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No doubt you’ve heard the saying that when you point the finger at someone else, there are three others pointing back at you. May I tell you how much I hated that adage?
I far preferred to place the blame on anyone but moi. Me, wrong? Can’t be!
I was fueled by self-righteousness and perfectionism. It’s a great smokescreen for insecurity and feeling ‘less than.’ If I could place the blame squarely on anyone else, I could remain on my perch as the hero or the victim, but never the architect of misjudgment or wrongdoing.
Last Friday I was unable to log onto the dashboard I use for administering my monthly call to my Soul Proprietor Community. I entered the usual URL for the conference line, but kept getting an error message. I remembered that my VA had requested my new credit card number for the May billing cycle. But it didn’t even occur to me to stir up anger at her, because even if she hadn’t gotten to that task yet, it wouldn’t have remedied the situation at hand in that moment.
I couldn’t start the recording as I normally would have, so thought quickly and explained to the group that I would offer the session a second time and record it then. I proceeded to conduct the rest of the call without benefit of the muting option, but it went smoothly nonetheless.
Two very cool things happened. One–the recorder went on automatically unbeknownst to me so the call did get recorded (perfectly, btw), and I did not need to duplicate the effort. The second was this message from a participant:
I learned a wonderful lesson today on our conference call. There were some technical mishaps with recording and sound feedback. If I had been in Jane ‘s shoes I would have gone nuts. However, it was so refreshing and eye opening to see how Jane handled the situation. As a participant I found that her attitude did not cause stress to me (the client/guest) and in fact made me find humor and humanness.
I’m about to get on the phone with my assistant,(who had paid the monthly fee for me) and navigate how to NOT have this happen in the future. I’m very grateful that I didn’t blame her for something she didn’t do to relieve my anxiety in the moment. Relationship and sanity saved.
I’ve just begun listening to My Beloved World by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and am already enthralled. I wanted to share a quote from the preface that I believe will engage you and make you want to read this volume as well:
The idea of my becoming a Supreme Court Justice–which, indeed, as a goal would inevitably elude the vast majority of aspirants–never occurred to me except as the remotest of fantasies. But experience has taught me that you cannot value dreams according to the odds of their coming true. Their real value is in stirring within us the will to aspire [bolding and emphasis are mine]…And after a time you may recognize that the proper measure of success is not how much you’ve closed the distance to some far-off goal but the quality of what you’ve done today.
When I recently coached a group of artists and inquired about their goals, one at a time I probed them for the value, the ‘thing’ that would create the ‘will to aspire.’ It was exhilarating to be a part of this exercise, asking questions, noticing the responses and digging deeper for that big wish–the large format camera, the light-filled studio space, the time to focus just on jewelry-making–that would fuel the artistic process.
Once that stirring is identified and acknowledged, the next steps become self-evident and the day’s quality is being fulfilled.
I concluded my Soul Proprietor Community call on Friday by giving the group the homework assignment to read (or listen to) the legendary Acres of Diamonds story first popularized by Russell Conwell a hundred years ago.
Every time I hear that true account, I’m re-invigorated to look at the gifts currently in my life and work harder to develop those rather than seeking unknown treasures which may be far afield. One year my mantra was “Mine what you have.”
Before I could send the links to my assistant to post on our private Community Facebook page, I received an email message with the subject: Acres of Diamonds – Reclaiming an Old Idea. If you read this linked story, you’ll see the immediate re-inforcement I received within 24 hours of my session that underscored the message I want to share.
“What an amazing coincidence!” I marveled. Until I had my “Doh!” moment when I realized I had to submit my email address to download the link for the pdf version.
You know, though, that even the simulation of a sign created the identical feeling in my body that it would have had it actually appeared in my inbox unsolicited. Our minds are that powerful. I’m choosing to stick with the positive, elated and uplifting sensation I felt in that moment–as a sign that I’m moving in the right direction–rather than dismiss it as a function of an auto-responder spewing out a message. As always, we get to choose our responses to everything.
My Remarkable Women’s Network Come As You’ll Be event in Westport last week was a real hit. I want to acknowledge the dozens of courageous women who attended, in costume, for taking a look into the unknown and staking a claim for themselves.
As attendees experienced in their small group sharing, the success they seek is not that remote, and that talking about it, describing the steps it will take to get there and trying their imagined success on for size–the proverbial acting as if–is a powerful exercise in self-actualization.
