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Deal with Dementors — ⚡️M-School #2

This is M-School installment #2!  The first one lives here.

When you begin to back off on the shoulds that you’ve been feeding on, there will be varying degrees of chaos. If you aren’t pursuing that thing and those things and you admit that you no longer care about alllll that, you’re left with a bunch of dead, spindly creatures who haunt you like crazy.

Dementors.

Whether they take the form of something simple, like creating a social media account you have no interest in populating with stuff, or something far more complex, like creating a whole business around the things people said you should do “because you’re really good at them.”

Whether they led you to the wrong relationship or simply led you to the wrong yoga class, don’t beat yourself up about the time you’ve wasted.

Simply acknowledge the shoulds that you’ve shucked off, and then notice how they swirl around angrily when you take back your freaking power. They’ll never stop coming. They’ll grow wiser and more subtle with time, as they learn that you’re on to them.

And you, magical friend, will see them coming and do your level best to keep plucking them from your life and putting them in timeout.

Other activities will rush in like the waters moving to high tide, pushing and pushing you to either revive the dead creatures or to invite more into your life. Compromise will run strong, like letting your Twitter feed post to Facebook instead of simply deleting the account. Maybe marriage counseling will take the 8th time you try, or maybe cheese will stop giving you diarrhea if you only eat it on Tuesdays.  At 7:32 p.m..

The dead shoulds — dementors — are wily and devious and desperately want you to stay linked to a half life.

It’s your job to make space. To actively cultivate rooms in your emotional interiors (closely related: internal goals) where ideas and dreams and pursuits can begin to grow, without letting the dementors of all your dead shoulds morph into similar-but-different pursuits.

Making space is the hardest part.

The dementors will immediately want to replace your thigh gap aspirations with a new *healthy* organic gluten-free sugar-free vegan diet, and your 7-figure business aspirations with a mere high six-figure income and a house in the Bahamas, and your complete lack of giving a shit about makeup with a newfound interest in moisturizer and skincare instead.

Making space means you recognize these dead, spindly creatures’ respective grips on your heart.

Making space means you can see that the vegan diet will only replace constant exercise as a means of striving for perfection, or that the peace you seek isn’t tied to money, or that your skin really is fine without a 43-minute nightly routine.

It’s your job to give yourself the time and resources for absolutely nothing to happen.

Clearing the rubble of the shoulds takes time, and it’s far more important for you to see the dementors at work than to plop new dreams into the soil and hope they take.

If you don’t make space, you can’t make peace with all the ways unicorn blood has had its way with you. You’ll simply fall victim to the dementors instead, and that will be far worse.

Making peace comes after making space.

Of course, when you make space, the dementors will get INFINITELY louder. Infinitely, like, you’ll have nightmares in which your life implodes due to your decision to stop making a product, stop offering a service, draw boundaries around your time or your business, or otherwise let space for the next thing to appear actually exist.  (Related: Space is a class for breaking up with your phone!)

You’ll have REALLY GREAT IDEAS that you would have killed for a month ago, but that are no use to you once you’ve decided to give up [that thing you used to do] forever.

Personally, my dementors have tortured me with dreams about being far, far under the ocean and watching the waves crash down while I’m in a glass house, hoping like hell that the glass holds because a crack in it means instant death. They’ve also left me stranded on the sides of roads in the dark in foreign nations, and my relationships have fallen apart in my nightmares, and I’ve felt horribly, utterly alone and have come back from the dream in tears.

It’s just the dementors, doing their best to keep me from making it to the peace beyond them.

Peace comes from sitting with the space you’ve made on car rides and between rounds of checking email, fiercely guarding the rooms where dreams are made.

One day peace will hit when you’ll realize you really don’t want 14 hours of each day to be scheduled, which is the other side of the 7-figure business, and you really can’t stand fake cheese because you miss the real thing, so why would you ever have tried that vegan diet?

Whatever it is that seemed so alluring will suddenly, swiftly, lose its appeal entirely. Forever. And you’ll have killed another dementor for good.

