My latest article has been published on Manifest Station! It tells the heartbreak that led to the night I finally claimed my identity as a dancer - and won my first dance contest! Click HERE or the photo above!
I love when entrepreneurs post their yearly earnings. That kind of transparency demystifies MONEY (trigger!) and creates positive community based on sharing, rather than cloak & daggers.
But these numbers don't tell the story you really need to hear.
Someone could be grossing half a million dollars and netting in the negative due to overhead (i.e. building rentals, big staff) or poor investment/saving (MONEY trigger!)
Specifying net profit is a fix.
But it's still not the story.
What you're actually looking for is
Lifestyle: the Real Measure of Success
Someone could be netting six figures by hunching over her computer 80 hours a week, piling up take-out containers, and giving herself that adrenal thing that's trendy right now. (Whatever happened to peanut allergy? Is that still going on?)
Or, someone could be balling like Leonie Dawson, who's probably going to break a million this year while on the 20-minute workweek. (Okay, more like 15-20 hour, but seriously...)
Her story is eye-popping, but you don't need to be a 7-figure maven to rock the baller life.
How does this one sound?
- never use an alarm clock again
- don't take business calls before noon
- do a card reading in the middle of the day because you feel like it
- take an afternoon hike whenever you want
- play hooky with your boyfriend and eat pie all day
- take a trip to Vegas - tomorrow
- get bored at home and decide to work...here:
Or how about here:
Yes. This is my life.
I'm not a millionaire (yet) but I sure wear boots on bean bags like one.
Because why are we really working? So that we can see the numbers go up in our bank account? Yeah, actually that's valid.
But it's more than that. You and I both know it.
For you it could be to provide for your children.
So you can have something to call your own.
So you can buy the dream house you and your husband drool over.
For me it's freedom.
It's to be able to hashtag things like #slanteyesforthewin and not worry that someone's going to call me into their office for a PC lecture.
It's so I can never face those devil initials A.M. again.
It's so I can hire amazing staff and provide abundance for young people I believe in.
I believe in redemption.
I learned how to make amends and live with integrity by recently living with someone who, 9 years ago, almost died from alcohol, coke and meth.
I believe in second chances.
I, too, didn't want to die. Even in the moments when I thought I would.
I have felt the rage at being so unloved you wonder if you were born just so someone could hate you.
I have fallen into the hole in my heart and couldn't crawl out for 12 hours.
I've had the wave subsume me until I was nothing but a body of pain.
And I've crawled back from the dead.
I've been loved until my brokenness was okay.
I've watched the face of God in my dog's burnt umber eyes.
I've stood and been seen.
Whatever it is, this is life.
This is you.
You were meant to live.
No matter how many times you die, you will rise.
Stop Being a Pansy
In 5 Totally Spiritually-Approved Steps
(Warning: this post contains language anyone over the age of 3 with access to a TV or internet will have heard.)
Admit it. You're a pansy.
It's okay, we all are.
You know what I'm a pansy about?
People ask me all the time why I live in Los Angeles instead of my native New York. It's not because I like NYC less - in fact I feel more like myself at home. But I stay hiding out west because I'm absolutely terrified of anything below 50 degrees.
I haven't seen my dad in almost a year and a half, and it's going to be even longer because I refuse to plan a trip until the Big Thaw.
It doesn't stop there. I'm a wuss with even bigger things. Like submitting my writing.
I'm a storytelling coach and produced playwright. I've been editing professionally for over a decade.
And I'm still terrified. I rely on jealousy and competition to light a big enough fire underneath my pansy ass, but barring that, I just sit, fret, and eat another piece of stone-ground chocolate.
Let's stop this. You go first.
How To Stop Being a Pansy
1) Accept your pansiness
The Course in Miracles a.k.a. Awesomest Book Ever tells us we're God's children and our natural state is blameless, forgiven, and fearless.
I'm not entirely convinced. It feels more like 80% of the time we're walking around like traumatized children, one playground fight away from road raging in our SUVs or crying inconsolably in a cocoon of blankets and unwashed hair. This number rises to 99% if you're a writer.
2) Realize that your pansiness is what's standing between you and your ultimate life.
Do you want to get into a better college than you ever dreamed you could?
Being a pansy won't get you there.
Do you want to have an awesome girlfriend?
Being a pansy won't help you call her.
Do you want to raise more funds this month than you have all year?
You know the drill. Don't be a pansy.
3) Determine how much pansiness is okay.
For me, being a weather wuss is totally fine. So is being terrified of $3000 a month studios and the 2 hours it takes to get back to Queens after midnight on the maybe-running F line.
But being a pansy in my career is not okay. Anytime I fear myself into procrastination, that's another day, week, month wasted on inaction.
Being a pansy with my writing is not okay. I came right out and told some fellow writers about my hesitation and one of them offered to apply her boot firmly to my rear. My very wussy rear. I immediately said yes.
