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I spent the summer throwing things away.

I gave away 4 bags full of clothing, jewelry and shoes.

I recycled two boxes full of flashcards I wrote in Japan to learn Kanji.

I said goodbye to hundreds of old magazines, electronic equipment, CDs, coaching notebooks, class binders…

… a drawer full of graded papers from university and grad school.

By the way, I once wrote a paper titled “Consumer Driven Health Care through the Lens of Punctuated Equilibrium.”

But now I have no idea what this means. (If you do, please explain in the comments section below.)

Every once in awhile a book comes along that changes everything.

I didn’t think a book with the phrase “tidying up” in the title would stand a chance.

But the act of “tidying up” has been a lot like standing naked in front of a full-length mirror… for hours.

If you stand there long enough, you see some things you didn’t notice before. Things you didn’t want to notice.

For instance, I’ve been holding on to my college papers for years because I wanted “credit” for writing academic papers that got good grades.

I’m not sure who the hell would be crazy enough to read these papers but, in my mind, letting them go was throwing away “proof” that I was once, a long time ago, “smart.”

I also struggled to get rid of the flash cards I wrote 20 years ago when I was learning to read Japanese. I have since forgotten almost all the characters. And I can barely speak the language any more.

I used to be very proud of my Japanese. So throwing that stuff away made me face the truth: That a long time ago I worked very hard to accomplish something that, well, I can’t do anymore.

My closet was also tricky. I’ve cleaned my closet many, many times over the years. But year after year, I leave the same pieces that I never end up wearing.

“I’ll wear them some day,” I told myself. That cute little Bohemian number I wore years ago to a friends wedding. I felt so pretty. Or that green blouse I wore to England with the ruffles shaped like a flower that shows off my shoulders.

My dressy stuff. I rarely dress up anymore. I don’t even like to dress up.

But… I want to be that person who likes to dress up. Which is why I was holding on to all those ruffles.

There were many things I’ve had since before my body was transformed by three pregnancies. Even my shoe size has changed! There will never be a day when I will go back to pre-baby proportions no matter how much weight I lose. But clearly a part of me has been thinking I *should*.

The act of tidying up reflected back at me many truths that nothing else has been able to show me:

I’ve been holding on to all that stuff because I haven’t been ok with the ME of right now.

The me who is 10 pounds heavier, with saggier boobs and bigger feet. The me who doesn’t remember how to read Kanji and only speaks so-so Spanish. The me who once got straight A’s writing about health care and women’s issues but now has no idea what “punctuated equilibrium” means.

Throwing those things away would mean:

  1. I’d have to be ok with who I am RIGHT NOW,
  2. I’d have to admit that I have everything I need in this moment and
  3. that I don’t have to do anything to deserve my own approval.

So there you have it. 3 Life Lessons from my messy office (and closet).

And here I am. Naked. Saggier. Older. Wiser. Lighter. Happier. Saying “goodbye and thank you” to the Amys of yesteryear (I love that I just used the word “yesteryear”).

Letting go of who I think I should be so that I can be who I really am.

You can “tidy up” too.

It’s worth it.

Click here to get yourself a copy of “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo.

Your Turn:

Got clutter? What are you afraid to let go? 

{ 2 comments }

In Defense of NOT Smiling

by Amy on August 13, 2015

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Real? Fake? You be the judge.

I was winding my way through a crowd of bodies lugging a huge suitcase towards a very long line. I had just waited half an hour to check in for my flight back home, only to be told I had to wait in another line to pay a travel fee. To make things worse, the airport in Costa Rica was HOT, like 90 degrees and 100% humidity HOT.

I wasn’t happy.

I must have had a frown on my face when a woman walking past made eye contact with me and said sweetly, “smile.”

In response, I obediently pulled together an awkward grimace. But as soon as I was out of her sight, I let my face do what it wanted to do. I wasn’t smiling, lets put it that way.

It was meant to be kind, I know…

But I got the same, “I’m doing something wrong,” feeling I get every time some well-meaning person publicly tells me to “smile.”

I must have frowned a lot as a kid.

Once in elementary school I was on the bus probably twirling my hair and looking out the window when the bus driver looked at me through her rear view window… “Smile!” she called out. She was looking right at me. I crouched down in my seat so she couldn’t see me.

I remember walking down the hall one day when a chipper school teacher yelled out, “Smile Amy, you look so sad!” “Oh. Sorry,” I looked around self-consciously to see if any of my friends were watching then re-arranged my face to suit his liking.

Heading to the lunch table once, I remember a classmate calling out, “Hey Amy Smile!” It startled me so badly I nearly dropped my tray.

I was actually a pretty sweet kid. I never glared, gave dirty looks or scowled at strangers on purpose. Nor do I as an adult. Not to strangers anyway :-)

But clearly I have a serious looking face. And when I’m annoyed, bored, irritated, or just thinking, my serious face shows.

By the time high school rolled around I really wanted to be “popular.”

As usual, mom had some sage advice:

“Smile,” she told me, “even when you didn’t feel like it. And you’ll make friends.”

