Weeding Our Beliefs

Belief

What do you believe?

It’s a big question.

We hold beliefs about everything – the job we’re supposed to be in, how attractive we are, whether we’re good at painting, running, math, or being a leader. Our beliefs affect how we work, learn, love, and live.

I inadvertently began a deep dive into my own beliefs in January during a discussion on spirituality with Andy, a friend (and fellow coach!) I had recently met. I referenced my past Christian upbringing when describing the connection I felt in the world by saying, “I guess that’s what some people would call the Holy Spirit.”

Andy’s response?

“You can call it whatever you want.”

It wasn’t exactly a spiritual awakening – more like a spiritual startling. I had to pause for moment to let it sink in.

He was right. This was my belief. I could call it whatever I wanted.

I continued examining my beliefs in preparation for a panel discussion on generations and faith at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in February, the church where I grew up and worked for many years. During a meeting ahead of the panel, someone mentioned they didn’t understand what it meant to be spiritual and not religious. So I decided to share my perspective during the event.

In front of 200 people.

In the same room where I had been confirmed 23 years earlier.

The irony and impact of the moment hit me about an hour before I went on stage. A million thoughts went through my head. Would people be disappointed in me? Would they look at me like I was crazy when I described spirituality as being in the flow and feeling like I was stepping into the river of the universe?

Maybe. But I did it anyway.

It was a true adult moment. I stood on a stage with a microphone and put a stake in the ground on my beliefs. And I called them what I wanted; what I chose.

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Last Thursday I attended a workshop on creating happiness. The facilitators told us that we are constantly cultivating our beliefs – and it’s our job to weed out the beliefs that no longer serve us.

Think for a moment….

Are you in a job today because of a belief you held at nineteen that no longer applies?

Do you avoid art classes or public speaking or asking someone out on a date because somewhere along the line you believed you weren’t good enough?

How many of your beliefs were given to you by your parents? Your teachers? A former boyfriend, coach, or manager?

Do those beliefs still serve you?

Or is it time to do some weeding?

 

Heather Whelpley is a writer, photographer, and coach that works with clients to create meaningful careers and fulfill their own potential. See her home page to learn more. She is also the host of Destination Soul Shine, a community dedicated to nourishing your soul and making your spirit shine. Like Destination Soul Shine on Facebook or follow us on Instagram @destinationsoulshine for resources to inspire you to live a meaningful, creative life. 

Monday Moment – Embrace

Embrace

Most of what comes up in my coaching with clients falls into one of two categories: Letting Go and Embracing.

Letting go of old beliefs that no longer serve you, releasing fears that hold you back, moving through the difficult emotions of past experiences.

All of this letting go creates the room to fully embrace. Embrace what makes you amazing. Embrace love, creativity, and wonder. Embrace your goals and dreams.

Letting go and embracing opens possibility. Possibility for a new career, a relationship, or a passion project.

What do you need to let go and embrace this week? Take a moment. Breathe. Feel yourself let go. And then actively embrace. #mondaymoment

More on letting go of old beliefs and embracing new ones on a blog post later this week.

Heather Whelpley is a writer, photographer, and coach that works with clients to create meaningful careers and fulfill their own potential. See her home page to learn more. She is also the host of Destination Soul Shine, a community dedicated to nourishing your soul and making your spirit shine. Like Destination Soul Shine on Facebook or follow us on Instagram @destinationsoulshine for resources to inspire you to live a meaningful, healthy, creative life. 

 

Monday Moment – Wonder

Monday Moment - Wonder

I’m excited to share the launch of Destination Soul Shine, a community dedicated to nourishing your soul and making your spirit shine. I will be sharing mindfulness moments, inspiring quotes, and videos with resources to embrace your creativity, have a meaningful career, make an impact, and have overall wellbeing of spirit and soul. Follow Destination Soul Shine on Facebook and Instagram too see all posts.

I will also share the Monday Moment from Destination Soul Shine on this blog. Each week I will share a word to encourage you to take a few minutes to yourself, reflect, and bring greater joy and presence into your life. Today’s Monday Moment is Wonder. It’s easy to miss wonder when we’re running from one thing to the next. Wonder doesn’t take extra time, it just takes noticing. Light reflecting on the grass, a kind act between strangers, the way birds chatter to each other – these can all inspire wonder. Open your eyes and look for wonder today.

