Superpower Unveiled: Contentment

#WDS Rebecca Villarreal in a cape

This is not my first, nor my last post about superpowers. Or being a superhero.

It is the first time I’m writing about contentment and sharing some steps as to how I got there. The photo above was taken after an elated moment at the World Domination Summit, a gathering of people dedicated to adventure, service and community. Together we dared to answer the question, “How do I live an unconventional life in a conventional world?”

Clearly, donning a cape in public is the first step. I was inspired by Dee Williams who created her cape out of an airplane blanket during her speech about her life’s journey to building her own tiny house. (Read a perfect tiny blog post about this speech by Tiny House builder Ethan here.) Dee asked us to stand up and tie an imaginary cape around our necks. It may not surprise you that I used my wrap as a real cape in that moment. And that I walked out of the theater and down to the waterfront wearing said cape.

Try it. Right now. Stand up, shake your cape out in front of you, like you’re shaking out a sheet or towel before you fold it. Only this time, flip it around and over your head. You walk taller with a cape. You have to thrust your shoulders back to keep it in alignment. And you are driven by a strong desire to plant your feet firmly in an open stance with your balled up fists resting on your hips.

Try walking outside with your imaginary cape. No one has to know but you. You’ll notice that you have better posture and that your confidence experiences a little lift.

All that superhero set up is to tell you that recently, I went through an all-time low. Sad, dejected, I can’t quite say hopeless, but I was in the swamp. I saw it for what it was, some things happening in my life, some in my heart and some in the world.

I asked friends for help. They gave it to me with supportive words, hugs and perspective.

I also reached deep into my bucket of resources and remained open to the ones that fell in my lap. Here’s what I found

  1. Core Desired Feelings: Many of you know that I’m a believer in the Desire Map approach by Danielle LaPorte. It’s very simple. You figure out how you want to feel every day and you keep those same feelings front of mind, and heart. My Core Desired Feelings for the last few months have been Olympic Free Trusting Joy. (Note: you can change your Core Desired Feelings when the time is right for you.) I actually analyzed what in my life was lending itself to fulfilling those feelings. And I found one thing that was completely jacking it up: JEALOUSY. I thought I wasn’t one of those people that experiences jealousy, you know, those human people.  Then I realized I wanted someone else’s freedom. Freedom of time. And that was making me angry. I know, I know, be grateful, grass isn’t greener and all that. Come on, Rebecca, INSPIRE NOW! I couldn’t, until I zeroed in on the areas of my life where I’m free. So I took a five-hour semi-spontaneous bike ride along the lake and even went swimming in my biking clothes.


I looked for other smaller windows of freedom like the quiet moment of reflection over my favorite Assam tea. Then I looked at areas of my job where I’m so free to create new tools to help the folks I love and adore. And the list kept expanding until I forgot about looking at someone else’s freedoms and I couldn’t find my jealousy because I was too busy being content and noticing miracles around me…like the tree pictured below on my bike path to work. If you want to play with generating your own Core Desired Feelings, visit this groovy graphic maker where you can plug in your favorite words to make your own electronic or printable visual reminder.


  1. Tapping: I had heard about the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) from two of my most trusted advisors over the last few years and had dabbled, but not really tried. Tapping or EFT, is a blend of acupressure and talk therapy that has been scientifically proven to alter your brain chemistry. And here’s the kicker, you do it on yourself! I took a free webinar from Jessica Ortner to use tapping for weight loss, but really, I have used it to deal with anxiety, anger or sadness (in the form of disappointment mostly). It has been one of the most powerful paths to letting go of those feelings. It’s so simple, this short video is my go-to right now just to remind myself how to do it. The best part of tapping has been that it allows the “negative” feeling to bubble up and move through me,  then allows me to still love and accept myself. (As opposed to that internal script, “You shouldn’t feel this way! Look how fortunate you are!) This is particularly helpful to those of us who focus so much on gratitude that sometimes we smush down the negative feelings deeper and deeper so they have no where to go but in our guts, or to manifest in other physical triggers of stress. You can also just search EFT on YouTube and find a range of videos.
  1. The No-Diet: If you’re a faithful reader, you know I’ve spent time green juicing and being a vegan and a vegetarian as well as thriving with Weight Watchers. I loved those moments and I loved how I felt. Here’s the kicker: I’m done. I’m done with those rules and that rigor. I love food. I love exercise—fun stuff like biking, walking, swimming, yoga, soccer and dancing. So that’s it. I’m just eating real food. And drinking real wine. Mostly Pinot Noir and Rioja. No more rules. Just paying attention to what I eat, keeping it mostly whole organic non-GMO. And I’m so content.

There are more things I’ve been doing, like binge TV watching on the Kindle while doing dishes and working out (Scandal, Modern Family, Green Arrow). That’s been another outlet when I’m jonesin’ for freedom because it’s simple fun. I’ve made dates with my husband and with friends. I’ve laughed a lot with my kid. And I’ve prayed to God, my guardian angels and my guides to just help me be a vessel and make things easy. Mostly, I haven’t overdone anything. And for me, that’s revolutionary. That’s contentment.

