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This piece was written in October 2009, and documents my transition from part-time to full-time coaching.
From the first time I ever went to Cafe Gratitude, I really fell in love with the place. I love that they ask a question of the day when you come in; I love the atmosphere. I even love the food, though I no longer subscribe myself to a raw foods lifestyle.
On my most recent visit, I indulged in a book I’d noticed on several occasions and had wanted, but had been holding back from: Sacred Commerce: Business as a Path of Awakening.
Stepping out on my own with my own business, I wanted to see what they shared about their model/philosophy. There is so much that I am finding to be tender about stepping out there as a business person. I’ve noticed how a lot of my defaults are stepping out these days–defaults of doing, doing, doing, trying to fit in one more thing in a desperate effort of feeling in control by doing.
It is at these times that I am reminded that what I work on with clients, what I want to share with the e-course, with all of it, is that this is a practice. It’s not “finished” at some point. Life is always bringing in new challenges to look at and turn over. The practice becomes noticing and choosing what I want to think about those challenges–are they burdens, or opportunities?–and then going with a certain course of action.
Although the book is really designed to be for business owners who have employees, I am finding that I can use whatever they say about an employee as a model for how I would treat myself.
And I really loved the authenticity that I found here, because basically the #1 problem I’ve had with every job I’ve ever worked is that I was supposed to put aside who I was in service to something else, usually with an expectation of showing up in a fake way in order to be “of service.”
“The traditional model of wage-employment is one in which alienated employees force themselves to suppress their beckoning stream of personal anxieties, obsessions, and desires long enough to do the work for which they are receiving a wage. This often leads to customers receiving service that is not really service, but rather acquiescence to the necessity of the worker to earn a wage by minimally fulfilling the needs of the customer. The customer almost always senses this perfunctory level of interaction, which lowers the level for everyone, giving the customer the devastating impression that they are not really cared for; rather, they are on the receiving end of a kind of prostitution.” — from Sacred Commerce by Matthew and Terces Engelhart
So what we need to endeavour to give to ourselves is this same space for our “personal anxieties, obsessions, and desires.” Inspiration can go–very quickly, if not monitored–into overdrive mode.
Before I know it, the day is gone and my wrist is hurting from being on the computer and I’m going, “Whaaaat…?”
Any time you notice a lack of abundance, one of the first places to look where you might be grasping, holding on tight, not allowing something to breathe. If it’s a lack of abundance with friendships–where am I placing expectations on others? If it’s lack of abundance with money–where am I tight, constricted, not fully breathing around money? If it’s lack of abundance with time–where am I most likely to start chanting in the back of my head, “I don’t have time, I don’t have time, I don’t have time”?
One of the first things that “rights” us again is the experience of stepping straight into giving.
Give my friend space to be where she needs to be.
Give away money or treat someone to something.
Give myself more time by canceling something or arranging to arrive later than planned.
This isn’t so simple as it sounds–it is a choice to step into living this way. Of course I have my judgments about how people “should” spend their time or the money “should” be coming to me or how I “should” be better at arranging my schedule.
The choice becomes noticing the “shoulds” and not buying in.
“This is the true joy in life. The being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. The being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole of the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me; it is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.” –George Bernard Shaw
This was written in October 2009, and documents my transition from part-time to full-time coaching.
This is my first post with the brand new YourCourageousLife.com website.
I don’t even know how to start this entry. For reals. I’m sort of laughing at myself because I feel almost…I dunno, shy to explain all that I’ve been up to the past few weeks. Like I’m going to show you some part of myself that is really hopeful, and that likes being so hopeful and wants to hold that for just a little bit longer before I open it up and put it out there–the possibility that in fact, you’ll think it’s ridiculous.
Or that you’ll love it and yet it still just won’t work.
All of those inner critic fears rise to the surface at these moments, and it’s only the strength I’ve cultivated and that I will choose to stand in that keeps me typing. This it what it means to live a courageous life. That’s what I know.
I could start in so many, many different areas. I guess I’ll start by saying that I feel very vulnerable about all of it, and this is the thing I am most reluctant to admit to anyone–so this must be the best place to start. When all else fails: tell the truth!
