Purpose

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

What Happened Afterward Was the Clincher

Leap 4

"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


Are You Living In Your Divinity?

Here are a few ways to find out...

Nandhu-kumar-butterfly

 

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 Not Having Kids Shaped My Legacy

Allef-vinicius-woman on road
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.

 


The Trifecta of Failure

Comparison, competition and perfection - the trifecta for failure. And what to do about them. 

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Photo by Andrew Worley on Unsplash

All three of these beauties – Comparison, Competition and Perfection - present themselves to me often, in varying degrees, one at a time, or when things are really fun they show up at my door as the three Witches of Eastwick, taking up residence in my castle, car, computer, office, dialogue and of course the mind, wreaking havoc, getting wild and basically controlling everything.

This is the way the Trifecta works. Each of them has their own bag of tools and spells designed to accomplish one thing: to keep us in place, safe from harm (getting hurt, rejected or dismissed). Their nutrients are fear, shame, disappointment, disillusionment, frustration and regret. And as long as we serve up these goodies our unwelcome guests are never going to leave the party and they block the door so we can never leave either.

Comparison Robs Us

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” Theodore Roosevelt

A brilliant actress friend of mine was up for the role of a lifetime. It’s a role she'd wanted since she was a child and she had a great shot at it. After receiving a callback she found out she was one of only a handful of others called back. So, unable to stop herself, she began Googling (Yep, Google is in the Trifecta’s toolkit). She looked up the other actresses also up for the role and then unwittingly gave her cursor over to Comparison. And, as we so often do, she could only see what they possessed that she thought she didn’t. She lost the part before even walking in the door to the callback.

“Comparison is an act of violence against the self.” Iyanla Vanzant

I fished out the email I’d sent to her at the time, because this is what we do for each other as friends, we provide that soft place to land and then give a boost up so they can look in the mirror. Believe me, she's done the same for me. 

Here’s what I said: “What you bring to the table is so unique and wonderful and completely different than anyone else. There's NO ONE like you. You bring your YEARS of experience and expertise and talent and skill, in a way that no one else does. No one can compare or compete with that. It doesn't matter what their resume looks like (or anything else for that matter). Truly. At this stage of the game, you're in the room with very experienced actresses. That's where you want to be. If you just focus on that, then you'll stay on your A-game. Let them play their game and you play yours. And, don't allow them to rob you of your experience by giving them your time and energy; it gives your power away.”

This comes up for me as I follow brilliant writers who have published numerous books and I think I can’t possibly hold a candle to that at this point. A myriad of reasons (food for Comparison) present themselves: I’m too old, it’s too late, they’re better, smarter, prettier (not sure why but this comes in too but it does), braver, you name it I’ve projected it.

But, here’s the thing. When you compare yourself against others, you’ve given away your power to something outside of yourself. 

Comparison leads to judgment, which almost always leads to self-judgment.

Let's Reframe Comparison

Take a moment to think about reframing comparison. Look at what you admire about the other. Pay a brief and silent homage to that person’s success.

Empowerment coach Andrea Quinn, says, “Until you’re able to appreciate and honor the other’s success you won’t have the space to do it for yourself.” That’s how debilitating comparing yourself to others can be. It locks you in the deep freeze of your own prison. The first step to unlocking it for yourself is to appreciate the other.

Then, look in your own mirror. Dig deep and acknowledge what strengths and talents you bring to the party.  What are you serving at the table? What do you do that you know in your core gives you an edge as you?

Competition is a close bedfellow.

Now, certainly there’s something to be said for understanding your marketplace, or "competition" as marketers like to say. Knowledge is power when it’s used as information that serves you. But, when Competition is fed with all of those things we listed above at your self-defeating party, then it’s a blocker and not a helper.

Funny, the idea of competition came up recently as I was driving to an appointment. In the middle of the canyon with winding roads, I was minding my own business when suddenly the car behind me – a Honda with a thick front bumper guard – was on my tail, honking and trying to push me faster. Stop signs and other traffic didn’t matter; this guy was trying to be a force. In the past it would have stressed me out because I would try to please and play by his rules. This time, I surrendered to the metaphor and found it really interesting how much he was trying to get ahead. I thought, Dude, I’m going at my own speed, in my lane, you’ll just have to deal.

[Related: Pick a Lane, Follow the Road Baby]

Then, when we were on a wider thoroughfare I found myself competing with him. I played a game, trying to get ahead and around him, beating him through a light or slowing down on purpose to piss him off.

I caught myself and laughed out loud. It got me thinking about how much focus I was giving to his journey and not my own. I was literally giving this other annoying driver all of my attention. So, I stopped, slowed down my breath and focused on where I was going at my own speed, which to be honest was slower and more steady.

