Finding Your Significance in the World

As a follow up to my post last week about finding value through comparison, here’s a question…


If all your talents and gifts were put on mute, and everything that previously made you feel successful or worthy of praise was put on hold, what would make you feel valuable?


Think about it for awhile and then go enjoy some Christmas cookies before Santa jacks them all. Merry Christmas.

Extraordinary Misconceptions

Today I want to address a couple of common misconceptions.

Extraordinary living is not just for artists.
Yep, it’s true. You don’t need to understand Michelangelo’s methods for painting The Sistine Chapel or how to DIY your way out of any death defying situation, to be able to live extraordinarily.

Extraordinary living is not just for entrepreneurs.
Yep, it’s true. You don’t need to be able to break down Google’s methodology or outwit Mark Cuban on Shark Tank to live extraordinarily.

Let’s review our definition for extraordinary living shall we?
“A Rare Existence, or extraordinary living, means to live the life you are meant to live regardless of risk, difficulty, opinion of others, weaknesses, or failures. This involves knowing yourself WELL, pursuing your passions, overcoming your fears, and working hard at all you do.”

See that? Living the life YOU are meant to live! Maybe I should add in “regardless of…. artistic abilities, entrepreneurial visions, how many kids you have, what your income level is, how much freedom you have, if you like eggnog or not, what religion you are, who you voted for, whether or not Modern Family is your favorite TV show, if you are pro Microsoft or pro Apple (OK well maybe this one DOES matter), or what defines the extraordinary lives by others around you”.

As you can see, an extraordinary life is for everyone who chooses to pursue it.
Living extraordinarily means understanding YOU and living the way YOU are meant to live. That’s the extraordinary part. The fact that you don’t choose to live the way everyone around you does. The fact that you understand that you have a purpose to seek out. The fact that you risk what others aren’t willing to risk to uncover and fulfill that purpose. That is a Rare Existence. And that is quite extraordinary.

So please don’t think extraordinary living isn’t for you.
If you find yourself thinking that you’re just not cut out for it, put down that McMuffin you’re eating (or whatever you’re doing) and return to this post to remind you of the truth! Having an extraordinary life IS your choice! It may be hard, it may (will) take years to develop, and you may have to take smaller steps than you like, but don’t surrender to the idea that you’re meant for nothing more than ordinary!

It’s time to let the truth win out!
We all need a little help fighting the lies from time to time so… you’re welcome!

Lie: I’m too boring for an extraordinary life.
Truth: There is no official measure for boring, you are just comparing yourself to people who have completely different roles in life than you do! No matter how boring you may feel, you have the capability to choose to do something extraordinary!

Lie: I have too many kids to pursue anything in life other than a nap.
Truth: See my post, The Extraordinary Family Life, to help you figure this truth out!

Lie: I’m not talented enough to live an extraordinary life.
Truth: Everyone has a unique set of skills/talents/experiences that make them who they are and that give them their purpose. Your talents may be different than others, but you do have some! My post, Discovering Who You Are, will help you figure out how the things about you all come together to help you serve your role in the world!

Lie: I like popular stuff (chocolate, Disneyland, good weather, etc) so I’m too much like everyone else to be extraordinary.
Truth: Popular stuff is popular for a reason! It doesn’t say anything about you if you do like it or don’t like it, it’s just good!

Lie: I don’t understand the answers to the questions in LOST so I must be stupid.
Truth: There were no answers to the questions in LOST so don’t worry about it.

Lie: I’m too focused on putting out daily fires to focus on moving forward.
Truth: See my post, Baby steps.. yes, that’s a real thing, to help you with this one.

Lie: I don’t know what lmao, yolo, or NPH (hint: Doogie) mean so I must be too old fashioned to do anything new.
Truth: So you’ll loose at a game of Scene it: Pop Culture Edition? So what? That doesn’t mean you don’t have other valuable skills that may have nothing to do with new fangled technology, the hottest “it” couple, or the wrong way for men to wear half shirts (IS there a right way really?).

Lie: I don’t know what I’m meant for, so it must be nothing.
Truth: It takes most people quite a while to figure this out. See my post, Don’t Expect to Find the Answers in a Day, for encouragement about this because it’s so worth the effort to figure it out!

