the private email i just sent to my tribe…

the measure of a true friend.

It’s not often I’m at a loss for words. But I’ve been sitting here for a good 30 minutes, staring at the blank page, caught up in a web of awe, rendered speechless. And a little teary. I just launched a new program – Spark*Sisters – and the reaction is blowing me away. Actually, I haven’t even had a chance to truly launch it – and already, women are lining up.

Friends, my first live event just sold out in a day. A day!? A second event has been added. And the ecourse is filling up fast.

This morning, I sent a note to my intention circle – the small group of wonder women I’ve been meeting with for years, and the inspiration for this new undertaking. And as I sit here, trying to write a blog post that encapsulates how I’m feeling, I’m having a little epiphany. I think I should just share my email to them with you. Be totally transparent, so you can see the depth of our connection, and how this all came to be. So, here it is. I’m making this private email public, for all of my sisters out there…including you.

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I couldn’t wait till our next meeting to share this with you! Remember how, last year, I asked you if you’d be okay with me creating, someday, some kind of ecourse around how to build an intention circle, using our own circle as inspiration? It was only a nugget of an idea, but it kept flirting with my heart. And you said YES, of course…let it percolate. 

And then several months ago, I brought it back up and told you I wanted it to be a live event. And you said…quite resoundly…NO, not now, don’t rush in. You guys said I had too much on my plate already; I had just launched Project Light Year, was booking Firecracker Calls left and right, not to mention all the family/personal stuff begging for my attention. And because I trust you so much, and you know me so well, I didn’t even fight it. I felt a twinge of disappointment, but your advice has never led me astray. So I tucked it away for another time. 

 

You were so right (of course!). Right after we met, family needs escalated and I barely had time to focus on the work already in front of me. There’s no way I could have launched something new, especially my first solo event! So grateful you anticipated that and guided me to take it easy. 

 

Still, the idea would not let me go. I’ve frequently caught myself staring into space…planning the ecourse, envisioning the event. But instead of rushing in and launching it, I played with it. I meditated on it, connected with Spirit about it, came up with a dozen names and logos for it…but with no deadline or anything to make me stress about it. I knew it would be my next big thing, but something about it still didn’t feel quite right, so I let go of the when and how. 

 

And then one night, as I was having fun imagining it for the millionth time, it hit me like a lightning bolt. It felt like God organized all the moving pieces and inserted a complete vision for it in my head. It makes me cry, just writing about it, because that vision included a critical missing piece: sparks. You know how I’ve been trying to figure out a way to better incorporate my dad’s work into my work; how he wanted me to take sparks and do it “my way,” and how many conversations we had about my desire to help adults tap into the inner sparks they’d long forgotten or given up on. This crystallized vision included that – circles of women gathering to ignite their sparks, intentionally and intuitively. It gives me full-body chills, and I have felt (and heard) my dad with me so much in these final planning stages. Working together, in a new way.

 

Spark*Sisters - Find Your TribeSo the final result is an online intensive – Spark*Sisters. An 8 day deep-dive ecourse plus a database of participants’ locations & interests so they can find each other…find their tribes. And, as a powerful option for up to 20 women in the Twin Cities, I put together a morning event on July 19th (at the Arboretum!) where I’ll intuitively place each participant in her new tribe and they’ll begin to bond around their hopes, dreams and fears. 

 

Well, you guys…before I even officially launched the thing, the EVENT SOLD OUT. I simply sent two emails – one to my Project Light Year students and the other to newsletter subscribers – and women started signing up in droves for the ecourse and the event. So I’ve already added a second event, which is already selling before I’ve mentioned it anywhere! Can you believe it!? Holy wow. 

 

So. Sorry for rambling on, but I just wanted to share the good news and also thank you for encouraging me to wait…for the right time and for inspiration to strike. I so cherish you!

 

Love, 
Liv

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Want to find your own circle? Find details on Spark*Sisters here.

And if you’re in Minnesota, sign up for the second Spark*Sisters LIVE event over here.

soul sisters, i have a crazy idea…

True Friends

Ever made a decision that makes no sense on paper – but just feels right in your heart? That’s what I’m doing today. Throwing caution to the wind. Leaping outside the box. Experimenting with kindness. Dancing with abundance.

