Fear of Success

Our Road
Our Road

“Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.” ~ George S. Patton

“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.” ~ Michael Jordan

“A champion is afraid of losing. Everyone else is afraid of winning.” ~ Billie Jean King

“Do something you really like, and hopefully it pays the rent. As far as I’m concerned, that’s success.” ~ Tom Petty

My sister Celeste and I were talking the other day about pursuing our life’s dreams and some realizations we’ve had along the way. She is a certified life coach, but has had difficulty getting her career started. However, since moving to the Seattle area, it looks like her business will be taking off. That’s what started our conversation about success. As we were talking she said, “I think I’m afraid to succeed.” Boy could I relate to that because I’ve felt the same way about my writing.

As we talked we acknowledged that the same situation applies to both of us. We get used to our life circumstances and it’s hard to visualize living any other way. Does that ever happen to you? It takes a great deal of effort to create a new way of living. If you choose to create an unconventional life, you have to give up some things that are fun but not productive in your old life. And you face opposition, people will not hesitate to tell you that your dream is not worth the effort, or that you will never succeed so you may as well give up. It’s difficult to shut out the naysayers. You have to be willing to fail, perhaps many times before you succeed and that’s scary.

Celeste and I both want to live a new kind of life. We want to help people while we do what we love and make money doing it. We both long to travel, be open to new and unexpected experiences,  and we want to meet new and interesting people with a different perspective than our own. These are dreams we’ve talked about over the years, but for some reason it’s been difficult for us to break out and go for that new life. Both of us have suffered through some difficult times, especially financially. That’s one thing that is the hardest to overcome, our financial circumstances. We get so used to living with less that it becomes hard to see ourselves as being prosperous.

Celeste and I both think that visualizing what it feels like to have abundance and success while at the same time helping others is essential to making our dreams come true, which got me to thinking about the circumstances in which we were born. Our parents struggled with money until later in their marriage. I’m the oldest so life was more difficult for me than for Celeste who is the youngest. For example, I wore lots of hand-me-down clothes growing up. When mom and dad had more money, mom continued to act as if they didn’t have enough to buy my younger sisters the clothes they needed. She was stuck in her old thinking that they had to do without many of the nicer things in life. Dad on the other hand embraced their more prosperous situation and always made sure my sisters had the things they needed. Sometimes Celeste and I find ourselves stuck in our mom’s pattern of thinking instead of our dad’s. That’s one of the struggles we each face in making our dreams come true.

Most people continue on much as their parents did. There is nothing wrong with that, but there are people who long for a different kind of life. They have dreams that go in a different direction from their “tribe”, as Wayne Dyer called it. My sister Celeste and I, and our husbands are such people. Something inside drives us to seek out a new kind of life, one that doesn’t appear to be outwardly secure but is highly creative. We want to take the road less traveled and that’s the tension we feel each day as we struggle to support our families yet create something new.

Even though we’re taking the road less traveled, there are others who have forged the paths that we want to take, it’s just that not as many have chosen these paths and that makes our desire to follow them a little scary. There aren’t as many footprints to follow. Sometimes the footprints are lost all together and we have to guess how to reach our destination. Every day we have to reassess and move forward with our plans. We have to give ourselves a break if we take two steps forward and one step back. That’s all part of the game.

So, we’re both excited and a little frightened to think about how we’ll react when we succeed. Celeste and I feel that if we’re not a little frightened of the outcome, it’s not worth doing. The thing we look forward to is the fact that we’ll both be living very different lives than the ones we’re experiencing now and as far as we’re concerned, that will be wonderful.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

Compassion and Generosity Never Go Out of Style

It's A Wonderful Life Village
It’s A Wonderful Life Village

“Instead of judging people by their past, stand by them and help repair their future.” –Heidie Diasanta

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.” –Abigail Van Buren

This week’s blog post is a difficult one to write, because this past week my family was split in two. I won’t recite every detail, except to say that my brother and the older of my sisters felt it necessary to accuse my youngest sister of abusing our mother and their children. Harsh words have been exchanged with plenty of blame to go around. This incident has made me think long and hard about forgiveness, compassion and generosity.

