Setting The Stage For Summer Camp

BRACELETSThere’s nothing I like more than a woman who asks for what she wants!

And that’s how I met Lauren Caselli.

She sent me a cold email telling me that she noticed I kept talking about this camp I wanted to create, sometime in the future, when I had time and money and energy. She told me — point blank — Your Tribe needs this. It’s time to make this happen.

Let me help.

From the moment we started talking about her coming on board as the Event Manager (Mama Multitasker + Detail Woman Extraordinare) for Camp, I’ve felt heard. Supported. Validated. And taken care of in the best way possible.

And when you get to Camp? I know you’ll feel the same way.

I’m honored to introduce ya’ll to Mama M.  She’s going to take it from here…


You know how some things are just meant to be? I do.

10404408_10152950412119180_6897530216826680070_nWhich is how, this past October, I found myself pulling up to the quaint Asheville airport and getting hugged REAL hard by Molly Mahar.

I had driven over 16 hours from Upstate New York to meet her in Asheville, NC, for a site visit of some potential locations for this amorphous dream that she’d conceived of about a year prior. The working title was “Stratejoy Summer Camp” or, as my Instagram tells it, #ssc2015.

Molly and I had never met face-to-face. She’d asked me on board based on one cold email I sent her, a series of proposals, and a barely-populated website… She knew this was meant to be, too.

And then, all of a sudden, one day, she was hugging me outside the baggage claim.

And I felt like I’d come home.

As we walked around downtown Asheville and drove to our site visits, I got to know this person that I’d never met in a way you can only get to know someone by spending 24 hours a day with them for two full days. In those two days, I learned:

  • She does life with such inspirational conviction and confidence.
  • She has such a convicted belief in her tribe (that’s you, cupcake)
  • She’s a terrible navigator (literally, Google Maps? Not her thing. Sorry, Molly. Secret’s out.)

Which is the crux of Summer Camp-

Meeting brand new people in a brand new place, and getting all up in their face, quickly and deeply.

It’s about learning about how convicted, fiery, passionate, loving, sensitive, and caring they are. How they’re terrible at navigating, or 1381276_10152950412204180_3144967442245435348_nswimming, or three-legged races, but wonderful at encouraging you, asking you “How are you? No really, how are you?” and helping you find the words for that thing in your chest that you don’t quite have words for yet.

In a place where you have nothing to lose, because you may never see any of these people again. Where the cloaks come off, the walls come down, and the arms open up for hugs.

Where you can love your heart out, cry your eyes raw, and dance your pants off, while everyone’s watching and nobody’s judging.

That’s what Summer Camp is about. That’s what we’ve created for you.


 What’s Up Our Sleeves:

22c12f074e731f24e95e41d839a6dfe4

When Molly asked me to write this post, I had a hard time deciding what I could reveal and what I wanted to keep a surprise.

But just know a few things:

  • There will be dance parties. Frequently. Because I don’t know a better way to celebrate than with loud music and a tribe of feisty women.
  • There will be silence. Intentionally created, and constructive. Because we all know you could use a little less noise in your life.
  • There will be someone to take care of you. Between Molly, myself, our amazing counselors, and the rest of your cabin and camp mates, you will always have someone to lean on.

Why You Need Summer Camp:
(and why I do, too)

735a269d2ed1714cb3e19a878a5b49cfSomeone asked me — why Asheville? Good question.

There are so many wonderful places to host an amazing, life-changing, fun-filled summer camps like this on the West coast. And truth be told, the weather is a bit more predictable out there (thanks, East Coast blizzard).

But we still wanted to come East.

As West Coast bunnies (Molly in California, me in Montana) we knew it would be a bit more complicated to pull off an event in a state (heck, an entire area of the country!) that was unfamiliar. It would be more work for us for sure. More research, more expense, more hauling of our supplies.

But still, the East Coast called. 

When it came down to it, we were craving the surprise of someplace new.

And truth be told, I love unpredictability.

Because at the edge of what you do know and what you don’t know?

That’s the unpredictable stuff. And that’s where the growth happens.

Summer Camp is about the unpredictable.

It’s about rain storms, and growing friendships quickly, and canoeing on the pond with someone you just met. It’s about whispering the hard truths to your bunkmate, late at night, in the dark.

It’s about turning off your phone, checking out of your email, and getting ready to say the prickly things that you aren’t even sure you have words for.

It’s about us taking care of you, which, let’s be honest, you definitely don’t do often enough. It’s about you falling into your bunk at night and us tucking you in with crickets singing and frogs croaking.

It’s about us surprising you with things you didn’t even know you needed, until you show up on August 19th.

Mostly connection, community, and open-armed hugs — but also, ya know, wine and chocolate.  And water balloons, silent hour, magic rituals and early morning coffee.

We’re hoping in the midst of the unpredictable, you’ll find yourself growing and stretching.  And rejoicing in it all.


What Do I Know About Camp?

I know that the Stratejoy team is in FULL ON Summer Camp Prep Mode.

We hangout bi-weekly-ish on Google Hangout and talk about everything from bunk decor to costume parties to launching strategy to surprises (yes, surprises!) to menu preparation.

I also know that it’s going to take the shape of the ladies that say yes to this amazing experience.

It will be one of a kind, because YOU are one of a kind.

And I hope that you’ll be there for us so that we can show up, with love and sparklers, for you.

So what do you say, sis?
Meet us in Asheville?

HAPPY-CAMPER-LAURENI’ll see you there!

Love, Mama M

 

p.s.  If you have burning questions that need answers —

I’ll be joining Molly for a live Summer Camp Q&A Session tomorrow night!

