When it all goes to hell…

Today I’ve been… here we go, are you ready for this word? Depressed.

Oof, man. I wasn’t ready for it either.

Today the second overwhelming “disaster” occurred in my already overwhelming schedule. It’s tempting to think of it as a test: Where’s your breaking point, Megan? Are you sure you want to do all these things? Because I have surprised myself by realizing that I’ve passed pre-November 15th activity levels and am somehow more involved in even more important undertakings… and in such a situation, when disaster strikes, my it strikes hard.

I hesitate to use the word “disaster”, because who knows why these things are happening—I am completely open to the awesomeness that will be my life when it all pans out and I can see what’s what. But for now, I admit it: Quite overwhelming! I finally came to my senses and Shiva‘d til my muscles felt like jelly (and my brain too)... and then I went to sit outside.

Outside, I had a few thoughts. Something about the cool air and the warm sun and the green leaves everywhere. I revelated. And I came back inside and pulled all the blinds way up to let more sunlight in and started ranting at Marty.

“This is our job,” I said to Marty. “This is what we do. We work at home, doing these things! There isn’t going to be any getting of jobs here. We’re not going to ‘give up’ and do something else instead. This is IT. This is what we’ve decided and this is what’s best for us!”

I started pacing the freaking room, and waving my arms around. Marty continued to work on his site, but he was listening. “This is us taking responsibility for our lives. This is the right thing to do! People give away their responsibility all the time, their job is responsible for getting them a paycheck for their rent and their groceries, if they get fired there’s nothing they can do, the government is responsible for giving them money while they look for new work, if the economy sucks then the economy sucks, there’s nothing to be done, but none of that is true! What about taking responsibility for our lives and make things happen by ourselves, taking responsibility for having the life we want to live without the luxury of blaming someone else if it doesn’t work out?”

It’s not all like that. TONS of people have jobs that they love and take responsibility for—and if those people lose their jobs, if “disaster” strikes, they make a decision about what to do next and they do it. But oh, my default setting is clear: I want someone to take care of me. I want someone to fix it and make it better. Don’t make ME do it.

I don’t buy that anymore, default setting or not, and you don’t have to either. Being in a difficult position doesn’t mean getting doomed and then running home to hide under the bed. Being in a difficult position means GROWING and learning to overcome difficult positions. Wait, stay calm… and let the realization come to you. Your brain is smart. It knows what to do, if you’re willing to listen instead of freaking out.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember, but it’s true. It got me through several bewildered moments in the last month or so, and it will get me through today and tomorrow and next week and the month after too.

All we need is a little perspective, right? It’s not really all going to hell, after all.

Communication Goodness!

I had a lot of fun listening in on Pace & Kyeli’s Communication for the Holidays course tonight. It’s pretty awesomely fun, and useful in all the ways I’ve come to associate with the Usual Error Project. And it’s pretty handy that I can sign up and still get some work done, when I’m really busy—and then have an mp3 to catch up with if I need it.

I think it’s hysterical that I’m so hard at work on the Usual Error website and book, and that those things have taken up so much of my life in the last several months, and the result is that I talk less about them. Temporary, I assure you. ;}

Also? These people are fabulously kooky. I love them a lot.

PS. I wrote the “communication goodness” title BEFORE Pace said it at the end of the session. I SWEAR.

The Tribes Q&A (teeny addendum)

This is the first project I can remember for which I didn’t particularly care about receiving credit. It resonated with me, needed to be done, and I stepped up to do whatever I could be useful doing. It felt really good to work this way. As a consequence of that, I didn’t add a lot of actual writing to the book—organizing, proofing, little pieces of much longer answers, that’s all. I don’t mind that a bit, because it’s really fulfilling to work on a project like this one that speaks powerfully to me.

But I have to admit, it gives me a lot of glee to see someone I don’t know quoting one teeny tiny piece of text that I know I wrote.

Care. Your tribe knows if you care about them—if you care about what happens to them, what inspires them, what affects them, what improves their lives, and what brings them joy. Likewise, your tribe knows if you do not care—they can smell a fake a mile away and if it is not apparent now, it will be soon. It makes all the difference in the world between a tribe stuck together with paper and string and a tribe whose members are strongly, organically connected to their leader and to one another.

So I’m just going to take a second and be proud of me.

