Monday, May 26, 2014

Are you Stepping Boldly?

I got the following email from today:

"Always, it's the one with a certain and definite dream, who boldly steps into the uncertain and indefinite, who goes the farthest and throws the best after-parties."

Are you stepping boldly into the uncertain and indefinite?

I feel I have the first part.  I have a certain and definite dream to make a living as a fiction novelist.  And the second part, to step boldly into the uncertain and indefinite... I feel I did that too, it just didn't work out.

When I quit my last full-time job as an educational interpreter, that was a pretty bold step.  I took the leap of faith.  I stepped out on that limb.  I focused on writing full-time, and self-published 3 full-length novels, and one novella.  Yet, I didn't see the monetary reward of doing that, and that's the hard part.

Sometimes dreams take a little longer to come to fruition though.  Think about the professional athletes who spend all those years through their childhood, into high school, college, and sometimes beyond, before getting chosen by a professional team and before they can make any money through doing the sport they love.

Think about the stories of authors, dancers, and actors who didn't "make it" until they were later on in life.  Morgan Freeman, I think I read, was in his 50s before "making it" as an actor.  And he's an exceptional actor!  Stephen King has MANY books out there that didn't take off, until the ones that did.

Stories like this abound.  Perhaps the only way to truly know if you want something is for it not to come easy.  For you to try and "fail" on multiple accounts, but to stick with it.

When I started my current traditional job as a job coach, I thought I might be done with writing.  For a period of time I wondered if I had written the books I was meant to write, and it just wasn't meant to be for me... that I was meant to stick to working a traditional job, with the steady paycheck and nice benefits.

But seeing as how I've only been in that job 3 months and I'm already getting that spiritual urge to "run," I don't know that sticking with traditional employment is for me after all.

I say "spiritual urge to run" because it truly feels spiritual.  It's coming from deep within me.  My job is secure.  It's comfortable.  It's a good job.  But my spirit is still calling out.  My spirit feels discontent.

This reminds me of part of the book I'm still reading by Robin Roberts, "Everybody's Got Something."  I can't find the page to quote it exactly right now, but the gist is this:

Many of us don't like to hurt others' feelings, disappoint people, or come across as rude.  So we often make choices that take that into account.  But when it comes to our LIFE, you've gotta drop the fear.  Do what you need to do.

Of course that still doesn't mean to be purposely mean, hurtful, or inconsiderate.  But it's your life; it's in your hands alone; and the outcome is up to you (to a large extent).

In Robin's case, she was talking about a time in the course of her treatment, when she wanted to make a change, but didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings.  Hers really WAS a potential life or death situation.  Most of our dilemmas aren't so dire, at least not in that sense.  But your life is just as important.

Think about your dreams.  Are you taking bold and consistent action towards them?  That doesn't mean you have to drop everything and dive head-first into the water that is your dream.  But make your way there.

I saw an interview years ago with Po Bronson on the Oprah show after the release of his best-selling book, "What Should I Do With My Life."  If you haven't read it, I also highly recommend it.  To give you a brief summary, Po had a high-profile, very high-paying job.  But he wasn't satisfied with his life.  He was discontent and unhappy.  He made the choice to walk away from his job and be an author full-time.  In his interview with Oprah he said it like this (paraphrasing): "I wasn't going to choose money and then my dream.  Instead, I chose to work my way there, little by little."

Also remember (as I am now) that we don't know HOW things will work out.  And it's not even important that we do.  What's important is to focus on what you desire.  Focus on the end result.  HOW you get there... leave that up to the Universe.

In peace and love,

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Beware the "Mind Threat"

Have you ever felt that instant surge of fear, anxiety, or nervousness that accompanies a perceived threat?  But you may not have been able to identify any actual threat, or reason why you're feeling that way?

This happened to me yesterday.  In fact, it's been happening a long time.  It probably happens to all of us throughout our lives.  Someone said something that it instantly triggered my fear response.

For me, at least at that moment, that internal reaction was one of not feeling good enough, not feeling loved, and fear of abandonment.

My ego mind was saying, "This is not good," "I need to do something about this," "I need to control this situation."  

And a year ago I probably would have gone to "that place" and made an even bigger issue out of something really very small.  But fortunately I've learned and grown a lot in the past year and was able to remind myself to just sit with it.  Let myself feel the disturbance, as Michael Singer might suggest.  Keep my heart open and let the fear pass right on out.

