"Won't people think I'm unhelpful?" "What if I come across rude or closed off?" "If I set boundaries no one will want to be in my life." These are a few of the common questions and comments I hear when I bring up setting boundaries with my clients.
I also happen to coach and support highly sensitive people who are givers. They spend their days with their arms stretched out wide, metaphorically speaking. These are women who feel giving is a way of life -- that it's not just something to "do," but something that's become part of their identity, their way of being in the world.
To set a boundary when you feel like you are built not to -- well, it rarely goes over well. Especially if we assume that setting boundaries are about closing off who you are. If we think setting a boundary requires that we don't give, help, or that we shut down, I wouldn't set them either.
We think of boundaries as these hard stops, as lines in the sand that give the impression of, "Do not come any closer. Do not come any further. You are not welcome here." We think if we set a boundary we are saying to people: "Do not trespass. Wrong way, do not enter. Beware." But the power of a boundary is it gives you space, respect. and clarity.
A boundary allows both you and others to understand what your actual capacity is. It isn't just the thing that keeps energy that isn't yours in check, it also keeps you safe.
Before I get much further I need to insert a small disclaimer: I personally don't buy into the idea that we can cloak ourselves and be protected from "toxic people." I don't believe we can wear an energy shield or imagine that there is distinct separation between us.
This may be unpopular thinking because as an empath it's common ground that we can "self-protect." But in the quantum reality, there is no separation. Zip. Zero. The lines aren't blurry, there simply aren't any lines!
Which means, as poetic as wearing an energy shield sounds...I want to offer a different perspective. One that empowers you and reminds you that setting a boundary isn't about protection. It's about being your fullest self and feeling safe to do so.
How do we create, uphold, and appreciate setting boundaries if we're just walking around in one big pot of emotional soup? With intention and self-awareness.
Saying “no” or feeling "no" in honor of my boundaries is a daily practice. One I don't always get right. I never want to let someone down, but what I find to be true every single time, without fail, is this – when I say yes to something that crosses a boundary for me I end up feeling resentful, disengaged, and annoyed. And I don’t want to represent my work or my life from this place, ever.
Boundaries are NOT a shield to keep people away.
Boundaries ARE about authentic connection.
Setting a boundary is how we connect most authentically with people. If you take all your triggers and baggage out of the equation, what’s left over is your most authentic self. Your most authentic self can easily connect with others because you know where your line in the sand is and YOU don’t cross it.
Boundaries are NOT hoarding your time or being unavailable.
Boundaries ARE about sharing yourself freely.
Setting a boundary is letting someone know what congruency looks like and feels like to you. This is you honoring your needs – your energy needs, your emotional needs, your support needs, and your self-care needs. When we take away from our own needs to make space for others this isn’t a boundary, it’s being a martyr.
Boundaries are NOT designed to bolster self-importance.
Boundaries are about self-respect.
Setting a boundary is not about self-righteousness or self-importance. They are about honoring, respecting, and taking a stand for what helps you feel and act your best. Only when you put yourself first can you show up fully for someone else.
"Won't people think I'm unhelpful?" "What if I come across rude or closed off?" "If I set boundaries no one will want to be in my life." These are a few of the common questions and comments I hear when I bring up setting boundaries with my clients.
Last month, a client posted this article titled, "What the good teachers teach." I have to say, it totally captured me. She gave me a mini dose of permission I didn't even know I was seeking about how I perceive and choose to play out my work.
Her article outlines five tips for choosing the right teacher or coach for yourself. She talks about things like not choosing someone with "all the answers" and knowing if that person is vetted to do the work they're doing.
It seems like simple stuff, but as I look at the current state of the coaching industry I am sorry to say these simple things aren't that obvious or easy to spot. Why?
During an Awaken Your Life class last week, a few of my students brought up that they don't know how to describe the work they're doing. Are they coaches? Transformation leaders? Guides? Practitioners? All of the above?
I joked that I still don't know what I do. (Yes, even I still struggle with knowing what my "thing" is.) But that I also feel this pull to bring great coaching and the power of this work back into rightful perspective.
Is this my job or even my responsibility? Not really; no one elected me to but through all of my iterations of this work I come back to ONE constant over and over - I love being a coach. I love it fiercely.
But what does it mean to be a "great coach"? Can we really define this?
And we should.
I do my best to be lighthearted in this work and I am passionate about it. I am passionate about people and bringing as much unconditional compassion to the table as I possibly can. I am passionate about being a conscious coach, someone who knows her limitations and her strengths and has the courage to be transparent about both.
The word "unconditional" is important to me. It means that I am in constant contact with myself and if I'm ever overly invested in my clients' version of success.
It means not assuming that I know "the way" let alone the right way for a client to go. And it means letting go, big time. Despite our strong belief in healing, there is nothing wrong with the people I work with. Nada, nothing, zilch.
It is common in our culture to assume someone outside of ourselves can solve our problem or fix us. Just look at the western medical system: it is founded on the idea that there are the ill and there are the saviors of the ill.
This is prevalent in many areas of our life - finances, health, love, our job, happiness, and basically anything we want. It is so easy to assume getting it is an "outside job" or that someone has the answers to our woes.
There are many (many!) coaches who fall into this category and who coach from the perspective that they themselves are the solution to their client's ailments. When a coach chooses this mindset they do one of two things:
1) They play God and present a perfectly scripted path for a client to walk down to be "magically" cured.
2) Think they have to BE the solution and get attached to their clients having a specific outcome that is predetermined. And if the client doesn't get there, the coach assumes either they failed or the client just didn't want it bad enough.
As a coach I am a master of a process that a client can climb inside of to do the work, take personal responsibility, and be their own healing. And if a client comes to me who is working on something I am also in the midst of, I have to remember these two simple points:
No matter how similar it looks, it is not the same.
This is an opportunity to convey empathy and compassion.
If we know what good coaching is not, then what is it? How do we spot it? When I posed this question about what makes a coach great to some followers on Instagram I got comments that said...
...shows up and meets you where you're at.
...asks the uncomfortable questions, those questions designed to stretch you.
...allows for someone's deepest and truest self to be revealed.
...really sees me and hears me.
...does their own work and is in touch with their own life.
I truly believe it is this simple.
Coaching is predicated on exploration. Exploration that is unpredictable, creative, and personal to the client.
This is why I fell in love with the process of coaching all those years ago and why although I've created other programs like Awaken Your Practice and the 52 Week Journal, I come back to the art of great coaching time and time again.
To bring such simple tools to something like a conversation, and witness over time as that person sees more and more of their true self, believes in themselves maybe for the first time, and begins to love themselves -- it captures something for me.
It captures the raw truth tucked inside the human heart: that we all just want to be valued and seen.
This is what a great coach leaves space for. So while I don't always know how to describe what I do and sometimes worry what someone conjures up if I say, "I'm a life coach," I also don't care. Because it isn't about my title or some definition that makes it easier for someone to "get me."
It is about the gift of unconditional and compassionate space at the moment someone decides they are ready to go within and awaken something that has been dormant. It never gets old. Almost 5,000 conversations later...it never gets old.
I learned the hard way that self-doubt, fear, and not feeling like I was worthy of what I wanted were as alive as my desire to serve others. I've compiled a list of myths, five to be exact, that I hope can help you.
Encouraging women to simply "play big" or to "stop getting in your own way" isn't helpful. Advice like this means well, but we can't effort our way out of not feeling good enough. No amount of reaching will help us to feel inherently worthy.
If you're like me and you have something big to share with the world and the call to give in some way, then feeling solid in your value is key. Let's be honest... putting your ideas out there in any way is scary! It's vulnerable, raw, and uncertain. It's hard enough as it is without questioning your value on top of it.
What if it's a sign that what you're about to embark on is important and comes from a part of you that is meant to give unconditionally? What if it's an indication that you're on the right path?
Let's consider the following myths around worthiness.
Myth #1: If I grow thicker skin, I will feel good enough to do my big work in the world.
How many times have you been told to just stop being so sensitive and grow some thicker skin? I don't even know what this means, and it implies that there is something wrong with who I am. (Which is a super sensitive person! And to be honest, it's one of my favorite things about myself.)
In business, leadership, entrepreneurship, or simply in sharing your desire to do good in the world, it can appear as though you have to "cover up" and "protect" yourself if you want to feel worthy of your ideas finding their way out there. As if in order to succeed we have to tuck our heart away.
The truth is:
In addition to not feeling good enough, most of the women who come my way are also empathic and highly sensitive people. They feel their world and often tell me that they hold generosity, giving, and humility in their values. The last thing I want for you is to "toughen" up and in doing so shield yourself from giving from a place of radical empathy. The truth is, the traditional business world isn't built for people like me and you. AND it could sure use a dose of us, don't you think?
Myth #2: If I had a "normal" childhood I would feel like I am enough.
I hear plenty of "enoughness" stories prefaced with how someone grew up. And while it would be easier to categorize not feeling good enough as a byproduct of a crappy childhood, it isn't a prerequisite to not feeling good enough.
The truth is:
It doesn't matter where you come from or how you grew up. I've coached women whose stories are filled with trauma and abandonment, and I've coached women whose childhood was made of fairytales—and still, no matter where someone fell on this spectrum, they didn't feel good enough. It doesn't matter how many women I coach who are starting a new incredibly personal and meaningful venture; the first thing 100% of them tell me is how plagued with doubt they feel. I went through it too.
Myth #3: If I make more money or learn more I will feel like I am enough.
Quite simply, "If I take that next course, read those books, finally make enough money, THEN I will feel like I am enough." Sound familiar? How many times have you not only thought this but acted on it? I remember just two years into coaching I was about to spend $50,000 and travel out of state monthly so I could complete another master's degree and finally deem myself "worthy" of the work I was already doing.
The truth is:
The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know. It's humbling to accept this truth—but then where and how does self-improvement fit in? I think growth is imperative to our personal success, but it shouldn't be the thing we use to prove how good we are. It should drive your desire to know more and constantly be in awe of what more there is to understand about life. Knowledge is a gift, but the truth is, it can't make you worthy.