Yeah. Dude. That feels awesome.


Second over. Back to work! ;}

[Edit: It happened AGAIN! Same kooky thing, different clip.

Selling goods (such as concert tickets, albums, or T-shirts) is NOT what makes you a living. Connecting people and giving them a place in the world IS. There is a huge difference between focusing on one and focusing on the other. Making a living—making money—is only a pleasant side effect of doing this right. But it is a side effect that happens all the time.

Okay, so I took TWO seconds. I’m sure this is happening to everyone else, I just recognize my own clips. It’s still freaky and awesome!]

The Tribes Q&A (by the Triiibe)

The Tribes Q&A

Big seekrit project? Done. Man am I tuckered out!

The Tribes Q&A was released today on Seth Godin’s blog, and elsewhere. You’ll remember the last ebook, the Tribes Casebook, that the Triiibe produced; this one was a bit different. (Okay, a lot different.)

This time, Seth announced the idea and its parameters, gave us some time to brainstorm in the comments of his thread, and… released the project into the wild. As in, he stepped back out of the picture, and we self-organized.

Self-organization is a pretty crazy thing, fascinating and often incredibly powerful (as Seth will attest). A lot of people have a lot of ideas and it takes some time for everything to boil down to the plans that will finally function well enough to drive the project forward. I learned a lot of important (and often uncomfortable) lessons about leadership and self-organized projects during the course of this event. I can’t believe how quickly the time passed (I’m sure that just a few minutes ago it was half-October) and how much I feel like I’ve grown in the meantime. I honestly didn’t know I had it in me. (I wish you the same revelation!)

The Tribes Q&A is the second companion ebook to Seth’s release of Tribes, which happened in October. A good 160+ determined Triiibes members contributed to this book, many of them working their asses off and all of them putting in valuable time and effort to successfully accomplish something meaningful.

I still need to make a few more project workshop posts at Triiibes.com—I want to shed some light on the supremely dedicated crew that made this thing happen, and I want to start a post mortem to discuss how it could have been done better, what worked, what didn’t. Three and a half weeks is an absurdly short period of time in which to accomplish what we tried to accomplish. We could have lowered the bar, but I think we may have raised it a little. I’m grateful to Seth for giving us a deadline that challenged us so intensely. I know I’m not the same since, and I bet a lot of people feel similarly.

I’m late to the party again this time—people started talking about the Q&A this morning and by the time I post this many more will have followed suit. Here’s the Google blog search for the Q&A, and you’ll notice that Twitter is all… a-twitter. (Yeah, I know. I’m pretty funny. :})

I would love for you to take some time to read this book, especially if you’ve already read Tribes. I spent an insanely focused month or so helping to make it happen, and the project is very close to my heart. The people who put it together were downright amazing and I’ve never had so much fun doing something so difficult with so many resolute participants. “Wow” is half the words I say these days (and it’s an understatement).

So here’s the low-down (you remember this): Email it, post it, print it! Please don’t sell it or change it. You can download it for free here. It’s definitely worth the read.

More information on the Tribes Q&A!

Squidoo: The Tribes Casebook (by Triiibes). This is the first companion ebook the Triiibe put together. Feel free to check it out too if you haven’t already!

My favorite Tribes Q&A posts and link fu so far:

Seth Godin’s “The Tribes Q&A ebook is here and it’s free” @ Seth’s Blog
CoCreatr’s “Co-Authored Book Released – and It’s Free” @ Purple Pointr
Char James-Tanny’s “New Tribes ebook is now available” @ helpstuff
Ed Welch’s “Tribes Questions and Answers ebook” @ Tribe Building
Anjali Ramachandran’s “The Tribes Q&A eBook” @ One Size Fits One
Tiny addendum to this post, written the next day. ;}

Tribes Q&A Twitterstream (developing even still), and two more if you watch “Triiibe” and “Triiibes” on Twitter Search. A-twitter indeed!

Important Tribes Q&A Corrections

As with any self-organized project with a tight deadline and slightly chaotic beginnings, there are probably a few mistakes in the Tribes Q&A that need to be corrected. I know of one off the bat, and I will list them here as I find out more. Hopefully this will be a good resource for anyone who’s confused or curious about something in particular (and feel free to if you know of something I’ve missed).

