Gold with Jeanette Schneider Episode 3: The Space Between Lives with Amber Lilyestrom

Gold with Jeanette Schneider

Today I am joined by Amber Lilyestrom and I cannot wait for you to hear this episode. It is full of soul and heart and I’m learning you can’t walk away from a conversation with Amber without feeling like you’ve changed for the better. 

Amber Lilyestrom is a transformational branding strategist and business coach, author and speaker. She has been featured by Entrepreneur, Mentorbox and Working Mother Magazine and is the host of The Amber Lilyestrom Show podcast. She is the creator of the Ignite Your Soul Summit annual live event in Portsmouth, NH and multiple life-changing online programs. She helps entrepreneurs turn their passions in to heart-centered brands and thriving businesses.

Amber’s mission is to empower women to position themselves as sought-after experts and thought leaders through the creation of an online brand presence. Her transformational mindset work sets her apart in an industry focused on a strategy-first, inner work later approach. She’s worked with thousands of women worldwide building a seven-figure business from home, while also homeschooling her daughter with her husband and business partner, Ben.

Amber spent 10 years working in collegiate athletics marketing before launching her business. She managed the University of New Hampshire Wildcats brand, taught sports marketing and mentored student interns. She was recognized as one of the top sports marketing professionals in the nation and left her corporate career after a near-death experience that served as the catalyst for her to transform her life from the inside out. 

We are going to talk about that near-death experience during childbirth, and what Amber called “the space between motherhood and her death.” You are going to hang on to every word and I hope you click off of this episode a changed human being.

Amber’s words will become etched on your heart, “If a dream is in you, it is for you.”

Please check her out on Instagram @amberlilyestrom and follow her podcast The Amber Lilyestrom Show. She’s dropping gold on the regular.

If you want some help moving toward that intentional life, join me every week on my intention journey. I’m inviting you. Totally free. From my heart to your inbox. Sign up for my love notes at jeanetteschneider.com and before you even wake up on Monday mornings there will be a huge dose of motivation waiting for you. Yes, I will wake you up on Monday morning with intention setting prompts and give you some tips as to what is setting my soul on fire. On Fridays I’m going to remind you to let go, recharge, and love yourself up with some self care prompts to get present in your down time. Intentional living is where it’s at, y’all!

As always, please subscribe to this podcast, leave a review and don’t forget to share with your friends. I’m always interested in content that uplifts, so if you have things you’d like to hear about, please share them with me in the comments. You can also find me on Instagram @ms.jeanetteschneider or Twitter @msjwrites. 

If you’d like to get deep in the work with me, pick up my book LORE: Harnessing Your Past to Create Your Future now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. com

Until next time – in the words of my grandma, “Love each other every day.”

Unraveling: The Messy Business of Letting Go

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I am currently between lives. In the best way possible, so it stunned me when I found out that changing careers would bring about a bit of a catharsis.

There are a lot of cliches being thrown at me about endings, beginnings and letting go. I want to shake the people and say, “I may be just a number to you, a cog in the wheel, a person who took up space, but this was my LIFE.”

Or more correctly, my identity.

This process of unraveling has helped me understand that in the end, it is the person moving on who has wrapped their identity in their title, their paycheck, their perception of their own value. It was my choice to change gears, and don’t get me wrong, I am inordinately excited about what is next. But, there is the withering away, the dying of the aspiration to achieve this career that is ending, the closing up of the office you once walked into with big eyes and a sense of utter accomplishment. But you got used to coming into that office and sitting at that desk, and it lost its shine. You realized there is something bigger for you than that desk, and the chair you spun around in, and the view you had out of your window.

Then one day you pack up that office and it feels…. like a little death.

You are dying to the you that you imagined in other daydreams, other vision boards, other meditations, and visualizations. You are dying to the person you built with blood, sweat, tears and a hell of a lot of regulatory permissions and licenses. You built something, but you are dismantling it. On purpose.

And you grieve alone.

A business, an institution, does not have the ability to grieve you in the same way you grieve who you have become within their hallways and offices.

