Iconic in the Making: Artifacts and Calibrating, or Clark Kent Tanks, part 2

I used to think that objects weren't very important. I actually regarded them with disdain, like my life would just be better if I could live without them or at least with fewer of them. Even now I struggle with caring enough about them to do something when all the measuring cups are either broken or have the labels all rubbed off. (I know which one is 1/4 cup and 1/2 cup, but my husband bristles every time he has to use them.) But I am changing my tune about objects--it's just that it takes awhile to cull through one's entire life and true up to a new belief.

By anyone else's measure, it probably wasn't long ago that I had this revelation: Objects will always be a part of my life. Every day I wake up and must put something on my body, so I might as well have the things around me be soulful, beautiful, inspiring or comforting. Now I believe that objects not only matter, but that they matter greatly. They are the artifacts of my living. If I use them well, they call me forward into possibility--who I am becoming, who I was always meant to be. It was this turn in perspective that was necessary for me to begin making good things of my own and sharing them with you.

If you've got to wear a shirt, you might as well wear one that reminds you of who you are instead of forgetting the way you so often do.

I threatened to make this shirt design for months, as a "gift" for a couple friends of mine (who shall go unnamed). As I got to know them and their brilliance started leaking out all over the place, I was astonished--not at their genius but at the way they so diligently kept it under wraps. I started blowing the whistle on their calibrating as only a fellow calibrator can.

I've been calibrating for as long as I can remember. Trying not to be too much, too emotional, too serious, too intense. Trying not to overwhelm people with too many words, or words that are too conceptual and not chit-chatty enough. Trying for the love of God to learn the social scripts and play my part faithfully even while there's no room inside of them for who I really am. Worried at every twist and turn that the belonging I crave will fall away if I let the real girl out, with all of her turbulent goods exploding all over the table. I've described myself with phrases like: "Unfit for Public Consumption" and "Terminally Serious". I've done a lot of shrinking back, holding back, swallowing hard and cringing, all along the way.

A very wise woman told me around this time last year, It is exhausting to be two things at once. I thought, You have no idea. That's what all my calibrating has won me: exhaustion. This weariness that stretches all the way down into my soul's bones. And just like I changed my tune about objects, I'm ready to do an about-face here. I've been chewing on this idea for some time now: calibrating no more.

It's not easy to change our habits. It takes some time, and it often means starting in one place--one relationship, one kitchen drawer--and moving our way slowly through the house of our life, trying on our new way of being. In the meantime, our past version, that more comfortable part of us, works furiously to forget and go back to her old ways. And it's not easy to come out and admit that we've been hiding our parts and pieces. That we've been keeping our brilliance under wraps. First we need to admit it to ourselves.

That's where this new Clark Kent tank comes in. It's to wear at the end of the day when you come home and wash your face and tell the truth to yourself in the mirror even if you haven't done it all day. It's for under your sweater at the business meeting where you promise you will speak out instead of quietly nodding. It's for those flashes of ideas that you really need to pay attention to and value, whether they seem practical to your inner censor or not.

The world needs your brilliance. So join the club.

The "Closet Genius Society" Clark Kent tank is availble as part of The Iconic Self Home Retreat Kit, or for individual purchase.

$30 USD, ships free worldwide

"Closet Genius" Clark Kent Tanks are soft and stretchy with navy print. These run small, so size up if possible.

Photo by Bella CirovicCLICK BOTH BUTTONS:


Iconic in the Making: Clark Kent Tanks, Part One

 It all started one day on Twitter.



The thing we all laugh about is how on paper, Peter Aguero (@TheBTKBand, whom you may remember from Telling Your Story) and I shouldn't have a blessed thing in common. I think Brad Lawrence once described the hypothetical combo as mixing battery acid and mother's milk, and then at our first performance together it somehow worked to everyone's surprise (except perhaps Peter's, who would say he knew it all along).


