We Are All Students

Back in 2015, author Elizabeth Gilbert shared this on Facebook, and it was so good, I felt I needed to pass it along. She wrote . . .


Dear ones,

My friend, pastor Rob Bell, once gave me this beautiful piece of advice, which I will now pass on to you.

He said that, whenever he starts to beat himself up for not being good enough at life, he simply writes this on his hand — STUDENT — and reminds himself to look at that word several times a day, and to meditate upon it.

He said that that one word — STUDENT — is his best defense against self-abuse, shame, perfectionism, failure, and regret. Whenever he fails himself, or falls short of his ideals, or doesn’t know how to handle a complicated situation, he just looks at that word — STUDENT — and then gently allows for self-forgiveness. Because we are all just students, after all.

We are all new at this.

We’ve never been here before — in these bodies, in this lifetime, in this world. We don’t always know how to handle things in the best way. We don’t want to suffer, but we don’t always know how to avoid it. We long for closeness and peace in our relationships, but we haven’t necessarily learned, yet, how to find it. We want meaning, but lose sight of it. We want revelation and transcendence, but don’t always know how to reach for it.

But we are learning.

We are always in the process of learning — and it’s not fair to expect that people who are in the process of learning should automatically always get things right. Nobody always gets things right during the learning process.

Elizabeth Gilbert

That’s okay.

We are merely students, after all, and students –by definition– are not masters. We will be students for as long as we live. We wake up every day, and take a deep breath, and go back to school in the world all over again. That’s what dedicated students do. Every. Single. Day.

This morning, I felt like I really needed the reminder.

So, I got out a Sharpie, and wrote the word across the palm of my right hand — my stronger hand — which I can then lay across my heart throughout the day, with hopes that the message will sink in: “It’s okay. You’re doing your best. You’re still learning.”

Onward,

Liz Gilbert


Renewing My Creativity

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be an Artist when I grew up. I loved to draw, to color, to paint, and to make up stories. My Dad was a sketch artist for the local police department, and my Mom always loved to do crafts, doodle, and design, too. So, I came by this creative spark naturally.

However, when I was in grade eleven, I took an independent learning course in Graphic Design. And when I handed in a particular drawing project, my teacher sent it back with the comment that I “draw like a 2-year-old“. Being insecure enough already, I took that comment to heart, and I let it squash all of my dreams of pursuing a career in the arts.

I went on to take Office Administration in college, then got married and had kids, very shortly thereafter. As such, my art got pushed mostly into the background. I still liked to doodle, but it was no longer my focus (my kids filled that role).

Around 2015, with my kids getting older — both in their teens — I started finding more time for myself, and I decided I should start seeking out others who also love to be creative.

I ended up seeing a flyer at the local library, advertising an upcoming Art Journaling class for women, and I decided that’d be a good place to start. So, I signed up.

At first, I’d thought it was going to only be the one class — a 2-hour gathering. As it turned out, however, the class was once-a-month for the entire year!

My creativity was going to be renewed!

Through that Art Journaling class, I discovered that I love sitting down to be creative — painting, drawing, doodling … even Zentangling! I can lose myself for hours in my creative messes.

Here are a few of the things I created:

Each month in the class, we had a “theme” word — for example, Magical, Courage, Imagine…

I really enjoyed that class, and loved getting to know the artsy ladies in the group, as well. I even got invited, by one of them, to go speak on creativity to her quilter’s group! So fun!

I would love to know . . .

DO YOU MAKE TIME FOR YOUR CREATIVITY? HOW SO? WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MEDIUM, SO FAR?

Joyful Marketing

As a new entrepreneur, back in 2013, I really had no idea what I was doing. So, I sought out all of the information I could get my hands on. I followed all the “experts”, so I could learn how to be successful at doing business online.

I certainly learned a lot. Yet, something always felt “off”.

