This weekend I had the opportunity to attend and speak at Creative Women’s Co first all-inclusive retreat in Chicago. This retreat was designed to allow women to step away from their busy schedule, recharge their creativity and enjoy quality conversations with like-minded creative women. This was a three-day action-packed event in the heart of downtown Chicago. The itinerary covered everything from self-care, stress management to gratitude and finding balance. It was held in an intimate space that supported creating new connections and potential future business collaborations amongst the group. Each woman brought their unique viewpoint and experience to the table. There was so much synchronicity in the room, that at times most women nodded in agreement as each experience resonating across the room.
This was my first time since college sharing a room with strangers. I am very picky about who I allow in my personal space especially since we can be subtly impacted by the words and actions of others. Although I wasn’t initially a fan of the idea, I decided to step out and go with the flow. I was pleasantly surprised to find how much I had in common with a young lady from France and another who’d recently moved back to Chicago from Portland Oregon. Although all three of us culturally came from different backgrounds, our stories crossed all boundaries that appeared to keep us separate. Spiritual connection supersedes race, culture and religious background. It moves beyond the limits most of us choose to live by. We sat up late at night after the activities for the day ended giggling and discussing entrepreneurship, careers, family, relationships, culture, and spirituality. Each one of us discussed openly this feeling of knowingness that most people couldn’t relate to. A knowingness that can be discovered by anyone willing to allow it in. My connection with these women was the highlight of my weekend.
Beyond that, I got a chance to share my expertise and experience with yoga and meditation. I discussed five ways to deal with the stress of working full-time and being an entrepreneur. I shared my real life experiences and then lead the audience through a series of yoga and meditation techniques they could use in their everyday lives. I discussed the importance of creating space in our schedule to prevent burnout and manage stress. The key to stress management is being aware of your stress triggers, staying attuned to your body language and using a variety of techniques to help you manage through the process.
I learned from this weekend that retreats are powerful ways to create change in your life. Retreats allow you to have a unique experience that only you and other participants can relate to. Retreats also foster curating lifelong bonds with people from a diverse set of backgrounds. Retreats only require that you appear with an open mind.
Peace and Blessings!
Majority of my focus last year was on building my wellness business, I decided to shift gears in the fourth quarter to dip my foot back into the accounting world. Actually, once I made up my mind that I would be leaving my corporate job, I immediately created Luellen Consulting Services LLC which of course provides accounting services. I made this decision for several reasons a) I have an amazing skill set and a wide range of experience b) I have always been mindful of not burning bridges and maintaining good work relationships c) I am professional and relatable. This means I allow others to see my authentic self and others can connect with it. I can see a task to completion and not be afraid to recite trap music while I’m doing it. I can run a department and share a funny story about my perspective on life. Years ago I thought you could only be one way at work and you had to hide your true identity until after hours. Transparency requires you to live both lives at the same time.
Transparency has no parameters, it’s freeing to the spirit. It’s, even more, freeing when you can share your story about balancing your real life journey. My current journey involves me being a hyphenated hustler. I am a full-time entrepreneur that on occasion works a corporate 9 to 5. I am a planner and like to think ahead. I maintain a certain financial threshold that I consistently check to make sure I am on track to keeping a roof over my head and being able to run a business. I also know as a new business owner, which means everything you make the first couple of years has to be reinvested immediately to ensure longevity. While I made pretty good income from my business in 2017 ($40K), it was a bit inconsistent and I had to use some of my savings. Prior to 2017, my business income never surpassed $10K so I’m proud of my progress. I would also like to keep the momentum going and gain more consistency. In order to do that I have to keep my business funded. Funding will allow me to continue advertising, marketing, and networking to keep my brand relevant. Needless to say, I had to think about what can I do to raise a lot of money to sustain my wellness business as I go into 2018. The answer was of course to moonlight in my old vocation.
I initially had mixed emotions about it. I was concerned about how I would balance full-time entrepreneurship with a corporate 9 to 5. I have gotten used to a more open schedule but I reasoned with myself that it’s short term so I could push through the fear. I spend the first 2-3 hours of my day working on my business before I head out to the 9 to 5. I also work over lunch and after work to keep things going. When you are passionate about something, it’s hard to sleep without pursuing it. I do my best Monday through Friday then use the weekends to do everything else.
I was also concerned about how others would view my choice. Here I was planning a Quit Your Job Conference but working a 9 to 5 to help fund the event. The truth is all of my decisions are related to staying in business. Rather than go out of business due to pride, I had to let my fear go. I could either temporarily balance the two or deal with the consequences of not surviving and having to permanently go back into the corporate world. The lesson learned was most people judging my decision have probably not ever stepped out into entrepreneurship and would only understand once they had the experience. Living your dream is a process and very humbling, yet every step is rewarding and takes you out of your comfort zone into the unknown. The beauty of consulting is I still have the option of leaving once my goal is met without creating bad ties or burning bridges. I also have the option of working with the same company at a later date if I choose. In a full-time position sometimes your soon to be former employer take your decision to leave personal and will shun you because they are disappointed or upset. Being a consultant says my time here is limited and I don’t have to hide it. You also earn a lot more per hour as a consultant. My ultimate goal from a consulting standpoint is to hire a couple of people and eventually only serve as manager. Therefore, the connection I am making today, I can use at a later date as well. As a hyphenated hustler, you always have to think five steps ahead. I’ve made peace with my decision and I’m looking forward to 2018 being better than 2017.
Peace and Blessings
I never go home in December. I’m from the Midwest and the winters can be miserable. However, the potential of new life pulled me for my first December home in about 10 years. I left Atlanta excited and in great anticipation of what was to come. I fell in love with those first few days and then winter showed up both literally and figuratively. In the midst of my shifting mood, I decided to do what I had not intended which was go to my source. This trip wasn’t about seeing what already existed, in my mind it was about finding and creating new life. However, when things fall apart the source can be the light at the end of the tunnel.
When I arrived he was there alone. The source I refer to is my dad, the waters from which I came into physical form. One third of the equation so to speak. The Creator and my mother also had their hand in the pot. I honestly didn’t think anyone would be home so I was just planning to sit in my car. I had a lot on my mind.
I’ve always had a great relationship with my dad. He has taught me a lot about life, love and relationships. Once I seen his truck, I immediately got out of my car. We rarely got our time alone. Normally when I go home everyone is there. My dad has had an interesting life and has always taken a special interest in sharing his story with me. I still remember our rides in the car. It would be only us and I don’t think we had a true destination but the conversation was always fascinating. I still quote some of his best advice.
A woman with no man, can never tell a woman with a man how to have a man.
Stay focused on your education because the same men you see today will still be around after you take care of that.
You probably will meet hundreds of men in your lifetime so don’t get caught up with the first one you meet.
He always talked in riddles but I was quick on my feet in the translation department. I listened with my soul and I understood in my heart that he was warning me about being derailed from my path too early in life. He had high hopes for me and saw pieces of himself in me. He made a lot of mistakes but those moments in the car was his opportunity to rewrite his future (me). He was always very candid about his mistakes and he didn’t want me to leave his home without knowing how the world might be once I faced it on my own. I learned from him the value of a man and how I could create healthy relationships with men without feeling the need to take off my clothes in return. A great relationship with your father teaches you that you have more to offer to the world than just your physical form. I learned to rely on my intuition but also on my bullshit barometer. He taught me to look for motives and I learned on my own how to combine the two theories. Blind faith with a keen eye for bullshit. I became a silent observer of people but I also learned to call people on their bullshit (from my mom of course). It doesn’t take long for me to figure most people out but I learned from him to allow people to reveal themselves to you as well. ‘Once you know what you are dealing with then you can respond accordingly.’ My translation of his life lessons.
As I’ve gotten older, I wondered away from him. The amazing thing about the source is they come to understand that your wondering will always lead you back home. So they just wait with open arms, prepared to dust you off, kiss you on the cheek and send you back out in the world. This time was no different. He spoke first and my eyes widened as he spoke about what was on my mind without me needing to verbalize it. At some point I realized he was being spoken through so I listened. We talked for two hours standing on opposite ends of the kitchen. My mother arrived about an hour in but she must have recognized the sacredness of that moment and she allowed us to continue. That day my father said everything I needed to hear. It dawned on me that he knew me in a way most people will never get to know me. We are forever bonded in a way that words can never express.
As I returned back to warmer climates I realized that I still need my father. I also know we are never far apart. Your source will always know exactly what you need. Sometimes they are just waiting for you to ask….
Peace and Blessings
Recently I have been in contact with someone from the distant past. Some things have surfaced as a reminder to remain consciously curious and vigilant about not allowing past experiences to take the fun out of getting to know someone. Experience has taught me to initially keep my guard up and look for a motive. As I observe my interaction with this person, my normal response seems to be nonexistent as if the guards have somehow gone on lunch break. I find myself tilting my head to the side with conscious curiosity as I try to figure that one out. Conscious curiosity means I slow down long enough to observe my own words, thoughts, and interactions in each situation.
Spirituality has taught me
- There is no such thing as coincidence. People appear for a reason, a season or lifetime. I do believe there is a storyline (purpose) that we agreed to prior to coming here. I also believe part of the journey is discovering or reconnecting with that purpose. The people who appear can either take you closer or further away from your purpose and it’s up to us to stay attuned to who is who. It is up to us to ask the question, what am I supposed to learn from this person? I don’t think everyone you meet you are supposed to continue with. I can call to memory at least one lesson from every major relationship I’ve had with other people.
- Change only comes from awareness. It’s hard to change what you don’t know exist. For years I walked around in a cloud, a protective cloud of ignorance. It was the best thing for me at the time. Some days I wish I could go back to my blissful ignorance, but you can’t make yourself unconscious. You can ignore your conscious, but I’ve learned it only creates conflict that shows up as stress and sleepless nights. I know there are patterns I have repeated and roles in relationships that I have agreed to with my silence. While I have no regrets, I also know that it’s now my responsibility to make different choices in relationships. I have this 60-day rule. The guardian’s post. Where I don’t let an inch of my guard down until I can gauge your intention. Once I know it, even if I don’t like it I know how to handle the situation. I know what category to place the individual in. I never really named them before but I’ll label them as follows; potential, friend zone and not an option. About 80% end up in ‘not an option’. 19% in the ‘friend zone’ and a small 1% end up in ‘potential’. That means if I meet 100 people only 1 I will consider true potential. On occasion, friend zone occupants can make a leap to potential but sometimes the conversion is rocky. The catch is friend zoned is a necessary evil. It’s rare that upon first introductions you go to the top-tier. Some see friend zone as the death zone but that’s not always the case with me. ‘Friend zone’ is where I go to make an assessment of your character and true potential.
- Experience stifles possibility. Sometimes our experiences can leave such a negative imprint that we vow to never repeat. The only catch to that is, it requires us to block all potential. People can show up with really no agenda other than to love you completely. However, pain from the past or an attachment to the possibility of pain can stand in the way. We stop allowing the impossible to be possible. If I can’t authentically communicate what I need, then I run the risk of never allowing another to step up to meet the need. When I can’t authentically be myself, it’s hard for me to stay engaged with another because I’m always hiding a part of myself. This is where prayer and meditation have been my ally. Conscious curiosity has become my state of mind.
The last six months I’ve seen glimpses of past experiences as well as the potential for the future. Some experiences were definite deal breakers while others opened my eyes to new possibilities. I trust that my sacred prayers are being received by the universe and each experience is my confirmation.
