What Worked

I took the time to sit and meditate for 20 minutes this morning.  What came to me in meditation was a reminder of what worked for me in the past.  The other day I wrote that post titled “Healing” and mentioned how in 2008 I was more intuitive then I am now.  I wasn’t really asking why that was.  At some level I know and just haven’t said it out loud.  What came to me in meditation inspired me to put the answer out here.

When I first started down this path I did two very important things.  I read The Law of Attraction: The Teachings of Abraham by Jerry and Esther Hicks and I took a meditation course.  It was around that time that I was manifesting a level of success and peace I’d never seen before in my life.  In that time I decided to write a novel after 12 years of not writing at all.  I’m sure the idea sounded crazy to everyone around me.  Most people didn’t even know I could write.  But I set the intention with absolutely no plans of failing.  I also just wanted to create a better me and a more joyful life.

I started meditating 2 times a day for 20 minutes at each sitting.  The girls were very young at that time.  Looking back on it I don’t see how I even thought it was possible, but I did and it became possible.  I was disciplined and it worked.  It changed me forever.  I also started visualizing my day on paper every morning and reading a daily devotional.  I would write out the way my day would look, filling the page with affirmations about peace, love, and joy.

When the idea for my first novel came to me I made a writing schedule.  I’d write three pages of my novel every evening NO MATTER WHAT.  I took my lap top and wrote when we were on vacation.  I wrote when a friend came to visit from out of town.  I stayed up late and wrote if necessary, but I always finished those three pages and often wrote more.  Before each writing session I’d write my intentions and affirmations about what would be achieved in the session then I’d say a prayer.

I finished that book in 3 and a half months.  It ended up being 100,000 words which is almost twice as long as the second novel that I spent over a year writing.  That first one is raw and amateurish, but it is also intense and powerful. I was truly tuned into God when I wrote that book.  Often times I’d go back and read in disbelief that the words had come from me.

I continued some of those practices long after the book was finished.  It was at least 2 years before I missed a meditation session and I planned my day on paper for about a year.

At some point though, I got overconfident or lazy.  I thought I’d reached a point where I didn’t need to “plan” my day or meditate as often.  I allowed myself to get busy or slack.  So I made those quantum leaps of progress a few years ago and am no where near where I thought I’d be by 2011.  Without a doubt I took 3 steps forward and 2 steps back.  I can never go back completely, but right now I’m close enough.

So I’m examining what worked for me before and I am setting the intention to embrace something that works for me again.  I do so want to be an instrument for the Divine and not a slave to my Ego.  To take an idea from Wayne Dyer…I’ve had enough of this Edging God Out.

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Fame and Fortune

In this era of reality TV and social networking, I think it’s pretty safe to say that the desire for “fame” is within all of us, even if it’s there in a very small dose.  We want to do something that will attract the attention of others.  I think it explains why we are inclined to put up those cryptic attention-getting status updates so that people will bang down our inboxes with questions and concerns.  Regardless of what our jobs are, we imagine reaching the peak of that experience.

I said in another post that I am low-maintenance.  I enjoy the simplicity of my life and at times am even proud of it.  But I’ve also always craved the limelight a bit.  When I was a teacher I did fantasize about being “teacher of the year” (or even being nominated) and the second that I started writing again I dreamed of being the next big author.

Then there’s the fortune part of this post.  I think it’s also in all of us to desire riches.  When I was young I had plenty, but there was always someone who had a little more.  Every time my mother bought me a new Barbie, the next-door neighbor’s mom would buy her two.  I had the Barbie Jeep and she had the Barbie RV.  She had the Barbie dream house 2 years before I had mine.  In high school, I drove a 1979 Honda Accord that we (my friends and I) named “The Little Brown Turd” and two of my closest friends drove much newer and better cars.  They also lived in bigger houses.  I had it good, but sometimes I thought if I had  a better car or a bigger house and more money to spend my life would be better.

