Embrace the Stoke

This week I was honored to speak at an event set out to inspire women to “Motivate to Elevate” their lives. Last year, one of my best friends started a social media marketing business: Kee Hart Marketing. She organized this event as a way of honoring the birthday of her company, and showcasing to other women how easily they, too, could be motivated to elevate their game.

So I wanted to give an inside scoop to this journey of being a speaker. As a recovering perfectionist, I am learning to balance preparation and improvisation. In the spirit of that, I wrote a speech. Then I gave it up during a pre-show meltdown break thru, and decided to loosen my grip a little bit. So in the interest of transparency, I’ve decided to share the original speech plan along with the video of what actually came out in the moment. It is a fun balance, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to practice this skill.

Here’s the video: my speech is first, starting around 23 seconds into the video and going for 8 minutes or so. Please enjoy!

Welcome, thanks for being here with us tonight

Motivate to elevate reminds me of the pep talk my husband had to give me on our family ski trip a few years back. Now mind you, I am the furthest from  adrenaline junkie. My speed is more like yoga, deep breathing, and paper crafts…like I’m not doing anything too extreme over here…but my husband Luke is….”motivating” me to elevate my beginner game into trying a blue slope.

So we’re up there….and I’m looking down like no.  It is awfully steep and my legs are already jello but if you know about snow skiing you know that at this point it is kind of too late to back out…so His final words before he confidently  sped down the mountain were: You got this, Embrace the stoke!

And I’m standing there, in shock that he left me but also like, no, yes, he’s right. I got this. You got this! You’ve done harder things. (doubting) Have you? This wont kill you. (doubting) Will it? Oh shit. Ok. Luke hasn’t fallen yet, that’s a good sign…So I start like barely moving, horizontally first.

I kept trying to control it…going more sideways than down …my knees were bent so low because I was sure I would fall and I wanted to be close to the ground, I just wanted to sit down it was so exhausting trying to prevent myself from gaining speed. I was keeping myself from gaining speed because I was afraid I was going to fall …Yes boom life analogy intended!

So Luke’s down there now, waving up at me. All done and stuff. Smiling his face off, obviously he embraced the stoke right?

So I know I’ve gotta get it together. I noticed how tense I was so I loosen up my reigns and I started to go with it. In my head I am repeating, embrace the stoke, embrace the stoke, embrace the stoke…. And now I’m going super fast AND I feel in control, but like those two things don’t normally go together in my skiing experience so it’s feeling like really cool, like…. I felt it. The stoke.

In that moment ….this is going to sound super cheesy but bear with me yall….I was one with the mountain. I was one with the snow, I was a part of it all, just moving to another part of it all, gliding effortlessly, without resistance, without fear, well , maybe still a tiny bit of fear but like…I was the mountain! I was also shouting EMBRACE THE STOOOOOKKKE all the way til I got to Luke where I suddenly knew how to break like a pro and splashed snow all up in his face. Like, who was that?! I was so stoked. Truly…in that moment.

And we started talking about the word stoke because it obviously had such a big impact…and it makes me think of that feeling of blissful uncertainty. A common word used among all the boarders, man, cuz it totally represents the idea that it could be super amazing aaaaannnd also you’ll very likely bust your ass. But it’s gonna be so amazing that you won’t care that you busted your ass. and the longer you’re in the game, the more you’ll bust your ass. But every time you do it you get better. And better. And more stoked.

My friend Brene Brown, just kidding, no but really, look her up, read her words…anyway Brene calls it out in her book Dare to lead, that in order to access our courage, we have to Embrace the suck. Yes she says that! Embrace the suck. It is one of the pillars of her research on shame and vulnerability! It is proven science!  In order to become more brave in whatever we do….whether we’re raising a family, starting a business, trying yoga, giving a speech, or standing at the top of a steep ass mountain wondering how the hell you’ll get there from here….we have to embrace the suck. And know that we’ll be made better and stronger because of it. Do it anyway.

I know, it’s a lot like my thing, right?. Embrace the stoke…like, did she steal that from me? But I think, they are really of the same intention.  To be with whatever is, to embrace your moment. Because no matter what we’re trying to make happen, sometimes it’s gonna be hard. Sometimes it’s gonna feel like a giant snowball is out of our control.

But if we can get out of our heads and into the flow, if we can Sink into wherever we are in our journey.  Whether I’m flying down the mountain or saving money to go see the snow. . . I’ve got to let go of comparing my effort to Luke’s, I’ve got to let go of worrying about what Jen thinks of my hashtags, I’ve got to let go of wondering what y’all will think about this speech! Because according to the research, none of that matters. Except I totally want you to get something from this speech even if it’s like wow she’s the speaker? I could totally be a speaker if that’s all it takes…

My point is to get stoked about Your journey, even when it sucks. Even when you’re scared. Move forward anyway.  Embrace the suck. Embrace the stoke! That is what really sets us on fire.  And when we can stoke our own fire… when we can breath life into ourselves, and feel passion to become bigger and brighter, it motivates others to do the same.

And then, we all shine on. Thank you so much for having me, Shine on, y’all!