Friday, April 16, 2010

Following Directions

When I perform my most popular keynote speech, "Finding Your Mojo: The ABCs of Living in Abundance, Balance and Creativity", one of the first mojo busters I describe is Ignoring the Signs. It's time for me to follow my own advice.

Over the last few years, I have been doing what I thought I needed to do to be a successful author and speaker. I have performed book readings at countless bookstores, conducted a monthly women's discussion group both in Florida and Minnesota, facilitated meditation circles and healing workshops, and took any other opportunity presented to me to get in front of people. Ever since Opening the Kimono was published, I have performed free speaking engagements whenever possible in exchange for the opportunity to sell books and audiobooks afterward. I had been in training and facilitation roles for several years, both in my corporate and alternative healing days, but I had not yet broken into the land of the "paid professional speaker".

Boy, have things changed.

Over the last nine months, I have worked my cajones off to get recognized as a bonafide speaker, worthy of commanding a decent fee for my services. It has been incredibly difficult to break into this industry, especially in the midst of the worst economic downturn in my lifetime. It turns out that being a professional speaker involves a helluva lot more than just being good on stage; you also need to be an expert at sales, marketing, customer service, and business administration. You need to have an appealing, professionally-designed web site, a killer four-minute demo video, the ability to write compelling marketing materials, the courage to pick up the phone to call (and call and call and call and call) strangers to pitch them about your work, and most importantly, possess a thick layer of skin that will help you survive when you get pierced by the word "no" time and time again. The sales cycle is long, the competition is fierce, and the budgets are tight. Simply put, speaking ain't for sissies.

During this challenging time of growth, I had been relying on local events to keep me connected with people, sell a few books, and get my name out into the community. When we first moved to Minneapolis, my small events were going well, but I was not finding success with the larger keynote programs I was trying to secure. Yet, over time, the tides have turned. Over the last few months, I have seen a dramatic drying up of my small events, e.g. no one showing up for my free women's discussion group, three people showing up for my guided meditations, and workshops getting canceled due to lack of participation. At the same time, I have seen an explosion of interest in my major keynote programs - events where I am speaking in front of several hundred participants. Just this week I did a keynote at the Sheraton Bloomington Grand Ballroom for over 400 people. In a few months, I'll be performing "Finding Your Mojo" for 600-800 people, and I am in the final selection round for a Fall event that would be give me the opportunity to present in front of THOUSANDS of women. Prospective clients are sending me emails telling me that they want me for their next big function, glowing testimonials are opening doors to new gigs, and several national speaking bureaus have chosen to represent me.

Here's the irony. Two weeks ago, I had to cancel my monthly local chakra meditation at a neighborhood apartment complex because the door to the party room was inadvertently locked. It wasn't a major catastrophe, as only a few people showed up anyway. I have also decided to permanently cancel my Club Kimono Discussion Groups due to lack of participation. Finally, I am scheduled to do a workshop this Saturday at a local yoga studio that looks like it will cancel too due to poor registration. Talk about reading the signs!

At first, all I could think about was the personal sting of rejection that the "failure" of my local events brought about. It hurts when you get all gussied up to host a meditation or discussion group, pack up your car with books and flyers, drive to the venue, and wait for people to arrive. And wait. And wait a little longer. With each passing moment where no one walks in the door, a little more of my self-esteem was chipped away. Why? Why didn't they like me anymore? What was wrong with me? How come no one was showing up? WTF?????

Then I reminded myself of my Mojo Buster #1: Ignoring the Signs. In my presentation, I talk about how we lose our mojo when we constantly ignore the signs from The Universe (aka Spirit) to do something different. When we ignore them, the physical indicators will get louder and more unpleasant until we recognize the underlying message and act upon it. Eight years ago, I received a crystal-clear sign from Spirit that I was no longer going to be a Corporate Climber. The unmistakable sign was that I got laid off. Twice. Afterward, I could not find a comparable position no matter how hard I tried. In hindsight, I realize that I was patently unsuccessful in finding another job was because I wasn't supposed to. The Universe wanted me to move in a whole new direction -- alternative healing -- and I needed to have it slapped across my face for me to pay attention. Fast forward eight years later, and I am grateful beyond belief that I received those unpleasant signs.

I now find myself in another major transition. My life as a local healer is over, at least for now. Spirit is slamming doors shut left and right while opening others for me to walk through. I believe that Spirit has put an end to my local events so I don't need to let people down when I'd inevitably need to do it down the road. My calendar is already getting full with major keynotes, and my Club Kimonos and Chakra Meditations simply wouldn't be able to fit around them. There is a part of me that is saddened by this loss, but I also know that it is the natural next step for me.

One of the toughest challenges I face as I traverse this exciting new path is the acknowledgment of Bigness. It's a little uncomfortable to accept the fact that I am now being handsomely paid to get up in front of hundreds of people There is a part of me that feels like I don't deserve this kind of success. A little annoying voice whispers in my ear, "Who do you think you are, Miss Fancy Pants? Do you really think that you are good enough to do this job?" It feels like trying on a luxurious, beautiful outfit at your favorite store and feeling enormous guilt for even bringing it into the dressing room. Yet, here I stand, wearing the outfit.

When I was freaking out before going on stage at the Sheraton this week, Michael took me in his arms and reminded me that I was BORN to do this. He's absolutely right. I've prepped for this moment ever since I was a child when I stood in front of my mirrored closet holding a microphone/hairbrush in my hand and performed for my enraptured stuffed animals. My current profession is a glorious combination of teacher, preacher, actor, and cheerleader -- all of which I have joyfully performed -- and I am finally accepting that I have gotten what I have been asking for. I am ready to accept my role as Bringer of the Mojo, even if it occasionally tweaks me (and a few others around me).

Thanks, Spirit, for being my Cosmic GPS. I understand that I have finally arrived at my destination: Joy.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Whales vs. Mermaids

I received an email from a friend recently who passed this story along. I thought it was brilliant, and believe it was blog-worthy. Kudos to the anonymous author!


Recently, in a large city in France, a poster featuring a young, thin and tan woman appeared in the window of a gym. It said, "This summer, do you want to be a mermaid or a whale?"

A middle-aged woman, whose physical characteristics did not match those of the woman on the poster, responded publicly to the question posed by the gym:

To Whom It May Concern,
Whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, sea lions, curious humans.) They have an active sex life, get pregnant and have adorable baby whales. They have a wonderful time with dolphins stuffing themselves with shrimp. They play and swim in the seas, seeing wonderful places like Patagonia ,the Bering Sea and the coral reefs of Polynesia. Whales are wonderful singers and have even recorded CDs. They are incredible creatures and virtually have no predators other than humans. They are loved, protected and admired by almost everyone in the world.

Mermaids don't exist. If they did exist, they would be lining up outside the offices of Argentinean psychoanalysts due to identity crisis. Fish or human? They don't have a sex life because they kill men who get close to them, not to mention how could they have sex? Just look at them ... where is IT? Therefore, they don't have kids either. Not to mention, who wants to get close to a girl who smells like a fish store?

The choice is perfectly clear to me:
I want to be a whale.

P..S. We are in an age when media puts into our heads the idea that only skinny people are beautiful, but I prefer to enjoy an ice cream with my kids, a good dinner with a man who makes me shiver, and a piece of chocolate with my friends...
With time, we gain weight because we accumulate so much information and wisdom in our heads that when there is no more room, it distributes out to the rest of our bodies. So we aren't heavy, we are enormously cultured, educated and happy.
Beginning today, when I look at my butt in the mirror I will think, 'Good grief, look how smart I am!'