Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Elevator Speech

In my quest to master social media - and build my author platform - I'm told that I must blog to my key words and keep my posts to about 500 words. But I have trouble with boundaries, and formulas, and being told what to do.

You Can't Make Me

The minute I get started talking about one thing, some idea butterfly zips by, leading me way off the path - and by path, I mean - the step-by-step journey from here to making that boatload of money I talked about in my last post.

I like the parts of the world that are off the path, too. Often, I like them better than the path - and I really don't want to give them up. Cuz I suspect that maybe, down under all the posturing and mask-making and branding, my authentic path is... you know, off the path.

But I digress

As usual. Which, come to think of it, could be one of my key words: I digress.

This polymorphous* quality makes for a fascinating and unpredictable journey. It also makes it near impossible to brand myself. And by brand myself I mean, to come up with one concise "elevator speech" to deliver if I should ever be asked (in an elevator?), "So, what do you do anyway?" or, asked, at a party, "Tell me about yourself?"

You know, a little speech I could deliver when my brother in law asks (again): How's the book coming along?

... instead of biting him

It should start with: "Thanks for asking," and end with, "You?" Which seems simple enough but every Thursday night at the top of our radio show when my co-host says, "I'm Janet and I'm an Angel Therapist and an Integrated Energy Therapist. And this is my co-host, Amy," I go...

hummana hummana hummana.

Which is, I think, another key word.

It happens when I meet someone important, when Im writing a resume; when I'm handed a 12 page diner menu; when Im asked to select a college major, winter coat or ice cream flavor.

Because I know who I am - a person who kinda likes everything - and every time I try a brand on for size, this little voice whispers: You are SO much more than that.

I am so much more than that

My friend Jill and I tossed the question around at the writing cafe the other day. She didn't like the title I've been using: Story Alchemist "It's too hard-edged. Too mental," she said. "You are softer, graceful, very maternal and welcoming." (Which my own Spiritual Advisor also told me, though she put it this way: You are like one of those African earth mother goddesses - a great big lap."

Which did wonders for that body image issue I had.

Jill suggested Soul Whisperer, which when I looked it up, really fit what I do as a counselor... but it leaves out what I do as a writer and community organizer.

A Twitter friend, @RayBeckerman once suggested: YOU are your brand.

And that worked for me.

It's very flexible - stretching like a Force Flex bag to accomodate all that I am - counselor, earth mother, wife, raw foodie, daughter, high priestess, friend, employee, big shot editor, soccer mom, entrepreneur, dancer, blogger, teacher, author, book reviewer, yogini, (not much of a) housekeeper, friend to the angels and, according to my husband, a heckuva good kisser.

And though I keep thinking I need some fancy name like: Lion Tamer or Cosmic Belly Dancer or Queen of Plants, the simple brand Amy Oscar, kinda works.

So, if you happen to encounter me in an elevator this week, be sure to ask, "Who are you? What do you do? Tell me about yourself."
And when you do, if I remember to, I will say, "Thanks for asking. I'm Amy Oscar." I will tell you about my work and my dreams. And then I will ask, "You?"

* pol·y·mor·phous [pol-ee-mawr-fuhs] adjective: having, assuming, or passing through many or various forms, stages, or the like.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Real Money

When we lived in Peekskill, I would take my son Max out in his stroller. We'd walk to the deli on the corner where I'd order a scrambled egg and cheese on a roll which we'd share outside. I'd sit Max on the metal chest where the deli owner stored big plastic sacks of ice. I'd stand, leaning against the wall. We'd watch the trucks go by.

Max loved trucks.

Money was tight then and I often paid in nickels and pennies, counting out little stacks of coins while a line formed behind us. Until, one day, when Max was, oh, four or five, as I was counting out my coins on the counter, I felt a tug on my jacket. "Mommy,” Max said. “Don’t we have any real money?”