My own (waking) dementors in business have included, but are not limited to:

+ Making a collective out of my business instead of keeping it a solo endeavor in order to seem more friendly,
+ creating a giant, scalable group program that will make me millions at once in order to never have to worry about money again,
+ launching programs with flare, verve, intense energy, videos, jazz hands, and copious amounts of sales pressure in order to drive numbers up,
+ hiring a team to grow the business in order to be seen as a ‘team player,’
+ keeping an expensive but secluded office outside my home in order to seem more professional,
+ and avoiding swear words and personal stories on the blog — again, in order to seem more professional.

To be clear: these dead shoulds are a far cry from the projects I’ve undertaken with wholehearted enthusiasm and then biffed on or messed up or otherwise bungled. There are plenty of those, but at least they came from the deep parts of myself that needed to try or they might have imploded.

Shoulds brought to their fullest manifestation don’t provide any deep-seated fulfillment or meaning, because they were never your dreams to begin with.

It’s only after you achieve a few that you can begin to identify their patterns, see them more clearly, and otherwise call them out as they approach your to-do list.

Dementor patterns at work:

– That seems awful, but it works for her.
– I hate [insert social media platform here], but ______ says I should.
– She seems to be really good at getting people to buy using that app/plugin/trick/technique, so I’ll use that, too.
– Nothing is working so I guess I’ll try his/her way?
– I *hate* doing this, but it’s the only way.
– He/she/they will like me if I _________, so I’ll start _______ing.

Once you’ve hunted down your dead shoulds, it’s up to you to remember.

Remember who you were before you bought into someone else’s ideas for your best life.

You know what to do. You know that time is your currency and that being scheduled for the next six months, day in and day out, physically gives you hives, so you stop trying to pack each day with unlimited productivity. You know that you’re horrible at DIY technical things, so you stop trying to do it yourself. You know that you’re not a team player, so you pursue your solo projects with renewed joy instead of trying to hire a bunch of people who don’t drive you crazy.

You stop doing it all yourself because you know you need help. You do it all yourself because actually, you love doing it and you have the time. (Both have been the case for me, at different times over the past nine years.)

You have seasons.
Your life has seasons.
Your business has seasons.

The ‘shoulds,’ dead or alive, don’t have a place in any of those seasons.

They divert your time, energy, and money to places you’d rather not go. Real life example: I’m terrified of Tokyo’s subway — like watching videos of the pusher people designed to shove more humans onto the cars makes me break out in a sweat — and so I’m not going to use my resources to go to Tokyo. I’m not giving my days or dollars or daily steps to Tokyo. Ever.

Tokyo is easy for me to deny. You’ve probably got a similar place that zero percent appeals to you even though you generally enjoy travel. The trouble is, we often end up taking our businesses to Tokyo. We trust people who have taken up the mantle of workaholism, who peek into our social media streams or inboxes periodically to say, “Hey, you can do this, too,” and we follow them to places that give us the heebie jeebies without ever stopping to say, “This doesn’t feel right,” or “I’m tired and I don’t want to go anymore,” or even, “WHY DON’T WE TAKE A FUCKING BREAK.” We let ourselves be blinded by increased dollars or followers or press or all three. We forget our reasons for being in business, then find ourselves jammed on the Tokyo subway, wondering how we’re going to survive the experience when the dude with white gloves comes over to push one more life hack down our throats.

Quick! Make a list of the dementors you’re still fighting.

If you’re having trouble, here are some fill-in-the-blanks:

I used to want to make ___________, but really I want to make ___________ and maybe even _________.

I don’t care about ______________anymore.

I spent ______________ years pursuing __________, and that’s done now.

When I feel like a failure, I beat myself up with ______________________’s success.

I’m tempted to abandon my work and take up _____________________ when my dementors come out.

You’re not allowed to beat yourself up for the dementors’ existence, or to wonder why you’ve been blind to them for so long, or to make yourself wrong for having any dementors at all.

We all have dementors. We all fight them.

Much like shame can’t survive being seen and heard, dementors can’t survive being acknowledged and called out. So call ’em out, friend.

Set a timer for 20 minutes and write about ’em, even if it makes no sense and everything that comes out is garbled junk. This is for processing, not for showing to anyone for any reason, ever.

Then rejoice!  Dementor deaths are actively making room for cool shit to follow.  Promise.

