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Friday Finale

This isn’t about a bikini. But also? It’s kind of about a bikini.

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On Monday, I came across an image in my new pal Elizabeth Dialto’s Instagram feed. (You can hear us really MEET, heart to heart, here for the very first time late last year.) She snapped it on a beach in Condado, Puerto Rico and I’m sharing with her permission.

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"::GOALS::
I want to be rocking a juicy, bronze, leathery ass, swimming in the ocean and enjoying beaches with the love of my life when I’m old. Thank you and Amen 🙌🏼🧡🍑👵🏽👴🏽✨👏🏽👏🏽"

So good, right?

I had actually just finished up my woo-woo practice of setting intentions for the month to come.

Note to my readers who are not well-versed in the language of the woo: Monday was a new moon which is a super powerful time to plant the seeds of your desires. Like farmers used to (still?) do as the moon’s gravitational pull is strongest so the moisture comes up to the top of the soil... making it easier to plant said seeds. (Luscious metaphor, right?)

In any case, my intentions and desires had been cast, or, erm, planted. They were pretty work/business-specific interspersed with wishes for my family and beloveds and for my activism and learning. Which is all well and good. Of course.

But this image, E’s words, really stopped me. And I kept coming back to them. Over and over and over again.

Because yes.

That confidence.

That sense of play.

When all is said and done, that’s what I want. A life well-lived, enjoyed, and relished.

That’s a lot of meaning in that there Brazilian bikini.

And I noticed as I went about my evening, roasted the chicken, went to the gym with my family, then flopped out on the couch to continue our Parks and Recreation marathon that I kept having this one thought:

How old would I need to be to have the confidence to strut in that bikini?

(Like I said. This isn’t about a bikini. But also? It’s kind of about a bikini.)

Interestingly, in the nine-month program I am leading (The Starring Role Academy), we are currently trying on the different ROLES that we want to step into... the ones that will really rankle the Impostor Complex so that we can learn the process to overcome it time and time again. And the metaphor we use is that we are “trying ON the Roles." You know… like a gown or a suit or an armour. Feeling where it’s a stretch. Or too tight. Or just right.

So that’s what I’ve been speaking into as folx are struggling with the hems of “Leader” or the cut of “CEO." We want things to fit immediately, but we need to move around in them some to see how they’ll work with our actual lives.

And I found myself saying these words:

“I can try on a bodycon dress and not be ready to walk out the door and stop traffic in it. YET. But if I like how it fits and like how it feels, even though it won't work with me when I am on stage or visiting a sick friend on her farm, I can imagine a time that I know that I am CAPABLE of wearing said bodycon dress that stops traffic... and that may be enough for the moment. Because in time, it ceases being about the dress, and becomes only about the confidence to wear whatever the hell we damned well please.”

And that’s it, right?

The confidence to wear whatever we damned well please.

End metaphor.

Because it’s also about having the confidence to step into, eat, create, ask for, name, claim, lobby for whatever we damned well please.

Is it going to feel weird the first time the sun hits your butt cheeks? Or the first time you say no to her? Or the first time you bring social activism into your classroom?

Of course it is.

But I guarantee there is no magical age that unlocks that confidence.

Buy the bikini.

Ask for the work.

Tell the truth.

NOW.

And then strut like you mean it.

I know I will.


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Don’t you love learning how things work? I do too.

Which is why I broke down HOW the Impostor Complex works.

How it tried to keep us alone and isolatedHow it tries to have us doubt our capacity. And how it tries to keep us out of action. I also wrote about how Following Through is inextricably linked to Integrity. (Which is inextricably linked to Unshakeable Confidence. See how this all works?)

AND... I want you to know that my brilliant friend Vanessa Mentor’s new digital home is alive and well and is an exquisite offering to Living Unrestrained. And so is she. In her words: “The feminine code of conduct is a set of predefined cultural and societal rules, demands, and expectations (rooted in Patriarchy and Colonialism) on what’s appropriate and good for women.” Find her work here.

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I had a blast talking with Brittany on the Classy on the Outside podcast. This conversation was really all about gathering your people.

And Naomi of The Lifestyle Edit and I got deep into the lies of the Impostor Complex.

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Did you know that Dolly Parton turned down Elvis Presley’s ask to record "I Will Always Love You" because he insisted on 50% of the publishing rights? *swoon*

Dolly is my model of shining bright in her badassery. Then as now. (I wonder if she wears a bikini.)

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Flowers. I am celebrating all the flowers.

And friends who remind me that I have them on speed dial.

The beauty astounds.

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142,000 words on January 22.

Today’s count?
181,833

But the best words I wrote this week were these:
“Stop hoarding your good shit.”

Just...stop. Commit. Follow through. We are waiting.

Something's old, something's new in this Friday Finale

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Tired of all the New Year hype and energy yet? Me too. AND me neither.

Both, and.

Just the way we roll around here.

Tired of it because as we say in French, plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Oui. Certes.

But there is a way in which things get a little sharper after the softness of the holiday season. An ascetic quality that strips things back to their essentials that I find both bracing and entirely welcome. For ME. This year.

Both, and.

I’m taking a hard look at numbers. All of them - knowing that they do not define me.

I’m taking a hard look at what works. (A lot.) And getting honest about what doesn’t. (A lot.) Calibrating from there.

I could tell you about the clearing and deepening and softening into more devotional spaces in my life, business, relationships, body, and body of work that I’m doing, but I’m not ready to do so yet because I haven’t shown myself yet the full complement of what I’m capable of. At least, not for what I’ve got my eye on.

But I will. As I do.

In doing some of the tinkering that January has asked of me, I am revamping, ever so slightly, this Friday Finale.

You can continue to expect a letter from me. But the subsections will be shifting some.

Debuting will contain new and noteworthy things that I have created or others have created that I think you ought to know about.

Starring will let you know where I’ve been and what stages you might find me on. INCLUDING weekly Facebook Lives happening on Wednesdays at noon EST. (Make sure you’re connected with me there to hop in and get your Q’s A’d.)

Celebration continues to be celebration. Pure, simple, unadulterated celebration. Of life, of a good tomato, of a win, or of a life-shifting conversation. All if it.