My youngest sister and brother-in-law have been struggling financially for about six months. It’s hard to understand if you’ve never been in their position, but being poor takes a lot of effort. I’ve done what I can to support them along the way. I think they are amazing, because they have never given up. From my perspective, they’ve been on an amazing spiritual journey, learning about themselves and trusting that the trials they’re going through are leading them to their purpose. I’m amazed that their relationship with each other has grown stronger, and their children continue to thrive, even with all the chaos going on around them. Both my sister and her husband have finally found jobs that are both meaningful, and that will help them build the life they want.

What distresses me the most is that from my point of view, my brother and sister lack compassion for my youngest sister’s situation. Oh I understand my brother and sister think they are protecting our Mother. At least that’s what I hope motivates them. The thing is, they’ve been off living their own lives, and not really engaged with the rest of us for many years. They don’t understand how the relationships among the rest of us have grown over the time they’ve been away. So why my siblings feel the need to kick my youngest sister and her husband just when they’re picking themselves up, I can’t fathom.

On the one hand I’m shocked and hurt by what has occurred. On the other, I know that the only way I can help heal the rift is to send love and light to the situation every single day. Miracles can happen. This miracle may take some time to manifest, but I know from experience that relationships can be healed. My youngest sister and I were estranged from each other for some years, but after much forgiveness work on both sides, we’ve built a stronger relationship than we had previously.

As you probably understand, this fracas has caused me to think deeply about compassion, generosity, and forgiveness all of which I learned from my parents. As I struggle to try to understand what’s happened in my family, today I found two things that helped me recommit to follow my parents lead of being generous and compassionate.

The first was a video published in Nick Ortner’s The Tapping Solution newsletter. It was originally a TEDx talk by Michael Norton at Harvard University in 2011. The title of the talk is: “How to buy happiness.” The point of the video is that money CAN buy you happiness, if you give some away to help others. The study the talk is based on gives amazing evidence to support Michael Norton’s premise. As I listened, I was struck with the fact that the reason Christmas is such a joy-filled season, is because we’re spending money on the perfect gifts to give others. The amazing thing is, the amount of money you give away doesn’t have to be large to make you feel better about your life. The reverse is true if you hoard money, your life is not any happier, and possibly less happy. Hum, I couldn’t help but think of my sister and brother.

The second inspirational piece was an article posted by A Mighty Girl, a group I follow on Facebook. The article was about a young woman, Dominique Harrison-Bentzen, who is a college student in Preston, England. She’d lost her ATM card, and was stranded after an evening out with friends. She had no money for a taxi. A homeless man, Robbie, offered her all the money he had, about $5 so she could get home. She was able to find her way home without using the money he so generously offered. However, she so touched by his gesture, that she started a fund raising page on Facebook so she could raise enough money to pay for an apartment for him. Well, of course, much more money than was needed for the apartment came in and she was able to give the money to other charities in the area that provide for the homeless. Needless to say, her story went viral and she’s starting a new campaign on Facebook to help others.

Both those stories inspired me. First off, compassion and caring not only makes us happier, it’s also big news. We want to hear inspirational stories like these. Forgiveness, compassion and caring are what’s going to change the world. If you’ve been reading my posts for any length of time, you know I’m continually writing about turning away from negative thoughts and feelings and embracing the positive. In the past I’ve apologized for that, but not any longer.

I’ll end this post with a quote from A Course In Miracles which I found just after the blow up in my family. It has helped me put my feelings into perspective. “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” I know that my youngest sister, her husband, my husband and I have been seeking the barriers within ourselves that keep us from accepting love. I write from experience, when you go inside and break down those barriers, your life will become messy for a while. You have to go though a time of what I call cosmic closet cleaning. However, when things in our lives fall apart, we’ve got a golden opportunity to build something new. That’s what I celebrate, because the alternative is to stagnate, which, in my opinion, is a very dark place in which to live.

