The High Price of Fear

When we are stuck in reaction, we cannot thoughtfully act. When we are stuck in fear, we cannot love. When we are stuck in pain, we cannot forgive. When we are stuck in a mindset of righteous indig…

Source: The High Price of Fear

Shedding Skin

Sometimes we have to shed our old skin.

Because it is outworn.

Because it no longer fits.

Because we need to keep growing.

Only we resist it…

We resist it because for a while, the process of shedding the old will require us to feel naked and vulnerable (and none of us like to feel that way for long).

We resist it because the known, however outworn, outdated or ill-fitting it may be, breeds a certain comfort of familiarity.

We resist it because shedding our old skin requires immense Faith in that which is still unseen and unknown.

Growth and change, by anybody’s standards, are hard.

Testing.

Trying.

Painful.

Scary.

Hard.

But necessary…

Necessary, when we find our inner lives out of alignment with our outer actions.

Necessary, when though we may not fully be able to define it, we intuitively know our true gifts and talents can better serve others elsewhere.

Necessary, if we are to make room for the new in order to reach the places we are trying to go.

Not someplace ‘out there’.

But the place within….

Our heart place.

Our heart space.

I’m curious… 

Have you ever found yourself needing to shed your old ‘skin’ to make room for something new?  Did you fight the process, or surrender to the unknown?  Have you ever stayed too long in an old ‘skin’ because it was safe and familiar, even if painful?  What risks have you taken to live from your heart space?

Courage


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I’m curious…

What does courage look like to you?

The Space In Between

In the weeks leading up to the recent launch of a personal initiative I’ve spent years preparing for and months developing, I found myself standing in that awkward space in between.  You know the one. It’s the no man’s land between advancement and retreat; between pushing forward and playing to win, or playing it safe, if only to assuage our fears of losing.  An internal battle between heart and ego; between being liberated and stuck; I seesawed between moments of hope, encouragement and possibility, and moments of fear that most surely would rather see me wither, withdraw and fail.

Photo courtesy of Oklanica via Flickr

Photo courtesy of Oklanica via Flickr

In a moment of honest reflection, I find this battle ironic, relevant and remarkable.  Ironic, because this new initiative, the Global Girls Project, is centrally about women’s empowerment and encouraging others to live and lead their own voice out loud; Relevant, because in order to inspire women to share their story of empowerment and advice they might pass on to others, I’ve had to own my own journey along the way, imperfections, struggles, learnings and all.

As I continue to step closer to my dreams, I also find this moment remarkable.  Remarkable, because quite frankly, when I started this personal blogging adventure called Heart Path almost 4 years ago, I never imagined that my own story and journey would lead and connect me with so many wonderful others whose collective wisdom and insights have helped shaped my own.

And so it goes.

We advance.  We retreat.  We learn.  We stumble.  We fall.  We grow.

And in that space in between; in that space of uncertainty that threatens to become our undoing; we allow faith to replace our fear, a spirit of service to replace our ‘self’, and we begin to pay it forward for others.

Whether you’ve been following from the start or just happened to drop by, thank you for sharing this journey.

Note:  The Global Girls Project, a collaborative multimedia writing initiative, is in the early stages of development.  To catch a first glimpse and learn what the project is all about, I encourage you to visit the website at www.globalgirlsproject.org.   

 

The Courage to Try

There’s no such thing as try. Simply do.

Don’t tell me about how hard you tried. Show me what you’ve done!

We’ve all heard these mantras and understand the point.  People are measured and rewarded by results more than effort; by outcome more than initiative.

But for many, the initiative to even try gets buried under layers of fear.

Fear of failure.

Fear of disapproval.

Fear of rejection.

For many, there is a deep and often unnavigable chasm between ideas and action — a powerful force of resistance that disables, rather than enables, threatening to drown out our voice, our dreams and our productivity.

To ‘try’ is to believe in what’s possible…what can be versus what is.  It’s believing enough in oneself to risk an uncertain outcome, while opening ourselves to growth in the process.  On the continuum of personal empowerment, trying is a critical first step before one can actually achieve.

