Make Sh*t Happen

Made Sh*t Happen -- Q&A with Shannyn Allan: From Broke Grad Student to Rockstar Blogger

I've been working like a maniac for the last two weeks to get all kinds of big updates ready for you -- more to come in my mega year-end wrap-up post next week! One of the major projects is getting ready to kick-off the biggest, baddest, most awesome Make Sh*t Happen course yet in January (with the help of launch genius Melissa Anzman). It will be the fourth time I take a group through the course; seeing people come alive through the pursuit of what really matters to them is truly one of the tip-top highlights of my work.

Today I'm excited to introduce you to a long-time blog reader, coaching client, and MSH Alum -- Shannyn Allen -- to share her inspiring journey from broke grad student to successful blogger and speaker.

What I love about Shannyn is her vulnerability -- watching her find her confidence and her true gifts and the courage to share them with the world has been a inspiration to me. This woman is gutsy, brazen, determined and bold -- and is an amazing example of what is possible when you set your sights on something scary, then take the steps to actually make it happen.

Made Sh*t Happen: Q&A with Shannyn Allan

ABOUT: Describe your goal in more detail – what did it involve? What inspired you to go after it?

Shannyn Allen - getting ready to speak at FINCON this yearWhen I started the Make Sh*t Happen course I desperately wanted to make my blog, Frugal Beautiful, the “real deal.” It seemed like an impossible dream to build a blog that was successful like the bloggers I looked up to. They made real money from their blog, and their blog made other dreams (like working from home, travel, etc.) a possibility. I had been blogging for about a year but it felt like it wasn’t as successful as others that inspired me.

I wanted to be a rockstar blogger -- someone who was getting recognition by big brands for ads and sponsorships, who were pulling in $1000+ in extra income a month with extra perks like invites to conferences and fun freebies (like getting test driving cars or staying at new hotels to provide feedback on their blog).

This wasn’t just a matter of pride or ego -- I knew that if I could get my blog to work, it would help me pay my bills and stretch a tight budget. There was a lot on the line and a lot of longing to make it work!

FEAR/DOUBTS: What were your biggest fears, doubts and insecurities before starting? What barriers (real or imagined) were in your way?

I was scared that if I committed my money and time to becoming a problogger that I could fail, and fail hard. I was worried that I would have wasted money on a professional designer or that I’d feel like a loser if people ignored my posts or my ad pitches.

My biggest fear about trying to be a problogger was emulating the people that inspired me. Before I truly, honestly committed to the goal of being a rockstar problogger it was easy to feel inspired by other bloggers that had books published, started their own businesses or made enough money on their blogs to work for themselves, but after I started trying to emulate them myself it made me feel vulnerable.

For the first time in my life, after taking action to become who I wanted to be, I was worried that if I failed, I was an honest failure. I feared if I confronted the character of success and didn’t win, I would have lacked the grit to be a success. I feared I would discover I was nothing like my heroes and never could be.

COURAGE: How did you build the courage to actually do it? How did you know it was time?

I had seen that other bloggers were building a business for themselves with ad revenue, products, book deals and were getting noticed by big brands to bring in sponsorships and freebies.

They made a living doing what I loved -- blogging! Not only did the money appeal to me (as a broke grad student) but I wanted the perks and lifestyle though I knew it would hard work. The turning point came when I was tired of being mediocre, or “hobby blogging” and wanted more for myself and my blog.

SUPPORT: Who held you accountable to your goal? Were friends and family supportive, or did they think you were crazy?

Most of my family and friends didn’t understand my goal to make money from my blog -- they thought it was just a hobby. I knew from the MSH course that it was vital to enlist the help of others.

I made blogger friends, reached out to others via email and attended any conferences I could. I realized that if the support wasn’t there when I started, then I would have to build those supports myself if I were to succeed.

THE DIP: Was there ever a moment/period if time that you felt you had hit a dip (felt like a failure and/or wanted to quit)?

