Stacey

kicking self doubt to the curb

Last week was Griffin’s Spring Break and we joyfully spent it learning to surf!

I continue to be blown away by Griffin’s courage – and how his infectious love of learning something new compels me to try things I never thought I would do.

In the last two months I learned to ski and surf, and I completed a full marathon and I decided to leave my career as a nurse-midwife. I’m not sure what will happen in the next few months to top those accomplishments, but I know Griffin will have a few ideas!

Did you know that we, as human beings, are wired to feel our most satisfied when we’re engaged in activities that are novel and challenging? If you throw in service to others, you have a great recipe for a very happy and meaningful life.

This week I’d like to challenge you to commit to taking action on one thing that engages at least two of the three aspects (novelty, challenge and/or service).

For most people, self-doubt holds them back from doing this kind of thing more often.

But here’s the thing: Helen Keller once said, “We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world.”

And since there are plenty of other things besides joy in our lives, we can all learn to be brave and patient.

So if we try, we can remember our own past bravery as a way to help us feel more courageous in the present.

Sometimes, though, when we look back on our life, we can only remember the times things didn’t work out. And those memories can get in the way of choosing to take brave and decisive action in the direction of a more meaningful, satisfying, and happy life today.

We say to ourselves: Things went wrong in the past, what if things go wrong again?

Things haven’t always worked out great for me. A little over a decade ago, when I returned from Mexico after working with Doctors Without Borders, I had no job waiting for me. My husband wasn’t working, and we had used up all of our savings.

As soon as I got back to the States I applied for every job in the nursing field I could find – even jobs that were way below my level of expertise (and former earnings). I went 2 months before I received a job offer.

And the job I was offered? As a community health nurse. It would have required working 5 days a week, with very little time involved in actual patient care because it required a lot of travel and paperwork.

I knew I needed the income, but when the county agency offered me the position, I just couldn’t accept it. Every fiber of my being knew that I would be miserable at that job. I thanked the nurse manager but declined the offer, hung up the phone, and BURST into tears.

I felt cursed by the warnings of my father and so many well-meaning others who had told me that I was foolish for quitting my good job to take a volunteer position in Mexico, and that I was crazy to think that I could find an even better job on my return.

All that is to say that I am familiar with the demons of grief, anxiety, self-doubt and despair. Very familiar.

kicking self doubt to the curb

My leaps of faith and acts of bravery haven’t always worked out exactly the way I had hoped. In fact they often found me down on my knees in despair asking God how I could have been brought this far to fail.

But here’s the thing: Another month after that “down on my knees” dark place, I got my dream job, working as a nurse-midwife for a busy hospital-based birthing center that cares for predominantly Latina patients – working 24 hours a week for more pay than I made working 50-60 hours a week in my former midwifery position.

I worked that job happily for 11 years before I decided that it was time to leave. And that’s where you find me today.

And, yes, after quitting that job and leaving behind the career that has defined me for the last 20 years, I know I’m taking another HUGE leap of faith – but this time I have no doubt I will land in an even better place.

So there you have it: my experience has not always been filled with bright sunshine and frolicking unicorns. And yet, when I finally stopped fighting the questions and the doubts and the fears and allowed myself to simply be sad or confused, I realized that everything actually was fine.

Here’s what I want you to know:  As soon as I accept that everything is really fine, I find the energy to focus on what I am doing and – most importantly – how I am doing it. I imagine what would be my perfect situation, and then I let myself feel the happy expansive feeling of stepping into it.

When I let go of needing to control, or even worry about, the outcome, I always find creative solutions to meet my needs.

For example, the hospital job I’ve had for the last 11 years is in a city over 80 miles from where I live – and at first I had dismissed it as too far away. But when I realized it actually met all of my needs, the commute was easy.

One of the many benefits of being almost 45 is that I have had many opportunities to overcome my self-doubt, and every time I have thrived because of it. Now it seems practically impossible for me to give in to my self-doubt and fear. I just can’t seem to do it.

Becoming brave is like exercising a muscle – the more you flex your “courage muscles” by taking brave actions, the braver you become. You start by taking decisive action in the direction of your dreams, and soon you’re happier than you’ve ever been. You keep exercising your bravery and patience, and your life just gets better and better.

Getting started, getting that momentum going, can be tough. So here’s how to begin: Take a new class, or work with a new coach (like me!), and pretty soon you’ll find yourself feeling more and more confident in your ability to do novel and challenging things.

You’ll trust in yourself and your God-given purpose – and that’s everything.

Pretty soon you’ll be taking action that will surprise – and then inspire! – your friends and family.

The best part is that you will find yourself enjoying a truly happy, meaningful and satisfying life. A life you couldn’t have imagined for yourself only a little while before.

If you’d love kick your self-doubt to the curb and enjoy a more courageous and FABULOUS life, my completely complimentary Discover Your Purpose Strategy Session is a perfect first step. Find out more and sign up by clicking here

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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!

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Terrified of Quitting Your Job? I’m Leaving My Career.

April 8, 2014

A 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 […]

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How do you know your dream is worth the work?

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How to Excuse-Proof Your Life

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An Open Call for All Pain Bodies

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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. […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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