Finding Fulfillment

Change-Making As Pilgrimage— Finding Your Inner Path of Fulfillment

An integral part of the coaching journey is the experience of finding our own paths to what is deeply fulfilling within ourselves. Often we base our desire or need for change on what seems permissible or possible. We base our choices on what we've already accomplished, rarely on the inner voice of our dreams or longings.

Making changes like this seems to take less time— just a jump from here to there. But conscious change is more of a pilgrimage than a commute ride. Conscious change-making is giving ourselves permission to explore and make tangible what our hearts long for. In this way, our actions are powerfully fueled by the tailwind of our full energy.   When we give ourselves permission, that energy from deep within ourselves is what moves us forward most effectively toward what we desire.

Creating change, therefore, can be experienced as a journey for which you consciously prepare. It's based on your desire to open yourself to new explorations that call to something deep inside— a dream from childhood, a quest for adventure, or a confirmation of an unrealized, even unacknowledged, potential within yourself.

In his book, The Art of Pilgrimage, Phil Cousineau writes that planning a pilgrimage is about "embarking on any journey with a deep purpose," even if you "are unsure of how to prepare for it. The art of pilgrimage," he suggests, "is the skill of personally creating your own journey, and the daily practice of slowing down and lingering, savoring, and absorbing each of its stages."

So your desire to create change can be a time in which to find meaning and relevance on the path to change itself. Indeed, accepting this new phase in your life as a pilgrimage--a journey with intention, awareness, and spirit-- allows the pathway itself to become an vital part of the whole of the change you seek to create.

One of my clients discovered this as she planned a career change from her earlier work as a professor in a British university. While she was taking her first steps in this direction, she required an operation that kept her mostly house bound for almost a year. She decided not to get stressed about her inability to give public outreach presentations that were the basis of her health education program. Instead, she planned as part of her coaching to strengthen the spiritual underpinning of her life and work through reading, journaling, meditation, and self-care.

She slowed down, savored more depth in her relationships, dealt with old fears, and appreciated the gifts of healing and spiritual connection. From this inner pilgrimage, she emerged re-energized and decided to pursue a long-held dream— to study dancing the tango in Argentina. During this trip, she met a former colleague who invited her to give a paper at a conference in Brazil. Later, he asked if she would offer a class on the same topic, which included a description of her health education project as a solution to a particular societal need.

So her pilgrimage led her deep inside herself, and later, brought her back to where she'd started with health education.  However, she now had more clarity and confidence about her new professional direction, and a more joyful, expansive outlook about her life overall.

"This is . . . why the art of pilgrimage is the art of re-imagining how we walk, talk, listen, see, hear, write, and draw as we get ready for the journey of our soul's deep desire."
The Art of Pilgrimage

What is the pilgrimage you must take to create the change you most desire?

Successful Choice-Making— Taking the Path Not (Usually) Taken

Reading Malcolm Gladwell's book, David and Goliath— Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, I was struck by his statement that "a choice may not be between a best option and a second-best option . . . [but] a choice between two very different options, each with its own strengths and drawbacks." I realize that Gladwell neatly stated a situation that I often encounter with coaching in career transitions.

Making a choice in such an important area of one's life as a career change is usually the outcome of a considerable amount of thought, research, conversations, and soul-searching. Quite often, it feels like such a big leap that a usual decision is to go for a similar position in a larger organization or head a different division within the same corporation, probably for a larger salary and more perks.

That was certainly my line of direction, following my resignation from a small, education-based non-profit group. As I saw it, all my skills only translated into director positions at other, larger nonprofits. Yet, each time I went for an interview at such an organization, I felt a sinking in my belly and a dramatic drop in energy. If I could have coached myself then, I would have had myself pay attention to that drop in energy. What did that have to say about my next career choice? What options might I have that I hadn't yet considered? What did I really want to be doing? How did my work reflect the kind of person I really am and the qualities I value?