Here I am as an adult and for the most part I have all the stuff I want.  Mark and I have come a long way through the years.  We started our life together with nothing but a few pieces of furniture we brought from our parent’s homes.  Each year we’ve grown a little bit richer and yet there is still the desire that if we just had a bit more we could be happier.  I still browse through Realtor.com from time to time checking out the bigger houses and occasionally wish I could replace my entire wardrobe with clothes from nicer stores than Old Navy and Target (no offense as I love these stores).

Recently I had the opportunity to get the feel of both fame and fortune.  I sat next to a woman at the television studio before Lissa’s interview.  I didn’t even realize she was famous.  She walked in fidgeting with her phone.  Apparently, it wasn’t working.  Being connected was an absolute necessity in her world.  She had a day filled with appointments including a telephone interview with NPR that same afternoon.  I was beside her as she made the call to her cell carrier and for the first time truly understood what it meant to feel someone else’s energy.  Her world was crashing down upon her because she didn’t have a cell phone.  It might sound like I’m picking on her a bit, but I really am not.  This was her world…one of fame.  In order to stay in the position she is in, she must keep all these balls in the air and that includes the ability to make and answer the calls that are constantly coming in.  I’ve dreamed of her life without even grasping just what it means and what has to be sacrificed to live it.

I also met someone who was ultra-wealthy.  This person had everything money could buy, yet longed for deep friendships and connections with like-minded people.  I looked around their amazing home and knew in that moment the grass isn’t always greener and money will not buy happiness.

I’ve alluded to this topic in my last two posts.  I wrote about realizing my big dream wasn’t really right for me and about how we miss opportunities to do things that are great for ourselves and the people in our small circle by trying to fit labels.  This is just an extension of that.  I think ultimately the motivation behind the choices we make has to be pure and beneficial.  If we are doing things just to get rich or famous, we will probably find ourselves less than full-filled.  My advice to myself (and you if you dare to take it) is to seek to give, help, connect, and heal and perhaps by following that path the stars in my eyes will be transformed.

Grateful for the Book Tour

I knew I’d be writing a post like this.  I knew I’d feel changed and ever-grateful for my time with Lissa last week.  But to tell you the truth I thought it would be for totally different reasons than it is.

You see, Lissa is a Goddess.  She is a Rockstar.  She is a Rockstar Goddess!  She is grace under pressure with enough energy to light up a big city.  I was in awe of the way she moved through each day, accomplishing everything on the agenda, answering her hundreds of emails, and being loving and open enough to sit and talk with individuals after events about their very personal female problems.  She has made her way to the stage and it’s going to be so much fun to watch it all unfold and know I had a small part in it.

When the opportunity to serve as “roadie” was first brought to me I told Mark I needed to do it so I’d know if my career goals were right for me.  Since I started writing again in 2007, I have dreamed of a career like Lissa’s.  I wanted to write books and travel, speaking to crowds and doing book signings.  I’ve thought so much about this dream that in ways it has disrupted my creative writing.  As time passes and I see myself no closer to “the goal” it has really brought me down.  So getting to experience the “Rockstar Author” life vicariously through Lissa was just what I needed.

I assumed that I’d get there and think “YES!! THIS IS THE LIFE FOR ME!”  Instead, it didn’t take long for me to realize I thrive on the simple, quiet life I have.  I reserve the right to change my mind (which is something I am told Charles Fillmore, founder of Unity, used to say), but that high-demand-everybody-wants-a-piece-of-you  life is not for me.  I love that I can sit on the couch and read a book for an hour without feeling like there is something else I need to be doing.  It’s nice knowing I get to pick the girls up from school everyday and schedule playdates for them.  I don’t need to be anyone else’s Rockstar because I am one to the people it matters to the most.

During her presentations, Lissa often mentioned how you can leave your job but you can’t leave your calling.  Her calling as an OBGYN was to take care of women.  As the author of What’s Up Down There? and creator of Owning Pink, she is still answering that call.  This was something that flashed like a red light across my imagination every time she said it.   THE CALLING!  I’m not 100% sure of my calling but the trip definitely gave me some ideas.  Although I’m resisting it like you wouldn’t believe, I think it has something to do with teaching!  Just like Lissa, I left that traditional job yet I still feel called to help educate people (though I’m not exactly sure on the subject).