In the Spotlight will shine the light on folx I feel are the embodiment of having stepped into their Starring Roles. Whether I know them or not. Because honestly... don’t we all need a little more of that kind of inspiration?

And finally, because so many of you have been asking for this, I give you:

Backstage which will be all about the progress that I’m making on my book. Snippets for those of you who have wanted to get your eyes on the words that are slowly but surely finding their way into book form this year... THIS YEAR. You heard me? I know I did. It’s ON.

Whether you adhere to January’s austerity or bow to your own process, I sense that you are doing your own clearing, clarifying, and calibration.

Go gently and go strong.

Both, and.


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I heard from a LOT of people after the launch of the 2019 Starring Role Academy that they were interested in the deep work, but NOT in the group/community aspect that the program offers. Here’s to knowing what works best for YOU! If you fall in that camp and really want to work with me on your leadership plans for 2019, or your business mapping, or, or, or, then consider a Star Tipping Intensive with me. Due to the “intensive” (heh) nature, I can only offer a limited number per quarter and I have only three left in February. Annnnnnnd, the price is going up in June. Want details? Hit me up here.

This week, I broke down how the Impostor Complex wants us to go alone(If you didn’t get a chance to read it, here’s the upshot: don’t let it. Because it is an illusion that any of us need to go any of this alone.) Next week, I’ll be shining the light on the second objective of the Impostor Complex. The one that has you doubt your capacity. Like, when you downplay your successes and chalk them up to luck, fluke, or timing… you know the drill. Please forward this email to your friends to be sure to have them sign up to my list here.

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I am super excited to be speaking at the 2019 Social Change Forum hosted by Project Kinect in Madison, WI in February. The heart and thought and energy that Gregg Potter is pouring into this is palpable and I intend to BRING IT. Raise your hands up high where I can see them, my Wisconsin friends!

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I think a lot about Caroline McHugh’s quote in an exquisite and well-circulated article about the collective grief around Prince's death a couple of years back.

“[There] are individuals who managed to figure out the unique gift that the universe gave them when they incarnated, and they put that in the service of their goals…

And when we see these people, we invariably call them larger than life. Life is large, but most of us don’t take up nearly the space the universe intended for us. We take up this wee space ‘round our toes, which is why when you see somebody in the full flow of their humanity, it’s remarkable. They’re at least a foot bigger in every direction than normal human beings, and they shine, they gleam, they glow. It’s like they swallowed the moon.”

So this new section is devoted to the folx who look like they have swallowed the moon. Whether they have fully stepped into their Starring Roles, are living out their Brand of Joy, are staring down their Impostor Complex, or are embodying Unshakeable Confidence.

Here’s some level setting:

Oprah at the 2018 Golden Globes.

And Beyoncé at the MVA Awards.

Fare thee well, Mary Oliver. Thank you for your heart and your words and your brutal and exquisite honesty.

“To live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.” - Mary Oliver, 9/10/1935 - 1/17/2019

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This is a passage of my book that I completed this week. It will be a dedication to someone who has influenced me and inspired me in the most quiet and powerful way.

On a long drive home from the east coast one August day not so very long ago, we were in that sweet and comfortable wordless space that comes from plenty of time spent together. Nothing needed to be said. Natalie Merchant crooned softly about River Phoenix as we coasted through the White Mountains in Vermont on our way back home to Canada.

Present to my current joy but with an eye on the year to come, my mind kept playing out what’s next in my business, turning over options and vetting my excitement level. Wondering when I’d FINALLY make time to write my book. This book.

We pulled into the teensiest border outpost I’ve ever seen. Out came the border guard from her hut that was on the passengers’ side. My side. A tiny black woman with close-cropped hair, and dancing eyes. She asked my husband, Greg the requisite questions about alcohol and purchases. He answered. She nodded, then tilted her head towards me and looked me straight in the eye. Something new appeared in her face. An unforgettable blend of curiosity and deep knowing. She asked me when my book would finally get written.

Dumbfounded, I sputtered that I hoped soon.

She said, I hope so too, Honey. The world needs it.

She then shook her head as if to break the spell, and waved us through.

Over the past years, as I wrote and fretted and sweated and edited, I’ve never forgotten that look on her face. Divinely guided. She knew. She just knew.

So, thank you, Vermont Border Guard. Thank you for listening to the Angels that whispered the words I needed to hear. I’m coming for you, this very book in my hand. I hope you’re a hugger.

I find it helpful…

I find it helpful to know somebody I think the world of somewhere is trying to get rid of an earworm.

I also find it helpful...

...to remember that most everyone is in denial about their current age.

...to listen to stories of barriers people that don’t look like me face so I can dial down my judgment and ramp up my resolve.

...to know that everyone gets interrupted by someone. And it is annoying, but it doesn’t mean as much as we make it out to mean.

...to remember that everyone needs comfort.

...to remember that the patriarchy wins when we spend time tearing ourselves and each other down...instead of the patriarchy. (Distinction ahoy: I’m not talking about calling in. I’m talking about tearing down.)

...to be reminded that there are no actual experts in anything but our own lives.

...to see that sometimes even when it feels right, it is still technically wrong. (Fifth clap in the Friends theme song, anyone?)

...to know that no matter how long I live, I will still find out stuff that I can’t believe I didn’t know. It’s true: You know more than you think and you will never know it all. Me too.

...to appreciate that there will be moments of grace found in the way the sun bathes an object with golden light so startling that you will be brought to your knees. No matter what thought preceded the moment.

...to remember that we are all cool kids in someone else’s eyes.

...to see that I have done incredible things. And I will continue to do so. As long as I keep showing up. And learning. And recalibrating. And staying open. And receiving the help. Because I sure as shit didn’t do any of it entirely alone.

...to keep coming back to the fact that our teachers and ancestors must to be acknowledged. Give thanks.

...to remember that I will not remember the worry in my heart that I was holding when I was on the couch and her feet were tucking into my knees...but I will remember the feeling of her feet in my knees.

...to remember there is a big difference between getting noticed and being seen.

...to know, really know, that self love is when we love ourselves...but self care is when we prove it.

...to see that We all assume the worst the best we can.

