Category Archives: Reflection

Have you changed your narrative lately?


As I wander through cities, one of the things I look for is evidence of fresh construction. Cities are living, breathing, pulsating organisms, and a great indicator of change is the number of cranes you can see dotting the skyline. In San Francisco, new construction emerges when the lack of residential units becomes absurd; in my new neighborhood in Brooklyn, new housing developments are popping up on vacant lots every few months.

Everything is always changing, even if we aren't looking for it.

You have trillions of cells in your body, one of my yoga teachers reminds me. And your cells live, grow, and die and replace themselves every seven years. Every seven years we become an entirely new collection of cells. And in our personal and professional lives, metamorphoses happen even quicker. Your narrative changes every two, three, four years. You were a college student—then you weren't. You were responsible for only yourself—and then you became a parent.

Every seven years our physical bodies completely regenerate. How often do we renew our stories of self?

Your narrative is always changing.

It's easy to cling to a story, even if it doesn't serve us anymore. It's harder to shed the layers of past selves and emerge into a new narrative. The transition can be awkward, abrupt, or bumpy.

As things move and shift, you’re learning, iterating, growing, changing. You’re new to twitter and then, months later … you’re not. No one is listening to your blog, and then, some time later, people are listening. You're embedded in the flush of a new job, thrilled to be working on your project, and then, a few years later, you're tired. Ready for the next project, story, or idea.

Don’t cling too hard to your old narratives. Instead, build new ones. Grow into future ones.

When you're a new employee, the biggest thing you don't know yet is that you’re only in the entry level category for a short time before new faces come along and you've got to hand your bag of tricks over to the new staff. That management you're secretly griping about? That's you, really soon. Trying your best to do better, and learning the reasons why it's so tough to implement your ideals. At the end of my twenties, just a brush away from my thirties, I realized with somewhat of a start that I graduated from college 9 years ago –

What? NINE years ago? 

People were asking me questions that I had answers to — and many that I didn't. I knew a lot, and yet there was so much more I wanted to learn.

You are, until you aren’t.

You aren't, and then you are.

In my work with storytellers, educators, corporate leaders, and innovators, one of the things we do is unearth their current narratives — and watch people rebuild. Michael Margolis reminds me that "as you tell your story, your story moves." When we take pen to paper, when we sit with friends, when we convene and collect and talk about what we're doing — our story changes.

The act of expressing your story helps set your past narratives free. The act of imagining your future narrative helps you grow and transition into your next iteration of who you are.

We grow through story, and we grow into our story. Your narrative is changing.

What stories can you retire?

Who are you becoming next?


Writing exercise: get out a sheet of paper and write down as many stories and scripts that you carry around with you. Your age, what you believe in, how you explain who you are and what you do. Are there any that can be changed? Anything new emerging? Write down stories of your next, wiser, growing self. Who are you becoming? 

PS: For everyone who's interested in working on their writing and storytelling, I've got a surprise coming out in the next few weeks — if you're on my mailing list, I'll send you a note when my big surprise goes live! 

Why is moving so hard? The struggle to lighten up, give up, and let go.

“Have nothing in your homes that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” — William Morris. Everything changes. I just emptied an apartment full of furniture, things, stories, and stuff. I carried couches, desks, and pieces of furniture up and down (and up and down) many flights of stairs across hillyContinue Reading

What to do about negative feedback.

Are you hungry enough? So I’m at home on a Saturday night, and I’m watching America’s Next Top Model, one of my guilty pleasures and trashy TV shows that I sometimes tune into (it’s that, Project Runway, and Suits that make me curl up with a bowl of popcorn after a long day). While you can holdContinue Reading

Creating your own weekly review: Robert Cooper on finding ways to be exceptional.

Living up to your potential sounds pretty fancy. It’s something we all want, right? Live up to your potential. Maximize your potential. Be all that you can be.  But how, exactly, do you do it? How does an intangible life objective become manifest into your daily routine? For Robert Cooper, author of The Other 90%: HowContinue Reading

Finding the little bliss(es): this is it.

Where is happiness? Where do you find it? The $7 coffee pot we bought the day we moved in together–because we knew that functioning properly as a team might require adequate dosages of caffeine in our morning routines. Stretching my toes against the curb while waiting for the light to change. High-fiving the blinking walkContinue Reading

A little note on letting go…

Clear your plate. Let go of things that don’t serve you. That don’t inspire you. Give up things that aren’t working. Release. Let out a deep sigh. Pause. Inhale. Exhale. Take a shower. Dunk in a waterfall. Wash it clean, letting water drip down around you, pour over your head. Feel the world rinse you off, like aContinue Reading

Project hangovers, self-criticism, and the necessity of making messes.

I have a confession. Sometimes–more nearly like every time–after finishing a project, I hate it. My writing class? Sucks, obviously. Last week’s essay? Good God, that could have been better. All those open and empty drafts waiting to be finished? Seriously, could have worked harder to get those done.  And on and on… My brainContinue Reading

Darkness and light: why writing is an act of bravery.

“Only when we’re brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our life.” — Brene Brown Writing is an act of bravery. Each year, when I teach our writing workshops, I get to work with a small group of twenty-some writers, thinkers, and creatives. Inevitably, the process gets difficult in weeksContinue Reading

What’s in the trunk? A mysterious tunnel inside the house… and some of the things I’m so grateful for.

What’s in the trunk?   My dad just moved to Colorado and I’m here for the week, visiting for the first time. The cold, snowy mountains outside of Denver are filled with deer, elk, and other creatures that wander up to the backyard and say hello. (There’s also a new dog in the family that’sContinue Reading

Winter workshop: cultivating gratitude, opening to grace. Begins December 1. Join us.

Crack. That moment, when your heart swells in open with thanks. When a stranger sends you a smile and a whisper. The unexpected brush of a hand against yours.  The warmth of the subway air after a walk through frozen city streets. A free coffee from the barista. When a taxi driver waves you forward andContinue Reading