On Showing Up and Rocking It (The Ricki Lake Recap)

The whole story is up on the blog in about 5 minutes (link in profile). @ecowomb #rickilakegreenshow

It’s Saturday, two days after the show, and I’m still not totally with it. I’ve slept umteen hours and am still finding my footing, but I wanted to get this whole experience down before I forget it.

To answer the most frequently asked question first: The airdate is April 17th on Fox, and you can signup here or here to get a reminder or watch the video we capture of it.

The overarching vibe of the entire experience: amazeballs.

I realized long before the show that this wasn’t about being on TV, or connecting with the beautiful Ricki (whose work I admire anyway).

This was about me.

It was about making a declaration to myself of self-approval and nonjudgment. About surrendering my desire to control and perfect, and instead forgiving myself my perceived shortcomings and “not enough-ness” by allowing myself to just own Who I Am.

It felt like years of Digging Deep all culminating in front of a live studio audience.

And it was magical.

Of course I did. So did my mom. #rickilakebitches

Ahem. My driver. Armen from Armenia. He was awesome. So was his car. #rickilakebitches!!

Curled up in a bathrobe. #DiggingDeep and swimming in Balance EO. Feeling so ready for this gig. Heart and soul all in. The taping is at 12:30 Pacific but I'm accepting good vibes all morning! #rickilakebitches!!

Continental brekkie, #paleo style. And there's a Lyfe Kitchen and a Chipotle nearby. Perfection. #rickilakebitches!!

 

I knew going into this that my shit – some really old shit, too – would surface. I knew I’d have the opportunity to be nervous, scared, and self-deprecating. I knew I’d hear some old stories in my mind, way too much criticism, and a lot of negativity from my mouth.

Because I knew this as a very real possibility, I made up my mind to go into it full of intention and awareness. I spent an hour or more every day with those stories and voices. I embraced this as the opportunity it was to step into my Self. I turned off the habit of keeping myself outside of things, keeping my focus on the outer, or keeping myself busy in the superficial, and I allowed myself to turn inward completely, to own what surfaced, and to spend the time necessary to make peace with it.

And I’m damn proud of myself for it.

Sometime last week the words came to me: “I am not doing this for anyone else. I am up there for an audience of two – my Spirit and the Spirit. This is for us to celebrate my own ability to love and live. This is a milestone in the agreement we made for this life.

I know it probably makes little sense, but this whole thing was not really about sharing green living or what we do. Those were just the bonuses, the icing on the cake.

This was about me celebrating Life and embracing self-approval.

I had voices rise up, and I chose to answer each one with love and affirmation.

I had fear surface, and I chose to respond with a reminder of my Truth.

I had doubts pop in, and I surrendered each thought that didn’t come from Spirit.

Surrender.

Surrender surrender surrender.

If it hadn’t been the work I’ve been doing with that Guiding Word this year I may not have gotten up there and rocked it so thoroughly and completely.

Surrender didn’t mean giving up, or saying no, or taking the easy way out. I wasn’t surrendering my desire to feel confident and calm and excited on the show. I wasn’t surrendering this wonderful opportunity.

I was surrendering every negative thought or expectation.

I surrendered every idea that I was going to sound like an idiot, every worry that I’d mess something up, every thought that I had to be some conventional idea of perfect (as well as every after-thought that because I can’t possibly be perfect I might as well not even try). I surrendered every idea that I knew what needed to happen, I surrendered every expectation to perform or force it to come together, and I surrendered every temptation to be something or someone I wasn’t.

I showed up fully. Fully in my body, fully in my heart, fully in my spirit. I did so without apology for what I need and without trying to fit a box. I owned Who I Am and what I do without backpedaling or making excuse. I felt confident and comfortable just Being.

And it felt amazing. Which meant I was free to experience some amazing things.

It meant jumping on the bed in excitement.

Again, of course I did.  #rickilakebitches!!

It meant wearing clothes that felt good on me and doing my own makeup, so I could get up there in my own skin.

The hair and makeup crew.  #rickilakebitches!!

Me and the mama. Represent.  #rickilakebitches!!

It meant laughing and being silly with friends backstage.

Chillaxin with the EcoWomb crew! @ecowomb #rickilakebitches !!

It meant dancing behind the stage to get myself ready and doing a little strut-dance as I walked out to greet the audience.

