Year of Yes By Shonda Rhimes: 5 Kick-Ass Takeaways

Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes was showing up everywhere on my social feeds last year. Truth be told, I didn’t know who Shonda Rhimes was; I just knew she wrote a book that a lot of people were paying attention to. I hadn’t really been a T.V. person until Netflix entered my life in a big way last summer so that might explain why I was one of the few people on Earth who hadn’t watched an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. (Don’t worry: I’ve rectified this situation by binging episodes since last week. I am totally in love with Dr. McDreamy and well on my way to collecting dark circles under my eyes to satisfy this obsession). What inspired me to give Grey’s a try was reading Year of Yes.

What I Learned from Shonda Rhimes' Year of Yes: How to Dance it out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person

Threaded throughout this memoir slash personal development book was Shonda’s creative process, and as a writer those bits thrilled me. What I took away from this book, besides a curiosity for her shows, has become a part of my own personal and creative life. If you haven’t read this book, I gave it 5 stars on my Goodreads app which means you need to get your hands on these pages and read them – stat!

Here are my 5 kick-ass takeaways from Year of Yes

1. Own your badassery and get your swagger on. When Shonda talked about how women react to being given a compliment, I was like, that is so me. If someone tells me they loved something I wrote, I will do any number of the following: look away, cast my eyes downward, shrug my shoulders, shake my head, mumble something, or say: “oh…huh…” and giggle. Since reading that powerful section on badassery and swagger in Year of Yes, I will now look the person in the eye and say, “thank you” (because if nothing else, that is just polite!) and ask them a follow-up question to engage them in conversation about the topic. Or I say something like, “I really appreciate you reading. It was important to me to put that out there.” I do value my readers – so much! – and writing is a lot of work. I don’t want to undermine either important fact.

2. The 5-mile run. I’m not a runner but I understand the ‘5-mile run’ writing process that Shonda describes. I  have since borrowed this metaphor for my writing classes. The 5-mile run in writing is that process of pushing on, keeping on, ignoring the distractions, knocking down those demons, shushing that voice that says ‘someone else has written this better than you’, and writing, writing, writing until you conquer those 5 miles of cobwebs and are now…in the zone. That is the sweet spot for a writer (and I guess for a runner!) and it’s where we want to be every day. But it’s a practice. The more often you run those 5 miles or write through the junk in your head, the better you get at it and the faster you get to the zone. Really, this applies to anything. You can’t get to where you want to be when you’re looking everywhere else.

3. Recognize and love your inner child. Shonda talked a lot about her little girl self in a way that encouraged my own little girl self to start showing up more. Either that or I just started seeing her more. I’ve always been attached to that awkwardly-dressed, big-eyed dreamer who I know still lives inside me – a permanent 7 year old who follows her more adventurous friend through the woods to play, who sings in an imaginary band, reads everything she can get her hands on, and collects notebooks. She’s nervous in new situations, is unsure about whether she’s doing things ‘right’ but absolutely knows what she loves. She’s a wonderful companion to me when I’m writing, and always.

4. The Year of Yes is also about ‘no’. I didn’t jump to get the book when I heard the title because I’m trying to be more conscious about saying ‘no’. I say ‘yes’ to a lot of things (it’s how I carve my entrepreneurial path). But I know that to live an authentic life, I have to identify what’s important to me – not just so I can create time for those things but so I can take back my energy from what’s not important. The deeper I got into this book, the more I realized that this is exactly what Shonda recognizes, too. Saying ‘no’ can be difficult. For me, it sometimes comes with guilt or the worry that I will look like  a bad person. But if I always keeps my own values in the forefront, the ‘no’ is just a ‘yes’ to what’s more important to me.

5. You can’t do it all at the same time. This. Is. So. True. The way Shonda explained it, if she’s winning at work, she’s losing at motherhood. Or winning at motherhood and losing at work. Put your hand up if you can relate to THAT?! I remember this one day, in particular, just after I read that section of the book, I had this amazing work day. I checked everything off my to-dos and even started on something for later that week. Like, I rocked that work day. I picked up my kids after school, and I was humming and smiling and practically skipping from the car to their classrooms. Straight from school, we drove to the swimming pool where all 3 kids had lessons at the same time. Yeah, because I’m a kick-ass mom who managed to get lessons for all 3 kids in 3 different levels at the same time. As the kids changed into their swimming gear, I realized…I forgot to pack them towels! Which meant that in 30 minutes I would have two soaking wet kids, shivering, with no towel. And 15 minutes later, their older sister who had a longer lesson would join them. Talk about a mom fail! And of course, the pool wasn’t close enough for me to go back home, grab towels and come back. I’d be cutting it tight and risk not being there when my 3 year old came out looking for me. Also, I don’t like to leave the building when my kids are in swimming. So, I was stuck. And then I laughed because…I WAS JUST LIKE SHONDA RHIMES so how bad could that be? I shared this in my IG stories; it was the perfect example of how you can’t win at everything all at once! (Thankfully, the pool let me borrow a towel so nobody was actually forced to put their street clothes on soaking wet).