 

Heather Whelpley is a writer, photographer, and coach that works with clients to get out of unsatisfying jobs, create meaningful careers and lives, and fulfill their own potential. See her home page to learn more. She is also the host of Destination Soul Shine, a community dedicated to nourishing your soul and making your spirit shine. Like Destination Soul Shine on Facebook or follow us on Instagram @destinationsoulshine for resources to inspire you to live a meaningful, healthy, creative life. 

Walk Boldly Into This Season

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Last week I received an email from my cousin Kelsey with the message, “I think you’ll be blessed for your boldness in the season you’re walking into.” Now that is a set of beautiful words! Blessed. Boldness. Season. Walking into. I’ve shared this sentence with multiple people and each person has derived their own meaning from it, just as I imagine you are now thinking about what it means for you in this season of your life. Here are my thoughts.

Blessed

I equate blessed with gratitude. Living blessed is shifting from a mindset of scarcity to abundance. Choosing to focus on what I have in my life instead of what is missing. Looking for evidence of beauty, belonging, and love. Taking the moments to savor joy, sink into the feeling, and imprint it in my mind. Benedictine monk David Steindl-Rast said “It’s not joy that makes us grateful, but gratitude that makes us joyful.” Create the space for gratitude and you will be blessed.

Boldness

One of my favorite quotes and a life motto is “If you ask me what I came into this world to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.” (Emile Zola). This is my definition of boldness – life out loud. Boldness is not a lack of fear. It is walking forward with the fear. Bringing forth the courage held deep in our hearts to follow what we are called to do.

Season

Green grass and flowers are a long way off in Minnesota, but we have turned the corner on winter. The days are getting longer. There are no subzero temperatures in the extended forecast. As the Earth transitions, so do we. There are seasons of rest and renewal and seasons of flurry and change. I am in a season of learning and growth, which is, inevitably, also a season of vulnerability. Every day I become aware of something I don’t know and skills I need to build. I am constantly reflecting on how I want to show up in the world, the relationships I want to create, and how I will generate impact with my life.

Walking Into

Dr. Michael Bernard Beckworth said on a recent SuperSoul Conversations podcast with Oprah, “Pain pushes until the vision pulls.” Pain can get us started on a new path. Sometimes it drags us kicking and screaming. And then, one day, we see the vision ahead and suddenly we are walking into the vision instead of running away from the pain. We actively move ourselves forward, taking steps into the life we desire.

Lay down your path of gratitude and walk boldly into this season, my friends.

 

Heather Whelpley is a writer, photographer, and coach that works with clients to create meaningful careers and fulfill their own potential. See her home page to learn more. She is also the host of Destination Soul Shine, a community dedicated to nourishing your soul and making your spirit shine. Like Destination Soul Shine on Facebook or follow us on Instagram @destinationsoulshine for resources to inspire you to live a meaningful, healthy, creative life. 

 

Making the time for joy

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Two weeks ago I shared an activity I used to create timelines and tasks from the vision I have for my business. It was a practical tool to achieve concrete goals. But there’s another important goal in my life that I don’t want to put on a timeline – creating space for the activities that are guaranteed to bring me joy.

I’m lucky to have great relationships and a lot of fun in my life. Joy is the next level beyond fun. Joy is all encompassing happiness that seeps into my soul. For me, greater joy means amping up:

  • Live music. In November I saw Har Mar Superstar at the Turf Club. It was amazing. The beats pulsed through my entire body. I danced. I laughed. I turned to my friends in the middle and said, “I’m so happy.” I love how music instantly creates the feeling of community among strangers. I need more of this.
  • Really getting outside. I’m great an organizing outdoorsy activities in the city. Want to go biking to breweries? Walk around Lake of the Isles? Cross-country ski at Theodore Wirth? I’ll plan the route, send out the invite, and show up with bells on. But it’s been years since I went camping or hiked the North Shore. I want to go on a 10-mile hike, build a campfire, and see the Milky Way.
  • Community and real conversation. I have wonderful friends. We have a ton of fun cooking, traveling, and playing games. But I felt like there was a different aspect of community that I was seeking. In December I started attending Intertwine, a community designed to share stories, listen, reflect, and participate in meaningful conversation. It was exactly the gap I’d been looking to fill.
  • Mini-adventures. I tend to think of adventure in grand terms. It usually involves getting on a plane for at least 8 hours. This kind of adventure is really important to me, but it can only happen occasionally. I need that quick hit of energy from exploring new places, activities, and events closer to home. Two summers ago my mom and I took a day trip to Stockholm and Maiden Rock, Wisconsin. We ate quiche in a bakery, shopped in a cute boutique, wandered art galleries, had a great lunch, and sampled cider at Maiden Rock Winery and Cidery. I felt like I had a vacation! And I was gone for a total of 8 hours.