Yesterday I heard Sara Blakely, founder of SPANX, speak at the Forbes 2013 Most Powerful Women Summit.  The youngest self-made female billionaire in history, Sara launched her undergarment business with only $5,000 in savings.  But what she lacked in money, she made up for in spirit — a powerful vision, personal resiliency and the courage to try.

Growing up, Sara’s father would ask her, “So what did you fail at today?”  Perhaps unconventional to some (though effective nonetheless), Sara was not chastised for failing to achieve a particular outcome, but failing to try; for failing to stretch and step out of her comfort zone and into her growth.

When asked what advice she has for other women, Sara replied, “Be willing to fail big. Failure is not the outcome; failure is not trying.”

When was the last time your willingness to fail was bigger than your fear of trying?  Do YOU have the courage to try?

Photo courtesy of Apalapala via Flickr

Photo courtesy of Apalapala via Flickr

Women:  If you have a powerful story of empowerment to share, please visit the Global Girls Project.  We’d love to hear from you!

The Gift of the Struggle

As we journey through life, sometimes we have to struggle to uncover the gifts along the way.

Sometimes we must step away from the known, the familiar and the comfortable, before we can finally make our way back home.

Sometimes we must face fear or the temptation to quit, that we might learn to overcome and persevere, and in doing so, develop the courage to live our convictions out loud.

Sometimes we need to be challenged to finally know our value, stretched to learn our limits, and tested to understand our strength.

Sometimes we must climb hills to develop endurance or visit the valley of tears to know true compassion, for how can we offer to others what we have never experienced for ourselves?

Sometimes we must endure the disrespect of others on our own journey towards self-respect, or have our egos shattered and dismantled before we can learn to see the true light of humility in leadership and service to others.

Sometimes we must suffer pain to know healing or deep sorrow to know joy.

Sometimes we must endure the sting of betrayal to know the honor of truth, or suffer the pain of false masks, that we might finally learn to walk in the truth of who we authentically are.

Sometimes we must experience painful loss that we might know gratitude, uncertainty that we might know Faith, and disappointment that we might know hope.

Sometimes, we must simply journey through the dark forest of our lives to reach the clearing on the other side — for in every darkness there is light, in every failure there are learnings, and in every struggle the gift of growth and invitation to journey on.

I’m curious…In what ways have you been tested, challenged or stretched on your own journey called life?  Do you view these challenges as gifts of growth or another burden to bear?  How have your struggles strengthened you, enabling you to become a wiser learner and leader in your own life?  What are the lessons of your own journey?

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Living an Undivided Life

cropped-cropped-cropped-heart_multi9.jpgRecent years have fill filled with unearthing, rebirthing, and giving life to my own voice and dreams. Left brain (re)united with the right, it’s been a season of learning to live an undivided life — not just privately within my own heart and mind, but professionally, too — allowing others to see and connect with my whole self, not just the piece(s) defined by past roles or opportunity.

It’s been challenging and scary.  Layers of pride and fear dismantled as pieces of my wall have been broken down and discarded to reveal a hidden self. The public persona courageously united with the private; head aligned firmly with the heart.

But these steps are necessary to reach the places I have chosen to go.  Necessary, for when we live a divided life, we often end up losing the very essence of who we are.  We become restless, unsettled, and deeply compartmentalized.  We become more about ‘fitting in’ than being our true selves. Living our lives as square pegs in round holes, we often end up abandoning our own dreams and short-changing others in the process.  We create boxes and labels of limitations, then wonder why we feel trapped.  We lose integrity…the wholeness of who we are, while fracture lines form, threatening to undermine the foundational stability of our lives.

One of my favorite books is Parker J. Palmer’s book, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward An Undivided Life. In it he writes, “As we move closer to the truth that lives within us — aware that in the end what will matter most is knowing that we stayed true to ourselves — institutions start losing their sway over our lives.  This does not mean that we must abandon institutions.  In fact, when we live by the soul’s imperatives, we gain the courage to serve institutions more faithfully.”

These ‘institutions’ may represent our work, personal and/or spiritual lives, though the message remains the same — as we begin to reunite with our most authentic selves, we are better able to live, serve and lead others — from a place of humility, acceptance, respect and love. We become more equipped to commit to others, too, as we more deeply commit to ourselves and our own personal truths.