This Thanksgiving week, I am so grateful for the chance I had to test-drive the car before I plunked down the money to buy it.  Now I’m one step closer to the me I’m meant to be!

In honor of the holiday week the next 4 days on the blog will be low-key!  I am still in need of “click stories” if you have an “aha” moment you’d like to write about!

EXCITEMENT and a Blog Break

I’ve been sitting on this exciting news for about two months now.  When I was first approached with the opportunity, I made the choice not to talk about it too much.  I had very logical thinking:  If I talk about it, it will disappear.  Although I mentioned it to those closest to me, I didn’t announce it until the plane tickets were booked and it was official.

What is this big news you ask?  On Monday I am flying to Miami to join Lissa Rankin on the Florida leg of her book tour.  We will be traveling to Boca Raton, Orlando, and Tampa.  I get to be her roadie/personal assistant.  After over a year of having an online friendship with Lissa and writing for her wonderful website, Owning Pink, I finally get to meet her face to face and soak up some of her radiant energy.  It’s also not too shabby that I get to see the inner-workings of a book tour and travel along with someone doing my dream job!

With that being said, I will not be blogging next week.  I’ve decided to devote next week to the writers that help me write.  Each day I will feature a writer who has actually read my fiction and provided me with feedback.  In essence these are the people whose names would appear in an acknowledgment section if say I get a novel published someday.

Each day I’ll briefly introduce you to someone and then provide the links to their websites and/or blogs so that you can learn more about them and read their writing.

Have a wonderful week!  I will be back with something new on Monday the 22nd!

On Being Low-Maintenance

The great thing about choosing a path of self-discovery is that you become aware of your strengths and weaknesses.  As time goes by and you remain open you are prone to bursts of insight that illustrate how it is you’ve arrived where you are.

Lately I’ve written or thought about writing things that are controversial or just not things we’re comfortable talking about.  I’ve thought about the risk.  I don’t want to offend or embarrass anyone  (and these ideas aren’t about specific people but rather topics and themes, so please don’t worry that I’m plotting to write about you).  In ruminating on the risk, I’ve also remembered Stephen King’s writing advice about telling the truth.  I want to take his advice, but I don’t want to bother anyone.

With all this on my mind, I had one of those light-bulb moments the other day.  I identified that I have spent the majority of my life doing my best to stay out of people’s way, make sure they are comfortable, and be as low-maintenance as possible.

In high school I managed to accommodate everyone in my life.  I rebelled just enough to have a good time with my friends, but not so much that I sent my parents over the deep end.  I kept my grades up, always made it to class on time, turned in assignments, and followed the school rules.  I’ve never been one to ask a lot of questions…who has time for my questions right?   If I find myself in the middle of an offensive conversation, you might see me nod or laugh politely even if I’m inwardly seething.  When I was dating, I was the girl who’d order the cheapest thing on the menu and eat all of it so as not to appear wasteful or inconsiderate.  I take pride in my ability to be able to get ready for an evening out in 30 minutes or less.  I also never (or very rarely) pamper myself with spa treatments or shopping sprees and when I do splurge on a retreat or workshop it is not without a little guilt.  Somewhere along the way I must have decided that I wasn’t really deserving of people’s time, money, help, or consideration.

A couple of years ago I had gone to a party held by a friend.  At the party I’d had more than a few drinks.  Later on my friend conveyed the following observation about me that a fellow party guest had made (and I am paraphrasing).

“Leslee is always the same, easy going person.  Whether she is happy, sad, mad, or drunk, she is always the same.”

At the time, I took it as a compliment.  And I do think it was meant to be a compliment (otherwise my friend wouldn’t have passed it on).  But now I think about that and realize it is just another way that I stay out of people’s way…by always being even-keeled.

Over the year and a half that I’ve been at this blog I have taken more risk than I ever have in my life.  Some of my relationships have taken hits because of it.  I’ve shared truths that people didn’t agree with or just didn’t want to hear.  I’ve had moments of deep sadness because of those reactions.  But I have grown tremendously too.

