Success Stories

Choosing Your Balance By Stephanie Amend

Founder of Arrowhead Solutions, LLC and whole health specialist – arrowheadsolutionsllc.com
We are always told that once we find “balance” life will magically be full of sparkling rainbows right? But what is balance really and how does it align with our near-term goals?  If you feel like you’re chasing the feeling of balance, but never fully capturing it, you’re not alone. 
As entrepreneurs and leaders, the achievement of balance sometimes can feel like a funny meme – 

The waves seem to crash around you like a hurricane; rather than a confident surfer, we feel like we’re barely keeping our heads above water. How do we end up with chaos when all we’re trying to do is work towards “balance”?  There are a few things at play here:

1) You assume balance is static. It looks a certain way and shall remain that way.

2) You’re working towards someone else’s definition of “balance”.

3) Your balance is not aligned with your near-term goals.

These three things will constantly frustrate you and prevent you from that feeling of balance that is unique to you in this time and place. I actually like to consult people in the feeling of wellness versus balance. Balance is easy to hear since we surrounded by that word. But truly, balance is a feeling of overall wellbeing. Keep this in mind.
How can you, as busy as you are, with all the demands placed on you (and let’s be honest, mainly placed on yourself) truly say you have a feeling of wellbeing?
First, realize it is not a static picture. There are days and times in your life that getting more exercise fills you with wellbeing, or more time with your kids makes you feel great. Other days and times, perhaps working more or traveling more leads you to a feeling of more wellbeing. Depending on the circumstances surrounding all the energy that fills your days, life will tip scales in one direction or another on you. You need adjust the opposite end of these scales to keep things balanced and well. 
Life tugs one way for a bit, you start feeling out of whack, now your job is to recognize that imbalance and experiment with things that work for you in that moment to tip the scales the other way. Perhaps this is as simple as meditating while in the shower or as extreme as quitting your job knowing you’re better off without any weight on the other end of that scale.
Second, you may feel there is a certain universal formula to what balance looks and feels like. I’m sure you can resonate with the vision sold to you – wake up before your kids and meditate, then do some exercise or do yoga, envision your perfect day at work and be fulfilled as you go into your job while be calm and strong, you perform your job using mindfulness, feel present as you come home to your family (since you did some breathwork on your way home), attend to your children with compassion to make them feel cared for, focus on your relationship with your partner to strengthen that bond. Then go to bed with your essential oil diffuser to enter a quiet and undisturbed 8+ hour night of sleep.
Is this real life? For some yes, so I won’t discount it, but for many – absolutely not – it may make you laugh at the ridiculousness of it even.
Define your own sense of balance (i.e. wellbeing). What feels good to you in the real life that you have? Identify small changes you make that can bring a sense of calm and flow to your day.
– Is it truly just waking up 30 minutes earlier to have some quiet time?
– Is it combining exercise with hanging with your children and/or spouse?
– Is it taking an hour on a weekend to plan, then shop for the ingredients for meals for the week?
What works for others may not work for you. You need to experiment to see what small changes you can choose to make you feel that sense of increased wellbeing.

Realizing that defining what balance really means to you leads you to the final key; align your life to achieve balance with your near-term goals.
For example, your near-term goal may be to run a marathon. Instead of “fitting-in” your training and it feeling like a chore and something that is going to throw your life out of balance, take that goal and work around it. If this is truly a goal, then how can you build overall wellbeing around this goal? You may have to sacrifice something, but find something that is worth sacrificing. Is it that second cup of coffee and extra social media scrolling time? Is it that extra hour at work along with working through lunch? These are choices. Your goal is the marathon – the training leading up to that marathon should provide a sense of wellbeing. Enlist others in your life to support the balance that you need to train and focus on that end goal first.
As a final example, if you are starting a new business, it is ok to accept that you feel like burning the candle at both ends, but you shouldn’t feel regret for missing out on the other important aspects of life. You get to choose. You chose to start a new business; you choose how to grow it and you choose how to run it. How you integrate your health, family and friends into the picture is a choice and thus, you get to choose how all those things feel balanced for YOU.

I believe we can create the time to bring wellbeing into your life as long you accept that you can choose what in life is a priority to you. What you choose as priorities will be directly correlated to your near-term goals.
Don’t compare your balanced life to that of your friends. Your life is unique and you have the ability to choose what is most important to you, where you place your time and what you can flex in that time to fully feel “balanced”. Think of “balance” as wellness. An overall feeling of wellness; this is YOUR choice.
At the August 17th The Power of We webinar join panelists: Stephanie Amend, Katharina Papenbrock and Heather Barron to discuss Defining A Balanced Focused Way. Held at noon register free here. 
 
