living intuitively


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What doesn't K I L L you makes you....
Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

I don’t want you to be safe ideologically. I don’t want you to be safe emotionally. I want you to be strong. That’s different. I’m not going to pave the jungle for you. Put on some boots and learn how to deal with adversity. I’m not going to take all the weights out of the gym; that’s the whole point of the gym. This is the gym.
— Van Jones

It’s undeniable: Rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide are skyrocketing.

Why is this?

I recently read a book called The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt.

This book explores causes of and antidotes to:

  • Fragility of today’s youth

  • Decline of free speech

  • Elevated rates of depression, anxiety, self harm, and suicide, particularly among today’s youth

The book starts off with three Great Untruths that seem to have spread widely in recent years:

  1. The Untruth of Fragility: What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker.

  2. The Untruth of Emotional Reasoning: Always trust your feelings.

  3. The Untruth of Us Versus Them: Life is a battle between good people and evil people.

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These Great Untruths are negatively impacting everyone. Anyone who cares about youth, education, or democracy should be concerned about these trends.

This post will focus on the first Great Untruth (specifically regarding fragility): What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker.

Contrary to current popular practice and belief, children are antifragile. They NEED to be exposed to various challenges and stressors (within limits and in age-appropriate ways) or they will fail to mature into strong and capable adults, able to function successfully and engage productively with people and ideas that challenge their beliefs and moral convictions (Failure to Launch, anyone?!).

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You are not a fragile candle, you are a fire - so welcome the wind by seeking out ideologically different speakers and ideas.

Though parents/teachers/caretakers/administrators have good intentions by shielding and protecting kids from physical/mental/emotional/psychological hurt, doing so actually does more harm than good. Grossly expanded conceptions of trauma and safety are now used to justify overprotecting youth of all ages (even many college kids who now claim the need for safe spaces and trigger warnings lest words and ideas “endanger” them).

Safetyism is an obsession with eliminating threats (both real and imagined) to the point where practical and moral concerns are overruled. Safetyism deprives young people of the experiences their antifragile minds need, thereby making them more fragile, anxious, and prone to seeing themselves as victims.

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The authors discuss how children today, on average, have far more restricted childhoods than their parents did, though the parents grew up in far more dangerous times. This is due to a variety of reasons, including:

  • Fear for children’s safety (though children are safer today than at any other point in history)

  • Heightened educational standards and requirements, from preschool through high school, particularly to facilitate college admission

Both of these factors result in less exploratory play time and more structured, supervised time. The authors note helicopter parenting combined with laws and social norms that make it tough to allow kids unsupervised play time may negatively impact their resilience and mental health.

Basically, when we overprotect children, we harm them. Overprotection makes them weaker and less resilient in the future. As with most things, it’s about balance. You don’t want to neglect them, but you don’t want to overmonitor them, denying them the thousands of small challenges, risks, and adversities they need to face on their own to become strong and resilient adults.

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Prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child.

Foster antifragility by giving kids the gift of experience so they can become autonomous, resilient adults. Recognize they need some unstructured, unsupervised time to learn how to judge risks for themselves and practice dealing with issues like frustration, boredom, and interpersonal conflict. The most important thing they can do with that time is to play, especially in free play, outdoors, with other kids (away from screens!). There may need to be an adult nearby for children’s physical safety, but that adult shouldn’t intervene in general disputes and arguments.

The authors even recommend encouraging your children to walk or ride bikes to and from school at the earliest age possible, consistent with local factors like distance, traffic, and crime. Ask your school to provide a way for kids to check in and out, to track children who trek to school independently without needing to use a smartphone to monitor them.

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If you like the idea of allowing your young ones a little more leash length, but are worried the neighbors will report you, visit to print a “Let Grow License” to send with your kiddos. This informs any (well-meaning!) busybodies your child is not lost or neglected, and is allowed more free rein (in compliance with state law). Learn what the laws in your state require by typing “state laws” into the site’s search box.

As previously mentioned, it’s not just about physical safety; consider your kids’ emotional, mental, and psychological well-being. You can fortify them by encouraging your children to engage in a lot of “productive disagreement.” Instruct them how to communicate respectfully. Teaching them how to give and take criticism without being personally offended is an essential life skill.

In the next post, we’ll discuss the second Great Untruth: Always trust your feelings.



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Write here…

l i s t e n UP
Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.
— Winston Churchill

Listening is a superpower.

How many conversations have you had where the other person dominates the conversation and you leave thinking, “I know allll about their latest vacation/hobby/issue, but they know nothing about my life as of late?

Not so fulfilling.

On the flip side, have you ever had someone invest their total time and attention in you, and you walk away feeling heard and respected?

Mega fulfilling.

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Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.
— David Augsburger

To listen well, try pausing before disagreeing, or giving advice, or referencing your own experience. Sure, doing these other actions can be useful, but listening is paramount. Assess the need for the other actions. Listening is the priority, and the others should merely complement and support.

Active listening is encouraged! Some ways to actively listen:

  • Nod

  • Make eye contact

  • Lean forward

  • Supply (genuine!) verbal affirmations like “Sure”/“Thank you”/“I understand”

  • Paraphrase

The first duty of love is to listen.
— Paul Tillich
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Something I struggle with is interrupting - I’m constantly aware of and working on this with myself. My interrupting does come from a good place, however. I interrupt not because I deem what I have to say superior, but because I get so stoked on what the other is saying and it’s my way of “actively listening.” Showing I’m engaged and invested. This can easily be misperceived, though (and can be downright O B N O X I O U S and distracting) so I strive to minimize (and ultimately eliminate) my insertions. I always notice and appreciate when someone pays me the respect of attentively listening sans interruptions - my friends are brilliant at it.

If you want to be listened to, you should put in time listening.

And if you find yourself rattling on because you feel socially awkward and unsure of what to speak about - and talking about yourself is your default because you are your most familiar topic - there’s a win/win solution for that! A simple hack is to provide a bit of information about yourself (eg “I’m so pumped for skiing this year”) and then turning it to the other person(s) (eg “Do you ski or board?”). Prefacing with a fact about yourself makes it easy and effective for multiple reasons:

  • Contributes a familiar topic to work with and solves the problem of where to start

  • Makes you relatable and breaks the ice for the other person to share

  • Allows an opportunity to segue into related topics

  • Lets you off the hook from carrying the conversation, as many people like talking about themselves (for whatever reason - like you, they are most well-versed themselves/they have something to say/etc)

  • It establishes a natural flow

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Be a good listener. Your ears will never get you in trouble.
— Frank Tyger

What about those situations where people confide a heartbreak or challenge or stressor they’re facing? Don’t knock yourself out trying to come up with the perfect response/solution. Unless they expressly ask you, “What should I do?” more often than not, people simply crave a listening ear. Receiving their words with empathy and love is far more powerful than the wisest and timeliest response. Simply holding that space for them and allowing them to vent and feel their emotions can make all the difference and be more beneficial than “solving” their problem.

The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention... A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.
— Rachel Naomi Remen

If silence unnerves you, try to learn to be comfortable with it. Don’t rush to finish the other’s faltering sentence, or fill the gaps. This isn’t about you/your comfort - it’s about them. Allowing them the space to express themselves. Or just sit in supportive silence; simply your presence may suffice.

I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.
— Larry King
When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.
— Dalai Lama

I firmly believe we all have something to learn from one another (even if it’s how to have patience!). Running your mouth about what you know is definitely not the way to go about obtaining that knowledge from others. Even (or especially!) when you think you’re an expert on a topic - you’ll likely be surprised what you gain if you’re humble enough to sit back and listen/observe another’s perception regarding it. Maybe you’ll glean a different angle you hadn’t considered. This is where an open mind is K E Y. Try listening to learn, rather than listening to confirm [your current opinion]. At the very least, hearing the other side out will only strengthen your own position.

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Removing your ego from the equation is crucial. Resist the temptation to flex and download all you know. There is ALWAYS more to learn. The minute you deem yourself a know-it-all is the precise minute you need to assess yourself, because that’s a sure sign your ego has hijacked you and stunted your growth. So tell your ego to buzz off and listen even harder.

The sign of intelligence is that you are constantly wondering. Idiots are always dead sure about every damn thing they are doing in their life.
— Jaggi Vasudev
Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.
— Jimi Hendrix

And in those heated moments where you’re battling with another and spinning your wheels in conflicted frustration, the best way to defuse the situation is to take a deep breath, step back, and…L I S T E N. Truly listen. Not only will this likely disarm your “contender,” but this simple action shows you value and respect them enough to consider their view. That right there has far-reaching effects. It shifts your approach from a place of one-sided triumph and win-lose to a place of resolution and win-win. It’s a clear reflection of your respect for them and conveys your willingness to remedy the situation and meet them halfway. It can make ALL the difference.

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Listening is a very deep practice... You have to empty yourself. You have to leave space in order to listen...especially to people we think are our enemies - the ones we believe are making our situation worse.

When you have shown your capacity for listening and understanding, the other person will begin to listen to you, and you have a chance to tell him or her of your pain, and it’s your turn to be heard. This is the practice of peace.
— Thich Nhat Hanh

This is especially important when you’re feeling triggered. How many times have you been blinded by emotions/anger, then realize you misheard/misperceived the other? I know I have. Much can be lost in communication - for a number of reasons. Consider you might’ve misunderstood/assumed/pre-concluded. Hear the other out (this is where gentle paraphrasing is especially helpful!) to ensure you’re catching what they’re throwing.

And sometimes the other person won’t pay you the same respect of listening to you. It is what it is. It’s annoying as hell, sure, but you can only control yourself. Rest assured you did what you could to resolve the matter. When that happens, my tried-and-true remedy involves time and distance (and my Scream Spotify playlist I created to express the fire I feel; Body Combat also helps! ;) ).

Happy listening.



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let's GET fired UP
Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

The man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there.
— Vince Lombardi

Are you 100% motivated 100% of the time, and/or are surrounded by people who are also motivated every second of every day, to do every single thing needing to be done?


AWESOME. First of all, welcome to the club of ALL HUMANS (even Beyonce!). Second of all, this post will hopefully help, instead of being a giant waste of your obnoxiously perpetually-motivated time. Love you mean it.

I consider myself a consistently motivated individual, and I know many of you are too (I’ve seen you in action!). However, there are times where I realllly gotta pep talk myself, especially when it comes to something that’s not enjoyable/easy for me to do.

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Awhile ago, I read a fantastic book called Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg. Yes, I recommend it. Unless you wanna be dumber, slower, and worse. Then, you know - do ya thang. To each their own.

(PS the following words of wisdom can be applied to motivate yourself AND others. SCORE!) YOU get motivation and YOU get motivation and YOU get…you get it.

We are motivated by the need for autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

Per Duhigg, the first step in creating drive is offering people/yourself choices to provide a sense of autonomy and self determination. The key is to present them as decisions rather than commands.

Ask yourself if what you’re doing today is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow.

Furthermore, if you can link something hard to a choice you care about, it makes the task easier. For example, let’s say you reallllly don’t wanna workout, but you reallllly do wanna stay healthy for your family for years to come, so you can witness major moments and be fit enough to play with your kids/grandkids/nieces/nephews/etc. Keep reminding yourself of that whenever you feel that fire dying. And if it helps, gives yourself options: group workout vs. solo workout, cardio vs. strength, etc. Some people this helps, some people this inhibits, so know yourself and adjust accordingly. For many with minimal motivation, it’s more beneficial to show up to a workout class where an instructor tells you what to do and fellow exercisers push and keep you accountable.

PARENTAL HACK! If you can make a chore into a meaningful decision, self motivation will likely emerge. Let your kids have a say in what chores they have (you may need to assert some authority here, depending on the track that conversation takes!) and explain why they have the chores in the first place. For example, explain you’re teaching them life lessons to kick booty later in life. They’ll be so much further ahead than many whose parents coddled them and then released them into the “wild” without any self-sustaining skills. Let them know how much you value and rely on their contributions to keep the house running smoothly. Acknowledge the control and autonomy they have. Let them know how much they MATTER.

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Once we start asking ourselves why, those small tasks become pieces of a larger constellation of meaningful projects, goals, and values. We start to recognize how small chores can have outsized emotional rewards because they prove to ourselves we are making meaningful choices, that we are genuinely in control of our own lives.

That’s when motivation flourishes.

Motivation is, in other words, a choice we make because it is part of something bigger and more emotionally rewarding than the immediate task requiring completion.



where Y O U are
Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
— Melody Beattie

It can be all too easy to wish life away. To focus on what you’re lacking/wanting rather than on what you already have.

“Once I earn my degree, life will be easier and I can breathe a sigh of relief.”

“My life would be so much more meaningful if I had children.”

“My life can really start once I’m married/have a life partner.”

“When my finances are solid, then I can catch my breath and enjoy life.”

How about enjoying life on the way to those goals? How about focusing on what you do have instead of what you don’t? How about celebrating your current situation?

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If all you did was just look for things to appreciate, you would live a joyous, spectacular life.
— Abraham Lincoln

This seems to blow some people’s minds when I tell them, but I can genuinely say I have never minded being single. I have never been the girl who needs to be in a relationship. I would much rather do my own thing than be with someone I’m not 100% into. Yes, a major part of that is I’m independent AF, but I’m also perfectly happy in a relationship.

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We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.
— Abraham Lincoln

The trick is I focus on the benefits of each status.

For example, the bonuses of flying solo are:

  • Crushing hard on that tall beautiful stranger at the gym

  • Considering your options

  • Flirting shamelessly (with other single guys!)

  • Receiving those cute initial texts

  • Creating nicknames with your friends

  • Going on a first date and wondering where it’ll lead

  • Being selfish with your time and covers ;)

And on the other hand, the upsides to a committed relationship are:

  • “Fun stuff” (yep, that fun stuff)

  • Cuddling

  • Someone to share life with (to include but not limited to: major moments, inside jokes, challenges, adventures)

  • Instant “plus one” to weddings

  • Someone to dress up with on Halloween (we all know this is the real winner and should be at the top of the list)

  • Someone to SPOIL

  • Having “your person”

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Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate.

Same concept applies to other situations! For example, I can’t wait to have littles of my own someday, but until then, I’m soaking up the advantages of a current childless existence. For example, every time I take a nap whenever the hell I want, or sleep in, or take off on a spontaneous getaway, I think, “Couldn’t do this [easily] if I were a mama!” On the flip side, I can’t imagine the love you parents experience for your little ones, and the special moments you share.

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The takeaway here is just being grateful for wherever you are in life, while working toward what you want.

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Don’t settle! Don’t force anything! Don’t rush anything! Don’t wish your life away!

Sure, you may have moments where you feel less than awesome and just REALLY FRIGGIN’ WANT THAT promotion/degree/ring/bambino but if you spend the majority of your time focusing on the positives, then you’re golden.



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D E C I S I O N S decisions
Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

I am not a product of my environment. I am a product of my decisions.
— Stephen Covey

Growing up, whenever I had a tough decision to make, I’d phone a friend: aka my sister, the bossiest person I knew. Sometimes the decision was as major as “Should I take this opportunity?” or as minor as “Should I buy these shoes?”

Be decisive. Right or wrong, make a decision. The road is paved with flat squirrels who couldn’t make a decision.
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I always felt overwhelmed by possibilities and potential avenues to pursue. I guess it’s the analyst in me. ;)

Lately, I’ve really committed to being more decisive. I believe decisiveness is a muscle and can be developed. Right or wrong, I try to decide as quickly, firmly, and resolutely as possible. I commit to my decision and stand by it. Not to say that I’m always locked into that particular decision. You can often reassess later and adjust accordingly, if need be. But I try to avoid vacillating as much as possible. I make a decision, and I stand by it.

The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision.

It’s a balance, that’s for sure. You want to gather sufficient relevant information, without drowning in it (which can be easy to do!). Sometimes, ya gotta just call it quits on the intel gathering and go with what you have. Halt the overthinking and just D E C I D E.

They say since our decisiveness is a finite resource, routine is key to reducing the amount of decisions we have to make daily. This is why ya boy Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, wears the same thing every day. I respect his level of devotion to decisiveness preservation…I’m a little too attached to personal expression through style so…I’mma stick with my varied wardrobe!

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I’m currently reading a fantastic book called Essentialism by Greg McKeown (highly recommend!). In the book, McKeown references a decision-making principle presented by TED speaker Derek Sivers in his talk “No More Yes. It’s Either HELL YEAH! Or No.” It’s a simple technique for becoming more selective in making our choices.

The key is to put the decision to an extreme test: if we feel totally convinced to do something, we say yes. Anything less gets a hard pass. In other words, if the answer isn’t a definite yes, it should be a no.

Consider applying this to shopping for clothes. What if we just used the broad criterion, “There’s a chance I will wear this someday.” HELLO cluttered closet. If we ask, “Do I absolutely LOVE this?” then we can save ourselves money and closet space by reserving room for something we truly dig. We can subject all of our decisions to this test - big or small, significant or trivial - in every area of our lives.

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Imagine it is a 90 Percent Rule, which is something you can apply to almost every decision or dilemma. As you assess an option, think about the single most important criterion for that decision. Then, simply rate the option between 0 and 100. If you score it any lower than 90 percent, boom - automatically change the rating to 0 and toss that bad boy.

This way, you avoid getting tangled up in indecision, or WORSE - getting stuck with suboptimal options. Like McKeown asserts, think about how you’d feel if you scored 65 on a test. Why would you deliberately choose to feel that way about an important decision in your life?

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I get that sometimes you gotta pick the lesser of two evils, or the least bad of two bad options. Sometimes you don’t have the luxury of just abstaining. And sometimes it can be terrifying to think of passing up an option on the mere hope something ideal will come along later. Risky business, I know.

The bottom line to remember here is: when our selection criteria are too broad, we will likely commit to too many options. Furthermore, assigning simple numerical values to our options forces us to make decisions consciously, logically, and rationally, rather than impulsively or emotionally. It takes discipline, but usually has a high reward.

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So fight that feeling of FOMO (fear of missing out) when deciding what opportunities to chase. Let’s say you receive an unexpected job offer, or an easy project outside the realm of your normal range, or a vacation opportunity in a less-than-ideal location. What should you do?

As McKeown advises, if we just say yes because it is an easy reward, we chance having to say no later to a more meaningful one.

McKeown suggests a simple, systematic process to help you decide:

  1. Write down the opportunity

  2. Write down a list of three “minimum criteria” the options must pass to be considered

  3. Write down a list of three ideal or “extreme criteria” the options must pass to be considered

If the opportunity doesn’t pass the first set of criteria, it’s obvi a no go. If it also doesn’t pass two of your three extreme criteria, it’s a no.

Building off of the clothing analogy, let’s say you’re purging your closet. You ask yourself: “If I didn’t already own this, how much would I spend to buy it?” Likewise, in your life, the powerful question when asking yourself what activities to eliminate is: “If I didn’t have this opportunity, what would I be willing to do to acquire it?” This can be applied to your personal life, your professional life, your kids’ lives (when determining just how many extracurriculars you’re going to shuttle them to and from).

Upon sufficiently exploring your options, the question isn’t “What should I say yes to?” Instead, ask, “What will I say no to?” This question will uncover your true priorities.

And when you don’t know what you want, flip a coin! When that coin is in the air, you’ll suddenly know for what you’re truly wishing.



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