Running Toward Our Wildest Dreams

“Dare to dream! If you did not have the capability to make your wildest wishes come true, your mind would not have the capacity to conjure such ideas in the first place. There is no limitation on what you can potentially achieve, except for the limitation you choose to impose on your own imagination. What you believe to be possible will always come to pass – to the extent that you deem it possible. It really is as simple as that.” – Anthon St. Maarten

Disney Dreams

By Dawn Onley

Five years ago, I took part in a life coach training class. In one of the exercises, the instructor gave us 60 seconds to jot down our wildest dreams. She wouldn’t allow us to think too long. Instead, she encouraged us to just write down whatever flowed out of our minds and onto the sheet of paper in front of us.

“What if it’s something we didn’t intend to write down, because we’re being rushed?” someone asked. The class laughed.

“If it’s something that you write down, chances are it’s something that you dream about, even if it’s in the deep recesses of your mind,” the instructor responded. “After all, it came from your mind.”

I thought this was a useful exercise as it tapped into our hidden longings. It made us consider that we may not even be fully aware of some of our dreams. The ones we focus on the most are generally the ones that rise to the surface (e.g. find lasting love, build a family, etc.), but what this exercise also revealed to me were the dormant dreams that we may not focus on with the same intensity every day, but that we still deeply desire. It was truly eye-opening.

These were on my list:

Live in Cape Town, South Africa or Paris for a period of time.

Learn a foreign language.

Be my own boss.

Leave a legacy.

Get certified as a life coach.

Launch a blog.

Run another marathon.

Travel extensively.

Write books.

Wait, what?

Huh?

Do I really want all of this? Apparently in my wildest dreams I do! It’s what I wrote down in that class five years ago, when I had only 60 seconds and couldn’t stop my pen from writing and writing on that blank piece of paper.

“How could I possibly know if I’d even like writing a book? I’ve never done it,” I thought when the time was up. “Life coach. Really? Run another marathon? When the first one took everything I had and then some?”

The funny thing about dreams is once we’re fully aware of them, they don’t go away. They nag at us until we launch the blog or travel to that bucket list locale. Suddenly, we see images of our dreams jump out at us from the TV, on the magazine pages, while we’re out walking, as the runner waves and goes about her merry way. Everywhere, we see what we dream of, as vivid as the stars against the deep, black, country sky.

“The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn, the bird waits in the egg, and in the highest vision of the soul, a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.”– James Allen.

These seedlings are in our minds, just waiting to be born. And as I learned yesterday, upon reading the email that made my jaw drop, if we’re not careful, these dreams may just find us registered and running this year’s Marine Corps Marathon.

Loc Hawk

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All Women Need a Personal Photoshoot

By Samantha McKenzie

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I’m going to ask you to schedule a personal photoshoot for yourself. All of us need one. It’s going to feel a little uncomfortable at first, but it’s necessary for your growth and development as a woman.

This is not to be confused with the family photo that you take every year around Christmas time. It’s not going to be like the standard head shot you took at graduation. This photoshoot will be an exercise in loving yourself, in valuing your contribution and in coming out of your shell. It’s time you celebrate your most extraordinary feature: a beautiful existence.

Model Photoshoot at Cubbon Park, Bangalore.

Now I know this sounds a bit strange. And I know some of you are like she’s got to be kidding. I can only imagine you saying the same things I say or things I hear women saying every day when it’s time to shine the light on them. “I don’t like taking pictures.” “I look fat!” “My hair is a mess.” Cue the music.

I want to encourage you to silence your insecurities…immediately. I want you to take a leap of faith and trust that you will have a great experience. If we’re going to be seen for who we truly are, we’ve got to start getting use to being out front, speaking up, taking the microphone when it’s necessary and letting a little “flash” hit us. Like Congresswoman Maxine Waters did this week. Like we all must do when those monsters raise their ugly heads.

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The photoshoot is a platform for you to get comfortable being seen. It’s not about being a fashion model. It’s not even about taking a perfect picture. We’ve been smiling through our struggles ever since we can remember. This time will be different.

