Would you like to understand your role in the events of your life and learn to make the kinds of choices that support your dreams? The World According to YOU! helps us understand how every relationship, event, and drama in our lives reflects back to us who we are being. We are essentially generating our reality, moment to moment, through our feelings of worthiness or unworthiness, and the thoughts, words, and actions that arise as a result. When we are capable of seeing ourselves clearly and recognizing that our choices create our lives, we can begin to understand that we actually have a role in creating our micro and macro world after all.
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The World According to YOU!How Our Choices Create It All
By Carla L Picardi
BALBOA PRESSCopyright © 2012 Carla L Picardi
All right reserved.
Chapter OneAttracting Positive
Being Positive Creates More Positive
From ancient scholars to 21st century scientists, the topic of being positive versus negative has stimulated an enormous amount of conversation, research and literature. Positive and negative states of being, we now know, affect everything from our bodies and our health to the future of our world and the universe we inhabit. Quite simply, being positive creates more positive and being negative creates more negative. Although I have believed and practiced this for years, I am still amazed every time I see evidence of it in my own life.
Lots of people claim that positive people like me live in a bubble—a Pollyanna type existence. This is not really accurate because it is with great intention and deliberate choice that I, and others who believe as I do, work toward holding steady in this place of positive emotions. Like everyone else, positive people can sink into a negative frame of mind. The only difference is that we use great discipline to snap ourselves back into a positive place as quickly as possible so as not to start attracting negative things into our lives.
Years ago, I had just finished a big project for Swiss Re in New York City. There was no more money coming in and the debt was piling up. Yet I knew on some deeper level that things would somehow work out for the best. In fact, every time I felt the slightest tinge of anxiety percolating inside me, I would repeat this phrase like a mantra—"Something GREAT is going to happen!" Because I was at a crossroads in my life, I didn't exactly know what to wish for, so I trusted that the words "Something GREAT is going to happen!" and the feelings they generated within me would lead me to the next step. "I'm ready," I would affirm. "Bring me my perfect life!" By this I did not mean the perfect life; I meant the life that was perfect for me at that time to bring about the most expansive growth and learning.
Sonia Choquette had written a wonderful book called Your Heart's Desire, which I used as my guide for making this shift. I knew that I could not make the transition to the next phase of my life using a head-based strategy. Instinctively, I felt it would have to arise from a deep heart-felt desire. Guided by what Sonia calls her Principles of Creativity (which I later realized was essentially the Law of Attraction), I followed the three guiding rules she asked readers to commit to: 1) travel lightly—in other words, leave behind the way you think life works; 2) take responsibility for your dream—you created everything in your life up to this moment, and thus you have the power to create your deepest desire as well; and 3) don't be a control freak—you cannot jump to something new if you fear risk, injury or disappointment, because these place you in your ego, not in your heart. As a controlling perfectionist, I knew that #3 in particular was not going to be easy, and—being deeply committed to changing the course of my life—I was ready for the challenge.
With these guiding rules in mind and a deep personal commitment to change my life, I decided to pass up a couple of lucrative positions to direct controversial projects with highly volatile owners, because every cell of my body told me that this choice was not in alignment with my desires. As weeks turned into months, friends and family became very worried about me. I recall vividly one particular conversation with my mother. "Oh Carla," she said, "I am so worried about you!" Knowing that she did not understand the depth of my conviction to shift to a life that was perfect for my next phase of growth, I stopped her mid-sentence, and in as loving a way possible I said, "Mom, PLEASE ... if you really love me, stop worrying about me ... just picture something GREAT happening for me!" By this time, I was clear about the toxic nature of worry and was keenly aware that many of my closest friends and family felt my situation untenable, and the way I was responding to it naïve. I asked them to please put aside their own fears and honor me by "picturing something GREAT happening for me!"
When something great did happen, almost seven months after I started putting my attention on "something GREAT happening," people were of course happy for me, and they were also surprised that I hung in there through those dark times. One of my dearest friends said, "Wow, I know you kept saying, 'Something GREAT is going to happen!' but who would have known it would have been something so great!" In that moment, the opportunity arrived that solved all my problems at once.
Although I already believed in the power of attracting what I desire into my life, attracting something this perfect shook my whole existence. I never expected the epiphany that followed. I was struck by a profound knowingness that if we are capable of getting out of our own way, something more perfect than we could have ever imagined will make its way to us. Once you know something like this, you know it in every cell of your body, and you can never again pretend you do not know it. I now owned this wisdom. "This stuff really works!" I thought to myself. It was all about me choosing what I desire and who I wish to be—and then just holding steady.
Back in 1997, when "something great did happen," I recognized clearly the role I had played in creating that shift, and I also distinguished some helpful clues: When something is right, it is easy. It unfolds quickly and almost effortlessly, as though each piece of a pre-designed puzzle were falling into place. It had not always been this easy—possibly because I had never surrendered so fully or held steady so consciously.
