The Space Between

by Monica McCarthy on August 19, 2014

SpaceBetween

One of the zillions of things I’m loving about my new partners in crime is that they too are fans of big ideas and exploring a different theme every month.

The theme for August is bravery.

Bravery is, more often than not, depicted as a means to a way of obtaining something. But just as often (and as pointed out by Sunday’s yoga instructors Adam and Monica), bravery can be found in the letting go.

When we loosen our grasp, or when clean out the rubble, two important things happen. First, we are able to have a clearer vision of what remains (the important stuff) and second, we’re able to make room for amazing things; be those things people, experiences, ideas, thoughts, or emotions.

Cleaning out takes work. It’s one thing to quickly sweep the dust bunnies under the rug and stuff everything into the storage closet when the guests come over to dinner. Hiding the truth is easier than dealing with it. But real cleaning out means rolling up our sleeves, getting on our hands and knees, and scrubbing the stains away.

Cleaning out also asks us to toss out because we need to make room for what comes next. Bravery often requires us to let go of things we really like to make room for things we really love. Then, occasionally, bravery asks us to let go of things we love because bravery requires sacrifice.

“You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.” – Mary Tyler Moore

Bravery isn’t about leaping and magical nets appearing.

Bravery is about coming face to face with what we want most to avoid, and choosing, despite the fear and trembling, to roll up our sleeves, humbled with scrub brush in hand, and getting to work.

Freedom affords us the ability to make a mess when necessary.

Bravery is what happens in between.

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p.s. I’m honored to be interviewed on the Holstee blog today on the topic of making the choice to join a team in pursuit creating a greater good.

image: Mr Thinktank

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The Next Chapter

by Monica McCarthy on August 7, 2014

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Today marks the start of a new chapter in my story.

I am bursting at the seams to tell you more about this new adventure, partly because I hate secrets and partly because I hope you’ll join me in some way.

But first, a bit of prologue to set the stage for why we got here…

While grabbing drinks with friends earlier this week, I shared the big news. Sitting next to me was Jonathan Fields, whose work and outlook I greatly admire. We got to chatting and he asked me a simple but brilliant question in regards to the announcement:

What are you most excited about?

Instantaneously a flurry of answers came rushing to mind and my pulse quickened at the thought of it all. We don’t always have advanced warning that our life is about to change, so when we do, it can be dizzying… even if the change is something we want!

Jonathan patiently listened as I verbally sussed out the thoughts that have been percolating in my mind for the past week. Thanks to him, you get the streamlined version:

First, I’m honestly ridiculously excited to have a home for my ideas.

You see, for as long as I can remember, I’ve been an “ideas person.” I can’t help it. I often joke it’s like a disease. The challenge is that I don’t have the resources in regards to time, money, technical aptitude, and manpower to make the ideas happen. And the closer I got to understanding what mattered to me, the more ideas I had…. And the more frustrated I became that I couldn’t accomplish them all on my own. I had a very specific vision for what I wanted to build and more importantly why I wanted to build it. Cheshire Parlour taught me that there are other people out there who also believe in the importance of discovering what is meaningful. And one company in particular with the same vision and values has been on my radar for the past few years. (Yep that was a preview.)

Which brings me to my next point of excitement: I’ve (finally) found my tribe! Confession: I don’t like working on my own all the time. I realize that for many people, solopreneurship is the dream. But it isn’t my dream. Working independently from home or from a coffee shop is, as I’ve learned the hard way, not optimal for me. Yes, I have introvert tendencies (I love spending hours writing and reading alone) but I’m an extrovert more often than not. Another way of wording that would be: I get really jazzed being around people. And not just being in proximity to people (which is the benefit of co-working spaces) but actually conversing, strategizing, dreaming, and co-creating. Being united with remarkable people by a shared vision is my kind of utopia.

This was one of my biggest personal revelations of the Act II project in which I interviewed performing artists who have pivoted into other careers. When I really thought about why I loved acting in the first place, I realized I loved being part of a cast and crew. Ok, sure, I like having a starring role, but I’ve never desired to perform in a one-woman show. I loved the whole process of putting on a performance, from the table-read to the dress rehearsal to the final curtain, all with a collaborative team.