I hope your holidays with family and friends are rich and happy, though I know that sometimes they are quite stressful. There can be a blessing in that for you. And remember, being generous, sharing money and compassion to others makes you feel better about yourself, and makes you happier.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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Changing My Mind

Tarantula Nebula
Tarantula Nebula

“Detachment is not that you should own nothing. But that nothing should own you.” – Ali ibn abi Talib

“Contemplate these words: Nothing matters, and you think it does.” – Neale Donald Walsch

For nearly five years, my husband and I have been paying off our credit card debt. Life has been quite difficult. I know some of you know exactly what I’m talking about. Not having money made us feel constrained. There was no possibility for travel, or any extras. Sometimes even things that were necessary had to wait. These five years, I’ve had to delve deeply into my attitudes about money. So often the things that hold us back are a result of beliefs we picked up as children and because we believe them without question, it’s hard to shake them off. Many of my money beliefs held me back. I didn’t believe I deserved to have money. I thought the amount of money I had defined who I was as a person and I thought that being prosperous took affluence away from others. None of that is true.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that I was beginning a tapping regimen to dig up some of those destructive thought patterns I’d accepted as truth. It’s amazing how much I’m changing because of concentrated effort to get myself straight about the purpose of money and my relationship to it.

Something I learned early in this journey was that I am NOT defined by personal possessions, the amount of money I have in the bank, or even my accomplishments. Just getting clear about that was a big relief. However, that wasn’t the end of my awakening, though for a while, I thought it was.

We’re each so much more than we show the world in our everyday lives. Some of us sense that. We know on some level that the things we do in our day-to-day lives doesn’t really matter to the Soul. We’re expanding through experiencing life, and that’s what matters. Others take life at face value and believe that the events that happen to them personally and the events out in the world, are all there is. They don’t believe there is anything more. I feel sorry for them for they must live what Ralph Waldo Emerson calls “lives of quiet desperation”. Maybe they are happy. I can’t say, since I’ve always felt that there is much more to living than can be perceived with my six senses.

I’m describing humans, who really defy description, as having an either/or approach to life. That’s not really fair, but for the purposes of my point, perhaps you will forgive me.

Anyway, for those of us who are seekers, we’re often rewarded with the perfect tool, or lesson, or friend, or teacher, when we need them most. And I was blessed just at this turning point in my life with the tapping technique and a focused meditation that have helped me dig down to those detrimental buried beliefs that I picked up along the way. As I tap, send Reiki to myself, and meditate, I see the error in concepts and beliefs that I’ve held as true for so long. I pick up each one, examine it to see if it fits who and where I am now. If it fits, I keep it. If not, I let it go. What is required is a change in perspective. That sounds easy enough, but if you’ve tried to change anything about your life, you know it takes a concentrated effort before the new habit, or attitude takes hold.

When I chose this undertaking to change my attitudes about money, I had a big obstacle to overcome. For years I’ve felt a huge block between me and money. It was almost like a physical wall inside my head. Whenever I dared dream of becoming prosperous in whatever endeavor I happened to be working on, that wall would loom large. It seemed insurmountable. I felt, for some reason, like I wasn’t meant to be successful, and have money flow to me easily. What’s more I couldn’t imagine what it felt like to never worry about money. This is the one thing I’ve been working on these five years. I’m happy to say, that with the help of the tools I’ve been given and determination to change my perception, the wall is coming down.

Even though I’ve made that big breakthrough, I’ve got more tangled emotions around money that need to be changed and healed. Just today in my meditation it came to me that I’ve held onto the belief that if I’m successful, or prosperous, that someone else is deprived. Intellectually, I know that’s hogwash. But, the thing about belief systems is they get handed down generation after generation and the idea that there isn’t enough of anything to go around is a pernicious belief that just isn’t true. What’s so bad about this particular belief system, is that we blame those who HAVE, for the poverty of those who DON’T HAVE. So, all these years, I’ve blamed people who are so much more prosperous than I am, when where I really needed to look was at myself and my beliefs about success and money. The bottom line about that is: I didn’t think I deserved it. The focus for my next stage in my healing process, is to allow myself to know that there is abundance enough for all of us. I won’t have to feel guilty about the success that I create. I can be an example for others of how to find their own success.