We're never going to be 100% free of fear.  There will always be things, little and big, that pop up in our lives that elicit that immediate fear response.  Sometimes they will be warranted, but other times it will just be our ego taking over and running out of habit.  That is the precise time to let go of old fear-inducing habits and grow.

But back to the title of this post: "The Mind Threat."  I realized yesterday as I was letting my fear pass through that there was no actual threat.  It was in my mind.

Someone had said something and with just a single sentence, really a single word, my habitual fear response tied to that word was sparked.

Just because our fear response is set off, it doesn't necessarily mean there's something to be afraid of. It's important to remember that.  That's why I call it the "mind threat."  It's a threat that exists solely in our minds.  Created by our past experiences and our egos.

What mind threats do you have?  

Sometimes we may not even know what our mind threats are until something sets them off.  Our minds are like a mine field.  But when something does trigger a mind threat, just be aware of it.  See what's going on.  Sit with it.  Just let it be.

That's how it will work its way out of your system.  Notice it, but notice it for what it is.  Not for what it isn't.

It isn't a real threat (first you must decide this, of course).
It isn't something you need to control.
It isn't something you need to push down, ignore, or stifle.

It's a part of you that you've been carrying around.
A part that doesn't serve your best interest or highest good.
A part that it's ok to let go of.  

Knowing the difference between mind threats and actual threats is important.  It's an ability you need to hone and grow.  How do you know the difference?

First, get quiet, get still, and let it be.  Don't immediately seek to do anything.

Sometimes it will be clear that it's a mind threat and not an actual threat within a few minutes.  Other times it might take a couple of days.  It depends how deep the issue runs for you.

If it's not something that genuinely requires immediate attention and action, just let it be for a while.  Don't fight it.  Don't do much of anything.  Give it time.

During this time relax your mind.  Relax your heart.  This will also help you to determine if this perceived threat is something that needs addressing, or something that's a mind threat.

It takes time and practice to get good at this.  Each perceived threat is an opportunity to improve and grow.  And what matters is that we all make an effort to improve and grow.

In peace and love,

Monday, May 19, 2014

What's Your Mess?

I'm reading a new book right now - "Everybody's Got Something," by Robin Roberts.  I'm only a few chapters in, but it's very interesting and if you're looking for a motivational, inspirational book, I recommend this one!

One line (so far) really jumped out at me from the book.  "Make your mess your message."  Robin writes that that was something her mother used to say.

I think that's a profound way to live one's life.  We all have "something."  Whether we were abused as children (or adults), lived through foster homes, survived growing up with an alcoholic parent, had a spouse that left us, find out that we can't bear children... whatever that "something" is, we all have it.  And instead of brushing it aside or trying to push it down or ignore it, why not make it your message?

I'm sure you've seen people whose lives are changed and shaped by a certain circumstance in their life.  For example, parents whose child has a rare illness or disease make it their life's purpose and mission to raise money to try to find a cure.  If they hadn't had the child they had, they likely never would have jumped into that cause.

I remember a convocation I attended when I was teaching.  It was a guy who was born without arms or legs.  That was his "mess" in his life.  But he made it his message by touring the country and showing young people that they can do whatever they want in their lives, no matter what perceived limitations they may have to deal with along the way.

Your "mess" may not be as extensive as being born without limbs, or surviving an abusive childhood.  Mine isn't.  Mine, I believe, is that I've held such a wide variety of jobs in a variety of industries.  More than anything else, it seems that's what makes me different from other people I meet.

When I meet someone new and we're having that common conversation of what you do for a living, my story inevitably includes a variety of things, or a comment about how "now" I am ______, but I "used to" ______.  I've never had a simple answer to "What do you do?"

And when I tell people my story, briefly in that early conversation, the typical response I get is one of surprise or "Oh, I could never do that."  Meaning, they could never switch jobs like I have, or switch career fields.  Even if they're unhappy in what they're currently doing or have done in the past.

It's baffling to me, and I suspect some of my readers are more like me in that you DO understand how to "jump ship" and try something totally new and different.  In fact, I know some of you have done just that.  But the vast majority of the people in the world don't seem to be like that.  They seem to get into a career or go down a job path, and stick with it.  Through good times and bad.  They just stay on the path they're on, or perhaps shift it very slightly.

