Leap of Faith

By Sharmaine L Hobbs, www.whenwomenawaken.com

In 2004, I took a trip to the Homestead Resort. When I got off at the Lexington exit to get some tablets, I saw a woman holding a sign that said, “STRANDED, NEED TO GET BACK TO MICHIGAN.”  I charged a tank of gas on my credit card and gave her the receipt. I knew this woman was the real reason I was led to get off the exit.  She was a stranger, but I recognized her.  She was me.  I wrote about the story in my journal and didn’t think about it anymore until 2008 when I shared it with a friend who shared it on his blog.  I didn’t know how far it would travel or the impact it would have.

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On January 1, 2011, I stood on the front of my lawn with 10 balloons in one hand and 10 prayers in another.  I looked heavenward as I said the prayers with all of my heart and then I released the balloons.  This ritual marked my leap of faith.  When I went back inside, I immediately turned my attention to the vision I’d created for my life over the past three years when it looked like my life had been turned upside down.  In actuality, it had been turned right side up.

I’d been in the real estate industry for the past 14 years. In 2008, things were churning in the marketplace. Even more so, things were churning on the inside of me.  For a long time, I’ve wanted to pursue my “true north” in life, which is doing women’s ministry, writing and speaking.  And even though I’ve been a fearless woman for most of my life, for some reason this time, I was frozen with fear. There seemed to be too much to lose.  I’d always heard that you must give up something to get something, but life was taking that to a whole new level. Everything seemed to be in jeopardy.  I wanted to pursue my purpose, but I didn’t want to give up the life I’d built, the home that I loved or the six digit income.  But it was falling apart anyway.

There was so much to consider… the bills which were mounting, the mortgage was in arrears, the tax bills were due, my earning potential was plummeting and there was unfinished business in my life.  But there was also this to consider…  I’d reinvented my life from scratch on three other occasions - and even started a business in a broom closet-, picked myself up from having lost everything, was a single Mom at 17 and raised a wonderful son. I  had championed many other things in my life. This time, though, fear gripped me. So instead of moving forward to do what had been a heart’s desire for so long, for the very thing that life had equipped and trained me to do – inspire, nurture and empower women – I was hanging on to the life that I had outgrown.

While life was swirling around about me, I took solace with my pen and pad.  I wrote morning and evening. I’d started writing my first book, When Women Awaken, only to find out that in some areas of my life I was still asleep.  It was as though the book was being written “to me and through me” moreso than the message I started out writing. There was some more growing to do.    I started walking for my sanity and for clarity because it literally felt like the earth was moving under my feet. Life was chiseling on me and though I appeared strong and resolute on the outside, inwardly I felt I was crumbling.  I remember a day when I was walking, I cried out to God, “Please help me; I feel so lost.” And the voice came back, “Wonderful, now you can be found.”

In July 2008, I said a prayer asking God to confirm, by sending me a sign, that I was to move forward.  In August, I received an email from around the world from a young woman who had found me by way of the story I’d written about helping the stranded lady.  She had read my whole website and she felt as though God was speaking directly to her.  She shared her secret with me (after reading the story I wrote called The Secret) and how she felt so utterly low as a result of it and saw no way to mend her life back together.  Her email name was leapoffaith08.   I began mentoring and encouraging her by email and realized that God had answered my prayer through Luvim.  She said He sent me to answer her prayer as well.   I later realized that a book was being written between us as our wonderful story together unfolded.  I found a younger version of myself in Luvim and got the opportunity to help her take many leaps of faith. She was an encouragement and inspiration to me and I realized what an incredible blessing had come my way while my life was “re-righting itself.” It was a good sign.