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What will it take to make this happen? First and foremost, I will have to make it a priority to proactively get these activities on the calendar and round up people to join me (because a big part of my joy is the people!). I have already planned an overnight to Duluth in February. Intertwine events are a priority in my schedule. I’ll organize a camping trip once the weather is warmer and I’m keeping my eyes open for live music opportunities. I’m sure I will also have to say no to a few things in order to create room for these joy-filled activities.

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Do you want to create more joy in your life? Consider the following:

  • What activities and environments bring you true joy? Think about moments where you lose track of time and revel in being alive in this world. When your body feels awake and your heart is free. It does not have to be grandiose. It might be playing the guitar, doing art projects with your kids, or biking around the lake.
  • What do you need to eliminate to make room for joy? Perhaps you need to stop participating in that book club that feels more like an obligation than fun. Trade 30 minutes on the elliptical for a dance class. Clear your calendar one weekend in June to make time for a family camping trip.
  • What is your mindset towards joy? Do you allow yourself to let go and experience joy? There’s a certain freedom and release in experiencing joy, but joy is also vulnerable. If you experience fear and hold back when joy creeps into your life, I recommend reading Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly or watching her Ted Talk on vulnerability. She has great ideas and reflections on the topic.

Cheers to creating more joy in 2018!

 

Heather Whelpley is a coach working with people that want to have a meaningful career and live up to their own potential, but feel stuck in their job. See her home page to learn more. She is also the host of Destination Soul Shine, a community dedicated to nourishing your soul and making your spirit shine. Like Destination Soul Shine on Facebook or follow us on Instagram @destinationsoulshine for resources to inspire you to live a meaningful, healthy, creative life. 

A Letter To My Fear

Minneapolis sunrise

This past June was a month of uncertainty for me. I had internally decided to leave my job and become an entrepreneur, but I hadn’t actually pulled the trigger. About 90% of the time I was excited for the possibilities. The other 10% of the time I felt like someone had wrapped a corset around my lungs and pulled the strings tight. I questioned the sanity of my decision to leave my safe, steady job and pursue a path that could lead to failure. After all, I hadn’t actually quit my job. I could still change my mind.

But in my heart I knew that I couldn’t change my mind. I was already on this path. I was moving ahead and fear was just going to be part of the journey.

I remembered reading a letter that Elizabeth Gilbert had written to her fear in Big Magic and I decided to do the same. I had no intention of sharing this publicly, but a colleague suggested that it might help others to manage their fear.

It’s taken me five months to get the courage to share the letter. I feel vulnerable just typing this introduction. But I also believe that vulnerability is the key to growth, so here it is:

Heather – You are becoming the person that you want to be. Stepping fully into yourself. Expressing what you have to offer to the world. You are taking the time to design life on your own terms and release the expectations you have created for yourself or others have impressed upon you over many years. Heather, you are creativity, and when you reach into that creativity and act from your heart without ego, your light is unstoppable.

 And, Heather, you know that stepping into the light can be scary. Light exposes flaws, makes it harder to hide when things go poorly, all eyes on you. But remember when this fear washes over you and you feel vulnerable to the eyes of the world – a life in the light is also warm. It is open, illuminating, and free. It embraces your beauty and also your imperfections knowing that’s what makes you real. You’ve known for a long time that perfection is unattainable – it’s now time to act on that knowledge.

But the most important thing to remember, Heather, is that a life in the light isn’t about you at all. It is the light you give to others that matters. And only by stepping into the light and bathing yourself in its radiance do you have light to give to others. Overflowing radiance. What might be possible with overflowing radiance?

