Eleanor Roosevelt said, “in the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”
In other words: Happiness is an inside job and we are VERY POWERFUL beings. Today we are going to talk about what it means to live intentionally and fearless and I’m going to tell you about a new tool to help you jump into that feet first.
I was on a podcast interview with Emily and Erik Orton from New York last week. They are the authors of the book Seven at Sea. He is a screenwriter and one of his productions flopped – stayed open for only 5 weeks, and he had to take a temporary job in a high rise. His job gave him a view out the window of the Hudson River and he used to watch the sailboats sailing by. He started dreaming about what it would look like to learn to sail; to live life on your own terms. He wasn’t from the class of people who usually sail. His wife, Emily who stayed at home with their 5 kids, had a fear of deep water, but one step at a time they considered What Could Go Right instead of What Might Go Wrong. Soon enough they had learned how to sail, taught their children, and they found themselves living on a sailboat for a year as they traveled 5000 miles from New York to the Carribean and back. This was all done despite having very limited funds, their youngest daughter was down syndrome, and none of them had any background in sailing.
I loved this interview because when I asked them what their big takeaway from this incredible life adventure was, Emily answered that she found 3 types of confidence: 1. She learned to trust herself because she did what she set out to do. 2. Competence: She learned new skills on this adventure so she had an increased sense of Competence – how to rig, how to find food in completely unknown places, a hundred new things she learned how to do. 3. She gained a sense of comfort with uncertainty. They learned after weeks and months of sailing to new islands, not knowing their way around, not knowing where food would be on each island, not having a crystal ball about weather, or having all the answers…..they learned to trust that things would emerge and they would find their way.
Erik said – “We will not know all the answers when we begin, and that’s okay. Now we know we will figure them out.”
This last one was my favorite because it was the learned skill and choice or FAITH OVER FEAR.
I saw an ad in an Oprah magazine many years ago, it said, “Every woman has a story. It’s not how you tell it, it’s how you live it.”
The Love Your Story platform has 3 parts: 1. The Past: Most of us have stories from our past that hold us back. Those stories hold shame, or a deep sense of victimhood, or unworthiness, or regret. Until we learn to reframe these we stay stuck in places that we can’t progress past. I work with clients to help them reframe their stories. 2. The Present: When I did my original presentation to this group last year I talked about this aspect of story – the stories that we are telling ourselves right now and the importance of recognizing the negative ones that eat away at our confidence, worthiness and engagement with the world. These are critical to recognize and manage. 3. The Future – this is my focus for today’s discussion – taking action – living intentional and fearless to create the story line you want to tell, the story line you want to live. This requires intention and courage.
We do lots of this – fighting against the fear and self doubt. What’s one thing you’re doing to live intentional? To live fearless?
We are not pawns of life. We are the creators of our stories and by living intentional and fearless every day we can write a story that brings us fierce joy, pride in our risings, and treasure troves beyond what we may realize we are capable of. We can do this because the universe has our back, and when you are standing up and stepping into the arena, running toward the fear and watching it disappear…well, that’s when the magic happens. That’s when you stand in your power, create possibility, and shine.
Henry David Thoreau said, “When you achieve your dreams, it’s not so much what you get, as what you become while achieving it.”
The best stories are not about characters who are binge watching Netflix. They aren’t even about people who have found a comfortable place to sort of not rock the boat – even though most of the time that is what we humans are searching for – that sweet, comfortable spot– no, the best storylines, the best movies, the best books are those when the character wants something bad enough that they are willing to overcome the obstacles in front of them to get it. Those stories show growth and the characters change as they stretch and often face things they don’t want to face. But to do this we often need what Emily was talking about – that sense of comfort with uncertainty. The knowing that we won’t know how to do everything and we won’t know how the story will end, but we will still take action and move forward. We will act in faith.
Let me share some examples with you:
In episode 83 Wendy Garret was in a scooter accident where one of her legs was paralyzed, when I asked her, toward the end of the interview if she would undo the accident if she could, she said no because without the paralysis of her leg she wouldn’t have been able to qualify for the seven largest world marathons. Her tragedy had become a ticket to experiences she was so pleased that she could have. She intentionally choose to amplify her story with action. She created an interesting story and turned tragedy into triumph.
