In middle school I desperately wanted to be popular

In middle school I desperately wanted to be popular.
 
Looking back, I’m pretty sure I was well liked by most people (since by then I was pretty adept at the art of people pleasing, ha) and I definitely had a little core group of awesome friends.
 
But, I was by no means one of the “popular kids”. I remember standing by my locker, I think it must’ve been in 8th grade, being happy enough with my middle school existence, but often staring longingly at the lockers across the green, where the popular kids were. I wanted to be part of their world.
two people's feet and one backpack
 
I grew more bold toward the end of 8th grade. By the time I was ready to start planning my 13th birthday, I decided to take a risk.
 
I would throw myself a big party. And I would invite THEM. Gulp 😱
 
What if no one came and everyone laughed at me? What if they all came, and then all laughed at me? TO MY FACE!
 
I was terrified. But I did it anyway. My mom helped me rent a room at a hotel in Redondo Beach. We hired a DJ. I sent out invitations. Then I sat by the phone, in agony, praying that someone would RSVP. At first, crickets. I was convinced no one would come.
 
Then eventually, the RSVPs started to roll in. Lots of them actually. Even some of the cool kids said yes. I was excited but skeptical. One girl called and casually asked who else was coming.
 
I froze. My heart sank. All my fears about the popular kids were coming true. She’ll only come if the other ones come. See?! They don’t care about the little people like me. I mumbled that I wasn’t sure yet, but offered to read some names from the invite list. She must have heard some names she liked, because she said “ok great, I’ll come!”
 
The day came and I stood in the empty hotel room, a mix of confusing emotions swirling around in me. Proud of myself for taking the risk. Excited at the prospect of a fun party. And almost nauseous by how outside my comfort zone I had been for weeks.
 
I can still see my outfit clearly. White denim shorts with a belt. White T-shirt. A patterned vest. (Remember the vests?! Omg, the 90’s.) I had a perm (because, obvi) and a side part and had blow dried my bangs. I’m sure I was wearing some jewelry from Claire’s Boutique. Probably a peace sign choker. 
 
And then they came. They all came. And it turned out to be a really fun party. We danced. We opened presents. We ate cake. It was innocent and fun and for a few hours I felt accepted and free.
 
That day taught me a lot of things. It taught me that taking risks is important. That my assumptions about people are not always true.
It taught me that while, sure, a few of the popular kids were popular for the wrong reasons, most of them were just normal kids, who were probably popular because they were extroverted, friendly, and brave enough to connect with people.
 
It also confirmed to me that I wanted to break out of my shell, stop playing it so safe, and connect with lots of different people.
When I got to high school I took very intentional steps to do so. I took a public speaking class, two years of drama, and challenged myself to engage and connect more in the social circles I found myself in. And it worked. I loved high school, had great friends in several different groups and finally let go of the desperate need to be like by any particular social group.
 
Now, at 37 years old, as I spend more time outside my comfort zone and find myself addressing a bigger audience, I find some of those old familiar fears coming back to whisper in my ear. Right now they’re extra loud because I’m forcing myself to be vulnerable and put my latest offering out in the world.
 
Fortunately, I have the tools and wisdom now to see them for what they are. When they show up, I greet them – my inner critics, my ego, and the fears that I’ve come to know so well. I thank them for so reliably doing the job they’re meant to do — keeping me safe.
 
I also hear the voice of the little girl inside me. 8th grade me. Wondering if anyone will show up to the party. What if no one comes? And everyone laughs? It’s amazing how strong those past beliefs and fears can still feel.
 
And then I also hear the obvious strength in her tiny voice, the power that’s always been there, urging me to take the risks and do the things.
 