Lie: Too many people depend on me so I can’t do anything risky or out of the ordinary.
Truth: People need you to be who you are meant to be, above all else. Not convinced? Read my post, Is Extraordinary Living Selfish.

Out of excuses? Good. Now focus on the identifying and living out the life you were meant to live!

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Goal Setting Resources for 2013

Alright guys, goal setting time is upon us!

Resist the urge to go all hipster/ironic, or emo/anti everything, when it comes to goals. Yes, I know that only capitalistic robots who have been brainwashed by corporate America would even dream of doing something so cliche as setting goals that begin on January 1st (heaven forbid). But stop trying to be unique for just one second so you can realize that, guess what? You need to do it SOMETIME, and since most of us don’t remember the rest of the year, now is a perfect time!

To help you with your 2013 goal setting, I’ve come up with a list of resources to give you some direction!


Goal Setting Resources:

Discovering who you are…

Rare Existence Posts:
1. Finding a valuable identity
2. Give them something (good) to remember you by
3. Discovering who you are

Outside Resources:
1. Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath
2. Myers Briggs Personality Test


Dreaming about what you want to do…

Rare Existence Posts:
1. The Discipline of Dreaming
2. Your ideal life
3. Your entire life in one word.

Outside Resources:
1. 5: Where Will You Be 5 Years from Today? by Dan Zadra


Setting goals and making a plan…

Rare Existence Posts:
1. Baby Steps… yes that’s a real thing.

Outside Resources:
1. Your Best Year Yet  by Jinny S. Ditzler (I apologize, it’s a little boring, but it’s the only one I know of that gets the job done!)



Rare Existence Posts:
1. John Mayer is a Liar and Peter Pan is a hero
2. Do Epic Shit
3. Remember why it’s worth it
4. Patience Grasshopper
5. You can do it my dear
6. Manifesting your manifest friend

Outside Resources
1. The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson *
2. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller *
*FYI: Both of these are Christian books, but still very encouraging even if you don’t agree with everything in them.
December is going to fly by, so I want to hear sounds of goal setting screaming from your computers now! Go, go, gadget goals!!!!

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Your Ideal Life (a project)

I run my life in lists.

You could also say that another way, lists run my life. Regardless of how you look at it, I enjoy lists and lists enjoy me… and that works for both of us. So when I think about possible options for things to do in and with my life, I list them out.


Things I MIGHT want to do with my life (example list):
Be a waitress
Sea World Orca Whale trainer (my husband doesn’t know it, but this is the REAL reason I wanted to move to CA)
√ Be a mom
Amy Grant Ariel Mermaid (see previous post about this)
Dog groomer
√  Finish my master’s degree
√  Learn Spanish
√   Write a book

However there is one thing that tends to be lacking in my most of my lists, besides lists about “my potential pet unicorn names” and “things that me and my pet unicorn would do together”. Those missing elements are creativity and emotion. I know “Amy Grant Ariel Mermaid” may seem creative, but really that was just common sense to me as a child, in reality my imagination can feel limited by lists sometimes. After all, if I expand on one too much, that one line might turn into two lines and mess up my list formatting or even force me to create a new page and then what would I do?! (if you don’t relate to these thoughts then don’t worry, it just means you’re not a nerd).

So how did I solve this creative-less list issue? And how did I open up my imagination to all the possibilities that are up for the taking in my future? I wrote a story about it.


Yes, I actually wrote a story called “My Ideal Life”.

Of course the crazy organizer in me made sure I categorized the different chapters in the story by 5 year marks, but it still was a great exercise in allowing my right brain to take over the dreaming responsibility so that I really could reach for the stars without my left brain rolling it’s eyes in annoyance as it tried to squeeze all of the thought tangents into one line.

I put as much and as little detail into it as I wanted in different parts. I changed some of the beginning parts to be in 2 or 3 year segments instead of 5 (gasp from my left brain!), and I included some of my husband’s dreams to be able to see how our two dream lives intersect and compliment.


Writing my ideal life in story form helped me in ways I didn’t expect at all.

For one, I was surprised at how young it made me feel! I ended up taking my story one 5 year period at a time, all the way into my 70′s, and up until the ? mark I left to indicate my death (I wasn’t planning on going that far, I just got into it!)! I was amazed at how many 5 year periods I could still have left and at how much I might realistically be able to do during the time I still have left! I felt extremely hopeful about how much living I still have to do!