As Gladwell writes in David and Goliath, "the same qualities that appear to give [certain choices] strength are often the sources of great weakness." For example, my mindset about developing my career led me to the initial decision that I obviously needed to grow my current skill set to make a higher salary and to be seen as a skilled professional in an area in which I'd worked for almost a decade. But the strengths that I had in this area were leading me to a choice that didn't feel right to me, that was energy-draining and "a source of great weakness." And yet, I kept pushing myself in that direction, trying to convince myself that I had no other options.

Then I had an epiphany! As I wrote in my book, Success with Soul— Loving Your Livelihood, Living in Balance, on the spur of the moment, I went to the movie Dirty Dancing "a film that just blew me away with the sheer energy and enthusiasm of its performers! Entrained by the passion of that free-spirited dancing, I felt my energy soar to another level altogether. Considering my career direction again after seeing this film, I realized I intended to do something radically different. I was going to explore the possibility of becoming a somatic therapist."

It then became clear to me that I'd been considering this possibility at a subterranean level for some time, ever since I'd had my first glowing experience of what this kind of alternative healing could offer. However, I'd kept rejecting it, since I knew I didn't have the skills required, and even questioned the value of moving into a (literally) hands-on profession. As I wrote, "Nothing in my upbringing, education, or work experience had prepared me for the professional path I was claiming." Based on this particular analysis, I kept rejecting out of hand the possibility that I could or should learn the necessary skills to make such a career leap.

However, I kept feeling the energy and drive to do this kind of work— and follow the path not (usually) taken. Seeing Dirty Dancing simply pushed me over that precipice into this new path. No doubt, too, I was inspired by seeing the drive of the heroine of the film (who also planned to be a doctor) to learn working-class-style sexy dancing. She and I were both becoming Gladwell's "underdog" and "outlier," simply by paying attention to our new callings, and learning that "The fact of being an underdog can change people in ways that we often fail to appreciate: it can open doors and create opportunities and educate and enlighten and make possible what might otherwise have seemed unthinkable."

If you're experiencing a sense of delight about following a choice you once passed by, or one you've just discovered, remember that this can be a wonderful way to "open doors and create opportunities" for yourself now! If I can be of any assistance as a professional "change advisor" in supporting your momentum in finding and claiming your new choice, I'm always glad to be a resource for you.

In Synch with Synchronicity-- Creating the Clues to Heart-Centered Change

What is synchronicity-- and how can we use awareness of its appearances to take compelling leaps into new, more fruitful openings in our lives?  Synchronicity can be thought of as happenings that coincide in ways that have deep meaning for the people involved. As such, they can offer clues or affirmation of where we want to go if we take the time to look deeper with our hearts and minds.

Phil Cousineau, in his book, Coincidence or Destiny?, says: “An experience of synchronicity is marked by elegance, symmetry, vividness, suddenness, poetry, or a truth that speaks to the heart.”  Furthermore, “there are no accidents in the circle of synchronicity . . . at least, not when one is on the path with heart, the path of destiny.”

As a career and life coach, my interest is very much in supporting people in finding their “paths with heart,” where their inner longings for change transform into new ways of working and living that are rewarding and heartfelt.  When my conscious attention is focused on finding and working with people at this level, I’m often aware of an energetic patterning within myself that appears to expand my opportunities to connect with them.

As clinical psychologist Dr. Kirby Surprise, author of the book, Synchronicity: The Art of Coincidence, Choice, and Unlocking Your Mind, says in a recent interview with the ezine, “SuperConsciousness”:

Synchronistic events happen when people see a meaningful connection between external events and their own internal states . . . As reflections of what people are thinking and feeling, most synchronistic events become very explainable . . . If you simply say, “Okay. What do I actually want?” and look for that, you get events that present you with the opportunities to pursue that pattern....

There are millions more patterns in the universe and in the room around you than you could possibly deal with. What this amazing supercomputer in your head [the brain] does is it only shows you the patterns that it thinks are most relevant to what you want to see.

