Change This One Thing To Attract the Right People

Then, Meet Them Here...

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Photo by Aleksandra Mazur on Unsplash

 

I love the little moments, the game-changers that shift things, changing everything from that moment on. This was one of them.

I was doing a Creative Jam Session with a client recently, a woman who is brilliant at what she does. I mean crazy brilliant.

We were brainstorming on creative ideas to get her business going in a new way.

“She intimidates me,” she said, talking about a high-profile woman for whom she’d done some coaching.

I understood. The woman had some really impressive creds, was a genius at what she did and was running a large event where she was required to speak, which is where my client was coaching her.

She floated quickly through the comment, “She intimidates me.”

It got me thinking about the idea of intimidation and more apropos to our discussion, the meaning and weight placed on it.

One definition of Intimidation is defined as "inducing fear or a sense of inferiority." 

To my way of thinking Intimidation is a wall. It’s a stopper. It’s a dam that cuts off flow.

It creates a hierarchy, a ranking order that’s created in your mind. When you allow someone to intimidate you, you place yourself in the state of inferiority. 

The truth is, it’s not real. It’s a story you make up to keep yourself safe and small, to stay in place. Even when we’re not at all aware of it.

You can’t go anywhere when you’re in intimidation, at least not anywhere forward. How can you build a successful anything if you’re intimidated by the very people you want to work with, have hire you, partner with.

Meet Them Here

I asked what it was that she found intimidating about the woman. And, it was all of those things that made the woman fabulous, the qualities that described exactly the type of client she is hoping to attract. 

And, yet, I said, “she hired you to help her with something she’s lacking, something she’s not good at. And, that you are. Her expertise isn’t yours, but yours isn’t hers either.”

The thing is, you carry intimidation into the room with you. When you’re intimidated it makes you weaker and not fully authentic. It’s an unlevel playing field with jagged surfaces and bumpy paths.

I said, "it sounds like you’re in awe of her. You admire her."

And, the energy in the room shifted. “Oh, that’s so true,” she said. That was it.

And, based on the feedback my client received, the feeling was very mutual. Chances were very strong that this high-profile woman was in awe too, perhaps even a little intimidated.

So, what if you took intimidation out of the equation?

It’s been said people meet you where you are. So, if you’re continually intimidated, it's likely that the people who will meet you there are those who use intimidation, by those who are fed by the power of intimidating others to get what they want. Those relationships will not grow you, your relationships or your business.

Those playing at the higher levels won’t put up with the out-of-balance energy between you. They may not be able to explain exactly why, but they won’t want to work with you.

However, if you meet them at awe, then that's a reciprocal relationship that flows in a positive direction. And, you’ll be met at a higher level, at the higher vibration of awe.

It levels the playing field. Intimidation does not. Awe and admiration do.

So, change the meaning of and reframe your meeting reference point.

Zig Ziglar said, "The playing field of life is not level, and to compete in the game of life, you need an equalizer." 

Here are some equalizers that level the intersection: 

  • Meet each other at Awe.
  • Meet each other at Admiration
  • Meet each other at Expertise
  • Meet each other at Respect
  • Meet each other at Talent

That’s powerful. A true intersection of equals. A meeting that magnetizes and grows and nourishes. And, keeps people coming back for more.

So, who intimidates you? Be honest with yourself. There’s no shame in it.

Recognize the positive qualities that you admire, that you’re in awe of. Turn the mirror on what you bring to the table. What you’re offering.

Meet them there.

If they don’t return to the level playing field, turn and walk the other way. As Empowerment Coach Andrea Quinn calls it when someone doesn't meet you at your standards and qualities: “Not your people.”

Removing intimidation from the equation was the game changer for moving my client’s creative business forward.

Sometimes it’s hard to figure what it is that’s stopping us, keeping us from starting something or from following through or taking it to the next level.

We can’t see the clear path through the fog, or more accurately through the forest of obstacles we’ve placed in front of us. Intimidation is one of those obstacles.

Getting clear on your own talent, expertise, awe, will provide the beacon to remove the obstacle and that will lead you to the right people. Your people.


How Meandering About Can Lead to Gold

 

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Photo by Emma Frances Logan on Unsplash

I took a Sunday drive this week.Through my mind.

I was bouncing around from thing to thing, flitting between writing and movies and articles and chapters and musings and organizing. It created a feeling of unsettle.

“I’m meandering,” I said to Gracie, who is ever present by my side. She looked at me mid-purr. "So what else is new," her look said. (at first I wrote 'what else is knew?" which made me laugh because there's true there too).

I do meander. Aimlessly at times, so that I can almost get dizzy from the spinning. Breathe.

Meander is fun to say, it's kind of a whimsical word. It basically means to “follow a winding course,” and is often used when referred to streams or bodies of water, “the stream meandered across the valley.”

People meander through a conversation, which can be interesting and deep and unexpected. That’s what makes for good conversation. Unless there’s a point to be made, and when everything is said except the point, you’d say, “he meandered around it but never said it.”

I’ve always loved bookstores and could wile away hours, meandering through the aisles of books and miles of stories contained therein. I miss that. It's just not the same to meander about through online bookstores.

You can meander through a day off, which is one of my favorite things to do, to give myself permission to just flow from one thing to the next. The truth is some of my best ideas present themselves on days like that, when I wander through, yes aimlessly.

It made me look at the word and it’s meaning more closely. I started playing with it. Me-ander. Or for fun, if I just plunk down an innocuous “w” in there, meander becomes me-wander.

Which then makes me wonder.

Is it really wandering aimlessly? Sure, sometimes. When there’s no specific intent or goal.

More often than not, for me, it’s wandering with too many aims at once.

But, meandering, to an artist, to a writer, to a creator? What about the freedom that comes from it? The wonder? The wonder of the wander.

There is wonder in the wander, when you remove the judgment and become more open. Give yourself permission. Permission is key.

“There’s gold in them thar hills.” – Mark Twain, in The American Claiment

There’s gold to discover in the meander; treasures in the sand on the long beach walk; vistas to relish on the Sunday drive, through the mind or otherwise.

There is so much value in just thinking. Many success leaders, such as Warren Buffet, Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson, carve out time in their day to do just that. Think.

How great would it be if an entire class in school was devoted to just thinking. An hour of time just to encourage kids to learn from their own minds. Where the only recommended materials were a journal and a sketchpad. 

"What's your favorite class?"

"Thinking 101. I'm learning so much from myself."

"Yeah, it's my favorite too."

Or if a time-out was instead a think-out. Hmm. I guess it is, really. "You sit here and think about what you said to your sister."

Aim-full Meandering?

What if you put a little purpose behind the meander? If you gave it some aim. Is there such a thing as aim-fully meandering instead of aimless?

It could be as simple as asking a question or stating a simple intent for the day or the time in front of you.

Deep questions can lead to deep thinking.

"What will inspire me today?" "Am I living fully?" "What does my heart want?"

Or pick a word.

I have a bag of word cards and often pick a word at the beginning of day, or before I go to sleep or upon journaling. I like to think that energetically there’s a reason I picked that particular word.

It could be "clarity" or "simplicity" or "trust" or "collaboration." 

So, then it becomes a backdrop, an intent. 

Then the meandering has aim. Try wandering around, examining, kicking the tires, massaging, splitting open and devouring it with a freedom from any expectation. There's gold thar.  

Purposefully wandering.

Wonder with purpose. And curiosity.

Or just enjoy the meander, the wonder of the wander, the blissfulness of the aimlessness.