...to remember that I am not my thoughts. I am not my thoughts. I am not my thoughts. AND YET. Sometimes those thoughts are rooted in very real fears. So...both. And.

...to always keep in mind that no matter who they are, from Maya Angelou to John Lennon. From Lupita Nyong'o to Albert Einstein...if you’re up to amazing things, you WILL experience the Impostor Complex. And the only way through is some magical combination that only you can conjure of rooting into your capacity, meeting the critics, gathering your people and hours lived.

Not the helpful post on navigating grief over the holidays I THOUGHT I would write...

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Earlier this week, I shared on Insta Stories that I was intent on writing out some tips to how to navigate grief over the holidays.

I had grand plans to give you the Solid Top Five That Really Work™. That would be most useful and helpful to you. Now and always.

These are MY ways of managing my own grief this holiday season.

  • Forging new traditions.

  • Plans to review investment and philanthropic strategies.

  • Assembling the Cast.

  • Asking for what I need.

  • Focusing on more of more and less on less.

And they DO work.

Or at least, they have held so far.

But the truth is, we are just now on top of the dates that are and will be the hardest for me to be with. So I’m still in the messy middle of it all.

Backing up.

My mother died December 27, 2004.

Backing up.

She went into cardiac arrest on December 18, 2004.

Backing up.

She was on “day release” from the hospital. It was supposed to be the day she would be well enough to do the shopping she had missed out on and other Christmas things (Christmas is our tradition). But since it had become clear that she was going to spend Christmas in the hospital and likely for a spell longer than we had anticipated, she asked us to come by the house and tend to the things she wanted tending to that she was concerned weren’t happening while she was “away." (Away sounds so much lovelier, doesn’t it? Like she was at a spa in Arizona, rather than stuck in a stale hospital room while her team of care tried to figure out which one of her failing organs needed to be addressed next.)

My sister and I spent the day ironing linens and fussing about her. I lotioned her frail and thin-skinned feet. She was swathed in the fuchsia mohair afghan I had knitted. Dad served her the oysters my brother-in-law had ordered in from a friend in Nova Scotia. She smiled wanly as we scolded her when she smoked her cigarettes. I think I want to feel badly about this, but I don’t. My sister and I left before my husband Greg did. He stayed behind to help Dad get Mom into the car when it was time for her to go “back”. I don’t remember the last words I said to her. Nor hers to me. Probably “I love you. I love you very much.” I may have even sung her our song. Maybe she sang it back.

Greg told me later that when he was helping her down the stairs, she looked very frightened. I can’t recall if she actually told him that or not. I’ll ask him later tonight.

My sister and I were back at my house, talking but not really. Greg came home and poured us all drinks. He and I would be heading to a holiday party shortly. My sister was going to stay over and take care of our 8-month old. I was putting on some sparkly brown eyeliner - the kind I would only ever wear to a holiday party - when the call came in. From my Dad.

She had gone into cardiac arrest on the car ride back to the hospital.

At that moment, our friends arrived to walk us over to the party. I don’t remember what I said. I’ll ask them tomorrow night.

There’s not much more to say about that horrific night.

She went into a coma.

The next week was spent... there’s not much more to say about that horrific week.

But it became clearer and clearer she wasn’t coming “back." No matter what plans my Dad had for making the house more accessible. No matter what deals he tried to make with his God. No matter... anything.

The doctors wanted her to get through Christmas. Meaning, they didn’t want her to die on Christmas because they knew that grief would be inextricably linked with that celebration.

So, she died on the 27th. The irony, of course, is that my sister and I took up smoking that week. We were all outside with our rediscovered habit when she died. We came back to her room to see a nurse covering her with a sheet. The nurse had tears in her eyes. She had just lost family to the tsunami in Indonesia. She and my father hugged.

I don’t recall if I told my brother-in-law that those oysters were the last thing she ate. I’ll ask him on Christmas Day.

Going forward.

My dying father finally signed the Power of Attorney over to me on December 27, 2017. There’s not much more to say about that horrific day.

He died on January 3, 2018. I do remember his last words: “I love you. I love you very much.”

Here now.

So yes.

  • Forging new traditions.

  • Plans to review investment and philanthropic strategies.

  • Assembling the Cast.

  • Asking for what I need.

  • Focusing on more of more and less on less.

So far, they are holding strong.

I’m allowing for the grief when she shows up. Pouring her a tea when I can, and pushing her away when I can’t.

And we’ll see how said strategies hold for the days to come.

But here’s what I promise: I’ll keep working on the strategies to help me with my grief and I’ll let you know how it goes next Friday.

Do we have a deal?

In the meantime, please know this:

I am profoundly grateful to you. For your time and attention. For your thoughtfulness and kindness. For your ideas and comments and questions. For letting me know how my work and life and business helps you in your work and life and business. It’s everything.

And I want deeply on your behalf. I am wishing you love, joy, and peace. And for you to navigate any and all of the grief that you hold in your heart with care. Any and ALL.

This may be the last time we offer the Starring Role Academy.

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Happy Friday, All!

I’m dead-smack in the middle of the launch of my 2019 Starring Role Academy which begins in January and, Honey? I am tiiiiiiiiiired. I’m excited and delighted by who has shown up and cannot wait to see who is yet to step in and UP in 2019.

But I’m tired, so I’ve taken a mid-week break and a stretch to rest and allow something to come to light that was only a shadow in the periphery before.

2019 will be the final cohort of the Starring Role Academy exactly as it is. It will be different in 2020 IF we rerun it. Not because it isn't the best thing (next to co-creating my Kid) that I've ever created, but rather, it's telling me it wants to shift.

And I pay impeccable attention to my vision.

My vision scares me, to be certain. It’s asking me to leave behind something that I know like the back of my hand. It’s asking more of me than I ever (thought I) have had to give. It’s demanding and relentless and unyielding. And I am obedient to her. Like I have been all along. That’s what Integrity looks like, for me.

It’s uncomfortable.

Two inextricably linked and irrevocably certain truths:

I can’t afford to allow the Impostor Complex to have me whittle back on my vision any more than you can.

