Are you feeling stuck, unfulfilled, and without purpose? Do you feel like a cast member, deck crew, employee, or stagehand in your own life?
In this book, author Kimberly Rooney shows you how to take control of your life and become your own director, captain, CEO, choreographer, and policymaker. It’s the wake-up call you’ve been longing for—the doorway to finding your inner strength and voice.
Kim’s own dance with adversity began at age twenty-nine, when she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis—which she affectionately refers to as “Arthur.” In Spiritual Two-by-Fours, she shares her journey—her “dance with Arthur”—to find the mix of “gifts” that made her director and choreographer of her life. With openness and vulnerability, she shares what you need to know so that you too can overcome any adversity—whether physical, emotional, or spiritual.
Whether you have created your challenges or they have “cut in” to your life dance, you get to choose how you respond. You get to take responsibility for your happiness, inner peace, and overall well-being.
You have what it takes. You have the power within. And you can shift your life to make it spectacular. So make yourself head policymaker of your own life and get ready for the ride—knowing that Spiritual Two-by-Fours will guide you every step of the way.
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Read an Excerpt
SPIRITUAL TWO-BY-FOURS and Other Wake-Up Calls
What to Do When Life Hits You Upside the Head
By KIMBERLY ROONEY
Balboa PressCopyright © 2013 Kimberly Rooney
All rights reserved.
A New Dance: The Gift of Courage
When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.
~ Paulo Coelho
There is a reason this first chapter is about courage. It takes an enormous amount of courage to face life's challenges with grace. Actually, courage is an intricate part of life—challenge or no challenge. Without some small bit of it, we would find ourselves stuck on the conveyor belt of life, just standing there allowing life to move us along without purposeful intention.
This kind of life can sometimes leave us unable to function, perhaps paralyzed in fear. But the courage I'm talking about in this chapter will allow you to make life-changing decisions. It will also multiply the rewards of the other guidance in this book. Courage is a muscle, and it needs to be exercised on a regular basis. So let's get to it.
The sun was now just above the horizon in the late afternoon. Even though darkness drew near, the decision was made to take flight. Sixteen people, all dressed in gray suits with harnesses strapped around them, boarded the plan. Only eight of the harnesses included a pack filled with a brightly colored lifesaver—a parachute.
The plane climbed rapidly on its way up to thirteen thousand feet. As I approached the door and looked out, I recognized the multicolored green patchwork of the earth below. It was a familiar sight I'd seen from the comfort of a jetliner. A similar view to "we have reached 10,000 feet; it is now safe to turn on all electronic devices." My heartbeat picked up pace.
I was strapped to Joe, and he controlled my destiny, as he was the one wearing the parachute. I was trusting my life to him. On the count of three, Joe and I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. The ground grew rapidly closer as we fell towards earth at 120 mph. The rapid descent towards the very hard ground was accompanied by a roar similar to a jumbo jet taking off, and my skin rippled, as though it wasn't attached.
The moment the parachute opened, there was silence. A calm floating to earth. Looking out, we could see the sun setting over the horizon.
It had all started a few years before, when a friend wanted to go skydiving for her thirtieth birthday. She asked a group of us to join her. Now I'm a pretty adventurous girl, and I still second-guessed the sanity of it all. But in the end, my adventurous spirit won out. And it was an amazing experience that gave me a sense of freedom like no other ever had.
But the courage to skydive is a walk in the park compared to what it takes to look inside and create lasting change! This is not meant to scare you. Rather it is to encourage you to put some serious thought into your willingness to embrace courage and initiate change within you. Without it, the rest of this book will do you no good.
What Will it Take?
Prior to my dance with Arthur, I found "courage" a powerful, active, and frightening word. For me, people of courage were the ones who climbed Mount Everest or swam at great depths of the ocean with sharks and other dangerous sea creatures. Courageous people chose livings like cleaning from scaffolding held only by ropes in an effort to provide a clean view for employees with offices in very tall buildings. It even defined those who chose to raise a soccer team for a family—this from a person who was in awe of the responsibility of raising one child.
This was my image of courage. Then Arthur entered my life, and my perspective on courage changed. At first I looked at all these examples of courage as adventures in the dance of life, but now I know: the dance itself takes the real courage. It's ultimately courage that keeps us rising to and dancing with life day after day.
Oftentimes it takes a challenge to demand the courage to embrace growth and uncertainty. Yet growth and uncertainty are necessities in life, catalysts to achieving our dreams and truly living. They are basic humans needs that too often get overlooked from the comfort zone.
But our quality of life is directly related to how comfortable we can be with uncertainty. Without it we watch opportunities to transform pass us by and, instead, stay wrapped in a cocoon of comfort. What so many don't realize is that transformation is what brings us so much joy on the other side of fear. Every time we look the fear and anxiety of uncertainty in the face and say, "I see who you are and I know you are not true or real," we can gracefully move it aside and continue on our journey. The more we do it, the less scary our uncertainties become, because we know we have what it takes to manage it.
