Today I have a special guest with us – Live Lane, from Choosing Beauty.  Below, Liv shares a part of her blog journey, and how deeply good that has been for her.  As well, both Liv and I sat down recently to talk about this, and to discuss her upcoming "How To Build A Blog You Truly Love" e-course.

The story Liv shares below very much touches upon choosing beauty, and how we can all choose to see that in our daily lives.

For those of you who are bloggers, in the video Liv and I dig a bit more into her upcoming e-course, How To Build A Blog You Truly Love.  We both came into this video as video non-experts (yikes!) and there were a couple of technical difficulties which cut off the last few seconds of the video (in which Liv so graciously thanked me for our time) (and thank you, also, Liv!).


My Blog Transformed My Life


I know it sounds over-the-top, but it’s totally true: my blog transformed my life.
Before I tell you how, I need to rewind to the day my first son was born in early 2003. I had entered the hospital happy and excited, my usual chipper self. But several days later, I left the hospital a changed woman – sobbing all the way home. The birth experience had been horrible, with one complication after another. I was physically and emotionally exhausted by the time my baby arrived – blue and barely breathing, with his heart on the wrong side of his body and his lung collapsed. Miraculously, he recovered in the NICU and is now a healthy, high-energy eight-year-old. But as he got better, I got worse.
I cried a lot. I couldn’t sleep.  I became masterful at small talk because I couldn’t handle anything deeper. I hid my pain really well – at least for a while. My family eventually urged me to seek help in late 2005. I was diagnosed with depression and post traumatic stress disorder, both the result of “birth trauma” – something I’d never even heard of.  My therapist, Jeanne, promised me I could heal and that the darkness I was living in could be lifted. It seemed impossible. But I decided to believe her and jumped into my healing journey. I was willing to try anything: talk therapy, psychotherapy, medication, meditation, hypnosis, and more. Eventually, I began to see glimmers of light. Slowly but surely, I re-discovered the real me.

One day after a session with Jeanne, a brilliant rainbow arched over the intersection where I was sitting in my car. I looked at the drivers around me; they were all too busy putting on lipstick, talking on the phone or staring blankly at the stoplight to look up and notice the stunning rainbow overhead. I wondered in that moment how many other little miracles I’d missed by being too distracted or too depressed. I wanted to take a picture of the rainbow, just to show others what I’d seen {remember, our cell phones didn’t have cameras back then!}.

My birthday was only days away and I decided it was the perfect time to initiate a personal exercise: take a picture of something beautiful each day for a year and write about it. I suspected it could contribute to my healing and created a very basic blog – a type of web site I’d only just learned about.  I called it One Year of Beauty.

Within weeks of starting, I was hearing from readers around the world who were inspired to find beauty in their everyday lives, too. They kept me accountable; had it not been for those early readers cheering me on, I probably would have quit on the days it felt impossible to find beauty. In the end, those turned out to be the most transformational days. Finding something good on a “bad” day was a rush. I was so glad I’d chosen to write something about each photo I posted because it forced me to really reflect and practice gratitude. What was so beautiful about a fallen leaf? Why did the sight of my child’s paint-covered hands make my heart skip a beat? How did I feel standing under a bright blue sky?

Over time, one beauty sighting a day multiplied into many. Though I continued to feature just one on the blog each day, I began to notice beauty everywhere I went – even in the midst of chaos. My therapist was floored by the changes in me. I would waltz into Jeanne’s office more eager to tell her about all the good things around me than the fear or sadness that occasionally {instead of always} reared its ugly head. During that first year of blogging, my search for everyday beauty – and the ability to post it for the world to see – gave me comfort, hope and a new perspective.  And the support I received from readers was the fuel that kept me going.
I’m fast approaching the fifth anniversary of my blog. It’s now called Choosing Beauty because I believe we each make a daily choice – whether conscious or not – to see or shun the beauty in our lives. It is there, waiting to be noticed, eager to inspire us and ready to comfort us. I learned this from my blog and it changed my life for good.