4) Reveal your pansiness everywhere - help is all around
That brings us to the vital step. Once you've weeded out your acceptable pansiness from the holding-up-my-life pansiness, show your panties. Tell those you trust your fears and complacencies. If they're strong enough to lift you up out of your mire of negative self-talk and endless chocolate, let them.
5) Lastly, fuck the haters.
This one is the hardest to deal with.
That's why Step 3 is to tell THOSE YOU TRUST. Not everyone needs to know you're a pansy. (Unlike this blog post, which I should probably reconsider posting in public.)
You may get cited by the spiritual police. I was publicly singled out for using words like "pansy-ass" during a very un-pansy moment of sharing my fears and my truth.
A clear sign there's a pansiness epidemic is that people don't want to talk about it. Or maybe they don't like seeing a woman using words that are okay for a guy to say.
Being censured almost stopped me. My pansy side took over and I wanted to lay down in fetal position and rock for the next 3 days, screw the chocolate. "Somebody doesn't like me!"
But I remembered the blog voice I admire the most: terribleminds. Chuck Wendig regularly uses fouler language that what's in this post and just last week lovingly accused his readers of suffering from a Twitter-transmitted brain parasite. He doesn't worry what people think and the internet flocks to him in droves, reposting his incisiveness by the thousand.
You'll hit bad nerves. You'll hit good ones.
But if you're a pansy, you won't hit anything at all.
Raise your hand if you had that annoying genius cousin your parents always compared you to. (Oh are you Chinese too?)
Mine is pretty unbeatable:
Name: Genius Chang (not his real name)
Grade Skipped: 1st
Instruments Played: piano, violin, clarinet
# Ivy Leagues Accepted Into: ALL of them
Even I was so impressed that I wanted to marry Genius Chang. Then I grew up and discovered you can't marry your cousin. (At least not in New York.)
Because he was out of my league, I never tried to compete with Genius - except in one thing.
When I was 4, I watched him read an entire book as easy as speaking, then throw the book at me.
"Here, you read." He sauntered off.
But I couldn't.
That night I demanded my parents teach me to read.
Over the Berenstain Bears HE BEAR, SHE BEAR, my parents helped me turn print into gold.
Women especially shy away from competition: writers blog about the pain of jealousy and extol the virtues of going at our own pace; entrepreneurs advise us to follow our own paths and not be distracted by the success of others.
Fine - if you're OVERLY focused on others, life gets painful.
But this mantra of keeping our eyes on our own page also sucks the juice out of what makes us human - that we're social creatures who NEED to see the success of others in order to realize how high we ourselves can go.
Tweet it! We're social creatures who NEED to see the success of others in order to realize how high we can go.
If I hadn't been so envious of Genius's ability to conjure stories from squiggles, who knows how long it would have taken me to unlock this world of words I now consider my purpose in life.
If I hadn't been livid at a gal pal's weight loss a few years ago, I wouldn't have finally found the motivation to lose 15 pounds and regain not only my figure but my self-confidence and ability to dance again.
And if I didn't get jealously obsessed of every woman who's making six-figures working part-time from home, I wouldn't keep hustling and improving myself, my vision, and my work.
Don't fear the voice that says, "Damn them, why not me?" That's exactly what the voice is asking:
"Why not, You?"
And for the record:
Name: Sophia Chang (real name)
Grade Skipped: 12th
Instruments Played: Piano, violin, guitar, mallet percussion, voice
College Genius AND Sophia chose: Harvard
Thank you, Genius Chang, for always giving me something to reach for - and surpass.
Ready to turn jealousy and ego into your minions? SIGN UP for The Experiment 2015 HERE!
When I first got to Hollywood, I wanted to be Christina Aguilera's back-up dancer.
I threw myself into ballet and hip-hop classes, even this thing called Pilates until I developed bursitis and had no idea how to rehab it. So I put my dream away.
Then The Universe Happened
In 2005, FOX debuted a reality show called So You Think You Can Dance.
I saw a Paso Doble for the first time, with a real Russian ballroom dancer. I finally realized the genius that is Wade Robson, who at that time was little more than a bleach-haired white kid from Orange County who purportedly danced like a black guy. I cried after every piece, in awe that this kind of dance was finally on network TV.
Something in me stirred. I wanted to dance again, bad.
Getting the Call
The Universe has a way of responding to requests.
I received a recommendation to a trainer who knew exactly how to rehab my bursitis (as well as a car accident injury I had further accumulated in Hollywood.) I went to the gym every day. In months I was stronger than I had ever been.
And that summer, as I dreamed in front of the TV, I got the call.
My agency phoned me with an audition for an untitled film directed by Julie Taymor (Frida, Broadway's The Lion King) featuring songs by the Beatles.
For a dancing role.
"But these are professional dancers!"
"You're a professional dancer," the agent replied.
After two sets of three-hour auditions and an amazing phone call later, I was indeed, a professional dancer.
That movie, you may have guessed, turned out to be Across the Universe, starring Evan Rachel Wood.