They often say success comes to those who believe in themselves, but it was the knowledge that I had nothing left to lose that pushed me down what was at first an unforeseeable path. It made it easy to leap and believe the net would some how appear when I was already so low to the ground. This became a devoted daily practice. And out of mere rituals came miracles, and miracles allowed me to believe in myself.
And so now I sit here at 6 AM at the desk in the home office I created. I’m surrounded by my favorite things. They are artifacts on the altar of my life: a framed portrait of Wonder Woman, a light-up statue of the Buddha, a unicorn bust, a tiny pink elephant, my children’s artwork, a newspaper article celebrating my business, a photograph of me as a baby sitting on my now-deceased father’s lap. Heirlooms of the people and objects that have fed my success.
I feed myself – I’ve made inspiration boards. I keep stacks of books by friends and people I admire. I place these things in my narrowed personal perspective as a frame of reference to remind myself of the beauty, wisdom, and whimsy the Universe has to offer.
Rituals. Simple, yet undeniably foremost in staying on this journey upward. My gratitude journal also sits in front of me. It peeks at me from behind my laptop screen. This journal is a container of my most precious expressions of love for my life. It’s a miracle in paper form. It’s my daily teacher and the facilitator for self-knowledge. There are only three spots available on each day’s page to list what has brought joy to my day. I’ve never had a problem filling them in with swift excitement. Even on my heaviest days, when emotional, financial, or physical responsibilities feel too burdensome to bear, I find lightness in the act of picking up a pen to list the three moments that shined brightly on whatever dismay laid before me. Finding light in the dark… yep, that IS the miracle.
Yet, as I sit here upon my meditation cushion in my dark office, I also experience a tiny pang of unease. This is not the future I imagined for myself as a little girl. More pointedly: this is not a future I believed was available to me. I have four (now five) beautiful children, a husband who adores me and for whom I adore. We have a warm home surrounded by expansive woods. I have a fit and healthy body, and a career that serves my heart and helps support my family – this is more than I could have asked for and certainly more than I could have fathomed as my life.
How did I get here? Is this really all for me?
Irrational fears are always cropping up. If this life isn’t meant for me, then I’ll most certainly be found out. It can all be taken from me in an instant – not just my things or my circumstances, but all of the people I love, too. There’s this feeling that I’m perpetrating some sort of fraud, that I’m an actor playing a part. The sad little girl who grew up with very little in regard to things or affection, who turned into the adult woman who never demanded (or commanded) love or respect from the people she allowed to get close to her, is now somehow a woman teaching other women how to love themselves and free themselves from the prison of abuse and self-doubt? It makes no sense. Surely, the truth will be revealed and all of my insignificance and ineptitude will become glaringly obvious to everyone.
The reality is that all of those irrational fears are part of a hateful un-reality. They are thoughts meant to keep me from growing and hoping, but they are also thoughts meant to keep me feeling safe. The trouble with fear is that it sometimes brings us comfort. It tricks us into thinking that our circumstances are just as they should be only for the fact that they feel familiar. For me, abuse, neglect, lack of affection, and poverty were all conditions and ideas that I had grown used to in my younger years. As a terrible consequence of my familiarity with lack, abundance felt uncomfortable and suspicious. I resisted those times as a foreign intrusion. I sabotaged my happiness because it felt wrong to be happy.
Today, as a woman who experiences abundance in every aspect of her life, I am constantly managing those old irrational fears of being found out as hoax and losing all that I love. Perhaps it’s going to take a time for those fears to disappear completely.
However, at one time they were a constant agitator that plagued my thoughts and body with anxiety, now they are just cautionary pangs of discomfort here and there that show up when anything really good happens.
I still ask myself “How did I get here?” But I do so on more positive and curious terms. How did I manage to create this life, despite all the fear, doubt, and lack of self-love that for a lifetime felt imbued in the fabric of my existence? The simple and true answer is that I made it my personal everyday practice to act in spite of my fear. I was afraid, but I did it anyway. I would literally ask myself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” before every business call, before I clicked the publish button on every blog, and before every yoga class where dozens of eyes would be staring at me, waiting for me to begin teaching. As silly as it sounds, knowing that I wouldn’t die, that my kids couldn’t be taken from me, or that I wouldn’t end up homeless as a result of a singular mess-up made me feel ok with taking the leap and risking total humiliation. Almost, it’s a journey.
The act of believing in myself did not breed my success. The knowledge that I had nothing more to lose freed up the space towards success and allowed the net to appear. Then miracles started to appear and I started believing in myself. The doubt started to fade away and give way to the synchronistic events that led to my success. It’s a daily practice.
