Come What May

In my last blog, I talked about a meditation that revealed the secret to the perfection of being. It was “rejoicing in being alive and letting whatever comes be enough.”

Over the years as an entrepreneur, I’ve come to realize that I control very little of the outcomes or revenue streams of my business directly. I could spend dozens of hours creating one product, only to have it sell a minimal amount. Then, the money I need comes from an entirely different source.

The moment I try to control or manipulate the source of the revenue, the more difficult it is to obtain. But if I let go and trust that what I need will come from “Somewhere,” then invariably it does. Sometimes it comes in a deluge of abundance. Other times, it comes at a more controlled, consistent pace. The only control I seem to have over any of it is my ability to “rejoice in being alive and letting whatever comes be enough.”

But the more I let fear, worry or thoughts of lack creep in, the more I think I have to “do something” and the tighter things become. I often say the hardest work you will ever do in your business is to control your thoughts! For a workaholic that translates into controlling your actions as well because action for action’s sake isn’t the answer.

Rejoicing in what comes with a grateful heart seems to be the secret to peace, joy, love — and abundance. But giving is equally important. It’s both our ability to receive and to give that allows the circulation of abundance in our lives. “Cast your bread upon the waters and after many days it will return to you toasted and buttered.”

I realize this is an odd thing for an entrepreneur with 20 years of business experience to say, but the only thing you can really control is your attitude, your gratitude and your ability to act upon inspiration. If you’ll trust and listen to inspiration and act accordingly, you don’t have to work yourself crazy. You can relax, enjoy life and work strategically.

In the last 6 months we had some extra medical and college expenses come up and I decided I could use another revenue stream to cover them. I came up with a half dozen or more ideas but as I took time to be still and ask where I should spend my energy, the answer was always, “no, not that one.” Finally the revenue came from a series of 2-3 small tweaks I made to some programming. I spent maybe 3-4 hours to generate tens of thousands of dollars in revenue.

In the old days, I would have gone off scattered creating 3-4 products, working hours and hours and still not generating the level of revenue I made with these small inspired tweaks.  Did you ever see the movie Contact with Jody Foster? Her father’s advice to her always comes to mind, “Small moves, Ellie. Small moves.”

Staying in tune with inspiration and acting accordingly is more valuable to you than anything. Sometimes the inspiration will tell you to do a chunk of work, but at least you’ll know it’s strategic work that produces results or opens doors of opportunities.

Before you launch into hours on your next project idea, ask yourself a couple questions…

  • Is this in line with my overarching focus? Just because you can make money at something doesn’t mean you should make money at it. Stay within your focus. If you haven’t discovered your focus, get the first 50 pages of my book  “You’re Here for a Reason: Discover and Live Your Purpose” for free. It has worksheets to help you find your focus.
  • Have I taken time to step back, sleep on, ponder and pray about this idea? Have I asked if it’s a good direction or am I running on fear/panic?

If you’re operating from fear and panic, you know you’re off track. Always operate from a place of stillness and trust. Do whatever it takes to find that place before you act.

Visualizing Your Way Out of Workaholism

One of the most significant breakthroughs in my journey out of workaholism came in early 2009. I was stressed over some things and went to my friend Judy Hansen for help. Judy has a gift for being able to see your energy and what’s happening in your life and guiding you through a meditation (which she calls an enscript).  So that day I asked Judy for an enscript and what came was what I call the “Floating on a Cloud Meditation.”

In the meditation, I had two guardian angels with me and we were all floating around the world on a cloud together. I was relaxing on a chaise while my male guardian angel navigated and protected me, and my female guardian angel brought me lemonade and gave me back rubs. In the meditation, I never interacted with anyone else. No other humans were around to tug on my sleeve or ask me to do anything. I didn’t connect to email or do any work. I just floated and enjoyed God’s creations, completely guided and cared for by my guardian angels.

