Category Archives: creativity

5 surprising things I learned from #pamelasperiproject

Periscope hearts
Nothing is ever as it seems.

I just wrapped my 21-day Periscope challenge on Monday, and it turns out this thing I committed to was actually all about integrating the “stuff” I was wrestling with — stuff that was keeping me small and hiding my purpose from the world. As though my gifts and talents were meant for hoarding in the private attic of my soul, rather than to be shared with humanity.

The 21 days went by in a flash. After the first week, I really settled into a groove where scoping became a daily activity as given as brushing my teeth. Some days were awesome; I had other days where I had absolutely no inkling of what the hell I wanted to say.

I definitely haven’t mastered the art of scoping — half the time I forget my hashtags (#duh) — but the Peri Project was an awesome challenge for me, personally. Whodathunk something as silly as a daily social media practice would be so enriching?

  1. Consistency
    This one’s the obvious one. I mean, you don’t do a 21-day challenge on anything without teaching yourself about consistency. But like, seriously? Consistency is the key to success in anything. ANYTHING!There’s this quote I love:
    Zig Ziglar quote on motivation and bathing Is there anything else to be said about this you haven’t heard a million times before? Here’s a great one I got from Alex Beadon: Be the 1% of people who follows through. Really, the difference between the excellent and the outstanding (e.g., between gold and silver medals) is often just a millimeter of a difference (this one’s from my homeboy Tony Robbins). I’m learning, firsthand, a new level of esteem for myself simply thanks to finishing what I start. (This was why I began my weekly Style Tip Tuesday video series, and as of this writing, I now have 20 videos! BAM!) All that a painting is is a collection of brushstrokes, added one at a time, over time.
  2. Keeping my goal at the forefront
    I can’t emphasize enough just how much of a difference I felt by keeping myself accountable to doing this daily. Sometimes I’ll blow hot air and say something noncommittal, like, “Oh, I should tidy my room.”Yet, months later, my room will still (mysteriously) not be clean. This is because I don’t spend my entire day in my bedroom — it’s totally out of sight, out of mind. I definitely kept my Periscope challenge metaphorically in sight. This made all the difference, especially on days I had no idea what I wanted to say. Because I had a daily scope on my mind every day, I’d find something to say!
  3. I had the right to speak up
    Right at the end of week one, I had an ingenious idea. I’d been tuning into a scoper named Ian’s show — as a Ph.D student in neuroscience at UPenn, he broadcasts about four times a week on the topic, which I love as a young stroke survivor-turned-brain-enthusiast. One day, he scoped about the “neuroscience of free will,” which was both intriguing and difficult for me. His argument was that free will is just an illusion — and that everything we do is the result of what he calls “the conspiracy” between nature (brain chemistry and health) and nurture (our experiences). This didn’t sit well with me, and not for obvious reasons, but because, as a person to whom her spirituality is of utmost importance, I felt that free will was absolutely essential to higher consciousness and self-actualization. I realized that somebody needed to voice “the other side.” (As an atheist and primarily a neuroscientist, Ian did not leave much room for disagreement on the topic the first time around.) Once I started noticing where in my life I had been afraid of being seen, I stepped up and allowed myself to be that voice. No apologies. Of course, I often felt as though I’d thrown myself to the lions, as I jumped in rather off the cuff — which leads me to . . .
  4. Imperfect action is better than no action.
    As a recovering perfectionist, I know intimately the internal pressure to do outstanding work whenever it comes to creating something out of nothing. I still face my inner Bitchety Cricket every day — and sometimes, she wins. (This is partly why I still love blogging and writing, because I get to proofread, edit, and even re-edit already published content.) But Periscope is raw. It’s unedited, it’s “What you see is what you get,” and it’s downright scary sometimes.
    imperfect action better than no actionNow, I’m saving this for a much more in-depth post, but Gay Hendricks has introduced me to a concept that doesn’t sit well with Bitchety Cricket: It’s an idea that takes the whole “Be gentle with yourself” concept to another, altogether foreign, level. It’s the practice of being playful with your imperfections. Bitchety Cricket is not a fan of this practice, and to be honest, I’m not even sure what that could look like in my day-to-day life. But something tells me therein lies the cure to perfectionism (and therefore emotional self-flaggellation).The beauty, and the darkness, of Periscope is that it is unforgiving in its realness. And fortunately, if you mess things up really badly, there’s always DELETE. :)

  5. Success Begets Success
    I celebrated the fact that I’d made a voice of myself in my response scopes on free will. I actually surprised myself by creating a second Periscope account so that I could start an entirely new show called #STROKESCOPE. Not only did I now have double the Periscope fun — apparently I am officially a full-fledged addict! — but I now had a clearer purpose.

    I also found that the momentum I gathered by scoping daily also had other side effects: There were networking opportunities. Like-minded scopers and viewers started talking to me (my Twitter account hasn’t seen this much action since, well, ever) and following me. I’ve met some wonderful people through the platform, and there’s a new sense of pride and accomplishment that wasn’t there before I began the challenge. I see the results of this seeping into other areas of my life, too. People I once wouldn’t speak up to, I now do (graciously). I’ve become more assertive; no longer do I cower in the back of rooms or swallow the thing that really needs to be said. I feel more true to me.BONUS:

  6. The end is just the beginning
    Now that #PamelasPeriProject is over, I do feel lighter. Lighter because I’ve had a taste of success, discipline, and possibility, and now it’s like dropping a to do list on the ground — that piece of paper with all the shit begging to be done isn’t necessarily left behind. I can always pick it up again.It’s a beautiful balance of push and pull, and it just amazes me that all this Periscoping was actually a big lesson in self-care.

