Monthly Archives: January 2014

The Day God Smacked Me in the Face

One of the biggest obstacles I had to overcome when I first began to really understand that God was prompting me to leave my full time job was the obvious blaring truth that no one leaves their job after working somewhere 26 years. Especially someone like myself who only had 3 1/2 years to go until I could take early retirement with a full pension.

I wrestled back and forth with God about this for several years. The more obvious it became to me that He really was telling me to leave, the more I would ask Him how he expected me to survive financially if I left. He knew as well as I did that I’ve never had anyone that I could fall back on in my life and so this risk wasn’t one that I could just take and hope for the best.

What is amazing about this entire journey is that He never lost His patience with me as I tried to wrap my head around this concept. He always managed to communicate with me in a way that I could understand His direction. He did this a variety of ways, but mostly through what I call “God Taps” and through other people’s actions or words.

Sue 1987 & Kathy 1988

Sue 1987 & Kathy 1988

One of the most powerful ways He helped me get over the thought that no one quits their job after 26 years, was to use someone else to prove to me that people really do. Kathy started working where I worked about 3 months after I started. We became fast friends and hung out a lot. We were union members and Kathy became very involved in the union leadership. She always knew so much more about the company, the union, the rules, the proper expected behavior, etc. than I could ever hope to know. I always admired her and looked up to her for that reason.

Both of us were “lifers”, just doing our time like a prison sentence until we could retire. The company we worked for was so unbelievably toxic that you could never just go to work and do your job. There was always drama, hurtful and false rumors and management vs union wars. People stayed there because of the great benefits and wages – that was it. I don’t think anyone there actually enjoyed their jobs.

In August 2011, Kathy was preparing to go on vacation for 2 weeks. The day before her vacation started, she was going through the things in her desk – tossing old notes, giving away this or that trinket and getting her stuff organized (you know I’m all about that!). Nothing seemed funny about it at all. We all get the bug to declutter and organize from time to time so I saw it as nothing more than that.

However, the very next day someone told me that Kathy had given her 2 weeks notice and she wasn’t coming back. She hadn’t told a soul she was leaving until after she left. I remember thinking to myself “WHAT?!?! That can’t be possible. Not Kathy! She’s so much smarter than that!”. The minute I heard this I texted her begging her to tell me if what I had heard was true or not. She confirmed that it was all true. She wasn’t coming back. (Kathy now spends her days helping motivate people to lose weight. Check it out.)

This was the day that God smacked me in the face with someone else’s actions and said “Yes. People really do leave. Even after investing 26 years of their lives somewhere. And that is what I’m telling you to do”. From that day forward, the ball was in motion for me to figure out how to make the leap myself. This included meeting with a financial planner, refinancing my house to reduce my interest rate, discontinuing anything that wasn’t necessary (house phone, extra cable channels, etc) and challenging God a few more times to be sure before I actually took the leap in March 2013.

 

Following God One Yes at a Time

When I was 99.7% sure that I was going to take the leap and leave all of my financial security to follow the plan that God had for my life, I read the book “Following God One Yes at a Time” by Connie Cavanaugh because a friend suggested it might be helpful. Boy was she ever right! It was a super easy read and basically was the icing on the cake for my decision. It confirmed everything I had been thinking and feeling. When I finished reading the last page of this book, I emailed my boss to tell him I’d be leaving.

Following God One Yes at a Time

Following God One Yes at a Time

You know how you underline, circle or put asterisks next to meaningful things in books you read? Well I basically marked up every single page of the book. If you’ve been considering taking a big risk in life, or making a big change, I can’t recommend this book highly enough!

