How are you? Really.

How are you? Really.

Hi! How are you?
Good. How are you?
Good.

How many times have we had that conversation? *tries to count*

So, I asked you how you are right now, would you say “good”?

Good is one of those throw-away words. According to the dictionary, it can mean anything from pleasurable to being approved of to having the qualities desired for a particular role. It doesn’t really mean much as there are no descriptors or specifics.

When someone says “good” to me, I ask if they can explain. I want to hear something that isn’t automatic. I want to know more. I want deeper. I want real.

If I asked you right now how you are, what would you WANT to say?

There’s a war going on – I’m scared!
There’s an election happening – I’m worried!
The housing market feels unstable – I’m uncomfortable.
I’m working on a new offering for clients – I’m excited!
I’m having a baby – I’m thrilled!
I’m going on vacation soon – I’m ready!

That’s SO much more real. I can understand all of that. I can feel you in it. I believe you.

What if we took it a step further? What if I asked you to tell me how you were feeling, yet you had to be completely UNFILTERED? What would you say then?

You’d probably look around to see if anyone was watching, lean in closer, and whisper it.

You might share about how your job doesn’t feel as stable, how your team is underperforming, how your marriage isn’t as happy as it looks, how you’re body doesn’t feel as healthy as it used to, how you aren’t sleeping very well because of the stress at work, how you wish you could do the work you really want to do, how you didn’t handle that last client situation as well as you wanted, how this war overseas is causing you anxiety, how you want to call up that one “friend” and tell him off, how the world feels a bit unstable, and how you don’t know what to do about any of it.

You also might share about how your kid just won an award in school, how your significant other is crushing it at work, how loved your dog makes you feel when you get home from work, how you cooked a meal for yourself last night that felt like love, how your best friend called and you laughed for an hour, how you finally bought yourself that new car and drove it nowhere all afternoon just because, how you meditated for 15 minutes (finally!), how you almost fit into your favorite jeans, and how you dream of celebrating your next birthday with your besties in the Bahamas.

So, why don’t you share those things out loud?

I once had a client who said she didn’t want to share much on social media because she was worried she’d get canceled, bullied, or go viral for the wrong reason. She didn’t want to ruin her reputation, yet she was also too scared to build it.

This sentiment is shared by most people. There are few brave enough to share their real selves with the world. Few who will be real enough to take a stance for what they believe in. Even fewer willing to be vulnerable enough to share more than “good.”

What if I told you that you HAD to share your feelings out loud? On social media? On a stage? In front of all of your friends and family? With the whole world?

What if I told you that you couldn’t hold back just because it might hurt someone else’s feelings? Or it might make someone mad? Or it might make someone think you are arrogant or selfish? Or it might make someone not like you?

What if I told you that you filtering yourself with GOOD is keeping you small?

What if I told you that everything you want is on the other side of GOOD?

Would you be mad at me? Would you hate me? Would you think I was a terrible person? GREAT! I don’t care.

Wanna know why I don’t care? Because I care about YOU.

I’m tired of watching you pretend everything is ok. I’m tired of watching you say you’re making the money you’re not really making. I’m tired of you telling everyone everything is GOOD when you go home and suffer in silence. I’m tired of you being lonely – wishing for people to talk to about what’s really going on, yet keeping yourself quiet so you don’t upset anyone. I’m tired of you keeping it all to yourself for months until you explode in a ball of fury and no one understands what happened. I’m tired of you wishing for more, yet staying quiet and small.

If I asked you how you are right now, what would you say if you were done playing small?
What would you say if you were UNFILTERED?

Take one step – it doesn’t have to be a big one. Say something – ANYTHING – other than “good.”

Let’s start over.
HI! How are you?
(Your turn.)

 

 

We Can Do Hard Things… Right?

We Can Do Hard Things… Right?

We Might Need A New Tool

You know those movie bar scenes where one guy says something about another guy under his breath and it ends in someone passed out and bloody on the floor? Yeah, you’ve seen them. They can be set in saloons in the old west with the Marlboro Man or in Boston at a bar run by Ben Affleck. Let’s dissect them for a moment.