When? Wednesday, March 25 at 6:00 pm PST/ 9 pm EST

What? A chance for me to answer any question you may possible have about Camp! You’ll be able to chat live if you’re watching or you are welcome to email Molly or I with questions you’d like me to answer. Recordings will be sent to everyone who registers for the event.

Where? Register for the Live Spree Cast Event

One Story of Synchronicity + One Story of Finding Your People

LADIESSummer Camp is truly being co-created with the women who are attending —  there are no speakers, no gurus, no paid experts.

We are all teachers and we are all students.

We are all coming to give and to receive.

Each Camper will be bringing her own slice of magic, her own experience of being a woman in the world today, her own gifts to share, her own tenders spots of struggle.

And this is why women gather. To allow ourselves to be seen, to be loved, to be accepted. And to see, love and accept others.

(click to tweet!)

In the spirit of co-creation, I’ve been asking the ladies buying tickets —

Why are you coming to Camp?

And they’ve been sending me some magical answers.

Thank you Champ and Bliss for being so brave and lovely and letting me share your stories in my little corner of the Internet. Can’t wait to hug you both in August!


A Story of  Synchronicity from a Stratejoy Newbie

4.VICKIE_LT_ORANGEI am truly one of the most positive people you will ever meet. Everything has a silver lining and it all definitely happens for a reason.

I believe that with all my heart.

Which leads me to why I’m coming to camp — there is a piece of irony in here that I hope you find as amazing as I do…

Almost a year ago, I was at an Origami Owl party at a friend’s house. It was an at-home-party where you take a locket and are faced with a giant table filled with about 2000 charms. The point is to find 4-5 charms that “define” you and build-your-own charmed locket to wear.

Although it “should” be easy, it was not.

I stood there for what seemed like hours looking through charms. I kept thinking, “What am I?” as I searched through these charms.

I picked a volleyball because I coach my daughters team, an “A” because her name is Angelina, a moon because she and I tell each other “I love you to the moon and back” and a ruby because that is her birthstone.

A ridiculously huge self-reflection began at that party, though.

What am I other than her mother?

Don’t get me wrong- I love my daughter more than any eloquent words could say, but is that all I am? Am I just her mom and her coach and her teacher? I couldn’t find a single charm, among 2000, that helped define me as anything other than her mom.

The self-reflection started. And I started reading little bits and pieces of inspirational blogs and posts looking for an answer to that question.

What am I? What. The. Hell. Am. I?

One day, I saw a picture on Facebook:

64256-Molly-Mahar-Quote-kBaM

(You can see the synchronicity beginning here, can’t ya?!?)

To say this “spoke” to me is an understatement — this didn’t speak to me; it pulled out a megaphone and screamed at me!

That was it. That was the answer to my question.

What am I? I am enough.
Period. End of search.

I fell in love with this mantra. It’s on my phone background, it’s on my mirror at home, it’s on my desk at work.

I am enough.

I recently went on a Girls Weekend with 5 of the most amazing friends I could ever ask for — one of them I’ve known since Kindergarten! And we all did something to celebrate ourselves on this trip.

And I got a tattoo on my inner wrist that reads, “I am Enough.”

Enough Tattoo

Fast forward seemingly unrelated and months after first seeing that picture on Facebook, I came across a shout out to be on the Early Bird list to hear about a Summer Camp opportunity. What?! Summer camp with a bunch of strangers spent trying to continue my journey of figuring myself out?! Heck yeah!

The problem is that I am a single mom. Extra money is not easy to come by.

I do, however, have a small Summer Vacation fund so my daughter and I can go on a trip every year. Already this year she went on a fantastic trip to Disney with her dad and is going to spend another 2 weeks in Florida with her grandparents in June.

So, I did something that took me a lot of courage to do. I asked her if I could spend OUR vacation money on an opportunity just for ME.

Have I told you yet that my kid is amazing?

My 10 year old, in all her true wisdom, told me that a trip for me IS a trip for her. That it’s MY happiness that makes HER happy and that I deserve this camp experience.

Really? Who raised this kid?

Well, I did. This Badass right here raised her to be selfless and positive and aware of her blessings.

So I registered.

Are you ready for the synchronicity to come full circle?

I had no idea that was your name at the bottom of that mantra. I never put two and two together.

But once I registered for the camp, I began getting the emails from this amazing team of women. Dee Sparkles Bordenkircher, Victoria Starlight Stanley, Molly Sunshine Mahar…

Molly Mahar, Molly Mahar, Molly Mahar, where the heck have I seen that name before?

Then, I randomly saw it just the other day — right there on the bottom of the mantra that answered such a huge question for me.

It was your statement that got me back on track — believing in myself and my future.

Believing that I don’t have to be perfect, I don’t have to have the right plan in place, I don’t have to get it right every time… because I am enough.

(click to tweet!)

I am coming to Camp because I am supposed to. That’s all I can possibly think.

I am supposed to be there.

Maybe it is for myself, maybe it is for someone else. I don’t know why the universe wants me there, but I am not going to question it.

I’m going to show up and give you and the new tribe of women that I will meet 100% of me…

Because I am enough.


A Story of Finding Your People from a Stratejoy Sister

1.-KELLEE_YELLOWI can’t even tell you how super excited I am for camp. Like… giddy, smiling to myself at my desk as I type this kind of excited. I’ve even convinced a friend to take an epic cross-country road trip along with me to camp!

So… why am I coming to camp?

I have been looking for connection with other women lately and not really knowing how to find it.

I have old friends (who are wonderful and I love them so much) but life happens and sometimes it’s hard to get together. When we do manage it, there are usually kids/husbands/boyfriends there which makes it tough to connect on a deeper level.