In the book, Connie talks about the many feelings that you come up against like guilt, fear, shame, doubt, comparison and defeat when you are considering taking a risk or step of faith. And she talks about how you can beat each of those by saying yes one tiny step at a time. The approach she talks about is exactly how I’ve always lived my life. Whenever I’m trying to encourage someone, I always tell them to “lean into it”, which basically means the same thing. Do one small little thing in that direction and see where that leads you. Then take another small step in that direction and see where it leads you. Open your mind a little bit more to the idea and see where that leads you,

Though it’s difficult for me to pick the one thing in the book that impacted me the most, I’d have to say that this paragraph in a nutshell confirmed what I had finally allowed myself to believe:

God gives each of us His dreams. And one of the biggest miracles is that He wants to use our stories as proof to others that He is real, He is alive, He cares, He wants to be personally involved in our lives, and He wants to use us to change and bring hope to the world we live in. Say yes to His dream for you and expectantly watch for His guidance and provision.

What? You Admire ME?

Something I believe so very strongly is that we were each uniquely created to do the most spectacular and amazing things with our lives. The problem lies in the fact that most of us just don’t believe that we are good enough, or that we deserve it. In essence, each one of us is our own worst enemy and the only thing standing in our way of living out a powerful, exciting life.

Why do you believe greatness belongs only to Oprah, Deepak Chopra, Michael Phelps or other well known people? You were uniquely created, as were they, with your own special gifts and talents. The only thing stopping you from being all that you were created to be is YOU. We all have insecurities about ourselves but the key is to move forward even when they are trying to hold you back.

As much as I truly believe that I was created to do great things, I struggle in my own insecurities and humbleness just like everyone else does. The only difference is that I don’t let those insecurities paralyze or stop me from moving forward. And as much as I don’t see my own greatness, others telling me how much I have helped them or impacted their lives in a positive way gives me the courage to keep going for it.

Barry Izsak NAPO Conference 2007

Barry Izsak NAPO Conference 2007

I’ll never forget the first time I heard Barry Izsak, owner of Arranging it All organizing services and former President of the National Association of Professional Organizers, speak at the very first national conference I ever attended in 2007 when my business was only 2 months old. He was standing at the podium before 7000 attendees and he was encouraging us as a group to believe in our dreams, believe that they can be a reality and to go for it. I remember that moment so clearly because I felt so inspired, empowered and even more motivated than I thought was humanly possible after hearing his presentation. I was in awe of him and everything he said.

Fast forward 5 years to 2012 when I launched The Stuff Stop, a FREE nationwide website that helps you match up your unwanted stuff with people in need by connecting you with ministries and charities in your area that will take your unwanted stuff to help others. I’ll never forget the conversation I had with Barry when I reached out to professional organizers nationwide about advertising on The Stuff Stop. He said (and I can quote him since I’ll save the email forever!) “I commend you on this wonderful endeavor and my hat is off to you! I admire what you are doing and I would be honored to be your first advertiser in Texas. I am thrilled to support you and the great work that you’re doing with The Stuff Stop! Keep up the good work. I’m so proud of you, Sue!!!! You are truly a NAPO success story if there ever was one!!!!”

Can you imagine what a “full circle moment” that was for me? To have someone that I remember admiring so clearly now be telling me that they admired me and what I was doing. It left me speechless. I hope that by sharing this story, you will begin to understand and believe that you have the power within yourself to do great things too!

Beginning to Realize My Own Uniqueness

In April 2007, 2 months after my divorce was final, I hopped on a plane all by myself and headed to the National Association of Professional Organizers’ annual conference in Minnesota. I had never traveled alone in my life, much less left my kids behind as I traveled. I had just started my business and had never been to the conference, so I didn’t know a soul out of the 7000 people that were expected to be there. I also have an extreme claustrophobic reaction to flying but there was no stopping me!

All of the wonderful people I met there were in awe and amazed that I would be brave enough to do that. It’s funny, I didn’t look at it that way. I just looked at it all as a matter of fact decision. If I was going to be a professional organizer, this is a step I would need to take. I’ve always been the kind of person that just does what I am supposed to do, or need to do, to take me to where I am headed regardless of my own insecurities or whatever is holding me back. This may be a natural born quality, or it may be a quality that I learned early on because I have never had a very good support system to help me, including my parents.

