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Carol's Column
A New Chapter



April 2006                                                                                      Carol Adrienne, Ph.D.

The last time I talked with Sue Christensen, fifty-nine, she had just moved to Tucson, Arizona from Flagstaff following a painful divorce.  At the time she was working in real estate and writing a novel based on her life experiences of marriage, betrayal, growth, and recovery.  She recently reconnected by email, and I was delighted to know what had happened to her in the interim.  Sue is one of the most positive people I have ever met—with well-defined goals.   


Stability After Upset 
During this last three-year period--which she now refers to as her recovery--she decided to get a job with a high profile developer.  She wanted to get back to her old productive mode, and felt she needed to create more structure and get grounded.  Having achieved, once again, a high level of achievement, however, she began to feel that the lure of security and health benefits was keeping her from a deeper expression of her life’s purpose.  “The first three years of selling new construction gave me tremendous opportunity,” she says.  “I made a lot of money and won every award in the field.  I was even named to the National Advisory Council for the company.  However, when I transferred to selling homes in an active adult community, my sales plummeted.  These buyers—usually retired-- take a long time to decide to buy, as there is no urgency such as in the case of job transfers.  Even though the lack of income looked like a bad thing, I now believe that this sales downturn was part of the grand scheme to make me look at what I was doing.


The Success Trap
“At the end of every week, as I checked through my calendar for loose ends or people to contact, I found myself writing some form of this thought:  ‘How much longer are you going to devote your life to a job that is not really a career at the expense of ignoring your dream?’
Sue realized that the security of her job was keeping her from moving on.  Even thought she was dedicated to writing every day--and got up at 4:30 am to write—she had little time to promote her writing or do any other personal growth work. With great intention and clarity, Sue says, “I want to be a novelist.  I have a poster in my bedroom, which is the first thing I see every morning.  It says, ‘What do (all these authors) have in common?  What they have in common is that they were once unknown authors.’  Within five years, I want people to rattle off my name, Sue Christensen, along with John Grisham, Danielle Steel, Stephen King, and Nicholas Sparks.”


A Positive  Spin
    Last October, Sue went to her supervisors and told them she was leaving.  “It has been my experience,” she says, “when people say that they want to resign, the person they are talking to feels some form of rejection. Therefore, I said to my bosses ‘I have decided to retire from real estate so I can pursue my dream as a serious writer.’  Her colleagues were impressed.  At the end of her last  presentation for the Tucson division, about 300 co-workers lined up in the ballroom to wish her luck—some even crying at her decision.  “People told me that if I ever want to come back, the door is wide open.  I believe that the whole dynamic would have been entirely different if I had said I wanted to resign.”


Allow the Universe to Position You
    Five years ago, at our writing workshop, Sue told me something that deeply impressed me at the time.  She said, “I feel that the whole universe is conspiring to make my life wonderful.”  I thought that this statement is a wonderful affirmation. Today, Sue says, “The Universe is absolutely doing that!  I see more and more evidence of that all the time. Sometimes when we can’t seem to get out of our own way, the Universe gives us a nudge.  In my case, it was the lack of sales in that last assignment.  Now I am freed up to learn what I need to learn in the writing field and go forward.”


Living on Your Terms
    Previous investments in commercial real estate are now allowing Sue enough income for the next couple of years, so that she can pursue her publishing goals.  For example, she mentioned the Colorado Independent Publishers association as a great place to learn about self-publishing, book distribution and so forth.  “Whenever I attend a writing event,” says Sue, “I’m happily surprised to see how people react favorably to my first book, Making a Six-Figure Income on Your Terms.  The message in that book is as much about life balance as it is about making a high income.  Every single thing in it is a proven strategy that works.  These principles work in almost all circumstances, even in a small community without any major industry or significant influx of new people. I believe that this book needs to be in every real estate school or school that offers a real estate degree.  I’m having a professional write a book proposal to help me get into that market.


   “My novel, Life du Jour, is also a great book," says Sue. "The feedback I get is wonderful, but I need to get that book the attention I think it deserves. People tell me that they were just going to take a peek at it, and then they find that they can’t put it down.  Afterwards people call and say, When is the next one coming out?  Wow, what encouragement!”