It meant smiling big, and cracking stupid jokes, and not really remembering 90% of what I wanted to emphasize, and still rocking my socks off.

It meant hearing my name from across the restaurant later that evening and looking up to see it was Ricki waving to me, and getting another opportunity to hug her tight and thank her for everything she’s done (and is doing) in this world.

End of the day, me and my mama decided to go have tea while we waited for our car back to the airport, and we hear someone call to me from across the restaurant. The beautiful earthy mama @rickilake was there just when i was lamenting not getting her phot

It meant CELEBRATING and JOYFULNESS and FUN.

It meant being damn proud of myself.

Me and Angela after the show

I had nerves and I surrendered them. I had fears and I released them.

I had self-judgments and I freed myself from them.

I walked-strutted-danced onto that stage in total confidence and self-approval, without any fear or butterflies. I instantly forgave myself for my mistakes and imperfections and I just loved all over myself for having the courage to say Yes to this opportunity and the openness to work through all that Life gave me the opportunity to DIG IN to.

I didn’t share much about green living, really. It was all over too fast.

But I shared the whole of my heart. I allowed my light to shine, and I shared myself.

And that’s what makes this thing a wild success in my book.

That’s why I know I rocked it.

I Have This Whole Other Side (And It’s Going on the Ricki Lake Show)

IMG_4285

I can really trace this all back to embracing (I can’t quite say “choosing” cuz Life wasn’t exactly giving me much of a choice) my Guiding Word of Surrender.

Life has walked (is still walking) me through a long series of examining and releasing and realigning. It’s been a quiet, still sort of process, like quietly watching a movie screen flitting across the inside of my eyelids, asking me to view with openness the areas in which I was not listening, the expectations I had that were not working, the personal dogma I was walking on a very long leash, the ducking out of the banquet I was doing before it was my turn to make the toast, the ways in which I was battening down the hatches of my lips and not allowing myself to just speak in real terms about Who I Am and what I do.

The ways in which I was compartmentalizing and segmenting and segregating the different parts of myself under the old, old story that no one would want to hear it all, see it all. Treating my own heart as though only certain parts of it were warranted in certain situations and the rest needed to wait outside in the rain.

You’ve gotta be ready when you say Yes to what Life is asking of you, because it will always take you somewhere you never expected.

Like the Ricki Lake show.

I am going on the Ricki Lake show because I said yes to Life when it asked me to share more of my practical side with the world. Because when I started sharing it, they took notice.

Some of you know my practical side.

But most of you don’t.

Most of you have no idea that we have a green living website that we write on and are creating guides for and are passionate about.

Most of you don’t know we love and use and advocate so passionately for essential oils through that green living site of ours.

And Life has been calling me out on that.

Why do you hide something that you love?
Why do you keep to yourself something that has made life easier for you?
Why are you tucking away a part of what you do that makes you Who You Are?

In the past month, Life has pulled me to align those parts of myself with this part here. Realigning the practical work with the deeper inner work I advocate through my coaching.

Because what the hell is all that deep inner work without some practical application?

I have no idea what this really means yet. I doubt anything will really seem like it’s changed from the outsid – from the outside. From the inside everything is shifting. The cubicles are being dismantled and this open, spacious work space is developing to create that organic flow that I so value in everything else I do but couldn’t see I was damming up here.

And I’m starting with this: A live Q&A call to talk essential oils.

I want to share exactly how I use these essential oils for the practical like health and wellness, as well as how I use them in the Digging Deep process, in coaching, in working with the principles of trust or Surrender, in releasing fear.

And mostly I’m going to answer your questions. I’m gonna not hold back my Inner Woo-Woo or my Inner Pragmatic when they both want to share why they each love these oils. And I am gonna help you decide if these are something you might want to try.

I’m especially going to see if you want to join me in using them.

Because there is too much magic and growth happening. There is too much abundance being created and health goals being met and healing taking place. There is too much support and fun and excitement among new and old members.

Why would I wanna hold that back?

Why have I held that back?

Oh yeah, for the same reason I have been outrageously fucking nervous about the Ricki Lake show. Because to get up in front of people in a new way brings up some really old shit, stronger than I’ve ever had shit come up before.

Because to get up there and share my values and my techniques and my strategies and my beliefs, even if it’s something as “benign” and simple as sharing green living in front of a live studio audience, stirs up some massive shivers in my body and some really old voices that tell me all kinds of things.