In the undivided life, we begin to know peace. We begin to experience joy. We begin to define success, not by the standards of world, but by the unconditional acceptance of our selves and our ability to live our truth out loud.

I’m curious…have you ever found yourself living a divided life?  Have you ever allowed labels and the expectations of others to define you or your opportunities?  What steps have you taken to live an undivided life?  What challenges have you encountered along the way?  How has living an undivided life altered your perception about the world and your role in it?

Postscript:  We are all evolving, and as we continue to grow, sometimes we change, too.  Sometimes what was important to us in the past, takes a backseat to new dreams, developed gifts, and clarity of purpose.  This evolution is not separate and divided from the whole, but an extension of our selves reframed.

Busting Out of the Box

canstockphoto1748268Before we can live outside of the lines, we have to bust out of the box.

But how did we get in here, anyway?

Sometimes we allow others to put us in a box — through labels, titles, and credentials; by allowing other people’s expectations to create (self) limiting beliefs and perceptions about who we are and what we are capable of — measuring our inner worth by outer means.

But sometimes our boxes, lines and sand traps are built from within, reenforced with fear and covered with pride.

Perhaps we dwell on past failures, struggles or circumstances beyond our control.  We focus on the problem(s) instead of creating solutions, allowing our ‘excuses’ to define who we are.

Sometimes we become dependent on past successes, too, for often the by-products of our success become the very trappings that define who we are.  In the fight to hold on, we chase the illusions and stop living in the flow of our lives.

To break out of a box, you must first break down walls — for walls that were built to protect us from others often divide and separate, while walls that were built to protect us from ourselves, often disconnect us from the very essence of who we are.

Suspend beliefs.  Reframe.  Redefine.

Play.  Create.  Wonder.  Dream.

Be bold, take risks and allow yourself to become a possibility thinker, erasing the lines of limitations.

Bust our of your box to become the fullest expression of who you are.

I’m curious:  Have you ever felt ‘trapped’ in a box, whether personally or professionally? What role have you played in creating your own box?  What role have personal or societal norms and values played in creating the box?  What advice would you give to others who are trying to break out of their own proverbial box?  

The Great Sisterhood of Women

women-holding-hands1Prelude:  This evening I attended a program in support of a new friend, Sharon Lachow-Blumberg, Founder of I’m Not Done Yet – a consulting, coaching and training firm focused on helping women create purpose, power, and profit in their lives.  I was touched by the stories shared and by the degree of camaraderie Sharon and the participating women offered to one another, each seekers of joy, purpose and fulfillment on their own journey called life.

In honor of International Womens’ Day, Sharon, Whitney Johnson, and all of the other women who are working to inspire, encourage and empower women to live their voices out loud, I am reposting an oldie, but goodie.  Keep doing the wonderful work you are doing – helping women dare to achieve their dreams!

I love men.

Surprised you with that opener, didn’t I?  Admit it.  Weren’t at least some of you expecting me to start off this post with some anti-male feminist tirade about the wrong-doings of men, necessitating the need for the great allegiance of women?

Truth is, for as long as I can remember, despite the occasional rotten apple, I’ve loved men.  I like their company and I appreciate their charms.  I’m also woman enough to admit that I still like a man’s attention – to know that in a man’s eyes (as well as my own) I’m beautiful, articulate, intelligent, sexy and funny.  Who among us heterosexual women doesn’t feel that way?  Let’s at least be honest with ourselves.  After all, aren’t men the creatures we often give the full force of our heart to, at least before we become mothers?  We love them, honor them, cherish them, and sometimes even give our lives up for them.  Many of us blindly trust and follow them, sacrificing what we must for those men who capture our hearts.  Unfortunately, sometimes we go too far, often losing ourselves in the process.

That said, in recent months there has been a shift in my focus – away from men and their charms (as well as their complications), towards the great force and beauty of my fellow females.  No, I’m not switching teams, but I do have a growing appreciation for what is often referred to as ‘the great sisterhood of women’.  If the men in my life have been catalytic and occasionally heartbreaking forces that pushed me towards growth, it has largely been the women in my life who have journeyed with me through that growth and beyond — who have pushed, challenged, sympathized, empathized, offered an ear, shared a burden, wiped tears, set me straight, cried with me, and stood by my side.  They have not done so because they always agreed with me and my decisions, but because there is a common bond among us; because ultimately, we all want to see our fellow sisters succeed at this game called life.