Sure, focus and prioritizing and completion are important. But, that’s another post.

This one, happily, was the result of a shameless and aimless me, wandering.


I Had An Epiphany! Now What?

 

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

“I had an Epiphany!” 

We’ve all felt that inspiring moment of realization at one time or another, the powerful insight that was going to change everything.  It’s a great feeling, right?  

Today is the Day of Epiphany. I know that because as I glanced at the calendar to schedule my week of writing I saw “Epiphany” written on today, the day I was planning to publish a post. So, I had a little epiphany that I’d write about epiphany!

I didn’t wake up receiving 12 drummers drumming from my true love, but I woke up thinking about how much I love those sparks of inspiration, those rushes of insight that bring clarity.

The Day of Epiphany in Christian tradition signifies the 12th day of Christmas and ancient traditions culminated the season with a lavish Feast of Epiphany. It’s come to be known as “12th Night” in Great Britain. Shakespeare originally wrote his play, “Twelfth Night, or What You Will,” as part of the entertainment for Twelfth Night, Day of Epiphany celebration.

Epiphany is such a great word. In Greek the word means “manifestation.”

“I had an epiphany!” I’ve said. You’ve likely said it, or have heard it said, often.

An aha! Oprah says often, “I had an aha moment.” She’s even made it a thing, part of her brand. 

So, is an “aha” a small Epiphany? Does an Epiphany have to be huge? I feel like it should always be written with a capital E because to me Epiphanies are major, whether they’re large or small.

What to do with an Epiphany?

Epiphanies feed creativity, particularly when we follow them, court them, nurture them, build relationships with them, introduce them to others so they can flourish and become something beyond themselves.

It got me thinking about Epiphanies and how often they show up in our lives. A light turns on, we have that aha moment where a realization hits home in a way it hasn’t before. It’s enlightening and can be life changing.  

But, this is where the rubber meets the road. 

What we do with the Epiphany - the awakening - is what matters, right? The doing looks different for everyone. Sometimes the doing is not actually “doing” anything. It’s being the Epiphany. Living the realization, one day, one hour, one moment, one second at a time.   

It’s returning to the feeling evoked when the bells of Epiphany first started ringing. 

The first step is to recognize it’s a new thought, a new feeling. It might bring up some fears of the unknown and fears that we won’t be able to stay in the new thought. The first tendency might be to turn the other way, to go back into hiding behind the old frame of mind where it’s familiar and seemingly safe. That’s my habit sometimes. 

But, the second step is to stop. To breathe. To remember. To align our new feelings with the new thought. 

Ahhh. To relish in that space. 

The third step might be to share it with someone. As soon as you give voice to it, the resonance deepens and starts to become part of your physical, emotional and spiritual vernacular. 

A little bit today, more tomorrow and so it continues as you listen with a more familiar ear for those bells of Epiphany to toll until they become part of your life’s symphony. 

When was your last Epiphany? State it in the comments if you feel like sharing. Would love to hear from you.

 


How About Less of This and More of That in 2018

It Starts With the Word of the Year. And, the word is Perspective.

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Photo by Paul Skorupskas on Unsplash

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about Perspective.

This is one of my favorite times of year, when things start fresh, slates are clean, the canvas is fresh, new journals are cracked opened, solid lists of resolutions and goals are constructed and the reset buttons are pushed.

But, I don’t think it’s really possible to completely start with a completely clean slate or canvas because old stories and patterns are still there underneath the surface, ready to become visible. Often it's when we’re just ready to breakthrough or soar that they rear their little heads.

This is where the idea of Perspective comes in.

It’s such a great word and I think is vital to make the most out of the transition from year to year, from an end to a beginning.

Often when someone has a shift take place in his or her life or career, it’s because of change in perspective.

I watched a recent interview with James Franco, who is soaring right now with his already awards-darling film THE DISASTER ARTIST. Franco, as he says, “from the outside perspective it looked like I had this great career,” and he did. At one point he was in a play of Broadway, making a film during the day and flying to LA weekly to teach classes. He couldn’t get enough and thought, as an artist, the more he did the better. But, he “was depressed.”

That’s when he slowed down long enough to look at his life and shift his perspective. It took twenty years, but now he’s approaching his life and career, which shines brighter than ever, with this: “Hard work does pay off. But what I didn't realize is that you need balance, and you cannot make your happiness contingent on work, or on anything outside of you, for that matter, right? At the risk of sounding cheesy, it's gotta be a more spiritual thing. I didn't learn that until a year ago," he said.

Without this point of view it’s likely he wouldn’t have been able to present such a nuanced film because the truth is your current perspective permeates everything you do. And, THE DISASTER ARTIST is all about perspective.

Perspective can make you lighten up and not take things so seriously, while at the same time Perspective can help you get really serious about the most important things.

Perspective gives you a helicopter view. This bird’s eye view allows you to look through history, even beyond the last year, without attachment (or less attachment) to the circumstance so you can extract the jewel.

And, Perspective is what helps you hone in to reveal the truth underneath your old stories including whatever pattern or emotion you have attached to it.

It’s Perspective that starts the process of letting go.

It’s been interesting, as I’m writing my memoir; Perspective is my number one ally, shocking, as it has been at times. As I examine my old journals I've found that over the years I wrote about some of the same issues, fears and desires, over and over again. Like over and over again. At first I was like, ‘Damn Girl, you’re stuck in your story. When will you get it?’

Then, I decided to remove judgment from the question, and it changed my perspective. It became, ‘Wow isn’t it revealing how attached I was to parts of my story and the spiral of comfort and familiarity of discomfort that came from telling it to myself and others?”

Now, that I can work with. In truth, each time I asked those same questions or pondered similar issues I was moving through and past something, working through a relationship issue or breaking through a life or career barrier.

And, I realized that each round of questioning, or even angst, started from the previous ending point because I had some experience and Perspective to lay the groundwork.

It can take some time for Perspective to form. And, it can take an instant.

Perspective IS the Canvas

So, what if rather than starting the year with a clean slate or canvas or blank page, what if Perspective is the base coat, the backdrop, the color with which you paint your resolutions, write your story and pave your path. What if Perspective is the canvas?

Use your Perspective to lift out, carve out the pieces that are useful and will serve your now, your present and your future.

It starts with culling through the last year and using the perspective of being a year more experienced and wiser to cut out the prizes, the things that worked, to carry forward and then leave the rest behind.

Betsy mccallIt reminded me of when I was ten and eleven; I eagerly anticipated the mail at the beginning of every month, for that’s when McCall’s Magazine would arrive. I quickly flipped every page, slowing as I came toward the back until I found the Betsy McCall Paper Dolls. Every month it would be a surprise how Betsy would show up and her outfit, which was cutout alongside her, would be a sign of the season.

Sometimes I would cut them out straight from the magazine; other times I’d tear out the page and then when I was ready I used my round tipped scissors to carefully slice around each tab and edge. Then, I would dress my paper doll in her new garb and take her with me on whatever adventure I'd planned. 

It was the same thing while looking back at the achievements, events, situations and relationships over the last year. I flipped through the metaphorical history book to cut out the gems, the prizes, the lessons. I then sliced around what wasn’t needed anymore, breaking the pattern and leaving the remnants behind. 

Or, remember the carnival claw machine, where after you put your token in you took control of the giant claw in order to try and grab the toy of your desire. ClawMachine It was hard sometimes to get that thing to mind you and to weed through what you didn’t want so you could capture the prize, which was sometimes at the bottom of the heap.  