You’re too loud.
You’re too much.
You have no idea what you’re even talking about.
You’re going to mess up.
You’re going to talk too fast and get tongue-twisted and look like a major dork.
You would be better off if you just sat down and shut up.

And I’m practicing replying to those really old voices with something more akin to, “And that’s okay. I’m going for it anyway. Cuz why the hell wouldn’t I?”

I’m not playing bigger. I’m playing authentic.

 

P.S. I’ll have more info on Ricki Lake in the coming weeks, I promise. You’ll likely get really freaking sick of me recounting my butterflies and how I’m working through them.

5 Cool New Places You Can Find Me {Like Problogger!}

Getting ready for today's Tribe/Sisterhood call with @christieinge and enjoying the cool air and squirrel calls.

I’ve been getting around a little lately, collaborating with some new peeps and having some fun with it. I felt like I was so swamped with the OP e-course I just didn’t have a chance to network and collaborate with anyone for a good chunk of the year. Or I haven’t had a chance to share them. Boo.

This afternoon the rad Christie Inge joined us on the Organic Tribe tele-circle to talk about what she does best: intuitive eating, honoring your body, and making peace with food {she was even rad enough to send some extra goodies too}, and reminding me again how much I love her, her work, her voice. If you haven’t checked her out, please do. I think you’ll love her. {If you’re part of the Tribe/Sisterhood, grab the recording from your downloads!}

Here’s where I’ve been myself lately:

  1. Problogger: 6 Practices to Overcome Your Fears of Playing Bigger – Holy goodness, it’s pretty awesome to guest post for Problogger on something that is so totally my passion and my gift. It was also a little nerve-wracking (the irony!) and I put it off for like…4 months? But after emailing with them and having my words so happily embraced, it felt goooood. So maybe that’s #7 to overcome your fears: just do it already.
  2. A Year With Myself: Serenity* – This was a contribution to a year-long journey of self-excavation and growth. I contributed to Serenity: How to Recognize and Use the Elements of Inner Peace and Spirituality. It was a powerful interview that left me deep in thought and processing myself, as well as mini-lesson and prompts that you can access for free (or purchase the entire year of coaches, speakers, writers and more!).
  3. Wellness Warrior at Creative Soul in Motion – I’m wait late in sharing this one. It happened to go live when we were in California and my head was still whirling from the OP course. Erin is a gorgeous woman and her blog is newly launched and growing. Please check her out.
  4. Creative Women Series at The Wild Creative – This interview came through at the perfect time for me, as I had just fallen in love with art journaling and was beginning to examine my own creativity. Her words and questions came through to prompt me into deeper places and connect me to my past in surprising ways. Still processing all this so maybe I’ll be blogging more on it later.
  5. Home Education Magazine – This is REALLY exciting for me! HEM is a long-standing publication in the homeschooling community and Barb asked me to be a regular contributor, writing on “The Balance of Motherhood and Personhood”. Holy smokes, it’s so cool to get a magazine in your mail with your words inside. I’ve had it a couple times with quotes from Sustainable Baby Steps in some high profile mags, but writing an article is WAY different. *happydance* for more dreams coming true.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I put myself out there while maintaining my own sense of integrity and balance in my life. It’s not always easy to juggle it all, but I do enjoy it when I nail it. There is always a question of what is possible and what is sensible and what is heartfelt.

Connecting with amazing people doing amazing things feels amazing. Connecting with myself and my family and not overburdening myself feels even more amazing. Finding the balance between intentional and creative entrepreneurial and personal endeavors has been curious and edifying for me, although not totally clear. It’s meant taking things one day at a time, one offer to collaborate at a time, one creative opportunity at a time. It’s meant a lot of stillness and intuitive guesses and curious observations.

It’s been nice, how I’m changing up my business practices, slowing things down to a more mindful, simple pace; saying no to things I was embracing and saying yes to new things, bringing more art and beauty and style and personality into what I do.

After over a decade of being an entrepreneur, I guess I can say it got tiring. And I’m enjoying experimenting with this new idea that’s been with me, that it doesn’t have to be constant growth and motion and launch after launch. {Gee. Imagine that.}

That it can be slow and easy, and you know…organic. {Again. Imagine that.}

Oh and while I’m here, some more graphics I’ve had fun creating for Facebook:

* Totally an affiliate link!