So we do have the power to set up the context to call forth synchronistic events by combining the capacity of our brain with our conscious intention. Experiencing these events, however, often feels in the moment almost magical; and they do operate beyond linear cause and effect. Synchronicity is a web of connection that can reach into our lives in wholly unexpected ways-- through intuitive knowing, déjà vu, dreams, and sudden happenings that have an inner rightness but no explicit logic.

For example, I use the online network, LinkedIn, as a means of professional outreach. However, a recent connection with retired drama director, Stella, through LInkedIn about coaching had that amazing sense of "no accidents" that struck both of us.

One day, browsing through some LinkedIn messages, I “accidentally” hit a button saying “Connect” without knowing what I was connecting to.  Over the next couple of days, I got dozens of acceptances to “connect” through LinkedIn from people I didn’t know, or know of, in fields wildly divergent from my own.  Since I usually only connect with, or invite connections from, professionals on LinkedIn I know or know of, I didn't understand what was happening.

Then I got a LinkedIn message from Stella asking for a consultation about coaching.  I knew I didn’t know who she was, so I asked her how she’d heard about me.  She said she’d gotten an invitation to connect from me, but hadn’t known why, or who I was.  So she checked out my LinkedIn profile and found I was a coach specializing in career and life transitions.  This interested Stella, who was wanting to make major changes in creating a real community with meaningful friendships in her life.

She then checked out how I’d known about her and found that we did have a mutual LinkedIn connection-- though not among our primary contacts, but among the contacts of our primary contacts.  Our mutual connection turned out to be a woman who is a good friend of mine.  When Stella contacted her, my friend told her that I’d coached her at a critical time in her life when she needed support in making authentic life style changes.  She gave me a very positive testimonial, which encouraged Stella to consult with me about how coaching could help her create new changes in her own life.

So somewhere between my awareness of whom I enjoy working with and Stella's conscious desire to make vital changes in her life, a field of connection appeared manifesting in a happening that surprised us both. This “synchronistic event” was the cue, and clue, that set the stage for a deeper level of understanding between us that has led to a coaching relationship with rewarding new possibilities for Stella.

“Synchronistic events can indeed be a way for those very intelligent and aware parts of the rest of your supercomputer [brain] to try to talk to you, to cooperate with you, helping you in whatever creative problem solving in your life that you want to do.”
-- from Synchronicity: The Art of Coincidence, Choice, and Unlocking Your Mind

Here’s another instance of a synchronistic event leading to “creative problem solving” with another coaching client of mine. A science researcher and mother of two young children, Lana was telling me that her life had lost some richness for her, because she felt she no longer had any time for spontaneous visits and calls with her women friends. Just as she said that, the doorbell rang. Lana excused herself to answer it and then laughed out loud. The friend that she’d particularly been thinking of as she talked with me had just come to the door with a birthday gift for her!

Simply by paying attention to her deep desire to have more unscheduled time with her close women friends, Lana opened a channel that had become less present in these relationships. The synchronicity of her friend showing up at her door without previous planning affirmed for her the possibility she has within herself to change an unrewarding life pattern into one of “vividness, suddenness, poetry, [and] a truth that speaks to the heart.”

Creating Success with Soul-- What It Means to Be Really Heard


Most people who’ve asked me about coaching understand that its primary purpose is to help people make positive changes in their lives. What’s less clear to them is how working with a coach will make that happen. People often have in mind the stereotypical image of a sports coach exhorting a player to go and do more and do better!

So I’d like to speak now to a fundamental quality that great life coaches possess-- the art of listening and engaging from that place of deep listening with their clients. With their attentive listening, such coaches are attuned, beyond the words themselves, to what the quality and tone of a person’s voice can convey-- whether she is present or distant, energized or stuck.

As the authors of the book, Co-Active Coaching, state: “To be listened to is a striking experience-- partly because it is so rare. When another person is totally with you, leaning in, interested in every word, eager to empathize, you feel known and understood . . . Everything in coaching hinges on listening-- especially listening with the client’s agenda in mind....”