Also, due to a combination of being a people pleaser and worrying what other people think, I have been a guarded person all of my life. 

I am learning to be more vulnerable but it’s sometimes most difficult to change around the people you’ve known forever because they see you a certain way already.

I am looking to meet people who can get to know the me that I am now.

And Camp seems like such a great place to get over my fear of vulnerability because the whole Stratejoy community is so welcoming and supportive.

I know that the type of ladies Camp will attract are my people.

(click to tweet!)

They’re Camp People. They’re going to be fun, supportive, vulnerable, brave and adventurous!

Other reasons that I’m sure Camp will be just what I need include

  • The potential for squirt gun fights, color wars, dance parties, and other ways of connecting with my too-often-suppressed inner child.
  • My undying love of time spent around a campfire.
  • Yoga in the woods. Hiking in the woods. Sitting in the woods. The woods.
  • Taking a break from real life in order to focus on what I really want for my future and how to get it.
  • Crying and belly laughs and sisterhood.
  • Making friends from around the country and the chance to get closer with my friend on our drive to Camp.
  • Meeting you, Miss Molly, who has been such a force for good in my life!
  • And a million other little things – fireflies, giggles, wine, pranks, silliness, difficult conversations, and so much lady love and positivity.

Molly, I big fat heart you for planning my absolute dream ladies’ trip and letting me be a part of it!

90% of my vision board this year is so in sync with camp — it’s all girlfriends and yoga and journaling and mountains and sparklers.

I’m totally feeling a WOO right now…

So, WOOOOOOOO!


Now tell me lovely — Why are YOU going to make Camp happen?

I can’t wait to hear your story, first over email and then in person, over whiskey and s’mores.

JOIN US AT CAMP
(and save $150 through March!)

XOXO

Molly-Sig211

p.s.  If you have burning questions that need answers —

I’m doing a live Summer Camp Q&A Session!

When? Wednesday, March 25 at 6:00 pm PST/ 9 pm EST

What? A chance for me to answer any question you may possible have about Camp! You’ll be able to chat live if you’re watching or you are welcome to email me with questions you’d like me to answer. Recordings will be sent to everyone who registers for the event.

Where? Register for the Live Spree Event 

Answers to the Question: “Why Camp?”

Camp PostcardsEvery day this past week, I’ve been sitting down to write welcome postcards to Campers who are going to be joining me in August. It’s sacred and special because I’m welcoming women to the inaugural year of one of my lifelong dreams — a Summer Camp for Grown Ups.

(Or as I’ve been calling it on Twitter — Camp for Grown Ass Ladies!)

As I write each name and address out,  I spend a moment throwing out a wish that she’ll receive everything she’s craving from our 5 days together.  I spend a moment hoping that we’ll all get to see her authentic self emerge over campfires and canoe races and intimate cabin conversations.

And I spend a long moment wondering why this particular woman from Ohio or Alberta or Michigan is coming to Camp.

Luckily for me, the answers are starting to roll in.

Today, my Elevate Alums and your Camp Counselors answer the question: Why Camp?

And later this week, I’ve got some incredible stories from Campers about why they’re coming and what it’s taking to make this dream come true!

JOIN US AT SUMMER CAMP


I am HAPPY-CAMPER-ERINgiddy over Summer Camp. Not only will I be fulfilling my lifelong dream of being a camp counselor, I will get to spend a whole week with Molly and a huge (real, live, in-person) group of Stratejoy women!

I keep dreaming about it: soulful talks, beautiful walks, and deep belly laughter. Sparklers and face paint and sunshine and wine.

I can’t wait to cozy up to the fire and talk deep into the night, or to wake up in the morning to the buzz of daring women playing and dancing and shouting their dreams.

Last year I was privileged to have Molly (coach and soul friend and mama bear all wrapped into one) and my Elevate sisters walk me through the crazy transitions of pregnancy and new mamahood, and let me tell you —

Molly and the women she surrounds herself with are the real deal!


Why Camp?

HAPPY-CAMPER-ERAN#1 – I’ve never been to summer camp before. Ever. My childhood was limited to camping with my parents (which was fun, but….. not the same), so I’m looking forward to way more pajama parties and gossip and s’mores. And wine.

#2 – I’m a mom to a 2-year old and I NEED summer camp. 5 days away from potty training and temper tantrums — Yes Please.

#3 – Molly Mahar and her tribe. These are my people and this is my jam. I need to be there to soak up all the juicy joyfulness and soulful sisterhood. Molly is magic, and I can’t wait!


HAPPY-CAMPER-SAGEMy favorite childhood memories involve summer camp. I was the kid who made the most intricate friendship bracelets and knew all the words to the obnoxious camp songs.

Camp was my escape from the rough parts of growing up, and I’m ready to experience that magic again.

As an entrepreneur, I find that I spend any free minute I have working on my business…not because I have to, but because I love it! Putting my clients’ needs above my own can be incredibly draining.

Summer Camp will give me a chance to “fill my cup” and enjoy some much-deserved self-care. 

And Molly? She is a shining light who believes that I can accomplish things far beyond what I think is possible. I can be really hard on myself, but Molly makes me feel like I belong in this amazing Stratejoy tribe.


HAPPY-CAMPER-DIANAWhy Camp? Why not?!

I was part of the first Elevate group. During one of our evenings together, Molly mentioned her dream of running a camp for women. Ever since that dream was verbalized, I knew I HAD to be there.

I’m looking forward to a week of dreaming, scheming, and celebrating the joy of being a fabulous female in the world today!

I can’t wait for time to unplug as I reflect inward while also expanding my network as part of Molly’s tribe. I’m so excited to to connect with other phenomenal females from around the world.