 

Rebirth within the Unknown “When you are ready for a soulful transformation.”

By Jenna Pfingston, Embodied Wisdom Facilitator / Inspirational Speaker / Yoga Teacher
In 2009, I went through an identity crisis. I was working for a Design Firm in Denver and the economy crashed. My life started to crumble within a few layers. I lost my job, I ended a relationship, and I lost a teacher / friend to cancer. Life was chaotic and the fear that resided within me was connected  to the unknown. I was in a heavy and confused space. I decided to purchase a one way plane ticket to South East Asia and embrace the simplicity of life with a backpack.  I had no idea where I was going  but I did know, I needed a rebirth within my soul. The old identity was no longer working and so I jumped ‘in’.

This story was way before my exploration within the Embodied Portal Work but it is so relevant to what I would like to share. Here WE are in 2020 and our world is moving through a Rebirth In the Unknown which unfolds into a rebirth for many souls on a personal level.  We have always been in the unknown on a daily basis but the state of our world within the now has amplified the energy. If we are ready for a new identity, a new role, a soulful rebirth then we need to be open to the vastness of the unknown.  
How can we find excitement, pleasure, curiosity, and stability in the unknown? First, we need to welcome in the uncomfortableness.   

Our world thrives on productivity and speed.  When we are ready to shed our skin within an old identity and embrace a new role the transition can be chaotic and seem very stagnant (non productive). The Embodied Portal Work is inviting us to feel where we are at within the process and to be ok with the pause. The invitation of feeling beyond a story or label is the flow of feminine energy.  Feminine energy flows through men and women.  The vibration of the unknown is feminine energy and feminine energy is non-linear and chaotic by nature. 
Many times in order to have a rebirth of the soul we need to welcome in death and this is not an easy space to be in.  Coming back to productivity and speed our world is obsessed with structure, control, predictability, etc…  The challenge is to let go of society and lineage beliefs within the relationship of control and allow your soul to be curious within the portal of the unknown. 
When we can open up the embodied way of living ~ the unknown is a phase of the journey we’ll meet again and again. An opportunity for creation. An opportunity to expand our wings into a higher truth. 

Consider:

1) Do you feel you are in the unknown right now within a soulful rebirth?  A new identity or role. 
2) Can you recall a story from the past where you felt lost in the unknown; who am I as a woman, as a mother, as a wife, as a lover, as a powerful woman, etc..
3) What were you like in those moments of being in the unknown?
4) What are you feeling today beyond the stories or do you recall the feelings that moved into your body in the past when attached to the unknown?
My travels in 2009 to South East Asia were blessed with many gifts and at times I was in the dark portal of the unknown. I traveled for 7 months and at the end of my journey I embarked on a new identity, a new role. I opened up my yoga studio (jalaBlu Yoga) in Buena Vista, CO and my wings expanded in ways that I could have never imagined.  I’m welcoming myself back into a rebirth as I write this blog (2020) and the Embodied Portal Work is an invitation to welcome it all in. I would love for you to take the dance with me, shall ‘WE’?
Register Free for The Power of WE (Women Entrepreneurs) Forum Series 3 held July 20th at noon.  Featuring  panelists Jenna Pfingston, Sydney Schnurr, and Delaney Keating to discuss the Power of Feminine Leadership. 

About Jenna Pfingston has embraced the exploration of the physical body through yoga and dance most of her life.  Jenna believes that the physical body is the portal to our highest truth if we are open to listen.  Jenna has been devoted to her yoga studies for over 20 years and has owned jalaBlu Yoga in Buena Vista, CO for 10 years. 

Jenna has expanded her profound offerings and is now an Embodied Wisdom Facilitator.  Navigating clients into the ‘feeling’ body so that frozen energy can move into a state of flow.  A high percentage of humans on this planet are living a disembodied life.  The invitation of feeling pleasure, pain, and all of the in-between can bring a higher frequency into the wisdom that resides within.  An opportunity for each soul to awaken into the power of who they are.  Jenna is currently holding sacred space for one on one sessions in person and online, group workshops, retreats, and lectures through various platforms (YouTube
Spotifyitunes, and Insight Timer).

To view previously held WE Forum Series webinars email info@centralsbdc.org

Igniting a Culture of Potential: yours, mine, and ours.

In my work at Startup Colorado, our dedicated team agrees wholeheartedly that our mission is:

  “…to demonstrate that rural entrepreneurship will ignite a culture of potential, empowering people and places to thrive and define their future.”

