Being an HSP, multipotentialed entrepreneur

Doing some project planning, I looked at my upcoming events and YIKES! is there a lot happening. Events and classes to facilitate; projects to develop, self-care practices to practice… It’s joyous tangle of quiet creativity and sharing what I’ve created with people.

I both LOVE and DREAD when my work finds this rhythm.

My multipotentialed self is like a kid blowing bubbles — laughing, sticky, and totally in her element.

My highly sensitive self — especially my conscientiousness — is freaking out a bit. Ok, maybe a lot.

In the middle of it all, Tracie-the-center is busily weaving, weaving, weaving together the threads, doing my best to stay in the flow of crafting a coherent fabric rather than staging a great unraveling. (To be fair to great unravellings, at some times of year or certain places in life they can be exactly what’s needed.)

It’s messy and imperfect, creative and thrilling, worrying and rewarding. It’s what building a business is like when the world looks a giant rubber band ball of possibilities and you feel it so intensely it’s like life is literally singing in your nervous system.

Being who and how I am invites me to go at life and business differently. Especially business.

I’ll be talking to folks about approaching work and business differently at the Health & Healing Fair at Anahata Yoga & Wellness this Saturday, October 21. Just stop by my table any time from 11 am – 2 pm and ask me one burning question about your business or career. We’ll peer into the works and see what holistic answers await you. No charge.

If you’re inspired to offer cash for your question, I’ll donate it to support the beautiful healing work done by Kathy and the amazing practitioners of Anahata.

Speaking of healing…there will be a bunch of wonderful healers at the Fair, offering 20 minute sessions for just $20. How blissy is that?

Hoping to see you Saturday!

P.S. If you are intrigued by doing business differently, one of those projects I’m developing is group and individual coaching and classes in business basics for yogis and other magical body-centered practitioners. Add yourself to the email list to be the first to know when it’s ready to go!

If I knew then what I know now

I’ve felt different ever since I can remember. Always on the outside because I saw life through a lens all my own. I wanted to learn about everything. Especially about how things worked.

I once carried home a broken old transistor radio I pulled out of someone’s trash because I wanted to know what was inside. I was eight. The other kids thought I was crazy. Mom just shook her head.

Before being a Renaissance Soul was a thing…

Here’s how a conversation about picking a college major went…

“What do you want to do when you grow up?”

“I’m good at writing and history and biology and geology and geography and languages and…..”

“Well, what are you interested in?”

“History and art and journalism and museums and archaeology, and quantum physics and poetry and music and ….”

“Well, you have to be practical. What are you good at that you can make money doing?”

“Um….”

I picked journalism. Because is wasn’t what a girl usually did and that seemed to fit with feeling like an outsider. Because I loved to write. Because the deadline was looming and I had to. Because I felt so guilty about the worry in my parents eyes.

I felt like I had to pick one thing and sound like I would stick with it because that’s what the adults needed me to do. For me, I kept hoping if I picked one thing and convinced myself I was committed to it then maybe I would stop feeling … outside.

Heading to college a few months later, I was miserable and terrified inside and all confidence and bluster on the outside. I made it through my first semester before I switched majors.

Why can’t I pick one thing and stick with it?

I spent the next thirty years trying to pick one thing and become it’s barnacle. Selling alternator and starter parts to automotive rebuilders? Hell yes! I can make that my thing! Executive Assistant to the President at a personnel agency? Of course! Marketing Specialist for an auto parts company? I’m your girl.

No matter how hard I ignored it, or how many stern lectures my inner critic spat, eventually boredom and intense anxiety always popped my little barnacle self off the hull of whatever the current job was.

Then I’d be adrift, even more convinced that there was something wrong with me. Worried about what my parents and friends would think. Worried about worrying them. Worried I would never find “the thing” I could dutifully stick to forever.

I’m a multipotential-what?

In those years, I didn’t understand how my brain worked. Only that it worked differently and that seemed to translate to me being weird. Or broken.

Then, a counselor friend suggested I read the book “The Renaissance Soul: How to Make Your Passions Your Life” by Margaret Lobenstein.

It took two readings separated by 5 years, but I finally made sense to myself. Feeling different made sense. My boredom made sense. My endless curiosity made sense.

