OMG! I was picked to speak in front of 400 people!

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I’ve been selected to give a speech at Women For One at their PNW TruthTeller Tour (an event about women sharing stories) to talk about my experiences that led me to create 365 Meaningful Conversations! The event is Sunday, April 28 at 6-9pm and there will be five featured speakers—check out tickets here! 🎉

This opportunity fell right into my lap—a woman who I’d never met before messaged me on Facebook about my Seattle events and she told me that I should apply to be a speaker for the TruthTeller Tour and I’ll admit, my first thought was, “What story do I have worth sharing to others?” Then, I took a breath and paused—I do have a story that I want to share—it’s messy, authentic and wildly vulnerable.

I submitted my essay an hour later (luckily, because it was the last day before the deadline) and then a few weeks later I got an email that I’d made it to the final round! I talked to Kelly McNelis, who is the founder of Women For One & author of Your Messy Brilliance, and then a few days later I got notified that I’d been selected to speak with four other women out of 140 stories! I feel honored that I’ll get to take the stage and talk openly about my experience with sexual assault leading me to create a business all about creating spaces for people to share vulnerably & authentically through meaningful conversations.

I won’t lie…I’m nervous to speak in front of a crowd sometimes, but especially sharing a narrative that’s been held tightly. But, when Kelly asked me, “Why do you want to share your story?” I couldn’t help but think of the power of the #MeToo Movement—and all the powerful people who have shared their stories with courage. I held sexual assault as a secret for years…and secrets eat away at us in small ways, which led to me feeling sad, disconnected and inauthentic.

I feel called to share my story with others in the hopes that someone hears it and feels less alone, and even perhaps hopeful.

Dealing with sexual assault has been the hardest thing in my life—and it sparked a deep desire in me to create 365 Meaningful Conversations, which I feel grateful to have stumbled into. I gather people together to connect through meaningful conversations about topics we normally ignore in society like gender, privilege, race, grief, self-love, body image, etc—topics that are often shrouded in shame and secrecy. My hopes with these conversations is that people can begin to relate and connect with others’ experiences and feel less alone in their own…a sense of connection. I was silent for years about my sexual assault and felt incredibly lonely in that experience and wonder, what if I’d heard someone’s story of sexual assault—would that have helped me feel less lonely? There is power in numbers. You feel less lonely when you hear that other people share similar thoughts, experiences or even stories.

I’ve hosted now 35 meaningful conversation events (or as I’ve coined them: Heart-to-Hearts) and I’ve been privileged to hear people share their stories of grief, success, trauma, searching for love, finding a dream job, loneliness, feeling lost, heart-break, family strife, life-changing travels…and it all reminds me:

as humans, we are more alike than we are different.

So, my hope with meaningful conversations is that people share their experiences in an authentic, vulnerable way—struggling to date, dealing with social anxiety, not having a family that gets them, getting a health diagnosis—and that people can start to hear other’s stories and that they’ll feel less alone in their own similar experiences. When we share our stories that we often hide with others then that allows our own shame to dissipate—and gives a gift to anyone else who is listening that they are not alone.

“If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive” - Brene Brown

I’ll be sharing my story—along side four other amazing women, so…if you’re in the Seattle area on Sunday, April 28 at 6-9pm then check out getting tickets to see five women take the stage and share their powerful, raw and vulnerable stories! I believe nervousness and excitement are one in the same—so, I’ll be feeling both as I get to get on stage, speak into a microphone and share my messy self to others! Here’s a quote that resonates with all of this…

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Leave a comment of what story you want to share.

How can I be proud of my life? 🤔

I’ve been thinking a lot about living a life that I’m proud of, which means I’ve been stumbling around thinking about pride—a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements.

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It’s funny because as soon as I finished reading that definition my brain automatically was thinking of awards, recognition or external validation—something that a person hands to you or says to you. But, that upsets me because then some external force has the ability to decide whether or not I’ve been successful or achieved something. But, in all actuality…I want to decide what I am proud of or not.

Did I wake up and make a nourishing breakfast? Win.

Did I listen to someone with an open mind today? Success.

Did I work towards a larger goal today? Achievement!

However, I’m sure someone would scoff at my list above—”That’s nothing to celebrate or feel proud of!” But, I am proud of those moments because I’m sure-as-hell not doing things worth getting an award every single day of the week—there are some days when I lay down to go to sleep and I think to myself, “Hmm…what can I celebrate as a win?” and I can only think of one thing.