Pretty soon I forgot about him only to be aroused a few moments later by a series of loud beeps several cars behind me. Sure enough it was the Honda guy with the front bumper guard, torturing some other driver who was in his way. It struck me that people like him often need a protective bumper; they’ll keep running into or barreling over obstacles along the way. Awesome, if that works for them. But, that’s not the way I roll. So, why was I trying to compete with him? We both seemed to be on the same road, going in a similar direction, but we each have different purpose and reasons for doing so. In truth, I had no interest in where he was going.

When we focus on our competition we can lose sight of our own purpose.

Competition can foster copycat thinking and actions rather than originality and authenticity based on your own gifts and magic. When you lose those you lose yourself.

“Because she competes with no one, no one can compete with her.” Lau Tzu

Let's Reframe Competition

When you realize that no one makes it alone, often aligning or collaborating with those forging similar paths can sometimes bolster you and inspire you to keep going toward your own goals, dreams and desires. Then you have a community rather than a field of competition. That feels pretty good. Seek out those who have done what you want to do. Learn from them, partner with them, help each other and all the while, forge your own way.

Nobody has your magic sauce. Remember that. Get back to your own self worth.

Then, there’s Perfection

Perfection is the lurker, the wallflower at the party. Perfection can be the non-starter that keeps you from engaging in life all together.

I know so many incredibly talented people who are brilliant at what they do – in their own rooms. They re-do it, edit it, start over, keep polishing, get feedback and then start it all over again. All the while robbing the world of their gifts.

Trust me, I’ve been there. A lot. Just one more pass, then I’ll send it out. It just needs something…and then it will be ready. I will be ready when it’s perfect.

Perfection keeps us playing small. And, that’s not doing anyone any good.

Brene Brown says perfectionism is “a 20-ton shield. We carry it around thinking it’s going to protect us from hurt. But, it protects us from being seen.”

Yikes.

Progress not perfection

When we think of our work as progress rather than perfection, when we release it into the world it takes the pressure off of trying to be perfect. It’s a work in progress. We are a work in progress.

[Related: 6 Reasons Why Progress, Not Perfection]

Say it with me, fellow perfectionists. “I am a work in progress.”

Hmmm. Look around. The sky didn’t fall, the world kept spinning and guess what? People will only notice that you’ve stepped a bit more into your light, which allows them to give themselves permission to do the same thing. And, that's a gift that keeps on giving. 

So, our lovely little Trifecta of failure, reframed becomes a…

Trifecta of Purpose and Success:

Comparison becomes Appreciation, Gratitude & Self-Acknowledgment.

Competition becomes Collaboration, Community & Self-Respect.

Perfection becomes a Work-in-Progress & Self-Trust.

Now, that’s a trio worth inviting to the party and taking along for the ride.


These Words Can Change Your Mindset

 

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I recently reconnected with an old friend with whom I'd been out of touch for several years. She's going through a challenging transition which includes selling her home, something she doesn't want to do, but has to. Interestingly, I went through a similar transition at about the same time we'd last spoken. So, the timing of our phone reconnect all of sudden seemed rather divinely directed. I shared something with her that someone said to me during that time that shifted everything for me. And, when I said the words, she had a very similar reaction.

It got me thinking about how much words, when you hear them at the right time, can shift mindset in an instant.

From a place of boy-have-I-been-there, I shared my experience with her. I was laid off in 2008 and was out of steady work for over two years. I was in a daily struggle to try and keep my house. During that time, my friend and financial advisor, Lisa Gould, was a lifeline of truth. We often discussed various alternatives and on this particular phone call it was a brass tacks breakdown of what it would take for me to, in fact, hang on to the house. And, it literally felt like hanging on for dear life. I loved that house and my identity was ingrained with being its owner, making every little inch of it mine and sharing it with others. It gave my life a meaning that came from years of creating the meaning, by habit, by stories about the American Dream and that home ownership was an integral part of being a successful adult. I felt like a failure if I couldn't keep my home. 

When I discussed all of this with Lisa, during the brass tacks chat, she said, "Wouldn't you rather set yourself up for success than protect yourself from failure?" 

Wait, what? Say that again, I said. 

"Wouldn't you rather set yourself up for success than protect yourself from failure?" 

I still remember where I was sitting when I heard those words. Literally everything shifted in my body, my face felt flush and I felt alive, like I had choices. And, what shifted was my mindset.

And, the reason it made such an impact in that moment, is that I was ready to hear it, to receive and to incorporate it. That's when mindset shift happens. You hear or read something just at the moment when you're ready. It wasn't until she said it that I saw that's exactly what I'd been doing: trying like crazy to protect myself from failure.