Days went by, weeks, months, and years until I became a wise, white-haired woman. As a wise old woman I loved being alive, feeling the sun, not a care in the world. Finally I went to sleep and let the world go by without me. I curled up, feeling gratitude to just be alive, to be here and feel and see and watch life and to breathe and know how good it feels to have a beating heart. Joy exuded throughout my entire body until a deep love resided in my heart like a rare jewel or essence.

Finally, I reached inside my heart and pulled out a golden vibrant essence in an exquisitely shaped glass vial. This precious essence of pure love was what I had developed through my life. It represented my soul that I had become and my gift to life.  I placed this soul on a beautiful pedestal where it would be kept for eternity, protected and glowing and where all who were allowed to come to this sacred place could see it. It was holy and pure, the deepest form of love. It was so special that I was humbled by it.

I knelt in gratitude and humility and said, “This is my offering for being here.” A white light started coming toward me and in that light were many beings of light — as many as there are stars in the sky. These presences and intelligences came to see this golden glowing vial of love and were astonished at its beauty. They were overcome with surprise and awe at how beautiful it was. They talked among themselves and said, “Never has anyone created such beauty and such perfection in such mass.” Every color of the rainbow was in it – golden, white, purple, green and blue. It had shapes that were exquisite as well. They said, “How did you do it? How did you ever make anything so beautiful.”

And then I told them, “I lived purely in joy and peace and gratitude, and I controlled nothing for my entire life. I just allowed my love to be. And I allowed others to care for me. I focused on peacefulness and gratitude, and I felt it growing in my life every moment of every day of every year of my life. This is what it became. I never challenged it or argued with it; it was just there.” As I spoke, beautiful and unusual colors kept giving off sparks and flashes of light as a monument of joy to the 100,000 beings who were present. And they said, “She’s discovered the secret — the secret of the perfection of being — just rejoicing in being alive and letting whatever came be enough.”

There was something about this meditation that compelled me to listen to it over and over again. In the 3-4 months that followed I probably listened to it 50 times. Finally, its message became a part of me and began affecting my choices and how I lived my life.

You’ve heard it said by those well-versed in the law of attraction that visualizing with emotion is critical to the process. The thing I love about Judy Hansen’s enscripts is that they are a personalized visual representation of what I need to learn next. I can listen to them over and over again and reprogram my subconscious mind with the visualization and emotion. There were nights when i was so stressed I couldn’t get to sleep, and I’d put this meditation on my earbuds and listen, letting it calm me and put me to sleep. And all the while as I slept it was helping me learn to live in peace, gratitude and love and to enjoy life.

If you’re interested in learning more about Judy’s enscripts she has some information on her web site www.TrustingSpiritNow.com. Know that every enscript is different and yours will be unique to you. Once I’d fully absorbed that enscript and hit another phase in my life, I went back to Judy for another enscript. I get about 2-3 a year and they help me keep progressing along my path. It’s a phenomenal resource to have.

PS: I don’t get a kickback for telling you about Judy’s enscripts. :) They’re just so wonderful I had to share!

Highly Ambitious Women Married to Less Ambitious Men

Recently, I was chatting with a coach who works with high-achieving entrepreneurial women. She commented that most of her clients are either single by choice, divorced or married to men who fall into the “under-achiever” category. These men may have lost their jobs in recent downturns and

a) haven’t been able to find work of the same caliber, so they remain unemployed.

b) they’ve chosen not to go back to work and are relying on their wives to bring home the bacon.

With this dynamic on the rise, I was reminded of a study I conducted several years ago and compiled into a 2-part article. Here’s the first part of that article, which I believe is still very timely today.

Highly Ambitious Women Married to Less Ambitious Men

To quote an old saying, “behind every great man is a good woman.” As women have moved into the workforce and women are now surpassing men for starting new businesses, many women have stepped out of the shadows to stand beside or in some cases, in front of their men into an ambitious, achiever position.

Remember the popularity and hilarity of the movie Mr. Mom in the 80’s? It’s not as unusual today for women to be either the primary breadwinner in the family or to have a more prominent career. But is it really that acceptable for both partners? What happens when you are a highly ambitious woman married to a less ambitious man? Or what if you are a man married to one of these over-achieving women? A marriage between these two can be a blissful balance or a recipe for a devastating divorce.

