2018 01 05 10.29.26

Stretch International cyber book club

If you missed the last book club post, you can read it here. Basic guidelines, sample questions, and chapter spearheaders are outlined therein, as are introductions down in the comment section. If you didn't have a chance to introduce yourself there, please do so here down below when you leave your comment. If you haven't already, take a minute to get to know your fellow participants. We have a great group!

While I'm on the topic of introductions, I want to thank you for the kind words you wrote about me and about my hosting of this opportunity for us to learn from one another. But. I want to be very clear that I am the one who feels honored and privileged to have met (in all the various ways we did) each and every one of you. I am blessed to be on this walk with you. So thank you again. 

Before we begin, I also want to reiterate a point I made during the last book club. Once in a while we may feel overcome with passion that requires the dropping of an f-bomb or two. I have no problem with this–especially when I'm saying how f-ing awesome we are, but I understand that this type of language can be offensive to some people. Let's try to roll with the punches, but if it becomes an issue for anyone, please contact me to discuss. 

Okay. Shall we?

Introduction: Scott's stretch. I appreciate how Scott lays out for us why he decided to start his Ph.D. studies–the failure of the dotcom where he'd been employed and then the tragedy of 9/11. What his story brought to mind is the idea of befores and afters and how we can want desperately to change ourselves and our environments in the face of a personally traumatic or enlightening event. Of course, the event does not have to be the size or scope of 9/11. Nor does it have to be traumatic, though this is often the case, as it was for me and my family. My awakening and earnest self-reflection began after my mother's sudden death and, three weeks later, my daughter's first symptoms of severe depression. (Just so everyone knows…I have her permission to share about our story.) She was 13 years old.

My point for book club purpose is this: That it took traumatic events for me to realize that I was, as Scott says, overlooking abundance right in front of me. (Both internal and external.) One of the reasons I love Brené’s work so much is that she concretized the concept of scarcity, gave it language and structure, and even form. Between the time when I finished reading The Gifts of Imperfection and now, I've employed a variety of methods to cultivate gratitude and joy–antidotes to a scarcity mindset. But, my ego and my life sometimes make it hard for me to remember the type of person I desire to be and how I want to show up and be seen in the world on a daily basis. It makes perfect sense to me that an extension of this work would be to include resourcefulness in the mix. To beat my mind at its own game, if you will. I can't wait to learn more about how to stretch my life to embrace its untapped value. 

Chapter One: A Tale Of Two Beers. What I noticed first when I began reading this chapter was the sense that chasing felt familiar to me. Some of my earliest feeling memories are of the very concept it appears Scott will discuss in the next chapter, the idea that the grass is always greener somewhere else. I remember thinking when I was young that my life would always be better when. . .When I was older, when I got the right clothes, when I met the right boy, when I lost weight…when…when…when. Days, weeks, and years ticked by and life, I imagined, would eventually get better in the future and with the right "stuff." Better than what, exactly? With what stuff, exactly? I had no idea. Imagine a marathon where the finish line is perpetually 20 feet in front of you. Exhausting!  

I relate to what Scott wrote about the tool box and a chasers desire to amass as many tools as possible to fill that box. Tools come in all shapes and sizes, for personal and professional jobs. I have at times thought that I have so much I no longer know what I have or why or what to do with it. When my mom died and my daughter got sick, I was forced to understand that nothing about the future is guaranteed and that the present moment is the only place it makes sense to live in. But how to hang on to this new awareness?   

Five years later, my daughter is doing fine. And I combat the trap of complacency. I worry about forgetting the valuable lessons I learned, falling back into old habits and patterns that chase elusive and ill-defined goals. I want to continue to appreciate what I have and wonder if learning how to stretch will help temper my point of view (my mind-space) that whispers still on a regular basis about tangible and intangible inadequacies.

On a final note, Scott writes at the end of Chapter One that we've likely already acted resourcefully. Of course we have! We're human. But on page 19 he asks, "Have you ever worked beyond your formal responsbilities to make a bigger impact?" As I ponder my decades in various professional settings, my answer to this question is a resounding YES! What I'd like to put out here, however, to employees and to bosses alike is to discuss the reception of this behavior. For me, more often than not, my bosses (male and female) seemed to feel threatened and like I was acting " too big for my britches." Partly, this could have been due to my presentation, but I think this is resourcefulness's darker side, at least professionally. 

