Tamara McCleary inspires and motivates the attendees of Business Honoring Spirituality at Mile Hi Church in Lakewood, Colorado to Shift their life from ordinary to extraordinary. Tamara shares what has inspired her life and how to shift yours using the concepts of The Hero’s Journey and her RelationShift ® process. Recorded 1/7/16
Probably the most anxiety producing time for an individual is when they are at an in-between period in their life. Liminal periods like adolescence… juxtaposed between childhood and adulthood and yet, neither one. The period when you go from single to married…and even more so when you move from only caring for yourself to bringing in another human being into the world. Or liminal periods like leaving the corporate work world to starting your own business, or transitioning from the workforce to retirement and focusing on creative aspects in the third trimester of life.
Always in transition there is apprehension, anxiety, stress, and the question, “Am I up for the task?”
I’ve been witness and so have you of this same phenomenon with respect to the incredible time period we are all navigating right now. The new millennium and the introduction of scientific breakthroughs and technological advances that have the potential to thrust us into a new world. We are in limbo between what is old, known and outdated, and what is new, foreign, and slightly as yet out of reach with our current global consciousness.
It feels that in our attempts at trying to conceive of it all yet conscious of so little, we, in our confusion of “what next,” can become distracted with lower-level conversations around X or Y. Yet, if we were to jump into our highest aspect of ourselves, open to our evolution… to move metaphorically from adolescence to adult, we might see that in this new world we are embarking on, it is not an either/or, but rather an And.
We need to have patience as shiny objects appear along our path promising all that has been missing. We know that the chase of all that shimmers and the distraction of debate is just that…a distraction from the bigger gain from collaborative learning and discussion. Wisdom would cause us to heed a pause, to reflect, to consider, and to remain open.
I observe that most of what I see in the area of relationship discord currently whether that be an online relationship or an in real life relationship is that we are living in a unique and unsure time. A time of revolutionary as well as evolutionary discovery. In this explosion we find ourselves seeking the most basic of meaning, to find ourselves in the chaos. What matter does our life make? And, do we even matter? Are we loved?
None of us are exempt from this most basic need. None of us are above the feeling of affirmation and connection with getting a Facebook “Like” or an acknowledgment on LinkedIn, a retweet on Twitter, a heart on Instagram, a share on Pinterest, others watching our 2 second snap on SnapChat. It’s validation that humans seek. It matters not our age, our generation, our ethnicity, our gender… it’s just human.
Those that say acknowledgment doesn’t matter to them, I would only believe their counsel if they did not have a social media presence. The ones saying they are above caring are the ones that have massive followings or “likes” already. I doubt they would’ve stayed if nobody cared what they posted. Beware the self-proclaimed guru above it all.
Why are we ashamed of our human nature to seek validation? Why can’t we all just admit that we care? Yes, I quite agree it would be incredible to be completely released of the need for Love, Approval, and Appreciation…but that is what Enlightenment is called. To me, that’s the end of the journey. So unless you consider yourself a living Avatar and an Enlightened Master, you’re in the trenches with the rest of us. It really is okay to be human, to show that human side, to be vulnerable, authentic, and real.
I think what people really want is the freedom to be accepted for who they are. I think what most people are afraid of is rejection, and rejection from those they admire most. The ones they project authority onto.
All of us are attracted to various people online due to their personality, their ability to do the things that we would love to do. To have the power we wish we had the power to possess. This is the truth of the human condition. The minute we become free is the minute that we realize that we determine who is powerful or not. We determine who possesses our soul.
On the path that reaches a crossroads and there are two ways you can go, the only way to access your wisdom and make the best choice for you is to know yourself. Know where you’ve come from, know where you are, and know where you want to be.
Go ahead be human, acknowledge what you need and recognize where and to whom you give your power to. There is no shame in the light of knowingness, there is no power over you when you shine a light upon the truth.
In our confusing, ever-changing, advancing, time of great transition, it is a delicious reprieve to remain grounded in remembering who we really are.