In 2017, my friend, George Kao, published a short –but, wonderful!– eBook called, “Authentic Content Marketing“. It’s full of practical tips for how to let go of the usual methods of marketing, and for how to adopt authentic marketing practices.

Upon first reading George’s book, I absolutely loved it, and his ideas deeply resonated with me. I 100% bought into what he was saying — at least, in my heart. Yet, in my head, I was skeptical.

I feared that if I didn’t do what the mainstream marketing ‘experts’ said to do, I wouldn’t be successful, nor would I make the money I so desperately needed. As such, George’s method was just too risky for me to try; I needed a “safer” option.

But here I am, 3+ years later, and I’m little better off than I was.

Am I saying the ‘experts’ are wrong? No, not necessarily. I’m simply saying that it seems what works for them doesn’t work for me.

I’ve tried their methods. I’ve watched the webinars, signed up for the trainings, read the books, watched the videos, and I’ve done my best to implement what I’ve learned. That is, until recently…

I’ve been diving into why I have so much resistance to certain things. And I found my answer: These “traditional” marketing methods just don’t fit with my values and my preferred way of doing things.

So, I’m giving them up, and I’m opting for a more intuitive and organic approach. No more scarcity, or fear-based marketing. No more sales funnels designed to lead people to a purchase. No more cleverly-designed opt-in “freebies” used as bait, just to get an email address for my mailing list.

Now, I still believe in learning from others, obviously — I do it all the time! Yet, there comes a point where you know enough (the basics), and you just need to do what works for you.

And, part of this is trial & error. I had to try the other methods in order to know what does and doesn’t work for me (and, in the process, I found my own North Star!).

When you align what you do with who you are, business (and marketing!) becomes joyful, and you begin to really come alive!

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Why Knowledge Isn’t Enough

I’ve been an avid reader since I was a teen. For a while, in my twenties, I was even known to most online as “MizB” (short for “Mizbooks”).

I started off being mainly a fiction reader (stories). In 2005, however, my tastes started shifting over to non-fiction… and now, I really don’t read much fiction at all. I soak up knowledge like a sponge! I love personal development, Christian living, heath & wellness, plus books on marketing and small business.

Yet, something I am beginning to realize is that consuming knowledge isn’t enough. We have to actually apply what we’ve learned — otherwise, what’s the point? If we consume, consume, consume, but never apply, how is that really benefitting us?

And worse still, aren’t we, in some ways, robbing others of the insights they could have — via our unique viewpoint — regarding what we have learned? (These are the kinds of thoughts that run through my head, anyway).

So, how do you go about applying what you’ve read to your everyday life? Well, here are a couple of ideas:

O1. | SHARE IT!

Ray Higdon, a business owner and marketing expert, says, “Invest. Learn. Teach.Invest in your own “education”, via books, trainings, etc. Learn from those things. Then, turn around and teach others what you’ve learned — from your own perspective, using your own words.

You can write blog posts, make YouTube videos, record a podcast, or create your own eCourses or workshops. This is how knowledge spreads.

02. | USE IT TO UPLEVEL & GROW

Say you’ve read a business book, and it’s taught you some new ways to market your business. Pick one of those new methods, and start actually putting it into practice in your own business. Maybe it will benefit you, maybe it won’t. Either way, you will have the benefit of growing from the experience.


We cannot truly grow and change if we aren’t willing to step outside our comfort zone and try new things.

Again, this whole topic of applying what we learn is something I still, personally, struggle with. As such, I will be taking my own advice!

. . . . .

Which of the 2 ideas, mentioned above, will you commit to trying? Let me know in the comments!

No One-Size-Fits-All Plan

As a creative and free-spirit, I’ve always found it really difficult to do entrepreneurship the way the experts (or “gurus”) say you should do them. I’ve learned from them, of course, and I’ve tried to implement a lot of what I’ve learned. But eventually I feel restless, and need to shake things up.

And, I’m learning an important lesson — that it’s better to find what works for you, than to try to pattern your business off of what everyone else says is “right”.