As our society has shifted the roles of men and women, only a prophet could predict how this would affect marriages and families. The businesswoman of the 90’s is often seen as power-hungry, driven and highly stressed while her less-ambitious husband is often perceived as lazy and unsupportive. But these are just stereotypes. There’s more here than meets the eye.

Being a highly ambitious woman married to a less-ambitious man myself, I found this to be an intriguing subject. In preparation for this article, a survey was conducted of 44 women and 7 men who were either still in or had been in a relationship where the wife was highly ambitious and the husband less ambitious. The chart below gives a breakdown of their marital situations:

Survey Participants

  • Married 51%
  • Unhappily Married 31%
  • Divorced 10%
  • Separating 6%
  • Widowed 2%

To fully understand this relationship type, we’ll look at the typical personalities of each partner and then discover ways that balance, harmony, and happiness can be achieved instead of unhappiness and divorce.

Profile of a Highly Ambitious Woman

The highly ambitious woman is generally exciting, enthusiastic, and full of life. She works hard and is an over-achiever. She’s your typical “Super-Mom,” entrepreneur or corporate executive. She enjoys leadership positions and might even be considered bossy or controlling. She has high energy levels and often has a low tolerance for people who can’t keep up with her pace. She is generally creative and full of ideas. She thrives on responsibility and stress, but tends to take on more than she can handle. She feeds on intelligent, thought-provoking communication. Her greatest desire is to be loved, appreciated, and acknowledged for all she is able to accomplish.

Profile of a Not-So-Ambitious Man

He is relaxed, easy-going. He’s generally happy with the way things are going in his life and career. He knows how to enjoy life and take time to relax. Entertainment and relaxation is a big priority in his life. Generally, he is loyal and devoted to his mate. He can usually be characterized as a family man who is not driven by money, power, ambition or the desire to “get ahead.” He’s typically loving and affectionate — especially when he feels respected and loved for who he is and not for what he accomplishes.

The Marriage

Both of these individuals have their strengths and weaknesses. Combine them, and you can achieve a beautifully balanced marriage or a recipe for divorce.

Warning Signs

If you are in this type of relationship, there are several warning signs of divorce of which you need to be aware:

  • Resentment. If you start to feel resentful of your mate as if you’re doing all the work and they are doing nothing, or you are giving all the love and affection and they are giving none, then you have a problem. Every divorced person who took our survey felt they were more loving than their partners. Of those who were not happy in their marriages, 88% felt they were more loving or neither partner was loving at all. But 77% of the happily married people felt that their partner was more loving or they both were equally loving.
  • Negativity or Ambivalence. If you can’t see anything good about being in a relationship with your over-achieving wife or your less-ambitious husband, then start scrambling now to find the good. 68% of the people in divorced or troubled marriages who took our survey could not find anything good about being in this type of relationship. But, every person who was still happily married could think of something good about it. This is a definite sign of trouble in this marriage relationship.
  • Sexual Imbalance. If one person doesn’t want sex at all or if you each want it at different times, this is a symptom of other issues. Sexual strains are rarely the real problem; they are just a symptom of deeper issues. They may simply have to do with stress or being tired. As one man who took our survey described, “My wife works 6 days a week. She is tired all the time. Our sex life has slowed as a result.” It may also have to do with energy levels, as one woman explains, “It seems that his lack of ambition is not confined to work but it seems to carry over into every aspect of his life. He is not only un-ambitious at work but also at home, around the house, in friend and family relationships, about his health, sex, in a word, everything.”
  • Indifference. Both or one of you has given up on showing affection or taking time for each other’s interests. This is a sign of serious difficulties and one of the last stages before divorce. Start working on your relationship now!

The Beautiful Balance

When a highly ambitious woman is married to a not-so-ambitious man, they can find a harmonious balance. The secret is in emphasizing the strengths of your partner and being willing to give the other person what they crave. A couple is like two pieces of a puzzle: different yet they fit together.