Peace and Blessings
We do not achieve self control through the suppression of our emotions, but by being mindful of them and taking seriously the information they convey.. This inner space allows us the wisdom to act upon feelings conducive to our well being and not act upon those harmful to it. The feeling that ultimately comes to occupy this space is a deep and abiding peace. Such peace is the emotional reward of a spiritual life – Thomas Schenk
Emotions are friendly messages from your inner world. During a conversation I became extremely emotional about feeling burdened by family ties. The burden of unwanted expectations and manipulation. It’s almost like I reverted back to an old thought process of ‘if I am taking care of everyone’s else’s needs, who is going to take care of me’. My anger felt fueled by another’s attempt to get me to see it another way but instead of compassion I felt more anger. I felt a need to defend my stance to make clear that nobody’s opinion would sway my own.
To feel bound by the expectations of another is not always easy to shake especially when you are being constantly reminded of it. My response to it is my line in the sand. It creates a boundary that makes it clear where I stand. It provides clarity and consistency. A softer response doesn’t get the same reaction as a passionate hell no. A softer response equates to death to self. Often we are taught to sacrifice who we are for the unhealthy codependent needs of another. There is nothing spiritually, mentally or socially healthy or acceptable about these demands. The demands of others often cut off your freedom and impact your health.
Emotional responses are often associated with negativity or seen as a sign of weakness so we learn to suppress our feelings. On the surface the problem looks resolved but internally we create the pathway to imbalances in the physical body. Those imbalances impact the immune system and can make you vulnerable to diseases. Suppression creates stress that will eventually trigger a need for a physical release from the body. Suppression also often cuts off our communication and connection with others. For me it means putting distance between myself and whomever I no longer feel is a safe outlet. It is not blind agreement that I seek but rather compassion and understanding for what I feel. Spiritual consciousness and emotional intelligence means I have the right to feel how I feel. Even if my response isn’t agreed with.
Suppressing emotions may be a socially-approved…but it may cause negative things to happen that can affect your mental and physical health
Past experiences become a double edge sword even for the spiritually adept. Spiritual freedom allows you to live in the moment yet there is an unconscious part of you always ready to respond to the present moment with past emotions. It takes much practice to stay in the present moment. It takes practice to remember that your current freedom isn’t at risk. Some wounds are harder to heal than others. Awareness and reflection are a part of the healing process.
When faced with an uncomfortable emotional response instead of trying to resolve it, just allow it to happen with no attachment to the outcome. Some family dynamics are hard to explain.
The people I’ve met over the last six months have been very colorful. Not in terms of their outward appearance but rather in terms of their experiences, exposure, and vibration. As I continue to evolve so does the caliber of beings who cross my path. One such being graced my Reiki table a few weeks ago. She entered my space with an honest skepticism. She explained how she kept feeling drawn to me. She had already done research and hoped the Reiki session could potentially clear up some things in her life. In her search, she felt drawn to me several times until she finally decided to call. Her intuition brought her to my doorsteps and she felt she had made the right choice.
I shared my background with her allowing her to become comfortable with who I was. She was rightfully adamant about who she was allowed to touch her energy. I explained how during the sessions I get spiritual insight and if she was open I would share it with her at the end. She was open to the feedback so we proceeded.
In Reiki, I start at the top of the head and move from chakra to chakra until I reach the feet. Chakras are subtle energy centers that surround the body. When I got to the third chakra, I started to feel a young kid in her energy field. It was a jovial little girl who appeared to be laughing and playing. She kept swinging her head from side to side. I felt an abundance of love and happiness as she danced around the room. At the end of the session I mentioned the little girl to my surprise she immediately lit up. I said you have a baby coming soon and it’s a little girl. She said she already knew what she would name her and everyone in her family already knew the name. I immediately felt a similarity in our paths. We spent the next hour exchanging stories about our lives and spiritual experiences. When she left I felt a sense of happiness. It reaffirmed that I was truly walking in my purpose and having an impact on the lives of others. It is my belief that no coincidences exist. We are always exactly where we need to be when we need to be there.
Peace and Blessings
I am a spiritual being having a human experience.
I recently personally thanked a friend for attending one of my classes. He curiously asked if I hadn’t expected him to come. I explained my view on expectations, basically, I had none. It is my belief that all who should be there will be there. This allows me not to focus on attendance but beyond that, it keeps me in a constant state of gratitude. It’s an authentic gratitude because I know at that moment a person has many options on how to spend their time. It is not my right to obligate anyone or to tie my success into someone else’s actions. When a student appears I see it as alignment. My choice to lead combined with their choice to attend is alignment, not a coincidence. Whenever I get to share a part of me with someone else, I am thankful.
Not everyone operates under this belief system. We often assume family and friends know we appreciate them. It takes two seconds to acknowledge someone’s effort and help free them from guilt, sorrow or feeling they’ve disappointed you because of expectations. Not everyone in your life is meant to serve in the capacity in which you want them to. They may want another role or serve a completely different purpose. Letting go of expectations and allowing others to show up how they choose reduces internal and external conflicts.
When you operate from a space of no expectations, you allow the universe to send who is supposed to be there. After class, I could call everyone to find out why they didn’t make it to class. I could get so caught up in the drama of expectations that I miss the opportunity to see the people who have a genuine interest in what I do. Expectations become a distraction and could cause me to miss out on the person who wants to explain the impact my class has had on them. I do not focus my attention on what’s not in my control instead I focus on what is presented to me in that moment. The moment someone appears I instantly become thankful. I feel gratitude for being allowed to guide them. I openly show my appreciation but I also silently send blessings as well. Whether we accept it or not we are being guided. Therefore I purposely thank people for their time and acknowledge the light that guided them into my personal universe. The people that choose to come to my mindfulness classes are making an investment in themselves. The alignment is bigger than me and I am honored to be their leader. My gratitude is sincerely to encourage them to keep following their light even if that light does not lead them back to me.
Peace and Blessings
I recently took a four-week break from networking to evaluate my experiences and to come up with a new strategy. Being new to the game and trying to get my feet off the ground, meant I spent the first 90 days going to any and every event. In retrospect, this was not the most effective approach because I found myself burned out and reluctant to continue in that way. Although I was meeting great people, those individuals weren’t always open to the services I provide. I quickly discovered that networking without a defined strategy is draining.
After a few weeks of rest and relaxation, I was able to redefine my networking target and niche. My intention is to focus on partnering with companies that are interested in providing mindfulness in the workplace options for their employees. I decided to take it a level further by creating a list of three specific professions to focus my efforts on including human resource, accounting, and health care professionals.
Human Resource professionals from a health and wellness standpoint are the gate keepers to benefits programs offered to employees. Beyond that every year human resource departments gear up for annual enrollment. Annual enrollment is when employees are added to the insurance plan for the upcoming year, the process usually starts in the fall and ends after the new year. This timeframe is very intense for benefits department which means a mindfulness practice can decrease burnout and improve overall mood.
Accountants on the other hand gear up for year end followed by audit and tax season. For accountants, December through April tends to be a highly stressful time of the year t since all three activities tend to overlap and have competing deadlines. This is also the time when most accountants work late nights and weekends, a mindfulness practice can increase clarity, concentration, and alleviate tension.
Last but not least I want to focus on health care professionals who are constantly on the front line helping to ensure the well being of others. Health care professionals are tasked with making difficult decisions quickly. A mindfulness practice would be a great way to manage everyday challenges, increase resilience and improve coping skills associated with the health profession.
By deciding to use my knowledge of corporate departments and also tapping into the expertise of close friends who work in these environments I was able to create a better strategy. If you are currently seeking a networking strategy here are ten steps to consider in your plan.
- Evaluate your target market and niche
- Choose 3-5 areas to focus on
- Define what successful networking means for you
- Create a metrics to measure your progress
- Every quarter evaluate your strategy and adjust it as needed
- Get involved in the community by joining causes and associations you believe in
- Volunteer at events that tie into your interest and business
- Attend a lot of events to increase your confidence, practice your approach and study the crowd
- Have fun and be fun to be around
- Drop expectations and trust the process
These steps should get you off to a great start. As you find your footing, more opportunities that are in alignment with your higher goals will appear. Stay positive and stay the course.
Peace and Blessings