May 3, 2014
Categories: Family, Self

In front of our house in San Cristobal de Las Casas

To say that this book writing process has challenged and expanded me would be understatement. Thrown me in a rapid stream of consciousness full of hidden obstructions and undercurrents without so much as a pool noodle is more like it.

Slow-going as the journey has been, it’s not been for lack of effort. I’m invested and determined as ever — it’s just that I’m ALSO allowing space for the fullness of life and (plentiful) lessons being offered.

One of these lessons strikes me as valuable and important enough to break from my blogging break and explore (truth is, I’ve been looking for an excuse anyway). It started with this thought:

Success is a hugely confused concept within our culture. 

And here’s where that’s taken me:

From the time we are young, we’re taught that success is the reward of earnest effort, lucky breaks, practice practice practice and the ability to outwork those around us. We’re encouraged to reach for success somewhere in the future; to set goals and anticipate greatness.

And while I recognize these attributes to be a part of what it means to “be successful,” it seems we’re missing something kind of huge with this purely achievement-based definition. Success also includes present-minded awareness; an attentiveness to and acceptance of the goodness we’re currently living

Looking back on our experiences, success often looks nothing like we thought it would. We expect fireworks!, grand rewards and a deep sense of completion. We’re disappointed when we don’t “get there,” and almost immediately seek the next challenge once our end goal is met.

I’m beginning to think that our job as heart-led humans is not to seek success, but to examine the stories we’ve been told about it (and about ourselves in relation to it) and tune in to the ways we’re already accomplished.

By defining success for ourselves, we connect with its potential as an ever-present gift. Until then, it remains an elusive treasure; a thing we hope for but never fully enjoy.

For me, redefining success has everything to do with deciphering my ego from my truer self.

My ego would have me believe I am “behind” on this book. It encourages choices based on what people might think, a longing to be published already!! and an insatiable lust for the feeling of completion. When I’m able to quiet that voice and listen instead with my heart — my truer self — I recognize that I am actually not behind at all, but that these past few months have been deliciously fruitful and I, quite successful.

Anytime we allow someone else to define our success for us (including our own egos) we are also allowing them to define our worth.

When, on the other hand, we lead with our hearts, checking our actions with our inner wisdom, we can begin to see success as inherent to being human and available to us all at the shift of a perspective.

Consider the seasons of your life when you’ve not been particularly successful by conventional measure:

While home with your babies,

While healing physical or emotional wounds, 

While uncertain and searching for answers,

While braving a major transition,

While laying foundation for the growth of a dream,

While putting one foot in front of the other when doing so was almost more than you had in you. 

None of these seasons equates to “successful” by societal standards. We invest in them anyway because deep down, we KNOW them to be worthy, which means that they are as much a part of our success story as the end reward we think we’re waiting for. 

Frustration, self-doubt and a sense of failure are often the byproducts of subscribing to someone else’s definitions. Doing so leaves us feeling disempowered because our truest SELF is not being honored.

By MY definition:

I am successful every time I tune in to abundance.

I am successful every time I make a connection, whether with one of my daughters, my muse or the taco guy down the street.

I am successful every time I choose compassion over efficiency, truth over assumptions and curiosity over judgement.

I am successful when I live at a speed dictated by the stillness of my heart and not the busyness of my mind.

I am successful when I continue in the direction of my dreams, even when they make no sense to anyone but me.

In this light, feeling successful does not require accomplishment so much as acknowledgment. It often means DOING LESS in order that I might be more perceptive to the success I’m already living.

Your version of success is for YOU to define. 

A beautiful bonus of this shift in thinking is that celebrating our present-moment successes doesn’t just enhance our present moment, it also cues The Greater Good to send more of the same.

“As soon as you start to feel differently about what you already have, you will start to attract more of the good things, more of the things you can be grateful for.” — Joe Vitale

“A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.” — Gandhi

“Making a dream into reality begins with what you have, not with what you are waiting on.” ― T.F. Hodge

And so, in the spirit of gratitude, celebration and clearing space for what’s to come, here are a few recent successes I proudly recognize:

1. The strengths and capabilities of my daughters are becoming obvious, and years of investment are paying off in wonderful ways…

My girls, making dinner.

