Celebrating Milestones

As women we tend to be so busy working our way through the to-do list that we don’t take the time to stop and celebrate. Then we wonder why we’re so exhausted and feeling unappreciated. Go figure.

Do you take time to celebrate milestones and accomplishments? Or, do you just let them pass by with barely a breath before you’re onto the next thing?

This week I happen to be celebrating a personal milestone – my partner and I have been together for 20 years – no small potatoes! And it got me to thinking about taking time to celebrate in general.

I used to always be so focused on the next thing on the list, getting more, and achieving more that I would actually dismiss what I had accomplished and what was right in front of me. I would literally pooh pooh away whatever accomplishments I had. I never felt good enough. Somehow, someway, I thought if I got better (at whatever I was pursuing) that then I would be worthy and it would validate my existence. Then and only then would I feel good enough, like I “arrived”, like I mattered. You can imagine the death spiral this created inside of me, right?

It’s worse than a glass half empty. It’s a glass half empty with a hole in the bottom.

You know what? It’s something you can never fill from the outside…

You can appear to be dizzyingly busy and line up metaphorical (and actual) trophies on a shelf, but it’ll never fill that hole.

There came a time in my journey when I first did some personal transformation work and things changed. (This work would end up being a huge catalyst not only for my personal life but for me starting my business.) At one point I was literally asked to make a list of accomplishments. Everything I had accomplished in my life up to that point and and ongoing daily list of accomplishments (personal acknowledgments if you will). What a foreign concept, right?

celebrating achievements
Credit Image: pepemczolz via Flickr
Here’s what I learned through that initially awkward exercise. I had accomplished quite a bit. In the absence of comparison to this person or that person, there was a sense of pride, progress, and meaning. In the absence of striving I could actually enjoy the journey and realize more of what I wanted. Seems contradictory but its not. [Read more…]

Stepping Out of Time

Last week I had the opportunity to take a new adventure to a tiny island.  I had no idea what to expect other than that it would be quiet and free of all the trappings of day-to-day life (technology for instance).  I’ve been a fan of islands, having visited a few in my time. Monhegan Island in Maine being closest to my heart.

What I received was a chance to disconnect and so much more.

Smith Island Ferry, Captain Jason II

Smith Island Ferry, Captain Jason II

To give you some context, Tylerton, MD is part of Smith Island and is located 13 miles off the Eastern Shore of Maryland between the Tangier Sound and the Chesapeake Bay. It consists of less than ½ square mile of land and there are no vehicles on Tylerton.  A non-vehicular ferry (basically a 45 foot boat) services the island daily.  (Occasional choppy, exhilarating passages come at no extra fee too!)

We stayed at the Inn of Silent Music, which is an idyllic gem in this town anchored by a Methodist church and fueled by the life of the watermen. This space and the incredible hospitality of hosts Rob and Linda Kellogg (who inspire me greatly I might add) makes this one of our top 5 inn experiences ever.

Inn of Silent Music

Inn of Silent Music

So, what made this trip and place so special?

The opportunity to not just disconnect, but step out of time.  As you know I am a huge fan of disconnecting regularly. It is the only way to avoid burnout as an entrepreneur and frankly if you’re not disconnecting, you can’t hear the whispers of your intuition. Without your intuition (an integral part of Intuitive Intelligence®, right?) you’re not navigating your life and business with a fully working compass.

The 3 days we spent on Tylerton felt like stepping out of time as time stood still as perspective and possibility expanded in front of my eyes and inside my heart.  This type of expansion and perspective is not the type of thing you can DIY or get at home.

Let me explain… [Read more…]

Independence Day: Surrender & Liberate Yourself

Five years ago today was one of those seminal life changing moments for me. I surrendered completely and was blessed with a powerful and clear sign even though I had no idea what to do with it.

