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where do you find the courage?

author visit

The picture to the right is of Doug from his very first author visit at a school!

As a first-time author, he was very excited by the prospect of talking about his book with kids who were his ideal readers.

But yet he worried, “What if I bomb? What if I’m boring? What if I just don’t know what I’m doing, and everyone — the teachers, the kids, the administrators — gets restless?”

Of course I told him he had nothing to worry about, and I’m happy to say that he was thrilled with the reception he received.

The kids had bunches of interesting (and observant) questions, and since the librarian had read parts of Knight to some of them, they were up on many of the details of the plot and ready to hear more.

That night Doug told me that he was going to sleep with the feeling of having realized a long-held dream. And it was pretty great.

What about you? Are you living your dream? Or do you feel like you’re taking steady steps toward your dreams?

If not, you’re probably being held back by the same kinds of “What if I fail?” fears and doubts that Doug was having.

Do you wish you could find the courage to do what you really feel called to do?

Are you holding onto a dream or goal that feels too big or scary to act on?

Do you watch other people accomplish amazing things and wonder if it will ever be your time?

When I quit my lucrative job and moved to Mexico to volunteer with Doctors Without Borders to provide health care to isolated, indigenous communities, most people thought it was a very brave (if not a little crazy) thing to do.

courageAnd they were right. It was. (That’s crazy, courageous me in the photo to the right!)

But what looked like a giant act of bravery (and a tiny bit of insanity) from me was really just the culmination of a series of small courageous choices, the kind of choices anyone could make on any day of the week.

I talk with many women who want to make really big changes in their lives, but they just don’t take the necessary steps.

Some might say it’s low self-esteem — they just don’t believe in themselves enough to make those big changes, but I beg to differ. I think it’s more that they haven’t practiced taking even small risks. They haven’t built up their “courage” muscles.

I think it’s taking small daily steps that stretch us out of our comfort zone that ultimately make the big leaps into our dreams possible.

Research shows that human beings are wired for novelty and challenge. Put more simply, people are happiest when they are doing something new and difficult.

This shouldn’t be a surprise: Who are among the happiest people on the planet?

Kids, right? And it’s not because that they don’t have “adult” responsibilities, it’s because they are great at having new and challenging experiences.

Why is it that when we get older, we no longer embrace novelty and challenge?

Babies will take their first tentative steps, fall down, and get right back up again a hundred times before they learn to walk. An adult tries something new, fails once, and thinks, “Oh, well. I guess I wasn’t meant to do that.”

And as a result, that adult stays feeling stuck and small.

Want to feel better about yourself? Get used to the idea that the things you really want are hard to achieve.

Want to move forward? Embrace the fact that you will fail a hundred times before you succeed.

Your best bet is to learn to look forward to a long slog through many, many mistakes, multiple defeats and disappointments before you reach your goal.

In the end, bravery can be as much about desire as it is about overcoming some particular fear. It’s as much about accepting the obstacles in your path as it is about steeling yourself to overcome them.

If you’d like to talk about the exact steps to take to cultivate the courage required to live your dreams, I encourage you to sign up for a completely complementary Live on Purpose Discovery Session with me. Find a time that works for you here.

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!

The Best Escape from Stress

connectionLast week my parents came into town for dinner and my dad regaled us with some of his best stories (like winning the “state-wide tether ball championship” when he was about Griffin’s age).

It truly made my heart expand at least 3 sizes to see Griffin and my dad connect at such a meaningful level. And it made me appreciate even more the slower pace of summer, which seems to make moments of connection like these more likely.

And boy, are we savoring the last moments of summer – Griffin goes back to school (in the 6th grade no less) next week!

Do you ever feel this way? That life is generally so busy, busy, busy that when you find that little pocket of slowness you just want to stay there forever?

Of course, we can’t ever stay in any one place forever, but this blog post shares how you can stay in a place of peace and calm.

Even better, once you learn that, you can figure out how to string together more and more moments so that you feel more centered and present much more of the time.

There is a popular interpretation of ancient Eastern wisdom on meditation that, in my understanding, gets things turned totally upside down.

This popular view says that meditation helps us cultivate a state of “no thought” and this is desirable because we shouldn’t have strong feelings.

We should be “Zen” or “peaceful” – and those words are used as if they were synonyms for “blasé” or “unaffected.”

But what I like most about meditation is that it helps me realize that my thoughts are there, that they come in an endless murmuring stream, and that this stream flows on outside of my essential self. In other words, meditation gives me an opportunity to notice that I am not my thoughts.

So I think of meditation as a time to develop a relationship with my thoughts, and to learn that they no longer have the power to define me.

Through meditation, I’ve also learned that I get to choose my response to the self-critical thoughts that “think themselves,” and that makes all the difference between having a bad day and having a satisfying day.

escape from stressFinally, meditation for me is also the practice of non-attachment, and non-attachment helps me be clear and present with whatever arises, including my fears and doubts.

I love what Susan Piver said about non-attachment:

“Non-attachment doesn’t mean not feeling things or always being blasé. It means feeling everything while not attributing permanent status to anything.”

Try this exercise sometime: become aware of any thought or feeling you’re having at this moment and I bet you’ll notice pretty quickly that you can’t hold on to it.

Another thought (or 10!) will vie for its place and eventually win.

A feeling of bliss will change to boredom. A feeling of discomfort will change to ease.

A burning anger will change to regret, and eventually, if we are truly grounded and present, to forgiveness.

No one knows exactly how or when the thought of this moment will change. But it will change.

So meditation practice is the practice of meeting each of your feelings without trying to hold onto it (Oh, this feels good, I want to stay with this one) or trying to change it (Ugh, awful, I want to get rid of this one).

Meditation is the practice of simply letting them be.

Until they change or pass. And they all change or pass eventually.

As Rumi wrote:

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

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!

The big secret to deciding how much is enough

August 11, 2015

Last week I threw a big party to celebrate the launch of Doug’s novel, Tales of a Fifth Grade Knight. It was so amazing to share this momentous occasion with so many of our family and friends – I think the only night that might rival it for over-the-top joy and merriment was our wedding!

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Proof that you can make money doing what you love (+ Doug’s book release!)

August 4, 2015

The photo to the right shows Doug and Griffin celebrating the release of his first novel, Tales of a Fifth Grade Knight!! If you want to find out more and buy the book (and I hope you will!), you can go here: http://tinyurl.com/5thgradeknight (Amazon) or here: http://bit.ly/1He2DjD (Capstone Press - Doug's publisher). This is such

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how to manifest what you want with ease (powerful brain science + loa)

July 28, 2015

The photo to the right shows a highlight from our time with Juan, our Spanish exchange student (and Griffin’s surrogate big brother). We rented a pontoon boat and spent a full day out on the gorgeous Lake Jocassee – jumping off cliffs, swimming under waterfalls, and playing football on a beach made from limestone (complete

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How I'm making the most of the summer - and you can too!

July 21, 2015

The photo shows Griffin and Juan, a Spanish exchange student we’re hosting, before playing an epic soccer game. We had never hosted a foreign student before, but when Juan’s program reached out to us and told us that Juan’s dream was to live the “American Lifestyle,” Griffin was adamant about helping him achieve his dream.

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if you’re paralyzed with fear, it’s a good sign

July 14, 2015

The photo shows Griffin reunited with his camp buddies! Last year Griffin went to Camp Gwynn Valley (an overnight camp in our gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains) for 5 days and loved it so much that he conspired with these friends to go back this year for 10 days. I’ve never been away from Griffin for

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My new TEDx Talk!

July 7, 2015

The photo shows a highlight from our annual “off-the-grid” camping adventure – releasing Chinese Lanterns in honor of the Fourth of July – Independence Day in the U.S., or “Fireworks Day,” as our young Irish neighbor has it! We checked items off our “Family-Favorites Summer Bucket List" at a prodigious rate last week – camping,

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What it really takes to succeed (and you've got it)

June 30, 2015

That’s a photo of my family celebrating my dad’s 73rd birthday. When I made reservations at his favorite restaurant, I mentioned to the host that we’d be celebrating this momentous occasion. When the host greeted us he whispered to me that he had been expecting an “old man” to show up and my dad, with

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Ready to give up? Read this first.

June 23, 2015

That’s Griffin with some of his BFF’s at the pool celebrating after they passed the deep-water test! As you may know, I’m a big fan of celebrating accomplishments – big and small – and I believe it’s one of the keys to being happy and successful. Too often people just rush from completing one task

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