Mary Lambert, Living with Less

The problem with hoarding too many old things is that they will strongly link you to your past, and will stop new things or people from coming into your life.

Is Your Head in the Clouds

tasramar-car-rain-fog I will admit that more than once I’ve been accused of having my head in the clouds. It started when I was very young. I know because I distinctly remember being told and who told me. I also remember wondering what was so wrong with having my head in the clouds. Clouds are beautiful, you can easily get lost in them or hide in them. What’s so wrong with getting lost in the clouds?

Now, all these years later, I think perhaps there is nothing at all wrong with having your head in the clouds. With a few exceptions or conditions…

  1. You can’t stay there all the time.
  2. You do have to plant your feet on the ground sometimes.
  3. Sometimes a cloud-traveling buddy is helpful and makes it more fun.

That’s it. What do you think? Have you ever been accused of cloud dwelling?

P.S. You won’t freak out if I tell you I captured this image while driving on a foggy rainy California highway, will you? It was just too amazing to pass up.

Living Under a Cloud


Driving through the mountains from Southern California to Northern California, I was struck by the beauty and brilliance of the scenery. The looming mountains stood tall and the clouds hung low.

The image of clouds living among the mountains created a picture not often seen. The metaphor of “living under a cloud” was transformed into a thing of beauty in these mountaintops.

Perhaps it’s an idea that could be translated into a strategy for life. Perhaps.

I’m Not Average. Are You?

The average American lifespan is 78.49 years. That’s 28,649 days.

How many of those days have you already lived? Do the math. It’s fascinating.

Now the not so fascinating part. Really think about how many of those days you’ve actually maximized or fully lived. Hmm, not so many, right?


Whether you pick up this new book, 20,000 Days and Counting: The Crash Course for Mastering Your Life Right Now, or not, why not start counting your days. This year. This month. This day.

TODAY, what could you do that you could look back on and say, I made that day worth counting?

My Best Idea Ever!

idea cartoon

Raise your hand if you can relate!


What keeps you from DOING and not just DREAMING?

ideas, art, design

How are you going to change it this year? ideas-dreams

What deadlines have you created for your dreams in 2013?

5 More Lessons on How to Overcome Impossibility

What can you learn from two brothers who flew through impossibility?

  • How to finance your dream.
  • How to run your business.
  • How to work with partners.
  • How to learn your craft.
  • How to develop your skills.

Make sure to read yesterday’s primer on the first 5 lessons you can learn about ignoring impossibility and exploring the creative frontier. Today we dive into specifics on what innovation looks like on a daily basis. Tips from two inventors who changed the idea of what was possible and probable in their lifetime.

Don’t Quit Your Day Job (right away)

Capitalizing on the national bicycle craze, the brothers opened a repair and sales shop in 1892 (the Wright Cycle Exchange, later the Wright Cycle Company) and began manufacturing their own brand in 1896. They used this endeavor to fund their growing interest in flight.

That’s right. Not glamorous or exciting or fun, but it works. Keep your day job to finance your dream. They used their skill in mechanics to capitalize on the bicycle craze and took advantage of the opportunity to hone their skills and practice their craft. Why should you be any different? Think twice before jumping the bandwagon of your current career. A great read is Quitter by Jon Acuff on that very topic.

Commit to Lifelong Learning

In May 1899 Wilbur wrote a letter to the Smithsonian Institution requesting information and publications about aeronautics.

Yep. Way back in 1899 before the internet and Wikipedia, you had to seek out information and publications to get more information. It wasn’t available at the click of a mouse. So why in the world with the easy accessibility of research and education would you not take complete control and responsibility for that part of your development?

Get intentional with your research and learning.

That’s one of my goals for 2012… focus on what I want to learn and stop being so disjointed or distracted by a myriad of unrelated topics. If you want to learn lighting, just study lighting for a set time period and really master that. Then move on to something else. If you want to learn how to run a business, choose one or two aspects to focus on and really become a master. You’ll find the strategy of focus and intentionality will take your learning and development to a whole new level.