Ah! Fake it till you make it. I can do that!

She was right, as usual…

I smiled my way through high school and, in the process, accumulated many of the trappings of “popular”… Girl of the Year, Home Coming Queen, Student Body Vice President.

And, of course, there’s even research to back up mom’s advice that says one should smile, even when one doesn’t feel like it. Physically grinning, the research says — even when you don’t want to — changes your brain chemistry, “tricking” you into feeling happy.

(I just forced a smile for a few seconds. Sort of looks like I have gas. And that makes me laugh. So there you have it. )

Shiny, happy people do have an easier time making friends, it’s true.

But life isn’t a popularity contest. Or, at least, I don’t think it should be.

One of the peeps in “Being You Uncensored” had said it this way…

“One thing I do is … smile at everyone I meet. I’ve got to be happy. I’ve got to be in a good mood. If I’m upset or in a bad mood, I can’t let people see that. So one thing I’m practicing this week is not smiling at people when I don’t feel like it. And it feels pretty good. But another thing I’ve realized by not trying to smile all the time is I’m pretty cranky. Underneath all that trying to put on a happy face, I realize I’m pretty pissed off about a few things.”

Here’s the thing…

You don’t have to go around scowling at everyone. Please don’t. That’s rude. But please, drop the perma-grin, and tune in. There’s a person underneath that shiny, happy exterior with real needs. [TWEET THAT]

She might need to concentrate, she might need to pee, she might need to stick up for herself… or maybe she just needs some time to work it all out in her head.

So…

I, Amy Pearson, give you, The Reader, permission NOT to smile if you don’t feel like it.

Don’t force yourself to do anything you don’t want to do… even smile.

(It isn’t a real smile anyway. It’s a facade of “likability.” Stop wasting your time with that. Your people can take the real you, smile or not.)

The next time some well meaning person reminds me to smile, I think I’m going to say something like…

“Oh thanks. You know, I really don’t feel like smiling right now. I’m super focused on this thing I’m doing. I do smile a lot when I feel like it though!”

Or maybe I won’t say anything at all.

And If I offend the smile police, so be it.

:-)

Your Turn:

Has anyone ever told you to smile? Or is it just me? How did it feel?

– –

If you liked this post, just wait til you hear my free online class called “The Fraud Factor: How to Go From ‘What if I’m not Good Enough?’ to Confident, Successful and ‘Damn I’m Good!’. Click the image below to sign up:

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{ 12 comments }

How to Spot a “Hate Screener” (Haters Masquerading as Nice)

July 27, 2015

A few years ago I hosted a telesummit (an online conference around a certain theme). This was a huge step into the discomfort zone for me. It required inviting a bunch of people I admired and interviewing them while thousands listened in. Enough said. As if that wasn’t painful enough, I actually LOST MY VOICE […]

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When You Don’t Get Invited: A Cautionary Tale

July 16, 2015

I’m walking up the steps to the ridiculously gorgeous home my friend has rented for the month. Estimated value 1.7 mil. She couldn’t rent it for a few days so she “just rented it for the month.” As one does… when you’re rich and fabulous. As I step into the spacious kitchen, I see a […]

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6 Ways to Manage Your Fears (When You Don’t Feel Ready)

July 1, 2015

Guest post by Sherold Barr “Rule of thumb: the more important the call or action is to our own 
soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.” ~ Steven Pressfield Just before the big event was about to start, I was backstage with my client, in awe of the rock-star caliber event […]

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5 Ways to Shift Your Vibe When Things Go Bad

June 17, 2015

I was in NYC last week with my mastermind group. There we are cruising the New York harbor. I’ve been taking a course on Law of Attraction. So, on the flight over to New York, when I learned I would be sitting in a middle seat during one of the legs, I decided to “manifest” […]

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Confession: I used to lie all the time

May 28, 2015

When I was a younger version of myself, I spent a lot of time on my hair. I’d stand there for hours, squinting at myself in the mirror. Worrying about every strand. I spent so much time in the bathroom that I secretly worried I’d get electrocuted by dropping my hair dryer in the sink… Such a […]

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The Great Lie

May 19, 2015

“Becky” is one of my favorite people. She’s smart, kind and a complete smart ass. She’s wicked talented. And she was my client for about six months. It’s been a couple years since I’ve worked with her. She’s in the middle of a product launch… finally getting her work out into the world. And I’m […]

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10 Tools, Books, & Practices that Changed My Life

May 6, 2015

(Farley the cat, Joy Joy and my Five Minute Journal) NOTE: I do use affiliate links (if I have them) when I recommend stuff I love. The Five Minute Journal After five days in a row of writing “be more patient with kids,” under the question “What could you have done better today?”, I’m starting […]

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A Few Thoughts on Staying in the Game

April 30, 2015

Go All In So how bad do you really want it? If you want it bad enough, you’ve got to commit. At some point you’re going to have to take a stand and show the Universe you mean it. This might mean you quit that side gig that zaps your energy. Or maybe you drop […]

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