While pulling out what worked and what I’m carrying forward into 2018, I found it wasn’t the circumstances or specifics that bubbled to the surface, but rather the perspectives, the lessons learned, that were the prizes that are providing the starting points for what’s next. The new foundation and starting line.

It’s Perspective that keeps you from going backward.

For example, breaking my wrist taught me to get quiet, listen within and the power of single-tasking over multi-tasking.

And, speaking up and asking for closure at the end of a brief relationship taught me how much the relationships we choose (and we’re always choosing) provide a very truthful mirror.

It’s Perspective that allows us to do better, be better. Perspective is where wisdom, experience and courage not only get you started on the next thing, but Perspective is also what takes you across the finish line.

It’s seeing patterns through the lens of your now wisdom to change your inner dialogue which shifts mindset and ups your actions. It all starts with Perspective.

Which is why Perspective is my word for 2018

I’m rereading Michael Singer’s “Untethered Soul,” which is a great companion to Perspective. In it, he talks about the inner dialog, the incessant voice in our head that judges everything. You know the voice. Stop for a moment during the day and pay attention. It literally never stops. The voice is what drives us through the day, through life, good or bad. It drives us crazy!

Singer says you are not that voice, You are the one hearing the voice, you’re “the witness.” He says the “only real solution” to change and improving our way to enlightenment, “is to take the seat of Witness Consciousness and completely change your frame of reference. To attain true inner freedom, you must be able to objectively watch your problems instead of being lost in them. No solution can possibly exist while you’re lost in the energy of a problem.”

The same can be said for patterns in old stories or the emotions that keep you attached to them. Witness consciousness and Perspective are what lift and change things. As Singer says, the incessant voice will never stop, but you can change your relationship to it.

So, if you continually look at opportunities and self-growth through the lens of Perspective then it’s your own wisdom that leads the way. Combine that with asking what your heart wants, it’s a winning combo.

This year, with Perspective, I’m thinking in terms of more and less.

Perhaps some will resonate and you’ll come up with your own. What are you so over and done with, and what do you want to increase to elevate your life?

Some of mine have to do with my personal lesses and mores. And, some have to do what and who I want to surround myself with.

More and Less of This and That

  • Less input; More output. This is number one for me. Too much input clouds the output.
  • Less resistance; More surrender.
  • Less social media; More real life connections
  • Less fear; More faith
  • Less busyness; More focused action
  • Less going with the flow; More flow within structure
  • Less being an island and going it alone; More collaboration, partnering and asking for help
  • Less judgment; More curiosity and awareness
  • Less negative; More positive
  • Less talking; More listening
  • Less talking; More thinking
  • Less chaos; More moments of stillness
  • Less drama; More peaceful expression of truth
  • Less weight on other’s opinions; More self-trust, self-acceptance and self-reliance
  • Less hierarchy; More knowing importance of self value
  • Less perfection; More just doing it.
  • Less competition; More just doing it.
  • Less indecision; More just doing it.

So... Perspective in 2018 is part helicopter pilot, part conscious witness, part paper doll artiste and part bold creator.

It’s looking good so far! Happy New Year!

 


I Took a Leap of Faith: 3 Major Things I Learned

What Happened Afterward Was the Clincher

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"If you do not conquer self, you will be conquered by self." ~ Napoleon Hill

I pick my racehorses because of their names. I do the same thing when filling out my March Madness bracket, choosing the teams by the names that I like. Believe or not, I actually won the office pool one year by doing just that. I have an affinity for Jayhawks and Wildcats, so there you go! Names and titles inspire me.

So, when it came to choosing a challenge on the Ropes Course, I saw “Leap of Faith” on the list and jotted my name down without even thinking about it. Then, I asked which was the hardest one, and the woman said, “You just signed up for it.”

Now, if you know me, you know this is not like me. At all. I don’t normally do hard physical challenges that could put my life in danger, as a rule.

But, I was there, at the women’s weekend retreat Campowerment, to push past my own personal boundaries, to dig deep and move beyond where I’ve been, so I wrote my name on the line next to: “Leap of Faith.”

What exactly is a Leap of Faith?

Various definitions include, “an act of believing in or attempting something whose existence or outcome cannot be proved.”

Or “an act of believing something that is not easily believed,”

Or, “to do or believe in something or someone even when the circumstances are not visible or touchable.”

Or, “to jump from, to, over and/or on an object that's at certain distinctive distance and height.”

This particular leap of faith started simply as the last one. I was to climb to the top of a 30-foot pole and attempt to stand on top before jumping for a trapeze bar hanging a few feet away.

But, it quickly became a stunning breakthrough that shone a light in all areas of my life.

WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF?

 

The leap started when I made the decision. I had no idea what I was getting into. I just decided to trust and go for it. So, I showed up at the Ropes Course at the allotted time.

As soon as I saw other women scaling the pole and struggling to stand up, I mean really struggle, I began looking for excuses not to do it. “I broke my wrist a few months ago,” “I get vertigo,” “I don’t like heights.” Suddenly, I was so sick of those voices in my head that are so bloody brilliant at coming up with excuses. So, I escorted them off the premises and joined the support team on the ground, cheering on the women and prepping my psyche for what was to come.

There was really was no way to prep. The coach, whose name was Zen, was on the ground with words of encouragement all through the process. He asked me, “What are you afraid of?” I told him I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to balance. I’m out of balance. Whoa.

He said, “Trust your balance.” Okay.

After a relatively easy climb, until I reached the top and realized, without anything to grab onto, I had only my own lower body strength to rely on to hoist myself up.

And, I thought, there is absolutely 100% no way I can do this. I was completely stuck, hunched over the top of a telephone pole in the middle of a field tucked in the mountains of Malibu, California. But, the thought of the pretty picture I struck was the furthest thing from my mind.

Zen asked, “What are you afraid of? Say it out loud.”

I said, “I don’t think I have the strength in my legs to lift me up to the top.” He repeated it and acknowledged it and said, “Okay let’s think about something else. What do you want to do next?”

After a moment I said, “Put my right foot on top of the pole.”

“What’s there now?” he asked.

“My thumb,” I said.

“Okay, just look at your thumb and only your thumb. Don’t think about anything but your thumb.”

I have to say I don’t think I’ve ever focused so fully on one single thing, my thumb, and only my right thumb, which was pressed so flat and hard I thought I might leave a dent.

And, then as if it had a will of it’s own, my right foot stepped up and replaced my thumb. It felt like a huge victory. It was a solid footing.

So, I’ve got one foot on top and the other is glued to the rung on the side of the pole. At that point I thought; I’m good. I hit a wall and thought; I’m kind of done. I can’t go any further but I’m okay with that because I’ve gone further than I thought I would. If I just let go now, I’m okay with that.

That’s when something happened. The wall that I hit became transparent. The wall melted away and I could see the other side.

Just a glimpse of what it would feel and look like to stand on that doggone pole. So, I refocused.

It took everything in me, literally everything between mind and body, to lift and place the other foot on the 9-inch surface.

I stood up, albeit rather wobbly, but finally balanced and sturdy. I yelled, “I’m balanced.” Actually, I said, "I'm f*^king balanced," because I was blown away by how much I'd gotten caught up in the story of being out of balance, of not trusting my balance. Thank you, Zen! 

I spread my arms and look out at the horizon over the Pacific Ocean.

JUST REACH FOR IT

Coach Zen said, “Don’t look at the horizon. Keep focused on what’s next.”