Uh, YES! There were off-months when my ad revenue fell through or traffic sucked. Then, when I decided to make my first product to sell, it was so overwhelming -- trying to figure out how to write it, how to edit video, what marketing techniques I should use, setting up a site, etc. that I wanted to give up numerous times -- I would work on a post for hours that got zero comments or I would write up a great marketing proposal for a major brand to find that they’d changed their mind or no longer had a budget.  There were times I would take the dips personally, and since blogging is our personal creation, if the site didn’t succeed, I wasn’t succeeding.

The biggest dip was consistently facing down the potential for failure in both small and big tasks. Each time I faced potential failure I had to enlist the support of others to remind myself it wasn’t the end of the world and it was an opportunity to learn and grow -- that no failure is definitive.

Now, my traffic has doubled, I finished my very first product to launch, I’m running my own social media consulting gig as I figure out the next steps, and my blog successfully scored me some big-ticket sponsorship to travel and have fun! It was worth the work and the dips, no doubt.

ADVICE: What advice would you give to future Make Sh*t Happeners?

1. Start a blog and commit its purpose to align with yours: It doesn’t matter what you blog about, the right blog can bolster your goals by giving you some fun money, a community of supportive readers and friends and a place to jot ideas down and keep track of your goals.

2. Be brave and tell your story: I was afraid that being too personal on the blog would get me laughed at. I was afraid that marketing my blog to advertisers would get me rejected (ouch!) or that I wasn’t good enough. People love compelling content -- tell your story and make connections around it!

3. Reach out and stretch out: If you want to make money from your blog, get famous or have a blog that’s book-worthy, whatever your goal -- tell people about it! Go to conferences, ask to talk to major brands/publishers/sponsors to get their support. It’s uncomfortable to ask for support, help or funding but you have to do it!

4. Hire a professional: If your blog isn’t getting the traction you want, hire a designer. I also advise anyone to read up on great books by Seth Godin, listen in to Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income Podcast and take any online courses by Corbett Barr...all of these helped me get to where I’m at.

When I started MSH I was terrified to admit that my big dream was being a problogger and having a brand of my own -- I thought that was a silly goal, but it was mine. Then, when I admitted it to the world, it seemed impossible, but now that I have my first product coming out, my blogging business has come full circle. Jenny & my MSH community really pushed me to embrace the challenge and go all in.

Whatever your big dream -- start today. Push, push, push. When you turn around, you will not believe the amazing sh*t you made happen in a few months time!

More about Shannyn

Shannyn AllenShannyn started Frugal Beautiful when she was a broke and struggling grad student in a new city. Eventually, this little blog lead her to quit a job, change careers and start her own social media consulting business, Cake Mix Media, to supplement her work as a blogger. Her first product, Rockstar Blogging, is geared to help any blogger get their first $1K in free products, sponsorships and direct ads to supplement and fund their passions no matter where they start.

In addition to Shannyn's Rockstar Blogging guide, those of you interested in starting a blog might also be interested in Corbett Barr's Start a Blog That Matters, Dave Ursillo's Literati Writing Group, and Make Sh*t Happen of course! No matter what, for more details and a jump at early enrollment, sign-up to be notified when the MSH doors re-open in January.

Inner Critic Incarnate: 6 Lessons From Negative Reviews (Hint: They Don't Kill You!)

It was early 2009 and I felt like my book was being suffocated by fear. Scratch that -- I was actively suffocating my book WITH my fears. They had the Microsoft Word file in a choke hold for almost six months and they weren't letting up. I remember going for one of my weekly walks with my dad and I told him I thought my book was crap. A pile of meaningless clichés. He swiftly corrected me, saying that even if I didn't finish it -- even if I published it that very day -- it would help people. And that I would be crazy to give up on it. At the time, about five percent of me knew he was right. So I clung to that five percent like my life depended on it.

My fears around putting my ideas out to the world seemed insurmountable. Somehow they ballooned in my mind to an alternate reality universe where as soon as my book hit the shelves, people would start pointing and laughing at me, calling me a motivational hack who didn't know anything and who had no right to write a book.

