A Bigger Game, Lions, and More.

We laughed, we cried, it was beautiful.

However, that would be an understatement to describe this past weekend’s experience at Lake George where over One hundred and fifty like-minded people,  gathered for the very first Bigger Game Expo.

Beautiful Lake George at the Silver Bay YMCA

Beautiful Lake George at the Silver Bay YMCA

Play a Bigger Game was conceived by thought leader Rick Tamlyn, and is a workshop experience for those who want to get their “life game” on.  This past weekend- he, and his ridonkulously talented team, showcased “ordinary” people who have a commitment to being extraordinary people.   They gave presentations, talks and discussions about their life’s work, career, dreams, creations, and what it took to get where they are at today, and the result was.

“Wow”.

The best part about it was the transparency that each speaker offered to us as they took us down the non-linear, and often times, messy, challenging, and obstacle laden path of making something amazing happen.

lakegeorgesun

I have to admit- I’ve done a lot of leadership, professional, and personal development in my life so you’d think i’d have a level of comfort with it.  I have a love/hate relationship with my propensity toward personal growth because it’s like gearing up for an inner shake-up.  When I sign myself up for something that calls me to be “bigger” in my own life, I simultaneously prepare myself for eminent danger.  Lets face it, –  I’m happy, I’m healthy, I’ve got projects I am working on, and kids to parent, and more than enough to keep myself busy and alternately content and happy … and yet, my spiritual yearning is always for MORE.

“More what?”  you might ask.

More everything- connection, joy,  inspiration, love, passion, community, income, and you name it- more more more.  I guess that makes me a more whore,  hmmm….

Each opportunity I seize to sign myself up, and participate in something as fabulous as this past weekend I also throw myself out of my familiar, and comfortable zone.  I learned so much about myself and others this weekeend, and I am so grateful to those that made it all happen –  it truly was game changing.

I can’t help but notice with a bit of humor-  how my approach to doing a workshop like this one is similar to how I might approach a lioness protecting a gaggle of hungry cubs…

It’s like my sub-conscious says:

“WHY would you EVER, do that”???!

Wary, uncommitted, closed off, all senses on alert, and ready to RUN like hell, I prepare myself for a growth experience- lol.  The only difference between a personal development/ leadership workshop, or approaching a lioness protecting a litter of cubs is, well, virtually nothing, so I guess I’ll continue to just to drive this silly analogy right off the cliff  by saying that I feel the same sense of panic and fear in the face of letting go of my ego, and stretching myself out of my comfort zone as If I actually had a real life lion circling me like antelope prey (profound insight, Monica, profound.)

How absurd is it that I would sign myself up for something I spend energy protecting myself from experiencing!?

Then there is the actual moment of letting go- one minute I’ve got it all handled, backing slowly from the fear, knowing I might narrowly escape notice- “oh look, nice little fluffy lion, a bird!” and about to launch my exit strategy, and the next second I am Zena or Jenga, or whatever Jungle goddness I become, and  I reach down into the depths of my own belly to find my very own roar to charge toward the threat lest it consume me… and somehow we merge to cancel each other out, and I realize I’ve managed to survive the whole ordeal without fatal injury.

While moments before I may have been fiercely protecting myself, the next is like a suicide surrender and I allow myself to be consumed by it.  It’s a strange and wonderful thing, but I’m starting to get that this paradox is where personal transformation lives.

So, what I got from The Bigger Game this past weekend is not “it” or “better”, or “the holy grail” or an arrival at some final “destination” … but simply more. More of the journey, more of the joy, more of the inspiration and insight that life has to offer with all of these miraculous people that walk this planet by my side.

I am more open, more touched, more inspired, and more capable than I was on Thursday.

I’m more grateful for all I have in my life, and all of those who allow my life to touch theirs.

Our big celebration "dress up" night at THE BIGGER GAME EXPO

Me, Andrea, Hea Sook, & Annabel at the big celebration “dress up” night at THE BIGGER GAME EXPO

Life. IS. Good.

Thanks to everyone who attended, presented, and who dare to play a bigger game- you all make this a BIG life game worth playing.

All my love, and proud to be a more whore,

Monica

Emotional Bill of Rights

Have you ever been with someone who consistently  criticized, judged, lied, made you feel tense, sad, tired, or was unpredictable or explosive?

These are all forms of abuse, and unfortunately the most insidious and damaging because the damage is usually accumulated over time- done slowly, systematically, and often behind closed doors where no one else can see. It does not have any prejudice – as both male and female are equal victims in it’s clutches.

