It has only recently dawned on me that, in comparison to most people, I am radically honest. I don’t just mean in terms of the words I speak. True, I totally suck at white lies, half-truths, and packaged promises.... so now I don’t bother. But nor do I like being boxed in by someone else’s convention or way of life... I pace like a lion if I’m out of integrity with what works for me. I am willing to change everything if my life doesn’t sit right. That, I am finding, is a less common form of honesty. Truly authentic living.
I dare to live my life for me, which seems totally selfish to some people. I agree that, sometimes, humility can be found through sacrifice. But it can also be actively created by getting out of the damned way and simply living for your expression and your cause. In fact, I think it is far more arrogant to be agreeable. To assume that the world needs us to tip-toe around, so as not to rustle any feathers is a very self-centered sentiment. Rock your truth. People will judge you for playing too small. People will judge you for playing too big. Which one sounds like more fun?
That’s what I thought. ;)
True, it’s a bit scary sometimes. Not everybody likes it when I say what’s on my mind. But there are some of you out there that seem to love it... so I’m taking on more exposure. If you want to free yourself from the B.S. and dare yourself to live a life on your totally-kickass terms... you might be inspired by some of my recent realizations:
Doing One Thing Makes Me Nauseas
There’s a reality that’s dying-off in our culture... a myth fed by outdated stereotypes and student loan debt. It says: “pick one thing and stick with it.” Ugh. It kinda makes me wanna hurl. I hate to upchuck all over the American Dream, but I’ll never be able to do that shit. I’m simply not wired for it. I’d much rather juggle three balls at once... while skipping up a mountain... with a koala bear on my back... singing You Are My Sunshine at the top of our lungs. (yes, the koala beer can sing.... and you get the picture ;).
I change careers and creative pursuits almost as often as I change addresses.
I’m a chameleon with a cause. And I’m okay with that.
The “one thing” I love doing is me. And I like re-doing it over and over and over again...
I was born to move.
Some are. (mad love to all the ADHD peeps out there... may your restless leg find a drum pedal and/or a wise ally who sees the inherent magic in your medicine).
Why I Never Wear Makeup When I Write
Hey. I’m a huge fan of some shiny Mac lip gloss and sexy black eyeliner (mrowr!). But you won’t catch me wearin’ it when I hit the gym. Why? Because it’s not practical given my purpose. In the same way, I don’t want to get pretty when I write to you. I’m not interested in perfectly polished blog posts that ooze with flashy promises, because that’s not what my work is about. I vow to uncensor my fiery fingertips, revealing my blemishes and scars. Yes, I am an entrepreneur... so I do have to present a case for my products. But really, the #1 thing I am interested in selling you is YOU. Not just you, but the you that is unveiled of all pretense. It is the possibility of your liberation that gives me the courage to run around these pages (and others) without mascara.
Heck, one of these days maybe I will reveal my metaphorical cellulite... and under florescent lights! yikes!
Yep, I’ve got it too! (P.S. I said “metaphorical” so all photo requests will be denied. ;)
Sometimes Really Good Advice Sucks
My recent business training with Marie Forleo (which has been AHmazing) has really got my wheels turning. I have had more entrepreneurial ah-hahs in the past three months than I can count. Yet no matter who you elect as your guide or guru, I can promise you this... they can’t give you the perfect map for you. Ever. They can only offer suggestions based on what works for them. You’ve got to take what fits and leave the rest. (Side note: never take advice without making sure your source is walking the talk. Props here, Marie is da’ bomb.)
One example of a really simple piece of advice that had me tied up in knots for weeks: “create an editorial calendar and stick to it.” Um... please shoot me now. That’s like telling me to take my favorite dark chocolate and dip in it dirt.
Don’t get me wrong. I get it. I understand the need for discipline; I get that you have to show up to write. But it makes me wanna cry, regimenting my greatest joy. I know it works for some people, but it’s not for me. I don’t create juice from that place. Yes, I am a professional. I could crank a little something out every week... but I don’t want to send you a bunch of fluff. My email box is overflowing with fluff and it makes me dizzy. I want to feel completely ablaze with a message when I write to you.
For over a decade I have been a dancer. And I have never fit convention. I don’t dance at home alone... and studio-time is not something that I do. I choreograph only in my head, and I dance only with others, when I love the song. And ya know what... it has worked for me. That’s how I art.
And I muse only when I feel moved. So I’m crossing that editorial calendar off of my list right now. Boo-yah!
What are you forcing yourself to do that you can cross off your list?