These takeaways from Year of Yes quickly gave that book ‘game changer’ status for me. It’s one of those books I could read again and stand to benefit from often.

Have you read it? What did you love about it? On another note, are you a Grey’s fan? Don’t tell me anything about it! I’m only on season 2!

taslim jaffer writer

Live Your Authentic Life By Answering This One Question

Over the recent Family Day long weekend, my family and I spent a night in Whatcom County. It was sunny and clear but there was quite a nip coming off Lake Whatcom. Perfect weather for sitting in a window seat, watching the small ripples chase each other toward the shoreline. I pulled my journal onto my lap while the kids busied themselves with a card game. I figured I’d just dump some of the thoughts tumbling around in my head before making lunch. I didn’t know I would stumble upon an exercise I’d recommend to help you live your authentic life.

How do you live an authentic life? Answering this one question is a good start.

 

 

Sometimes when I journal, I have a particular thing I want to work out and I just need to see it all physically to make sense of it, to gain some clarity. But that day, it truly was just a moment when I felt like I wanted to take advantage of quiet children and a sunny spot by the window. I started writing random thoughts that piggy backed on each other and didn’t necessarily flow. I start every writing class I teach with this exercise; it’s called a free write. My students (and I) find it a great way to clear out the cobwebs before we move on to other writing tasks. It’s also a phenomenal way to tap into that authentic voice and let it be heard on the page.

After about a page of these random thoughts, I ended up writing this: One day I will look back and think, wow, this is not the important stuff.

The Question To Ask When Wanting To Live An Authentic Life

And no, it wasn’t. I hadn’t intended on writing out anything ‘important’ but clearly, there was a part of me that wanted to. So, I penned: What is important to me? And I wrote down the first thing that came to mind. And then I asked: What else is important to me? And I wrote down the words that described the image I saw in my mind. I continued asking myself, on paper, “What else is important to me?” and each time I saw something pop up, effortlessly, in my mind. I did this 13 times before I drew a blank and felt like I was searching. I decided to quit then because I didn’t want to force anything. Those 13 responses came so easily and felt so right; thinking too hard might have changed the whole experience.

Once I identified the important-to-me things, my values shone through loud and clear: connecting regularly with family and friends, connecting regularly with my faith and Nature, the arts, creating travel opportunities for myself and my family, inspiring others to think about their legacy and their authentic life, and self-care. When I look at these values, it’s easy to see where I need to place my energy and where I can probably take some back. That’s vital; we have a certain amount of energy that we can expend in a given day. Knowing what’s important makes it easier to say ‘no’ to things that aren’t.

authentic life, live your authentic life, living your authentic life, taslim jaffer writer, jamie dunlop khau

I wanted to share this with you so you could give it a try. If it’s not through writing then maybe it’s something else that gets you in the zone. Running? Hiking? Deep breathing with your eyes closed? What clears your mind enough to let that authentic voice be heard?

According to palliative nurse Bronnie Ware, one of the top 5 regrets of the dying is not living a life true to oneself. Answering this question – what is important to me? – might help circumvent that. Or at least, it’s a solid first step.

What is important to you?

I’d love to hear in the comments, if you’re willing to share, 1 or 2 things that are important to you.

taslim jaffer writer

 

Behind My Rebrand – And Moving Forward

For 6 years I wrote under a beautiful butterfly and a bold demand: Let ME Out!! I started this blog as a mom of 2 – a preschooler and a toddler – when I desperately needed to dive into my creativity and find myself. I asked you to come along with me for the ride, and you did. And now here I am. I’m out! It’s time to stretch my wings under a rebrand.

I’m Taslim Jaffer. Welcome to my new site.