The Power of Play

I know a scientist who has made great discoveries in his field of expertise. But as a youth, he was a bit of a class clown and spent most of his time playing ball or building something with Legos.

One might look at this man’s accomplishments and say, “Wow, what if he’d actually applied himself the first 20 years of his life instead of goofing off playing all the time. No telling what else he could have discovered by now.”

I look at this quite differently. I believe that BECAUSE this man played for 20 years of his life, he had developed the creativity necessary to make the discoveries he has. Take away the years of play and you take away his ability to think outside the box.

But you don’t have to take my word for it, there’s been research done on this very subject.  Dr. Stuart Brown, MD, the author of, “Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul” explained in an interview:

“In my career I have reviewed more than 6000 life histories, looking specifically at a person’s play experiences over his or her life. In studying these histories it has become vividly apparent that play is enormously significant for both children and adults.

I began thinking about the role of play in our lives while conducting a detailed study of homicidal males in Texas. What I discovered was severe play deprivation in the lives of these murderers. When I later studied highly creative and successful individuals, there was a stark contrast. Highly successful people have a rich play life.

It is also established that play affects mental and physical health for both adults and children. A severely play deprived child demonstrates multiple dysfunctional symptoms– the evidence continues to accumulate that the learning of emotional control, social competency, personal resiliency and continuing curiosity plus other life benefits accrue largely through rich developmentally appropriate play experiences.

Likewise, an adult who has “lost” what was a playful youth and doesn’t play will demonstrate social, emotional and cognitive narrowing, be less able to handle stress, and often experience a smoldering depression. From an evolutionary point of view, research suggests that play is a biological necessity.

There is evidence that suggests the forces that initiate play lie in the ancient survival centers of the brain–the brain stem–where other anciently preserved survival capacities also reside. In other words, play is a basic biological necessity that has survived through the evolution of the brain. And necessity = importance.

But one of the strongest arguments for the importance of play is how strongly we identify ourselves through our play behavior. Just look at the eloquent memories of 9-11 victims the New York Times published. The headlines—the summation of a life—were lines like ‘A Spitball-Shooting Executive,’ a ‘Lover of Laughter.’ Play is who we are.”

Here’s my challenge for today — not just for you, but for me too… get out and play!  I think I’ll pick up a new frisbee at the store and play with my kids when they get home. What will you do?

Explore the World and Express Yourself

Marnie & Judy Discuss a fantastic week at the Light the World Retreat

I love speaking at live events where I can see people’s eyes light up and know that they’re getting what I’m saying. The ultimate to me are live events that incorporate nature. In April 2010 a few friends and I put together the Light the World: Birthing Your Destiny Retreat in Zion National Park.

This event brought together talented musicians and instructors in one of God’s most amazing settings. Nature has been such an integral part of my journey out of workaholism. Being immersed in it has been food for my soul. That is why I tend to gravitate toward attending or holding events in nature.

If you get a chance to be a part of such an event, I highly recommend it.

Music has also been a big part of my journey as well. I create soundtracks for my life — playlists on my ipod that go along with almost everything I do. I have music to

  • Pump me up when I’m feeling down
  • Inspire me when I want to connect to God
  • Relax me so I can meditate
  • Keep me awake as I drive, etc.

Lately, I’ve been serving as the music chairman at my church. So I spend most of my Sundays behind a piano. I learned how to read music when I was 5 and took 13 years of piano lessons. I’d gotten a bit rusty over the years because I hadn’t kept up the practice. But with this new position, I’ve been getting back into the swing of things. One thing I’ve noticed is that I have music inside me that wants out, but I don’t know how to play what’s not written in front of me.

So this week, I started a self-paced home study course to learn how to play the piano by ear. It’s teaching me chords and rhythmic patterns. I’m sure it will take a while to get good at it, but the idea is to be able to play anything without music in front of you — to learn to speak the language of music and express what’s inside you.