How We Create Our Lives
I have often felt like I am two very separate people who seem to work well together: an ambitious, hard-driving business person who has achieved success in the outer world, and an intuitive, sensitive person who uses a combination of knowingness, faith in the order of things and discipline to remain focused on what I desire to create. Somehow both have interacted harmoniously to generate my life.
I was raised in an Italian-American Catholic home outside of Boston. My mother was an only child and my father's only sibling, his brother, became a Franciscan monk. When we were young, most family holidays and free weekends were spent with my uncle at the seminary or visiting my grandparents and other relatives, some of whom were also clergy. I realized early in life that these religious folks were just people—people who were happy one day and moody the next; people having a laugh or experiencing a moment of pain. They went to the bathroom, they had indigestion and they put their underpants on one leg at a time just like the rest of us. They were no more speaking the word of God than any other person. They were all just people who were doing the best they could—albeit while wearing funny clothes.
The gift this realization gave me even as a child was a certain level of compassion for the "super-person" role that many religious people are expected to play in our society, and a complete lack of intimidation for what they represented. This is not to say that I felt a lack of respect for them—in fact, I honored them deeply—and I also acknowledged their humanity. With that I understood that if a nun or a priest reprimanded me, it did not mean that God was angry at me too.
I consider myself a deeply spiritual person, yet even after 12 years of Catholic schools and all the familial responsibilities around Catholicism, I do not consider myself either religious or Catholic. Faith is the most profound gift I received from my early indoctrination in religion: faith in what is unseen in the moment, and faith in my ability to be unique and to resist being shamed into conformity. It also gave me a certain acceptance for things the mind cannot immediately confirm: If you can believe that a virgin had a baby and that the son was raised from the dead, you can hold steady long enough to consider other implausible concepts as well. To me, faith means having the ability to suspend disbelief long enough to allow something new to unfold; and a deep knowingness that everything is happening the way it needs to, even if we cannot see it at the time. Life as we know it is not destiny; it is a continuous unfolding based on what each of us creates moment by moment as a result of our choices.
My university degree is in architecture and design, so for as long as I can remember, I see things through eyes attuned to form and space. In my mind's eye, I can translate two-dimensional drawings into three-dimensional space and I can walk through that space I see in my mind and decide how well it will work in reality. I can see my dreams for my life in a similar way—I visualize where my life is going next—first in my mind's eye. In other words, I mentally create an image of what I desire next, not necessarily by "shoving a square peg into a round hole" but by taking a softer focus. This practice of picturing myself going through the motions in my imaginary life has brought me many wonderful real-life experiences and I have entered into each one with passion and enthusiasm. Or maybe it was the other way around: I entered into the unknown with passion, enthusiasm and a bit of faith, and then the amazing experiences unfolded. Either way, I often have felt awed by the magic of life and the feeling that anything is possible. It took me many years to discover that not everyone approaches life in this same way, yet I am certain that if I can do this, anyone can do it. All it takes is passion and enthusiasm.
When I graduated from university in 1977, I moved to New York City. Like Liza Minnelli, I too thought, "... if I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere ..." I started as a cocktail waitress at the Waldorf Astoria—lunch duty at Peacock Alley—while doing freelance design work. I then moved on to various corporate design and facilities planning projects until I was appointed Vice President and Director of Corporate Facilities for a division of Citibank. Although I spent years working like a dog, I had job security. In those days job security meant also having "golden handcuffs"—a term used to signify the lucrative financial incentives that were given to employees to prevent them from leaving because most of the bonuses were not accessible for years. Although some viewed this as retirement planning, I viewed it as suffocating.
At 29 years old I wanted adventure, not security, so when an opportunity arose to move to London with a friend whose company was transferring him there, I decided to go too. I knew that although Citibank was not willing to transfer me to London, they would give me a leave of absence and support me in any way they could. With that and a place to live, I packed up my life in 1985 and left NYC. As soon as I arrived in London, Citibank called me to help them with a project on Jersey in the Channel Islands. Everything had unfolded perfectly, mostly because I believed it would.
A few months later, London was abuzz because an outspoken American named G. Ware Travelstead, the Chairman of First Boston Real Estate with Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley were contemplating creating "Manhattan on the Thames" in the Isle of Dogs and calling it Canary Wharf, the name of the dock on which it was located. I had heard rumblings that a small team was working out of a few hotel suites at 47 Park Street. I called, introduced myself and said, "You don't know me but you may need someone like me because I can bring the U.S. corporate perspective to this project." "Come on in," was the reply. "We can use all the help we can get!" With that, I became the eighth person and the first woman executive to join this team, and was appointed the Associate Director of Design and Construction for the Canary Wharf Development.
