Follow Your Passion in 4 Steps

Follow Your Passions in 4 Steps

By Nicolette Stinson

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Following your passions sounds incredibly exciting and enticing. “Leave behind this soul-sucking job? Yes, please!” Wouldn’t you want to spend your days and nights doing the things you are most passionate about?

As you prepare to make the leap, suddenly Steve Jobs quotes fill your social feed and Katy Perry’s song “Firework” is on your playlist 24/7; it’s great. Then you have to take that first uncomfortable step and you’re face to face with a major fear. Eventually things get uncomfortable on the passion path. You will inevitably rub up against limitations and things won’t always go exactly as expected. In these moments it is vital be able to access your confidence and be courageous.

Dee:  Four years ago I made that leap.  A lot was happening in my life at that time.  I had just got back into recovery again after being clean and sober for 13-1/2 years.  But when I made the move to Hawaii three years prior, I failed to get back into meetings and fellowship and sharing my Experience, Strength and Hope.  I failed to be around newcomers.  I failed to remember who and what I was and where I came from.  I failed…  

My husband had recently made the move from the Mainland to join me in Hawaii.  I was here over two years on my own.  It was the first time in our 30+ years of marriage that we were together as man and wife without children and without drugs and alcohol.  Did we even know each other?  Did we like each other?

The negativity in my head was becoming apparent.  It started to spew from my mouth to customers in Self-Check Out where I worked at a grocery store.  I failed to use the Serenity Prayer.  I failed to use my Higher Power.  I failed to use my toolbox for living.  I failed…

So rather than getting fired having spent the last 20 years with this company, I chose to make the leap into an early retirement to live my passion.  Of course, I was fearful.  My Higher Power was just being allowed back into my life.  I was told not to make any major changes during the first year of my sobriety.  It had been only six months.  But I made the leap and never looked back.  Steve Jobs’ quote is still on my vision board…”Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.  And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.  If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.  Don’t settle.  As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know what you find it”.

The word confidence comes from the Latin word confidere which means to have full trust. Psychologist Albert Bandura, who devoted his life to the science of confidence, created a term related to this confidence and trust called “self-efficacy.” Self-efficacy is your belief that you will succeed and create whatever you intend to in life. Your sense of self-efficacy can play a major role in how you approach goals, tasks, and challenges. When you are confident you have a sense of self-efficacy and your actions align with that. So, then, how do you create self-efficacy?

Dee:  For me confidence and self-efficacy came from working Steps 4 and 5 in Alcoholics Anonymous.  It was by taking my own inventory and sharing it with a trusted person that I was able to be set free from my fear.  I found myself getting more comfortable in my own skin and to finally start loving myself for who and what I am.

Trust and hope and faith comes from reuniting with a Power Greater Than Myself and turning over everything!  That includes turning over my thinking and reactions, my business and my family life, my past and my future, my everything.  And each day I find more gifts being bestowed upon me without my pursuit.  Just by turning it over, having faith, sharing with others, I get to follow my passion.

Bandura found the following four strategies to be the building blocks of self-efficacy.

Mastery Experiences

When you don’t consistently live up to your highest standards or potential and continually shrink back into safety you begin to lose trust in yourself. Mastery experiences are simply past experiences of success and these past experiences give you a sense of confidence. You can begin to cultivate mastery experiences by setting up little wins for yourself and getting incrementally better at something.

Don’t try to take on too much at once or take giant leaps forward. Mastery experiences are all about getting slightly better day by day. If you get 1 percent better at something every day, in one year you will be 365 percent better—that is the essence of creating mastery experiences!

Dee:  Just like the AA slogans state, “One day at a time”, “Progress, not perfection”, “Let go, let God”, “No expectations, no disappointments”, I get to experience little wins for myself with my business and with my life.

ACTION STEP: Embrace Uncertainty and Lean into Fear (in Reasonable Doses) 

Write down a list of what you need to do in order to follow your passions, then break that list down into small actionable tasks you can complete each day. It’s important to recognize that by embracing a new level of uncertainty and leaning into a healthy level of fear, you are inviting in desired change. Doing small things that feel a little scary will help you on your path to creating mastery experiences and increased self-efficacy.