You haven’t seen the last of me yet!

Has this inspired you? Which of the five lessons rings truest to you? Leave me a comment and follow me on Periscope and Twitter! My usernames are @ciaoPamela and @strokeduplife.

Pamela Hsieh signature

 

#pamelasperiproject launches this sunday!

Periscope-Twitter

Psst. Did you know there was a new social media platform in town?

Even though the last thing I needed was a new social media distraction to sponge up all my spare time and get me off track, Periscope is actually really something special.

It’s a live video broadcasting platform — and because it’s owned by Twitter, it’s already widely available to many of us. The amazing thing about the livestreaming is that people participating in your broadcast are able to directly comment in realtime. What a great way to develop a relationship with all of you!

So I was a bit skeptical at first. “Really? But why?” Then I tuned in to some people’s scopes and fell in love. I could search scopes by location, and my first time poking around the app, I was able to sit in on a Second City performance or even hang out with some Italians in Tuscany and Rome. I hitched a ride to work through the rolling hills of England with a guy who walks his mile commute every morning.

OMGTHISISLIKEFREETRAVELICANGOBACKTOEUROPE

WHENEVERIWANT. 

And then the floodgates opened. But besides being a great way to get value, whether from the “free travel” voyeurism aspect or from fun thought leaders and entrepreneurs sharing lifehacks in their scopes, I quickly realized that Periscope is significant to me for other, less obvious reasons.


 

It actually represents certain levels of discomfort that I need to break through. As surprising as this may sound, I have a slight block against being seen.

Seen and recognized in the world for the gifts I have to give. I first noticed this manifesting on Periscope when I found myself hesitating any time I wanted to comment on someone’s scope.

What? I had no problem leaving comments on Facebook or people’s blogs — why the stage fright all of a sudden? It was because scopers were responding directly to commentary in realtime, interacting with viewers as in conversation.

I got over it. Soon I found myself commenting whenever I felt called to — and leaving streams of hearts! (Periscope hearts are addicting — they’re basically social “currency” within the app, like applause.)

Periscope hearts

And then I hit a sort of standstill. I felt like I needed to progress. How else could I participate in Periscope besides simply consuming the content? How could I become a content creator? Of course, I could do my own broadcast.

I dipped my toe in by broadcasting my local fashion show last Monday, which debuted the new fall jewelry line in my business, but it was a bit of a flop. Which was fine — because I made a very last-minute decision to broadcast it, I knew very few people would be able to attend live. However, because I hadn’t prepared exactly where to scope from physically, the viewpoint wasn’t the best. It also ran pretty long. (And interestingly, I did have a small number of live viewers!)

And although Periscope allows people’s replays to stay up for 24 hours, the cool thing is as a scoper, you can also save the footage from your scope. The great thing about this is you can then repurpose your scopes for something else — blog posts, podcasts, Facebook, Instagram . . .

So all isn’t lost! But . . . I did kind of feel like I cheated myself of the Real Periscope Experience.

I hadn’t really put myself out there. My audience never even saw my face! (If you follow my Style Tip Tuesday videos, you know from my slogan, “When you know you look good, you feel good.” And I felt good on Monday. :))

Truly putting myself out there has been a painfully slow work in progress for years. It began with my itty bitty Rehab Revolution blog in 2010, and then gradually, expanded to this blog and to YouTube thanks to Marie Forleo’s demanding (worth it!) video scholarship contests. Back in March, I challenged myself to begin a weekly video series for my jewelry business, and as of the writing of this post, I now have 17 Style Tip Tuesday episodes up. (Woohoo!)

So I told myself, “Good job, you scoped once. But you have to step it up — do it for real!” And then . . . crickets.

What would I even scope about? 

You know where I’m going with this, right?

I have this great habit of forcing myself through discomfort (remember my series on networking?) — which I understand is fairly uncommon — so naturally, I’m declaring the need for a #PamelasPeriProject challenge.

I’ve written down a broad list of topics I could scope about, and I’m committing to broadcasting myself on Periscope once a day, every day, for an indeterminate amount of time. Or, more accurately, for two days.

Why only two days? Because I’m keeping it as unscary as possible.

If I told myself I’d scope daily for a month, I already feel myself withdrawing into my little Pamela cave — as the most introverted kind of extravert, when I feel myself being “too seen” too quickly, I go into hideout mode.

Let’s skip all that, shall we? I’ve already (half-)scoped once, so to do myself one better, I’d like to scope once a day for two days. And if I enjoy it (which I believe I will), I’ll extend the challenge to three days.

To be honest, the number of days I have in mind is 21. But I’m starting small. Two it is.

Is there any structure to #PamelasPeriProject?

This is really just an experiment. After brainstorming possible Periscope topics, I’m just going to test them out on my broadcasts to see what the response is like. You guys get to tell me what you want to see or chat about. :)

I’m so excited! We can have coffee/tea/brunch together — go to events (with wifi) together — have masterminds together. The possibilities are endless . . .

Will you help me? You can join Periscope on your iPhone or Android — be sure to do it with your Twitter account, not your phone number — or even tune in on the web!* #PamelasPeriProject begins this Sunday the 26th. (Why? Because we’re going to a bunny spa day and I want to scope that.)

As of today, my plan is to scope at different times — my sweet spot will most likely be during the afternoons, but I’d like to play around and see what times work best. (If you miss one, remember, you get 24 hours to check out the replay and you can still give hearts!)

