Monday, January 31, 2011

If Money Were Not a Factor

So what would you do with your life is money were no object, if it or rather the lack of it was not a barrier or factor in your decision? Just imagine the possibilities for a few minutes. This is not necessarily the "what would you do if you won the lottery question"- but instead an exercise to help figure out your true life dreams. If money wasn't in the way...would you change careers, go back to school, travel more, pursue a dream...

I found this to be a fascinating process. It would be lovely if the money issues disappeared in the process, but of course they don't. Are you intrigued by the idea of being a kindergarten teacher but the salary doesn't work for you? Maybe there is a career working with or for children that fits you. Perhaps volunteering to teach a class at a community center or church would bring you more happiness.

This exercise helps you figure out what brings you joy and creates passion. And once you identify those passions, I do believe that while money concerns don't evaporate, once you get on track with your true life path, things seeme to line up behind you to help make it happen. There are many stories of people who have changed their lives completely, reinvented themselves and found their path and therefore joy even when the odds looked stacked against them.

So if money was not seen as a barrier for me...

* I would pursue a Master's Degree in Counseling, Education related field, Women's Studies.. or maybe them all.

* I would build a career/life coaching business- allowing me to counsel, train, faciliate, write and teach for a living.

* I would write, write, write and self publish my books and novel if need be.

* I would adopt again from an orphanage or be a foster parent.

* I would travel and show my girls the world.

Of course, step two in this exercise if the tough one. Being honest enough with yourself to clarify if lack of financial resources is really the reason why you are not on your true life path. Which of your dreams could you actually be making happen right now. I have a lot to think about.

What would you do if money were not an object?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ten Friends Every Woman Should Have

Friends! I think that having a circle of friends in your life is important, not just important but a key driver to happiness. I had a fairly tough week and once again two of my friends in particular pulled me out of the quagmire - one with gentle reassurance and an I love you and one with a tougher talk - knock it off, make a change and get it in gear. Both were messages I needed to hear at the time.

Even when in a relationship or marriage, friends are as important as air to breathe for women. It may be the same for men but not being one, I will leave that post to a male writer. Friends fill a variety of roles- playmate, confidant, advisor, companion and sister. They will laugh with you, cry with you, celebrate your joys, hold your hand, drag you through hell and back, stand by your side no matter what and they understand. They understand what it feels like to stand in your shoes and try to balance all the roles: daughter, mother, sister, spouse, lover, provider....etc.

In the spirit of fun and celebration of friendship and kindred spirits, here are the ten friends every woman should have in her life:

1. An old friend.. OK, I don't neccessarily mean old as in age, but someone who has known you for a long time. There is something strangely comforting about having a girlfriend in your life who knew you 20 years and 20 lbs ago, when you had boundless energy, could rebound in a blink of an eye from a night out and had no need for Spanx. She knows your youthful dreams, first love(s) and nickname in college. That shared history can keep you and and your friendship grounded. We can lose these friendships as we grow, move away from one another and develop new interests. But with a true "old" friend, when you do chat or re-connect it feels like it was just yesterday that you were last together.

2. Fellow mom ... I tell all of the younger women in my life who are about to have babies- there is an unexpected bonus coming your way- you will be making wonderful new friends in the parents of your children's classmates and playmates. The common bond of motherhood, especially with kids of similiar ages creates a quick sense of intimacy with these women. I have found some of my closest friends through my kids. Birthday parties, carpool, school activities - take full advantage of meeting these women. The sisterhood of motherhood is very real.

3. I am game girl. You know the one- always up for a party, shopping trip, impromptu night out or weekend. She will be there at the drop of a hat. In her heyday, she might have been the life of the party on a regular basis and she can always be counted on to bring fun, joy and humor to any situation. Planning a party or a shower, need a boost of confidence, a laugh or someone with whom you can share a bottle of wine or pitcher of martinis- she is the girl to call. No party or gathering is complete wihout her spirit and sense of fun.

4. I have your back girl. She can always be counted on to be on your side, no matter what. There are times when you just need that. You don't need someone to analyze the situation, make suggestions, to do lists- blah, blah, blah. You just need someone who will tell you that you are FABULOUS (because really you ARE fabulous no matter what you think), that you do not look fat, agree that your boss is an ass, your husband/boyfriend is acting like a jerk and that EVERYTHING will be OK in the end. She will dry your tears, make you laugh and pour you a glass of wine or a cup of tea while making a voodoo doll of your ex.

5. The straight shooter. She is a true friend who really has your best interests at heart. She will be completely honest - your new hair color doesn't really flatter you, you can complete that half marathon if you try and forget the skinny jeans. This friendship is built on trust and love. You may cry your eyes out with the "I have your back girl", but the next morning you are on the phone with the straight shooter getting advice on headhunters, career plans, divorce attorneys or the best way to handle a problem. She is smart (very often smarter than you- always have at least one friend smarter than you are), organized and loves you, always. She will be compassionate and help you at the same time- she is the one you want dragging you through a tough time.