It’s no less harmful than being physically abused, and yet so many people have no idea that there is a name for their experience.  It’s called emotional abuse.

If you have ever been in an abusive situation then you’ve known what it’s been like to have your inner compass broken.

If it’s broken, it just kind of sits there ….spinning- unable to lead you home to yourself, or in a direction that feels like a “true north”.

When first born,  we come into the world with this shiny new unbroken thing – usually it resides somewhere right around the solar plexus.  It’s really like a big satellite that informs your being of it’s emotional response to things.  It’s how you learn to adapt to your environment, fine tune your radar in situations of danger, learn to relax and unwind and ultimately where you learn to regulate your emotional response to different situations.

bill of rights

Except…

Lots of kids are born into situations that are stressful or dangerous from day one, so unfortunately- their compass gets broken pretty quickly and they are left to navigate their situation like some really screwy GPS system that leads you into the middle of NOWHERE.   This can easily happen to an adult as well, who may have had a perfectly healthy upbringing, but who has been the victim of an abusive friend or partner over time.

Understanding ones rights can be a helpful place to start in understanding how to identify harmful behavior when it’s happening- even if it comes wrapped in something that initially looks really shiny and attractive.

Your Emotional Bill of Rights: 

We have the right to clear communication

We have a right to ask for the support we need.
We should not have to suffer injustice to get what we need.
Our needs are valid and important.

We have the right to take risks and start new adventures.
We have the right to fail, and learn from our mistakes without being shamed or criticized.

We have the right to good will, enrichment, joy, strong, positive connections, warmth, honesty, understanding, respect, rapport and concern for our well being.

We have a right to our bodies, to embrace physical self care, nutrition, exercise, relaxation.

We have a right to express our opinions, ideas and emotions. It’s all right to have our own view of the world.

We have a right to plenty of rest and sleep. Whatever problems we may be experiencing can wait until morning.

We have the right to free ourselves of guilt and shame that doesn’t belong to us, and to give back to our abusers what belongs to them.

We have both a right and a reason to be here. We are children of the universe, no less than the earth and the trees. We have the right to take up space and the right to just be without having to apologize.

We have the right to be out in the world, to explore, to relax, to play, to experiment, to be taken care of and to stand up for ourselves.

We have the right to our curiosity and intuition.

It’s our right to push and test to find limits, to say no and be separate.

We have a right to think for ourselves.

We have a right to think about our feelings and have feelings about our thoughts.

We have the right to be angry when our rights are violated. We have a right to let people know when we feel angry. We can be angry at people we love.

It’s our right to test our power.

It’s our right to take time to explore who we are.

It’s our right to make mistakes.

We have a right to our own morals and methods, and a right to do things our own way, or the way of others, or the way of the group as we choose.

We have a right to choose to be independent, interdependent or dependent. We don’t have to give up our independence to be taken care of.

We have a right to back out of any social, sexual, or work related contact if we feel uncomfortable, even if we initiated it.

We have the right take care of ourselves under any circumstances.

It’s our right to make choices beyond mere survival.

We have a right to say no to anything that we are not ready for or that feels unsafe.

It’s our right to terminate conversations with people who make us feel put down and humiliated.

It’s our right to be self protective, even selfish and set limits as we choose.

We have the right to share our stories, to share our triumphs and vent our pain.

We have a right to divorce ourselves from all abusive relationships and surround ourselves with loving, trustworthy people.

We have the right to reclaim our lives as our own.

Only The Few Can Hear

dance

 

Sometimes I forget to be still. 

I forget what is important, or what it is to be bold, brave, open, and willing.

I forget that Inside I have a song to sing, a passion to dance with, and a soul journey to travel. 

There are rest stops along the way, and some are so cozy and warm all I really wish to do is curl up in the comfort of it and kick off my shoes- home at last! 

and forget about “all that”.

My weariness sets in when I think of the journey ahead, and the fear makes cold prickles down my neck. 

“aren’t we there yet?” I cry out from the back seat of this crowded, stale, hot, Brady Bunch ride-

only to shake myself awake,  dusting the crumbs of complacence from my chin as I haul my leg to climb over

vinyl seats, and broken head rests…

to claim my life again.

Back into the drivers seat… windows down.. music pulsing,  revving the engine of a complacent heart as I shift into gear….

for another adventure down a backwards country road,

or some nameless city street, 

 

into the middle of no-where….

with trust

that

more will be revealed

as I listen to music that plays 

in a distant land 

where only the few

can hear it.

 

 

Obsessive Spring and Beauty Everywhere

I think it’s spring,  right?

I mean… it’s cold out, but I’m feelin it, so I hope you are too.