Ask and Receive
Sue mentioned to me about a great synchronicity she had on a trip to Italy—almost an answer to a prayer.  “My sons and I were spending our last day in Italy last fall.  We were in the Duomo Cathedral in Milan, and although I'm not Catholic, I have always liked the Catholic tradition of lighting candles for specific prayer intentions.  None of the other cathedrals we had previously toured had any available unlighted candles, so we were delighted that this one had many available holders and huge boxes of long tapers.  We made a generous donation and proceeded to light candles for all sorts of human needs, such as peace in the world, the safe return of all soldiers on foreign soil, a cure for breast cancer, a cure for every other kind of cancer, a cure for AIDS, and greater understanding among all humans.  Then I prayed, "Well, Lord, I don’t expect you to shove everyone else aside and catapult me to the top of the New York Times Best Seller list, but how about a sign?  Could you just give me some little sign that I'm at least on the right track?"


Sue continues, “Fully aware that the requested answer to prayer comes when it comes, and can't be rushed or even prodded, we just went about the activity of the day,  which included, of course, shopping.  I had just finished the last of the books I'd brought with me, and needed something for bedtime reading as well as for the thirteen-hour flight home the next day.  We were in a book store when one of the boys decided to go to the bathroom—leaving us to browse. The entire store was filled with recognizable American titles and authors, but everything was in Italian.   In the last two minutes of the wait for Pat to return, I found a small section of books in English, and immediately picked up Nicholas Sparks' "True Believer" which I had been wanting to read.   It was well after 11:00 pm when I finally settled into bed with the new book.  I was just reading the acknowledgments page when I let out a war hoop that scared my boys half to death.  There in the first page of the book, Nicholas Sparks expresses his gratitude to his agent, Theresa Park, and congratulates her on her new literary agency, with this in parenthesis: "For all you aspiring writers out there"!! Here was the sign I was looking for!


Why Not Think Big?
    Immediately upon returning home, I called my publicist to tell her about the dramatic sign I'd received so soon after asking for it, and to ask her to help me get in touch with Theresa Park! That phrase “All you aspiring writers, ”  just seemed to be speaking to me.   I don’t want just any agent.  I think big.  I don’t mean to sound arrogant, but I think I can be in the league of best-selling authors, and I am open to learning what I have to learn to get there.  I admire the work of Nicholas Sparks, and I want Theresa Park for an agent.”


Sue’s upbeat story doesn’t end here.  She has also met someone special.  “After my divorce I was shattered. In the four years following our break up, I had been approached by several men.  Depending on who was asking, and how they asked, I had three standard answers: “No.  No, Thank you, or Hell, no.”


“Perhaps the most important thing that has changed in my life is to rethink my decision that I would forever go through life as a single woman.  That was clearly to protect my heart.  Last April I saw my ex-husband at a wedding and I was still badly shaken after that.  For about a year, I have been going out every Wednesday night with two girlfriends to a Karaoke bar to support them in their singing.  It was pure light-hearted entertainment and we pretty much stuck to ourselves.   One night, after I had gotten brave enough to sing myself, we were just sitting there listening to the music, and I had an awareness of someone standing beside me.  I looked up and saw this handsome guy –6 foot 4—smiling down at me. His name is Ernie.  He’s fifty-five, and a singer and guitar player.  He’s worked for the postal service for thirty-two years, but music is his passion. We’re both very creative people in different areas.
“He said he had been wanting to ask me to dance for a long time, but he was always playing in the band.  He had noticed me and my two friends, and wanted to make sure that I was single. He’s been single for six years. After three weeks, he and his friends were waiting for us at their table when we came in. He and I started dating after that.  I don’t think I’ve had this much fun in my entire life.  My kids think it’s the greatest thing in the world for me to be having fun and not working all the time.


“The three most powerful things I learned throughout this transition is that anything is possible, and to remain open to possibility and pay attention to my intuition.”

You can contact Sue at (520) 444-1615 or email her at schristensen@comcast.net (please  reference this article in the subject line.)
Happy April!
Carol Adrienne
    


 


    
    

 
The Heart in Action: Habitat for Humanity


March 2006                            Carol Adrienne, Ph.D.

