Overcoming Resistance

Victoria MUSE ImageOne of my favorite books is “Do What you Love, the Money Will Follow” by Marsha Sinetar.  As a serial entrepreneur who now coaches others on how to start their own businesses, I have read that paperback book so many times that the binder tore in half and the pages have turned yellow.

Sinetar was on the forefront of the “follow your passion” movement, inspiring workers of all stripes to tap into their intuitive wisdom and to view money as more of an energetic exchange for their offerings. I was inspired by her encouragement, but also appreciated how she wrote about the tormenting power of Resistance.

It takes a lot of self determination, discipline and faith to listen to your heart. Breaking free from the pack and following your Muse takes courage.  This sort of creative iteration can be scary and unpredictable.

Resistance is like an old friend that tells us it is OK to binge watch your favorite show on Netflix or spend endless hours checking email.  Of course those activities, in and of themselves, can be relaxing after a long day.  However, when we do them in order to avoid hearing our own voice, reading a book to increase our knowledge or taking a risk, they are simply an avoidance tool.

Last week I watched all 3 seasons of Arrested Development and listened to the entire “Bad with Money” podcast by Gaby Dunn (3 years of episodes).  While Arrested Development IS funny and a mindless distraction, and admittedly I learned a lot about personal finance from Gaby and her guests, I was surprised at the amount of time and energy I spent on those activities.

That same week, I also rode up to Lake Forest on my motorcycle, holed up in a gorgeous Starbucks and wrote for 2 hours. I gave myself an assignment to write about my college years, and to write until I had nothing else to say.  I wrote about my immersion into Feminism while living at The Women’s Center at Beloit College.  I wrote about how creativity offered me a way out of a destructive lifestyle.  I wrote about the spirit guides I met who had introduced me to the concept of self preservation.

That writing session was cathartic, reflective, productive and exhausting.  In the end, I had only written four paragraphs to add to my memoir.  However, I had also viewed that formative chapter of my life through the lens of my 53 year old self.  It was WORK, painful and poignant.  The whole time I was writing it, however, I felt this intense energy and sense of purpose.

I think I scared myself.  Hanging out with my Muse in this fashion went against my old habits of Resistance, while also allowing me to see my full potential as a writer.  Inviting her in and giving her space to express herself opened me up to unbridled thoughts, opinions and feelings.  This internal exploration is all I really want to do lately – to think and reflect and write and concretize all that has happened so I can move forward.  Everything else feels like a distraction.

Perhaps Resistance is there as a buffer between who we know we can become and who we are today, like a brake pedal that slows us down when we feel we are moving too fast.  Growth can feel out of control at times, but stagnation assumes we have all the time in the world.  We don’t.

So next time Resistance tries to divert you from your path, gently acknowledge it, thank it for coming and then jump back into your journey with both feet. Finding your voice may feel disorienting, as if you are in a new country, but the new you will emanate like a kaleidoscope of shining, colorful reflections.

 

 

 

 

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How to Develop Risk Taking Skills

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Vic on Gypsy Motorcycle

ADVENTUROUS THINKING IS A CHOICE

We have opportunities to take risks every day, to explore something or someone new, and to expand our concept of our current reality. As an entrepreneur for 20+ years, living in the gray zone of curious expectation is my norm. On average, I usually have clients booked only two weeks out.  My income fluctuates and depends on word of mouth.  Even so, I trust that I will have exactly what I need.

By continuing to provide relevant and transformative services, I know from experience that the Universe will take care of me. Of course I also have an extensive savings system set up to ensure that I will be able to cover my bills. This combination of cultivating my gifts, continually reaching new audiences and trusting that the right clients will find me has allowed me to do what I love, confident that the money will follow.


Living in the gray area, or that place of not knowing, has a certain freedom, excitement and wonderment to it – if you can fight your resistance and fear.


OVERCOMING FEAR
What is fear really about? Fear is that place of not knowing what’s going to happen. Fear is that feeling that you are out of control. Fear is a concern that an outside force will somehow impact your reality.
In fact all of those things are true: we do not know what’s going to happen, we are not in control and outside forces can and will impact our reality on a regular basis. We are simply under the illusion that the secure job, insurance policy, dependable spouse or days spent at the gym will promise us health, wealth and security.
We can consciously cultivate flexibility in our bodies and minds.  This expansive nature will allow our bodies and minds to be responsive to the winds of change. Every day, we can cultivate our fluid consciousness by taking physical and mental steps towards receptivity and celebratory joy.