Nonetheless, one of the keynote speakers there was Jack Canfield, author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul. To be honest, I wasn’t very familiar with him or his books, but his presentation was amazing and focused on how people should take all of the risks I described in the first two paragraphs! In humbleness, and with all due respect to Mr Canfield, the reason his presentation was so powerful for me was because I already think and act exactly like he was telling people to think and act. I was so anxious to let him know that I had lived my life in the exact fashion he described and that this approach really does work, that I bought his book and waited in line to meet him.

Jack Canfield Autograph

Jack Canfield Autograph

His presentation was the buzz for the remainder of the conference. People were motivated by all of the wonderful things he said and all of the inspiration he gave them. They really were impressed by what he had to say. I began to realize that if I already knew all of the secrets and tips he was sharing, that I must be a little bit special myself. For those of you that don’t know, Jack Canfield is a very, very successful business person and is a millionaire many times over. He has inspired many, many everyday people as well as many influential people.

This chance meeting is where the seed was planted that I had knowledge and information that I could use to help people live their best lives – and to let them know that they deserve it. And this is where I began to realize how many times people had told me that I had inspired them with my actions. Over the years since then, I’ve learned a lot more about myself and this unique quality. And that is why I was able to understand that I was to use this momentous decision in my life to motivate others to not let their own fears or insecurities stop them from being all they were created to be.

SIDE NOTE: I submitted a snippet of my Modern Day Noah story to Jack Canfield for consideration in his new book a couple of years ago but never heard anything back.

Signs of New Life Sprouting Up Everywhere

I know money is important to survival. I honestly do. I wasn’t born into money. I definitely have had to work very hard all of my life. And I’ve gone through many, many struggles because there was a lack of money since I was a single parent with absolutely no help, even from my children’s father. So believe me, I understand first-hand how important money is.

When I began trying to wrap my brain around the fact that God was telling me to take this leap of faith and leave my financial security, obviously money was the big obstacle to His plan for me in my eyes. As I began to lean into considering leaving, I did a lot of planning. I even met with a financial advisor who immediately told me that I would be foolish to leave my financial security. It’s funny though that after hearing 5 minutes of my story and all of the ways that God had been showing me that was His direction, she honestly started to believe it herself.

New Life Springing Up

New Life Springing Up

 

It’s been 10 months now since I left my “real” job and there have only been 2 big financial scares. But even with those, I haven’t regretted my decision once. The number one reason I haven’t regretted it or gotten scared is because I tested God over and over before I finally took the leap and I feel confident this is His plan. So I do trust and rest in the fact that “He’s got this” (He’s in control). He’s not going to let me fail because my life and the results of this leap of faith will be a testament to Him.

The second reason is that I see signs of new life all around me and most importantly, within me. There are changes within me daily, if not hourly. OK, hourly might be a bit extreme. But there are so many WONDERFUL things that have happened that money just can’t buy! I feel that I am really living now, not just merely surviving. I’ve already mentioned the weight I lost but there are lots of other physical changes that have happened that represent the internal changes. I am in the final leg of making some bold changes in how I look, complete with new glasses and new hair. For me, that’s a BIG DEAL! Though I’m still no beauty queen, the new changes are lighter, freer and even a bit riskier for me.

For the last 4 years of my “real” job, if I wasn’t working with one of my organizing clients, I wore sweat pants and an over-sized T-shirt EVERY DAY – even to my “real” job. (Remember, I worked nights. That’s a whole different ball game in a business office.) I NEVER wore make up and I seldom tried to fix my hair. Since my big leap of faith, I’ve worn make up more often, changed my hair style several times and slowly started acquiring new clothes that fit. The biggest thing I’ve learned during this process is that it makes me feel better about myself. I didn’t realize that I’d been stuck in a vicious cycle for the last 4 years.

By wearing sweat pants, no make up and not spending much time on myself each day, when I looked in the mirror I didn’t like what I saw and I would feel discouraged. So there was no drive to change this because when you look like hell all of the time, you start feeling like it. This little change of taking time to take care of myself has caused my feelings of self worth to blossom! Are you spending time taking care of yourself?