A little over two years ago, I publicly began to share a bit about my writing journey. I embarked on an entirely different career while maintain my day job as a clinical social worker. I wasn't sure how to write anything for a national platform. I didn't have a literary agent, a publishing contract, any type of media connections or a marketing background. I simply wanted to share my story and that of other widows in the hopes that they would feel less alone. I did one blind entry about gratitude on The Huffington Post and to my surprise, they published it. They were not the only major company to open their arms to me.
What followed in the past two-and-a-half years is nothing short of phenomenal. I became friends with Dr. Deepak Chopra, who did the cover blurb for my book, A Widow's Guide to Healing, and I now contribute to Maria Shriver's platform, and she also did a cover blurb. In addition, I was interviewed by Katie Couric and American Greetings. My story was on the USA Today website, and I found myself at ABC's headquarters doing a live hour long Twitter chat. Most recently, I was at the United Nations. By the way, Deepak did not introduce me to any of these individuals, nor, did a publicity team garner this support. Things weren't always cheerful, and my feelings were hurt, but I remain grateful for this journey.
The question I am most asked is this: How did I manage this on my own?
Many of the practices I developed evolved as my own writing / publishing process grew. However, I can share with you this -- I know that because I practiced what I call I.L.L.U.M.I.N.A.T.E. this 10-step program which I developed over time, my world is richer and brighter. These practices aren't exclusive to the publishing world. Anyone who is interested in creating more abundance can integrate these steps.
Imagination. Imagination is what fuels inventors, creative thinkers, writers, such as E.B. White and others. We use our imagination when we read novels, and children use it in their play. People who can tap into their imagination are often able to use it as an asset because they can see beyond the physical. Walk into any art museum and you will see imagination at play and work. These are the people who are literally thinking "outside of the box."
Sometimes, you will hear an over-achiever describe their accomplishment as just a "daydream." This means the outcome was a result of imagination.
Imagination also means creating a bright vision for your future.
Listen. Listen to others and to yourself. Too often people are focused on pitching the next idea, but success is often dependent on the one's ability to engage in deep listening. The only purpose of deep listening is to gain understanding. Even if there is something non-factual being said, there will be time to correct it, but for now, just engage in this practice. The other person recognizes their perception is being heard. This active listening can deepen a relationship and lead to a rewarding future.
Learn. Be willing to be a "student" of life. Others and circumstances have a great deal to teach us if we are willing to listen and then learn. Learning and listening are the right and left hands that create affluent actions.
One's limited view and mindset can constrict one's wealth potential. We often hear the phrase, "Remain open" but what does this really mean and why is it important? If we are not open we have difficulty learning new concepts.
Judgments cause our minds to close. We shut down and are no longer able to receive new information. Successful people are always looking to expand their depth of knowledge and learning. In other words, Openness creates opportunities
Unbounded Potential. We all have unlimited potential and accessing it is the key to abundance. Too often people don't reach the next step in their plan because they limit their beliefs/ thoughts. This self-imposed limited framework can be damaging. Recognizing unbounded potential is the foundation to achieve lies within removes the number one obstacle- yourself. Getting out of your own way clears the path towards affluence.
Mindfulness. Mindfulness can mean a multitude of things. Meditation, yoga, prayer, reflective thinking are some of the common elements of the mindful life. For myself, I began a daily morning meditation practice which I know changed my life. Once you understand the power of your unbounded potential it will facilitate your thinking and mindset.
Think of unbounded potential as the foundation for your thoughts, and all actions (such as mindfulness), stem from this. When we have a mindset of mindfulness, we will be guided to build a life that even in unsteady times is reflective of inner- strength.
Inspire. Personal and world events can largely impact our actions. People can have the same effect. Who and what we look to for inspiration largely influences our wealth.
For myself, I chose mentors. When it came to running, I chose Coach Doug Goodhue. I had never run a marathon before, but in my mid-thirties, I decided to make this my goal. I joined a running group and found that a coach twice my age became my mentor and inspiration. I wasn't able to mimic everything he did but I closely followed his advice and remembered that he began running after turning 40 and has become a national figure.
When we are lacking inspiration, it might be because we need to renew ourselves. Working non- stop might be rewarded with a handsome paycheck but it can often lead to burnout and costly mistakes. Taking time away from work doesn't harm performance. It can do just the opposite and improve results. Creating balance is valuable.
Nurture. What we nurture in our minds, home, and work can impact our success. Part of cultivating a healthy life means taking care of body and spirit. Self-care can sound counter-intuitive in this performance driver world; however, how you present yourself to others either in writing, in person, or on the phone matters. If you are lacking sleep and always hurried, it shows. What do you nurture in yourself will reflect outwardly to others.
Awareness. Developing an awareness of how our past and present thoughts can impact our actions is equally important. Our own thinking can interfere with abundance. Developing an acute sense of awareness makes one available for abundance. When you become aware of something, you can change it.
Truth. Truth is not for the faint of heart. Being honest about your own deficits, situation and past is an essential part of living the prosperous life.Telling yourself half- truths will result in poor performance. Whenever you say, "it is only" then you are beginning to shade the truth.
Truth and passion support each other. They are the two hands which facilitate movement towards abundance. Honestly ask yourself: How often are you completely transparent with yourself? What is your Truth? What do you echo?
Engage. When we follow and integrate the first 8 steps we will be ready to engage in a life of abundant living. With abundance comes freedom -- intellectual, financial, emotional, spiritual. We are no longer constricted by our blind spots. When we understand our unbounded potential, for example, we can see things in a new light our interpersonal relationships are impacted.
It is still important to keep some things in mind. Who we interact with is just as important as what emotions we engage with on a daily basis. Emotions are the muscles that power these conversations we have with others and ourselves.