Mojo Messages from Tama

Will I Ever Get There? The Practice of Marking Your Milestones

“I want to leave my mark on the world,” one of my career coaching clients whispers to me in a conspiratorial tone. I hear the years passing by in her mind. “Does your life leave its mark on you?” I ask her. Lately, I’ve begun to watch how much we are deeply missing our own lives, pushing ahead to be first in line, with deprivation and unworthiness in our hearts. I want you to give to the world—but from all the love you have given to yourself.
I want you to see how amazing you are in this very moment. I want you to take in your milestones right now, instead of the miles between you and your ever-changing goals. I want you to look in your rearview mirror and take in how far you’ve come, in everything. If you do not cultivate this voice of conscious self-appreciation, the voice of despondency and discounting spawns more pain and miles to go.
 As many of you know, my latest book Inspired & Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work! just got released into paperback this month. It’s a big deal to me. I’ve also had an article done on me in USA Today. I am trying to not just keep rushing on with other deadlines, but to take this moment of my life into my cells, for myself and for all of us who dare to obey our own inspired instincts in this lifetime.  

I want to pick bouquets for myself-- not the self who got featured in the media. I want to pick flowers for the self who attempted this journey when there was no contract, agent, publisher or media in sight and plenty of bills and relatives who averted their eyes or shook their heads. I want to celebrate that part of me that sobbed when she didn’t get certain speaking engagements, but who spoke to whoever would listen instead. She’s the one who got me here. It isn’t the poised one who is the star. It’s the one who was freaked out of her mind, but who chose to trust in love instead of fear, one desperate minute at a time, until she created a life that has others believing in their own powers, too.  