The Velveteen Rabbit story, was not perfect, it wasn’t laden with positive quotes, it wasn’t an admonition to live the SECRET or showing us the way of abundance through positive affirmations, but it pulled us in at a very deep level and engaged us because we could relate to the struggle… herein lies the message of this post.
While I was being interviewed recently, the interviewer began talking to her audience, she said, “I just want to remind all my viewers that I don’t believe that we should post anything negative on social media at all, I advocate that everything we post should be positive, and we should only be posting things that are uplifting, and our positive thoughts because we are small businesses and this is what people will see.” I noticed I was nodding my head ever so slightly in a reluctant “yes” gesture, (I could see myself in the camera because it was a Skype’d video interview), and as she was talking I had this inner dialogue going in my mind saying, “Why are you nodding your head? You don’t even agree with what she’s saying!” I mean, yes I agree if she’s talking about people sharing with us any kind of hate message or bullying, but…
I don’t 100% agree. I truly want to know more about people than just posting positive quotes from dead people. I mean I honestly think there’s a balance. When we post only the positive affirmations, sayings and reflections, we don’t give voice to the things that are less than rose posey, kittens and ribbons. We miss out on connecting through the juice of life. The everyday, regular, life.
Our feelings, our thoughts our deepest pondering. This is real life we are talking about. I don’t know about you but when I see someone only post super awesome-sauce about their fabulous life, two things happen.
- I don’t relate at all because my life is so weird, (I am a mother for heaven’s sake), and Polly Anna all-the-live-long-day bores the crap out of me.
- I know it’s not real, (you know it’s not real), nobody lives like that. Nobody.
I agree with my interviewer that positive is good. But real life, even the struggle is “good” to connect us more deeply. By-the-way, yes, I Tweet dead people. Yeah, I’m Twitter positive, Facebook positive, Instagram positive, and bloody Snapchat positive. However, where I part ways with my interviewer, is that I believe that we can sometimes do more harm than good when our posts are 100% picture perfect all the time. It’s just not real life. It’s not revealing.
My favorite people online… the ones I love to follow, I engage with most, and I’m willing to give them my email address and sign up for all their shit, are the flawed ones. The ones who make me giggle at the folly, the pit falls, the stumbles, and fall-flat-on-your-face adventure that this human experience holds for us sometimes.
Being human is a learning adventure, it’s messy, it’s complicated, it’s sticky, and I think we learn not only through encouragement (the positive), but support, (the honest, transparent, flawed side we all share).
How many parenting experts talk about how we damage our children by incessant praise and delivering unearned trophies for simply showing up to the soccer field? We don’t do our kids any favors by shielding them from the realities of the world. We also don’t do one another any favors by shielding each other from pain, suffering, and all manner of human expression. Since when is it “bad” to show people you have challenges? I actually don’t even see it as “good” or “bad.” To me it all just “is.” This “is” the gritty, gusto, goofy, Ooey Gooey stuff of life.
I don’t need another picture-perfect cardboard personality to connect to, do you? Give me your flaws, your laughter, your silly side, your camaraderie, your irreverence, your transparency, your sadness, your challenges, and your vulnerability to just “be” you and allow me to just “be” me.
That’s the beauty of real relationship. The gorgeous support and buoyancy of an authentic, genuine, transparent, human connection. We all embraced the Velveteen Rabbit while he was covered with stains. What made him real, makes us real. Love.
Passion. What image bubbles up in your mind at the mention of Passion? Is it love? Romance? An innate sense of accomplishment or joy? Consider with me for a moment, what does it mean to be truly passionate?
Many are confused by passion. Most crave it, though they are unable to explain what passion is for them.
Passion is not another person, an object or an attachment to form. If this were passion, what happens to the expression when you lose the object of your desire, or it is taken away from you, or becomes unattached to you? Passion, in fact, doesn’t exist in a form, it exists inside of you. Passion exists in the footprint you want to leave behind after you are gone. It’s a trap to search externally for that which can only be found within. What do you, uniquely you, special, exquisite you, desire most to accomplish in your lifetime?