I Say Ego, But I Really Mean Fear

I sometimes throw around the word Ego. But I’m really not fond of the common definition or the connotation.

This is a throwback to my upbringing, to being raised in a belief that there is some inherently bad or broken part of us that, as humans, we must fight against (fight against it in ourselves and fight against it in others, namely in our children).

I don’t believe this.

At all.

I do not believe there is a soul on this planet who is naturally bad, born terrible, or inherently evil.

There are people who do some terrible, diabolical, tragic things. But I hesitate to even use the word “evil” to describe them, as this just seems to me a cop-out, as if I can all easily explain away such behaviors with a sweep of the hand, brushing off the deeper cause and responsibility we all have (to one another) by labeling someone as “just the way they are”.

That’s what “Ego” in the common spiritual sense of the word conveys to me. A generalization. A simplified reason for why we are the way we are, or why we do the things we do.

It’s not everyone’s connotation or intention, certainly not, but it is what comes up for me based on my own stories.

And yet, I find myself using the word myself.

But I use it in a different way.

Because what others see as “ego”, as this need to war with themselves, to take blame (not to be confused with responsibility), a reason they must work hard to change…

I just see fear. A need for understanding of ourselves, of our vulnerability that causes us to lash out in a broken attempt to protect ourselves (or others). A need for compassion for ourselves as we make mistakes, act imperfect – an important experience to our ability to learn.

What gets called “Ego” always boils down to fear.

We insist on our rightness, because we’re afraid of being wrong. We fight with our children, because we’re afraid of being judged or seeing them hurt or messing things up. We put on our big talk and incessantly point out our goodness, because we’re terrified we’re actually not good enough. We lack trust – for ourselves, for others, for the process of Life – because we’re afraid of what will happen if we’re not micro-managing every nuance of our lives.

This isn’t “Ego”, some sneaking demon hidden in our hearts hellbent on destroying us.

This is vulnerability, imperfection, challenges, spiritual growth and the fear it brings up in us, what we’re afraid it means or says.

And we’ve learned that it must say something (about us, about others, about Life) based on the lessons we’ve absorbed, what we interrupted )based on what Life has shown us) about how we “should” be, all of which has been created based on the belief that what we actually are is inherently bad, evil, not good enough. And so we’ve learned we must fight to prove we’re otherwise (or prove them right, which is a topic for another day).

What if it were another way?

What if, instead of believing we are bad and seeing our badness and going to war with our badness, we all believed we were inherently whole and wonderful and worthy and good. And that even when we make mistakes, we see those mistakes as whole and wonderful and good in their ability to teach us and then show us how to recognize and amplify and make greater our whole, wonderful, goodness?

Doesn’t it stand to reason that if we believed we are whole, wonderful, and inherently worthy people who are capable of making mistakes (mistakes that don’t change Who We Are), we would then see our wholeness and our wonder and our worthiness and our goodness, instead of how terrible we all are? That we would see it in others too?

And then what would there be to fear or fight against?

Wouldn’t there only be the embracing of Life and learning and support for our real (whole, wonderful, good) selves and one another, even when we’re perfectly imperfect?

This is what I believe and experience.

When I see myself or someone else as inherently wrong, or inherently unworthy of trust until I or she or he proves otherwise, or inherently selfish until I (my fear, my Ego, my Ego-fear) changes that person or myself, I create disharmony and war and more fear. I pass it down like an old quilt, handed from one fearful generation to the next, tattered and torn and anything but warm and comfortable, but still insisting it be used because that’s the truth of it: “life is cold and drafty and we’re inherently tattered, after all”.

But when I find myself seeking the worthiness and goodness within a person’s soul, when I look beneath their tragic attempts to protect themselves or be seen or heard, when I go beyond the way in which I say they “should” be, I find myself with compassion for that person, with patience for that child, with understanding for where they are and how they came to be there.

And with that perspective firmly in my vision, what I see changes. And I and others change, based on what is seen in us.

We realize we are not our Ego (our fear, our big ugly mistakes). We realize we are human and having an experience of fear, an experience of making mistakes or painful choices. An experience of fear.

Just an experience of fear.

Not a being-ness of Ego to despise.

And then the pressure is released and the burden that was crushing our spirits is lifted and there is sudden lightness and energy and the ability to actually move, this time in a new and healthier and more whole direction.