So when the fear creeps in and sucks the breath from your lungs and the energy from your heart, take a deep breath and turn towards the light, towards the possibilities, inward to your creativity and outward in overflowing radiance.

I’ve read this letter countless times since I wrote it in June. Whenever I feel the fear edge in, this letter gives me the pep talk I need to move forward with confidence. The fear doesn’t disappear entirely – and I wouldn’t want it to. A little fear gives me a sense of urgency and pushes me forward – into the light, into my creativity, and outward in overflowing radiance.

 

Heather Whelpley is a writer, photographer, and coach that works with clients to get out of unsatisfying jobs, create meaningful careers and lives, and fulfill their own potential. See her home page to learn more. She is also the host of Destination Soul Shine, a community dedicated to nourishing your soul and making your spirit shine. Like Destination Soul Shine on Facebook or follow us on Instagram @destinationsoulshine for resources to inspire you to live a meaningful, healthy, creative life. 

Belonging to the World

There are times when I feel like I belong nowhere, like I’ll never fit in. And then there are times when I feel like I belong everywhere all at once. When I sense the pulsing thread of humanity connecting me to every person on Earth. Those moments when I know our commonality is more powerful than any difference between us.

An experience from my recent trip to Europe epitomizes this feeling.

While in Bled, Slovenia I went on a tour through the Julian Alps. Our group of 17 consisted of families from Australia and Malta, couples from Malaysia and Britain, female friends from Singapore, our Slovenian guides, and me. We piled into two vans for a full day of hiking, waterfalls, and white-water rafting.

In hour eleven of our twelve-hour tour we shared a round of beer and loaded the vans onto a car train to return to our starting point in Bled.

I was in a van with the family from Malta (two college-aged daughters and their parents) and the couple from Malaysia. While our van chugged along the railroad tracks through the mountains, I started to ask questions about Malta, a place I knew nothing about. Soon one of the daughters was singing an old Maltese folk song about a pastry. It was recommended that I eat this pastry if I visit Malta, but I was warned to be careful how I asked for it because the word for the pastry also meant a certain body part it resembled.

We had a few laughs over that one. And that’s when the riddles, jokes, and one-minute mysteries started.

A few didn’t quite cross the language barrier.

“What has ears, but can’t hear?” one of the girls from Malta asked.

I paused. Nothing came to mind. “I give up. What is it?”

“A pot!”

No hint of recognition from me or the Malaysian couple. “Huh?”

Lesson learned – the Maltese word for the handles on a pot also means “ears.”

But most of them translated impeccably well. I had even told some to my students in the US when I taught environmental education years ago.

“What goes around the world but stays in a corner?” – A postage stamp!

“What has a head and a tail, but no body?” – A coin!

“You’re lost in the woods and you come upon a cabin with a candle, dry wood for a fire, and a kerosene lamp. You only have one match. What do you light first?” – The match!

The Maltese family and I also shared “Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, Whoops” with the Malaysian couple. Who knew this silly game was played the same way in two countries 5,000 miles apart that spoke different languages?

There was so much laughter. It was the laughter of children playing child’s games even though there were no kids in the van. It was the joy of people from different corners of the globe recognizing similarity in each other. The freedom of being fully present, enjoying the company of strangers that felt like friends for a moment.

Two nights later I was sitting in a café in the small capital city of Ljubljana chatting with a couple from Texas while my waiter brought me his favorite Slovenian craft beers. The family from Malta happened to walk by and stopped to say hello. I stood up and gave each of them a hug. In that moment I felt like I could belong anywhere.

And so, in those times when I feel like the odd person out, like I’m weird and different and don’t fit in, or when it feels like division has more power than unity, I remind myself of the riddles in the back of the van. Of the collective belonging felt through laughter shared equally across continents, the simplicity of human connection, and the strength in our commonality.

 

NOTE: This blog post was equally inspired by my experiences in Slovenia and Brené Brown’s new book on true belonging, Braving the Wilderness and, in particular, the Maya Angelou quote she shared: “You are only free when you realize you belong no place – you belong every place – no place at all.”