I’m grateful for the shifts in perception I’ve had so far. I’ll keep you posted when more insights come my way.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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Having Money Give Options

Julia working at the wheel
Julia working at the wheel

“Without Freedom, creativity cannot flourish. The right to freedom is crucial to progress in any society; and the context is having a sense of global responsibility.” –Dalai Lama

“Money won’t create success, the freedom to make it will.” –Nelson Mandela

“The lack of money is the root of all evil.” –Mark Twain

This past weekend The Pottery Studio At Sierra Vista, which evolved out of my husband’s pottery classes, held their seventh annual Empty Bowls Project fund raiser. To find out more about the history of how The Empty Bowls Project got started, click here.  It’s now an international movement of loosely organized, local groups. Each group solicits donations of handmade pottery bowls, soup and bread. Those attending the event, pick out a bowl, give a suggested donation of $10 and then they sit down to a simple meal of soup and bread. The handmade bowls are a reminder that there a many bowls that remain empty in our communities. The funds raised go to local food banks.

The studio in our town is located inside one of the community centers run by the city, which supports and sponsors our local Empty Bowls Project every year. We’re fortunate to live in a generous community that has helped the project become a must attend event each year.

To give you a perspective on how much our little event has grown, the first year there were about 200 donated bowls and about $2,000 dollars was earned. All proceeds were given to local food banks. Over the past 7 years many people have become involved to make the event a success. Schools, the local community college and individual artists donate their talents at special events to create the bowls, and each year more local restaurants donate soup and bread. By comparison, this year, over 2,000 bowls were donated, and about $15,000 was raised. For a community of between 50,000 and 65,000 people, if you count the outlying areas, that’s a huge amount of growth. Needless to say, our county agencies can use all the help they can get.

I don’t think the county I live in is much different than others around the country. There are a lot of people who don’t know where their next meal is coming from, and a large percentage of those people are children. $15,000 will be a big help, but it won’t stretch to feed all the hungry people in our area for long.

On Sunday, after the Empty Bowls event, Barry gave a talk about the Project at the Unitarian Universalist church. During the talk, I overheard one gentleman say, “It’s sad that we live in the wealthiest country in the world and yet there are so many homeless and hungry people.” That is sad. But it doesn’t need to be our story. We can change it by rolling up our sleeves and getting to work, healing our inner money issues, and helping each other.

I wrote all of the above to help you understand the point of this post. To be free each person needs enough money so that they don’t have to worry about having enough food, a decent place to live, clothes on their bodies, proper health care, and all the other essentials of a good life. I get that because Barry and I have been struggling with money issues our entire married life. That’s why I decided to begin the tapping regimen that I mentioned last week. There have been times when Barry and I had to decide between paying a bill or buying groceries. We’ve never been destitute. We’ve always had a roof over our heads. But, to get just a taste of the struggles some people experience for long periods of time, makes me feel compassion for them.

Something we don’t often think about is that struggles with money are not just about earning a living wage. They’re also about finding your place in the world, and fulfilling your purpose.

For the last five years, Barry and I have been paying off our credit cards. It’s part of our long term plan to find financial freedom. During that time, we’ve been living within our means. It’s been a hard, but good lesson. Now we are on the verge of having surplus money and as a result, we’ve been talking about how to best use it. On the way home from church, we decided that we can give a monthly donation to our local food banks. This will help families who struggle each month to put food on the table.

To give food to people in need is one thing, but we decided we also need to support agencies that help provide education. We believe the old saying, “If you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime.” With proper education, many struggling families can find not only higher paying jobs, but self-esteem and hopefully their true purpose.

Of course there are so many other problems around this issue that need to be addressed, like raising the minimum wage, providing low income housing to more families and the like. However, one person can only do so much. It’s better to address one or two problems than to get overwhelmed and not do anything.

I’m glad to say that now that I’m seeing money in a new way, I feel more generous. For a long time when I got money, I wasn’t sure when I’d be getting more, so I hoarded it. I know now there is always more money on it’s way to me, which makes me more determined to share what I’ve got.

Barry and I are using our talents and our money to help people have enough food to eat and education to help them feel better about themselves. How will you help?

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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