When I call it your or my Ego, we have something new to war against, something we must fight or resist – either ourselves or each other.

Fighting and resisting is the antithesis of peace.

When I release the idea of right versus wrong and just focus on love versus fear (with love and compassion FOR the fear), peace comes inherent instead.

(Want to DIG IN to your own Ego-fear? That’s what this process is for.)

The Power and Reverence of Holding Space for Women


Filling Your Cup Mama’s Night In at Wide Sky Days

Remember the Wide Sky Days conference I mentioned last week? One thing I didn’t elaborate on was that the conference – although deeply needed for personal reasons wasn’t even on our radar to attend until Flo, the event organizer, invited me to hold a circle, a Mama’s Night In.

We actually connected back in January over the phone to talk about what she really wanted to offer the mama’s at the conference. By the end of the 45 minutes conversation we had shared laughs and goosebumps and excitement over what was developing.

I’ve come to find over the past year how much these circles mean to me.

Online circles like the forum and the circles we hold over the phone within the Organic Tribe, and – more and more – these in-person, intimate circles between women.

Mama's Empower Hour with @unschoolbus42 and @ecowomb !!
A women’s empowerment circle last month in NH

I can feel my heart leading me towards more of these, and growing them into something more.

This one in particular was really wonderful.

The topic was Filling Your Cup: As mamas we are working hard to fill the cups of our children. What stops us, or enables us, in filling our own cups?

I’m always a little nervous going in. I talk about deep things, things that don’t resonate with everyone, or that take people by surprise at times. And although I want to meet the needs of everyone, I know that’s impossible. So my thoughts were on the needs of this group, and my desire to authentically speak my Truth while meeting the needs I am called to meet.

It’s so much easier here in this little online space. Those of you wonderful sistahs who read and email and connect on Facebook are here because we already “know” each other, in a sense. We have the common hunger for depth and connection – to ourselves and other women.

But an hour before my circle at Wide Sky I really had the opportunity to DIG IN to the thoughts and emotions that were coming up, my desire to connect, my fear of looking like a wackadoodle. Cuz you know, when we stick our heads outside our bubbles, we do realize just how crazy things like mindfulness and empathy are in this world.

But I realized two things as I was Digging Deep:

  1. I’m not out of my bubble in this group of incredible families. It is safe to love and approve of myself.
  2. I’m not out of my bubble so long as I’m leaning into authenticity and speaking from the heart. Again, it’s safe to love and approve of myself.

There’s such a sense of danger or fear (often in the form of self-doubt or nerves or “not good enough-ness”) when we put ourselves “out there”, when we open our hearts and our voices.

It’s vulnerability, in a world that tries to tell us we’re not safe.

We fear the judgment or backlash or rejection that feels like isolation to us.

But we are safe. Even in the most dangerous of situations, we are ultimately going to be okay. (I was texting with a sistah this morning whose body was reflecting a challenge she was facing and I sent her several reminders to work with, one being “Only good comes from each experience.” Such a powerful experience to work with that one!)

This circle at Wide Sky was more than okay. More than good.

There were hearts poured out, and tears to match, and things to stretch us – myself included. I learned where I hold back my Trust and where I can lean deeper into it. I learned to take a deep breath and fall into that undercurrent again, the sense of ease, the words that want to come forward (even when the voice in the back of my head tells me to shut up), and the fact that it is always perfect, always exactly what it needs to be (even when it can’t meet everyone’s needs), and how I can still build upon it to make it more wonderful.

I had more women than I could count coming up to me after, long hugs and deeply felt thank you’s, gratitude given and received between us. Even Tiffani’s blog post about the circle moved me beyond words – something I’ve been rendered a lot lately by so many of you.

Since then I’ve had emails from women in the circle and other women as well, sending me love and appreciation for something I did or said that touched them at just the right time, in just the right way. Emails from women emboldened to leave a painful relationship, from women who have learned to love themselves, from women who spoke the truth or finally felt at peace with just knowing it for themselves.

And all of this makes my heart swell.

I love what I get to do. But sending love notes or blog posts out to people I don’t always hear back from means often not seeing the ripples of what I do. Even working with groups in the Tribe or e-course isn’t the same as hearing it personally, holding a women’s hand as she tells you her story, shedding tears together or rubbing the goosebumps on each other’s arms.