 

Heather Whelpley is a coach working with people that want to have a meaningful career and live up to their own potential, but feel stuck in their job. See her home page to learn more. She is also the host of Destination Soul Shine, a community dedicated to nourishing your soul and making your spirit shine. Like Destination Soul Shine on Facebook or follow us on Instagram @destinationsoulshine for resources to inspire you to live a meaningful, healthy, creative life. 

Keeping the Faith

Slovenia Coast

On my last day in Slovenia I decided to do what I enjoy most: walk. I had walked all over Slovenia during my 10-day trip – on mountain paths to waterfalls, down country lanes past herds of sheep and cows, on boardwalks through gorges. This last trek was along the coast from Piran, where I was staying. I planned to follow a designated walking route north, do a short loop at the end of the trail, and walk back to Piran.

I missed the turn back. I saw it. I paused to consider whether I should turn there, but the trail markers I had been following for two and a half hours kept going down the coast. So I also kept going.

After a while I realized my mistake. I wasn’t lost. I knew I could turn around, but at that point turning around would mean walking for at least six hours. I could do it, but it didn’t sound fun.

So I kept walking forward. I could soon see a town in the distance on the coast. I was pretty sure it was Izola. We had stopped in Izola on my bus from Ljubljana to Piran, which meant if I could get there, then I would eventually be able to find my way back to Piran without having to walk for hours on end.

Hiking in Slovenia

I continued to follow the path along the ridge over the sea. Eventually the trail ended at a road. I kept walking down and forward. The road led to a park (with a much needed bathroom!). From the park there was a promenade along the ocean to a marina. From the marina I walked to the first road I saw and followed the signs pointing to the center of town (it was now clear that I was actually in Izola – yeah!). I walked a few blocks along the road and ran directly into the bus stop. I checked the schedule and the next bus for Piran was coming in 10 minutes.

I’ve thought a lot about this walk. What amazes me most is that I felt no fear. Here I was, walking alone in a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language, not entirely sure where I was or where I was going and yet I had complete confidence that it would work out.

We could use a fancy corporate term, like managing ambiguity, to describe my attitude that day, but it really comes down to one thing: faith.

How many times do we need to be reminded of keeping the faith? When the final job interview yet again doesn’t lead to an offer. When you want to be in a relationship and put yourself out there only to be rejected. When the pregnancy test comes back negative. When you’re launching a business, but haven’t landed your first client.

And yet I am reminded of the walk to Izola. Not only did faith lead me to the end I wanted, but it was a beautiful journey. The Adriatic Sea sparkled into infinity. Soft pale green olive trees twisted their branches creating artistic shadows in the grass. The sun shone brilliantly above me. I felt like I was walking in a Van Gogh painting.

Olive grove in Slovenia

I know the journey doesn’t always feel beautiful. Sometimes it’s heart wrenching. It is vulnerable being out there on a ridge, knowing what you want, but unsure when and how it’s going to happen.

But keep the faith. One foot in front of the other. You (and I) will get there eventually.

 

Heather Whelpley is a coach working with people that want to have a meaningful career and live up to their own potential, but feel stuck in their job. See her home page to learn more. She is also the host of Destination Soul Shine, a community dedicated to nourishing your soul and making your spirit shine. Like Destination Soul Shine on Facebook or follow us on Instagram @destinationsoulshine for resources to inspire you to live a meaningful, healthy, creative life. 

The Leap to Entrepreneurship

Torres del Paine, Chile

This week marks the official start to a major change in my life – the move from full-time corporate employee to entrepreneur. I say official because I started the transition months ago when I began seriously considering striking out on my own. But now it is real. Thursday is my last day as a full-time employee. Friday I leave for a month in Europe. When I return I’ll work part-time until February when I’m really on my own.

If you had asked me a year ago if I would be starting my own business I would have shaken my head. Despite coming from a line of entrepreneurs on my mom’s side of the family, I never considered being a small business owner. It seemed too risky, too unstable.

Today what seems risky is leaving all the ideas bubbling inside of me undeveloped. Risky to keep my creativity constrained. Risky to never take the chance to know what my life might be.

What am I going to do? Write a book on getting the most out of development experiences and times of change and learning in our lives. Seek out contract work while writing the book and build a business running leadership development programs, coaching, and doing speaking engagements.