Every once in a while, I write down a short of list of ways to achieve success. I use the word success to describe a myriad of states of being. Success can come in the form of satisfaction with your job, happiness in your relationships, pride in your accomplishments, and so on. There are times when I feel so successful, my heart feels like it may burst. There are mornings when I wake up with such gratitude, excitement, and curiosity for what the day ahead may hold in store for me that I find it impossible to stay in bed for another moment. A little more than a year ago, I wrote another one of my short lists to outline some methods I’ve used for finding personal success in the form of dreams coming true, and I posted it on my blog. I want to re-share a revised version with you today:
Step 1 – Believe in dreams and miracles. Have a dream, and believe that it can come true.
That’s it. Believe that dreams and miracles happen every day. You also have to acknowledge that you’ve already experienced countless big and tiny miracles in your own life. The fact that I’m able to communicate with people all over the world every single day through a marvelous machine of modern science and technology through an interconnected invisible network called the internet is kind of miraculous. Bam! There’s a miracle. Every “I want…” is a little dream. Kaplow! You already have your first dream.
Step 2 – Speak your dreams OUT LOUD.
Bring your dreams out of your imagination and into reality with your breath and your words. Tell everyone you meet about all the amazing things that are coming your way. Speak it, and you’ll start to believe it. You’ll also be planting tiny little promises all around that you’re just going to have to fulfill. Sometimes speaking a dream out loud can be the scariest thing imaginable. “What will people think of me? Will they find me egotistical or too proud or obnoxious?” Who cares! Your desire for happiness is so valid and so worth fighting for. Maybe you think you don’t deserve it right now or that it’s not for you. That cannot matter. Just keep talking about your dreams, wants, and desires as if you already have them – as if they’re already on their way. Then watch closely for what happens next.
Step 3 – Show up.
When people start hearing about your dreams, they’ll want to be a part of them. They’ll think of you when something in their own life pops up that reminds them of your dream. They’ll tell you about opportunities and want to connect you with people who share your passion. There is a catch. You have to be ready to show up for these opportunities – even if you’re impossibly afraid. Fear will try to get in your way at every turn. Just thank this fear for its time and contribution to your growing process, and then move right past it. Show up even when you’re not quite sure what you’re doing. Show up even when you’re not sure if you’ll get anything out of the experience. Just keep showing up every single day. Don’t make it hard for your dreams to find you. By the way, “show up” also means “work really bloody hard” on your passion. Dreams always require hard work.
Step 4 – Be kind and be grateful.
I can say a lot about why this is probably the most important step, but I’ll keep it simple. Just practice kindness and gratitude, and the Universe (and your friends and family and strangers) will reward you with even more to be grateful for and relationships to practice your newfound appreciation and benevolence. Be kind to people who reflect who you may have been. Show compassion for them and offer your help and guidance in order to lift them up with you. Share your knowledge, your success stories, and truth about your missteps and failures. Always offer your most authentic self, because that’s all that the Universe wants from you. Acknowledge how much you have to be grateful for, and be grateful that you have so much to offer.
Step 5 – Save for a rainy (or sunny) day.
This applies to money, energy, ideas and time. You can’t give everything to everything. Make it your practice to focus on one thing at this very moment. Practice being here now. It’s important to save a little back for the big miracles that pop up out of nowhere and need a little extra “something” to make them work. Even joy can overwhelm you. Great opportunities can cause you to shut down. Approach your everyday life with softness and save your energy for the times that require hard work.
There will always be times when great tragedy presents itself to you. If you use up too much energy worrying about your laundry pile, your stack of bills, or what your co-worker thinks of you, your power will be too depleted to carry you through that pain or sadness.
If my practice wasn’t to focus on gratitude every single day, I would have missed all the beauty of being with him during his final days and hours. I would have only felt the sadness. It’s a miracle to have a practice.
My father died recently. At the time of his death I was experiencing unprecedented success in my life. Beyond personal successes, my professional life was moving stealthily toward abundance. He watched the first episode of my first television show on his deathbed just days before he passed. We watched together with excitement and pride.
Success, satisfaction, self-love, dream building – these all take practice and disciplined work. The greater practice is to remind yourself on a constant basis that all of these things are absolutely for you. The act of reminding continues to be my practice. Fear creeps in, and I act in spite of it. Doubt takes hold, and I breathe deeply until it lets go. Rules are presented to me, and I write my own instead. My greatest wish is for you to do the same… or better. I love you!