Inspiration Overload

WDS NotesIf it is possible to Be IN too much, I did it over this past weekend at the second World Domination Summit. If it is possible to use too many superlatives in a post, I shall do so here.

WDS is a gathering of incredible, like-minded individuals in Portland Oregon, organized by Chris Gillebeau and the friendliest Action Team ever. The natural question is who attends WDS and why? In Chris’s words, what unites us is threefold: community, adventure and service.

We are bold enough to ask the questions: how do we lead a remarkable lives in a conventional world? What does that mean and look like to me? How can I support others in their visions?

I would say throughout the weekend, besides just knowing in my gut that WDS was something I must attend, was that I wanted to be just around people that “got it.” I was expending energy engaging and enjoying others, instead of explaining my choices.

There was just a certain level of understanding intrinsic in being part of the tribe.

The leap and the crash

Bungee ViewWhat followed a leap off a bridge with amazing, adventuresome individuals who would become my core group for the rest of the weekend, was two and a half very intense, packed days of conference sessions, meet ups, breakouts, social events and impromptu deep conversations.

Exhilarated and exhausted, I’m craving more of those invigoratingly deep conversations at the same time needing to settle back into myself and recharge.

Like an ADHD kid on Ritalin, I’m so high I have crashed out.

There is, apparently, only so much inspiration one body and mind can handle. My body literally crashed last night, an intended power nap turning into a 12 hour sleep. I think that sum about equals what I got over the rest of the weekend.

All by choice. All good stuff. Yet because of the intensity I’m finding it difficult to turn all of this inspiration into action — as we were and are encouraged to do.

Leaving charged up to do the grand over mindlessly going back to the grind is a sentiment I would otherwise wholeheartedly agree with… if my heart and mind weren’t so damned tired.

I am also already skipping on to the next summit of the STP this coming weekend and the logistical, physical and fiscal details therein. Then I feel the few weeks I have left to get ready for Florence looming grandly on the horizon.

I wanted this post to be my grand plans for the future. Alas, not so much.

Now and Then

WDS Possibility

We all just received an email from Chris again encouraging us to see at take action towards what our lives will look like in a year – when 80% of us signed up to return to WDS. I’ll be wrapping up in Italy next July and I still plunked down money to register for WDS13.

Perhaps it is a good goal to think that I’ll be set to travel back for the Summit and prepare for my next leap beyond. It, again, is a point that I have tossed my anchor out to. Yet I think of reregistering as reactive – still riding the high – then as planned, proactive and realistic.

I know I should be concentrating on the important over the immediate  — planning my route and taking action steps now.

If only we always did what we know we “should” do.

The path between where I vaguely want to be in a year and now is a swirling messy jumble — my vision of the future is like a snow globe that it is churned up and too glittery for me to see clearly through.

I have faith that it will be, just not today.

I’m giving myself another week to let the sparkles settle and then be intentional and self-inspired with my action steps.

Sometimes the greatest gift we can give ourselves is time. For it is what allows us the breathing room to…

Always be IN

Jo Signature



PS – I am absolutely loving Portland. Perhaps my reticence to look towards the future is partly loving being IN where I am now. I do know that if I return to the states in a year it will now be to NYC or PDX.

To -er is human

you are lovely anywayI pushed myself hard. 2 hours at the gym and even thowing-up in my mouth a little on a trainer bike.

I was pushing because I hadn’t moved my body like that in 2 days. Pushing because I had eaten poorly for the last 3. Pushing because I felt I needed to punish myself for sins that only I see in myself.

As I was blowdrying my hair — well just the bangs — and still sweating a little after sauna and shower, when a woman came up behind me and said “I want your figure.”

Over the sound of the dryer I wasn’t sure I heard her right. Clicking it off I smiled, “What?” She gave me a lovely but somewhat wry-twanged smile back and said, “I wish I had your figure.”

I was stunned.


INspiration cuts all ways

Granted, she– Laura — is overweight and I am not. “Svelte” I am also not. Surrounded by coeds, their slim legs and flat torsos clearly visible under greek lettered tops and shorts, Laura told me that she was envious of my frame.

“Pray for me.” she said “I have 100 pounds to get there.”

I still don’t know how to react to that.