Protecting yourself from failure is looking over your shoulder, stopping the bleeding with a bandaid that doesn't hold, being in a constant state of shame for fear of what others might think and always waiting for the other shoe to drop. It's painful and a self-generating cycle of doom. You feel like a loser.

Because here's the thing, since what you focus on expands (another phrase that's a true mindset shifter), protecting yourself from failure focuses your attention on the impending failure. 

Setting yourself up for success is looking forward, cutting your losses and moving on so they're not shackles holding you down. It's knowing that your circumstances don't define you, it's what you do with and about the circumstances, that do. Setting yourself up for success becomes all about intention. When you focus on your intentions for success, then success expands. 

Gary Zukav in The Seat of Soul said, "You create your reality with your intentions." So, if your intention is to protect from failing, then you'll be in that state. And, if your intention is to continually be serving your highest good with your choices which lead to success, then you'll be living in that state. 

Well, that changed everything for me at that time. Literally in that moment, my home became a house, brick and mortar. It removed the emotion which is what was keeping me so attached. The emotion is what linked to the shame and feeling of failure. In a success mindset, it became a transaction that freed me to rebuild. Was it hard? You bet. Short selling my house was a huge financial hit. But, I recognize it as a moment in my life, a circumstance I went through. Once it was done it cut the chains that held me back, in so many ways that went beyond selling the house. Because when your mindset is changed it effects everything.

I remind myself often of Lisa's words. And, when I find myself in a conversation like I had with my old friend, I share them as well. With life's ebbs and flows, this phrase has ongoing benefits in my life. It's one of my mantras now.

Whenever I see Lisa I tell her how profound it was and that it needs to be the subtitle of her book! 

What words or phrases have shifted your mindset? Make them a mantra and share them with others. It's the best way to not only expand your own life, but expand and raise the collective consciousness as well.

 


How to Be Free in Mind, Body & Spirit

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I've been wondering what our beautiful bald eagle has been thinking lately. Does she worry about her home? Is she afraid for her loved ones? Does she know her species is endangered? Has she had to reframe her sense of freedom? It's been awhile since I've seen an eagle in person, but I recall how easily she took flight and soared, completely in charge of her own air. I imagined how she went about the business of being an eagle, creating the best world she knew how, protecting herself and her species, despite the downturn that continues to take place in her universe.

I can relate. It got me thinking, again, about our own micro-freedoms, and by this I'm taking about freedom of thought, freedom of body and freedom of spirit. To my way of thinking, nurturing these freedoms is the starting point, like putting on your own oxygen mask. 

I'm fascinated about this topic and know that these micro-freedoms lead to an opening, an allowing and a freer way of being.

To honor our micro-freedoms I feel inclined to share three pertinent posts to inspire you.

8 Ways to Re-Create Your American Dream -  George Carlin said, "It's called the American Dream 'cause you have to be asleep to believe it."  Funny irony, for which Mr. Carlin was the master. But, my mindset has changed around the whole concept of this shared national ideal. Or I should say former shared ideal.  Read more for 8 suggestions or areas to free yourself from the old to welcome your new. 

And,

What is Your Personal Sense of Independence? - There’s much that we take for granted, living where we live in these great and complicated United States. The freedom to do so certainly started with our forward-thinking founding fathers. They set forth a whole new way of being, and living, with independence.

A true feeling of independence starts with an energy, a force that fuels and permeates a sagacity of human spirit, a spirit that manifests as personal power, something that is at times forgotten or lost in the chaos of the daily grind. To my way of thinking, this personal sovereignty is a combination of both mindset and sense, a combo that reminds us of whom we are meant to be. Let us begin with some core senses or deeper places of wisdom. Read more about 7 senses that form a healthy state of personal independence.

And, one more about a key ingredient to living in a free mind, body and spirit:

Letting Go is a Four-Letter Word - I’ve come to the conclusion that letting go is one of the hardest things to do in life, proven by the fact that there are literally thousands of books (328,000 in Amazon alone), articles, seminars and schools of thought on the subject of letting go, available to us hangers-on who at times find it nearly impossible to let go. To my way of thinking, letting go is the greatest way we can honor ourselves, and the only way to evolve into the best version of ourselves. Letting go means taking back control over our emotions, thoughts and actions. Because the truth is, the hanging on, the very root of any attachment, is formed in the mind, so the letting go must take place there as well. So, here are some suggestions for changing our thoughts and creating room for a new way of thinking.

"So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains. And we never even know we have the key." ~ from the Eagles

Oh, yes we do have liberty, with the keys to the freedom of our minds, bodies and spirits, and no one can take them away from us. 