There’s a guy with his hands wrapped around his drink sitting at the bar quietly seething.
There’s another guy walking by with chip on his shoulder waiting for a fight.
There are a bunch of other guys sitting at tables playing cards or chatting about the game on TV.
There’s a bartender wiping out a glass with a dirty rag taking stock of everyone in the bar.

The guy walking by bumps the guy sitting quietly.
A fight breaks out.
Chairs get thrown.
Guys get punched.
The bartender ducks.
Everything gets broken.
Everyone is bloody.
They finish.
Nothing is resolved.
End scene.

THAT is what we think of when we think of anger. You get mad, someone pushes the wrong button, and you explode. Everyone gets hurt. Nothing good happens.

What if it didn’t have to be that way?

I learned very early on that if you’re not the angriest person in the argument, you’re not allowed to be angry. If you can’t stand toe-to-toe with someone filled with rage, you’ll just start crying. If you aren’t going to follow through with violence, you must walk away.

I cried a lot as a kid. But I tried… I REALLY tried. I tried to get just as mad. And I always failed. I got blamed. I got in trouble. I wasn’t up to snuff on the rage thing. So, I developed the ability to hold it in. Hold it in until it finally came out as tears. Or more.

I’m not sure if you know what happens when a person holds their feelings inside for a long time.

Yeah… they tend to explode in ways that aren’t so pretty.

There was a day recently where I felt EVERYTHING. Something had happened that felt like the world crashed down on me. It dropped me to my knees and punched me over and over again. I felt like an utter failure.

Every 15 minutes, I’d cry. The littlest things triggered me. A line from a movie. A cute TikTok. A memory.

I felt it all. Deeply. I was feeling broken open. It was painful enough that I just kept crying.

As I was spinning out, I kept thinking about what had happened. I blamed myself. I blamed them. I blamed everything I could think of blaming. Until I took another look.

I got on a call with my coach to talk through the situation. When we dug a little deeper, I realized that the situation was just a trigger. In reality, I wasn’t just sad. I was angry. Angry at myself for letting my old ways step in and run the show. I was angry at how my little self acted from a place of fear. And it was coming out in tears. Like it always did.

She told me to take a moment and let it out. I knew what that meant.

So, I got off the phone, peeked into my husband’s office & said “This isn’t about you.” Then proceeded to scare my dog by stuffing my face into a pillow and screaming until I couldn’t scream anymore. I slammed the pillows into the bed over and over. I threw myself on the bed and proceeded to have a full-on temper tantrum. Legs and arms flying. Angry noises coming out of me.

When I calmed down, I called her back. Now that it was out, we could look at what was REALLY going on. I was actually sad about other things. I was in mourning. I was mourning the loss of who I was. I was stepping into who I am really meant to be. I was experiencing the next step in my journey of personal growth. I was letting go of old patterns. I was releasing.

This idea of release has been on my mind a LOT lately. It’s scientifically proven that when we see or think of something, it tends to show up in our view more frequently. It’s called the Frequency Illusion, or the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon.

So, of course, I was watching “The Great” on Hulu. It’s a comedic, partially true story of Catherine The Great, the Empress of Russia. In this particular episode, there’s a scene where she and her husband’s older cousin go to the front lines of the war to pass out macarons to the troops. Catherine is distraught about what she finds and feels like a totally ridiculous princess giving out sweets to men who had been badly wounded while wearing her tall hair and beautiful dress.

As they head back to the palace, Catherine is processing the whole experience with a sad and scared look on her face while also wondering silently how her cousin is holding it together. Suddenly, the cousin asks the footmen to stop the carriage. She gets out and walks into the woods only to unleash a scream while kicking at leaves and throwing her arms around wildly. She finishes, walks back to the carriage and sits down. “There. That’s better. Would you like a go at it?”

What a beautiful display of anger and frustration. A full-out scream in the woods. Letting out all of the feelings without hurting anyone. NOT bottling up the sadness or rage – but letting it all out in the open. Letting it go.