“Do it slow,” I said “and take it easy on yourself. But stick with it. You’ll get there.”

I felt — feel — like all my words are inadequate.

“I couldn’t run a mile a year ago,” I tried again “and now I’m working out for 2 hours a night and able to do things I never thought I would be able to do.”

“Did you lose a lot of weight?” she wanted to know.

I paused. “It isn’t so much about that for me. I want to fit into my old favorite jeans again. I have some races coming up I want to do.”

Seeing something catch in her look, knowing I was dodging, I went on: “Yeah, I lost about 10-15 pounds… but now I can run a mile and more. That makes it worth it.”

“Pray for me.” she said again.

“I’ll definitely keep you in my thoughts…?” I extended my hand.


“I’m Joanna. You can do it Laura.”

“I hope so” she said with an overly bright smile that was smudged with sadness at the edges.

“Just keep at it.” I said to her back as she walked away. I sighed as I clicked on the hair dryer again. Then I looked in the mirror and, for the first time in a long time, I smiled at myself.

Working towards what?

Workout ScheduleAs I wrote out this story that night my nose was still twanging with dammed tears that I don’t know how to let fall. It is easy to want to be a source of inspiration from behind a keyboard. It is much harder to meet that head on… and feel like such a fake.

WE ALL think we need to do this or that to be better

Was I taking my own advice? Was I going slow? Was I really focused on my events and not my scale? DoI have clear goals that I am working towards and not pushing just to nebulously push towards some ideal of perfection?

Push tonight and maybe that will make the difference — tomorrow too. And the day after that. As long as I am working to be better, I will finally get there and be happy right? No. Not really.

We work to get faster, stronger, fitter. Wthout comparison, quantitative or qualitative, that ideal will forever remain unfulfilled. And along the way we get so mired in our imperfections we forget to look up and see what we are working to be, might already be our reality. 

Unless we have a clear, honest, true definition of what better is, we will always be working towards something that doesn’t exist. If we only -er, we will always fail (and be pretty miserable in the process).

This goes for the rest of life too. We grind out work when we are past the point of exhaustion. We pull the all-nighter. We squeeze one more appointment, phone call, email, thing into our days. We chastise ourself for not making more, doing more, being more. We try to be smarter, richer, happier, more more more…

We goal-suck the joy right out of life.

Yes, Laura needs to eat more healthfully, move her body and lose some weight to be healthy. By doing so she will likely have a longer and happier life — but the concrete goals — the inspiration — come first and remain the focus.

Am I doing that? Did I need to push myself so much that night? Everyday?

How do we find the balance?

Missing the accomplishments for the all goals

The first step is to be clear with ourselves about what we are working towards. There is a forest of objectives out there to scale and summit to be “happy and fulfilled” in body, mind and spirit. There are millions of paths through that forest and everyone’s journey is different.

We must decide for ourselves what we want to achieve and, most importantly, be specific in those expectations of ourselves.

The balance comes by not getting so single-mindedly focused that we neglect to intentionally enjoy our journey. We should see where we are as much as where we want to go.

We must be kind to ourselves. We must treat ourselves like a friend. We tell her that she looks great. We give him hearty congratulations for the work completed. We give constructive criticism wrapped in good intentions.

Our friend might need a little encouragement or push now and then but never needs to be berated or punished for not living up to expectations.

How often do we do that to ourselves though? How often to we chastize ourselves for what we have done wrong instead of focusing on what we have and are doing right?

I have been trying to consciously shift my internal monologue to be more positive, encouraging and helpful. 

I am also trying to be more mindful and clear with myself about what I am pushing for. What am I actually trying to accomplish? What does that look and feel like?

How will I know when I’ve gotten there?

Be IN- not -ER

We often have a desire to of be “better” — faster, skinnier, richer, happier. It is a error to -er ourselves out of being content where we are. 

The -er is nebulous and will never be finished. Banish the -ers and instead be INtentional. 

Our goals can change. We can update our plans and desires. We can quit and go after something else. We can run through the finishes and set our sights on the next line. Yet we should always be mindful of where we are and what we are working towards. 

Be honest with ourselves about what we want and specific about how we intend to get it.