Anyway... when I read that line in Robin Roberts' book, that's what came to mind for me.  My "mess" is never having settled into a steady career path, and always feeling the desire and urge to do something new and different.  Ever since college, I envied people who seemed to really fit into their chosen career path.  They loved it.  They were passionate about it.  They got into it and stuck with it for the long-term.  I've never felt that way.  I've had many "false starts."  Many careers and jobs along the way that I thought were "my path."  Only to have that familiar urge to move on return a few weeks, months, or years later.

I'm realizing now that that is probably my message.  My message that if I can do it, you can too.  That you don't have to feel stuck in any job or career path.  If you want to do something different, you can!  That was part of my impetus when I started this blog.  Because I wanted to share that message with as many people as I could.

I'm still working on how to hone it even more, and how to get my message out to even more people.  But life is a work in progress.  For everyone.

What's your "mess?"  What is it about your life that is unique or challenging?  The challenges are here to teach us something.  And maybe part of what they're here to teach us is that it's our job to teach others, and help others who are going through the same thing.  

So I'll ask again... What's your "mess?"  How can you make it your message?

In peace and love,


Thursday, May 15, 2014

"I Want To" vs. "I Should"

Do you often struggle with what you WANT to do versus what you feel you SHOULD do?  I think it's certainly a normal part of life.  And unfortunately, it seems, our "wants" don't always match up to our "shoulds."

This has been a point of struggle for me in recent years.  I still don't have the answer.  I'm still trying to balance following my heart, my passion, and my interests... and being "smart" and responsible.

For example:  I WANT to be a full-time fiction writer.  And I SHOULD work a full-time job with a steady paycheck.

I'm still hoping that one day those two will merge.  One day my fiction writing WILL provide the steady, abundant paycheck I need to live on.  But the present reality is, it doesn't.

What dreams, desires, goals, or wants do you have for yourself that currently conflict with your shoulds?  How are you dealing with that?

I believe in the power of our thoughts.  I believe that what we think, eventually comes to pass, in one way or another.  That's why I'm so reticent to "resign" myself to thinking, "Oh, I just have to work a steady job for that steady paycheck."  I know there are other ways to make a living than working a steady, traditional job.  So I continue to work on my thoughts and beliefs around that matter.

Likewise, HOW we think about something can make all the difference.

I "should" just keep working at my job, bringing in the steady paycheck, enjoying the benefits.
I WANT to continue working at my job so I CAN bring in the steady paycheck and pay all my bills!

Call me crazy, but I like having a house to live in.  I like having a car to drive.  I like cable television, cell phones, and internet.  I also like to eat, and I like to provide for my animals.  These LIKES require money to fund them.  And I LIKE making money.  My money SOURCE right now is my traditional job.  I'm grateful for it.  I'm thankful I HAVE a job that allows me to have these things I like and want.

It wasn't too long ago that that wasn't the case.  Just 3 months ago I didn't have a job.  I was on the tail end of my "copywriting career," if you could call it that.  It never got off the ground, really.  I made a go of it, it didn't work out, and that's just how it is.  I was nearly out of savings and had no clue what I would do for money after I ran out.  Then came this job.

I was ecstatic when I got it.  I wrote a post on that too.  I have noticed myself, though, slipping back into the "have to" of my job.  I "have to" go to work.  I "have to" do ______.

Remember though, it's all about HOW we think about stuff and the words we use.  Words carry feeling behind them.

I "have to" go to work can become "I WANT to go to work because I LIKE receiving the paycheck every other Friday, and I LIKE watching my savings go UP instead of down!"

I'm still going to piggy-back on my post yesterday and say that I believe we should all continue following our hearts and pursuing our passions.  Giving up on your passions, stopping chasing your dreams, that's virtually the end of LIFE if you ask me.  At least the end of the fun part of life!

So don't give up your dreams.  Don't stop pursuing what you ultimately would LOVE to do with and in your life.  But also practice being grateful for what you have and where you are RIGHT NOW.

It's all a stepping stone.  Your place in life as you read this isn't (most likely) your final spot.  It's not the end of the road, the last stop on the train.  The road goes on.  Farther than the eye can see. The train has more stops.  Just hang on.  Keep going.

Appreciate your present station in life, and USE it to get to the next station.

Enjoy the ride!  WANT to live your life to the fullest and WANT to be your best self, wherever you are!