Inner Critic Incarnate

Much to my amazement and delight, when my book finally did come out in March of last year it was celebrated by friends, family and all of you, and strangers started to hear about it too. Glowing reviews poured in on Amazon, and the next year Target picked up 15,000 copies for their stores.

I'm also proud to report that I am now earning royalties, which many books never do. My first $10 check came in last month and I couldn't be more proud. I had the honor of being the closing keynote at Find Your Passion conference at Pratt this past weekend, and was overjoyed to meet several readers who said the book really helped them through a tough time.

I've had a few throw-tomatoes-at-me reviews, but thankfully not many.

The other day another one-star review came in . . . and it bore an UNCANNY resemblance to the very same negative reviews I was giving myself during the great writer's block of 2009.

Many people would probably advise me not to give it the time of day by airing it out on the blog -- but this one taught me some important lessons that I would be remiss not to share.

First, for your (re)viewing pleasure:

If you've never thought about anything ever this book is for you I got 300 pages of what seemed like listening to a complete moron talk about how stupid they are (my interpretation). Seriously, 90% of the advice this woman gives is completely laughable as I would expect anyone who's made it through college to already know these things. Her advice on dating and relationships are embarrassingly naive; they sound like a self-important 14 year old girl talking to her 8 year old sister about love. Please. What's more, it's shocking someone with so many problems is a life coach. This woman is crazy, like the type of person you just try to have little to nothing to do with because of her stability issues (I wouldn't be surprised if she lies crying on the ground for hours after reading this review).

The idea of a review like this TERRIFIED me back then.

But imagine -- if I had walked away from my book just to avoid a review like this -- nobody would have read it. No one would have benefitted. For every one review like this, there are 20+ emails or interactions that share what a positive impact the book did have in someone's life. And you know what? This reviewer has EVERY right to hate my book! I will be the first to tell you that it's not for everyone.

If I had shut myself down because of fear, I would have given away all of my power. I would have never finished (or even started) my book. I would have caved to cowardice.

I would have said that a future negative reviewer's opinion of me is more important than my own. And I am better than that. We all are.

I'm not here to rip this reviewer apart. I appreciate him more than he probably realizes. Nor am I crying in a ball on the floor (though I will say it stung). I am actually celebrating.

Here's why . . .

6 Things I've Learned From Negative Reviews:

  1. They show that you've DONE something. You've created something. You've pushed through your fear to ship something that matters to you.
  2. Your work has spread to a wide enough audience to get real, honest feedback from people who aren't on your payroll (friends, family, people who love us no matter what).
  3. Negative reviews will come in, but guess what? THEY DON'T KILL YOU! Shocking, right? Our inner critics would have us believe the world will come crashing down, but it doesn't. They might sting, but that's it. It's no gaping wound.
  4. It's an opportunity to re-examine what you DO like about your work AND what you don't. The review can't hurt unless you agree with it on some level. Use that information to make your work better next time. Is there anything you would do differently?
  5. Negative reviews are a sign that you've done something different enough to piss someone off. Points for creativity!
  6. I am LUCKY to have the "champagne problem" of a few negative reviews. Of reviews at all! I am very grateful my work is out there, and that it has garnered as much interest and support as it has.

So, I'd like to say thank you to the people who have taken the time to give me a review at all. To read my work and care about it enough to talk about it to others; out of 108 reviews, 4 one-stars 'aint bad.

If we spend our lives just avoiding criticism, then we're not living much at all.

As one of my former Google colleagues David Kim often reminded me, "Don't let compliments go to your head, or let criticism get to your heart."

I'd love to hear from you in the comments: how do you handle negative reviews? Anything I missed in terms of what we can learn from them?