I’m sending you a cape, some good posture and a superhero hug from me. Just be. You’re enough. You’re enough. You’re enough. And if you have any doubt, click on this Kid President video or watch it below. To quote him, “You have everything right now to change the world. If you want to be awesome, treat people awesome. I’m talking about compassion.” Sometimes, you have to treat yourself with compassion. Sometimes you have to see yourself as awesome, just the way you are.

Get Your Brave [Bot] On.

#weneeddiversebooks #bravebot #RebeccaVillarreal #cucalacas

Pick one thing!

Pick one thing!

Pick one thing!

It’s so hard, but I will try to focus on one tool that stuck with me from last week. I had a life-changing experience at The World Domination Summit (WDS). It’s taking every fiber of my being to share the energy in bits, because there was so much to take home for my mind, heart and soul.

WDS is the brainchild of author Chris Guillebeau. I can’t wait for his latest book, The Happiness of Pursuit, to to be released on September 9. Over the course of ten years, Chris has traveled to every single country in the world. After 9/11, he wanted to “do something.” So in time, he launched the World Domination Summit. He invited people to Portland to answer the question: “How do you live a remarkable life in a conventional world?” With the core values of adventure, service and community, I joined 3,000 people at WDS, now in its fourth year. Chris doesn’t take a salary for the event and though there are a few staff members, the summit wouldn’t exist without the corps of amazing volunteers who truly wanted to be there. I’ve never felt so much love and commitment to service in one room.

I will tell you that as a human vessel, I was moved more than I’ve ever been moved in my life. Don’t I look like I’m about to explode with joy? Dominate the world? I intentionally took plenty of time alone when not in sessions to come down off of the excitement and soul-moving stories and insights. If you like TED Talks, this was like TED on steroids while being surrounded by some of the most kind and interesting people from around the world. I met scientists, software designers, day traders, writers, artists, musicians and world leaders. And when I say world leaders, I mean ordinary people taking small and big steps every day to change the world.

World Domination Summit #WDS2014  Armosa Studios

(Photo credit: Armosa Studios)

So here’s my one thing I’ll share today: Gary Hirsh launched Bot Joy to help people feel brave. One eleven-year-old girl with diabetes used her Brave Bot to inject her arm with insulin before every meal. She’s gone through several bots because she rubs them again and again, wearing the paint off. The impetus for this project is based upon Gary’s childhood memories of waking up with nightmares of monsters. His dad encouraged him to draw and name the monsters during their 3:00am kitchen table sessions. Years later, Brave Bots were born. At WDS, Gary asked, “What’s one brave thing you’ve done?” Stop and think about it. Brave things can come in small packages. Your answers might surprise you. He also asked,

What’s one brave thing you want to do, but haven’t?”

One of my favorite answers (from Gary’s friend) was:

“Write a book. What if it sucks? What if I get lost in the middle and can’t find my way out? What if nobody cares? What if it’s not funny? What if it’s not smart? What if it’s not truthful? What if it is? (And which is worse?) What if my mom reads it and makes that pursed-lip face and then has no comment beyond pointing out a grammatical error on page 47?”

Okay folks, so here’s my brave thing I want to do but haven’t:

I am taking some time off from working on my novel, The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderón, A Globetrotting Magical Mystery of Courage, Food and Friendship. I decided to move publication to 2015. And for the very driven Rebecca, this takes courage. I am choosing to slow down so I can stay healthy while working and enjoying life with family and friends. This is a brave step in staying whole.

Here’s the other brave part: at the top of this post, I’m hanging with my bot. And for the first time, I’ve unveiled the cover of my novel just for you, dear readers! Isn’t it beautiful? I love, love, love it! Alvaro Villanueva of Bookish Design created it.

This makes it real, folks. As if it wasn’t already.

So what’s one brave thing you want to do, but haven’t?

To experience more of Gary Hirsch’s presentation at WDS, click here.

To see my fellow WDSers activating their bots, click here.

To steal Gary’s idea and make your own bot (really, he wants to you to), click here.

Sending you love and bravery, every single day from me and my bot, Olympia. (I just named her that.)


Meet my noisy neighbor, Fear


I’m not exactly sure when she moved in. But I do know fear’s been with me since 5th grade. That year, the boy who liked me followed me home and punched me in the jaw because I wouldn’t be his girlfriend. Fear’s been that neighbor with the music pounding through the walls in my head when I submitted my first poem for publication. She came to visit me when my son was in the hospital, but she spent the whole time talking about herself. She’s been planting her lawn chair on my property poking at my heart each of the seven times I took a risk on love, until this last try worked out. She stands at my fence with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth yammering away as I expand my novel answering the questions asked by characters eight years ago when I didn’t know them well enough to answer. Or I was just too afraid?

What’s your fear?

Is it your boss? Heights? The dark? Your dream of becoming a writer, singer, chef, CEO, marathon runner, spouse, parent? Or is it just a fear of speaking up?

Fear’s that noisy neighbor inside your head. You might be so used to her voice that you think she’s your imaginary friend.

