Episode 21 Create Your Own Future

February 17, 2023

One of the first people who reached out to me when I launched Dear Constance is an old colleague. We worked at Gucci together during a very intense period. There is a certain bond between people that were in Gucci in those years, and we always take each other’s calls.

This is a woman I wouldn’t recognize if I ran into her on the street, but I like the way she reached out. I like that she gave me permission to say no. I especially liked that when she told me she wanted to talk about a work conundrum, she showed a lot of self-awareness by saying that it was actually a life conundrum. Of course our work and our personal lives are extremely interconnected. Inseparable, actually. So we get on the call and she basically starts telling me that her current job is ending in April, that she has some health issues that she’d like to address and that she’s afraid to stop working. That’s the net net. She told me she was embarrassed when people ask her what she was going to do next –  and these are people asking with sincere curiosity – that she doesn’t have answer. We had a long, far-reaching conversation that tied into the dynamics in her marriage, the dynamics with her father, and the fact that they relate very beautifully. A lot of their intimacy and conversation and exchange is about her career and her accomplishments. Word is such a big part of her identity, the thought of not working makes her sad, but that little voice inside of her is telling her to pause. This woman’s 45.

Lots of important things came out of that conversation. One was the bundling of the various aspects. When we bundle things together – the kids, the money, what other people think, the relationship with our partner – no wonder she can’t come to a clear, calm decision.  It’s completely overwhelming. So we talked about unbundling the pieces, and we talked about finding language around how to respond when people ask her what she’s going to do so that she can deflect what she’s experiencing as negative questioning. Eventually we got into a really interesting conversation about how she might explore her incredible intellectual curiosity. How she could design interesting activities to do with her children.

It reminded me of something that happened to me when I was about 39.  I was running through the Minneapolis airport, Minneapolis being an important hub between Milan and Montana where my parents lived at the time. I’m schlepping through the airport and I go by this indie bookstore and on the display outside I see a book called’ ‘Create Your Own Future’. The title completely stopped me in my tracks. I immediately went in and bought the book. I didn’t have any idea what it was about. I didn’t even look at it. I just loved the title.  Once I got on the plane and got settled, I sat down and opened the book and within minutes I was in a heap of tears. This is a true story, and it really changed my life.

I’m a generally happy person. I liked my job and I was very proud of myself that I had gotten divorced and  was in a happy place in my life, more or less. But that book title and the questions right from the get go were what do you love? Where do you see yourself in five years? If you could have anything, what would it be? Those kinds of questions that are very far reaching made me realize that I had gone on autopilot. I didn’t have the answers. I had strayed far away from everything I was taught as a child by my father around the power of the mind, being goal-oriented, being clear on what you want. It left me feeling very sad but it was a catalyst. When I got back to Milan, my sister sent me Julia Cameron’s book ‘The Artist’s Way’ and I started doing morning pages the second I woke up to clear my head. Then I would make a cup of coffee and one by one I went through each chapter of the book ‘Create Your Own Future’.

Now I’m not recommending that book. It’s really old but the point of the story is that it got me to downshift. It got me off autopilot. It put me back in the driver’s seat of my life. I went through each exercise very deliberately and I thought through the questions.

I think I would say that was the beginning of my appreciation for what it means to have a quiet practice. I was one of those people that rolled their eyes when people talked about their meditation practice and their yoga practice. So I call it a quiet practice because it doesn’t matter what form it takes, it’s about the deliberate nature of creating an expansive space where you can hear your own voice. Where you can wonder and wander and tune into your intuition.

In my case, that book was my first real morning practice and it completely changed my life. I designed a sabbatical for myself. It was the early days of the internet, and I was so proud of myself that I found a house swap site and I did a house exchange with a man in San Francisco. He took my Milan apartment and off I went to create my own future.

The thing is, in my conversation with this woman yesterday we were very tactical and I was sharing a lot of ideas and food for thought, and I know it was constructive for her. But when I woke up this morning, the first thing that came to my mind were things that I forgot to mention. So I dropped her a WhatsApp message and I said, I enjoyed our conversation and here are the two things I wanted to say. I think it would be a good idea to do anything you can to get back in your body because I think you may be a little bit addicted to work. That’s a thing. Being addicted to the adrenaline of work, and being needed, and intellectual stimulation. Whatever. It really can be addicting.  I know. I’ve been in that mode. The other thing I told her was exactly what I just shared here which is that creating a quiet practice, whatever that looks like, so that she can hear her own voice, capture her thoughts, and carve out a path for herself, was probably the single most important thing that I forgot to mention.

I don’t know if this is helpful to anyone, but I hope that if you take away nothing else it’s that the deliberate practice of spacious quiet can be incredibly ripe. Mostly because it takes you back to your own voice and your own inner knowingness, which we all stray from. It certainly isn’t a once and done type of thing. That’s why it’s called a practice

That’s all for now. Until next time, from my heart to yours.

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dear Listeners,

Friends say I live my life out loud. That’s because I’m a curious, adventurous person and, as an appreciator, I simply love to share what lights me up. Consider this is your invitation into my fun, multi-faceted world.

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“Speaking with Constance helped me to see myself  – and my experience –with fresh perspective.  I got great clarity and completely shifted gears. She totally got it. The experience fully re-energized me.”

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