I’ve spent most of my life in Illinois. Early in my career, an investor whom I worked alongside said to me, “One call and I can get you a role for a company in Seattle. You just need to be ready to move.” My response. “I can’t leave my family or my city.” The company was Amazon. I flinch every time I think of how things may have looked had I took a risk. As I reflect back, I am not sure whether my response was rooted in love for my family and city or fear of leaving what I knew and the life I was comfortable with living. So I spent the next twenty years in Chicago and its suburbs.
I did everything I “should” do. Got my degrees, got married, had babies, bought a house, had a great job and was by society’s definition succeeding at life. I wasn’t happy though and this made me feel worse. I want to clarify, nothing is wrong with getting the degrees or the house or having a family. The issue was I thought those things would bring me joy. True joy is not externally driven. True joy comes from within.
Broken on the inside, pregnant and in the middle of my divorce, I decided to start working on myself. I enrolled into a leadership and life coaching program and transformation began. I wish I could tell you that boom, success and happiness were instant but it’s been a journey over the last 5 years. I have won. I have failed. I have gotten back up. Fallen again. Succeeded. Taken two steps back. It’s a dance...and I’m not the most coordinated person you know.
However, each time, I get back up and move forward, I see myself stepping more and more into who I am and who I am meant to be. It’s easy to lead a life based on fear and make decisions based around staying comfortable (even in crappy conditions), looking good, being right or being in control. I’ve done all of these and it’s okay. I’m human. We all are. And I know that I can also make decisions based on love. This might mean saying,”Yes, I am so scared but I am going to take the risk anyways because there is something greater at play here.” Making a decision from a place of love can look like choosing purpose, commitment, passion, abundance, gratitude, or faith over fear.
Last year, after living most of my 40 years in Illinois, I made two out of state moves in one year! The first was a result of being awarded a fellowship in Washington D.C. to work on short-term child welfare projects for foster children. My sister will attest that I at one time said and I quote, “I will never move to D.C.” D.C. is cool and expensive as a single mom but the idea of doing meaningful and purposeful work outweighed being comfortable. I might add, I have very limited experience in child welfare so I was also taking on a new career endeavor, not knowing if it would work out. When my placement ended in June, I realized moving wasn’t so bad. Packing up nothing but what fit in the trunk of my Mazda, my two kids and I headed to North Carolina to make a new life for ourselves. I had no family in North Carolina, no friends, no job, no practical reason to head here. Why North Carolina? It inspired me. I yearned for a small town feel and the scenic landscapes. I can get to the mountains and ocean all within one day. I don’t know that this is home for good but it’s home for now. What I have learned is that by taking risks and being courageous, I get to experience myself, those around me and life in a whole new way. New challenges have forced me to show up in a new way. Leadership Coach and Best-Selling Author Marshall Goldsmith says it best, “What got you here won’t get you there.” He even wrote a whole book about it.
One of my other favorite authors Brene' Brown says, “Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor - the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant "To speak one's mind by telling all one's heart." As you enter into 2019, I invite you to make this your Year of Courage. Maybe it’s having the difficult conversation you’ve been avoiding or trying something you’ve always wanted to try, even if you look a little silly doing it. Have fun with it! Play! Laugh! Maybe it’s taking a new class, switching industries, leaving an unhealthy relationship or committing to a good one. It could be coming out from behind the curtain and showing up center stage - in all of your glory and even in the messy middle. Maybe it’s just you being you. In the days of perfection and filtered selfies, that’s a courageous move! What's your unlived life? Live it. Live authentically. Don't withhold yourself or your gifts. The world is waiting for you.
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