All posts by Amanda

the story of your life

The Stories of Our Lives

There are times in our lives when we barely notice the contours and choices of our lives; they pass around us so smoothly that we think we’ve figured it out. We start to say things like “Well, that’s life” and encourage each other to “accept what is.” We nod along with government policies that codify and regulate “what is,” we take out loans, adopt animals, have children, schedule our lives, buy products, and negotiate our relationship boundaries with the sure knowledge that life “is what it is.”

And there are times in our lives when we simply cannot believe what is happening around us. Everything feels new and unimaginable; sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a bad way, and sometimes in a way that simply feels new.

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blogging on a daily basis

Six Lessons from ^Almost! Daily Blogging: A behind the scenes look

Today marks three full weeks of The ^Almost Daily Catalyst! Seth Godin has been encouraging me (and, you know, the other 4M people who follow him) for 2 years to blog every day, but it always felt like such a big ask.

I started as more of a blogger than a coach, then the coaching took off and the blogging dwindled to maaayyyybbeeee once a month. And yet, the call of regular writing was always running along in the background like an excitable little dog.

“Bark! Bark, bark!” he says! (That’s dog for “Hey! We could write a blog about that! And this! And that! We totally have enough to write every day! Let’s do it! It will be SO. FUN.”)

Unfortunately, those thoughts were being “managed” by these super “helpful” thoughts:

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constant worry

The Power of “What If”

Oh, worry, my old friend. If there were worry olympics, I coulda been a contender. I am GREAT at worry. A natural!

And worry LOVES company! As long as I was worrying, I’d always have someone to talk to. But, my conversations would be exhausting, and my life would be joyless.

We certainly have the option to feeling anxious or concerned right now- If we wanted to, we could worry ourselves sick about the state of the world: the handling of the crisis, the mental health of our friends and families stuck at home with only the black hole of the internet to occupy them, and the danger experienced by our heroes in scrubs.

Worry is is a verb that means to be consumed by the anticipation of negative emotion.

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creating opportunity

Three Things That Just Aren’t True

It’s been a heck of a week and I’m glad for a few days off. What are you going to do this weekend? Nothing? ME TOO!

And, honestly, I’m ready for it.

I, like you, am doing my best to show up for the people I care about. I want to get it right but some times I get it all wrong… like the time I yelled at my daughter because she wanted to hug me when I wanted to read my book.* I want to be empathetic and honest and grounded and peaceful but sometime I’m pissed and sarcastic and anything but peaceful. And I want to write the very best, most beautiful words in a row for you guys on my ^Almost Daily Catalyst, but I’m always missing the typos, using the wrong their/there/they’re, and getting my punctuation wrong.

The world wants us to hold ourselves to a standard of absolute perfection, and keep ourselves small UNTIL we figure that out.

But of course, that’s some bullshit.

You don’t have to be perfect to be valuable.

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how to believe in yourself

What Do You Believe About You?

This week we discussed how mindmanager, our brain’s gatekeeper, and overworked executive, can be encouraged to support our goals rather than “sticking us back in front of the tv” of familiarity. But I realized that I hadn’t clearly explained why mindmanager is so persnickety in the first place.

Why can’t we engage with any goal we want, any time we feel like it?

Ok, so first let’s clarify that the thing you want to do is difficult. No one is blocked about things that are easy! “I want to binge on Netflix but every time I sit down to watch, I freak out and disengage” said (almost) no one, ever.

When things are hard, they involve:

  • Times when you don’t feel like doing it
  • Times when it’s physically or mentally draining to keep going
  • Times when you feel so emotionally vulnerable that you almost can’t stand it.
  • Times when you really, truly just don’t know what to do next

What happens in times like these? Do you dig in and push through? Or do you disengage and check out? This is when mindmanager either needs to be on your side, or you will drop back into familiarity.

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cbt decision making models

Welcome to the Situation

I am guessing that we all agree that how we think about something impacts the experience we have with it. You wouldn’t still be here if you weren’t already pretty much on board with the idea that your brain is really powerful and can change your lived experience.

Examples include:

  • If you think that you have choice about how much fear you take on, you feel less overwhelmed by individual news stories. When you feel pursued by bad news, worried that you’ll get swept away by the currents of negativity, then every news story is cause for concern.
  • If you think that your partner is genuinely doing his or her best under difficult circumstances, it’s easier to overlook the dirty dishes and/or the nagging. If you think he or she is “taking the easy way out” then those dishes and the nagging become cause for a 2-day argument.
  • If you believe that the world needs more laughter, you will see silly posts, emails, and videos as something for which to be grateful. If you believe, on the other hand, that what we need now is to take everything very seriously, those posts will annoy you and be more evidence of how shallow everyone is.

These examples aren’t here to make a case that one belief or thought is better or righter than another. It’s the opposite of that, actually. This is to draw your attention to how your thoughts create the experience you are having.