If you’re interested in doing your own #PeriProject, I’d love to support you with my own share of heartstreams and comments — please comment below if you’d like to come play with Periscope with me.

“See you” on a broadcast!

Pamela Hsieh signature

 

 

*You can watch replays from the web, you will not be able to give hearts unless you are watching from the app.

what reinvention means to me (or, refueling my purpose)

Confession: I started writing this post today originally with a completely different intention. I’m familiar with the practice of letting my words carry me somewhere I never thought I’d go in the moment — welcome to writing and the art of conversation — so I surrendered to it. I promise this post has a point, so please be patient and let it unfold.

fleur de lisAfter my junior year in Florence, I decided to change my major to Italian (that way, the culture classes I’d taken wouldn’t have been for nothing — this was an attempt to speed my degree along, though we obviously know that didn’t work). And then I declared myself pre-med, which was ironic considering the fact that my dad had been trying to coerce me into becoming an MD since I was six and I was always all, “I wanna be an artist! An author! A teacher!”

No. This time, I wanted to become a doctor because I’d been overcome with gratitude for the doctors I’d had at the University of Chicago Hospitals, who had saved my life and my spirit when I’d been hospitalized for the stroke. The staff I met there was so genuinely heart-centered, so beautiful in their service that I loved them all and thought of them often. I felt that if I could touch a single person in my life in the way they had touched mine, it would make my time on Earth worthwhile.

Anyway, I toiled about being an Italian major and pre-med, not knowing if that was going to be okay. So naturally, I added creative writing to the mix.

I’d been writing since I was 10. The first “book” I ever wrote (and I’d do nearly anything to find my one and only first edition copy!) was, for lack of a better term, fan fiction. My favorite book growing up was Roald Dahl’s Matilda, to which I wrote my own sequel . . . illustrated — wait for it — in the style of original Matilda illustrator Quentin Blake. (Seriously, if I ever find it, I will have it coated in something to preserve it forever.)

from http://www.the-platform.org.uk

from http://www.the-platform.org.uk — man, this makes me nostalgic!

And ever since, I’d written story after story. It was a self-imposed discipline. My first completed original work was a novel called All That and A Cup of Milk, which I wrote at 16 and “self-published” in a binder covered in magazine cutouts of models I’d used as representations of my characters. (I was 16. ’Nuff said.)

This was my bliss. I used to come home every day after school, and like clockwork, would type away at the computer (you think I type fast now with my one superhand! I believe I even have video footage of me writing at the giant box that was my old-school desktop back in the day) working away at my stories. But . . .

To this day, I haven’t completed another book. Something anti-magical occurred during undergrad. My writing degree required what I fondly call half an English major’s worth of literature classes. (Ironically, I’d spent a few years as a kid believing I wanted to become an English teacher. HA!)

When I first learned how to read as a child, all I did was read. I used to go to the bathroom reading. I recently dragged myself to the eye doctor — one of my least favorite things to do — because I carry a hefty -10.5 contact lens prescription. This was the first year the eye doc had ever told me one of my eyes had stabilized and not gotten worse since my last visit.

Anyway. I’ve been nearsighted since I was six, and I’m sure all the 100,000s of hours I’ve spent with my little nose in a book was a heavy contributor.

When I was a creative writing major, I pretty much quit reading for pleasure. (The U of I might revoke my hard-earned degree for this.) I would come home from the school bookstores at the beginning of each semester with a stack of books as tall and thick as I was.

Meanwhile, all my scientist and numbersy friends/roommates would be all, “Why don’t you ever study?”

Italian came easy to me. After a year of forcing Florentine shopkeepers and residents to talk to my Eastern face in Italian, I had done the impossible: I’d returned to the States not only proficient, but fluent, in the language.

Because of this, I had pretty much placed out of any language courses U of I could have offered for my major, and all that was left was cultural courses. I may have been a wizard at rolling my Rs and conjugating verbs in any tense, but history is a different beast to me.

This is Dante.

This is Dante.

And then there was Dante. I spent a semester reading and studying his entire Divine Comedy (that’s three canticas — not just Inferno, but also Purgatorio and Paradiso). Let’s not forget that as a writing major I also had to dive deep into Shakespeare . . . If you escaped the education system with only an overview of Romeo & Juliet, know that for a writing or literature major, that sounds like graduating from high school with only a proficient knowledge of basic arithmetic.

And then there was Nabokov. Who to this day I still can’t say I fully understand, other than appreciate his genius.

So pretty much, “studying” for me was reading. All the time. And besides the stories I had to write for my actual writing classes, I quit writing for fun as well, after a terrible blowout that had gotten me in trouble with a roommate I had as a sophomore.

The period of pre-med lasted only a couple years at most. Physics took over my life so much that I even found references to Newtonian laws in my writing(!), and I had no social life. Fortunately or unfortunately, I am naturally an extravert, despite the fact that I have consciously chosen a very solitary pastime as my favorite vessel for carrying my voice to the masses.

Pre-med made a total nerd out of me, and it soon became apparent that I’d been trying to mold myself around subjects that I merely found interesting, but wasn’t passionate enough about to shape a career out of. (Is anyone surprised that the Italian-CW major wasn’t dedicated enough to chemistry and molecular biology to pass the MCATs?)

I think what really drove that home was the semester I was lucky enough to get kicked out of a writing class (more on that later) and then into an independent study in the creative writing department with one of its chairs. Prof. Madonick (or “Mike,” as he insisted I call him) inspired me to start my memoir.

When I wrote the first several pages of this memoir, I found five years’ worth of pent-up emotions release for the first time. Things I didn’t even know I’d been processing came out of my fingertips and onto my screen. I could barely see the words as the vision of them blurred through the tears. There were so many tears. They created a waterfall.