To lose myself in people-pleasing.
To allow my boundaries to bend to the will of others.
To be shut down by comparison.
To dim my light for fear of hitting up against anyone else’s limits for me. (Naw. I’ll be tending to my light, thankyouverymuch.)
To avoid the potential risk in procrastination.
To stay locked in the confoundingly circular game of ready when perfect which really means perfect when ready.

So I’m doing what I beseech my clients, my readers, my friends, and everyone who has yet to fully step into their vision.

I’m coming back to all the times I’ve stood here before, on the discomfiting precipice. I’ve seen this vista before. I know the undulations of the landscape and remember the wind across my face.

Do you?

There is a time and a space between. It is an uncomfortable space to be certain.
This discomfort only lasts as long as you choose to stand here.

There are no launch codes to your life, your art, your movement. There is just the decision.

So, let’s jump.

If you are wanting to work with me in 2019, the Starring Role Academy is the only way to do so longer-term, as I am going to be focused on giving my all to the glorious Lights in the Starring Role Academy, getting my book done, and committing to the In the Spotlight with Tanya Geisler podcast which is already taking on a life of its own (and we haven’t even relaunched it). And bringing my vision’s wishes to life. Because... I can’t not.

What jump are you making in 2019? Tell me. I want to know.


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I’m not allowed to read Michelle Obama’s new book because there have been winks and head jerks and nudges every time I mention it that have me guessing that a certain 14-year-old in my house may have used her babysitting bucks to make sure it’s under the tree for me.

But. AND, you know I’m devouring everything about the book EXCEPT the book. And my inbox is full of folx sharing press tour articles about Queen MO talking about her Impostor Complex (she calls it “Syndrome," but okay) So far, this super quick Jezebel read has been my favourite. She straight up calls it: “That whole ‘so you can have it all.’ Nope, not at the same time. That’s a lie. And it’s not always enough to lean in, because that shit doesn’t work all the time.”

Unless you come from great privilege.

Her crucial strategy to overcoming the Impostor Complex? "Finding support from people who believed in her after a high school guidance counselor told her she 'was not Princeton material.'"

Not everyone wants you to succeed. But YOUR PEOPLE do. Let them help you.

PLEASE.

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Curious to see how the Impostor Complex coping mechanisms of people-pleasing, leaky boundaries, comparison, diminishment, procrastination, and perfectionism uniquely work against you when it comes to self-development work LIKE the Starring Role Academy? I’ve been unpacking this on a mini series of Facebook Lives on my business page. Follow me on Facebook to find out when I’m tackling the one that’s most in YOUR way. Today at 10:30am EST, I’ll be talking about DIMINISHMENT.

Deb Nicholson on the Undeniable Call of Convergence

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Deb Nicholson is a fierce-hearted woman. A Domestic Violence Activist, Leader, and Facilitator for most of her life, she is an unstoppable force.

Except when it came to one teeeeensy part of her life. Which ended up being, like, EVERYTHING.

“I wanted to own myself as a writer. I wanted to do more speaking. And I wanted to integrate my career’s worth of experience in addressing violence against women. I wanted to converge all of these things in a meaningful way,” she says.

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So she reached out to me. I remember our first conversation like it was yesterday. The radiance around this woman was impossible to ignore. I heard the DV work as integral to who she was... but it was ONE PIECE of her purpose. In incredibly vital piece, to be certain. But her writer’s heart, the same fierce heart that sat and held and heard the most unthinkably horrific stories... undeniable.

“Tanya really understood my potential and really reinforced that I was already all the things I wanted to be,” Deb said. “It was that one conversation that made me decide to join the Academy.”

Once in the Academy, D immersed herself in the content and in the community. “The Academy offered me so many resources. Because the course was quite intensive and also nine months long, there was the opportunity to somewhat rewire and change my brain chemistry.

“Having someone there to kick me up the backside in recognizing when my impostor complex was creeping in — before I was able to recognize it for myself — has been some kind of miracle!”

This direction, and the reinforcement of her fellow Star Steppers, was, well... appreciated. “The kind of deep connection Tanya provided I think is really rare,” she said. “Having a group of women who can support each other and hold each other up in the way that we did was so valuable. It became a community and a sisterhood. It was far and away the greatest model of self-work I’ve ever done. There was accountability without pressure.”

In the end, the changes Deb experienced were palpable, and the results were unequivocal. “I’m taking my idea of convergence and leading it into integration. I’ve been able to make huge changes in my life, like realizing my dream of moving to France and focusing on my writing.

“The Academy provided all of the coaching that I needed to just go for it. The biggest win of all has been being able to see myself and my potential in the way that others have seen me throughout the program.”

And THAT, friends, is my EVERYTHING.

And guess what? She’s coming back to the Starring Role Academy in 2019.

I cannot WAIT to see what the next year is going to hold for this Warrior Woman. And to JOIN her at her June Volcano Writing Retreat. Check out her retreats here. What's not to love about an all inclusive retreat in a château in the French Pyrenees?

And your next year? What convergence will be leading to integration in 2019 for you? Hit reply. I’d love to know.

PS - You will get to meet Deb, JennNic, and Michelle as well as some of the other INCREDIBLE Lights of the previous Starring Role Academy cohorts when you join us for a FREE Open House Dec 12th at 7p EST. You can grab your spot here.


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The curtains to the 2019 Starring Role Academy are now OPEN and we are almost halfway sold out!

And if you are thinking about it but have some Q's, you can book a private call with me to discuss discuss this TODAY. This is the heart of my work. It's the all of what I do. It is my greatest joy and I already feel a pang as I say that this will be the last year that I run it exactly as it is.

So this year, I'm pouring even more of myself into it. New depths, new levels, all that I have.

Curious to see how the Impostor Complex coping mechanisms of people-pleasing, leaky boundaries, comparison, diminishment, procrastination, and perfectionism uniquely work against you when it comes to self-development work LIKE the Starring Role Academy? I’ll be unpacking this over the next six days on a mini series of Facebook Lives on my business page. Starting TODAY at 10:30am EST. Follow me on Facebook to find out when I’m tackling the one that’s most in YOUR way.I’m starting with a bang with PEOPLE-PLEASING. (My personal brand of IC.)