We don’t often have the experience of someone listening to us with an open mind and undivided attention as we talk about something that feels vital to us-- for example, a change that may be so radical and life-altering that we’ve never spoken about it to anyone else. “Feeling heard” is very much about feeling safe and supported in sharing a new-born, vulnerable part of ourselves. For many of my clients, this, in particular, has been a major gift of their coaching experience.

What is it, then, to be a life coach with the great privilege of helping people change their work and their lives-- by learning to be active and dedicated listeners ourselves?  I’m a coach who deeply cares about people having livelihoods and lives that reflect and enhance who they genuinely are and what they truly value. I’ve had training and practice that’s helped me learn how to listen-- not just with my ears, but with my whole body-mind awareness-- to my clients’ deepest yearnings for, and hidden fears about, making changes that have soul and substance.

In this regard, I resonate to the following quote from Hilary Mantel’s amazing historical novel, Wolf Hall, about this ability to respond from a place of deep listening to help evoke transformative change in others:

He [Thomas Cromwell] takes it seriously, the trust placed in him; he takes gently from the hands of these noisy young persons their daggers, their pens, and he talks to them, finding out behind the passion and pride of young men of fifteen or twenty what they are really worth, what they value and would value under duress. You learn nothing about men by snubbing them and crushing their pride. you must ask them what it is they can do in this world, that they alone can do.The boys are astonished by the question, their souls pour out. Perhaps no one has talked to them before. Certainly not their fathers....

If you’re on the edge of making a change that could positively affect the way you work, relate, and affect the world around you, consider finding out for yourself what it means to be genuinely listened to and supported in creating the success you long for. Contact me for a free coaching consultation and experience for yourself the liberating gift of being “really heard.”

Beyond Magic-- The Journey of Transformative Change

Now and again I get questions about the phrase “transformative change” and what it means in my work as a career and life transitions coach.  Does it imply a “magical” change-- something way out of the ordinary and, more importantly, done to us-- as in one of the Oz books where a witch in the land of Oz “transforms” a young boy into a green monkey?  Or-- in what ways do we have a voice, or personal agency, in the transformative changes of our lives?

As I see it, “trans-formation” is not a passive state of becoming something you are not, but rather a conscious journey towards becoming more and more who you really are.  Transforming your life is neither a magical process (though it may seem so), nor a planned strategy.  Like happiness, it is a possible and desirable by-product of going towards what we feel called to do, inwardly and outwardly, during the transitional change times of our lives.

As William Bridges says in his exquisitely wise book drawn from his own personal and professional journeys, The Way of Transition:

Transformation is the true destination of transition . . . How transition does that is a mystery, but it somehow involves . . . [spending] time near a boundary between . . . one life-phase and the next.  The borders of Oz [the place of awakening to new possibilities] are everywhere, although the price of passage to the other side is often nothing less than your life-- at least your life as you have known it.

In my own book, Success with Soul-- Loving Your Livelihood, Living in Balance, I offer my own interpretation of the journey of transformative change in this way:

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

— Jelaluddin Rumi, from The Essential Rumi by Coleman Barks

I love this poem by the Sufi spiritual master and poet, Jelaluddin Rumi, for the beauty of his words and images — and for the eloquence with which he expresses this movement from habitual acts to transformative action. This is what I love, too, about doing life coaching — helping people blossom with the joy of self-discovery as they create the changes that really matter to them in their careers and lives.

“Let the beauty we love be what we do.” The wake-up call — it’s time to stop settling for less than our authentic calling and go for “the beauty we love” in our lives. What is it that we really want? What is it that we are ready to put all our heart, energy, and passion into now? How do we really want to contribute to the world, to our families, to ourselves? What is the “beauty” that feeds our souls and frees us to move forward to where we feel fulfilled?

We all have had some experience of “waking up empty and frightened” — of losing what is important to ourselves, of not expressing our true selves in some way, of dying without having lived fulfilled.

