The Living Course

Did you miss me?

What’s the best way to frustrate a blogger? Give her a bunch of exciting opportunities she’s not allowed to write about!

If you’re wondering why this is my first post of the year, it’s because I’ve been busy with said opportunities, but also it’s hard not to write about top-secret opportunities when you’re fully immersed in them.

So here’s what I can talk about:

  1. I just got back from a great trip to New Orleans where I celebrated the birthday of one of my favorite people. This was my first trip to NOLA, and I’m already jonesing for some Cafe Du Monde beignets, Central Grocery muffeletta, ubiquitous jazz, and the stunning houses of the Garden District. The one thing I won’t be missing? Hurricanes, a fiery red cocktail that tastes like Kool-Aid and Draino but is surprisingly hard to turn down.
  2. The writing retreat I organized is just over a week away! I’m so excited to spend a few days in upstate New York, working on my writing and sharing ideas with other writers. Enrollment is over, but if you’d like to apply for future retreats, make sure to join the Writers Work email list.
  3. My favorite program in the world, The Living Course, is only two weeks away and I’ll be assisting there! That too is all booked up, but if you’re interested in finding out more info, or signing up for the next course, head over to their site.

Alright, back to work on top-secret stuff. Hopefully I’ll be able to tell you about some of these ventures as they materialize.

Top 8 of 2014

I'm exhausted after this wonderful year :)

I’m exhausted after this wonderful year 🙂

I’ve never been able to keep a diary for more than a week, so I’m amazed that I’ve been able to keep up this blog for over three years. It’s easy to forget how much happens in the year, so I love reading old posts to remember all the great times and lessons. This was originally a top 10 list but I parred it down because I know you’re busy 🙂 Here are some of my favorite posts from the last year:

  • During the busy holiday season, this advice is a must read.

Here’s what to expect from the next year of the HeSo Project. I’m planning to change the look of the site, so don’t get scared if it looks different in January. I can’t wait to write about the retreat I’m organizing this February in the Catskills (there are only 3 spots left if you want to join), the reading series, and the upcoming conference! I hope to have exciting news about my novel in the new year.

I hope the next two weeks are joyous and peaceful for you. See you in 2015!

https://thehesoproject.com/2014/04/01/2-responses-that-will-save-you-time-and-energy/https://thehesoproject.com/2014/04/01/2-responses-that-will-save-you-time-and-energy/

What Happens When You Dream

Over six years ago, I walked into a room that would change my life forever. My parents had just taken a 30-hour personal development course, and could not stop raving about it. When I heard that my dad, my stoic, reserved dad, cried during this course I had to check it out.

I’ve assisted at The Living Course (TLC) every single time since my initial course, and I learn so much about myself and humanity during these intense hours (after you take the course once, you can come back to every course afterward for free!). One of the focuses of the course is realizing a dream that is bigger than yourself; a dream that can guide your decisions and instill your life with purpose. The second time I assisted at the course, I told a room full of people that I was going to create an artist’s colony where creative people can learn from each other and support each other.

As soon as I proclaimed this dream I realized I had no idea how I would achieve it, and I didn’t even know where it came from. Mind you, this was years before I started The Heso Project (but the course was one of the reason why I started The Heso Project). TLC gave me an environment that was so supportive, so loving, and so energetic that it allowed me to tap into an intuitive part of myself that I never heard before.

T4Years go by and I’m constantly recognizing lessons from TLC popping up in my life, but the dream I had announced didn’t seem to stick. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I realized I was taking huge steps toward that dream I put into words during the course. The Writers Work Conference is a supportive and nurturing space for creative people. I am now setting up a retreat for writers in the Catskills for this winter, and a reading in Manhattan for emerging authors this November. These are concrete steps toward the dream of creating an artist’s colony.

I’m so grateful to The Living Course for asking me to find my dream, giving me the support to go after it, and helping me to unburden my past. The world would be so much more passionate, nurturing, and fun if everyone took this course. I hope you will be the next person to enroll. The next course is Nov. 7-9 in Rye, New York. If you sign up by Oct. 15, you’ll get $100 off! If the price tag scares you, I ask you to take a moment and really question how much you are worth. You deserve to spend that much money on yourself. You deserve this course!

2 responses that will save you time and energy

friendsWe all want to be good friends and listen when someone we care about has a problem. However, you don’t always have time to listen for hours. There’s also the problem of friends who want to complain and never do anything differently. Listening to their never-ending problems can be really draining.

