When I was in my 20′s, 30′s and even up until my 50′s I chose freedom…I chose life…I chose puma courage many times even though I it meant a cut in salary. I’m a baby boomer and have often proudly reflected on my “hippie days” but lately things like health insurance have been like a ball and chain, holding me back from letting my artist live
I had the privilege of actually meeting Tama at my church last year. The artist within swelled. I choose passion. I choose to believe in a compassionate, creative God and a strength, direction, and security I can’t even imagine… but even though I have written 100′s of articles, taught children for 10 years and trained adults for years; sold widgets to both blue collar and B2B for over 20 years….I can’t find my dance floor.
Couldn’t have been more timely. Thank you so much.
I was in church today at Unity Church of Overland Park, and found myself moved beyond comprehension by your message. Throughout the hour, I found myself squeezing my husband’s hand as every story of your personal history unfolded, finding strange similarities in almost each one. No, I did not graduate from Harvard Law, but earlier this year I felt something calling me. I knew there was something that I was supposed to do but I just couldn’t put my finger on what it was. I prayed and meditated, prayed and meditated, and prayed and meditated some more and my answer was the same as the first one you recieved; Write poetry! To which I had about the same response as you did. “What the hell? Doens’t God know I have bills to pay and two children to feed?” I decided to do it anyway, which led to a blog about balancing mind, body, and spirit, which led to me saying to my husband one evening, “I think I am writing a book.”
You spoke today about moments where you are faced with a decision, to follow your inner voice- follow love, or follow fear. Unknowingly I have been dealing with that myself the last few days. Your lesson today was a whisper to my soul to keep going, that I am on the right path, that even though I know nothing about this industry, that I will be led, and I can trust my own inner guidance. I rushed home and googled you, as any 30 year old would do, and was led to your blog, which was yet another whisper to my soul. Thank you for your words and for your Spirit. It would truly mean the world to me if you checked out my site. My heart and mind are focused back on gazing at the stars above, knowing that the Divine knows what I may not, that Spirit sees what I cannot see, and that love will create a path for me that will absolutely blow my mind! Thank you!
Rhonda Britten is the author of the bestselling books “Fearless Living” (translated into 12 languages) and her latest, “Fearless Loving: 8 Simple Truths That Will Change the Way You Date, Mate and Relate.”
As the founder of the Fearless Living Institute, she holds public workshops, faciliates in corporations and trains Coaches to become experts in fear. On TV she is the Life Doctor on a reality show called, “Help Me Rhonda” in the UK and is a regular on the Montel Williams Show in the US. Rhonda has been profiled in magazines, newspapers and on radio worldwide. For more information: visit: www.FearlessLiving.org
1. Tell us about a time when you were in fear about your creative career journey and you didn’t think it would go anywhere…
Pre-Fearless Living there were many times I felt like I was spinning my Wheels and not getting anywhere. I questioned every decision I made and every step I took. Since creating the Fearless Living Program, fear no longer holds me back instead it has become an affirmation of my growth. When fear arises, now I just acknowledge myself for risking and risk! I no longer have a gigantic debate with myself about “why” I am doing something. I just do it and know that it will lead me somewhere if I listen closely to the voice of freedom.
2. Tell us about a time when you were feeling confident about your creative career journey and you absolutely knew you were going to be okay….
Almost daily I have an opportunity to practice being true to myself and having trust in my path. Yesterday my literary agent left and went to another agency. Trust! The day before I received a contract from a TV show I am excited about but the contract asked for things I couldn’t give. Trust! My Office Manager gave her notice last week. Trust! Sometimes I don’t know what to write…but I write anyway. Trust!
I have an underlying belief that if I stay true to my path while being true to myself, the greatest good will transpire. So do I question, sure…but never for long. I know the truth. We are all on a path that will lead us to discovery who we really are. We don’t have to force it or wake up or push it. It is happening whether we know it or not. We must just keep walking. And the process itself builds my faith, confidence and contiinues to give me the courage to do what I must do without complaint, excuses or regret. Basically, when you are in freedom there is no such thing as a writers block or a “wrong” choice.