I wonder if Scott will touch on this. Has anyone had a similar experience? Either way, let us know.          

Next week: Chapter 2 spearheaded by Marci Goldberg. 


  1. I have indeed experienced resourcefulness's darker side!

    Before I began freelancing I always worked for small companies where I was required to wear many hats. Resourcefulness is a requirement of the job! But I learned the hard way that I can do it too well, and it feels threatening to other people. I've never been afraid to step up and take the reins or accept responsibility, and I've always considered that to be my superpower. Most people are content to let others lead (or be the fall guy) but there are a few who want to be seen as leaders when they truly don't have the skills, and they become resentful. Those are the folks you have to watch out for, because they think nothing of torpedoing your success.

    With regard to the concept of chasing, I too have been doing it all my life. And frankly, it's well past time that it stopped. I am in the middle of abundance, but I can't see it. With any luck, by the time we are finished with this book, my eyes will be open!!

  2. Thanks for jumping in Kelly. I'm not letting my curiosity get the better of me by scanning through the book to see if Scott addresses this issue. I sure hope he does, though. I'm not trying to sound sexist here, because I'm positive that this has happened to most everyone, but it does seem over the years I've experienced it personally and watched it with others, that women more often are the brunt of this behavior; however, I also have a very successful family member (woman) who reminds me that other women can be the worst offenders. I hate to bring gender into the mix (and so early!) but these days it's a topic that's impossible to set aside. I have definitely experienced both. And I wonder about you saying you can't see your abundance. Maybe you CAN see it, but…do you think it could be more about not holding on to the feeling of abundance for longer than fleeting moments? I struggle here to understand, because we know what that grasping and clinging can do! I can't wait to see where the rest of the discussion and material leads us regarding this topic! Thank you, again!

  3. First, let me say, I felt that this would be a positive distraction to what is going on in my life right now AND I am grateful for it. This helps with focus. This is what I wrote after I read the first chapter.
    More than 10 years I opened my own business. This was right after 9/11 and the 'crash" that followed. I have always frugal with money when it came to home finances, especially when I had a goal. I thought I could run a business with the same ideas and tools and succeed. It did not happen the way I had planned and had to close. I do not take all the blame, it was tough on my clients. Most worked at "wall street" and lost everything It would have taken too long and much more money rebuild it. That didn't mean I was finished with working. It just opened a new start to my "other" career. This new path as an consultant gave me flex hours, taking al the experience from the business with for the next 15 years. Of couse there is more but I will leave it at that .

  4. Hey Christina! Welcome again. I'm so glad you're here and that book club will be a positive distraction for you. It sounds like you were resourceful (and resilient!) reinventing yourself when your business didn't pan out. It can be such a mental challenge when things don't work out the way we planned or wanted them to. As we go along, I'm so interested to learn more about your consulting business and about the tools and ideas you took with you from before, that didn't work, and how they changed to create consulting work that did and that you enjoy! And how they feel to you relative to chasing and stretching! Thank you.

  5. I will chime in soon with a more thoughtful response, but as I read through Tracey's initial comments others' comments, I was reminded of a time when, in the blink of an eye, I was enlightened about the idiocy of chasing. Long story short, but I was on a ski trip in Beaver Creek, CO with my family in 2004. It was morning and everyone else was cooking breakfast, getting their ski clothes together, etc. I was (in typical fashion at the time), hunched over an Excel spreadsheet at the kitchen table, on the phone with one of my employees, discussing how the hell we left a zero off our annual marketing budget request (because we needed more MONEY to buy more TOOLS). My nephew beeped in, which was strange. We didn't speak on the phone that often, and he knew we were on vacation. He simply said, "You need to come home." My sister had been in an auto accident and wasn't going to make it. In that instant, the budget "crisis" ceased to exist. And fortunately, I had a new outlook on chasing resources after that. Sometimes, it does take a tragegy to transform. I wish we could all wake up without a wake-up call, but I am grateful that I learned from mine.

  6. Karen, I am so sorry that you lost your sister. What a tragedy. I too wish we could all "wake up without a wake-up call." If life is going along fairly smoothly, it seems we are easily able to take a lot for granted. One can exist in that realm for years and not fully appreciate what one has. It's easier to appreciate the good things when we have bad experiences, and a tragedy heightens our awareness of the yin & yang of life.

