In my office on the third floor of our home sits a big, green, overstuffed chair. I purchased it when my kids were little. I wanted a comfy place where we could all snuggle and read. When we moved to Chicago, the chair was too big for my bedroom, so we brought it up to the third floor.
At the time, that space was my retreat, the place where I would meditate, journal, and do yoga. It was also the place where I faced my shadows, the parts of myself that needed to be healed of grief, anger, guilt, and fear. It’s where I ultimately found peace and joy. And it’s the place where God called me up and out of my comfort zone.
Are you being called out of your comfort zone?
I didn’t want to go. I liked it there. I felt good where I was—good about God, good about myself, and good about my life. My comfort zone was safe, cozy, and easy. And I didn’t have to get up and out of my comfort zone, because my husband had a job. He could keep working and take care of us, and I could continue to be a stay-at-home mom. True, my children were growing up and would be leaving home in the not so distant future, so I would not have been able to keep that title forever. But I probably could have faked it for a few more years without anyone knowing.
The truth was, I couldn’t kid myself. I knew what I had to do. I had to get up and out of the big, green chair. It was time to trade in the backpack of excuses I had been carrying for a fresh, new set of wings. I couldn’t keep the backpack because we all have a weight limit, and if we’re carrying too much baggage, we won’t be able to fly. And it was time for me to learn how to fly.
No more excuses!
I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go, but I knew I was being lured out from that place of comfort. You see, we can run from God’s dreams for us, but we can’t hide. And sometimes we just have to grow into them. That’s often what the second half of life is all about. I know this to be true because in my own life, I have heard two callings.
I discovered my first calling after I left the corporate world, determined not to sell my soul for the sake of my career. I then dabbled in some entrepreneurial pursuits, none of which garnered much success or fulfillment. At thirty-one years old, I had my first child. And the minute I saw him, I knew I had found my purpose. For the first time in my life I knew I was exactly where I was meant to be. So I took a sabbatical from my career—a really long sabbatical—and immersed myself in the world of motherhood.
But there was always a nagging feeling that I had left something undone, that I had not peaked, that I had another purpose in my life.
Something was left undone
What I didn’t anticipate was that being a stay-at-home mom would have an impact on my self-confidence. I didn’t know that when it was time to think about going back out into the “real world,” I would have to face fears I didn’t even know I had. And the deepest fear of all was that I didn’t have what it takes to make my dream come true.
I knew I wanted to own my own business, and I knew I wanted it to be mission-driven. But I had no real role models. No one in my family had ever owned a business. In fact, most of the women in my family had taken the traditional route of staying home and raising kids. So I started looking outside my family to female role models who were succeeding as entrepreneurs. I am forever grateful to a cadre of women—most of whom I’ve never met—who encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone and follow my dream.
I am grateful to all of the women who encouraged me
I listened to Dr. Christiane Northrup’s radio program, Flourish, every Wednesday morning, and I drank in her wisdom and encouragement. I enrolled in Marie Forleo’s B-School to learn how to market myself in the age of the internet. I listened to Arianna Huffington talk about how to maintain balance in her Thrive class, and I learned to embrace my feminine power through Claire Zammit’s online program. I even attended a small group mentoring program called Raising the Bar hosted by Jean Houston at her home in Ashland, Oregon. And slowly but surely, my courage increased until I was ready to put it all out there and launch my business.
It’s not easy to do the thing we know we need to do. It’s not easy to put yourself out there for the world to see and risk failure, criticism, and defeat. But the alternative is unbearable. You absolutely don’t want to get to the end of your life and wonder what would have happened if you had just taken a chance and followed your dream.
It’s not easy to risk failure but the alternative is unbearable
And here’s the other great thing that happens when you’re outside your comfort zone: You feel the need for God, all the time. You call on him more and rely on his strength and guidance. And that’s always a good thing. That space outside your comfort zone is wide open, sacred space that is unbounded and unfettered. It’s where I spend most of my time now. I guess you could say I’m becoming comfortable being uncomfortable.
My time had come. My desire, my dream, and my destiny were calling. The only question that remained was what it would look like.
Get comfortable being uncomfortable
I wanted to create something that fully expressed who I was and what mattered most to me. It would have to integrate my spirituality, love of entrepreneurship, passion for empowering women and children, and deep desire to serve humanity in a way that had social impact. If it could somehow incorporate my love of wine, that would be an added bonus.
AWE Partners was birthed from the depth of my soul with a mission to encourage, inspire, and empower women to make their awe-thentic impact by sharing their gifts and talents in service to the universe. Believing that entrepreneurship has the power to not only lift women up but to solve our most challenging social ills, I chose to work closely with heart-centered entrepreneurs who want to align their business mission with their cause-related passion.
I saw that it wasn’t enough to simply make money as an entrepreneur and keep that corner of life segregated from the larger world and the impact many of us long to have on it. If women could link their entrepreneurship with their passion to give back to the world, real change could happen.
You have the ability to effect real change
To do that, I also saw that like me, most women needed and even longed to do the self-exploration necessary to rebuild themselves where they were broken, become unstuck, take their self-confidence to the next level, and otherwise take themselves to a place of greater authenticity and self-understanding so their giving could be intentional. When women explore who they are, they ultimately also discover what they have to give and how they want to give it.
But when it comes to making the connection between who they are as women and who they can be as philanthropists, many successful women have remained grounded, like airplanes waiting on a runway for the fog to dissipate. In essence, they just need help dissipating that fog so they can spread their wings and fly. And when that happens, they can help others soar.
So come on. Put on your wings and let’s learn how to fly!