One of the quirks of self-employment:

There aren’t generally procedures in place to stop and acknowledge how hard you work and how much you have done and how much you care.

This came up again yesterday during a chicken with some colleagues.

That sense of come on! I want a promotion! I want a corner office! I want all the ridiculous amounts of work that happens behind the scenes to be admired and noticed!

So of course now I am unable to stop dreaming up unlikely ways that we could do this for ourselves.

Something more fun (and less intimidating) than a “performance review” … and more profound than just having a beer and awarding yourself thousands of sparklepoints, which is what I usually do.

Performance. Of course!

I called upon my favorite superhero (Metaphor Mouse!) to deconstruct “performance review” for me.

Nothing conclusive so far, but some fun and thought-provoking associations. Like cheshbon nefesh, that perfect Hebrew phrase that is, loosely, “soul accounting”.

And the truth is, while I bristle at the thought of anyone “reviewing” my work, performance does sound like fun.

Like my own personal drag show. Like cabaret. Like dancing in the park.

Like the way I am playing at business. And in business. And with business.

I play at business in many ways:

In the daily acts of steering the pirate ship (that proudly flies the Jolly Selma!).

At the Playground, my center, which I have been alternately describing as a glam pirate zen yoga studio or “preschool for adults!”.

When I wear my red sovereignty boots and my giant feather boa.

When the First Mate and I go have Drunk Pirate Council instead of “meetings”.

And when I scramble to find matching socks so I can pass as a grown up when we have to council with our CPA.

So this act of reviewing my performance could be something playful and silly and hilarious too.

The timing, also, is perfect.

I generally do go into contemplative mode towards the end of August.

This week marks five years since I launched this website (not the blog but the site) and The Fluent Self received its name.

Five years!

Not only should I totally get a corner office and an awesome plaque (wait, I already have both of those things), but it is definitely time to have some reviewing.

As long as it’s going to be sweet, deguiltified, appreciative, playful and fun … I’m in!

More of a revue than a review. But here’s how we did it.

I put on my pirate queen costume.

Then me from five years ago this week came and sat in the center of this gigantic pink couch. Which is weird, because the Playground doesn’t have a couch, but I’m just telling you what happened.

She was almost immediately joined by me from five years from now and also me from next week.

And the three of them were all smooshed together in the middle, hugging and exclaiming over each other and giggling. Like at a crazy reunion slumber party.

Then we all put on our lopsided tiaras and raised a toast to the good ship The Fluent Self, Inc. and Five Years Ago Me was astounded that it’s possible to have a corporation and not be gross and evil.

She was extremely relieved. And then Next Week Me was kind of teasing her a little until Five Years From Now Me said, sweetie, you aint seen NOTHING yet.

The four of us decided to appreciate these five years.

We acknowledged the hard (and how freaking impossibly hard the hard has been), and glowed happily over the good.

We named all the qualities that make up the culture of this crazy, silly, playful world that we have brought into being.

And pointed (literally, with these glow-in-the-dark sticks) at everything we appreciate and everything that makes us laugh.

Here’s what we are appreciating most at the moment:

The culture.

The kooky, sweet, funny, loving, warm, non-judgmental, everyone’s-freak-flag-gets-to-fly-just-as-high way of being that sets the tone for every single space in the business.

For example, this blog. It is really, truly the safest, most permission-filled, most respectful place I have ever been on the internet. The commenter mice here are amazing.

There is so much kindness (for me, for themselves, for each other) while still maintaining complete freedom to be sarcastic, cranky, grumpy, silly, obscene, whatever.

The sweetness, the acceptance, the hilarity, the curiously respectful way of relating … this is even more palpable at the Kitchen Table and even more so at live events that we do.

If I were to write a Lonely Planet style guide to my business, there would be a lot of stuff about how awesome the locals are.

The safety.

Safe spaces are a really big deal to me.

So far everything I’ve created has been a form of sanctuary. Literally or figuratively or both. Places to hide. Blanket forts! Invisibility cloaks!

Ways to feel safe being in your you-ness, and bringing more of it into the world.

Ways to take yourself seriously while still having permission to be completely silly and ridiculous.

Ways to process the process without being impressed by the fact that there are stucknesses.

The freedom.

Freedom to flail around and make mistakes and laugh and cry.

Freedom to dress up in costumes and not know what you do for a living and to avoid the things you love.

Freedom to not have to love your monsters and not to have to fight with them either.

Freedom to talk to yourself. And to be a total wackopants. And to sometimes care about things so deeply that it hurts and sometimes not remember what you care about at all.

To be who you are and where you are and how you are. And to have moments when you don’t want to.

Oh, we reviewed so many things.

But the main thing that was fun about revisiting these past five years was the spark of hopefulness.

If my business has gradually given itself the freedom and permission to be more goofy, more playful, more childlike, more wise, more sovereign, more hysterically funny (mostly just to me) …. yay.

And it seems to bode well for the future. Five Years From Now Me totally approves of bringing the silliness.

So my sense is that things are just going to become even more lighthearted and go even more deep.

There will dancing and singing in the streets. There will be worlds unto themselves. There will be chaos and there will be new form. There will be goodbyes and beginnings. There will be trust and faith and wishing.

There will be pirates. There will be pie.

I have seen what is, and it is good. And I have seen what is possible, and it smells like lilacs and wet earth and happy tears. But also like Roller Derby and sailing ships and something equally badass but entirely indescribable.

And … comment zen for today.

Reviewing things is totally hard. I do not mean even slightly to imply that it isn’t.

All this Looking Back involved remembering a lot of pain, a lot of fear, a lot of anxiousness.

Much comforting was involved. And support. And giving myself reminders that even the really crappy stuff has brought good things (and that I’m still allowed to hate it and resent it, if that’s where I’m at with it).

Anyway. Wishing you love for all the things you’re working on. Love and freedom and permission and safety and as much goofiness as feels comfortable.

We all have our stuff. We’re all working on our stuff. And we try to let everyone have their own experience.

Sparklepoints and beer for everyone who would like some. Kisses.

The Fluent Self