SHARE YOUR STORY!

How has The Life Brief impacted your life? We would love to hear your personal experience!

LISA

Young professional, doula and soon-to-be mom)

Life was great for Lisa when she first heard about TLB. She had an amazing partner, incredible friends, and a supportive family. She loved the company she worked for and the people she worked with. Everything was fine.

On a deeper level, however, she felt drained. While she loved her agency, she hated her job. She felt increasingly unfulfilled and frustrated. She found herself stagnating, dealing with different versions of the same problem. Rinse and repeat. Working in client services, she was always on call, compulsively checking email, no matter the time or day. Yet she lacked the language to express what she wanted.  

TLB opened Lisa up to write – something she had never done before. 

“Rearranging the furniture…motivated me to get it out of my mind and onto paper. I have never been someone who journals because I felt pressured to do it perfectly, every day.  But TLB opened things up for me by removing any expectations. It took away the perfectionism and broke down old structures [of thinking]. I’m a real Type-A person and I never allowed myself a lack of clarity.

TLB allowed me to have a relationship, just between me and the paper, without the pressure to be perfect. Then later, between my husband John, me and the paper. 

TLB asked questions in a way I had never been asked before. They got to what’s inside really quickly. They immediately access the most vulnerable version of yourself.

The standard questions that people ask are things like where do you see yourself in 5 years? They tend to be tactical and outwardly focused. I always tell people, TLB isn’t an action plan. It opens up what’s on the inside. The plan follows.

My Life Brief came [to life] in pieces. That’s the beauty of it.”

Lisa and her husband wrote their Life Brief in Bali, on their honeymoon, in September 2017. “I remember it vividly. We were in a coffee shop in Bali and totally uninhibited. It came to us so simply, and we’ve had very little revisions since.”

Their shared brief:

  • Start a family, being intentional and present in raising them
  • Live close to family while raising kids
  • Honor, nurture, protect and prioritize our relationship
  • Easy access to nature, with some to call our own
  • Travel somewhere new every year, in service of exploration
  • Feel fulfilled in every day
  • Financial security and the feeling of freedom that comes with it
  • Prioritize our physical and mental health through quality time and space for each other, our families and ourselves

Lisa returned to work and by February 2018 hit a breaking point. With their Life Brief in place, Lisa and John knew it was time to make their next move. They decided to travel for three months, then move back to the East Coast to be closer to their families.

Lisa became what she calls “a seeker” during their travels. She read every book Bonnie recommended. They helped expose her gut feelings, intuition, and even premonitions for their future.  This connection to her “knowing” is one that she now relies on and returns to as a guide.

When Lisa got to Boston, she struggled to find a job. Not that she didn’t get any offers. She actually received quite a few, but none of them fulfilled her Life Brief.  It was a difficult time which became increasingly demoralizing as time passed. Lisa felt her insecurity and doubt rising. 

Instead of sitting with her growing doubt, however, Lisa decided to seize this time to act on one of her curiosities. Part of her Life Brief was to re-activate her passion for learning. She had a degree in Education and craved getting back to her “roots.” 

Lisa enrolled in a doula certification program, an idea she had played with for a long time. It was a good way to occupy her mind and time while job hunting.  Surprisingly, the very day she started her doula training, she landed a job offer – to join the instructional design team at Amazon’s Alexa organization.

“I’m now deeply aware of when I’m in alignment with the things I want. I find myself ‘uncovering’ all of the time. And any time before a decision, I check in with me first.

Now I have a job that accommodates the joy of being a doula…and raising a family (Lisa is pregnant with her first child).  I’m in a partnership and marriage that I’m grateful for every day.  John was invested in this too and we committed to it together from the start.

I am very strict with how many photos I have as favorites on my phone. I have maybe 20 tops. Two of that 20 are of my Life Brief. I love having tiny points of access that give me a regular practice of revisiting it.

My yoga teacher like to say, “You don’t have to change your life altogether.  Just think about what you want to add to the pile of goodness you already have. My Life Brief is the foundation for my pile of goodness.”