Here's What it Means to Level Up

And, here are 8 steps to start leveling up in your life.

By Cindy Yantis

Inhale exhale

"Level up!" This was the attention grabber in a recent email I received. 

What is actually said was, "Level up, Libra!" It began the week's horoscope full of "time for a mid-year reboot," and "the new moon will bring a boost to your professional life." Okay, I'm in! 

I love the phrase "level up." Not only is it motivating, but it got me thinking about what that might look like in all areas of life. 

What does it mean to level up?

Simply put, it means to improve your current station in a way that feels like a powerful shift. And, it starts with a change in thought, a shift in mindset, followed by brave action. And, the fuel that drives all of it is Passion.

No sooner had I begun pondering this question when an another email popped into my inbox with the subject line, "Level up the passion in your life." Well, now I'm really paying attention. The email was about a yoga retreat and this Nelson Mandela quote was front and center. 

“There is no passion to be found playing small–in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” – Nelson Mandela

So, with passion powering us, here are some thoughts about leveling up.

  • Start with the questions - Take time with your journal. In these areas of your life, where do want to step, or leap, to the next level? 
  •     Career/Purpose - stretch your wildest dreams
  •     Health/Wellbeing - get real with where you are and where you want to be
  •     Relationships - current as well as future-desired
  •     Spiritual - where you desire to be more mindful and conscious in connection to your Source & Self
  •     Life Enrichment - skills you want to learn, places you want to travel or live
  • Define the big step - ask yourself what feels like a big step. I took 10 minutes and made a list of 25 actions that feel like big steps for me, in all areas of my life. What is for you? Is it making that phone call you know could change things for you? Or booking a venue for a new program you want to launch? Or asking someone out? Or booking the dream vacation? Or having a difficult conversation? Or going back to school? Or quitting a job that doesn't fulfill you? Or hiring a trainer? Go to the place that scares you. Start your big step from that place.
  • Say YES to the things that feel like a level up - and say NO to those that don't. Some aid you and some stop you. This is where you trust your gut and intuition. When you slow down to listen to the voice of your body, you'll know which is which.
  • Acknowledge the Yeah-Buts - we all have them. These are the fears, which feel real but mostly are imagined. The yeah-buts are simply expectations of outcome that we've made up to protect ourselves from those fears: I'm not good enough, they won't like me, I don't have enough time, I'm too old, it's too expensive, I'm too fat, I'm too young, I don't have enough experience, I don't like to fail. Leveling up is recognizing the yeah-but and then doing it anyway. That's brave. So, meet the yeah-but with -
  • Oh yeah? - it's the self-pep talk to squash the yeah-but. Oh yeah? Here's what I know I am good at. Oh yeah? My people, my divine right matches will love what I have to offer. Oh yeah? I have the time because I make the time. Oh yeah? I'm not old I'm seasoned! I'm not old, I'm wise. Oh yeah? I'm not too young, I'm smart and eager and ready to go. Oh yeah? Here's what experience I do have. Putting the focus on where you rock paves the way to your next level(s).
  • Inhale the future, exhale the past - don't stay stuck in old stories and patterns that have held you back in the past. It didn't work then and it certainly won't work in moving you up.
  • Visualize you - living at your up level. What does it look like, feel like, smell like? How's the air up there? See in your mind's eye a day in the life of you, living your big life.
  • Give someone else a lift up too - offering others a hand up as you level up pays dividends exponentially. It's just good karma.

And, as with all things, do it from and with passion.

“Nothing is as important as passion. No matter what you want to do with your life, be passionate.” – Jon Bon Jovi

Passion, joy and love. After all, isn't that what life is all about anyway?

 


How Do You Know When Your Calling Has Called?

It often comes when you're not expecting it. At least it did for me.

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Photo credit: Yoann Boyer


It was the middle of the night. The year was 2002. I was tossing and turning, thrashing in and out of the sheets because I alternated between sweating and freezing. No, I wasn’t ill. No, I wasn’t having a hot flash. But, my breath was hot as I sighed, the weight of the world on each exhale.

Dark Night of the Soul

I’ve come to understand I was having what could be known as a “dark night of the soul.”

The origin of this phrase goes back to a 16th century poem by Spanish Poet St. John of the Cross, where the poem narrates "the journey of the soul to mystical union with God."  Eckhart Tolle defines it today as, “…a collapse of a perceived meaning in life, an eruption into your life of a deep sense of meaningless…what really has collapsed is the whole conceptual framework for your life, the meaning that your mind had given it.”

This was exactly what was happening to me. My mind was engaged in a war of purpose, while I pleaded, cried, even screamed in prayer.

