You’re Invited + Bonus Confession

Hi friends!

Who’s in for a 40-day adventure with me? Don’t hesitate too long—because it starts tomorrow! You know you want to…

Oh yes, where are we going? What are we doing?

We’re on a chase…running after this question:

How can we better understand our own story–and others’–to encourage healing and growth?

Admittedly I’ve become increasingly obsessed with this question. From interviewing hundreds around the world–from survivors of trafficking, to Syrian refugees, to other entrepreneurs from Havana to Charlotte–I’ve seen how something shores-up in us when we discover more of our story–our struggle, courage and hope–and share it with others. Healing and growth gets ignited, solidarity gets sparked. And who doesn’t want more of that!

I do. I know I need it. So, I invite you to join me in chasing down more of it. Tomorrow I’ll layout the 40 day plan in more detail (teaser: designed for a daily 5 min read or video + 5 min reflection). There will likely be a combination of neuroscience and New Girl Gifs and beautiful questions and [more than] a few confessions.

Speaking of confessions, last year I set out on a 40-day adventure on the Power of Story…and I stalled out around Day 26 or Day 27. Smack in the middle of this Lenten Journey–this Story Adventure–my heart got broken. I found myself in a desert, parched without words. I wish I could have written through it…finished my forty in forty. But I didn’t. So this feel risky–inviting you on a journey I pray to God I’ll make myself.

And yet..there was–is, always–grace. That is really what this adventure is about. We are all invited into an epic adventure where we get to heal and grow. We get to experience it for ourselves, encourage it in others and be reminded–by the grace of God–we don’t journey alone.

So…who’s in? (You know you want to…)

Parting shots:

“For last years words belong to last years language, and next years words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
-T.S. Elliot

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.” Nelson Mandela

Cheers to that!

Cheers to having a box! Day 2 of 12 Days of Story [for the Unexpected Life]

Happy Boxing Day, friends!

 

“Put me in box, please.” Words never spoken by me…until today.

 

I am not a fan of limitations…or the word No…or the concept of wait. And don’t you dare try to box me in.

 

Yet…something is shifting in this Unexpected Life.

 

I have all the labels to say a box is not my natural habitat. In Myers Brigg’s terms, I’m a P (aka, keep my options open, please). On the Enneagram I’m a 7 (Enthusiast), a glutton for all life has to offer. With Strength Finders I am a Futurist teamed with Positivity. And the future tells me out of the box is good.

 

Yet…

 

Today I got the keys to my flat in Charlotte. Next week I will meet movers in Colorado and officially begin the process of reuniting with my belongings. My furniture and art and half used toiletries have patiently waited in storage for 4 ½ years…waited until my life had a bit more limits again.

 

As I think about this new box of Home—with its word Stay and its concept of Here and Now, I am energized.

 

In the past 4 ½ I have worked on 5 continents and over 20 countries…and I’m a bit tired. There is a great deal of research regarding the power constraints have on creativity. It’s curiously liberating. I’ve witnessed this in Cuba, being an island of artists creating in the midst of the challenges from a Communist Party and a US embargo. I’ve seen this in the Middle East and Europe–how refugees personalized touches of home in their UN issued tents with only a few possessions they had carried across mountains and seas.

 

I believe roots can make for a strong launching pad. Boxes can keep you in order or carry you safely from one place to another. And as the Hebrew Scriptures’ most famous poet and songwriter wrote, “I run free within the limits of the law.” (Psalm 119:32). Limits can offer any free-spirit a haven, if they’re the right limits.

 

So my question for you is: What box in your life is serving you well? Or how could you benefit from having one?

 

Cheers to good boxes…may the ones we find ourselves in ultimately free our creativity and give us energy!

 

 

The 12 days of Story [for the Unexpected Life]

Joyous holidays, dear friends!

 

On this day designed for surprises, a few realities have come into sharp focus: 1) How God caught the world off guard, showing up in skin with the voice of a baby; 2) How every angel trying to give someone a heads-up about God’s coming initially freaked the person out; and 3) How unexpected my life has been.

 

I recently heard someone say there are no good surprises after you’re a kid. Once you age out of the joy of the unknown, you’re simply left with the feeling of being out of control.

 

It’s my 5th Christmas as an entrepreneur, and not a day goes by without reminders of what I cannot control. So…I am praying for greater joy in the surprises.

 

I love how Abraham Joshua Heschel summed himself up: “I have one talent, and that is the capacity to be tremendously surprised, surprised at life, at ideas. This is to me the supreme Hasidic imperative: Don’t be old. Don’t be stale.”