It also helped me see the big picture which is hard to do, especially because my life often feels so fly by the seat of my pants. I don’t know if I’ll be able to afford rent 3 months from now, let alone what I’ll be doing with my days in 10 years! It’s hard to see big picture and remember that the things that seem like such a huge deal now will not actually be going on for that long or be affecting me that strongly in the next stages of my life. So even if I have 5 or 10 years of struggle, I have so many 5 or 10 year periods left that if those bad years are taking me to the good ones, it will be more than worth it!


Basically I’m saying that not only should you do this, but you should do it without any rules.

Let your right brain truly take over and see what outlandishly unrealistic dreams you can come up with! Because if you only ever dream realistic dreams, or only ever list them out logically, then perhaps you aren’t really dreaming your dreams at all. Perhaps you’re only writing out possibilities, rather than heart felt longings. Give the right brain control and then if you want, lefty over there can take it later and break it into manageable lists and goals. When both sides are free to do what they’re best at without the hindrance of the other, you may be amazed at how big, and yet how possible, some of your dreams can seem!


Do it, write it out.

If you need some help, use this cheat sheet to get going. It’s not as intimidating as it sounds because when you first start out it’s basically just like playing that pre-teen girl game MASH. If an 11 year old can do it, you can!

In 2 years…..
I will live:
I will be doing:
Who will be involved:
What will my days look like:
What will my free time look like:

Those are just some questions to get rolling, but take it wherever you want and make it your own!

In two years I will be writing my successful blog and working on the first draft of my book, in the same apartment I’m in now with my husband and we’ll be….

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The Lies of Success

I just finished reading an entire chapter in a book about how success doesn’t make you happy.
Bummer, right? It was written by a very successful man who found himself in misery at the height of his success. He wasn’t saying success is bad, he was just saying that if you haven’t dealt with issues in your life, they will follow you and success will only magnify them. My favorite line was, “you will be the same person, only you’ll have more of everything, and that includes pain.” (Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis).

True point.

So where do I stand with success really and what do I define success as? After all, the point of this blog is to help you and me succeed at pursuing a rare existence, accomplishing our dreams, being extraordinary, and so on. We definitely all have goals here that we’re trying to succeed in.

One of the big questions to ask yourself is, “WHY am I pursuing the specific goals that I am”?
“What is the root behind this goal that I think will make me happy in the end?” Sometimes our intentions are not as pure, or shall we say, as HEALTHY as we think they are.
I’ve said before that it’s very important that you know yourself well as you embark along this journey and that means that you know not only what things you are good at and dream of doing, but also what your deep rooted flaws are that will continually try to trick you into fulfilling them in wrong ways.

We all have these things… deep seated insecurities left over from years of grade school bully torment that leaves you with the desire to prove to the world how awesome and worthy you really are… a negative parent who is constantly asking you for more so you continually try to give more than perfect….crazy jealousy over that perfect older sibling that leaves you always trying to keep up…friends who are obsessed with all things fun, expensive, and seemingly wonderful that drive you to live the same way. We all have our reasons.

Take a second to ask yourself about yours.

For me, success in extraordinary living means…
…freedom. I’m pursuing time freedom, freedom from enslaving factors (debt, addictions, insecurities,etc), emotional freedom, and many other kinds of freedom, so that I am free to choose how I invest my time, energy, and heart so my life will reflect my true values as closely as possible. My desire to be successful in my quest for freedom is driven by my desire to always be the one who gets to decide what’s best for me and my family throughout different seasons in life, and to be able to choose to use all my resources (time, money, talents, etc) to make that happen.

Yes, there are many moral and noble motives in that, but um, can you say CONTROLLING? Just when I think I’ve beaten the control monster in my life, he shows up in the most unexpected places… the places I thought were pure and secure and free from the uglies. Nope.

Now that we’ve taken the time to identify our inner self’s ulterior motive, we have the choice of whether we’ll face it or not. If we decide to deal with our weaknesses and identity issues now, then we’re free to continue to pursue our definitions of an extraordinary life… and now we can do it with true freedom (ironic since my definition IS freedom!). If we choose not to deal with it, then once we obtain the life we seek, we can only expect misery. I know this is true because I’ve learned in the past that when I feed my control monster, the only thing that it spits back out is bad relationships, anger, frustration, and ultimate sadness… and I’m guessing that your uglies are on the same team as mine with the same rule book, so you’ll probably get the same results.