I challenge you to reflect on your markers for success or pride in your own life—are you setting the bar so high that you’ll never reach it or is your bar sitting too low that nothing feels like an achievement? You have the power to define what a life that you’re proud of looks like, which is both amazing and scary!

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I read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s quote,

“I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you are not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again”

and am struck by the empowerment I feel. I am the person who gets to decide if I’m proud of my life—not social media or my parents or my neighbors or even my closest friends—just me! I can mark all the smallest win as something to feel proud of or I can only let that joy in for the big things that people externally tell me.

I believe a lot of us wait for someone to tell us to be proud instead of feeling it for ourselves. We wait for someone to give us a compliment or email us a thumbs up, when really we could be boosting ourselves every single minute of the day. So, I encourage people who aren’t feeling proud of their lives to take a pause and write a list of today’s wins—anything that you feel proud of. I warn you, if you’re only trained to see big wins then you might have to sit down and really allow yourself to feel proud of the small moments—getting out of bed on time to go to work, smiling at a coworker who you disagree with, paying a bill, or even reading part of an article—it’s okay to start with the smaller things and let those fill you up!

Every single person can feel proud of their life…if they want to! Baby steps…then, you can start to work towards the deeper sense of pride that we’re all looking for, which I think is inextricably attached to purpose. We feel a lot of pride from working towards a larger goal or purpose, whether that’s professionally or personally—starting a new business or starting a family—those are big moments where it’s a little bit easier for pride to fill you up because people are often saying, “Congrats! What a beautiful baby” or “What a lovely house.” But try to keep in mind that a feeling of pride should always come within yourself instead of from someone else, otherwise you’re passing the power of your life to someone else.

I’ll leave you with one small change to help other people gain a sense of pride in their own life. Instead of telling people, “I am so proud of you!” make the small change to, “I hope you are so proud of yourself!” because you then allow someone to feel their own pride instead of handing it to them.

Flow in the State of flow! 🌊

When I tell people that I’ve sat at a table and drawn for 7 hours straight without standing up to stretch my legs, pee or munch on snacks…they don’t believe it.

My flow state is drawing. According to positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, flow state is a state of complete immersion in an activity. He describes the mental state of flow as "being completely involved in an activity for its own sake”. Listen to his TED Talk to learn more about the psychology behind flow state:

The feeling of turning our minds off and truly being present in the moment is the most beautiful part of flow state. I can draw and just give my attention to the task in front of me—sketching doodles, tracing letters and thinking of good color matches. Suddenly, the stress of finding a job or turmoil in a relationship or even the mundane thoughts dissipate—and I’m left in the present moment with my artwork.

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I didn’t start a journey to find something that allowed me this gift of flow, but rather kept feeling drawn to drawing for this feeling and energy it gives me. I wasn’t drawing to produce artwork and I never turned it into a goal-oriented process, but instead just kept it as a hobby that filled voids of time in a way that felt happy, positive and fulfilling. 

However, not everyone’s as lucky to just find something that allows them to access their flow state—and sometimes, find your own flow state requires a little bit of searching. I believe we’ve all accessed that feeling many times before, but we often forget because those times tend to be when we’re younger without as much care in the world. So, think back to your five year old self—what would they love? I think we are our most purely present selves back in young age because we haven’t learned to be distracted with technology, our own thoughts and other things that take us out of the every day moment.

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I’ve always loved doodling even as a little girl—all over my notebooks, on my clothes and even a few times on bathroom stalls (ooooops!) Drawing quotes especially allowed me to really get into a flow state because I didn’t have to spend energy on “what” I was drawing, but rather let the quote come alive with bright colors and little doodles. I even decided to buy a plain gray sweatshirt and doodle ALL over it with my favorite quotes in Sharpies (*embarrassing photo attached*)…and let me tell you, I wore that sweatshirt until the ink faded from it.

So, think back to your younger self—the self that you were before the world tried to tell you to become someone else. What did you love? I’ve asked this question before and I’m always intrigued by the answers because often people tell me about something they used to love (or still love) but aren’t actively pursuing because: A) It doesn’t seem like a “career” or B) Someone at some point made them feel ashamed about it or C) They just forgot…

Leave a comment with your flow state OR your five year old self’s favorite—are they the same or different?