I’ve known a rebrand was coming for the last couple years. That fact hit home every time I’d be at a blogger event and someone would say, “Oh heyyyyy! You’re Let ME Out!!” while squinting at me as though trying to find my avatar in who stood before them. Mmmm…yes. At one time, I was. But there’s a lot more to who I am and to my work now, and I finally have a space to share all of that with you.

My friend Raj, from Pink Chai Media, was an enormous part of this transition. As exciting as a rebrand is, there are many technical and design elements, and big-picture thinking required that can be exhausting to figure out. She made the process smooth and fun with her savviness and passion for helping entrepreneurs put their best out there. And through it all, she helped me see myself in a different light. The photographer on her team, Aziz, was just as excited for my changes and supported me with his talent in visuals and photography. Thanks, team Pink Chai!

I’m ready to discover the world as the woman I am now: entering my 40s, focused on my professional and personal goals, a lover of the arts, wanderlust and a mom of school-aged kids.

taslim jaffer, taslim jaffer writer, rebrand, rebranding my site, pink chai media
Image credit: Jamie Khau www.stylingtheinside.com

And this is where I’d like to share all that with you. I’ll also keep you in the loop about my recent writings that are published outside this blog. And for editors and publishers, I’ve created a portfolio of work that I will keep updated. As I rediscovered my love of writing through blogging, I also became passionate about teaching others how to write their own stories. This is a fun part of my work week! My current community and rehabilitative writing classes will be posted on this site, too.

From Then To Now

Six years ago when I started blogging, I had my preschooler and my toddler underfoot. I was writing in little bits and spurts, and was just growing into the identity of ‘writer’ while working as a speech therapist. Now I have 3 kids who are busy at school all day. Writing is my full-time career and my love. It’s how I earn an income but also how I know who I am, how I discover the world, how I share that world, how I speak up about what matters. Though I am comfortable with my identity now as a writer, I also love that it stretches me. I hope to never reach a point where I say, “I’ve written it all.”

To my Let ME Out!! readers, thank you. I truly hope you benefited from the blog posts and the personal development workbooks. You’re my crew who will especially love my new section called Inspired Living. And to anyone who’s stopping here for the first time, I hope we can get to know each other better.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments! Are you a reader from the Let ME Out!! days? Or did you just stumble here today for the first time?

 

 

Rekindling My Spark

There’s a pull I cannot ignore. It’s strong and also familiar. And if I had to give it a voice it would match my mom’s firm one with a sense of urgency. Like when she would give me her advice when she thought I might be headed in the wrong direction. Wanting to get through to me so badly that there was almost a hint of panic. I don’t feel panicked or fearful when I sense this message; I’m whole-heartedly jumping into it because I know the enormous potential it holds for me to live, truly live, a life that leaves me smiling in the end.

I first heard it on a dance floor and since then I’ve been holding onto it like a precious gem.

On a dance floor with my love looking at me that way, with the music that I love pouring into my soul, I was called to live a life of intentional FUN.

I haven’t been denying myself fun, necessarily, and I can’t say there is a lack of it in the grand scheme of things. I have many moments of laughter, friendship, and connection, and I love the business I am creating as a writer. But there are certain things that I have a special personal relationship with that I don’t indulge in. Like, if I were to strip away all the roles I play: mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend…and just be Taslim…there are some things that are just my jam that don’t get much attention.

So, this year, I’m changing the focus a little, and I’d like to let you in on the ride. I used to have a blog called The Finer Things in Life (formerly called The Artist’s Review). It didn’t last long because I had a hard time keeping up with 3 blogs, but I’d like to revive it in some form right here on Let ME Out!! The Finer Things was essentially a place where I reviewed books, artist events, and dining experiences, and I really can’t see why those thoughts couldn’t be shared here – a space where I encourage you to live creatively and authentically. I may have to do a little housekeeping around here, rearrange some furniture so to speak, so that you can find what you’d like to read more easily. I’m really excited to rekindle my spark with my Self – my true Self – and though it may push me out of my comfort zone slightly, I hope that by sharing that part of me with you, I inspire you to look inward to who you truly are, and let her out to play a little more.

I’ll be posting here but also on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook so if we’re not already hanging out on those channels, please say ‘hi’ there! I’ll be using #TaslimsYearofFun to tag the big and little things that I will be infusing fun into. I think that just by intentionally focusing on this 3-letter word, I’ll find it in more places than I dreamed of.