So, I tell the fears to kindly fuck off. Because, I’ve got this. 
I’ve got my big girl pants on now and I know that it doesn’t actually matter what anyone else thinks. I can speak my truth, take inspired action, and create things. I’m always going to be okay because I am enough and I am worthy and everything else is just a fun experiment in this amazing journey of life that I’m on.
two wooden hearts, one with the word "love" on it

Thank you 8th grade me. Thank you for your innocence, your insecurities, your imperfections. Thank you for being an awesomely awkward and angsty teen. And thank you for having the wisdom, from an early age, to also be willing to grow and learn, to question things. Thank you for paving the way for this weird ass path I’ve been on. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I forgive you. And I love you.

6 Simple Ways to Change Your Life

The deeper I dive into personal development, the more I’m struck by the fact that some of the most profound and life altering transformations come from the simplest of shifts. One slight change in perspective, or way of doing things, can fundamentally alter your life.

In service of that truth, here are six super simple things you can to do in your daily life that could completely change how you experience your life and how people experience you.

1. Answer the question “how are you?” honestly
Ditch the default answers like “fine” or “busy”. Instead, pause for a moment, check in with yourself, and then speak your truth. No need to tell a whole story. Just tell them how you really feel in that moment. They may shrug it off and be on their way. Or, you may be pleasantly surprised to find you’ve created an opening for a real, genuine connection.

Close up of young woman's face

2. Receive compliments gracefully
If you get awkward when someone compliments you, this one’s for you. Instead of denying the compliment (which robs the complimenter of the pleasure of acknowledging you), just thank them sincerely. Don’t automatically return the compliment (which can belittle theirs) or deflect it by changing the subject either. Just take a deep breathe and receive. It can be very vulnerable for people to give genuine praise, so when they do, honor them by savoring the moment, letting it land, and appreciating the feedback.

3. Make good eye contact
It’s amazing how much connection you can create with another human being (or animal, for that matter) simply by looking them in the eye. Don’t stare in a creepy way, obviously, just pause and look for the feeling of their energy coming into contact with yours. It’s such a beautiful and simple thing that I’m afraid many of us are too busy and distracted to take advantage of. Look, connect, and smile. You might make someone’s day. Or your own.

Cute dog staring into camera

4. Pause and breathe more often
Simply pausing long enough to take a long conscious inhale has SO many benefits, not just for you, but the people around you too. Imagine what kind of world we’d be living in if more people slowed down, breathed deeply, and felt more grounded? Set a timer to ding every hour if you need to, or train yourself to associate mindful breathing with something you do a bunch anyway (like drinking water or pulling out your phone).

5. Do things differently
We are such creatures of habit, and it’s healthy for our brains to switch things up. Here are a some examples to get you started: Brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand. Take a different route to work. Read a real book instead of your Kindle. Talk less, and listen more. Wear something unconventional (for you) to work. Get creative. Question how you do everything. Each moment is an opportunity to challenge your habits and grow yourself.

View of bridge from car driving on it

6. Stand tall
Our physiology has a huge impact on how we feel. Practice being more aware of your posture when you sit, walk, and especially when you interact with other people. Not only will you come across as more confident, but you’ll feel more confident, and be in a better place to own who you are, speak your mind, and be true to what’s important to you. Plus, it looks much sexier than poor posture 😉

These are all incredibly simple and straight forward ideas. But, any one of them could absolutely change your life, how you feel, and how you impact the world around you, if you really committed to it. I say pick one and give it a go.

The Possquivel Wedding Report

When my husband and I started planning our wedding, we decided we wanted to do things a little differently.

Everything about it was intended to be a reflection of who we are. We’re big on authenticity and adventure in our daily lives, and saw no reason for our wedding to be any different.

bride and dog after the wedding ceremony

This is the story of how we pulled it off.

First and foremost, we refused to subscribe to the silly notion that wedding planning has to be stressful, and decided to make it fun and laid back instead. It totally worked, AND the end result was even better than we had anticipated!

The most crucial agreement we made, by far, was to be intentional. We wanted the whole experience to be simple, meaningful, and fun.

Here is how we approached the planning.

Six months before the wedding, we started having weekly check-ins. Admittedly, many of these check-ins happened in the hot tub while drinking wine, which definitely set the tone for not taking ourselves too seriously.