You are unique. So, what works for others may or may not work for you. There is no one-size-fits-all plan for self-employment.

Sure, there are “best practices”. And I do believe it’s important to still learn what those things are. But, you then need to go through a trial-and-error process in order to really know whether or not these practices will work for you and your business.

So many people, I believe, are scared to venture off into doing things their own way. What if it doesn’t work? Will you not succeed if you don’t follow the “rules”? Won’t people fail to take me seriously?

I’ve been there and had those doubts, so I get it.

The truth is that you are less likely to succeed — at least, in the long-term — if you try to be something you’re not. You will always feel unfulfilled, maybe restless, and you will probably face burnout.

Whereas, by truly allowing yourself to release the shoulds and step into what feels right for you, things will flow much more easily, and you’ll be more likely to love what you get to do with your days.

So, go ahead, free-spirit! Let yourself be free to do what works for you!

Truly Yourself

It can be so difficult to fully be yourself — especially when this world is constantly trying to shape us into something we’re not.

Yet, just because something is difficult, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It simply means we need to be more intentional … more aware.

I recently had the realization that, for far too long, I’ve allowed myself to be dragged along by the “shoulds” — I “should” do this, or be that, if I want to have a “successful” business.

And in the process, I forgot who I am.

Thanks to nudges from the Spirit, I’ve been reminded of the real me, and I’m working at bringing her out of hiding.

For example, instead of being so tightly wound and trying to control everything around me, I’m releasing my grip and surrendering to the flow. Instead of being driven by others’ “shoulds“, I’m asking myself what works best for me.

I truly believe — at my core — that we can be successful (more so!) by being fully ourselves . . . doing what works for us, as individuals, rather than copying others, or conforming to some societal standard.

What works for someone else isn’t necessarily going to work for you.

And this is why it’s so vital that you understand yourself fully. After all, how can you decide what does or doesn’t work for you if you don’t even know yourself?

So, where do you even start?

I started getting to know myself through a mix of personality quizzes (Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, etc.)*, journaling for reflection, and asking God to show me who He created me to be.

*[Note regarding personality quizzes: No one test is ever going to be completely, 100% accurate in describing you, as we are all unique. However, I still find it extremely valuable to take a handful of these tests, as it helps you start to see patterns, and realize what really is true of you].

All in all, don’t let society drown out the real you. Stay alert to its influence, and get to know all of the facets of what makes you, you, and then be intentional about remaining true to yourself.

Life is a lot easier when you know who you are!

Ever Shifting

As a multi-passionate creative, it can be really hard to stay consistent. All of the entrepreneurial (or, marketing) “gurus” will tell you that you must be consistent, or you will lose your audience’s attention. (Heck, I can’t even keep hold of my own attention! LOL — Squirrel!)

But, here’s the thing. . .

Once you understand who you are at your core, and what makes you come alive — once you know what does and does not work for you — consistency becomes so much easier. You begin to see ways you can work with your tendencies, instead of trying to fight against them in some wild attempt to conform to the “shoulds”.

As an example . . .

Not long ago, I discovered that the thread that ties everything I love together is GROWTH. I used to think it was “freedom”, or maybe “possibility”. But, now I’m clear (and Growth actually encompasses both freedom & possibility!).

RELATED: Get clear on YOUR overarching theme!

Knowing that “Growth” is my overarching theme, I’m now able to understand what does and does not fit with this, and it enables me to make decisions about my work far more easily. It’s like my North Star.

Recently, when –once again– thinking about changing up my content, I had an “aha”. I realized that my own topics will forever be shifting and changing, because I am constantly in the process of learning new things, and upgrading my mindset and knowledge. This –in essence– is what GROWTH is . . . forever evolving.

So, instead of fighting it in the name of “consistency”, I’m now relieved to see that I am still being consistent by remaining true to my overarching theme of growth… even if my content under that umbrella may shift and change, as I go along.

