Sunday, April 7th, 2013 at
If you’ve been following my recent posts, you will recall that I started a new job this past week in upstate New York after relocating from Mississippi, where I have lived for the past 8 years. You can imagine that taking the leap of faith involved in moving 20+ hours North from our friends and loved ones was rather nerve wracking. But I vowed to follow the advise I’ve been offering on Chasing Your Fire about pursuing your passion and doing the brave thing, so I closed my eyes and prayed for a soft landing on the other side.
Reflecting on this past week, I am thrilled to report that embarking on this adventure is undoubtedly one of the best decisions that I have made in a really, really long time. Again life proved to me how important it is to move beyond your comfort zone. Despite my Southern friends’ warnings about the coldness of “Northern folk,” I have only met absolutely wonderful, genuine people who have welcomed me sincerely and warmly at every opportunity. As I write this, I feel more at home, invigorated, and happy than I have in a long time.
This experience has reminded me how beautiful and wonderfully unpredictable life is. As we close one chapter of our lives (whatever that might look like), a next chapter is always waiting, ready to be discovered. Like a gripping novel, if we keep flipping the pages, we’ll find that so many exciting, wonderful details of our stories are yet to unfold.
So this week I want to pose you with a challenge. There is an activity often used in counseling, called, “My Life As A Book,” that encourages reflection on the past, present and future chapters of our lives. I have included it below because it is so important to allow ourselves time to think about the tough stuff. Happy soul searching, friends!
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Friday, February 8th, 2013 at
As you’ve committed yourself to a more meaningful life, chances are that you’ve began noticing others around you who could really use a hearty dose of passion. Maybe you have a friend, child, coworker, family member, or colleague who is just not living up to his or her potential. Maybe this person is stuck in a dead-end job. Maybe he or she just can’t seem to choose a major or career path. Or even more common, maybe this person is just too afraid to take the leap towards pursuing their passion because it is just too darn scary.
So there you are, a helpless onlooker bearing witness to a perfectly extraordinary person choosing a life that is, well, underwhelming. What to do? Well I have good news, friends. Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner have identified 5 practices that will help you to make extraordinary things happen around you. Though the practices are originally intended as exemplary leadership principles, you don’t have to consider yourself a leader to follow them. Though you’ll find that when you do, you will inspire greatness in those around you.
Model the Way
The biggest gift you can give this world is to be an example of what it looks like to live your passion. Not only will you be an inspiration to others, you will also lend credibility to your message. As Ken Kesey said, “You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case.” So go show those around you that a meaningful, passion-filled life is possible! Read the rest of this entry
Thursday, January 31st, 2013 at
A few days ago I was asked to name a person who I aspire to be like. As a Career Counselor and scholar, it seemed expected that I name some hot shot in my field (of which there are plenty). But instead, I said confidently, “Lindsey Stirling.” I watched as my interviewer flipped through his mental Rolodex for a few seconds with no luck. With crinkled forehead he asked, ”Who!?!”
Lindsey Stirling. The girl whose spirit is on fire in the most obvious of ways. The girl who gives all of herself to the moment as she does the thing that she was destined to do. The girl who fills the world with joy, one violin stroke at a time.
Just watch the video below, and you’ll see exactly what I mean: Read the rest of this entry
Thursday, December 6th, 2012 at
What do you do when the alarm clock summons you into consciousness each morning? Do you lay there for a minute, thinking, “Noooo! Can’t I just stay here all day?” or do you jump out of bed excited about the promise that the day brings?
Sadly, not many people wake up eager for the day ahead. Life is complicated and messy, and circumstances can often leave you feeling heavy, tired, and burned out. Maybe your current job is not inspiring you, maybe the reality of your impending college graduation or retirement is debilitating, maybe you don’t have the support that you seek both personally and professionally, or maybe you don’t know how you let the life you imagined slip out of your fingers.
Everyone feels defeated and overwhelmed at some point or another. Thing is, instead of getting up and doing something about it we stand there frozen in disbelief and fear – like deer in the headlights.
