The path of personal development

When I managed people at the non-profit job I used to have, I always believed it was important to ask of them only what I was willing to do myself; if I asked them to clean out the staff mini-fridge that had accumulated a disgusting amount of sludge, I made sure that I had done that exact task myself at some point. If the higher ups required some tedious data entry on a broken software system from our department, I didn’t just pass off all that work to my employees. Of course, there is value in delegation, but what I’m talking about has to do with camaraderie and compassion, not the time-is-money mentality.

I approach the personal consulting work I do with the same aim. To me, it’s not fair to ask clients to explore possibilities for personal growth unless I’ve done the same. I recently went through the LifePlan process with Claudine at Ascent Life Planning; it was a valuable experience that I am grateful to have completed. For me, talking through my goals with a professional (as opposed to my partner or friends) makes me feel more accountable to complete them. Also, after two days of looking at my life, talents, and passion on flip charts, I feel confident that the work I’m doing is aligned with my values, experience, and heart.

Turning the eye inward and examining your life can be scary. I’ve come to realize that many people don’t even consider doing this through coaching, therapy, or honest personal reflection. I can say from experience that breaking away from the social conventions that attach stigma to all things self-help is liberating. It’s not easy to say yes to the path of personal development; free of busyness for the sake of always doing something; free of mobile device dependency to keep you distracted from yourself. It seems to me that true happiness and joy can be found by embarking on the expedition to pave our individual paths rather than walking down someone else’s. The first step is so close, what’ll it be for you?

Amazing grace

You don’t have to be a woman to be a feminist. Last week I watched a man deliver a beautiful, heartfelt, thoughtful argument at Buntport Theater’s Great Debate. He was on Team Going Braless, arguing against Team Erin Go Bragh. Super serious topic, clearly. In six minutes or less, the man criticized bro culture with a level of scrutiny that I typically see turned on women who refuse to drink the fashion industry’s kool-aid; you know, the women who are judged for not fitting into the size zero definition of beauty. His argument shed light on the ridiculousness of some of our cultural values and was a tribute to women like Patti Smith, who are amazing—and aging.

Amazing and aging. This is how my partner makes me feel. He tells me I look beautiful sometimes, but not so much to make me believe my looks are what’re most important about me. He compliments me when I make brave, difficult decisions, and encourages me to continue paving the path that’s right for me. He’s a feminist and I love him.

My wish for all the amazing and aging women in my life is for us to fret less about our looks and more about our legacies. When we age out of this world, how will we be remembered? Certainly not only for how stylish or slender we are, but for all the beautiful memories we make with those we care about; fun, ridiculous, loving, and true.

You will be missed

Some deaths hit you harder than others. I’m honored to have known and called Eric Klimt a friend; he died last week on a solo climb of Moonlight Buttress in Zion National Park. I’m still in shock, yet I also find myself feeling infuriated at what I consider an injustice to humanity. Here we are, living in a world where Trump, a hate-filled fear monger has the spotlight, a platform to spread his fear based, racist, exclusionary opinions—and the angel of death takes away a human who is Trump’s antithesis. There’s nothing fair about it.

I’m not a climber and didn’t know Eric from the climbing world. I met him at CC and we were in the same circle of friends. He was definitely a rare one; he had the ability to be goofy and vulnerable, thoughtful and compassionate, adventurous and encouraging. His presence was a steady and grounding one, I’m convinced he was an old soul.

Years after college, when I sent word out that I was having a 30th birthday party in Denver, he showed up. Along with some other friends from CC, that weekend we resurrected a game called Stump, danced like everybody was watching and we didn’t give a damn, and spent time with beers on a blanket in the park. We laughed and laughed and enjoyed each other’s company. It’s strange how my memory of that weekend shifts with the news of Eric’s death. It feels more precious, knowing that it’s the last time I’ll spend with that particular group of people.

Eric’s physical body may be gone, but his spirit is still very present with all those he ever knew. This gives me hope, because all the people who knew Eric can pay forward his legacy of kindness. We can honor him by moving through this world of ours with more patience and less judgement; open and inclusive; as Joseph Campbell would say, Eric followed his bliss—let his life be an inspiration to us all.

Sending love to his family and those who were closest to him, who feel the loss the deepest.

Goodbye dear friend, thank you for being.

First attempt: Stump in trunk
Second attempt: Stump hogs backseat
Stump movers
Game on

Three spoiler-free reasons to see Zootopia

It’s been inspiring to see what Disney Animation Studios has created since Ed Catmull and John Lasseter began leading it nearly a decade ago. After seeing Zootopia last night, I’m convinced that Catmull and Lasseter have successfully created a culture at DAS that empowers the artists who work there to express freely from the heart. I’m sure it’s a constant challenge to maintain a company space that cultivates creativity; Zootopia is proof that DAS is doing just that.

Here’s why I think watching Zootopia is worth your time, even if you’re an adult:

  1. While a certain political campaign that started out as a joke to many and is now terrifyingly real—is all about hating on the “other”—Zootopia is about inclusion and questioning the tactic of fear based actions and reactions.
  2. I never thought I’d have empathy for meter maids, yet after seeing Zootopia, I do.
  3. It’s funny. I know humor is relative, but there are so many smart and clever jokes; I love when animated films offer subtext humor for adults.

I tend to rate experiences and films with a soul check; if my soul feels nourished after being somewhere or seeing something, I take note. Zootopia nourished my soul. Not in a huge way, but a way that made me appreciate that the film was made.