Made Sh*t Happen: How Devin Termini lost 85 Pounds and Changed His Life

I got a message this weekend that dropped my jaw to the floor. Longtime LAC reader and two-time Make Sh*t Happen alumni, Devin Termini, had triumphantly reached his goal of losing 85 pounds (!!!) in just ten months. Check out this amazing before-and-after photo:

Beast mode indeed!! As part of the course, I provide 50+ case studies of people doing amazing things -- big thanks to Devin for graciously agreeing to make his public! I hope you enjoy the interview below and following his journey as much as I have :)

Before we jump in: the Fall Make Sh*t Happen course is still open for enrollment until Sunday, August 5 (or until the 50 spots fill up). If Devin's story resonates and you've got a big idea of you're own that you'd love to activate, I would be thrilled to have you join us!

Interview with Devin Termini: How I Lost 85 Pounds in 10 Months

ABOUT: Describe your goal in more detail - what did it involve? What inspired you to go after it? During my time in Make Sh*t Happen I declared that I would lose 85 pounds in ten months. My milestone for the end of the MSH course was to lose 30 pounds in eight short weeks.

COURAGE: How did you build the courage to actually do it? How did you know it was time? A favorite nugget of Jenny Blake wisdom is that so much of confidence (and courage) is a choice. For so long I was waiting to be "ready" to take on this goal. I would tell myself that I'd lose weight when if "felt right."

For me, I had to make peace with the fact that there is no right time. It will never feel right. I had let myself go and there was no easy way to climb out of the hole I had dug for myself.

VALUES: Why was this goal important to you? What purpose did it serve? What underlying values did it honor? I've always known that achieving this goal would be the catalyst to a larger life change. I want to live vibrantly, loudly, and confidently. Most of all, I wanted to increase the amount of happiness and fun in my life. Unfortunately, none of these things are directly measurable in my opinion.

To make these changes I decided to work on an area of my life that I let get wildly out of control. My weight and overall health. I believe that different aspects of our selves, that are seemingly separate, are actually tightly connected. In my case by focusing on improving health and wellness my confidence and mood will improve.

I weighed a slovenly 275 pounds, and since I've already argued that pieces of ourselves are so tightly connected, I'll let you draw conclusions on my confidence levels, mood, and overall satisfaction with life. I was barely surviving, not thriving. Mild physical activity such as climbing stairs was exhausting. I felt weak and tired on days that ended in y. I knew that my diet and lifestyle were draining what little energy I had.

I recall averting my eyes when I'd catch my reflection in mirrors. Shopping for clothes was painful. To make matters worse, every now and again I'd have to upgrade to a larger size. To be honest, I didn't really care to be around people most of the time. Being around people typically breeds conversation, and conversation that challenged me wasn't something I wanted to hear. It was easier for me to go home and eat to make myself "happy."

I was stuck in a terrible cycle. It was time to change.

FEAR/DOUBTS: What were your biggest fears, doubts and insecurities before starting? What barriers (real or imagined) were in your way? I did have some anxieties when starting on this goal. What nutrition plan should I follow? What will I do if the diet doesn't work? What happens if I don't hit my milestone? Is my weight loss goal even realistic? Will I fit in at the gym?

Even though all these crazy thoughts raced through my head, one of the things that set me up for success was that I was more afraid of staying fat and unhappy than I was about any of my anxieties. This served as an incredible motivator for me.

As an added bonus, those little anxieties almost completely went away for me the moment I started to take action on the goal. Another Jenny Blake-ism -- action, no matter how small, can quiet an inner critic.

SUPPORT: Who held you accountable to your goal? Were friends and family supportive, or did they think you were crazy? Weeks before I committed to this goal I had recently relocated to Southern California to start a new job. This was both a definite advantage and disadvantage. I was almost entirely cut off from any existing support system but I also had a fresh start. I could form new habits and mingle with new people who shared similar goals. I told some old friends about my plan, and they thought my long term goal was a bit extreme, but they agreed that I needed a change.

I had the full support of Jenny, my triad, and the MSH family to help me achieve this goal. Every week I would report to the triad and wanted to share a win with them. Some weeks were better than others, but hearing their encouragement really helped me when I was just getting started.

Also a trainer at my gym took an interest in my journey and would check up on how I was progressing.

