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26 June 2008

Trust yourself

Trust_yourself It is by logic we prove. It is by intuition we discover. -Henri Poincare

Recently, I was asked to speak to a class of seniors at my alma mater, Guilford College. After the class convened, we set out across campus and hiked a short distance into the woods on campus. At a clearing, we sat on the ground to talk. I was still reeling from the shock that I was now old enough to address the topic the professor had submitted to me--"From your vantage point now, what advice would you give to your 21-year-old self?"--but I recovered.

And so I began, there in the woods, in the cold, talking. I'€™m a big believer in "organizing principles," and so had crafted my remarks around the "€œsix practices for intentional living" that I discovered in writing 37days for the past three years: Say yes, Be generous, Speak up, Love more, Slow down, and Trust yourself.

I told a short story to illustrate each piece of advice.

It was when I got to "€œtrust yourself" that I told a story I had never really told, one that surprised me:

It is so easy to discount your own intuition and "œknowing." Sometimes it even takes years to get back to yourself after doing so. Let me give you an example.

After my first book was published, I waited and waited for the box of books I would receive from the publisher. My first book! How exciting! The box arrived. I ripped into it, and I felt absolutely nothing when I saw the book. Nothing. It was as if the book wasn'€™t mine.

I should have learned something from that experience. I should have trusted my reaction and run far away from that work. But I didn'€™t. After all, the book was named a Fortune magazine "best business book." Speech offers came flooding in. By all external accounts, it was successful. I felt nothing.

I should have paid attention to that feeling, but I didn't.

And so I wrote another business book. The box arrived from the publisher'€™s and I opened it, quietly putting a copy on my shelf beside the first book, and closing the lid.


Only then did I realize: this is not mine to do in the world. Just because I'm good at it doesn't make it my life's work. I have something else, something more real to me, more connected and mine and human, to do. And so I began writing

So my advice to you is this: trust yourself. What you feel is telling you something. Pay attention to your gut. Internalize your intention. Don'€™t go for the press coverage. Go for the intention. Risk your significance.

Fedex Today, I received a FedEx package with one advance copy of LIFE IS A VERB in it. Having stalked the nice FedEx man all morning, after it finally arrived I sat and looked at the package for an hour, then bundled Tess into the car and sped to Mr Brilliant's shop downtown.

We sat and looked at the FedEx package for a while, and then opened it.

Book It is deeply beautiful, beyond my wildest dreams. It is my daughters' book, and it is deeply yours. Shaped by the amazing support and feedback from 37days readers, and written with the clearest intention I have ever had in my life: Create an instruction manual on how to live a rich, intentional life for my daughters so they will have it after I die. In the process, I myself learned how to live that life.

Book_inside_cover It is a work of art. Truly. My thanks to those 37days readers who so beautifully illustrated it with art and poetry. We can all be proud of this one. This one, I deeply love.

Tess_book_cover_2 Tess has also written a book. Its cover is a recycled graham cracker box held together with twist ties. Tess_book3_2 She has labored studiously over it for the past three days. It is the story of going to the dog park, and then home again,Tess_book4_2 a journey through her day. She carries it with her everywhere. This one, she deeply loves.


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I am so happy and excited for you! You truly deserve all the best that life has to offer, Patti. Thanks for making the world a better place for all of us! =D

I knew there was a reason I raised my monkey mind out of bed and came back to the computer...and to your Twitter stream. I don't know what makes me more teary (my heart spilling over its edges)...your words ("Risk your significance.")...the glimpse of that gorgeous book (such communal love bound within those pages)...or Tess's masterpiece (I'd carry it with me, too.) As always, JUST what I this moment.

Reading your last post gave me shivers. I have been reading your 37 days for a while now, and I am happy for you, and for all the rest of us that will have this wonderful chance to read it.
Thank you, Patti, for trusting yourself.

I can say I honestly have tears in my eyes for you, Patti!!! Congrats!

Congratulations Patti! You are so right and so wise. How wonderful for Tess too-Congratulations to her for her lovely book. We do know down deep what matters to us and you are so right that we have to trust ourselves. So often we look outwardly for those affirmations when we carry it within us. Thank you and I am inspired to continuing doing my own work. Namaste

Yay, Patti! And go, Tess! I wrote my first book when I was eight. I should dig a copy out of my parents' attic and do something meaningful with it. :) Thank you for this blog. It's inspiring and nudges me gently, reminding me to be mindful. Blessed Be! :)

Patti, a million congratulations. And thanks. You've already been a catalyst in one major life change, and thanks to you, I'm now beginning to plan another one. The "significant work" I need to do in this world is still nebulous, still taking shape in my mind. But I know I need to figure it out and do it, and I will, thanks in no small part to your wisdom and beautiful example.

great post, patti!

and congratulations! how wonderful to hold something in your hands that is a dream come true.

i love tess's book too. adorable.

Woohoo Patti! Congratulations!! I am so happy for you. Yet another timely essay. Love Tess' book, what a treasure!

Raising a barn takes a lot out of you.

Looking at the barn in all its beauty at the end of the day puts a lot back into you.

Good to see you raised the "right barn" this time with this book.

Rejoicing with you.

Keep creating,

The book is, indeed, gorgeous, Patti, and what a great idea to take it to John's shop so you could both be in that intensity of feeling together as you opened it.

My only regret is missing the chance to have helped Tess eat all those Honey Maid Grahams so she could have a cover for her book. I love them!


I can't wait to have my copy in my hot little hands....

Congratulations on creating something (else) you love.

We have all been soaking you up, this wisdom that comes from someone on her right path... I am so happy that, with the arrival of the book, you had a separate moment to feel it all. Exhilarating!

Just so, so happy for you.

I had to pop over and leave my congratulations as well!!! I look forward to September when I can curl up with your book in my own hands.

Blessings galore!

CONGRATULATIONS Patti! I am so thrilled, excited and happy for you. I have not kept up with the blog, but when I need a "lift" I come here. And you always make my spirits soar. Thank you so very much. This is probably my second comment in your space and the first ever in cyberspace with my real name.

I cannot wait for the book.

I recently sat in on a lecture by Charlie Engle, ultra-athlete and star of the upcoming film "Running the Sahara." He made a lot of great points that hit home with me. His question to us: Which comes first, passion or success? Are we passionate about things because we're good at them, or are we good at things because we're passionate about them?

I've found that I'm happiest in life when I pursue the things I'm passionate about - I tend to realize success in those endeavors, and enjoy the process of trial and error, learning, and growth! Keep following your passions! Listen to that inner voice! Trust your gut! And keep up the good work. :-) Thanks for another great post.

I'm glad you finally listened to your intuition, Patti. While global diversity in business is an important subject to many people, the business of living mindfully is relevant and essential to everyone. Thanks for sharing your words and insights with the world - and me.

Hi there Patti

I've had the same experience as you on getting hold of my published books - no feelings whatsoever (they are children's information books). This has largely been because so much work has gone into them that I am over them by that stage, but I've also been aware it has been because doing that is not REALLY important to me. My blog, on the other hand…

Good on you for publishing a book you are excited about!

Cheers - Robin

Trust yourself. When I think of those words, I see large hands cradling me, holding me dear... and those hands are my own. I've been moving toward that - and your work has helped. Thank you for being you in the world.

I'm imagining this was you, on that happy FedEx day:


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