I share this because when we know that we even in through life’s dark experiences we can choose to see light, there is increased faith rather than fear.
In episode 23 with Marvin Castler who decided to live his life on his own terms. He chooses to live in a storage shed and drive a prius to save money so he can hike all summer – living out on the trails – the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide trail and many others. During the winter he teaches 3rd grade and travels to University of Arizona Wildcat games as the SuperFan – painted face, blue beard and all . He’s got a story – a story written from his own personal desires to hike, be in touch with nature, play big as a Super Fan. He acts and creates his own personal lifestyle – a story all his own, and it IS interesting.
In episode 115 Sara Dean took her struggle with infertility and created the Shameless Mom Academy podcast. She was finally able to get pregnant with her son, but no other fertilization efforts brought her anymore children, so she channeled her love and the extra time she felt she had because of raising only 1 child, into a podcast to support and inspire other moms around the world.
These three examples show people intentionally writing a life story on their own terms. Turning what first felt like tragedy into something beautiful and fulfilling, or in Marvin’s case, just intentionally building a unique storyline all his own.
Now – I want to qualify the word FEARLESS – I don’t mean that we don’t feel fear when we face something new, something we don’t know how to do, something that pushes our buttons regarding the fear of rejection, or the fear of failure, or the fear of public humiliation, or the fear of loss, or the fear of wasting time or money – we definitely feel the fear – but by FEARLESS I mean we work out that muscle and we FEAR LESS. Each time we face a fear and see our own growth and experiences in tough places we increase our faith in ourselves, in the Universal way of things, in God, and decrease our fear. That makes us incredibly powerful!
What about if we feel like what we want doesn’t look like everyone else’s story?
One of the most beautiful and exciting things about us humans is how individual we all are. In the scriptures, God tells us that we are to give the beggar what he wants not what we think he deserves or needs. I’ve always found this interesting. I bring this up because to me it illustrates that God cares about us individually, and he cares what WE want. The crazy type of life we each want to live is totally legit. There’s not just one way to do it. We often get ourselves caught up in all the shoulds and musts that are imposed by a cultural expectation, but once we are bold enough to see past those – past the “one way of doing things,” –to deviate, our own true style and heart can break out. This is beautiful and exciting because it’s something different and unique for everyone. And there is so much satisfaction in that type of life creation.
The story we WANT to write matters. It matters to us and it matters to God, and frankly, I think it matters to the whole world because we all benefit when we each follow our bliss and the talents and gifts we were sent to create with. Don’t rip yourself off, don’t rip the world off. Live your unique life story.
So, back to the question – what does it mean to live intentionally. I think it means to live on purpose. Not to be acted upon, but to be the instigator of the story only you can write.
Here’s a couple questions I’d like you to think about: Hit pause after each question and think about it.
Well….the good news is that you are in charge of your choices every day. With every choice to act or not act you write the next paragraph in your life story. So you are totally the one with all the power.
Ralph Marston said, “From this moment on, you don’t have to let anyone else’s opinion have any influence on the way you live your life. From this moment on, you can make every choice based on your highest, most treasured values. From this moment on, you can let go of all worries about what you might or might not happen. From this moment on, you can drop all your resentment and anguish about what’s already in the past. From this moment on, your life can be as good as you choose to make it. From this moment on, you can persistently stick with your commitment to living the best life you can imagine. Today your wisdom is greater than it’s ever been. Today, you have more experience than at any other point in your life so far. So today, and from now on, you’re able to make the most of all that. From this moment on, you can expect the best, and live up to those expectations. From this moment on, the possibilities are beautiful and amazing. Let this be the day you choose to live at a higher level than ever before.”
Let me tell you part of my personal story –My Love Your Story research started because I did NOT love my story. I had been married and divorced three times. I felt shame and disbelief about my story. And I had also acquired a lot of pain, distrust of men, cynicism. I didn’t wallow in the victim spaces, but I was emotionally roughed up and I could NOT see my way around it after tears. One day one of my friends from work walked into my office and said I just returned from this emotional intelligence training. You need to go.