THE DIP: Was there ever a moment/period if time that you felt you had hit a dip (felt like a failure and/or wanted to quit)? I felt the dip hit me like a freight train right on cue about the same time that Jenny presented it in the MSH course. I had some significant initial weight loss, but that slowed down to a near halt within several weeks. I was doing everything "right" and it was a lot of work to keep my diet and exercise were in check. I felt like I was putting in so much effort and getting nowhere. I was sore, tired, and I wanted to stop.

Was the diet wrong? Too much food? Too little food? Was I exercising too little? Too much? A myriad of questions, doubts, and frustrations filled my mind.

Fortunately, all I needed was some fortitude and patience. Within another week or so things started clicking again. I began getting stronger and leaner.

SUCCESS! How did you feel after accomplishing your goal? What did you learn about yourself in the process? What are you most proud of? I accomplished this goal exactly as I said I would. I lost 85 pounds in exactly ten months. However, I didn't always think that I would finish. In the beginning I hoped to lose the weight. I thought if I picked a big enough goal and only got a quarter of the way there, then I would have accomplished something, right?

It was only at the END of MSH then that I realized that I could actually achieve this goal. It changed from being a hope and a dream to something real and tangible. I now had the skills and fortitude to see this through to the end. At the time I had lost twenty four pounds and recall thinking to myself "only sixty one more pounds, no problem." Holy f*cking shit, did I just believe in myself again? This felt so incredibly empowering and gave me exactly what I needed to see this through.

In my opinion, the most important resource we have is belief.

Completing this goal has been the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. Accomplishing this allowed me to prove to myself how much power I truly have. If I can do this, I can do ANYTHING! I feel powerful, vibrant, present, and alive.

ADVICE: What advice would you give to future Make Sh*t Happeners? What would you say to those who are afraid to start or afraid to fail? What advice would you give to others in pursuit of a similar goal to yours? During my journey I kept a fairly detailed nutrition and exercise log. I had to make many adjustments to my routine in order to find what works and here's a few things I learned along the way. These are in order for a reason.

  1. Do not decide to lose weight, gain muscle, or improve performance. That will come later. Decide to change your life. As an active individual your entire life must be able to accommodate this new you. Make the appropriate changes to operate in this way. Get more sleep. Join a gym close to work or home. Buy tupperware and cook tomorrow's meals tonight. Spend the extra cash on good running shoes. Decide that today you are an athlete. Whether you're 50 or 500 pounds, you're an athlete. Want to look like an athlete? Act like one.
  2. You are what you eat. Literally. Within 7 years every cell in your body is replaced. Bones and all. From what sources does your body renew itself? Food. Lean meats, vegetables, nuts, seeds and some fruits should be the mainstay of your diet. People will argue with me here, but as long as your diet focuses on whole and nutrient-dense foods you'll be off to a great start.
  3. Less alcohol, more water. Don't drink calories. If you absolutely must drink alcohol, stick to spirits. Beer is the worst. Sugar, yeast, calories, gluten. No good.
  4. Dedicate yourself completely. Lots of people say "I've tried every diet and none of them work!" This is bullshit. All diets work. You just have to do them right and put in the effort. There are no shortcuts or any magic pills for weight loss.
  5. Measure yourself. If you're doing a diet and exercise program right you'll see measurable results in a few short days. DAYS! Buy a good scale and measuring tape to help you visualize your results when the scale stops moving. If you can get your body fat percentage measured, do.
  6. Exercise. This will account for about 20% of your results. If you aren't making the dietary and lifestyle changes no amount of exercise will make any significant changes. Find something that you truly enjoy and do it every day. Running, weight-lifting, baseball, crossfit, tennis, yoga, whatever. Work hard at it. Very damn hard. You will want to quit. You will sweat. You'll bleed. You'll cry. But you won't quit, right? Set new performance related goals here.
  7. Get back up. You will fall off the wagon. You'll miss workouts. You'll eat a piece of cake when you shouldn't have. Shake it off and keep working. It gets easier, I promise.