Passion isn’t something you can purchase, study, acquire a degree or certification for. Passion is so innately woven into our DNA. Passion is an unquenchable fire burning within you to create something that only you can manifest. Passion is the key element in creation itself.
When do we know we have found our true passion? We identify its spark when we recognize a deep knowing. We feel it from inside, not identify it from the outside. When we place time and attention to that spark within our own being, our passion and our creativity begin to expand. As we further recognize the spark within us and feed it with our awareness, attention and energy, the fuel of our awareness potentiates our actions and eventual achievement. However, passion can become buried if we ignore our inner world. We can risk losing our spark and experiencing a dullness to our existence that leaves us wanting and feeling unfulfilled. Feelings of sleepwalking through our life are our wake-up call to pay attention and go within. Go inside to find the secret to what you want most to do on the outside.
If we tend to our flames of passion, we are always in control of how bright our flame burns, whether it is a long, warm, smolder, or a bonfire of epic proportion. We are drawn to people in our lives who possess a high level of passion because they attract us by their charisma and energy like a moth to a flame. We crave the life force they seem to wield in their lives and want it for ourselves. We are attracted to others who have strong flames, clearly defined passions, either because we are in awe of how they have created such a fire in their life or because we have forgotten how to fan our own flames and are hoping that a stray spark of their energy will ignite our own smoldering coals.
Here are some quick and simple thoughts to consider when deciding what you are truly passionate about:
- Make it something you deeply care about.
- It is in alignment with your integrity.
- The pursuit of your passion has to be a part of your value structure.
- It has to be something you get excited about.
- If you are truly passionate, it is something you are willing to stand-up for even in the face of great adversity.
Forcing the discovery of a passion cannot succeed. It is a failure to convince yourself through the vehicle of your mind and logic. You don’t decide to be passionate, you just ARE. True passion comes from a place where you don’t have to convince yourself it is the right thing for you. When you discover your passion you will find you are completely in alignment with who you are. No one has ever been talked into passion or talked out of passion.
What if you don’t know where to start?
Do some excavation work. If you have ever built a fire before, you know you can have plenty of material but sometimes you choke out a flame by piling too much on top of it. What a spark of passion needs to ignite and burn is an opportunity for it to breathe and get oxygen. Sometimes you have to dig deep for your inner spark. I’ve found, when you can’t imagine what you love or enjoy, this is an alarm saying you aren’t living or alive at all but merely sleepwalking through life.
Still can’t see your passion? Take the time to remember what you used to care about, what you were more alive doing. What do you love? What makes you feel alive? Take some time to reflect on your purpose and what you want to be known for. What is your legacy? What would someone say about you after you are gone? Ask yourself, what makes you excited and wanting to wake up in the morning?
Begin with the end in mind. When you leave this place what do you hope to leave behind? Our time is limited, so don’t waste yours.
We shape our experience of life through the choices we make, yet many of us have trouble making decisions, or make choices without being mindful about consequences.
Some of us were never mentored on how to make choices, but it’s one of the most important skills we can possess. Sometimes it feels difficult to choose since there is often an invisible tug-o-war between saying “yes” to one thing which inevitably means saying “no” to another. When we are caught in an internal conflict over which way to choose, we can feel overwhelmed. Overwhelm can have a paralyzing effect upon our necessary action. When we succumb to indecision, even in our indecisiveness we are making a choice.
The main issue with decisions is that we know at our core we cannot have it all. It’s an impossible goal to achieve and thinking that we can have it all puts more stress and strain upon us. To think we can have everything we want is a world view wrought with suffering. The deeper truth is we can have anything we want, just not everything we want. And therein lies the rub of being at-choice in any given moment.
“Today I am what I am because of my yesterday’s choices. And where I shall be tomorrow will be decided today.” ~ Unknown Author
Unexamined choices, or going with our emotional state is a recipe for cultivating a life of pain. We can’t move through life thinking that the fulfillment of desire is going to also equal a deeply satisfying life experience.
