What I Chose After Two Deaths

I remember a colleague in the industry asking me about a year and a half after my brother’s tragic passing if my business had grown (that she had this “weird” feeling it had). 

I told her she was right and we proceeded to talk about that…that you can be heartbroken but fill that partially broken heart by helping to fill others’ lives/hearts.

I always got that intellectually, but never really got it in my bones or understood it emotionally as much as after opening myself up vs. closing down after loss…and then doing it again after my Mom’s unexpected passing two years later.

The reason that a business, a marriage, a motherhood or friendships can continue to grow or blossom, I now attribute to one thing — and that’s what you see on this post it, which was not written by me, but by Nolan (13).

I’ve never really talked about openness in an outright fashion with him, however, he has lived the experience with me which doesn’t mean it’s always been pretty or hasn’t been confronting to him. 

I’ve never hidden my tears, nor how I feel about any uncomfortable thing (or any wildly ecstatic thing, for that matter, p.s. spoiler alert: opening vs. closing down brings ecstatic feelings eventually). 

Losing my Mom after Dino only gave me more room, or more of a chance or opportunity to test this out some more, the ‘can I stay open’ bit…can I? And it’s not just open as in sharing, it means open as in expanded or expanding opportunity, continuing to say yes to your creative projects, to meaning and to living life larger than you maybe had before.

I am open.

So often when we lose anything, a job, a friend or family member, we can feel (especially at first), in the first months or years that we want to close up, that we want to hide or we don’t want to show how messy we can be inside of the feeling body we’ve been given…

But to choose to stay open or optimistic, even a crack at first, doesn’t simply help you heal, but helps others connect to you [relation-ship] and connect back to themselves and humanity (which today, we need more now than ever). 

I am open.

That was Nolan’s intention yesterday morning. As I shared the other day, he writes his intentions on Sunday nights or, sometimes, Monday mornings. Yesterday though, we forgot to write it on his dry erase board, so as we were leaving the house, I grabbed a sharpie and a post-it note and had him write his chosen intention on the way to school.

Not that he really needs the reminder, however, I still play his mom and reminded him to write something that might be helpful for his last final and, of course, for how he wants to feel the rest of the week. 

This is what he wrote down and now I have it as a reminder in the car from my own week ahead.

Life intimates life, doesn’t it? And our kids imitate us.

They may or may not listen to our words all the time, but they feel us and see us and boy do they watch intensely… 

They do absolutely understand what we’re trying to teach them, but it’s more through our actions and the decisions we make for our own lives than those we make for theirs. 

I am open.

I will stay open.

And the world will open —

Make happiness your business by creating your authentic brand…enjoy your business, enjoy your life! 

Life is good,

michelle-black-sig-md-light
Michelle Ghilotti
Success Designer, Brand Activator & Social Entrepreneur 

What My Wrinkles Have Shown Me (and questions to ask yourself)

This is the woman who wants to (will) jump out of a plane.

This is the same woman clinging to her son on top of the Shanghai TV Tower (used to be one of the tallest buildings similar to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai which I‘ve been atop and had a similar nerve-wracking experience at).

It’s funny, really, and expresses how much I desire to conquer the feelings I have about heights. I’ve been paragliding, zip lining, love to hike as high as I can go, have been on top of the tallest buildings I can muster while traveling and even signed up for trapeze school a couple years ago to massage the fear out (more like climb, shake and hang it out). 

And I *am* noticing the fear dissipates each time, but it’s still there (I wish we had a video of the experience here in Shanghai).

I know, of course, the things most of us reach success at, we do or we get there regardless of the fear. Want to reach your version of successful? Chip away at what normally stops you in your tracks — is it heights…the relationship with your father?  Love up on it. Wrestle with it if you have to…but whatever you do, be consistent at it and do it regardless if it feels good that day. This is how I’ve succeeded in other areas and so I’m doing the same with these mixed’ish feelings around heights.

I could stop sharing there (and I was going to), but when I look at these photos again and see both the joy and fear (the three of us were in tears — Josh and Nolan laughing with and *at* me), I think about the beneath the surface conversation that may be helpful to other women, too, that I’ve had with Josh on this trip as our teenager sleeps or reads his book.