I’ve experienced identify theft in a good way.  I lost my old “identity” and found my true and authentic self. Though the money is gone, I’ve appreciated in value as a woman and found I am much stronger than I ever knew. I’ve learned things I never could have had it not been for this experience - my dark night of the soul.  The money will come back because I’m being true to myself. It feels incredible to use my gifts of writing and encouragement. I envisioned the impact I could make if fully devoted myself to it and created the vision I have in my heart. I realized that helping the lady in 2004 had built a bridge to Luvim and was building the bridge to my purpose. Many women hold an “invisible sign” in life, asking for help.  That act of kindness has produced so many wonderful ripples.  I could no longer ignore my heart knocking.  I had to take the leap of faith and trust that all will be well, even though I don’t have it all figured out.  It feels like the right thing to do.

Taking a leap of faith is not just about doing the unknown and the unthinkable, the daring or the miraculous.  Sometimes it’s less dramatic yet still as significant.  It could be leaping from despair to hope, from worry to faith, from unworthiness to worthiness, from un-forgiveness to forgiveness, from struggle to thriving.  Or it could mean the choice to leave behind a life that is outgrown and reach for one that is waiting on you with open arms.

A leap of faith is simply finding the courage to follow your heart, to believe that the voice you hear is God directing your pathway and that He has your very best interests at heart.  It’s believing that all will be well before you have the proof.  We all have faith.  In my case, I exercised it by leaping.  I’m unafraid.  Where your heart is, there your treasure will be.  I look forward to the journey ahead and all it will bring and feel proud that I’ve taken a stand to follow my true path to empower and inspire women.

To read the whole story, look for my book, LEAP OF FAITH! coming in April 2011. Look for WHEN WOMEN AWAKEN in summer 2011. Sometimes, the only available mode of transportation in life is a leap of faith!  Life is what you make it; live it like you mean it!


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I have experienced a number of different coaches, but none with Christina’s unique combination of courage, humility and presence; I recommend her extremely highly.”

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Principal, Instincts at Work


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It’s Not What Happens to You; It’s What You Do with It

by Paulette Rao, MCC

I make choices every day as to how I’ll respond to things that happen to me. When things are not going the way I want, my default thinking tends to be either worry or avoidance of looking at ‘what is’. Both choices—yes, they are choices—rob me of an opportunity to grow.

In “My Stroke of Insight”, neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor explains that limbic system responses, like fear, for instance, are programmed responses that can be set off automatically. But, within ninety seconds from the initial trigger, our system’s automatic part of the response is over.  Once the chemicals surge through and then, flush out of our blood stream, we can choose if we want that circuit to keep running. Imagine….ninety seconds and then we choose our response!

This isn’t about pouring pink paint over our feelings. It’s simply saying that after ninety seconds we can either feed the negative thinking loop by allowing our left brain to story-tell (stories being the sequences of thoughts we convince ourselves are real) or leverage the most powerful creator of our reality—our brain—to focus on what we want to feel instead.

I’ve learned that there is another choice when I experience fear, worry, and doubt. One I reach for often and have to practice with conscious intention—a choice to simply notice. By paying attention to my automatic response, I feel what emotion is stirring in me and where. I then put it aside and focus on what I want to feel instead. I don’t have to focus on the thoughts that bring me pain. I decide.

I used to hate to ‘feel the feelings’ that came up when things didn’t go my way. I wanted the learning to be over already. I have to consciously choose to stop and notice my feelings and the negative chatter that’s attached at the hip. I let the stories run for awhile. I listen. Then, I start to ask myself questions that facilitate my shift, allowing me to create the bridge to a new way to see, feel and think about what is. What am I feeling? Is that really so? What am I learning and how do I use this learning to catapult my growth?  Then, when I’m ready, I go about the business of moving forward again; armed with the learning and bolstered by my shift to better thinking.

Neuroscience tells us what we focus on grows.  So focusing on worry, doubt, fear, or whatever the suffering is, strengthens that circuitry and deepens our default. Time, attention, and repetition are quite a powerful elixir for embedding negative thinking—or creating new thinking.

My automatic emotional and physiological responses are opportunities for learning, but only if I notice them and feel what comes up. They point at what I need to know. The teachers are right there. Am I seeing them?