All of us have stories of living with the pain of consequences we had not anticipated or desired. Our experience of life today, this day, right now, is the sum total of all the decisions we’ve made up until this point, and it also includes the decisions that others have made for themselves. Other people’s decisions have a consequence that we experience as well. This is the pain and imperfection of our human condition.
“We are free to chose but we are not free from the consequences of our choices.” ~ Steven Covey
All of us are connected and interconnected. Every decision we make shapes our experience and as we are not islands unto ourselves, our decisions affect others as well. The decisions we make at-work or at-home affect more than ourselves. We are confronted with decisions continuously. Even a simple decision to get up in the morning when our alarm goes off, or instead hit the snooze button. The decision to work late or go home, the decision to take the time to make a healthy dinner, or grab fast-food.
Our life experience (health, happiness, peace, weight, education, career, success, etc.), is determined by choices. Even indecision like I mentioned, is a decision.
How do we make the best choice in the moment? Refrain from putting trust in wants or desires. Wanting something doesn’t mean it’s good for us. Kids want candy for breakfast, we might want a soda instead of water, but wants to do not equal supporting our highest. Knowing what we value most, and knowing what our top priorities are, these will bring us to our best answers. Choose wisely.
Some tips on making better decisions:
- Choose based upon consequences. Look at the possible outcomes and work backward. Do you like what you see?
- Avoid seeking perfection in the choice itself. Instead, look for the perfection of a goal in the inevitable consequences of your decision. You’re not perfect, neither is anything else in this world, so why do we seek perfection in the choices we make? How often do we get caught by fear or overwhelm because we are afraid of an imperfect decision? Be clear about your purpose, your values and your priorities, and you’ll find greater clarity around what to choose that will draw you closer to what you hold highest and dearest.
- Remember to avoid inaction through over analysis. Ever heard of paralysis by analysis? While it makes a lot of sense to look at the numbers and make informed decisions, getting stuck in the minutia of the details can lead to a lot of time wasted in the decision-making process. Often times our research and analysis is cleverly disguised as procrastination. If you’re caught in doing your due diligence, make sure you don’t stay there just so you don’t have to make a choice. Procrastination is a choice as well.
- Base your decision upon what is unchanging, and not upon emotions, desires, or wants that are always changing. Look deeper to a more trustworthy source…your gut. That still small voice that makes you uncomfortable when your wants and desires start pitching temper tantrums because they want something. One telltale sign that your emotions are taking over is if you’re looking for validation or permission from others. “Misery loves company,” is not wisdom speaking. If you’re looking outside of yourself for direction, you’re not trusting yourself, and possibly it’s because you’re not listening to the wise self (or you don’t want to listen to the “no” answer your gut is giving you). Desire argues with you, wants are averse to delayed gratification. The truth is, if you’re in alignment with your own integrity, your choices become easier and you won’t need to seek out what other people think because you will already be resolved to doing what you know to be your best decision, for your own integrity.
- Embrace and accept that consequences are a natural outcome of choice. Give yourself some margin for error. Mistakes are a part of the human experience. I like to think I’m a spiritual being having a human experience. This means I’m having an experience of imperfection. Forgiveness is as important to offer ourselves as it is to offer to others. Redemption comes when we apply compassion to our human condition, and realize, that in every moment we are all in-process of learning.
As I was observing Independence Day this past weekend with my family, I was reminded of the search we are all engaged in every minute of every day even if we are not conscious of it. What we’re all looking for, what we all seek, is freedom. Not freedom from the world but freedom in the world. The freedom to be ourselves right now in this world, unvarnished and still loved and appreciated for who we really are. The freedom to make mistakes, and still find redemption and love. The freedom to speak, to write, to create, to do or to do no-thing at all. Freedom to be ourselves without condemnation. Freedom is the expression and the experience we yearn for as partners, lovers, entrepreneurs, writers, speakers, teachers, artists, (insert anything here). As spiritual beings seeking a human experience, we crave the freedom (and safety) to explore the boundaries of our vulnerable self-expression.
Freedom for Writers
As writers write, they write to communicate, to express an idea and tell a story. Many times a story is completely fabricated from the delicious depths of a free-to-be mind and soul. I find writing which is unabashed and devoid of worry, concern for applause, acceptance, and fear of retribution or judgement deliver the juiciest prose to the page. Most writers struggle with attaining this kind of freedom from their own internal critic. Writers wrestle with their angels (and demons) from pen to page. A writer’s quest is to accomplish spinning their own brand, their unique voice onto the page for the reader to ingest, internalize and connect either in truth or in sheer entertainment sizzling the senses. The best writing is wrought from fearless self-expression. Writers crave to be free. Free to pursue their craft, free to express the polarity of their soul from dark terrifying depths to enlightened illumination, encompassing all the terrain in-between.
Unfortunately writers, just as anyone else, can get ensnared and caught in worrying about their audience and who will or won’t swipe their credit card on Amazon.com. The surest way to strangle the life out of a writer’s creative voice before it’s made manifest on the page is for the author to write for the sale or to write for approval. This type of writing was always referred to as “workshop writing” by my MFA writing professors. Technically the structure is correct, but it’s missing a soul, nobody cares when they read it.
You don’t have to be a writer to understand the value of fearless writing. I’m speaking of writing that compel’s a reader to connect to the author through an invisible thread. This is a brand of intimacy between reader and writer, fueled entirely by an author’s vulnerability. Freedom to weave words in complete abandon is the secret sauce to putting a soul onto a page. I love reading this kind of writing, but as a writer this kind of writing takes risk.
(Any fellow Speakers out there? This applies as aptly to the Speaking Profession as it does to writing and publishing.)
Become the Author of Your Best Life
If you aren’t a writer, you may be wondering how talking about writers exposing their voice may be relevant to you. But you see, you are the writer and author of your own life. Right now you’re actively writing your memoir, engaged in mapping out your own screenplay for the movie of YOU. Right now you’re weaving the tapestry of your legacy. What does it look like? This is your life. Do you like it? Is it what you want? Are you living a life fully self-expressed? Are you afraid of being exposed for who you really are without the mask you wear to navigate socially? (We all have them.)
It matters not our age, race, gender, or national origin, life has parallels. Consider the concept of writing in order to “sell” a book. Writing, (or speaking), for a paying audience may constrain the writer if the author feels that they must deliver in a way that is not entirely they way they’d like it to be, but it’s what sells so they do it anyway. If we’re honest, we’ve all done this in our every day lives on a daily basis. Take relationships for example. If you’ve ever dated or been in a longterm relationship…or if you’ve ever applied for a job and were hired…you “sold” someone else on YOU. It was you who made that initial impression, but also you on your best behavior. What about when the less than perfected version of you shows up?
Hiding, not telling our truth, afraid of being too raw or exposed, we often abandon ourselves in exchange for love, acceptance, and approval. In so doing we diminish our own creative spark feeling trapped in a life that does not feel like it is fully “us” or representative of what we could truly be or demonstrate this lifetime.
These parallels abound throughout human life. What freedom do you seek? Are you diminishing yourself in any subtle ways? Do you feel free to be unashamedly you? Can you speak your truth? Can you live each day free to be all that you are and all that you’re not?
This is it. This is the time for you to be who you came to be. Make the unique contribution this lifetime that you came to make. What do you have to say? What is your message? There’s no one like you and everyone like you…and precisely why most of us are attracted irrepressibly to those who’re courageous enough to show us their tender underbellies. Yours is unbelievably gorgeous. What a shame if you don’t share it with us.
May you be encouraged this day to live fully self-expressed. Whether you write, speak, teach, coach, mentor, create…may you feel the courage to deliver nothing less than your succulent self. You are a gift, a miracle, a bright light and we need your contribution.
May you be blessed.