And, “next” was to jump off the top of my pole, where I’d become quite comfortable, leaping to catch the  hanging trapeze bar. And, it looked far.

I felt a little dizzy at the prospects. Leap 2

‘What are you going to do?” Zen asked. 

“I’m going to reach for it.”

The awesome women on the ground gave me a countdown. And I leapt.

And, I caught it. Whoop. A sure hard grip. No residuals of the former broken wrist.

JUST THE NEXT STEP

When I was back on the ground, Zen asked me, “How’d you do it?”

“Just the next step,” I said, no hesitation. It was so simple, even when it was hard. I was elated; in a pure joy of knowing I could do something I seriously didn’t think was possible in the moment.

Just the next step meant pushing past the best of my last best.

My dad just to tell my sister and I, when we were up against something we were afraid of, or were challenged by, he said, “Mind over matter.”

Mind over matter. I finally got it. Just the next step was mind over matter. Will over substance. Not letting anything cloud or hinder what was next. Just the next step, and then just the next step. 

It felt huge and expansive.

WITH EXPANSION COMES CONTRACTION, THEN INTEGRATION

The major high lasted for a few days. Entering back into pedestrian life after a breakthrough can be tricky. You want the expansion to last and it can be hard to understand why it doesn’t, why you might feel a little sad, or all you want to do is take a nap.

I kind of crashed. And, I listened to others who were having a similar experience after their breakthroughs from the weekend, and there were a lot of breakthroughs. Some called it backlash.

Then, I remembered.

It’s completely natural to contract after a major expansion. In fact, it’s necessary during the integration process.

That’s when it hit me. The integration that takes place afterward, after the leap, after the breakthrough, is the most important part. And, contraction is a vital to integration. The backlash is the contraction.

Developing strong integration skills means understanding the contraction is part of the process. It’s important to embrace the contraction as a key phase in moving forward at the higher level you found when you took the leap.

The contraction is there to allow yourself to catch up, to take a breath, a pause, to fully incorporate the new mindset, the new feelings in your body, the new energy that wants to course through you. It gives the whole of you a chance to say, “Hold on, I want this and I need a moment – or a few – to sit in all of this bigness, this knowing that I’ve got this.”

A healthy reframe of contraction is to think of it as a pause. It may feel kind of icky and stuck, but it’s a pause so you can fully step in and inhabit the expansion.

In the past, I’ve been undone and done-in by the contraction phase, to the point where it’s stopped me, where it felt like stumbling backwards. But, this time, it didn’t last very long. I’ve done a ton of integrating the last several years, and have made it an integral part of my own evolution as a human being.

It was the leap, the leap of faith that was a culmination in which everything led up to that moment, that self-trust to move beyond what was before. It felt like the graduation to the next grade, to the PhD level of life mastery.

I thought the leap would be the victory, but it was just the beginning.

The full experience is to push through your limit and then to fully integrate the lessons learned from the expansions and contractions. Those lead to the next step up or leap where the process starts all over again.

Since Camp and the leap, I’ve noticed that I’ve moved forward. I’ve completed more things. I’ve put down over 50,000 words on my book. I’ve launched a new program. I’m written a lot more articles, and published them. I’ve made new connections and I feel my current relationships becoming more honest, deeper.

I feel different but the same. I feel the same but different.

I’m bolder while at the same time becoming gentler, more real.

It came at the right time in my growth, education, evolution. Unpeeling, unfolding to what's coming next.

THE THREE THINGS AGAIN

This breaks the leap or breakthrough down into three steps or phases.

  1. A leap starts to happen by taking Just the Next Step. Laser focus on just the next move, eye of the target, not the horizon. Nothing else matters in that moment. Nothing.
  2. To leap – Just Reach For It. Push past the best of your last best.
  3. Integrate – that’s the most important part of a breakthrough experience. It’s alchemical to integrate. Allow yourself to catch up. The actual change happens during integration, not during the leap itself.

A leap is a breakthrough. It ups your ante. Embrace it. Every time.

“There are many talented people who haven't fulfilled their dreams because they over thought it, or they were too cautious, and were unwilling to make the leap of faith.” James Cameron


Gratitude is the Highest Attitude

 Here's Why & How It Works 

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Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash

It’s very in vogue to talk about gratitude. Have you noticed? It’s kind of everywhere. People writing about it, talking about it, recording it in gratitude journals, texting in gratitude chains, creating memes about it and gathering around dinner tables to honor it.

The truth is, being grateful has never been out of vogue. And, there’s a simple explanation for that.

Because Gratitude Works

The law of attraction is grounded in gratitude. When you express what you’re grateful for, in a powerfully energetic way, the universe conspires and moves to give you more of what you’re grateful for. It's the simplest form of 'what you focus on expands.'  

Lack and Gratitude are Polar Opposite Energies 

When you feel you’re lacking something, the moment you shift to a place of gratitude you’re no longer in lack. Even if it’s just for a moment. So, when you think about, if you spend more time in an attitude of gratitude there’s more room for abundance and less and less space for lack.

It’s a pretty simple concept actually.

I interviewed a West African shaman a couple of years ago for a book project. His tribe, members of the Bwiti tradition, subscribe to one, and only one, simple prayer:

“Thank you for this new day.”

They begin each morning with the same declaration: “Thank you for this new day.” Each day is a fresh, clean slate, a new journey. With this simple prayer of gratitude, their minds are clear for what blessings are to come. He said “Every day we come with new thoughts, clear from yesterday’s thoughts."

It's such simple clarity. They live in the present moment in an attitude grounded in gratitude. They are happy people with a deep loving tradition of family and community. 

"Gratitude is heaven itself." William Blake

Living in The High Attitudes

An attitude is defined loosely as a feeling or way of thinking that affect’s a person’s mood or behavior. It's a manner or disposition.

To my way of thinking, you could also think of an attitude as a spiritual level of consciousness. Sometimes it’s easier to wrap your brain around the idea of shifting or adjusting your attitude rather than the notion of lifting your consciousness, which can sometimes feel a bit esoteric. 

The highest attitudes are those that resonate and vibrate at the highest levels of energy, leaving you with a fuller feeling of vitality, contentment and joie de vivre.

The high attitudes:

An attitude of love.
An attitude of understanding.
An attitude of grace.
An attitude of compassion.
An attitude of gratitude.

Gratitude is the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega of pinnacle attitudes. 

"I made up my mind to never have another bad day in my life. I dove into an endless sea of gratitude from which I've never emerged." Patch Adams

You know when you, or someone else, is having a “bad attitude.” You’re unhappy, angry, finding flaw with everything around you, often having a hard time shaking the milieu of discontent. And, you may have heard the words (or said them to that someone else), “You seriously need an attitude adjustment.”

Here's where gratitude comes in. What you start with just voicing or internalizing a feeling of gratitude, in whatever moment or situation you’re in, being grateful leads to understanding and compassion and grace and love. Find just one thing in that bad-attitude moment to be grateful for. It starts the shift, the adjustment to a higher attitude.

The Bookend Effect 

And, here's the beauty about the bookend effect of gratitude.

Each of the high attitudes mentioned above, rises again to a place of gratitude.
You can't not be grateful, when you're in a state of love, understanding or compassion.

It’s a powerful cycle. It creates a continual cause and effect, a mobius, an infinity of wellbeing and enlightened living. Gratitude begets love, which begets gratitude. 

That’s why gratitude is the highest attitude.

"Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others." Cicero

According to science, gratitude has some added benefits:

  • Gratitude boosts your health.
  • Gratitude makes your happier. 25% happier science says.
  • Gratitude fosters compassion and surging feelings of love.
  • Gratitude gives you more energy, higher emotional intelligence, feelings of being connected to something greater than yourself.
  • Gratitude makes you less anxious and makes you sleep better.
  • Gratitude creates a stronger desire for being charitable & generous.

Start and end with an attitude of gratitude. You’ll get used to air up there.


Resistance as an Ally Rather Than a Foe

Here's a fresh take on what can be a debilitating force.

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Photo by Becca Matimba on Unsplash

 By Cindy Yantis

"Focused attention yields the best results." - Melinda Hughes

Melinda is my personal trainer and the owner of The Strength Shoppe, a high-intensity training (HIT) facility in Pasadena, California. And, this quote, from their website, exemplifies what most I've learned from training with her.

HIT is a slow burn, really intense, focused workout where with each weightlifting exercise you exhaust an isolated muscle or group of muscles to a slow count of ten. It's also called Super Slow, Slow Cadence, Power of 10, or Resistance Training.

It takes such focused concentration to get through a set of the slow ten. The tendency is to put all of your body behind trying to lift the weight. That's when Melinda says to direct your brain to focus on the specific body part so that the target muscles are worked to their max. That wasn't something I'd done before.

I was amazed at how when you place your undivided attention, singly, on one body part, you can actually feel the isolated muscle doing its thing. The brain is so powerful. Then, the rest of the body is just there to support.

Toward the end of the set, the weight is so heavy that it barely moves, if at all. This is when the body's flight or fight response starts to kick in, wanting to give up or drop the weight. And, that's when Melinda says to "lean into the fire instead of pushing past it." It is, in fact, what provides the most benefit, leaning into the resistance.

In a recent yoga class, we were holding a lower body twist, for several moments. My hip flexors were screaming at me. That's when the instructor said in her soft zen voice, "Allow your awareness to go to the place of resistance. Focus on softening the edges, the tissues around the resistance. Now, find the place in yourself where you can settle deeper into it."

This all got me thinking about the broader force of Resistance and how it shows up in other ways. Everywhere, to be more exact.

In truth, I've been thinking about resistance a lot lately. What I’m noticing is that as I’m moving up and forward with projects in some new ways and at higher levels that I haven’t tried before, I’m meeting an internal resistance that feels like a gust of wind connected to an electric fence. It can be a really powerful force that pushes and pulls at the same time.

“Where there is power, there is resistance.” - Michel Foucault

THE LAW OF RESISTANCE

There are schools of thought that put Resistance right up there with the other powerful laws of the universe including the laws of Attraction, of Polarity, of Vibration, and of Compensation to name a few.

Jasmine Contor Dawson in "Aliens to Zebras: Dictionary for a New World" defines the Law of Resistance is: "That which an individual pursues in anguish or anxiety, will inevitably remain elusive."

In thinking about this, I was drawn to read again from Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art.” He’s my go-to expert about resistance, which he calls “most toxic force on the planet.” In fact, he devotes an entire chapter to this beautiful, terrible monster.

He says: “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance.” He talks about how it's the root of so much unhappiness and “to yield to resistance deforms the spirit.” Pressfield considers resistance as strong a force field as gravity or electromagnetic, in that it can’t be “seen, touched, heard or smelled. But it can be felt.”

It’s an internal force, is always there and its aim is to repel.

He also says this. “The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”

So, when you're at the threshold, or the crossroads, feeling the pull to where your soul wants to go, succumbing to resistance can keep you at the crossroads. Forever.

LIVING IN THE CROSSROADS

Resistance can also show up as doubt that results in inaction.

According to Stephen Cope in "The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling" - one of the most life-changing books I've ever read - in yoga tradition they term doubt as "a thought that touches both sides of a dilemma at the same time " or "the invisible affliction" that is very powerful.

People have gotten stuck in doubt, and at some point, they came to a crossroads and found "themselves rooted there, with one foot firmly planted on each side of the intersection. Alas, they never moved off the dime. They procrastinated. Dithered. Finally, they put a folding chair smack in the center of that crossroads and lived there for the rest of their lives. After a while, they forgot entirely that there even was a crossroads-forgot that there was a choice."

Ugh! When I first read that a few years ago I felt the floor fall out from under me. It was a huge wakeup call. I realized how I'd allowed resistance to stop me enough, over and over, so much so that I'd set up camp at the crossroads! I became Mayor of Crossroads, USA!

HERE'S THE GOOD NEWS

However, as Stephen Pressfield also says, “Resistance has no strength of its own. Every ounce of juice it possesses comes from us. We feed it with power by our fear of it. Master that fear and we conquer resistance.”

In addressing how to get out of the crossroads, Stephen Cope quotes the teaching in the "Bhagavad Gita: the Path of Inaction-in-Action," where Krishna says, "There is a certain kind of action that leads to freedom and fulfillment… an action that is always aligned with our true nature." Cope says this "is the action motivated by dharma. This is the action taken in the service of our sacred calling, our vocation."

So, then it's possible to embrace resistance, as an ally rather a foe.

"In dharma, it is possible to take passionate action without creating suffering." - Stephen Cope

To my way of thinking there’s something kind of comforting about that. When you think about it, if you welcome the resistance and recognize it as a threshold or crossroads through which you must pass to accomplish the next step toward your dream, purpose, and destiny, then when you make it your ally, it becomes part of your journey rather than a hindrance keeping you from moving forward.

"Hey, Luke. May the Force be with you." Hans Solo

When you fight resistance or procrastinate because of it, you're not present. Get present by talking about and releasing the fear that's underneath and fueling the resistance.

LEANING INTO THE FIRE

I know for me, I know when I'm in resistance about something, nine-times-out-of-ten it's something I need to do - for my body, for my work, for my life, for my soul. So leaning into it feels easier, and not only doable but necessary, and powerful. 

“If you try to force the soul, you never succeed.” John O’Donohue, "Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom"

SO...

  • Focus on it. As in my yoga and HIT experience, focusing on the resistance softens its edges because your awareness and attention are pointed towards it.
  • Be with it. Get present. Being in the now with the force restores inner strength and balance.
  • Get vulnerable. Brene Brown says, "Vulnerability is not about fear and grief and disappointment. It's the birthplace of everything we're hungry for…Most people believe vulnerability is weakness. But really, vulnerability is courage. So -
  • Be courageous. Lean into the resistance and go forward.
  • Get creative. Creativity and spontaneity are energizing positive forces that help counterbalance the negative force of resistance.

And, Trust. Trust in all of these - focus, presence, vulnerability, courage, creativity and spontaneity.

They carry you through the threshold of resistance and across the crossroads of to your soul life, your purposeful life.

Interestingly, Pressfield also says that the resistance is only there when you’re faced with an up level. There’s no resistance going down, only up. Think about that for a moment. So, when resistance comes, welcome it because it only means you're on your way up.

“To fly we have to have resistance.” Maya Lin

So, I’ve decided to lean in, to be with resistance. I know it’s always going to be there. So instead of fighting it, I’m going to walk through it. Take one more step. Stretch beyond what I did yesterday. And, tomorrow will stretch beyond what I did today.

Who's with me?


Are You Living In Your Divinity?

Here are a few ways to find out...