  7. I loved reading about the concepts of chasing and stretching. It's really so simple and makes a lot of sense, but I'd never thought about it like that before. My husband and I are in our 50s and empty nesters.The thought of simplifying and decluttering our life is very appealing. We live in a large home with a large yard, that used to be bustling with my husband and me, our two daughters and their friends constantly coming and going, my mother-in-law, our dog, and our bunny. But now it's just the two of us. Sometimes I dream of living in a condo and getting rid of many of our possessions. I'm definitely not in the same mindset I was in my 20s and 30s of trying to accumulate a ton of stuff. Different stage of life. There is peace in living simpler, not always feeling the need to have more. I do believe that less is more! It's all a process, and I'm in that process of letting go. I'm excited to learn how to stretch because I don't want to chase anymore.

  8. Oh yes, Karen..how I wish we could wake up without such a tragic wake up call…thank you for sharing. I, too, am sorry about your sister. Her legacy lives on in many ways. And yes..the idiocy of chasing..indeed. Looking forward to more when you're ready.

  9. Thank you, Jeni, for this thoughtful comment. We're in a bit of a similar place, I think..the letting go…of possessions that no longer serve..of baggage, too. Mind spaces that impact our peace and serenity. At least for me. It does seem so simple..these concepts of chasing and stretching. I'm learning to believe that less is more. I'm reminded of it in various ways and places. So glad you're on this journey with us!

  10. I'm so sorry about your sister, Karen. Tragic moments put our lives into perspective, helping us realize what truly matters. Sometimes when I'm really stressing about something, I ask myself if, in the grand scheme of things, if it really, truly matters. You know, like don't sweat the small stuff. Many times I'm worrying or getting angry about an issue that seems small or maybe even trivial, when I take a step back to reevaluate. Thank you for sharing your story.

  11. To your question, Tracey, on if I've ever tried to be more resourceful at work… yes. I was a systems analyst at Xerox Corp when I was in my early 20's. My boss was a nice guy. But when he asked me to review a draft of an internal memo he wrote about the status of my project, I saw several grammatical errors in his writing. Uh oh. Should I say something and risk him getting upset with me? Or do I let him send out the memo as-is, having him appear less than stellar in his command of the English language? I decided to be honest (and brave!), and said something akin to, "The content of the memo is great, though I did notice a few grammatical errors. Would it be okay with you if I corrected them?" He not only appreciated my help on that memo, but he began having me proofread other memos. And not just for projects I worked on. It didn't take up much of my time, and it felt like a positive experience for both of us. : )
    As for stretching resources in general, I've been challenging myself every day for nearly 2 years now. Some days are easier than others, and I see a trend of this getting easier overall. After my husband died and I felt the fog had lifted enough so that I had some control on what my day (or the next hour) could look like, I had one major question. What can I do right now to get through this moment/hour/day without being overwhelmed by grief? Of course grief is a process and has to be processed, but not in every single waking moment. I have a right to be happy and my husband would want me to be happy. That said, I had to figure out how to make that happen because the only other choice was to be miserable. I practiced gratitude. I indulged in creating art. I spent a lot of time with my family and my friends.
    A big "stretch" was to take care of myself and not feel guilty about it. That was a process, too!

  12. I guess I have not really ever been a chaser. Not that I made a conscious effort to be a stretcher, but was raised by a woman who could stretch a dollar farther than anyone I've ever known. Maybe it's my natural self, maybe it was cultivated in me, I don't know. You know the stories of " I never knew how tight money was"…based on the size of our Christmases and never wanting for anything as a kid. But my dad was a barber and my mom didn't work outside our home until I was 14 (and I'm the youngest of 3), so stretching was necessary. My sisters and I were celebrated but always held responsible for actions. Our home was always filled with lots of extended family or we were filling there homes – weekly. None of us had a lot of stuff but we all had everything we needed. There was never a focus on "stuff", but more focus on enjoying and sharing what you have. Giving and receiving unconditional love and support to and from your family and friends. I guess in retrospect my mom was a servant at heart and cultivated my servant's heart. "Be proud but not prideful"…"if the grass looks greener on the other side then it's time to water your grass". These are statements that resonate with me. I believe I am the only one responsible for my happiness and contentment, but it cannot come at the expense of others. I have always been a person who sees the desired result and then plots a path and starts walking it. Focusing on obstacles never made sense to me. I certainly have suffered setbacks and heartaches but I feel blessed and fortunate to never have been shaken to my core.

