In today’s kickoff video you’ll see me on the beach wearing no makeup and sporting a brand new zit.
Normally I’d smear on some concealer for your viewing pleasure, but there’s a method to my masochism: my buddy Amy Pearson and I want to show you how joy shows up in our real lives– even when they’re messy, imperfect, hectic, frustrating, and ridiculous.
Joy can show up in surprising packages. (Like the Anthropologie package I’ll show you on day 3– it’s not what you think. Well, sort of. But not. Stop asking me about it. Day THREE, people.)
I n September, Amy and I will be taking a group of women through Dr. Martha Beck’s book The Joy Diet as part of the 2013 Martha Beck Master Coach Series, and for the next ten days we’re showing you how we put those practices into use in our own lives.
But first, the sequel I promised you about how I ended up here at the coast.
If you’re new here, welcome! Here’s a bit of background: last week I said something that I thought might get me in hot water. It had to do with a beach house, the non-existence of my rich boyfriend, and what makes me mad about the ‘law of attraction.’
Turned out, instead of hot water, I was flooded with messages from women saying “I’m so glad you said that out loud– I thought there was just something wrong with me!”
I guess I’m not the only one still waiting for those million-dollar checks to mysteriously arrive in the mailbox because I said some affirmations. Dang it.
Please raise your tray table and brace yourself, because I’m about to commit self-help heresy.
I believe The Secret is a big fat crock of cow turds. I know. I said it.
Call me crazy, but I believe that your own creativity, grit, hard work, joy, and moxie will take you farther than manifesting, attracting, or waiting to be rescued. Some people have told me that this is wrong and smacks dangerously of ego and arrogance and I am like– YUP. Thank you for sharing.
But to be fair, there’s nuance here. Fingers-to-the-bone, work-til-you-drop, grind-it-out-and-don’t-trust-anyone-else are not exactly the ideal way to reach our dreams either.
So what can a smart, no-bullshit, mystical and magical being do?
Let me tell you the story of this beach house.
Once upon a time, when I lived in a country on the other side of the world, I spent every summer at the beach. But then some things happened (earthquake), and some other things went snafu (tsunami), and the last two summers have been spent in the lovely sunshine of Portland, Oregon. This was nice, and provided many touching tableaux of people wearing Speedos in the park every time it hit 75, but I craved the ocean.
So I’ve been saving my pennies, and getting my work systems humming along so that I could coach from anywhere, and I decided that This Was The Summer.
We were headed to the coast, by hook or by crook!!!
The very prospect filled me with joy!!!
I started looking for coast houses in a fine high glee. I imagined a tasteful cottage by the beach, nothing over the top, maybe a couple of hot tubs and a bowling alley. Just kidding. I don’t bowl. Maybe it could come with a wine cellar. Stocked.
BAM. Boy did I get the real estate smackdown.
Nothing was available– not for the dates I wanted, not with the bedrooms I wanted, not with the internet I wanted.
I searched, I emailed, I called, I cajoled. And one lead after another fell through.
But here’s the thing. I KNEW that we were going to the coast because I was determined to make it happen, one or way or another. So I kept calling, and emailing, and telling everyone I knew that I was looking for a house to rent all summer.
And people kept telling me that I was insane, that what I wanted was impossible.
But I just shook my head. We’re going to the coast, I’d whisper to myself when their backs were turned. Mostly I did this silently, so that they wouldn’t ask me about my medication.
And then– are you ready?– my parents called me in a state of great excitement. Remember that guy, who you used to work with in Tokyo, who— Yes of course I remembered him! How was he? He was so great! And how was his family? –No No, they interrupted, you’re never going to guess what he asked us at church the other day; he wanted to know if we didn’t know someone who wanted to rent a house on the Oregon coast this summer!!!
Don’t you just HATE it when people tell stories like that? Serendipity, miracles, yada fucking unicorns.
But you have to understand something. There have been so many more times in my life where I wanted something like this to happen and it didn’t. The crazy thing didn’t fall out of the sky. The post didn’t go viral, the phone didn’t ring, the answer was no, the bright bold plan crashed and burned.
Believe it or not, this kind of rejection is awesome.
Because I have learned to keep on toward what I want whether things cooperate or not. I’ve learned to be fierce rather than ladylike. I’ve come to let my own inner longings steer me more clearly than ‘signs’ or ‘the Universe’ or ‘gatekeepers and tastemakers’ and all the glaring hints that ‘obviously that isn’t meant to happen for you.’
I bite my thumb at them.
So even if I hadn’t gotten that phone call about the beach house that I’m sitting in right this hot damn minute, I would still be out at the coast right now.
I would have rented a shitty house if I’d had to, or a series of shitty condo-shacks, or I would have just spent an hour every day on the one rocky crag where I could get a wifi signal while the oysters clawed at my tender ankles. I would have done WHATEVER it took to get us to the coast. That’s how badly I wanted it. That’s how calmly determined I was to make it happen.
I know you have that calm determination in you too. THAT is what will get you that thing you want. THAT will keep you walking toward the thing you crave, whether it’s a publishing deal or a laugh of ecstasy or a raise or a really great pair of shoes.
Sometimes you’ll get serendipities, phone calls, magic opportunities.
Sometimes you’ll get piles of cow shit.
No matter. Keep on anyway. And I’ll see you at that place where the water meets the land, where the elements collide and you know that you are awake, alive, and beautiful.
P.S. No, really, that was literal. Click here and watch my video, and you’ll see me at the edge of the water and land. No makeup and terrible sound. And me telling my secrets.