When Our Life And Work Asks Us To Step It Up

The thought was so tiny and simple, easily missed or brushed off as insignificant and silly. It randomly appeared one afternoon while I was writing, one of those whispers of the soul that we can neither confirm or deny… *they just are*. Simple truths that shake us to our core and begin to change everything.

“I’m going to keep people from choosing to leave this world.”

I remember the moment it surfaced, because I had to pause. “I’m sorry, what?” was the thought that followed. And, as simple truths do, it simply repeated itself word for word: I’m going to keep people from choosing to leave this world.

I sat with this for awhile. Not wanting to say it out loud.
Because that would make it real… and it’s too terrifying to be real.

But it’s my work and, if I’m honest, I know it.
I’ve known it for some time now.

You see, I have a theory. A theory that burns my insides and tugs at my heart, calling at me every single day. A theory that gives me chills and inspires me with its possibilities… energizes me with my own personal experience. A theory that’s bigger than just working with depression, and reaches for the hands of the lost and broken and beaten down all over the world.

It’s a theory that also scares the shit out of me.

Because it’s not just a big undertaking, it’s enormous. Seemingly impossible and impractical. And the truth is, I have absolutely no idea how to do it right now. I just know that I have to try. With everything in my being I know I have to step it up and figure it out. Maybe it will happen in this lifetime, maybe it’s meant to inspire the work that will finish it generations from now. I don’t know.

I just know it’s time to step it up.

And that’s really what I’m writing to you about today, stepping it up. In service of something greater than you. In service of your calling and purpose in this life. The work you’re here to do.

“I don’t know how to step it up…” she wrote me, “I guess time will tell if I need to or want to.” I’m writing this post for her as much for me.

Because the truth is, I know it’s time to step it up… but it would be so much easier not to. It would be so much easier to just focus on what I’m good at, what I know how to do. To make a decent living doing awesome work with awesome people, and just living life comfortably and freely.

That would be easier than binding myself to a calling that is so beyond me I can’t even begin to comprehend how it’s possible. And that’s the thing with stepping it up in service of callings, we think it’s supposed to be easy and obvious. Sometimes it’s a gentle whisper of the soul that nudges us in a new direction. Into a new way of thinking or being or showing up.

It feels impossible and overwhelming, because we’re often nowhere near the person we need to be in order to bring that vision to life. I’m certainly nowhere near the person I need to be to resolve the kind of depression that makes people choose to leave. To grab for the hands of the lost and broken and give them the tools they need to not only thrive, but contribute in a big, meaningful way.

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This is the point of stepping it up.

We have to actually step. it. up.

Callings don’t find us when we’re perfectly aligned and ready to do the work. That’s not how it goes. Callings find us when we’re close enough to a starting point that we can begin to make sense of the whispers and nudges and signs. When we’ve been through enough life and living and experiencing to see the vision for what it is. To understand all that it has the power to become. And that can be so freaking far from the finish line it’s not even funny.

I’ve watched one of my very best friends bring a vision to life, one painfully confusing and frustrating day at a time. Listening to a call that nudged him into something he didn’t know how to do… leading him to create something truly phenomenal, different, and needed.

He stepped it up.
Even when he didn’t know how.
Even when it was hard and frustrating.
Even when it stretched him in challenging ways.

Stepping it up isn’t easy. It’s terrifying… and I know that all too well. When I first felt the call to “find myself and my passion,” I was terrified. I had no idea how to do that, and it meant leaving behind all that was known and comfortable. Even if I wasn’t happy, it was known. I could do stuck and unhappy with my eyes closed. Stepping it up meant getting honest about what wasn’t working and what needed to change. And it meant diving deep into the unknown to rediscover myself and what I was put here to do with my life.

It was hard, but I don’t regret one single moment of that journey.

Which is why whenever I hear a clear call to move in a new, powerful, terrifying direction, I listen. I heed the call. I take the first tiny actions to uncover its meaning and lean in a little bit more every day. I find the courage and the resilience to venture down it’s path. I step it up, every single day.

The Thing I Hate The Most (Two Things, Actually)

“I hate that I’m at the forefront of my business,” I shared with my mentor the other day. We were talking about the importance of branding yourself as a thought leader when you want to speak and teach and write.

“Really?” He asked, tilting his head with a bit of uncertainty.

“Hate it.”

I also hate signing my own book.

My guy is such a sweetheart, always sharing it with his friends and family and clients. Always pushing it out into the world, to people who need it. And always asking me to sign it for the people he’s gifting it to.

But the truth is, I hate signing my own book.
I usually won’t unless I’m pushed to.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my book.

