A new vision

“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

My spiritual mentor has told me this on numerous occasions. The saying proved true in my journey to finding my spiritual mentor, and it proved true when finding my career mentor, too.

467039_10151664152983185_896591402_oIn 2005, I attended the Arkansas Association of Colleges and Employers conference. In addition to meeting other fabulous speakers—people who would be key to my success and landmarks in my career journey—I met Samantha Hartley, Founder and President of Enlightened Marketing. Her story and vision inspired me. A few months later, after relocating to central Arkansas, I decided to go beyond the typical follow-up after a conference (a LinkedIn invitation and message stating how much I enjoyed her presentation) and contact her to invite her to lunch. She said yes.

I held back the first time we met even though I probably wanted to beg for assistance. I didn’t want to scare the poor woman off! I’m sure I still sounded like a wayward child (I was). I truly had no idea what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go in life. In addition, my personal life was in shambles. I could find no peace and stability in my career until I found personal and spiritual peace and stability; Samantha recognized this and even pointed this out at the time. Samantha offered some ideas and suggestions, but our initial meeting was more about getting to know one another, as it should have been.

Over the next few years, we kept in touch and met a few times face to face. Samantha’s guidance was crucial. My career goals ran the gamut. I was good at everything, highly adaptable, a quick study, and stuck at a certain salary range. I kept leaving jobs in hopes of greener grass, and finding similar stubble. I couldn’t figure out my missteps until one morning over pancakes when Samantha encouraged me to create what I call my vision card. I lacked vision—and I kept accepting positions that weren’t aligned with my passion, my values, or my goals. As soon as I fixed the problems that presented themselves, I became bored, and I moved on.

vision cardSamantha asked me to create a vision board. However, I’m not really into pictures as much as I am into words, and she said that was okay. So my board because a card, and when I pictured a big display of images, the images were just words. So I wrote down all the words I envisioned.

Something beautiful is happening in my life right now. On this journey of life, I’m finding that each time I look back at my vision card, my current position aligns even more closely with the words written on it.

I don’t believe in coincidences.

I believe this is a direct result of planned and thoughtful decision-making, of saying no to interviews, of listening to my gut, of stepping away from situations that feel wrong or incomplete and stepping closer to situations and people that feel right and that align more closely with my values and goals.

If Samantha were not in my life, and were not willing to thoughtfully consider each question I ask her before responding and provide such excellent mentorship—without asking anything in return, except that I give to others—I might still feel like an aimless soul rather than a purpose-driven woman.

Henry’s word of the year

*Thanks again to Henry Petty for stepping in as guest contributor today. As you read his post about his word/theme of the year for 2013, consider identifying one for yourself. What could you focus on this year that would, in December, result in looking back in gratitude at all you’d learned and how you’d grown?*

My word of the year will be – “perseverance.”

This is a word I rode like a chariot when I was in high school; it got me through a lot.  I even wrote an article for the school newspaper titled Persistence is the Key

Allow me to share a quote from Dewayne “the Rock” Johnson, which sums this up:

“What’s the key to success?’  Is something I’m asked every single day.  I don’t believe there’s only one ‘key to success.’  But what I do believe in is hard work, and daily, focused commitment and sacrifice.  I believe in being gracious with your successes, and humbled by your failures.  I trust my gut and always keep my family close.  I live in optimism and faith.  When I grab opportunity and success by the throat, I don’t let go.”

Now that’s persistence.  If you smell what Henry Petty is cookin’.

Henry’s 2013 bucket list

*Special thanks to Henry Petty for sharing his 2013 bucket list. What’s on your bucket list for 2013?*

Henry’s 2013 bucket list

ImageTake up golf – a buddy of mine said it’s a really good networking tool.  Donald Trump has stated the deals he makes are always on the golf course.  And, I have been approached many times to play golf with them.  And, I was recently eating at a luncheon with our CEO who was talking up how awesome the game of golf was (God’s *wink wink, nod nod* at me, if you will).

Go to Disneyland – I have always wanted to go to either Disney resort.  I love love love love me some Disney; nothing makes me happier.  There is an underlying reason as well.  When I was very young and living in California, my mother took my brother to Disneyland and NOT ME.  To this very day, I will never understand why she did that to me, and my grandma gave my mother a hard time about it for sure.  So it’s almost a “revenge” scenario that’s got a sweet topping with Mickey Mouse shaped cupcakes as a side item.