Study the Masters

Drawing on the work of Sir George Cayley, Chanute, Lilienthal, Leonardo da Vinci, and Langley, they began their mechanical aeronautical experimentation that year.

This is not new or at least shouldn’t be a new concept to you. I’ve mentioned it numerous times and it was part of the first tasra365 challenge issued by Scott Bourne.

Looking at the masters, studying what they did, learning from the way they thought and designed is an important step in your own development.

This is not about copying or reproducing someone else’s work, but thinking about their thinking. Draw from the deep well of their inspiration and you’ll find your own work start to take a form you may not have thought possible.

Develop Close Collaboration

Their bicycle shop employee Charlie Taylor became an important part of the team, building their first aircraft engine in close collaboration with the brothers.

The (butt-kicking) work that John Saddington is putting me through for Class 0 at Chair Co is INSANE! Seriously, I’m a hard worker, fairly disciplined and pretty organized. But I honestly feel more like Luke Skywalker with Yoda right now. “I can’t.” “It’s impossible.”

Maybe I’m just not cut out to be a Jedi (or whatever future vision of myself I might have dreamt).

One of the KEY principles John is hammering (yes, that’s what it feels like) into my head and heart is that working alone is no longer an option. You can imagine the cognitive dissonance this is creating for me as an extremely independent creative. However, the research I’ve been doing in books and history is bearing out the truth of this concept. And here we have it again in the famous brothers… close collaboration is key to taking you beyond where you can go alone.

Think about it.

Trust Your Instincts

The Wrights confirmed their suspicion that published data on lift were unreliable, and they decided to expand their investigation. The 1901 wings had significantly greater curvature, a highly inefficient feature the Wrights copied directly from Lilienthal. Fully confident in their new wind tunnel results, the Wrights discarded Lilienthal’s data, now basing their designs on their own calculations.

Just because it’s been done before a certain way for tens, hundreds or thousands of years doesn’t mean that is the right way… for you.

Stop trusting everyone else and their models for business and life. This is your own life. Live it your way.

When something doesn’t fit or feel right, don’t just ignore it and move on. Work with it, analyze it, study it, refine it, test it. Make a change.

Discard data that doesn’t work for you. Just because 1000 other people in your industry, circle of friends or family say it’s the right way or best way doesn’t mean it is. Everything is changing so fast in our world and environment that if you listen to everyone else and what they’re selling you, you’ll never become the innovator you could be… you’ll never really step into your own version of an insanely great life.

Don’t let that happen. Trust your instincts.

That’s enough for today.

Take these lessons to heart. 

Choose ONE strategy above and tell us in the comments what you plan TO DO to make a change today!

16 Timeless Lessons from Two Brothers Who Ignored Impossibility

“The Wright Brothers flew through the smoke screen of impossibility.”
-Dorothea Brande

It was the 1890’s and the race to fly was on. Even Wilbur Wright himself in a moment of deep disappointment, remarked to Orville that man would fly, but not in their lifetimes. Somehow the brothers moved past the disappointment, setbacks, obstacles, failures, copycats, haters, and lack of resources to hold a place of national and international acclaim.

Their critical steps and mindset are a virtual map to success.

Analyzing how they did it might very well bring YOU one step closer to flying through the smoke screen of impossibility in your own life, work, and art. Today is the first of three articles that’ll give you 16 timeless lessons from the Wright Brothers approach to invention and innovation. Tune in later this week for the rest of the lessons about ignoring impossibility and making your vision a reality!


Take a Different Approach

From the beginning of their aeronautical work, the Wright brothers focused on developing a reliable method of pilot control as the key to solving “the flying problem”. This approach differed significantly from other experimenters of the time who put more emphasis on developing powerful engines.

If genius is really about 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration as Einstein said, then approaching things differently in your work can have a significant impact. How are you approaching an age-old problem in a new way?

With Teen Identity Portraits and Magazine, we took the traditional photo studio and turned it on its head… we didn’t do traditional portraits, we didn’t sell big wall prints, we focused on raising the self esteem of teen girls, and empowering them with a voice and vision for their future.

