No capes. Just courage.
When Jen Lemen and I spoke four years ago at WDS conference in Portland, Oregon we did something a little crazy. We hand wrote 500 blessings on index cards that we then taped underneath each seat in the theater. We took this job seriously, lounging on the couches at the Ace Hotel with Sharpies in hand, channeling each note with every cell of our being – What does this person need to hear? And we’d see what would come.
Turns out it takes a long time to write this many notes and throughout the weekend you could find us cosied up on our hotel room beds, on park benches across from the museum and at bars drinking cocktails late at night writing, writing… Do we really have to do all of these? I would ask Jen when I was losing steam. YES. She would say emphatically. We even enlisted some help from a couple of dear friends – Kelly Rae Roberts and Rachael Maddox – and they wrote their hearts out too.
On Sunday, at the end of our talk, we asked everyone to look under their chair for a special note written just for them. There were shouts of joy and surprise and more than a few tears… then they all rose to their feet and cheered. I think we got a standing ovation. It was an extraordinary moment.
And then. Four years later this happened.
Through a serendipitous connection, Jackie shared the above story with me and I melted. So touched by this thread of connection between us. And then she started a thread on Facebook and other people shared their stories. My heart has been so filled up by this exchange.
It’s reminding me how much kindness matters.
How much the love we put into the world matters.
It makes me want to write love notes all day long.
More from the Facebook thread:
Nina Grenningloh Reyes: “My word was “freedom” and my note said this. Both of which I’m still working on daily. A rebel never gives up!”
Jill Seeger Salahub: “This is a picture of it, Andrea, on my writing shrine, where I start every morning. And I don’t know if you remember, but my hand shot up at the end of your session, and I said “THIS ONE is MINE.” It absolutely was a message from the Universe. I was feeling a little out of place at WDS — it was great to meet IRL all the people I’d followed online, but I had no sense yet of exactly what I had to offer, and what I could imagine seemed so far away, almost impossible. Then I got this note, and it was absolutely the “how” I was missing — “make some space.” So I went home and did just that.”
Sophia Habl Mitchell: “I keep mine pinned up right next to my desk. This was the final “message” I needed to leave corporate and start my own consulting biz. Four years later, my business is more successful than I thought possible.”
Steve Errey: “I still have mine taped to the back of my WDS journal, and I *love* it.”
Angie Bryant “My word was juicy. Ripe. Ready”
Ellen Berg: “I taped mine in my journal. I realize now that the past few years have been bringing this seed to bloom. My hubby has his taped up in his office.”
And finally, Mike Hrostoski’s pictured at the top of this post:
“I have two since there wasn’t someone sitting next to me. They are both on my altar at home. For some reason, those two cards are some of the most valued possessions I have. Probably because that first WDS was the springboard to my current life.“
NOTE: I am republishing this story from several years ago because I have a follow-up I want to share with you!
It’s rare that one experience can completely transform you. Burn you to smithereens and you wake up brand new. That’s what WDS did for me.
This is a story of saying yes. We talk about this in Mondo Beyondo. That dreaming big is about being brave, strengthening our courage muscles, flexing our flexibility, opening to our openness. It’s being willing to be vulnerable. And if I ever wondered if I was walking the walk of Mondo Beyondo these days? A few weeks ago I might not have been completely sure. Was I the most alive version of myself? Was I going to the edges of my courage? Was I becoming the person I’ve always wanted to be? Well, today I know for sure. YES. Hell yes.
What you might not know about me is that I am afraid of public speaking. Like really, really afraid. Like panic-attack-might-not-actually-survive-in-fact-might-actually-die afraid. I avoid interviews, toasts at weddings and offering blessings at baby showers. I am called to teach but shy away from it. I don’t like giving my opinion. I sometimes get nervous leaving voice mail messages.
I’m afraid to use my voice.
But sometimes we are called to say yes anyway.
We said yes because it was such a delightful opportunity– it was Chris Guillebeau who we love, it was Portland, Oregon who I am majorly crushed out on, it was the World Domination Summit! It was an easy yes. It was an emphatic yes! even though a voice in the back of my mind shouted, Are you effin crazy girlfriend??? Do you remember what happened last time you said yes to something like this? (For those of you who don’t remember, I had my first ever panic attack. It was a doozy)
Our talk was scheduled for Sunday morning and Saturday night it happened. I went to bed and slept for about an hour and then woke up with a start. My heart pounded violently, my body would get really hot, then really shivery, I was nauseated and cold. I was alone in a hotel room without my baby. But this time I knew what was happening. And I did something really kind for myself.
I didn’t add to the suffering.
It was as if I was an old friend seated next to myself: “You’re having a panic attack and it’s really, really going to be okay. You can be like this all night. I don’t mind at all. In fact, you don’t have to sleep at all tonight and you will still be able to do that talk tomorrow. It’s no problem. We can just watch bad TV in this great hotel room. We can eat all the snickers bars in the mini bar! No matter what, you’re going to be okay.”
It was a couple of hours more of this before I fell asleep, only to wake again at 5am. But I didn’t die! And I am moved by the kindness I showed myself.
And guess what? I can tell you guys this because I know you will celebrate with me. And this is a big one people.
We rocked the house.
We ROCKED the sh*t out of that talk!!!
And I felt amazing while we were up there. Alive, connected and joyous.
I prayed that I would be in my skin while we were up there, I prayed it would have an impact, I prayed that someone would be healed by it, I prayed that it would be an experience that transformed me (and maybe someone else) forever.
At the end of our talk we announced that we did something really irrational/outrageous/mondo. We told the crowd that we handwrote 500 blessings, one for each person, and pasted them underneath every single chair. There were shrieks and cheers as people read theirs. Some burst into tears. Then, very spontaneously, they stood up and cheered for us! It was truly amazing and overwhelming. I’ve never felt so brave.
On the airplane on the way to Portland, I closed my eyes and asked the universe for something. My request went something like this: Universe? Will you send me a treat this weekend? Just a little something that will remind me that someone is listening, that I am connected to source, that I am safe?”
Matt and I are a wee bit obsessed with a show on Hulu called Make it Or Break It. It’s a teen drama about a group of elite gymnasts who are trying to get to the Olympics. We LOVE this show and have invested an inordinate amount of time feeling connected to these characters. I’ve even had dreams where our favorite girl shows up.
Okay guys, so get this.
I walked out of the elevator at the hotel in Portland and guess who was there when the doors slid open? Payson Keeler, our favorite girl from Make it Or Break It! Actually, it was the actress who plays Payson, but I literally gasped and grabbed her, and made her miss the elevator, and talked really fast and told her how much I adored her and that Matt and I watch her show on Hulu every night and how she is our favorite… And she was lovely and gracious and might have even hugged me.
And as I walked away grinning wide, I realized that this was my treat from the Universe and more importantly, that something big might just be true– that it’s safe to say yes even when we’re afraid, that we are always connected to something bigger, and that we are held especially tight when we feel the most vulnerable.
*All photos above taken by Armosa Studios
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