Now is the Perfect Time for Reinvention

Two yellow flowers surrounded by rocks

It’s mid-July amid a summer unlike any I’ve ever known. Much of the state of California where I call home remains on COVID-19 lock-down. Nearly all of the social and recreational activities that usually shape my summers are now off limits.

No social gatherings of any kind. No hugging family and friends. No enjoying of life at restaurants and music venues. No getaway vacations. No gym classes or weight machines. No getting my hair cut and colored by a professional. No dressing up…for anything.

I have been looking at this pandemic period as a time to begrudgingly ride out the storm. Yet I realize now that life is not simply on hold.

We are all in a period of transition. We’ve left the known and are treading the waters of uncertainty about what lies ahead. We’re not really sure if we’ll be able to just pick up where we left off when “things settle down.” But is picking up what’s been your status quo really what you’ll want?

A Time For Reinvention

Each one of us has now been invited to reinvent our lives, one action, one alternative COVID-19 choice, at a time.

For those of us who have lost jobs or business, there is more time available to focus on that thing that you really want to learn, that business you’d love to start, or that person that you yearn to become.

Perhaps COVID-19 is your personal invitation to create this new change?

I know that I have been challenged to give myself permission to dream big, to believe that fulfillment of my deepest dreams are actually possible for me. I come from a blue collar middle class family and have accepted the belief all of these years that living below the radar in middle class was my destiny.

It wasn’t until I started reading recently about the early lives of some incredibly successful people and learned that many started out with nothing. That tells me that your history doesn’t dictate your destiny.

What I’m working on now is getting clarity on what I really want to create in my life. The hardest part for me is to allow myself the luxury of thinking big. I’m now telling myself that getting the clarity will require some time and disciplined focus. It won’t happen overnight.

I’ve been doing 5-12 minutes of ab exercises every night for the past 3 months thanks to some awesome instructors I’ve discovered on YouTube. I didn’t expect immediate results, yet I didn’t expect it would take this long to begin to see a vague resemblance of a six-pack. I guess that’s how I need to look at creating my ideal life—with dedication and the belief that I can change my status quo.

Everything Happens For A Reason

Purpose is a principle that drives my life. I am constantly looking to understand the purpose behind what just happened. I believe that our Universe surrounds us with wonder and that our day-to-day experiences are far from random events. Most of us just don’t pay close enough attention to receive the clues that are designed to guide us in the direction our hearts yearn to go.

If you were to believe that everything happens for a reason, is there something you can see that you are being invited to do during this time when the life you’ve known is no longer an option?

Be well,
Susan

You Always Have Choices

You always have choices

Have you ever felt like you were stuck in a situation that you didn’t really like, but you couldn’t see that you had any options except to remain on that path?

I have.

And I learned that feeling stuck was a message to me that my life was begging for change.

One thing I’ve learned recently is that all of my habits that formed my day-to-day life pre-COVID-19 were not iron-clad. I was forced to make a different choice…because the choice I was used to was no longer available.

And you know what? I’m happier for it.

I learned that I didn’t have to feel like I was a slave to the gym.

I learned that I could shop for groceries once a week instead of stopping several times a week just for a few choice items.

I learned that I could be more productive setting distinct goals for my work day at home than clocking in 8 hours in at the office without.

I learned that I am actually capable of coloring my own hair.

I learned that I don’t need to travel and have days and nights out on the town to feel gratitude for my husband and life in general.

I learned that phone calls with my family and friends could be far richer when I rely on non-physical means for our main connection.

I would have never considered I had these opportunities because my blinders were so fully set on the picture I’d created of my life.

As we all maneuver through the various challenges of the time, let’s consider these days as an opportunity to rebuild our lives in ways we never seriously pursued.

It’s a time ripe for reinvention. Let’s cherish the opportunity.

Take care.

Finding the Confidence to Show Up as Yourself

confidence

I have been feeling antsy since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the world around me as I know it. It’s not at all a feeling born out of boredom. In fact, I’m blessed to still be working and I have been finding many joys in living a simpler life.

Imagining the Role of Purpose

My feeling antsy stems from my mindset that I am always looking for the purpose behind events. I believe that we live in a universe that operates from a far deeper level of purpose than we typically credit.

For me, I’ve been feeling a nagging thought in the back of my mind over the past couple of months that there is something I am being called to do differently as a result of this crisis. I want to make a positive contribution to people’s lives as we endure this and beyond. Yet I have disappointed myself. I’ve done little to carry out what I want to do.

Getting in Touch with Obstacles

Today I got in touch with a theme in my life that holds me back from taking steps in important new directions. I haven’t given myself any leeway to just show up in any form without having a fully crafted plan on what I want to say or do.

My perfectionist tendencies have been holding me back.

There are areas in my life where I feel super confident and then there are places where I feel that I need to “practice” being me. For example, producing videos to promote the business I run with my husband. I’ve felt like I need to script everything before we shoot. Consequently, the shoots get flubbed by the fake sounding script memorization and nothing gets produced.

Other people show up comfortably for a video shoot. Why can’t I?