Ever had one of those, a dark night of the soul? It can be triggered by any number of things – anything that can rock your current existence, from a personal tragedy or loss, to a deep feeling of loss of direction or purpose.

But, as Eckhart said, the dark night of the soul “awakens you into something deeper… A deeper sense of purpose or connectedness with a greater life. It’s a kind of re-birth.” A spiritual awakening.

Well, I’ve experienced a few nights (and days) like this as I’ve evolved and grown in my human experience and as my consciousness has expanded. And, they can be gut and heart wrenching to go through. But, there are two that stand out as re-birth moments in my purpose – in 2002 and very recently – and what’s so mysterious and awesome is that they’re connected.

But back in 2002, it had been four years since I’d uprooted my life in Michigan to move to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the arts, acting particularly at the time. I’d had a few trickles of success: some theatre roles, a co-star spot on NYPD BLUE, and several national commercials (McDonald’s paid for the redecoration of my West Hollywood condo). And, I had started writing, mostly so I could write roles for myself in which I could act. I wrote and starred in a tiny short film that I used to help me get an agent. I wrote a piece for an industry workshop. And, I wrote my first script, which placed in a prestigious screenwriting competition and helped me get my first literary manager.

But, so much of it felt like an uphill climb. I felt like I had a gift, but I felt split. I enjoyed the making of the art, but the business was daunting. And, if I’m being honest, which at this point that’s all I can be, I wasn’t sure I wanted the acting thing badly enough to do what I knew it was going to take, that being a guerrilla approach to self-promotion. Whenever I did it, it didn’t feel authentic. And, I certainly didn’t enjoy it. And, truthfully, I didn’t think I was a good enough actor to break through the fray of other actors who really, really, really wanted it. The writing was still fairly new, although I’ve been writing in one form or another since I was ten. And, I didn’t know what to do with it, really. Self-promotion was going to be involved with that too.

So anyway. That night. With the soul. Some of these unvoiced and hidden truths were swimming around in my subconscious. Some of them I wasn’t ready to admit because I was determined to find my purpose, and I didn’t give up easily. As a lifelong seeker that was a force that was innate. My body was in pain as I stiffened on top of my mattress; my mouth was dry and I became aware that I was constantly sighing heavily, audibly a whisper of wanting that led to my conversation with God, my Source, my Higher Wisdom.

“God, what am I to do? Why is this so difficult? If it’s my purpose shouldn’t it be easier?”

The silence was beyond deafening, until another sigh of desperation exploded from me. “Why did you give me these gifts?” More silence. My cat, Callie, who had previously become very bored with my bed-top one-woman show of angst, came slinking back into the room. Like she wanted to hear the answer to this as well.

“Please help me. What am I supposed to do?”

And, then it came. An answer I wasn’t expecting, but it was very direct, short and surprisingly sweet. It made me bolt up from bed.

“Write meaningful prose that will change people’s lives.”

What? I can tell you, those were not my words. I didn’t use the word prose. But, that’s what I was told. “Write meaningful prose that will change people’s lives.”

Was that the call of my calling?

That’s when it became the “aha night” when I heard the call of the soul.

My body relaxed as I settled into this new mantra of truth. A mantra that has carried me ever since. So, my focus became writing. I’ve evolved into a pretty good storyteller, screenwriting mostly, my wheelhouse being characters, primarily women, who are in self-discovery, smart, sardonic women with big flaws. Heroines who also have dark nights of the soul. And, there’s movement around a few of them, although it’s Hollywood movement, which can mimic molasses. I’m okay with that though. All in the right timing, with the right people. And, this blog Thought Changer, was birthed from that mantra as it's about changing your life, an idea, an expression, a thought at a time.

Calling fulfilled? Maybe. At times it feels that way. 

But, something has recently shifted around it, causing more angst. Oy!

After breaking my wrist and taking the time to reassess priorities, I decided to concentrate on writing a novel that I’ve been researching for awhile.

Also, during this time of rehabilitation I’d engaged with a couple of healers for energy healing sessions. Now, this may sound a little woo-woo for some, but hey this is my world, these are my peeps and it’s how I roll. So, hang with me. I love exploring different healing modalities and they have opened up my life and expanded my mind. Anyway, during the course of the sessions with both of these women, they received strong messages from my angels, spirit guides and loved ones that I’m supposed to do some more deep writing about myself. Both of them said the same thing, on separate occasions: I have a story of my own to tell. And, I said, "Aw thanks. I’ll definitely do that some day." And then I filed it away under the category “maybe someday when I’m interesting.” But these readings happened at a time when there was a lot of quiet in my life, so I heard it on a deeper level. Oh, and they also gave me specific topics and events I’m supposed to write about. Yeah, I know, but that's exactly what happened. 

