Tag Archives: tennis

The Happy Place: Where are your fondest memories?

“The past beats inside me like a second heart.” –John Banville, The Sea

Hello friend,

Have you ever had that day when your whole system is simply flooded with memories? You know the day: when every turn of your head reveals yet another precious ghost from a golden time in your life. Have you had that day? I had it just last week.   I think I am still floating there.

My Dad’s birthday was coming, and it just happened to coincide with my kids having a couple of days off of school. So, my siblings and I decided to make the most and venture back to our hometown and the house where we all grew up to celebrate my old man and bask in that rare and precious gift that is time together.

After school on Wednesday, my kids and I loaded up the car and headed across the endless prairie, finally turning into the old cul-de-sac in the midnight hour. We awoke in the morning to the sun shining and the sound of my nieces and nephew playing. It was going to be that kind of a day.

Amidst the morning hum of excitement of all the little ones being together, my sister was the one who instigated the nostalgia-filled day by plopping down on the floor in the middle of the great room with several boxes of old pictures from our own childhood days, when we were the age that our kids are now. Of course, I was sucked in immediately.

The first thing that jumped out at me from the photos was all of the physical things—the changes to my house, my neighborhood, and the people in the photos.

I marveled at the vegetation! When we built the house when I was three, the neighborhood was new and bordered farmland. We had a big yard with a wide parkland behind it between us and the next “addition” of our neighborhood, with a series of ponds connected by a stream splitting the grassy expanse. We had so much space to play! One year we turned the parkland into a multi-hole golf course. The photos showed me why: it was so bare and treeless when I was a kid, both my yard and the park. The pond directly behind my backyard was wide open for us to swim or skate, depending upon the season. Now it is socked in with cattails and lined with trees on one side. Our long, flat yard was the home of most neighborhood games, and the football endzones were between two trees on one end (a bird bath and a tree at the other). Now those trees span the entire width, leaving no room to throw the ball through. Those photos brought it all back, though: the golf, the swimming, the skating, the daily games of football or Capture the Flag or Kick the Can, and the view across the park to my buddy Red’s house, just a quick run across the old red bridge that no longer exists. So many vivid images, so many smiles.

I had a good laugh at how my house—I still call it my house—has changed through the years of photos, too. The linoleum floor made to look like bricks in the kitchen. The spectacular red carpets and wallpaper (so much wallpaper!). The gold sofa that lived for generations in different rooms. The original microwave (which we saved and actually had to use on this trip when the modern one broke!).

Of course, all of the changes in the people and the blasts from the past kept a grin plastered across my face the entire time. There was “the ugly phase” that we all took a turn at, usually in early adolescence. There were the mullets, the wonky glasses, the splendidly awful fashion choices. We did it all!   And there were all of the old friends and cousins, most of whom I have not seen in decades but all whose photos made me smile and laugh. You know, like the shots of my birthday parties, where we would always have the challenge to eat all of our cake—angel food with raspberry sauce–and ice cream without hands.

I messaged a couple of the photos to a few of the old friends, but mostly I lamented that I have lost touch with almost everyone. Still, I was reminded of what a glorious childhood I had, filled with amazing friends and so much family. There in the house that I grew up in—the center of the Universe, it seemed as a kid—those photos had nostalgia coursing through my veins by mid-morning.

I got up from the photos to venture out to the yard to enjoy the children. They had already hooked up with the kids next door—nieces to the very kids I grew up with—and were playing kickball in the yard where I played so many neighborhood baseball games when I was their age. I grabbed my daughter and walked her over to show her the dry stream bed that I crossed every Summer day to get to the tennis courts that were always my happy place. I was a little emotional sharing the memory with her. How do you adequately convey to someone that they are walking right in the footprints of your happiness?

After lunch, we all walked on the road over to those tennis courts. On the way, my sister and I marveled at “the big hill” of our neighborhood, the one that was so big and daunting that we dreaded the thought of climbing it and usually ended up pushing our bikes up. It reminded me of the time when a neighbor kid and I sat sideways on our skateboards with our feet on the other guy’s board and rode down that hill in what I was sure would be the most dangerous feat of my lifetime. My sister and I laughed at how tame that little rise looks now. Perspective.

We arrived at the tennis courts, the site of so many memories and countless hours. Each Summer day, my brothers, neighbor boys, and I would cross the stream and play for hours and hours. I remember nights playing until it was so dark that we couldn’t see the ball until it almost hit us in the face. I thought of all the battles we had. I thought of old Mrs. Wade, who lived across from the courts, hanging out in her garden just in case anyone swore. I laughed at the thought of the Ovind boys, a couple of older, hockey-playing brothers from the other side of the neighborhood who would show up once in a while with their racquets and shout swear words and insults at each other all the way through their grudge match, drawing the ire of old Mrs. Wade. Ha!

I remember meeting another little kid from the other side of the neighborhood there one day. He had called me to arrange a match, and when he showed up, he had the fanciest racquets I had ever seen. I was in awe, as I had just graduated from my wooden racquet to my Mom’s metal one, and his were “boron” (the equivalent of gold, as far as I knew). He talked like he was a pro, too, since he played in real tournaments already. I was completely intimidated by his wealth and experience. Still, I kicked his butt, and he acted like a spoiled brat the whole time, throwing his racquets and screaming enough to get Mrs. Wade outside for a warning glare. I would never have believed that that same punk, about a dozen years later, would become my best friend for life. Life is so weird! Beautiful, but so very weird.

That tennis court is grown over with weeds now, and the neighborhood has built a playground on half of it. Still, the fences are there, and as I sat there on the bench looking out across the old court (and on to Mrs. Wade’s house—she is still there!), I was nearly overwhelmed by all that was flooding my heart and mind. How does a kid from frigid, windswept North Dakota find his home on a tennis court? Sitting there last week, I was so wildly grateful that I did. I was on the verge of tears, but for some reason I laughed instead. Happy tears.

Though it was late in Autumn, the day was unusually warm, giving me the rare gift of a flood of Summertime memories. I don’t get back to my hometown in the Summer anymore—usually just Christmas—so perhaps the avalanche of memories was due to a backlog of Summer images just waiting to be released. Whatever the case, I loved it.

We picked some apples at an old family friend’s house by the tennis courts, then walked home and played basketball in the cul-de-sac where I learned to ride a bike (and later broke my arm falling off a bike while trying a foolish trick).