Lately, I’m feeling beauty everywhere and feeling very ‘at home” in my body.

Lots of things to say- but mostly, that I’ve been remiss in blogging based on the fact that I’ve been very “absorbed” with some house projects! When I get my mind on something I have single-focusitis. I have been known to border “obsessed” when I get an idea. ( I know all my friends and loved ones are right this moment saying… nooooo! not you! – shut it people!)

Most of my time the past few weeks has been spent bringing new clients on board for my social media business: Revelation Media ( no web page yet) and getting their preliminary research and strategies together.

I’ve also been updating my house with new furnishings, and decor- which has been an amazing guilty pleasure!

I feel like so much of my adult life was spent inside the mentality of scarcity. Scarcity is a scary and anxiety producing place i’ve decided.  Always worrying about the “what ifs” and feeling pinched about spending $, and where the next paycheck will come from.  I love to shop, but I have to say- I’ve become extremely resourceful these last ten years and have collected my wardrobe and belongings via consignment stores, Marshalls, TJ’s and all that good stuff.   When the Goodbar and I moved into the Hobbit House we waited till now before we started to “invest” in pieces that we both really liked, and that also make sense for how we live.  It’s been about eighteen months now, and recently a decision to recover an innocent little window seat area set me on a path of resurrection around my love of decorating, and so… suffice it to say… I’ve been sweating all things decor while face-lifting home with newer furnishings while getting rid of pieces that have “gotten me by” – YAY!  Buh-bye!

I’ve splurged a bit, and had to talk myself though a few larger purchases with the help of some friends, but the rest i’ve gotten with the proceeds of sales from the old stuff, and I’ve paired old with new in more creative ways-  I can’t wait to show you!

This Sunday, Apartment Therapy is coming to shoot the house… I swear it’s coincidental- and a very pleasant surprise.
I’ll let you know how it goes and I will be sure to share the feature when it comes out.

I have lots to catch you up on, but till I can sit down again I just wanted to say HI! and let you know I’m still alive, and SO excited for this TRP season.  It’s going to be AMAZING.

If you’ve not yet checked out our latest album, I’d like to introduce you to a very special woman whose photographs barely begin to show the depth of her beauty.

Holly Parmenter

Holly Parmenter

Check it out here and be sure to “like” and share our page with other women ( or men!) you think might like to “join the revelation”.

XOXOOXOXOX

 

 

Gaze at the Truth.

whyte

Self Portrait

It doesn’t interest me if there is one God

or many gods.

I want to know if you belong or feel

abandoned.

If you know despair or can see it in others.

I want to know

if you are prepared to live in the world

with its harsh need

to change you. If you can look back

with firm eyes

saying this is where I stand. I want to know

if you know

how to melt into that fierce heat of living

falling toward

the center of your longing. I want to know

if you are willing

to live, day by day, with the consequence of love

and the bitter

unwanted passion of your sure defeat.

I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even

the gods speak of God.  – David Whyte

When I first read this poem, years ago… I read it again and again.  It was so beautiful to me.   It addressed the paradox of  life I could not put words to at the time.

I was discovering, that to fully live was to surrender to love over and over again even though the law of impermanence reigns, no matter what. 

That to love life and all of it’s glory, you must gaze at the truth of immortality and loss.

Paradox:

Life = death.

Some say that in order to really live you have to die a thousand tiny deaths.

The project… each time I witness the power of another’s “becoming”, as the team documents the death of her illusions of self through the lens is truly one of the most beautiful life-giving things I have ever witnessed.

TRP is not a photo shoot.  It is an exercise about gazing into the eyes of truth, and letting truth stare back at you. It’s about showing you how to:

“melt into that fierce heat of living falling toward the center of your longing.”

It’s about

“looking back with firm eyes” and knowing where you stand, and knowing the “consequence” of loving yourself and others.

What does that mean- consequence?  What a strange word he should use.

It’s perfect.

Yes… to love and fully live has it’s consequences- doesn’t it

Surely then you can no longer protect your vulnerable heart-  because to love is to lose, to belly laugh with joy is to weep with sadness, to live is to die.

We cannot escape any of it.

So you might as well LIVE, and know the truth.

Season Three Officially KICKED.

We’ve got a pretty major TRP season booked.  Today was a blast.  Thank you to everyone who has made this project what it is.  I am so so grateful for every single day I get to be here. XO

If you know anyone who would like to book, season three is officially open.  It’s already been amazing ;)

sofun

In Her Glory; The Magnificence of Karen Carey

You never know who you are going to meet, or how.

