Hey Soul Fam,
Happy Belated Independence Day to those of you in the U.S. This newsletter is making a fashionably late entrance to your inbox because I decided to practice what I preach. I took the long holiday weekend to refuel and to reconnect with family for the first time since COVID came to town. Our time together was blissful – lots of floating in the pool, grilling, reading, dancing, and laughing our asses off. I hope you were all spoiling yourselves as well and didn’t even notice my absence.
Since we’re together at last, let’s not waste another minute getting this soul party started. I have so much juicy goodness to share with you! Buckle up, ladies and gents.
WHO OR WHAT IS INTRIGUING ME AT THE MOMENT
Stick with me on this one. It might feel a little “out there”, but I believe there’s a powerful lesson for all of us in my sharing of a deeply personal, and vulnerable, experience.
The experience was taking John Wineland’s “Art of Spiritual Intimacy” virtual workshop in order to reconnect with my divine feminine energy. The wild energy of expression, emotion, movement and nature. The energy I contained within my masculine corporate armor for so many decades. The energy I feared made me too big to be loved and too soft to be a leader. I was finally being called to harness its power for my work, my relationships, and the world. (I feel very passionately that we need more feminine energy leading the world right now. More Jacinda Arderns, please.)
So, I jumped in with 180 people from around the world looking to connect with their masculine or feminine energy and, for many of them, discover a deeper intimacy with their romantic partner. Throughout the practice, I found myself shedding the armor and dropping into my body – dancing, surrendering, exploring, inviting, gyrating, and crawling across the floor of my loft like a cougar on the prowl. (Yes, I left the door wide open for a cougar joke.) I felt so beautiful and feminine and seen. Ironically, I felt more powerful than ever.
At the end of the weekend, all participants were asked to create a 1-minute performance on what holds each of us back from being fully expressed in our masculine or feminine. It could be a song, interpretive dance, poem, performance art. Anything. It feels really edgy to share with you what I created and performed, so I’m leaning into it. Here goes:
BIGNESS by Shelley Paxton
I was always too big for you.
Yes, you. Every man in my life. Every husband, boyfriend, and potential suitor.
Too much like the wild swells of the ocean, like the raging winds of a monsoon, like the scorching rays of the desert sun.
You told me I was a force of nature. Too big. In every way. And I believed you.
I felt crushed and ashamed and misunderstood…and unlovable. Alone. Aching. Too big for love.
Now I understand that big is beautiful. That the vast expansiveness of the divine feminine is powerful. The movement, the energy, the beauty, the expression, the emotion, the leadership. The force that nature intended.
Now I choose to show up as “She who must be loved in her bigness and ravished in her wild feminine.”
Look out world.
This work has become a touchstone for how I’m showing up in the world and even inspired a solo podcast episode on owning our bigness. (More on the podcast in the Experiencing section below.)
If you take nothing else away from this bit – or you suspect one flew over the “woo woo” nest – I simply invite you to try something that scares you. Something that challenges a (limiting) belief you have about yourself. Play full out and be open to the possibilities it might reveal. What’s that thing you’ve been avoiding because you’re afraid of what you might discover? Yeah, that one. Do that. If I can, so can you.
(If you want to learn more about John’s work, click here. He is an absolute master in spiritual intimacy and embodied masculine leadership. And I love his philosophy: “Fuck hacking go deep.” AMEN.)
WHAT’S GOT MY ORANGE HIGHLIGHTER IN OVERDRIVE
You all know how much I loooooove to have my nose in a book. It’s not like I needed any more excuses to read. And then came my podcast (more on that below!) with inspiring guests who are also amazing authors. I’ve been diving into their stories as preparation for our conversations and, honestly, just couldn’t wait to share them with all of you. Check these out and tune in to the actual podcast episodes to get the inside scoop on these authors and their messages.
For Business and Leadership Mojo: Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow by Chip Conley
For Mid-Life Wisdom: Wisdom @ Work: The Making of a Modern Elder by Chip Conley
For Mindset: The Power of Positivity: Controlling Where The Ball Bounces by Cornell Thomas
WHO/WHAT/WHERE IS GIVING ME ROCKET FUEL
The Rebel Souls podcast is ready to launch, you guys! The first 10 episodes are in the bag. They drop on Monday, August 3rd. It’s already on every pod platform – Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, etc. – so subscribe to it wherever you listen!