Do you have a word of the year? I’d love to hear it! Leave it in the comments – and I wish you all the best with your intentions for the year, and excellent health to carry them out.

Happy New Year!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

Making Space For Fun

I like the serious things. I like deep conversations. I watch a good TED talk with relish and feel inspired by people who are tackling social issues. I think life is too important to waste on the superficial. All. The. Time.

But life is also too short to let it slip away without having a tonne of fun, too. I’ve seen firsthand what happens when you lose your health and can no longer do the things you love. The things you might have done on occasion because it was fun but couldn’t always fit into your busy schedule or ‘important’ work. I’ve seen that, and it scares me to think that one day I could lose the ability to dance or play the piano or get dressed up or eat a (ridiculously large) slice of decadent cheesecake.

I don’t want to forget to have fun.

There’s a part of me that’s been whispering this to me for a little while now, especially since I launched Her Story with my friend Karen. I’ll tell you more about Her Story in another post, but suffice it to say it is a platform that deals with some pretty heavy topics. And I’m thrilled about it! But ever since it launched, actually even before that when Karen and I exchanged ideas and this thing started to grow, a little voice inside me kept reminding me to keep things as light as I possibly could, where I could.

About a week before Her Story made its debut on social media, I remembered what it was like to let that fun-loving young woman come out and hit the dance floor. My husband and I were at our school’s Fall Social – a fundraiser for the kids but a party for the adults! The company was awesome – we’re lucky to be surrounded by some great couples where we live and around the school – the food was delicious (there was this cheesecake that cameo’d in the second paragraph above), and the MUSIC…oh my GOD, when was the last time I danced from the first song till the last? Danced and sang at the top of my lungs. And it wasn’t that I forgot about the parts of me that are serious and steady, it was that I remembered that I am so much more than that. I am multi-dimensional and I love that.

And I bet you are, too.

But we tend to lose track of the part of us that’s silly or fun because we’re busy managing schedules and coordinating life. Maybe we’ve become more like tag-team partners in a wrestling ring of chores and children than dance partners with our spouses. But that night I remembered what it was like when my husband and I went dancing before we had kids. And I remembered that thrill of catching him looking at me like I was this extraordinary being that amused and awed him. (It’s a great look).

There has GOT to be more dancing (outside of my kitchen) in 2017, I can tell you that much.

Around the same time, I was introduced to a line of safer skincare and makeup products. I’m not normally someone who wears makeup. Not because I don’t like it but because I’m conscious of what I put on my skin (I’ll eat the ridiculously large slice of decadent cheesecake but keep the chemicals in a blush off my face, thanks). Along came this line that not only bans 1500 known toxins that are otherwise found in traditional brands, but it actually looks good! I’m impressed with the quality of the products and the colour choices. I’ve started stocking up and wearing colour on my face again. And you know what? It’s fun! My lips are stained plum right now just to write this to you from my home, and it just feels nice. I love the products and the mission behind Beautycounter and I’m officially a consultant now! So, here I am: Writer, Social Change Ambassador & Advocate for Safer Beauty. (Or: Writer, Social Change Ambassador & Girl Wearing Makeup At Home).

Last year at this time I chose a guiding word for 2016: Shine. Today I’m choosing my word for 2017 and it is FUN.

What are you making space for in the new year? Or today? I’d love to hear in the comments!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

Why I Never Want To ‘Make It’ In My Vocation

What does ‘making it’ mean in terms of my vocation? The Pulitzer Prize? The Nobel Peace Prize? Is there any kind of prize that will make me feel like I did it? Like I changed some part of the world and then wrote about it?

Imagine if there was. Imagine I could get to a point where I could say, ok, I have reached my full potential here in this area of social change and the arts. I’ve taught my quota of students, reached X number of hearts, made a difference in the lives of X number of people.

What then?

Oh my goodness, no. Please don’t let me make it there. Don’t let me make it to a point where I sit around and ask myself, now what? Please let there always be another opportunity to serve, another story to write, another idea to develop, another creative person to collaborate with on something I never dreamed up for myself. Please don’t let me make it to the top where I would sit idle, wasting precious time and precious life.

This is not something I can retire from. Every stage in my life will, God willing, give me more to say, more to reflect on, more to dream about. And I hope give me more to offer others.

I never want to ‘make it’ in my vocation. I just want to live it each day, live as authentically and creatively as I can. With as much courage and conviction as I can muster, and more.

