Energizing Your Dream

What Will Inspire You to Get Out of Bed & Do What You Really Want to Do?

Now that the high of New Year’s greetings with friends and colleagues is passing, and you can still see the pristine, snowy ground of a new beginning, what did you say you really wanted to do?  And by when?  Have you gotten out of bed yet and begun . . . any part of this?

I’m thinking of Hildegarde von Bingen-- the renowned 12th-century mystic,  artist, writer, composer, healer, and spiritual leader, living on the Rhine River in Germany-- who had her own call to action at age 42, thirty-four years after she began living in a convent and several years after she became its head prioress.  Though active and successful in her religious community, she was often ill and laid up in bed, unable to speak or act. 

    What kept Hildegarde in bed-- and what did she really want to do?  During her illnesses, she experienced amazing visions that she longed to express, but felt powerless to do so.  She was literally silenced by the patriarchy of the church; and had no support to live out her true purpose, which was to express her deepest spiritual visions.  Finally, it seems, she got sick of being sick and silenced.  “Beaten down by many kinds of illnesses, I put my hand to writing.  Once I did this . . . I received the strength to rise up from my sick bed, and under that power I continued to carry out the work....”

As a somatic therapist, I’ve often witnessed the way your body-- with symptoms severe enough to keep you lying low-- can force you to realize that you’re not doing what matters to you or not speaking with your true voice.  Then you have the choice, as Hildegarde did, of lying in bed and giving up your power-- or heeding the symptoms as your wake-up call to take action on your own path to fulfillment. 

Even more importantly, as Gregg Levoy notes in his book, Callings-- “When we sleep, we do not sleep alone.  Some of the great myths-- Sleeping Beauty, for example-- speak about the truth that when we sleep, all around us also sleep.”  So only when we awaken, can we support others and the whole world in their awakening.  The simple act of getting out of bed and beginning to do what we know is important for us to do, consciously and compassionately, will have a very positive impact on our whole society.

Getting in touch with her own inner well of courage, Hildegarde sawher symptoms for the wake-up call they were and got out of bed to write with her true voice.  It was then, in mid-life, that she went forward to live out her destiny as a creative and powerful political and spiritual force in her own time-- and to leave an incredible legacy of music, art, and writing whose beauty and power we still feel now.

  So I’m curious--

- Is there anything keeping you in bed, not letting you live out the call of your spirit
and what you really want to be doing now?

- If so, what would inspire you to get out of bed and into your real, authentic life?

- How loud does your wake-up call need to be?

- What kind of support do you need to wake up and begin to do what is really
important to you, now?

Lighting the Spark-- Creating Connection Through Your Passion!

In Greek mythology, possibly the most important character as far as humans are concerned is Prometheus-- the Titan intermediary who brought the divine spark of fire from the gods as his life-supporting gift to people.  For daring to carry this spark of flame, his passion, from the heavens to his earth-bound fellows, Prometheus was severely punished by being chained to a rock and having Zeus’ own eagle pluck out his liver every day until he was finally rescued by Heracles.  Despite his suffering, Prometheus was passionate that all humans have access to that divine spark of fire that can inspire greater vision and connection with its illumination and healing warmth. 

            The book,The Art of Possibility, claims that “our universe is alive with sparks.  We have at our fingertips an infinite capacity to light a spark of possibility.”  I would go even farther than that-- I would say that each of us has a personal responsibility for finding ways to share our passionate sparks with others so they themselves will catch the sparks and go further in living out their own passionate dreams.  

            In just the past few weeks, I’ve been noticing these sparks igniting enthusiasm and a sense of possibilities all around me, even in difficult or grim situations, such as: 

  • Girls in Pakistan demanding and getting opportunities for quality education in impoverished communities where families traditionally cannot afford it and do not value it 
  • Tim Lincecum (pitcher) and Edgar Rentaria (ace batter) of the San Francisco Giants pulling themselves out of crippling slumps in late summer to inspire their team to win its first-ever World Series baseball championship this fall 
  • A Stanford classmate who is thrilled about his transition from overseas aid projects toa new job promoting the rights and well-being of severely needful patients in a mental hospital 

            One of my clients recently expressed this sense of wanting to give something of meaning to society with a new career that allows her to use her “passion and enthusiasm,” as well as her particular skills, to connect people with resources that will make a difference in their lives.  As The Art of Possibility states, “The life force for humankind is, perhaps, nothing more or less than the passionate energy to connect, express, and communicate, . . . [lighting] sparks from person to person, scattering light in all directions.”  What greater gift can we give or receive? 

                                    Join in the Discussion! 

  • When have you lit a spark in others that has validated their own passion and let their true selves come forth? 
  • Which people and/or experiences have lit this spark in you?  What kind of difference has this made in your life?
  • What is your biggest dream for passionate connection in the world?

Risking Rejection -- Opening the Door to What You Really Want!

My blog post last week, “Your Dream Rejected-- How This Can Work for You?”, triggered a lot of conversation on the internet.  I was impressed by the acknowledgement that when and only when you agree to risk reaching out with your desire and passion for the work you want, the book you want to write, or the way you want to live will there be the possibility of a door opening toward your dream.  

            Autumn Wagner’s comment about being persistent with her job-seeking calls was that she realized that “I could not get to the yes’s without going through the no’s . . . Rejection is indeed evidence that you are putting in the effort and energy needed to achieve your goal or dream.  When I start getting rejections on my first novel, I will congratulate myself for having finished the manuscript!”  

            I feel that Diane Conway, author of What Would You Do If You Had No Fear?, gets to the core of the issue when she says:  “The only people who never get rejected are the ones who refuse to take risks.  Not risking is permanent rejection.”  