Fear tells you, “You’re not good enough, smart enough, brave enough…” And then there’s the way she controls others: “They’re going to laugh at you, find out your secret: that you don’t know what you’re doing.” Eckhart Tolle might call that voice your ego–those thoughts that are not real. Those voices are not real. What’s happening in the moment is real.

How much power do you want to give fear?

I’m not going to tell you to laugh in the face of fear. Though sometimes, you have to admit that the conversations with your neighbor, from an objective standpoint, or if they were in a movie, might be funny in a neurotic sort of way. Please know that I’m not referring to the fear when in life-threatening situations. That’s a different kind of fear. But even in those circumstances, I think that humans have the capacity to dig deep.

What about “tragedy”?

I asked Pam Teaney Thomas, the winner of my Birthday Blog Giveaway, about fear. I met her when speaking in South Dakota last year. She’s a remarkable woman, an artist and an activist who works with youth. She has seen her share of fear in the form of two life-threatening situations. Her house, including most of her paintings, burnt down. And she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Here’s what she said:

When I think of the hard times…you find the courage to go through them by those who have walked the path before you and are standing on the other side. They understand your fears, pains and needs. They made it, therefore so can I. The support of my Faith, Family and Friends were huge in pushing through. Each hard time made the next hard time not so hard. You become tempered like steel…Sharper, stronger, and shinier. You recognize that by walking through it there can be a sliver lining if you keep your eyes open to it. Count Your Blessings and Name them One by One and you will see what The Lord hath Done. Truly at the first anniversary of our Fire that is what we did, (it was hard especially for my 17 year old son, but was the best thing we could force ourselves to do). We are now 7 years out and we don’t miss that dinner together each year to celebrate the blessings, not the loss.”

Easy Tools to Deal with Fear

My friends, we can learn from Pam and we can learn from Fear. Here’s what I do now:

  1. Ask for help: I did this when I recently experienced a wave of almost paralyzing fear about publishing my novel. (The closer it becomes to a reality, the more my neighbor wants to keep me company.) I asked some lovely people to hold me up in a bubble of bravery, and that’s what they did, in words, through Facebook posts, with photos, and in thoughts and prayers. I also asked the divine for help. I pulled out all the stops, God, angels, guides, universe, fairies, moon—it made me exercise my vulnerability muscle in a whole new way.
  2. Push the button to walk. I actually walk through my fear like a swamp, because I know there is dry steady land on the other side. Steven Pressfield author of The War of Art, wrote about fear as a good thing. It can be a helpful messenger in showing you how much you want something. So the more frightened you are of taking action, the more you know it’s what you’re called to do. It can sometimes provide you with the adrenaline rush you need to get a task done.
  3. Write. It can be a poem. Or just a scrap of paper that you later rip up or burn over the stove. It can be a journal entry. An email to a friend. Try it. In writing down your fear, you face it differently. It can help you separate from those noisy voices and more objectively decide how much longer you want to pass the time with those thoughts and feelings.

Here’s an excerpt from a poem I wrote last week while swimming in the swamp of fear. One fear had triggered another and another until I was all memories and pain. It’s called: “A New Path.”

Higher self hanging by the tips of angels

feel my fingers slipping

go back to the page

repair one line at a time

fill in the space

between your eyes

there’s a knowledge

in everyone’s heart

and it rests right here

it rests right here


You can buoy your dreams

on a raft of chants, songs

steps on that new path

you wouldn’t have it

brick by brick

heel mark



the charity of a new day

embrace it before

it’s gone again

So tune out your noisy neighbor when you need to, or shake your booty at her and use her yammering voice to propel you forward. Embrace this new day, my friend, it’s the only one you have right now.

Big hug from my heart to yours,


P.S.: For some other resources on dealing with fear* check out:

  1. Brené Brown: If you just want a 10-minute fix and a chance to laugh, here’s one of my favorite clips from her speech at the World Domination Summit. The ultimate victory over fear is to be able to choose vulnerability, to risk your heart in the face of it. If you’re not familiar with her research, consider watching Brené’s 19-minute TED talks focused on vulnerability and shame. They get at the heart of fear as well. I’ve also just started reading her latest book Daring Greatly and it’s amazing. If you’re already a fan, check out this recent interview with Jonathan Fields of The Good Life Project.
  2. Danielle LaPorte’s Making New Mind Grooves: A Discussion about the Neuropathways that are steering your life. This is a great way to train your brain out of its habits of worry or negativity. She also recently wrote about love and having a gentle heart, yet building a fence around it. You don’t have to let everyone in. That one resonated with me as I balance compassion with self-care.
  3. Hay House World Summit: This is a free online summit that started yesterday. You’ll be able to hear 30+ speakers online on a range of topics. I believe that for $7.00, you’ll have anytime access to 100+ speakers. (Registration fees go to their nonprofit.)

Finally, you can follow Pam Teaney Thomas on Twitter @PamTeaneyThomas

*Items one and two contain an occasional well-placed swear word in case you are sensitive about that. Stick with the content, it’s going to make you feel worlds better.