About Liv Lane

How To Build A Blog You Truly Love is a soul-stirring, blog-boosting e-course for anyone who longs to feel more inspired, excited and rewarded by their adventures in blogging. Led by inspirational speaker, radio personality and veteran blogger Liv Lane of Choosing Beauty, you'll be lovingly guided through an innovative process of self-reflection and in-depth learning. Over the six-week course, you'll develop your own unique blogging blueprint – designed to help you achieve sweet success and deep fulfillment for years to come. Plus, gain exclusive access to Liv's interviews with more than a dozen superstar bloggers on how they're rocking the blogosphere and livin' the dream.
Special: Sign up here for 20% off this six-week course (starting June 5th).  I'll be at this course both as a participant and a contributor!

Why Do You Ride?

by Lance Ekum on May 20, 2011 · 62 comments

Note:  If you're having trouble viewing the video, click here.


Why do you ride?

"The best way to predict your future is to create it." ~ Peter Drucker

On a recent trip, I attended a conference in California.  While the conference was amazing, what really added to that experience was really feeling a connection with the people in attendance.  Today I have one of these wonderful souls here at the Jungle, sharing a bit of her story.  Liz Nonnemacher is the founder and creative genius behind the very popular Wickedly Chic, a site dedicated to helping small business owners get the word out on their products and services.

Please read along, as Liz shares a more in depth look at who she is and what she has created.

1.  Tell us a little bit about who “you” are (family, career, any special life experiences you’d like to share, etc.)
I’m Liz Nonnemacher and I have a full life. It might be a little bit too full at times but that’s okay. I have a husband, two daughters, two stepsons, two golden retrievers. We currently live in the Chicago suburbs and we are planning a move to sunny Florida this summer when my youngest daughter graduates from high school. Enough is enough with the long winters. This will be the 5th (and warmest state) that I have lived in.

Lance's Commentary:  Liz, what's the deal here???  You know…I'm your neighbor to the north…and here you go ditching me!!  (hmmm…as I look outside at a cool, rainy morning…) How about this?  Since you're going to Florida, I expect I'll now have a tour guide when I come down there! 

2.  I love the concept behind your site, Wickedly Chic, and how it creates a space for budding entrepreneurs to share their wares. How long have you had this, and what led to creating it?
I started Wickedly Chic on a whim in May of 2006 (which means that “she” is just about to turn 5). Creating Wickedly Chic was not really something intentional or something that I wrote down and worked up a plan for. You know how there are some people who have to read all of the “rules” or make lists or can’t make decisions without consulting their list of whatever? I’m not one of those. Somewhere on the web (maybe Twitter), I read a quote about successful people having a very small gap between idea and action. That’s me.

Basically, I have always loved small businesses, felt that they needed more attention, someone suggested that I start a website and it’s really gone from there. When I started Wickedly Chic, I could do two things online. Place orders and use email. That’s it. I had no idea about anything technical or how to create and what to do. But my oldest daughter was going off to college and I thought this would be a nice little hobby since I was a stay-at-home mom. Maybe I would even make a couple hundred dollars. Imagine that!

But I found that I enjoyed working on Wickedly Chic so much and it gained attention quickly that I went with it and have built it into a full-time endeavor with a team as of today.

Lance's Commentary: Happy 5 Year Birthday Wickedly Chic!!  And that's what is really so great about this thing we call the Internet – if someone has an idea, they can go out there and do it – and the web makes it that much more possible!  Liz, you are a gift for small business, giving them one more way to reach out and share their products – and that is awesome!!

3.  You arrive home, and there happens to be a genie in a bottle awaiting your arrival (stranger things have happened!!).  You are granted one wish.  What do you choose, and why?
Health and happiness for myself and my family…always. That’s the first thing that comes to mind. It’s so basic but often we don’t give much thought to the things that really matter.

Lance's Commentary:  Our health and happiness, these are both things that are so easy to just take for granted, until one (or both) are taken from us.  I love this…

4.  Tell us one unexpected thing that has happened to you in the last year.
I seem to be creating a lot of my own “unexpected” lately. For example, meeting Lance. I wasn’t planning on going out to California for the event but at the last minute, I knew I needed to be there.  I just find myself doing more and being part of more endeavors that I never imagined I would be.

I’ve also found that Wickedly Chic has given “birth” so to speak to a number of new things that I didn’t know would happen during the past year. Wickedly Social was born within the last month as a most fabulous way for businesses to get the word out about their products and events…via me.

