Find Your Voice (Inspired by Maria Shriver)

Maria Shriver has a little gem of a book called Just Who Will You Be?  Good, short read.  It asks big questions, in a very small book.  At the end of the book she lists ten things she pledges to herself to keep her focused and centered on who she wants to be.

On a side note, I found it interesting that throughout the book, she referenced several times how she was determined to find who she wanted to be, instead of who she is.  I see that as a very distinct difference, but maybe it’s just semantics.  For me, when topics like this arise, I think in terms of WHO I AM, not who I want to be.  But okay…moving on.

I enjoyed reading about Maria’s journey to self discovery.  But more than anything, I liked the list she created for herself as a pledge to “keep myself focused and centered on just who I want to be,” she writes.

Below are Maria’s pledges:

1.  I pledge to “show up” in my life as myself, not as an imitation of anyone else.
2.  I pledge to avoid using the word “just” to describe myself.  For example, I won’t say, “I’m just a mother,” “I’m just a student,” or “I’m just an ordinary person.”
3.  I pledge to give myself ten minutes of silence and stillness every day to get in touch with my heart and hear my own voice.
4.  I pledge to use my voice to connect my dreams to my actions.
5.  I pledge to use my voice to empower myself and others.
6.  I pledge to serve my community at least once a year in a way that will benefit other people.
7.  I pledge to ask myself, “Who am I?  What do I believe in?  What am I grateful for?  What do I want my life to stand for?”
8.  I pledge to sit down and write my own mission statement.
9.  I pledge to live my own legacy.
10.  And I pledge to pass it on.

What an interesting exercise Maria did.  I discovered while reading her list of ten things she pledged, that I heard my own voice in many of them.  Of course, #1 “I pledge to “show up” in my life as myself, not as an imitation of anyone else” resonated with me – – just think back to all of the recent (and not so recent) articles I’ve written on being Real.

Along with “showing up as myself”, the ones where she mentions using her voice (#4 & #5) really struck a chord with me.  In “Dreaming.  Living.  Reality.” I wrote about connecting my dreams to actions.  I acknowledged, “I’m a dreamer.  I‘m fully living each day.  But I’m also a realist.  There’s nothing in me that wants to live a fantasy, so I dream in order to create.”

Using my voice to empower myself and others is something that is very important to me.  But, you already know that if you read my blog.  I love to use my voice to share my thoughts on Trust, Surrender, Love, Truth.  It’s my intention that through the topics I choose to write about and the interviews I conduct and post, that I’m able to present material to you that’s inspiring, encouraging, and comforting.  My hope is that together, we are sharing, learning, and growing as we use our voices.

On the bottom of my email, I have about 50 quotes that rotate with each outgoing message.  Although my husband tells me I can’t quote myself, I say Why not?  So, here’s one that’s in the mix that sums up how I like to use my voice.  It says:

“About Leslie:  As long as I am genuinely expressing myself, I feel like the person I was meant to be.  How I do it is irrelevant.”

Find your voice.  Use it.  Use it to empower yourself and others.  If that feels scary in some way, or you simply want/need the practice of using it, use it with me.  I’d be honored to tell your story and have your voice shared with others.

Find your voice.  Use it.

Tell Your Story

Tell Your Story

Inspired by an Angel Named Lola

I don’t like shopping, unless it’s for shoes.  So as I parked my car in front of the shoe store, I was baffled by what felt like a tug, luring me into this cutesy candles, tea towels, and all-things-feminine store.  As I walked in the front door, I was drawn to the far wall, my gaze rising, as I connected with the reason I had walked in in the first place:

Tell Your Story

From the Kelly Rae Roberts Collection

This is Lola, with her angel wings, her sweet, yet somber face, and a message I really love.  TELL YOUR STORY she says.  [No coincidence, that’s exactly how I start every interview I do for Trust Life Today.]  And on her skirt, more phrases I adore:  believe in healing, HONOR YOUR INTUITION, TAKE THE JOURNEY BACK TO YOUR SELF, wear more skirts, begin today.

As one of the employees handed her down to me from the ladder, I smiled and knew she was coming home with me.  I turned Lola over and read Kelly Rae Roberts’ story on the back.  The write-up ends with this quote from the artist/author:

“My hope is that my work invokes a sense of clarity and peace inside of you as you walk your own path in life, and that it inspires you to discover your own limitlessness.”

And as I flipped her back over, I realized that not only had I been drawn to the words written on her clothing, but also to the feeling of ‘limitlessness‘ that imbibed me when I first looked at her.

Now back in the car, Lola wrapped in paper in the passenger seat next to me, I thought:  TELL YOUR STORY.  So I’m sure you can imagine my mild shock when I turned on the radio and heard someone poo-pooing others who do precisely that, tell their stories.  The argument against went something like this: “Peoples’ stories are just that — make believe fiction based on their shoddy memories.  In this day and age, we’re too busy for such non-sense.  Just stick to the facts.”

Hello?!  I’m not some robot who spits out facts only.  Stories are rich.  They’re beautiful.  Just look at any child’s face as they listen to a story, either being read to them or told to them;  if you really stop to look, it’s priceless.  The wonder and expanse of our imaginations when we hear stories, even as adults, is something to marvel at.  And I’m pretty sure the idiom, “I’m all ears,” didn’t come from someone dying to hear just the facts!

An hour later, now back at home, I sat down with my afternoon cuppa, still mildly annoyed, and began checking email.  This quote by don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, was waiting for me in my inbox:

“I co-create with God, and with life.  Life creates what is real, and I create a story about what is real.  The story is how I qualify, justify, and explain what I perceive.  My story is my creation, and it’s a masterpiece of art.”

Yes.  Tell Your Story.  Please tell your story.  I am, as many others are, all ears….


A Faithless Creed (What Do You Believe?)

What Do You Believe?

“A Faithless Creed”
-by Tony Bower

I believe in Australia
but have never been there.
I believe in Barnsley FC
but don’t pay to see them play.
I believe in university education
but to what degree?
I believe in lions
but not to hang around with.
I believe in outer space
but have no plans to visit.
I believe in Sky TV
but am not a subscriber.
I believe in many things
but is that the same
as having faith?
A faith that makes a difference
to my daily
and being.
A faith that is something firm
beneath my feet.
What do you believe?

I ran across this poem this morning, and although I wasn’t grabbed at the start, I stuck with it, and ended up really liking it.  The overall message is a good one, and by ending with faith (my ears hear “Trust”), of course, it caught my attention.

So, What Do YOU Believe?  And is what you believe different than having faith?  Good questions.

For today’s topic, I’m going to stick with the “What Do YOU Believe?” question.  However, I’d love to hear your thoughts regarding ‘beliefs vs. having faith.’  Please feel free to share.  (I’ll only post if you want me to.)

I recently stumbled upon the question, “What do you believe?” in Maria Shriver’s book, Just Who Will You Be? Her father posed that question to her as a child.  He explained to her that later in life, when things may get difficult or appear somewhat gray, it’s always a good idea to go back to what you believe and stand on that.  I thought it was such a brilliant idea to ask a child what they believe, I took the first opportunity to ask my boys.

While walking home from school alone with one of my sons, I posed the question to him.  Without asking me to provide any context, and what appeared to me to be without giving it any thought at all, he spouted, “I believe people should take more risks.”

Nice.  I liked his fast thinking.  I liked his decisiveness.  I liked not hearing an answer he thought would make Mom happy.  In that one sentence, he confirmed for me that he will indeed, grow up to be a very solid person.

Then yesterday, on our way to a doctor’s appointment, I had the opportunity to ask my other son what he believes.  He began by asking clarifying questions;  he wanted more information.  After which, he responded with some pretty standard answers.  I’m not knocking the kid, he’s my “play it safe” kind of a kid, and it will, no doubt, serve him well in life.  But when I asked him what he REALLY believes, he said, “Oh, you mean the deep down stuff?  That’s easy.  Love is everything.”

Just as fast thinking;  just as decisive.  Approaching life from the heart.  Very nice.  I liked that, too.

But this article isn’t about me liking my boys’ responses.  It’s not to show the differences in their approach to life.  It’s not even to compare the two kids.  The point is, ask the question.  Let them respond.  Revisions are allowed.  It’s ALL allowed, but do ask the question.  And continue to ask it as they grow up.

I want my boys to have something firm they can stand on.  I want them to know that what they’re standing on came from within themselves.  They are powerful beings.  They have the power to create such things, we all do.  And in the end, whose beliefs should they be standing on anyway, if not their own?

Dreaming. Living. Reality.

Along with receiving a daily quote via email, I also receive an email from “TUT…A Note from the Universe.”  It may sound kind of hokey, but they’re typically dead on.  For example, one day last week I received, “It’s all for learning.  It’s all for learning.  Leslie, it’s all for learning.”  Which completely fit the circumstances for that day.

Also last week, I received, “Dream big. Start small.”  Cool.  Right on!  That’s exactly where I am in my life.  I have BIG dreams for Trust Life Today, and with my personality type, I wanted them done yesterday! But how can they be done when I’m still learning how to do?  And then the reminder came:  “Dream big.  Start small.”  Okay, I’ll start small (hence, the blog you’re reading).

Later in the day I ran across a quote I had jotted down years ago:  “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.”   Albus Dumbledore, speaking to Harry.

Dream big.  Start small.  Don’t dwell on dreams, lest you forget to live.  Hmm…  On the surface, they sounded pretty different to me.  Yet, they both spoke to me as soon as I read them.  These are the types of disparate messages that grab my brain and wrestle with it throughout the day (or in this case, days).

I’ll start with dreaming.  Yes, I am a dreamer.  I dream up ideas, even situations, all the time.  Dreaming is part of my creative process.  And through this creative process of dreaming, it leads to many, sometimes an exhaustive number, of conversations in my head.  Yet, I still dream.  I find comfort in it.  The key, for me, is not to get stuck there.  Dreaming has to materialize at some point, or else, well, it’s just a bunch of Fantasy Island.

That brings me to ‘living.’  I remember a time, probably 17 or 18 years ago when I asked my husband when it was time to start living.  I was eager to get started, and I wanted to know if he knew when that right time might be.  Was it during that point in my life, when I was starting my first “big girl” job?  Was it in a year or so, when we got married?  Do I have to wait until children come along, is that really living?  Or was it once I found my purpose?  Then, and only then, would I truly start to live?  He looked at me with no gesture of judgment or confusion on his face, and simply said, “Living is what you’re doing now.”  And with that, he turned and walked away.

Oh.  I see.  And with that, I was clear.  (By the way, it must run in the family, because as I was saying good-night to our younger son last night, he asked me the same question, “Mom, when do I start living?”  My response to him:  “Living is what you’re doing now.”  I would hate to think that he was going to wonder for years and years like I had.)

At this point, I’m clear on a few things.  I’m a dreamer.  I‘m fully living each day.  But I’m also a realist.  There’s nothing in me that wants to live a fantasy, so I dream in order to create.  And with that, I have tied the two sentiments together, which means the wrestling in my brain may now cease.  “Dream big.  Start small.”  “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.”

So there I have it.  An email I recently received, coupled with a quote I had jotted down years ago, presented themselves to me in the same day and I latched onto them because I felt there was a message in them, something I needed to work out.  I believe lessons present themselves to us each and every day.  Granted, this lesson didn’t shake me to my core, that’s not why I shared it.  I don’t believe we need to have deep, profound lessons left and right.  But we do need to be grateful for being present enough in our lives to realize when we’ve received one and give thanks for the gifts that they are.

My gift from this lesson:  I dream in order to create, and I do it in a very real way.

I find a lot of beauty, and peace, in that realization.