"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”?
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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?
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.
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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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A calling, according to Google dictionary, is “a strong urge toward a particular way of life…” If we listen, we may have hundreds of callings over the course of our lives, each providing the chance to experience an aspect of what makes us come alive.
The way callings typically show up for me is in the form of a soft and persistent whisper. An aspect of my life where growth is ready to emerge will show up in my journal, in my daydreams, in conversations with friends, and in random dialogues with strangers too. Then, in what feels out-of-the-blue, will be some seemingly unusual urge. I’ve learned to listen and take action on these pulls as they typically lead to a whole new realm of possibility, and a path I couldn’t have imagined months prior.
In late August, after my heart mended from the pain of a summer romance ending, the notion of love was still very top-of-mind. Though love may seem like an obvious priority for a soon-to-be-27-year-old-woman, it wasn’t something I spent much time thinking about. In fact, before Mr. Summer Love, and outside of a few short-term romances that had no legs, I was pretty much on a four-year non-dating streak. So the fact that the possibilities around love seemed to dominate my thoughts and conversations took me by surprise.
For years I would hear from family and strangers alike, “Why are you single?” The answer was always obvious: First I need to follow my dreams and work on me; the rest will follow. People didn’t seem to understand but I was okay with that. Inner conviction, deep trust, and the fear of getting hurt in love (which I refused to admit to myself and others at the time) carried me and my ambitions forward.
But something felt different in August. For the first time in my life, the prospect of BIG love made my heart sing more than the business opportunities emerging around me. Mr. Summer Love, albeit short-lived, opened my wary heart and encouraged me to be vulnerable. Through the ups-and-downs of his wavering desire to be in a relationship, I gained inner strength and my view of commitment shifted. It no longer felt like something that would either chain me down or break my heart. Instead, feeling unattached to outcomes, it became a beautiful possibility and opportunity for personal growth.
With this new worldview and a strong intuition that Boulder was not my place for love, I set off to Los Angeles—the most unlikely place for romance, per 98% of people I spoke with. But low odds have served me well in the past and something about that 2% felt right. Plus, I’ve learned that so long as I make decisions from the heart, the outcome never really matters.
In Los Angeles, I seemed to stumble into the prospect of love everywhere I went. Singing skateboarders chased me as I biked down Venice Beach. Men courted me in Whole Foods. A man asked for my number in the Emergency Room as I sported an allergic reaction all over my body. More men asked me out in one week than my ten months of living in Boulder. Love was certainly in the air.
But random dates and random men didn’t appeal to me. Conventional dating wisdom says to put yourself out there but taking up Mr. Whole Foods or Mr. ER didn’t feel right. Flattered and with a big smile, I politely declined.
Ten days into Los Angeles living, Bold Academy 2.0 planning took me to San Francisco. My first day back in the city, I stopped by a live/work experiment that’s gathering the world’s leading thinkers, innovators, and entrepreneurs. I had gotten to know the co-founders pretty well over the previous few months and it had become a regular stop when I was in town. But this visit was different. Very different.
When I walked into the house, I locked eyes with Farhad, the co-founder I felt closest to. He was making an espresso across the room. In that moment, it felt like time stopped. My body felt energetically pulled toward him. “Woah,” I thought to myself. “That was unexpected.” I smiled and greeted him with a big hug. The unexpected greeting turned into an even more unexpected next few days.
What was scheduled to be a quick three-day trip turned into Farhad convincing me to stay for eleven. He was helping me navigate some Bold planning and negotiations, and the extra time would enable us to make a few critical milestones happen. Business talk turned into late-night walks in the rain and heart-to-hearts on the beach. Every second with him felt magical.
“But is he into me?” I asked close guy friends over tacos and spicy margaritas, gushing with details about our adventures and conversations to-date.
“Is the sky blue?” Gino asked.
“This sounds like a Jane Austen romance novel,” Kyle said. “Of course he’s interested.”
“But why hasn’t he let me know?” I asked.
“Be patient,” Gino said.
Patience has never been my strong suit. I want something, I go after something. I want to live somewhere, I figure out how. I have an idea, I take action and find answers. I can be assertive and relentless. But with Farhad, I observed my natural desire to be, enjoy, and soak up every second rather than live in the state of doing. With him, I felt effervescent and graceful, grounded and feminine. I felt like I had known him for years. Soon enough, my patience paid off. (Or, since we’ve established that I have no patience, my curiosity was answered.)
"So, I think it’s about time that I ask you on an official date," Farhad said coyly as we walked to Nopa for an evening drink.