In the process of the dying is the birth of new. The renewed excitement as the seedlings take root. The realization that I may just have a style that doesn’t include lined dresses and razor-sharp high heels. The realization that I don’t have to spend so much energy figuring out how to hide the tattoo I thought was such a great idea when I was 22, but that I’ve spent my career disavowing and hiding under well-placed straps and high backs, never wearing white.

I thought that maybe I should get a new tattoo to mark my new life, which caused my boyfriend to look at me sideways, “This is a career change, not a life crisis, right?”

I suggested it only be a half sleeve of the dragon I’m becoming and then he breathed really heavy as I laughed, “Just a little word or something, something small, that means something big to me.”

I’m not married to the tattoo. It was a waxing and waning moment that reminded me I’m still a rebellious teen somewhere in there, my parents would not be surprised. What I am married to is the new. This big, beautiful new life that I am building with one word, comma, and paragraph at a time. This new platform where I get to say the things that burn within my chest to help even one girl or woman at a time to be the biggest, baddest versions of themselves.

This new life I am choosing.

It always comes down to choice.

Once upon a time, I chose a path that I explored, and God I made it something. There were castles and beautiful hills, and yes, some treacherous valleys, but I chose and then I created.

Now, I’m choosing again and I have faith in the power of my choices and my ability to co-create with that which is bigger than I am.

So, I will die the deaths and unravel. I will surrender to what is pulling me through to the other side. It will be messy and glorious much like childbirth – ugly and magical all the same.

In my unraveling is brilliance, faith, and choice and to be honest….

I can’t wait to meet the version of myself I am becoming.

 

The Best Things In Life: Moving Toward Purpose

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“What is the best thing that has ever happened to you?

It is a question that continues to surface. I’ve answered it a thousand times, yet, again and again, when life seems difficult, it arises. I’ve included it in my book as a guidepost when understanding self, and offer it as same in workshops I’ve facilitated.

Yet, here I am again, ruminating on the same question.

At first, and much like most parents, I immediately answered, “My daughter,” when I thought about the best events or experiences in my life. Becoming Olivia’s mother, has been the best, albeit hardest, thing I’ve ever done. This little person made me a mother and a much better woman. I am calmer, more insightful, and conscious of the being I’m gifting to the world. When once asked what my job is, she told her teacher, “My mom is my guide and protector.”

Olivia knows I’m a banker and an author, but to her, my job is far more complex and soulful. I have written since I was thirteen years old, but becoming her mother created a focus I never had before. I always knew my words were powerful, but raising a girl in a world made for men gave them direction and clarity.

The next thing that came to mind was my faith. I was raised in a very religious family, but never once felt as if I was connected to the God of my childhood. Everything was rote, prayers were memorized, allegiances feigned. It wasn’t until I was in my twenties and someone asked, “Jeanette, you keep saying ‘I was taught to believe.’ What do you believe?” that I realized I had no foundation of faith.  I was stunned, “I’ve been told what to believe my entire life. I have no idea.”

I was connected to nothing. I was jealous of those who would kneel before alters or offer their supplications to a God I couldn’t wrap my head around. I wondered what it was like to have that feeling and to believe in something. Then, in a very quick span of time I lost three friends in death, one to the messiness of life, and my husband in divorce. I needed to hurt, to bleed my stories and be stripped down to the flesh and marrow before I was ready or able to fully open myself up to something bigger than me. I have often said, “I found my faith,” but it would be more correct to say that faith found me and has not let me go.

The third best thing that has ever happened to me was finding my voice. They say you pick your parents. If I did, I picked a mother who kept me small, quiet and frightened, so that I could rise above, squeak, warble and then sing. I had to be held tight, silenced and shushed so that I could truly understand the power behind the words that sit so deeply within my chest. She once asked me not to write about her when I’d posted about being raised in the shadow of addiction. Rather than fight, I asked her to allow me to own my story. She thought I was writing about her, not realizing that she gifted me this story as it was the framework of my childhood. I’d received three messages from women who were also raised by alcoholics and addicts just that day, thanking me for finding the words they themselves couldn’t. I shared that with my mother, explaining that by using my voice I’d helped someone else.

My voice, it seems, is my most powerful attribute.

