythological voyage.

A hero is without shape and beyond time; the human need for heroes transcends all cultures.

How I Overcame Social Anxiety

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You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do. ~Eleanor Roosevelt

I’ve always been shy. I’ve become accustomed to being called “the quiet one.” My mum tells stories of me hiding my face away whenever we had company when I was just a wee toddler — a toddler who, through genetic build up and perhaps social conditioning, acted on his instinct to cover up and hide away.

As I grew, so did my anxiety. From my childhood innocence, I transformed into a more receptive, sensitive young man. These were optimum conditions for anxiety to grow, like warmth and dampness to bacteria.

My older brother’s bar-mitzvah exposed and perhaps exaggerated my anxieties. As obligated by tradition and expectation, my nine-year-old self took to the stage to deliver the brother and sister speech.

The speech was received well, but my nervous laughing gradually turned to crying, the situation too overwhelming for my anxious little soul. I once again took to hiding my face — my sister’s arm a shield against the nerves and embarrassment I felt looking into the crowd.

The episode was laughed off by those in attendance, put down to my shyness and my youth. But as I grew older, with hair growing where it once didn’t and muscles starting to show up, inside I was still this shy, scared boy of nine.

3 Ways to Declutter Your Mind

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What a liberation to realize that the “voice in my head” is not who I am. Who am I then? The one who sees that. ~Eckhart Tolle

We all lead busy lives. In today’s world, it’s as if it’s a badge of honor. Always rushing to the next thing. Working late to meet that deadline to please a boss or client. Driving from one kid’s soccer practice to the other.

With all of the busyness that fills our days, weeks and months, our mental space begins to fill simultaneously. Internal thinking begins to pile high collecting dust. Stress and anxiety begin to form, ultimately, transcending into our outer world. Our days become even busier with stress and anxiety layered on top.

This is especially true during times of personal struggle. Our mental space becomes so cluttered with thoughts of reality, sprinkled in with fictitious inner-ramblings that we often find it hard to decipher between the two.

When my wife and I decided to sell our business of three years, it put us in a not-so-desirable position financially. As we found ourselves struggling, I, without even knowing, handed the keys of my outer world to my inner world’s chattering ego.

Hope After Grief: A Personal Story

Photo by Tú Anh
A mother is she who can take the place of all others, but whose place no one else can take. ~Cardinal Mermillod

One morning while preparing for school, my sister and I were suddenly hurried to the car. I couldn’t help but notice all the people coming into the house and speaking in low tones. Some even managed to point in our direction, shaking their heads.

I was a kid, but I wasn’t dumb. I knew the inevitable had happened. I had lost my mother. I felt terrible, but then I refused to cry. I was glad that her pain and suffering had finally come to an end.

You see, my mother was a very beautiful woman. And if perhaps you didn’t notice her because of her looks, you would definitely be captivated by her charming smile.

The earliest vivid memory I have of her was during my nursery school graduation. That was a long time ago. I was probably around five or six, but the picture still adorns my wall to this day.

One Simple Way to Improve Your Confidence

Photo by Jill Wellington
If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try. ~Seth Godin

During that awkward phase of high school when you are just as confused by what your math teacher says as what your hormones are telling you, my life shifted dramatically by the most dreaded experience for all school age children — I changed schools.

Thanks to the infinite wisdom of the local school board and their new school zoning policy, I was required to change to a new high school as a freshman. The standard adjustment period from elementary to high school was made exponentially more unenjoyable by the fact that my new school had an entirely new social demographic.

I went from the average awkward teenager to one who was so scared of just being looked at as he got off the bus that my entire body would break out in sweat. Forget talking to girls — walking through the halls at recess was difficult enough. All those eyes looking at me!

My family and friends encouraged me to be “more confident. This is perhaps the worst advice you can give to someone who is border-lining on social anxiety disorder.

A DIY Guide to Art Therapy

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Art is not an amusement, nor a distraction, nor is it, as many men maintain, an escape from life. On the contrary, it is a high training of the soul, essential to the soul’s growth, to its unfoldment. ~Lawren Harris

Have you ever felt anxious about starting open-ended tasks?

Do you feel lost without a step-by-step guide for new projects?

How about a blank canvas? Does it throw you into panic mode?

Regrettably, this has been the story of my life.

Getting the perfect shot as a portrait photographer, creating a flawless website as an Internet marketer or even seeing a blank canvas in an art class — any new endeavor that had no template would make me panic.

Your Guide to Fun in 4 Steps

Photo by Ernest Iannelli
Never, ever underestimate the importance of having fun. ~Randy Pausch

A few months back I went to a friend’s birthday party. We grilled, chatted and played board games, among other things. When I returned home, I said to my husband, “I had so much fun tonight!” I was sort of stunned by the fact for days.

What struck me was that I had spent years before going to parties, hanging out with people and spending time on my own without having fun. If I looked back, most of the time I was supposed to be having a good time, I was worrying about something I’d done wrong or how I’d get something done later. It was a rough way to live.

It was when I started my own business that I understood this habit I had. I had no idea how to live in the present moment. And when you’ve just invested your time, energy and cash into a business you don’t know will work, it’s nice to have an outlet. I finally realized I needed to find a few I could lose myself in.

I’m fairly certain I’m not the only one who struggles to have fun in the way we’re meant to — losing yourself in the moment, laughing until your stomach hurts or just feeling so content you haven’t looked at a clock in hours.

I think, sadly, many of us never learn how to do this as children. Our lives may have been filled with chaos or been too rigorously scheduled.

How Being Wrong is Part of Success

Photo by Nissor Abdourazakov
Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm. ~Winston Churchill

Before I moved from Minneapolis to New York City in 2006, I worked in the prepress production department of a family-owned advertising agency that is consistently listed as one of the best places to work in Minneapolis, for good reason. (OK, I will spill: It’s Periscope.)

We had a saying there that I still refer to whenever I need it (which is often): “It’s okaaaayyyy to be wrong!” When someone discovered that she had made a mistake, she would raise her hand in the air and say, “I was wrong; it’s okay to be wrong.”

There was no blame. There was no asking whose fault it was and firing them or making them feel bad. It was a culture of acceptance of mistakes.

This allowed us to learn from them and improve.

We talked about our mistakes — what they were, how they happened and how we could avoid making them in the future. We talked about how we could do better, and because we treated them as a learning opportunity instead of a shameful failure, our mistakes led to better work.

This has been a tough thing for me to learn.

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