Early on, we let go of things being perfect and embraced the idea of them being perfectly imperfect instead. We placed a higher value on our communication and connection than on getting all the details right.

Throughout the planning process, we stuck to our guns and didn’t do anything we didn’t want to do, were willing to break the rules, and made sure to stay true to ourselves and our relationship, regardless of what anyone else had to say.

I decided I would have the most fun if I showed up as a badass bride, which meant staying grounded and calm, being playing and unapologetically me, and seeing it as a creative and fun challenge.

Since community is important to us, we created a Facebook group for our guests, so that our family and friends could meet each other, we could introduce our vendors, and everyone could share their excitement for the upcoming event.

screenshot from wedding facebook group

Here are a few of the highlights from the weekend that stand out to me, either because they felt unique and a bit unconventional, and others were simply SO much fun.

At my bachelorette party, instead of wine tasting, a spa day, or hitting the bars, my sister rented us a house and we had a sleepover, which included a Fierce Goddess ceremony, facilitated by an incredible spiritual teacher. Also, one of my girls brought me a mermaid tail. A MERMAID TAIL! (In case you didn’t know, I am obsessed with mermaids.)

silhouette of bride in mermaid tail

Despite weeks of shitty forecasts practically guaranteeing rain, we insisted on hosting not one, but two outdoor events, much to both our mothers’ chagrin. Friday’s party was in a park by the water, and the ceremony on Saturday was in the backyard of my in-law’s house. Both days, the rain cleared just in time. Thank you, rain gods!

The welcome party on Friday was in lieu of a rehearsal dinner. We had a wood fire pizza oven food truck, beer, and lawn games. And customized beer koozies.

beer koozies at welcome party day before wedding

Here’s an aerial view of the last group of stragglers at the welcome party taken by our friend Conor’s drone (his first day playing with it – not bad!)

We each had five people in our wedding party. But one of my bridesmaids was actually my fabulous, gay bridesman, Graham! He came to the bachelorette sleepover too.

My mom walked me down the aisle. Since my father wasn’t there, but my two stepdads were, I wanted to both honor my father by not putting another man in his place, and also acknowledge my mom for her primary role in my upbringing. It felt so right.

We wrote our own vows for the ceremony, which was led by one of my favorite mentors, who talked about Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine energy, called in the spirit of those who couldn’t be there (including my dad in Sweden), and acknowledged our ancestors.

The only reading during the otherwise short and sweet ritual, was the first three verses of “Nothing Else Matters”. I have to assume most of our guests thought it was just a nice poem until the end when my bridesmaid Nikki, with her sweet British accent, revealed that it was a song by the (heavy metal) band Metallica.

When the DJ announced our arrival at Guaymas, the Mexican restaurant where we held our reception, we walked in to the theme song to Game of Thrones. Our DJ’s response when we asked if he could play it was “anything for the realm.”

The seating arrangements chart listed our guests’ names under tables that were named after countries we plan to visit. The tables themselves? They had only flags.

Given our upcoming travel adventure, we urged guests to please not bring any physical gifts and created a page on Zola, so that they could contribute to our travel adventure if they wished, instead.

Our first dance (which I don’t think anyone saw coming except maybe a few people who knew that I used to do be obsessed with Lindy Hop) was a playful swing dance routine to Benny Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing”.

Our DJ was ridiculous. You can read my Yelp review for him here for the full breakdown of the musical journey he took us on. One of the highlights of the night was when Chris and his dad, Carlos, had a dance off to Silento’s “Watch me” (or “Whip the Nae Nae” as Carlos calls it). Enough said.

Obviously I’m biased, but I seriously think it may have been the most EPIC wedding weekend of all time.

I hope this story inspires you. While it could be read as just a recap of a fun party weekend and the planning leading up to it, it’s really about something much deeper.

It’s about the power of intention. It’s about our ability to stay grounded and aligned with what we value most. And it’s about the importance of clear communication and deep human connection, rather than attachment to details and perfectionism.