Tell me about it in the comments below...
feature article :: Subject: To Change
Candice Schutter :: News That Moves You :: April 2012
When things fall apart, it may feel as if it is you that is broken. When you finally let go, the life you’ve outgrown is allowed to drop and shatter at your feet. You are all that’s left standing, staring down at the debris. It’s easy to confuse the broken bits you once identified with... with the you that feels naked and vulnerable. Yet, remaining whole is a matter of perspective. Change is a bitter-sweet inevitability involving sharp edges. When we allow it, we are stripped naked... then chiseled and reshaped by nature's hand into something more honest and real. I have spent nearly three years in an unknown and barren landscape. Questioning everything, wading through the shrapnel of my former self in hope of finding some solid ground on which to build anew. I have felt everything from freedom to despair, mostly inhabiting the space in between. Some of you have witnessed me for years and it is safe to say, I am not the same woman who wrote to you then, or even a year ago. I am brand new; and my fresh skin is still wonderfully pink and tender to the touch.
I have asked the question... “So who in the hell am I now?” so many times my eyes have crossed. Of course, at my very core, I am me still. But when you stop drinking the kool-aid and finally release the bars around your shadow self... the result is a blend of stark sobriety and wild exhilaration bound to shake life up a bit! And boy, does it ever. The most wonderful by-product of falling... falling... falling... and never hitting the ground is simple. Freedom. Lack of anchors leads to bolder questions and bigger truths.
Yet, I struggled with how to come out to you. I am a coach, an entrepreneur. How do you build a business without a big fat take-it-from-the-guru promise?! I’m not entirely sure... but I don’t aspire to be a guru. And I have little interest in a marketing hook to cast as bait. That approach feels fabricated to me; and, frankly, I think you deserve better than that. My business plan is to simply build credibility by telling you the truth... all of it. That being said, I have to be forthright and say that I will no longer be your personal growth correspondent. I won’t write to you about new-age (or old-age) formulas for getting what you want. I won’t allege to have answers to the questions that plague humankind. In fact, my primary message will be plain and simple: all things are subject to change.
Principles and perceptions will come and go. Roles will be assigned and outgrown. Skills will be necessary and will eventually become obsolete. Capitalize on what is constant about you... and be willing to LET GO of the rest... because you will be asked to let it go at some point. Without question, you will have to let it all go...
One constant that I know I am good at - expressing change. I gain courage and strength through transition and self-expression. And I know how to help you to do the same. Is that enough? I am finally learning what I have been telling you all along... Yes. Yes, you and what you naturally bring is enough.
My Constants (my most innate impulses)?
Change. I change often. Incessantly, in fact.
Expression is my way and is therefore my gift.
Movement is my metaphor. For everything.
My natural impulse and temperament used to be what fought against. Stick it out; it’ll be impressive. Hold it in, you’re too expressive. Don’t say that, it’s too aggressive. These inner critics held me hostage for years. Now I am turning my back and throwing up my metaphorical middle finger to them. So long, suckers! (Note: I am not blowing them goodbye kisses on the wings of angels ;)... I told you, no more sugar-coating it... this is me... take it or leave it. Goodbye false prophets of principle... I will erect my own altars, thank you very much.
Why so demonstrative and brash? Because, though you may not know it, that’s how I really am most of the time. And I finally get that when we deny what is constant about us, we are denying ourselves happiness.
Nearly every instance of discomfort, dis-ease, and disarray in my life has been a function of holding back my natural aptitude for change, movement and self-expression. And as I work with client after client, I see that I am not alone in holding myself hostage. Stifled and/or fabricated self-expression is a chronic angst in our culture. Fear of change leads to falsified, muted, or stifled expression. And this chronic fragmentation of self leads to diluted progression (or movement forward). And, as nature proves in endless iterations... what doesn’t move gets tight, painful or stagnant... and it withers and fades with time.
Muted expression leads to muted outcomes. Tolerance of mediocrity is not your birthright. You don’t have to suck it up any more. You can finally exhale FULLY when you experience an honest release of who you really are. It doesn’t mean that you act/speak without regard to others and consequence... it means that you are honest about who you are and what you bring. Especially when it changes. It is the only way you will ever remain free.
You and I are aligned in our expression if you are open to embracing CHANGE as a welcome ally for growth... if you would like to experience true and honest EXPRESSION as an unfiltered affair... and if you look around you and can grow to accept nature’s promise: that MOVEMENT is as essential to our hearts and minds as it is to our bodies.
Do you want to liberate your vehicle and your voice?
I can help. Let’s get moving....
Radically Raw & Real
Candice Schutter - theMessenger, April 2011
It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.