The key is not to go back to the old habits, not just to “begin reading” — but to step past our fears onto a new path that may feel radical. “Take down a musical instrument,” sing with your authentic voice, and follow the unknown songs and sounds that emerge to new opportunities that free you to be yourself!

          What do you notice about your own journey of transformative change?

Defining Success in Your Own Terms-- Claiming Your Professional Dream

"To have a possibility of happiness we must at the beginning fall in love at least a little with our work." -- David Whyte, The Three Marriages

In my book, Success with Soul-- Loving Your Livelihood, Living in Balance, I note that a major reason people come to me for coaching is a feeling of dissatisfaction with their work and career paths-- with what they are doing and the sense of disconnection with whom they have become.  Often, they don’t even recognize that they’re trying to model their ideas of what success is on what their parents or other influential people in their lives have wanted for them. In direct and indirect ways, people get messages from childhood about what they can do, can’t do, should do, and shouldn’t do in their professional lives, from their families, teachers, mentors, peers, and society at large.

In her insightful book, Hand-Me-Down Dreams, Mary Jacobsen asserts that in order to claim our own dreams for our work and lives, we may need to examine whether our parents were able to live out their dreams. Did they get the education they wanted? Were they stopped from having the career they wanted by virtue of their sex, class, racial or ethnic background?

Or Whatmaybe the careers they really wanted didn’t exist. Life coaching, for example, was not a recognized career when I graduated from college-- and is now booming. New job categories in the fields of technology and health are proliferating.  Also, the growth in number and kind of small businesses has been phenomenal over the past decade, as people (many of whom are women) pro-actively learn to sell and serve in areas of interest to them. In this way, as George Kao, social media marketing expert, suggests, you can at least have some money coming in while applying for jobs that interest you.

Those of you seeking a career within an organization might like to know that anthropology was just a blip on the map when my father discovered it. He'd expected that he would become a doctor until a friend in his freshman year at college told him about an exciting class being offered in the new field of-- anthropology! My father definitely took a risk in choosing “the road less traveled,” but he didn’t see it as a risk. Anthropology called to something deep within himself he hadn’t been aware of-- a way of working that involved cross-cultural exploration, using other languages, and opening new, global channels of communication among people.

Had my father become a research physician, he would certainly have pleased his own father, an immigrant to this country, who would've been delighted to have a son be a doctor-- a career offering societal respect and financial security. But when his father gave him his blessing to go in this new direction, my father didn’t hesitate to claim his new career path (being a professor at Stanford University, which lasted a lifetime).

Despite the scarcity of job opportunities at the time, my father was convinced from the start that he would find way to work as an anthropologist-- and would enjoy it in a way he never could have as a doctor.  What was important for my father was that his own father didn’t demand of his son that he sacrifice a way of working he'd chosen in order to please his father’s desire. The great gift my grandfather gave his son was the emotional freedom to follow his own path, trusting that he would best support his family by loving his livelihoodf.

The kind of conviction and determination of my father is really the bedrock of many career seekers and innovators up through now who have felt professionally successful. Steve Jobs, for example, who created his own tech career and business, knew what he wanted to do and persevered, even under humiliating adversity.  By the time he was 30, Jobs had set up the wildly innovative and successful company, Apple-- and then was fired by the Apple board, who felt he was no longer the right person to lead the company.   He was devastated and blindsided.  As he said in his commencement address to Stanford students in 2005, “I felt ashamed, I didn’t know what to do.  I’d been rejected, but I was still in love.”

His lifeline, ultimately, was discovering deep inside himself that no matter what, “I loved what I did.”  Not knowing what else to do, he followed his intuition using “beginner’s mind,” and started the company, Next, still doing what he loved to do.  Then he got back his dream job when Apple rehired him, with Next technology becoming “the heart of the Apple renaissance.”