Myth #4: When I'm successful I will finally feel worthy.
I thought that when I accomplished my goals, I would feel like I had "arrived" and all my self-doubt could finally melt away. For three years I had been climbing my own success ladder, and in some ways, the ladder others left for me without my questioning it. Early in 2017 I chose to stop climbing, to look up and down and see that there was no top in sight. And no matter how fast or swiftly I climbed it I could still see the bottom.
The truth is:
I realized that there is no end to the success ladder. Not only this, no matter how "successful" you become, you will always feel like you aren't worthy of where you're headed, because your goals will always be in front of you somewhere. There's distance between where you are and where you want to be; this never fades. What if we stopped thinking that in the "getting someplace else" we'll find more of us? What if growth didn't create us, but simply gave us more to love? More to explore? More to enjoy? What then?
Myth #5: Successful people naturally feel worthy and like they're enough.
It's easy to look at people who have "made it" and assume that they either got there because they felt worthy of what they are doing all along, or that success took that doubt away from them. But we don't actually know this. Oprah Winfrey interviewed guests for over 25 years and conducted more than 4,500 interviews by the time her show wrapped in 2011. She said once that no matter the guest or how famous they were, they asked the same question when filming would wrap. The question? "How did I do?"
The truth is:
You become successful because you act in spite of your fear. Putting yourself out there, risking messing up, looking dumb, or getting it wrong is all a practice. You have to find why you're doing this and know that it is so much bigger than you.
What called you to this work? Why do you feel compelled to move forward in spite of the fear or doubt? If you never feel good enough, will you allow that to keep you from giving your gifts to the people who are waiting for them? Only you can decide this. I've come to believe that worthiness is a personal choice.
The world needs our stories...
I'm that girl strangers share their life stories with. It doesn't matter if I'm in line at the grocery store or on an airplane, I often find myself as the person others tell deep and meaningful things to. I thought everyone received in this way. I thought everyone enjoyed listening and lending sometimes just a smile as if to say, "I see you and I hear you."
It would take until I was 30 to realize this simply isn't the case. I have a gift. I call this gift compassion. I call this gift empathy. And I call this gift love. This gift isn't unique to me, but it is the thread of my life and the lens for my work.
You see, the most radical thing about me is that I love people and I have a strong belief in our capacity to do good. I love our silly nature, our dreams, and our ability to create hope. I also love that we get to reawaken with each lifetime and discover something completely new.
I've always been intuitive and tapped into things I can't see but know to be true. When I walk around in the world I don't just see the world, I feel it. I feel all of it. Sometimes I can't tell which is mine and which is not mine because it just all melts together. One big emotional soup.
To feel the world isn't always easy or convenient, but it's a gift. Emotions are the texture of our life. They give our life meaning and make our stories worth recounting. My mother helped me understand this. She always told me I would be a helper one day. Naturally, upon hearing this, I avoided it for as long as I could. I wanted to come to this conclusion on my own. When I finally conceded that she was right, she simply smiled and said, "I know."
After my mom passed away, this little seed in me popped open and I was left with the clear call to lead women. To use my gifts in a way I hadn't before. Over the past 13 years I've chosen to explore people. First as a social worker, then as a counselor, and today as a coach.
However, these are just tools and a means for me to do my real work -- to help women awaken their life from the inside out. To help you see how brilliant, creative, and resourceful you already are. To help more women share their voice with the world and even with themselves.
This is my story. I have many stories, as we all do. We share them because they matter and because we are more connected than we realize. I want to hear your story.
It is time to start collecting these stories, the stories that remind us in the midst of our beautifully messy lives that we are enough, we are good, and we are valuable. If this calls to you, read below how to submit YOUR story. And thank you - This work is no longer negotiable and our time is now.
SUBMIT YOUR STORY IN 2018...
When I started coaching in 2010 I didn't know what I would discover about the people I worked with, I just wanted to be a great coach. Almost eight years and more than 2,000 conversations later I can say that there is one theme above all else that finds its way through no matter what.
"I am not good enough."
Where does this come from and why do we share this common thread? The truth is, I don't know. But I want to give a bigger voice to this phenomena so that maybe together we can begin to untangle our worthiness. Welcome to the #IAMENOUGH project: a collection of women's stories about "enoughness." This project is a compilation of stories by women, for women.
> Your story needs to be first person and true.
> Share a story that you'd want to be published or shared with others.
> One submission per person.
Most new coaches would rather spend their first weeks and months as a coach building a website than having conversations with potential clients. I can't fault this. I did it too. It's fun to build a site, create your packages, and declare to the world that you finally answered your calling!
Most coaches also hear crickets after they hit "publish" on their masterpiece.
If you are going to take the time to build something wonderful for your audience and potential clients, let's make sure it does the ONE thing a website is meant to do - create new clients.
First, here's the common template of almost every coach or service-practitioner:
Homepage with some text about you
A box in the footer that reads, "Join my newsletter!"
The following menu tabs:
Schedule a consultation
You may be wondering, "What else is supposed to go on a website?!"
For the first six years of my private practice, I followed this same template. And when I changed it to what I am about to teach you, I was hesitant because I thought my clients wouldn't be able to find out about my work or how to hire me.
But here's the problem with the common formula: it solves a problem clients don't have and it answers a question they aren't asking. We think they are asking the following:
"How can I hire you?"
"Can you solve this problem I know I have?"
If your potential client were asking these two questions, then this formula would be awesome! But they aren't.
And so your website actually reads like one big assumption and may as well be an oversized business card.
When someone stumbles on your website, they probably got there via the following channels:
Scenario 1: Scrolling through Instagram or Facebook --> See a cool pic, like it --> Maybe click on your profile or bio link --> Land on website
Scenario 2: Meet you at a networking event --> Take your business card --> Check out website to compare
Scenario 3: Someone they know mentions you --> Scribble your site down on some scratch paper --> When they remember, check out your website
Scenario 4: Googling something --> Your blog article pops up in their search --> Maybe click on your article --> Land on website
What do all four scenarios have in common?
They know close to NOTHING about you before landing on your website, which means the LAST thing on their mind is how to give you money. Period. End of story. And if your website follows the formula I outlined above, then all your website is doing is telling them how they can hire you and give you money.
Before I outline a formula that actually works, let's look at whois coming to your website.
There are 3 types of clients & 3 ways a client hires you:
1.They are a NEW client.They hire you for the first time.
2.They are a CURRENT client.They renew to remain your client.
3.They are a PAST client.They return to work with you again.
Your website is for Client #1. The NEW client. I made you a chart to help illustrate what a NEW client actually needs.
1/3 = New Client
2/3 = Renewal and Returning Client
In the beginning, a new client is willing to invest LOW time and LOWfinancial investment with you. As you build rapport over time, what they invest with you will also increase.
Your website needs to stay in the ORANGE BOX.
Your website isn't about clients hiring you—at least not at first. Your website exists to build a community of people who like and trust you so that eventually they want to hire you.
Yet most websites cater to longer time commitments and high financial investments because most coaching websites scream, "Hire me!"
A NEW client is interested in ONE thing only: Do they like you enough to spend a little time with you?
In the beginning, the biggest currency your client pays you is their attention. And you have to earn it long before they call you, consult with you, and eventually hire you.
The goal of your website is to move them through 4 stages. (Note: The first three are FREE.)
Stage1: Insight. Highlight the problem they didn't know they had. This can also lead someone to your website. You get 2-3minutes of their time.
Examples of Insight:
Newsletter opt-in (The heading of the opt-in needs to highlight the problem.)
Landing page opt-in
Instagram or Facebook posts
Pins(Pinterest) that are clickable
Stage 2: Information. Solve the problem. You get 15-30 minutes of their time.
Examples of Information:
Training video or audio
First article in an email auto-series
Longer Facebook posts
Training article (like this one here!)
Stage 3: Action. They take some action and invest TIME with you. You get 60-90minutes of their time.
Examples of Action:
Attenda free master class
Opt-in and open a 5-day email training series
Join the People First Project
Stage 4: Action 2.0. Enroll them in a client conversation. You get 60-120 minutes of private time and the opportunity to ask them to be a client.
Examples of Action 2.0:
People First Project
Get on the phone!
OK: now you can build a site that actually works!
This is my current formula; I am constantly evolving it and testing new ideas. I track everything so I can continue to teach you better tools for website conversion.
Watch this 8 minute behind-the-scenes video about my website:
Finally, before you go to implement what you have learned, please keep this one note in mind: Free content does NOT mean poor content. What you give away to build value has to be as good as what you charge for.
Please post ALL questions in the comments section below!
This is the wall in my office. You can only see a snippet here but on the right is a bulletin board where I hang all the notes, cards, and letters I receive throughout the year. I turn them inside out so I can see the writing and who sent it. At the end of the year, I spend a couple hours going through and re-reading each before tucking them away in a box.
These cards mean so much to me. Not just because you thought to send them or because you took the time to think of me, slow down, and write with pen and paper opposed to an email. They matter to me because they are my mirror.
We don't always see who we are clearly. We see ourselves through our lens which often comes muddied with stories and shame. There is good stuff in there too. Great stuff! But we like to zero in on what isn't working, where we don't feel expanded, how we don't feel like "enough".
Then, like clockwork, when I need it the most one of these little gems arrives in my mailbox. It's a ritual in keeping an honest scope of myself and my work. And every year, it fills.
No matter how many notes I receive I still grapple with doubt. Don't get me wrong, I would prefer to ease through my job without going through the inevitable doubt cycle that creeps up when I create something new, have a radical new idea, want to share something deeply personal, and the list goes on.
Last year I created The People First Project. I ran it twice (it's coming back in March!) and had the opportunity to coach 60 people. In these 60 conversations I found ONE common thread or maybe it's a common truth? It came wrapped up in plenty of different phrases such as -
"I just want to feel confident in my direction."
"I want to trust myself."
"I want to know what I am doing and trust it!"
"I don't want to feel bad for my ideas and dreams."
"Will people actually want what I have to offer?"
"Who am I to do this amazing thing?"
And the list goes on.