I'm reminded of this now, as I work with social media maven, Shelly Kramer, who is helping me build my new website. As we chatted about the things I want to do with the site - Help other writers, Teach self-publishing (when I've learned it myself), Offer a place for people to share their angel stories--Shelly had to remind me: "Wait", she asked. "Don't you want to make money with this?"

"Well, yes," I said. "I do."

Because money is still tight.

That's why I hired Shelly: To teach me the ins and outs of social media - to help me "build a platform" as an author and teacher. To launch what I call my "Second Blooming."

To make, you know, some real money.

Because, frankly, I want a boatload of money.
There I said it.

And then, right after I said it, I felt it: The inner ping that reminds me that saying it is somehow... wrong. It's the ping of self-doubt that says: It's wrong to say that all of this work I do, every single day, is - besides being all about helping and empowering YOU - is also about ME, earning a living. ME, earning money. ME getting paid to do what I know that I do well, what I am called with every cell in my body to do.
But this PING - and the feeling that accompanies it, a combination of guilt and shame and shyness - is TOTALLY against the grain of what I teach, what I say, what I KNOW.

And so, right now, using the positive, proactive language they taught me in all those workshops and self-help books, here we go:

I welcome the real money that flows into my bank account

Ping... there it is again.

The money flows into my pockets and purse. It fills my wallet. People come to my website, click on a link and purchase my products, receiving them by email, instantly.

Ping... ping.

It's not that it surprises me. It's just that I really thought I'd rooted this garbage out.

But I haven't. Not yet. Slowly, in the time between my free-spending fully-employed. living in NYC single days and these two-kids-in- college, slow-economy years, I began to systematically deny myself everything

When my kids needed something:
* Summer Arts Program? Sure!
* Trip to Europe? By all means!
* New snowboard? Camera? Laptop? Ipod? Cell phone? How could I deny them?

But when longed to:
* Travel? Forget about it.
* Finish my education? Can't afford it.
* Visit my sister in California? Maybe next year.

New haircut? New outfit for that bar mitzvah, wedding, 50th birthday party? Sorry . Can't . Afford . It.

Seriously, I wore a green prom gown (which I found at the thrift store) to my friend's high-society wedding at a country club in Connecticut. In a sea of white linen and cream silk, I tried to make the best of it. But I'm offering cash to ANYONE who still has a photo of that disaster to destroy it. (THAT, I can afford.)
Oh, stop complaining, snaps the Snarky, Scary Voice in my head. What did you expect? You quit your job, leaving behind security and health insurance.

To which, I respond, with just a little bit of whining: But I'm writing every day - for hours!

SSV: And so what? Shouldn't you be finished with at least ONE small book by now?

Me: Well, yes. But what if no one likes my work. Even worse, what if they do and I am swamped with interviews and appearances and.... will I have to give up my freedom? And what will I wear on TV? And...

Cue the other, smaller voice: you're just frightened. Everyone hesitates, facing the unknown...

Me: Frightened? Why, I guess I am! What should I do?

SSV: Take my hand. Breathe. We'll do this one step at a time.

Me (a bit sniffly): Okay

SSV: Ready for that REAL money now?

Me: Gulp. Bring it on.

Note: As coincidence would have it, this seems to be the day for posts about money, real money, earning money in unique ways:

Here's a good one from Jonathan Fields blog: Awake at the Wheel entitled, Can you really make a serious living freelancing?


This dream is so precious that I am afraid to write it down.
I wait ten days. But I am afraid I will forget it so I talk about it. I roll it around inside of myself.

The dream has left me so profoundly changed that I can no longer find the line between what/who I was and what/who I have become. With one dream, I am severed from my former self like light from darkness, as all the inner work I’ve done has taken hold. I am transformed. A new day.

There are three MEs.
1) A frightened, worried self, indecisive, fraught, wringing her hands and frozen in place with indecision;
2) A confident, wide and loving presence-the higher self, wise, wide, welcoming
3) The observer, watching the other two.