I have found that these two responses help save time and make sure that the person you’re talking to is as invested in their situation as you are.

“Can you remind me of this in a week?”

I get lots of friends asking me for feedback on their work. In more than one case, I read the work, spent hours writing a critic and then when I got back to them their response was “Oh, actually I’ve changed my mind and I’m working on something else. Would you mind looking at that instead?”

Man oh live!

Now when someone sends me something, I write “‘I’d love to look this over, but I’m busy right now, so can you remind me in a week?” If it’s not important enough for them to remember to remind me, than it’s not important enough for me to spend time on it.

“How are you going to handle that?”

I learned this gem from The Living Course. People love to complain. They can do it for hours. Sometimes they don’t realize they’re doing it. Asking this simple question stops the complainer in their tracks. It makes them concentrate on how they’re responsible for making the changes that will make them happier. Nothing I can say will make a difference. They are the ones who have to take action. If they start going into excuses about how they can’t handle it because it’s not in their hands, ask “how will you handle the fact that it’s out of your control?”

I hope these help you save time and energy. Let me know if you have any other responses that help you.

30 is not the new 20

80% of your life-changing decisions happen in your 20s. This crucial decade is when you start your career path. It’s when you pinpoint the qualities you want in a life partner. It’s when you start to get out of debt, or, unfortunately, start accruing debt. It’s when your collection of friends start dwindling down and you’re left with a core group of people who share the same priorities as you.

I watched the video below because the title contradicted an expression I’ve been hearing non-stop for the last few years: “30 is the new 20.” Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist, explains why that is not the case. We can’t waste our 20s procrastinating and not taking our decisions seriously. Everything we do now will determine who we become. It’s ok to explore and try new things, but do it with purpose. Don’t think that anything will change, if you do not make the decision to change. If you date a loser now, you will probably end up marrying a loser later.

This is why I’m so glad I took The Living Course when I was 24. It helped me to determine exactly who I wanted to be, and who I wanted to bring into my life. I met my husband immediately after the course. I moved out of my parents house, got a steady job, and started taking my writing seriously. I can’t even imagine the sort of limbo I would have struggled through if I had not taken the course when I did. How many years would I have wasted living at 50%? (I’m not saying that my life is perfect, and I figured everything out in one weekend, but I do feel like I am on the right path, and that I have the tools to become who I want to be.)

Watch this video, and then sign up for this course. Don’t disregard this if you are not in your 20s. This message is not necessarily about age, as it is about not wasting your time at any stage in life.

In case you don’t have time to watch the whole video, here’s my favorite part:

 So what do you think happens when you pat a twentysomething on the head and you say, “You have 10 extra years to start your life”? Nothing happens. You have robbed that person of his urgency and ambition, and absolutely nothing happens.

And then every day, smart, interesting twentysomethings like you or like your sons and daughters come into my office and say things like this: “I know my boyfriend’s no good for me, but this relationship doesn’t count. I’m just killing time.” Or they say, “Everybody says as long as I get started on a career by the time I’m 30, I’ll be fine.”

But then it starts to sound like this: “My 20s are almost over, and I have nothing to show for myself. I had a better résumé the day after I graduated from college.”

And then it starts to sound like this: “Dating in my 20s was like musical chairs. Everybody was running around and having fun, but then sometime around 30 it was like the music turned off and everybody started sitting down. I didn’t want to be the only one left standing up, so sometimes I think I married my husband because he was the closest chair to me at 30.”

Which kid are you?

Photo credit: BCI Burke Comp.

A little girl decides to take a risk and climb on top of the monkey bars. The other kids in the playground look up at her in awe as she balances on the metal rods high above them. She puts her hands in the air, basking in her glory. When she makes it across everyone cheers.

What would that little girl learn about taking risks?

What would she learn about getting attention?

What assumptions would she start to make about herself?

Photo credit: Chicago Phoenix

Her friend sees this and decides to try climbing the bars too. She’s so nervous her feet are shaking and she falls to the ground. Everyone sees this and laughs.

What would that little girl learn about taking risks?

What would she learn about getting attention?

What assumptions would she start to make about herself?