HAPPY-CAMPER-MEGAN

I’m making Camp happen this year because I want to just truly be myself for a few days.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in work and being an adult, and what better time than summer to feel like a kid again?

And I want to be part of the magic that happens when you combine women who are devoted to being and becoming their best selves, the outdoors, beautiful conversations and wine (duh).

I imagine falling out of a canoe because I’m laughing so hard. Fostering awesome conversations that get to the heart of who we are as women.

And enjoying wine time, s’mores, fireside chats, dinner, dance parties, runs and hikes with these women!

Plus, Molly is so authentic in her online work that there’s no surprise when you meet her — she is so full of life, warm, loving and kind. She knows when to push and challenge you, and knows when you need support. She’s one of the wisest people I’ve ever met and I’m a better person because she’s in my life.


Getting to know Molly in person is basically the best thing ever.

HAPPY-CAMPER-ASHLEYShe is everything you could imagine and more: sunshine, joy, laughter, and authenticity to the max.

I can’t wait to spend 5 days at #SSC15 with her and all the other campers!


HAPPY-CAMPER-LAURENA summer getaway in a beautiful place with so many incredible women? How could I say no?

I have never been to summer camp and always wanted to go.

Plus, It’s just perfect timing.

I’ve been craving rejuvenation and a real getaway, not just a vacation to Instagram!

So Camp! I’m ready for a check-in with my Stratejoy tribe, bubbly, hugs, canoes, and my hair smelling like campfire every day!


You know the feeling that you’d appreciate the experiences of your youth way more as an adult? Summer camp tops that list for me. HAPPY-CAMPER-HILLARY

I’ve worked long and hard to recognize joy when I see it in my life.

And Camp? 100% joy!!

I’m so looking forward to the type of summer weekend I didn’t think I’d be allowed to have as a boring old grown up.

Rising and shining like I mean it. Getting a sunburn and filling my journal. Coming home smelling like woodsmoke and smiling right down to my bones. Starting up post-camp letter circles like it’s 1993.

Skinny dipping, campfires and champagne, here I friggin’ come!


Sound like you?
I thought it might.

JOIN US AT SUMMER CAMP!

XOXO

Molly-Sig210

Summer Camp is Here! And 4 of the Most Transformative Events in my Life

When I think back to some of the most transformative times in my life, they all involved two things —

  • A Break from My Real Life
  • Finding My People

Back in the midst of my Quarterlife Crisis, The Big Man and I backpacked around the world for 10 months, meeting many free spirits and nomads who were defining success in their own unique way from Guatemala to Thailand.

For our 4 month honeymoon, we drove from Seattle to Maine to the Florida Keys to San Diego and back to Seattle. We stayed with and met dozens of Tribe Sisters, whom I had only known from the internet up until the moment we crashed in their guest room, shared a meal together, and explored their cities.  Part 1 |  Part 2  | Part 3

The first year I went to the World Domination Summit, I felt seen and understood by hundreds of people like me who were seeking a different kind of meaning in their life — one of creative fulfillment and legacy and happiness on their own terms.

With 2.5 incredible years of Elevate Mastermind under my belt, it’s clear that the times when I have gathered with my ladies on retreat in CA and SEA have been some of the most memorable weekends in my life. From the vulnerability to the big dreaming to the raucous laughter to the skinny dipping — there is nothing I love more than circles of authentic women.

And now, YOU + ME + CAMP.

(Please ignore the part where I say it is Sunday. It is obviously now Wednesday. Also, ignore the part where I talk about the early bird list. Registration is now open for ALL! Also, please also adjust yourself to my make-up free face. I know it’s a shock seeing me without mascara!)

I can’t wait.

I can’t wait to hear your story. I can’t wait to hang out for 5 days. I can’t wait to laugh and cry and tell the truth and love up on each other.

I can’t wait to witness your shift.

Though I wish I could take you around the world for 10 months or on a 4 month road trip — I realize these 5 days of Camp are my chance to create a magical, life-changing, breath-of-fresh-air, woman-circling experience for you.

Think of Camp as your very own break from real life + finding your people!

Stop reading about all my adventures on the internet and get your booty to Asheville, girlfriend. Ask your boss for the time off, talk to your partner about money and childcare and driving to North Carolina, put some hustle into your side gig to earn the ticket price.

Do what you’ve got to do to make Camp happen.

I can promise you it’s going to be scary and wonderful and incredibly fun!

And yes, absolutely f*cking transformative.

XOXO

Molly-Sig

p.s. Are you already coming? Feel free to swipe this sweet badge! And don’t forget our hashtag is #SSC15!

I'm Going to Camp!

 

 

I Want My Work to Feel Like Play + Photos from the Elevate Retreat

I want to be joyful above all else, but also in union, of service, divine and wild.

I want my work to feel like play.

I want to create with fire in my belly, because I see a need in the world that I can ease. I want to be proud of my process, proud of my product, proud of my power.

I want my clients and my community to know that I love them in all their messiness because I do. I want being on retreat (or camp) with me to feel inspiring, raw, supportive and magical.  I want to remember that I don’t take on others’ heaviness or fears or despair — I simply listen and love and offer my gifts.

I want to be joyful. 

I want to feel my feelings about this odd world of online entrepreneurship without judgement and with a sense of humor. I want to have enough self-awareness to course correct when I get pulled into the lands of shoulds, or expectations, or measuring my worth as a human through my productivity or my profit or my ability to suck it up.

I want to use my strengths for the highest good, while also being rewarded in all the ways I desire.

I want to be nimble and honest; inspiring and useful; free-spirited and deep.

I want to be joyful.

I want to do my great work in the world from a place of delight and meaning. I want to sit comfortably with my fear of being seen and my fear of fucking it all up and my fear of never being enough and my fear of losing it all and my fear of making the wrong choice.

