How Letting Go Leads You to Discover What You Really Want

18th February 2014

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(photo by elleluna)

It’s hard to let go of the things we love.

That third glass of wine. Hurtful lovers. Amazing lovers who just aren’t the right fit. Stories from the past that keep us safe. The this-will-relax-me smoke. That gluttonous dessert. Remaining content for fear of not knowing.

For the last 10 days, the man and I have abided by a long list of “Yes” and No” foods, giving up caffeine, alcohol, sugar, gluten grains, dairy, eggs, soybean products, shellfish, high mercury fish and more.

We’ve done this both as an attempt to get to the bottom of my food allergies, and also to give our bodies a reset. While I’m a fairly clean eater, there are three indulgences that keep me relaxed and cozy: wine, cheese and dark chocolate. Before starting this cleanse, the whole idea of no wine for fourteen days seemed absurd. Nonetheless, I decided to give it a try. 

In the first few days, I found myself wanting to buy all the dark chocolate when I passed by that aisle in the organic market. Every wine shop spoke to me, inviting me to come in and try their newly featured wines. Anytime I saw someone drinking a glass, I felt drawn to have one with them. It was especially difficult on Valentine’s Day to not share a delicious bottle, and we actually both tasted two sips before deciding to go instead with sparking water.

With each impulse, an opportunity presented itself. The opportunity to go within, hear my inner voice, listen to the emotion, and get in touch with what I’m really craving.

"Do I really want that chocolate?" led to "No. You’ve been working non-stop all day and you’re feeling a little lonely right now. What you really want is a cup of tea and thirty minutes of deep connection."

"I want wine! I want wine! I want want!" turned into "Actually you really don’t want wine. You want to slow down your thoughts and some yoga stretching is the best way for you to do that."

The biggest insight so far is this: Letting go gets easier every day. As I become increasingly aware of my attachments, I’m able to navigate them and choose for them not to control me. And the more I tap into and listen to what I really want, the better my decision making, and the more fulfilled and productive I feel. 

After ten days, I feel clear. Focused. Highly productive and effective. I feel like I’m growing and glowing on the inside. I need less sleep. I’m in bed by 11:30 and awake earlier than 7. My ideas are flowing and my creativity is being channeled in a way that feels even more cozy than that evening glass of wine. 

While I imagine myself bringing wine and some of these indulgences back into the picture (hello moderation!), this break has given me greater insight into what’s below my cravings, and how—when I give myself the chance to really listen—saying “No” actually feels better than saying “Yes.”

So let me ask you: What one thing do you feel drawn to “cleanse” from your life for a set period of time? Is there one thing you feel scared to give up, but know it’s time? Let’s talk about it in the comments below. 

xoxo
Amber

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Thanks to morning pages for inspiring this post, and elleluna for the image.

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When You’re Feeling Stressed, Overwhelmed & Want to Recenter

11th February 2014

Ever find yourself staring at the computer screen in the middle of a crazed day, wondering:

How will I get all of this done?

What are my priorities right now?

Is there enough time?

What the hell have I been doing for the last few hours?

I have moments of overwhelm and fogginess. Most people do.

With inputs coming from all angles all day, it can be easy to get pulled away from what matters most.

In times of overwhelm and daze, here’s what what works for me, which may support you too:

+ Notice your breath. To get out of my head and back into the moment, the very first thing I do is notice my breath. When thoughts arise, I imagine them in a bubble and I envision myself gently tapping them with a feather. This slows down my thoughts and brings me back to the present. Sometimes I will stay with my breath for a few moments, and other times I will sink in for five or ten minutes, visualizing imagery that brings me peace. The vision of running barefoot through an open field or walking along the beach quickly brings me back to center. 

+ Clarify priorities. Sometimes overwhelm is rooted in not knowing where to focus time and energy. Ten minutes spent revisiting the “Top 3” most important tasks for the day helps refocus what will bring a sense of joy and peace by end of day. Have more than 3? Try an “On Deck” list to know where to focus later. If you’re visual, below is a quick and dirty mind map from my journal with projects inside the circles and tasks stemming out. I’ll sometimes have one or two of these per week to refocus and know where to go next.