Notice that our mission is not about just creating jobs or inspiring more business starts, but rather about igniting a culture of potential. These are words that roll off the tongue like poetry and pluck an emotional thread, but what is a culture of potential?

The words alone are historically significant from their Latin origins to their casual use today, with cultura or growing and potentia or power. When paired together, the words become a statement to grow or cultivate the latent or inherent power within an object or lifeform. There are many diverse and varied applications for a culture of potential, from the arts to the sciences (biology, physics, and even quantum physics) and, perhaps two of the most important words to define what it means to be human.   

Aren’t we all the embodiment of potential, exploring various states of expression while reacting to various internal and external factors?

Why do we believe in our children and value their future and opportunities? Why do we love seeing someone overcome adversity against all the odds? Why are we drawn to the notion of finding our purpose or having passions? All of these are examples of how we pursue and get inspired by the expression of human potential. 

Likewise, we remain fascinated by the expression of culture as a series of social contracts (spoken and unspoken) that define the behaviors and attitudes of communities of people that often expand and evolve (or degrade) organically. Similarly, when we pair culture with potentia or power, we create a declaration that potential is inherent to being human and that its expression informs the culture as a whole. 

In simplest terms, a culture of potential is an agreement within a community that our inherent creative and expressive potential as human beings is worthy of cultivating both within individuals and the group itself.

Furthermore, as a culture of potential matures, it will be self-propagating within the community as the cultural behaviors, attitudes, and norms that ignite it will become ingrained.

Through the lens of entrepreneurship, we might state this as: The community desires the intrinsic and extrinsic rewards of entrepreneurship (such as personal freedom and jobs) and agrees that to gain such rewards, sufficient investment in igniting the inherent creative potential of its people and developing their entrepreneurial skills is a core value.

The first order of participating in a culture of potential is to believe in the inherent power of the people who are part and parcel of it. The greatest reward of this work is a new door into diversity, equity and inclusivity because to look at every human as a node of inherent potential in a state of ignition from latency to full spark is the cultivation of our collective ability to see people at their core and most valuable.

Inside Delaney’s talk on July 20, she will go deeper into the culture of potential with easy steps to start practicing this every day as it applies to individuals, groups, and communities.
Register Free for The Power of WE (Women Entrepreneurs) Forum Series 3 held July 20th at noon.  Featuring  panelists Jenna Pfingston, Sydney Schnurr, and Delaney Keating to discuss the Power of Feminine Leadership. 

About Delaney Keating, Managing Director of Startup Colorado

Purpose: Seeing the Possibilities
As a Colorado native and rural resident, Delaney is honored to steward the inherent genius she believes exists because of living farther off the beaten path. Delaney is a seasoned creative, entrepreneur, and change agent.  She successfully owned, operated, and exited her first company and has since been dedicated to fostering ingrained cultural values for art and innovation. As Executive Director of Startup Colorado, her mission is to drive greater coordination within the entrepreneurial ecosystem on behalf of rural entrepreneurs and the communities they call home. She is an unwavering believer in the potential of ideas, the people behind them, and the places they create.

To view previously held WE Forum Series webinars email info@centralsbdc.org

Objects in the Rearview Mirror May Appear Closer than They Are.

When Jamie asked me to be part of this panel my response was that I really only fit half the bill. I am definitely a woman, but I am not an entrepreneur, unless you count creating a program for fast tracking people of color in the philanthropy sector or being a founding member of a Community Foundation. Mostly I am a retired professor and fundraiser.

Having said that, I do believe I can share some of my experiences and hopefully be helpful to you in your current and future endeavors. As singer Meatloaf sings, “objects in the rearview mirror may appear closer than they are.”  My hope is that my experiences (some close and some not so close) will inform your future in some way.

When I was a fairly new graduate of a MA/MBA program in Arts Administration, I was selected to be part of a year-long program for women which was presented by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. Participants were chosen based on who the Chamber believed were candidates for future C-Suites positions. It was a diverse group that mostly included women in the for-profit world, but there were a few of us who worked for nonprofits in the community. 

We were divided into Master Mind Groups of 8 and assigned a coach.  She worked with us throughout the year individually and in a group. We attended a weekend workshop with a horse whisperer who taught us about “leading from behind.”  Speakers covered a wide range of topics including Girlfriendology, Performance Psychology, Power and Influence, Good Management (Coaching), Conflict Resolution, and my personal favorite, Human Auras. We also took a battery of personality tests to help us understand our skill sets.

One of the most useful things we did was create a personal strategic plan, which included the usual components – Situation Analysis, Mission, Vision and Values Statements, Goals, Action Steps and Measurements. If you haven’t done this for yourself, I highly recommend it. It can help you focus on what is really important – and not what you have been told is important.