I'm not sure I could have done this alone. The MSH class and community gave me the encouragement and support I needed to get started with this goal. My life is truly changed. From my deepest self, thank you.

Now it's time to go make more sh*t happen.

***

Standing ovation

I am so incredibly proud of Devin and grateful that he was willing to share his story in such detail -- if it resonated with you, please let him know in the comments! 

MSH Enrollment

As I mentioned above, enrollment is open through Sunday. Read more about the program here or if it's already calling your name, grab a spot before the class fills up!

A few reminders: 

  • You'll receive 10 weeks of guided content: weekly videos, 5 live group Q&A calls with me, 100+ pages of reading material, reflection exercises, and group discussion prompts. You will also be assigned to a triad of three people to help you reflect on your progress and hold you accountable week-by-week.

  • There are 50 spots open, available on a first-come first-serve basis. I'm deliberately keeping the class small so that we can create a tight-knit, awesome community. The course starts on August 6 and will complete at the end of October. Enrollment ends on Sunday, August 5 or once the 50 spots are taken (whichever comes first).

  • Finally, as an MSH course participant, you'll receive lifetime access to the MSH Alumni group on Facebook, and will have the opportunity to audit the class for free during any future sessions.

  • I recently conducted an hour-long Make Sh*t Happen Crash Course Webinar -- even if you don’t take the full course, this recording will give you a feel for what we cover and to formula for how to bulldoze your barriers to go after your biggest dreams.

Onward!

Make Sh*t Happen: Fall Enrollment Now Open! + Free Crash Course Webinar Next Week

Jenny - 5-Minute Speech at WDS WDS Audience (click to enlarge)

WDS group of 13 who told stories (click to enlarge)

I completed a major sweaty-palms-heart-leaping-outta-my-chest life-checklist item this past weekend in Portland, Oregon: I was one of 13 WDS attendees chosen to share our story with the entire conference audience -- an auditorium of 1,000 people!

I wanted to make the most of my five minutes, so I treated it like a mini-keynote. Nicole and I spent our final moments backstage pacing, rehearsing to ourselves, reassuring each other, and saying "FEEEEL this!" as we placed our hands on each others' thumping hearts. I reminded her of my go-to public speaking tips: deep yoga breaths and clenched fists to give the adrenaline something to do.

I'm grateful and humbled to report that the speech delivered laughs and tears (and one impassioned f-bomb) -- a definite success! And a reminder to keep doing things that scare the sh*t outta us :)

Speaking of which . . .

Despite all of my soul-searching and MIA-ness of late, I've realized one very important thing during this past week as I got ready to open up the next round of the Make Sh*t Happen course:

Making Sh*t Happen is about doing things in an authentic way that resonates with the very core of you are -- not who society or anyone else wants you to be. You can either Make Sh*t Happen for your ego and for others -- as I did for many, many years -- or you can Make Sh*t Happen for YOU.

While it's true that I'm a little uncertain about the direction of my overall business beyond the Life After College "brand", I know that I've never felt more alive. I'm loving the process of figuring it out, one small step at a time.

The Make Sh*t Happen course is about taking a stand and pursuing the goal that whispers to you in quiet moments.

It is about pursuing that ONE thing you are tip-toeing around, that one thing that would most bring you alive to pursue -- for the very process itself. It’s about acknowledging your fears and moving forward not just in spite of them, but because of them. Because the bigger your fears, the bigger and more meaningful the growth opportunity.

On that note, I am thrilled to open the course doors for enrollment this week, with the next round of Make Sh*t Happen kicking off in August! I could not be more excited to walk this path right alongside those of you who are ready for it.

Save the Date: Free MSH Crash Course Webinar

If you read no further: note that I’m hosting a free Make Sh*t Happen “Crash Course” webinar on Tuesday, July 17 at 3:30pm ET for those of you who would like the CliffsNotes version of the 8-steps to Making Sh*t Happen and creating a snowball of success for any big undertaking. At the very end I will answer any questions you might have about the program or my business -- nothing is off limits!