Most of us are not Steve Jobs, but most of us do have the potential within ourselves to choose to work at something in our lifetime that deeply satisfies us by what it allows us to do in supporting, innovating, leading, and enhancing something that's important to us.  Defining success in our own terms requires that we listen deeply to what we are genuinely called to do and "pass by that which we do not love."

Now try this exercise: Write down a list of all the jobs and careers you’ve tried. For each, write down what you liked best about it-- and how it affected your satisfaction level with your whole life. Afterwards, consider and then write down, your own definition of success, wherever you are in your life path, with regard to: 1) The way you work and/or stay involved in your community; 2) What messages from your family and/or society you’ve had to overcome to find rewarding work; 3) What kind of support you've received (from family, friends, coach, therapist, colleagues) to find rewarding work; and 4) What is important to you in your life as a whole.

What is the next step you plan to take to claim your professional dream?

Loving Your Work, Working with Love

I’ve always admired and enjoyed being around people who love their work, particularly if they delight in inspiring others to grow and express their true potential.  So in honor of Valentine's Day, I’d like to offer a special valentine to someone who loved his work and worked with love to foster the joy of learning and transformation in others.

My high school English teacher, Warren Wilde, was absolutely passionate about exploring the wonders of literature with his students.  He was young, balding, and a brand-new teacher when he was hired by Los Altos High School in California.  As we students waited outside the room on the first day for our teacher to show up, we caught sight of a slight, balding man who seemed very nervous, constantly popping peppermint lifesavers (since he couldn’t smoke on the school grounds).  We watched him silently, thinking, what have they given us this year?

Within fifteen minutes, however, he was fully in charge of our skeptical honors English class, positing intriguing questions and listening intently to our responses.  There was no condescension in his manner of teaching, only a genuine interest in taking us deeply into new aspects of our lives through a growing understanding of a wide variety of literature.

We found out, too, that he could be challenging, daring us to broaden our unexamined acceptance of social norms and take risks with our thinking, our discussion, and our writing.  He was skeptical of platitudes, political dogma, fuzzy thinking, and going strictly by the rules.

In addition, he invited controversy as a way of heightening dialogue, for example, with the bomb shelter exercise.  This supposed that a nuclear emergency was about to happen and that each of us had a bomb shelter that would accommodate four people at maximum.  However, each of us were part of a group of four friends or family members; one of us would not be able to stay with the rest in the shelter.  How would we decide who to leave outside to face the nuclear blast?  How did we experience such a chilling process of choosing?

A number of us students were wrung out over this choice, and our parents were concerned.  But Mr. Wilde held firm and said we’d have to learn to consider the consequences of our choices and actions in life.  Later, I understood that this was a theme that ran through the literature that we learned to explore in depth with him.

As a person from a small town in Idaho, he found his calling working in a milieu that allowed him to live out his personal and professional dreams.  As I wrote in my book (Success with Soul-- Loving Your Livelihood, Living in Balance), of Paul Child, husband to famed chef, Julia Child:  “He was willing, over and over, to take risks, try new things, and most of all, fully appreciate and engage with whatever opportunities came his way.”  And so did Mr. Wilde, who introduced us to opera, which he loved, and later in his career, organized trips for his students to Europe to hear opera in its native lands.

When he died, in a tragic accident, ten years after his arrival at our high school, his memorial service was attended by a swarm of bereaved students from each year he’d taught.

What can we learn from being in the presence of a person who has the ability and confidence to inspire the transformation of our ways of thinking, feeling, and acting into truer, more authentic ways of relating and acting in the world?  For me, it has been about helping to empower others in similar ways through my own work and my relationships with others.

What about for you?

Beyond Jane Austen-- It Takes a Community to Create an Ebook!

Have you ever written a book?  Or thought about writing one?  I know when I had something I wanted to share I assumed that writing an article about something was a quicker, more useful way to communicate my ideas and thoughts to others.