A gratitude challenge: 50 letters to friends as a goodbye!

I was pretty sad at the end of four years of college out in Brunswick, Maine at Bowdoin College. I’d been lucky enough to make a lot of life-long pals who were spreading out all over the country (and globe!) at the end of college—and I felt like I needed to tell each person how much their friendship meant to me, so…I did!

I’ve always loved writing letters! If that was a love language, then it would be mine through and through. I decided to hand-design a bunch of cards and then every day for the last month-ish of college I’d spend 10-30 minutes writing each friend a letter. It’s funny because writing down all of my favorite memories, what I loved about each friend and my hopes for staying connected allowed me turn my sadness into gratitude!

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I graduated from college back in 2016, but I still think about this project every once in a while! I don’t think we all take pauses enough to tell people that we love and care about all the things that we love about them—and it made me curious, why?

Do we wait to say these things because we think those people will always be around? Are we all nervous to say things like that for fear that others don’t share the sentiment? Or…some other reason that alludes us?

It’s become a tradition for me to write everyone a letter whenever I leave a spot and it’s actually a really beautiful way that helps me say goodbye to people & places. I left a job after 9 months in Durango, CO and I made a lot of quick, deep friendships after working 8 day shifts with people in the harsh backcountry life of a wilderness therapy guide. So, naturally I felt sad to leave despite moving onto a new journey & adventure. So, I threw an ice-cream party and gave everyone their letter where I made sure to highlight how much I appreciated everyone.

The art of writing letters isn’t that popular among twenty-ish year olds—I guess millennials would rather get a text than a letter? It’s funny because I can count on two hands the letters that I’ve gotten back from people. I think it’s powerful to put pen to paper to tell someone how much they mean to you, but I think I’m lucky because I grew up with a mom & dad who’d write letters for EVERY occasion: new job? birthday? break-up? accomplished a goal? moved somewhere new? They’ll write a heart-felt letter full of love for almost every milestone of life, so I’ve grown up with the habit of writing letters as well as cherishing them.

So, I’ll keep writing letters to people who I care about in my life—and I’m going to try and do it before the time comes when I move away (new goal!)

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Dinner time: let's eat...and make small talk

We all sit down for dinner (or sometimes stand in the kitchen or every once in a while sit on the couch in front of the TV….), but it’s often a time where people have the same small talk conversations over and over and over: the weather, politics and the classic “How are you” “Good, you?” “Fine” conversation.

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Yeah, those conversations make me want to flip a table too! So, are you ready to spice up your dinner table conversations?!

For parents who are looking to connect with their kids, roommates who want to start a new connecting dinner tradition or even families (especially on Thanksgiving or Christmas or any holiday)…consider getting a box of 365 Connection Cards!

Instead of trying to come up with original, engaging and fun new conversations every single night…let the box of cards provide endless meaningful conversations for you! You’ll talk about anything from self-love to grief to body image to family dynamics…the box invites you into the kind of conversations you use to have late at night at sleepovers or in the pitch black by a fire-side.

A little anecdote from a good friend who decided to liven up his Friendsgiving: he stuck a connection card under every single on of his friend’s chairs at the dinner table and then after they’d feasted and before dessert…he told everyone to look under their chair for their card! They each then went around and gave their answers—it was a night of unforgettable, meaningful conversations all because of a few cards!

Here are some potential new dinner table conversations:

  • What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in your life?

  • What’s your love language? (gift giving, physical touch, acts of service, words of affirmation or quality time)

  • Who is a strong woman in your life?

Get your own box of connection cards here for your next gathering of people around the dinner table—you’ll have dinner guests (even if they’re your kids) staying at the table long past dessert!

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Allllll byyyyyy myselffffffff

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In case you didn’t understand the title here’s a clip from one of the funniest movies, Bridget Jones, where she hits on the feeling of lonely on a Friday night in pjs, drinking wine, watching movies. I can totally relate to her belting out “ALLLLLL BYYYYY MYSEEEEELLLLLFFF” at different stages in my life.

I want to clarify—alone and lonely are totally different experiences:

  • You can be in a crowded room full of people and still feel lonely

  • Or by yourself at home without feeling lonely

Loneliness is an experience of isolation due to lack of connection — a lack of being seen and understood.