This exercise should take you only an hour. That’s one hour for you to dedicate to yourself. It’s going to be a time for you to enjoy. I won’t lie, it’s definitely going to feel awkward at first, but I want you to push through without giving up. Don’t be afraid to show off your widest smile. It’s perfectly okay to laugh out loud. Don’t worry too much about your outfit. You can dress up in that perfect dress or wear the clothes that you feel the most comfortable in. Get your hair and nails done to top it off.Related image

If you don’t know a local photographer, ask around. Find one that you can afford and then schedule a date and time. Decide if you’d like outdoor or indoor portraits. Ask the photographer about iconic locations in your city or town. Is there a popular building or statue that you’ve always loved? Is there an historical park or old bridge that you’ve admired from a distance? What about an industrial site or brick wall that you’ve passed by before? Find a location that speaks to you and your personality.

Here are the rules:

  1. Schedule it soon (30,60,90 days). Take about a week to find someone and then book them. You can pick a date in the near future and discuss payment options.
  2. Do it solo. Don’t bring anyone with you. You can do this.
  3. Don’t make about a holiday. Just pick a regular ole random day. It’s about you, not an event.
  4. Encourage yourself through the process. Don’t say negative things out loud or inside your head during the session. It’s counterproductive.
  5. Let the photographer help you. If you don’t know what to do, they will. Let them be the experts and guide you through the poses. Be vulnerable. You don’t have to control this too. *smirks*
  6. Relax and have fun. There’s no need to be tense. Just agree that your doing this for no particular reason other than your an amazing person and you deserve it.
  7. Send us your best shot!

Good luck on this new adventure. I hope you share this with all of the women in your circle. Encourage them to schedule their photoshoots too and let us see the finished product. I guarantee this will make you feel more confident, ALIVE and ready for the next phase of your life.

If you need a little push, give me a call!

 

 

 

Believe in the Brilliance of You!

“The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.” — Bertrand Russell

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By Dawn Onley

It never ceases to amaze me how many intelligent, talented, generally likeable people there are in this vast world who question their abilities and devalue their worth.

They put themselves down, sell themselves short while bragging about their kids, their spouse, their family and friends, literally everyone else, including the dog. When the conversation shifts to them, they become uneasy, downplaying their accomplishments, never taking credit for their brilliance, hiding their light under a bushel.

Meanwhile, a less bright, more confident person has no problem at all taking credit for the idea that he likely got from you at the water cooler at work. This cocksure person has no issue with advocating a higher salary or position for himself, while you meekly accept whatever is given to you.

This is unfortunate, sad and incredulous, and yet a fact of life for some.

People with oversized talent and little confidence accept less than they deserve. I’ve often wondered how it could be possible that they are unsure of their brilliance — whether it was something they learned as a child or if they picked it up as an adult, possibly after failing at something.

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My biggest wish for these doubting souls is the internalization of beliefs that others have in them. I wish them a healthy boost of self-esteem and confidence. I wish them the boundless possibilities that are waiting for them, once they believe.

I realize now that intelligence and talent are not enough — nothing is actually — if a person doesn’t believe in his or her own abilities. Talent, confidence, determination, drive – these combined attributes are what it takes to reach new heights.

Iyanla Vanzant, the TV personality, speaker, author and life coach, says what we believe about ourselves is reflected back in what we attract to ourselves. “We cannot outperform our level of self-esteem. We cannot draw to ourselves more than we think we are worth.”

Trust Yourself

Whatever it is you want to achieve, believe in your power to do so — and then watch as you make it so.

Go get your bliss. Trust yourself. Believe in your abilities. Stop running away from your greatness!

Let’s Talk About “Adulting”

By Samantha McKenzie

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Adulting is the new word millennials are using to describe anything that they do that makes them feel like a grown up. For right now, it’s only found in the Urban Dictionary and all over social media. It means taking care of responsibilities like holding down a full-time job, paying rent or making a car payment, or even cooking a dinner (that didn’t come out of a package).