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+ Revisit commitments. Liz D’Alto posted recently, “Never put off til tomorrow what you can straight up cancel today.” She added, “Sometimes we overcommit. Some may see canceling or breaking commitments as out of integrity. Is that less integrous than showing up, not being present, wishing you weren’t there, or giving less than your best?” Well said, Liz. So, what are you taking off your plate today?

+ Journal it out. To get to the bottom of what’s going on, I’ll often find peace in clarity by answering “What’s making me feel overwhelmed right now is…” or “My greatest sense of stress right now is…” By having a dialogue and addressing the overwhelm head on, I work through rather than avoid it.

+ Schedule space. Imagine uninterrupted space with no meetings, no email answering and no inputs driving you. Feels good, doesn’t it? Block off a chunk of time each week for thinking, creativity, writing, or whatever it is that you feel called to do. Follow your curiosities and let intuition and inspiration lead the way. 

+ Artist Date. Speaking of creativity and space, a key part of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, a book dedicated to helping you unlock your highest creative potential, is Artist Dates—a two-hour block of time set aside for nurturing your inner artist (we all have one). The whole point of these dates is receiving—opening yourself to insight, inspiration and guidance. Ask yourself: what is the child within me craving? What play date do I want to take myself on? Schedule it in the next week and go do it. This has shown up for me in the form of free form yoga dance, painting ceramics, art gallery visit, longggg walks, sunset bike ride, and so on.

And that is how I break free from overwhelm. What helps YOU get out of daze and into flow? Let’s jam in the comments below. 

xoxo
Amber

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One Simple Ritual to Make Each Day Flow

3rd February 2014

Hello first Monday in the second month of the New Year!

Have you paused to reflect on how your intentions are unfolding in 2014? Are you looking to January as a benchmark for how the rest of your year is evolving?

My first month of the year was — how shall I put this? — effing intense. Between a new site in production, a creative collective with ten powerful creatives and entrepreneurs launching today (Whee!), a book concept coming together, trying (ahem, failing) to write here each week, and travel for workshops and love, I found myself in full on hustle mode, challenged to get everything done WHILE enjoying the process.

Some days I flowed like a river downstream, experiencing such profound joy that there was nothing in the world that I’d rather be doing. (Kind of like right now.) Other days I threw things across the room and screamed at the top of my lungs. I was a bit surprised and delighted when Farhad looked at me curiously and replied to my antics with, “Feel better now?” (Oh yes. Muchhhh better.)

Looking back on the days when I was alive and on fire compared to the days when I was throwing things, there’s one simple ritual that repeatedly got me into a zone of joy and flow.

It all boils down to: the first hour of the day.

That first sixty minutes sets the intention for your entire day. (And if you’re thinking “I don’t have 60 minutes,” we’ll get to that in a minute.)

Some days I’d wake up, check my phone, feel inundated by email, begin replying in bed, distract myself from emails by going on social networks… and quickly find myself in a less than ideal headspace. (Sound familiar?)

Other days I’d wake up, get my cuddle on, make a cup of tea, do morning journaling, set intentions and define success for the day, go for a brisk walk, grab a green juice… and quickly find myself lost in the beauty of the moment, not even bothered by Brooklyn’s chilly winds and growing snowfall.

Guess which day ended up leading to thrown objects and which ended up leading to flow?

Let me ask you this: do you want to start your day by honoring other people’s needs and demands? Or, do you want to honor and love yourself first, creating a sixty minute ritual that enlivens your spirit and supports you in fully showing up for the day ahead?  

I know what you might be thinking. “I don’t have sixty minutes” or “I have somewhere to be that’s early.” Can you start with just ten minutes and see where that takes you? 

So what does your sixty minute (or ten minute) morning ritual look like? Let’s define it and hold each other accountable in the comments.

xoxo
Amber

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Thanks Farhad and Payal for reading the draft. Image from here.

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How to close the gap between your creative talent and taste

23rd January 2014

On my fireplace mantel reads a mantra: Get out of the way and let the creative force work through you. Show up at the page and write down what you hear. Eavesdrop rather than invent. You don’t have to be in the mood. Just write … you aren’t doing it. Accumulate pages, not judgements.