Jenn Sutkowski on sharing the music.

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I watched Jenn Sutkowski throughout 2019 with no small amount of awe.

A creative who is an intoxicating blend of radiance and boldness, alongside tenderness and kindness. Her heart is both fierce and soft. The ANDness you know so well.

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As a self-described “business of one,” she often found herself to be her own worst critic.“I don't have a whole team that's saying, ‘Oh yeah, it's great!’ so my inner critic can be very loud. The inner critic and the Imposter Complex like to work together to stop me from living my dreams.”

Which is no bueno given the amount of talent she has to share with the world through writing business, her work as a memoirist and, most recently, an album of songs.

And THAT is why she joined the Starring Role Academy this year. Lucky, lucky us.

She said this about the first time we spoke. “Tanya has an amazing gift to just see right into you. I felt known, very fast and in a super genuine way, which is quite rare.

“By the time our first call was over I could tell that being part of the Academy was going to be a very nourishing experience.”

She hit the ground running, focusing on her inner critics and the underlying values she knew they were holding fast. “[Knowing they were trying to protect me] flipped things around for me, and I now know to focus on excellence, deep connection, and innovation in my work. I learned to see that part of myself as an ally.”

So. I loved watching her do this work. Of course. Driven, smart, radiant, folx digging deep and in is my greatest thrill.

And there was another level to my connection with her too.

See, I lost my Dad in January. She lost her Dad in March. We had both already lost our mothers. It’s an odd and beautiful and precious thing to be able to see such a familiar ache in someone AS you watch them soar.

But it was the loss of her Dad, who had been a huge champion of her music, that made her realize that life was too short not to finally finish and share her first album. She quotes Dr. Wayne Dyer who said, “Don’t die with your music still in you.”

She said: “Thanks to The Academy, I've done a lot of creative work that I don't think I would have completed otherwise. I realized I am super vulnerable around my music, and this work brought me to the decision that if I'm working on new music, I also need to release the stuff that I have been working on for years. I need to share my art as I create it.”

And getting the help to gather her team to produce this first album was BIIIIIIG Impostor Complex-busting stuff.

“I’m an artist who very much likes to be in my own cave,” she explains. “I don’t like to involve others in my work until absolutely necessary. Even when creating my music I was reluctant to involve an engineer as I worried that what I created at home wouldn’t be good enough."

But she did.

Again: lucky, lucky us.

She did the work. And the Academy was there to support her. And to CELEBRATE her.

“Women are so powerful, but we’re considered too big for our britches if we express joy in what we've created. The Academy really encouraged everyone to celebrate their own accomplishments and see that as the norm instead of the ‘good girls don't brag’ thing. There were so many amazing women in the Academy to share with.”

“The Academy is set up so well from beginning to end. The work is simple — not easy. It's just the right amount of work, and it's deep work too.”

Simple, not easy is our mantra, ‘round here.

But my favourite quote from her about the work we do in the Academy MUST be this: "It's like throwing the inner critic a valium tucked into a piece of cheese."

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Good, right? I’m sharing Jenn’s story with you today, November 23, because it’s the day her beloved Mama passed away and ALSO her parents’ wedding anniversary. (The first she is observing with neither parent alive... this is not easy to navigate, I can tell you, just having done this myself two weeks ago)Will you do me a solid and send her a big blast of love by going to check out her album today? It’s ethereal, unique, charming, brilliant, and powerful. Just like Jenn. (And that beauty on the cover? Her Mom. Who looks shockingly like my own.)

Life is short. What’s the music in you that needs to be expressed?

PS - If you think the Starring Role Academy is the place for you tame your Critics, overcome the Impostor Complex so your precious work can get out into the world and you could use the coaching, community and content to get you there, I’m hosting a week of open calls to discern fit next week. Grab your spot here.


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It’s endlessly fascinating to me where the Impostor Complex shows up. I mean, it usually shows on the precipice of something new...but when it shows up, it’s ALWAYS on the precipice of something important. Entrepreneurship, leadership, creativity, speaking, activism, and parenting... whatever MATTERS. This recent batch of podcast interviews spans the gamut of where and how it shows up:

Start-ups and Entrepreneurship - I really enjoyed getting to know Naomi Mdudu of The Lifestyle Edit.She is as delightful as she is no-nonsense. We talked about how the Impostor Complex shows up when you are starting up a business.

Relationships and Dating - Last week was the first time that I’ve been interviewed about how the Impostor Complex impacts dating and love. Because, like I told Sandy Weiner, my gracious host: “It keeps us from ourselves. When we’re kept from ourselves, we can’t connect deeply with others.” That’s just true.

Endurance Sports - I cherish any time with coach and author Jen Brown of Sparta Chicks. We spoke last year about the Impostor Complex and this year, we dove into Unshakeable Confidence. Fearlessly. Like we do.

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I am savouring making sourdough bread. Turns out, I really am becoming more like my father every day. It all started with drinking black coffee and running out of patience for ignorance, which has been curious to witness in myself. But I do believe I have just started to pick up the trail for his lifelong pursuit of the perfect sourdough recipe. I’m not sure this was it, but it was pretty good. And fun to make.

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On Monday morning, we are opening the doors to the 2019 Starring Role Academy. This may just be THE year to get the extra support in the form of content, coaching, and community to help you EXPAND into your own greatest desires. 

It’s not for everyone, but it MAY be for you, so I’ve opened up my schedule NEXT WEEK to book private 1:1 calls to see if it’s right for you.

You and me, heart to heart. Schedule our chat TODAY for time next week (from Nov 26th to 30th). I’m DEEPLY interested in what’s next for you.

Nic Strack on rooting into truth.

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Nic Strack has the kind of energy that enters the room before her. You know those magical people?

It’s fueled by a palpable radiance and a heart so pure and a hashtag game so strong and a laugh that transcends infectiousness. In this moment, I can actually hear it. And though I’m feeling seriously rotten with a cold brought on by this mid-November dreich, I can feel myself warming up from the inside just conjuring that laugh.

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So today’s Friday Finale shines the spotlight on her and the way she is in the world.

Like most entrepreneurs we love and admire, Nic Strack had both a mission and an unrelenting drive to bring that mission to the world.

