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The Journey is the Reward

27th December 2011

Three years ago, I decided to use myself as a guinea pig to see what’s possible in realizing dreams.

Since then, I’ve dedicated myself to helping people wake up motivated and fall asleep fulfilled because they’re fearlessly giving their gifts to the world. In reality, I’ve been dedicated to helping myself wake up motivated and fall asleep fulfilled because I’m fearlessly giving my gifts to the world.  

When I woke up yesterday, something clicked. The culmination of everything I’ve been working toward my entire life suddenly made sense. The purpose for my journey and all of my experiences over the last few years seemed obvious. I felt different. Better. On fire. 

I worked furiously the entire day (and night) with more clarity than I’ve ever felt before. It was as if I was walking around with weak vision for an entire year and suddenly put contacts in my farsighted eyes. Ahhh. I saw the details on the trees, the birds soaring in the sky, and the beautiful landscape standing before me.

I saw the future I want to create. I felt ready. Now felt right on time. 

When I fell asleep last night, it was the first time that I can honestly say that I felt deeply fulfilled and exhausted. The difference? I was living on purpose without distractions and in an environment and state that enabled me to create. 

It took me three years and a hell of a journey to get where I am today. (And I’m only just getting started!) What began as a voice deep inside of me that I couldn’t ignore and a personal promise to trust my gut turned into three major moves across the country (Chi -> SF -> NYC -> Boulder), me selling nearly all my belongings, working with over 20 start-ups and brands, at one point only having $80 in my checking account, and making many mistakes and learning many lessons along the way. 

The journey was not easy. But every step has been worth it. 

I went off path. I got distracted. There were times that I lost sight of why I was doing what I was doing. I had panic attacks and emotional breakdowns. At times I felt lost and alone. 

I picked myself back up. I took a deep breath and realigned myself. I pushed my boundaries, scared the shit out of myself, and knew that I had explored far beyond my comfort zone. I felt intense depth, meaning, and purpose. I experienced euphoria and deep fulfillment. I felt alive. So fucking alive. 

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what do you wish to do before you die?

18th October 2010

Writing is my art. I love to dream, think big, turn impossibility into possibility, touch the lives of others, and write my life as I go. I write for understanding. I write to process the ideas and thoughts that come to me each day. I write to inspire others to act toward their dreams too.

Steve Jobs said, “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” 

On that note, one of my favorite questions to ask people is “What do you wish to do before you die?”

Why? Because beyond simply learning “what” this person hopes to achieve, you’ll gain insight into why they exist.  

What do I wish to do before I die? I like to reflect on this question often and keep my thoughts here: http://tumblr.heyamberrae.com/before-i-die 

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workisnotawhat?

17th October 2010

I’m writing this as I sip tea in the house I grew up in. I’m sprawled out on my bed, with my MacBook on my lap, pen & paper by my side, and this blank canvas staring me in the eyes. This blank canvas symbolizes my future and the leap of faith I’m taking. These sheets of paper & pen embody the purpose I live for and the dream I’m passionately pursuing. 

Two weeks from today I fly back to New York to establish what I’ve spent the last two months in Chicago, and my whole life, preparing for. This Halloween, I will reunite with my kindred spirit and new business partner, Catharina, to create a lifestyle for ourselves - a lifestyle which reflects our philosophy that workisnotajob. For us, work is the transfer of energy. We believe that the talents, activities and commitments that exceed business hours define your work. In everything we do, we believe in inspiring people to live their art. Our hope is that we’ll inspire you to carve your path as we carve ours too.

The coming months will be full of work, adventure and uncertainty. From finding a place to live in New York to securing Cath the artist visa so she can legally work in the states. From officially incorporating the company to carefully living on just enough savings to get by in nyc for the next few months, the rest of 2010 will certainly be memorable. Like everything in life, nothing is certain, though we’re confident that in every impossibility and problem lies an answer or solution. We’re confident that everything is better together and nothing can stop the pursuit of our dream.

 

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7th October 2010

what i’ve come to realize so far in life is that what you dream will be yours, if you decide so, and then allow it to unfold. I’ve always believed this philosophy in theory and over time i’ve learned to practice it in everything I do.

for me, it all started with a belief. a belief that life is about following my passions and acting on that which inspires me. this belief became a dream. a dream that I will work what I love and do what’s meaningful for the rest of my life. this dream became a mission. a mission devoted to following my heart, trusting the process and creating something bigger than myself. this mission became a challenge. a challenge comprised of embracing the inevitable fears, uncertainties and “impossibilities” that would emerge in my pursuit. and recently, this challenge became an opportunity. an opportunity to bring all my hopes and dreams into a tangible reality.

one year ago today I arrived in New York for my very first visit. like most of the big and important life moments I’ve experienced thus far, it was completely unplanned, last-minute and seemingly out-of-the-blue.