I’ve felt lonely at different points in my life. I’ve moved since graduating college to five different states in the span of 2.5 years, so I’ve been on the grind of moving and trying to build community for quite some time now. It’s exhausting…slash, it’s really hard to make community because it takes time. I’ve depended on friends who live across all parts of the US in order to stay connected as well as family, but even with a great effort to stay connected…loneliness has crept up and said, “BOO!” a few times before.

Advice that I’ve been given:

  • Join clubs: I definitely have joined a lot of clubs—soccer teams, book clubs, running clubs, community work places…the list is endless! I think the most successful times have been when I’ve joined a club because I’m really interested in the topic & naturally like the people

  • Introduce yourself to people: I try my best to do this! I talk to strangers a fair bit at coffee shops, out at bars and sometimes just on street corners. I haven’t ever turned a total stranger into a friendship, but I’ve had pleasant conversations that do brighten my day!

  • Make yourself a regular at a coffee shop: Yes! I do this wherever I live. It works pretty well because you see the same people, so you’ve always got an automatic intro line, “I see you around here a lot! Hey—my name’s Audrey.” It’s a sweet organic way to make some friends!

Over time, I’ve collected some pretty hilarious (and over the top) songs about loneliness into a playlist that you can feel free to play if you’re ever feeling lonely and want a pity party feat. Simple Plan, Green Day and a few other artists!

Leave a comment with a time you’ve felt lonely & your best tips for anyone in that position!

Managing Emotions: tips & tricks for keeping an emotional check-in journal

I designed this journal—it’s a research-based way to increase your happiness, gratitude & goal achievement

I designed this journal—it’s a research-based way to increase your happiness, gratitude & goal achievement

Emotions: happy, sad, angry…the list is endless. We often categorize our emotions as “good” or “bad”—but I like to instead classify my emotions by “comfortable” and “uncomfortable” because that allows me to be in control of growing. For example: I used to think feeling angry was a bad emotion, so I often didn’t let myself become angry (aside from the eye-rolling during rush hour traffic)…but over time, I realized that I’m actually just uncomfortable being angry (probably because I’m a woman who grew up in a society that doesn’t endorse women exercising our right to express anger).

I spend 10-20 minutes every night before going to sleep journaling. I’m a pretty big journal nerd, so I keep two separate journals: one is focused on writing every single day my mantra (I am strong, lovable, capable and worthy), three affirmations, five gratitudes, three goals for the next day, four check boxes (read, workout, journal and draw), an emotional check-in, and the highlight of my day…and the other journal is just a blank journal for writing about my day.

The emotional check-in means that I write down how my mind, body, heart and soul are doing in that moment. I approach this without judgement or creating a story (ie NOT: “My head hurts…I must be dehydrated…ugh I suck at hydrating” but instead: “My head is pounding”). Here’s an example of daily emotional check-in:

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Mind: in the past, busy, hamster-wheel

Body: Sore lower back, heavy shoulders, strong legs

Heart: Connected, happy, joyful, sad, anxious, content

Soul: connected to adjustments

A few things to note:

  • Contradictions: we’re complex humans and we’re capable of feeling more than one emotion at a time (think bittersweet). I’m surprised when I’m journaling about my heart how it’s never straightforward—there’s always a lot of emotions that come up.

  • No minimizers: I encourage people to say, “I feel _____ (emotion)” without adding “sorta” or “a little bit” or other minimizers. Read the following: “I feel angry” versus “I feel a little bit angry”—the power is totally different. Often, we minimize our “negative” (ie: uncomfortable) emotions instead of letting them take up equal space as our “positive” (ie: comfortable) emotions…you hardly hear someone say, “I’m a little bit happy”

  • Soul check-in: people often roll their eyes when I tell them about a soul check-in, but I like to think of a soul check-in as what I felt most connected with throughout that entire day…whether it was a person, a place, an emotion, a sensation, or something larger (ie: the wind, feeling lost, etc.)

  • Take a deep breathe: I stop, pause and take a deeeeeeeep breath before I write down anything because I actually want to spend time sitting with my mind, body, heart and soul instead of rushing to get something down on paper. I always encourage people to sit down with intentional time in a space that nourishes them when they’re journaling—it’ll start to create a practice that you’re excited for instead of something that feels like drudgery.

Leave a comment below to let others know how you manage your emotions!