When I look at my life, I must admit that I will probably continue to be low-maintenance in a lot of areas.  This “click” will not lead me to start scheduling massages and manicures or having public outbursts of emotion.  But when it comes to my writing, I will apply the lesson I learned here.  I will be honest and fearless, and it’s very likely that some people won’t like it.  But it will be real and to quote Wayne Dyer “I would rather be loathed for who I am than loved for who I am not.”

Rebekah M’s Click

Rebekah found my blog through Love-olution and sent me the following click story about finding her career path. You can follow Rebekah on her blog Another World Is Probable. In addition to working as a journalist she also wrote a book called Just A Girl From Kansas: One Woman’s Dreams Are Ant-Sized Compared To What Lay Ahead, which will be published by her company Tri-Sight Entertainment next year.

Rebekah M’s click

It would be disingenuous for me to say I’ve had a click moment. More like moments. In truth, my life is a series of clicks, some big and dramatic, some small and subtle. What follows is one of my more dramatic clicks.

As a sophomore in high school I joined the yearbook staff. I loved yearbook. I looked forward to it and didn’t even mind if I had to stay after school to finish some work. At the end of the year I was so proud of our book – the cover, the layouts, the photographs. I thought it was award-winning material. The staff went to a yearbook camp at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill and I was sure we would win something.

We didn’t.

Watching all those other high schools win awards I took the determination that next year my high school would win something.

My junior year I became the editor-in-chief of the yearbook because there were no seniors to take up the post. Our theme was Evolution, something concocted by the former editor-in-chief. She laid the whole thing out for me – how we would start in black and white and eventually progress to color. How our typography would begin with a typewriter-esque font and evolve into something more modern. The whole nine yards.

The entire year I poured my blood, sweat and tears into that book. I made sure the whole thing screamed Evolution from our copy to our visuals. I took work home with me many a night to ensure we made our deadlines. Even though it was stressful I loved every minute of it. Even when I wanted to pull out my hair.

The year ended and it was again time for yearbook camp at UNC-Chapel Hill. I sat in the 400-person lecture hall with the lights dimmed and the projection screen lowered with my heart pounding. Would we win anything? Would our name flash across the screen?

Yes.

We won 12 awards that day including first place for theme copy, which I wrote. In that moment, when I saw my name flash across the screen I realized I wanted to be a journalist. Not only that I wanted to be a journalist but that I could be. That it was possible.

It is my firm belief the Universe communicates with us like that all the time. That there are a series of moments where we can give into what is being conveyed to us. Where we can say, “Yes. I believe you. I trust in divine guidance and I’m willing to take the plunge,” or not. I hope you say yes because when you do your heart will sing and the world becomes magical. I hope you say yes because as Paulo Coehlo would say in The Alchemist you are following your personal legend. And there’s nothing more gratifying than that.

What am I doing now? I’m a professional journalist. I don’t work for the New York Times or the Washington Post but I make a living as a writer. And all because of that one moment at yearbook camp.


Why I Like Eminem and The Wire

I’m in the car the other day and the new Eminem song (the one with Rhianna) comes on.  I sing along to the chorus, it moves me, I think it’s good.  I can’t say that it is actually good though.  The song in essence is about a violent and abusive relationship.    It is an artistic expression of the if I can’t have you no one can attitude.

Knowing this makes me question why I like the song.  Am I sick and twisted?  He sings about hurting her and she answers that she likes the way it hurts, loves the way he lies.  After giving it some thought I realized it is the honesty that speaks to me.  I don’t know that Eminem has ever lied to us in his music and lyrics.  He draws from what he knows, thinks and feels.  He takes the rage and instead of balling it up and pretending to be good and proper, he creates from it.

He admits his mistakes.  He warns of possible back slides.  He tells the truth as he knows it.  The truth reaches people.  It touches them for better or worse.

I loved the TV show The Wire because it told the truth.  The characters were believable.  The good guys were really bad sometimes and the bad guys were really good at other times.  Nobody is one or the other and an honest story shows us that.

Someone mention the honesty factor in response to my Stephen King post.  In his book, King talks about how important it is to tell the truth in your writing.  I’d say that falls in line with all creative expression.  When you put yourself out there and expose real emotions in your art or work, people will connect to it.