Well, that scared the crap out of me. I think because I knew what that was going to mean. Raw, hard truths that are challenging enough to admit to myself, let alone put out there to the world for others to read. And, my perception is that memoirists have really interesting lives that include huge events - often tragic and dysfunctional family lives - that catapult them into subjects of literary fame. I don't have that. I have a wonderful family that functions pretty well, most of the time. 

But, there are some dark and transforming moments, as with any life. So, what did I do? I decided my new novel would be based on some real events in my life. I gave the main character some of my story, writing actual scenes from my life into it and recreating them. That way, I could embellish them and create a much more interesting story than what mine is or would be. That felt like the perfect solution! Much easier to hide behind a fictional character than to reveal anything messy about myself. I don’t show the world my messy. And, I could really write it! Write what you know, right? So, I wrote a few of those chapters and laid out a kickass outline that I was excited about.

Then, I stopped writing. I literally couldn’t write. I researched and made notes. But, I wasn’t writing the novel. I didn't know what to do with her, this character that was sort of me, but wasn't at all me. Procrastination became an appointment in my daily calendar. And. It. Was. Frustrating. Any prolificacy that I’d previously experienced when on a project had left the building.

When the Call Comes Again 

So, I created a weekend writing retreat to help me focus. I got a lot done, both on the novel outline and the blog. I was tapping into some deep work. Although something was still in the way, scenes just weren't forming.

As part of the retreat I took part in an herbal tea meditation and breath workshop. The healing breath work was very intense. As the practitioner, Melissa Terese Young, told us, the consistent and deep breath pattern when done for an extended period of time (we did it for close to an hour) over oxygenates your brain and body and puts you into a meditative, and at times alternative, state. A lot came up for me during the session around my novel, my work and more aspirational questions than answers came forth.

That night, in bed, is when the 2nd night of the soul took place. Tossing and turning. I couldn’t sleep and I was feeling a collision of purpose coming. The difference this time is I had some sense of navigation because I’d been here before. So, again I prayed and I asked, “What is stopping me?” “Why have I been so stuck in my writing?” “Is this what I’m supposed to be doing?” "Please guide me on what's next."

In the silence that followed, a small voice came. “Write meaningful prose that will change YOUR life.” Hmmm. It went on. “Take your story back and tell your own story.” And, the deeper message I got was that the more I dove into my own truths, pains, revelations and transformations, the deeper the connection will be with those who read it, connection to that deep wanting and truth within themselves too.

Now that is a calling that rings really true. And, it petrifies me.

"Every time I picked up a pen, this grinding, unnamed fear overcame me—later identified as fear that my real self would spill out. One can’t mount a stripper pole wearing a metal diving suit. What I needed to write kept simmering up while I wrote down everything but that. In fact, I kept ginning out reasons that writing reality was impossible. I cranked up therapy and drank like a fish.” ― Mary Karr, The Art of Memoir

So, I’m committing to it, to writing those scenes from my own life, whether it’s about the loss of a baby and a marriage, the depths of food addiction, the perils of the hysterically funny and tragic voices in my head as I discovered boys and ran up against mean girls, the shame of pretty, the Miss America Pageant, the path of being a childless woman, the eye-opening metaphors that shifted my perspective and my own spiritual exploration, from Sunday school to shamanic journeys in the middle of the Costa Rican jungle. It’s all game and I have no idea what it’s going to look like or what path the story will take.

But, it’s calling. So, I’m answering the call. And guess what? It's pouring out of me, like a waterfall of life. 

So, how do you know when your call is calling?

The best way I know is to:

  • Ask those deep questions - and then get quiet. Really quiet.
  • Listen intently  - to what your inner voice tells you. It may be a soft whisper, or it may be a shout that makes you jump out of bed.
  • Pay attention - when your entire being feels in accord with that voice, pay close attention

That just might be the call.

Answer it.

Related: A Soul's Purpose. Are We Ever Really There?


A Soul's Purpose. Are We Ever Really There?

 

What is a soul’s purpose? Contemplating that question takes a lifetime, right?

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When do I feel like I’m in my purpose? I think it’s when things feel easy. Things are flowing, like a river of motion, smoothly going from one moment to the next.

Like when I put together the agenda for a recent Writing Retreat. I was looking for a theme to drive the agenda, something that would inspire creativity and would release blocks and procrastination which is something I’ve been struggling with, frankly something we all struggle with from time to time.

I ran across an article where the subject interviewed mentioned “circadian rhythm,” which is the body's natural alarm clock governed primarily by our secretion of melatonin (at night) and serotonin (in day). It also has value in gauging the best time for certain activities like meditation and exercise and optimal productivity. The top of my head tingled when I read that. By the way, that’s another way I know I’ve tapped into my soul, the top of my head actually tingles, which I take to be a nod of agreement from my higher self. Some people get chills or their stomach flips. My head tingles. So there you go!