Dee:  Fear is where I spent most of my life before getting to AA and working the steps.  I didn’t believe in myself.  I did not have a Higher Power.  I did not have a toolbox for living.  I had no self-worth and definitely no self-love.  But slowly as I learned to shed my fear-based living did I find that delving into fear was for my highest good.  I could either win or lose, but I would always win for the fact that I tried helped me to grow and taught me life lessons.  “Better an oops than a ‘what if’”.

Vicarious Learning

This idea relies upon the fact that if someone else achieves what you want to achieve you can live through them, and you can learn by seeing what they do to achieve their goals. If someone else has done it, so can you! You have to be careful with this one because there is a tendency to compare yourself with these people as well and that will create the opposite effect of confidence—doubt. It is important that whenever you think about the person who is doing what you want to do that you celebrate their successes or find a way to serve their successes. Learning vicariously through someone you look up to is a great way to build confidence.

Dee:  So hard to not compare myself with others.  Again, I did this throughout most of my life, living in fear and worthlessness.  But being a work in progress as a result of AA’s 12 Step Program helps me to stop comparing and accept myself for who and what I am, right now at this very moment.  It also helps me to grow strong relationships with those around me, rather than compare.  To be of service.  Look for the similarities and not the differences.  So with that I move forward trudging the road to happy destiny.

ACTION STEP: Find a Mentor and Make a Plan

Find a mentor or teacher who can help you confidently make a plan to follow your passions.

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Social Persuasion

The concept of social persuasion takes vicarious learning one step further. This is getting verbal guidance or inspiration from someone you look up to. Hiring someone like a coach who is encouraging you to become better can be a form of social persuasion. But more than anything YOU are in your head all day long and it’s important to learn how to become your own best coach and learn to persuade yourself in positive ways. To be fully confident you must convince yourself that you have what it takes and also practice giving other people that persuasion.

Dee:  Since I started my business, Deesigns by Harris, four years ago, I have studied greatly how to make my business a success.  With the internet there is a wealth of coaching and valuable information at our fingertips.  “But I don’t want to do the business part, I just want to create”.  Well, it’s taken four long years to come to the acceptance that most of my business comes from the administrative part.  No admin…no creativity…no fun.  So when the student was ready, the master appeared.  What I’ve been learning for four years I was ready to apply.  It’s a long and slow process, but I feel the baby steps are moving me in the direction I want to be going.

ACTION STEP: Learn How to Flip Your Limiting Beliefs

Think about what you want to achieve, write down all the reasons you believe that you CAN’T achieve it, then write down the opposite of each of those beliefs to create affirmation statements—use these as fuel for your confidence! You are going to have to get very good at managing your own mindset. Life coach and entrepreneur Anthony Robbins is quoted as saying “80 percent of success is due to psychology—mindset, beliefs, and emotions—and only 20 percent is due to strategy—the specific steps needed to accomplish a result.” That is applicable here as well!

Dee:  This reminds me of Drop the Rock, a recovery/addiction book aimed at helping to remove character defects (Steps 6 and 7 in AA).  At the back of the book is a list of Character Defects/Shortcomings and another list of Program Principles.  The pluses and minuses.  The pros and cons.  How to turn those defects, fears I believe I cannot overcome, into positive beliefs.  This works with recovery; this works with business; this works with life!  Let’s change our mindsets.

Physiology

The last concept from Bandura is that your physiology plays a crucial role in your self-efficacy. In order to feel confident, it’s important that you feel good in your physical body. Generally, this comes back to the basics. Make sure each day you are eating well, getting enough sleep, and getting some form of movement. Do the things that feed a healthy body.

Dee:  This has been slow to come to me as well.  Being the obsessive-compulsive being that I am, I struggle to find moderation.  So when I get in the work mode I stay there until I crash.  Forget eating, resting or exercise.  When I think I am too busy to go to a meeting, I now get up and go.  When eating is the last thing I want to do, I do it.  The seed has been planted to get up and move for 10 minutes every hour or two (still a seed).  And I have joined a gym where I can work out and do Yoga a few times a week.  And I get even more and better work done in the end!