She decided to start a business where she would support mamas in turning inward and using their own knowing as their guiding force, instead of constantly feeling insecure and looking outside of themselves for the “right” answers.

Big stuff.

But before launching, Nic realized that to be true to her dream, she had her own personal development to address.

For as long as should could remember, she didn’t experience complete alignment when being called a “tomboy,” because it didn’t accurately capture her whole experience of gender. She once danced on the surface of exploring genderqueerness, but quickly backed away for fear of how much her life would change should she continue down that road of exploration.

A few years later, after feeling like a part of her had been erased while being pregnant, giving birth, and experiencing her first year as a mom, she finally decided to courageously explore her own gender identity. As she spent more time discussing gender with her queer best friends, she also started to spend more time in queer spaces.

“For the first time in my life, I was in groups where I felt immediately accepted — no questions asked,” she shared. “It was then that I realized I’d lived my entire life without feeling that kind of deep unspoken belonging.”

Around the same time, a friend introduced Nic to the Unshakeable Confidence masterclass I taught last November (I just may re-run it, come to think of it!).

“When I watched that webinar, I knew Tanya’s offering was something I needed, not just in a business context, but for my whole life. I thought it would be incredible to start my business having such a strong foundation of my own sense of self.

“I had a half-hour discovery call with Tanya, and she named things I was already secretly thinking about. She really SAW me.” Nic joined the Starring Academy soon after, and well, she soared.

“The first four months of the program involved so much unraveling I needed to do, and the last four were about rebuilding a stronger, more solid sense of self,” Nic said. “In the group Tanya created, I felt safe asking the other members to hold anything and everything with me, and I was met with such beautiful witnessing and support and love. It bolstered me to want to explore my gender identity and my gender expression even more.”

She made the wildly courageous decision to come out to her family as genderqueer in early September.

“When I sat down to have that conversation with my parents, I was able to truly sit there in my grown-up self and not be asking them for validation. My attitude going in was ‘This is the truth of who I am, and I want you to know that.’ I could feel the love and the support of the people in The Academy because I had asked for it — literally... I asked the group that at 7:30pm, please send as much love and support as you can!

"I hadn’t imagined, even earlier this year, so definitely not a year ago, that by September 2018 I would have come out to my parents and would be ready to publicly be out in the world. I am clear that I tapped into my courage and congruence to do so because I was in The Academy.

"There are the two sides of work that were done [in the Academy]. It was the way that I showed up for the work, and the way that the work showed up for me.

“These last nine months have skyrocketed me.”

Yeah. She SHOWS UP. For herself, her husband, her daughter, and her life in the most authentic and fulfilling ways. With that laugh that skyrockets ME.

And honestly... where she’s headed next?

WHEW.

Nic and I both want to know... what part of your truth have you been hiding in order to appear more socially palatable?


PS - You will get to meet Nic and some of the other INCREDIBLE Lights of the previous Starring Role Academy cohorts if you join us for a FREE Open House Dec 12th at 7p EST. You can grab your spot here.  You’ll also meet Jo and Lacy whose stories we shared over on social media over the past two weeks!

Michelle Mazur is leading the Three-Word Rebellion.

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And she is STELLAR.

She also happened to be in the Starring Role Academy this past year and is one of the Lights I promised to tell you about.

She showed up to the Academy with a lot under her accomplishment belt.

With a Ph.D in Communication, she had already published two books and run courses for entrepreneurs looking to hone their unique message and find their audience. With her latest book - The Three-Word Rebellion - being readied for publication, she realized that the success she envisioned for her own business was juuuuuust out of reach.

“I was getting in my own way. I wasn't showing up consistently, wasn't telling people about the work that I was doing in the world. I wasn't playing a bigger game,” she shared. “I was kind of hiding out and flying under the radar.”

Sound familiar? That’s precisely what the Impostor Complex does. No matter what you’ve done before, it will have you discount it. And it will have you downplay the VERY THINGS you are intended to build upon. Sneaky bastard.

This realization led Michelle to the Starring Role Academy, and an even more profound “a-ha” moment.

“Before this year I thought I didn’t know what I wanted my business to be. The fact is that I did know, but it was easier to hide behind the excuse that I didn't because what I wanted was so big, so audacious, and so visibility-demanding that it would take a lot of transformation. The Academy finally helped me to say this out loud.”

Michelle started with the Starring Role Playbook, which set her on the right course from a content perspective, but really underscored her desire for much deeper support through enrollment in the Academy.

“The calls with Tanya and the one-on-one feedback that are incorporated into the Academy are definitely some of the best work that I've done,” she said, “as well as the community where you can share your ‘a-ha’ moments when you’ve figured out a pattern that you're currently trapped in.”

But the real value of the Academy for Michelle was realizing that the key to her success was not focusing on making money or the work of her perceived “competitors,” but rather the inherent value of what she was creating and delivering. Which is A LOT.

“Even when someone does something similar, I know how different it is, and so then I can still be supportive and celebrate them while knowing that I am badass and can do good work. My work is meaningful and there are clients who will want to work with me because of it. And I'll actually have a six-figure business this year because I'm well on track.”

With a newly-invigorated approach to her work through the Academy, Michelle has launched her Three-Word Rebellion and hundreds of entrepreneurs are creating their own unique rallying cry that’s growing their business and launching their movement.

“If you are feeling at that place where you're stuck and you're not getting where you want to go, no matter what you try, then it's time to look inward and see what's really going on, what's really holding you back, because it's most likely not your business or what you do or how much you know. It's going to be the stuff like the Impostor Complex and the Inner Critic, the patterns that you don't even know you foster, that have to be unearthed in order for you to move forward. And that’s where the Academy can help you.”

Like I said. She’s STELLAR.

In fact, listen for yourself. I had the sublime pleasure of being her guest on her Rebel Rising podcast. We talked all about Unshakeable Confidence and she shared her own experience with Diminishment and her journey back towards Presence. Thanks be.

Michelle sez my rebellion is around Unshakeable Confidence.

I’m curious. If you were leading your own Three Word Rebellion, what would you call it?

If you just don’t feel like yourself...