…in which she realizes…

There was, and is, nothing wrong with me. I simply see the world through the multi-focal lenses of multipotentialism. I now see strengths and intriguing capacities in traits that felt like failings. Now, feeling unique doesn’t make me feel like an outsider.

What I’m doing about it…

I’ve developed a free workshop about multipotentialism because I want to help people like me start to make sense to themselves. It’s happening Saturday, September 30 from 10 – 11:30 at The Resiliency Center in Flourtown, PA.  If you see yourself in some of all of my story, and want to know more about being a Renaissance Soul, this is the workshop for you.

Info and registration.

Our greatest challenge is our greatest gift

“Trees are the earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.” ~ Rabindranath Tagore

As a child, I used to climb the huge white pine tree next to our home. I’d cling to the trunk like a little girl barnacle as the wind blew and the tree swayed. I was convinced tree and sky were telling each other stories, and if I just listened closely enough, I’d be able to hear the stories, too. The mystery of their more-than-human conversations nourished my child imagination — and eased the ache of feeling like an outsider.

I still listen to the conversations happening all around me among the nature beings with whom I share an ecosystem. I’ve found that I do understand their language…if I listen with all of my senses, and if I’m willing to surrender into sound and rhythm, rather than needing words.

And, there it is again….the beauty in being gifted as highly sensitive, the wonder created by the intense curiosity of being multipotentialed.

The way we perceive the world can be our greatest challenge…AND our greatest joy. What do you think? Any stories out there you’d like to hear?

Monday Moorings are quickly read morsels of thought, ideas, perspective shifts, and self-care practices inviting you to moor yourself into your gifts of high sensitivity, multipotentialism, and introversion. Published (nearly) every Monday.

Monday Moorings: Water? Really?

“Our energies might be traveling out of our brains and bodies and into those of other living beings of all kinds through imprints on this magical substance. The oceans and rivers and rains might be transporting all manner of information throughout the world.” Diana Rico in her article “Scientists investigate water memory.”

Isn’t that a wonderfully intriguing idea? That this substance so essential to staying nourished – indeed to staying alive – may carry your imprint to the other side of the world? It’s an idea that invites us to consider all sorts of possibilities.

Drinking a glass of water can become an experience of mindful gratitude for not just the water molecules our bodies need to survive, but also for the sense of communion with others.

An ocean swim can become a prayer sent into the world just because we’ve infused our presence into the water.

I also love how, in the video, the scientist from the Aerospace Institute of the University of Stuttgart in Germany theorizes that oceans become things that join us, rather than divide us. That rain could be a source of data transmission.

Can you imagine listening that closely to raindrops? Gathering in the presences with which they are imprinted? The curious child in me imagines that if I’m mindfully aware enough, I might just decipher some of that information the next time I drink a sip of water, or stand in the rain. What does your curious child imagine?

Monday Moorings are quickly read morsels of thought, ideas, perspective shifts, and self-care practices inviting you to moor yourself into your gifts of high sensitivity, multipotentialism, and introversion. Published (nearly) every Monday.

What I love about you and me.

What I love about you and me is this: we’re different.

We are part of a community of 12 – 20% of the population offering unique and needed skills, perceptions, and perspectives in these challenging times.

One of the things I also love about us is that we face similar challenges. Like the challenge of not believing that being the way we are – highly sensitive or multipotentialed or introverted or all of the above – is a good thing. Or the challenge of walking into a networking event. Or the even bigger challenge of staying at said event. Or talking about ourselves at the aforementioned event. You get the picture.

So, today, I’d like to share with you some of the most wonderful things about being who we are. Who you are. I gently invite you to give yourself the gift of noticing yourself in these attributes. It’s a pretty delicious list. And you’re definitely in there. (There’s a LOT of crossover among the categories, so don’t get hung up on them. Simply drink in those attributes….)

Awesome attributes of the Highly Sensitive

  • Multitalented
  • Strongly imaginative
  • Rapid and deep learners
  • Often intellectually gifted
  • Intuitive
  • Deeply empathetic
  • Big picture/long range/ often visionary thinkers who process deeply
  • Understanding the importance of working at a natural pace/rhythm. Often that’s slower, but not always.
  • Can be an oasis of calm in a sea of chaos (if already resilient, and well-resourced)
  • Extremely perceptive. Often have a clear sense of people and their motivations – even when those are hidden or unconscious.
  • Can be very aware of the mind/body connection and use it to advantage.