2. Three of my favorite friends ever recently came to visit (one at a time). I’m still glowing from the fullness of connection…

3. Hunter and I continue to examine our relationship and move through the difficult parts, instead of skirting around them…

4. I’m learning what it is to love deeply, give plentifully and respond with compassion while both holding boundaries AND remaining flexible (talk about success without completion!)…

5. I’m balancing the needs of many ages and still managing to increase my sense of self…

6. I decided not to work during their two-week spring break and instead bus it to San Cristobal (best decision ever)…

7. I slow down for every wonder I can — like this fungus I found growing in the gravel of our yard. It popped up over night, smelled of death, seduced dozens of flies, then died within 24 hours…

8. I’m spending as much time as I can with dear friends whom I’ll soon be missing very much…

Valeria and Franco.jpg

9. I stopped blaming my heart palpitations, fatigue, sleeplessness and brain fog on parasites and hauled my skinner-than-usual self back to a doctor. Turns out, I have hyperthyroidism, which I’m now taking meds for until I get moved and have more access to holistic treatments. (Wow, what a trip THIS has been. Would love to hear from those of you with experience)…

success 14.jpg

10. But perhaps my greatest present-moment success is learning to make peace with the going and coming and going again of my firstborn. They leave holes in you, did you know that? Deep friendship, self-love and trust in that Greater Good are my soul salves of choice…

success 15.jpg

Though the lesson is simple, its implications are pretty profound:

We feel successful based not on what we accomplish, but whether our hearts are fully engaged along the journey. 

None of this is to say that I don’t look forward to the sense of accomplishment I will feel when I finally finish this book (because I most certainly do), just that there’s no less to be proud of or celebrated right now.

Love and gratitude,

bethsignature

 

 

 

“Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.” – David Frost

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34 Comments

  1. love this, beauty. I’ve had many conversations with friends (and myself) about success and how it’s defined by our society, which is so black and white. we are all successful every day; acknowledging that, no matter how big or small, can only enrich our soul… thank you for so eloquently putting into words what I think about this subject. it’s comforting that we think so much alike as we live our own lives. self-awareness is self-awareness no matter what your every day looks like… i love your blog and appreciate you listening to your heart to write this one. adore you, beth. XO

    Reply

    • Dear Luisa, I truly hope we meet again one day. I, too, feel a strong pull to your big spirit and lovely heart. Your encouragement and connection mean a ton. THANK YOU. <3

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  2. I have known it, as you describe it- and lost the knowledge. My lack of ability to embrace success in the present does not change the truth- thank goodness, thank God.

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  3. Yes, yes, and yes. Thank you for taking a break from your blog break to send this out. Every time I rally myself to be more driven and pointed (the physicality!) towards my idea of success, I end up exhausted and deeply unhappy. The moment I sit back (physical, again) and stop striving, everything, even the awkwardness, works. Thanks for the reminder.

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    • Amanda, me too!! It’s truly amazing how different life feels when you’re in verses resisting the flow. I so appreciate you reaching out.

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  4. Beth, thanks for being and inspiration to us all, love you and your girls, was great to see you even for a bit. Much love to your family

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    • Thank you Kristina! It was really lovely to see you and yours, too. All the best and lots of love your way…

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  5. All we want to be, we already are. We just have slow down, reflect, and realize it. That’s the hard part. Thanks for the encouraging words. They are always like a drizzle of honey on the bowl of fruit and yogurt. Delicious, yet missed when it isn’t there.

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    • That you compared me to honey on a fruit bowl totally made my day! Much love to you Kelly. Can’t wait to swap stateside stories and Mexi-tales alike!

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  6. Thank you so much for your thoughts, Beth! I am looking forward to reading your book!

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  7. “Frustration, self-doubt and a sense of failure are often the byproducts of subscribing to someone else’s definitions. Doing so leaves us feeling disempowered because our truest SELF is not being honored.”

    Thank you. I’m literally crying. I was just feeling like a failure today. Knowing I needed to let it all go and just be. But struggling. Struggling to just sink into it all. Realizing that I spent too much of my life trying to be liked by others and ignoring my amazing self. This is what I have stopped my quest of success to work on. Abundance. Isn’t it an amazing thing?

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    • Nancy, your message totally warmed my heart. It’s so true about letting go and being ourselves and yet amazingly difficult when nearly everything and everyone around us encourages the complete opposite. I wish you an ever-expanding experience of abundance, including your own unique contribution to it. <3

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  8. This is beautiful. I love the pictures. Miss you guys so much.