            Of course, being ready to risk rejection works best when you’re committed to going for something meaningful for you or living out your purpose in a way that expresses who you are.  When you really want something enough, it doesn’t feel like a risk to put yourself out for it.  Rather, it feels like an opportunity to live out something vital from within yourself.  

            As acupuncturist Julie Rose commented:  “Gabriel García Marquez took One Hundred Years of Solitude to 56 publishers before it was published in 1967. It was awarded a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. That’s vision and determination. 56 rejections!”  Did he feel scared, upset, nervous, and maybe some days, just plain reluctant to subject himself to possible rejection by publishers?  No doubt.  But what strength of conviction he had in his work and in himself to keep going forward towards the fruition of his writing dream!  

                    Join in the conversation! 

  • What is it that would come alive in you if you risked the possibility of rejections? 
  • When has the possibility of rejection stopped you from going forward? 
  • What do you need to know about yourself to commit to risking changing your  career and/or the way in which you live?

Your Dream Rejected?-- How This Can Work for You!

When I was in my 20’s, it was my dream to be a great poet, published and recognized for the depth and quality of my work.  I had other jobs to pay the bills, but writing poetry was the work I did to express my authentic self.  Of course, if you’re going to be a recognized writer, you have to send out your work for publication.  You have to be seen.  This realization at first sent shivers down my spine of fear and excitement.  I was sending myself out into the world with each envelope of poetry mailed off to a new publication! 

            Well, you can imagine what happened.  I had some lucky hits that struck the right target magazines and got published.  I also had dozens of rejections returned to me as small slips of paper with mostly impersonal messages--  “Thank you for your submission.  Your work does not fit our current requirements.”  At first, I was dismayed that my own original voice was not being heard out in the market place.   

            Then I began to see the humor in being rejected from so many different magazines from all over the country.  I started plastering a wall in my bedroom with the rejection slips, because I wanted to write, and I wanted to show that they weren’t going to stop me.  Also, I figured if someone had sent me a rejection, that meant that, in any case, they had seen my poems.  Whereas, if I’d never sent them out, no one would even have read them at all.   

            To paraphrase from former professor Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture, “If you’re wanting to create something and you hit a wall, it’s the universe saying, ‘How badly do you want it?’”  I wanted A LOT to be seen and heard in my own unique way-- & curiously, these tangible rejections reminded me that I was staying on track with my vision.  All I had to do was find the right targets, educate the right people, and I’d be out there with my published poetry.  And that’s what happened.

            Now when I coach people who are serious about going in a career direction that’s radically new for them, we do exercises to play with their attitudes about what it is to be rejected.  Rejections can be learning experiences that remind you of what you want and what you don’t want in your life.  Remember, too, that rejections often have to do with conditions beyond your control (e.g., who’s in charge, finances, etc.).  Rejections can actually help remind you to take charge of the directions you choose, the people with whom you connect, and the way you educate your contacts about the benefits of what your plans.  Rejections can be motivators that help propel you forward! 

            Join in the conversation!                     

  • What’s your dream or vision for yourself?
  • How badly do you really want to achieve your dream?
  • What will help you find the value in rejections as you go forward towards your dream?

Poetry and New Choices for Authentic Living

I found it!
      And now when the storms wail
      and the face of the sun is masked in clouds,
      when my shining fate revolves to dark,
      my light will never be extinguished!

                    --  Fatwa Tuqan

            These words, written by a Palestinian woman in her homeland during the tumultuous period of the 1930’s & ’40’s, reflected both the chaos in her family’s life at that time and her emerging presence as a traditionally raised woman joyfully embracing her new professional identity as a writer, a poet, and radio speaker. 

            Fatwa Tuqan was a woman brought up to obey the men of her family, not to express contrary opinions, and to stifle her own feelings and voice.  She was forbidden ever to leave the house, for her whole life, because she accepted a jasmine blossom from young man who dared not speak to her (while walking home from school, which she loved “more than home” for the way it nurtured her longing for a wider world).

             For her to move forward as a writer, reading her words aloud to others, and at last speaking authentically, was an unimaginable leap of creation, requiring a deep connection to poetry, the support of her brother in transforming herself, and the belief that this self-transformation was essential for her to thrive.  “One day you finally knew what you had to do,” as the poet, Mary Oliver, states unequivocably.

             As both a life coach and poet, I am deeply aware of the importance of finding out what you are passionate about, what you are wanting to share with others-- then finding the work and the way of living that allows you to embrace your passion and expand your life.


 1)   How have you felt held back from expressing what really matters to you?

 2)   How have you been supported in being authentic and open to your aliveness?

 3) What is the light in you that will overcome your clouds of fear?

Opening Your Door to Self-Confidence

According to the latest research by the International Coach Federation (ICF), one of the major reasons people come for coaching is for issues around self-confidence. Of course, this is not what people say when they ask me about coaching. What they say is that they want to find a career that has meaning to them-- or a way to express their creativity-- or explore how to live more spaciously, with quality time for family, work, and self. 

     I've noticed, however, that at the bottom of most people's desires for change lie doubts and worries about whether they are ready or able enough to step into the more fulfilling life that they wish. "Do I have what it takes to do or be ___________?" "Can I be in my own power and be successful in my relationships and at work?" 

     As I see in my coaching work every day, when you begin to understand what is genuinely fulfilling to you and learn to make choices & take steps that guide you towards this fulfillment, your sense of personal power and confidence grows exponentially! 

     If any of you feel moved to respond to any of the following questions, I’d been delighted to hear what you’re thinking and feeling: 

What does your inner Doubter say about yourself or your abilities that get in your way of finding work or a lifestyle that you really want? 

What has helped you move away from your Doubter and move forward towards your professional or personal dream? 

What would be useful to you now in feeling confident about living a more fulfilled life?