Anyway, I saw the phrase 'circadian rhythm' and immediately did a search on how using our own rhythms help us to find the time of greatest productivity. Something told me it would mean the same thing for greatest creativity time. And, a ton of items showed up on Google. As soon as I pulled up an image of what a typical circadian rhythm 24-hour clock looks like, I knew I was onto something, not only as a theme but also as a way of always staying in flow with my natural rhythm. I mean who doesn’t want to be able to tap into their greatest genius? And if there’s a formula already built into our own bodies, then it’s something worth exploring further. This was an experiment I was excited to try.

So, very quickly, I put together the 2-½ day agenda based on the circadian clock.

Looking back at that small window of time when I created the retreat – about 2-½ hours between 830-11pm – it flowed so easily that I barely remember being a part of it. It’s like something else came in and took over. And, I figured out what it was. My soul took the wheel, grabbed the keyboard away from my procrastinating ass and did its thing, with purpose.

Purpose. What an over used term. Everyone’s looking for his or her purpose.

I was thinking earlier about all of my blog content that I’ve written over the last several years. I’m in the process of re-purposing some of the pieces for other web publications.

Re-purposing 

Now that’s a interesting concept. Taking something that was created in one original form, and giving it another purpose. Sometimes, it means adjusting, updating or adding to give it new purpose.

That got me thinking more about Purpose. Since it seems to be a lifelong pursuit, seeking or understanding our soul’s purpose, maybe it takes a little of the pressure off (because it’s a question that always needs to be answered and re-answered) if perhaps we instead re-purpose, or tweak, what we’ve been doing all along. I guess that’s one way to think about it.

We recently celebrated my parent’s 80th birthdays by taking them on a memorable trip to Maui. During one of our discussions I asked them what they are thinking about these days. My dad’s response took me a little by surprise. I assumed it would be about finding contentment with the road already travelled and counting the blessings of a life well lived. But, no. He said, “I think about what’s next. What’s my purpose and how can I fulfill it?”

We Seek

I loved his response because it drove the point home even more for me, that we are here in this lifetime to seek. That’s it. And, those who do seek are always seeking more: more evolvement, more connection, more meaning, more flow.

So, getting back to the question: what’s a soul’s purpose? To my way of thinking a soul’s purpose is to reveal those answers to our human selves, when we’re ready and able to learn them. Then, it’s up to us to take those answers and make the most of them in our time on Earth.

A soul’s purpose is not about making money or being famous or having 10,000,000 followers on Twitter or You Tube or Instagram. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. But, that in itself is about one layer deep of shallow. However if it’s done from a place of self-evolving, or by a person who is creating meaning, in both deed and relationships, and living a life driven by love, then it can be a lovely byproduct of a purpose.

I wonder if those who don’t have that sense of awareness find fulfillment in those tangible successes. And, is it sustaining?

I can get caught up in that sometimes. I’m at a quandary sometimes as to why some things are found and followed and go viral and other things aren’t. It gives me a stomachache even writing that. Why the stomachache? What do I have attached to that? My mouth is dry. Hard to admit, but sometimes I feel like a failure because I don’t have that huge following. And, now I stop and think, will I be brave enough to keep this paragraph in here, it I decide to publish this as a post?

But, there’s something in here for me to learn, I think, so I have to keep it in. What is it? Does my soul care about how many followers I have? No. But, sometimes I, the egotist human, do. I really do want to share thoughts that may help someone think about something differently.

So, why do I keep doing it? Maybe I should focus on writing somewhere else that already has a built-in huge following. But, that doesn't feel soul-driven. At all. So perhaps the idea of re-purposing is more ego driven? It doesn't have to be. Is it ego to want to share good thoughts with more people? I don’t think so. I keep asking the questions in order to stay in awareness around it. That usually leads me to the right choice.

Should it feel hard sometimes? Probably. Growth is hard. Expansion hurts sometimes.

So, what’s next in the soul’s journey quest? Here’s the magic sauce.

Keep asking the questions. 

Our soul’s wisdom loves questions. Living the questions is what makes a purpose-full life. Deepak Chopra talks about living the questions and allowing the answers to present themselves.

  • What’s my purpose?
  • How can I contribute?
  • What am I to share with the world?
  • What’s my legacy?
  • How am I to connect?
  • What is my life’s meaning?

Keep doing the work.

Keep following the flow.

Recognize when it feels really good. And, do more of what feels really good.

