Hey Friend! Welcome to the inaugural edition of Soul F.U.E.L. I’m so grateful to be invited into your sanctuary. I know Sundays are sacred – whether for time with loved ones, friends, yourself, in stillness, play, or prep for the week to come. Whatever it means to you, I honor that and hope this adds a little warmth, inspiration, and soulfulness to the mix.
It’s no coincidence that I’m kicking off this passion project in Fall. It’s my favorite season because boots, scarves, and cozy everything. Not to mention that my beloved color orange makes a dramatic appearance in foliage and fires and pumpkins. There’s also a more profound seasonal connection for me. I recently had my “colors” done, meaning an expert exploration into the palette that allows the authentic me to be seen and experienced by others. Does it surprise anyone that I’m what they call a “Spicy Autumn”? (Well, the spicy part anyway!) You’ll notice that I’m wearing more and more of those rich autumnal colors in my pics (and in real life) as part of my ongoing transformation. It feels edgy and yet I’m experiencing a noticeable difference in my presence in the world. I’m telling you, being seen for your true self is powerful beyond belief. I’m happy to share more with anyone who’s interested.
Before you venture on, please know that nothing I talk about here is a paid endorsement of any kind. It’s simply me sharing with you what I’m buzzing about in the moment. This edition is a little long because (spoiler alert) I’m sharing an excerpt from my book, Soulbbatical: A Corporate Rebel’s Guide to Finding Your Best Life. So, grab a cuppa and settle in….
WHO OR WHAT IS INTRIGUING ME AT THE MOMENT
OK, this may sound silly or self-serving, but I promise it comes from a humble, almost incredulous, place. What’s intriguing me in this moment is that I just finished my book! Like, as of this week it’s 100% done and edited, cover to cover. It feels surreal. I still remember hiring my book coach in late January of this year and saying to her, “I’ve never written anything longer than a term paper in University. How the hell do you write a 200+ page book?” Bird by bird as it turns out.
For those of you who might not know that reference, it’s from Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. If you haven’t read it, please do. It’s a brilliant guide for how to get started on anything in life that feels so overwhelming you don’t even know how to take the first step. In my words: break it down into bite-sized pieces and start with the smallest action step possible to gain some momentum. That’s exactly what I did – with some phenomenal coaching and a few breakdowns along the way – and seven months later a 5-page outline became a 220-ish page book. If I can do it, so can you. Whatever your version of “it” is.
As a way to celebrate the completion, and express my gratitude, I’m sharing a book excerpt exclusively with this community. I’ve never done this before (and I haven’t mentioned it to Simon & Schuster), so we’re going rogue together. The rebel in me is happy to ask for forgiveness, not permission.
This story is from the early days of Soulbbatical. I went to stay with good friends who run a beautiful B&B in the tiny village of Sainte-Hermine, France. I was learning so many lessons, not the least of which the importance of slowing down and having fun:
“I was choosing Human Being over Human Doing.
One of the memories-cum-lessons that brought it all into focus for me was my first bike ride with Shari’s seven-year-old son, Jacobi. He’s an old soul bursting with young energy. Outside of school, you could pretty much always find him imagining elaborate dinner parties in the garden, entertaining guests of the B&B with his dance moves, cartwheeling his way across the backyard, or doing double backflips on the trampoline. He also loved to ride his bike into the countryside. It was refreshing to see kids in the wild again, creating their own fun, not slaves to a screen. Kind of like those of us who grew up back in the middle ages, with analog everything.
On the first Saturday after breakfast, Jacobi asked Shari if he could take me on a bike ride, just the two of us. I loved the idea, not only because this precocious little ginger had already stolen my heart, but also because I was desperate for some exercise. A steady diet of the OG superfoods—wine, bread, cheese, meat, and olives—was threatening to slingshot the top button of my jeans into the eye of an innocent bystander. Shari didn’t miss a beat in saying yes. She trusted her kid and knew it would be an adventure for me.
Within minutes, we were in the garage gearing up. Before I could even get our water bottles into the saddlebags of the three-speed cruiser, Jacobi took off like a bull out of a chute. His mini mountain bike kicked up a cloud of dust as he powered through the gravel toward the front gate, screaming, “C’mon, Shelley! Let’s go!” I looked back at Shari for any words of advice, but she just waved and shouted, “Have fun, kids!”
I scrambled to catch up with Jacobi and, just like that, we were off. We pedaled through a park, up a hill, past more quaint stone homes, across miles of open fields, under a viaduct and off the beaten path through some dense trees. We’d been riding for well over an hour when suddenly Jacobi stopped. He looked perplexed.
“Do you know where we are?” I asked, dreading the answer.
“Yes,” he replied confidently. “I want to show you this cute little babbling brook with a bridge, and I thought it was here. I think we have to go a bit farther into the woods.”
“Have you been there before? Are you sure this is the right way?”
“I found it with my dad one time. You’ll love it. We can put our feet in the water.” He was so excited to share his discovery with me. I couldn’t bring myself to tell him I was worried this magical brook might not actually exist. The urban cynic in me was already envisioning the headline: “American Executive Loses Self and Local Child in Vain Search for Soul.” My inner control freak, on orange alert, besieged my brain with pleas to call this kids’ bluff and turn back before we became dinner for French wolves. (Not that we had seen one. For all I knew, they were as imaginary as the babbling brook we were seeking.)
Admittedly, my sense of direction is less than stellar. I’m the type who gets lost on a city grid. I respond with a blank stare if someone gives me directions that involve the words “north, south, east, west.” I may as well be trying to find the Big Dipper in daylight. So I knew I wouldn’t be the one getting us back to Manoir du Moulin if we were, in fact, lost.