Our young people are completely in shock. They’re feeling the pangs of responsibility and they’re not liking it. Seems as though the “I’m grown” comments we’ve all heard them spew was all talk. Today’s young adults are in dire need of our help. It’s time they grew up, the right way.

Follow the adulting hashtags and you’ll see them celebrate their daily achievements, like making their own doctors appointment.

“I just went to my 9-5. Ugh!” #adulting

“Sometimes you have to make the decision to stay home and not party every weekend so you have money to pay your bills #adulting

“When all your bills are due on the same date!” #adulting

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Welcome to the real world.

I remember when I got my first job at 16. My mother made me contribute $50 of my pay check to the household. She also made me open up a savings account. When I went away to college, I called home to thank my mom for teaching me how to wash my clothes and take out the trash. I appreciated learning all of those household chores after living with dorm mates who didn’t get the same lessons.

When I graduated from college, I moved back home and got a full-time job as a copy editor for a financial company. My mom made me take over all of the utility bills. All of them. I learned how to pay bills on time and when I didn’t, I taught myself how to negotiate with the bill collectors on late payments.

Image result for your futureI learned to turn down invitations to events I just couldn’t afford to attend. I learned to walk away from enticing sales at the department stores for clothes I thought I couldn’t live without. We looked forward to the responsibilities back then because we knew it was tied to our independence. In those days, growing up meant not having to listen to your parents anymore. And that luxury came with a price tag: It included living on your own, paying your own bills and taking care of your needs. Back then parents cared more about your needs, and less about satisfying your wants.

Now it’s our turn. It’s time we ditch the helicopter gig (smirk!) and train our children how to “adult” on their own.

Start with the list that your parents created for you then add things that you wished someone would have told you sooner. Here’s my list that I share with my children and the young adults that I come in contact with:

  1. Pay your bills first. Learn to stagger the payment dates so they aren’t all due on the first of the month.
  2. Save money and learn how to invest, early on. Save money and invest early on. (Just thought I should emphasize this one.)
  3. Learn about life insurance and then get your own. Matter of fact, get your own car, health, homeowners, renters and pet insurance while you’re at it.
  4. Be spontaneous about low-cost items. That means make sure your young, vibrant, spontaneous personality matches up with your paycheck. Sign up for the things you can afford.
  5. Plan ahead for more costly adventures. Yes you can travel the world. Just plan ahead and set up a travel account, look for deals, and when you’re just starting out, skip the five-star hotels.
  6. Eat well. Learn that all foods that are good for you, won’t taste amazing. Eat brussel spouts and learn to like it. Yeh, and eat a variety of other fresh herbs and vegetables. You’ll live longer.
  7. Say no. To yourself, that is. You don’t have to shop at every sale. You don’t have to accept every invitation. You don’t need 100 pair of shoes. You just don’t.
  8. Be on time. To work especially, but to anywhere that you make a commitment. It’s very adult of  you to show up at the time that you were supposed to.
  9. Leave work on time. You can get ahead in the company without working 80 hours a week. Work smarter and then go home and enjoy your life.
  10. Keep your house clean. This happens by creating daily habits. Hang your clothes up. Wash the dishes every night. Leave the bathroom tidy. It will help you spend more time at home. You don’t have to wait until the weekend to clean anymore.
  11. Take care of yourself, but think of others. Find ways to care for yourself (massages, walks in the park, exercise). It will keep you happy. Then learn to care for someone else. If it’s not a family member, adopt a grandparent, volunteer at the local recreation center or become a big sister. Learn to take care of someone besides yourself.

Let’s encourage our next generation to be their very best. Let’s support our future.

What I’ve Learned Over the Past Year…

To Do List

By Dawn Onley

I have a confession to make.

I love lists! Making them. Reading them. Experiencing them.

I have beautifully bound journals of lists that I’ve jotted down over the years, that I can’t seem to throw away. I’ve managed to convince myself that they are worth saving. That I’ll want to read these lists someday when I’m old.