It was Independence Day 2007 and I was vacationing on Monhegan Island, Maine. A place that time forgot: where the silence is loud and the pace is S L O W. At this point I had already dug through the muck of my soul as part of the catalyst of my journey from self-loathing to self-love. I had my epiphany that I was ready for the path of self-employment and had started the journey of building my own business while I was still working my day job. Problem was that I couldn’t get over that hump. I felt stuck in that limbo between getting started and taking the leap. I didn’t know how to make the decision to leave my day job for the unknown. I though that a gradual exit was my only “responsible” way to make the transition. Yet, every time I attempted to move to a part-time role at my company the doors were slammed in my face. Not just closed but slammed in a “we do this for other people but can’t do this for you blah blah blah” sort of way. I applied for part-time positions but didn’t get them. I pleaded for a job-share with someone on my team who wanted to do the same thing. No dice (of course that same person was granted a job-share just months after I asked). Here I was receiving very strong guidance from my soul that I was meant to move into my own business and yet every step I took toward that end left me disappointed, confused, and at a dead end. I was at my wit’s end.

So, I went on my vacation as planned hoping some grand message would fall from the sky and point me in the right direction. The more I paddled, camped, and enjoyed the silence, the clearer I became that I wanted to design my career in a way that enabled me to live the kind of life I really wanted to live. I wanted freedom, flexibility, and the chance to live out my calling and purpose now, not “someday…maybe, later”.

But HOW?? How could I do that?

Surrender to Take the Leap & Start a Business

Credit Image: seagull in flight via Shutterstock

No amount of thinking, scheming, or intellectualizing seemed to get me any closer to an answer.

So one foggy day while hiking on the island, I simply perched myself atop a cliff known as Whitehead and asked the empty space before me. I literally surrendered to whatever higher power there is (God, Buddha, Universe, etc.) and asked – “What lesson are you trying to teach me? I’m totally out of ideas, so what step do you want me to take next?”

The answer came very clear. In one of those moments writers yearn for my pen sped across the pages of my journal and without need to be edited a short verse that tells it all was born. I entitled it “Independence Day or is it Liberation Day?”. You can read the inspired verse and photo here. It is one of the many inspirations that lit the fire for me to complete my first published book as well.

So what happened? I’d like to say that I immediately knew what to do. I didn’t. I felt awestruck by the poetic and clear message but thought – ok what the heck does that mean in the real world?!

Oh but the mystery wasn’t over yet. This was just a commercial break.

I returned to my day job only a few days later. On my second day back to work (while my Dad was off having heart surgery on top of it), I got laid off and lost my job in a reorganization with no reduction in headcount (yeah, I know wrap your head around that math). Instead of panicking though, at the moment I was told the news, I immediately saw the seagull from my day on the cliffs and KNEW. I knew deep in my soul and to the bottom of my toes that this was part of the plan. That this was going to be one of the best things that happened to me even if I had no idea what to do next.

So the lesson I learned that day was one of surrender. Trusting what I now call Intuitive Intelligence® and getting very clear that there is no way we could ever possibly mastermind the most important moments and choices in our lives or careers. It is the letting go that leads to liberation and true independence.

This post originally appeared on BlogHer.

 

Shed – Sift – Savor

Each year tends to have a theme in my life and business.  A guiding principle that wraps around the twelve-month container of a year like a blanket and informs everything I do.  I’d love to say that I am always clear on this theme by the strike of midnight on New Year’s Eve so that I go dancing into the upcoming year with a mantra that fits into a neat box, but that is rarely the case. Sometimes it emerges before the turn of the calendar and sometimes not until well after. Sometimes it is crystal clear and often it is a cloudy vision. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that it shows itself and brings focus and clarity to the path forward.

Shed - Sift - SavorThis year’s theme came as a gift in early February and it has changed the tone of every day and every choice.  It’s one of THOSE powerful moments.   It’s a three-part theme of SHED –  SIFT –  SAVOR.  A dear friend of mine was so kind to even create me some artwork to represent this for me.  Aren’t they awesome?

 

Let’s look at what each one means.

Shed

This is all about releasing what does not serve me.  It is about growth. It is simplification at its best.  As a snake sheds its skin during its next phase of evolution, so am I.