From the project, I collected over 60 questionnaires and 3,600 minutes of coaching recorded that all captured one truth -
Am I allowed?
Am I allowed to succeed?
Am I allowed to be bold and courageous?
Am I allowed to charge for this?
Am I allowed to speak up?
Am I allowed...to be myself, be seen, be heard, and still belong?
The short answer? Yes. So why then doesn't this answer ever suffice? And even more, why are we asking this and feeling this way?
Every time a card arrives in the mail the first thing I think after opening it is, "I am allowed..." Every. Single. Time. So you see, I am not exempt but I am deeply curious about this.
How many of us feel this way? What do we have in common? Why are we compelled to continue looking for validation that we belong in the spaces we're drawn to? And so the questions pile up.
I am super biased in this but I think I work with the most amazing people on the planet. They are heart-driven, service-oriented, creative, resourceful, kind, and compassionate. They choose business or leadership because it can mean more reach and more freedom.
Yet, so many of us are getting tangled up in things we aren't prepared for. Things like self-doubt excessive criticism, and fear. Before we know it, not only are we not having more reach and more freedom we're also steeped in believing we aren't allowed to.
I want to wrap every single one of you up who feels this way and remind you that you're not alone. That at every turn that stretches you or cracks you that much more open you will also discover a litany of uncertainty. When I looked up another word for 'fear' I found this word...chickenheartedness.
Are we chicken for getting scared? For doubting our selves? For needing constant validation?
- OR -
Are we trying to do something that hasn't been done before?
What if it's a sign that what you're about to embark on is important and comes from a part of you that is meant to give unconditionally? What if it's an indication that you're on the right path? What if it's a sign you're heart is leading and this isn't chickenheartedness but wholeheartedness?
And if this is the case then maybe we aren't supposed to spend all of our energy trying to outrun, release, or let go of our tangle of doubts but hold onto it and let it guide the way. We automatically assume feeling bad is bad. It isn't.
It's illuminating the fact that you care a f*&k ton about what you're doing. Trust me, if it were easy or without struggle we wouldn't care as much when we DO succeed. We wouldn't be grateful or humble. We would just be successful. But the age of success for success sake is coming to a close.
I invite you to consider this quote -
"The awakened heroine becomes the best she can be to contribute what only she can to realizing human potential."
Guess how you wake up? Painfully. There is no awakening without grit. You won't find it and if you do I wouldn't trust it. Your best work is a demonstration of what we are capable of. We have to choose differently. We have to absorb not feeling like enough and be humbled by it AND get up every day and continue to put it all on the line.
Before you go asking for proof that you can do this, be this, say this...stop. Instead, remind yourself what is actually on the line if you don't. If it's your reach, your bank account, your fame I guarantee you aren't thinking wholehearted enough. Bolstering your success is easy. Defending another's is the real risk.
Isn't this why it's so scary? And why we don't feel like we're allowed? Because who are we to believe we can solve, serve, help this planet of ours? Let alone how big a responsibility this is!
And it's sometimes the bigness that makes us ask the inevitable question, "Am I allowed?" You know how I know? Those who aren't called to serve don't even know this is a question that follows us around...
Be proud of this question. It will always point you in the right direction. A messy, gritty, wholehearted direction.
Encouraging women to simply, "Play big" or to "Stop getting in your own way" isn't helpful. Advice like this means well but we can't effort our way out of not feeling good enough. No amount of reaching will help us to feel inherently worthy.
When I was a little girl my mom's favorite advice was, "Follow your bliss." She loved to tell me that I could do anything and be anything so long as I put my whole heart into it.
I loved this advice. There is just one tiny problem...
...she didn't leave me any instructions on HOW exactly to do this. And she certainly didn't warn me that in pursuing what lit my heart up I would encounter so much self-doubt, fear, and not feeling like I was worthy of what I wanted.
I learned the hard way these things were as alive as my desire to serve others.
In May 2017 I was sitting with my best friend at her dining room table and explained that while I wasn't depressed, something was certainly off. I had been climbing my own success ladder, and in some ways, the ladder others left for me without questioning it.
It was as if for the first time I stopped climbing to look up and down and see that there was no top in sight and no matter how fast or swiftly I climbed it I could still see the bottom. 'What was I doing?', I thought.
So I got off. And with it, my business started to crumble, fast.
It scared me but for the first time in almost two years I had something I didn't have while climbing the ladder. I had clarity. I stepped outside something that had convinced me I was built to succeed in one particular way and if that way didn't suit me then somehow it meant something was wrong with me.
Could there be a different way? Not even an easier way or quicker way but a way that actually felt like me, a way that felt good?
I wanted to be done with "hustling". I wanted to stop caring so much about my bank account. I wanted to stop worrying how well I could enroll clients. I wanted to stop comparing myself to people in my industry who were also friends and colleagues. People I admire and people I was envious of. I wanted to stop searching for my business in other people's ideas.
And mostly I wanted to love every aspect of my work and knew if I was waking up every day feeling numb something had to change. So maybe it was ok that it started to crumble. Maybe in that crumbling I would have no choice but to listen to my heart again and let it be easy.
This was the moment I returned to my roots.
In what felt like a flash of insight I remembered why I chose to work with people in the first place. It wasn't about healing or fixing. It wasn't about making the world a better place even. I have loved people my whole life. And I genuinely mean this.
I love the way we think and see. I love how hard we try and how silly we can be. I love our naivete and brilliance at the same time. I love our fierce compassion and I am just as fascinated by how hard we are on ourselves and one another. And I love that we are ever-expanding in our own ways and that we can never fully know humanity. And yet it doesn't keep me from trying.
This is why I do this work. To SEE people.
To really see you and hear you.
What if there were nothing to fix or change? What if there were nothing to solve? What if service work weren't about getting us someplace but instead loving ourselves right where we stand? How radical might that be?
These truths are my roots. And when I returned to this place I found everything I couldn't find from up on the ladder. From up on the ladder my life became about measurement and success was predicated by getting someplace else every day. New growth, more clients, more money, better programs, more readers...
But every place I arrived lacked in some way. It never felt like enough. Have you ever felt like this? As if no matter how much you "arrived" didn't offer you what you thought it would? The more I arrived the less at home I felt.
While I am still learning and navigating this return, I do hold this truth closer to myself more now than ever --
We have already arrived.
Does this mean we'll keep growing? Yes.
Does this mean we want things we don't yet have? Yes.
Does this mean we will still try and get someplace new? Yes.
What if we stopped thinking in the 'getting someplace else' we'll find more of us? What if growth didn't create us but gave us more to love? More to explore? More to enjoy? What then...?
In November I sat around a massive dining room table on the final night of a retreat for my Awaken Your Life students. One of them said to me, "I want to be able to say I knew you when..." And while this made me feel amazing I also feel like this IS the when. Right now.
I still have goals and aspirations. I want to write books and speak to large audiences. I want to be on Super Soul Sunday and I want to live at the beach. I want things. I am human after all. But this year taught me that to spend excessive time and energy in the wanting is to miss the very things that are taking me there.
I am a writer.
I am a speaker.
I spend time walking the beach.
And while I don't know Oprah I practice our conversation when I am driving. You know, just in case ;)
Wherever your 2017 took you or shook you I hope you take a moment to reflect on it. To give as much space and grace to what actually unfolded this year and not just to the things you wish had or wish will in the future.
After all, you can only be where you are.
I had a spiritual awakening on January 8, 2014. A day that changed the whole course of my life but at the time it felt like an unraveling. It felt like something I wanted nothing more than to deny and hide.
And I did. I hid it from almost everyone for almost two years.
Having a "spiritual awakening" sounds all good and fun but for me it threatened everything I knew to be true. I grew up an atheist and ironically a devout one at that. Logic was the name of the game and we prided ourselves on sitting around the dinner table and "discussing" (a.k.a. arguing) about philosophy, politics, science, feminism, education, and anything but god.
When it felt like Source/God/Universe cracked me open on that January day, I was a lot confused. Questions began to pour out of my pen which I had never contemplated or given much thought to. Questions like, “What is consciousness? Are we infinite?”
I would spend the next two years in search of answers. What happened to me? What did I miss? Where do I come from? Why am I here? Is there a God? What is Source? How do I feel about religion? What is spirituality? What are the mystics telling us? What is my role in all of this?
I read every text I could get my hands on. I asked teachers, leaders, healers, intuitives, and mentors these questions. I wrote hundreds of pages in my journal. And slowly the answers began to flood from me. I knew what I believed…but I was terrified to say it.
So I hid.
I thought if I hid it two things would happen.
1) It could be my secret little hobby and no one needed to be the wiser.
2) Like all great hobbies it would lose its luster and I could "go back" to being me.
Well, it turns out you don't have a profound spiritual awakening and then just return to "normal" life. **Insert eye roll emoji**
I was different whether I was willing to admit it or not. Or was I?
The truth was, this wasn't new. I wasn't simply "waking up" so much as I was remembering who I was. I've always been intuitive and tapped into things I can't see but know to be true. We live in a world where these things, which at one time were celebrated culturally, are questioned and criticized for their lack of "truth" and validity.
I shared with my father recently how I see the world. We were comparing world lens notes and he sees the world very rationally. The left side of his brain is physically bigger than his right. No, really. You can feel it pressing against his skull.
I shared with him that while I "get" the world rationally I see it through a very emotional lens. That when I walk around in the world I don't just see the world, I feel it. I feel all of it. Sometimes I can't tell which is mine and which is not mine because it just all melts together. One big emotional soup.
If I spend too much time in a hospital, large shopping mall, or in a large crowd I get physically sick. Sometimes just depressed or anxious. My favorite bookstore is as big as a city block and four stories. It's one of my favorite places to spend an afternoon but sometimes it makes me nauseous and queasy within minutes.
Upon sharing this, my father said to me, "That sounds awful." To which I sort of chuckled.
I don't know any different but is it awful? I had to sit with that comment for a moment. And I came to this conclusion...
It isn't awful. In fact, it's wonderful.