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It’s a reminder to show up at the page. To create the space for creative expression. To choose creativity over doubt. And most importantly, to allow it to flow through me. Getting into this space of flow and divine connection rarely happens right away. It takes time. It takes a quantity of writing to reach a quality of expression.

A few weeks ago my friend Dan Cohen was in town and we caught up for a drink. If you don’t know Dan, he works with Apple by day and shoots photos and puts on photography shows by night and weekend. His pictures speak to my soul. Give me goosebumps. Inspire me to explore and adventure.

While he was in town, he wanted to snap a photo of me. I was delighted to experience his creative process and discover that it took 34 photos, four breaks, and one too many New Yorkers crossing our path to capture that perfect frame and moment.

image(photo by @cohen)

It’s just like writing for me. All day every day I journal and take note of my observations, experiences, interactions and insights. It takes hours, and often days, before the dots connect and lead to one of those “OOO I need to write about that” or “THIS is exactly what I need to do next” moments.

No matter your art form (painting / photography / writing / designing / coding / thinking / ideating / dancing and so on), a quantity of expression will lead to the quality you aspire toward. Or as This American Life host and producer Ira Glass says, “The most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work.”

It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close the gap between your taste and your talent.

So what are you creating this week?

xoxo
Amber

p.s. The Unmistakable Creative recently interviewed me about my vision, creative process and that sort of thing. You may enjoy it here.

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Thanks to Dan and Geada for inspiring this post.

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A better way to answer “What do you do?”

13th January 2014

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How do you feel when someone asks, “What do you do?”

Does it spark frustration? Confusion? Disinterest?

What if it that age-old question was one of your greatest opportunities for connection, spreading your message and moving your ambitions forward?

Trust me, I get it. We now live in an economy where many of us are doing more than one thing. Our description of working and living goes beyond a title and job description.

Doctor. Lawyer. Consultant. Designer.

Painter. Musician. Writer. Developer.

Mother. Father. Husband. Wife.

It’s not that simple anymore.

We have the husband and consultant who works from home, creates and sells art in his downtime, and volunteers with troubled youth.

We have the freelance writer who runs a farm-to-table dinner series on the side, and spends weekends on the farm.

We have the investment banker who travels and photographs the world in his free time, inspiring people to explore and play.

As our interests and doings become varied and multi-disciplinary, the ease at which we describe what we do lessens.

So how on earth can you describe what you do and do so simply? Let’s break it down into a real-life before and after example.

The Before:

Him: So what do you do?

Me: I’m a writer. 

Him: Cool.

// end conversation // end opportunity for connection //

The After:

Him: So what do you do?

Me: Everything I do is rooted in redefining Ambition. I’m interested in shifting the conversation from one of “Getting ahead” to one of “Coming alive.”

Him: Oh wow. That’s really interesting. What do you mean by that?

Me: We’ve been taught that in order to be successful, we must get ahead. But what happens is that we often lose ourself and what really matters in the process.

Him: I really connect with that. This is totally up my sister’s alley too. What do you mean by coming alive?

Me: To come alive is to tap into the truest and most natural expression of who you are, making sure your life is an expression of that. So I support people in shifting from fear-led decisions to heart-led choices, self-doubting to self-expression, focusing on competition to fostering collaboration, and chasing what’s next to fully experiencing what’s right now. That sort of thing.

Him: This is awesome. My sister needs to hear about this. She’s an amazing artist but self-doubt keeps blocking her. How do you go about doing this work?

Me: I write, speak, lead retreats and experiences for creatives and entrepreneurs, and occasionally work with the right inspired companies or individuals one-on-one. I’m also writing a book.

Him: Oh awesome! When and where can I buy this book?!

And off we go into soul-connected paradise…

In sharing what we do, when we focus on the mission driving us and why we do it, we create the opportunity to quickly connect in a deep and intimate way. We also increase our odds for moving our ambitions forward in an organic way.

"My sister NEEDS to be at your next retreat."

