future, strengths, worry

Inspired: Don’t Worry. Be Happy Today.

From Pinterest
From Pinterest

“Worry doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.” ~ Corrie ten Boom, Dutch writer

I’ve been trying to let go of worry. To leave tomorrow to tomorrow so that I can enjoy and learn today. After all, the answer to tomorrow’s question might be in front of me at this very moment, and I don’t want to miss it.

courage, fear, time, worry

Beautiful: It’s Okay to Have Fear. Just Make Sure It Doesn’t Have You.

025452ff405960b936c014a1880afd7b“We must travel in the direction of our fear.” ~ John Berryman

A friend of mine called me late one night this week because she was panicking. She has a big trip coming up and she was worried about her safety while away from home. To be fair, this friend has a highly-tuned intuition, more highly-tuned than almost anyone I’ve ever known. She has good gut, so when her fears grew increasingly worse, she panicked. She couldn’t tell if her fear was valid.

I gave her my litmus test for fear. When I wake up in a panic, when my mind is on an endless loop of worry, I know that my mind is getting the best of me. When I am afraid but maintain a clear, calm resolve, I know that my intuition is on to something.

When my apartment building caught fire, I didn’t panic when I realized what was happening. My laser focus kicked in to get me out of the building as quickly as possible. There was no thinking in those moments as I scrambled down the stairs. I knew I was in danger and my only concern in those moments involved survival.

When I was considering leaving my corporate job to freelance full-time, I initially had some serious moments of panic. It took me a year to put a plan in place that gave me enough comfort to take the leap. My fear about going out on my own had nothing to do with my intuition. That fear was from that tiny voice in the back of my mind known as self-doubt. Here I am, 8 months after my leap, and doing just fine.  Self-doubt comes and goes, but it never stay for long anymore.

Don’t despair over your fear. It’s a natural reaction and everyone feels it, some of us more than others. Here’s the thing about fear: you really can’t hate it because it does mean well. On some level, it is trying to protect you. However, it does need to be tamed. You must learn to listen to it, take only what’s useful, and then keep going.

My one year plan that I put in place so that I would be comfortable leaving my job was well worth it. Fulfilling that plan has allowed me to take on projects in the last 8 months that have proven to be some of the best opportunities of my career. Fear served a great purpose and I am grateful for its counsel, but I didn’t let it become the focus. I didn’t let it paralyze me. You shouldn’t either.

It’s fine to have fear. Just make sure fear doesn’t have you.

future, time, worry

Beautiful: Let the Future Take Care of the Future

d46d46a8f5aff4c29758f6de54629530“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.” ~ Corrie ten Boom, Dutch writer

I’m all for planning, though as I get older I find that trust is a better companion. I trust that my hard work today will pay off tomorrow, even if it doesn’t pay off in ways that I expect. I trust in my own abilities to navigate any circumstance that arises, good, bad, or indifferent. I know now that even if something breaks me down, I can rebuild and be stronger for it.

From time to time, I do worry about tomorrow. I wonder how it will all come together and where it’s all headed. The difference is that I can put those worries aside and just keep moving forward. It’s not that I make them evaporate. I just keep them in check. When it gets to be too much, I use those worries as fuel. I think of all the other times in my life that I worried and how well it turned out in spite of my concerns.

And the most beautiful part of leaving tomorrow to tomorrow? We get the chance to fully enjoy today. After all, we will never be able to have this time again. Time does indeed evaporate so we need to make the most of every moment.

meditation, worry

Leap: Meditation Makes the Mind Whole

From Pinterest

“Worry divides the mind.” ~ Max Lucado

Worry is an invention of the mind. What we worry about rarely ever happens. It’s our brain’s way of preparing us for the worst. And while it is helpful to be prepared, there’s a balance to be struck. We don’t want to underestimate the possibilities and not be ready for a situation, and we don’t want to overestimate unfortunate circumstances and drive ourselves into a hysterical mess. Worry is only useful if it helps to keep us safe and a divided mind is no place to seek refuge.

There are some people who place greater value on the right or left brain. The left brain is our analytical powerhouse. The right brain is our creative genius. We need both to live a fully actualized, authentic life. Our days are richer when we can see the big picture and the intricate details. Meditation brings it all together. In fact, I’ve found it to be the only method that brings it all together in an efficient and useful manner.

There are many methods of meditation – observing the breath, the Ham-Sa kriya, object gazing, sound meditation, walking meditation, and the list goes on. The goal of all of the methods is to get us to recognize our own individual existence in relation to the greater universe, and to understand the two are actually one.

