For entrepreneurial mamas – Growing with your business

I have the utmost respect for Pam Slim, founder of Escape from Cubicle Nation, especially for the way in which she combines being an extraordinary entrepreneur with being an amazing mother.

I love her blog post today where she talks about the stages of business growth from the heart and soul perspective of motherhood.

In Pam’s words, “While I do not believe in the myth of work-life balance, I do believe it is possible to design a business to meet life and family goals.”

Click here to read Pam’s post and enjoy!

Great question: If your legacy was based only on today, what would you do?

I loved the question Jonathan Fields posted on Facebook today:

“If your legacy was based only on today, what would you do?”

This past year, I thought a lot about legacy.   How do I want to be remembered?  Equally important, how do I not want to be remembered?  Sometimes this version of the same question was more compelling for me.  I don’t want to be remembered as the mother who was always too tired or too busy to read a bedtime story, for example.

What do you want to leave behind?  How do you want the world to be different because you were here? 

Are you living an irresistible obituary?

It is the moment by moment decisions you make and the day to day actions you take that will create your legacy.

Did you do something today that would support the legacy you want to leave behind?

Monday Mama Muse: J.K. Rowling on Failure and Imagination

I loved Jonathan Field’s blog post today highlighting J.K. Rowling’s 2008 Harvard commencement address where she talks about Failure and Imagination. 

I was so happy to open the email from Jonathan today and see this.  I saw the interview J.K. Rowling did with Oprah and in the interview she mentioned this commencement address.  I had kept meaning to find it on YouTube and never got round to it.  Thanks to Jonathan for bringing it to me.  What a great way to start the first Monday of the New Year.  A perfect Monday Mama Muse, methinks.

Click here to read Jonathan’s post.

As you watch her speak, keep in mind all the excuses she could have made to NOT write.   She was a divorced mother raising her child by herself.  She was on the verge of poverty.  She didn’t have the perfect writing space.  I was in Edinburgh last August and walked past the cafe where she used to write.   Lack of time.  Lack of money.  Lack of space.   So many reasons to NOT write.  And yet she did.

See Stand Up Mama at Caroline’s Comedy Club

Having spent the past month or so writing a lot of new material, I’m very excited to have two shows coming up at Caroline’s Comedy Club.  I’d absolutely love to see you if you can make it to either show.

Here are the details for reservations for each show:

Monday October 18th at 7.00pm at Caroline’s Comedy Club, 1626 Broadway – call 212.757.4100 and mention that you’re coming to see Sally Robertson to get a discounted $5/person cover charge plus 2 drink minimum.  Please e-mail me at Sally@StandUpMama.com to let me know if you’re coming to see this show.

Monday November 1st at 7pm at Caroline’s Comedy Club, 1626 Broadway – Caroline’s Best of New Talent Show to kick off the New York Comedy Festival.  I am so excited to have been asked to take part in this show.   Please call 212.757.4100 to make reservations for this show and mention that you’re coming to see Sally Robertson to get a discounted cover charge. 

I so appreciate your support!

Take care,

Sally

Ken Robert’s “An Angry Letter from Your Big Idea”

I love Facebook for the people and ideas I’m introduced to by people I already know and respect.

Today, the wonderful Pam Slim of Escape from Cubicle Nation shared a brilliant blog post by Ken Robert of Mildly Creative.

His “Angry Letter from Your Big Idea” post resonated deeply with me and I think it might have the same impact on the creative mothers who visit my blog.

Click here for “An Angry Letter from Your Big Idea” and let me know if you’re ready to commit – really commit – to your big idea.

I know that I am.

A beautiful essay from Pam Slim – “you, less than”

I just wanted to take a moment to share an essay written by a friend and fellow Martha Beck coach, Pam Slim.  Pam is the founder of Escape from Cubicle Nation and author of the book by the same name.

I found this piece incredibly moving both as an individual who, while growing up, often felt “less than” and, as a mother who hopes that, when my children see themselves through my eyes, they will always remember who they are.

Thank you for sharing this, Pam.

I hope you enjoy it.

Click here to read the essay.

How to tell your story Tina Fey style

Chris Brogan recently did a great review of a book called “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” by Donald Miller.  I went straight to Amazon as Chris’ review of the book resonated so deeply with me.  You can read his review and watch the short video he made at:

http://www.chrisbrogan.com/importance-of-story/

Chris describes the book as a  “book about story, but it’s not exactly a book about writing. It’s about seeing your life like a story. It’s about living a better story. It’s about learning how to be present and interact in your life’s story.”

Over the past couple of years, I’ve become fascinated, nay, obsessed even with the concept of seeing your life as a story.

I’ve always had a passion for storytelling.  My Scottish grandmother was a raconteur and my father has that same tendency to weave a good yarn.  So it’s in my genes to love a good story.