"I have an Editor I want to introduce you to."

"This conference sounds like a perfect place for you to speak."

Now it’s your turn. Are you ready to try out this new approach?

Start by answering and getting clear on this: What is the mission that I’m here to serve? And why do I do what I do? 

For example: Maybe you work in healthcare but what drives you is removing the barriers around accessibility so you can create a world with more happiness. Maybe you’re a designer but what moves you is the power of love and supporting people in seeing their greatness. Or maybe you’re an entrepreneur who experienced a spiritual awakening, and now you’re motivated to show people the power of slowing down, being present and cultivating the joy within.

Your story is unique. And your message matters. Whatever it is that you do, there’s a reason for it. There’s a deeper force motivating you to show up day and after. There’s a nut you’re trying to crack in your own life. What is it? 

If you get stuck or want to share, let’s jam in the comments below. I’m here for you.

xoxo
Amber

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Thanks to Payal for inspiring this post, and Geada and Farhad for reading the draft. Photo found here.

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Why we’re not having a wedding

5th December 2013

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"How’s wedding planning going?"

That seems to be everyone’s favorite question lately. And my least favorite question ever.

It’s a question that leaves my shoulders stiff and my breathing tight.

"Um… we haven’t thought much about it yet," I say. "We’re thinking May 2015. Plennnnty of time to plan."

And then I change the subject.

After witnessing one too many of my stiff shoulders, tight breathing and quickly changing the subject reactions, I stopped to check in and ask myself: Why are we having a wedding? Why are we putting an enormous amount of time, energy and money into one day? How else can we spend this time, energy and money?

While I’m all for weddings if that’s right for you (and we’ll gladly savor hors d’oeuvre, drink one too many glasses of champagne, and dance the night away), it’s never felt right for me. I was never the little girl dreaming about her wedding day.

So after the epiphany, when Farhad came home, I sat him down, fully expecting push-back.

"Baby, I have something really important to share…."

"Yes…?" he says, with that oh-no-what-now look on his face.

"Why are we having a wedding? I really don’t want one. I already feel like I’m "married" to you!"

And to my surprise, he exclaims, “THIS IS WHY I’M MARRYING YOU! Or spending forever with you. Whatever we want to call it.”

And so we’ve stopped putting pressure on that one day.

We’ve stopped putting pressure on ourselves to serve what other people may want or expect, but not what we want or expect. That pressure limits possibility. It kills imagination. It stifles dreams. And it builds resentment.

As we’ve let go of the traditional notion of marriage, a whole new world of choices has opened up. Union and “marriage” is now a wild adventure, rather than an expected routine.

With this new lens on marriage, we’re exploring what aspects are meaningful to us, and how we can go about unifying our love in a way that aligns with who we are as a couple.

We see “marriage” in two ways.

First, there’s the contract. The LLC of love. The piece of paper that officializes our union, gives me permission to change my last name, and makes taxes less taxing.

Then, there’s the union of love. The deep commitment. The active expression of our unconditional love for each other. The celebration of our time together on this earth. The setting of intentions. The beginning of our family.

As we’ve started the brainstorming process of what this union might look like, we imagine three to six months of world travel, commencing the journey with a trip to the Courthouse. Saying sayonara with a flowy white dress in my suitcase, we’ll spontaneously discover the place that resonates with our hearts, minds and souls along the way. Then and there, I’ll put on the dress, we’ll step into our ideal scene and say our vows. The rest of the trip will be our honeymoon. When we return stateside, we’ll celebrate our love with family and friends.

In imagining our ideal union, we feel deep alignment, a rush of excitement and great anticipation. Isn’t that how weddings ought to feel? Isn’t that how life ought to feel?

I’m curious: where in your life are stiff shoulders and tight breathing holding you back from possibility and your wildest imagination? How can you view what feels like “have to” through the lens of “hell yes want to”?

xoxo
Amber Rae

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Thanks to Geada, Farhad and Shannon for reading the draft, and this site for the photo. 

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Be okay with not knowing

26th November 2013

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In bed. Staring at the ceiling. Mind racing with a million thoughts.

"Is there enough time?"