On the invitations to my sixty-fifth birthday party in January, I asked my guests to please not bring gifts, but if they wanted to, to make a check out for Habitat for Humanity—the volunteer organization that builds affordable homes for the poor .  My generous friends donated over $400 dollars, which I sent to the organization.  


The Director of Development at Habitat, Sue Howell, happened to call me, wondering where all these checks came from, so I told her the story.  As it turns, out I could not help but want to hear Sue’s own story of how she has found her passion and purpose.  
This is a big year for Sue, who is turning sixty and celebrating forty years of marriage—as well as participating in the thirtieth anniversary of Habitat. Sue’s enthusiasm for life and her belief in synchronicity and following your heart is infectious.


Following an early career as a legal transcriber, a job she chose because it allowed her to work at home and still be a full-time mother to her two sons, Sue decided to pursue her love of travel.  Enrolling in travel school led to her working at American Express as a travel counselor--a decision that turned out to be another blessing.  “I felt so fortunate to be working for such a world-class organization, and with people who believed in me and helped me work my way up the ranks.  I worked there for sixteen years.  In 1999, I discovered Habitat for Humanity while I was still working for American Express.”


Sue had been searching for a way to give back to the community, but couldn’t find the right formula.  “One day at my church, we had a woman speaker who was on the Women’s Crew at Habitat. Immediately, I knew that was for me. From that day on I became very involved.”
The concept that grew into Habitat for Humanity International was born at Koinonia Farm, a small, interracial, Christian farming community founded in 1942 outside of Americus, Ga., by farmer and biblical scholar Clarence Jordan.  Taking the organization to the next level was the work of Millard Fuller and his wife Linda.  The couple first visited Koinonia in 1965, having recently left a successful business in Montgomery, Ala., and all the trappings of an affluent lifestyle to begin a new life of Christian service. At Koinonia, Jordan and Fuller developed the concept of "partnership housing" -- where those in need of adequate shelter would work side by side with volunteers to build simple, decent houses. Families who qualified and were selected for a new home would be required to put in 500 hours of sweat equity.

Read more...
 
The Heart in Action: Habitat for Humanity


March 2006                            Carol Adrienne, Ph.D.

On the invitations to my sixty-fifth birthday party in January, I asked my guests to please not bring gifts, but if they wanted to, to make a check out for Habitat for Humanity—the volunteer organization that builds affordable homes for the poor .  My generous friends donated over $400 dollars, which I sent to the organization.  


The Director of Development at Habitat, Sue Howell, happened to call me, wondering where all these checks came from, so I told her the story.  As it turns, out I could not help but want to hear Sue’s own story of how she has found her passion and purpose.  
This is a big year for Sue, who is turning sixty and celebrating forty years of marriage—as well as participating in the thirtieth anniversary of Habitat. Sue’s enthusiasm for life and her belief in synchronicity and following your heart is infectious.


Following an early career as a legal transcriber, a job she chose because it allowed her to work at home and still be a full-time mother to her two sons, Sue decided to pursue her love of travel.  Enrolling in travel school led to her working at American Express as a travel counselor--a decision that turned out to be another blessing.  “I felt so fortunate to be working for such a world-class organization, and with people who believed in me and helped me work my way up the ranks.  I worked there for sixteen years.  In 1999, I discovered Habitat for Humanity while I was still working for American Express.”


Sue had been searching for a way to give back to the community, but couldn’t find the right formula.  “One day at my church, we had a woman speaker who was on the Women’s Crew at Habitat. Immediately, I knew that was for me. From that day on I became very involved.”
The concept that grew into Habitat for Humanity International was born at Koinonia Farm, a small, interracial, Christian farming community founded in 1942 outside of Americus, Ga., by farmer and biblical scholar Clarence Jordan.  Taking the organization to the next level was the work of Millard Fuller and his wife Linda.  The couple first visited Koinonia in 1965, having recently left a successful business in Montgomery, Ala., and all the trappings of an affluent lifestyle to begin a new life of Christian service. At Koinonia, Jordan and Fuller developed the concept of "partnership housing" -- where those in need of adequate shelter would work side by side with volunteers to build simple, decent houses. Families who qualified and were selected for a new home would be required to put in 500 hours of sweat equity.