P.S. This is an episode of my podcast, That’s What She Said!  Listen in below or catch up on all the episodes here.

Don’t drink the unicorn blood (and put down that horcrux). ⚡️M-School #1

What can you learn about business from Harry Potter? You'd be surprised. If you're looking for business advise outside the usual business tips, this blog post is for you! #harrypotter #businessadvice

Welcome to M-School, magic school for entrepreneurs! I’ll happily read this to you in podcast form, or you can scroll to your heart’s content below.

The guys next to us on the highway are hanging out of the truck and wildly gesticulating at the front tire. They look more than a little panicked and the wheel appears to be smoking, so we pull over. I calmly open water bottle after water bottle, handing them across the front seat, while he douses the flaming wheel over and over again. (The kids are wrapped up in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban — Buckbeak is about to be terminated, rendering the vehicle fire a minor disturbance.) The truck has to be towed. Its passengers have to be transported separately to the garage for repairs.

The mechanic who’s driving us is clearly intimidated by the presence of a pink-haired woman, three children, and a dog dressed in her finest Mrs. Claus outfit, so we don’t talk much. I take a look around.

The car’s gas gauge doesn’t read Full or Empty and doesn’t include any fractions. It reads, “Distance to E.”

OH HOLY SHIT.

What if, instead of measuring our daily energy based on whether or not we’re merely awake, we honestly gauged our Distance to E each morning?

What if we woke up, stretched our arms wide, and felt it…372 miles. 30 miles. 3 miles. A quarter mile. 100 yards. 3 yards. Fuck it, I’m going back to bed.

What if we viewed our energy levels not as something we should always have more of, regardless of the weather, how much we’ve slept, what we’ve eaten, or what we have scheduled, but as a daily gas tank reading? Without judgement, without making one number better than any other? What if we tuned in to the animal parts of our bodies enough to take in the facts?

Your Distance to E changes daily.

Around the holidays, which are heavy with obligation, we all end up with fewer miles in the tank. When we go and go and go and go, ignoring our Distance to E readings repeatedly, we end up running on fumes, bitter and awkward and resentful of everyone we meet.

We pretend rest is the reward for our hard work instead of what makes the hard work possible.

Show me a human who rests when it’s necessary, sprinting when possible, and I’ll show you someone who’s 89% more likely to be further along five years from now than someone who is committed to sprinting faster and faster and faster every day with no regard for energy burned.

People who have learned to rest are to be revered. (And how fucked up is that? People who sleep, who acknowledge their limits, who take the time to say they’re tired, write bestselling books about the revolutionary new way they’re doing business.)

Your Distance to E is not a measure of your worth as a human.

It’s like a temperature reading. Everyone has preferred temperatures and more comfortable weather ranges, but we humans only have preferences. There is no universally perfect temperature, just as there is no universally preferred Distance to E in our respective tanks.

Some people want to ski, and some want to spend their whole lives in bikinis, and these two souls will never agree on an ideal daily temperature. Some people want to sprint like jackrabbits, and some people want to soak up the more subtle moments available on any given day. Fine. So long as we all agree that going as fast as you can for as long as you can with no breaks, rest, or thought for sustainably is not the ideal, we’ll call everyone right.

Getting in touch with your Distance to E is a helpful, completely free, and absolutely wonderful tool for your business.

It means you wake up, give yourself a few minutes, and ask, “How much fuel is in the tank?” If you slept poorly, had bad dreams, haven’t yet recovered from yesterday’s shitty circumstances, are consumed with dread for a meeting, or don’t want to work, you’ll have less fuel in the tank than on those days when you’ve eaten like a champion, hydrated well, and slept like a rock.

Again: your Distance to E is not a measure of your worth as a human.

It’s simply a measure of how much you can expect to accomplish on any given day. Patterns emerge over time. Scheduling your work day based on these patterns can be amazingly helpful.