It was still a balmy, glorious late afternoon when I escaped the crowd and set up my portable hammock in the corner of the backyard, hitched to the tree that marked a corner of the old endzone, the spot of my very first career dreams: the future John Stallworth or Lynn Swann for the Pittsburgh Steelers. As I lay there and tried to write in my journal, I kept being distracted by my surroundings. Literally everywhere I turned, a new wellspring of memories flooded my system. I could name who once lived in every house across the park, all the games I had played in the backyard, all the times I had thud-thudded across that old red bridge with my sleeping bag under my arm on the way to Red’s house for a sleepover.

Everything. I remembered it all.

“I have so many emotions swimming around inside of me,” I wrote that afternoon. “It feels that way, too, like my stomach is being used as a pool and the memories and emotions are literally swimming around in there. It is all a lot to process. It knocks me off-center a bit.”

I suppose it is good to be shaken in that way from time to time. As often as I dispense advice about being present and living in the moment, I realize that some of best present moments involve looking back at past moments and having a good belly laugh or a contented grin. Maybe even a good cry.

So I let myself swim. I admit: I am hopelessly nostalgic when the moment sneaks up on me. Often, the memories come to me unbidden, usually when something in a journal entry sparks a happy thought. What I learned last week, though, was that to get the full effect, to be truly flooded with the memory, I need to go to the source. I am just grateful I still have a room there!

How about you? Which places in your world spark the fondest memories? Open up your journal and wander through the settings of your life story. Which spots hold the most memories for you? Your childhood home? A grandparent’s house? Your school? A Summer camp or lake cabin? A park or sports field or theatre where you spent lots of time? A workplace? A vacation spot? A whole town? What about those places draws out so many memories? Is it just that you spent a lot of time there, or was it something special that you did there or the special people attached to the memories? Do your best memories come from the place you spent the most time? Who are the people in your favorite memories? Are they still in your life or just in your memory? How about the place itself? Is the place of your favorite memories a place that you can still return to? When was the last time you were there? When you are there, do the memories come flooding back to you in an overwhelming way? Do you try to take it all in and let it affect you? How nostalgic are you? How much effort do you make to visit places that hold good memories for you? Is there one place in particular that you have never been back to that you would most like to visit again simply for the rekindling of memories? Are you good at going places in your mind and feeling the full effect, or do you need to really be there to relive your best memories well? Leave me a reply and let me know: Where is the place of your favorite memories?

Light up the place where you are,

William

P.S. If this resonated with you, please share it. And share your memories. Tell your story. It is the best way I know to build bridges across difference.

Friendly Warning: Do Not Sleep Through Summer (Again)!

“Those who make the worst use of their time are the first to complain of its brevity.” –Jean de La Bruyére, Les Caractéres

Hello friend,

I remember last year at Labor Day. I was returning from the lake with my kids. I am always very contemplative when I am driving home from a trip. The kids sit in back and watch a movie, and I am left alone to take stock of my life and re-orient my mind to the real world. On that particular drive, I was feeling the sadness that every Labor Day brings, fully aware that Summer was officially over and that there would be no more weekends at the lake until the next Summer, which felt a million years away.

It wasn’t just my characteristic Labor Day sadness that sticks out from that drive, though. It was the regret. It was the disappointment.

I had not done enough with the Summer. I had not capitalized on all of the opportunities of my season. There were so many more Summery things that I wanted to do, that I had told myself I would do before the season had started.

More beach writings. More trail runs. More bike rides. More campfires. More s’mores. More photos. More nature walks. More kayaking.   More tennis. More driveway basketball. More stargazing. More playgrounds. More hammock time. More roadtrips. More boat rides.

That is the stuff of Summer for me. And in that car on the way home last Labor Day, I knew that I hadn’t done enough of it. I had gotten too busy and too lazy. I had let my little windows of alone time slip by. It was too easy to choose to write on the sofa versus loading my backpack and biking down to the beach to write. The gym was easier than gearing up for a kayak ride or trail run. Weekends away and staying up late by the fire seemed like too much hassle. The hammock and the nature walks didn’t feel productive enough.

I am the first to admit that I am generally (and unhealthily) obsessed with being productive and always having something to show for my time (e.g. so many words written, pages read, or tasks knocked off the To-Do List). But, really, is your ideal Summer supposed to be described as “productive”? To me, that sounds like a good word for the other seasons. You know, the ones that have cold in them.

Maybe all along I should have been aiming for different adjectives to describe how my favorite season would be. How about fun? Adventurous? Soul-stirring? Enriching? Invigorating? Inspiring? Liberating? Enchanting? Yes, these all sound wonderful. But just plain old fun is perfect. “How was your Summer?” you ask. “It was nonstop fun!” That is exactly how I wish my response had been last Labor Day.

So, of course, on that contemplative drive home—and on almost every day after until June rolled around—I vowed that I would redeem myself this Summer. I would engage all of these beautiful, inviting days and live them fully. I would absolutely suck the marrow out of Summer this time!

I even had a list going in my head, the things that I would definitely do to make me feel satisfied when the next Labor Day rolls around. These are just some of the items on my Satisfying Summer Checklist for this year:

  • Take my kayak out at least three times
  • Become a regular outdoor journal writer
  • Find several new spots to try out my portable hammock
  • Take my kids to our local beach regularly
  • Get my ancient mountain bike fixed and ride the area trails
  • Roadtrip to the family lake cabin at least three times
  • Roadtrip to visit my sister and her family
  • Play tennis several times with other adults
  • Teach my kids tennis at least once per week
  • Do several trail runs
  • Use the neighborhood fire pit and roast marshmallows with my kids
  • A few daytrips to regional parks for hiking with my wife and kids
  • Make a habit of taking my daughter to the local lakes on early weekend mornings for father-daughter bonding time
  • Play a lot of driveway basketball with my son
  • Take lots of photos of the whole wild ride

That was a start, anyway. My mind seems to add new To-Do items every day, and the Wish List grows. But that stuff marked the basics for my Satisfying Summer Checklist.

Well, I just looked at the calendar and realized we are almost halfway to Labor Day. Gosh, that sneaks up, doesn’t it?!? So, how am I doing with my list?