Read more...
 
Turning Dross into Gold: The Alchemical Path


February 2006                                                                                      Carol Adrienne, Ph.D.


Mary Jo Schneider, fifty-five, shows us that no matter what challenges we might have in life, we can almost certainly turn those experiences into a skill for helping others.  I met Mary Jo by e-mail when she wrote to ask me if she could use some of my exercises from The Purpose of Your Life with classes she teaches for dual-diagnosed adults and inmates in the county jail.  We found that we had a mutual friend, and that we had also both studied with Arnold Patent, a former attorney turned metaphysical teacher.  As we corresponded, I intuitively felt that Mary Jo must have a story to tell.


A part-time Program Director for a mentoring scholarship program for high school-aged teens called Invest in Kids; she is also a credentialed adult education teacher as well as a substitute teacher for inmates in a local county jail.  She is joyful about how life has given her many ways to serve.


Difficulties In the Beginning


‘My life truly seemed hopeless for the first thirty-three years,” says Mary Jo, “but I believe we can either stew in our problems or turn them into something delectable.”
Between 1970 and 1982 Mary Jo says her weight fluctuated from about 200 to 300 pounds (at her highest weight).  In 1969, at age nineteen, she got pregnant.  She married her daughter’s father, despite the fact that he was a heroin addict.  She recalls, “I became deeply codependent--trying to keep the peace and, if it became necessary, to go so far as to endanger myself by getting him drugs so he wouldn’t be sick and make life more difficult for me and my daughter.  I was trying desperately to control my environment.  I used to clean my house every single day.  It was the only control I had over my life.  You could say that I was living completely blind to my own purpose, utterly taken up with him and his disease.  I felt tied up in that and hopeless.”


“I kept trying to just raise my daughter and keep going.  Every week, my husband would spend most of the money we had on drugs, and I’d be lucky to get three or four dollars every couple of days for food.  I wasn’t aware of it then, but not having enough money for food set up a whole depravation dynamic in me that set me to trying to get more and more food.  My hunger was insatiable, while I was completely tuned out to my body, its needs, and what I was feeling.  I think I’m fairly smart, but during those years, I did not think I had anything to offer.” 


Staying with the Familiar or Facing the Unknown


    Mary Jo lacked the courage to venture forth and leave the marriage.  As many of us do after years of being in the midst of incredible stress and lack of self-esteem, she was terrified of the unknown.  She had no confidence that she could raise her daughter alone, even though that’s exactly what she had been doing during her troubled marriage.  Finally, her husband left her after he’d had an affair with one of her best friends.

After their break up, she spent several years on welfare, hiding in her house and eating.  She reflects back over the misery of her life; “I didn’t even learn to drive until I was thirty-six because I didn’t want to draw any attention to my cumbersome body by putting myself behind a steering wheel.  After being on welfare for eight years, I eventually got a minimum wage job doing bookkeeping. Not only was it difficult to get hired as a welfare mom with no job history, but because of my size, I had no wardrobe nor did I have the financial ability to get one.  I sewed one large dress to go on a job interview, and I just remember being so uncomfortable trying to sit for over an hour trying to keep my legs together.  At my weight, it was nearly impossible to sit that way.  I was shocked that I actually got the job!”


It took another four years for her to finally hit bottom with her weight and joined Weight Watchers.  It took nearly three years and 170 lbs. to change how she thought about herself.  “When I lost my weight,’ she says, “my life began to change radically.  My appearance was so drastic, hardly anyone recognized me, and I became kind of like a sensation in my circle of friends.  It seemed natural to try becoming a Weight Watcher leader, which required a lot of public speaking—but what was I thinking?  I must say, if there were two words that were wholly emblematic of who I was at that time they would be, I can’t!  Every time I was asked to speak, I would cry all the way to the site; I was terrified and so convinced I couldn’t do it.  But oddly enough, once I started speaking in front of a group, it was so much fun.
Unfortunately, patterns don’t change overnight.  After Mary Jo lost her first seventy-five pounds, she met another man who was an alcoholic, and she was shocked to find he dabbled in substances like heroin; being with him was like going back ten years to life with her husband.  Still a codependent, she lived with him for five years until she finally found the courage to finally ask him to move out. 