Renaissance Soul/Multipotentialite/Scanner superpowers

  • Integral thinkers
  • Innovative thinkers
  • Synthesize ideas readily
  • Holistic thinkers
  • Amass a unique collection of skills and experiences
  • Often intellectually gifted
  • Able to effectively and accurately communicate with diverse groups of people about a wide variety of subjects. Is often the person in the room or on the team who is translating between disparate groups.
  • Rapid learners
  • Our passion makes us inspiring people to be around.
  • Adaptable as hell. A really important skill to develop to thrive in the 21st c.

Intriguing Introvert specialties…

  • Learn more frequently and often more quickly. Could be said we’re learning constantly.
  • Cultivate genuine connection and relationships more readily because we prefer meaningful conversation and are generally empathetic.
  • Especially good leaders for groups where members are proactive, collaborative, and have high emotional intelligence. Spend less time asserting their leadership and more time listening and innovating.
  • Attentive to detail.
  • Can take on extroverted traits when it’s important. When the project is aligned with our core values and the situation demands risk taking, taking a loud stand, being a forceful leader.

So….read….notice….breathe….notice again….take a shot at believing….notice how that feels…repeat as desired.

Starting Over … Again?

Starting Over ... Again? | TracieNichols.com

Almost one year ago I chose to step back and reevaluate who I wanted to be professionally. I dove into this process because – despite successfully supporting my clients through empowering changes in self-perception, and in how they lived their lives – the purpose of my business felt murky, and my identity as a practitioner felt increasingly fragmented. To make things even worse, my inner critic kept flinging epithets like “flake”, “dabbler”, and “unprofessional.” 

What made me really uneasy, though, was the lack of a clear reason for my confusion. The usual culprits – burnout, overwhelm, family crisis and the like – were not an issue. I loved my work and my clients, there were no crises, I consciously practiced good self-care, my resilience was not being unusually tested by any life events. So, what was up?

I finished with my existing clients, closed my practice, sent a “Thank you and farewell” email to my newsletter list, took a part time job with my local library to stopgap our finances, and spent a lot of time staring at birds in our backyard feeders.

I needed time and space to figure out why work that had inspired me nourished me no longer. And, since it wasn’t the first time this had happened, I needed to figure out what caused this cycle of passionate engagement/disengagement.

I’d been in business for eight years becoming a serial discoverer of a string of strangely different “one true purposes.”

I also needed to find a new way to work – something that met our financial needs as well as my spiritual, psychological and intellectual needs – for my own sanity and for my family’s financial stability.

After some fruitless weeks of spinning around in my own head, I reached out to a career counselor. I’m so glad I did.

She listened to me tell my story. She heard me talk about my fears of being rejected by potential employers because my job history leapfrogs among very different industries and occupations – including a long gap for parenting. She heard me worry about how the typical corporate work environment left me exhausted with no time or energy for the ecosystem that keeps me centered and sane. She listened to my worries about how draining the marketing parts of building a private practice can be, if I decided to be self-employed again.

Then, she quietly asked what felt like simple questions and held space as I went off and sorted through what was real, and what was me getting in my own way.

She helped me understand who I was: a highly sensitive (HSP) multipotentialite (also known as a Renaissance Soul, scanner, multipassionate) introvert and intuitive with a set of core values that mean I will always be drawn toward supporting people who are outliers – especially those who want to make a difference.

She helped me clearly see that I had a unique collection of tools, skills and experiences exquisitely made for helping people like me who were facing the disorienting dilemma of defining – or redefining – their professional identities.

After getting clearer about my foundational values, I decided to add a career development facilitator (CDF) certification to my masters in Human and Organizational Transformation. My education plus my years of mentoring sensitive, intuitive women gave me the final set of practical tools and resources to feel confident as a career coach for this very special group of people. 

I was so relieved! 

So, my starting over … again has birthed a new career coaching practice — as the kind of career coach I am uniquely made to be. Offering a coaching approach I am uniquely qualified to offer especially created to support highly sensitive (HSP), multipassionate, multipotentialites (Renaissance Souls), who, like me, are probably also quite intuitive and possibly introverts. Oh…and…yes…connection with nature will play a big part in the coaching process. (Anyone surprised?)