P. 69; Jeffrey Lee Simons’ correct website URL is Can someone please explain…? Jeffrey stepped up at the last minute to help us with proofing, and was awesomely helpful!

But what if I succeed?

“I see you. You are a worthy challenge. Right now I do not believe I can face you. But I intend to become strong enough to eventually face you—and win.”

~ Steve Pavlina, “Fanatical About Growth“

Somehow Doubtless

I guess this might sound crazy.

Marty and I are still scrambling to figure out how to pay December’s bills once it arrives. We don’t have anything set in stone yet—we don’t have any kind of safety net. Two huge projects are pretty much over, pending announcement, and I have more hanging on. And one or two of them are massively important, and will continue to require my full attention for… awhile. Some lengthy period of time. And there are going to be more.

I’ve been working… eighteen hour days. Yes. I’ve been working eighteen hour days. I get up at 5am and then I get to bed around 8:30 or 9. I work pretty much the whole day, though I take breaks for food (sometimes) and occasionally we put in a movie (though I never get very far into it before I’m back at my computer checking on something).

But I don’t think I’ve ever felt happier.

I just feel… Fulfilled. Valid. Real. Vital. Satisfied, and at the same time, still hungry. Not particularly stressed, not worn out—although there were certainly moments in the last three and a half weeks when I was pushing it. Mostly, I just feel good.

I’ve been practicing Shiva Nata every day, but not for quite as long as I’d like. My practice sessions have been getting longer, though, and that makes me happy (and anxious to find out what it will be like when I can do even more). Marty’s been doing push ups. Lots of push ups. We’ve been eating almost all fruit & vegetables because we found out that, even organic, they’re cheaper than what we used to have on our grocery bill. Way cheaper. We’ve had a learning curve for keeping produce in the fridge and making it last long enough to eat (instead of be forgotten about, and then thrown away). But it’s a neat learning curve.

We go out to eat once in a blue moon. We’re functional hermits, and we haven’t seen most of our friends in weeks (at least). We’re working harder than we’ve ever worked in our lives. It’s not that we don’t love our friends and want to spend time with them. It’s just that this is important, and feels… significant. In a way I can’t describe. This is what we are supposed to be doing, right now.

I know it sounds like I’m a good candidate for the nuthouse, but this is the best my life has felt so far. And it feels like it’s going to get better.

Today Marty and I talked about money, and how it’s scary to be pushing this thing when a “sane” person would have given up two weeks ago. I said, Anyone else would have stopped trying already. But if we’re brave and keep going, even when it’s scary, we’ll make it. Just because people don’t try doesn’t mean the prize isn’t there. It just means fewer people get to it.

And somehow I have no doubt in my mind that we’ll get there. I don’t know when I became this person. I don’t know when I became clear about the future of me. I don’t know when I started having this much faith in myself, and in those around me, and in the universe that turns on my axis.

I don’t know when it happened, but my god, it feels great.

Johnson’s Backyard Garden

Oh, and by the way…

My Johnson’s Backyard Garden CSA membership is FREAKING AWESOME! I get tons of these beautiful little vegetables in a box every week, and a half dozen of good happy grass-fed eggs for Marty, and I transfer it all into my pretty rainbow bin and bring it home and then we EAT IT!

So far it’s fairly similar to Greenling, except more of my money goes to the people who grow the food, and I have the opportunity to swap veggies if there’s something in my box I’m not crazy about. (I haven’t bothered yet, because I’m having a great time learning how to eat new things, but it’s really nice to have the option!) I also don’t have to make sure to be home watching the gate like a hawk to make sure I’m there when my delivery comes, and I have a nice four hour window to pick my food up. I rather think the veggies look better from Johnson’s than Greenling’s local box; this may be because the produce takes longer to get to me with Greenling (and is out of the ground longer), but I’m not sure. I love all the pretty colored peppers and little yummy tomatoes and gorgeous white radishes. Marty says he will be using those radishes to bonk shy-guys, but I have insisted that we EAT them. Yesterday, we made delicious vegetable stew!

