Girl on Fire

Last fall I found myself sitting in a therapist's office, talking about my relationship struggles and my professional struggles, which seemed to be converging into one big theme. The men in my life were threatened by me. The men who I worked with wanted to tamper down my voice, as if it diminished their power. The environments I was in were male-dominated and it felt there was no space for me to be a strong, committed, powerful woman or for me to grow. The men I dated were interested, and then they shrunk away and disappeared once I shared with them my vision or ideas for change.

Woefully I described this to the therapist. She looked at me with a knowing look and said, "Maybe it's time for you to stop catering to the men in your life. Do what's in your heart! Men who resonate with your powerful presence and your passion will appear, if you chart your own path."

I wrote it down in my journal. And I went home, and thought to myself "nope...hell nope!" Then, I processed it a bit over the following weeks and realized, it was exactly what I needed to do. Shit. It set in.

I started choosing differently. At first it was really painful. Choosing to express my vision and passion, without reservations for the first time. I'll be honest, it created a shit storm in my personal and professional life. This is not a great pep talk yet, I realize :)

But slowly, surely, I started to notice new people appearing in my path. Men who not only resonated with my passion and powerful intent for Haven, but who wanted to help me bring it to life.

Following my passion and my desires, I left the startup I had helped bring to life 5 years before and launched Haven. I asked for help. All the time! I shared my vision, without reservations. And doors started opening, easily. I found a partner who supported me by offering me event space for the summer. I found other collaborators who helped me shape my approach. And magically, it seemed, another partner who wanted to open a co-creating coworking space with me.

Here we are, 3 months after I started practicing this new way of being, and I'm sitting at Haven watching this dream of mine come to life. It has happened so much faster and so much more effortlessly than I anticipated. I'm still waiting for the reality to sink in.

Ladies, if you're wishing that you didn't threaten the men in your life, all I can say is use your powerful heartfelt voice! Burn and blaze away! And the people who are meant to be there for your journey will appear.

To each of the men who has helped propel me, support me, and continue to rally with me, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I have met so many women with big dreams and powerful unique voices, and they each deserve to be supported like I have been and am.

Men, if you have a badass powerful spirit in your life (or more than one!), get alongside her and help her bring her vision to life. It will be one of the best investments you will ever make.


Unless It Comes Out of Your Soul Like a Rocket...

A girl friend of mine came over a few nights ago, we sat in my living room drinking wine and catching up. I told her about my last few years, and the giant leap I had just taken to start Haven. She listened, and openly admitted that she didn't think she had "it". The "it" that drives me to create, to pursue new ideas and build businesses, as if my life depended on it. Which I suppose in a way it does. At first, I wanted to deny her this division, and then I realized, she was right. Only she knows this in herself. Her honesty and her support of my many dreams are some of the qualities that make her so endearing to me over the years. So I got to thinking about my creative pursuits, and how I've gotten to where I am today.

The first time I really felt I had found my "people" was in freshman poetry class at University of Michigan, with Professor John Rubadeau, still one of the best teachers I've ever known. He introduced us to so many formats and structures, then encouraged us to break them, and to express ourselves. In his class I learned that I could be free, while writing poetry in a structured format, and I fell deeper in love with the written word. In his class I discovered authors that spoke my language; Kerouac. Bukowski, Dillard. I re-read authors that I had left in junior high, like L'Engle, and fell into the worlds they described, resonated with their emotion and depth.

Years later now, happily launched into the unknown with my 4th startup, I realize this passion for creation is the same in innovators as it is in designers, filmmakers and poets.

And so if you are considering a leap, if you want to create a new business or start something impactful and new from scratch - I'll leave you with this, from Bukowski. And I'll urge you to ask yourself the question - is it coming out of your soul like a rocket? If the answer is HELL YES, then embrace it and enjoy the crazy journey. If it's not, get behind your crazy girl friend who is on a rocket of a journey, she'll appreciate every minute of your support, trust me!

So You Want To Be A Writer
if it doesn't come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don't do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don't do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don't do it.
if you're doing it for money or
don't do it.
if you're doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don't do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don't do it.
if it's hard work just thinking about doing it,
don't do it.
if you're trying to write like somebody
forget about it.
if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you're not ready.

don't be like so many writers,
don't be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don't be dull and boring and
pretentious, don't be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don't add to that.
don't do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don't do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don't do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.
Charles Bukowski

Is Courage a Requirement for Dreamers?

Yesterday, as I was thinking about our NewCo presentation and prepping my talking points, I saw a post by my dear friend (and musician) Iyeoka. She had posted a video asking her fans if they thought courage was a requirement to dream. She and I met more than 10 years ago in Boston, long before she was a TED Fellow, before she was touring internationally. She was a pharmacist at CVS and on the weekend she performed slam poetry at the Lizard Lounge. Our friend Francis was helping her produce her first record, Black and Blues, and he recruited me to design the cover. It took such courage, for her to dream that one day she would be where she is now.

As I anticipate the chance to talk about my journey as a social entrepreneur tomorrow, for the first time, I'm not gonna lie I have some nerves. But that's ok - I'm gonna borrow some of Iyeoka's courage. Because after all, that's what we're all here for anyhow, to encourage and empower one another along the way.

Please join me tomorrow at our NewCo Session. I'm honored to be co-hosting with Ben Gibson, founder of Youvolution, a social enterprise dedicated to empowering the dreams of indie filmmakers. We'll share the stage with Courtney Santana, Founder of Survive2Thrive Foundation, and Filmmaker Jessie Rodriguez. Each of their stories are inspiring, and I hope you come away with a little more courage for your entrepreneurial journeys!

Here's a preview of our lineup, we look forward to seeing you there!




Get Messy or Go Home

I picked my daughter up from school the other afternoon, and she was covered in paint. I mean it was in her hair, under her fingernails, all over her clothes and even on the soles of her tennis shoes. I said to her "so, you guys painted today?" She said, "yea Mommy, sorry my clothes are dirty!" I told her it was ok, I mean after all I thought - she's 8. I expect her to come home messy. She looked at me tentatively and said, "Our art teacher told us to get messy. She said to get messy or go home."

"That's right, hell yea!" I thought. To me, getting messy means creating without fear. It means getting in there and exploring, pursuing our passions with abandon, and not worrying what we look like in the process or whether we can clean up good afterwards.

It's our choice as parents (and teachers, thank you to each of you!) to encourage our kids to fully experience life. Whether that's messy paint in art class or much messier situations as they get older. And the example I set for my daughter matters.

In my life, I continue to ask myself, am I surrounding myself with people who support this approach to living? When I come home from a "messy" day as an entrepreneur, I hope those closest to me will smile and say "you got messy today, didn't you?" And then we'll talk about my messy day, and theirs. And we'll revel in the freedom or empathize if it was hard, or both. Either way, we'll encourage one another to get back out there tomorrow and get messy.