The Power of Living and Breathing Your True Nature

This morning as I begin to write, much of my decision is based on something I have just read. "A fish cannot drown in water, a bird does not fall in air. Each creature must live in his own nature." - Mechthild of Magdeburg

Being a human being is a tricky science. Oftentimes, I've thought it would be quite amazing to be a dog or a cat. From the time they are born, they are certain of their roles in the world. They are also given the ability to focus on the moment, being completely present in the here and now. This is probably why they are such loyal and kind friends. They can go confidently into their days knowing that they will make it through and they are just perfect in their four-legged nature.

We human beings on the other hand are so very complex. We are given numerous choices in life and forced to make extremely difficult decisions each and every day. According to poet and author Mark Nepo, our most intense challenges come when we fight against our own unique natures. He shares that his mother wanted for him to be a lawyer, while his father wanted him to be an architect. He writes in The Book of Awakening, "Somehow I knew I needed to be a poet; something in it brought me alive."

In reading this passage today, I realize that writing is the thing that makes me feel oh so alive. Could it be that this is what I am meant to do for the rest of my days? I may have concluded this long ago, but the responsibility that comes with admitting our purpose on Planet Earth can be a bit overwhelming. Once we admit our truth, steps have to be taken. A great idea only becomes an innovation after the hard work is done, which is why so many projects collect cobwebs in the attic of our self-imposed limitations.

Could it be that the reason for humanity's confusion is that we simply don't listen to the voice within and fight our true natures? Could it be that our fear of failure, disappointment, and hard work leads us down the winding path of disease, frustration, and confusion?

I find children utterly amazing. For the most part, they are like cats and dogs. They are in the moment; wide eyed and truly inspired by the world around them. Until we troubled and ultra-confused adults get a hold of them and taint them with our expectations, frustrations, biases, and ugly baggage, children are free to be amazing and true. That is why they make us smile and giggle until tears spring from our eyes.

Is it possible that one of the worst and most destructive lessons growing adults learn is that they must conform to some strange sense of propriety or norm? It is more than possible that because we are taught to limit our dreams...to fear risk...there are far less innovators and a lot more bored and frustrated individuals on the planet.

Is there any area in your life that you need to be more authentic? Are there steps you need to take to embrace what you know you are meant to accomplish in your lifetime?

"When one performs his or her prescribed duty only because it ought to be done...is said to be in the mode of goodness," says the Gita. "It is better to engage in one's own occupation (or the thing they are meant to do on the planet), even though one may perform it imperfectly, than to accept another's occupation and perform it perfectly."

In other words, be true to who you are and what makes you tick...and then see how it infuses your bones with life!

Wishing you a beautiful Friday!

I Quit My Job To Travel the World!

By Angela M. Petitt

“Are you crazy?”
“How can you afford that?”
“What do you mean you want to quit?”
“We are in a recession!!”
“Did you win the lottery?”
“That is a bold move!!” 
"Do you really have the guts and finances to do that?”
“Can you live without a paycheck?  Do you really want to?”

Those were the reactions I got when I mentioned my plans to quit my job during the throes of the recession to my family and friends.  Although they meant well, I just felt that there was more to life than a winning corporate existence.  Moreover, life is just too short to not do what you want to do.  So, my response to them was “If not now, when?” I knew that even with a successful career in information technology and an MBA, I wanted more…I wanted freedom!

Wheels up!!
Hello…My name is Angela Petitt and I am a 44 year old native Houstonian.  During the recession in August 2009, I took a bold step of faith - I quit my corporate IT job to travel the world.  In spite of the concerns and economic climate, I knew I had to make a bold move in order to make change to see my dreams come true. Yes, I know that this is something that Europeans or young adult backpackers do...not an established over 40 professional with a winning corporate resume.  But in the words of author Jim Rohn, “Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.”

Making the decision to opt-out of corporate America for a while was the first step in my journey. The notion of quitting was several years in the making, being fueled more and more every time I went on vacation. When I came to the realization that I really wanted to see the world and was ready to move beyond the cubicle, I knew it was time to make a change.

As a single professional, I wanted my sabbatical to be different.  I did not want to sell anything to make it happen. So in my planning, I made sure I had enough to cover my mortgage, car, expenses for my teenage nephew, and other responsibilities.  I wanted my sabbatical to be a true rest from the ordinary and an escape to the extraordinary. For me, that meant living life to the fullest and making time to do the things that I enjoy.  Actually, when I made the final decision to quit and put in my resignation, I really had no clue as to what was next. But, a few days after my last day at work, I was on a plane going to Italy!  And, I haven’t looked back!  It seemed like once the decision was made, opportunities opened up!

Initially, my sabbatical was only going to be 6 months. Then, that turned into 10 months and now it has been 2 1/2 years and counting.  I have flown a Cessna airplane, learned (ok, learning) to play golf, attempted horseback riding - twice, joined day time bible studies, sharpened my photography skills, and have volunteered in my community.  I even returned to school and am pursuing my Doctorate in Organizational Leadership.

