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Step into Your Starring Role

Everything’s a teacher

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It is an unmitigated wonder that my daughter still tells me anything.

Because as much as I do my best to simply listen, to simply be, to offer her my presence and my unconditional love, I fall short. Often. And instead, I counsel. I point out the opportunities, the possibilities, the other ways, the other paths. It has got to be annoying as all hell for the poor child.

But yet, there it is:

“What are you learning?” 

Can’t stop. Won’t stop. Because it’s a good question. Maybe the BEST question.

Here’s what we know: comparison is a teacher. A flashing red beacon that clearly and unapologetically shows us what we want as embodied by those that we compare up to and clearly shows us what we don't want as embodied by those we compare down to. (Lauren and I tackle this more fully and completely in our Beyond Compare self-study program.)

I speak and write often and at great length about how the Impostor Complex is a reliable teacher about what matters to us.

But guess what else is a teacher?

E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G

Procrastination
Discomfort
Envy
Fear
Anger
Lethargy
Worry
Perfectionism

But also:

Joy
Excitement
Ease
Pleasure
Delight
Flow
Satisfaction
And so worth repeating: joy.

Alllllllllllllll of it.


So the real question is:

What are you learning?


And then:

What are you going to do about it?

A couple of ideas.

Choose differently.
Change course.
Do something.
Do better.
Say no.
Say yes.
Show up.
Stand up.
Speak up.
SHINE UP.
Vote. TODAY.

Easier said than done? Could be.  But the alternative is really not acceptable, is it?

Agreed.


PS - We’re opening the doors for The Step into Your Starring Role Academy very very soon. Sign up here for first dibs. Nine months of sitting UP, rising UP, speaking UP, stepping UP and shining UP.

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Big skies know big things. So let’s go to Big Sky Country. Together.

I’m away from the city for a short while as I spend time with family, count stars, eat cherries, write words, breathe clean air and sing by the campfire. 

In a word: glorious.

Usually, I settle into the pace up here quickly and familiarly. This time, I can’t help but notice how I’m resisting said gloriousness. Too much going on, in my world, in THE world, back “home” to…relax. Which is about as counter-productive as it gets.

But I’ve finally recalled the structure that brings me to my actual home. A simple and sacred structure: I look up at the big sky.

Every time I feel the weight of the things I read from my computer screen, I look up at the big sky.

Every time I feel the pull of guilt of things not done, I look up at the big sky.

Every time I feel the pang of worry for things to come, I look up at the big sky.

Every time I doubt and fret and sweat and panic, I look up at the big sky.

And every time I feel like I am avoiding the weight of the things, the pull of guilt, the pangs of worry, the doubt and fret and sweat and panic by LOOKING at the big sky? I blink hard and I look up at the big sky again.

And she says:

Sweet Child, do what you can, but more importantly, do what you must.

Be brave enough to look at your shadows. Don’t try to douse them with light. Look at them for what they are.

Be with the weights and the pulls and the pangs and doubt and fret and sweat and panic.

They are here to be heard. They are here to bend you, shape you and to help calibrate your next steps. They are here to teach you, but they are not here to define you.

You can no more unsee the injustices by tuning out the world than you can deny the privilege of your very existence. So don’t. See them. Feel them. Choose to do better.

Don’t short cut your way to your purpose.

When you feel weak, get stronger. You know how. You’ve done it before, you startlingly magnificent creature, you.

When you are faced with the next battle, don’t seek comfort. Seek courage.

Don’t look for proof. Feel for truth.

Trust the love you feel in your cells.

When you are ready to make the leap that transcends your story, jump high and hard and with all of your fracturedmended heart.

Big skies know big things.

It’s under big skies that I remember all that I’ve ever known. Which brings me right back home. Wherever that may be.

I want the same for you. Join me under the big skies of Alberta this September.

