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DougThe photo shows my husband, Doug, enjoying a much-deserved break after sending in the final draft for his book that will be published by Capstone Press in September 2015. I’m so proud of him!

It’s been a big writing week in our household – I just completed my chapter for Choosing Happiness, the anthology that’s scheduled for release in February 2015 by Inspired Living Publishing.

To say that I’m over-the-moon excited that Doug and I will both have books published in 2015 would be a bit of an understatement.

We’ve both worked so hard to have this – Doug has been writing and dreaming of being a published author for over 20 years – and now it’s really happening.

If you’ve ever had a dream, but felt you lacked the inspiration or discipline to see it come to reality, or doubted that anything would come from it even if you did commit to it, this post is for you.

First action, then inspiration ~ those are the words that drive me whenever I am looking for that elusive muse called inspiration.

I’ve learned that if I show up first, whether it’s at my computer, a meeting, or a workout, she will most likely show up too.

After all, one of my favorite quotes is this one, attributed to German writer Goethe: “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”

I recommend reading that first paragraph again. (I’ll wait here for you.) Note that nowhere in there does it say, “Wait for inspiration, and then your action will come easily, and you’ll achieve your dreams before you know it.”

There’s something to be said for leaping before you look.

If I believed that waiting for inspiration or a “sign” that I was ready was the way to approach accomplishing my dreams, I wouldn’t have accomplished much in my life.

On the other hand, acting first and expecting inspiration to follow has helped me to start working toward many of my dreams — and go on to achieve them.

This was certainly true of writing a children’s story, which began as a dream over ten years ago.

I’ve always loved children’s picture books and filled entire shelves with them even before I had a child, but I never imagined writing one.

That changed when, in preparation for my first child, I read a book on parenting, Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Myla Kabat-Zinn and Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Everyday Blessings included the story of Sir Gawain and the Loathly Lady. I loved the story, but I was a little dismayed that it seemed to hang so much on physical beauty and romantic love.

I wanted to tell a story that focused more on friendship and freedom. I shared my dream with my husband and with my dear friend (and extraordinary artist) Daniel Nevins, and they were both enthusiastic about it.

Daniel even agreed to create the illustrations if I ever managed to get the story written. Of course, it would have to wait, because my baby was born soon after I asked for his help.

Sometimes being “haunted” by something can be a good – no, great! – thing.

Stacey with Ravenna fansI still thought about the story often, especially during those late-night feedings when it was just my son and me.

As he nestled against my breast, I thought about how precious he was to me, and how I wanted more than anything to support his freedom to become exactly who he wanted to be. I wanted to support him as he found his own path to happiness.

Even though it was painful to consider, I knew that I would support him even if he chose a path that would take him far away from me.

The first two years of my son’s life passed quickly, but the story stayed with me. I knew I still wanted to write it, but there were so many other matters to attend to. Commitments to my family and my work as a nurse-midwife seemed to take up all my time.

The few moments I carved out for myself seemed best spent doing mood-elevating exercise, which helped fuel me up for all of the other demands on my energy.

I felt I had no time to do anything more. And I doubted that writing the story would pay off even if I were to find the time, because then I’d either have to pay Daniel to do the illustrations or get a publishing deal that would pay for them — and both options seemed well nigh impossible.

Still, the idea of the story haunted me (in a good way) and I realized there was nothing to be done but to “show up” and write the story.

So I carved out the time. I sat at my computer. And I wrote. And I waited for the muse. And I wrote a little more. And sure enough, the muse arrived. I finished the story in February of 2007.

Taking a huge risk can pay off in a big way.

I sent it out to publishers hoping they would love it as much as I did. I got a few positive responses, but nothing close to a publishing contract.

After six months, I realized that if I was going to see this story “fully fleshed” – that is, illustrated — I was going to have to pay Daniel myself to illustrate it. It was the most money I had ever spent on anything other than the down payment on my house, and it felt like a huge risk, but it was worth it to see my dream become a reality.