Be a good coach and friend to ourselves: always there with a pat on the back and “good job” for the small/big victories; encouraging that last bit of effort to succeed but not breaking our spirits.

Be mindful of what we have already done. Keep that list of victories and accomplishments close at hand and heart.

Be on a path towards fixed ideals AND enjoying the journey to get there.

INternal Check

Laura has her 100 pounds. What is my motivator and my goal?

Speaking to her reminded me to check in and recalibrate — my expectations, my intentions and my enjoyment level.

Kicking my own ass at the gym isn’t “fun” but I admit that I most often enjoy it. I certainly enjoy knowing that I am indeed more capable, stronger, and faster than I was 6 months or 2 years ago.

The -ers are comparisons to where I have been to where I am, not my expectations going forward. 


Looking up from my efforts I see realistically where I have been and realize I am happier with my body and how I feel. I can, from a place of accomplishment and pleasure, refocus on the why of future goals and with intention work towards them.

Thank you Laura for the reminder to fix my points of purpose.

Thank you Laura for reminding me how far I have come.

Thank you for getting me to look in the mirror and smile at myself as I would smile at a friend. 

Be IN always,

Jo Signature

Have you had a similar moment when you realize where you are, or what you have accomplished, after missing it in persuit of your goals? Need help banishing an -er from your life? Leave a comment – I read and respond to every one.

PS – I am a writer. (Just needed to say that to remind myself of where I am)

PPS – To get more of my writings sign up for emails for exclusive content and the latest from the CBB world.


Linkage: Unplugged Weekend Edition

A night for reading This week is going to be relatively light because I have been trying a little “unplugged” experiment since Friday…. Ok, ok — truthfully I finally cracked open and have gotten way into Chris Moore’s new book Sacre Bleu. After finding a new place to get a good cup of joe and read this afternoon, I’m anxious to head to a new pub with hopes to do the same. So in hopes that you find an unplugged way to spend the waning hours of this holiday Sunday or whatever day you find these links, I’ll be brief:

Intentional Enjoyment:

If you do watch one thing from the webs before heading off for fun, make it this animated reenactment of the incredible true story of how Pixar almost lost Toy Story 2 due to 4 keystrokes — and how it was recovered thanks to mommy working. (via @pourmecoffee)

Amazing, lovely old pictures of NYC (yay archives!)


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Finding the Part that Moves Us to Finish

(my ride with Katy Perry)

Earned GreaseTwo weekends ago, I finished an event I’ve had on my calendar and Journey List for over a year. Conquering the Athens to Savannah Double Century was a double victory.

12 hours before the start of ride– this event that I’ve been training and gearing up for steadfastly for the last six months– I was pretty sure I was going to have to quit before I started.

Forget carbo-loading, I was carbo-purging.

All plans and expectations were flushed.

From the jaws of defeat

I was felled by a wicked bug. Bed bound and completely drained, my evening edition headline reads: Microscopic triumphs over big, strong, trained self.

Athens to Savannah Bike JerseyBy grace of the Universe I awoke at 4am and was able to swallow down some toast. I packed my gear and collapsed back into bed. After a short, fitful nap I got up at 6:30, swallowed a little coffee, and rode out to the start.

Clammy, weak and unsettled, I mounted my trusty steed surrounded by 70 other riders but feeling very alone.

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Non-Taxing Linkage (4_15_12)

Runners high

Good Afternoon and happy should-be-tax-day-but-it-isn’t-because-as-harry-potter-knows-there-is-no-post-on-Sundays Day!

I feel like I could hurdle mini coopers if not mac trucks today. (maybe a little runner’s high) I’m facing a crazy busy week, have a majore deadline looming and am behind for getting distracted by this shiny and that fun… but I’m in a place where none of of my tasks and to-dos feel daunting.

I’m ever so thankful for the feeling and will continue to ride the crest as long as I am able.

I hope you feel similarly strong and capable today, relishing in the joy that is life. If not, maybe a little linkage (heavy on the inspirational) is just what is needed…


More epic than David versus Goliath, Carlos versus Cancer is by far the most inspiring, kick your ass story that I have read in recent memory. Thoughts go out to this fighter with thanks for the inspiration to fuel that spark within us all.

Dr. Seuss quotes that can change your life.

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