I trusted her and so I went. I went because I knew I was stuck and I knew that despite all I had tried I couldn’t get myself unstuck. I had no idea what lay ahead. I had no idea that I would spend the better part of the next year flying back and forth between Utah and Ohio attending one level after another and working my way through coaches and programs and eventually becoming a coach myself in the program.
One day while I was going through one of my coaching sessions, my coach handed us an assignment with the confidence of someone who couldn’t be challenged, but beneath her challenge excitement bubbled. She knew she was sending us out to gain an insight, but she also knew that we would all push back and opt for a trek to Starbucks if given even the slightest option between setting up a free-hugs stand and retreating to a safe and comfortable place. We weren’t given the slightest option.
The assignment was to take 30 minutes and create a sign announcing free hugs – translation: head to the dollar store for poster board and markers, then we’d have another fifteen minutes to set up shop and choose our spot, after which we’d have an hour to offer hugs to the general passers-by. My teammates and I looked at each other with trepidation, but we knew there was no way out, so we pulled up our big-people panties and went to work. At least if this flopped we’d flop together and have a story to tell. This uncomfortable assignment joined the ranks of many uncomfortable, but ultimately life-changing projects that my life coaches insisted upon during my emotional intelligence training.
When I became a coach and started helping others who were as fresh and uncomfortable as I had once been I got to see and experience the transformation from the other side of the experience, and regardless of the side you were on, the experiences were powerful. They created discomfort, connection, communication, love, and possibility. One thing was certain. I wouldn’t have done these things on my own. I wouldn’t have even thought of many of them and I would have figured myself too busy to bother with others. But, if you’re not getting what you want from your life – if your story needs some tweaking, then you have to do things differently.
The third tier of the Love Your Story platform is one of taking action to create your life on purpose. Last year I created something many of you have heard about – the 21-Day Challenge for creating connection/possibility/self-care in our lives.
The precursor to this book started as the 21-Day Challenge. It was designed to provide a buffet of life hacks that the Love Your Story podcast audience and followers would try out during a three week period after which they could choose the life-hacks that individually meant the most to them and helped them create more connection, self-care, and possibility in their lives. It was an on-line course.
We created on-line groups that embarked on the challenge together and then supported one another on the Love Your Story podcast Facebook page. As the groups worked and I talked with participants, I found that some things needed improvement. Some people didn’t like
*accessing their challenges on-line each morning.
*Some wanted to keep their notes
*Some felt guilt for getting behind and not doing a new challenge each day, which created a sense of failure rather than the intended improvements in their life stories.
*Some wanted to give it as a gift – but I wasn’t sure how to do that online.
So…I held a focus group. I got feedback from the participants and ideas for some powerful changes were made. Namely – it shouldn’t be a 21-day challenge, it would be more beneficial to have the 21 challenges available for people to do at their own pace. So the name changed. No longer was it the 21-Day Challenge, but it became the 21 L.I.F.E. Connection Challenges that it is today.
The next upgrade was to put it in a book form. Creating a book solved multiple problems, namely people could keep a record of their notes at the end of each challenge, they could return to each challenge at will, and they could do the challenges at their own pace.
So today, you are seeing the tried and tested product for creating better connection, possibility, and self-care in your own life, in your own powerful way, and in a way that is challenging, fun and interesting all at the same time.
This is my tool – for this third and extremely important tier of creating our lives on purpose. We all know the things we should be doing. It’s not that the ideas are unheard of. You probably already do some of them. But the book is a fun and organized way that involves exercises that I have watched work with hundreds of people. It’s a taster’s table of life-hacks and sometimes it’s just really nice to have a format to follow – something to prompt that action you want to take to create better things in your life. A platform to follow and inspire you.
For your copy and start to creating more connection, more possibility and more self-care in your story, you can get a copy of the book on the website – www.loveyourstorypodcast.com. These give you 21 challenges to take action on and you’ll be surprised how sometimes it is the small and simple things that start a whole new storyline. If you want to start living more intentionally, this book is a great place to start.