“Strength implies remaining the subject of one’s life.” – Simone de Beauvoir

Path to Your DreamsThe photo to the right shows a scene from Griffin’s Annual “Apple Pie Baking and Movie Making Play Date” at our home last week.

I was careful to really savor his wonderful friendships right at this moment – filled with lots of light banter and laughter – because it’s apparent to me that these kids are growing up fast and there may not be many more years (or days!) left when they are as unselfconscious and sweet (singing and dancing to Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off!) as they are now.

One of the big reasons I quit my hospital job this year was so that I’d have more opportunities to spend time with my son and his awesome friends.

I had SO MUCH fear about leaving the security of my steady income and benefits. After I resigned, but before I received my last “secure” paycheck, I had many anxious moments and “What have I done?!” thoughts.

But guess what? Now that I’m past that momentous severance, I haven’t had one moment of fear or anxiety, but I’ve had many, many moments when I’m profoundly grateful for the life I’ve created.

Yes, it was nerve-wracking to quit that job, and I was mostly acting on enormous faith that I could do it.

But here’s the thing: I have become so much more courageous and optimistic than I ever thought possible back them.

If you want to learn more about how I’ve come to look at hope and courage like muscles – and how I realized that the more you “flex” them, the more you can depend on them to do the heavy lifting in challenging situations – you’ll want to attend my very special teleseminar.

Authentic Success with Stacey Curnow

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There are a few REALLY big questions that should be the basis of your life. I’ve talked about some of them before: Who do I want to be? What do I want to do? What do I want to have? How do I want to feel?

Those questions can feel pretty overwhelming if you don’t think you’re close to where you want to be or what you want to do or have.

So here’s one question you can ask yourself every day, one that will help you feel great about your day, every day: What is the one thing I could do today that would be most satisfying?

If you really don’t have a clue about what that might be, it’s probably because you’re aware of so many things you need to do, so many steps you could take, that you’re totally overwhelmed.

Path to Your DreamsWhen you’re totally overwhelmed, how do you know which path to take?

Here’s a thought…

How about the shortest one?

Let’s play a fun little mental game.

If you wanted to sell that piece that’s been up on Etsy forever, RIGHT NOW, what would you do?

If you wanted to write a book, RIGHT NOW, what would you do?

If you wanted to rid your house of clutter, RIGHT NOW, what would you do?

What’s the shortest path to get to the thing you want?

Asking this question takes the matter out of the theoretical, where things stay overwhelming, into the present moment, where all of your power is.

Here’s the thing: You’re not asking what the best thing to do is. You’re not asking what the most efficient thing to do is. You’re asking what you would do if you had to do it now.

So what would you do?

The answer’s probably really clear.

You want to sell the piece on Etsy? Well, you could start by telling people it exists, probably by linking to it on your Facebook page. If you want to get fancy, give some small incentive to buy (20% off, or free shipping, or something) and link to it, every 4 hours for a day. That would be a good start, right?

You want to write a book? Well, you could start by writing 750 words right now. Or you could sign up for Write or Die ( ). It’s a tool that you set for a length of time, like 15 minutes, and then you have to write. The catch is if you stop writing before the time limit, there are consequences. Here they are:

  • Gentle Mode: A certain amount of time after you stop writing, a box will pop up, gently reminding you to continue writing.
  • Normal Mode: If you persistently avoid writing, you will be played a most unpleasant sound. The sound will stop if and only if you continue to write.
  • Kamikaze Mode: Keep Writing or Your Work Will Unwrite Itself!

Cue up Kamikaze Mode and you’d probably hit your word count, don’t you think?

You want to clear your home of clutter? Well, you could start by setting a timer for 15 minutes. Then take 3 trash bags into a room. Designate one bag the “Put Away” bag, one the “Give Away” bag, and one the “Throw Away” bag. Fill them as much as possible before the time is up. Voila! You’ve just deculttered your home!

So let me ask you this…

What’s YOUR shortest path to your dreams?

Every Sunday I do my 30-Minute Manifesto and I identify my 3 top priorities for the week. I refer to the manifesto daily to stay on top of the things I most want to accomplish over that time.

Every day I ask what’s the one thing I can do that day related to my priorities. I try to do that one thing first thing in the morning, before the day has a chance to go all wonky.

You want to start every day with this one question. Once you find your answer, then take action on it every day, even if it’s just for fifteen minutes. Again, the earlier in the day you can do it, the better.

Then go through your day and ask yourself, “Am I focusing on the tasks that are most important to me?”

There may be days when you don’t have a lot of choice about how you spend your time. Your kid may get sick, or your boss may be more demanding than usual, and at the end of the day you may feel totally drained.

At the end of that day, you don’t want to focus on your personal dreams. You just want to watch TV and dive into a bag of chips. And that’s fine.

But I think you’ll agree that those days are not as common as days when you’re actually choosing to busy yourself with tasks unrelated to your priorities.

For those days, grab your timer and do a fifteen-minute sprint on that one thing you said you most wanted to do, the thing that puts you on the shortest path to accomplishing your dreams, and just do it!

You’ll be amazed at how satisfied you feel at the end of the day and how fast you reach your dreams.

One more thing: I’ve mentioned it a million times, but it bears repeating once more (not that I won’t mention it again in the future!) – it’s super important that you enjoy the feeling place of already having achieved your goals and dreams right now.

That feeling is like rocket fuel that will give you an enormous boost as you’re making your way down your path. Once you have achieved that feeling place, it’s exciting to take one step and then another and another, and you never doubt that you’ll make it to your destination.

And that’s why I LOVE a new tool that was recommended to me by my mentor, Fabienne Fredrickson, when I was at her Mindset Retreat last month: The Mind Movie. I watch mine every day and love the feeling it gives me. It’s like a turbo-charged Vision Board and you can see mine here:

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I just snapped this photo of Griffin and our dog, Spencer. They’re often inseparable. Is there anything better than the love between a boy and his dog?

I’ve talked about the joy I experienced from “big” pleasures like swimming in the Ionian Sea or climbing the Eiffel Tower, but of course, it’s much more likely that I’ll derive happiness from small pleasures, like petting my dog or holding Doug’s hand.

This week’s post is all about the scientific basis for how those small sources of happiness yield big benefits.

I learned about oxytocin early in my midwifery training. Of all hormones, it’s probably the most important to birth and breastfeeding. It acts as a chemical messenger that tells the uterus to contract and the mammary glands to produce milk. (A hormone is a chemical substance produced in the body that controls and regulates the activity of certain cells or organs – in other words, it’s like a drug.)

So, that’s the old-school oxytocin, which is fascinating in itself, but there’s more!

Recent studies have begun to investigate oxytocin’s role in various behaviors associated with well-being – including love, trust, and social connection.

I first became aware that oxytocin wasn’t just a one-hit wonder in pregnancy when I read Temple Grandin’s fascinating book Animals in Translation back in 2004. You may have heard of Temple Grandin because her life and story were featured in an HBO drama.

I haven’t seen the film, but I highly recommend that you learn more about her and her fascinating work. In addition to being an author, she’s a university professor, an animal behavior researcher and consultant…and profoundly autistic.

Although her autism creates a barrier in communicating with humans, she feels it helped her be more successful in communicating with other animals. She says, “Animal behavior was the right field for me, because what I was missing in social understanding I could make up for in understanding animals. Half the cattle in the United States and Canada are handled in humane slaughter systems I’ve designed.”

OxytocinOne area of her research looked at how pets might improve the health of their owners. I’ll never forget being astounded by her finding that, “A dog’s oxytocin levels rise when his owner pets him, and petting his dog raises the owner’s oxytocin, too.”

It’s likely that oxytocin make humans into nicer, better people because high levels of oxytocin are linked to increased calm and nurturing behaviors. It quiets the fear circuitry in our brains so that when we look around we see opportunities for peaceful connection instead of threatening menace.

When our predisposition to judge and find fault is held in check we are more likely to look for, notice and respond to friendly exchanges.

And it’s a self-perpetuating cycle! After a positive exchange, more oxytocin is released and we are even more likely to reach out and interact with others in a cooperative and nurturing manner.

Another amazing thing about oxytocin is that the positive experiences it encourages apply to all species of animals. This means oxytocin can create and sustain a social feedback system that knows no boundaries – and as most animal lovers intuitively know, it contributes to a sense that we are able to connect with animals, to understand them, and that they understand us, even though we don’t share a spoken language.

We can all improve our well-being by forming meaningful connections with any other being. Studies show that oxytocin is the reason why people with pets tend to recover more quickly from illness, why married people tend to live longer, and why support groups benefit those who attend them.

Oxytocin which was once thought to have a narrow role in the workings of labor and lactation is now being called the “touch,” “bonding” and “love” hormone.

You know what the best part is? It doesn’t come in a pill and it doesn’t cost a thing. All you need to do is care for another – appreciation, loving touch, sustained eye contact – all raise oxytocin levels.

And the more you give, the more you get. How great is that?!

UPDATE: Last week I mentioned that I created a “crowdsourcing” campaign to raise money for my dear friends Mary Cade and Gawain Mainwaring to help offset the costs related to Gawain’s cancer treatment. We crossed the $20,000 mark after only 4 days!

Mary Cade shared that Gawain has visibly relaxed knowing that the financial burdens are fewer now than they were a week ago. I especially love that she said that they feel the support “on a cellular level.”

Last week I shared with you my dream of creating a powerful example of hope and healing. Well, now that we’ve come together for a great cause, that dream is manifesting!

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When you think it’s hopeless, it’s time to create a miracle. (powerful evidence inside!)

October 14, 2014

The photo to the right is me with my dear friend, Mary Cade, and her adorable daughter, Emeryn. You’ll find out more about them below, but first a little background for readers that are new to the Midwife for Your Life community. For many years I’ve asked family, friends, and dear readers to give to […]

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My Mindset Retreat Breakthroughs (+ lots of great pics!)

October 7, 2014

Wow! There were SO many wonderful things that happened in the last week, but one of the best parts was that I got to spend it in gorgeous, sunny Florida with Doug. It was the first time we’d had a week away with just the two of us since Griffin was born over 9 years […]

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Use Your Emotional Guidance System to Feel Great AND Accomplish Great Things

September 30, 2014

The photo captures Griffin and two of his best friends after a “movie making” play date (that’s a Flip video camera in Marley’s hand). Marley has been one of Griffin’s best friends since Kindergarten (Jackson became a BFF when he joined Griffin’s class last year), and I honestly can’t believe how much these kids have […]

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Leap Before You Look and other surprising keys to success

September 23, 2014

The 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 […]

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How to Take “Leap and the Net Will Appear” from Cliché to Reality

September 16, 2014

I 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 […]

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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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