Posts Tagged ‘Courage’


August 2014

these are my doodles as I dream about bike riding in Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii on my 60th birthday


I’ve been thinking lately about what it takes to create a memorable summer. Seems like the sort of thing Adventure Barbie might enjoy though, don’t you think?

If asked to pinpoint the best summer of my life so far, I’d be weighing carefully the summers of 1967 and 1984. Both deviated from the norm; each changed my life in important ways.

Go Lite Travel TrailerNo more than two days out of 7th grade, Mom and I packed the Go Lite camping trailer, hitched it to the back of an International Harvester pickup truck and headed for Indiana, the farm country where my mother was raised. We spent four weeks visiting my aunts, uncles, and cousins before heading back to Nebraska so that Dad could join us for the next leg of the journey.

We spent the entire month of July exploring Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah. I swam in the Great Salt Lake and hiked in the Grand Canyon. I waited impatiently for Old Faithful to erupt and enjoyed playing cards with new groups of kids as we changed campgrounds nearly every night. I wrote post cards to my friends at home and learned many ways to entertain myself during the long drives between sites.

Go-Lite0002In August, Mom and I traveled alone once again. I remember visiting Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, my uncle’s candy store in northern Michigan, and my twin cousin in Minnesota. On my 13th birthday I was diagnosed with pneumonia, and I struggled to prepare for my impending demise. No, I didn’t feel THAT bad, but I was convinced it was a terminal illness and that people were just being kind by saying I would be okay.

Thirty years ago this week in 1984, I voluntarily left employment as a secretary in corporate America. After Memorial Day I officially began full-time as the owner and operator of Happy Fingers Typing Service, the first secretarial service in our city to offer cutting edge “computerized word processing.” That, too, was a summer of adventure as I took on the many challenges of self employment.

The experiences of both of those summers are important to the person I am today. In 1967, I had plenty of time to imagine what I wanted for myself as an adult. I believe many of my ambitions and dreams were planted during that summer of discovery. I’m also immensely grateful to my 29-year-old self for her determination, courage, and resourcefulness as she set out on her own. My life has been shaped time and again by the challenges and opportunities of owning my own business.

Now, as I count down the weeks to my 60th birthday in August, I’m determined to make this summer memorable, one with ample doses of discovery, challenge, and adventure. This summer I am committing to stepping outside my comfort zone; to making choices that will boost my levels of courage, compassion, and creativity; and to allowing you, my readers, to hold me accountable for Creating The Best Summer of My Life (so far). Stay tuned for Regular (dare I commit to weekly?) Progress Reports.



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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

In the fall of 2000, I delivered a 90-minute presentation on the topic of Power Talking at the national convention of Professional Résumé Writers in Las Vegas. I flew out several days early to indulge myself with a side trip of hiking in Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks and horseback riding to the floor of the canyon. Looking back, I marvel at my adventurous spirit. I’m shocked sometimes at the realization: not only did I do it; I did it alone! It was all part of an ambitious plan birthed from my 1989 New Year’s intention to live my life “feeling the fear and doing it anyway.”  (See my 1989 Guidebook: Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers).

I was in a reflective mood while hiking a remote trail in Bryce Canyon. Nature does that to me. It opens my mind to the big questions. You know the ones: “Why am I here?” … “Does God exist?” …  “What is the meaning of life?” … “Does anything I do really matter?”

As sometimes happens when hiking alone, I began asking my questions aloud, pleading with The Universe to give me just one solid answer. Is that too much to ask? Really? Just one, incontrovertible straightforward answer. I mean, this is The Universe … all powerful … all knowing … all present. Hello?? Anybody there?

In desperation, I yelled out, “I want an answer … and I want it now!”

Just then there was a sharp turn in the trail and I nearly smacked into a signpost, whose words took my breath away. “STAY ALERT” the bright yellow letters instructed … “READ THE SIGNS.”

Whoa! The message pierced through to my heart. Isn’t it just like The Universe to deliver what we need to know instead of what we demand to know?

This morning at the cottage I found myself asking “What do I need to focus on in 2014? What intention should I pick for the new year?” Silence. And then the impatient shout, “Just tell me! I want to know!”

Then–just like that–I remembered “the sign” that was so meaningful to me 13 years ago. I also remembered the intriguing allure of “omens” in a book I’m currently reading, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. As these rather vague but appealing thoughts were bouncing around my head, I think I actually encountered an omen, but I’m not sure since I don’t really know what an omen looks like. But it felt the way I imagine it feels to see an omen. Silently awed, in the moment, grateful without words for the download of wisdom. Wow!

