Stacey

security

This week I celebrate my 16th wedding anniversary with Doug, the amazing man you see in the picture to the right. We’ve actually been together for 21 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 my husband. Many of the questions stem from the fact that I have been the primary provider for my family.

As you may know, I recently resigned from my career as a nurse midwife – what many consider my only source of “secure” income – and now many of you want to know more.

I got an email that I think probably sums up many of your questions,

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

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 believe – like work 40 hours a week for someone else and you’re being financially responsible – but that belief is not 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 want to share what it’s like to create a relationship that fully supports both partners doing just that. 

I hope it helps you create your own “Holy Cow” journey.

Here’s where it started: 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.

security

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

Quite simply, 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 it – that 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 partner – or 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 freedom – without 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 day – not in 10 years, not in one more year – for 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 right now. Two weeks ago I resigned from my position as a nurse-midwife, and I’m leaving that career behind for good.

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

No 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 purpose – which 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 me – it 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.

Now – 16 years into our marriage (and 21 years together as a couple) – that’s something to celebrate!

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!

{ 0 comments }

Asheville MarathonA couple of weeks ago I shared some photos from the Asheville Marathon that I took with my iPhone. But this professional photo just became available.

 I love that the photographer captured this shot of me and my bestie with the Biltmore House in the background. It was 30 degrees and pouring rain, but we were so joyful.

Andrea and I became friends almost 16 years ago when I was still a relatively new nurse-midwife and she was a new OB-GYN in the same practice.

I left that practice in 2002 to work with Doctors Without Borders in Mexico, and when I got back to Asheville I wanted to work in a practice that mostly served Latinas.

So even though I never got to work with Andrea again, we’ve stayed very close.

Obstetrics has a reputation for being a NOT family-friendly profession, with a very high percentage of women leaving practice within just a few years of starting, and Andrea and I have often marveled that we’ve lasted so long.

Well, now it will just be me marveling that she continues to do it.

Being up all night does not get any easier over the years. Working 24 hours straight in a busy birthing center and then coming home to take care of your family and business doesn’t get any easier either.

But it’s equally hard to give up a career that’s defined you for 20 years.

I quit my staff/salaried position three years ago, but since then I have been working “PRN” or part-time — usually one or two 24-hour call shifts a month. I wasn’t ready to leave for good because I love midwifery so much, and I enjoyed the feeling of “security” the position and the monthly paycheck gave me.

For three years now, I’ve been telling myself that “I know I’ll know” when the time came to leave.

That day came last week!!

Three years ago I wrote about what it was like to leave my “safe” job, and I’m going to share it again here, because now that I’m leaving behind my career as a nurse-midwife it rings as true as it did then!

quitting your jobIt’s agonizing, isn’t it?

First, you question whether or not you belong in your current job. Sure, it puts food on the table and keeps a roof over your head, and with the economy the way it is, you should probably feel grateful for having a job at all, but you wonder…

Could you make it on your own? Could you take the leap and be your own boss? Could you get up every morning and actually be paid well to do what you absolutely love?

A part of you thinks you could. A part of you thinks you would be great at it. A part of you believes doing anything less would be a waste of your God-given talent.

But that’s the problem: it’s only a part.

The rest of you thinks about quitting your job and wants to throw up. It worries about being homeless, looking like a loser, and ruining your child’s life.

“Be rational,” it says. “Who are you to want so much? Just be happy with what you’ve got.”

And so you end up in knots, tossing and turning at four in the morning as the two sides war within you. Which one is telling the truth? Which one is lying?

You just can’t tell, and the uncertainty of it is driving you crazy…

I know, because I’ve been there

Three years ago, I did something crazy:

After eight years of service, I resigned from my staff position as a nurse-midwife in a hospital.

I’ve always been the financial provider in my family, supporting my husband as he pursues his dream of writing the great American novel, but one day, I just wasn’t happy with it anymore.

I had noticed, however, that what I loved most about my work as a midwife was talking with my patients about their hopes for their lives and their families. I realized that I wasn’t just helping them give birth to their babies: I was helping them give birth to their dreams.

And then, five years ago, I had the epiphany, “These women need a midwife for their LIFE!”

My personal coaching business was born.

I built it while I continued to work the same hours at the hospital. It’s required me to work a lot of late nights and weekends, but when my clients tell me that I’ve helped them accomplish dreams they had all but given up on, and that they even thank God every day for me, it makes it all worth it. In fact, it’s all I want to do.

I love my business, and it’s grown a lot over the last five years, but was it enough to leave behind a career that has defined me for the last 20 years?

So I should’ve stayed at my hospital job, right?

I couldn’t do it

I saw my friends being supported by their husbands as they pursued their creative dreams, and I looked at my husband, and I thought, “Why should they get to pursue their passions full-time and I don’t? When would it be my time?”

It made me feel jealous and powerless and taken advantage of, and I couldn’t stand it. Yes, I want my husband to become the next JK Rowling, but I can’t wait forever.

Suddenly I understood men who come home after a long day and need a Scotch or two before dinner. Quite frankly, it sucks to feel like your dreams are drifting away while you’ve got a family to support, and sometimes you just want to check out.

But I don’t want to be that man. This is my life, and I don’t want to check out for one minute. I don’t want my husband to be that man either. I want both of us to pursue our dreams and support our family at the same time.

Why does it have to be so damn hard?

Your Ego wants to keep you safe (and mediocre)

Whether you call it your Ego or your “voice of reason” or — my favorite — your inner critic, there is a part of your psyche that wants to protect you. And if that means sacrificing your dreams, so be it. To your Ego, your survival is the only thing that counts, and your dreams are nothing more than a dangerous distraction.