Looking back at that day in the tub when I was so scared and in pain, I realize it took a flood of courage for me to one, take an inventory of my heart, and two, recognize I needed to change. At that point I didn't see it as courage. It was simply a necessity to find a way to get out of bed each morning. Let's call it despair-induced action!
It wasn't until my decision twelve years later to leave my long-term, stable job that I realized courage had become a cornerstone of my life. No longer did it only belong to the extreme adventure seekers. Courage applied to those willing to grow, heal, and move forward, leaving behind the "shoulds" (I should do this and I should do that because society has deemed it so) and the comfort zone of the status quo and launching into uncertainty. Something Arthur was screaming for me to do.
Leaving my secure job, where I had become established and successful, was a life-changing catalyst that set me on the path to growth and healing. My work had become my home away from home. It provided me a second family, a broad social network, and a sense of comfort. I was extremely proud to be a sales manager and a company representative. That is who I was!
Sadly, I had allowed a company and career to define me—but more on that later. I had a great career as a sales manager that allowed me a tremendous amount of freedom and independence—a couple of key words in my vocabulary. The position suited me because it supported much of what drives me in life: teaching, creativity, boundless social interaction, recognition, travel, day-to-day change, movement, and much more. The love I felt for the company touched me with a sense of belonging and passion. Many, including me, thought I would dance my last days in that exact position.
My magical fortieth birthday changed everything. Crazy thoughts of a career change tangoed their way into my head. Could I really be considering leaving a company and position that defined me—one that provided so much comfort and security? These new thoughts provided a different sense of purpose. They also had me asking the questions, "Do I really want to be standing at trade shows when I'm fifty? Do I really want to dedicate my entire working career to one thing?"
The answer to both questions was an overwhelming no!
The next question I posed to myself was, "What do I want to do?" At the time there was no clear definition of what I wanted to do; however, it was a starting point that gave me pause. I wanted to use the knowledge I had gathered through my dance with Arthur to help others, while providing an income and creating ultimate freedom.
Dancing with Uncertainty
It took three more years to swallow and also absorb the impact of tendering my resignation. A resignation is an unresisted acceptance of something that is inescapable. Not only was I giving up an identity years in the making, but as a family, we were losing a big chunk of income. So with the decision to leave came yet another big leap—selling our house.
The most common response to both was, "That takes a lot of courage." Now I never associated courage with the life decisions we were making. I'm not sure why. I knew I was driving myself and my family down a very narrow cliff road to a new life. But the key here is that somehow I had faith this journey would provide a guardrail when necessary.
I resigned myself to what I needed to do to be happy! There is only one life as Kim, and in the big scope of the universe, it is a very short life. And doing this for myself also held a great opportunity for my family. I knew that having the courage to endure a challenging short period of time had the potential for long-term reward. That is what dancing with uncertainty does for us—it propels us forward toward a rewarding life of purpose. In this case, settling for comfort was not an option! My health depended on continued courage!
Soon after leaving my job, my husband's uncle put his arm around me and said, "I'm proud of you for having the courage to make this change." I guess it was the realization of his feeling proud that opened my eyes to the reality that courage had to be present to make these changes.
I began to feel gratitude, not only for the confidence I had in myself, but also my well-placed faith in a higher power. That moment of resignation felt like sun shining through the trees of a thick forest; this freed me from any guilt I had for initiating change for myself and my family, the secondary recipients of that change. I felt a satisfaction knowing my family and I were moving toward a new sense of purpose and growth—that my leap of faith was putting us on a path to great opportunities.
Leap of Faith
Once my eyes had been opened to this fabulous word "courage," it was time to give it some serious thought. What had I really done? How could I explain the process? There were many acts of courage between that moment in the tub and the narrow cliff road. Now, they keep coming and coming, because I keep creating them.
With each challenge or change that puts me in an uncomfortable place, I call on courage to remind me that not knowing what's around the next corner doesn't mean I should stop in the middle of the road. The guardrail may be there—or it may not—but in any event, I believe in myself and I believe that some higher power is standing with me. I often recite to myself "Everything is in perfect and divine order." Faith can take me to the end of the road regardless of the potholes, twists, and turns on the way.
A change in life does require a leap of faith to redirect our path or put us back on our chosen path. Along the way to the brilliant life we are creating, there will be failures, there will be moments of despair, and there will be times of "Oh crap, what have I done?!"
Recently a picture with some of the greatest success stories was being reposted by many on Facebook. It highlighted one failure for each of them (to achieve their success, there were many failures along their path). Did you know that Oprah was fired as a news anchor? The news director stated that she was not meant for TV. Surely that failure pushed her further into uncertainty. And look where she is today.
Each time we get up and face yet another challenge—with more change and uncertainty—we create more opportunities for learning, growth, and creating. We need to own this part of the path with courage, because no butterfly can live and float beautifully without undergoing the darkness of the cocoon. This is what happened to me with this book—the most challenging and scary obstacle I've ever faced.
