(SUCCESS) What’s ‘Success’ Anyway?

SUCCESSMy service/career path has been more like a zigzag than a straight line. I’ve bounced like a slow-motion pinball from traditional to nontraditional learning environments, carefully gathering what I’ve needed to provide a service that resonated with my deepest values and personal style.

 

Before conceiving my daughter Maya, I had come to a relatively comfortable resting place along this journey towards service-self discovery. I had established a therapeutic orientation (based on transpersonal psychotherapy and the arts) and way of working that felt good to me. I enjoyed working with clients and found ways to express my authentic creativity-loving self within a therapeutic context and identity.

 

But then I got pregnant, and everything changed. It was as if Maya (my daughter), while in my womb, formed a potent alliance with my inner child. Together they declared their rights to exist. “We’re going to need lots of space, Rosy! And more than anything else, we’re going to need you to be happy and creatively fulfilled!” 

 

It was a strange thing, to suddenly experience my own joy and creativity as maternal imperatives. I was used to perceiving the mother-job as a sacred act of self-sacrifice. But somehow, for me, becoming a mother meant solidifying, protecting and expressing my-self and Self. I owed it to my daughter, who would need me to model self-love and self-expression for her. I owed it to my own inner child, who as modeled by my own mother, had been sacrificed time and time again for the needs of others.

 

Suddenly safety, space and simplicity were all that mattered. I found myself making significant changes in my life. I catalyzed a physical move for me and my husband Kim, insisting that our new home include ‘a room of my own’.  Instead of accepting tempting career-oriented offers, I enrolled myself in meditation, birth preparation and prenatal yoga classes. I simplified my social life, letting go of friendships that felt less equal. 

 

And finally, unlike other pregnant colleagues who took temporary leave from their budding therapy practices, I gave final notice at work and terminated with all of my clients.

 

I had no idea what would happen to me after having a baby, but I knew it would be big.

I wanted, needed, to make room for a total transformation. (Even if it included what I intuited — and feared — would be an earthshaking shift in professional identity.)

My hunch was right. 

 

After having Maya, the last place I wanted to be was back in the therapist seat. (I didn’t even want to be a client! I ended a long-term therapy relationship just a few months after giving birth.) My needs for care-taking were more than fulfilled, and I liked the feeling of a fluid life, where my psyche and heart could safely open and merge, without having to continually hold, track and manage the psyches of others. Dealing with my own psyche was MORE than enough.

 

By the time Maya was a year old, I began to feel creative tickles — the call to write, to dabble in my unconscious, and see what would emerge. It took time to heed this particular call. There were a plethora of practical, pressuring, professional voices to appease. 

 

“But what about your career? Your private practice? Your entire life’s education? What about money? How will you ever make a contribution to your family, or the world, by diddling around with your amateur writing?”

 

Thankfully, with the help of my husband, I agreed to temporarily ignore the discouraging voices and pursue my creative dreams.              

 

My therapist self floated off on some boat somewhere, while I took up an old writing project. The next thing I knew, I was no longer writing a grand myth for adults, but a series of books for children.  (See A Tale of Serendipity: The Adventure Begins!

 

Something big happened the moment I surrendered to writing for children — something intricately connected to my service identity. Though I didn’t realize it until much later (several years and two more academic degrees later, in fact!), I believe it was at that point that my ‘identities’ as a spiritual counselor & creativity coach were conceived.  

 

Let’s just say that my professional unfoldment – post-momhood – has been a long and windy journey!  Fraught with worries, anxieties and seemingly crazy decisions.

 

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Many moms come to me because they feel ready to blossom professionally.  

 

Whether their youngest is about start kindergarten, their family seriously needs the extra income, they’re going stir crazy in their current work environment, or they’re just bursting with creative energy, these moms feel an inner rumbling and an outer opening for their re-emergence into the “working world”  –  and/or a reinvention of their working identity. 

 

For the majority of these wonderful women, like it was for me, this can be an enormously exciting, fertile and sometimes scary time.

 

I hear all sorts of things. Here are just a few:

 

  • “I kind of know what I want to do, but it’s crazy. Or impossible. Or I don’t have what it takes.”  

 

  • “When it comes to my professional identity, I’m like an old tool box that’s been left in a shed.  I’m bursting with potential, but need some serious dusting off.”

 

  • “I’m dying to have more intellectual stimulation, but I don’t remember how to speak ‘Adult’.”

 

  • “Talking about ‘what I do’ to people often feels inaccurate, devaluing and/or humiliating.”

 

  • “I feel invisible — like I’m doing the work of a village, but for no pay and little credit.  None of my skills seem to count in the real world.  Or even to myself.”

 

  • “I’m so changed by motherhood that I’m no longer the person, the professional, that I was before I had kids.”  

 

  • “I’d quit what I’m currently doing, if only I knew what was next.” 

 

  • “I feel ready to go back to work, but can’t imagine going back to what I did before…even though I was good at it, and there’s money in it.”

 

  • “I wish I had time to just explore my passions, and my options, without all of this time pressure. But I can’t justify investing in myself if I can’t guarantee immediate – tangible, financial — success.” 

 

Can you recognize yourself in any of these statements?
If you can, you’re not alone.

 

So many moms feel that something new is wanting to happen. But they don’t know yet what that new direction is, or where to start.

 

Perhaps you find yourself in an uninspiring job that doesn’t really reflect who you’ve become or allow you to fully blossom.

 

Perhaps you’ve chosen practicality over passion, and now you feel like you’re squelching your creative dreams to a point of practical non-existence.

 

Maybe you’re lucky enough to actually know what you want to do, but you just don’t have the confidence to go for it.  Maybe you just need help rediscovering your strength, your voice, your courage.

 


Perhaps, for you, it’s just about finally releasing yourself from habitual negative self-comparison &/or eternal-guilt traps.

 

Or maybe you’re like many of the moms (and dads) I tend to work with.  You’re a multi-talented and versatile type (the Mom job seems to require that!).  And as wonderful as those qualities are, (they make for fabulous mompreneurs!), you feel like you’ve dabbled in so many things that you have no single profession or place to call home, or to claim an expertise.

 

The fact that we live in a society that (still!) barely recognizes motherhood as a form of work, where anything that doesn’t bring in income is not considered of value, only exacerbates matters.  Perhaps that’s why one of the things that I enjoy most is teaching moms how to see and talk about what they ALREADY do in a way that feels empowering and valuable.

 

Whether you need more courage, confidence or clarity, you deserve some support!  And sometimes it takes support to get a sense of what kind of support you need! (i.e. a therapist, a coach, an improvisation class, a networking group, business training, etc.)

 

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you think I might be able to help you in any way! I’ve got lots of resources, and it would be an honor and a pleasure.

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