Work & Play

Make a list of everything you've said yes to doing

Write a quick and dirty list of everything you’ve said yes to doing.

The list’ll include things you’re already doing, things you’ve said you’d do but you haven’t started yet, things you started long ago but haven’t finished yet (unclosed loops), etc.

Try to get it all down. Even if the categories are broad and overwhelming. Like category “Dad.”

He’s an entry on my list. I do need to show up for him. I’ve said yes to being a loving daughter so that means I show up more than I don’t show up.

What happens when you see your list?

Does it tell you something about why your life looks and feels the way it does?

Yeah. I know.

Now — what can you cross off, punt, say no to, get rid of, decide you’re not going to do now or ever?


It is hard, I know. But buried in all of that is the one or two things you really want to focus on, the one or two things that would really make a difference for you.

What would be possible if you created more space for that one thing to flourish?

Are you willing to find out?

“It is much easier to put a laundry list together of all the possible things you need to get done each day than it is to actually choose your one most important task” and then work on mastering it. — Organize Tomorrow Today by Dr. Jason Selk and Tom Bartow

Quotes on being brief

  • “It was a delightful visit;—perfect in being much too short.” —Jane Austen

  • “My liege, and madam, to expostulate
    What majesty should be, what duty is, Why day is day, night night, and time is time,
    Were nothing but to waste night, day and time.
    Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
    And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
    I will be brief.” ― William Shakespeare, Hamlet

  • “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” —Thomas Jefferson

  • “I have made this [letter] longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter.” —Blaise Pascal, Lettres Provinciales, 1657, (translated from the French)

  • “It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book.” ―Friedrich Nietzsche

  • “The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending; and to have the two as close together as possible.” ―George Burns

  • “This is a short book because most books about writing are filled with bullshit. Fiction writers, present company included, don't understand very much about what they do —not why it works when it's good, not why it doesn't when it's bad. I figured the shorter the book, the less bullshit." —Stephen King, On Writing 

  • “Be sincere, Be brief, Be seated.” —Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Blog posts and habit math

I’ve been attempting to write a post a day for about two weeks now.

I’ve missed a few days.

What have I learned from making the commitment? And — more or less — sticking to it?

I’ve fallen in love with the math of compounding, of watching tiny habits practice day after day build up a level of success and confidence.

As author James Clear points out in the opening to his book Atomic Habits:

“improving by 1 percent isn’t particularly notable— sometimes it isn’t even noticeable— but it can be far more meaningful, especially in the long run. The difference a tiny improvement can make over time is astounding. Here’s how the math works out: if you can get 1 percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done. Conversely, if you get 1 percent worse each day for one year, you’ll decline nearly down to zero. What starts as a small win or a minor setback accumulates into something much more.”

I’m staying focused and concentrating on my process, not my outcome.

Staying with the process and not becoming fixated on the result is the heart of habit and, ultimately, identity change. Clear puts it this way:

“It doesn’t matter how successful or unsuccessful you are right now. What matters is whether your habits are putting you on the path toward success. You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results.”

That’s what I am doing — staying fixated on my trajectory.


When I miss a day, I’ll get back at it the day after that. I’ll not let two days go without a writing a post.

In this way, I learn — bit by bit, day by day — to make change and trust the person I want to be: a notice-er, a thinker, a compassionate witness-er, a person who makes time for public (and private, too) writing and teaching and learning.

My song isn't really mine, it's yours

What if me writing a song wasn’t about me. What if it was about you.

It seems strange to say this, because of course the song is about me. It’s my song. I was moved to write it about something I care about.

But what if, once I wrote it, it wasn’t about me anymore. What if now that I finished it, it became about you. It helped you understand something, it changed you, it healed you, it helped you. Maybe “my” song set you free, or made you cry, or had you pick up the phone and call a friend. Maybe it helped you deal with what you are going through. Maybe it gave you a little more strength, a little more faith. Maybe it helped you feel understood.

The song’s no longer mine, really. It’s yours.

Practicing shipping

Maybe you've noticed...

I've been writing a blog post almost every day these past few weeks.

It's a deliberate practice I've undertaken since reading this post and this post by Seth Godin.

Basically, I am writing and publishing a post a day to get over my fear of putting things out into the world that are unfinished. I want to share from the heart, quickly and directly. And a practice like publishing a blog post a day is one way to do that.