So our success will only be true success if we deal with our personal issues before achieving it.
Otherwise our success will only make our problems worse,  just like Rob told us. I hate when people say sucky things and then are right.

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Baby steps… yes, that’s a real thing (A Project).

Have you ever found yourself avoiding checking out Rare Existence or some other source of inspiration for personal growth because you’re just like, “SHUT UP! I’m so tired!!!!” Do you ever feel like I’m asking you to change your industry, solve world hunger, win the first ever best parent of the universe award, and lose 15 pounds all at the same time?  Yeah I know, I make myself feel like that sometimes too. I recently had one person comment on the blog about how overwhelmed she is. She’s trying so hard to live extraordinarily and she’s finding it so crazy difficult because she’s barely above water in 95% of the “maintenance areas” that are a part of every life whether ordinary or extraordinary.

Ah the cycle of maintaining.
It’s one of the worst places to be. It’s when you feel like you’re living a reactionary life. It’s when you finally get the money you need to pay off your credit card debt, right when you car breaks. Or when you finally feel like you have a little extra time to start that business you’ve been dreaming about, right when you find out your son is failing school and needs tons of attention from you. Or even worse, it’s when you never ever get to that place where you finally have the extra money, time, etc., etc. and yet your list of things you need to do, accomplish, accumulate, fix, etc., etc. is never ending and feels so hopeless.
Yes my dears, I’ve been there. Often. And in many ways, I still am there. So what do we do, how do we move past this or at the very least survive it?! One baby step at a time.
I know, I know that sounds so cliche but that’s because it’s a God honest, undeniable truth. You have to start somewhere and baby steps is some of that “where” that you need to be starting at.

Before you list the areas that need some work, why don’t you start by listing the areas in your life that HAVE been progressing in the past year.
I recently made that list and it totally changed my perspective for the better. Once I had a list of all the things (big and little) that have been going somewhere I realized there are enough on the list to officially say that I’M going somewhere. That’s what really convinced me that the “one step at a time” rule was more than just an excuse for lazy people. I have been doing one step at a time in lots of small ways and they are now coming together to form some big movement.

After you make the list of the areas that you’ve seen positive changes in, it’s time to go back to the sucky side.
Now list the areas in your life that need a serious, reality makeover show kind of intervention. Once you’ve done that, just sit in your sadness and be depressed with no one but cookie dough to be your friend.
No, not really. Once you’ve made the list of areas that need to be changed, it’s time to choose the top 3 you want to start working on first and formulate a plan for each. In other words, list out all the tiny baby steps for each of the 3 areas to work on that would put Bill Murray to shame. Once you’ve done that for all three, pick the one area that has the steps that are most doable for you to start with today and then guess what…start doing them! My very official not at all qualified prescription for you is to start working on baby step number one in the most important category within the next week. If that step is too complex to do all in one week, then you need to babyfie it a little more and break it down further so that all your steps are just one small thing at a time… in one small area at a time… that will add up to lots of small life changes… that will create major life change in the end.

And that’s how we roll….


Is it REALLY the life you are meant to be living? (a project)

Sometimes the life we THINK we are meant to live is not the one that is truly meant for us.
You may never be able to be 100% certain that your definition of extraordinary living is right for you, but you should at least invest the time and energy into being as logical and wise as possible before turning your life upside down for it.

If you have some idea of what extraordinary living might look like for you, it’s time to challenge those ideas before you take major action.
If you are ready to take make significant changes in order to pursue the life you are meant to live, stop and take a second to ask yourself the questions below before you act. So get out your Rare Existence Project Notebook (OK , I know you’re excited about that but you can stop cheering now) because I definitely recommend writing out the answers for thinking clarity and to have the ability to look back on your answers in the future.