I can’t tell you how many times I meet with clients who come to me desperate for answers when in truth they know exactly what they want for their lives – but are getting in their own way. They focus on obstacles, fears, and the millions of reasons why it can’t be done instead of working to overcome the odds. They spend hours following the realities of others on television instead of living their own lives to the fullest, keeping up with the happenings of their friends on Facebook instead of making meaningful real-life connections, or “pinning” things that they would like to do (travel, cook, craft, decorate, etc.), while never turning the computer off long enough to actually go do them. Read the rest of this entry
Monday, November 26th, 2012 at
Legend has it that novelist Ernest Hemingway was once asked to write a full story in only six words. Seemingly an impossible feat, Hemingway responded near effortlessly: “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
What a profound visual despite his brevity of words! It’s not surprising that this idea has caught on in a big way. Smith Magazine, for instance, has coined the term “Six Word Memoir ®” to encourage readers to submit their life’s stories in only 6 words. The result is a vast selection of funny, meaningful, and clever memoirs spanning many topics. (Click on the words below to explore the memoirs on their website!)
after always another away before being best better breakup can’t could dad day
death didn’t divorce don’t down enough even ever every everything eyes family feel
first found friend friends god going good happy hard heart her him his home hope
how i’m it’s know last left let life like little live living long lost love loved made
make many mom more mother much myself need never new night nothing now off
old once only other out over pain people right said say see she six still stop suicide
take things think thought through time today want was what when where who why
words work would years
Though there are many fun applications of the “6 words” concept, I’m especially excited about the way that it can support self-reflection and discovery. Not too long ago, a question was posed on a women’s forum that I belong to on LinkedIn: “Describe your life’s story in only 6 words.” Nearly 500 women across the world responded, revealing volumes about their identity, passion, purpose, life roles, and much more. Read the rest of this entry
Friday, October 26th, 2012 at
In just a few days, excited little cowboys, princesses, and rock stars will be knocking on our doors begging for treats. What a fun time of the year this is! Growing up in South Africa we didn’t really celebrate Halloween, so imagine my excitement each year as I get to make up for lost time. Even without eating buckets-full of candy and suffering the subsequent belly-aches, it is quite the treat for me to be among kids of all ages visibly transformed by imagination and child-like delight.
Although I appreciate the pizza-slice costumes and home-made Sponge Bob outfits, I most enjoy it when parents take this opportunity to encouarage their children to play out early career fantasies. From little doctors-in-training to astronauts, veterinarians, or future presidents of the United States, there’s something precious about watching a little kid pretending to be “all grown up.”
The next time you ask a child what he/she wants to be when they grow up, take a moment to study their face as they answer. Most often, there’ll be an unmistakable twinkle in their eye and a giddy excitement as they imagine the future grown-up version of themselves. You’ll see the sparkle I’m talking about in these adorable little faces too: Read the rest of this entry
Friday, October 5th, 2012 at
Pinterest, aaaahhhh, Pinterest. Where have you been all our lives? If you haven’t yet heard of this virtual pin board, you must have been living under a rock for the last year because it has just about taken the world by storm. Not only has it been a way for us creative folks to find ideas for new DIY projects, but it has also been a place to become (p)inspired about life, love, work, travel, and just about anything else under the sun.
In fact, on Thursday nights before writing my weekly posts, I often spend a good hour or so pinning my favorite things to one of my 47 boards. (Yes, I said 47.) Pinterest is a world of endless possibilities, and for me there’s no better place – other than real life or reality TV, of course – from which to draw inspiration.
Though some might underestimate Pinterest as just another way to waste time on the internet, I disagree. Pinterest is powerful. Each and every pin has the potential to stimulate self-exploration, bring possibilities for career and life to light, and to motivate and inspire self and others. If I had my way, everyone would have a Pinterest account. Here’s why:
Using Pinterest to Explore Your Interests
Pinterest puts you behind the wheel of your self- and career-exploration in a very fun and engaging way. By creating pin boards and pinning from virtually any website, you can express yourself and collect your interests in one place. Whether it is photography, education, technology, food, or design that tickles your fancy, Pinterest allows you to develop and explore your interests (and your fire) more fully. Read the rest of this entry
Thursday, September 27th, 2012 at
A couple of weeks ago a beautiful e-mail arrived in my inbox unexpectedly from a Chasing Your Fire follower. I hadn’t received much mail from readers prior to that, so it was a complete shock to me and definitely made my day. In truth, I was about at the point where I was doubting whether anyone was actually reading and benefiting from the messages that I poured my soul into each week. So you can imagine that I felt like a kid on Christmas morning as I unwrapped the beautiful words in front of me.
Having recently liberated herself from a high profile career that made her miserable, Ilse’s message is a powerful one that she desires to share with others in her position. With her permission, I have included her beautiful words below so that her story of courage, self-discovery, and hope will inspire you to also chase your fire – whatever that might look like for you.
In Ilse’s own words:
It was with great surprise, or perhaps better yet, great divine intent that your page “Chasing Your Fire” appeared in my Facebook news feed! So I thought that I would share my story of great realization with you, given the impact of your post’s miraculous appearance in my news feed.
Let me start by giving you a bit of background as to how I ended up where I currently am. I loved every bit of my life up to my graduation from University. Then, like the majority of graduates I set out to seek employment. I was subsequently appointed by a specialist recruitment consultancy in [city], who won numerous awards for being the best company to work for at the time. However,
I soon realized that I was killing my passion and losing out on precious friendships and relationships which I so dearly wanted to foster.
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Thursday, September 20th, 2012 at
You might have realized by now that I’m a sucker for reality talent shows like The Voice, X-factor, and American Idol. In truth, it’s not so much the performances that keep me glued to the television as it is the incredible stories behind the talent. What unfolds are stories of passion, vulnerability, hope, and perseverance – inspiring real life examples of people who are chasing their fire despite the odds.
Take 18-year old Trevin Hunte for example. Recently on The Voice, Trevin blew the judges away with his performance of “Listen” (by Beyonce Knowles). Within the first few seconds of his buttery voice filling the auditorium, the crowd rose to their feet as the judges’ chairs flung around to see the face behind the voice. The judges fought over Trevin, knowing that his was a rare talent. “I hit my button out of sheer respect…it absolutely blows my mind!” said Blake Shelton. CeeLo agreed, “You might be that dude to win this thing!”
Here’s the ironic part:
Trevin Hunte was told by his eighth grade teacher that he wouldn’t become anything. And what’s worse, he believed her.
“Confidence hasn’t always been the biggest thing in my life,” he told the judges as he shared his story. It took all of him to pursue his passion given the voices in the back of his mind that kept insisting that he could not do it. ”Screw your 8th grade teacher!” judge Blake cried out in disbelief. (Can I hear an Amen to that?)
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Friday, September 14th, 2012 at
This week in reality TV land, millions of viewers watched as a relentlessly ambitious and seemingly heartless twenty-something from Texas became X-Factors’ newest villain. It was painful to see other contestants falling prey to Kaci Newton and her sister Kaylee’s shameless gossiping and mean-girling. Eager to pursue her passion for music on a national platform, Kaci pushed others aside and belittled them in an effort to assert her own worth.
This video gives you a sneak peak into some of the events that transpired, though it doesn’t capture the drama in full. Seemingly sweet in front of the judges, Kaci spat out venom behind the scenes and failed to win favor with the judges or America. Kaci’s actions were so distasteful that even Simon Cowell – one of America’s most controversial talent judges – called her a “vile monster.” Now if you’ve ever watched Simon Cowell in his prime on shows like American Idol, you’ll know that comment says a lot coming from him.
Like Kaci, we can all get wrapped up in ourselves sometimes. Eager to chase our fires, we forget that we need people in our corner along the journey. No (wo)man is an island. Ambition and a desire to be successful can be wonderful things, but no-one likes someone who is self-absorbed, dismissive, or publicly critical of others. In Kaci’s case, America responded by booing, laughing at her expense, and eventually kicking her off the X-Factor ‘island’ that she so fiercely staked claim to.
Though most of us will likely never face the public ridicule that has ensued for Kaci, stepping on people to get to the top still has major consequences. Not only can it severely damage our social standing, reputation, and careers, but it can also lead to lasting pain for others.
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