I’m also restarting my newsletter, seeding it with a mix of practical and spiritual support for self-discovery, resilience, self-care, career/work path strategy, job seeking strategies and more. It will be published (approximately) every two weeks. Real help. No overwhelm. Click here if you’d like to subscribe. 

I must not be normal.

I have a confession.

I’ve felt guilty for years because I haven’t found “THE THING”.

The one thing that was the perfect way to serve and live my purpose and be all I could be. That one true purpose everyone tells you you’re supposed to find.

Between the culture I live in (I’m in the U.S.) and my age (I’m in my 50’s) I’ve been well marinated in the version of “normal” that says we must choose one thing to do with our lives and stick with it, with grim determination if necessary. Hopping from thing to thing to thing is less desirable. Maybe even flighty or unreliable. Certainly not “normal.”

Codswallop.

The only thing of which I’m guilty is trying to be the wrong version of normal.

Years ago (like a decade or so) a friend suggested I read The Renaissance Soul. In true renaissance style, I read the book, found it fascinating, identified myself in its words, tucked that information into my toolkit, and moved on. Of course I did. That’s what we multipotentialed folks do. Inhale knowledge. Integrate it. Move on.

Here’s the problem.

Despite knowing myself to be a multipotentialite, I had internalized the “find your one true purpose, or pick one thing and stick with it” cultural myth. And, the myth was driving the bus. 

The cognitive dissonance drove me into what Transformative Learning calls a disorienting dilemma. What I love about being this disoriented is that it shakes me into stepping away from the insanity of trying to be “normal.” 🙂

I live in a constantly growing, changing network of knowledge, actions, skills and beliefs grounded in appreciative communion with nature with an intention of making life better for people and the planet. That broad sweep of possibilities is as close to a “one true purpose” as I come.

In the past decade in my business I have offered sacred circles, classes, mentoring, poetry, body and energy work, consulting, and writing in support of any aspect of making life better for the planet and people. In my writings, sessions, and classes I’ve tackled self-love, self-care, leadership, intuition, resilience, mindful presence, body image, the power of awe, the importance of paying attention to our senses and dozens more topics.

I crafted this kaleidoscope of services because I’m passionately in love with the earth and life and endlessly fascinated by the potential I perceive in the people I meet.

As a Renaissance Soul, I’m always learning new perspectives and skills.  This means the ways in which I serve my clients and my community are always growing and changing. 

I imagine some of you might be caught in the same “I must not be normal.” dilemma. So, with great respect and appreciation, I invite you to use your innate skills and wisdom to step outside the cultural myth and discover what normal looks like specifically for you. A job with side passions? An eclectic career path moving through a wide variety of positions and industries? Starting your own consulting business? Serial entrepreneur?

(And if you’re having a hard time figuring out what your normal looks like? Coaching can help. )

Occupy Your Resilience

A young redtail hawk has moved into the trees along our tiny stream.

His “screeee!” slices through my prevaricating when I’m untethered and floundering. I’m forced to stop chasing the monkeys in my mind and focus outward. To him.

He (I’m almost certain the hawk is a young male) hunts our wet meadow most days. Sitting on an empty oak branch, utterly still, it’s like he’s staging his own “Occupy” movement. “Occupy my hawkness.”

I’ve found that I really admire his dogged determination. He sat on that branch through the snows and ice storms of late winter, feathers puffed, head tucked. Occasionally dropping languidly to skim the surface of the piling snow and loop up on a different branch.

Unruffled. The hawk abides.

He takes what the ecosystem tosses his way, whether it’s sleet or slow-moving voles. Even the relentless crows who dog him as he hunts. He occupies. He trusts. He gives as good as he gets. Especially to any crow who gets careless when they tussle. (I know it’s unfair to take sides, but I’m usually pulling for him when they do.)

He is embedded in his ecosystem. He’s resilient.

The natural world is our most skilled teacher of all things resilience. To learn, though, it takes not just distant observation, but remembering that we are also nature. That through watching with empathy – through a kind of communion – we’re opening up access to our own native resilience skills.

Believe, use your native skills, persist.

Naturalists and scientists call it anthropomorphizing when we attribute human emotions and motivations to animals.

I call it exploring our kinship. Finding a way to relate. Finding a common vocabulary of gesture, action, body language, since, at least outwardly, we don’t share a spoken language. It takes reaching across a self-created, self-perpetuated, self-destructive chasm between people and nature to find what we need to create relationship: the commonalities.