I should know. I came dressed as Mos-ette–the leader of the Lifestyle Entrepreneurship movement. Just mentioning my intention to a colleague earlier that day was exciting. She immediately said she’d follow me. Easy!
Here are the 10 Commandments for my movement:
1. Thou shalt love the work you do.
2. Create your own definition of success.
3. Thou shalt not compare.
4. Honor thy heart and thy gut.
5. Thou shalt practice gratitude daily.
6. Remember to rest.
7. Allow the Universe to manifest.
8. Be aware of signs along the way.
9. Not every day is a winner.
10. Remember what it was like to work for someone else.
Jessica Bram, who years ago imagined and manifested the vision to create a writing haven, hosted this evening at the Westport Writers Workshop. She talked about other visions which had come to fruition: writing and getting her book published and, on the personal side, getting married.
We had a number of best-selling authors attend including Sandy Weiner the author of the soon-to-be-released (in her vision) Eyes Wide Open, Legs Firmly Shut A woman’s guide to dating smarter the second time around.
There was also a magazine cover ‘girl’–Andrea Deinstadt of Organizing Wisdom who had envisioned herself (in blue) on the cover of a regional publication alongside one of my entrepreneurial heroes, Eileen Fisher. I had the good fortune to ride on the coat tails of a similar visionary, Betsy Krobot, who created a mock-up of herself on the cover of Westport Magazine several years ago, only to appear on the actual cover in June 2007 with two other women business owners. This stuff works!
I dare you to try it.
My move to NYC has vaguely resembled my first birth experience.
Before my eldest was born, I threw myself into a study of pregnancy, the birth process and breastfeeding via reading, enrolling in Lamaze classes and attending La Leche League meetings. I was thoroughly prepared, having equipped myself with knowledge about fetal development, breathing techniques to ease labor pains, and learning how to have the baby latch on for nursing.
What I had completely overlooked was actually having a baby in my life.
It all worked out, as anyone who knows Lindsey or my other wonderful kids, Robert and Laura, can attest. But that moment of recognition, after all the planning and preparation for the birth experience, was something of a rude awakening. Wait a second here! I thought I’d already done all the work.
That was simply setting the stage for the greatest experience of my life.
Now here I am in NYC, in my humble opinion, the greatest city in the world. I was always drawn to Manhattan having grown up in White Plains, attending Columbia Teachers College, then living in a commuter town 50 miles away for the last 40 years. Time and circumstances have paved the way for this great move.
For the past several months I’ve focused on winding down my life in CT, getting rid of my leased car, packing up my apartment and making the actual move. All of this took time, energy and concentration.
I’ve landed. I love my apartment. I’ve met a lot of really terrific people. I know how to get around. I’ve mastered seamless.com.
The funny timing thing here is that next week I’m hosting my final Remarkable Women’s Network event in Connecticut, and it’s entitled Come As You’ll Be. I’m giving my friends, colleagues and clients permission (aka challenging them), to dream ahead five years, to dress accordingly as the success they can imagine and to speak that night only from the perspective of 2017 and all they have achieved.
And I haven’t a clue as to who I’ll be or even what I want to achieve.
This is the very first time in my memory that I can state this. I’ve always been 100% goal driven, defined and clear. Until this move to NYC, which was a long-held vision now come to fruition. Just like delivering the baby…now what?
Fortunately, I have a path to take.
I’ll do what I instruct my clients to do–create a new vision. My first step is to give myself time and space and some very cool magazines to work with. It’s one of those things that I’ll know when I see it. Flipping through the pages of travel, lifestyle and home magazines will offer images that touch my heart and make me say, “Yes. I want that!”
I may not know how to achieve getting that, but seeing it in front of me is always Step 1. I have my assignment cut out for me. I’m going to hit the magazine reading room of the NYC library which I recently joined, gather a stack of juicy periodicals and enjoy the process.
I also have a strategically timed call with my coach later today, which I know will help me hear what’s deep in my heart.
By next Monday, December 3, I will have a new vision for my future, will dress accordingly, and will act as if–the same thing I’m asking my attendees to do.
There’s enormous power in this process. I’m going to take my own advice and live into it. Please join me then and see who I show up as. I’m as curious to know as you may be.
Addendum – I started this post this morning before going to the library. I had to take this photo (above) as I entered the NYPL–God giving me a wink of encouragement as I entered the library. I knew the Universe would be with me on this. It always is.
