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Why the price of security is too damned high

17th AnniversaryLast weekend I celebrated my 17th wedding anniversary!

Doug and I have actually been together for a total of 22 years, which, I’m sure you can appreciate, is no small feat.

Over the years I’ve gotten a lot of questions about my relationship with Doug. Many of the questions stem from the fact that I have always been the primary, if not sole, provider for my family.

As you may know, I resigned from my career as a nurse midwife right about this time last year, and at the time I got a ton of emails from readers asking how I could leave that job – what many considered my only source of “secure” income.

Many of the questions were summed up by the following note:

How are you making the transition work financially – did you have to save up money? How is your husband handling it? How do you negotiate these decisions with your spouse? How did you overcome the fear? How and Holy Cow! LOL

I know that at the heart of all of these questions is a desire to know everything will be all right. But who has that kind of knowledge?

Anything we feel we know comes from choosing to believe a thought.

Sure, it’s easier to believe in something that many, many people believelike work 40 hours a week for someone else and you’re being financially responsiblebut that belief is not at all guaranteed to help you feel happy and satisfied with your life.

And isn’t that what we all really want?

Over the last 20+ years I’ve given a lot of thought to what it means to be truly happy and satisfied in your life, and Frederick Buechner said it best when he said that vocation is the place where our deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.

I published the following article last year and I want to share it again now. I hope it helps you create a relationship that fully supports both partners create their own definitions of authentic success and fulfill their dreams.

Let me tell you, it’s hard work, but SO worth it!

When I was 8 years old, I remember my mom complaining that my dad was watching a program (probably sports) that no one else enjoyed. My dad looked at her and said, “It’s my TV. I paid for it, and I’ll watch whatever I want.”

I saw the look of hurt in my mom’s eyes and I remember thinking, “I will always make money. No one will ever say that to me.” And I have always made money, and no one has ever said anything like that to me.

When I was in my early 30’s (the ripe old age that my dad was when he made the statement about who owned the TV) I was in the position of making money when Doug didn’t.

I also gained understanding of how my father could say things to my mom on the basis of who “made the money.”

Quite frankly, it is stressful and challenging to be the sole provider for a family and there is a certain amount of understandable frustration that goes with itthat is, until you consider the fact that you always have a choice about how you feel.

And being completely responsible for the financial well-being of your family can either feel stressful or it can feel fantastic. (Which do you think I’ve chosen to feel?)

Unfortunately, early in our relationship, I found myself perpetuating the errors of my father. I judged my husband for not making money and said demeaning things to him.

Fortunately, I knew that this was not the way I wanted to treat Doug, nor the way I wanted to be in the world. I sought counseling, and I’ll never forget my counselor saying, “You love Doug. You have a great relationship. But you want to leave him because he’s not a provider?”

At that moment I realized that Doug has always supported me in every way except financially. And what I’ve learned since then is that the thing you want most from your partneror anyone in your life (although this is a tall order for a mate, let alone anyone else)is that they see you and value you for exactly who you are.

The support I want from my husband is his unfailing belief in me. Period.

Think about it: How many women do you know who are “supported” by their husbands while they pursue less-than-lucrative passions? There are a lot, right?

And they know their husbands are paying a price: I once read a heart-breaking thread on Amy Oscar’s blog where she talked about how she wanted to make a lot of money so that her husband could finally have a “break” from the responsibility of supporting their family while she pursued her creative passions.

She wrote, “The greatest gift I can imagine for the man in my life: A year of complete creative freedomwithout interruptions; a year to take his imagination to the edge of its edge and beyond.” Many other readers chimed in that they would love to give that gift to their husbands as well.

Amy and her husband are in their 50’s. My husband is a gifted writer and while I believe that one day he will be hailed as the next JK Rowling, I don’t want to wait for the daynot in 10 years, not in one more yearfor him to “make it big” so I can have a year of complete creative freedom, free of financial concerns.

So that’s why I decided to claim a break for myself and resigned from my position as a nurse-midwife, and I left that career behind for good.

The career that defined me for 20 years satisfied many of my needsto be of service, to make income to support my familybut it was no longer my passion.

SecurityNo matter how great the steady paycheck in the “secure” field of health care is, it’s not as compelling as the satisfaction and meaning that comes from living my purposewhich is helping other women find and live theirs.

So what was that conversation with Doug like when I told him I wanted to leave nurse-midwifery for good? Well, after years spent proving my faith in him – and relying on his faith in meit was easier than you might expect.

Is it scary to dash the “security” of a good hospital job for the dream of designing my days exactly how I see fit? Well, to answer that question let me ask you this: Did you notice that I can’t even write “secure” or “security” without quotes?

In our current economy, I don’t think any job is secure. Economy aside, life is not as secure as we think it is.

Often what “security” we do have we acquire at the cost of something much more important – the knowledge that we are fulfilling our life’s purpose.

Here’s what is secure: my knowledge that no one knows better than I do how to provide for me. That’s something I decided when I was eight, and my conviction has only gotten stronger every day since then.

Here’s what else is secure: my husband’s unwavering faith in me. I’ve learned to return that faith in him.

Of course, we don’t have guarantees that we’ll be so successful in our creative endeavors that we will never have a financial concern (um, who does?), but we believe in each other no matter what.

Now17 years into our marriage (and 22 years together as a couple)that’s something to celebrate!

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What to do when you get sh*tty news

Mary Cade and StaceyThat’s a photo of my dear friend Mary Cade and me (and her adorable daughter) that was taken last fall.