I want to offer myself to the world in a way that makes me want to show up every day with excitement and hope.

And I can honestly say that I am getting closer and closer to this every day.

Case in point? My Elevate retreat in Ojai.

It was all that and a bag of chips.

May your work (your art, your service, your passion) be everything you crave, dear one. Don’t settle for anything less.

XOXO

Molly-Sig1

Statejoy Elevate Mastermind 2

Stratejoy Elevate Mastermind Photos

PicMonkey Collage3

PicMonkey Collage4

PicMonkey Collage

photo credit to the amazing Eran at eran jayne photography (an Elevate 2014 alum!)

8 Releasing Rituals In Action

If you’ve participated in The Holiday Council, you’re totally familiar with the practice of performing a “releasing ceremony.” Clearing space mentally (and sometimes physically!), symbolically leaving behind the stories, relationships, or dreams you’ve outgrown is a powerful step in the journey of creating meaningful, joyful lives.

There are unlimited ways to practice this symbolic release (doves, balloons, even traditional funerals), handed down over time and often based on religious or family traditions. Some are centered around moon cycles. Some are based in pagan belief or performed in groups. Some involve meditation, water, fire, nature, paint, or seeds.

The bottom line is that there is absolutely no right or wrong way to release what no longer serves you.

The most effective way to perform a releasing ritual is all about YOU: The best, most effective ceremony is all about tapping into your own intuition and letting your heart guide you.

It’s about finding strength within yourself to celebrate the painful pieces of our stories that have influenced who we are. To celebrate it and then to set it free.

The Holiday Council closed out 2014 together and welcomed all the magic and mystery that 2015 will bring in so many distinct and personal ways. Our tribe is endlessly creative and, of course, put a reflective and joyful spin on the beautiful act of letting go.

Release Through Art

“I did something a little different for my Releasing/Keeping Ceremony this year. Months ago when I was feeling at my absolute lowest and was completely lost, I decided to sort through my emotions with some paint. I ended up with this dark, but honest little piece. It was very raw and very much how I was feeling at the moment. Actually, it reflected the “rock bottom” of my dark moments this year.

1489195_10100568259645148_4201196509984578863_n

Flash forward to now and I’m miles from the way I felt that day.

But, I don’t deny those feelings that still resurface and are a part of my story. 2014 is a part of my story, so I decided to NOT burn the darkness and instead paint over it with something bright and happy. I chose yellow for the “releasing” aspect of my ceremony, and all of the other colors for the “keeping” aspect of my ceremony…

It’s a piece that’s bright and happy, but still has my scars underneath, which I own, and make me appreciate the good days all the more.” – Gina


1507957_10152938778204628_6678031334600742936_n“I did my releasing ceremony tonight, and I feel good! I wrote two cards and took them with me to yoga, where I did a super intense practice with them at the top of my mat next to my mala beads.

The one on the left says: What I am leaving behind in 2014, and the other says What I’m taking with me into 2015. On the backs of the cards I wrote my intentions for the year.

I thought about letting go, creating space for the new, and keeping with me all the good. 

Later, I lit a special candle that I received as a present for my birthday (and which featured in my meditation as my little vessel to keep my goodness) and then I used the flame to burn away the card that I was letting go of. Soon when my candle is all used up, I will use the empty egg-like pot to store the second card, the one I’m keeping with me in 2015.” – Holly


“I think I have struggled with this so much because the things I need to release are intertwined with the things I need to embrace.

The thing that was most surprising about my year was learning that when you ask for help, people help you.

The awfulness of my year was countered by the love and support of a small group of incredibly amazing people. I felt like I couldn’t release the bad because I didn’t want to forget the good.

I decided to write them each a note so that I could carry forward the love and close the chapter on the sad. I trust they will get to their destinations.” -Lester


 Release With Fire

10898338_10153116859440312_8555619034259802673_n-1

“Finally did my releasing activity! My mom even threw some stuff in which was awesome and powerful for us to share things out loud together.

Yay for letting things go!” -Gina


12825_10203343235448238_7735065401912097409_n

“Completed my releasing ceremony today! Just in the nick of time.

Feeling hopeful.

So ready for 2015! Happy New Year to all!” – Casandra


10419546_10152622037451848_3098185318033968211_nRelease In Nature

“This evening I went to the pier for sunset. I brought a stone and a piece of chalk. I looked out at the sun setting, imagining it was setting on my year.

On one side I wrote 2014 and on the other I wrote down all the moments or emotions I want to leave behind.

When I had finished I read it over and let myself think about the painful memories one last time.

I felt the stone in my hand weighing me down, held it over the water and let go. I spent some time standing there looking at the sun setting, imagining the chalk (my 2014) being washed away. I feel lighter now. Thank you Molly and thank you my new HoCo friends.” -Jade


10898331_10152596474361560_5802996766258713991_n

“I found the perfect spot for my release ceremony under a tree shelter someone had built in a hidden hollow.

I’ve distilled my work so far into a theme for 2015: REPLENISH & CHERISH. 

Replenish means filling up my depleted reserves of energy, attention and patience. Nourishing my inner glow to a visible radiance. Building financial security and sustaining myself in practical ways. Connecting to the land and nature.

Cherish means feeling and showing appreciation and thankfulness for what I have, my experiences and the people around me and applying commitment and attentiveness to nurture quality in everything I (co-)create.” -Hannah  


10372212_10205734510541478_5435831936081874159_n“My release ceremony ended up being one of the most meaningful, in-tune, peaceful and empowering things I have ever done.

It was all very organic, both in nature and in development. I knew I wanted to be near water, so I headed out to a favorite trail with many waterfalls. I journeyed from the trailhead downhill along an icicle lined path to the north falls, collecting items (leaves, rocks, sticks) and reflecting on my year along the way.

Once at the waterfall, I sat behind the falls and wrote words on my collected items. Upon one rock, I simply wrote “2014” and tossed that rock right into the falls, watching it plunge into the pool below.

An unexpected laugh escaped my body at that moment as I accepted that 2014 was out of my grasp.

I stuffed the other items in my pocket, turned and started back up the icy trail. I climbed above the waterfall and found my way to a secluded spot along the creek. Here I pulled the other things of 2014 out of my pocket and laid them out to reflect one last time. I picked up one item at a time, filled the crisp air with my vocal reflections, tossed them into the creek and imagined these things falling over the waterfall, still a part of my world, but released.

It was both so fulfilling and so freeing. 

I then headed up the trail, beyond the trailhead to the upper north falls, where I watched this new water fall down flow by and meditated on the journey of this fresh new year.” -Laura


Me? I love to incorporate a “mini” release ceremony as I wrap up each month and plan for the next. The power of the full moon usually calls me to my patio where I jot down notes on paper and burn one by one over my magical cauldron (cast-iron skillet), evermore alarming my boyfriend with my woo woo ways.

I know that personally, it’s equally vital to place importance on the next step in the process of releasing – symbolically savoring the lessons, joys, tiny moments and feelings that I’d like to carry forward- so I’ll also write down some intentions and float them in a bowl with rose petals.

It’s a ritual that has evolved over the years. It used to take place in the woods behind my parent’s house, then on the bike trail next to my favorite oak tree. When I first moved across the country, I would let the ocean carry away what I wanted to release. Now, it’s cozy and right out my back door under the moonlight. It, like all these magical spins on releasing that our Stratejoy tribe practices, is perfect and all mine.

And whatever way that you choose to honor your struggles and thereby make way for good to come is perfect because it’s all yours. 

Dee

All Love,

signature

As Operations and Community Manager for Stratejoy, Dee is able to contribute to the world of women’s wellness all while merging her passions for community building, multimedia journalism, wild joy… and champagne.

Letting Go of What Other People Think

Kick-Ass Courage Project

(Today’s post is part of an awesome blog tour headed up by my friend Andrea Owen of Your Kick-Ass Life. Starting February 1st, she’s hosting The Kick-Ass Courage Project: 7 Day Challenge. She’s challenging women to do two Very Important Things — start cultivating self kindness and self compassion (aka stop being such a bitch to yourself) and start practicing “being enough”. The Challenge is totally free and Andrea’s hope is that she can shift two very important aspects of your life in 7 days.)

I have no idea who said or wrote this quote, but I love it.

Your opinion of me is none of my business.

 

It’s my mantra when I’m trying to extricate myself from doing something* in the world in order to earn my gold star or avoid judgement. It’s my mantra when I let fear of how something* will land stop me from trying it out. It’s my mantra when I find myself chasing external validation in the form of likes or registrations or appreciative glances.

*Those somethings can be anything! A business idea, a change in my appearance, an offer of help, a conversation with a stranger, a swallowed moment of truth…

I made you a video sharing some of my best tips for learning how to let go of what other people think, as well as sharing my own story learning how to let go in the realms of business and mamahood.

Crib Sheet of Tips:

  • Really understand the quote, “Your opinion of me is none of my business!” Let it help you pull your focus back to your own life, your own lens, your own experience.
  • The way to be true to yourself and do the things you want to do in the world is to harness your own power. Don’t worry about pleasing or disappointing another, but absolutely do worry about pleasing or disappointing yourself.
  • Getting clear on who your “other people” actually are can be useful in letting “their opinions” go.
  • No one cares about your life nearly as much as you think they do. And no one cares about your life the way that you should care about your life.
  • Stand up for your dreams, your integrity, your desires. You don’t need to be fearless to do this work, just courageous.

It may seem impossible or scary to believe that you have the power to create your world in order to please yourself, in order to live in alignment with your highest held values, in order to experience joy in all forms — but I promise you — it is possible.  

And the first small, courageous step? Letting go of what other people think about you and your life.

Imagine the freedom!

XOXO

Molly-Sig211

Encouragement Is A Gift That Keeps On Giving

StratejoyBlog.Pic1.Jan13

“This magic that I had experienced of being amongst my tribe was so intoxicating, that I didn’t want to let it go.”

When I read that in Katie’s farewell post last week, I knew exactly what she meant…it’s the very reason why I’m here, writing to you today. While interacting with the Holiday Council Facebook group last month, I could feel the magic washing over me.

It was one part waterfall, one part pixie dust: intense and rushing, yet sparkly and empowering.

I realized that being part of this community inspires me to feel the sense of belonging that all of us crave. When I’m here, interacting with all of you, I know that not only is it OK to be myself, it’s encouraged. Even if my definition of self is ever-changing, the warm welcome still stands.

After almost five years as a Stratejoy fan this isn’t the first time I’ve felt the power of community, but this time was different. This time it illuminated something that I hope to never forget:

Being yourself is a solo journey,  but that doesn’t mean you’re alone.

(Click to Tweet)

I believe that being yourself is what life is about and I believe it with my whole heart. But at the same time, the very essence of our humanity is connection. It’s not a trade-off. It’s a match made in heaven.

This concept of individuality in communion is one I’ve been thinking about for the last year.

After reflecting on 2014, I know I want even more of those moments feel where I feel completely connected to myself and like a kindred spirit to someone else.*

But then, don’t we all? I think that’s why, as we all gear up for a fresh year of dream-chasing and possibility-believing, I find myself wondering:

Since we don’t all have access to megaphones and mountain-tops, what else can we do to spread the word that the best of both worlds is possible?

What are other ways can we raise awareness of the truth that you don’t need to sacrifice, hide or compromise who you are in order to experience the acceptance, belonging and love we all crave? After reconnecting with this warm, supportive tribe over the holidays, I think giving words of encouragement is a solid place to start.

Spending time in the HoCo Facebook group, I watched strangers talk openly about their hardships, points of pride and secret wishes and then receive compassion, encouragement and loving understanding in return. No strings attached. It was easy to see there was deep appreciation being felt by everyone.

Giving and receiving words of encouragement was a gift; it was love, hope and courage, all wrapped up with a bow.

In her last post, Elevate sister Mallory talked about it, too. She said it takes a tribe to find yourself and I couldn’t agree more.

When was the last time you reminded someone you were in their tribe? How often do you tell someone: “It’s OK, you’ve got this! You already know what to do.” Or remind them: “Being yourself if the whole, entire point. And you’re killing it, girlfriend.”

Of course there are many ways to go about it, and it’s important that we spread love and encouragement in ways that feel genuine to us, but last week my bestie and I launched something that we think could help.

We opened an online store and our first product line speaks to the very magic that helps communities like this one to thrive. It’s a collection of encouragement cards! Our goal is simply to make it easy to give the gifts of love and encouragement and to keep them flowing all year!

There are 10 different cards to choose from, but this one in particular makes me think of you.

StratejoyBlog.Pic2.Jan13

As a thank you for being YOU, which includes being part of a community I cherish, 50 of you can snag this card for 50% off using the promo code “STRATEJOY”.

You can click here to take a look at the collection, but you’ll want to do so by January 30th. The cards make like Cinderella’s slippers and disappear at midnight that day!

Speaking of magic, I think the kind Katie was talking about comes down to this: a willingness to express your quirks, talents, dreams and beliefs leads to profound connections with others who are willing to do the same.

That has certainly proven true for me and I simply can’t thank Molly enough for creating the space to allow that exchange to happen for so many of us.

To all of you reading, you will never know how profoundly your open hearts and kind words have helped to shaped me a woman, wife and entrepreneur. As I’ve been growing into my identity as a creator and curator of inspiration, you have been mine.

With heaps of love + gratitude,

Laura

P.S. I’m strongly considering the Stratejoy Summer Camp as a way to add more individuality in communion into my 2015. I have no doubt it’ll be an experience packed with scrapbook-worthy moments. Is anyone else planning on going? Let me know in the comments!

P.P.S. If the topic of encouragement is one you’re interested in, you’ll want to keep an eye on my blog (weareredballoon.com/blog), where I’ll be diving into it through interviews with Tara Gentile, Nicole Antoinette, Kyla Roma, and Ashley Wilhite.

Retiring From Stratejoy – Lessons Learned From Five Years of Community Management

To Katie “Pants” Colihan — Thank you for giving your heart, soul and humor to our Community for the last 5 years. You’ve been here almost as long as I have! Stratejoy would not be the same without you. I’ve learned so much about bravery, about vulnerability and about the difficult dance of delegation/communication/leadership from our time together. 

We’re saying our goodbyes, and though that means the end of an era for us — it’s time, honey. You are ready to find your dream. To dedicate the love and attention you’ve given Stratejoy to the thing that’s going to light YOU up. You’ve got to be free to figure out the thing that’s going to make you really, really happy. 

I don’t doubt for a second that it’s out there. And I want nothing less for you.

Enjoy the hell out of the search and know you’ll always have a friend and supporter in me.

XOXO

Molly

Retiring-Katie

It started with a question:

“What makes you really happy? When was the last time you were happy? What did it feel like?”

I came across this question in the Joy Equation a little over 5 years ago.

In 2009, I was 25. Living with my dad. In a back and forth dead-end relationship. Laid off from my job. Depressed. Stuck. So unhappy that I couldn’t even answer a simple question of “What makes you really happy?”

I applied to be a Season 2 blogger. I got in. I wrote about my depression. I moved to Philadelphia. I started my own freelance business. I began life as Katie Blogs. I slowly crawled out of the hole I had gotten into.

****

I remember after I was a Season 2 Stratejoy blogger, I emailed Molly and told her that I just wasn’t ready to leave and asked if she needed any help behind the scenes. This magic that I had experienced of being amongst “my tribe” was so intoxicating, that I didn’t want to let it go.

After the next season of bloggers was done, I still wasn’t ready to leave the tribe and Molly asked me to stick around again for the next season.

This continued on. Season after season. Project after project. Year after Year.

Even when my time was stretched to the absolute max, and I felt overwhelmed with everything,  I never felt ready to leave the warm little cocoon of Stratejoy. Being Molly’s community manager has become such a big part of my identity. My security blanket.

There were days where I thought about the chance of joining Stratejoy in a more official capacity as some kind of coach in training. I mean, what could be better than working with one of the most inspirational, gorgeous souls ever? As much as I love Molly, here’s my hard-hitting truth:

Stratejoy was never my dream. It is, and always will be Molly’s. I was along to help her shine. I feel like I did that to the best of my ability. Every day. For 5 years.

But now? That time I’ve carved out of my daily life for 5 years, needs to be refocused on my dream. What will make me shine? What’s my big dream?

I have absolutely no idea, but I’m not willing to put off finding out anymore.

And while I have absolutely no idea where life will take me next, for the first time I can say with full and complete confidence: I’m ready to move on. I’m ready to write the next chapter of my life. 

What this all means: I’m officially retiring from Stratejoy. Short. Sweet. Simple. Incredibly scary. But such is life, eh?

I’ll end this with the same question that, before Molly, I was unable to answer:

“What makes you really happy?”

Grey’s Anatomy, pancakes, brunch, twinkle lights, Taylor Swift’s Blank Space, Wine feelings, candles, freshly washed sheets, backrubs, cupcakes, the perfect spotify playlist, inside jokes, unexpected texts, teaching, dance parties, … and that’s just today.

To Molly “Pants”. – Writing this post came easily to me, until right now. I’m sitting on my couch in fuzzy socks, drinking chai tea, hair in a messy bun, with ugly tears streaming down my face. Everything has changed for me over the past 5 years – from where I live to the people I share my life with to what I call my job, but you’ve been the constant.

You’ve shared in my successes. You’ve seen me at my worst. You’ve seen me at my best.  You’ve never judged me. You celebrate with me. You say “what the fuck is wrong with some people?” with me.

Working with you, I’ve learned how to accept success. I’ve learned how to own up to my mistakes. I’ve learned to do what I say I’m going to do. I’ve learned the value of my time. I’ve learned to value other’s time. I’ve learned about every project management system ever and which ones are worth the money. I know my way so hard around WordPress.

Hands down, the best gift you ever gave me was YOU. You in all your raw, makeup free, no shower, baby on boob self. Through both of our bad times, at the end of the day, when shit gets real and dirty, no matter what, you always show up as a leader, a coach, a friend. You showed me what healthy relationships look like, and because of that, I’ve made it a habit to accept nothing less.

Removing “Stratejoy Community Manager” from all of my bios is going to be difficult. But I’ll forever be a Molly-Pants fanatic and Stratejoy Tribe member.

Lead on, leader.

xo.

It Feels Like Home

FeelsLikeHome

I have a confession.

Last January I was busy thinking of all the excuses I could give to get out of going to our Elevate Retreat. I know. Why would I purposely miss the “fun” event to kick off the Elevate year? Am I insane or just purely wasteful, because there was definitely a portion of the financial commitment that contributed to that retreat? Yet, there I was thinking about morning sickness, car trouble, work. All. The. Excuses.

Thankfully my guilt took over. I bullied myself into packing my fears of not fitting in and forced conversations right next to my “yoga” pants that hadn’t seen a day of yoga in their life, and headed to Ojai.

Still giving myself pep talks as I walked into the entryway, I was immediately welcomed with strangers filing around a large wooden table to offer personal-space-bubble-popping hugs, which I awkwardly tried to pass off as being totally normal though it was totally causing Stranger Danger alarms to go off in my head. Then it happened. A quick quip, a combination of intellect with perfectly portioned side of sarcasm, and I found my first “sister” in Maureen.

Driving away that weekend I could not contain my excitement as I babbled on and on to Zee Hubs about how amazing the weekend was. How I met people and shared things with I hadn’t even had the courage to share with family or closest friends. That somehow I felt like they knew me better in a few short days than people I’d known my whole life. That we laughed, cried, dreamed, and manifested a spirit guide (at this point he was one phone call away from having me greeted with white coats upon my return). I’d written a letter to Liliana that finally expressed how beautiful it felt to be “almost parents” together. And so on and so on for nearly the entire drive home.

Now as we near the end of our official Elevate year Molly asked to think of what would make this year feel like a success. My first reaction was to panic. I hadn’t accomplished…

A baby shoe boutique. I hadn’t launched it. It was my big goal and I hadn’t accomplished it.

I hadn’t accomplished it because Molly helped me realize there are more important aspects to dreaming big than checking off boxes and getting gold stars. Looking back I now see what I did accomplish was so much greater than I ever anticipated last January.

I learned what drives me and how to claim my real passions in life. I implemented ways to maintain balance in the face of everyday “busy”, including tools to pull me back to my true center. I let go of things that no longer served me to focus effort on those that do. I created a tiny human. My husband and I tackled some big milestones in our marriage. We put a personal financial plan in order to work toward the lives we are manifesting.

I found my Tribe. 

The twelve strangers who I’d been so scared to meet, to be judged by, they have become sisters. They are my Tribe. My family. They are the ones who offer safety to say those secret dreams aloud. They are there reminding each other that a bad day doesn’t make a bad life, and it’s never too late to start over. They protect our dreams even when we, ourselves, are their biggest threat. They dole out tough love when necessary and comfort always. They push us to lay aside excuses and continue to put one foot in front of the other. They hashtag. They dance party. They yurt. They celebrate.

They feel like home.

So whatever else happened or happens this year with Elevate, the biggest success had already been won that short weekend in Ojai. It quietly happened as invisible ties were thread, connecting thirteen sisters across the states (and Canada!).

I can’t tell you to join Elevate. I can’t push you to work with Molly, or a life coach. I can’t force you to ask “what if” and explore how you might be capable of living your best life. But even if you never join Elevate Mastermind, Holiday Council or sign up for coaching, I can only hope that you should be as lucky to find your tribe too.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. It takes a tribe to find yourself.

 

Mallory200x200WITH LOVE FROM

Mallory, soon-to-be-mama and current Elevate 2014 Sister.

Mallory is a dreamer, a seeker of inspiration and curator of life’s beauty. A researcher by day, professional pinner by night, she’s often distracted by shiny things and has marked 2014 as the year to end her 90% completion streak starting with giving birth to Zee Shrimpress and launching the first addition to her multrepreneur portfolio – a luxury baby boutique – because who doesn’t love ridiculously cute, tiny things?  When not honing her mad visualization skills with Zee Hubs, she can be found celebrating a circular life in Los Angeles with Puffin Muffin (puppy) and Skittler (cat).