I schedule my days based on how much energy I can manage on a 3-miles-in-the-tank day. With 30 miles in the tank, I can bang out far more than I’ve scheduled, but I only bank on the bare minimum of gas in the tank. For me, that’s a scheduled morning, typically from 9am to noon, with add-on tasks of varying length up for completion in the afternoon. Your zone of genius might be before dawn, or after lunch, or just before bed, or every Tuesday all day long because you work best in batches. Your preferences for the ways you spend your fuel and the scheduled tasks you take on are, again, not a measure of your worth as a human.

Life circumstances make for varying fuel levels.

Mothers of newborns aren’t capable of accomplishing as much as the average 24-year-old women in perfect health, simply because having no sleep and spotty meals and no time to yourself as you suckle a child takes way more fuel from the tank than sleeping well and solidly for eight hours at a clip before waking quietly to enjoy some alone time over a smoothie. That’s not a judgement of either person. It’s simply life circumstances writ large across the Distance to E.

Being honest about the fuel we’ve got renders us more capable of enjoying our lives.

2-mile days in which you use 1.8 miles’ worth of fuel are enjoyable. 2-mile days in which you try to push through 12 miles are a disaster every time.

Further. Since I’ve already introduced Harry Potter into the mix. Let’s talk unicorn blood.

We know that Voldemort famously consumed unicorn blood to keep him alive, but it doomed him to a half-life, rendering him incapable of feeling love or of making meaning ever again.

What if we acknowledged all the should’s in our lives for what they really are: unicorn blood.

Bear and I got home from the burning truck fire and Miles to E fiasco, only to turn on the TV and be bombarded with the obligatory After-Christmas-Now-It’s-The-New-Year ads that remind you of your many flaws.

You should be skinnier/more toned/hotter/generally more fuckable.

You should be focused on a new year, new you. Details vary, but this means you should buy different foods or cut out a food group or invest in goji berry stocks or find an 85th use for chia seeds in your life.

You should be more productive/better at time management/more capable of accomplishing in 7 hours what most people accomplish in 7 weeks, all while sporting selfie-friendly make-up.

You should focus on better SEO, or increased sales, or more effective marketing, or doubling — no wait, quintupling! — your business or your income or your Instagram following.

The list never ends, and the ways in which you’re coming up short are so much louder at the New Year than at any other time in modern civilization.

Those messages are made of unicorn blood: endless ‘should’s designed to keep you measuring the relative perfection of your life circumstances and coming up short.

Should’s steal your energy, render your life meaningless, and lead to endless frustration with your life as it currently stands.

Only.

More money does not equal more worth.

More cabbage and lemon water dieting does not equal more health.  (But talking to Aimee Derbes might.)

More marketing does not equal more truth, more meaning, or even more money.

More grandiose resolutions do not equal more sustainable actions.

Should’s are the modern, non-magic equivalent of drinking unicorn blood, dooming you to live a half life from the moment you buy into them.

You don’t need 384 sex moves to use tonight and six-pack abs and a bigger house and a better car and an SEO expert and eighty-four thousand Instagram followers and a multi-six figure business to live a better life. Period.

Really. PERIOD.

No exceptions. You don’t need that shit. You can decide you want that shit, absolutely, but let it be because you really truly deep down want it, not because an ad finally broke you down and convinced you that your thigh gap is nigh.

Further into this Harry Potter metaphor, there are the horcruxes. In Voldemort-ian terms, these are pieces of the soul that have been infused into objects, rendering the maker of the horcrux incapable of being fully killed. You take a little piece of your soul and place it in a locket, and boom! Someone stabs you but they haven’t killed the locket, so you’re still technically alive.

In our everyday world, horcruxes are pieces of your happiness that you’ve tied up in stuff. You’ve given your happiness to an outside circumstance and given up hope of reclaiming it until the thing appears. For example.

You’ll be happy when you have:

Clearer skin.

Smaller thighs.

Newer wallpaper, fresh curtains, cleaner floors, and more organized shelves.

384 sex moves that blow his mind.

One hundred more followers.

Ten thousand more dollars. Or ten thousand more subscribers or copies sold or…you get the idea.

Each one of those desires is in some way tied to a horcrux: the promise of happiness, elsewhere, on the other side of possessing one tweaked life condition.

Unfortunately, happiness horcruxes are made of lies. You can go on an infinitely difficult quest to find and conquer each one — drinking from the poisoned shell, gulping down every last bit of vitriol in an attempt to grasp the happiness it promises — and I can guarantee that you’ll come up empty.