Lance's Commentary:  I wasn't planning to go out to California, either!  It was a last minute decision – and I'm so glad I did!!  What a great conference!  And what's the deal with this picture you sent me (note – Liz is not in this photo…she was sitting back enjoying the *ahem* "entertaintment")???  What was I thinking, anyway, "trying" to dance??  (ummm….thanks Liz, for passing this on).  By the way, I've kind of committed to going back again next year (it was sooo much fun!), so I'll expect to see you there!

That's a great point though – about listening to the voice inside (and knowing what's needed for you).  It's all too easy to let this voice sit on the back burner – and look what we miss when we do.

Social media is really becoming an important strategy for reaching out and connecting with others – so very awesome that you're helping people reach an even greater audience!

5.  If you had to pick one thing as your greatest achievement, what would it be (and why)?
Oh, the kids. I have two daughters (22 and 17) and while they drive me crazy on occasion (as I am sure that I do to them also), they are really wonderful and caring girls. I have a plaque in my house that says “It’s Nice to Be Important But It’s More Important to Be Nice.” The girls seem to have followed that.

Lance's Commentary:  Our kids most definitely provide that two-way "crazy" (I know!!).  And yet, behind all of that, what a gift…life that we've nurtured in this world. 

6.  A fun day for you – tell me what that might consist of.
Well, I love to travel and I’m quite happy when I am doing so. But in ordinary life, it’s probably as simple as just meandering around with no plan at all and checking out places that I have never been. On second thought, I like having no plan at all when I travel. I’m also perfectly content laying in bed all day with a book.

Lance's Commentary:  Those days of just wandering, they really can be some of the most meaningful – getting off the beaten path, and just being in the moment (whatever that brings).

7.  Deep-down, Liz, what makes you, “you”?
Off of the top of my head, I feel that the biggest thing that defines me is that I truly believe in serving others when I can. It doesn’t mean that I don’t take care of myself but I will help someone in need without thinking about it or thinking if there is anything in it for me.

I’m also very quirky, a bit “off” and a lot of fun. And I love to read. It gives me a lot of knowledge and I am always surprising myself and others by how much I know.

Lance's Commentary:  Liz, I could realllly use some help with…. (ha!!).  When we serve others, it shows we really care.  That's something that shines through so brightly with you!  Mix that with quirky fun…and life is pretty darn grand!!

Closing Thoughts:  Liz, thank you for being here and for sharing "you".  As I learn more about your journey, I'm drawn into what is possible when we just go out there and do it!  You have, and you've created something very special in the process.  

And next time we meet up (January, yes??) I'm buying lunch for you…not only will it be great to catch up, I'll also find out what kind of crazy pictures you're stashing away that I don't know about!  Liz, this has been so much fun having you here, and I look forward to knowing you even better.

You can keep up with Liz, and Wickedly Chic by following her on Twitter and Facebook

Have a Heart Desaturated Free Creative Commons
Creative Commons License photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography

"You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection." ~ Buddha

This thing called love…

The month is September.  A sunny afternoon brings the desire to get out and explore.  Just a short drive and I'll be there.

We're getting ahead of ourselves, though.  Let's take a step back.

The day, I'm not sure.  There were many.  Let's say it is a mid-morning in June.  I'm hanging out in the sandbox, loading up a dumptruck with sand and dirt.  The grass, the trees, the plants…they are growing around me.  I don't notice.  The sand has my attention. 

I'm maybe eight years old.

Fast forward back to September. 

The sky is big, the shadows from the mountains an instant reminder of the vastness and grandeur of this land.  I start out along the "safe" routes.  Traveling down the highway, stopping at well-marked and easily accessible landmarks.  The tree lines, the waterfalls, the mountain peaks – views that are incredible to take in.

(am I really taking them in?)

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

~ Robert Frost

Traveling along, I turn onto a much less traveled road.  The views more obscured and fewer places of "interest" has made this road less traveled.  I drive, wondering at what point I should abort this route and turn back.  Something (that little voice within) says "go a little further".  I happen upon a parking lot tucked back off the road.  Maybe two other cars are here, and it seems so quiet, so still, so peaceful.  A small pond is the playground for a couple of ducks.  A man is fishing nearby, and a mother and daughter are returning from a walk near the pond.  Another trail leads up into the deeper parts of the forest.

…the deeper parts of the forest…the deeper parts of me…

The crunching of leaves as I walk along this trail, that's all I hear.  When I stop, silence.  I wander, deeper into this part of the forest, none of it known to me, and all of it known to me.