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By Cindy Yantis

I was marveling during a recent email exchange with some girlfriends at how things are really cooking for them, whether it's dream-coming-true career opportunities, new potential love interests, new connections with conscious people and a general feeling of high-vibration purposeful wellbeing. I asked them what's changed in their daily lives, what have they been doing differently for all of this good stuff to be happening. They both talked, separately, about how a deeper surrendering to their connection to spirit, to God, to the divine has been the game-changer. And, a result more and more they are tapping into their own divinities.

I recalled an interview awhile back with Sheryl Crow. "He was in his divinity."  That's what she had to say about watching Michael Jackson in action. She toured with him early in her career and remarked about standing in the wings off stage, witnessing his genius at work, how he seemed to go to a different place. "He was in his divinity."

You may know, or have seen, people who seem to be doing exactly what they were put on this earth to do.  You know it when you see it. There's nothing sexier or more attractive than a man or woman in his or her element. Sometimes they even appear to glow. They are grounded, confident and things drift easily to them, whether it's opportunity, money or circumstance.  

It got me thinking again about purpose and mission and why-are-we-here. We are here to evolve into our higher selves and to continually seek our own divinity or genius element. When you're there, you're connected to the cellular you, your divine purpose.

"Trust and value your own divinity" Wayne Dyer

Have you had a glimpse of your own divinity?

Slow down for a moment and think of a time when it felt like all cylinders were clicking at once; when time and space became inconsequential (because in the place of divinity, time and space don't exist); when you felt closest to, or one with, God; or when you felt a sense of ease like never before. Everything flowed from one moment to the next to the next.

Sometimes the divinity lasts for only a moment. But, when you're doing what you were meant to do it can stay with you. Your consciousness raises to a place where you're most connected, tapped in and turned on to the divine. When it happens over and over again it becomes your own vortex of divinity, generating a force of energy that brings more of the same to you, so that eventually it's where you live.

That's your genius at play. Your genius thrives on a higher plane, where all of our higher selves live. 

How to get there? 

It's an everyday study where you continue to ask yourself the deep questions. Deepak Chopra says if you truly live the questions, the answers will present themselves. 
It's slowing down and recognizing the divine moments when they happen. Where are you? What are you doing? How do you feel? Track it backward to remember how you got there. 

It's getting off the grid. Turn off technology for a while. It's noise that interrupts the flow in the divine place.
It's releasing all judgment, of self and others. 
It's focusing on nothingness. Slow down the brain and meditate into nothingness, as in practicing yoga or prayer. Out of the nothingness comes centered focus that leads to higher thought.
Pray. It's worth saying again.
It's striving for excellence in everything you do. Excellence in one thing leads to excellence in all things.
It's being in, living in a state of love. Divinity can't exist where love does not abide.

“From a mind filled with infinite love comes the power to create infinite possibilities. We have the power to think in ways that reflect and attract all the love in the world. Such thinking is called enlightenment. Enlightenment is not a process we work toward, but a choice available to us in any instant.” Marianne Williamson

In moments of doubt, go back to that place; remember your personal divinity, your glorious purpose.

Can you imagine a place where we all are living in our divinity? Where a sense of genius is commonplace and expected? Where expectations and judgment don't exist? Where we are free to be? Where love rules the day.

Oooh, I'll meet you there. We'll have a playdate.


How Do You Manage Your Life’s Bandwidth?

A Life Lesson I Learned From My Smartphone

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Photo by Alejandro Garrido Navarro on Unsplash

I was on the phone with my sister discussing an upcoming call about cryptocurrencies. She asked if I was going to tune in. I felt my breath quicken and my stomach churn, and it hit me. “I don’t have the personal bandwidth to take anything else into my brain right now,” I said.

My next call was to make a doctor’s appointment when up popped a message on my phone: “You’re almost out of storage.” 

Twenty minutes later Outlook sent me an email: “Your mailbox is nearly full.” And, I had to laugh out loud. No kidding!

Seriously, all three things happened within 45 minutes. Okay, okay I get it! I have no more bandwidth and am almost out of storage. The truth is I have a lot going on and that morning I realized just how overloaded I’ve been. I know I’m not alone on that score.

How has it affected me? Full disclosure, it was my cardiologist I was calling to make an appointment. My heart’s been racing enough to keep me up at night, I’ve been sighing heavily, often, and I’ve been forgetting things, like where I am and where I’m going. Pretty scary at times, actually. Fortunately, it looks like everything is fine physically and we’re altering medications which can also affect the ticker. All good. AND, he told me to slow down.

My Smartphone told me to “manage my settings” in order to deal with the dwindling amount of storage space, giving the choice to either buy more space or clean out existing apps/files to make room for what I want to keep and for when I want to add anything new. It’s pretty simple on a phone as you just go through your existing apps, examine how much storage they require and then decide if it’s worth keeping.

It got me thinking about the same rules could apply to my overloaded and overstimulated life. Time to make some room on my life bandwidth. I took a lesson from my Smartphone as I also pulled out my Marie Kondō's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Here’s a helpful 6-step process.

Place Everything in Front of You –

This is literal and metaphorical. First of all, think of your life as a big file cabinet, or dresser or basket or closet. Everything you’re working on, classes you’re taking, jobs you’re performing, all commitments, everything in your life is in that space. I’m calling mine a closet: my life closet. All lined up -- or actually kind of piled haphazardly -- are the four classes I’m taking, including all of the projects and homework involved, my work assignments, relationships, book clubs, writers groups and all other time commitments.

My life in a metaphorical closet.

Now, now take everything out of your life closet. Everything. Empty out your “space” by mentally removing them from your mental bandwidth.

One way is to list them out, don’t worry about the order yet, just get them all down. Or what I did, give every item an index card. Lay them out on the floor. Get them out of your head and onto the physical plane.

Sit in the Emptiness –

Interestingly, while I was going through this process I pulled a healing card for inspiration. The word on the card was Emptiness. I know, you just can’t make this stuff up. That inspired this next step.

Once you empty your life space and clear off your mental bandwidth, spend some quality time in the emptiness. Breathe into it for several moments. Take a look around at all of that room, the vastness of it, free from mental clutter. Feel the time open up as well, no deadlines, no ticking clock.

Just space.

There will be plenty of time to get back to all of those index cards on your floor. But, now is the time to honor your life space. What I discovered was how powerful my life energy is and how sacred my attention is in utilizing my life energy for my highest good.

Truly, take as much time as is necessary to truly honor how special and powerful your life energy is. Appreciate the sacredness of your attention because when it comes time to put things back in your life space, this will be vitally important.

Rank Them –

So, look at your list or your index cards. As on your Smartphone, give each item a value based on how much storage they require, how important they are to you in your life, timeliness, and joy.

This is where you spend time with each thing. As Marie Kondō espouses, pick up each item and hold it, only keeping what brings you joy.

“The act of discarding things on its own will never bring joy to your life. Discarding is not the point; what matters is keeping those things that bring you joy." Marie Kondō

Conduct a Yes Survey

As you ponder each item in front of you, ask yourself these questions, or a version of these questions:

  • Does this bring me joy? If it’s not a hell yes, it’s probably a no.
  • Does this feel in alignment with my heart’s desire?

"Why go knocking at every other door? Go knock at the door of your own heart." Rumi 

  • Does this serve my highest good and/or the highest good of others?
  • Will this connect the dots between other items on my list?
  • Does it feel good in my body?

If you answer yes to these questions, then it’s worth your sacred attention and is deserving of valuable space in your life. If the answer is No to any of these, release them.

  • Is this a time and energy suck?
  • Do I keep losing interest or find myself not thinking about this?

