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Lately I have been thinking about some true life stories of women who have tackled the tough task of leaving it all behind and embarking on incredible journeys of self-discovery. I stumbled upon a book I once loved and it got me thinking that I’ve always loved these stories and soaked them up like great fiction. But in these cases, the stories are documented and real, and here are just a few I highly recommend.

on-the-way-to-satori1On the Way to Satori was written by Gerta Ital, a German-born actress who entered a Japanese Zen Buddhist monastery late in life. She recorded her experiences in two books, The Master, the Monks and I: A Western Woman’s Experience of Zen, and the one I read: On the Way to Satori: A Woman’s Experience of Enlightenment. Both books were published in German in the mid-1960s, but were not translated into English until much later. She recounted the physically and emotionally harsh conditions of being the first Western woman admitted to a Zen monastery.

sorcerers-crossingThen there is The Sorcerer’s Crossing: A Woman’s Journey written by Taisha Abelar with a forward by Carlos Castaneda. Abelar, an anthropologist, recalls the mysterious and mystical journey which took her on many leaps of faith into the world of sorcery. In the late 60s, she was sketching in the mountains around Tucson, Arizona when she met a Mexican woman named Clara Grau. With intensity, gravity and fortitude, Grau convinced Abelar to visit her house in Sonora, Mexico– right then, and right there. Facing her own feelings of being directionless and confused about her future, she went. What followed was a powerful entry into a family of sorcerers which produced powerful healers and wisepeople like Castaneda.

eatprayloveAnd more recently, Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert hit a major nerve with women seeking purpose, meaning and real clarity in their lives. Though she didn’t shave her head or become inducted into a secret world of magic, Gilbert did have life-changing moment after moment in a global trek which spanned Italy, India and Bali.

The bottom line with all these fine reads is that the real experiences of these brave women have produced books that are as mesmerizing, surprising, enchanting and deeply inspiring as any novel you could crawl into. Check them out.

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Let Yourself Feel Supported

Let Yourself Feel Supported

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For all the years I have spent with my spiritual practices, it seems there are still times when the whole system crashes and you fear you’ve lost everything on your metaphysical hard drive. Perhaps it’s one major thing that happens suddenly that can derail you, or a perfect storm of many areas of your life that seem to come to a head all at once.

For me, I’ve sort of experienced both in the last few weeks. I go through my journals, ask my guides, recall some great advice, meditate, connect with friends, read a book— all in an effort to understand not just why something happened, but how miserably I am dealing with it.

What I do know is that nothing is black and white. We are a society driven by consumption and turning to external sources to resolve or remove bad feelings. It’s all very extreme– we’re either inundated with negative outlooks, people, images and experiences or we’re struggling to always be “in the light”–in that zone of hyper positivity and gratitude in order to ward off bad vibes.

But we need that negativity and adversity in our lives (what Abraham calls “contrast”) in order to really understand what it is we want in our lives. We need to experience the full gamut of human emotions in order to grow– I believe that’s why we’re all here.

In that spirit, every person who comes into our isolated worlds can be our mirrors, our greatest teachers. I know this to be true, but in the midst of conflict it’s very difficlut to really embrace that. But I’m pleased that the time between conflict (inner and external) is collapsing quickly. This encourages me and makes me believe that the work I’ve done is having a positive effect on my life.

So what happens when things (relationships, finances, career, health) literally just fall apart? Some people theorize that when this happens, a soul is begging to grow and get to that next level of acceptance and clarity with oneself. There is an opportunity to go in the direction of fear and self-loathing, or go in the direction of faith and love. I believe we ask for these experiences on some level in order to reach the mountain top, so to speak.

But I think the key to moving through troubled times with grace, strength and compassion is to have support. This is a major lesson for most people… to learn to reach out and be with like-minded and hugely supportive people. This reinforces the universal code that exists in all people: we are one. And when adversity bears its teeth at us, it is the tribe of friends, family, support networks and spiritual guides that can shield and protect you from your own spiraling negativity.

So if you’re in a negative frame of mind, or something is appearing that causes you great pain and stress, it’s OK. It’s OK to feel that way and know that you’ve attracted these experiences into your life to ultimately help you. Don’t get me wrong– there is a huge difference between “causing” something to happen and simply “attracting” something. There is no blame or judgement when universal laws are at work. No one “deserves” to be in pain. Because it is everyone’s birthright to be joyful and free and totally in tune with the beauty that surrounds us.

So, yes, I definitely ask myself “why did I bring this into my life?” and “what the hell is going on?” But now, the work lies not in THAT anything happened but HOW I choose to deal with it. So how do I feel today? Not that great… but better since I began writing this post and reminding myself of the power of self awareness and self care. It’s Monday, and I have a million things to do– but nothing more important than being kind and gentle with myself and easing into the day.