Writing anything, even a short email, had brought me great anxiety for most of my life. There was absolutely no confidence anywhere in me when it came to writing. I often said I would rather clean a toilet or have a root canal than write anything.
So when the idea for this book hit me, my thought was Really? A book? But as hard as I tried to shake the idea, it stuck to me like glue. And not only was writing an issue, it would mean I'd need to expose my journey, my feelings, my life.
The short conclusion to this story is: I listened and took action with a deep breath of courage. With action came people to help. It took years and a team of people to get me to this amazing space of love for writing and the vulnerability necessary to spill me onto the pages.
Courage is telling the story of who you are, wholeheartedly. Every time I write, joy fills me beyond the full line. There have been many more obstacles in my journey, and I imagine there will be many more, but each one makes me a stronger, more deliberate creator.
As I mentioned, it took three years from the time I realized my health and happiness required a change to turning in my resignation. As you could probably tell, I loved my job. However, I was changing and going through the process of seeking a sense of purpose. While this was going on inside me, my external world started to shift , and so did my feelings for my career. Once the shift started, I became less and less happy in the job.
Be very clear that I created the shift, as I was being drawn in a new direction. It is very important that you're clear on your intentions. When you make a leap of faith of your own, it must be because of your inner desire for well-being—not because you are running to escape. The need for escape will only create another unhealthy situation. Every decision must be made for your growth and higher good.
Do you have an inner fire to do whatever it takes to overcome daily or life-changing challenges? Do you have a burning desire to find your purpose? Do you want to create confidence and peace at your core? The challenge of feeling stuck is most often brought on by ourselves as our core essence begins to emerge and struggle with the "shoulds" of life. Other times, it is the result of something beyond our control that shift s our perspective. In either event, challenges do serve as wake-up calls, and facing them with courage will allow you to be open and make life choices that are in your best interest!
Social Conditioning and Fear of Judgment
I've come to understand that I was an active choreographer of my journey with Arthur. I ignored my intuition and heart, and gave external influences priority over my own desire to just be me. Put another way, I chose to live and act as I believed those around me (both my personal tribe and society) thought I should.
I chose to hide and avoided engaging fully in an effort to please, or not disappoint, or never be judged. If I had had even a small piece of the "who cares" attitude, I would not have lived in a state self-judgment imprinted by accepting social conditioning as truth. I held myself so tightly, confined in a safe box, that I didn't allow room for others to judge me. This could be as simple as engaging in a conversation but not standing up for what I believed in, or choosing to sit on the sidelines in order to fly under the radar of possible embarrassment.
Here's an example. Through the years I've attended a few personal growth conferences to learn more about creating a business of my own. All of them had open mic opportunities for five minutes with an elite business coach. There were so many questions I wanted to ask. During one session the mic was so close it was practically in my lap, so when the time came, all I had to do was stand up and I would have had the floor.
That was the issue: I would have the floor. All I could think about was that my question was stupid, or I would be asked a question I didn't have the answer to. Enter the fear of judgment and the idea that I would disappoint the coach and myself.
Here's another example. I have never been formally trained in dance, but I always wanted to. I'm not talking about something sophisticated, like ballroom dance. More along the lines of the random "Dancing Mom" performance you see at a kids' dance recital. I'm talking about learning hip-hop and feeling the rush of performing in front of a crowd.
My soul used to light up when I thought about doing something like that. But then judgment and social conditioning would immediately set in, and I'd choose to let the thought die, a desire unlived. While this might seem small and harmless, years of literally holding my emotions, actions, and physical body in such a controlled state left me feeling suffocated and confined.
In both instances, it was the path of least resistance and my conditioning that forced me to make choices not to follow my natural instincts. However, in choosing to live this way, I denied myself and my own needs to such an extent that ultimately my body rebelled in an effort to get my attention.
Excerpted from SPIRITUAL TWO-BY-FOURS and Other Wake-Up Calls by KIMBERLY ROONEY. Copyright © 2013 Kimberly Rooney. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part One: Where to Start....................
1: A New Dance: The Gift of Courage.................... 5
2: Choreographer or Cast Member? The Gift of Self-Awareness................ 23
3: Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: The Gift of Self-Love......... 41
4: Do You Want To Live in a Five-Star Resort or a Rundown Shanty? The Gift
of a Healthy Body.................... 52
Part Two: Let Your Heart Guide You....................
5: Holding Ourselves Hostage: The Gift of Forgiveness.................... 89
6: Connecting the Dots: The Gift of Gratitude.................... 105
7: Isn't that Fascinating? The Gift of Compassion.................... 116
Part Three: Actions Make it Happen....................
9: Dance Like Nobody's Watching: The Gift of Play.................... 141
10: What Do You Really Want? The Gift of Manifesting.................... 152
11: Learning to Quickstep: The Gift of Vulnerability.................... 170
Recommended Resources.................... 185
About Kimberly Rooney.................... 189
The Arthritis Foundation.................... 191