I’m always creating some type of list, whether it’s books to check out, movies to see, music to buy, or restaurants to try. I make the ordinary grocery store lists and ‘to do’ lists, but I don’t stop there. I create lists of places to travel, stocks to research, Web sites to visit and articles to read. I jot down quotes that move me. Wines to try. You name it. I have lists for days. I find that lists help me remember stuff. Lists also give me something to weigh my progress, or lack thereof, against. I find great satisfaction in checking stuff off my lists, and have even been known to write in an item that I initially forgot just to check it off. Don’t judge.

I also enjoy reading other people’s lists. I’m normally the one who gets sucked in by those articles with flashy headlines that promise to show me “10 Ways to Stop Procrastinating” or the “Top 10 Things Successful People Do When They First Wake Up.”

I’m such a sucker for lists. I even make lists of things I’ve learned. For example, each year I brood on the insights that I’ve gleaned over the previous year and then usually arrive at an assessment on or near my birthday.

These discoveries might not be earth shattering to most, but they are revelations (or reminders) to me. I’ve implemented some of these. Others I’m still figuring out. But I’m entrenched in the process. That’s the important thing. I’m discovering and evolving and working on me. Always.

Below are some of my epiphanies over the past year, in no particular order.

Hooray for lists!

Happy black woman

 

  • I’ve learned that I can get my 4-year-old son to eat all of his vegetables when I tell him veggies will make his muscles grow big.
  • I’ve learned that it’s much tougher to start exercising at the same level as before, once I’ve stopped. In the long run, it’s much easier to keep at it. Consistency really counts.biking
  • I’ve learned that I need to implement a shut off time to quit working. The downside to working from home is that I usually end up working more hours than a traditional position.
  • I’ve learned to ignore some things that annoy me or have the potential to make me stress.
  • I’ve learned that I love roasted beets with goat cheese and mixed greens (who knew?)
  • I’ve learned that I love charm bracelets.
  • I’ve learned that I can reinvent myself.
  • I’ve learned that I really do want a nose piercing and one more tattoo. No, this is not a midlife crisis.
  • I’ve learned that the only limits that exist are the ones in my own mind.
  • I’ve learned that I can ride in the first car on the Incredible Hulk roller coaster ride and live to tell about it.
  • I’ve learned that indecision is a decision.
  • I’ve learned that some people won’t call my son Spider-Man/Captain America/Incredible Hulk/Raptor/T-Rex/King Kong/Arlo/Spot/or whomever else he wishes to be on any given day, in spite of his wishes. But I tell him that if he thinks he’s a Super-Hero, a Dinosaur or a gigantic ape, who cares what other people think?
  • I’ve learned that some people will want your help but won’t be willing to help you. I’ve learned to concentrate my efforts on supporting the people who support me.
  • I’ve learned that what we believe about ourselves comes true.
  • I’ve learned that it takes energy to get things done, and that now is not the time to get tired.
  • I’ve learned that I have some of the best friends on this side of Heaven.
  • I’ve learned to really appreciate all of the joy that my family brings to my life for one day, sadly, our loved ones will be gone.
  • I’ve learned to accept people exactly where they are without trying to change them.
  • I’ve learned to reimagine my “save the world” dreams. If I can help one person, I am playing a part in benefitting the greater good.
  • I’ve learned that it’s ok to be vulnerable around people I trust.
  • I’ve learned that it’s never too late to form a healthier habit or to start a new tradition.
  • I’ve learned that some fights I will have to let my son work out for himself.
  • I’ve learned that apple cider vinegar and honey cures a lot of ills.
  • I’ve learned that a sisterhood of like-minded women can help ignite a revolution.
  • I’ve learned that I’m a daughter of Sarah, the mother of faith, and I should start acting like it.
  • I’ve learned that the more water I drink, the more water my body craves.
  • I’ve learned that I really want to sky dive, and might do so this year.
  • I’ve learned to pray for endurance, for the race is not given to the swift nor the strong, but (s)he who endures until the end.
  • I’ve learned not to fear failure or success.
  • I’ve learned that marriage is a daily commitment.
  • I’ve learned to trust myself more.
  • I’ve learned that I want it all. And that I want all of my friends and family to have it all, too.
  • I’ve learned that learning something new as often as possible feeds my mind and helps me grow.
  • I’ve learned that we’re not always forced into bravery by situations that we have no control over, like an illness or death. We can also walk into bravery by choice.
  • I’ve learned that this is what I want to do. Be brave. By choice.
  • I’ve learned that I have so much to learn. And so much to do!
  • I’ve learned. I’m learning.Productivity Planner