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Every day this week - one full week before the official school year begins - we’ve watched our daughter head off to her new high school (!!!), backpack and high ponytail bouncing off behind her.

Her new school has offered what they call “transition week." We haven’t really known what that was, so have been calling it “boozeless frosh week." But we’ve discovered it’s largely a settling in of taking subways, finding lockers, getting student ID pics, and getting the kids acclimatized for what they keep threatening will be the fast pace of grade 9. And if I’m guessing, I’d say also designed to settle the butterflies of overprotective parents (ahem).

She’s been asking me a ton about high school. We’ve been sharing our highs and lows. Mostly the highs for me. I came ALIVE in high school.

At some point in an epic basement cleanout over the summer, I came across alllllll of my yearbooks. Every last one that I thought I had lost over several moves. Starting from grade 8 all the way through to grade 13 (and if you didn’t know how old I was before and you live in Ontario, NOW you have a sense.)

Stay with me for this next boring point about Ontario’s public school system. Some middle schools went from grade 7-9 and the corresponding high school started in grade 10. That was the track I was on. Other high schools started in grade 9... like my kid’s school.

My middle school years were unpleasant. And so I left the stream after grade 9 and made a fresh start at a new and different high school where I knew no one but two cool guys I coached tennis with. (Which was my version of cool back in the day. Yep.)

But when asked why I left years later, I couldn’t ever really put my finger on it. It wasn’t like I was BULLIED in middle school. I wasn’t in TROUBLE. History is a funny thing and time can either harden or soften the edges. All I recall in my retelling of why I chose to leave the track I was on was that “I just didn’t feel myself.”

My daughter has been curious about that language: “I just didn’t feel like myself.”

And then we opened up my grade 9 yearbook. And she SAW. And I SAW. 
 

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That was the picture my peers chose of me. That was the pose they put me in. They said I looked like Micky Dolenz from the Monkees (never mind the misspelling on my t-shirt). And something about having smelly feet. Okay. Ouch, but okay.

And I, of course, was not the only one poked fun of. The kid who struggled with her weight was put in a sumo suit. The boy who, well... I won’t say more. Let’s just say each of our insecurities were amplified and caricaturized. And far worse. Homophobic, ableist, and racist visual “jokes” on every page. “Hey, lighten up”,right? “It’s just kid’s stuff back in the mid-80’s!”

My daughter was horrified to see the drawings. Wondered who the staff advisor was who allowed for such cruelty.

And thennnnnnnnn we got to the yearbook comments and signatures. Yikes. All but a few were mean-spirited, snarky, thinly-veiled insults. I kept seeing her watch me out of the corner of her eye, wondering how I turned out so well. Feeling her 14-year-old self wanting to reach my 14-year-old self.

We couldn’t get through them all together, my daughter and I. She even proposed we burn the book.

I said: “I told you I didn’t feel like myself there."

Because you know what I see in those eyes of mine? Not a kid who didn’t like herself. Naw. She liked herself juuuuuust fine. But a kid who wasn’t liked. Who wasn’t celebrated. And she couldn’t quite figure out why.

So she decided to leave and go where she might find her people.

And she did.

She started fresh at an entirely new high school. It meant leaving the classmates that she had been with for ten years and going to an entirely different area of the city. It meant disobeying her parents in her first real act of rebellion by sneaking out of the house to enrol herself in said out-of-district school. It meant big fights and lots of tears. It meant uncertainty and lonely lunches for the first month. But she needed to do it.

And she found her people. Many of whom are in her inner circle to this day. Her greatest champions, advocates, and challengers. Her chosen extended family.

It’s not easy to make another choice.

They are often not celebrated.
They are often uncertain and unsure.
But if you have choices available and staying the course is threatening to cause harm to your spirit, you must make it. You must take it.

Especially if on this current track, you don’t feel like yourself.

What is the BEST choice you ever made?


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Speaking of changing what must be changed, we are juuuuuuuuuust about ready to share with you the NEW DIRECTION of my podcast “In the Spotlight Live w/ Tanya Geisler." I am madly in love with all the conversations we had last year (you can find those conversations here), and am ready to go even DEEPER into my exploration of the Impostor Complex... uncollapsing when the barriers to leadership are INTERNAL... and when they are EXTERNAL. It’s TIME for these conversations. They may not be easy. They may be uncertain. They may be messy. And they are ESSENTIAL.

In the Spotlight Podcast with Tanya Geisler
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The business world (especially online) is constantly evolving and this can lead to excitement, opportunity, and at times, overwhelm. We’re told to work longer hours, hustle harder, follow blueprints, "crush it," and "reach six figures" at all costs.

But what if that’s leaving us exhausted, burnt out, disillusioned, and lonely?

Jo Casey is a coach for meaningful business owners and specialises in helping women overcome their feminine conditioning (the messages society gives about how to be a "good" woman) and build businesses that allow us all to thrive.

She’s put together a online, 5-day event focused on conversations about how we can create businesses and lives that are TRULY sustainable. Businesses that are sustainable ethically, emotionally, energetically, and financially.

She’s brought together some of the wisest, funniest, warmest, and most insightful women she knows to share their experiences and expertise in building their own meaningful businesses. And I’m one of them.

Join us here.

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Savouring this exquisitely bittersweet moment of the year. The space between summer and fall here in the northern hemisphere. I’m savouring these last sips of summer. The last of the peaches and the tomatoes and the hot days and thinking of apples and sweaters and fires.

One of our end-of-summer traditions, 40-some years in the making, is to go to the end of summer fair called the CNE. I’ve been taking my daughter and her bestie every year. This may be the last year they’ll let me tag along and buy them crap, but this was the first year my kid got on THAT crazy-assed ride.


Given that, what now?

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We’ve picked up our daughter from her two-week stint at summer camp (there may have been a tear or two) and we have been reconnecting up at our in-law’s gorgeous cottage for the week.

We are enjoying books, hammock time, s’mores, Monopoly, tennis, and the rain day which saw us baking cookies and devouring lasagna.

As I type this, I hear the two of them on the lake. He’s in the canoe and she’s chasing him on the SUP. She is laughing hysterically as she splashes him with her paddle. She is fully clothed and I suspect will end up in the water soon. (Updated to add: I was correct.)