Peter is a badass if ever I knew one and I am without argument a gentle spirit, but he knows I can be a badass, too, even (and especially) when I don't. And I know without question he's one of the gentlest spirits around. So I loved this quote so much, how it spoke to the parts we wear plainly as well as the flip side we hold close to the chest.


photo by Bella CirovicBut my most immediate thought was, I need that on a shirt! That inner badass is so hard for me to reach sometimes, so hard to remember and to own that I knew I needed a reminder that she was there. So I made myself a shirt, a tank top that I could wear underneath everything. No one needed to know it was there but me, and like Clark Kent's Superman shirt beneath his suit, it would keep my alter ego ever present.


I had Bella photograph me in it, which wasn't easy. You saw a final pose, which I could actually only hold for a second. There are takes on either side of me laughing at myself. But like Brad said, a second is all you need if you can catch it. That image gives me something to live into, a reminder of who I am becoming and the parts that are making their ways from the invisible places to the visible ones, from being worn on the inside to being worn out in plain sight.


And that is what The Iconic Self is all about. I knew these things belonged together, and from the responses of my friends alone I knew I wasn't the only one who could use this shirt. Whether you're comfortable with your badass self but reluctant to own up to that inner gentle spirit, or the other way around, this shirt will remind you of your full range of capacities and invite you to play all the way across them.


The "Gentle Spirit" Clark Kent tank is available as part of The Iconic Self Home Retreat Kit, or for individual purchase.

$30 USD, ships free worldwide

Photo by Bella Cirovic"Gentle Spirit" Clark Kent Tanks feature black print on a white background. Perfect for layering under other items, this runs small so size up if possible.



2012 Essential Scholarship Program

The Iconic Self is in production, and I'm sitting at my little table in the kitchen with a pink, red and blue quilt draped over it like a table cloth trying to wrap my mind around it--the culmination of years and years of work, the completion of The Essential Journey Collection. The bulk of all I've written and taught and lived these last years finally having a physical existence in the world, a way to pass with a blessing from my hands and heart to yours.

To celebrate the completion of The Essential Journey Collection, I'm hosting the 2012 Essential Scholarship program. Open to all my beloved readers and friends, the opportunity to receive a $50 scholarship toward the tuition of any of the Essential Journey Courses (Finding Your Voice, Telling Your Story, The Iconic Self) is just a super simple application away. You have until February 12, 2012 to submit via email or postal mail and recipients will be notified on Valentine's Day.

If this work is calling you, if this scholarship would bring it into reach, please download the application and apply. We want to support your journey.

Download the 2012 Essential Scholarship Application

A Story of Love and Friendship

Phyllis in her Colorado home this summer.

The story of my work is always, at its core, a story of love and friendship.

I met Phyllis Mathis when I was 22 years old. I had been married for less than a year, and out of college even less than that. I still remember every detail of our meeting--the metal folding chairs we shook hands across, that curious banter you do with strangers, the way she stood with shoulders back, head high, her face radiating warmth and welcome. It's as if some part of my memory-making mind woke up and said, Pay attention. This moment is important.

Not long afterward I attended a retreat Phyllis led and as she spoke one morning I was overcome by this strong sense of kindredness which I wish I could say happens to me more often than the rare times it actually does. I thought, Something about the way her mind works and the way my mind works feels the same. Our journeys have been entwined ever since.

Years later, when the first thread gave the first tug that began the unraveling of my life as I then knew it, Phyllis was the first person I called. She sat across from me and watched in real time as all the pieces I had so carefully crafted and constructed fell to the floor and shattered.

She later said it was one of the most beautiful things she's ever seen.

There is not a secret in me that she has not held. Not a single place she has been unwilling to journey with me, no matter how dark or embarrased or unfit for public consumption I become before it's all over. Her friendship has been a safety net that has caught me and reassured me and given me courage time and time and time again.

Cover photography and design by Liz Kalloch, lizkallochdesigns.comThis week we're sending our collaborative project into production, and today as we do the finishing touches, I'm so present to the depth and richness of the wisdom and stories we've mined in over a decade of friendship, the ways we've helped one another weave in and understand even the stories which began long before. It's the most epic piece of work I've undertaken yet, and I am just humbled beyond belief to be able to share it with you soon.

I'm a big bundle of feelings in the meantime: excited, a little nervous, very tender, but most of all deeply grateful for this woman and this friendship which have shaped and comforted and guided me all along the way.

The Iconic Self (available now for pre-order) releases January 24, 2012.