Karen and her beautiful family

Karen and her beautiful family

This poem was written by a friend of mine who is a photographer in Pennsylvania.  She became my friend through an introduction made by one of my favorite people and when we had our very first call, I learned that we were similar in many ways. Then she made me laugh, and well- that’s all it took.

She’s one of those rare souls who can actually “produce” what she says she wants to… in record time. This always leaves me feeling a little bit like a tool, and a slacker.  *Sigh, then I have to remember that I’m not in a competition and yada yada yada….

Any who – she is also doing a project for women,  and she’s calling it “In her Glory.”

I should mention however, that this is just one of the many projects she has her hands on. Check her out in her studio makeover reality program ( huh? – yeah exactly) which I’m sure she will take prime time-  here.

You can also sign up for her blog posts at YO BIG MAMA’s guide to living a BIG ASS LIFE. 

In her spare time (ha!)  she is a photographer, and a consultant to other photographers,  offering a thriving workshop series called, THRIVE. 

About this time last year, I was honored to help her,  and we some spent time by phone (we’ve never personally met) mapping out a few things she wanted to learn, specifically:

  • How to grow her social media audience around her already wildly successful brand.
  • How to create a content engine (blog) to introduce her writing voice inside of an idea she’d been percolating on a while.
  • Understand why growing a social media audience is critical to business marketing.

Talking with her is a wild ride, because she’s a whirling dervish of energy and ideas, and she’s raw, and edgy and full of life, and deep. I helped her where ever i could, but she’s one of those rare souls who need just a little push in the right direction and then BAM! She’s off and running.

She’s gutsy, determined, and talented, and I know she will travel to amazing places.

I wanted to share this with you because I think it’s so beautiful, and if you get a chance, look her up on facebook and follow her progress- I love that I’ll be able to say; I knew her when…..

Glory

Seek out praise for your worth.
Tell the world about your gift.
Don’t be afraid that your gift will not be welcomed.
It will be embraced!
It will be appreciated!
It will be seen! For all of it’s splendor.
It is His splendor and the world seeks to see Him.
The world basks in His glory!
Honor Him by honoring yourself!

He gave me this gift and asked me to share it.
I have for so long acted as if it was not glorious.
I have for so long pretended it was not valuable.
I have for so long not acknowledged it’s beauty…
All the while, unintentionally putting out the light
That He intended to shine.

In the darkness I have struggled to find the way and beauty of my life.
Seeking out the light of others, looking to find a light of my own.

All the while the light flickered in my accomplishments.
Remaining lit even in my attempts to put it out.

Today I have rekindled the flame.
I have torched my soul and it glows brightly for all the world to see.
My gifts are glowing. I want to light up the world with them.
I want to honor my God by emerging as the brightest star.

I will shine in His name.
I will shine for others to see.
I will shine in order to light my own path.
I will come out of the darkness and into the spotlight.

Where I have belonged all along.     ~ Karen Carey

The Hobbit House- Come inside!

The Hobbit House- Come inside!

door

This past week I started to work with a blogging coach.

I want to get to the next level with my writing, and my blog. Although I understand so much about social media- blogging is much more complicated after a certain point, and I really want to understand how to expose my writing, and the project, to a wider audience of like-minded people (and also remind them that to subscribe to get my posts in your email box you just have to but your email in the do-hickey thing right on the side here—————————>    See it?  It’s right here —————————>

 

Ironically….

She gave me the first tip which was……

to be more revealing.

ha!

….. i mean, I guess this is, The Revelation Project.

She wants me to “invite” readers into my life… in a more personal way, and expose… the gritty details of my life by using images to tell the story of my own “Revelation” project… not just about revealing the thoughts I think- but the way I live, eat, play, travel… etc.

She wanted me to catch the “un-guarded” moments of my life.

I knew as she was saying it,  that I am GUILTY as charged.  I’m not as “revealing” about the messes in my life, or the un-guarded moments… those scare me.  I don’t want to be judged.

She said her experience of my blog is that it might be a bit sterile…..

*Sigh*

I TOTALLY know what she means.

After all these years, I’m still trying to keep it as “pretty” and as packaged as possible – even when it’s not.

So today, I though I’d take you on a little photo journey inside my house… but first I have to first confess I cleaned. I’m usually pretty messy (although I don’t feel that I am really to blame).

I took the clean pics yesterday, and then this morning, I got more re, re, re, …. re-VEALING about how it usually looks, and why it’s usually kind of messy.

Soooo…

I call it the Hobbit House because this is what one see’s when you first drive up.

Please excuse the wipers....

Please excuse the wipers….

