This is the San Francisco city skyline at 3pm at the end of 2012, a gorgeous way to end one year and begin a new year back in my city after being in Phoenix for 3 years. Every new year, I do a theme versus resolutions because I find themes lend for more creativitity, flexibility, and openness.
2012's theme was "Live Purposefully," and I sure did that. Here are some of the highlights:
- I launched my startup Thriving Media on January 1, 2012, what I called the third publisher. In 2012, Thriving Media published three books, Be Awesome on Twitter, Death of a Road Warrior, and Back in Skinny Jeans, and one healthy living mobile app on iPhone, Android, and Windows Mobile called, One Mile One Meal.
- I designed and created the One Mile One Meal mobile app. I am now a registered developer with Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Never in my wildest dream did I think I could do that.
- I moved from Phoenix back to Silicon Valley to create a startup that builds mobile health apps to help people live healthier lives.
- I spoke at three conferences on four panels, two about how to develop mobile apps for beginners, one on healthy living, and one on working with brands. One of those sessions had over 500 people, my biggest audience ever, and it was both exciting and made the introvert in me want to vomit from nervousness. I did fine.
- I pivoted Thriving Media in September and turned Noshtopia into its own business, a social network based on healthcare through eating targeting adults on special diets because of health issues. It's like if Facebook and Whole Living magazine had a baby.
- For the first time in my life, I called myself CEO and started the rounds fundraising pitching. Of all the things I did in 2012, this was the scariest and the farthest I have ever pushed myself out of my comfort zone.
- I ran over 1,100 miles, the first time I've EVER run that much in one year. It's even better because I'm older and in the best shape of my life :-)
And that is just the stuff I did professionally. Personally, I also accomplished much in 2012. In fact, it's not until now as I write this post that I'm realizing just how purposefully I did live last year. I realize, I don't do as much reflection as I need to which leads me to my 2013 New Year's theme which is:
My original theme was Mindfulness. In 2013, I wanted to work on expanding my consciousness and awareness. Being mindful seemed like the thing to do, but something felt slightly off. During my run yesterday, it hit me what was off.
Part of my issues with things, whether people, career, or dating, is that I spend too much time in my brain, my mind. I have a tendency to over-think and over-analyze, and follow logic versus what I desire.
My brain has dominated my life, and not a shocker. Western culture is brain-centric. In fact, here is something fascinating, Dictionary.com has a definition for mindful and mindfulness but none for heartful or heartfulness. Merriam-Webster Dictionary and Urban Dictionary both have listings for heartful but not heartfulness. A definition for heartfulness does exist on Wikipedia. There is a difference between mindfulness and heartfulness. Heartfulness is practiced more in the East than in the West.
The ego also resides in the mind, and I want to be less ego and more higher-self, and guess where that part lives?
I want to focus my energy now on how to be more full of heart. To live more open-hearted like I did when I was a kid yet tempered with adult wisdom. To be more in touch with my feelings, and expressing those feelings instead of hiding behind fear and insecurity. To build upon my already strong empathy skills. To bring something new to building a startup in Silicon Valley, a place that is so filled with ego and brain driven energy.
Heartfulness and online dating
As an example of heartfulness and stretching myself out of my comfort zone, I started online dating six weeks ago because I've been so engrossed in my business, family and moving back to California that I have completely neglected my love life. Here's one of the pics on my dating profile from a cousin's wedding last summer. I clean up pretty good, huh? :-)
I started seeing more of my friends on Facebook changing their relationship status from single to in a relationship or engaged, and I started getting sad. Happy for them but sad for me because it was truth time. I'm single and alone because I haven't taken any action to change that situation. I realized I've been taking huge risks with my business, reaping big rewards, and yet I've been a scaredy cat in my love life. I'm not beating on myself. I am able to observe myself without judgement, and see the truth. My solitude in love is my own doing, a result of my choices, which means I have the power to change that and make different choices, so I figured online dating is a good place to start. It was going okay but not great. I met some very nice men but there was no heart singing from the hilltops or even from the roof of my house.
The About Me part of my profile had the standard stuff that most people put like I enjoy hiking, drinking wine, and want to find a man who is fit, fun, and fabulous, blah, blah, blah. You know the same old standard, "How I'm wonderful on paper" kind of stuff everyone puts on their profile.
Doing a George Costanza
I want to experience a great love. I had that once before and it was amazing, and that is what I want. I even had to start on being clear about what I want. I want to have passion, soul-connection, and I'm willing to work at it. The biggest lesson I learned from that other great love experience is that great love the kind that makes you feel alive takes attention, patience, compassion, and working as a team. You don't go into relationship auto-pilot just because you found each other. In fact, that's how relationships die. We stop feeding and nurturing, and growing that love.
So, in order to have that great love, I have to be great myself which means be my best self not my safe in the comfort zone self. I decided to start with a tiny action taking my own advice. Two weeks ago, I completely re-wrote my dating About Me section, and went bold. I asked for what I want! I'll share it with you.
Hi thanks for stopping by! I'm going to do a George Costanza and do the opposite of what I've done on my profile before. Here it goes: I'm looking for a man who has an open heart and has the courage to be willing to fall head over heels in love. Yes, that's asking a lot on a dating site, but really is it? To have great love takes great leap of faith. "Love is an act of faith, not an exchange." ~Paulo Coehlo
Here's the thing. I am just as scared to death and resistant as you. We're all looking for love. We've had it, lost it, been heart-broken by it and want love safety. But what has living in the heart comfort zone brought you? I've asked myself this. Emailing and texting, then moving on to countless coffee dates with people who like hiking and dogs like you because an algorithm says we're a match. I realized I am willing to be bold in business but have been conservative with love and that has to change even if it starts with a small heart felt action on a website.
What we have is hope. We aren't born with courage. We are given opportunities to demonstrate courage. Best line in Evan Almighty. There is the dream of that one person, that love that makes us a more loving human and the world a brighter place - to feel alive! I'm looking for that kind of connection. I know I'm asking for more than I can chew, but I'm willing to be imperfect, scared and fall down because I know the right man will extend his hand to help pick me up and I for him.
It starts with me, It starts with you. Shall we try doing the opposite? :-)
The Costanza results
So what happened when I changed my profile? Well, to use marketing terms, my conversion rate tripled! I started getting WAY more responses from men that were more the type I'd go out with at least for a first date. Most of the emails I got said basically, "I love your profile. Good for you for having the courage to be bold and ask for what you want. It's so refreshing to see that."
Because I really opened my heart and took a chance, online dating has taken a whole different turn for the better. Who knows what will happen, but I am being open-hearted.I am also experimenting with letting go of expectations like how I "think" things should go, or how my husband-to-be will look like or show up. Believe me, this all feels very awkward, scary, and uncomfortable, BUT, the old way was not getting me anywhere I wanted to be. I have to evolve or be okay with being single in my comfort zone. I'm not okay with option B, so like in my business, I'm going to take the risks with my heart and go for it!
And speaking of my business, I am going to apply heartfulness to creating a "conscious startup" in 2013. More on that in the next post. I also want to explore where heartfulness can help me in my health, with my friends and family, and helping make the world a better place. To use movie metaphor, I'm excited about the adventure and stories to come giving my heart the leading role and giving my mind an opportunity to be a supporting cast member.
2013 is the year of heartfulness. What is your 2013 theme?