The Pragmatic Hybrid

A love letter in 17 parts.

1. This letter is for me. It might also be for you.

2. Seventeen is today’s lucky number.

3. Chances are, the other person in a touchy situation you find yourself in is not a villain, and not a hero. They’re just people, “seeking happiness and avoiding the causes of unhappiness,” as Buddhists say. It’s safe to assume good intent.

4. In other words, it’s not about you.

5. Or, that part is not about you. The part that is about you: who you become in response.

6. The easy thing: to kick them out of your heart completely, and close it against them.

7. The other easy thing: to creep into their lane, to try to handle their business (and forget to handle your own).

8. The hard (bordering-on-impossible), master level of play: to love them, and keep a soft corner of your heart for them, while simultaneously remembering that what serves the highest good is keeping your commitments to your Self.

9. Your responsibility is to your own life.

10. It’s easy (and tempting) to use your righteous, manufactured anger as the fuel to launch yourself into doing what you must do.

11. Resist this. Find alternate fuel sources.

12. Injury-as-kindling removes all power from you, and places it squarely outside of you.

13. When, in reality, there’s no villain here. No bad actors. Just regular humans, negotiating the world with a lifetime (each) of history and hurts and lost loves, stumbling sometimes under unexpected burdens.

14. It’s natural to wobble. The challenge is to continually bring yourself back to reality, to the center, to the truth, which is that you don’t know anything about anything. This is the tender, demanding path you’re committed to.

15. Why would you want to shut it down, or turn it off? Yes, I know it hurts. Your giant heart is the most beautiful thing about you. It’s worth a little pain to keep it open.

16. Sometimes, in even what landed like unmitigated bad news, there was the intention of kindness and protection, with your name on it specifically. Look for it.

17. Writing solves problems that have nothing to do with writing. If the frustrated value is love, or freedom, or self-expression, or something else, write. See if it doesn’t start to unravel your heart’s defenses.



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The question I’ve been wanting to ask you.

I’ve been wanting to write you a love letter.

I want to tell you the thing I’ve been wanting to tell you for weeks. The thing about being world class.

I learned this from (that force of nature) Marie Forleo. She was being interviewed, and offered a question that shifted everything for her.

Hearing the question shifted everything for me, and rocked my foundation for weeks. I’ve been wanting to tell you about it ever since.

It went like this:

If you were the best in the world at what you do, how would you live your life?

If you were world class.

What would you provide for yourself? What kind of support structures?

How much would you sleep?

How would you feed yourself? How would you take care of this vessel you were given, that is the conduit through which your world class-ness is expressed?

How would you interact with other people?

How much confidence and trust would you have?

How much ease?

The question makes me think of maestros, in all areas of endeavor. And how they can be crotchety and demanding, and particular about their needs and meeting them.

But their requirements are not ultimately about them, or gratifying their egos.

It’s in service to their work.

Because they’re the best in the world at what they do, they act as if they’ve been given a sacred trust. In service to this trust, they give themselves what they need to do right by it.

Not for themselves.

For us.

Their world-class-ness is a gift to all of us. And they (we!) are responsible for carrying out their (our!) marching orders.

When I got this, I had an instant of thinking that behaving as if I’m the best in the world at what I do meant I had to be strict and harsh with myself (as you might be tempted to do, if you come from the world of discipline and achievement).

But in the next instant, something loosened in my heart.

If I am the best in the world at what I do, I need and deserve my own supreme kindness.

My gentle, tender regard.

To cosset my Inner Genius Self with whatever it takes to support the full flourishing of my gifts.

You get to reach out and advocate for your work, with confidence and trust. Because it’s not ultimately about you.

It’s for all the rest of us.

That’s what I have for you today. What I’ve been wanting to tell you for weeks. (With thanks to my beloved Kylie Bellard for talking it through with me.)

Here’s to you and your world class-ness. May we all walk through the world remembering that our work is bigger than us.


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But it says so in my lab notebook

For the past few months, I’ve been the lucky beneficiary of Jen Hofmann’s smartness and goodwill in the super-secret beta version of her Inspired Home Office Community. (Don’t be jealous! It will open to everyone in August.)

This morning, getting ready for our monthly planning call, I was casting around in an old notebook looking for notes from June’s call, all the while telling myself a subconscious sotto voce story about how I need to get it together urgently, as always, because life is short and everything dies and I want to do so damn much and impermanence and and and.

(All this internal rattling is exactly the kind of thing that Jen’s work is such a powerful antidote for, by the way. She shows up with her calming presence and her compassionate view of you and your to-do list, and the mean inner voices just fall silent, and you get gobs of important-to-you stuff sorted. It’s amazing.)

So, I was pretty sure I hadn’t done anything too worthwhile with my June, besides life and business maintenance. Most of the important projects I wanted to move forward? I didn’t remember them happening.

You probably know where this is going.

It is truly amazing what I am capable of forgetting.

I went back over the list of June’s Possible Projects to remember, oh yeah, I did that. And I did that too.

I got a crap-ton done in June: had a birthday, traveled, was a guest expert in Abby’s Freeing the Voice of Your Business, got waylaid by and subsequently sorted out mysterious health issues, made a huge, life-pivoting decision about the future of my work, and tried to keep up with a massive growth surge that is taking over my life and presenting me with numerous and varied Learning Opportunities (a.k.a. big annoying new things to integrate, like, NOW).

This was in addition to every-month tasks, like life stuff and writing and talking to coaching clients.

The point is that I had no memory of what I’d accomplished. I had to go back to the notes to remember it all and give myself points, and to score my efforts more accurately than in the accounting that exists in my memory.

So it makes a kind of sense that I wake up many days feeling behind before I’m even upright. (Which is kind of unfair, isn’t it? How can I be behind when I was asleep? Shouldn’t sleep stop the accomplishment clock?)

My perception – that I’m Always Chronically Behind, and chasing my most important projects as they manage to stay just out of reach – does not reflect reality. My notebook says so!

Thank god for all that lab biologist training to write down every single step in a bound book – because of this habit, I have the incontrovertible documentary evidence that Scientist Me requires in order to be convinced, since memory can be slippery and easily co-opted by unhelpful forces.

Especially, apparently, when it comes time to acknowledge my own doings.

It’s a result of my good-girl training, deeply internalized.

It’s the weight of the accumulated injunctions to be modest, humble, sharif (“noble” or “honorable” in Urdu), all taken to their desired end – the disappearing of the knowledge of our own power. Of our natures, which are wild, strong, wise. Effective.

And not at all modest or self-effacing.

What we find when we start peeling back these indoctrinated layers is that we carry within us many voices and instructions and commandments that we adopted so early and so completely that we forgot that they originated with anyone but ourselves.

Sometimes it takes a page from a notebook, written in your own hand and subsequently disowned from memory, to return you to the knowledge that you’re a natural.

Comment Fu

This space is like a Quaker meeting that is happening in my living room. Honored guests, please speak as you are moved to. And let’s be awesome to each other, because graciousness among friends is why we hang out together.