I‘m not shy about outing my wrinkles, my tears or my joy (original post about the wrinkles here,  and this trip I noticed something in photos and videos I had thought privately before but wasn’t ready to fully discuss or own.

I realized that as a woman who hasn’t intervened with any wrinkle-be-gone methods, that the years of losing my brother and mother have progressively shown themselves on my face. That love, those lessons, and that life are there.

I said to Josh, “I understand that it’s not just about age, but the years I’ve spent both living the sadness, the crying and the stress and the years (within those years) that, as a result, I’ve recommitted to living, crying out of laughter and enjoying life even more than I already was (#friendshipexperiment). All of it is memorialized on my face, but the difficult years through grief maybe taking the lead.”

It’s been a reconfirmation for me of what I know I also need, I told him ~> more continued honesty in my friendships and extended family and generally — and, of course, more discussing aging by way of asking “but how am I living/how are we living?”…

(Above all the compassionate and real things Josh said, this gem: “…yes, you, like I, have more wrinkles now than we were younger.”). Simple. Truth. 🤣

Fear and joy or tears and laughter show on our faces. Yes, we can change it, cover it, filter it (all good), but the truth remains ~ can we, as we have with the other harder truths of our time, surrender or soften into it? Be like water?

And — are we pausing long enough during the fast pace to take inventory of the life we’ve lived (what does it mean? what are my life experiences pulling me toward?) and of what we need emotionally *over* physically, time and time again?

Sometimes we live out or commit to, unconsciously maybe, to the human or physical experience so much that we forget to tend to the internal environment. We’ve heard that beauty comes from here, too, but I don’t think we genuinely understand how deep that river of truth runs most of the time. 

It’s not always about changing the fact that we have (way) more wrinkles or softer skin (definitely what I’m noticing), maybe [unless we truly want to which I support women in doing], but also about more fully understanding what the rings of our tree of life mean and what of that life experience we can use to champion or “back” our purpose or the meaning we pump into our work and personal life.

That and understanding why we’re even noticing the wrinkles more ~ what aren’t we talking about (what’s our kryptonite)? What do we need emotionally? Who do we want to spend more time with and who don’t we? What part of our life aren’t we yet living? What has come to a close and what is just beginning?

What — for you — is just beginning?

Make happiness your business by creating your authentic brand…enjoy your business, enjoy your life! 

Life is good,

michelle-black-sig-md-light
Michelle Ghilotti
Success Designer, Brand Activator & Social Entrepreneur

Restless? Here’s Getting You Over the Hump (Video)

If you’ve been thinking (and thinking and thinking) about starting a business or a consultancy of some sort but haven’t pulled the trigger, maybe this idea and shift of focus will get you over the hump…this is an old video that popped up in my Facebook memories I thought you’d enjoy if you haven’t already watched it.

Make happiness your business by creating your authentic brand…enjoy your business, enjoy your life! 

Life is good,

michelle-black-sig-md-light
Michelle Ghilotti
Success Designer, Brand Activator & Social Entrepreneur 

Artists for Great Good (Annie Galvin and CA fires)

We had Annie Galvin (Anne Galvin) as one of our speakers at the NorCal edition of the Greater Good Party last May.

An outstanding human (an outstanding, talented and humor-filled human). Her talk was uplifting, colorful and valuable for all.

As many Californians did when we first saw it, I loved her bear hugging CA art. When I found out how much money she had raised for those devastated by the fires last October (150k + if I remember correctly?), I was grateful to her and her husband, impressed and, generally, excited by how much good our creativity — our art — in whatever way that comes or is expressed, can do…

This year is no different. Her studio continues to do so much for California; for our neighbors.

Thank you, Annie and all artists, creatives and talented humans across industries who continue to use their creativity for great good!

You can find these print editions and more on her site at 3fishstudios.com.

Make happiness your business by creating your authentic brand…enjoy your business, enjoy your life! 

Life is good,

michelle-black-sig-md-light
Michelle Ghilotti
Success Designer, Brand Activator & Social Entrepreneur