The decision is obvious if you get a yes to either of these.

Give Yourself Permission

Once you’ve gone through this process with each life item in front of you, give yourself permission to delete, cancel, remove or quit the things that aren’t a 'hell yes' in the joy, alignment and soul’s calling departments.

This is where a lot of us stop ourselves. We’ve spent good money on classes or products or partnerships so there’s a part of us that can feel like a failure or a quitter if we don't complete them or hang onto them for good measure. But, the only person you’re failing or quitting is you, if you don’t end what isn’t doing you any good anyway.

So give yourself permission. Quit! Cancel! Delete!

Marie Kondō says to honor each thing before you release it, thanking it for it's contribution to your life. It helps. 

It really opens so much more time and space for all of the high vibrational in-alignment things in your life that you love. Keep doing more of those!

Mindfully Fill Your Closet

Now that you’ve carefully and thoughtfully selected those, and only those, things in your life that answer all of those yes questions, it’s time to place them back in your life space.

Slot them in mindfully, allowing the room, time and care they deserve.

Now, take a step back and give it a good look. How does it make you feel? What a joyful and purposeful life you’ll have redesigned for yourself.

Now, when something new comes along, you’ll take much greater care in what you place in your life space. It’s very special in there; you’re creating with purpose and intention.

I know for me, my intuition now has a clear guide. If I don’t get a hell yes, it’s not getting in!

 

Here’s Another Clear Guide

If you want to further expand your thinking while elevating and operating your life at a higher level, please check out my simple 8-step checklist that will help you get there.

Click here to get the CHECKLIST right now. 


How Not Having Kids Shaped My Legacy

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Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

 

We all want to matter. It’s innate for us to want to leave a mark on this world that will have meant something when we’re long gone. For loving parents, having children is often a principal and driving force of their purpose and legacy. I’ve asked so many friends who are parents this question, and many have said their children are their legacy, which always makes total sense to me.

My grandmother would have been 114 this past week. I thought about how proud she would be if she could see all that her family is doing, her son and daughter, six granddaughters and seven great grandkids. I can just feel her joy as she watches the active and meaningful lives they’re all living. Her legacy is alive and well, and growing.

It got me thinking about the existentialism of legacy, if you don’t have children, which I’ve thought a lot about as a childless woman. Is your legacy only partially fulfilled, without offspring? It took a bit of a journey to arrive at how I feel about this now. So, this is my story.


EPIPHANIES WHILE GETTING PEDICURES
“Wow, look who’s a Grandpa,” I said. I was looking at Facebook on my phone while getting a Mani Pedi with my girlfriend. We were sitting in very high-backed white leather chairs, feet soaking in bowls of aqua glass about three-inches thick. They weren’t motorized tubs, which I kind of missed because I liked to hold my toes against the jets. But, the smooth glass felt good against the bottom of my feet. My manicure was already done and my nails were still tacky so I’d been careful when I’d clicked open Facebook so I didn’t dent my polish. My manicurist had taken such great care with every stroke of her tiny paintbrush that I didn’t have the heart to be the one to destroy one of her masterpieces.

The look on my friend’s china doll face was one of understanding because I had no doubt she knew where I was heading with my thoughts. The Facebook post made a happy announcement of grandfather-dom. And, the grandpa was my college sweetheart, my first fiancé, the owner of my cherry.

And, now here, all of these years later, like three decades later, he has three children and a grandson that bears his middle name as his first. Henry. That’s the name we always talked about naming our little boy, when we had one, of many, we said. Henry, and we’d call him Hank. I still think it’s a great name.

Now, when I looked at the sweet, squished red face of this baby whom I don’t know and never will meet, I felt a pit in my gut. Not because I felt I missed anything with the old boyfriend. But, because that’s something I’ll never know. I’ll never know the pull of a grandmother’s love, of that special feeling that only grandmothers know when their child has a child. Because here I was all these years later, looking at this flat photo on Facebook, and I’m childless. I can’t have children of my own, and will never experience that scene in that way.

There was a numbness that took over when I thought about it. A numbness that I’ve taken to mean acceptance, because really what else could I do? I refused to have a pity party so the numbness had become the norm. A small cotton ball near my elbow probably had more feeling right then than I did.

But, the truth was I think I was afraid to go beneath the numbness. Because staying numb kept me safe from feeling. I was numb so I didn’t feel. I always described myself as an emotional person, a woman in touch with her emotions. But, not about this. This. I’d grown to like my numb. Love it, even. My numb was loyal and steadfast, providing me a calming hum when she knows I need it. I know what to expect from numb. When the numb is removed what is there?

And, there it was. What I felt was a one-ness; what I felt was a projected alone-ness. Not lonely, but a sense of, it’s me and me alone. I see big family photos on social media of grandparents in their 80’s, with a huge brood of kids and grandkids and great grandkids, all wearing red t-shirts because they’re at some annual family reunion in Wisconsin, and I project ahead three decades me, myself and, and I think; I’m alone. A woman, a would-be matriarch without a family legacy.

And, even deeper than that was a longing to make a generational and meaningful contribution to humankind, and the question of what that is supposed to be.

There was a little girl next to me with bright green and blue nail polish. She was with her mother. It was sweet. But, I also realized that I don’t want that anymore. My friend — who also doesn’t have children — and I have often talked about how it’s interesting how many of our friends don’t have kids of their own. And, I think, you fill your village with some others who are on similar paths.

“Do you wish it was with you?” she asked, referring to the Facebook photo.

I shook my head. Nope. The pedicurist reached for my right foot. And, I was back in the world. And, that’s the moment when my shift in mindset started to settle into place as the question of legacy dug deeper into my consciousness. As a woman unable to have kids, does that lessen my purpose or make my existence as a woman less-than because I’m not fulfilling the natural legacy of my biology, of co-creating the next generation of life?

It caused me to examine deeply my path, the mark I will leave on this world and my relationship with being childfree.

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE IS 20/20
When I was a little girl, like nine or ten, when other little girls were playing with dolls and pretending to clean house and get ready for their husbands to come home for dinner, I was playing office. I have a specific memory of being at my grandparent’s house where I’d created a small office. I’d received a toy phone for Christmas and I was giving it a run. I sat with authority at my tiny desk, answering my toy phone with confidence.

As I glanced around my make-believe office from my helicopter and historical perspective, I saw that my dolls and stuffed animals were my co-workers and subordinates, all lined up behind me, in various shapes and sizes, as I bossed them around, telling them what to do. The seeds were being planted in my young mind of wanting to be a leader and reach for the corner office, which eventually I did do. And, what I loved most about that job was the nurturing, the mothering, working with and guiding those in my stead. Legacy?

When I dressed my Barbie, she was a seriously cool single chick, with a kick-ass job and social life with numerous Kens. Yes, she was looking for her truelove Ken (still is), but that didn’t stop her from having a full life.

In my 20’s, while friends were starting to grow their broods, I was growing my career, watering the seed that had been planted early on. I enjoyed watching them, but from afar in the sense that I didn’t feel connected to wanting that for myself, although I figured I probably would at some point, after all that’s what I was supposed to do. In fact, when I met my ex husband, we agreed that we both wanted kids, but even that felt a bit like fantasy, out of my reality.

I watched my sister struggle through numerous miscarriages and I felt deeply her pain and longing for children. Then, my niece was born and I fell madly in love with her, followed by her brother whom I was crazy in love with too. That feeling of overwhelming, protective, I’d-do-anything-for-this-kid love was the closest I’ve come to wanting some kids of my own. 

