“I was a terrible believer in things,but I was also a terrible nonbeliever in things. I was as searching as I was skeptical. I didn’t know where to put my faith,or if there was such a place,or even what the word faith meant, in all of it’s complexity. Everything seemed to be possibly potent and possibly fake.”
~ Cheryl Strayed
This is a long story, so I’m going to tell it over two days. It might seem like a couple of unrelated stories to start off with, but I promise you it comes together at the end.
So, let’s start at the beginning…
Earlier this year a friend put me in touch with a business coach – a very successful man who had guided her and many others to be able to grow their businesses and themselves. All of these people had existing very successful businesses, and this coach had helped them to move to the next level.
It seemed like a good fit. I was ready and looking, and he was spoken of very highly. He lives overseas so I booked in a skype session with him, feeling very excited.
And then it all went pear-shaped.
What did I do, he asked me.
I’m a psychic, I said, and a metaphysical teacher. I help people to connect to their own intuition and psychic abilities. I blog too.
And you make money from that? His voice was skeptical. In fact, there was more than a hint of something else there. That thing was ridicule.
Yes, I said, I’m doing okay. My initial enthusiasm was fast waning. Bewilderingly, I began to wilt beneath his scrutiny.
Really? But you must have been something else…. before… this… he added.
I explained that I had once owned a very successful training and communications business, with many government and large corporate clients.
Good. That’s where the money is, the coach said, visibly relieved. That’s what you need to go back to. I’m happy to coach you around that. We should be able to make something fly really fast for you there. And I’m thinking now… imagine how you’d go creating online courses for people? Or teaching that? Brilliant!
But that wasn’t what I wanted to do.
When I told him that, he announced that he couldn’t work with me.
I’m a total non-believer in that psychic nonsense, he said. And further, he thought taking me on as a client would reflect badly upon his own ‘brand’.
I got off that call feeling bad about myself and my place in the world.
To make it worse, I heard back from my friend that this coach had trash-talked me to her, saying that I’d ‘wasted my education and abilities to peddle New Age crap to soccer moms and trailer trash’.
Ouch. Talk about confronting! Because of that call I questioned every choice I’d made. I questioned whether my life and what I was doing with it was worthwhile, whether I was actually doing something meaningful, or whether I was deluding myself.
The successful business coach reduced me to feeling like a loser. I seriously wondered if I should have gone back to the corporate world after all. It rocked me more than I’d expected and I’ll be honest in sharing that it took a few weeks to recalibrate my internal equilibrium.
Fast forward to last week.
A gentleman I worked with in the corporate world ten years ago contacted me and offered me (and my shelved company) a three-year contract if I would go back and head up a task force for a project I’d once been instrumental in getting off the ground. It was a seven-figure gig. Per year.
Per year. That’s so much money.
But it was a July 1 start, so no holiday for me (I’m meant to be flying out on May 29 for 6 weeks). I’d be working with people I don’t like. And I’d need to be based in Canberra for three years. They’d own me, essentially. For which I would be very well paid. I’d have to close my psychic business down. Cancel my workshops and retreats. Walk away from everything I’d been building. I was actually considering it, and then the guy said something that made all my alarm bells sound.
You’re the only person I know, Nicole, who specialises in impossible deadlines.
There it was. I’d be working til I dropped. Just like I had the last time we’d worked together. The answer had to be no.
Still, I couldn’t say it. I told this man I needed to discuss his offer with my husband and would get back to him next Monday, after which I felt sick and couldn’t sleep for days for wondering what I should do. Although my husband was sure I needed to say no. And in my heart I knew without a doubt that I needed to turn it down.
But the money…
So much money.
Perhaps worse than that was the fact that I knew if I took this role I would finally have the approval of certain family members, and of some friends who have turned their back on me, given what I now do with my life.
Ben and I talked about it endlessly. Or rather, I kept trying to talk about it and come at it from different angles while Ben listened patiently. Wisely, Ben reminded me of what had happened last time I’d worked on this kind of project. How I’d spend weeks getting four hours sleep a night to make things happen. How I’d eaten stress breakfast, lunch and dinner. Finally I couldn’t come up with one single legitimate reason to accept the contract. I love my life here at the farm. I love my work. I’m really happy, and I’m finally on the path to health. I’d be throwing all of that away, just for money and approval.
I can’t go back to that jungle, I said to Ben. But you know what? I’m just going to throw it out to the Universe anyway. Because I still feel a bit doubty. I’m going to trust that somehow I’ll get confirmation one way or the other, from outside myself.
The very next morning (Friday), there it was in my facebook inbox. A message from one of my students.
Hi Nicole, you featured in my very big dream last night. I am not sure if this message was for you. You said to me you were here to help life and “life is love”. That is why you can’t go to the jungle! Just thought I would share. Much love T xx
They were almost the exact words I’d spoken to Ben.
I’d love to tell you that I was able to let it go after that. But no. On Saturday night I felt quite teary and depressed. I was feeling as if my blog and my psychic work and my teaching didn’t matter. I wasn’t making enough of a difference. Maybe I had it all wrong.
Even on Sunday I couldn’t shake the feeling. I fumbled through my day off in a miserable space of self-doubt.
And then late in the day I received a series of messages on my phone that arrived via facebook. Something made me look at them. What happened next brought me full circle.
But I’ll tell you about that tomorrow…