A week from today, I start my new ecourse – The Art of Choosing Beauty: a four-week deep dive into how I pulled myself out of the darkness and changed my life for good through a philosophy and daily practice that centers around everyday beauty.  It’s gonna be deep. And soul-stirring. And so, so joyful.

But there’s something missing. 

soul sister circle.I had an epiphany this weekend. At the times in my life when I’ve experienced the greatest personal growth, there has been a soul sister – a friend or relative I adore – cheering me on and growing right alongside me. And I really want that for you, too. Yes, we’ll have an amazing community of participants to bond with in our private Facebook group, but imagine having a dear heart – your beloved girlfriend, sister, mom, auntie – to compare notes with, to share challenges with, to celebrate aha moments with. I get giddy thinking about how powerful that would be – for you, for her, for all of us!

SO. Here goes. I haven’t even reached the number of sign-ups to hit my financial goal for this course…but I don’t care. If you sign up…or if you’ve already signed up…I want to give you a second admission for the soul sister of your choice – for free.

Soul Sister Special!

I had already priced this e-course really low ($47), because I wanted it to be accessible for all who need it. But if you decide to split the cost with your soul sister, you’ll each only pay $23.50 to get all the content delivered to your inbox each day for four weeks. Or you can just gift it to that wonder woman in your life. Whatever you choose. Details on how it works are below.

My only request? If it feels right, could you share this soul sister special with others in your life? To make sure I don’t completely lose my shirt on this deal, I’m not going to pay to promote/advertise the course this week as I’d planned. So if you could help me spread the word…maybe on Facebook, maybe in an email to friends, maybe to colleagues in the break room…that would be amazing.

like coming home: we all need soul sisters

two of my dear ones: lori portka & rachel awes

HOW IT WORKS: To get the special, you can sign up here for $47 (or go here for more details on the course, and purchase through that page). Either way, you must sign up by midnight central on July 15th (the day the course starts). On the page where you fill out your contact info, there’s a box at the bottom labeled “PRIMARY EMAIL.” In that box, please add the name of your soul sister and her email address. Then she’ll be sure to get all the content, too. Simple as that.

ALREADY SIGNED UP? You’ll be getting an email to let you know how you can invite someone you love to participate for free, too. Watch your inbox!

Ohhhh, kindred spirits…soul sisters…I cannot wait to gather virtually next week, to dance arm-in-arm and celebrate the magic in our midst. It’s going to be so beautiful.

 

how i found my soul sisters

About a decade ago, I wondered what it might be like to have a tribe. Or even just one soul-deep, sister-like friend. I’d had best friends growing up, but things changed and we changed…and just like that, I felt a little lost at sea. I figured it was me, that I was too complicated to find a perfect match and too busy to even go looking.

But it nagged at me – that sense of un-belonging. Most of my dearest friends had their own best friends. I had a circle of gorgeous hearts around me but no one felt like home.

Eventually, I decided to set an intention for finding a soul sister. I envisioned how it would feel to be with her. I made a list of the things I would love about her and she would love about me. I imagined us laughing till we cried and crying till we laughed. Maybe most importantly, I trusted that I deserved to have that kind of joy and depth in my life. I left the details to the universe – what she looked like, where she lived, how I’d find her – and decided to trust she was out there, looking for me like I was looking for her.

I don’t recall how long it took, but I remember how it felt when the first one arrived. The first one, yes. In the years since setting that intention, I’ve been blessed to cross paths and intertwine hearts with women I can’t get enough of and who seemingly can’t get enough of me. We’re like air for each other. We want the very best for each other. We feel lifted up by one another. Some have faded in and out and in and out, at just the right times for just the right reasons.

Over the past five days, spent with some of my true loves on the shores of Lake Superior, I witnessed the magic of those soul sister connections time and time again. The very things I envisioned when I first set that intention….

Like how just the sight of you lights her up – the first time and the 500th time and every time in between. And you feel the same way.

Like the way she speaks your language. Walks the talk. Loves what you love – and other things, too. The way she listens with her whole heart.