We moved to Hobbiton, (Rhode Island ) which is a town in the Shire ( Kingston);  about a year and a half ago.  The house is honestly the *perfect* size, and I truly love everything about it.

Photo2

Except maybe this room… where there is a long wall of windows – kind of an asian modern style. Firewood stack to the right, and outdoor table that’s in here for the winter.

This room (above) is my project this year because it’s the first room you walk into and it’s usually just the catch all for everyone’s *crap (except the Goodbar, he does not have crap . His insta-family, however, does ( he really is, actually crap-less).

When you walk in and turn to the right you go into the bungalow that was built first, and on the left hand side is a window seat and on the right is our couch/sitting room.

When you walk in and turn to the right you go into the bungalow that was built first, and on the left hand side is a window seat and on the right is our couch/sitting room.

This window seat was just *complete* this past week.  I was able to pick up the pillows I had made and I love the way it looks;  however….

This is how that same beautiful window seat really looks usually.  Um, that's laundry.

This is how that same beautiful window seat really looks usually. Um, that’s laundry.

Yes, that’s underwear…  revealing enough?

Un- guarded enough Jenni?

On the other side of this room is the living room… and see that painting right there with the woman looking over her shoulder?  That one is called:

“Does my Butt look fat in these jeans?”

and you’d better answer….

“NO dear.. ”

I’m kidding – that’s not really the name.. I just made it up, right now.. for you.

otherside

This is how it really looks. Laundry again... how'd that get there? hmmm..

This is how  the room really usually looks. Laundry again… how’d that get there? hmmm..

My kitchen is small, but I love it.

My kitchen is small, but I love it.

Also in this bungalow is my kitchen, laundry, a bathroom, and our office. I thought It best to just tell you, instead of show you, how I leave the cabinet doors open all the time (that’s what people with ADHD do – and they also leave faucets running, don’t open mail, and walk into other rooms only to forget why they went there at all.)

And below- is our kitchen table.. where I usually sit and work all day (I am a brand consultant, marketing strategist in real life …. I just pretend to be a pro- blogger for your entertainment).

See how clean my desk is???!!! That's because I don't use it!

Even THOUGH.. Goodbar got me this awesome desk (below) which lives in our office where I should really be sitting and working all day.  If I did that though, there would not be a seat for….

This Clown.

This Clown.

Notice how CLEAN it is.....

Notice how CLEAN it is…..

I share this office with the Goodbar.  Some people wonder why I call him that….. It’s a mystery…..

Can you see anything REVEALING here?

Can you see anything REVEALING here?

Until you look closer….

Evidence is everywhere.

Evidence is everywhere.

In fact, while we are on the subject…

The Goodbar has a special "food" cabinet that's high up over the kids heads... but once I found it, I started using a step ladder ( people with ADHD are SMART)

The Goodbar has a special “food” cabinet that’s high up over the kids heads… but once I found it, I started using a step ladder (people with ADHD are Wicked. SMART.)

I’m tired now, because revealing all the sordid little details of my life has been kind of emotional for me.  I think I may have to do it in parts… so before I end this half of my special program I first want to introduce you to the reason I usually can’t keep the house clean….. ever. or get laundry done, or shut the cabinet doors… ( scroll down) 

YEP.  Jack.

YEP.
Jack.

He may look innocent, but lets look more closely…

jack7Do you get my meaning?

It’s written all over his face.

He wants to be good....

He wants to be good….

But he can’t.jack3He leaves his *crap*

bunny

all over

ballThe house.

Who? Me?

Who?
Me?

Yes, YOU.

Yes, YOU.

The Calling Of Delight

As I was grudging around cleaning this afternoon I decided to listen to a podcast, and my grudging turned into a profound joy as I listened to my favorite-  On Being.

I love Krista Tippet… she is just amazing in the way she creates conversations that matter.  I was completely riveted on this conversation she had with Fr. Greg Boyle who started Homeboy Industries which is in LA.  He works with gang members there… and the tenderness and love with which he speaks about his work is just… astounding.

You will be so inspired.  

On the Calling Of Delight   Just Beautiful.

gang

 “You want to move away from whatever is tiny-spirited and judgmental, as I mentioned. But you want to be as spacious as you can be that you can have room for stuff and love is all there is and love is all you are, you know. And you want people to recognize the truth of who they are, that they’re exactly what God had in mind when God made them.

Alice Miller, who’s the late great child psychologist, talked about we’re all called to be enlightened witnesses. You know, people who through your kindness and tenderness and focused attempt of love return people to themselves and, in the process, you’re returned to yourself…”- Fr. Greg Boyle.