I was 19 years old when the stroke happened — so I was pretty much just a punk kid in the world believing I was invincible and capable of anything I could dream up. (Heck, I’m 31 today and still believe I’m capable of anything I can dream up.) But when I was 19, I both knew a lot and nothing about myself. Any self-exploration had been only at the surface level, and it wouldn’t be until I graduated that I really leapt into the vortex of personal development and self-study, because that was when I decided to give entrepreneurship a shot.

So the memoir really helped me process a lot of what I’d been feeling and experiencing underneath the façade of “everything’s just fine, and I’m just like everyone else, just a bit more gimpy.”

It had been precisely that façade that had kept me denying a lot of my own feelings. Things weren’t “just fine,” and I certainly wasn’t just like everyone else. “A bit more gimpy” looked like regular accidents and spills, anger and resentment, and an inability to do what I wanted to do how I wanted to do it.

(Hey — wearing heels is as worthy a desire as it is to not want to drool on someone while kissing them.)

The memoir had become so game-changing for me that I decided the world needed it.

I’ll say this again: The world needed it.

And I believe this is why my memoir has been incomplete since I began it in 2008. Who was I to dare provide the world with something it needed?

Two years later, I created Rehab Revolution, so that I could get a head start on creating a community of people who needed my voice. Since then, a small number of young stroke survivors have indeed reached out to me to thank me for what I’ve done for them. They truly warm my heart — and if any of them are reading this today, please know that you guys are why I write.

Four years ago, I sent myself to the UW-Madison’s Writers’ Institute conference for the first time, and I experienced a misplaced sense of shame.

Shame that I was willing to put money on the line, invest the dollars into myself as a writer, but not willing to finish my manuscript before I came.

There were what felt like hundreds of writers there, of all kinds, backgrounds, and genres, most of them there preparing to pitch their manuscripts to agents and editors who had traveled there to pick up new authors, and there I was, reeling.

What? There were people there who could potentially propel my little 34-page-and-counting Word document into an actual, tangible book? I — the twentysomething stylish girl with a limp — could actually launch this dream of becoming a full-fledged author at this conference?! “Next year,” I told myself. “Next year I’ll have it ready.”

“Next year” came around and I said the same thing. And again, and again.

In retrospect, I don’t blame myself for freezing. I had no idea what I was getting into going to this conference in the first place, so that first year was a learning experience. I discovered that the conference, rather than focusing solely on the craft, taught the side of writing I’d never learned as a writing major — it taught the business side of writing.

How to pitch. Practice your pitching. Writing a query letter. Networking.

If you remember my networking posts from 2013, that was my first year learning to network. And the first Writers’ Institute I attended was in 2012. #forshame

I remember finding myself seated next to an agent (who was looking for memoirs to sign! *facepalm*) at the (ahem) networking lunch and spiraling out of control in my head.

Ohmygodit’sanagentlookingformemoirsIshouldreallytalktohim.

I told myself that this was the Universe’s way of handing me what I wanted on a silver platter, and that if I passed it up, it would not happen again.

I forced myself to start a conversation with him . . . right as the lunch started wrapping.

He was gracious enough to indulge me for several minutes, and he even gave me a little feedback and advice before he had to run off for someone’s pitch.

I remember something he said was along the lines of not rushing my memoir, that it would take as long as it had to take. This encouraged me.

I kept repeating the “Next year I’ll have it ready” and even signing myself up for non-traditional participation in NaNoWriMo a couple of times, but I found myself somehow blocked.

Next month, I’ll be going to my fourth Writers’ Institute conference. My manuscript still sits at 34 measly pages (though to be fair, they are single-spaced). I honestly thought I’d written more.

But the truth is, that’s only because of my blog. To this day, I’ve published 209 (210 if you count this one, which I am posting there too) articles — most of them completely original content by me or by my guest writers — and while I am so happy to know that my posts are helping a small number of readers, it’s both a blessing and a curse.

It’s a curse because it fools me into believing I’ve made more progress on my book than I actually have, but it’s a blessing also because it’s deepened my resource of exploration into what my memoir could include.

On a slight aside, I totally believe in Divine Messages. What these are are repetitive whispers from the Universe, gently guiding me to what I need to embrace right now. These whispers often crescendo into outright declarations spoken by actual people I see in my day-to-day existence, and then if I’m not receptive (I’ve grown to become very receptive — the Divine always knows what I need), I have to learn the hard way why I should’ve listened in the first place.

I’ve been consistently reading Mastin Kipp’s Growing Into Grace and religiously following author Danielle LaPorte online these days, and both of these leaders (who run majorly successful businesses in spiritual and personal development work) have been through and come out on top of some major upheaval that makes my current “I’m starting my life over at 31! What to do?!” sound like major #firstworldwhining.

Mastin started out his brand, The Daily Love, with nothing but a Twitter account and an e-mail list of friends and family. Danielle got out of a humbling, bad business deal with nothing but her blog and 60 followers.

That the two of them now are spiritually fulfilled and serving the world in the ways they know best is so inspiring to me. They’re both graduates of Marie Forleo’s famous B-School, which I FINALLY signed up for this year after standing at the sidelines like a wannabe for five years.

(I did enter the scholarship contest again for the last time — once you’re a B-Schooler, you’re forever a B-schooler. Here’s my video entry.)