Tweet: Be grateful for your big abundant life. Be grateful for your small life moments. They’re both lovely.

Always ask your Source for help: for me it's God, the Archangels and ancestral spirit guides. Every day, I ask them to guide me in the direction of what serves both my highest good and theirs. Just asking the question has guided me to the awesome place I live and it has guided me to events and people that have changed my life.

That’s the magic sauce, I think, for a purpose-full life. At least one worth tasting.


How A Broken Wrist Changed My Life

Womans hand holding coffee

Man, did I have grand plans for 2017. I mean, I couldn’t wait to hit the ground running with a very full plate of flavorful projects waiting to be completed and/or started. Every day was Ready, Set, Go...

Then, on Christmas Eve, seven minutes after I arrived at my sister’s for the family celebration, I stepped around the back of the couch to slip my gifts next to the tree. Unfortunately, the only things that slipped were my feet on the hardwood floor, clean out from under me as I fell and broke my wrist, broke it badly in fact, both the ulna and radius bones, which meant surgery, which meant a steel plate holding my wrist together, which meant wearing a cast for weeks (albeit one in a pretty color), which meant having to learn how to use my left wrist and hand all over again. 

Can you say Projectus Interruptus? It was more like Life Interruptus.

To say that starting this year with a broken wrist shook me would be an understatement. And what’s entirely laughable is how I tried to fight it, looking at it only as an obstacle keeping me from doing ALL that I’ve been wanting to do. Laughable because that is one fight I was never going to win. When you have one usable hand there’s only so much you can do.

I had no choice but to just stop

What immediately started to happen? Fears started to bubble to the surface that once and for all I was required to recognize, study and distill. Fears about running out of time or of missing out on that next great idea or next opportunity. And, it exposed something very big. It allowed me to take a hard look at myself as the chronic multitasker that I had become.

The multitasker moniker is one that I have worn loudly and proudly. I'd have a running to-do list, set multiple timers, creating fancy systems for said timers, jumping from one idea or one task to the next, and many times doing more than one of them at the same time. I definitely have a record of completing many of these tasks and getting things done and many of them fairly well. Crossing things off my to-do list, nirvana for multitaskers!

But, what often happens with this chronic multitasking? Mediocrity becomes the norm. Things get done but excellence often is not reached. And, focus is splintered in a thousand different directions.

Research has shown that multitasking causes the brain to work at a lower cognitive level and for an extended period time keeps it at that level. So, then it's harder to focus on projects that take a higher and deeper level of thinking and concentration. According to a Fast Company article "These Are the Long Term Effects of Multitasking," multitasking actually has addictive effects on the brain, can diminish IQ and the constant "task-switch" leads to a destructive cycle of distraction that stops productivity. 

So my broken wrist got me thinking about how the universe was giving me a very big message to slow down. To stay with the present moment and the present task at hand. The big Truth is that’s all there is, this moment, in this realm, in this space. And the truth is you can only accomplish one thing, well, at a time.

As a multitasker, I’d packed my plate with as many things as possible and when that plate was full I started another plate. It’s like continually going back to the buffet table that you know, even before you approach, is filled with delectable things you want to try. Things you know you don’t need, are not good for you and will derail you from your healthy Vision or Intention.

But now, if I attempt to carry my typically full plate with my only one good hand, there’s no doubt it’ll come crashing down, shattering into a pile of chaotic unorganized mess that will be nothing short of sad and depressing!

Going From Multi to Monotasker

Being focused on one thing at a time means staying away from the buffet table and removing the distractions that steal focus. It's like ordering from the menu the one thing that serves your vision or goal. And to help safeguard the commitment to being singly focused, if it’s actually a menu that you have pragmatically designed so that every item available to you serves your mission, then you’re in complete control of whatever goes on your plate on any given day.

So, for me I started by taking literally everything off of my plate and my menu of a thousand projects. I spent hours meditating and getting back in deep touch with my core values and my core truths. And, then I just got quiet. I allowed my GPS to re-calibrate as my single task menu items floated to the surface. Then, I sat with those for awhile, then cut them down again. What came out of the process was a clean, simple plate with very few projects on it that I'm absolutely madly in love with. 

And. It. Feels. Good. Really good.

Now, as physical therapy strengthens my wrist, I work to continually retrain my brain to stay focused on the one thing at a time. I've given up my place at the buffet table. I'm more cognizant of my electronics time so am mindful of distractions. And, I'm happy with what I'm doing.

Turns out, my broken wrist was one of the best things that ever happened to me. 

 

Cindy Yantis is the Thought Changer Blog creator & curator. She is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. For more info: CindyYantis.com. Please visit us on our Facebook Page: Facebook.com/ThoughtChanger