I first discovered Ainslie MacLeod when he was interviewed on Oprah’s Soul Series last fall regarding his 2007 book, The Instruction. The interview series itself was relatively new, and I felt encouraged and excited that Oprah would extend her already expansive content repertoire of self-help, spirtuality and personal development into the realm of psychic awareness.

Certainly, many of us believe in intuitive abilities and connecting with guides (angels, higher self, universal intelligence, etc.). But to have Ainslie MacLeod sit front and center talking about how the text for The Instruction came into being as a result of direct communication from an army of guides– well, it felt like a turning point in how mass consciousness was softening to the idea that we all have access to small, still voices that are designed to guide us daily– if we choose– to our life’s purpose. Ask most people, and they’ll say there is something to it all– that personal experience directs us to find out more… carefully.

So it was no surprise that MacLeod came clean to his readers from the get go. He was a reluctant psychic. So deep was his reluctance to accept the mantle of “psychic” that he actually ignored the tell-tale signs of his advanced gifts for many years.

But through intensive work and his eventual and total transition from commercial illustrator to psychic, his own life purpose came into crytsal clear focus: help others understand themselves. And he does this through his powerful and evolving work with his guides. Oh, and we all have them– and he helps the rest of us find them.

I recently asked Ainslie about how he helps people realize their life’s purpose.

CL: Initially you were sort of a self-described reluctant psychic who felt compelled by personal experiences to explore new spiritual territories. How did you make that transition, and how has it changed your life?

AM: I was definitely reluctant when I first started doing psychic readings. I was conscious that there were a lot of charlatans around and I didn’t want anyone thinking I was one of them. I felt like I was telling the world I was a freak.

the-instruction4What initially helped was going through the process I take my clients through now. It wasn’t called the Instruction back then and my spirit guides were not the same as the ones I currently use, but they steered me through the same steps to self-acceptance. They helped me to see that this really was going to be my life, and convinced me that since I’d eventually embrace my calling, I might as well start right away.

Being a psychic has certainly changed my life. I feel like a round peg in a round hole. That old reluctance has gone. I keep learning new things about the soul and how the spiritual world operates, and I get to meet great people through my sessions. I often say that once you step through the spiritual door, there’s no going back. That was very much how it felt to me when I accepted my own destiny.

CL: The Instruction describes ten doorways that readers pass through to understand their life’s purpose. Is it always important for people to identify their soul age and their soul type in order to get a firm grasp on what his/her life purpose is?

AM: I believe that if you’re going to understand your life, you need to start with the basics. Your soul age describes the source of your beliefs, and your soul types are how you can understand the core of your personality. Everything else follows from that. Knowing these two elements of who you are helps to do everything from finding the right relationship or job, to creating genuine self-acceptance.

CL: Some people might find that their soul purpose is in stark contrast to what they are currently doing as an occupation. What are some recommendations on how to make a successful transition to living your soul’s purpose?

AM: First of all, let me say that your life’s purpose may not be all about your day job. There are often many activities that can be considered your purpose. Raising kids can be as significant as anything you do during those eight hours in the middle of the day.

When it comes to careers, however, I’ve met many people who ended up in unfulfilling jobs because of other peoples’ expectations. It’s essential to consider your own desires, not those of your parents or teachers, for example. By taking the time to meditate, call in your spirit guides, and ask them for clarity about your life plan, you’ll be doing more than most people ever do. Sometimes spiritual acts, volunteer work for example, can be a great way of creating a stronger sense of purpose in your life, and can help the transition.

CL: In writing The Instruction you received information from your guides. Can anyone access information from their own guides? If so, how?

AM: Spirit guides are like opinions and certain body parts – we’ve all got them. The problem is most of us don’t actually use them. Asking a simple question is a good way to start working with your guides. Find a quiet spot, ask your spirit guides to be with you, meditate for a good ten minutes, then ask them a yes/no question. Pay attention to your gut feeling. Even if you don’t get words or pictures, you’ll get that simple intuitive feeling that something is right or not. It may be subtle, but practice will help you recognize the signs.

CL: Why do you think so many people have such a difficult time in understanding and living their life’s purpose?

AM: There are many reasons, but one common problem is that our lives are so noisy it’s hard to hear the small, still voice of our own soul. I’ve heard people say to me that they can’t hear their guides or their soul’s direction. It’s sometimes simply a matter of switching off the TV and getting some real tranquility.

Your soul is continually nudging and urging you to follow your life plan. To live the life your soul intended it’s essential to slow down, and pay attention. And if there’s one thing I hear from my guides over and over again it’s this: “Meditate, meditate, meditate!”

CL: Are you working on another book? If so, can you tell us about it?