My Lesson Learned

I’ve realized that the best way for me to make a positive impact on others is to show up with my flaws. I just need to practice feeling more comfortable in front of the camera. And trusting my spirit to guide me as I begin to write without knowing where things will lead.

It’s not about knowing what the end game will be. It’s more about participating and believing that you will be led to the place that is uniquely right for you and what others can learn from your unique perspective.

There’s so much we can all learn from each other during this time. Let’s support each other in doing so.

Be well,
Susan

A Ritual for Becoming Who You Are Meant to Be

During the dozen years I was single following a divorce in the mid-1990s, I enjoyed a New Years Eve ritual that I created which I called “my romantic night for one.” It included a healthy dinner, candles, soft music, champagne, and my special faux leapard skinned journal.

The highlight of the ritual was reflection. Part one of the reflection had me looking back on the year that was coming to an end, highlighting my most meaningful accomplishments. The highlights ranged from personal and professional to physical, emotional and spiritual.

With the highlights defined, I moved on to goals for my life. I kept a running list of previous goals, and would start by reviewing the existing list, crossing off goals that no longer resonated with me. I found this to be an enlightening exercise in seeing how what I value has changed. One example that stands out in my mind is when the chocolate brown Mercedes got axed from the list.

When my now husband Dean and I got together 13 years ago, he went along with the ritual, allowing me to lead us through the process. It was not what his first choice for the evening would have been, but he knew it was important to me. As our years together passed, we began to skip the ritual at times, mostly for social reasons. We’d tell ourselves we’d do it the next night, or during the coming weekend, yet we often didn’t follow through. Whenever we skipped the ritual I felt like I was starting off the year without a compass.

Dean was not feeling well on the New Years Eve that just passed, so we only made it to define our highlights for the year. While I’ve not yet documented my new goals, they are alive in my mind and I’ve been thinking about them.

Before I left the house for work this morning, I told myself that I must do something to make this year different–to take at least one step towards one of my goals. So I sat on the bed for a brief time and prayed that I could be open to guidance that will lead me to express more of what I am meant to contribute to the world.

I found that this brief focus made an impact on a couple of my choices today. I held love in my heart as I backed out of my garage while having to manuever around the multitude of construction worker trucks that challenged my exit. Later in the evening after spin class and dinner I was somehow led to feed this blog for the first time in nine months. It feels good.

It doesn’t have to be the beginning of a New Year for us to focus on becoming who we can be. What does that look like for you?

 

 

Gotta Have Faith

“Faith is knowing that if you step off a cliff you will be taught how to fly.” – Author Unknown

Last night I was cleaning my wedding rings while standing at the bathroom sink. First I polished my square cut diamond engagement ring and put it safely back onto my finger. I reached for my wedding ring next, yet fumbled and watched it fall quickly into the sink and slip beyond the stop that I had foolishly left open. Uh-oh. What was I going to do?

I could see the small diamond chipped ring trapped in the metal basket that kept it from going down the drain pipe. But the stop didn’t open far enough to enable me to reach for it. For some reason I wasn’t panicking. Although I didn’t know exactly how to go about retrieving the ring, I felt the strong sense that I would get it back.

My husband Dean was downstairs watching TV while my little scene had been unfolding. I called down to him saying that I needed his help. He came to my aid and we tried a number of small tools to fish out the ring, but even a pair of tweezers was too big.

Dean remembered that we had some leftover wire sheeting that we had used for a DIY project a few years earlier. He ran down to the garage, got the wire sheeting, brought it upstairs to the bathroom, and started snipping away at it to mold it into a fishing tool. I was given the responsibility of shining the flashlight on the open stop while he diligently worked to pull my ring out from the basket. After much effort I watched Dean make contact with the ring and guide it through the opening before dropping it back into my hand. Success!

I have really been conscious lately of the influence that my thoughts have on what I ultimately attract as my experience. I didn’t know how we were going to get the ring back to safety, but I never wavered from the belief that we would.

I have to wonder if our final outcome would’ve been different if I had been crying or swearing from a place of fear, rather than feeling a calm sense of peace that everything was going to be okay.

7 Steps to Successfully Create Change

This post is an excerpt from my book Inner Architect: How to Build the Life You Were Designed to Live.

I was overweight throughout grammar school and up until my second year of college. I grew up seeing myself as an overweight person. After numerous failed diets throughout the years, it became a stretch for me to consider that I would ever be anything but overweight. One morning when I was 19, I got out of bed anticipating a party that I was going to that night. I realized that I was sick of being overweight. I decided that I was willing to do what it took to change my weight. I took one day at a time, making healthy choices and changing the way I ate. Within a few months I dropped 40 pounds and changed my lifestyle forever. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was following the key to success in creating any change:

  1. Declare that you are no longer willing to tolerate a particular habit or way of being.
  2. Identify the specific things you need to do differently to change.
  3. Acknowledge that you are in complete control of your actions.
  4. Recognize the process of change as being day by day.
  5. Commit to making the desired actions for that particular day.
  6. If you fall down, forgive yourself and start fresh.
  7. At the end of each day, honor your ability to make the choice you want and create the change you desire.