Andy
(Established business leader, married dad of two kids)

As Director of Strategy at his “home” agency, Andy was married to his college sweetheart and a father of two. His wife Kristen was an emergency room nurse and they were living a harried life familiar to all young families in the Bay Area. In many ways they had an ideal life – budding careers, beautiful kids, good friends.

Yet there was longing…to be closer to family…for Kristen to paint (a long time passion)…for Andy to scratch his entrepreneurial itch. Writing TLB gave them the clarity and confidence to go for the life they really wanted. So when a job offer with a Virginia-based startup came, Andy jumped at it. The family moved ‘home’ to Richmond and Kristen became a full-time artist. It became clear within the first year of Andy’s new job that he missed agency life but wanted to create a new approach to advertising.

Soon, an opportunity to start a new kind of agency emerged and Andy joined as a founding partner. That agency is now thriving with Google as one of its biggest clients.

MEAGAN
(Young professional and recovering alcoholic)

Meagan was a young professional working at an ad agency in San Francisco when she was introduced to “The Life Brief.”

I’d say I was poised for a Saturn’s Return type coming of age. I was proud of the career I was building but struggling personally. I’d been with the agency since college graduation which amounted to five years. It was a brilliant place to work and I often felt intimidated. Despite feeling shy I was an active part in the agency’s culture – everything from the softball team to an
internal education program.

I saw Bonnie as someone to emulate. She was intelligent, kind, and generous. I was touched by her independence but also her passion and drive to help others live their best lives. I knew through my involvement with our internal education program that Bonnie was introducing The Life Brief to the agency and I was eagerly awaiting the direction.

I can still remember the moment viscerally. Bonnie was at the front of the conference room with dozens of people attending. I was there, pencil in hand, trying to work on what would be the hardest feat of my life.

The presentation was insightful and engaging but I was also growing restless. Bonnie was zeroing in on getting us to ask for what we wanted out of life but all I could feel was a pit in my stomach and my heart race. As her last words settled and the air cleared of questions, right as the conversation was about to move on, I surprised myself by blurting was gracious and candid in her response. She validated my question and went on to explain another approach to figure it out.

That impulsive moment was my first honest insight into my internal turmoil. I’d begun to expose a long-standing and deep-seeded pain in my life. What I hadn’t admitted yet, even to myself was that I was an alcoholic.

For years I’d depended on alcohol to help me feel more comfortable talking to people and to help me avoid reaching my full potential. I was scared to be myself and used alcohol as a shroud. Those years in San Francisco I was quite literally in a fog.

What Bonnie had done was create a safe space for self-exploration. The Life Brief spurred a white-hot moment of honesty for me and from that moment on the genie was out of the bottle. The genie, or Bonnie by proxy, had asked me what I wanted and wasn’t going away until I figured it out.

Bonnie followed up with me multiple times after that presentation as well. I was humbled to get the valuable coaching especially during that unhappy time in my life. I never disclosed my drinking habits (although I suspect it wasn’t a total secret).

A recruiter happened to reach out to me during this time. The job opportunity was for an up-and-coming, smaller ad agency in Southern California. I entertained the idea but didn’t really take it seriously. Once things started to unravel for me personally though, I thought moving to Los Angeles could solve my troubles.

It was really hard for me to leave the agency. I’d spent my whole post-collegiate work experience there. It was a first-rate place to work full of high-profile projects and people I was constantly learning from. I knew I was walking away from one of the best jobs I could ever have but I needed to find myself.

Of course, the trouble would follow me and being alone in a new town forced me to acknowledge my addiction. It was six months after The Life Brief that I became sober. The experience started a chain of events that got me to the place where I could finally admit to myself that I had a problem and begin the road to recovery.

Getting to that surrender was the hardest part for me. Once I knew quitting drinking was my only way to survive, I made it happen. I’m proud to say that I haven’t touched alcohol since 2015.

I’m my own person now. There’s no substance that controls me. I’m much more confident and secure with myself than ever before. Once I saw myself clearly, I was able to define my life’s values and direction. Now I’m back in the Bay Area with my fiance, our cat and dog, and a great job. I’m happy, healthy, and confident in my strengths.