I believe that is what God has been trying to teach me lately — to explore the world He created for us and express myself and my talents completely. It doesn’t matter if those talents are “practical” or whether they ever make me a dime. They are a part of me and that’s what’s important — being the best me I can be and enjoying my time here on Earth.

Unplug!

Gatlinburg, Smokey Mountains

Unplugging can mean a lot of things. It can mean turning off the TV, the computer, the cell phones, the video games and the ipods. That can be tough to do in this day and age. I’m certainly not advocating abandoning all the technology at our fingertips. I believe technology can be used to bring a lot of good to the world.

But, every once in a while, it really does pay to unplug. Recently I spent a week in the Smokey Mountains with my family followed by another week at the foothills of the Uinta Mountains in Oakley, UT for a spiritual workshop. Over these two weeks I didn’t work, and I spent the bare minimum of time online. My assistant checked my emails. I turned off my cell phone for most of the 2nd week and only took about 5-10 minutes each day to post some photos to Facebook so my friends and family could catch a glimpse of the beauty I was enjoying.

The rest of the time I relaxed in nature and connected with real people in the “real world” offline. When I came back to work, the perspective I gained was incredible. Suddenly I could see the virtual world for what

Knowing Your Light Workshop

it was — virtual! It isn’t real. You can’t touch it, feel it, or experience it fully. Many of us get so caught up in technology that we lose our connection with others. We begin to believe that that world is all that matters. But it isn’t real!

So I have two baby-steps into unplugging:

  • First take at least one day a week and unplug from work. Stay off the computer, forget the email and rest your brain a bit. No working for that one day a week.
  • Second, take at least 20 minutes each day to connect with nature. Go for a walk, dig in the dirt, go for a drive and enjoy the view, etc.

My Journey out of Work-a-holism

Up until 2000, I ate, drank and dreamed business. I didn’t know who I was apart from my work. When I thought about selling my business or not working, I felt a panic seize me. I didn’t know who I was outside of it. What would I do with my time? What would engage my interest? Sure, I had five children at that time, but it didn’t occur to me that I could be happy just spending time with them. I wanted MORE.

And then I met a coach who set me on a different journey — away from the 70-hour-a-week work-a-holism to becoming someone who embraces and enjoys life.  Here’s what she taught me to do:

“Put time for yourself on your ‘to do list.’ Pat yourself on the back when you take time to enjoy your life, when you take time off work to relax, or when you spend time with your family. You’ve just accomplished something important.”

This shift in thinking — where taking time off was an item on a to-do list — was enough to set me on the path of recovery.

The second thing that came out of this coaching relationship was a passion for exploring my spirituality. I started SheLovesGod.com in 2000 as a result and I began exploring and expressing a part of me that didn’t revolve around work.

Why am I just now starting a blog about this?

  • First, I think there’s a lot of over-achiever women like me who could benefit from my story.
  • Second, I’m still on this journey! I’m still learning and recovering!

It’s not that I struggle so much with work-a-holism, as much as I’m rediscovering who I am now that work isn’t consuming my life.

When you spend years figuring out how to build a business, supporting a family, and keeping everyone else happy, it’s easy to lose yourself along the way. You forget who you are and what makes you happy.  If it’s not practical, then you don’t do it. If it doesn’t serve some higher objective, you feel like you’re wasting your time.

In the end, you can come to this place where you’ve delegated and automated so much that your business runs itself and then you think “now what?”  Rather than dive into some new project (which we are so prone to do as work-a-holics), I’m recommending something radical.

I’m recommending exploring the world around you, fully engaging in life, unplugging from the rat race and simply being YOU! In the end your deeds, accomplishments and awards will not be weighed on a scale to see if you’ve piled up enough brownie points. It is you who will be weighed in the balance — it’s your soul, your being, and what you’ve become that matters.

If you get to the end of life with a truckload of itemized checklists and goals crossed off, but you don’t know who you are, what does it matter? If you haven’t found what brings joy and peace to your soul, what’s the point?

So, all of you high-achiever women out there (and men too), come along with me on this journey. Let’s unplug together. I’ll be documenting my journey and I’d love for you to share yours too!