Well first, the URL change–which is actually the last thing to change in a series of changing events, but since you’re here, I’ll start here. I’ve had the domain name selftaughtgirl.com for many years. When I bought it, I had this idea in my head that it was a fitting name because I was, in so many ways, “self taught.” I carried with me a story that whatever I had achieved in my life, I had done by my own good graces and with a lot of grit and determination to surmount any obstacle or challenge that might arise.
And it’s funny, because after the past few weeks of working harder than I can ever remember working in my life, on something that means a lot to me, it hit me just less than a week ago that in fact, I was never “self taught.” I was never alone. Where in the world did I get that idea? When I think back, I think of so many helping hands or moments of grace where something unfolded in just the way that I needed it to unfold. The idea that I was alone and creating my own path without collaboration or help was just a story. Thus, I purchased a URL that I think more accurately expresses what I really believe myself to be about.
Then rewind, to go back further…
I keep trying to feel my way to remembering “where this story began.” Where did this chapter begin?
I’m still not sure. I can say that this most recent trip to Italy changed me in big ways. The realization that I want to become a mother changed me in big ways. I have been actively stretching myself into a new space ever since.
And then a few weeks ago, as part of doing Mondo Beyondo, as part of the growing realization that I wasn’t feeling fulfilled by teaching any longer and that I was no longer getting the gifts I’d hoped to get, I started looking around and asking myself what I really wanted to shift in my life. I’d felt so good in Italy, so whole. The weeks after my return from Italy were also full of that goodness and wholeness and then when school began again, the balance slowly began to waiver and totter–then bam!–back to feeling pressed. The headaches began.
If there is one thing I always told myself growing up, it was that I would not work a job just for the money. I watched as both of my parents worked jobs that they massively resented in order to put food on the table. I have always been determined not to do that to myself. As I’ve become an adult myself, I’ve learned that part of the work is to work on myself–that unhappy people are unhappy in jobs everywhere, regardless of what the job was.
Now, I generally consider myself to be a pretty aware, “with it” person around what is true/resonates for me, but somehow I had just completely missed that I was not happy with teaching and that I craved something different. When I asked myself what I craved, the answer was just sitting right there, with no real work: I want to fully step into being a Life Coach. I’ve done it for the past three years, I love doing it, and I want to do more of it. Also, I want to lead retreats. And finally, I want to actually put together that e-course I’ve been kicking around ideas with for the past few years.
But right on the heels of that admission came this: but you can’t do that you can’t quit teaching you can’t give up the security what about the money what about the job what about the security in this economy are you crazy that’s ridiculous you have a sick relative who needs support teaching isn’t that bad so just shut up and deal with it.
And I feel very fortunate that I had that reaction and it happened during a moment of clarity, because had it happened at some other point, I’m not sure I would have “heard” it. When I heard myself in this way, loud and clear, I went: “What? Excuse me, what? That is not me.”
But of course, it was me. I sat there and let it sink in that what I wanted to do was let go of my job as a teacher and fully step into being a different kind of teacher. I just let that sink…in…that this was what I really, really wanted. I watched as that run-together voice of fear came back.
I began to cry, because now I have enough experience that I heard that run-together fearful voice the way I would hear it if I were holding space as a Life Coach for a client. I cried with compassion for all the times I’ve heard that voice in my clients, and I cried with fear, knowing that now I knew what I wanted to do and there was nothing to hide behind. I knew that I would be out of integrity with myself if I stayed in a job that was not fulfilling me fully, even if there are many parts of it that are wonderful, just because I was afraid of the “what about the money” part.
I had a friend once who had dated a guy for a bit. He seemed pretty nice. We were IM’ing one day and she mentioned that she had broken up with him. I asked her why, because she’d never expressed any truly serious, deep issues with him, and she replied–and I can see the Instant Message clear as day–“Because I was only 75% happy, and I wasn’t willing to settle for 75%.”
And I thought: WOW. I admired it. Some might read that kind of statement as narcissism. I read it as a declaration to the world that is about living big, and being unafraid to do so.