Happy New Year … Happy New Focus … What do you intend to create in 2014?

As for me, my intention for the next 365 days is to stay alert and read the signs.

Sign from Bryce Canyon

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Sunrise Sky in the Florida Keys

The sky was this color for a mere 30 seconds. What a treat to capture it with my camera.

For over two decades (my notes start in 1988), I have shunned the traditional New Year’s Resolution in favor of a New Year’s Intention. Each year, I thoughtfully select a topic on which to focus my curiosity, interest, and attention for an entire year. 2012 has been the Year of Courage. When an opportunity arose to become certified as a “Courage Coach,” I signed up. This past year I found myself making brave decisions and discovering an inner courage I hadn’t realized was there.

My focus on courage led me to accept several speaking engagements, create and hold new boundaries, travel alone to my home town for a high school reunion, and most harrowing of all, take part in Karaoke Night at Unity of Kanawha Valley! Now THAT took courage! Best of all, I kept a “courage journal” this year with lots of evidence I can use to reassure myself when my knees get shaky and I want to fearfully retreat under the covers.

For 2013 I’ve considered many topics, but I keep coming back to “Appreciation,” which seems to imply something a bit deeper than gratitude (my 1998 focus). Webster says that “appreciation often connotes a sufficient understanding to enjoy or admire a thing’s excellence.” Appreciation involves “sensitive awareness and recognition of value.” Synonyms for appreciate include “treasure,” “cherish,” and “value.” There is also the idea of “increased value,” which reminds me of one of my favorite Wayne Dyer quotes: “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

What would change in my life if I were to APPRECIATE the ordinary details? Could the mundane minutiae I take for granted be transformed and cherished? I think there’s possibility here. Even as I think about the concept of “sensitive awareness,” I feel a bubble of eager anticipation rising in my heart, something between planning for a vacation at the beach and opening an elegantly wrapped gift. It feels special, heart warming, and life affirming.

I hope you’ll join me in choosing your own New Year’s Intention. I know several who have already set an intention to make 2013 The Best Year of Their Lives. If that sounds good to you, send an email to bestyear4u@hotmail.com and ask to be added to the mailing list. My appreciation to Alan Yoke for taking this on. Alan, I understand your deep level of commitment, and I acknowledge the work you’ve put into creating this support system. I promise to drop in regularly on teleconference group meetings to lend my support.

Happy New Year!

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Book Cover - The Return of the Indian The concept of time travel has always fascinated me. I’m not sure, but I think it started some time in grade school, probably from watching The Twilight Zone. One of the first short stories I ever wrote had a time travel twist.  Now, I go to time travel movies; I read time travel books; I watch time travel television shows. Currently I’m reading The Return of the Indian to a fourth grade classroom (I volunteer for Read Aloud West Virginia) and I just last night watched the first two episodes of season four of Quantum Leap. (Thanks to my generous neighbor Ann who owns the complete DVD collection of that show. Yum!)
Quantum Leap - Season Four Cover

Several years ago I was visiting my hometown while reading The Time Traveler’s Wife. There are several scenes in that book where the time traveler interacts with himself at various ages. Being in Lincoln in the neighborhood where I grew up got me to thinking, what if I went for a walk and bumped into my 15-year old self … what would I say to her?

Would I warn her to not get married at 19? Would I tell her to buy stock in Microsoft? Would I beg her to finish college? It seemed like there were so many things I could let her in on that would ultimately result in my life being … being what? Less marred with error? Richer? Happier? Better?
Book Cover - The Time Traveler's Wife

But maybe not. Maybe it would just be different. Maybe not better at all!

There were important lessons I learned from all the choices I made–good and bad. They were lessons I could never learn any way but by living my life. No one could tell me those things, not even my older self! I wouldn’t have believed me, anyway. I know me. I’m skeptical, wary, and slow to trust a stranger, even one who looks just like … uh … my mother and my father blended and then aged. Hmmmm. I’m pretty sure I would have quizzed such a being long and hard before listening.

But if I had somehow convinced her, what would I have said? The best I could come up with was to simply tell her that she was smarter, stronger, and more courageous than she realized. I suppose my 99-year-old self would be telling me that now, too!

So, what would you tell your teenage self if you met her on the street?

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