I sent the manuscript out, now with the illustrations, and (still many months later) got a publisher interested in the book.

So, after perhaps the world’s longest gestation, my baby, Ravenna, was born. But she would have stayed a twinkle in my eye had I not been willing to take the action before inspiration struck.

So to anyone who has ever had a dream, but felt she lacked the inspiration to see it come to reality, or doubted that anything would come from it even if she did commit to it, I can only say, do it.

The best-kept secret – there is power in action!

That’s the best-kept secret to achieving your dreams – the boldness of acting on your dream really does have genius, power, and magic in it. The Universe really will conspire on your behalf, but you have to put some skin in the game first.

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Stacey's new carI know, I know – “the new car shot” is a complete internet marketing cliché – but I couldn’t resist!

Doug and I hadn’t bought a new (to us) car in over 10 years – and the cars we had been driving were 16 and 18 years old, both with over 200,000 miles on them.

When our trusty old Subaru gave up the ghost, we knew we had a big decision to make, but here’s what I want you to know: we started the process by first determining how we wanted to feel – who we wanted to be – throughout the whole experience.

I didn’t want to feel constrained by money, time or energy in making the decision. I wanted to feel affluent, joyful and decisive. And I was.

You see, I believe any big decision isn’t really about deciding how much to invest (whether it’s thousands of dollars or hours), as it is about saying YES to your deepest desires and making a decision to create them in your life.

Your desire is God, the Universe, Source Energy (whatever you want to call it) tapping you on the shoulder, saying, “It’s time for you to grow into who you’re meant to be.”

When I finally GOT that the key to a happy and successful life is to start with how I want to feel and who I want to be rather than what I want to do or have – everything in my life changed.

In this week’s blog I’m sharing an excerpt from an interview I did with Stacy Rowan, president and founder of Custom Built Life, where we talk about exactly how to do that. And because I don’t have room here to touch on all the things we covered, I’m giving you full access to the audio too!

Before I share some of the best take-aways from my interview with Stacy, I should mention that she holds a BS in chemical engineering from a Top 10 undergraduate program.

You can learn more about her by listening to the audio of our call, but suffice to say that not too long ago she was much more comfortable in the realm of science than spirituality.

In our conversation we focused on what we had learned in the book, The Happy Pocketful of Money, by David Gikandi.

Happy Pocketful of Money is not your average personal development book because it largely focuses on quantum physics, and since science is Stacy’s comfort zone, the book really resonated with her.

Stacy explained that her mind is always tempted to question concepts in some personal development books, especially those that rely on the Law of Attraction.

Reading them, she’ll often think, “How can this be?” But in Happy Pocketful of Money, the science made her comfortable and able to say, “Okay, this isn’t just something that I would love to be true or that’s wishful thinking, but there is science behind it that makes sense.”

“And that’s not to say,” she continued, “that I understood all the science that they explained, but having my background really helped me feel comfortable with the material and understand it better.”

For Stacy, one of the biggest takeaways from Happy Pocketful was the concept that our reality starts with being. So, if we want to experience wealth, we have to be wealthy. If we want to experience confidence, we have to be confident.

Leap and the net will appearIn other words, our reality comes from our beliefs, and comes from being what we want to be.

And those beliefs lead to thought; those thoughts lead to speaking, our speech and thoughts lead to action, and our actions lead to experience.

“I know for myself,” Stacy said, “that for much of my life I was living by ‘if then’ statements. I’ll be happy ‘if this’ happens. ‘If I get an A on a test, then I’ll be happy.’ ’If I get this job, then I’ll be happy.’ ‘If I can get a promotion, then I’ll be wealthy.’ “

“And the way it really works,” Stacy says, “is the exact opposite to that.”

Stacy and I next talked about my experience of believing for years that I could leave my hospital job if my husband sold his first book, and how it happened that I quit my job on April 2nd of this year – and he sold his first book on April 8th.

(Again, if you haven’t heard the whole story, you really need to – so listen to the audio, okay?)