The days are still hot with a little bite of fall when the wind blows from the east.

The air is clean and the water is cleaner. This is no small thing.

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We give thanks a thousand times a day and it is still insufficient.

All of this grace led to a very complicated and necessary conversation over Monopoly around power, colonialism, white privilege, “the tax,” and generational wealth. (Everything is an opportunity for discussion if you decide to make it so.)

As ever, there were more questions raised than answers given, which has had to be fine. For the moment. Because this moment, you know? It’s truth. It’s what we have. It’s what we know. But THIS time I followed it up with the question my friend Jenn McCabe raises: “Given that, what now?”

This is a question that can cut to the quick... and the true. It won’t quit me.

The game of Monopoly will never be the same for any of us.

Giving thanks for that. And for the good questions. And for the clean water.


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Clearly, I’m savouring much these days. Including:
These intersectional feminist podcasts.
Staci Jordan Shelton’s new digital digs and her new offering ALCHEMY is SUBLIME.
The lake.
This piece from Bari Tessler on firing her CFO.

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Loved my interview with Colleen Gratzer over on Creative Boost. Alllll about the Impostor Complex. She wasn’t afraid to ask the stumpers.

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Have a podcast and want me to speak to your listeners about the Impostor Complex or Unshakeable Confidence? Email me and let's talk.


Do the work.

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It’s DO THE WORK month in the Starring Role Academy.

There will be products launched.
Self-care regimens implemented.
Sites revealed.

Podcasts RElaunched (*raises hand*).

And a whole host of other things I will hold in sacred confidence.

But the point is... work will be done.

Hey. I know. Oh, how I know. Steve Pressfield said it best and it’s a drum we ALLL bang on.

Why? Because nothing happens without actually doing the work.

Like... nothing.

In the Academy, we’ve set ourselves up pretty well by claiming the goals, meeting our internal critics (and the Impostor Complex... daily), bolstering our sense of capacity, and gathering our cast.


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So now there’s nothing to it but to do it.

This is where the rubber meets the road.
The undeniable precipice of the DOING.

We’ve been here plenty of times, haven’t we?
Hired the personal trainer.
Signed up for the course.
Bought the book.

But if we don’t show up to the work, or lift the weights, or engage with the community, or crack the spine, we don’t get where we say we want to go. 
And boy oh boy...that’s precisely what our Impostor Complex was counting on.

Action, Loves. It’s only action that counts.

Because the work doesn’t work unless you do it.

And like I shared on Instagram: there is still plenty of time.
AND? Not all the time in the world. Get going.

PS - Speaking of “doing the work”, I have signed up for Rachel Cargle’s #dothework challenge. I’m not excited to face my own privilege and white supremacy. Which means it’s time to do so. Stay tuned.


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Grateful for this big ol’ shout out from the one and only Michelle Mazur. Listen in as she talks about the three key things she’s done to completely transform her mindset (and her results) in 2017.

And Casey Erin Wood shares how she is getting the second draft of her book done this month in the Academy, which is to say with planning, tracking, and accountability. DOING THE WORK. GORGEOUS.

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Did I tell you about the best pad thai I’ve ever had? Had some friends over Saturday night and we were shown how to do it. WAYYYY easier than I had thought. (But it’s pretty involved shopping to be certain.) Trick I’ve learned is to SOAK the noodles...not boil them. Game-changer.

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Have a podcast and want me to speak to your listeners about the Impostor Complex or Unshakeable Confidence? Hit reply and let's talk.


Laziness or angels. And what now?

“My family is safe... but you know, we were very verrrrrry close to having gone to that area for dinner last night. Laziness kept us home. My heart breaks for everyone who was there, everyone affected... in truth, my heart's kind of breaking for EVERYONE these days.”

This was the message I wrote to my sisterfriend Staci Jordan Shelton when she asked if I was safe the day after the shooting on the Danforth here in Toronto. (As a subscriber, you may have noticed that my mailing address is a PO Box on the Danforth.)

The exchange continued:

Staci Jordan Shelton: Laziness or intuition. Either way I'm grateful you weren't anywhere near there. I'm so heartbroken for the people there.

Me: Thank you.

SJS: One day I'll tell you how being lazy kept that tree from falling on me. Thank the angels for lazy days and the willingness to listen to the pull to be lazy sometimes.

Me: Yes.Yes, you are so very, very right. I wonder just how often that happens... and then remember the grace is in the noticing... not the needing to understand.

SJS: Yes indeed... and in the heeding that small voice that tells us to slow down, be still, or "not today."

I wrote earlier this week that it doesn’t matter what took you so long.


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That there may be a hundred factors at play. Including angels nudging you back onto the couch under the guise of “laziness."

But I’m here to remind you, as I feel I do every week (and could probably do every hour): You’re here now. And what you do NOW is what matters.

The same day as 18-year-old Reese Fallon and 10-year-old Julianna Kozis were shot dead for being alive in Toronto, 18-year-old Nia Wilson was shot dead for being Black in San Francisco.

Unacceptable. The shooting the stabbing the hatred the disease. Totally and entirely unacceptable.

AND.

How long can we wring our hands and bemoan how it is all so unacceptable? I don’t have the answer, but I’m going to keep asking the questions of myself. Questions I ought to have been asking all along. About mental health and gun control and oppressive systems and marginalized communities and white supremacy.

Because if angels or laziness has afforded me the good grace to be alive, then I have things to do.

And what I do NOW is what matters.

Stay tuned.

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A few years back, I attended Anne Lamott’s book reading here in Toronto. Wrote about it here. Her special guest was musician Steve Bell. He sang this song called Mercy Now and it was haaaaaaaaunting.I must have heard it hundreds of times in my heart as my father was dying. And I’m thinking about it a lot a lot a LOT this week. We could all use some mercy now.

Savouring deep and nourishing conversations with my loves this week including Jamie Ridler in The Living Room and sweet and quiet mercy-counting walks with my man and the sunrise.

This bit of levity and righteous resistance was welcome respite that I’m savouring thanks to Desiree Adaway.

And you? What grace and mercies are you savouring this week?