    Despite her success as a leader and motivational speaker for Weight Watchers, Mary Jo began to gain the weight back.  “I recognize today that I’m powerless over food, and I also know I cannot keep my weight off by myself; I need the support of a program of recovery,” she says. “Can you imagine? I gained back 125 pounds after losing 175!  I would not have believed it could happen, but it did.  Around the same time I began gaining my weight back, I found a Unity church and began a metaphysical journey.  That’s when I studied with Arnold Patent, and it was then that I came to realize I was not a victim; I was in fact creating my life frame by frame.  I was choosing my way into all those situations!  In the beginning, hearing this language of Universal Principle was almost like having someone speak Japanese to me.  I could not understand what it meant.  I created my experience by my thoughts?  What a revelation!


    “It was then I also began to realize there was something under the weight.  I recognized how my body was a mirror of my consciousness and that the weight was there for a reason; it truly forced me to search deeper.  My weight has become a part of my spiritual path, and today I’m actually grateful for this part of my experience, and I no longer need to insulate myself against living.”


Stepping Up and On to the Path


    One of the first steps toward Mary Jo’s transformation was to go back to school. 
Applying to the University of California at Berkeley in the writing department, she was accepted but lacked the tuition to start the program.  A friend took up her cause and collected donations from her wide circle of friends, and Mary Jo was on her way. She says, “It was so touching and one of those examples of how the Universe supports you when you step onto your path.” She went on to get her Bachelor’s degree in English and later a Master’s in Liberal Arts with an emphasis on Sacred Cinema.  As an adult education teacher, she teaches workplace communication skills, drug and alcohol education, and writing.  She has her students write their own stories, and Mary Jo has seen the power of people’s own stories as a way to heal.


Passing On What We Know


    Teaching at the county jail brings rich rewards for her and the students in the classroom.  Mary Jo says, “Teaching at the jail is like being in a roomful of men like my ex-husband!  I talk straight with them, but they seem to accept it from me because I share honestly from my personal experience.  One of the inmates once told me that when I come it’s kind of like going to his grandma’s house to get a hug and a kiss.  It is so amazing to hear this, because I’m not necessarily telling them things they want to hear!  I do try to encourage them, but I’m still telling the truth.  Sometimes, when I’m sharing a story or a spiritual moment, the room is totally silent and they are leaning forward in their seats, hanging on the words—it’s like a sacred energy is in the room.  I can’t explain it, but I especially love working with the male inmates.  One of them once said, ‘You just like bad boys!’ I answered, ‘Maybe so, but at least I get to go home and leave you here!  I don’t live with you anymore!’  They liked that one.”


Mary Jo brings real life experience, wisdom and compassion to her work.  One day she brought in a friend’s Christmas letter he’d written to say goodbye to his daughter, Jenny, who had passed away right before Christmas and her thirty-fourth birthday.  “I asked how many of them were fathers, and almost everyone—even those as young as twenty-years old—raised their hands.  I gave the letter to one of the men, a father of two daughters, and asked him to read it aloud.  I told them this father no longer had a choice about spending time with his daughter, and that I thought some of them were taking their privileges for granted.  As he read, the room was still, and I could tell they were deeply moved by this father’s pain.  They all wanted to see Jenny’s picture and passed it around the room.  Amazingly, about two minutes after the inmate, Robert, finished reading the letter, a deputy came and told him he had to leave as he was being transferred out to San Quentin [a federal prison].  He turned to me and said, ‘I’ll never forget Jenny,’ and in that moment, I believe he was forever changed.”


 “I know I was called to teach,” Mary Jo says, “even though I still get nervous like I used to in those early Weight Watcher days, but when I begin to teach, I am so in the flow.  Things come that I don’t expect, and it’s clear I’m fulfilling my purpose.”

Mary Jo can be contacted at jo@investinkids.net.
Happy Valentine’s Day to You!
Carol Adrienne

 
AN ARTFUL LIFE

Barb Astler turned forty-four on November 1 - the day her business officially opened. Barb lives in Highland Beach, Florida a beachfront town near Boca Raton. Without realizing it, she has been in the business of an artful life since she was ten years old.