Later that same day as I was scrolling through Facebook and saw a friend post about how moms are overwhelmed. They’re trying to homeschool kids, keep them safe, make decisions about vaccinations, stay healthy themselves, and keep up on the latest school closing or outbreak. And they’re bottling it up. Yet one woman took it upon herself to gather a group of other moms for a scream circle at a school football stadium. They screamed together and released the tension. It was healing. (read here)

Most of us weren’t shown what anger looks like when it’s felt and released in a healthy way. I’m not going to compare the differences between how men and women are raised, but I will say that women don’t tend to have as many places as men to fully express their anger and rage. At least not safely.

It’s not just moms. We’re all feeling this way. (If someone says “variant” ONE MORE TIME!)

I’ve been learning this last year that things don’t have to be hard. I’ve been learning that I can have everything I’ve ever dreamed of AND do it with grace and ease. I’ve also learned that letting out my feelings – including my anger – in ways that are healthy leads to even MORE grace and ease.

Since I first heard the phrase “We can do hard things”, I’ve always added “…until they become easy.” That was nice, but I now have a better one.

We can do hard things with grace, ease, and the occasional scream.

So, what if you let it all out? You threw a full-on temper tantrum in your spare bedroom. Or outside on a hiking trail. Or deep in a canyon. Or even on the roof of your building.

What if you let it all out because you decided it wasn’t serving you anymore to get mad at your kids or your dog or your spouse or the deliver guy or that lady in line at the grocery store or that “dip shit” in traffic who doesn’t know what blinkers are?

What if you decided you wanted to do hard things with grace and ease instead of trudging?

You can. And you will. If you decide you really want to.

But first, you’re welcome to scream into a pillow. (I swear, it won’t bother anyone – although my poor anxious dog will disagree.)

You CAN do hard things. With grace, ease, and the occasional scream.
xoxo
Melanie

 

 

Step Into The Magic

Step Into The Magic

Deeper Work In The Magical Middle

They showed up. Every single one of them.

They showed up for themselves. They showed up for one another. They showed the heck up.

They weren’t even sure what they were really in for, but when they showed up that first night, I watched something shift.

I sat there around a bonfire with these incredible, strong, badass women and I watched them relax into who they really are. I watched their faces searching to see if they needed to fight for the right to be in that circle. I watched them sizing each other up. I watched them posture a little to stand out. Or hide. I watched them see if they fit in. I watched them settle. Something magical was happening.

This was my 8th time hosting this event, yet it was nothing like what I started five years ago. It used to be a place for people to craft and deliver their talks with confidence. To stop being scared of the stage. Now it was something deeper – something at a soul-level.

I knew from the beginning that I had to create this event for myself. I created it as if I was the one attending. I created and crafted it as if I was the only one who needed it. It was for humans on a journey to become who they were really meant to be.

I didn’t even market it. Zero sales page. Zero social media.

I called in the humans who needed to be there. And those incredible, world-changing humans showed up.

Some of them came for skills. Others came to test me. Still others showed up because they knew me and had a feeling this was what they needed. They all found out they were right.

As I sat there by that fire the first night asking them to believe in something bigger than themselves, I saw a softening. I saw self-proclaimed Alpha-women surrender to friendships with humans they had just met. I saw them put it all on display. I saw the real, raw human they didn’t let others know was inside them.

Three intimate days of training, deepening, meditating, connecting, working, resting, practicing, and integrating. Three days learning how to deliver the talk that was deep inside of us (yep, even me!) Each one of us came out the other side as more of the humans we were meant to be.

Looking through the photos and videos, I see how our faces changed. How our interactions shifted. How our movements became more fluid. How we all stepped more fully into ourselves. I could see it that first day around the fire, yet the full experience taught us everything we needed to take the next big step in our lives and careers.

After all of the goodbyes, my Crew and I sat down to understand what had happened. None of us could explain it. None of us had words.

We all went back to integrate what we learned – every human in the Collective and in the Crew.

That’s when the Messy Middle showed up.

When they started to share about their Messy Middles, I was in awe of what had shown up for each human.

Some got sick. Some quit what they were working on. Some found better clients or a better direction for their work. Others sat in their misery and went dark. One even found she could hold onto her powers for days after. None of it was “easy.” All of us were right where we were supposed to be – as is always how it works.

Except that most of us weren’t sure how to get that blissful feeling back – the one we had as we sat in that deep, intimate space.