Since its inception three years ago, many other studios and photographers have started to take the concept and claim it as their own… as far as a desire to reach teen girls and raise their confidence and esteem, that’s great! When it comes to copying our approach, our style, and even our name or slogan, that’s not okay… for them or us. For them, it will never have the power it did for us since it came from our hearts, our vision, our idea. For us, it’s treading on copyright and a brand we’ve been building, that has gained traction and media attention, and requires action.

Best solution? Take your own unique and different approach… give it your own unique spin, name, style and brand. That’s where you’ll win.

Collect Accurate Data

Using a small homebuilt wind tunnel, the Wrights also collected more accurate data than any before, enabling them to design and build wings and propellers that were more efficient than any before.

Are you capturing data about what works? What works in your life to inspire you, to force you to take action, to implement change? Are you creating processes, testing them, selecting the best one, and writing it all down? Are you implementing systems that you know work because you’ve collected enough data to clearly see the difference?


Pay Attention to Early Interests

In 1878 their father brought home a toy “helicopter” for his two younger sons. Wilbur and Orville played with it until it broke, and then built their own. In later years, they pointed to their experience with the toy as the initial spark of their interest in flying.

Much of who we are and what we love to do started early. It may not have been in the same form or function as it currently looks or you may have abandoned what you loved for more practical pursuits, but now is the time to drag them out again. What was it that sparked your interest? Was it reading, writing, visual images, visiting places, spending time with people, sketching, singing… make a list and see how many of those you are pursuing now.

Then CHANGE SOMETHING! Start doing more of what you love and less of what you don’t.

This is your only life. Live it.

Gain Essential Skills

They gained the mechanical skills essential for their success by working for years in their shop with printing presses, bicycles, motors, and other machinery.

There is no shame in early or small beginnings. What you learn along the way can guide and influence your thinking for a lifetime. Become a tinkerer. Not only does it sound cool, but you can gain valuable knowledge about what works and what doesn’t without a huge investment in the outcome. Don’t worry if your tinkering isn’t directly in the field you eventually want to conquer.

Much of what we do and learn today is transferrable… are you learning to be efficient, effective, action-oriented, tolerant or any of a million other skill sets? Those will help you in your future which may be just around the corner!

Conduct Extensive Testing

From 1900 until their first powered flights in late 1903, they conducted extensive glider tests that also developed their skills as pilots.

You cannot be afraid to test. Most people would say they aren’t afraid of testing, they are afraid of failing. However, testing and being open to extensive testing requires a willingness to fail repeatedly and not give up. You must develop the emotional maturity and mental loyalty to stick with your idea even when it doesn’t work right the first time. That goes for building a business, pursuing your art, or even building legos.

Develop your skills. Hone them. Test them.

Stretch yourself beyond the current limits of what you think is possible.

There you have it! Five incredible lessons for how to blow through the smoke screen of impossibility. It’s been done before by people less talented but more willing to invest their energy in doing the work.

Will you be one of those people?

Take the first step… Identify one of the above strategies and tell us in the comments what you’re going to do to make it happen today!

Do The Work AND Have Fun

Do the work.

It’s important. Critical. Monumental.

So much so that legendary author of The War of Art wrote an entire book by that name. (Do the Work by Steven Pressfield is currently a free ebook on Amazon… it was published in collaboration with Seth Godin and the Domino Project.)

I just finished my coaching class and our charge is now to DO THE WORK.

Act. Execute. Move.

But… there isn’t any reason why you can’t have fun along the way.

Make the process engaging. Make it a game.

Give yourself timelines and goals and tie incremental rewards to completion. If you don’t, you may give up entirely and not ever reach your final destination. There is no shame in needing tangible or intangible reminders of your success.

Constant driving toward accomplishing a goal without planned times to reflect and celebrate is not a good strategy for long-term success. It’s a strategy for burnout, frustration, and killing your passion.

Do you want that?

No? Good.

Here’s your homework for today.

Choose one of your current goals. Write down in the comments how you can reward yourself either daily or weekly for reaching that goal!

BONUS POINTS if you share how you’ll make the process more fun too!