ICYMI, here’s how I’m introducing Rebel Souls to the world: Ready to flip the middle finger to the status quo in life and business? Welcome home. Rebel Souls explores what it means to rebel FOR who you are, what you want, and the impact you want to have in the world. Join Shelley Paxton – Lifelong Rebel, Liberator of Souls, and Author of Soulbbatical: A Corporate Rebel’s Guide to Finding Your Best Life – as she hosts conversations with movement makers, culture creators, and game-changers who are breaking the rules and rewriting the script of success. Buckle up for some serious badassery – and a whole lot of inspiration. New episodes on Mondays.
And because I love you guys so much, here’s a SNEAK PEEK at some of my badass guests who I hope will speak to your soul as much as they did to mine. Their experience blows my mind – it ranges from playing professional sports to producing The Oprah Winfrey Show to fighting disease at The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to disrupting the hospitality industry at Joie de Vivre Hotels and AirBNB to breaking through race and gender barriers in multiple industries to influencing user experience at Facebook. The one thing they all have in common is that they’re now on a mission – rebelling FOR something bigger than themselves:
Jessica Zweig – Rebelling FOR Authenticity
Cornell Thomas – Rebelling FOR Mindset
Cheryle Jackson – Rebelling FOR Grace and Justice
Chip Conley – Rebelling FOR Aspirational Aging
Sally Lou Loveman – Rebelling FOR Stories and Connection
Christina Glickman – Rebelling FOR Unapologetic Confidence
Dr. Erin Baker – Rebelling FOR the Power and Paradox of “AND”
Rochelle Webb – Rebelling FOR the Underdog Entrepreneur
Mark-Hans Richer – Rebelling FOR Corporate Courage
Melody Miles – Rebelling FOR Freedom
And so many more.
In between some of those episodes, you’ll get a little rebel dose of yours truly riffing on juicy topics in what I’m calling my SOULisodes. Shorter, punchier solo conversations about things I’m passionate about like liberating souls, fulfillment, bigness, and possibility.
I’d be so grateful if you help me spread the word. Please share this invitation with fellow rebel souls in your life. Let’s get this REBELution started!
PODCAST EPISODES, VIDEOS, OR WORDS OF WISDOM
FROM MY TRIBE
The entire June edition of Soul F.U.E.L. was dedicated to fighting for racial justice and supporting #BlackLivesMatter. But, that wasn’t a one and done. It was only the beginning of my own personal commitment to learn, unlearn, speak out, and do better. I’d be remiss to not share how I’m continuing that challenging work every day. Holding myself accountable. And I hope I’m not alone.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but here are a few things I’m doing right now:
- Doing the work of Layla Saad’s 28-day Challenge as outlined in Me and White Supremacy. I’ll admit, I listened to a significant portion of the audio book without doing the journaling prompts, i.e. “the work”. I told myself that I wanted the lessons and questions to sink in first. And then I got to the part about White Exceptionalism – the belief that I’m not contributing to racism because I’m “one of the good ones.” HOLY SHIT. The truth of that cracked me wide open. That’s exactly what I was doing – going through the motions because I naïvely believed I wasn’t part of the problem. I was one of the “good white people.” Going back and digging into the questions, and my soul, has revealed exactly the opposite. I have been part of the silent problem.
- Taking Robin DiAngelo’s “Seeing the Racial Water” Anti-Racism workshop on July 18th. I finished reading her eye-opening book White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People to Talk About Racism, and am ready for deeper reflection and discussion at the workshop next week. A close friend of mine described the half-day experience as a transformational wake-up call. FYI: Registration is closed for the July 18th event, but Robin is offering the workshop again in September and October. Click here to learn more.
- Featuring powerful Black voices, including Cheryle Jackson, Cornell Thomas, Rochelle Webb, and Monique Atieno, on my podcast/platform. And listening deeply. Much more to come.
In other news, is anyone else feeling ready to ease back into the kind of live conversations and experiences that light your soul on fire? That inspire you to ignite the change you want to see and be? That remind you that you are seen, heard, and held by like-minded leaders? I am, too. Safely, of course. So, I’m partnering with Mike Vacanti, a powerful leader and author of the book Believership, to host an event called “The Spirit of Change” – a conversation about the need for change in these transformational times. It’ll be in Chicago on July 20th from 5-7:30p CT (safely distanced on a gorgeous outdoor rooftop in Fulton Market). We’ll also be livestreaming the conversation globally. Register here if you can join us and share your story.
I’m here for each and every one of you. Shoot me an email and let me know what lit your soul on fire, what shifted your perspective for the weeks or months ahead, or how I can support you in any way.
And don’t be shy. If you love what you’re reading, share it with friends, family, clients, and colleagues who need a little more Soul Fuel in their lives. I mean, in this day and age, don’t we all?
Stay safe and soul-full my friends. And please do whatever you can to make a difference in whatever part of the country or world you’re in. Lots of love.