  1. What is my main goal in life? Does this path take me towards it?
  2. Do I have the skills necessary to succeed at this?
  3. Do I enjoy the things necessary to do this?
  4. What will the most difficult tasks be and can I still accomplish them?
  5. Will this be harmful to those around me? Will NOT doing this be harmful to those around me?
  6. What are the sacrifices I will need to make and can I handle those?
  7. What are the benefits of this path to me and my loved ones?
  8. What is the worst case scenario that can happen and will I come out of that OK?
  9. Do people who have my best interest at heart think this is a good idea?
  10. Does this decision support my beliefs about life, family, morals, religion, etc?
  11. Is my significant other willing to go through this with me?
  12. Do I have at least one person who will help support me through this?

If some of the answers to those questions didn’t come out exactly like you would’ve hoped, don’t get discouraged but also don’t ignore them.
Take the time to process it. The issues that arose from answering those questions may be very important and you need to decide if they are significant enough to cause you to re-think your definition of extraordinary living.

Don’t be afraid to ask the questions. If you find you are headed down the wrong path, it’s definitely best to acknowledge that and turn around sooner rather than later. If you find you are headed down the right path, then the more confident you can be in that, the more effective you’ll be. Either way, challenging your ideas from time to time will only increase the chance that you will be free to head strongly in the right direction and that you will live the life you are TRULY meant to be living.

The Extraordinary Family Life

A traditional family life is a beautiful thing. The 2.5 kids, white picket fence, stay at home mom, a dog…. it’s really a great lifestyle… if it’s the one you’re meant to be living.

In truth, I really support this lifestyle and many times I even envy it. The only time I have a problem with it is when people believe its the ONLY way to live, regardless of whether it’s meant for them or not. In truth, it seems like this is the easiest lifestyle to fall into without realizing or questioning it. It’s the American dream, so it’s something many of us have been taught about since we were young.

If you are one of the people who is meant for this lifestyle, then congratulations you have found your “extraordinary word“!
What? You don’t think that “FAMILY” sounds extraordinary enough? Well it does because the extraordinary part is not as much about what the word itself is as it’s about the fact that you are living the life you are meant to be living. Ordinary living people just fall into life and never question whether it’s really right for them, extraordinary people question it, make conscious decisions, and live life intentionally. So if you played house from ages 2-22, your lifetime roll model is June Cleaver, and your favorite baby doll as a kid not only knew how to pee and poop but how to say her ABC’s backwards, do the dishes, and resolve conflict with her younger brother… and if nothing in the world sounds as good to you as spending majority of your time, life, and energy raising children… then congratulations you have uncovered what you are meant to be doing with your life!

However, just because you have kids, a husband with a 9-5 job, and a house with decorations in it, does not mean that FAMILY is your extraordinary word.
Don’t assume that just because having a family is a part of your extraordinary life, that it actually is the be all end all to your extraordinary life. And definitely don’t assume that FAMILY is your word just because that’s the word you think you’re supposed to have or that other people think you are supposed to have. You can have a family and still have a word like FREEDOM or ADVENTURE… they are not contradictory concepts. You will just be moving as a family into a life of freedom or adventure, rather than doing it by yourself.

Whether or not you have kids and whether or not your word is FAMILY, you can still choose to live an extraordinary life.
I don’t have any kids, so I know enough to know that I know nothing. I may not know stuff but I do see stuff. And what I see are people who have kids and who don’t have kids, managing to accomplish what they are meant to do in life. And I see other people who have kids and who don’t have kids, saying they will one day live the life they are meant to live though they never actually get around to doing it. I also see that there are different seasons in life meant for different things. I see people who put certain things on hold for a season and then pick them back up when it’s time for a new season. And I see other people who use difficult seasons as an excuse to never move forward and progress out of those particular seasons into new things. Whether or not you have kids has nothing to do with it, either way you get to choose the kind of person you want to be and how you want to live.

* So if your word is FAMILY, live it to the fullest and hopefully you will continue to see Rare Existence as a place of refuge, support, and community.

* So if your word is not family, but you do have a family, then continue on this journey alongside your family and the rest of us to find out what sort of extraordinary life is in store for you and your family to discover and live together.

* And if you don’t want anything to do with the word FAMILY ever in your life, then I’m not talking to you because you probably didn’t read this far in to this post anyways. 😉

Give them something (good) to remember you by (a project)

I was recently asked the question…

“What do you want to be admired for?”