Like the treasure hunts. And the dream-catching. The crocodile tears. The belly laughs. The goal-setting. The beauty-seeing. And the sense that none of it ever lasts long enough.

It is magic, pure and simple. But I had to invite it in, to open the door for them to walk through. This is how I found my soul sisters.

Speed Bumps and Soul Sisters

Tomorrow, I’ll reunite with sweet soul sisters: artists, bloggers, dear hearts who totally get me – even when I don’t. When we first gathered two years ago on the shores of Lake Superior, our conversations were like soul food. Our excursions to new places felt like coming home. Our art-making time by the light of the moon lit a fire in me.

One of my favorite moments was opening – for the first time – the galley to my book, with all these dear ones squealing with delight, hovered over the huge manuscript that was spread across the floor. They were there for me in that time of wonder and celebration. And they were there for me when it came crumbling down. They’ve been there for me, sending love across the miles, as I hit multiple speed bumps these past couple of years, and they’ve been cheerleaders during all the heart-thumping good moments, too.

I know this new time we spend together will be a giant serving of soul food once again. I should be packing…but instead I just wanted to put into words and put into the universe how grateful I am for the chance to be together, for the loves here at home making it possible for me to fly away, for the knowledge that every speed bump is paved with blessings.

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COUPLE OF QUICK NOTES: 

Do you believe in coincidences? I don’t – and neither does Deepak Chopra. I’m blogging about that this week over at Your Heart Makes a Difference.

Don’t forget my new ecourse, BuzzWorthy, starts Oct. 1st. Love, love, love seeing the creative souls who are signing up and getting brave, ready to step into the limelight!

 

 

Five Crappy Questions We Can All Stop Asking {+ What To Ask Instead}

I’ve been keeping a weird list in my head for the past few months. A running tally, really, of the times I hear a question that makes me cringe. The people asking are usually well-meaning, but I often see pain or anxiety flash across the recipients’ faces. Truth be told, I’ve been in both positions – the asker and the asked – and it can get uncomfortable standing in either place.

But to stop asking people questions would be downright rude, right? So, along with keeping a list in my head of questionable questions, I’ve been experimenting with possible replacements. And here’s what I’ve come up with. I’m pretty sure using these will put others at ease and, in turn, make the world a better place! {wink}

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Crappy Question: “What do you do for a living?” This is especially sensitive for women who work {really, really hard} as full-time, at-home mamas and also for those who are searching for work. If someone’s not bringing in a paycheck, they feel the need to explain and prove their worth, so they’re instantly on the defense with this question. Yuck.

Better Question: “How do you spend your days?” Everyone has an answer to this one – and the answers are often fascinating! Sometimes, people do tell me their job titles, but oftentimes people tell me about hobbies or grandkids or how they’d prefer to be spending their days.

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Crappy Question: “Did you give birth naturally?” {and, even worse, I once heard someone ask, “Did you give birth vaginally?” Just…wow.} There is a prevailing, often unspoken assumption in our culture that women who give birth without drugs or {ahem!} vaginally are superwomen and the rest are just a little weaker and less courageous. I know women who have cried for weeks after giving birth because they couldn’t make it through labor without medical intervention, as they’d hoped. If a woman answers “yes” to this question, people praise her and remark about her amazing strength. If a woman answers “no,” it’s almost always followed by an apologetic story about what went wrong…when, really, we should all be praising her and remarking about her amazing strength, too.

Better Question: “What was your birth experience {or labor & delivery} like?” This frees up a new mama to share what she wants and not feel judged. If you’re not close to the person you’re asking, go for details that feel a little less revealing, like “What was the best part/most surprising part of baby’s birth day?” 

*****

Crappy Question: “What’s new with you?” I realize this is a really popular, really casual greeting for some folks. But, unlike its cousins {“What’s up?” and “What’s happening?”}, it feels like an actual request for information on what shiny, happy stuff has just popped up in your life. My hubby, Brad, really hates this one because he says his mind races, trying to think of something impressive or sparkly to share – when life as usual should be perfectly acceptable. This question can easily turn small talk into a gross game of Keeping Up with the Joneses.