You’ll love yourself just as much with new wallpaper as you did with the old.

Those one hundred new followers will feel identical to the hundred before them.

Horcruxes and unicorn blood are external factors.

They’re only valuable in so much as they help you generate internal results.

In so far as those 384 sex moves that blow his mind deepen intimacy with your partner, they’re great.

In so far as the followers help you earn more income, thus rendering you capable of pursuing your life’s calling, they’re fucking miraculous.

But in and of themselves, taken outside the larger context of your life? They’re absolutely useless.

Just messy entrails stolen from a once-magical creature, now dead.

Everyday objects infused with way more power than they deserve.

What if, this year, you refuse to drink the unicorn blood of all those should’s?

What if you stop giving the happiness horcruxes any power?

What if you focus on a pursuit that calls to you, body and soul?

What if you find, refine, and actually USE your voice?

In practical terms, that means taking a good look at all the should’s that stop you from doing cool shit. All the ways you worry about what other people think that keep you from doing amazing work or eating wonderful foods or dancing your ass off or quitting that social media platform or making stuff you absolutely adore.

Because I can tell you. My face used to be riddled with acne, and at the peak of its horror, when I was sure I couldn’t be any more hideous, I met the love of my life. (I do not use the word hideous lightly. I’m quoting my past self verbatim when I use it.)

I’ve gained weight since meeting Bear, and even more weight since my thyroid was like NAH I’M OUT FUCK THIS NOISE. My thighs are wibbly and my arms have cellulite, which I didn’t even know was possible. According to the unicorn blood salespeople, I should be on the verge of suicide. I HAVE WIBBLY BITS. I HATE THE GYM AND HAVE NEVER DONE A P90X WORKOUT. I DON’T CHECK MY GOOGLE ANALYTICS OR OPTIMIZE MY SEO ON A REGULAR BASIS.

Who the fuck cares.

Deeply focusing on being in relationship — on loving well, and often, and with all of me — is far more important than the size of my thighs right now. (Also meeting and learning to care for three kids on and off is no joke.)

Sure, I “should” go to the gym, and I “should” eat more greens, and I “should” give way more attention to my business than I have in the past year.

But that’s some serious unicorn blood waiting to be consumed.

The truth is, I’m happiest doing yoga at home — not at the gym, which smells like feet and ball sweat made an oddly sickening sock baby. I eat greens when my body asks for them. My business is doing what I want it to do without my spending 70/80/127 hours a week working on it.

I might weigh almost 200 pounds, but goddamn.

I’m listening to the whispers.

The deep, quiet whispers mean I’ve given up alcohol and dairy in the past year — not because I “should,” but because my body finally managed to communicate the message clearly enough for me to hear it.

I’ve been writing and making more than ever, not because I decided to participate in a revolutionary 30-day program that will change my whole life forever and ever, but because it feels better to make than to hold back any more of my voice.

The deepest, quietest whispers say things about telling the truth, vulnerability, and pursuing the moments and spaces in my life that feel holy.

You’re perfectly capable of listening to the deepest, quietest whispers within you. (Spoiler alert: they’ll probably whisper to you about truth, and vulnerability, and making holy spaces in your life, too.)

When you stop giving into the should’s that say you should lose ten pounds (or 15 or 20 or 85), or you should work harder and more, or less and less, or at all; when you stop telling yourself that you should spend more time with your kids, or homeschool them or unschool them or get them into more extracurriculars so they can go to an Ivy League school; when you stop beating yourself up about the shit you don’t — but inexplicably feel you should — care about…

When you can see the unicorn blood in the vial, pulsing with promise, and decide not to drink it.

When you can see the happiness horcruxes you’ve made, and refuse to give them any more power.

When you’re brave enough to be with your own desires. To listen to your own whispers. To say the truth out loud, with or without a thigh gap.

You’ll have everything you need, without making a single resolution or spending a single dime.

You’ve been enjoying the first lesson in M-School, my magic school for entrepreneurs!

