This post is written in honor and support of two new books out this week, authored by women who are way-showers on the path of the road less traveled.
FINDING MY WHITE HOT TRUTH + THE SOURCE OF MY FEMININE GENIUS
How long have you spent chasing your surface desires, only to get them and then discover—nope, that wasn’t it? Shit, I just wasted years of my life trying to get something; then I got it and discovered I didn’t even want it.
And how much energy have you wasted on avoiding situations, people, and places—based on your preferences, judgments, or jealousy?
And meanwhile, through it all, you missed out on the far deeper (and often much quieter) call of your heart, which was hidden beneath all the noise.
I keep getting reminded that what I seem to want (or don’t want) is often a smokescreen between me and what I really want. A barrier to entry.
Through trial and error, I have learned that if I can make it past my surface desires (or aversions), what I end up with is almost always so much better than what my limited mind could have conjured up for me.
Here’s an example to show you what I mean, so maybe you can see it in your own life:
The other day, Facebook reminded me that four years ago, this issue of Business Heroine magazine was published with my picture on the cover.
This image was the result of a photo shoot that I did NOT want to do. I was sure of it.
I had paid a couple thousand dollars for the photo shoot back when Christina Morassi, a phenomenal photographer who is now no longer shooting and instead supporting women CEOs to lead through pleasure, ran a special at the end of 2010.
At the time I booked the shoot, I was still earning money: lots of it. And though I was up to my ears in nearly $400,000 of debt, I was keeping up with the payments and wasn’t for a moment imagining I would do anything but continue to work as hard as I always had and get the same results I always did.
Shortly after I paid for the shoot, my life turned upside down as I began to discover that the identity of “Alexis Martin Neely” was no longer the truth of who I was. But I didn’t know who or what I was, yet. I mean, I had a sense that something inside me was changing, but that something still didn’t have a name or an identity of any kind.
Christina contacted me early in 2011, a few months into what I now see was an upleveling of my consciousness that would shift me from completely head-based decision-making into a strong connection between my head and heart. Shesaid, “It’s now or never for those photos you paid for because I won’t be doing shoots anymore after the summer.”
By then, it was obvious that I was not going to be able to hold it all together through this transformation. My way of being in the world was changing radically and I didn’t understand what any of it meant. I was lost.
It was a very confusing time. I was the goo that the caterpillar becomes before emerging as a butterfly. Imaginal cells with no form or substance.
It had become clear that I would not be able to continue to work in the way I had before. I didn’t even know what I believed anymore. Everything I had learned in the past about sales and marketing was beginning to seem ugly and manipulative, but I didn’t yet know what to replace it with.
I also knew that I would not be able to continue to maintain the business models I had created, and the nearly $2 million a year in revenue that came along with them. I would not be able to keep maintaining my home, two businesses, plus a community at the farm, and pay back all the debt I had taken on years earlier when making money was the main focus of my life .
I was confused and highly emotional. I cried daily. I was plagued by fear and full of internal conflict.
I was transitioning out of a major relationship and had begun to realize that I had backed myself into a corner that would require me to move from my 3,800-square-foot house on a lake near Boulder into a tiny two-bedroom house on a farm I had bought, but never intended to live in.
And, I was probably going to file bankruptcy. I was flat out terrified.
I can see now what I didn’t know then: I was shifting from one level of consciousness to another (from orange to green, for those of you who know the Graves Model of spiral dynamics, popularized by Don Beck and Ken Wilber), but at the time it was happening, I just thought I was going crazy.
(For a big-picture overview on the stages of development, levels of consciousness, and spiral dynamics, read this article by my friend Eivind Figenschau Skjellum—it is the simplest, most direct summary I could find.)
My mind could not wrap itself around what was happening. What was wrong with me? Where was I going? How could I continue to support my family if I wasn’t willing to do any marketing or sell anything (at least, not until I could figure out a way of marketing and selling that was aligned with my emerging values and the new me)?
Bottom line: I did not want to do the photo shoot.
Besides, I had nothing to wear.
Christina convinced me that it was the perfect time. She said that the photo shoot would help me to see the me who was emerging from the chaos, the new and improved version that I didn’t yet know. The shoot would bring me the clarity I desperately needed.
So I agreed to do it. Something in my heart and soul said, Just go. You can trust Christina—it will all work out.