I replied nonchalantly, “I think I can handle that,” saving my jumping up and down for later.
Fast-forward to today. I’m now living in San Francisco with Farhad. Side-by-side, we’re planning our futures together, building our businesses, and soaking each other up. I always dreamed of having a “partner-in-crime” with whom to explore my life, and this partner is beyond what I could have imagined. (Pinch me.)
A few weeks ago, when Farhad and I FaceTimed with my Grandma on Christmas, I witnessed my Gram shed a tear of joy that we’ve found each other. I cannot remember the last time (if ever) that I’ve seen Gram cry. It was in that moment that I realized how meaningful family approval is when it comes to your partner.
Two days ago she emailed me to say, “I am so excited for you both and your future together. I know he is special because you chose him and he is special because he chose you! I knew you would wait long enough to find your true soul mate.” I couldn’t have summed it up better myself.
So as I ring in the New Year, my resolutions are less focused on what I will accomplish this year. Instead, I’m focused on cultivating what I’ve begun to realize is the most important thing in the world: love.
What is LOVE? A beautiful global perspective.
More deets on what we’re up to soon.
A year ago I set out on a journey to explore my passions and experience the answer of what was next for me.
I quit my stable and comfortable job, sold my car and apartment of furniture, and gave all but 12 outfits to charity. I packed my life into a suitcase and hopped on a plane from San Francisco to New York. I felt consumed by the idea of living in New York which left me with no choice but to act.
Throughout my journey over the last twelve months, I’ve met a number of incredibly inspiring and talented people. Tech founders, photographers, designers, stylists, restauranteurs, filmmakers, authors, actors, world-travelers, and more. People who are passionately pursuing that which inspires them and makes them feel alive.
Along the way, I’ve collected their deeply personal stories of failure and success. Of growth and progress. Of touching hearts and opening minds. I’ve been moved by each story and I hope you will be too.
Today I’m soft-launching revolution.is thanks to a brilliant team of designers and developers from around the world. (You can sign up now!) They believed in my vision for bringing this gift to the world, and I’m grateful for their help on this project. Together, we hope to inspire more people to discover, explore, act, and accomplish.
Williejackson.com and I wish you a kick-ass weekend.
Hilarious exchange with Momma bear that’s totally making my day.
Mailande Moran's Album
GPOYW: no better way to end the year than with love & family. Here’s a photo of me and my adorable niece, Hailey Cate, on Xmas. She did my makeup and put stars on my face. Best makeup job of the year. <3
everything in life begins with love. in all relationships, in our work, in our encounters with random strangers, everything is connected and we should love accordingly. we only give when we love.
Chicago is nice but it’s no place like New York!
My mom is an incredible entrepreneur, flooring contractor and new development specialist hailing from Chicago. I feel like her time in Chicago is long-over and I’m eager to have her join me in New York! The good news is that she’s very open to living in the same city as her baby, especially if I can help her land some work. That’s where I need your help!
Momma Bear, also known as Beverly, specializes in high-end residential and commercial work. She’s owned a flooring business for 23 years where she pioneered the South Loop of Chicago, turning the film district into a thriving and beautiful part of the city. She’s been involved with the construction of thousands of new homes and commercial properties, and she also has a knack for rehabing old warehouses into beautiful loft projects.
Here’s some examples of her work:
What she can do:
- Contract and install all flooring/granite/wood floors/tile, etc. (so places look like the photos above)
- Interior selections with buyers to help them pick the right look and feel for their home
- Manage the entire project, working with the General Contractor and crew of installers
- Maybe it’s a new high-rise, maybe it’s a big commercial rehab, maybe it’s a new tech incubator that is dying for a high-tech and modern look & feel… this woman knows interior beauty!
Have any leads that will help get Momma bear to New York? If so, email both me @ heyamberrae.com and blambke @ creativeinteriorworks.com
<3 <3 <3
Relationships either work or they don’t. You either treat each other like gold and it feels good or it doesn’t feel right at all. When it’s right, embrace. When it’s wrong, let go. It’s better to walk away from situations that aren’t right than hold on for something to change or magically evolve. You’ll end up closing yourself off to new and better beginnings.
give more love.
The only magic left is LOVE.
Everything kind is descending from love and all damage is caused by the lack thereof.
work on what you love.
We realize this is easy advice to give but it’s hard to follow. A million things warp your beliefs about what you actually really love to do. It causes you to work not on what you really love, but what you’d love to love. What is it you love? Do you work on that?