Get Out the Way!

By Samantha McKenzie

This weekend, spend time getting out of your way. That’s right. Get out of your own way. Move those mental obstacles to the side (perceived or real). Unblock the parts of you that are clogged up with remnants from the past. They no longer serve a purpose. They no longer serve you.

Image result for take small steps to change your lifeMake a list of what’s stopping you. What’s stopping you from dreaming bigger? What’s holding you back from starting over? What’s in your way? Or better yet, who’s in your way?By now, you’ve relived that tired old story, fretted repeatedly about your poor choices, failed outcomes, blah, blah, blah. Lessons learned.

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Write down three steps you can accomplish over the next two days. Make the steps achievable. Instead of writing an entire business proposal, just commit writing an outline. If you want to go back to school, research your top three choices. Try chopping away at small pieces. Take action.Image result for take small steps to change your life

Then celebrate each accomplishment – big or small. Reward yourself for making it to the next step. You are capable of doing this and more.

Share one of your accomplishments with us on Sunday. Tell Women Who Hope about the obstacle that was holding you back. Share with us one of the steps you completed.

Join the thousands of women out there who are moving out of their own way and moving closer to their magic! Good luck!

 

Take a Chance on an Extraordinary Life

“If you want to know your past, look into your present conditions. If you want to know your future, look into your present actions.” – Padmasambhava

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By Dawn Onley

It’s so easy to get into a rut. The routines of family life, the drudgery of unfulfilling work, the comfort of familiarity, the predictability of each day, all have the power to suck us in like a tornado. It takes effort to go beyond what is there now, to whirl our way out of our present conditions and arrive on the doorstep of our dreams.

It’s not impossible, but it’s tough work. It doesn’t surprise me at all that many choose to remain in this mundane existence. It’s easier. It’s safer. There’s less room for disappointment or error. There is a certain contentment in what is known and commonplace.

The road less traveled has always been just that. While few brave souls venture out to live their passion and create their destiny, everyone else is stuck in a logjam with tons of other motorists, with hopes of at least maneuvering into the HOV lane to get to our daily existence, albeit a bit quicker.

Direction

Getting started

It can be terrifying to take a chance — on the unknown, on love, on creating a path that we customize for ourselves, learning along the way. So instead, we create outlandish goals like winning the Powerball, because it’s too hard and too hurtful to set realistic goals and not reach them. Instead, we backpedal on the things that we initially said we wanted, insisting that we never wanted them to begin with. We resign ourselves to an ordinary life and try to silence our extraordinary dreams.

We do this out of fear.

But for those who possess a radical courage and a trailblazing spirit, those who want to venture out to see what’s out there in the great beyond, I wish you a million dandelions to cast your wish and the bright trail of a shooting star. I wish you God winks and open doors. I hope you make the right connections and find the right opportunities. I pray you have the Biblical faith of Daniel and the resolve of Ruth.

Opportunities

“Everything we have done up to this point in our lives has brought us EXACTLY to where we are now in our lives, and everything we do from this point on will take us to the next place in our lives: Every move forward or backwards commits us to some place in the future. If you want to be someplace different in the future than where you are right now, begin by moving in that direction today,” said my dear friend, Adisa Ajamu, an esteemed psychologist, author and scholar.

Today is the perfect day to take action. One year from now, you’ll be glad you did.