To feel the world isn't always easy or convenient but it's a gift. Emotions are the texture to our life. They give our life meaning and make our stories worth recounting. They tell us who and what is important to us. Even anger points the way to what's important in as powerful a way as sadness or joy.
I’ve known since that January day that I am meant to be a spiritual leader and teacher, a healer and a guide. I am meant to use my intuitive gifts to hold space for others and help them heal and live their purpose. To gift the generosity of space to listen to your heart and hear your own intuition.
But it took me until November 2015 to admit it. I was scared that I shared my new found beliefs and the depth of my intuition I would be pushed out of the tribe. I didn't know which tribe just "the" tribe. I thought I would risk belonging in a world where I already barely felt like I fit in.
It took me almost two years to even write this sentence let alone make it public...
"I was sent here by Source (God, Universe, I Am, One) to help the world wake up from within. To remember that we are one, we are love, and we are incredible beings. To help you awaken your life from the inside out."
When I first wrote this with the intent of putting it on my "about" page on my website I think I wrote it cringed with one eye open as if I was about to witness my own train wreck.
I remember I called my big brother to like, you know, warn him that it may appear as though I'd gone crazy. I wanted to reassure him (and me) that I was perfectly sane...I think.
But that hiding this was no longer an option.
Do you ever feel this way? That at some point it's simply too exhausting and painful to deny who you are to yourself and the world? I tell you though, telling my family I was marrying a woman was easier than this.
Answering our call can feel like life or death. And in truth, it's a kind of death. It's the death of who we thought we were, of the ideals that carried us this far, and of the things we used to believe to be true.
In order to experience a spiritual rebirth, you have to let go. I had to let go. And risk the leap.
In November 2015 I published my new about page.
Sometimes when I get scared or feel "too" seen I want to delete it and replace it was a more convenient biography. A simple list of my accomplishments is anything but vulnerable.
But I can't.
Because it wouldn't just be deleting an about page. It would be me denying who I am to myself. This is the scariest thing I’ve ever done. And yet I know with my entire being that I am finally home.
And why I actually LOWERED my coaching rates.
There's a trend in coaching to constantly be raising our rates. When did it become unacceptable to charge less than $100/hour of coaching? Or even $250/hour? Or...even more?
Now, I fell into this and quick. It seemed like every few months within a single year I raised my rates until I finally tipped into the unicorn rate...$500/hour.
"Ooooh, I've made it!", I remember thinking. I was wrong. I hadn't "made it".
Instead, I am sorry to say I lost something very dear to me. I lost my focus on the greater whole.
One of the ways coaches differ from other practitioners (ie. therapists, consultants, etc.) is we're trained to get to the heart of the matter and quickly.
>> Therapists may take months and even years to peel back the layers. It's process driven.
>> Consultants may also take months and even years to implement a system. It's results driven.
>> Coaches take what's in front of them and help their clients use their strengths, their story, and their desires to move forward. This can take months. It can also take days. Sometimes it can take a single conversation.
Because of our efficiency and effectiveness, we are encouraged to charge more money than other practitioners. This doesn't bother me. If we are doing our job well our clients probably shouldn't spend years with us.
One of the biggest questions I hear from coaches is - How can I make enough money and not burn out by over-filling my day with coaching conversations? In other words, "I only have so much time!"
One of the ways we bypass exhaustion is to make more money in less time. We default to high prices to re-balance our potential energy drain on our time...(I know because I did this. I got very good at doing this.)
-- BUT --
This shortcut is short-sighted.
At what point are our prices a deterrent to the work we claim to be so dedicated to?
At what point is our inflated belief in our value moving us away from service and not toward it?
Coaching has quickly become an exclusive industry because the reality is, money is an inhibitor even when we wish it weren't. The average annual income in the US in 2016 was $50,756.
I used to believe that it was not my responsibility where my client's found the money to pay for my services. Which in hindsight is a super convenient way to turn a blind eye to a deeper truth.
And while I do love money and love teaching people how to shift their relationship TO money, money is a limited resource for the majority of U.S. citizens.
For the most part, it is none of my business. But it is my business that my clients feel safe and congruent about spending their money with me no matter the amount.
Working with a coach is an investment of our three core resources - time, energy, and money - and each needs to be spent from a place of being OK. No exceptions.
But as our prices rise, our exclusivity rises. As our exclusivity increases, we are no longer building unity. We are now fueling the very thing most coaches and closeted healers claim to not stand for.
This was my final realization --
If my work is not accessible then I am not congruent with my declaration of bringing more harmony to our world. Inclusive, unified...harmony.
I brought my awareness to a dear friend and fellow master coach, Rachel, who founded the Integrative Wellness Academy. I told her about my revelation but that I also struggle with being too exhausted to take on more clients...so what is the solution?
She gave me a great question --
"How can I have a thriving and successful business while staying true to my purpose of serving others and maintaining accessibility?"
I sat down this month in the wee hours of the morning and had a heart-to-heart with myself. I remembered something a teacher and fellow practitioner shared with me months earlier. She said, "If a therapeutic process is inaccessible to any one person it is ineffective to all people."
This hit me hard then and still does to this day.
See the social worker in me, the one who was trained to advocate for the WHOLE system, still believes in this. If a system that claims to serve humanity is in any shape inaccessible it isn't serving humanity. It isn't a whole system but only part.
And which part of humanity do you serve? I'm sorry to say that when money is our only discernment it's rather obvious who it serves...and it is not the majority.
Why are we so compelled to get more for less? Less time, less effort. And why do I feel like I'm breaking some cardinal rule by not only NOT raising my rates in 2018 but actually lessening them?
My oldest brother is a teacher. He works for an alternative school, a school that opens its doors to kids who don't feel safe, seen, or supported in our public school system. On a recent visit he gave me a tour. I was blown away...
They have classrooms and labs and a library. They have a lunch room and a gym. This isn't what blew me away.
What blew me away is that they also have a room with a shower and a washer and dryer because a fair number of their students are homeless.
And they have a nursery and daycare because a fair number of their students are parents.
Here's why I was so taken back -- we can ignore reality or we can meet it eye-to-eye and heart-to-heart and serve it. As a coach I've been given full permission by my industry to ignore reality but that isn't good enough.
"Charge your worth!"
"People only show up when risk is alive!"
"People will find the money if they value it enough."
"Your rates should make you uncomfortable!"
These are the most common rebuttal to "worth" I hear from my industry. I've even believed them and said them! Probably right here in this space.
I can't go back but I can be honest in moving forward. We always have a chance to re-evaluate where we are and if our values change, that is ok. Let it be ok.
>> I've reintroduced a sliding scale.
>> I've reintroduced scholarship spots.
>> I've introduced an advisory track for clients I've worked with for at least a year.
>> I've introduced a foundation course for new clients.
>> I've relinquished just working with entrepreneurs, leaders, or coaches
>> And I've reduced my 1:1 coaching rates by more than 50%-70%.
Does this mean I'll have to serve more people to make the same income? YES. Think about this...really think about this. When and how did it become a bad thing to serve MORE people?!?! <----Sorry (not really), I am just really passionate about this.
Do I not value myself? Of course I value myself! I value my work and my skillset. I also value my client's livelihood and their financial well-being. I value long-term coaching relationships that unfold over time.
Am I a poor businesswoman? Nope. I love business. I love leveraging my time and systems to keep my income sustainable and my margins healthy. I track my numbers and I track my profit. I also love finding new ways to serve people without maxing out on time like my monthly membership and weekend-long programs.
Ultimately, here's why I'm getting out of this high-price game...
> I value humanity over a business. If my business acumen ever comes at the cost of my integrity or of serving the whole then I am not successful. Maybe I won't be a 6-figure coach next year and maybe I won't ever amass millions but I can tell you this - I sleep very well and have peace of mind.
> This work has to be accessible. Coaching is a wonderful thing to have in your life. It is supportive, playful, and challenging. It has drive and purpose but it's also a space to be seen and to practice things like vulnerability and self-acceptance. As much as I believe in the power of this work I don't believe it should cost you thousands of dollars or in some coaches case the equivalent to a downpayment on a house to get access to a coach or coaching conversations.
> Money is scary enough as it is. Money is easily in the top 3 topics my clients often focus on in our work together. I am not a financial planner or advisor but I am equipped to support my clients untangle their money stories, fears, and generations of money wounds. Hiring a coach or paying to do this work shouldn't be one more experience that triggers your money stuff. It also shouldn't stretch you or your family to such an extent that it causes additional stress or pain.
> If not now, when? The world feels a little uncertain right now. For many of us, 2017 was a trying and confusing year. Doing deep work like this can help us find our center amidst the uncertainty and keep us focused on how we can help ourselves and one another. This work is healing, not just for the one doing it but for everyone in your community you effect. In order to help make that happen my doors need to be more open than ever before -- I need to be more accessible than ever before.
If you've wanted to talk to me, hire me, or just connect with me but haven't because the cost was prohibitive, my door is open now.
There are consistent themes in my industry to "push on," "be passionate," and my personal favorite, "think more powerfully." I don't even know what that means! Does it mean you need to think with more energy? Does it mean you need to move more powerful thoughts through your head? What is a powerful thought?
See, I don't even know. But I do know this: What a load of hooey.
OK, maybe not all of it. I like to be excited, passionate, and even a little powerful in life. It feels good. But the truth is, it only feels good when it's honest and when it's really how you feel.
I'm in the midst of a major life change. My family dynamic is changing, and fast. There's definitely some beauty that's come from it all, the silver lining stuff. But mostly it's been sad and confusing. Not every day or even all day, but I assure you it's there.
"It" meaning the "I wish this were different and better yet not happening at all moments." Before I go much further I'll share this -- choosing to bring really real life to this space is not something I take lightly. I've gone back and forth about whether or not this was "appropriate" or "too gritty," but when a friend told me that -- with this being my outlet to help, but to also be myself -- didn't I owe it to myself to continue bringing my truth here, even if it isn't always packaged prettily?
I decided, yes. Yes, I do owe it to myself.
There are plenty of things I don't share because they are private and personal to my family's process. But this stuff here, the nonsugar-coaching (not a typo) that it is all sweet and good all the time? That's not life, folks! And I am not exempt, industry professional or not. Being human gets the best of us all.