    I guess all this rambling comes down to this…I relate to and embrace the idea of stretching. It comes natural to me but I can't take any credit for it. Nature vs nurture, I don't know.

  13. Hey Sue..Man. I'm glad the work story you told turned out the way it did. I have a very similar story except mine doesn't have the same ending. I had a boss once that could barely complete a cogent written sentence, but when I tactfully raised the issue turns out this person wasn't very pleased to have had the errors brought to attention. Oh well. You continue to be such an inspiration to me and to others in your ability to cultivate gratitude and even joy in the face of Richard's death because absolutely he'd want you to be happy. And I know it seems like giving ourselves permission to be artistic is an indulgence, but it seems like lifeblood to me. Thank you for being here..and for stretching to take care of yourself. Perhaps this will be part of my journey too this year with an intention of self-care!

  14. Janice, it's such an interesting question you raise..nature versus nurture. Similar to yours, my background is one of not having much stuff. My parents went through very difficult financial times, I know now, times when they wondered where the next meal for our little family would come from. I never knew it then, though. Same regarding our Christmases and having all my basic needs met. But, my earliest feeling memories are like I state above so I think there's much to be said for nature in how this type of thinking plays out. I guess I'm saying that I do feel like I was born to a certain extent as a "chaser" and that part of my life's journey has been figuring that out and changing my thinking dynamic. Thank you..thought provoking comment!

  15. Janice, what wonderful lessons you were taught as a child. I envy that. My childhood was very different. I'd say nurture played a huge role in forming my ability to take care of myself. While I never had to worry about food, clothing or shelter, my parents didn't give me the emotional support I needed. My brother, 3 years my elder, was born with damage to his brain, and when he was 14 he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He was the focus of our family life. I have memories of being scolded for being joyful in front of my brother. Like when I came home from elementary school announcing I'd gotten an "A" on a spelling test or that I'd gotten invited to a friend's birthday party. When I asked my parents why they were upset with me, they told me they didn't want my brother to feel bad, as he couldn't expect these good things to happen to him. I'm surely not saying I didn't have any fun growing up. Yet there was a feeling deep inside me that I didn't deserve to feel joy, and there were countless times that I unconsciously supressed joy… and lots of other feelings. I was in therapy in my early 30's and had an "Aha!" moment where I connected the sense of not deserving to be happy to those early childhood scoldings. That insight helped me tremendously.

  16. Hi everyone. I’m looking forward to sharing this journey with such an insightful group of women and grateful to you all for your openness. It seems so many of us have weathered life altering challenges over the years. I can only imagine the collective wisdom we’ve acquired!! Hugs and kudos to us all for how far we’ve come.

    Tracey, I appreciated and related so much to your take on Chasing and living in the moment. Weirdly, it’s something I had been thinking about and struggling with prior to your starting the book club. I’ve becone increasingly alarmed by how much of my time and energy I spend on the management and organization of the overwhelming amount of stuff I own. Finding space for it, remembering where it is, and what I have detracts so much from being in the moment and just living. I’ve become obsessed with the idea that the more we own, the more anxiety we have.

    By way of introduction, Tracey and I have had similar experiences with our daughters, and my once all-American charmed life went into mostly crisis mode for about 10 years. My daughter started struggling with a major anxiety disorder about the same time as my husband developed a serious physical illness that triggered a personality disorder. We eventually divorced (his choice) right when my daughter’s health became critical and my father needed a bone marrow transplant for his cancer.

    As much as the chasing behavior clutters my life and actually causes stress, I think in the moment it gives me some relief, distracting me from chaos, helping me procrastinate dealing with the challenges, validating my self-worth, etc. As life has gotten MUCH better, I’m hoping to excise the maladaptive chasing behavior and dramatically simplify, so I can enjoy the bounty I have and live in the moment.

  17. What a great introduction and interesting first chapter!

    To be honest, I signed up to this book club based solely on my trust on Tracey. I haven't heard about the book and this topic (until the book club), and the author as well, so I'm coming to this forum almost clueless with what to expect from this journey. What can I say? The first chapter alone has piqued my curiosity. Would love to take a peek on the following chapters but I chose to keep the suspense. I stayed away from the table of contents as well. This actually makes it more interesting!

    Chasing and stretching, though the concepts are something I've encountered in other forms before, the terms themselves and the context they're being discussed in the book are almost new to me. I've never looked at the two concepts side-by-side like how the book presented it so far.