I don’t always like this process and it’s definitely not easy. But I do it. And you know what? I’ve shifted, dramatically. I am grateful for the lessons of tragedy and negative feelings. They contribute to who I am today. I use my lessons to propel me forward—after my ninety seconds, that is.

I can allow my emotions to derail me or use them to let me know I need to shift. It’s not about what happens; it’s what I choose to do with it. Epictetus said it best for me. “We are disturbed not by what happens to us, but by our thoughts about what happens.”  Oh, yeah.

Paulette Rao MCC is a mentor coach, marketing expert, and principal of Conscious Coaching Institute which is dedicated to training and development of coaches. Her proprietary OneSource™ program supports coaches pursuing an ICF credential. Her Conscious Marketing™ program enables coaches to create compelling marketing messages that attract their ideal clients.

If you want to submit your story of inspiration  please email: [email protected]


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How to Begin a Job Transition

by Lisa Adams, www.FreshAirCareers.com[email protected]

Do you have a vision for your future life?

It may be just getting the next job to sustain yourself for the coming year or two.  Or you may be ready to really envision life moving forward for the long term.  Whichever it is, the same steps prevail to your goal.  You are ready for a change.  A new job, a new career, a new life.  “I am ready to start over and really find what I am meant to do.”  Transitioning into a new career can be a great adventure.  One that is exciting and filled with new insights and learnings.  I choose to think of it as an inspiring blessed time of discovery.

To begin the adventure of discovery, you have to be ready.  You will know you are ready when you are excited about the possibilities that you have before you.  Perhaps you are like myself.  I had a laundry list of careers I wanted to “try” and had no idea which would be a good fit for me.  Or perhaps you are like a friend of mine some who knew, instinctively, what she was are meant to do next after the loss of her husband.  One thing is for sure you have to be ready to take the next step.  Without it, you will have a difficult time tackling the tactical side of moving into a new line of work.  Discovering what you want to do is the first step.  Next is the hands on work to get you to your career goal.

After the readiness check-in with yourself, comes the discovery.  All job searches have to have a target / a goal.  Do I want to work as an Account Rep in the health care industry or financial services industry?  Or do I want to work part-time at the art museum?  Or do I want to work as an independent consultant?  The list could go on and on.  The least effective job search has no target to shoot for.  The job seekers that will “take anything in any industry” will not be successful.  I have seen too many job seekers just putting out their resume to all kinds of job boards, company websites, agencies, and and personal contacts without any rhyme or reason behind it.  No one will hire you without knowing what you want.  If you don’t know what you want how can anyone else.

How do you discover what you want to do next?  You say, “Lisa, I really want to do something with meaning, that has flexibility, that is no longer doing....” whatever.  “How do I figure this out?”  Great question.  First I it will take some uninterrupted time to remember what it is that you enjoy, are passionate about, or have always wanted to do.   To help get the thoughts going I have listed some questions for you to ask yourself.  Go get a coffee or a glass of water, a comfy seat, and something to write with.  Write out your initial answers to the below.  Get started even if it is brief or a bulleted list.  Writing it down is key.

Which of my skills do I enjoy using?  Which of my skills do I least enjoy using?  What industries interest me?  What hobbies do I have that I enjoy?  What type of people do I enjoy working with?  What legacy do I want to leave behind?  What values must be present in my work for me to be successful?  What impact do I want to make?  Who are my role models and why?  How do I learn best?  What kind of environment do I thrive in?  Do I prefer work to make decisions that are based on logic or how they will effect people?

From this list, go back and continue to look at at various times.  See what other thoughts or ideas come to mind.  Once you get started you will be surprised that more ideas will come to mind.  There is more to this discovery and defining your target but the above questions, answered honestly, will get you heading in the right direction.

Once a target has been determined, the next step is to develop a job search strategy.  Determine, from all the various job search tactics out there, which you feel comfortable using.  To get you thinking about the available tactics, here is a list to get you started with a brief description of each.