I was leading marketing for a tech start-up in San Francisco when I started feeling an itch to experience the empire state of mind. I made my way to the big apple and it was love at first sight. By day two of my adventure, I decided New York was next for me.

A few months later, I quit my job, sold all my belongings and arrived in New York City. Upon arriving, I was clueless of where my journey would take me but confident in my ability to figure things out along the way. I began immersing myself in everything creative and tech, landed freelancing gigs with some inspiring start-up and internet companies, and had the pleasure of meeting Allan to co-found NY Nightowls.

In the midst of a lot of projects and spending more time helping others achieve their passions verses making sure I could easily pay rent, I started to feel spread thin. It was through this experience that I realized my purpose.

In everything I do, I want to inspire people to live what they love and act on their talents. I’ve always felt that work is not a job and any problem can be solved to make that which you dream a reality. With this renewed sense of clarity and purpose, I was inspired.

Within days, I stumbled upon workisnotajob., which immediately triggered a “holy shit!” reaction. The philosophy of the brand and beautiful artwork captivated my attention and resonated with my soul. I saw a massive opportunity for me to help grow the mission of the company and so I furiously devoured the internet looking for any and all information about the team.

A healthy dose of online stalking later, I discovered that the company was “unfortunately not located in New York.” It was at this point that I knew I was on to something. Trying really hard not to fall in love TOO quickly, I sent an email to the unknown person behind the brand…

"Hi! I am OBSESSED with workisnotajob. Why are you not in New York? Come to New York. Let’s set up operations here. We can make it happen. xoxo, Amber”

Little did I know that this very email would be the “sign” that founder Cath Bruns was waiting for. 

A series of very enthusiastic email exchanges turned into skype chats which quickly turned into Cath booking a trip to New York to meet me and explore a potential partnership. At the time, Cath was working full-time at Yahoo! leading global art direction in Dublin, Ireland and had just recently launched workisnotajob.

Our in-person meeting was incredible. The connection was immediate, heartfelt and just felt right. It was at that moment that I realized Cath was my “prince charming” of business. We both agreed we had to make this work. And we are.

Fast forward to today. We’re both living in each of our respective hometowns (me in Chicago, Cath in Hamburg, Germany), making plans for when we reunite. Come November 1, we’ll both be back in New York as partners in workisnotajob and on a mission to inspire people to live their talents and act on their dreams.

What began as a belief in following my heart turned into a dream of living this love. And now, it’s full speed ahead.

See you soon New York. I miss you!

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goodbye April, hello May: an excerpt from my New York journal

29th April 2010

As I sit here now, crouched against a stable wall on the roof deck of my building, feeling so still and so calm, I write in complete darkness. The city lights elicit just enough brightness to see the traction of pen ink against my moleskin pages. I look up at the waning moon and feel this deep sense of satisfaction and peace inside. It’s amazing how quiet New York is, if you want it to be.

New York is an amazing city in which passion, energy and ideas incessantly flow. It’s easy to see how one might get caught up in the fast, best, here and now. It’s a city of hustle and chaos in the best and most beautifully dangerous ways.

When I decided to move to New York, several of my closest friends felt concerned that this city would “change me.”

"Please stay sweet … please never stop caring," they said.

"Me?!… change?!" I thought to myself… "that’s impossible!"

Ironically, since moving here, change I have seen… good change.

With chaos, I find calm. With excess, I gravitate toward that which is simple and easy. Immersed in a city of extremes, I find myself frequently stopping to ask myself what it is I want and where I want to be.

It’s crazy how alone you can feel in a sea of unstoppable energy. But it’s actually quite poetic…

The possibilities and novelties of life are endless. With so much to do and see, I find myself stepping back and pausing… I find myself taking time to sit still and watch the world spin.

Moments of stillness, I’ve found, are often the most enriching and energizing.

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For the past 14ish weeks, I’ve been co-hosting Student Branding TV with someone who’s become a close friend of mine, Kade Dworkin. This is the first episode I’m publically sharing as actually getting in front of my Mac and recording these episodes was far more difficult than I ever imagined.

While I definitely have no problem stating my opinions or keeping up conversation face-to-face, this “on camera,” “on stage” element (and not actually being face-to-face) was completely different for me.

I still have a hard time watching myself on camera and I find myself criticizing my every “um,” “ya know” and “ah” but also amazingly, I find myself feeling more comfortable and improving my performance each week. That feels good.

Anyway, far beyond my own personal experience with recording these, what’s more important to me is that these episodes may inspire or help college students out there. I love playing the mentor role and I’ve already felt the benefits of doing so when I hear that something we said in an episode actually helped someone or inspired action. There’s no greater benefit to me than touching someone else in that way.

I also feel confident that as Kade and I continue to work together, and get the word out, our content will improve, I’ll feel better about my performance, and we’ll do something good for the college students of today.

This episode here is about “stuff,” simplifying your life and the experience of getting rid of that which doesn’t matter.

Your thoughts, content ideas and criticisms are warmly welcomed!

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