We’ve crafted a unique, intimate, big-heart-opening one-day retreat in glorious Athabasca, on September 15th. This day is for anyone who wants freedom from the Impostor Complex so that they can step into their Starring Roles. In their leadership, in their life and in their life’s work.  

Think wide open spaces. Crisp NORTHERN air. The immersed experience of sweet relief when you finally walk towards and claim the role you’ve been desiring. Soul connections. Prosecco. And big BIG clarity. 

We’re keeping this one-day retreat very small this time so there’s even more space for processing, being and feeling the wisdom of the big sky. Register by August 12th and receive two bonuses: The Step into Your Starring Role Playbook and an hour of coaching with me – additional value of $600 USD. 

Looking for a larger group experience? Join me at the beautiful Yoga MCC in Calgary for a powerful workshop with like-minded healers, seekers and leaders. Three ways to play: a quick shot of activation on Friday night (16th), a full day workshop on Saturday (17th), OR both. While there will be plenty of time for integration, we’ll going strong and deep. (It is a yoga studio after all.)

I do so hope you’ll join me in Alberta.

Until then, look up at the big sky and feel her wisdom cool your furrowed brow.

Love,

TG


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What happens when you decide you’re writing a book about the Impostor Complex?

What happens when you decide you’re writing a book about the Impostor Complex?

Well... let’s go back a ways.

What happens when you decide you’re writing a book? Any book?

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Your inner critics go ballistic. After raving inarticulately for awhile, they start to list off all the reasons you can’t (and probably won’t and definitely shouldn’t) write the book with startling conviction. Like they’ve been waiting their whole existence to filibuster “Project Don’t Write The Book”.

What happens when you decide you’re writing a book about the Impostor Complex?

Well, you’re met with the same (somewhat generic) inner critics to be sure. You can’t. You won’t. You shouldn’t. Blah, blah, blah. But you’ve been doing the work of inner critic management for awhile, so you’re able to step in and say, “Oh, no, you don’t. I am totally going to write a book."

 

But then it gets even more specific and personal when the second line of offense shows up. These guys have placards directed at you that may not be catchy, but they are clear: “Don’t Write That Book About Overcoming Feeling Like a Fraud Because You Actually ARE a Fraud, You Fraud.”

Their case is really compelling. You don’t have the clinical background. You don’t have the degrees. You may not even have the writing chops. And while your stories are good, they're not the really fascinating backstory to end all backstories. You just have this little thing called a burning desire that feels like a second beating heart. (You can’t recall which clever writer - far more clever than you - came up with that metaphor, but you know it feels true. So, so true.)

So, you hide out. Behind your vocation. Behind your beloved clients. Behind writing and speaking and family and obligations and house maintenance and friends and more family and you feel lucky and privileged and really well graced. And a touch... incomplete. And then decide you should feel guilty about that. Because everything else has been tended to and you still need to hide out some more. And, truly, guilt is a fabulous way to kill time. And, of course, you have nothing but time, right?

Ba-BUMP.

Ba-BUMP.

Ba-BUMP.

Ba-BUMP.

Ba-BUMP.

Ba-BUMP.

But you’re serious about this. You’ve been talking about it with your small corner of the world because accountability is key. Also key? Doing what you say you’re going to do. So you send your family away for a long weekend and try to write through pangs of missing them and longing for wide open lakes for stand-up paddle boarding and campfires and s’mores, but you know it’s for the best. But then you’ll drink smoothies for breakfast and eat popcorn for dinner and then start to realize within three short hours of your solitude that the infuriating cursor on your screen is not actually blinking, but rather beating.

You can’t.

You won’t.

You shouldn’t.

You can’t.

You won’t.

You shouldn’t.

And it’s like the tell-tale heart beating under the floorboard so maddeningly that you can’t take it any longer and want to shout your confessions to the Fraud Police who will invariably show up at your door.

(You, of course, stop trying to write and go read Poe’s work instead because... procrastination. The calling card of the Impostor Complex. Along with leaky boundaries, perfectionism, people pleasing, and comparison.)