But this was Jacobi’s backyard. His playground. It was my invitation from the Universe to trust and surrender. And to learn French children’s songs from an adventurous Canadian ginger in the blissful middle of nowhere. You can’t script these moments.
And sure enough, after another twenty or thirty minutes of riding, we heard water. There it was: a picturesque little bridge and brook, just as Jacobi had promised. We jumped off our bikes, high-fived each other, and let our toes mingle in the water with the tadpoles and the frogs.
I was literally being a kid. Letting go. And it felt amazing.
We played on the rocks for ages. I lost track of time. It didn’t matter. I trusted that we were in the exact right place, doing exactly what we were supposed to be doing. And that Jacobi instinctively knew his way home. We had plenty of hours of sunlight still to enjoy.
I chuckled as I imagined a conversation in my head:
Me: What’s the worst than can happen?
Myself: The adventure continues.
I: Exactly. (Hat tip to the Universe.)
Not only did we make it back to Manoir du Moulin with no problem, we went on two more biking expeditions while I was there. Each time a new route, a new discovery, a new adventure. I was leaning hard into these priceless reminders to let go, slow down, and embrace my inner child more often.”
WHAT’S GOT MY ORANGE HIGHLIGHTER IN OVERDRIVE
I can’t put down Marie Forleo’s new book, Everything is Figureoutable. There have been more than a few moments while reading it where I paused and thought, “Damn, I wish I wrote that” or “I’m totally using that tool with my clients.” Truth.
The deep-seated belief that “everything is figureoutable” was ingrained into Marie by her ever-resourceful mom when she was a child. Marie realized over time that it had become the master key to her own unorthodox road to success. Her approach is inspiring yet practical, and always funny. This book helps you tackle time and money excuses, learn how to face fear and push through it, get real about your dreams, chase progress over perfection, and so much more. There are many gems in the book, but one of my favorite lines is this: “Everything is figureoutable doesn’t promise a life free from pain, just one free from regret.” It’s a book about not giving up. It made my soul sing not the least of which because it has an awful lot in common with Soulbbatical.
In case you’re curious, up next on my bookshelf are the following: The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates, Radical Candor by Kim Scott, Indistractable by Nir Ayal, and Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday. I’m so excited to get back into the rhythm of devouring books now that my own is in the hopper! Let me know which of these sounds the most intriguing to you and I’ll be sure to include my takeaways in upcoming newsletters. (For those of you who may not know, my book jam tends to be non-fiction with a bent toward personal and leadership development and motivation. Probably not a huge surprise.)
WHO/WHAT/WHERE IS GIVING ME ROCKET FUEL
How can I not talk about sitting in the same room with Brené Brown for 3 days?! Liz Gilbert has said that meeting your heroes can be a dangerous thing, but not in this case at all. Brené is exactly as you would imagine in person – witty, wise, and warm. She models every damn bit of what she writes about with such incredible and relatable humanity. The woman is pure gold with boundaries of steel. Case in point, the pic above was the only opportunity we got to personally interact with her. No 1-on-1 at all. She’s clear about how introverted she is and how important the breaks are for her to re-energize (as opposed to being mauled by a group of gushing fans on the way to the restroom).
The training was to become a certified facilitator of her Dare to LeadTM work – essentially the work of creating wholehearted and courageous leaders in the world (based on Brené’s work around authenticity, courage, vulnerability, trust, belonging, and rising strong). This stuff lights my soul on fire; the opportunity to shift the face of leadership and corporate culture. I’m excited to bring this to one-on-one and group coaching as well as larger workshops within corporations. (Let me know if you’re interested!)
In the meantime, here are some nuggets ‘o wisdom I picked up over the three days:
1. Live in beta. (Stay in action and iteration to avoid the paralysis of perfectionism.)
2. Be uncool. (This is the real currency of curiosity. Take the risk.)
3. Teach people how to treat you. (Model what you need in every aspect of your life. #boundaries)
4. Don’t be a cover band. (You can’t live a wholehearted and courageous life trying to be someone else. Be 100% you.)
5. Put more love and power around getting it right, not being right. (Your “not knowing” is a superpower. Use it.)
6. You can’t be brave and certain at the same time. (Dive into the discomfort of vulnerability.)
If you’re new to Brené, a very easy and accessible place to start is with her Netflix special, the “Call to Courage.” From there I would tell you to dive into her books The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, and Rising Strong. They’ve changed my life and my leadership style.
PODCAST EPISODES, VIDEOS, OR WORDS OF WISDOM FROM MY TRIBE
It’s official. I’m addicted to Jay Shetty. He goes on nearly every walk with me these days (well, virtually anyway) as I soak up the wisdom of his brilliant podcast, On Purpose. If you don’t know him, check out the endless video content on his website and download On Purpose from any podcast platform. He’s a unique blend of British-Indian heritage, a former monk, and master host and storyteller covering timeless topics like life/love/motivation/purpose with a contemporary flair. I promise it’s not just the British accent (though I’ve never been one to complain about a little ear candy). Jay possesses the kind of warmth, depth, curiosity, and humility that you want in a best friend and a fantastic interviewer. His conversations with the likes of Brian Grazer (on communication + connection), Marc Randolph (on the life of an idea), Marie Forleo (on starting before you’re ready), Kobe Bryant (on finding and living your purpose), and Ashley Graham (on how to stop negative self-talk) are like masterclasses unto themselves. And that’s only scratching the surface. Check it out and let me know what you think!
I would love for this newsletter to be the start of a deeper conversation and community of like-minded souls. I don’t yet have a community platform set up (because, the book). So, for now, feel free to shoot me an email or jump into the conversation on Instagram. Let me know what lit your soul on fire, what shifted your perspective for the week or month 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?
Happy October, Soul Fam!