"Can I pull this off?"

"Will I be putting too much on my plate?"

"Will my self-care suffer?"

Ever find yourself feeling the overwhelm of those questions?

Yeah, me too. That’s exactly where I found myself last night.

Here I was, lying in bed, feeling the pressure of a looming deadline, grasping for sureness, and questioning my ability to rise to the challenge.

My mind searched desperately for answers, reviewing timelines and to-dos. Analyzing my rhythm of productivity. Recommitting to self-care rituals. And setting boundaries for creation.

In this race for certainty, I heard a soft internal whisper:Be okay with not knowing.”

My mind began to slow.

"Be okay with not knowing" grew louder.

I paused to reflect.

"Be okay with not knowing."

Holy shit!

The truth is: As much as I can plan, prepare and try to predict, I don’t know if there’s enough time, if I can pull this off, if I’ll be putting too much on my plate, or if my self-care will suffer.

I don’t know until I find out. 

And, most importantly:

I am willing to experience the answers.

To choose growth over perfection.

Uncertainty over stagnancy.

Breathing over thinking.

And giving this moment my all.

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Thanks to Geada and Farhad for reading the draft.

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Why you might be sabotaging your success

12th November 2013

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"I feel like I’m pushing you away," I said to the love of my life just over two weeks ago.

His eyes glazed over, his body froze, and it felt like time came to a sudden halt.

I instantly burst into tears.

What followed was the most challenging conversation of our relationship. And the most beautiful awakening for us both.

In The Big Leap, Gay Hendricks talks about “Upper Limiting.”

We each have a maximum level of success, love, happiness, intimacy and pleasure that we think we can have in our lives.

When life is growing, expanding, improving, and going well, we unconsciously do things to sabotage ourselves, so we go back to the familiar place where we feel in control.

Simply put: we hold ourselves back from achieving our greatest potential.

So here I was in our relationship, feeling closer than ever, creating our home, planning future trips, writing frequent love notes and finding myself falling more deeply in love each day when I was suddenly overcome by a series of destructive thoughts:

What if Farhad stops loving me?

Leaves me?

Gets killed in a car crash?

What if I am alone? Heartbroken? And sad? 

Overcome with panic of what could be, I began to slowly distance myself from him—without even realizing it. 

It was much safer this way. He couldn’t hurt me and he couldn’t leave me if I distanced myself first. 

After he wiped away my tears and I brought his seemingly frozen body back to life through hugs and kisses, we committed to giving each other the space for reflection and introspection.

The next day, as I was flipping through books on my Kindle, I saw the cover of The Big Leap and a wave of relief overcame my body. I’m talking head-to-toe goosebumps. That’s when it dawned on me that I was upper limiting. 

Immediately I whipped out a notebook and in pure detective style, traced back to the origin of my limit by asking, “Why do I fear Farhad leaving me? What is the root?” The answers that followed weren’t surprising: My father’s death in a car crash as a child, losing contact with a step-father, and a relationship that tore me apart in college. 

In connecting the dots of my past, and realizing how they were showing up in my present, I now had the language to let Farhad in on my experience, and share how he could support me in breaking through with our combined awareness, unconditional love and understanding.

So the next time you find yourself distancing yourself from the one you love, getting sick in the middle of a huge and important launch, or spraining your ankle six weeks after hiring a personal trainer, ask yourself: Could I be upper limiting? 

It just might be your path to profound clarity and forward movement. 

xoxo
Amber Rae

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This post was healing to write and scary as shit to share. Thanks to Farhad and Payal for inspiring and encouraging it, and Geada for reading the draft! Thanks to GNTLMN + William Hereford for the image.

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What the need to be right prevents you from experiencing

25th October 2013

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"You’re being defensive," he said.

"No I’m not," I snapped back.

Ever find yourself in a similar conversation?

Yesterday I caught myself in that exact frame.

Defending my defensiveness, hearing only my truth, creating a story that “my way” was the right and only way.

Suddenly, ego stepped up to the plate to defend the “truth.”

The claws came out to protect what is “right.”

As I watched my open-mindedness rapidly shrink into a narrow lens, I took a moment to pause and reflect on the resistance and attachment that was bubbling up inside.

"What truth am I holding on to in this moment?" I wondered.

"What fundamental belief is this conversation challenging?"

"What actually happened and what story am I creating here?"

Stories. They are oh-so powerful and equally as dangerous.

Dangerous when our meaning of what is happening doesn’t match the reality of what is occurring.

Here’s an example.

My story: He is challenging my belief around authenticity and creative process. He is pushing me to do something overly calculated and unnatural.

The reality: He is sharing three strategies for organically and strategically spreading an idea. He is educating me on how to make content more relevant so it can reach and impact more people.

What my story prevented me from experiencing: Authentic connection. New insights. Business growth.

When the meaning we attach to a situation overrides our ability to see the good intent and listen, we shut down. We don’t listen. We stifle our expansion.

Another example.

An old story: Prioritizing money and cash flow leads to greed. Therefore, money is not important.

The reality: Greed is an intense and selfish desire for wealth or power. Prioritizing money, with the right intent, will create sustainability and spread the idea further, enabling greater impact.

What my story prevented me from experiencing: Stability. Freedom. Impact.

Final example.

An old story: I am not lovable. If I show him affection and let him know I am interested, he will leave me.

The reality: When I show myself affection and let myself know I am loved, I will be strong and radiant. I will never leave me.

What my story prevented me from experiencing: Acceptance. Intimacy. Big love.

Achieving alignment and inner freedom requires a diligent stepping back from conditions, biases, and destructive internal reactions of resistance, anger, jealousy and the like. When we see things as they are and recognize attachment to what we think is “right,” we open ourselves up to a whole new realm of possibility.

What old story will you let go of today? What new possibility will you step into? Let’s jam in the comments below.

xoxo

Amber Rae

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Thanks to Radyar and Brianna for inspiring this post. 

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The power (and danger) of soft whispers

8th October 2013

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One year ago, a soft whisper forever changed the course of my life.

It was early fall last year when a random pull to live in LA appeared in my thoughts and journal. An intuitive whisper said, “You are ready for love. LA will lead you there. Let love guide you.”

Mind you, I never pictured myself living in LA. It wasn’t on the list of places to go, let alone live. Realistically and logically, it didn’t make sense. The city is spread out, you need a car to get around, and I was already paying rent in Boulder. Plus, work was the focus and love was a distraction.

"LA is not happening!" I told myself.  

In the days that followed, the whisper became so loud that the work before me dissipated into a blur.

LA LA LA LA LA LA. 

You are ready for love. You are ready for love. You are ready for love.

Let love guide you. Let love guide you. Let love guide you.

It’s all I could think about. 

Wondering whether or not there was wisdom to this hunch, I surrendered to the whisper and booked a weekend trip. I figured that going would either create the opportunity or cause the unrelenting whisper to fade away.

Descending into LA, the mountains revealed themselves. The ocean sparkled. The notion of living there felt exciting for the first time. What followed was the unmatched feeling of biking along Venice Beach, the perfectly cozy 75 degree sun rays, the tranquility of watching the sun dip into the ocean, and the delicious array of juice bars and organic eats. 

I felt awe-struck.

On the last day, in a casual conversation with a new friend, I mentioned the possibility of spending a few months in LA. It turned out that she had a newly opened guest room in Marina del Rey and was looking to fill it soon. Simultaneously, another friend decided to move to Boulder and needed a place to stay.

It seemed too synchronistic to pass up.

Within a week, he moved into my Boulder apartment as I jetted to the beach. Less than three weeks later, I found myself in San Francisco where I met and fell in love with my now fiancé.

Call it fate, divine timing or coincidence, if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last few years, it’s this: the more I ignore these pulls and hesitate, the more out of sync I feel with the flow of life. The more these soft whispers guide me, the more I find myself down a path I could have never expected or imagined. And when control is relinquished and intuition is trusted, time and time again, I find myself stepping into a path that feels like it’s been waiting for me all along.  

You too have the ability to tap into this.

I turn this to you: what soft whisper has been pulling at you lately? What’s one step you can take to explore what lies beyond what you can currently see? Let’s explore in the comments below. 

xoxo
Amber Rae

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Thanks to old journals and my flight to SF for inspiring this post.

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I don’t want to change the world

3rd October 2013

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"I want to change the world."

Everywhere I turn these days, I hear that phrase.

There are over 2.9 billion google search results for “How to Change the World.”

Startups dedicated to conscious living and meaningful work are popping up left and right.

The ambition around this shared vision of shifting humanity is a beautiful world to live in.

More than ever, we crave meaning and purpose in our lives. We desire to be part of something bigger than ourselves.

I too have spent the last five years (and really, my whole life) carving a path toward meaningful work and leaving a mark on the world.

But in this desire to “change the world,” I found myself running down a never-ending path of more, better, and chasing what’s next.

While I’m all for growth and expansion, over the last year, I’ve felt ever-so-pulled to slow down, do less, and accomplish more of what actually matters. To heal and change from the inside out.

Sleeping eight hours. Cuddling. Moving my body for many hours each day. Yoga. Writing. Hours and hours and hours of writing. Teaching others how to rethink and redesign their lives. Family. Stopping to smell the flowers. Appreciating nature. Supporting friends. Travel. Holding hands. Studying life. Swirling a glass of wine.

In this I’ve realized that “changing the world” was never the right aim. My innate desire has always been to embody my message. To crack the nut of breaking free from template living to rethink and redesign every aspect of my life. To teach others how to do this too.

While I undoubtedly crave making a difference and creating impact, our message is only as strong as our ability to live it. Change is and always will be rooted in our ongoing healing, our ongoing evolution. And when we heal and evolve ourselves, we have the capacity to heal and evolve others.

Here are three questions from Michael Margolis of Get Storied that helped me get clear on my message, and will help you too:

> What’s the thing you’re most curious about?

> What’s the riddle you’re trying to solve; or the nut you’re trying to crack?

> What are you working on that’s much larger than yourself?

xoxo
Amber Rae

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Go where there is fear

1st October 2013

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Your heart beats a little faster, in anticipation for the moment ahead. Butterflies swirl around your stomach, signaling the significance of what’s next.

What experiences invite your nerves to dance?

The first date.

Speaking in front of a crowd.

The start of a marathon.

An important phone call.

A vulnerable ask.

The meeting that could change everything.

Full commitment to actualizing your dream.

How do you invite your nerves to relax?

Cup of tea. Meditation. Long walk. Glass of wine. Soul talk. Deep breaths.

In pushing past the edge of our comfort zone, in putting ourselves out there, in inviting growth, we ebb and flow our way through the journey.

We ebb as we cautiously waver on the diving board, calculating the risk of our jump, trying to think our way to what comes next.

We flow as we savor the intoxicating liquid on our skin, relishing the change in temperature, the shift in environment, and the pleasure of having leaped.

We ebb as we get caught up in our head, ruminating on where this all leads, cultivating thoughts that drain and take us away from right here, right now.

We flow as we inhale and exhale our way to the root of our pain, becoming aware of our defeatist ways, circling back to the arousing experience of this moment.

We step out of the water smiling, ready to do it all over again.

This time, our heart beats a little slower, exuding a newfound sense of calm confidence. The butterflies fade for now, signaling our evolution and preparing us for the inevitable next ebb, next flow.

Surrender to your unfolding—the natural cycle of ebb and flow—and go where there is fear. Growth and freedom lie on the other side.

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Thanks to Liz and Farhad for reading the draft.

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The Art of Giving Advice

26th September 2013

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“I want real talk,” my friend said to me the other day. “You’re so good at helping me figure out the answer on my own, but give me your straight shooting honest opinion. Tell me what to do.”

“Well, I don’t know what you should do,” I said. “Only you do. So I’ll ask questions to guide you there.”

We both smiled.

The entire purpose of providing advice is to guide someone to clarity. To awaken them to their right path, illuminate what’s holding them back, and support them in experiencing a breakthrough.

This often has little to do with our opinions and past experiences.  