When I first began rebooting myself and my business, I started networking again like it was my job. (I mean . . . it totally is.) A virtual assistant that I’d met a year or two ago at a different networking group, Mary, started talking to me about my book and began supporting me in a significant way. I told her that if I didn’t finish my book now, I was never going to do it. Rather than just “being excited” or giving me verbal encouragement and then forgetting about me, she’s been nudging me and keeping me accountable to my commitment to get my memoir out there.

Have I written anything yet? Well . . . this counts, doesn’t it?

Seriously. I’ve learned that sometimes pushing through resistance just makes the resistance stronger. The fact that I’ve had my memoir actively on my mind this month and that it is sitting open on my laptop right now are already big steps if you consider my manuscript’s distinct absence from my radar for the past few years.

Here’s a screenshot of a Facebook status I posted two weeks ago. (Mary suggested I post it.)

Facebook accountability status

I also promised Anthony that I’d make a super honest effort this week to work on my memoir. He kind of thinks I should save the time, energy, and money this year, sit out the conference, and buy myself another year.

But I know better. Enter more Divine Messages: Yesterday, I came across a blog post by one of my favorite friends and leaders, success coach Kris Britton. It’s about having the courage to go “all in.” (Funny sidenote . . . she actually featured me in this post!!)

(I think the whispers are getting louder.)

B-School starts on 9 March, and I can’t tell you how excited I am to start. (The conference is on the 27th.) The year 2015 may have begun nearly three months ago, but I can feel it in my soul — this is the best year yet. I feel the culmination of everything I’ve ever done and everything that’s ever happened for me bubbling up in this moment.

I’ll be posting on my progress and anything else that comes up as I go. March will be a busy month of more reinvention, more exploration, more leaps and dives into the unknown.

The Universe will give you everything you want — and more — as long as you show that you are committed.

Thank you for reading this and allowing me to speak to you the way I know best. I love each and every one of you — even if you disagree with me and/or think I’m off my rocker. :)

Questions or comments? Leave a message below!

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coming up for air – a return to what matters

*crickets* *crickets*

I’ve taken a seemingly infinite hiatus.

This has been a problem — not only for you, my cherished readers, but mostly, and ironically, for me. I mean, have I seriously not posted a thing since 2013?! Wow.

The truth is, I’ve been going through a heavy period of transition. As cliché and overhyped as “I’m finding myself” may sound, it’s honestly been what I’ve been doing.

It’s still too early to go into much detail — kind of like touching too much after having just applied nail polish — but I recently parted ways with a job that I was convinced I was in love with for a good year and a half.

treefrog

But the truth has its way of revealing itself, and it was that my blind devotion to this job was unsustainable, and that it had changed over time. A lot. Much like the proverbial frog in the pot of water, slowly coming to a boil, I found myself drowning in a hot mess. It was so bad that there would be days I would wake up and find myself in a panic because my phone was blowing up with work-related emergencies.

Mind you, I wasn’t a paramedic. There was no such thing as a true emergency within the confines of that job. As time slips into the gap between my time there and now, I become a little more sober, a little more capable of understanding exactly what went wrong. It’s too soon to dive into it now, as I still feel rather vulnerable and I’m still processing the emotions.

But you know what’s really exciting? This means I now get to focus on me and my purpose for real. Which means that I now will be making the time to write: write for you here, write on Rehab Revolution, finish my memoir, launch my podcast . . .

A lot of really amazing things stirring up in the creative vortex that is my mind and my heart. I have a lot of ideas in the works. As a multi-passionate person, I struggle a bit at focusing on one thing at a time, but that’s exactly what I’ll have to do.

Baby steps. I feel called to finally raise my voice and start working on my message, my mission. I’ve broken the silence. It’s time for me to be seen and be heard.

It feels more than good to relaunch. My past does not have to define my future — take this and apply it to whatever you need.

Whatever your soul’s been urging you to do all these days, weeks, months . . . do it. Even if it’s just a single step.

That’s what I’m doing. Are you in?

Tell me what action you’re going to take today to take you just that much closer to an inspiring future — leave a comment!

Pamela Hsieh signature

(By the way, I plan to redesign the blog so it isn’t so boring.)

[wealth week] the spirituality/money conflict, part 1

Is abundance a “must” for you?

Yesterday we talked about the difference between “shoulds” and “musts.” Unfortunately, a lot of us nowadays “should all over ourselves.” How many times do you hear things like this in everyday situations?

workout

via homeworkoutexercises.com

  • I really should start working out more, but I just don’t have time.
  • I really shouldn’t eat that, but I just can’t turn down a good burger.
  • I should be saving, but those shoes are SO cute.
  • I should really get to the meeting on time, but I have so much to do before I leave.

When we “should” over ourselves, it’s often a precursor to our excuse(s) as to why we aren’t doing whatever it is we should be doing.

Right?!

In contrast, I find that we very rarely see people saying, “I shouldn’t watch one more episode before bed” and turning off the tube as soon as they say it. It’s uncommon to witness a person earnestly saying “I should” or “I should not” and then following through with a congruent action. If you’re one of these people, congratulations, you know what verbal integrity is! (I’m being serious, despite how sarcastic that may have come off. I really respect people who do what they say and say what they do.)

All this said, rather than thinking we “should” save money or invest or use T. Harv Eker’s jar system for money management, changing that should to a must is, well, a must.

But this is where things get hairy. We as a people tend to have some pretty mixed feelings about whether money is a good or a bad thing. When we have conflicting feelings about anything, the results tend to be pretty conflicting, too.

Shakespeare

from cmoh.blogspot.com

So first . . . I want to dispel the myth that wanting plenty of money is unspiritual. A lot of people associate spirituality with the swearing off of all material goods. To me, this makes zero sense, and I’m going to be a literary nerd here and allude to Shakespeare.