For the past fourteen years, Barb worked as vice president of human resources for a large corporation, and helped build that company to its present size. "What drew me to finally leave and start my own business was a change in leadership philosophy that no longer jibed with my own beliefs about what's important." Barb admits that she could have stayed there and reaped rich financial rewards, but speaking out for her beliefs was more important in the long run than the money.

Her resignation did not come easily as she struggled with the ties to security her job had given her. After leaving once and being asked back, she finally left for good in September of this year. She and her business partner, Bobbie Forrest are now stocking the newly installed shelves in Barb's spare bedroom with various specialty items for the gift baskets they have already started selling.

Find Your Passion by Looking at Lifelong Interests

Barb's first job at age thirteen was decorating windows for a small high-end clothing and accessory boutique. As long as she can remember, she always loved making things beautiful. About eighteen years ago, she happened to attend a baby shower and fell in love with a gift basket someone brought. "I was in awe! I started making baskets as gifts for all my friends, family, and even my staff. After they received one of my baskets, they would almost always ask me to make one as a gift for their own friends. In those days, I didn't charge anything for my time, but usually people would give me a little something extra." Barb started making gift baskets for all kinds of occasions-and the containers are not always baskets, but might be a hat box, a silver tray, a tower of boxes, or a miniature baby carriage.

Barb's other love is faux painting. At age ten she started painting little stage sets. After that it was painting her own bedroom, a room in her grandmother's house, or old furniture. "Anytime I saw an old piece of furniture, I wanted to do something to it to make it pretty. I'd buy a little table for four dollars and paint it, and it looked fabulous. I didn't know anything about faux painting then, or that it was an art. As I got older I would educate myself by reading books on furniture restoration.

How the Ego Gets in the Way When Other People Give Us an Important Message

When people saw Barb's creative pieces, they'd want her to do one for them-and would offer to pay her. "Everyone told me, 'You should be doing this for a living!' Did I listen? No! I would always think to myself, I don't have the credentials. I don't have a degree in interior design. I didn't go to art school. I didn't feel qualified as a painter or an actual artist. But I was an artist from a young age, and neither myself nor my parents realized it. I never thought it could make me money."

Limitations May Point to a Better Way

Barb continued to paint at night and on weekends for friends who often had large, expensive homes. People continued to tell her she should do this for a living. Even though her side business kept blossoming, Barb was reluctant to see it as a viable livelihood. She needed to feel more confident, and she wanted credentials. Going to school for interior design seemed to be too expensive and too long a process. Besides, she says, a lot of that program didn't interest her. Another strike against choosing an interior design school was that no classes were offered on weekends. She wasn't yet ready to let go of her job.

By searching the Internet, Barb eventually found a good school in San Antonio, Texas. It is run by an Italian artist who began his own career as an apprentice restoring church art. Classes are offered on the weekend so Barb started taking four-day vacation trips to San Antonio. "I used my vacation time to get educated, and got four different certifications. All were in faux finishing-from comprehensive interior finishes to all the basic painting techniques. I learned how to replicate finishes and materials like leather, bricks, verdigris, and woodwork. I also got a certification in stenciling to create fabric looks, watercolors, Venetian plaster, and murals. Another class specialized in faux marbleing and precious stones. Because I had to make samples, I now have a full portfolio of all the designs, colors, glazes, and techniques I can do. The tuition was the most expensive investment, but it was worth it for the confidence and skills I learned."

Another program called The Creativity Workshop offered study abroad. Barb's first trip was to Italy for a workshop in Florence where she learned how to access creativity. "I loved exercises like the one where we had to take a rock or a leaf or a pencil from our purse-anything-and create a miniature world. We were given assignments such as going to a park or Palazzo in Florence, or looking into a shop window-something new that inspired us to write or draw about what we saw. Another one was to bring ten things which represented who you are as a person. You had to explain why these objects made you think of who you are.

"I came away realizing that I have to do something every day to rejuvenate myself and get into that place of receptivity and creativity. I realized I could find art and inspiration without spending any money, and that simple things could spur ideas that might evolve in very different directions.