BECOMING MORE FLEXIBLE
What kind of steps can you take to expand your world? Think about the last time someone invited you to do something new or you encountered an idea that perhaps conflicted with what you already know. What was your initial reaction?
For many of us, our initial response is often a resounding NO! No to the new, no to the unknown, no to the unexpected plan, no to change. However, after some quiet time, a decent cup of coffee, and a stretching of the body and mind, we can revisit the ‘intruder’ and gradually allow it into our lives. Once we take the first step towards embracing that innovative concept, unknown friend or unexpected opportunity, we can usually wrap our minds around learning more.

In order to cultivate your experiential flexibility, consciously decide to learn something new, talk a stranger or explore an unknown food, event or podcast each day.

TOO BUSY SYNDROME
You may be saying, who has time for all that? I have to balance my job, my family, buying groceries, making dinner and running my house. I understand. I am married and have a son, I run my own business, I exercise on a daily basis and I’m currently writing a book. So how can we find time to invite novel experiences into our lives?
Consciously. Actively. Gratefully.
Just this morning, wanting to exercise and learn something new, I walked for an hour in 26° Chicago weather and listened to a Roberto Blake podcast.  I recently discovered Roberto’s YouTube channel: Always Be Creating – Roberto Blake, which has 1000’s of videos about creativity, personal branding, scaling your products/services and living a successful and balanced life as a creative. For me, discovering Roberto’s site and his abundant resources was like winning the lottery!

Make a list of ways you can invite revitalizing content, people, or experiences into your life.

Decide today to begin chipping away at any notions or choices that may be limiting your possibilities.  Commit to a mindful practice of curating your day, your month, and your future.  Fight against resistance and any stagnant forces that might be holding you back.

You deserve to have a flexible, relaxing, and responsive reality that opens you up for creative empowerment and joy.  If you would like individual coaching or to participate in Women’s Empowerment Workshops that will give you tools and skills to:  EXPLORE, CREATE, MAP OUT and IMPLEMENT your plan, join us at www.ToolsForReinvention.com.

Taking Center Stage

live mic image

I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but lately I’ve begun to feel invisible. At 53 years old, my natural brown hair has a funky flair to it. Due to tons of time at the gym and strict vegetarianism, I can still wear a swimsuit with pride.

Even so, for reasons I don’t understand, I go through entire days as a bystander.  It’s like I have become a trope – a cliche version of myself that even I don’t recognize.  To the external eye, I live the live the life of a suburban mom – driving a Jeep Compass, dropping my kid off at school, and spending my days writing a book on Experiments in Living in Starbucks.

“This is not who I really am!” I want to shout to anybody who will listen, “I am more than my current life!”

In an effort to take my written words to the stage, I sign up for Storytelling and Improvisation Classes.  I get vintage glasses and some funky overalls. I begin performing at open mics.  Just going out at night is an exciting diversion from my old life of shuttling my kid around and cooking dinner while listening to Marketplace on NPR.

Going to clubs alone, surrounded by strangers, I just want to be Victoria. I don’t tell people I am married and a mom.  These forays into my new world are like a beacon drawing me towards the not-so-distant future when my kid will leave for college.  My true self keeps calling me, waking me up at night, tugging on my shirt tails and begging to be heard.

Up until recently, I’d been stuck in this almost-done-parenting and getting-through-the winter mode. Comfort had become my main priority.  On any given day, my survivalist uniform was made up of: yoga pants, tank tops covered by hoodies, plastic/fleece-lined clogs, hip-hop head wraps around my Jewish Afro and a beaded choker.

Entire days would pass where my only interaction would be with a barista. On rare occasions, my teen son would grunt a one word response in my direction. Our conversations revolved around who would use the car and when, or how annoying it was that I was asking him yet another question. I found these conversations just as exhausting as he did.

My daily thoughts toggled between memories or themes I wanted to incorporate into my stories and how much I wanted to be done with parenting.