Be more organized – I think I have some sort of ADD, because I am always searching for my wallet, keys, cell phone.  All.  The.  Time.  I am always checking 5 or 6 times before I leave the house for those essential items, and I always check the door to see if it’s locked.  I’ve even driven half a mile and turned around to make sure I locked the door.  I’ve always been scatter-brained like that, and I hope it’s not genetic so that I can become organized.  If anybody watches the show “Dexter” on Showtime, I want to be as meticulous with my cleanliness and organization as Dexter Morgan. 

Use my gifts for charity – I hope to use my YouTube video skills toward a good cause.  I hope to do something similar to the guy who created #26RandomActsofKindess in honor of the Sandy Hook victims.  Nothing feels better than helping someone else.

*Good luck to Henry and to all readers who hope to reach goals and fulfill dreams this year! What’s on your bucket list in 2013? Leave a comment and let us know.*

What will be on your gratitude list in 2013?

*Special thanks to Henry Petty for serving as today’s guest contributor, AGAIN! He’s such a huge help to me in keeping this blog going during times when I’m busier. I am so thankful for him and for other friends who have stepped up and written posts for the blog. As you read this post, contemplate what your gratitude list will look like at the end of 2013. Remember, gratitude’s a choice. I hope you choose it today!*

Henry’s 2013 gratitude list

ImageI will focus on being grateful in 2013 for opportunities.  I will come up on my 5 year anniversary where I work, and that will open a lot of doors to positions that I really didn’t get a shot at before.  I think it’s time to move on from what I’ve been doing the past 5 years, and if the Lord allows me to and it’s in His plan, I will pursue that and show off my other talents.

I will focus on being grateful for a new and improved Henry.  I am bringing back the old Henry that I grew to love so much, yet grew so far apart from.  I have learned about “being a man”, but this year I am going to take control of it.  It’s taken me a while to realize what works and doesn’t work in this world.  Let’s just say – I replaced the super Mario bros keychain with a Swiss army knife.  No, I’m not going all “mountain man” on you, but I am maturing into a more resourceful and scrappy dude.

I will focus for being grateful for what I have, and grateful for the things I cannot change that bring harm or good to me – for those things exist for an unexplained reason.

I will focus on being grateful for the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.  The idea that the almighty God our creator is willing to just put Himself out there right in front of us, humbled, as the Priest hands us the unleavened bread at Communion is…. breathtakingly awesome. 

For more from Henry, check out his blog!

Eating an elephant

Procrastination_by_diablo2097I’m not sure if I agree with Tom Petty’s claim that waiting is the hardest part. Sometimes getting started is more difficult.

Recently, my friend and recent guest contributor to this blog, Mary Agrusa, posted a writing prompt on her LinkedIn group, Christian Bloggers – Cross Currents, related to the word “initiate.” I didn’t have time to write at the moment, but my mind began ruminating on the word as I nursed my baby and stoked the fire in our wood stove.

11 years after graduating from college, I was able to begin pursuing my Master’s degree. It took me 11 years to get started for many reasons; primarily, I procrastinated going to graduate school because I couldn’t make fiscal sense out of the decision to take out more loans in order to pursue a degree which would most likely provide me with opportunities to earn approximately the same income (or possibly less). However, when my husband suggested that I consider going back to school after hearing me daydream aloud about how much I would enjoy spending more time reading, writing, and studying literature, I began praying about it and asked God to open the right doors and close the wrong ones. He did, and I’m grateful. I started school last January at full steam ahead.

I’m now preparing to graduate after completing two more courses this spring and (hopefully, fingers crossed) passing the required comprehensive exam for earning my degree. It took me 11 years to get started, but at least I’m almost finished. The part I’ve been dreading is the only part left–passing the big test and preparing for it. This fall, in addition to my coursework, I read 11 novels in preparation for the exam. My to-read list now contains only short stories, essays, and poems.

Even though I’m down to the home stretch, I dread finishing reading all those works of literature, attempting to commit the styles of writing and gist of the pieces to memory, and perusing practice tests and essay options. Lack of sleep and something new parents refer to as “baby brain” have sucked my scholastic motivation dry.

Photo by Tim Laman, National Geographic

Photo by Tim Laman, National Geographic

But two days ago, I recalled a phrase my wise mentor often repeats: “The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.”

So I printed out the list of the works of literature the test will cover and charted out a plan for completion. I read one essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the following day, I read two more. And honestly, they were somewhat interesting and thought-provoking. I even found a few quotable lines here and there for my Facebook status updates.

Thankfully, I finally got started.

Eating an entire elephant seems daunting and pretty disgusting. But taking one bite at a time isn’t so bad.