The Enterprising Women conference I spoke at on Wednesday was inspiring from the get-go. Lynn Robinson, pictured here, was the opening keynote speaker. She addressed the topic of using intuition in business in a way that underscored every belief I’ve ever had and put an exclamation point on it.
Lynn’s talk, Trusting Your Gut–How the Power of Intuition Can Grow Your Business, took the audience through the paces of opening up to and trusting what she calls your ‘inner consultant’–your intuition. The steps Lynn talked about, with memorable stories to illustrate each point (buy her book!) include:
- Setting intentions
- Focusing on the WHAT, not the HOW
- Catching negative thoughts
- Practicing positive self-talk
- Asking your intuition
The most important thing I heard Lynn say was this: that just because we are intuitive and are guided by signs from within, that doesn’t mean that we automatically move from success to success. There may be long periods of drought, indecision, difficulty and disappointment in the process. But ultimately, if you are being guided by your inner knowing, your intuition will not fail you.
I had the good fortune to have dinner with Lynn the night before the event. We’re good pals from our NSA-New England Chapter days, and this was a perfect opportunity to re-connect and catch up. I got a preview of some of her stories and want to share one that was the most incredible and delicious. You’ll see what I mean.
Lynn had been chewing on a particularly difficult challenge in her business and was at her wits’ end. (You can read a more in-depth version here.) Although not a Christian, the phrase kept coming to her, “I want to see the hand of God. I want to see the hand of God on my life.” Over and over, those same words. She was sobbing, wracked with pain over this turning point in her career and didn’t know where to look next. She was looking for reassurance from on high to stay the course.
Her loving husband valiantly stepped in to comfort her. He knew that ice cream often did the trick and offered to take her for a sundae. Lynn kept crying and repeating her desire to see the hand of God on her life, even as they drove to the ice cream parlor. “I just want to see God’s hand on my life.”
She ordered her sundae, wiped away her tears when it arrived, and noticed her sign. There it was, quite creatively writ on a scoop of vanilla ice cream. She continued on the course she was on and never looked back. How sweet is that?
I love watching a conversion.
In the first module of my webinar series I talk about creating a vision for your business/life. I offer two methods for doing that–a vision board or a written statement. This week I had the opportunity to review visions with one of my webinar participants, Sandy Lovell.
Sandy has been very successful in her career and was in a transitional phase when she signed on for my class. I could tell from our conversations that she was holding herself back, not dreaming big enough. During this week’s Q+A session, she admitted to having begun, but not completed, the vision board assignment. I counter-offered, and Sandy said she was willing to write a vision statement instead which included outrageous, stretch goals and desires.
As we talked on the phone, I suggested a weekly massage as part of her self-care regimen in her vision. She simply laughed at the preposterousness of the idea. Although it felt too indulgent, she promised to add it to her written vision.
Sandy joined in again on the next Q+A call and immediately opened the conversation with, “You won’t believe this! I did what you said. Wrote the vision statement, and in today’s email, I received a groupon deal for a massage. I signed up. How did that happen?!”
It’s The Secret in action, the law of attraction. That you bring into your life what you think about. Writing it down and cutting and pasting pictures of your desires hastens the process and directs the universe–and your attention–towards your particular longings.
Tomorrow I leave for an envisioned vacation. I’m traveling to the Caribbean for a cruise – Holistic Holiday at Sea. Years ago my table mate at EWN told me that every six weeks she takes a week off. I made a mental note of that ambitious and luxurious goal and am beginning my own manifestation of it. I was a guest presenter at a spa in Mexico in December, now vacationing in the tropics in March. Not quite six weeks, but wonderfully in the right direction.
I’ll be out to sea for a week. No phone. No email. Nothing but the ocean, nature and R+R. I highly recommend your following my lead as often as possible.
I had the honor of opening the 2012 season for the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s meeting this week with my talk on Creating Your Own Future. It’s a goal-setting session with lots of interactivity. After asking participants to dream big, I had them break down their dream into a manageable next step. Then I asked for volunteers to share what they’d written.
Debbie Blumencranz of Kitchens By Deane raised her hand to share her deep desire to pass the NCIDQ exam which would change her status to ASID - American Society of Interior Designers. She’s currently an Allied member and wants that elite distinction on her business card.