And then you start to finally see in the fourth hour of staring at the page that your own Impostor Complex is so far up your grill you don’t even know where it ends and your grill begins.

(And then you start to wonder what a grill is, so you go off to research that because... procrastination round two.)

At this point, you start to empathize with poor Jack Torrance going nuts up there in the Overlook, only to realize that he’d been writing for months and you’ve only been at your computer for five hours now.

And then you start an email to your writing group who invited you to go into the belly of the beast of your Impostor Complex this weekend to tell them to go to hell, but stop because you love them and know why they have asked you to dig deeper. They want this book in the world. The border guard wants this book in the world. And you want this book in the world. You NEED this book in the world. And besides - you know that email would be round three of procrastination (and you’ve learned better by now) so you simply email them, “Sending you love from the belly of the beast”.

And as you press send on that email you realize, "Holy shit."

You KNOW how to do this thing because you live and breathe the Impostor Complex and know it inside and out and see it’s silly tricks and games and, in fact, you don’t just know it, but know it better than anyone. And that’s a fact. You are the world-class expert on this very thing and you have actually already written the manual on how to overcome it. And that you have plenty more wisdom to share. More than plenty.

So you re-blend the breakfast batch of smoothies that’s been on the counter since this morning and get back to writing and write and write and write and eventually look up to see it’s been seven hours and you’ve written thousands of words. Good, smart, and true words that tell the stories that need to be told because your secondary heart said so.

And you realize as you shut down the computer to go to fire up the popcorn popper, that all along that blinking cursor’s actually been saying:

Write on.

Write on.

Write on.

Write on.

Write on.

Write on.

 

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On sacred socks, and bursting baskets. (Or, honouring what we say matters most.)

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The other morning, I woke up from a sweet sleep and had something I needed to write down.

Maybe it was for you.

Maybe it was for me.

But I’m pretty sure it was for all of us.

I’m standing in a house I don’t recognize, talking to a woman I don’t know.

In her arms she holds a wicker basket of clothes. The basket is overflowing with clean laundry.

She’s struggling to keep the basket level, but even as I ask her if she’d like me to share the load or suggest that she set it down, she shrugs me off and instead asks me what I do for work.

 

I say succinctly, "I help people find the parts of themselves that they have dropped along the way. The parts that, when reintegrated, make them whole."

"Oh," she says, "That sounds good and important. Sacred work."

"It is," I agree earnestly, "And I am so deeply honoured to get to do it."

I notice that she has dropped a pair of socks.

I bend down to pick them up. "Here you go," I say.

"Oh, thank you. Those are my favourite socks. They were given to me by my beloved great-aunt, may she rest in peace. Feel how soft they are. Cashmere. They are my luckiest ones and make me so happy when I wear them. I honestly can’t live without them."

I reach over to add them back to her basket, but they slip off again.

"Can you hold them for me?" she asks, "I just can’t seem to keep them in my basket."

"Sure," I say.

We chat for a while longer. Me holding her socks. She holding her basket of clean clothes. I see generic white tube socks poking out. Tube socks that aren’t tied to her ancestry. That don't bring her luck. That aren’t part of her soul. They may be functional, yes. But they are not essential to her joy.

And then I have another thought.

"Honey?" I say. (By now we're close enough for me to call her "honey".) "I’m pretty good at holding these socks. Haven’t dropped ‘em once. But here’s what I’m wondering: wouldn’t it be better if you held onto them? You love them so. Maybe you could put the basket down, reorganize, take some stuff out, and make some room for what you say is important."

"That’s a good idea," she says.

And that’s when I woke up.

I woke up to the fact that those socks are your writing. Your calling. The parts of your soul that want attention.

The things you want to claim that you know are deeply important to you. That you say are deeply important to you. The things that no one else has any business holding on your behalf.

We know, of course, that the holiness isn’t in the tube socks. The holiness isn’t even in what you say you want. The holiness is in owning up to what you say you know and want and doing right by it. In claiming it.