Here's a quick and dirty manifesto around my practice:

  • 1 post a day

  • written in one sitting

  • edit in one and only one pass (no obsessing or worrying about grammar, punctuation, typos)

  • post it... no sitting on it. ( Seth's term is "ship it")

  • ability for people to comment — this setting is turned off (as Seth’s is on his blog)


Manifestos are helpful. Daily practices are helpful. Making myself do something I am scared to do is helpful.

I don’t know how long I will do this for, but I do know that I will become someone different on the other side of this practice?

What got you here won't get you there

One principle / distinction that I’ve been thinking about lately and have been using in my coaching is this:

"what got you here won't get you there."

Our strengths that got us to one level of success are not necessarily the ones that will get us to success at the next level.

Another way to say this is that the demands on our time and mind-space grow as we grow. If you seek a new level of achievement with old tactics and strategies, you will struggle. You are a different person now. You need new ways to approach the new world you created and now inhabit, and the new world you want to create and live into.

In my world, this distinction plays out like this: In my 20s and even my 30s, I could fairly easily find 4 to 6 hours a day to practice my guitar and write songs. 

Now, in my 40s, with a fulfilling relationship to nurture and grow, a team to lead in my music career (my social team and my VA), a coaching practice that lights me up and that I love working on and in, a desire to write more songs for myself and other songwriters, a self-creation / self-mastery practice (meditation, writing, gymnastics, backpacking), I have to work hard to find even an hour a day to practice my guitar.

I cannot expect to have hours and hours of time to get better at guitar and cannot keep operating as if it will happen, someday. As Ramit Sethi says “someday is code for never.”


I can’t muscle my way through as I once did. I can’t just expect myself to grind like I used to, stay up to the wee hours fitting in more things. Fitting shit into my life sucks now. It used to be how I operated. Now it hurts. It doesn’t work for me anymore. Now, with my other responsibilities, I create my schedule. I craft time for each activity. I deliberately say no. I protect songwriting time.

I also use my intuition now. I network and collaborate with people now.

I have acceptance for the things I can't do and I focus on my strengths versus trying to bring my weaknesses up to strengths. I find the best person for the job and then I empower them to do it, own it, and report back.

I let go more.

I am seeing how far I go and who I become and what is possible through letting go.

What got me here won’t get me there.

These people deserve the credit for my TEDx Talk

No one does anything alone or in a vacuum.

There’s no such thing as DIY. Even something you think you “did” yourself has been helped and shaped by forces seen and unseen for decades, if not longer.

I wanted to acknowledge the people who made my TEDx Talk better:

  • Angeline May and the whole TEDx West Chester Team

  • My mom, of course. Her journey of awakening (that I chose to go on with her through her diagnosis and death from ovarian cancer) irrevocably altered the course of my life

  • Leah Ollman for every little thing, including listening to the talk at least a bazillion times

  • My TEDx coach, Ryan Hildebrandt at Viral Message Lab

  • Primoz Bozic, my business coach, for suggesting I reach out to Ryan when I got the invite to speak

  • ALL the friends and acquaintances who agreed to be interviewed on loss and grief as I put together the script for my talk

  • All the friends who set up events that gave me the opportunity to practice my talk, helping me bridge the gap from relying on my script to a fully memorized performance. Big shout out to Nercy Sullivan and her team at Alchemy Space in NYC who threw the first such event at her beautiful hair salon in NYC. Her “yes” gave me the courage to continue asking for help with practicing my talk

  • Alex Kipp of Muse Public Speaking for the hours of rehearsals and laser-focused work on my performance

  • Nicki Richards for the invaluable vocal coaching and crucial tip about getting the songs into the right key

  • Amy Wolter for a new and different kind of performance coaching this time ‘round

  • My life coach, JP Morgan for the reminder that I don’t care about polished… I care about moving people

  • Dr. John Sharp for early advice on the TED process and everything other kind of life advice

  • Katie Anderson of MEND Tailoring for the style

  • Rob Mounsey for helping me make Bright Nowhere (aka The Death Album) the incredible piece of life-changing, culture-shifting, award-winning music that it is and will be and for making me a better musician

  • Carol Annibale for keeping me and my team organized and for planning all the events and travel

There’s no way I could’ve created a talk this good and this powerful on my own. No way. Never ever.

I didn’t do any of it alone. Thank goodness! I am so grateful for all of these human beings.