Which of my skills do I enjoy using?  Which of my skills do I least enjoy using?  What industries interest me?  What hobbies do I have that I enjoy?  What type of people do I enjoy working with?  What legacy do I want to leave behind?  What values must be present in my work for me to be successful?  What impact do I want to make?  Who are my role models and why?  How do I learn best?  What kind of environment do I thrive in?  Do I prefer work to make decisions that are based on logic or how they will effect people?

From this list, go back and continue to look at at various times.  See what other thoughts or ideas come to mind.  Once you get started you will be surprised that more ideas will come to mind.  There is more to this discovery and defining your target but the above questions, answered honestly, will get you heading in the right direction.

Once a target has been determined, the next step is to develop a job search strategy.  Determine, from all the various job search tactics out there, which you feel comfortable using.  To get you thinking about the available tactics, here is a list to get you started with a brief description of each.

Networking Face to Face: In person meetings with other professionals to introduce yourself and discover contacts that can help you in your job search.  There are many local networking meetings at libraries, job seekers groups, or business workshops which will get you connected.  This tactic is essential to any job search.

Networking Online: There are many online sites that allow you to manage your contacts and reconnect with co-workers, friends, and find future hiring managers.  The best known are LinkedIn and JibberJobber.

Niche Job Boards: These are online job boards that are specific to an industry or type of work.  Targeting with in your area of industry is a time-saver and will give you and idea of what is happening currently in the industry, who is hiring and who is not.

Company websites and blogs: More and more companies are posting their open positions directly on their websites and are not paying the job boards to do this for them.  Many companies will also provide descriptions of their culture and programs they provide to employees.  These are helpful tools in your research for opportunities as well as networking and preparing for interviews.

Job Aggregation Sites: These sites search company career sections as well as the major job boards and consolidate them onto one site.  Indeed in one such site.  This can be a real time saver.  You can see the company’s name on the posting or the site from which the aggregator found the job posting.  Many of them have job alert emails that you can sign up for.

Online Professional Communities: Think of these as the associations and organizations you belong to but online.  Again going as industry specific as you can is the best way to go.

Recruiters: Recruiters are hired by companies as consultants to find qualified candidates for certain positions.  Many times the recruiters know of job openings at certain firms before any are posted.

Career Fairs - Online or in-person events that allow you to meet / talk to / interview with a live corporate recruiter.

This is not a complete list but it gives you an idea of the options that are out there in 2011.  Each tactic has pros and cons depending on the needs of your job search.  Look through this list and decide which strategies you would like to use and in what order?  As I mentioned earlier do not fall into the trap of only posting your resume online.  You must use several tactics to be truly successful.  I will tell you that good old fashioned networking is still the leading tactic to finding a job - online and offline.  Nothing works better than having direct contact, outside of an interview, with the hiring manager.  This can only be done through networking.

After determining the strategies you wish to use and the phase in which you will execute them, it really is just getting to work.  Work on your plan and you will hit the bulls eye.

If you continue to feel overwhelmed, seek out professional advice.  There are several organizations such as local job clubs, networking groups, and associations that offer workshops and services to job seekers.  If you prefer a more personal approach, seek out a career management coach.  Do not hesitate to “interview” a few to see with whom you feel most comfortable.  Most coaches offer an initial phone consultation for free.

“The journey of a million miles begins with one step.”

I wish you much success in your journey.  Continue on your plan and you will succeed and find work that you love and that fits into your life.

Lisa Adams is a Career Management Coach and Job Search Strategist living in Wilmington Massachusetts.  She walks alongside her clients to help them discover meaning in their work; navigate the job search; and recession proof their current careers.

You can find Lisa at [email protected] or through her website at www.FreshAirCareers.com.  Check out Lisa’s blog and resources page for more tips and tools to help you in your career transition and job search.

Let us know how your job search is going, email us at [email protected]