In my last post,  I talked about how the Messy Middle was reframed for me as the Magical Middle. I described it as “the space where all sorts of amazing things can happen and we can manifest a new reality where it doesn’t have to be so hard. We can still do all the hard things, yet they can be easy.”

As I kept getting questions and responses to the post, I realized later that I didn’t fully explain this Magical Middle in its fullest middle-ness.

It’s juicy. It can be f*ing hard. Painful. A LOT. It can get gooey and messy and scary. It can show us things we don’t want to see about ourselves.

Calling it the Magical Middle doesn’t change what’s there. It only changes our perspective. Our perspective on the time we take to integrate what we’re learning.

The words we use tend to become our reality. Messy implies that it has to be hectic. Magical tells a different story.

We can see the magic in our mess. We can see what this time of integration is teaching us. And we can hold a different vibration for what’s to come if we look at it as a magical time.

I share about the Magical Middle specifically because 2022 has just begun. My phrase for this year is Boundless Illumination. This is truly the epitome of the Magical Middle. I am in the very center of this Magical Middle – on a nomadic journey without a home, growing my crew, launching a new business brand, and clearing out a lot of shadows as I make these big changes.

Boundless: To remove the boundaries and limits on my business and personal life so I can become fully the woman I am meant to be.
Illumination: To light the world by lighting up all of the shadows in myself and others so we can see together what needs to be shifted.

Part of me feels like this is asking God for patience and waiting to see what shitstorm He throws my way to test my patience. And yet, I know I am strong enough for whatever is coming. I know it will be like that first night next to the fire – a wondering where I fit only to find that I am among like-minded growing humans who need me just as much as I need them.

I am calling in an even higher level of magic this year.
The humans I desire to work with are at a new level of awareness.
The work we’ll be doing is deeper and more true than anything we’ve done before.
The light and the shadows are waiting for us in this work.
And the vibration is at an all-time high – pushing away those who aren’t ready and calling in those who are.

As we all step into this new year, I see the Messy Middle for some has become the Magical Middle for others. I see the reframe. The new perspective. I see the Knowingness showing up for each of us – the ones who are ready to step deeper into our own magic.

Are you ready to step into your own magic?
Are you feeling as if it’s your time?
Or are you still sitting in the Messy Middle waiting for your sign?

If you feel like I’ve been talking to YOU this whole time, send me a love note – or DM me on social media. I am working on something really big and you might be the person I’ve been looking for.

Or if you got triggered by this post at all (triggered meaning mad, angry, frustrated, or sad), send me a note and tell me. I’d love to hear what comes up for you.

I’m walking alongside you. I’m here for you. With boundless illumination following me everywhere I go in my Magical Middle that feels hard, lovely, scary, and beautiful.

You don’t have to do this alone.
xoxo
Melanie

PSST. Retreat photos captured by the magical Mary Gardella

 

The Magical Middle

The Magical Middle

What The Heck Is Integration?

I was chatting with a friend yesterday about the word integration. She was having a rough time understanding what it meant to be integrating the healing and work she’d been doing.

She had attended a retreat, found deep healing, and noticed a shift in her life. She didn’t want that to stop and knew it would take time to let it sink in, yet couldn’t understand what I meant by saying she was in a time of integration.

As we talked, she got really vulnerable and said, “I just don’t get it. Will you explain it to me?”

I could tell just by her asking me to explain this word that she was already doing the work.

The word integration simply means “to combine (one thing) with another so that they become a whole.” Yet even that definition gets complicated and confusing. So, here’s how I explained it.

You’re like a robot. As your parts get older, they start wearing out and you find yourself in need of new parts. Your engineer takes off an arm and replaces it with a new upgraded arm. As the new arm gets attached to your body, you can feel the new power of it but not fully understand how to use it. Your wires are all hooked up, but the computer in your head hasn’t learned what it can do and how powerful it can be. Over time and practice, you see your new arm as a tool that can allow you to do more than you’ve ever been able to do before. As your other parts start wearing down, your engineer replaces them and you get faster and faster at learning how to use these new parts because you took the time to learn how to use your arm.