Stacy loved my story because she thought it perfectly illustrated the truth behind the Buddhist saying, “Leap and the net will appear.”

But she pointed out that often what happens is people will take a leap and find that the net is not there. And they say, “Hey, what happened? I leapt but the net didn’t appear!”

But here’s where Stacy revealed the key: the important piece is the belief. “So,” she said to me, “if you had quit your job and then said, ‘Oh my gosh! How is this going to work? How are we going to get the money that I got from that hospital job? How are we going to pay the mortgage today? How are we going to feed ourselves and our child? Oh, I just don’t know if this is going to work’ you might have had a very different experience. But what was beautiful was that you felt the opposite of those worries – you felt positive and expansive.”

“You believed it,” she continues, “on a deep level. You knew it was right. But people who think, ‘Okay, I am going to leap because they tell me the net’s going to appear’ – they don’t have the belief – they are not already energetically in the place – it’s not going to happen.

“Again, we have all these clichés and little sayings that people want to believe but they don’t understand how they work on a scientific level.”

That’s why, Stacy says, “there are aspects of that belief which aren’t clear or reproducible. Because people don’t understand the science behind them. And what I love is that this book [Happy Pocketful] explained it – and you experienced it.”

Again, to get the full story and the complete “how to” take the cliché to reality, you really must listen to this audio – and you’ll find it here.

For more insights and wisdom from Stacy, don’t forget to visit her at Custom Built Life.

If you liked this post, I think you’ll enjoy the free weekly Special Delivery eZine. Just sign up here and it will be delivered to your inbox every Tuesday!

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How to tell if you’re succeeding or struggling

September 9, 2014

Griffin had his first soccer game with the HFC Academy Soccer League last weekend. The game started at 8 am and in order to be at the field in time for the warm up he had to wake at 6:30 – a full hour before he’s usually up for school! As you can see from […]

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SOS for Shiny Object Syndrome

September 2, 2014

This is one of my favorite times of year – I can’t seem to kick the feeling of “Back to School” excitement that I’ve had since I was a little kid. Griffin decided to skip the 4th grade this year, and we’re all super excited to see how the 5th grade unfolds for him! Although […]

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How Tiny Tweaks Can Transform Your Life

August 26, 2014

The photo to the right was taken during a shoot for the Aspire Magazine cover in December. (Of course, I can’t use it for the cover because my eyes are closed, but I love that it shows my genuine delight in that moment. And I love that I can share it with you!) If you […]

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What Robin Williams’ death can teach us about helplessness and hope

August 19, 2014

That’s Griffin in front of his lemonade stand last weekend. When we were getting ready, I asked him how much he planned to charge for a glass. He said 50 cents. I said he could do that OR he could offer the lemonade for free and have a jar for tips. He was a little […]

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When should you give up on your dreams?

August 12, 2014

Well, I still haven’t yet managed to pull together all the photos from my Epic European Adventure with Griffin to share with you. But I can share a few more favorite pics from our trip – this time from the top of the Eiffel Tower. As you know, we spent about 8 hours on the […]

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Simple Steps to Maximize Your Mindset (90% of success is based on this!)

August 5, 2014

Life has been so full with getting back to my life and work that I haven’t yet managed to pull together all the photos from my Epic European Adventure with Griffin. I’ll share more once I do, but for now you can get a peek at Panthera (the boat – in the background) in the […]

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The best personal development advice is in a business book

July 29, 2014

I just got back from my epic European Adventure with Griffin! Of all the wonderful photos I have from the trip, I’m particularly delighted to share this one of Griffin and my former client and current cher amie, Nadine. When I found out that we were going to have a 9-hour layover in Paris before […]

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Go Ahead: Judge Your Neighbor!

July 22, 2014

Yes, life would be so much easier and SO much better if everyone would simply conform to my perfect way of doing things. Fortunately, I’ve learned to care more about my happiness than being right, and that’s where Byron Katie’s The Work has been SO helpful. By doing The Work, I stopped being frustrated with my […]

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