I’m so very proud of the work that went into creating it. Over three years of writing tips boiled down into a year’s worth of our favorites. Working with my amazing team to get it ready to be published. Growing the following and seeing people order it from all over the world, thanking me for the words inside of it.

And I love my business.

I love writing and sharing and teaching and coaching. I love growing my brand and my audience, impacting more and more people as we go. I love this big body of work I’ve carefully crafted over the last five years. My business is a huge piece of me. It’s my legacy. I’ve poured all of me into it.

I just hate being at the forefront.
Having to sign the book.
Being in the spotlight.

This is something that many service based entrepreneurs struggle with, which is why I’m being honest with you right now. We just want to serve. We want to contribute and create and change the world in our own special way. We want to watch as our work touches the lives of others, as they grow and change and create what they desire. We want to watch it permeate the globe, reaching as far and wide as it’s needed. We love the creation and birthing process.

But the public part? That’s not easy.
And sometimes it even feels hard and yucky.

I get it. I totally do.

And yet here I am in front of you today telling this story.

Here I am, five years in, standing up in front of more and more people. Pushing myself and my little business further and further into the public eye. Building up my name and my brand. Taking on more of the spotlight.

Why?

Because that’s what the work requires of us.

Especially now when the world is starved for connection and transparency and genuine expression.

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There was a point a couple years ago where I fell to my knees and offered myself up to something greater than me. The Universe, God, Spirit, Source. “Use me up and spit me out,” I said. All I’ve ever wanted is to be of service… to contribute and create and help others do the same. To leave the world, and the people I’m blessed to cross paths with, a little better than I found them.

And the direction I’m headed requires me to stand up, with as much presence as I can, and speak my truth. Share my words. Release the things that move through me. Get the word out. Help as many people as I can. Rally as many more as I can.

The work I feel called to do in the coming years is big. It’s not going to be easy, and it’s going to be met with a lot of resistance and obstacles along the way.

It requires me to stand firmly at the forefront.
Loud and proud and there for the whole world to see.

I don’t like it one bit. But it’s part of the work, and so I do it.
And I’m grateful, despite my discomfort, for every opportunity to show up.

Whatever your work is in the world, big or small, it’s going to require you to step out into the world and say, “hey, I’m here and I’m doing this thing.” It requires you to show up as fully as possible. To connect with truth and transparency. To share yourself and your story, to whatever degree feels good.

So shine that beautiful light bright my friend.
The world needs you, whether you want them looking or not.

What Would You Have Me Say?

“What would you have me say,” I whisper with intention and a bit of frustration (inspired by A Course in Miracles). I’m watching the cursor blink on the stark white page of my writing software. It’s painfully empty, taunting me with all its space. Tormenting me with its desire to be filled with words I don’t have.

I close my eyes, taking a deep breath to settle into the stillness. “Tell me,” I query to the empty space within, “what would you have me say?”

People often tell me I’m a very prolific writer. Which sounds super fancy with such a pretty word – prolific – but really it just means I write a lot. And I do, I write an outrageous amount of words each and every year. On this blog. In my journal. For products and programs and clients. In emails to my friends and family.

New words. New ideas. New posts. New products.
Never seeming to run out of things to share.

The truth is: I produce a lot of words, but I don’t consider myself a prolific writer.

I’m simply an open, devout, intentional receiver.

I show up, consistently, and let the words flow through me.

Lots of people ask me how I write so much. Usually they’re looking for some kind of tool or trick or technique. Some formula they can follow to hit so many words each day, with goals of driving traffic to their website or creating programs.

When I started this blog five years ago, that was my focus too. I wanted readers and subscribers and eventual clients. So I brainstormed a lot. I wrote compelling headlines that would hopefully make people open my emails. I crafted posts that supported the headline and had a clear call to action. I modeled what marketers were doing or recommending. I was strategic in everything I did.

I forced the words to come through.
I pushed and crafted and willed them into being.

And you know what?
They were perfectly fine words.

They helped people. They grew my email list. They brought me my first clients and opportunities online. They laid the foundation for an enormous body of work that I’m proud to have crafted over the years.

But they didn’t connect with people the way I connect today. They didn’t move people as deeply as my words do today. They didn’t tell a story. They didn’t touch on the heart of the matter in a way that people could exhale into, in a way that made others feel less alone.

And that’s the point, isn’t it?
For all of us to feel a little less alone?

We think we’re buying solutions to specific external problems. Our finances. Our businesses. Our relationships. But we’re really after a feeling or an experience… and usually those feelings and experiences boil down to simple desires we all share: to belong, to connect, to contribute, and to live a life we’re proud of and inspired by. That’s really it.