Better Question: “What’s been keeping you busy lately?” Okay, so you might get one Debbie Downer who says she hasn’t been busy at all…but most people will feel comfortable responding with a few details about work or family life. Great way to ease into a conversation.

*****

Crappy Question: “Were you close?” This is commonly asked of people who are grieving the loss of a family member or friend. Problem is, there’s no way to measure “closeness” and the question immediately challenges a person who’s already grieving to quantify the depths of their relationship. Plus, the answer you get does not inform you how upset a person is; it can be extremely difficult to lose someone you’d lost touch with or been estranged from.

Better Question: “What was your relationship like?” or “What’s one of your favorite memories of him/her?” Rather than making a person prove their deep connection to the deceased, these questions allow people in grief to share bittersweet memories and honor whatever connection they did have.

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Crappy Question: “How’s married life?” How many times do newlyweds really need to answer this – and has anyone ever replied to this small talk staple with anything other than “good” or “great”?

Better Question: “What’s been the best part of these first few days/weeks/months of being married?” The question is really similar to the crappy one – but it already assumes things are good, shows you’re truly interested and gives them a chance to share something specific about their new life together.

*****

Got any other questions to add to the trash bin? Or better ones that have worked well for you? {I’m loving the ideas popping up in the comments section!} I really think asking more compassionate questions is a simple way we can all add love to the world – and feel it boomerang right back to us. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

 

 

Who Will Respond To Your Call Light?

On Friday, while Brad and I waited in the hospital room for Ryder to get out of surgery, I tried to change the channel on the TV. Suddenly, one of the nurses came rushing in, saying, “Your call light is on – can I help you??” Clearly, I’d hit the wrong button {ack!}. But gosh – it was such a comfort to know there was someone willing and able to be there for us at a moment’s notice.

As I sat there, I thought about how much we all need people in our lives whom we know will respond when our call lights flicker. People who don’t think less of us – but rather think more of us – for revealing our raw emotions, our deepest fears, our vulnerabilities. People who know just how to answer our call, lifting us up and helping us through.

It’s equally important that these trusted friends and family members are on-call to support and celebrate our passions and achievements. Have you ever had a buddy who’s happy to commiserate with you when you’re down in the dumps…but practically disappears when you have good things to celebrate? Those are cave dwellers; you need heart healers and dream catchers.

We all need confidants who respond to our call lights {even when we don’t realize they’re on!}, whether we need a hand to hold or a high-five. But to expect that from others, we must be that for others. I feel so honored when a friend lets me in to her dark places and trusts me with her heart. Same goes for when she feels comfortable enough to share her victories and trusts me with her dreams.

It’s okay, I now know, if these rich connections don’t last forever. Like nurses take shifts at the hospital, I believe people move in and out of our lives with perfect timing – with needs and abilities that sync up with our own at just the right time. I think of dear friends from many years ago whom I thought had betrayed me or changed without warning; now I realize a necessary shift occurred, allowing us to make room for whomever and whatever was meant to come next.

I believe there is always someone standing by for us, watching for our call light, as long as our hearts are open enough to let them in.

Fly Girl: Watching a Friend Get Ready To Soar

I met my shiny, happy friend Rachel Awes for breakfast yesterday. And she brought her wings. Rachel dresses the way she feels; I swear you can actually see her spirit from the inside out. And I could tell right away she was in the mood for flying. It wasn’t a conscious decision to wear her heartwings on her sleeve for our get-together. She just wore what felt right for the occasion!

The first thing I noticed on Rachel was her big, beautiful butterfly ring {see it?}. It fluttered around our breakfast table all morning, whenever she moved her hands. Meanwhile, the bell sleeves on her sweater looked like pretty, mustard wings. And there were butterflies under the table, too:

When it was time to pay, I giggled when I pulled out my wallet because one of Tru’s toy planes was sticking out. Rachel said, “Oh! I have a plane, too!”  She dumped all her purse junk on the table and dug through to find her plane {hello, serendipity!}. The little toy plane came with something she bought recently, and she felt compelled to hang onto it. I bet her heart knew in advance the time would come for a plane play date; Rachel trusted that nudge and tucked the plane in her purse. So, we flew, right there in the booth, with 70’s disco tunes playing overhead…