6. The workout buddy/special interest friend.. the alarm rings at 5 a.m. to exercise...bleh, BUT your workout buddy will be waiting for you. She may hate or may love to workout but she forces herself to do it and is a great influence on you. If exercise isn't your thing, what is- having a buddy who shares your passion for cooking, french class, scrapbooking, photography, dancing makes it twice the fun.

7. The mentor- I have been fortunate in my life to have had some amazing professional, spiritual and personal mentors. Women who have advised, guided and supported me during career and life changes. These women have been older than me, more seasoned in the work place and pushed through barriers ahead of me. They have often been through similiar life challenges and give great advice. I am now trying to pay it forward and mentor some of the younger women in my life. Find a mentor in your field and be a mentor- what a great way to enrich your life.

8. The stylish/shopper friend- She or he always knows where to find the best bargains and has that innate sense of style - think of Clinton and Stacey on What Not to Wear. Need a shopping trip? This friend is ready. Buying a special outfit or gift- she would love to go with you and gives great advice.

9. The platonic male friend - find him at work, the gym, school, anywhere. Many women fill this role with a gay male friend but it can work with a straight guy as long as there is no unspoken attraction or agenda. Men have a great way of clearing through the clutter and giving focused advice. It is lovely to have that look into the male psyche.

10. The spiritual one. Think wisdom, great conversation, sharing ideas. You probably share a similiar spiritual philosophy but perhaps not. Reading a great new spiritual book, attending a seminar, class on meditation, bible study- you have that in common. Lets face it, sharing your opinion on "A New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle is just more meaningful when the other person "gets it."

Celebrate friendship!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

snow and intuition...

How often do you listen to that little voice in your head? Not a big voice telling you to do illegal things - but the quieter one, the sense of knowing what to do or what decision to make. Is it your conscience, your heart, divine guidance, a whisper from an angel or your own unique brand of well worn wisdom? Whatever you call it, in my experience- that voice is usually right on target.

Occasionally, when life gets busy and crowded, it becomes hard to hear and sometimes even harder to listen to that voice. Sometimes it is loud and clear - like a warning bell and at other times it is much softer. I find that I am more likely to ignore this wisdom when I don't quite like what it has to say, perhaps I need to make a significant change in my life that seems impossible, a relationship is no longer working, or I should do something that I have been avoiding.

Intuition is like the snowstorms so many of us have experienced lately. It starts off as beautiful soft flakes- light, fun to play with and lovely. It can then become deeper, distracting and insistent that you pay attention. Sometimes when ignored, the guidance gets stronger and uncomfortable - like the pellets of an ice storm.

I am trying to do a better job of not only listening to my guidance but actually acting on the wisdom that I matter how uncomfortable it may be. I will take a beautiful snowfall over an ice storm any day.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The web of life

What a week- my sweet Avery's birthday and gotcha day! Eight years ago this week, she was born near Gaoming, China and placed in a cardboard box, with a blanket and a note with her date of birth. She was left on a busy street corner for authorities to find. After being discovered, she was taken to the local police station and then onto a local orphanage. I cannot imagine the pain, sorrow and love that her birthmother experienced in these moments. She made sure that the baby was covered with a blanket and knew the date of her birth. She took the baby girl to a crowded location where she would be found. One piece of the web of life...

Seven years ago this week, that same baby girl was placed in my arms and officially became my daughter. I say officially, because she has always felt like my daughter (both of my girls and I share deep, soul-based bonds) and has been connected to me forever. Another thread....

Avery meets her family including two sisters - one was my stepdaughter, Dani, and one was Lily who was adopted from China four years earlier. Two girls from neighboring provinces in China became sisters thousands of miles away in the United States. Three knots in the thread....

It amazes me how many people have entered my life, come together, connected and wrapped themselves around my heart. And quite often, they have arrived exactly when needed and often showed up unexpectedly. I remember meeting my friend Jan after adopting Lily. I was searching for another parent and writer who might share common beliefs about adoption and the spiritual connections that it makes real. She had a website, books and resources about the topic and I went on to write and publish. We kept in touch over the years and when I went through the end of my marriage, for some reason I felt compelled to reach and confide in her. It turns out that she had gone through the same experience and ended up being a great source of support. Another thread...

The end of a marriage, surviving betrayal - tough things to go through, but guess what- I met some wonderful people as a result of that painful experience. I joined and later helped co-faciliate an online support group for betrayed spouses. Through that group, I met two amazing women whom I now consider dear friends. I finally met Jen- one of these ladies, when I traveled for work recently. She has now connected with my friend Jan with whom she shares professional interests. More threads knotted....

Family, friends, lovers, colleagues, teachers, mentors, neighbors have all come into my life and sometimes left it - all with a specific purpose and on the right timetable. They have laughed and cried with me, challenged me and supported me as I have loved, disagreed and been in their corner as well. Sometime the relationships have lasted and in other cases, they served their purpose at that point in my life and ended. But all had a reason to exist. More threads, some long and some short....

The web of life- so many threads, knots and twists and turns. If you want a prettier picture, think of a lace doily- patterns and beauty that while being created seems mismatched or that it could easily unravel. When complete, though, it is gorgeous and made of intricate woven threads.