Well………

Okay, there are some positives. I am about to take the second roadtrip to the family lake cabin for what has become my and my children’s favorite week of the year (score!), so only one more to go on that one. I did get the mountain bike fixed, but I have only been out in the dirt with it once so far. I have been writing most of my journal entries outdoors, though usually it is just on my deck (but at least it is usually in a hammock!). I have done pretty well getting the kids to the tennis court, not as well getting my own practice in. I have taken my kayak out (once). I have done a couple of trail runs. The driveway basketball is happening. I have not made the roadtrip to my sister’s place, but my intentions are still there. The portable hammock has been used (but not enough). We have not done the fire and s’mores (well, we microwaved them once!). We have only done the local beach once. We have failed completely on the regional parks and hiking. The discovered gem in the lot has been the father-daughter bonding time early Sunday mornings at the local lakes—absolutely priceless. And there have been some good photos of the ride.

If I had to give myself a grade so far, I would say maybe a C-. I have definitely done some small portion of many of my items, which is good. But there is much more than half left to do in this final half of Summer in order to achieve Satisfying Summer status.

I better get busy being NOT BUSY. I must get more ambitious about my leisure, more serious about my fun. I need to buckle down, because now that the Fourth of July is over, you know what the next holiday is, right?

Labor Day.

It won’t be long before I am taking that long, contemplative drive back home from the lake on that final day of Summer. Though I am guaranteed to feel a bit sad that day at the passing of my favorite season, my hope is that I will have done enough in the second half so that I don’t have to mix regret and disappointment with my sadness.

I needed this check-in to get real with myself about my laziness and excuses. It’s half over, friend. We have now been warned! I am planning to heed it this year. Carpe Summer!!!

How about you? Are you making the most of this precious and fleeting gift called Summer? Open up your journal and go through your own checklist? Are you satisfied with how you have been using your time lately? Start with how you want to feel this Summer and how you want to describe your Summer when it ends. What words would you choose? Is “FUN” one of them? Regardless of your adjectives, what activities are on your Satisfying Summer Checklist? Are they things that are quite unique to the season or things that you carry along all year? In either case, how are you doing for the first half of the season? Have you gotten most items on your list started at least? How many items are finished? How many have you not even touched yet? What kind of grade would you give yourself so far? Now, knowing that you still have plenty of time to make necessary changes and do great things, how confident are you that you will improve your grade by the time Labor Day rolls around? Which items will you prioritize? Are there any items that you will get rid of? Any new ones to add? Does making a To-Do List and scoring your progress take some of the fun out of it and kind of defeat the purpose of making it fun and stress-free, or do you appreciate that it keeps your priorities straight? For me, I need the reminder from time to time. Keeping fresh air and fun in the forefront of my mind is crucial for me. How about you? Leave me a reply and let me know: What do you need to do to finish this Summer right?

Adventure is out there,

William

P.S. If this resonated with you, please share it. Make the most of your days!

Think Happy Thoughts!! What makes you SMILE every time?

DSC_0372“All the statistics in the world can’t measure the warmth of a smile.” —Chris Hart

Hello friend,

Digging through a pile of junk on my shelf this week, I uncovered an old phone and its charger. Curiosity got the best of me, so I plugged it in and fired it up. The only thing of value that I could find—apart from a still-working version of Angry Birds—was the photo gallery. I took a sweet stroll down Memory Lane, to the days of my daughter’s first swimming lessons and my son’s toddlerhood. It was all very dreamy, and I am sure I had a little grin on my face the entire time. But it was when I came across an image that turned out to be a video that the experience transformed from a nice little moment to the gleeful highlight of the day.

Picture the scene: I am shooting the video from the middle of the street at the bottom of our sloped driveway on a chilly day in late Spring. My daughter is at the top of the driveway doing sidewalk chalk, but this video is all about the little guy next to her, who is about to take off on his Big Wheel. Not even three years old at that time, his bright yellow, sheep-covered helmet dominates his head and barely rises into view above the handlebars. As he pushes off the ground with his feet and raises them high and wide into the air as though in invisible stirrups, I start commentary as though he is Lightning McQueen from the “Cars” movie. Then as he gathers speed down the hill, he lays his head all the way back and looks up to the sky. Immediately he begins to careen off-course, and I holler, “AAAARRRGH! WATCH OUT, BUDDY!!!” Then it is laughter as he turns at the last possible second and empties out into the street by me and sets down his feet for brakes. With a look of sheer delight on his face, he looks up at me and shouts in this squeaky-yet-hoarse toddler voice, “DID YOU SEE ME, DADDY? DID YOU SEE ME? Hee hee! I’m do it again!” And the video ends with him climbing off the Big Wheel and beginning to turn it around for another plunge.

Eighteen seconds. That’s all it was. And while I was no doubt beaming the whole time I watched, near the end, when I heard that little voice—that little, squeaky voice that I had totally forgotten and that sounds nothing like his 6-year-old, big boy voice—my joy totally overflowed. It floated me through the day. Even just thinking about that sound now has me grinning ear-to-ear. About a month ago, my wife found an even older video of my daughter at that age, “helping” my then-infant son to eat some baby food. I can still hear her little, high-pitched voice—again, totally forgotten until the video surfaced, because it is nothing like today’s 8-year-old voice—saying, “Do you LIKE it? Is it GOOOOOD?” There is something about seeing them at that age and hearing those squeaky little voices that triggers an instant and unstoppable smile on my face. It’s like magic. Bottled JOY.

With those squeaky voices and free smiles fresh in my mind, I started thinking: How can I get some more of that? What else in my life—whether from an experience I need to seek out or simply from the memory of past experiences—is an automatic smile-maker? What thoughts, tastes, sights, smells, people, places, and memories are that powerful? I am not talking about things that are great about my life or that I should be grateful for—a fulfilling career or awesome family or wonderful health or financial security, stuff like that—but rather things that tickle me, that probably make me giggle a little bit when I smile, that totally lighten my load in an instant. It’s a high standard.

Okay, so here we go for my first crack at my personal Insta-Smile List:

  • My son’s eyes. He has a magical mix of wild glee with a bit of mischief that gets me almost every time (I have to be Serious Dad when the mischief part goes too far). He cannot keep a straight face for anything, and I can’t either when I look at him.
  • A tennis court lit up at night in a park. Always a romantic image in my mind. I can’t explain it.
  • A picture of my Grandma Jeanne. The sweetness in her eyes. 
  • The mention of my Grandpa Hermie. Legend. 
  • The sound of my daughter playing piano in our play room. It isn’t even that she is any good at it yet, but I just love the sound of someone playing the piano in my house. I smile every time! 
  • Watching my kids run across the street to get the neighbor kids to play. This is so nostalgic for me. I had thought that this went out of style in this modern age when everyone is so wary of other people and less social. But lately my kids have done this more and more. I can’t refuse—or stop grinning—when my son says, “Can I go knock on Caleb’s door?” Something about watching them walk over there just pulls me back to the joy of my youth. It fills me.
  • The smell of banana bread. 
  • Little kids talking to themselves. I am telling you, take any chance you can get to do some close-up surveillance on a toddler playing alone with toys. Not only are they just irresistibly adorable, but the dialogue between all of the imaginary characters is absolutely hilarious. I wish I had shot a lot more video of my kids playing like this when they were younger, because it would surely keep me giggling through my old age. Being with my three-year-old niece last weekend, I could have just followed her around all weekend and smiled continuously while listening to her commentary.
  • Watching kids jump off the dock into the lake. Pure joy, for them and for me.
  • Watching people dancing. 
  • Dancing.
  • Swimming underwater with goggles. It’s a challenge for me to keep water out of my mouth because my natural reaction is to smile when I am down there. The most peaceful place on Earth. 
  • The thought of my old friend Jon. Even 25 years later, I can’t think of him without a laugh and a smile.
  • Sledding. I challenge you to keep from smiling!
  • Skiing fast down a long, groomed run. Ditto.
  • The sound of a stranger farting in a public place. Sorry, I really am a child. 
  • The first piano notes of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.” If you have ever seen the movie “Almost Famous,” you will remember the scene on the bus with this song. It is a beautiful piece of filmmaking in one of my all-time favorite movies. Really, there are so many moments in this movie that are automatic smiles for me. It is one of the rare ones that basically tickles me all the way through.
  • Robert Downey Jr. Honestly, I can’t look at this guy without a little giggle. He got me started in “Johnny Be Good” about 30 years ago, then absolutely killed it in “Home for the Holidays,” another one of my favorites. He just has that look in his eye that he is about to say or do something that will make himself laugh. Come to think of it, this is what it is about looking into my son’s eyes. It is irresistibly goofy.

Okay, so that’s my list! For now. It has been so much fun to think about, I will probably linger on the topic for a few more days, see if I can double my list. It is like smile therapy, truly. I can’t explain how uplifting this has been to work on. It has reminded me how important it is to not only revisit my most ticklish subjects, but to carry with me the kind of spirit that will let me make new ones. Smiles and laughs, I am open for business!

How about you? What in your world guarantees to draw a big, toothy grin out of you? Open up your journal and start your Insta-Smile List. I know I ask you every week to make the effort to write this stuff down, but I really, really mean it this week. This topic was a total delight to work on, and my cheeks are getting sore from smiling so much. Do yourself a big favor and make the time to really dig out a full list for yourself. You will not regret it. Which ones come immediately to mind? Why do you think they are so obvious? Does it happen frequently with these short-listers, or just memorably? Are the things on your list more memories, sensory experiences (e.g. the smell of banana bread, the sight of a lit tennis court), or things you need to experience in real time (e.g. sledding, dancing, swimming underwater)? Which of your happy thoughts are tied to nostalgia, whether directly from joyful memories or indirectly from sensory cues (maybe banana bread is tied to Grandma) or things that you still like that you liked as a kid? Who are the people in your life that trigger a laugh and a smile even just thinking about them? Does identifying them make you want to spend more time with them or make you think they are extra-special, or are they just a different kind of special but not any more valuable? What could you do differently in your life to have more of the experiences on your list? What could you do differently to create more new Insta-Smile experiences? This is a fun exercise, right? Which ones on your list are your most favorite? Which are you going to do today? Leave me a reply and let me know: What makes you smile every time? 

Shine on,

William

P.S. If this lightened your load a little, please share it. A smile is a gift worth giving. Cheers!

Sleepwalking Through Life, or Sucking the Marrow Out of It: What Will You Regret?

DSC_0148“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.–Henry David Thoreau

Hello friend,

Isn’t it amazing how differently we see the other ages of our life when we get some years away from them? I think it is safe to say that we all look back at our high school years—the continuous flow of earth-shaking drama weaving its way through every day and every interaction—and think of how silly and insignificant it all was in the grand scheme of things. Most of us—myself definitely included—look at our old girlfriends and boyfriends and laugh at how wrong we were for each other, even though it seemed so right at the time. The years of separation provide fascinating insights (and hopefully some good laughs to go with the invaluable lessons).

I find myself now at a unique junction in the story of my life. The different chapters from past and future are converging in my mind. It is a perfect storm. For one, in The Journal Project, I am studying my daily journals from 1997, which was a truly revolutionary and magical time in my mind and, thus, my life. My foundation of deep and lasting happiness was being built in those days, and reading back through them is again making a deep impact on my current perspective.   The bar was set high.

The second thing brewing is that I am at a crossroads with the different jobs that make up the “career” portion of my little world. Even though it has been a year since I left my original career as a tennis coach, the job I transitioned to has been something of a holding pattern, meant not to fulfill my biggest career aspirations but instead to fulfill my parenting aspiration to give my kids the most of my time and energy. It has worked wonderfully for that, and I am so glad I made the move when I did. However, it is coming to the end of its run, forcing me to take a long look at what I have done and what I could do in the future. I am in one of those moments that will shape the long course of my existence. I want to do it right. I don’t want any regrets.

Needless to say, I have a lot swirling around in my mind these days. I think back to a time almost fourteen years ago when I had to make—and make quickly—a career move. I had just quit graduate school–deciding that it wasn’t the life for me–and needed to figure out what was next. I needed not just a job but something that might be a career. In brainstorming the options, I allowed myself a momentary fantasy of working as a writer, sharing my message with the world and making the kind of difference I hoped I was capable of. Fear and uncertainty squashed that fantasy in a hurry. I knew nothing about how to get into it, and I didn’t believe enough in my talent to bet my future on it. Instead, I turned to my first love and something I had always enjoyed (even though I had never considered it as a possible career): teaching tennis.

I loved it. I had always felt completely in my element when teaching others, and getting to be involved in the best part of someone’s day while sharing my love of the game was immensely gratifying. It was work I could see myself doing for a long time. And I did.

About eleven years down the road, though, my mind began to change. My love for tennis and teaching didn’t diminish, and I was still deeply happy in my life (which, by then, included a wife and two kids). But something that had been dormant was awakening inside me. A giant was stirring. Questions began arising: What is your Bliss? Are you giving your Gift? Are you doing the work you feel called to do? What would you do if money was not an issue? What would you do if you weren’t scared? What is your soul telling you? Soon these questions were all that I could hear? The sleeping giant had awoken. I had to face him.

I started by admitting that even though I enjoyed and appreciated my work as a coach, it wasn’t my true calling. It was a shadow career, something that fills many of the requirements of a calling but is not it. I also had to come to grips with the fact that happiness was not enough for me. I figured happiness was an achievement of the mind and that I was blessed with the ability to be happy in any circumstance. I wanted not just happiness; I wanted fulfillment, too.

I vowed then to listen to my heart. If something made my heart sing, I would follow it. I began The Journal Project with no idea where it would lead me. I just knew I loved it and that it resonated deep down in that place where the giant had been sleeping. And as I read through the daily entries from all of the years of my adulthood, I saw all of these signs that told me—sometimes in the plainest English—that writing and sharing my message was my dream job. I wanted to help people to grow and be their best, happiest selves. I was doing a version of that in my coaching career, but not as fully and directly as I envisioned it when the writing aspect was added to it.

The ship has been slow to turn. It turns out that rediscovering my Bliss did not necessarily make it much easier to follow. I still had two little kids and a job to put food on the table. Time was short, and though I worked hard at it, progress was slow. In trying to keep with my plan of changing lives in a bigger way, I started Life Coach training, which was right up my alley. Then I added the skin care business, hoping this would eventually lead me to more time and financial freedom to pursue my writing. All of this was happening while I transitioned out of tennis and into my current job around my kids’ schedule.   Hence, the slow-turning ship.

And now I arrive at this perfect storm of circumstances: lots of reflection about my past combining with my current job nearing its end. There are large decisions to be made, and uncertainty about the future is rampant. My biggest takeaway from all of this journal-reading is that when I had that moment fourteen years ago to make a career move and chose the more certain route—totally bowing to the fear and self-doubt around my writing prospects—I went into what I can now see was a long period of sleepwalking. Happy sleepwalking, but still sleepwalking. Only when I started questioning myself and the giant awoke did I start to listen to my soul and return to my passion. With The Journal Project and Journal of You, I am getting to the juicy, fulfilling stuff. I hear my friend Thoreau clearly: “It is life near the bone where it is sweetest.

So, can I really do it? Could I achieve the magic double of making a real paycheck AND fulfilling my deepest passions simultaneously? If I let go of my other business ventures and gave all of the available time and energy to the writing, I am quite sure of the fulfillment part. The uncertainty is in the paycheck part. Do I dare bet on myself if my family’s financial stability is the cost? If I don’t bet on myself by doggedly pursuing my purpose, can I live with the alternative? And, perhaps equally important, if I cannot afford to go all-in on the dream, can I keep enough of it alive that I don’t spend the next dozen years sleepwalking? I don’t think I could bear the regret if I re-awoke to this same feeling at age 55. I must get to the marrow!

How about you? How awake are you as you pass through your life? Open up your journal and explore your relationship with your Bliss. What is your Bliss? What lights up your heart and makes your soul sing? What role does your Bliss play in your everyday life? Are you doing it all day in your job or just squeezing it into your spare time as a hobby? It is in there somewhere, right? Whatever your current level of engagement with your dreams and your purpose, how can you make it greater? What kinds of things can you do to make sure it is included in your regular schedule? Is it enough for you to follow your Bliss as a hobby—e.g. writing a blog or volunteering with children on the weekends—or do you feel it is essential that you incorporate that calling into your primary pursuit or career? How big of a leap would it take to turn your passion into your profession? Which is bigger: the psychological risk, or the financial risk? Is simply “being happy” enough for you as a goal for life? And finally, how aware of your dreams and your calling are you on a daily basis? As you can tell, this occupies a lot of space in my thoughts—at least it has for the past few years since I woke up—but I don’t know how it is for everyone else. So leave me a reply and let me know: How conscious are you of your passion and purpose, and how well are you living it?

 This life is your big chance,

William

P.S. If this speaks to you, perhaps it would speak to your loved ones. Share freely.

Is Your Job Working You?

IMG_1015Hello friend,

Picture yourself on your deathbed. Your mind spins like a broken record, replaying your life over and over in hopes of coming to some peace. Peace with what you have done and left undone. Peace with your accomplishments and your failures, your great loves and great loves lost. But mostly, you are trying to make peace with how you passed your time here on Earth, how you spent your dash. Regret enters the conversation. “I wish I had done that.” “I am so sorry that I did the other thing.” Woulda shoulda coulda. These are tough thoughts, heavy loads to bear as you cross over to the other side. So, here is my question: At the end of the road, are you going to say, “I wish I spent more time at work”?

Naahhh! Me neither. Not many people, I am guessing, would fess up to that regret. It is not that I discount that as a possibility, especially for those who are truly following their Bliss–their calling–and have turned it into a career. I love writing these posts to you. If I was earning a living wage for it, I could definitely see spending a little “too much” time delivering one to you on a daily basis. Mostly, though, I think that, like most of you, wishing I had worked more hours won’t be among my biggest deathbed regrets.

But how about the reverse? Have I spent too many hours at work? Have I missed out on the things that I would tell you are important: my kids, my wife, my family of origin, taking care of my health, pursuing my passions, learning? Has my schedule reflected my priorities?

As with many other areas of my life, I have taken a unique, winding path in my relationship with my work schedule. After spending most of my 20’s trying to work as little as possible so that I could spend my hours on self-improvement, my early 30’s found me living the life of a workaholic. I was on both the teaching and the management sides of tennis, and that meant a grueling schedule of more than 40 hours per week pounding my body on a tennis court and then another 20-30 hours in the office stressing over budgets, staffing, programming and the like. I was burning the candle at both ends, to be sure, only seeing the light of day on the weekends (some weekends). Every night found me completely exhausted.

In my work on The Journal Project, I have been able to revisit those years via my daily journal entries. Let me tell you, those are the most boring, repetitive entries of my entire adult life! They are like a broken record that goes something like this: “I am so tired. My body hurts so badly. This is no way to live. I wouldn’t recommend this to anybody. I am happy and grateful. Life is beautiful.” Yes, thank goodness that my spiritual and psychological foundation—my base of deep happiness and gratitude—had been laid prior to those years, because I never would have made it through without that foundation. It is true that I believed in my cause—I loved being in tennis and was heavily invested in making my club a wonderful place to work and play—and that certainly helped me to sustain my energies while there. But it was all there. I didn’t have much energy left to offer anything outside the building. All of those other things I would have said were high priorities—wife, family, passions, health—were left to pick at the crumbs of energy I had left when I limped in the house under cover of night. Between the stress and the physical beating and the endless hours, my work certainly exacted a heavy toll on me in exchange for a paycheck. In effect, it consumed me. (Here might be a good place to add that my wife is a saint.)  I knew what was happening, too, but I just couldn’t seem to do anything about it.

But then, something magical happened. My daughter was born. The sweetest, most beautiful angel ever in the world was alive and coming to stay in my house, where I could scarcely find time to be. That seemed just plain wrong to me. My priorities suddenly came sharply into focus. But more than that, the need to match my schedule to my priorities became urgent. So I did. I quit the management side of my job and cut my teaching schedule down to four days, with no nights or weekends. The paycheck and status took a huge hit, but finally my schedule was in alignment with my priorities.

Those quality days with my daughter—and eventually my son, too—were worth more to me than any paycheck ever was. If you could ever climb inside my heart on a “Three Amigos Day”—one of our weekdays with just the kids and I—or “Family Fun Day” (all of us together on a weekend), you would understand completely the meaning of the word “priceless”. We have been carrying on like this for 5 ½ years now, with me spending less time at work and more time with the ones I love and having the energy to be fully present when I am with them. So, there I was at the bus stop this morning to give my daughter a hug good-bye before school, and there I was at the end of the day to see her jump off the bus and run smiling toward me for another giant hug—an untradeable moment—and a trip on our bikes to the park. And tomorrow, on that weekday away from my job I have clung to all these years, I get to go along on the kindergarten fieldtrip to the museum and the zoo. These days of my being my kid’s best friend don’t last forever, right? I think I’ll soak them up while they are still here.

As you can see, my relationship with my working hours has been one of extremes. I have known dipping my feet in the water, wading comfortably at waist-deep, and full-fledged drowning in my work. I have known myself to be happy in the midst of all three, but actual satisfaction came only when I was finally able to make my schedule reflect my priorities. Who can say how my path will meander in the coming years as circumstances change, but I hope that when I am in full life-review mode while lying on my deathbed, I will have no regrets when it comes to the time I spent at work.

How about you? How are you doing with your work schedule? Open up your journal and tell yourself about it. Are you spending too much time at your job? Are you missing out on important aspects of your life because of your work schedule? Do you ever wish you worked more? Is your job your true calling or just something you do? When it is all over, are you going to regret the way you spent your time? And most importantly, how closely do you think your schedule reflects your priorities? If it does not, what small step can you take today to change that? Leave me a reply and let me know: Is your job working you?

Live a self-approved life,

William

Are You Fine Wine or Rotten Grapes?

Ripples on Pelican 0330_3“There’s never a wish better than this: when you only got a hundred years to live.”                                  –John Ondrasik (“100 Years”) 

Hello friend,

I think I am about to start having a tough time with this aging thing.

I’m 41 years old. I’ll be honest: those first 40 were pretty easy on me, both physically and psychologically. I found a beautiful, much younger-looking wife and worked in a job that let me act young and fit. Sure, I had some bumps and hiccups along the way. I had back surgery at 31. I started going gray even before that (and that train isn’t one that just stops, friend!). I have the wrinkles of someone 10 years my senior. I admit to some vanity, so accepting these battle scars has taken some work. But I have done pretty well at swallowing those potentially bitter pills. So far, so good.

Helping my cause, I think, was waiting to have my kids until my mid-to-late 30s. I was able to carry off the “I must be young; I haven’t even had kids yet” trick in my mind, AND avoid the total sleep deprivation/obliteration that inevitably comes with new parenthood. But then, after they came, right up until around, say, TODAY, I was riding the “My kids are so little. OF COURSE I am still young!” Walking through the grocery store with my two darlings, people—especially older people–would give that wonderful, warm-hearted look of reminiscence that said, “Ahhh, so cute to see a Dad with his baby and toddler. What a wonderful time in the life of a young family!” I love that look! It is like a psychological air-brushing: instant age reduction! So I have been living and loving the delusion of early adulthood for a good while now.

Until today, that is. This morning I got a reality check in the form of a visit to the dentist for my daughter’s first fillings. The first thing they did was put her on a scale to check her weight. Fifty-eight pounds. Wait. WHAT?!?!? How did my toddler become 58 pounds and have two cavities? Too much candy, you say? Nope. Sadly, it turns out that my little baby somehow became a tall, thin kindergartener who reads—and eats candy, too, I admit–about as well as I do. GULP! Okay, now I have tasted the bitter pill. I am no longer young. I am feeling O.L.D.!!!

I am thinking of the previous phase as Early Adulthood, basically the 20s and 30s. In that phase, at least somebody thought I was young, even if it was just me. I had either no kids or young kids, and I could occasionally be thought of as still a young and somewhat attractive Tennis teacher to my adult clients. Now I am more in the category of weathered, veteran coach to those at my job. Outside of it, I am sliding quickly away from the “New Father” role and into “A Guy With Kids.” Physically, I am changing on the inside, too. Whereas I used to jump from one injury to the next as any active, athletic person does, now the injuries don’t go away. I have been nursing a bum foot for nearly a year. That is old person material!

Yes, as graceful and accepting as I seem to be handling the aging stuff so far, I am not so sure of myself for the next phase. As much as I hear parents talking about the elementary school years being this blissful oasis between the exhaustion of the diaper years and the turmoil of the teenage years, I am finding myself feeling very clingy to these early years. I LOVE being my kids’ best friend; that role feels right and comfortable. I know that those days are numbered, however, and that doesn’t feel so good to me. I don’t want to be outgrown.

In my work, too, the road ahead is beginning to look scary. Coaching tennis is not like coaching football, baseball, or basketball, where it is enough to be a good motivator and strategist. I am actually supposed to be good at playing, better than the people I am teaching. That is tougher to sustain as the injuries and years pile up and don’t retreat. It is a young person’s profession. And the longer I stay in it, the less appealing I become to a prospective employer in a different field should I decide to change careers. The squeeze is on. I am feeling the very real fear of becoming irrelevant, both in my own field and in all others. This Middle Age thing is not for sissies!

I quoted John Ondrasik’s (Five for Fighting) song “100 Years” at the top because that song always makes me think about the path of life and this train called TIME that never stops, no matter how much a guy like me begs it to. In the verse about this new phase I am entering (and fearing), he sings, “I’m 45 for a moment, The sea is high and I’m heading into a crisis, Chasing the years of my life.”

I don’t want to be that guy who resists the natural flow of the life cycle. I don’t want to be perpetually “chasing the years of my life.” I want to do just as my hero, Henry David Thoreau, suggests: “to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.” I guess the thing is just to embrace it. Embrace the moment—every moment—whatever it brings and whatever my role is. I want to enjoy all of the moments—indeed, even revel in them—until my last breath leaves me. I have done that so far, so I don’t know why I have this current anxiety about losing that ability to remain in the precious present. But there it is.

How about you? How are you aging? Open your journal and tell it your Truth. Have you moved gracefully from one era of your life to the next? Have you fought it kicking and screaming at any point? Did you ever have what you think of as a “mid-life crisis” or, as John Mayer says, a “quarter-life crisis”? Compare your present era to your known past and imagined future phases: Is this phase better or worse than the others? Are you looking forward to your next chapter, or dreading it? How accepting are you of your aging body? Write honestly to yourself, and then leave me a reply. I want to know: when it comes to aging, are you like fine wine or rotten grapes?

You are lovable in every moment,

William

Are You a Quitter?

DSC_1169Hello friend,

Last week, somebody told me I was a quitter.  That’s right: a quitter.  It is not everyday that you get that thrown at you in polite conversation.  But there it was, right in my face.  Quitter!

Let me give you some context.  I was talking with an acquaintance who hadn’t previously known a lot about my past but has been reading my blog posts the last couple of months.  I have been pretty open in the posts about my past as well as the things that light me up—like writing this blog for you—and what I see myself doing in the future.  I have mentioned things like leaving college to study acting in my early 20s and later leaving a doctorate program.  I have also mentioned my desire to reach and teach a greater number of people through writing/speaking/life coaching.

So, last week when I saw my acquaintance who suddenly knew a lot more about me than she had before, she instantly got on my case about pursuing a life coaching certification immediately.  It was totally well-meaning, of course; she really seemed to want me to live my purpose as soon as possible.  She was pushing hard, though, trying to press me on what was holding me back and then dismissing any possible excuse.  Then she dropped it on me.  “Look, you have quit on a lot of stuff in your life!”  I was a little taken aback at first but mostly amused at the accusation, so I said, “Like what?”  She, of course, listed all of the things I mentioned above, and concluded with, “You have quit everything you’ve ever done!”

Was it true?  Am I a quitter?  I decided I needed to explore this idea, so of course I turned to my journal.  I walked myself through all of the major course changes I have made in my life and asked if each change was a result of me quitting something.  I came to see that it was crucial to the discussion to find the essence of what “quitting” really is.

What does it mean to quit?  The term carries such a negative connotation in our daily conversation.  For me, quitting involves giving up on something that is very important to you, especially when the going gets tough and you believe you just aren’t up to the task, that it is too difficult and too scary.  Fear is a big part of it: fear of not being enough.  The other key element, in my view, in defining the concept of quitting is regret.  When you really quit on something—when you bail out of something that is an important part of who you are—it is worthy of feelings of regret later.  It doesn’t have to be the case that you feel regret—lots of people bury their heads and hearts in the sand (with addictions, denial, or other destructive behaviors) to escape the feeling—but rather, if you looked yourself in the mirror for the cold truth, you would find regret shrouding the event.  Quitting is regret-worthy.

So, how about me?  Had I been quitting on each step of my journey?  Was each new road I took just a cowardly bailing out of the previous path?  Let’s review.  From the time I was a kid, I always thought I was going to be a doctor.  I told myself that all through high school and my first couple of years of college.  Then, as that whole world of medical school/doctoring/the rest of my life began to feel close at hand, my inner voice started screaming at me that that was not the path for me.  So, in fairly abrupt fashion, I pulled out of school.

I had become enchanted with the idea of studying acting, so I bounced around the country doing that, eventually landing in Los Angeles.  From the time I arrived there, it was fairly clear to me that I wasn’t in love with the people or the business of acting, but I loved the craft of it.  Though I very much wanted to be famous so I could make an impact on people’s lives, I always told myself that as soon as something else lit my fancy, I would leave LA.  I never did get the “big break” acting job, but I was doing my best—getting some parts and an agent–at the time I decided to leave.  I can honestly say that it never crossed my mind as I was preparing to leave that I had “failed” as an actor.  I simply found something else I wanted to do more.  I wanted to travel and enrich myself with books and self-exploration.  So I left.  I have always missed the acting but never the other stuff.  Great lessons, no regrets.

From there I passed into a wonderful period of travel and learning.  All of this study eventually led me back to college—hoping to learn even more–which then led me into a Ph.D. program in Philosophy.  I hoped that by studying Applied Ethics, I could bring positive change to the world by eradicating social problems.  It wasn’t until I got going in the six-year program that I realized that this path was not for me, that it wasn’t going to fulfill me the way I had envisioned it would.  The goal was a good one, but this wasn’t the best way to achieve it.  So again, I abruptly removed myself from the situation.  I quit the program.

From graduate school, I moved on to teaching Tennis.  Here I have been for the last twelve years.  (Well, if truth be told, I actually quit part of this job, too.  I was a manager in the field, but I stepped down from those duties when my daughter was born so I could spend more time with her.  Quitter.  Ha!)

I guess that the best way I can explain this to myself is that there feels like a big difference between truly “quitting” something—with the fear and the future regret —and simply changing course because the path you are on no longer feels authentic to you, not representative of your soul’s true calling and joy.  We do change, right?  I surely have.  I was into college 100%…..until I wasn’t.  I loved acting…..until I found something that lit me up even more.  I thought that graduate school was going to lead me toward a goal that meant a lot to me…..until I got there and realized the road was going in a slightly different direction.

Now I have been on this Tennis path—and enjoyed being on it—for all of this time, but my soul is stirring again.  I am wondering if I can do the world more good–and be more fulfilled–by doing more writing/speaking/life coaching.  What if I change course again?  Will that qualify as quitting another thing?  {Odd aside: does it strike you as ironic that the woman who called me a quitter was doing so to motivate me to quit my current profession?  People are special.}  I think that to label every course change as “quitting” is to turn people into cartoon characters.  It is a shallow way to label.  Besides, is there really some great honor in staying in something that no longer serves your greatest good nor feels authentic to you?

I know that quitting happens.  We get faced with difficult life situations all the time—it is not easy to achieve our goals—and bail out.  We make excuses and hide from the regret that comes with abandoning our dreams.  But more often, we think we want something—a marriage, a career path, whatever—so we try it out and give it a good opportunity to light up our soul, eventually finding that it simply does not, or that something else lights it more.  So we choose a different path on our quest for happiness.  It seems to me that true quitting is much more rare than our convenient use of the term.  More tragic and frequent, I think, is the absence of trying, the paralyzing fear of failing if we really do make a run at our dreams.

I would rather fail or “quit” a hundred different pursuits as long as I was living my Truth, taking a chance on true Happiness and Fulfillment.  So, I will keep living authentically, marching to the beat of my own drummer.  Then, when I reach the end of my life’s journey, I can look back with contentment on all of the roads I have traveled.  Walking in my Truth is enough for me.

How about you?  Open your journal and write about your journey.  What does the road of your life look like?  Have you kept your hands at ten and two the whole way, never changing course?  Or, are you like me, taking some sharp turns or totally jumping off track here and there?  How would you label your shifts?  Did you quit, or did you simply choose differently?  It is certainly not easy to admit that we quit, and we can go to great lengths to convince ourselves otherwise.  So, I commend you in advance if you really can own the regrets and other baggage that comes with such an admission.   Walk through all of your big life changes.  Then leave me a reply and let me know: are you a quitter?

Embrace yourself,

William

Are You in a Shadow Career?

DSC_1071Hello friend,

An English Literature professor who always believed he would write novels.  An assistant to a cutting-edge entrepreneur who, deep down, believes that she would be a brilliant entrepreneur herself, if only she dared.  A construction worker whose true calling is to be an architect.  These people have one thing in common: shadow careers.

In the pandemonium of raising two little kids in recent years, one of my deepest passions—reading books—has mostly fallen off of my schedule.  However, two of the titles I that I have finished—The War of Art and Turning Pro—are from the same author, the brilliant Steven Pressfield.  These books are directly addressed to artists of all kinds but very much apply to anyone trying to diligently pursue their true calling.  Pressfield says that we pursue a shadow calling when we are frightened of owning our true calling.  “That shadow career is a metaphor for our real career,” he writes.  “Its shape is similar, its contours feel tantalizingly the same.  But a shadow career entails no real risk.”

This idea of the shadow career really struck a chord in my soul as I read.  Something was stirring.  I knew that I had some internal exploring to do.  It was time to shine a light on the work that I have chosen to call my career and see if it really represents my true calling, or if it is a mere metaphor for my “real career” that I don’t yet have.  Am I in a shadow career?

I teach Tennis for a living.  I have done it full-time for about 12 years.  Prior to that, I bounced around in other pursuits that very much interested me but that ultimately did not sustain.  In my last life crisis moment—when I dropped out of my Ph.D. program and needed to figure out what was next—I kept asking myself what it was that I have always loved to do that also offered actual jobs.  Tennis was my answer.  I had taught it for fun here and there prior to that, never considering it an actual career path.  But at that life moment, there it was.  Something I love that also earns a paycheck—that sounded like the perfect combination.

What I loved about teaching Tennis—indeed, what I still love about it—is that I get to coach.  I get a wonderful boost from helping people take steps towards excellence and personal growth.  I like delivering both the information and the inspiration.  I love the process of figuring out which button needs to be pushed at just the right moment to guide the student to a breakthrough and newfound confidence.  Even as a graduate student, my absolute favorite part of the gig was teaching a couple of discussion classes per week with college freshmen.  I loved leading them and opening their minds to new ideas.  It was a rush.  It is still a rush.  Another thing I love about coaching Tennis is that I regularly get to share in the best part of someone’s day (or week).  I don’t know that many professions that get to say that, so I don’t take it lightly.  I also greatly appreciate that I get to share the first great love of my life—Tennis–with others.  And I get to contribute to people’s fitness and overall wellness, which is enormously gratifying to me.  As I reread this paragraph, I am thinking this definitely sounds like my true calling.  Right?

Maybe not.  Maybe it is really just a great shadow career.  In the months surrounding my 40th birthday—I’m honestly not sure if it was the milestone birthday bringing it on or just the fascinating, inspirational stuff I was reading at the time—I started to really take stock of my life and wonder what I really wanted to do with the rest of it?  Was I really living my calling, or had I missed some signs along the way that were pointing me right to it?  I truly believe that our inner voice—our soul or intuition or the still, small voice, whatever you want to call it—is always communicating with us but that we are often either not paying attention to it or are hearing it but willfully choosing to listen to our logic or our senses instead.  So I started really listening to that inner voice, started looking for its signs.  I noticed when something gave me a big rush or made me feel at home or tingly.  I sensed how reading about or talking to some people totally entranced me, how I was envious of their careers or how they were shaping their world.  And I owned my longings rather than dismissing them.

It was also around this time that I began what I call “The Journal Project”, which was a thorough review of the nearly 50 journals I have filled in my adult life.  The combination of paying closer attention to the inner voice and doing an in-depth life review was totally enlightening when it came to this idea of my true calling.  What I found in both sources was a deep desire to be a writer/teacher/speaker/personal growth catalyst.  Every time I came across an entry in my journals about feeling called to write, I would get tingly all over my body and my hair would stand on end.  The still, small voice was speaking to me.  And it spoke so plainly and so frequently that after awhile, I could not ignore it.  I knew I needed to begin to move in the direction of my dreams.  My first book idea became very clear to me, as did the necessity of starting this blog as soon as possible.  I wanted my mission of helping people to know themselves better and to live more authentically and happily to have a vehicle immediately, even if I didn’t directly have a career in it for a while.

So, what does this say about my beloved Tennis career?  To me it says that it is a shadow career, a metaphor for my “real” career as a writer/speaker/life coach.  It certainly shadows it in many ways: I get to teach and inspire people, to share in their highs and lows while all the time seeking to build their confidence and push them toward growth and excellence.  It is a great job for me; it really is.  But, as it turns out, it just may not be the job for me.

So, how about YOU?  Are you in a shadow career?  Open up your journal and write about your career.  What drew you to it?  Do those same qualities keep you there still?  Are you just collecting a check, or is your work fulfilling as well?  How much is your career tied into your identity?  Most importantly, what do you really want to do?  Is your current career a shadow of that dream job, or perhaps not even in the ballpark?  Be honest: do you think you will pursue your dream?  Why or why not?  Are you playing small because it is comfortable and what you know?  What if you were meant to play a bigger game?

This topic obviously has a built-in challenge: if you admit you are not doing what you really want, you are forced to justify why not and why you aren’t—right now—about to make a move to change that.  Leave me a reply and tell me if you are in a shadow career.  I want to know: are you ready to step into your purpose?  What’s your next move???

Let your light shine,

William