I hope I have decades and decades and decades to do this work. And I know that at the end of that there will still be more to be done. Thankfully, there is enough Inspiration to go around and the work will continue. Stories will still be told. Bridges will still be built. And ideas will never stop presenting themselves to us.

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

 

 

Answering Questions About Fear & Talking About Gabby Bernstein #TheUniverseHasYourBack

Does it feel like sometimes you’re just chasing life instead of actually living it? Like your fears are blocking you from what you long for most? It’s something all of us are familiar with and it doesn’t have to be that way.

In Gabby’s new book, The Universe Has Your Back, she guides readers through stories and lessons to release the blocks to what they long for most: happiness, security and clear direction. She teaches you how to transform your fear into faith in order to live a divinely guided life.

To celebrate and share her remarkable new book, my friend Kate Muker (founder of Conscious Divas) is hosting Gabby Bernstein for a truly spectacular night of connection, clarity, and guidance. Gabby will be giving her new talk How to Transform Fear into Faith and Know the Universe Has Your Back.

If you want to unleash the presence of your power and learn how to cultivate happiness, security and clear direction you need to attend #TheUniverseHasYourBack event this October.

I’m proud to be an ambassador for this event, as I was when Gabby was in town last year, because it completely aligns with the journey I have been on over the past few years. I’m still travelling this road, and I invite you to read my responses to Kate’s questions so that you can understand my path a little better.

Describe a time in your life when you felt totally safe, serene and clear. What happened to get you to that place?

For me to feel totally safe, serene and clear I have to be in touch with my authentic Self. I have to be making decisions based on what is important for me and my family, and I have to shut out the ‘noise.’ I get to that place through journalling. When I write to myself from my Self, I am speaking my truth, and nothing makes me feel more ‘on purpose’ than when I am sitting with that wise part of me. I’m checking in, I’m listening, I’m writing down what’s going on in my head so I can make space to hear what’s happening in my heart.

How did it feel once you got there?

Those moments don’t last forever, those feelings of being totally ‘on purpose’ and clear. So it’s hard to say that I’m ‘there’…unless we can be ‘there’ then slip a little and then go back. I know that it’s easier now to find my footing when I do slip because I have my tools. But those moments of clarity are exciting! I feel alive and totally jazzed about what I’m doing. Whether it’s professionally or personally, when I’m clear on what I’m doing, I feel completely blessed.

How important is having clarity to you?

I’m the kind of person who thinks life should have a point. There’s gotta be a reason why we’re here, an individual purpose, a reason why we meet the people we do. There’s gotta be something we thought was so important we had to contribute to this world that we traded in a blissful existence for one that is totally up and down. Being clear on what that purpose is is important to me because I don’t want to waste this opportunity to do what my soul wants.

Has fear ever held you back from going after something you really wanted?

Absolutely. It still does. Sometimes it’s fear of failure, but often it’s fear of taking time for myself and my dreams. It’s the fear that doing that will create chaos in my family or weaken the bond I have with my kids and husband. Fear comes in many forms and whispers many things in my head, and I’m pretty sure they’re a bunch of non-truths. But fear can feel just as real as anything standing right in front of me.

Did you ever overcome this fear? How did you do it?

I haven’t completely overcome this fear. I don’t know if I ever will. But what I am getting better at doing is moving forward anyway. In the past year, especially, I have met or become better acquainted with other women who will not let me shrink in the face of fear. This community of women who are also pushing through their own fears to do what lights up their souls has energized me into committing to the things that are outside of my comfort zone, but so very important to my work. On a personal level, I have also ‘fallen in love’ with myself in a way. I really, really like who I am. What I stand for. How I live my life. And that has helped me shut out the noise of what others are doing or saying or even who they’re hanging out with. I guess ‘how I did it’ is simply by connecting more with who I really am, and connecting with like-minded women.

When in your life do you feel you’re in flowstate?

I feel like I’m in flowstate when I’m writing about something that really matters to me or when I’m speaking on stage about the same kinds of things. When I’m doing, when I’m creating…that’s when I’m in flowstate.

Describe the feeling of being in this flowstate?

The best way I can describe it is to say that I feel like I’m ‘on purpose.’ It’s the contentment of knowing that I did something worth doing, even if it took a little guts, even if it puts me out there. It’s a kind of bucket-listy feeling – when I look to the future and picture myself 90-something years old in my bed, I can say, yes, I spoke up about that. I did my best.

What does it take for you to get there?

