The word “decide” means, in its barest essence, “to kill.”
Think about it: Matricide. Genocide. Suicide. Homocide.
In order to choose the powerful decisions that will propel our lives, something else has to die.
I’ve made a huge decision, and I want to tell you about it.
But first, a quick back story.
I have spent many years of my career avoiding that thing they call “niche.” Ugh. There was so much that interested and intrigued me! I didn’t want to feel boxed in. I wanted the freedom to create and offer whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. And so I did.
I’ve coached and developed programs and facilitated workshops on pretty much all the topics, as they relate to me, to women. If I’m interested or inspired, I create a program. I write a blog. I teach a class.
If it was something I was into, I’d package it and offer it.
This “farm to table” approach to my business has definitely satisfied my craving for variety and freshness, but the plain fact of the matter is this…
I have watered down my own message.
I have watered down my life.
In my efforts to be all things to all women, I have diluted my very essence.
I finally realize, the more I water myself down, the less effective I am, in all areas. It’s time to shift.
What I’m about to share with you is vulnerable, and raw in the way that only deep truth can be. I feel a slight trembling in my stomach while I type. But I want you to know exactly what is going on. I feel like I owe that to you. We owe each other truth.
“The world owes us nothing. We owe each other the world.” – Ani DiFranco
2016 has offered me profound change in my inner world, and in the way I relate to my outer world.
Its also offered me deep, incredible healing opportunities.
And its offered me the chance to actually internalize the offerings I have spent years offering others, specifically around the topic of body image and self-esteem.
Wow, imagine that, huh? Wait, what?
The plain truth was that by diluting myself, I got away from my message, in my own life.
Even though a large part of what I have been doing has been focused on “selling positive body image for a living”, my own body image had become terrible.
See, the path to full-bodied love and acceptance doesn’t end when you get up and strip for a theater full of people. In fact, that’s only the beginning of the work, if you dare continue.
Positive body image was for everybody else, but not for me. Sure, I felt good sometimes, with the right lighting or outfit, but feeling bad about myself and my body was becoming more and more pervasive.
I was withholding from myself the very freedom I celebrated and inspired in others. Yeah, pretty effed up, right? Shameful, even. After all, I wasn’t “supposed” to have these kinds of issues! So I buried them deeply. And they festered.
Over the years, my inner world got dark. My self-esteem continued to sink. The inner chatter became nearly constant and very cruel.
But I discovered a fun and convenient way to shut down those mean voices, right under my nose.
Having been a social drinker/weekend party girl all of my adult life, I noticed, without noticing, something cool happened when I was lit.
When under the influence, there were no insecurities, no cruel chatter, for a few hours every couple days, and more hours on the weekends, there was relief. I felt free. But that wasn’t freedom.
I now know, it was the opposite of freedom.
I wasn’t drinking to escape my life. My life was great, after all!
I was drinking to escape myself.
As my drinking began to escalate over the following year or so, so did the repercussions. Lots of hangovers, lots of shame. Lots of pain.
At the end of 2015, I decided to quit alcohol. And can you guess what happened? Yep. Those insecurities I had worked so hard to stifle were right there, waiting for me.
But now, I would finally deal with them, bravely.
Now, I was really ready to tackle this, to heal these patterns and wounds, for me.
This wouldn’t just be something I offered my clients. I would actually turn inward and offer this healing work to my most important client. Me.
And I can say, with humility, pride and deep gratitude, I know what real freedom is now. I’m living it.
It’s a winding path, bumpy at times, but I am 100% committed to staying on it.
Sometimes we have to test ourselves, our commitments. I dabbled this summer with being a “social drinker” again, after several months of abstinence. Yeah, the Great Moderation Experiment.
I decided relatively quickly that I needed to be sober— even better, I would rather be sober. I recommitted to this path. This path is current, it is now. So hot off the press, it’s not even off the press yet.
I am on it, I am in it, working fervently, facing myself in brave ways, examining my beliefs, patterns, triggers and self-talk like never before.
And simultaneously, my work in the world is preparing itself to become the most honest, brilliant and accurate reflection of the work happening within me.
There’s a new incarnation of my business gestating within me.
But first, more healing.
First, more purging, more clearing, more letting go.
First, some deciding. And decide means “to kill.”
As this new chapter of Lisa Carmen, LLC continues to gestate, I prepare, the way a mother does while she waits for the birth of her baby.