After I found out I was pregnant, my husband-at-the-time and I entered the fantasy phase of what to expect while we were expecting. I surrendered to the innate part of my womanhood that wanted to birth a human, to take part in the natural course of things, by the standards and traditions of those before me as well as the possibility of fulfilling the dreams of parents/soon-to-be grandparents. I became excited about it and was enthralled with the changes in my body. And, as I’d hoped, it brought my husband and I closer in what was a bit of a bumpy marriage at the time.

For the next several weeks we drifted into that zone where expectant couples live: eager announcements, morning sickness at the smell of paint and toast, books on the stages of pregnancy and baby names, nursery furniture, shower dates, endless chatty discussions about bodily functions with anyone who would listen. Cramping. Spotting. Sleepless nights. Ultrasounds. Ovarian tumor. Emergency surgery. No more baby.

What I gave birth to, rather than a bouncing baby boy/girl, was the numb. A numb that softened the mourning over how my womanhood had failed: failed my body the chance to fulfill it’s expected destiny, failed my husband, failed my parents/soon-to-be grandparents, failed my sister by not gifting her with the same kind of love I feel for her kids, and failed a family history that would not continue with me. Failed my legacy?

But, here’s what’s interesting. I think deep down after that happened, I knew I most likely would not have a child of my own. My husband and I never seriously talked about trying to have another child. And, the loss of this pregnancy is what signified the beginning of the end of the marriage. It opened a chasm in which to see the framework and scaffolding of it all and there were too many broken pieces to fix.

So, I was on my own again, alone. I was still buying into the ingrained pressure to have a child and that I would not be complete until that happened. So, I made a promise to myself, and declared it out loud to my close circle, that if I was still single and without the prospect of a mate when I was 42, I would look into having a child on my own.

Then, I filed that away and got on with my life, a life I relished in so many ways. A big move across the country, new jobs (including the one with the corner office), a deepening love and commitment to writing, new ways to expand spiritual growth that have taken me far outside of my comfort zone, traveling alone and with others, dating, not dating, big crying, big laughing and bouts of loneliness which provided the contrast necessary to be able to embrace the non-loneliness of being alone. Learning is revealed through contrast.

CHILDLESS MOTHER
As 42 approached, I kept to my own word. I wasn’t in a serious relationship that might lead to long term so I started digging and researching what it would take to have a child on my own. I read books, attended seminars on how to adopt children from Guatemala, Russia and China. I interviewed adoption attorneys on the adoption process in the United States as well as spoke with some of their clients about their personal experiences. I checked out the reputable sperm donation clinics in Southern California, going as far as filling out a profile as to what kind of “father” I would want for my sperm baby. I bought a two-bedroom home with a nice big yard.

Then, I woke up one day and realized I didn’t want it badly enough to do it alone. I’d done my due diligence and there was a true sense of freedom in that.

A few years later I had to have a hysterectomy, which closed the chapter on any lingering inkling that I might be missing out on something. My friend, the same pedicure friend, did a painting for me that showed the figure of a woman taking flight. On the back on the painting was a picture of Saint Majella, the Patron of Childless Mothers. Ah, this was truly a new chapter.

Childless Mother. This is something I could embrace. I loved nurturing people, and even though I didn’t have children of my own, I love kids and knew then and there that I would always have them in my life, somehow. Did this have something to do with my legacy?

It was another redefining moment as I looked at both motherhood and legacy through a fresh lens.

THERE’S MORE TO A FAMILY TREE THAN MEETS THE EYE
Not too long ago, my parents, sister and I did the Ancestry DNA test, sharing the interesting results with each other about our origins. My mom took the opportunity to fill in the family tree on the Ancestry.com site. She and my grandmothers had done extensive genealogy research into our family, going back to the 1500’s, stretching across Europe, so the family tree looked quite impressive; sprawling, uneven branches of life with names that have repeated and regenerated often.

My finger traced along our branch: my parents, my sister and her husband, their two kids, and me. And, again it hit me. My little branch was dangling out there, alone, like a stump. It felt like a stop. But, that’s when things became crystal clear.

A LEGACY IS A LIVING THING
What I felt next was a full embodiment of something that felt embryonic and full of promise and at the same ancient and foregone. What I felt was my purpose. As a creator, a writer and a storyteller, the messages and missions in my stories, those define my legacy. What became so clear also created a new sense of urgency. Because, now knowing this, writing is not only my passion; it’s also my responsibility: to my legacy, to my mark on the world. It’s my sense of belonging and my contribution to history, and yes, to my family tree. 

My legacy is now alive, and what I birth will live on long after I’m gone.

My grandmother, the one who would have been 114, her legacy stretched far beyond the future reaches of her offspring. She started teaching in the 1920’s, in a one-room schoolhouse in rural Kansas. In the 40’s she started college, taking one extension course at a time, whenever one was available in her small town and when she could fit it in while raising her family.

It took her until 1959, but she got her Bachelor’s Degree at the same time as her son, my dad. She went on to be selected as a Master Teacher, an honor bestowed to the top teachers in the state of Kansas. She was passionate and touched many lives during her career. Her legacy made a difference.

YOUR LEGACY IS REALLY NOT ABOUT YOU
My path to understanding my legacy may seem roundabout, but in fact, it’s the natural course of discovering your purpose. For me, it’s writing meaningful prose that will help people to think about things in a new way, to improve their lives. It becomes about them which is so much more meaningful. 

Your legacy is the impact you make and the imprint you leave behind. We all have a legacy. And, the truth is it can be either positive or negative. There are numerous examples of people who are/were notorious for doing bad things, things that have a ripple effect. They go down in history as such. 

Your legacy is how you’re remembered. The lesson is that when you’re aware you’re modeling your life for your legacy, you pay attention. When you take an active part in creating and living your legacy, it becomes a meaningful adventure.

HOW DO YOU LIVE YOUR LEGACY?
Take a look in the metaphorical mirror at your life. Ask yourself:

  • How are you an original? We all are unique, and what’s your special sauce?
  • What do you want to be remembered for?
  • How can you make a lasting impact on others? Look at the impact you currently have on people in your life, directly and indirectly. Don’t belittle the significance you have in your world already.
  • Will your lasting impression help or change the greater good? How?
  • What lessons have you learned that you find yourself organically teaching to others, whether it’s merely giving a friend, child or parent advice, or whether it’s a more global imparting of your knowledge?

Your own path of self-discovery, as mine has, will help answer those questions. Any or all of these help to comprise what is your legacy, your gift to the world. 

Give it space. Allow your legacy to find you as well. Sometimes we can be so busy seeking we miss what’s coming directly to us. 

Be a Living Legacy. And, remember that the actions you take, the words you speak, and the impressions you make launch a ripple that ebbs and flows, continuing long after you’ve moved on to the next action, word or impression. Armed with this knowledge, you’re empowered to take an active role in creating the legacy you were born to create. 

ONE LAST THING
The truth is, the inkling is still there, just once in awhile, when big things happen in the lives of the important young people in my life. I put myself there, what would that be like if I was their mom. And, here’s what beautiful. I can still be a nurturing mentor or influence with them. There are so many opportunities for that. I know this is part of my legacy too.

And, who knows? Perhaps my next life mate will have kids and I’ll still get to be a grandma, of sorts. How great would that be?

Most of all, I believe the best legacy is a life well lived, in service to others and to a higher calling. Create from there and you’ll be unstoppable while having a meaningful life.