Just over a year ago, however, I realized that I had enough professional material about life coaching to organize into a book, and I felt the energy inside me to go forward with this plan.  When I began actually outlining what I wanted to say in my book last February, it quickly became clear to me that I was not going to be Jane Austen writing and seeking publication in private ways.  I would be writing and self-publishing an ebook that would require a lot of input and guidance from people both known and unknown to me to make a showing in the world.

From the start, my book was a communal venture, based on the interactions between me and my clients during our coaching and body-energy experiencing sessions and teleclasses.  Requesting permission to draw from some of their responses and discoveries was a special way of affirming and coalescing what they had found of value in coaching together for their professional and personal transitions.

During the five months I was actually writing, my companions in community were friends who were also writing books, and my own coach.  With them, I began to understand that writing a book was moving me onto a larger platform in my professional development.  Now I had a larger message and a bigger vision to share!

As I moved into completion of my draft, I realized I needed permission from various authors I’d quoted.  I also wanted to find people whose opinions of writing I valued to read over my book and give me feedback.  Thirdly, I had to find authors and practitioners whose ability and integrity I appreciated to write testimonials.  The process of connecting with these authors, colleagues, friends, and family members was inspiring!-- and broadened the parameters of my “book community.”  What I tapped into was a wealth of generosity, insight, and support that brightened the transition from writing into the next step of creating a professional product.

The next people to enter my community have been professionals in the new worlds of editing, book design, formatting, and “platforming” to ebook distribution sites such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks.  Here began another round of learning how to collaborate with and finally, turn over, my ebook “baby” to others who could midwife its debut into the world.

For example, the image on the cover of my book was a collaborative effort between me and my book designer, Mark.  Imagine trying to find one image to convey the words in my book title-- “success,” “soul,” “loving your livelihood,” and/or “living in balance.”  Where would you even begin?  What I found was that the first step was like asking a powerful question in coaching-- what was it I most wanted to express about the message of my book?  In the end, I followed my instinct and went with “The Wave” as an image of energy, empowerment, and forward motion-- while Mark’s skill made it radiant for the cover.

As I now begin the next big transition into spreading the word about my book, I’m reflecting on the power and support of my evolving community that unfurled organically as my book, Success with Soul-- Loving Your Livelihood, Living in Balance, gradually took form.  In this next part of the journey, I’m looking forward to spreading my arms wide to the ever-growing community that will open as my book moves out of my hands and takes flight!

Risking Change-- Facing the Fear of Not-Knowing

One of the biggest obstacles people confront in making an important change in their lives is facing their own fear of not knowing what will happen when they take this step.  Will they drop into the void-- or make the leap from the cliff’s edge to the other side?  If they get to the other side, what will they have left behind and will they find their heart’s desire?

You may remember the moment when you absolutely knew you had to make a change in your job or the way you live.  You may have had significant dreams, body signals (stress, pain, illness), or other signs, such as burnout or lack of interest at work, shouting that your existing life patterns no longer feel meaningful.  What made you begin to pay attention to these subliminal messages?  When did you feel that the way you were working or living was too cramped, that you had to push your way out of the shell surrounding you into a bigger life?

As you know, resistance to an upwelling clamor for change within yourself can come at a high cost.  One woman I worked with in a software firm was struggling, after a difficult family crisis, to maintain the energy she’d formerly had for her job.  She had to take several sick leaves and had occasional difficulty completing projects for which she was responsible.

She was terrified of being fired, though she also longed to be, and the emotional stress was overwhelming.  As we explored her situation, I asked her what it was she feared the most.  “Not knowing what I want to be doing instead,” she responded.

Initially, she’d enjoyed her position, but now felt she was developing into a different kind of person.  Other interests of hers were wanting expression with a completely different way of working-- and a new partner for life.  However, she hesitated to leap out of her current career when she wasn’t clear about the direction she wanted to take next.