AM: I’ve just begun working on my next book. In it, I describe my spirit guides’ view of why the world is the way it is, and how you can develop your spirituality to help you be part of the coming shift in consciousness that’s going to change our world. The publication date is sometime early next year. As with The Instruction, the publisher is Sounds True who have been terrific to work with.

CL: Are there any books that you particularly love that would like to recommend to our readers?

AM: I read all the time, so it’s really hard to choose. I love Dr. Ian Stevenson’s fascinating book, Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation. He was a scientific researcher who traveled around India examining the stories of children who offered amazing evidence of their past lives.

In the introduction to The InstructionI tell how, many years ago, a psychic in Atlanta gave me a booklist that really helped to open me to the spiritual world. The list included The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, which jump-started my flagging creativity; Many Lives, Many Masters by Brian Weiss, which is an intriguing insight into past lives, as well as Life After Life by Raymond Moody and Anatomy of the Spirit by Carolyn Myss.

Janet Conner, Author of Writing Down Your Soul (Jan. 09, Conari Press)

Janet Conner, Author of Writing Down Your Soul (Jan. 09, Conari Press)

A funny thing happened on the way to this particular installment of Well-being Q&A. I was doing a simple writing exercise where I was describing a very beautiful memory in extreme detail. As I was writing, I heard a loud inner voice which startled me. The voice said “divine writing.” I thought, “huh– what is divine writing?” My mind started really going in a lot of different directions and when I internally asked “What is divine writing?” another voice responded. It said “writing down the soul.”

The next day I kept thinking of this phrase “writing down the soul” and so I finally “googled” it and that’s when I stumbled upon Writing Down Your Soul by Janet Conner (Jan. 2009, Conari Press). I didn’t get the “your” part, but close enough. I quickly realized that the message I was receiving in my clear and positive writing state was simply giving me a cosmic book recommendation!

I was delighted to learn that the processes in Writing Down Your Soul were exactly the psychic prescription I needed to move forward in some creative endeavors that I had been considering for months.

writingdownyoursoulpc150The book details a process of deep soul writing that helps your brain move into a theta brain wave state which is a perfect environment for receiving messages and guidance from what she calls “The Voice.” Of course one can identify the source of this guidance as anything from God to Universal Intelligence to a thousand different names in a multitude of different spiritual traditions.

I recently asked Janet about the inspiration for the book and how it can help people (even writers) receive answers to the stream of questions that flow through our lives.

CL: What was the initial inspiration for Writing Down Your Soul?

JC: In the nineties, my professional life kept getting better and better but my marriage kept getting worse and worse. Finally, after 21 years together, I told my husband I wanted a divorce on Nov 1, 1996. All the pain welled up inside of him exploded. And suddenly I was wearing an emergency police call necklace. One morning as I was sitting in my living room sobbing, my puppy dragged my untouched copy of The Artist’s Way to me. What can I say, the universe will use any means necessary to get your attention! I started writing that very moment. I wrote “Dear God,” at the top of a page and poured my heart out. I felt better so I did it again the next day and every day after until my heart was healed, I’d forgiven my ex-husband, and I’d rebuilt my life into something far richer and sweeter than the one I lost.

CL: You talk about the Voice. How do you experience the Voice and how is that different from the creative mind?

JC: The Voice is a paradox, a mystery. It is indefinable, unknowable, and yet your perfect guide and truest friend. To help readers answer that question for themselves, I wrote a chapter called “Who or what is listening?” I walk readers through a fun review of a few hundred names humanity has attached to the divine over the centuries. Then, I leap into what science has to say about that unlimited field of knowing. The chapter ends with Rumi’s sweet poem about asking Spirit for a personal and private name and a writing prompt to help you do just that. Everyone in a Writing Down Your Soul workshop gets a name, and invariably it’s quite a surprise.

From then on, you address the Voice by that special name whenever you write. Quickly, you will discover that you are having an intimate conversation. People experience the Voice many different ways. The handwriting may change, the language may change, the tone of the words almost always changes into something deeply loving, gentle, and wise. Some people feel a shift in their hand or body when the Voice takes over. When I am deeply deeply connected, my pen moves quickly across the page without me pushing it. Many people have had the same experience. It’s as if the pen is doing the writing.

Can I separate my experience of the Voice from “creative mind”? During my scientific research into what happens when you write this way, I learned that deep soul writers are in the theta brain wave state. Well, that’s also where you have to be to access new information, real creativity, breakthrough solutions. I view the Voice as my source for ALL wisdom, all creativity, all grace. Writing down your soul is simply an easy way for everyone to access that limitless source.

CL: Is writing down your soul similar to channel writing or automatic writing? If so, how?