We are whole in and of ourselves and we are whole as one giant and beautiful mass of energy and potential. The only trick to meditation is the desire to experience that unity and then to root it back down into our living so that we can share it with others.

happiness, sunshine, travel, work, worry

Leap: If You Want to Find Meaning in Your Work, Find the Sun

From Pinterest

I spent the weekend in Buffalo with two of my best girlfriends, Kelly and Alex. Kelly is getting married next Fall to a wonderful man and Alex and I are in the wedding. Alex and I made it to our flights home just in time as Hurricane Sandy approaches the Eastern seaboard.

On my Delta flight, I had the most delightful flight attendant. As we broke through the clouds, I commented that it had been at least a week since I’d seen sunny skies.

“That’s the greatest thing about my job,” said the attendant. “It’s always a sunny day at the office for at least part of the time.”

How many of us can say that? And how many of us would like to say that?

This year, following happiness and joy has been a good strategy for me. I don’t always know what lies around the bend with my newly designed career. Heck, sometimes I barely know what lies in wait for me in my morning inbox. I don’t worry though because I just keep following goodness, sunshine in some form or other, and so far it’s always been a good day in my (home) office.

creativity, risk, Sesame Street, strengths, time, work, worry

Leap: Turning Fear Into Fuel

20120926-133112.jpg“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.” – Connie ten Boom, Dutch writer

People are worried about me. Some are afraid I am not making enough money. Some are sending me job descriptions just in case I’ve realized freelance work isn’t for me and I’d like to go back to working in a corporate office the way I was 3 months ago. I appreciate their concern and always answer these concerns the same way. I tell them I am just fine, not to allay their fears, but because I truly am fine. This is the life I wanted and it’s working.

Yesterday, I secured a wonderful contract through June 2013 with the Joan Ganz Cooney Center (JGCC) at Sesame Street to work on their National STEM Video Game Challenge. The JGCC is a digital media research lab within Sesame. (You can get more info on the program here – http://stemchallenge.org.) Pursuing my passion for tech that improves the world wouldn’t have been possible on this scale if I hadn’t taken a chance to go out on my own.

Yes, I still have to hustle. Yes, I am still working on lining up some additional assignments so that I can fully cover all of my expenses and not dig into my savings, but perhaps begin to add to those savings again. (If you can help on those fronts, I’m all ears!) I have all the tools I need to make this happen. I’ve been preparing for it all my life, and I know deep down that this is the path I want and need to take. I spent years acting on a plan to make this happen.

We can worry about tomorrow. We can let fear and anxiety stop us from doing just about everything. They are tough hurdles to clear, but if we are to ever doing anything extraordinary with our time, we have to go on in spite of fear. We have to gather our worries and burn them up to generate fuel for the work we are meant to do.

gratitude, time, work, worry

Leap: A Freelance Life Affords the Option of Saying “Yes” More Often

Over the past few weeks, a lot of people have asked me why I left my stable corporate job in favor of a freelance life. “You must be terrified,” some say. “You must be worried about how you’re going to survive,” others say. And still others tell me I have a lot of guts, balls, and courage to make that kind of leap.

I don’t think of it that way at all. I went my own way for a lot of other reasons, and one of them is because I wanted to say “Yes”, or rather “Hell yes”, to requests that come my way to do things in life that light me up.

Yesterday I spent most of the day with my friend, Alex, who is one of my very best friends from business school. She’s in town for a conference and because my time is now my own I could meet her on a Monday afternoon without worrying about a jumbled work schedule that would cut our time short. I pushed a few things aside to later this week and did a more work than usual on Sunday evening so I could be available at the time when Alex was free.

On Wednesday afternoon I’m going to the beautiful studio Bija Yoga because the Ananda Ashram invited me to attend an intimate afternoon tea exploring yoga-based meditation with David Michael Hollander and to interview him afterwards. Two weeks ago, I would have had to send my regrets and decline this invitation. Now, I can accept it with gratitude.

The fear monster has yet to find me as I make my way in this new way to work. I’m sure it’s out there, but I firmly believe that as long as I follow my true calling, as long as I keep pursuing work I love and saying yes to opportunities that bring me joy, I will be fine. I will actually be far more than fine. I will begin to deeply understand what it means to truly live, to be present in each moment. And that is its own gift, its own reward.

entrepreneurship, environment, work, worry

Leap: We All Need Soil and Rain, or How to Never Be Intimidated

“No matter how wondrous our works, we have to remember that our very existence depends upon 6 inches of soil and the fact that it rains now and then.” ~ Dan Lufkin

I found this quote on a park bench, literally. Phin and I were taking a walk in Central Park and there are four metal plaques on a string of benches that have this quote. I don’t know who Dan Lufkin is, but when I read his words, I tossed up a stream of gratitude. They were the words I needed.