Uncertain of exactly what to expect, she is excited, nonetheless. She prepares the nursery. She clears clutter from the home. She nests. She nurtures herself.
And when it’s time to give birth, she knows.
I’m not there yet, but I promise, you will know when I am.
I know this will be the most personal work I have ever offered. I know it will be amazing.
To clear space for this new chapter, I’ve decided to let go of many of the programs and offerings I’ve spent much energy creating and offering.
You’re going to notice some events being canceled. You may notice my offerings lightening on the website and in my weekly Quickies.
I am pulling in my energies. I will no longer water myself down.
Be patient. Be kind. Be excited. Something great is coming.
Here’s what will continue:
Pretty much everything else will be cleared away, to create a welcoming space for what’s to come.
This feels terrifying and exciting to share. (Many of you know, I have a word for that- TERRICITED!)
It also feels entirely, completely right.
I trust this stirring. I trust this healing. I trust this journey.
I look forward to our next adventure.
I hope you do, too.
photo by Dee Hill, HAMU by Vivienne Vermuth
Welp. I had some plans, see, to hand over directorship of The Burlesque Experience so that I could be free, see… free to frolic, free to create new things, free to see what other adventures life had in store.
As it turns out, the adventure life had in store for me was not what I expected. It rarely is, really. We’ve all heard the John Lennon line “Life is what happens while we’re busy making other plans…”
Let me rewind a little. After five years, 20 consecutive seasons and bringing over 200 women to stage, to say I was tired was an understatement. Frankly, I was burned out. I was fried. I was tapped out, empty. Even the fumes that I’d been running on were gone.
I hired a new director, with lots of fanfare and celebration, we began our training in between seasons, delegating, discussing details, all the while, I was making major life changes and committing to self-care, wellness, vitality.
I was getting my mojo back.
The new director also had some major life changes over those months. She accepted an awesome full-time job that kind of fell from the sky, that she loves passionately. With two babies, a full-time job, and after hours, a busy freelance business, designing, coaching and doing burlesque, she is one busy babe. My gut kept saying this was not the right move.
I struggled with apprehension… I hate going backwards. It brings with it some of my least favorite feelings like regret, embarrassment, sheepishness. Will people understand? I mean, I even gave a ‘good-bye’ speech in front of a couple hundred people. Do I really want to direct this again? Can I love and care for this baby the way it deserves?
But the train was moving, and I had wanted to be free, remember? And I had made that speech…
Then, this week, as Life would have it, as a series of minor events, conversations, feelings, and a hell of a lot of thinking snowballed, I knew what had to happen.
I mustered all of my superhero powers to stop a moving train.
One day before the new semester was to begin.
UGH! Can I really do this? Yes, Life answered me. Yes. You got this.
It knew 100% it was the right thing to do.
She and I talked, and it just makes good sense, all around. I continue to support her in her pursuits and endeavors and am happy that she will still be an important part of the B.E. program and community.
And here’s the most surprising part: I have fallen in love with the Burlesque Experience all over again.
It’s clear to me now that what I needed last year the most was a break. A real break.
Surrender. Stillness. Silence.
I needed to focus on me, on healing, on self-care, on making some drastic lifestyle changes. (I’ll tell you more about those in another blog.) I needed to realign with my purpose, my passion, my path.
And I have.
I’m excited, I’m charged, I’m taking impeccable care of myself, I’m grounded and focused and committed and holy cow, I’m thrilled about this group of women that will be BUSTING OUT on February 26th.
Someday, I still would like to transition away to allow other leaders to step in to the Dallas operations, so I can focus on growing and expansion into other cities through licensing. I have books to write. I have programs to create. I have things to do!
For now though, one of my primary priorities is directing my baby, The Burlesque Experience.
I’m not just “okay” with that. I’m stoked.
Sometimes, we think we know our paths. We think we have it all figured out, that we know what’s next. And then life says “Hey, I have a better idea. How about going THIS way?”
I’ve said it before and I firmly believe that Life is smarter than I am. Smarter than we are. Sometimes, we just have to throw up our hands and say “Life, I trust you.”
Life, I trust you.
Photo by Dee Hill, HAMU by Vivienne Vermuth
I’ve always said I didn’t find burlesque, it found me. And in the same vein, I didn’t just create the Burlesque Experience, but in many ways, it has created me.
