I've shaped my life and my life's work around these same two questions.
I ask my clients these questions daily. Not to mention people I meet at cafes, bars, or on the beach, airplane seat-mates and Uber drivers, kids at my son’s school, and on and on. So, it’s only fair in my first Lightlabs blog post that I answer these questions myself.
Who am I? What is mine to do?
I always start conversations with my clients—and those unsuspecting strangers—with questions about their lives: their past, present, and passions. These are the stories that lead us to the answers. So before I answer these two questions myself, here’s a seriously abbreviated and questionably curated backstory.
The times I flirted with being cool and running with the in-crowd at school didn’t last long because I was a geek at heart. Edgy intellectual banter and late night debates ended up winning out over conversations about boys and beauty and bands.
My love of formal education—and dedication to busting my ass—led me to taking all my classes during high school senior year at the local state university, and got me into two prestigious academic institutions for college and grad school where I studied cultural anthropology.
In high school, I told my parents I wanted to be an exchange student for a year. They said, “OK, do some research and let us know what you find.” Two weeks later I told them someone was coming over to interview us. Six months later I was on a plane to Paris.
Fast-forward to the summer after my first year in my PhD program. The one I busted my ass to get into. The one that accepted four people a year. I was miserable. I felt like I was drowning. I had no logical reason to leave. Everything was great. Except misery. Except drowning. I trusted myself, and I left.
After leaving Rice, I stayed in Houston for four more years and built a thriving yoga therapy business. In 2003, with more success on the horizon and people I respected advising me to slow down, I just knew it was time to leave Texas. So I did.
These are three examples. I could give you twenty, but you get the point, and you have other things to do with your time. So, onward.
I met my ex-husband in March 2004. I ignored (big) signs that this might not be the best relationship for either of us. We got engaged October 2004, pregnant November 2004, and married May 2005. In August 2010, he came home and told me he was leaving our marriage. Everything I knew to be true about my life and family went up in a poof of smoke. The screen went blank. There is no other word to describe this experience and the months that followed but terror. Sheer terror.
LightLab Studios came into being as I was rebuilding my life from the ashes of what was my marriage and family. It took the breaking apart of my family, the flattening of my world, and looking terror in the face to inspire me to become clear about—and claim—who I am and what is mine to do.
Who am I?
I am a woman who sees and articulates who people are underneath it all.
What is mine to do?
To speak and write what I see and know until people get it deep in their bones, and claim it through an unshakable commitment to aligning who they are with what they do.
The world of brand combines everything I love and am uniquely suited to do: deeply connecting with others, facilitating cross-cultural conversations across difference, writing and speaking, grokking and articulating what is, and advising people how to leverage who they are in service of the impact they want to create. After academia, yoga, and this and that, I’ve come to see that the marketplace of ideas, brands, and commerce brings it all together. It's a place that can drive social change and create the kind of soul-satisfying connection and impact that my heart and whole being desires.
My wish for this blog is to gather a community of people who are dedicated to knowing who they are and what is theirs to do. People who want to learn how to activate this knowing and power in their lives, businesses, and movements. Since we’re multi-dimensional beings—which is a reality to ignore at our peril—this blog will reflect this truth. You can expect posts with:
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