Getting Rid of Your Shoulds

I’m celebrating my 10-year anniversary of leaving a corporate job that no longer fit to go out on my own. The journey has brought a few twists and turns that I didn’t expect, plan, or want. But I remain grateful for where I am now and all of the life experiences and learning I gained when I made the decision to follow my heart.

I have discovered that my greatest handicap to living my full potential is getting beyond the beliefs about what I “should” be doing. I have allowed my life in many times to be directed by thinking that has become ingrained and which does not support the path that I’m committed to. Instead I strive to work on paying attention to where my body, mind and soul are leading me.

It’s easy to get so wrapped up with the day-to-day of what you’re doing that you lose sight of how you feel about it or if what you’re doing is really how you want to be spending your precious days here. I frequently recognize how I put my life on auto pilot, accepting it for what it is without even considering that it could or should be any different.

I think the answer lies in living day by day. Not waking up to each new morning buying into the belief that because it worked for me yesterday that it continues to be how I want to spend my time. It’s a raising of the bar of what I want to accept as my life experience.

I’ve made a vow to try something new. I’m going to give as much thought every day to how I’m spending my time overall as to what I’m going to choose to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Let me know if you want to join me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Peace in the Loss of a Pet

pet lossWe lost a precious part of our family over the holiday season–Sarah, the 15-year old tabby cat I adopted from the Humane Society in 2001 along with her sister, Janie. It was only two days before that I’d learned that Sarah had both lymphoma and pancreatic cancer. It was as if once I knew, she let go to a rapid decline.

Losing Sarah was a heartbreak on its own. Yet seeing her sister Janie, who had been her companion since birth, grieving her own loss was another heartbreak, and one that came with an immense lesson. I had never before witnessed the depths of how animals can feel emotion.

I felt the vibe of Janie sobbing over the loss of her sister. I sadly watched as she walked from room to room looking for Sarah after she was gone. Suddenly my own loss became a lessor priority to easing the pain that Janie was experiencing from her loss. Doing whatever I could to help fill Janie’s void was great therapy.

I miss Sarah tremendously, yet I feel a greater sense of peace knowing that she is no longer hurting or suffering. I am one who believes we have an afterlife and while I certainly don’t have the answers to what happens after cats and people die, I can’t imagine that there would be no other opportunity for such a deep relationship to be reunited when we pass to the other side.

The bonds we build with our animals are deeper than the moments we will have to share with them. That’s why I have hope for a future reunion. For me, this vision itself brings comfort to my loss.

What’s Your Story?

I happened across a news piece online the other day that featured a man who was my boss some twenty years ago. Come to find out he had recently been appointed the CEO of a major LA media organization. I was very happy to learn how my former boss had risen to such heights in his career and reached out to him via LinkedIn to tell him so.

I know this man as being the salt of the earth. And there was something about the period of time that we worked together in a New Hampshire division of a worldwide publishing company that feels like there is a bond there. Most of us were in our early 30’s. We took our jobs seriously yet there was a lot of camaraderie and fun. My boss was beginning to make a name for himself as a magazine publisher and I was his second in command who ran the finances and operations.

I wasn’t surprised that within a few hours my former boss responded with a kind note. I was very happy to hear from him and the way he sought an update made an impact that has lasted.

“What’s your story?” he asked.

While collecting my thoughts to answer his question it struck me that my story is not simply what I am doing today. Rather it is an evolution best described by a few key highlights that has led me to where I am today. Sometimes those highlights have been highs and sometimes they’ve been lows. Being able to now see my story as a journey helps put things in perspective.

I may want to feel more successful in my business today yet I have to acknowledge where I’ve come from to appreciate how much I have accomplished. And if I am able to look at my life as a story I can imagine how I’d like the story to play out and make the appropriate choices. I feel more in control.

What’s your story and how might you like to change it?

Making Time to Live Your Dream

I got a Facebook message today from a woman who was a close friend in my early high school years. She asked about what I have been doing in the 30 plus years since we last communicated. Once I got beyond the challenge of summing up my life in one paragraph, my mind stayed focused on the question–What am I doing with my life?

When I turned 50 a few months ago, I told myself that I would be more proactive in creating the second half of my life. So far, I’ve not done a good job with that. While I am doing pretty well with carrying out some short term business goals, I continue to let some long-held dreams go by the wayside. Are you guilty of this, too?

Make Your Dream a Priority

A couple of decades ago I made fitness a priority and began to schedule my life with workouts in mind. When a potential commitment makes itself available, the first thing I think about is how I might need to schedule my workout around it. Sick, maybe, but at least it works in enabling me to maintain my fitness goals. Why has it not occurred to me to treat my dreams in the same way? I know the necessary steps I need to take; I just haven’t forced myself to do the work because I simply don’t make the time for it.

In the scheme of life, seeing my dreams become my reality is far more important than my mission to keep away a few unwanted pounds. What’s up with my priorities? Add this one to my list of “What was I thinking??”