I feel overwhelmed by love and Life and the work I get to do, the ripples I get to send, and the ripples I get to receive.

I feel at peace and reverence.

My deepest needs for connection and magic and meaning and laughter and Trust are being met when I get to see – really see – the work I – we – get to do…as women, and with women.

This is what I’m made for. And it stretches me in the very best of ways. And it’s what I get to do every day. How can it get any better?

(Even as I ask that I can hear the answer I started hearing almost two years ago…yes, Life. I hear you. Facilitating retreats are in my future. And I’m almost ready.)

 

Connecting With Children (It Doesn’t Have To Be Awkward)

It use to be awkward for me to speak or connect with children.

I would ask them the customary questions: How old are you? What grade are you in? What’s your favorite subject? What do you want to be when you grow up?

(Kinda similar to how I use to talk to adults actually: What do you do? How’s the weather? Time flies huh?)

You know, the kind of questions that you don’t really listen for the answers.

But then I started meeting children who liked to make up their their own age (or name), who didn’t go to school, and who demanded (not with words but with their very presence and the way they experienced life) a whole new kind of interaction.

And it was awkward at first.

I didn’t know what to say or how to say it. It was uncomfortable to be alone with a child I wasn’t related to because there was an expectation of interaction that I didn’t know how to handle (compared to the idea that we don’t have to interact quite as much with children we do know – ack!).

I was realizing today how different that is for me now.

I woke up this morning and immediately upon noticing there was actual SUNSHINE I grabbed my yoga mat and headed out the RV door. I intended to salute the sun all proper like. 😉

We’re camped with our caravan and sitting outside next door was my new friend, whom I call Little Turtle, for we both are learning a lot about our own personal turtle shells. As we greeted I did what I would do with any friend…

I invited her to do yoga by the pond with me.

She grabbed her mat, her brother even came along for a few minutes before he decided he had better things to do, and the two of us saluted the sun together.

The hubby couldn't make yoga this AM but my new friend, Little Turtle, could. <3

Then we laid by the water and just spent time together.

In my past I would’ve felt compelled to ask questions or mentor her in some way (oh the ego!). I would’ve had a different tone in my voice and a direction I felt we should take it (educational no doubt).

But our time together was casual and comfortable instead.

We talked about the water and our favorite colors, and Googled on my phone what different colors mean (she’s all about the happy, creative colors!). We wondered about the weird animal sounds we heard and talked about brothers.

The generations between us didn’t matter. We were just able to BE together, as friends.

And this makes me really happy. I have friends of so many ages and backgrounds and beliefs. And for years I missed out on what these young and wonderful friends bring to my world.

Like the enjoyment of sitting and watching the bugs skimming the surface of the water.

Peering over the deck

Last night Justin and one of the kids went off to a juggling meetup. An hour driving together, several hours juggling with other adults, and an hour back. As friends. Right now he has a 10 year old friend helping him work on the engine as they talk more about juggling. As friends.

It just makes me smile.

And being authentic has also become easier. Zeb and his new friend (and Little Turtle’s brother) were playing in the RV and I needed to get some work done. They were having fun and talking and I was struggling with overwhelm and feeling distracted.

So I reached out in kindness. “Hey guys, would it be okay if I had the RV to myself for awhile? I’ve got so much work to do.”

“Sure Mom.” “Sure Tara.” And they finished up their game, asked when I thought I’d be done and headed outside with a smile.

In the past I would’ve resorted to demanding they go outside, or just internally huffing and puffing over how I never get what I need until I became resentful. I never would’ve thought I could’ve spoken to them about it in the same way I would speak to my husband. It would’ve been control or martyrdom for me.

I’ve missed out on a lot of time with these incredible friends, especially the incredible friend I have in my 12 year old son. There were lots of things I had to DIG IN to in order to release my own discomfort and fear and superiority: like the emotions or reactions that would come up for me, the old stories about permissiveness, and the kind of connections I really wanted in my life and what had me settling for less.

But most importantly the idea I had learned that only people of the same ages could have real and meaningful friendships together and that adults were meant to lead children, not simply enjoy their presence.

The Great Blog Comment Debate (Or Why I’ve Turned Mine Off And Back On Again)

I spent the first few years of my blog being on the “For” side of the Great Blog Comment Debate: adamantly for blog comments on blogs. To not have comments seemed pointless (among other things) and I was a little judgmental about it.