In honor of her, and all of us on creative journeys, I thought I’d share the following excerpt from Inspired & Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work! (Tarcher/Penguin) which talks about how crucial it is to witness to your own amazing, everyday success-- if you want to create a life you love.
“Wild success is not a path of quiet desperation clinched by a big bang. It’s a path of honoring yourself every step of the way. You may already be great at this, but me, I had some remedial work cut out for me, something like writing ten thousand times on the blackboard of life, “I will not be mean to Tama anymore. Tama is a good person who is trying her best.” See, I was forever auditioning for a part in my own movie, instead of embracing the leading role. I was waiting to “make it,” instead of making it every step of the way. I saw most of my achievements as nondescript motel rooms on the road to somewhere “big.” I was so busy studying the map, I never gazed in the mirror and said, “Way to go” to the one who didn’t always know which way to go, or how to show up in one piece, but was showing up anyway.  
Admit it, you know I’m not alone in this. Many of us burn for validation, string the moon up in the sky to get it, yet treat our own triumphs like used paper plates after the picnic. Of course we tell ourselves, that once we got “there,” we’ll really take it all in. But “there” is a moving target. We’re so busy yearning, striving, and groping, we pass through holy lands and power spots and never arrive. So here’s what I want you to know. Success comes in the middle or not at all.
One part of you is crazily grinding away like a weed attempting to crack through the cement in the middle of midtown Manhattan. It’s your job to nurture those attempts and cheer them on as though your life depended on it. Your creative life does depend on it.
Your inspired life needs constant love and support.
No one else can bless you in the same way, and no one else will. It’s an indispensable practice, on the order of breathing or talking to God, I’d say, to witness to your own strides, stellar, moderate, and very, very small. 
Because let me tell you, the anti-cheerleader of success is alive and well within you. Its sarcasm and acid can leave you believing you’re a loser even when you win. Here’s the voice I mean. Oh I got lucky. I couldn’t make that happen again. It’s not really a success because…fill in the blank, and it’s not that big a deal. Besides, it’s just a drop in the ocean to where I have to go. You may think it’s no big deal, but only because you’ve allowed yourself to think you’re no big deal.
It’s murder by diminishment.
Critical self-talk stirs broken glass into your sugar bowl; you cut yourself whenever sweetness comes. You may not even consciously hear this voice, but it’s a “realistic point of view,” a “concern” that suddenly arises, or a subtle suggestion that changes shining cherries into sour grapes and leaves you feeling bruised and rotten.
Believe me, I know about the seething dark power of that voice. I’ve seen it eat away the confidence of my clients and students, people who had everything going for them except themselves. I’ve been one of those people, too. Like you really need an example-- but I’ll share one anyway. I used to keep a photo album in which I'd saved and displayed the articles I'd published. The album had filled during the years with multiple bylines, though I hadn’t yet written for any newsstand magazines like People, Ladies Home Journal, or The New Yorker.
One day, setting the latest article under the cellophane page, I noticed that I felt down, like maybe I’d accidentally killed someone and forgot about it until now, or maybe I’d been told I was going to die real soon, and I’d never see my dog, a plate of Pad Thai, or a Starbucks coffee again. I felt sad and unsure of myself and as though my ribs and bones and eyelids hurt with the weight of this very wrong thing that had no name. Finally, I overheard the source of the pain.
“Pathetic,” hissed my own voice within me. “These are all no-count magazines. You’re actually collecting these two-bit treasures as though they mean something. No real writer would delight in this drivel.” I was stunned. Then I flashed back on feeling like a proud peacock, being an excited little girl, scoring a 98 on a spelling test and telling my family. “Did anybody get a 100?” my father asked. “Yes,” I admitted, feeling as though I was handing him a very loaded revolver. “How come you didn’t get a 100?” he says, and his tone shames me into the floorboards forevermore. And that’s that-- my 98 is now a torn butterfly or broken vase, something that fails to perform. I didn’t learn to celebrate success. I learned to eviscerate it.
As I looked at my photo album again, I travelled back in time in my mind. There I stood five years before with a manila envelope sheathing a crisp manuscript, standing before a mailbox, yes, in the carriage and buggy days of “snail mail,” kissing and blessing the package for luck. Believe me, I would have imported eye of newt, vials of holy water from Lourdes, or begged a shaman to shake rattles and spirits if I thought it would help my odds. At that moment, I had never ever received an acceptance letter, only form letter rejections. Every rejection was like a rock I had to swallow.  
If I could have handed the photo album crammed with published articles to that self of five years ago, she would have cried with gratitude that the dreams she cherished had come true. She would have flung the mail she carried like confetti, streamers, or winning chips from Vegas. She may have fell to her knees and sung to the skies with yellow butterflies soaring from her mouth, "I did it, I did it! I did it!" Yet just a few years down the road, this album was filled with castaway success, because I did do it. No big deal….
These days, I still have wild ambition. But I’m not as desperate, because I’m receiving my own recognition all along the way. I am replacing the discounting voice with the one that makes things count, makes them real, and makes them last. I am telling the sweet frightened part of myself a fable, the tale of the success of Tama. It’s a bed time story she needs to hear day and night, so that lesser stories have no room to take root. I tell her about her courageous feats of spirit, allegiance to higher forces, brave choices and stubborn stamina. I am on my side now.
I want to see every one of my own successes because I know seeing these will beckon even more.
I want to acknowledge all the good and adorn the broad shelf of my heart with quiet trophies, some that I alone will see in this lifetime. I want to shine the metal of my medals, not to brag to others, but to salute my trusting self and let her know how grateful I am for all her efforts and clarity. She is the one who believes before anyone else in the world ever sees a thing. She deserves to be seen.” From Inspired & Unstoppable-- ©2012 Tama Kieves. All rights reserved                                                                         ***     

Coaching tip: what milestone(s) do you need to acknowledge? These moments will not come again.
Know anyone near Denver who might want to join me on Sept 21?

I’m throwing a spontaneous afternoon of ritual & commemoration for this journey “Marking a Milestone with Tama” on Sept 21. It’s free and open to all. It feels a bit vulnerable to me. But I want to mark this milestone, not only of my own courage, but of this new book going out into the world at this time. I’d love it to be a day of marking milestones for all of us because there are no big or small milestones, just steps in the right direction. It’s the Fall Equinox. Nature shows us just how quickly things pass. Let’s not allow the moments that are important to us to pass.

Would love to hear anything/everything from you, dear one, on the blog or Facebook.   
©2013 Tama Kieves. All rights reserved.

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TAMA: Honors graduate of Harvard Law School turned mojo career catalyst • Best-selling author of This Time I Dance! and also Inspired & Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work!
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Hey writers! Check out the TIPS I shared in The Huffington Post for writing the new kind of memoir/self-help book!


Closing Message

Beloved Tribe member, remember our Inspired Revolution has spread largely through word-of-mouth and heart. Be an Ambassador of the Spark. PLEASE forward this e-newsletter to a friend whose heart is yearning for this message today! I am so grateful for who you are—and who you are becoming. I send you all my love and blessings.