It has been nearly a year since I published an issue of theMessenger. Last spring, I decided to let go of the idea that it was something required of me, and I waited for an impulse to reach out. It is no exaggeration to say that I feel like a different person, writing to you now. The past year shifted me in irrevocable ways, and finding the words to articulate these shifts, still occurring within, will take time. The truth is, I haven't known exactly what to share in recent months. In the past, I would simply wait for experiences to ripen into insight, then find a way to place it in a larger context that others might be able to relate to. But the past year has offered me more questions than answers.
As a life coach in today’s culture, I often felt an implied pressure to offer a formula that promises transformation. I would peruse the shelves of self-help sections and marvel at the titles... each one making a claim towards a different brand of salvation (happiness, abundance, loving connection). I did my best to fit the mold of the perfect coach; even offering workshops featuring principles deemed as 'universal.' Yet, over time, I felt a nagging frustration grow within. While I did my best to encourage self-reliance, I began hearing a new brand of self-deprecating statements from clients who felt shame and frustration at their seeming lack of 'success' with the so-called laws of growth and transformation. I realize now that I was feeling a lack of integrity - pretending to have answers in a world that is a mystery to us. Who was I kidding? While I know that much of what I was sharing was of value... the concrete terms I began to speak in felt foreign to my subjective senses.
Eventually, the sensation of being boxed in by principle became unbearable. I wondered: What if I dared to offend the imaginary new age gods we have erected? What if I abandoned self-righteousness for the sake of freedom? What if I stripped off the bullshit facade and said whatever was on my mind without filter or fear of some invisible consequence? What if was just me, plain and simple... trading positively perky for radically raw and real? What if there was no fear of getting it wrong? What if I actually allowed myself to do everything I claimed I didn't want to do anymore... things like watching whatever I wanted on TV... exploring my sexuality more openly... drinking alcohol or even smoking a cigarette simply for the pleasureful buzz?! In short, what if stopped the great balancing act and took a great big nose dive from the pedestal of pretension and personal growth. While I don’t encourage a mindlessly reckless existence, I can tell you that a courageous season of debauchery can be extraordinarily therapeutic for the perpetually pious.
Just to be clear, piety is an adherence to virtue in order to win favor - be it the favor of the gods (conventional religion), the positive consequence of spiritual laws believed to govern existence (new agism), or a more general tendency towards conformity in order to avoid the judgment of the masses. It all counts as measuring oneself in reference to something or someone who has set a standard that you feel you must adhere to.
Surrendering to debauchery was easier than I expected. Soon, words and practices that once held meaning for me became empty vessels of inconvenient banter. I found myself attracted to the polar opposite of my status quo, gravitating towards people and experiences that existed without filters I didn’t even know I had. I began living my life without the dictates of someone else's formula and became immune to what had suddenly become spiritual mumbo jumbo to me. I began to marvel at how arrogant we humans can become, thinking we understand so much that is beyond our comprehension. What happened to vulnerability, the honesty of not having the answers? Not to mention, so much emphasis on the intangible seem to leave so many people disengaged from the real guts of life. How many of the delicious nuances of life do we miss while we pretended to be perfecting ourselves?
The death of someone I love deeply was the final blow to an already crumbling foundation. All it takes is a wake-up call to change everything we thought we once knew. We have many over the course of our lives. When we listen, we can open our eyes wider than ever before. When we don't, we cling eagerly to what we think will save us from swallowing the bitter-sweet medicine of change. I see now that I spent a decade immersing myself in dogma. At the time, it was exactly what was needed. It was a life vest that kept my head above water when the concept of the uncontrollable was too great an ocean to swim. In my effort to find meaning, I clung to ideas... married myself to practices... and even idolized others in an effort to avoid the powerlessness I felt within. None of this do I look back on with regret. However, I now see that the ideologies I leaned into for comfort eventually boxed me in. The rules that I let dictate my everyday kept me disconnected from the freedom I so longed for. And the people that I sought to be like were mostly mirages... each based on projections of latent parts of me that longed to take flight.
The funny thing is, I didn't even realize that I was holding myself hostage. That's the thing about the truth... it’s a mirror you have to turn and look into. It's for that reason I know that humility is essential to growth. It takes courage to question. It takes strength to say not, "I was wrong," but instead say "what was once right for me is no longer." Sound like the same thing? But it isn't. The first admission implies regret... a sentiment that misses the point altogether.
So now I write to you without answers, without guarantees, and without boundaries. I write because it is what I do... it is like breathing to me, and holding in air never feels good.
I am no longer waiting to exhale.