 

As we celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas, I can’t resist reflecting on my Unexpected Life for the next 12 days and invite you to do the same. Let’s end the year bemused and amazed that our own stories can still surprise us…in the best of ways.

 

And to begin…here’s A Christmas Blessing by John O’Donohue…and a reminder that we too have angels, coming not to freak us out but to invite us to courage.

 

“May the Angels in their beauty bless you.
May they turn toward you streams of blessing.
May the Angel of Awakening stir your heart
To come alive to the eternal within you,
To all the invitations that quietly surround you.
May the Angel of Healing turn your wounds
Into sources of refreshment.
May the Angel of the Imagination enable you
To stand on the true thresholds,
At ease with your ambivalence
And drawn in new direction
Through the glow of your contradictions.
May the Angel of Compassion open your eyes
To the unseen suffering around you.
May the Angel of Wildness disturb the places
Where your life is domesticated and safe,
Take you to the territories of true otherness
Where all that is awkward in you
Can fall into its own rhythm.
May the Angel of Eros introduce you
To the beauty of your senses
To celebrate your inheritance
As a temple of the holy spirit.
May the Angel of Justice disturb you
To take the side of the poor and the wronged.
May the Angel of Encouragement confirm you
In worth and self-respect,
That you may live with the dignity
That presides in your soul.
May the Angel of Death arrive only
When your life is complete
And you have brought every given gift
To the threshold where its infinity can shine.
May all the Angels be your sheltering
and joyful guardians.”

 

May you be surprised by joy in your Unexpected Life,

Tam

“Don’t eat alone.” And other sage advice humpback whales gave me.

At a critical point in life I got schooled by some humpback whales. To this day I’m still learning to take their advice.

 

It was a July day four years ago when I found myself dashing to the side of a boat, slip-sliding and fumbling for my phone. Awe had seemed to seize my muscles. Words wouldn’t form but our boat was awash with ooohs and awwws.

 

While boating along the Kenai Peninsula we had happened upon a group of humpback whales bubble net feeding. These humpbacks were in a circle jumping, splashing, looking like they were playing a children’s game. I was witnessing divine magic.

 

Yet, this wasn’t play. It was a survival skill…and a raucous feast. This practice of bubble net feeding is apparently a learned skill, not a natural habit. They come together to blow bumbles to trap schools of fish. (Here’s a fabulous short video explaining how it works.)

 

The popular theory is that they decided to not eat alone after being hunted to almost extinction. By coming together and creating this net of bumbles they increase their odds of all eating.

 

As I mentioned, I witnessed this four years ago.  At the beginning of that summer I had shoved my belongings in storage to see if I could design a non-traditional career for a season. I had headed off to Cuba to chase a story and explore independent filmmaking. I also led a service trip to Haiti and then set off to Alaska to lead another one.

 

I had no idea what I was in for. When I filled that storage unit on that Memorial Day weekend I thought I’d retrieve my belongings by Labor Day and have a traditional career sorted out again.

 

Four years later, a traditional career seems like a distant memory. To be quite candid, my career was never traditional in the type of work, but I did have a salary and benefits. What I had back then was a sense of job security, financial security, and frankly false security.

 

Swimming in these “non-traditional career” waters has been challenging—ok, heart-pounding scary at times. More than once I have felt on the brink of extinction…out on my own as a humpback whale trying to live off of minnows.

 

The gig economy can be so isolating. The entrepreneurial world can seem like shark infested waters. Going solo can feel like being hunted.

 

But when I’ve remembered “not to eat alone” I have been able to do what I couldn’t on my own. During this time I have had the opportunity to work on multiple continents, meet remarkable people, tell some incredible stories and co-found two companies.

 

When I have circled up with others, I have been energized, nourished and at times it has felt like divine magic.

 

The phrase that keeps coming back to me is this:

 

Community creates capacity.

 

I can’t help writing about this again and again because it feels like my survival depends on it. And while I gain energy with people and love to collaborate, I still try “to eat alone” way too much these days. Without the structure of an office and the rhythm of a team, I can forget the power of community.

 

So I’m learning to ask myself: What’s one thing I can do to create community today?

 

Today, it’s writing this blog and asking YOU what you do to not eat alone? How are you creating community?

 

Do tell.

 

And feel free to share any advice you’ve gotten from humpback whales or other creatures.

Page 2 of 2112345...1020...Last »