In his play King Lear, one of the quotes that always stood out to me as truth is this one:

 

 

O, reason not the need! Our basest beggars

Are in the poorest thing superfluous.

Allow not nature more than nature needs,

Man’s life’s as cheap as beast’s . . .

What this means is “humans would be no different from animals if they did not need more than the fundamental necessities of life to be happy” (as explained by SparkNotes — yes yes, I know. I may be out of high school, but I still think it’s a legitimate source of literary analysis).

But isn’t it true? We humans appreciate so many things beyond just feeding ourselves and seeking shelter. We celebrate art, whether it be in film, on canvas, or (thankfully) in the written word. No critter I know has ever reaped as much joy out of a good novel than I have, and I’ve been caught admitting that if I ever had to choose between a bed and a bookshelf, I might have to think about it. (No joke.)

Beyond life’s little pleasures, who draws the line between what’s “enough” and what’s “too much”? Why is the pauper who only has a bed and one blanket more noble than the person with a canopy and four decorative pillows? And isn’t there always worse? For every person who only has X, Y, and Z, there are people who only have X and Y, and perhaps someone with only Z. Who gets to say who’s more spiritual than another simply based on material possessions?

Not to mention, when your financial situation provides you enough to not have to worry, it creates this wonderful situation — one in which you can easily take care of your loved ones, give to the causes you believe in, and create that which you’re most passionate about. (I have more to say about this, but that is reserved for tomorrow.)

I think the problem lies in the bad examples of the wealthy that are out there. People mistakenly believe that the more money you have, the worse a person you must be — but that’s simply not true!

Money only gives you the ability to be more of whatever you already are (this is an MMI principle). There are douchebags and shining stars in every income bracket, and the greedy people who made it to the top have only created the option to be greedy on a larger scale.

That said, do I agree with most of the things the leaders who earn top dollar in corrupt industries do? No! But the reason we need to raise money to match their financial power in order to right their wrongs is because the less money we have, the less options we also have.

Let me repeat that. Money gives you options.

I’m not one to claim that wearing designer clothes or driving sports cars is the best way to spend your millions — not at all. But if you’re honoring yourself and your finances by splitting up your assets into the six categories in the jar system (financial freedom, long-term savings, education, necessities, play, and give), you’ll see that there’s nothing immoral about splurging on things you simply enjoy.

jars

from crateandbarrel.com

For example, for me, before I got my serious DSLR camera, I always felt like my photos fell short. I had the good eye for decent photographs, but the effect I always wanted was something my simple point-and-shoots couldn’t provide. I even invested in a small camera that was very good, and had far more options in terms of manual settings that exceeded most point-and-shoots, but ultimately, my demand for photos with an aperture setting won out.

So a year ago, I got my first DSLR, and I’ve never been happier taking pictures. Since I feel writing (blogging, for me) comes hand-in-hand with photography, it was an investment in my freelance work as well as an outlet for creative expression. Now that I’m the blogger for Argentina Leyva Portrait Studio, further expanding my photography repertoire may certainly be part of my job description one day.

In short, what may be considered a “luxury” item to one person (e.g., someone who knows nothing about photography) may be a very good investment to another. My boss Argentina certainly looks at her pieces of professional equipment in a different way than I do my own.

I also own a Mac. There is pretty much no one out there who can convince me to not have a Mac, no matter how many people grumble about a supposedly high price tag. To me, my Mac offers me value no other computer does.

Herein lies the rub! Money is simply an expression of value — it is what we trade for services and products that we alone can’t (or won’t) produce ourselves.

Picasso

via www.richhainesgalleries.com

Consider the Picasso parable (I don’t remember from where in my studies of wealth I came across this, but I know I’m not imagining it, as I found this article online.

It seems a woman came up to Picasso and asked him to sketch something on a piece of paper.

He sketched it, and gave it back to her saying: “That will cost you $10,000.″

She was astounded. “You took just five minutes to do the sketch,” she said. “Isn’t $10,000 a lot for five minutes work?”

“The sketch may have taken me five minutes, but the learning took me 30 years,” Picasso replied.

The thing is, while every business does mark up its services and/or products, these things have cost the business owner (or whoever created them) countless hours of education, practice, and practical experience to get them where they are. Money is simply an expression of that energy, the efforts put in to create something salable, rather than just an arbitrary figure someone thought up to “rip you off.”

I recently had an experience very similar to this. While I was with my business team down at our Premier Designs headquarters, we visited manufacturing. Seeing all the manpower involved in creating molds, electroplating, and manually setting gemstones into the jewelry gave me such a newfound respect for the end product. To the consumer, this may just be a simple bangle or ring, but it was the result of how many workers putting in how many hours to create? Not to mention the electricity or whatever else it takes to run a huge brick-and-mortar establishment or the cost of materials and semiprecious metals! (Let’s not forget, either, the creativity of the design team or what their educations cost them in time and money.)

I’ve learned to never question too hard why something costs what it does. (Exceptions to this include things like selling Dasani water bottles at a tourist attraction for $10.) Sometimes, I’ll ask, “Why does this item carry the price tag it does?” and more often than not, I find out that oh, there’s silver in the threads in the material of this shirt, or hey, it took five years to produce this by hand . . . or whatever the case may be. Jumping to conclusions and just saying, “That’s too expensive” is just a lazy way of saying, “That’s out of my budget for this widget, and I’m choosing to direct my funds elsewhere.”