Sometimes we’re on the edge of something but can’t see it ourselves. Bonnie created a powerful framework for me to begin to recognize the things I wanted in life. I’m not sure I can capture how much that experience changed my life, even saved it maybe.”

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AMY
(Partner in a global Architecture firm, married mom of two kids)

2019 was the worst year of Amy’s life. Personally, her daughter had a very rough transition to middle school. Sixth grade in a new school with new friends and a completely new set of expectations on organization, etc., was too much and she slid into a period of deep anxiety.

She was diagnosed with ADHD and is now medicated, which has helped greatly, but the year was a rocky one. Amy resented the black-hole nature of her job, which left her feeling unable to devote as much time as she wanted to help her.

Professionally, Amy had a string of second-place finishes on project pursuits – after having enjoyed years of a much greater percentage of wins. Amy felt a disproportionate load of the responsibility to get new work into the office and was not seeing the same effort put forth by other partners. Resentment set in and Amy’s interest in the work and the firm plummeted.

Her sense of responsibility to her sixty employees certainly kept her “at it”, but she was faking it – which may have contributed to the losses. By summer, Amy wondered if she should stay or make a bigger career change, unsure if this profession and role truly supported her core values. Amy had wanted to be an architect since she was five years old, so this was a significant self- directed question, and one she had not asked before.
“The Life Brief process was an amazing tool for me, full of prompts to glean ideas, insights, roadblocks, commitments, wants needs, etc. I found myself thinking of the creative process of conceptualizing the design of a building and how its creation is a cycle of doing, learning and adjusting. Through brainstorming, drawing, and writing (with our writing selves and our editing selves) we came to find clarity around a greater intention for our lives. As a creative person, the idea that this process was not linear, but a journey and a practice, was meaningful to me.

The confluence of writing, movement, and deep reflection offered me a way to step out of my daily whirl and get clarity on so many aspects of my life.

For me, the Life Brief has been a beautiful transition from diagnosing the problem to taking action. From scheduling date nights with my husband to establishing boundaries with my partners and working with an executive coach for my career – I have implemented a number of changes to my life that are positive and hopeful. I read my brief every single day, editing it when necessary to further refine my vision.

A month after returning from Costa Rica, my teenager commented, “Mom, you have been so happy since you came back from the retreat.” I was overjoyed to hear her take note of this transformation. I do have a greater sense of patience and presence with my family as well as more clarity around what I need personally and professionally.

With my husband, I make more eye contact. We talk not only about the running of the household but about books, film, travel, and many other interests that first attracted us to one another. We spend dedicated time together each day – sometimes just ten minutes sitting in the living room and checking in. We have FUN together, booking date nights each Saturday to reconnect. I share my concerns and frustrations; when I see old patterns returning, I raise the
red flag.

I have returned with a daily mission to SEE my children as they are – to shed the projected futures I have created for them and embrace the beautiful people they are becoming. I am curious about their passions and take time to show interest in their makeup, music, Tiktok videos, or coding programs. I talk much more with them and much less at them – checking my tendency to give lectures and trying to be more present in conversation with these special
young women.

With respect to my work, I walked into the first post-retreat meeting with my partners and communicated three points of clarity reached on my trip:

1. My current project with Tech Giant X would be my last for that client.
2. I would take my kids to school each day, joining meetings at 9am.
3. I would hire an executive coach to sharpen my skills as a leader of the practice.

Sharing these decisions felt GREAT, as did the resounding, “Yes!” that I heard in the room.

Years of pushing aside my own creative aspirations to be a “responsible” leader are over. The retreat and my Life Brief drove home the idea that what is good for me is good for the practice.

Looking through cabinets recently, I found a series of old journals. In rereading these many pages, I discovered the same words over and over – trapped, imbalance, exhausted. Change has long needed to take place in my life. The Life Brief has given me both the jolt and the vehicle for voicing a vision on how to make that change.

There have been moments when my old full-body reactions to frustration have returned, my stomach twisting with hurt. The Life Brief has given me an incredible tool to push back and remember that I am in charge. I am in charge of my life. This greater patience in dealing with frustrating interactions comes from the perspective given to me through the brief. I have intention for my life and it is written down, available to me at any time to review and
recommit.”

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