More importantly, we’re all intrinsically connected. Which is why we value depth and truth and connection, especially from the people we give money to help us create what we desire.

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So my advice to you if you want to write or create or share more prolifically and write with more impact, touching the hearts of those who come across your message, it’s not about churning out… it’s about tuning in, opening wide, and receiving.

Which is what I do when I tune in and ask, “what would you have me say?” I don’t force. I don’t strategize. I don’t will the words into being. I create the space for them to flow from a place that is far wiser, more inspiring, and more on point than I could ever be alone.

It’s called channeling. It’s not woo woo… It’s simply tuning in and allowing that wiser part of you – that wiser energy in this world – to say what needs to be said.

Sometimes it takes several minutes.
Sometimes it takes an hour.
Sometimes it takes days.
But the words eventually come.

Lastly, here’s a truth I need to be reminded of from time to time that may also serve you well in these moments: I’m not in charge of the message.

I let it flow and I set it free (with some proofing and spellchecking), and trust that it will land exactly as and where it needs to. It always does. :)

Permission to Be Unreasonable

“I don’t know when to trust myself and how to know if I’m being unreasonable,” she wrote to me. “On being ‘unreasonable,’” I replied, “who cares?”

I remember when I was in a relationship that wasn’t making me happy several years back. It just always felt like something was missing, and no matter how I tried to broach the conversation, I was met with a response that felt like I was being told, “this is just the way relationships are.” I shouldn’t be upset, because he was a good guy. He didn’t hit me. He didn’t cheat on me.

For crying out loud, what more could I possibly want?

Well… a lot actually.

I craved depth of connection, someone who was willing to dive deep into our hearts, souls, hopes, and fears. Who wasn’t afraid of my passion and intensity, someone who wouldn’t make me feel like “too much.” I craved passion and spark and overwhelming love. Someone who made me feel things in my heart I’d never felt before. I craved real presence, someone who would really show up for me and us and our life together. Someone who let me know I was adored, who would care for me and keep me safe, emotionally and physically.

For a long while, I allowed others to make me feel wrong for what I desired. I let myself believe what I wanted was only possible in movies and books, because they “weren’t real.” I tried to convince myself that I was just being ridiculous and asking for things that didn’t exist. I tried to settle in and accept that what I had was “good enough.” I practiced insane levels of gratitude and presence… but it just never took. I could never settle in fully. I could never feel true happiness.

Finally, one day, I got pissed off.

I remember during another one of our spats, finally saying, “I don’t care if it’s not possible in this life, I would rather end up a spinster cat lady than to settle for less than I desire and deserve. I would rather end up alone. And I don’t need to be in a relationship just to be in one.”

Needless to say, we didn’t last.

I can tell you absolute certainty that the only way I was able to find and attract my amazing man, a true partner who meets me on all levels, has everything to do with me being totally “unreasonable” when it came to love. It has everything to do with the fact that I refused to settle in the ways many others choose to. In life, love, friendships, my work. I refused to settle for less than I desire and deserve.

Sometimes that made me feel like I was being a selfish jerk, because honestly, I wasn’t used to taking a stand for what I wanted. I was used to others telling me how things should be, and trying to bend and fold and fit myself to what they wanted to make them happy. Mostly, that made other people frustrated, because they didn’t understand, or because I triggered them around where they had chosen to settle for something or someone that’s less than they desired and deserved.

When it comes to what we “deserve,” that word can be triggering in and of itself. It comes with a sense of entitlement that can stir up a lot of our “who do I think I am to…” fear and self-doubt.

First, I don’t care who you are or what your story is, you deserve nothing less than what your heart and soul desire. You deserve love and joy and passion. You deserve to be fulfilled in every area of your life. To be nurtured and cared for and deeply supported. No one is more or less deserving than anyone else.

Second, no one has the right to tell you that you’re being unreasonable. While a lot of people are doing things to improve their lives – saving money, working out, eating healthy, and maybe even doing some spiritual or personal development and growth work – very few people have the tenacity to really, truly do the work and go after what they desire and deserve. Especially when it’s unclear if what they want is even possible. These people love to cut your dreams and desires down into more “manageable pieces,” because they don’t want to face the fact that they’re settling in their own life, and it’s easier to bring you down than to rise up themselves.

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The ones who choose to do the work… the ones who refuse to accept the “standard” or “expected” or “good enough” in any aspect of their life… the ones who refuse to ignore the tiny whispers of their soul, crying out for more or better or deeper or truer… they end up with nothing short of extraordinary. In life. In partnership. In work and finances. In living life to the fullest.