JC: I don’t think so. I’ve seen demonstrations of automatic writing and it’s tough to decipher. You have to guess what’s there or what it means. Writing down your soul is a daily conversation in plain English (or whatever language you choose to write in). You ask; you receive. And if you don’t understand, you ask for clarification. Once you become comfortable with deep soul writing, you have no doubt that you are connected and that you are receiving clear guidance and direction. My guess is that automatic writing is an attempt to break into that theta brain wave state but it isn’t as effective or clear as writing down your soul because it isn’t a fully developed system and habit.

CL: Are the practices in Writing Down Your Soul designed for people interested in developing better ways to receive answers to life’s important questions, toward writers interested in honing their craft, or both?

JC: My intent is to share this incredibly simple, reliable wisdom habit to anyyone who wants guidance and direction. And right now that seems to be everyone! People who pick up the book or come to a workshop do not have to have journaled before or have any kind of writing experience. This practice is not actually about writing, and it certainly isn’t about writing correctly or well. In fact, trying to write “well” just gets in the way.

Having said that, professional writers do love this practice because it gets you so quickly out of conscious mind and into the theta brain wave state where all art and artists dwell. When I got the contract for Writing Down Your Soul, I started every morning writing by hand and received all the direction I needed for the book.

I invite anyone interested in knowing more about writing in the theta brain wave state (whether professionally or personally) to subscribe to the newsletter at www.writingdownyoursoul.com because you’ll receive a free e-book on writing in theta.

CL: You’re very specific about trying this process for thirty days in a very ritualized way. Why is it important to be ritualistic about Writing Down Your Soul? Can journaling encourage connection to the Voice as well?

JC: Thirty days is important because the science clearly shows it takes thirty days to build new neural pathways and it’s those new pathways—new thoughts, beliefs, emotions, words, and actions—that produce the new and improved life you want. So if you want to see change in your life, you need to build new neural pathways.

I recommend creating a personal writing ritual that includes building a special writing space and saying a blessing that sets your intention to connect with the Voice because the more you surround yourself with a system that supports and sustains your new habit, the more likely you are to experience the full benefits of the practice. People who come to this or any practice sporadically don’t receive the full benefits. Consider changing your eating habits, for example. If you only eat healthy food once in a while, your body can’t really improve. The same applies to deep soul writing. If you only pick up a pen occasionally, you’re missing the opportunity to build a relationship with the Voice that you can count on for wisdom and guidance.

Writing down your soul is not journaling. It’s much much deeper than that. There are many differences between writing down your soul and journaling. At the back of the book, there’s a chart of 18 significant differences. I recorded a video on http://www.writingdownyoursoul.com that explains what writing down your soul is and how it differs from journaling.

CL: What sorts of life changes or successes have been reported by those who have gone through the Writing Down Your Soul process?

JC: There are so many beautiful stories. Sharing them is one of the great joys in Writing Down Your Soul classes and teleclasses. You can read a few at “Testimonials” on the website.

Deep soul writers have received miracles, profound insights into why things happened as they did, final and complete healing of past traumas and relationships, new career directions, and guidance to make changes in their lives.

Sometimes the stories are small and sweet like the woman who asked for a sign that she could trust the Voice. Her yellow tea kettle had burned and she wrote, “Show me a yellow tea kettle.” She went to Target and on the shelf were ten white tea kettles, five red tea kettles, and one bright yellow tea kettle.” Standing in the aisle, she started to cry. A small sign, perhaps, but for her it was huge. It was the breakthrough she needed to really plunge into a relationship with the Voice.

Another woman needed to find a home to rent. She talked it over with the Voice and came up with the specifications: four bedrooms, large fenced yard for the dog, neighborhood, price, etc. Later that afternoon she saw an unusual picture of a tiger with half a white face and half a black face on the front of a real estate magazine. She took it home thinking she’d like to paint that tiger. That evening, her husband turned down a street they’d never been on and there at the end of the block was a lovely house with a “for rent” sign in front. They walked around, discovered that the back door was open, walked in, and there in a back bedroom was the painting of the black and white tiger. When she told that story in class, everyone gasped.

A young woman in graduate school started writing and realized within days that she was in the wrong program for the wrong reason. A fifty-five year old teacher worked out a totally new career on the page. When I saw her a few months later, she said for the first time in her life, she’s truly happy knowing she’s doing the work she’s here to do.

One of the most stunning stories is of a minister who received guidance on the page that it was time to retire and move back home. He argued with the Voice on moving. After all the real estate market is a disaster. But the Voice was clear and his home sold in two weeks at full asking price. Everyone in class considered the sale of that home nothing short of a miracle. But here’s the real miracle. Within days of getting back home, he was diagnosed with stage 5 cancer. He said, “Now I know what the Voice meant by ‘home.’”

Everyone receives guidance and direction when they write down their soul. The guidance is rarely as big as change your career or move to Michigan. Often, it’s how to shift your thinking—and THAT guidance can be the richest of all.