In the unfolding of all that's happened with family, these things were the first to disappear. In fact, this is how I sorted it through the first 8 weeks... #nojudgment
Find strength and make inappropriate jokes
Be strong some more
Pretend I am OK
Realize I am not OK
Laugh at not-funny things
Drink too much coffee, you know, to balance
Cry a little less
Go back to work
Assure everyone I am OK
Drink more wine
Get angry at the rain, cause that helps
Better yet, get angry at the cupboards being left open. More rational?
Surrender... a little
Drink less wine
Make more jokes, this time they're funny
Really go back to work
Just me? I don't think so. We all have our own cycle. I WISH it looked like this:
See the good in it all
Write in my journal
HA! Cute, right? Where was I? Oh yeah...the practices that keep my head on straight.
Now, this is MY list. This might not be your list. It doesn't need to be your list. But can you let it inspire you to make your own list? Because there will come a day when you'll need it and it'll quickly escape you.
After I got through the 25+ steps above I did sit down with my journal and asked for clarity. Who did I ask? Well, whatever wanted to move through my pen. I just wanted some peace of mind. I didn't even want answers. I just wanted some focus.
At first what came through was a laundry list of things like Just be, sleep, stop eating bread, stop pushing, take a bubble bath every day, watch comedies, stop binge watching Grey's Anatomy, pray more, keep your channel more open, make peace with this, make it easier where you can...
I loved all of it and all of it I already knew. And then this came through:
"You're actually in the flow.
It may not always feel awesome or
exactly what you expected.
Your job now is to not resist the flow
or in other words...just be."
I tell clients all the time to just be and I swear I can hear their eyes roll through the phone but this is the first time this advice has landed so clearly for me. That, and it also came through a license plate, a magazine cover, two friends, and my wife (who is usually right, shhh).
My first instinct was to resist (*Insert facepalm emoji*) and then I sort of GOT IT. All this stuff started to pop up that letting go of would feel simply amazing. It would free up some energy and anxiety. It would remind me of what really matters and leave more space for where I really need to be right now.
The things themselves are irrelevant to anyone but me. But I bet you have a list, also. The things that even just thinking about non-resistance brings to mind. Yes, THOSE things. See, you have a list too.
Don't get me wrong. Being in the flow doesn't bring my mom back or take away what's happening for my dad. It can't. But it can make it so much easier to be present for it. So no, it isn't always about thinking more powerfully or being uber passionate. Sometimes it's just about being fully here and being honest with yourself.
My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer almost two years ago. It's been a roller coaster I don't recommend to anyone, although I know far too many women who have been where my family is and who will be where we've been.
This isn't a post about cancer.
This is a post about what cancer cracked open between my mother and me. It's about the truth we seek when lives are at stake and time seems to be running out faster than "normal."
This photo above is her high school senior picture. I look just like her. I love that I look just like her. See, I am one of those women who knows she was not only well-mothered but was very lucky to be so. But it is something I took for granted almost my whole life. Not because I didn't appreciate her, but because when something is always present we don't think about it much.
My mother was always present.
After a year into her diagnosis, the holiday season was upon us. Shopping for gifts for someone who is sick feels odd. All material possessions lose meaning and there's nothing you can purchase that will make everything magically better. Trust me, I looked.
Instead, I gifted my mom a letter writing project. The idea was that I could write her a letter each month asking her about life, asking her for motherly advice that could go down in our history, and to wrap it up in handwritten letters because, in the "day of digital," a handwritten letter's vintage feel lends itself to saving for a rainy day.
We're just now a few months into the project and some unexpected turns with her cancer put the project on hold, but the last letter I received arrived on my birthday. In that letter she not only gave me phenomenal advice, she said the thing I didn't know I needed to hear. I asked her, "How did/do you trust in what life brings your way?" She replied --
"Be patient and steadfast in whatever quest you embark on. You create the life the way you want it to be. So, you're actually trusting in your "self" to make the right/wrong decision, deciding which road to go down and back up from and to believe in yourself to make the right choices for YOU. You always have the option to either act or react to any situation. In your core you know what is right at the right time -- trust in yourself."
Trust in yourself. Three little words with everything I needed to know wrapped up inside of them. The truth is, we don't always trust ourselves. Trust to do the right thing, to speak up, to look within, to stand still, to choose correctly, to let go, to go all in, or to even show up when we're needed most.
On Sunday I will get up in front of a couple hundred men and women and ask them to trust themselves to choose their path and trust that it's the right one in that moment. I will ask them to do good with what they know and to stop waiting for their neighbor to do it for them.
I am asking the same of you right now.
We're in an interesting time, but aren't we always?
Despair, pain, uncertainty, and life's storms are no stranger to the human condition. In the midst of grief these past two years and watching my mom deteriorate I've had moments that I don't want to be human anymore. I don't want to feel the sharpness of losing someone I love so dearly.
But if that were true I wouldn't get to feel the LOVE that leaves room for fear of loss. We don't get one without the other.
What if our humanity is less about solving the world's "problems" and more about finding our ground amidst them?
Some would say that's convenient to stand still, but I argue that there's nothing convenient about standing still and trusting yourself to be firmly planted right where you are. In other words, there's nothing easy about trusting yourself to be brave amongst this human condition.
Every generation will have its battle and every child will grow to see their own fair share of injustice. We all get to move through a fire in our lifetime. This isn't news nor is it new. I am less and less interested in the fire and more interested in our ability to let it transform us.
What gets you fired up?
What do you passionately care about?
What scares you?
What keeps your feet on the ground when certainty is more than an arm's length away?
What allows you to keep your faith when hope just won't suffice?
You are the only one who can answer these questions. You are the only one who can inquire for yourself and trust what you uncover within yourself. And oh how I hope that you do. They aren't convenient questions to seek, but why else are you here?
These were the kinds of questions I was encouraged to ask as a child and as an adult. My mom taught me that you never know until you go in search of what you think you're looking for. And that you don't always know what you'll find but one thing will always be true -- you will always go along for the ride with yourself.
Which makes trusting yourself the most daring part. And a threshold each and every one of us carry inside that can't be crossed by anyone but by our own volition.
That's right -- you have to choose it. It can be frustrating when you're willing to walk through the fire and you see people to your left and right pulling the covers over their head or turning away. Don't let it distract you.
Your job isn't to wait for others to go first. Go. Now.
I wrote this article a few weeks back not knowing the events that would shortly unfold. My mother passed away on October 9th. I was grateful to be by her side and present for the whole thing. This is dedicated to her and to all the mothers who raise brilliant women. Mama, I love you and wouldn't be the woman I am without you. Wherever you are, you are with me always.
I love people. I always have, and I’ve always wanted to help. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been an advocate for the underdog and have compassion for those less fortunate. The older I get, the more I’ve come to realize we’re all underdogs, and we will all have moments of misfortune in our lives.
When I found life coaching I was grateful – giddy, even. See, I was already a two-time counseling school dropout. I will never forget when, just a semester in, our teachers handed us the DSM-IV; a diagnostic manual to “help us” in assessing our clients’ ailments and mental disorders. I quit what felt like the very next day.
This was the first time I admitted to myself that I didn’t want to help people by first assuming they’re sick. When did the spectrum of human emotion and experience quantify people for the therapy couch?
Now, don’t get me wrong. There are absolutely people who need support in this way who are dealing with more than loss, trauma, or transition. I am not dismissing the therapy world, but I did feel like being a therapist wasn’t my path through which to serve others.
Enter life coaching - an industry I couldn’t believe was really an industry at first. I could serve others by helping them to see their strengths, their goodness, and how to actualize their dreams. I could work from anywhere in the world and charge more than the average therapist. It felt like a dream come true. My first day of life coach training I knew I was in the right place; I could feel that this was the path for me to finally help others.
I was enchanted by how fast the industry was growing and wanted to be at the top, within the top 1% of coaches. This meant I needed to make more than $100,000 per year, because as I quickly discovered, the one measurement most coaches use for quantifiable success is their bank account. And I was no different.
Over the next 7 years I quickly climbed the ladder, working with fewer and fewer clients, charging more and more money. I was making six figures, had a waiting list of clients, and was being sought out for speaking gigs and teaching. This is what so many coaches work so hard for, and I was no exception. I felt like I was at the top of my game.
The coaching industry grossed over $1 billion worldwide in 2016 and is now the “fastest growing industry next to tech” according to the ICF’s global coaching study. I had drunk the Kool-Aid. I wanted my piece of this billion-dollar pie.
But at what cost?
Life coaching, despite its popularity and mega growth, is an unregulated industry. This means there’s no federal- or state-appointed board to keep an eye on things. There are organizations, such as the International Coach Federation, that attempt to implement standards through accredited coach programs and required continued education, but there is nothing “official.”
Quite frankly, there is not even a slap on the wrist for hanging your coaching shingle and charging the big bucks, and many coaches have done just this. What I found from the inside is that many of the highest paid coaches in the world are not certified, some of the most enrolled coaching programs are not accredited, and the overall standard for “good coaching” is quite low.
The faster the industry grows, the more it seems to leave plenty of room for low accountability, unethical practice, and lack of professionalism. Great coaches are being looked over for coaches with bold tag lines, and even bolder sales tactics.
Guess what? People are starting to notice. We are getting a bit of a reputation, and I'm not surprised. Coaching has become a one-stop shop for pyramid schemes, sales funnels, upselling, and “over-promise/under-deliver” outcomes.
What was one little coach to do? Well, leave, obviously.
I thought it was my time to move on, but really what I wanted was to no longer be associated with coaching - which made me sad, because I love coaching. I love what I know is possible and what I think being a coach still stands for.
But here's why I am so irked: we seem to be suffering more. And with all the brilliant solutions available, as pointed out in perfectly poised sales letters and funnels, we should all be buying our way to happiness with ease. So then, what gives?
Well, transformation cannot be sold on a website, or alluded to in a clever and colorful sales page.