Now, how can you find that same freedom to work with your tendencies instead of against them? Here are 3 simple steps to get started:

01. LIST ALL THE THINGS YOU LOVE

These don’t have to be all work-related. If you love it, write it down. Write down things you’re currently into, and things you used to be enthralled by. Everything goes on this list.

02. REVIEW IT AND LOOK FOR COMMONALITIES

Once you’re done making your list, look it over and see if you find any patterns or commonalities. For example, maybe you love freedom, and possibilities, and personal development, and personality types, like me. In that case, you might say “growth” is a commonality between it all.

03. KEEP DIGGING UNTIL IT FEELS RIGHT

It may take some time, or a few tries, to figure out your own “North Star”. Like I said, my own switched up a couple of times before I found the one that best fit who I really am.

And, if you need help, I’m here to walk you through this discovery process. My North Star program does just that, so feel free to have a look.

Not Your Typical Christian Gal

I’m not your typical Christian gal. I don’t do the whole pushy, shove-it-down-your-throat stuff, or flaunt my faith piously for all to see. In fact, I’ve been dubbed “backslidden” and “far from God” because I don’t fit into the mold.

For example, here are a handful of things that set me apart:

  • I will go to bars
  • I like to drink alcohol (though, I don’t drink a lot)
  • I like Bohemian/Gypsy-style clothing
  • I don’t attend church
  • I follow my intuition (aka: Holy Spirit)
  • I don’t spew “Christian-ese” at people, or try to convert sinners
  • I read books like The Da Vinci Code, Harry Potter, Twilight, and even –gasp!– Rob Bell’s books
  • I love the Enneagram
  • I believe it’s okay –good, even!– to have doubts, and to question things
  • I was not (and still am not) a fan of Donald Trump
  • I refuse to watch Fox News



However, lest you think I’m a complete heretic . . .

  • I do not agree with homosexuality (though, I’m willing to befriend those who live this lifestyle)
  • I am against abortion (in other words, I am pro-Life)
  • I believe the Bible is God’s living & active Word
  • I don’t find it necessary to curse (swear)
  • I will not ‘hide’ my faith in order to seek approval, or be “accepted”
  • I do still avoid certain content, people, and situations, in order to guard my heart and mind (Prov. 4:23)



If you had a scale, with the far-left/Liberals on one end, and the far-right/Fundamentalists (& Evangelicals) on the other end, I’d say I fall somewhere just slightly to the right of centre.

I like to think of myself as a free-spirit or nonconformist Christian (heck, even a Christian rebel!). 😛

A lot of mainstream Christians and I do not see eye-to-eye on a lot of things, and I’m okay with that. (I do so wish, however, that more of them were open-minded enough to have healthy discussions with me, rather than jumping to conclusions, or judging me right out of the gate!). Sigh.

DECONSTRUCTING FAITH

Recently, I read an article that talked about “deconstructing faith”. I found this really interesting, especially since it’s quite similar to the process I went through, myself, quite a number of years ago (and am, perhaps, still going through).

Academics have dubbed it ‘theological deconstruction’, but in simple terms, they’re referring to what happens when a person asks questions that lead to the careful dismantling of their previous beliefs. Some talk about a “mid-faith crisis”, where deeply held doctrines are re-examined and sometimes jettisoned in favour of more progressive ideas. Many continue to self-identify as Christian throughout this time, others take on another label which they say carries less baggage, such as ‘follower of Jesus’.

Sam Hailes, Premier Christianity

The dilemma for those experiencing a shift in their faith is often figuring out which of their beliefs are true and good, and which are false and harmful… This period of questioning can be painful and often isolating, as Christians are sometimes afraid to voice their doubts or admit to a change of theology. 

Sam Hailes, Premier Christianity

The problem comes when people “deconstruct” their faith through questioning, but then fail to “reconstruct” it, afterwards. This is where you find a lot of the ex-Evangelicals, and those who’ve renounced faith all together. And it breaks my heart.