I guess just that image of myself, old and ready to move on. That always motivates me to choose to go for it, to speak up, to start something, to be part of the revolution. To do something my kids can be proud of and perhaps even carry on.

Tell us what it means to you to surrender?

So, my name actually means ‘to surrender’ or ‘to submit’ to the will of God. I used to think that was kind of weak. I mean, don’t fallen armies surrender to their enemy? But then, as I’ve grown up and grown into who I am, I realized that it takes a lot of courage and faith to surrender. And that when I do, I feel some relief. Surrendering means I have no idea what my life is going to look like next year. I can set goals and plan things. But I have to take my blinders off and grab opportunities that I didn’t know would come to me. And I have to also let go of the things I thought I should be doing, and be ok with that, knowing there is a reason for it. I’ve had to learn a lot about surrendering in motherhood. Talk about losing control! But on the flipside, it’s also about giving up some of that burden of needing to have it all together and know everything.

Describe a time in your life where you felt like the Universe had your back.

Oh my gosh, so many times. I’m lucky to have grown up in a home where we always talked about ‘everything happens for a reason’ and ‘let God do what’s best.’ Because of that I have always been aware of synchronicity and things working out perfectly even through moments of crises and pain. Somehow, I have always been able to look back and think, I’m so glad that happened when it did. I have a tight relationship with the Universe through my journaling and I will ask for things. I think that makes me hyper-aware of noticing when my requests are accommodated.

Share your experience of Gabby and/or her work and how it’s personally touched you.

I saw Gabby last year in Vancouver and just loved her speaking style. So down-to-earth and real. She didn’t sugar-coat anything about what she’d been through, and she made us laugh through it all. What I most remember is her talking about forgiveness. I feel like forgiving people is like my side business 🙂 There was a particular time in my life when I had to forgive a whole slew of people and it was during a time that was already difficult. And still, situations crop up when the feelings ignite themselves again, but recalling what Gabby said about forgiveness I am able to keep moving forward with this. I was touched by how willing she was to talk about the things people may judge her for. She is a true inspiration and a wonderful speaker.

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

Reflections On My 5 Year Blogiversary

Five years ago today, I published my first blog post on what used to be called Let ME Out!! Releasing Your Creative Self. I’ve since shortened the name to Let ME Out!! although most people say to me, “Oh, right! You’re from Let ME Out Creative.” Sometimes I correct them and sometimes I don’t because a) how flattering is it that they even know my blog! and b) letmeout.com was taken so I had to come up with something else. I threw in the word ‘creative’ because that’s a huge part of my brand. Thus, letmeoutcreative.com was born and so, officially, was my journey as a public writer. A writer with a confusing blog name. But a writer, nonetheless.

The support of my readers, and my hot fiery love affair with words have kept me going through the ups and downs of life. There were times I had to step away from my blog or reduce the time I spent here because of Life Stuff, but when I came back I was always welcomed by ‘the page’ and my readers.

Writing started off as my private safety net when I just wrote in a journal, a place I’d land when nowhere else felt comfortable or inviting. When I moved my words onto a public blog, I vowed to maintain my authenticity and vulnerability, and that feat alone has been worth the experience. Writing ‘out loud’ meant choosing my words for an audience, and looking back on the last five years, I learned that choosing ‘real’ sometimes meant choosing ‘scary’ but ALWAYS meant choosing right. If I can say one thing to novice or experienced bloggers, I’d say keep it real. It’s valued by your readers and at the end of the day, no matter what people think about you or your blog, you’ll be able to live with it. You may crawl under your covers in a fetal position to ward off the trolls and their comments, but the next morning you’ll start fresh, and you’ll still be a ‘you’ you can love.

Let ME Out!! has been like the proverbial toe dip in the water. It allowed me to test out my voice in front of a large audience. Kind of like clearing my throat in a microphone while on stage in a darkened theatre. Once the words started flowing, they kept right on going and spilled over into other avenues as well. Meanwhile, I kept defining and redefining what the blog was about, how I could help others with their creative release and authentic-life-building. Eventually I came to the conclusion that this blog was hugely about me building my own authentic life, giving myself permission for my own creativity. It has helped me answer poet Mary Oliver’s all-important call, “Tell me, what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life.” Because as I’ve written here, I’ve unearthed and discovered those very things – the things I want to do with my time here. This blog has been a gift to me. I truly hope there has been even one time when this blog has also given you something precious.