CL: Do you have a few tips for writers experiencing difficulty in starting or completing a project (novel, memoir, screenplay, etc.)?

JC: I’d start with learning how to write down your soul so you can slip into theta on a regular basis. Writing in the theta brain wave state is effortless. And amazing. When I read what I wrote in theta, I always wonder, “Who wrote this; it’s so good!”

I know writing in theta works because I had to complete my book in less than 3 months—which I have since been told is technically impossible. But I used the theta brain wave state day and night and finished it easily. And my editor said I’d done something that had never been done before: “a self-help book that’s a page-turner!” (Trust me, I don’t take credit for that!)

CL: What are five of your all-time favorite books that you enjoy recommending to people?

JC: Well, if I could have only one book, it would be The Gift: Poems by Hafiz, the Great Sufi Master by Daniel Ladinsky. I keep it next to my bed. Number two would be Love Poems from God, also by Daniel Ladinsky. I’m a huge fan of mystical poetry. If you’ve seen the book, you know I scattered snippets of mystical poetry throughout Writing Down Your Soul. I also love David Whyte’s poetry in The House of Belonging. If, like me, you’d like to know what Jesus really said, I highly recommend Prayers of the Cosmos: Meditations on the Aramaic Words of Jesus by Neil Douglas-Klotz and Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time by Marcus Borg. Those two books will alter your understanding of that great teacher forever.

But please don’t think I only read spiritual stuff. Paul Auster is at the top of my literature list. The New York Trilogy, especially The City of Glass is beyond superb. Writing like that isn’t human.

And I read The Return of the Osprey by David Gessner once a year when the ospreys return to the nests near me. I’m a little obsessed with ospreys. When you read Writing Down Your Soul you’ll see why.

I particularly love what he says: “As you sit here is it possible for you to simply watch what’s happening around you without adding any intrepretion to it… to just be present with what is?”

Where were you when you first learned about the Law of Attraction? For many of us, The Secret brought perspective, familiarity and organization to a universal principle that was somewhat elusive and undefined. It was an exciting starting point which introduced a new generation of seekers to the power of deliberate, positive thinking and the undeniable abilities we have to manifest whatever is in our highest good. In The Secret, we were delivered a variety of teachers offering personal experiences and perspectives to help people begin to put into practice this powerful law in practical and unexpected ways.

Dr. Joe Vitale was featured in The Secret and is a world-renowned motivational speaker, author, teacher and entrepreneur. He is the author of the international #1 best-seller, The Attractor Factor, the #1 best-seller Life’s Missing Instruction Manual, the #1 best-selling e-book Hypnotic Writing, and the #1 best-selling Nightingale-Conant audio program, The Power of Outrageous Marketing, among numerous other works.

I had the opportunity to ask Dr. Vitale a few questions regarding his current work and how his understanding of the Law of Attraction has evolved.

CL: In your latest book, Zero Limits: The Secret Hawaiian System for Wealth, Health, Peace, and More, you talk about the how people settle into self-limiting beliefs that keep them from leading their best life. What are some of the pillars to the Hawaiian System that help people overcome this tendency, and how did you discover it?

JV: The system erases any and all limiting beliefs, without you needing to know what they are. I discovered it from Dr. Hew Lew, who teaches workshops on the subject. The whole idea is to take total responsibility for everything in your life and ask forgiveness for it from the Divine. Dr. Hew Len was able to help heal an entire ward of mentally ill ciminals using this mehtod, as I reported in our book Zero Limits.

CL: You speak a lot about intention and how important it is to establish a solid intention before one can manifest desired results in any area of one’s life. Is there an optimal way to set an intention?

JV: The best way is with what I call an Inspired Intention. There are intentions from your ego and intentions from the Divine. The stronger ones come from the latter. Align yourself with that and nothing is impossible. I talk about this in my book The Attractor Factor (second edition).

CL: Since participating in The Secret and the publication of several of your books including the second edition of The Attactor Factor, has your personal understanding of The Law of Attraction changed or evolved? If so, how?

JV: Yes. I see that the Law of Attraction is a good start but not the ending. There’s also the Law of Right Action. There’s also the reality that you aren’t in charge of the entire universe; the Divine is. I explain this in my new audio program, The Awakening Course. At some point you have to surrender to a higher power.

CL: Is it possible for someone to manifest great financial abundance while working passionately in a traditionally low-paying job? In other words, how can someone committed to a career with modest income enjoy the benefits of financial wealth and freedom?

JV: Easy. I have a new audio program explaining all this called The Secret to Attracting Money. Money can come to anyone through products they create. I wrote my first books and products while working a full-time job.

CL: In The Key: The Missing Secret for Attracting Anything You Want, you talk about counter intentions. What are those, and can you share a couple of ways to overcome them?