But that doesn’t mean you have to believe it.

The truth is, your Ego is just another voice inside your head. You need to view it as a trusted advisor who wants you to think about the risks involved before you do anything unconventional. It’s prudent to listen to that voice, but you’re by no means obligated to obey it. In fact, challenging it on a regular basis is probably one of the best things you can do.

And how do you do that?

Ask powerful questions

The key to coming to terms with the Ego is to ask it powerful questions. Asking, “I’ve always struggled financially, so I guess I’m just not supposed to be an artist, right?” is not a powerful question. But asking, “Of the successful artists I admire, who would be willing to mentor me?” is.

“Who would care what I have to say anyway?” is not a powerful question. But asking, “When I believe there is great work inside me, what am I doing?” is — because it leads you in the direction of your dreams.

Small questions are powerful too. “What is the first small step I can take on the road to my dreams?” is an excellent question, and “What’s the next small step?” is a great follow-up.

Engage your Ego in a dialogue around powerful questions, and I promise you’ll receive good answers. In fact, you know you’re asking a good question by the quality of your answer. If you don’t like the answer, change the question! The point is to free up the voice of your passion and determination, and tone down the voice of your Ego and fears.

But wait, there’s more.

Plan for the worst-case scenario

Your Ego has another tool in its toolbox and it’s called The Worst-Case Scenario. Make no mistake, the worst-case scenario is daunting, but it’s never a good reason to abandon your dreams. How do you deal with it? Think about possible crises before you start any passion-driven work, and decide beforehand what you would be willing to do in the face of them.

For example, before I started my business I made an agreement with my Ego (and my husband) that it would be time to quit if I ever couldn’t pay the bills. Yes, I could tap every bit of our savings and invest them in my business, but I would never put anything on a credit card that I couldn’t pay at the end of the month. I’ve kept that agreement.

I’ve also considered the mother of all worst-case scenarios: being homeless, looking like a loser, and ruining my son’s life. And I came up with a plan. If my business didn’t support my family fast, I was willing to move us to Guatemala, where we can live well on the rental income from our house.

Now, living in Guatemala may not be the price you’re willing to pay, but are you willing to consider the worst thing that could happen to you (and your family) if you were to pursue your dreams? Can you acknowledge that there is always something you could do to make it better?

Answer “yes,” and you can get on with the business of doing your great work, because the world is waiting.

The World Needs You

You may continue to feel fear — the Ego is a white-knuckle flyer even when you coax it onto the plane — but if you can remind your Ego of your agreements, you’ll stop feeling scared out of your mind.

The good news is that you’re on this path for a reason. The world doesn’t need more people mired in mediocrity, waiting to punch out at the end of the day and knock back a stiff drink. We need you to fulfill your purpose and become truly alive.

So challenge those voices of “reason” inside your head. Plan for the worst-case scenario. And no matter what, never stop believing in yourself, because regardless of what anyone says, you can live the life of your dreams.

Now go for it!

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!

{ 4 comments }

What if you couldn’t be blamed for your bad behavior?

April 1, 2014

A few weeks ago I wrote about the Pain Body and how my understanding of it has allowed me to love myself and others, even in the face of serious wrong-doing. The best part for me is that I have raised Griffin with this concept and I’m seeing how he, at the age of 8 (9 […]

Read the full article →

How do you know your dream is worth the work?

March 25, 2014

The photos to the right show me and my dear friend Andrea at the start of the Asheville Marathon – which we ran in the pouring rain and 30 degree temperatures – and then me at the finish. Back in January I posted a photo of me and Andrea after a long training run, and […]

Read the full article →

How to Excuse-Proof Your Life

March 18, 2014

There are two kinds of challenges you’re going to encounter on your journey to achieving your dreams – concrete, tangible obstacles, and human ones. You’re going to call these obstacles legitimate and completely justifiable reasons for why you can’t have what you want – but they are just excuses that don’t hold up to much […]

Read the full article →

An Open Call for All Pain Bodies

March 11, 2014

In his book A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle describes the Pain Body as a “psychic parasite,” like an alien being, that possesses you and causes you to be unconscious to your own and others suffering. The result, of course, is more suffering. No one is immune from its effects, and parents and children are especially vulnerable. […]

Read the full article →

If you want freedom from insecurity, try this

March 4, 2014

After working with clients last week who were struggling with insecurity – and realizing that I had just dealt effectively with my own insecurity related to skiing – I’d like to share a process I’ve found helpful when dealing with doubts and fears: First of all, when you are feeling insecure in any situation, it […]

Read the full article →

Anatomy of a Miracle

February 25, 2014

Last week I was squeezed between two super storms in my travels from Asheville, North Carolina to Stamford, Connecticut. I left on Monday, February the 10th as a snowstorm was just approaching the southeast, and my connecting flight to New York City just barely got out of Charlotte. Fortunately New York was clear, but the […]

Read the full article →

A Radical Ritual for Releasing (and Manifesting Massive Miracles)

February 18, 2014

Here’s the thing about ANY BAD FEELING (whether you call it frustration, sadness, outrage, disappointment, regret, doubt, etc. – any one of them could fall under the umbrella of “feeling bad”): it keeps you bound to feeling bad AND blocks every good thing you want. For that reason you want to forgive past transgressions, or […]

Read the full article →

What are you afraid of?

February 11, 2014

Fear is a funny thing, meaning it’s not a thing at all, but we tend to think it is this big scary evil thing. Worse, we think that it’s a thing that strong and successful people can magically crush away, and we are somehow less-than or defective because we let it define our lives. Yes, […]

Read the full article →