That said, I do understand that sometimes you don’t feel the need to invest in a gym top with silver embedded in it — and that’s fine. If your needs require a run-of-the-mill, off-the-rack cotton T-shirt, then it is your prerogative to write off the value in that silver-threaded top!

Value is relative to the consumer. For me, I’d rather spend the money on a Mac and everything being a Mac owner entails. I recognize and appreciate the service I get at Apple, and I utilize the crap out of Apple-exclusive programs. Macs hold a lot of value for me. And the beauty of a capitalistic market is that there’s usually something for everybody, and if there isn’t, well, no one’s stopping you from creating it yourself and profiting from it!

Returning to the $10 Dasani water, don’t you think your perspective might change if you were stranded on a desert, desperate for hydration? Heck, you might even throw thousands at that bottle of H2O! Value is relative. If you don’t see value in something, no one’s forcing you to buy it.

Just don’t stick your nose up at someone who’s asking you for more money than you think it’s worth. They’re in business for a reason, and if making money is that reason, you can’t fault ’em for that.

This post has gone on far longer than I anticipated . . . so I’ll have to conclude it tomorrow in part two. I hope some of this gave you food for thought! I leave you tonight with this video of one of my favorite business mentors, Marie Forleo:

Until tomorrow,

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[love] some unlikely reflections + associations that bring me back to my roots

When I was very young (we’re talking, like, elementary school), I remember one of my teachers complimenting me, saying that I had “more creativity in one pinkie than [she had] in her entire body.”

Well, while that doesn’t actually make any sense because every human being on Earth has the ability and propensity to be creative — and we all create our realities through the actions we take every single day — it does point out that some people are a little more in touch with the special spark of creativity within themselves. I feel that in many ways I have been one of those people. Lately, I am also often not one of those people. Before I knew how to do anything, all I did was draw. I drew and drew and drew until I learned to read, after which you could never find my nose out of a book. I went to the bathroom with a book, ate with a book. (To this day, you will rarely find me anywhere without reading material. I have to convince myself not to take books or magazines with me to social engagements, calming myself down that if all else fails, I do have my Kindle app on my phone. Yes, I am that girl.)

By the time I was 10, I fell so in love with my first favorite book, Matilda by Roald Dahl, that I memorized the entire first chapter I read it so much. (Is it any shock to anyone my contact lens prescription is over -10?) To this day, I still know the first sentence. I also wrote my first book, constructed out of wide-ruled looseleaf paper bound by those brass clasps that no one uses anymore. It was my first (and only) piece of fanfiction, a sequel to Matilda illustrated and colored in the style of Quentin Blake, Dahl’s own illustrator. It was legit!

I have no idea where that book is now, but I would pay to have it in my hands today. Because it was that book that first established in me the belief that I was a writer. From fourth grade on, writing became a part of my identity. I soon partnered up with a schoolmate who also liked to write and we would encourage each other to keep producing our work, every single day. Of course, our work was crap, but the important thing was that we believed in it enough to work on it consistently.

High school was an interesting time. Because I’ve been working on deleting the H-word from my daily lexicon (you know, the one that rhymes with late), I’ll just say that high school was a strongly challenging time for me emotionally. I have always been, although seemingly strong and confident of myself, rather soft and fragile on the inside (for this, my Taiwanese mother frequently calls me a “strawberry.”) So after all of my closest friends “abandoned” me (is there a more self-centered time than teendom?) for other schools — either private schools 20 minutes away, or in the case of my best friend, boarding school in Connecticut — there was just this feeling of profound loneliness and being lost. Yes, there were many new friends to be made, but I was in a very disempowered state back then, and my one daily salvation besides phone calls to friends I couldn’t see was to throw myself into my writing as soon as I got home from school. Every. Single. Afternoon.

Book 1I wrote my first (and only! So far, anyway) novel at fourteen. It was a POS rom-com-inspired YA novel called All That and a Cup of Milk. (I know.) I was so proud of it I even printed it out and bound it in a more sophisticated fashion than I did in fourth grade: I punched holes in it and put in in a clear white three-ring binder. Then, I went through my piles of Seventeen and/or Teen Beat magazines and cut out photos of random models that I decided looked just enough like my characters and created a collage. I then invented different handwritings (one of my favorite things to do back then) for each character and wrote their names down next to each photo.

Book 4The result is a VERY teen-worthy pseudo-book published under the name “Ex-Press Books, Inc.” (yeah, I don’t know why). I was even dork enough to create fake Library of Congress information on a fake copyright page.  Fortunately, I still have it (otherwise I would have conveniently forgotten all this delicious detail.)

By the way, I know these photos suck. But it's LATE and I'm HUNGRY.

By the way, I know these photos suck. But it’s LATE and I’m HUNGRY.

Book 3

While the book is terrible and ridiculous and is zero representation of my writing today, I still keep it as a reminder to myself that I am capable of writing a novel from beginning to end. A novel! If you didn’t already know, a novel is at least 50,000 words. Mine was 16 chapters and 108 pages (single-spaced).

I don’t care how horrendous the writing is (the grammar is still impeccable, I’ll have you know!); the fact that I wrote it is the one thing that I remind myself of every day that I don’t progress on my own writing projects.

Here’s the thing. If you’ve been following my Rehab Revolution blog, you will know that in a few short weeks I’ll be at the annual UW-Madison Writers’ Institute conference for the second time. It is my goal to at least have a finished manuscript of my memoirs I started in 2008 to take to that conference, and to be able to practice a pitch to an agent. Practice a pitch, not actually pitch, because the idea of publishing, while exciting, is still scary as frac to me, and I need the time to mentally prepare for that.