You are the engineer and the robot. Your mind is a powerful tool that allows you to pick up new skills and learn them quickly, yet taking the time to learn the first one allows you to get faster at learning the next ones. Every time you sit with the new information you’ve learned, the healing you’ve found, or even practicing the new skills you’ve acquired, you create new patterns in your brain that allow you to speed up the process in the future.

Integration is really just allowing a new learning to sink in and become a part of you.

When you don’t take time to integrate these things, you step into avoidance or bypassing. I see this a lot in communities of humans who like to peacock. They know they want to be better, but aren’t interested in doing the hard work. Looking good in front of others is more important. You hear them say they’re doing the work, yet you see them stay the same.

Bypassing can look like reading 100 business books in a year and being able to write your top 10 takeaways, yet your business is still facing the same financial, operational, or client issues it did the year before.

Bypassing can look like attending all the personal development workshops, yet still spending time with the same friends where you complain about not finding a significant other or the job that allows you to be the best you can be.

Bypassing can look like hiring a financial planner and budgeting to buy a house, yet deciding on a whim to buy that car you’ve always wanted instead.

On the other hand, when you take time for integration, your life and business can be a part of the learning process.

Integration can look like attending a transformational retreat and taking time afterward to go for long walks, journal, and meditate to put into practice what you learned.

Integration can look like reading a book slowly with a pen underlining your favorite parts and stopping often to write down your takeaways.

Integration can look like deciding you want to wake up early and start a new routine, then setting your alarm for 6am and doing it one day at a time.

The best part of integrating what you learn is understanding that it doesn’t have to be perfect.

Have you ever heard of “the messy middle”? The space between when we decide to do something and then finally see the outcome? The space where everything gets hard and frustrating, yet we know if we keep going it’ll be worth it?

It was reframed for me recently as “the magical middle.” The space where all sorts of amazing things can happen and we can manifest a new reality where it doesn’t have to be so hard. We can still do all the hard things, yet they can be easy.

If you are currently (or find yourself) in a space of transformation, new learning, or even skill-building, here are 4 steps you can take to allow yourself to find the magical middle of your integration process:

  1. Schedule time. Maybe a week, a day, 30 minutes a day – whatever it is, be sure to add some time to your calendar so you don’t skip it.
  2. Create a routine. It can be a daily routine or a one-off post-event routine. Some ideas are meditation, journaling, walking without tech, a conversation with a friend, sleeping/napping, or even getting a massage.
  3. Note the integration. Once you’ve fully understood what has happened, take time to note what shifted. Your new “arm” is in place and it’s working, so be clear that you notice it and the effects of it.
  4. Celebrate. You did it! You made it through and you’re making magic. How are you celebrating this beautiful outcome?

Integration can feel scary, yet it’s an important part of the growing process. Healing doesn’t happen over night or without thought. As long as we notice that it’s happening and take the time to let it sink in, that’s where the messy middle becomes the magical middle.

To integrating all you are learning, healing your suffering, and finding peace in the magical middle.
I’m walking alongside you, Kickass Humans!
xoxo
Melanie

 

 

Episode 13: Cliffhangers, Bookendings, & that Damn Cheeseburger

Episode 13: Cliffhangers, Bookendings, & that Damn Cheeseburger

Welcome to The Intentional Story Podcast!

It sure is hard to believe, but season 1 has almost come and gone. We have a couple of loose ends to tie up for you all, so on this episode of The Intentional Story Podcast, we are resolving cliffhangers and bookending the first season.

How we format the stories we tell can completely change the impact of our words – in both negative and positive ways. Taking the time to intentionally structure a story can build and resolve tension powerfully for your audience.

Spend some time with us as we each tell a story or two, intentionally.

We want to hear you, we want to connect with you, and we want to help you tell your stories, intentionally.

Love,
Maggie, Melanie & Nate

 


BE THE FIRST TO KNOW WHEN WE DROP EPISODES:

FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM: 
Podcast: @intentionalstorypodcast
Maggie: @maggie_burns
Melanie: @melaniespring
Nate: @natemarble

SUBSCRIBE & LISTEN IN ON YOUR FAVORITE PLATFORM: