Manifesting my Desire

For about a year I’ve been quietly searching for a small company to work with applying my business skills. Not consult, not freelance, but be hired.

I’m involved in some hella cool projects.

Like RevolutionK.org and AThousandThingsToTalkAbout.com to name a few. I’ve been leading group online programs, mentoring people in designing their life and connecting cool people through ChoiceDriven.Life  I’m documenting my nomadic life and my newest adventure toward fostering teens. I’m having a blast, I feel like I’m on Purpose and being used up in all the right ways!  I want to play with these things and enjoy them, I don’t want to have my financial needs influence what or who I charge inside of this sort of play. I also don’t want to invest any more time hustling for my next freelance gig, I’d rather invest that time playing.

So, I’ve been searching for the perfect job.

I had very specific criteria like it will be part-time, remote, and my employer will be focused on a mission I can align with. It will not take over my life, I will still have time for all my hella cool projects. It will use the full range of my business skills without draining me energetically.

I started off researching companies I was attracted to, whose missions I admired, and sending my resume to only those companies. It was fun, finding passionate companies and explaining how I could help them have an impact by simply being me.

After about 8 months, having had no interviews, no bites, being told a bachelors is required, that they wanted a ‘fresh perspective’ or that I was ‘overqualified’ I got frustrated and forgot about my dream job and my criteria.I also redid my resume to look ‘younger’ and started searching job boards, applying to most any job that was remote and part time. None of this felt fun, or authentic. It was driven by fear (what if my lack of degree is finally catching up with me) and scarcity (what if there aren’t enough jobs).

I strive to operate from creation and design (antiSurvival mode), not fear and scarcity (Survival mode).

So I took a break from the hunt and re-aligned with my Intention for 2017 which was to Discern my Desires. I went back to my commitment and Purpose, narrowing my search to only those that satisfied my Desires. I created a resume I was proud of and only applied for organizations that I could confirm fit my criteria.

Then, earlier this month, I discovered that I needed the stability of a job to begin down the path to foster and that really ignited my fire.

I’m sure you guessed it – it all paid off!

A week after the foster info session I found an opening with a yoga institute out of California. Today was my first day as their Business Manager. It’s remote, part-time and the entire team is super committed to their mission which I totally align with. Even their sales philosophy mirrors my own which is contrary to industry standards. I’ll be using a wide breadth of my business background with full flexibility in schedule. It’s exactly what I was asking for!

I’m beyond stoked to play with this new team AND have the freedom to keep playing with all of my hella cool projects including having the bandwidth to foster when the time comes.

This sort of patience and commitment to my own desires – this is not typical of me. It really is a reflection of the growth and evolution I’ve experienced and a manifestation of my Intention for 2017. So I’m taking my own advice and CELEBRATING this win!

The Newest Adventure

Adventure can describe a lot of different scenarios.

For a long time, the Adventures of Sunni involved me honing my intellect and leapfrogging my way up the corporate ladder.

For the past three years, Adventure has involved me living a nomadic lifestyle, living out of my suitcase traveling around the world.

For the past 6 months, Adventure has involved me wandering around the US on an endless road trip.

Now, it’s time to embark on a new type of Adventure – creating a family.

I have returned to my childhood home, while I will always be a traveler my nomading days are behind me. My new Adventure is focused on becoming a foster parent to teenagers. This is no small task. The system looks for stability in foster parents and a nomadic lifestyle is not that. So I will spend the next 18 months returning to a more traditional lifestyle, mentoring foster kids, completing classes and generally proving my ability to be stable and become responsible for kids.

I have wanted to foster for as long as I can remember. Specifically teens as they are an often neglected demographic and I really enjoy them. I’ve been mentoring teens as they age out of foster care for about 5 years and I’m ready to go deeper, get closer and work with them younger.

Lately, much of my time has been invested in creating online group programs and working with folks 1:1 as an Intuitive Strategist. I guide my clients in designing a life they love through the practical application of spiritual principles. It has been so fulfilling and rewarding to see adults discover their own power and really define their own path through life. I am  eager to take this to the next level in working with teens.

An element of this new Adventure that is really exciting for me is that I’m not alone. Kirk is very much onboard and we are in this together, we are ready to start a family together, in our own way. I’m grateful for his partnership as patience is going to be needed and that is something he excels at far more than I. Not only in working with the kids but in the steps required to get us to that point, groundwork must be laid and of course, I want it now! 🙂

I’ll share more about the experience of shifting modes and entering the system to foster as things unfold.

Freedom from Obligation

A theme that’s been emerging in my world is the difference between Obligation and Commitment. For some people, they may be synonyms, but to me, they definitely are not. I’ve been doing one of my word studies to dig in and get them clear for myself.

com·mit·ment noun
the state or a quality of choosing to be dedicated to a cause

ob·li·ga·tion noun a course of action to which a person is morally or legally bound

 There’s one keyword that delineates them, to me.

Choice.

The more I dig into the etymology, history and meanings of the words, to me, commitment is choosing to bind yourself to something/someone and obligation is a thrust upon you and often feels like a burden.

This is important because I look at my life through the lens of choices.

Whenever I begin to feel obligated to something I pause to check in to see, is there anything about this ‘thing’ that I’m actually committed to? Can I connect to that commitment strongly enough that the feeling of burden lifts?

I find when I’m doing something out of obligation my heart isn’t in it, whereas if I can do it out of a commitment, it’s all heart.

One example is that I often skip buying presents for my friends on their birthday. But I’m known to randomly send gifts, cards etc when I feel inspired. I’m committed that they feel loved, but not obligated to do it in any particular way or on any specific timeline.

A small shift perspective can have a huge impact.

Another example. In March 2017 I’d been living a nomadic life for a couple of years and was starting to feel a bit like a fraud because I’d been in one place, my hometown no less, for several months. I was feeling obligated as a nomad to get back on the road and really pushing myself to make this happen. Funny thing is, when I related to it that way, as an obligation, I wasn’t able to get any traction. Everything I had planned didn’t come to fruition. This all became super clear when, three days before I was scheduled to finally leave town and go to Europe, My Guy experienced a major tragedy in his family. He said to me ‘don’t feel obligated to stay behind, you can go Europe‘ and my first thought was ‘hell no! I’m committed to you, I’m staying!‘.

That same conversation taught me another lesson, about my commitment to myself. Traveling and nomading is not an obligation – I chose this life and if it stops feeling juicy and awesome, if it starts feeling like a burden, then I will choose a different life. Once I again started relating to my lifestyle as a choice and commitment rather than a burden and obligation things started magically falling into place. By June 2017 I was back to traveling in a new and exciting way.

I wrote about Priorities and it’s still totally true. I continue to evolve and this conversation of Obligation and Commitment is just another layer to the onion of this round of evolution. My hope is that by sharing it with you, seeing my journey, will allow you to more deeply connect with your own.

Does this relationship between Obligation and Commitment ring true for you?

Are there things you’re doing out of Obligation that you can look for what you’re Committed to as a way to shift your relationship?

 

One scary moment

I was at a networking event in Sarasota last week, sharing with someone about my nomadic lifestyle, and their response was ‘that is really courageous‘. I said ‘thanks‘, because I wasn’t sure what else to say. My life doesn’t usually occur as ‘courageous’ to me so my first inclination is to blow off this sort of comment. But when someone points it out, especially a stranger, I’m reminded that it really is, courageous.

I love my life. I very intentionally created it to be what it is. And, the way I live is very far outside of the social norms and many people don’t understand it and it often makes people uncomfortable. There are plenty of times where it would be far easier to live a more ‘normal’ life. In fact, every time I choose to go deeper into this nomadic life, I become masterful at psyching myself out, obsessing and worrying about it in advance, but then, once it’s actually happening I’m totally chill.

I was reminded of reminded of this video of Will Smith speaking to a group of students, he says “The point of maximum danger is the point of minimum fear”. This is so true! The time I’m obsessively worrying and stressing, nothing is actually happening that puts me in any danger or risk, I’m just planning, thinking about something (usually a trip or lifestyle change). Then, when the thing is actually happening, when there is some potential risk of all those things I was worrying about coming true, in the moment I’m not worried or stressed anymore.

How awesome would it be if I could discover the secret to skipping the step where I experience worry and fear?

In the movie The Bridge of Spies (great movie by the way) Tom Hanks plays a lawyer representing an accused spy, throughout the movie the lawyer is continually asking the spy if he’s worried and every time the spy responds with ‘would it help?‘. To which the lawyer always ponders and responds ‘no, I suppose it wouldn’t‘.

While I haven’t reached the point of enlightenment where I can just not worry, I can adopt the lesson from this book I recently listened to (amusing read by the way):

“I was a shy little girl and an only child, so on vacations, I was usually playing alone, too afraid to go up to the happy groups of kids and introduce myself. Finally, on one vacation, my mom asked me which I’d rather have: a vacation with no friends, or one scary moment. So I gathered up all of my courage, and swam over to the kids, and there was one scary moment . . . and then I had friends for the first time on vacation. After that, one scary moment became something I was always willing to have in exchange for the possible payoff. I became a girl who knew how to take a deep breath, suck it up, and walk into any room by herself.”

So, I guess I do live a pretty courageous life. I take the actions in the face of that fear, worry, anxiety etc. because I know that most people regret the things the didn’t do, but rarely the things they did do.

I use the hashtag #adventuresofSunni to remind myself, daily, that my life is one big adventure and there’s nowhere to ‘get’ only the adventure happening right now.

You have your own adventure. The thing you secretly dream about, worry about and perhaps haven’t yet taken action to make come true. It could be creating a digital nomad lifestyle, applying for a promotion, buying a farm, putting your jewelry hobby on Etsy. Whatever the thing is. I encourage you to focus on the adventure that is yours, dance with life, play with the universe.

Ask yourself  ‘would it help?’ and remind yourself that it’s just ‘one scary moment’, and then….jump!

Words are Magical

Have you ever considered just how subjective language is?

They’re simply sounds we make. As a society we have all agreed that specific sounds represent specific things.

It’s magic really.

For example, take the word couch


couch   kouCH/   noun
1. a long upholstered piece of furniture for several people to sit on.


It could also be called a sofa, if it’s smaller it may be called a love seat and the larger variety are sometimes called sectionals. Which one is correct? Which one applies when?

It gets even more complicated when you look at the full definition for ‘couch’ as it can also be a verb:


couch   kouCH/   verb
1. express (something) in language of a specified style.
2. lie down.


And this is a simple example!

It gets much more complex when you look at the definition of a word that represents something unseen like love or hate.

There are over 470,000 entries in the latest addition of Webster’s Dictionary.

So many options available to us, and yet, we collectively seem to gravitate toward the same subset over and over. So much of the available vocabulary goes unused in everyday conversation. This points to something…with so many words available and underutilized it would also seem that we often settle for using a word that doesn’t fully embody our intention. We fail to take the time to find the exact, specific word to represent our thoughts, feelings or intentions. I’ve discovered a significant value in taking the time to utilize the precise appropriate word, in some situations.

My first exposure to the importance of words came from Mom. I was homeschooled and Mom often made up games to help us learn, keep in mind this was in the 80’s before the internet was at our fingertips. One of my favorite games was called Synonym Gin, she wrote synonyms on playing cards and we had to collect four to get Gin and win. I remember being enthralled by how there could be so many ways to say the same thing. It was around this time that we read Julie of the Wolves, I learned that in the Eskimo’s language of Inuit there are nearly 300 words to describe what we have only 1 word for – snow. This fascinated me.

The actual game from my childhood. Mom keeps everything.

Later in my early twenties, I was exposed to the fictional society described in The Giver by Lois Lowry. The society often requests precision of language from its members. They go so far as to eradicate broad words to describe emotion. Upon reading this I found myself going back to the synonym groupings of my childhood and looking them up in a dictionary, wanting to understand the nuances, to be precise with my language.

More recently I participated in a self-development course that is fond of word studies, not only looking up a word but also exploring the etymology, the history of the word. In the course a single definition is reached, agreed upon and used for the rest of the course to ensure a common understanding. This idea of ‘redefinition’ feels juicy to me, like I’m developing a personal relationship to a word. Doing this sort of study creates a profound awareness of how often things are only true because we agree they’re true.

Word study is something I often incorporate into my own process for understanding new concepts. It’s also become integral to my process for intentionally designing my world. I did a word study on habit versus ritual when wanting to be sure I was relating to my grounding process appropriately – it’s a ritual, not a habit – and relating to it that way empowers me. I did a word study when writing my Partner a love letter, I wanted to be sure I used specific, intentional words to describe my thoughts about how our relationship developed over the previous year. I started with impressed, after research I found amazed and confounded to be most accurate.

I encourage my clients to play with what thrills them, I don’t believe in most one-size-fits all solutions, I’ll share what I do to give you a starting point just know that there’s no right way to do this, play with what works for you.

Sometimes I use an actual book, but usually I use the internet. I begin by looking a word up in a thesaurus, I’ll check to see if any of the synonyms seem to better fit my need, looking all of the contenders up in the dictionary. Sometimes I’ll look up key words from the definition as well.

Once I land on what seems to be an accurate word to use I will google it and its etymology. Sometimes when I understand the history of a word it no longer fits. For example, the word habit originally referred to garments and shifted to refer to a behavior pattern when they became heavily associated with the garments worn by clergy which wore the same garment daily for life. Now that I have a more intimate relationship with the word habit I recognize that most things I used to relate to as habits are actually practices.

Sometimes I pull different definitions together and create my own, pulling from that ‘redefinition’ idea. Sometimes I learn that there simply is not one word to exactly describe my thought, feeling, etc which is empowering in its own way.

There’s something about this process, the research, that gives me time and space to really consider something and be deliberate about how I relate to a thing, an intention, emotion etc. This practice has me really check in with myself, what exactly is it that I want to communicate? I often do this even if I’m only communicating to the various parts of myself, for an internal dialog.

I believe words are incredibly powerful. They carry weight. The history and meaning of a word impact how it is received. Using the exact correct word not only allows you to be intentional and become more aware of your thoughts and intentions, it conveys to others that you care enough to do so.

This practice of word study shows up often in my life and my work. I already gave you the example of writing a love letter to my Partner and examining my daily routine. It also served me when writing about the Victim vs Victor conversation, over use of the word feel and my examination of the concept of Ego. Each new year I craft my annual intention, my declaration to the universe of what I want for myself in my life over the coming year and word study plays a critical part in this process as well.

Where could intentional use of language be applied in your world?

Note:
As with all things, moderation is needed. There are many times where it is far more valuable for me to ‘talk it out’ than to go off and do a word study. Take care to use a practice like this as a way to deepen your relationship and self awareness – not to hide out or delay action.

The Truth is not True

Very few things I say are true….I say this to my clients all of the time.

All.
The.
Time.

Most of what I say is one possible version of the truth. If my version of the truth leaves you feeling empowered, try it on, see if it’s true for you too. If not, dismiss it and move on.

Sometimes the things I say seem outrageous to people. The thing to keep in mind is perspective, it’s all relative.

Many of the concepts we discuss and relate to as truth, are actually opinion. But people often aren’t honest about this, perhaps they aren’t even aware. So they say something, relating to it as an empirical truth, and should someone disagree with them, they get all riled up, almost as if they were called a liar. When it’s all actually a difference of opinions.

If we all get super authentic, with ourselves and others, about when we are speaking truth versus opinion, conversation becomes a lot more about understanding each other than being ‘right’.

I know, this is all very conceptual, allow me to make it real.

Romance. This is a loaded term and quite literally means something different to every single human being based on their life experience. Sure, we can look up the dictionary definition, do a word study, but as humans we add our own expectations based on our life experience, culture, family dynamic etc. So let’s use a personal example:

I say to my partner ‘you’re not romantic enough!
They reply ‘how can you say that, I’m very romantic!

It’s easy to predict that what comes next is an argument, perhaps even a fight reviewing past romantic actions and intentions.

Me: You haven’t taken me on a date in months.
Them: What?!? We went out just last week!
Me: When?
Them: Dinner and movie last Friday.
Me: We do that every week, that’s not a date!
Them: I wore cologne, nice shoes, opened the car door for you, that was a date.

At its root, the fight is about us trying to convince each other of who is right about what romance is. I want surprise, variety and intimacy. My partner wants dependability and intention. We’re not actually having a conversation about what romance is though, instead we’re debating if romance is present in our relationship….We’re having the wrong conversation. What resolution could really come from that? We’ll never agree if we’re working with different definitions.

Now, if I started the conversation with ‘you’re not being romantic by my definition’ or better yet, ‘how do you define romance, babe?’. This now allows for us to have a conversation about how we each define romance and what expectations we have of our relationship. It sets an entirely different context for what conversation will ensue.

Here’s why I think this concept is important to consider and try on in your life.

It is SUPER easy to accept an opinion as truth allowing opinion to become a steadfast rule. When you do that, you start to make decisions based on that truth/rule being unshakeable.

You can pick different rules to play by; really, you can! Thought Leaders, Disruptors and Change Makers do this regularly.

Just think about it, at one point…

  • it was ‘true’ that the darker a person’s skin the more inferior they were
  • there was a ‘rule’ that women couldn’t do the same job as men
  • it was ‘true’ that marriage must be between a man and woman
  • it was ‘true’ that unwed women were unfit to be mothers and their babies were forcibly taken from them
  • once upon a time there was a ‘rule’ that women must wear a dress with hosiery.

Somewhere along the line a brave person realized that these aren’t TRUE, they’re opinions and they didn’t serve everyone. Like Dr. Martin Luther King, daring to challenge the status quo / truth / rule around race. This new version of reality we live in, where there is intended equality regardless of race, it isn’t technically any more true than the version from the 50’s when there were separate water fountains. However, as a society we have collectively chosen to embrace a more empowering truth.

I talk a lot about living in AntiSurvival Mode, living proactively, or living an intentionally designed life. Doing this requires that you accept that your truth is simply one version of the truth. Other versions are just as valid.

Take time to consider the other versions of the truth, is there any power available to you, your life, your world, your decisions, if you accept another version as true?

For many people the foundational root to many of their ‘truths’ lie in dogma and religion. I have the utmost respect for faith and no desire to shake or rattle yours. And, I think that for many this is an excellent place to start. I suggest the book Conversations with God as a great starting point for discovering some new potential truths around the Bible.

I consistently find new truths and rules in my own world that I didn’t even realize I was honoring. Most recently I realized that I was operating as if Ego was a bad thing. This ‘truth’ had me feeling conflicted, restricted, disempowered and confused. There were things I felt, things I wanted to do, good things, that felt driven by Ego, which must then make them bad… I started to really look at my relationship to Ego, the ‘truths’ I saw around it, an inquiry into my relationship to it. I now have a totally different ‘truth’ around Ego, I see it as a guide, pushing me into situations for growth (read more here).

A key foundation for living in AntiSurvival Mode, for intentionally designing creating a life you love, is a willingness to consider that very few things you, or anyone, says are ever true.

Well, at least that’s my truth (^_-)

Change your reputation in 5 steps

No matter what you think of yourself, part of your identity is how others think of you. Their opinions and thoughts of you influence how they relate to you, what they say about you, what connections they offer etc. This isn’t new information. What may be a new concept, however, is that you have the power to shift how they think of you. With a bit of intentionality and time, you can shift this in five steps, here’s how.

1 – Get clarity on how you’re seen now

The easiest way to do this is quite simple. Ask. Ask as many people as you can to describe you in five words. To get a really great holistic view look to ask someone from each area of your life, or community that you’re a part of. I asked someone from each of these groups : siblings, parents, gal pals, co-workers, gym buddies, neighborhood buddies, church pals, social media.

Keep in mind that they’ll likely share the positive things with you, it’s rare to have a friend, even more so an acquaintance, that will actually be straight and share negative impressions with you. The first thing you can do to combat this is to be clear that you want honesty, not flattery. Additionally, you may also look for the more blunt and honest people in your world and ask them what five words they often hear others use to describe you, good, bad and neutral.

The words I got the most often were: Aggressive, Smiling, Intelligent, Caring and Bossy/Pushy.

2 – Decide how you want to be seen going forward.

Take your time with this. Be intentional. Choose five words that you want to embody. I sat down with a thesaurus, dictionary and the internet and really looked at the definitions, etymology (history) and various associations with words. Once I found a word I pulled synonyms and definitions together to create my own – what I mean by that word.

Here are the five I chose:

Catalyst: a person or thing that precipitates an event or change; a person whose talk, enthusiasm, or energy causes others to be more friendly, enthusiastic or energetic.

Fun: inspiring enjoyment or playfulness. providing mirth.

Tenacious: holding fast, persistent, holding together, stubborn, cohesive, not easily pulled asunder; tough.

Thoughtful: showing consideration for others; manifesting careful thought; mindful.

Smart: quick in action, ready mental capability; clever, witty or readily effective, dashingly or impressively neat or trim in appearance, socially elegant, sophisticated, saucy, pert.

3 – Embody this new you.

This can be the hardest part. Especially if you think that you’re already some of these words. For example, I felt that I was already tenacious, but that it was being interpreted as bossy/pushy. So I had to spend time really looking at what it would take to have my commitment to a result show through, rather than bossiness or forcing something.

Whenever I found myself feeling stressed, annoyed, or under pressure and returned to these words, as a grounding point, as my commitment.

4 – Create a structure to remind yourself of what you’re committed to.

These words became a bit of a mantra for me. I am a Catalyst. I am Fun. I am Tenacious. I am Thoughtful. I am Smart. And, life happens and it can be super easy to forget this type of project. So create some structure to support your future self in success.

Print the words/definitions out and post them in a prominent spot in your environment. Move them every few weeks too, so they don’t begin to blend in and become part of the landscape. I started with them on my fridge and over the course of the year they lived on my bathroom mirror, next to my bed, next to my computer screen, over my kitchen sink, in my car, you get the idea. I also created a small image to make the screensaver on my phone as well as the desktop background on my computer.

5 – Check in with others to see how you’re doing.

After the initial inquiry to my friends of 5 words, they think of related to me. I made it a practice to check in every 4-5 months. What was interesting for me is that the second time I asked, people were a lot more likely to share words that could be perceived as less flattering.

I didn’t say it would be easy, but it is fairly simple.

I never quite got to where everyone always related to me as my five words. I did get to where it was close: Transformer. Fun. Tenacious. Compassionate. Smart.

The bigger impact I see, now that it’s been a few years and I have the benefit of hindsight, is how I think of myself. I now know that I have the power to shift not only how I see myself, but also how others see me. This is just one element to designing my life, creating my world, ensuring that I get to live the life of my dreams.

What are your five words?