If those two girls were in the same class the next year, and their teacher asked for a volunteer who do you think would raise their hand? The second girl has already decided that it’s not safe to take risks. If she messes up, she’ll just confirm all the negative thoughts she had about herself. Even if she does well and everyone compliments her, but there are two girls laughing in the back of the room, she will focus on the laughter and not on the praise (even if that laughter wasn’t directed at her).

Do you ever focus on the one complaint rather than hundreds of compliments?

If those two girls were at a job interview, who do you think would get the job? If those two girls were on a date with a jerk, who do you think will realize they deserve better, and who will accept poor treatment?

We’ve all had moments in our lives that shape who we are and how we see the world. Some of those moments were big and impossible to forget. Oftentimes they were just small moments that are easy to forget as an adult, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a long-lasting effect.

The problem is these decisions we made about ourselves were decided by children who didn’t know better. We were doing the best we could to make sense of a world that is confusing and some times painful. As adults we need to take a step back and determine if these assumptions are true and if they are serving us. Are they keeping us from living a full and happy life? Are they keeping us in unhealthy relationships? Are we stuck in a rut because of them?

This is a huge lesson I learned from The Living Course. If you’ve ever talked to me, you’ve probably heard me talk about this course because it changed my life forever. I was the kid who fell off the monkey bars and decided risks were dangerous and attention could only be negative. I lived with this mentality for 24 years, and then in ONE weekend the light switched and I saw my life through completely new eyes. Rather than fear I embraced excitement. Rather than judgement I felt love. Rather than saying “I have to,” I said, “I want to.”

I wish everyone could take this course. I wish everyone could feel like the little girl on the monkey bars with her hands stretched out, soaking up everyone’s praise and feeling magnificent. You deserve to feel that way. The next course is May 31-Jun 2, 2013 in White Plains, NY. The courses are few and far between, so it’s worth canceling your plans. I assist at every course, because it’s incredible to watch people transform into the better version of themselves in just 30 (intense) hours. Go to their website right now and contact them for more information. I do not get paid to do this. The only reward I receive is feeling like I played a part in making someone’s life better.

Don’t waste another year playing it small. Whatever small voice in your head is saying “no” is the same voice that will keep you from having the life you want. When are you going to stop listening to it?

The greatest thing that ever happened to me

Have you ever held the most adorable baby in the world? Touched its perfect chubby cheeks? Played with its impossibly tiny toes? What do you feel when you see something so innocent and beautiful? You want to protect it, love it, you want the best for it. You imagine all the amazing things that child will grow up to be. This child doesn’t need to do anything in order to warrant your love – its pure existence is magnificent.

(photo credit: Ghastlydoor.com)

Now imagine seeing yourself as that perfect little baby. How would you treat yourself differently if you could remember how innocent and beautiful you are? We’ve all seen that image of a woman holding her baby right after giving birth – imagine loving yourself with that same intensity.

Now imagine thinking of everyone that way. Wouldn’t it be easier to forgive those who hurt you? Wouldn’t it be easier to make decisions based on love and excitement rather than anger, greed, competition, or spite? Wouldn’t it be easier to open yourself up to new relationships?

This is just one of the ways I see the world differently after taking the The Living Course. I’ve written about this many times before, and I’m going to keep talking about it because it’s something that is so beautiful and profound that it’s depressing to think not everyone will get to experience it. I took this 30 hour intensive course 5 years ago, and I’ve assisted 7 times since then. It only takes one weekend, and I love assisting because I get to watch people completely transform in a matter of hours. This is not a course for people who need to be fixed (although it will help), this is a course for successful people who want to live up to their full potential.

(photo credit: alexxstuart.com)

I’ve told everyone I love about this course (ad nauseum) because to not do so would be the most selfish act in my eyes. How can I tell someone they have to try an amazing brand of ice cream but not tell them about a course that will leave them happier and more empowered? My supreme wish is that you, my beloved reader, will take an insane risk and sign up for the next course. It runs from Feb. 8-10 and it’s in White Plains, NY. This is not something you can talk yourself into doing – you just need to take a leap of faith. So far 10 of my friends have taken the course and the one thing they always say is, “Why did I wait so long to take this course?”

Will this be the moment you decide to live your best possible life? Sign up now!

P.S. I AM IN NO MEANS GETTING COMPENSATION FOR MY ENDORSEMENT.

Here are some other posts I wrote about this course:

Wow another 2 day deal!

I’m all about discounts, and here’s one that’s priceless.

