So many times in my life I’ve come to battle with that voice in my head that tells me I’m not good enough. A lot of us have our own versions of the voice. Some name it. They call it “Ego.” Or “Fear.” Some call it “The Doubter.” or “The Saboteur.” Mine is just a part of me. Throughout my life it’s been my most constant companion. It’s not soft spoken. It won’t be ignored. And yet, somehow, I’ve managed to co-exist with it and still succeed. I wish I could tell you how. Or write a formula for the key.
Maybe part of the reason for my ability to live with this negative companion and still ‘succeed’ is because of my definition of success. Am I a millionaire? Absolutely not. Do I want to be? Of course. I still expect to be. But I’m not there. Not even close. I don’t measure my success by money. I measure it by the fact that I am doing what I think I was put here on earth to do. I feel as though I am fulfilling my purpose. I have something to give the world, a talent that I am meant to share, a way of getting to the heart of the matter and helping others access that place, too. I set out at fourteen to write for Harlequin Books. I signed my first contract with them in 1992. I am still under contract with them. My heart tells me I am a success.
I’ve been patted on the head. I’ve been called woo woo. I’ve watched people shake their heads at me. I’ve been constantly reminded that I am not at the place I need to be. Numbers aren’t as good as some want. Money isn’t as good as some want. There’s always something that isn’t good enough. Yet I continue to feel as though I am right where I need to be, doing what I need to be doing. I feel. And there is my key. I don’t judge myself by my head. I don’t let the voices, inside me and those that come at me from the outside, define me. Oh, they have an effect. They drag me down. They let me experience despair. And, in the end, they strengthen me as I develop the muscle to disregard them enough to continue doing what I do.
I pay my bills. And if my writing didn’t pay my bills, I’d do something else that would, and still write. Because while paying the bills is necessary, it isn’t my purpose. It is only a means that allows my physical existence to do what it is meant to do. To write the books that touch people’s lives.
As I raised my daughter the one message I tried to get across to her more than any other was that in all things, she need only listen to her heart and she would be okay. I wanted her to consider my advice on matters, but then listen to her own heart and make her decisions. Over and over I would tell her to listen to her heart. To trust her heart. I don’t agree with all of her choices, but I support her completely, because I believe she acts from her heart. I would have it no other way.
Our hearts define us. They are our uniqueness in a crowded world. They contain our essence. Our purpose. Our individualness. (I know that’s not a word, but it conveys what I want to say.) The heart contains the still small voice. The one that will lead and guide us on this very complicated journey called life. Your heart is the one thing you can trust in the midst of the cacophony coming at you all day every day in so many ways from so many sources, known and unknown.
I once had someone tell me that I was too much about heart. That I needed to get into my head or the world was always going to run me over. I believed that for a while. But over time, I knew that I’d had it right before. That I needed to come from my heart. And today, completely without my seeking it out or knowing that I needed uplifting, I was presented with support. From someone who doesn’t even know I exist. Because that is how the universe works. When we live from our hearts, we all help each other. We don’t have to know who or when or how. We don’t even have to know what. The heart is what joins us all. It is what knows. We just need to have the faith to listen. And then to act. Trusting that if we live true to ourselves, we are fulfilling our purpose.
I leave you with a quote from Jim Carrey, given this past spring at a commencement address: “Everything you gain in life will rot and fall apart. All that will be left is what’s in your heart.” Thank you, Mr. Carrey.