The other thing you’ll know is that part of the reason why my memoirs are still in progress after starting it in 2008 is because I stopped working on it. Many reasons come to mind, such as:

  • fear of failure
  • fear of success
  • fear of rejection
  • fear of judgment
  • perfectionism
  • laziness
  • distraction
  • lack of time management
  • lack of good prioritizing

Oh, and, ironically enough, I also think that I have let it fall by the wayside because of a rather insidious self-created enemy. Fact is, I FEEL UNSETTLED WHEN I DON’T WRITE, but I’ve been writing all along. My hidden saboteur?

Blogs.

It’s not just this one — it’s Rehab Revolution, it’s Premier Pamela, and on a rare day, Mei Shung blog, or on a SUPER rare day, Wednesday Arts Section. In an indirect sense, it’s social media at large.

Who the hell has five blogs??

Are you kidding me? No wonder I don’t go to bed every day feeling like I haven’t put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard, more accurately) in decades. This is also probably why I keep forgetting to journal!

I have a confession to make, as well. And getting this out is so urgent that it is 5.20pm on a Tuesday and I am still in my bedroom in gym clothes (for my theoretical “morning cardio workout”) without having eaten a thing yet today typing this. I think I may have announced on Facebook (and told everyone I encountered in real life) that converting to daylight-saving time is disgustingly difficult for me. Like, take-a-week-to-adjust-to-it difficult. What’s made it worse is my sudden and inexplicable new addiction to Jenna Marbles YouTube videos.

Now, if you know me, Jenna Marbles is an unlikely source of entertainment for me. She talks like a sailor and is obnoxious as hell, but I’ve decided that I love her because despite those unsavory (to me) qualities, her intelligence and unique brand of cleverness really shines through. To be fair, I won’t watch all her 130+ videos, and I often end up clicking off to a new one when I get tired of one I’d chosen in bad taste, but on the whole, I give her a thumbs up for a multitude of reasons. This girl, only three years younger than I am, is more educated than I am (she has a masters from Boston University) and has exceeded a billion(!) views on YouTube.

She is entertaining, unexpected, and what I love is that she never apologizes for who she is. And although much of her audience is equally as lewd or even angry and disrespectful, she is a loving person who respects and embraces herself. And that is rare. And refreshing.

Anyway, I bring this up because for the past two nights I have done the cringeworthy: I’ve stayed up till 4am watching an endless stream of Jenna Marbles videos. Perhaps at that hour I’m so slap-happy that I think she’s even funnier than she actually is? Or perhaps she is some kind of sensational genius.

I subscribe to many channels. Generally, I follow some amazing business leaders and life coaches, like Marie Forleo or Katie Freiling. I’ve discovered that YouTube tends to also suggest videos to me based on the channels I’m subscribed to, so in my addictive fog of Jenna Marbles comedy, today I was also suggested this video by Kyle Cease: The Greatest and Worst Time Ever.

Basically, he talks about how addictions like crack or anything else equally as obviously destructive are far less subtle than our micro-addictions that contribute to distracting us from our true desires and accomplishing what we want to do and being great. Read: casual Facebook updates or status checks, which apparently we do on average of 70-80 times a day.

*Raises hand* I am guilty. So guilty.

So I had a bit of a revelation today while I was finally getting gym-dressed (of course, with a video playing). Jenna Marbles has hit a billion views on YouTube because she releases a new video every single Wednesday and probably has done for the three years or whatever she’s been doing videos. Sure, her content is clever and provocative, but the nugget here is CONSISTENCY.

The difference between the people who accomplish anything (even a crappy made-for-teens-by-a-teen novel that the author herself won’t bear to read 10+ years later) and people who sit around complaining that they have nothing to show for their life and desires is being consistent.

Being consistent is the ultimate practice of delayed gratification. “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” they say. “An inch is a cinch, but a mile takes a while,” says motivational speaker Scott Smith. “A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step,” said Confucius.

I’m sure there are infinite other quotes about the nature of adding to your projects the incremental progress that eventually leads to completion, and that inevitable spin you take to marvel at your own work, that sigh of accomplishment.

This is getting long-winded, and I’m sorry. But the point is, if I want to put love over fear and embrace my inner creativity that has gone untapped for so long, I need to stop whining and apply some consistence to what I want to do.

Can I finish my book by 11 April? Absolutely. But am I willing to dial down the Facebooking, tweeting, jewelry “businessing,” working out, going to bed at 4am, etc.?

Yes. And no. I cannot rightfully say that my book is my number-one priority in life. Especially right now, when I have my taxes to do OR ELSE as well as my health/fitness/rehab to think about. Making money would also be nice. (No one pays you to sit at a Starbucks to churn out a book — even J.K. Rowling had to wait till her books were sold to see any return on her time investment!)

My plan now is to severely “trim down the fat” of my days, as Anthony says virtually every week. Facebook time will be limited to two ten-minute breaks each day. One will take place in the morning and the other, not until I’ve gotten the writing accomplished for the day. I will have to seriously develop an action plan that includes everything I only want to do in small enough doses that I can focus most of my time on what I want and need to do.

And don’t get me wrong; my book is going to be far from perfect once I finish it. It’ll probably horrify me only slightly less than All That and a Cup of Milk, but will require a huge amount of rearranging, rewriting, and reworking of different sorts.

I already feel liberated. While I do love Facebook and YouTube and e-mails, I’m going to force myself to get back in touch with my creative self. This means that for my first meal, even though I’m starving, I’m going to properly cook something. :)

Buon appetito,

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