    I've only been pursuing my writing career for 3-4 years now; I self-published my debut last year. Still, I have a day job which is not bad. However, my heart beats for writing and if I only have my way, I want writing to be a full-time career but I'm not there yet.

    I am not complaining. I've learned to live peacefully while juggling the two, with appreciation for what both do to me. The topic of the book club is perfect for my current journey. I'm moving further and further with my writing career while at the same time I need to take care of my day job and not get to the point where I'm neglecting it (until I am free to fully take off with writing). A better understanding of "Chasing" and "Stretching" will surely aid me as I transition to my current career situation to the one I desire. How do I get to where I want to be? What do I need to manage more? What do I need to let go?

    It will be an interesting book adventure, that's for sure.

  18. Hello Everyone! Tracey thank you again for putting this all together and connecting to truly unique 'teachers'. Coming with a variety of experiences, viewpoints and histories. That is what makes this so valuable to me. We each read the same pages and then take completely different understandings, applying them to our own lives is pretty amazing.

    As I read each of the posts above, it strengthens the chapter by applying the material. My heart goes out to Karen – I too lost both my siblings after losing both parents – it is not a different world. From remembering birthdays, but not buying a card – it was really weird for a while. Now things are just different. It doesn't get easier, it just gets different. But yes, it also splashes cold priorities in your face. What am I spending time doing, when I want to spend time doing this – or giving my full attention to that without guilt etc.

    Chasing was something I did for years until I realized I was wishing time away, and then had a unique opportunity to house/pet sit – which allows me to write full time and still pay bills lol! I've unintentionally created a business by word of mouth and now and trying to downsize. 14 families was simply too much. I was in other people's homes more than my own and it is in my own that the creativity flows best. It also taught me very quickly bigger, better, larger is not necessarily better. I've been in some amazing multimillion dollar homes that are cold, lackluster, best of the best – without any feeling. I've also been in tiny little houses deep in the woods that felt like paradise. It makes you think -it also makes you want what you have. After these experiences, my little Cape Cod was just fine. Yes, it needs a fresh coat of paint inside, the floors could stand refinishing etc. But it is home.

    I don't know if anything I just shared makes sense to anyone else, or helps dig into this chapter a little deeper, but I hope it helps. So many threads have woven this group together. My youngest daughters both suffered/suffer from depression, as well as myself. It's learning to live with it, and not stop living because of it. We've gone through some horrible times – just like everyone else in different packages – from losing our jobs and almost losing our home, all these life lessons can sometimes hit us like cannon balls. Then it stops – and we take a breath, regroup, gather the lessons and move forward, scarred perhaps, but stronger in many ways from the experience. I'm very much looking forward to see what we can gain from the next chapter(s).

  19. Thanks for sharing your story, Patricia. Losing both siblings after losing your parents! My heart goes out to you. I completely understand it's "different" afterwards. As strange as it sounds, I am closer to my sister now than I was when she was alive.

    I also get the chasing. I have friends who are wealthy. My friends with a $2 million dollar home are envious of our friends with the $7 million home. Where does that end? And why the heck pursue that stuff in the first place?

    I get the feeling this group has something in common. I think each of us, in our own way, seeks something greater than chasing the next job, or car, or house. (Patricia, love the image of amazing multimillion-dollar homes that were cold.) Maybe we are all just at that place in our lives where we're tired of chasing and are learning to appreciate what we have. I love that.

  20. Hi, Marci. I am so sorry for your troubles, but I hope you've come out the other side, and with some life-changing insights. I really appreciated your observation about the role chasing (and acquiring, having and maybe coveting) plays. A distraction. I found that very interesting and appreciated your candor. It reminded me of how other coping mechanisms, like drugs, alcohol or any of our other addicitions, serve the same purpose. Temporary pleasure and diversion from what we really need to focus on.

  21. Sorry, I meant, "Thank you, Xeno. I appreciate it." I wish there were a way to edit our own comments. I hate misspelling, especially names. ;-(

  22. Thanks, Jeni. I have found that daily meditation makes me a calmer, more peaceful (and hopefully more pleasant to be around) person. It has certainly help me to be less reactive.