Transformation is gritty and doesn't come dressed up in flowery photos of people frolicking through fields with beautifully scripted quotes that say something like, "Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain."
We're totally missing the point.
This work is gritty. I am all for dressing it up just a tad so you feel slightly better about cracking some of your most vulnerable stories wide open, but don't be fooled - once they are cracked open, anything goes. No cute quote or meme can ease the reality (good and bad) of seeking your truth from the inside out.
As we move from the "Age of Information" to the "Age of Authenticity," we need to update our approach to this thing called self-development. As Rich Roll so brilliantly shared on his podcast when he interviewed Danielle LaPorte:
"Efforts to divine truth from bullshit render imperfect results. Anxiety ensues. To cope, we double down on improving upon our self-improvement until we wake up one day and realize what began as a laudable quest for growth has suddenly become an obsessive malignancy — a sort of spiritual eating disorder gnawing away on our very soul."
Thank you, Rich, for capturing what I am trying to say.
An obsessive malignancy...yuck. And yet, he's right. Transformation is the new organic. But instead of overdoing the kale smoothies, paleo-anything, and pretending like raw cacao tastes like your favorite chocolate bar, we're macro-dosing on all things self-improvement.
It's no longer about going to see the "head doctor." Now it's about every variety of coaching, energy healing, astrology, back-up astrology, oracle cards, past-life regression, retreats from retreats, burning sage, stuffing stones in your pocket, and, if you're like me, consuming books like they will be taken away.
To be fair, I have done everything I've listed above. I applaud the intention here to improve, to grow, and be more, and I support it. We've shifted from trying to function to wanting to thrive. But are we?
Self-development being trendy is great for business, but is it great for humanity? And what is the balance? I am afraid that we've sucked all the purpose out of these practices and we're drowning in shallow waters. There's nothing shallow about deep work, but how do you know you're diving in and not skimming the surface?
I know the direction of this article sounds like I will land on some awesome singular truth and give you a few "steps" for truly doing the work. But that would be no different. Because there are no steps.
I think we've defaulted to step-making, program creation, and yes, the perfectly scripted coaching sales page, because the truth is: if we didn't bedazzle the hard stuff, would any of us consume it?
Would we really take the raw action required to practice things like compassion, self-love, forgiveness, and joy? Would we willingly trek through our roots and untangle habits, generational wounds, stories, and strategies that are actually harming us? I don't know if we would.
Once you get on your path to radical self-discovery, that pretty meme and flowery quote on your Pinterest page no longer holds any function or meaning. You will see how diluted it is and how it disregards the ache of healing. It means well. All of my fellow change-leaders mean well. We want you to do the work and we want to invite you in with ease, because know it won't all be easeful.
But would it be okay to use the truth as the invitation? To say, "Your shadow has much to teach you, and when you're in the thick of it, it won't feel that way. It will feel like you're failing and it's winning, like you're broken and can't beat this shadow. And then with a little grace, you'll invite in some light. Although the light can't take away the pain, it can reveal to you its purpose. In that moment, you will find compassion for yourself and for all humanity."
So here I was, on the brink of leaving it all behind, and my gut was screaming at me to take a second look at this. To not be so hasty and to slow down. To return to my roots - and if in the stillness of my heart coaching didn't ring true, then I could move on. But if in that stillness I remembered my fondness for this art, then I was not only to stay, but to stay with purpose.
See, here's the thing. I am a really good coach. Not just because I've read a few books or lived through some experiences, but because I've dedicated myself to my craft.
I've graduated from two coaching schools, one accredited by the ICF. For almost 10 years I've coached more than 250 clients and over 1,800 coaching hours. I've spent more than 300 hours in the classroom learning how to do what I do. I know a thing or two about great coaching because I've been the worst coach...and I've worked diligently to be a master coach. Why aren’t more of us at the table? The coaching industry feels like a speeding train, and I feel powerless to stop it. The truth is, I don’t really have the answer. Except I can do one thing: I can choose to show up - and for my fellow coaches, you can choose to do the same.
Choose to dedicate yourself to your craft, not just the business of your craft.
Choose to spend time with mentors and in the classroom, and choose to represent what I believe is still good and right about our industry. Maybe we can’t change our industry, but we can give our clients real insight into what good coaching actually looks and feels like. Because the world doesn't need more coaches, it needs great ones.
This article won’t go out for a couple weeks, but I am currently writing it from a bumpy bus seat as I commute back and forth for my family. Although this is a pretty tenuous time in my family’s lives I do my best to keep some things private. It’s important for the sake of my family’s privacy but also because the details are only important to those involved.
The lessons, however, are the very basis on which I practice my work and model possibility for those who choose to lean into me once in awhile.
It’s amazing how much perspective is available when the unplanned and unwanted things in life come our way - how trivial problems evaporate, how gratitude and grace land right at your feet, and how much space for BS shrinks. Well, I would say I am in the thick of it all.
There’s nowhere to be but right where you are. Even when you wish to be somewhere else. This reminder is the sweetest offering anyone could ever give you.
As a business owner I tread that line between appreciating what I’ve built, keeping it moving, and planning for what’s to come and sometimes I wonder if that planning for what’s to come gets in the way of what is actually here?
I wanted to post something on Instagram in the midst of it all but didn’t because I felt like no one actually wants to see or hear the truth, they merely want to doll it up and parade it around as self-propaganda. I am no exception. I do this too. We all do this. But for what purpose?
What good is promoting a beautiful life if you can’t feel your feet on the ground when life goes amiss - and I assure you it will go very amiss.
What good is doing the work if when it counts most, you can’t access a space inside yourself that actually feels like home and like it can all be OK?
I realize these questions are a bit rhetorical, but they're necessary. Every life experience is a doorway to something, but it doesn’t mean you always want to walk through it, and this is OK.
Sometimes we walk through with one hand covering our eyes. Sometimes we walk through glacially to get a grip on whatever is happening on the other side. And sometimes we downright refuse and slam the door shut - forgetting that we carry the door inside ourselves.
We carry the door inside ourselves.
What does it mean to practice faith when it matters the most? In my line of work we talk about faith with an air of obviousness, like you just grab hold of it when you need a little. But faith isn’t a luxury or even a lifeline. When it really matters it’s more of a plea.
I believe it goes hand in hand with surrendering to the moment, and that can be the scariest experience of all. It’s admitting you don’t know what’s to come and you can’t control what’s to come, but maybe in the midst of it all you can conjure up just a tad bit of hope that it will be just as it needs to be. No matter how painful or inconvenient that is.
As I sit with my family right now I am struck by how little I can actually do. How little we can ever really do, when we want to the most. And how OK that is. It isn’t a blind acceptance of what’s unfolding and it isn’t a passive surrender to the chaos. But the sooner I surrender to the fact that life will continue to unfold the way it always has, the sooner I can be with what IS instead of what I wish could be.
This is all I ever want for my fellow human peeps. To be. I know that sounds so simple and maybe naively so it is. But so much of what we struggle with is anticipated or already gone.
We have this gift with every moment. The people who are right here, now. The opportunity that is right here, right now. And the dream that is in your mind, right now. Stay with that awhile even if it means slowing down or even stillness - because in the stillness there is so much truth.
More truth than most of us can sometimes bear, so I understand wanting to rush through it all, numb out, take radical action, or move quickly. But what is possible if you didn’t? What is possible if you let the slow present be exactly what it is?
Personally, I can breathe more deeply and appreciate more fiercely. I can see what’s actually there, and instead of rushing to sugar coat it or glam it up for social media, I see what really matters like never before. And in THAT moment all there really is, is grace.
A ton of beautiful, compassionate, patient, grace.
Recently, my biz coach asked me what my fellow change agents had in common. It took only seconds before I started listing the things I see in my clients and students as well as the things I've experienced firsthand. The fear, doubt, excitement, ease, and then more fear...
In my experience, we all go through some variation of the following:
- Disbelief that what we think is possible will actually happen
- Hope that can sometimes feel naive or like we're missing something
- An overwhelming sense of "imposter syndrome"
- If we fully go after our dream or vision we'll lose something meaningful in the process
- No one will ever pay us to do what we love
- If we reveal our fear people will walk away or not hire us
- Everyone has it more "figured out" than me
- Questions like: Am I making this too hard? Am I missing something? Has this been done before? Who is going to come along for this ride? And my personal favorite, what the f*$k am I doing?
I say favorite because it rings in my head almost every day - "What the f*$k am I doing?" What if my vision doesn't work? What if my belief that I have so much faith and conviction for steers me wayyyy off course? What if I'm actually not the one for this job? What if the other shoe drops and it all just dries up?
This is the part where I am supposed to switch gears and tell you that of course, it will work out! But I can't. Because your dream working out is not up to me. It's up to you.
Only you can decide if what you're aimed at, fighting for, and believe in is worth all of the above. And the sooner you decide this, the sooner you can roll your sleeves up and get to work.
Somewhere in the spring, I turned my back on my purpose. OK, that sounds a bit dramatic, but looking back it's how I feel about it. I feel like I got ahead of myself and tried to steer the ship. But what happened was the ocean dried up. Metaphorically speaking :)
I took space because I needed it and truthfully because I wanted it. But I didn't account for the world going on without me. And it will. The world will keep turning and evolving because that's what it does. If you aren't heeding your call, someone else will. It isn't because you don't deserve it or because you aren't "the one"; it's because we are our calling's stewards. And if you stop listening it moves on to the next steward.
Your calling has insight, creativity and a soul all its own. Sometimes I think my calling is simply using me because it is! Well, I took space and also turned off my call button. I stopped being the work.
And what happened next honestly surprised me: I got bored. Like, really bored.
I could feel myself on the outside looking in and it didn't feel so good. My momentum stopped because I stopped stoking the fire. I stopped showing up in the way I know I can. But in the moment it just felt like a funk, and I thought maybe I was just reacting to something. It never occurred to me that the universe really is following my lead...
It's following yours, too.
When I was finally ready to admit that I was done sitting on the sidelines I ate whole humble pies, washed them down, and called my coaches. Yes, plural.