For nearly five years, four times a year, a group of a dozen or so women have enlisted on their burlesque adventure, and Busted-Out the other side to never quite be the same. A team of leaders, mentors and teachers has risen from this, and gathered around to support and assist in magical ways. I’ve held countless workshops, helping women Unleash their Inner Bombshells. I’ve trained others to teach this same workshop, knowing that even just a two-hour taste can be a game-changer. The Alumni Community has grown into its own living, breathing entity, supporting, caring and creating with and for one another. A perfectly imperfect tribe of human beings with a thing for glitter and a heart for one another.
I have grown as a woman, as a business person, as a community leader. I have had some lows, but many more highs, in this wild, colorful, dramatic and always interesting celebration of femininity, support, passion and life. It’s been one of my life’s greatest honors and delights to do this work. And I have made so many of my dearest friends through it.
So the signs that maybe it was time to move on went ignored, for a while.
How do you walk away from something so alive, something that thrives with a heartbeat made up of over 200 alumni, and many more supporters, fans and friends?
I ignored the signs of burn-out, I ignored the still, strong voice inside of me that wanted me so badly to tune in. I continued to stretch, to grow, to push and pull, and spread myself too thin at times.
And the time comes when one day your truth can no longer be ignored.
My truth, which had been trying to get my attention for many months with many signs, signals and situations, could no longer be ignored. But hell, it was worth a try. I found myself pretending. At times feeling so out of alignment with what I really wanted to do, and be, and say, and feel. ME… someone who teaches alignment and authenticity for a living was out of alignment and authenticity. Not all the time, mind you, but just enough to feel a certain low-grade crappiness almost all the time, under the surface, even infecting other areas.
When we are out of alignment in one area, other areas also suffer. Period.
I fell into a depression. I was burned out and empty. Getting out of bed was extremely difficult. i found myself taking three hour naps, falling deeper then into overwhelm and physical pain, triggered by overwhelm. I was numbing and escaping in as many ways as I could. Because to “walk away” seemed unthinkable. This work is so important. It has so much life in it, and joy, and purpose. I LOVE this community, and I always will, these women, their partners, families and the care and love we feel for one another has been my lifeline at times.
Yet, I was done. The time had come: I wanted to release the Burlesque Experience.
Many of you already know, but others may not, as of our next semester in January, The Burlesque Experience will be under new directorship as Sweet Darla Danger (Lisa Loving) moves into the role as I prepare it for sale. I know that her passionate and talented spirit will breathe new life and energy into B.E. She’s been an important part of the program since almost the very beginning. Our intention is that she become the new owner later in 2016. I would love to see that happen!
My heart wants to focus on other aspects of my business and my life, my relationships, my health, my writing, my private coaching practice and other programs I’m ready to create.
Ironically, my new program, Live Dangerously, kicks off September 14th, and what better way to lead a program that inspires acts of boldness and vulnerability, than to walk away from work that has become quite safe and comfortable and so rewarding in many ways, to practice my own leaping and lunging into a loosely-defined future. Because I have no choice. Life leads. I follow.
I’m learning the fine art of tuning in. I am no expert yet. But life keeps giving me opportunities to practice. To tune out the crowd, to turn down the noise, so that I can pay attention to my own Truth, my own desires and longings, so that I can follow my own drum beat. It’s exhilarating at times. Terrifying at other times. Mostly somewhere in the middle. But the Truth knows. It will not lead us astray.
This isn’t the first time I’ve made a painful decision, and I’m sure it won’t be my last, but I’ve learned to recognize and trust the Truth (eventually, after some hard core resisting, of course.)
The next few months will be ones of transition. I imagine some of it will bring tears, some stresses, some joys and exhilaration. On Friday November 20th, we are having a big Alumni Spectacular to officially celebrate the last five years and the passing of the torch. I hope you will be there.
And I hope you’ll stick around to see what new creations come forth out of this transition. And hell, why not perhaps join me in surrendering to your own life’s Truth that has been trying, in subtle or not so subtle ways, to get your attention? We can Live Dangerously together.
While I transition, I have waves of fear, waves of sadness, waves of overwhelm. But even still, I trust this Truth. I know it’s what I need to do. It’s what’s next. No one ever said Truth would be easy. But Truth is right. Every time. That’s why they call it Truth.
And when you meet yours, you know.