The worried self is struggling to make a choice; the loving/confident self guides her, showing her, through words and actions, “I am always here. You can always call on my wisdom to guide you.” The third self, whom I will refer to as "I," watches as the loving/confident self presses up against the back of the worried self and holds her. Safely encircled in protection, the worried self sighs, easing back, trusting the confident self.

I wake up.

I know that I have witnessed a miracle - a soul integration, a healing.
I am absolutely certain it is real.

Since then, I have, with bafflement (is that a real word?) and awe, noticed these changes, and they keep coming:

I am no longer afraid to speak the truth.
I am no longer afraid to see the truth.
I am no longer afraid to BE the truth of who I really am.

I am no longer afraid.
More accurately, when fear comes toward me, I am not afraid of my fear.
I move, in spite of fear, toward revealing what is true is a situation — and then, moving onward, toward light.

I have seen and experienced that I am, essentially, pure light and kindness - at my deepest core, a good and loving person.

I see now that all of the lashing out that I've done (mostly at my husband and my mother) was about protecting my tender, unstruck heart from harm.
This cracks my heart open while, simultaneously, healing it. I forgive myself fully. I move on.
This healing happens instantly.

I no longer need to harm others to protect myself.
I no longer engage in pointless arguments with Matthew. I tell him the truth and honor his.
I laugh when he is funny. (So far, this is my favorite change - being able to see again, my husband's brilliance, his shining self, the bright boy I fell in love with all those years ago.)

At first, in the days immediately following the dream, I thought: It won't last. I kept checking my psyche for fissures, hairline cracks that would, I thought, eventually shatter the effect of whatever had happened to me - bringing me back to my former self.

It's been several months - and I've been through a great deal of turmoil, including the open heart surgery of my mother - and none of it has gone away.

These changes are permanent, solid, real. They have penetrated to the nuclei of my cells. Writing this, I know they are deeper than that - deeper than the mitochondria of the nuclei; deeper than the deepest caves of my heart.

This is what's available, I want to shout - almost all the time.
This is what can happen.
I knew it!

But since the dream, I am letting other people (you, for example) have their own experiences; I no longer need to control what they say, do, think or feel. I know that they (and you) will get where you need to get when you need to get there.

I trust the process.

Somehow, in my clutzy, imperfect way, I have healed something deep, profound and old; and the shift is healing my entire family. In a future post, I will write about this: How one person's shift affects everything and everyone around her.

For now, Here's what I'll say:

There is an aspect of me (and of you) that is beyond fear; an aspect so deep and wise and true that it is beyond all earthly concerns. Through the work I have been doing for the past few years, I've been guided, nudged and gently urged along the path of discovery until my path led me here, where I looked deep into the eyes of my own soul.

In that moment, I made contact with a core of ancient wisdom so pure that it changed everything.
I cannot go back.

Anything can change - and it can change instantly.
I am safe in the world. And so are you.
I AM the world. And so are you.
My life is entirely up to me. And so, bless your soul, is yours.

That was one heckuva dream.

If it feeds, seeds or succeeds, it leads

Challenge to the media:

For one day, one week, one month, I dare you to change your formula. The old one: If it bleeds it leads does nothing to uplift, to teach, to heal or encourage.

And its not even "the truth." I mean, sure there is darkness; but the truth is: There is also light.

I dare you to focus on the light.

I dare you to change the formula for one day, one week, one month to: It only leads if it feeds, seeds or succeeds.

You can still show your stories about people being crappy to each other - about terrorism, violence, car crashes, fires, and all the lurking bad guys we should be afraid of - just put them on later in the program. Put them on when we're getting that second cup of tea - you know, when we're out of the room.

I'm not saying it's your fault the world is in the shape it's in (though we could have a spirited discussion about just that). It’s not your fault – but it IS your responsibility. Knowing what we know about influence, about tribes, about pack mentality, about law of attraction… you need to step up and take action. You need to lead.

Love sells as well as hate; miracles sell as well as disasters.
You can shift the focus of our attention from tragedy, gun violence, death and destruction to building, growing, flourishing.

Come on, I dare you.