One reminded me that we all need a pause even in the midst of the big game of our life to get reconnected to our mission and restore the energy to make it happen. The second reminded me that I was too good to sit on the sidelines but that I also can't confuse conviction with importance. Thanks, coaches.
And then I cried. A lot. And kept crying for weeks. And it felt so freakin' good. I cried about losing my purpose, about getting too full of myself, about being bored, I even cried about thinking I had it all figured out. What I did was release. Release. Release. And I remembered this potent truth that gets me out of bed every single morning:
I believe in people. I wholeheartedly believe in their ability to do good, love, and heal. I have a deep belief in the spiritual potential of humanity and I won't quit until every single human being inherently understands their true value and worth.
Something tells me you feel the same way. In your own words, what gets you out of bed in the morning? What keeps you going when you have the question of, "What the f*$k am I doing?" buzzing around in your head?
If you need to pull over once in awhile and take a little rest, do. Maybe everything won't stop like it did for me, or maybe you'll reconnect to the deeper truth of why you risk yourself spiritually to fight for your vision. It isn't even about the world needing you. It's about YOU needing you and it's about YOU coming fully alive. I believe that for everyone this is the real mission. The rest are merely details.
But when you do connect with your vision, stoke your conviction, worship your belief in what's possible, and keep going...well I guess we'll find out, won't we?
I like the number 33. A double number just feels like good luck. I've compiled a year's worth of life lessons in honor of my 33rd birthday. You can read last year's lessons here. I am struck by something I wrote last year, something I don't remember writing and am so glad I did...
"I wish for all people to have their entire life be their entire awakening. To get out of their own way and go for it. To answer their calling and turn their art into their purpose and to give their gift back to the world. Maybe this is a selfish want. But it's my birthday and this is what I want."
Well, I still want this ;) But something I learned this year is to not attach to whether this actually happens. And with that, onto my lessons...
I learned that I can want so much for others, perhaps too much, but I have zero say over what actually happens out there in the world and we'd all be fools to think we do beyond our own being.
I learned that success cannot be measured by our riches alone. That in business it can be so easy to assume success is best measured by your bank account, but what about the richness in a community, in how well you serve others, and in how well you treat yourself?
I learned that expansion is inevitable and that I will never arrive. As Abraham says, "You can not get it wrong and you can not get it done." Every new thought is a new creation, which creates more contrast, which creates a new thought, and on it goes.
I learned that sometimes good people make poor choices. And it's important to keep their humanity in mind because even a seemingly poor choice has a reason. Even if you don't know what it is or can't understand it, I assure you that it exists.
I learned that we can not get it wrong and we will never get it done. Every new idea brings new expansion, new expansion creates more contrast and even chaos, which creates more ideas...and so the cycle goes.
I learned that no one has it figured out. <--- period
I learned that I want to live at the beach. It may not happen soon but it is happening and someday I will spend the majority of my days overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
I learned that everyone's path is sacred. That comparison is a one-way ticket to pain and that we have to love others' paths as fiercely as we love our own.
I re-learned that human beings are magical, weird, silly, full of it, powerful, prideful, scared and full of potential. You don't always know what you'll see when you look at humanity, which is why I also learned that the very best place to start and end is with yourself.
I learned that my home matters. What I wear is important to me. And that I love rosé.
I re-learned that it's important to spend time with the people who matter. It really isn't what you know but who, and the "who" I'm referring to are those that are near and dear to me. The people whom I love very much, who have seen me wayyyyyy up and wayyyyy down and their affection for me never wavered. To these people, THANK YOU. I couldn't do what I do without you.
I need to repeat this: it isn't actually up to us how things turn out, and our obsession with what we have, what we don't have, what we're missing, and what we're striving for is a big old distraction. You already are everything you could possibly be at this very moment and so to be awesomer...you simply be.
My clients are visionaries; they have these mega ideas not about how the world does work but about how it could work. To the outside world, they look like dreamers who live in fantasyland - people who are attempting the impossible with no real account for what “real life” requires. You know, work-hard kind of stuff.
To the outside world, my dreamers are banking on some concoction of faith, belief, and blind luck. But here’s what the outsiders don’t know about what my dreamers know. These visionaries know that they’re playing a game. That we all are. And the game is not meant for you to succeed or fail. It’s simply meant to be played.
So they are playing.
They are using their inner guidance and gut to follow their path of least resistance. To serve, seek, and find their joy in their dreams. And the successful dreamers know that we all have two options in life, and that one will yield significantly better results than the other. Can you guess which one?
Option A) They can use higher guidance to fulfill their goals.
Option B) They can allow themselves to be guided to fulfill their role in the unfolding of their life.
Dreamers succeed because they are following an inner dream, not an outer dream. They are on their path of least resistance and they know that there is no failure, because success is inevitable. This is what we call a calling.
It's an inner call that beckons you toward some great unknown that you can’t see but you can feel. And you can feel when you’re on the path toward your calling and when you’re on a path that’s taking you away from your calling. My purpose seekers understand this quote...
“No matter how hard a surfer works, the ocean is doing most of the heavy lifting. Because, the operant power behind any force of nature, is nature itself.”
– Inside Out Revolution
I want to introduce you to a client. Her name is Jessica and she is a force to be reckoned with. The fist time I met Jessica, we met for an innocent happy hour. I knew right away that this was a woman with a purpose and a powerful path to fulfill. But the woman who sat across from me didn’t quite get this. She was playing small.
Now, I don’t mean she was doubtful of herself or that she wasn’t amassing a big following. I mean that she wasn’t living to the fullest extent of her path or allowing it to unfold from within.
The day she hired me I looked at her and said, “You are meant for big things. And I believe in a bigger vision for you, and I think you can feel that.” She looked at me and said, “I’ve felt this but no one has ever seen it in me also.”
Jessica is the founder of the Superwoman Project and has launched the first annual Superwoman Summit. All of this unfolded from within when she surrendered to her intuition and trusted that her vision wasn’t some crazy idyllic ideology or pipedream, but something she felt deeply called to fulfill. It had been there all along.
She chose Option B.
Before, when she was trying to make her work happen and "effort" her way there, she was attempting to convince herself that this calling was, in fact, tapping her directly on the shoulder. She tried with all her might to do anything but this expression of her work. Because it felt BIG, but in truth, it was also the path of least resistance.
In other words, she let the waves work their magic. And all she had to do was put her surfboard in the water and surf. All she had to do was let her intuition in the driver's seat and play.
It doesn't make sense to fight so hard, work so hard, or push so hard for what you already have. Quiet the mind for a moment and listen. Park your doubts for what you hear. Suspend your judgments of yourself for thinking you're incapable of this feat. Don't try to be the ocean and the surfboard. It isn't your job.
Your job is to fulfill your dreams, not from "out here" but in here. Your crazy, visionary, idyllic dream. Because - and this I can guarantee - if you can feel it, then the world needs it.
Over the weekend I got to visit my coach who has four legs. His name is Kett and he’s a horse. The sun was out, a near impossible feat for a Portland spring day, so we worked in the outdoor ring. The ring was lined with grass and it seemed all Kett wanted to do was eat.
My intention for this particular session was to tap into a gnawing I can’t escape and for once, I don’t want to. This gnawing that my work is about to pivot, again, but this time toward a more central truth I’ve been blatantly ignoring for more than four years.
That I (gulp) work with entrepreneurs.
Now for some of you, this is obvious and right now you are confused why I seem to be the only one who wasn't aware of this. But, alas, I wasn’t.
Yes, I am aware that I have an entire weekend immersion twice per year dedicated to this group.
Yes, I am aware that I have launched a year-long training to teach transformation to this group. And still, I’ve been doing the avoidance dance since I opened my private practice in 2010.
My primary reason for this is not that interesting and reveals something deeper about my personality – because everyone seems to work with entrepreneurs, I wanted nothing to do with it...
So here I am, working with my four-legged coach who just wants to eat grass and I can’t grab his attention. I am in the middle of this round pen and I say to my coach, “This is kind of perfect. He’s on the perimeter and I don’t know how to get his attention. Much like these visionary entrepreneur's, I am finally ready to acknowledge I love working with. They are distracted...”
The perimeter represents all the things we do to not do our real work. We measure things, we base our results on income, we stretch ourselves by trying to be everywhere but in our own hearts and minds. In short, we hang out on the perimeter and eat grass. Because it’s good at the moment and because we’ve been told it’s how to succeed in our work.
But what if there were an alternative?
Back to this book, The Three Waves of Volunteers and the New Earth. This book is about three waves of lightworkers sent here by the source to help our work heal from within. Sounds like sci-fi, right? It’s non-fiction.
The first wave included figures like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. They were focused on sending light into oppression and cultivating non-violence.
The second wave included the dawn of the metaphysical world, figures like Dr. Wayne Dyer, Marianne Williamson, and Deepak Chopra. They were focused on making the soul visible and have paved the way for the third wave.
Now, this is where things get interesting. The third wave was a tipping point of lightworkers. They are no longer contained to movements of non-violence and the woo-woo conferences. Now they are on Twitter and in your local bookshop writing and speaking about healing and the great awakening as though it were as easy to play a role in as using the #optout.
It's a trend that is trendy because it’s a paradigm shifter.
The third wave isn't comprised of your grandmother’s healers holing up in the vortexes of Sedona. Nope. They are also (gulp) entrepreneurs.
The third wave of healers that will shift how we think, work, love, act, and activate are the very people trending on Instagram and are using conscious commerce to spread something more than consumerism – they are spreading harmony.
Not all entrepreneurs. But for those of you who want to activate more harmony, peace, possibility, fulfillment, and purpose in your fellow human beings through your work then I have a request for you.
Get off the perimeter and stop eating grass.
Come play in the center of the ring where you can look up and see the sky. Where you can play and move and act with ease and magic. But a shift like this requires that you see the possibility of activating a kind of depth in your work you’ve only glimpsed in states of flow.
What if this were the norm? What if your day was a constant state of flow interrupted mildly by email and social media? What if instead of playing with the numbers, conversions, and results you played with the source of your soulful success? (YOU.)