Seven years later, after surviving the takeover by Olympia and York, and many other dramatic events, I had the honor of being one of a small group of Project Executives who had overall responsibility for the design, development and construction of Phase I: 4.5 million square feet of office, retail and infrastructure. For my role in Canary Wharf, I was awarded a Loeb Fellowship at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. This is a prestigious post-professional independent study fellowship with access to all of Harvard University and MIT given to 10 midcareer professionals each year who have proven themselves as leaders in what is known in architecture as the built and natural environment. I spent this year of intellectual utopia as a Loeb Fellow focusing on the rebuilding of derelict urban areas and weaving them back into the fabric of a city.
After the Loeb Fellowship, nothing seemed quite the same. I moved back to NYC, was working on some interesting projects, and enjoying a newly purchased, lovely apartment where I would live for the rest of my life—or so I thought. Tired of moving so often, I was thrilled that for the first time in my life, everything I owned was under one roof. At the same time, I also knew that I was not living my perfect life. Seeking a project with meaning was more important than ever. I decided to take a more active role in creating my new life (with the help of Sonia Choquette that is!). I began to focus on the something great that was going to happen and let the cards fall as they may. By then I knew that things had a way of working out for the best. That was when, in late 1997, the something great happened. Little did I know that my life was about to change in just about every way imaginable.
I received an offer from Swiss Re to oversee the creation of the company's London Headquarters. Swiss Re had been my client in New York City. Swiss Re represented the type of patron that our planet needed as we entered the 21st century—socially, culturally and environmentally conscious, and I knew that whatever we ultimately created would be important. London was a city I knew well, having lived there from 1985 to 1992, so I eagerly accepted this exciting challenge.
The iconic Swiss Re building at 30 St Mary Axe is now fondly referred to by most Londoners as the Gherkin. When I started the project, there was no design team in place, no design for a 40-story office building, and no planning permission. There was only a decision to make a London Headquarters happen. It was a clean sheet of paper and anything was possible.
I have to admit, this is my favorite part of the process of creating. This is the part where most people tell you it can't be done and where I get to prove it can. There were so many times when most groups would have given up or thought it too difficult; when many would succumb to doubt, protest that it has never been done before or complain that it would take too much time and money. This is the part where most investors would bow out saying, "I'm sorry; we don't fund buildings like this," and the part where planners would argue that it would be better to reconstruct what had been there before the IRA bombed the previous building on the site. This is that pivotal moment when positive attitude and vision push us forward to create something extraordinary.
As Project Director for the pre-construction phase, I was responsible for the management of the design, development and planning process. The building, designed by architects Foster and Partners, received the first planning permission in over 30 years for a tall building in the City of London and won the 2004 Stirling Prize for architecture. Because of its amazingly simple form of an elongated egg, the building is often chided as being phallic. I have always admired its sleek, aerodynamic shape and environmentally-progressive quality. I actually believe its soft curves and flowing movement give it a more feminine than masculine feel.
To me the Gherkin will always be a paradigm-shifting building. Not only did it signify the changing model of what a tall building would become in 21st century London, it also became a catalyst for change in the City of London itself by paving the way for tall buildings of architectural merit to be constructed thereafter. Most importantly for me on a personal level, it was a paradigm-shifting building because my experience of helping to create it changed the course of my life.
Excerpted from The World According to YOU! by Carla L Picardi Copyright © 2012 by Carla L Picardi. 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.
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Table of Contents
PART I: Being Positive....................9
Chapter 1: Attracting Positive....................11
Being Positive Creates More Positive....................11
How We Create Our Lives....................14
The Law of Attraction....................20
The Discipline of Being Positive....................27
Chapter 2: The Role of Happiness and Appreciation....................35
Why is Choosing Happiness Important?....................35
Our Stories and Their Role in Creating Our Lives....................41
Resilience and Finding the Gift....................46
Chapter 3: What's Love Got to Do With It?....................57
Love and Fear....................57
Love, Fear and Leadership....................61
We are All Things We are That Too....................70
PART II: Our Life is Our Illusion....................81
Chapter 4: Exposing the Illusion....................83
... and it is All an Illusion....................83
How Does the Illusion Work?....................86
Responsibility for Creating Our Lives....................90
Chapter 5: It's All About Perspective....................97
Changing our Perspective....................97
Remembering How to Dream....................100
Fulfillment is a State of Being....................105
PART III: Our Relationships are Our Mirror....................111
Chapter 6: Seeing Ourselves Clearly....................113
Seeing Ourselves in Relation to Others....................113
It's Not About Being Perfect....................119
The Courage to See Our Reflection....................123
Chapter 7: Being Who We Desire Others to Be....................137
Finding the Love We Believe We Deserve....................137
Listening as a Way to See Our Reflection....................143
PART IV: Our Choices Create Our World....................155
Chapter 8: Are You Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution?....................157
Be the Change....................157
The Buck Stops Here....................170
Chapter 9: The Courage to Embrace Something New....................179
Choice Change Create....................183
About the Author....................191
My Book List....................193