Do You Have a Powerful Morning Ritual?

Do you have a morning ritual? I’m betting you do. But do you do your morning ritual on purpose or by default? Most of us tend to get into at least some kind of a routine and do more or less the same things every morning. Are you conscious or on autopilot?

The goal is to become conscious of what you currently do, so that you can decide if it’s working for you or not. Once you have the self-awareness, then you can make a powerful choice about whether to keep that ritual or design something that works better.

What’s the point of a morning ritual anyway?

A ritual is special – it adds meaning to your day. Whereas a routine is something you do regularly, a ritual is something you do regularly that has a point. It’s intentional, not just the default. 

I love the word ritual, because it implies a certain ceremony or sacredness. It’s an opportunity to show respect. To honor not only yourself but the life you are creating.

Let’s say you’re now aware of what your default morning routine is and you want to create something more POWERFUL – a meaningful ritual as opposed to a default routine. How do you create one?

There is no right way to do a morning ritual. The idea is to design something that is both effective and meaningful for YOU.

For one person, it might be 5 minutes of meditation, 20 pushups, a cold shower and then boom, they’re done. For someone else, it may be an elaborate 2 hour ceremony including prayer, journaling, yoga, candles, setting intentions for the day, and a gratitude practice. Or maybe it’s just a great cup of coffee while you read the newspaper.

It doesn’t matter what’s included in your ritual, as long as it sets the tone for your day. So ask yourself this – what state of mind do you want to be in when you start your work day?What kind of energy would support your work and lifestyle? Consider how much time you can and want to devote to your morning ritual and what would be an effective and powerful use of that time.

Here are some suggestions for different components you might include:

Movement
An intense bootcamp class, a brisk walk, yoga, or even a dance party in your living room. Find what works for you and gives you the kind of energy you need.

Journaling
Putting pen to paper is so powerful. Especially since we live in an increasingly digital world. Try journaling as a way to clear your mind and connect with your inner wisdom.

Nature
Seriously, mother nature wants to hook you up. Do what you can to tap into that. Exercise outdoors, walk barefoot on the beach, or just breathe some fresh air. Life giving.

Stillness
We’re bombarded with information all day. Our minds need peace and quiet to balance it out. Find stillness in prayer, meditation, or simply breathing mindfully for a few minutes.

Mindfulness
Create a gratitude practice, set an intention for the day, say affirmations, or review your goals. Start the day in a conscious way, connecting to what’s most important to you.

Strategy
Instead of going through your day in reaction mode, have a strategy. You’ll be more effective and focused if you know what you plan to do and why.

Read
As in, read something helpful. Not facebook. Not the news. Read a book on business or a blog that inspires you. Whatever is meaningful and helpful to you.

Creativity
What inspires you? Incorporate music, candles, incense, or whatever elements make it fun and magical. Call on ancestors, spirit guides, or pull a goddess card if that works for you!

Whatever you come up with, I recommend keeping it simple, at least in the beginning. Remember, you’re going to try to do it every day. Don’t be afraid to experiment and mix it up until you find what truly energizes you.

 

RIP Scott Dinsmore, a True Legend

Over the weekend I got some terrible news. A bright, shining light in my community – one of my favorite colleagues – had passed away. Today is the day of the week when I publish a blog post, and I can’t imagine writing about anything other than him. Here is my story about Scott and the impact he’s had on my life. For those of you who don’t know about him, I am honored to introduce you to an incredibly inspiring human. For those that do, please take this as an urgent reminder to live a life that you life.

Scott originally came onto my radar back in 2011. As a fellow coach in San Francisco, but one who was light years ahead of me professionally, he quickly became a role model and mentor from afar.

scott-dinsmore-im-fine-thanks-interview

While I never actually met him in person, and he probably wouldn’t have recognized me in the street, we exchanged a few emails and facebook messages and had a ton of friends in common. I would see him running around (literally) in San Francisco all the time, usually at the Lyon Street stairs or down at Crissy Field beach. I always figured our paths would cross one day and I had him on my wish list of coaches, speakers, writers, entrepreneurs, and change makers with whom I might one day share a stage or grow a friendship.