As I have traveled across much of the world these last couple of years, women across cultures have reached out, opened up, and shared their own journeys with me.  I have even heard from many of you via this blog or through common virtual alliances.

All of you, like me, have your own story.  Heartbreaking stories of fear, pain, heartache and loss; but also beautiful stories of courage, love, and triumph.

Some of you, like me, have just gone through a major life transition…a painful, heart-splitting, oftentimes scary, lonely and difficult journey, but have come out the other side stronger, wiser, and more compassionate than ever.

Some of you have felt victimized by your circumstances, stuck in your anger and blame; but others of you have found strength and confidence in the journey, honoring your own voice, despite the pain along the way.

I’ve heard from women who have silenced their voices, afraid to be alone or to follow their dreams, yet courageous enough to at least admit it.

I’ve heard from other women who made the choice to turn personal tragedy into life-changing victory and who now inspire others by the force of their own example.

Some of you, like the brave women of the Afghan Women’s Writing Project, have even assumed great risks to reach out to other women to be heard and understood, even if only virtually;

I’ve met women who, after years of being lost, finally found themselves – whether at 30, 50, or even 70 in the case of at least one woman I know.  Women who dared to journey within; who dared to dream, and in doing so, found their heart place.

My feminism is not of the Gloria Steinem variety, although I once took inspiration from her.  My brand of feminism is not about what is being done to us by others (though I am a strong advocate of gender equality), but about harnessing the power within; about listening to our hearts and honoring who we most authentically are.

I believe in the gifts women have to offer the world and each other.  I believe in the strength of our will, the courage of our convictions, and the beauty of our hearts.  I believe in our power to create lasting change for good in this world, starting with our own families.

We are many things to many people:  mother, sister, wife, lover, worker, leader, caretaker, survivor, daughter, friend; but most importantly, we are women.  In honor of International Women’s Day this week, I am indeed proud to be a part of the great sisterhood of women.

Note: This post is dedicated to my mother, an incredibly beautiful, smart, strong, and courageous force of nature; my first and most important example of what it means to be a woman in this world.  Through her example, I have learned to become the same.    

Living Outside the Lines

402850_377080592389199_2036867769_nOver the past few weeks and months, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and talking with people living and leading outside of the lines that have traditionally defined my world.  Proverbial box-rebels, reformists and new dreamers alike, I’ve met artists, inventors and educators; philanthropists, social innovators, and serial entrepreneurs.

Despite their outward differences, they share a common energy…an invisible, golden thread that seems to bind them all to one another.

They are authentic. Real. Grounded.

They are passionate, driven, and committed.

They also believe that their voice and their ‘craft’, in whatever form(s) it takes, is the most authentic, creative expression of their selves and the gifts they have to offer the world.  They are society’s disrupters – the collective energy and inspiration of TEDx personified – determined to make their mark on the world.

From that place they live.  They lead.  They serve.  They inspire.

For far too long, many of us have tried to fit ourselves into the lines and boxes of convention, without regard for consequence.  We have been square pegs living in round holes, building our identity around external expectations and definitions, rather that the essence of who we really are and the gifts we have to share.

We seek to ‘fit in’ because it is easier than being left out; and in our fear and discomfort with uncertainty, we seek refuge in the familiar, however outworn or outdated that model might be.

Some say they can’t change.  Some say it’s too late.  Some say it’s too hard.

I say we become what we believe is possible.

I say that our dreams represent the most sacred voice of our heart and soul.

I say that our capacity to serve and lead others, grows in proportion to our degree of self-awareness and the courage to live our lives out loud.

Start small.

Tune in.

Listen well.

Erase a line.  Adjust your lens.  Reframe.

Simply?

You be you, and watch the magic unfurl.

I‘m curious:  Do you live your life out loud, or do you find yourself burying your essence and dreams to fit in to the expectations of others?  How can you find ways to live authentically within the current framework of your life?  What small steps can you take today to begin to give life to your own voice?