What if your day were only about:
Intuiting your path
Playing with possibility
Deep stretches of time for thinking, reflecting, and attracting
Aligning and being energetically congruent
Focus on the few things that literally matter
To pursue and seek purpose and fulfillment
Being in nature.
And yes, getting off the perimeter.
When I got clear about this I decided that no matter what Kett wanted to do, I wanted to play and dance in the area. So I did. And then, this is the magical part: Kett followed and wanted to play, too.
So, do you want to play?
This photo was taken after a pretty epic but impromptu dance party at Awaken Your Practice just a couple weeks ago. My coach and fellow Awaken teacher decided to play a little game with us which evolved into a ridiculous dance fest which turned into epic laughter and of course, joy.
After we all cooled off and got the giggles out, he sat us down for a teaching on Divine Play and reminded us that business (and I would add LIFE) doesn't need to be so serious. And he's right. Instead, he invited us to write our own rules. This was just one of many incredible moments during the weekend.
This immersion continues to surprise me and blow me away. I will share some testimonials shortly but for now, I am soaking it all up. Because Awaken Your Practice was just me writing my own rules and inviting people along for the ride.
I shared at the Awaken weekend how I had been getting a massage, just lying there on the table getting some yummy self-care when the idea literally appeared in my mind. Out of nowhere. Or I should say, "nowhere." I could feel it brewing for awhile and on that particular day, I was ready to hear it.
I remember spending the next morning pouring ideas into my journal about bringing coaches and entrepreneurs together and doing something radically different - not teaching tools but teaching truth. Not giving them more information but more intuition. It seemed like the most obvious thing to do and yet it would require that I wrote my own rules.
I have the right to write a book.
I have the right to teach others.
I am worth sharing my ideas with the world.
I have my own permission to teach about energy, intention, vision, and the purpose of business in this new economy.
I can bring the right people together at the right time.
I can be valuable to my own special brand of magic.
And so on they went. Before I knew it I was talking about this immersion with no "sales page" and nothing to show for it but some conviction that wouldn't seem to leave me alone.
Then I was enrolling people for the first immersion last fall before the book was fully formed. I rented a space. I invited teachers to join me. And bam...6 months after that massage I found myself in my first Awaken Your Practice weekend.
Two weeks ago was the second time I taught this and it blew me away. This thing that I had intuited was fully formed and ready to go, it just needed me to write the rules for myself so I could show up and play full out on its behalf. And next month I begin enrolling for the third one. THIRD.
What rules do you need to write for yourself so that you can bring your ideas to life? Even more important - what rules are you currently following that are keeping you from bringing your ideas to life? No matter if I am coaching a visionary entrepreneur, a c-suite leader, or a mixed group of people I see the following 5 rules show up the most...
- The world defines my value for me.
- I am too small to make a big difference.
- I am waiting to be given permission.
- It has to be hard to be worth it.
- Others' needs come first.
No matter your title, you are human, first. And as a human, you are subject to your beliefs. Your beliefs are those bold absolute statements you have created to make sense of your life and the world. We are meaning-making machines -- this means we need to make sense of things. All things. I think this quote sums it up beautifully:
"BELIEFS ARE AN ASSUMPTION ABOUT THE NATURE OF REALITY."
One year ago I stopped looking outside of myself for answers and I stopped listening to "marketing experts," "Facebook gurus," and "high-end coaches" and got very still. I listened to my heart by opening up a dialogue through my journal. Call it a portal, call it a channel, call it woo-woo, I don't care.
It didn't bring life to my business -- it brought my business TO life. I wrote my own rules for success. And I did so unapologetically.
I invite you to write new rules and erase some old ones. Beliefs are subjective and they're yours. So you may as well make them your bitch. Or something like that :)
Believe it or not, not everyone hears their calling. Some hear it in faint whispers, some in assertive nudges, some have no idea what a calling is, some have been hearing it their whole life and never engaged with it...and then there are the rare ones. The ones who hear it, turn toward it and let it crack them open. They are the "crazy" ones.
If you look up the word crazy, you'll see: 1) Mentally deranged in a wild way or 2) Extremely enthusiastic. This sounds about right. To hear your calling, answer it, and let it guide you may appear nuts from the outside.
A calling is often irrational, and will pull you in the exact opposite direction you are living your life. It will ask you to question what you think is real and it will most certainly beckon you to defend it when things go awry, which they will. Because your calling is, after all, already part of you.
And once you pay it any attention, watch out. That calling will only get louder, more obnoxious, more irritating, and show up everywhere. What is it exactly? I don't know. Not in any tangible sense. I can't point to it or bottle it up. You can't order yours online from Amazon.com and you can't have it overnighted when you're ready to deal with it. So why is it so imperative that you answer this thing I can't point to?
Why else do you think you're here? You're not just taking up space, you know. Your calling won't be easy or pain-free. It will ask you to uncover anything and everything you've spent your life burying deep down or numbing out. Your calling can feel like a shock or a wake-up call. Either way, it isn't exactly subtle.
So much of what passes for spirituality today is about positivity, happiness, and affirmation for more positivity or happiness which ignores an entire half of life. It is in the contrast of pain that we learn compassion. Sometimes we need to be uncomfortable; to come up against our discomfort is to enter a new landscape with so much access to our deeper truth and deeper contribution. Your calling is the path to this.
I know, with this lovely description is it any wonder you aren't running out to actualize your calling this very moment? But here's the thing - what alternative do you have? What's a life without meaning? Without feeling like you really matter? What happens to those who ignore their calling, deny their calling, or pretend it isn't real? Again, I don't know.
Before I answered my calling, there was life with motion but it didn't move me. My calling has moved me to engage with life like an artist who is painting and being painted at the same time. Above all else, I feel liberated. Liberated to create and be created, the most sacred act.
Your calling is your reminder why you're here. Why did you choose this life? Why did you choose this family or this home? Why did you choose these circumstances or these moments of pain?
A calling isn't some place you arrive; it's the pathway to take you back to yourself, your whole self. So no, it can't leave you alone once acknowledged because once made aware, your calling is like receiving your orders from the universe. Until then, we're really just buying time.
Believe it or not, ignoring your calling is more painful than letting it in. And once in, it's best to let go. It's like letting a dam crack open. The sheer force will run its course -- let it. Whatever it takes down was not very strong to begin with. And as that water churns and washes over the landscape of your life you'll wake up. You'll fully wake up and there will come a day and you'll say, "Oh. I get it now." And you'll get back to creating your life. Your simple, meaningful, call-filled life.
This is a photo from my Instagram. I posted it on January 20th. I was being cheeky and not at the same time. There is a disturbance in the force. Even if you've never seen a single Star Wars movie, I have a feeling you know this quote...and it seems pretty applicable given our current climate.
A disturbance in the force means there's an imbalance; things are out of harmony. You don't have to look far to see this. Just look at our declining rainforests and the current endangered animals list. For being such conscious beings, we don't respect others very much -- whether this "other" is a tree or a human. WTF?
And then we ask such blatant questions like -- how are we going to solve this? What are we really in danger of losing? How will we fix our current state of poverty, homelessness, racism, hunger, etc? And what is it we're really aiming to solve? Do we even know?
Sometimes the "it" is so big we lump it into one word. For example, hunger. Like this word can possibly contain all the complications and needs of the people who fundamentally don't have enough to eat on a daily basis.
I'll never forget (and stop me if you've heard this story) one of my infamous discussions with my dad about life.
He asked me, "How come, if we can feed everyone, we don't?"
I replied, "Because we don't have a resource problem. We have a heart problem."
And therein lies our dilemma. How do we, especially those of us who live in the United States, open our hearts when our culture has taught us to independently rise? What is one to do when we're encouraged to be true to ourselves and climb the ladder -- even if it means stepping over someone on the way up?
Then, when you get to the top, you are genuinely confused why there aren't more of you up there. Do people just not want it bad enough? Are people not motivated? Are they just not as much of a go-getter as I am?
On January 20th, 2017 we swore in the 45th president of the United States of America. He is a president that has no doubt stirred the pot. He isn't the disturbance in the force. He's a byproduct of it.
On January 21st, 2017 more than 5 million people from 55 global cities and every state in the union gathered for one of the most peaceful demonstrations to date as an answer to this president. Or at least in hopes of starting a new conversation.
I keep thinking that this is a movie. That I can turn it off, sigh some relief and go to bed knowing it wasn't real. But it is real. And it certainly falls in line with this global ascension we just entered the ring with.
All the right characters are here:
The Hero: You (the protagonist)
The Villain: The anti-you or everything that invokes anger in you (the antagonist)
The Theme: Can we create harmony?
The Climax: What will ultimately be tested on our way back to the middle?
The Payoff: (We don't know yet...)
But I can't turn this off! It's here. So what now? We have a major antagonist. Which means we also have a protagonist. Hesitant but present.
Here's the thing. When I ask you toward the end of this article to step into the light, know that you can't do so by eradicating the dark. It's still dark. It just has light shining on it. Where there's a shadow we have light, and where we have light we have a shadow.
We need to redefine what it means to solve "this." Harmony is not all light and it is not all dark. It is both/and.
Since the election, I've found myself wondering if this all happened because we needed a grandiose call to adventure. Every hero has one. You've had many in this lifetime alone, some of which you've probably answered. This time it's different. I can't help but feel like this time it affects us all.
How will we know when we've moved toward harmony? I'm not sure yet, because it doesn't seem to be human nature to move this way even within the self. So this is where we begin: because in the self is the only place your radical awareness can shift the planet. If nothing else, you can resolve the parts of you that are not in harmony -- and won't that feel more whole? Imagine 7 billion people who feel whole.
- My Invocation to be the light -
(Repeat to yourself out loud or write it in your journal)
That which I hate in you, I hate in me.
That which I love in you, I love in me.
I choose to love what I hate.
I choose to be what I love.
I choose to close the gap between "you" and "me" because the gap is in my mind.
When you fall, I fall.
When I fall, you fall.
We forgive one another.
Only through acceptance can we find the middle.
I choose to practice this love with my words, my thoughts, my intentions, and my actions all the days of my life.
And so it is.