This year, Scott and his wife Chelsea embarked on a world tour. Not only were they traveling the world and having a blast, but they were visiting local chapters of a movement he started several years ago along the way. He inspired me not just professionally as a coach and entrepreneur, but his commitment to community and building something bigger than himself that would touch countless lives has been a big part of my growing desire to do the same.

As of right now, my fiancé and I are planning to do our own world tour next year. Scott and Chelsea’s adventure was a huge part of my inspiration for starting to plan this kind of ambitious journey. I was following their tour with great interest on Facebook and Instagram, taking mental notes and growing increasingly committed to forging a similar path. Here’s a little glimpse into the start of their journey. (Keep watching all the way until the end, for the adorable blooper reel.)

Scott’s words, his work, and his life will live on through the countless souls he touched in his far too short time on this earth.

And now, without further ado, let me introduce you to the man, the legend, Scott Dinsmore. Here are a few of his own words and some from his fans, friends, and followers to give you an idea of who he was.

His famous TEDx talk:

His website / community / movement, Live Your Legend, the accompanying LYL Action and Accountability FB group and his creed:

The-Creed-of-Living-Legends

News of his death spread like wildfire on Facebook and the ensuing onslaught of shared memories, moving stories of the countless ways he touched so many peoples lives, has left me mostly speechless. All I’ve been able to do for the past 18 hours is alternately cry and read more of the outpouring of love coming from all corners of the globe. This man truly inspired people on a soul level and changed lives in the most literal sense.

To read more, check out the Tribute to Scott Dinsmore facebook group, or some of the kind words from his friends Jonathan Mead, Leo Babauta, and Corbett Barr.

RIP, Scott. I didn’t even realize how big of an impact you’d had on my life until you were gone. I promise to do my part in helping your life and your mission to live on. I promise to live MY legend as best I can and inspire others to do the same. And I promise to celebrate your life and carry on so that your light lives on.

7 Simple Confidence Hacks

Confidence is one of my favorite topics. It’s a fascinating subject that we could dissect for days, but in this post I just want to give you a few quick tips that I have found to be very effective in my life. My clients have reported similar results.

Let me clarify that by confidence I mean that quiet, humble self-assuredness that you see in someone who knows who they are, what they stand for, and what they want. It’s NOT the same as arrogance, which stems from feelings of superiority over other people. In fact, it has nothing to do with other people, because it’s not about comparing yourself to anyone else. It’s about simple straight forward self-acceptance, self-love, and self-esteem.

Building a deep-rooted sense of confidence takes time. Especially if you’re coming from a place of self-doubt or insecurity to begin with. The good news is that it’s like a muscle and we can train it to be quite strong. I’ll address ways to grow your confidence in a holistic long-term way in many future posts. For now, though, here are some quick hacks to sample increased confidence at least temporarily, which can 1) help you get through a tough situation and 2) give you a taste of that delicious experience of truly, madly, and deeply believing in yourself.

1. Stand tall
Body language is hugely connected to our emotions. Even when you’re not feeling mentally, emotionally, or spiritually strong in any moment, you can choose to give yourself the gift of good posture. Simply stand tall, distribute your weight equally between both feel, relax your shoulders down and back, imagine that you have strings attached to the crown of your head and are being lifted up, and open your chest (this helps you give your lungs more room to take in more oxygen too.)

2. Make eye contact
Whether you’re doing it consciously or not, and whether it’s a reflection of your emotional state or not, as soon as you divert your eyes or avoid making eye contact with whomever you are interacting with, you will appear to be less confident. Train yourself to have the courage to look people in the eyes. Let them truly see you. Not only will you convey confidence, but you’ll also feel more confident, and will connect more easily with the other person. Obviously, there is a point at which prolonged eye contact becomes either aggressive or creepy! Use your judgment and figure out what works for you.

