I’m certain this is one of those puzzle piece moments in the story of my life. I can either accept the gift, this terrifying lesson, of personal evolution that is being offered to me and change my life forever, or I can walk away… leaving my transformation in the hands of the universal gift giver. Accepting it feels like an impossibility to my ego but leaning into my 20/20 hindsight, I see that walking away leaves me unchanged and I don’t think I can live through that again.
Dammit. Dammit. Dammit. I didn’t want to go first.
Why couldn’t you just do what I said? Why do I have to be the change? Why do I have to keep buying the change-your-life stuff I sell out there in the world every day?
These questions are, of course, rhetorical. I know exactly why. But, like any smart and strong-willed coaching client of mine might be expected to do, I occasionally lash out a bit before I surrender.
So, here’s the deal. Last week, I wrote a piece about living in crisis, financial crisis specifically, and I invited those who are stuck in crisis mode to write a list of things they want and need and then share it. The activity is incredibly freeing and once complete, it’s a brilliant and exciting way for the universe shower you in the life that is intended for you.
The old way of being was about cultivating solutions on our own, by the sweat of our brow from 8 to 5, five or sometimes seven days a week. The new way of being is about leaving all the doors of possibility open, welcoming support from even unconventional sources. It’s about living as the people we were created to be, no matter what (Integrity. Integrity. Integrity.), and allowing that which we need and desire to flow into our lives in every possible way.The piece touched a nerve which, as you may already have noticed, is what I strive to do. The response was a touching series comments, emails, and calls. This was for me… I needed this… It felt as if you wrote this from inside my head… I’m writing my list right now. Thank you!
And, a few of them broke me wide open:
That’s a hard list to write, don’t know why.
I personally can’t seem to write down my list, but I do have a list in my mind, which I review almost daily. Sharing is a problem with me, I need to work on that. I am a very good listener to others but don’t like to talk about myself.
I have the list in my head, but I’m scared to share it in case the people I love tell me I can’t have it.
I wrote my list, but as for ever sharing it…..well, I am no where near that point yet.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch… er, I mean on my Facebook page, some of my friends were giving me hell about a seemingly unrelated matter, which when it was over was not unrelated at all.
I’m shooting for the shortest background story in history (for me, at least): I take pictures, good pictures that move people. It might be pictures of a newly single mom and her children on the front porch of their new home so they can see that they are perfect and whole and beautiful, even without the man who left to live a different life. It might be a bunch of heartbroken young men working through the stunning loss of one of their own on the soccer field he loved so much. I wanted them to see how strong they are. I wanted them to see that they are alive.
It might be a soccer team of middle school girls working through all that it means to be a preteen girl in the world today. I do it so they can see how beautiful and strong and powerful they are. It’s the same reason that I started this life coaching business and that I write long, self-exposing pieces like this.
I was born to empower people. It’s why my Higher Power made me this way. I have these gifts because my job on this planet at this time is to show people how amazing they are.
It is my belief that the gifts I was given to do my part to heal the world, are also the most effective ways for me to provide for myself and my family while I’m here doing the work, and selling myself… Is. The. Hardest. Thing. I’ve. Ever. Done.Wait. Now that I’m writing that, something new is coming to me. Selling myself is not the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The hardest thing is the battle inside me around not using my gifts to empower others when they don’t have the money to hire me. Yes, that’s the hardest part.
I can stand on the street corner and talk to people and they would be empowered. I was made for this. I can’t help it. It’s who I am. It’s been this way since I was a child. It’s the same as your need to heal or lead or sing or paint or calculate numbers or cook or your love of animals or think or teach or whatever. It’s who we are, we are here to use these gifts here in the world. This is part of the plan.
But, in order to have a business that thrives enough to support my family the old way of being says we can’t give away these gifts. I can’t coach for free or people won’t pay me to coach. If I bless people with these pictures, it may change their lives but I can’t do it if they don’t have money because it defeats my money making potential as a photographer.
Is it just me, or does that feel incredibly backward? It feels like a smack to the face of the One who gave me these gifts so that I could come here and be a part of the healing of our people. If feels impossible that my Higher Power would send me here on a conditional mission, “Empower those who can afford it.” I can’t imagine this was part of the plan.
At the same time, I need to be able to tend to the financial realities of living in this world. There has to be a better way.
So, the giving-me-hell friends were encouraging (again) me to charge for my photography. They know about the series of wild and sometimes unfortunate events that have profoundly impacted our financial situation over the last few years. They know that while my business is growing, it is still young and although we longer technically live in poverty (woohoo!), many an unmet need and desire remain at my house.
They wanted me to open the ‘buy my pictures’ door so that money could flow in. I get that. It’s a great idea, given my deep commitment to the all-doors-are-open-approach-to-abundance way of living. I’m the one who goes on and on about the new way of being, for Pete’s sake!
The challenge that comes with opening this particular door (as it is for every other person with a gift who wants to be willing to share it in exchange for things they need and want) in order to charge I have to change the way I’m doing it, dramatically. I have to stop uploading them to Picasa and sharing the link with the people in the pictures (so they can download and order for free). I have to either sell them to one of these stock photo places, which is a HUGE undertaking (I found out when I researched it) which may or may not work in actually producing income, or purchase, set up, and manage a virtual shopping cart program.
The voices inside my head were chanting, “No FREAKING Way!” There was nearly a riot in there.You see, I already have a more-than-full-time job doing this EXACT SAME THING with my coaching and my writing. I looked at some of my options… and have, for now at least, decided that I don’t have the energetic resources to share my pictures as they suggested. After some sleep and meditation on the matter, here’s some of what I told them:
It’s just like the coaching. This is me, being who I am. It’s not my responsibility to hold my gifts hostage unless people pay me. It’s the consumer’s responsibility to pay me, if they are so compelled… I think it would be just fine for someone to hand me some cash at a soccer game and say thank you for taking these beautiful pictures of my kid. I’d be thrilled, and on most days moved to tears with relief, to find a check in my mailbox with a card that says, this thing you said when we spoke the other day (or emailed or posted or whatever) opened my eyes to a new possibility (or changed my mind or whatever)… thank you.
Perhaps this is unconventional but there is not a single person on this planet whose incapable of finding a way to say thank you when someone touches their lives. If people have the means to compensate me for images or coaching or whatever other gifts my HP gave me to serve the world and provide for my family, then I welcome that. I cannot, however, allow that to shift into me holding my gifts hostage for payment.
I believe this is integrity we speak of. If you admire the works someone is doing… go bless them by whatever means you have. It’s how this works.
And this is where the whole damned thing became not-so-unrelated to the resistance about writing and sharing a list:
And, I’ve got a wish list that’s 3.7 miles long. I’m certain that anyone who wants to say thanks could find something they have that I need or desire, even if cash isn’t an option in that moment. We have connections. We have stuff around us that we’re done with but others need. That same stuff can often be converted into cash for whatever we want to do with it. Lots of us have money. It’s just not my responsibility to demand payment for showing up in the world in the way I was sent here to be.
Lastly, this isn’t just about me. It’s about everyone. We’ve got to get the flow of energy, money, and stuff moving again. The fear has the system stuck.
Naturally, and frankly to my horror, they demanded to see my list. This was, to return us to the beginning of this very long story (Bless you if you’re still with me at this point.), at the very same time that I was challenging people through my blog to write a list of needs and desires, then share it so the world can support them AND people were saying back to me… I can’t possibly.
Dammit. Dammit. Dammit. I didn’t want to go first.
But, I will.
I will because, even though it horrifies some very powerful parts of me to admit that I’m a life coach who supports others in transforming their lives and I haven’t been able to completely transform mine. I’ve come so far… my eyes fill with tears just typing that, but the hole is deep and we’ve only been able to evolve our relationship with money as far as we have.
So, we keep going. Each day we wake and prepare to face what is, opening ourselves to new lessons and the seemingly endless line of blessings that flood in every single time we embrace one of those puzzle piece moments.
I wish the same for you.
I’m going to go now. I have to type up my list and get ready to share it, as it is currently buried deeply within the bowels of my super secret diary where without this moment, no one would ever see it. I encourage you to do the same.
If you want to see the proof that I didn’t die from sharing my list of needs and desires, you can find it on my Wildflower Evolution page on Facebook. Posting it there will make it easier to update as my needs and desires grow and change, as they do from moment to moment once you come out of the closet and admit that even if life is beautiful it’s not always perfect. (You don’t have to be a registered user to view it… )
Peace to you.
Photo Credit: Graham Crumb via Flickr