I had a lot of fun answering this question. You see, the questioner didn’t specify that you had to already be doing these things you want to be remembered for… just that it would be freaking amazing if people actually said these things about you! As I was about to head off in the direction of “sensational lion tamer, the best in her field” and “the most compassionate miracle producing doctor I’ve seen yet”, I decided it would probably be more helpful if I took a slightly more realistic approach.

The question hiding underneath this question is, “what are your core values?”

What things do I really think are important in life? Acne free skin? Check. Dogs with fresh breathe? Check. There are LOTS of things that are important to me! This list is going to be long, starting with either free shipping from Amazon or fat free fro-yo (I can’t decide which is more significant to me).

And now you see why you can’t simply ask what my core values are… that’s just too big of a question. Asking what I want to be admired for is a great way of narrowing it down… as long as you remember to clarify that we are talking about REALISTIC things so I don’t start muttering something about how much people love the glittery aqua and periwinkle colored scales on my beautiful mermaid tail.

So you think you already know your core values do you?

Well do you really? Can you distinguish between your parents values, your community’s values, your favorite TV show character’s values? Not to mention your OWN values? I’m telling you it’s so much harder than you think when you’re wondering, “now did Ross and Rachel decide it IS okay to sleep with someone else when you’re on a break or not?”, or “did my dad say pot’s okay only if you’re at Woodstock? Or was it only if you’re 65 with back pain? I can’t remember.”. I’m telling you, core values can be a very convoluted and confusing thing in this day and age!

Now do the work.

Since I have now given you the ever important question that you need to be asking yourself to figure out your core values, go ahead and give it a shot! Identifying your core values is the first step to figuring out what your extraordinary word is… which of course is the first step to figuring out what your extraordinary life should consist of! Well actually, your values should be the starting place for anything at all in any kind of life, really! So taking the time to make your core values concrete and clear enough that you are able to actually write them out, might be a more important step in your life than you might think!

Now grab your Rare Existence notebook – that you of course started right when I told you to – and a pencil (or keyboard, you know what I mean) and start a list of answers to the question… “What do I want to be admired for?” and see what you come up with! After that, see if you can pull general concepts from what you listed and turn them into a real list of your own personal core values that you want to strive to live by… so that they actually will be things people will admire and remember about you long after you’re gone.


P.S. If you want to take it a step further, look at your list of values and see if you can draw out your extraordinary word from it!

*If you want more help uncovering your values, beliefs and identity’s check out some of the other projects!

Don’t expect to find the answers in a day

I’ve spent the last 2 years trying to decide what to do with my life.

And that doesn’t mean I just go through my normal day to day activities and hope the idea comes to me. That means I’ve spent hours and hours writing and brainstorming and breaking down ideas. Word associations, lists, rhetorical analysis. I’ve spent the past 2 years doing and I still am just barely touching the very tip of the answers to my questions!

I think it’s important you know this because when you find out that you don’t know what to do with your life it can make you want to throw your hands up in frustration and despair, thinking something’s wring with you, then debate giving up on your extraordinary journey.  But don’t give up! Because in fact….

If you don’t know what to do with your life, YOU ARE NORMAL!

You are like everyone else, even those who are living extraordinary lives! No one knows what they want to do at first! Particularly people who have unique personalities. If you are a unique person that means you’re meant to do something unique and uncommon which means that whatever you’re meant to do is not going to be the first thing that comes to mind when you first start examining the options out there for you. If it’s unusual it’s either going to be hard to come across it or it may even be waiting for you to create it! So just because it isn’t on the tip of your tongue, doesn’t mean you won’t uncover it one day!

Set aside intentional brainstorming time.

Don’t expect a rare magical idea to just float into your head unless you are giving it the time of day to come up with it. I spent the first year of my search having no idea what direction I wanted to go and it wasn’t until I spent a good 3 hours a day for a full 4 days straight (on vacation) sitting there and actually writing about various ideas in my journal that I even began to have an inkling of a possible idea. It was sitting there in a coffee shop in Mexico that I came up with the idea for this blog. An idea that never would’ve come to me if I wasn’t actively pursuing it and investing the necessary time and energy into finding it.

If you need help getting going, take the time to stop and do some of the exercises I’ve given you. Those will help kick start you into doing the kind of work that is essential for your extraordinary journey!

If you keep putting in the intentional work and have some patience, the answers will come to you and I think you’ll find out that they were SO worth the wait!