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how to take control of your mind

Mindmanager to the rescue! …Maybe.

Listen, there’s a reason that “change is hard” is one of the biggest headnodders* of all time. We suck at changing our lives! This is why we continue to engage with truly terrible ideas! Here are three terrible ideas I am still engaging in on the regular:

  • Never exercising. Despite being known most of all as “that women who went from never exercising to being a triathlete,” I spend most days chilling on the couch, especially right now.
  • SUGAR. Despite being almost entirely “sugar free” because of that whole autoimmune thing last year, I bought a 5 pack of Trolls Oreos on Amazon because I NEED IT. (Yo, there are POPROCKS inside. You need them, too.)
  • Speed reading. When I get interested in a book, I become compulsively committed to finishing it.I read fast already, but I also have a setting that kicks in that is way more about finishing than savoring.Then, I’m done with my book and SO SAD it’s over. I’ve known this forever, and yet I finished “The art of inheriting secrets” in 36 hours.Errrggghhhh, so frustrating. Because now I don’t get to read it anymore! SMH.

Today is just another example of our whole lives. We know what’s up.

Said another way, we already know what we need to do differently!

So why don’t we? And why do we get so emotional when someone suggests that we could, in fact, respond differently?

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how to live with chaos in your life

F*ck It!

This message is brought to you by the coronavirus, two and half weeks in.

[Tuesday, March 31st, 6pm] I think the lesson from today can be summed up neatly with this two-word, oft stated phrase in the Crowell Home: F*ck it.

I’ve decided that for today Imma let go into the mess. Really relax into the chaos. Settle into the shit, and get comfy.

Here we go:

I spent my entire day on zoom, which was glitchy AF as the entire world suddenly logged into it (F-You, Zoom! YOUR internet is unstable!) “connecting” with clients (F-You social distancing! I want to hug my people!) and being emotionally available (F-You self control! I’m going to dip my OREOS in wine!) while also taking care of my kids (F-You color coded homeschooling schedule! One tap for the next 5 hours? SCREENS!) and trying to stay on top of the mountain of videos I’m creating for my classes (F-You youtube auto-translate! Why must it take 73 clicks to find you?!?).

And for good measure: F-YOU New York Times app of doom, Facebook panic button, and [SAY IT WITH ME]:

F-THE-H out of you, Coronavirus.

Fuck all that, is what I’m saying.

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clearing out the clutter in your mind

What’s a Mind, Anyway?

My posts for the past week boil down to one piece of critical advice: During the coronavirus crisis (and, actually, always) it’s very important for you to realize that you have CHOICE about what you think, what you feel, and how you act.

Not total choice, obviously, but a heck of a lot more choice than most of us are exercising.

And listen, I’ve heard every version of how that’s not true:

“Some people have depression and anxiety or worse, Amanda. They aren’t at choice about how they feel.” They have more choice than they know, and I want them to see if they can find some. Will their choices make them feel all better? NO. But I’m not going to let that stop me from encouraging them to do what they can to feel more at peace TODAY.

“Some people have lost their jobs and have no money and nobody is hiring right now, Amanda. What do you want them to do?’ I want them to know that even SUPER hard times don’t have to be the only thing happening in your life. Where can you find joy? What delights you? How can you get a little bit of that TODAY?

“Some people are sad, angry, and frustrated, Amanda! And what’s wrong with that? You shouldn’t shame people who are feeling entirely rational, albeit negative emotions.” I would NEVER shame anyone for feeling badly.

And I never said that exercising your choice about how you think, feel, and act during the coronavirus would mean that you will feel great all the time.
How bizarre would that be? Our world is in crisis, people we know are sick (and maybe we will be, too), and there are real worries about how we are going to recover from this economic free fall. Being present and intentional often means feeling sad and angry and frustrated. That’s totally fine.

AND! Being present and intentional can also mean feeling grateful. It can involve laughter. Sometimes it means that you restrict your exposure to the news so you can be present with your kid without that crushed feeling in your chest. Sometimes it means that you tell your husband that “If pajamas are on my body, NO ONE WILL SPEAK about the coronavirus!” All of those things are allowed.

Being alive during a global crisis does not mean you have to BE in crisis.

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not losing hope

There’s Always Hope in the Humans

In our previous post, we discussed how to counteract the negativity and fear that threatens to consume us by tapping into the beauty around you. You may not remember, but beauty was part of a three-part list, along with hope and opportunity.

Just like beauty, hope is available to us at all times if we choose them to see it.

If you’ve had even one “emo” moment in your life, you’ve probably had this two-part thought:

“What is hope, anyway, and isn’t it entirely naïve to be hopeful?”

This usually comes up when you’ve experienced a moment of chaotic unpredictability [Like that time the entire world decided to work from home (including the kids!), except for the doctors and nurses who HAD to go to work (but without fundamental protective gear) because a highly contagious virus was on the loose.] At times like that, you begin to seriously worry that things “Won’t be OK.”

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