Remember that one time I got loose, drank too much eggnog* and packaged everything together in the TMF store for a wild, wild west of a discount–and then told all continental U.S. buyers that I’d even take it a step further and send a surprise to their doorstep?
Just last month for the holiday.
After purchase, all buyers were then sent to a humorously long, semi-sadistic questionnaire to fill out about themselves, so I could hand-pick a surprise they’d actually like – as opposed to sending off random camel statues and industrial-size boxes of nudie playing cards. (Then again, that would have been an EXCELLENT gift.)
I knew the questionnaires would be fun to read (anyone that hangs out here at TMF is, of course, not only supremely intelligent but witty as hell, I’ve discovered), but what I didn’t expect, however, was something else:
That 90% of them were going to make me cry.
You guys cracked opened your souls to me. I don’t use the word “soul” too often, for fear of sounding like every other fucking blogger on the planet, but in this instance, it’s certainly warranted. Some of the answers were thought-provokingly insightful, others sentimental, and yet others straight up and to the point raw + honest…and all of them made me 1,491% glad that I decided to run this little experiment, and have the chance to get to really know some of you on a much more intimate level.
Not intimate like that, perv.
Anyway, I wanted to take the opportunity to share some responses with you–anonymously, of course–in the hope that they’ll light a big, inappropriately-sized blow torch under your own aspirations for this year…or at the very least, remind you that you’re not alone. That many of us feel the same way. That we’re all human beings, with the same fears, hopes and worries.
And yet somehow, some way…that’s what makes it all so beautiful.
In response to being asked to write a 6 word memoir summing up their lives:
Her beautiful mind kept her distant.
Beholden to no one, always strong.
Took risks, found passion, followed dream.
Awake and free, with joyous love.
I am still figuring shit out.
Took leap of faith, landed spectacularly.
Head strong, always made them laugh.
Only I can hold myself back.
Happily free from cultural constructs.
Brave, ballsy, brilliant chick. Watch out.
Soul searching sentimental crazypants. Dreams big.
The girl with the most cake.
Creative independent that is mostly harmless.
Introverted Extrovert; never settling for less.
Started shy turned totally bad-ass.
In response to what advice they’d give their future children:
When you feel safe somewhere, stretch your limits a bit, be a little wild. Then go somewhere new.
If nothing else, always be kind. People will tell you you’re soft, weak or stupid. Ignore them all.
Enjoy life, and live everyday to the fullest. Stop to smell the roses and don’t take life too seriously. Have fun!
Don’t lose sight of who you are to please the crowds.
If you have a problem, please, in the name of all that is holy, tell someone right away. Don’t keep it to yourself. Talk to someone. It could save your life.
Love deeply. Laugh often. Find something you love to do. Be conscious. Give back. Send money.
Go for it and be happy.
Be brave, have heart, do what you love, fuck conventional wisdom.
So not having children, but I’d tell my godchildren this: Question everything. Especially the ideas and morals of the culture you grow up in, the idea that you’ve got to accept what’s given to you, and the idea that casual Fridays make up for crappy workweeks. Travel as much as you possibly can, and learn as many languages as you can. Accept the idea that you are, to a large extent, responsible for what you end up doing. Fate or destiny is bullshit — make the life you want.
No matter what other people say as long as you did your best and can look at yourself in the mirror Your doing better than all of them.
Self-discipline and focus for what you want, recognize opportunity when it knocks, see the patterns of what’s going on, don’t worry about what everyone else is doing/believes, you have a brain and life that you are responsible for.
Take advantage of any tax loop hole you can. (Ha ha.)
Just be honest. Nobody likes a bullshitter.
Live your dream, regardless of what other may think. Be you b/c it’s only one you. And do not be apologetic for it.
Go out and take a fucking risk. If you play it safe you will miss out on A LOT of shit. Out of all the people I have talked to, no one said they wish they spent more time at work or doing stuff they hate.
Don’t be afraid to love. Realize that everyone who walks through your life is there to teach you something. That every person has their own story. Hug people. Give without expecting to receive anything in return. Be honest. Keep your word. Respect other people. Agree to disagree. Do your best and never, never, never stop trying. (Oh, there is lots and lots of advice I will give them.)