Last year, as I was studying for my Master Coach certification with Martha Beck, I was also taking writing classes to work on my solo show.   During the writing classes, we did many prompted writing exercises.  I was intrigued to see how many things about my life and issues I was struggling with would be revealed in these writing exercises.  I became fascinated as to how I could combine writing and storytelling with my coaching.

Another part of the storytelling puzzle came together for me when I read a  book called “Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul” by Stuart Brown MD.  This book completely changed the way I saw my life, my children’s lives and my role as their mother.  There’s a section in the book that discusses play personalities.  You can see a Monday Mama Muse post that I wrote about play personalities by clicking here.  I identified my dominant play personality as “storyteller” and that knowledge transformed and informed my life.

It made sense of the fact that I felt drawn to work on a one-woman show in the tradition of storytelling rather than pursuing stand up comedy exclusively.

It explained why I felt most engaged and satisfied as a mother when reading or telling stories to my children or when we were playing games of “let’s pretend”.

It informed my coaching as I started to see how I used storytelling to make sense of coaching tools to my clients and how I used storytelling to help them see how they were living stories that didn’t serve them well when they could be writing – and living – a far more satisfying and far more authentic story for their life.

A huge piece of the importance of story puzzle fell into place when I discovered the book “Life is a Verb: 37 days to Wake Up, Be Mindful, and Live Intentionally” by Patti Digh.  If you’ve spent any time on my blog or in conversation with me since Amazon quite rightly suggested that I would LOVE this book, you’ll know that I’ve said that if I had to choose just ONE book that I could own, it would be this book.  I cannot get enough of it.  It sits by my bed and is read and re-read on a daily basis.  It is not only full of the most-exquisitely written essays (which somehow inspire you as an aspiring writer rather than defeat you) but also has many prompted writing exercises which remind me of my writing class.  It’s the book I would have loved to have written and yet I am still enormously grateful that Patti did.  It’s a book that you don’t just read, you interact with.  Patti Digh very thoughtfully designed the book to have wide margins to engage and encourage her readers to converse with the book. 

She says:

Taking pen or pencil to our books isn’t mutilation, it is conversation.  As British author Hester Thrale Piozzi put it in 1790.  “I have a Trick of writing in the Margins of my Books, it is not a good Trick, but one longs to say something.”  One longs to say something.

Perhaps you, too, long to say something.  These wide margins are here just for that reason.”

I love the book so much that, short of stalking Patti, I joined a group coaching program that she offers with the equally fabulous David Robinson.   You can read more about the work they do together at The Circle Project.

One of the assignments asked us “What is the story you want to live?  Where would you need to place your focus in order to live that story?”

I found this assignment to be ASTOUNDING in its simplicity and yet enormously profound in its impact on how I live my life.  I looked at my life and realized that my focus was placed almost exclusively on things, actions and individuals that had no place in the story I want to live.   I was shocked how much time I spent engaged in activities that have no place whatsoever in the story I want to write of my life.  I noticed how many characters were in my life who wouldn’t even have a background role in the story I wanted to write for my life.

In that moment, I truly got the concept of the importance of story and how my life is MY story.  I don’t just get to write it.  I’m freakin’ Tina Fey.  I get to write it, perform it and be the executive producer too.  I don’t even need NBC to decide whether my story gets shown.   I get to decide if this story gets beyond the pilot episode and is put on the air.

Every single element of my story (my life) is here because I choose to include it – the location, what my character wears, eats, says, what she thinks and does, the characters who are in my life – all of these things exist because I choose them.  If I don’t like the way a scene is turning out, you know what, I can start the scene over again and rewrite it the way I want it to be.  I can shout “cut” and “action” whenever the heck I want.  This is my story.  My show.  My life.  Oh Lord, I’m feeling a Frank Sinatra song coming on so bear with me.

There will be times when you’re in the middle of a scene and you don’t actually know how you want this scene to turn out or things will happen over which you have no control.  Well, bring on your Tina Fey one more time because at times like that you improvise.  Just Bring Yourself (and yes, I wrote a Monday Mama Muse about that too).  I remember reading an interview with Tina Fey where she talked about the art of improvisation and how so many of the things she’d learned about improv had helped her in how she lived her life.  She said something like “improvisation is reacting in the most creative way possible to what happens to you.”  So, if you can’t shout “cut” and you’re in the middle of a scene and don’t know what the hell to do, improvise.  React in the most creative way possible.  Which is becoming one of my favourite mantras for motherhood.

What is the story  YOU want to live?  Where would you need to place your focus to live that story?  Is that where your focus is placed now?  If not, do some editing.  Significant rewrites even.  Be your very own Tina Fey – write it, perform it, and produce every single detail of it.  When in doubt, improvise.