ACTION STEP: Practice Meditation and Yoga

Practice meditation to soothe any negativity or doubt, or take a yoga class to enliven your mind, body, and spirit. Both of these are powerful tools for a healthy physiology.

Use the strategies above that Bandura suggests to set up your own “confidence gym.” The action steps above will help you get started. Intentionally practice these four strategies day in and day out, just like you would go to the gym to get in physical shape; this is how you can get your confidence “in shape.” Start with the action steps here and then make your own unique list for each category. Today, what can you do to create your own mastery experiences, learn vicariously, be socially persuaded, or care for your physiology as you follow your unique passions?

By intentionally practicing these strategies and taking your own action steps, your challenges will begin to inspire you to grow instead of hold you back. The next time you come face to face with your fear it won’t seem so intimidating and it won’t stop you or detour you on your passion path. What will you do today to build your self-efficacy?

Dee:  Just do it!  If you’re not happy or don’t like it, then go back to your old ways knowing you tried!  What do you have to lose?

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in Inspirational Gifts with a Message, please visit my shop at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have a great day!

About the Author, Nicolette Stinson

Certified Coach, Yoga Instructor and Perfect Health Instructor

Nicolette is an online personal brand strategist for coaches and wellness professionals. She is also a Certified Coach, Chopra Center Perfect Health Instructor, and Yoga Teacher as well as an avid student of mindfulness, creativity, personal development, and spirituality. Visit www.nicolettestinson.com to learn more.

From the Chopra Center.

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What is Deesigns by Harris? Who am I? What is my purpose?

I have spent the beginning of this year on the business-side of Deesigns by Harris.  I have taken online classes, read a wealth of information, listened to many a tutorial, and done heaps of homework.  I have learned that in order to run a successful business, I must first know my “why” and my “who” with whom I would like to connect.  Here is what I have learned thus far…

The What and Why of Deesigns by Harris

Deesigns by Harris is a business that offers inspiration, hope and motivation to you via the empowering art of artist and owner, Dee Harris.  I am Dee and I create art for you!  My purpose is to  remind you that at this very moment everything is perfect just as it is.  YOU are perfect.  Life is perfect.

My passion of choice is stained glass.  Glass has a life of its own and I use this vivacious media to create works of art that will touch your heart, to let you know that that everything will be okay, that you are awesome, that life is good..  Not always easy in this hectic world bombarding us with chaos, negativity, and the busyness of life.  But just for a moment, be in the now.  All is as it should be.  All is perfect.

My Purpose:  To share my experience, strength and hope with others to bring hope, optimism and light into their lives.

Who is Dee and what makes her tick?

I remember my counselor asking me who I am when I was in rehab.  I thought for a moment and responded, “I’m a mom.  I’m a wife.  I’m a grocery checker.”  “No.  You are not.  Think harder.  All these responses can change in a heartbeat”, she replied.  “You are a woman.  You are of Chinese descent.  You are an alcoholic.  These will not change.”

It was during these 28 days in a treatment program for alcohol abuse that I started to really think, more so, to really feel.  To start  having moments of clarity.  To begin my journey in learning who I really am and what I really stand for.  Yes, today I am still an American woman of Chinese descent.  I am still an alcoholic in recovery.  I am gratefully still a mom and wife, but am no longer a grocery checker.  Today I am an artist who offers emotion.  Heart-felt emotion from the core of my being to the core of your being that we can share.  Together we can share our experience, strength and hope.  We can love and appreciate each other for who we are with all our flaws and defects and insecurities, knowing that we all have our own unique gifts that we can share with the world!

Affirmations

While in rehab one of the exercises we did every morning in Community was come up with an affirmation (noun:  1 an affirmation of faith: declaration, statement, assertion, proclamation, pronouncement, attestation; oath, avowal, guarantee, pledge; deposition; formal averment, asseveration. ANTONYMS denial.) and recite that affirmation every morning to the group.  My affirmation was (and still is) “I am a good person.  I am a whole person.”

Coming out of a pretty heavy alcohol addiction (dabbling with other substances as well leading up to that point) I felt anything BUT being good and whole.  I had no purpose.  I was a waste of  space on this planet.  I would look in the mirror and see “LOSER”.  I hated myself and who I had allowed myself to become.  Repeating this affirmation every morning allowed me to have hope, to have vision. to “fake it ’til you make it”.

One day at a time I began to feel more and more like a good and whole person.  I began to learn about the disease of alcoholism.  I began to learn about myself via the Twelve Step of Alcoholics Anonymous.  The door was open and the seed was planted.  I was a sponge excitedly learning who I am, like a baby adventuring out into the real world.  And to this day I awake excited every morning to experience what the day, what my Higher Power, has in store for me to learn and expand my horizons.

My Mission:  To remind you that you, too, are a good and whole person. 

I shall create art that brings out your emotion…good and bad emotion…but taking you to that place of gratitude and humility.  I shall create art that reminds you of living in the NOW, to feel proud of who you and and where you came from, about what matters and what doesn’t.

My Unique Value Proposition:  Create art that makes you feel, that brings you back into the moment, to appreciate who and what you are.

Human beings (not human doings) on a spiritual journey whose  lives can be enlightened by the message of Experience, Strength and Hope represented in my art.  My target market is people who care about mankind, our planet (plants and animals) and, most importantly, themselves and sharing their message of hope and light.

My Target Market:  Adults living a full life who need to be reminded of their gifts of self, their priorities, their journeys and accomplishments.

The Mana of Hawai’i

The honu, the aina, the aloha, the healing and nurturing, the people, the calmness, they all beckoned me to Hawai’i.  I am  blessed to live on the Big Island living a calm and peaceful life of joy and contentment, of service and passion.

One of the joys the islands have brought me is weaving lauhala.  When my husband and I were unexpectedly care-flighted to Oahu for my husband to have an immediate bypass surgery, I found a Pandanus tree on the hospital grounds from which I plucked and prepped her lau to weave some bracelets.  This was a very trying time with just the clothes on our backs, but I was able to stay calm and in the moment by weaving a ton of lauhala bracelets.  I was able to be present and nurturing for my husband, while the island was present and nurturing for me.  (My husband and soul-mate has  recovered beautifully, by the way!)

Healing Hands

For as long as I can remember hands have talked to me.  They are so powerful and magical and strong.  They are so healing and loving, protective and nurturing.  This is the reason I create so many pieces of art with the Healing Hands, hands that carry a message that words could never say.

The fun and imaginative part of creating this pieces is that one never knows whose hands they are.  I leave that up to the recipient and where that recipient is at that moment in time.  Do these hands belong to our kupuna or our keiki?  Are these God’s hands  or those of our elders?  Are they yours and mine?  You choose.  The hands and message will change as you change.

Shows

Currently the only show I am committed to is the Pure Kona Green Market which is the most awesome, feel-good market around!  Many vendors share our hand-made and -produced local art, organic produce, baked goods, Kona coffee, and healthy foods with you.  It’s such a fun market with live music I could listen to all  day.  And the people who attend and allow me to connect with them enrich my days…and my life!  This market is held every Sunday at Amy Greenwell’s Botanical Garden in Captain Cook, Hawaii, from 9am – 2 pm.  The rest of my sales come via my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com, Facebook at facebook.com/DeesignsByHarris, or word of mouth.

Classes

I have been approached to teach classes in stained glass, mosaic making and lauhala weaving.  It is my hope to someday soon be able to offer small and intimate classes in which I can share my passions with you.

I have put mosaic and lauhala bracelet kits together which I shall soon offer on my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Before I post these though I would like to put together tutorials with fun and easy to use instructions.  Please bear with me while I get my  act together.  I’ll keep you all in the loop!

Videos

Another suggestion I learned from my recent business classes is to put together videos.  I now have a wealth of information to use so that I can use videos for my social media, blogs, newsletters, etc.  I know I’d much rather watch a 3-minute video than read, read, read.  How about you?

Beyond Belief Lies True Knowledge

Beyond Belief Lies True Knowledge

from Become What You Believe by Oprah and Deepak

DEEPAK:

The world has been changed many times through the power of belief.  And you are part of the current change which is bringing more light and fulfillment into your personal reality every day.  Yet there’s another dimension to this path using belief to reach a state of true knowledge.  In the Worlds Wisdom Traditions there are many statements and promises about the higher self.  Whether we speak of the higher self, the core self, the true self or higher consciousness, the reality is the same.  It means finding your source and living in the light permanently.

How do we know when we have found this state of being?  Clues have been left and yet they can be puzzling.  Existing in the light has been described as unconditional love, unity consciousness, enlightenment emerging with the divine.  These are lofty terms that imply a state of transformation beyond everyday experience.  However, if the light is eternal and unbounded as is described in every Wisdom Tradition then it is already present in everyday life.  You do not have to seek it, pray for it or reach out with a cry of the heart.  The light is your source.  Therefore, you only need to remember who you really are.

At the beginning of this path a person has forgotten what the true self is.  At the end of the path the true self is as close as the next breath.  In between is where faith is needed.  Imagine a day when the sun is sometimes hidden by clouds and other times shines brightly.  The sun does not come and go.  Its light is steady and only appears to be darkened.  This is the same image often used to describe the relationship that we have with our true self.  Its support is unconditional and constant.  But our perception is sometimes clouded or not especially clear.

Perception is a powerful influence of us.  We can see ourselves as weak, diminished, fearful and unloved.  But through the practice of meditation clarity begins to dawn.  This is the testimony of thousands of years of personal seeking.  Exposing the mind to its source and the light of the self brings your existence into the light everyday.  The clouds begin to pass away and the sun begins to shine more brightly.

FAITH BRINGS COMMUNION WITH MY SOUL.

DEE:

Not only has the world changed many times, but so have I because of the power of my belief.  I strive each day to bring more light and fulfillment into my personal reality.  I learn.  I grow.  I put my faith into a Power Greater Than Myself, my light.  I am not the person born 62 years ago.  I am not the person I was yesterday.  I am the person right here, right now, sharing my thoughts and feelings on paper.

I believe that my greatest change came from being an active alcoholic in the decades of early adulthood to becoming an alcoholic in recovery in my later adulthood.  Prior to my recovery I felt lost, that something was missing in my life.  I had no true peace nor happiness.  I had no Power Greater Than Myself.

But Alcoholics Anonymous (please note that this is my story and I am not a representative of Alcoholics Anonymous) has awarded me with the 12 Steps, which has awarded me to choose a Higher Power of my understanding, which has awarded me a whole new outlook on life and a whole new me who I can finally love and be comfortable with in my own skin.

And I no longer have to live in self-will and “think” that I am in control of my destiny.  What a relief!  What a weight off my shoulders!  To turn my will and my life over and to have faith that everything is perfect at this very moment and all my needs will be taken care of.

 

I believe that I am finally walking in the light.  Yes, I still have my shadows, my defects of character, but were it not for the light, there would be no shadows!

I am not a religious person but have found a very spiritual presence that fills and feeds my soul.  Yes, the light is my source and I need to just remember who I really am.  I am a woman who is a recovering alcoholic who is grateful for every moment of every day who intends to share this message of hope and optimism and joy with everyone who is meant to hear my message.  Today I have a purpose to fill that empty void of uselessness and unworthiness.

And how do I share this message?  I share by being mindful and respectful of everyone and everything that purposefully comes into my bubble.  Whether it be at an AA meeting, a grocery store, on an airplane, anywhere.  My heart, my Higher Power, tells me whether and what to share.

I am grateful to earn a living sharing this message via my art.  I strive to create art that has meaning and hope and healing and love of self.  Art that brings out the emotion in you and connects our hearts.  Art that helps you to love yourself for who you are and helps you to be grateful for your journey through life and your assets.  Yes, we all do have defects of character, things we need to improve about ourselves that annoy us, but we all have special gifts as well!  Never let go of your special gifts!

Yes, exposing the mind to its source and the light of the self brings your existence into the light everyday.  The clouds begin to pass away and the sun begins to shine more brightly.

Healing Self-Judgment

HEALING SELF-JUDGMENT

(From Deepak Choprah and Oprah Winfrey “12-Become What You Believe”)

OPRAH:

Glenda the Good Witch said to Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, “You’ve always had it, my dear.”  The divineness of who you really are you’ve always had.  That divineness is your belief in the truest YOU… the YOU that is free of limitations, judgment, resistance, and doubt.  True belief and pure awareness is generous and accepting.  It can heal us; it uplifts us; it frees us from struggle, and that which holds us back.  Allow it to flow freely.  Healing comes when we recognize our true self as wise, joyful, and loving.  When we release resistance we invite the power of the Universe to affirm our truest, deepest, purest beliefs.

DEEPAK:

Everyday involves many situations that require decisions.  So why do we sometimes allow and at other times resist?  The answer is that we either face resistance and obstacles or expect resistance and obstacles.  Beliefs are expectations.  Most obstacles and resistance we expect, and then we have to face them.  What needs to change, therefore, is expectation.

Let’s examine the belief “I am fulfilled and whole.”  In wholeness there is no resistance.  Instead harmony and an effort flow prevail.  The opposite of wholeness is separation.  We all have aspects of ourselves we want to be separate from.  These are the paths we judge against.

If you look inside, which aspects of yourself would you like to be separate from?  They’re not difficult to find because we apply emotional tags to them…tags like “bad”, “guilty”, “shameful”, “embarrassing”, and “failure”.  These tags are the actual obstacles of self-judgment.  The self chooses to reject, avoid and hide from the feelings we just listed.  Much effort is wasted in the process.  Guilt and shame remain no matter how hard we avoid, fight and resist.  But unless we overcome self-judgment we can’t allow life to flow the way it wants to.  We are too anxious about having our weak spots exposed.  The answer lies in strength of self.

Yourself is more than what you feel, and far more than what self-judgment is trying to make you feel.  Everything about self-judgment makes you feel weaker and smaller.  But you do not have to adopt the role of judge.  You can adopt other beliefs.  To feel fulfilled and whole you must take any moment of self-judgment and turn it around.

Let’s say you have a guilty moment.  Your natural reaction is to blame yourself, which is a judgmental, negative self-belief.  Pause instead and ask yourself this question, “What feeling do I actually want?”  No one will say the feeling they want is blame and judgment.  Even so, we inflict it time and again.  You can begin to phase out this activity by telling yourself, “I don’t want blame and judgment.  It has never done me any good.  It is not doing me any good at this moment.”  This is a message from your true-self.  You will be reinforcing your wholeness every time you meditate and every time you remind yourself in your daily activity that self-judgment is totally unnecessary.

I joyfully accept myself.

DEE:

As I listened to this meditation this morning I was reminded of my life journey…of who I was and who I am today.  The biggest life-changer for me was admitting that I am an alcoholic, then accepting it, and then embracing it.  That is when the self-judgment began to subside.

I always knew “I am a good person and a whole person,” but when in a 28-day treatment program for alcoholism I chose this affirmation to repeat daily in our community meeting as I felt anything but good or whole.  The disease of alcoholism thrives on self-judgment and negativity when active.  Only when I surrendered did love of self slowly begin to surface.  Yes, I’ve always had it; the disease smothered it.

And when I started to do…to live…the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous was my spirit lifted to new heights.  I began to be and to live the person I always was meant to be.  Yes, I’ve always had it; the Fourth Step of Alcoholics Anonymous brought it to the Sunlight of the Spirit (made me see it! and feel it!).

Here is a blog I kept written by turkeyboneheaven on April 2, 2014, explaining our Fourth Step…

Facing Our Darker Side 

Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. 

By the time we get to the Fourth of the Twelve Steps, we are ready to face our darker side, the side that prevents us from loving others, from letting others love us, and from enjoying life and ourselves. The purpose of Step Four is not to make ourselves feel worse; our purpose is to begin to remove our blocks to joy and love.

We look for fears, anger, hurt, and shame from past events – buried feelings that may be affecting our life today. We search for subconscious beliefs about others and ourselves that may be interfering with the quality of our relationships. These beliefs say: I’m not lovable . . . I’m a burden to those around me . . . People can’t be trusted . . . I can’t be trusted . . . I don’t deserve to be happy and successful . . . Life isn’t worth living. We look at our behaviors and patterns with an eye toward discerning the self-defeating ones. With love and compassion for ourselves, we try to unearth all our guilt – earned and unearned – and expose it to the light.

We perform this examination without fear of what we shall find, because this soul searching can cleanse us and help us feel better about ourselves than we ever dreamt possible.

God, help me search out the blocks and barriers within myself. Bring what I need to know into my conscious mind, so I can be free of it. Show me what I need to know about myself.
From The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie ©1990, Hazelden Foundation. All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without the written permission of the publisher

What I learned from my Fourth Step is that I have lived my life fear-based.  I was so fearful of what you thought about me.  I lived for your approval.  Why?  Because I did not love myself for who I was, who I am.  I did not feel good in my own skin.

Alcoholics Anonymous has given that to me.  I finally love myself for who I am, defects and all.  I can accept myself for who I am and accept that is okay that you don’t.  That was not my purpose.  I realize now that my purpose is to help those around me love who they are, to accept themselves for all they have to give, to embrace themselves, to embrace life at this very moment…this very “perfect as it is” moment!  Yes.  We all have our own special gifts.

This is why I have finally found contentment.  I knew what happiness was; I’ve had happiness.  But I never realized that I wasn’t content until I had it…I felt it…that freedom…that weightlessness…that peace.  It’s awesome!  I love it!  I want to share it!  I want everyone to have it!  That is my purpose given to me from the Higher Power of My Understanding, another great gift I received from the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Today I continue on sharing this gift, this message, to all who enter my life, my circle, my bubble.  I am grateful to be an artist who can share this message via stained glass and mosaics and lauhala and whatever other medium that comes to me throughout each and every amazing day.  I am grateful to be an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous.  I am grateful to be a a loving family member and dear friend.  I am grateful to be alive and to give back that which was so freely given to me when I needed it most.

Dee Harris

DeesignsByHarris.com

20 Things People Won’t Tell You about Starting a Business

 