YOU CAN DO WHATEVER YOU WANT. Just be willing to work HARD for it. Be willing to get the fuck AWAY from the nay-sayers, they’re soul rapers. Be kind to people who serve you (you better wave to our garbage men like they’re effing Obama). Trust your instincts…they’re there to guide you and keep you safe. Only date people that respect you…and themselves. That one took me a minute and it was a hard lesson. Hold doors open for people…even if you’re a woman. Especially if you’re a woman. Being kind should be a human characteristic, not a male one. Always be kind…but know when to stand up for yourself and leave a toxic situation. And if anyone dares to hurt you, Mama will fuck them UP.
In response to being asked what they believe with all their heart:
Words have power.
The world is a beautiful place and all people are basically good.
We are all connected. The ability to see it is often overlooked.
I believe in the power of the arts. Visual, written, performing, you name it. Art is the means through which we inform, educate, entertain, and learn about the world around us. We take issues, triumphs, emotions, stories, and channel them into powerful works of art. Art heals. Art entertains. Art teaches. Art leads.
That every moment is a spiritual moment…and we are here on earth to love and find joy.
The older I get, the less I know. I just try to find grace in the ambiguity and to love fiercely and enormously.
Mistakes are OK, but mediocrity isn’t. Failure to innovate is a death sentence.
You can accomplish anything you set your mind to. If didn’t get what you wanted, that’s because you didn’t want it bad enough.
Life’s too short to do work you hate and art can teach a soul how to sing.
You vote with your money. Who (what companies) do you make rich?
We were put on this earth to enjoy life, so do what ever makes you happy.
…that a society’s moral fiber can be measured by how it treats its animals. (Thank you, Gandhi.)
Every single person in this universe has the right to be loved.
That you can do absolutely anything you want to…as long as YOU believe that to be true.
When a woman taps into her pleasure, passion and feminine power she can move mountains and make miracles.
That everyone in the world has AT LEAST one good story in them. It could be they went someone where cool, met someone cool, or did something cool. And I want to hear it. I will even buy the drinks as compensation too.
In response to a cause they’re really passionate about:
Stopping child abuse.
Domestic violence and helping kids. I contribute to St. Judes because I know someone who was treated for free from there. I also donate goods to the local domestic violence shelters.
Clean water for 3rd world countries.
Creating a safe, accepting and compassionate world for LGBT youth.
Girls becoming leaders.
It’s hard to choose one — some of my top ones are organic local farming, microfinance for entrepreneurs in China, education for women, and the protection of animals.
Re-defining the way college grads think of “earning a living”.
Bringing art to the world.
Animal cruelty and domestic violence. I REALLY wish those two things just didn’t exist.
Education. In any and all forms, for absolutely everybody. Regardless of age, gender, or color.
Helping young women with self-esteem issues.
Teaching the arts to young kids. I loved art class growing up and even got a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree. But with schools facing budget cuts, the arts are the first things to go.
There’s a local charity I love called All the Kings Men and it’s for former drug addicts. I LOVE that these people are TRYING. They are fighting like hell and I have so much respect for that.
In response to what one of their greatest unfulfilled dreams is:
“Disappear” for a year on the beach with a book.
I majored in art in college because I wanted to be a cartoonist. I wanted to draw manga (Japanese comic books), and I’ve had this idea since I was in high school. Thanks to shitty professors who didn’t believe in what I was doing and a prolonged creative dry spell, I never did it. Someday, I might take up a pencil and paper and say, “We have unfinished business.” It’d be really nice to be invited back to my alma mater to give a lecture, look my old professors in the eye (if they’re still around) and say, “Nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-naaah!”
Climb mt. Kilimanjaro. Run Big Sur marathon. Write a book.
Tour the world singing jazz.
Have a month-long sabbatical in Thailand.
Make over 6 figures.
Help others see that they can be healthy without eating “meat.”
Stop kids from being bullied.
Sail the mediterranean.
Get my PhD, probably in something like neuropsychology. Yes, I’m a super nerd. No, I’m not ashamed to say it. It will happen one day. You know, once I pay off the loans from my master’s degree.
Writing (well, finish writing) a book and publishing it.
Create a comic book/ graphic novel and show it at a convention.
Be able to financially support my mother. She was never a mother to me but it isn’t because she didn’t want to be. Her own tormented childhood led her to be eternally 9 years old & she still makes decisions as a child would. Her soul is (ultimately) kind and I want nothing more than to be able to give her a home but most importantly, the peace she’s never been able to give herself. Wow that was intense. But honest. I’m not a fan of phony small talk.
In response to something they wish for:
I was 50 pounds lighter.
I could get the hell out of this town. I live in a town that could be best described as “The Redneck Capitol of New England,” and it gets worse every day. Sure, I’d hate to leave my family, but I think they’d understand. There’s nothing here for me. I want out.