Even when we as people cross that gulf through spiritual communication (animal and nature communicators do this) the very human, very tangible part of us craves observable, personally experienced connection. With my young hawk friend, our intuitive connection can’t replace how it feels for me to live with and see him thrive, despite what life tosses his way.

You see, deep inside I know – know –  that I’m related to that resilient, determined, aerial artist and his cousins. And through our kinship I have access to what he does natively — thrives despite sleet, deep snow, scarce food, and thieving crows. I see him find that in himself, and am sparked to find it in myself.

When he flourishes I believe I can, too.

“Where the fluffnarts are we?”

Is anyone else feeling a little smothered by, or impatient with, bigger than life drama? You can probably tell by my question that I am. Usually, I’m a pretty unflappable person (I’ve even been told that people feel more at peace when they’re around me — very grateful to know this), but like everyone I have my “enough” point, and I’m reaching it.

When I say bigger than life drama I mean our need – at least in the U.S. – to have something be presented as giant and catastrophic for us to pay attention to it.

Political rhetoric, entertainment (which are tragically becoming way too similar), news reporting, religious discussions, non-mainstream spiritual discussions, advertising… If someone isn’t throwing a temper tantrum (brides, celebrities, tattooed men building motorcycles) they’re trying to start or prevent something that will “destroy our way of life forever” (so tired of political ads and sound-bites).

It feels like we’re stuck in a groove of needing to be hyper-stimulated in order to bother showing up for our lives.

And, no, I don’t think getting irritated and ranting is necessarily a solution, especially since it’s, well, dramatic. I know some people stop watching, reading, listening to anything that feels disruptive. I’ve tried to do this, but telescoping my world smaller and smaller to avoid hyperbole doesn’t feel sustainable. I need to be engaged with my community — warts — hiccups — simple beauties and all. So, I obviously need to start with what I can affect. Me. With what I require from the world to be engaged and how I speak and write about the rhythms of our evolution. But, then I run into that pesky question, “How?”

How “fluffnarts” fit in…

A few weeks ago I took a different route when driving my daughter to a friend’s house. She was talking about her day at school as we wound down the tiny, wooded road. When she realized we were somewhere she didn’t recognize she blurted “Where the fluffnarts are we, Mom?”

“Fluffnarts?”

After a whole lot of laughter and some serious appreciation for her ability to pop new words into being in mid-sentence, I realized that the quality of our interaction had changed. We were both more present to each other, and to the Place where we were driving. We were having a more connected conversation, no drama necessary.

For the next few weeks I thought about how a new, deeper engagement with my daughter and with Place had happened simply because we both recognized that we were on a new road. I realized that this was one possible answer to the pesky “How?” question. A simple way into engaging our lives so we are fully present, fully aware, fully participating, without needing to create a big, huge, hairy drama.

The beauty of the road less traveled…

We don’t have to be in a world-ending cataclysm or life-transforming event to appreciate our lives. We’ve gone a little numb to what’s already here. Just life. Which can be BIG and DRAMATIC, but is usually most breathtakingly beautiful in it’s subtlest moments.

Rather than needing to be hyper-stimulated, what we need is to find a different path, or a new perspective on our current path.

My assignment for the coming year is to choose less traveled roads both real and metaphoric. To wander new roads and new ideas, to peer at old ideas with a new perspective.

My intention is to appreciate what’s been quietly there in my life all along by perceiving it in a new way. I might use a different sense to appreciate it. For example, sitting and listening to my garden with my eyes closed. Or drop judgements, assumptions, and “shoulds” so I can listen more deeply to someone and truly hear both what they are saying and how they are saying it without my need to be right obliterating what they are communicating. I will speak in terms of wonder, awe and appreciation without needing drama or chaos to draw me in, or draw others to me.

What am I doing about the bigger than life dramas happening around me? Bringing curiosity to them. Looking at them through the lenses of beginner’s eyes. Encouraging people who are starting drama-less conversations of their own by joining in. Starting a few drama-less conversations myself.

What do you think? Are you willing to take a road less traveled and ask yourself “Where the fluffnarts are we?” I’d love for you to join the conversation 🙂

Updated, rewritten and republished January 1, 2017. Originally published May 31, 2012.