Our zipping and zooming through the air reminded Rachel of one more thing – one more big thing! The day before, as she was drawing and thinking ahead to our breakfast and the start of a new week, this is what came out:

It was the perfect ending to our morning and gave words to all the visual cues swirling around us yesterday. I smiled as I drove away, thinking of how every fiber of Rachel’s being is telling her to spread her wings, signaling to her that it’s time to take all that talent, all that love, all that wisdom – and FLY higher, faster, freer than ever before. Flap those gorgeous wings, dear girl. You are more than ready.

Need More Friends? Clear the Way…

{art tags by soul sister carissa paige}

I had already started writing this post about making new friends when I opened today’s Notes from the Universe, a daily email I receive from Tut.com {such a great way to start the day!}. Here’s today’s message:

Get out, get out, get out even more, Liv! Because there are people you’ve yet to meet, laughs you’ve yet to share, stories you’ve yet to live, and riches you’ve yet to tap into, that will not find you under any other circumstances. Besides, how else can I shower you with surprises?  – The Universe

I totally agree – there are amazing relationships and experiences awaiting me – but I think “the Universe” forgot to include one critical piece of the friendship puzzle: to envision the right relationships for me. A few years ago, I was in need of a few new girlfriends. Many of my closest friends had moved away or faded away into mommyhood, work, etc. I longed to connect with other women, but I kept hitting dead ends.

I was still entrenched in corporate America and was invited to meet monthly with a group of female executives for networking and idea sharing. I hoped it would be a great chance to befriend some smart women with similar professional experiences and ambitions. But starting with the first gathering, I knew it wasn’t the right group for me.

I dreaded every meeting. 

I felt so out of place among that tribe of no-nonsense women in their perfectly-tailored suits. I felt uncomfortable with the way our discussions always led to the same topics: how to get a raise or promotion and what kind of fancy car or house they hoped to afford next. I kept going to the meetings with a knot in my stomach each month, figuring it was the right thing to do as I climbed the corporate ladder, even though it felt so wrong.

Around the same time, I was invited to be part of a monthly Bunco night with women in our neighborhood. Many of them were already friends and their kids were already in school together. So, I often felt like a third wheel in conversations and didn’t know any of the teachers or parents they were gossiping about. Still, my neighbor insisted month after month on taking me to Bunco…and I would go, smile on my face and a knot in my stomach.

It took nearly a year before I backed away from either group. Looking back, I realize the real problem was me: I never took the time to focus on what kinds of friends I was looking for. So, instead of continuing to groan and grumble about the ways those gatherings didn’t fill me up…I started to imagine the types of women and events that could. I made a list of the qualities I was looking for in new friends.

Authentic. Creative. Down To Earth. Funny. Inspiring. Ambitious. Positive. Thoughtful. Soulful.

I wanted all that – plus I wanted my new friends to be low-maintenance, meaning we could go weeks without talking and still feel close {no guilt, no drama}. A tall order, I know. But to my amazement, those kinds of women started appearing in my life. Maybe in part because my radar was up, looking for those qualities in women I met. And maybe because setting my intention for future friendships attracted those women into my orbit. Opportunities to connect with the kinds of friends I’d dreamed of began to sprout up everywhere. And that continues to be the case even years later.

{photo by marilyn lamoreaux}

This past weekend, I met with a delightful group of Minnesota artists who are all taking the Hello Soul, Hello Business ecourse. I was so enchanted by their honest and inspiring stories of love and loss, ups and downs, hopes and dreams. They are authentic. And creative. And all the things I was looking for years ago and continue to treasure in friends new and old. We already have plans to meet again.

When  I think of my friendships today, I feel so content and blessed. A far cry from that recurring knot in my stomach I used to feel. It disappeared once I figured out what I needed to feel fulfilled, deeply connected and valued.

Have you been intentional about forming new friendships? Are you ready to trade in toxic relationships for tranquil ones? I’d love to hear how you’re navigating the waters of creating and maintaining authentic friendships….because they add so much joy and meaning to our lives!