My life isn’t perfect. My man and I are far from graceful inside our love. My business has a lot of room to grow and align. I have so much to learn. So many more mistakes and missteps to make. But am I happier and more in love and more fulfilled than I’ve ever been. Than I’ve ever known others around me to be. And no matter what, I will continue to be outrageously unreasonable and unwavering in what I demand from this life and the people who share it with me.

Because we deserve it.

And the last thing any of us want to do is leave this life with regret or wonder that if we had just trusted ourselves a little more, ignored the naysayers, and followed our hearts… Could life have been unbelievably magical and fulfilling?

Building Trust Through Transparency

“I love your transparency,” she said as she laughed along with me at the absurdity of the technical glitches I’d encountered trying to run my first group Acupressure session. It was pretty funny actually… considering that at one point, I was carefully sliding my hand off camera to grab my purse and fish out my credit card as I watched the “your trial meeting is about to end” timer count down.

I have to admit, I played it super cool. Like, no one had any idea that we were 34 seconds away from being completely disconnected before I was able to get the website to finally register my payment, all while I was leading people through some deeply focused energy work. High fives all around, right?

While I may have played it super cool during the whole ridiculousness, I didn’t act like nothing happened. I also didn’t lose my cool and flip out on the service provider. I laughed, a bunch. Ate some ice cream. Then told everyone about it so they could laugh with me. Because, seriously, how does that happen?

I’m nothing if not real with my clients.

Because it’s important everyone remembers I’m human.

Which means, I’m going to let you down. I’m going to mess up, spectacularly at times. I’m going to fall short or miss the mark completely every now and then. I’m going to forget. I’m going to get taken out at the knees by life and knocked around a bit. And, apparently, I’m also going to miss whatever ridiculously small print informed me that my account was a trial account, and I’m going to nearly get dropped in the middle of a live group session as I fumble around for my credit card.

I’m human, which by definition means I’m imperfect.

To be clear, I don’t say this to give myself a pass for letting people down. I strive to always deliver on time and above expectations. I strive to have my programs run seamlessly and without hiccups. I believe in keeping my word and giving my best. But I’ll still mess up, and I’m not afraid to admit that to the people who pay me money to tell them how to run a successful business.

Because, guess what?
Turns out they’re human too.

And acting like I have everything together 100% of the time is only going to stress me out, and set an impossible standard for them… one they’re never going to be able to reach. Because it’s not possible to be perfect all the time.

I’ve worked behind the scenes with hundreds of clients over the years. Big name clients with flashy websites and enormous mailing lists. I’ve built their membership sites and sales pages and walked through their launches with them.

I’m sorry to say that about 90% of those people straight up lost their shit over the tiniest, most insignificant details being out of place. When the technology failed, as it does, they turned into these awful launchzillas with nary a kind word in sight… only to go and put on a happy, shiny, “everything is so amazingly wonderful all the time in my world” front to their audience.

No, no, no.
I refuse to do that.

When I first started out, I bought into the idea that I was supposed to be perfect all the time. It was stressful, and I felt like I couldn’t really show up fully as myself. I couldn’t teach certain things until I was far through or beyond them, because god forbid my list know that sometimes I struggle too.

I’m sure that some people don’t hire me because of this… and that’s okay. They’re not ready to admit that perfection isn’t attainable, and that it’s okay to be human, inside and out of our businesses.

But the ones who do?

They love it, and they tell me all the time. They appreciate that I’m real and transparent. They stood by my side when my whole world flipped upside down after grief broke me clean in two. When I couldn’t be anything close to perfect, because I was too deeply shattered to function how I did before.

Mostly, they’re relieved to know they’re not alone.

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Being imperfect doesn’t mean you don’t know your stuff. I’m damn good at what I do, despite the missteps and spectacular failures. I deliver results, despite the tech glitches and absurd hiccups along the way. And most importantly, I always do my absolute best in any given moment. That’s all that matters.

Stop striving for perfection… whether it’s in your relationships, your business, or some other area of your life. Embrace the imperfections and the quirks. Laugh at the failures as they explode brilliantly around you. Shed a tear if you must, but keep breathing through the disappointments and frustrations. And if you really want to be of service to others… be honest and transparent about what it really means to do the work you do, have the life you have, and be in the amazing relationship you’re in. I promise you’ll build a stronger audience that trusts you deeply.

Not only did Stephenie help pinpoint my passions, but she also helped me get started on creating my business. I now know what my passions and purpose are in life and am excited to continue on this path. I have the clarity I so desired before I started this journey. I feel free because I have a deeper sense of self and purpose.

— Adlin Cedeno