Peace and love to you.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Getting back to Balance

I have been feeling way out of balance for a while now.  I'm working my way back.  And writing this post is one of the first steps.  

When I started my new job almost 3 months ago now, I was ecstatic.  It had been far too long since I had a steady income, or much of an income at all, and I was more than thrilled to have that paycheck coming in again.  I was also excited about the job itself.  What it entails is right up my alley in many ways.  So, as I often do, I dove in, head first.   

I've spent the last 3 months totally immersed in my new job.  There has been a lot to learn.  Now that I'm getting the hang of it, I'm starting to feel more and more overwhelmed.  

It seems it should be the opposite.  Once I got the hang of the new job, I should feel less overwhelmed.  But I'm not.  I finally think I figured it out.  

The reason is this:  When I started, it felt right, and necessary, to devote a large chunk of my time and energy to learning the new job and getting as proficient at it as I could, as quickly as I could.  I didn't mind, and even enjoyed, working extra hours and going the extra mile.  I was learning.  It was new and exciting.  

Now it's not new, and not as exciting, and I noticed that I was still caught in the pattern I had established from day 1:  work, work, work; give, give, give.  I'm already feeling burned out, and it hasn't even been a full 3 months!  

Time to step back, remember my priorities, and establish some boundaries.  

Have you gone so far down a certain path, to the detriment of other parts of your life?  Have you let one area of your life take too much of your time and energy, to the point where there's nothing left for your other priorities?  

That's precisely what I've done.  I miss walking my dogs more regularly.  I miss social time with friends.  And I miss writing.  I miss this blog.  That's why this is part of my first step back to balance. I haven't figured out yet when I'll write my posts... in the morning, evening, or on my lunch break (like right now).  But hopefully I will be able to refocus and re-establish my priorities and direction I want my life to go.  

I like my job, generally speaking.  It's a great job.  But I don't feel that it's my "life's work," if you will.  I don't feel that it's the "end all, be all" for me.  But I DO feel that it could be a good supplement to my life.  A part of my life.  

Now it's just a matter of defining that "part" more clearly, and re-building up other parts that I let slide.  

I think balance is one of the hardest parts of adulthood.  I remember many times growing up when my mom would not open the mail for days, or would get frustrated and overwhelmed at what didn't seem like a big deal to me.  Now I get it.  The older we get, the more parts of our lives we have going on.  It's easy for one part to dominate, whether we intend for that to happen or not.  

In our attempt to "do it all," and stay on top of it all, sometimes things slip.  Sometimes mail goes unopened.  Sometimes calls don't get returned.  Sometimes we lose touch with friends.  It happens. What I used to see as irresponsibility, as a naive, innocent child, I see as LIFE.  

Life is busy.  Life can get chaotic.  Life is full of choices, one after another, sometimes hitting us in the face so quickly we don't know what to do.  I've been there....and not too long ago.  Luckily I feel that I'm on the upswing now.  

Want a tip?  Relax.  

I noticed I felt the most frustrated and overwhelmed when I was trying to do it all, and do it all perfectly.  Make no mistakes.  Miss nothing.  

Well, I've made mistakes.  I've missed stuff.  But you know what?  It's ok.  The world will not end.  The sky will not fall.  

Just relax and do your best.  Not the best you think others want you to do/be.  But YOUR best.  

It's your life, remember?  Sometimes it's easy to forget that.  I know for me, I can easily slip into feeling like I'm living FOR someone else.  For my dogs, for my family, for my clients at work.  But no.  I'm living FOR ME.  As are you.  

When I realized this the other day, I felt a shift inside.  Work, family, friends, other life obligations, can put as many pressures and demands on you as they want.  But it all boils down to YOU.  What do YOU want to do?  How are YOU going to live your life?  

Are you living your life the way you want?  At least as much as you possibly can right now, given your current circumstances?  If not, what small changes can you make to get more to YOUR personal balance point?  

For me that means taking time to write this blog, even if it's during my lunch break at work.  

How are you working at getting back to balance in your life?  Or how have you FOUND balance in your life?  I'd love to hear anything you'd like to share!  

*And hopefully you'll be seeing more frequent and regular posts from now on!  ;) 

Thank you for reading!  Remember, this is the ONLY May 14, 2014 that you will ever have.  How are you doing to use it?