And wait until you get to know my new co-workers if you don’t know them already. They are seriously amazing. I smile just thinking about showing up to the “office” every day.

Which brings me to the next thing I’m excited about: A creative collaborative space! A space to build, connect, and offer accountability simply by existing. This space happens to be in walking distance from where I live in Brooklyn, and is filled with light and radiates inspiration. This space will also be where we’ll host events, dinners, workshops… it’s just wonderful really. The communal desks are made of reclaimed wood and there are local wild flowers filling mason jars. The fridge is filled with produce from the local CSA and there is an endless supply of green tea. I can’t wait to see what we create here. And “here” is only the beginning. Look out world! We got big plans.

Speaking of plans, I’ve got some plans of my own, outside of this new gig. Plans to finally write that book, and make that film, and learn to play those songs on my keyboard. But those plans came to a halt when all my creative and physical energy became focused on building “my thing.” There was no free time, or at least that is how it felt to me. It might sound strange, but the moment I signed on to this job (it feels weird to even call it that) the ideas and motivation for everything else came back!

So without further ado, here is my next chapter:

I am officially the Experience & Culture Impresario for Holstee.

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With the Holstee founders Dave, Fabian, and Mike

As in FULL TIME.

Woa.

Everyone I’ve talked to about Holstee falls into two camps: Those who love Holstee and those who have never heard of Holstee but will soon love Holstee.

I’ll write another post that goes into greater detail about what Holstee does and what my job entails. (In the meantime, checkout their website… they’ve even added me to their About page already!) I’ll also write more soon about how the position came about because I want to share some lessons learned about finding the dream job… especially one that never existed until you make it up!

Until then I highly recommend watching this video showcasing the Holstee manifesto (which has been downloaded approximately over one hundred million times!).

Funny side-note: when I went to re-watch the video on YouTube I discovered I’d shared the video two years ago via Google+ with the comment:

There’s nothing not to love about this video. One of my favorites: “Some opportunities only come once. Seize them.”

I couldn’t agree more.

And I’m beyond grateful for the opportunity to join the Holstee family.

Here’s to another great adventure…

Cheers!

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A Moment With The Music Man

by Monica McCarthy on July 24, 2014

NYCsubway

Most of us, myself included, have fantasized what we would do if we suddenly found ourselves with a winning lottery ticket. We envision the vacations we would take, or the dream house we would purchase, or the philanthropy we would support. With that much money the world becomes our oyster! We don’t even have to choose one thing… we can have it all!

But have you ever wondered about the reverse scenario?

What would you do with your last ten dollars?

For some of us, this isn’t a rhetorical question.

There have been multiple times throughout my life, and in the past few years in particular, that I had $10 or less to my name. I don’t say this to garner pity or shock. I am grateful for everything I have and for everything that has happened to me. And I’m well aware that the majority of the world continues to live in poverty.

But I suspect that for the majority of the people reading this, getting down to your last $10 tomorrow is as likely as finding yourself waking up to $10 million. So this is brief look into the other side, so to speak.

More money usually leads to more choices. Studies show too many choices make us anxious. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating a life of poverty. In the words of Mae West:

I’ve been poor and I’ve been rich. Rich is better.

Watching your bank account dwindle is terrifying.But the experience of finally getting down to your bottom dollar is, in many ways, a freeing one. No longer are you burdened with options. There’s nothing to save for a rainy day because you’re already getting soaked in reality. An umbrella is useless in the eye of a hurricane. You become very, very aware of the immediacy of now.

Once, not terribly long ago, I didn’t have $10. I had exactly $1.

I’ll save the details of how that came to be and how I got out of that situation for another time. But I remember getting off the subway and hearing a lone saxophonist playing the blues. The melody reverberated throughout my being. In that moment I felt the connection of that man and the music and my situation. One should never underestimate the power of music and art to soothe the stricken soul. 

I gave the saxophonist my last dollar. He gave me a slight nod and a knowing look and continued playing as I walked up the stairs, out of the dark station, and into the sunshine.

Any other day, with any more money in my bank account, I wouldn’t have appreciated that moment or that music or that man.

But I do now.

And my life is richer for it.

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image: vishpool

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