We got together on a beautiful spring day last week (but were so wrapped up in catching up I forgot to snap a pic).

If you’ve been a long-time ezine reader, you may remember that last fall, she and her husband, Gawain, were embarking on journey of extraordinary healing after Gawain received news that he had a recurrence of cancer.

Many of you, in fact, were part of a crowdsourcing campaign that raised over $50,000 to help support his alternative and complementary treatments!

Last week Gawain shared that he is feeling the best – the most healthy and vital – he’s felt in 5 years!

And yet he is still not seeing test results that would reflect the complete cure we are all envisioning for him.

So how do we keep the vision of him enjoying MANY more years of health and vitality in the face of some unwanted (and pretty sh*tty!) news??

Have you ever felt totally at a loss when faced with some pretty sh*tty news? What about when a family member or a friend gets some?

I still remember the surgeon coming out after operating on my mom and telling her family she had found cancerous lymph nodes. We all knew what that meant: her breast cancer had spread, and she was facing a much bigger fight for her health than we had hoped. At that moment I felt the worst I had ever felt in my whole life.

It took a lot of mental discipline to focus on what I did want (for my mom to be healthy and happy) and not on what I didn’t want (which seemed to be staring me in the face), but I discovered that it IS possible to make that shift. And I discovered that it makes ALL the difference.

I really believe you can sit with some pretty sh*tty circumstances – and still focus on what’s going well in your life and on what you really want.

I remember taking care of terminally ill kids when I was a nursing student.

On the second day of my 2-week rotation, I burst into tears and cried to my nursing instructor, “How do you do this work?? It’s just so horrible to face these tragedies every day!!”

And she said, “You just do it. Because you can help. Because that is enough.”

It soon struck me that if I could be fully present and focus on what would bring some lightness to the room (a simple Cat’s Cradle from string was always a big hit), I could say that I helped.

When I could get a sick child to smile and laugh, I helped.

More than anything else, though, I remember how a parent’s face would light up when I asked for stories of the child when she was well – and then projected a time in the future when she would be doing all the things she loved again.

There was tremendous grace, and yes, healing, in those moments, and they confirmed something that I have always believed: we can’t help anyone by focusing solely on their sorrows and limitations.

Of course, I have great compassion for anyone who is suffering, and I’ll always try to soothe such people first by letting them know I understand their pain.

But then, as soon as I can, I let them know I also see their best and shining selves coming out of this experience.

As it turns out, research supports this approach.

A research study at Case Western Reserve University has documented reactions in the human brain that show positive visioning is much more likely to have a positive effect than an interaction in which a “helper” focuses on a problem the subject is having.

That makes sense, doesn’t it? We intuitively know we feel better when we interact with people who show compassion for us AND who inspire us to overcome our challenges.

The bottom line? Focusing on a person’s desired personal vision, even if the person is in crisis, will turn on the parts of the brain that are associated with openness – to solutions, to help – and better functioning.

On the other hand, when people choose to focus on what isn’t going well, it actually closes down future, sustainable change, and stirs the sort of emotions that lead a person to turn away from help. Consider that the next time you focus on the crisis rather than the solution!

So, yes, when you are struggling with some sh*tty circumstances, it can feel like one more bit of unwanted news could tip you into overwhelm and despair, but as long as you’ve got enough presence of mind to recognize where you are are on the Emotional Guidance Scale (see inset photo) – and to point yourself toward better emotional states – you can focus your thoughts forward.

By stringing together better-feeling thoughts you’ll return to a powerful place and find a solution that works for you. And THEN you can enjoy all the joy and vitality that is available to you at all times.

Of course, what’s essential in this process is that you keep a steady reading of your emotional state.

Download a copy of the Emotional Guidance Scale and then set a timer (like an alarm on your phone) for every waking hour so that you can be aware of your “vibrational meter” and if you are at a “low frequency” you can choose thoughts that create a better feeling.

Don’t forget how important body language is in all of this, too. I wrote about this topic a couple of weeks ago.

In case you missed it, here’s the most salient part: Acting the way you want to feel is a science-based shortcut to feeling happy and more powerful.

No, really. Wherever you are right now, stand up. Put your hands on your hips and your feet hips-width apart and tilt your chin slightly upward. (For an added effect, hold a pen between your teeth – but not with your lips, because that does the opposite of what you’re after.) See how you feel.

Strike this pose whenever you get some unwanted new or before any potentially challenging interaction, and see how it changes things for you.

Keep doing this pose, and soon you’ll see for yourself: If you change how you direct your thoughts and how you use your body, you will change your mindset and how you feel about your life. And you WILL become happier and more powerful as a result.

Even if the best you can do with your emotions is render them “vibrationally neutral” (that is, somewhere between “contentment” and “boredom” – “acceptance,” maybe) – so that even if you can’t lean emotionally toward the things you want, you can stop yourself from reacting negatively to the things you don’t want, you will still make it easier for you to find positive solutions that will work for you.

In other words, it’s not your job to figure out the “how, where, when, who” – it’s your job to know what you want and to know how you want to feel. And once you know that, you can trust that the Universe knows in detail everything that will please you and is yielding it to you.

Trust that it is coming…it is ABSOLUTELY is coming.

You cannot be clear in your desire and not have the Universe line up circumstances and events to achieve it. You just have to relax and let it come and trust that you’ll know it when you see it.

THAT is the vision I’m holding for YOU!!


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