I have words within my veins like lace and cobwebs. They were put there by something bigger than me and they want desperately to be seen and heard. It has been through my daughter, my faith and my voice that they have found their way out of me and onto the page, the stage and into the hearts of others.

The best things that ever happened to me brought me to my purpose.

Now tell me, what is the best thing that ever happened to you?

Xo,

J

Dear Daydreamers by Tracy Brogan

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I love this letter.

Fine, I love all the letters, but that’s because I know the intention of them. I know the notes that come in from readers who feel as if someone has walked around in their head or let them in just a little, I had no idea. I know that women around the country are working on their letters, hoping their voices, struggles and triumphs may help another. I also know there’s a teacher out there that has turned this into a project for her students.

Everyone asks, “What do I write?”

Write from your heart.

I can’t wait to share Love Letters from Readers. From moms, from daughters, from little girls to their moms and grandmas, from grandmas to the littles they see opening their eyes in a much different world. Boys are welcome to join us as well, who do you celebrate and why? What do you want us to know? There is so much wisdom and good intention in the world. Let’s dig into it.

If there are any teachers out there that would like to include letters from their students, please share!

Please email your questions, comments and love letters to loreandlittlethings@gmail.com.

We’re waiting.

I find I’ve had a reason for loving each letter and the reason I love Tracy’s is because I was with her at the first writer’s conference she mentions in her letter. I was there at the hotel cafe the day she walked in and acted as if the meeting of the agents was only a step in the achievement of her dream, This lady is determined. We stood outside the New York Public Library and announced our books would be on those shelves one day. She bet she’d get there first. She was right.

I had no idea that in the realization of her dream she would be subject to something we all struggle with and I thank her for sharing.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Tracy Brogan

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Dear Daydream Believers – and Those Who Aren’t,

It’s an honor to share this space with you and I hope what I have to say is helpful. My advice is from the heart, and if it touches yours then I’ll feel that I have done my job.

Today I am wearing a silver bracelet with three words engraved on it. Imagine. Believe, Achieve. If I ever actually get a tattoo, that’s what it will say – in some sort of artsy, elegant, and hopefully painless, font.

Imagine. Believe. Achieve.

Individually, the words and their meaning are beautiful. Strung together, they form a philosophy that has impacted my life immeasurably.

Here’s how…

From the age of fourteen onward I started telling people I was going to write a book someday. I told high school friends, college friends, co-workers. I told my husband on our first date. But I never really believed it when I said it. Not deep down – down inside the secret place where we keep our true, vulnerable selves. Because I wasn’t an author. Not like a real author.

Sure, I had endless story ideas swirling, twirling in my brain like cotton candy, but just as spun sugar is apt to be, the ideas were thin, translucent, only slightly sticky. There was never enough substance. Nothing I could grab onto or sink my writerly teeth into, and after a while the ideas would melt away and I’d be on to something else.

But always I had the hope of becoming an author. Someday.

Some might say hope without action is just a dream. A hollow wish.

Okay.

Sure.

Maybe.

But it’s still a good place to start, right? Because if you can’t even imagine something, how can you ever create it? How can you move toward a dream if you don’t know what it looks like?

So a few years ago (okay, several years ago) when I saw that engraved bracelet at a craft show bearing the words imagine, believe, achieve I decided to buy it.

And then I did something foolishly, naively miraculous. I decided to live it.

This was a mind-bendingly provocative action on my part. As a recovering Irish-Catholic-Capricorn-Midwesterner, I’m not prone to indulging in flights of fancy. Whims are not my thing. But I decided, for once, to gift myself permission to imagine all the possibilities. The plausible. The far-fetched. All the impossible possibilities that were certainly far beyond my grasp.

“What if” became my question for everything. What if I really put the time into writing a book? What if I committed to finishing a manuscript? What if I actually sent it out into the world? My pragmatic brain was quick to point out all the reasons why these things were pointless, but I’d look at my bracelet and remind myself to imagine it all working out. The line between fantasy and goal-setting became blurred.

After some practice, the imagining became second nature. I indulged it, nurtured it, enjoyed it. But the next part was infinitely harder. To believe. I had to give myself permission to believe in possibility, too.