"A major turning point happened when I discovered what I wanted to do with my life on a trip to visit a friend in Arkansas. She took me on a day trip to the wine country. While driving around, we saw one of the oldest churches in the state, which was being renovated. I was intrigued and wanted to go inside. All of a sudden I was having a very spiritual experience. I was in amazement. All around the church artists were working on restoring murals and frescoes and molding and altars. The first artist greeted us and invited us in to see what they were doing. Each artist looked at me and talked to me as if they knew me. The foreman overseeing the building of the altar took me on a tour. I told him, 'I want to do this one day,' and he said 'Have you ever thought of being an apprentice? We train apprentices. You don't get paid but you learn the art.' He talked with me for a long time. He told me that restoration is a dying art, but there is a famous restoration company that travels all over the world restoring old buildings. I suddenly had the feeling that everyone who worked in this church was really an angel unaware. I know they were angels, and they knew who I was and why I was there. It was the most unbelievable experience. From that day forward I was changed. That's when I started my exploration of how to make this happen.

About Money and Security

"Being a single woman, I haven't found a partner yet," says Barb. "I know I have to take care of myself. Working for the corporation afforded me money, but it was not my life. During the time I worked there, I had many illnesses. Three years ago, I had to have back surgery. Two years ago I had a pulmonary embolism and almost died. I realized how short life is. The week that I left my job, my back pain completely disappeared. Maybe it's because I'm not sitting at a desk, but maybe it's because I did the right thing.

"Every time I thought about leaving, I'd panic or my boss would appreciate me more. But the situation continued to deteriorate, and I didn't feel I could do the job I was supposed to do. That weekend I was reading the Bible, and I got the message I needed. I read a passage from the Book of Esther about standing up for the truth no matter what the stakes are.

"When I decided to write my resignation, I consulted with my family and friends. They were all supportive and encouraged me to do my painting and gift baskets. I needed that because I wasn't sure I could be a good entrepreneur. The final boost came from a co-worker who is a brilliant strategist and marketing genius. Someone had given him one of my baskets, but he didn't know I made it. When he found out, he told me I had to do this for a living. That made a huge impact because I respect his business acumen so much."

Barb says the minute after turning in her resignation, blessings began to arrive. First, she received an unexpectedly generous severance package. Secondly, her friend and now business partner, Bobbie, also retired from a career in the criminal justice system, and was eager and ready to start the gift basket business. Coincidentally, since retiring, Bobbie's health has improved and she is losing weight. Bobbie's husband, who suffers from a chronic illness, is also getting in on the fun of the new venture. As Barb says, "The positive energy we are generating being in our purpose is effecting everyone's spirit and enthusiasm in a transformational way."

Synchronicities have been happening every day now that Barb is on her path. She and Bobbie discovered—as luck would have it—that a gift trade show was being held in Chicago the weekend immediately following her resignation. When she tried to register online, however, the site wouldn't let her complete her payment of five hundred dollars for the entrance fee. When Barb and her mother arrived at the show, no one was at the front entrance, except for one woman behind the counter. Barb told the woman that she had been unable to pay online. Inexplicably, the woman told Barb and her mom, "That's fine. There's no charge," and ushered them into the convention hall. " I know she is one of those angels," says Barb. "We never saw her again at the reception desk."

Things Flow When You Are On The Right Track

For example, all the vendors she met in Chicago that she wanted to work with happen to live within a few blocks of her home in Florida. Friends helped put up shelves in her spare bedroom. Referrals for gift baskets started coming in. Bobbie's sister, a partner in a big law firm, ordered all her Christmas gifts from Barb and Bobbie. "Everywhere Bobbie goes," says Barb, "people want to buy baskets. The phone is ringing off the hook."

What has Barb learned since taking the leap (a long time coming) from leaving her job and secure paycheck? "It's taught me to look for the synchronicities and let the process work. If it's right, it'll come to you. I used to push those things away by saying it's just a coincidence. Now I want to let the right thing happen. I'm not pushing for anything to happen."

Barb Astler and Bobbie Forrest can be contacted at www.barbisbaskets.com or email Barb at astlerscastle@adelphia.com or calll on (561) 272-4943.

 
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