After that year of self-reflection (who gets to do that in midlife unless forced), of the eight women in my Master Mind Group, only one was still focused on making it to the C-Suite. What we all realized as we did the work of the course was that we were striving for someone else’s goal for us. It was incredibly freeing to let go of that and plan for what we knew was important to us. Some of us had the voice of a parent urging us on. Others had a boss or a teacher whose misplaced encouragement meant that if we didn’t “make it” we would disappoint. In my case, it was someone in my past who told me “you might as well forget about doing it, a woman can’t make it in that field.”  My motivation was to prove him wrong.  Surprise — it turned out I didn’t like the aforementioned “field” after all.

As Glennon Doyle says in her new book UNTAMED, “What we need right now is more women who have detoxed themselves so completely from the world’s expectations that they are full of nothing but themselves.  What we need are women who are full of themselves.”

I would say that the women in my group left WE Lead as better leaders, parents, mentors, and individuals because we had detoxed from the world’s expectations and had found ourselves.

Now almost 15 years later, all of us are still working in some capacity. One is in the C-Suite, as planned. We have made the changes we needed to make, and we are all true to our personal missions. 

In the nonprofit world we have what we call the “double bottom line.” Though we are called nonprofits, that does not mean we are called to lose money every year. We have a fiduciary responsibility to the community we serve to be fiscally responsible and, in that case, a goal of making a profit and putting it back into the mission is key. But the other part of the bottom line is a commitment to that mission. Every decision we make is run through both lenses. 

Certified B Corporations are a new kind of business that balances purpose and profit. They are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. This is a community of leaders, driving a global movement of people using business as a force for good. 

I recently read an article about Patagonia, a certified B Corp, and its reaction to the COVID-19 crisis. They were one of the first to close and will likely be one of the last to reopen fully. They will have to be creative in their pivot because many of their stores are social meeting places. This will not be good for their profits, but it does balance with their core values. As their CEO, Rose Marcario, said in the article“The challenge that we face now is how do we take care of our employees and our community while all of this is happening in a way that is true to our values?”

What if we as women treated our lives like a nonprofit or a B Corp? Instead of making getting to the top our goal – or whatever that little voice is telling us – let’s take some time to detox from what the world says that we want, and create a plan for ourselves that allows us a double bottom line – fiscal responsibility AND being true to our core missions and values.

Take a minute to think about what that would look like if companies took this idea to heart. And even more important, if their shareholders did. The bottom line might be smaller, but workers would have healthcare, childcare, a living wage and our planet would be greener. Who knows, people might pay more for their products if they knew that. It works for Patagonia.

As women entrepreneurs and nonprofits we have the opportunity to model that – in our work and in our lives. If we are truly detoxed from what others expect, we can focus on what we expect from ourselves. I suspect that it might be different from what the world tells us success looks like.

Here more from Sydney at her talk on July 20.
Register Free for The Power of WE (Women Entrepreneurs) Forum Series 3 held July 20th at noon.  Featuring  panelists Jenna Pfingston, Sydney Schnurr, and Delaney Keating to discuss the Power of Feminine Leadership. 

About Sydney Schnurr, CFRE

Sydney recently retired from the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music where she taught in the Graduate Arts Administration Program. 

Prior to that she was Development Director for the Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival and Associate Development Director for the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. She also served as President of the Greater Cincinnati Association of Fundraising Professionals where she helped found New Faces of Fundraising, a program for fast tracking POC in the fundraising profession. Sydney currently serves as a founding board member of the Chaffee County Community Foundation.

To view previously held WE Forum Series webinars email info@centralsbdc.org

Your Core Gift – Your Thread of Light: The Gift You’ve Been Threading All Along

Every once in a while we do something and a little voice inside says, “There, that’s it. That’s why you’re here.” And you get a warm glow in your heart because you know it is true. Do more of that. – Jacob Nordby

Years ago, in the midst of a heart-aching quest to discover and understand my “purpose” (as though it were the Holy Grail that would solve all my problems), I was invited to a work event as a representative for the non-profit I worked for at the time. Bruce E. Anderson, of an organization called “Community Activators,” introduced our room full of folks in helping professions to something called “Core Gift.” The idea of using “strength-based assessment” in our work as counselors, social workers, teachers, etc, was relatively new in the early 2000s. But this took that notion to an even deeper place, giving us an indispensable tool to use in our work as well as with ourselves and our own families.