…I didn’t always worry about cash.
The rest of my family could be successful without me.
I wish that I didnt have to worry about making an income any more. Life’s too short to work too much.
…I had a million dollars. Ew. How shallow does that make me sound?
I wish that my business takes off so that I can pay off my home and be able to run my business without the constant rat race I endure now.
When I die, I’m close to or more than a century old…family holding my hands, and ready to go because I’ve seen everything, done everything, and loved more than I ever realized my heart had the capacity to do. I wish for my life to always feel FULL.
I had the energy and drive to REALLY focus on learning the skills that can get me out of restaurants and into a career that I love.
In response to something they wonder if:
…I’m as special as I feel sometimes. I doubt it.
My parents will ever move out of South Dakota and into civilization like I did.
There is intelligent life out there.
I should have gotten married at 22.
If I will ever be able to exhale and stop worrying about money.
I should just pack it in, move to somewhere with a beach that never gets cold, and just be a bartender and swim in the ocean for the rest of my life.
I just started in one direction and stayed the course I would be happier than I am now.
…there really is a higher power and an existence beyond this one or if life, however fun we make it, is essentially just an exercise in futility. (For the record, I try not to wonder this too often. It’s kind of depressing.)
All this business stuff is going to work out.
We’re all just making everything way harder than it needs to be.
In response to something they’re most proud of:
Being a teacher. It was the hardest job I’ve ever had, but I felt fucking amazing every day when I walked out of that high school. I’m still in touch with some of my former students and I can’t explain how much it means that they still remember my class after six or seven years.
Quitting my job and going back to Israel for another year. Coming home, going back to said job, and quitting again because what was left of my sanity was worth more to me than a lame, low paying, no benefits job. Even if that left me with no source of income.
My three year old daughter. She is so intelligent and bright.
Playing Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet” in high school. I went in for the audition on the advice of an English teacher trying to get me out of my shell, and two days later I had the part of Juliet. Booya.
Changing my diet for the better and not really hating it. I am cutting out the bad things I eat and drink and replacing them with good stuff. I have lost weight in the past, 60 lbs two summers ago thankyouverymuch, but slowly gained it back. Now I am gonna change, loose weight and keep it off. F YOU JENNY CRAIG, I GOT ME!! lol
Co-writing my uni’s plan to lower carbon emissions.
I basically raised myself and still managed to graduate with a B.S. and M.B.A., both with honors. I also moved a week after my 18th birthday to a place I’d only seen pictures of….essentially because I heard it referenced in songs from a band I liked at the time. True story. I’ve jumped out of airplanes (plural) and collected passport stamps…all despite statistics stating I’d likely grow up to be a shit ball because of the family I was born into. And I’m no where near finished. I’m proud that I’ve never accepted anyone else’s definition of me or for my life.
Starting the New Leaders group at my corporate job.
Supported my family myself.
Not concerned about other peoples opinions of me.
My motorcycle adventures. Vancouver CA to the beaches of Cabo San Lucas.
Being able to quickly sketch out my ideas on paper and other people get what I put down.
My sons-Emmett and Enzo.
Being able to work for myself and actually make an OK living at it.
How far I’ve come from that non adjusted, shy quirky kid that couldn’t talk to people.
Leaving my ex-husband. It was a toxic relationship – he was verbally abusive – and it was hard to grow the balls I needed to leave, but it was the smartest decision I’ve ever made in my life. (Conversely, agreeing to marry him in the first place was probably the dumbest decision I’ve ever made, but at least I was able to rectify that.)
Marrying my soulmate.
I have people in my life that love me. I must be doing something right.
I hope you enjoyed reading some of those responses as much as I did.
One of my favorites was the 6-word memoir.
I think mine would be: Wind in hair, world’s her playground.
What about you? What would your 6-word memoir be?
I’d love to hear in the comments below. (Click here if you’re reading this via email.)
*Eggnog was not truly a factor in the decision to do the holiday package.
All bets are off next year, though.
She's the creator of Brandgasm 101, a DIY kit for design & copywriting your website, THE Small Business Bodyguard, the world's most entertaining legal resource for online business, & Life Hooky Worldwide , a worldwide retreat company for overworked business owners, and, gained notable attention in 2011 for her 97 in ‘11 experiment, designed to demonstrate week-by-week how the everyday service provider could go from $0 to $97,000+ in revenue in a year or less using nothing more than a blog as a marketing tool. (It worked and the experiment closed out at $103,000.)