Beyond my wildest dreams, I never imagined that I would embark on a different trip almost every month!!  It has been an amazing sabbatical!!  My travels have led me to awe inspiring destinations such as China, Siberia, Egypt, Israel, Colombia, Panama, Honduras and many other exciting places. I have zip lined in Cabo, narrowly escaped the earthquake in Japan, went cave diving in Punta Cana, played with monkeys in Roatan, glared into the mouth of a steamy volcano in Nicaragua, stared in amazement at the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, got caught in a downpour atop the Acropolis in Athens - twice, received a huge surprise bouquet of flowers from an admirer in Italy, and had many other awe inspiring experiences.  I visited the 30th country of my sabbatical on a Mediterranean cruise visiting Croatia for the first time.  By the way, Croatia is absolutely beautiful!!
In addition to my travel adventures, I was presented with the 2009 WHS Wall of Honor Service and Leadership award by my alma mater, recently featured in ESSENCE magazine as a "Power Player!", and was invited as aguest speaker for the national Meet Plan Go! Career BreakTravel conference that inspires others in their quest for sabbaticals and extended travel.

So yes, I learned to live without a paycheck and budget accordingly. Recently, I read that uncertainty isn’t a cost but a catalyst for creating a better future.  I can attest to the truth of that as it captures the heart of my journey.  Granted, it has indeed been scary at times and several unexpected things happened. But, it has been worth taking a chance on me rather than continuing on in the ordinary daily grind. I have no regrets.

Since starting my sabbatical journey, I have grown in courage, faith, confidence, and wisdom.  More importantly, I have come to understand my God given uniqueness and that life is truly precious and too short to waste. Furthermore, my time away has instilled in me the renewed desire not to merely survive, but to authentically thrive!

With hopes of inspiring other people to be bold and go for their dreams, I have been blogging (and speaking) about my experiences (good, bad, and otherwise) at http://www. sabbaticalscapes.com/. One thing for sure - "with God ALL things are possible!"  Where will your dreams take you?

"Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step." - Martin Luther King Jr.
Now that is BOLD living!


Learn more about Angela's Journey in the following video!

A New Approach to Mondays

I've been reading a lot lately the things that make people truly happy. And here is some of what studies & experts on happiness have found to be true:

  • Finishing a project
  • Attaining a goal
  • Doing something nice for someone
  • Transforming a room, yard, or space from cluttered and messy to organized and clean
  • Going to bed knowing that one did his or her best throughout the day
  • The feeling of endorphines racing though one's body after a hard workout
  • Reaching the finish line during a marathon or race
  • Leaving a space/room more beautiful than when you arrived
  • Connecting with those you love and knowing they are safe and sound
  • Listening to someone carefully & letting them know their words are important
  • Raising a child & knowing that one did his or her best to raise them
  • Witnessing the accomplishments of your children

The list could go on and on, but it is important to notice that the things that offer you and I the most joy and satisfaction are the things that include some degree of hard work, goal attainment and the consideration of others. Notice that things like laziness, lack of progress, and inactivitiy don't make the list.

Monday is a day in which we can dive into the week and make this life worth living. It is the springboard from which amazing things can be born.

Those who suffer are those without a reason, without passion, and without a concern for his or her neighbors.

Instead of looking at Monday as a curse -- see it as an opportunity -- wish for more Mondays and more new opportunities.

Wishing you an amazing Monday!!!

"Make it a masterpiece,"  said the late John Wooden, one of my mentors, once exclaimed with a smile on his face when I attended a basketball camp in Huntington Beach, California.

- Post by Jen Engevik of Project BE Bold

The Spring and Hope - March 29, 2010

"Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up." - Anne Lamott

Spring has sprung - offering us the ability to clean house. We can dive inside and clean out the cobwebs that keep us from smiling more often, acheiving our dreams and touching lives.

Make hope a cornerstone of your life and then begin to transform your hopes into reality. All it takes is showing up and doing your work.

Project for the Day:  Name the things that are holding you back from going for a dream. Once you have identified them, analyze each "thing" and then create action items for working around them.

-Team Project Be Bold

Focus & Determination - March 12, 2010

The beauty of this moment is that we can discard everything from the past and let the future worry about itself while we dive into our capabilities -- here and now.

The secret to success is a single minded focus. Dare not to waste time and energy by:

1. Focusing on what you need to do in 5 min., 10 min., 1 hour, 1 day, 1 month. This takes away from the quality of your work at hand.

2. Jumping from project to project. This increases your chance of error and also takes away from the quality of your work at hand. Set a time frame for each project - even if it is five or ten minutes of 100%  focus before jumping to another task.

3. Listening to negative thought that tells you that you are doing a sub-par job. Pour your passion & soul into your work...not your unfounded fears!

Remember that you are it! You are the hero you have been looking for all of your life. This doesn't mean that you need to be egotistical about who you are and your capabilities, but rather, be thankful!! Thank the universe for your ability to think, to envision, to create and be bold.

The difference between those who succeed and those who "dream" of succeeding is this: those who succeed have a single focus and work away without the thought of what they will gain out of it. And before they know it, they have created their very own masterpiece that they can share with the world for years to come.

- Jen of Project Be Bold

Stroke of Magic- February 11, 2010

"If tomorrow morning by some stroke of magic every dazed and benighted soul woke up with the power to take the first step toward pursuing his or her dreams, every shrink in the directory would be out of business. Prisons would stand empty. The alcohol and tobacco industries would collapse, along with junk food, cosmetic surgery, and infotainment businesses, not to mention pharmaceutical  companies, hospitals, and the medical profession from top to bottom. Domestic abuse would become extinct,  as would addiction, obesity, migraine headaches, road rage, and dandruff."

-Writes Steven Pressfield in The War of Art

Now go make this day a masterpiece...