I talk a lot about The Living Course (TLC) because it had a huge impact on my life. In three days you’ll gain a whole new perspective of your life. It’s challenging, eye-opening, and most importantly, empowering. This is not a course to take when you feel like your life is a mess. This course is for intelligent, competent people who feel like their life can be better.

When I first heard about it, I thought it sounded ridiculous. I went to art school where self-reflection is a part of the curriculum. I knew what my problems were, but I also knew that there was no way I was going to solve them in 3 days. And the course was so expensive (almost $800!).

By the time I left, I knew exactly what I needed to do to make myself truly happy. The problems I thought I had seemed so superficial – they were all just symptoms of much deeper problems that I never recognized until I took the course. I look at all the changes in my life since the course, and I can’t believe I ever thought that I wasn’t worth $800. I would pay that on a professional development course, so why not on a personal development course? YOU ARE WORTH IT!

Since I took the course (almost 5 years ago), I’ve assisted with 6 more courses. I’m still surprised by how it works with so many different people. I’ve seen brain surgeons, unemployed actors, housewives, principals, stockbrokers, you name it, they’ve all taken the course and they’ve all said that they wish they took it sooner.

If you live in the New York area, even if you live hours away, TAKE THE COURSE! If you sign up by tomorrow you can save $95! The course runs from Oct. 12-14 and it’s in White Plains.

Don’t over think it. If any part of you says this sounds interesting, sign up immediately, or else you’ll talk yourself out of it. Don’t let fear stop you from living your best life. SIGN UP TODAY!

I do not work for TLC, I don’t get paid to do this. My only reward is watching people change their lives, and knowing that I had just the tiniest part of it!

The Living Course

This past weekend I had the honor of assisting in The Living Course (TLC). I was a student in this course three and a half years ago, and I’ve never been the same. Before that course I was afraid of taking risks, and having a serious relationship – right afterward I signed up for Match.com and met Mike (one of the best people in my life) and I moved out of my parents house.

This was my 5th time assisting and I realized that TLC has become my anchor in life, and has helped me make the big and difficult decisions that make my life the way I want it to be. It’s only a three day course, but I’ve seen people’s lives change right before my eyes. It lets you see what you’re doing to prevent yourself from having the life you want and deserve. I made the decision to quit my job at the last course, and at this course I met someone who I want to work with in the future.

After I got back from Spain, just  a week ago, I felt stuck. I kept thinking I would take time to figure out what my next job move would be before going to Spain, and then when I’d get back I could get started. But after Spain I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. I felt disappointed in myself. But I decided there’s no point in putting myself down about it because then you turn inwards and I needed to stay open and ready. So here’s a good story about staying open to opportunities:

While having dinner during the course I was sitting with a few women, and one named Amy was talking about an episode of Oprah from five years ago that she’s never been able to erase off her DVR. I told her that that show really effected me too. It was about The Challenge Day when a high school shut down for the day and did exercises to build trust, vulnerability, commonality, and forgiveness  among the high school students. I loved it so much that I tried to do it with my middle school students (I was a student teacher at the time). Although they were a little too young for that work I think they still got a lot out of it. I forgot about the show, but as soon as Amy started talking about it I got almost giddy. Then she said she always wanted to do a course like that but she didn’t have any support. Before thinking I said, “I’ll help you.”

She then continued to talk about how hard it is to follow your dreams when you don’t have any help. That’s when someone else at the table said, “Didn’t you hear Tracy offer you help?” Amy paused and said no. This happens all the time. We’re so busy thinking of how hard something will be that we ignore potential help. I was guilty too. As soon as I offered my help, and she continued talking I just nodded my head and agreed with her about how hard it is to get support instead of insisting that I’ll be her support. It let me off the hook, but in reality I didn’t want to be off the hook, because this is something I believe in. So now Amy and I are making plans to bring this program to the schools in our area. Even writing this on my blog scares me because now I have to follow through. But that’s why I need to write it down, because I want to follow through. And I’m super excited!

As soon as we start to talk about what we want people want to help. And then the crucial part is to listen, because people are offering their help all the time, but we ignore it because it’s easier to complain rather than do something. Have you ignored someone’s help? Today I dare you to tell someone about something you want to do that you can’t do by yourself. I bet you anything that person will offer to help you. And do yourself a favor. Believe that their offer is genuine because it probably is.