What’s really powerful about this is that nothing is sacred. Absolutely nothing is immune from the decision to shed.  That means that I have been actively letting go of:

  • Relationships – personal and professional.
  • Business systems, offerings, habits, support, expenses, tasks, and associations.
  • Beliefs and subconscious patterns that have repeatedly held me back.
  • Physical stuff – you name it, it may hit the donate or ditch it pile.
  • Commitments that no longer jazz me.
  • Anything else not listed that feels like it needs to go because it is weighing me down, taking up physical, emotional, or psychic space, or simply doesn’t make me feel wow.

Ask yourself: What do I need to shed this year?

Sift

This is like putting everything through a flour sifter. When I make the butter cookies my mother always loved, all the dry ingredients go through a sifter before mixing. This refines what is there into an even higher quality state. There’s nothing extraneous.  It’s like cookie alchemy.

For me I have heightened my discernment about everything.  A level of consideration, reflection, and authentic connection about what comes in to my world (advice, put in/on my body, thoughts, ideas, actions) and what I choose to do with it.  There have been times in my life where I’ve felt like someone else must know more or know better about what was right for me than my own inner compass.  I experienced that in my corporate career, my personal life, and when building my business.  At times it has taken me a little off course and at other times it sent me on a lengthy detour.

This year it is about going back to the core of who I am, what I offer, what I want, and how I want to show up.  I have wise guides and council supporting me along my way (I learned long ago not to try and figure it all out myself and be a lone ranger) but absolutely everything goes through the sifter.  What is useful and refines me, my vision, my business, my life – stays, what doesn’t falls away.

Ask yourself: In what instances have I given my power away to someone else (or the tapes playing in my head) rather than trust my intuitive guidance?

Savor

Shed - Sift - SavorLife is meant to be enjoyed. Now. Today. Not later.  I learned more than once that if I am not rejoicing in the journey, I am missing it.  I’ve said on more than one occasion that building a business is a distance run.  It’s not a six months to freedom, bon-bons, and a  jackpot of money.  At times over the last five years (that’s right, the five-year full-time in my business anniversary is just around the corner!) I’ve lost sight of the here and now in pursuit of the “when I arrive there, then I can ____.”  Yes even with the worst of all wake up calls in the loss of my mom, there have been stretches where I lost sight of today because I was too busy waiting for tomorrow or saving up for the “big stuff” (vacation, time away, holiday, weekend, whatever…).

No longer. This year has been like a Buddhist meditation of noticing what is here right now.  Certainly this doesn’t mean I’ve stopped working on my business, doing chores, or getting things done.  Just the opposite in fact.  I’ve been more productive. But as the Buddhist quote says:

 “Before enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.  After enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.”

The same holds true for success in life and business.

What this means is that my partner and I have instituted some fun walkabouts where we just enjoy local things to do, extra time in nature, or even just a mid-afternoon movie on the couch.  I pop out my camera for a few hours like I would if I were on vacation knowing there is always an interesting perspective to capture. I’ve expanded my garden because I want to bear witness to the miniscule changes that lead to great rewards (and occasional loss with the theft of my greens by the rabbits).

While those are just a few examples, it drives home the fact that nothing really has to change in your life or mine in order to savor this moment and what already is right in front of and within you.

Ask yourself:  Am I savoring this moment, this meal, what is here right now or am I gazing off at some distant goal or dream hoping one day I can enjoy it?

My journey continues to unfold and I know the last few months are just the beginning of a new evolution.  So for the moment I am going to enjoy right now AND keep my future vision in sight.

 

Take Personal Responsibility – The 10 Principles of Intuitive Intelligence

Today we continue the series of videos on The 10 Principles of Intuitive Intelligence.

If you’re not experiencing what you want – results, feelings, opportunities, success – there’s only one person who can change that. YOU. Only you can commit to and follow through with your deepest promises to yourself. Learn how you can know if you’re caught in a common trap and why taking personal responsibility is the key is the key to getting unstuck.

How to Prioritize When Everything is a Priority

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