Looking at the calendar now, I see we have 5 more months until my son starts college.  5 months feels like an eternity.  Jumping off that cliff will be both terrifying and exhilarating.  Either way, I know I will discover iterations yet unknown in the process.

For now, stuck in that in-between space and ready to launch, all I can do is write, reflect, think and plan.  Tectonic plates are shifting – in my body, in my apartment and in my family.  New Victoria is begging for air time, as the threads connecting her to her previous identity slowly unravel and she emerges stronger than before.

I finally realize that the person I want to notice me is me. Walking onto the stage, I hold a live mic in my hand and begin the courageous journey of telling my story.

 

 

Unearthing your Genius and Discovering your Life’s Work

storytelling-wordlePerhaps you’ve been waking up early, driven by some nascent desire to excavate your genius and share your wisdom in some way. Who are you to want this recognition? You are the culmination of all that you have seen, experienced and created, that’s who.

 

If you find yourself drifting off, wondering about the purpose of your life and how you will incorporate this experiential knowledge into your current reinvention, this is for you.

 

Shifting Undercurrents Invite Us to Embark

 

4 years ago, I learned how to drive a motorcycle and took it out into the mountains west of Seattle. Speeding down country roads at 60 mph, I began to see possibilities stretch out before me.

 

Take a risk and learn something new. Expand your worldview.

 

I was on a roll. Building up my courage, I began collaborating with other writers and dedicated space for listening to my voice. I realized most of my life had been about Creative Metamorphosis. Writing about alternative ways of working, prospering and reinventing yourself consumed me.

 

Cultivate the skill of listening to and trusting your intuition.  Then act on it.

 

Take experiential adventures. Create without an agenda. Show up for others. Through this process, “Do What you Love, the Money will Follow” became a truism for me. My career coaching clients celebrated the clarity, balance and synthesis I helped them attain. Letting go of outcomes, I fully embraced my role as a conduit for change. The Universe responded.

 

Your innate gifts are waiting for you to acknowledge and celebrate them.

 

On the days when I question everything, my Vision Board reminds me that empowering women to trust their intuition and create magical lives is my jam. Writing and coaching are my current vehicles. Visualization is real and it works.

 

Your subconscious ramblings are messages from your future self. Concretize your aspirational reality by writing about it and selecting or creating images that represent it.

 

Ask yourself: what incremental steps can I take today towards my vision?

 

Give yourself the freedom to experiment, grow, risk, question and evolve.

 

At this moment, you have the potential to become the most expansive version of yourself. The process of heeding your calling, cultivating your gifts and acting on your dreams won’t happen overnight. It’s ok.  Give yourself time, attention and patience.

 

Exploring your passions takes courage. It’s scary to take risks but even scarier to stagnate. This task of integrating ourselves into a vibrant life is a form of “spiritual homework.” When you are ready to begin, your Muse will wake you up at night and demand to be heard.

 

Pay attention to those dreams that feel completely out of reach.  Don’t worry about how you will go from your current iteration to a new version of your evolved self.  

 

Forget about “how?” Ask “what and why”. Follow your Muse wherever she takes you.

 

All you have to do is show up and take the first step.

 

In this moment, I give you permission to make your own mark on the world and to consciously create your dream reality. You may not feel that you need permission, but many of us do.  We are so responsible in our lives, after all.

 

This journey towards self exploration may feel like the luxury of the young or those who don’t have to go to work in the morning. It’s not. We all need to and get to discover our destiny.

 

It is not too late. In fact, it is exactly the right time. Clarifying your message and sharing your expertise will allow you to contribute your knowledge and build your legacy. As you further develop your unique offerings, you will also attract people who will resonate with your gifts.

 

Pay attention to whatever passion calls to you during your quiet reflection, when your family is fed, the bills are paid, and the kitchen sink is clean.

 

Stop.  Listen.  Engage. Act.  

 

Today is the day to step into your power and unleash the dragon within. Add your voice to the collective story. Don’t worry about the outcome or the long term implications. Just trust in yourself and in the process. Know that you are a seed about to grow into a forest.

 

Tools for Reinvention Course

 

 

 

 

 

Joy Ride

Vic on Gypsy Motorcycle

“There is no bad weather, just bad gear.” said by many Seattle-ites

Keeping this in mind, I put on my dark brown Frye Boots, heavy black sweat pants, two hoodies and a black army-navy surplus outer shell. I strap on my sparkly orange helmet and lined gloves, swing one leg over the leather seat and mount my Suzuki TS250X. It is a cold but sunny Sunday and I have a rare 6 hours free.

Sudden October winds almost push me off of Green Bay Road, and into the oncoming traffic, as yellow and orange leaves swirl down onto the road ahead of me. “All Things Considered” streams into my white earbuds, as I drive further and further north, away from my gorgeous but draining home.

“The Field Museum will sponsor a lecture about the shrinking bee population world-wide, and how this has affected pollination and reduced crop yields”, and then, “The Ebola virus has come to America and the implications are frightening,”

The silver gas tank warms the inside of my thighs as I speed up, hitting the open road. Mile by mile, I increase the distance between my body and mind and the city. Somebody, somewhere, has a wood stove or a fireplace working, and I peal through a short corridor of distant smoke.

“According to the Farmer’s Almanac, this winter in Chicago could be even colder than last, with record-breaking temperatures.”

I wonder why I always listen to NPR, a constant stream of words and ideas, many of them negative and fearful, and about things I can’t even control anyway.

Here it is early October, and just last night we had snow and freezing temperatures. It feels as if the city is standing on a precipice, staring down into a canyon of fear about the future: cold, broke, sick, under or unemployed, mad about government policies and spending, afraid of drive-by’s and concealed weapons and worried about saving up enough money for Christmas.

Hand on throttle, wind slipping in under my plastic face shield, loud noise of the engine drowning on the radio as I accelerate, I balance myself on the bike and speed off into the unknown, away from mini-malls, mail boxes with overdue bills and a sink full of dirty dishes.

On the bike, I am a solo traveler, an adventurer out for a weekend ride, a dark-clad image speeding through small towns and down country roads, a kind stranger who is up for anything.

What’s your Message?

laptop iphone devices graphic (1)I did it. 95 hours later, after completing a “Design your Own Website” class at my local library, and breaking down 20 years of work as a teacher, writer, career coach and motivational speaker, I finally finished my website:

http://www.prosperitycareercoaching.com/

The process was exhausting, revealing and liberating. After actively listening to and coaching 100’s of clients on how to clarify and convey their Personal Brands and Messages, here’s what I know for sure:

WORDS ARE POWERFUL!
Strong messages stand out from the crowd!

Are you a…….
VISIONARY?
ENTREPRENEUR?
Soon to be – High School and College GRADUATE?
CAREER CHANGER?
MIDLIFE RE-INVENTOR?
Professional seeking WORK/LIFE BALANCE?
BUSINESS OWNER?

Fantastic! Prosperity Career Coaching offers a unique blend of Mindful Mentoring and Pragmatic Business Expertise.

If you are in a place where your story and life path are keeping you up at night – random thoughts at the end of your tongue searching for the clear message – let me know.

We will sit together over coffee or at our respective computers. I will listen while you do a “brain dump”, bringing the unconscious to the forefront. I will sort with you through the rubble and we will

FIND
YOUR
VOICE.

That is the first step to building the life/career/vision/body/health/prosperity you want.

Take the leap.
Connect: WordsmithVictoria@gmail.com

Civil Rights and the Future of America

 


“Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

I would like to add “powerless”, “victimized”, “hopeless” and 100 other words to her empowering statement.  On this day when I see my beloved United States of America portrayed as a racist, xenophobic, heartless oligarchy in the international media, I am embarrassed to be an American.

I am a white woman married to a black man.  I have a bi-racial son.  As an English as a Second Language Teacher, I have worked with clients from Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, Jordan, Iran, Turkey, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Mexico, Brazil, Italy, and Poland for the past 20 years.

Diversity is intertwined in the fabric of WHO I AM.

When I engage, connect, and unify with these sacred members of the human family, we transcend race, religion, country of origin, politics, education.  We find that place of familiarity, that sisterhood and brotherhood that is imminent, powerful, transformative.

Trump recently banned asylum for Syrian refugees for 90 days.  This makes me think of my Syrian clients and friends, their divided families and the possibility of loved ones abroad dying from violence, starvation, illness.

Trump’s supposed “Wall” will directly and indirectly impact the 100’s of Mexican factory workers who were part of my ESL classes on the South and West Sides of Chicago – their families, the Pilsen neighborhood, or their aged mother or father back home in Cuernavaca who is dependent on that monthly wire transfer.

These are not abstractions on Fox News – these are real people and real stories. Trump’s ridiculous policies will have financial, medical, educational and life threatening implications on these mothers, fathers, employees, students, voters and community members.

Working with this global population over the years, there have been hundreds of intense discussions of geopolitical issues.  In this context, I am often called upon to act as a cultural liaison and to “represent”.

BUT I

CAN

NOT

REPRESENT:

  • This administration.
  • These distorted “values” of divisiveness, isolationism, poverty consciousness (we have to protect US interests) and oppression of everyone who is not a white, male, conservative Christian.
  • This pervasive hatred and this narrow-minded view of our global reality.

I can not take this sitting down.  These impostors in the White House do not represent me or millions of other loving, conscious, intelligent American citizens.

THE PERSONAL IS POLITICAL, so here’s what I will do:

I will love my neighbor.  I will yield to merging traffic.  I will say “thank you” to my Starbucks barista.  When the weather turns, I will once again sit outside of Barnes and Noble with my “Open Discourse – Weigh in on the State of the Nation” sign.  I will set up a card table and chairs and wait to see who sits down.  Then I will give each brave participant 5 minutes to share their thoughts – to vent or cry or celebrate.  This is how I can effect change in my own community.  This is how I can contribute to empowerment, hope and equality.

This is what democracy looks like.

The Importance of Storytelling

 

lifepath coaching image
The Journey Awaits

“Laptop open and hair pulled back, I sip on an Americano and act as a conduit for my clients.  Being present is a gift.  We all just want to be heard over the noise.”

First appointments are usually tentative, as we find commonalities, craft a path and map out goals. Subsequent sessions often involve hugs or tears, and delightful transformation.

Participating with gratitude and humility, I sit back and watch the rainbow of humanity cross my path at my “Starbucks office”.

Who do I work with and why do they come to me?

Engineers, CEO’s, accountants, teachers, lawyers, pharmacists, graphic designers, sound designers, construction workers and restaurant managers – all of whom want to: edit a resume or LinkedIn page, discover their “special sauce” or Personal Brand, reinvent themselves professionally or actualize entrepreneurial dreams.

At least these concrete tasks are what usually motivates clients to send me a text or email in response to one of my many online ads.

Students also seek out my consultation: high school students trying to write better papers, undergraduates applying for select graduate programs, and PhD candidates writing complex dissertations.

American and international geniuses from Europe, Asia and South America all show up, with carefully crafted documents and hopeful dreams of change for the future.

These are the demographic markers of the hundreds of people I have worked with for over 20 years, as a writing coach, editor, academic/business/life coach, content creator, and personal brand consultant. I have titles and my clients have titles, which bring us together and help propel our careers, but underneath it all is the PROCESS.

What I really DO, on a spiritual and “deep dive” level is hold out the metaphorical microphone to whoever is sitting in front of me – provide the time and space and silence and patience for them to FIND THEIR VOICE.

Putting words around:
memories-dreams-accomplishments-fears-realizations-stories-conclusions-assumptions-facts-theories. I hyphenated that list because that is what stream of consciousness feels like, one long, continuous idea that is like an audio loop in our MINDS, an undercurrent or theme that seems disconnected except that it wakes us up in the night and recurs in our journal entries. Pulling on our shirt tails like an insistent child that needs something.

So what I do is provide the container for my clients to finally slow down long enough to give that child a chance to be heard, to elaborate on that whim or to clearly spell out that conclusion. It is cathartic and rewarding and satisfying. Being heard. Realizing that you actually have something to say and that you matter.

Words are powerful. Clarity brings about change. Taking a mental sabbatical, whether for 2 hours or a year, gives us the opportunity to let go of the grocery list mentality and take a broader view of our lives.