My sincere hope, in writing this post, is to find other free-spirit Christians, like myself, who don’t fit into the box (and don’t care to, either!)… those who are followers of Jesus, and hold to the inerrancy of Scripture, but who strongly believe that Jesus came to set us free — not to burden us under a list of “thou-shalt-not’s“. (Leave me a comment, if that’s you!)

Personality Quizzes: Why I’m A Fan

I’ve long had a fascination with personality types, and I’ve taken most of the quizzes that are available. . . Myers-Briggs (MBTI), the Enneagram, DISC, StrengthsFinder, those silly BuzzFeed ones, etc. Like most people, I’m drawn to these quizzes because they give me the words that help me describe who I am, and how I interact with the world around me.

Yet, I know that these quizzes can seem like unnecessary “fluff” to some people, and there is a lot of controversy around the legitimacy of a few of them.

I don’t write this post to try and argue about whether or not these quizzes are all that accurate.

I did, however, want to share why I use them as the foundation of the work I do with my clients.

First, I know — and like to reiterate to those who work with me — that no one test will ever be 100% spot-on in describing someone. We are each as unique as our fingerprints, so these tests cannot tell us exactly who we are.

Second, I may have my clients take these tests to get their results, but that’s as far as it goes. I am not teaching anything about these quizzes (I am not a trained facilitator for any of them), nor do I dive deep into the meanings of this or that quiz result.

Third, my personal experience with personality quizzes is that, if you take enough of them, you begin to see patterns emerge. And this, right here, is exactly why my clients go through a handful of quizzes, right at the beginning of our work together!

By seeing the “bigger picture” of how you act and respond, plus your underlying motivations, we are then better able to piece together what kind of work is going to best align with who you are.

And, when you align what you do with who you are at your core, I believe you are much more likely to find consistency, clarity, meaning, and fulfillment in your day-to-day life, and you’ll know how you can serve the world in your own unique way.

Basically, you uncover your personal brand — your “special sauce”, so-to-speak.

Now, I have worked with clients in the past who really didn’t care for personality quizzes, and thought they were silly or pointless. Still, they humored me and took the tests anyway… and they ended up shocked because the results so closely depicted the way they saw themselves!

And again, I’ve gotten so much clarity and self-awareness through taking various quizzes, that I am convinced that they are a fantastic place to start.

One side note: I have also had someone take the Enneagram quiz, and then feel like God was warning her to stay away from digging any further into it. I would never want someone to go against what the Lord has told them, so I respected this gal’s wishes, and we left it alone.

However, as I mentioned previously, I’m not going to be delving into all of the meanings and uses behind these quizzes. My clients simply take the tests to get their results, and then I look it all over and use this information to help them craft a strategy and plan for the kind of work they can pursue in order to feel aligned and alive, going forward.

If you have any questions, I’d be happy to discuss them with you — drop me a comment below, or send me a message! And, if you would like to go through this self-discovery process, you can do so either through one-on-one sessions with me, or you can DIY it with my eBook, “Uniquely You: Discovering Your Personal Brand“.

Spiraling Up or Spiraling Down?

Why do you need personal development? Why bother chasing after growth? Well, here are a few thoughts.

If we aren’t growing, we are remaining stagnant. Those who refuse to grow have a limited way of thinking. They become bitter and angry, and feel like the world is out to get them. They alienate the people around them, and end up pushing people away via their attitude. This just confirms their theory about the world being out to get them, and that it’s trying to make them miserable.

However, when we grow, we are renewing our mind, thinking about bigger and better possibilities, and strengthening our belief in what’s possible. And when we believe that better is possible, we act to make changes that confirm those beliefs. This, then, cycles back around and strengthens our belief that better is possible.

So, are you spiraling up, or spiraling down?

Positive change starts with the belief that change is possible (otherwise known as a “growth mindset)* — that things can get better, and that — in whatever way, no matter how small — we can affect some of that change!

. . . . .
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