Friday, May 25, 2007

Following a Calling

I remember the final two years working as a communications director for a multi-faceted organization before I left to start Career Strategists, as being one of the most frustrating and often difficult, periods of my life.

I knew I was ready for something totally different, but I just didn’t know what it was. I was in the valley and wanted out—NOW! I wanted to know what awaited me and I was tired of waiting for it. One of the many inspirations that helped me make it through that period and get in touch with my own inner wisdom, was “Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life,” by Gregg Levoy. He shares that when you follow a calling, you can usually be assured you’ll be surfing waves of fear and uncertainty on a continual basis, but--you will never feel more alive (scared as hell, but living large!).

In many ways, I feel I’m back there again.

In 2003, halfway through leading my first Personal Renewal Group, I remember very vividly, sitting at a coffee house with my laptop in front me, thinking “there is no way I have the time—or even desire—to write a book (PRG members had been sharing our group exercises with their friends around the U.S. and kept asking for a ‘workbook’).”

Immediately after this thought, I placed my fingers on the keys and said, “Ok, if I were to consider writing this, what would the titles of the twelve chapters be (we follow a month-by-month format)?” In five minutes the themed chapter titles (that you currently see in the Guide) were staring back at me and I felt the hair stand up on the back of my neck. I remember thinking, “something is going on here and I have a feeling, it’s bigger than me.”

Fast forward almost four years and numerous life changes later, and I have made the (crazy?) decision to cash out our savings/retirement and self-fund a national women’s initiative centered around “The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal.”

Our formal launch is this month and the response to the program has been incredibly encouraging (when I get an email from a woman in Vancouver or Madison or Sacramento interested in starting or joining a Personal Renewal Group, it makes my day!). But, it doesn’t mean I don’t have many hours and days when I wonder “did I sign up for this?", “when do I get my old life back?” and “how do I sustain a national initiative emotionally and financially through its early stages?”

And the answer is, “who knows?” The first group I started was purely out of my own need to have a dialogue with mothers beyond what our kids were eating, doing or saying. And, to really explore and dive into what this transition means to each of us and how we reconnect with who we are. And, ten groups later now, I keep leading PRGs because they help me stay grounded and remind me about the power of self-care and who I really am.

Honestly, I feel as though I was tapped on the shoulder to help shepherd these messages along and all this just happens to be unfolding at a time when mothers are really ready for this work and to begin sharing/ supporting one another in deeper ways. Who’s to say what will unfold over the next twelve months. Whatever it may be, I am grateful for the experiences thus far and while serving others is incredibly fulfilling, I know how important it is to also keep my self-care and my family’s emotional well-being in check, too. (More later--this was a big challenge this past spring.)

I have always resonated with the phrase, “Life is not a business to be managed, it’s a mystery to be lived.” Looking forward to embracing more of the mystery this summer.

P.S. Check out an excerpt from “Callings,” at: A truly amazing book.

P.S.S. If you feel your calling is focused around empowering other women, you might want to consider getting trained to lead a Personal Renewal Group. If you do, buckle your seatbelt, it's quite a ride!

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