Mr. Anderson presented his data and research by starting with a poem by William Stafford that contains this line: “There’s a thread you follow. It goes among things that change. But it does not change.” Then he walked us through a process, backed by countless case studies, to show us how to help our clients identify what he called our “Core Gift.” We participated in the process ourselves and by the end of the day I had a purpose statement that resonated with my heart for the first time in my life.

It has morphed and changed as I’ve gotten to know myself more deeply. But the essence of my Core Gift has not changed. He presented the case that whatever your spiritual or psychological background is doesn’t matter – everyone possesses a Core Gift. Now he runs the Core Gift Institute where their motto is “Walking your purposeful path,” and they include this in their About Us section:

One thing we know for certain: understanding and using our gifts is both an old and a new idea. Cultures and faith traditions, many centuries old, used specific methods to identify and use gifts in their members. Now, modern neuroscience and positive psychology have backed up older wisdom traditions by proving that individuals thrive when they are able to find meaning in their lives by knowing and giving their gifts.

Up until this point, my young 29-year old self thought I’d have to go through some mystical process to find my sense of purpose, some sudden enlightenment that would come after years of arduous questing. But here, in this little one-day event, in a process that was engaging, fun, and simple yet thought-provoking, I watched my Core Gift revealed before my eyes in a matter of 90 minutes.

The methodology underpinning the process taught us that we and our clients have many skills, talents, and general gifts that we can give in our work, personal life and community, but that we have only one Core Gift that is our thread weaving through life everywhere we go. He also pointed out that our Core Gift comes from our greatest point of suffering (usually sometime in our young lives).

The Core Gift process is a type of interview. The person discovering their Core Gift is the interviewee and the interviewer writes down her answers verbatim – acting as a sort of witness to her discovery. After the interview is complete, the interviewee cuts up the answer sheet and sorts her answers into piles that feel like they have a theme. Then she goes through the piles to decide which theme speaks to her as being the most important or consistent in her life. The other piles become the how of living her Core Gift.

For example, this is my “Core Gift Statement”: My Core Gift is to BE HOME. I live this through feeling at home in my own skin and modeling this for others; and I serve others by cultivating a safe, inviting, and playful space for them to be at home in themselves and in their lives. Everything I do now – in my career, my relationships, my community – is filtered through this statement that rings very true to my heart. It helps me discern where and how to spend my time, energy, and resources.

What I’ve loved about the Core Gift process is that during the sixteen years that I’ve shared this process with others is that it is so elegantly simple and accessible to all. And when someone really “gets” their Core Gift, it is like being truly seen for the first time. Granted, the statement one comes to in the first session is just a beginning, an invitation to step into noticing how and where one has been threading this Core Gift all along.

So how does this apply to our work as entrepreneurs and as women balancing many roles in our lives? Knowing our Core Gift helps us to cut through the noise of everything calling out for us to fix it or save it or just “make it happen.” The myth of the woman who does it all and still keeps it all together is wiping us out. I feel this thread deeply in the calls I get from women asking for coaching.

Parker Palmer observes in his brilliant book, “Let Your Life Speak”:

“When I give something I do not possess, I give a false and dangerous gift, a gift that looks like love but is, in reality, loveless—a gift given more from my need to prove myself than from the other’s need to be cared for. Yes, we are created in and for community, to be there, in love, for one another. But community cuts both ways: when we reach the limits of our own capacity to love, community means trusting that someone else will be available to the person in need.”

So this is how we save the world (and create successful businesses in the process) – we give our Core Gift consciously and fully and then we make space for others to do the same. That is how we are truly #bettertogether!

The diseases of perfectionism, people-pleasing, and doing it all threaten to lead us into burnout or worse, now more than ever. And we don’t want to deprive others of the ability to give their natural Core Gifts by staying married to false responsibility.

Parker Palmer continues: “One sign that I am violating my own nature in the name of nobility is a condition called burnout. Though usually regarded as the result of trying to give too much, burnout in my experience results from trying to give what I do not possess-the ultimate in giving too little! Burnout is a state of emptiness, to be sure, but it does not result from giving all I have: it merely reveals the nothingness from which I was trying to give in the first place.”

What is mine to give? Knowing what our Core Gift is helps us answer this question day in and day out, and can protect us from burnout because we become clear about what is truly ours to give and what is not ours to give.

For more on the Core Gift process and how you can identify yours, contact me at Heather@Luminous-Life.com and mention this blog or the webinar for a 10% discount. And for more on Purpose check out a podcast I was interviewed on not too long ago all about that here: https://womenwhosarcast.libsyn.com/size/5/?search=heather+barron

To view previously held WE Forum Series webinars email info@centralsbdc.og