I scheduled the shoot for June 2011, which was right around the time I would need to move out of my house and onto the farm, which I was terrified to do.
But it was also the time of the Lightning in a Bottle festival, which I already had tickets to attend and would be road-tripping to with my kids for their summer break.
June came, I piled the kids into the RV, and off to California we went. I still had no clothes for the shoot and was pinching pennies with just enough for our road trip.
It was the first time in my adult life that I was learning to live on cash, without credit cards to fall back on if there was something I really wanted or needed.
Leaving Colorado that summer, I was terrified. And also exhilarated.
And I still really didn’t want to do the shoot. (Have I already mentioned that?)
But once we got to Lightning in a Bottle, magic began to happen.
I saw the most gorgeous dress I had ever seen outside one of the vendor booths. Each time I walked by it, I longed to put it on. I began visualizing myself wearing it for the shoot. But it was $3,500, and I didn’t have the money. In the past, if I had wanted it badly enough, I would have put it on a credit card. That was a luxury that was no longer available to me.
I also knew I was meant to wear that dress for my shoot.
After considering the possibilities each time I walked by the booth, I went in and asked to meet the designer, Sefirah Fierce. I got up the courage to ask her if I could take the dress home with me, wear it in my shoot, and send it back to her—all in exchange for the finished photos..
She agreed! I was giddy. I didn’t have to manipulate, persuade, convince, or push to have what I wanted. Instead, I could be vulnerable and just ask.
This created a huge new possibility.
For the first time in my life, I began to discover that maybe, just maybe, I could live into a reality in which, even if I wasn’t a sales and marketing genius, and even if I didn’t have lots of money or credit available, I could still create exactly what I desired.
Maybe this whole idea that I had to have lots of money and drive hard toward my goals to get my needs met wasn’t actually true. Maybe it was just my own limiting belief that required me to work so hard to have what I wanted.
Maybe life could be easier than I had been willing or able to see.
Maybe what I had previously believed wasn’t true..
Maybe my mind didn’t have all the answers.
And, maybe I didn’t need to buy clothes for a photo shoot, anyway. Here’s another photo from the shoot, and ask you can see, no clothes required. ?
Had I followed the direction of my mind through this entire process, I would never have done the photo shoot. And I certainly wouldn’t have asked to borrow the dress for it.
And the magazine cover, which didn’t happen until two years later, would not have been the same.
Fortunately, even though I was only at the very beginning of learning how to listen, I was able to hear a deeper call than the “NOOOOOO!” of my mind. I began to discover the magic of listening to my heart.
And, today, again, I am reminded that when I make decisions from my preferences and desires around what I “think” I want (or don’t want), I am often led astray.
It’s taken me a long time to learn.
But it’s been confirmed consistently, when I follow my heart and soul—what LiYana Silver calls the source of my Feminine Genius and Danielle LaPorte refers to as my White Hot Truth— and show up fully as the woman I choose to be in each moment, magic ensues.
I find myself with exactly what I didn’t even know I wanted (and oftentimes was so certain I didn’t), and it’s always far better than what my mind would’ve tricked me into believing, if I had ended up listening only to it.
If you’d like inspiration to start discovering what else life holds for you, read Liyana’s book Feminine Genius: The Provocative Path to Waking Up and Turning On the Wisdom of Being a Woman and Danielle’s White Hot Truth: Clarity for Keeping it Real on Your Spiritual Path from One Seeker to Another and put the discovery process into practice.
Be willing to listen more deeply than what your mind has to say about what you should and shouldn’t do. And see if you can hear the much more quiet voice that may lead you to thinking you are crazy, but ultimately will guide you to a life truly worth living.
Side note: I wrote this post as much as a reminder for you as I did as a reminder for me. It’s easy for me to forget my own truth, and slip back into patterns of dis-ease, despair, and disbelief about what’s possible. When that happens, I get discouraged about life, find myself focusing almost entirely on how I can make money, and I lose sight of my vision and dreams. I can feel myself slipping back into old patterns of that, and writing and re-reading this post and listening to podcasts Danielle and LiYana are offering now during the launch of their books is helping me find my way back.
I would love to hear your story of listening beyond the mind and where it led you because it will inspire others to hear it. Please share here in the comments.