Register here -- the webinar will be recorded if you can't make it (you'll need to enroll to receive the recording), though I'd love to hang with you live in the chat if you can swing it :)

MSH Enrollment: Course Basics

After running this course twice, I can undoubtedly say that it works if you're willing to put in the time and effort. Our 60+ alumni have started businesses, built blogs, gotten knee-deep in writing books, quit their jobs, and one even lost 60 pounds! Beyond all the surface-level stats, we've created an incredible community that loves, supports and encourages each other at every step.

  • You'll receive 10 weeks of guided content: weekly videos, 5 live group Q&A calls with me, 100+ pages of reading material, reflection exercises, and group discussion prompts. You will also be assigned to a triad of three people to help you reflect on your progress and hold you accountable week-by-week.
  • There are only 50 spots open, available on a first-come first-serve basis. I'm deliberately keeping the class small so that we can create a tight-knit, awesome community.
  • The course starts the first week of August and will complete in September. Enrollment ends on Sunday, July 29 or once the 50 spots are taken (whichever comes first).
  • The first 10 people to enroll will receive a private 30-minute 1:1 coaching session with me (this alone would normally cost $250). I am committed to your success, and know how powerful just one pivotal conversation can be!
  • Finally, as an MSH course participant, you'll recieve lifetime access to the MSH Alumni group on Facebook, and will have the opportunity to audit the class for free during any future sessions.

Read more about the program here or if it's already calling your name, grab a spot before the class fills up! You can also review the Frequently Asked Questions here

Not sure if the course is for you?

Check out what past participants had to say on the MSH website. From our most recent class, I was particularly touched by C.J's story -- perhaps you can relate:

"I used to ignore how much I wanted to be a writer and musician. I didn't even realize that hiding my passion, as though I was ashamed of it, would make me feel so inauthentic. And that translated to every situation even slightly outside my comfort zone where'd I feel inferior to the people around me.

It was hard to tell my goal to the group and even harder to stick it on the wall and make it visible. The first weeks helped me identify why my goal was important and what exactly I wanted it to look like. And it stopped feeling like a hobby. It's a difficult moment when you acknowledge a huge part of yourself that has been left tucked in a box in the back of the closet, and you have to forgive yourself for wasted years. 

My goal is particularly ambitious and I knew I wouldn't get it in 8 weeks. But even in the first week I started to feel lighter. I had people at work read my writing. I talked about songwriting...I welcomed that lost part of myself as the best part of who I am. Fast forward 8 weeks and I feel like the new model of myself. 

I didn't realize how inauthentic I felt about my life and who I was until I started to really embrace who I was and where I wanted to be. I have more confidence in unrelated situations like work, more alpha wolf than fleeing rabbit. I introduce myself as a writer first to strangers, something I'd never done and would have felt stupid doing. The course has done more than just give me tools for accomplishing my goal or being the backbone of support to get me closer. It helped me rediscover the magic about who I am. And celebrate my victories when my usual response would be to criticize the parts I missed. Taking action was a big part but I don't know how I would have made the mental shifts without the course. 

Being accountable to someone other than me was a big help. Checking off each activity and posting responses helped me see I was doing the work, but also that I wasn't alone in having a big goal and trying to achieve it. Reading how other people were doing and getting inspired by their accomplishments was a huge booster in motivating myself and seeing how other people drop kick the obstacles in their way. It was a lot easier for me to stumble in places because I knew I wasn't alone and I knew there were people around the world who had stumbled as well.

In just two months I feel like I've gone from being a little girl who didn't think anyone would listen to a woman who can say "I know what I'm talking about."  

—CJ, MSH Alumni - January 2012

I'm so proud of C.J.

It takes tremendous courage to take an honest look at where you might be holding yourself back and proceed anyway.

This course reminds me that we are all beautiful in our imperfection; that our fears are shared AND surmountable, that our support networks are there to hold us up when our light dims, and that our successes -- big and small -- are absolutely worth celebrating.