JV: A counter-intention is the direct belief oppposite of what you say you want. An example is you want to lose weight. That’s the intention. But the counter-intention could be, “If I lose weight, I won’t feel safe.” Counter-intentions will stop your intentions from happening. I offer ten ways to get clear in my book The Key and seven ways in my audio program The Missing Secret. The easiest way to get clear is to love yourself and your limiting beliefs.

CL: What are some simple steps that individuals can take within one week that will begin to help them on the path to personal fulfillment, prosperity and happiness?

JV: The simplest thing is to feel grateful for what you have right now. Too many people want to feel grateful after they attract something good. It doesn’t work that way. In the movie The Compass I tell the story of shifting my life by feeling grateful for a pencil. It all begins right now, with what you already have.

CL: What are just five of your all-time favorite books that you would whole-heartedly recommend and why?

JV: The Book of est changed my life by putting me into the est seminar; Why Is This Happening to Me Again?explained how we keep creating the same problems; The Magic of Believing taught me the power of belief; 177 Mental Toughness Secrets of the World Class (is) a masterpiece; The Dark Side of the Light Chasers (is) eye-opening about how we have shadows to our public selves.

At one point or another many of us come to a crossroads in our professional and personal lives. We sit back, sigh deeply and ask ourselves “is this all there is?” For Renee Trudeau, the deep inner calling of her life became louder and louder until one day she decided to leave a successful corporate career and change the direction of her life forever. What happened next not only took her own family in an entirely new direction, but her powerful message of motherhood and self-care has changed the lives of thousands of women worldwide. Now, Renee is exploring the world of everyday spirituality. And somewhere in the process of being a student, she has become the teacher.

 

CL: You left behind a lucrative and very stable career in order to pursue your passions. Can you tell me about that decision, what you decided to do and how leaving the corporate environment changed your life?

RT: Gregg Levoy, author of Callings: Finding and Following An Authentic Life says “Generally people won’t pursue their calling until the fear of doing so is finally exceeded by the pain of not doing so. But, it’s amazing how high our threshold is for this type of pain.” I knew after a stable, 14-year career in the marketing communications field that there was another way I was meant to use my gifts and talents.

I had coached professionals (for free) for years on how to develop and leverage their personal brand and I had a strong desire to help others express their potential. So, after much soul searching—more on this journey in my book– I launched Career Strategists in 2000, based on my strong belief that we are truly meant to integrate “who we are” with “what we do” in the world. Yes, like all that make the leap to self-employment, I had a lot of fear come up. But I knew that the life I desired (one where I was the master of, not the slave to my life) was more important than the fear. Ultimately, I had no choice but to take this leap.

I believe we all receive these taps on the shoulder throughout our life. The question is, next time you receive a tap, will you shrug the feeling off, or say yes (to your life)?

CL: How did the concept of personal renewal groups and your book, The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal, initially come about and what has been the response?

themothersguide_cover_000RT: After having my son at age 37, I was shocked to realize how profound the transition to parenthood is. I believe having a child, literally changes you on a cellular level. Who you are will never be the same. And, at the same time, it really rocks you to your core and challenges you to get clear on why you’re here, what is your path and what does the life you truly desire—look like? (My video talks more about this.)

After searching for resources and books that support mothers in nurturing their essence while taking care of their kids, I found nothing and was ultimately guided to start a Personal Renewal Group (self renewal circle for women) in 2003. Five years and countless groups later, after repeated requests from my Personal Renewal Group members, The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal was born. Now thousands of women around the US/Canada and beyond are leading these groups, which are based on the Guide, and supporting women in nurturing their emotional well-being. The response has been phenomenal (many therapists, coaches, doulas and women’s empowerment advocates are being called to lead groups.) Everyone seems to immediately get how important and needed a life coaching program like this, is. The book will be published in Korea later this year. It seems that the messages that came through me are resonating on a universal level.

CL: When people come to a crossroads in life, they are often told to pursue their passions and the money will follow. Do you believe that’s true?

RT: Yes! After working now for more than 20 years in this arena (I started helping family/friends with career strategy when I was eighteen) and having supported thousands in both big and small career and life transitions, I absolutely believe it is our job, our responsibility, to give birth to the best that is within us. And when we do this from a place of truth and authenticity, we will prosper.

I also work with clients a lot on marrying their passion with their brilliance (what you innately “do best”). This is where the magic happens! When we leverage our innate God-given talents, we’re in flow. We’re doing what we were put on the earth to do. And, when this happens, we can’t help but prosper financially. Interestingly, for most of my clients, the hard work isn’t around manifesting, it’s around “receiving” (believing that you’re worthy to be paid for these gifts).