Then I spent the last year growing my business and a multitude of reasons shifted my ideas. I’ve now had blog comments turned off on all posts for about 5 months.

I’m going to speak in this post both as a blogger, a reader and an authentic business owner on my experience and experimentation with blog comments.

Hmm...
Yes. It’s called “fear”.

 

The Blog Comment Debate Will Vary

Bloggers will adamantly (and sometimes rudely) insist that to have a blog means you “should” have comments allowed, that those comments should go live instantly so no one has to be “approved” (after perhaps a captcha feature to prevent spam) and that every self-respecting blogger should moderate and answer each and every comment themselves.

This leaves other bloggers – the ones who feel drained or uncertain or pulled – by comments feeling as though they are obligated by some unwritten Blog Code of Conduct to overextend themselves, to make others happy, to be accused of “censorship” (really people?) and maybe even give up their blog because it’s become something they didn’t intend – an outlet for others instead of an outlet for themselves.

Business owners with blogs will often (and sometimes rudely) insist that comments are a waste of time, rarely add anything of value to the conversation, are a breeding ground for trolls, and that no self-respecting business owner would waste their energy on it.

This leaves new, growing and even established entrepreneurs that are still building their traffic to feel as though they are cutting off a means of connection and growth, to question whether they are playing small, and to start thinking more about the marketing rules than their personal style and doubt their own intuition.

After doing it both ways (and even advising each way), here’s what I’ve found:

Opinions are like butt cracks. Everyone has one and is sure their own doesn’t stink. 😉

“Rules” suck.

There is no right or wrong way.

There is only your needs, and your personal experiences, and what works for you.

Judgment, snark and self-righteousness need not apply.

This is my personal experience, why I’ve turned blog comments off, why I’ve had them on. Your personal mileage will vary.

Why I’ve Turned Comments Off

  • Time Management: The more my coaching business expanded the more I needed to find ways to balance my time between work, self and family. That meant finding the things that allowed me to spend less time online and more time on the things that made the biggest impact on my life and the life of others.
  • Reactions vs Reflections: I love reflective comments, questions, conversations…especially the ones where we’re not afraid to ask the questions that may not have a simple answer or that may stretch us. But reactive comments (and I’m specifically talking about the judgmental, snarky, self-righteous ones) aren’t serving anyone (except maybe giving that person a space to vent their own triggers). It’s not my job to answer every rude person; it’s not my job to filter trolls; it’s not my job to host negativity in my (online) home; it’s not my job to spend my energy with energy vampires. It’s my job to connect on a deep level with the people whom I may be able to support, not the ones who just want to argue.
  • Simplifying: With comments spread between several social media sites, the forums, and email, my work time was getting overwhelming. I needed to simplify where it was possible, and blog comments were one of those places.
  • Deepening Connections: A funny thing happened when I turned off comments. I got more of the most incredible, beautiful emails…deep, authentic, powerful emails for women sharing their Aha moments and thoughts and stories of the amazing things they are doing in the world. Maybe without that immediate ability to leave a simple (public) comment others could sit with their own thoughts longer and therefore share more? Maybe when a personal email was the primary means of connecting it created a safer space to really connect. I don’t know, but it was awesome.
  • Writing For Me, Not Stats: I found myself writing with what others might say in the comments (or how many comments I might get), instead of writing from my heart and soul. And that’s bullshit. I’m glad I turned my comments off for the last many months to allow me to get back to writing for myself: releasing the fear of making waves (or making friends) and pouring my real heart and soul into my words without worrying about how popular any of it is. I needed to remember that I’m not going for popularity. I’m going for resonance. And turning off comments helped me get back there.