3. How did you discover your passion?
My passion discovered me and I was just awake enough to listen and catch it. I have a saying, “Invest in the life you have to get the life you want.” And I invested…in everything. And finally, one day my investment matched my purpose and my passion was ignited. I am a passionate person because I have discovered that I do have value and am worthwhile therefore, I give myself permission moment-by-moment to share myself without attaching to whether others agree with me. When you share yourself each moment, passion is inevitable.
Hello Precious Everyone,
You know me, I’m usually the one who wants to support your brightest dreams–and also talk about the challenges of transition. But this time, I just want to support your funny bone! Doing my part to raise the cheer. Here’s a free, “spoofy” kind of “Stress Relief Meditation from My Jewish Mother” that I recorded. It’s about 4 minutes, but don’t worry, the guilt should last much longer…
Happy Holidays to All of You. You are very LOVED.
With my Love and Blessings,
We live in a society where only “big success” is acknowledged. We don’t care about the small steps. We don’t hear about the stumbles. Yet it takes outrageous courage to be in the middle of your journey. The middle is where it’s at, baby.
Maybe you’re growing a new business, writing the book of your dreams, or healing from a necessary divorce. These are the times when alligators are nipping at your raw feet, the rain keeps beating down, the moon is fading, your mother is calling, and you wonder if you are going to age in poverty with hopes that never came true. Yep, these are the moments that need celebration.
These are the times we need applause and ribbons and massive hot fudge sundaes and witnesses to our magnificence. These are the times we must love ourselves through the hunger and exhaustion. These are the times when we must celebrate our courage, the power, belief, and stubborn pluck it demands to just keep lurching and wobbling forward.
Please give yourself the benefit of true perspective. Do not reject yourself for “not being there yet,” wherever that great “there” is for you. You are on the path. You are on the path. You are on the path. The path begins wherever you are, when you embrace your life with honesty, patience, and compassion.
Don’t join that dismal bandwagon of thieves, those silly addle-brained fools in the streets who only believe in the gods of People magazine, or the ones who believe that it’s more successful to just tack things together than to be naked on the path of pursuing your truth. Don’t accept the measurements of those who uphold flawed and obsolete standards. Do not borrow knowledge from the ones who do not dare. The ones who dare—absolutely know the pain of being in the middle of things. If you’re life is unsettled, imperfect, unpredictable, wild at the core, stuck, or yet to “come together,” congratulations. You’re one of the awakening tribe. You’re in the stream of being holy alive.
I spent 12 plus years writing This Time I Dance! Creating the Work You Love, without an agent, publisher, or writing mentor in sight. I spent years feeling bad because I wasn’t done with it. I watched others whiz by in their perfect neat lives, crisp definitions, and big fat paychecks and I felt foolish, foolish because I was in the middle of things. I faced self-doubt every day, but I chose self-love in the end. I decided to stay true to myself even if that looked as though I would walk for years through the deep blue sea. I wanted to follow my own instincts, hold my own hand, and see where that led me in the end. It’s led me here, a time in my life where I am so unbelievably grateful for all those essential “middle moments,” all those experiences that shaped me, fed me, grew me, and made me what I am—and what I have always been meant to be. In This Time I Dance!, I said, “It takes a hero’s journey to create a hero,” and I’ll say it again. Those middle moments are our ashrams, boot camps, graduate schools, and launch pads. They are anything but useless, empty, or ordinary.
The middle of things is where change takes place, where the great big barge of how things have always been turns around in the ocean and goes a new way. It’s slower than a long red light, but it doesn’t take place forever.
The real heroes are in the middle of things, sweating in the middle of the night alone, doubting the future, crying the tears of self-doubt, burning holes in the ground with their mad desire to flee. Celebrate these ones, the ones who are making choices right now that others will not see. Celebrate these ones who dare to make uncelebrated choices. Celebrate yourself, right now as though you are the biggest winner of all time, because you are dear one, you are. You are sticking with the wonderful and terrible confusion of creating an authentic life.
Bestselling author Pema Chodron, a beloved Buddhist nun, says, “To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again.” And Deepak Chopra, tells us to look at times of process as “pure potentiality.” I think “pure potentiality” sounds like a destination spa resort, and so much zestier than a “big fat zero,” or “swamp.” I suggest you try on language like that that empowers you. Remember, those “pure potentiality” times are when we make our life’s most significant choices. It’s where we craft, envision, and realize our future.
This month I’d love you to truly celebrate the experience of being in the middle of things. Write yourself a letter of congratulations or buy yourself a small token of appreciation at this juncture, a totem of support. While you’re at it, celebrate someone else who is in the middle of their evolving lives as well. We all know someone in the thick of a break up, a layoff, an illness, or someone who had their manuscript rejected or their contract cancelled, someone whose circumstances are pushing them to a new and uncomfortable edge of being.
Let’s clap for all the winners, now, the winners who are on their way, the winners who are not yet recognized, the winners who are walking through the desert, the winners who are allowing themselves to win at last, and those who are even boldly allowing themselves to “lose,” because they know they will never lose by staying true to their souls.
I want you to know that I celebrate you all in my heart. I am so moved by your dogged steps forward, your hungry self-inquiry, your shaky new belief in possibilities and your emerging commitment to your own inspired life. You are the brave ones, the alive ones, the ones who deserve medals right now.
Yours in the dance,
When we are on the path of creating the work and life we love, we will encounter pain. That’s a given. Yes, we will follow our bliss, and then rejection, fear, and confusion will find out where we live. How we deal with the pain will determine our success and joy. But most of us don’t love dealing with pain.
Recently, I had a fit of insecurity, a bout of self-comparison, and then a melt down. It’s the same sorry broken record that plays again. I don’t want this pain to return. It has come so many times to my house and broken the dishes and kicked in the walls. But when it comes I feel as though I have little say. All my years of therapy and spiritual growth, and even teaching, seem like postcards from a foreign land. I know that this “pain is optional.” But in the moment, it’s the only dish on the menu.
Ironically, I am at a beautiful retreat center when this experience happens. There are ongoing workshops on meditation and healing taking place. I pause by a still pond. Barefoot meditators walk by me, smiling with peace. I want to trip them as they pass. I am not well, I tell you.
Heal my mind, I pray to any God who will listen. Take these thoughts away. I say the words, begging and demanding. I stomp my foot like a princess calling upon the powers of the heavens as though they are disobedient maid servants. Nothing happens. Evidently, I cannot even pray right in this pain.
“Try focusing on something positive,” I demand of myself. It’s almost embarrassing how much good there is in my life, and how I choose to lie down on a bed of nails instead. Seeing this makes me feel worse. There are children starving in Africa, and they’re probably singing, says my suddenly “spiritual” inner critic. Now I’m in more pain, thinking how wrong it is to be in pain.
That night, I talk to Nancy, a woman I have just met. She is a healer by trade. But more than that, she is a healer by the way she looks at me. Her face is as open as a window in springtime and her eyes have seen it all, yet look at me with burning interest. I feel the air slow down around her. I swear she is charming the molecules into sacred space. I start telling her about my situation, strategically inserting only the details that validate my cause, and make me look pretty good, not at all like the ragged and hostile character at her table. I ask her how to deal with the pain of the situation.
I am hoping she will give me some mantra or insight to make it instantly disappear. I am hoping she has some kind of talisman tucked up her sleeve. I am hoping she will say something to prop up my wounded, terrified ego, maybe something like— you’re obviously a rock star who deserves better treatment. Or better yet, here let me waive my magic wand, and don’t worry, just for you, I’ll waive my fee. Or worst case scenario, but still fine with me, I expect her to say, I know a woman who can tell you which mother in which past life did this to you. I know a guru, a therapist, a lobotomist, a drug dealer, I’ll get you connected. But she says none of those things. She says something I am not expecting. When I ask her “What should I do?”–she says quietly, “I guess there is nothing to do— but feel the pain.”
Part of me wants to say, “Come, again?”
But the wise part of me, the one that instantaneously recognizes truth, wants to giggle and toss jellybeans at her feet. That part understands and claps its hands.
“Feel the pain,” she says, and she says it with the kindness of a thousand years like water that has loved a jagged rock and smoothed it into shining. Her healer’s voice surrounds me with spaciousness, as though she can wait forever for me to take in this message.
I feel her recognize my sorrow and suddenly I recognize it–and I recognize that it’s okay to feel sorrow. I don’t need to deny it or make it wrong or try to sweep it off my doorstep and scrub away its shadow. The moment she says “feel the pain,” I feel as though the broken sorrows of the whole world are laid before me, the raw hearts of everyone, everywhere, meeting me in this single moment with knowing. Somehow we’re all in this together, and I would not make them wrong for anything–and, finally, I do not make myself wrong either.
This is what whispers to me in her words: stop running and come in out of the rain. Wrap your little girl in a warm woolen blanket. Let’s put on a pot of soup. Forgive your ego, your frightened one for its tirade, for demanding the moon as proof of being loved, for needing things to be otherwise, for taking offense because the wind blew a certain way—not your way. Take those tight shoes off. Why, you’ve been running away from your truth for so long, you must be tired. Here, let’s soak those feet in lavender oil.
The moment Nancy said, “feel the pain,” I didn’t feel lonely or separate from my life anymore. I felt as though I could be in this exact moment, in this exact state of mind. I felt as though she was asking me to allow God, the Eternal Lover of the Present Moment, back into my heart. I felt as though she was reminding me of my Real Nature, a presence so beautiful and vast, it could sit with pain of any sort, frustration, anger, betrayal, and welcome every wasp, spider, or aphid into the garden. She was asking me to give myself over to the medicine and instruction of this moment. Suddenly I realized I didn’t need Spirit to take away the pain. I only wanted Spirit to sit with me while I felt the pain. I needed to sit with this part of myself. I needed to hear her story, not to fix it, or agree with it, push it away, or try to change the circumstances that caused it. I needed to sit with this frightened part of myself. She needed to be heard. She would know how to go forward from there.
In the past, I have envisioned the Presence of Love sitting down by my side. It’s the Holy Spirit, Jesus, Buddha, the Hebrew Shekina, or the spirit of ten thousand sequoia trees. Strong Love sits beside me. Strong Love sits behind me, before me and above me and below me. Strong Love can contain anything. Strong Love can absorb the sting. Strong Love doesn’t want to be anywhere else.
In the end, pain opened my heart to myself. It’s always that way. I feel the love of the Universe when I feel my own love. I feel that love when I stop running away from any part of myself or any experience I am having. I am willing to feel the pain. I am wiling to feel my love. I am willing to feel my life.
This month I invite you to sit with yourself in the middle of a feeling that is uncomfortable. Feel the pain. I hope you can hear me whisper this to you, with the love of the ages in my voice, a strength and gentleness that wraps around you. I have faith in your ability to heal yourself. I have faith in your ability to contain and absorb and dance with the truth of exactly where you find yourself in this moment. I have faith in all of us.
With my love and blessings,
I talked to a woman who had been very gifted in music, but who hadn’t pursued it as an adult. “I am afraid of failing,” she said, but as we talked further, she admitted in the quiet tones of held back truth, that she felt like a failure now. She felt tired and angry, out of sorts with her life. I don’t blame her. It takes more effort to create a life you don’t want than to create the life you crave.
An unused gift is a keg of dynamite. It’s dangerous. It leaks out and begins to poison you. It haunts your cells with a hoarse song, “use me or die, use me or die.” Your gifts are powerful energy sources. It takes so much energy to hold back life. It hurts to choose smallness. It hurts to let yourself down in secret ways, muffling the cries that no one else hears. It hurts to resist the evolutionary instinct within you to grow, express, go beyond survival and thrive, and stake your one true place upon this planet.
Brother David Stendl Ross said “The answer to exhaustion is not rest. It’s wholeheartedness.” Doesn’t that make you sit up straight or want to volunteer to be put on active duty in your life? I know it’s true. After I left a high paced legal career, I spent a year napping, and wandering in my own home like a small child lost at the mall. I’d keep seeing familiar things, but I couldn’t find any bearing. I felt exhausted and burdened and overwhelmed. Finally, I realized that I was “resting” in order to avoid myself. I wasn’t exhausted by my efforts in life, but by my lack of efforts – my lack of dedication to do the things that mattered most to me.
An unused gift (or one you don’t take all the way to harvest) will quietly annihilate your life. I think it’s a national threat. I think the Surgeon General should put it up there with smoking cigarettes, asbestos, uranium, and, maybe, mean small-spirited people who run for office. It’s not that you’ll keel over because you didn’t start taking photographs or take the trip you always wanted to take. But you will walk off kilter. Your heart will beat with labor as though it has to pick up an extra thousand pounds. Your hair may be brittle and your voice will crack when you say your name. There is something unrighteous about not singing your song, doing what you came here to do. And it can change this minute, this very second. You can choose to love yourself this way.
I urge you to do what you love and share it, now. Speak for free about a cause you believe in. Paint cards and give them to someone. Get out of the mentality that it has to end up in a gallery or you have to get paid a certain amount of money for it to beworth it. You are worth so much more than that kind of limited thinking. Besides, you can’t imagine the capacities, passports, and shooting stars you deny yourself by withholding your love.
I remember speaking one night at a small church in Minneapolis. I led a meditation, a spontaneous prayer. It felt right, as though a melody and harmony came together in a song I didn’t know I would sing. Let’s face it, I’m a Jewish girl from Brooklyn, so this didn’t seem the kind of thing I would spread on my bagel, so to speak. Not only that, but I’m a finely tuned logical instrument trained at Harvard Law School, so this spiritual, surrender, go into the big union-fest kind of thing wasn’t originally on my tour itinerary. But the experience was bigger than my thoughts about myself. The feeling was definitive, even if I had no definition. “I will do this,” I heard myself say in the inner sanctum of my being. “I will say yes.” I knew I was saying yes to leading, serving, honoring this small voice within me, a voice that used a different alphabet and octave of possibility, and spelled things out in whole new ways. It made no sense to my “practical” self. There was no money to be had here, no fame or recognition. There was nothing I’d submit to my alumni magazine in a billion years or share at a networking group or even a backyard barbecue.
Still, I felt as though I was saying yes to bigger questions. I was saying yes to a larger game. I didn’t know what I was saying yes to, but the act of saying yes, felt like love of a higher order. I felt as though Spirit was asking me, will you play for my Team? Yes, maybe, I should have asked about the benefits package, but I was teeming with benefits at the time, and feeling something I’d never want to retire from. The questions spread through my cells: Will you trust this goodness? Will you spread light? Will you follow your guidance and ignore the fears and instructions of the world? Will you bless everyone you can by doing what you love? I said yes, then, and I still do.
Oh and I’ll tell you this. There are so many gifts that come from doing what you love. It’s a joke to me that people think they will be poor by following something infinite, invincible, and alive within them. I want to tell them about the increased energy, immunity, clarity and peace. I want to tell them about the ridiculous synchronicities and elves and extra cherries in their cherry bowl. I want to reassure them that they’ll shine in colors invisible to the human eye, but not to the human heart; and it’s inevitable that everyone wants to hire someone who glows.
Mostly I want to tell them about the love. It’s a love that has a texture and a depth and a fragrance like nothing else. It’s a love that makes the axis of the earth finally tilt in your direction. It’s a love that makes all things possible, and nothing necessary. Of course, that love is intangible, but bear in mind that every good thing on this planet started with a delicate desire and a great amount of love. Also, you may think love is intangible, as in insubstantial, but let me say this. No tangible item, income or substance, nothing in this whole world or universe, will ever make up for its absence.
Please take care of your energy. I am amazed at how much money we will pump into taking care of our bodies, while we casually and consciously ignore our souls. I watch people go on health kicks. They drink wheat grass for God’s sake, while refusing to play the piano or read about starting a yoga studio, or whatever else they long to do. Why pop a thousand vitamins and supplements if you’re swallowing poison every night? It’s poison to tolerate the boredom, the loneliness, and the relentless haunting. When you do what you love, the loneliness ends. A part of yourself holds and loves you as you have never been loved before.
I’m not saying you have to quit your job or move to New York City to dance on Broadway. Start small, because believe me, there are no small steps. Every step you take to honor your dreams is huge. Take 10 minutes and sing, write, brainstorm about your vision or ideal business, meditate, or journal or do the one thing you know would make all the difference to you to do. You know what it is. Start this very second. Or do what it takes to kick start yourself. Go on a weekend retreat. Go to the ends of the earth. Hire a coach, a therapist , a lion tamer or a medicine man or anyone who will tie you down to the mast of your ship, and help you ignore the Sirens, if that’s what it takes. Please do whatever it takes to be wholehearted. Save your life and transport it, all at the same time, in this lifetime.
An unused gift is a keg of dynamite. It can blow up your life. But if you use it wisely, it can blast through limitations. It can blast through dimensions and galaxies. It can blast through resistance, guilt, doubts, fears, and the sad illusion that you ever had to struggle or be adrift in any way. It can be a blast.
(Join Me at the Omega Institute August 13-15 for Unleashing Your Calling: Create the Work and Life You Love! Or again at Kripalu in the Berkshire Mountains during leaf changing season, October 11-15)
Love and blessings,
Dear Brilliant Ones, Fans + Passion-seekers,
I want to live in a world where everyone is doing the work they’re meant to do.
There are millions of people in this world that feel depressed because they have unlived or half-lived dreams within them. They may not believe they can find a passion or that they can thrive in the love they want to bring this world. I know that there is untapped brilliance in each of us: songs, books, cures, environmental sustainability, and the end of hunger, prejudice and other ills. I want to help inspire and support others in living their vision — which can help many others in the world. I believe it’s time for an Inspired Revolution. I know there is another way to work and live. I am living it.
I’ve been privileged to reach many thousands with my first book This Time I Dance! Creating the Work You Love. I am humbled and awed by the profound changes readers tell me they’ve made. I’ve also met many courageous souls at my retreats and workshops.
On August 30th I am launching a new book Inspired & Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in your Life’s Work! (Tarcher/Penguin) I am thrilled it has already been praised and endorsed by Michael Beckwith, Jack Canfield, Marci Shimoff, Kris Carr, SARK, and many others. One Spirit Book Club has just licensed it as well. In the weeks to come, I’ll tell you more about the book.
But right now, I’m reaching out to you to see if you’d like to join me in this Inspired Revolution. I believe in grass roots love and energy. Here’s my undertaking: I am putting myself on the road, to talk at bookstores, colleges, spiritual centers, business groups, etc. to help people stay in touch with their dearest dreams, their fire, the reason they’re here. I’m not just trying to sell a book. I want to be a voice and a presence for another belief system in this world. I want everyone to know they’re meant to succeed in the work they love. (No, alas, my publisher does not pay for a tour or marketing.)
I would love your help in getting this work into the world. We all have different resources to offer, different vegetables for the stew. You can make a tremendous difference to me, to this work, and to those who have cutting-edge movies to make, yoga studios to open, medical breakthroughs to discover, and need to be inspired to stay with their vision. What would it be like to believe in your dreams, if that was encouraged and supported by the mainstream? It takes a village and a bunch of hearts (and tweets) to get a message into the mainstream—especially a positive message. I’d love your help in any way that feels natural or exciting to you—in getting this work out there. You will know who you are and I am already grateful for you.
Here’s a passage from Inspired & Unstoppable:
“There is nothing wavy gravy about believing in your wildest dreams. Your inspired inner voice is as real as bunions or a bouillon soup. It’s not putting your head in the sand to believe in a higher intelligence than mass consciousness. It’s putting your head in the game. Love is the strongest power on the planet.”
So I’m brainstorming specific requests here, but if none of them fit you, no worries.
Do you know any social media evangelists/PR/marketing people who want to use their talents to set the world on fire?
Do you know media people in Phoenix, Denver, Boulder, Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, BC, San Diego, San Francisco, Chicago, Overland Park, Boston, Mass?These are some of the stops on my upcoming tour. Of course, if you know Oprah or Ellen or anyone in national media, then stop reading this email and call us!
Would you like to make a financial contribution to help sponsor a leg of the initial book tour? Or help create a marketing budget? Or lodging in a city? (Or a 16 oz. Jamba Juice?)
Do you write for (or know someone who writes for) any magazines, major blogs, etc?
Can you bring me in to speak at an organization?
Would you be willing to share an announcement about Inspired & Unstoppable (and some fun special offers) with your email list? groups? tribe? radio or t.v. shows? Let us know; we will get you wording.
Can you “Like” my Facebook Fan page (Tama Kieves) and share it with your loved ones and friends? Forget what you think about facebook. Think daily free coaching, positive tips, honest realizations, and love. We are already an amazing community of artists, visionaries, entrepreneurs, and meaning-seekers, over five thousand strong, sharing our lives. Grow our tribe.
Or maybe you have some great creative ideas for having this message make the difference it can make in this world?
I’ve set up a special email for you.
I would love to hear from you!
While I may not be able to respond to everyone personally, though I’ll try, I am going to thank you in advance for your support and love. I’ve already felt supported by each and every one of you. You signed up to be on my list and receive my newsletter. You are already part of the Inspired Revolution. You are shifting the way you think and choose in this world. I am so grateful for your companionship and dedication.
I leave you with this thought from Inspired & Unstoppable, urging you to follow the power of your love: “We are not ridiculous or fragile for believing in love, strength, and astronomical possibilities…It’s not crazy to dedicate ourselves to a life that feels true, empowering, and exciting. It’s just plain crazy not to.”
With all my love. Inspired and Unstoppably Yours,
P.S. Yes, just in case you’re wondering, it is scary to send out a letter like this. But I don’t want to let my own inhibitions get in the way, of something that could have happened, because I asked
Crossing Thresholds in Life: The Second You Give Yourself the Chance to Succeed, You’ve Already Succeeded.
“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” Muhammed Ali
It always feels vulnerable to make a change in your life—cross a threshold: to open a gluten-free bakery; Date a new person; Leave your accounting firm to hike in Nepal for a year. The lizard-brain within will focus exclusively on what you can lose, and really, how you will surely die. But I want you to know how much power and joy you’ll gain by getting your feet muddy in this life. Sure, you may feel more uncertain even as you head towards greater possibility. But know this: The second you give yourself the chance to succeed– you’ve already succeeded.
I am about to walk through a new door in my life subtly marked “Big Freaking Change.” I am about to put my new book Inspired & Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work! (Tarcher/Penguin) into the world on August 30th.
Let’s just say, that while I want this change in my life more than anything else, I find myself acting like I’m going to a dentist or something, and then wanting to bury these feelings and act like someone who greets change with bubbling toasts of champagne–instead of Advil. People innocently say to me, “You must be so excited about the release of your new book.” I don’t exactly want to tell them that I have a fat gray sewer rat gnawing at my brain. I don’t know, it just doesn’t sound like the kind of thing you’d want to hear from the woman who publishes a book on wildly succeeding in your life’s work.
But, then, I read this passage in Bird by Bird by the best-selling author Anne Lamott and I felt like licking the book cover afterward with gratitude. “The months before a book comes out of the chute are, for most writers, right up there with the worst life has to offer, pretty much like the first twenty minutes of Apocalypse Nowwith Martin Sheen in the hotel room in Saigon, totally decompensating. The waiting and the fantasies, both happy and grim, wear you down.”
Then it all makes sense. As a coach, I work with helping people change their lives all the time. And it’s never the actual situation that grinds them down. It’s the fantasies. When we’re walking into the unknown, it’s like we’re walking into Times Square with a thousand lights, choices, scenarios flashing all at once. In real life, we’ll only have one outcome. But in the fantasies before then, there are hundreds of balls up in the air, and you’re practicing responses to every one of them.
My mind, in fear, goes to extremes. My fantasies are never in the middle.
What if my book doesn’t do well? What if it’s like one of those Roman Candles that shoot high into the coal black night sky but then doesn’t explode or flare in beauty? What if I just fizzle in mid-air for all to see? And then when I’m heartsick and homeless, swilling caseloads of Wild Turkey, ducking my eyes, I’ll hear the whispers, some real, some now coming from the voices that I’ve begun to hear, “Guess, she didn’t ‘wildly succeed in her life’s work.’ ”
Or what if my success spins out of control? What if I get addicted to success, like some sullen opium addict, tuning out intimate friends, crisp orange Autumn days, and eventually even sustenance like Diet Pepsi, because I can no longer tear my eyes away from watching myself on T.V. talk shows, lip syncing my own words like a gold fish? What if I end up being so famous, I can’t leave my house because the paparazzi want to know if I’m writing in my journal again or going back to Walmart today?
And so it goes.
But here’s the real story.
It is so important to move into situations where you feel vulnerable. It’s so healthy to get in over your head, so that your Essence can finally take over. It’s what makes you sweat, pray, scramble through your bag of tricks, and then finally tear through the veils of this life, reach higher, and discover even more of your true potential. It’s an initiation. It’s a birth. And who doesn’t come into the most exquisite moments of really being alive without some hesitation, awe, and palpitation?
It takes courage to be really alive—and chase the light. Life’s thresholds are always laced with wildness. And the unfamiliar will always speed up your heart and magnify your senses. You will never regret the moments you chose to go beyond what you knew before. In the end of days, when the minutes run out on this video adventure game called life, you regret the moments you didn’t.
So, finally, I realize what I need to do. I want to cherish the part of me who is frightened. I need to stop telling myself I “shouldn’t feel this.” Instead, I know I have these feelings because I’m growing, going to my next edge. It’s universal to tremble when you’re daring to go for a success you haven’t had before. It’s easy to feel confident when you’re doing the same things. It takes even more confidence to move into the unknown.
So I come back to what I know to do for myself. I come back to the bedrock and rocket fuel of self-love.
When I first began teaching at an adult education center back in the eighties in a run-down red brick building in an urban neighborhood, I had a ritual of going into the women’s room before I taught a class. I’d be nervous, tight, butterflies in my chest cavity. “I can’t do this,” I’d think to myself. “I don’t know if I can walk into that room and lead a group of paying strangers.”
Then, making absolutely certain that no one else was in any of the stalls, I’d lean into the mirror. I’d look into my eyes, tiny, worried squirrel eyes. I’d say with authority. “I am so proud of you right now. I am so proud of you for trying. I don’t care what happens in that room. This is the only thing that matters. You’re amazing for being afraid and moving forward anyway. You are giving yourself a chance to succeed, a chance to rise. You rock. You’ve already won. Nothing that happens in that classroom can change how I see you right now and forever. I see a warrior. I see a superstar. I see someone who is not letting fear make the decision about what kind of life she can have. ” Since that time, I’ve spoken to audiences of more than a thousand at a time. I’m grateful my younger self talked herself into giving me the chance to become who I am.
So now, at this precious threshold in my life, just weeks before I release my second book into the world, I am doing the same thing again, only not in the women’s room. I am turning the outside world into soft focus, muting the sounds, until I hear my own voice. “I love you Tama for all you are doing,” says the deepest voice I know. “I love you for trembling and being alive and reaching higher and giving yourself this chance in life. It doesn’t matter what happens out there. It matters what happens here, at the threshold. I am watching you soar, precious one, by taking this holy step forward, by giving yourself a chance to experience a life which you have not experienced before. I am your advocate. I am the truth about you. No matter what happens out there, I am your witness. I know what this moment in your life means to you. And I know that you chose to show up. You chose electricity instead of habit. I have a little secret for you. You’re already on the other side.
Welcome, to an amazing new life. You made it.”
So, maybe there’s a threshold you’re about to cross in your life. It may be one you’ve chosen consciously or one you did not choose consciously. I’d suggest deciding the outcome right now. Decide to side with yourself, no matter what. Maybe, just like grooms carry their brides across the threshold, you will decide to carry yourself. Write yourself a love note at this juncture. Talk to the mirror. Seeing your own courage and grace is the only true success there is. It’s what you really crave. And you can have it right now. The world is not as scary when you’re walking forward with self-love.