As the entrepreneur of my own stained glass business, I am always studying and researching ways to improve not only my business, but myself as well. I have just read an article, 20 Things People Won’t Tell You About Starting a Business. Here are some of the highlights I gained from this piece that may bring some insight to other new entrepreneurs.
People often say that if you make it five years in business, you’ve beaten the odds. What they don’t often share with you are the things that happen in those first five years that contribute to the high number of people whose businesses don’t make it. I’m here to tell you about the personal hardships you’re likely to face in the early stage of business ownership. [I started my business full-time just over three years ago. I had read elsewhere that if I don’t make it in the first three years, to give it up. I’m glad I’m not giving up as things get better, not easier, as I progress. Yeah! this article gives me two more years!]
It’s lonely. Whether or not you have a partner, it can be lonely starting a business. Your hours will become nontraditional, you may be working out of your home or in a small office, and you will focus your attention on work. [I’ve never worked traditional hours being a grocery checker in a 24-hour grocery chain, nor have I ever been a “traditional” person. So this works great for me, especially at my “later in life” phase with the kids gone and on their own. And there is no place I rather be than in my home studio working on what gives me joy and peace. This is my happy place. This is where I thrive!]
Business partnerships are hard. Just because you are “best friends” or have “opposite skill sets” doesn’t mean you’ll make ideal business partners. At the end of the day, treat a business partnership with the respect you’d give a romantic partnership. [I don’t have a business partner, but I am so grateful to have a husband who takes care of my bookkeeping. He keeps me on a straight path financially, gives me lots of constructive criticism, advice, and business savvy. At first I took it personally and copped a pretty poor attitude. But when I turn it into a positive, everything is perfect! Today I value everything he shares.]
You will be poor for a while. In the long run, this will help you make savvy financial decisions. But while you’re in it, it won’t be easy. Hopefully you’ll remember these tough times and be careful with your earnings. [I don’t remember ever having the luxury of not counting pennies. However, I do not have that weekly paycheck any longer so being financially mindful is vital. I’ve adjusted my lifestyle to live more simply, but enjoy living my passion!]
It’s way less sexy than you think it is. We see a lot of images of cool entrepreneurs who made it big. Most of these business celebrities went through hard times but don’t get the opportunity to talk about them in the media. [Sexy is not my game at age 61. Happiness and purpose is my game!]
You will doubt your abilities. Your business will challenge you. You’ll face forks in the road you could have never predicted. Ultimately, you need to be your biggest cheerleader. You will think you are the only person who has gone through this. Let me be the first to assure you, many have been through this before. Many have failed. Hopefully they got back up and tried again with something new. Many have succeeded, too. None of it matters if you don’t work hard for it, so keep moving forward and find someone who’s more seasoned in business to mentor you. [This one I can really relate to. That self-doubt. It’s ugly. It’s harmful. But I’ve never given up. I’ve had to step back awhile, rethink and recenter. But then move back into my heart and remember my purpose…to share hope that at this moment, everything is perfect. To remind ourselves to get back to what is in front of us right now and be grateful for what we’ve been through and who we have become.]
You will cry. People often compare their business to children. When your baby has a good day or a bad day, you might find yourself crying.  It’s OK. Feel it and move on. You will never know what to expect. Address the issues, make a plan and execute. Don’t be afraid to take that next step. Mistakes are inevitable. If you fear mistakes, you’ll never make progress. Do your best to trust your instincts, ask for guidance from trusted sources when you need it, and keep moving. Don’t make the mistake of inactivity. [Again, the ugly face of self-doubt rears its self-destructive presence. I love in Don Miguel’s book, The Four Agreements, not to take things personally. Some will; some won’t; move on and forward. I also have on my Vision Board a quote from Steve Jobs that keeps me centered, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be fully satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it”.]
Don’t compare yourself. It’s natural to want to benchmark your success against peer businesses. Be wary of doing this. Regardless of how successful they are or are not, be the best you can be and don’t waste energy comparing. [I have learned on my journey through life as a recovering alcoholic and active member in A.A. that I cannot do this alone. I have a fellowship of peers who genuinely want the best for me, and me for them. I treat fellow artists in the same way. We are all trying to live our passions for art and earn a simple living. We support each other and share our experiences, strengths and hopes, just like in A.A. We can’t do this alone…and why would we?]
It may not work at all. There is a strong possibility that your business may fail. This is simply a statistical reality. If you’re not afraid of failing, then keep going. If you are, you may want to reconsider being self-employed. [I have reconsidered being self-employed, but not today. Today I still believe in my dream. It may not be with stained glass. There might be another avenue for me that holds that same passion of giving hope and living a positive and loving life. But I know in my heart that when one door closes, another opens, and that’s pretty darned exciting!]
You have to have a marketing plan in place. Execute it daily to be sure customers are finding you. [I have created a marketing plan and this publication has reminded me that the bedroom wall is not the place to have it displayed. I’m moving it out to my studio space today so that I can be reminded of where I’m going and what got me here.]
You can’t have black without white. Without bad, it’s tough to appreciate good. Take the hard moments and remember them in the good moments. It helps to give you perspective and be grateful for successes, big and small. [Yes! Yes! Yes! This is me! This is my brand! This is my purpose! I still and always will attend regular A.A. meetings to remind myself of where I came from and who I am today. I will share my gratitude, my experience, strength and hope with whoever needs a smile today or words of encouragement.]
If this doesn’t scare you, congratulations: You’re likely meant to be an entrepreneur. Just remember to pay it forward to other entrepreneurs and share your stories with them, too. [Know you are not alone and that you are right where you need to be right now. Don’t give up on your dreams!]
20 Things People Won’t Tell You About Starting a Business Written By Darrah Brustein | Young Entrepreneurs – Mon, Feb 3, 2014