CL: We all know how important it is to take good physical care of oneself in order to be effective in life. What else do you advise people to do to take care of themselves? What is your definition of self-care?

RT: Self-care is the practice of self-nourishment and self-nurturing. It’s essential to feeling whole and to being human. Cancer survivor/activist Audrey Lorde says “Self care is not about self-indulgence, it’s about self-preservation.” Taking time to fill our cups first before helping others is essential to our well-being and to optimal living.

Start by cultivating an awareness of how you talk to, treat, think about and care for yourself—physically, emotionally and spiritually. I have found the practice of self-care is a portal for many of us to our deeper selves. Loving ourselves and treating ourselves as if you would treat a small child, requires a deep honoring of spirit, of our essence (you can learn more about the transformative power of self-care in The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal). Begin with baby steps, be gentle with yourself and know that developing a self-care practice takes time and being around others who believe this is essential, too.

CL: What are you reading right now? What are some books that you can recommend for people interested in personal/spiritual growth?

RT: Life coaches Jennifer Louden and Cheryl Richardson are two of the original self-care advocates/pioneers and all of their books are wonderful and highly recommended, particularly if you’re just getting started on your self-care journey. In terms of physical self-care, I am reading Quantum Wellness by Kathy Freston and The Wisdom of Menopause by Dr. Christiane Northrup—both are very holistic and integrative in their approach to physical/emotional/spiritual well-being. I am also reading (I’m a multiple books at one time reader) Practicing The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, Soul Signs by Diane Eichenbaum, Conversations with God (again) by Neal Donald Walsch, This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women and Open Heart, Open Mind by Father Thomas Keating (who will be in Austin Feb. 21-22).

CL: I understand you are working on a new project. Can you tell us about that?

RT: Since last summer, I have been researching and exploring the theme of “everyday spirituality”—the idea that the sacred is present and accessible everyday, through simple daily rituals and activities like walking in nature, playing with our kids and artistic expression, etc.

I think most Americans are overwhelmed, overworked and overscheduled. They are craving meaning in their lives, but when they hear the term “spiritual practice,” they think forget it, who has time to go on a ten day silent retreat or go sit on a mountaintop! I’ve got kids to get to soccer and bosses to appease! I believe strongly that there are many avenues for nourishment on the“spiritual practice” continuum and that each of us just needs to get quiet and hear what spiritual renewal looks like to us.

I was raised in a very interesting family (my latest blog posting on Spirituality talks about this)—I have a brother named Shiva and a sister named after St. Theresa. Questions around spiritual renewal and fulfillment have been sitting with me for a long, long time. I believe this is the direction my work will be taking me over the next 5-7 years.

Upcoming Events:

Renee Trudeau is holding a Career Mojo workshop on 2/26/09 as well as a women’s self renewal retreat on 3/24/09. Current Living readers can enjoy a special early bird rate for the women’s retreat through April 10th!! But register early because these workshops fill up fast. Please go to www.reneetrudeau.com for more info.

benjamin-robenalt2I have to admit that I stole that headline from my good friend, Sonya Feher who writes an amazing blog called mamaTRUE: Parenting as Practice. I had the great privilege of being pregnant at the same time as Sonya and our first and only sons are one month apart. She has dedicated herself to exploring the power of motherhood as a spiritual practice which can help us reclaim what was wiped away and lost in our own childhoods.

For me, being the mother to an innocent, pure and precious being has given me a profound mission in life, and produced a deep awakening in my soul. Where my creative ambitions were once dilluted and dulled by the mind chatter of my relentless ego, I can now see a clear path for myself and how my husband and I are choosing to raise our son. We want to preserve and protect his true nature, his inherent and deep knowing that all is well, that joy is a birthright and that there exists an army of guides available to him for support and love whenever he needs it. He will never be alone, because we are all connected– and he is connected to all things.

I am lucky that his father is a deeply peaceful, playful and compassionate man who values creativity, exploration, fun and simple pleasures. What we want for Ben is not something that society, the media or the world at large necessarily models or overtly teaches. Certainly there are values that institutions feel obligated to instill: teamwork, sacrifice, loyalty, respect, honor, responsibility, dedication, honesty, etc. I believe these values are overall quite good– but they can be tricky. Instead of mottos and mission statements and oaths, I want Ben to use his intuition, instincts and faith (and we modeled for him) to help guide him in the direction of compassion and truth. I want his to be a very joyful life experience based on a commitment to being the most authentic person he can be. I want him to be true to himself, and to let love flow freely in and out of his heart.

I hope that one day he knows that he saved my soul. He inspired me to look deeply within to try to be the best possible role model in this physical existence. As a parent, my job is not to control my child. My job is guide him, and allow him to remind me of how beautiful a sense of wonder and joy can be every single day. My job is to lovingly point him in the direction of his true purpose– whatever that is.