The entire weekend before I gave my leave of absence from teaching, I was sick to my stomach. I felt as if I’d swallowed rocks. I woke up in the middle of the night with my stomach in agony. I was terrified to do it. And then, that Monday, I typed out my letter and headed in to campus and knocked on my Chair’s door, spoke with her briefly without getting into too much drama-laden detail, she was completely supportive, and then I left.
I felt lighter, having done it. I manifested, I read books about wishing. Then, I buckled down and got to work.
I had known that my old coaching website felt sadly outdated for awhile. That was what I worked on, first. I give you:
and then I began working on the e-course. I have known for awhile that I wanted to do an e-course, something that got more in-depth than many of the e-courses I’ve seen (and that is not to knock them–I think that they look lovely and sound like a lot of fun, and Mondo Beyondo was a wonderful experience for me). Having worked as a Coach these past few years, I’ve arrived at a place where I combine a lot of magical thinking and play in my work with the nuts and bolts tools and making powerful choices. I’ve wanted to make a course that did that for some time.
So with all of these notions of courage, you might notice a theme. That word–courageous–has carried me farther than anything in my life. It is this word that I realized, as I was thinking about the domain selftaughtgirl.com, was really responsible for whatever I have created.
I define courage as feeling the fear, diving it anyway, transforming. Whatever I have achieved in my life has not been because I was alone and “self taught,” it has been the result of tremendous courage and the helping hands of so many beautiful souls and experiences.
The past few weeks, I’ve been working as if I had two jobs. Teaching, teaching, teaching, coaching, coaching, coaching. I sense a huge shift in the very way that I’m setting all of this up, as compared to any of my other freelance endeavors. The other things I was setting up were things that I could do in my spare time.
I am setting this up as the sole focus of my work. This has involved new bank accounts, setting up a meeting with a financial consultant, meeting and starting to work on marketing (very scary).
Also, lots of telling the truth–admitting again and again that I feel afraid, admitting again and again that my hope is that this leave of absence is in fact permanent and that I make a true transition to a new career, the one my heart has been yearning for ever since I left graduate school, really (I read an article at the career development office about a woman who had become a Life Coach, and something in my heart said “I want to do that” but it was another few years before I would act).
And with all of these very scary steps, I am learning in a bigger and deeper way what courage really is, and what it means to live this courageous life.
I had had no idea that I was so afraid until that moment when it all sort of descended. Then there was the lightness of letting go and the past few weeks there has been the stress of trying to build something–and I have had many, many frustrated moments where I’ve suddenly asked myself, “What the hell am I doing? Am I crazy? Do I even want to do this?” (Note to self: they usually happen when I am Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. Or sitting in front of the computer for far too long, trying to get oooooonnnneeee more thing done because I was so excited about this 10/01/09 launch date).
And now, after all that, I feel more of a sense of just being along for the ride, and being curious, and being willing to see what is on the other side of the fear. I have wished, I have worked hard, I have hoped and I have had fear, and now I release it into the world, the way I would open my palm to let a small bird fly.
~ with so much gratitude ~
“The adventure you’re ready for is the one you get.” –Joseph Campbell
Too many of us are “flying solo” in our lives. We shy away from collaboration and the vulnerability inherent in that, because it’s scary to act otherwise.
Collaboration can be disappointing.
Collaboration can be frustrating.
Collaboration has resulted in people criticizing my ideas.
Collaboration has sometimes been full of betrayals or dishonesty.
Collaboration is a fearful place!
In my own life, a pattern emerged from childhood and beyond: after seeing people flake or drop the ball, and feeling disappointed, I pulled back and flew solo.
And after seeing people act in ways that were really frustrating, I pulled back and flew solo.
And after hearing criticism, both well-delivered but hard to hear as well as unfounded and incredibly mean-spirited, I pulled back and flew solo.
After a few instances where people said one thing but thought another (and, painfully, combined that with “behind the back” talk), it became easier to just do my own thing, stick with the person I knew I could trust (me) and fly solo.
We were never meant to do all of this, alone. This is an interconnected and interdependent world. It might be the most vulnerable thing you ever do, choosing out of doing it all on your own.
It’ll also be the most worth it.
Click to tweet: Choose out of flying solo; it’s the courageous thing to do.