Why I’ve Turned Comments On

  • Central Hub: It’s not totally central. Comments will still be found on Twitter and Facebook, but at least with the blog there is a somewhat more central hub for sharing reflections and thoughts, and deepening a conversation between more of us. After all, it’s about Tribes and those connections are part of it.
  • I Missed The Convo: If there is no immediate place to comment many readers won’t email or comment elsewhere. And I’ve missed those connections and the wonderful things such thoughtful comments would inspire in me, or the Wisdom they could share (or the ways they could say it) that add so much more than my words alone.
  • Simplifying: Don’t you love how this is in both lists? I can do that because they’re my lists. 😉 Comments make it simple and quick to share in that convo. It may not simplify my job, but it simplifies the process of connecting.
  • Readers Miss the Convo: I hear you. Being able to write out your reflections is often more powerful than just thinking to yourself. Reading something impactful and beneficial without the simple ability to join the convo sometimes means less time to really absorb before we click off to our busy days.
  • Making Connections: Knowing the other names, faces and messages of the people reading opens my life up to more ideas, more connections, more possibilities. Those things I love. I’ve missed those connections over the past several months.
  • Better Time Management Now: When I turned the comments off my plate was freaking FULL and I was working out kinks in my rhythm and systems of support. Now that I have better rhythms, more systems and the wonderful Jennie as my Organic Support Specialist to help me with many admin tasks, including moderating for trolls, I can still focus on my most important tasks: my personal care, my family and personal life, my clients, my creative work within my businesses and connecting with real women sharing real Wisdom with real heart and soul.
  • Resonance over Reputation: Like I mentioned above, I was writing for comments, and not for me. This isn’t an uncommon reason to turn comments off, although on the inverse: the fear of “too few comments” and how that looks to others. Fear of what others think has held a pretty prominent place in my past (meaning it still pokes it’s head in from time to time), but it’s the fear of my inner Little Girl. And even though I don’t quite feel grownup yet (when does one finally feel like a Grown Up?), me and that Little Girl feel pretty damn comfortable with the fact that that fear is no longer serving our own greatest good or the world. Zero comments don’t freak me out. They don’t make nervous someone will judge me. And what others do in their busy lives is only a reflection of me when I’m making it all about me. My job isn’t to put thoughts into someone else’s mind. It’s to share the intention and thoughts in mine.

Right now the Off List is ruling and I have my comments off (obv).

Like I said, there is NO “right” way. There is only your personal needs as a blogger or entrepreneur and how you might meet those needs. Yes, your readers have needs too, but your own needs come first (think: oxygen mask).

So my advice: Experiment. Evolve. Do what works for you. Maintain the right to change your mind. Keep authenticity and self-care as your touchstones. Examine your fears and ideas of “should” or “have to”. Then release them. And unapologetically do what works for you.

I use to write poetry, I used to write it for me

The Majestic Redwoods

I use to write poetry
I use to write it for me
I would climb
To the top of the pine tree
(In front of the house on Powell Street)
With a notebook under one arm
The other barely holding on
And the sap on my feet

And there I’d write words
Words just for me

Whatever happened to that balladry,
The one about the wind wrapping around me?
More importantly
Whatever happened to the pride in me?
The wonder and awe I would see
In the eyes from the mirror
Of a little girl free?
With the scraped knee
And the grand ideas of who I would be?

I use to write poetry
Poetry that was only for me
Words that sang
And excited
And made me love me

I was 10 (or 11 maybe)
What did I know about creativity?
About cocooning my art
My heart
Against unprepared insensitivity?
What did I know about the adult world
of being too busy
too tired
of not taking things personally?

I was 10 (or 11 maybe)
I thought that others would see what I could see
That they would slip into the words I wrote
The wind I felt
The wonder I sensed
That others would celebrate with me

I believed I needed them to see
to feel
to sense
to celebrate
in order for it to be real for me

But the class didn’t see
And Mrs. Whats-Her-Face
That I loved so dearly and now can’t remember her name
Wasn’t even listening

And at 10 (or maybe 11)
I learned to judge me
Only by what others perceive
(Or what I perceive they perceive)
I learned to stop writing poetry
To stop writing it for me
I learned to look for what others might see
I learned to deny me
To call me crazy
To think I’m being weird or silly
To hide me

I unlearned the wind around me
I unlearned the words that whispered softly
I unlearned to shine brightly
For no one else to see but me

For awhile I unlearned how to hug me
And how to celebrate singularly
And how to write according to what I believe
I unlearned that I’m worthy
For no one else but me

I unlearned how to write
My own flavor of poetry
To voice the song within me
To do it for me

But this…
This one is for me

This is the song that’s within me
The words as they speak only to me
The message I seek
That I’m ready to see
The Truth that I know
That I’m ready to be
The voice and the song
That I’m setting free

The practice of my own vulnerability
The practice of my own authenticity
The practice of saying “Fuck it” to the way it “should be”

This…
This is poem for me.