So I suggested that she take walks at her lunch break to exercise her body (which was also a goal of hers) and free her mind.  Her journaling after some of her walks reflected new openings into what was truly important to her-- collaborative work with others in some field involving personal growth and lifelong learning.  In the quote below, notice her attunement to her own call through the energy of nature, with the metaphors of the “path” and “the two egrets flying together” reflecting her desires for professional and personal change:

Later in the walk, I turned a corner and saw the road stretching out
ahead of me.  I am on the path to my future, I thought.  I wonder what
it will bring?  At that moment, I saw two egrets flying together far up ahead.

This was her first step on a journey of much inner reflection that stirred the waters of her desire into a path towards a more personally fulfilling way of working and living.  And yes, she succeeded, as you can read in my forthcoming book (information below).

It’s understandable that we cling to the known for its predictability, comforts, and societal approval.  However, when the emotional pain of this clinging becomes too great, we have the opportunity-- with the right kind of support-- to choose to move past fear of not knowing into our potential for living and working authentically and well.

For more depth in exploring the topic of facing the unknown in risking change, I invite you to read my forthcoming ebook, Success with Soul-- Loving Your Livelihood, Living in Balance!, due out in January.  If you’re on my email list, you’ll be receiving information about how to order it.  If you’re interested in being on my email list, please contact me at

What is Success with Soul?

Right now, it’s playoff time in American major-league baseball, with its heady atmosphere and personal stories of its players seeping through newspaper ink, the airwaves, the ether, and even, at times, my mind with its limited awareness of this national pastime. However, one player’s story from a recent New York Times editorial leapt off the press for me.

Did you know that there is a terrific pitcher on the New York Mets team who was an English literature major in college and who used his literary skill to write a “well-received” recent memoir about “his own struggles with childhood sexual abuse and adult loneliness and shame”?  Meet pitcher R.A. Dickey who is 37 (old for a pro baseball player) and just started with the Mets in 2010. Like the protagonist of Bernard Malamud’s book, The Natural, Dickey spent many years in the minor leagues before getting his big chance.

In my forthcoming book, Success with Soul-- Loving Your Livelihood, Living in Balance, there is a chapter called, “Defining Success on Your Own Terms,” in which I write about the quality of “soul” that is the essence of fulfilling work and lives:

             ....I am stirred by what Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul, says, that work is “central to the soul’s opus.” I want to know more about work as “soulful.” When we say something has soul, like joyous music, we mean that it grabs our spirit and sings out to us.  When something feels soulless, like certain work environments, on the other hand, we have a feeling of deadness or lack of energy in its presence.  

             Soul is a feeling of life and vibrancy that we can feel within from our experiences and relationships in the world. Soul is real and tangible, and it deeply affects our ability to feel satisfied with the lives that we create for ourselves.

Returning to R.A. Dickey, I find his story simply fascinating as regards the evolution of “soul” in the sudden arc of success in his work and life. As the NY Times editorial says, “before joining the Mets . . . he had played pro ball for 16 years. They were difficult ones . . . He was a middling pitcher . . . He got bumped around, sent down and passed over. He started getting old.” Did Dickey start to feel an urgency at his age and stage of life that his work begin to grab his spirit?  Was he looking for a change of career-- or for a way to succeed as a baseball pro? Certainly, he was feeling the need for something that might call forth his spirit more than warming the bench in a baseball minor league.

I don’t know his whole story or what motivated him to start practicing the knuckleball-- “a spinless pitch as difficult to master as it is to hit.” Whatever it was, he came through this season as a winning pitcher with a unique pitch-- “the bright light” of a team in trouble. More than that, however, he also climbed Mount Kilimanjaro earlier this year to help raise money to support women and girl victims of slave trafficking in India. Plus, he wrote his book. 

Success with soul for Dickey was clearly more than making it to a major league in baseball, though that was certainly important and gave him a larger platform with which to share his voice. In his mid-thirties, he opened his heart from his own sufferings and took conscious, visible action on behalf of the sufferings of others. He found the “soul” in his “success”-- “a feeling of life and vibrancy that we can feel within from our experiences and relationships in the world.”


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