I have a friend who says, “Self-delusion is so much more productive than self-doubt.” She was kidding, mostly, but the phrase stuck with me – because it’s true. Self-doubt means you’ve failed before you’ve even begun and that’s where so many of us get stuck. So I fought against that insecurity and forged ahead in my blissful ignorance. And yes, I was very probably delusional when I sat down in 2010 and finally decided yes, I could write a book. I was definitely wearing Santa-sized crazy-pants when I signed up for my first writer’s conference in New York city a few months later. And I was certainly quite, quite insane when I submitted my first completed manuscript to literary agents.

But guess what? All the crazysauce paid off.

In 2012, my first book was published, followed by five more.  And I have a contract for another five books to come out over the next few years.

So I should be wicked proud of myself, right? I should feel gloriously accomplished. Because technically, I am accomplished. I imagined it, and I achieved it. I worked hard, and learned innumerable lessons along the way because back when I started this journey I didn’t even know what I didn’t even know. Now I do. I know what it takes to write a book, I know how hard it is, and I know I can do it.

But here’s the most fascinating thing. A slightly diabolical and sad thing, too. It’s virtually impossible for me to embrace the accomplishment. To own it. To believe in me. You see, it turns out that even after achieving a dream, the believing part doesn’t always come naturally. In spite of my efforts, in spite of what I’ve learned, and in spite of my success, the only one who still struggles to believe in me is me. Deep down I feel as if I’ve just gotten lucky. Although I’m grateful for my success, I don’t feel deserving of it. And that fear of being discovered as a fraud, a person only posing as a bestselling author, is paralyzing.

In her book, THE GIFTS OF IMPERFECTION, author and researcher Brene Brown talks about how so many of us “hustle for our worthiness.” We shift from feeling unworthy to asking ourselves who do you think you are?  Sounds as if we are screwed either way, but don’t worry. There is a solution. Brown goes on to say that in order to halt that emotional pendulum from swinging between self-doubt and fear of arrogance, we need to trust deep down in our soul that we are worthy. Whether we succeed or fail, we are worthy of love, attention, recognition, and belonging. Living in an age of air-brushed perfection and endless Facebook posts about other people’s good fortune, it can be difficult to believe we are equally entitled, equally beautiful, equally valuable. But we are. So if there is any message I would want to send out to other women, it’s this:

You can fake it ‘til you make it, but until you believe you are worthy of all your big dreams, they’ll still feel shallow even when you achieve them.

The good news is, you are worthy. No matter what it is that you want, you ARE worthy of it. Of course you are! You are beautiful and unique and never in the history of ever has there been another person just like you. And never again in the future of forever will there be another soul just like yours. The world needs you. It really, really does. So make the most of that.

Yes, life can be a glorious, sometimes unattractive mess, and sometimes it’s easy to feel that that everyone else is smarter/funnier/skinnier but so what? Stop comparing yourself to them. They’re not YOU. Their journey is their journey. Your journey is YOURS. Focus on yours. Focus on your dreams. Your big, Big, BIG dreams, and your little, tiny, sweet dreams, too. Imagine it all and believe that whatever you crave is within your grasp. Believe it’s possible. But most of all, believe you deserve it. Because you do.

Big love to you,

Tracy

Amazon and Wall Street Journal Bestselling author Tracy Brogan writes fun, funny stories about ordinary people finding extraordinary love. She’s a two-time Romance Writers of America® RITA award nominee for Best First Book in 2013, and Best Contemporary Romance in 2015, a Booksellers Best winner, and a three-time Golden Quill winner in both contemporary and historical romance. Her books have been translated into several languages including German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Hebrew, and Japanese, and have placed in the Amazon Top 100 bestsellers list in both 2013 and 2014. She’s honored to have received the Amazon Publishing Diamond Award for sales exceeding one million copies. Her most recent release, a Christmas novella titled JINGLE BELL HARBOR, is now available exclusively on Kindle. Brogan lives in Michigan with her bemused husband, her well-above-average children, and their mindlessly hedonistic dogs.

You can find Tracy Brogan at www.tracybrogan.com.