3. Breathe deeply
When you are scared or self-conscious, your body is most likely going into a stress response and you aren’t breathing deeply anymore. Simply pausing and remembering to breathe, and to breathe deeply if possible, will slow the stress response and start to trigger the relaxation response in your brain.

4. Speak up
Literally. Just speak louder. So many of us (women especially) have a tendency to trail off or mumble when we’re feeling insecure or unworthy. Until your inner confidence catches up, practice simply raising the volume of your voice. Again, you will not only appear more confident, but you will actually feel more confident. Plus, when you speak up, people will listen, which will in turn start to support your beliefs that your voice matters. In addition to volume, you can play with other aspects of your voice, like resonance, pitch, intonation, and tonality and notice both how you feel and what the impact is.

5. Slow down
This applies to both your internal and external behaviors. Internally, this means pausing to observe your thoughts, beliefs, intentions… it means practicing self-awareness. With external behaviors, such as your physical movements and how fast you talk, notice how people who talk fast or move quickly often come across as frenetic or flustered. Slowing down gives your brain and your heart a chance to guide your words and actions. What you say and do will be more mindful and aligned with who you are, as opposed to simply default behavior based on years of conditioning and often influenced by limiting beliefs and fear.

6. Smile
It’s so incredibly simple, but it works wonders. Don’t do one of those fake for-the-camera smiles where your mouth is smiling, but your eyes look dead. Smile with your eyes first and your mouth will follow suit. Much like how answering the phone with a huge smile on your face changes the way your voice sounds on the receiving end, smiling is a bit of a trick to short circuit your system. There are so many benefits. Not only will you get a little release of positive chemicals in your brain, but smiling puts other people at ease, which makes them feel more comfortable around you, which will put you at ease and boost your confidence.

7. Get curious
Most often, when you notice that you are lacking in self-confidence, you are focusing on yourself. Turn the focus outward onto someone else and get wildly curious about them. It’s almost impossible to judge anyone (including yourself) when you are being genuinely curious. Ask questions. Be hungry to learn more.

Use these simple tips as needed for a quick confidence boost in the moment or use them often as a way of starting to reprogram your mind with the ultimate intention of growing real authentic confidence and inner power.

Create your own reality

Are you the author of your own life? In the driver’s seat? Mindfully choosing what to think, do, and say? Intentionally designing the life you want to live? Taking action (and course correcting as needed) on purpose, consciously moving toward your goals and dreams?

Unfortunately, so much of our conditioning teaches us to be victims of circumstance, to just react and deal with whatever lands in our lap. And that’s supposed to be the life we live.

To that I say “Oh, HELL no!”

I will go my own way and design my own life, thank you very much. And I hope you’ll do the same. You do NOT have to live your life the way other people expect.

I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul
~ William Ernest Henley 

Take a moment right now to be still, get quiet, and check in with yourself. Are you creating your own reality? If so, to what extent?

Where in your life are you going unconscious, and consequently being swept along with whatever inertia your family, friends, jobs, bosses, roommates, and the rest of the world around you has sucked you into?

(Not that any of those things are inherently bad. They’re not good or bad, they just are. The question is are you aware of where you are and what you’re doing? Do you want to be there, doing that?)

So, go ahead. Check in with yourself right now. If you were completely in charge of your own life, would it look any different than it does right now? If not, congratulations you are large and in charge!

If so, I challenge you to start exploring where you might step it up and start taking more responsibility for yourself and your impact. If you were completely in your power, what would you be doing differently? Since you always have a choice, you might start asking yourself this:

What are you choosing? And what are you creating, for yourself and for others?

Here are a few of the things I’m choosing: to honor my purpose (which is all about freedom), to chase my dreams, to be fearlessly authentic, to practice gratitude, to embrace the shit out of failure and my own imperfections, to live by my values, to have fun and be playful, and to spread joy wherever I go.

What about you? Comment below or send me a note if you feel like sharing or have any questions.