This is the work of honing our vision, setting, re-setting and course correcting when our compass is off track. Assisting others in this clarification process is impactful and important work. My obsession with story-telling began as a kid. I remember listening to Studs Terkel on the radio, and reveling in how he drew out the oral histories of regular Americans. Now, at 52, I am blessed to have a calling that involves encouraging and assisting others to find their true north.

In the end – what else do we have to show for our time here on earth but our story, our message and the tribe we leave behind?

What is your story and how do you support your tribe in sharing theirs? I would feel honored if you could share your story or any other feedback with directly with me or with all of us – in the Comment Section below.

Getting Noticed

funky older women group


We all know that society treats women differently after a ‘certain age’. As younger women, many of us enjoyed the external validation that comes from turned heads, smiles or extra attention when we asked for assistance at stores. Even if we identify as feminists, it still feels good to go through your day like Marlo Thomas in ‘That Girl’! We may not even have realized how good this attention made us feel, until it was suddenly gone or reduced.

However, after about 50, there is often a feeling of invisibility around men, as if they don’t need or want to work for our attention any longer. Suddenly, we may have to wait longer at a counter to get help or go through an entire day with no banter with random men, like we had before. Continue reading “Getting Noticed”

Seattle to Chicago – Speeding Up and Slowing Down

imageAfter struggling to survive in the fourth most expensive city in the USA (Seattle) for the past 6 years, we finally decided to pack up our meager belongings and take the 2000 mile journey back to our hometown, Chicago. Chicago, where the average salary is closer to $40,000 a year vs $100,000 for an entry level engineer at Amazon. Chicago, where plumbers, gardeners, teachers, lawyers and Walmart workers all live on the same street. Chicago, where I can hear 5 languages when I enter the Harvest Time Foods family grocery store, including Spanish on the piped-in radio station.  Chicago, where I just experienced a glorious month of August, swimming in Lake Michigan and spending every day at the beach, reading fun novels and letting the sun heal me.

I have done this journey before, always alone with my son Avante, packing up a truck full of stuff, attaching a tow dolly, driving the car onto it and hauling the entire load across mountains, deserts and lone stretches of road where “no services” signs bring up fears of breaking down on a 90 degree day far from a town. My husband Johnny always flew before us, setting up a job, a place, finding a community.

I have moved from Portland to Chicago, from Chicago to Seattle and now from Seattle back to Chicago, criss-crossing the country over a 10 year period of time, trying to find a home where all three of us (mom, dad and son) can find our way, make friends, learn, grow, prosper, and be healthy. If I could get back the expenses for gas, hotels, truck rentals, security deposits, and start up fees for utilities, we could have probably put it down on a house somewhere, set up shop,
built a home and a business and a life for ourselves…

But we didn’t. We were and are gypsies, acquirers of experience and friends and music and art and festivals and new foods and new languages. We are rich in memories and references, great at conversation and story telling, funny and vibrant and full of life. We have always done what we wanted to do and followed our bliss and up until now, this act of ‘living our right livelihood’ has made perfect sense.

Up until now. In about 30 days, I will have the honor of celebrating my 50th birthday, and this has brought up all sorts of questions about where a person is supposed to be at 50, what they should
have accomplished, what they should OWN and what this birthday means in a global/celestial sense. Lots of fun topics that used to keep me up at night before I enrolled in this 35,000 Calorie Challenge at my YMCA. I have to exercise, hard, for an hour a day, for 100 days straight. Today is day #10 and I have alternated with water aerobics and 10 mile bike rides, every other day. These days I sleep like a baby, out of exhaustion.

However, the questions still tug at me.

Who evaluates our success? Us or society? How much is enough to have earned, accomplished, experienced? Why are we satisfied with what we have at certain points, and woefully disappointed in our lot on other days? Especially when it is the same lot, the same job, the same apartment, the same family.

But it is not the same. I am new here, in my old/new city. Trying to find work and friends and sanctuary in a fast-paced world. Trying to fill my days with structure and purpose and productivity, whether it’s cooking for my family, working with a student or sculpting my body at the Y. Either way, I just want to feel at home in my skin, in my relationships, in my two-flat apartment with it’s wood floors and 1902 wainscoting trim around the ceilings. Waiting to exhale and hopefully stay put for a while – my spirit and pocketbook can’t endure much more change.