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  9. Awesome pics and story, Beth. Thanks for sharing :) I, for one, will be sad when you leave Mexico.

    Regarding the hyperthyroidism- I have a friend who had it and was also plagued by eczema on her eyelids for years. She decided to have food sensitivity testing done by ALCAT (alcat.com) for the eczema, which conventional doctors consider hokey. Anyhoo, long story short, it turns out she was highly sensitive to rice, which had been a major part of her diet. She eliminated it and the eczema went away. Then, as a sort of weird side benefit, she found she could also stop taking her thyroid medication! Might be worth looking into…. good luck!

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    • Thank you Margee. I’ll miss you, too!! I am totally going to look into the ALCAT test. I am quite convinced that my gut health (or lack thereof) has everything to do with what’s been going on. Looking forward to unraveling the mystery. I appreciate it!

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  10. Thank you for sharing

    Beautiful
    With a humble heart I feel your soul expressing itself. You sound like a yogi.
    When we banish of our own little ego’s, our souls can expand in pure love.

    Blessings to you.

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    • Chandi, those are very kind words. Funny, soul expression is exactly why this book has felt so big. I had no idea how many layers of myself it would take me through and force an honest look at. Has been a huge blessing to me. (If a slow one!) THANK YOU. <3

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  11. Love love love that pic of your four girls in the kitchen working!! xoxo

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  12. Yup, had one of these moments tonight. Our usual 2 little boy bedtime chaos, yelling, physicality, insanity. Instead of fighting to achieve bedtime perfection, I just basked in the moment with my family. It really felt better than any award I’ve every received. Love your posts!

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  13. Hi Beth…I just found your website linked over on the Sustainable Suburbia site. I so agree with your definitions of success and actually wrote a blog post myself about it that I titled, “You Don’t Have To Be A Success”. There is such as strong push AND pull in our culture, that we pass on to each other, that says that our worth is tied to our productivity–and if we aren’t puttin’ it out then we have little or no value. You say it in a lovely way. And even though I KNOW it intellectually I sure need to read it and hear about it as much as possible to stay on track. And if I can offer you any advice I would say, “Enjoy the process and each step of putting your book out there.” Because truly, while you will feel satisfaction at it’s completion, and joy for a while, it won’t be long and you’ll start looking at the next project and moving on. Life is like that as I’m sure you know. And as Abe said, “A person is about as happy as they make up their mind to be.” Enjoy the journey! ~Kathy

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  14. Hi Beth,

    I have hyperthyroidism, which is caused by Graves Disease, the autoimmune disease responsible for most hyperthyroidism. In a small percentage of cases, hyperthyroidism comes from other sources, like thyroiditis (sp?) and nodules on the thyroid–but most always (in a large percentage) of cases, it’s b/c of Graves Disease. I went to the message boards on the Graves Disease Foundation’s website when first diagnosed to here about the 3 kinds of treatment, all of which are pretty terrible (thyroidectomy, medicine that is somewhat dangerous, and radioactive iodine). I went with the medicine and took it for 3 or 4 years until I went gluten free and had a wonderful doctor who worked with me and let me stay on the medicine in very small doses for a long time and combined that with my elimination of gluten. I have now been off medicine for 2 years, which they call remission. I don’t know if the gluten free eating had anything to do with it, but I don’t dare risk otherwise to find out. There is also a woman with another message board named Elaine Moore who knows a LOT about the disease, and is more open to other options that are more natural, and that the Graves Disease Foundation is not as open to. They are a great source of info, but tend to stay with the party line–probably because of liability issues. Anyway–it’s good to read up on things. I would have never known what to do without the internet as the first doctor tried to have me drink a nuclear cocktail on day one–and said I’d be on medicine for the rest of my life. Luckily, I did a lot of research and found the path that worked for me and my body and personal situation. I have read lots of different people’s stories, and they took different paths, and found results that worked for them. It does get better–but for me at least, it required a lot of patience. I’m so glad you found out what it was b/c lots of people don’t find out for a long time, and that does a lot of damage to the body. Anyway–hope it’s not Graves Disease and that it’s something that is not long term! But if not, it does get better–but it was such a shock to me–someone who had always been healthy and had considered herself somewhat of a health nut. Ha! I have learned a lot over the last several years. Anyway–check out the websites and find a good doctor. I had a really good one–very open. A lot of them push the radioactive iodine, and that may be what works for you, but it’s good to read all the stories–and this is only if you have Graves Disease. So read up on things, and get a good doctor, and all the best with it all. I’m hoping it’s just one of those passing things. For some it is! Good luck with the writing!