This course used to cost dollars but now it’s free, because I can give it away like BOOM.  If you dig it, please pick up a breathwork session and go deeper into your own interiors so you can uncover even more of your greatest talents and magics and lovely shiny bits.

Also!  Pictured, you’ll see Stella the amazing lovely dogicorn who belongs to Nick McArthur.  NOPE I didn’t get a new dog.  😉

P.S. Magic often feels like broken.  M-School Episode 2, Deal with Dementors, lives here.

Of course we deserve it.

Some part of us thinks we have to earn love, pay our dues for joy, atone for pleasure, and work off the french fries with a thousand sit-ups in order to deserve them. We think we have to scrimp on spending and double our work hours to ‘earn’ a vacation, or put in our dues and hate life for a period of years before we’re ‘allowed’ to enjoy our businesses.

We just don’t think we deserve the good stuff.

BUT OF COURSE WE DESERVE IT.

You would never bat joy out of kids’ hands when they discover lightning bugs or she learns that markers come in colors *AND* smells AND ISN’T BLUEBERRY THE BEST!????

You wouldn’t even consider denying your dog a big bowl of leftovers because he just hasn’t worked hard enough today.

You would never, ever tell your best friend she has to save up for at least 4 (or 5 or maybe 6 — no, 7!) more years before she ‘deserves’ a vacation.

But those kids haven’t earned those lightning bugs!

They haven’t filled out the appropriate Universal Forms For Weighing Consumption of Goods and Resources Versus the Right To Experience Lightning Bugs. They haven’t *earned* the right to watch bugs light up their butts and douse them in the wonder and joy of the universe.

They don’t *deserve* that wonder and joy any more or less than any of us do.

Which is to say, we all deserve it.

 firefly GIF

There is no one, anywhere, whose sole job it is to tell us that we have ‘earned’ whatever it is we want, so for some reason we all assume we just haven’t earned it yet.

This is especially tragic because most of us want reasonable things like morning coffee, a few quiet minutes a day, good books to read, and to remember about deep breathing when the people we love make us crazy. Plus a few trips a year because travel feeds our souls like nothing else.

What if I make it my job, today, to tell you that you deserve it — whatever it is, and however it wants to take shape in the world?

You’re worthy of your desires.

You deserve the warm embrace of joy and laughter wherever you find it.

Your whole body longs for the ocean because you deserve the ocean, and you ache to travel because you deserve to see new things and experience new places and new people and soak in the mystery of being alive.

You cannot earn a summer day.

You cannot work your way to being worthy of stillness and quiet. You will never, ever deserve to browse that bookstore in Paris in the late afternoon.

Not because you need to try harder, but because those things are already available to you — right now — and they are not matters of worthiness but of embracing your humanity.

The soft wind, the beating heart, the smell of books on the second floor. You don’t have to earn a single one.

Your commitment to your work, your family, your interiors, your depths, and/or your waistline will not pay dividends of worthiness.

You’re already worthy.

You’re invited to the party, and your invitation is the sun shining and the wind blowing and the neighborhood kids gathering their towels for another long day of swimming and hoping the ice cream truck makes a stop on the sidewalk before bedtime.

You’re worthy.

 

You’re worthy,

you’re worthy,

you’re worthy.

 

You deserve to be here. You deserve to be alive. You deserve to do the divine dance of living on this planet.

You deserve joy and wonder and delight not because you’ve put in your time or earned your points or have sheer-undiluted-slog currency to trade in for something better.

You deserve the best of life simply because you’re breathing, and you’re allowed to keep breathing by the grace of we-know-not-what for another day.

You’re allowed to take up space.

You’re allowed to want more.

You’re allowed to let life be simpler and fuller and richer than you can possibly imagine.

You’re allowed.

Period, full stop, end of story.

You’re allowed.

 

That means you’re allowed to sense the sparkle, hold the sale, quit the Facebook, make a marketing calendar, call to the deep, embrace your introverted nature, or reclaim your energy right this minute.

That means you don’t have to double your income or triple your business before you ‘deserve’ the workshop or the break.

That means you can write the book or give an alpaca an ice cream cone or read some poetry right this second, just because.

You’re allowed. And you deserve it.

With all my love —

K

P.S. Magic often feels like broken.