Once, all I wanted for Ben was to be happy, healthy, go to a prestigous college or university and get married (to someone I really, really like!) Yes, that’s normal. But two years ago when I first gazed into his big, blue, crystal clear eyes a bigger, newer dream was born. I want my son is to know that he is a child of a vast, wondrous and beautiful universe. I want him to know everyday that he is literally a miracle. I want him to feel, deeply feel, that anything in life is possible and that the music of the world was made for him, and for all people. My hope is that he knows how perfectly amazing it is to just be exactly who he is… right now. I want him to listen to his own higher self, his own personal guidance and not direct his life based on other people’s opinions or fear. I want Ben to love himself and feel the love that we all have for him.

And you know what? I want that for all children. We are the guardians of their pristine and loving spirits, and each and every adult needs to take that responsibility extremely seriously. A child’s natural state is to be loving, curious, creative, receptive and joyful. This is what I strive for now. Let the natural tempo of a child’s imagination and energy help slow us down, remember what’s important and encourage us to contact the deep divine voices that are guiding us back to our true selves each and every day. Live with the open, forgiving, and loving heart of a child, and life can be very, very good.

Sandra Yancey, Founder & CEO, eWomenNetwork

Sandra Yancey, Founder & CEO, eWomenNetwork

I was invited by Patti DeNucci to a great women’s networking event today produced by eWomenNetwork. The founder and CEO, Sandra Yancey gave an inspiring and powerfully honest speech on weathering the current economy by focusing on using this time to re-tool, re-examine, refine and redefine what we are doing with our lives. There is so much opportunity out there, and it was nice to be among positive, passionate women who are choosing not to let themselves be frightened or paralyzed by the news of apparent and imminent economic disaster.

We also had the opportunity to see the trailer for her new movie, GLOW, which includes a series of interviews with powerful and successful women including Cathie Black, President, Hearst Magazines and Dr. Helene Gayle, President and CEO, CARE (among many others). They all understand that unique and elusive formula for personal prosperity and fulfillment.

I was fortunate enough to spend time with Sandra in her limo on the way to the airport. Down to earth, insightful and rich with experience, her life has been dedicated to empowering women to be smart, be authentic and to be passionate. (Check back here soon when I post an interview with Sandra)

In the meantime, I urge you to watch the trailer. Check out information about the 9th Annual eWomenNetwork International Conference and Business Expo.

Here’s the trailer:

I’m relatively new to the world of oracle cards and what they are designed to bring to a personal development/meditation/self-awareness practice. The only cards I really ever had any experience with were tarot or regular playing cards when I would get a psyhic reading once a year.

2375_c1But after I read “Ask Your Guides” by Sonia Choquette I discovered the accompanying oracle cards and I was intrigued. The card meanings were gentle, clear and above all extremely relevant. I was incredibly impressed with the overwhelmingly pure insight that Choquette provided in the guidebook that came with the deck and thought “how can something that looks like a Valentine’s Day gift include such simple and sustaining advice?” This is amazing! Whether I am pulling one card or doing a simple spread, I always find crystal clear guidance from my spirit guides, particularly if my own mind chatter or physical exhaustion is preventing me from hearing these messages through meditation.

I then discovered Doreen Virtue’s decks which at first seemed a little too “out there” for me. But I was guided to get both the “Messages from Your Angels” and the “Ascended Masters” decks from my extremely gifted neighbor and from a medium, respectively. 3047_c1What I’ve experienced is that all of the decks synchronize so perfectly when I ask a specific question. I am able to go from deck to deck seamlessly and find information, guidance and insight which is inspired by great spiritual masters who have passed or highly beings or streams of thought– the angels– who can provide positive perspective which I sometimes have difficulty grasping through my personal ego lens at given moment. If anything, the cards have the ability to efficiently direct me back to my true still small voice inside that resides separate and apart from the ego that wishes to direct me through hesitation, fear and worry. The “Ascended Masters deck “includes gorgeous paintings of 44 male and female cross-cultural deities, such as Ganesha, Merlin, Saint-Germain, Apollo, Pallas Athena, White Buffalo Calf Woman, Jesus, Moses, Yogananda, Green Man, and Kuthumi. The enclosed guidebook gives expanded explanations of each card’s meaning, and a brief history of each ascended master. As with each of Doreen’s oracle-card decks, the messages for each card are positive, accurate, and life-affirming.”

104_c11Cards are tools only– they have no inherent power other than being the microphone for Source Energy to communicate simple human truths in order to keep you in the current of universal truths that can positively impact our experience on the physical plane. In my experience, there is no separation from “out there” or “in here.” It’s a beautiful thing to be plugged into universal intelligence and positive personal development tools like these are uplifting and energizing to the seeker.

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