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  15. Wow Beth. . .again I am astonished at the deep insights that God imparts to you. . . I find myself on this hamster wheel often because Im married to a very driven man. . . I fear that this hunger for success is driving our son from us because he feels that he cannot measure up to his dad’s standards. . . I know God has put me here to be the opposing balance to my husbands drive but it’s kind of exhausting. . . I have faith that my son believe’s in himself enough to go with his dreams. . . thank you for reaffirming that we don’t all need to be on that hamster wheel.

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  16. Jenny Kelly

    Hello friend!
    My goodness- such a heart melting compassion in your words! They feel like more than words, they feel like salve or medicine. My ego with its intense fear of failure even nodded her head and said, “wow, she’s got a point.”
    Divine wisdom, all of it. Thank you! Thank you’

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  17. Just stumbled upon this at exactly the right time. Thank you for sharing your insights.

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  18. This is a wonderful post and something we should all print and put on our fridge!

    Success, it seems, is usually understood in doing more and better than others. You feel successful when you « elevate » yourself above others, and compare.

    How about just doing what feels right and important?

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  19. Sweet Beth! Jesse once struggled with hyperthyroidism, but he said he already talked to you about it :) I saw you mentioned your gut health, too, though–so I want to connect you with another dear friend of mine who leads nutritional courses specifically on re-building gut health. I’ll email you her contact info! Looking forward to seeing you soon, I hope!
    btw, the line that got me out of this whole thing was when you talked about Sigorni–”they leave holes in you, did you know that?” Straight to the heart.
    xoxo

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  20. I saw this post on FB and am so glad I clicked on the link!
    Your words really resonated with me. As does your definition of success.

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  21. Hi,

    I NEVER comment, but since I am someone who has been suffering with Hashimoto’s (hypothyroid) for five years (and who is still trying to figure it out) I feel the need to share some resources.

    These are some online video series that I have found, which focus on natural healing: They may or may not be helpful.

    thethyroidsessions.com
    http://thethyroidsummit.com/

    Andrea Beaman is also someone I have bought books from, and found some of her recipes really nice.

    It’s been very confusing because there is no consensus when it comes to the thyroid, so you have to just go through a lot of trial and error to see what works for you.

    I have also found this website helpful for fermented foods, which may improve gut health: http://nourishedkitchen.com/

    If you aren’t gluten-free, I would recommend trying it for a few months to see if anything improves. It’s not a cure, but it may be a factor. For some, it isn’t.

    One more thing, if the doctor didn’t test you for antibodies I would recommend that s/he does to see whether you have Graves disease.

    Oh, and vitamin D. Most people with autoimmune issues have a hard time converting sunlight into usable vit. D and the thyroid can’t function without it.

    I hope you begin to feel better!

    Healing thoughts,
    Jenny

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  22. Oh, goodness, did I need to find you and read your blog today! Who knows when you’ll see this comment, if you are back on blog break. However, I wanted to reach out on a couple of things. I, too, write and have self-published and am never happier than with pen in hand. I, too, struggle with success and so needed to read your wise words TODAY, and I will take inventory of my successes, which, like you and all of us, are many, when seen through the lens of “what it took to get here,” or “what it takes to be here” when we are being mindful, heartful and awake.

    And, I, too, have hyperthyroidism!!! I could talk endlessly about this as it has been a wow of a journey and I have learned a lot. At this point it is super important to regulate the thyroid and get those palpitations and hyper-metabolism symptoms under control. You’ll have time to figure out the holistic stuff later when you are feeling better. I have some things I could share with you privately if you want to continue that conversation.

    I’m just gushing here, with gratitude and relief at your words and your inspiring journey. Thank you so much for taking the time to write and share your journey. Blessings to you and everyone here!
    Phyllis

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  23. …some words just resonate and you find yourself smiling and shaking your head in agreement as you read/hear them. Those words were yours…for me…today. Thanks for this post…and for helping to concisely clean-up some of the thoughts that have been banging around inside my noggin of late. Feels good.

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