I’ve also discovered that since we buy almost entirely raw produce now (wow. when did that happen?) I need more crisper space! I’m not completely clear on this crisper thing, but the greens in the crispers survive the week much better than the ones in the fridge proper, so it has me wondering if i can buy some kind of extra crisper for the upper parts of the fridge. I’m going to have to read up on veggie cold storage. I don’t want to have to cook very much of it if I can avoid it (though our plans for the stew include eating some for lunch and putting it in meal-sized bags in the freezer for easy defrost & devour once we start to run out of food).

For those of you still wondering, I have to say this: We’re eating organic produce, a lot of it raw, and we’re not buying very much packaged food (plastic, glass, paper, jars & whatnot). I am almost 100% certain now that eating a diet of organic produce is less expensive than eating almost any other typical American diet, with the possible exception of the stomach-turning Walmart diet, which I would not wish on my evilest, worstest enemy. So if you’ve been complaining about organic and natural and pesticide free being too goddamn pricy… you’re depending on packaged food way too much. Or maybe meat.

Okay, now I’ve done my food-related people poking for the day. You totally owe me a zucchini for making your life better.

Stew ahoy!

Late to the Party

I’ve been meaning to make a post all week about how I’ve been loathe to join new social networks because I feel repelled by the constant self-promotion that goes on in them. I’m thinking of getting rid of my MySpace account (and don’t act surprised, either), and maybe a few others. I didn’t have a solution for it before, but I do now. I know exactly what the problem is. And I know because I’m a member of Triiibes now, and Seth said no promote, yes help people. And so that’s what we do. We browse around being useful, supportive, getting to know one another better. And that accomplishes so much more than using our profiles like billboards.

We’re proud of who we are and what we do, but broadcasting that isn’t what our participation in Triiibes is about. It’s about making a difference in the lives of other people, more often and not, and wow do I connect with that.

I’m still a little bleary from the projects I’ve been hauling forward in the last month, so my prose isn’t so perfect. If you want to read a clear, well-written post about exactly this same subject—alarming how exactly on the same page we were all week, and I hadn’t even looked at it until this morning—take a look at Trish’s post at SWIMBERT: Tribal attraction…what makes it or breaks it?

I think more social networks need to gently enforce this kind of atmosphere—where it’s about the tribe, not the individual (and not the individual’s marketing copy). I would join those networks. I would love to make new friends… this way.

Self-promotion is great. Be proud of yourself, be proud of what you do. But don’t engage in it to the exclusion of people. There are amazing people out there, people you can connect with, people whose effect on your life might be amazing. People you could really help. If you swan around wondering what everyone else can do for you, you might never find them.

You failed! And it was awesome!!

“I propose a toast to Lewis and his brilliant failure:
May it lead to success in the future!”

Marty and I watched Meet the Robinsons the other night. What a freaking fantastic movie! It was mostly just your usual vastly entertaining kids’ flick, but there are a couple of particular exceptions I would like to clearly note:

  • “Keep moving forward!” This guy is not kidding. Coulda-shoulda-woulda is not worth your time except to learn from your past and move on. Sitting around and wasting time is useless to you. And by the way, when’s the last time you learned something new, really? Do you go through the same familiar routine every day? Do you stay in your comfort zone? (Note: Comfort zones are not always comfortable. They’re usually just comfortable enough...) When’s the last time you pushed yourself? Did something really, really hard? No, I mean really hard. When was the last time you looked inside yourself and discovered a previously-unknown inner strength of will? And if you can’t remember, when the hell are you going to start?
  • “You failed! And it was awesome!! Exceptional! Outstanding! From failing you learn! From success… not so much.” If you’ve seen this movie, you know that the kid protagonist screws something up masterfully (for the second time in the last hour) and instead of groans and disappointment from those around him, he receives… PRAISE! It’s almost a party. Exclamations, applause, fireworks! (Yes, really—fireworks!) And I think my jaw dropped right into my raw zucchini lasagne, because I’ve never seen a movie do that. I’ve heard about failure, yes, and I’ve heard how important it is to push through. But celebrating failure? That’s… that’s… That’s MAGNIFICENT!

Celebrate! Failure! My god, how did we come to raise our children to dread defeat? It astonishes me. It should astonish you, too.

I think I should start a list. The ten most brilliantly passion-inspiring, growth-inducing, essential-lesson-teaching movies of all time. (Now I just have to find eight more. I already know what my second’s going to be…)

“Gosh… you’re all so nice. If I had a family, I… I’d want them to be just like you.”