I wander into a clearing, and the path and direction become not so clear.  I wander, not knowing I'm wandering off the trail.  Soon enough, it's clear I've found my way off anything resembling a trail.  There's a hill, and a stream down below.  The flowing water draws my attention, and I make my way toward it.  The carcass of some animal is near the stream.  The mountains surrounding me are no longer visible in the denseness of where I'm at.  Footsteps along the stream, as I feel really at peace being here.

…and then I stop.

My gaze turns back, back to that small hill which brought me the stream.  It's still there, except, it is different. Where was that rock I climbed over?  Wasn't there something that looked like a path, leading down to where I am?  None of that is here.

…and the sun is setting as a coolness begins to fill the air.

My heart begins to race a bit, as the thought of "lost" floats through my head.  Quickly and without much thought, I begin to travel back up that hill, looking for something familiar, something reassuring. 

Back to that sandbox for a moment. 

Everything around me, I know it's there – the grass, the trees, the plants.  I know, and I don't notice.

And to that forest deep within…

Today I'm keenly aware of the trees, the plants, the rocks.  I notice my footsteps..does anything look like what I saw just ten minutes earlier?  A sound…what was that?

And as quickly as it began, this feeling of unsassuredness…it passes.  A familiar sight, this big group of boulders, and the trail right around the corner.

Back to the Sandbox

That sandbox, it is like me.  There is love in that old box (or tire, as was the case for me).  What was outside, it was amazing and incredible.  When I was in that sandbox, though, I was focused on being in that sandbox.   I didn't really think about it – at eight years old it was just a sandbox.  (and so much more)  See, I think that intrinsically, we are love.  And at eight years old, while I didn't define it as such, I loved life…and that was something that started within.  Love the sandbox….love the world around me.  Love me…love the world around me.

And That September Day

That September day.  Just me, far from home and all alone.  Does love for self ever feel like that?  Has the love I feel for myself ever felt like that?

I'm reminded of a time a few years back – a time where love for me wasn't really present.  And with my own personal love (real, genuine love) not present, my outside view of the world (both near and far) was much more jaded, much more "seeing the negative", much less openly loving.

Like this visit to the mountain, love…it's like that.  There's this path, that is much like the surface of who we are.  Facial expressions.  Appearance.  Friendships.  Family.  Etc. Etc.  There's also a deeper part of us, too – that getting off of the path.  And these places "off the path", the inner part of who we are – they can maybe seem unknown, scary, unloved, ignored, new, exciting, off the wall, etc, etc. 

Do you play it safe, and stay on the trails, the trails of you?  It's so nice, this path that's known, comfortable, familiar.  Except, are you missing out on something even greater – are you missing out on connecting fully with who you are and the real that comes from knowing you, seeing you, loving you?

…and I wander off the trail, the nicely marked trail called "my life"…

And I find these amazing things that are me.  (and maybe some things I don't really like all that well, too…the messy part)

That is me, though – all of these parts, and it's so much more than the clearly marked trail (the image we present to the outer world).

Self Love Is

…connecting with who I am

…the imperfect me, formed in perfection

…the nooks and crannies that are part of me, the things that no one sees and only I know

…the dark corners

…and the light

…is like a sandbox and veering off the trail

…starting within and going out

Here's How It Works For Me

When I choose to love me – the whole me – for who I am, it's a selfless love.  It's a selfless love as I'm connecting with me on a deeper and more personal level.  And when I do, I love the world around me more fully, more genuinely…

How about you?  When you choose to get off the clearly marked trail of "you", what do you see?  And do you love what you are being?


…is beautiful…

Enjoyed reading my story of self-love?  Well, there’s more! You can also read the rest of the stories written by online personal development bloggers in a Self Love Stories Report. Evelyn Lim started the ball rolling by sharing her story in the post Self Love Story: Lessons from the Heart She had written it in response to an intuitive call to create greater Self Love Awareness.  Evelyn and I are compiling this report together, and it will be available as a free download soon!

Crash and Learn

by Lance Ekum

photo credit: Kyle May “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.” ~ Chinese Proverb Our Best Learning When do you learn something in the best, most effective manner?  When you are doing that something, right!  Even more specifically, when you’re doing something and it does not […]

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