  23. It does, Sue! I honestly don't know where I would be if my sister hadn't died. I was on a fast track to disaster (workaholic, chaser extraordinaire). She was killed by a drunk driver, BTW. Her death had such a marked impact on me, even through we weren't very close. It sounds so trite, but I believe things to happen for a reason, and we don't always see those reasons, or sometimes it takes a long time to see.

  24. Welcome Marci! We're so glad you're joining us on this journey…I've been thinking a lot lately too about things in our life that can be positive but that when overdone (or whatever is the right word) can move into negative. I'm thinking specifically about self-care since I'm writing about it for the "regular" part of my blog. So..we all know, for example, that eating and drinking too much are negative coping mechanisms that are really about numbing. But what about reading? Or watching TV? There's this invisible line that's different, I imagine, for everyone where the relaxing activity we do to take care of ourselves crosses that line into numbing. Too much stuff, seems to me, to be the same. We have so much stuff that we can numb/distract ourselves by dealing with our stuff! Very interesting to think about. Thank you for sharing some of your story. I can't wait to see if the author touches on this sort of thing and what he has to say!

  25. I'm so excited Xeno to get your perspective on the material as we move forward. And I'm always so inspired by your attitude, how positive it is, in how you manage your desire to write full-time with your need to still have a day job. I've been so honored to watch these last few years your hard work and dedication to craft start to pay off in big ways. So glad you're here!

  26. Oh Patty! So glad you're here. I don't think you shared with us about your siblings before. I'm so sorry for your losses. They do start to pile up, don't they, when we've been on this planet for any amount of time. I, too, was moved by your description of big, expensive, multi-million dollar homes that are cold and without feeling. I've often fallen into the trap that having more money and a bigger home and more expensive car etc would make my life easier. I'm old enough now to understand that money may make some parts of living easier, but it sure isn't a problem-solver and doesn't necessarily lead to us living a life of purpose and meaning. And thank you for sharing about your family's struggles with depression. You know how important I think it is for us to share these stories so others can know they are not alone and that there is noting "abnormal" or shameful about struggling with mental health matters. Soooo glad you're here.

  27. Oh my gosh. I'm loving this discussion. Thank you all. Stretching versus Chasing. Discovering you have a choice between the two and seeing the behaviors that characterize each.

    My husband and I sold our large family home and moved into a condo downtown two years ago. The process was a stretch for me in ways I expected and in ways that were a complete surprise, but also felt very natural and welcome. As many of you can relate, I have a son who suffers from severe depression and we had many dark years as we worked through that with him. Our home was beautiful and filled with things that I loved, my husband and children, but later it was also filled with ghosts and painful memories. Part of the stretch for me was seeking a fresh start and escaping the places in the house I could no longer bear to go.

    I was also faced with the process of reducing our possessions by half, as we no longer have an enormous home to store things in, nor multiple rooms to furnish. I moved only my favorite things into the condo and put the rest into a storage unit. Just last weekend my husband and I finished the process by taking the last few pieces of furniture to Goodwill. I feel liberated from the old stuff and the energy that it occupied.

    The elastic nature of "stretch" really intrigues me, and I would assert that "stretch" also includes its opposite, "contract". Both are responsive, nimble, and creative. Chasing, on the other hand, requires no change within the chaser – the process is all external. The essential nature of the chaser remains the same, static, while the essential nature of the stretcher transforms and grows.

    I'm so excited for the next chapter and for our continued discussion!

  28. Oh my goodness Sarah! I'm totally absorbed with your elastic nature comments. How fascinating. I can't wait to see if and how the author addresses your point because though I hadn't thought about it while reading, it makes complete sense! Thank you for sharing some of your story here. I'm so grateful you're taking this journey with us. I know the move was hard, but I can also feel the breath of fresh air through what you've written here. Plus, I know you so that helps! I think sometimes about downsizing even though we aren't moving and become instantly overwhelmed and just forget about the whole thing. I'm not exactly jealous that you moved and were sort of forced into such a cleansing act, but I'm so glad you are liberated. 🙂 I can't wait to read more.

  29. Thanks for your openness and your comments, Sarah. We’ve been through similar darkness. Having survived to a dramatically healthier place today, I’m starting to see that I still cling to the coping strategies that I needed to get me through the crisis but have no function in my current life. Though I’m sure the reality of downsizing must be somewhat painful, I often fantasize about doing just that, yearning for the relief that letting go might bring.