“Life is improvisation. All of those [improv] classes were like church to me. The training had seeped into me and changed who I am.”   ~Tina Fey

I’ve Always Loved You Best Because … by Erma Bombeck

I’ve Always Loved You Best Because …

It is normal for children to want assurance that they are loved. Having all the warmth of the Berlin Wall, I have always admired women who can reach out to pat their children and not have them flinch.

Feeling more comfortable on paper, I wrote the following for each of my children.

To the First-born: I’ve always loved you best because you were our first miracle. You were the genesis of a marriage, the fulfillment of young love, the promise of our infinity.

You sustained us through the hamburger years. The first apartment furnished in Early Poverty … our first mode of transportation (1955 feet) … the 7-inch television set we paid on for 36 months.

You wore new, had unused grandparents and more clothes than a Barbie doll. You were the “original model” for unsure parents trying to work the bugs out. You got the strained lamb and three-hour naps.

You were the beginning.

To the Middle Child: I’ve always loved you the best because you drew a dumb spot in the family and it made you stronger.

You cried less, had more patience, wore faded, and never in your life did anything “first,” but it only made you more special. You are the one we relaxed with and realized a dog could kiss you and you wouldn’t get sick. You could cross a street by yourself long before you were old enough to get married, and the world wouldn’t come to an end if you went to bed with dirty feet.

You were the continuance.

To the Baby: I’ve always loved you the best because endings generally are sad and you are such a joy. You readily accepted the mild-stained bibs. The lower bunk. The cracked baseball bat. The baby book, barren but for a recipe for graham cracker pie crust that someone jammed between the pages.

You are the one we held onto so tightly. For you see, you are the link with the past that gives a reason for tomorrow. You darken our hair, quicken our steps, square our shoulders, restore our vision, and give us humor that security and maturity can’t give us.

When your hairline takes on the shape of Lake Erie and your children tower over you, you will still be “the Baby.”

You were the culmination.

~ Erma Bombeck

Monday Mama Muse – what is dying to be born?

This post is going to be very short.  I planned a last-minute trip last week to visit my family in England and I leave on Thursday.  I feel like I’m planning a military exercise as I get everything ready (including taxes) to leave with some kind of peace of mind. 

Today is International Women’s Day and I want to share a post from Patti Digh’s 37 Days blog.  Each week, Patti writes a post called Mindful Monday.  Today’s post honors International Women’s Day and encourages us to listen to women’s voices and to little girl’s voices.

Here is the link to Patti’s Mindful Monday:

http://www.37days.com/2010/03/mindful-monday-.html

There’s a quote I love from a book called “Stepping Out of Line: Lessons for Women who want it their way … in life, in love and at work” by Nell Merlino (founder of Take Your Daughters to Work Day):

“We must step out of lines we don’t want our daughters to wait in.  We can’t say one thing and do another.  We can’t tell a girl that she can achieve anything she wants and then not be engaged and learning about things ourselves.  Let’s not settle for an unfulfilling life and then tell a girl to pursue her dreams.  Perfection is not required; we just need to live life on our own terms so girls can learn to live life on their own terms, too. …  In bathrooms, boardrooms, buses, bagel shops, and everywhere else, we all need to imagine a little girl following us around, repeating everything we say and everything we do.  Think about all the things you want for yourself and your daughters, granddaughters, and girls everywhere – and teach them by living it yourself.”

What is dying to be born?

Next week’s Monday Mama Muse will be written from my childhood bedroom in a small market in England.  I’m interested to see what I’m drawn to write about next week.  It will appear on my 42nd birthday.

Wishing you a wonderfully creative week until then!

Take care,

Sally

Sir Ken Robinson on Finding Creativity as an Adult

I just watched a five minute video where Elizabeth Lesser interviews Sir Ken Robinson on how to find creativity as an adult.

Please click here to watch the video.

Here are some of the comments he makes:

It’s never too late to find a new aspect of yourself. Obviously there are some physical limitations – at age 59, he doesn’t anticipate landing a leading role in a ballet any time soon.

We’re capable of extraordinary things. This is something that is at the very heart of my coaching philosophy.  I use the analogy of my experience as a stand up comic.  When I go on stage as a stand up comic, my goal is to make people laugh out loud.  Not to just smile or giggle.  I’ve chosen to live my life that way.  Pursuing the extraordinary rather than the ordinary.

Time moves differently when you’re in your Element.

He recommends taking two steps: a process of inner reflection where you take inventory on the things you’re drawn to do, the things you’d always wished you’d done and never did and then complement that with an outward journey of engagement.  The outword journey involves trying things you’ve never tried.

The comments that resonated most deeply for me were his comments about energy. He said that some activities take energy from you while those activities when you are in your Element give energy to you.   You feel emotionally buoyed by taking part in those activities.  I know this to be true from my own experience.  It’s counter-intuitive to add more things to an already packed life but whenever I add writing/performance to my life, I am energized by it.  When I add more activities that don’t make me feel in my Element, I am completely drained.