It has far more to do with our ability to listen empathetically and to ask probing questions, so they discover what to do next on their own. 

This doesn’t happen through telling people what we think they should do. It’s rarely a list of 5 steps to achieve a desired outcome. And it’s never about us, and always about them.

The next time someone asks you for advice, get curious. Ask questions. Guide them to finding the answers on their own. It’s far more sustainable that way.

xoxo
Amber

p.s. If you ever find yourself at a loss for what to say or do, ask: "How can I support you?" Let them tell you what they need. 

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Thanks to Melissa for inspiring the post and reading the draft.

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Traveling within

19th September 2013

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Get the hell out of town. Burn a project down to the ground. Drink a bottle of wine. Ask everyone you know what they think you should do. 7-day silent meditation retreat. Shots. Shots. Shots. Tears. Tears. Tears.

What are your coping mechanisms?

Movement has long been mine.

Hop on a flight to Barcelona. Move to LA. Dash to Austin for a few weeks. Try Boulder. Get away in the mountains. Run to peace and quiet.

Movement, while experienced as speeding up to some, creates the feeling of slowing down. The distance allows me to gather my thoughts and gain perspective. The getaway creates the space for intoxicating solitude and nourishing retreat.

While many of my moves have been intuitive — a soft whisper to go there to receive a gift, a deep knowing to move to that city to experience an answer — lately, the only place I’ve needed to travel is within.

iPhone off. Cup of tea. Eyes closed. Heart open. Asking myself the questions I’d travel hundreds and hundreds of miles seeking answers to.

Questions like:

How will I love more and fear less today?

How will I show up for myself today so that I can fully show up for the world?

How can I spread this message to as many people on earth as possible?

Stillness. Silence. It can be created right here, right now. Here and now, the answers emerge.  

A morning jog. Watching the leaves fall. Appreciating the crisp fall breeze. A subway ride. Vinyasa flow. An arousing conversation.

Movement too is right here, right now. Here and now, the more courageous pursuit.

How do you travel within?

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Thanks to Sarah for inspiring this post and Geada for editing the draft. 

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Life without the mask

17th September 2013

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Cracked open. Without a mask. Seen. Who you really are.

These are all characteristics of being vulnerable. But they kind of make you want to run under the covers and hide, don’t they?

Here’s the thing: the art of being vulnerable, of taking the mask off, of feeling the pain as much as the joy, of acting with no guarantees is a practice.

Just like you strengthen your muscles through lifting weights, you improve your writing through consistency, you learn new languages (or anything) through practice, vulnerability too takes patience and kindness with yourself. It requires ongoing effort and work.

We all have the ability to experience fully expressed lives and to connect authentically with the people around us.

Dare to lean into opportunities for expansion.

You know, opportunities like:

» Someone you care about is in a bad mood and you don’t know why. Maybe it’s late and you’re tired. Maybe you’re in the middle of a million things and have enough on your plate. In that moment, put everything aside and show up for the person you love. Say, “Hey, I feel like something is going on. I’m here for you and would love to hear about it.”

» You walk into a situation feeling intimidated, wanting to fit in and be liked. Rather than putting a shield up, be curious about everyone in the room. Ask questions. Discover raw opportunities for connection.

» You really want to say “No” but you feel like you should say “Yes.” Short-term discomfort outweighs long-term resentment and anger. Pause when someone asks you to do something, check in with your priorities and commitments, and ask whether or not you can / will / want to honor this commitment.

» Something you really want shows up. Saying “No” makes room for “Hell Yes.” When you get to “Hell yes” and then feel the “Oh shit, can I actually do this?” have the courage to say, “I want this. I’m going to explore and try. It feels uncomfortable but I’m going for it anyway.”

» Any time you experience pain and discomfort. Someone you love lashes out at you. Things don’t turn out as planned. You don’t get the client. She’s just not that into you. He’s just not that into you. Pain. Anxiety. Discomfort. Leave the bottle of wine and ice cream at the door. Give yourself the space to process it. To feel it fully. To work through it.

The world is waiting to see who you really are, without the armor.

Live without the mask.

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Thanks to Geada for editing the draft.

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