Starting a business, pitching partners and investors, can be a scary endeavor. I feel stark naked all the time! In pitching them, I’m really pitching me – my talents, my experiences, and my abilities. Self-promotion is just about my least favorite task. I’d rather do the dishes and clean my bathroom than pitch myself, but neither of those tasks are going to help me live the life I imagine. (But they do help me to keep a neat and tidy home, where I do most of my planning work for Compass Yoga!)

In pitching, it’s important to remember that the person across the table is just a person, just like you and me. They have to eat food, have shelter, and breathe air, just like us. They, too, had to start somewhere. We weren’t born with our current set of circumstances. For the most part, we made them, one way or another.

With that in mind, I feel a little less naked, a little more confident, and a lot more hopeful, in life and in pitching.

education, worry

Step 28: Start. Now.

“The difference between getting somewhere and nowhere is the courage to make an early start. The fellow who sits still and does just what he is told will never be told to do big things.” ~ Charles Schwab, entrepreneur

Last night I went to the orientation for Citizen Schools in preparation for my pilot of Innovation Station, an after-school program to teach product development and entrepreneurship to under-served middle school students. I was reminded of my friend, Amanda’s, post about being a beginner. I have taught lessons in public schools, though always with an organization’s planned curriculum. For Citizen Schools, I need to build the content. Citizen Schools offers a lot of support, though ultimately the apprenticeship is only as good as the volunteer.

On my way to the subway last night, I felt an odd mix of determination and trepidation. I feel so compelled to help these kids, and yet I worry that I will not be able to do enough. The lessons won’t be good enough, comprehensive enough. The students won’t fully understand how critical it is that they stay in school and work harder than they ever thought possible. How can 10 weeks, 13 small hours, make enough of a difference?

And then I read this quote by Charles Schwab. I have to get going. Now. I’ve got to start somewhere to make some kind of difference for these kids, these kids who are so much like me in so many ways. Imagine if my teachers or guidance counselors or my mom didn’t have the courage to start encouraging me despite the tough odds, didn’t have the water-tight belief that yes, I could do anything. Where would I be now? What would have become of me? I certainly would not be where I am.

Now is not the time for sitting still and doing what that nagging little voice of self-doubt tells us to do. That voice will never tell us to step out and try. It will never tell us to begin. It will only tell us to stay small. And we can’t do that. Not now. The world needs us too much; we have too many somewheres to be.

choices, decision-making, future, stress, success, worry

My Year of Hopefulness – Just Get to What’s Next

“Wisdom consists not so much in knowing what to do in the ultimate as knowing what to do next.” ~ Herbert Hoover, 31st U.S. president

Today I met with an old friend from college that I haven’t seen in 11 years. She and I worked on a theatre production together at Penn, and she has a new theatre project that she wanted to get my advice on. At one point in our conversation she said she just felt so overwhelmed by the enormity of the task of getting the project off the ground. As much as she believes in the idea, the shear amount of work that it takes will be intense, regardless of whether it is a runaway hit, a flop, or somewhere in-between. She is afraid of the outcome of her efforts before she’s even begun.

Like all of us with ideas that get our blood pumping, we get ahead of ourselves. We haven’t even put a proposal on paper, and already we are off and running making contingency plans for every challenge and triumph imaginable. Long-term planning is important; to paralyze ourselves with fear in the short-run makes all of our worrying inconsequential. If we can’t even get started, our long-term contingency plans don’t make a bit of difference.

A crystal ball would be a handy tool to have in our back pocket, particularly if we could play out different scenarios before making choices. Unfortunately, no one has invented one of those yet, and so we’re left with only our gut, experience, and conscience to help us make decisions. While we might do our best chess playing game, anticipating how the world around us will change, it never goes exactly according to plan. There’s always some surprise we didn’t account for. And if you’re doing A just to get to B, then my experience has demonstrated that surely C, D, and E will show up to throw a wrench in the works.

The best we can do is to just do what’s next. Keep a lofty goal as your guide, and remember that there are many routes to it. Don’t shut down your ability to move forward by standing at the fork in the road and burying your head in your hands. Self-imposed grief, and the indecision that comes along with it, doesn’t serve anyone well. And your dreams are too important. You have too much to offer this world. There is no time for indecision. The only choice you need to make right now is the next one. Leave the future where it belongs, out ahead of you.

The image above can be found at: http://toughsledding.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/fork.jpg