As on any milestone, it’s important to look ahead. With the last few years being the foundation, my next will be about building and expanding, with your continued support. I promise to only bring you what aligns with the Let ME Out!! community’s values of authenticity, creativity and kindness through this growth.

I’m happy to say that I’ve been working like a little squirrel to secure sponsorships for the #LMOKindness program. This is where I proudly partner with businesses to bring random acts of kindness to deserving members of the community. It’s easy to nominate someone – simply fill out the form telling me why your friend/family member/colleague/etc deserves to be surprised with a little something to make his/her day! I look forward to helping businesses with their community giving intentions and spreading more kindness in this world.

I told myself I’d keep this short and sweet, and now I’m pushing those boundaries a bit, so I’ll sign off here with a huge THANK YOU for reading this and any of the other 456 blog posts. Thank you for ‘liking’ me and my work on Facebook, following me on Twitter and Instagram, and subscribing to get my blog posts straight to your email.

You are awesome.

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Love My To-Do List

To-Do List. Sounds daunting to most of us, and that’s because it’s a never-ending list. If we include work + family + personal care + household maintenance + social calendar…we’re just never caught up.

I have to say, though, that although I don’t have as many ‘checks’ as I’d like next to the scribbled points in my agenda (yes, I’m all paper and pen when it comes to these things), I’m quite enjoying my to-do list. I will not get everything done today that I had hoped (I actually wasn’t planning on blogging today, but couldn’t let this thought float away without pinning it down here), but what I will get done, and what I will transfer over to tomorrow or later this week, I’m lucky to have to do.

You won’t catch me dreading writing stories or my next column or the outline for my upcoming writing workshop. I won’t groan when I have to schedule social media posts or read articles in my genre.

Adding soil to my indoor plants…that doesn’t suck so much.

A quick tea with a friend followed by a walk with another friend. Yeah, that’s not rough either.

Of course my life also consists of changing diapers, listening to whining, refereeing 3 children, responding to their 3 separate ’emergencies’ at the same time, making decisions and other adult-y kinds of things.

But having ‘writing’ be a big part of my life, identifying as a writer and just openly being who I am has carried me through way more difficult times.

What’s on your to-do list that just feels amazing? What says ‘I’m being authentic?’ on your list of things to check off?

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

 

The Hamster Wheel

Sometimes life can feel like a hamster wheel. Definitely, the laundry feels like that. Miss one day, or two and the mountain of clothes to be washed or dried or folded comes crashing down. Then you have to jump back on and maintain that perfect rhythm again. Or else.

But life is more than laundry (no, really) and I think the hamster wheel can apply to anything. What I find interesting about this contraption is sometimes we forget that we actually have some control over the pace at which it spins. And we have some control over what – or who – we bring along for the ride.

My family likes to go down to the lake when we can – about once a month over the winter and more in the spring and summer. It’s our happy place. It’s relief and freedom for each of us. What I love most about our trips to the lake is the time and capacity to reflect; I am truly in awe of how easily the excess crap melts away, while the things that really matter rise to the surface.

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Every family works differently because the individuals that make it up have their own needs and interests. And each family as a unit has its own culture: values and goals that represent those individual needs plus something all-encompassing. It’s really important to be tuned-in to that culture and those values when you want to live an authentic life.

I’m sharing this because I hear moms talk about their worries about doing what’s best for their kids and their families. They look for answers in books or in other moms. Or they ignore those thoughts that creep up in those slivers of moments in between activity.

By all means, I think we can turn to whatever source of support we think we need – but I just want to remind you that the greatest expert on what your family needs is YOU.

Only you know what you want for your family. And most importantly, only you know WHY you want what you want for your family.

If your WHY is aligned with your values, then do what it takes to create that life for your people. If your WHY has anything to do with an outside influence, please go to a place where you feel relieved and free. An actual physical place outside of you, or some place quiet and deep inside of you. Ask yourself WHY in that place.

Why am I making these choices? Why do I want these things? Why is this a priority?

Everything else will fall into place. It’s a bumpy road for me, sometimes. We live in a culture of ‘do more’ but inside me, there is conflict in that. So regular check-ins help me figure out how to address that conflict.

I’m hoping this is helpful to you in your everyday decisions and in the big picture.

Let me know how you are handling the hamster wheel – are you dancing like the guy on the treadmill in that viral Facebook video? Or do you keep crashing and wondering what the heck is going on?

Thanks for reading!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative