Along the path of life, people may misunderstand your journey or doubt your dreams.
When I decided to move to San Francisco in 2008, months before the stock market crashed and prior to a publicly traded Facebook, an acquaintance scoffed at me saying, “well, that will be cheap.”
Within two weeks of this comment, I got a job at a popular tech startup downtown SF and was living in a rent-controlled apartment in Laurel Heights- even less than what some friends in Metro Detroit were paying- because for me, it’s always about thinker smarter, not harder.
What would have happened if I would have taken his comment to heart?
What would have happened in the course of my life had I held back from my cross- country moves, calling off a wedding, quitting jobs I was selling my soul for, or walking away from people who didn’t value me-
all because of what someone who barely knows me had to say?
Had I not moved to SF, I never would have gotten homesick the next year and moved to Austin. I wouldn’t have met some amazing people in Texas who I’m still in touch with today, and I probably wouldn’t have decided to move back to San Francisco had I not lived such a great life the first time around.
But in 2010, I was different. I had discovered blogging, sharing my stories online, and documenting my daily activities. I realized how powerful connection is- and how you don’t have to be involved in a local community to feel a sense of home; home is wherever you feel understood.
People doubted the San Francisco Giants that year, too. But we all know how that turned out. Fall of 2010, I drove back to the city after a work trip in Lake Tahoe, high on life after quitting an office manager job in data security. With my rental car windows down and the music on, I felt free- but I didn’t know what the rocky road of creative freedom would bring months and years into this journey.
The same person who mocked my California move asked to meet with me years later about marketing his company, as he saw my work and experience from San Francisco.
I couldn’t work with someone who once doubted me.
Over the years, I learned an important lesson the hard way: You don’t need to try to explain or justify anything to anyone when you make choices in life! Those who resonate with your path will find you- but it’s not your job to explain.
You can simply show them.
For now, try to ignore the negative or fear-based distractions and keep aiming high- the only limitation you have is what others try to project onto you- and what you believe. ✨ You have your own foundation to build upon.
The “Dream Big, Darling” rock was created from a post I wrote back in 2017, inspired by a Primark sweatshirt and a day planner from the Harvard Coop.
Two years ago, after a magical and inspiring trip back to NYC, I realized working at my desk job wasn’t for me.
I went to work that Monday feeling discontent- my internal voice was telling me to create, especially after spending the day at the “Heavenly Bodies” exhibit at The Met. Full of life, beauty, and wonder, I felt more myself than I had in years- and it was apparent I needed to find a new path.
I had dinner with my landlord that evening, who told me “life is a stage, we are all actors.” Of course, the nature of our relationship made it clear he wanted me to continue with my stable job so I could afford rent- as would my father or any patriarchal figure in my life- yet my sacral authority was screaming, “create!”
I didn’t know how I would afford rent, but like always, I knew I’d find a way.
Authenticity has always been crucial in my life. If it doesn’t feel natural, it’s a challenge- which is why I stopped fashion blogging and styling items I wouldn’t actually wear back in 2016.
My heart and soul knew my creative talents were being wasted at a place that wasn’t appreciated, at a firm full of people who didn’t understand me- and I physically and mentally couldn’t produce work any longer. That’s the true 5-15 Channel in me.
Even before learning about my Human Design, I knew my intuition was strong- so for the past 12 years, my impulsive life choices were made by my sacral authority without even realizing it! The missed trains, those impulsive moves, and the gut feelings- they were all for a purpose.
So, the next day I called in to reflect. By the end of the afternoon, I had written my resignation letter.
I had no idea where my path would lead, but I knew it wasn’t at a Downtown Boston law firm.
Who had I been trying to prove? My father? My ex-boyfriend? The people I went to school with?
The only person I needed to prove anything to was myself.
I bought a sketch book and arranged all my inspiration on my bedroom floor. The following day, I quit my job after seeing a new set of angel wings by Hot Swat in Harvard Square along Church Street after taking the wrong way home. Pretty powerful.
If it weren’t for those wings I saw in Harvard Square as soon as I walked out of the unusual exit at the train station after work, I never would have called in that Tuesday.
There are many other events that happened in 2018 that inspired me to quit my job and start sketching, too.
Kate’s Spade’s death shook me- and her impact on my life was so apparent that even male friends I knew in passing over the years texted me about the news. Unaware of her battle with mental health, her passing inspired me to share the truth behind the clothes and my looks.
Had I not relapsed after my new art project didn’t manifest as soon as I wanted it to, I wouldn’t have been forced to take a pause to heal and dig deeper into my own story. Unlike summer of 2018, today I understand it’s not about the end product, but it’s about the joy in the journey.
Similar Kate Spade, I wanted to bring joy to others, but forgot to find the joy in my own life. I began being an actor once again- working jobs that weren’t aligned with my purpose, sipping alcohol again, and pretending I was “fixed” when I still had a long road ahead.
My personal struggles wouldn’t have inspired me to purge what no longer served in my closet, and my life. Through sharing who we really are- whether it’s at work or in our personal relationships- we are able to align with opportunities and people who are truly meant for us.
Sure, a colorful or shiny facade is pretty, but what happens when the colors fade? What is underneath?
Is the foundation strong like a rock, or will it float away in the breeze like a feather?
Hence, why I decided to start painting on rocks- and my three and a half years of life lessons are reflected on the messages I share throughout town.
I may not be an actor in my own life, but I have decided to write my own future- and thanks to a simple sign and a few twists and turns along my path, I gained the confidence to do so.
It has been an interesting month with our daily lives put to a halt, yet Mother Earth is smiling at us as we stay home. From the canals in Italy to the Los Angeles skyline, our world has started to heal from all of the damage our Human Race has caused it to endure.
This won’t last forever, though.
We will eventually go back to our daily routine, and the pollution will start up again. Face masks have begun to flood the oceans and lakes, while friends of mine are doing their part to pick up litter during the quarantine. Nevertheless, being mindful at home and in our everyday actions play a big part in how our Earth continues to heal.
How do you already reduce your carbon footprint? Here are a few things I do on a daily basis- and although they’re not feasible for all, even a small part makes a big difference.
Reusable K-cups- you can buy one for the price of a cup of coffee
Walking- I haven’t driven a car since I moved to New York City in 2014!
Painting on natural surfaces and recycled items instead of buying new materials
Using recycled tote bags when shopping- I can customize them for you, too 💫
Look out for some Earth Day rocks coming soon to Downtown Traverse City- I can’t wait for you all to see what I’ve been working on.
Although we may not think throwing a wrapper out the window or a cigarette on the ground is a big deal, those small things add up- so this Earth Day, please consider how even the tiniest effort make an impact.
In our lifetime, we have never seen an event such as the Coronavirus pandemic.
In my 35 years on this planet, never have I walked down city streets in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon to find everything closed with barely a person on sight. As I safely left my home to lay rocks outside of businesses and in hidden spots downtown, I stopped to think about how others are feeling.
With a smile on my face, feeling full of purpose, I paused to considered those who haven’t quite seen the light at the end of the tunnel.
My heart goes out to the restaurant owners, retailers, and businesses who have halted their daily routine to flatten the curve. That’s why I am focusing my energy on doing what I can to help- even if it’s small.
You are stronger than you realize.
I thought about what we can control in terms of our media consumption and the conversations we have with family or friends (check out a post I wrote a couple of years ago about how you’re lowering your energetic vibration without even realizing it).
What are we focusing on? Fear? Financial insecurity? Health concerns?
Many of us feel compelled to join the negative conversations and will embrace some of their fear- much of which isn’t your own.
That’s why we need to focus on the helpers, not the problem.
I read an amazing article by author Steve Pavlina, who shared his views on the importance of lightworkers in today’s society:
“The lightworker’s duty is to serve the health of the body. Lightworkers strive for a healthy, sane humanity. They’re like white blood cells fighting diseases such as cruelty, apathy, depression, disempowerment, dishonesty, and cowardice. Such diseases damage the health of the body. The #1 disease lightworkers battle is fear. Wherever there is fear in the body of humanity, lightworkers are driven to respond.”
Yesterday I chatted with a few friends who are visibly concerned about their health and safety. I am, too. However, my focus isn’t on the news and the negativity. It’s about focusing on what I can do in the now.
We all have a choice of what messages we want to send- do we want to spread the fear, or send light?
Do you want to look at the problem or the solution?
Even though we have to stay home, there is so much we can do both online and within our own homes to raise the overall vibration- and choosing what conversations you partake in is a part of this.
I am doing my best to be mindful of the energy I am putting out- and instead of fear, I have faith.
Before I learned about Human Design, I had no idea my inner guide, or intuition, had an official name, leading my every move throughout my life. Those times when I followed the crowd, listened to negative feedback, or allowed naysayers to sway my decisions were the times I ignored my inner authority: my Sacral Center.
Friends and family have often thought my decisions were irrational; crazy, even. However, my moves to San Francisco, Boston, and even home to Michigan were based on feelings in my gut that I couldn’t ignore.
People often write to me and ask how I knew when it was right for me to make that next move or to quit a job that wasn’t a good fit. Lately, I’ve told them my own experiences- but also about how it relates to my Human Design. We all have an inner authority- one that won’t lead us in the wrong direction.
During this pandemic and uncertainty, our society has been forced to slow down. It’s not comfortable for many, but it’s a gift in disguise- one we may not receive again.
It’s the gift of pause and reflection.
Not only do I recommend taking this time for self-discovery, it’s also a perfect opportunity to re-assess the life you’ve been living.
How many of your decisions were impacted by society’s expectations? What choices did you make because of what other people said? If you could stop and do something over, what would you go back and accomplish?
With idle time, we can see our lives more clearly. What is your gut telling you? If you have a blank slate in front of you, what direction do you want to go in?
When you stop and listen to your gut- or whatever your inner authority may be- it’s amazing what doors begin to open for you.
The one thing they don’t teach in school is that you aren’t supposed to know where your life is going when you graduate at, say, 22.
Sure, it’s important to have some sort of direction, but how do you know after two decades of life what you really want?
Ten years ago, I was living in San Francisco, working as an office manager at a tech company. I had a boyfriend who worked in finance and usually hung out with his group of college friends from UC Berkeley more than him (they were more fun). I lived with two roommates down the street from said boyfriend in Russian Hill. My life was one big routine, the day in and the day out, so I found other ways to entertain myself.
So, I began writing.
Whether it was a Yelp review or blog post about an event I went to (I did a lot of events and promo work in my 20’s), I was happiest when I was sharing with the world.
Nevertheless, underneath the surface I thought my relationship had to “go somewhere.” I thought my job defined me and my success. I worried my Central Michigan University degree wasn’t good enough compared to everyone in the Bay Area with more impressive degrees than me. I constantly compared myself to other people and their success.
My boyfriend and I broke up that summer of 2010 and I quit my job in the fall. Back to square one, I continued to write, struggled with finances, and drank too much, but I knew I was closer to what I was supposed to be doing than sitting at an office desk five days a week (minus the drinking).
Through a lot of experiences, trial and error, and life lessons, 10 years later I still don’t know what direction my life will take. That’s the beauty of life- the unexpected surprises.
I’ve spent the past month spending a lot of time working on my coaching business, starting a new job at a wellness center, and writing, of course. Unlike my decisions to quickly find a job that looked good but wasn’t fulfilling, I waited to find something aligned with my overall goals and vision for the future.
My own experiences and lessons have lead me on a path of helping other people live a healthy, balanced life of purpose and joy, especially young women. However, whether you’re 20 or 70, it’s never too late to make a positive change in your life.
I’ve talked with and interviewed various women these past few months, learning what fuels their own passions. One woman left her corporate job at 55 to open a bakery. A friend of mine from Connecticut lost her stomach at age 17 and later channeled her energy through art, writing, and theatre- and even created her own one-woman show off Broadway (which I got to see back in 2014).
The common denominator between all of the people I have talked to is how their own experiences shaped their decisions- and because of these experiences, they were able to contribute something to the world. Something they couldn’t have contributed had they not experienced what they went through.
So, you really can’t tell me that you’re supposed to know where your life is going at 25.
A couple of years ago I heard a group of people making fun of me after I left the room. In a fury, I started writing a short and not-that-sweet blog post about it- a post titled “Gossip: It’s Low Vibe Energy.”
I often write about the things in life that irritate me, and almost immediately felt better afterward. I’ve written about the things in life that are painful- heartbreak, my experience in treatment, depression, and trauma. I’ve revisited stories of high school bullies and people who pushed me out of their life. I’ve talked about my alcoholism before people could start whispering about where I had been for a month or my poor behavior in the past. I’ve tried to own my side of the street, and took back my narrative before others tried to construe the truth- or think their words would break me.
I’ve noticed how gossip isn’t necessarily meant to be malicious or cruel toward other people, though. As a person who used to have a habit of taking everything personally, I was deeply hurt when people gossiped about me. Whether it was a flat out lie or laughing at my misfortune, I withdrew from connecting with people out of fear. For years I kept to myself and avoided interaction whenever possible.
This all began to change when I moved to the city. In San Francisco, being quirky was widely accepted. In New York, it was encouraged to drink during the day. In Boston, well, people were more concerned with themselves than even giving you a second glance, let alone gossip.
Now back in my hometown of 14,000 people in the city proper, of course gossip runs wild. Whether it’s school board scandal or frowning on changes in the community, people thrive on the dirt. They feed off of it.
I’ve learned an important lesson though- one even more pertinent than owning my narrative:
A lot of people use gossip to connect.
They talk about others to feel heard. They whisper about people behind their backs to gain some sort of validation from their peers.
Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.
Connection is a powerful thing, but a lot of people aren’t comfortable with sharing their own truth. They connect based on other people, shallow aspects of life, and material gain. They judge other people by what they have or what they’ve accomplished, but not what’s inside their soul.
Today, I connect based on truth.
I’ve been invited to meet old friends and I’ve received messages from acquaintances who are merely curious about my personal life. I’m aware not all of these people truly care about me as a person, but they do care about what sort of drama or problems I may have.
It’s okay, though- I’ve beat them to it.
I’ve already shared what’s really going on with me throughout the web, and I hope to have more opportunities to share my story with the world. Whether it’s public speaking or writing, I know my experiences have helped people learn they’re not alone in their struggles.
My own struggles have brought me strength, for I have overcome them. Gossip may still be low vibe energy, and it’s not something I will participate in today. I wish the best for those who have snickered behind my back or tried to watch me fall; because today, I continue to rise. I hope they find their own way of doing so, too.
I met Chelsea Toler-Hoffmann over a decade ago when I was working at her parent’s law firm in Austin, Texas.
We kept in touch over the years and always tried to catch up when she and her mother, Shawn, visited the East Coast to meet with clients. They are a joy to spend time with, so I was excited to see the family this past spring in Boston’s Back Bay to chat about life and their newest venture- a Family Foundation.
Chelsea now serves as the President of The Keep Families Giving Foundation, an Austin-based organization created to unite a new generation of philanthropists- something we both feel strongly about.
“You’re never too young to become a philanthropist. Whether you’re passionate about a cause as a teenager or are looking to contribute family funds later in life, there are endless ways to get involved,” Chelsea told me.
I had the opportunity to ask her a few questions about the organization, her plans for the year, and hopes for the future.
How did you and your family decide to start a family foundation?
While my family has always been passionate about giving back to our community, the loss of my grandmother, the matriarch of our family, really served as the catalyst for the decision to start our family’s foundation. After her passing, I decided there was no better way to honor her than to transition into the role of serving as the President of the Keep Families Giving Foundation and to help other families identify their giving passions to better pursue their philanthropy journeys.
We are unique in that many family foundation’s are passed down from multiple generations and incorporate legacy as well as giving into their purpose. Some of these foundations have strict guidelines on what they will fund and give to and or have specific focus areas that each generation must learn to honor their family’s traditions. For our family, I had the unique opportunity to co-found this foundation along with my parents and really co-create what our foundation would focus on/give to. Together we developed our mission to cultivate and educate the next generation of philanthropists while creating a collaborative community across generations and sectors for social good.
We have adopted a unique model in which our next-gen advisory board works alongside a mentor advisory board to nominate organizations and causes that they care about for KFG’s grant awards. Each next-gen philanthropist then has the unique opportunity to really explore their philanthropy passion areas and learn alongside their peers as well as mentors. Their interest areas range from film and the arts to healthcare and education.
Further, we do not limit our giving or partnerships to particular cause areas, but instead help support next-gen philanthropists in identifying and finding the causes they care about to make meaningful impact in the world.
We envision a world where the next-generation of philanthropists are provided with the education, mentorship, community, and tools needed to not only carry on their family legacy, but also champion their own social good causes and experiences.
What were you doing before you started Keep Families Giving and how does it correlate?
Prior to serving as the President of the Keep Families Giving Foundation, I had the unique opportunity to serve in I Live Here I Give Here’s, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, first development/fundraising role on a team of 6 women that helped raise $10 million in 24 hours for over 750+ nonprofit organizations in Central Texas as a part of our city’s only online giving day, Amplify Austin Day.
This unique experience helped me better understand philanthropy and the power of bringing sectors together for social good. In this role I helped work with the corporate sector on community engagement as well as family foundations that participated in the day to support many of their grantees. Helping others find their giving passions became larger than a career, but what I wanted to dedicate my life to. Together our city came together to better our city and support our local community in a unique and innovative way.
After my time at I Live Here I Give Here, I felt prepared to transition into leading my own family’s foundation and continuing my lifelong purpose of helping others find their giving passions and pursue their philanthropy journeys to better the world.
What are your plans for this next year?
We are thrilled to announce we will be launching our city’s first InterGEN Summit on February 29th-March 1st in Austin, Texas. This summit will bring together 150+ foundation, family office, university, nonprofit, and corporate leaders from around the globe for a unique opportunity to test, co-create, and innovate more impactful philanthropic models and solutions for change. This years’ summit will focus on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Our goal for the gathering is to inspire doing good together while establishing Austin as an innovative philanthropy hub for the rest of the world, just in time to kick off SXSW!
For our keynote conversation, we will hear from powerful philanthropic families like Jim Epstein (the great, great grandson of James Gamble — co-founder of Procter and Gamble, and the grandson of Clarence Gamble — the founder of Pathfinder International) from the Gamble Family about how they have successfully engaged many generations in their community work in partnership with a nonprofit organization their family founded, Pathfinder International. This will serve as a great example of the importance of the SDG goal — 17 Partnerships. Since the next-gen advisory board has selected the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as our theme for this year, all of our speakers will incorporate one or more of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals into their sessions.
We look forward to learning a great deal from hosting this inaugural summit about how to better our world when we work together across generations and sectors for change.
How can people get involved?
We will have various events and programs available to get involved in throughout the year. You can identify a next-gen board member that shares similar passions and connect to them by sending a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are also always open to partnerships and or collaborations if you might want to work together on a social good initiative.
We are also in need of volunteers and a few mission aligned sponsor for our upcoming spring summit. You can learn more about this by reaching out to me directly at email@example.com.
What fuels your passion for giving back?
Seeing others find causes and initiatives they care about and then being able to make real change in these areas. Every person deserves to understand the gift of generosity.
Your voice and your passions matter — together we can make real impact in the world.
You can connect with Keep Families Giving on Facebook, Instagram, or register for the Intergen Philanthropy Summitvia the links below. Use discount code KFG20 for 20% Off: