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.
We live in a left-brained, results-oriented commercially-minded world. We also live in a world that is largely unhappy. Many want to get everything squared away in their lives, before they take delight. Still something in all of us wants to break free now, wants to yell at the top of a mountain, and step out of ordinary time into the wonder of alive-time.
That desire to “get squared away,” and accomplish goals may come from the conditioning to get, get, get. Yet every spiritual text tells us it’s in the giving that we receive.
Creative people who follow their passions are happy people. Some may not own fancy cars or estates, though others do. Yet here’s the payoff. You will never see that kind of sloppy grin, that big reedy happiness in other people. You will never touch the skies, by clipping your wings.
Here’s the sexy white hot truth about creativity. It’s a religious experience. It’s a transcendental adventure. It’s the losing of the daily self and entering the magic kingdom. You come back bigger. You come back satiated. You come back sweeter. You come back with wings and fins and new toes that seek for higher ground. You never come back the same.
We don’t crave possessions– nearly as much as we want to be possessed by fire, mystery, and love.
I love this Chinese Proverb: “If you want an hour’s happiness, get drunk. If you want three days happiness, take a wife. If you want three month’s happiness, kill a pig and eat it for three months. But if you want to be happy all of your life, be a gardener.”
Be a gardener. Sow the seeds you alone possess. Step into the dimension of aliveness. Watch your capabilities, reach, and soul grow. Nurture others with these gifts. Cars can break down. Homes can burn. Stocks can fall. But the joy of creative expression can never be taken away. Once you experience timelessness, a part of you is changed for all time.
What do you want to create? What wants to come through you at this time? What thoughts, directives, questions, or memories spring to mind as you read this?
We live in crackling times. Change seems to electrify the air, in our individual lives and in the world. The media reports sad stories, dark messages, dire predictions and warnings. Hope is rarely broadcasted from the channels of the mainstream. Rowdy angels rattle our cubicles and turn our retirement accounts upside down—and they will get our attention. But the challenges of our time will spur new and remarkable solutions. The oyster produces its jewels in response to sand. Agitation gives birth to transformation. I invite you to consider that in times of change, wild magic is afoot
When it’s time for change, fear pounds on our door. It brings an invitation to awaken our passion and aliveness like never before. Something larger wants to express itself in our lives. Pain often nudges our growth or illuminates where we have been holding back on our true selves. Most of us seem to need a pinch of desperation to awaken our honesty and inspiration. As poet
David Whyte says, “Absent the edge, we drown in numbness.”
Still, when you hit your edge, numbness looks like Shangri-la. When it happened to me, I remember feeling as though I couldn’t breathe. My whole world felt like one of those Salvador Dali paintings, where normal reality begins to drip and arc in unnatural ways. I had been a rising star in the litigation department of an elite, big-city law firm. I had graduated from Harvard Law School with honors and with grand expectations about my future security. I had consciously avoided the flimsy foot bridge of risk, but deep down, I knew I wanted to become a writer. I chose law instead because I wanted financial freedom, baubles, and safety—but I hadn’t counted on the ruthless mercy of the soul. I didn’t know that you can only avoid yourself for so long before the truth hits the fan.
I never imagined that my life could get so out of control (and I certainly never imagined that I’d eventually bless the day it did). But I found myself sitting at a beach in California, watching the waves and realizing I didn’t want to live anymore. I couldn’t bear to practice law in that office one more day. But I also refused to leave my job, my identity, my income, and everything I knew. Of course, I was fighting the inevitable. The soul’s true desire has infinite strength. The creative part of me, the one I had always considered weak, frivolous, and negligible, had the power to bring about depression, rage, and even the willingness to die. I felt helpless and stripped of all my previous powers to function. In the end it was my vulnerability that gave rise to my greatest freedom and joy. I stopped defending the life that was caving in. I let the last precious scraps fall from my hands. Now I was available to spirit. Just a few weeks later, without a viable plan or income, I walked out of my safe career and into the next phase of my life.
I found it absolutely terrifying to walk into the unknown. I didn’t care how many spiritual books said peace would come from letting go of control. I read every one of them with clenched white knuckles. “You will find your way,” said my therapist. She clearly had me confused with someone lucid and resourceful. Still I came for more sessions. It felt important to hear these reassuring messages.
Gradually I found my way, or more accurately “the way” found me, breath by breath, as it always does. I wrote about this journey in my first book, This Time I Dance! Creating the Work You Love. The alchemy of change had tempered my fear into absolute wonder, and I wrote: “I’ve become someone who trusts that though I feel as fragile as a flaming leaf in autumn, I house the capacity of a tidal wave, a meteor shower, a white tornado of inspiration. I’ve become someone who believes that every human being has a tornado just beneath the skin and that we are meant to live our dreams so that we can discover that natural force within us that blows constriction away.”
For years now, I’ve taught personal-growth seminars, stirred audiences, led retreats, and coached thousands. I have often witnessed this astounding alchemy in others. In unsettling periods, courageous individuals begin to discover that there is more to life than what they think they’re losing. They turn to new ways of seeing, being, and relating to their experience. Uncertainty gives them permission and motivation to examine their present life and delve deeper into their own extraordinary mystical and creative reserves. In This Time I Dance!, I explained, “Because I had to search for a sense of safety beyond dollar, privilege, and approval, I inherited the ultimate trust fund. I learned to trust in my own resources and the startling generosity of life … you will, too. And, there is no other security.”
Like many, I am still tempted to contract with fear during times of distress within our world, and within my personal circumstances. I find my mind whirring away with “What if this happens?” or “What if that happens?” I search for wisdom and strategy through the lens of limitation. But I know better. As Albert Einstein said, “One cannot solve a problem at the level of the problem.” I know my distraught identity will recede into the night sky. To embody new answers and perspectives, I will grow new muscles, read new books, mend wounds and memories, ignite new fires, and take bold steps. Nietzsche says, “It takes chaos to give birth to a rising star.” A different self will walk into that different life. Ultimately, that’s the service provided by the challenge.
Here’s what you need to know: There will be stepping stones, places of safety and clarity on which to stand. More than that, it’s actually all solid ground, consistent safety appearing as terror in your imagination. It’s solid ground upheld by a net. The net is woven with velvet, roses, and diamonds and governed by a band of mighty angels. The angels have support teams. And the support teams have backups among sacred peoples and places throughout the world. Love is always with you. Love helped you create that job or marriage or bank account in the first place. It will help you create whatever you need this time.
Yes, there is wild abundant magic afoot. The woods stir with howls. The world is restless. Part of me is now eager to witness the genius and healing that is evolving on the planet. Change will bring new responses. More of us will now give birth to the divine qualities within us that we ignored while answering e-mails. We are resourceful and beautiful beyond our imagination.
In her book The Gift of Change, Marianne Williamson says, “I think we stand between two historic ages, when a critical mass of the human race is trying to detach from its obedience to fear-based thought systems. We want to cross over to someplace new.” Later, she writes, “As we cross the bridge to a more loving orientation—as we learn the lessons of spiritual transformation and apply them in our personal lives—we will become agents of change on a tremendous scale.”
This is what I know: You have barely scratched the surface of your true strength. Your love is your light in shadow times. You have tremendous and unique gifts to offer us. Fear whispers to you about scarcity and guarding your limited resources. But you don’t have limited resources. There are only finite assets in the known world. But now we are walking into the unknown. We have new abundance to discover and explore. It’s not about clinging to the old sources of power that once sustained us. It’s about launching into the inspired capacities, passions, and vitality we have always longed to express.
I’d like to offer you three helpful touchstones when facing the unknown:
Stay in the present moment: Your mind may torture you about choices you made in the past. The present moment can heal the past. Your mind may fly into agitations about the future. This present moment creates your future. Focus on this moment only. You are safe right now.
Do something you love: Write a song, work in the garden, or talk to a good friend. You activate different brain chemistry when having fun or expressing creativity. A loving and inspired mind bubbles with new perspectives and possibilities.
Strengthen your connection to the Divine: You are not alone on this journey. Remember a time when you felt loved, safe, or at peace in any way. That loving force that surrounded you then surrounds you now. Step up your commitment to meditate, pray, walk in nature, visit a spiritual mentor, or anything that feeds your experience of connection and guidance.
Finally, know that when you feel insecure and inadequate, all is well. You’re right on track. Transformation defies your imagination. A mother doesn’t have to understand or even trust the birth process to give birth. Your next expression wants to be born. Great and mighty forces marshal their strength around you. It’s your time. You’re one of the brave encountering the new frontier. Change may wear a wolf suit. Still, don’t be fooled. It’s wild, abundant magic knocking on your door.
You cannot be inspired in the wrong environment. You will not wake up your Inner Amazon or Jedi Master in an office or marriage that denies you the joy, nutrients, or sunlight you are designed to crave.
You can’t change your design. You can change your environment.
They say that gold fish in a tiny bowl do not grow large. The conditions stunt their possibilities. As a career coach, I’ve seen certain cubicles or even huge corner offices, crunch a soul into a peanut. I’ve heard sad stories of amazing wonders tucking their tail feathers in or ducking their heads, to get by in the “culture” they work in. They have too many ideas. They don’t do things the same way everyone else does. Or they just don’t gossip enough or run fast enough to TGIF parties with co-workers.
One of my clients saw himself as a vampire. He said during the day at work, he “died.” And at night he came alive, could do what he wanted, turn up his music, chase a thousand creative ideas and be his true self. Only, even the nights now were rare. He was too tired.
So here’s what I want you to know. You are designed to thrive. I don’t believe in character flaws as much as I believe in finding your right element. See, when you’re in the wrong environment, it can stigmatize the way you see your own personality. You can start to feel weak. You can start to believe you are incompetent or born under the wrong shadow. Yet it’s just a matter of nature. A palm tree that will flourish in the rainforest, will wither in the desert. You are not designed to falter or struggle. The right soil and conditions will have you blooming your little head off, expanding your soul, and the souls of others, lucky enough to be near you. I want you to know just how much you can soar. In This Time I Dance! Creating the Work You Love, I said, “If you’re this successful doing work you don’t love, what could you do with work you do love?” And it’s not just what you do…it’s where you do it and with whom.
Did you know that Albert Einstein was considered to be mentally slow in school, because he didn’t respond to certain topics? But then he found geometry and he found himself. He discovered new energy and abilities. The man who almost flunked grammar and spelling, went on to teach at Princeton University, discover the theory of relativity and unlock the secrets of the universe for the rest of us. Intelligence and creativity are interactive; they respond to the elements in which they find themselves.
Are you in your element?
It matters more than you might think. Personally, I can’t believe what a difference it makes. I’m one of those people that believes in positive thinking and turning every environment into “your environment.” But then I had a little episode a few years ago that floored me. I had a crash empathy course in what it’s like to feel like a zebra in a room full of horses.
I accepted an invitation I usually wouldn’t have accepted. I decided to attend a reunion, a Harvard Law Luncheon for Women. I figured, that while law school had almost crippled my spirit and potential, I was now all cheeky in my new life. I had nothing to prove anymore. I was a published and even best-selling author with a lively following and seminar schedule. Besides, many of my career-coaching clients were lawyers whom I adored, so I assumed this luncheon would just be a piece of cake, and a lunch.
Still, in minutes, as I roamed the room, it happened. I started small talk with people, and as my usual rapport bounced off brick walls, I felt smaller. Unfortunately, I tried harder which is always a mistake. I started sounding more and more like Zen woman and feeling as though I’d shown up in billowing orange robes, shaved head, and beads. Suddenly it seemed to me as though everyone in the room wore corporate red suits, over slim, well-toned, politically correct bodies. They spoke in crisp bullet points, crunchy statistics, and stared a bit too long at me, as though they could see auras, when I mentioned what I did for a living.
Within minutes, I bellied up to the salad bar, scooping more mounds of the zucchini pasta salad than anyone would ever need to eat in a lunch hour, unless of course, they were hoping to hide in it. These women talked about political issues, not psychological ones, and they got down right slap happy and kitten-like when they remembered how great law school had been. Clearly they had been eating different cud while there. That’s when I realized it wouldn’t matter how many books I’d sold, and how much success I had, I’d still never fit in where I didn’t fit in. Sure I could hold my own, like I didn’t have to call my therapist in the parking lot or anything, but I’d never relax and shimmer.
I tell you this because it shocked me. It broke my heart for all those who are not where they belong. I’d felt strong and confident when I went to that luncheon, and in minutes, in a dominant and incompatible l environment, I felt self- doubting. Clearly there are more resilient personalities out there than mine. Still, I shuddered to think of what years in the wrong environment could do to a sensitive individual.
I can tell you that one of the joys of my career is that I am always in my element. I am always more natural in workshops and retreats than I’ve ever been in my life. My students are my tribe. They are my precious soul family. They are asking the same questions I’m asking in the same language, on the same days. They’re journeying down the same trail. They get me and I get them. Their interest and excitement stimulates my interest and excitement. The more myself I become, the more light I emit, and the more of a devoted following I attract. I feel as though I get to be all that I was meant to be, effortlessly, and it doesn’t get better than that. And I never have to make small talk.
I am a goldfish that has surely been plucked from a fish bowl and placed into the pond of a luxury hotel.
My new favorite role model is the Douglas Fir Tree. A naturalist recently told me that it needs sun to thrive. And when lower branches start growing in the shade, the tree releases a chemical to kill off these branches because they will never thrive and contribute to the overall growth of the tree.
Take a lesson from a Douglas Fir. Reach for your sun. As humans, we don’t obey our nature. We don’t kill off the jobs or activities that don’t support our health and growth. We put in overtime.
I will be on Oprah Radio, doing a show on“Unleashing Your Calling,” on the Lisa Oz Show, hosted by Lisa Oz, an extraordinary interviewer and powerful wife of Dr. Mehmet Oz. These are times you can tune in on satellite radio Sirius 204 or XM 111. (You can listen to it on your computer, iPad, compatible internet radios or a smartphone. You need to be subscribed to SiriusXM in order to listen. You can try it free for 30 days. Visit www.siriusxm.com for details.) Unfortunately, these shows are not archived, so you can’t listen later.
- Wednesday May 18th at 4:00 a.m. ET and 12:00 p.m. ET
- Saturday May 21st at 4:00 a.m. ET
- Sunday May 22nd at 1:00 p.m. ET
I flew into New York City to record the interview in the studio behind a discrete silver door near Columbus Circle. I had to claw my way past a St. Patrick’s Day parade to get there. But that’s not really how I got on the air.
Here’s the back story.
I write “vision statements” for myself. They’re not as cheesy as affirmations, or as simplistic as “The Secret,” though I’m sure some of my Harvard Law School colleagues might miss the refinement.
Anyway, I write these statements of things I want to experience in my life and I read them daily, as in daily on days I remember or don’t have too much resistance.
Anyway, I had this part in my overall vision piece which I read aloud to myself that said, “Absolutely everything I need to experience is happening right now. The powers that be, such as Oprah, aligned media, leaders, teachers, visionaries are reaching, seeking, and finding me now. Their great gifts recognize my great gifts and we work together effortlessly.”
One day, while reading that section, I became aware of a sort of uncomfortable feeling I’d had every time I’d read the piece. I realized I’d been reading the piece for months, but not really paying attention to a sad, low-note feeling. So little do-it-yourself shaman that I am, I started inquiring deeper with awareness. I realized I didn’t like the phrase “the powers that be.” I realized “the powers that be” put the power outside of myself. It externalized my destiny. It made me feel a million miles away from the big sun and moon and cheese. It made me feel helpless, and a shade of desperate.
I hold “the powers that be” in my life, I resolved. And more than that, Spirit is the POWER, and only “powers that be” operating in my life at all times. For me, every person and incident is simply an extension of Spirit in my life. There is nothing but Spirit, nothing but love.
I realized I didn’t believe that anything happened by accident or could even occur because I’d gotten lucky and some producer or editorial assistant noticed my work, even in if they worked in a far off office in Chicago in a mythical universe called Harpo land. I believe I am always loved by Spirit and I will always have what I need. The Universe is the only power there is, and my awareness of that power is the only channel I need. And so I struck the phrase “powers that be” from my vision statement. Now it read like this: “Oprah, aligned media, leaders, teachers, visionaries are reaching, seeking and finding me now. Their great gifts recognize my great gifts and we work together effortlessly.” I read it aloud and it felt good and right and true.
And, I kid you not, just days later I received an email with this heading: Oprah Radio. The email read: “Hi Tama! I’m on the production team for The Lisa Oz Show on Oprah Radio. I’d love to chat with you about unleashing your calling.”
Wow. I am the power of my life. You are the power of your life. There are no big bad wolves out there keeping you from your destiny. Nothing is blocked. Take your power into your own hands. Take the hand of the Power that loves you more than you know how to love yourself. There is no power in the world that has any power over Spirit.
Are you giving your power away to statistics? experts? history? other people? Take back your attention and infinite strength.
Today’s graduate, just like the rest of us, faces an uncharted world. Creativity, not conformity, is the new security. Back in the days of “snail mail,” horse and covered buggies and Ford Pintos, we were advised to stick with one career path, work hard, and aim “sky high” for the promise of predictability and a gold watch. Those days are gone. Today, there is no external job security. Yet there is a stable and intensely satisfying way to make it in the world. It’s called following your passion.
I’m grateful the world no longer supports the status quo. I want more for today’s graduates or anyone who may be graduating into a different period of learning in their lives. You deserve more than a gold watch. You deserve to experience a golden time.
Typical career advice focuses on vocational assessments, resume writing, and networking skills, along with studying the hot fields and companies in the available job market. But real career success, at any age, involves staying true to your talents, putting your nose to the ground and tracking your destiny, following the genius that you alone possess. It involves studying yourself, more than the job market. Because today’s world isn’t about “fitting in” to finite opportunities. It’s about waking up to new capacities and needs, stirring the pot, and revealing, creating, designing and divining the infinite opportunities available.
Business guru Daniel Pink says, in A Whole New Mind, that we are moving away from the information age to the conceptual age and that “right-brainers will rule the future.” He explains, “The keys to the kingdom are changing hands. The future belongs to a very different person with a very different kind of mind—creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers, and meaning makers. These people—artists, inventors designers, storytellers, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers—will now reap society’s richest rewards.” Pink emphasizes that in the imminent future an MFA degree will serve you more than an MBA, because global business and industry now require creative, emotionally intelligent, out-of-the-box, intuitive thinking to meet the divergent and evolving climate of business and life.
I’ve been a career coach for over twenty years now, and I’ve seen the fall-out of old career thinking, both in the lives of my clients, and in my own professional life. For me, traditional, now archaic, career advice garnered me a way to make a living, but not a way to discover and express my soul. Sure, I was “successful,” on the surface, at a major law firm, having graduated with honors from Harvard Law School. But, I could not sustain that kind of success. I was born to be a writer, and the truth will always out. Inevitably, the soul’s desire to express is stronger than the ego’s desire to maintain equilibrium. The Universe or nature gave us our desires for a reason. They are seeds that are meant to turn into orchards of good in our lives. And if those energy sources are denied, then those seeds become time bombs designed to destroy limitation. The infinite within us will always prevail.
In coaching, I’ve seen a pattern I find strangely encouraging. I’ll put it this way. The velocity of our times demands authenticity. Our fast-paced world is a 24/7 kind of marathon. So if you’re not doing work that comes from your soul, you will have to work too hard to keep it up. And you will always have to wrestle too hard to keep your true passions at bay. We used to have more of a buffer to keep our secrets, even from ourselves. But increased demand requires an efficient use of our energy. And living your calling is the most efficient, practical, joyous, and generous thing you can do with your life.
So, here’s my idea of a graduation/creative life kit and gift. Of course, I’d give anyone who’s graduating, or laid off or retiring and graduating into a new phase of their lives, a brand new copy of This Time I Dance! Creating the Work You Love(Tarcher/Penguin). And I’d give them this invaluable “tool kit” filled with 5 unconventional totems—designed to reinforce a creative, inspired approach to discovering the right work and the sweetest life:
Give up on trying to figure out your whole life all at once. A creative career life is one of following the breadcrumbs to the Ginger Bread house of everything you desire. When I work with clients I tell them, you do not need to figure out every detail. I only want to focus on the one inspired direction or action of this moment. One intelligent, conscious moment will lead to the next and the next and you will find yourself in places you could not have navigated in any other way. I am not interested in the brain’s strategy as much as I am interested in the present directives of your core intelligence, which issues from your heart, gut or soul. You do not have to figure out your whole life. You have to pay attention to what feels right to you in this moment.
If you try to see too far up ahead, you will be frustrated and incapacitated. And you will miss the direction, clue, or necessary step opening right in front of you. There will always be a breadcrumb. There will always be a next step. There will always be something to do, feel, heal, shift your thinking on in this moment.
I offer you the example of Ray Kroc, a former high school drop-out, who took over the small-scale McDonald’s corporation franchise and built it into the most successful fast food operation in the world. Kroc started off by wanting to sell milk shake mixing machines. Noticing that the currently small hamburger chain McDonald’s had bought 8 milk shake mixers, he got the idea to buy the chain to expand his sales. He followed his next step. At the time, he wasn’t trying to become the leading fast food, or even hamburger, company in the world. He was just following a nudge. But that one breadcrumb led to a whole lot of buns.
A Yellow Birthday Candle:
Pick the desire that will stay lit, your spirit’s birthday candle, even when a thousand winds blow. Your true desires have invincible energy. Please don’t talk yourself into being “realistic.” When you compromise your desire, you will compromise your strength. I’ve spoken to men and women in their eighties. “I always wanted to write.” “I always wanted to sing,” they say, wistfully. The desire never went away. They had children, good and bad marriages, sickness, financial challenges, trips to distant ports in the world, and they never lost the desire. That’s the thing about your inspired dreams. They may look fragile or frivolous, but they have the power to outlast all other desires.
I tell my clients, “Only the real dream has the power.” You can’t marshal all your mysterious forces of strength, creativity, and tenacity for a desire you “sort of” want. Mild wants won’t do it. You need to follow the wild wants. They will take you on a journey you could never imagine and you don’t want to miss.
I spent 12 years writing This Time I Dance! Creating the Work You Love and faced many rejections and disappointments. But real desire gives you stamina. You can withstand pain and detours, because it’s more painful to give up on the desire. Thomas Edison failed thousands of times, but continued his research and finally produced the light bulb, among other inventions. He didn’t give up because he had a “yellow birthday candle,” the inner demand to invent, an inviolate pilot light, a true desire. He would not have had this same tenacity for a goal he didn’t love.
A Pez Holder:
Trust your crazy ideas. Resist the temptation to think “Oh that’s stupid,” or “That would never go anywhere.” You have no idea the journey a single idea can take you on. You have no idea how often fun or silliness or whim is the precursor of massive creativity, discovery, opportunity, and success. I’m offering you a Pez holder as a totem because of the legendary story of how eBay, the foremost online revenue generator in the history of the Internet began. In 1995, Pierre Omidyar started eBay from his home so his girlfriend could have a way to trade Pez (candy) dispensers with others. Aren’t you glad that Omidyar didn’t just say, “Oh for god’s sakes, why do you need another candy dispenser? Can’t you do something productive, like get a real job or start an internet company?”
Listen within and do not listen to others who do not hear the music. No one knows your path. You won’t even know your own inspired path. Solicit information, experience, and advice– but choose what you listen to. I always tell clients, “I never take advice from unhappy people.” The truth you listen to determines your whole life. Pay attention to things that ring true for you or expand your possibilities. Creative innovator Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple Computers, says, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice…have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
In her early career in journalism, Oprah Winfrey was advised to drop the emotional “touchy feely” aspect of her reporting. But Oprah put on her earplugs and chased her strength instead. She didn’t listen to those who did not support her innate gift. Now the world listens to her.
Begin anywhere– and know that your potential is huge, even when your beginnings are small. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” We live in a culture that celebrates fast, big, and instant success stories. But real success comes from the humility to start wherever you can and remember the magnitude within you. Self- help author Alan Cohen says “Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin. Beginning makes the conditions perfect.”
Academy-award winning film director and movie executive Steven Spielberg ached to be in the movie business. He tried to enroll in college to study film but was repeatedly rejected. Finally, he got an unpaid apprenticeship at Universal Studios. Spielberg says even after his apprenticeship, he snuck into the movie lot in order to learn. “I visited the lot every day I could and got to know people, observed techniques, and just generally absorbed the atmosphere.” Do not wait for the world to welcome you. You know the golden promise within you. Just find conditions that help you grow. Grab every opportunity. Do an internship. Volunteer your time. And always work with and from love.
As you toss your graduation caps into the sky, I take off my hat to you. You will inherit this world that is unlike any other time before this time. This is the world that matches you. This is the world you were born for. You have everything you need– and the world needs what you alone have to give it. You are loved and guided always.
Oprah said that finding your calling is the most important thing you will do in your life. I’ve said it too, but hey, you’ll listen to Oprah. In saying this, the Queen of Hope opened the doors of possibilities for so many. And the doors of neurosis, too. Because now the hunt is on.
Someone on my Facebook Fan Page recently said she “felt like a retard” because she couldn’t find her calling. She’d taken assessments. She’d seen numerologists. She’d read books. She answered questionnaires. She meditated. She almost levitated. But in the end, I think she was inundated with the search.
When people come to my retreats on Unleash Your Calling: Create the Work and Life You Love, I often tell them you’re probably not going to leave this retreat knowing that you’re a candlestick maker or a lawyer or even an animal communicator. If I’m doing my job right, I’m not assigning you a label. Instead, I’m helping you rip off all the old labels and constructs of how your life is supposed to be. I’m not helping you find a static identity as much as I’m helping you pay attention to The Call moment by moment in your life. If I can help you do this, (and I can by the way,) you will touch and give birth to a life that defies definition, may make you yelp out loud with gratitude, and feels solid to the core. I want you to come from love instead of fear. I want you to die to old stories and limitations and awaken a new clarity before you answer old questions with recycled information.
This is what I wrote to Iris on my Facebook page. “I’m thinking you’re putting too much pressure on yourself to have a big light bulb flash, instead of having your heart open gradually and for all time, letting out the gorgeous Iris-light in there.” I want to say that to you, too. Stop looking for the one big Roman Candle in the sky. Start paying attention to the fireflies, the little moments of light and freedom in your life. Finding your calling is all about relaxing and letting go of fearful, tired, thoughts. It’s letting go of pressure. It’s letting go of assumptions. It’s letting go of timelines. It’s letting go of the idea that what you find has to “make sense” to a part of your brain that has made you miserable and could not find joy if it were gift wrapped, labeled, and doctor recommended.
Your calling will find you, when you find you. You will find your real self with abundant self-love, self-permission, encouragement, freedom, play, commitment to a path of connecting to a Higher Intelligence, and unconditional curiosity. InThis Time I Dance! Create the Work You Love, I said “There’s nothing to choose. Just something to set loose.” And really, it’s about setting yourself loose again and again. Because finding your calling isn’t a one-time shot. It’s a lifelong commitment to loving yourself, dropping conventional standards, and learning to step into the amazing life of trusting your present desires and unorthodox intelligence– and following the call.
Hey, why not follow this call… and join me for an amazing retreat on Unleash Your Calling: Create the Work and Life you Love at the world-famous Omega Institute for Holistic Studies in Rhinebeck NY (90min from NYC, by shuttle) July 22-24. This weekend retreat will unleash your calling and have the time of your life with fun, intelligent, creative passion-seeking and creating individuals. This is the BEST weekend retreat I offer, and I hope you can make it! To reserve your spot please click here: http://awakeningartistry.com/pdf/Omega-July2011.pdf
I wrote this poem two decades ago, and thought I’d share it with you. It really caught how awkward it can feel to be going through a transition when everyone else around you seems solid, beefy, and assured. At the time, I felt so ashamed of who I was, even while I was beginning to embrace my true adventure.
Today, I’m so proud of that woman who didn’t have all the answers, but who asked the questions…and got me here. I’m proud of you too. And here’s what I want you to know. Don’t let other people’s silence, silence you. Just because they don’t know how to relate, doesn’t mean you’re doing something foolish. The bold usually have no compatriots. The inspired can threaten the mundane. Walk your walk. Let it substitute for talk.
(I apologize in advance if this poem seems to be negative towards men. At the time I was a litigator and surrounded by male colleagues.)
Awkward Cocktail Party Blues
It is not in me to remain quiet, stolid, dignified.
I answer party questions as if they were the questions at the end of my life.
I begin in colors, then dribble into shades…
while men in suits rattle their scotch and bore into my eyes.
They never answer likewise.
It is yes, no, fine, alright
as if three syllables comprehends the totality, the mystery.
They stand straight and steady and leave their hands at their sides
while mine fly like butterflies all about the room.
Am I crazy?
Or am I the beginnings of a garden
pushing through the soil?
as old comrades nod their heads at me,
or out of courtesy
do they see madness, dirt, or shimmers and shoots of green?
Funny, I am budding as never before,
but these great men
look down from great heights,
recrimination in their hearts,
tell their wives at night
what a shame, what a shame
a fallen one
she had such potential.
Many times people believe they need blocks of time to create, a cottage, a servant, a veranda in Bali, or maybe just a peeling garret in France. But as someone who runs a business, speaks, travels, coaches, and seems to have more demands than hours in the day, I can’t have my creative life be separate from ordinary life. I can’t wait for the ideal circumstances to generate content for my email newsletters, blogs, books, or products. I can’t wait for the fields of time, cheese and wine. So how do you create sanctuary for your creative self in the middle of chaos? How do you create a portal? How do you turn on the tap when maybe you’re tapped out or life is pulling you in too many directions?
Here’s 3 Quick Suggestions to Expand Time and Creative Flow:
- Create a Dedicated Practice
I don’t like the word discipline because my creative self bolts from the room when she hears that word. She may even throw paint at the walls on her way out to a spree. But practice is devotion. It’s showing up. It’s being in the room. It’s tending the fire, or at least being in the room where there’s a fireplace. Commitment goes beyond preference or mood or hormonal chemistry. Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way recommends “morning pages,” 3 pages of stream of consciousness writing. Natalie Goldberg in Writing Down the Bones, teaches “Freewriting,” stream of consciousness writing in focused 15 minute increments. Zen meditation practices have you follow your breath or repeat a mantra. I go to a yoga class on Wednesday nights whether or not I have a lot of work unfinished or I’m in the mood to stretch into a warrior pose. I get into the room. I’m at the bus stop waiting for the magic bus. I don’t know the schedule of the magic bus, when it might come. But I’m there. I’m available. I’m going to catch that ride.
- Apply Kindness: Bring In Da Honey!
You will use your time wisely if you approach it with self-love and mercy. The inner critic loves to show up on this dance floor and call the shots. You will expand your time, if you’re not wasting it– worrying about wasting it. If you are listening to kindness, you can’t be listening to cruelty and urgency. If you are listening to encouragement, you can’t be ravaged and discouraged. If you are listening to praise, you will be rejuvenated. Praise will make you relax and relaxation is the secret to creativity. I’ve never been creatively flush, while anxious. When my blood constricts, so do my ideas and insights. Kindness allows me to try new things, start over, write bad stuff, trust myself, and sing myself a buoying song. It makes things possible. Kindness won’t make you weak. Kindness will make you strong. If you’re encouraged, you will show up. If you’re discouraged, you may overeat, drink, complain, and walk out of the room. Kindness is sticky glue.
- Be Present: Wipe the Past and The Future Off Your Shoes Before Entering
Your dedication to your art or self-inquiry or business venture is a meditation practice. It’s a chance to experience the transcendent. There are a thousand secret doorways in every moment. You will only see the door handle when you stop talking about everything you have to do, what you should have said, and what you could have done. I think of being present as traipsing down a long white hallway, where I block out all thoughts about the future or past. I invite myself into the kingdom of innocence. I can start all over here. I can meet myself again. I can meet myself today. I can do all things. All things are possible when I’m present. All things are an experiment. All things are yet to be discovered. There are no mistakes. There are no deadlines. There are no potholes or trap doors. Everything is new. Everything is waiting for my current relationship to it to be established. When I give my mind and heart this break from life, this “do-over,” I find it leads to new capacities within me. There is something about the restiveness of being free from the past and future that allows my mind to penetrate the problem, object, observation, experience before me with new eyes, full eyes, true eyes. There is something about being present that unscrews the lid. When you’re in love, the same room lights up and you see all the secrets and promise. When we are present, we’re in love.
Try it out. Take these 3 tools for a spin. Don’t worry about doing it perfectly. Just do anything. You can accomplish so much more than you dreamed possible in just small segments. Your big dreams deserve small steps. And those small steps will lead you to enormous intrinsic dedication. Just get your feet wet. Or else, I suppose, you could get a garret.
I’m excited for you! I’d love to know your thoughts or questions or experience.