And that’s our job as visionaries, change-makers, and leaders.

Your job. My job.

To honour the things we say we want. The things we say are important.

We visionaries, change-makers, and leaders do not allow our gifts to slip through our fingers into the waiting hands of others who could not, should not hold that which is intended for us and us alone.

Put the basket down, honey. Make the space. And tend to the socks.

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PS – Deep bow of thanks to my soul-sister, the visionary Amy Palko for helping me process this dream.

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I'm Gonna Go Ahead and Skip the Middle Part

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I'm Gonna Go Ahead and Skip the Middle Part

Respect your uniqueness and drop comparison. Relax into your being. – Osho

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It’s probably true. I’m wanting to reinvigorate my yoga practice, so when I had the chance this morning, I probably should have done the WHOLE yoga practice.

That would have been impeccable of me.

But my mind was restless and my heart was only half in it and my lungs had checked out and my body was bored and asking for more. Much more.

It wanted to shake and flail and release and stomp and pound and that’s how I ended up dancing (more like flailing clumsily) for 30 minutes, starting with Spirit of the West’s "Home for a Rest." (A mainstay of all Canadian wedding receptions everywhere. Turns the dance floor into a raving mob of high-stepping lunatics. Guaranteed.)

So I should have deepened my commitment to my practice and I should have worked on my arm balances and I should be well-deep into savasana by now.

But I didn’t. And I’m sweaty. Like... really sweaty.


Over the past ten years that I’ve been doing this work in the online space, I’ve been thanked for being approachable. Accessible. A model of grace in imperfection. I deeply appreciate the gifts of every last acknowledgment.

But I’m not gonna lie: every time I get thanked for the last bit, a part of me bristles.

The part that wants to be perfect. Impeccable, even. Committed to her yoga practice. Shiny-haired. Polished.

The part that still believes after all this time that those things matter.

Because that’s how the patriarchal system has worked, you see. For thousands of years. (Being the best mother, friend, sister, daughter, wife, careerist, etc. whilst looking impeccable wins all. With extra points for glowing, not sweating.)

And every time I bristle, I am surprised. Of COURSE I am. I know the system’s bullshit. You know it's bullshit.

And then I have to go through a process of all my own tools, including the one where I forgive myself for wanting to be impeccable.

It’s exhausting. And, frankly, just like my wise, wise body was bored of my yoga practice, I’m bored of it.

I spend a lot of time talking about the Impostor Complex. Because what’s happening is that people discount their gifts, attribute their successes to outside influences, and internalize their failures as proof of their incompetence. Fear of being found out means they stop short. They opt out of situations and opportunities that would have them living up to and into their potential.

Yeah. Painful.

But the other part of the story, of course, is that when we CHOOSE to don the mask (consciously or otherwise), then we ARE acting out of integrity. We ARE showing up as frauds. Because, well, we’re not showing up as we really are.

Here’s at least two things that DO.NOT.WORK:

“Be the person your client wants to buy from.” and live in fear that they’ll find out you’re a fraud and the trappings are a façade.

“Fake it ‘til you make it.” this may get you out of the house (a good start, to be sure), but it doesn’t get you off the hook of being your self.


So I’m gonna go ahead and skip the middle part where I continue to half-heartedly don the weighty mask of perfection only to discover (once again) that it doesn’t fit, if it ever did.

And go straight to the place where I can do my best work. Unencumbered by expectations of what is or isn’t perfect and reveling in the appreciation for the many, many gifts I have been given. Rooting into proof-positive about what IS true about my skills, talents, and capacity. And activating from there.

(Flailing clumsily as the case may be. Which is its own special kind of impeccability.)

Because the systemic issues that have contributed to the creation of this phenomenon boggle the mind in their vastness.

We will need our hands free from holding up ill-fitting masks so they can tear down the system. Brick by gilded brick.

Skip the middle part with me, will you?

 


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