Creativity, Artists and Depression

We’ve heard of so many great artists ending their lives early… either with conscious intention or unconscious recklessness. Depression can seem synonymous with artists.

Is depression inevitable for artists and creatives?

Arnold Ludwig, a professor and researcher at the University of Kentucky Medical Center, wanted to answer that question. So he performed a study of 1004 men and women over the span of ten years. His test group was a variety of accomplished people in art, music, science, business, politics, and sports.

The Research Proves…

  • 59-77% of creatives (artists, writers, musicians, etc.) suffered mental illness especially “mood disorders”
  • 18-29% percent of less “artistic professionals” suffered from the same mental illness or mood disorders

Other studies have demonstrated increased rates of depression in creatives as well.

Two Key Points…

  1. If you suffer from depression, even a mild form, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
  2. THERE IS NO SHAME in getting help and support even for “mood disorders” or depression you can’t seem to shake.
There is already a wealth of information about depression, how to identify it and where to get help, so I won’t repeat that information here…. other than to say DON’T IGNORE IT.
If you need more reason to not ignore it in yourself or someone you love, watch this 12 minute video about depression, suicide and survival. Do it now. It could save a life.

Take the time to watch this video. You may not suffer from depression or suicidal tendencies, but you may know and love someone who has, is or will. Increase your awareness.

The Awkward Series: Insecurities that Refuse to Die

Why is it that I am long out of junior high, but still feel some of the same insecurities that I felt at age 13? I thought someday they would disappear, go the way of the dinosaur and forever leave the landscape of my mind and heart. Such is not the case.

So if they refuse to fade into the darkness, I thought maybe I’d just bring them into the light of day. Perhaps just bringing them into the clear light of day will make them run for the hills. If not, at the very least, they won’t be able to have the same grip they’ve had in the past.

Truth be told, I really doubt any of these will be a surprise.

I expect that people won’t like me.
Seriously, I clearly remember 3rd grade at private school wearing the homemade jumper and standing outside the classroom door chanting “nobody like me, everybody hates, guess I’ll kill myself.” I wasn’t serious. I didn’t even know how to kill myself without pain. But it was all because I thought a very special boy didn’t like me. He was nice and cute (that’s about all I needed in those days). Here’s the shocker… 30 years later on Facebook we reconnected and he told me he had a MAJOR CRUSH ON ME! Seriously?!? There are no words. I need to get over this one… the insecurity (not the boy).

I am a people pleaser.
Yep. I don’t like to stir the pot, start conflict, or raise red flags. I’m a teachers pet and an A student. I’ve always gone out of my way to do whatever it takes to make sure I can fly under the radar and not get noticed. This is an awful way to live. I’ve overcome some of it, but my first instinct is to not want to make a fuss. The good news is that usually my rabble-rouser husband is more than happy to convince me to take bigger leaps than I ever believed possible in my life. This quote from Rosa Parks is a perfect descriptor:

I have always been a timid person but my life has required me to be courageous. – Rosa Parks

I am afraid of success.
People often talk about fear of failure, which I have had at certain times in my life. But a more overriding insecurity is a fear of success. I think it’s tied to my previous issue about wanting to please people. I know that with success comes haters and I hate haters, trolls, and mean people. I’m impossibly thin-skinned and personally think it’s part of who I am. I think it’s okay and even good to be sensitive to the thoughts, feelings and needs of others. However, that makes it difficult to want to become too successful for fear of igniting the haters to come after me.

I have a distorted sense of how I look.
It stems back to middle school and my eating disorder that I struggled with for ten years. Maybe even before that with my frizzy out of control hair and young undeveloped body. I wasn’t going to turn any heads back then, unless they were recruiting for “What Not To Wear.” All of those experiences created a sense of self-consciousness and insecurity that still has a grip on me… albeit more loosely (thankfully). Some people think it’s ironic that I started a company focused on raising the self esteem and confidence of teen girls. I think it’s incredibly predictable since our greatest work often comes out of our greatest pain. I’ll get there someday… maybe this is the year it’ll happen.

Enough about me.

What about you? What are your insecurities and struggles?