I asked if anyone in the audience had achieved that hard-won designation. Two rows in front of Debbie a hand went up. Terry Scarborough turned her chair around, faced Debbie and offered to give her some tips on taking the exam.
At the same moment, the two of them burst out laughing. I asked what was so funny. “Terry sits next to me at the office. I never knew she had that designation.”
Terry said, “I had no idea Debbie was studying for the exam.”
It was a precious moment, and the rest of the crowd had their mouths hanging open (figuratively). In my experience leading goal-setting workshops, this happens all the time. We think that our hopes and dreams are totally unique and that not one other soul could possibly comprehend how precious this thing is to us. Then, when we put it out there, the Universe provides willing helpers to guide our way.
Here’s a challenge for you this January: Share a goal or longing with someone you know and trust and notice what happens. Please share the results with me.
On my drive from Tucson, where the retreat was held en route to the airport in Phoenix, I saw a spectacular rainbow–in Arizona! Over the desert. Not what you’d expect. That pretty much sums up my fabulous experience at Miraval with 100+ MORE readers plus the magazine’s editorial staff and publisher. To say it exceeded my expectations would be an understatement.
The facility is magnificent–a resort built at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains–with lavish accommodations and multiple athletic, spa and spiritual offerings to please any patron. But the true value of my experience began during the Meet the Editors welcome the first evening there. I sat in the front row and was immediately extended a warm welcome by the woman seated to my right, Natalie Caine.
Within two minutes it was clear that I was in the right place. I’m going to speak at Rancho La Puerta next month, and Natalie had just returned from her own speaking engagement there. Now, really. What are the chances of that serendipitous alignment of stars?! We became fast friends and had breakfast together daily.
The highlight of Day 2 was participating in the Equine Experience where I was well instructed on how to groom a horse including getting him to lift his hooves for me to clean. After that I was taught how to have my horse go from a walk to a trot and change directions in the ring simply by directing my energy core towards his and setting my intention. I’ve got the pictures to prove that I was able to accomplish this amazing feat. Amazing to me, anyway.
Throughout these experiences and meals I kept meeting remarkable women from all over the US. Conversations were spontaneous and quickly intimate, which I loved.
When I got back to the ‘main campus’ after the horse experience, one of the women I’d met in that group spotted a jeweler, Marybeth Johnson, she’d previously encountered who was exhibiting her work in the Miraval shop.I was immediately drawn not only to the beauty and spirituality of this woman’s pieces, but also to her gentle and loving energy. We had a couple of wonderful conversations, as I had already walked the path she was currently on and could lend some thoughts and advice for her journey. She was a receptive audience, and we became fast friends.
My original intention for going to this long weekend event was to meet Barbara Bigford whom I’d written about after she’d been featured in MORE. Her story is truly inspirational, and what I admired most about Barbara, who shared her story at lunch on Friday–”From Idea to Barcode”– is her willingness to go to any lengths for her business in a low-key, tenacious and graceful way. She shared her wild success, but also her steep learning curve and mistakes made along the way. Employed as a dental hygienist before becoming a business mogul, you can imagine how inspiring her story was.
The day after her talk, Barbara and I met up for a morning walk and talk about retirement co-sponsored by MORE and Wells Fargo. We hiked the grounds of the resort, then assembled by a bonfire to hear about financial planning and share our concerns with the Deputy Editor of MORE whose focus is personal finance and work–Jennifer Braunschweiger.
I could go on… It was filling, inspiring, nurturing, fun and important. Join me next year!
Never have truer words been spoken! On Friday, July 8 at 4:09pm, my daughter Lindsey gave birth to Chloe Elizabeth, her and Evan’s first child, my first grandchild.
All other accomplishments fall by the wayside. Birth is a miracle, and being a witness (metaphorically, not in the delivery room) to this wondrous process is a gift beyond imagination.
This child comes from an increasingly long line of women business owners. My mother created Fete Accompli, a party-planning business back in the 60′s. Grandma Jane (I told Lindsey and Evan that I wanted to be called Lady Gaga, but evidently, that’s already been taken) has been entrepreneurial since 1980 (1970 if you count when I sold my first pieces of artwork for dollars from strangers) and Lindsey who is the owner of lindseypollak.com.
I’m sure other family members look to this somewhat blank canvas and project their hopes and dreams there as well. What I do know is that she will become who she is and have her own journey to get there. She could not have asked for two more loving parents to guide her way.
I ask your blessings and good wishes for this precious gift.