For a good chunk of my life, I’ve had a certain conflict between the desire to reach my potential (or, more dramatically, fulfill my destiny) and the equally important desire to have lots of fun and not take things too seriously or work too hard.

Does this ring a bell with you?

This dilemma is probably more common in the United States than in other countries because there’s such an emphasis on capitalism and financial/material success here.

I also deeply resonate with Lady Gaga’s acceptance speech last Sunday when she won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for Shallow: “If you’re sitting on your couch and you’re watching this right now all I have to say is this is hard work. I’ve worked hard for a long time and it’s not about winning. What it’s about is not giving up. If you have a dream, fight for it. There’s a discipline for passion. And it’s not about how many times you get rejected or you fall down or you’re beaten up. It’s about how many times you stand up and are brave and you keep on going.”

Amen, sister!

So, how do we vocalists, teachers, performers and big dreamers keep our perspective?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had corporate jobs that paid me plenty of money but left me feeling unfulfilled. I’ve started businesses that ultimately ‘failed’ because I couldn’t support myself. I was married for 12 years, and that marriage ended in divorce. I’ve had friendships come and go and others which have endured for years.

Now, as a voice teacher, ever-growing vocalist, and actor taking on auditions, I’ve found my authentic niche.  I’m in the best personal relationship of my life with my partner of nearly six and a half years, and the friendships I have are mutually respectful, loving and supportive. I’m even volunteering to start a small local community choir.

All the same, I still find myself seeking a better balance more often than I like to admit.

In hopes my experience will help you, here are two practices I’ve found vital to staying on track with my inner, essential self.

1) Regularly check in to ensure you’re living your life on purpose – by design, rather than by default. Details are here on my website in the Me Now PDF under “free stuff”: http://laurahandke.com/free-stuff/.

2) Complete a periodic intuitive brainstorming session, especially if you’re an entrepreneur in business for yourself, to flush out what you want to create/accomplish and break the process down into next steps.  

Here’s an image of the session I completed February 5th. One step that arose was to schedule a video conference with a couple of fellow professional women friends for additional feedback, ideas and inspiration.

The two delightful, accomplished women who joined me for that conference earlier today were Julanne Dalke, voice artist and writer, and Joanne McCall, publicity specialist. Plenty of feedback, ideas and inspiration flowed in the little over an hour we spent together and the biggest theme (for me, anyway) was the balance/perspective I’m writing about in this post.

“Following the strands” is how Julanne has learned to most successfully create the life she loves to live. Julanne has gone through some tough stuff; yet the things she has been able to manifest (some of which have had absolutely nothing to do with the goals she “thought” she wanted) are downright astonishing.

In our conference call, I had mentioned feeling “guilty” because I did basically nothing all day yesterday. I hadn’t slept well and woke up without much energy. So, I cancelled my calendar items and stayed in bed with my cat, napping and finishing up a novel.

I had a lot more energy when I got out of bed this morning.

Strands – ideas, inspiration, next steps, inner guidance “out of nowhere” – can’t come to us when we’re pushing through our to-do list and feeling anxious, with constant thoughts of what we’re not getting done, what went wrong, or what we should be doing.

Julanne’s advice? Take a nap, pet your cat, and let the magic happen.

Focusing upon a solution makes you feel positive emotion. Focusing upon a problem makes you feel negative emotion, and while the differences are subtle, they are very important, for when you are feeling positive emotion, you are attracting into your experience that which you want. When you are feeling negative emotion, you are attracting into your experience that which you do not want. –The Law of Attraction: The Basics of the Teachings of Abraham, Esther and Jerry Hicks

As we discussed the power of the mind and our thought patterns, Joanne shared a brilliant analogy I’d like you to envision.

We all know how one pesky thought can lead us into a downward spiraling rabbit hole we’d be better off not following.

Imagine you are sitting in front of a cozy fireplace, enjoying the warmth. A negative thought flies out of the fire like a spark and lands on the sweater you’re wearing. All you have to do is flick it off, and the spark will immediately extinguish before it starts your sweater (or anything else nearby) smoldering and eventually flaming.

How awesome is that?!

See, there’s a reason the strand of scheduling this conference came up in my intuitive brainstorming session.

Now I don’t feel one bit guilty about taking the day off yesterday. I’m looking forward to my upcoming training gigs for the National Speakers Association and Dress for Success, lessons with my four talented students tomorrow, and helping out with the local community choir.

Feel free to take a nap and pet your cat (or dog, horse, bunny, iguana, motorcycle…) You just never know where the next strand might lead!

To Your Voice,

Laura

I came away with a much better understanding of how to do, and effectively use, belly breathing to speak confidently, efficiently and effectively. -Caroline M.

Laura is a skilled teacher and observer of her students. -Anita E.

Supportive, fun, safe…and immediately applicable tools and skills. -Barbara M.

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)