It sounds so clear when I put it down in words. The reality feels more like the photo at the top of the page. I can see the path right in front of me. The destination in the background is visible, but not exact. The path forward fades quickly, the twists and turns unknown.

In many ways I have no idea what I’m doing. But I’ve never felt more sure that I’m headed in the right direction. The path will become visible as I continue to walk.

There are days when I’m terrified. Moments when the fear of failure and embracing the unknown induces a mild panic attack (more on that in a future blog post!). But excitement about the possibilities overpowers the fear every time.

I will be documenting my journey from employee to entrepreneur through this blog – the joys and successes along with the frustration, fear, and setbacks. I’ll start with a post or two during my trip to Europe over the next month.

I recently re-read the children’s book A Wrinkle in Time. In it, Mrs. Whatsit compares our lives to a sonnet saying, “You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you.” Yesterday, colleagues gave me a journal for my trip.  In it they had written, “Live your poetry.”

Here I go, ready to write the sonnet and live my poetry.

 

Heather Whelpley is a coach working with people that want to have a meaningful career and live up to their own potential, but feel stuck in their job. See her home page to learn more. She is also the host of Destination Soul Shine, a community dedicated to nourishing your soul and making your spirit shine. Like Destination Soul Shine on Facebook or follow us on Instagram @destinationsoulshine for resources to inspire you to live a meaningful, healthy, creative life. 

 

 

 

La Viajera (The Woman Traveler)

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Note: A few months ago I posted a story called The Traveler. The experiences in the article were mine, but I wrote the traveler as a man. A friend that has traveled with me around the world questioned this and challenged me to write a second piece as a woman traveler. What a fun challenge it has been! Here she is, La Viajera.

The sun emerges between passing clouds and transforms la viajera’s auburn hair into a fiery red. The wind carries her hair in nonsensical patterns of dancing flames. She does not try to contain it. She lifts her face to the sun and her heart to the sky. A smile rises from her chest and gently appears on her lips.

La viajera sees a clearing along the path where a large flat rock juts over the river, beckoning for her to rest. She sits and quickly tugs off her hiking boots, peels away her socks, and plunges her feet into the icy river. The pristine waters of Patagonia rush around the contours of her feet and between her toes. Cold penetrates her bones and provides relief against the miles of trails la viajera has covered today. A thundering roar catches her attention and she turns with just enough time to see a glacier calving upstream.

Her legs are depleted, but her soul is replenished. She feels the energy of the earth and the glory of being alive in the world. Here, thousands of miles south of her home and surrounded by unfamiliar landscapes, she is free.

She lays back on the rock. The warmth of the boulder seeps into her body while the icy water continues to barrel past her feet. She relaxes fully into the sunshine, breathing it in and radiating the light back out into the world around her.

This feeling of freedom and connection isn’t new for la viajera. It bubbled up when she explored a temple in Angkor Wat with a friend. A rickshaw driver waited somewhere on the other side of the temple, but he was patient and there was no hurry. They turned among ruins of sculptures and tumbling walls towards whatever captured their fancy. Curiosity drove their path forward.

And again when she cycled along one-lane farm roads through endless vineyards in Provence. La viajera got lost more times than she could count in that afternoon of biking, but it didn’t matter. The kindness of strangers and multifaceted communication of English, French, gestures and smiles reminded her of what is good in this world.

And the many times she packed up her Honda Civic and left for a week, a month, a year. The exhilaration of unknown destinations flooded every corner of her body as she drove away from home. Excitement, fear, and wonder merged to form an addictive elixir streaming through her veins. The open road temporarily satisfied this yearning, but it’s only a matter of time before the hunger for new lands flares up and demands attention.

But la viajera is not thinking about that today. Right now she is laying in the sun on a rock next to a river, eyes closed and heart beating in tune with the pulse of the earth beneath her.

 

Heather Whelpley is a coach working with people that want to have a meaningful career and live up to their own potential, but feel stuck in their job. See her home page to learn more. She is also the host of Destination Soul Shine, a community dedicated to nourishing your soul and making your spirit shine. Like Destination Soul Shine on Facebook or follow us on Instagram @destinationsoulshine for resources to inspire you to live a meaningful, healthy, creative life.