    Kind of a funny example of that: my mom used the tragedy of the 1994 quake to reclaim her own freedom. She and my dad had a large-ish house that sustained so much damage to the structure and the personal property inside that they had to move out for about 5 months during the major repairs. Prior to the quake, the house was highly decorated with fussy wall coverings, matchy-matchy furniture and decor, lots of accent pieces, and Knick knacks. While surveying the damage, my mom had an epiphany that she hated her cluttered life. She trashed every last bit of decor, collections, paraphernalia, and memorabilia that failed to break on its own. She painted the walls white and retiled the floors a uniform dark blue, and started fresh. Mentally, she chalked her own personal shake-up to the quake and just surrendered to the process of disentangling herself from the weight of her stuff.

  30. Thank you for sharing, Karen. I'm so sorry for your loss. It's heartbreaking that it often takes such tragic events to remind us to focus on what's really important in life. So thankful for this space and all of your insights and sharing!

  31. Thank you all for your insights and being willing to share vulnerable experiences!

    I too have struggled with addiction in family members and how it impacts me and my daughter, and seeing early warnings signs of emotional struggles with her. So grateful for for this space and all of you amazing women who have been through similar experiences.

    One of the biggest things that stood out for me in the first chapter was this: "…the world around us always moves even when we stand still in complacency." This "business as usual" concept is the death knell for innovation, and frankly, even for engagement and passion. In business and personal life, family, friendships, every aspect of how we engage with ourselves and the world. I've been on a massive decluttering binge for the past 6 months, and it's incredibly freeing to let go of so much emotional baggage and negativity connected to stuff and clutter (although incredibly difficult as my child is firmly rooted in the "I want more, my life will only have meaning if I have what everyone at my school has" and my parents continue to try to express their love for me by buying more stuff…). I didn't have an exorbitant amount of material things or expensive stuff growing up, but my parents made sure I never wanted for anything. That's been a challenging mindset to outgrow.

    I especially appreciate the reminder that we rarely have everything we THINK we need, and the focus on mindset and breaking free of the chasing strategies we are all so accustomed to, and taught from early childhood. I struggle with this in a business I've been trying to get off the ground for a couple years, in time scarcity with the books I'm writing, in always daydreaming about my forever home and not having neighbors downstairs, paying off credit cards/debt…but it's so much easier to wallow in "someday, I will…" than to reframe my mindset to actually change everything. I'm getting a lot of reminders about this as I face family crises that snap me out of that head-down, everything I do must be income generating mindset to focus on what really matters and what's important to me in life, and most importantly, on gratitude and awareness and being present rather than constantly future tripping. Excited to be on this journey with all of you!

  32. Yes, Tracey! Me too! I had never thought about stretching as elastic before–this is such a powerful metaphor!

  33. This chapter confronted my benchmark that the "proper tool" is the mark of an expert. In fact, "MacGyver-ing" can instead be the mark of a true expert. I have caught myself at this game with kitchen tools — good knives but no avocado scoop — but will now have a higher regard for the pragmatic. Like others here, I've also noticed how I'll think that I need something, put it on the shopping list, then realize that I have what I need. Sometimes this has been specific and concrete, like the time I thought I needed 3 lightbulbs and then remembered that I had put some bulbs away in a different spot — and there were exactly 3 there. It seems like "chasing" is partly based on an assumption that WE are not enough…

  34. Oh yes Christine. I'm sorry to say I think that is often the case…I hope to make some more progress in that arena with this book club adventure!! so glad you're here!!!

  35. We're so glad your with us Heather. I love your point about complacency. For me
    ..I'm worry about forgetting all the lessons I learned on our journey with my girl..the gratitude, presence, letting go of that which no longer serves..and of expectations. These valuable lessons can easily fall by the way in the tumul of daily life. Thanks for pointing that part out. It is as you say about mindset, a way of thinking that seems like it should be easy to change but isn't!

  36. Jeni and Tracey, I am right there with you both. I am ready to downsize and DUMP tons of possessions that no longer serve me. But I am strangled by a husband and son who claim that I am not "sentimental" and act as though letting go of material things means I'm abandoning memories of good times past. I guess I don't need to hold something in my hand to remember a joyous occasion. My sarcastic comeback to them both is, "That's why God made cameras!"

  37. Thank you for your kind words, Karen, they truly mean a lot to me. Also, please forgive my delay in responding to your post. I seem to be playing catch-up this week! Talk about irony! Lol!

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